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jungkxook · 8 months ago
—hot boy bummer. (m)
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⟶ pairing: jungkook x reader 
⟶ genre: fuckboy!jungkook / friends with benefits / friends to lovers + smut  
⟶ words: 14,633
⟶ rating: 18+ 
⟶ summary: when jungkook offers you a proposition of just sex, no strings attached, how can you possibly say no? after all, what are best friends for?
⟶ warnings: kind of a crack fic, sprinkle of angst, way too casual conversations mid-sex, jealous jungkook, slight himbo jungkook tbh (he’s kind of a sweet loveable idiot), he also has a big dick oops, man bun and blonde jungkook to feed my fantasies!, multiple smut scenes!!!, missionary, dry humping, oral sex (m receiving), face fucking, unprotected sex, slight degradation (mostly jungkook hating himself), brief name calling, light choking, sort of praise kink
⟶ note: this was inspired by a number of things but mainly do me by kim petras being on jungkook’s spotify playlist, this tiktok sound, and this tumblr post lol also big thank you to @bratkook​ and @onherwings​ for letting me ramble on about this fic and reigniting my inspo for it 💛
( p.s. i tried to proofread this but if y’all see any typos no u didn’t, thank u <3 )
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Being friends with Jungkook meant a myriad of things but mainly that there were hardly ever any boundaries that stood between you and him.
Having known him for most of your life, it was just a quintessential part of yours and his relationship with one another. From high school parties where you drunkenly spewed on his shoes and in his dad’s car after he tried lugging you home (and taking the fall all himself for your sake) to letting him lose his virginity in your bed to some girl you didn’t know because your parents were out of town and his would crucify him on the spot if they had found out; or him discovering your stash of vibrators in your dorm one day, or seeing each other naked more often than was probably necessary, there was nothing that either of you could do that would phase the other at this point even when it maybe, probably, definitely should.
College, and Jungkook’s sudden six pack of hard rock abs, only seemed to amplify the chaos of your friendship. If you’re being honest, the abs are sort of a plus ━ but they brought an air of fuckboy to him that is undeniably there even if he tries to deny it sometimes. You suppose it isn’t all his fault. Jungkook has always been bold and brash, attractively charming. Considering he’s seemingly made it his mission to sleep with every girl on campus before he graduates (undisclosed, if you’re being honest, because he’s never outwardly admitted it but you have a hunch), his confidence somehow hasn’t failed him yet.
But then there’s one night in which you think to yourself briefly: this surely must draw some sort of line.
“What if we, like, had sex?”
Jungkook says this a little too casually from beside you. He’s sat on the couch in his dorm, scrolling aimlessly on his phone, and you’re sprawled out on the remaining space, feet kicked up in his lap. You’re positive he’s drunk but, then again, so are you. The remnant shot glasses of soju you had both started the night with (though you think Jungkook’s had half the bottle himself), and your second glass of wine, are all evidence of that. You’re so absorbed by some anime Jungkook had been watching upon your arrival and refused to change that you almost don’t hear what he says. Almost. You do, however, nearly choke on the gummy bear you’ve just tossed into your mouth.
After a sudden hysterical fit of coughs, you manage to sputter, “Excuse me?”
“Like, hypothetically speaking.” He hardly budges when you turn to gawk at him, as if he’s asking you something as casual as what to eat for dinner or if you could pass him the T.V. remote. “Except, not really hypothetically.”
“You’re joking, right?” You scoff.
Jungkook blinks. “No. Why would I be joking?”
You blink. The longer you stare at him, the quicker you’re able to discern that there’s some sort of earnesty in his words and it slightly concerns you. Suddenly, you’re warm in the face. To distract from that painfully obvious fact, an incredulous laugh bubbles at your lips and you kick one of your feet at his thighs. “Very funny, Koo. Can we change the show now if you’re not even watching it?”
“I’m not joking, Y/N.” The severity in his tone makes you sit up at once. When you turn to look at him, he flashes you a taunting smirk, though the devious sparkle in his eyes lets you know this seems to be anything but a joke to him. “I’m sure you’ve thought of me naked before.”
“You’re such a fucking idiot━” Okay, so maybe you have thought of him naked before but how is it your fault when you literally have seen him naked before, and he’s so unabashed around you? “Should I bring you to a hospital to get your head checked, or━?”
“Just hear me out━” Now, he pushes himself to the edge of the sofa. “Why are you here right now?”
“In life? Because I honestly have no clue━”
“No, I meant here. Getting drunk in my apartment on a Friday night instead of getting railed.”
“Okay, I didn’t ask to get called out like that,” You grumble stiffly. “And because you’re my best friend, and I like spending time with you.” It’s not entirely a lie, because you would much rather spend time with Jungkook than anyone else. But when you feel his eyes boring into you in a look of scrutiny, your lips form into a pout which you try to hide by puckering them. “Also because boys are stupid and Hoseok’s blind date stood me up. Again.”
The events from hours earlier resurface in your memory, in which you had spent all evening making yourself look pretty for a boy you had only talked to through text that your roommate had introduced you to, only to arrive to the restaurant you were supposed to be meeting at and waiting there for half an hour by yourself before the boy had sent you a message saying something along the lines of “something came up, hope we can reschedule,” filing it under one of the lamest excuses you’ve ever heard because it hardly even borders on a valid excuse. It’s what had ultimately made you storm into Jungkook’s apartment an hour ago, exclaiming aloud as a greeting with a simple yet scarily cheerful I hate men! because Jungkook knows all about your plights with finding a significant other (or even just someone decent enough to open your legs to), usually lamenting men’s inability to have any emotions. Even the ones who you think are respectable enough, who say they’re fine not having sex on the first date, usually tend to flee right after you finally let them in because sex, as you come to find, seems to be all that men care about.
Admittedly, Jungkook is not any different.
“But it’s not like you’re any better.”
This seems to personally offend Jungkook. He looks at you cynically. “Me?”
“Tell me why you’re here with me on a Friday night when you’re literally one of the hottest guys on campus,” You point out. “You can get any girl, and yet you somehow manage to ruin it every single time. Like with Eunha.”
Jungkook winces. The poor Eunha in question is a pretty girl from your chem class, whomst Jungkook had somehow managed to charm. From what you know, they had hooked up a handful of times before that fateful night in which Jungkook had abruptly broken things off with her. If you’re being honest, he’s not a total monster. The only thing that seems to scare him away is when a girl asks to cuddle him in the morning or talks about the prospective future together. He doesn’t want to hurt them, he told you once before, and finds it much easier to nip any potential relationship in the bud before it can get too far, too out of control.
“We literally only slept together three times anyway and we never went out,” Jungkook points out. “What’s the big deal?”
A roll of your eyes doesn’t go unnoticed by Jungkook. “Yeah, it’s not her fault you’re scared of commitment.”
“Nu’uh,” The boy sulks. “I’m only scared of realistic things, like microwaves.”
A snort bubbles at your lips, and it’s frustrating how adorable he finds the simple action. Rather than entertain the thought of his irrational fear of kitchen appliances (because you’ve heard it all before, and you still can’t find where he was incited with the terror of an exploding microwave), you sit up.
“Jungkook, I don’t even like you like that.”
“I don’t like you like that either. That’s why it’s so perfect!” Jungkook says brightly. “Look, we know each other better than anyone else ever could. We’re already comfortable with each other. We don’t have to go through all that boring small talk. All I’m saying is we could give it a try. No relationship, no emotions, just sex.”
You consider the thought for a moment, weigh the pros and cons in your head.
The cons? He’s your best friend.
The pros? He’s your best friend, and he’s hot.
Truthfully, your slightly buzzed mind can find very little to dissuade you away from the inviting proposition and maybe that’s why you begin to entertain the idea. And, sure, you had just complained profusely about how men sometimes only used you for sex, but it’s not like you don’t have needs too. You just don’t have the gusto in you anymore to spend days on a boy who will only just leave you the moment you let him have sex with you. At least with Jungkook, he’s already offering you a blatant deal of sex only and you know you won’t have to worry about him breaking your heart; and he doesn’t have to worry about the dreaded dreamy post-sex cuddle talk of a future family and babies and a white picket-fence home. It’s a win-win for the both of you, really. Or maybe you’re just telling yourself that.
“How would we even start?” You ask finally. “I mean… Do you even find me attractive enough in that way?”
“Yeah.” Jungkook hardly bats a lash. He meets your stare, licks slowly at his lower lip. When he sees the cross look of disbelief scrunching at your face, he hastens to respond. “I’m not blind. You’re fucking drop dead gorgeous, Y/N.”
“But physically attractive? I’m no hot girl Eunha.”
“If I wanted Eunha, I’d be between her legs right now. Y/N, of course I think you’re attractive.” A gentle sliver of a smile dances upon his lips. He leans his head on the back of the couch, eyes fluttering over your appearance shortly. “I’ve always liked your lips, and your eyes. Think they’re beautiful.”
Suddenly, you’re flustered again. The room feels as if it’s getting increasingly warmer, yet you seem to want to bask in the feeling and attention a little longer. “That’s too sentimental.”
“It’s true though.”
“Well, you’re lucky I’ve always had a thing for idiots,” You jest playfully. “Jerks, too. Playboys who are too hot for their own good.”
“Ah, and I love it when you talk dirty to me.” A cheeky grin tugs at his lips as he clutches at his heart over his chest. “It’s a good thing I like it a little too much, knowing you’ll always keep me in check.”
But then the mirth seems to fade from your mind long enough for you to hum aloud pensively, “And I’ve always liked your eyes. I’ve never seen such big eyes before. Sometimes, if I look long enough, it’s like I can see the stars in them.”
As you’re speaking about them, his irises glisten magnificently. He bites at his lip now, as if to hide the way his soft smile turns sheepish. “I like your bum.”
“Really? I always worry it’s too flat.”
“Are you kidding? Your ass is a fucking god-send. It’s hard not to stare when you wear leggings sometimes,” Jungkook admits, earning a small giggle from you. “And I like your boobs. I’ve always wondered…” He trails off abruptly, shaking his head. He shoots you an apologetic look. “I’m sorry. I’ll stop. I’m being an idiot, aren’t I?”
“Well, maybe I don’t want you to stop.”
Silence saturates the room now, settling comfortably between the two of you. He wonders what you’re thinking, and you wonder if he can hear your heart hammering against your chest. Perhaps on any other day when you were of sound mind, you could find a plethora of reasons as to why sleeping with your best friend was a terrible idea. But being that you were slightly tipsy, and Jungkook isn’t far off, you can find not one fault, except for maybe how tragically hot Jungkook looks sitting across from you and how he’s never been yours, at least in that way. Would it be so wrong to try just once?
You shift then, pushing yourself to your knees if only so you can worm your way towards him before swinging one leg over his. You settle back on his lap, hands gripping his shoulders. He can feel your core press against the inside of his thigh, just where his dick is nestled and he has to bite back a moan. His eyes are wider than usual, as if believing the moment to be surreal, though something sultry threatens to darken them.
The excitement crackles through your veins like electricity. You’ve never been in such a compromising position with Jungkook before, and you wonder if it should be concerning just how much you’re enjoying it. It almost feels as if time slows down, every second dragging on, yet he can’t look away. His hands come to tug at your hoodie (that he’s almost positive was his once upon a time before you nicked it from his closet) and you meet him part way, replacing his efforts as you pull it up and off your body. Then, you’re sitting back on his lap in your full nude glory, chest bare and right in his face. He eyes the swell of your breasts, the perk of your nipples. Of course you’re not wearing anything beneath your hoodie ━ and, god, he loves it.
“Touch me?”
Your voice comes to him in an almost dream. You reach for his hand then, your palm soft around his knuckles and the tattoos that ink his skin. It’s the same hand of which he wears the other half to your pair of friendship bracelets in one of his favourite colours of red, decorated with little pink hearts. It came in a matching set of two (yours in your own favourite colour, currently on the wrist of the hand you’re using to guide Jungkook’s), cute little macrame braid ones with hearts woven into the design that you had pointed out one day while you were both at the mall and he had bought without any hesitation mostly as a joke but resulted in both of you wearing them on a daily basis.
Now, all he can do is continue watching you with bated breath as you guide his hand right where you both want him. He comes to cup the underside of one of your breasts, your hand over his pressing his fingers tighter together until you can feel some sort of pleasant pressure. And, just like that, something feral and needy seems to snap within him. His hand slithers from your grasp if only so he can flick his thumb across your nipple, mesmerized by the softness of it. He’s only ever seen you naked once before and it was fleeting. You were both drunk, skinny dipping in a lake with a handful of other friends, but it had been too dark to notice much else. But now? Now, he can see all of you and the sight strikes a chord right down to his dick.
“You’re fucking beautiful,” Jungkook groans.
“Koo.” The cute little nickname you had given him sounds dirty now as it slips from your lips in a moan. “Too sentimental.”
But Jungkook isn’t listening because you really, really, really are so beautiful. He bows his head to your chest, catching one of your nipples in his mouth. He murmurs something against your chest that sounds akin to, “We can take things slow.”
“Slow…” Your head is spinning, but it’s a delightful sensation. Something hard pokes against your ass now, and the adrenaline only seems to build within you. It’s odd how everything feels so foreign ━ exploring his body and these newfound feelings like the uncharted territory it is ━ yet secure and safe at the same time. As if you know what to do next, where to touch next, how to move, your bodies almost fitting together like pieces to a puzzle. “Y-Yeah, I like that. Can I move?”
“Fuck, yes, please,” he growls. He’s much too busy nipping and sucking at the sensitive skin on your chest, teeth tugging at your nipple.
You hurry to obey, giving a small experimental swivel of your hips that almost immediately has the both of your inhaling a sharp breath of air. His dick strains against his sweatpants, the material doing very little in protecting him against you. Your core throbs as you rub yourself on him.
“Like this?” You rasp.
“Yeah, just like that.” Jungkook’s head rolls back onto the couch, his eyes squeezing shut and his blonde hair spilling into his eyes. He clenches his jaw, the nerves fluttering in the corner, as pure euphoria riddles his features. You don’t think you’ve ever seen anything so sexy. “Fuck, we probably shouldn’t be doing this.”
“Yeah,” You agree, breathless. “Do you wanna stop?”
“No. Do you?”
“Thank god.” The sigh of relief that emits from Jungkook startles even him but, in the heat of the moment, he doesn’t register how any of this could be a mistake. “Ah, shit━ Faster━”
“Mmm, Koo━” You whimper as you quicken your pace, the vulgar harbored thought of his dick in you thrilling you to no end.
“Fuuck, I’ve never heard you sound like this before. So needy, so desperate,” Jungkook grunts, his fingers digging into your hips. And it’s all because of him, the way you’re feeling. He’s never wanted to hurry to please you faster, itching to tear you apart if he’ll get to hear those noises from you again and again. “I━”
He’s gonna cum, and he’s not even in your pussy. What’s gotten into him?  
He presses you a little harsher against his dick, sitting up straighter so that his chest is pressed flush against yours. He leans forward, lips chasing after yours, before you pull back just enough sluggishly to press your finger to his mouth.
“Uh uh. No kissing,” You rasp.
The words process in Jungkook’s head, but the weight of them don’t seem to linger in his daze. He’s far too overwhelmed by you and the way you’re making him feel to even begin to try to decipher why you avoid his mouth and so, for now, he doesn’t care. Instead, he buries his face in the crook of your neck, nose nuzzling against your throat. You clutch at his hair, tugging at the roots tight enough for him to moan.
“Nnngh, Jungkook━” You whine. “I’m gonna━ Oh, fuck, Koo━”
And then you’re unravelling, right in his very arms. He holds you close as you tremble and shake, rutting your hips sloppily against his to ride out your high, and Jungkook thinks he can definitely get used to this. The familiar burn forms in his stomach and, without even thinking of it, he comes in the confinements of his pants.
But in the heat of the moment, he doesn’t notice quite a lot of things. Neither do you.
So, maybe you could both find a hundred and one reasons why having sex with your best friend would surely cross some lines, but the thing with you and Jungkook (and what would eventually blossom into a hubristic relationship of sorts) is that it wasn’t just sex. You would always be comfortable around him, as he would be with you. And nothing could ever possibly get weird between the two of you ━ not when you had both made a promise to each other that it wouldn’t get in the way of your friendship.
Because ━ while, yeah, he’s hot and suffers from fuckboy tendencies from time-to-time and, aside from random late night hookups ━ he was still the same boy that would drag you out at three in the morning to drive to the next city over for a bowl of ramen, who would marathon shows as long as One Piece or Game of Thrones with you, watching as much as you can in one all-nighter; who would come to your dorm, no matter the time of day, the moment you said you were sick or suffering from cramps, piled high with your favourite snacks; who shared a repertoire of silly inside jokes with you that never made any sense to anyone but the both of you; who insisted you both wear friendship bracelets even in college. He would always be an angel to you, treat you well, because you meant that much to him.
A small thought in the back of Jungkook’s head wonders, above all else, if you were anyone different, would he have even bothered suggesting such a ludicrous idea, drunk or not?
Because he’s positive no one else could make him cum in his pants like a horny prepubescent teen ━ no one except for you.
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“If we’re really gonna do this, we need to set some ground rules.”
Admittedly, neither you nor Jungkook knew what would happen after Jungkook’s proposition to you. Maybe you were expecting the two of you to pretend as if nothing had ever happened, or laugh it off as something so inconsequential that neither of you should bother worrying about it. Instead, the very next day, you find that you’re back in Jungkook’s dorm. Only this time, you’re in his bed, and he spent the past half hour sufficiently eating you out.
Now, you’ve had an epiphany in the form of Jungkook’s dick, and that is that it’s big.
You’ve seen it before on occasion ━ like when he streaked nude across campus as a dare or when he needed to use your shower because his apartment was under maintenance and he walked out on you in the living room ━ but this is clearly a very different circumstance. All red, swollen, angry tip wet and glistening with precum. You had to brace yourself as he pushed himself into you, cautiously and slowly, enjoying the way you stretch to fit around him. If you had a drunken excuse the night before for loving the thought of getting off with Jungkook, then you surely don’t have one now. It’s a shameless guilty pleasure, you think, that he’s at least indulging in.
“Rules,” Jungkook scoffs now. “You’re such a nerd. Fuck, you feel so fucking good━ You doing okay?”
More than. Your head lolls back against his pillow, eyes nearly rolling to the back of your head. “Mhm.”
“Want a minute?”
Jungkook pauses without any hesitation, gnawing on his lower lip as your walls clench around him so tightly he feels he might fall apart then and there. His hands are on your hips, thumbs rubbing comforting circles against your burning skin. A few deep breaths later and you’re probing Jungkook to move again. His hips rut into yours at a leisure pace, and he marvels for a moment at the way his dick disappears into your pussy, slick and wet with your own arousal. The thought of being in you ━ of finally feeling your walls wrapped around him, all wet and snug ━ is enough to make him bust then and there, but he refrains miraculously.
“Holy fuck,” You groan. “Why are you so big━”
Your voice cuts off into a delightful whimper, walls aching around him. Jungkook snorts, burrowing his face in the crook of your neck. “Nothing sexier than hearing you stroke my ego.”
“Don’t let it get to your already big head,” You retort sluggishly.
“Big head!” he grumbles against your throat, lips brushing faintly against your skin and sending shivers down your spine. “Insult me some more. You know how it gets me going.”
“Oh my god, shut up. Where were we?”
“Right,” You breathe in a sharp inhale of air as he grinds against your hips. “And rule number one is no kissing. That’s way too intimate.”
Jungkook quirks a brow. “How is kissing more intimate than having my dick in you?”
“It just is.” You refuse to tell him the truth. You poke your fingers at his sides, causing him to jerk against you. “Don’t question it.”
“Fine. Then no sentimental shit in general, like cuddling or pet names,” Jungkook retorts. “And no public displays of affection.”
“Okay,” You nod. “Fuck, Jungkook━”
“God, I love hearing you moan my name,” Jungkook grunts. He watches with fascination the way your face reacts at his every movement. “Too much?”
“No. Kinda hot,” You admit. An abrupt thought pops into your head that has you murmuring hazily, “Oh, and you can’t have sex with me to your sex playlist.”
Jungkook looks appalled. The sex playlist in question is one you’ve heard briefly before, if only because you’ve walked in on Jungkook and his flavour of the month a handful of times one too many times.
“So you’re telling me you don’t want to have the best orgasm of your life to The Weeknd or the Neighbourhood? WAP?” Jungkook asks, wriggling his brows suggestively. “Alanis Morissette?” You have less than half a second to register the 90s pop singer as out of place before Jungkook breaks out into song with a brief rendition of Head over Feet. “You’re my best friend, best friend with benefits━!”
Part of you knows he’s joking, but there’s still a small sliver of you that makes you gawk at him dubiously before dissolving into a fit of unabashed laughter. It rumbles against his chest, vibrates his dick in you. “You’re not serious, are you? That’s not actually in your sex playlist, is it?”
He flashes you a shit-eating grin. “Guess you’ll never know now.”
Another roll of your eyes makes him snicker. He’s gotten used to your snide remarks, but he’ll gladly keep suffering under them if he gets to wipe that taunting smirk off your face each time with the way his dick makes you feel. You cling a little tighter to his shoulders and muse aloud, “So that’s it then?”
“Yeah━” Jungkook knows you’re referring to the rules and your plan, although it’s getting harder to focus on talking as he continues to grind against you. “And nothing has to change between us, even if we stop. We’re still just two best friends.”
“Who have sex from time to time.”
He can’t help himself. He tries again. “Who might kiss.”
“Nope.” You’re smiling even despite the way you shoot him an aggravated stare first.
“We might?”
“No, we definitely won’t.”
Worth a shot, he thinks to himself. At least you really do always keep him in check.
After all, what are best friends for?
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So, maybe a part of you thought the shift in your relationship with Jungkook wouldn’t last very long. A week at most, and maybe Hoseok would find you another pointless let down of a blind date to go on and Jungkook would get horny for some other girl ━ but it’s certainly been more than a week now, and you’ve had sex with him more than two times.
A third, and a fourth, if you’re being blatantly honest, and maybe a few more times after that but you don’t really remember what count you’re both on now which should probably be concerning. Days elapse into days, which turn to weeks, then months. Morning, afternoon, and night.
It’s not as if you hadn’t already spent almost every waking moment with Jungkook but now you had a reason to be at his apartment at any and all hours of the day and not solely for movie watching marathons. You’re positive he’s still having his occasional random flings, though you’re fortunate his commitment issues at least force him to go to their homes rather than his for the most part, so you never really have to witness half-naked girls stumbling out of his apartment just as you’re wandering in. He says it has something to do with how his bedroom is his sacred space, though you think it’s more like he wouldn’t want his hook ups discovering his Overwatch figurines or something (because, before Jungkook’s proposition, you’ve walked in on him once and a girl when they were entangled on the couch in his living room).
But you’ve noticed lately you’re getting too comfortable with your arrangement with Jungkook; too comfortable knowing he’ll be there at the end of a long day to greet you, to please you until you’re crying out his name. Sometimes he tells you about the girls he’s texting, or shows you a picture from a hot girl’s Instagram whose D.M.s he’s just slid into. And sometimes you’re left wondering how often he comes straight to you after hooking up with a random girl.
It shouldn’t matter to you, and you swear that it doesn’t.
Maybe you’re just overthinking things. Hoseok certainly seems to think so, but his judgement wasn’t much to go by.
Because, lately, Hoseok has been encouraging you more and more to give Yukhei (the blind date Hoseok had initially set you up with when you found yourself at Jungkook’s) another chance for two reasons: 1) “Yukhei’s a nice boy,” he had cheerfully reminded you, “he’ll treat you well,” and 2) “Stop fucking your best friend. It’s morally wrong.”
There were many things wrong with his statement, from the fact that you didn’t exactly consider standing up a date as “nice” and that you were also still begrudgingly lamenting the way Hoseok had discovered your recent fling with Jungkook (although, you weren’t being very inconspicuous, having shower sex with Jungkook early one morning when you were certain Hoseok would be spending the day at his fiance’s home instead of yours).
But then you meet Yukhei and you realize that, oh crap, he’s cute. And he’s nice.
As it turns out, after bumping into him one day when you’re with Hoseok lounging on the quad of your campus and he comes bounding over to return a textbook Hoseok had lent him for a specific class, Yukhei is so easily charming. He also gives a pretty valid excuse for flaking on your date, proving that he had to present his dissertation, making you clearly aware that he’s cute, nice, and smart. Jungkook, on the other hand, doesn’t see the appeal, yet his curiosity and intrigue seems to get the best of him.
“So that was your blind date?” Jungkook asks after grabbing your attention on the quad and stealing you away from Hoseok and Yukhei. “Yukhei?”
“You know him?”
“Seen him around,” Jungkook shrugs nonchalantly. “I’ve never really talked to him. But him? You’re not telling me you’re actually interested in him, are you?”
“I don’t know. Maybe,” You’re truly just as clueless about your feelings towards Yukhei as Jungkook seems to be. “What’s so wrong about him?”
“He’s━” Jungkook stops. He shakes his head. “Heard he’s got a small dick anyway.”
You shoot the boy a wary look, only to find him grinning deviously at himself. “Maybe he just wants to be friends.”
At this, Jungkook lets out a scoffing sound that borders on disbelieving laughter. “No, I definitely think he wants to have sex with you in his Toyota Camry, Y/N, but what do I know?”
“You’re not jealous, are you?”
“No, why would I be jealous?”
You can’t quite tell if he’s angry or not but, then again, why would he be? As far as either of you are concerned, there’s nothing to be jealous of.
So then why does it feel like he’s simply just telling himself that?
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“Are you seriously on your phone right now?”
Jungkook asks this from somewhere behind you a handful of days later, a little peeved but most likely because your jarring 8:00 a.m. alarm had roused the both of you violently awake. In his defense, Jungkook is not a morning person.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” You’re currently sprawled out on your hands and knees on his bed, phone still in your grasp after having plucked it off the nightstand in haste. Your clothes are scattered across the floor of his room, remnant clues of the night before when he had beckoned you over after hours, and your body is covered in nothing but hickeys and an unbuttoned blue flannel belonging to Jungkook that you had chucked on last night that does nothing in covering up the swell of your breasts which Jungkook is now currently eyeing. “Am I not giving you enough attention? Were you expecting cuddles or something? Thought that wasn’t in the rules.”
“No,” Jungkook huffs. He runs a hand through his long messy hair in an attempt to fix it; he ultimately gives up taming his locks, instead using the hair tie around his wrist to tie his hair back into a cute yet sexy little ponytail. As he does so, you notice the red friendship bracelet around his wrist and smile smally. “But my dick could use some cuddles. Preferably with your mouth, but it will also gladly accept your hand.”
Jungkook may not be a morning person but, as you’ve come to realize, his dick certainly is.
It’s painfully obvious too, his hardened length straining against the gray sweatpants he had thrown on at some point. And, god, did he have to wear those? It left little to the imagination, the outline of his length teasing you just enough.
“I should get going,” You say. “I have a test coming up. There’s supposed to be a review session today in class, and I don’t want to miss it.”
“Well, you don’t seem like you’re in a rush since you’re still on your phone,” Jungkook points out. “Who are you texting anyway? Yukhei?”
“Anger is an emotion,” You rebuke casually. “So is jealousy.”
Jungkook feigns a look of mock hurt. “I’m not angry or jealous! I’m needy.”
Still, Jungkook reaches out to swiftly pluck your phone from your hands.
He’s pressed up against your back in an instant, his dick hard against your ass, and he doesn’t move very far even when you twist in your spot in an attempt to grab your phone back. You don’t, and instead you end up on your back with him on his side, propped up on his elbow. You miss when he casts a swift gaze down at your phone, only to see that Yukhei’s chat messages are indeed open, and something seems to gnaw terribly at his gut before he tosses your phone to the side. He’s looking at you now with those big beautiful eyes of his, and you hate it.
“Please?” he beckons. He ruts his hips impatiently but slowly against your leg. He drops his head to bury his face in the crook of your neck, lips dangerously close to brushing against your flesh but he refrains somehow. “M’so hard right now, could probably bust the moment you touch me.”
The thought is tempting, having a helpless Jungkook cumming in your hands. The sight alone has quickly become your favourite thing, helping the frustrated boy get off. Besides, you’re certain you could ask Hoseok for the review notes.
Fuck it, you cave.
You fidget until you’ve pressed him back against the bed and have clambered on top of him, wiggling your way down to fit between his legs. Jungkook is watching you now with a half-asleep expression, though his teeth sink into his lower lip as you pull at his sweatpants until they’re down at his thighs, letting his swollen dick spring free.
“You know━” You hum. You reach out to grab at the base of his cock. “Yukhei wants to hang out, and Hoseok keeps telling me to give it a shot.”
That much is true. Part of you wants to say yes, if only because Yukhei seems promising enough, but the thought alone is enough for you to feel as if you’ve done something horribly wrong to Jungkook.
“Oh.” The word eclipses Jungkook’s mouth in a shallow breath of air. Then, your mouth wraps around the puffy head of his dick, shining with leaking precum that you swallow back, and Jungkook’s reaction is immediate. Head thrown back, face scrunching together, muscles in his toned abdomen flexing as he seizes and grunts aloud. “Oh, fuck━ Well… Are you gonna?”
Jungkook asks the last question with much difficulty, and a part of him thinks it doesn’t all have to do with how you’re making him feel.
“Dunno.” You snort around his dick, and he marvels at how adorable such a lewd action can seem.
You decide to focus on sucking him off because it truly is a sexy sight to see, letting the topic of Yukhei drop. Jungkook certainly doesn’t mind. As you swirl your tongue around his tip and reach up with your free hand to fondle at his balls, his long hair falls into his lashes but he still tries to find you past his wild locks, hooded eyes gazing down at you.  
“Ah, shit━” Jungkook hisses delightfully, hips jerking forward instinctively into your mouth. The faintest hints of a drowsy smirk tug at his lips. “Fuck, yes, just like that.”
Yeah, you think to yourself then, you’re definitely going to ride him later. Screw going to class.
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From: Jungkook Sent: 1:05 a.m.
bro i noticed u werent wearing our friendship bracelet while u were giving me head earlier. is everything ok??
You wake in the morning to a single text from Jungkook ━ and one you had not been expecting.
That’s not to say that getting the occasional text message from Jungkook at any and all hours of the day was abnormal, but the extent of his messages sent anywhere past midnight usually always range from something more coherent in the form of “what would u do if i was there rn?” to something exuding typical lazy Jungkook manner with a simple “dtf?” or “send noods lol” to something even more provocatively cryptic such as the eggplant and splashing water (or, as far as Jungkook is concerned, something else entirely) emojis and nothing else, left open for your own interpretation that typically, usually, without a doubt, results in you in his bed and his dick in you. But this seems to be something else entirely.
Unfortunately, Jungkook’s text isn’t the only concern of yours.
Hoseok has spent the better part of the morning giving you a lecture on why having sex with your best friend is bad. He seems so passionate about the topic that you’re certain he would have pulled out a powerpoint at any moment, each slide ending in a picture of Yukhei and why you should maybe try fucking him instead, if you entertained the idea a little longer. Hoseok claims it’s just a harmless date. Yukhei might be a nice boy, but you don’t know how you feel about him. You don’t want to lead him on, and a scary thought points out the fact that maybe, while Yukhei is a nice boy, he isn’t Jungkook.
“I don’t get why you don’t just give Yukhei a chance━” Hoseok is saying now, sat on the couch in your shared apartment with him. “It’s not like you have to marry him. I don’t think one date will hurt━ Aaand, you’re not even listening to me anymore, are you?”
The sheepish look on your face is enough of an answer for him. You’ve been anxiously eyeing your phone and the text Jungkook had sent you last that you’ve yet to respond to, even despite being awake for more than a few hours now.
“Yes, I am listening,” You say dismissively. “Something about how one date won’t hurt, but that’s what you said when Yoongi asked you out, and you’re literally engaged now.”
The glistening metallic ring on Hoseok’s finger is evidence enough. The boy looks down at it as if seeing it for the first time, purses his lips, and then nods in agreement. “Okay, yeah, maybe you’re right. But you’re holding out for Jungkook and for what? He’s hot, yeah, and he’s your best friend, sure, but at the end of the day he’s still just a horny male who wants to stick his dick in anything that moves.”
“Hoseok.” Your grumbling sigh is interrupted by the motion of your phone vibrating against your thigh once more. You peek at the screen fleetingly to see a new text.
From: Jungkook Sent: 2:35 p.m.
send n00ds?
miss ur tits :(
Typical Jungkook.
The text from the night before is all but seemingly forgotten from his mind, and you can’t quite tell if you’re devastated or relieved. You don’t have very long to discern which emotion you’re feeling when Hoseok snatches your phone to look at what’s gotten your attention before exclaiming suddenly, “Aha! See! What did I say?”
“It’s not like that,” You wave Hoseok off. “Jungkook treats me well. He respects me, and I’m comfortable with him.”
“And how long until whatever this is━” He gestures vaguely to your phone as if to point out your relationship with Jungkook, “has to end? Do you really think a pinky promise is going to make sure your friendship with him isn’t totally ruined? I mean, how can you continue being casual friends with someone, see them dating someone else, when they’ve had their dick in you?”
You know it makes sense. Realistically, you either stop sleeping with each other or it potentially develops into something more. But in both circumstances, what were the chances that either of you didn’t get your heart broken? Maybe a part of you was apprehensive of Jungkook finding the “right” person for him one day that has him ending things with you, and while you swear you’d be happy for him, relationships sometimes have a way of distracting people from those already around them. Were you prepared to have someone take him away from you, platonically and whatever it is else that you have with him? Did you really think you could just keep being friends with him, as if nothing ever occurred between you two?
You don’t think Jungkook is bothered worrying about the state of your friendship with him, much less overthinking it like you seem to be. It shouldn’t be a big deal ━ yet why was there still that terrible nagging voice in the back of your mind? Whether or not Hoseok is right, you don’t want to find out. You don’t have feelings for Jungkook anyway.
But your ability to bend at his every will is certainly interesting.
You grab your phone before Hoseok can do any serious damage like unlocking it and responding to Jungkook, clutching it to your chest as you start to cross the living room. The other boy looks at you in bewilderment. “Where are you going now?”
“Where does it look?” You call over your shoulder just before you disappear into the bathroom, and Hoseok deduces all at once that you’re truly a lost cause. “I need to send him a picture of my boobs.”
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“He’s totally into you, Y/N.”
Admittedly, there were many mundane but essentially weird things you’ve talked to Jungkook about while having sex. You’ve had many heated debates about everything under the sun from whether or not pineapple on pizza should be illegal to top five betrayals in either movies or animes, to passionate grand philosophical discussions about what exists outside of the universe.
It’s not as if you had been planning on talking about Yukhei to Jungkook when he had invited you over to his apartment late at night after sending your risqué boob picture to him but, like many things in your friendship with Jungkook, it sort of just happened. He had asked you how your day was and you had decided to broach the topic experimentally, though you think deep down you’re doing it on purpose to see if he’d react in any way. What started with you mentioning Hoseok’s adamance and you sort of genuinely asking Jungkook for advice on Yukhei somehow evolved into Jungkook interrogating you on whether or not you’ve hung out with him yet.
“Jungkook. You’re getting off topic,” You admonish him now, as if your own choice of topic is any better when his dick is currently in you.
Jungkook is wedged between your thighs smushed up against your chest, large palms holding you on your ribcage in place beneath him. He’s a comfortable heavy draped over top of you, cock stretching you wide. You can feel his heart hammering against yours and he’s slick with sweat, golden hair clinging to his forehead and in his pretty eyes. You resist the urge to reach out and brush the messy locks away but, again, how would that be any less intimate of an action than what you’re already doing? Another line uncrossed, you suppose.
“How am I off topic?” Jungkook retorts. “You literally just said you can’t tell if he’s into you but he dropped by when you were done class and bought you lunch. You don’t just do that for a girl you don’t care that much about.”
“You buy me lunch, like, every day,” You point out.
“Because you’re my best friend. Of course I care about you,” Jungkook says.
“Ah, Jungkook━” You curse suddenly, grabbing his attention when you shift your weight beneath him. “You’re crushing me. Why’d you stop moving?”
He doesn’t have an answer, if only because he hadn’t even realized he’d stop moving in the first place. Without hesitation, he continues leisurely rutting his hips against yours, grabbing at one of your legs to hook it around his waist. This new angle lets you feel even more of him as he sinks further into you, if that was even still possible, reaching so far into you that you swear it’s like you can feel him in your stomach. Your head lolls back against the pillows, pure euphoria contorting your face so much so to the point that it distracts you entirely from the distant look glazing over Jungkook’s eyes.
“Yukhei definitely wants to bang,” he huffs under his breath.
At once, an exasperated groan fills his ears.
“I can’t believe we’re seriously having this conversation right now,” You roll your eyes, fingers prodding at his sides. “I don’t wanna talk about Yukhei potentially wanting to have sex with me.”
Jungkook’s glad you said it, at least. Though now he’s watching you with hooded eyes as he thrusts into you a little harder, maybe a little intentionally. His indulgent gaze droops to your breasts, admiring the way they bounce beneath him each time his hips make contact with yours. He thinks back earlier in the day to the picture you had sent him which, really, had sparked the mood for the rest of the night.
“Fuck, you feel so good,” he whines abruptly. His eyes screw shut and brows furrow together as your walls clench around him. He drops his head to bury his face in your chest, lips momentarily wrapping around one of your nipples as he sucks harshly at the soft flesh. When he speaks next, forehead still resting against your collarbones, his voice is a breathless croak, “Well, do you like him?”
“No,” You moan. “Maybe━ Fuck, Koo━ I don’t know.”
“He’s gonna be at that party Tae’s throwing, isn’t he?” Jungkook tries to focus, but it’s becoming increasingly harder to do so when he’s inching closer and closer to his high. “Shit, ah, Y/N━ Why don’t you try talking to him or something? See how the night goes?”
“He’s nice but I don’t think he’s the one for me,” You admit sheepishly. “I think I’m just gonna end things while I still can, with as little harm as possible.”
“Well, glad that’s settled,” Jungkook mumbles. “Can we please stop talking about Yukhei now?”
You seem to miss the way he clings to you a little tighter, hands flying down to grip at your hips, nails digging crescent moon shapes into your skin. He snaps his hips into yours a little faster this time, your pussy throbbing around him.
“Nngh, Jungkook━”
Your hands fumble to grip at his hair, tugging tightly at the roots and earning a delightful hiss from the boy. Your own mouth drops open in a silent moan and it’s a wonder he doesn’t combust at just how sexy the sight is. He hates how his eyes stay trained on the shape of your lips, the soft plumpness of them. He’s felt them wrapped around his dick plenty of times before but he concedes that it’s probably hardly anywhere near to how it would feel to kiss you. Like actually kiss you, tongue and all.
God, what’d he give just to smother your lips with his.
And, god, he hopes you never find out. He’s positive that thought is far more scandalous alone than anything you’ve ever done together.
You’re writhing beneath him now, hips jutting forward desperately to meet his. “I’m gonna cum, Jungkook━”
“Fuck, yes,” Jungkook growls. “Wanna feel you cream around my cock so bad. Come on, baby━”
In the heat of the moment, you seem to miss the pet name that slurs off his tongue and the sentiment in it. A few more jolting slams of his hips and you’re tumbling over the edge. He has to sputter for air when he feels your pussy wrapping so tightly around him, stuttering in his pace above you if only to watch as you unravel beneath him. Hooded dark eyes glazed over in that perfect fucked out expression he loves so much, teeth biting at your lower lip so hard he wonders if it’ll bruise in the morning.
A sudden thought pops into his head when you’ve settled enough, amongst the blinding pure white of bliss that clouds his thoughts. “Did you get my text by the way? The one I sent last night?”
You gasp for air. The bracelet on your wrist itches at the mention of it, and you’re fortunate you decided to wear it that afternoon before coming to Jungkook’s. “Y-Yeah━”
“Everything’s fine,” You say this as dismissively as you can. Your core is still vibrating after the harsh impact of your orgasm paired with Jungkook’s swollen length still in you. “I just… I was taking a shower and didn’t want to get it wet. I forgot to put it back on in the morning.”
That’s a lie. You had mostly taken it off as part of an experiment, though it hasn’t answered much. At least Jungkook doesn’t seem to realize that.
“Oh,” Jungkook breathes. A beat of silence passes, before he deadpans cockily, “Wait, you were taking a shower and I wasn’t invited?”
“Oh my god, shut up━” Maybe if he hadn’t just currently driven you to nirvana and back, you’d notice the way the sloppy grin on his face is a simple taunt. But you’re much too distracted to care. Instead, you use your leg that’s still hooked around his waist to gently push and roll him onto his back so that you can straddle his hips. His eyes sparkle mischievously as he watches you waste no time in hurrying to grind against him at an agonizingly steady pace that makes his head spin. “You’re ruining the moment. I’m trying to make you cum.”
A devious cackle rumbles from his chest, albeit a little contented at the same time. Yeah, he definitely likes the sound of that. “Well then, by all means, don’t let me stop you.”
It’s only then that his question comes back into your mind. If he felt the need to ask you again about the bracelet, maybe that meant something after all. At the very least, it means he hadn’t forgotten about it altogether. On the other hand, you wonder how often he had spent thinking, or over-thinking, the issue in the past twenty-four hours, if at all.
Was it wrong to feel some semblance of joy over that potential fact? Probably.
That doesn’t seem to bother you much this time. Not when he’s gazing up at you as if you’re some divine sexy goddess, all his to enjoy. You can’t help yourself; you reach down to brush the sweaty hair from his eyes, perhaps all too gentle of an action for best friends.
And he smiles, maybe a little too softly and maybe a little too ardently if you look close enough.
He smiles.
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The thing about your supposed “rules” with your relationship with Jungkook is that there might be a few loose ends that neither you nor Jungkook pay much attention to sometimes.
But that’s neither here nor there.
Mostly, the “no public displays of affection” clause is easily disregardable. It’s typically when you’re too drunk to remember it and a bit needy, craving one another’s touch, but those around you never truly seem to care or even notice because, if you’re lucky, they’re equally as smashed. Sometimes the “no cuddles” clause blurs into a gray area where it’s simply just you and Jungkook post-sex, sprawled out in his bed, not necessarily wrapped up in one another’s arms and cooing sweet nothings to one another but giggling at nothing in particular except one another as you bask in each other’s company and nothing more. You suppose some rules are meant to be broken.
For the most part, Jungkook never seems to question the no kissing rule you were so adamant in insisting. Not until one night in which you’re left wondering where things go so drastically wrong. It starts off as normally as any other day with you and Jungkook can, spent in his apartment binge watching movies. You hadn’t expected that night to switch as suddenly as it does when Jungkook shoots you a text earlier in the day asking if you want to come to his for a night of casual drinking as simply “best friends.” But, as always, one thing seems to lead to another, and you can’t get enough of Jungkook. Maybe it’s in the way he holds you a little tighter, the way he tugs you onto his lap on the sofa in his living room, the way he grips your thighs with a certain type of insatiable desire.
“You know…” he hums. “You drive me insane. In, like, the best way possible.”
Part of you realizes his actions even without him seeming to, and the drunken smile on your face remaining frozen in place, a little dumbfounded. “Jungkook…”
“When I’m with you…” He lifts his stare to look at you, but you have nothing to say. Neither does he. Instead, you’re left grinning at one another and suddenly your face is warm. He leans towards you, his nose nuzzling against the side of your throat. Your hands stay threaded in his hair now, and he swears he feels you secure your grip as if to pull him closer.
You can feel his lips brush faintly against your skin, grazing along your neck to the underside of your jaw. Up, up, up, until━
It’s just as his mouth meets with the corner of yours that you register what he’s doing, even in your clouded state. You turn your head just in time, and he comes to an immediate halt, his lips barely making contact with your cheek instead before he pulls away. He doesn’t move very far but you also don’t push him away just yet. Instead, you shift your head to look at him, still inches apart from him.
“What are you doing?” You ask. He can’t quite tell if you’re appalled or not, an empty expression staring back at him.
“I━ You━” He fumbles over his words, squeezes his eyes shut. He blames it on the alcohol even though his head is swimming with thoughts that seem to only concern you. But then a fierceness seems to stir within him, one that makes his jaw clench as he meets your stunned stare. The question rolls off his tongue without meaning to. “Is this about Yukhei?”
“Is that why you weren’t wearing our bracelet the other day?”
The question is so ridiculous, you have to laugh. “What are you going on about?”
But Jungkook doesn’t see what’s so funny and so he tries again, his persistence taking hold. “Is that why you won’t ever let me kiss you?”
You blink. Then, you’re shaking your head at him. Exasperation hangs heavy in your words, shaping in the form of a tired scoff. “You’re not serious.”
You’ve slithered off of his lap before he can even think to stop you ━ but if he had, would you have even stayed? You’re mad, but he doesn’t know why. “No, I wanna know. Because if what we have is already so meaningless, what makes a kiss any different?”
“So I wanna know,” he says, brows unconsciously knitting together. His gaze is searching yours desperately, as if begging for an answer he’ll want to hear. But he knows he’s being an idiot, a small sober part in him makes him realize that. “Humour me. Have you had sex with him yet?”
“Oh my god. I can’t believe that’s what you’re on about.” Suddenly, you’re frowning. Your hardened stare meets the boy’s and the irritation that scrunches at your face makes him wince, but it’s too late for him to take back the damage that he’s done. “Yeah, Jungkook, we fucked in his stupid Toyota that you hate so much and he choked me and I liked it. He did all sorts of dirty things to me. Is that what you want to hear?” The sardonic tone hisses at his ears, but he bites back his words, the sober part in him doing some decent good by shushing him. “No, Jungkook, we didn’t fuck. We haven’t even gone on a date, and I don’t even know if I want to, and you think I’m throwing myself at him.”
“But you wanna.”
“You’re being an idiot,” You admonish. “I’m going home. Talk to me when you’re sober.”
He has just enough time to watch you turn on your heel, march towards his door, when he scrambles to his feet. The weight of his words and actions finally seem to dawn on him, hitting him harshly in the face and in the heart.
“Fuck, wait! Wait━” he gasps.
He chases after you, hand reaching out to press his palm against the door before you can shimmy it open. He’s fortunate when you turn to look at him, though your arms are folded impatiently over your chest.
“You’re right. I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you mad,” he promises earnestly. Then, he lets out a frustrated groan. “I just… What if we… Shit, what if we stop for right now? Y’know… Hooking up. Whatever this is.”
He gestures vaguely between the two of you with his hands, a wearied look plastering his face.
You hate to admit how his words seem to affect you. They bite at the air, leave you breathless as you gawk at him, but the harsh realization of it all is that you were never his to have and he was never yours. Hoseok had been right when he said these things were bound to come to an end ━ so why did it seem to hurt you so much?
A beat of prolonged silence passes between the two of you. Jungkook runs a hand through his chaotic blonde hair, digging the heel of his palm into his temple as if to rid himself of a headache he’s no doubt sporting. Maybe you’re waiting for a better explanation, but he gives none, and you don’t feel as if you have the right to ask why. He’s not your boyfriend, for god’s sake. It’s not like he’s breaking your heart.
Instead, you take a deep breath and say, “Okay.”
“Okay.” It’s all that he says in return.
So then why does it feel like he is?
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When Jungkook had promised that if your fling with him ended you would go back to being untainted best friends, he was apparently lying.
A part of you can’t believe the sheer nerve of him to ghost you in his traditional fuckboy ways, and yet he does. You suppose not entirely, at the very least. Part of it ends up with you being even more vexed by his sudden shift in emotion, and the tangible tension that rises between the two of you should have been dealt with properly, yet neither of you do anything about it, leaving your friendship stagnant and stale for a week. After all, how are you really supposed to go back to “just friends” when you’ve seen his dick one too many times?
You refrain from telling Hoseok, if only so you don’t have to hear him tell you he told you so ━ but you also decide to give Yukhei that one chance, and so you think Hoseok wouldn’t mind so much anyway.
Admittedly, when Yukhei asks to hang with you at Taehyung’s eventual party, you aren’t entirely too keen, but you accept it if only because you heard Jungkook will be there too. For the majority of the night, you don’t see the boy, and you spend the hours cozying up with Yukhei in a conversation that dulls you. As it would appear, it seems to bore Yukhei too, but you only notice that when he starts touching you on your waist and the small of your back. There’s a moment where he leans his head close enough to yours that you realize he’s trying to kiss you, resulting in an awkward encounter in which you push him away, palms on his chest.
“What’s wrong?” he asks. The answer is obvious enough to you, but you don’t think you should tell him for his own dignity. That, instead, all you can imagine is Jungkook in his place. “Should we get out of here?”
“Y/N. Can I talk to you?”
You’re both fortunate yet horrified when you hear Jungkook’s voice. He’s standing just behind you, his own stare devoid of any emotion, though his brows furrow and his jaw clenches in a signature Jungkook manner that you know means he’s pissed. He hardly acknowledges Yukhei, nodding in his general direction. You don’t remember if you leave Yukhei there or if he leaves, or if Jungkook even gives a poor attempt of an excuse to the boy, but you’ve not so much as uttered a single word or let out an exhalation of air, when Jungkook ultimately pulls you off to the side where it’s just you and him once more.
“I’m not sucking your dick in Tae’s grimy bathroom, if that’s what you want,” You scowl once Yukhei is out of earshot. “You’ve lost the privilege that is my mouth.”
“That’s not━” Jungkook shakes his head, exasperated. “That’s not what I want. I just━ I’ll take you home. Please?”
You know the offer is much more than him simply walking you the route to your dorm, which you already know like the back of your hand. Yet, you don’t argue. Truthfully, it’s a relief when Jungkook lugs you out of the party. The entire venture back to your apartment is treacherous, in the way that you’re left sobering up enough to the point that your dizzying thoughts become more coherent. Hoseok is gone for the weekend at least, spending the days with his fiance, so you don’t have to worry about humiliating yourself in front of your roommate when it comes to Jungkook.
You’ve barely made it through your front door when you’re grumbling aloud, “What do you want, Jungkook?”
“I wanna talk,” he says firmly. “About us. About Yukhei.”
“Maybe I don’t want to.” But that’s a lie. Talking to Jungkook, even despite masquerading your annoyance for him, is a blessing in disguise. You’ve missed the idiot, and hearing his voice. “Besides, you told me to give him a chance.”
“And you said you didn’t want to.”
“Maybe I changed my mind.”
“Yeah, you sure seemed like you loved it when he was trying to shove his tongue down your throat,” Jungkook retorts bitterly. “C’mon, Y/N. We both know that’s a lie.”
“You know, you’ve been a real dick lately.”
A sliver of a smirk tugs at Jungkook’s face. “I thought you love dick.”
Clearly, his poor attempt at a joke doesn’t land well with you. “Why do you even care so much if Yukhei and I get together? Stop acting so high and mighty and moral, Jungkook. It’s not like you’re some virgin saint. How many times have I heard you talk about all those girls you’ve fucked? And what was I? Just another notch in your belt this whole time?”
“What?” Jungkook gasps now, as if disbelieving you would ever think such a thing. “No! You’re not just another notch. I would never even think about you that way. And I haven’t had sex with anyone else but you this whole time and I easily could have.”
“Wow! Such a martyr,” You remark dryly. When you speak next, you meet his stare with your own crestfallen gaze. “I just want my best friend back.” Your words hurt him more than you think, but he can’t say he doesn’t deserve it. “You’re the one who tried to kiss me, then suggested we stop whatever it is we’re doing━”
Jungkook flinches. “I know.”
“Then you ignore me for days even though you promised nothing would change━”
“I know,” he says desperately. He closes the distance between the two of you, yearning to reach out and touch you. Instead, he clamps his eyes shut, trying with all his might to focus when the room feels like it’s spinning.
“And then you get mad when Yukhei tries to make a move. It’s like you’re jealous or something!”
“I am.” He can’t take it anymore. The words tumble from his lips in a rush that he hardly bothers to bite back.
“Because━ Because━” He struggles to form his thoughts into words, stumbling over his sentence. Fuck, he’s never like this. Even you can tell. He grits his teeth next. “I lean in to kiss you and you look at me as if I’m out of my mind. I just don’t get it. You don’t want me to kiss you but you let me put my dick in your ass.”
The taut line of your lip quivers as you break. “That was one time and you didn’t even get all the way in!”
“Y/N.” Jungkook hums now. He’s gazing at you a little softly, reaching out to place his hands on your waist. “Look, I know I’ve been an idiot. But lately, when I touch you, I fucking feel so alive and the thought of Yukhei doing anything with you when it isn’t me, who should be with you, makes me want to vomit. And when I wake up in the morning alone, I only want you next to me. And I can’t be the only one feeling that way. If I am, tell me. Right now. Please. I just wanna know why you won’t ever let me kiss you, but you let me do all sorts of things with you. Am I really that repulsive?”
Another moment of silence stifles the room. Jungkook is so close to you now, you can’t help yourself. You reach up to tug at the collar of his shirt, fingers twisting in the material as you lean your forehead out of frustration against his shoulder and he instinctively lets his arms slither around your waist, holding you to him. Then━
“I only made the rule because I don’t want you to kiss me unless you mean it,” You murmur into his chest. “Like really, really mean it. Like I’m more than just a notch in your belt. Because I want to kiss you so badly, and I’m already in love with you but then I’ll really be in love with you and I don’t want to get my heart broken.”
The anticipation kills you, awaiting his response. You refuse to lift your head, until you hear him grumble, “You’re so fucking stupid.”
The retort is filled with your typical jestering hostility as you finally look at him. But just as you do so, Jungkook’s reaching out to grasp at your face, rough hands all soft and gentle as they cradle your cheeks, guiding you towards him and smoothing his lips over yours until you melt like putty in his hands.
Kissing Jungkook, you deduce at once, is not at all how you imagined it.
It’s everything and more. You’ve felt his mouth on you before but in much different circumstances. Between your legs, on your throat, down past the valley of your breasts ━ and each kiss then had been feral, sloppy, rough. Now, it’s sweet and tender, the feeling of his lips as soft as how he makes your heart feel. And the butterflies━ god, the butterflies.
Impatient hands tug and pull at one another until you’ve both stumbled into your room and onto your bed. He’s clambered over top of you, lips struggling to not part throughout the whole ordeal, until he’s wedged himself between your thighs.
Only then does Jungkook part from you just enough in the next moment, lips brushing against yours, as he whispers ardently, “I mean it.”
Then he’s kissing the corner of your lips down to the underside of your jaw, his mouth grazing along your skin in a feathery touch. His hands help you shed your shirt, and the bra underneath. “I mean it when I kiss you here.”
Then he drops his head to your neck, kissing at the base of your throat, before nipping at it lightly. “And here.”
Your hands come to thread in his hair, tugging at the roots. He burrows his face lastly in your chest, snatching the nipple of one of your breasts between his teeth. “Here…”
You’re so soft and supple beneath his hands, all his to love and explore.
“I want you, all of you,” he mumbles. “Only you.”
“Oh, Koo…”
A pretty moan tumbles from your mouth, and he could nearly cry. He had surely thought you were far past the point of enraged, far past the point of pensive words shaped in a heartfelt apology to bring you back to him. But then hearing you rasp his name ━ the little cute nickname that only you call him ━ makes him so goddamn remorseful.
He smothers your lips with his once more, groaning into your mouth. “I’m such a fucking dick. I don’t deserve you.”
“Don’t say that,” You whine.
“I’m sorry,” he laments. He bites at your lower lip, suckling against it. “Please let me make it up to you.”
“You already have.”
“But I’ve been such a shitty friend,” he groans. It’s hard to focus when he’s pressing his hips against yours, the forming bulge in his pants straining against the inside of your thigh. “I should’ve known when to stop. I shouldn’t have even suggested the whole thing in the first place, because then I wouldn’t have messed us all up.”
“Jungkook,” Your grip tightens in his hair. “Jungkook━ I want you so bad. Just wanna be yours.”
“Yeah?” His breath is warm as it fans against your neck. You rub your core eagerly against him, throbbing pussy so close to making contact with his dick.
“Yeah,” You mewl.
“What do you want from me?”
“You. Wanna feel your dick in me, please,” Your fingers tug at the top of his jeans, prodding at the muscles on his abdomen. “In my mouth. Can make you feel better, Koo, I promise. Just wanna be your good girl.”
“Mmm, I like the sound of that.”
He lets you push him until he’s on his back and you’re straddling his hips. Your limbs entangle with his as you shed the rest of your clothes, your own hands wandering up and down the front of his body after he’s tossed his shirt onto the floor. Then he watches as you shimmy your way down his body. You’re so zealous in pleasing him, wrapping your hand around the base of his dick, head angry and red, dribbling pearly beads of precum down the shaft and over the bulging vein that lines it. You run your thumb over the tip and down, spreading the sticky fluid over him. He grunts in response, nearly jolting at your touch, as his head drops back against his shoulders.
“Oh, fuck,” he growls.
You pump him slowly, taking you time as your closed fist glides up and down his length. He shudders each time your hand reaches the base, and becomes so carried away with your leisure teasing that his eyes are screwed shut and misses the way you dip down to kiss at the tip of his cock. His eyes immediately flutter open, a flustered expression painting his face. You lap again at the head, saltiness coating your tongue, and you let out a simpering moan that has him quivering. And when you wrap your mouth entirely around his cock, sinking down along his length, he swears he’s about to fall apart. Your eyes flicker upward to meet him and the moment they lock, so sexy and dark, he has to look away for fear of busting right then and there. He reclines back against the bed once more, his hand flying out to grab at your hair.
“You’re so good to me, baby,” he rasps.
He can feel the curve of your lips against his cock as you suck him off. You do so well, too. Puffing your cheeks out, taking as much of him as you can until it feels as if he’s hitting the back of your throat. Then, you’ll suck at the tip of his cock, tongue swirling rapidly around, as your fist rubs his shaft. It’s a beautiful mix, one that inches him closer and closer to his high, and each time you switch he has to hold it together to not let go so soon. He wants to enjoy it, needs to bask in it. Your pretty mouth doing such sinful things, making him feel as if he were in heaven.
“Shit━” His hips jut forward to meet with your mouth, accidentally hitting the back of your throat without warning. You gag a little, but don’t pull away, and when he apologizes to you hastily, you only moan in response. A thought pops into his head that has him beckon aloud, “Will you be a good girl and let me fuck your mouth? Huh, baby?”
You hum in approval, eyes shimmering with glee.
So, he plants both hands in your hair, grabs at the sides of your head, and as you hollow out your cheeks, he bucks into your mouth. He does it again and again, listening to your crescendoing mewls of delight, forming a sticky mess of drool and cum that spills onto your chin.
“God, you’re so good,” Jungkook grunts. He’s a complete wreck, eyes screwing shut, blonde tresses spilling into his lashes. The muscles in his abdomen twitch with each sharp inhale of air he takes, so mesmerized by the shape of your pretty mouth around his dick, like you were made for him. “Such a good girl, huh?”
He fucks himself into your mouth roughly, frantically. Tears start to prick at your eyes from holding your breath, yet you keep yourself together just a little longer for him, lashes fluttering shut tightly.
“All mine too,” Jungkook hisses. “Wouldn’t let Yukhei do this to you, would you? Fuck, I’m━”
With your head left immobile stuck in his grasp, you hum in disapproval instead. You know he’s close when you start to hear him panting breathily. When he cums, it’s with a fractured whine and in short hot bursts onto your tongue and down your throat. You swallow as much as you can and, when he parts from you with a resonating lewd pop, you wipe away with your knuckles at the rest of his cum leaking out of the corner of your mouth and onto your chin. Dark hooded eyes meet with yours, a mischievous glint captivating them. You crawl over to him, straddling his hips once more, chasing his mouth with yours. Your own lips are so wet, coated in saliva and cum, bruised plump, but yet you’re smiling so innocently past the way he can taste himself on his tongue.
A dazed thought pops into your head that has you murmuring wistfully against him, “Say it again. I like hearing you call me baby.”
“Hmm? What about when I call you my good girl?” Jungkook nips at your lips. He grasps at your waist, flipping you over until you’re on your back beneath him. “You treat me so well, baby; you’re my only girl, you know that.”
A contented sigh sounds from you as you rut your hips in thinning desperation to meet his, so close to rubbing against his dick nestled against his thigh. He licks at his fingers hastily, reaching between the two of you to press against your clit, rubbing leisurely at the soft bundle of nerves. He’s learned how to navigate your body after months of supposed emotionless fucking, but now? Now, he felt as if his heart may just burst through his chest. Every reaction you make to his every touch ━ the needy plea to have him make you his, call you baby ━ makes him want to see more, and more.
“Am I?” You ask hoarsely. He grasps at his dick, guiding his tip to your core, so slick and wet, glistening with your own arousal. As he pushes himself in with a hiss, he watches as you contort beneath him. “Nnngh, Jungkook━”
“Fuuck,” he groans. He sinks into you, spreading your thighs further and further apart, until his hips make contact with yours. His mouth attacks yours with a feverish passion, the rumble of his moans and your whimpers muffling against one another. Then, he remembers to answer your awaiting question, barely audible between the way his tongue lavs at yours. “You are. I’m so fucking in love with you. But I don’t deserve you.”
Your hands tug impatiently at his hair. “Stop saying that.”
“But it’s true,” he hums. He’s quick to start rutting at your hips in a steady yet agonizing pace, dick burrowing into your pussy as your walls throb and shake. He can’t help but watch, mesmerized as always by the way his length slips past your folds and disappears into you. Again, and again, and again, so lewdly destroying your pretty cunt. “Just want Yukhei to touch you all over instead, don’t you?”
“No,” You croak.
You spread your thighs instinctively wider apart, allowing him to sink even further into you until it feels as if he’s hitting you so far in your stomach. Each roll of his hips is punctuated by the crude noise of skin against skin, sending you spiralling.
“Want him to do all sorts of dirty things to you, huh?”
“N-No. Fuck, Jungkook━ Harder, please━”
“That’s what you said,” Jungkook retorts. Still, he listens to your pleas, snapping his hips into yours roughly enough to send you jolting back on the bed. His hands start to roam your body, pinching at your hips, then grasping ferociously at one of your breasts. “Want him to fuck you in his car, right?” His palm feels like fire as it slides up past your collarbones to your throat. “Want him to choke you.”
His hand comes to wrap around the underside of your jaw on your throat, thumb and index finger pressing against the pressure points there. He squeezes, though with barely any force, just enough to feel your rapid pulse beneath his digits in a way that makes you so suddenly hyper aware of everything he’s doing to you. Cock stretching you wide, palm heavy around your throat, mouth folding over yours. So caught up in the overwhelming sensations you’re feeling, you can’t tell if he’s genuinely upset with himself, though you suspect part of him is. You can sense it in the way he clings to you a little tighter, can see it laced within his dazzling pupils.
Jungkook huffs, hair flopping into his eyes as he grits his teeth and ruts his hips faster into you if only to see more of your pretty little reactions. Your jaw unhinges at the feeling, head falling back onto the pillows. “He could probably treat you nicer too.”
You shake your head wildly, fingers digging into the skin on his shoulders. “Just want you, Koo.”
“Still?” he asks. His grip on your neck fastens a little more, pure euphoria riddling all your senses and making you writhe beneath him. “God, you’re such a dumb little slut, aren’t you?”
You nod in your groggy exhaustion, the familiar burn coiling in your stomach, making your toes curl.
Jungkook feels your own high approach. Your walls are clenched so tightly around him, he has to sputter for air. “Could he make you feel like this?”
“No, Koo,” You whine. “Only you.”
“Yeah?” Jungkook growls. “Good girl. Gonna cum around my dick like the good little slut you are?”
Your hips ricochet upwards to meet his, relentless pounding into your core. “Please, please━”
Jungkook quickens his pace until you’ve deteriorated into absolute shambles, whimpering his name after each thrust. You tumble towards your high, cuming around his length as he burrows it into you again and again, and all he can think is mine, mine, mine. As you unravel beneath him, he slides his hand off of your throat and slithers it underneath you and around your waist, hoisting you slightly enough off the bed so that he can reach his own orgasm. He’s a little more frantic now, sloppy and restless as he pummels into you.
“Shit, baby━” he cries out. “Oh, fuck, you’re so good━”
As you come down from your high enough, you somehow manage to murmur drowsily, “Cum in me, Koo. Wanna feel it.”
You grab at his face, pulling him down to catch his lips on yours, and the thought is so tempting he can’t refuse. He gets so lost in your lips, cuming with one final slam of his hips into yours and a chorus of curses mingling with your name in whimpers. He rides out both of your highs with a few half-hearted thrusts, more concerned with kissing you in useless open-mouthed kisses as your own mouth parts with one last weary moan while he fills you up.
When he’s spent, he collapses against your chest, and you collapse onto the bed. It’s quiet long enough for the both of you to calm the shrill beat of your hearts when you feel Jungkook stir, moving to part from you, pulling his dick from your swollen pussy and planting a lingering peck on your cheek. He disappears momentarily but returns a few seconds later, towel in hand which he uses to wipe at your core now leaking with his cum and your heart croons at all his tender touches.
It makes you realize all at once that, god, yes, you’re so in love with your idiot best friend and he’s so in love with you.
He turns to look at you, an adoring smile dancing upon his lips when he sees your own radiant beaming face. You beckon him over and he relents, letting you pull him into your arms. He nuzzles his face in the crook of your neck as he wraps his own arms around you to tug you closer to his side. As your fingers come to rake through his sweaty hair, he cranes his neck to follow your hand and hear him coo against your neck, “That feels so good.”
A sudden thought crosses your mind that has you smirking smally to yourself. “Are we… Are we cuddling? Jungkook, I thought you didn’t like cuddling. Said it was, and I quote, sentimental bullshit.”
“I never liked it because it wasn’t with you. Didn’t wanna waste my time on someone that wasn’t you,” Jungkook hums, matter-of-fact. You can tell he’s a little embarrassed at the way you so casually taunt him about such an obvious fact, though he’s fortunate you can’t see him smiling like a complete fool. “And I wanna do all that sentimental bullshit with only you. Now, shush━” He scolds you playfully. “M’so tired and I just wanna hold you tight.”
“Can’t argue with that.” Your heart leaps in your chest. “Just promise me one thing?”
It’s only then that he lifts his sleepy gaze to find yours, apprehensive of any potentially looming severity in your words. “Anything.”
Instead, all he can find is the way you trace your finger along the details of his face, from his nose, to his cheekbones, down to the freckle under his lip with the hand that sports your friendship bracelet. “In the morning, when we wake up, you’ll still be here to hold me tight. And every other morning after that.”
His smile widens even more, if that was even possible. “Wouldn’t want it any other way. But━”
“On one condition.”
“What’s that?”
His eyes sparkle cheekily. “Kiss me.”
So, you do, again and again and again; and Jungkook thinks, yeah, he certainly can get used to this.
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It takes you a month to cave in to Jungkook’s incessant pleas to fuck you to his sex playlist. You do it mostly to humour him, though part of you is a little bit intrigued at the thought.
Stowed away in his room, he eats you out to the choruses of sultry The Weeknd and raunchy Ariana Grande songs, fucks you to the likes of the Neighbourhood and Kim Petras while you’re on all fours, and you’re only half-paying attention to the music until you hear it. Admittedly, you almost completely miss it but you blame Jungkook and the way he’s making you currently feel, sprawled out beneath him, chests pressed flush against one another in a sweaty, sticky mess, breathy and glorious moans of your name filling your ears when━
“I had no choice but to hear you. You stated your case time and again━”
The dulcet chime of Alanis Morissette thrums about the room, a complete and utter shift in contrast in the atmosphere that has you immediately pausing.
“Jungkook.” But he knows what you set out to say even before you do, judging by the tone in your voice and the stifling smirk on his face. You gawk at him, biting at your lip to hide your laughter but you fail miserably. “You weren’t joking?”
He shrugs innocently, leaving you just as dumbfounded as you were two seconds ago. Instead, he says, “Gotta do what I promised then, don’t I?”
You quirk a brow. “What was that exactly?”
“Gotta give you the best orgasm of your life.”
“If you can do that to cheesy 90s pop, I’ll have your actual babies, Jungkook.” The effort is endearing and impressive, to say the least.
A roll of your eyes is met with a taunting roll of his hips into yours that wipes the jest off your face immediately. He grins like a madman, uttering a little stupidly, and a little ardently, “Say no more.”
Because, all things considered and joking aside, he wants it with you ━ the dazed daydreamy talk of a future together and kids, friendship bracelets, and cuddles in the morning. Because you mean the world to him and more. Because you’re his best friend, and he’s so madly in love with you.
Because he wants it all with you.
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kpopfanfictrash · 7 months ago
Ember Burning (M)
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Author: kpopfanfictrash
Creative Contributor: @baebae-goodnight​ for this MOODBOARD WOO!
Pairing: Jungkook / Reader
Rating: 18+
Genre: Fantasy / Dragon / Enemies to Lovers
Synopsis:  The dragon riders of Duret Ghal are known across the continent; fierce warriors who take to the skies on their leashed, winged beasts. You are the last Dragon Queen of Ashya, ruler of a dying species who can transform from human to Dragon at will. When a new foe emerges which threatens both Dragon and rider alike, you find yourself forced to broker peace with your former enemy. The King of Duret Ghal, and a dragon rider himself: Jeon Jungkook.
NSFW Warnings: oral (male and female), nipple play, fingering, multiple orgasms, big cock, dirty talk, hair pulling (her to him).... tattooed, man-bun jungkook who has a big sword
Trigger Warnings: somewhat graphic depiction of a shoulder injury  
Word Count: 36,079
Soaring through azure-colored sky, golden wheat fields spread out below, you could almost convince yourself duty did not exist. It was easy to pretend while disconnected from the ground – flight broke the strings which bound you to all mortal beings. You ceased to be of flesh and bone and instead became one with the air, the wind, and the wildness of flame in your throat.
The Thadal mountain range loomed ahead, its jagged peaks piercing the sky. Idly, you wondered if they truly did. Legends said Natal, who had created the world and everything in it, formed the Thadal range last of all. Exhausted by the sheer effort of creation, her hand had slipped, causing the tallest of peaks to rise higher than planned. This ripped a hole in the veil which guarded this world from the next and before Natal could fix it, magic slipped through.
It had been the dragons who slumbered in the mountains’ highest peaks who received this blessing.
Dipping a wing, you wheeled about in the air. With the sun at your back, you surveyed the splendor of your realm laid beneath you.
Ashya, land of the Dragons – of which you were Queen.
Stifling the sigh which rose at the thought, you turned from the furthest rim of the world and began the flight home. A return to duty, to obligation and to your human form, as well as the conflict which loomed on the horizon. Not to mention the sleeping King within your castle walls.
Each of these weighed upon your shoulders, replacing the freedom you’d felt in the air. As you shifted to human, donned a gown, and entered the castle, the sun had barely risen above the lip of the world.
And your true day was only beginning.
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From the thunderous expression on Park Jimin’s face, it was clear you needed to do something, and quickly.
Your choices were either to interject and stop a second war from breaking out at your table or sit back and watch while King Jungkook was pummeled into the ground by the esteemed commander of your armed forces.
Admittedly, the second option was tempting. You would so dearly love to watch the crown knocked from King Jungkook’s perfect tresses, but pettiness was unbecoming when far greater evil lurked on the horizon.
With a wave of your hand, you signaled Jimin to sit back.
The remark which had so enflamed your commander came from one of Jungkook’s advisors, a Lord Kim Seokjin you’d only met once prior. He had insinuated, in so many words, the power of your kind was nothing more than a parlor trick. Something to be taken out at parties, but incapable of truly defending your realm.
Jimin’s steely gaze remained fixed on the Lord, a thin line of steam rising from the seat where he sat. It was never wise to anger a Dragon, especially not a renowned fighter like Jimin. There was a reason he’d been named the youngest commander in over a century, and it was only partly because your people had dwindled in size since the last Dragon War.
The Dragon Wars were the reason it was truly remarkable for you to sit in the same room as King Jeon Jungkook at all. Only a hundred years had passed – barely a blink, in the grand scheme of things – since your nations had been labeled bitter enemies.
Duret Ghal, Jeon Jungkook’s nation, was home to the fierce dragon riders. Warriors who tamed the dull, vicious beasts of the mountains and rode them into battle. Their riders were human, although they fancied themselves important because they dared to treat dragons – albeit a less intelligent kind than your own – as glorified steeds.
You, on the other hand, were a Dragon.
Not one like what King Jungkook rode into battle. Duret Ghal bonded with dragons, mere animals ungifted by magic and unable to transform into humans. You were a Dragon, descended from the first magical beings blessed by the veil. Those who had shifted to the flesh of their enemy to defeat humans on their own terms.
At will, you could shift from human to Dragon with barely a thought. Beneath your smooth, human exterior lurked the scales of a dragon, and Lord Seokjin would do well to remember this while he sat at your table.
Tilting your head, you looked his way. “Would you care to repeat yourself, Lord Seokjin? The way you phrased your objection just now made it sound as though you were doubting my people.”
Although Lord Seokjin hesitated, he met your gaze. This surprised you. Few humans had the courage to look a grown Dragon in the eyes. You were well-aware of the rumors which plagued your people.
Some insisted Dragons held power beyond that of humans. This was untrue, of course. Aside from their shifting, Dragons could not use magic. It was only the offspring of a Dragon and human who could wield magic, often called gifts.
Then there was the rumor Dragons retained scales in places best left unmentioned when they transformed into humans – also untrue. Once you became human, you were nearly indistinguishable from your more stagnant counterparts. The main differences were your skin, which ran hotter, the occasional steam from your lips and hidden embers which flickered in the depths of your gaze.
Your unusual eyes were likely the source of the third rumor. Looking a grown Dragon in the eyes would result in paralysis, or worse. This was also untrue, although you liked to encourage it all the same.
It made meeting human dignitaries much more amusing.
“I am not saying Dragons are not fierce,” Seokjin said, backtracking a little. “Merely observing your numbers have diminished since the last Dragon War. Without Duret Ghal’s riders, you would be at a disadvantage against the Mor Empire.”
To this, you had no response because Lord Seokjin was right. He had easily identified your current problem – Mor continued to press upon your southern border, and there were not enough Dragons left in Ashya to defend it much longer.
To your right, Jimin scowled, knowing the truth to this as well.
It was the main reason you’d decided to meet with King Jungkook at all. The reason you considered entering an alliance with a country who’d once been considered your enemy. The Empire of Mor, a nation of humans, had recently decided to rid themselves of all dragons.
This declaration placed both your nation, Ashya, and Jungkook’s at risk.
Ashya, since you were Dragons and Duret Ghal because they rode them. The Mor Empire was led by Emperor Cyan, whose quest for dominance had consumed him since he was a child. His Empire had already gobbled up the quiet Kingdom of Mica to the west and Kindare, to the south. Now he’d set his eyes on the northern wilds.
His largest obstacle to this was the dragons. Few human soldiers could keep from shitting their pants when a great, winged beast breathing fire rose above their ranks. Ironically enough, the sole reason the Mor Empire stood a chance was because the number of Dragons had greatly diminished over the centuries.
There were two main reasons for this.
The first were the Dragon Wars – centuries of bloody conflict between Ashya and Duret Ghal. During this period, dragon riders had fought Dragons for control of the northern border. The wars had caused untold damage on both sides until a truce had been called to save you from destruction.
The second reason for your diminishing numbers were the humans themselves. In order for a true Dragon to be born, two Dragons needed to mate and continue to bloodline. When a Dragon mated with a human, the resulting child was human. Occasionally, this child was blessed with a magical gift, but not always – and they could not shift into Dragon form. Over the years, your kind had mingled with humans until there were few Dragons left.
Hence the need to align yourself with your greatest foe to protect both your people and his. You needed numbers, which Jungkook had. Emperor Cyan had declared war against all northern realms. Only the might of riders and Dragons together stood a chance against him.
It was a mission of fools though, made even more evident by the blatant ill-will around the table. Releasing a sigh, you glanced to where your most trusted advisor, Min Yoongi, was seated on your right.
Min Yoongi was not a Dragon, but a human born with a gift. He could read the emotions of those in the room and determine whether they told the truth. It was magic he’d inherited from his Dragon mother and had come in handy many times during the negotiations.
Subtle, Yoongi nodded.
You managed to stop a second sigh from escaping. It seemed Lord Seokjin was telling the truth. He truly did respect the Dragons, which made his second statement all the more troubling. It would have been easier had he hated you.
“We may be at a disadvantage without Duret Ghal,” you admitted. “But you are equally disadvantaged without Ashya. If our realm were to fall, Mor would come for you next.”
“We could have this same argument for hours, Your Majesty,” Jungkook drawled, speaking up for the first time. “And we have. I grow tired of this stalemate. What are the terms you require to sign the treaty?”
Jaw tight, your gaze shifted to the King seated opposite. Jungkook stared back at you, his gaze dark and lidded in the flickering light of the fire.
Jeon Jungkook was a young ruler, like yourself, but while your transition of power had been relatively peaceful, his had been anything but.
The former King and Queen of Duret Ghal had been slain by his Uncle, Lord Vonner, when Jungkook was only eighteen. Duret Ghal had been close to signing a treaty with Ashya at the time. In said treaty, your hand in marriage had been promised to Jungkook in exchange for unified lands.
Obviously, opposition had existed on both sides of the treaty, but things had not turned violent until Lord Vonner. He’d risen against his sister and brother-in-law, killing them both in their sleep and claiming the throne. At the same time, he had sent assassins to your land and attempted to kill your parents.
He’d only succeeded in killing your mother.
The blood of Lord Vonner’s actions had ended your betrothal, throwing your lands into chaos while your father roared his revenge. It was only once Jungkook had usurped and executed his Uncle that your land had tentatively agreed not to retaliate in force.
This had taken place nearly ten years ago, and still Jungkook was not yet thirty years of age. His youthfulness was apparent everywhere but his eyes. These had been hardened, darkened by all he had seen and done.
Looking at him now, it was difficult to place the boy you had once known.
“Use of your ports,” you answered. “Free travel for Ashyan merchants along the roads to said ports, and then usage without the current fees.”
Lord Seokjin chuckled. “You must be mad.”
A low growl left Jimin’s throat – a warning. “How ironic to hear you speak of sanity, Lord Seokjin,” he said. “When you dare to insult the Queen of Ashya within her castle walls.”
Holding up at hand, you bade Jimin to cease.
Jimin was even younger than you were, and twice as hot-headed. Admittedly, he had good reason to despise Duret Ghal. His father had been killed in a skirmish on the northern border when he was barely twelve. There was a subset of Ghalians who despised the humans who dared to love Dragons. When a Ghalian woman had fled, seeking the protection of Ashya at the northern border, a mob had fought your soldiers and Jimin’s father had died.
Still, Jimin needed to remember you had a job to do. As your commander, he was well-aware of the weakened state of your armed forces. The treaty between Ashya and Duret Ghal needed to happen in whatever way possible.
Ignoring the interaction, Jungkook merely raised a brow. “No fees?”
Although his voice remained calm, a hint of steel lay beneath the silken words. You could hear it plainly, as did Yoongi based on the way he stiffened.
“No fees,” you repeated.
Jungkook exchanged a glance with Seokjin.
“It is not possible,” he said at last. “Our nation’s ports remain the primary source of income for many Ghalians. Now that Mor has conquered Kindare, they have free access to their ports and fail to use ours. It is only the revenue from Ashya which keeps up afloat.”
“I do not ask you to forsake all payments. Merely those from Ashya.”
Jungkook’s teeth flashed in what might have been a smile but came off as a grimace.
“Ashya provides half the sales at my docks,” he informed you. “By granting your nation free trade, you cut my people’s livelihood in half.”
Somewhat chastised by this, you sat back in your seat. You had not realized Duret Ghal’s economic outlook was so dire.
When Ashya had been a land of only Dragons, the fact you were landlocked had not been a problem. You could simply fly where you wanted and take whatever with. Now though, Ashya had more humans than Dragons and you were forced to find more accommodating solutions.
Ashyan craftspeople were famed for their metalwork, in addition to textiles, but such trade would be useless without people to buy and places to sell. For years, Duret Ghal had steadily increased their tariffs, which in turn had steadily crippled your people.
Returning to Jungkook, you clenched your jaw. “And what would we need to give Duret Ghal in order for our demand to be met?”
The corner of his lip curled.
In this singular motion, you were reminded of Jungkook’s somewhat brutal reputation. After the coup of his Uncle, rumor had it Jungkook had been bloodthirsty in his quest for revenge. Lord Vonner had been put to death in the main square of their capital city, roasted alive by Jungkook’s dragon, Nemrys.
You had not faulted him for this at the time, having also lost people at the hands of Lord Vonner. It was hard to imagine the type of pain Jungkook had gone through, losing both his parents and his throne in a single blow. Despite your understanding, you knew some had disapproved. They’d whispered amongst themselves the King had lost a better part of himself on that day.
“Shares in your mines,” Jungkook said in answer to your question. “Given the current situation with Mor, we’ve had difficulty collecting on some of our foreign loans. A fifty percent share in Ashya’s mines would ease our cash flow problems.”
Your lips tightened in response.
Jungkook had managed to touch upon Ashya’s main source of riches, and a large reason for the previous century’s Dragon Wars. Much of the Thadal range fell within your borders, meaning you owned the majority of gemstones on the continent. It meant little without Duret Ghal’s port cities, however. Mor had ceased trading with Ashyan merchants long ago.
Still, it pained you to grant Jungkook access to your most coveted resource. Everything in your nature – Dragon and otherwise – went against it, but sacrifices must be made for the greater good. You’d entered these negotiations aware this might happen. Another advisor, Lord Kim Namjoon, had warned you of it beforehand and yet, you had hoped.
If you did not find a compromise soon though, Mor would overtake you and the point would be moot.
“Ten percent,” you said at last, lifting your chin.
Jungkook’s eyes gleamed. “Forty.”
Jungkook paused, then glanced at Seokjin for counsel. Bending close to the table, Seokjin scribbled something on a piece of paper and sighed. Looking at Jungkook, he nodded.
“Twenty,” Jungkook said, facing you.
You nodded, but before Jungkook could get too cocky, you held up a hand.
“In return,” you said. “All fees will be waived on Ashyan merchants.”
Jungkook stilled, a lone muscle ticking in his jaw. “I can lower the tariff to a flat rate of two and a half percent, but no more.”
The current tariffs on Ashyan merchants ranged from three to eight percent. Two and a half would benefit all Ashyan merchants, but you were uncertain if Jungkook had more to give. Possibly he was low-balling you, unwilling to show all his cards at once.
Glancing at Yoongi, you watched him slowly shake his head. No, the King was not lying.
Blinking, you returned to Jungkook. You had not expected him to show his hand so quickly. Perhaps he also tired of these negotiations. Gaze narrowed, you attempted to read the young King at the other end of the table.
His face remained blank, as inscrutable as your own. A shiver of something traveled down your spine, although you quickly pushed this away.
“We can accept this,” you said.
Jungkook nodded. “Then we are in agreement.”
Pushing your chair back, you stood from the table. “I think we have made enough progress for today. Lord Namjoon will draw up revisions for the treaty.”
Lord Namjoon nodded, near the center of the table. He was also a Dragon, although he rarely saw battle. Namjoon’s talents lay elsewhere, mainly in crafting legislation which aimed to avoid war in the first place. You could not afford to lose a mind like his to some border skirmish.
As you turned around, the skirts of your gown swept the floor. You’d nearly made it to the door when a firm hand caught your arm.
“A moment, Your Majesty,” Jungkook said, his voice low.
Going utterly still, your gaze shifted to his hand on your sleeve. Glancing up, you wished you truly had the power to turn humans to stone. It would have made these proceedings much easier.
Jungkook had dressed casually for the meeting. He seemed to have come straight from his dragon, since he wore riding leathers. He had no crown, unlike you. Amara, your lady in waiting, had insisted you add the thin, silver diadem before leaving. It lent you an air of authority, she’d said.
It seemed Jungkook could command his authority without such trinkets. The realization made you straighten, meeting his gaze several inches above yours.
“Yes?” you said, your voice frosty.
Jungkook released his grip.
A move you thought wise, all things considered. Behind him, you saw your advisors gathering their reams of paper. They chatted amongst themselves, purposefully ignoring the Ghalian retinue. All except for Lord Namjoon, who spoke politely to Lord Seokjin about a provision of the treaty.
To Lord Seokjin’s right sat Kim Taehyung, a dragon rider whose reputation preceded him. The general of Duret Ghal’s army, he had remained silent throughout the entirety of the negotiations. Based on how often he looked out the window, you got the feeling he preferred to spend his time in the sky and not amongst stuffy people.
Honestly, you could not blame him. Even if his kind of flying were a poor imitation of yours – seated astride a dragon, rather than becoming one himself.
Clearing his throat, Jungkook returned your attention to him.
“Is there something you want, Your Majesty?” you said, growing impatient. “I have a nation to run outside of these meetings, you know.”
A smile curled his lips. “I am aware.”
“So long as you are aware, then.”
You moved to walk past, but Jungkook stopped you again. Teeth gritted, you exhaled steam past your lips.
“What?” you snapped, turning to face him.
Something unreadable stole through his gaze. “We need not have these conversations at all,” he said, dropping his voice. “If you would agree to my original proposal.”
Immediately, your expression shuttered.
“Good day, Your Majesty,” you said and walked past.
This time he did not follow, falling silent as you swept from the room. Yoongi and Jimin joined your exit, the latter tossing a haughty look towards the Ghalians. Namjoon remained in the room, likely to continue his conversation with Seokjin.
As you walked away, you tried and failed to push Jungkook from mind. The offer he alluded to was completely ridiculous.
Seven months prior, Jungkook had sent a message to you after nearly a decade. He’d proposed several items, amongst which was a request to resume your failed betrothal. A list of reasons had been provided. Your nations were on the verge of war, the merger would benefit you both financially and would go a long way towards healing the realms.
Equally politely, you had declined.
It had been a long time since you’d sworn not to marry – or mate, as it were. The mating bond was a possibility for both Dragons and humans. Dragons only mated once in their lifetime, which tended to be longer than ordinary humans. Your parents had been mated to each other, meaning you’d witnessed firsthand the tragedy of their ending.
You would choose an heir when necessary, of course. You weren’t so selfish as to plunge Ashya into civil war when you died because you did not wish to mate. You’d even considered a marriage of practical alliance, one with no chance of mating, but the appropriate circumstances had yet to present themselves.
For this reason, amongst others, you had declined Jungkook’s offer.
Coming to a stop in the hall, you bade Jimin and Yoongi goodnight before continuing on your way. The sun had long since sunk below the horizon. Negotiations with Duret Ghal had taken up most of your time since their arrival in Valor, Ashya’s capital city, nearly ten days ago.
Outside your chambers, you nodded to the guards before entering. Once the door fell shut behind you, you released a sigh.
Straightening, you strode to your dresser and seated yourself at the mirror. As you removed your crown to set on its pedestal, you stared at the silver.
It was not as though you wished to be alone forever. Truthfully, you found yourself exhausted at the end of each day. It would have been nice to fall asleep beside someone and wake with them by your side. Each time you imagined the prospect though, you recalled your father’s death and thought better.
Both Yoongi and Namjoon knew the King had proposed.
Not Jimin, which was for the best. If you had accepted Jungkook’s offer, it would have taken a lot to convince Jimin to remain at his post. He had barely accepted the necessity of a treaty between Ashya and Duret Ghal.
Namjoon had been practical when he heard of the proposal, which you had expected. Lord Namjoon could be practical to a fault, known to ‘factor in’ emotional responses when making decisions. Privately, you thought him a nice foil to Jimin.
When you’d told Namjoon about the King’s offer, he had simply nodded and said it made sense. He acknowledged, of course, the difficulties such a match would present, but did not seem to think it would be a bad idea.
Yoongi had been the one who surprised you. As someone with decisive opinions, you’d imagined Yoongi wouldn’t approve of the match. Instead, he had merely suggested you consider the offer. When you had declined, Yoongi had seemed almost disappointed. It could be hard to tell though, since the Lord usually kept his emotions close to the chest.
Undoing the laces of your gown, you let it drop as you entered your bathing chambers. Amara had left heated water and oils, flickering candles set around the edge of your sunken tub. Lowering yourself to the water, you tipped your head back to rest on the edge.
Today ended only the first week of negotiations between you and Jungkook. Another week remained – you could survive this much, you reasoned. One week from now, you’d have much needed relief for your merchants, along with an ally against the looming threat of Mor to the south.
Only one more week, and Jungkook would be gone.
Ignoring the strange tingle which spread down your spine at the thought, you held your breath and lowered yourself underwater.
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Lips pursed, you stared at yourself in the mirror.
Amara hovered, pins in her mouth while tightening your corset. Your dress for the evening was a mix of old and new – although you despised corsets, this one cinched your waist tight enough for the armor-like bodice. Skirts flowed like water to the ground, brushing the floor with emerald chiffon.
Tonight, you had decided to throw a feast honoring the upcoming treaty with Duret Ghal. The event had not been your idea, but Namjoon’s. He believed it would increase the goodwill between you.
You had protested this until Namjoon pointed out there’d been little to celebrate recently. Realizing the truth to this statement, you’d reluctantly acquiesced to two events. Tonight’s feast and a ball, to be hosted their final night before Duret Ghal left.
Inhaling, your eyes watered as Amara cinched the last hook.
“My apologies,” she said, casting a sympathetic glance in the mirror.
Mutely, you shook your head, not blaming her in the slightest. It was not her fault women's fashion tended to be barbaric, more often than not. It was why you preferred to wear looser gowns, ones you didn’t need your lady in waiting’s help to undo.
Amara had been your companion ever since you were little, although you could not exactly call her a friend. You were her Queen, first and foremost. There was no one else in Ashya for you to call an equal.
“Amara,” you said curiously, glancing up. “What do you think of the Ghalian King?”
Startled by your question, Amara nearly dropped the pins she held. Her wide brown eyes stared back at you in the mirror and briefly, you wondered if she thought this a trap. Possibly you needed to work on your resting facial expressions. Yoongi said you were too harsh, but then again, hearing this from Yoongi was the pot calling the kettle black.
“You can answer me honestly,” you said, a bit gentler. “It has been a long week of negotiations and I find myself wondering what people think of the treaty.”
“Well.” Amara looked thoughtful. “I rather think those are two different questions, Your Majesty. Do you wish to know what people think of the King, or the treaty?”
She was correct, you realized. The two were different, even if they were one and the same in your mind.
“Both,” you responded.
Turning towards the mirror, Amara began to fit the bodice over your bust. It was elaborate, with swirls of silver and emerald stitched into the hard lining.
“Well,” she said, hesitant. “Of course, people think the young King is handsome.”
“He is a rider,” you said sharply.
“It is not as important to humans,” Amara reminded gently. “It does not offend so much as it does the Dragons. And objectively speaking, the King is handsome. He could smile more,” she admitted. “But this does not seem to deter from his handsomeness.”
“I suppose not.”
Seeing your expression, she laughed. “You did ask me to speak honestly, Your Majesty. The people find the King handsome, but they do not trust outsiders. Especially Ghalians. Most have a family member who perished in the Dragon Wars.”
None of this was new information, although it did irk you to hear Jungkook’s looks were a topic of conversation in Valor. It was always like this with men versus women. The moment a male monarch had a somewhat pleasing expression, people were willing to forget all manner of atrocities committed in the past.
“And what of the treaty?” you pressed.
Amara bit down on her lip. “Well…”
“It depends. Some oppose it, much as they did the treaty all those years ago. Others look forward to the potential trade gains. And still others,” Amara said, a knowing edge to her voice, “think you should accept the King’s proposal of marriage.”
Jerking upright, you prompted Amara to nearly stab you with a pin.
“Amara!” you gasped, looking down.
She blinked in surprise. “Yes, Your Majesty?”
“How… did you hear that?” you said, utterly flummoxed.
“It was only a guess.” Amara shrugged, a ghost of a smile at her lips. “Many villagers wondered if there were other reasons for His Majesty traveling all this way. They imagined you must have declined his offer, since nothing official has been announced.”
You stared at her in shock, a bit thrown by the assessment. Perhaps it had been naïve of you to assume no one would guess based on Jungkook’s elongated presence.
“I see,” you said at last. “The skirts, if you please, Amara?”
Sensing you were done with the conversation, Amara nodded and hastened to fasten the fabric. You stared at the dress in the mirror, willing your racing pulse to slow.
Your gown for the evening was emerald green; one of the colors of Ashya, along with the color of your scales as a Dragon. It had always been a source of pride for your parents, as though Natal herself had proclaimed your destiny.
As Amara arranged your train on the ground, you stared at your reflection. Most of what she said you had already known. Ashya had been divided for a long time now on how to proceed with Duret Ghal. You knew whatever choice you made, there would always be those who opposed you.
And yet, it was strange to hear some rooted for a union.
Glancing at Amara, you found yourself curious. “And what do you think?” you asked. “What is your opinion of the Ghalian King?”
Amara’s fingers hesitated on your hem.
“Me?” she said as she straightened. “I am sure I do not know, Your Majesty. I do not know the King personally, so it is hard to say.”
You nodded, having assumed as much.
“Although…” Amara hesitated, drawing your gaze back to her. “How a person treats their servants is usually indicative of their personality. Take Lord Larkin, for example,” she said, naming a wealthy noble at your court.
“What about him?”
Amara looked down. “His servants are skittish. They mostly keep to themselves at the request of their Lord. It is rumored he keeps a strict household, and his wife is inscrutable.”
Knowing what you did about Lord Larkin, these facts did not surprise you. He had an archaic mentality of most things – dutifully, you filed this information away for later use.
“What of His Majesty, then?” you said. “How do his servants treat him?”
“They seem to admire him.” Amara stood straighter. “From what I have seen, they seem to genuinely enjoy working for him and respect him. I know he has a fearsome reputation, but… perhaps it is only towards his enemies.”
“Whom we used to be,” you noted drily. “Until now.”
Her head bobbed in a nod. “This is also true.”
Despite this, Amara’s words lingered as you finished dressing. It was quite possible your feelings for Jungkook personally had clouded your judgement of him as a ruler.
There was not time to linger on this, since Yoongi arrived soon after to escort you to the great hall. You would be the last to arrive for tonight’s feast, which was customary.
Noise from the hall grew as you approached the doors. Tonight’s event would be more casual than the ball a week from now, but casual was relative since you’d been forced to wear a corset and the meal would feature no less than twelve courses.
As the doors swung open and you began to walk in, all noise within the hall ceased. Ashya’s great hall had seen centuries of celebration, along with conflict and conquest. At one point during the Dragon Wars, Valor had been briefly occupied by Duret Ghal. During this time, the banners hung on your walls had been blue and gold, instead of emerald and silver.
Entering the room with Yoongi at your side, you sensed the gaze of every inhabitant upon you. Focusing straight ahead, you did your best to ignore this. It had never felt natural to you, being the center of attention. You did so for the sake of appearances but had never enjoyed the sensation.
At least you had Yoongi, who looked handsome as usual in his formal attire. With his dark, sweeping hair and keen gaze, Yoongi would have made an excellent King consort. Unfortunately, your relationship had never progressed in this direction and frankly, Yoongi was not important enough to consider marriage without love.
Glancing your way, Yoongi caught your eye. “Is there something in my teeth?” he muttered.
Stifling a laugh, you faced forward.
“No,” you said. “I was only thinking about choices.”
Although Yoongi arched a brow, he said nothing in response. Now was not the time for an in-depth conversation. People bowed as you passed, a veritable rainbow of fabrics and colors. At the front of the hall, a table had been placed atop the raised dais. Behind it, the banners of Ashya and Duret Ghal had been strung.
High above, evergreen boughs entwined with the chandeliers, carefully spaced so they would not catch fire. Evergreens were considered sacred, symbols of Natal’s everlasting power. Although the winter solstice had not yet arrived, the air in Ashya was cold enough for them to thrive.
Your visiting guests had already arrived you saw as you approached the dais. To your surprise, you saw women traveled in Jungkook’s party. On the other side of Taehyung stood a lady with dark hair, right hand resting on the pommel of her sword.
Although both genders fought in the armed forces, it was still considered an unusual path for a woman. It was a pleasant surprise to see both men and women amongst the soldiers Jungkook had brought to greet you.
Seokjin wore robes of deep purple tonight, eschewing the colors of either nation. It was nearly as bold a statement as Taehyung, draped in the royal blue of Duret Ghal beside him. As you neared the table, both of them stood, and your gaze finally fell upon the man at the center.
Jungkook was already on his feet, a golden crown on his head in contrast to your silver.
Your gaze traveled lower, realizing he’d worn robes of midnight blue as well. His waist had been bound in a golden sash, robes flowing to accentuate his trim thighs. At his side, his sword remained hidden, a decorative golden tassel placed before the hilt. It was not the broadsword you’d seen him wear on his dragon, but a more formal rapier made for ceremonies and balls.
His gaze lingered on you as you approached, sweeping your body in similar fashion. Your skin burned each place he lingered, flames consuming you from the inside.
At the bottom of the steps you paused, and Jungkook inclined his head. His gaze remained fixed on yours the entire time.
After ascending the dais, you stood before your chair and surveyed the room. Long rows of tables and benches stared back, along with the faces of your many subjects. Taking a deep breath, you raised your chin.
“Citizens of Ashya and Duret Ghal,” you said, your voice ringing out. “We gather this evening in uncertain times. Much as Natal crafted the first light from darkness, so are better things forged in the fire of adversity. Although dark days lie ahead, I know they will only strengthen our bonds to each other.”
At your side, Jungkook listened with rapt attention. The rest of your speech was conciliatory, bland words about coming together for the betterment of both nations. Namjoon had written most of it and, in the corner of your eye, you saw him mouthing the words.
You only went off-book once, near the end.
“It is important now, more than ever, to remain united in the face of such a foe. Mor seeks to wipe us from the map – and why? It is because we are strong.” The entire great hall had gone silent, focused on your words. “We have what they will never obtain and so, they seek to destroy it. To destroy us, but I will not let them. We will not let them,” you corrected, glancing a Jungkook.
He looked at you and nodded.
“And when they do come to face us,” you said, turning forward. “We will show them exactly why they were right to fear our teeth and claws.”
A roar echoed through the hall, several shooting to their feet to vocalize approval. Turning around, you sat in your seat as gracefully as you could and arranged your gown.
Jungkook was next and once he began speaking, Yoongi leaned over.
“Nothing like a little bloodlust to get the party started,” he murmured.
You winced. “How bad was it?”
Yoongi chuckled. “They seemed to enjoy it. Lord Namjoon might not forgive you so easily.”
Glancing down the table, you saw Namjoon rubbing wearily at his temples. You nearly laughed at the sight, schooling your features to neutrality when you remembered Jungkook still spoke.
His speech was brief, which did not surprise you. During the time you’d spent in his presence, Jungkook struck you as a man with little bullshit, or patience.
Once he was finished and seated beside you, you waved a hand for the meal to start.
In the corner of the room, a string quartet began to play. Doors opened on both sides, allowing servers inside holding trays of food. As the first course was set before you – a medley of greens with spiced, mashed nuts – you reached instead for your cup of wine.
Even this strained your bodice, but you managed. One of the many perils of being a woman in power was navigating foreign dinners while wearing a corset.
“The ballroom is beautiful,” Jungkook said by your side.
Surprised, you turned. “Small talk, Your Majesty?”
He shrugged and took a bite of his greens. “You do not seem inclined to discuss important topics outside of our negotiations.”
“And what important topics would you care to discuss?”
Jungkook paused, setting down his fork to face you fully. Eyes gleaming, his lips parted, and you felt your heart start to race.
Yoongi cleared his throat at your side.
Both of you turned to stare at your advisor.
Eyebrows arched, Yoongi motioned towards the front. “The greeting line has begun,” he said.
Realizing he was correct, you sat back in your seat. Already, the line of subjects stretched down the main aisle. Lords and ladies, merchants and townsfolk, all attempting to curry favor with their monarchs. Reaching out, you gripped your wine glass to drink again. Yet another reason you disliked feasts, balls, and the like.
The politicking side of ruling had never come naturally to you, although you did practice. It meant endless hours of hobnobbing, spending time with people fawning for your favor. Still, it was important to meet with your citizens and hear their concerns. If only most of your court weren’t completely unbearable.
Inclining your head, you allowed the first two to come forward.
When they came into view, your expression softened. You had expected nobility, and instead found yourself faced with two tradespeople, by the looks of them. The man and woman had worn their best attire, immaculately neat under the scrutiny of court.
“Merchant Calum and his wife, Natalia,” said the announcer at the front.
You smiled in response to their curtsy and bow.
“Thank you for coming,” you said, and gestured for them to rise. “We are so glad you could join us tonight.”
“It is our honor, Your Majesty,” Natalia said, looking up.
“Is there something particular you came to discuss?”
Her gaze slid to Jungkook and you tried not to stiffen. Likely, they had come to see the King of Duret Ghal. It had been more than ten years since Jungkook had last entered Valor. 
“No, Your Majesty,” she said, her gaze sliding to you. “No favor to ask. We simply wished to see you in person. I apologize for my husband’s lack of speech in your presence,” she said, reaching for his hand. “He lost the ability during a fire in the mines years ago.”
“I see,” you said gently.
Looking at him, you signed your thanks for his attendance tonight. The man brightened, signing back gratitude for the invitation. His wife beamed, thanking you once more as the announcer stepped forward to hurry them on. It seemed their allotted time in your presence was up.
As they left, Jungkook glanced at you curiously. “Where did you learn how to sign?”
“Occasionally, one wishes to communicate without being overheard.”
Jungkook allowed the matter to drop but continued to look your way.
The true story was longer.
A year before your father had passed, you’d decided to join the Ashyan forces. You had called it a part of your training, but the reality had been the castle was empty and cold after your mother died.
No one had known who you were when you enlisted. You’d entered a regiment far enough away for few people to have ever walked the streets of Valor. It was where you’d met Jimin, whose parents had been Dragons of relative unknown. Under your parents’ regime, Jimin would never have been named commander.
This had been one of the first laws you overturned after your coronation – the blood laws, which had decreed only noble lines could serve in certain positions. Jimin was more Dragon than most of the realm. He fully deserved the title of commander.
While you served in the army, you’d also fallen in love for the first time. Leo had been human, from a western province so far away, it nearly fell off the edge of the map. An encounter with riders had left him without speech, so everyone in your regiment had learned to sign to communicate.
Unsurprisingly, your love had not lasted. As soon as Leo discovered who you were, things had come crashing down. When your father’s condition had worsened and you returned to the castle, your title and demands were placed on display.
Leo was ultimately forced to make a choice – a life of duty with you, or relative freedom in the western wastes. He chose the latter.
None of this was pertinent to your conversation with Jungkook though, and so you kept quiet and welcomed the next guest. A wealthier Ashyan merchant, to whom you made veiled references about lower tariffs which seemed to please him.
Once he had gone, you realized Jungkook continued to glance your way. Ignoring him, you motioned for the next group to be brought forward, but when they came into view, you stiffened. Following your gaze, Jungkook took in the two men who’d made you go still.
Lord Larkin and his son, Lord Declan – the very same nobility Amara had spoken of earlier. While you’d never liked the pair of them, your opinion had obstinately worsened based on what she’d said.
Lord Larkin bowed, silver hair shining in the candlelight above. His son, Declan, lowered his head as well. You waited a moment longer than necessary before asking them to rise.
“Lord Larkin,” you said flatly. “And Lord Declan. What a pleasure to have you both attend tonight.”
“The pleasure is ours, Your Majesty,” Larkin said with a nod. Casually, he glanced at Jungkook. “We wished to extend our welcome to the rider King, as well. It is certainly unusual to see a human seated beside an Ashyan Queen.”
Jungkook merely smiled.
Admittedly, the gesture didn’t do much to brighten his countenance. The warmth of his smile failed to reach his gaze. On the table, Jungkook tapped his long, agile fingers. You realized with some surprise they had been inked.
Tattoos were not uncommon amongst soldiers, but it was rare to see them amongst members of nobility. You found yourself curious what other marks the King bore.
“I imagine it would be unusual for any man to side beside your Queen,” Jungkook said calmly. “Dragon, rider, or any variation within.”
The implication to Lord Larkin was clear – you are not seated beside her, either. Seeming to understand, Larkin’s eyes flashed while he inclined his head.
You fought not to smile.
Lord Larkin owned two of the largest mines in the Thadal range and was integral to the Ashyan economy. It would be unwise to anger him or his family, a line you’d tiptoed around since your coronation. Especially once it became clear Lord Larkin wished to align his son, Lord Declan, to you in marriage.
For a while, you had considered the idea. Their family was powerful, in possession of both lands and titles which would enrich the crown. Lord Declan was also a Dragon, ensuring the royal Ashyan line would continue unhindered.
It had been Yoongi who advised caution. You were still young, new to the throne and with plenty of time to make an heir. Better to first gain control of your nation and consider the offers of a political marriage after. You had known even then Lord Declan was not your mate, no matter how much his father wished for him to be.
Mates were a mysterious thing in your world. They could be either Dragon or human and did not always present themselves in an obvious manner. A person could stand before their mate several times before realizing the bond.
People spoke of the signs, though. Some likened the beginnings of the bond to slow trickles of energy. Others described it as sparks caressing their skin. Still more mentioned an invisible thread which tied them to one another.
None of this you’d felt with Lord Declan, so you felt fairly comfortable saying he was not the one. And yet, you knew Lord Larkin would continue to bide his time.
“It is unusual for a male to sit by my side, you say?” you mused, sipping your wine. “Whatever do you imagine Lord Yoongi to be, Your Majesty?”
Lord Declan laughed, which prompted a glare from his father.
Jungkook tore his gaze away from the Lord. He glanced instead at Yoongi, who seemed determined to ignore your conversation while he finished his greens.
“A very pretty piece of décor,” Jungkook said at last.
At this, even Yoongi smiled. Stifling a laugh, you returned to the Lords who remained standing before you.
“He is most horrified to hear it, I am certain,” you said. “Although if His Majesty considers Yoongi’s looks to be his best asset, perhaps he is the foolish one at this table.”
Jungkook smiled at this, reaching out for a sip of his wine. He seemed more relaxed, less formal and you marveled at the change in his features.
“Is there anything else you wish to discuss?” you said, returning to the Lords.
Their time with you had been longer than the townspeople but then again, this was oftentimes the way of things. Lord Declan nodded, but Lord Larkin simply looked thoughtful, glancing between you and Jungkook. At last, he bowed his head.
“That is all,” he said. “Thank you both for your hospitality.”
Once they had left, you sagged in your seat.
“Pretty.” Yoongi snorted. “I shall have to write home and tell mother immediately.”
Jungkook laughed in response – a real, honest sound which made your heart flip in your chest. It was your first time hearing such a noise from his lips during this visit. It fractured your thoughts into a million pieces.
Rather than confront any of these pieces directly, you looked at Yoongi. “Now, there is food in your teeth,” you said.
Yoongi shrugged, lifting his spoon to fix his reflection. Returning to the waiting line, you gestured the next guests forward.
The rest of the evening passed smoothly. Most of your conversations were kept short, allowing only enough time to greet and move on. By the end of the line, your head was beginning to ache.
Collapsing into your chair, you released a sigh. The line, consumption of wine and lack of food had begun to create the perfect storm. At the next lull of music, your stomach growled in a most unbecoming fashion.
Closing your eyes, you prayed to Natal no one had heard.
“Have you eaten at all?” Jungkook asked from your side.
Opening your eyes, you wondered if perhaps the goddess was busy. Or maybe she simply didn’t care about mortal whims and petty Queens. Looking to your side, you found Jungkook frowning at your full plate.
“I have eaten some,” you said, and cut into the meat.
Before you could stop him, Jungkook had raised a palm to signal the server. “Was there a problem with your plate?” he asked, returning to you. “Or do you simply prefer to eat alone?”
Startled by how earnest Jungkook sounded, you were silent while waving the server away. The poor man fumbled a little, taking a few steps backwards before he turned around.
“Nothing of the sort,” you said, glancing at Jungkook. “The food is fine, and I do not care about eating before others.”
He seemed baffled. “Then, what is it?”
“It is my corset,” you hissed, lowering your voice. “Or have you never sat beside a woman at dinner before?”
Jungkook’s eyes widened, drifting below your neckline. Amara had done an exceedingly good job at making certain you filled out the bodice. A lone muscle ticked in Jungkook’s jaw before he looked up.
“I have sat beside women before,” he said.
“What a delight.” Reaching out, you plucked wine from the table. “I am glad to hear it is not my responsibility to teach you about the fairer sex.”
His gaze narrowed. “Corsets are not as fashionable in Duret Ghal as they are here, Your Majesty,” Jungkook said lowly. “I have never had the pleasure of removing one before.”
Gaze snapping to his, you met his darkened stare. A flicker of heat curled in your belly, making you feel even more light-headed.
Before you could respond, Seokjin asked a question and Jungkook was forced to turn away. Hastily, you sat back and faced forward again. Reaching again for your glass, you took a large sip of wine.
Amara was not wrong. Jungkook was handsome and you were no better than the many people who’d come here tonight to look at the attractive, young King. Inwardly, you cursed your weak morals.
“He is not wrong, you know.” Yoongi continued to chew on your other side. “You should eat before coming to these events, Your Majesty.”
You shot him a look. “And when I desire your opinion, I shall ask it, Lord Yoongi.”
“I thought you paid me to advise you?”
“Only under specific circumstances.”
“And what circumstances would those be?”
“When I ask.”
Yoongi laughed, setting down his fork to reach for his glass. “Will you at least send up food to eat afterwards?’
“Of course,” you said, pushing your meat aimlessly away. “This is not my first gathering, you know.”
Yoongi nodded and the two of you fell into comfortable silence. The conversation had lessened some of the tension between you and the King. And yet, you continued to be aware of his presence beside you.
On the table, his hand rested close enough for you to see. Tanned fingers entwined with black ink, his palms roughened by callouses, proof of the leather he gripped when he rode.
Jaw taut, you continued to drink from your glass of wine. Long before it was considered polite, you yearned to stand and retire for the evening. People danced after the final courses, but it was a paltry thing compared to a real ball.
Once most of your guests had begun to leave, Namjoon agreed it was acceptable for you to go. With great relief, you stood and said your goodbyes. Yoongi went with you, following you towards a separate hallway to avoid foot traffic in the castle. Halfway down the hall, you heard someone say your name from behind.
Turning around, you found King Jungkook striding towards you. His robes swished about his ankles, head held high despite the wine and the hour. As he came to a stop, you turned towards your advisor.
“You may go, Yoongi,” you said, dismissing him. “I will return to my rooms after speaking with His Majesty.”
Yoongi hesitated, then took his leave. You watched him disappear down the hall, waiting until he turned the corner before you spoke again.
“It will seem suspicious for us to leave at the same time, Your Majesty.”
Jungkook made a dismissive noise. “I am not concerned by the thoughts of people in there.”
“An odd way to think of your subjects.”
He considered you standing before him. “You have a very low opinion of who I am and how I run my Kingdom.”
“No,” you said. “Merely of the idea of you running mine.”
Jungkook blinked, taken aback by your statement, but his confusion did not last long. After a moment, he stepped forward to close the space between you.
“Is this what you think of me?” he asked, voice low. “You think I asked for your hand in marriage – why? To become King of Ashya without the difficulties of waging war?”
“It would be a practical way to go about it.”
Jungkook’s gaze scanned your features. “I do not desire to rule Ashya in your stead. Merely to provide the best solution for both our peoples.”
Standing this close, you could feel the heat from his body. His scent was a living thing, wrapping your limbs, coaxing you closer – teeth gritted, you fought the need to take a step backwards.
“That is what you say, Your Majesty.”
He stiffened. “Are you calling me a liar?”
“I believe there are things you do not tell me.”
“And what about you, Your Majesty?” Jungkook tilted his head. “You have declined my offer of marriage and have yet to give a reason.”
“Do I need to give you one?”
“I would like one.”
“I should think you used to disappointment by now,” you said. “Such is the lot of Kings and Queens.”
He stared at you for a moment, his features softened by candlelight. A feeling almost like regret stole through you, gone before you could fully embrace it.
“Do you remember the last time you visited Duret Ghal?” Jungkook asked, which surprised you.
You stared at him a moment. The suddenness of the question pushed all retorts from mind. Thus far, you had held firm to your vow not to marry by convincing yourself the man standing before you was your enemy.
Now though, he asked if you remembered.
In truth, you did.
It had been your seventeenth birthday when you last traveled to Duret Ghal. The occasion had been to finalize your parents’ treaty, as well as formally meet Jungkook as your betrothed. You had met a few times before then, as children, but it had been a long time since those days.
Duret Ghal was a land of icy wilderness, except during the summer, when harsh winter snows melted to expose greenery and cliffs. Rumors said the dragons kept their bays clear of ice, but you had gone at the wrong time of year to see this in person.
To the north of Duret Ghal lay the Irik Sea, a fathomless expanse of foamed troughs of water. Its only mountains to speak of were the famed Cliffs of Oria, which circled the capital city of Ebril. It was within these cliffs the famed dragons nested.
Ebril was situated along the coast, known equally for seamen as much as their riders. The people of Ebril were known to be craggy and sharp, much like the topography. Despite their reputation, Ebril was a city of learning. Built from the white limestone which lined its cliffs, it was occasionally referred to as the jewel by the sea.
Ebril had not been the only thing which fascinated you on that trip. You had found Jungkook equally intriguing.
He had been different then. Still quiet, but in a studious way. His hair had been shorter, as though he could not be bothered with the time it took to comb it.
Upon your arrival, you had thought Jungkook hated you. He could not seem to stand being in the same room as you for very long. Still, he had not seemed antagonistic and so, you had resigned yourself to a loveless marriage and spent time exploring the city.
One morning, you’d woke to find the day warm enough for a trip to the cliffs. Your parents had been busy from sunup to sundown, negotiating the treaty you now found yourself crafting. Back then though, you’d been blissfully free of obligation and duty.
Having never seen the Cliffs of Oria, you’d gone to the stables to secure a mount. Strictly speaking, you did not need one as a Dragon. Ideally, you preferred to fly by yourself, but your parents had warned you against shifting in Duret Ghal.
Although some things had changed since the Dragon Wars, many Ghalians still did not trust your kind. It was never a good idea to push boundaries, especially not when the treaty depended upon it.
You had even borrowed Amara’s clothes in an attempt to blend in. It had been a practical move on your part, since you’d been packed only dresses.
When you’d arrived and requested a horse from the palace stable hand, he had looked you up and down before sneering.
“You’re Ashyan,” he’d said upon hearing your accent. The word Ashyan sounded like a curse. “I heard some of your kind had come to the castle. Thought you could fly without horses, huh? What need do you have with a Ghalian mount?”
You’d been so taken aback, you blurted out the first thing which came to mind.
"If you know so much about Ashya,” you’d told him, gaze hard, “then surely you know more humans live within its borders than Dragons. Humans cannot sprout wings any more than a man like you can see reason.”
The man’s eyes had bugged, taking a threatening step forward – as a soft laugh echoed through the courtyard. Surprised, both of you had turned towards the sound.
In the archway of the stables, Jungkook had shut his book in one hand. “That was funny,” he said, looking at you.
Upon seeing the Prince, the stable hand had paled.
“Your Highness,” he said, hastening to bow.
Jungkook’s gaze slid towards him, any trace of humor disappearing. He stared at him coldly and for a moment, you’d seen a hint of the King he would become.
“I believe the lady asked for a horse.” Jungkook had spoken calmly. “Were you about to deny the request of a royal guest to the crown?”
He did not call you the princess and for a moment, you had wondered if he knew.
“Of course not, Prince Jungkook,” the stable hand had stammered and for a moment, you’d felt a modicum of pity for him.
Then the man had cast you a dark look entering the stables and you'd quickly forgotten your mercy. Instead, you’d found yourself wondering how loud he’d scream if you shifted.
Jungkook cleared his throat.
Looking at him, you’d found him lingering in the entrance to the courtyard. Curiosity washed through you, wondering if he intended for you to thank him. The idea was vaguely insulting. You could have handled one measly human.
“I did not need your help, you know,” you had said.
Jungkook had merely arched a brow. “Oh, I am aware.”
Turning around, you had considered the conversation to be over. While you stood and waited for your horse though, you realized Jungkook did not leave. After another moment, you’d turned towards him.
“Then, why did you interject?” you’d asked, suddenly curious.
Rather than answer immediately, Jungkook had crossed the courtyard. He came to a stop before you, forcing you to tilt your head back to see him. For a human, you remembered him being quite tall.
That close, you’d seen Jungkook’s eyes for the first time. They were not all brown, as you’d imagined. Instead, you saw many colors within – auburn, hazel, and a deep, burnished gold. 
Meeting his gaze frankly stole your breath away.
“You are my guest,” Jungkook had said. “And my betrothed. It is my duty to protect you.”
Looking away, you’d tried not to smile. Despite the fact you were trying not to laugh, it felt oddly wrong to be free of his gaze.
“Why are you smiling?” Jungkook had asked, confused.
“I am sorry,” you had said, biting back a smile. “It is only… well. Is that how women are raised in Duret Ghal?”
“I beg your pardon?”
Before you could answer, the stable hand had emerged with a horse in tow. Accepting the reins he gave, you’d placed a foot in the stirrup and swung into the saddle. Settling your weight, you’d leaned forward and pet the horse’s long mane.
Glancing up, you’d locked eyes with Jungkook. “You speak of women as though they need protection. I must say, it has never been something I needed or wanted,” you’d said quietly, then clicked your heels and steered the horse away.
You had not looked back as you rode from the castle, but felt the weight of his gaze between your shoulder blades the entire way. It had sent the strangest energy across your skin but once you reached the trail, you managed to push both this and Jungkook from mind.
The sea had always been a subject of endless fascination for you. Crossing the grassy plains which topped the Cliffs of Oria, you’d found satisfaction in the salty taste of the air.
After nearly an hour of riding, you’d slowed to a stop. Before you, the Irik Sea had stretched in an endless display of blue. It reminded you of the sky with its limitless potential. As soon as you thought this, you had the dearest wish to fly.
Glancing away, you realized you’d seen no other humans for miles. Quietly, you slipped from your horse and tied him to a tree.
Entering a nearby thicket, you’d changed from your clothes and placed them under a rock. When you transformed to a Dragon, it tended to shred whatever clothing you wore.
Naked as the day you’d been born, you stood under the sky and tipped your head back. Allowing the transformation to take hold, warmth had spread through your veins until – opening your eyes, you were a Dragon.
Humans referred to this as the change, but you’d never found it to be an accurate descriptor. It was not as though you changed from one thing to the other; merely shifted to a different part of yourself. You were always a dragon and always a human. To be a Dragon was to be both.
Wings unfurled, you’d bent and leapt into the sky. It always took you a moment to reorient after shifting. Your senses of sight, smell and hearing were sharper as a dragon, although some things were different.
Beating your wings against the sea breeze, you’d risen and fallen while surveying the cliffs. From this height, you’d been able to see the smaller cities which dotted the fields of the capital. Ebril shone like a star on the distant shore. Instead of flying towards this, you turned in the opposite direction. You had no desire to be seen and send their women into hysterics.
Remembering Jungkook’s words, a jet of flame left your nostrils in a wicked snort. The idea of protecting a Dragon was laughable. Wheeling sideways, you’d traveled further out over the ocean. It had been silver-green at the time, bright as the clearest Ashyan jewel.
Growing bolder, you’d flown lower and skimmed the waves with your toes. Swooping higher, you’d circled again before diving straight down. When you plunged beneath the surface, the coldness of the Irik snatched fire from your lungs. Sputtering, you’d breached the surface and shot into the air to hang there, gasping.
Then you grinned and dove again.
For the first time in months, you’d allowed yourself to have fun. Ever since you’d turned sixteen, you’d become infinitely aware of your title and duty. Your duty to marry, to someday become Queen and leave your childhood behind. You’d wondered why you needed to give up fun and freedom, all for someone else’s hand.
In truth, the idea of marriage had scared you. Riders enjoyed taming dragons, or so the legends had said. They’d taken your ancestral creatures and turned them into beasts who willingly did their bidding. You had no desire to do anyone’s bidding but your own.
After a long day of flying, you’d tucked in your wings and returned to the cliffside. Although you had told your parents where you were going, they would worry if you were not back in time for dinner. Approaching the spot where you’d left your things, you realized a second horse had been tethered beside yours.
Searching the plains, you’d immediately spotted Jungkook. He lazed in the sun at the edge of the cliff, book open on his stomach and one arm behind his head.
He did not so much as look up when you landed, although the noise from your wings must have been deafening. Dropping into the thicket, you’d quickly returned to human form. With trembling hands, you’d pulled back on Amara’s clothes.
As you exited, Jungkook remained in his same position. Upon seeing him there, you’d stopped and looked away. Perhaps he had not seen you after all.
“How was your swim?” Jungkook had asked, eyes still shut.
Your stomach had dropped.
“I can explain,” you’d said, stepping forward.
One eye opening, Jungkook had frowned. Pushing himself to his elbows, he’d surveyed you and it had struck you suddenly how beautiful he was. Brown curls and soft gaze, above a lean body.
“What do you have to explain?” he’d asked, sounding curious.
“I – well.” For the first time, you’d found yourself flummoxed. “I did not mean to take advantage of Duret Ghal’s hospitality.”
This seemed to amuse him. “Are you… apologizing for using the sky, Your Highness?”
“No. Well, yes.”
Something in your expression made Jungkook soften. Closing his book and setting it aside, he’d stood from the ground and began to walk closer. He came to a stop near enough to see the tiny mole beneath his lip.
“Some Ghalians fear Dragons, it is true,” he’d said quietly. “But you need not ever fear this from me, Your Highness. If someone asked you not to fly in my Kingdom, please consider this to be a formal revocation.”
You had stared at him a moment before arching a brow. “It could be dangerous to fly, though. I might be in need of protection.”
Jungkook had paused for a moment before laughing, his head thrown back and smile wide. It was the same laugh he’d made tonight at the banquet.
“Forgive me for earlier,” he’d said, lowering his head to meet your gaze. “It was foolish of me to imagine I might protect a mighty Dragon.”
Although he’d adopted a teasing tone, seriousness lit his gaze. You found you rather enjoyed it. Enjoyed him, against all better reason. The slightest of thrills went down your spine.
“Foolish, indeed,” you’d murmured.
In your mind though, you’d wondered if perhaps you were the foolish one.
Although the day had been nearly ten years ago, you had never forgotten it. Never forgotten the boy who’d wanted to protect a Dragon.
The answer to Jungkook’s question was a resounding yes.
Yes, you remembered. Perhaps too much.
“I remember some,” you said, fighting to keep your voice steady. “Not all.”
Jungkook paused. “I see.”
“If that is all, I shall –”
“We were to be married before,” he said, expression inscrutable. “Is the idea of marrying me now so repulsive?”
“I do not find you repulsive,” you said on instinct.
Too late, you realized you’d eliminated an answer. You did not find Jungkook repulsive, so your reason for declining was something else.
He considered this. “No?”
“I do not,” you admitted. “But I also don’t know you, Your Majesty. Our former betrothal ended nearly ten years ago. The intention was to mend a rift between two nations. The situation is different now. Now, we have a common enemy to unite us.”
“And once Mor is defeated?”
“The defeat of a mutual enemy will be enough.”
Jungkook gave you a look which plainly said, will it?
Growing increasingly frustrated, you stepped forward until you stood nose to nose. Tilting your chin higher, you fought the overwhelming tide of his cedar and sunshine.
“You asked if I remember our last meeting and I do,” you said hotly. “I also remember the carnage which followed. Do not ask from me more than I can give, Your Majesty.”
A shadow crossed Jungkook’s expression, quickly followed by anger.
“If you remember so well,” he said, eyes narrowed. “Then surely you remember it was my Kingdom, not yours which paid for the coup in blood. It took me many years to rebuild what my Uncle destroyed.”
“I did not mean –”
“I think you did,” he interrupted. Taking a step back, he allowed cool air to pass between you. Stiffly, he bowed. “Thank you for the evening, Your Majesty. Enjoy the remainder of your night.”
Turning around, Jungkook strode down the hall until he disappeared.
You remained still for a moment, staring after him and wondering what you had done. All you’d wanted to do was to steer the conversation away from your vow not to marry. Instead, you’d insulted a man who had done nothing to harm you – at one point, he’d even wanted to protect you.
Gathering your skirts, you turned and walked away. Yoongi had not waited for you, for which you were grateful. You had no doubt he’d side with King Jungkook regarding your display this evening. Anyone with half a brain would, you supposed.
Still, it was too much for Jungkook to expect you to marry him simply because you had once been engaged. You’d been right about one thing – the situation was different now. You were different now and could not afford to let Jungkook get any closer.
You’d witnessed firsthand the kind of disaster such unions wrought.
Climbing the steps to your chamber, the crown on your head felt heavier tonight than ever before.
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The sun had not yet risen when you left your bed the next morning. Donning a gown, you hastily braided your hair and slipped outside. Nodding hello to your guards, you hurried down the corridors and out a side door.
As the land of Dragons, Ashya had developed unique features attuned to their needs. One such accommodation were the sheds – tiny, low buildings with large yards beyond them. They rested on the opposite side of the stables, since horses tended to be spooked by dragons and the main purpose of the sheds was for Dragons to shift.
Entering the one closest, you shut the door and began to undress. Hanging your clothes on the wall, you strolled into the enclosed yard. Its walls were high enough to ensure no passersby saw, yet large enough to encompass an adult Dragon.
Inhaling a breath, you tipped your head back and let the shift come. Wings unfurling, you opened your eyes and set your forelegs upon the ground. Bending low to the dirt, you pushed yourself upwards and into the sky.
Soaring over the castle, you began to fly southeast of the city. Valor sprawled out beneath you, a haphazard city of cobblestone and flint. Smoke curled from the chimneys, the earliest households waking for the day.
To the east, the foothills of the Thadal mountains were covered in pasture. Sheep and goats grazed there; their wool favored by Ashyan merchants. Circling overhead to ensure all was well, you found yourself satisfied and began to climb higher.
This was one of your favorite pastimes. Flying high enough that even your Dragon’s breath froze in your lungs, crystallizing in bursts until you could no longer bear it. Then you dove, tucking your wings in to hurtle towards the ground.
At the last moment, you snapped your wings open and rode the wind.
Snorting a thin stream of smoke, you slowed as you approached the mountains. The first rays of dawn broke over the horizon, spilling their light between the rocky crags. Inhaling fresh morning air, you flew further south.
The Thadal range was truly one of the wonders of the continent. Flying between towering peaks, you did not question why the Dragon Wars had been fought for its riches. The mountains went on for miles in the east, a flight you’d only made once. It had taken you nearly a week to cross the entire range and at its end you’d found a desert similar in size to the Irik Sea.
When you had returned, your father had berated you. Your mother had died only a year prior and he had only recently managed to pull himself together. If you had died, he’d shouted, the entire future of Ashya was lost.
It was a heavy burden to bear, but one you’d shouldered after his passing. Everything you did was for your nation and people. You would be enough for Ashya and would guard against the kind of attachments which might put this at risk.
As the sun slowly rose, the tightness in your stomach increased. With the rising sun came the responsibilities of being Queen. You had a schedule to keep, meetings to attend with Duret Ghal, your advisors and a large group of nobles.
Tucking in your wing, you began to turn – only for bright, searing pain to hit you in the shoulder.
Crying out, you fought to keep stable while twisting around. Wings beating the air, you frantically searched for your attacker. Vision blurred, you scanned the tree lines below and found nothing.
A second bolt shot towards you. With great effort, you managed to dodge the strike, rolling in midair. Mid-twist, you realized a large iron bolt remained lodged in your shoulder.
Stomach curdling, you realized what danger you were in. Only Mor had crossbows strong enough to kill a Dragon. Somewhere beneath you lay a Mor patrol.
Searching the woods, you felt hot drops of blood dripping from your scales. Before you could retaliate, before you could so much as inhale, an arrow of darkness shot into your vision.
Jungkook, astride his dragon, Nemrys, laid waste to the mountain.
A great wave of fire engulfed where the Mor patrol had been. Faint screams rose from below, a final shot fired but its aim was way off, as though whomever had done so, did so out of panic.
Wings flapping, you tried to stay aloft, but to no avail. It was hard to bring down a Dragon with a single bolt, but Mor had perfected their technology over the past century and you’d been caught unawares.
Nemrys continued to torch the forest even as you dropped, struggling to stay alight. Vision turning black, you thought you heard Jungkook yell – or maybe it was your own subconscious – before you spiraled down, wings cutting through branches before you hit the ground.
Everything went dark after that.
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Groggily, you woke to the sound of your name being called.
Fabric had been draped over your torso, softer than the dirt beneath your back. As you opened an eye, you realized you’d shifted to human. This happened occasionally when you went through a great shock.
As soon as you thought this, you remembered the attack. When you attempted to sit upright, a gentle hand gripped your shoulder. Re-focusing through the haze, you realized it was Jungkook who knelt beside you.
His expression remained on your arm. A shudder of pain wracked your body, which had been covered by his cloak, you realized.
Except for your shoulder, that was.
Catching a glimpse of it on the ground, you winced and forced yourself to look away. The lower part of your arm remained unscathed, but the upper portion was in bad shape. All you could see was blood, shredded muscle, and bone peeking through.
“The arrow,” you breathed, head spinning. “Where is it?”
“Knocked loose when you landed,” Jungkook said, tight-lipped. “Which was lucky, given how large the bolt was. Had you shifted while it was still in your shoulder… I do not know what might have happened. Still…” He paused. “You have lost a lot of blood.”
Turning aside, Jungkook began rummaging through a pack on the ground. Dizzily, you glanced around the forest clearing.
“W-where is Nemrys?” you asked, your teeth chattering.
Jungkook looked back with alarm. “I left him in the clearing,” he said. “There was not enough room for him to land.”
“And this is… your cloak?”
Jungkook nodded but said nothing more. He was dressed in all leather, a broadsword strapped to his back in a pragmatic sheath. When he turned your wrist over, you let out a hiss and his gaze snapped to yours.
A war seemed to wage within him as Jungkook sat back on his heels. “You have lost a lot of blood,” he repeated.
“There are healers in Valor,” you said, struggling to sit up. “You must bring me to them.”
Jungkook gripped your good shoulder again. “You cannot shift in this state, and I fear moving you would aggravate the wound ever further.”
You glared at him from the ground. “What do you propose, then?”
Even as you spoke, it occurred to you the situation might be bad. Right now, shock and adrenaline kept the pain at bay, but it would soon wear off.
“I stopped the blood flow as best I could,” Jungkook said. “But it continues to bleed. I fear you may lose consciousness before we reach the capital.”
Panic rose, choking whatever retort you had to say. If you lost consciousness now, it would only be a matter of time before your organs began to fail. You could not die here. You would not; not on an unknown forest floor, miles away from your home.
You would not be brought down by a single Mor patrol before you even got the chance to face them on the battlefield.
“What are the options,” you said, returning to Jungkook. “Do you have a tourniquet with you? Can Nemrys cauterize my wound? I can survive the loss of a limb, Your Majesty, but I will not leave Ashya so poorly defended.”
Jungkook stared at you a moment before he slowly exhaled.
“There is another option,” he said at last.
“Whatever it is, you best do it quickly. Before I pass out and leave you to wrestle with your conscience alone.”
Suppressing a grimace, Jungkook finally nodded and rolled up his sleeves. It exposed sinuous forearms and ink which, in any other circumstance, you might have found appealing. As it was, you merely found them distracting.
Jungkook hesitated before laying his hands on your arm.
“You must…” He paused, then swallowed. “You must trust me, Y/N.”
The use of your first name was shocking enough for you to fall silent. Nodding, you stared at the sky and laid as still as you could. The pain had begun to set in; you could feel phantom tingles from your injured limb. Dull, shooting pain which throbbed in your shoulder.
At first, nothing happened.
Jungkook’s hands remained on your arm and for a moment, nothing changed. Then – a flurry of sparks skittered down his hands. They sank into your skin so quickly, you thought you’d imagined it.
In response to this, the pain flared, and you arched your back.
“Steady,” said Jungkook, calloused hands on your body. It could have been your imagination, but his dark eyes seemed to glow. “The pain will be gone soon.”
As he spoke, more and more sparks traveled down his forearms. They increased until a golden stream of light poured from his fingertips, fracturing into pieces and – healing you, you realized.
Each place the golden light touched, your muscles reknit. Blood flowed back to the wound as your skin stitched itself together. Shocked, you stared at the evidence of your wound being erased. A bead of sweat rolled down Jungkook’s brow, his color turning sallow while you stared in alarm.
“Jungkook,” you rasped, chest rising and falling. The steady stream of light continued to brighten. “Jungkook – enough.”
He inhaled and jerked back, severing the connection.
Still breathing heavily, you stared at him in shock. The forest around you seemed darker, as though it, too, missed the light. Missed the golden magic which had poured forth from his fingers.
Shakily, you pushed yourself to a seated position, one hand on his cloak to hold it in place. Glancing down, you saw your shoulder and went still. He had healed you. Somehow, Jungkook had healed you.
Experimentally, you flexed the muscles and watched the skin ripple, undeterred.
You’d heard of healing magic but never experienced it in person. Magic was rare enough for not all gifts to be born in the same lifetime. There was also the small matter of neither of Jungkook’s parents being Dragons. Only a human with a Dragon parent could inherit magical gifts.
“Explain,” you said, gaze lifting to him.
Jungkook blinked. “Excuse me?”
“Explain,” you repeated, not looking away. “How did you heal me?”
Finally understanding, Jungkook sat back on his heels. Twisting around, he rummaged in his pack for a canteen and unscrewed the cap. As he took a long sip, Jungkook stared at the forest.
His exhaustion was clear, and you felt a glimmer of regret at your words. Regret – and something else. Something warmer, which wrapped you in golden tendrils as easily as his magic.
Clutching the cloak, you stared and realized you were being unfair. First and foremost, he had saved your life. Everything else could wait.
“Thank you,” you said quietly.
Jungkook stilled.
“I do not know how, nor why you healed me,” you continued. “But… thank you for doing so.”
Setting down his canteen, Jungkook waited a moment before turning to face you. He seemed to wrestle with some inner emotion.
“You are welcome.” After another beat, he reached into his sack. “Here,” he said, pulling out a ball of clothes. “If you wish to change into my spare clothing, you may. I can wait over there.”
Once you accepted the bundle, Jungkook stood from the ground. Dusting his palms on his pants, he swayed a little before he steadied himself. Before you could comment on this he was gone, trekking across the clearing.
Silently, you unfolded the clothes in your lap.
They included a tunic and trousers, along with a leather belt to hold them in place. Scuffed boots made up the last item of the pile. Running a thumb up their side, you attempted to determine their make.
“Why do you have all this?” you asked, looking up.
Even from here, you could see Jungkook’s cheeks redden. “Nemrys and I were once trapped by a snowstorm. We were forced to camp for the night in the mountains. Ever since then, I’ve always carried supplies. Get dressed,” he said, turning around. “I promise not to look.”
Tough you bristled, you watched and true to his word, he did not turn around. Once you were certain of this, you stood from the ground and began to dress yourself. His tunic was much too large, as were the trousers, forcing you to tighten the belt to its final notch. The fabric was soft and warm though, smelling of him.
Again, you marveled at your ease of motion. You’d seen your shoulder before Jungkook had done his healing and knew the situation could have been worse. If you hadn’t bled out in the woods, you might have lost the limb. Even in older accounts of magical healing, you knew it could be dangerous work. Healing required knowledge of muscles, veins, ligaments, and nerve endings. It was simple to patch up skin – harder to make everything beneath it work again.
Whatever magic Jungkook had, it was powerful.
Once you were fully dressed, you approached him on the other side of the clearing. Jungkook continued to stare pointedly at the woods, only turning around when you tapped his shoulder. He swiftly took in your outfit, gaze darkening at the sight of his clothes on your frame.
Ignoring the possible meanings his look could contain, you cleared your throat.
Jungkook’s gaze jumped to yours. “Are you ready to go?” he said, a bit brusque. “Nemrys is willing to fly us both back.”
Your jaw fell a little. “You wish for me to ride a dragon?”
“I expect you not to undo the gift I gave. Although I fixed your shoulder the best I could, I’d prefer a healer examined you back in Valor. It would be bad,” Jungkook added, seeing your expression, “if the Queen of Ashya were to plummet from the sky after my attempted healing.”
Much as you hated to admit it, he had a point. Magic was tenuous – even you knew how complicated healing magic was.
“Fine,” you muttered. “I will ride back with you.”
When you moved to walk past him, Jungkook grabbed your arm. Bristling somewhat, you stared at his hand on your sleeve.
“What?” you huffed, looking upwards.
Jungkook met your gaze. “Before we go,” he said slowly. “There are things you should know. Things we need to discuss.”
“Such as?”
“Such as my magic,” he said, releasing your arm. “My magic, where it comes from, and what it means for Ashya.”
You stared at him, not understanding.
Jungkook exhaled and ran a hand through his hair. Dark strands fell around his face, partially concealing the worry in his gaze. Of what, or for whom, you did not know.
“Do you know the origin story of magic?”
His voice had deepened, softened a little. Something about this and his expression convinced you not to snap back. Every child on the continent knew the origin story.
“Of course,” you said curiously. “Natal ripped a hole in the veil and before she could close it, magic seeped through.”
“True.” Jungkook nodded. “In your version of the story though, only your kind were gifted with magic. This is not the case. All dragons have magic.”
The world around you seemed to tilt. What Jungkook said was impossible and yet, he seemed utterly serious. For a moment, you wondered if he’d also been hurt in the attack. Perhaps he’d hit his head in his haste to heal you.
“You are the only kind of dragon who can shapeshift,” he continued. “Other kinds of magic exist, though. There are other types of power the dragons can wield.”
“Impossible,” you whispered, finally finding your voice.
“It is true.” Jungkook’s gaze remained level. “Riders can use the magic of the dragon they’re bonded to. It is why I can heal. Nemrys comes from a long line of dragons with healing magic.”
“It cannot be,” you said, reeling from the implications. “Only the descendants of Dragons and humans are born with magic.”
“And riders, once they bond.”
You stared at him a moment, then shook your head. “We would have known. We would… we would have known if someone else could use magic. How could we not?” you demanded.
A shadow of something bitter crossed Jungkook’s expression. “I am sure you are aware there are parts of Duret Ghal which disapprove of magic.”
You did not know how this could relate to the dragons and their riders but allowed the detour to continue. It could not be worse than the sudden revelation magic was different from what you’d always imagined.
“I am aware,” you said flatly. “A ridiculous notion. Magic wins wars.”
“True.” Jungkook seemed to weigh his words. “But those born with gifts are viewed as a necessary evil by some within Duret Ghal. A tool for battle and nothing more. If these people had discovered their leaders had magic?” Jungkook shook his head. “A century ago, Ghalians would have revolted.”
Your eyes narrowed. “They would accept you ride dragons, but not that you have magic?”
A ghost of a smile crossed Jungkook’s lips.
“Humans are gifted magic when a Dragon and human mate,” he explained. “For many years, Duret Ghal considered Ashya and Dragons to be our enemy. You can understand why the idea of magic was an inherent threat.”
“…I suppose.”
“They only accepted the riders because Ghalians imagined the same thing you did – that the dragons we ride are a tame, subservient species compared to your own. It is not so.”
Unable to fathom this, you looked away at the forest. If everything Jungkook said was true, then the history of your nation – of your continent – was a lie. The Dragons of Ashya were only different in that they could shapeshift. The rhetoric you’d believed your whole life, that you were somehow more than the rest, was untrue.
The dragon riders had magic and, realizing this, you turned back.
“Why did you heal me, then?” you asked. “If the Ghalians feel so strongly about magic, surely you would wish to keep this a secret?”
Jungkook hesitated.
“We were… aware of the risk coming here. For many years, I have been trying to convince the other riders to reveal themselves,” he explained. “It was the coming war against Mor which convinced them, in the end.”
“What does Mor have to do with it?”
“Everything,” Jungkook said. “Mor has declared a war on all dragons, including those of Duret Ghal. Their technology is beyond ours. When they do come, it will be a bloody battle. If we do not fight with our full capabilities, we might fail. I will not allow this to happen.”
“And so,” you said slowly. “You healed me because… you had already decided to reveal your magic?”
An amused gleam entered his gaze. “Amongst other reasons,” Jungkook allowed. “Though you may not believe it, I rather enjoy having you around, Your Majesty. It would be a pity to waste a life such as yours.”
There seemed to be deeper meaning to his words, but you had no time to dissect it. Stepping closer, Jungkook looked down.
“We had planned to reveal our magic once the treaty was signed,” he explained. “Your injury simply moved up the timeline.”
“I see,” you said, somewhat dazed by his presence so close to your own.
Jungkook nodded, then turned to continue, but something within you kept you from moving. Staring at the back of his head, you realized the words you truly wanted to say.
“And the other dragons,” you said slowly, then stopped. “What about them?”
Paused at the edge of the clearing, Jungkook turned around. Wariness had entered his gaze.
“I do not know this is my story to tell,” he admitted. “But since you cannot speak directly to Nemrys, I can tell you what he told me.”
Jungkook glanced overhead and you wondered if he searched for the time. Or, you realized, he could be communicating with Nemrys.
You had known rider and dragon had a bond. This had been well-documented throughout history, but not much else was known beyond their ritualistic ceremony. Whether dragon and rider could converse was a controversial topic amongst historians, but based on what Jungkook said, it seemed they could.
Based on what he did now, it seemed they did.
“Thousands of years ago,” Jungkook finally said, looking down. “Natal broke the sky and magic flowed in. It entered all dragons who slept in the mountains below. The magic manifested in different forms. A line of dragons known for compassion became healers. Another line, known for passion and wildness, became stormmakers. And another, always curious, became the shapeshifters.
“Human beings were originally from the south, but as they moved north, they encountered the dragons. Wars were fought between them, bloodier than any of our recent conflicts. Many were killed on both sides, until the head of the shifter dragons decided to become human.
“There was dissent amongst the dragons as to whether this was wise. Many did not like the idea of stooping to the humans’ level, but the shifter line proceeded despite their caution. Your kind founded Ashya and lived in peace for a while.
“Over time, changes took place. Small, at first – and then larger. Some of the shifters chose not to shift, even though they could. Some decided they preferred human form over dragon. In an important conflict, the shifters sided with humans. Certain lines of dragons deemed this to be unacceptable.
“The most feared magic amongst dragons was – and still is – that of the memory dragons. These dragons, though rare, can manipulate thought, memory and perception. As punishment for siding with the humans, they took away your memory of all dragons. Stole your ability to communicate while in dragon form. Over time, your kind have forgotten what you once were.
“It was a terrible punishment. One which has not been given since. That is the whole truth,” he finished quietly. “That is the knowledge which has been kept from your kind.”
Falling silent, Jungkook allowed time for his story to sink in. The forest around you was silent as well, as though it, too, were holding its breath.
You could only stare while struggling to comprehend. If what Jungkook said was true, then you were not different from other dragons – or, you were, but not in the ways you’d once thought. They were as intelligent, as cohesive, and knowledgeable as you were. More, perhaps, if they had hidden this from you for so long.
“And so, rider magic,” you said, a bit hoarse. “How…?”
“Ah.” Jungkook gave a wry smile. “The riders did not come until later. Call it Natal’s judgement, if you will. As time went on, some of the dragon lines grew more curious about humans. One of them somehow bonded with a human. This continued to occur until finally, the King of Duret Ghal himself became a dragon rider.”
“And the riders,” you said, trying to piece it together. “They can use their dragon’s magic?”
Jungkook nodded.
“And you speak to them?” The barest hint of wonder entered your voice. “Can you speak to all dragons?”
“Only the one we are bonded to,” Jungkook said, a bit softer.
“I see.”
He gave you a look. “I know this is a lot to take in.”
“No. Well, yes,” you said as you shook your head. “You have given me much to think on, Your Majesty.”
Jungkook’s expression shuttered a bit at the formality, but he inclined his head. “Indeed, Your Majesty,” he responded.
You stared at him for a moment, taking in the dried sweat on his forehead from the energy spent healing you. Something had changed between you, and you did not know how you could turn back.
“Thank you,” you said softly.
Jungkook glanced up. “For what?”
“For many things, I suppose. For healing me. For trusting me with the truth. I owe you a life debt, Your Majesty.”
An unreadable look passed over his face. “I imagine there will be many life debts between us before this war comes to pass.”
He was not wrong and for a moment, you allowed yourself the luxury of imagining you might face this war together.
“A fair point,” you allowed.
Glancing past him, you surveyed the clearing. Nemrys must be nearby, or Jungkook would not have gotten to you so quickly. Suddenly, the prospect of meeting another dragon held an entirely different meaning. All this time, you had assumed them to be less intelligent than your own and had treated them as such. You could only imagine how little they thought of you.
Nemrys would likely be less thrilled to have you riding him, than you would be in the saddle.
“There is another reason I healed you,” Jungkook admitted.
You glanced his way in surprise. “And what reason was that?”
Jungkook walked closer, step by step until he was barely a foot away. Reaching out a hand, he adjusted his tunic where it fell on your frame. His thumb brushed your bare collarbone and in response to this, you barely suppressed a shiver.
“You said you did not know me.” Jungkook swallowed. “It seemed a shame for our time to be cut short before I could remedy this fact.”
With that, he dropped his hand and walked away.
You stared as he left, feeling utterly thrown until he spoke again.
“Follow me,” Jungkook called. “Nemrys is impatient. Not unusual for a dragon, but he does make a good point. People will be looking for us – I was expected back nearly an hour ago.”
Glancing overhead, you realized Jungkook was right based on the sun's position. It had risen nearly above the treetops, meaning Jimin would have people looking for you soon.
Jungkook kept going as you followed, striding from the clearing you’d made when you fell. It took only a few minutes before the trees had thinned enough for you to come face to face with Nemrys on the ground.
His scales were ebony in color, dark as the night sky above during the witching hour. Only one golden eye could focus on you at a time, but the one which did remained steady as you entered.
Nemrys did not seem happy to see you, and you did not blame him. Dragons were a territorial bunch, whether shifter or otherwise. If Nemrys considered you a threat to Jungkook, he would stop at nothing to protect his rider.
As you exited the forest, Jungkook looked up. “No,” he said sharply, walking around Nemrys’ side.
Curious, you turned and realized he wasn’t speaking to you.
“What did Nemrys say?” 
A growl left Nemrys’ throat, clawing at the ground with a single, curved talon.
Jungkook sighed in response, looking skyward. He seemed thoroughly exasperated, and it was one of the most natural expressions you’d seen on him thus far.
“Nemrys asked if you wished to ride in the saddle, or have him carry you,” Jungkook said at last, looking down.
Gaze narrowed, you turned your head to Nemrys. If you did not know any better, you could have sworn his upper lip curled. To be carried by a dragon meant to dangle upside down from their claw while they flew through the air.
“No, thank you,” you said, walking closer. “Although, I do have something I wish to say to Nemrys.”
Coming to a stop before him, you looked Nemrys in the eye. Nemrys slowly blinked, as though he were extremely uninterested in whatever you had to say.
“Thank you,” you said, your voice softening. “Thank you… for telling me, through him.”
Nemrys stilled.
“And for healing me,” you added, bowing your head. It was a sign of great trust to expose your neck to a dragon. “I cannot find the words to express my gratitude.”
After a moment, Nemrys exhaled and lowered his head as well. Glancing up, you met his gaze and felt something unspoken pass between you.
“He thinks you might find the saddle more comfortable,” Jungkook said, sounding a bit amused at the side.
Lips twitching, you took a step backwards and looked now at Jungkook. Nemrys snorted again, steam exhaled past his lips. In response to whatever he’d said, Jungkook’s cheeks turned a bit pink.
“What was that?” you asked, curious.
“Nothing.” Jungkook glared at the dragon. “Nemrys said we should go.”
Nemrys snorted once more, steam rising as he hauled himself to his feet. It did not seem Jungkook was telling you the entire truth, but the importance of this faded when you saw the saddle. It had not seemed as high when you were also a dragon.
“You sit up… there?” you asked, coming to a stop.
Jungkook hid his smile. “It isn’t as dangerous as it seems,” he insisted, placing a hand on the ladder. “You just climb all the rungs until you reach the top.”
Nodding, you placed one foot in the stirrup and firmly gripped the ladder. As you began to climb, hand over foot, you found yourself holding your breath. Eventually, you reached the top and swung a leg over.
“Careful,” Jungkook called from the ground. “I still want my healer to take a look at your shoulder.”
“I have healers, too,” you grumbled, settling onto the leather.
Jungkook climbed after you, swinging his leg over to land firmly behind you. His right hand found your waist, tugging you back until your spine met his chest. None other would dare touch the Queen in such a manner but then again, Jungkook was also a King.
“I know,” he said, his breath warm on your ear. “But mine are accustomed to dealing with magical healing.”
Unable to argue, you gripped the front of the saddle. Unconvincingly, you tried to make yourself believe it would be like riding a horse. Jungkook’s hand gripped your hip, distracting enough that you nearly forgot what you were doing.
As Nemrys bent and spread his wings, you forced your eyes shut. It was a silly thing, but you’d never flown through the skies when you were not the one in control.
You felt, rather than saw, when the ground fell away beneath you. Wind whistled past your ears, the force of gravity pressing you against Jungkook’s chest. He said nothing in response, merely curled his fingers into the hem of your tunic.
One you felt comfortable, you opened your eyes against the rushing wind.
For a moment, vertigo overtook you and you felt a bit nauseous. It felt wrong to fly in your human body, with nothing protecting you if you were to fall. The feeling only lasted a moment though, before you began to marvel at the landscape beneath you.
It looked different with your human vision – as a dragon, you could see UV as well as blue, red and green. Vision as a human was softer, the mountains before you a muted grey-green. Even the air felt colder without your dragon skin.
Unbidden, you shivered, and Jungkook’s hand tightened.
“It is different,” you breathed, staring hard at the ground.
Jungkook chuckled, low in your ear. “Different for me, too,” he admitted. “I have never flown with another person before.”
Startled, you turned and found his face close to yours. You had not thought about this when you moved, but now found yourself inches away from his lips.
“Never?” you murmured, your words caught by the wind.
Again, the same shiver swept your spine, so you forced yourself to face forward. The wind continued to blow, ferocious and cold, but Jungkook managed to stay warm behind you. Eyes drifting shut, you allowed yourself a moment to bask in his presence.
Only a moment before you pulled yourself together.
All too soon, you arrived at the castle courtyard. Landing in the open space by the gates, you realized a search party had already gathered. Sliding down from Nemrys, you barely paused to give thanks before hurrying on.
Midway to the castle, you saw Jimin break ranks as he jogged to see you. Scanning your frame, his silver-blonde hair blew haphazardly in the wind. Coming to a sudden stop, Jimin glanced past you, his eyes widening when he realized you’d come from Nemrys.
Before he could speak, Namjoon skidded to a stop beside him.
“Y/N,” he gasped, lowering both hands to his knees. “By the veil, you scared us.”
Guiltily, you turned. “I am sorry,” you told him. “I am fine, though. I promise. I apologize for making you worry.”
Jimin continued to stare at Nemrys. “Your Majesty. What –”
“It was my fault,” Jungkook interrupted, striding into the circle. He came to a stop alongside you, as though he belonged there. “I saw Her Majesty injure herself while out flying and insisted on escorting her back to the castle.”
Namjoon looked at you in alarm. “Is this true? Are you hurt?”
“Only a dislocation,” you assured him. “Nothing to worry about.”
Although Namjoon nodded, Jimin continued to frown.
“A dislocation,” he said slowly, his gaze flicking to yours. “While flying?”
“Momentarily blinded by the sun,” you explained. “Hit a cliff and was forced to shift back to human.”
“And… Jungkook saw?”
Both Jimin and Namjoon glanced at Jungkook, who jumped into the story without missing a beat.
“Nemrys has excellent vision,” he said with a shrug. “Better than I, that is for certain.”
Jimin still seemed suspicious, but he eventually nodded. “We are glad to see you safe, Your Majesty,” he said. “I will go and tell the search party to stand down.”
“Thank you,” you said quietly.
Jimin began crossing the courtyard, leaving you alone with Namjoon and Jungkook. You fully intended to tell Namjoon and Jimin the truth, but now was not the right moment. Too many ears were listening.
“Is Yoongi furious?” you asked lowly. “How many meetings have I missed?”
Namjoon gave a rueful smile. “He will get over it. Your meetings for the morning have been postponed. The afternoon remains.”
“Good,” you said, stepping forward. “I will just –”
“Your Majesty,” Jungkook said, and you paused. “I did hope you would see the healer on my staff before returning to duty.”
He stood to your side, looking at you earnestly. Namjoon glanced between you; his surprise further increasing when you eventually nodded.
“His Majesty is correct,” you admitted. “I do feel fine, Namjoon, but it is better to be safe than sorry. I will have things to discuss with you after.”
Namjoon slowly nodded, seeming to understand. “Anything I need to know now?”
Glancing around, you ensured no one could hear. “A Mor patrol,” you said quietly. “Barely fifteen miles south. They were the true cause of my injury, but they are no longer a worry.”
Namjoon’s brow creased even further. “Are you certain you are alright? If it was a Mor patrol, you may have–”
“I am fine,” you cut in, quiet.
Namjoon hesitated before he nodded again. “Alright. I will have Jimin send soldiers to search the surrounding mountains.”
“Thank you. Tell Yoongi I will be up as soon as I can. And have Amara send me new clothes,” you added as you walked past. “I believe it sends the wrong message to wander around in His Majesty’s leathers.”
Namjoon nearly choked on his response while turning to leave.
“Well?” You glanced sideways, at Jungkook. “What are we waiting for?”
Turning his laugh into a cough, Jungkook began to walk forward. “Nothing,” he said.
Following his footsteps, you realized he went towards the guest entrance of the castle. Jungkook had not landed near the sheds, which made sense. Dragons and riders did not take kindly to one another. You supposed you and Nemrys now made the exception.
As you entered the halls of the castle, a draft brushed your exposed skin and you shivered. Pulling Jungkook’s clothes tighter, you considered the excuse he’d fed to Jimin.
“You said Nemrys saw me from the sky,” you said, breaking the silence.
Jungkook looked your way in surprise. “Should I have said something different? You did not seem inclined to discuss your injury out there.”
“No, you are correct. However, I now find myself wondering how did you see me this morning? Did you follow me from the castle, Your Majesty?”
Coming to a halt at the next corner, Jungkook turned sideways to face you.
His gaze flickered in torchlight. “Are you accusing me of following you?”
"Merely asking.”
Jungkook’s eyes narrowed. “If you must know, I was also out for my morning ride. I saw a Mor scout and had tracked them back to that mountain when I saw you get shot.”
“How very convenient,” you said, lifting your chin.
A muscle in his jaw ticked, stepping closer. “Is it?” he murmured. “I find it tiresome to have my honor continually called into question, Your Majesty.”
“Can you blame me?” you said. “You have kept many secrets from me, it would seem. Some are more substantial than others.”
“I also saved your life.”
“A debt I am well-aware of.”
A door creaked open down the hall.
“Oh – I am sorry,” a chestnut-haired man said, peeking out. “I heard arguing and wanted to make sure no one needed my help. Carry on!”
The man was about to duck back inside, when Jungkook held up a hand.
“Wait, Hoseok,” he said, not looking away from your gaze. “I need you to do something for me.”
The man – Hoseok, it seemed – paused halfway across the threshold. His gaze slid to yours, clearly recognizing you for who you were.
“Are you sure?” he asked slowly.
Jungkook nodded, turning on his heel as he strode down the hall. You were left with no choice but to follow, glaring daggers at his retreating backside. Something about the King made your blood boil, making you see red as you traveled in his footsteps.
“This is my healer, Jung Hoseok,” Jungkook said, coming to a stop. “Hoseok, this is the Queen of Ashya. I would appreciate it if you looked at her shoulder.”
Hoseok hesitated, glancing past Jungkook to you. After a moment, he nodded and stepped inside. 
“Of course,” he said with a bow. “Please, come in.”
Inclining your head, you walked past Jungkook to enter. The space past him was tidy, though there was not much light to see by, aside from the fireplace. Possibly the room had belonged to an Ashyan healer, although you could not be certain. You rarely traveled into the guest wing.
Once Jungkook had joined you, Hoseok crossed the room to pull open a cabinet. Rummaging around, he set several jars on the counter.
Jungkook lingered by the door, leaning a shoulder to the wall to stare at the healer.
Deciding the best thing to do was ignore him, you glanced away. One minute the King was tender, binding your wounds with the utmost of care and the next, he seemed ready to bite your head off. It was maddening.
Glancing around, you took in herbs, linen, and jars of salve. On the hearth was a fire, crackling merrily beneath a large, copper pot. The scents of witch hazel and thyme filled the room, a natural antiseptic.
“Hoseok is the best healer in Duret Ghal,” Jungkook said, by way of introduction.
Hoseok snorted. “I do not know about that,” he said as he turned around.
“Careful.” Jungkook arched a brow. “Her Majesty may take you at your word and see an Ashyan healer instead.”
Hoseok made an unbecoming sound before he looked up, stricken. “I did not mean insult, Your Majesty,” he said, a bit panicked. “It is only –”
“It is alright,” you interrupted. “None of my healers are accustomed to wounds healed by magic. I would prefer you look at my wound, regardless of what you have to say about Ashya.”
Hoseok shot Jungkook a surprised glance, who nodded.
“The Queen’s wounds were severe,” Jungkook said quietly. “An iron bolt to the shoulder while in dragon form. She crashed through the forest and shifted on impact. Had lost a lot of blood when I arrived.”
“I see.” Hoseok glanced your way, sympathetic. “I am so sorry to hear it, Your Majesty.”
With anyone else, you might have thought the words sounded patronizing, but not with Hoseok. He had an earnest way about him; you imagined he couldn’t tell a lie to save his soul.
“I would not care to repeat the experience,” you admitted.
Briskly, Hoseok scanned your body. “Left shoulder?”
Surprised, you said, “Yes.”
He nodded, rolling up his sleeves to walk around the table. An empty jar stayed behind on the counter, the flames from the hearth casting flickering light on the floor.
Hoseok stopped. “In order to evaluate your arm, I will need you to remove the tunic, Your Majesty. Is this alright?”
You nodded, then glanced at Jungkook.
Cheeks a bit pink, he seemed to take the hint. “I will take my leave,” Jungkook said, his hand fumbling for the door. “Should you have further need of me, Your Majesty, you may send Hoseok to find me.”
“Which might be rather difficult,” Hoseok observed. “Given Hoseok is currently tending to Her Majesty’s injury.”
Jungkook rolled his eyes but hid a smile as he left. The door fell shut behind him, leaving you and Hoseok in total silence. With a rueful smile, he glanced your way.
“Apologies,” he said with a shrug. “Jungkook and I grew up together, so we tend to forget our formalities when others are present.”
“We?” you said, arching a brow. “It seemed you were the only one forgetting your manners, healer Jung.”
Hoseok’s eyes widened, unsure how to respond until you laughed.
“I am sorry,” you said with a smile. “It is cruel to tease when you do not know my nature.”
Hoseok paused before throwing his head back to laugh. Eyes shining, he wagged a finger in your direction as he walked away. “You are funny,” he said, pulling out a bowl. “It is no wonder the King seems to enjoy your company.”
“Is that so?”
Hoseok seemed not to hear your question, selecting some linen to lay on the counter. “There is a partition in the corner,” he said, nodding towards it. “Fabric is laid on the stool, so you can wrap it around your midsection for modesty.”
The partition was barely more than a folding screen, but it did the trick. Stripping free from Jungkook’s tunic, you folded it neatly and placed it on the stool. Winding the fabric around your breasts, you covered them tightly and stepped outside.
Glancing up as you exited, Hoseok set down his work. “You may sit on the stool,” he instructed. “That will do for the examination.”
Taking a seat, you waited for Hoseok to come around the counter. Gently, he took your wrist and turned it this way and that. Raising your arm, he examined its mobility until he seemed satisfied. Deft fingers moved up your arm, applying gentle pressure to several key points. When you failed to react, he prodded deeper.
Aside from the occasional twinge, you felt nothing unusual. After a while, Hoseok took a step back and nodded approval.
“Jungkook did a good job,” he said as he turned away.
“Is that all?”
“Not quite.” Hoseok stepped behind his table. “I will make you a salve, Your Majesty. This will ease any stiffness you may feel from the magical healing. Magic requires a great deal of energy, some of it yours. You may feel more tired than usual.”
“Oh,” you said, a bit thrown.
You had never questioned the toll of magic before. Yoongi had never complained about using his gift to help your council.
Pulling things from his cabinets, Hoseok began to mix and measure in a bowl. He was quiet for a while, content to do his work while you watched. After a while, he cleared his throat.
“I imagine it was a shock,” he said. “To be healed in such a manner.”
You stared at him a moment, unsure how to respond.
“It was… unexpected.”
Hoseok laughed as he looked up. “That is one way to put it,” he agreed. “The first time Jungkook healed me, I screamed like the veil was being torn apart. Thought he was trying to hex me.”
“Is such a thing even possible?” you said, smiling despite yourself.
Hoseok shrugged. “It seemed as likely as a rider having magic. I am sure Jungkook told you, but most in Duret Ghal are unaware of that particular secret.”
Silent, you nodded. Jungkook had, indeed, explained to you the image of magic in his homeland.
After a moment, Hoseok sighed. “The perceptions of Ghalians have changed greatly since the end of the Dragon Wars, but some of the fear remains. There are some who, no matter what we say, will believe magic and all Dragons are evil.”
“Not those His Majesty rides, though?”
Hoseok gave you a wry smile. “They do not view those dragons as the intelligent creatures you and I know them to be. Jungkook wishes to change that,” he said. “But it will be a difficult path. One he is determined to set upon.”
“I see.” You paused. “Forgive me for being blunt, but why are you telling me this?”
Hoseok resumed making the salve. “When Jungkook first revealed his magic to me, I was upset. He had lied. Kept something important from me for such a long time. It took me a while to understand that he, himself, did not always view his magic to be a gift.”
You stared at Hoseok a moment. 
Jungkook had seemed so confident when he healed you, and had always seemed different from the Ghalians who despised magic and Dragons. It had not occurred to you his reasons for keeping his magic a secret may have also been personal.
Hoseok was right. Changing perception within Duret Ghal would be difficult. Jungkook had taken a great risk by revealing his magic to you. A risk you did not wish to examine too closely for the moment.
“Is the examination finished?” you asked, rising from the stool.
Hoseok looked up in surprise. “Oh, yes. Feel free to get dressed, Your Majesty. I will finish this salve and send you on your way.”
You nodded and retreated behind the partition. Once you were no longer visible, you allowed yourself to fully breathe. Hoseok’s words painted a different picture of the Ghalian King. Magic had always been viewed as a gift in Ashya; you should have recognized the stigma elsewhere.
Unwinding the fabric from your torso, you returned to Jungkook’s clothing. His scent was everywhere, enveloping you fully.
It made you remember the ride with him on Nemrys, his body warm and solid behind you. Closing your eyes, you pushed this memory from mind. More and more, you found yourself considering Jungkook as a man instead of your enemy, and such thoughts were dangerous.
Fastening the belt, you stepped outside and found Hoseok waiting.
“Here,” he said, handing over a jar of salve. “If you need more, please send word and I shall bring it immediately.”
“You are too kind,” you said, accepting the bottle. “I appreciate your help, healer Jung.”
“Hoseok,” you agreed with a nod.
Not wishing to overstay the welcome, you gave him a last smile and walked towards the door. One hand on the knob, you paused.
Hoseok looked up at your silence. “Yes?”
A thousand questions sprang to mind – silly, inane ones of no use to anyone. What Jungkook had been like as a child, why he’d once needed to heal Hoseok and reveal his magic. You found yourself wanting to know more, wanting to know him and again, this was dangerous.
“Nothing,” you said, pulling open the door. “Thank you again for your services.”
Hoseok nodded and smiled as you left the room. Amara was waiting for you in the hall, a fresh bundle of clothes in her arms.
“Thank Natal,” you sighed, taking the dress. “It would have caused a lot of talk had I worn the King’s clothing upstairs.”
Hiding her grin, Amara followed you inside the empty room across the corridor. Once the door was shut, she began to help you dress.
“Did you fall in a pond?” she asked innocently, tugging on your laces.
You winced while lifted your arms. “Nothing so exciting. I was caught unawares during my flight and needed to shift. My morning dress is still in the sheds, unfortunately.”
Amara nodded, finishing the final button as you turned around. “I will get it,” she said, gathering Jungkook’s clothes and the salve to exit the room.
Left alone with your thoughts, you hesitated a moment before following suit.
Jungkook had not waited for you.
You were not sure why this mattered. It didn’t – it should not and yet, you couldn’t stop the sinking feeling it somehow did. Shoving the feeling aside, you managed to seem unruffled by the time you reached your first meeting.
The day only grew longer from there.
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When people imagined the duties of the crown, they typically thought of the more extraordinary parts. Being coronated, going to war, grand marshalling parades and the like.
The reality of ruling was far less glamorous. It was one tedious decision after another, with the most minute turn of phrase sparking ire or admiration. It was sitting through meeting after meeting while you listened to weather reports, updates from mines and concerns about a two and a half percent tariff still being too high.
By the time your meetings ended, the sun had long since sunk below the horizon. Wearily, you returned to your rooms and tried to forget the day. It did not seem possible only this morning, you’d feared for your life while bleeding out in the forest.
The only thing which drove you on was the thought of shutting yourself in your chambers, sinking into a bath and closing your eyes. A wish which seemed destined to be thwarted, you saw when you entered.
Min Yoongi had seated himself in an armchair by the fire, his expression steeled like a weapon of war.
“We need to talk,” he said simply.
Coming to a stop at the table, you inspected the salve Hoseok had made. He had not given any instructions on how to apply it, and you wondered if you should have Amara find out.
“Do we?” you said, lifting your gaze to his. “Need I remind you who amongst us wears the crown, Lord Yoongi?”
“And need I remind you which of us pays the other for their counsel?”
Hiding a smile, you pulled out a chair. As much as Ashya’s stability depended on your authority, you were not above thinking yourself impervious to counsel. If Yoongi had something he wished to speak to you about, it was likely important.
“Shall I guess what this is about?” you asked. “Or, are you going to eventually tell me?”
Yoongi did not waste your time. “What happened this morning?”
“I was injured during a flight.”
He made a noise of dismissal. “Are you truly telling me the Queen of Ashya was injured on a routine flight? That you spotted a Mor patrol and became so distracted, you crashed into a mountainside and dislocated your shoulder? Again,” he said, gaze hardening. “What happened?”
Slowly, you exhaled. “The truth is far less believable.”
“Try me.”
And so, you explained. Everything. Your flight this morning, the Mor patrol which had shot you down from the sky. The way you shifted to human before Jungkook arrived to heal you. You told Yoongi about Jungkook having magic, as did all riders. You explained about the different dragon lines, how they all had magic and were not unintelligent, as you had previously assumed.
Once you had finished, Yoongi stared at you and blinked. “That…” He shook his head. “Is equally insane, but at least you are now telling me the truth.”
He had questions then – many of them, and you soon settled into a familiar rhythm. Planning for different eventualities, laying out who to tell and when. Yoongi, along with Namjoon, were your sounding boards for strategy. When you’d given all the answers you could possibly provide, Yoongi fell silent, staring into the fire.
At last, he stood and walked towards the window. Pouring whiskey from a crystal decanter, he swirled this in one hand before he returned.
“This will change things,” Yoongi said, taking a sip of his drink.
“It will.”
“If what you say is true,” he said slowly. “We have acquired an entire new arsenal against Mor. Who knows what kinds of magic lie within their rider ranks? There has not been a healer born for many decades in Ashya.”
“Some of them will be passive powers,” you warned.
Yoongi waved a hand. “It is still a gift. Still magic. In all Jimin’s plans, he has only accounted for the gifts of humans between us. That number will now double! Triple, even.”
“His Majesty only revealed his magic to me because he was forced,” you countered. “We cannot count on them in upcoming battles with Mor. He could still decide otherwise.”
Yoongi gave you a look. “He said he was planning to reveal it after the treaty was signed, yes?”
“Yes, but –”
“But what, Your Majesty?” Yoongi’s eyes narrowed. “What reason do you have now not to trust the King? What lie could you possibly have prepared for me this evening?”
Freezing in place, you could only stare. Yoongi seldom spoke to you like this. For one, you were his Queen and for another, he usually understood you better than to yell.
After a moment, Yoongi sighed and shoved a hand through his hair. He looked tired, you realized. Hoseok’s words from earlier came to mind, about how magic required new energy. You wondered how much Yoongi had used his gift these past few weeks.
“I am sorry,” Yoongi said, and looked as though he meant it. “I did not mean to sound so harsh.”
Choosing not to respond, you waited instead for him to elaborate. Yoongi rarely said things without meaning them.
Closing his eyes, the dark of his lashes dusted paler cheekbones. The veins in his eyelids were prominent, stark against the rest of his skin.
“It can be exhausting to have a gift like mine,” Yoongi said quietly. “All day, I can sense other people’s emotions, yet cannot shut them out. It can be useful, but it is also tiresome. Oftentimes, I am not sure which emotions are mine. It is especially trying,” he said, eyes opening, “when someone continuously lies in my presence.”
“Me?” you said, taken aback. “When have I lied to you, Yoongi?”
Yoongi stared into his glass for a moment, seemingly weighing the consequences of whatever it was he had to say.
“Each time you say you do not wish to marry the King.”
You went still, staring at him from across the table. Within the confines of your chest, your heart began to beat faster.
“I do not mean you are lying on purpose,” Yoongi said, then paused. “Or maybe you are. It can be hard for me to tell. All I know is your emotions are murky each time you speak, as though you are battling something inside.”
“You think… I desire to marry His Majesty?”
Yoongi considered for a minute. “I do not know,” he admitted.
“And yet, you presume to know a great deal,” you said, drumming your fingers on the table. “Why would I turn the King down if I wished to marry him?”
“I am sure I could not say.”
“Hazard a guess.”
Yoongi’s eyes narrowed. “Fine.” He took a long sip of his drink. “When you are around Jungkook, your emotions get lighter. Happier. And yet, there is sorrow as well. I do not know if this is because of His Majesty, or the idea of marriage itself.”
Staring at Yoongi, you refused to move. He was dangerously close to hitting upon something important. Something you’d worked tirelessly to hide, even from yourself.
“Is it Leo?” Yoongi asked, a bit gentler. “Do you still love him?”
Yoongi had not served with you in the army, but he knew about your former love. Early on in your reign, you’d asked Yoongi to go about certain steps to protect Leo from harm.
“No,” you exhaled. “It has been a long time since I chose my path, and he chose his.”
“Pride, then. Perhaps you do not like the idea of ruling beside someone else.”
“It is not that,” you muttered.
“Hm.” Yoongi tilted his head. “That is the truth.”
“Stop doing that,” you said with a roll of your eyes.
“Perhaps it is the idea of losing your independence, then. Or possibly…” Yoongi paused as something seemed to occur to him. “Ah.”
“What? What is it?”
“It is the mating bond, is it not?”
Going utterly still, you stared at him from across the table.
“Y/N,” Yoongi said softly. “Not all marriages occur with a mating bond. Not all loves do, either. And it is still possible Jungkook could be your mate. Humans have mated with Dragons before. It is not impossible for him to–”
Realizing what he meant then, a laugh left your lips. It sounded bitter, even to you. Yoongi thought you didn’t want to marry Jungkook because he wasn’t your mate. He thought you wanted to marry for love, when the truth was the exact opposite.
“I know it is possible,” you gasped, interrupting. “I know it is possible because Jungkook is my mate, Yoongi. I have known this fact since I was seventeen and visited him for the treaty.”
Yoongi’s eyes widened as you pressed on.
“I felt it even then,” you whispered, the words pouring out. “It was hardly anything at that age, barely more than a brush of energy against my skin, but… I knew. I knew the mating bond lay between us.”
Silence fell between you, the weight of what you’d said settling over the table. Eventually, Yoongi managed to shake himself free from his stupor.
“Then what is the problem?” he demanded. “If you two are mates, surely this is even more reason for you to accept his proposal. It must be a sign from Natal.”
Jaw clenched, you looked away. The mere thought of accepting the bond brought a dull roar to your ears, twisting your insides into knots. You could never forget what occurred after your trip to Duret Ghal, nor the solemn vow you had made at your coronation.
“I cannot marry him,” you said stiffly.
Incredulity entered Yoongi’s gaze. “But Y/N –”
“I cannot,” you said, turning your head. “Yoongi, you know as well as I do how bonds like this end. How it looks, how it feels for someone to lose their mate. I vowed when I accepted the crown it would be the only constant in my life.”
Pity filled Yoongi’s gaze as realization dawned.
“Y/N,” he said after a long moment. “You are not your father.”
The silence in the room drew as taut as a bowstring.
“It killed him,” you whispered. “The loss of my mother killed my father. You know this to be true. It may have taken him five years, but from the moment she died, he began to die as well. I cannot – I will not – do that to myself, or to Ashya.”
Yoongi stared at you a moment before he looked away.
It was a silent truth acknowledged throughout the Kingdom. Dragons had a long lifespan, but the mating bond was something other and strange. It only occurred once in a lifetime and was a love so deep, so true that to lose one’s mate was to lose oneself.
Your father had tried, at least. He’d stayed alive for you, for his Kingdom, but it had not been enough in the end. After five years of trying, he’d finally given in.
It was why you’d enlisted after your mother’s death. You had seen how her loss was killing your father and could not bear to be around for the process.
When you finally returned to accept the crown, you’d made your vow. The same fate would not befall you. You would not become your father and leave Ashya at risk. You would not accept the mating bond – which meant you would not accept Jungkook.
Even if every fiber of your being wished to do so.
Jungkook was not yet fully your mate. He needed to be aware of the bond, for one and you needed to accept it, for another. Tendrils already existed, but it was not the same thing as the full bond in place. Once you accepted, there would be no return.
“Not everyone views their mate as a bad thing,” Yoongi said quietly.
Startled, you looked up. “They are fools, then.”
He frowned at his glass. “Are we not all fools in love, though?”
“Precisely the reason I do not care to accept it.”
Smiling sadly, Yoongi lifted his drink and drained the rest. His expression shifted from resignation to thoughtfulness while he set down his glass.
“They say the loss of a mate is akin to ripping one’s heart from their chest,” he mused. “They say it is an unbearable pain, one which cannot be endured.”
“Are you trying to help me?”
He paused. “I only wonder… for such unimaginable pain, there must be unimaginable beauty before it. What could be so wonderful that to be without it would be close to death?” Yoongi shook his head. “Maybe the loss of a mate has no parallel because its happiness has no parallel, either.”
Struck by this statement, you looked into the fire.
“It is not a bad thing to want happiness, Your Majesty.”
Brow furrowed, you continued to stare at the leaping flames. It was not a bad thing to want happiness, but the mating bond had never meant such a thing to you.
Not until Jungkook. When he had arrived a week prior, you’d kept him at arm’s length for two reasons. One had been his title and Duret Ghal’s legacy, but the other had been self-preservation.
You could not miss what you did not know. Unfortunately, each passing day brought you closer together and you feared when he left, it would tear your heart from your chest.
Still, it was better than accepting him as your mate.
Yoongi stood from the table and stretched his arms overhead. Looking up, you appreciated the silence he gave you. The truth of the bond was something you hadn’t told anyone. To share it with him felt like a weight lifted.
“There are more negotiations tomorrow,” Yoongi said, returning to business. “With the secret of the riders’ magic revealed, we will need to factor this into our military discussions.”
“Agreed,” you said quietly.
Yoongi considered you a moment longer before he turned around. As he reached the door, Yoongi paused on the threshold.
“I understand your hesitance, Your Majesty,” he said quietly. “I would not blame you if you decided not to accept him. It is only for your happiness I urge you to reconsider. Not all of us are gifted with a mate,” he said simply, and walked out the door.
As the door shut behind him, you stared at the wood.
You remained seated for some time, listening to your heartbeat, and imagining it entwined with someone else’s. This was the second secret of yours only Yoongi knew.
The other was you hadn’t wanted to accept the throne at all.
When your father had died, you’d been content to stay in the armed forces, living a life of anonymity while you served Ashya. You had planned on relinquishing the crown, but Yoongi had known and convinced you to return. He’d been the one to talk some sense into you, saying if you truly wished to serve Ashya, you’d do so best in the role you’d been born into – as its Queen.
Duty had been thrust upon you sooner than it should have; yet another reason why you resented the bond. You should not have become Queen when you did. You should not have had to accept the burden so soon and yet, you had. It had been the right course and you deeply loved this nation.
It was why you refused to put Ashya through such a thing again.
And yet, you could not help but think upon Yoongi’s words. It was not a bad thing to want happiness for yourself.
After a long time, you roused yourself from the table and went to bed.
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The first time you’d felt the bond had been at the cliffs, although you had not realized what it was at the time.
It had only been later, in the middle of Duret Ghal’s gardens, you understood the gravity of what you felt for Jungkook. Or rather, what you one day might feel.
After the day you spent riding, you’d began to notice Jungkook’s presence more and more. He could usually be found in one of two places – in the palace library or out on his dragon, Nemrys. You had found yourself watching for him, somehow attuned to his presence.
Even with all this, the magnitude had not stricken you until the night of the ball. On the last night of your trip, Duret Ghal decided to celebrate both your betrothal and the anticipated treaty. No expense had been spared for the evening. Even now, you remembered the sounds of the orchestra playing, chandeliers bright above as the people laughed and danced.
At some point, you’d searched for the Prince and found him no longer inside. Curious, your search had led you out the northern doors, onto a patio which overlooked the gardens below.
Duret Ghal had been colder than Ashya, but during the summer the evening air had been pleasantly cool. Wandering away from the castle, you’d drifted amongst the flowers until you came upon him.
Jungkook had faced away from you, his hands clasped behind his back while he watched the tree above with its delicate, orange blossoms. His eyes had been closed; wayward, dark strands of hair blown over his face.
Realizing you’d intruded upon a personal moment, you turned to take your leave, and stepped on a twig. 
Jungkook’s eyes had flown open and when he saw you, he smiled.
The sight sent such simmering warmth through your chest, you’d nearly stopped breathing. White-hot energy blazed across your skin, brightening the world while you basked in his gaze.
That had been the moment you realized. Jungkook was your mate.
“I – I am sorry,” you’d stammered, turning to leave. “I am intruding–”
“Not at all.” Jungkook’s gaze sought yours in darkness. “Please. Stay.”
After a moment of consideration, you had acquiesced. The closer you moved, the more aware you’d become of his energy. Suddenly, all the wives’ tales and legends about mating made sense. The bond had been real, and you felt it for Jungkook.
Jungkook had smiled at you, then returned to the flowers. “Were you also tired of the people gathered inside?” 
“Yes,” you’d murmured.
None of the people inside had been him.
Forcing yourself to look up, you had focused on the tree. It was not a species native to Ashya; its delicate, floral scent was unfamiliar. Between its boughs, the night stars had peered down. Legends said stars were where Natal’s veil was thinnest and otherworldly magic seeped through the cracks. You liked to imagine stars held some kinship to dragons.
Jungkook had cleared his throat. “I must admit,” he’d said. “You are not at all what I imagined you to be.”
You had turned sideways to face him in the moonlight.
“Not that it is a bad thing, mind you.”
Heart racing, you you’d smiled. Jungkook had looked your way, his expression gentle in the light from above.
“It is not?” you had whispered.
Turning fully to face you, Jungkook had stepped closer. His right hand flexed at his side, as though he had yearned to reach out and touch you.
“No,” he’d admitted.
His gaze had dropped to your lips.
Your throat had gone dry. “What were you expecting?”
“I do not know,” he’d said. “I thought I might resent you. For taking away my choice to marry. For forcing me to become King before I was ready. For reminding me duty will always be greater than our happiness.”
Each word he said had sunk your heart like a stone. It had been how you’d felt at the start of your journey, but perhaps not then.
“Now though,” he’d said, and you lifted your gaze.
Without quite meaning to, you’d drifted closer. The space between you had lessened to several inches, the heat from his body near-tangible.
“Now,” Jungkook had said, barely audible. “I find myself intrigued by what the future will hold.”
Before you could respond to this, before you could say you felt the same, a shout had echoed throughout the gardens.
“Prince Jungkook!” someone had called.
Springing apart, your heart had protested the movement. You had known then exactly who Jungkook was. He was your mate, your betrothed and for a fleeting moment, the world seemed a magical place.
One month following, his Uncle had staged his rebellion.
Soon after, you’d learned what the mating bond truly meant.
The world had not seemed quite so wondrous after that.
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“So.” Jimin arched a brow. “I assume you have brought us out at this unseemly hour to do more than stare at one another through the mist, Your Majesty.”
Giving Jimin a withering look, you chose not to respond.
Yesterday had been full of meetings with little importance to the Ghalian treaty. After telling Yoongi of your vow and bond, you’d found yourself more aware of Jungkook’s presence than ever before.
Everything which had taken place over the past forty-eight hours resulted in three facts. The first being, you could not afford to spend more time in the King’s presence. Already, your façade of indifference was crumbling and would only worsen as time went on.
Second, Mor had become bolder in their travels north. It would only be a matter of time before war arrived on your borders. You needed to be prepared.
Which led you to your third point. Jungkook’s reveal of magic could turn the tide of the war; it needed to be factored into your discussions as soon as possible. Which was why you’d asked Jungkook to bring whomever he deemed appropriate to the field this morning.
Glancing around, you found Jungkook looking back. He was dressed in his flying leathers again, simple armor reinforced at the joints with lighter metal. No breastplate, his hair unadorned and a broadsword strapped firmly across his back.
He’d brought Taehyung with him, along with the woman rider you’d seen at the feast and Lord Seokjin. The last one had surprised you, since you hadn’t thought Seokjin a rider. From Ashya, you’d brought Jimin, Namjoon and Yoongi.
“We are not here to stare,” you explained to Jimin. “But to fly.”
Jimin hesitated. “With each other,” he clarified.
It was not a question but a statement, and the woman rider across the circle seemed to share in his sentiment. She stared distrustfully at the group gathered on your side.
Yoongi squinted up at the sky. “Why am I here, then?” he wondered aloud.
“To observe,” you informed.
“Scintillating,” he said, looking down.
Namjoon laughed as several other people attempted to hide their smiles. Ignoring all this, you focused instead on Jungkook’s delegation.
“I believe I have met everyone except you,” you said, looking at the woman.
“Maia,” she said, boldly meeting your gaze. “I am a rider in His Majesty’s forces.”
“One of our best,” Jungkook added, as Taehyung nodded.
Maia had large, dark eyes and short hair bound in a plait down her neck. Her features were pretty, delicate in contrast to her hardened exterior. You respected her for being in the delegation but found yourself appreciating her even more for her no-nonsense response.
Nodding once, you looked away. The pride in Jungkook’s voice when he spoke had not escaped you; nor had the way Maia glanced in his direction, as though pleased by the mention.
Jungkook was not yours to want, you reminded yourself. You’d made sure of this with the vow you continued to uphold. Still, you felt your jaw clench as you refocused on your surroundings.
“Is this a serious request?” Jimin asked in disbelief. “You truly wish for us to fly alongside the riders.”
Pointedly, Seokjin cleared his throat. “I believe it is not considered polite to question the Queen’s sanity in her presence?”
Jimin glanced at him, stunned as Yoongi started to laugh. His smile widened, eyes nearly disappearing when Jimin turned to face him, incensed.
“What?” Yoongi snorted. “That was funny.”
“Regardless,” you said, a bit louder. “There is much to discuss. His Majesty has shared information about the riders, their dragons and what they can do which may change the battle against Mor.”
Maia’s glanced at Jungkook in disbelief, and she was not the only one. Taehyung also turned his head sharply, which surprised you. You had thought Jungkook would tell his general he’d revealed his magic in the woods.
It appeared not. Seokjin was the only one who did not look surprised, examining the nails on the back of his hand.
“What the riders can do,” Namjoon said, picking up on the key phrase. “I assume you refer to something other than flying, Your Majesty?”
“I do, yes.”
When you looked at Jungkook, he nodded.
“She is referring to our ability to use magic,” he explained. “The bond which links rider to dragon allows us to do more than just ride them. It grants us access to their magic, similar to humans who are born with a gift.”
Namjoon’s eyes widened, as did Jimin’s.
Both listened as Jungkook went on to explain the history of dragons and magic on the continent. When Jungkook healed a paper cut Namjoon had on his thumb, your advisor gasped and looked on in wonder.
“A healer.” He shook his head. “Truly amazing. How large of an injury can you heal?” Namjoon asked, and you knew he was already thinking ahead to battle.
Someone like Jungkook behind the front lines, healing soldiers as they were injured, could provide an untold advantage.
“He healed me in the woods the other day,” you informed them. “A Mor patrol shot me down with a crossbow, and His Majesty saved my life.”
Jimin’s eyes widened. “It would seem we are in your debt then, Your Majesty,” he told Jungkook, seeming displeased by the thought.
Jungkook merely shook his head.
“Let us not speak of debt, Jimin,” you said before Jungkook could speak. “If we are to work together, we must stop thinking of our relationship as a ledger. Instead, we must learn to work as a unit.”
Yoongi arched a brow, clearly amused by your shifted stance.
“Hence our flying this morning,” Jungkook agreed.
Looking his way, you nodded.
This was what you’d decided after your conversation with Yoongi. Although you had not changed your mind about accepting Jungkook’s proposal, the least you could do was set aside your own differences. If you chose not to accept him as your mate, that was your decision – but first and foremost, you were Ashya’s Queen.
You had made a vow to do whatever you could for your country, and this meant working closely with the Ghalians.
“Is it only healing magic?” Namjoon asked, sounding curious. “Or are there other kinds?”
Rather than answer, Jungkook looked at Taehyung, who rolled up his sleeves. Walking out of the circle, he came to a stop several paces away.
“There are other kinds of magic,” Taehyung said, and it was one of the first times you’d ever heard him speak.
Taehyung’s voice had a deep, earthen quality. It was soothing, rhythmic and you stared at him with interest as he spread his hands.
For a moment, nothing happened.
Then Taehyung closed his eyes and storm clouds began to gather. You stared at the sky as it darkened, russet-tipped thunderheads swirling overhead. As the wind whipped his hair, Taehyung opened his eyes and you saw they’d turned silver.
A bolt of lightning shot from his palms, lighting the sky above a deep purple. He let the tempest continue until his point had been made. Then, teeth gritted, Taehyung lowered his arms and allowed the clouds to disperse. As quickly as they’d come, the clouds disappeared, leaving only mist and the rising sun.
Everyone from Ashya stared.
“His dragon is a stormmaker,” Jungkook explained. “It is rare for one of their kind to bond with a human. It has not happened within living memory.”
Yoongi was the first to regain himself. “Do all riders have magic?”
“No,” answered Maia. “It is similar to when a Dragon and human have a child. The child does not always have a gift. It is the same with riders and dragons. I, for example, have no magic.”
“Yes, but you have a dragon,” Yoongi pointed out, which made her smile.
“I do have that,” she acknowledged.
Almost sheepish, Taehyung rejoined the circle with his hands in his pockets. His gaze had returned to dark brown, but you could not seem to shake the memory of silver. It was a tremendous power you could use on the battlefield.
Abruptly, you turned to Jungkook. “How were you planning to keep that a secret?” you demanded, waving a hand. “I should think it would have been obvious once your rider started throwing lightning around.”
“Hence why we planned on explaining after the treaty,” Jungkook said mildly.
“All this time.” Namjoon finally found his voice. “Magic in Duret Ghal has been passed down by the riders, not Dragons?”
“Both,” Seokjin corrected. “Riders cannot pass on their magic to their children. It is only the offspring of Dragon and human who can be born with gifts. Like your advisor,” he said, nodding to Yoongi.
Yoongi arched a brow. You had not spoken openly about his magical abilities, but you supposed word got around.
Namjoon continued to frown. “Most peculiar,” he said slowly. “When a shapeshifting Dragon mates with a human, their offspring can inherit one of many magical gifts. Not just shapeshifting.”
“Uzza, my dragon, has a theory about that,” Taehyung offered. “He believes dragons have a more fixed nature than humans. When magic is passed down through dragons, it remains the same, but with humans… we are more fluid.” He paused, then shrugged. “Magic becomes whatever form the human is closest to.”
“Fascinating,” Namjoon breathed.
“Which is why I asked the King and his riders to join us this morning,” you announced. “Once the treaty is finalized, we will fight together against Mor. It is time we learned how to use everything in our arsenal.”
Jimin, who had remained silent throughout the demonstration, finally nodded.
Despite his personal feelings towards Duret Ghal, he would always place Ashya above all else. If the magic of the riders was something you could use to your advantage, Jimin would be the one who figured out how to do it.
Still, you knew this must hurt. You were not the only one who noticed Jimin’s reticence. Taehyung had been watching your commander from across the circle, and he now cocked his head as he took a step forward.
“You are Park Jimin, are you not?” he asked.
Jimin met Taehyung’s gaze. “I am.”
Taehyung nodded. “I have heard stories of you, both on and off the battlefield. Neither of us led our respective armies when your father was killed,” he said, a bit quieter. “But all the same, I am sorry for your loss.”
Jimin’s eyes glinted. “Sorrow does not bring back the dead.”
“No, it does not.”
Jimin stared at him a moment, until some of the anger faded from his gaze. Finally, he looked at the castle and exhaled.
“Are we to fly this morning?” he asked, returning to you. “If we are, we should probably go before the sun gets too high.”
You nodded, uncertain what had just transpired.
“We should leave, then.” Jimin turned away. “I will need to know the full capabilities of your riders. General Kim,” he called out as he walked. “Can you control the lightning, or merely call it?”
Taehyung fell into step alongside him, discussing strategy as they left the field. You watched them go, amazed Jimin had released his past so easily.
Namjoon sighed. “Must I fly as well, Your Majesty?”
You hid a smile. “If you truly wish to stay on the ground…”
Grumbling beneath his breath, Namjoon turned to follow Jimin across the field. You knew you should go as well, but something within seemed to hold you back.
“And what about you?” you asked, glancing at Seokjin. “Are you a rider?”
Seokjin grimaced. “No, Your Majesty. My mother sent me to the bonding ceremony, but all I succeeded in was falling off several dragons.”
“It is where we met though,” Jungkook said, jumping in. “I admired his honesty and wit. Enough that, when I became King, I requested Lord Seokjin be appointed to my closest court.”
“His honesty has been well-noted,” Yoongi said drily.
Maia laughed, her features losing some of their earlier tension. Yoongi glanced her way in surprise, a pleased flush spreading across his cheeks.
In the background, the steady beat of wings filled the air. When you turned, you saw Jimin in Dragon form rising above the sheds. His scales were a dazzling gold, sparkling as he flew across the morning sun.
Taehyung had joined atop his dragon, Uzza. Uzza had scales of slate grey, faded to blue along his spine and his shoulders.
As you watched them both fly, a bout of longing swept through you. Seeing a rider and Dragon fly alongside one another had not been something deemed possible before.
Their wings were swiftly drowned out by Nemrys’ arrival, who circled once overhead before landing beside Jungkook. Bowing, you kept your gaze fixed on his. Nemrys inclined his head in turn, then released a snort.
Jungkook grinned. “He wishes to know if you plan on being shot again.”
Rolling your eyes, you turned to walk away. Jungkook laughed at the sight, the sound of it echoing as you crossed the field.
Once inside a shed, you stripped quickly from your gown and laid this on the bench. Only a few days ago, you’d assumed dragons mostly unintelligent and now, one of them was insulting you. The realization made you smile.
It made the world seem wider, somehow. As though more things were possible than you’d previously thought.
Shifting quickly to Dragon form, you lifted from the ground and hovered above the sheds. In the distance, you could see Taehyung alongside Jimin on his dragon. Glancing west, you spotted Namjoon and Maia rising to join them.
Namjoon’s scales were a deep purple, a jewel-tone Ashyan miners would envy. Maia’s dragon, whom you did not know the name of, was a grey pale enough to be confused with blue. As you flew towards their group, Taehyung pointed from his dragon, Uzza.
Craning your neck, you saw Jungkook on the ground. He watched from below, wind whipping his hair as Nemrys beat his wings. Leaning down, he murmured something to Nemrys, who bent his legs and took off. Far below, you heard Seokjin whoop.
With a roar, Jimin dove towards the ground. Taehyung followed suit, along with Namjoon and Maia. Once Jungkook had reached you atop Nemrys, you joined in the show.
It was strange to fly as a group. Dragons were solitary creatures, only banding together when necessary for survival. When you did fly with others, you communicated through a combination of flame and roars, signaling what direction you were about to take.
Soaring higher, you turned your head and saw Jungkook beside you. From the back of Nemrys, he grinned and something warm bloomed in your chest. You recalled what it felt like to fly with him, against him. Something within you ached to feel this again.
This was not the time to reminisce though, so you attempted to focus on the moment at hand. That first flight didn’t last long – you were still monarchs, after all, and the day remained before you. Still, your heart felt lighter when you landed on the ground.
For a first foray between nations, things had gone relatively smoothly. Even Yoongi seemed pleased by the progress, speaking with Taehyung and Jimin as they returned to the castle. The success of today made the impossible seem possible.
Including some things you’d never let yourself imagine.
Jungkook’s face while he flew, his eyes bright and smile wide, played like a loop again and again in your mind.
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After another full day of negotiations, the treaty between you and Duret Ghal began to come together. It was a good thing, since Jungkook and his delegation would leave in the next couple of days.
Preparing for sleep that night, you reached for the jar of salve Hoseok had given you and found it empty. You’d applied it every morning and night, whenever the muscle ached, or you found yourself tired. It had helped a great deal, so now you hesitated. Flying this morning had been strenuous on your muscles.
Amara had left, gone to visit her family in the city for the evening. In her absence, you strode across your room and opened the door to the hall. You instructed one of your guards to bring the empty jar to Hoseok and ask for a refill.
While you waited for them to return, you changed into a nightgown and robe. You had just finished washing your face when a knock came from the hall. Expecting the guard returned with your salve, you strode from your chambers and pulled open the door.
You found yourself face to face not with a guard, but with Jungkook.
“Your Majesty,” you said, freezing in place. “I – to what do I owe this pleasure?”
Jungkook stared at you for a moment, then pulled a jar from behind his back. “I brought the salve from Hoseok,” he said. “I heard you were in need of more.”
“I am.” You blinked. “But you did not need to do that.”
His gaze searched yours, lingering when he dropped to your parted robe. Although you wore a nightgown beneath, you were suddenly aware of the sheer material.
Hastily, you closed the robe tighter.
Cheeks reddening, Jungkook looked up. “It was no trouble,” he said, only to pause. “May I come in, Your Majesty? I do have something I wish to discuss.”
“Ah, so there is an ulterior motive.”
Despite the humor in your voice, you hesitated. Glancing past him, you saw your guards and decided whatever Jungkook had to say, it was best to hear it in private.
“Alright,” you said, stepping aside. “You may come in.”
Surprise crossed his face, though it quickly disappeared. Nodding his thanks, Jungkook entered the room as you shut the door. You stared at it for a moment, gathering your courage before you turned around.
You’d brought many men to your chambers over the years. Yoongi had been in here only the other night, but something about Jungkook’s presence felt different. He was too big, taking up a space no one else could.
Perhaps it was this bond you felt for him, this tingling down your spine at having him so near. Your very soul ached for him, even as you denied him.
Jungkook wandered inside, taking in the décor. A fireplace took up much of the north wall, light flickering over the rug at your feet.
Coming to a stop at the table, Jungkook set down the jar.
“Why did you come?” you asked quietly.
Turning around, Jungkook found your gaze.
You realized the very real danger you were in. Not because Jungkook was your mate. He was, yes, but it was so much more than that. You genuinely enjoyed his company. You found yourself listening for his remarks when you sat by his side, trying not to laugh whenever he made a joke.
It was hard to separate the supernatural from the natural when it came to Jungkook. In a world where mates did not exist and souls were cast adrift, you thought you might have loved him even then. 
Perhaps this was the true magic of the mating bond, after all. Rather than let you wonder, Natal brought you an equal, someone who’d uplift your spirit rather than drag you under.
“You asked for additional salve,” Jungkook said again.
“I did.” You cocked your head. “A servant could have brought that, though – or Hoseok, if he chose.”
“Indeed, he could have.”
A shadow crossed Jungkook’s expression at this, gone before it could be fully realized. He took a step closer, skirting the table to come to a stop. With his height what it was, you were forced to look upwards to see him.
“The soldiers Jimin sent to search the mountains returned this afternoon,” Jungkook informed you. “They found no other Mor patrols so close to Ashya.”
“That is good to know,” you said with a nod. “We will need all the time we can to formulate a plan of attack.”
Thus far, Mor had made no overt advances against you. There had been skirmishes on the southern border, a few miles gained or lost with occasional pushes, but nothing serious. Mor’s full army remained within their own land, biding their days until they chose to strike.
It was only a matter of time before things boiled over. It made sense for Jungkook to discuss Mor’s movements with you, but he’d never visited your chambers to do so before.
“Is there something else you came here to say?” 
Jungkook arched a brow. “Is it possible I might have come simply to enjoy your presence?”
“You could have.”
“Then, what is the problem?”
“The problem,” you said, narrowing your gaze, “is you seem to be the kind of person who says one thing and means another.”
His gaze darkened. “I suppose you would know, Your Majesty.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Rather than answer this, Jungkook turned away. Staring out the window, he seemed to consider his words before he turned back.
“You are a conundrum, Your Majesty,” he said at last.
You sniffed. “That sounds like something a man might say when he does not understand a woman.”
“You are right,” Jungkook said lowly. “For I do not understand you at all.”
This made you blink. It was your own words from the night of the feast, thrown back in your face.
“In what way?” you demanded.
“We knew each other before, and yet you pretend to be strangers. You fight so valiantly for your own kind and yet, keep them at arm’s length. You decline my proposal of marriage,” he said, taking a step closer, “and yet, you consider a political union with another.”
You stared at him for a moment, utterly thrown. “A union with whom?”
“Lord Declan.”
A laugh escaped before you could help it. “Lord Declan is not my betrothed.”
“He tells people he is.”
“Then he is a liar,” you ground out.
Jungkook paused. “Did you consider his offer?”
“I considered your offer, as well.”
“Which you declined.”
“I shall decline him as well, should he ever gather the courage to actually ask me.”
Jungkook hesitated at this, curiosity entering his gaze.
“Why, though?” he asked, a tad softer. “Why decline everyone who asks for your hand? Is there someone else? The man who taught you to sign in the army, perhaps.”
At this, your eyes widened. “How did you know?”
“Merely a guess,” Jungkook said quietly.
Looking abruptly away, he rubbed his thumb to his forefinger in an anxious gesture. You wished he would stop. The gesture made him seem far too human, far too genuine, and tempting and true.
Before you could consider the ramifications, you said, “I do not love someone else.”
You were not sure why you said it. Certainly, it would have been easier for Jungkook to think your heart belonged to another and yet, you could not bear to watch the light fade from his eyes.
Jungkook turned his head to see you. “So, it is me, then,” he said quietly.
“No. And also, yes.”
He frowned. “Clear as mud, Your Majesty.”
You laughed, although there was no humor to it. “What do you expect me to say? That you have convinced me after a week of interactions? That I am awed by your presence, Your Majesty? Is this what you seek in return for healing me in the forest? My hand in marriage?”
Jungkook looked stricken. “No,” he breathed. “Not that. Never that. I would never demand such a thing.”
Something in you softened at his sincerity.
“Then, what?” you asked quietly. “What is it?”
“I just… I wish you would tell me why.”
Unable to meet his gaze, you glanced away. It was a fair question. Jungkook had been nothing but good in the time he’d been here. It occurred to you suddenly that by choosing not to mate, you were taking away his one chance at the bond, as well.
Slowly, you turned back to face him. “I made a vow,” you said, so soft you could hardly hear. “When I became Queen, I vowed I would never marry. It is not something I can turn my back on.”
It was a half-truth, but enough for now.
Jungkook’s brow furrowed. “Why would you make such a vow?”
“Many reasons,” you said. “The main being I wish to belong only to myself and my country. Anything else, and I would do my people a disservice. When I accepted the crown, I said Ashya would always come first.”
The way Jungkook was staring at you made you feel on display, as though he saw through to your very soul and knew what you were made of.
“It is a tricky slope, is it not?” he said at last, stepping closer.
This step brought him within touching distance, the heat of his body seeming to reach out to yours. Something golden and strong brightened between you.
“What do you mean?” 
Jungkook did not look away. “Is the best version of yourself the one without help? Without support? You say you do not wish to do your people a disservice, but is it a disservice to lead while you are unhappy?”
“And you think... marrying you would make me happy?”
“Maybe not,” he admitted, his gaze soft. “All I know is the life you speak of does not sound like a life at all.”
Having no response to this, you could only stare when Jungkook took your hand in his. Lifting your hand, he kept his gaze on yours. As he lowered his gaze, his lips slowly brushed the back of your fingers.
When he released you, you found you could not move, could hardly breathe. It seemed impossible to hide your reaction when Jungkook looked up.
You wanted him. You wanted him so badly it hurt and yet, something continued to hold you back. All you could see when you looked at Jungkook was the pain in your father’s eyes when he learned your mother had died.
“I will take my leave,” Jungkook said when you did not respond. “It has been a long day, and you must be tired.”
You nodded, unable to do more than that when he turned to go.
Halfway to the door, you had the sudden urge to do something. To call out, to ask him to come back, to reveal the bond you felt strengthening between you.
In the end you did none of it. The fear of being broken was greater than your want to be whole.
Jungkook turned at the door. “My offer will stay until I go,” he said before he went.
The door shut behind him, leaving you in silence. Exhaling, you walked to the table and uncapped a decanter. Pouring yourself a glass of wine, you sat before the fire and drank every drop.
It was a long time before you managed to fall asleep that night.
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During your flight the next morning, you went north instead of south. Although Jimin had not found additional Mor patrols, your run-in with them had increased your caution. Soaring above the tree line, the sun brightening the horizon, your heart felt heavier than it had in a while.
When you finally landed and hurried inside, you were entirely alone.
For the first time, this did not strike you as such a good thing.
Independence had always been one of your most prized possessions. Your crown had stripped you of so much – your youth, freedom, and the first man you’d loved. Now though, you wondered what you’d given up by clinging to your ideals so tightly.
You did not have much time to consider it. The ball for Duret Ghal was tonight, and the day after tomorrow, their delegation would leave. You would sign the treaty in the morning and then they would be off.
Jungkook’s offer of marriage would disappear with it.
Amara had outdone herself with your dress for the evening. It was crimson in color, falling in gauzy pleats from a golden, metal bodice. Amara had dusted gold powder across your shoulders, resulting in a shimmering aura.
Red was neither the color of Ashya, nor of Duret Ghal. It was the color of fire, of passion – and of love, you realized with a twisting stomach.
Again, Yoongi was your escort and even his eyes widened as you stepped out the door.
“You are going to give someone a heart attack,” he chuckled, extending his arm.
You merely shook your head as you walked down the hall. The crown you wore tonight was gold, as well. A relic from an ancient Queen of Ashya before the colors had changed to silver and green.
“I am sure they will be fine,” you responded. “It is not as though I plan on shifting in the middle of a waltz.”
“It would certainly liven things up if you did.”
Although you gave Yoongi a look, you quickly fell silent as you approached the ball. Beyond the shut doors, you could hear muffled noises of music and laughter.
“Did Namjoon tell you about the dancing?”
Sharply, you turned your head. “No, he did not. What dancing?”
“Apparently, it is the custom in Duret Ghal for their monarch to lead the first dance.”
“I wish His Majesty the best of luck, then.”
Yoongi hid a smile. “You will need to dance also, Your Majesty.”
“Why is that?”
“Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the concept of balls,” Yoongi mused. “Typically, there is food, dancing, general merriment…”
“I know what a ball is, Yoongi.”
“You seemed confused by the prospect of dancing, though.”
“By the prospect of dancing with His Majesty, yes.”
“Now I am the one who is confused, because –”
“Fine,” you ground out as the doors began to open. “I will dance the first song with His Majesty. Nothing more.”
Yoongi grinned, patting your arm as you entered the room.
The ballroom had been lavishly decorated for tonight’s event. Taking it in, you passed over iced draperies, flowers and foliage spilling from every surface. People were gathered throughout, leaving room in the center of the ballroom for you to dance. An orchestra sat poised in the corner, awaiting your entrance to start the first song.
As you and Yoongi descended the spiral staircase, you only had eyes for the opposite side, where the delegation from Duret Ghal already stood. To where Jungkook was standing, watching your entrance.
His robes were similar to those he’d worn at the feast, although the colors tonight were black and gold. Long robes cut to mid-calf, tied in the middle by a black sash. Sigils of gold had been stitched into the fabric, with a thin chain of gold curved across his chest.
Lifting your gaze, your breath caught in your throat. Jungkook’s hair had been bound in a half-bun, the dark tresses broken only by his golden crown.
Walking closer to him under the lights, everything else seemed to fade. Despite your best efforts, something between you had shifted and now that it had, you couldn’t turn back.
You started imagining what the future would look like beside him. Not a future where you were lesser, but rather where you had support. Strength, like he had offered. Oddly enough, the image did not scare you as it once did.
Stepping onto the dais to turn around, you looked at the crowd. In your peripheral, you could see Jungkook looking at you. Ignoring him, you focused instead on your racing heart. You could almost feel it beat in tandem to his, yearning to run at the same pace.
It was not necessary to greet your guests, nor give a speech of pretty words. Instead you simply turned to face him as the music began. Jungkook held out his hand, waiting until you placed your palm over his.
Jungkook’s fingers curled about yours, leading you on the dance floor. People parted as you walked, leaving a space at the center. Jungkook pulled you to face him, placing a hand on your waist as you settled yours on his shoulder.
You looked up. Meeting your gaze, Jungkook took a step backwards to lead you in the first move.
His grip on you tightened as he led you in a spin. Jungkook was a good dancer, although this did not surprise you. By this point he could have announced he was the goddess Natal, herself, and you would have taken it in stride.
This image made you smile, unable to stop it as he swept you around.
“Why are you smiling?” Jungkook asked, his voice low.
Startled, you glanced up and wished you had not. This close, you could see everything, and it made your heart ache.
“I was imagining something funny,” you murmured.
Jungkook’s hand slid to the small of your back. Heat scalded your spine, making your head spin.
“Not about me, I hope,” Jungkook said, his lips dangerously close to your ear.
“And if it were?”
His grip on you tightened. “I would like to know the joke.”
Looking up, you met his gaze. “Does it ever tire you?”
Jungkook blinked.
Others had joined the dance at this point, entering the floor in a promenade. Multicolored skirts and robes swept circles around you, leaving you floating at the center of it all.
“Does what ever tire me?” Jungkook asked.
“This,” you said, glancing at your surroundings. “The pressure. The weight. The constant duties, expectations and never-ending loneliness of wearing our crowns.”
For a moment, Jungkook was silent, and you feared you’d overstepped. Then he exhaled, pulling you closer. His thumb brushed against the bare curve of your back.
“Every day,” he admitted.
Before you could respond, the song came to an end.
Couples stepped apart, talking, and laughing in the lull between songs. You and Jungkook stared at one another, the only two in the room as far as you were concerned. For so long, you had convinced yourself having a mate would be a bad thing.
Perhaps it was for some. For your parents, their bond had ended tragically, this was for certain. But for the first time, you wondered if keeping yourself from happiness because you didn’t want to be hurt might simply be a different kind of hurt itself.
When a hand tapped you on the shoulder, you nearly jumped.
Whirling around, you found Lord Declan before you. You stared at him for a few moments, wondering why he was here.
“Your Majesty.” Lord Declan bowed low at the waist. “Would you do me the honor of having the next dance?”
Of course – this was a ball. You would be expected to dance with others, not only Jungkook. Feet faltering, you glanced sideways but before you could decline, Jungkook took a step back.
“She is all yours,” he said, turning around.
Jungkook disappeared, his midnight-colored robes swishing about his ankles. Lord Declan closed in, forcing your attention away as the orchestra began the next song.
“Yes,” you said, trying to focus. “You may, Lord.”
Lord Declan entered where Jungkook had left off, his right hand slipping beneath yours as his other found your waist. His touch felt wrong, as though you’d put the opposite glove on your hand.
“How fortunate the first dance of the night was a short one,” Lord Declan said with a chuckle.
Startled, you glanced up. “I beg your pardon?”
“I envy your patience, Your Majesty,” he continued, oblivious to your tone. “Had I been forced to spend so long these past weeks in the presence of riders…” Breaking off, he shuddered. “Your control is exemplary.”
Had Lord Declan been a wise man, he might have noticed the heat simmering in your gaze. Or the way your spine stiffened, a lone muscle ticking in your jaw. As it were though, Lord Declan was not a smart man, and so he continued to throw caution to the wind.
You were not certain when you’d become so defensive of Jungkook, but the fact remained the Lord’s comments made you see red.
“I do not know that I would call my control exemplary,” you said, your tone deceptively light. “Indeed, my Lord, I find my courtiers often say things I find infuriating.”
Lord Declan paused, clued in by your choice of words.
“If I have said something to offend Your Majesty…”
His steps were not as graceful as Jungkook’s, nearly stepping on your toes as you turned around. Dodging the gesture, you glanced aside and realized Jungkook had not left the dance floor. Instead, he danced with Maia at the edge of the room. While you were watching, Jungkook threw his head back and laughed.
Unpleasantness curdled your stomach despite your insistence he was not yours to want.
“You have said something to offend me, Lord,” you said, returning to Declan. “Either you are ignorant or stupid, and I pray to Natal you are not both.”
Lord Declan stared, his jaw sagging a little.
“We face an enemy,” you said, voice lowering. “Our enemy is not Duret Ghal, nor is it their riders. I suggest you cease speaking such heresy before I wonder if the mines your family owns would do better in the hands of someone else.”
His eyes widened. “Your Majesty, I do not think –”
“Then we are in agreement,” you said, dropping your arms to take a step back.
Turning around, you stalked towards the edge of the dance floor, barely managing to keep your steam in check. When you glanced again at the offending corner, Jungkook and Maia had disappeared.
Driven by a mix of emotions you dared not name, you slipped beyond the courtiers and out a side door. Eyes closed, you allowed the night air to wash over you. Coming to a stop at the edge of the gardens, you opened your eyes to take in the Thadal mountains.
It was colder than it had been a few weeks ago. The winter solstice was coming, and your human skin could only protect you from so much. Still, you could not stomach returning to the party and so, you kept walking, entering the dark hedges.
You let yourself wander, following the twists and turns with nothing but your heart as its guide. When you turned a corner and found Jungkook before you, it almost was not a surprise.
The moment was overlaid with another memory, from ten years prior. The night you’d realized Jungkook was your mate and looked to the future with wonder.
He was alone again, facing away as he stared into an empty, cracked basin. The fountain had been turned off for the winter and before you could speak, Jungkook sighed.
“Were you not enjoying the party?” he asked.
Walking forward, you came to a stop beside him. “I might ask you the same thing,” you said, staring into the basin. “I saw you enjoying yourself during the last dance.”
Jungkook turned his head.
“Are you jealous, Your Majesty?” he murmured, his gaze flinty.
“Merely noting the obvious,” you said, refusing to face him. “You call me a conundrum and yet, you dance with another woman while proposing marriage to me.”
“One dance.”
“So, there has never been anything between you?”
Jungkook paused. “I will not pretend to have been celibate these past ten years. Neither should you, Your Majesty.”
Looking at him, you attempted to calm the roiling feelings within you. It was not right to feel like this. Not right to be jealous, to berate him when you continued to decline his offer.
“Am I correct,” he said, his voice low, “in thinking you do not want me for yourself, yet you do not want anyone else to have me either?”
“That… that is not fair.”
“Perhaps you know how I feel, then,” Jungkook said, his gaze hardening.
Startled, your eyes widened as he took a step closer. Coming to a stop right before you, Jungkook looked down.
“Watching you entertain other men,” he said hotly. “Watching you dance with other men, consider other men while you continue to deny what lies between us. What we are to one another. My former betrothed. And my mate,” he added, his gaze like dark fire.
Speechless, you could only stare in response.
Jungkook knew.
He knew and had said nothing this entire time. You wondered when he’d realized but lost your head entirely when he lifted a hand. Pressing his thumb beneath your chin, Jungkook tipped your head up.
Bending, he brushed your lips against his. The kiss was chaste, sweet – and wildfire erupted in response. Before you could stop yourself, your hand had fisted in his robes to drag him down. You kissed him back hungrily, fiercely as the heat consumed you.
Jungkook seemed to burn just as bright, crushing you close. His arms wrapped around you, tongue eagerly flicking against your lower lip. When you parted beneath him, he licked into your mouth. Inhaling his scent, you wanted him closer.
It was not at all how you’d imagined it to be.
You had thought once you gave in, it would feel like erasing yourself. Removing the old to make way for the new, but it was not like that at all. Letting him in only made you feel stronger.
Thumbs skimming your cheeks, Jungkook angled you upward and kissed you again. He drew a shuddering breath before he forced himself to stop.
Slowly, his eyes opened and he stared at you, his chest rising and falling.
“If you do not want this, though.” Hoarse, his thumbs caressed your skin. “I do not wish to force it upon you. You should not marry me because of a bond, Your Majesty. Nor should you because you think it’s what’s best for Ashya. I want you to marry me because you want to. Nothing more.”
When you did not respond, Jungkook’s expression began to shutter and he took a step backwards. His hands fell to his sides, the air between you turning cold.
All too late, you realized you’d waited too long. You should have said something immediately, should have done something other than kiss him like a maniac.
“Thank you,” Jungkook said. “For the hospitality you’ve shown Duret Ghal these past weeks. Whatever your feelings are for me, I look forward to signing the treaty tomorrow.”
Before you could say anything more, Jungkook walked past you and left the gardens. You were left alone beside an empty basin.
You stayed there for a while, staring at the looming Thadal mountains, and wondering how in the world you had gotten things so wrong.
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When you returned to the proceedings of the ball, Yoongi was smart enough not to ask where you had been. He seemed to know anyways, based on the look on your face.
Stiffly you stood and surveyed the dancing couples. Whenever you cared to look, you caught glimpses of Jungkook on the opposite side.
You tried not to, but this proved to be difficult now that you knew. Jungkook knew you were his mate. You knew what his lips tasted like. All of this you knew and could not forget.
It was his last words which ran again and again through your mind. Jungkook knew you were his mate and yet, he’d said nothing because he wanted you to choose him for him. It was such a foolhardy, romantic notion it made your heart ache.
Even with Leo, you had not felt this way. If you had been honest, you had known your relationship would be doomed from the start. Leo had never challenged you in ways which made you grow. You’d kept him at arm’s length, never giving him the opportunity to know your true self. 
After the death of your parents, you’d been in a dark place. You had made the vow not to marry out of an attempt to protect yourself. Perhaps you’d grown beyond needing such things.
The next time you looked, Jungkook was looking back.
He glanced away quickly, but he’d looked. The realization made you take a step forward but before you could go to him, Yoongi leaned in.
“What did you say to him when you danced?”
Surprised, you glanced in his direction. You thought Yoongi meant Jungkook but then realized he looked at Lord Declan. Declan seemed flustered, pointedly looking anywhere but at you while Lord Larkin glared from across the room.
You stifled a snort. “Only the truth.”
“Which was?”
“That like it or not, Duret Ghal are our allies, so they better start acting like it.”
Quietly, Yoongi laughed as he straightened. “No wonder his father looks as though he swallowed something sour.”
Guiltily, you looked away. “I am sorry if I caused you trouble,” you said, knowing Yoongi would be the one to clean it up. “It is only –”
“You were right.” Yoongi nodded. “The world is changing, and they can either change with the times or be left behind. I am glad you said something.”
Shooting him a grateful look, you glanced again across the room and realized Jungkook had disappeared. Scanning the rest of the ball, you spotted some of his delegation but not their King. Maia was dancing with Namjoon and to your surprise, you realized Taehyung had asked Amara to dance.
Jungkook was nowhere to be seen. Despite his absence, you forced yourself to stay until Yoongi deemed it socially acceptable for you to leave. The last thing you wanted was to put the treaty in jeopardy because you’d overlooked proper etiquette.
As the evening went on, candles guttered low in the chandeliers and guests began to thin out the dance floor. People started disappearing, traveling home in groups of two and three. Sometime around midnight, you finally bade Yoongi goodnight.
Forgoing his offer of escort, you took a side hall and exited the ball. It was a quiet walk to your chambers, a silence which did not lessen once you were inside.
Removing your crown, you set this on your dresser and stared out the window. You wondered if this was your future. A cold, lonely existence where you always ended up in your room alone.
Jungkook was right.
You kept everyone at a distance because you were afraid of being hurt. You were afraid if you let them in, you’d grant them the power to tear your heart in two. The problem was you weren’t sure how much longer you’d have a heart to give.
It already felt like a feeble, weakened thing within your chest. You didn’t know how to make it work like it should. So accustomed to your own company, you were unable to respond to true acts of friendship. This struck you as a poor kind of ruler for any nation. 
It made you wonder if the vow you’d once made held no further weight.
Now was time to decide what kind of ruler you wanted to be, what kind of person you wanted to be moving forward. Your life could still be wondrous if you so wished.
Abruptly, you turned and strode for the door.
Your guards seemed surprised to see you leave, but let you pass by with a nod. Once in the hallways, your feet seemed to know the way. Down one hall, then the next, you found yourself entering the guest wing before your mind could catch up.
Depending on stature, guests of the crown stayed with varying proximity to your personal quarters. It was not far to the rooms Jungkook occupied, the most lavish guest suite in the castle.
Outside his room, your steps slowed before coming to a stop. Jungkook did not have guards posted outside his doors. Some might have seen this as a sign of naiveté, but you saw it for what it was. A symbol of trust.
Lifting a hand, you knocked on his door.
It took him a few seconds to answer, rustling noises telling you he was within. When he swung open the door, your mouth immediately went dry.
Jungkook had changed from his formal attire to a more casual tunic and trousers. It took a great deal of effort to keep your eyes on his face, and not wander towards the ink you saw peering out from his sleeves.
Surprise flickered in the depths of his gaze, although he quickly concealed it. Leaning a shoulder to the frame, Jungkook arched a brow.
“To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit, Your Majesty?”
Any words you wished to say dried up like a stream in the desert. Finally, you managed to rouse yourself.
“May I come in?” you asked.
Jungkook paused. For a moment, you were afraid he might tell you to go. You had turned him down so many times; surely it was time for him to return the favor.
Then he dipped his head and stepped aside, allowing you entrance. Heart pounding, you slipped past him and stood at the center of the room.
His rooms were your guest chambers, so you had obviously seen them before. Occasionally you met with foreign dignitaries or visitors. Jungkook had stayed long enough though, that portions of the room had begun to seem like his own.
The black and gold robes he’d worn to the ball were draped over a partition. A trunk remained half-open beside a table, full of stacks of books. It reminded you of your visit to Duret Ghal so long ago, where he could often be found in the library.
“Would you like wine?” Jungkook interrupted your thoughts.
Mutely, you nodded and reached for the crystal decanter. Midway there, Jungkook’s hand caught your wrist.
“Allow me,” he said, moving past.
You stopped and watched him pour two glasses of wine. One after the other, Jungkook set them down on the table.
“You knew,” you said quietly. “You knew you were my mate.”
Jungkook hesitated, continuing to stare at the wine.
After a moment, he lifted a glass and took a long sip. “Yes,” he admitted. “I knew.”
“When?” you demanded.
His eyes narrowed, looking up. “When did you know, Your Majesty?”
“At the end of my last visit to Duret Ghal.”
“I knew the moment I saw you,” he said quietly.
“You – what?”
Jungkook set his wine down. “Your arrival was scheduled for shortly before sundown,” he said. “My parents had dressed me in my best clothes, and I remember being angry about it. I remember standing there fuming, waiting for you to arrive. And then you did.”
His eyes shone. “I had never seen someone so beautiful.”
Hearing him speak, your breath caught in your chest. Jungkook began to walk closer, his expression inscrutable.
“I avoided you for a few days,” he continued. “Mates are rarer in Duret Ghal and for a while, I didn’t know what I was feeling. Even once I realized, I resented the bond. It was difficult enough to accept my own magic back then.”
“What changed your mind?”
“You.” His lips curled in a smile. “You surprised me. I found myself liking you despite myself. I started to realize the bond might not be such a bad thing.”
“So… this entire time, you have known,” you said in disbelief.
“I have.” His expression darkened. “As have you, it would seem.”
Guilty, you looked away. You had and it had not occurred to you to tell him.
That was a lie. It had occurred to you and you’d decided against it, because you did not think you could stomach denying the bond to his face.
Reaching out, Jungkook took your hand. The gesture was so simple, it nearly broke you in two. Glancing down, you marveled when he brushed his thumb over your skin. Jungkook gave you space to think until you found the courage to speak.
“You know my mother was killed ten years ago,” you said quietly. “My father survived the attack, but they were mated and when she passed… he could not bear it.” After a pause, you looked up. “He died five years later, and those five years were as torturous for everyone else as they were for him.”
“I am sorry to hear that,” Jungkook murmured.
“He tried,” you said, forcing yourself to remember.
To remember the days when your father had tried to go on. He’d tried for you and for Ashya, but it had not been enough. There had been no light in his gaze, no meaning behind his odd smiles. Although only your mother had died in the attack, you’d lost both your parents.
“I know he did,” you continued. “But the pain of losing his mate was too much. Everything which had been important simply faded away. I swore after he passed the same fate would not befall me. It is why I said no to you,” you said, your grip tightening. “It is not because I feel nothing. I said no to you because you are my mate.”
His thumb continued to soothe over your skin. “And now?” he asked, wondering. “Did you come here simply to say this?”
“No. Now I find myself wondering if in an attempt to spare myself pain, I created agony of a different kind.”
Jungkook’s gaze softened. “I meant what I said earlier, Y/N. I don’t wish for you to agree out of some sense of duty, or an unearthly bond.”
A shiver went down your spine at hearing your name on his lips.
“That is not why I am saying yes,” you said, lifting your chin.
Surprise flared in his gaze. “No?”
Deciding you needed the wine after all, you tugged your hand from his and turned towards the table. Lifting the glass to your lips, you let the sweet burn fill your throat.
In the corner of your eyes, you could see Jungkook watching. Waiting.
“I am saying yes because I want this,” you breathed, turning around. “I want you. I have wanted you since the day you followed me to the cliffs. I’m scared,” you admitted, barely more than a whisper. “I’m terrified of what you might do to me. Of what I might do to you. But I don’t want fear to hold me back anymore.”
Jungkook continued to stare at you, jaw working while he thought through what to say. His fingers began to tremble, fighting the rising tide of emotion.
“We face a difficult path,” he said at last.
You nodded. “I know.”
“The history between our people. Revealing the magic of the riders. War on the horizon,” he said, taking a step forward with each reason he listed.
“Do you not want me to say yes, Your Majesty?”
Jungkook came to a stop before you.
“I want you to say yes so badly it hurts,” he said hoarsely. “But I don’t want you to accept not knowing what it means.”
“The bond scared me for a long time,” you told him. “The idea of belonging to someone. Of no longer depending solely upon myself.”
“And why is that?”
“Loss of control.” Your smile was fleeting. “The idea has always terrified me more than any enemy. I feared the bond would mean losing myself… that it would mean…”
“Giving a part of yourself away.”
Quiet, you nodded.
“Did you not think, though,” he said, reaching out. “Giving a piece of yourself away might mean gaining something in return?”
Taking your hand in his, Jungkook laid them both on his heart.
You stared at your hand, splayed beneath his on his chest. The idea had not occurred to you, and yet – perhaps it should have.
“I have no doubt you will remain independent,” Jungkook insisted. “Accepting this bond would not change that. I would not want that to change.”
“But if I were to die –”
“Love is always a liability,” Jungkook quietly said. “It is. And yet, where would we be without it? My love for Nemrys, for Duret Ghal and the riders saved me when my parents died. A world without love is not one worth fighting for.”
Ever so gentle, you brushed the curve of his hand with your thumb.
Jungkook’s grip on yours tightened.
“Yes,” you breathed. Chest practically touching, you looked up to see him. “I know all this, and I’m saying yes.”
For the first time, you let yourself look at him fully.
You had known he was beautiful, but the truth was he was nearly unbearable. Strong jaw, soft lips and eyes which burned as fierce as any Dragon. You did not look at them though, wanting to take in the rest of him first. Lifting a hand, you cupped the side of his face.
Jungkook shivered at your touch. Startled, you glanced up and met his gaze. The need you found within nearly undid you.
For so long, this had been building inside. Suddenly the idea of you tolerating, let alone enjoying another man’s company seemed a strange concept. Jungkook was your mate, someone who had never once cowered from who and what you were.
Turning his head, Jungkook’s lips brushed your palm.
“What are you thinking?” he murmured.
“I am remembering earlier. Your kiss in the garden.”
His gaze darkened. “What do you want from me, my Queen?”
The addition of the word my sent a thrill down your spine.
“You,” you said, knowing how true it was.
You wanted every part of the man before you. Wanted to know him, breathe him in, drink from his cup and bask in his light. The man who’d known you were his mate and hadn’t claimed you, but rather waited. Waited you to come to him.
Rising on your tiptoes, your hands slid to his neck and you kissed him again.
You kept your pressure light, the opposite of the searing kiss you’d previously shared. Pulling away, you savored the press of his chest, the warmth of his body and the weight of his hands. When you opened your eyes, you found Jungkook smiling.
Pressing your lips to his again, you moved a bit closer. Jungkook seemed content just to kiss, trading gentle pressure – until you pulled back, teeth catching on his lower lip.
A growl loosened from his chest, low and primal.
Sliding a hand behind your neck, Jungkook tilted your head upward and waited for you to nod. When you did, he crushed your lips to his in a kiss equally fierce as it was possessive. Breath stolen, you gave him your desire and what was left of your heart.
Warmth flooded your veins, heating you from the inside out. With limbs of molten fire, you kissed him back until his tongue swiped at your lip, demanding entrance. You parted easily for him, a whimper leaving your throat as you melded together.
Jungkook groaned, pulling close to kiss you again. His fingers traced the skin at your nape, trailing your spine to firmly cup your ass. Nestled between his legs, Jungkook allowed you to feel every inch of his hardness.
Your skin was aflame, as though lightning had zipped across it. Reduced to only sensations, you shivered at each one you felt. His thumb, fondling the dip of your waist. Your nipples, turgid against the fabric of your gown. The sharp, aching pulse which steadily grew between your thighs.
“Oh,” you gasped, head tipping back.
Jungkook kissed each inch of exposed skin you gave him.
“Is this what you want?” he murmured.
“What I want, my King,” you panted, regaining some of yourself. “Is for you not to stop.”
Lips curved in a smile, he lifted his head. “I rather think your King is more appropriate, no?”
You arced a brow. “What is the difference?”
“One implies you are my subject and the other implies I belong to you.”
“And which do you prefer?”
His gaze glinted in firelight. “Allow me to show you, my Queen.”
Barely pausing, you breathed, “And which usage was that?”
With a soft sort of chuckle, Jungkook walked you both backwards until your spine hit the wall. Bending his head, he brushed his lips against yours until you were aching. Until your need for him became fire, racing through your veins in a silent demand.
Sliding his thigh between your legs, Jungkook paused when you gasped. Swiftly giving in, he covered your lips in a kiss which seared to your soul.
Slipping your hands higher, you marveled at the breadth of his torso. Years of riding had hardened his body, making you wonder what he looked like beneath the tunic.
One hand on the wall, Jungkook’s other fisted in your skirts as he tugged you closer. Sharply, you inhaled when he yanked up the fabric, exposing your knee to the gentle press of his thumb. A moan left your lips as your head hit the wall, eyes fluttering open.
Jungkook stopped. “Is it too much?” he asked, releasing your skirts.
“No.” You shook your head. “I want more. I want you”
His gaze darkened. “Then you shall have me,” he promised, covering your mouth with his.
His kiss was rough, lips bruising as your hands found his hair. Arching against him, you reveled in the hard panes of his body. It seemed wherever you had space, Jungkook had been made to fill it.
Hand in your skirts once again, Jungkook pulled them higher to press his thigh in between. You inhaled at the contact, his muscles rigid and hard in all the right places.
Before you could do anything else, Jungkook bent and grasped the back of your thighs. Wrapping you around his waist, he kept your body close as he walked towards the bed. Lowering you to the floor, his hands remained on your waist.
“Turn around,” Jungkook rasped, and you obeyed.
Facing the bed, you felt his fingers trace over the bodice of your gown.
“May I?” he asked, his voice shaky.
“Please,” you whispered.
Carefully, Jungkook began undoing the laces and hooks. As the fabric was loosened, exposing your skin to his gaze, you closed your eyes. His fingers skimmed your shoulders, sliding the fabric lower until it hit the floor.
Bared to his gaze, you felt your breath hitch. Cool air played over your skin, perking your breasts, and drifting between your thighs. The gown was sheer enough to necessitate you wore no undergarments beneath it, leaving you naked before him.
“Y/N.” Jungkook sounded hoarse. “Please… please face me.”
Slowly, you did so as you opened your eyes.
Jungkook stared, his eyes dark as night. Jaw tense, his gaze slowly dragged down your body. You felt the intimacy of it as he trailed your throat, lingered at your breasts, your ass, and between your thighs.
When he finally returned to your face, the heat between you was scorching. Throat parched, your body felt one with the fire.
“Now, you,” you murmured.
Without looking away, Jungkook lifted a hand to begin undoing his tunic. Once it was loose, he pulled this overhead in a single motion. As it hit the floor, his hands went to his trousers. With bated breath, you watched him remove the laces.
Swallowing once, you stared at his chest bathed in soft firelight. Swirling dark lines stretched across his shoulder, encircling his bicep, and traveling to his wrist. You saw words and symbols but had no time to peruse. Later, you promised yourself. Later, you’d worship the ink with your lips and tongue.
A dark smattering of hair trailed from his abs, disappearing into trousers he undid with deft fingers. Once these had been pushed to the floor, you found another reason to swallow.
You were not what anyone would call shy, but something about this felt more intimate than it ever had. Baring yourself to Jungkook meant more than just sex. You’d accepted the bond, accepted what lay between you and acknowledged him as your mate.
Seeming to understand, Jungkook took a step closer as he bent his head. His hands slid to your waist and he kissed you gently.
When he pulled away, you saw vulnerability in his gaze.
“Y/N,” he said.
You marveled at the sound of his name on your lips. “Jungkook,” you returned, and watched him smile.
Bending again, his lips found yours as his hands skimmed your body. You settled between his legs, feeling slightly light-headed from the press of so much skin. Jungkook’s hand slid lower, gripping one of your thighs to wrap around him. He gave the same treatment to the other, twisting you around to lay on the bed.
Pressing a knee to the mattress, Jungkook crawled forward and bent his head. Lips soft, he began to kiss down your body. Your hands gripped his back, trailing to find the twin dimples nestled at the base of his spine.
When Jungkook’s mouth brushed your breasts, he paused. Instead of giving in and devouring you whole, he slid a hand between your thighs and found how wet you were. Gaze lidded, he looked up as he cupped your sex. A single finger slid over your silken entrance.
Lifting the same finger to his lips, Jungkook leisurely tasted you. When he pulled his finger out, you saw it had been licked clean.
Growling in approval, Jungkook bent and closed his lips over your breast.
“Oh,” you gasped, arching beneath him.
Your nipple was already hard, peaked with desire. Jungkook sucked on it eagerly, pulling your breast taut before he raised his head. Moving on to the next, his thumb remained behind to skim over your nipple.
He continued with this sweet torture until you’d had enough.
“No more,” you gasped, curving a hand beneath his jaw.
Releasing your breast, he lifted his head. “I want to taste you,” Jungkook breathed. “I want to know what it’s like to have you fall apart on my tongue.”
Easing yourself onto your elbows, you slowly spread your legs.
“Do your worst, Your Majesty,” you said, gaze glinting.
Jungkook grinned, lowering himself to the sheets. His mouth was hot, open as he kissed your waist, your belly and lower. You did not know where to look – his entirely naked ass, or his dark head of hair before your dripping sex.
Dragging his nose up your thigh, Jungkook deeply inhaled as he centered himself. Lowering his head to your sex, he gave a tentative kiss. Even this sent a sweeping shudder through you. It took nearly everything you had not to moan like a maiden in heat.
Opening his mouth, his tongue swirled once and you nearly dissolved. Liquid heat pulsed through you, cumulating between your thighs in a sinful wave. Worshipping you with his tongue, Jungkook tore moans from your lips, one after the other.
Swiping his tongue in another slow circle, he coaxed your body to arc from the bed. With a throaty chuckle, Jungkook looked up. Hair mussed and lips wet, he looked like something divine.
“Do you want more, my Queen?” he asked lowly.
“Yes,” you exhaled, unable to look away.
A devious smile spread across his lips. Lowering his mouth, Jungkook resumed his ministrations until you were gasping his name.
“Oh,” you groaned, broken as he continued to eat you out.
Gripping your thighs, he pushed them further apart to better get at your sex. Legs splayed on the bed, you framed his broad shoulders as you reached for his hair. Another growl left him as you fisted your hand in the strands. Hips rising and falling with the motion of his mouth, your head fell limply back on the bed.
“Yes – yes,” you said, chasing the sweet pleasure with your hips.
You hardly knew what you were doing as you moved, never having felt this way before. Jungkook seemed equally entranced, his eyes snapping open to meet yours above. The bottom half of his face was wet with your juices and while you should have felt modest, instead you felt righteousness. Intoxication. Possession.
This was your body which made him look like this, half-feral with need as he ground into the mattress. “Yes,” you gasped, gripping harder as your legs started to shake. “Yes, Jungkook.”
Pleasure built from within, threatening to drown out everything but the man between your thighs. Slipping a finger to your entrance, Jungkook drew lazy circles over your sex. His tongue moved in quick, agile motions against your swollen clit.
“Come for me,” he panted, lifting his head.
Your lips parted when his finger slipped in. Gripping his hair, your hips bucked against him as he added another and curled. Crying out his name, you came hard and fast around his hand. You think you said Jungkook, amongst other things, as you went limp on the mattress, your hands falling to the sheets.
Jungkook slowly relented, gently kissing your hip, your chest and all the way up your throat. Smiling softly, he settled beside you to drape an arm over your waist. Chest rising and falling, you stared at him in wonder.
You’d often wondered what the mating bond felt like. If something would snap into place and all of a sudden, your mind would belong to someone else. Whatever you’d imagined, it had not been this. This felt as natural, as right as when you flew.
Tracing a circle on your inner thigh, Jungkook looked up. “Do you want more?”
His other hand parted your legs, cupping your heat to show you what he meant. Inhaling softly, you reached down and encircled his wrist with your hand. Jungkook went still.
“Yes,” you murmured. “But not like that.”
His eyes lightened. “How, then?”
“I want all of you. Inside me,” you said. “I take the potions monthly.”
The potions were a trio of liquids sold by most apothecaries throughout the continent. They did everything from preventing pregnancy to protecting against diseases and easing your monthly flow. Arching a brow, you glanced pointedly at the headboard.
Smiling softly, Jungkook retracted his hand. Pushing himself upwards, he shifted to seat himself against the same headboard.
You could not have imagined a more beautiful sight. With mussed hair, his skin dark with ink and flushed with arousal, Jungkook was artwork himself. Lifting yourself to your knees, you positioned yourself over his thighs and lowered your gaze.
His cock was impressive, although you had already known this. He would be the largest you’d ever taken, that was for certain.
Reaching down, you wrapped your hand gently around him. Gaze half-lidded, Jungkook stared as you dragged your hand upwards. A hiss left his lips, though he held himself back.
“Careful,” he warned, shifting his hips.
Brushing your thumb across his head, you spread already-leaking fluids down his hardened shaft. Lowering your body, your mouth slid over the reddening tip. With a flick of your tongue, you relished his soft moan of approval. Next, was a swirl, before you slid off with a pop and began to move your fist.
“This is not your first time,” Jungkook observed, breathing heavily.
“Neither is it yours, Your Majesty.”
Bending again, you took him all at once in your mouth. Gasping his chuckle, Jungkook’s hands skimmed your torso to land on your rear. For a while, the only sounds which filled the room were the sloppy sounds of you sucking.
“It is not,” he panted, fingers digging into your ass. “And yet, I cannot help but be envious of all who came before me. Of all who’ve known the sweet pleasure of your lips on their cock.”
Removing him from your mouth, you looked up.
“There is no need to be jealous,” you said, rising onto your knees. Not looking away, you swung a leg over his hips. “You are the one who has me now.”
Something proud, almost territorial entered his gaze.
Gripping you by the waist, Jungkook pulled you even closer. “Do I?” he murmured, lips brushing your throat. “My Queen. My betrothed. My mate,” he breathed, nipping the skin.
A not unpleasant shiver ran down your spine. Reaching beneath you, you gripped his cock to position at your dripping entrance. Still, you did not take him inside.
Realizing Jungkook awaited an answer, you nodded. He had you.
“Then tell me,” Jungkook demanded, looking into your eyes.
Lowering yourself, you felt his tip brush your entrance. “You have me,” you whispered. “My King. My betrothed. My mate.”
With each word, you took him in deeper. Jungkook sat upright, right hand cupping the back of your neck to bring you closer. Clasped to his warm, damp skin, you sank down on his cock.
“That’s it,” he murmured, hot in your ear. Other hand gripping your ass, he lowered you even further. “You can take more of me, can you not?”
You could and you did, not wanting to wait any longer. Hands digging into his back, you kept your chests pressed together as you sank even further. No matter how much you took, there always seemed to be more to give. Jungkook’s cock stretched you open, making you work to fit all of him inside.
“Oh,” you whimpered, gripping him tighter.
Jungkook grunted and stroked the side of your neck with his thumb. “There you go. Take all of it. All of me,” he exhaled.
A now-familiar shiver swept your spine as you moved. The last inch pushed you past your limits, but finally you felt him bottom out. For a moment, you could not breathe from the feeling of fullness. Of rightness. Of completeness.
Him sheathed inside you felt indescribable, only improved when Jungkook shifted his hips and finally moved.
“Oh,” you gasped, eyes flying wide.
“Y/N,” he groaned.
Lifting yourself higher, your nipples brushed his chest as you eased yourself down. Jungkook’s hand remained on your spine, rolling your hips as he thrust from below. Kissing him slowly, you bit down on his lip and took him in deeper.
Jungkook began to move, spearing you with his cock as you spread your legs. His kisses became harder, more desperate as a steady thrum of power built in between you. Soon it was your hips chasing his, not the other way around.
Lowering his head, Jungkook caught your breast with his mouth. Lips parting, you began to fuck him harder as you slammed your hips down. His tongue teased one rounded breast, switching to the other while his thumb flicked the first.
Dropping onto his length over and over, you marveled at the feel of him moving inside you.
“Jungkook,” you moaned, head thrown back in ecstasy.
His hands seemed to be everywhere. Clasping you to him, skimming your torso, flicking your pebbled nipples as the wave of pleasure built. Toes curling beneath you, you panted from the effort of trying not to come.
As though he could sense this, Jungkook began speeding up. Clasping you to him, he thrust into you harder, filling you with each languid roll of his hips. As your lips found each other, the strange tide of longing crested into a wave.
Winding your fingers into his hair, you tipped your head back and bared your neck to his teeth. Jungkook scraped them up your throat, whining his approval as you rode his cock. Hands gripping your ass hard enough to bruise, his hips moved even faster as he sought completion.
With his dampened skin pressed to yours, his scent began to envelop. Each moan he gave you was freely taken. Each sound you made, he swallowed whole. You were not sure how long you existed in this state, simply reveling in the pleasure from each other’s bodies.
On the edge of release, you felt the bond between you tighten. It was difficult to tell where one of you ended and the other began. Slamming your hips down to his, Jungkook was equally fierce, plunging inside you.
“I cannot hold on much longer,” he gasped.
You nodded, stroking his temple with a sweat-slicked thumb. “Together.”
Jungkook nodded, lips seeking yours in a question you answered. Hips quickening, limbs tightening, you let yourself fall into the release he offered. As you came undone, it was Jungkook you held onto. Somewhere within the bright haze of your pleasure, you felt Jungkook release as well. Thick, hot spurts of cum painted your insides white. 
You reveled in it, trembling at the idea of a future where he’d do this again. Where he’d whet you with his seed, stuffing you full in the hopes you might bear his child. The notion made you whimper, squeezing with your walls as you felt him begin to leak out. 
Although your breathing slowed, the haze of joy lingered. The mating bond became almost visible, shining crystal-clear in what had previously been darkness. It stayed with you; humming and golden, and fearfully strong.
Lifting your head, you met Jungkook’s gaze.
He had not become someone different. Neither had you and yet, something between you had changed. It was still Jungkook beneath you, inside you and with his arms wrapped around you. Now though, you knew what he was to you. Your mate. You had chosen him, and he had chosen you.
Based on his expression, you knew he felt something similar.
One of your hands slid down his chest and settled over his heart. Beneath your palm and warm skin, you felt his heart keeping pace with yours.
“Oh,” you murmured, eyes shining.
Leaning forward, Jungkook brushed your lips with his. Clasping your hand in between you, he rested his forehead to yours.
You knew obstacles lay ahead. You knew but somehow, they all seemed more possible with him by your side. With him as your partner, your mate, your betrothed.
Opening your eyes, you met his gaze and smiled.
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© kpopfanfictrash, 2021. Do not copy or repost without permission.
Author’s Note: Thank you so much to everyone read this long! I hope you enjoyed :)
Character Ask Game found here
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suga-kookiemonster · 8 months ago
let it snow | kth
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part of the once upon a holiday collab with @underthejoon​ @fantasybangtan​ @kpopfanfictrash​ @lamourche​ @hobidreams​ and @junghelioseok​!
summary⇢ it all started by accident, but it continues by choice—even before you began sleeping together, things with your friend taehyung have always been comfortable and easy. simple, and this new arrangement between you is certainly no exception to that rule. well...that's definitely what you thought before a major snowstorm traps the two of you in his apartment over the holidays. now? now, it is quickly becoming apparent that things are a bit more complicated than you realized. pairing⇢ taehyung/reader word count⇢ 18.8k 😩🤦🏽‍♀️  rating⇢ 18+ genre⇢ smut | fluff | fwb!au | snowed in!au warnings⇢ sexual content, oral (m+f receiving), unprotected sex, fingering, a decent amount of netflix and chilling because they’re stuck in the house and horny, a lot of domesticity because mmm, that’s that good stuff 😌, angst, pininggggg
a/n⇢ it’s finally here!! 🙌🏾 i really procrastinated and let it fester until i was forced to churn 19k out in a couple weeks, huh ☠️☠️ classic me lmao. here’s to better planning in the new year! 🤣mood for this fic is this. hope you enjoy! 😊
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“Didn’t you wear that sweater last year?” Seokjin asks, though he already knows the answer. Really, the only reason he’s asking you is to give himself room to segue into the topic of your perceived lack of holiday cheer. 
“Yup! And I’m gonna wear it next year, too,” you reply breezily, forever unbothered by the judgmental scrunch of his nose. You gesture down the length of your chest, where a woven Christmas tree with real flashing Christmas lights proudly sits beneath the words Get Lit.  “This fucker cost sixty-nine ninety-five and I plan on getting my money’s worth.”
“How do you think you’re ever going to win our annual ugly sweater contest if you just keep recycling the same one?” Jin points out as he puts his final touches on a rather beautiful charcuterie board. As the member of your friend group who thrives off of playing the gracious host, he would usually also be dumping cheap vodka down someone’s throat. But due to your various schedules, your friend group has been forced to have your annual get-together a bit too late for those kind of shenanigans this year. Road trips and train rides and being squished on airplanes can already be a bit of a headache, but adding navigating the holiday rush with a raging hangover? Yeah…everyone is smartly playing it safe tonight. So wine and cheese it is—though that doesn’t bother you one bit. If it were socially acceptable and wouldn’t give you scurvy, you would live off that shit. 
Seokjin’s own sweater this year is delightfully horrendous, a printed on mockery of a suit and bowtie. The visually-jarring combination of olive green and a murky red—all against a repulsive santa hat print—definitely makes him a solid contender for this year’s winner.
Still, that makes you no less satisfied with your own choice of attire. “You really think I’m gonna buy a new one every year when I only wear them once?” you ask incredulously, successfully swiping a grape before he can swat your hand away. “Hey, at least I bothered to change the batteries in this thing! That’s a lot of effort for a sweater.”
“You’re no fun,” he pouts, lifting the tray to take to the others. 
You easily trail after him into the living room, sipping on the mulled wine he had poured for you before you had even slipped your shoes off. God, you loved when Seokjin hosted parties. “You weren’t saying that that time I drank Yoongi under the table.”
“That’s not hard to do. Yoongi has two good drinks and goes to bed.”
“Two drinks of hard liquor, so that’s irrelevant! I still drank more. And you’re conveniently forgetting that it was some sort of fancy scotch and it was icky, so I should be awarded bonus fun points.”
Yoongi himself, casually splayed across the sofa, looks up at the sound his name, but remains entirely nonplussed. His sweater has a big picture of that one internet cat making a face at vegetables that is always getting yelled at in memes by one of those rich white reality tv housewives. The hilarity of it almost makes you regret your choice not to get a new sweater this year. Almost. “You may have drank more,” he drawls, “but I seem to recall you being the one under the table at the end of the night.”
You internally wince at the memory—or, to be more accurate, the lack of—as you promptly make yourself comfortable between him and Taehyung, who is snickering at you. Tae had been the one to pull you from under said table, to take you home. “My point still stands.”
“That’s because you were pretty wasted before the scotch,” Jimin pipes up.
“Most people with common sense have to be wasted to drink scotch,” you quip, grinning pointedly at Yoongi. As expected, he doesn’t take the bait—simply gives you a flat stare and takes a sip from his own wine mug. It takes a lot to rile up your dark-haired friend, and so you often amuse yourself by teasing him to see if you can. 
Jimin laughs. He’s curled up in an opposite armchair, his girlfriend Nia seated comfortably on his lap. Normally, you would find this blatant sort of PDA annoying, but these two are adorable, so you let it slide, simply happy that your friend has found someone who makes him happy. Nia has been a bizarrely seamless addition to your little group—enough so that Jimin felt comfortable including her in your holiday tradition of exchanging gifts. So unless they start to get handsy, you refuse to make a big deal out of it and be as big of a Scrooge as Seokjin claims you are.
You feel Taehyung shift, and when you turn, he is already looking at you, amusement dancing across his features. “Nice sweater,” he says. 
“Thanks. I put a lot of thought into it.” You bite the inside of your lip to dampen your own smile. “Yours is pretty snazzy yourself.”
The sweater in question is printed with a complicated Where’s Waldo illustration, and you can’t help but run a finger across the material of his arm in search of the striped character.
“Cold,” Tae says, and when you respond by trailing your finger over to his chest, where a suspiciously-large group of santas are congregated, you feel his body tense a bit in response. “Warmer.”
“Check his nipples,” Hoseok yells from across the room. You roll your eyes good-naturedly, ignoring the way Jimin bursts into laughter at the suggestion. Taehyung flicks an eyebrow in challenge.
“Or the armpit,” Namjoon offers helpfully. “If I were hiding on a sweater, I’d pick an armpit.”
“Hmmm, that’s a fair point. Up!” you command, and Taehyung laughs and lifts his arms without complaint, allowing you to properly inspect his armpits for the elusive character. When it becomes clear that you aren’t going to find what you’re looking for there, you take another sip of your wine and dutifully turn your attention back to his chest, intending to search in earnest. 
But before you can, the speakers next to the couch spring to life, startling you a bit. Despite your initial confusion, you slowly start to recognize the familiar tune of Frosty the Snowman, jumbled over an EDM beat. It’s loud and extra and toeing the edge annoying, and your head immediately snaps to Jungkook, who declared himself the DJ of the party years ago and has stubbornly refused to give up the position ever since. He grins at you, clear mischief in his eyes, and you know then that he’s only playing the abomination to annoy the living shit out of everyone.
Though Seokjin’s busy being a good host and passing out cups of spiked eggnog, you can see how well Jungkook’s plan is working by the flush spreading up his neck. “I thought I told you to play Mariah,” he huffs over the racket as he hands Nia hers.
Jungkook looks nonchalantly at his phone, where he’s projecting his supposedly carefully curated playlist via bluetooth. “She’s on here.”
“What about Dean Martin?” Taehyung asks. “You know, the classics? Or literally anything else.”
You snort. Taehyung’s music taste has been known to sometimes overlap with Jungkook’s, so for him to be so visibly disgusted, you know it’s bad. “What about that one chipmunk song?” you suggest.
Jungkook winks at you, shoots you some finger guns. “Already got you, boo.”
“Oh god,” you groan, glaring at Yoongi when he starts snickering at you. “I was totally kidding.”
“Well, I wasn’t!” Jungkook says cheerfully. He has to yell a little bit to be heard over the booming bass. “When it comes to Christmas bops, I never kid.”
 You groan louder. “Jungkookie. Please!”
“I don’t know—I kinda like it,” Alexa pipes up, and you have to put forth actual effort to stop your eyes from rolling to the back of your head. Alexa is Hoseok’s newest fling, and while Nia slots into your group dynamic easily, Alexa, in your opinion, is a bit of an airhead. She’s pretty, but you would bet actual money that she’s the type to think Chicken of the Sea is chicken—and you’re pretty sure she’s not even filming for a reality show, so she truly has no excuse. But that seems to be Hobi’s type—someone who is easy on the eyes and won’t try to force him to commit. To be honest, you’re pretty surprised that she’s lasted long enough to make it to your friend group’s borderline-sacred holiday get-together, but you’re even more surprised that Hobi actually bothered to bring her.
“Thank you, Alexa,” Jungkook says pointedly, and frankly he probably has a better chance at annoying Yoongi tonight than you do. “You have great taste.”
You must be making some sort of face, because Namjoon takes one look at you and sucks his lips into a straight line, just like he always does when he’s trying not to laugh inappropriately at something. 
“At least turn it down a little,” Seokjin sighs. “You already made my neighbors file a noise complaint on me on Halloween. I’m not trying to get another one.”
“Hey, you were the one screaming on Halloween, not me.”
“Because we were watching a movie about demons! You told me we were gonna watch Air Bud!”
“To be fair,” Taehyung pipes up, “nobody watches that on Halloween. So you walked into that one.”
“You know that’s my favorite movie,” Jin protests loudly. “And for the record, Hobi screamed louder than me!”
Hoseok just shrugs. “I don’t handle the supernatural well. Especially when the supernatural are little kids. Give me old lady ghosts any day.” 
Seokjin and Jungkook keep bickering, but that honestly is just a testament to how close they are. In fact, your whole little group is rather close, and it’s actually bizarre to think about how these are your closest friends, because when you stop to consider it, you’re all here, in Seokjin’s living room sipping on delightfully festive cocktails, by pure chance. 
Your sophomore year of college, Yoongi, your roommate’s boyfriend, was often over your apartment. The two of you became friendly, and when they ended up breaking up, he never broke up with you. (You’ve never felt particularly bad about that, because your roommate was more of an acquaintance than anything else. You lost touch with her once the lease was up, anyway.) Namjoon and Hoseok were in the same music theory class as Yoongi, and the three of them have made music together ever since. Seokjin used to be Namjoon’s favorite bartender at his favorite bar. Jimin frequented the same dance class as Hoseok. Taehyung is Jimin’s best friend from childhood. Tae befriended Jungkook over some online game he was obsessed with at the time, and when they realized they lived in the same general area, he made the—in your opinion—stupid decision to meet up with him. (It all turned out for the best, of course. Because that’s the kind of luck Taehyung has—he draws people to him without trying, his good energy attracting only more good energy.) 
And that’s exactly how you would describe this friend group the universe allowed you to stumble into—good energy. Good vibes. Well, that was certainly how you would describe it when Jungkook wasn’t blasting a screamo version of Silent Night. Which he was. Right. Now.
“Hey,” Namjoon yells over the ruckus, leaning closer to Tae to be heard better. “Where’s Jisoo? Did she not want to come?”
One breath, two. Something in the universe shifts, just slightly.
“Jisoo?” you repeat. Your brain shuffles through any logical possibilities before confusedly settling on the pretty girl Hobi had set Taehyung up with months and months ago. The pretty girl he had gone on a single date with and then never mentioned to you again.
“She flew home last week.” Tae looks uncomfortable. Your stomach twists. “And hyung, I told you it’s not like that.”
One date and he had never mentioned her again, so you had reasonably assumed that had been the end of it. But clearly, from the way Namjoon’s brows furrow in confusion, from the way Taehyung so carefully does not look at you, this is not the case. Clearly, he just never mentioned her to you.
There is an awkward silence in your corner of the room, because it’s blatantly obvious that you’ve been left in the dark on this and now, by accident, you’re suddenly not. 
Sensing the weird energy, Namjoon reaches for a cookie shaped like a candy cane and stuffs it in his mouth, quiet. 
You can feel Yoongi’s eyes boring through your skin, but you ignore him, refusing to look in his direction. You smile instead, though it feels off around the edges. You hope it doesn’t look that way too. “Huh. Congrats. I didn’t realize you were still seeing her—you never mentioned it.”
Taehyung rubs the back of his neck. “It’s not really serious.”
“Three months is serious enough,” you reply airily. Three months since Hoseok set them up. Four since— You look away, finishing the last dregs of your wine. “Sorry she couldn’t make it.”
Tae’s lips part, but whatever he has to say never comes to fruition. Seokjin claps his hands and yells for Jungkook to turn the music down so you can get the festivities started.
Clearing your throat, you use the distraction to stand up and make your way back into the kitchen, where the mulled wine is still being warmed by a crockpot. You have a flight to catch in the morning, but you figure one more glass can’t hurt.
When you come back, you find that Jungkook has taken your spot, and you also find that you’re perfectly fine with that. You sit in the chair next to Jimin and Nia instead, keeping your gaze solidly on Seokjin as he starts reminding everyone of the rules for your ugly sweater contest—something your little group takes rather seriously. Point categories include ugliness, creativity, hilarity, and raunchiness, with bonus points to be given for any good puns.
One by one, you each stand so your choice of attire can be properly judged. You miss, you drink declares Hoseok’s sweater, the mini tennis balls stuck to the giant velcro target in the center a clear invitation for someone to give the game a go. Namjoon’s sweater has a visibly judgmental santa between the words I Saw That, You Nasty. Jungkook’s has Santa enthusiastically riding a shark like a horse. Jimin’s is modeled after a Christmas tree, actual green tinsel elegantly latticed throughout and supplemented with a number of small, strategically-placed Christmas ornaments. Nia’s is clearly homemade, and clearly an eyesore, tinsel and felt letters stapled to the fabric. Feel the Joy, it says, a pair of gloves strategically-pinned over her breasts.
All excellent, excellent contenders. Your friends all start to argue, everyone making their case for who should be crowned this year’s winner. And, normally, you would be right in the thick of it. But instead, tonight you just sip your wine, subdued.
“I like this one,” Alexa pipes up, pointing at Jimin. “It’s cute.”
“It’s not supposed to be cute. It’s supposed to be ugly!” Seokjin insists, an edge of annoyance in his tone. And you don’t blame him—Alexa didn’t even bother to wear her own sweater because it was ugly. Why is she allowed to vote anyway? Why is she even here?
“Tinsel is ugly,” Jimin whines.
Yoongi shakes his head with a scoff. “Yours isn’t. It’s delightful.”
“Why is no one taking into consideration that my sweater has a shark on it,” Jungkook cuts in. 
Distracted, you pitch in your opinion when prompted and laugh when it seems you should. In the end, after much bickering and multiple rounds of voting, Nia is declared the winner. She lifts her eggnog in victory and Jimin grins wide, as proud of her accomplishment as if it were his own. (Namjoon had argued that her sweater was more horny than ugly, but Seokjin had to begrudgingly admit that it was both.) 
Hoseok, never a sore loser, starts hooting in support, which only sets off Jungkook, and then, like dominoes, everyone else. You cheer too, laughing. Despite everything, so happy to be here, in this room, with people who entered your life by chance and stayed by choice. You’re filled with such affection that you can’t help but grin when Jungkook promptly plays The Chipmunk Song, just for you.
“I’ll be right back,” you tell no one in particular, still laughing, still warm inside. The wine has you a bit buzzed, but mostly you just feel like your bladder is about to tap out on you, so you make your way to the restroom before it does. 
Through the kitchen, down the hall, on the left. You’ve been to Seokjin’s place often enough that your feet take the right path without much thought, your mind blessedly not settling on anything in particular as you do your business and wash your hands. Reentering the hallway has you blinking away the lingering imprint of florescent lights as your eyes adjust to the shadows. You jump a little when one of them moves unexpectedly.
“Sorry.” It’s Taehyung. You can see him a bit better now, can see the tall shape of him, the broadness of his shoulders, the muddled pattern of his sweater when he moves a little closer to you. Can make out the line of his jaw, the set of his gaze.
“No problem,” you say, stepping to the side a bit so you both have room to pass each other. You move to leave, but right as your arms brush, he speaks again. 
“It’s really not like that,” he murmurs.
You pause. Don’t turn, just stare at the carpet and focus on keeping your feelings in. On not reacting. Because he would tell you, right? He promised he would tell you.
He promised—but he has been keeping this from you.
“…Okay,” you say carefully, still not looking up. He said it isn’t serious. If it isn’t serious, it’s truly none of your business. It doesn’t matter. You swallow. You don’t look up.
There is a long pause, the charged silence cut by the cheerful music coming from the other room. Taehyung still hasn’t moved. Presumably, he’s in this hallway with you because he needed to pee, but he doesn’t continue towards the bathroom, his feet solidly planted in the carpet. In your peripheral vision, you can see him turn towards you, see his mouth open and close a few times. You don’t need to see anymore.
You leave him there, one quick step in front of the other, and head back to the others.
Yoongi looks up at you when you reenter, but you simply shoot him a quick smile and return to your seat next to Jimin and Nia. She’s still perched on his lap, but at some point since you left, Jimin has decided to slip his hands into the gloves attached to her chest. You shake your head, mind still too preoccupied with what just happened in the hallway to properly call him out on it.
The music changes, a sultry man crooning about how he wants to be your Santa Claus, and Namjoon’s head whips around. “Is that Keith Sweat?” he asks incredulously.
“Damn right, it is,” Jungkook grins, visibly pleased with himself.
Joon and Yoongi pull matching baffled faces at each other, Yoongi muttering about how he hadn’t realized Keith Sweat had even released a Christmas album. 
Hoseok has only had a little eggnog, but his face is red anyway as he leans against the back of your chair. “Hey, is it time for gifts yet?”
The mentioning of tonight’s main event has Seokjin perking up. “It can be. We just have to wait for—oh never mind, there he is. Taehyung, it’s time for gifts!”
Tae smiles in response, reclaiming his spot on the couch next to Jungkook. His gaze drifts in your direction, but you look away before you can lock eyes.
Jimin, who is closest to the gift table, promptly displaces his girlfriend and gets up to start handing out assigned gifts. They’re all of varying sizes—while Taehyung’s is a mere envelope, Yoongi’s is large enough to fit a small appliance. Vaguely, you wonder if someone was being funny with the packaging (boxes in boxes), or if he was actually gifted a deep fryer.
One by one, you each unwrap your gifts, excitedly revealing who was whose secret santa. Hoseok gets you, and you’re pleasantly surprised to see that he remembered the exact brand of specialty chocolates you’ve been dying to try. Jin and Yoongi get each other, and to the delight of everyone in the room, it turns out they gifted each other matching tackle boxes.
“I only bought it because I noticed you looking at it,” Yoongi sighs, pouting at how everyone’s laughing.
Seokjin lets out a huff. “Yah! I was only looking at it because I saw you looking at it!”
But for all their grumbling, from what you can tell, they’re both happy with their gifts, and will likely get a lot of use out of them together.
“What’s that?” you hear Jungkook ask curiously, and when you turn in his direction, he’s leaning over Tae, trying to make sense of the piece of paper he’d pulled out of a generic Christmas card. You swallow.
Taehyung’s eyebrows are furrowed, his lips twitching into a confused smile as he holds the paper up for the room to see. It’s a printout of an advertisement from a nearby art gallery. 
“Tickets to Kim Jungwoo’s newest exhibition,” you clarify, clearing your throat when your voice comes out more stunted than you would like. “Just let me know when you want to go and I can get them for you.”
“Oh, come onnnn,” Jungkook complains with a pout. “We had a thirty dollar limit.”
“Maybe next time you shouldn’t buy your gift from the convenience store,” Jimin says, pointedly looking down at the box full of ramen he was gifted.
“Do you or do you not like spicy chicken.”
“…I do.”
“That’s what I thought. Merry Christmas.”
“Don’t worry—my cousin works at that gallery,” you explain, “so I was able to get a discount. I know you like that artist, so when I saw their new exhibition was coming near us, I just figured maybe you would like it…” 
You meet Taehyung’s eyes, and they’re so dark and expressive that you have the intense urge to look away immediately. But then he smiles, wide and bright, and now you can’t stop looking. “Holy shit, I didn’t even realize he was coming here—how did you even know I love his work?”
You tamp down a pleased smile, shrug good-naturedly. “It’s a Christmas miracle.”
“Thank you,” he says, and you can hear how much he means it. Can see it in the excitement in his eyes, in the soft way he’s looking at you. It warms you from the inside out, satisfaction and affection trickling through your veins and spreading slowly, slowly. But steadily.
“Of course,” you reply, and you’re smiling too. You can’t help it.
And then the moment is broken by the first verse of what is apparently a My Neck, My Back x Jingle Bells mashup blasting through the speakers. You all pause, disbelieving of what you’re hearing, and then Nia immediately starts cackling, almost falling out of her chair at the ridiculousness of the situation. Yoongi rubs his temples like a migraine is coming on. 
“Really, Jungkook?” Seokjin groans loudly.
Jungkook starts cackling too. “Feliz Navidad, mis amigos!”
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The night ends earlier than you all would like—usually, there would be at least a few more hours of chilling and drinking and shenanigans. But alas, you have a flight to catch tomorrow and you’re not the only one, so you’re all begrudgingly shuffling into the night air a little before midnight. You all thank Seokjin for his hospitality and hug each other goodbye, promising to see each other again around New Year’s, before going your separate ways. 
As per usual when leaving Seokjin’s, Jimin and Taehyung walk with you—you all live in the same direction, so you have to take the same train. Nia is tipsy, her laugh loud and her arm around Jimin’s midsection. Jimin eats up the attention, an arm slung over her shoulders bringing her body flush against his.
They’re cute, you think for the umpteenth time that night, watching them from behind, their silhouettes periodically illuminated by the street lamps you pass.
The sidewalks are narrow, so Taehyung quietly walks next to you, hands in the pockets of his coat. The silence between you is strange—it’s awkward, but it’s not. It’s loaded with something, but it means nothing at all. In any case, you feel no inclination to break it, so you don’t, distractedly pulling your hat further down your head in an effort to ward off the windchill. 
The train is bizarrely full at this time at night, likely the result of more and more people being out and about, getting their shopping done and enjoying the holiday season. The four of you have to stand, though this doesn’t bother you much, as you don’t have that many stops to wait. Besides, passengers tend to get off with Jimin anyway—by the time it’s your stop, you often have most of the train car to yourself. 
It doesn’t take long to arrive at Jimin’s stop, and he and Nia both hug you goodbye and wish you a safe trip before leaving you and Tae alone. As you expected, the car has cleared up a bit—enough for a seat near you to become available, at least. Taehyung gestures, and you wordlessly take it, him grasping the bar above your head.
Another two stops, and the older man sitting next to you gets off. Taehyung easily slots himself into the vacated seat. He’s tall, with rather broad shoulders and long limbs, and you’ve always known this, but there’s a difference between knowing and feeling him as he folds into the compact space. His shoulder rests flush against yours; his knee bumps yours a bit every time the train takes a sharp turn on the rails.
A couple more stops and he’ll get off before you. A couple more stops, and you’ll be able to breathe and keep pretending.
You stare outside the window, simply to have somewhere to look. But despite the picturesque view of the city rushing by, you can’t help but focus on something else.
Taehyung, meeting your eyes in the reflection.
Carefully, you turn back in his direction, and yes, he’s looking right back, eyes dark in the fluorescent lighting.
“Do you want to come over?” he murmurs, deep voice somehow deeper in his effort to keep his voice down. The offer makes the slumbering beast within you stir. Your breath quickens. Your lips part.
“I have to catch a flight in the morning.” Not an acceptance, not a refusal. Simply the truth.
“I can take you to the airport.”
You already know what you want to say. Already know, even as you bite your tongue and try to think about this logically. You’re already all packed, suitcase ready and waiting next to your front door for you to simply grab it and leave. You hate packing and tend to leave it until the last second, but you also knew you were unlikely to want to do so when you came home late at night, or even the next morning, so you made sure to get it all done before you left for Seokjin’s earlier today. Taehyung will have to take you back to your place to pick it up, but it’s kind of hard to point this fact out when you suddenly notice his hand on your knee, the warmth slowly permeating your jeans and making it hard for you to think. 
“…Okay,” you breathe.
“Great,” he says, fingers light, light as they tease a little further up your leg, but ultimately return to dormancy before they can start anything in public. “What time’s your flight?”
You bite your lip. “Ten.”
He hums in acknowledgment, but doesn’t move his hand. 
You don’t move it either.
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The first time it happened, it was completely by accident.
It had been a long, stressful week at work, and after noticing your unusual silence in the groupchat, a simple check-in text from Taehyung turned into you bitching about your grueling ordeal—which easily turned into him sounding the alarm and calling an emergency meetup. 
Some of your friends had other plans, and you were quick to dismiss Tae’s deceptively frantic tone before anyone got too worried, insisting they not cancel anything for you. So it was Tae, Hoseok, and Namjoon who met you at a bar that night, one specialty cocktail easily turning into three as your best friends made sure your glass was always full. And then, since you were all in such a good mood, you kept the night going to another bar, where more alcohol and a live band had you dancing away any problems you could have had.
Hoseok finally decided he was ready to go home at 3am, and the rest of the group conceded. Which was for the best, really, because you were all stupid drunk and every bar in the city was going to close in an hour or so anyway. So you said goodbye for the night, stumbling towards your respective homes.
You and Tae briefly discussed the possibility of sharing an Uber, but neither of you really wanted to pay surge prices when you lived relatively close by. So to the train you went, your arm comfortably linked through his—partially because you couldn’t walk in a straight line, and partially because you tended to get rather…touchy the more intoxicated you got. Taehyung didn’t seem to mind, happy to let you use him for balance. Alcohol made his laughs loud and his face flushed, both particularly noticeable in the relative quiet of the night.
But no matter how drunk, Taehyung never lost his sense of chivalry. He walked on the side of the sidewalk closest to the street so you wouldn’t stumble into it (despite tripping into a couple parked cars himself), and when the two of you made it onto the nearly empty train car, he then insisted that you just come home with him, because his place was closer and he didn’t want you riding the last few stops by yourself so late at night.
You didn’t fight him, because crashing at his place wasn’t foreign to you, and now that there was no loud music keeping your attention, you were practically falling asleep where you sat. So to his apartment the two of you went.
Things become spotty after that. You remember being forced back to consciousness by your screaming bladder, and when you opened your eyes, still pretty drunk and trying to get a sense of your surroundings, you realized that you were on Tae’s bed, splayed on top of the covers like you had faceplanted onto them and not moved an inch since. You remember the confusion quickly turning into fascination when you looked over and saw Taehyung was laying next to you, knocked out.
This was new. Any other time, you would have had a minor argument over who would sleep on the couch (because you felt bad kicking him out of his own bed in his own home and he flat out insisted you take said bed). But your plastered selves had apparently been too tired for that, because this time, you both had passed out side by side.
You stumbled to the bathroom to relieve yourself, groaning at how the lights disturbed your retinas. When you came back, properly sliding under the covers this time, you saw that Taehyung had turned in his sleep, now facing you. And there, fueled by lingering whiskey sours, emboldened by the darkness, you did what you never allowed yourself to do otherwise—stare.
All of your friends are annoyingly good-looking, but there has always been something about Taehyung that has drawn your eyes. He is nothing short of beautiful, and that night you freely drank it up, entranced by his profile—illuminated by the scant light filtering through his blinds. Dark curls mussed on a pillowcase. Long eyelashes fanned across his cheekbones. Lips, plush with a prominent cupid’s bow, puckered almost in invitation.
And naturally, drunk you accepted said invitation.
You leaned forward, easily shrinking the small gap between you, and curiously pressed your lips into the fullness of his, freezing in shock when they responded with equal pressure. 
Pulling back confirmed that yes, Taehyung was awake, eyes dark and hazy as they looked back at you. For a few solid moments, you stared at each other, silent and unmoving. But it was him who broke the stillness next, face shifting closer and closer until your noses bumped. Until you shared one breath. Until your lips were parting so his tongue could slip inside.
Everything else is foggy, your memory stunted by drowsiness and alcohol, but your body still remembers. Still remembers the ghost of his mouth. Still remembers your heart pounding excitedly in your ears, still remembers the warm weight of him rolling on top of you. What your mind does remember, however, is waking up the next morning, head feeling like it was going to split in two, mouth feeling like cotton, and quickly realizing Taehyung had apparently fallen asleep with his hand down your pants.
Things were different without the moon as your accomplice. The sun wasn’t nearly as forgiving, and after carefully retracting all body parts to their respective owners, you both awkwardly shuffled around each other in the kitchen, you pouring water into glasses and Tae silently handing you the bottle of ibuprofen after taking a couple for himself.
You drained your whole glass before either of you bothered to speak. It was Tae who broke first.
“What if we just agree this never happened?” you offered, voice so croaky you had to clear your throat to continue. “I don’t even remember anyway.”
Taehyung paused, glass hovering near his mouth. “You don’t remember?”
You blinked, wondering if you should fess up to your partial lie. “Do you?”
The glass got set down, his eyes closing as he rubbed his temples with a hand. “Not really.”
Good. Great. This was a thing that had happened on accident and you both could move past it. “See? We both just had too much to drink. It doesn’t have to mean anything if we don’t let it. No one even has to know!”
“…Doesn’t have to mean anything,” he agreed with a final nod.
And that had been that.
Until the second time.
The second time happened a few weeks later, also by accident. But then again, if you thought about it, the second time was much more intentional than the first. That time, you were all at Jimin’s, because it was his turn to host your group’s monthly movie night. And Jimin never hosted movie night without homemade guacamole and bottomless margaritas. So while you weren’t blitzed like the last time, you were still pleasantly drunk. Enough to not immediately look away when you caught Taehyung staring at you when everyone else was too focused on the tv screen. Enough to slowly simmer under his persistent gaze throughout the night, to cross and recross your legs at the blatant desire in his expression. 
It’s about a fifteen walk from Jimin’s place to Tae’s, but that night, Taehyung casually got on the train with you instead. When the doors opened on his stop, he made no move to get off.
“This is you,” you said, fully aware that he was aware.
“It is,” he hummed agreeably. His Adam’s apple bobbed. “Should I get off?”
You bit your lip. You shook your head.
Silently, you both watched his stop come and go, and then when it was time for yours, you exited the train.
Alcohol had lowered your inhibitions, yes, but that second time? It couldn’t be used as an excuse the second time. You had been haunted by the ghost of his lips ever since you decided to abandon them weeks ago, and now, now, you were both fully aware of every choice you made. Fully aware when you slowly peeled off your clothes, shy yet eager. Fully aware when he cupped you over your underwear. When he slid your panties down your legs so he could feel you properly, so his long fingers could fuck stars behind your eyelids. Fully aware of the velvety weight of him, the slick, sticky glide as he rutted into your hand.
Of sound mind when making these decisions, but rapidly losing it the longer he whispered in your ear, the longer he sucked color into your skin. “Taehyung,” you groaned into his collarbone. “Condom.”
And so it was different. And it was good. So fucking good that you could hardly believe this wasn’t some sort of sex dream your unconscious mind had cooked up. Taehyung was big and you felt him deep in your guts and halfway up your throat as he fucked you. He made you moan, made you whine, made you beg, and that only seemed to egg him on as he pounded you into the mattress with enough force to make your teeth rattle and your eyes roll back into your head.
And when it was over, it was clear that there was no going back. No excuses to be made. You had both wanted it and had acted on what you wanted, and that was that.
The next morning found you both in the kitchen again, a charged silence in the air as you went about making beverages for the conversation that absolutely had to be had. Coffee for you. Apple cinnamon tea for Taehyung.
“So,” you hedged, sliding him a mug.
His smile was small and shy. “So.”
“We should probably talk about this.”
“Do you want to forget this too?”
“I…can’t,” you admitted, face heating in embarrassment. You didn’t know why you were embarrassed. The ache between your legs proved it was a little too late for that now.
Taehyung’s gaze turned to his mug, bobbing his teabag in the hot water again and again as he thought. “I couldn’t forget last time.”
That pulled a laugh from you. “I noticed,” you said, affection dripping from every word, and you wanted to suck the slip back in, to snatch it back before it reached his ears. But Taehyung just smiled bigger into his mug.
You sat across from him. “This is going to keep happening, isn’t it?”
He was quiet for a few moments, contemplating your question. Or maybe his answer. He looked back up, solidly holding your gaze. “If you want it to.”
You weren’t prepared for that response. If you wanted it to? What kind of question was if you wanted it to? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
“Did you like it?” he prompted when your silence stretched a bit too long.
“I mean…” You officially dreaded running into your next door neighbors in the halls and you had no doubt a few noise complaints were coming your way, so that should have been obvious. “Yeah.”
“Me too,” he said easily, and there it was. The bright, boxy smile you had a hard time saying no to. “I like making you feel good. So why not?”
Your heart skipped at that flippant admission. There were a lot of reasons why not, but he made it sound so simple. So easy. You both liked doing it, so why not?
Still, it seemed too good to be true, and you bit your lip warily. “No strings attached? Nonexclusive?”
His head tilted a little at your proposal, and you rushed to explain it. “This is just for fun, right? So let’s keep it fun and uncomplicated. I don’t want to hold you up or anything, so how about we can have other partners, so long as we always use protection.”
“…That sounds fair to me,” he replied after a moment.
You held up a finger. “But if we find someone we want to start seeing seriously, we should stop. Because that would make things messy and be unfair to everyone involved.”
He nodded in agreement. “And whether there’s someone else or not, if you ever want to stop for any reason at all, just tell me.”
There was a fat chance that would happen, but you appreciated his careful consideration nonetheless. “And do you mind if we just keep this between us?”
Taehyung’s eyebrows pinched for a second before you saw his face smooth out. “Sure. Any reason why?”
“I just think other people could complicate things,” you admitted. “And you know how nosy our friends are. They won’t let us just be, you know? They’ll make it into something it’s not.”
“Just between us, then.” He offered his hand, and despite you being the main one who thought things through, you found yourself shy to take it. You shook on it, and that was that.
And so, a standing arrangement was made, with rules in place to help keep it just as simple as it sounded. No strings attached— nonexclusive, and either of you can stop it at any time. It was easy—whenever either of you was feeling particularly frisky, you would go to him (or him to you) and he would thoroughly pipe you down until that itch was scratched.
But, of course, nothing is ever truly simple. Because there was one giant reason why you didn’t want anyone to know about your tryst. The glaring problem you’ve been ignoring since the start is that no matter how much Tae helps you scratch, you are never going to stop itching. 
Because you may or may not be harboring a fat crush on your friend. 
And Yoongi knows.
That night you got wasted on scotch and drank him under the table? Apparently, scotch makes you talkative, and Yoongi has always been a good listener. He casually brought it up when the two of you had grabbed coffee the next morning and you wanted to walk into traffic, you were so embarrassed by your own loose lips. But Yoongi is a great friend in that he promised he would never repeat your secrets. He is also a great friend in that he would never let you go along with this friends with benefits situation knowing what he knows, and knowing that it can’t possibly end well for you. 
You know that too, of course. You’re fully aware of how bad an idea this is. How his eventual rejection will shatter you, how it will ruin the dynamics of your entire friend group. And still, you went forward with it.  Because before you could stop it, your small crush on one of your best friends bloomed into something much more than that. And so these little nights where you ached for dick? You didn’t just want any dick. You wanted Taehyung’s. Only Taehyung’s. Only Taehyung. 
You know that the moment Yoongi finds out, he’ll try to talk some sense into you—because he’s a good friend, and, unlike you, he wants what’s best for you. 
And hypothetical Yoongi is right. This is a stupid idea, absolutely moronic to put yourself in this kind of of situation. But you are always stupid when it comes to Taehyung. Greedy. You want all of him, all his belly laughs and dark looks and enthusiastic karaoke performances and soft touches and introspective mornings. You want that—want any and all scraps he’s willing to give you, and at this point in time, you find enough strength in this blatant weakness that you keep giving yourself to him.
Or, at least, you had.
Before tonight.
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Tonight, Taehyung pushes you against his apartment door, his urge to touch you outweighing his urge to hustle you both inside. His hands travel the curve of your ass, fingers digging into the meat of you in a way that can only be interpreted as mine. And you let him.
It’s not like that, he had told you, and as much as it hurts, it also ignites a fire within you. Because he promised to tell you if anyone else serious came along. Any serious prospects for either of you? This would all would end. You would stop. 
He promised, but he hasn’t claimed her. And, because of that, you can still have him—can bask in him as long as he keeps asking. As long he allows you.
Greedy, greedy. Stupid, stupid.
“Hobi-hyung was right,” he murmurs against your mouth. He’s much taller than you, so he has to bend down a good amount to meet you, though this has never seemed to bother him. “Should have checked the right nipple. I was hoping you would.”
It takes you a moment to figure out what he’s talking about, too distracted by the way his knee purposely slips between your legs. His sweater. The evasive Waldo.
“I’m much more interested in your pants,” you breathe, fingers tugging on the waistband to prove your point.
“Hmmm?” He smirks, and you tingle all the way to your toes. “Why? What do you think I’m hiding in there?”
You cup him, revel in the hiss that escapes his lips at the small pressure. “Taehyung. Open the door.”
He doesn’t have to be told twice, quickly rooting in the pockets of said pants for his keys and shifting you out of the way so he can properly access the lock. But after that, he barely gives you room to breathe, lips reuniting with yours. Hands sliding your coat to the ground and circling your waist, pulling you flush against him. Making sure you can feel the hard evidence of his want for you. Eager. Without separating from you, he kicks the door shut behind him, slips his shoes off, and starts walking you backwards.
You would tease him about his enthusiasm, but you’re no better. You thrive in it. Every step closer to his bed, every teasing brush of his thumbs beneath the hem of your sweater fills you with barely-suppressed glee. The little whimper he lets out when you work off his pants? Relief. 
It’s you who sinks to your knees, who scrapes your teeth over the hairs trailing his belly button, down, down. It’s you who purposefully presses your tongue into his weeping slit. You whose insides glow, bright as the sun, at the way his groans are barely able to be choked out. Because it’s your mouth he’s fucking into, not Jisoo’s. Not anyone else’s. It’s you who he belongs to, even if only for these fleeting moments.
Taehyung pulls you off of him before you can really get a rhythm going, before you decide to start fondling his balls in a way you know from experience will end him. Because, from the way he’s fisting your hair, tugging from the scalp with the exact amount of force that you love, he’s not ready to be done with you.
He undresses you with practiced hands, taking care to suck blooming color into all stretches of skin he uncovers. Open-mouthed kisses at the junction of your neck and collarbone. A light nip of your right breast, tongue immediately following and laving over the irritated area. When he finally decides to slip a hand between your thighs to get you ready for him, he can’t help but shudder when he realizes you already are. Two fingers easily sink into your hot cunt, a third making a gasp escape you.
“Look at you,” he mutters as he strokes you, and his tone borders enough on reverent that your whole body prickles in ecstasy. “Make me so fucking crazy.” A thumb swirls around your clit with intent and he recaptures your lips, inhaling your gasps as he beckons, beckons, and your thighs shake.
It’s too much—it’s not enough, and you’re going dizzy with want for him. Your hands scrabble up his back, pulling him completely on top of you, his warm weight more than welcome. Your chests are flush, and still, it is not enough. 
Taehyung somehow understands you—has always managed to understand you. Understands the root of your growing frustration. With one last lingering kiss, he pulls away just enough to reach over and open the drawer of the nightstand next to you. 
You feel protest building beneath your skin but you suppress it. Because previous encounters have taught you that you’re getting what you want. And sure enough, he roots out a condom, wasting no time in ripping open the foil and rolling the rubber down his length.
No matter how often he’s had you, the first press of his cock has always been intense—he is long and thick and yours, yours. Taehyung covers you with his body and fills in all your empty spaces until you are finally whole. Until you’re both slick with sweat and his hair sticks to his forehead, a notably primal noise rumbling in his chest. Until you’re so out of your mind that your teeth lock into his shoulder and you quiver uncontrollably. 
It’s only during these moments that you allow yourself the luxury of pretending. Only during these moments that you allow your mind to linger in the fantasy that this is more than it is. 
After, Taehyung always pulls you against him, and you always silently barter with the sun for a little more time. Wordlessly beg the moon to stay, please stay, just a little bit longer. 
You always fall asleep in his arms, his steady heartbeat lulling you into unconsciousness, and that’s that.  
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There’s nothing in particular that wakes you the next morning. It could be the sound of movement in the next room, but it could also be the growing sunlight filtering through the blinds, or your brain nudging you because your subconscious knows you have somewhere to be. In any case, you blink slowly and unseeingly at the closet door, languidly stretching your legs one by one beneath the sheets.
Until it suddenly clicks in the recesses of your mind that the reason you’re squinting is because the sun is well and fully out. And you have somewhere you should be.
You leap out of bed, frazzled and adrenaline pumping as you ruffle through your discarded jeans for your phone. You forgot to set your alarm and it’s 11:15. Fuck.
“Taehyung!” you yell, slapping on one of his t-shirts you find haphazardly thrown over a chair. It’s just big enough to cover all your important bits, but that’s the last thing on your mind as you storm into the hallway in search of your friend.
You find him in the kitchen. He turns at the sound of your voice, hair adorably mussed by his pillow and your hands. “Hey,” he greets you, deep voice somehow always even deeper in the morning. He’s wearing nothing but a pair of gray sweatpants, and you swallow hard at the sight, forcing yourself to focus.
“I missed my flight!” you screech. “Why didn’t you wake me up?”
Tae bites his lip. “So funny story,” he says in a way that lets you know that the oncoming story will be anything but. “You know that huge snowstorm that’s set to hit at the end of the week?”
“…Yes?” you reply suspiciously. You’ve been keeping an eye on it, worried that it might interfere with your travel plans. But your local weatherman’s assurance that you would already be home and eating your grandma’s macaroni and cheese by the time the storm hit you calmed you. 
“Well,” he continues, a nervous chuckle putting you on edge. “It hit last night. Surprise!”
You blink, unamused by his obvious joke. “What.”
“Twenty-two inches,” he continues. “Your flight has definitely been canceled. I doubt we can even get out of this building right now, to be honest. Who knows when my landlord’s gonna start shoveling.”
“Taehyung. Now is not the time to play with me,” you warn. Even as you’re unlocking your phone to factcheck him yourself.
“I’m not,” he promises, holding up his hands, pacifying. “Flights are canceled and you looked tired, so figured I’d just let you sleep.”
But his explanation falls on deaf ears when the internet confirms everything he’s saying. Jaw dropping in disbelief, you rush towards the window over the sink, separating the blinds with a finger. 
All you see is white.
“Holy shit,” you mutter to yourself in wonder, astonished to not even be able to see any of the cars you know for a fact are parked along the street. Hell, you can’t even see the street. Everything is just buried under too much snow.
“There’s nothing we can do,” he says, a hand catching your elbow. He leads you to the table. “Come on, sit down. I’ll make you some coffee.”
“Thanks,” you say, dazedly doing what he asks as your mind goes a mile a minute. Worried your mother will still wait at the airport for a plane that will never arrive, you quickly give her a call. 
“I figured,” she says. “I saw that a storm hit your area on the news, and when I looked it up, your plane had been canceled.”
“I’m sorry, Mom.”
“Girl, don’t be! I haven’t even gotten dressed yet.” You can hear Christmas music playing in the background, and you can imagine her, still in her pajamas, in the kitchen getting started on the dishes she was assigned to bring to your grandmother’s tomorrow. Now that your plans of going home are a little more up in the air, it makes you a little homesick. “Are you safe? Still have power and enough food?”
“Yes.” Your eyes dart to Taehyung, who is busy pulling what he needs from the cabinets near the sink. You swallow. “I’m safe. I’m going to look today to see if I can get another flight, but Mom, I think I’m gonna miss Christmas.”
Your mother has always been rather perceptive of your emotions, and you know this time is no different when, after a pause, she replies, “Don’t be sad, baby. It’s beyond your control and everything happens for a reason. We’ll just celebrate whenever you make it home.”
“I’m going to try to get another flight,” you repeat, and she just chuckles. “I’ll let you know.”
After promising to pass along the bad news to the rest of your family, your mother hangs up with a love you. You sigh, definitely a little forlorn. 
Taehyung shoots you a sympathetic look over his shoulder. “This will make you feel better,” he promises as he continues his quest. He doesn’t drink coffee, but he still always has a box of your favorite kind on hand and that’s what he gets brewing for you. “We’re honestly lucky we still have power,” he muses, pulling creamer out of the fridge as he waits for the Keurig to finish brewing your cup. “It’s cold as shit outside.”
“Yeah,” you murmur, still internally frazzled. This new development has thrown you completely for a loop. 
“What do you want for breakfast?” he asks, musing over fridge inventory. “I have half a pizza, eggs, kimchi, and that spray cheese in a can.” 
You grimace. “Why in the hell do you have spray cheese?”
“Because it’s lowkey fire at 2am and it’s good food to have in case of an apocalypse,” he replies, tone much too reasonable for someone who kept cans of spray cheese in their fridge. He gestures towards the window. “And would you look at that? Snowpocalypse. Aren’t you glad we have this spray cheese?”
You pretend to think, though you can’t help the chuckles that escape you at his ridiculous reasoning. “No, not really.”
It’s him who laughs this time, pouring creamer into the awaiting coffee mug and returning it to the refrigerator door. He stirs in two sweetener packets then casually hands the mug to you.
“Thanks. Okay, but seriously! How the hell are meteorologists so wrong all the time?” You take a sip, humming in approval when you find the coffee to be exactly how you like it. “I mean, I was too busy to check the weather yesterday, but I’ve been paying attention for the past few days and they always said the storm would hit later. How could they not have seen this coming?”
“It’s pretty embarrassing,” he agrees, moving to pull out his own mug. You see him pause in realization when his hand wraps around his newest favorite, the light bulb visibly turning on in his head. “Wait…is this how you knew?”
The mug’s gorgeous—covered in vibrant colors painted in distinct, yet abstract patterns. The signature on the side declares it to be a print of one of Kim Jungwoo’s newest works.  
You shrug, a small smile on your face. “I always see you drinking out of it so I just figured…”
“God, you’re amazing,” he says with a sigh, and you have to work very hard to control the elation building in your chest. To remind yourself not to take his words too seriously.
“I’m glad you think so.” You clear your throat. “Because looks like you’re stuck with me for a little bit.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.” Tae huffs out a laugh, sitting in the chair across from yours. 
You lift a brow. “Isn’t this fucking up your holiday plans too?”
He shrugs. “I was gonna drive back, but who knows when the roads will be clear and safe. In the meantime, this’ll be fun! We’ve got internet, tv, food—though actually? Should we start rationing? Who knows how long we’ll be stranded.”
“You’re asking whether we should start rationing your cheese in a can,” you deadpan.
“You know what? Since you clearly think you’re too good for it, no cheese for you.”
“I think I’ll live.” You see him hide his smile behind his mug, and you tamp down yours, too. “Anyway, I’m pretty sure I saw some pancake mix in your cabinet the other day. How about I make us some and you can spray your little cheese on it.”
“Sounds like a plan,” he replies, so straight-faced that for a horrifying moment, you have to contemplate whether he’s kidding or not. But Tae has always had a rather sarcastic brand of humor, so you just pray that this is a prime example of that.
It’s only when you stand up and feel the resulting breeze on your ass that you remember that, aside from the extra-large t-shirt you’re wearing, you’re entirely naked. Heat rises to your face when you see Tae’s gaze immediately flick down to the long stretch of your legs. It’s strange that you’re bashful at his obvious attention—it’s not like he hasn’t seen and touched everything under that shirt before; not like he’s not the source of the hickeys littering your skin. 
Still, it feels oddly intimate to hold his attention in such a manner now. To have him look for no other reason than to admire you.
“Let me put clothes on first,” you mutter, intensely aware of the way his eyes follow you out.
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Ultimately, today becomes one of the most relaxing Christmas Eves that you’ve ever had. After you shower and throw your clothes from the night before back on, the two of you have breakfast and then settle onto the living room couch for a wondrously lazy day of watching cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies and scrolling your social media. You attempt to find a new flight home for tomorrow, but flights are already full and you’re not surprised—everyone else is also fighting tooth and nail to rebook their flight. In any case, with the way snow is still being cleared all over the city, you’re not too sure it will be safe for planes to fly tomorrow, anyway. You’ll just have to stay on top of it and try again later. 
For a little while, your groupchat is active with conversation on everyone’s clear annoyance at travel plans being disrupted. But eventually, your friends all quiet and it’s just you and Taehyung again, eating leftover pizza and laughing at the wonderfully bad plots.
Before you realize it, it’s time for the two of you to call it a night, and it’s strange how easily you slot into place—like there’s a place for you to slot into. Strange how you wordlessly take the right side of the bed and him the left.
You almost offered to take the couch, but realized how ridiculous that was when Tae started to head to his bedroom and looked over his shoulder to make sure you were coming. You’ve shared the same bed as Taehyung before, obviously, but have never done so without also sharing your body. For that reason, it’s strange to watch him wash his face and brush his teeth, strange to see him don a rather pricey-looking pajama set, strange to slide in next to him under the sheets. 
It’s all so blatantly domestic that your heart hurts. That you want to lick a path across his collarbone to reestablish boundaries, to ground yourself in what this really is. 
That you want to close your eyes, want to bask in this simple feeling of belonging by his side for as long as you’re allowed.   
You turn off the lamp next to you. You both shuffle in the darkness, getting comfortable.
“Goodnight,” Taehyung whispers, voice a lot closer than you thought it would be.
You turn over to face him. Give yourself one second to pretend, one second to look at the shadowed shape of him in the dark. You close your eyes.
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You wake up the next morning with arms wrapped around you, lips resting in the crook of your neck. This doesn’t surprise you—Taehyung has always been a cuddler. Still, he’s never cuddled up to you without sex being involved, so you are a bit caught off guard.
He must just like to sleep like this, you tell yourself. You won’t lie and say you don’t enjoy it too—it’s nice and warm in your little blanket cocoon, the weight of his body near you, on you strangely comforting. You’re awake but you don’t get up, content to stay in this quiet, safe limbo.
Eventually, Taehyung stirs. So do you, jolted out of your trance and slipping away from him before he has the chance to see any expression on your face that it’s far too early to mask.  
You use the restroom and brush your teeth with the toothbrush that has been designated as yours. (One morning after, you had complained of morning breath; the next time you slept over, it was already waiting for you in a drawer.) Your eyes idly roam your reflection as you press the bristles against your teeth in practiced small circles. Your hair, previously thrown into a quick bun, has been tousled in sleep, and you’re wearing Tae’s t-shirt again because you didn’t have anything else to sleep in. 
You spit into the sink and crack open the door. “Taehyung.” 
It takes long enough for you to rinse your mouth of foam for him to respond. “Hmm?”
“I don’t have any clothes.”
“You can borrow some of mine,” he replies, and his voice is gruff and muffled, like his face is still pressed into a pillow. It probably still is.
But despite what you anticipate when you reenter his bedroom, Taehyung is already out of bed and rooting around in his dresser. He reflexively glances at you when you appear in the doorway, eyes squinting in protest against the sunlight streaming through the window. His face is still puffy with sleep and his hair is even more disheveled than yours, sticking up in all directions. You’re extremely endeared.
“Thank you,” you say gratefully when he hands you another t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants. Your hand rises before you think about it, fingers raking against his scalp as you smooth his rebellious hair back into place.
Taehyung freezes, suddenly looking a lot more awake. He stares at you, and it’s only after a few moments of this that you realize exactly what you’re doing. 
You snatch your hand back, awkwardly clearing your throat. “Um. Merry Christmas.”
A small smile creeps onto his face. “Merry Christmas, _____.”
Flustered, you gather the clothes close to your chest and return to the bathroom to change.
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You’re in the living room, sipping on your coffee and waiting for the news to come back from commercial, when your phone vibrates.
Text message (now)
Your brows furrow in confusion. Taehyung is currently in the kitchen, having decided that it’s his turn to scrounge up some breakfast for the two of you since you cooked yesterday. Why is he texting you when you can hear him just fine from here?
Perplexed, you unlock the screen.
[10:15] Taehyung how do you like your eggs?
[10:15] Taehyung Fried or fertilized
You bite your lip, swallowing the laugh building in your chest. Because you certainly don’t want to encourage his ridiculousness.
“Stop trying to sext me,” you say loudly from your spot on the sofa. “I don’t need this right now.”
“Oh come on, _____. It’s a serious question,” you hear him call back. ”Don’t be like that!”
“Taehyung, I’m trying to see how long we’re gonna be trapped here. Can you be serious?”
He pops his head through the doorway, a clear pout on his face. “I am serious.” 
You struggle not to break, pretending to be too engrossed in the updated weather report to notice the way he makes his way over to you. You definitely should be engrossed in the weather report—it’s the reason you’re watching the news in the first place—but you can’t help but have your focus stray elsewhere when Tae slowly drops one knee. The other.
Your heart rate speeds up, but you pretend to be unaffected. Pretend that you haven’t long-abandoned the local news, that you’re not hyper-aware of him and everything he’s doing. He’s blocking your view of the tv, so you pointedly lean to the side to see around him, lips pursed in an attempt to tamp down your amusement.
A few moments of nothing, of you both pretending you’re not hyper-aware of each other’s proximity. 
Then, he makes his move.
His hands start on your knees, large and warm and shooting rippling sparks across your body. Still, you focus on not reacting. The weatherman is finally on tv, gesturing to the green screen map, but though he’s talking, you hear none of it, much too interested in the circles Taehyung’s thumbs are rubbing into the fabric of your sweatpants. (His sweatpants, big enough that you had to roll them over twice at the waist in order make them fit.) You’re able to keep up your apathetic charade until his hands inch higher, start rubbing further inward. 
Your eyes snap to his. There’s an amused smirk touching his lips, but his eyes—you’ve seen that look in them before. It makes you reflexively swallow. “Really, Tae? I’m watching tv.”
“You don’t even have to do anything,” he wheedles, fingers hooking into your waistband. “Just pretend like I’m not even here.”
You give him a look, but don’t stop him when he starts to pull them down. Simply lift your hips a little to help him slip them off.
You didn’t have any clean underwear, so when the pants are tossed uncaringly to the ground, there is nothing to hide you from Taehyung’s feasting eyes. And feast he does, gently pushing your legs apart and immediately zeroing in on your naked sex, a distracted tongue swiping across his lips.
You hadn’t bothered to put a bra on this morning and now you regret it, your nipples proudly and visibly straining the material of your t-shirt and betraying your excitement. Though you suppose it doesn’t matter when he trails lazy, open-mouthed kisses up one of your legs, hands grabbing you by the ass and scooting you forward and closer to his mouth. His unhurried tongue playfully dragging through the crease where your thigh ends and your pussy begins.
“Taehyung,” you breathe, though you don’t really have anything to say. Tae seems to understand this, simply replying with a rather sweet kiss on your inner thigh before turning his head and going for the prize. You can’t help but let out a sigh at the contact, the familiar feeling of his mouth on you so warm and wet and good.
He takes his time, licking a wide stripe up your lips and idly circling your clit and making your indifferent facade immediately and abruptly drop. It is much too hard to keep it up when he’s eating you like you’re the best thing he’s ever tasted, like you’re something he wants to savor. And in any case, your body quickly betrays you, twitching after every bold flick of his tongue. Not to mention that the longer he keeps going, the wider your legs part for him. The more your back starts to slide down the couch, pushing further into his face. 
Taehyung hums in approval, simply slinging your legs over his shoulder so he can get as close as possible. A moan escapes your lips before you can swallow it, a hand rooting itself in his dark curls. Wordlessly saying what you don’t. Don’t stop, oh, god, please don’t stop.
And at that point, something seems to snap in him. While before you were something to savor, now, Taehyung devours you, flat out going to town. Wet slurping quickly overtakes the sound of tv, only rivaled by your increasingly erratic breathing and the moans you can no longer keep at bay. 
Your hips reflexively try to rise, but he keeps a firm hand on your thigh to hold you in place while he wraps his lips around your clit and sucks, looking you in the eye the entire time. You whine, rapidly coming undone, and he only responds by reaching up to roughly twist one of your nipples while he tongue-fucks you. That only makes you louder, only makes you sound more desperate. Only makes your eyes roll back in your head.
There’s no stopping it now—you’re past the point of no return, past all sense. You have tunnel-vision, mouth slack, every atom in your being screaming to be pushed off that final euphoric cliff, and that’s all you can think about. All you can focus on. You ride his face, hips grinding down hard and fingers tightening in his hair, holding him to you. 
But Taehyung clearly has no intention of going anywhere, eyes fluttering shut in pleasure every few seconds, little satisfied whimpers escaping him every time you tug a bit too hard. And when your thighs finally trap his head between them, the intense orgasm making your back bow, he moans right along with you, greedily lapping up the fruits of his efforts.
As is usually the case, you have to push him away from you. Taehyung has always been utterly at home between your thighs, has always been honored to receive every drop you’re willing gift him. He would be there all day if you let him, but you’re too winded and sensitive for that right now, so he reluctantly pulls back. 
Looking at him now, it almost looks like he was the one that was fucked out, not you. His hair is a mess again, eyes completely blown as they look at you. And, most telling, there’s a visible sheen on his face from his nose all the way down his chin that he pays no attention to, more focused on licking the remnants of you from his swollen lips.
You struggle to form words, the powerful orgasm he had coaxed from you rendering you drowsy and boneless. “W-wha…why—”
“’Tis the season!” he replies simply with a boxy grin. “Merry Christmas, babe.”
You stare at him, baffled, but Taehyung only pats you on the knee before standing up. 
“Okay, but seriously, how do you like your eggs? Because the only other thing I know how to make is cereal, but I don’t have any milk, so if that’s what you want, you’ll have to eat it dry.”
Your feel like that one confused lady meme, brain shuffling through any and all mathematical equations that could help you solve the question he asked you.  His cock is blatantly hard now and he’s not trying to hide it, but he also seems uninterested in doing anything about it. “…scrambled is fine.”
With an enthusiastic thumbs up, he leaves you there, puffy and slick, thighs still twitching.
You eat your eggs together on the couch, Taehyung shoveling his into his mouth like he didn’t just get done trying to suck your soul out through your pussy. The rest of your Christmas is spent bundled up under a shared blanket, sipping on hot cocoa and watching all the claymation Christmas movies that come on tv.
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For the past two days, the streets have been a mess and trains unavailable. But when you wake up this morning, peeling yourself away from the unfamiliar scratch of Tae’s emerging stubble, everything seems to be back to normal. You can hear cars honking outside, can hear the scrape of shovels against concrete as people try to remove the last remanants of the storm.
A glance at the unread messages in your groupchat only confirms your suspicions. Your friends have all successfully secured methods of leaving the city and are in various stages of heading back home. But you? You’re quickly reminded of how annoying it is when supply doesn’t meet demand. With everyone and their mother fighting to rebook their abruptly cancelled plans, the earliest available ticket that is also in your budget won’t even have you flying out until right before New Year’s. And seeing as you have to work on the 2nd, there is absolutely no point in spending the money only to come right back.
Disappointed, you sit at the kitchen table and you give your mom a call to deliver the news. She completely understands, of course, not wanting you to spend more money either.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that you don’t care if I come at all,” you tease, eyes flicking to the doorway at sudden movement. It’s Taehyung, wearing a pair of glasses and still in his pajamas. When he sees you’re on the phone, he gives you a silent wave, mouth stretching wide into a yawn as he dutifully searches for your mugs.
“Now, you know that’s not true,” your mother laughs. “You’re my baby and I miss you. I’m sorry you had to spend Christmas all alone.”
Your heart pings at that sentiment, but your gaze can’t help but drift towards Tae, who has his back to you. He’s making you coffee, as has now apparently become your routine. 
It’s bizarre that the word routine can even be used at all in relation to the two of you, at all—bizarre and mildly alarming. He makes you coffee and you bicker over what to watch on tv and you’re little spoon and you have an unspoken side of the bed. Just three days locked in an apartment together and things have become…comfortable.
You swallow, looking away. There is another word for this that you don’t dare utter, that you don’t dare to linger on. Because you don’t want to start seeing things where there are none.
You don’t want to convince yourself that this is something more than it is.
“Christmas alone wasn’t that bad,” you say. Tae’s hand, reaching for a spoon, pauses for just a second before his fingers wrap around it. You clear your throat. “Mostly just watched tv. But how about I try to come home sometime in the spring? Maybe for your birthday?”
Your mother is excited about this plan, just as you thought she would be. The two of you hang up just as Taehyung sets your mug in front of you.
“Thanks. Those are new,” you say, pointing to his glasses. He’s worn glasses before, of course, but they’ve always been more of a fashion statement. This pair is wire-rimmed and markedly dorky. They’re endearing and you love them.
He rubs the back his neck, embarrassed. “I ran out of contacts.”
“Don’t worry. I think they’re cute,” you grin, reaching over to give them a cheeky tap. “But lucky for you, it looks like we’re finally free to blow this joint—all snow has been cleared.”
“Really?” You’re not sure why he sounds so surprised. He had to have known that the snow wouldn’t last forever.
“Yup. So you won’t have to deal with me for much longer. I can get out of your hair.”
He takes a sip from his mug as he ponders that. “Where are you going to go?”
You puff out a laugh at the question. “Um, home? You know, my apartment?”
“Well, I’m the only one who lives there, so I would imagine so.” Your brows furrow in confusion. “Tae, what’s up with you?”
“It’s just…I’ve been thinking.” His fingers absentmindedly tap on the table as he mulls over his words. “You’re gonna be alone during the holidays. I’m gonna be alone during the holidays. So why don’t we just be alone together?”
You blink, brain slow to grasp his words. “You mean we should keep meeting up?”
“We could.” He shifts in his seat. “Or, we could just cut out all the in-between and you can just keep staying here.”
Well, you definitely didn’t see that coming. Your face must betray your surprise, because Taehyung is quick to try again. “Or we could stay at your place! Just a suggestion! I just figured it would be easier.”
You’re stunned silent, and it takes a few moments to find your voice. “You’re not sick of me yet?” you ask, bewildered.
“I could never get sick of you, _____,” he says, kind of shy, and it makes your chest warm, warm.
Remember what this is, you remind yourself, inwardly shaking off any delusional thoughts before they can take root. “…This is because you’re horny and you want easy access, isn’t it.” 
But Taehyung scoffs, an irritated pinch to his brow. “I mean, I also just enjoy hanging out with you, but if you don’t want to, I get it.”
“No! No, I want to, Tae. I’m just surprised.” He meets your gaze then, expression softening a little. “I just have to go pick up some stuff from my apartment.”
“And I should stop at the grocery store so that we have other things to eat than apocalypse cheese,” he muses aloud.
The two of you end up going together. First stop is your apartment, where you take a shower and throw on the first clean clothes that have actually belonged to you in days. Taehyung waits for you, casually scrolling his phone as you go about packing a bag. 
This is weird. Nowhere near normal and Tae is acting like it is, like you pack bags all the time with the express purpose of staying with him, in his place, in his bed. You feel like some sort of invisible line is being toed, but maybe it’s not. Maybe you’re just hypersensitive because you’re afraid you’ll get too comfortable with this new arrangement and open your big mouth and just flat out ruin everything. 
So with that in mind, you say nothing as you toss in twice as much underwear than you could possibly need (can never be too careful) and a couple pairs of pants. You slip on your much needed winter boots and then you’re off to get groceries.
The two of you chat as you peruse the aisles, Tae dutifully pushing the cart while you contemplate what items you’ll need for dinner tonight. You chat while you carry the bags the few blocks to Tae’s apartment. You chat while you start a new tv series together, while you prepare dinner together and while you eat it together. And on the surface, everything is nice and easy, like it always is when it comes to Tae. You’re alone and so is he, so you should be together. One plus one equals two.  
But Taehyung’s wide smile makes the forbidden thing in you build and build, grow and grow. 
You smile back, and you say nothing. 
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“You know what we should do today?” Taehyung asks. He’s just hopped out of the shower and his hair is wet, loose waves dripping dark spots into the material of his t-shirt.
You look up from your bowl of cereal, but you don’t stop chewing. You watch a bead of water trail down his neck and have to hold yourself back from leaning over to lick it up. “What?”
“We should go see that exhibit.”
It takes a second for your brain, always sluggish in the morning, to catch on to what he’s saying. “You mean your Christmas gift?”
“Yeah.” He’s excited, eyes practically disappearing with the force of his wide and boxy smile. Like a child on Christmas morning. “Let’s go!” 
“Tae, you don’t have to go with me, you know,” you point out. “It’s your gift. You can use those tickets on whoever you want.”
He snorts, like what you said was ridiculous. “And I want to use them on you. And since it’s my gift, you can’t say no.”
This time, it’s you who smiles. “Can’t argue with that.”
So after a change of clothes, it’s to the industrial building serving as an art gallery you go. A quick call to your cousin ensures that tickets are waiting for you at the front desk, and Taehyung’s smile doesn’t leave the whole way there.
There are a good amount of people already in the allotted space when you enter, only confirming to you that this is most definitely an exhibit you should be seeing while you can. While you can certainly appreciate it, you’re not really into art like Taehyung is. Kim Jungwoo’s work, however, catches your attention immediately. You realize after setting eyes on the first piece that Jungwoo’s art is truly something that should be experienced firsthand—it doesn’t take long to see that the print on the mug Taehyung uses every day doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing. Everything skews a bit abstract, but the coloring of each piece, the length of each and every brushstroke, somehow makes you feel. 
You weren’t expecting this reaction, so you take your time scanning each each piece, simply marinating in whatever emotions come. Tae does the same, so, naturally, your paths diverge and reconnect as you go along, a dance of push and pull.
It’s only when you cross him again at one of the last pieces that the two of you have your first real conversation.
“These are gorgeous,” you offer, touching his arm to get his attention. Your voice is soft, not wanting to disturb the introspective quiet of the room. 
“Mmm.” Taehyung looks down at you, then back to the painting. His brow pinches a little as he mulls over it, full of curling shades of gray. You think him so deep in thought that it almost startles you when he speaks again. “I really like this one. Were there any in particular that spoke to you?”
It only takes you a second to respond. “That one,” you say, pointing to one of the first paintings. Wordlessly, he makes his way back to it, and you follow, trying to put into words why you like it so much. “I don’t know, it just feels very layered? Like, the title is Contentment. But the colors chosen feel the complete opposite—there is a lot of red and black, and those are really bold, you know? Colors we usually associate with powerful things. Intense, uncontrollable. And so it makes me feel like he’s lying, either to us, his intended audience, or to himself. How can he be content when there’s clearly something brewing beneath the surface? Consuming him from the inside out?”
He nods slowly as you speak, considering your interpretation of the canvas. “You’re right,” he says finally. “It does feel like there’s a lot being unsaid.” A few moments pass, where you both simply look at painting, quiet. Then, he turns back to you, expression unreadable. “Thank you. For being here with me.”
Your breath catches in your throat at the unnamed intensity in his gaze. You aren’t sure what to say. “Of course,” you say reflexively. And that is enough.
After a few more minutes of browsing, the two of you decide to leave. The piece Tae had been entranced by is close to the exit, and you give it another casual glance as you walk by.
Longing, the placard says. You turn away.
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The sun is deceivingly bright outside—when looking out the window, it appears to be a beautiful winter day. But as soon as you exit the building, you’re assaulted by the rather frigid air, passersby huddling beneath their coats and walking briskly to keep warm.
Taehyung shuffles further into his winter coat as well, breath puffing out in visible bursts. He looks ridiculously handsome against the snowy city backdrop, a natural model for a men’s cologne ad. His long coat is fashionable and heavy, but from the way he’s stuffing his hands in his pockets, apparently not heavy enough.
“Fuck it’s cold,” he says, and you feel that sentiment in your bones. Literally.
“You’re the one who wanted to go outside,” you remind him, teeth chattering as the two of you hustle the few blocks to the restaurant you’ve chosen for lunch. Your hood is up, but you regret not bringing a hat too. “I was perfectly content to keep marathoning The Good Place.”
He laughs, an arm casually sliding over your shoulder and pulling you into his side so you can share body heat. And this is better. A little bit.
“Don’t be like that,” Taehyung chastises. “It’s Christmas.”
“Taehyung, it is not Christmas.”
“Christmas is a feeling, _____.”
“It’s also a date on the calendar. That has now passed.”
Taehyung tuts, opening the restaurant door for you. The warmth from inside spills out, and you both sigh in relief, rubbing your hands together as the hostess leads you to your table by the window. Luckily, said window appears to be insulated well, because you feel no breeze when you start to peel off your layers. “If it’s not Christmas,” Taehyung continues cheekily, head tilting towards the window. “How do you explain that?”
Amused, you follow his line of sight across the street, where a man in a lot is standing next to a big sign that says Christmas Trees.
“Oh my god, are they seriously still selling Christmas trees?” you snort incredulously, attention moving back to your menu. “Who the hell is still buying them? And honestly, with how rough those trees look, that guy should be paying you to take one.”
“We should get one.”
You laugh, trying to decide what kind of soup you want to come with your sandwich. But Tae’s laugh doesn’t follow, and, wary of his silence, you glance back up. There is a suspicious glint in his eyes, a quirk of his lips that you don’t trust. “…Wait a minute,” you say. “Are you serious?”
“Taehyung, why do you want to purchase a raggedy-ass Christmas tree?”
“They’re not that raggedy, and because Christmas was stolen from us this year.”
“They’re raggedy. You and I both know they’re raggedy.”
“_____,” he says tone more serious than you’re anticipating for such a silly conversation. “You were really looking forward to the holidays. And I know it’s obviously not the same, but there’s no reason we can’t celebrate now.”
That throws you for a loop. Yes, you’ve been pretty content over these past few days, but you have also been a little bummed that the snowstorm snatched your holiday plans away from you. You hadn’t realized Tae has been watching you that closely, and it makes your chest warm to know he has.
“…Okay, fine,” you say, hiding your growing smile behind your menu. “We can go get your tree.”
Taehyung hoots in victory and you shush him, though you don’t really mean it. 
After you eat lunch and pay, you dutifully bundle back up and follow him to the Christmas tree lot across the street, where the guy selling them is thrilled to see potential customers. He tells you that all trees are 75% off, which doesn’t surprise you, seeing as the holiday has already passed and the demand for his product has gone way down. Still, looking at his inventory, you personally think even that amount is too much.
You can’t help but voice your concerns. “Taehyung, Charlie Brown’s tree looked better than any of these.” The vendor shoots you a dirty look, but you don’t care. These trees are busted. Clearly, the winter storm had not been kind to them.
“Doesn’t matter,” Tae says cheerfully, walking slowly so he can inspect each one. “We can fill it in with a lot of clearance ornaments.”
“Wow, you’re really going all out, huh?” you tease.  
He scoffs, turning his head to throw you a pointed look. “Obviously. It’s Christmas.”
“It’s not Christmas.”
“We have already discussed this! It is Chris—”
You’re not quite sure what happens. One second he is playfully arguing with you, the next he disappears from view, swept entirely off his feet. You startle at the flurry of movement, bewildered when you realize that he’s now on the ground, limbs askew. “Oh my god, Tae! Are you okay?”
Taehyung winces, speckled with wayward snow. “Ow! I think I broke it,” he groans as you scramble to help him up.
“Broke what?” you ask as he stands, giving him a panicked scan for injury. 
He answers by rubbing his behind, no doubt bruised. “Kiss it better?”
You roll your eyes, unamused, but happy he’s not actually hurt. “I’m not kissing your ass,” you snort, reaching over to brush the snow off it anyway. “And to be honest, you can kiss mine for even asking me to.”
He nods. “Later,” he says, and it sounds suspiciously like a promise. The way he’s grinning does not bode well for you.
For the sake of time, you both agree that Tae will choose the tree and you will choose the ornaments, so you leave him to quickly pop into a nearby store to grab a bunch of ornaments and string lights from the sale bin. When you return, you find that the tree Taehyung has chosen is as tall as he is, but spindly, and, frankly, pretty sad. 
“He tacked on even more of a discount,” Tae informs you cheerfully. “I think he’s worried I’ll sue him.”
“You should,” you mutter under your breath. “For having the audacity to sell you that tree.” You frown, mentally trying to figure out the logistics. “Taehyung, should we go get your car?”
“Nah. I can just carry it.”
Your eyebrows raise. “We can’t get on the train with this. You’re really gonna carry it for six blocks?”
He lifts it, testing its weight. “It’s not that far,” he decides. “And my pride is at stake.”
“What pride?” you reply incredulously. “You literally just busted your ass five minutes ago!”
“That’s exactly why it’s at stake,” he insists, and the branches of the tree are so sparse, you can see him pouting through them. “And you know the only reason I fell is that they didn’t salt the ground and it’s slippery.”
You have bite your lip to stop yourself from laughing, not wanting to hurt his feelings. “Whatever you say, mountain man. Go ahead and carry your tree.”
“I will,” he snarks back. 
And so he does. For six blocks, you trail behind him as he lugs around a forty-pound evergreen that is very visibly on its last leg. You would argue that Tae is on his last leg too, with the way he huffs and puffs and repeatedly tries to rearrange it in his arms so the needles aren’t sticking him in the face.
“Need help?” you offer, amused.
His response is quick and irritated. “No.”
You roll your eyes. Men. If he wants to struggle to simply to prove a point, that’s on him. You were just gonna carry your ornament bag and make sure he didn’t get hit by any cars.
Finally, finally, the two of you make it to Tae’s apartment building. Into the small elevator you go, Tae resting some of the weight of the tree against a wall. Surprisingly, you almost make it all the way home without inconveniencing anyone else, but the elevator doors end up opening halfway up. (You get a weird look from the person on the other side, who wisely chooses to just catch the next one.) And by the time Taehyung is dumping the tree on his living room floor, he’s thoroughly winded.
“See?” he gasps out. “Easy.”
You can’t help the snort that escapes you this time. “Oh Tae~,” you tease, batting your eyelashes. “You’re so big and strong.”
He’s leaning over, hands on his knees as he catches his breath. “Damn straight.”
The two of you get to work decorating your sad tree, and it’s nice. Really nice, especially when he pours you glasses of wine to sip while you work, Nat King Cole crooning in the background. Slowly but surely, the tree starts to come together, and while it may not be the most stunning to most people, it is to you.
It is to you.
It’s when you’re completely done, the two of you sipping on your third-ish glasses of wine while admiring your hard work, that Taehyung pulls out his next bout of holiday cheer.
You frown at the random leaves he’s holding over your head, confused. “…Is that cilantro?” 
“Does this look like cilantro to you?” he asks, and he sounds kind of hesitant for some reason. Shy.
“Obviously it does, or I wouldn’t have asked.” You smile, willing to go along with his antics, just like you always are. “Are we having tacos for dinner? I don’t think you have any tortillas.”
“No, you dummy,” he replies, huffing out a laugh. “This is clearly mistletoe and we are clearly standing under it.”
Oh. Oh. You swallow, flustered by this new development. “We’re actually sitting right now, so who’s truly the dummy here?”
“Are you really going to argue with me? Standing, sitting, it’s all covered under mistletoe law.”
“Mistletoe law,” you deadpan.
“_____. It’s Christmas. You can’t ignore a Christmas tradition on Christmas.”
“I don’t know how many times I have to tell you this, Kim. It’s not Christmas.”
He gestures to the Christmas tree the two of you have just finished putting up. “We’ve already agreed that today is Christmas, so it is.  Do you really wanna anger the mistletoe gods?”
You laugh, endeared by his persistence. “No,” you agree softly. “Can’t have that.”
Even though he finally has your cooperation, Taehyung hesitates before he leans in, dark eyes reflecting the Christmas lights like he has stars in them, has the whole universe. 
And to you, he does.
He’s kissed you before, of course. Many, many times. But never without sex being the ultimate destination, and the press of his lips against yours now, with no other motive than to bask in you, rapidly throws you into a tailspin. It’s soft and strangely a bit timid and you can taste the wine on his breath, but you don’t care in the slightest because right now, the man with stars in his eyes is focused on you. You, you, you. 
There’s a feeling crawling up your throat, one you aren’t sure what to do with. It simmers and simmers, even after Tae pulls away from you, face flushed. Panicked, you lean back in, desperately licking his mouth open. He’s noticeably surprised, but follows your lead easily, like he always does. Kissing you back with just as much fervor. Grunting when you swing a leg over his lap, when your hand finds its way in his pants.
And you’re grateful. Grateful, because one more second of him looking at you like that and you’re going to cry. Going to flat out explode, and who knows if the resulting fragments of you will be salvageable. But it’s okay. Because when you’re doing this, when you’re busy riding his cock until he fucks you blind and it’s hard to breathe, it’s easy to forget.
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But there’s only so long pressure can build. Only so long it can be trapped, can be pushed down and ignored. It doesn’t take long for you to learn this the hard way.
The next day, you’re lounging around the apartment, today being declared lazy after all the excitement of the day before. You’re on the one of the last episodes of The Good Place and Tae made you pause it while he’s in the kitchen, fetching you both more snacks. 
And it is at this unassuming point in time that everything goes to shit.
An insistent buzzing has you reflexively searching your surroundings for the source, and it doesn’t take long for you to realize it’s Tae’s phone.
“Taehyung,” you yell, not bothering to move a muscle from your cozy blanket cocoon. Tae may have willingly left it seconds before, but you saw zero reasons for you to do the same. “Your phone is ringing!”
You hear him opening and shutting a drawer. “Who is it?”
You sigh, mustering up the will and energy to lean over and scrabble around the coffee table. When your fingers wrap around the vibrating pest, you listlessly bring it closer to your face.
Incoming call
The blood in your veins instantly runs ice cold. You stare at the screen, the words flashing across it quickly losing meaning as the phone continues to ring. Woodenly, you stand, blanket falling from your form like the afterthought it is.
Taehyung looks over his shoulder when he hears you enter the kitchen, a smile lacing his lips in greeting. But that smile soon falls, eyebrows pinching in confusion at whatever he must see on your face. He reflexively takes the phone you hold out to him, but one glance at the screen has his eyes snapping back to yours. His lips part.
“I think I should go,” you say quietly. There’s a burning behind your eyes but you blink it back into submission and turn to go gather your things.
“Wait.” There’s an edge of urgency to the word, a sense of rising panic. But you pay it no mind, hurrying to the bedroom to get your bag.
You’ve been stupid to forget—blatantly foolish and willfully obtuse. You’re a placeholder, and no amount of playing house will ever change that. Absolutely no different than what Alexa is to Hoseok, simply someone there to entertain him and warm his bed. Though, you suppose, you are different than Alexa. At the very least, Hoseok claims her, for however long he decides to do so. At least she has that.
“Wait,” Taehyung says again, and you’re not listening, too busy throwing one of your errant shirts back into the bag. He grabs you by the arm and you stop, frozen. “Wait.”
“What are we doing, Taehyung?” you whisper. 
“What do you mean?” He’s trying to catch your eye, trying to make you look at him. “Baby, I need you talk to me. What do you mean?”
“This.” You gesture wildly at nothing, at everything. Let out a shuddery breath. “This. What are we doing?”
“What we’ve always done,” he insists. His voice is getting louder, more distressed. “What’s the problem?”
Your head whips up, finally meeting his eye. “Stop pretending you’re dumb.” You’re tired, oh so tired. “Because we both know you’re not.”
That must be the wrong thing to say—the panic in his face steels out, his eyes daggers. “Why are you even upset?” he says cooly. “I don’t see how it matters.”
Flames lick up your throat. Flames that have been there for months. Flames that you’ve ignored, even as they slowly smothered you with smoke. “Maybe,” you say lowly. Carefully. The word rolling bitterly on your tongue. “I don’t want to be around when you’re fucking other people.”
And there it is. The truth that has been hovering between you all this time, practically a third party in your fucked up excuse of a relationship.
For a second, your truth renders Taehyung mute. His jaw drops slightly, head tilting in unspoken question. Gone is his carefully-neutral expression—in its place, blatant indignation reigns. “It’s never bothered you before.”
If only he knew. If only he knew how hard you’ve worked to turn a blind eye, to keep up your charade. You don’t want to hear any more. “This was a mistake,” you say quietly, and his face crumples. “This was all a mistake, and I think I should go before either of us says something that we’ll regret.”
Your attempt at diffusing the situation only seems to make him more mad. He’s shaking his head. No no no. “Don’t do that,” he growls. “Don’t play games with me, _____.”
“Don’t do what?” you snap. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“You know damn well I’m in love with you!” He’s shouting now, but his voice is starting to crack. “Don’t do that.”
“Stop it.” Someone’s breathing is audible, and through the blood pumping in your ears, you can’t discern whether it’s him or you. Probably both. “Stop playing dumb. There’s no way you don’t know.”
“What?” A broken record. You sound like a broken record, but you have no idea how to stop. No idea how else you can possibly respond.
“The only reason I even started seeing her is because you didn’t want me!” he yells. 
Your brain whirrs, way too much information at once. “When did I ever say that?”
“You didn’t have to say it!” he spits, and now you’re crying. You don’t realize it, too caught up in the moment, but you definitely are, tears silently trekking down your face as you try to comprehend how in the hell you both got here. “You don’t have to say it, because you make it perfectly clear that this is all you want from me. And at first, I was more than happy to give it to you. But the more I have you, the more I want you. I want all of you, even if you’re only interested in certain pieces of me.” His breath is coming out too fast. He’s crying too. “I love you, and you insist that I hide it and pretend that I don’t!”
You’re stunned, struck completely dumb. Absolutely floored, flabbergasted.
“But if you want to leave, then fine.” He’s much quieter now, subdued. He sniffs, angrily wipes a hand across his face. “It’s probably for the best.”
But now, leaving is the furthest thing from your mind. Your brain is finally caching up, finally processing everything that he’s just said. 
“Say it again,” you finally reply, voice small. “I need to hear you say it again.”
“What?” he huffs. “That I want you?”
“No. How do you feel about me, Taehyung?” You’re moving closer to him, steps slow, slow, approaching not unlike you would a spooked animal. “I need to hear you say it again.”
His brows furrow. “I love you,” he repeats, the words full of irritation.
But that’s all you need to hear. The final shackle shattering, the last thing holding you back no more. Your hands find purchase in his shoulders, and though he eyes you warily, he doesn’t stop you when you rise on your toes and press your lips against his cheek.
“Again,” you murmur, hands drifting, fingers trailing into his hair. “Tell me again.”
His eyelashes flutter, distracted by the kiss you place on the underside of his jaw. “I love you.”
Unhurried, you adorn his skin with proof of your own devotion, kissing him every time he says it and even when he doesn’t. It’s only when he finally pulls back a little, a blatant question in his gaze, that you set free the words you’ve refused to utter.
“I love you too, you dummy.” 
That’s the cue he’s been waiting forever and ever for, and unlike you, he only needs to hear it once. Taehyung gently takes your overnight bag from your hands and tosses it uncaringly to the side. Despite his tender actions, the way he’s looking at you tells a completely different story.
He looks at you like you’re a delectable meal and he’s starving. Like he’s one sudden move from devouring you whole. 
And it sets everything in you alight.
His hands find your hips, then your ass, working the flesh as he kisses you, as he stumbles you towards his bed. And yours are just as frantic, utterly impatient in their quest to yank down his zipper and grip him through his underwear.
He lets you. Bucks into your hand until he’s nice and whiny and desperate. “Please,” he whimpers against your neck, whole body shuddering when you press a thumb into his slit. “Please let me inside you. Please let me feel you.”
“Shhh.” You shush him, catching his bottom lip in your teeth. You will never deny him, and he has to feel it. He has to know. “Always.”
But you can read between the lines, can understand exactly what he’s asking for. 
Know what he wants, what you both want.
Taehyung topples you both onto the bed, engulfs you with his body so that even if you tried to look anywhere else, he’s the only thing you can see. He kisses you and kisses you and kisses you. As if you’ll disappear the next time he blinks, as if he can’t get enough. He grinds his cock down hard against you, swallowing your gasps and working you both up to such a degree that you almost cum, just like that. Less than a minute, but you’ve been teetering on the edge for months, a bow taut and primed to snap.
The first push of him bare has you keening, has you scratching red marks down his back. And he’s no better, entire body vibrating and just flat out babbling when he finally feels the warm grip of you without a barrier. “So wet, feel so fucking good. So fucking good for me, baby, always so good.”
“Holy shit,” you gasp, desperately rocking your hips against his. Mouth slack as experience has him expertly hitting that spot inside you again and again that makes you see stars. “Oh my god—“
“So good, and mine. Mine,” he groans, and you’re not sure who he’s even talking to. He probably isn’t either, the velvet heat of you pulling words from his tongue, but after a particularly delicious thrust has you letting out a whine, you see the fog leave his eyes, just a little. Focus now entirely on you. “Whose pussy is this?” he asks, tone deceptively mild. But the way he’s circling his hips is understandably distracting, and when he realizes you’re already too fucked out to answer properly, he grabs you by the chin and leans his forehead against yours. Demands you answer him. “Who does this pussy belong to?” 
“You,” you pant out. “You. Yours. Always yours.” And as familiar as this all is, as many times as you’ve done these exact things over the months, it all feels achingly different this time. Somehow much more intense, somehow much more worshipful. 
Taehyung groans, his efforts doubling as his oncoming end has him starting to properly rail you deep into the mattress. Between his thumb pressing into your clit and his mouth laving attention across your neck, it doesn’t take long for you to be firmly pushed off the edge with a drawn-out moan, convulsing around him and easily dragging him with you. 
And, with two particularly rough thrusts that make the headboard rattle against the wall, he paints your insides a hot white.
You lay beneath him for a while, still contentedly stuffed full of him. Still gleefully receiving the kisses he hasn’t stopped peppering you with.
“There’s been no one else, you know,” he murmurs against your fevered skin. “Just you. Only you.”
Emotion blooms within you, seeping from your ribcage and trickling everywhere else. “And only you,” you say softly, his resulting smile so blinding and affectionate that you’re filled to the brim with love. Just completely overflowing with it, fighting the sudden burning behind your eyes. 
Tae doesn’t say anything, but he doesn’t have to. Just presses his lips into the few tears that escape and holds you in the quiet.
Your fingers dance down the damp skin of his back, idle, as if memorizing every bump of his spine. But the peaceful moment is broken when a chance brush of against one of his asscheeks has him letting out a yelp, jolting at the unexpected sting. 
You snort out a laugh, unbidden. There’s definitely going to be a bruise later.
“It’s not funny,” he insists, smiling despite himself. His smile only widens as you keep laughing, unable to stop once you started. “I warned you I broke it—hey! I’m suffering over here, it’s not funny!”
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The voicemail sits, completely and utterly forgotten for a couple days.
To be honest, you both are a bit too busy with other…activities to pay it any mind.
“Hey Tae, It’s Jisoo. Um, I was hoping to catch you because I really didn’t want to do this over text or anything. But, um, while I’ve had a good time getting to know you, I think it might be best if we go our separate ways. If I’m being honest, I’m getting the sense that you’re not really interested in building anything between us anyway, and, frankly, I don’t want to waste any more of our time. I hope you find what you’re looking for. Happy New Year.”
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“Run me my money,” Jungkook says calmly, and you blink, completely unprepared for that response.
You’re at Seokjin’s again, your group of friends gathered together to bring in the new year. For some reason, you had found yourself a little nervous for this moment, a little nervous to tell your friends about you and Tae. Well, nervous isn’t quite right—restless might be a better word. Excited and restless. You hadn’t been completely sure how they would react when you finally dropped the bomb, but now, as you watch the rest of your friends reluctantly but dutifully pull out their wallets, you know this definitely hadn’t been on your list of possibilities.
Your jaw drops at the audacity. “I know you motherfuckers did not just bet on me.”
“No, no,” Hoseok assures you, and you feel better for just a moment until he continues, “We bet on both of you.”
What? What?!
Your head whips towards Taehyung, but he’s busy popping a mini quiche into his mouth and looking more amused than anything else. As if he had fully expected some light New Year’s gambling regarding your relationship status to occur.
“We’ve all just been waiting for the two of you to crack,” Namjoon admits, sourly slapping a few bills into Jungkook’s hand. “But we thought it would happen next year.”
“Not me!” Jungkook says gleefully. “Pay up, buttercup!”
Yoongi grumbles under his breath, shaking his head at you. He glances at the clock and back, expression simply oozing disappointment. “You couldn’t have waited fifteen minutes?” he sighs.
“Excuse me?” you balk, blood pressure steadily rising.
Wisely, Taehyung steps in front of you before your dumb friends who you love very much can get you riled up enough to start throwing hands. He’s laughing, and it’s warm. It’s right. And when he leans down to kiss you before the ball drops and during and forever after, you don’t care one bit about the obnoxious clapping and hooting that results.  
Hell, if you weren’t so preoccupied, you’d clap for your own damn self. 
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collab masterlist | my masterlist
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lavishedinjimin · 3 months 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 ;)
1K notes · View notes
fantasybangtan · 8 months ago
something to hold on to (myg)
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❦ word count. 17.7k ❦ genre. parent fic, fluff, angst, a bit of boob action ❦ warnings. illness, mention of hospitalisation, mention of minor character death, yoongi is kind of a dick sometimes, accidental(?) flashing ❦ summary. it’s not that you don’t like your job. on the contrary, reading bedtime stories to a certified little princess is something you still can’t believe you get paid to do. it’s just that between all the school runs, snow days and secret second hot chocolates before bed, you may fallen a little too hard for those dimpled cheeks and gummy smiles.... worse still, you’ve fallen for her father too.  ❦ a/n. merry christmas everyone!! this fic is a collaboration with the wonderful @underthejoon​ @kpopfanfictrash​ @suga-kookiemonster​ @junghelioseok​ @bendthekneetobangtan​ @lamourche​ and @hobidreams​. it’s late, lame and cheesy (and probably under-edited) but I like it that way. I hope you’re all having a fantastic holiday, wherever you may be <3 
“...Can we talk?”
For the first time since blustering in through the front door, Yoongi actually stops to spare you a glance.
You’re standing in the entryway in a pair of high waisted jeans and a peach coloured blouse, hands clasped behind your back and a nervous expression on your face. If he notices your outfit is new, he doesn’t pass comment on it. He doesn’t mention the fact that you’re wearing makeup today either, nor that you seem to have taken a little more time with your hair than usual. Not that you’d expected him to. Your employer isn’t well known for giving compliments, much less understanding when a woman is trying to impress him. Yoongi probably wouldn’t recognise flirting if it hit him in the face with a brick. 
His face is impassive as ever when he drops his keys into the bowl with a shrug. “Sure. There’s actually something I wanted to discuss with you too.”
You nod, fiddling anxiously with his hands as he slips off the snow-smattered trench coat to reveal the suit jacket beneath. He looks tired this evening; more so than usual if the dark bags under his eyes are anything to go by. Even on his days off Yoongi works like a tank, often letting himself get so wrapped up in getting everything done he forgets to eat meals. It’s a coping strategy, of course - one that always tends to get a little out of hand when this time of year rolls around. 
Yoongi turns back to you, loosening the knot of his tie with a ringed finger. He raises his eyebrows.
You follow him through into the heart of the penthouse: a masterpiece of white granite and gold strip lights. The room is utterly spotless save for the mug of freshly-brewed tea that sits waiting on the island, steam spiralling upwards towards the vaulted ceiling. 
“Here,” you say, nudging it towards him. It’s a comfortable ritual between you at this point. Yoongi needs a hit of caffeine if he’s going to make it to dinner without taking his work stress out on whoever’s unfortunate enough to be in the room with him, but following a series of chest pains a few months ago, his doctor put a strict ban on drinking coffee past 7pm. Replacing the habit with a cup of white tea in the evening was your compromise. 
Yoongi takes it with a small nod of gratitude, lowering himself onto the bar stool. His eyes flutter closed for a moment when he takes a sip, and your chest feels warm inside when the tension visibly starts to drain from his shoulders. The man is always so tightly wound. It’s really no wonder he suffers from back pain, what with all the stress he carries around with him. You’ve been trying to convince him to see an osteopath, but Yoongi insists there’s only so much ‘voodoo medicine’ he can bring himself to splash out on per month, and the December quota was already filled by the VapoRub you made him buy for his blocked sinuses. 
He places the mug down with a quiet sigh. 
“How was she today?”
You snap out of your reverie, meeting his expectant gaze. 
“She was wonderful,” you say honestly. “Coach said he’s really proud of how hard she’s been practicing. Her toe double toe loop has come on leaps and bounds these past few weeks.”
Yoongi raises his eyebrows questioningly.
“The jumpy spinny thing,” you clarify.
“Ahh. So that’s what it’s called.”
A fond smile tugs at your lips. Though Yoongi never misses an opportunity to support his daughter on the ice, the ins-and-outs of the sport are often lost on him. Surprisingly, he’s far more adept at the hair and costume side of things than he is at giving his little girl feedback on her actual performances. Ever since the day her first ever coach had pulled him aside to tell him Dee had ‘a god given gift’ that needed to be nurtured, he’s much preferred to leave such things to the professionals. 
“So.” Yoongi laces his fingers atop the table. Though you remain standing, you can’t help but feel that you’ve entered in on one of his business meetings. He looks you up and down. “Do you want to go first or shall I?”
“Oh -” All at once the nerves return full-force, fluttering away in your stomach like a flock of migrating birds. You instinctively drop your gaze to the floor when you feel your neck heating up. “Y-you can start.”
Unsurprisingly, Yoongi doesn’t so much as bat an eyelid at your odd behaviour, and you wonder how on earth Mina thought you could do this. You wonder how you -believed- her. Holding a conversation with your employer without taking offense to his social tactlessness was hard enough, especially before you understood Yoongi’s deadpan honesty is something he genuinely doesn’t know how to reign in. But admitting you have feelings for him? 
That was a whole other kettle of fish.
“I got a call from Dee’s grandmother today,” he says, drawing your attention back to him once again.
You raise your eyebrows. “Oh?”
“Her grandpa’s been taken into hospital with a shattered hip.”
Your eyes go wide. “Oh my god, is he alright?!”
Yoongi waves off your concern, cringing slightly at the shrillness of your tone. “He’s totally fine. He underwent surgery last night and he’s stable,” he eyes you across the island. “...It does mean they won’t be able to have Dee for the run-up to Christmas though.”
As your panic ebbs, you think you catch a glimpse of something softer beneath Yoongi’s default unmoved expression. He’s not only tired, you realise, but exhausted, worn thin by the constant pressure he keeps himself under. It takes everything in you not to close the space between you and wrap your arms around him. You know he’ll only burn himself out if he carries on like this, and the thought makes your heart ache. 
“I know it’s a big ask,” he continues with a weary exhale, scrubbing a hand down his face, “but it’s too late to cancel on this work trip. Flights to Berlin are fully booked up until late January, and the company we’re doing business with has made it abundantly clear they plan to proceed with or without our input. I’d pay you overtime of course. Whatever works best for you. I just need someone to sit here for a few days and make sure my daughter doesn’t burn the apartment down while I’m gone.”
“Yoongi,” you say quietly, shushing him with a gentle hand atop his wrist. He stares down at the point of contact, and you hope to god he can’t hear the way your pulse is going crazy. “You know I’d be happy to do it.”
Tentatively, he meets your eyes. “Are you sure? Your family -”
“Can manage a few more days without me. Looking after Dee is never a burden. She’s…” you cut yourself off, unable to hold his gaze. “She’s the best thing in my life.”
It’s not a lie. But perhaps it’s only a half-truth. The other best thing is sitting right opposite you, after all. 
Yoongi has never been the type to smile much. He’s stoic and blunt, and doesn’t know when to loosen up when the time calls for it - but he never says anything he doesn’t mean. That’s why it makes your heart feel so full when he says a soft, “Thank you, Y/N. You’re really helping me out here.”
You extract your fingers from his wrist, suddenly too shy to maintain the proximity between you. 
“Don’t mention it,” you cough.
Completely oblivious, Yoongi picks up his mug again. “You wanted to talk to me about something too?”
“Oh, uh… well. I was just -” You scramble for the right words, your mind drawing a complete blank beneath the weight of his gaze. 
It wasn’t like you’d come unprepared. You’d planned this whole thing out with Mina over the weekend, even going so far as to roleplay the possible outcomes of your confession (a necessity when it comes to Yoongi, because the man has absolutely zero concept of letting someone down gently). You’d practiced exactly what you wanted to say several times over in the car before heading over to pick up Dee, and all the whole way back to the penthouse you were convinced you had it down pat. 
Right up until Yoongi walked through the door, that is.
With the air stolen from your lungs just looking at him, your confidence crumbles, and the fact that he’s clearly had a shit day doesn’t help any. The harder you will yourself to form a coherent sentence, the more your tongue refuses to do so. 
“I-It’s not important,” you manage eventually.
Yoongi quirks a sceptical eyebrow at you. “Are you sure?”
You pause, then jerk your chin in a nod. 
“I’m sure.”
Yoongi doesn’t push it. 
“Okay then.” He finishes off the last dregs of his tea and rises to a stand. “I’ll walk you to your car.”
“Oh, you really don’t have to -”
“I know I don’t.” He crosses over to the clothing hooks and grabs your jacket, holding it out to you. “Put this on. I need to check in on Dee first.”
Dazedly, there’s little else you can do but follow his instructions. It’s not an uncommon occurrence for Yoongi to see you through the parking lot outside his place, especially during the winter months when it’s dark out, but the gesture still never fails to make you giddy.
Next time, you say to yourself firmly when he returns, holding open the front door for you to slip out first. Next time, I’ll tell him.
Last Year
You slide your feet into your heeled boots, wincing at the way your toes pinch together inside. 
It’s a Saturday evening - one you’d normally spend watching curled up on the couch with a takeaway in your lap or running yourself a nice hot bath, had Mina not spent the better half of the week trying to convince you to go on a date with the IT guy from her office - and between running slightly late and the shot of Dutch courage you definitely shouldn’t have taken ten minutes ago, your stomach feels like it’s tying itself up in knots. 
“You need to get out more,” your friend insists. “It’s been literal years since you last had fun.”
You open your mouth to correct her but she fixes you with a warning glare before you can say anything. 
“Fun in the form of Hula Fit and pottery class don’t count, Y/N. And you should probably save the conversation about your weird hobbies until at least the third date. Preferably after sex too, or your chances of getting any will be slim to none.”
You sink down in your chair, scowling at her over the top of your ice cream cup. 
“I still have fun,” you mutter. “I just have a lot on my plate right now. This new job is taking up a lot of my time, and I’m really not interested in getting fired before the trial period is up.”
“Y/N, you pick a rich couple’s kid up from skate club five times a week, make her pasta and watch cartoons until bedtime,” Mina snorts. “What the hell could go wrong?”
“First of all Mr Min is a single father,” you say, pointing your plastic spoon at her accusingly, “and second of all, you haven’t met the guy. If you had, you’d understand why I’m so on edge.”
“Why? What’s wrong with him?”
“He’s freaking terrifying, Mi!” You throw your hands up in the air to emphasise your point. “He barely spoke in my interview, just sat there giving me the dead eyes while his assistant asked all the questions! And he did exactly the same thing the first time I met his daughter. Just stood in the corner of the living room and watched, like he was assessing my ability to play with her or something.” 
“Well he must have liked what he saw, right? You got the job.”
“Barely. Apparently when he called the agency to let them know I was hired, he made a point of saying it was only because the other girl he’d been speaking with came down with pneumonia and he needed someone ASAP.” You pout sullenly, stabbing at your ice cream. “And since then he’s taken every opportunity to point out when I’m doing something wrong.”
“Maybe you’re just taking it too personally? That’s his little girl after all. He probably just wants to make sure she’s in safe hands.”
“I guess… I just wish he wasn’t so blunt about it,” you sigh. “Mostly I just feel sorry for Dee. I don’t get the chance to see them interact often because he usually gets home after her bedtime, but he doesn’t strike me like the type of dad who’s particularly involved, you know? She must only see him a couple of days a week.” You take another spoonful of ice cream, your gaze turning contemplative. “She must have one hell of a mother, wherever she is. I can’t think of any other way she could’ve turned out to be such a good egg, given that her father’s so emotionally constipated.”
“Okay, that’s it.” Mina lifts a hand to stop you from going on. “You think way too much about other people’s problems, you know that? It’s depressing. You need to stop getting stressed about the things you can’t change, and start focussing on the stuff you can.”
“Such as?”
“Such as your non-existent dating life.” She pulls her phone out and starts typing. “I’m sending you Jungkook’s number, and you will text him this week. Understood?”
Your phone vibrates in your back pocket.
“Mina -”
“Nope.” She holds up a finger. “I’m not backing down this time. Not until you agree to put yourself first for once.”
“...Fine,” you sigh eventually, pulling your phone from your back pocket. “I’ll text him. But I’m not promising anything more, okay?”
Though it physically pains you to admit it, Mina was right to an extent. You haven’t so much as given a guy your number in the past year, let alone one as hot as in the picture she’d showed you. Zipping up the tiny black skirt you’d borrowed from her closet, you realise with a sense of looming dread that the odds of making a fool of yourself tonight are decidedly not in your favour.
“Jungkook is a gentleman,” you recall her telling you, sipping daintily at her bubble tea. “He definitely doesn’t put out on the first date. Buuut -” she’d lifted a finger before you could chime in. “that does not mean you get the green light to wear your granny panties.”
“I don’t see why not. They’re comfortable and non-restrictive.”
“A girl should always wear her best lingerie when it counts, Y/N.”
“Says who?”
“Oscar de La Renta.”
“Ha, right. And what would he know about women’s underwear?”
She fixes you with a deadpan look. “Are you literally kidding me right now.”
“Mina, if Jungkook’s not going to see it then what’s even the point?” you mumble through a mouthful of ice cream, pointing the spoon at her to emphasise your point. “I’m not just gonna slice myself in half for nothing.”
If it were possible, you’re fairly certain Mina’s eyes roll all the way back into the back of her skull.
“It’s not for him, you loser, it’s for you. Sexy underwear is a confidence booster!” 
“It’s also expensive and a pain in the ass to move around in. Quite literally.” You tilt your plastic cup in an effort to dig out the last of the chocolate chips, but Mina reaches across to pluck the spoon from your fingers. “Wha-? Hey!”
“If you think I’m letting you pull a Bridget Jones on your first date in twelve months, you are sorely mistaken,” she says resolutely, ignoring your sullen expression. She raises a hand to flag down the server, muttering under her breath, “Clearly we have more work to do than I anticipated.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m taking you to Silky Fit, and we’re not leaving until you’ve picked something out,” she clarifies, pulling her purse out when the waiter came over with the bill. 
After sparing you a second glance, her expression softens somewhat. She tilts her head and sighs fondly at you, the same way someone might sigh at a helpless child, or a puppy covered from head to toe in mud after playing in the garden. 
“You have ice cream on your chin, babe,” she says, tossing a balled up napkin your way.
And thus, here you are a week later, teetering around your apartment in an outfit that’s two sizes smaller than anything you’d usually opt to wear, the string of your new thong pulling uncomfortably tight between your ass cheeks. 
Admittedly, glancing at yourself in the mirror before slipping your blouse on had left you feeling pleasantly flushed. Even despite the minor physical discomfort, Mina hadn’t been lying about the confidence boost. Your body looked good. The colour of the set you’d picked out provided a pretty contrast against your skin, and the bra had just the right amount of upward push to make your breasts look full and perky in their cups. Though ‘sexy’ was never typically a word you’d thought to associate with yourself, turning from side to side in the mirror almost had you reconsidering. 
Makeup done and hair styled into a loose updo, you snap a quick picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror, feeling surprisingly content with the end result.
Y/N: [image.png]
Y/N: all good ???
Despite being at a formal dinner with her boss and some company associates, it takes less than a minute for your friend to respond. You snort when an image of her disgruntled face comes through, clearly shot from beneath the restaurant table. 
Mina: stop trying to sext me ?? I don’t have time for this right now
Y/N: desperate times. need validation :(
Mina: you look so good I could eat you
Mina: ...are you wearing them?👀
You smile at your phone. Feeling emboldened by her praise, you pull up your camera again, this time shooting a quick video in which you turn slowly so she could see the full effect of your outfit. At the very end you tug your blouse to the side a little, flashing just the top of your lace bra with a comically over-exaggerated wink. 
Y/N: video.mp4 🤫
Y/N: enjoy your night baby x
Your taxi calls shortly afterwards to let you know they’re downstairs. 
Despite how busy the restaurant is tonight, it isn’t hard to spot your date. 
Jungkook is big. Far bigger than you’d imagined the stereotypical nerdy tech guy to be. He practically dwarfs you when he stands up to shake your hand, and you feel positively giddy when he rounds the table to pull your chair out for you. He even has the presence of mind to catch you when you inevitably stumbled over your heels on the way down, a gentle hand on your elbow stopping you from face planting in front of the entire establishment. 
“Careful there,” he murmurs, the amused smile on his face causing your neck to prickle with welcome heat. “You almost fell for me.”
When you let out a loud snort in response, clapping a hand over your mouth as a second too late to catch the unattractive sound, Jungkook doesn’t even bat an eyelid - just proceeds to tuck your chair in behind you and call the waiter over to take your drinks orders. You can’t help but wonder if Mina warned him about you beforehand. 
All in all, the date gets off to a good start. You’re relieved to learn that Jungkook is smooth enough for the both of you, seamlessly filling any lulls in the conversation before things have a chance to turn awkward. What’s more, he seems genuinely interested in learning more about you, listening attentively when you explain how you’re currently studying part time for your masters in education whilst nannying on the side. You flush with warmth when he praises your ambition. 
“It must be hard, juggling work with your studies,” he remarks. “It’s awesome that you’re so committed.”
“It’s not that impressive really,” you say, though your whole body is practically aglow from all the compliments. “Truth be known, the agency I work with deals primarily with parents from wealthy areas of the city, so most of us get paid a bit more than your average sitter would. It almost feels like cheating, really.”
“Oh?” Jungkook quirks an eyebrow, raising his wine glass to his lips. “Any celebrities on your contact list so far?”
“Sadly not. I’m only two weeks into my first job so far, and my current employer flies a little lower under the radar than most rich people.”
“A businessman then,” Jungkook nods.
“Precisely. He used to run a tech company, which I think is how he made the majority of his wealth. Nowadays he just does marketing stuff though.”
“A tech company, huh?” Jungkook presses. “Would I have heard of him?” 
To your alarm, he almost spits out his wine when the name Min Yoongi comes out your mouth.  
“Min? As in Min Enterprises?!” he sputters. 
You’re quick to fill him a glass of water, which he accepts gratefully. “That’s the one. You know him?”
“Sure I do,” he says between gulps. “We use literally all of his anti-virus software at work. The guy’s a genius.”
You raise your eyebrows curiously. “Really? The woman from my agency told me his tech company closed years ago. I don’t know much about this stuff, but I would have thought any software they produced would be a little outdated by now...”
Jungkook snorts in amusement. “Closed down is one way of putting it.”
“What do you mean?”
“His programme was good. So good that none of the other tech giants compete with it,” Jungkook explains once his eyes have stopped watering. “Come 2010, Microsoft bit the bullet and bought him out for around fifteen million. They’ve been developing and expanding on his work ever since.”
“Fifteen million?” Your eyebrows shot up towards your hairline. “Christ! No wonder his apartment looks like the Louvre.” 
“I bet it does,” Jungkook laughs. “I’d kill to see what your Christmas bonus looks like.”
It certainly explains a lot, you think to yourself. Particularly Yoongi’s attitude. You’ve seen The Social Network, after all, as painstakingly boring as it may have been. Those matrix-minded, Zuckerberg type kids always grow up to be emotionally stunted. It’s like a trade-off they make with God for getting to be smarter than ninety-nine per cent of the human population. 
When the waiter comes back to whisk away your starter plates, you momentarily excuse yourself to go to the bathroom to check your teeth for wayward broccoli. After giving yourself the all clear, you fix your lipstick and pull your phone out to let Mina know everything’s going well. 
You’re surprised to discover you already have three new messages from her.
Mina: helloooooo ??
Mina: man. she goes on ONE date and already I’ve been dropped
Mina: after all I’ve done for you 😭
You furrow your brows in confusion, scrolling up in the chat. Your bewilderment only increases when you discover Mina’s previous texts have, indeed, gone unanswered. Your video clip is nowhere to be found, and you wonder absently if the Wi-Fi back at your apartment is screwing you over again.
No sooner have you exited the chat that another text comes through, this time from a different number.
We need to talk.
Your heart abruptly flatlines. 
Several things click at once after that, the first being that clearly, it was not Mina’s name you had clicked on to send that video to. 
With shaking hands you open up the chat with your employer, utterly horrified when all your worst nightmares are confirmed at once. 
There, staring back up at you from beneath a message asking if Dee is allergic to band aids, is your cleavage. 
Enjoy your night baby, is what you’d said to Mr Min afterwards. 
Mr Min, who could slice a grown man’s confidence to ribbons with little more than a look. 
Mr Min, your boss of merely two weeks. 
“Fuck!” you hiss, pressing the call button and bringing the phone to your ear. “Oh fucking, fucking fuck…”
Your employer picks up on the second ring. You suck in a shaky breath before speaking. 
“Sir, I -”
“Miss L/N.” 
His voice is ice cold. So cold that the sound alone sound has your apology catching in your throat. 
Not for the first time since you met him, you’re reminded of exactly why Yoongi is so revered and respected among those in the business world. You can’t imagine what it would be like to have him speak your name like that in a boardroom full of men in suits, but you’re pretty sure any shred of self-confidence you had would be all but crushed beneath the toe of his designer oxfords if he so desired. In all honesty, you’d probably prefer it if he were yelling at you. At least if he raised his voice, you wouldn’t be gripping the faucet right now for fear your knees might buckle beneath you.
Somewhere on the other end of the line, a door slams shut like Yoongi is just getting in after a long day. Or perhaps he’s taking this conversation somewhere more private. Either possibility has your stomach churning with anxiety. 
“What is wrong with you?” he hisses under his breath.
You swear you’ve never wanted the floor to swallow you up so badly as you do in this moment.
Screwing your eyes shut, you force yourself to respond. 
“Sir, I can’t tell you how completely sorry I am… th-the video was meant for someone else. I would never be so bold as to -”
“You do realise I’m entrusting my child to you?”
Immediately, your mouth snaps shut. The sensation that you’ve just been slapped across the face takes you by complete surprise.
It takes a few seconds for your brain to play catch up with what Yoongi just said, but when the words finally compute, you feel -hurt-. The suggestion that your personal life might impact on your ability to take care of Yoongi’s daughter stings like hell, and for all his lacking interpersonal skills, your employer didn’t strike you as the type to draw such conclusions until now. The notion doesn’t sit well with you at all. 
Swallowing tightly, you place a hand over your abdomen to ground yourself.
“I really am sorry, Mr Min,” you repeat quietly. “It was an accident. I never intended to put you in an uncomfortable position, and I promise it won’t happen again.”
On the other end of the line, Yoongi is quiet for a moment. 
You wonder if he could hear the slight tremble in your voice. If he can sense the fact that he just squashed your self-confidence beneath his thumb like it was nothing. 
“Make sure it doesn’t,” he mutters eventually. Then, after another short pause, “I’ll see you on Monday.” 
Before you can so much as thank him for not threatening to report you to the agency, you’re met with the tell-tale click of your employer placing the phone down on you, leaving you with an embarrassed lump in your throat and bottom lip wobbling with the threat of tears. 
As could probably be predicted, your date with Jungkook goes rapidly downhill from there. Apparently unable to enjoy a good thing without utterly humiliating yourself along the way, you feel sick to your stomach with anxiety for the remainder of the evening. You barely even touch your dessert, and when Jungkook walks you to your cab half an hour later, you brush him off with a forced smile and a handshake, already having accepted the fact that he wouldn’t want to see you again.
Only when you’re in the back of the cab and heading home do you allow the first quiet tears to fall.
Showing up to work the following Monday is one of the toughest things you’ve ever done.
Even Dee seems to notice something is off when you pick her up from practice. Shrewd as she is, she eventually settles for humming along to the radio when she realises you’re in no mood to talk. Try as you might, you can’t stop replaying her father’s words to you on the phone, and despite Mina’s insistence that he’s an unforgiving prick, a small part of you still wonders if he’s right… Are you even fit to look after a kid? Are you fit to do -anything- besides making a fool of yourself?
To make things worse, Yoongi arrives home early that evening. 
As nervous as you are to see him again, you can’t help but be momentarily distracted by the way he hoists Dee up onto his hip to greet her. It’s not that he’s smiling or anything - such an expression would probably look wrong on him, anyway - but the way he cradles the back of her head seems strangely affectionate for a man like him.
“You’re getting heavy,” he murmurs, pausing to sniff her damp curls. His eyebrows furrow slightly. “And you smell different.”
“Y/N put lime jelly in my bath,” his daughter responds in a sleepy voice, her voice muffled against his lapel. “The water turned green like a skeptic tank.”
“Septic tank,” Yoongi corrects quietly. Though his face remains as expressionless as ever, you don’t miss the way his aura grows soft around her - a detail he himself probably doesn’t even recognise. “Sounds like you two had fun.”
His eyes lock with yours across the living room and you drop your gaze immediately, your body flushing with heat like you’ve been caught out doing something you shouldn’t. 
“S-sorry,” you blurt reflexively, already moving to grab your satchel. “I didn’t realise you were coming home early. Let me just pack up my stuff -”
“Y/N.” Yoongi’s voice stops you in your tracks. “Can I speak with you for a second?”
Standing stock still like a deer in the headlights, a sense of impending doom floods through you. This is it. Clearly Yoongi’s thought it over and decided to fire you after all. And the worst thing is you couldn’t even blame him! How could he possibly see you as a professional again after witnessing you running your tongue over your top teeth like a hungry carnivore? You haven’t even had the chance to explain it was -ironic.-
“Sure,” you squeak, torn between accepting your fate and grovelling on your knees for forgiveness. Who the hell was going to hire the babysitter who got fired from her first job during the trial period? For sending -provocative images- no less!
Carefully, Yoongi sets Dee down on the floor again, nodding in the direction of her room. 
“Why don’t you go pick out a bedtime story?” he says.
His daughter peers up at him like he’s just sprouted a second head. 
“You’re going to read to me?”
“No, I’m going to hit you over the head with it.” Yoongi rolls his eyes. “Obviously I’m going to read to you.”
Dee doesn’t look convinced. She folds her arms over her chest. 
“Alice in Wonderland?”
“That book is long as hell, Dee. I’ll read two chapters.”
“With the voices?”
“What am I, a performing monkey? Get out of here before I change my mind, kid.”
Dee huffs, clearly dissatisfied. Nonetheless, she trudges off to her room, her ringlets bouncing as she goes.
The living room falls uncomfortably quiet again once it’s just you and Yoongi. 
You fiddle idly with your hands, unsure of where to look. The embarrassment of the situation hits you all over again when you accidentally replay the video in your mind, and despite the fact that you’re wearing two layers already, you can’t help but cross your arms protectively over your chest. 
As if sensing your discomfort, Yoongi clears his throat.
“May I offer you a drink?”
You pause. It’s not quite what you’d expected, but then again, rich people are weird. Maybe it’s customary to send your incompetent employees on their way with a glass of Chateau Petrus. Having skipped out on the whole making-millions-of-dollars-in-your-early-twenties thing, you probably wouldn’t know.
“I’m fine,” you manage weakly, shaking your head. “Thank you, sir.”
Yoongi gestures towards the couches. “Shall we sit then?”
You gnaw at your lip anxiously. “... I think that depends.”
“Whether you’re going to fire me.” You force yourself to look up. “With all due respect, Mr Min, I’d rather just shake hands and go. I’m finding it hard enough to look you in the eye right now as it is.”
Yoongi blinks. Your words hang heavy in the air between you. 
“Miss L/N,” he says slowly, clearly taken aback by your forwardness. “If I wanted to fire you, I would have done so already.”
You open your mouth, then abruptly close it again. Your eyebrows tug together in confusion. 
“So you... aren’t?”
“Of course I’m not.” Yoongi shakes his head as if the notion alone is utterly ridiculous to him. “I only held you back tonight because I wanted to -” 
He cuts himself off suddenly, like there’s a physical barrier stopping the words from coming out. Then with a tired sigh, he leans back against the sideboard, carding his ringed fingers back through his hair. 
“Because I wanted to apologise,” he finishes.
If possible, your eyes grow even wider than before.
“...Huh?” is all you can manage.
“I shouldn’t have been so hard on you,” Yoongi clarifies simply. “I was out of line. I had no business speaking to you how I did.”
“Oh, n-no Mr Min,” you scramble for words, already raising your hands to stop him from going on. “Please don’t say that. What happened on Saturday was totally my fault. That message was -”
“A harmless accident,” he cuts in gently, and you pause at the unfamiliarity in his tone. “Please rest assured that I was the asshole in that situation, Y/N, not you.”
Lips parted softly, you gape at him from across the dimly lit living room. It’s beyond strange hearing such a formidable man issue such a humble apology, and you had absolutely no idea how to respond. 
Seeming to mistake your silence as a prompt for further explanation, Yoongi exhales heavily through his nose, his gaze momentarily dropping to his feet.
“I tend to get a little… short-fused around this time of year,” he says. “I lost Dee’s mother in early December. Yesterday was the four-year anniversary of her death.”
Your heart stutters in your chest. 
Of course, you knew there was a woman involved at some point. And in more than just an oven-for-the-bun kind of way, if the drawings on the fridge were anything to go by. But up until now, you’d assumed the two of them had simply parted ways - that she lived a few neighbourhoods away, and Dee visited her every other weekend. To learn that her absence is something far more permanent than that - to witness that purple stick-woman transform into a real, vibrant image in your mind’s eye - is something else entirely, and a thousand possibilities flash through your imagination at shutter speed. You see someone who took care of Dee when she was sick. Someone who encouraged her husband to pursue his goals and start up his own company. A mother and a wife, with hobbies and dreams and a presence that probably bled itself into every cranny of the apartment before Yoongi had stripped it bare in her wake. 
Someone who probably would have been utterly furious at you for all the bold assumptions you’ve made about him so far.
You wonder who the man standing before you might have been, had he not had the person he loved most in the world torn from him just as they were starting a life together. All at once, your gut burns with shame.
“Mr Min...” you say, your voice barely loud enough to make the distance between you. “I’m so sorry.”
Yoongi is quick to shake his head. “Don’t be,” he says, his tone kind but firm. “I’m a grown man. My grief is no excuse to treat people poorly. If I could take back what I said that night I would, but when your message came through it -”  He abruptly stops talking. 
If you didn’t know better, you’d think there was a hint of a blush on his cheeks. 
“It caught me off guard,” he finishes eventually, inclining his head in a small bow. “Please accept my apologies.” 
Feeling a little winded by the whole ordeal, there’s little else you can do but return his gesture, stooping low with your hands on your thighs. “Of course,” you manage. “Please, consider it forgotten, sir.”
Yoongi straightens up with a nod. His dark eyes skim over you with an unreadable expression.
“Just for the record,” he adds tentatively, “I never would have fired you for something like that. I’m afraid my daughter is already far too attached to you.”
You flushed at the sentiment, embarrassed for reasons you couldn’t quite place. “I highly doubt that’s true,” you mumble, glancing downward. “I’ve only been here two weeks.”
“On the contrary, there’s a bag of Christmas peppermint creams in the fridge that she made you at after school club,” says Yoongi. “I asked where mine were and she pulled my wallet out of my pocket, handed it back to me and told me to stop sponging off other people’s hard work.”
For the first time during a conversation with your employer, you let out a genuine laugh. 
Yoongi doesn’t laugh along, of course. He doesn’t even smile. You’re starting to figure at this point that his blank expression might actually be his happy one.
“Hey - will Dee be okay?” you ask a few moments later, when the room lapses back into a comfortable quiet. “I wasn’t aware that she might be going through a tough time...”
“I think she’s normalised it now,” Yoongi explains, sliding his hands into the pockets of his slacks. “She was too young back then. Her memories of her mother are abstract at best. The drawings she brings home from school, they’re just copies of photographs really. The stuff she knows from home videos or stories I’ve told her.” He pauses. “I think she can sense it though. How I get a bit funny around Christmastime. I think it upsets her.”
“You can’t help it,” you insist gently, the guilt of judging Yoongi too harshly causing your stomach to clench up once again. “Dee’s a smart girl. I’m sure she’ll come to understand it one day.”
Yoongi watches you from across the room, his head slightly tilted like he was trying to figure something out. 
“Thank you,” he says eventually. “For taking care of Dee. Things before… they were hard on her. I wish I could be there for her more.” He glances away momentarily. “I think you being here has made things easier.” 
Something warm and fuzzy unfurls in your chest at his words. 
“I’m happy I could help,” you say honestly. “She really is a great kid.”
“She is.” Yoongi nods.
“And she thinks the world of you,” you can’t help but add, because despite your previous assumptions about Yoongi’s parenting, it hadn’t taken long to cotton on to the fact that Dee never shuts up about him. 
“Right,” Yoongi snorts. He pushes away from the sideboard. “Tell me that again when the teenage years roll around.”
You grin, and he hesitates a moment for gesturing towards your raincoat.
“It’s dark out, and the light in the parking lot keeps flickering out,” he says. “I’ll walk you to your car.”
The offer takes you by surprise. You’re not used to seeing the kind side of your employer. Hell, you’re not used to much more than thinly-veiled criticism and blunt remarks.
Nonetheless, after saying a final goodnight to Dee, you let Min Yoongi walk you downstairs that day.
(You let him do it every day after that, too).
You’re sweating buckets by the time you reach the front door, your hair a wild mess from the unexpected bout of snow that had caught you on the way over. Panting like an animal, you raise your elbow to press the doorbell, taking about three tries before you actually manage to accomplish such a feat. 
It’s barely even finished ringing before Yoongi is standing before you, a disgruntled look on his face and cheeks pink from exertion. 
He’s dressed down - or as dressed down as one can be in a Ralph Lauren sweatshirt and comfy slacks, which in reality is about as close to loungewear as he’s likely to get. Up until now you were convinced the man slept in a full suit. 
Standing in the doorway with one hand on the frame, he gives you an unimpressed once over.
“You’re late.”
You roll your eyes. “Hello to you too.”
“What’s with the bags?” 
“Just a few things to get us through the week. Can I come in, or...?”
Begrudgingly, Yoongi moves out the way, though he’s still eyeing you warily.
“Exactly how much sugar are you planning to stuff my kid with while I’m gone?” 
You place your shopping bags down in the entryway with a sigh. “It’s Christmas, for heaven’s sake, what else are we supposed to do if not overeat until we pass out in front of the TV?”
Yoongi hums, his lips pursed. “Right. Just remember no sweet treats after eight. And no milk either for that matter, we’re trying her on -” 
“A lactose free diet to see if it helps with the stomach cramps,” you drone. “I’ve been here every weekday for a whole year, Yoongi. There’s no need to reiterate the rules every time I walk in.” 
“You might know the rules, but I know my daughter. She despises oat milk with a passion, and she’ll try every which way to get you to cave when it comes to hot chocolate.” He pulls out his wallet with a sigh, and your expression morphs into one of confusion. “How much do I owe you?” 
“O-oh! You don’t have to pay me back,” You hold your hands out in front of you, shaking your head. “These are a gift, and they barely cost anything anyway. It’s just gingerbread men and.. and colouring books and stuff.” 
Yoongi quirks an eyebrow. 
“Really,” he drawls. “So you’re telling me I won’t find the new Super Smash Bros game buried underneath all that junk food if I take a look?” 
“Shh!” You clap a hand over his mouth, eyes darting towards the living room. “Don’t spoil it!” 
Yoongi sighs, taking your wrist gently so he can speak again. “Snacks are fine, but that game is at least forty dollars. I can’t have you spending that much money on us.” 
“But I want to,” you insist, giving him the puppy-dog eyes. “Dee’s wanted it for months, and she’s been working so hard recently. I want to show her I’m proud of her.” You stick your bottom lip out. “Please let me.” 
Yoongi narrows his eyes at you. “Don’t look at me like that.” 
“Like what?” 
“You know what.”
You grin wickedly. You already know you’ve won.
With a reluctant grumble, Yoongi slides his wallet back into his pocket. “I’m only letting this slide because I’m running late,” he says, even though you’re both aware he’s not. He nods towards your grocery bags. “You need help getting those to the kitchen?” 
“I’ll be fine,” you wave him off. “You finish packing, boss. I’ll go say hi to the little monster.” 
Unsurprisingly, Dee is still in her pyjamas when you find her. She’s curled up on her side at the foot of the Christmas tree, Home Alone playing on the TV for the umpteenth time. You know it’s her favourite. She and Kevin have a lot in common when left to their own devices.
“Hey, bug,” you say in passing. “You getting into the Christmas spirit?”
Dee barely even lifts her head to look at you. “How can I?” she mumbles into the carpet. “I’m being abandoned. Again.”
You tut, opening the fridge so you can unload the goods into it. “Hey now, it’s not all bad. You have me, remember. And I have gingerbread men.”
You hold up the box and shake it, but Dee merely blinks at your efforts to raise her spirits. 
She sighs forlornly, her gaze sliding back to the TV.
Your eyes soften as you watch her. She looks so small like this, rolled over on one side with her knees tucked up against her chest. It’s hard to believe this is the same little girl whose performances explode like dynamite when she hits the ice, the energy she exudes reaching every corner of the rink. 
In these smaller, quieter moments, you see more of her father in her than ever.
“Dee,” you say, your voice gentle but firm. “Look at me, bug.” 
Reluctantly, she peels her eyes away from the TV screen to meet yours.
“You know your dad doesn’t want to go any more than you want him to, right?” you say. “If it were up to him, he’d be staying right here.”
“I know...” Dee mumbles, playing with her fingers. “I just don’t like it when he’s gone.”
“I know you don’t, bug.” You smile sadly. “And that’s totally okay. But we need to make sure we don’t make this any harder on him than it needs to be, right? That means no tears this time.”
Dee rolls her eyes, her cheeks flushing. 
Yoongi had been called away on a weekend business trip in Paris a few months ago, and for whatever reason, the kid had had a meltdown like nothing you’d ever seen before when it came time for him to leave. It had taken all your strength to pry her arms from around his leg, and at the time it had been heart-breaking to witness. 
Her separation anxiety always tends to show its face at some point when Yoongi goes overseas, but never before to that extent. You don’t think you’ve ever seen a man look quite so torn as Yoongi had in that moment. If you hadn’t been there, you’re convinced he would have cancelled the trip altogether. 
Thankfully, the farewell goes a lot smoother this time. When Yoongi returns from his bedroom with suitcase in tow, Dee stands up and hugs him with little fanfare, burying her face in his stomach. He lifts a hand to smooth over her hair. 
“Be good, okay?” he says. “I’ll be back before you know it.”
“Love you,” Dee mumbles when she pulls back, and you send her an encouraging nod Yoongi’s shoulder. 
“Love you too, kid.” Yoongi bends to kiss the crown of her head, and you observe the exchange with the familiar ache of longing in your bones.
You see him to the door afterwards, the two of you loitering in the threshold as you go through the usual routine of checking he has everything.
“Boarding pass?” you say.
“In my bag.”
“Phone? Wallet?”
He pulls both out to show you. You smile fondly, leaning up against the doorframe with your arms crossed. 
“Text us when you land, okay?” you say softly.
“Yeah.” Yoongi nods. “If you have an emergency while I’m gone -”
“Call Namjoon, his number’s on the fridge under the banana magnet.” You roll your eyes, absentmindedly reaching out to fix his collar. “Again, been here a whole year, Yoongi. I know the drill.”
Your brain catches up a few seconds too late, and by the time you’ve realised your error Yoongi is already blinking down at your fingers, frozen in the process of smoothing down the hem of his sweater. 
Your eyes go wide in panic.
“Um-!” You retract your hands as if you’ve been burned. “H-have a safe flight, okay? I’ll see you soon!”
Yoongi merely hums, staring at you from beneath hooded lids with an unreadable expression.
You all but slam the door in his face, leaning your back up against it and pinching the bridge of your nose in frustration.
“...fuck!” Yoongi hears you curse on the other side.
Last year
The first time you realised you’re in love with your employer, it’s the evening of Dee’s first regional skate competition.
At the request of the little princess herself, you wander into the changing rooms fifteen minutes before the show to give her a good luck hug, finding her perched on a bench in a sparkly blue costume. Her skates are already done up, feet swinging back and forth and her entire body seeming to buzz with energy. Smiling, you begin to make your way over. 
Then you spot him.
Perched on one knee, his hair swept back off his forehead and the sleeves of his work shirt rolled up to his elbows, Yoongi wields a makeup palette in his left hand and a brush in his right. When he murmurs something soft under his breath, Dee responds by closing her eyes. You watch on in quiet awe as Yoongi leans up to brush the glittery powder over her right lid with feather-light strokes. 
When he’s satisfied with the blending, he swaps out the eyeshadow palette for a pack of rhinestones, even going so far as to use a pair of tweezers to apply them seamlessly to her lash line one by one. You can’t help but wonder how many times he’s done this before. He must be the only father in the room right now, and something about the way he owns that fact makes your chest swell with something warm and unidentifiable. You wonder if the braids on her head are his handiwork too. If it was his idea that she wear her mother’s necklace over her costume tonight.
In this moment, you know with certainty there was no one in the world Min Yoongi cared about more than his little girl. 
When he just so happens to glance your way a moment later, Yoongi’s expression barely shifts from his default glower.
“Oh, good,” he remarks drily, tossing you a can of hairspray. You barely managed to catch it without fumbling. “She’s got some flyaways round the back. There’s a comb in the front pocket of her gym bag.”
He goes straight back to work without sparing you a second glance after that, firmly instructing Dee to stop wriggling lest he poke her eye out by accident. 
You swore your heart has never felt so full. 
Biting back a smile, you wordlessly locate the comb and start smoothing out her hair. 
“Hold it… hooold it…”
“Dee, babe. I really don’t think -”
“Hold it, Y/N!”
You exhale heavily through your nose, arms trembling as you struggle to maintain the downward dog position you’ve been forced into. Dee isn’t having nearly so much trouble, her forehead lightly touching her yoga mat when she arches her spine. She wiggles her bottom playfully in the air.
“That’s, guys. You look great!” chirps the annoyingly perky young woman on your iPad screen. “Now we take our right leg and extend upwards, pushing down hard into our heel so we can really feel that stretch in our hamstrings.”
“Trust me, I’m feeling it,” you grunt, barely managing to raise your right leg thirty centimetres off the ground. 
Dee giggles, her leg already extended to its full height as if her body were made of elastic. 
Your core contracts with the effort of keeping you upright, knees threatening to buckle beneath you.
“How is this fair? You’ve been skating since before you could walk and I haven’t moved this much since high school.”
“Tina says each new day is an opportunity to improve yourself.”
You roll your eyes. “Tina sounds like a hoot.” 
“That’s the spirit, ladies! Other leg, let’s go!”
You groan, switching sides. It’s the third day in a row that Dee’s had you do stretches with her, and you’re starting to feel more like you’ve signed up for a week of boot camp than a week of babysitting. 
Dee squints at you from beneath her armpit. 
“Y/N,” she sighs.
“You’re dropping your hips.”
“My apologies, Drill Sergeant Min. Won’t happen again.”
She returns to her position, shaking her head like a disappointed school teacher. “You’re worse than dad, you know.”
You do a double take. “I’m sorry - Yoongi does this with you?”
“Sometimes.” Dee moves gracefully into a side plank, facing away from you. “When he doesn’t have work.”
“And you’re telling me I’m worse?”
“It’s considera-bly,” you correct her with a huff, more out of indignation than anything else. 
“Po-tay-to, po-tah-to,” Dee shrugs.
You let out an amused snort, though your mind is still reeling at the thought of Yoongi willingly assuming the lotus position and breathing out for eight counts. Scratch that, your mind is reeling at the thought of Yoongi wearing anything other than slacks. What kind of power does this kid wield that she can get the human robot himself to break a sweat? 
You continue on with the routine until you can’t any longer, at which point you collapse onto your back with little ceremony. 
“That’s it,” you pant, waving the metaphorical white flag in the air. “I’m done. No more.”
“But we haven’t even got to the headstand part yet!”
“Go on without me, bug. I’ll only hold you back at this point.” You manage to sit up despite the dull ache in your abs, glancing over at the wall clock. “Man, it’s getting late. I should get started on dinner.”
No sooner have you spoken it that Tina’s bouncing breasts disappear from your screen, replaced by Yoongi’s caller ID. 
“Dad!” Dee gasps, already lunging forward to press accept before you can think to stop her.
When Yoongi’s expressionless face appears, he is confronted with the image of you kneeling on your yoga mat in a ratty pink sports bra and leggings, frozen like a deer in the headlights with your brow glistening with sweat and an eight-year-old’s halloween headband holding your hair back from your face. 
You freeze. Yoongi blinks at the velvet cat ears sticking up from atop your head.
“Good morning,” he says in a low rumble.
In the next second you’re diving off-screen with a muttered curse, grappling for your T-shirt where it sits bundled up on the floor. 
None the wiser to your panic, Dee scrunches her nose up. 
“Morning?” she says, settling on her stomach with her chin in her hands. “It’s like five p.m.”
“Different time zones, kid. It’s almost lunchtime here.” Yoongi reclines in his fancy armchair, which is presumably in his hotel suite. “You two have been working hard I see.”
“No pain, no gain,” Dee tells him matter-of-factly, even going so far as to flex her bicep for the camera.
Yoongi hums. “Just don’t go pushing yourself too hard, hm? One of these days you’re going to twist yourself up into a pretzel position you can’t get yourself out of, and when that happens -I’m- the one who’s going to end up carrying you around.”
“Tell that to Y/N,” Dee snorts. “She looked like a drowning octopus when we got to the backbends.”
“I was not that bad,” you hiss, your face heating up with embarrassment despite being off-camera. Then, as an afterthought, “And how the hell does an octopus drown?”
Nobody is listening to you. It might just be a trick of the light, but you’re convinced you spot the corner of Yoongi’s mouth give a slight twitch of amusement.
“Be nice, Dee,” he says, though he doesn’t sound particularly worried for you. “The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen, right?”
You pause, giving Dee the side-eye. “...Did he just quote Tina?”
She fixes you with a serious gaze. “Careful. Dad is a big Tina fan.”
“Ugh, I bet he is,” you mutter under your breath, pulling a face as you recall the way Tina’s cute little glute muscles had contracted during the standing pigeon. 
“Feel free to let me know when you’re done talking about me like I’m not here,” Yoongi drawls dispassionately, taking a sip of his coffee. “I need to speak with Y/N.”
You can’t help the way your stomach flutters at that. Hesitantly (and having disposed of Dee’s cat ears), you lean back into frame. 
“What’s up?” you say with an awkward wave, already cringing at yourself internally.
Yoongi blinks languidly, passing no comment on your previous state of undress. 
“I’m expecting a delivery to arrive at some point this week,” he says. “I need you to sign for me and put it somewhere safe. Preferably out of reach for anyone below four-foot-two, if you catch my drift.”
“Ohh,” you nod slowly, giving him the thumbs up. Clearly this delivery was Christmas-oriented. “Gotcha. Don’t worry, boss, I’ll make sure no prying eyes see anything they shouldn’t.” 
You shoot him an exaggerated wink behind Dee’s head.
The smallest of smiles works its way onto Yoongi’s lips, and the sight is nothing short of stunning. Just like clockwork, the sight has your chest aching for him to be home. You open your mouth to speak again - perhaps to ask how Berlin is treating him, or some equally lame attempt to keep him on call for a little longer - but before the words can form there’s a sharp knock on the door of Yoongi’s hotel suite.
“Come in,” he calls gruffly.
Fortunately (or perhaps not so fortunately) the angle of the camera is just right that you can see the reflection of the door in the mirror behind, swinging open to reveal his guest. 
“Aha! There he is,” a sultry female voice sounds through the screen. “I’ve been looking all over for you, mister.”
Your heart sinks right to the pit of your stomach. Lower, if it were possible. 
There’s no doubt in your mind that the woman standing in Yoongi’s doorway is anything short of a goddess in a pinstriped skirt. You’d have to be blind not to see how gorgeous she is, all long limbs and softly curled red hair that falls in waves about her shoulders. She leans up against the doorframe with her hip cocked, a playful smirk on her face as she looks at your employer.
“Sofie,” Yoongi acknowledges with a polite nod. True to form, his expression betrays precisely nothing of what’s going on in his head. “Did you need something?”
“I just wanted to ask if you’re coming to lunch. We’ve made reservations at the restaurant downstairs if you’d like to join us.”
Your eyes skirt away, seeking out something better to look at. Anything really, so long as it’s not the obscenely beautiful woman who's hitting on the man you love in a swanky hotel eight thousand kilometres away.
“That’s very kind of you,” says Yoongi, and you wish for once that his voice was anything other than a monotone drawl. There’s absolutely no way of deciphering whether he's into this woman when he talks to her the same way he talks to you, and Dee, and noodles on the damn stove when he wants them to hurry up and boil. “I just need to finish up this call. I’ll be down in a minute.”
“Perfect.” Sofie pushes away from the door with a coy smile. “I’ll see you there.”
She turns on her heel, hips swaying like a pendulum as she slinks out of the room. When the door closes behind her, Yoongi returns his focus to the camera, totally nonchalant. 
“Looks like I’m out of time,” he says.
Dee props her chin on her hand, pouting sullenly. “Are you gonna be home soon?”
“Four days, kid, then I’m all yours.” His gaze flickers over to you. “You two take care, okay?”
“You too,” you nod quickly, determined not to let the internal battle you’re having right now show up on your face.
“I’ll see you later.”
“Bye, Dad.” Dee waves.
“Enjoy your-”
The call ends abruptly, cutting you off.
“... Night,” you finish lamely.
The lovely Miss Tina returns to your screen, and Dee blows a gust of hair from between her lips. The sound startles you somewhat.
“Man,” she says, flopping down onto her stomach. “I hate that B-word.”
“Dee!” you shriek, your eyes almost bugging right out of your head.
She blinks up you innocently. “What? I didn’t curse.”
“I - God, who even taught you that?”
“Family Guy,” she shrugs.
“Right, that’s it. I’m revoking your TV privileges for the rest of the week.” You stand up, waving your finger at her so she knows you’re serious. “Just because it’s a cartoon does not mean it’s suitable for kids.”
“Fine. I’m sorry,” she mutters. “But Sofie really -is- annoying. She’s a froo-trarian, so we had to eat this really weird meal with papaya and stuff when she came over. And she said figure skating is basically just a style of dance!”
You freeze halfway to the kitchen.
“A froo-trarian,” Dee repeated, with extra emphasis on the ‘froo’. “It’s this religion where you don’t eat anything with a face, or anything that came out of something with a face, or anything green unless it’s a kiwi.” 
“No,” you shake your head jerkily. “No, I mean - Sofie came here? To the apartment?”
“Yuh-huh.” Dee’s already distracted, rewinding the workout video to where you left off. “She was doing some work thing with Dad. They were in his office for hours.”
Immediately, your stomach tightens with anxiety. Something about that doesn’t sit right with you at all. Yoongi hardly ever has people from work around, much less for a meal. The man can barely even feed himself when the recipe calls for more than a microwave.
A selfish part of you wants to press the matter with Dee. To ask her more questions about Sofie, and what was said over this illusive dinner they had together. How Yoongi had acted with her. But you know it’s not your place to pry. 
Yoongi deserves his privacy, and you refuse to let your paranoia infringe on that.
“I’ll get started on dinner,” you murmur, continuing on your way to the kitchen.
The feeling of unease stays with you for the remainder of the evening.
Last year
You’re filling in for a friend at the university library when the call comes through. Not on your mobile, because that’s been off all morning, but via the landline you didn’t even know the place had. Your supervisor hands you the phone with raised eyebrows, looking slightly rattled by whoever’s on the other line. 
“It’s for you. They say it’s urgent.”
‘They’ turns out to be an uncharacteristically flustered Yoongi. You’ve barely managed to greet him before he’s rushing to speak over you in a garbled voice, his tone simultaneously exhausted and frantic. 
“Dee’s sick,” he blurts, followed by the distinct sound of rooting through his cabinets. “The doctor said it was just a cold but - I don’t know, Y/N, her face is so hot and she can’t keep anything down, not even plain toast -”
“Okay, deep breaths.” You hold a hand up as if he were standing in front of you, doing your best to placate him. “Panicking won’t solve anything. What’s her temperature like? Is she drinking okay?”
“She was at a hundred last time I checked. I managed to get her to drink a little water, but she could barely even finish the glass.” He pauses to suck in a sharp breath. “Fuck, I think I’m having a heart palpitation. Should I give her a whole painkiller or half?”
You blink, taken aback by this new side to your employer. Eternally unmoved, it’s strange to hear his stress manifest itself in anything other than reclusiveness and a sharp tongue. You have to remind yourself how scary it must be to have your child fall sick - especially when you don’t have anyone to support you in taking care of them. 
“Hey,” you say, assuming a more gentle tone, “try to calm down a little, yeah? She’s only just pushing a fever. Her taste buds are out of whack right now, but you can put a dash of fruit syrup in her water to make the taste more bearable. One painkiller should be fine if you can get her to eat a snack with it.” You reach for your coat, shoving your free hand through the sleeve. “I’m heading to my car now, okay? I’ll be with you in twenty minutes. Just hang tight until I get there.”
Yoongi releases a shaky breath on the other end of the line.
“Shit,” he breathes. “I’m sorry, Y/N. Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it,” you say, signing yourself out. 
Things come to a head two days later, when the delivery guy shows up with enough parcels to fill Santa’s sled. 
You’ve managed to wrangle Dee into the living room while you find a spot to hide them all, but it’s no easy feat. You know she’ll sniff them out if you’re not careful enough. Thus, you find yourself in Yoongi’s home office, shoving the final few boxes under his desk. Due to the electrical work he’s in the middle of having done, there’s a strict policy on Dee entering this particular room unsupervised. 
“Finally,” you huff, the last package jammed tightly into the limited space beneath the desk like the final piece in a game of Tetris. You stand up and brush yourself off, feeling pretty pleased with yourself. 
The feeling is quick to dissipate, however, when you turn around to find you’ve somehow managed to miss one of the gifts. 
“Oh for goodness sake,” you mutter, glaring at the unassuming white shoebox atop the filing cabinets. “How many pairs of skates does one kid need?”
There’s no room left under the desk, so you figure one of the larger drawers will have to suffice. Crouching down, you root around in search of one empty enough to store it. 
Later, you’ll muse that it’s funny how something so small can flip your entire world on its head. You probably wouldn’t even have noticed the palm-sized box in Yoongi’s bottom drawer had your sleeve not got caught in the slide mechanism. You yank at it unceremoniously, somehow managing to dislodge the entire drawer in the process. 
“Fucking hell,” you mutter under your breath, the miscellaneous contents strewn all over the floor. 
Setting aside Dee’s gift, you start putting things to rights with a heavy sigh. Only then do your eyes fall to the dainty turquoise box that’s fallen between an old roadmap of Busan. Topped with a pearlescent white ribbon, the branding is unmistakable. 
You pause for a moment, blinking down at it like it might disappear if you stare long enough. When it doesn’t, you pick it up with shaky fingers.
You’re not sure what possesses you to do what you do next. Perhaps you need to see it with your own eyes. With your heart in your mouth, you flip the box open to peek inside.
There’s no denying that the necklace inside was designed for a woman. It’s custom made; dainty and romantic, everything about it practically screaming with intention. It’s almost comical, in fact, how very Yoongi it is. Who else could pull off a courting gift in this day and age if not him?
You laugh at the thought, ignoring the lone tear that slips down your face as you slide back onto your ass with a thump. The realisation that you’re actually crying over something like this makes you feel beyond stupid, but once you’ve started, you can’t seem to stop.
Nonetheless, you can’t bring yourself to peel your eyes away from the necklace either. You imagine Yoongi wandering into the shop during his lunch break and browsing the options - discussing her tastes with the clerk. Despite its beauty, you don’t have the stomach to take it out of the box. To open up the pendant and look at the photo. You think you might be sick if you read whatever beautifully intimate inscription he’s picked out to go inside.
You press your free hand down against your chest with a soft grunt. 
It hurts so much more than you thought it would. It hurts like a bitch.
“As if you thought he’d want you back,” you whisper, your voice thick. You bark a sharp laugh at your own idiocy. “Fuck. I’m such a loser.”
“Y/N?” Dee yells from the living room, and you almost drop the box to the floor in surprise. “The gingerbread men are burning! We gotta take them out!”
“C-coming!” you shout back, your throat tight.
You set the drawer to rights, shoving both the shoebox and the necklace back inside before slamming it shut. 
Last Year
“She really scared you, huh?”
Yoongi’s slumped over on the sofa, his head resting in his hands. With Dee finally asleep in bed having vomited, cried her eyes out, and clung to him like a limpet all through bath time, it’s no wonder he’s feeling worn out by this point. A quick glance at the clock tells you it’s almost midnight.
“Mm,” he groans into his palms, lacking the energy to even lift his head.
“Can I get you anything?” you offer, your voice soft. “Coffee? Something stronger, perhaps?”
He waves a hand vaguely. “Tea will do. I’ll be with you in a minute.” 
You round the corner into the kitchen area, flicking the kettle on before moving over to the fridge. As per usual, it’s covered in Dee’s drawings - more so now, given her recent interest in sea creatures. In between the rough sketches of sharks and jellyfish, there’s countless portraits too - you and Yoongi. ‘Uncle Joon’. Their car Freddy, who sadly found a new home before you could meet him. A self portrait. Yoongi again... ‘Mommy.’
You pause, looking over the picture for the umpteenth time. It’s the only depiction of Dee’s mother you’ve been given - a wobbly purple stick figure in a ruby red dress, with curly black hair that stops at her shoulders. She’s smiling. Her little stick hand is attached to Dee’s on one side, and Yoongi’s on the other. Much to your amusement, Yoongi’s mouth has been drawn as a characteristic straight line.
Apparently some things never change.
You’re so busy examining it that you don’t catch him padding in behind you.
“She’s quite the artist,” he remarks, leaning back against the counter.
You turn around, offering him a soft smile. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to pry.”
Yoongi shrugs. “They’re up there for a reason.”
The kettle reaches boil, and Yoongi observes quietly as you set about making the tea. He accepts his mug with a nod of thanks, but doesn’t drink it immediately. Instead he slides his finger contemplatively over the rim, catching a lone drip before it can roll down the side.
“Thank you for coming over tonight,” he murmurs, staring down into the dark liquid. “I really appreciate your help.”
“It’s no bother,” you say honestly. “You barely needed me at all, by the looks of things.”
Yoongi huffs a small laugh, but the sound falls just short of genuine. “It’s okay. I know I’m shit at this stuff. Elle always took care of the coughs and colds when Dee was small.”
You feel your heart skip a beat, only just stopping your tea from going down the wrong way.
He’s never said her name before.
Yoongi is watching you carefully, like he’s trying to gage your reaction. His dark hair shrouds his eyes. 
“It’s okay,” he confirms quietly. “You can ask.”
“What happened to her?” you breathe, like it’s something you’ve been holding in all this time. You didn’t even realise you wanted to know until he said it, but for some reason it feels like there’s so much hinging on his answer. 
You realise belatedly it’s because you want to know Yoongi. You want to understand the little intricacies that make him the man he is, and the woman who played such a big part of it. 
You want to earn his trust. 
“It was four years ago now,” he says, bringing a hand up to work the kinks out of his neck. “She fell ill out of the blue, and the doctors told us it was a lung infection. A rare one, especially given her age, but not incurable. Unfortunately, her body didn’t respond well to the treatment.”
You shake your head. “Oh, Yoongi...”
He nods. Places his glass down with a small sigh. Despite the fact he doesn’t open up often, it’s clear to see he’s made peace with his story now. There’s no anguish in his words; only the fleeting sadness of someone who’s known more loss than they should. 
“She spent her last six months in hospital, and during those last few weeks when she was sick… I’ve never felt so helpless in my life. I think that’s why it was hard today. With Dee.” He seeks out your gaze hesitantly. “I get scared seeing her like that.”
“Anyone would,” you say assuredly, secretly wanting nothing more than to close the distance between you and comfort him. You hold yourself back on principal. “But I promise you, Dee is going to be just fine. It’s just a stomach bug. Some kids are more prone to them than others.”
“I know.” He nods, sweeping his hair back. “I know, I just... get caught up in my head sometimes. Especially this time of year.”
“Totally understandable,” you nod. “You don’t need to explain yourself to me, Yoongi.”
Slowly, as if part of him is still waiting for you to press for more information, Yoongi picks up his tea again and takes a tentative sip.
“...Thank you,” he says after a long pause. 
You raise your eyebrows at him. “For what?”
“For loving Dee,” he clarifies. 
You smile at him softly in the dim kitchen light.
“Thank you for letting me,” you say, raising the mug to your lips.
Yoongi arrives home on Saturday evening, just as the second smattering of snow meets the ground. You hesitate when you hear him come through the door, staying behind in the kitchen as Dee skids into the entryway in her socks. You can hear the surprised grunt she forces from his throat as she flings her little arms around his midsection. 
“Oof. Hi there, kid,” he says, and you can hear the exhaustion in his voice after a long night of travelling. You imagine him lowering himself down into a squat so she can hug him properly. “Isn’t it past your bedtime?”
“Y/N said I could wait up for you.”
“Is that so?” he hums. “And where is Y/N?”
You sigh quietly, understanding that this is your cue. Steeling your nerves, you hike your duffel bag up higher on your shoulder and head out into the hall, your boots heavy against the hardwood floor.
Yoongi’s eyes sweep upwards when you round the corner, trailing all the way from your shoes to the hem of your coat, already buttoned to the top. You pause somewhat awkwardly in the doorway, and he rises to a slow stand. Despite having practiced three times in the bathroom mirror prior to his arrival, your attempt at a casual smile falls miserably short of hitting the mark. 
“Hey,” you say softly, wondering if you look as drained as you feel. You had next to no rest last night, woken at 2 am when Dee had knocked on your bedroom door claiming she’d had a nightmare.
“I can’t sleep now,” she’d said tearfully, clutching her stuffed rabbit to her chest. It was a gift from Yoongi when she was small - something she’s always kept extra close whenever he’s away.
“You and and me both, bug,” you sighed, picking her up gently to take her back to bed.
Yoongi’s coat is still on as he watches you. He eyes the bag on your shoulder warily.
“Hi,” he says, his tone somewhat tentative. 
He knows something’s up.
“How was your flight?” you ask, your gaze skirting all over the place in an embarrassed bid to do anything but meet his eyes.
“Tiring,” Yoongi nods. “It’s good to be home.”
“I’m sure,” you hum.
It’s uncomfortable. Even Dee seems to sense it, burying her face in Yoongi’s stomach again. He settles a hand on the back of her head, but his eyes never once leave you.
“You aren’t staying,” he says slowly, and it falls just short of a question.
You shift your weight from one foot to the other, your fingers tightening around the strap of your duffel.
“I can’t. My family... they’re expecting me.”
“I thought you said you weren’t headed home until Monday now.”
Finally, your gaze shifts upwards to collide with his. It’s not like Yoongi to call you out, but he can sense there’s something awry here. You’ve never been so quick to head out before, always sticking around to put Dee to bed or discuss how she’d been while he was away. Yet here you are - practically two seconds away from shoulder-checking him against the doorframe in your haste to leave.
When you speak again your voice is quiet, but there’s something in your tone that implies you won’t be taking further questions.
“Thing’s change.”
Yoongi blinks. Unable to formulate a response fast enough, all he can do is watch as you lower yourself down to kiss Dee’s head, murmuring that you’ll see her soon. When you straighten up, the small, closed-lip smile you offer him is tinged with sadness. 
“Enjoy your Christmas, Yoongi,” you say before moving towards the open door.
“Y/N, wait -”
“I really have to go,” you sigh, pausing with your back to him.
“Evidently,” Yoongi nods. “But I need to talk to you first.”
“Can’t it wait?” you grit out.
“I’m afraid not.”
You’re at war with yourself when he tells Dee to go sit in the living room for a minute; too distracted to be surprised that she goes without a fuss. Clearly, your weird behaviour is more obvious than you thought. 
Yoongi ushers you wordlessly into the hallway, pulling the door closed behind you both. 
“Y/N,” he says in a low voice, fixing you with a look.
You raise your eyebrows at him.
“What?” you say, crossing your arms defensively. You wince internally at how stand-offish you sound, but Yoongi does little more than quirk a brow. He slides his hands into his pockets.
“Explain,” he says levelly. 
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“You do.”
“Yoongi -”
“You know exactly what I mean, and you’re taking advantage of the fact that I’m shit at reading people’s emotions,” he cuts across you, an underlying note of warning in his tone. “Talk to me, or I can assure you we won’t be ironing this out any time soon - whatever this is.”
You blink, momentarily taken aback that he managed to work that out so easily. Then again, maybe you shouldn’t be. Yoongi’s always made a habit of observing more than he speaks.
“Is it Dee?” he presses, raising his eyebrows expectantly.
“What?” You shake your head. “Why would it be Dee?”
“I’m just throwing out options here,” Yoongi raises his shoulders in a shrug. “Is it me?”
“Yoongi, please…”
“Okay, so it is me,” Yoongi nods. “Good. Now we’re getting somewhere. Tell me what I’ve done, and I’ll fix it.”
“Christ,” you mutter, raising a hand to massage your temples. 
Ever the businessman, Yoongi’s answer to everything is cut and dry. He locates the problem and he fixes it. He despises leaving things up in the air like this, and if you didn’t feel so sorry for yourself over the fact that he’s screwing his work colleague (or at the very least, will be in the near future), you’d almost feel guilty for doing it to him. 
It’s better this way, you remind yourself. This way, no one else gets hurt.
Unfortunately, your employer has a knack for throwing salt in the wound without even realising he’s doing it. 
“Is it the money?” he asks out of nowhere, ticking his head to the side to look at you. “If you feel I’m underpaying you for your time, all you have to do is say so, Y/N. I can’t read minds.”
You open your mouth, then close it again without saying anything. 
For the second time since meeting Yoongi, the force of his words make you feel like you’ve been physically slapped. You glance away as the familiar lump starts to form in your throat.
“You know what?” you choke out. “Forget it.” 
Yoongi’s eyebrows furrow slowly. “Y/N -”
“Tell Dee I said merry Christmas.”
With that, you turn on your heel and make for the elevator, your eyes blurry with tears as you punch desperately at the dial.
Yoongi doesn’t call after you. 
Last year
“I’m really not in the mood for this, Mina...” 
“Just one more round!” your friend begs, clasping her gloved hands together with a pout. “It’s unfair of you to waste your god given talents like this. I need that plushie, Y/N!”
You narrow your eyes at her, your expression largely hidden behind the chunky knit scarf which obscures half of your face. Christmas Pikachu smiles at you mockingly through the glass.
“Fine,” you cave eventually. “One round. And you’re paying.”
Mina claps her hands in delight before pulling her purse out, shoving her coins merrily into the slot.
Around you, the Christmas Eve fair is in full swing. It’s an annual event, complete with ice rink and arcade games, the food stalls crammed with families and friends who are practically rolling in the festive spirit - something you can’t quite bring yourself to get into the swing of this year. 
You haven’t spoken to Yoongi since you left his apartment a week ago, though admittedly, this was not for lack of trying on his end. He’s texted you twice so far - once to ask if you’d made it to your parents’ house okay, and a second time to let you know your overtime payment had been transferred to you. Which, in hindsight, might not sound like much if you didn’t know Min Yoongi like the back of your hand. Getting him to respond to his messages, let alone send one -first-, was nigh impossible if it wasn’t a matter of business.
“So…” says Mina, leaning her shoulder up against the glass as the claw machine whirrs to life. “You’re really just gonna keep ignoring him?”
“Are we still talking about this?” you hum, fiddling with the levers. 
“I just want to know where we’re going from here, babe. You were in bits when you called me the other night.”
You sigh heavily. “There’s nothing to discuss, Mi. He likes another woman. He’ll be dating her by the new year, if he’s not already. The only thing I can do is suck it up and move on.”
Mina nods slowly, watching your side profile. “And what about your job?”
You gnaw the inside of your cheek, hesitating for a moment. Your voice is tentative when you say, “I’ve been in touch with the agency.”
Mina straightens up. “Y/N…”
“Don’t,” you murmur, your eyes remaining fixed on the claw as it descends. “Please don’t lecture me. I know it’s not ideal, but they said there’s a couple of girls on book who can take my place on short notice. They also said they get an influx of requests for sitters around new year, so I shouldn’t be out of a job too long if I play my cards right.”
Your friend’s expression softens. She reaches out to touch a gloved hand to your forearm.
“You know I only want you to be happy, right?”
You nod stiffly. “I know.”
“And if resigning is going to make you happy, then I’ll be right behind you the whole way. It’s just…” she pauses, biting her lip gently. “I know how much you love that kid, Y/N. And I can only imagine how much she loves you. I don’t want to see you hurt.”
“I think it’s a bit late for that, Mi,” you mutter, just as the claw drops Christmas Pikachu an inch from the chute. “And I’m pretty sure this shit is rigged. Let’s move on.”
“Giving up so easily?” says a familiar voice behind you.
You freeze. 
Turning slowly, your stomach sinks at the sight of Yoongi hovering a few feet away. He stands with one hand in his pocket, the other clutched tightly around Dee’s mitted fingers. The dark feathers of his fringe stick out from beneath the woollen beanie on his head, and you can’t help the way your heart clenches up painfully at the sight.
“Y/N!” Dee exclaims, breaking away from her father to close the distance between you. 
You open your arms to her on autopilot, your breath catching in your throat when she wraps her arms around your middle. She rests her chin on your stomach, cheeks flushed and rosy from the cold as she looks up at you with imploring eyes. 
“Where have you been?” she says, showcasing the gap in her front teeth. “Uncle Joon’s had to pick me up from practice three times now, and he’s so much worse at it than you. He doesn’t even let me listen to the radio,” she adds sullenly. 
“I’m sorry, bug,” you say softly, placing a hand on her hat. It’s shaped like a panda head, complete with button eyes and two fluffy black ears. “I’ve been... busy.”
“Y/N,” Mina prompts, not unkindly. Her eyes flicker warily over to Yoongi. “Are you going to introduce us?”
“Uh - right. Sorry.” You clear your throat, gesturing vaguely between them. “Yoongi, this is Mina, my friend from college. Mina, this is Min Yoongi, my -” You cut yourself off, embarrassment coiling in your stomach. “Dee’s father,” you settle for in the end. 
Yoongi steps forward to shake Mina’s hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Mina hums, though her tone is sceptical at best. “I’ve heard so much about you.”
Yoongi nods. He steps back with hands in his pockets, and you fear another awkward silence might be coming on until he glances sideways at the grab machine. 
“Anything I can help with?” he says, raising his eyebrows.
If Mina is taken aback by the proposal, she doesn’t show it. She’s the complete opposite of you when it comes to social situations. (Meaning she’s actually good at them for the most part).
“Only if you’re better at this stupid game than Y/N,” she sighs forlornly, pressing her finger to the glass. “Christmas Pikachu won’t stop staring at me. Fancy taking a stab at it?”
Panicked by the prospect of being around Yoongi any longer than you have to be, you’re quick to wave her off. “Yeah, I really don’t think -”
“Sure,” Yoongi cuts across you with a shrug, already pulling his wallet out. “How much is it for a spin?”
Dumbfounded, you find yourself standing awkwardly on the sidelines as the three of them crowd around the claw machine. While Mina leans up against the glass with her arms folded, Dee jumps up and down on her toes, cheering her father on as he works the controls. Yoongi barely spares you a glance, already far too absorbed in beating the machine before his time runs out.
Not twenty seconds later, Dee is squealing with delight as Christmas Pikachu dives down the chute with three seconds to spare. 
“Woah!” Mina exclaims, dusting the plushie off as she examines him. “Nice skills. You learn that in business school?”
“Of course,” Yoongi blinks. “They’re big on the fundamentals.”
Mina snorts, but you know she’s not won over just yet. She holds Christmas Pikachu out to Dee.
 “There you go, kiddo. Consider it an early Christmas present, hm?”
Dee’s eyes go wide, her lips forming a surprised ‘o’ shape. 
“Really?” she says in a small voice.
Mina shrugs. “He’s all yours. I don’t really rate guys who play hard to get anyway.” 
She shoots a pointed smile at Yoongi, and you elbow her hard in the back.
None the wiser, Dee accepts the gift with a happy little noise, hugging it hard to her chest. “Cool!”
Yoongi places a gentle hand on her shoulder.
“What do we say?” he prompts.
You can feel your heart thawing when the little girl blushes, realising her error.
“Thank you,” she says shyly, looking down at her pink snow boots.
Mina pats her affectionately between the panda ears. “No problem, kiddo.”
“Right. Well.” You clap your hands together. “It was wonderful seeing you both, but we should be heading back now. Mina and I have a thing.”
Your friend quirks an eyebrow. “Do we?”
“Yes, we do,” you hiss through your teeth, and the message seems to go through. Turning back around, you open your arms to Dee. “Got a goodbye hug for me, bug?”
To your surprise, Dee doesn’t indulge you. Instead she shrinks back behind Pikachu until only her eyes are showing, big and round and hopeful. 
“Aren’t you going to watch me skate?” she says in a small voice, the question muffled by his fur.
Your heart sinks. -Of course,- you think. There’s an ice rink at the fair, and Dee never misses an opportunity to get on the ice. She also never forgets a pinkie promise, and you’ve sworn to her on several occasions that you’d always be there to support her if you could. 
Not about to break your word like that, you sigh inwardly before forcing a smile. 
“Of course I am, bug,” you breathe, straightening up. “But just one round, okay? Mina and I will be watching from over here -”
“Y/N,” Yoongi cuts across you softly. 
Startled, you meet his eyes. It’s the first time he’s addressed you properly since his arrival, and there’s an expression on his face that you’ve never seen before. He peers at you tentatively from beneath his bangs.
“I was actually hoping we could watch from over there,” he says, nodding to a cluster of secluded benches over by the hot chocolate stand. Clearly he’s trying not to make things weird in front of Dee, but you have no trouble picking up what he’s putting down. 
Yoongi wants to speak to you. Alone.
You open and close your mouth a few times as you try to come up with a subtle way to reject him but (as she seems to be so fond of doing these days) Mina beats you to the punch.
“What an excellent idea,” she says, a firm hand on your lower back. “Y/N and Yoongi can go be boring grown ups over there, and in the meantime -” she holds her hand out to Dee with a smile, “- us two will hit the ice and have some real fun.”
Dee flashes her gummy grin, her tongue poking out through the gap her missing tooth left behind as she accepts Mina’s hand. Your friend glances at Yoongi with raised eyebrows, waiting for permission. 
“Fine by me,” he shrugs. He flips his wallet open again, but Mina waves him off.
“Ah, ah, ah. You’re not the only one with money, Mr Marketing guy. This one’s on me.”
Yoongi snorts at that, but he doesn’t protest when Dee tugs both Mina and Christmas Pikachu off towards the ice rink. As he slots his wallet back into his pocket, your friend tosses you a supportive smile over her shoulder.
“Sorry about her,” you mutter, wrapping your arms around yourself. You stare at the frozen ground beneath your feet. “She can be a little… hard to please at first.”
“Don’t be,” Yoongi shrugs, like it’s the easiest thing in the world. “I’m actually glad I ran into you both.” 
“You are?”
He hums lowly in affirmation. “It’s been a while.”
You bite your lip in embarrassment, suddenly unsure of what to say. There’s not much point in trying to defend yourself. Both of you know you’ve been ignoring him, and the fact that Yoongi’s acting otherwise right now is a professional courtesy you definitely don’t deserve.
“Come.” He says, jerking his chin in the direction of the benches. “I’ll buy you a drink.” 
He’s already walking away when you look up, and you have little option but to follow. 
Yoongi gently insists that you take a seat while he queues for your drinks, and returns five minutes later with two mugs of mulled wine. You accept with a quiet thank you, raising your eyes at the saran-wrapped cookie he slips into his coat pocket.
“For Dee,” he explains. 
The two of you lapse into an extended quiet as the new skaters take to the rink. Dee and Mina appear together, laughing as Mina nearly stumbles over right off the bat. They appear to have pawned Christmas Pikachu off to a good-natured attendant, who lifts the plushie’s paw in a wave every time Dee passes by. 
You can’t pretend the sight doesn’t hurt your heart a little. Dee is easily one of the best things that’s ever happened to you, and the thought of not seeing her as much come the new year feels just as painful as the alternative. 
You sip your drink, keeping your eyes glued to her even when Yoongi clears his throat. 
“So,” he says.
“Did I do something wrong, or?”
“N-no? Why would you think that?” you try.
Yoongi pins you with a look.
“Seriously?” he says, though his tone is not unkind. “You’ve been ignoring my texts for a week now. Dee said she emailed you an invite to her New Year's showcase and you still haven’t got back to her. She got Juliet by the way.”
You smile ruefully at your lap, thumbing at the rim of your mug. “I knew she would,” you say quietly.
Yoongi watches your side profile carefully. 
“Y/N,” he says, and you know there’s no wriggling out of it when he takes that tone. “Whatever it was I did, I can’t make it better unless you tell me what’s wrong. You know I’m not good at this stuff.”
You sigh, your breath spiralling upwards in a cloud of white. At this point, you feel utterly defeated. 
“Would it be cliche to say it’s not you, it’s me?”
“Then I’m sorry,” you shrug. “It’s the best I’ve got right now.”
Yoongi stares at you a while longer, his expression carefully blank. Then he turns back to the ice rink.
The pair of you sit in loaded silence for a few moments.
“So that’s it?” 
You shrug. “That’s it.”
Yoongi leans back in his seat. He says nothing.
You’re acutely aware that anyone passing by right now would think you’re a couple. You certainly look the part - sitting side by side in comfortable silence, watching your daughter having fun on the rink. And maybe in another life, in some alternate dimension, that’s exactly what you are. Just the three of you, with no hang-ups or baggage or strings attached. No complications. Just happy.
You almost jump out of your skin when Yoongi speaks again.
“You remember when you sent me that nude by accident?”
You choke a little on your mulled wine, your hand flying to your mouth.
“I - it wasn’t a nude!” you exclaim.
You stare over at him with wide eyes, but Yoongi keeps his gaze firmly on the ice rink.
“I blew up at you over the phone afterwards because I felt guilty,” he goes on, his voice a low murmur. “I don’t think I ever told you that.”
Your eyebrows pull together in confusion. “Why would you feel guilty?” you mutter. “I sent it, not you.”
Yoongi shakes his head minutely, still not looking at you. “The timing was all wrong. It was the anniversary of my wife’s death, and I was… I was confused.” His Adam’s apple bobs when he swallows. “I felt like I was disrespecting both of you at once. It fucked with my head.”
“I’m sorry, Yoongi,” you murmur.
“How many times are you going to apologise for my misgivings?” he says forcefully, and you shut up immediately at his tone. “You’ve done more for Dee in the past year than any school teacher or single parent support service has managed to achieve in five. You cook meals for her, watch every single one of her practices even though you don’t have to, and read to her in those stupid voices she’s always begging me to do.” You chuckle wetly at that. “Not to mention her confidence has shot up from having a woman around the house. She misses you like crazy now that you’re not around.”
“I miss you like crazy.”
You freeze. He’s looking at you dead in the eyes now, and his gaze is burning.
You flinch when something touches your hand, your throat constricting when you glance down to find Yoongi’s fingers wrapping tightly around yours.
“Come back to us,” he implores softly.
“I don’t think I can,” you whisper, your voice thick with unshed tears.
“Because I love you.”
The silence seems to stretch on forever. Your heart beats in your throat. 
When Yoongi retracts his hand, your heart shatters into a million pieces all over again.
“I love you, and you’re in love with someone else,” you say, cursing yourself when your bottom lip starts to tremble. You turn your face away, unable to meet his eyes as you continue. “I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t have been snooping, but I was looking for a hiding spot for Dee’s presents, and then the necklace fell out and… and when we called you Sofie was there, and Dee let slip that she’d been at the apartment to see you so I put two and two together, and I felt so awful, Yoongi... I felt awful that you’re trying to start this thing with someone new, and here I am wishing it was me instead. It’s not fair. It’s not fair to you, and it’s not fair to Dee.” You scrub the sleeve of your jacket under your eye. “You deserve to be happy. Dee deserves to see you happy.”
For a man known for being chronically unreadable, every emotion under the sun seemes to flicker over Yoongi’s face in that moment. Eventually, he settles on utterly bewildered.
“Shit,” he breathes. 
You laugh sardonically. “Yeah.”
“You... love me,” he says flatly.
“Please don’t make me repeat all that.”
He swallows. “And you found the necklace.”
“That’s what I said, yes.”
“The necklace for Sofie.”
You glare at him. “Are you trying to rub it in? Yes the necklace for Sofie.”
“Right.” Yoongi nods. “Just to clarify -”
“- Oh for god’s sake.-”
“- You mean this necklace, right?”
You pause mid-sentence when he pulls the box from his pocket, before narrowing your tearful eyes at him.
“I - Why on earth are you carrying it around with you?”
He thumbs over the ribbon gently, resting the box in his lap as he peers down at it.
“Dee and I are headed to her grandparents’ after the fair,” he hums. “I shoved it in my pocket because I was planning on returning it tomorrow.”
Your eyes flicker up to meet his face. 
“Why?” you dare to ask.
“Because last time I saw the girl I intended to give it to, it was as if she couldn’t even stand to look at me. How could I think I stood a chance after that?”
“Yoongi... what are you talking about?”
He passes you the box. “Open it.”
“I’ve already seen -”
Yoongi pins you with a deadpan look. “I won’t ask twice, Y/N.”
You open the box, and the necklace stares back at you. Even though you’ve seen it before, it’s delicate beauty still steals your breath away. 
“Look inside,” he prompts.
Tentatively, you do as you’re told, snapping open the silver locket with gentle care. It takes a few seconds for your brain to compute the image inside, but when you do, you’re clapping a hand over your mouth to muffle the pathetic sound you make. 
There, in the left hand side of the locket, is a picture of you, Yoongi and Dee, snapped by Taehyung shortly after that first skating competition you ever attended. You’re crouching at the side of the rink with your hands on Dee’s shoulders as she holds up her medal, the two of you grinning like idiots. A little further back in the shot Yoongi leans against the railings, his eyes fixated on the pair of you with an uncharacteristically soft expression on his face.
Your heart thuds dully when you realise he’s smiling. 
Your gaze shifts over to the inscription on the other side of the locket, written in simplistic cursive.
Because of you, I have something to hold on to.
Abruptly, your vision blurs with fresh tears.
“I don’t understand,” you croak.
Yoongi shrugs, leaning back against the bench. “What is there to understand?” 
“I… When did you even -?”
You look at him through wet eyes. 
“Paris was three months ago,” you whisper. 
He nods once, decisively. “I figured if I could make it to December without losing my nerve, then the timing would be right.”
You hold each other’s gaze. 
“You want... me?”
“Do you see anyone else here?” 
“But Sofie -”
“Is happily engaged, and came over to the apartment a grand total of once because she was phenomenally behind in her reports and needed the help. I have no interest in her,” he says frankly. “You on, the other hand, are pretty much all I’ve been able to think about for the past year.”
You sniff thickly, shaking your head. “I’m sorry, but I think you’re going to have to spell it out for me. I tend to read these things completely wrong, and I don’t want -”
“I’m in love with you, and you’re in love with me,” Yoongi states plainly. He nods towards the necklace. “Are you going to put that on at any point or just sit there blubbering over it?”
“Can’t we just have a moment for once?” you sob.
“I’m sorry, what else have we been doing for the past five minutes? All these emotions are exhausting me now. Please just put the necklace on so I can kiss you.”
Your eyebrows tug together pathetically. 
“You want to kiss me?”  
He rolls his eyes. “No not really, I just said that for dramatic effect.”
“Yoongi- mmph!”
You’re cut off when he slides his hands around your waist, tugging you forward to meet his lips. His mouth moves over yours softly, as if you’re something precious, and you practically melt into him. Placing a shy hand on his chest, you shudder as a languid heat seeps through every fibre of your being.
Your mind seems to still as the two of you kiss amidst the frigid night-time, and when you break apart a fraction your mingled breath is warm between you. Then Yoongi’s lips are at the corner of your mouth, and on your cheek, and your jaw, and finally hovering gently by the shell of your ear, causing shivers of anticipation to run through you.
“Listen closely, because I’m only going to say this once,” he whispers. “There is never a time when I don’t want to kiss you. I drive myself crazy just looking at you. You’re simultaneously the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen and the stupidest woman I’ve ever known because you have absolutely no idea what you do to me.” You bite down hard on your lip, eyes fluttering closed as he presses you closer against his chest. “You’re all I want, every second of the day. You’re it for me, Y/N.”
You feel overcome. The tears have barely ceased, but already you feel like you might start choking on sobs again. 
Unsure of how else to express how much his words mean to you, you wrap your arms around his neck and hug him.
“Say you love me again,” you whisper.
“Do I have to?” he murmurs back, holding you close.
“I love you.” 
“I love you.”
You hold him tighter, turning your face into his neck. “I love you too.”
“Mm. I think we established that earlier when you were -”
“Don’t think I won’t still throttle you,” you whisper softly against his pulse.
You can’t see it, but this time can practically feel him smiling.
You’re not sure how long you stay like that, wrapped up in one another’s embrace as the Heavens open up and a light snow begins to fall, but you can only assume it’s been a while. By the time Dee returns with Mina and Christmas Pikachu, she’s somehow acquired a tub of cotton candy. 
“Why are you crying?” she says through a mouthful of finely-spun sugar, totally nonplussed. 
“Hay fever,” you and Yoongi respond at the same time, quick to extricate yourselves from one another when you realise you’re no longer alone. Yoongi clears his throat awkwardly, his cheeks visibly pink beneath the overhead lights. 
“It’s December,” Dee hums.
Her father pins her with the look. “No one likes a smartass, kid.”
Mina smirks, her eyes flitting shrewdly between the pair of you. 
“All good?” she says.
You and Yoongi steal a shy glance at one another. 
“I think so,” he hums, the corner of his lips curving upwards slightly. 
When he slips his gloved fingers between yours two minutes later, with Dee skipping a few feet ahead of you belting Christmas carols and the cool touch of his locket against your heart, you know without a shadow of a doubt that he was right. This winter miracle - this strange new family you’ve built for yourselves - has finally given you something worth holding on to.
3K notes · View notes
cinnaminsvga · 8 months ago
a love that endures | Yoongi
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→ summary: 
“Oh come on! Just go say hi to him already,” Seokjin huffs. He wiggles his eyebrows, striking you with the urge to shave them off in retaliation. “I could feel your ‘God, I miss his dick’ vibes from across the room!”
“I do not emit dick thirst vibes,” you respond hotly, swatting him in the tit. You pause, considering. “Wait, but do you think he misses my p—”
“Say no more,” Seokjin interrupts, a wicked smirk gracing his lips. His gaze is fixed somewhere behind you, but you have a sinking suspicion you know why he looks like he’s won the lottery. “Speaking of the devil, look who’s coming over to say hello!”
{or alternatively: Yoongi and Y/N. Y/N and Yoongi. High school sweethearts that were never meant to last, until a reunion ten years later manages to reignite a flame that never quite burnt out.} 
→ genre: high school reunion!au, exes to lovers, fluff, humor, minor angst → warnings: shy!yoongi and shy!oc live rent free in my brain, mutual pining is poggers, hoseok and seokjin aren’t evil for once in a cinnaminsvga fic, implied smut so it’s pg-13 because i’m a wimp → words: 14.4K → a/n: SHE’S ALIVE!! this is dedicated to @himbeaux-joon​ who commissioned this piece ages ago. thank you again for requesting this because this was honestly so much fun to write. i’ve been in a bit of writing slump these past few weeks but this fic came out so easily and got way longer than expected (perhaps because it’s about yoongi and he’s always been the easiest one to write for me). enjoy!! ;o;
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The mere sight of him is enough to knock the wind out of you.
Your body freezes, the hand curled around your paper cup filled with punch tightening ever so slightly. It isn’t like you’re surprised that he came; you aren’t supposed to be. Of course, you should have expected his arrival, but you’ve been hoping all night that he might have been too busy to attend.
He isn’t even on time—it has almost been two hours since the event started and you had been filled with a false hope that perhaps he had RSVP’d and decided he couldn’t make it. 
You had seen Hoseok, his best friend from your younger days, standing outside the entrance of the ballroom before they had started letting people in. The moment Hoseok saw you, he immediately came over to sweep you into a tight hug, his infectious laughter ringing in your ears. He had greeted you happily, expressing how much he missed you since high school, but never once bringing up the elephant in the room.
It wasn’t like you were going to bring him up first. No, that would be weird on your part. Nevermind the fact that going to high school reunions was a recipe for reliving past traumas and seeing all your childhood friends either married or pregnant—you weren’t going to be that person who asked where their ex was. You refused to be the person craning their neck to spy on the entrance every two minutes, hoping to catch sight of an old familiar face.
The problem is that you are that person, and you kind of hate yourself for it. However, it is also the reason why you are probably the only person in the entire ballroom who notices his quiet arrival.
He has never liked causing commotions, which is often apparent from the way he conducts himself. He walks into the room just as a loud round of applause breaks out; an old schoolmate of yours is walking up to the podium, probably the person who had arranged the get-together in the first place. It is a perfect distraction for him as he slinks past the door, keeping near the wall so as not to be seen by anyone just yet.
(Except he has been seen—he just doesn’t know it yet.)
You do not know for how long you stare at him, just that it takes you a moment to realize you haven’t taken a breath since he stepped foot into the same space as you. You take a deep, shuddering breath, forcing your racing heartbeat to calm down. You swallow thickly, throat so unbearably dry that even drinking from your lukewarm cup of punch doesn’t seem to do anything.
But the undeniable truth is there, standing only a few meters away from you, and nothing on earth will be able to wash away the nerves flooding through your system.
After ten years of radio silence, Min Yoongi is in your orbit once again.
In the grand scheme of things, ten years wasn’t all that long. Four years in university had passed by in a blur, and the absolute chaos that ensued right after you graduated as you scrambled to secure a job and move out of your hometown had made the days seem shorter than they actually were. You had not even noticed that time was passing until you found that cream envelope waiting for you one day after work, your alma mater’s school crest painfully recognizable even after all these years.
During all that time, the world around you shifted without you noticing, and that meant people were changing too.
Yoongi is 28 now. And so are you, after many months of denial. You have not seen each other since you were both 18—both of you far too young to know about any of the things you would experience in the next ten years.
He might have grown a little taller since then, something you are sure that your brother will find amusing. His hair isn’t dyed like you remembered, as he has opted to keep it his natural dark black that you have not seen since you were both in middle school. It’s styled differently too: combed over and gelled back, with his bangs pushed back and his forehead exposed. When he turns his head to the side, a gasp spills past your lips before you can stop it.
“Is that a fucking undercut?” you mutter in shock, your eyes straining out of their sockets as you try to drink him in. Even under the dim lighting of the ballroom, his new haircut is hard to miss. No one else seems to be undergoing the same mental collapse as you, judging by how everyone’s attention is still fixated on the person speaking at the podium. How the hell is no one else losing their fucking minds to the sight of Min Yoongi with a fucking undercut? Some questions are impossible to answer, you surmise.
When you decided to attend the reunion, you had not once thought about how Yoongi would look like. Somehow, you had developed this stagnant picture of him in your head, even after all these years. To you, he will always be the boy with the stark blonde hair, the mismatched eyelids, the pouty lips, the dumpling cheeks. He is the boy who can’t wear his own contact lenses to save his life, the boy who sometimes wears his favorite leather jacket to sleep, the boy who only drinks Americanos like it was water.
Gone are those days, you realize. That image of him has been smashed to pieces, instead replaced by this dashing (and incredibly hot) man—a stranger. A stranger with unbleached (and healthy) hair, a jawline sharp enough to cut glass. He has his glasses kept away, and there is no leather jacket in sight.
But you can see him, if you look hard enough. The same spark in his eye, the same curve of his lips. You catch him smiling for a second, and his cheeks still puff up like dough. Maybe it’s just hopeless thinking, but you see him. It’s still him. To you, he will always be your 18-year-old Min Yoongi, the one who would greet you with a sweet kiss on the forehead every time you would—
Raucous applause breaks you from your train of thought, and you blink rapidly in surprise. You have to forcibly pull yourself out of your Yoongi-induced trance, clapping alongside everyone without really knowing what was going on. All of the extra noise sounds like buzzing in your ears, especially when it is drowned out by the roar of your blood rushing to your head all at once.
“Once again, I’d like to thank you all for coming tonight. We will begin the program right after dinner, so please feel free to help yourselves to the buffet! Cheers everyone!” You faintly hear your old schoolmate speak, before her voice is quickly overrun by the commotion of people walking over to the extravagant display of food. It takes a moment for the crowd of heads to disperse, so when you can finally look back to where you last saw Yoongi, he is no longer alone.
Hoseok has his arm slung around Yoongi, his infectious laughter loud enough to be heard over clinking plates and silverware. The two are as different as night and day, with Hoseok practically bouncing from excitement and Yoongi rolling his eyes from annoyance. But it is easy to see that his pout is nothing but a ruse; you can already catch the beginnings of a smile tugging at his lips.
You feel your own seams breaking, unwittingly sporting a grin of your own. It is nice to know that Yoongi hasn’t been alone all this time, that he still seems close with his old best friend. You cannot count the number of friendships that you have lost over time, and you still grieve many of them during your quiet moments. Alas, it was often never even anyone’s fault, the strains of adulthood often being the biggest deal breakers in your relationships.
That is, of course, except for one.
“Enjoying yourself? I didn’t think we’d share the same voyeuristic tendencies,” says a voice, creeping up behind you. Now, normal people would not usually expect other sane people to invade your personal space and breathe directly into your ear, but that’s just your humble opinion. What you do know is that one certain individual enjoys breaking the mold when it comes to societal norms, and it is none other than…
“Jesus fucking Christ!” You shriek, nearly sucker-punching the offending degenerate in the face. You hold back your fist from connecting with his face, but your resulting irritation remains. Whether that irritation is because you regret holding back or not will unfortunately also have to remain unanswered. “Oh God, it’s you.”
“Oh, no need for that. Most people usually call me Seokjin,” he snickers, thoroughly enjoying your flushed face. Kim Seokjin pats you on the shoulder, his trademark “pretty boy” smile still as radiant as you remembered. It does nothing to quell your urge to raise your fists again, however. “Hello, Y/N. Fancy seeing you here!”
“The feeling is not mutual,” you snort. Much like how Yoongi was with Hoseok, your derision is nothing but a rouse. As much as you want to kick Seokjin in the nuts, you also cannot ignore how much you want to hug him the slimy bastard—but you definitely will not be the first one to admit it. So like the tsundere that you are, you decide to insult him instead. “Why are you here? You’re not even from this class. Don’t you have other things to do? Or rather, people to do?”
“My heart! You wound me,” he gasps, grasping his chest as though he’d been shot. “How could you say that to your best friend in the entire world? Don’t you know how much I missed you?”
“Easy. I do it because the only other alternative would lead me straight to prison,” you shrug, but your grin betrays you.
This time, you don’t jolt away when he closes in for a hug. “And I guess I miss you too,” you say, your words slightly muffled into his chest. Like always, he sees through your prickly act because as much as you like to pretend, Kim Seokjin is kind of amazing—loose bolts and all.
“It’s nice to know that your tongue hasn’t lost its edge, though I suppose I wouldn’t be intimately knowledgeable in that area. After all, I still am very much a raging homosexual and pussy isn’t really my forte,” Seokjin guffaws, his volume causing a few nearby guests to raise their heads in alarm.
You bow at them, sheepishly apologizing on his behalf before grabbing him by the collar.
“Will you stop being embarrassing for just one second? I swear, I thought I retired from my babysitting job when I graduated high school,” you hiss, but the way his mouth curls up with mischief is answer enough. God, you missed this son of a bitch.
“Unfortunately for you, being a pest is part of my DNA,” he smirks, carefully plucking your hands off from his neck, as though your nails were not mere inches away from ripping his trachea into pieces. “Though, I am offended by your assumption that I am still the same slut that you knew. I’ve grown up a little, you know! I’m a changed man!”
“Oh, please. Don’t tell me you of all people have settled down,” you laugh, not missing the way Seokjin’s perfectly stenciled brow raises slightly.
“I know we haven’t seen each other since Christmas, but come on Y/N! You of all people should be applauding me for my improved behavior! You must have noticed how much I changed when I visited.”
“When you visited me last Christmas, you immediately insulted my taste in kitchen towels, went on Grindr to find a hookup despite my numerous pleas, and promptly desecrated my guest bedroom that no housekeeper or priest is willing to exorcise to this day,” you gag, shuddering at the memory. “And then you ate all my ice cream and proceeded to clog my toilet!”
“Um? Aren’t you forgetting that I also bought you that dress you wanted? Rude,” Seokjin retorts, not the least bit remorseful. “Well, that’s what you get for agreeing to be my best bitch for life. You know that I take pinky promises very seriously.”
Unfortunately, he does take his promises seriously. It is probably the only thing he’ll ever be serious about, as much as the man enjoys parading his depravity. “Okay, whatever. I’ll bite. Who’s the unlucky man you’ve managed to deceive into a relationship?”
“Oh, it’s someone we both used to know. I’m his plus one for tonight,” he says, supplying you with the most useless non-answer imaginable.
“Seokjin. We’re at a high school reunion. We know everyone here. That could be anyone!” you exclaim.
“Well, isn’t that fun? Then we can do a scavenger hunt!” Seokjin grins, clapping his hands together excitedly. He pulls you in front of him, forcing the two of you to survey the crowd. “Okay, hold your arm out like this—” After a few seconds of you failing to resist him, he manages to get you to unfurl your finger as if you were about to order something from the dollar menu at McDonalds. Unfortunately for you, the tall twink is stronger than he appears. “—and just keep pointing around until I tell you that you’re getting warmer!”
“Seokjin, I don’t think this is very—” you start, but Seokjin is already moving your arm for you. Like a hurricane, Kim Seokjin listens to no one but his own homewrecking whims.
“Park Chanyeol? Close, but not really. You should know that I don’t double dip with past flings,” he says, shifting you to the left. “Kim Namjoon? Now that’s a hunk of meat that I wish I’d taken a bite of, but unfortunately he’s as straight as a ruler. Pass,” he hums, continuing to move you bit by bit.
You’re both getting uncomfortably close to where Yoongi is, and Seokjin doesn’t appear to be stopping any time soon. You did notice that Yoongi had come dateless to the reunion (a fact, by the way, that you did not rejoice over when you had noticed), but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s single. You have known Seokjin for more than a decade at this point, and despite your odd friendship, you are sure that he would never do anything to hurt you on purpose.
Though, that does beg the question… How far does his dick thirst really go? Maybe you’ll finally find out today.
“Warmer, getting warmer…” Seokjin inches you closer and closer to where Yoongi is standing. You feel frozen in his grasp, unsure if you wanted to know anymore. If Seokjin really is dating Yoongi, then what? It’s not like you were dating him anyway… What difference does it make if it’s Seokjin?
(It makes all the difference, but you refuse to think about it.)
“Nope, not Wonho... A little bit to the left… Bingo!” Seokjin declares, stopping your finger right on— “No, Y/N! Stop moving! You’ve gone too far to the wall! I was pointing at him.”
“H-Hoseok? You’re dating Hoseok?!” You squeak, an avalanche of relief flooding through you. You don’t even have the energy to pretend to be composed as your entire body starts untensing involuntarily, your shoulders slumping as though a weight has been lifted from you. “Why couldn’t you have just told me like a normal person? Why must everything be tortuous and dramatic when it comes to you?”
“I am a naturally insufferable and theatrical person. Sue me,” he shrugs, greatly enjoying the exhausted look on your face. “What? Were you actually scared that I was dating your sloppy seconds? What do you think I am? An asshole?”
You stare at him. “Is that a rhetorical question?”
Seokjin scoffs. “If I wanted to get roasted, I would approach two tops at a gay bar.” He pauses. “Wait, are you seriously not going to congratulate me for finally snagging a boy who has a functioning moral compass?”
“Define ‘snagging.’ Did you, like, tie him up and blackmail him to become your boyfriend like those terrible One Direction Wattpad fanfics, or—” You stop halfway, giggling at your friend’s unamused pout. “Okay, okay. Yes, Seokjin. I am very proud of you. Congrats on finally becoming an adult. Your hoe days are over.”
“Who said they were over?” He snorts. Noticing your alarm, Seokjin rolls his eyes in exasperation. “Oh, don’t give me that look! I’m not into infidelity and you know that. I just meant that I’m still a hoe with significantly fewer options.”
“How did that even happen in the first place?” you say, jabbing your thumb in Hoseok’s direction. Thankfully, the man in question is still busy talking to Yoongi, though you don’t know for how much longer. If Seokjin isn’t lying, then there’s a high chance they’re going to walk over to say hi and you’re not sure if you’re mentally prepared to go through the five stages of grief all over again.
“Believe me, I’m surprised as well. I started dating Hoseok after he asked me for help with his sister’s wedding gift. He asked me to help arrange an itinerary for her sister’s honeymoon in America,” Seokjin explains with a dreamy smile. He sighs, holding a hand up to his chest. You can physically see the heart emojis circling his head like a halo. “We hit it off from there and dare I say… Not only is he the only person who can keep up with my high maintenance lifestyle, but dear Lord, he could totally be recruited into the NDA for his astounding dick game—”
“Ever heard of TMI? Gross,” you interrupt, your face crumpling in disgust. You shove him away when his loud cackles start rattling your eardrums.
“You were scared though, right?” he says through his giggles. “When you thought that I was dating Yoongi?”
Of course Seokjin had noticed your mini-mental breakdown, judging from the shit-eating grin on his face.
“N-no,” you stutter, but your heated cheeks and averted gaze give you away. “E-either way, I wouldn’t have cared if you did!” you say. You know, like a liar.
“I bet you don’t care that Yoongi got significantly hotter in the past ten years too, huh?” Seokjin teases, snickering loudly. Under the harsh lighting of the fluorescent chandelier lights, you might have mistaken the boy in front of you for the devil instead of your best friend of almost twenty years.
“I sincerely rue the day I introduced myself to you in the third grade,” you hiss, sipping from your cup to hide your humiliation.
“Aww, you’re so cute when you’re all embarrassed,” Seokjin coos, pinching your cheeks with the gentleness of an ape. You slap his hand away, unable to think of any retort.
“Cat got your tongue? You didn’t even deny it when I accused you,” Seokjin laughs. He claps his hands jovially, acting as though he’s enjoying a show at the circus. Given your performance tonight, that statement isn’t all that far from reality.
“I don’t need to defend myself from you,” you say, puffing your cheeks indignantly. “I just… think he looks handsome. Is that illegal or something?”
“Certainly not. Though, you might want to dial down the pining a teensy bit,” he singsongs. “That’s how I found you in the first place. I sensed your pining from a mile away and came as soon as I could!”
“I wasn’t pining!” you exclaim. “I was just… admiring the plant beside him.”
“Right, sure,” Seokjin says, arching an eyebrow in challenge. You feel your hackles rising at his smug expression, your ‘Seokjin-is-about-to-ruin-your-life’ alarm ringing in your ears. “So, you wouldn’t mind if I brought you over there to say hello? After all, my boyfriend is over there and as much as I enjoy pestering you, I also want to be with him very much.”
You whistle lowly, impressed. “Wow, that’s actually kind of sweet of you.”
“Yes, I know. Kim Seokjin’s heart grew three sizes that day, yada yada yada.” Seokjin says sarcastically, but his lovesick smile ruins the effect. When he opens his mouth once more, the mirage instantly disappears. “But you would understand if you saw how much he’s packing—”
“Shut up, I didn’t ask—”
“Fine, then let’s ask the man himself! Besides, you know you’re being ridiculous, right?” Seokjin tuts, annoyed. He fixes you with a glare, making you feel like a scolded child. “It’s just Yoongi. You and I both know he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body and probably would love to see you after so long.”
You wave your hands around helplessly, almost sloshing your drink onto a nearby bystander. After muttering a meek apology at your harried classmate, you turn back to Seokjin with a defeated sigh.
You know that he’s right, and you absolutely hate him for it. “Jinnie, I’m a mess! I can hardly think with Yoongi standing meters away from me, much less if he were to stand right in front of me! I’m just going to embarrass myself,” you lament, holding your head in your hand.
“That’s true. You will definitely embarrass yourself,” Seokjin hums, nodding sagely. He shrugs his shoulders. “All the more reason we should do it. Relax, I’ll be your wingman like old times! All we have to do is remind him of all the fantastic, mind-blowing coitus you had in your youth and he’ll be a goner for sure.”
“If by goner, you mean he’ll be gone from my life permanently this time, then you’re right,” you groan. You have a half a mind to dump the remainder of your disgusting punch all over his expensive Bottega Veneta coat, though you also don’t want to spend the next three months receiving packaged turds from Seokjin in your mailbox. “Please, just let me suffer in silence for the remainder of the night, okay? Is that really too much to ask?”
“Oh come on! Just go say hi to him already,” Seokjin huffs. He wiggles his eyebrows, striking you with the urge to shave them off in retaliation. “I could feel your ‘God, I miss his dick’ vibes from across the room!”
“I do not emit dick thirst vibes,” you respond hotly, swatting him in the tit. You pause, considering. “Wait, but do you think he misses my p—”
“Say no more,” Seokjin interrupts, a wicked smirk gracing his lips. His gaze is fixed somewhere behind you, but you have a sinking suspicion you know why he looks like he’s won the lottery. “Speaking of the devil, look of who’s coming over to say hello!”
Swiveling around, you see that your intuition is right: Yoongi and Hoseok are swiftly making their way through the crowd, one of them appearing to be more enthusiastic than the other. You swallow thickly, your palms growing damp as they get closer to where the two of you stand.
"Seokjin, we gotta go!" you hiss, but your panic goes largely ignored as your best friend leaves you to envelop his lover in a dramatic embrace.
The two men exchange teary and heartfelt touches, acting as if they had been separated by years of war instead of the meager minutes they had spent apart to greet their long-time friends.
"My honeybunch! Oh, how I've missed you so much!" Seokjin cries, nuzzling his nose into Hoseok's neck. You might have mistaken him for a vampire with how aggressively he sniffs Hoseok's skin. Had Seokjin been 5% more unhinged, you do not doubt that he might have started suckling on his boyfriend like a leech.
"Oh, hyung. It's barely been an hour, but why does it feel like it has been forever?" Hoseok sighs forlornly, jaw clenching as though he's in pain. He croaks out a sob, lifting Seokjin in the air and spinning him around. "My love, let us never part again!"
You take a few steps away from them, trying to make it apparent to all the bewildered onlookers that you have nothing to do with homosexual Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
"What kind of shitty production is this? I want my money back," you murmur, fake-gagging behind the two of them. The lovesick fools pay no mind to your disgust; in fact, they seem to relish in it. Their efforts double, their theatrical kissy-smoochy sound effects causing goosebumps to form on your arms. "Seriously, I've had enough of this and I've only been forced to witness it for two seconds."
"Tell me about it," says a voice to your left. Startled, you nearly let out a shocked gasp when you realize that Yoongi had found his way by your side, his own disgusted gaze fixed on the bumbling buffoons still lost in their world. He glances at you for a second, quirking his lips into a small smile. "Hey, Y/N."
In just six words, Min Yoongi manages to make time grind to a halt. You gape at him, your brain ceasing in function. It takes you a full minute to realize that the man standing beside you is not a figment of your imagination. You had been so caught up in the absurdity of the situation that for a moment you had forgotten that Yoongi is a real person.
It's Yoongi, your first love. The person you haven't seen or spoken to in years. The man who has haunted your dreams for over a decade. He's standing right beside you, and he's smiling at you. He's here, he's hot, and he's saying hello.
Like the incredibly eloquent and profound person that you are, you reply: "Yellow!"
You had meant to say "Yoongi, hello!" like a normal person, but your brain had amalgamated your words during its rebooting process. And so, you are left standing there silently, frozen by your embarrassment. You swear you can hear a pin drop as you beg for the earth to swallow you whole.
Unfortunately for you, the floor remains painfully tangible beneath your feet, forcing you to clear your throat and expound on your mystifying exclamation. Yoongi watches you with curious eyes, patiently waiting for you to speak.
"W-what I meant to say is, uh," you stammer, your cheeks heating up to an alarming degree. "Those yellow streamers are pretty tacky, don't you think?"
Nice one. In terms of comebacks, you would personally give yourself a C for effort. (Note: C stands for "Can I please shove a fist up my ass and crabwalk the fuck out of here?")
Yoongi contemplates the tacky decorations in question, nodding in agreement. "Yeah, I guess. They pretty much look like the stuff we'd make in elementary school during Arts and Crafts." He points to your mutual friends, grimacing in annoyance. "Them, on the other hand? No child should ever come into contact with those heathens."
"You're right," you snort, shaking your head.
There is a long and awkward pause. Yoongi clears his throat, swaying from side to side while staring at his shoes. You aren't any better, twiddling your thumbs as you will your cheeks to stop flushing. Your senses are practically screaming at you to run away and hide forever, but your limbs feel disjointed from the rest of you.
It's like we're at the zoo on a date and the monkeys won't stop fucking each other, your mind unhelpfully supplies, offering you an image that will permanently make its home on the backs of your eyelids.
Desperate to break the silence, eventually you say, "Hey, Yoongi—"
Right at the same time, Yoongi says, "Hey, Y/N—"
Another pause, but this one is slightly less tense. The two of you share a nervous laugh, though yours sounds a little bit more hysterical. You motion for him to speak first.
"I, uh... wanted to say that you look great. Yeah. Like, you haven't aged a day at all. N-not to say that I don't think you've matured or..." Yoongi stumbles over his words, his voice cracking.
Instead of feeling relieved that he's just as nervous as you, his anxiety only exacerbates your own. There's a reason you have never been good at public speaking, and this is a good example of why:
"No! I get what you mean, don't worry about it," you laugh, on the verge of a mental breakdown. What the fuck is this conversation, even? "You look exactly the same too. Umm... Of course, except for the, uh, hair?"
"Oh, you mean the gray hairs?"
"No, no! Of course not! I m-meant your hair looks really hot—I mean good! It looks GOOD," you repeat, frantically emphasizing the last bit. You had instinctively panicked, your voice rising in pitch.  If your cheeks weren't flaming hot already, then they're definitely redder than Seokjin's ass after a Friday night of fun.
The apples of Yoongi's cheek match your own flustered state, though you can imagine that you’re probably at least a hundred times worse. “Well, thank you. I was actually feeling self-conscious about my hair, so hearing that from you is really… nice,” he says, brushing his hair shyly. “I’m kinda done with bright colored hair for now, so seeing my hair in its natural state is still kind of weird.”
“I seriously doubt that Y/N was talking about your hair color, Yoongi,” Hoseok interjects, magically reappearing behind you when you don’t notice. You flinch in surprise, causing him to let out a hearty chuckle at your jumpiness. It seems that today is “Let’s scare the living shit out of Y/N” day with how many people have crept up on you in just one night.
Beside him, Seokjin looks like a bomb ready to explode, his fist jammed up his mouth to keep his guffaws from slipping out. “God, this is even better than the cringe compilations I watch on Youtube,” he wheezes, wiping a stray tear.
“Don’t be so mean to them, hyung! Don’t mind him,” Hoseok says to you, bowing apologetically. He smiles cherubically at Yoongi. “See, Yoongi? I told you that Y/N is even hotter up close!”
“God, fucking kill me,” you hear Yoongi groan.
“So, have you guys caught up yet, or have you just been fumbling around each other like a couple of horny teenagers?” Seokjin snickers, narrowly avoiding your heel stomping his foot.
“We’ve only just said hello. Leave us alone, jackass,” you huff.
“Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you? Well, Hoseok and I can go on our merry ways if you wish—”
“Yoongi! Did you tell Y/N about your work back in Seoul? I bet she’d love to hear about it,” Hoseok interrupts smoothly, saving you from further embarrassment (courtesy of his infuriating goblin of a boyfriend.)
You blink in surprise, turning to the man in question. “You live in Seoul now? Did you move there after finishing university?” you ask.
“Well,” Yoongi starts, clearing his throat. He’s permanently pink at this point, not that you mind in the slightest. He always did have the cutest blush (and once upon a time, you used to love teasing him about it.) “I sort of dropped out of university early. Decided it wasn’t really my thing, you know?”
“Don’t sell yourself short, Yoongi. You were a fantastic student. I’m sure Y/N remembers how smart you are,” Hoseok says, winking inconspicuously at you.
You force out a laugh in response. You know perfectly well what he was trying to do; Hoseok isn’t slick in the slightest, though you do admit that you are intrigued to find out what Yoongi had done over the years.
It isn’t like you haven’t been keeping tabs on him. In your defense, it’s hard to stay away from news about Yoongi when he’s such a big deal. So what if you’ve watched a couple of his interviews and streamed all of his songs? He’s always been talented with music, and all the radio shows seem to agree. You couldn’t get away from him if you tried (and it’s not like you were trying very hard, anyway.)
Yoongi shrugs, rubbing his neck bashfully. “E-either way, I decided to tough it out, you know? Follow my dreams and all that, even if it nearly killed me.”
“And now, he’s working in a famous idol company as one of their head producers,” Hoseok finishes for him, chest puffing up in pride. He slaps his best friend on the back, not noticing that he had inadvertently caused Yoongi's spine to cave in from his strength. “Yoongi is so cool, and humble too! He’s been working behind the scenes for a bunch of big names and never got greedy for attention even though he totally deserves it.”
“Damn, so no street cred? Bit schewpid, innit? Imagine all the chicks you could’ve landed, bruv!” Seokjin says, imitating a terrible British accent. You make a move to hit him in the groin, but for once, Hoseok beats you to the punch.
“Nope! Yoongi-chi is super single, aren’t you?” Hoseok says with a sweet grin, ignoring the pained groans of his lover on the floor.
“No need to rub it in, Seok-ah,” Yoongi grumbles defensively. He coughs into his fist, grinding his foot into the floor. He throws a glance your way. “Just been… too busy, I guess.”
From the floor, Seokjin holds up a hand, grasping at Hoseok’s pant leg to hoist himself up. “What a coincidence. Y/N is super single too. In fact, her pussy is so dry that there’d be no chance for any yeast infections to develop—WAIT, DON’T HIT ME AGAIN I PROMISE I’LL BEHAVE!” Seokjin is on his knees, holding his arms up in surrender as Hoseok’s boot is about to connect with his stomach.
“I know I said I was into BDSM, but not like this!” Seokjin says, faking a sob.
“Then behave, darling,” Hoseok replies, eyes lighting dangerously. When he returns his attention to you, you and Yoongi back away instinctively. “Sorry about him. We have an… arrangement,” he says, waving his hands vaguely.
“Understood,” you both say, not understanding but also not wanting to.
Seokjin manages to straighten up eventually, his skin slightly paler than it was before. “A-as I was saying,” he exhales, still gingerly cupping his crotch. “Y/N has been single for so long, but I don’t blame her. Not after that awful disaster of a boyfriend, right? God, Sungjae fucking sucked ass, and not even in the sexy way.”
“Um, yeah…” you say hesitantly, avoiding eye contact. You can feel Hoseok’s and Yoongi’s eyes trained on you, but you’re not confident enough to know that you can keep your face neutral.
With your gaze averted, you don’t notice the way Yoongi’s posture tenses. “Is that so,” he says carefully.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Hoseok says. You can hear the genuine sadness in his tone, and you chance a peek at him. He pats your shoulder gently, giving you a soft smile. “Honestly, I feel you. I’ve definitely been there, done that. That’s why I’m grateful for Seokjin-hyung, believe it or not. He’s been really good for me.”
“Hah, I told you I’m a good person!” Seokjin says. Again, he goes ignored.
“It’s fine. It’s all water under the bridge,” you say, shrugging. You can still feel Yoongi’s persistent gaze on the side of your head like a brand. You’re kind of afraid to see what sort of expression he has despite the curiosity burning inside of you.
You are still in the middle of debating if it’s worth explaining or not (and to a lesser extent, why you feel like you need to explain yourself to anyone), everyone’s attention is caught by the onslaught of waiters bringing in a fresh batch of food to the buffet. Your stomach growls in response, and you are reminded of the fact that you haven’t eaten since breakfast in preparation for tonight’s event.
“Hold that thought, Y/N,” Hoseok says, holding up a finger. “Hyung! I saw a platter of tuna belly and I know that shit is gonna disappear in two seconds. Let’s head out!” He tugs Seokjin in a hurry, the elder’s gangly legs flying about as he trips over himself to keep up. Seokjin yelps and hollers for him to slow down, but the hangry Hoseok train stops for no one. They run off, leaving Hoseok-and-Seokjin-shaped dust clouds in their wakes.
“Wow,” Yoongi says, dumbfounded. “Did we just get ditched by our two self-proclaimed best friends in the world?”
You nod, equally dumbfounded. “I guess we did.”
He shakes his head. “Fucking traitors.”
And just like that, the conversation dies.
Without your friends acting as buffers, the pair of you return to your painfully awkward states. You rack your brain for a conversation topic, anything to keep the tension at bay. You don’t feel nearly comfortable enough to ask him about his love life, even though you want nothing more than to shake the details right out of him. For perfectly sane reasons, of course.
Lucky for you, Yoongi thinks of a solution. “Um, I guess we should go grab our food as well? I’m assuming we’ll be sitting together since our friends are... you know. Unless you don’t want to, then that’s also perfectly fine with me. I can find somewhere else to sit.”
“I’d love to sit with you,” you say, cringing at your choice of words. Love to? What are you, desperate?! your brain screeches at you, and you mentally beat yourself in the coochie.
Deep down, you know that you’re overreacting, but you can’t help acting like a blushy teenager talking to your crush when you’re around Yoongi. It’s almost as if you’ve reverted to your high school days, back when you’d both started to notice your feelings for each other and the steady flow of butterflies erupting in your stomach had felt less like a burden and more like a revelation.
After tossing your disgusting drink into a nearby bin, you and Yoongi line up behind the rest of your classmates for the buffet, the scene reminiscent of having lunch at your old high school cafeteria. You’re still mildly distracted by Yoongi’s proximity, not looking at what food you were getting and randomly scooping and hoping you don’t dislike all of them.
From the corner of your eye, you notice that Yoongi’s plate is steadily piling up, probably with enough food to feed two people. You’ve never known Yoongi to be much of a heavy eater, but you suppose that free food is still free food at the end of the day.
“So,” Yoongi says after a beat. He pulls you from your trance, and you catch the small smile on his face that tells you that he figured you had been distracted. “How is Jungkook, by the way? He graduated from university a year ago or something, right?”
You pause, your hand stilling on the metal tongs. “How did you know he graduated last year?”
He shrugs. “Well, assuming that he didn’t take any gap years, I did the math and figured he should be at the age where he’s looking for a job.” He turns to you with a sly grin. “Plus, I’m still his friend on Facebook.”
“That’s surprising,” you comment. You backtrack a little, “And I mean it’s surprising in the sense that… All his posts are reshares from dank meme pages and I thought you wouldn’t be into that.”
Yoongi laughs. “I’m not. But… it’s nice to know how things are back home, I guess.”
Do you wonder about me, too? you think, but you internally shake your head. But why would he? He doesn’t owe you anything.
“And your dad? I heard he got hip surgery last fall,” Yoongi says.
“Wait, Jungkook has been posting about our dad’s surgery on his Facebook?”
“Oh! No, not exactly.” Yoongi clears his throat, suddenly nervous. He heaps a big portion of kimchi, some of it staining his sleeve. “I… called him a few days ago, to catch up.”
You’re staring at him, and you dimly register the people lined up behind you huffing impatiently. “You… called him? You have his cell number, too?”
“No, I just… happen to still have your home telephone number memorized and hoped that you guys hadn’t moved,” he says, a little guiltily.
You’re silent for a moment, thoughtlessly scooping more bean sprouts onto your plate than any sane person would be comfortable eating. The two of you inch along the buffet display as you attempt to process his sudden confession.
On one hand, you’re slightly betrayed that your own brother hadn’t thought to mention that your ex had called him, but on the other hand, what would you have done if he did? Ask if you could say hello? The Y/N from last month probably would have laughed if she had known that Min Yoongi still cared enough to call and check on her family, much less have her landline memorized even after all these years.
He still cared.
Unbeknownst to everyone in the room, your heart skips a beat at the thought. You cradle a hand to your chest, urging your nerves to quell. Keep it together, you beg your stupid, naive heart. You can survive one night without falling in love again, can’t you?
...can you?
“I…” you stammer. You swallow thickly, desperate for something to say, anything to stop your mind from going in the wrong direction. “They miss you, you know? You have no idea how many times my parents ask if you’re coming home for Christmas, or—I don’t know.”
“Yeah, my parents are the same. They always wanna know if I’m coming home for the holidays, and they,” he hesitates, swallowing thickly, “They always ask about you, too.”
“Oh,” you mutter lamely. Your cheeks feel like they’ve been lit on fire the moment you got here, and you haven’t even visited the bar yet.
You finally make it to the end of the long buffet table where there is a large chocolate fountain just begging for you to ravage if only your stomach wasn’t besieged by butterflies. Yoongi glances at you, his own hands too full to get any desserts, but he still pauses as if he’s waiting for you. When you make it apparent you aren’t interested in the mouthwatering cakes and pastries (a big fat lie, but you also don’t want to vomit in front of him and your hundreds of schoolmates), he raises a brow as though he’s surprised.
“What? I’m not that much of a sweet tooth,” you scoff.
“This is coming from the girl who broke into her little brother’s piggy bank to buy some ice cream from a passing street vendor?” he teases.
“That’s the old me. Now, I make enough money to buy my own sweets,” you say smugly.
He rolls his eyes. “Whatever you say.” If you didn’t know any better, you might have thought he looked endeared.
The pair of you search for Hoseok and Seokjin, only to find that the couple had somehow found a table for all of you somewhere near the back. With one last longing glance at the wondrous chocolate fountain, you walk away with Yoongi in tow. You have to push through throngs of people, a few old familiar faces stopping to say hello before they notice the precarious situation on Yoongi’s plate and let you through. You wave at them, promising to greet them later before turning to Yoongi.
“Isn’t it kind of weird to see all these people again? Not gonna lie, it’s almost hard to recognize a few of them.” You note some of the crazy hair colors and drastic fashion choices that you never thought you’d see a decade ago. An even stranger sight, however, is the occasional schoolmates with little ones attached to their hips. You recognize one of the new parents, your mouth dropping in shock.
“Wait, is that Seulgi? And is that her—”
“Her son? Jesus Christ,” Yoongi mutters, equally as bewildered as you. “Damn, I did not expect her of all people to be one of the first to have a kid. I’d always thought it’d be Sooyoung.”
You nod in agreement. You observe the little boy tug roughly at her skirt, his tiny fists making grabbing motions at the cookies on her plate. “Yeah. I always thought I’d have a kid before Seulgi, at least. What a surprise.”
You speak before you think, and it takes longer than it should have for you to realize your mistake. By then, Yoongi’s expression had already morphed into astonishment, his eyes bugging out as he chokes on his spit.
Your cheeks are burning, your mouth opening and closing as pure panic seizes you. You cannot believe that you just said that! No fucking way! Did you eat lube this morning or something? Why are words just spilling out of your mouth at an unprecedented rate?! You’re begging your brain to come up with something, anything, to control the damage, but alas your thoughts remain resolutely frozen.
If aliens were to choose to study the human race right now, they’d be sorely disappointed to find the lack of intelligent lifeforms. No complex thoughts going on over here! Not one goddamn neuron firing in this bitch!
“O-oh, well, that’s…” he trails off. He clears his throat, his jaw clenched as he awkwardly tries to feign composure. “I didn’t know you were, um, interested? Well, n-not that I think you were averse to the idea of having kids, since I remember you mentioning it when we were, um,” he pauses, struggling to find a word other than dating, or together, or in love, or not painstakingly careful around each other, like every conversation topic was a fucking minefield.
“Younger?” you supply. A safe, neutral word. Yay for you! You deserve a snack from your animal care keeper right about now.
“Right,” he nods. He looks down at his shoes, revealing his flushed neck. He’s frustratingly adorable like this, but it does nothing except distract you. “Were you, um, planning on having a kid with your ex-boyfriend? Before you broke up?”
Ex-boyfriend? Why is he bringing him up all of a sudden? You stare at him in confusion for half a second before realization strikes you. Thankfully (or unthankfully), it seems that Yoongi misunderstands the implication behind your words and has taken your little slip-up the wrong way. For once, you are so thankful that Yoongi almost failed Math during the 10th grade and never learned to put two and two together.
“Definitely not,” you bark out a laugh, but it sounds incredibly forced, even to your own ears. You stare at the plate of food in your hands, a wave of unpleasant memories washing over you. “I doubt he’d ever want kids, anyway. Seokjin used to make fun of him and call him the world’s biggest toddler.”
Yoongi winces, his brow furrowing. “How long were you together?”
“Like, two years?” You shrug. “It felt longer, to be honest. Even if we dated for so long, I could never imagine myself having a family with him,” you say.
It was almost the truth, but not quite. While your ex-boyfriend had undoubtedly been a pain in your ass, he wasn’t completely bad, especially in the beginning. You had enough self-respect that you would have ended the relationship earlier if he didn’t have any redeeming qualities. The main problem was that he had a tough act to follow, and you don’t think any man on earth would be able to live up to your lofty expectations at this point, not when you’d constantly be comparing everyone to—
Yoongi speaks up again. “Seokjin seems to really dislike him. Was he really that bad?”
“Seokjin has never really liked any of my past flings,” you admit, rolling your eyes. (You fail to mention that Yoongi has always been the only exception.) “Despite his own disgustingly high body count, I can’t say he was wrong. Sungjae was a self-centered prick who never gave me the time of day. Hell, I was almost thankful when I caught him cheating. It was the final push I needed.”
Even though it’s been so long, the pain of seeing your ex-boyfriend locking lips with a stranger he had randomly picked up from the street still throbs inside of you. It wasn’t like you were particularly sad or surprised to find out, but you’d always been a bit sensitive to people who kept secrets from you. Plus, it kinda sucked to know that they had fucked on your favorite Egyptian cotton sheets.
“Fucking bastard. If I ever saw him in person, I’d definitely kick his nuts ‘til he’s left with a concave crotch,” he seethes, eyes narrowing.
You laugh. You have to confess that the mental image is satisfying. “You don’t even know what he looks like though!”
“Doesn’t matter. I’m sure Seokjin would tell me if I asked,” he huffs. He mutters something else after, but his volume drops to a whisper and you have to step closer to properly hear him.
“What? Sorry, I missed that,” you say, but you could have sworn he said something like “I wouldn’t have done that if it were me” but you couldn’t be completely sure.
“N-nothing,” he stutters, waving off your confusion. He tacks on a smile, but you can tell that he must have been embarrassed by whatever he’d said. If it was anything like what you thought he’d said, then you could understand. It wasn’t like he was wrong, anyway.
He makes a move to rub the back of his neck, but he greatly underestimates the weight of his platter and nearly drops everything. Something deep inside of you kicks in, and your body instinctively moves to hold his plate with your free hand, saving him from a very messy situation. However, that also means that your hands are now touching each other, your fingertips grazing his knuckles.
Instead of letting him go like a normal person, your ape brain makes the first move (as per usual).
“Your hands are still cold,” you say dumbly. You had wanted to say more, like “your hands are still as cold as they were from when we were younger,” but bringing up your past together, even for something so harmless, still feels taboo. You keep your hands where they are, your eyes locked on his. It feels like you’re in the middle of a dramatic TV show while I Will Go To You by Ailee plays in the background. You can almost imagine the numerous ads for random Korean cosmetic products framing the two of you in slow motion.
Yoongi chuckles, reluctantly pulling away from you. You already miss the sensation of his skin on yours. “I guess some things never change, huh?” he says, wavering slightly. He stares at you for another moment before shaking his head, as though he’s pushing away some unwelcome thoughts. He turns away, leaving you behind to make his way to your table.
Despite the unbidden emotions bubbling up your throat and threatening to spill over, you have no choice but to follow.
At the table, Seokjin and Hoseok speak mutely with each other, though the exaggerated expressions on both their faces tell you that they had been in the middle of an argument. When Yoongi takes his place beside Hoseok, the couple pauses in their bickering to greet you.
Hoseok looks at Yoongi’s overflowing plate. “Dude. I know I teased you about being a skinny twig a while ago, but I wasn’t implying that you gorge yourself.”
Yoongi jolts in surprise before staring back at his plate. Weirdly enough, he looks just as shocked as Hoseok to find the amount of food he had gotten, as though he hadn’t even noticed.
Perhaps he was just as distracted as you had been? you think, staring at your own meager pickings. Oops, you definitely didn’t get enough food to fill your ravenous appetite.
“That’s fine. I can share with you guys,” Yoongi says.
Seokjin peers at your plate, smirking knowingly. “Oh, yes. I’m sure Y/N would love to get some of your food. It seems like the two of you either over or underestimated how much you’d eat.”
“Aww, cute!” Hoseok coos, pinching Yoongi’s cheek. “You still have the habit of getting food for her. That’s so sweet that you still remember that about her!”
You had been in the middle of taking a swig of your water, but Hoseok’s comment nearly causes it to spew out from your nose. You cough harshly, beating your chest as your nose burns, among other things.
“Hoseok!” Yoongi scolds. He hits his friend on the shoulder, but Hoseok’s giggles refuse to stop.
“Oh shit, you’re totally right! Remember all those times when either one of us was forced to third-wheel with them?” Seokjin guffaws. “Y/N always orders something gross whenever we eat out together, and Yoongi ends up having to share half of his food with her when she starts moping.”
“I did not mope!” you retort vehemently.
“You kind of did,” Yoongi mutters under his breath, but you catch him this time.
You cross your arms, scowling. “Did not!”
Yoongi covers his mouth to fake a cough, but you can tell he’s smiling from how his eyes start to crinkle.
“You guys are so cute,” Hoseok sighs, squeezing Yoongi into a hug. Yoongi paws at him weakly, but you know that he enjoys skinship too much to push his friend away.  Still, he pouts cutely, his cheeks puffing up like a pastry.
“Anyway, why were you guys arguing a while ago?” Yoongi asks, changing the subject. “Seokjin-hyung is kinda red in the face.”
“Oh, we weren’t really arguing. Hyung had gotten some wine from the bar but he forgot to get me some,” Hoseok says. He glares sharply at Seokjin. “Bastard.”
“You just said we weren’t fighting!” Seokjin whines. He stands up, raising his arms in surrender. “But fine! I’ll go get your damn wine,” he sulks, groaning when he stretches his back and a few worrisome pops resound from his joints.
“Damn, hyung. I know I told you that I hope you grow up well when we were kids, but I didn’t think you’d take it that literally,” Yoongi jokes, earning a sharp laugh from you. Yoongi glances at you then, visibly proud when he catches the wide grin on your face.
Seokjin gasps, offended. “I am not old! I’m literally a year older than you guys! And here I was, about to get you both drinks as well! It sucks to be the nice one in a friend group,” he sniffs.
“Yes, we are eternally grateful for your service,” Hoseok says sarcastically. “Oh, and remember to get some drinks for Y/N and Yoongi-chi too!” Hoseok adds, slamming his palm on Seokjin’s sore back.
Seokjin yelps, before biting his lip. “Owwie, that hurt,” he moans, winking salaciously.
As the closest person to him, you make it your right to jam your heeled foot onto his gelatinous and push away with a shout of disgust. “Leave, wench!” you snarl, but you’re unfortunately drowned out by his cackling. Even so, he does make his leave, affording your table some level of peace.
“So,” Hoseok starts, a twinkle of mischief in his eye. He cradles his chin with his hands, smiling innocuously at the two of you. “How’s it goin’? Are you both having fun?” he says, laced with meaning.
Ah, you had forgotten; peace was never an option.
Though he is undoubtedly less annoying than Seokjin, you still don’t trust the way he’s staring at you, like he’s waiting for one of you to jump into the other’s lap and recreate his favorite porn scene.
(A terrible thought to have, especially when you’d probably be as begrudging as you should be if you were swayed sufficiently.)
“It’s going fine, thank you very much,” Yoongi responds, giving his best friend a stern look.
You nod wordlessly, unable to trust yourself to keep from stammering and making your frayed nerves apparent (if they aren’t already.) You grab your glass and busy yourself with your drink to delay answering.
You don’t notice that you had taken Yoongi’s cup by accident until you’ve already gulped a third of his water, dropping it with a loud clunk. “Oh shit, sorry! I didn’t mean to drink from yours,” you say sheepishly.
Yoongi smiles at your concern. “No worries. It’s just a cup.”
“Sharing cups too? Damn, what happened while Seokjin and I were away?” Hoseok laughs. Yoongi flicks him lightly on the wrist in retaliation.
“It’s just a cup,” he repeats before turning to you. “Sorry, I think he’s a bit drunk.”
“Haven’t had a single drop of alcohol but whatever,” Hoseok says, shoveling a large piece of tuna belly into his mouth.
The sight of him eating reminds you of your own hunger, your food slightly colder now after talking to Yoongi and your friends for so long. You take a spoonful of chicken, the taste not terrible but not as good as you would like. Your face must give your disappointment away because you hear Yoongi chuckling beside you.
“Bad food again? Guess you really are the same,” Yoongi says, low enough that Hoseok wouldn’t hear. He pushes his plate towards you, carefully nudging some of his bulgogi onto yours. “This tastes kind of sweet, so I’m not really into it. But you prefer it sweeter right?”
All you can do is nod in agreement, watching as he piles your plate with his food. His sleeves, which had already been stained previously by some stray bits of kimchi, become even more saturated with sauces and oils. Now that you see it up close, his sleeves seem a bit too long for him, his palms half covered like sweater paws.  
Without thinking too hard, you place your hands over Yoongi’s wrists, his entire body freezing as he waits for what you will do. Gently, as though you’re approaching a frightened kitten, you fold his sleeves until they’re no longer dangling into his food. The gesture is more intimate than you had intended, his proximity allowing you to smell the familiar fragrance of his cologne.
Paco Rabanne, your mind reminds you. Of course.
You pull away, trying your best to appear as unfazed as possible. You clench your hands and dig your nails into your skin to keep them from trembling. “If I’m the same, you’re no better. You always used to forget to pull back your sleeves before eating.”
After a beat, Yoongi returns from his stupor, licking his lips. “My hands were cold,” he explains.
“I know.” You lick your lips too, suddenly parched despite all the water you have drunk.
A forgotten treasure trove of memories resurrects inside of you, things that you had thought had been buried too deep for you to find again. You are filled with this odd feeling, an awareness. An old wound has resurfaced, one that you thought had healed long ago.
That wound throbs, still.
It’s so strange, being with him like this. A piece of your past that has come to your present, both the same and different as you remember. He knows parts of you that no one else will, as do you with him. But those parts were only ever supposed to stay buried: memories, after all, aren’t supposed to be tangible.
And yet, here he stands: real, alive, close.
It leaves you feeling emptier than before.
The atmosphere grows somber after that, neither of you offering much to the conversation. Hoseok is more than happy to pick up the slack, filling the stark silence along with the occasional hums from Yoongi. When Seokjin returns, he makes no note of the change in mood and focuses more on eating and talking with his partner. It allows the two of you to remain deep in thought.
You are pushing your remaining bits of food around your plate when the soft instrumental music playing on the overhead speaker stops abruptly, and the sound of a microphone being tapped prompts everyone to turn to the front of the ballroom. The host of the event announces that the next part of the reunion will begin shortly and encourages all the performers to head to the sound booth to prepare. A couple of your schoolmates rise from their seats, most of whom were the students you remembered being part of choir or band.
You half-expect Yoongi to stand up as well, but he stays rooted to the spot. Apparently, Hoseok is wondering the same thing.
“Yoongi? Didn’t you say that the organizers asked you to perform some of your songs?” Hoseok questions.
“They did.”
Yoongi brings his fingers to his teeth, biting on them anxiously. Your hand makes a move to pull them away, but you think better of it. No need to supply your friends with more teasing ammunition. “But I changed my mind last minute. I felt kind of embarrassed to be performing my own songs. I’m more of a producer, not a performer.”
“There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, Yoongi. You’re poggers, as the kids like to say,” Seokjin pipes up.
“I wouldn’t put it like that, but he’s right. A lot of people like your music and think you’re a great performer,” you assure him. “And I like your music, too,” you add shyly.
Yoongi’s hand drops from his mouth, eyes glittering with disbelief. He looks like he wants to disagree with you, but eventually decides to just smile in gratitude. “I didn’t know you listened to my music,” he says quietly.
Before you can reply, Seokjin chooses to interrupt with his migraine-inducing cackle and ruin the moment (as he is prone to do.) “Oh bitch! If you only knew how much this girl loves your music. She even buys your physical CDs AND collects your photocards.”
“I do not!” You scream, flinging a piece of bread at his head. You refuse to peek at Yoongi.
“Don’t worry, Y/N! I collect his photocards too. Wanna trade sometime? I’m missing the one when he still had mint hair,” Hoseok giggles.
“Will the two of you stop? God, it’s like you both had been planning to embarrass us as much as possible,” Yoongi exclaims, incensed.
When neither of them responds, you and Yoongi whip your heads towards them only to find two self-satisfied, smirking shitheads.
“Why watch reality shows when you can make your own?” Seokjin says in lieu of an answer, pointing finger guns. He blows you a kiss with a wink.
You clutch your chest, pretending to wince in pain. “Augh! Poison damage!”
Seokjin scoffs. “Swagever, man. You’re just mad because you’re angry,” he retorts, sticking out his tongue.
While you were occupied bickering with Seokjin, you had not seen that one of your old schoolmates had invited herself to your table. She sandwiches herself in the space between you and Yoongi, bumping you roughly enough to topple you out of your chair.
“What the fuck?” you yelp in surprise, holding onto the table to balance yourself. After straightening back into your seat, you find that your view of the world has become obscured by asscheeks the size of beachballs.
“Hi Yoongi,” she purrs seductively. Or at least, what she thinks is seductive. To you, her voice sounds like nails grating on a chalkboard.
“Hello?” Yoongi says, but it comes out sounding more like a question. It’s clear that he doesn’t remember her name, as he searches your eyes for help. You shrug unhelpfully; you deleted almost all the names of everyone that you had gone to school with right after graduation. Besides, her horrendous plastic surgery makes it even twice as hard to discern her identity.
“Hi Hyejin,” Hoseok speaks up, answering your unspoken question. Oh, right. The name does ring a bell, somewhat. You don’t recall her looking like a cartoon character before, but you suppose beauty standards are meant to be subjective. Maybe she wanted to look like a One Piece character.
Hyejin purses her lips into a tight smile but doesn’t return his greeting. She turns back to Yoongi, bending forward until her boobs are practically smooshed against his face. You wonder idly if stabbing her chest with your chopsticks would cause them to burst like a balloon, or perhaps drain like a puss-filled pimple. Both, you surmise, would be very entertaining to watch.
“It’s been a while since we’ve last seen each other, hm? I heard you’ve been very busy ever since we graduated from high school,” she says, batting her eyelashes.
“Uh, yeah? Some of us have jobs,” he says, passively dissing her. You let out a strangled laugh, causing Hyejin to aim a glare back at you. You bring your (his) cup of water to your lips, feigning innocence.
Hyejin rolls her eyes. “Right. But I meant that you’ve become a real star back in Seoul! I didn’t know you were such a musical prodigy!”
“I’m really not. I just work hard,” he shrugs. He’s visibly uncomfortable, especially since Hyejin was pretty much breathing the same air as him. Every time he leans away from her, she takes it as an invitation to come closer. He is nearly lying horizontally at this point, his back parallel with the floor.
“Humble as well as handsome? My, my. I didn’t think you’d be such a charmer,” she laughs, saccharine sweet. She twirls her dyed brown hair with her perfectly manicured acrylic nails. You rub at the goosebumps forming on your arms, cringing at the phantom sensation of her nails digging into your skin.
“Just spit it out. What the hell do you want so you can leave,” Seokjin interjects. Everything about his demeanor says calm and collected, but the way he presses his lips into a thin line says otherwise. You can sense the air dropping in temperature, despite the embers burning behind his eyes.
“I came over here to ask if Yoongi could give me his autograph, that’s all. I am his biggest fan, after all,” she sulks. She winks at him for extra measure. “And maybe his number too? I’d love to discuss your music with you sometime!”
“Oh, um. That’s—” he cuts off, hesitant to answer. He tugs at his ears nervously, exchanging subtly alarmed glances with you.
You remember that signal very distinctly; it’s a distress call that he would do whenever he needed a way out. He used to do it a lot when you were at social gatherings, especially when people would trap him in boring or awkward conversations. He never did like socializing with people outside his circle, but he was often dragged to parties by his more extroverted friends.
He might be hot as hell with his stylish clothes and jaw-dropping undercut, but he’s still awkward as hell around strangers. When the universe created him, they made sure to keep everything in balance. If they hadn’t been fair, you certainly would’ve died much earlier.
“Yoongi, don’t you have spare CDs of your music?” you quip, dragging Hyejin’s attention onto you. Her eyes narrow imperceptibly, suspicious.
“I do?” He stares at you blankly.
You resist hitting your forehead in exasperation. “Yes, Yoongi. Remember? You left a couple of them in my car.”
Yoongi’s eyes light up in understanding. “Oh, right! I left my CDs. In your car. That we drove here. Together. We came here. Together. Yes, correct.”
From your periphery, you can sense Hoseok barely holding onto his sanity after witnessing that pitiful display. Who can blame him when Yoongi’s infamously terrible acting skills are having their first appearance in over ten years? How he managed to pass Drama class is still a mystery to this day.
“Yup,” you say, popping your p.  You give Hyejin a winsome smile, your hands folded neatly on your lap. You can almost see the steam blowing out of her ears. It fills you with delicious satisfaction. “Why don’t Yoongi and I go get them so he can sign one?”
If her eyes had been made of lasers, you’d be a cauterized mess jumble of organs by now. Can’t say you would regret it either way.
“How kind of you.” She sneers. “Also, I wasn’t aware that you two were still a thing.”
“I wasn’t aware that we were required to inform you of anything,” you retort placidly. You plaster on your fakest grin. “Now, if you can please move your fat ass—I mean, if you can please move out of the way so I can go to my car...” you trail off, gesturing for her to leave.
After a few more indignant sputters on her end, she eventually makes her exit. She throws a couple of poisonous glares, but they go largely ignored by you and your friends. With her gone, you feel as though you can finally breathe fresh air again.
“Great stuff, Y/N! Congrats on winning your first bitch-off,” Seokjin chirps, back to his usual self. You roll your eyes at his antics but smile nonetheless.
“Thanks. I learned from the best.”
Yoongi clears his throat. “So, are we still gonna go?” He looks back and forth from her to you. “Just so we can pretend you actually have my albums in your car?”
“Trust me, Yoongi-chi. She does have your albums in her car.” Seokjin titters. “I wasn’t kidding about the photocard collection.”
“Ignore him. And yes, I do have your albums. I listen to them in my car from time to time,” you say, attempting nonchalance. “I’d hate to give them away to that bitch, but if it keeps her away...”
Away from you is left unsaid, but it’s heavily implied.
(No, you aren’t jealous. You’re above jealousy. It’s not like that bitch would ever have a chance with him anyway, unlike you—!
Woah there, cowgirl. Let’s stay on the right path. Don’t want your heart getting chewed up and spat back out all over again, do you?)
“I’ll just mail you a new one. Signed, if you want. You can probably sell it on eBay or whatever.” He tries to say it like a joke, but his brow is too furrowed to be convincing. (You want to kiss him there and make it go away.)
You don’t trust yourself to speak, so all you do is nod mutely. You stand up and Yoongi follows suit.
“We’ll be right back. If she comes back before then, tell her to scram,” you tell Hoseok and Seokjin. They salute you in response (well, Hoseok does. Seokjin does a very rude gesture with his fingers that is supposed to mimic something explicit. Feel free to use your imagination.)
The walk to the parking lot is a quiet one. The two of you stay side by side, his strides naturally matching your own. Unlike before, you don’t feel the need to fill the silence for once, content to just be in each other’s presence.
The hotel that your reunion is being held at is unusually unpopulated. The lobby consists of a handful of employees milling about, a few of whom look ready to fall asleep on their feet. You nod politely at the bellboy who opens the main doors for you, declining his offer to call the valet service to fetch your car.
“Just hand me my keys. I’ll look for my car in the parking lot.” It wouldn’t be hard to find, anyway. Your beat-up Toyota Corolla looks as though it’s been through three wars and then some.
It isn’t long until you find it parked close to the entrance. You unlock your car from the passenger seat, shimmying the glove compartment open to reveal your collection of CDs.
“Wow, you weren’t lying when you said you listened to my music,” Yoongi says, voice loud amidst the tranquil night. It startles you, and you accidentally knock over some of the albums onto your car floor. On top of the pile lies Yoongi’s most recent album, the one you recall he had released a couple of months ago.
Strange, how just hours ago you were listening to his music on the way to the reunion, only for the boy on the cover of the album to be just inches away from you.
“Yeah, well. You’re a pretty good artist,” you say.
“Only pretty good?” he repeats, amused.
“Don’t push it,” you snort. You grab the album on top, waving it in front of him. “This should be good enough, right?”
He plucks it from your grasp, an unreadable expression clouding his eyes. He chuckles, but there’s an edge of sadness in his tone. “Good enough,” he agrees solemnly.
His sudden quietness is different from the peaceful one before. It’s sorrowful, maybe regretful. He looks like a man stuck in grief.
“Did you know that I didn’t finish this album before releasing it?”
The question seems a little out of the blue, but you answer regardless. “No, I didn’t. They don’t sound unfinished to me.”
“The songs themselves aren’t unfinished,” he explains. He turns the album over, his finger running down the back where the tracklist is printed. “One of my songs never made it in.”
“Couldn’t you have delayed the album launch so you could complete it?”
He shakes his head. “It was actually the first song I finished out of all of them.”
“It didn’t matter, at the time. I wrote it for someone specifically, but I didn’t want to put it on the album if she—they didn’t listen to it. It wouldn’t matter if the whole world heard that song because only they would understand it.”
“But now? What changed?” Fear and hope run down your spine in tandem when the question tumbles out of you. You hold your breath, and the world shifts from its axis.
But he doesn’t elaborate further.
x x x x x
You return to the hotel after acquiring both an album and some more tension. The album feels heavy in your hands, weighed down by secrets you are still too afraid to uncover. Not that Yoongi would ever willingly divulge them to you—because revealing them would make them real, and making them real would mean you would have to accept them, and accepting them would cause you to—
“They’re gone,” Yoongi announces when you reenter the ballroom. You can’t spot your table from the entranceway, but the certainty in Yoongi’s tone makes you believe him.
“No fucking way. Did those two little shits ditch us to exchange body fluids or something?”
Yoongi grimaces. “Please don’t say it like that. It’s bad enough that I was sitting close enough to Hoseok a while ago that I got accidentally footsie’d by Seokjin hyung.”
You wince, placing a pitying hand on his shoulder. “God didn’t make us his strongest soldiers.”
Yoongi tries dialing Hoseok a few times, but none of the calls connect. “Just my rotten luck,” he groans. He types angrily into his phone, worry creasing his forehead. “He was supposed to be my ride back to his place.”
“Seokjin isn’t answering his phone either,” you say apologetically. “How much do you wanna bet this is part of their evil scheme to leave us together?”
“I don’t doubt it in the slightest,” he deadpans. He sighs tiredly, rubbing his temples. “I suppose I can take a taxi there, but I also don’t know if he’ll be home to open the door for me.”
“Then why don’t you just stay with me?”
You don’t know what you’re doing.
In your head, the offer makes sense. He’s just a friend, you remind yourself. Nothing is stopping you from rekindling a friendship with him. You have purely platonic intentions. Friends help each other out.
Never mind the fact that your heart hasn’t stopped fluttering the entire night. Never mind the fact that you’ve caught yourself staring at him just as many times as you’ve caught him staring at you. Never mind the fact that you don’t want the night to end, not now not ever.
(Never mind the fact that you’ve never quite stopped loving him.)
So when he accepts, you convince yourself that offering had been the right thing to do.
(Maybe. Hopefully. You just wish your heart doesn’t end up as collateral damage.)
The drive home is short, thanks to the late hour. You had asked him if he had wanted to stay until the end of the reunion, but he had declined. “Nothing else left for me there,” he says.
You feel as though he’s hinting at something. Your grip on the steering wheel tightens. “At least I get to keep my album.”
Yoongi laughs, short and sweet.
As much as you try to fight it, sitting in the car with him brings up a lot of memories.
The two of you in the backseat as his older brother drives you to his house for dinner, backpacks filled with crumpled notes and loose pens, a promise of an intense study session for your upcoming exams ready to be broken. You remember how the sky would turn orange in the afternoon, the warm light streaming through the car window and washing Yoongi’s skin with a soft glow.
His cheeks had looked inviting, his lips even more. And you would lean over, kissing him like it was easy. Because it was easy, and you never had to think twice about it.
Your trip down memory lane doesn’t end in the car. As you walk up the steps to your childhood home, you hesitate by the door, your keys frozen over the lock. You can hear Yoongi’s soft breathing behind you, but his presence doesn’t feel as stifling as you thought it would be.
You’re far from being at ease, but you aren’t frightened either. Mostly, you’re just filled with anticipation. Of what? You aren’t sure.
“Excuse the mess. Jungkook is in the middle of moving out so there’s just stuff everywhere,” you say just as you open the door. You toe off your shoes by the entrance, kicking them off haphazardly into the pile of sneakers and boots.
You hear Yoongi huff out a laugh behind you. “Aish, that kid. Still hasn’t let go of his Timbs, huh?”
“He has also been really into chunky sneakers these days. I think he’s finalizing his transformation into Thumper,” you joke. “He’s staying at his new apartment for the weekend with my parents, so you won’t be seeing them. They’re helping him settle in.”
“Really? He didn’t mention moving when we spoke. Where is he moving to?”
“Busan. He and his best friend from college are going to start a restaurant in his hometown. Which is funny, since neither of them are the best chefs.”
Yoongi whistles. “Still, that’s impressive. I can’t remove the image from my head of when he was a kid. He was so scared of anything. He wouldn’t let go of your mom’s leg even if his life depended on it.”
He steps deeper into the house, his gaze jumping from end to end as he surveys your childhood home. You watch him, noting how right he looks standing there in the middle of your living room, like a chipped painting that has been restored.
It’s scary, how easily you’ve accepted him back into this place.
He stays rooted to the spot, the moonlight filtering through the kitchen windows and illuminating his frame. The air pulses with something magical, something dream-like, and it muddles your vision. It’s the only explanation you have for why your chest tightens when he turns to face you, with a gaze filled with sadness, mourning, yearning.
“Jungkook’s height chart is still here,” he murmurs. The small nicks on the kitchen door frame are hard to see, and other people have mistaken them for signs of wear and tear. But he knows what they are because he was there when your mother had etched the first scratch.
He looks at your ancient dining table, his hand brushing over the surface. “This too,” he says, rubbing at a large burn mark on the wood.
“Mom made sure to use placemats after that. I didn’t think a sizzling plate would burn through the table like that,” you say, giggling as you reminisce. “You know, we still use your mom’s galbi jjim recipe. We haven’t found a better one.”
“I’m sure she would love to hear that,” Yoongi smiles, but it fades just as quickly. “It’s so… strange. Being here again and seeing that nothing really changed.”
But things did change. Upstairs, in your bedroom. That night, ten years ago.
You still remember what you had said to him, when you had said it to him, how you had said it to him.
It was a sunny afternoon, the time of day when you’d be on your way home from school. The two of you had stood in your room, neither of you wanting to sit because sitting meant staying, and staying only made this harder.
There hadn’t been many tears in that moment; those were shed only after the realization had sunk in, when you’d fully understood what had happened. At the time, the decision had been as easy as breathing.
Except you had both been drowning. The clock was ticking down to the end of high school, and the inevitable wasn’t slowing down.
Yoongi wanted to chase his dreams in Seoul. You wanted to stay closer to home, with your friends and family.
You weren’t going to be the one to hold him down. You weren’t going to be that person, not when he’s destined for greater things than his hometown could offer—not even a girl who loved him would be worth staying for.
He had suggested it, first. He had been prepared for you to cry, or maybe scream, but you did none of that. Instead, you pulled him close, hugging him tighter than you ever had before. You wanted to make it last, imprint the sensation onto your brain so that his warmth might stay with you, even after he’s little more than a distant memory. You trembled, terribly so, even though the beginnings of summer crept on your skin like a brand.
It’s time to let him go, Time whispered. You refused to listen, just for another moment.
Let me have this last moment, you beg. But Time refused to listen.
“Do you know?” Yoongi had spoken into your neck, had hoped his words would stain there. “Do you know how much I love you?”
Love, not loved. “I did,” you say. You think better of it. “I do.”
When you separated, for good this time, it had left an ache deeper than you could have ever imagined.
But you were young. Young love was supposed to hurt, but it wasn’t supposed to last. “You’ll find others,” your mother had said, brushing a soothing hand through your hair as you sobbed.
Then why? Then why has it lasted this long?
It has been a question you’ve asked yourself, and you’re starting to think that the answer has always been right in front of you.
The answer is standing in front of you: real, alive, close.
“Why didn’t you ever date again?” you ask. You ask even though you know he can lie, if he wants. He can tell you anything and you would believe him.
But he wouldn’t; you know he wouldn’t.
“I was afraid of closing a door that I never meant to close in the first place,” he says. His voice crackles like static, but that might be the blood rushing to your head. He moves toward you but keeps a hand’s width away. Still too far.
He continues. “After that day, when I left,” he swallows, “after I left, I think… I think I left a piece of me with you. A-and I don’t think I ever stopped…” he cuts off, exhaling shakily.
“Stopped what?” you breathe.
“You know.” He waves his hands around helplessly. They fall heavily back down to his sides, defeated. “You know?” he repeats.
You do. Because you are the same. The old wound had never healed; it burns and it bleeds like new.
Your skull feels like it’s stuffed with cotton when you close the distance between the two of you. He circles his arms around your waist, tentative, but he relaxes when you wind your arms around his neck. Your vision is warped, so you choose to close them. You wait, with bated breath, as his warmth inched closer and closer.
The sensation of his lips on yours jolts you back to your senses. His kiss reminds you of your youth, of a love that had made you excited to start your day. Even now, your body remembers, and it rejoices.
The tenderness does not last long before it turns fervent, tongue and teeth crashing like waves against the shore. If his kisses could speak, they would tell you stories of how much he missed you, of how much he mourned the time you had both lost. They would tell you of the days when he’d almost pressed your number onto his phone, of the nights when he’d stare at the polaroids he had kept of you.
They would ask if you still love him like he still loves you.
He tastes of desperation, and you are likely to be the same. It is a desperation you haven’t tasted in years—but it doesn’t feel scary like it used to. Time no longer feels like it’s racing against you, like you had something to prove before the hour was over. This reckless abandon feels like home against your skin—it is an ache being soothed after having ripped your scabs over and over again.
It’s Yoongi.
And when he pulls you to your room, he doesn’t even need his eyes to find his way as his feet still memorize the floorboards. He struggles with the doorknob, forgetting that it always jammed, but it’s okay because you can always teach him again. You can teach him everything again.
The bed creaks under your weights and even the mattress sounds like it is sighing in relief. That sigh echoes from your lips when his hand slips under your clothes, his palm stopping over your heart.
“I won’t break it, this time,” he says. He promises. “If you let me.”
You wonder if he can feel your heart soaring, pounding against your ribs. “I think the line has long been crossed to ask for my permission.” You place your hand over where his is laid. You squeeze tight.
This time, you don’t let him go.
1K notes · View notes
jjkthclub · 7 months ago
Give Me A Try
Pairing: Jungkook / You
Genre: one shot, friends to lovers!au, bet!au
Rating: M
Warnings: slight alcohol consumption, oral (f. receiving), fingering, multiple orgasms, teasing, finger sucking, public sex (bathroom sex)
Word count: 5.2k
Summary: On a night out, you make a bet with your friend who also happens to be the campus fuckboy.
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The loud, blaring music pumps through the speakers. The whole place vibrates and everywhere you look, people are in a constant state of movement. And then there’s you, sitting on your stool by the mini bar, content in watching this place become blazed with the fire coming from the students’ energies and wildness. They dance on tables, shouting words from the songs, jumping around so hard that it quakes the ground. 
You can’t blame them, really, because this is a form of escapism. An outlet to declutter all the heavy baggage that academia had put on them. It’s why you came to this night out too with your friends, so you can have fun and forget your responsibilities, so you can indulge yourself with temporary ecstasy and savour the electric vibes this place brings.
Jungkook suddenly coming through your side with a glass of whiskey in his hand breaks you from your musings, his charming, cunning and devilish persona on full display. 
“Still single, I see.” He doesn’t bother with greetings, just goes straight to the point and voices out his thoughts bluntly. 
Not even bothering to look, you shake your head and roll your eyes, already piqued because you knew this was coming. “What do you want?”
He giggles at your annoyance and your way of pushing him away. Hearing his infectious laughter—that darned animated and boisterous sound—makes you groan internally, your eyes rolling so hard. 
For some unknown reason, his hobbies seem to include pushing your buttons. Normally, you’re not someone who gets all wound up and irritated but somehow, Jeon Jungkook has gotten into your nerves, the deepest parts of it. Really got into them, under them, beneath them and he had dug his way through them in search of all the buttons that would have you seething in anger and frustration. Now is a perfect time example to illustrate that.
Somehow, he had found you in this bar too while you’re drinking alone, away from the middle where your other group of friends have resorted to stepping on tables, dancing without care, raving along to the beat that pumps through the huge speakers, partying like there’s no tomorrow that awaits everyone.
You grimacing, grumbling expressively, rolling your eyes at the back of your head is considered victory to Jungkook. To prove a point, you turn to glance at him with an impassive expression. A stupid smirk is proudly decorated on his face, welcoming you, saying to you that you now have company and there’s nothing you can do about it. He indulges with this amusing view and revels in the hilarity of it all.
Just like any other friendship, you and him are comfortable enough to always bicker with one another, your personalities and point of views constantly clashing. And if you were left in a room with him, he would rile you up and pick random fights with you. It would not be a surprise if you end up killing him first. Jungkook would laugh and then you would snap back with your own counterstrike that you know would hit him critically too. Let’s just say that having Jimin in your group is an advantage because he has a habit of gossiping about people and that included Jungkook.
That’s how your friendship with Jungkook works—one moment you’d want to beat his ass up and then the other, you’d both be hanging out, talking about the most random things from a variety of subjects, laughing at memes together or playing some video games. He’s been your good friend for years now and honestly, it’s just banter. It’s always childish teasing and rambunctious cat and dog fights with Jungkook but you trust him and deep down, he’s really a good, easy-going friend. There’d never be a dull moment with him because of said teasing and childish antics.
His elbows are on the counter and his cheeks are pinkish, his tongue constantly wetting his lips. His hair a golden shade of yellow (a result of a bet he lost with Jimin) parted in middle, Jungkook’s self-assurance and his flirting is on the roof.
This is the first bar of the night and yet, you already feel drained, barely drunk. Now that you know who’s your company though, you think that you might need to order the strongest alcohol if you want to survive this whole interaction and keep up with his bouncy energy. It isn’t a surprise that he’d be here since he’s always present at night outs. He never misses bar crawls, club nights and flat parties. If this is graded, he would have a hundred percent for having perfect attendance.
“This is what, the third bar crawl of the year and you’re still not cuffed?”
“Look who’s talking,” you deadpan. Him announcing your singleness is a weak attack because it doesn’t do anything. It’s not like you haven’t heard this already from people.
He quirks his brow up, looking at you through the rim of his glass. “Yeah, but I came with a date at the last one.”
They were overly gross in their PDA as far as you can remember. He was all over the club with her clinging onto him. Every dim corner that you would turn, they’d be there shoving their tongues in each other’s throats, putting on a full show for everyone. In the end, you just danced with your friends and enjoyed the merriment that the buzzing atmosphere brought for a fleeting amount of time before you felt suffocated and stuffed in that dance floor, disgusted by the smell of sweat and alcohol so you just headed outside, found yourself sitting in the smoking area. 
It didn’t take long before the smell that kept on being directed and wafted in your way irked you and made you feel icky you started walking away. Wandered further from the bar, leaving your group, leaving the buzzing atmosphere that rang in your ears, leaving all those drinks that you haven’t bought and sipped yet, leaving the other bars you haven’t hopped to yet, leaving everything to head home and crash yourself on your bed.
“Why do you suddenly care about my love life anyway? Are you trying to cuff me?”
Perhaps it’s time for you to step up and date again, look around your options. It’d be great if you had any, to be honest. Come to think of it, maybe after tonight, you could finally get back to Hoseok about his adamant offer to set you up.
Jungkook lazily shakes the blocks of ice cubes in his drink, answering after a two second pause. “Maybe I will.”
That, you didn’t expect. But part of you did. This is just Jungkook being the flirt he is, the player that he is on full display, in all his glory. You’ve seen this one too many times—whenever he would bring different girls to every party or movie nights, whenever he would be smiling like a moron while glued on his phone because he’d be on Tinder, whenever he would be in the kitchen speaking to somebody and it’d distract you from watching and concentrating on the movie’s plot because he doesn’t know the basic concept of keeping his voice down.
This Jungkook is optimised even more with the alcohol running in his blood, making him sputter these nonsensical words. You remain silent, shaking your head at the incredulity. Is he listening to what he’s saying? You and Jungkook? Self-proclaimed campus fuckboy who also happens to be your annoying friend? There’s no way. You’re certain that to him, you’ve always been his friend that easily gets teased and provoked because of his mischievous antics and his unstoppable motor of a mouth, the one he probably only sees as a sibling-shaped friend and not a woman.
“Maybe I should,” he points out in a way that makes it seem like it’s not a bad idea that you came up with that. Because before tonight, he hasn’t thought of that at all.
Glossing over you, Jungkook tries to digest the outfit you’re wearing tonight. A crop top and a skirt, with a pair of white sneakers to finish the cute, preppy attire. He thinks you’re sexy—nice sets of tits, toned legs and you’ve got a cake on you. He thinks you’re beautiful, you always have been. Even in the times when your hair would be messy and little strands of hair would stick up in every direction. Even when you proclaim your hatred for your thick rimmed prescription glasses that only makes an appearance during chill, movie nights at Jimin’s flat, you’re beautiful whenever you wear them. Even when you’re just in your natural state, without any makeup on, you’re charming and good-looking.
Especially the way your eyes would crinkle when you laugh, the way your nose would scrunch up and bare your teeth whenever you would get frustrated and peeved at his teasing, the way you would tuck a strand of hair to the back of your ear, chew on your short nails habitually and the way you would cheer wildly and energetically at every varsity game because you take pride in being a student of the institution.
You’re intelligent, one of the best in your course as he heard from a few friends, you’re sharp-mouthed, exuding confidence whenever you would speak up and make a point. You’re fun to be with, hilarious, a clumsy dork and oddball. It’s puzzling to him that you’re still single when clearly you are girlfriend material.
But then again, he knows you. He knows you’re the kind of person who has high standards, a hopeless romantic deep down who believes that ‘Mr. Right’ exists, that you will have a love story similar to the chick flicks you keep on running on your TV whenever he comes over to visit.
If you weren’t friends first, if there’s no history between you two, if this is a normal setting where boy approaches girl and tries to charm her with his good looks and his wits, he has no doubts that he’d be going home with you before the night ends and he’d be asking for your number the next day. He feels like you two could hit it off right away. Why shouldn’t Jungkook give it a try?
Besides, you keeping up with his banters and his playfulness and throwing your own snappy remarks would be enough to have him hooked if you two met as strangers, if the circumstances are different. You, in this outfit would be more than enough for sexual fantasies penetrating through his brain, enough for the blood to rush through his dick and get him an erection.
“Like I’d let you,” you shoot him down, sniggering at his boldness. “Aren’t you seeing that girl? What’s her name—Emma?”
“I can’t even remember,” he snuffles, laughing lightly. He shakes his head, waving his hand off in dismissal. “That was just a fling anyway.”
He’s met with eye rolls and more snorts from you as you chug your drink until you almost have the same amount left to swallow. Jungkook just cackles at your facial expressions. He shrugs coolly. “What? I’m a man, I have needs.”
Clearing his throat, he adds fairly quickly, scooting much closer to you and playfully elbows your arm. “I bet you can’t relate because you probably haven’t even seen a guy’s dick or had one inside you.”
Whipping your head to face him fully, you argue, slamming your glass on the table as your tone is an octave higher, your buttons really pushed to its limits, tossing him a death glare with a light shove on his leg. “Ugh, for your information, I’ve had boyfriends in the past.”
“Yeah? Who? Fictional characters?”
“No. Fuck you. I’m not a fucking prude, Jeon, I’ve had boyfriends,” you pierce pointedly, annoyance steaming out from your nostrils from being branded as one.
“And I have seen and sucked a guy’s dick. And you know what?” You cross your legs, flip your hair over your shoulder to the back and pepper your words with emphasis, especially the last two. “My ex even said that I give the best blowjobs.”
“That’s nice.” Taking a swig of his drink, he brags to continue the rally. “Well, I’ll have you know too that all the girls I’ve had sex with said I was the best they ever had.”
Jungkook leans closer, whispering to your ear in a provocative manner, slowing his words down. “Do you know why?”
Gulping thickly, you freeze in your seat, realizing you’re sober enough to be aware of his close proximity and his warm breath burning your skin, intensifying the coiling in your stomach that you’re trying hard to ignore. 
“Because I could make them come multiple times. And that’s just by my fingers,” he boasts with his cocky arrogance, lifting his manly fingers up and even demonstrates scissoring, curling, scooping motions in front of you as though you haven’t heard and understood his point already.
At his brashness and his explicitness, you’re matching his confidence with yours, his words instigating your resolve. Bringing out your phone, you open an app, press a few clicks and type a few things before you show him the screen that shows your booking and confirmation, announcing the challenge and laying it all down on the table. “My Uber will be here in exactly fifteen minutes and I bet you can’t make me come twice.”
Spurred by your words, he nods upwards and puts forward his terms. “Alright, but if I win and make you come twice, then you’ll promise to give me a try. Let me take you out on a date.”
Scoffing, you propose your own call. “And if I win, you’ll go streaking at tomorrow’s game.”
He snorts. “Please. I’ll do that even without a bet.”
He’s right. That’s a wrong and weak move at your end, you acknowledge. You try to scramble your brain for a stronger challenge for him. Clapping your hands together at the same time your light bulb moment switches on, you’re proposing your own terms to him, eyes glaring at him fiercely. “If I win, you’ll drink the glass of fat in my fridge.”
Jungkook instantly gasps, aghast at the unexpectedness of your words. You remember how a few days ago, he came over to your place to get some eggs from you because he ran out and you saw him muttering and whining in disgust when he discovered that glass of fat sitting in your fridge. You revealed that Jimin once tried it and Jungkook emphatically remarked in counter that he would never drink fat even if he was offered a large amount of money.
With a seething gaze, narrowly pointed at you, he exhales loudly, and you just know that he’s mentally cursing you in different languages. Arching a challenging brow up, you smirk at the sight of Jungkook being provoked. It’s nice to see him getting a taste of his own medicine.
Enthused, thinking that this is officially on, he affirms, pitch increasing as he displays self-assurance in his abilities. “You’ve got yourself a deal.”
Shaking hands to cement this bet, you shove the screen to his face again. “You better get going then. You’ve got thirteen minutes and forty seconds.”
Next thing you know, he’s twining your fingers together, pulling you briskly to the men’s bathroom of this bar, not even letting you finish the remainder of your whiskey. Locking yourselves in a cubicle, Jungkook cages you in his ironclad hold while your back is on the wall, breathing erratically in anticipation of what’s about to unravel, your curiosity about Jungkook’s sexual prowess finally being nourished.
Muscly arms on either side of your face, he gnaws on his bottom lip and you’re almost dizzy with the closeness he brought between your bodies, the way your breaths are meeting. You’re almost overwhelmed by how you could zero in on his facial features, one that you haven’t really seen before up close. Like that mole on his lower lip. Or that scar on his cheek. Even with these imperfections, somehow, he’s still close to being perfect.
“Am I allowed to kiss you?” he asks in a careful tone, the rising and falling of his huge chest profound.
Your lips jut out for a teasing pout, feigning worry. “Aww, but if you kiss me, you might fall for me.”
Jungkook’s teeth is caught between his lips after your utterance as though he stopped himself from kissing you. Instead, he drops his gaze back and forth to your pupils and lips. Usually, his despicable smirking and winking would make you want to smack his arm because you’re so affected by that sight. But with the close proximity and the remnants of the alcohol taking over your brain, all you have are impure thoughts about your idiot fuckboy of a friend, all you have is your libido skyrocketing, wanting to join him in his tomfoolery on this night.
“I think you would be the one falling for me after I make you come twice and after I take you out on that date.”
Before you can even manage a comeback about his over confidence on himself and winning this bet, Jungkook’s mouth had already found the side of your neck to concentrate on, his hands raking up the skirt you’re wearing, fingers playing with the bands of your panties. 
Your breath immediately hitched when his lips brushed on your flushed skin, peppering your exposed neck area with open-mouthed, wet kisses that has you moaning softly, your spine tingling with electricity when his fingers is cupping your core over the fabric of your underwear. He has a tunnel vision on your soaked spot, humming and smiling in satisfaction.
“Would you hurry up and make me wet already?” You press your body forwards in impatience, your fingers rubbing the back of his head while he kneads on your sex.
He chuckles, finally getting the opportunity to use the proceeding phrases. “You literally have a wet ass pussy. God, I made you that hot and bothered, didn’t I? I didn’t realize I had this m—”
“Shush,” you spit back abruptly. “Get on with it already.”
“Love it when my girl is so needy for me.” Rolling your eyes and groaning in response, Jungkook finally gets to business. Pulling your undies down aggressively, reaching the back of your knees. He rubs your sticky wet folds, circling and massaging the mound. Collecting your dampness that it makes a squelching noise. Gliding inside, his finger plays around, thrusting in and out slowly. Torturing you with the pace.
At the same time, the pad of his thumb massages your clit, broken and staggered sighs escape your lips. He enters a second digit and the look in his eyes turns darker, allowed even more determination and lust to enter them and let them dilate. His tongue runs along your jawline, lapping on the skin below your ear, burning you up, biting and sucking that you’re sure will leave bruises tomorrow. His fingers lunge deeper with a quickened and consistent pace, building up the fire inside you. Pushing your release to a high incline. Jungkook sinks his fingers with precision, hitting new angles that have never been hit before and finding your g-spot.
Your moans automatically become more obvious in this toilet, turning you into a conscious being in hearing the dirty sounds you’re making. When you cover your mouth with your hand, Jungkook immediately swats this away, hissing at you through his lust-hooded eyes. “I wanna hear you when you come.”
There’s no reason to hold back now as a cry tears from within your chest, leaning your head back against the wall and screwing your eyes shut as he keeps on hitting your walls. “Fuck.”
Despite you holding on and postponing your release, Jungkook’s fingers are stronger than your own self-control, much sturdier than your whole confidence, pulling you back down like gravity and insisting you to break. His breathing is louder as he knits his brows in concentration and caresses your cheek with his free hand, his thumb smoothing the skin under your eye as he lowly demands, “Eyes on me when you come, babe.”
Pushing in faster and deeper, you do as he says, only because you really need to chase that high that’s looming in the corner, unable to compress your pleasure and pride in any longer. His fingers curl inside you as he drives in and out, his free hand cupping your breast and massaging it over your shirt, thumb toying with your nipple in languid circles. With a choked gasp, you’re quivering under the power of his fingers, forcing your eyes open and on him while you’re tremoring unglamorously, feeling your release as your walls clench around them.
Panting with your sweat sticking on your forehead, a pleased Jungkook lets you ride out your first orgasm, pulling out and seeing his fingers glistening with white. He sucks on them while watching your reaction to him, smiling when he sees you draw a sharp intake of breath, eyes transfixed on his fingers like a starved woman. Eventually, he cracks a smirk, caves from your penetrating stare and transfers his fingers to your mouth, letting you taste yourself on him.
Slurping the last bit, he offers quickly before he’s dropping his face to your cunt. “Delicious.”
Fishing your phone out to briefly glance at the time, you shoot him with a fact. “Four minutes.” A coy smile flickers through your features, one that you deliberately want him to see. Because the chances of you winning this bet is high. There’s no way he could make you come again. Not when there’s a time bomb ticking over your heads, not when you’re too sensitive now.
It’ll take longer for you to get aroused and ready to come again. And just thinking about him suddenly chugging that glass of fat that he appallingly loathes makes you want to giggle, basking in your imminent victory.
“Plenty of time,” is what tumbles out from Jungkook, surprisingly still so relaxed and collected. Ambitious, is what you think of him at the moment. But then he restarts with more power and skims his clammy palms on the insides of your thighs, travelling from your legs upwards.
His hot breath hovers on your sex, your throaty and mangled breath stuttering out of your chest. The teasing will be the death of you; you might die from his torturous teasing before you could come. The familiar ache builds again in between your thighs when finally, he starts to press deep kisses on the skin above your pussy like he’s imprinting his lips on you, wanting you to carve this night in your memory because this just turned everything around, altered and shifted every bit within your friendship.
As though he read your mind, his tongue flattens in your clit, licking a strip of your folds. Your toes have started to curl up and you’ve chanted his name shamelessly, the noise of people coming and going, murmuring and complaining at you two for hogging one of the cubicles in your surroundings had died down as your mind could only concentrate on your little world here, on the new perspective Jungkook is giving you of himself. 
Jungkook’s mouth turns bolder, his tongue spreading you apart and entering you. Your fingers settle on his hair, gripping and tangling on the strands tightly as you pull his face more into your sex, making him completely disappear, nose hitting the skin above your core the more he eats you sinfully. He places both of your legs on his shoulder as his mouth continues to drink you up.
His purring vibrates through your skin and you encourage him with your loud, guttural sounds, bemoaning against his touch. Jungkook’s hands clutches your hips and you steady yourself, trying to hold it in but he is determined and full of purpose and willpower. His tongue licks a long strip of your folds, slowly before his fingers enter you again, his speedy, powerful ministrations keeping you on edge, desperation and need getting the better of you. All of your inhibitions disintegrating into pieces.
That tight knot of rope that you have inside of you for a long time crumbling apart so easily, as though Jungkook’s fingers effortlessly knows how to work on them, untying it gracefully for its release. “Oh my fucking God, don’t stop. Fuck—Jungkook.”
Rocking your hips forwards and grinding your face against him, your tormentor looks up at your state. Pathetically and unapologetically screaming his name, you plead and beg for a faster speed when his fingers slow down, announcing that he’s striking the right spots so he can repeat the exact same motions.
He smirks, mouth covered in your arousal, stands up and finally catches you off guard when he drops his lips to kiss you like it’s his final weapon. Technically, you didn’t refuse and say no when he asked earlier so here he is, crashing his lips with yours messily and frantically with the pressure of time coursing through your bloodstreams. Tasting the whiskey on his mouth, his fingers curl upwards, deep inside you, vigorously hitting that particular spot that makes you feel so intoxicated and addicted in his touch.
He opens your mouth, tongue prodding through yours, all covered in lust and carnal need as you exchange breaths. And just as your phone is persistently vibrating and ringing with the notification that your Uber is here, you’re breaking apart. Ripples of your pleasure light your nerve wires, has you sighing on his mouth in bliss while he smiles and bites your lower lip, moving against the kiss to take over when you’re too weak.
Your legs feel floppy; you feel like you’re about to black out with the sensation that had built on you gradually and just plummeted right down like that, leaving you in extreme satisfaction from coming twice. Once Jungkook broke away from the kiss, he lets you catch your breath to let you reel in from the afterglow of your second orgasm and let it ebb down to gravitate you back to reality.
He withdraws his fingers away from your sensitive core and luxuriates in the remnants of your taste by sucking and licking his cream coated fingers, fixating his eyes downwards while he watches your mess drip down on your thighs. 
He doesn’t let the moment pass by, slurping every last drop until you’re all clean, tending back to your flushed face, cupping your cheeks and pressing a chaste kiss before he steps back to give you space while you make yourself appropriate for the outside world again, yanking your underwear up and straightening your skirt, fixing your hair, wiping your sweat, calming yourself down to steady your breathing.
“Guess I won,” he crosses his arms and circles his tongue on his cheek, that daredevil smirk splayed across his handsome face.
You’d be damned if you said that that wasn’t the best oral you’ve ever had. Because it was. Hell, you came twice. In fifteen minutes. By his mouth and fingers. What more when you actually have his dick buried deep inside you, pounding your walls and filling you up to the brim? Not that you’re saying you want his dick. Or want to engage in another sexual endeavour with him. It was just a passing, momentary thought.
Fuck. This is bad news, a major red alert. What’s he done to you? Why are you now thinking and lusting over his dick at this moment? Friends don’t do this. Friends don’t think about each other in this way. Friends shouldn’t do this and shouldn’t think about each other in this way.
His laughter resonates through the walls, diverting you back from your thoughts going off in a tangent to present time. Jungkook points his finger at you, clapping in his amusement afterwards at your impassive face that’s trying to conceal the irritation at your obvious defeat.
With you being the source of his entertainment, he emphasises, “You are so annoyed because I won.”
“Congrats, Jeon,” you say monotonously with a plastered, fabricated smile that leaned more towards a snarl. “Do you want a gold star?”
He huffs out a breath, pouts like a petulant child and places his hands in his pockets. “Can you be a little more sincere?”
You’re about to knee his balls right then and there but then the sight halts you in your movement. You see a dent in his pants, the growing bulge beneath his skinny ripped jeans that has you arching one brow up, chewing your bottom lip to resist leering. Extending a hand out, you wait for him to take it. Once Jungkook shakes it, you pull him closer to you as fast as lightning.
Lips centimetres away from each other, your breath ghosts over his skin, cupping his warm cheek with your free hand as you repeat your previous statement with sincerity, drawling the syllables out as you continue to sprinkle your actions with the temptation that you want to leave him, leaning closer with your knee slightly brushing against his crotch. “Congratulations.”
Easily, he takes the bait, parting his lips and inching closer to chase that taste of you again until you retract any fleshy contact between you two away and leave the cubicle all in the blink of an eye. You’ve been defeated in a bet that you suggested in the first place, that you’ve felt so confident about. He won the bet fair and square and you acknowledge that victory. You should be raging, feeling utterly gutted at your loss but somehow, you’re feeling the complete opposite.
If anything, it’s your insides that are jumping for joy. If anything, you’re doing your best to turn that smile down and shove every celebratory, confusing emotion bubbling inside you, waiting to overflow outside. If anything, you’re practically giddy because of what just happened even though you’re dismissing and refusing to accept these feelings that fluttered within the depths of your chest. And if there’s anything to note about, it’s that you’ve made him painfully hard from this little sexual tryst.
He catches up on your trail like a puppy, never letting you out of his sight, walking beside you as you exit the bar and find your Uber waiting for you at the pick-up point. Opening the back door for you, a narrow smile is decorated on his lips, the one that just kissed you back there and made you all so perplexed and dazed with the overwhelming feelings that congregated in the depths of your chest rather than the territories of your lust, in your heated core.
Wetting your lips slowly for him, you make sure his eyes are planted on them, watching these audacious actions from you. Your tongue hangs around on the corner of your lips, swirling and playing before you bat your eyelids up at him, portraying innocence and making him think that you’re oblivious to what you had just done to him and how you had affected him in more ways than one.
Mumbling a meek ‘thanks’ to the gentlemanly gesture he’s displaying, his lips are pursed faintly, a tad of nerves crossing his features as he smooths the back of his head and darts his eyes to the side for a bit. When you touch his bicep and stretch your lips for a smile, he returns to face you as you speak. “I guess I’ll see you on our date?”
Jungkook nods, wetting his lips involuntarily. “I can’t wait.”
Neither can you.
988 notes · View notes
jungkxook · 7 months ago
—pour up. (m)
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⟶ pairing: jungkook x reader x taehyung
⟶ genre: fuckboy!jungkook / fuckboy!taehyung + smut  
⟶ words: 14,048 (idk how it’s literally just smut)
⟶ rating: 18+
⟶ summary: sleeping with both notorious frat boys kim taehyung and jeon jungkook doesn’t sound so bad ━ especially when you’re drunk and faded.
⟶ warnings: mentions of drug/alcohol use, essentially pwp lol, threesome, double penetration, voyeurism, messy rough sex, multiple orgasms, overstimulation, dry humping, manhandling, doggy style, riding (sort of?), fingering, oral sex (f and m receiving), face riding, face fucking, deepthroating, breast play, slight begging (mostly oc making jungkook beg hehe), brief name calling, dirty talking, unprotected sex, creampie
⟶ note: this is a repost of a fic from my old blog! also shout out to miss jlin @bratkook​ for being the sweetest and for liking this trashy fic of mine, and a happy early birthday present to @onherwings​ miss juno, the resident taekook lover!! 💛
also the accompanying song to this fic is pour up by dean!
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There were times when you were sober where you were persistent about never being in a five foot radius of a frat boy, much less strip yourself of your dignity long enough to sleep with one.
Your appalling disgust and immense irritation of the male species that were frat boys kept you well in tune to your rule ━ until you’re far past the point of drunk and faded. Only then, when your bloodstream is laced with alcohol and your mind is nothing but a hazy cloud of smoke, you shrink into a shameless hypocrite and favour the appeal of a simple hook up. But you have needs too; it isn’t entirely your fault. Kim Taehyung offers you exactly that, with the promise to then act as if nothing happens the very next day so that the two of you can revert to despising one another out in public.
You act as if no one knows about your flings with ultimate frat boy Taehyung almost every weekend, as if they’re just as oblivious as you, but damn near the whole school knows and most certainly the rest of the boys in Beta Tau Sigma, or as Taehyung puts it, his brothers. It’s a useless cycle of bicker, avoid, drink, sex, and repeat, ever since you joined the school as a freshman and the sophomore boy took an interest in you. He’s charming in all the right ways and good looking but his smooth appeal was almost too good to be true and, past his “kind” smiles, you could make him out to be arrogant, vain, and cocky. Maybe you would have given him an actual chance had it not been for his snarkiness but all your brain could truly handle was his dick for a few hours a week.
Unsurprisingly, you always end up crashing at Beta Tau Sigma after one of their raging parties that results in your hook ups with Taehyung; surprisingly, Taehyung is miraculously into pillow talk post-sex and so he doesn’t entirely mind if you stay the night. But, by morning, when the alcohol has all but turned into a terrible hangover, he can hardly care less if you stay or not.
Usually, you wake up on your own, courtesy of past sober you setting an alarm on your phone to make sure you wake up earlier than all the other walkers of shame and anyone else in Beta Tau Sigma. Ideally, it was to help guarantee that no one would ever see you or judge you for stooping low enough to sleep with a fuckboy but you don’t know how well that’s working out for you anymore, if you’re being honest.
That’s why, early one fateful Sunday morning after a night of fun with Taehyung, you awaken with a start to the shrill Marimba tone that rips through the silence of the room and causes you to literally jump out of bed and crash onto the floor. You groan at the sharp pain that shoots up your spine and accompanies your groggy mind as your eyes flicker open only to be greeted with a blinding light that is the sun as it filters through the shut curtains. Littered on the ground are clothes, your clothes, beer bottles, red solo cups, discarded bed sheets, a singular condom wrapper (you thank your past selves for at least being sober enough to remember to use one), and your cell phone.
“Turn that shit off, for fuck sakes,” he grovels.
His hangover, and the early morning, makes his already deep voice even rougher, huskier, and you blame your disoriented mind for thinking he sounds even remotely sexy. He doesn’t bother to lift his head from his pillow or to find where you are in the room, the messy longer-than-usual curls of his hair flopping into his lashes as he flips onto his back. Other bodily remnants remain from the night before, from the mellowing ache between your legs left in the wake of his dick sufficiently railing you to the bite marks on his neck that you had so graciously bestowed him.
Now, you roll your eyes at him instead but dive for your phone nearby and tap the snooze button before it wakes the entire house and rouses the army of fuckboys from the dead.
“Good morning to you too,” You remark. “Is that better, princess?”
You push yourself to your feet and stretch, the stiff joints in your body popping and cracking, before searching for your clothes. You’re certain Taehyung has fallen back asleep as you dig around through the clutter to find your belongings but what else is new? It’s a routine the two of you have come to know well, and one that neither of you mind. You spot some sort of lacy material hidden underneath a few of Taehyung’s dirty laundry laying on the floor and reach for it thinking it’s yours. You’re only mildly disturbed to find that it isn’t yours at all ━ though you’re more concerned about the hygienic purposes of touching some other girl’s thong than you are about the blatant fact Taehyung sleeps with more girls than just you (a fact you swear you could care less for).
“Jesus Christ, your room is a disaster,” You scoff now.
“You could clean it,” Taehyung suggests sluggishly. Now, he’s awake, pretty and hooded eyes fluttering open to find you nearby. He props his hand behind his head to lift his gaze a little higher.
You snort, tossing the underwear away. “You never cease to━”
“Amaze you?”
“Repel me more than when I see the collection of thongs you have hidden in your room,” You correct. Fortunately, you spot your own underwear nearby and scoop it up, quickly slipping into them.
“Aw, baby, is that a bit of jealousy I hear?” Taehyung asks. He runs a hand through his dishevelled dark locks and shoots you a drowsy smirk. “You know you’re my one and only. I can always count on you when I want good head.”
“Please, flatter me some more, Tae,” You quip dryly.
As you hastily slide into your stiff shirt and jeans next and turn to face him, combing your fingers through your hair, Taehyung seems to take your words to heart and tries again. “You look like shit.”
You feign a voluntarily loud and overly dramatic moan. “Ugh, you really do know how to treat a girl━” Your cut off by a shameless snort from Taehyung before you continue on, “You know, you don’t exactly look the hottest right now either.”
“I beg to differ,” he replies nonchalantly. Technically, he isn’t lying, but you refuse to feed his ego any more.
“As if.”
“Funny,” he hums. “Could’ve sworn last night you were calling me hot when you were begging for my dick.”
You don’t bother to reply. Instead, you shake your head as you rub your tired face, uttering, “I need a coffee.”
“You could stay,” he offers. “I can make you one.”
“You don’t even know how to boil water,” You retort. “But thanks for the gesture. Try not to throw up on yourself today, okay?”
Taehyung mumbles something in response but then he’s already flipping over onto his side to fall back asleep again. You grab your bag from the floor and slip into your shoes before tiptoeing out of the room.
The Beta house is just as much a disaster as Taehyung’s room is and you find yourself stepping over more bottles, cups, empty pizza boxes, and hungover passed out people with phallic images doodled on their faces. The sun filters into the ever grand mansion and only illuminates the chaos the frat boys put it through. Everyone is thankfully still asleep as you head downstairs but, as you sneak past the kitchen, you notice two figures rummaging about, boisterous unabashed laughter filling the house that somehow hasn’t woken the others yet.
Jeon Jungkook stands before you with Park Jimin, both fellow Beta brothers, though Jungkook is in the same year as you. They, like most other Beta boys (and especially Taehyung), are well known on campus but Jungkook is perhaps even worse than Taehyung. Now, he’s adorned in only low hanging gray sweatpants that show off the ripples of his toned chest and the happy trail that threatens for your eyes to follow it. He holds a bowl of cereal close to him with the same arm decorated on every inch with tattoos, a snapback pushing his messy hair up and away from his forehead. The best part (and you mean that not at all) ━ or the worst ━ is the fact that he stands on a hoverboard, as if walking is too much for him to handle at nine in the morning. Jimin isn’t far off wearing the same attire, only his look is paired with the fuckboy-essential-starter-pack of socks and Adidas slides, and he’s at least actually using his legs to walk.
“Morning,” Jungkook smirks. “Time for the walk of shame?”
You have to retain a sigh. “I’m surprised you’re up, Jeon. I was sure you were gone past the point of saving last night.”
“A couple of shots do nothing for me,” Jungkook replies, shovelling a spoonful of cereal into his mouth. “I was pretty much sober.”
At this, you sit back on your heels and look him once over skeptically. “You kept trying to hook up with me, called your dick Jungcock, threw up in one of the vases, and then passed out in the bathtub. I wouldn’t have exactly called you sober.”
The smirk remains on Jungkook’s face. If anything, he seems more so amused and it pisses you off. Jimin bursts into a fit of laughter and shakes his head.
“Always a pleasure seeing you, Y/N,” he greets. “Hey, are you coming to the party going down at Lambdas house after exams? It’s pretty exclusive but you and your friends are all invited by courtesy of us.”
“Ugh, I can’t even think about going to another party right now. How do you Beta whores do it?” You grovel. “Besides, why would we come if we know you’re going to be there?”
“‘Cause Tae’s going and you’re probably gonna wanna suck his dick,” Jungkook suggests snidely.
“I was gonna say the free booze,” Jimin offers instead. “Man, you know the Lambdas. They’re all rich pretentious sons of country club owners. They hardly throw parties but, when they do, you know it’s going to be wild. I wouldn’t miss it if I were you.”
“Well,” You say, “thanks for the invitation but we’ll see. Maybe if we have a pre-game where I can get drunk enough to handle your faces and the Lambda boys together.”
“I’ve always said you’re more fun when you’re drunk,” Jungkook hums pensively. Your eyes narrow into a glare and you’re fortunate Jimin is there to block your path from tackling Jungkook.
“Okay, whatever,” You grumble. “I’m out of here. I think if I stay here any longer, I’ll lose all my brain cells.”
Jimin chuckles but hardly seems bothered by your comment. He waves you off as he slips out of the kitchen to retreat into another room, leaving you alone with Jungkook.
“Can I get you anything before you go?” he asks. There’s a cheeky tone laced in his words that makes you blatantly aware he’s trying to suggest something more, like his dick.
“Absolutely not,” You wave him off. “See you around, Jungidiot.”
He grins and shoves another spoonful into his mouth. “Hey, maybe next Saturday you can think about blowing me instead of Tae, yeah?”
He’s met with you jamming your middle finger in his face and it only seems to entertain him further. As you march out of their home, slamming the door behind you, you have one discernable thought amongst your hangover and that is that you’ll definitely need to have that pre-game before you have the audacity to even see Jungkook, or any of the Beta boys for that matter, at the Lambdas.
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That Saturday, you find yourself at the Lambdas house party.
So maybe you had sort of been lying when you said you weren’t so sure of going to it, but the thought was tempting enough and you aren’t one to pass up on a good party, especially when it’s after weeks of headaches and stressing over studying and exams.
Mid-terms come and go and when you finally finish writing your last paper, all you want to do is let loose and party and get dicked down by Taehyung. The Lambdas, despite their pretentious behaviour, looks to be very promising ━ but only after you down a few shots beforehand and have a beer while you’re getting ready. You’re not exactly as drunk or as tipsy as you would have prefered but it still gives you a nice enough buzz that makes you warm and lets the adrenaline pump in your veins and excites you even more for the party. The house you rent is off campus but it’s close to Beta’s and Taehyung offers to give you guys a lift to the Lambdas who are a fifteen minute walk away (but you know Taehyung will do anything to not walk anywhere his penny board can’t take him ━ and it’s not even Taehyung who is driving but his friend, Jin).
You can hear the party at Lambdas before you’re even there. The thump of bass coming from the house isn’t hard to miss, especially not with the way it seems to rattle the ground the closer you get. The house is crammed full to capacity and people have already begun to spill onto the lawn by the time you have arrived. A potent waft of alcohol and weed fill your senses and it is all you could really make out in the rambunctious party. You can hardly hear yourself think, let alone what others are saying to you. Yet, you still found a way to have fun almost instantly, drifting away from the guys to party with your friends.
Most of the night is a blur and a haze of confusion but you can remember drinking and drinking some more until you’re sufficiently smashed. You can’t quite recall where you had lost your friends, though you suspect it was after the intense game of beer pong you were suckered into in which you were certain there were no winners or losers as it was just an excuse to drink even more. It’s nearing 1 a.m. when you finally bump into a familiar face, pulling you back from the unruly party and the adrenaline rush coursing through your veins.
You’ve just slipped outside for some fresh air, perched on the front porch, when you notice Jimin is passed out on the lawn below. The other stragglers gathered outside barely take note of him but maybe that’s because he had chosen to faceplant in the shadows under the porch, tucked safely away from the rest of the party. Just before you can even think to walk over to him and make sure he’s still alive, the front door of the house swings wide open and a frenzied Taehyung bursts outside, shortly followed by an equally dumbfounded Jungkook.
“Where the fuck is he?” Taehyung hisses.
“I don’t know,” Jungkook sighs, disgruntled, “but leave it to him to run off and disappear.”
“Looking for someone?”
The two boys startle at your voice. They whirl around to find you taking a sip of the drink in your hand, as if only just noticing your presence. You hadn’t seen them since you parted ways a handful of hours ago in the party, though you’re fairly certain they’re just as smashed as you.
“Ah, babe!” Taehyung beams wolfishly. “What a pleasure seeing you out here. Uh, you wouldn’t happen to have seen where Jimin went, would you?”
You nod in the direction of the sleeping boy down below. “He’s there. He’s passed out cold, though. What the hell did you do to him?”
“Nothing,” Jungkook says. He grimaces as he hastily follows Taehyung down onto the lawn to stand near Jimin, and you in tow. “Jimin just likes to get out of hand. What should we do, Tae? We can’t just leave him here and Luna’s going to be pissed if she sees him like this.”
Taehyung stares down at Jimin miserably, thinking momentarily. “Well, Luna’s looking for him so we might as well drop him off at her dorm. He can deal with her when he’s sober.”
There’s a brief moment where you spot Jungkook seriously considering this though, as if leaving Jimin on the lawn of a frat house is a safer option than returning him to his girlfriend. Ultimately, he caves and you watch as Taehyung nudges Jimin awake (and by nudge, you mean he slaps the boy across the face) before pulling a very disoriented Jimin to his feet and slinging one of his arms over Taehyung’s neck.
“Fuck, he’s heavy,” Taehyung huffs. “Give me a hand, Jungkook.”
Jungkook nods, stepping forward to take Jimin’s other arm and hook it around his own neck. The two boys seem to be struggling carrying most of Jimin’s body weight, though they’re carrying mostly dead weight as Jimin continues to drift in and out of consciousness.
Before they can leave you offer to help though you don’t know what you can really do so you suspect your inebriated mind just wanted to go with them for the hell of it. Luna’s place isn’t far. It’s a ten minute walk from Lambda’s, but in that ten minutes, none of you talk about anything of real importance except for chuckle and laugh about things that happened at the party.
Eventually you make it to Luna’s, who answers the door angrily after you knock on it as if you’ve disrupted her slumber and frowns when she sees Jimin’s current state. At least she has the decency to thank the three of you. When she shuts the door behind her, the three of you turn to look at one another, almost clueless.
“So, what now?” Taehyung asks. “Head back to the party?”
The thought of making the ten minute walk back to the party in your drunken mind seems like an eternity. That, mixed with the way your feet scream in agony from the heels you’re wearing, you begin to pout and shake your head.
“I can’t walk anymore,” You whine, words drunkenly slurring together. “I’d be fine just sitting here.”
Jungkook’s nose scrunches as he looks at you once over. “How drunk are you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, how about we just go back to our place?” Taehyung asks. His arm slides around your waist then, tugging you close to his side. If one thing is for certain, the boy tends to get more handsy the more drunk he is, and you never seem to mind. “I’ve got a fresh bowl we can hit and we can drink there and just chill?”
You and Jungkook consider Taehyung’s offer fleetingly and, to you, it seems much more appealing.
“Sign me up,” You say. “The Lambdas were a bit too over the top for my liking. There’s only so much I can handle.”
Jungkook shrugs and nods in agreement. “Then I guess I’m going with you guys.”
The five minute walk to Beta is short and soon you’re inside the eerily empty house and climbing the steps to Taehyung’s room but not before the three of you raid their cabinets for any type of liquor. Eventually, you’re all lounging in Taehyung’s room, some type of music playing in the background as the three of you pass around a bottle of whisky and the bong Taehyung had promised he had, giggling at each other.
By 2 a.m., you are smashed and faded but blissfully so.
Taehyung and Jungkook are not too far off. It’s Taehyung who comes up with the idea to play strip poker, though with a twist. His version of the game includes: taking a shot anytime one of you loses a round along with either stripping an article of clothing or being allowed to pass it and get dared to do something else, though each person only has three passes.
Jungkook loses the first round, shedding only his jacket. Taehyung and you lose the second round; you decide to strip out of your own cardigan while Taehyung flicks off his hat. Jungkook and Taehyung lose the third round and both kick off their shoes. The game progresses slowly, with the three of you coming up with “clever” loopholes out of the rules, like stripping one sock one round and then another sock the next and all of you are too drunk to really protest. Eventually, the game winds up with Taehyung and Jungkook both in their pants and you still wearing both your shirt and jeans. Both the boys have used one of their passes and are still losing which, you will admit, boosts your confidence ever so slightly especially when you have such a nice view in front of you.
Both boys are toned, with certified gym rat Jungkook’s abs a bit more chiseled, and you know that sober you would cringe at how hard you seem to be drooling over them. Jungkook must notice because he shoots you a wink that has you squirming in your seat.
“Like what you see?” he asks.
“N-No,” You say shortly. “Shut up and go. It’s your turn.”
You end up losing that round, unfortunately, but you have no qualms with stripping out of your jeans and kicking them to the side. The next round, you lose again, except you decide to use one of your passes which has both boys groaning in defeat.
“Remember,” You coo, “play nice boys.”
The two exchange a look and you wait patiently, taking your shot of whisky in the meantime as Taehyung chides you on encouragingly with a cheeky, “Pour up, baby girl.”
You down the shot in one gulp, wincing as it burns down your throat, then chase it quickly with the drink you had stolen from their kitchen. A drowsy smirk tugs at Taehyung’s lips as he takes another rip from the bong, breathing out a cloud of smoke as he hums insouciantly, “I’ve got your dare.”
There’s a split moment where he makes eye contact with you and pushes his hair out of his eyes.
“Come here and kiss me.”
Had you been sober, you might have rolled your eyes at his simple yet assertive dare but, instead, you can’t help but snicker as you lean across to him from your seat on the floor and pull him down for a not so graceful kiss. His whisky coated tongue instantly collides with yours in an open mouthed frenzy that’s full of teeth clashing and wet sounds but it’s hot, too hot, even as Taehyung pulls you closer to him with his hand grasping at your chin. You instinctively react, teeth nipping at his lower lip as you suck hard, momentarily forgetting about Jungkook sitting in the room.
A moan emits from you as your fingers thread through his hair. Jungkook is left to watch but his eyes stay locked on your figure and the way you cave so easily to Taehyung, the way your mouth moves against his. He can’t seem to tear his eyes away from your position on your hands and knees, or the way you arch your back in an attempt to get closer to Taehyung, and he certainly can’t seem to look away from the tempting curve of your ass jutting in his direction. All Jungkook suddenly wants is for you to be kissing him the same way you’re kissing Taehyung.
You’re only interrupted when he finds the nerve to clear his throat after a few moments. “Nah, it’s alright, I’ll just sit here. Do you guys want me to leave?”
He’s being sarcastic, of course, and when you and Taehyung part to look at the boy, he’s scowling. The two of you chuckle lightly but don’t respond, though you remember the game you’re still playing. Taehyung kisses you one last time before you settle back onto the floor, a sheepish giggle bubbling in your chest. Taehyung loses the next round and he decides to strip down into his underwear though he hasn’t lost yet (the goal is nudity and neither of your drunk selves have enough dignity left to give up before then).
The round after that, you lose again. You decide, once more, to use another one of your passes and the two boys pause, thinking of a dare for you as you take a shot (which, you have realized, only get harder to take as time passes).
“I have one,” Taehyung says at long last.
“Bro,” Jungkook groans, “if you just wanna fuck, let me know. I’ll leave. I don’t think I can sit here and watch you dare her to suck your face again.”
Taehyung laughs and shakes his head. “Easy there. I was just gonna suggest that you━” he points at you before nodding toward Jungkook, “give him a lap dance.”
“A what?” Jungkook’s jaw drops open, his eyes widening. “M-Me?”
You glance up at Taehyung, quirking an eyebrow. “Him?”
Taehyung erupts into another fit of laughter but he’s the only one who finds the situation hilarious because you and Jungkook continue to sit there, dumbfounded. When Taehyung calms himself down, he wipes his eyes and shakes his head.
“Are you seriously telling me you haven’t been noticing?” he asks.
“Noticing what?”
“The way Jungkook keeps eye-fucking you,” Taehyung says simply.
Jungkook gaps. “The fuck? I haven’t.”
“Jungkook, you’re not exactly sly,” Taehyung says. “He’s been doing it the whole night, babe. It’s not the first time he’s done it, too. I just figured we could do him a little favour.”
Your turn to look up at Jungkook and purse your lips. He’s seated in Taehyung’s desk chair and has a frown painted on his face. It’s not like it comes as a surprise to you because he’s constantly trying to flirt with you even when you’re sober but his sudden flustered appearance puzzles you slightly. You’ll admit the idea is ludicrous, but Jungkook is undeniably hot, and grinding on his dick sounds more than wonderful to you in your current state. Either way, you stand to your feet.
“I’ll do it,” You say. “Why not?”
“Wh-What?” Jungkook yelps. “You will?”
“Yeah,” You flash him a pearly smirk. “What? Is confident Jungkookie finally shy?”
At the mention of the taunting nickname, he straightens up in his seat and scowls. “No. I’m just surprised you gave in so easily. You must really like me, huh?”
“Keep dreaming, Jeon,” You retort.
The music is still playing in the background as you slink towards Jungkook’s seated figure. Meanwhile, Taehyung is watching with an amused look on his face and sits back, clearly enjoying the view as he tells you that you have three minutes. As you approach Jungkook, he leans back in his seat and watches you with dark eyes. Jungkook’s eyes sweep over your figure, from the way you muse your hands through your messy hair, your tight tank top with one strap falling down your shoulder, your lacy and scantily clad underwear, and your smooth legs. He gulps at the sight and shifts in his seat.
As soon as you’re standing in front of him, you whirl around so that your back is to him and jutt your butt out just enough to catch his attention as you sway your hips to the music. Your hands ghost up your sides just faintly enough so that chills run down your spine and you lock eyes with Taehyung for a split second to see him grinning. You sit back on Jungkook’s lap and his breath hitches in his throat suddenly. He hates to admit how easily you’re driving him crazy and as soon as you are but he takes the time to enjoy the dance anyway, eyes staying trained on your ass as you grind against him in agonizingly slow circles and right against his dick nestled against his thigh. He can’t help it when a moan emits from him.
“Fucking hell,” he grunts, raking his hands through his hair. You snicker at his reaction, craning your neck to look behind at him.
“Enjoying yourself, Kookie?”
“N-No,” he rasps. This is a lie, of course. “Turn around.”
His command only humours you but you don’t disobey. You get up for a second to spin around and face him before climbing back onto his lap, swinging one leg over his. Before you drop your hips completely on him, you’re rocking them back and forth against the thin air, your hands snaking around his neck. His hands suddenly find purchase on your waist and he yanks you down onto him with a sudden neediness that surprises you, though you don’t complain. You continue to grind against his lap and you can’t help your greedy self when your hands reach out to run up and down his toned chest. He shivers at your slightest touch, his jaw clenched, but he keeps his gaze focused on your eyes, as if challenging you for more. Behind you, Taehyung is taking another hit from the bong and laughs lightly at Jungkook’s reactions.
“Let him touch you,” Taehyung says.
You expect Jungkook to listen to Taehyung and reach out to grab onto you but he hesitates, his hands remaining at your hips. So, instead, you take his hands in yours and begin pulling them up, sliding them along your midriff and up to your chest. You don’t even flinch as you let him cup your boobs over your clothes and you watch him slyly as he gulps.
“Is this the first time you’ve actually touched a girl, Jungkook?” You quip. “You’re gawking at my boobs like it is. Not gonna wet yourself, hm?”
“Fuck off,” he growls, though there’s no malice in his voice.
Instead, he focuses his attention on your breasts and the weight of them in his palm. They’re soft and supple and he squeezes them firmly, jiggles the flesh as he fondles at you blatantly. He hates to admit it but he feels as if he’s going to combust at any second, repressing the sudden urge to tear off your shirt and burrow his head in your chest, your boobs in his mouth. He doesn’t know whether the soft moan that slips from your parted pink lips is intentional to mess with him or because you had been getting carried away yourself. Either way, Jungkook’s certain it’s the hottest thing he’s heard in a while, the hottest thing he’s seen in a while, and he hates how his sudden erection forms, how embarrassing it must be. When you feel his hardened length start to poke at your thigh, you look down at him past your lashes and smirk.
“Are you hard already, Kookie?” You giggle.
Taehyung roars with laughter abruptly and the outburst only makes Jungkook redden.
“I━I━” he stammers helplessly.
You shake your head at him and then purposely press your hips a little more firmly against his, gripping at his shoulders now. You’re challenging him now too, and he doesn’t know what you have in mind but you’re wickedly set on making him cum in his pants before Taehyung stops you.
“Time’s up,” he says.
Jungkook almost groans out loud in frustration when you pull away and step off of his lap. He’s embarrassingly hard now but his drunk self doesn’t try very hard to hide it. Taehyung’s stare is settled on Jungkook as you walk back to your seat but, before you can even sit down, Taehyung is beckoning you over.
“Come here, babe,” he hums. You look at him curiously but move in his direction. “What do you say we help Jungkook with his problem, huh?”
“Help? How?” You question.
“Come sit,” Taehyung gestures to his thigh.
Jungkook watches with silent seething jealousy as you take a seat on Taehyung’s thigh and then he’s kissing you, pressing his lips against your neck. You react almost instantly, your head craning to allow him more access and your eyes clamp shut, your mouth hanging open in delight.
“Tae━” You mewl, tugging at his hair, as if to prompt him wordlessly about Jungkook’s presence. But when does it become too much? Every action seems to keep building and building, that you know where the night surely must be heading; that you crave it.
Taehyung’s tongue swirls at your neck, his lips sucking on the sensitive skin, before he peeks one eye open to look at Jungkook.
“Look at him,” Taehyung hums against you. “Look at how jealous he is right now. Look at how bad he wants to be me right now.”
You take a moment to register his words, your head spinning. You struggle to find Jungkook as Taehyung continues to ravish your neck. Jungkook’s stare is hard, his jaw clenched; his hands are balled into tight fists that let you see the bulging veins in his arms. Is he jealous? Angry?
Taehyung suddenly bites down onto your neck and you gasp in surprise, leaning against his chest. His nimble fingers find the hem of your shirt which he lifts and discards on the floor with ease. Next to come off is your bra. You don’t realize your torso is bare until a slight breeze hits your breasts and perks your nipples and Taehyung reaches up to cup the soft tissue in his large hands and Jungkook can’t look away because, fuck, touching you is all he really wants to do.
“Do you see him staring now?” Taehyung asks. “Do you see how desperate he is for you? Look at how bad he wants to touch you right now, baby girl. Will you let him?”
You’re still staring at Jungkook as Taehyung speaks and note how fast Jungkook’s demeanour has changed. He looks helpless, his erection more prominent in his straining jeans which he shamelessly palms at to feel some sort of relief.
“Better yet,” Taehyung hums, averting your attention back to him. He’s sliding one of his hands down your front and in between your legs, pushing your thighs apart. His digits come in contact with your clothed pussy and the sudden touch, light and feathery, makes you jump and gasp. You hadn’t been aware of how wet you had been until he touched you just then and the coil in your stomach only tightens with each passing second. “Will you let him play with you?”
It takes you a second to respond, though that isn’t because you’re struggling to decide. The thought entices you far more than you ever believed it could. Taehyung is suddenly rubbing his fingers against your clothed clit in so very slow circles that it suddenly has you tripping over your own thoughts. You’re biting hard onto your lower lip as you force yourself to nod hastily.
“Do you want him to?” Taehyung asks.
“Fuck, yes,” You whine. “Mmm, Tae━”
Taehyung shifts you in his lap so that your back is pressed against his chest, leaning all your weight against him. It’s hard to focus as one of his hands fondles one of your breasts while his other presses figure eights onto your clit. You’re on full display for Jungkook now, though his eyes fall to the wet spot that forms on your pretty little underwear as your arousal leaks from you.
“How badly do you want him to?” Taehyung asks.
“So badly,” You whimper.
This catches Jungkook’s attention and he leans forward in his seat. Taehyung smirks against you and then he’s moving, withdrawing his hand from between your thighs to hook around the waistband of your underwear. He gives it a quick tug and you fumble to lift your hips so he can pull the useless fabric down your legs. Once it pools at your feet, you kick it off to the side and then Taehyung’s hand returns between your thighs.
“Spread your legs,” he says.
You do as you’re told, pushing your thighs apart but then instinctively squeezing them shut when Taehyung continues to press his fingers against your clit. The sudden stimulation is too much for you and your face begins to heat up so Taehyung uses the chance to push your legs apart for you. He hitches one of your thighs over his own as if to anchor you in place and it works.
“Can you stay like that for me, baby?” Taehyung drawls. “Look at Jungkook for me.”
You nod, your throat dry as you lift your gaze to lock eyes once more with Jungkook. You find the boy gawking at your sex and you moan suddenly. His head snaps up to stare at you with a sudden blazing determination and lust in his eyes before they fall once more to your pussy, admiring the way it pulsates each time Taehyung swipes at your clit or tweaks at your nipples. But the best part? The best part is just how wet you are, your clear juices coating Taehyung’s fingers, spilling onto yours and Taehyung’s thighs with the passing seconds, and suddenly Jungkook is hungry for you. But what he doesn’t know is how you suddenly imagine Jungkook in Taehyung’s place, sat beneath you poised daintily on his lap, his fingers pressing against you.
You twist on top of Taehyung, your own hand reaching up to grasp at your other breast, pinching at the nipple tightly. A delighted moan fumbles from your lips. “Jungkook━ Fuck━”
“It’s nice, yeah?” Taehyung asks aloud to the other boy. “She’s pretty, hm?”
Jungkook nods eagerly and then groans. “She’s dripping. Fuck, it’s so hot.”
Your face burns at his words but you don’t have enough wits to think of a snarky retort like usual.
Taehyung chuckles. “Why don’t you come here then and touch her? Taste her? Is that okay, baby?”
When you realize Taehyung is asking you, you nod eagerly. “Shit, please━ Jungkook, wanna feel you━”
At your request, Jungkook practically tumbles out of his seat. As soon as he’s standing on his feet, the realization seems to hit him and he takes his time, walking to you slowly. His gaze sweeps over your exposed body and he licks his lips, his eyes suddenly darkening. Taehyung doesn’t stop touching you or marking your neck his even as Jungkook walks closer and it hits you in that moment what exactly you’re doing and who you’re with ━ and you fucking love it. Jungkook kneels down in front of you and Taehyung nods in encouragement.
“She’s impatient and feisty,” Taehyung informs. “But that makes her fun to tease.”
“I know how to pleasure a girl,” Jungkook quips.
“But you don’t know how to pleasure Y/N,” Taehyung replies. “You’re too cocky, Jungkookie, and she doesn’t like that. You need to take your time with her and you don’t do that often with girls, do you?”
Jungkook doesn’t respond but, judging by his face, you assume Taehyung is right.
“What do you want me to do?” Jungkook asks. He’s staring at your face now and only your face. His intense stare makes you squirm on Taehyung’s lap, and makes you suck your lower lip between your teeth.
“Touch me,” You rasp. “Touch me, please, Jungkook.”
God, how he loves hearing you moan his name. But the anticipation is killing you. You’ve felt Taehyung’s fingers plenty of time; you’ve never felt Jungkook’s, and the abrupt need seems to grow more intense with each passing second.
“You heard her, Jungkookie,” Taehyung says. He draws his hand away from your heat and kisses your neck softly. “Go on. Touch her. Be gentle, go slow.”
Jungkook is shaking with excitement ━ or maybe it’s just the weed and alcohol in his bloodstream ━ but he eyes you carefully, gnawing down on his lower lip. He reaches out at a tedious pace and hesitates, his fingers hovering over your core. Taehyung is watching with eager eyes whilst planting open mouthed kisses along your shoulders, neck, and jawline. Jungkook finally presses his fingers against your pussy and your reaction is immediate. You toss your head back against Taehyung’s shoulder and jutt your hips forward.
“Nnngh, fuck, Kook━” You whimper. “M-More━ Wanna feel more━”
Jungkook takes that as a good sign and follows after Taehyung, rubbing circles into your clit slowly. He feels just how wet you are, his fingers coating with your cum as they move with ease past your folds, and it’s enough to let the wave of glee wash over him again.
“See? Look how much she loves it already,” Taehyung says. “Keep going.”
Jungkook doesn’t need to be told twice. As he rubs his fingers over your clit, his other hand comes up in a greedy fashion. He can’t stop himself from slipping a finger past your folds and it takes all you can not to moan out loud but you give up on the prospect of remaining quiet when it feels so good to have both boys on you.
“Let him know how you feel, baby,” Taehyung purs. “How he’s making you feel.”
You struggle to find your voice momentarily, too caught up with the lust and desire but then a cry of delight falls from your lips. “Fuck, ah, Jungkook! That feels s-so good━”
Jungkook’s head snaps up to look at you in pure disbelief.
“Holy shit, that’s so fucking hot,” he huffs. “I never thought you’d moan my name and now you’re so wet and tight and for me━”
“And me,” Taehyung admonishes offhandedly.
Jungkook doesn’t reply but that’s mostly because he’s suddenly fixated on curling his finger inside of you and watching your every reaction. Your hips jut forward and you cry out, panting at the blissful feeling but it isn’t enough. You need more, and you need more now. As if Taehyung can read your mind, he chimes in again, disrupting yours and Jungkook’s reverie.
“Why don’t you have a taste of her?” he asks. “You won’t regret it.”
Jungkook’s eyes light up and he watches as you nod eagerly, desperate pleas coming from your mouth. Jungkook lowers himself down between your thighs and you wait with bated breath before he’s licking a clean stripe against your folds with his flattened tongue. The sudden slippery warmth has your body writhing in pleasure.
“Jungkook━” You cry out. “Oh my god━”
Jungkook grins. Then he’s licking at you again, tasting your sweet succulence, and groans into your hot core.
“Shit,” Jungkook huffs. “You taste amazing.”
He nibbles down slightly on your clit without warning and tugs. You instantly jerk into his mouth, a strangled moan ripping from your throat that sounds something like a scold of his name and a desperate plea for more. “Jungkook!”
Taehyung snickers against your neck and you can feel Jungkook’s lips curl into a taunting smirk between your thighs. Jungkook’s finger still curls deep within you as his tongue returns to lapping at your clit and you can feel his nose brushing against you the deeper he burrows into you. Meanwhile, Taehyung is continuing to ravish your neck, his hands tweaking at your nipples. The onslaught of senses is so much for you that you nearly scream when Jungkook’s tongue dips into your heat so suddenly to accompany his finger. He laps at you hungrily and you gasp, your breath stuttering as your hands come down to tug hard in his raven locks, your hips bucking forward and into his mouth. It feels fantastic, too incredible for you to put into words, as you feel the wetness of his tongue lap at your walls and suddenly you’re aware of just how susceptible you are to both of the boys near you.
“Fuck, don’t stop, Jungkook,” You moan.
“Now who’s the needy one?” Jungkook coos against your cunt. “Gonna cum on my tongue?”
“P-Please━ Want it so badly, Kook━”
He smacks his lips against you, taking as much as he can of you into his mouth and sucking hard until all you hear are the lewd wet sounds of his tongue and finger working miracles against you. You’re clutching his hair so tight, pushing him closer into your heat but he doesn’t relent. One of his hands comes up to hold onto your waist, to push you firmly back onto Taehyung’s lap and closer into Jungkook’s mouth. You can feel Taehyung’s budding erection poking against your thigh and it’s enough to make you flustered once more.
In an attempt to help Taehyung, you find yourself grinding not only into Jungkook’s mouth but onto Taehyung’s lap, earning a growl into your neck. Taehyung’s free hand comes up to your chin which he grabs roughly. He forces you to look at him and then he’s smashing his lips onto yours in a heated fashion for an entirely ungraceful kiss. It’s needy and hot, completely open mouthed as your tongues mingle in the air and as Taehyung sucks on your lower lip. Yet you tear your gaze from Taehyung to look down at Jungkook as he buries himself further into your pussy, his nose nuzzling against your clit. You’re dripping by now and you can see your own juices smear onto his lips, dribble down to his chin, and it’s the hottest thing you could ever imagine seeing. He doesn’t seem to care as it spills down his neck and suddenly the mere sight has you squirming again. You part from Taehyung’s mouth with a wet pop that rings in your ears and moan.
“Fuck━ nghn, I━I━ think I’m close,” You whimper.
“Fuuck, yes,” Jungkook growls against you.
“Let it go, baby,” Taehyung hums, nibbling at your ear. “Cum for him, for us.”
Jungkook’s pace quickens, pumping his finger faster in you and sucking at your clit until you have no more strength to hold off. Your hands fumble in his hair, trying desperately to pull him closer, and you hate how badly you want your sweet release already. It doesn’t help when Taehyung twists your body ever so slightly so that he can lean down to your breasts and catch one of your nipples between his teeth. His tongue swishes back and forth against the perked bud and you whimper again, the coil in your stomach tightening and loosening.
You’re so close now and Jungkook can hear it, can feel it, can taste it. You don’t have much longer after that before your orgasm is hitting you hard.
“I’m gonna━” You reach out to grasp at Jungkook’s hair, tugging at the roots. “Fuck, Jungkook━”
You cry out suddenly, the coil in your stomach springing apart. Jungkook moans into your pussy as you cum, pulsating around his tongue and finger and dripping into his mouth. You’re reduced to nothing but a whimpering, writhing mess against Taehyung as you buck back and forth into Jungkook’s mouth to ride out your high. Taehyung pulls apart from you to rub circles into your hips and the seemingly gentle move somehow soothes the intense wave of pleasure into something much sweeter. Fire burns at your core and flicks outward until your whole body is warm and numb and then you collapse against Taehyung’s chest, panting hard. Jungkook drinks up every last bit of you and you begin to cringe at the oversensitivity before you gain some of your wits again. You push his head away hastily and this time he relents.
“Did all your little happy wet dreams finally come true, Jeon?” You snicker languidly.
The boy sits back on his knees and looks up at you, locking gazes with yours. You can finally see his face, his tousled black hair, his swollen red lips, and chin, all of which are covered in your perfect sheen. He licks at his lips and wipes at his chin and neck where his tongue can’t reach and he does all of this without breaking eye contact with you. A small smirk forms on his face and suddenly you’re filled with an intense need for payback.
“Yeah, you act confident now but you seemed to enjoy it when you were riding my face,” Jungkook says. You roll your eyes, about to reply before he adds, “So, you’re welcome.”
“You’re impossible,” You huff, pushing yourself off of Taehyung’s lap.
“Where do you think you’re going, baby?” Taehyung mewls behind you. “We still need you.”
“Oh, I know,” You quip. You reach down to grab onto Jungkook’s chin, forcing him to look up at you. “But it’s my turn, don’t you think, Tae?”
Taehyung chuckles and nods in agreement. Jungkook, however, hardly looks bothered, though he seems a little taken aback by your sudden assertiveness when you begin pulling him up to his feet before pushing him back onto the bed. Taehyung scoots over so that the three of you can fit comfortably on his bed and then you’re moving, crawling over to Jungkook on your hands and knees.
“Are you trying to intimidate me?” Jungkook asks. “Because this is sexier than it is scary.”
You’re hovering over his crotch when he speaks, your greedy hands reaching forward to brush against his hard dick straining in his jeans. He nearly jolts in his seat at the sudden touch and you and Taehyung giggle again.
“Mmm, baby, teach him a lesson,” Taehyung hums. “Suck him off nice and slow but don’t let him cum.”
“Not unless he begs for it,” You say wickedly.
Taehyung stifles a chuckle. “I told you she’s feisty, Jungkookie.”
The younger boy is eyeing you carefully as you busy yourself by undoing the belt buckle on his jeans. He acts unimpressed, unfazed, as you unbutton his jeans and began sliding them off his legs, but you can see the needy and impatient glint in his eyes. Your eyes fall immediately to the ever present straining bulge in his boxers and you gulp in response, licking your lips. You can’t help yourself when you reach out to brush your fingers faintly along his length. He jolts in his seat and grits his teeth, shooting you a hard glare.
“Are you seriously going to tease me?” Jungkook grumbles. “We can skip all of that, y’know━”
“It’s payback, Jeon,” You hum, running your fingers down his dick and then back up again. “Where’s the fun in it if I skip all of the teasing?”
“You know,” Taehyung murmurs from beside you. He’s reclining back, watching you with intense eyes and is completely shameless about his prominent erection contained by his boxers. “I’m surprised the idiot hasn’t referred to his dick yet as Jungcock.”
You giggle, an all too innocent and sweet sound for the way you’re palming at Jungkook’s dick. Jungkook, who is apparently having a rather difficult time keeping up with his surroundings while your fingers continue to work against him, scoffs. His eyebrows knit together as he throws a beady glare at the older boy.
“You’re ruining the mood,” he grunts.
Taehyung clicks his tongue against his teeth, a smirk tugging at his luscious lips. “Of course. I digress.”
You turn your attention back to Jungkook who’s staring down at your hand with parted lips and a crease in his brows. Without warning, you grasp him through his boxers and he groans suddenly, bucking forward. The desperation of his situation only seems to increase in severity when you peel back the elastic band of his boxers and slide them off his legs, finally freeing his dick which springs out from it’s confines. He’s much bigger than you expected, his tip angry and red, leaking with pearly beads that dribble down his length and the bulging veins that line it.
“You’re staring again,” Jungkook hums when he notices you pause, your eyes wide. “Sure you don’t like what you see?”
You shake yourself from your daze and frown. “Shut up.”
The boy starts to chuckle at your flustered expression but yelps when you clasp your fingers around the base of his cock. A beautiful moan falls from his lips and excites you even more. You start pumping him slowly, guiding your hands up and down his length in careful and measured motions, wiping your thumb across his tip each time you reach it. Jungkook shudders in your touch, his teeth coming down to gnaw hard on his lower lip. His eyes are glued to your hands working against him, his face scrunching up in pure euphoria.
“Mmm, fuck,” he grunts, his head lolling back. “Stop teasing me and go faster.”
You don’t listen. If anything, you slow your pace and it has him so frustrated that he lets an involuntary whimper escape him. He bucks into your clenched hand, practically begging for more but remains quiet, safe for his heavy panting.
“You heard her, Kook,” Taehyung says. “Beg for her.”
“There’s no way I’m begging,” Jungkook hisses through gritted teeth. “Never. I never have and never will.”
“Bullshit,” You scoff. You fondle at his balls with your other hand and he moans again. Your hand comes to a complete halt all of a sudden, interrupting Jungkook as he is about to speak. Before he can protest, you lean down and lick at his tip, swirling your tongue around him once to taste his saltiness. His hips rut forward into you but you pull back almost immediately and find Jungkook gaping. You meet his desperate eyes for a steady gaze. “Beg. Just once, Jungkookie.”
Jungkook’s stare wavers as you run your fingers along his tip, squeezing slightly. He tries to compose himself, to remain calm, but when you are relentless, he caves very easily. He only gives in when you kiss the base of his cock. And those eyes ━ fuck, the way your eyes turn so wide and already look so fucked out. How could he resist you?
“Fuck, fuck, okay,” he gasps. “I need more, baby, please. Ah, please━ You feel so fucking good.”
His needy pleas satisfy you and your lips curl into a devious grin. You lower yourself on him suddenly, licking a clean stripe up his length and he moans loudly. You enclose your mouth around his tip and suck, earning a small growl from him as he pushes his hips forward for more. In the next second, you sink your mouth down his length, taking as much of him as you can.
“Fuck!” he moans abruptly. “Ahh, shit, that feels amazing, baby.”
You hollow out your cheeks as you pull your head up and then back down, starting at an even pace that has him moaning and writhing beneath you. He feels much bigger in your mouth but you don’t mind even when he bucks himself into you unexpectedly and hits the back of your throat. The action makes you gag around him and, in return, he curses at the way it feels.
“K-Keep doing that,” he mumbles. “Please, fuck, just like that.”
His fingers thread in your hair and he pulls you down greedily on him but you don’t refuse.
“Can you do it, baby girl?” Taehyung questions. His hand finds his way on your back where he rubs gentle circles into your skin. “Can you take all of him in your mouth?”
You nod carefully around Jungkook’s hardened length.
“Good girl,” Taehyung smirks. “Go slow.”
You follow his orders, sinking gradually onto Jungkook until you feel the tip of him hitting the back of your throat. You gag once more but, instead of pulling back, you shut your eyes and take a few deep breaths in through your nose. In, out, in, out, and then you swallow. Jungkook’s reaction is sudden and intense. He bucks into your mouth unwillingly and moans even louder, his fingers clutching at your roots.
“That’s it, baby,” Taehyung hums and his sudden presence is comforting.
“A-Again,” Jungkook stammers. “Again, please━ holy shit, you feel amazing.”
You swallow again and then a third and each time you can feel yourself sinking lower onto him. Tears prickle at your eyes as your nose is suddenly pressed against his lower abdomen but his reactions are well worth it and so you continue.
“You’re doing so well, baby,” Taehyung says, planting a chaste kiss against your shoulder. “You deserve some more attention, hm?”
His fingers slowly rub circles down your back, his lips following your arch and has you shivering beneath him, before stopping at the dip just above your ass. He’s kneeling behind you now, his fingers massaging into your thighs. You sigh against Jungkook when you feel Taehyung’s fingers continue their trek to your ass, rubbing you carefully. You, in response, push your hips back, waiting for more.
“You’re still so wet, baby,” Taehyung says. “I bet you’d come with one touch of my finger.”
With Jungkook buried hilt deep inside your mouth, you’re hardly prepared for when Taehyung slips his fingers underneath to your folds. It’s embarrassing to admit how right he is. You react instantly, moaning around Jungkook and jutting your hips back for more. The simple vibration has Jungkook groaning, his hips bucking forward. You hadn’t even been aware of just how wet you are before Taehyung pointed it out but then you can feel it, pulsing out of you and dripping down the top of your inner thighs.
“But you need more, don’t you?” Taehyung asks. “How about my cock? Will you let me fuck you, baby girl?”
You nod eagerly, the simple question exciting you even more. Taehyung chuckles and leans down to press a kiss to the arch of your back.
“But you’ll have to be good and keep pleasuring Jungkook too, okay?” Taehyung says.
You hum in response and swallow around Jungkook as if to tell both boys that you have no plans on stopping. Jungkook twitches inside you and scrunches his eyes shut.
“Fuck, Taehyung,” he grumbles. “Hurry up. Any time you touch her, she swallows. It feels so good.”
Taehyung snickers but he takes his time. He runs his fingers up and down your folds until you’re moaning needily against Jungkook. You look over your shoulder to see Taehyung’s fingers wrapped around his own hardened and pulsating erection, pumping himself a few times as he stares at you carefully. He positions himself behind you and takes the chance to run his tip and length along your folds. You whimper suddenly, hoping your desperate noises will spur him on.
“You want more, baby?” Taehyung asks.
You hum again, your voice muffled and hoarse.
“Okay,” he sighs. “Only because you’ve been so good.”
You have no time to brace yourself from the sudden impact of feelings. He doesn’t do much except for push himself into you, past your folds. It’s only just the tip and yet your heart jolts in your chest, the coil in your stomach tightens. It feels so good to finally have something of larger girth in you that you gap, simultaneously sinking down further onto Jungkook. The two boys grunt above you, both of them panting hard.
“You feel so good, baby,” Taehyung mumbles. “Fuck, you’re so wet.”
He leans down to press a kiss against your shoulder, his other hand coming up to rest on the dip of your lower back to guide you. He slowly, so very slowly, pushes himself into you, inch by inch, so you can feel the way he stretches you open, feel the way he buries into you. Your leaking arousal only proves to be of an advantage, letting him easily push into you without any trouble. Your fingers grip the bed sheets beneath you in an ironclad grip and you squeak when he’s finally buried hilt deep within you. You nearly gag around Jungkook again, who’s still panting and writhing above you, but the way Taehyung’s tongue marks patterns into your shoulder comforts you. You whine against Jungkook, pushing your hips back for more and the simplicity of your action has Taehyung’s breath hitching in his throat.
“So warm,” he grunts and then sighs against your back. “You always feel so amazing.”
He still hasn’t moved and you’re beginning to grow impatient, distraught over the feeling of him rock hard inside you but unmoving. You debate pulling apart from Jungkook to yell at Taehyung but you assume he can understand your haste judging by the way your body writhes beneath him, your fingers clench into fists. He pulls out in one languid movement, his breath stuttering, until only his tip is left before he pushes himself back in, equally as slow. He sets at a steady, easy pace that, at the very least, lets you grasp onto some sensible thoughts and pushes you to keep pleasing Jungkook. Jungkook can’t take it anymore; he starts rutting his hips up into your mouth with gritted teeth. It’s a hot, erotic mess of mingled moans and groans but you never want it to stop ━ in fact, you want more.
“You like that, baby?” Taehyung grunts.
You nod hurriedly, humming in response.
“Ah, fuck━” Taehyung groans. “Want it harder?”
You nod once more, this time eagerly. When Taehyung pulls back one more time, he slams himself back into you without any warning and you jerk forward, sinking down onto Jungkook. The younger boy moans, his head lolling back as his fingers twisting in your hair. You don’t expect Taehyung to do the same thing again, pull out slowly and then push himself back in with more force, but he does, and he repeats the action again and again until he abandons it for a whole new pace. Soon, he’s thrusting into you hard and fast but always making sure his hips reconnect with yours before pulling out so you can feel him practically in your throat.
“Like being fucked like this?” Taehyung asks. “You like being used like a little slut?”
His thrusts are relentless suddenly, jerking your body and back and forth until he’s fucking you in a way that has you sucking off Jungkook just right so that you hardly have to put in any effort. Although his hard thrusts feel amazing, each time you’re pushed forward, you sink further down onto Jungkook unwillingly and that, paired with the way Jungkook frantically fucks himself into your mouth, you nearly gag each time as he hits the back of your throat, drool pooling at your lips and dribbling down your chin. Tears prick at your eyes from the feeling and it’s too pleasing to quit, to pull away from Jungkook just yet. Jungkook’s staring down at you when he notices your scrunched up face. You’re surprised when his hand finds your cheek, his thumb brushing reassuringly into your cheekbone.
“You’re doing so━ ah, fuck━ so well, baby,” he rasps.
You can taste the saltiness of precum on the tip of your tongue and you wonder how close he is. You have no qualms in finishing him off then and there but soon the pleasure you’re receiving from Taehyung becomes too much. Soon, he’s hitting you at an angle that shakes something in you. You pull apart from Jungkook with a loud pop, saliva and cum coating his length and your lips, and a gasp wretches from your throat.
“Fuck!” You cry hoarsely. “Ah, T-Taehyung!”
You’re too weak to push yourself up and end up burying your head in Jungkook’s lower abdomen, feeling the heat consume you. You’re near numb, senseless, as you let Taehyung ravish your body, fuck you hard into the mattress and Jungkook. It’s a frantic build up, an intense wave of emotions that you seem to pass through, and you can hardly bring yourself to react. All you can hear is the sound of moaning and skin against skin and the heat seems to make its way up to your head, making you warm and fuzzy. Jungkook gently pulls at your face, lifting you up and bringing you to him so that he can smash his lips onto yours and all you can taste is bitter liquor, you, and him, but that doesn’t stop him from sucking on your lower lip even when you pull apart to moan and gasp.
“T-Tae,” You sob. “Fuck, Tae, I━I’m c━close━”
“Cum for me, baby girl,” he murmurs. “Let me hear you.”
You shake your head frantically at the sensitive sting between your legs still raw from your orgasm from Jungkook, shutting your eyes. Taehyung’s hands find their way onto your hips and he pulls you down his length until you’re balls deep and pauses. He lifts your hips and you can feel him twitch inside you that it even makes your own thighs tremble and shake. You’re sure you’ll collapse on him if he doesn’t hold onto you and he must realize this too because he grips your hips tight to continue thrusting into you. Soon you’re tumbling towards your high. Taehyung’s pumps are frantic, growing sloppy with each passing second, as he pushes you to yours and his high. The coil snaps in your stomach again and you’re in a moment of freefall where you’re stunned by the wave of pleasure. Then, Taehyung is bringing you back down to reality with his hard thrusts, the way he moans, and the lewd wet sounds of him pumping himself into you.
“Ah, T-Tae━” You whimper. “So good, fuck━”
His name falls from your lips in a repeated mantra. You crumble beneath him, collapsing entirely against Jungkook, who’s brushing your hair away from your face. You’re shaking with each touch, your walls pulsing around Taehyung and clenching hard. He moans and curses behind you and you know he must be close to his high because he, too, is fumbling for it. His thrusts are even more hasty and soon he’s reaching his climax. His moans increase in volume and his thrusts become sloppier until he finally pulls his cock from your walls and nearly collapses against your back.
With his hand clenched tightly around his shaft, he jerks himself off until he’s releasing onto your back in white hot spurts. He’s panting hard, sweat coating his forehead, but he takes the time to press chaste kisses along your back and shoulders as the two of you attempt to calm your shrill hearts. It’s silent in the room for a moment despite your panting breaths. Taehyung takes a moment to grab his discarded shirt and wipe at the mess he’s made before he collapses next to you at long last with a huff of air. You moan wearily, rolling off of Jungkook to lay on your back between the two.
“God, you’re amazing,” Taehyung sighs.
You giggle up at the boy and lean towards him to kiss. His fingers rake in your hair and a few silent seconds pass before you’re nearly back to an even breathing pace. That’s when you notice Jungkook, his hand gripped tightly around his still painfully hard dick.
“Jungkook,” You pur his name, catching his attention. “What are you doing?”
“What does it look like?” he quips.
“It’s your turn,” Taehyung points out. Jungkook glances at Taehyung and then down at you, quirking an eyebrow.
“W-Well, I just thought━” Jungkook stammers. “I just thought you’ve had enough. It’s okay, you don’t have to.”
“I call bullshit again,” You scoff.
“Baby girl,” Taehyung hums, “do you want Jungkookie to fuck you?”
You nod eagerly but Jungkook doesn’t seem too convinced, or maybe he’s hesitant. Taehyung’s eyeing him closely, curiously, before he gaps. He bursts out into a fit of chuckles, earning both yours and Jungkook’s attention.
“Shit, of course,” Taehyung grins. “He’s probably gonna let go the minute he’s in you. You’re close, hm?”
“Only because she’s already been down on me,” Jungkook grumbles.
“You know that’s not it,” Taehyung replies. “You’ve been wanting this forever.”
Jungkook’s eyes suddenly darken as he glares at the older boy. “Taehyung.”
“Wait, what?” You ask, turning to gawk at both.
“Jungkook has a little crush on you,” Taehyung smirks. “This is all he’s ever wanted. I bet he’ll bust a nut the second he fucks you and he’s embarrassed.”
You gasp as you turn to face Jungkook who looks entirely disgruntled but you’re more shocked about the fact that Jungkook likes you than anything else. Jungkook, notoriously arrogant fuckboy, who’s seemingly made it his mission to give you a headache every waking moment by trying to flirt with you. And maybe you’ve always sort of known it; maybe you’ve always sort of felt the same.
“That’s not true!” Jungkook protests. “I━I━ Well, Tae hardly finishes when he’s with another girl. He’s jacked off to the thought of you before, too━”
Taehyung starts. “Fuck off━”
You’re stuck between the bickering boys, staring up at both of them with a dumbfounded expression. Before either boy can strangle the other, you’re speaking up and interrupting them.
“I don’t mind,” You say. “I’m just… surprised.”
Both boys are silent now, aggravated probably, and you giggle. You reach up to rake your fingers in Taehyung’s hair and then look up at Jungkook, using your other hand to grab onto his chin once more and force him to face you.
“Come here, you idiot,” You drawl. “I want you to fuck me. Wanna feel your dick.”
Jungkook seems taken aback but then his eyes are sweeping down your body and he writhes in his seat. Before he can protest, you’re pulling him down onto you to kiss. It’s passionate and rough but hot altogether as your lips smack against one anothers. Jungkook’s desperate situation seems to hit him again, especially when you snake one of your hands down to his length and wrap your fingers around him to jerk him off. He pulls apart from you, gulping.
“Fuck, okay, okay,” he gasps. “I need to be in you right now, please.”
You and Taehyung smirk as Jungkook shifts around on the bed to kneel between your legs. He pauses, glancing up at you once more and noting the way you bite your lower lip seductively, before finally pushing himself in. He goes slow, but not as gradual as Taehyung. You can still feel him stretching you open and he groans. He seems to slide the rest of the way in with a lewd squelch sound because of just how wet you are and then he’s buried balls deep, fitting so snug within you.
“Holy shit,” he whines. “You weren’t kidding, Tae. She feels amazing.”
Taehyung hums in agreement. “What does she feel like? Let her know, Kookie.”
Jungkook squeezes his eyes shut momentarily to focus. “Wet,” he hisses through gritted teeth. “Warm, tight ━ fuck, so tight.”
He marvels at the feeling, wonders how you can still clench so tightly around him despite being stretched wide by Taehyung. He bows his head to rest in the crook of your neck and moans. His words are enough to spur on your own reaction and you whimper against him.
“Oh, fuck, Jungkook━”
The sensitivity you feel in your core met with his hard cock makes you cringe but simultaneously pleases you and you’re bucking your hips for more. He groans at the feeling, his hands flying down to grip your hips. He’s big, stretching you wide, but you feel anything but pain except for the sharp burning sensation as the intensity of your past orgasms start to hit you. He rolls his hips back and then thrusts into you so hard that you yelp and jerk back on the bed.
“Go easy on her, Jungkook,” Taehyung admonishes. “She’s not a doll.”
“I’m sorry,” Jungkook sighs, nipping at your throat. “You just feel so good, Y/N.”
“I’m okay,” You reassure. You feel his length twitch within you and your head lolls back. “Fuck, I feel more than okay.”
“Can we try something?” Taehyung asks.
He receives two weak nods in response. Jungkook pauses, shifts the two of you until he’s on his back and you’re straddling his hips, his dick never once slipping from your core. The older boy grabs onto you and yanks you onto his hips.
“What do you say we give Y/N the pleasure she deserves?” he asks. He pushes his length past your folds and is rewarded by the sound of your moans as your jaw unhinges. “Think you can handle both of us, baby?”
“Fuck, yes,” You gasp.
Jungkook seems just as enticed by this. He’s careful as he pushes his cock into you and your reaction is explosive. With Taehyung already stretching you wide, you wonder how Jungkook will fit but it’s snug and perfect. You can feel him stretching you further, inch by glorious inch, and he hasn’t even begun moving when your walls clench around the two of them. Taehyung hisses in your ear and Jungkook pauses at once, sputtering for air, giving you time to adjust. When Jungkook pushes himself further into your cunt, rubbing against Taehyung’s cock and your own walls, you can’t help the delicious moan that falls from your lips.
“Oh my god,” You whimper. “Fuck, fuck, that feels so fucking good━”
It’s such a sticky, hot mess, and all you can hear is the sound of guttural moans and grunts. You jut your hips forward, a silent plea for something more. Jungkook’s hand grasps at your ass and then he’s pulling out. He growls suddenly, thrusting his hips forward and the sensation suddenly overwhelms you. As he picks up a pace that leaves you breathless, Taehyung slowly thrusts into you and the pleasure becomes too much. Your hands reach out to grab at anything, fingers digging eagerly into Jungkook’s chest, Taehyung’s sides.
“Oh, fuck,” Jungkook grunts. His face is scrunched in pleasure and concentration, his mouth hanging open.
“You’re doing so well, baby,” Taehyung growls. “You like being stretched wide like this, huh? Such a good girl too. Fuck━”
He’s sweating, but so are you, and all you can hear is the sound of yours and the boys’ moans, the vulgar wet slap with each thrust Jungkook makes. It’s only amplified with each small leisurely thrust Taehyung makes into your throbbing pussy, his dick rubbing against Jungkook’s with each thrust. Your walls tighten around Jungkook and Taehyung as the seconds pass and you know you’re already close to your third orgasm of the night but you try to hold off despite the room spinning. All you can do is lay there for Jungkook to ravish and control, for Taehyung to enjoy, too caught up in the moment. Your breasts bounce wildly with each thrust Jungkook makes and his gaze seems fixated on your chest before flickering down to watch himself disappear inside you each time. Taehyung is raking his fingers through your hair, soothing you through your next climax and it’s close.
“Fuck,” Jungkook hisses, panting hard. “I’m not gonna last.”
You push your hips forward as if to probe him on and he growls.
“No, shit, let me enjoy this, baby,” he whines. “Ah, so tight━”
He’s grumbling to himself, cursing under his breath and you smirk tiredly. Jungkook leans his head down to kiss at your chest, catching one of your nipples in his warm mouth. His tongue swishes back and forth over the perked bud and your chest arches into his face. Your fingers are clutching tight at his hair even as he obeys and adds more force with each thrust, slowly picking up his pace. His mouth widens and he sinks lower on your breast, humming against you in pleasure. Taehyung’s own pace quickens. It’s not as relentless as Jungkook’s but he makes sure to help aid you to your high, ramming his hips into yours until both their cocks slip into a seamless pattern. All you can focus on is the crude wetness, the way their dicks threaten to slip from your hold at how sloppy and wrecked your cunt becomes.
“Ah, yes,” You hiss. “Fuck, yes, yes━ So good, oh my god━ Right there━”
Your voice is cut off by a loud moan. You feel the familiar wave hit you once more and this time you hardly have any strength to fight it off or welcome it.
“I can’t━” You wail suddenly. “Fuck, I can’t━ I’m gonna cum━”
You’re fumbling for words to warn him that you’re close before you’re cuming around them. Their names wrench from your throat in no discernible pattern, accompanied by vulgar curses. Your body writhes between the two boys, your chest arching into his mouth, your legs tightening around Jungkook’s waist.
“You’re doing so well, baby,” Jungkook coos. “Come on, wanna feel you cream all over us━”
Stars form behind your eyelids and explode into galaxies as they swirl down your spine and to the tip of your toes, making them and your fingers curl in delight. Your vision grows blurry and tears stream down your face at the build up of pressure finally being released for the third time and you can’t help it when your mantra turns into delighted sobs and whimpers. You’re clenched so tight that Jungkook feels as if he hardly has any space to move and the confinement of his length has him gasping. He pulls apart from your breast to watch your scrunched up face with hooded eyes. He moans again, and desperately leans down to suck at your jawline.
You’re too spent to keep up with him or Taehyung as he helps you further to your high but you know Jungkook is close when his thrusts become messy, quick spurts. You gasp each time he thrusts up into you until he’s finally cuming.
“Shit,” he hisses. “Gonna cum━ Gonna let us fill you up, baby?”
“Please, please, wanna feel it,” You mewl.
He slams his hips into yours and stills for a moment as he releases into you in one hot wave and emits a beautiful moan of your name. You’re panting hard even as he rides out both your highs with a few more incredibly sloppy pumps before he finally collapses against your chest. The two of you are struggling to catch your breaths, your heart beating in your ears.
The room is silent, blissful, and it takes you a few moments of basking in it before you’ve regained your breath. Your fingers rake in Jungkook’s soft and sweaty hair and you hum in content. His mouth presses a few open mouthed and hot kisses along your neck and jawline before connecting with your own mouth. This time, the kiss is chaste and you smile against his lips before he’s pulling out of you. You moan at the missing feeling of his warmth and the way his own cum leaks from your core, down Taehyung’s cock, and your own thighs.
But Taehyung isn’t done. He thrusts up into you to ride out his own high, pushing Jungkook’s release back into you. His pace is steady, deep, and all you can both do is moan and gasp for air.
“Fuck, Tae,” You rasp tiredly. “Cum for me, baby.”
The boy gasps for air, nearly fumbling behind you to reach his high. “Gonna make this pussy mine. Fuuck━”
When Taehyung finally reaches his own high, it’s in another sticky stream of hot cum, each fluid mingling with the other in a pitiful mess. He pulls his slackened length from you and you whimper at sudden the loss, core and legs aching. As you slide onto the bed between the two tired and breathless boys, Jungkook wipes at your glistening core with a shirt and you sigh in content.
“Why haven’t we done that before?” You gasp, earning a chuckle from both. Jungkook lets out a boisterous laugh and you flick his arm. “If you say anything dumb, we’re never having a round two.”
“Round two?” he asks, wriggling his brows. “You want this to happen again?”
You nod, though you can already start to feel yourself succumb to sleep as it creeps upon you. “What do you think, Tae?”
“I think,” The older boy hums, “that’s your best idea yet.”
Jungkook seems surprised, excited even, and you smile sleepily. Taehyung throws his arm over your waist and pulls your back to his chest, wrapping you in his arms as he slips off to sleep. 
Before you fall asleep that night, you snake your arm up Jungkook’s chest and let your hand rest against his beating heart which you can still feel beating shrilly even long after your messy night together.
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You awake to the familiar sound of your alarm.
It’s loud, annoying, and jolts you awake only to toss you into a haze of muddled confusion and an incredibly terrible hangover. Your head throbs and your body aches. Sunlight splashes in from the closed blinds and illuminates your face, making you squint.
“Turn that off, Jesus Christ, Y/N,” Taehyung snaps, his voice muffled and aggravated.
Your mind is too groggy to realize he’s sleeping next to you, too groggy to suddenly remember what happened the night before. Until, of course, you feel your limbs tangled with not only Taehyung’s but another’s. When you crane your neck to look, you see Jeon Jungkook splayed out beside you sleeping peacefully and you gasp.
The events of the night before suddenly flood your mind and everything is hazy up until your wild time with the two boys. Your muddled sober mind alerts your heart and suddenly it’s beating hard and fast in your chest as you register the situation. You’re used to waking up with a naked Taehyung by your side but never were you used to waking up next to a naked Taehyung and Jungkook.
Jungkook stirs in his sleep then and you curse silently, diving for your phone on the floor before realizing your drastic mistake. Your core is still tender and your legs feel so delicate, nearly caving in beneath you as you wobble precariously. Somehow, you manage to grab your phone and tap the snooze button hastily. Taehyung’s still half asleep on his side but Jungkook lays on his back and you’re surprised to see him looking up at you with a quirked eyebrow and a tiny smirk.
“Don’t you dare say anything,” You hiss. “Holy shit, that wasn’t a dream?”
You gnaw on your lower lip and reach down blindly to grab the nearest article of clothing on the floor (one of Taehyung’s shirts) to toss over your bare body. To soothe your aching muscles, you resort to kneeling on the edge of the bed.
“It wasn’t,” Taehyung murmurs.
“Nice to know you think our dicks are dream worthy though,” Jungkook snorts. “So when’s our round two?”
Your promise from the night before dawns on you all too suddenly and, though you feign your usual annoyance for both boys, the potential prospect of another night with the two of them thrills you to no end.  
“I━ I━” You stammer.
“Come back here, baby,” Taehyung muses. “It’s too early to be up right now. You can sleep a bit longer before you pretend you hate the both of us.”
Your eyes flicker down to your phone to check the time: 6 a.m. You can barely walk, let alone function this early in the morning, even without the added stress of your hangover, and sleep seems far too appealing to ignore. Maybe you can stay for a few more hours…
“Fine,” You grumble. You crawl back between them and wiggle around until you’re laying back on the bed. “But you’re making me that cup of coffee when I wake up, Taehyung.”
“Anything else, princess?” Taehyung grins.
“Maybe run me a bath too,” You wince as you settle back against the bed. “Everything hurts.”
“Will do,” Jungkook says. “Gotta do the most to make sure we get that second round. Now, come here━”
The boys snicker and, soon, the three of you have slipped back into a peaceful slumber.
You know that when you wake you’ll profusely deny that the night before and the morning after had ever happened; that you’ll never again find yourself in either Jungkook’s or Taehyung’s bed, much less with the both of them at the same time ━ but you find that you never really listen much to rules anyway.
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kpopfanfictrash · 9 months ago
A Holly, Jolly Crisis (M)
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Author: @kpopfanfictrash as part of the Once Upon a Holiday... collaboration with @underthejoon , @fantasybangtan​ , @lamourche​ , @hobidreams​ , @suga-kookiemonster​ , @junghelioseok​  
Creative Contributor: @baebae-goodnight made this ridiculously gorgeous moodboard TT
Pairing: Hoseok / Reader (female)
Genre: Ex-Best Friends to Lovers / Rom-Com / Angst (?) / Holiday
Word Count: 36,243
Rating/Warnings: 18+ for sexual content. Fingering, Hoseok has a dirty mouth, Y/N semi-jokingly offers to slap him & he’s into it, condom-less sex, squirting, multiple orgasms, rough sex. Multiple friends/family members mention the reader has lost weight, but the reader’s exact weight isn’t specified. Seokjin uses a spatula as a microphone.
Summary:   At this time last year, you thought you had it all. A kick-ass screenwriting job for the hottest TV show in LA, an actor boyfriend whose career was taking off and an affordable apartment with not one, but two bathrooms. Fast-forward to now and you’re single, soon-to-be jobless and searching for a way to scrape together January rent. Everything seems to be falling apart, which was why you told your family you weren’t coming home for the holidays. Enter your little sister, Sara, who recently became engaged to her boyfriend, Yoongi and needs you home to celebrate. The biggest problem? Returning home means you’ll be forced to face everything and everyone you left behind, including Yoongi’s best man – and your ex-best friend, Hoseok.
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Dear Y/N Y/L/N,
Thank you for taking the time to send our team your screenplay for One for the Money. It was a pleasure learning about your characters and ideas.
Unfortunately, we did not select your spec script at this time for further consideration.
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Not wanting to read the rest of the rejection email, you returned to your inbox and moved the message to trash. Releasing a sigh, you slumped in the hard, plastic airport chair underneath you. This had to be your fifteenth rejection email this month, which didn’t bode well for your screenplay’s future.
The screenplay in question was your self-written TV series – One for the Money. You’d been working on it for years and had just begun sending it out to studios. When a screenplay was written outside a studio and shopped around after, it was often called a spec script. This stood for speculative screenplay and you supposed that right now, this was the best descriptor.
A screenplay without a studio was practically nothing. Speculative, indeed.
Glancing up from your phone, you saw the flight’s status on the board had moved from green to red – delayed. Stifling another sigh, you switched apps on the screen and checked the weather. Winter storms were sweeping through the Midwest, resulting in a delay of holiday travel. This was precisely the reason you hadn’t wanted to go home this year.
Well, it wasn’t the only reason you dreaded your return to Josen Falls. You hadn’t seen your family in over a year but had still planned to stay in LA over Christmas. A wrench had been thrown in these plans when your sister, Sara, became engaged to her boyfriend, Yoongi.
Yoongi had only had one request when it came to wedding planning – for them to be married in the same church his parents had been, a beautiful venue north of the city. Of course, the only available date within a three-year time frame was June 30th. Seven months was practically nothing to plan a wedding, but Sara was determined to make it happen; hence the need to have you at home.
Don’t get you wrong – of course, you were excited about Sara and Yoongi. You’d been the one who introduced them, after all, through your former best friend. They were perfect together and you were nothing but ecstatic to see your little sister so happy. The only unfortunate part about her life coming together was it happened to come at the same time as yours falling apart.
A year ago, you would’ve said you were on the right path. Things had been going well in nearly every part of your life. Your TV show was on its second season, you’d been dating Darren for nine months and had found a reasonably priced one-bedroom apartment in a coveted neighborhood. Everything had been looking up, considering your previous year in LA, where paychecks had been scarce, and you’d been dangerously close to asking your parents for money.
Now, you found yourself in the same situation. Uncertain where your next paycheck was coming from, recently single and unsure how you were going to make rent next month.
Your coveted Hollywood job had been as a screenwriter for The Drop, a critically acclaimed show which ended abruptly this year after a dispute with the main actor. The third – and final – season was set to air in the new year on Netflix, but after that you’d be out of a job.
Hence the desperate pitch of your spec script to every mainstream television producer with an open inbox. Suffice to say, things were not going well.
This was evidenced by the uncomfortable chair you’d squeezed yourself into, having been forced to give up your pass to Admirals Club. The cost couldn’t be justified right now. Forlornly, you stared at the ticket sticking out of your purse.
It had been nearly a year since you’d last visited home. At first, this hadn’t been a purposeful decision. You’d been swamped with work, preparing for the Golden Globes and seasons one and two of The Drop. Your ex-boyfriend, Darren, had been nominated for an Oscar last year, resulting in a lot of holiday parties to attend.
Last year, you’d been too busy to come, but all that had changed in a matter of months. It began back in March, when contract negotiations stalled with your leading actor, Tory River. Tory fancied himself a method actor, so when you refused to pay him the GDP of a small country, he decided to walk. Without him, the studio had to scrap the show. Better to leave things at three solid seasons than add a lukewarm fourth without the main star.
You were told in May the third season would be its last and were highly encouraged to seek out other shows. Nothing had panned out since and then, at the end of the summer, you were dealt another blow.
You should’ve known things were bad when Darren, your ex-boyfriend, called you himself instead of Molly, his assistant.
When you first met Darren Carmichael in LA, he was a struggling actor from Des Moines, Iowa. The Darren of September 2020 was no longer the Darren of early 2019, though – he’d long ditched the Midwest accent in favor of designer shades and loafers. High off his Oscar nomination and with job offers to spare, you should’ve suspected something was wrong from his genuine contriteness of tone.
The first thing he said to you was, “Did you pass a newsstand today?”
At first, you’d been baffled because no one walked past newsstands anymore. Logging into Twitter, you immediately saw why your boyfriend had been worried.
Frozen, you’d barely listened while he pleaded his case. Instead, you scanned the article and felt your insides tighten with each word. Darren and Jessica had been caught making out when no cameras were rolling. You were only mentioned as a footnote, and not even by name.
Darren was previously dating a screenwriter in LA, although this seems to have ended several weeks prior.
You had wanted to scream, wanted to call up the author and berate them for proper sources, but you didn’t do any of that. Instead, you sat dejectedly while Darren yammered on and on about why he’d done what he’d done.
That had been the worst part. He hadn’t apologized to you – not really. Instead, he’d gone on about how hard it had been for him to be away, surrounded and worshiped by more available people. You had your career, he’d argued. You had other things, you didn’t need him and what he felt for Jessica seemed like the real thing.
Darren thought you should break up so he could begin dating her.
Numbly, you’d hung up the phone and immediately blocked his number. That had been nearly three months ago, but the sting of the breakup remained.
It wasn’t as though Darren had changed overnight. When you first met, he’d been the super-cute barista at your favorite coffee shop. You two bonded over being unable to find appropriately caffeinated beverages in LA and the rest, as they say, was history.
Then Darren landed a role as a recurring character on a popular Netflix show. What seemed like overnight, he became America’s heartthrob. Still, Darren didn’t change right away. He went to work every morning, came home in the evenings and continued to attend the same parties, run in the same circles.
Soon though, Darren was invited to more exclusive gatherings and slowly, his invitations transitioned from “Darren plus date” to “just Darren.” You hadn’t protested at the time, not overly interested in canapés and pretentious conversation. The time you did spend together dwindled, going from Facetiming each night on his movie set to a harried phone call every other day.
Maybe you should’ve been more suspicious. In hindsight, all the warning signs had been there, but you’d been too busy and worried about The Drop’s future to do anything about it. Darren had become distant and withdrawn, but you’d been okay because you’d become distant, too.
After you blocked his number, you kicked him out of your apartment. Packing everything he owned in boxes, you set these on the lawn and shut the door. It was unfortunate it rained before he could pick them up, but that couldn’t be helped. You refused to see him again – you even went so far as to have your assistant, Jimin, pick up Darren’s keys.
Jimin had done so gleefully, perhaps too gleefully, but you didn’t care. Darren had tried to contact you a few more times, but eventually he got the hint and the last time you’d checked, he seemed blissfully happy with his vapid co-star.
Gritting your teeth, you exhaled. That wasn’t fair – you had no idea what Darren had told Jessica about you. For all you knew, she could’ve thought you two had been broken up.
Regardless, things had gone steadily downhill for you over the past year. Single, nearly unemployed and running low on your savings, you could easily call this a low point in your life. Worst of all – your family didn’t know the full extent of things.
They knew you’d broken up with Darren, of course – that had been front page news. They also knew your TV series was ending but had no idea you struggled as much as you were. Each time they called, you meant to tell them, but something managed to choke you every time.
Maybe it was how excited your mom was about the upcoming nuptials. Or maybe it was how diligently your dad watched The Drop. Admitting you didn’t have next steps felt like defeat, so you’d purposefully kept things brief until you had something to tell.
The problem was none of your next steps seemed to be panning out. Again, your mind wandered to the rejection email in your trash.
“Excuse me? Are you Y/N Y/L/N?”
Blinking, you looked up and felt your heart sink.
The guy standing before you looked around college-age, dressed in a MORDOR FUN RUN t-shirt and wire-rimmed glasses. Clutching his laptop to his chest, he looked at you hopefully and you felt your heart sink even further. He had to be a film nerd.
“Um, yeah,” you said, trying to smile. “That’s me.”
This had happened to you several times before. Even if you weren’t an actress, your name appeared at the end of every episode of The Drop. It hadn’t taken long for starry-eyed screenwriting ingénues to find you on Instagram.
Usually, you were patient in your responses, giving them as much advice as you could without being discouraging, but Lord of the Rings here had caught you on a bad night.
“No way!” he gushed. “I’m such a big fan of your writing. I swear, I’ve memorized the entire first season of The Drop.”
“Not the second, though?”
His face fell. “No, well – I, it’s a long series and…”
“I’m kidding,” you said with a smile. “That’s really nice.”
“I want to be a screenwriter myself, someday,” he said, shoving his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “I’m in a program at UCLA and am searching for a summer internship. Any advice for someone who’s just starting out?”
Hesitant, you looked him up and down and wondered how honest to be. He seemed nice, looked hopeful and you were one hundred percent sure the industry would crush him.
“You want some advice?” you said as you stood from your seat. The light on the departures board had changed from red to green.
Eagerly, the guy nodded.
“Alright, here it is.” Slinging your bag over your chest, you said, “Don’t be a writer.”
The guy’s expression faltered. “What?”
“Don’t be a writer,” you said. “Screenwriting is one of the most fickle, unforgiving jobs in existence. Job security? None. Creativity? Only as much as shareholders allow. The industry will eat you up, spit you out and no one will give a damn. The glamorous profession you’ve dreamt of doesn’t exist. The best advice I can give is run the other way.”
The guy stared at you, wide-eyed and for a moment, you felt a modicum of pity. Brushing this aside, you steeled your spine – better for him to find out now, while he could still change his major to something stable, like accounting.
“I, uh…” He paused, and then swallowed. “Thanks, I guess?”
“No problem,” you said, brushing past him as group numbers began to be called. At the last second, you hesitated and turned around. “Best of luck in whatever you decide, though. Happy holidays, and all that.”
“Happy holidays,” he mumbled, in a daze.
As you entered the line, you bit down on your lip and began to regret your outburst. Some of your bitterness was based on your own experience; maybe his would be different. The guy had seemed excited and you’d just crushed his dreams.
Narrowing your gaze, you forced yourself to straighten. It would’ve happened to him sooner or later – of that you were certain. Better to warn him now than for him to learn it the hard way. You only wished someone had been kind enough to tell you this years ago.
Actually – a sliver of discomfort entered your thoughts since someone had told you this last year. Someone had warned you about Darren, about your job and LA, but you’d chosen not to listen. Instead, you’d let your friendship crumble and hadn’t spoken to them since.
Just another reason going home for the holidays was going to suck. Going home meant you’d be forced to see Yoongi’s friends, which meant you’d be forced to see Hoseok. Yoongi and Hoseok were close, after all – they’d become friends in college, which was when Yoongi had been introduced to Sara.
It had been nearly a year since you and Hoseok last spoke, despite having once considered him to be your best friend.
So, there it was. Reason six hundred and sixty-six why the holidays would suck. You were single, jobless and facing the imminent prospect of two weeks with people who either had their shit together or were a constant reminder of why you did not.
As you boarded the plane and settled into your seat, you pulled out your headphones and cranked up the volume. If you weren’t feeling particularly Christmas-y, you could at least try to numb the pain with alcohol and music.
Starting now, you decided, as you closed your eyes. Happy holidays, indeed.
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Exiting the Terminal at LaGuardia airport, you found yourself shivering in the sudden cold. Despite having worn the warmest jacket you could find, nothing prepared you for the frigid blast of air on your face. Heat lamps were scattered beside the taxi stand, but this seemed to do nothing but attract hopeful crowds of tourists.
Bypassing them all, you dragged your suitcase to the end of Terminal B. This was the agreed-upon meeting place for all family members. Your sister, Sara, was on pick-up duty tonight. She lived and worked in New York City, so the airport had been an easy stop on her way to Josen Falls. Your hometown was only an hour outside the city, but it might as well have been Mars for how much cab drivers charged to get there.
Lugging your bag to the end of the row, you saw Sara’s black Subaru parked at the front. As soon as you were within view, the driver’s side door flung open.
“Y/N!” she yelled, exiting the car. “Y/N!”
You couldn’t help but laugh, half-running the last several paces to crush her in a hug. Your sister squeezed you back, trying – and failing – to lift you from the ground. Once finished, she took a step back and adjusted her glasses.
“You look skinnier,” she said with a frown.
Re-grabbing your bag, you rolled your eyes. “I’m not skinnier.”
“Have you lost weight?”
“I mean, some but –”
“Nope,” said Sara, lifting the trunk of her car. “I’ll call mom on the way home. She can heat up mac and cheese, or something.”
Shoving the handle on your suitcase down, you heaved this from the ground to place in the trunk. As annoying as Sara’s criticism was, you couldn’t help but salivate at the thought of your mom’s mac and cheese.
“Ugh,” you said as you entered the car. Plopping in the passenger seat, you buckled your seatbelt. “Honestly, that sounds amazing. Even the mac and cheese on the west coast is low-carb and no butter.”
Sara looked at you in horror. “Why would anyone do that?”
“Beats me. Masochism?”
“Must be,” she said, shaking her head and putting the car in drive.
Pulling from the curb, Sara eased seamlessly into traffic. She waited until you’d reached the highway to turn on the music, just like dad did.
“Anyways,” she said, drumming her hands on the steering wheel. “Everyone’s super excited to have you home. It’s been what – over a year since last time?”
“Around that, yeah,” you said, shifting uncomfortably.
Slouching lower in your seat, you turned to look out the window. It wasn’t snowing, but it had clearly snowed within the past couple of days. A greyish-blue sludge remained on the highway.
Sara glanced sideways.  “Don’t slouch,” she said. “You’ll wrinkle those really cute pants – which, by the way, can I wear tomorrow night?” Beatific, she smiled. “Mom and dad are throwing me a tiny engagement party. Obviously, you’re invited.”
“Oh. Did you say tomorrow, because –”
“Nope!” Sara cut you off. “No excuses, big sis. You’re my maid of honor, so you have to be there. No ifs, ands or buts.”
Sighing loudly, you slumped in your seat. “Has anyone told you how annoyingly single-minded you are?”
“Often. I tell them I get it from my older sister.”
You snorted, but you knew she was right. You were equally stubborn – it was what had led to your current situation. Your family only knew the barest details about your life. If they knew the full extent of your failures, they’d instantly offer to help you out.
For you though, this would be considered the ultimate blow. When you moved to LA, they’d been hesitant about your career as a screenwriter. It had taken everything in you to prove you could do this. If you began to fail now, it would only prove them right.
You’d planned on telling them about Darren last month, but then Sara got engaged and everything was put on hold. Suddenly, your mom was consumed by the wedding; she barely had time for anything else. Everything was lace veils that, and yours forever that. It was hard being reminded of your singlehood in your own apartment, let alone each time you called your family.
As Sara continued to drive, her diamond engagement ring glittered in the lights of the highway.
“It’s even bigger in person,” you said, nodding across the console.
“That’s what she said.”
“Sorry!” She cracked up. “You just look so tense. But yeah, I love the ring. Yoongi picked it out himself. Well, that’s not entirely true. He had some help from – uh, from no one,” she said, abruptly changing her tone.
“Oh, really?” you said, amused. “He had help from no one?”
“Yep.” Sara nodded.
You sensed bullshit on this but let it slide, reaching out to turn up the heat. If Sara didn’t want to say who, there was probably a reason. The reason you suspected made your heart twinge, but you didn’t want to think about him right now.
It wasn’t long before Sara pulled from the highway, street signs and buildings becoming familiar. You hadn’t flown much before college, so the trip from the airport to Josen Falls was still new. Just another way your life had changed since high school.
“So, where’s this engagement party happening?” you asked, glancing sideways.
“Where else?”
“Raffi’s,” you both said at the same time.
Sara grinned and nodded. “Where else? It’s our celebration restaurant. Mom and dad had to uphold tradition.”
“Obviously. Who all’s invited?”
Barely noticeable, her hands tensed on the wheel. “Oh, the usual. Mom and dad, a bunch of the neighborhood. Mr. and Mrs. Min, of course,” she said, naming Yoongi’s parents. “Some friends from high school. My bridesmaids. And uh, Yoongi’s groomsmen.”
“Oh.” You paused. “So, is –”
“Hoseok coming? Yeah.”
“Right,” you said, turning to look out the window.
Sara sighed softly. “That’s not going to be weird, is it?”
“Weird? Of course, not. Why would it be weird?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because of the whole ‘Hoseok thing?’” She made air quotes around the last two words.
“You mean how we once were best friends and now, I don’t even know what color his hair is?”
“That’s the one!”
“Hey, listen.” Reaching out, you touched her arm. “I promise things will be okay. Hoseok and I are adults – just because we’re not friends anymore doesn’t mean we can’t be in the same room together.”
“Promise?” she said, giving you a glance.
“Promise. It’s my baby sister’s wedding, after all. I have a contractual obligation to ensure nothing goes wrong.”
“We-ll,” said Sara. “You can’t be held responsible for everything that goes wrong. Like, what if cousin Sybil decides to wear white to the wedding? That wouldn’t be your fault.”
“It would be if I didn’t bring a spare dress for her to change into.”
Sara cracked a smile. “Okay, but what if the florist mixes my bouquet up with a prom one? That wouldn’t be your problem to solve.”
“That’s what cars are for! I’d drive to the florist and make them switch it back.”
“Well, what if Yoongi suddenly gets cold feet and decides I’m not the woman he wants to marry? That definitely wouldn’t be your fault.”
“You’re right,” you said, examining your hand. “It’d be his fault, and then it’d be his problem because I’d murder him. Cold blooded. He can run, but I’d hunt him down, tear off his testicles and make you a potpourri bag.”
“Oh my god.” Sara cackled. “That’s so violent. You’re the best.”
“And as the best maid of honor!” you declared. “I promise your engagement party will go off without a hitch. Hoseok, or no Hoseok.”
“Alright, alright.” She grinned. “Thanks, sis.”
As you passed through the downtown of Josen Falls, familiar butterflies began to fill your stomach. Not ones of excitement though, but ones of dread.
Sinking lower, you hoped none of your neighbors were feeling particularly nosy. So little happened in Josen Falls, you were certain your breakup with Darren was still front-page gossip. You could already hear the neighborhood busybodies.
What a shame they cancelled that show of yours, dear. What’s the next project? Nothing? Well, what about that actor you were dating? What’s his name – Darren! He was wonderful in that one movie. He seems like such a nice boy. Oh, you’re no longer together? Well, are you dating anyone new? No? Well…
Closing your eyes, you leaned your head to the seat. Everything would be okay. All you needed to do was get through two weeks and you’d be back in LA. Your façade could last that long. Who knew – maybe if it held, you could apply to a few acting jobs when you returned.
Opening your eyes, you saw Sara drive past Whalen Court. Your home was two streets over, but Whalen Court was where the Jungs lived. Craning your neck, you watched their street disappear in the rearview mirror. You thought you saw lights were at his home but couldn’t be sure.
Before you knew it, you were entering your garage and Sara had placed the car in park.
“Home, sweet, home,” she sang, opening the door.
It took you a moment to convince your legs to work. Home, sweet, home was one way to put it.
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The moment you stepped across the threshold you knew this had been a mistake.
“We’re home!” Sara yelled, shutting the door.
It wasn’t long before your mom rushed around the corner, beaming when she saw who had arrived.
“There she is!” she cried, crushing you in a hug. “Our star daughter, come home to visit us mere mortals for the holidays!”
Instantly, your heart sank. You should’ve known the first words out of your mom’s mouth would be a reference to your supposedly successful career.
“Hey!” Sara cried, dropping your bag. “What am I, chopped liver?”
“No,” said your mom, squeezing you tightly. “But we just saw you last week, dear. You and Yoongi came over for dinner.”
“Well… fine, that’s true.”
Your mom laughed, pulling back to hold you at arm’s length. Giving you a critical sweep head to foot, she frowned.
“Sara was right. You’re too skinny.”
Jaw dropping, you turned. “When did you have time to text mom?”
“At the stoplight,” Sara said, breezing past.
Your mom stared in alarm. “Well, I certainly didn’t know that. Sara, that was very dangerous. You shouldn’t be texting while driving.”
“There she is!” sang your dad, entering the front hall. “The prodigal daughter returned!”
“Dad,” you groaned, but laughed when he hugged you.
Pulling back, your dad wiped his forehead and realized he still held the spatula. “Right, dinner,” he said, turning around. “Got to stir the sauce every minute or it congeals! Put your bag by the stairs, Lucy and I’ll bring it up later!”
Lucy was your dad’s nickname for you, even though your name wasn’t remotely close to the moniker. When you’d been a child, you’d been an absolute terror, so Lucy was short for Lucifer. Your Grandma Jan nearly had a heart attack when she learned of the name’s origin.
As your dad disappeared into the kitchen, you returned to your mom. “You know I’m going to bring my suitcase up myself, right?”
“Oh, sure.” She nodded. “Leave something for him to carry, though. You know your father likes to feel needed. Like he’s the man of the house, or something.”
Despite yourself, you grinned. Your dad was as far from toxic masculinity as a person could be. He sang only falsetto harmony to songs in the car, did all the cooking, and had a self-proclaimed ‘weakness for soft blankets.’
Your mom gave a shrug. “Sometimes,” she added.
Laughing, you grabbed the handle of your suitcase and pushed it down. Lifting this up, you left your laptop bag in the hall for your dad to carry. You wouldn’t need it for work, anyways.
With this somewhat depressing thought, you began to lug your things up the stairs. Halfway to the second floor, your mom poked her head over the banister.
“Y/N?” she called.
“Yeah?” you said, struggling to balance your things as you turned.
“There’s toothpaste and shampoo in your bathroom, but you’re sharing a hair dryer with Sara. I put it in her bathroom! Just make sure you knock because, you know…” Your mom lowered her voice. “Yoongi may stay over some nights.”
“Mom,” you said, hiding your smile. “I think I’ll manage.”
“Alright!” She disappeared from view. “So happy you’re home!”
You heard her laugh when she entered the kitchen and for a moment, you stood there and exhaled. Darren had never come home with you for the holidays, so you couldn’t be sure how your parents would have reacted, but you doubted he would’ve gotten the same treatment as Yoongi.
Your parents had always liked Darren, but he’d been considered an outsider. Darren had grown up in the Midwest, while Yoongi hailed from the same town. Yoongi was also more down to earth than Darren ever had been. You couldn’t imagine Darren waking up early to help your dad cook pancakes, but Yoongi did that each time he slept over.
Shaking your head, you continued up the stairs. It didn’t really matter how Darren was different from Yoongi, since Darren wasn’t here, and he wasn’t your boyfriend.
As you continued to climb, the sounds of the first floor began to fade. Pictures were hung carefully on the wall, proof of your past your dad refused to take down. Photos of you with little league trophies, Sara in her cheerleading uniform and a terrible grouping of photos from middle school.
Passing the ones on the landing, you paused to trace over familiar faces. These photos were all from your Senior prom. Only one was the obligatory shot with your date, looking prim, proper and perfectly coiffed. The rest were of you and your friends – mainly, you and Hoseok.
Placing your suitcase on the ground, you stepped closer. Hoseok had the same mop of floppy, brown hair he had throughout most of your childhood. Grin wide, his right arm was slung over your shoulder. In one photo, you two were posed back-to-back, Men in Black style. In another, you did the classic 80’s roommates sitcom pose. The final shot had you dragging your smiles wide, eyes crossed and tongues stuck out at the camera.
When you were in elementary school, Johnny Ludowski had said if someone pushed you from behind with your eyes crossed, they would get stuck that way. Hoseok had been terrified of the idea ever since, but you’d managed to convince him to do it on prom night – only for Seokjin to sneak up and push him from behind.
Screaming bloody murder, Hoseok had then proceeded to chase Seokjin around the yard, brandishing his boutonniere pin as a weapon. You couldn’t help but smile at the memory, although this quickly faded. It had been a long time since you and Hoseok were that close.
Despite attending separate colleges, you and Hoseok had remained best friends throughout. You’d seen him each holiday, summer and even during long weekends at home. Except for the drought sophomore year when you began dating Ren What’s-His-Face, of course. Ren hadn’t liked your friendship with Hoseok, which ended up being one of the reasons you eventually broke up.
It was after college when things began to fall apart.
You’d lived on the east coast for a year and a half, staying in New York as a copy assistant for the New York Times. This job left you feeling thoroughly disillusioned by anything to do with the media. Craving creativity and distraction, you began applying for screenwriting jobs on the west coast.
Hoseok had been in grad school at the time, working two jobs and nearly as busy as you were. The little free time you had was spent together; that summer in the city was one of the best of your life, aside from the whole hating-your-job thing.
When you landed a screenwriting job at the start of the next year, the offer took Hoseok fully by surprise. He was on the cusp of graduating to start his PhD for behavioral psychology. You’d thought the timing was perfect – Hoseok would be so busy with school and research, he’d barely have time for you in New York.
Hoseok saw things differently. That was your first big fight – admittedly, you may have waited too long to tell him about the move. It had just been so difficult to figure out timing. You kept putting things off until finally, it was a week before Christmas, and you needed to move in two weeks.
You bit the bullet right before you went home, curled up on your sofa while you watched a movie. During a commercial break, you told him and Hoseok went still, though you saw him trying to hold it together. This was your dream job, and he’d wanted to be supportive.
Well – dream job was a loose term. It had been a crappily paying job writing for a kids television show, but you’d hoped it would lead to bigger things down the road. Hoseok had been remarkably calm until you said when you were leaving. Then he froze, staring at you in shock as you repeated the date.
Even that though wasn’t enough to end your friendship.
You patched up that fight quickly, unable to stay mad at each other for long. Hoseok had even helped you to move, packing up your New York apartment and flying with you across the country. He was the first guest you hosted in your new apartment, although apartment was a loose term for the hovel you lived in.
A four-bedroom apartment with only one bathroom and three other roommates. Hoseok had taken exactly one step inside before he turned around and said, “Absolutely not.”
Grabbing you by the wrist, he’d semi-jokingly tried to drag you to the curb. You’d laughed, managing to convince him that yes, this was your place and no, it wasn’t dirty and yes, you’d look for a new apartment as soon as you could afford to. Hoseok had begrudgingly agreed, making your room look as homey as possible before he had to leave.
That year was one of the hardest for you on record. Living on your own in LA, twenty-four and surrounded by unfamiliar people. Your roommates were nice, but they weren’t your friends, and they had their own problems with crazy jobs to boot. It was rare you saw them outside the house.
When you first met Darren, it had felt like fate. He’d also been lonely, a recent transplant from the Midwest and you’d instantly bonded. This had been March 2019, right after you’d begun writing for The Drop. Your PBS show had ‘released’ you – a fancy term for fired – in July and you’d waffled for a while before The Drop picked you up in November.
The Drop’s success had turned your work life around, but your personal life didn’t pick up until Darren. All throughout this, you were still best friends with Hoseok. Despite being an entire country apart, you continued to text, call and visit when you could.
As luck would have it, Hoseok planned on visiting at the end of the summer, so you were excited for the chance to introduce him to Darren. Darren’s career had begun to take off and he was in the middle of shooting what would be his first Oscar nomination. You found yourself thoroughly smitten and had recently begun saying the l-word to each other.
By the time Hoseok’s visit came, you felt as though you were on top of the world. Finally, your life was going as you’d imagined. Perfect job, perfect boyfriend – everything was beginning to fall into place.
You picked Hoseok up on a Thursday, balmy wind whipping his hair as he exited the terminal. When he saw you, he broke into the biggest smile and you remember feeling your heart twist a little. For the first time, an inharmonious chord sounded and you began to grow nervous about Hoseok meeting Darren.
Even the ride from the airport felt strange, with Hoseok quieter than usual after putting his things in the trunk. He’d rolled down the window when you entered the highway, soaking up the Los Angeles sunshine. As you passed a familiar exit, he’d frowned.
“Hey.” Hoseok had sat up, squinting out the window. “Am I going blind, or did you just pass the exit you usually take?”
Uncertain, your fingers drummed the wheel. “You’re not going blind.”
Hoseok looked at you suspiciously. “What’s going on?”
What was going on was you’d moved in with Darren about a week prior. It was still new and had been impulsive, but one of your roommates had stayed up fighting with her fiancé again and you’d simply snapped. Darren had suggested you move and it had seemed like a reasonable option.
“Okay,” you’d said, grip tightening on the wheel. “Don’t freak out.”
“Why would I freak out?” Hoseok had said, wondering. “I wouldn’t freak out, unless…” Trailing off, he looked at you sharply. “Are you… living with this guy, Y/N?”
“First off, his name is Darren and yes. I’m living with him.”
“Are you serious? You’ve known him for what, five minutes?”
“We’ve been dating for five months, actually –”
“Oh, so much better.”
“Don’t be an ass,” you’d said as you scowled.
Hoseok had rolled his eyes and settled back, but the tension between you lingered. He was quiet when you parked at Darren’s place, warming a little when he first met your boyfriend. Hoseok had always been good at putting on his mask when he needed to.
Later that night, Darren needed to run to the studio, so you and Hoseok had sat on the patio and made homemade margaritas. Begrudgingly, Hoseok agreed Darren’s apartment was nicer than the shithole you’d lived in and given his approval.
It had been tentative, though – you could tell. Deep down, you knew something lingered between you. Resentment, maybe because you hadn’t told him and anger from you, since Hoseok couldn’t just be happy for you and Darren.
The silent truce held until his last night of the trip. That night you went for drinks with Darren and his friends, who were quickly becoming your own. Except for Jimin, who hated Darren because he once saw him litter, and rarely chose to attend the same events.
At some point, you’d gone to the bathroom and when you came back, you found Hoseok with an odd look on his face.
“What’s up?” you’d said, sliding into the booth. Darren had wandered off, grabbing another round of drinks at the bar. “Why do you look like you’ve seen a ghost?”
Hoseok had slowly turned to face you.
You’d hesitated, stomach dropping because you knew that expression. Jung Hoseok was usually the nicest, most positive person you knew. When he decided to be serious, it was no laughing matter.
“Y/N…” Hoseok considered his next words carefully. “Are you happy with him?”
“With Darren,” he’d clarified. “Do you love him?”
“I… what’s with the third degree all of a sudden?” you’d said, laughing nervously.
“I don’t know. Maybe nothing.” Hoseok had paused. “Look. This is super awkward, but I think Darren was texting someone earlier.”
You had frozen, staring at him with blank eyes. The bar around you seemed to blur into nothing.
“I… Darren?” you’d said finally, shaking your head. “That’s impossible. Who was it?”
“I didn’t get a good look at the name,” Hoseok said. “I just saw him type ‘u up?’ to someone. He angled away when he noticed me looking. I asked him who it was, and he said a friend. Then he left for the bar.”
Mind whirling, you’d glanced at the bar. Darren laughed with his friends, chatting as though nothing were the matter. When he’d seen you, he’d grinned and shot you a wink. Your heart flip-flopped in your chest because his actions just didn’t match with what Hoseok said.
Unwittingly, resentment uncurled in your stomach. At one point, you would’ve overanalyzed Hoseok stepping in to be your white knight. Back in high school, you’d fancied yourself to be in love with your best friend, but that had been a long time ago. When years passed and nothing happened between you, you’d forced yourself to move on.
It was never a sign of anything more when Hoseok didn’t like your boyfriends. He was a protective friend and you could live with that, but not when it got in the way of you making life choices.
Defensive, you’d turned back. “Well, maybe it’s not what you thought it was.”
Hoseok’s eyes had widened. “Come on, Y/N. You have to admit that doesn’t look good.”
“Well, no,” you admitted. “But I’m not about to ambush him in a bar, Hobi. Not over something you may or may not have seen on his phone.”
Annoyance clouded his expression. “Are you seriously going to trust him over me?”
“He’s my boyfriend, Hobi. He deserves for me to at least hear him out. I promise I’ll talk to him later.”
Looking away, Hoseok gave a harsh laugh.
“Talk to him. Sure, that’ll work.”
“Oh, nothing.” Hoseok returned to you, gaze fierce. “I guess I’m just not surprised. You’ve been so distant ever since you started dating Darren – just like you were with Ren. Whenever you date someone, Y/N, you get so caught up in them you forget who you are.”
You had reeled backwards, staring at him in shock. “Are you… serious, Hobi? Have you ever stopped to wonder if maybe I’m not the problem here – maybe you are?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You’re unreasonably protective!” you’d said. “Every time I date someone, you don’t like them and then you butt in until they break up with me. That’s what happened with Ren, you know. He thought you were in love with me.”
Hoseok’s jaw dropped. “Can I not tell you what I think? I’m supposed to be your best friend! Of course, I want the best for you. And Ren was an ass! If he felt that threatened by you having guy friends, he didn’t deserve you.”
“Sure, but Darren isn’t like that!”
“You’re right,” Hoseok said with a scowl. “He’s worse. I think he’s cheating on you, Y/N.”
Abruptly, you’d stood from the table. “You’ve been weird ever since you got here,” you’d said, fighting back tears.
Hoseok had stood as well. “Yeah, well maybe if you’d told me what I was walking into, I wouldn’t be acting weird. You said Darren was just some guy! Said you barely saw him between all your work on The Drop. How in the hell are you living together?”
Cheeks heating, you’d shrugged aside his words because you didn’t have an answer. Hoseok was right – you’d downplayed your relationship each time you two had spoken and you didn’t know why.
“I think you should go,” you’d said stiffly, folding your arms over your chest. “I’ll talk to Darren, I promise, but I think you should go.”
Hoseok had stared at you a moment, breathing ragged. “Is that… is that really what you want?”
No, it had not been what you wanted. You hadn’t wanted to see Hoseok leave, but you couldn’t fathom a response which didn’t hurt either one of you more.
“Yeah,” you’d said softly.
Hoseok had swallowed. “I… alright, fine.”
Finishing the last of his drink, Hoseok had set his money down and called a cab. You’d mumbled an excuse to Darren later when he asked, saying Hoseok hadn’t been feeling well. By the time you returned home from the bar, Hoseok was asleep. You barely talked the next morning on the drive to the airport.
It wasn’t as though you and Hoseok had never fought before that night. You didn’t make it through nearly two decades of friendship without ups and downs, but this had to be the longest down you’d ever had. One of you usually broke down and called the other, but not this time. This time felt oddly final.
The distance had hurt you at first – really hurt. It felt almost like a break-up, that’s how strange it was to have Hoseok out of your life. Luckily, you’d had Darren to help pick up the pieces. Losing Hoseok had brought you closer to Darren and for a while, you’d thought that was how things were meant to be.
Obviously, you’d begun to rethink things lately.
You never did ask Darren about the text Hoseok saw and now, you realized Hoseok had probably been right. It was painful to imagine Darren cheating on you so early on. The idea of him falling in love with his co-star hurt a lot less than the idea of her being the latest in a long line of flings.
Swallowing hard, you picked up your suitcase and continued down the hall. Entering your old room, you flipped on the light and shut the door. Opening your suitcase, you began to unpack and then released a sigh, flopping down on your bed.
Staring up at the ceiling, you couldn’t help but smile. Glow-in-the-dark constellations speckled the paint, some of them nonsense and others mirroring the real thing. It’d taken you and Hoseok hours to glue them in place. He’d been obsessed with Greek Mythology at the time – talk about a behavioral psych project – and you’d been terrified of the dark.
Familiar constellations stared back at you. Cassiopeia, Orion, and your personal favorite – the little dipper. You loved the idea of Polaris, the North Star, calling you home. There were less conventional constellations there, too. Directly overhead was the outline of a dick.
It had been a joke at the time, intended to be moved, but Hoseok had used the Krazy Stick glue. Your parents had been furious, grounding you for a month in retribution. Still, the sight never failed to make you grin.
Your smile faded though, realizing how long it’d been since you last laughed with Hoseok. Rolling onto your side, you wondered what tomorrow night would bring. Sara had forwarded the party details to your calendar when you got home and you highly her saying it’d be a small affair.
You liked Yoongi a lot and were incredibly happy to have him in the family. He’d gone to your same high school as you but had been a year older and you hadn’t become friends until college. Yoongi and Hoseok attended the same University and had bonded over their shared hometown.
That was how Yoongi had met Sara. You, Hoseok and Yoongi had hung out one night when Sara decided to show up at the bar. The rest, as they say, was history.
It wasn’t a surprise you’d see Hoseok this weekend. You’d known as soon as you agreed to come home it would likely happen. You had hoped though, with weeks to prepare, you would’ve come up with something better to say.
It had been a year since you’d talked and during that time, Hoseok had been proven right about everything. It would be humiliating to face him, more so than anyone else. Nausea prickled your stomach and you sighed, closing your eyes.
You could do this, you told yourself. A week of polite chit-chat, skirting around important topics and pretending to everyone you had your life together.
Then, you could return to LA and fall apart again.
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The next morning you found yourself seated around the breakfast table, wondering if you’d been wrong to dread coming home. Honestly, there was nothing better than your dad’s homemade omelets in the morning.
As soon as you began eating though, your mom asked what jobs were on the table and you instantly realized it had been a trap. You brushed her questions aside with vague remarks about choosing the right next step. Once you were finished, you hightailed it upstairs before your mom could pry any further.
Coincidentally, Jimin had sent over a bunch of job postings that morning. None of them were super interesting, but at least they were something. A Disney Channel show about a hidden princess, a reality TV dating show, and a crime-thriller drama. With a sigh, you pulled your laptop closer and sent your resume and examples.
At this point, you just needed something to make rent at the end of this month. You could figure out your career after that, but until then you had bills to pay. A few seasons of a successful show weren’t enough to guarantee success in this business. You couldn’t afford to have any pride.
Sighing again, you finished sending out emails and closed your laptop. Staring out your room’s window, you watched the street below.
Mrs. Haberdash power-walked on the sidewalk, jabbering a mile a minute to Mrs. Mum on her other side. Both were dressed in the latest Target athletic wear line. Seeing them, the corners of your lips lifted. Hoseok had always called them the tweedles – after Tweedledee and Tweedledum. This had been the height of hilarity for twelve-year olds, made even more hilarious by the fact that Mrs. Haberdash’s first name was Dee.
The Tweedles happened to be two of the most annoying creatures on the planet. Mrs. Haberdash was the neighborhood busybody, but Mrs. Mum was the one you really had to watch out for. She usually chose to garden out in her front yard, trimming the same bush while listening to all her neighbors.
You hadn’t missed them much in LA, but it was comforting to know they were up to the same old tricks. Josen Falls felt like this each time you returned. You didn’t realize how much you missed things until you were here, surrounded by people who’d shaped your early life.
Josen Falls never seemed to change in any of the ways that mattered. It was the land time had forgotten; a town where people bought name brand groceries only if they had a coupon. A place where Lou, the milkman, was more known than any Hollywood actor.
Indeed, your initial decision to leave for LA had always been met with confusion. It was bad enough a lot of your friend group currently lived in New York. They were viewed with vague suspicion, including Yoongi and Sara, whom Mrs. Haberdash called ‘hoity-toity’ behind their backs. This was Josen Falls’ version of the b-word.
Speaking of whom – Sara had greatly misled you when she said all you needed to do was show up tonight.
As it so happened, a lot needed to be done before the party started at 7:00 PM. You spent most of the day running errands, going down Sara’s checklist with painstaking precision Jimin would’ve been proud of.
Jimin was your only real friend in LA. You’d happened upon him purely by chance, working the shit PBS job you’d had for less than a year. Jimin had been the assistant for all writers at PBS, so when you began writing for The Drop, you’d managed to finagle him a job as well. Jimin had been your assistant ever since, taking on additional clients as his fame grew.
Currently, he worked for you pro bono, but this couldn’t continue for much longer. Jimin always waved aside your insistence of paying him back. He said you’d made his career, but you hated having this hanging overhead. Once you started working again, Jimin would be the first check you’d cut. Simply put, he was the best in the business, and he deserved to be paid.
Despite this, Sara’s list of demands would’ve made even him flinch. You needed to get floral centerpieces, the cake from the bakery, procure blue and silver streamers and drop baking supplies off at your grandma’s. This was only the front side.
By the time you returned home around six, Sara was in a tizzy. Everyone needed to leave for the restaurant in forty-five minutes, and you still needed to shower. Hurrying upstairs, you yelled that everything was under control. After the fastest shower of your life, you made good on your promise and rushed out the door at 6:40 PM.
Your mom had left earlier to ensure decorations were perfect, so when you got there, Raffi’s was a veritable winter wonderland. Blue and silver streamers hung from above, paired with elegant flowers and vases on the table.
There wasn’t much time to appreciate this, though, since guests began to arrive soon after you did. Yoongi was the first one through the door, following Sara’s detailed instructions down to the T. When he entered, Sara’s anxiety melted as she rushed to greet him. Yoongi let out a muffled grunt when she hugged him, but from the goofy grin on his face, you knew he was faking.
Yoongi was a man of medium-height, slight build, and an intense demeanor. Luckily, your sister was the type of person who instantly saw through that. When she first met Yoongi, he’d barely said two words to her, and she saw it as a personal challenge. She would get Yoongi to speak to her.
Little did she know, he’d been harboring a fat crush on Sara since she walked through the door. Sara tended to have that effect on people. When Yoongi did speak, it was to blurt out in frustration he fucking liked her. Sara had been the one floored at that point.
Pulling back from the hug, Yoongi removed his coat to hang on the rack. As he entered the main room, he spotted you and walked over. Sara stayed by the door to greet Yoongi’s brother.
“Y/N.” Yoongi grinned, coming to a stop. “Long time, no see.”
“The longest,” you agreed with a smile. “It’s good to see you.”
You had missed him – that wasn’t a lie. Part of the downside to staying in LA was missing time with your friends from home. Of course, you still had the friend group chat, but it wasn’t the same.
“You don’t have a drink.” Yoongi observed your bare hands.
“Not yet.”
“Sara will fix that soon.”
As though on cue, your sister popped up beside you. “Here you go, Y/N!” she said, handing over a glass of red wine.
Yoongi winked and you laughed, accepting the glass you were handed. Catching this exchange, your sister pouted.
“Were you talking about me?” she said.
“Yes.” Yoongi squeezed her against his side. “Terrible things, all of them.”
“Good.” Sara raised her drink to her lips. “How boring would it be if people complimented you when you left the room?”
Snorting, you tried not to spit wine back in your glass. The other hardest part of living across the country was being away from your sister. Sara loved taking care of people – already, you saw her scanning the room for who else needed a drink. Even though she was the youngest of the family, she loved to play hostess.
As Yoongi sipped his whiskey, neat, you noticed his eyes continually stray towards your sister. It was sweet. His world truly seemed to revolve around her, and you couldn’t help but hope someone would look at you that way one day.
As another of Sara’s bridesmaids arrived, she squealed and darted across the room. Yoongi sighed and followed, taking his whiskey with. He waved goodbye, not seeming unhappy in the slightest as he followed your sister.
You watched them go, glad Sara could enjoy the party despite the small ache in your heart. As happy as you were for them, you couldn’t help but look at Sara and Yoongi and see yourself. Not long ago, you’d had someone to stand beside you at parties. Darren wasn’t that person to you anymore, though. If you were being totally honest – Darren had never been that person to you. Not in the same way Yoongi was to Sara.
Sighing quietly, you took a large sip of your wine and looked up as the door opened.
A gust of snow blew in, along with a familiar face, and all the blood instantly drained from your expression.
Whirling around, you chugged the rest of your wine as you made for the bar. The taste made you wince – no wine was meant to be chugged – but it couldn’t be helped. There was absolutely no way you’d be in direct line of sight when Jung Hoseok entered the party.
Setting your now-empty glass on the bar, you gave the bartender a weak smile as you ordered another. While he was busy with this, you tapped your fingernails against the counter. Quickly, you glanced over your shoulder.
Hoseok remained in the entrance, not looking in your direction – thank the lord. He was paused in removing his coat, nodding at someone who stood before him. Based on the back of their head, it seemed Hoseok was talking to Mr. Min, Yoongi’s dad.
His jacket was unfamiliar, a plaid pea coat thrown over a white button-down. As he bent, your eyes widened, and your breath caught in your throat. Hoseok had dyed his hair black, which was something he’d always wanted to do – and was that an undercut? Shit.
When Hoseok laughed, his eyes crinkled, and you felt your heart tighten. As he fully removed his coat, you saw the outfit underneath. He’d paired the crisp, white shirt with navy pants and those dumb Balenciaga sneakers he loved to wear. When you saw them, you nearly groaned but caught yourself just in time.
Hoseok’s gaze flicked up.
Instantly, you turned and saw your wine before you. “Thanks,” you said, sliding a dollar across the bar as a tip.
Grabbing the glass, you immediately moved as far as you could from the entrance. All you needed was a group of people to disappear into. You picked the first one you could find, wedging yourself between two older women who moved aside easily.
As soon as you looked up, you realized you’d chosen wrong.
The Tweedles stared back, along with a few other neighborhood busybodies. Mrs. Haberdash seemed thrilled, while Mrs. Mum looked – well, she looked how she always looked. Barely awake.
Weakly, you smiled. “Hi,” you said with a wave.
“Y/N!” Mrs. Haberdash clapped her hands. “Home for the holidays, I see. What a surprise!”
Although it wasn’t a question, you found yourself nodding as though it was. “Yes,” you agreed, taking a sip of your wine. “Had to be home for all the celebrations.”
“Oh, of course, of course. But how awkward,” she said, lowering her voice a pitch. “Why, we all saw the tabloids. Your mother told us not to say anything, but you’ve been through such an ordeal. That actor boyfriend of yours… what’s his name again? Derek?”
“Darren,” you said with a tight smile. “We broke up over the summer. I don’t see how that’s related to Sara and Yoongi, though.”
“Oh, it’s not,” Mrs. Haberdash assured. “It’s just so brave of you to show up here, all alone and –”
“She’s not alone,” said a familiar voice, stepping into the circle. “She has me.”
Kim Seokjin slung an arm around your neck, pulling you close in a semi-chokehold. It was less a romantic gesture than a modified wrestling move, but that was Seokjin. One of your closest friends growing up, he now lived in Seattle, so you were pleasantly surprised to find him home for the holidays.
“Oh!” Mrs. Haberdash looked between you. “I apologize. I didn’t know the two of you were, um, well…”
“Lovers?” Seokjin supplied helpfully.
Mrs. Haberdash nearly spit out her drink.
Turning around, you plucked a mini quiche from a passing tray. “Here, sweetums,” you said, lifting this to Seokjin’s lips. “Open wide!”
Before he could oblige, Mrs. Mum cleared her throat. “I’m out of wine,” she said, much to your relief. “Dee, why don’t we…?”
“Ah, yes,” said Mrs. Haberdash. Shaking her head, she seemed to compose herself. She’d been staring, a bit dazed, at Seokjin’s open mouth. “Well, it was lovely to see you, Y/N…”
Trailing off, she practically ran from your presence, the rest of her group following within seconds. Once they’d all disappeared, Seokjin snorted.
“Damn,” he said, looking at you. “I really thought you were going to feed me that mini quiche. You know what food play does to me, Y/N.”
“Gross,” you laughed, wrinkling your nose. Stepping out of his chokehold, you gave Seokjin a hug. “It’s good to see you, despite your weird kinks.”
“Same.” Seokjin pulled back to give you the swift onceover. “Yoongi was right. You’ve lost weight.”
“Will everyone stop discussing my appearance?” you wondered out loud. “Guess what – my weight? Off-limits!”
“Sorry, sorry!” Seokjin laughed. “I mean, you look hot whatever weight you are. Yoongi had to issue a group ban to his cousins, telling them the maid of honor was off limits.”
“Really?” you said, glancing around you with interest. “Why’d he do that? Maybe I want a rebound.”
“Take that up with Yoongi,” he said. “But seriously, Y/N, it’s good to see you. It’s been awhile since you came home.”
Exhaling softly, you glanced down at your glass. “Don’t make me give you the same excuses as Mrs. Haberdash,” you said quietly. “I’ve been busy. Out in LA, getting my heart stomped on, you know. The usual.”
Seokjin was silent a moment and when you looked up, his gaze was shrewder than he had any right to be.
“You’re right,” he said at last, plucking the empty drink from your hand. “Let’s not talk about it. Let’s talk about what alcohol we want to drink next. I think I saw Namjoon at the bar.”
“Joonie?” you said, perking up as you followed.
Seokjin was right – as you approached the bar, you saw another childhood friend, Kim Namjoon, leaning against the counter. As a rising civil rights lawyer in New York, he was now considered to be something of a Big Deal, but this didn’t stop Seokjin from trying to give him a wedgie.
Namjoon dodged. “Thanks,” he said, only to spot you behind Seokjin. His eyes widened. “Y/N!” Namjoon said, nearly spilling his drink to wrap you in a hug. “I didn’t know you were coming home tonight!”
“Yeah,” you said, grinning as you pulled away. “Just got in last night.”
“It’s so good to see you.” Namjoon beamed.
“Yeah, yeah.” Seokjin leaned on the counter. “An appletini for me and for the lady, a glass of your cheapest red wine.”
The bartender stared, baffled and you came to his rescue.
“Chianti,” you said, then returned to Namjoon. “Ah, seriously. I’m so glad we’re all together again.”
“Same,” he said, looking you up and down. “Wow, you look –”
“I swear to god. If you say one thing about my weight.”
“… cheerful,” finished Namjoon weakly. “Must be the holidays.”
Seokjin snorted, turning with a green martini in hand. You accepted the glass of red wine he handed you and glanced around. Despite your earlier threats, it was good to see them. Like most things about Josen Falls, you never realized how much you missed them until you were here.
Scanning the room, you realized the restaurant had started to fill. You spotted Sara and Yoongi walking in, stopping to chat with Lana, who owned the local coffee shop. Just behind them stood your mom and to her right – your stomach swooped.
To her right was Hoseok.
He was chatting with one of your aunts, making her laugh in a way she rarely did. Dimly, you hoped they weren’t talking about you.
Forcing your gaze to Seokjin and Namjoon, you took a sip of your wine. “Wow,” you exhaled. “So, how long has it been?”
“Let’s see.” Seokjin swirled his appletini. “I think the last time we were together was for Namjoon’s sister’s wedding. So, what was that – last spring? Damn, that feels like forever ago.”
“It’s been nearly eight months,” Namjoon agreed. “Seems longer. Especially since Y/N was only there for part of the weekend. She left early to be with – uh, to go do something. I don’t… remember what, exactly.”
Shutting up, Namjoon’s cheeks turned pink and you tried not to laugh. He’d been about to say you left to be with Darren on the set of his movie. This, of course, had been before you knew Darren was cheating on you.
“It’s alright,” you assured him. “Don’t feel like you need to tip-toe around it. It’s just the Mrs. Haberdashes of the world I’d rather avoid.”
“Tweedledee?” Namjoon made a face. “Is that who Seokjin rescued you from?”
“The one and only.”
“She was asking Y/N about that douchebag,” said Seokjin. “Acting like Y/N needed to be pitied when really, this is a good thing! Y/N is free from all that hair gel and we have our Y/N back.”
Blinking, you stared at him for a second. You hadn’t realized how your friends felt about Darren. Sara had alluded to something similar when she was drunk, but you hadn’t realized the true extent. Possibly Hoseok had been right – you did tend to get blinders when you began dating someone.
Glancing around, you began to panic when you realized Hoseok had moved. Covertly scanning the premises of the bar, you failed to spot him anywhere else.
Leaning casually backwards, you glanced at the hall – no Hoseok. This put you on edge, the same way being in the room with a dangerous animal might make one nervous if they couldn’t see it.
“Crick in your neck, Y/N?” Seokjin said pleasantly. “Namjoon went to school for a long time. He probably knows how to fix that.”
“I went to law school, Seokjin, not med school.”
“Are the two different?”
“I’m going to the bathroom,” you announced before Namjoon’s eyes could bug out any further. Placing your glass on the counter, you turned and patted his arm. “Catch up with you later, okay?”
Both of them nodded, Seokjin taking a long sip of his drink before frowning. As you left, you heard him say, “But seriously, Namjoon. What do you do for a living?”
Namjoon sounded vaguely insulted in his response, so you slipped to the hall. Continuing to scan the restaurant, you found yourself distracted by the sheer amount of people around you. Hoseok was nowhere to be seen, which only served to increase your nervousness.
You were so busy looking for him, you failed to notice where you were going. As you turned the corner, you tripped on a rug and stumbled – straight into Hoseok, who exited the next room.
Both of you reeled, trying and failing to right yourselves.
“Shit!” you blurted, grabbing his shoulders in an attempt not to fall.
Hoseok’s right hand encircled your waist as you fell against him. His back hit the wall, your chest flush to his while you stared at him, wide-eyed.
Meeting your gaze, Hoseok froze underneath you. His hand remained on your waist; your body curved against his in a way which felt strangely intimate. Heat radiated between you for a moment, and then you came to your senses, remembering who you were and what you were doing.
“I – I’m sorry,” you said, scrambling backwards. “I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.”
“Me neither,” said Hoseok, sounding hoarse.
Hearing his voice, you forgot what to say. You thought you’d been prepared to see him again, but now you realized how woefully wrong you’d been. Nothing could prepare you for standing before him, with Hoseok holding himself like that – as though you were a stranger.
Swallowing away your discomfort, you met his gaze. You could do this, you told yourself. You could smile, thank him for coming and then move past.
“You look good,” you blurted out.
Or – you could do that. Inwardly, you cursed.
Hoseok blinked. “Oh. Thanks.”
You waited for him to continue, but when he didn’t, you began to feel foolish. Wishing the earth would swallow you whole, you glanced past Hoseok and stared at the door.
You hadn’t been lying, though – Hoseok did look good. Had you been through a breakup, you would’ve said he was the winner. You two hadn’t been dating, though. You’d only been best friends; he’d only been the most important guy in your life before your friendship had ended.
The pain of this burned, stinging the back of your throat.
Hoseok slowly exhaled. “So. Yoongi said you’re Sara’s maid of honor?”
Surprised, you glanced back. You’d nearly forgotten. “Yeah,” you said. “You’re going to be Yoongi’s best man, right?’
“… Cool.”
Silence fell between again and, somewhat miserable, you looked away. Hoseok clearly had nothing to say and you couldn’t think of anything better to say than cool. He seemed so unmoved, so unruffled by your presence and you could barely hold it together.
You couldn’t help wondering what Hoseok had heard about you. You wondered if he knew you’d broken up with Darren, if he knew The Drop was ending after this season. You wondered if he knew you thought about him way too much to be considered normal.
While you were wallowing in self-pity, Hoseok cleared his throat. This time when you looked, he seemed vaguely uncomfortable.
“Look,” Hoseok exhaled, but you never found out what he was going to say, since Jungkook came barreling around the corner.
“Y/N!” he yelled, rushing forward.
You let out an oof, laughing as he hugged you. Jungkook was one of your sister’s best friends from high school and had since become one of yours by default.
Pulling back, Jungkook glanced between you and Hoseok. “Oh, hey Hobi,” he said, as though nothing was wrong. “Yoongi was looking for you a minute ago. Said something about cufflinks in your car?”
“Oh, shit.” Hoseok winced. “Which room is he in?”
Jungkook pointed and Hoseok, after a glance in your direction, nodded and left. He didn’t say goodbye before he disappeared and you stood there for a moment, staring at his back.
Deep down, you’d known this was how things would go. Nothing had changed since you stopped being friends except, you’d broken up with Darren. While that may have started the fight between you and Hoseok, it had been over a year since. Lots of hurt and confusion had come between you. It was foolish to imagine something might have changed.
“Want another drink?” Jungkook interrupted your thoughts. “Namjoon and Seokjin are inside at the bar.”
Nodding gratefully, you followed Jungkook into the restaurant, realizing belatedly you hadn’t gone to the bathroom. Not that you’d needed to go. That had only been an excuse to escape Hoseok, which had majorly backfired.
As you rejoined the group at the bar, you ordered another drink and tried to forget. It was strange to be in the same room as Hoseok and not stand beside him. Some basic, molecular part of yourself refused to accept the fact you were no longer friends. This part of yourself longed to cross the room and tell Hoseok about your run in with the Tweedles, but you couldn’t.
Still, you forced yourself to keep smiling. This was Sara and Yoongi’s night, after all. Pushing Hoseok from mind, you drank and attempted to forget the mortification you felt each time you caught sight of him in your peripheral.
It was in this way the night passed. By the end, you were relieved to make it through without major incident. Your friends were the last to go, Seokjin shrugging on a bomber jacket you deemed completely inappropriate for the temperature outside. He kissed you on the cheek, loudly calling you his lover again for Mrs. Haberdash’s sake (who had left an hour prior) until Namjoon physically pulled him out the door.
You helped your mom clean until she shooed you away and told you to leave. Your dad, who’d been labeled designated driver, grandly bowed before leaving to heat up the car.
It was your job to wrangle Sara, who had her arms wrapped around Yoongi’s neck and was refusing to go. Yoongi, whose cheeks were pink with alcohol, didn’t seem to mind, but he flushed a darker shade once he realized your dad was waiting.
“C’mon babe,” he said, handing Sara over to you. “I’ll see you tomorrow! Promise.”
Sara sighed, but allowed herself to be extricated and led out the door. Hoseok had left around the same time as Seokjin and Namjoon, so he wasn’t there when you entered the parking lot. It had begun to snow again, so you walked as fast as you could towards your dad’s car.
Placing Sara in the backseat, you entered the passenger side and turned on the radio. It was tuned to the Christmas station, which made you think about holidays when you were children. The night felt largely the same, with Sara singing in the backseat while your dad harmonized in falsetto.
You laughed and joined in but couldn’t seem to shake the heavy weight from your chest. If this were really like your childhood, Hoseok would have texted at least twice by now.
As it was, your phone remained empty the rest of the way home and you fell asleep that night wondering what he’d been about to say.
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The next day passed uneventfully, with Fridays being low-key around the house. Both your parents were working, only taking off the next week for Christmas, so you and Sara lounged until your dad’s conference calls became too distracting.
Heading up to your room, you opened your laptop and sat at your desk. Staring at the screenplay pulled up on the page, you sighed. One for the Money was your pet project, something you’d worked on the past few years whenever you had spare time. It had been on hold for a while due to The Drop, but you’d had more time to work on it lately.
The spec script was finished, but each time you sent it out, you received negative responses. It would’ve been helpful had the studios given you critique, but nothing so far surmounted to anything more than a corporate template.
You had re-read the script many times, hoping to spot whatever it was everyone hated. Unfortunately, you seemed to be having about as much luck with this in your bedroom as you had in LA – aka, no luck.
Maybe this had something to do with your surroundings. Each time you glanced up you spotted another reminder of Hoseok. Beneath your desk was a stain from the night you’d dared Hoseok to fit as many marshmallows in his mouth as he could. He’d gotten to fifteen before he nearly choked and spat the glob on the carpet. As it turned out, marshmallow goo was surprisingly hard to clean.
That had been the only time your mom had gotten mad at Hoseok. Normally, he walked on water at your household, but your mom had gone so far as to gently admonish him that day. Hoseok had been extremely apologetic, scrubbing on both hands and knees, but the stain refused to come out.
Glancing away, you tried to think of something else, but your gaze found your bed and you were gone once again. You recalled the night your Grandma died; you’d refused to answer Hoseok’s texts. He’d been so worried he’d climbed up the trellis beneath your window and knocked until you let him in.
Hoseok had stayed the entire night, holding you and letting you cry into his grey hoodie.
Shutting your laptop, you let out a sigh. This room was too distracting – every other room in the house would be distracting, as well. Shoving your things in your bag, you slung this over your shoulder and stood from your desk. What you needed was a fresh change of pace.
Hurrying downstairs, you paused at the landing to yell you needed the car. Your dad yelled back, “Sure, Lucy!” and you grabbed the keys from the hook. Throwing on a coat, you got in his sedan and – shivering violently – drove the several blocks over to your favorite coffee shop.
As you entered Lana’s Corner, holiday bells jingled overhead. The woman behind the counter looked up, breaking into a smile when she saw it was you.
“Y/N!” Lana gushed, rushing forward. Wrapping you in a warm hug, she squeezed and took a step back. “You’re home! I heard you went to LA and made something of yourself. Way to go!”
Shaking your head, you attempted a smile. “Well, tried to, anyways.”
“No, no – none of that,” she said, shaking her finger as she returned behind the counter. “You’ve done wonderful things and there’s more to come. I can feel it. The usual?” she asked, stopping at the register. “Hot chocolate with extra marshmallows?”
You paused, since this had been your favorite drink in high school, but you rarely drank hot chocolate these days. As much as you hated to say LA had rubbed off on you, it was a lot of sugar for mid-afternoon.
Deciding, fuck it, you shrugged. “Sure,” you said, heading to your old table by the windows. “Thanks, Lana!”
Shrugging from your coat, you draped this over your chair and sat down. Lana was odd in that she insisted people eat and drink before paying a dime. Said she didn’t want to charge people if they didn’t enjoy her food – you’d fought this for a while but had eventually given up. Lana was even more stubborn than you.
Pulling out your laptop, you opened your email and saw Jimin had sent more jobs. Releasing a sigh, you opened the first one.
Lana brought your hot chocolate within minutes, placing it beside your laptop to cool. You continued to work while you sipped the confection. There was something about your screenplay you clearly weren’t seeing, but you had no idea how to take a step back and be more objective.
Midway through editing, you felt your phone ring in your pocket. Digging around in your bag, you pulled it out to answer.
“Hello?” you said.
“Hello!” a bright voice chirped. “Y/N?”
“Yes, this is she. With whom am I speaking?”
“Oh, you’re too much!” the other person said with a laugh. “No need to be so formal, darling. This is Daisy from MTV. You applied to our screenwriter position yesterday?”
Frantically, you racked your brain for which TV show this was.
“Uh, right,” you said, scrolling through your inbox. “Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly!”
“Of course, of course. I have to say, we were surprised to see your resume! Someone who used to write for The Drop isn’t exactly our usual suspect.”
“Oh, well… I have a varied interest across all forms of media.”
“Mm, is that so?”
There was rustling on the other end, as though Daisy were sifting through papers. Biting down on your lip, you scanned more of Jimin’s emails while she paused.
“I assume your assistant told you about Roulette?”
Immediately, you stopped looking and felt your heart sink.
Roulette was a terrible reality dating show Jimin had sent your way. Its premise was the following – someone went on three dates and was asked to choose one person at the end. The catch was one date was someone they’d passed over on a dating app, one was someone who’d passed over them on a dating app and the third was the ex of someone in their real life.
You hated the premise for multiple reasons, but mostly because you couldn’t believe someone wouldn’t recognize any of these people. Especially the supposed ex of someone they knew.
Teeth gritted, you said, “Right, of course. Jimin told me about the concept and I found it so interesting. Lots of room for conflict.”
“Bingo!” Daisy laughed. “Conflict is reality TV’s bread and butter. I like to think of it as the new recipe for storytelling. Rather than the classic rising action, climax and falling action – it’s all rise. You know Shakespeare was considered uncultured in his time, right? He wrote plays which appealed to the masses and now, our kids study him in lit class. Maybe one day people will study the Kardashians.”
Lips parted, you struggled to keep up with her dizzying rhetoric. Honestly, someone probably should study the Kardashians if they hadn’t already. Say what you wanted about their culturally appropriating asses; they knew how to make money.
“That would be… something,” you said, realizing she wanted an answer. “Anyways, what questions did you have for me?”
“Oh, nothing so formal as that.” Daisy laughed. “Why don’t you just pitch me a few ideas for the show? Where would you suggest for a first date?”
Networks sometimes did this, asking writers during the interview if they had ideas. Normally though, you at least were given a heads-up this was coming. Staring into your hot chocolate, you scrambled for concepts.
“Um, let’s see,” you said, stalling for time. “They could go to an arcade?”
“Hm.” Daisy tsk-ed. “That kind of thing has been done to death. Anything else?”
“Sure, uh… there are bars where you can go axe-throwing. It’s supposed to be oddly therapeutic.”
“Interesting, interesting… any other ideas? Something a bit more… original?”
Vaguely annoyed by her tone, you straightened in your seat.
“Okay, well,” you said. “If it’s a dating show, there’s no time for pining. I say you throw them into situations where emotions are heightened. Make them fall for each other faster. Maybe something with a shark cage, or skydiving, or cliff-jumping.”
“Adrenaline is always good!”
“Yeah,” you said, relaxing a little. “My ex-boyfriend and I repelled down a waterfall on vacation and it was terrifying, but super romantic after. You feel closer to someone after escaping a near-death experience.”
“Love that!” Daisy sounded interested for the very first time. “Was this with your ex-boyfriend, Darren Carmichael?”
Blinking, you weren’t sure how she knew that about you. It seemed the screenwriting world was smaller than you’d thought.
“I – uh, no,” you said, lying through your teeth. “Someone else.”