love potions are dangerous things. not only can they be deadly if not brewed correctly, but they’re also quite deceitful. the love experienced by the drinker isn’t real. it fades into nothing over time. a love potion doesn’t make someone love you—it just makes them experience what it’s like to love the person who gave them the potion.
taehyung and jungkook decide to make a love potion for their final project. the focus of their research is shared love—they each put in a drop of their blood and hope for the best, basically. research said it could be done, so…
it works. during their examination they feed the potion to a test subject and watch it take effect almost immediately. it’s perfect—it’s strong and exquisitely balanced, the test subject, namjoon, has heart eyes for the both of them and starts crying the moment he’s asked to choose between them.
safe to say, they pass with flying colours and what better way to celebrate than by ambushing their roommate and having some wine together?
yoongi comes home yawning and sleepy and cranky and complaining about the wizard he works for and falls face first on the couch. jungkook comes to sit next to him on the floor with his legs folded underneath him, taps yoongi on his head and leans his elbows next to him on the couch. “hyung.”
yoongi hums into a pillow. he doesn’t lift his head or even turn it to look at his roommate. other than the vague noise of acknowledgement at the back of his throat, there’s no other indication that he’s aware of jungkook’s presence.
“get up. we’re celebrating.”
yoongi hums some more into his pillow, but this time the noises seem to resemble words. jungkook thinks maybe he’s mumbling what are we celebrating, but he’s honestly not sure. he decides to take a gamble, scoots up and drapes himself over yoongi’s back. “we passed! we’re graduating! the potion was a success!”
taehyung comes up from behind and wraps his arms around jungkook’s waist. he presses his cheek against jungkook’s back and squeals in delight. “we’re drinking wine to celebrate! open the bottle for me?”
yoongi finally lifts his head up, squinting up at his roommates and trying to shake jungkook off his back. he waves his hand lazily in the direction of the wine bottle taehyung is holding up and watches the cork pop out and fall straight into the boy’s waiting hand.
“i’ll come back with glasses!” and taehyung jumps up, narrowly avoids spilling wine all over jungkook and disappears off to the kitchen. jungkook follows suit after smiling his teeth bare at yoongi.
“taehyungie…“ jungkook jumps up on the counter, twirls the bottle of left-over love potion around in his fingers. since they’d had to put in two drops of blood, they’d accidentally made double the dose needed for the examination. there’s no real reason to keep the left-over—it’s not like they would ever use it. it was pretty unethical to do so, and, besides, who were they going to use it on?
well. there was one person.
taehyung and jungkook had grown from classmates to best friends to boyfriends over the course of a couple of years. they hadn’t been boyfriends for that long, had been best friends for way longer. and maybe they’d always been attracted to each other a little, but what fully drew them together was their shared attraction to… to yoongi. he’d been their senior in high school and then later in university and they watched him grow older and more handsome and lovable over the years and it’s not like they could tell him they were into him? when he wasn’t into them? his love for them was purely platonic, and it hurt realising that, but what were they to do?
they bonded over their unrequited love and realised that, perhaps, they liked each other as a little more than best friends as well, and so they started dating. but it wasn’t exactly enough. they always kept this tiny space in their relationship that was reserved for their hyung and they both knew it would never be filled, but they were okay with that. they’d both come to the conclusion that they’d rather have that empty what-if than try to fill it up with something meaningless.
it wasn’t like they didn’t love each other enough, it’s just that they had a little more love to give. and if they had to give that love platonically… then they’d do that. for their hyung.
jungkook looks down at the potion in his hands, stares at this clear liquid that looks for all the world like it’s simple tap water, and he knows that there’s only one person he’d want to give it to. but they can’t. because it would be unethical. yoongi would realise once the effects wear off and he’d probably hate them and never want to talk to them again. and it’s not like it’d be real. it would be an empty kind of love—there’d be no depth, no meaning to it. it wouldn’t satisfy either of them.
so jungkook holds up this bottle of useless love potion and grins at taehyung and says: “hyung, let’s put in an extra ingredient for hyung” and he doesn’t mean it and taehyung knows he doesn’t mean it so they laugh about it and don’t think anything of it as jungkook takes one of the glasses and puts a few drops in. they look at each other and chuckle and it’s all in good fun. they know which glass it’s poured into, so either of them can drink it and nothing will have happened. it’s all pretend. that’s all. and they share a giggly kiss over these glasses of wine and then they bring them out into the living room.
jungkook carries the one that’s spiked, so that they don’t fuck up and accidentally give yoongi this stupid potion that’s entirely meaningless but would give them yoongi’s love for about a week.
and then jungkook’s brain kind of short-circuits and he forgets that he’s the one holding the ticking time bomb, not taehyung, and he gives it to yoongi without a second thought and watches his hyung take a sip.
“oh, fuck,” taehyung says, at the same time jungkook kind of chokes on his own spit and watches on in horror as their hyung takes another sip and almost drains his entire glass in one go. taehyung drops the glasses he’s been holding and the shattering of glass rings through the apartment and no one moves for a while.
“taehyung-ah,” yoongi says. he sets his glass on the coffee table and pushes himself off the couch.
“no!” jungkook all but yells. he pushes yoongi back down, eyes wide and frantic and then he’s jumping over the broken glass and grasping taehyung’s hand in his and drags him into the kitchen. “stay on the fucking couch!” he yells over his shoulder and he adds a belated hyung, because he has manners—even in a crisis.
“what do we fucking do!” jungkook whisper yells, once they’re in the kitchen.
“i don’t know!” taehyung’s also whisper yelling and he’s shaking his head violently and wringing his hands.
“we don’t have any neutraliser! we only made enough for joonie-hyung! fuck!” jungkook rubs his forehead and then his eyes and then the back of his head. his hand comes up to his hair and he almost pulls it all out in frustration
taehyung opens his mouth to do some more panic whispering, but the door to the kitchen cracks open and yoongi pokes his head around the door. his brows are raised in worry and he steps in and sizes them both up. “are you guys okay? did you cut yourself? is that blood on your foot?” he’s staring down at taehyung’s socks. they each have splatters of red on them.
“what?” taehyung looks down, wriggles his toes. “no, it’s just wine! we’re both fine!” they’re not fine.
“then what’s going on? why are you panicking? they’re just glasses. we can buy more. it’s fine. so long as no one got hurt, everything’s fine.”
jungkook starts shaking his head. he doesn’t know where to begin to tell yoongi how fine everything isn’t. everything is the opposite of fine.
yoongi looks from taehyung to jungkook and back and he’s smiling sweetly and jungkook kind of wants to cry, because, once the potion loses its effects, he probably won’t get to see such a smile again. he pushes his bottom lip out and it starts wobbling, but he digs his nails into his palms to stop himself from actually crying.
the sweet smile doesn’t last very long, anyway, because yoongi’s eyes glide over toward the counter and see the potion standing there, a little less empty than when the boys had shown it to him proudly just this morning. the cork isn’t fully in the bottle anymore, either. yoongi eyes it for a while, and then his eyes flicker back up to look at them both sternly. his sweet smile is gone now.
“taehyung…. jungkook… what did you do? don’t… tell me… you… ?”
“it was an accident,” jungkook says uselessly. there are tears pricking in the corners of his eyes, but it feels wrong to cry in this situation so he doesn’t.
“we didn’t mean to, hyung.” taehyung’s voice sounds very tiny and shaky, he takes a step toward his hyung, but changes his mind and stays rooted in place.
“i’m sorry, but… but weren’t you two preaching about the morality surrounding love potions? i sat through your presentation multiple times while you practiced. did something change last minute? or are you two being massive fucking hypocrites right now?” yoongi doesn’t ever yell. jungkook and taehyung have seen him mad maybe once or twice, never directed at them until now, but what’s scary about him is that he doesn’t raise his voice, doesn’t become frantic. his anger is the calmest and scariest thing they’ve ever seen, and they’d always thanked their lucky stars they hadn’t been the recipient of that anger. jungkook really wants to cry now. “and yet… you slipped me a love potion. what? you thought it’d be fun to watch me make a fool of myself? did you want to have a laugh at my expense? is that it?”
yoongi’s anger isn’t so calm this time. his voice has risen in volume a little and his ears are going red. the worst of all is the look in his eyes. it’s not cold or impassive. he just looks sad.
“we really, really, really didn’t mean to! it was a joke!” jungkook’s crying now. it’s messy and ugly and he can’t really see, everything’s gone blurry. his chest is constricting and he breathes in harsh gasps that don’t really let any air into his lungs. yoongi’s face twists as soon as jungkook uses the word joke and jungkook tries backtracking in panic. “no! i mean… not a joke! at your expense! it’s just that we like you a lot and we know we can never have you that way and i was being stupid and put it in one of the glasses and was like haha, let’s give it to hyung but i didn’t mean it! it was a… a joke! we were laughing at our own expense, because we couldn’t have you even with a love potion! we weren’t going to make you drink it, i just fucked up!”
while jungkook is stumbling over his words, taehyung stares at yoongi with his mouth half open. he shakes his boyfriend’s shoulder, tries to get him to stop blabbing. “kook. kook! shut up . how is he going to be mad at us if he’d had the potion. he’d be head over heels, he wouldn’t be mad. he didn’t drink it! stop.”
jungkook stops rather abruptly. “that can’t be. i was the one carrying the spiked one. i’m certain.”
“but he’s fine! look at him!”
taehyung and jungkook’s ability to talk as though yoongi wasn’t actually around had always exasperated him, now more so than ever, but he can’t very well focus on that after what jungkook had just said. yoongi blinks at them rather stupidly, while they continue talking.
“i’m sure he drank it.” they’re both looking at him with curious eyes. jungkook’s cheeks are still wet and he’s sniffling, but he pays his tears no mind.
“maybe the potion stopped working?” taehyung suggests.
“it wouldn’t have. it was the same batch that we used for the demonstration and that one worked perfectly.”
“you… like me?” yoongi finally says. the potion doesn’t seem so important anymore now.
taehyung scoffs and says “of course not” at the same time that jungkook looks down at his feet and says, in resignation, “we do” and then they look at each other in panic and taehyung blurts out “we do!” while jungkook says “we don’t!” the two boys look at each other again, but this time it’s in pure horror.
“why didn’t you… tell me?” yoongi just looks kind of deflated now. the corners of his mouth droop and his brows knit together. he looks lost and confused. “but you’re dating each other. how could you like... me?”
“we liked you before we started dating. it’s… how we became boyfriends.” taehyung searches for comfort in jungkook’s hand. he clasps it tightly in his own.
“i’m… going for a walk.” yoongi spares them both another look, before he turns around and leaves the kitchen in silence. taehyung and jungkook stay still in the kitchen. they both wince when they hear the front door fall shut.
“i think he hates us now,” jungkook says quietly and taehyung wants to shake his head and say that that’s not the case. yoongi wouldn’t ever hate them. except he’s not so sure now. they really fucked up.
“i’m sure he doesn’t,” taehyung sighs. he pulls jungkook into a hug.
yoongi stands outside of their apartment and he takes two steps away from the door and then backtracks and presses his back against it. he sinks to the floor, pulls his legs to his chest and leans his forehead against his knees.
he sits like that for a while, contemplating what’d just happened, while the two boys he’s liked ever since they followed him into university and became his roommates sit somewhere on the other side. he wants to go inside and tell them that they’re stupid, and he wants to be mad that they fed him the potion—even if they didn’t mean to do so—and he wants to be mad at them for never telling him, but he doesn’t do any of those things. he just sits with his back to the door and doesn’t really think about anything at all.
he doesn’t know how to process it. yoongi had given up on them a long while ago, once they’d started dating. maybe he’d given up on them from the very beginning—it’s not like he could’ve told them he liked both of them, anyway. his crush, or whatever it was, had always been a constant that was just sort of... there. he knew nothing would ever come of it, but he accepted that. so long as he could still be around them, he was happy enough.
except now they’re claiming that they like him back and it feels a bit like the axis on which his world has been spinning for so long has shifted beyond recognition. he feels strangely off balance, now that this one fact he’d held onto for so long—they don’t like me, they only like each other—and had been leaning on as a crutch, turns out to be false.
when he finally gets up and punches in the keycode to their door, and it starts beeping and he pulls it open, the apartment is strangely quiet. he finds jungkook and taehyung on the couch. they’re holding hands, but they’re not talking. he’s never seen them so quiet before.
“it was wrong of you to slip me the potion, even if it was on accident.” he sits down on the coffee table in front of them. they look up at him slowly.
“at least you didn’t actually take it. it must have been in one of the glasses i broke,” taehyung says, before inhaling deeply and nodding. “but it was wrong, yes.”
“it wasn’t. it was in the one i gave him,” jungkook argues.
“then how do you explain the fact that it didn’t work!”
taehyung and jungkook look on the verge of arguing and yoongi wonders if that’s what they’ve been doing while he sat outside and did nothing.
“he’s right,” yoongi says softly. “i probably consumed it.”
“but it didn’t work on you,” taehyung repeats, frustration evident in his voice. “the only explanation is that you didn’t drink it. that’s the only sensible explanation.”
after a deep, deep sigh and with a courage he didn’t know he had in him, yoongi pushes himself off the table and moves to the kitchen. he finds the potion there, where he’d found it on the counter before, and takes it with him. he makes sure to sit in front of them again and makes a point of uncorking it slowly and downing the entire thing. it tastes just like water, which almost makes him think it is just that, except it smells of his favorite things—it smells of taehyung and jungkook during sleepy mornings when they’re all on the couch together and yoongi sits in between them and they hold his hands and rest their heads on his shoulders and he’s surrounded by them—so he knows for certain that it isn’t just water.
“taehyung, i hate your wide smile and the way it makes your eyes light up.” taehyung gasps, affronted. “jungkook, you look so stupid when you laugh and your nose kind of scrunches up. i hate it. i hate you both.” jungkook just frowns.
“what are you doing?” taehyung asks softly.
“i’m showing you that the potion just doesn’t work on me.”
“but why wouldn’t it work… ? it worked fine before.” jungkook cocks his head in confusion.
“it’s not that the potion doesn’t work. it just doesn’t work on me.”
“that makes no sense.”
“it does.” they both look at him silently, clearly not understanding what’s going on. “it doesn’t work on me, because it can’t give me feelings i already have.”
he thinks maybe he sees some understanding start to unfold on the sweet and also kind of dumb faces of the two boys he’d pined after for so long. the faces of the two boys he could, maybe, have now. the understanding he sees is very brittle and he knows why. they both understand what he’s hinting at, but it sounds too good to be true.
yoongi feels like this entire situation is too good to be true, and he has the entire world to lose now, but he has to try. he owes himself that. and maybe he owes them that, too.
“i like you, too. both of you.”