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northern rainfall

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Taehyung’s first impression of Helsinki in November is that it’s dark, even though it’s afternoon when they land. The darkness is glum and gray, as if a mist is veiling everything in sight. The bright lights inside the airport create a stark contrast with the outside world, where shadows veil everything like a thick fabric thrown across the landscape. Taehyung trails closer to a window, but the outside world is just dark and grayish hues, with a few colored lights blinking in the direction of the landing strip. 

Taehyung’s second impression of Helsinki in November is that it’s chilly. It’s not exactly freezing cold, no, but it’s chilly in a way coastal cities get during the winter months. It’s the kind of chill that settles into his bones and makes him want to bury himself in a mountain of blankets and drink endless cups of steaming hot tea.

Jimin makes a whiny noise when they exit the airport building through a side door and file into two big cars. “There’s no snow. I thought there would be snow.” He slumps down in the car seat and leans tiredly against Taehyung’s shoulder. “Namjoon-hyung, why isn’t there any snow?”

“I guess we’re not far enough in the north,” Namjoon says from the seat across from them, looking up from his phone. 

Jungkook peeks from the backseat over Namjoon’s shoulder. “How much farther up north can you even go? Like, before you hit the north pole.” 

Namjoon is quiet for a moment, fingers tapping the screen of his phone, then twists in his seat to look at Jungkook. “According to google, about 1,500 kilometers before you hit the ocean in the north. Gotta cross over to Norway for that, though. It’s like 18 hours by car.”

“You’d probably find snow before that, though,” Jungkook says, looking at Jimin. Everyone knows Jimin loves snow.

Jimin pouts, eyes closed as he rests against Taehyung’s side. “It’s a winter package shoot, so there should be snow.” He sounds tired, a bit like a petulant child.

“There will be snow.” Namjoon sounds like he’s certain of it, so as usual he probably knows more about their agenda than the rest of them.

When they exit the cars at the hotel, despite being tired and having to drag Jimin’s half-asleep ass around, Taehyung stops to laugh at Yoongi when he climbs out of the car that followed them.

“Hyung, it’s not that cold.”

Yoongi grumbles something, the words getting lost in his face mask and the collar of his coat that’s zipped up almost to his eyes, like he’s freezing cold even though they traveled to the hotel inside moderately toasty cars. He’s probably just tired—they all are, but flying always seems to affect Yoongi the most. He loves visiting new places but hates flying, so after a long flight he tends to be slightly ruffled, a bit rough around the edges. Taehyung brushes a soothing hand down Yoongi’s arm in passing, as if smoothing some of the roughness away, and Yoongi glances up from his luggage. Taehyung can’t see his mouth because of his mask and the collar, but Yoongi’s eyes reveal he’s smiling. Tiredly, but smiling nonetheless.

They get checked in, and Taehyung drags Jimin upstairs to his room and pushes him on the bed, pulling the blanket on him. Jimin would do the exact same thing for him if he was on the verge of passing out due to exhaustion. 

“I’ll come wake you for dinner,” Taehyung says.

Jimin mumbles something unintelligible and dives deeper under the blanket.

Taehyung switches the lights off and leaves, going over his check-in info to see that his room is a few doors down from Jimin’s. Once there, he slides his suitcase in and closes the door, plopping down in an armchair by the window. He rubs his face as his gaze roams the room and lands on the bed. He should follow Jimin’s example and sleep for a bit. He’s probably just as tired as the rest of them—his body feels heavy and clumsy, like his limbs aren’t quite getting the signals from his brain correctly, but his mind is flitting all over the place, restless and alert.

He sends a message to their group chat, but everyone aside from Jungkook is either napping or going to be very soon, so Jungkook is the only one who’s willing to go sightseeing with him. Well, if they can actually see any sights in the grayness surrounding the hotel. Taehyung cracks the curtain and looks at the trees in the park across the street. It’s like Silent Hill , Taehyung thinks, recalling that one time when Jungkook forced him to play the game and then laughed when Taehyung wanted to hide behind the couch.

When Taehyung exits his room and asks one of the managers to lend him a few security guys, his phone dings again.

YG: wake me up when you come back?

TH: sure, hyung

JK: your funeral, Tae

TH: (⌒▽⌒)

YG: -.-

Taehyung and Jungkook exit the hotel wearing hats and scarves but no masks, because in this environment they’d attract more attention than their faces. A couple of their security people trail somewhere behind, and they have strict instructions to not wander too far from the hotel.

They walk around the park that occupies the next block across the street. Even veiled in darkness, the park looks like it could be a good spot for taking photos, and Taehyung makes a mental note to mention it to their photography crew. Jungkook is already a few steps ahead, pointing his camera at the surroundings while complaining that the battery is almost drained and he needs to remember to charge it overnight.

After being used to bigger cities, Helsinki is very quiet. There’s traffic and people, of course, but on such a small scale that it almost feels like they’re alone. Occasionally Taehyung picks up fragments of conversations from people passing by, and the language sounds odd and familiar at the same time. Odd because he doesn’t hear it on a daily basis like he hears English, but more familiar than English because the sounds are closer to Japanese—the vowels and consonants arranged in a way that makes him feel that if he was able to strain his ears just right, he would be able to understand what they’re saying.

Of course, languages don’t work like that, but Taehyung listens to the pieces of conversations he catches anyway, enjoying the ebb and flow of human voices around him.

“I like their language,” Taehyung says to Jungkook. “I feel like there’s something familiar about it, but I don’t know what it is.”

Jungkook pauses to listen. “Yeah, it’s the rhythm. It’s an even beat, ta-ta-ta-ta, you know?” He taps his shoe on the ground. “Like, some languages are strings, and this sounds almost like a drum beat.”

“Kind of like Japanese?” Taehyung offers.

“Yeah, kind of.”

Taehyung hums under his breath. “Do you think singing in Finnish would be similar to singing in Japanese?”

Jungkook grins. “I don’t know, but it would be cool to try sometime.” He then tries to recall the few words of Finnish he learned when they were here before, but soon gives up and focuses on his camera.

As they make their way down the street, Jungkook aims the camera at Taehyung, while Taehyung thinks about languages and what they sound like. French sounds like a calmly played violin sonata, with flowing melodies and notes tied to form a uniform line. English is a waltz-like piano tune, but with unpredictable bits and pieces like jazz. Finnish is kind of like Japanese, with an even drum beat consisting of consonants and vowels coming together to form clusters of syllables. Korean also has a beat, but a distinct one—like a heartbeat, since it’s the language dearest to him.

Their security joins them when a particularly big group of people pass by. “We should start walking back,” Taehyung hears, and he stops Jungkook with a hand on his sleeve, nods at a crosswalk where they can move to the other side of the street and start backtracking toward the hotel.

In the lobby, their manager comes to let them know dinner is in half an hour.

Taehyung looks at Jungkook. “Oh, I promised to wake up Jimin, but I think you’d rather do that, if I venture into Yoongi’s room?”

Jungkook grins. “Oh yeah, for sure.” 

Jimin is always easy to wake up, while with Yoongi there’s a fifty-fifty chance of it being easy. The other fifty percent consists of Yoongi being grumpy and diving deeper under the blankets, possibly some projectiles thrown at the person performing alarm clock duties. Luckily for them, the only projectiles within reach are usually pillows, so Taehyung is not too worried.

To make everything go as smoothly as possible, Taehyung goes to the hotel’s restaurant and asks for an americano. They don’t have takeaway cups, but he manages to decipher from multiple gestures and accented English on both sides, that it’s okay to take the cup upstairs to his room.

Or well, to Yoongi’s room, since no power in the universe could make Taehyung drink the coffee he’s carrying.

One of the staff members lets him in after Taehyung promises to drag Yoongi down for the combined dinner and meeting about their schedule over the next few days. The door closes behind him with a soft click, and Taehyung finds himself facing a room that looks a lot like the other rooms he’s already seen—soft creamy colors accented with dark wood and muted shades of upholstery. 

Taehyung sets the coffee on a nearby table, toes his shoes off and drops his coat on them, followed by his scarf and beanie. “Hyung?”

A mass of blankets on the bed shifts. “Mmm.”

“Yoongi-hyung, you should get up now.” Taehyung grabs the coffee and steps closer to the bed, smiling. “Rise and shine?”

The blanket folds down, and Yoongi blinks up at him from the bed, his eyes just on the vulnerable side of sleepy, the kind of display he doesn’t allow many people to witness. His hair is a mess, strands of it sticking up on the left side of his head.

“I brought you an americano,” Taehyung says, raising the mug. “We’re having dinner in a cabinet downstairs in half an hour.”

“Nnghh.” Yoongi scrunches his nose, looks up at the ceiling, then glances at Taehyung. “Thanks.” His expression is mostly tired, but something else lingers in the set of his jaw and the way his eyes trace the ceiling.

Despite his amazing ability to write angry and sad and wistful and happy lyrics, Yoongi is pretty bad at expressing himself verbally when it comes to the emotions he keeps close to his heart. Taehyung has learned, over the years, to read Yoongi’s minuscule shifts of expression, to decipher small gestures, and he knows without a shadow of a doubt that right now Yoongi needs to be hugged. Yoongi would never say it out loud, but to Taehyung he’s broadcasting his request louder than words.

Taehyung sets the porcelain mug on the nightstand and crawls across the bed, curling up against Yoongi’s side on top of the blanket, his cheek against Yoongi’s shirt-covered shoulder and one arm hoisted over what he assumes is Yoongi’s stomach.

Yoongi squirms, resisting. “What are you doing?” He sounds more alert now, like he’s trying to shake the lingering edges of sleep.

“Hugging you,” Taehyung informs him. “Duh.” He looks up and finds Yoongi staring at him. He looks more awake but no less vulnerable. Taehyung sighs and burrows closer, breathing in the scent of fresh hotel sheets and Yoongi’s laundry detergent.

Yoongi makes tiny noises like he’s being tortured, but he doesn’t struggle to get up, which to Taehyung is a dead giveaway that his gut instinct was right. After a few seconds Yoongi stops squirming and settles, and Taehyung momentarily tightens his arm around Yoongi, squeezes. Yoongi lets out a disgruntled mmphh, but other than that he doesn’t acknowledge Taehyung draped all over him.

Taehyung stares at the folds of the blanket spreading across his field of vision. “Hyung, does rapping in different languages feel different to you? Like, Korean and Japanese, and English?”

“I don’t really rap in English,” Yoongi says, like Taehyung doesn’t know every song he’s ever rapped in. “But yeah, of course. The words flow differently.” He sighs, and the airflow flutters Taehyung’s hair. “Why?”

“It’s just a thought that came to me when me and JK went out for a walk.” Taehyung watches the even rise and fall of Yoongi’s chest while he recounts his thoughts on languages being like different music styles, with different instruments and rhythm and tempo. Someone else might think it silly, but Yoongi falls quiet in that way he does when he’s listening and paying attention. People sometimes have a hard time following Taehyung’s train of thought—either his thought process is weird or then he can’t explain it right—but Yoongi never makes him feel like he should get his story over with as soon as possible.

By the end of Taehyung’s musings, Yoongi’s arm has snuck up from beneath the blanket between them, snaked its way under Taehyung’s neck and his hand is now halfway down Taehyung’s back, hugging him closer and rubbing soothing circles on the fabric of his shirt. Taehyung’s face is half-buried in Yoongi’s neck, the slight stubble of Yoongi’s jawline prickly against his face.

“I like that,” Yoongi says in a voice that’s almost a whisper. “Your own language being the heartbeat, the core of the melody, and the rest of the languages creating like an orchestral harmony on top of that.”

“Mm. It’s like, the more languages you know, the more complex of a musical piece you can create.”

Yoongi makes a small agreeing noise, his arm tightening around Taehyung, encouraging him to press closer. 

It’s a subtle shift here, a slight move there, but little by little their limbs end up tangled like they’re assuming positions they’ve learned long ago but haven’t executed in a while. Taehyung worms his hand under the blanket and slides it down Yoongi’s side, fingers playing idly with Yoongi’s shirt where it’s bunched up over his hip. He twists and turns until his face is resting in the juncture where Yoongi’s neck meets his shoulder, breathing in his skin while Yoongi’s fluttery exhales fall on his hair. 

“We should get ready for dinner,” Taehyung says after a momentary silence, during which he counts how often they breathe in sync.

“Do we have to?” It seems like now that Yoongi has settled in the headspace of cuddles, he’s reluctant to let go.

“Yeah, we have a meeting, we’re discussing the final details and schedule of the photoshoot.” Taehyung nuzzles Yoongi’s neck, then pulls back to look Yoongi in the eye. “And besides, your coffee’s getting cold.” He points over his shoulder in the direction of the nightstand.

“I like it more iced anyway.” Yoongi smiles, a half-smile that’s soft and warm.

Taehyung raises one eyebrow. “There are a few degrees between lukewarm and iced, you know.”

The half-smile turns into a snort. “I’m aware.”

Taehyung looks at him, taking in the smile and the way Yoongi seems more relaxed, then asks, cautiously, “Do you feel better now, hyung?”

Yoongi gives him a look that’s sharp, but not in a way that would mean Taehyung was wrong about him not feeling good earlier. No, the sharpness seems to be aimed at Taehyung’s ability to read things in Yoongi’s demeanor that others aren’t able to.

“Yeah,” Yoongi says after a brief pause. “Yeah, I feel better. Let’s go get that dinner and find out if we’re going to stand outside in the pouring rain all day tomorrow.” He detaches from Taehyung with deliberately slow movements, moving to the other side of the bed and peeling the blanket off himself. He sits up and stretches on the edge of the bed, his back turned to Taehyung. 

The bed feels cold and empty without Yoongi’s warmth against him. Taehyung turns onto his back, blinks at the ceiling and then sits up, rolling his shoulders. Behind him, Yoongi gets up and pads around the bed, stops right next to Taehyung to take a sip from the coffee mug. He grimaces, but takes another sip anyway, sighing as he lowers the mug back on the nightstand and continues into the bathroom.

Why someone would willingly subject themselves to black coffee like that, Taehyung will never understand—especially since at times Yoongi seems to balance on the edge like he’s unsure if he hates coffee or loves it. Perhaps he’s just addicted to caffeine. Taehyung considers switching Yoongi’s coffee to decaf, for science, but then decides he values his life too much to even attempt it.

Taehyung looks around and listens to the tap running in the bathroom. Yoongi’s suitcase is by the door, his coat neatly arranged around a coat hanger. Taehyung’s eyes land on his own coat, lying in a heap on the floor. He should probably go take it to his own room, and maybe brush his hair after burying his head in Yoongi’s neck for several minutes, but he doesn’t want to leave, because he feels like he’d also leave behind the cuddles that just happened. Like giving away a small portion of his life force.

Cuddling with Yoongi is a thing that happens every now and then. Sometimes it escalates to sleeping in the same bed with Yoongi, while cuddling. Cuddling in on its own is nothing out of the ordinary, because Taehyung is pretty touchy-feely with people. He drapes himself around Jimin all the time, and he’s lost count how many times he’s fallen asleep in Jimin’s bed, using him as a personal cuddle pillow.

It’s different, though, when it’s Jimin. With Jimin, Taehyung never feels a sense of apprehension when they separate come morning and go get ready, because he knows that he can always go back, and Jimin will always be there.

With Yoongi, he dreads the separation, because he isn’t sure. He isn’t sure if pulling back from Yoongi’s side is going to be the last time, isn’t sure if he’s allowed this type of closeness ever again. Not that Yoongi would push him away, but there is a certain mindset that needs to exist between them for this to happen, and at times it feels like such a fickle thing, a spiderweb-thin connection that could be shattered by a light touch if it happened at the wrong moment.

The bathroom door opens, and Taehyung’s head snaps up. 

Yoongi’s hair is smoothed down, a few strands damp, and he’s wearing a mask under his chin like he usually does when he’s been too lazy to shave but doesn’t want the whole world to bear witness to his negligence. He circles to the nightstand and gulps down a big mouthful of coffee, turning to Taehyung with the mug in his hand. “You ready?”

“Yeah.” Taehyung quickly goes to check his reflection in the mirror on the wall. He picks up his coat and the rest of his outer garments and leaves them hanging off the hook by the door, because he doesn’t want to drag everything with him. Yoongi glances at the collection of clothing but doesn’t say anything, even if it could possibly—maybe, hopefully—be interpreted as Taehyung inviting himself over after dinner, if for nothing else, then to at least fetch his stuff.

At the door, Yoongi’s fingers curl around Taehyung’s wrist, like a silent thank-you for coming over and bringing coffee. The loose grasp holds until they step into the elevator and start their descent.

At dinner, Yoongi sits across from Taehyung at the long table in the cabinet. Taehyung reaches over to feed him a few pieces of his portion, and Yoongi makes faces but obediently opens his mouth whenever Taehyung’s fork hovers closer. Namjoon and the managers are talking about the agenda, trying to fit the rest of the shooting schedule around the pre-arranged trip to a ski center that’s nearby.

“There’s snow there,” Namjoon says to Jimin, who grins around his mouthful of dessert.

“It’s probably artificial snow,” Yoongi says. “Like, made with snow cannons. It’s too warm for real snow.”

“Fake snow.” Jimin pouts. “I guess it’ll have to do.”

“Fake snow,” Jungkook repeats in English, grinning, and no one is surprised when he and Seokjin glance at each other and immediately bust out singing, I’m so sorry but it’s fake snow, fake snow, fake snow

“Idiots.” Jimin laughs and slaps Jungkook in the arm, while beside Seokjin, Hoseok groans and buries his face in his hands, muttering that according to his internal clock it’s either too early or too late for this.

Taehyung smiles, and across the table, Yoongi smiles back at him.

Later, when they file out of the elevators on the floor where their rooms are, Taehyung stops to hesitate. “Yoongi-hyung,” he says. “My coat—it’s still in your room.”

Yoongi stops and turns to look at him over his shoulder, makes a barely-there nod toward his door. “Mm. C’mon.”

Goodnights are called from all around the hallway, and then the door closes and Taehyung stands in Yoongi’s room. Tiredness is getting to him, settling heavy in his limbs, his thoughts a bit fuzzy around the edges. He reaches to grab his coat, but Yoongi’s hand on his wrist—always on his wrist when Yoongi wants his attention—stops the movement in mid-execution. 

“There’s an extra toothbrush in the bathroom,” Yoongi says, and his eyes bear that unguarded look again, the one he has when he needs something but doesn’t know how to ask, so he says it in a roundabout way. Instead of do you want to stay?, he says there’s an extra toothbrush, the request hiding in a statement because statements are easier. Safer. Requests leave one open for rejection, but statements can be shrugged off, no big deal.

“Okay,” Taehyung breathes. “Okay.”

They strip down to boxers and t-shirts, then stand side by side in front of the dark marble counter in the bathroom, brushing their teeth. The disposable hotel toothbrush is awfully harsh, but meeting Yoongi’s eyes in the mirror makes the pain inflicted on Taehyung’s gums worthwhile.

They slip under the blankets, rearrange the pillows, set their alarms and then Yoongi flicks the lights off. Darkness claims the room, and Taehyung can’t see anything, but he hears Yoongi breathing, feels the dip of the mattress when he moves, shifts closer until their arms touch. Taehyung turns to his side, facing Yoongi, arm slipping around Yoongi’s waist easily, so familiar even in the dark. They fall into a comfortable silence, and as Taehyung’s eyes adjust, he’s able to decipher Yoongi’s form beside him—the black of his t-shirt against white sheets, the honey of his hair against the pillowcase. 

Taehyung pulls his hand free from the blankets and reaches to comb his fingers through Yoongi’s hair, the strands soft, if a bit dry from hair dye. Yoongi turns, snuggles closer, wiggles himself into Taehyung’s arms so he ends up with his head under Taehyung’s chin.

Taehyung has nothing against this turn of events. He needs something to hug when he sleeps. If there’s no one around, a pillow will suffice, but it’s absolutely one hundred percent better to have this—a warm, solid body against his, like a tether he can cling to so his dreams don’t carry him too far away.

He falls asleep to the sound of rain pattering against the window, with Yoongi’s arm around him, Yoongi’s breaths against his collarbone.



-



Taehyung wakes up in the morning to Yoongi’s hand on his shoulder, shaking him gently. He blinks, groggy, and turns to his back, blinking at the ceiling while he waits for his sleep-heavy brain to come online.

Yoongi is already dressed and clean-shaven, a toothbrush sticking out of his mouth, and as soon as he determines Taehyung is not going to fall back to sleep, he pads to the bathroom to spit toothpaste in the sink. Taehyung listens to him moving around, getting ready, and it’s such a familiar feeling to have someone around when he wakes up. Ever since they’ve been able to afford it, they’ve each gotten their own room, but Taehyung kind of misses the days when they had to share out of necessity. Waking up and getting ready alone doesn’t have the same feel to it.

“Are you getting up?” Yoongi appears in the bathroom doorway. “We need to be ready in twenty.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Taehyung sits up and runs his fingers through his hair, yawning. It’s still dark outside, and Taehyung is starting to wonder if it’s ever going to get brighter at all. 

He gets dressed and pads to his own room, barefoot with his shoes hanging off his fingers, then tries to shave without getting any nicks because that would make the makeup artist’s job more difficult. Today’s photoshoot is going to split them up in separate locations, he’s going with Jungkook and Namjoon for the morning shoot and they’ll reconvene after lunch to take a ferry to an island off the coast.

It’s raining all morning, this annoying misty rain that’s not really rain as much as it just seems like the air has turned to liquid, and Taehyung feels like he should start developing gills to survive the environment. The humidity is disastrous to his hairstyle so they keep fixing it, and by the end of the morning there’s so much hairspray in his hair that it feels like a helmet on his head.

Changing into dry clothes for lunch is such a relief, but his hair turns into an actual sticky helmet from the products that no amount of brushing helps, so the stylists have to wash and style it all over again. 

They all get touch-ups for the afternoon shoot, as well as new clothes.

Taehyung glances up when Yoongi comes out of the room where the stylists have set camp. He means to look down at his phone again, but suddenly finds he can’t look away. Yoongi’s hair is slightly wavy, falling down his forehead in messy strands, and the coat he’s pulling on is matching his hair perfectly—the same brownish tone, but just a shade warmer, more saturated.

Yoongi’s eyes lock with his. “What?”

Taehyung whistles quietly. “Wow, hyung. You look great.”

Yoongi ducks his head and scratches the back of his neck like he always does when someone catches him off-guard with a compliment.

“Yeah, well, so do you.” His eyes are back on Taehyung, sharp and piercing, contrasted with the shy smile on his lips. Then Yoongi looks away, still smiling, and sits down in a chair to wait with the rest of them.

Taehyung’s eyes linger on Yoongi where he’s bent over his phone, scrolling idly. By now every detail of his features and every line of his body is etched into Taehyung’s memory, as is to be expected after them occupying the same spaces almost every day for several years. Still, he keeps finding new angles, new details to fixate on. Right now it’s how the longer hair at the crown of Yoongi’s head contrasts with the undercut at the back, how the undercut forms a neat rounded v-shape right at the nape of his neck. For a moment, Taehyung imagines what it would be like to hug Yoongi from behind like he often does, and press his nose into the soft hairs of the undercut. He then shakes his head, as if he could banish the thought like an irritating mosquito. He doesn’t recall how long he’s been aware of his thoughts going in this direction, but it’s been like that for a while now.

If Taehyung had to define what Yoongi is to him, he’d say without hesitation that Yoongi is his friend, one of the six closest friends he has on this planet. But as years have gone by, the term seems to incrementally lack something. There’s a shade of something in his friendship with Yoongi that’s different from the bond he shares with Jimin, or Jungkook, or the rest of the members. 

The difference is clear in the way he feels when he snuggles close to Yoongi during the nights when they share a bed, and in the way they sometimes lock eyes across the room and Taehyung feels breathless afterwards, and in the way Yoongi seems to fight off Taehyung’s attempts to hug him in public but always caves after a few seconds. He doesn’t do that with the other members, and as far as Taehyung knows, no one else shares Yoongi’s bed. Well, that might just be attributed to the fact that Taehyung is a slut for cuddles, but still. It feels more special like that, the hesitant way Yoongi allows him in and lets him witness things he’s pretty sure no one else gets to see.

So, if Taehyung had to define what Yoongi is to him, he’d say Yoongi is a friend, but he’s also something more that Taehyung doesn’t have a name for. Yoongi is a glowing lantern in the darkness, something Taehyung always wants to navigate toward.

Namjoon comes out of the stylists’ room and claps his hands together. “Alright, Hobi-hyung is the last one in, and once he’s ready we’re leaving immediately, so gather your stuff. It’s just a few blocks to the harbor where the ferry takes off, so we’re walking. Get your umbrellas ready.”

Not that umbrellas are doing much good, because the mist still hangs low in the air and makes everything wet and miserable like a malevolent spirit that likes to chill people to the bone with its damp touch.

Yoongi trails behind Taehyung, looking miserable in the rain. Taehyung turns, walks a few steps backwards and smiles at Yoongi, twirling his umbrella in his hand. 

“Watch your step,” Yoongi says, glancing down at the uneven paving. “It would suck if you fell and cracked your head open.”

Taehyung turns and continues walking in a more normal manner, falling in pace with Yoongi. “Aww. Are you worried about me, hyung?”

Yoongi deadpans at him. “No, it’s just that funerals are such a hassle and then we’d have to relearn all our choreographies with just six members, you know.”

Taehyung feigns a shocked, pouty expression. “Those are the only reasons why I shouldn’t crack my head open?”

Yoongi purses his lips like he’s thinking about it. “Oh, oh—and who would sing your parts during live performances? Like I know Namjoon could probably go as low as you, but.” He gestures at Namjoon, walking briskly several meters ahead. “Namjoon and, you know, singing. Also your high notes.” He makes a face that conveys several layers of despair.

Taehyung bursts out laughing. “I see.”

“Like don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he could do it with adequate practice, but the point still stands that you shouldn’t crack your head open.” Yoongi side-steps, just a small shift closer to Taehyung, and his gloved hand falls on Taehyung’s arm as their umbrellas collide overhead. “Also, I’d miss you, I guess.” The words are still playful but less so. 

“You guess?” Taehyung says, pouting.

“Yeah. I guess.” Yoongi’s hand squeezes Taehyung’s arm through the sleeve of his coat, and he smiles—a brief flash of teeth, and then he’s gone, hand falling to his side and moving away so their umbrellas don’t crash together on every step.

Taehyung watches Yoongi’s photoshoot from a distance while they’re setting up reflectors for his own shoot. Yoongi looks delicate, standing there at the water’s edge buried in his coat, hair in his eyes and lips cracked open. He brings a hand to his mouth to cough, and somehow he manages to make even a gesture as mundane as that look good. 

“He looks like he belongs in a small cottage by the sea,” Seokjin says, appearing beside Taehyung. “You know, one of those red-painted tiny houses, with a chimney on top and like, fishing nets hanging on the wall by the front door.”

Taehyung smiles. “Yeah.” Yoongi would probably be happy living in a tiny cottage by the sea, provided that his cottage had a speedy wi-fi connection and room for his music equipment. 

Seokjin nods sagely. “It would be awesome right until he realized he hates water.”

Taehyung laughs. “No, but he only hates it if he has to go in the water.”

“Right. Like a cat.” Seokjin grins, then wanders off when they call him to continue posing. Taehyung watches him pull poses and expressions, and as always, Seokjin looks like a supermodel. He’s very attractive, in the traditional sense of the word, but watching him does nothing to Taehyung—or nothing even close to the odd fluttery sensation that takes over his insides when he watches Yoongi.

Taehyung turns toward the water and catches Yoongi looking at him across the meadowy patch of grass between them. Yoongi licks his lips, smiles, and the fluttery sensation comes crashing down on Taehyung once again. Somewhere deep in his core Taehyung knows, has known for a while now, that to him watching Yoongi is definitely very different from watching Seokjin or anyone else.

Later that night, they get ingredients to make snow globes in glass jars in one of the hotel suites. The activity includes a lot of failures and laughing, but most of Taehyung’s focus is on Yoongi, sitting next to him, and the way his leg presses against Taehyung’s every now and then—at times very still, at times bouncing like he’s nervous or excited or both. They end up fighting over the last remaining tiny prop house to glue on their jar lid, and it’s playful banter but Hoseok calls them out nonetheless and tells them to can it and hold hands.

As Yoongi’s fingers entwine with his, sticky with the craft materials they’ve been using, Taehyung wonders if one of them sparked the play-pretend argument just for the sake of this. He doesn’t dare to look at Yoongi before everyone’s attention is somewhere else. Then he risks a glance at their hands clasped on the tabletop, moves his gaze up until he meets Yoongi’s eyes. They’re warm and soft, and Yoongi gives Taehyung’s fingers one final squeeze before letting go and going back to gluing the house on his jar lid.

“Hey, who said you could take the house?” Taehyung mutters, elbowing Yoongi’s side lightly.

“I did.” Yoongi’s smile is smug.

“Not fair.”

From across the table, Jimin slides his remaining prop house to Taehyung, and it’s almost disappointing because it takes away his excuse to bicker with Yoongi. It’s seeking attention, all of it, but Taehyung can’t help it. Maybe he doesn’t want to help it, because Yoongi looks at him from the corner of his eye and smiles like they’re sharing a secret, like they’re both in on this and it’s not just in Taehyung’s head.

When they file down the corridor to their rooms, Yoongi’s fingers curl around Taehyung’s wrist to stop him two steps away from his door. He looks up at Taehyung, a wordless question on his face, and Taehyung nods, follows Yoongi to his room where the bed is made and bears no evidence of the previous time they slept in it.

The toothbrush is no better than it was the night before, but going to get his own toothbrush seems like too much of a hassle. Taehyung watches himself in the mirror as he mechanically goes through the movements of brushing his teeth and stripping down to his boxers and t-shirt for sleeping.

Yoongi is already in bed, propped against the pillows and browsing something on his phone, but his eyes follow Taehyung as he moves across the room to his coat. Taehyung finds his phone in the coat pocket, sets an alarm and comes over to drop the device on the nightstand. Diving beneath the blanket and making his way across the mattress to Yoongi feels familiar after already spending the previous night in the same bed.

Taehyung’s arm slides over Yoongi’s body, fingers coming to rest on his bare arm. Yoongi jolts at the touch but doesn’t look up from his screen, and Taehyung’s hand pauses somewhere near Yoongi’s bicep.

Taehyung realizes that even after knowing Yoongi for so many years, he doesn’t really know what Yoongi’s skin feels like, beyond Yoongi’s hands and arms and like, a tiny slice of his neck. He finds himself wondering what it would be like to let his fingers skate down Yoongi’s sternum, over his stomach, his thighs—or his face, his lips. It’s a dizzying thought, one he hasn’t really pictured in detail before, but it hits him now and makes his insides feel like he’s a snow globe and someone just turned him upside down and shook him to get the snow particles mixed in the water.

“Goodnight,” Taehyung whispers, fingers moving away from Yoongi’s arm and settling against his side, tangling in the fabric of his t-shirt.

“Night.” Yoongi sets his phone on the nightstand and reaches to switch off the light. Under the veil of darkness, Yoongi twists under Taehyung’s hand, turns to his side so they’re facing each other, a pair of parentheses on the bed, encasing the narrow space between their bodies.

Their faces are close to each other, only a small gap between their pillows separating them. Taehyung’s foot grazes Yoongi’s ankle beneath the covers, and Yoongi shifts his foot away at first but then moves it back, a soft brush of skin on skin. Taehyung cautiously slides his hand up and down Yoongi’s side, a soothing movement of his palm along Yoongi’s rib cage, feeling the expanse of Yoongi’s breaths beneath his fingers. 

When Taehyung’s eyes adjust to the darkness, he watches Yoongi, across the gap between the pillows like it’s a kilometer-wide canyon. Yoongi’s eyes are open, returning Taehyung’s gaze, his breaths falling slower like he’s doing one of those forced-relaxation breathing exercises. The only light in the room comes from the window, the streetlights below drawing a slice of light across the ceiling. In the hazy ambience, the features of Yoongi’s face look softer, smoother, more vulnerable.

Before his brain can catch on and has a chance to abort mission, Taehyung extends his hand up from Yoongi’s side and brushes his fingertips over Yoongi’s cheekbone, feather-light, while he holds eye contact.

Yoongi’s eyes widen and they both freeze for a second, not a breath escaping between them.

“Sorry,” Taehyung whispers shakily, pulling his hand back. “I didn’t mean to—”

Yoongi grabs Taehyung’s retreating hand by the wrist and brings it back to his face, setting it against his cheek in a manner that’s several degrees rougher than Taehyung’s original attempt. Yoongi’s hand remains where it is, covering Taehyung’s hand with his own, until Taehyung moves his fingers tentatively. Yoongi’s hand then moves to Taehyung’s wrist, settling there with a loose grasp around the bony part. Taehyung barely breathes as he slides his fingers over the skin of Yoongi’s face, tracing across the cheekbone, down along his jawline, under his chin and then up, over his lips.

Yoongi lets out a small noise that almost sounds like a gasp that got stuck in his throat. Taehyung stops, his thumb pressing gently into Yoongi’s lower lip that’s trembling ever-so-slightly under his touch. Yoongi’s breath is warm against the pad of Taehyung’s thumb, damp warmth that makes the tumultuous snow globe sensation reappear.

Taehyung waits a second, then another, and a third one for good measure, then slides his thumb to the corner of Yoongi’s mouth, the rest of his fingers slipping under Yoongi’s chin. Yoongi’s eyes are impossibly wide, his breaths escaping in tiny rapid bursts, and then his eyelashes flutter, eyes closing when Taehyung leans in across the gap between the pillows.

He waits barely a centimeter away, feels the flicker of a sharp exhale against his mouth, and then closes the distance. Yoongi’s mouth is cracked open, and during the brief connection between their lips, Taehyung gets a taste of toothpaste and another hitched breath pulsing out of Yoongi, like the tiniest gasp for Taehyung to drink in.

Yoongi’s mouth remains ajar when Taehyung pulls back, his eyes blinking as Taehyung returns to his side of the pillow-canyon.

Taehyung feels breathless, like air has been punched out of him, and his ears are ringing from blood rushing through his veins like it’s trying to bring the message to the farthest reaches of Taehyung’s body, until the tiniest cells at the tips of his fingers and toes are tingling with the notice of the occurrence. 

The occurrence being that he kissed Yoongi. Taehyung’s head spins with the thought. He kissed Yoongi, on the mouth, and Yoongi let himself be kissed, on the mouth, and Taehyung doesn’t know where the hell he is supposed to go from here.

“I don’t know if I should apologize for that or not,” Taehyung eventually whispers.

Yoongi exhales a small breathy laugh, then swallows, eyes flitting to the ceiling. “Do you regret it?”

“No.”

Yoongi’s eyes focus on Taehyung again, unwavering. “Then you don’t need to apologize.”

Which, in Yoongi’s roundabout way of saying things, means that he welcomed Taehyung’s mouth on his, or at the very least he didn’t mind it.

Taehyung’s gaze flits between Yoongi’s eyes, wide open in the dim light, and his mouth, slightly cracked as he breathes a bit unsteadily. “Okay,” he whispers. “Then I won’t apologize.”

Taehyung’s hand now rests between their bodies on the bed, and Yoongi’s fingers hold his wrist, his index finger caressing the back of Taehyung’s hand in small, gentle motions.

They stare at each other, for an eternity across the canyon separating them, and Taehyung feels a sense of serenity, a quietness within that almost feels like some form of celestial alignment.

“Goodnight,” Taehyung whispers, even though he already said goodnight.

“Night,” Yoongi whispers back, like he did before, like nothing has changed even though everything is different.

The last thing Taehyung sees before falling asleep are Yoongi’s eyes watching him, unguarded and soft.



-



The afternoon they spend at the ski center is heaps of fun.

They seem to unanimously decide that the first order of business upon arrival is to push Jimin into a pile of snow and proceed to pile more snow on top of him. Jimin screams and laughs and sputters, until eventually Seokjin digs him out, singing to him about fake snow while Jimin calls them all assholes with the biggest smile plastered across his face.

“We would have pushed JK into the pile of snow but he actually has a chance of coming out on top even against all six of us, so sacrifices had to be made,” Seokjin explains gravely. 

Jimin looks sour and Jungkook laughs so hard he has to sit down on the ground.

They have pictures and videos taken in the midst of what seems to be a continuing game of each of them trying to sneakily shove snow under everyone else’s collar every chance they get, and really, it’s just a whole chaotic warzone. At one point Taehyung chases Yoongi around the slope with a snowball in his hand while Yoongi screams about targeted harassment and human rights.

“I’m pretty sure there’s nothing about snowballs on the list of human rights,” Namjoon calls after them, and Yoongi lets out a banshee screech that makes Taehyung cackle.

Eventually, Taehyung catches up to Yoongi, but when he gets within reach Yoongi turns and trips them both to the ground with a swift flip that serves as a slightly painful reminder that Yoongi once practiced taekwondo. They roll downhill a few meters, ending up in a snow-covered tangle of limbs, Yoongi half on top of Taehyung. Taehyung still has at least half a snowball’s worth of snow in his hand, but instead of smacking it in Yoongi’s face he lets his arm fall to the side, breathing heavily and grinning.

His grin fades as he looks up and sees the way Yoongi watches him. For a second, the world freezes, both of them just staring, and then Yoongi’s eyes flick from Taehyung’s eyes to his mouth and back again, and Taehyung can tell they’re thinking about the same thing. Then Yoongi blinks a few times, dumps a handful of snow on Taehyung’s cheek and clambers off, trotting down the slope while Taehyung sits up, wiping his face, and shouts that he will get his revenge sooner or later. His voice sounds breathless and weak, and Yoongi turns to grin at him.

Taehyung sits in the snow for a long moment, until Jimin comes to ask if he’s okay and extends a hand to pull him up. Taehyung dusts snow off his clothes and follows Jimin down, but his eyes follow the red-sleeved FILA coat where Yoongi is making his way down ahead of them.

Now that the moment is over, Taehyung wonders what it would have been like, to kiss Yoongi while they’re both covered in snow and lying breathless on the ground, with Yoongi’s knee pressing into his thigh and Yoongi’s hands planted on each side of his torso. A shiver runs through Taehyung’s body, and Jimin immediately looks worried and asks if he’s cold. Taehyung shakes his head, says he’s just got snow melting somewhere under his coat. It’s not true, but the sensation is close enough—like cold water running down his back, at the thought of kissing Yoongi in the snowbank, out of breath from chasing each other around. 

When they woke up in the morning, Taehyung expected things to be awkward or different, but instead they just got dressed as usual and went to get breakfast. There were a few moments when they brushed past each other in the room, too close to be accidental or casual, and when they got downstairs Taehyung saw Yoongi glancing at him a few times across the breakfast table like he was going to say something, but then the rest of the members showed up and the moment for words passed. For a brief second Taehyung was sure that everyone would look at him and just instantly know what happened, like he was a sims character with a sign above his head that said ‘I kissed Min Yoongi’. If they saw him broadcasting the thought, no one said it out loud, even though Jimin gave him one or two strange looks over breakfast.

The strange looks are back now, as Jimin links his arm with Taehyung's. “Is everything okay? You’ve been acting kind of strange today.”

Jimin would notice, of course he would. Taehyung is pretty good at acting, but it’s no use against Jimin’s supernatural sense of being able to tell when Taehyung is quiet for no reason versus when he’s quiet because something happened.

Taehyung’s eyes follow Yoongi’s beanie bouncing where he’s walking down the slope, hair curled so it sticks out a bit around his ears.

“I don’t know,” Taehyung says slowly. “I mean, yeah, everything is okay, at least I think it is, but there’s something and I—uh, I’m not sure I can talk about it yet.”

Jimin’s linked arm tightens around Taehyung’s elbow. “Whenever you’re ready. You know where to find me.”

“You’re the best,” Taehyung says sincerely.

Well, he’s sincere right up to the point where Jimin suddenly lets go of him, crouches to get a handful of snow and then throws it in his direction. Taehyung ducks and turns, so the snow only catches his shoulder.

Taehyung turns to see Jimin grinning widely. “Oh, it’s on now, Park Jimin.”

Jimin laughs and screams as he runs down the hill, with Taehyung chasing after him, arms full of snow he fully intends to shove down the neckline of Jimin’s coat. They end up breathless at the bottom of the hill, where Hoseok stops them to let them know there’s hot chocolate and snacks waiting for them in the café beside the slopes. Then it becomes a race to hot chocolate, with Jungkook and Seokjin joining them.

Taehyung sits snuggled in an armchair inside the café, warming his fingers around a mug of hot chocolate, when Yoongi walks in with Namjoon and Hoseok, who was apparently sent as a messenger to bring them all inside.

Yoongi’s eyes flash in Taehyung’s direction, a brief but deliberate once-over, and Taehyung swallows, hiding his face behind the mug.

“Your ears just went all red,” Jungkook says from the armchair next to his, then punctuates his statement by poking at Taehyung’s ear with his finger.

Taehyung whines and pulls away from the touch, and he can feel Jimin’s eyes on him across the circle of armchairs. If Jimin hasn’t already figured out that whatever Taehyung is going through has something to do with Yoongi, he probably will pretty soon.

“It’s just the change in temperature,” Taehyung says nonchalantly, reaching for a cookie.

Jungkook lets it go, but Jimin tilts his head to the side with an expression that says he’s going to call Taehyung out on his bullshit as soon as they’re alone.

Before they leave the ski center, they get snow racers and sleds to go down the slope. Even after several takes for promo videos, they don’t have a single one where all of them actually get to the bottom. On the first try, both Yoongi and Taehyung fall off their sleds and sit baffled in the snow while their sleds continue on without them, on the next round Namjoon slides off into the bushes and they have to go drag him out, and on the third try Hoseok on his inflatable snow glider drifts off to the side and finds himself in a puddle of water that’s formed downhill. The rest of them howl with laughter as Hoseok pouts while he’s being pulled out of the icy water.

They’re all tired after the day, so the ride back on the minibus is pretty quiet. Taehyung sits by the window and watches the scenery pass by—or what he can see of it, anyway, because it’s once again dark, the landscape painted in shades of dark gray and black. Every now and then his gaze skips over to where Yoongi is sitting a few seats away, head lolling to the side as he naps, headphones in his ears. Taehyung would like to pinch one of his earbuds, to listen what Yoongi is listening. He’s done it a few times, and at first Yoongi got all grumbly and whiny about it, but he’s since come to accept it as a fact of life that at times, Taehyung snatches one of his headphones and plugs it in his own ear.

Yoongi’s taste in music is vast and varied, so each time Taehyung puts in one of Yoongi’s earbuds it feels like a surprise for his auditory cortex. There’s a lot of rap, of course, but also a lot of classical, and a bit of rock, occasionally some jazzy tunes. Once it was Mongolian folk rock, and another time they listened to something with a didgeridoo in the background. Listening in on Yoongi’s playlist is always an adventure.

Yoongi sits too far away for Taehyung to grab a headphone without attracting attention, so he settles for watching Yoongi instead. Yoongi’s hair was curled but by now most of the curls have fallen flat from being exposed to the elements. His beanie is askew, and he’s wearing those small hoop earrings he almost always wears these days. His mouth is open, relaxed, lips in a slight pout as he sleeps. Taehyung’s chest feels tight.

Taehyung’s phone dings in his hand, and he startles like something bit him. His eyes focus on the screen, where his conversation with Jimin pops up.

JM: so what’s going on?

Taehyung’s eyes snap up to where Jimin is staring at him across the minibus. Jimin raises his eyebrows, widens his eyes and tilts his head toward Yoongi without breaking eye contact.

Taehyung can’t meet Jimin’s gaze for more than a few seconds, because it feels like his ears are burning red again, so he looks down at his phone screen, starts tapping a reply. It’s slow going, because he has no idea how to express himself right now. Eventually he manages to type a short reply that explains exactly nothing.

TH: I slept over in Yoongi’s room last night

JM: okay, and??

TH: and I kissed him

JM: you WHAT

Taehyung risks a glance up. Jimin looks like his eyes might pop out of his head when he meets Taehyung’s gaze across the seats.

JM: you’re serious? tell me, what happened

TH: can we talk about this later, because I don’t have any idea what’s going on either

It’s a lie and also not a lie. Taehyung could easily explain a novel’s worth of what has been going on with Yoongi, from their disagreements in the beginning when they didn’t understand each other’s way of communicating, to those moments when Yoongi first held his hand or hugged him, to them getting closer and beginning to understand each other—all the way to the comfortable bond that now exists between them.

Well, comfortable might either be exaggerating or belittling what they have, because it’s so multi-layered, at least in Taehyung’s mind.

What has also been going on is that Taehyung has looked at Yoongi for some time now, and felt a lurching sensation in his stomach, like the adrenaline hit at the beginning of a bungee jump, at that exact moment when the ground suddenly disappears from beneath his feet.

So that’s what has been going on, and all of that Taehyung could easily explain.

As for what is going on right now, after the moment when Taehyung’s lips found Yoongi’s in the darkness of Yoongi’s hotel room, well. Taehyung has no idea.

They’re not ignoring that it happened, and Taehyung has concluded from the looks Yoongi has thrown his way throughout the day that he’s thinking about it. It doesn’t seem that Yoongi finds what happened disgusting or awful. Taehyung may imagine a lot of things but he’s pretty sure he didn’t imagine the way Yoongi’s gaze focused on his lips when they were fighting playfully in the snow. 

So there was a kiss, and neither of them seemed to hate it. They just haven’t talked about it, and what it means, and what’s going to happen next. So Taehyung can’t really answer to Jimin on that front, because he himself hasn’t got the slightest clue.

Taehyung’s phone dings.

JM: when we get to the hotel, I’ll hold you to it

They get dinner at a restaurant a few blocks from the hotel, and like the time they spent at the ski center, it’s fun, but Taehyung feels like butterflies are multiplying and taking over his insides the closer they get to going back to the hotel for the night.

He’s nervous, because for the first time in a long time, he can’t read Yoongi’s expression at all, and it’s so disconcerting. It feels like someone blurred out his ability to understand Yoongi, so by the time they’re back at the hotel he’s so wired up he’s ready to bounce off the walls.

Jimin notices and drags Taehyung to his room. 

“We’re doing face masks and you’re going to calm down,” Jimin tells him.

Taehyung doesn’t even bother to try to claim that he is calm—it’s clear to anyone around him that he’s anything but calm right now.

“Alright, so you and Yoongi,” Jimin says when they’ve both washed their faces and are lounging on Jimin’s bed with moisturizing face masks on.

Taehyung sighs and rolls onto his back, stretching his arms above his head. “I’ve slept in his bed both nights we’ve been here. And we kissed.” He pauses. “Well, I kissed him.”

Jimin’s eyebrows rise beneath his mask. “Like on the mouth?”

“Yeah.”

“With tongue?”

“No, it was just—” Taehyung makes a vague gesture toward the ceiling. “Just lips on lips, for like two seconds.”

“Ah. Yeah, okay.” Jimin nods. “And you have a crush on him.” The way he says it, bluntly and with no questioning inflection, makes it clear he’s not asking . He’s stating a fact.

“I guess,” Taehyung mutters.

Jimin gives him a look.

“Fine, okay, yeah,” Taehyung says. “What about it?” He’s had a lot of crushes on a lot of different people over the years.

Jimin smiles, a quick flash of teeth that distorts the mask on his face for a second. “No, it’s just I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen since Hawaii,” he says. “I’m almost surprised it took so long.”

Taehyung turns his head to the side so he can stare at Jimin. “Hawaii was over two years ago,” he says flatly.

“Like I said, I’m surprised how long it took.”

“But I didn’t—” Taehyung starts, then pauses. “I didn’t have a crush on him then.”

“Maybe not an obvious one.” Jimin looks smug. “It’s only been super obvious for the past, oh, I don’t know, year or so.”

Taehyung groans and directs his eyes toward the ceiling. “It hasn’t—I haven’t—” He looks at Jimin, at a loss for words.

Jimin laughs, bright and bubbly. “Okay, maybe it’s super obvious only to me, but that’s because you and me, we’re like this.” He clasps his hands together in front of him, squeezing tightly. “You know.”

Taehyung nods.

“So, what are you going to do now?” Jimin asks.

All the nerves that had just started to calm down suddenly regain their anxious energy a thousandfold. “I don’t know,” Taehyung says. “This is kind of dangerous territory. You know, in case—”

In case it doesn’t work out.

Taehyung is a romantic at heart but he also needs to be practical. This thing, whatever it is, has a lot of potential to damage their dynamics—damage not only them but the rest of the members as well.

Jimin’s smile is warm. “Look, I’m sure that whatever happens, you two will always be holding hands and working your way through it.” 

“Yeah, I hope so.”

“I know so.” Jimin sounds so sure about it that Taehyung’s heart does a weird twisty achy thing in his chest.

Taehyung’s phone dings at the foot of the bed, and he exchanges a quick look with Jimin.

Of course, anyone could be sending a message to Taehyung, but he has a feeling, and that feeling turns out to be true.

YG: so, you coming over tonight or

Taehyung can’t help the almost panicked chuckle that escapes his lips. There he goes again, leaving out the question mark so his question wouldn’t seem too much like a request. It’s a request thinly veiled as a statement.

“What is it?” Jimin asks, craning his neck.

“He’s asking if I’m coming over, except he isn’t really asking,” Taehyung says, shaking his head.

“Well, are you?”

Taehyung pats his face where the mask is beginning to feel a bit crusty. He starts peeling it off. “I guess.”

Jimin pokes him in the side. “I guess, he says, already halfway out the door.”

Taehyung squirms out of Jimin’s reach, laughing. “Fine, I’m going.”



-



The moment the door opens and Taehyung sees Yoongi’s face, he realizes that while he’s been anxious and on edge all day, he probably can’t even imagine what Yoongi—the perpetual over-thinker and a near-constant ball of anxiety—has been going through. Yoongi’s brain is wired like that, he always worries about all possible outcomes, and many of the impossible ones on top of that as well. 

Seeing Yoongi like this, lower lip bitten red and his hands bunched in his hoodie sleeves to hide his nails that have undoubtedly been chewed into oblivion, makes Taehyung want to do several things all at once. He wants to cradle Yoongi’s hands in his, rub soothing lotion over his nail beds and scold him for torturing himself like that. He wants to brush his thumbs over Yoongi’s cheekbones, bury his fingers in Yoongi’s hair, press his face against Yoongi’s neck and hug him close until he can’t distinguish where the seam between their bodies is. 

He wants to slide his fingers below Yoongi’s chin, like he’s teasingly done several times before, but this time he wants to meet Yoongi’s eyes, wants to kiss him instead of teasing him.

The door closes behind him, and they stand there, barely a meter between them. Then Yoongi makes a small noise and moves just a fraction closer, and that’s all Taehyung needs to decipher that a hug would not go amiss right now. If his ability to read Yoongi was blurred outside the room, now that they’re in here it seems to amplify tenfold. 

Taehyung moves forward and opens his arms, and Yoongi doesn’t hesitate before stepping in, face coming to rest on Taehyung’s shoulder while his arms go around and cling to the back of Taehyung’s shirt. Taehyung pulls him tight against his chest, breathing in the scent of his hair, freshly washed and still a bit damp. His brain is buzzing with a million thoughts, but he doesn’t stop to think before pressing a kiss on the side of Yoongi’s head—a gentle brush of his lips that says I’m here, and you’re here, and we’re both here and it’s going to be okay.

Yoongi lets out another small noise and presses closer, arms tightening around Taehyung’s ribcage. They stand by the door for a quiet moment, arms tight around each other and breathing in the atmosphere—the uncertainty, but also the certainty, because they’re both here, in each other’s arms, and somehow it feels like this is how it’s supposed to be.

“We should get some sleep, yeah?” Taehyung says, and while it was implied in Yoongi’s message that he’s invited to stay over, he still continues, “Can I stay here, hyung?”

Yoongi detaches from the hug to look at him. “I asked you to come, didn’t I?”

Taehyung smiles, just a small curve of his lips. “You didn’t, really.”

Yoongi blinks a few times. “Well, I’m asking now,” he says, his voice smaller than usual, hesitant. “You wanna stay?”

Taehyung pulls him back into the hug, smushing Yoongi’s face into his neck, fingers carding through the hair at the back of Yoongi’s head. “Yeah,” he whispers. “Yeah, hyung, I wanna stay.”

Standing side by side at the sink to brush their teeth is the same as it has been for years, but there’s a new feel to it. Their eyes meet through the mirror several times, and Taehyung spies a small smile on Yoongi’s lips when he straightens his back after spitting out toothpaste and rinsing his mouth. 

Yoongi walks out of the bathroom, pulling his hoodie over his head, and the hem of his t-shirt catches and rises up to his armpits. Taehyung stares, toothbrush forgotten in his mouth, breath suddenly punched out of him. It’s not like he hasn’t seen Yoongi scantily clad before, but now it, like brushing their teeth side by side, seems to have a different meaning attached. He turns to the mirror, and his reflection looks back at him, eyes wide.

Yoongi is already tucked under a mountain of blankets when Taehyung comes out of the bathroom. He’s got his headphones in, and he’s browsing something on his phone. Taehyung discards his pants and sweater on a chair and makes his way to the bed. 

Neither of them says anything, but Yoongi reaches to pluck out one earbud and holds it out to Taehyung, who puts it in his ear and settles against the pillows, curling close to Yoongi’s side. No music comes out of the earbud yet, so Yoongi must have been waiting for him to come to bed before pressing play. 

Taehyung burrows himself under Yoongi’s arm, rests his head on Yoongi’s shoulder and snakes his arm over Yoongi’s stomach, then closes his eyes when the music starts. It’s a classical piece, played on piano and a single violin, and Taehyung listens to the melody flowing like water around them. He strokes his fingers down Yoongi’s side, then up again, in a repeating motion meant to soothe. He almost startles when he feels a kiss dropped on his hair, but manages to keep the knee-jerk reaction from surfacing. Instead, he sighs contently and moves closer, enjoying the even rise and fall of Yoongi’s chest, the touch of Yoongi’s slender thigh against his, Yoongi’s hand resting on his back, idly pinching the fabric of his t-shirt.

Now that Taehyung feels relaxed, he realizes how stressed he was throughout the day. He tilts his face up, nuzzles his nose against Yoongi’s neck, breathing in deep. Yoongi shifts, and when Taehyung looks up he sees Yoongi watching him from the corner of his eye.

The music dies abruptly, and Yoongi reaches to pluck the earbud out of Taehyung’s ear. He extends his hand to set both the earbuds and his phone on the nightstand, but he doesn’t switch off the lights. Instead, he stares at Taehyung with a quizzical look on his face.

“Should we, like—” Yoongi cuts himself off.

Taehyung can’t help it, really, he can’t, when he raises one eyebrow and asks, “Kiss again?”

Yoongi blushes pink and a small noise escapes his lips. “Talk about it,” he says, shoving Taehyung’s shoulder lightly.

Taehyung smiles. He pulls back and settles against the pillows. “What about it?”

Yoongi’s biting his lip again as he props himself on one elbow, looking at Taehyung intently. Taehyung wants to slide his thumb over Yoongi’s lower lip, to release it from between his teeth.

“It’s just, what is this? Like, this thing.” Yoongi motions between them.

It’s us, Taehyung wants to say. It’s you and me, and this odd tingling attraction that pulls us to each other. It’s all the ways we’re different and all the ways we’re the same, and all the ways we’re good together, and all the ways we’re not. 

“I like you,” Taehyung says instead. “I’ve liked you for a while now.”

Yoongi almost looks surprised at this. “Oh.”

Taehyung snorts. “What, you think I’d come over to sleep in your bed and kiss you if I didn’t like you?”

Yoongi is quiet for a moment. “Are you sure?”

“That I like you? Pretty sure.” Taehyung looks away and lets out a trembling sigh. “And if you don’t feel the same, now would be a pretty good time to let me know.”

Yoongi shakes his head, a rapid burst of motion that Taehyung can see even without looking at him directly. “No, I do—” He inhales slowly. “There’s a lot at stake,” he continues, instead of finishing the first sentence.

Taehyung swallows, eyes tracing the corner of the ceiling. He’s not sure if he can look at Yoongi right now, suddenly scared that they both feel the same, but then nothing because there’s too much at stake. Of course there’s a lot at stake, and the practical side of Taehyung agrees, but it still feels like giving up without trying. He turns his eyes to Yoongi. “I’m sure you’ve already imagined all the ways this could go wrong, so let’s hear it.” 

Yoongi’s hand reaches out, fingertips dancing feather-light over Taehyung’s cheek, brushing a lock of hair behind his ear. “I have,” he says eventually, when Taehyung has all but stopped breathing from the dizzying touches on his skin. “But right now, I just wanna—” Again, he cuts himself off, but Taehyung sees the line of his gaze, flitting back and forth between his eyes and his mouth. It’s like lying in the snowbank again, both of them a bit breathless, and both of them thinking the same thing. Outside, it’s started to rain again, the patter of droplets against the window like a rapid-fire drum beat that matches Taehyung’s heart rate.

This time, it’s Yoongi who leans in, closes the distance between their mouths, the surge of it quick but his mouth moving ever-so-slowly against Taehyung’s. Taehyung closes his eyes, drinks in the sensation, tastes Yoongi’s lips on his. It’s a few seconds of mouths touching, sliding and slotting together, until Taehyung parts his lips to inhale sharply, and then suddenly their tongues meet, continuing the choreography their lips started, moving in unison like it’s a performance they’ve practiced. Only it’s not a performance, and they haven’t practiced, and their choreo breaks up pretty quickly and it gets messy and wet, open mouths and gasped breaths.

Taehyung reaches blindly, pulls and tugs on whatever limbs he can find until Yoongi is on top of him, a warm weight from his chest to his feet, and they don’t stop kissing. Taehyung’s fingers find Yoongi’s hair, the back of his neck, his shoulders through the t-shirt, and Yoongi’s fingers slide along his cheekbone, trace his jawline and map out the column of his throat. They’ve seen each other, all of each other, many times over the years, but it’s different when the input is tactile—the wet slide of their tongues, skin under fingertips, their bodies flush against one another.

Then Yoongi pulls back, and for a second all movement halts, both of them watching each other as if gauging reactions. The way Yoongi looks at him now is the same way he’s sometimes looked at Taehyung onstage, or during interviews, or behind the stage or even when they’ve been home at the dorms—with this soft fondness Taehyung hasn’t been able to decipher before, with an awed expression like he’s watching some form of visual poetry unfolding right in front of him. Taehyung has gotten plenty of practice deciphering Yoongi’s expressions, but this particular one has evaded him.

He thinks he gets it now.

Yoongi’s cheeks are slightly flushed, his eyes dazed as he watches Taehyung, and his mouth is so red. His tongue darts out to wet his lips, and Taehyung swallows as he follows the movement.

Then Yoongi leans down and drops the softest kiss on Taehyung’s lips, like punctuation at the end of a sentence. Or no, Taehyung corrects, not the end of a sentence. It feels more like a semi-colon or an em-dash, something that indicates the sentence is still ongoing, unfinished, incomplete. 

Yoongi slides off to the side and ends up with his head on Taehyung’s shoulder, tugging the blankets up from where they escaped during the kiss. Taehyung lies on his back and watches Yoongi, breaths heaving his chest, and when Yoongi makes a tiny noise, Taehyung doesn’t hesitate before hugging him close and pressing one final kiss on his hair.

The lamp on the nightstand is still on when Taehyung drifts to sleep, with Yoongi warm and solid against his side.



-



The following day is surprisingly bright, the sun coming out to witness their last day of shooting. They get some more photos taken under the blue skies, and they visit a gift shop with all kinds of cute trinkets and souvenirs. At one point, Taehyung sees Yoongi watching him through an open shelf with blue-and-white candles on it, so he goes to stand on the other side of the shelf and leans in. The candles are scented, a hint of pine forests and something else, and Yoongi looks at him playfully, does the same on his side of the shelf. They probably look ridiculous, with their faces shoved near the shelf on both sides and staring at each other, and they both burst out laughing before pulling back and turning to inspect other items in the shop.

Jimin comes to stand by Taehyung, and his expression bears heaps of knowing smugness in it. “I take it that your night went smoothly,” Jimin says, picking up a journal with a gilded reindeer silhouette emblazoned on the front.

Taehyung twirls a pencil with a similar silhouette on it. “Yeah, it did.” He tries to sound nonchalant, but his grin is probably out-of-this-world stupid.

It’s not all smooth or clear or whatever, but at least there seems to be a quiet certainty, that the thing that’s been silently growing between Yoongi and him is not a figment of Taehyung’s imagination, but a real, tangible thing that displays itself in the way Yoongi looks at him, seeks his company, touches him.

There’s a lot of things that need to be figured out, later when they get back home and have a moment to stop and think about it. Until then, it’s a thing between them, a thing that happens because they both look at each other and see the same thing: they see warmth, and understanding, and love. They see visual poetry, and they are equally awed about it, each in their own way.



-



On the bus on their way to the airport, they sit at the very back, side by side even though there are five seats in the back row.

Yoongi takes Taehyung’s hand, laces their fingers together. He doesn’t usually do that. When he wants Taehyung’s attention without words, he grabs a sleeve, or in the absence of a sleeve, Taehyung’s wrist. The only times they’ve really held hands is when they’re disagreeing on something.

Taehyung watches their hands on Yoongi’s lap, fingers entwined. “Are we fighting and I didn’t know?”

Yoongi snorts, shakes his head. “I just, you know.” His fingers squeeze Taehyung’s.

He just wanted to hold hands, Taehyung translates. Wanted to and didn’t know how to ask.

“You okay?” Taehyung asks, low so their conversation doesn’t alert the others.

Yoongi nods. “Yeah.”

We okay?” Taehyung asks.

“We’re always okay.” Yoongi’s voice is rough, sincere.

And they are.