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“Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Taehyungie, happy birthday to you!”

Birthday singing was never not awkward; Taehyung did his best not to cringe his shoulders while his friends shouted at the top of their lungs, beers in hand as they surrounded him in the small space of his apartment living room. He laughed sheepishly, grateful for it all even in the midst of being put on the spot, all attention on him – something he had been once fond of, but now grown to dislike. 

“Make a wish!”

“Come on, Taehyung, blow out the candles!”

He squeezed his eyes shut in obligation as he pondered for a moment. What to wish for? Vaguely, the images of skin, complexion clear and pure, drifted into the darkness of his lids. The wishful images dissipated as he exhaled through his nose like a wisp of smoke, full of false hope as it wrapped around the contours of scarred skin, raised and mottled and wrapping around the contours of the left side of his face. Burn scars – the announcement of a past as marbled and frightening as the appearance would let one believe. The majority of it stretched from the corner of his mouth, a trail of discoloration pronounced with tight ridges of tough skin spreading over his jawline, as if a waterfall of kerosene had been lit on the side of his neck – disappearing into the collar of his shirt and never to be revealed to anyone else who sought to discover further. Taehyung always wore long sleeves; the angry colors still peeked on the top of his hand, wrapping around part of his palm and wrist, holding his hand and getting in the way of wanting it to be held. He thought of only the feeling of warmth, and love, and was content to blow out the candles for a wish of such a feeling. False hope was more reliable for feelings, and less for appearances.

Hoseok, who was leaning over in delighted anticipation of the candles being blown, was the first smile he saw as he opened his eyes. He mirrored it – he couldn’t help it, Hoseok’s smile was infectious – but it dissolved from his face as soon as his eyes rested on the flames that flickered on top of rainbow-colored candles (Seokjin’s idea, of course). The room seemed to fall dead silent, and Taehyung picked up on it; his palms began to sweat. Hoseok noticed, though, and reached out to place his hand gently on top of Taehyung’s, careful not to spook him. “It’s okay, Taehyungie.” His smile was gentle and reassuring; Namjoon and Yoongi fidgeted, Yoongi murmuring something along the lines of “I knew the candles were a bad idea” and Jin swatted at him to be quiet. 

Jeongguk circled the coffee table to sit next to Taehyung, and patted his shoulder. “You don’t have to blow them out, hyung.” His eyes were always sparkling and his smile was soft. 

Jin stepped forward, reaching for the cake. “Hyung will do it. I’ll cut the pieces too.”

Taehyung smiled, waving his hands to stop Seokjin’s advances. He shook his head, smiling up at his friends. “No, it’s fine. If I don’t blow them out, my wish won’t come true, right?”

A collective silence filled the room before they broke out in happy relief, and clapped as Taehyung blew out his candles. They’d give him all the time in the world, keep the candles lit for as long as they needed to until Taehyung was ready to blow them out. They were his friends, his best friends, and as they shouted a “cheers” and clinked their bottles together in celebration, Taehuyng knew – as he’d always known – he wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

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“Come on, Taehyung, it’ll be fun.” Hoseok’s smile was ever–present, hopeful in his attempts to convince Taehyung. “We’re still celebrating your birthday, after all. And it won’t be as crazy as tomorrow anyways.”

In the end, Taehyung gave in to his friend’s requests – they wanted to go to a bar, to continue the celebration and help him let loose and have a good time. Taehyung’s natural inclination to wanting to be social gave in, and the six of them piled into Jin’s SUV, the squeeze a bit tight but nothing they weren’t used to. Taehyung was wedged in the middle of the backseat, Jeongguk on one side and Hoseok on his right. Yoongi got the very back to himself – normally Hoseok would be back there with him, but today was different, and Hoseok was intent on keeping Taehyung’s spirits lifted. Jin happily drove them, though Taehyung figured he would end up being the one driving by the end of the night. He was content to hear Hoseok twittering on his side like a bird and Jeongguk buzzing with energy and excitement. 

They had been right, for the most part; the bar was full, but not as packed as it would surely get tomorrow for New Year’s Eve. People were already in the celebratory spirit, though, and the energy inside the club was electric as bodies jumped and danced to the music. Jin made a beeline for the bar; the group instantly followed, friends who stuck together like glue all the time. The first thing that happened was shots; Taehyung scrunched his face, but agreed to one on the condition that it was something sweet, to which the bartender obliged him. He covered his face in embarrassment as the group shouted all in good fun, letting everyone within hearing range know that it was his birthday. His ears flushed red at the tips, and he shrunk into his shoulders, doing his best to pat down the long curls of black hair against his face. His friends huddled around him at the bar; he observed them all, immensely happy to watch Hoseok buzz excitedly, Jin laugh as he made bad jokes, Namjoon shake his head at the bad humor, and Jeongguk about ready to bounce off the walls as he clinked glasses with Yoongi. 

“Taehyung! Let’s go dance!” Hoseok pulled on his arm, smiling brightly at him as he shouted over the music. 

Taehyung scrunched his face, pulling back in reluctance. His hand found the edge of the bar, and he nearly clung to it for dear life. “It’s hot–,” He protested.

“Let him catch a buzz first at least!” Jin swatted Hoseok’s arm lightly, which received a pout from him.

“Fine. Gukkie, let’s go dance!” He jumped excitedly as he changed his target to Jeongguk, who eagerly followed him as they maneuvered their way to the dance floor. 

Jin hummed in content, leaning with his back against the bar; pointedly, on Taehyung’s left side.

“Hyung! There’s a table over there, we’re going to go snatch it.” Namjoon called over the music, waving wildly in the direction of the precious sight of an empty table in a packed club.

“I’ll get us another round.” Jin nodded as Namjoon and Yoongi scurried in the direction of the table. He peered at Taehyung, who silently clung to the bar, simply observing other people around him; when Taehyung caught him looking, he offered a smile. “Any cute ones?” He raised his eyebrows, taking a surveying glance of the faces at the bar.

Taehyung smiled shyly, shaking his head. “Not even. I’m not you, hyung. They flock to you.”

Jin chuckled, waving the bartender over to order another round. He ordered two beers, a vodka soda, and a cape cod for Taehyung. “It’s my broad shoulders and my handsome face.” He slid the drink to Taehyung, clinking his glass against it as he raised it in a “cheers” with a wink. “I’ll let you mingle. You know where to find us.” He winked again, before taking leave in search of the table Namjoon and Yoongi had found. Taehyung opened his mouth to protest, but words disappeared before they formed on his tongue. He pursed his lips as he leaned against the bar and swirled the contents of his drink with a small straw. He could feel the bass of the music rattling through the solid surface of the table top; he glanced in the direction of the dance floor, searching for sight of Hoseok or Jeongguk, but failed to make it past the eyes of strangers that blinked and bore on his face as he pursed his lips and turned back to stare down into the red contents of his cocktail.

Movement broke him out of his daze as he caught the sight of a small shot glass being pushed his way. He blinked, glancing up at the bartender in confusion, who smiled at him. “From the sexy blonde down that way.” He cocked his head just slightly, inconspicuously. “D’nt worry, it’s sweet.” He winked, before leaving at the call of another patron.

Taehyung stared at the shot for a second, getting lost in the candy–pink color of the liquid before glancing up, eyes wandering over the faces down the bar until he met one pair that were so intent on him that it made his cheeks flush with heat. His breath hitched at the eye contact, and the blonde man flashed him a smile. It was dazzling, Taehyung thought – it was dangerous. His lips pulled a smirk and he nodded in thanks, tossing back his head as he took the shot. It was sweet, like the bartender had said, and for that he was grateful. He made a point not to look back, suddenly feeling a bit nervous. Should he go thank him? Would that be weird?

Taehyung turned his head to survey the bar idly; he was beginning to get annoyed at the stares that came from his left. Licking his lips out of habit, he downed the rest of the cocktail thirstily. He was prepared to go either looking for Hoseok and Jeongguk on the dance floor, or join the other three at the table; he knew doing so meant defeat though, considering Jin would probably hound him for not “ mingling ”. He exhaled deeply before it got caught in his throat and he nearly choked; a voice had interrupted him, calling for his attention.

“Hi.” The blonde man who had bought him the shot was now right next to him, having slipped into the space between Taehyung and the next group of people glued to the bar top. He flashed a smile, luscious lips slicked with a bit of gloss pulling over pearly teeth.

Taehyung swallowed dryly; after a moment of thought – mostly “fuck it” – he turned to face the blonde, smiling in return. He didn’t miss the way the man’s eyes flickered over his scars, clearly visible on the left side of his jaw and his neck, creeping up the outer contours of his cheekbones, mottled skin on his temple disappearing under thick hair. He also didn’t miss the fact that the observation was fleeting, and the other man’s eyes left his only for a split second, returning quickly to meet his own. Taehyung nodded slightly. “Hi.”

The man leaned against the bar, propping his elbow on the edge, the black leather of his jacket stretched against his arms. His eyes fell from Taehyung’s to the empty glass on the table and he raised an eyebrow. “Can I buy you a drink?”

Taehyung let out a small chuckle. “You already did.” He saw confusion registering on the other man’s face, and realized he hadn’t heard him. He leaned closer, making a point to tilt his “good side” towards him as he raised his voice. “You already did.” He repeated, speaking into the man’s ear. He heard him chuckle, a tinkling sound that dripped with earthy sweetness like honey, and he smiled as he pulled back. His breath caught as the man’s hand came up to rest on his shoulder to keep him close, and he cupped a hand to amplify his voice in response.

“Can I buy you another?” The man’s smile was insistent, and he giggled. “Or, how about this? Take a shot with me. I promise you can run away from me after that.” 

Taehyung raised his eyebrow before he gave in and nodded in agreement. The man smiled at him, and he smiled in return. He watched as the man raised his hand and gave a little wave, catching the bartender’s attention easily; his eyes looked at the many rings on his fingers before sharing a quick glance with the bartender, who looked smug. Taehyung chuckled to himself and accepted the shot that was given to him, curiously eyeing the same pink color as the previous shot. 

“Cheers.” The blonde man smiled, raising the shot glass in offering and clinking it against Taehyung’s. 

Taehyung threw the shot back, realizing he already felt a bit of a buzz seeping into his head. He smiled, licking the lingering sweetness off of his lips before placing the empty glass down. He felt the other man’s eyes on him, observing him under smoky eyelids that smoldered his look and seemed to suggest hidden intentions. “Thank you.” He nodded, feeling a bit out of his element. 

The other man giggled. “No, thank you.”

Taehyung furrowed his brows slightly in confusion, opening his mouth to speak before he was cut off by a very sweaty, and very excited Jeongguk barreling into him from behind. “Hyung!” He was pushed forward, the bubble of formality completely popped as he was thrown into the other man’s personal space. He choked out an apology, and Jeongguk steadied himself and laughed. “Oops, my bad. Hobi hyung sent me to get you, he wants you to dance with us and you can’t say no!” He pulled at Taehyung’s sleeve, coaxing him away from the bar. His eyes flitted to a blonde man, a bit shorter than them both and standing interestingly close to Taehyung at the bar. “Hi!” He flashed a smile as he hopped in place with enough energy to create sparks. “Do you want to dance with us?” 

Taehyung blinked, waving his hands and laughing nervously. “Guk, you got the wrong idea–,”

“I’d love to!” The blonde smiled, bright and dazzling and Taehyung was taken aback; he swore his inhibitions were all but abandoned in the empty shot glass at the bar as he was pulled by Jeongguk and the mystery blonde trailed behind him. Shit – he hadn’t even asked his name. Bodies pressed up against them and he felt an arm interlock with his left; he panicked for a second before he realized the newfound stranger was holding onto him, to stay close as they maneuvered their way towards the center of the dance floor. Taehyung felt the man’s hot breath on his ear as he tried to speak over the music. “I’m an ass, is it okay to dance with you?”

Taehyung blinked. I mean, it’s kind of late by now, isn’t it? He chuckled, nodding his head in response. It wasn’t like this man wasn’t attractive – by all means, he was the definition of it. Finally, they broke into an emptier part of the crowd, in the middle of the dance floor; Taehyung relished in the cold air that hit his skin. Hoseok’s face brightened instantly at the sight of them, and as the man behind Taehyung came into view, he looked surprised.

“Jimin?!” Hoseok smiled brightly, approaching him with arms wide open for a hug. Taehyung raised his eyebrow; he couldn’t exactly pinpoint what he had said because he couldn’t hear over the music, but it looked like they recognized each other.

“Hobi?!” Jimin giggled, embracing Hoseok warmly. They both seemed to understand that there was no use in catching up in the center of the dance floor, music blaring on the speakers, and they jumped into dancing, laughing as they mirrored each other. 

Hoseok was absolutely delighted, and pulled Taehyung in the middle of them. “Come on Taehyungie, finally you came!” Jeongguk sidled up against Hoseok’s back, the four of them forming a rather tight sandwich of bodies as they tried to avoid bumping into others. Taehyung was nervous at the sudden proximity, his back against Hoseok’s godly grinding hips, facing towards the blonde man as he tried to fall into the beat. 

Jimin noticed, and he giggled, suddenly turning around and pressing his back up against Taehyung, who hissed at the feeling of his ass against his front. His breath sputtered, and he tentatively placed his hand on the man’s waist to keep them both steady. Taehyung nearly melted into the rhythm of the man’s swaying hips, biting his lip at the temptation and the apprehension. He flinched as the man reached behind him, snaking his hand up to his neck; the man pulled back instantly at either the feeling of the raised, mottled texture of the scarred skin on Taehyung’s neck, or in response to Taehyung’s flinch. Taehyung couldn’t see his face quite clearly, but he didn’t see shock – it was more of an apologetic look.

“Fuck! I’m sorry!” He craned his neck to look over his shoulder at Taehyung, stepping away before Taehyung reached out to snake his arm around the man’s waist to pull him back. 

“It’s okay.” Taehyung shook his head with a smile as the man regarded him for a moment to make sure it really was okay, before settling back against Taehyung. He stretched and jerked his chin slightly, motioning for Taehyung to lean in closer so he could speak to him.

“I told you, you can run away! I won’t be offended!” 

Taehyung chuckled. “Who said I wanted to?” The blonde man smiled brightly at that, bringing a hand to cover his mouth as he did so.

“I’m Jimin!” 

Taehyung furrowed his brow, dipping his head closer in an attempt to hear better. 

“Jimin!”

“Jimin”. Taehyung nodded. “Taehyung.” He responded. 

“Taehyung.” Jimin smiled. “It’s nice to meet you!” 

Yeah, real nice, Taehyung thought, as Jimin’s ass rubbed against his groin in ways that were beginning to make it feel a bit too hot in here. “You know–?” He turned to gesture at Hoseok, before realizing with surprise that he wasn’t behind him anymore. He blinked, looking around. “Hobi?!” He pursed his lips. He asks me to come dance and then leaves?! 

Jimin giggled, turning to face Taehyung. He placed his hands on Taehyung’s chest, closing space in between them as he kept the momentum of dancing and grinding subtly against him. “Your friends!”

Taehyung rolled his eyes and laughed. “I know!” He realized the music began to slow down, the smooth waves of an R&B track filling the club. At least I don’t have to yell, he thought. 

Jimin’s hands crept upward, and he regarded Taehyung with hesitation before wrapping his arms around Taehyung’s neck. They fell into the subtle movements of doing enough to move with the rhythm; Taehyung could feel beads of sweat beginning to prick his skin, and he knew before long it would be uncomfortable on the surface of his scars. The feeling of someone else touching the scarred places of his skin wasn’t completely foreign, but it was definitely uncommon, especially as of late – like five years as of late – and Taehyung did his best to relax into this man’s touch. He smiled, placing his hands on Jimin’s waist and pulling him close. He could feel the alcohol sending a buzz through his veins, tainting his blood with the temptation to let loose and enjoy the night. 

“You’re really cute.” Jimin’s voice snapped Taehyung out of his daze, having gotten lost in the movements of the other man's body. Jimin giggled. “I bet you get that a lot.”

Taehyung licked his lips, eyes devouring the other with heated interest. “Hm–,” He cleared his throat. “You’re hot as fuck yourself.” He saw the look of surprise on Jimin’s face and slapped a hand to his mouth, eyes wide as Jimin burst into laughter. “That wasn’t supposed to come out like that–,”

Jimin doubled over as he laughed, a dramatic mannerism that defined him. He waved his hand at Taehyung. “No, it’s fine.” His shoulders shook as he laughed, the sound of it making Taehyung want to smile and laugh, too. “Thanks. I’ll take the compliment.”

Taehyung shifted nervously, beginning to feel the effects of the heat from the alcohol and dancing, making it stifling to be in the middle of the dance floor. “I’m, uh–, kind of hot–,”

Jimin shot him a sultry look, emboldened by the smoky eyeshadow that covered his lids. “You are.”

Taehyung let out a small laugh, and gestured vaguely towards the bar. “Do you want to–? Uh, my friends are at a table.” He offered his hand to Jimin, who nodded and took it, gladly taking the lead to weave them both out of the cluster of bodies that littered the dance floor.

 

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“Taehyung!”

“There you are!” Taehyung whined, catching sight of his friends huddled into a booth against the wall of the bar. He frowned, letting go of Jimin’s hand as he slid into the booth next to Jeongguk, the others shifting to make room for the two. All of them looked curiously at Jimin, except for Hoseok and Yoongi. “You ditched me!” He reached over the table to swat at Hoseok, who giggled and playfully swatted back at Taehyung’s hands. 

“Don’t be a baby! You were in good hands.” Hoseok wiggled his eyebrows, his eyes brightly resting on Jimin. “Jimin, man! It’s so good to see you, how have you been?” The others registered confusion on their faces, and Taehyung was the first to ask.

“You know each other?”

Jimin giggled and nodded. “I’m good, it’s been a while.” His eyes glanced at the curious ones boring in him from around the table. “I’m Jimin.” He gave a slight wave, rings twinkling in the lights. 

“We used to dance together at the studio! Back in the college days.” Hoseok chimed, giddy with the memories. A collective “ahhh” went around the table, and Jimin rested his eyes on Yoongi, sitting next to Hoseok.

“Yoongi, right? It’s good to see you again.”

Yoongi blinked up, having diverted his attention. The tips of his ears turned red and he pulled his beanie down before anyone could snipe a comment. Everyone remembered their college days well; Yoongi and Hoseok were a fevered thing for a lot of it, when they were just college boys – young, wild, and quite experimental . He nodded, murmuring. “Yeah, likewise.” 

Taehyung didn’t miss Jin’s smugly curious glance, and did his best to share an inconspicuous look with him. “I’m thirsty–,” Taehyung made a point to speak in Jin’s direction, to save himself from the prying questions or whatever bomb Jin was sure to drop. 

“Oh, I can go. What do you want?” A collective series of blinks aimed themselves at Jimin, who’d offered before anyone else had the chance to answer.

“Oh, uh–,” Taehyung stammered.

“I know what everyone drinks, I’ll go with you!” Jin smiled as he slid out of the booth. “We all need another round anyway.” Taehyung cursed the fact that Jin was on the edge of the booth, making it too easy for him to escape and be nosy. 

Jimin didn’t seem bothered, and the pair made their way to the bar; Taehyung swore he could hear the buzzing of his friends and their questions rushing towards him like crashing waves.

“Oh my god–,”

Hyung! He’s cute!”

“They knew each other?”

“Hyung, why didn’t you ever introduce me? What the hell!”

Hoseok giggled at the questions and comments ricocheting across the table. “Oh my god, I had not seen him in years! I almost didn’t recognize him. Yoongi, do you remember? Shit, so much is coming back to me.” Yoongi seemed put off, but nodded his head and agreed, the memories of their college days coming out from the backs of their minds. “Who would have thought we’d run into him here.”

Jeongguk poked at Taehyung’s side. “Is he into you? He’s into you.”

Taehyung chuckled shyly, fidgeting at Jeongguk’s tickling advances. “Stop! No, I’m sure he’s not.”

Jeongguk pouted. “Whatever! I saw the way you guys were dancing all up on each other.”

Namjoon leaned forward, abandoning his beer for the favor of the conversation. “You danced with someone?” Yoongi hit him under the table to shut him up; the last thing they wanted to do was uncomfortably remind Taehyung of his tendency to shy away from physical contact. As much as he liked to socialize, close proximity to people was still a bit of a tentative subject to broach, much less skinship from anyone who wasn’t the five friends he held so close to his heart.

“He did! It was hot.” Hoseok wiggled his eyebrows. 

“You’re the one who pulled him to dance with us!” Taehyung shoved Jeongguk’s shoulder, voice amplified in a whine. “I didn’t even ask him to.”

“Aren’t you glad I did?” 

The group shushed themselves as Jin and Jimin returned from the bar, drinks in hand. Most were beers, except for Jin’s vodka soda and a drink in Jimin’s hand, which he offered to Taehyung. Taehyung accepted it, surprised when he sipped tentatively to find out that there didn’t seem to be any alcohol in the drink. He was relieved, though he didn’t ask any questions.

“So what have you been up to, man?” Hoseok smiled over his beer, attempting to include the newcomer in the conversation. 

“Damn, since college? Uh, well–,” Jimin thought for a moment. “I’m in grad right now, same university.” He smiled. 

“Namjoonie-hyung is doing his grad program too!” 

Namjoon was suddenly interested in the conversation; bring up anything pertaining to academia and sometimes he couldn’t shut up. They talked about their graduate programs, Hoseok asked Jimin if he was still staying around the same area in Seoul, and invited him to the studio to dance and catch up, like good old times. Taehyung didn’t miss the way Jimin sometimes shifted to sit closer to him, or brushed against him subtly; the back of their hands, his leg, their arms. His breath hitched as Jimin’s hand came to rest on his thigh under the table. Oh. Taehyung did his best not to fidget. Maybe Jeongguk was right. At one point, Jimin suggested a round of shots; Jin eyed Taehyung with curiosity, and decided maybe he just needed a little push. 

“Go with him, Taehyung. He can’t carry seven shots by himself.” 

Taehyung blinked, having lost himself in the close proximity of Jimin’s hand brushing against his leg and nodded vigorously. “Yeah, of course.” He followed Jimin as they slid out of the booth; Jimin took his hand to lead him through the crowd of people to the bar.

“Do you want a shot? You don’t have to get one.” Jimin turned towards him as they approached the bar, neglecting to let go of Taehyung’s hand. 

Taehyung could see the glossiness in his eyes from the effects of the alcohol, and was still feeling a bit of a buzz himself. He shook his head. “Yeah, no, it’s fine. I’ll have one.”

“Something sweet, right?” Jimin smiled, waving down the bartender. He saw Taehyung’s questioning glance. “Jin told me you aren’t much of a drinker. You should have said something when I asked you to take a shot with me! You could have said no.” Jimin laughed. “I feel like such a dick.”

Taehyung observed Jimin, eyes roving over his blonde hair, smooth skin, smokey eyelids, cheeks that were tinted pink underneath the sheen of makeup he wore – finally coming to rest on his lips, soft and inviting. “I wouldn’t have had an excuse to talk to you.” Taehyung’s voice dipped to a lower register, betraying his inebriation and his body’s response to the man he’d met just earlier that night. 

Jimin turned and his eyes came to rest on Taehyung’s, who he noticed was hungrily looking at his lips. He closed the distance between them, placing Taehyung’s hand on his waist as he placed his own on Taehyung’s chest, pressing them closer. The pull between them seemed magnetic, and before Taehyung knew it, their lips were melting together in a flurry of sparks that sent his heart racing. He pulled Jimin closer, savoring the bittersweet taste of beer and Jimin.

Jimin’s breathing was heavy as they broke from their kiss. “What excuse can I give you to do more than just talk?” A smirk played on his lips, and Taehyung knew that was it – this man was dangerous , in the way he most desperately wanted.

 

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The picture of the hot and heavy scenes that you see in movies when taking someone home – the ones that swam in Taehyung’s head as they took a cab to his place – couldn’t have been farther from the reality as Taehyung let him into his apartment. It was quiet; empty with whispers of Taehyung’s thoughts in the darkest corners. 

“It’s not much.” Taehyung smiled shyly, gesturing at his apartment.

Jimin looked around, hair a bit frazzled and cheeks flushed from drinking. He shook his head and smiled. “Do you live alone?” 

Taehyung nodded. “Do you… Want a beer?” He moved for the fridge, leaving Jimin to linger by the counter. He heard a faint “sure” , and retrieved two from the fridge; he heard Jimin sliding off his jacket, and couldn’t help but glance at him in his white t–shirt, arms exposed as just as toned and smooth as Taehyung would expect them to be. Jimin caught him looking, following his glance to his arms, and cocked an eyebrow, a smirk playing on his lips. Taehyung averted his gaze, offering him the beer. He felt the space begin to become awkward; but it had been a long time since he’d had anyone over, and wasn’t quite sure how to fill the silence.

“Do you have a thing for arms?” Jimin chuckled, noticing Taehyung’s gaze on his forearm again as he lifted the beer to his lips. 

Taehyung blinked, averting his eyes again. He bit his lip as he tried to stifle a smile. “Sorry.”

Jimin smiled at him. “Don’t be.” He got up from the island, fishing in the inside of his leather jacket. “D’you have a patio or something?” He waved a packet of cigarettes. “Do you mind?”

Though a bit taken aback, Taehyung nodded, and led him to the balcony of his apartment. He watched as Jimin lit his cigarette, staring at the flame of the lighter before the disappearance of it made him avert his eyes. He heard Jimin’s deep exhale, the smoke spilling from his mouth. His eyes caught movement, and he turned to see Jimin waving the pack of cigarettes at him delicately in offering. Taehyung stared at the pack in his hand for a moment before letting out a scoff, chuckling at the irony. “No, thanks.”

Jimin peered at him, feeling a bit of tension seeping in the space between them, wrapping in the smoke that he made a point to blow away from Taehyung’s direction. “So, what’s the excuse?” He said, taking another drag from his cigarette. 

Taehyung blinked and looked up at him in confusion. “What?” 

Jimin chuckled, exhaling another drag of smoke. “The excuse to do more than just talk.” He held the cigarette in between his lips as he approached Taehyung, taking it out and holding it loosely in between his fingers as exhaled. Everything about Jimin was dripping with intention; Taehyung swallowed hard.

He opened his mouth to speak, but the crumbling ash from the tip of Jimin’s cigarette falling onto his hand caused him to yelp in surprise; he jerked backwards, sending the bottle of beer in his hand crashing to the ground, shattering all over the pavement.

Jimin jumped, eyes wide in just as much shock, face riddled with confusion. “Are you okay?” His cigarette had fallen to the floor, and he looked at his empty hand, puzzled. “Shit, did I burn you or something? Fuck, I’m sorry–,”

Taehyung’s heart was racing, pounding in his head; his body went into overdrive, reacting to no pain at all – it didn’t burn – but just the panic and fear of the possibility of it. His chest heaved, and he stepped backwards, holding his hand out to Jimin to stop him from getting closer. “No, it’s fine.” He shook his head, voice betraying a tremble.

“Let me see, shit, I’m so sorry! I’ll help you clean that up. Are you sure you’re not hurt? Let me see–,”

“I said it's fine!” Taehyung raised his voice to shout; Jimin fell quiet. Taehyung exhaled, shoulders dropping. The pounding of his heart in his ears hammered against the thoughts that ricocheted in his head. For a moment, he was absorbed in thought; his gaze flickering down at the ground in front of him, unable to meet the honey eyes that insisted admittance into the walls he held up so desperately. “I’d like you to leave.” His voice was low, firm as it could be as he swallowed hard. “I’m sorry, this was a mistake. You should go.” He didn’t wait for Jimin to answer; he just stepped back inside, leaving Jimin to trail behind him.

“Wait, Taehyung–,” Jimin followed after him, making sure to stomp out his cigarette before scurrying inside. “Hey, wait–,” he reached for Taehyung’s arm to stop him as he made his way to the counter.

Taehyung jerked away, flinching at Jimin’s touch. “What are you doing?”

“I’m just–,” Jimin withdrew his hand, a look of apology on his face. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. It was an accident.”

Taehyung looked at him for a moment, before his lips widened to a smile and he laughed mockingly. The mottled skin running from the corner of his mouth down his jaw pulled taut as he did so, and Jimin winced at his tone. “An accident, huh? Yeah, it’s always an accident.” Jimin opened his mouth to protest, but Taehyung cut him off. “In what fucking world does it make sense to bring that near this ? Huh?! Did you not think of that?” He gestured angrily at his scars, raising his hand to show the mangled skin that covered his hand and wrist, disappearing underneath his sleeve. “Or do you have a thing for it?” Jimin, again, tried to say something, but Taehyung continued. “You know, kinda how I have a thing for arms – for normal – d’you have some kind of fucking fetish for scars? For burn victims or something? Is that it? Or maybe–, it would be less fucking weird that’s for sure – you feel bad for me? I mean, trust me, I’m the last fucking person to judge, so you could be honest.”

Jimin scrunched his eyebrows, angry and taken aback by Taehyung’s words. He waited a few seconds for Taehyung to stop talking, and watched as he fumed angrily. “Are you done?” Jimin crossed his arms. Taehyung opened his mouth to speak, but Jimin stopped him. “No, shut up.” He sighed. “Look, I don’t know you–,”

“No, you don’t. So leave.”

Jimin stared at him for a moment, his jaw clenching in defiance. He straightened up, and looked Taehyung in the eye. “Make me.” 

What? Taehyung sighed, taking Jimin’s jacket and offering it to him. The two stared each other down before Jimin snatched his jacket, huffing angrily. 

“You know what? Whatever. Bye.” 

“Give me a second, I’ll call you a cab.” Taehyung made his way to the kitchen to find his phone. 

“No, it’s fine. I got it, thanks.” Jimin slid into his jacket, the heels of his boots clicking on the floor as he left the apartment, closing the door loudly behind him. 

Taehyung stared after him, phone held loosely in his hand. He blinked, the silence of his apartment suddenly deafening. His jaw clenched, mind racing as beads of sweat pricked on his skin. He fidgeted in place, knuckles tightening around his phone. “ Fuck!” He cursed, lunging forward to throw the door open and step over the threshold that mocked his solitude.

He found him outside of the building, eyes instantly catching the head of bleached blonde hair in contrast to the black color of his jacket, jeans, and boots. Jimin was waiting close to the sidewalk, waving down a cab. “Jimin!” Taehyung called, breath spilling from his mouth in a cloud in the cold weather. “Jimin, wait!” He ran up to him just as a taxi pulled up; Jimin either ignored him or didn’t hear him, opening the door to get in the car. Taehyung nearly ran into him, grabbing the door of the car. “Hey, wait–,”

Jimin blinked in surprise, and his brows furrowed in confusion and a bit of residual anger. “Taehyung?”

“Sorry!” Taehyung called into the car to the cab driver, closing the door. He pulled at Jimin’s arm, urging him back onto the pavement as the cab pulled out back onto the street.

“What the fuck–,” 

Taehyung cut off Jimin’s protest by cupping his face, meeting Jimin’s lips with his as he pulled him close, shivers racking his spine in the cold air as Jimin’s skin felt hot under his hands. He didn’t think about the scarred skin on his palm against Jimin’s skin, didn’t think about anything else but holding him close, keeping him there, and making up for the stupid mistake of telling him to leave. “You need to help me clean up.” Taehyung breathed, gasping for air as they broke their kiss. 

Jimin blinked in confusion, shoulders heaving from their heated kiss in the middle of the sidewalk. He scrunched his face. This guy is great at ruining the mood. “I’m sorry?”

Taehyung smiled down at him, chuckling. “The excuse.” He cocked his eyebrow. “The one for us to do more than talk. You said you’d help me clean up.”

Jimin’s lips pulled into an uncertain smile, though he still scrunched his face. “Uh–,”

“I’m sorry.” Taehyung swallowed hard. “I was an asshole. I, uh–, I just…” He dropped his hands from Jimin’s face and averted his gaze. “I haven’t really, you know–,”

Jimin blinked, eyes wide with surprise. “Oh, shit! Are you–?”

Taehyung’s eyes widened as he got what Jimin meant before he finished. “No! No!” He waved his hands wildly, laughing nervously. “No! I know what I’m doing. I mean, not–, well right now–, but, you know…” He ran his hands through his hair, nerves wracking his body. “Fuck. It’s cold as fuck, will you come back inside? Please?”

Jimin regarded him carefully for a minute, taking his time to think before he nodded. “Okay.” 

 

◇──◇── ⋇⋆✦⋆⋇  ──◇──◇

 

Taehyung didn’t miss the way Jimin kept his jacket on the second time he entered his apartment; god, what the fuck was he doing? He fidgeted nervously. “I don’t have a thing for arms.” He said suddenly, receiving a questioning look from Jimin. “I just, uhm–,” he pulled at his sleeve, revealing a bit of his wrist, splotched with scars. “Your arms are pretty.” He smiled a bit awkwardly, a bit shyly.

“So are you.” Jimin approached him, stroking the fabric of his sleeve as he laid his hand on his arm. “You’re pretty.”

Taehyung chuckled. “No. You know what I mean.”

Jimin’s eyes fell half–mast, glazing over Taehyung’s lips in desire. His hands moved to the buttons of Taehyung’s shirt, tentatively working the topmost one. He felt Taehyung’s instant reaction, his body tensing and breath catching in his throat. 

“Uhm–,”

“Do you want to fuck?”

Taehyung nearly choked on his own spit, suppressing a cough in surprise at Jimin’s words. “Wuh–what?”

Jimin chuckled lowly, fingers resting on the sliver of exposed chest after having successfully undone a button on Taehyung’s shirt. His touch was gentle. “Do you want to sleep, you know… With me?” 

“I–, I mean–,” Taehyung swallowed hard, allowing Jimin to work the next button on his shirt, and the next one after that. “Yeah, uh–, yes.” Jimin let out a small laugh at his response. Taehyung reached down to tip his chin upwards, meeting their lips in a hungry kiss. He grasped the leather of Jimin’s jacket, pushing it off of his frame as he tugged him backwards, aiming for the direction of his bedroom. Jimin stumbled; Taehyung hooked his hands underneath Jimin’s thighs, who yelped with surprise and giggled into their kiss as Taehyung carried him to the bedroom. He dropped Jimin down on the bed, hovering over him as he admired him, blonde hair a bit frazzled and cheeks flushed hot. It took Taehyung a minute to register that his shirt was open, torso displayed for Jimin to see. He swallowed dryly, nerves creeping upon him at the thought of being exposed in front of someone else. No one had seen him like this in years – yet here he was, with a perfect stranger, in a state of undress for him to see. Maybe that’s just it , Taehyung thought. Maybe it’s because he’s a stranger, and I’ll never have to see him again, anyway

Jimin could sense his nerves, and pulled himself up to grasp at the fabric of Taehyung’s shirt, kissing him as he delicately pushed the shirt off. “Is this okay?” Jimin breathed, and Taehyung nodded tensely as he felt the shirt drop from his body. His scars were extensive; they ran from his face, down his neck, peeking onto his chest and trailing down the length of his left arm. The bedroom wasn’t entirely dark – Taehyung wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. “Just tell me if it’s not.” The rasp of Jimin’s voice betrayed his arousal, filling the space in the hot air that swirled between them. 

Taehyung swallowed hard; Jimin’s voice wasn’t the only thing that betrayed his arousal, and as he straddled Jimin underneath him, he felt starved for more friction between their bodies. He hungrily reached to meet Jimin’s mouth with his, breath stuttering only slightly at the feeling of Jimin running his hands along Taehyung’s torso. He whined into the kiss, instantly becoming embarrassed at how desperate he probably seemed. He’d been starved of this for a long time – and here he was, feeling something in some ways from an absolute stranger whose path he might never cross again. But then again, maybe they would. He felt Jimin’s lips curve into a smile at his sounds, and when he took the chance to bite down on Taehyung’s bottom lip, the moan it elicited from Taehyung released from his lips with no inhibition. 

“I–,” Taehyung sputtered, choking on his words as his breathing became ragged. 

“You sound as sexy as you look.” 

Something ignited in Taehyung’s core; something that kindled desire, lust, and maybe something else that he couldn’t quite place. His hand dipped low to palm Jimin through his jeans, satisfied with the gasp that came from his lips – a sound that encouraged him to tug at the button and zipper. Taehyung’s voice dipped into a growl, primal and ready to consume like the very fire that burned him so long ago.

“Wait ’til you see how I taste.”