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how have you been?

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when they meet on a very ordinary day, both in- and outside of the game, they don’t expect it to be a momentous occasion. they think of it as a one-off thing, so it doesn’t stand out as anything but that.

guild-less, they find each other randomly when user tete95 asks in the chat whether anyone would like to join him in completing a quest. it’s a shot in the dark, because finding random people to do quests with is hard. people have guilds or friends, but taehyung has neither of those. he’s quite a new player and he hasn’t put enough time into the game yet to meet and befriend anyone. still, he tries.

as luck would have it, user chimmy01234 is roaming around very close to him. he isn’t waiting for anyone to do a quest with, he’s just mucking about while he tries to figure out what would be fun to do. he’s not actively trying to complete any quest; he’s just… waiting.

he’s the first and only person to respond, after which he receives a private message from tete95 that launches them straight into the thick of things.

during that first quest together, they don’t get to know each other an awful lot. they just go item hunting together, then they go hunting hunting together, only to finally end up at the quest-boss’ lair.

they’re both still beginners, so they barely make it out alive—mostly due to chimmy01234’s excessive collection of health potions. but they do, and it nets them a good amount of loot and gold.

they only share a few words afterward in private chat, before they go their separate ways. they don’t think they’ll ever meet again, but they’re wrong.

a few days later, tete95 gets a message from chimmy01234 asking whether they’d be up for another quest, whether they’d be interested in teaming up again.

they do, and they talk more now. they talk about the game, and chimmy01234 asks whether the 95 in their username is their birth year.

in that second quest, they learn one new thing about each other: they’re same-age buddies.

it’s only a small piece of information, but it helps them get a little more comfortable around each other.

by the second quest, they agree to become quest buddies. they’ve realised they’re a good team and that the loot and gold they’re earning can help them level up quicker. together, they can become even stronger. it’s a no-brainer.

by the fifth, chimmy asks for tete’s name. but only if ur comfortable sharing!!

taehyung. whats urs?

jimin

and so taehyung and jimin properly meet for the first time. they go on more quests and, instead of using their usernames in chat like they have until now—or using the shortened versions: tete and chimmy—they start using each other’s real names.

they become friends, they become richer and stronger and could and probably should join a guild by now, but… i don’t really want to, u know? jimin says. i like working with u

me 2. lets just be in our own guild :’)

:D !!!! goblin on ur left

the thing is, being in a guild has a few advantages. other than easy access to better gear and items, there’s the experience bonus. if any member gains experience, the others will get a small percentage of that experience, too. it’s only a little, but it’s a good way of passively earning some more.

the game offers another option, though, for single players. it takes a bit of work, and a partner, but the experience boost is greater than the perk you get from being in a guild.

jimin-ah, marry me :’)

huh?

let’s do the marriage quest! to get the exp boost!

and so jimin and taehyung embark on the marriage quest, and they gather all the necessary items and find the right npc hidden deeply within the forest, right in a small clearing. there, on a stone platform, the npc thanks them for delivering her the right items and offers to marry them, if they wish to be.

when prompted, they both click confirm and an animation of fireworks erupts on both of their screens. right in the middle, a new window pop ups to inform them that

CONGRATULATIONS, ADVENTURER! YOU ARE NOW MARRIED TO USER TETE95

right underneath it, in smaller letters, it tells them that they will now receive 20% of the amount that their partner gains in experience during solo travels. it also tells them that they receive a 25% boost in experience if they work together.

wait, taehyung types, once he’s clicked away the window. if i gain 100xp, does that mean i get 80 and u get 20?

no silly! jimin says. his avatar runs around in obnoxious circles, and taehyung joins him. because they’re husbands now, and they can do whatever the hell they please. u get 100 and i get 20!

the fact that they’re both boys and have just become husbands isn’t a big deal to them. same-sex marriage is a non-issue in the game; it’s very common, because the experience boost is amazing when taken advantage of correctly. that, and…

sometimes, taehyung lies awake twisting and turning in bed at night, well after his parents have told him to get some sleep, that he has to wake up early for school in the morning. he thinks of the game, which he now plays pretty often, and he thinks of jimin in particular.

he doesn’t know what jimin looks like, but he knows of his birthday and that he lives in busan and that his passion is to become a dancer. he knows a little of jimin’s daily life, and enough about him as a person that he knows that he likes jimin’s bubbly personality.

taehyung feels…

he feels…

what does he feel?

he doesn’t know. but he knows that seeing that notification pop up that he’s in-game married to jimin now makes him feel a fluttery type of nervous and excited that he knows doesn’t have much to do with the experience boosts. he just really likes the idea of being connected to jimin in that way, which he knows should be weird, because they’re both guys, right? it should be weird, righ? right?

perhaps jimin feels similarly. maybe he grins widely when he sees the notification on his end. maybe. maybe he has a crush on taehyung, despite not knowing that it’s a crush.

they don’t realise they develop a crush on each other, because the idea of 1) crushing on a boy and 2) crushing on someone they met over the internet is a ridiculous one.

they don’t ever talk about what they may or may not feel, and they don’t even think about what they may or may not feel. it’s not a topic that’s explored at all, which they’re both fine with.

despite all this, they continue to grow closer. somehow, being married feels right and they use it as an opportunity to become even closer friends while growing more and more powerful in the game.

 

they grow closer, and then they both have to take a step back to focus on school for a bit. they still log in, they still talk to each other, but not as much as they used to.

it’s fine, they can deal, until jimin loses his password after setting it to something ridiculously long. he knows he’s written it down somewhere, but he can’t find the paper it’s written on.

he tries requesting a password change, but he realises soon enough that the email it’s linked to is no longer accessible, because he’s also lost the password to that one and he doesn’t have a backup email attached to it.

after trying and failing to guess his password and trying and failing to find wherever he stored the scrap of paper with the password on it, his next move is contacting support. he tells them what happened, but they can’t help him any further, since he has no way of proving it’s his account. he’s on his own.

this all happens while he’s in the middle of exams. he doesn’t have a lot of time, and his parents won’t let him go to the pc bang very often because they know it’s too distracting.

even then, going to the pc bang is useless. he can make a new account, but how will he ever find taehyung again? when they’d started levelling up together, they also changed servers to one that’s locked behind an experience wall. there’s no way for jimin to contact taehyung outside of it, either; the only way to find people is to be on the same server.

he tries for some time, but he starts going to high school and things get more hectic, and taehyung is pushed to the very back of his mind. he thinks back on him sometimes, worrying taehyung will think jimin stopped wanting to hang out with him.

even those thoughts stop after a while, though. jimin is busy growing up, too busy worrying about his future to think about anything else. when he randomly thinks about taehyung every once in a while, he just thinks back sadly but fondly and wonders what’s become of his old in-game husband. would taehyung miss him, too?

just like that, chimmy and tete stop levelling up together.

 

taehyung wonders where jimin’s gone. while he’s busy with school, while he knows jimin must be busy, too, he does note jimin’s absence.

it’s weird, jimin wouldn’t ever disappear for this long without telling taehyung where he went, but there’s nothing taehyung can do. all he can do is wait and check jimin’s profile to see whether his last logged in stat has changed.

it does; it changes all the time. it goes from a day ago to three days ago to two weeks ago to six months ago to…

at some point, taehyung knows there are only two explanations for jimin’s disappearance: either something grave happened to him, or he simply wanted to ditch taehyung and move on. maybe he got tired of paying with taehyung. was that it?

since taehyung doesn’t want to explore the first option, he sticks with the second one. jimin simply doesn’t want to play with him anymore, jimin got sick of taehyung. he would’ve left a message otherwise, wouldn’t he? if he was just busy with school, he would’ve said something.

taehyung starts logging in less, because his chest starts feeling tight whenever he does. he misses jimin so violently that he has a hard time not bursting into tears in the pc bang.

it gets to a point where taehyung only logs in to see if jimin’s made a reappearance and to send him messages. he starts using jimin’s inbox as a diary of sorts; telling him all about taehyung’s life, whenever he needs someone to talk to.

jimin is the first person he shares his doubts about his sexuality with. and then jimin is also the first person who he shares the fact that he’s gay with.

taehyung tells jimin about his first kiss with a boy, and he tells jimin about his own doubts, that being gay scares him but that he realises he can’t do much about it. once taehyung finally learns to accept his sexuality, jimin is also the first he tells.

the years pass by and taehyung’s messages dwindle in frequency, but he does log in often enough to hold a one-sided conversation with jimin. he tells him how high school is going, and then he tells him he’s passed all of his exams, and he even tells jimin that he’s moving out and going to university only because his parents want him to have something to fall back on.

jimin-ah, taehyung writes, the evening before he’s supposed to get on the bus and leave his hometown. i know it’s risky not to start looking for a part-time job, but streaming is going really well for me these days. i think it’s all because of you, you know? levelling up with you made me realise how rewarding gaming can be, and i carried that with me throughout the years.

people like watching me game. do you think it’s because they can feel a little bit rewarded through watching me? i hope so. i hope watching me play and talking with me through chat gives them a nice space to exist in for a little bit.

i know it’s not the same thing, but you were that person for me. playing with you and chatting with you was that nice place for me and i’m grateful i got to experience it, even if i did never find out why you left.

this isn’t a goodbye. it’s just that i’m finally leaving my old room behind and i’m getting kind of sentimental, haha

talk to you later, chimmy

 

taehyung hasn’t logged in for about half a year when someone in chat asks him about old mmorpgs and whether he played any when he was younger. the viewer specifically asks after the game. jimin and taehyung’s game. the question makes him grin wide, a boxy grin on his face that he knows his viewers love.

“did i?” he asks with a laugh. he leans back in his chair for a bit, smile distant but happy as he thinks back. “yeah, totally! that game was sick for its time! it’s how i got into gaming in the first place. did i never talk about it?”

he stretches his arms above his head and leans one of them on his head, body feeling strung out after streaming for five hours without getting up for more than a few minutes at a time. still, he’s having fun and doesn’t want to leave just yet. he’s already stopped playing, but promised everyone he’d stay around for another few minutes to chat.

“i sunk so many hours into that game,” taehyung says. he shakes his head while he thinks back, remembering all the hours spent at the pc bang, feeling sticky and hot as he went back home, wondering which excuse to use when his parents would undoubtedly ask him why he hadn’t gone to study at the library like he was supposed to.

he’s quiet for a moment while he scans the chat, only to shake his head again when someone asks him about guilds and whether he was in one of the popular ones; the ones that were notoriously hard to get into.

“i wasn’t! never tried to get in, actually.”

so how did you level up then? taehyung reads.

he laughs softly as he thinks back. his smile disappears for a moment, but then it comes back when he thinks about jimin again. how is his old in-game husband faring? taehyung hopes he’s doing alright. “i got married, actually.”

the chat explodes with stupid jokes, as he expects it to, and he laughs again. “user chimmy01234, if you’re out there somewhere… hit me up. let’s play a game together again, hm? we made pretty good husbands, i think.” he winks.

and on that bombshell, taehyung salutes them, blows a kiss to the camera and leaves. he turns around in his chair, getting up to stretch and yawn and jump up and down a little to get some blood flowing.

jimin. i wonder how he’s doing.

taehyung hasn’t thought about him in a while. over the years, he’d still think of him randomly and even log in at times to send him a message and see the last seen stat only go up every year or so. he’d been about fifteen when jimin disappeared, and he’s twenty-four now, so how many years would… ?

would it read nine years ago now?

maybe he should check. he’s interested to see how long it’s been. maybe… maybe… taehyung doesn’t explore that maybe. he has done so in the past—many times actually—and he knows it’s futile by now. jimin’s not coming back. maybe jimin will have responded is no longer an actual option in his mind; it’s just something he’s entertained more than he should have.

still, when taehyung plops back down into his chair and finds the old game client on his pc. it’s outdated and asks him to run updates, before he can open it and begin playing. while he waits, he feels a little nervous. he’s never getting rid of that what if. it’s been ingrained into him by now and he knows it’s there to stay. jimin had left a permanent mark on him, whether taehyung likes it or not.

still, it’s strange for him to feel so nervous after all the years it’s been. he doesn’t attempt to figure out why exactly he feels that way, but it’s still hard to ignore, hard to pretend he’s feeling absolutely fine.

last seen nine years ago.

taehyung sighs. he sinks back into his chair and wonders why he still had some hope it’d be different this time.

shaking his head, he clicks on the little envelope next to jimin’s avatar—an anonymous user picture by now, which had happened somewhere after the devs had made the first of many major changes to the platform. taehyung misses the cute cartoon drawing of a baby chick jimin used to have as his profile picture.

when taehyung’s fingers hover over the keyboard, he thinks about what to write. it’s been a while since he’s sent anything to jimin, and by now he wonders what there’s left to say. what’s the point anymore? why does taehyung still keep his old account, when he hasn’t actually played in years? what’s the point?

jimin, taehyung begins, only to erase it and change it to chimmy, instead.

as he continues typing, the idea begins forming. he decides to write it down immediately, afraid he’ll change his mind if he doesn’t put it in writing somehow. hey

taehyung sucks in a breath. when he pushes it back out, it comes out in a shaky sigh. his hands tremble, too, stupidly. just letting you know i’m deactivating my account today. the game honestly hasn’t been fun for years now. maybe part of me was stuck here hoping you’d come back one day and we could chat like we used to.

he pulls his hands back for a moment, balling one hand to a fist and wrapping his other one around it while he pushes out another shaky sigh. he feels hot and shivery, heart beating in his throat, blood rushing through his ears.

he knows it’s a disproportionate reaction, but he can’t help it. this is jimin he’s saying goodbye to. finally, after nine whole years. it’s just… very tough. taehyung feels like he’s cutting a limb off.

granted, one he hasn’t used in years. maybe it’s a dead one, whose weight he’s just been carrying behind him for years now, but still. taehyung feels seconds away from crying.

i guess i’ll never know why you left. did your parents end up banning you from going to the pc bang? did you forget your password? did you get bored of the game?

when taehyung pulls a hand off his keyboard again and rubs his eye, it comes back wet. he stares down at his finger, rubbing another one over it while he tries to approach the situation as clinically as possible.

it’s impossible. taehyung can’t do clinical; never has been able to.

did you… he closes his eyes now, while he continues typing blindly, as quickly as possible to get it over with. get bored of me?

i worry that something happened to you, and that’s why you disappeared so suddenly. but i know it’s far more likely that you just moved on and didn’t feel the need to tell me since we never even met in person

even now, taehyung doesn’t feel bitter about it. he just feels sad. he just feels so sad, after all these fucking years.

i hope wherever you are, you’re doing well now. i really do

tete

through his tears, taehyung sends the message and immediately navigates to his user settings. it takes some scrolling, but there, at the very bottom of the page in red, bold letters, is the option to permanently delete his account.

he hovers over the button with his mouse, finger lifted and ready to click.

it’s irreversible. if he does this, taehyung makes sure he’ll never, ever, ever get a chance to speak to jimin again. there’s no way back if he does this.

he clicks, and a new window pops up to ask him if he’s sure he wants to go through with this action. he stares at the window, at the red confirm button taunting him.

with a harsh shudder, taehyung clicks cancel and logs out as quickly as possible and shuts his pc off.

tomorrow. taehyung will give it a night, and then he’ll do it. tomorrow he’ll sever ties.

 

it’s by a stroke of luck that an old folder of stuff he hasn’t seen in years decides to slide out of his hand and come apart right in front of his eyes.

jimin’s been cleaning his place, getting rid of old stuff he’d brought with him to seoul because he thought they still held sentimental value to him, only to realise now that he has absolutely zero clue what any of it is.

it’s high time he gets rid of some old stuff, and what better place to start than with a box he hasn’t opened since middle school?

rummaging through it now, he doesn’t even remember why he kept it around. it’s just junk; papers and small notebooks and random drawings and whatnot. it’s just been collecting dust in his apartment and clogging up space. he has some free time, so it’s the perfect opportunity to do something about it.

the folder he drops holds a lot of old pictures. he sees the first fluttering down and cringes in embarrassment as he gets a good look at middle school jimin. there are so many embarrassing selfies staring up at him that he doesn’t know where to look.

he sinks to his knees and begins picking up picture after picture, barely glancing down at them and trying to get them together as quickly as possible to get over the horrifying ordeal of being confronted with your younger self.

it’s when he drops a picture he’s just picked up that he notices something scribbled on the back. something long and nonsensical. at first glance it looks to be a random string of letters, but when he takes a closer look he sees something he recognises instantly in it: tete.

“wait…” jimin blinks. “that’s my password. that’s my password? that’s my password!”

he stares down at it for some time, before he quickly gets up and stalks over to his laptop. it should run on it, right? jimin should be able to open the game and log in. he should be able to download and install the client and run it, right? his laptop is decent enough for it.

if his accounts still exists, that is. he’s not sure that it does, but he can try. it’s worth a shot.

 

he gets the password wrong on the first two tries, because his hands are shaking from nerves. why he’s nervous, however, he doesn’t really know. it’s just a game. he’s just logging in for the first time in years and he doesn’t know if his old friend that he’d accidentally abandoned is still around. jimin feels silly, but he can’t help it. he just feels nervous and giddy and afraid all at the same time.

the game has changed a lot since he’s last attempted to log in. it looks a lot more modern now and the interface is way easier to use than he remembers.

the first thing he sees when he finally succeeds at logging in is a notification about changes to the game. he clicks it away, only for another to pop up. and another. and another.

there are about five notifications, before his character screen finally appears.

his character has changed a little, it’s wearing a lot less accessories and it looks like he’s wearing a default skin. a lot of his things have reset to default, but jimin doesn’t really care about any of that. what he cares about is the notification that pops up to inform him that

you have 348 unread messages

“348?” jimin whispers. “taehyung?”

he’s a little shocked when he opens his inbox to see row upon row upon row of tete95 sent you a message!

jimin goes all the way back to the first page to check the latest message. it’s been sent less than an hour ago. “all this time? you never forgot about me?” he asks, feeling incredibly guilty and sad.

he decides to click on the latest message first, after he sees that there’s a gap of a few months between the last two messages. he’ll read the others ones later—he should see what taehyung has to say first, before he dives into the rest.

he’s shaking by the time he finishes reading it. he has no idea why he feels hot all over, trembling, nervous and panicky. rather than read the other messages, he quickly hits reply. taehyung’s account is still there, maybe he can catch him before he deactivates it altogether. he takes a deep breath before he starts typing, trying to make his message as calm and non-panicky as possible.

tete!!! i found the password for my account scrawled on the back of THE MOST EMBARRASSING MIDDLE SCHOOL SELFIE. what are the chances?? logged in just now for the first time in years!

so, funny story about my disappearance… do you remember when i was convinced i was getting hacked? i changed my password to something ridiculously long and then lost the paper i wrote it on T^T

i sent hundreds of password reset requests, but they never went through because i didn’t have a backup account linked. it was so frustrating!!

jimin stops typing for a moment, sighing out slowly and waiting for his racing heart to slow down. there’s no reason for him to feel as nervous as he does. it’s just an old in-game friend. they haven’t spoken in years. their friendship meant a lot to jimin at the time, but they haven’t spoken in so long that it shouldn’t mean anything to him anymore.

right?

please tell me you’re going to see this… i’ve been trying to contact you for years and it would really, really suck if you quit barely an hour ago? without leaving me any way to contact you??? >:(

he scans the message he’s written so far, wondering what else to say. there’s a lot he wants to say, but he doesn’t know how to word it right now. for now, this’ll have to do.

i missed you a lot

jimin

once he presses send, he leans back with a heavy sigh. his heart is still racing and his hands feel sweaty, all because of this one message, and the 347 unread ones looming over him.

maybe he should go read them.

 

once jimin feels sufficiently calmed down, he finds the oldest unread message and starts reading from there.

he reads about taehyung’s grades and how he barely graduated middle school, how he looked forward to starting high school and that his parents reprimanded him the day before starting high school for staying at the pc bang for too long.

jimin laughs fondly when he reads of taehyung’s first kiss, and feels for him when he reads the next messages where poor taehyung goes through the five stages of grief while he tries to figure out his sexuality.

he’s relieved and happy when it ends with a very short message that reads: yeah so i’m gay haha and then an incredibly long one right after that goes into more detail and bares all his insecurities and fears and excitement and confusion to jimin.

at no point does taehyung seem hesitant to tell jimin of his sexuality. he doesn’t wonder whether jimin will accept him, he just expects him to, which jimin is massively relieved by. even if he couldn’t be there in real time for him, at least he was there in spirit. at least taehyung had someone to confide in without holding back.

jimin continues to read as taehyung graduates high school, all while steadily working on his career as a professional gamer. he’s impressed that taehyung’s managed to keep both his grades and his career up, and he’s proud when he reads the message where taehyung tells him he’s moving out and venturing into the big city to keep pursuing his interests.

there are sad messages, and there are happy messages. there are some that only speculate about jimin’s whereabouts, whereas others read as though jimin’s never disappeared.

jimin laughs along to a lot of messages, although there are some that just make him sigh fondly, and others that make him cry like a baby. sweet, honest taehyung, incapable of being anyone but himself. jimin has missed him so much.

he reads for hours on end, and yet it feels like only five minutes have passed before he reaches the end. all three hundred and forty eight messages read. he’s gotten a speed through of taehyung’s life, but it’s not enough. jimin wants more.

he sets down his laptop on the coffee table and leans back, pulling his feet up onto the couch and pressing his forehead against his knees. he wraps his arms around his legs and starts crying uncontrollably.

 

it takes a lot longer this time to calm down, face red and wet and snotty. he lowers his feet again and lifts the laptop back into his lap, opening up the last message taehyung sent him again and hitting reply again. it feels right to say something after everything he’s read.

taehyung-ah

i’ve spent the last… i don’t know how long… reading everything you’ve sent me, getting caught up on your life, wishing i’d never lost my stupid password so that i wouldn’t have had to be here catching up. i wish more than anything that i could have been there for you these past nine years. i would’ve liked to be by your side, instead of here, looking back on everything when it’s already too late.

i also wish we could have met in person. just once. i would’ve liked to see your face while talking to you. i think that would’ve been amazing, but alas.

i won’t bore you with the details of my life, but i’m doing well. i’m studying and dancing and trying to live life to my best ability.

thank you so much for asking for a quest buddy all those years ago. i’m so grateful to have met you and, even if we didn’t talk for as long as the time we’ve spent apart, meeting you was one of the best things that could’ve happened to me. thank you for being there, thank you for being you and thank you for wanting to be friends with me.

i’ve missed you so much over the last few years, and getting to read all of the messages you’ve sent has reminded me of how valuable our friendship was to me. i’m glad you’re doing okay. i’m sorry that you struggled with your sexuality and that i couldn’t be there for you in person, but i’m immensely proud of you for pushing through everything.

i’m proud of you, taehyung. i’m so proud of you. and i know i’ll be proud of wherever you go in life next.

thank you for being my friend.

jimin

he stares at the message he’s typed up, ready to send it, only to change his mind and add a quick p.s. if you do happen to log in again to deactivate your account and you’d like to reach me, here’s my kakaotalk

jimin knows it’s a long shot, but he has to try. if there’s even a small possibility that taehyung might log in again and read his message, as well as want to talk to jimin again, then he has to try. he has to try.

finally, he presses send. he stares at his screen for a moment, feeling nervous, excited, but also exhausted after the emotional rollercoaster he’s gone through.

he exits the game, shuts his laptop off and decides to go to bed. who knows? maybe there will be a response when he wakes up next.

 

taehyung wakes up with an immense feeling of dread in his stomach. he lies staring up at his ceiling, sighing softly every once in a while and trying to find the courage to sit up and get out of bed.

he knows why he feels this way. and he also knows what he can do to get rid of the awful feeling; he just has to get up, log in, and delete his account. the sooner he gets it done, the better. he doesn’t want to wait around for jimin to come back anymore. after nine years of staying hopeful, taehyung knows it’s time to move on.

he brushes his teeth first, but standing in front of his mirror is awful. he keeps looking at himself, at the frown between his brows and the dark circles under his eyes from the little sleeping he’s done. he hates how sad he looks—all because of a stupid game.

walking back out of his bathroom and into his study to sit behind his computer and start it up is a nerve-wracking process. waiting for it to finish starting up, and then waiting for the game’s client to open, and then waiting for the game to actually start up is even worse.

he almost doesn’t log in. he doesn’t want to. what if he just leaves his account up forever so that it lives on together with jimin’s abandoned one? can’t they just abandon their accounts together?

taehyung knows it’s not going to work. he’s going to keep logging in to see if jimin’s returned.

sure, maybe he only logs in every few months, but the nerves that run rampant and the lingering sadness he feels for at least a full week after he’s logged in aren’t healthy. the only way for him to properly let go is to take away all his access to the game, and the only way to do that is to delete his account altogether.

as soon as he’s logged in, taehyung moves to click on the settings tab right away. he’s already there, cursor hovering over the button, when he sees a small balloon hovering right over his inbox to tell him he has two new messages.

the unread messages make him pause. they’re probably just notifications. updates made to the game, or information about upcoming events. the amount of times taehyung’s gotten his hopes up because of messages like those is too much to count.

but still. he should check, right? just one last time. he can make sure once and for all then and finally move on.

“jimin?” taehyung whispers, when he opens up his inbox to find two replies. two messages. from jimin, sent last night. jimin had responded to him after nine years.

jimin.

for a moment, all taehyung can do is stare and wonder whether he’s hallucinating. has he hoped so hard that he’s seeing things now? there’s no way jimin’s actually responded.

upon opening the first of them, however, he realises it’s true. jimin has responded to him. jimin’s finally responded to him.

he reads the message, heart hammering against his ribs while he does so.

he rereads it and rubs his eyes.

he rereads it again and nearly forgets to breathe.

once he’s read it a fourth time, he moves on to the next message. it was sent a few hours after the first one, and it reads very differently. this one’s a lot more emotional and calm and loving.

despite the years that have passed, it looks as though jimin hasn’t changed much. he’s still the same old jimin taehyung knows from way back when.

after reading the message, he just stares at the very bottom of it. jimin’s kakaotalk glares back at him, to the point where it makes taehyung feel kind of shy.

jimin offered him a direct link to him. an easy way to talk to him. jimin never got bored of taehyung. jimin wants to talk to taehyung; he’d never meant to abandon him.

when taehyung goes to get his phone to send jimin a message, he feels the heat rise to his cheeks, hands clammy, nervous once more. it feels silly to feel this way, but he can’t help himself. after nine years of waiting, the moment he’s dreamed of for so long has finally come.

hey, he types, once he finds jimin’s account. it’s me. taehyung

 

like taehyung, when jimin first wakes up, he spends a good amount of time just staring up at his ceiling. a similar kind of dread is making a home inside of his gut while he wonders whether taehyung’s already deleted his account.

maybe deactivating your account takes some time? maybe he’d already deactivated it when jimin had sent those messages and his attempt has been useless?

it feels silly to be so affected by this, when they’ve never even met in person. they only know each other from playing an online game. it shouldn’t be this serious. and yet, at twenty-five years old, jimin feels as though hundreds of tiny butterflies are flapping up a storm right inside of him. in his chest and in his gut, in his throat… the nerves thrum through him with an energy that he normally doesn’t possess in the morning.

what’s wrong with him?

after some more staring, jimin sits up. he swings his legs out of bed and sits and stares at his feet. should he check the game now? maybe taehyung’s account will be gone. maybe jimin will delete his account then, too. he should go check.

he doesn’t get up just yet, though. he makes a grab for his phone first and looks at it to see whether he has any notifications. he’ll just check his phone and buy some time; it sounds like an excellent idea.

it’s when he picks up his phone and the screen lights up that he sees a notification.

hey, it’s m

jimin slaps his hand over his mouth. he lets himself fall back onto his bed, body bouncing on his mattress. he keeps his hand extended, phone over his face so that he can look at the notification and read the words again.

hey, it’s me. taehyung

taehyung

it’s me. taehyung

jimin kicks his feet and laughs loudly, happily, as he clutches the phone to his chest. he rolls to the side from all the thrashing he does, hand and phone resting against the covers as he pulls it away from his chest again and looks at the notification once more.

hey, it’s me. taehyung

 

after jimin’s managed to contain his excitement long enough to sit up, he opens up the chat and stares at the text bubble for a bit, before he types back a hey, tete

he doesn’t think he’ll get back a reply quickly, so he’s fully ready to throw his phone on the bed and get up and get on with his day as casually as possible, as though nothing out of the ordinary has happened. that way, maybe he won’t be so focused on taehyung and the wait won’t drive him insane.

as it turns out, though, he doesn’t even have to do that. before he can throw his phone down, he already has a reply back: chimmy!

me
hi!! taehyung!!

tete
it’s you!
it’s really you
it’s you??

me
^.^

tete
i didn’t think i’d ever get to talk to you again
i can’t believe this
i was so sure i was dreaming this morning when i logged in and saw you’d replied
i’m still not sure i’m not dreaming

me
you’re awake. i promise. it’s real and i’m here!
i’m so sorry for losing my password
i should’ve tried harder to find you again

tete
it’s okay
it’s not your fault
i’m just really happy that we’re able to talk like this
i just never imagined
like
after nine years
nine years!!

me
yeah :(
it’s been so long
almost a decade
we’re in our mid-twenties now :o getting old

tete
yeah haha but rest assured, i aged like fine wine

me
>:(
yeah, i figured
from all your messages, it sounds like you figured things out
it sounds like you’re doing really well these days

tete
yeah. i am
i’m doing well

me
i’m really glad to hear that
i’m so glad to hear you’re doing well

tete
hm
but i’m doing even better now that we’re talking again haha
how are you? you said you were dancing and studying?
separately?

me
separately, yeah

tete
i thought you were gonna become a dancer?

me
that was the plan haha

tete
what happened??

jimin bites the inside of his cheek while he stares down at his screen. of course, catching taehyung up to speed means he’s going to have to talk about certain things. things he’s okay with now. sort of. but still; he hasn’t talked about these things in a while, which makes it a little harder.

tete
oh
wait
i’m sorry you don’t have to answer it if it’s a sore subject!!
sorry i’m just
you know all about me but i don’t know what you’ve been up to this past decade

me
no! it’s okay
things happened. i got injured
i recovered, but it took a while. by the time i recovered i was already behind on my peers and, on top of that, i was advised against trying to pursue dance professionally. too taxing on my body
risk of injury reappearing

tete
i’m really sorry to hear that jimin-ah :(

me
it’s okay! i’m doing maths now and i’m good at it and enjoy it
i do dance in my free time. i teach little ones and dance with a group of friends
it really sucked at the time and it wasn’t very easy to accept but i like it now. dance is a lot more relaxing for me now than it used to be. it no longer provides me any stress, it’s now my stress reliever :)
idk i think that’s worth something

tete
it is! i’m really glad to hear that
still, i’m sorry you had to go through that
whenever you talked about your future it was always about dance, you know?

me
yeah. i mean, it still is
just no longer professionally. unless you count teaching i guess, which is something i really like doing
enough about me, though!!

tete
noooo :(
tell me more tell me more
what do u like to do in ur spare time
do u still game
did u marry someone else in a different game
say no or i will cry >:(
are u still in busan?
are you
uhhhhh

me
uhh?

tete
i’m trying to think of more questions but there are just too many to ask. i don’t know where to start

me
don’t worry
i’m not going anywhere
you have time

tete
:3

me
you’re my one and only in-game husband, by the way. i promise

they talk. and they talk. and they talk.

for a while, it’s mostly jimin giving taehyung a crash course of his life. he talks about moving to seoul for university, he talks about the friends he dances with, how he started teaching dance classes at a school close to where he lives. after a while, he even goes a little more into detail about his past-injuries that forced him to stop pursuing dance in the way he was trying to before.

he doesn’t tell taehyung everything about that period of time, but he does tell him a lot. because it’s taehyung, and jimin can tell taehyung anything. talking to taehyung is like talking to himself.

they move back over to taehyung after a while, once he finally allows jimin to ask questions.

taehyung talks about what he does now and is absolutely endeared by jimin’s enthusiasm over the fact that he’s able to do what he’s always wanted to do.

they talk, and they talk, and they talk some more. they talk the entire day, about everything and nothing. there’s a lot to talk about, a lot to catch up on. they don’t even have to try to catch up. it comes naturally; they’ve always done this.

talking to each other is still, even after a decade, second nature to them. they may have grown older, they may have changed, but they haven’t really changed. at their cores, they’re still just chimmy and tete.

 

jimin and taehyung continue texting from morning until well into the night for a week straight. they don’t get fully caught up on each other’s life, a week isn’t enough to cover nine whole years, but they do get very close.

they’re happy to have reconnected and, for the most part, it’s as though they never stopped talking in the first place. the only thing that’s changed is that they’re not inside of a game, but that doesn’t really change anything.

on the contrary, knowing they can still easily reconnect without the game that’s brought them together in the first place is proof that their connection wasn’t dependent on it. outside of it, they can still be friends.

it’s after about a week that jimin asks more after taehyung’s streaming. they’ve talked a lot about jimin so far, and jimin knows a little about what taehyung does, but they haven’t really talked about it yet.

after taehyung explains, he sends a link to where jimin can find him and tells him, with a winky face, that he can find out what taehyung looks like if he wants.

as tempting as the offer is, jimin would much rather they exchange pictures. when he suggests it, taehyung doesn’t respond for a few minutes, to the point where jimin thinks he’s crossed a line and that he should apologise and tell taehyung they don’t have to do anything of the sort. maybe it was a stupid idea, anyway.

what he doesn’t know is that taehyung’s stopped responding because he’s on the other side of the conversation, on his bed, rolling around and kicking his feet and slapping his hands on the bed because it’s the only thing he can do. he’s incapable of handling the idea that, finally, after so fucking long, he’ll be able to see what jimin looks like. he can’t believe it. he feels so excited that he’s beside himself.

before jimin can backtrack, taehyung manages to compose himself to send a reply with shaky hands.

me
you don’t know how curious i’ve been to see what u look like
i would sometimes dream of u but ur face was always hidden it was so tragic

jimimimini
you dreamed of me????
;-;

me
was that weird to say
that was weird to say
but yes i did dream of u
anyway
show u mine and u show me urs?
:)

jimimimini
yes!!
maybe it was weird but i like knowing that i was at least with you in your dreams

me
ur so sweet

they swap pictures and there’s some silence after that.

on both sides, they’re just staring at their phones, pictures open, two fingers on the screen to zoom in and confirm, with sickening clarity, that their in-game husband is extremely fucking hot. what the fuck.

me
you are????
so???
?
are u an angel did i die or something
i’ve never met a more beautiful person in my entire life

jimimimini
no you??
why do you look like that!!

me
like what?

jimimimini
like that
you’re gorgeous
that’s illegal

me
that’s my line. take that back
i was complimenting u not the other way around

they go back and forth complimenting each other, conversation turning almost aggressive as they try to outdo one other. in the end, they both come out of it as the loser and the winner.

they win because they get to compliment each other and because they get to ignore the fact that they’re blushing heavily, unable to handle being gassed up.

and they lose because they can’t outdo each other and they’re blushing heavily, unable to handle being gassed up.

neither of them truly understands why they feel the way they do. they’ve received compliments before and been able to handle them without breaking down. there should be no trouble now, since it’s just some friendly complimenting.

sure, they think the other person is extremely hot, but that doesn’t have to mean anything. lots of people are hot. it happens. it’s not like they have a crush, or anything.

it’s not like their middle school crush came back, or anything.

not at all.

 

messaging back and forth becomes calling one day, when taehyung asks if jimin’s watched one of taehyung’s streams yet. he doesn’t care about gaining jimin as a viewer. he’d just like for jimin to see him. he’d like for jimin to hear his voice and see him move and behave like a real person, and not like a pixelated character in a video game.

jimin tells him he still hasn’t and, when prompted, says there’s something he’d like to do before he tunes in to one of taehyung’s streams.

me
i want to hear your voice first
not a recording
would you be up to call me some time?
only if you want to, of course!
just
i think

tete
when do u have time? is it too late right now?

me
i’m in bed, but i’m just lounging. not tired yet

tete
oh
ur in bed?

since jimin can practically already see the flirty show me ;), he decides to beat taehyung to it and extends his arm, holding his phone up until the camera is angled at his face and part of his chest.

he’s wearing a white t-shirt and he’s half under the covers, so this is completely innocent, but it just feels like he’s doing something daring. it makes no sense, he knows that, but it still feels a little exciting. it’s almost like he’s doing all of this for the first time.

doing what for the first time? the thought makes him pause. why would there be anything more to sending taehyung a selfie of him lying in bed? there’s nothing behind it. it’s just a selfie.

once he’s sent it, he quickly resumes typing and tries to will down the flush to his cheeks.

me
so

tete
so
audio chat?

me
:)
yes

there’s a silence when jimin picks up first. he holds his breath while he hears rustling, and then the clearing of a throat, and then—

hey.”

taehyung’s voice is deep and rich and a little gravelly, but not because it’s over the phone; his voice probably just sounds a little rough on its own. jimin is really into it.

“hi.”

they’re silent again after that, both just marvelling over the fact that they’re able to hear each other like this. how many stars in the universe have had to align for this moment right here to happen?

there’s some more quiet, but then taehyung speaks again:

i thought i’d follow your lead. i got into bed, too. i hope i don’t fall asleep to your voice. it’s nice enough to lull me to sleep, i think.” he laughs once he’s spoken, and jimin feels something in his gut twist and flutter. jimin tries to ignore it for the time being.

“how would you know?” he asks, laughing softly, too. “i only said one word.”

sure, but it sounded really nice. i really like your voice.

“i like yours, too.”

taehyung hums. since jimin’s put his phone down on his pillow, right next to his head, he hears it reverberate deeply even over the mildly tinny speaker of his phone. “you looked really cute and comfortable in your pic, jimin-ah.

jimin’s really glad there’s no camera involved, so that taehyung can’t see the way his cheeks colour a deep red. “the, uh… yeah, the bed is really comfy.”

taehyung laughs. it sounds like music to jimin’s stupid ears. “yeah? i guess i’ll have to find that out for myself, hm?

while the comment is super flirty and definitely throws jimin off, the directness of it is enough to break the ice. they fall into easy, comfortable conversation while they’re both in bed, getting sleepier by the minute, until they eventually have to say goodbye because they’re both threatening to nod off.

they go to sleep with twin smiles on their faces.

 

they continue to text, and the frequency of their calls grows, as they grow more and more comfortable around each other. they’ve managed to find their way back to the level of comfort from nine years ago, and then they’ve shot past it entirely to find a whole new level of comfort that they could’ve found only in adulthood.

they talk about everything and nothing. at some point they stop needing to catch up, and it just becomes talking for the sake of talking. they talk about their day and then they talk about the most inconsequential stuff they can think of.

at the end of the day, the subject of their conversation seems to matter less than just getting to talk to each other. that’s what’s most important to them.

 

they’re back in bed, on the phone with each other, about two hours in, when the topic of relationships comes up.

they’ve avoided the subject a little, even if they don’t want to admit it. admitting it would mean they have to analyse why they’re so hesitant to talk about it. they’d have to look at themselves in the mirror when they don’t really feel like being confronted with themselves just yet.

so they ignore it, until their conversation leads over to it one day.

since they’re relaxed, neither makes a move to steer clear of the subject. they know it’s coming, but they let it happen because they know it’s inevitable. it would’ve come up sooner or later, and they’re in a good mood now, so maybe this is the best time to bring it up.

“you know,” jimin says. “i already said i read all your messages, but i just wanna say again… i read it all and i’m really proud of you for figuring it out on your own. that must’ve been hard.”

taehyung just hums. he’s silent for a bit, before he speaks again. “that was… a time,” he laughs. “i struggled a lot. it wasn’t fun. i didn’t really understand myself and thought maybe there was something wrong with me. i… i don’t know. i’ve compared experiences with some of my friends and learned that some people just… they just know. they’ve always kind of known. hearing that made me really envious, because for the longest time i just didn’t understand what was going on.

i definitely haven’t always known, so it was difficult.

jimin wishes with all his might that he could there with taehyung right now to hug him, or that he could go back in time to hug him, or to give his stupid password to his younger self and make sure taehyung had someone to actually confide in.

“i wish i could’ve been there for you at the time. i know this may not mean as much after everything’s already gone down, but i really am proud of you. i’m happy you managed to figure it out.”

it still means a lot coming from you now. thank you.

there’s some comfortable silence. jimin’s smiling at nothing in particular, feeling happy and content for no discernible reason. taehyung’s in a similar boat, grinning dopily while he basks in the fact that jimin’s so accepting and encouraging; how did he get so lucky to meet such a warm person?

“you know,” jimin begins, “if it makes you feel better, it wasn’t easy for me, either. to this day, i’m still not entirely sure about my own sexuality.”

oh, you’re… ?

“bisexual,” jimin fills in. “but i lean so heavily toward men that, for the longest time, i just thought i was a fake bisexual for having such a heavy lean. kind of… thought i was scared of being gay, i guess. i called myself gay for a while, until i realised that it wasn’t who i am. i am still attracted to women; just not as much as i am to men.”

sexuality sucks… it’s just unnecessarily complicated. how are we supposed to just know all these things? we don’t even get a manual when we’re born; we’re just supposed to figure it all out ourselves?” taehyung snorts.

jimin laughs softly.

anyway,” taehyung sighs. “it’s good to know we’re both into men.”

“really? how so?” jimin asks.

taehyung doesn’t say anything for a while. jimin waits, holding his breath and feeling silly for doing so. when had the mood of the conversation become so heavy? it’d gone from lighthearted to, to… to what?

it just is,” taehyung finally says. he chuckles softly, before he abruptly changes the subject, and they move onto something else.

 

knowing they’re both into men opens up the floodgate for some heavy, heavy examining.

for the first time, they both take a step back from their friendship to actually look at it and wonder about some things they’ve previously steered clear of. particularly, the feelings part.

has their friendship always just been a friendship? is there a potential for more? has it always been leaning toward more?

since it feels weird to think about any of that—they were in-game husbands, but that doesn’t mean shit—they don’t bring it up to each other, but they do wonder about it. how does the other person feel? how do they themselves feel?

they don’t know.

 

making the leap from audio to video calling is quite a small one. they’ve already seen what the other person looks like and they’re getting intimately familiar with each other’s voice—their calls usually last so long that it’s hard not to get familiar with it—so taking it one step further is as easy as taehyung going, with amusement in his voice:

“hey, wanna see me do a horrendous job at cooking?”

and jimin responding, with an equally as amused voice:

yeah! i’ll do it on my end, too. we can screw up together!

and so they switch to a video call and the first minute of it is sort of awkward while they stare at each other in poorly hidden wonder. they loosen up quickly after that and give each other a space on their counter and begin the process of talking and cooking and doing a surprisingly decent job at both.

that first video call is easy, in a way, because they’re standing a little ways away from the camera and they’re busy with something other than talking to each other.

subsequent video calls, however, turn out to be just as easy. the awkwardness doesn’t ever return; they talk to each other like they would to an old friend, which they kind of are, in a way.

jimin still feels mildly guilty for how things went down. he tells taehyung so on multiple occasions, only to be told that he’s been forgiven and that taehyung probably had it better than jimin during these years spent apart.

“better?” jimin questions, eyes narrowed in skepticism. “how so?”

“well,” taehyung grins. when he does, his mouth goes all wide and boxy and jimin has embarrassingly quickly fallen in love with his smile. “you may not have responded, but i still got to talk to you. sending you those messages felt like i was really talking to you. at least, that’s what i told myself, you know? i kept telling myself you were really there on the other side, because i didn’t really want to think about the alternatives.”

“what were the alternatives?”

taehyung bites the inside of his cheek. he looks to the side, off-camera, to buy himself some time. “there were two options, basically. well, no, three. either you stopped being interested in the game, you got bored of me, or… or something happened to you.”

“the first option on its own seemed very unlikely, because you would’ve told me, so that only left option two and three,” he continues, sighing softly. “either you didn’t care about me, or you were… or something had happened to you. i didn’t really want to think about either, so i just stopped thinking about it and pretended you’d never left. it was easier that way.”

jimin can’t help but pout. he feels awful. he always has, but reconnecting with taehyung and hearing what he’d always tried not to think about because there was nothing he could do about it makes him feel even worse. “i really am sorry. i wish i’d tried harder. maybe if i—”

“jimin-ah,” taehyung interrupts him softly. he’s smiling lightly and making sure to actually look jimin in the eye. “it’s okay. it’s okay. i promise. you’re here now. i’m just so, so grateful to have you back. it wasn’t your fault, and i’m sure you tried as hard as you could. thank you for trying, hm?”

jimin just nods sadly and is immensely relieved when taehyung very smoothly changes the subject.

 

the crushes that they’re not yet fully aware of keep growing the more they talk, the more they see each other’s faces and hear each other’s voices.

jimin finally tunes in for the first time to one of taehyung’s streams just to witness him flush a scarlet red and bumble his way through a hacked-together sentence when someone asks after his in-game husband, and if he’s found him yet.

he laughs, wondering what the chances are of him having decided to tune into this particular stream, just at the right moment. he sends taehyung a teasing message not even a minute later:

me
in-game husband, you look cute when you blush

as jimin had hoped, taehyung glances down at his desk soon after the message is sent. his eyes widen slightly as he looks back up, right into the camera. jimin cackles.

he sits back and watches the rest of the stream while he busies himself doing some schoolwork. it’s nice hearing taehyung’s soothing voice in the background; seeing him move on screen, having fun with his viewers and the friends he’s currently playing with. it’s just nice having a reminder that taehyung’s actually there, in jimin’s life.

 

their feelings keep ever growing. they don’t know their feelings are actual feelings, but they do know something is up. they also know that, as time goes on, those feelings are becoming stronger and harder to ignore. still, they don’t do anything about them. they let them sit and simmer, hoping vehemently they’ll just go away or that everything will somehow fix itself.

they continue talking, texting and calling and video chatting. jimin watches taehyung stream, too, sometimes. watching him is really calming and jimin gets an idea of what it must’ve been like for taehyung when jimin wasn’t around; taehyung seems so in reach, and yet he’s untouchable at the same time. he’s there, but he’s not.

except that’s not really true. not really. because, as soon as any stream ends—whether jimin has tuned in or not—taehyung gets his phone out to send jimin a message.

more often than not, he sends a message and a selfie. jimin likes those selfies. post-stream selfies give him a tired, dopey-looking taehyung who looks endearing on all fronts.

once taehyung’s sent his selfie, it’s become customary for jimin to send one back, together with a message either asking him how the stream went or telling him he watched him play and that he did well.

the messages sent back and forth get increasingly more teasing and flirty, and the selfies—post-stream, or otherwise—do, too. it’s jimin who starts unbuttoning his shirts a little more, and it’s also jimin who starts making them riskier and riskier. it’s taehyung, however, who takes things to the next level when, in a post-orgasm haze, he snaps jimin a selfie where he’s so clearly sweaty and flushed, naked from the waist up and not doing anything to conceal what he’d been doing only moments before.

they don’t talk about it.

they freak out silently about the increasingly risky selfies they send and receive, even though they know it makes sense for them to go in this direction. sure, they’re nervous about the whole ordeal, but they’re just so naturally flirty that it’s inevitable that they end up here.

they still talk normally most days, growing closer and closer and closer until they forget there are still two phone screens standing between them, but there are days when their conversations are seconds away from turning into phone sex. some of their selfies are only barely not nudes at this point and this fine line they’re walking between poorly concealed crushes and absolute debauchery is kind of fun.

it’s confusing, overwhelming, scary and nerve-wracking, but so much fun.

 

finally, it’s jimin who decides to throw caution to the wind and actually snap a nude just for taehyung. it’s been a while since he’s done so with the intention of sending it to someone else, so he definitely takes his time with it.

he finds the right lightning, goes ahead and changes his sheets and cleans up whatever is visible in his shot and takes a thorough shower to make sure he looks extra dewy. whatever that means.

there are multiple poses he has in mind, multiple poses he tries. some fail, some turn out decent but aren’t up to his usual standards, and then there are others that are probably coming on so strong that he hesitates to send them just yet.

in the end, he decides to send the one where his back is turned somewhat to the camera. he’s got his legs folded underneath him, knees spread a little, hands planted on the bed so that he can arch his back enough that it enhances the curve of his ass. his ass is already great on its own, of course, but he knows which poses will make it look even better.

he makes sure to look over his shoulder enough that his teasing smile is just about visible, tongue peeking out just slightly.

as expected, jimin ends up with a work of art. he throws on a t-shirt just to feel a little more decent when he opens up his chat with taehyung and spends a few minutes typing and deleting words. after five minutes, he still doesn’t know what to say; everything he’s come up with so far has been so incredibly blunt that he kind of wants to cry.

how do people send nudes again?

they’ve basically been exchanging them already, but it’d been so easy. there was no preamble, just a hey, good morning or a ;) felt kinda cute or a bit of i’m a bit chilly ;) while wearing next to nothing.

eventually, jimin decides to go for blunt.

me
taehyung-ah
taehyung
tete
wait, are you streaming

tete
ye

before he continues typing, he decides to tune in. taehyung’s playing casually and talking to his viewers; nothing out of the ordinary. he’s talking so animatedly that he keeps messing up in his game, which his viewers roast him about in turn.

he’s having too much fun to properly play the game, so it’d probably be alright, wouldn’t it? jimin can just… he can just…

me
you look cute today, gamer boy
do you want to see a tasteful picture of my ass

after he’s sent that he just sits back and waits.

it doesn’t take very long. after approximately five seconds, taehyung’s gaze goes off-screen, down at his desk where his phone must be. his eyes slide back up, only to snap down again not even a second later, as though jimin’s message has only just sank in.

jimin watches gleefully as taehyung tries looking back up to continue the game, only to fail and look back down.

he repeats that sequence about two times, before he stops playing altogether and texts back a an eye emoji, hoping jimin will understand that as a please, show me your ass. he goes back to playing after that, while jimin just grins down at the message and hovers over the button to attach a picture.

jimin waits a little. he watches taehyung go back to his game, distracted as all hell because he keeps glancing down at his phone. there’s something so nice about being able to see the anticipation and the lack of care about the fact that people can see each and every facial expression of his, especially knowing it’s jimin’s doing.

finally, after letting taehyung sweat for a bit, jimin sends it. he flicks his gaze back up at the screen and sees taehyung play and then freeze and look down as inconspicuous as possible, opening up his chat with jimin and, presumably, seeing jimin’s nude.

taehyung’s quiet for a moment, eyes cast down, no longer focused in the slightest on the game as he stares at jimin’s magnificent ass. maybe jimin’s conceited by thinking this, but it just makes sense for this to be taehyung’s reaction. the nude did look immaculate.

“uh…” taehyung says. he looks back up, into the camera, and then his eyes immediately flick off-screen again—first down at his phone, and then off to the side to watch the chat ask him what’s got him so distracted. “sorry about that… a friend is… a friend is texting me. sorry, just—one—second.”

he picks up his phone now. the message already arrives before he finishes typing, which puzzles jimin at first, until he realises that taehyung’s told him there’s some delay—that, and, he realises, taehyung’s sending him a stream of messages.

tete
?? o
ok
ok ok ok okay
okay!!!
that’s the most tasteful pic of an ass that i’ve ever received in my entire life
im a changed man now
it looks ?? like its ?? glowing?? but also it looks really soft
like a pillow that i could lay my head on
why do u look like that
genuinely asking
why and how
jimin
jimin
jimin

me
yes? you should go back to streaming. don’t leave your viewers hanging!

tete
u have the most beautiful butt i’ve ever seen

me
thank you. go back to streaming

tete
no

me
if you pass the next level, i’ll send you a new picture

taehyung doesn’t even respond. he drops his phone to his desk, sits up straight and grasps his controller in his hand. “and we’re back! let’s go, everyone! we have a level to beat! is it hot in here, or is that me? man, i’ve been on this level for so long, would be nice to beat it as soon as possible, wouldn’t it?” he laughs awkwardly, which his viewers definitely ask after, only to receive no reply.

he’s thrown himself headfirst into the game, tongue peeking out of his mouth while he concentrates cutely.

me
how many levels until you beat the game?
i see some people saying you have four left?
is that true?
don’t text back, just say it out loud

it takes a few seconds, in which taehyung accidentally loses all progress he’s made and has to start the level back over. he sighs, glances down and back up. “we have like, what? four levels left to beat the game? this one and then three more, right?”

it’s quiet for a bit, before taehyung nods along with the chat. “yeah, four levels.”

me
i’ll send you a new picture for each level you beat
and once you beat the game, a riskier one i wasn’t sure i should send
if you want
i’m sorry if i’m getting ahead of myself D:

“let’s risk it all,” taehyung says, grinning widely. “how about i beat the game today? i’ve been getting my ass handed to me for so long by it, it’s time i put an end to it once and for all.”

jimin sits back with a heavy sigh. his heart beats wildly in his throat, but the nerves he’s experiencing aren’t bad ones; he’s just excited and elated that taehyung’s so into it.

the promise of more nudes does turn out to help. taehyung suddenly has no issues with the game, getting over hurdles he previously got stuck on for way too long.

 

jimin dutifully sends him the first selfie after taehyung beats the level. in this one, he’s lying down, the bottom half of his body twisted so that his ass and hips are visible, but his dick isn’t. while he’d liked this one, he hadn’t sent it before because he knew it wasn’t his best work.

taehyung doesn’t seem to mind or share jimin’s point of view. he doesn’t type back a response, because jimin once again reminds him not to, but his reaction on screen is enough for jimin to know he’s doing good work.

thankfully, the chat is none the wiser. they’re encouraging taehyung to keep going and cheering him on and being lovingly proud of him over the fact he’s decided to stop being such a loser at it.

jimin and taehyung and the chat keep this up, until the final moment of the game. there’s a final boss fight that has even jimin on the edge of his seat, despite the fact that he’s mostly been focused on his nudes and selecting the best ones to send.

once the game’s done and taehyung’s sat through the ending credits and talked to his chat for a little, he very casually announces that he’s tired and that he’ll be back the next day.

jimin waits until the stream’s done to get his phone out and send taehyung the last picture. one of the riskier ones. in the time he’s watched taehyung play, he’s had time to select the final one to send. it was a tough choice, but he’s finally found the one.

it’s a simple picture: jimin’s sat at the foot of the bed with his legs spread, phone angled toward the mirror that he’d gone through the trouble of setting up right in front of his bed for the exact purpose of sending taehyung the perfect nude.

the reason jimin had hesitated to send that one first is because it goes a step further than anything they’ve done so far. not only does his cock have a feature in it, but he’s got his fingers wrapped around it. it’s lewder than lewd, since everything they’ve sent each other up until that point has at least been sort of covered up.

during the stream, jimin had half a mind to take another picture; maybe something with a toy, a plug, perhaps? a video of him fingering himself?

but he’d decided against it in the end. this was good for now. he doesn’t want to come on too strong just yet.

soon after jimin’s sent his last picture, taehyung sends him a response:

tete
jimin
you’re a gift to humanity

jimin reads the message and bursts into a fit of giggles. perhaps he is; he doesn’t really care whether he is or not, though. he’s fine just being taehyung’s gift, he thinks.

as soon as he thinks that, he stops giggling to blink softly and purse his lips. huh. the thought isn’t exactly new, but he doesn’t recall thinking it so clearly before.

tete
i want to one up your last one
but there’s only one way i can think of doing that rn

me
what is it?

tete
:)

jimin stares down at his phone as it starts ringing, asking whether he’d like to accept taehyung’s request to video call or not. he’s not entirely sure what taehyung has in mind, but he can sort of guess.

with his heart hammering against his ribcage, jimin accepts the call.

 

taehyung still sat in the same spot when he appears on camera, no longer streaming to thousands of people—right now, his sole audience is jimin.

he’s leaning back casually, like this is the easiest thing in the world, but the flush to his cheeks gives him away. that, and the awkwardly placed hand right over his crotch. he’s clearly cupping his boner and trying to hide it from view for a reason jimin can’t fathom.

despite the fact that taehyung’s already commented on the nude, jimin smiles sweetly as he settles back against the headboard off his bed. “did you like my pictures? did they help you finish your game?”

“i’d like to think they helped me beat it, but who knows?” taehyung muses. “maybe i played worse than before because i had your ass on my mind the entire time.”

jimin laughs. “yeah? you were thinking about my ass?”

“how could i not?”

jimin shrugs. he smiles innocently. “i hope you know i spend a good chunk of time on them. had to find my right angles and get into the right mood and all…”

taehyung hums. “how can i ever repay you?”

jimin shakes his head, smiling lazily. “that’s the best part; you don’t have to. i love taking nudes, especially when they go to someone who i know will appreciate them.”

“still,” taehyung grins. “even if you do it out of the good of your heart, or because you want to, which is very valid, i’d like to return the favour.”

“what’d you have in mind?” jimin asks coyly.

taehyung hums, as though he’s trying to come up with a way to return the favour, even though jimin’s sure he already has something in mind. eventually, rather than say anything, he just gets up and walks out of the room.

while jimin’s obviously never been inside of taehyung’s apartment, he’s seen enough of it in the background during their video calls that he can guess where taehyung’s headed: his bedroom. jimin cocks his head in curiosity, smiling lightly as he waits for the familiar framed pictures hanging on taehyung’s bedroom walls to appear on camera.

taehyung sets his phone down on his dresser, making sure it’s propped up, before he steps back. “can you see me?”

jimin nods. “what are you up to?”

taehyung cocks his head while smiling widely. “i’m offering you a live nude. are you interested?” he waits, hands at the hem of his shirt.

“you mean you’re going to strip for me?” jimin laughs.

“yes. live nude.”

“stripping.”

“no. what do you say?”

jimin sighs, shaking his head slowly. “alright. strip for me, gamer boy.”

even from far away, jimin can see taehyung roll his eyes. the comment, however, isn’t enough for him to put a stop to what he’s doing; he tugs up his shirt slowly, revealing an expanse of tummy. jimin watches with bated breath as more and more of taehyung’s bare skin is exposed.

there’s taehyung’s toned stomach at first, which jimin’s seen before and is itching to explore with his tongue. there’s nothing more he wants than to map every bit of it, even if that sounds creepy. is it creepy, though? is it really? he doesn’t know anymore.

the shirt is pulled up more, until jimin can see taehyung’s pecks, muscles shifting nicely as he tugs it all the way up over his head.

“taehyung-ah, why are you so toned? you’re a gamer.” jimin shakes his head. “this is ridiculous. you shouldn’t be allowed to look like this.”

“like what?” taehyung asks smugly. he drops the shirt at his feet and plants his hands on his hips. “come on; say it.”

jimin throws back his head as he laughs. “like dessert. when i see you, i get an intense urge to lick every inch of you. to lay a claim, maybe, but also because i think you’d taste delicious.”

taehyung snorts. “can’t decide if that’s really sexy or extremely unsexy.”

“let’s just say it’s sexy, hm?” jimin pouts. “go on, strip.”

for a moment, taehyung hangs his head to laugh very softly. the only reason jimin knows he’s laughing is because his shoulders shake the tiniest bit. “alright, impatient…”

jimin thinks taehyung’s going to protest a little and drag everything out even more, but he just hooks his thumbs underneath the waistband of his sweats and pulls it down in one smooth motion.

“wh—” jimin splutters. “where’s the build up? where are the slow, tantalising movements? come on…”

taehyung kicks his sweats off and shrugs lazily. he picks up his phone and walks backward until the backs of his knees hit the mattress and he falls back with a dramatic bounce. “i have one article of clothing left. that’s the one that counts.” he shimmies back until he’s sitting up against the headboard as well and angles his camera down until his face is out of shot; jimin can only see his chin now, and his chest and the tiniest peek of his boxers.

“i slaved over those nudes,” jimin says, eyes narrowing, equally as dramatic.

“uh-huh. jimin-ah...” taehyung sing songs. his face appears on screen again. “i have a terrible idea.”

“i love terrible ideas. what is it?”

“do you…” taehyung begins, before he sucks his bottom lip into his mouth and stops talking abruptly, as though he’s only now realising what he’s about to say and second-guessing whether his plan is actually too terrible.

jimin coos. “go on. it can’t be that bad.”

“do you wanna watch me play with myself?” taehyung says in one breath. he looks nervous for a moment; every bit of cockiness previously in his face has gone, replaced by insecurity and uncertainty.

it probably doesn’t help that jimin does a sharp intake of breath at the mere suggestion. once he realises how it may come across, jimin quickly nods, unsure of how to express just how great that idea sounds.

“are we like…” taehyung begins. he frowns while he tries figuring out how to phrase his question. “are we moving too quickly? i know we’ve been, like, exchanging… almost-nudes, and… i mean, you’ve sent me nudes. but this is, like, this is, like…”

“a whole other ballpark?” jimin fills in, when he doesn’t finish his sentence.

taehyung nods.

“sure,” jimin concedes. “but… i’m pretty sure that, the moment i decided to move my mirror to take pictures for you, i ended up crossing the imaginary line we’d drawn. i think it was pretty much erased when you said you wanted to see my ass. we’ve been toeing that line for a while now, so… i don’t know. it seems only natural we ended up here, with you asking me whether i want to watch you play with yourself.”

just saying that last sentence stirs something deep inside of jimin’s gut. sure, he’s started suspecting they’d end up here sooner or later, but still. actually getting to this point is such a wild idea that he can’t believe it’s really happening.

taehyung’s silent for a bit. he nods slowly and chews on his bottom lip while he thinks things through. “so you don’t think it’s weird?”

jimin shakes his head. “not at all. but we don’t have to do any of this if you don’t want to, you know that, right? i didn’t send you those pictures expecting anything in return; i just felt like taking them for you.”

“i know.” taehyung scoots down the bed a little until he’s able to fall onto his side. the screen shakes a little, until it steadies again and all of his face is in frame. his cheeks flame red. “but i want to. i just… don’t… want to come on too strong. does that make sense?”

“yeah. that makes sense.”

it’s quiet for a bit. jimin looks at taehyung, while taehyung looks just off to the side to avoid having to look at jimin, lips pursed. finally, he sighs. “i’m nervous, but i’m rock hard, because i started thinking of the pictures you sent.”

jimin giggles loudly. “i’m glad they’re doing it for you.”

taehyung hums happily. when he smiles, his cheeks bunch up and his eyes crinkle and jimin briefly wonders what it’d be like to be in love with taehyung. it’d probably be really easy; a smile like that is all it takes, isn’t it?

“—huh?” jimin asks, realising taehyung had said something.

taehyung chuckles. he shakes his head. “nothing. i’m going to fetch some lube.”

“ah.” jimin glances off to the side, where he’d dropped his lube and a toy earlier, just in case. “i already have some,” he mumbles.

“you came prepared.”

well,” jimin counters. “i didn’t exactly… come.”

taehyung laughs. “no? that’s too bad. you only did that for the picture?”

“yeah.”

after tsking, taehyung appears back on screen as he picks his phone up and settles against the headboard again. some of his nerves seem to have gone, although he’s still a bit shy.

jimin hears the cap of a bottle click open and watches in amusement as taehyung fumbles with one hand. “you can put your phone down, you know?” he suggests.

taehyung hums. “but then how will you see my beautiful face?”

“i think i’ll survive if i don’t see your face for two seconds.”

“debatable… i don’t know where to put my phone down. i mean, i can—hm, if i hold it, the angle is going to be awkward. i could—hold on.”

the screen is shaky and blurry while taehyung busies himself doing god knows what. jimin sees a pillow, and then he sees taehyung’s face appear and disappear, and then—

“is this better?” taehyung sits back. he’s fully on screen now, a hand back on his crotch, squeezing himself through his boxers.

jimin whistles appreciatively. “yeah. that works.”

 

by the time jimin’s rearranged himself on the bed so that he’s got his phone propped up, too—against two stacked up pillows, after taehyung’s told him that’s what he’s done to prop up his phone—his hand wanders.

taehyung’s already squeezing the base of his cock, still wearing his boxers, not in any hurry. he looks at jimin’s hands with interest; the way they cover his bare thighs and travel up underneath his shirt for a bit, or how his fingers dance lightly over his chest once jimin’s pulled them out from under his shirt.

it’s almost strange how quiet everything’s gotten, after all the talking they’ve done only moments prior. it seems that they have nothing left to say that can’t be said through their actions. that, and the awkwardness. they don’t feel awkward like this, while they keep quiet and just explore themselves while looking at each other, but adding their voices to the mix seems like a step too far for now.

still, keeping quiet can only take them so far.

taehyung swallows thickly while he looks at the hem of jimin’s shirt, how it keeps riding up, but never enough for him to see anything. “jimin,” he says softly. “are you wearing anything underneath that?”

jimin slowly shakes his head. he grips onto the hem at the side and pulls it up just slightly to reveal his bare hip. he smiles, while taehyung sighs softly.

taehyung finally reaches for his lube again. he squeezes some onto his palm and slips his fingers inside of his underwear. through the black fabric, jimin can just about see the motions of his hand; how he curls his fingers around his cock and jerks himself off slowly.

jimin pouts. “you’re not even going to show me?”

taehyung just smiles. he hesitates for a moment, but then he pulls his cock free for jimin to see. jimin’s not surprised that he’s hung, he’s seen enough to deduce that for himself, but having his suspicions confirmed is nice. seeing taehyung’s bare cock is definitely nice, although it does open him up to a whole new set of fantasies that he’d purposefully stayed away from.

while taehyung shimmies out of his last article of clothing, jimin lubes up his fingers and slips them underneath his shirt. he grips onto his cock at first, squeezing the head and pumping it lazily a few times, only to let go of it and snake his fingers further down.

he’s aware taehyung can see his fingers slip between his thighs, even going so far as to plant his feet on the bed and part his legs wide. his cock is still hidden underneath his shirt, but his ass is on display; he makes sure of that.

taehyung’s lips are parted while he watches, entranced by jimin’s fingers, glistening with lube as he circles his rim, before pushing a finger inside of him. “fuck,” he whispers. “jimin-ah…”

“hm?” jimin sinks his finger in further and sighs in relief. he’s been wanting to do this ever since the idea of sending taehyung nudes popped up in his head today. he’d just been waiting for it, wondering the entire time whether he should go ahead and use the toy he’d set to the side, just in case.

“d’you wanna take off your shirt?”

jimin just hums. he moves his finger in and out, adding a second finger to press at his rim, before pulling his hand back and gripping onto his shirt. he pulls it off without making a show of it, happy to be free of it, yet feeling shy all the same. taehyung’s obviously already seen him in the pictures, but being naked like this on camera is just different.

“you’re so fucking gorgeous…” taehyung mutters.

jimin smiles languidly. he leans his head back against the headboard, looking down past his nose at the screen, at taehyung stroking himself slowly to jimin touching himself. “so are you.”

they smile at each other briefly, before they finally stop talking. the only sounds that can be heard are their quiet moans and small whimpers, their sped up breaths and the slick sounds of their hands.

taehyung is the first to cum, painting his hand and stomach, ab muscles pulled taut as he seizes up. while he comes down, panting heavily and feeling a bit shaken as it starts to dawn on him what they’ve been doing, he watches jimin come closer and closer to his edge.

jimin holds out a little longer, but that’s only because he’s been pacing himself. he’s been fingering himself as slowly as possible and stroking himself off in time with the movements of his other hand. he’s not in a hurry, although his fingers do speed up as he comes closer, as taehyung’s attention is now solely on him and it both turns him on and embarrasses him to the core.

he cums with a long, drawn-out moan that he tries to keep in, feeling even more embarrassed that he’s the only one making noise. he slumps once he’s stopped twitching, reluctant to pull his fingers out.

when he does finally does, dragging it out and whimpering at how sensitive it feels, he hears taehyung gasp softly. he’s afraid to look up and meet taehyung’s eyes, but he gathers all his courage to do so, anyway.

“you’re gaping a little,” taehyung says, in awe, wishing he could crawl through his phone screen and into jimin’s bedroom to have a closer look.

“three fingers will do that to you...” jimin spreads his cheeks to give taehyung a better look, before he realises what he’s doing and slowly pulls his hand back. he pulls his legs close together, leaning his chin on his knees.

“that was…” taehyung begins. he crosses his legs at his ankles and looks down shyly. “that was good, right?”

jimin nods. it was. it really was good. but he feels incredibly awkward now that they’ve both come down from their high. it feels similar to when he’s done playing with himself and the reality of his dirty thoughts and feelings settle in. he doesn’t necessarily feel disgusted, but he does feel insecure and he isn’t sure how to explain that to taehyung.

maybe taehyung feels the same. he can’t seem to look up at jimin now, blinking down at his ankles and gripping onto them tightly.

“yeah,” jimin finally says. his voice sounds a bit gravelly. he clears his throat. “it was good.”

now taehyung nods slowly. they remain quiet, before he manages to look up for a very short moment. he forces an awkward smile. “i should go clean up.”

“me, too.”

they blink at each other, stare awkwardly and shyly, before they each mumble a quiet goodbye. jimin ends the call and stares at their chat, until his screen goes to black and he can see his slumped figure in its reflection. he feels terribly vulnerable; it’s very visible in his silhouette. had taehyung seen it, too?

 

after they’ve each taken a very long shower while feeling weird and mildly confused about how their thing had petered out, they get some food while busying themselves with anything that’ll take their mind off.

for once, they don’t text continuously until they fall asleep, nor do they send each other a goodnight text like they usually do. they go to sleep with a hollow feeling in their chests, and wake up the next morning with that same feeling.

they move through their day in that same way, trying with all their might to think about anything but last night and what the other sounds like when they cum.

taehyung’s viewers ask what’s up when they realise he’s more subdued than normal, to which he says he’s tired and hopes they don’t press on. he wonders whether jimin’s watching, and then he regrets wondering about that, because it makes him picture jimin fingering himself.

meanwhile, jimin’s just staring at the notification he received when taehyung went live. he’s been looking at it every few minutes, wondering whether he should tune in to see taehyung’s face and hear his voice, or whether that’d be too confrontational.

in the end, jimin doesn’t tune in. he just sits in his living room, on a sunday afternoon, and doesn’t do anything at all, until he finally gets the idea to log into the game and reread taehyung’s old messages. maybe he won’t feel so alone that way.

he wants to talk to taehyung, wants to see him and hear him speak, but this is a little bit easier. taehyung’s passive voice is easier for jimin to digest right now.

 

jimin reads and reads and reads. he reads back old conversations between them, as well as the messages taehyung sent him after jimin disappeared. he gets so lost in reading that, for a moment, he forgets all about the hollow feeling that he’s been carrying with him all day.

it’s the soft buzzing of an incoming text that shakes him out of it eventually. he looks up, feels his heart beat wildly, nerves fluttering through his veins. taehyung. he doesn’t know for sure that it’s him, but he has a feeling that it is.

tete
hey
can i call u?

at first, jimin thinks of not responding, or saying that he doesn’t want to call, not right now. but it’d be a lie. he does want to hear taehyung’s voice; he’s just afraid he’ll give away how nervous he is if he speaks.

me
yeah

hi,” taehyung says softly, once jimin picks up. he clears his throat, like he’s going to continue talking, but he doesn’t say anything else and just falls silent.

“hey…” jimin clutches onto his phone. i missed you. he doesn’t say that, but he desperately wants to.

taehyung clears his throat again. “we shouldn’t have left like that yesterday, i think. that was a mistake.”

“we shouldn’t have, no.”

“it would’ve been better to talk through the awkwardness.”

jimin hums. “yeah. i agree.”

silence. they’re both just waiting, wondering who will break the silence first and put them out of their misery.

“it really was good, though, right?” taehyung asks, insecurity thick in his voice.

hearing that taehyung’s insecure, too, makes jimin feel a little better. it’s not just him. they’re both stumbling through this without knowing what to do. he prefers this to blindly following taehyung’s lead; he’d rather they figure it out together.

jimin nods, before he remembers taehyung can’t see him. “it really was. it was amazing, until… until it got a bit awkward at the end.”

“yeah. but it’s okay to feel awkward, you know? it’s fine. i think it’s okay if we both feel awkward, so long as we tell each other. that way we can help each other, you know? we probably would have felt better if we’d known we both felt the same way.”

jimin chuckles. “i know i would’ve.”

“did you feel uncomfortable at any point?”

“no. did you?”

“no.”

“okay.” jimin sighs in very obvious relief, which gets a chuckle out of taehyung. he thinks about how easy it’d be to blurt out what he’s been thinking for a while now: i like you. i like you a lot. i see you as a friend, but i also see you as so much more than that and i think you may feel the same way but i’m scared of being wrong. what if it’s just wishful thinking?

he doesn’t say anything.

 

neither does taehyung, who wants to say hey jimin, i think you may have been my first gay crush and i think i may actually be in love with you, but i don’t really know how to tell you that, because i don’t want to scare you off.

instead, he says this: “can we promise to be more honest with each other from now on?”

pinky promise.

 

after that slightly nerve-wracking phone call, things go back to normal. they go back to talking comfortably to each other, over text and through phone and video calls, as though nothing ever happened, even though everything has happened and caused everything to shift just slightly.

they continue to send each other selfies. some of those are innocent, and others are not. of those that aren’t, some of them are lewds, whereas others leave absolutely nothing to the imagination.

they talk a lot more about it—the sexual part. if there’s something that makes them feel awkward, they try to express that so that they can take a step back and take it a bit slower until they no longer feel that way.

only once they learn how to do that effectively, do they wander back down into the weird and magical land of sex. they try again. sometimes they kind of fail, but sometimes they don’t, and either experience is wonderful and a weirdly horny teaching moment.

they don’t need to be intimate in this way to get to know each other better, because they already know each other so well, but they still feel like they grow closer in ways they weren’t before, ways they never even imagined.

the one thing they never talk to each other about is their feelings. no matter how much they’ve promised to be honest with each other, they leave their feelings out of that deal.

they both know by now what they feel—sort of, at least—but that doesn’t make it any easier.

somehow, phone sex is infinitely easier than sharing feelings. so they don’t simply don’t share their feelings and have a lot of phone sex to make up for it.

another thing they don’t bring up, weirdly enough, is the possibility of meeting each other in real life. they know they live in the same city. sure, it’s a very big city. sure, there’s a chance they live on opposite sides of it, but still. they still live relatively close, and it wouldn’t be too hard to meet up.

but what if seeing each other in the flesh ruins the experience? what if they realise their feelings aren’t genuine? can you even develop feelings for someone you meet online? can you truly make that connection?

so they don’t bring it up. they don’t mention where they live, because there’s a small chance they live relatively close to each other. they don’t want to have to take their rose-tinted glasses off and wonder whether they’d be compatible in real life; they both hope they are, but hope can only take you so far in life.

maybe it’s better not to shatter the fantasy.

 

“—i mean, i still think that was all me,” taehyung says, grinning smugly. “i carried us through that quest, while you were fumbling around with the chickens.”

“i wasn’t fumbling around!” jimin argues, narrowing his eyes at taehyung’s smug face. there’s nothing more he’d like than to wipe that stupid grin off his stupidly beautiful face. “the quest description said we needed a chicken! how was i supposed to know the game would hand us one when we needed it! i was thinking ahead.”

taehyung guffawed. “what were you going to do with it? you know the game only allows you to carry chickens for a few seconds at a time! we had to walk the entire way. what was your plan? were you just going to drop it and pick it up repeatedly until we made it to our destination?”

“i hadn’t thought that far ahead,” jimin admits. he pulls a face when that gets a loud laugh out of taehyung. “oh, shut up, like you were any more focus—”

an ambulance passes by. taehyung must have his window open for jimin to hear it so clearly.

they wait until it passes, jimin can see taehyung’s head moving as he follows the sound, waiting for the sirens to die out. just when it’s about to stop, taehyung opens his mouth to argue some more, clearly very entertained and not ready to stop teasing jimin just yet.

the siren’s sound doesn’t die out, though. it nearly does, but then it swells again, sounding louder than before. jimin’s about to wonder out loud whether it got lost, or whether it had to turn around, when he realises it’s no longer coming from taehyung’s side of the call.

“wait…” jimin frowns as he looks off to the side. it’s dark out, but he’s also high up, so it’s not like he can see anything out of his window—especially because he’s sat on the floor. still, he does so out of instinct. “did i… just… imagine that… or…”

“no,” taehyung says. “that... really happened. we heard the same siren… i think. jimin-ah… what… what’s your address?”

jimin turns back to look at taehyung, who’s looking at him with big, round eyes. they’re hopeful, but nervous. it’s hard to tell whether taehyung wants them to live close or not, which jimin understands. he’s also not sure whether he’d rather they live on opposite sides of the world or, very likely, within a few minutes of walking distance from each other.

he tells taehyung his exact address, down to the apartment building and apartment number, only for taehyung’s eyes to grow even wider.

“what?” jimin asks. his brows furrow.

“i live three apartment buildings over. like a—”

“—five minute walking distance,” jimin fills in. his mouth falls open. he doesn’t mean to gasp dramatically, but he can’t help himself. “what a fucking plot twist.”

taehyung laughs, but it sounds a little strangled, like he’s nervous.

jimin knows they can go two directions from here. either they can conveniently talk over it and ignore what they’ve just learned, or they can—he makes up his mind before he can finish his thought. “taehyung-ah, do you want to meet at the playground in between our buildings? you know the one i’m talking about.”

before taehyung can answer, jimin interrupts him again. “but, but only if you want to. i know it’s kind of scary. and that maybe—” he shakes his head, already knowing he’s about to spill more than he should, but he’s talking now, so maybe he should use this momentum to air some of his insecurities. “and that maybe we’ll realise that we only really get along when we talk online. maybe… we’ll be too awkward around each other in real life, or we’ll realise it’s just too good to be true, but… i want to try. i really want to see you. face to face. just once.”

taehyung just nods. “i want that, too. and i understand how you feel, it does feel too good to be true, but if there’s even a small chance that it isn’t… maybe i’m coming on too strong, but i want nothing more than to hold you in my arms. i’ve wanted to for so long.”

“do you wanna…” jimin shifts restlessly, itching to get up and run over as soon as humanly possible. what if taehyung’s not ready, though? am i even ready?

“i’m hanging up,” taehyung says, getting off his couch. “meet me there. please?”

“see you in a bit,” jimin says, feeling shaken, unable to believe this is actually happening. he’d spent so long avoiding thinking of meeting taehyung that he’s almost convinced he’s stepped into a dream. there’s no other way to explain it. it just doesn’t make sense.

but it doesn’t matter. even if it’s a dream, jimin still gets up and moves toward his door.

 

taehyung spends a few seconds impatiently pressing the elevator button, only to give up and dash toward the stairs instead. sure, there are a lot of stairs. sure, he could wait and make it down faster than if he were to run down the stairs, but waiting around feels like he’s wasting precious time.

he’s spent years thinking of what it’d be like once he got to meet jimin in real life, but it’d always been an unattainable dream. it felt silly to entertain the idea, but it’d been irresistible to daydream about.

it’s a daydream no longer, however, and taehyung’s never felt more excited and nervous.

 

it’s only after the elevator doors have closed behind jimin and he’s leaning back against the side wall that he realises he’d never changed out of his pajamas. he stares at his reflection in the mirror with a frown, knowing he still looks cute enough in his baby blue pjs that he could get away with it quite easily.

just because he could get away with it doesn’t mean he likes it any more, though. he’s meeting taehyung for the first time; he wants to look his best. taehyung’s already seen me finger myself, though. does it matter what i wear? he’s practically seen inside of me.

in the end, it’s not that line of reasoning that stops jimin from going back up and changing outfits—he just doesn’t want to waste more time. he’s scared, but there’s nothing more he wants than to see and actually touch taehyung.

 

they both practically run over to the playground once they’re outside and reach it at the same time. on opposite sides, they stop in their tracks to look at each other.

for a moment, taehyung forgets to breathe. it’s too dark to fully make everything out, despite the streetlamps, but jimin’s silhouette is there, right in front of him.

like taehyung, jimin’s in what looks to be his pajamas. he looks like he’s just gotten up from where he was sitting on his living room floor and ran straight over—which is exactly what he’s done, and also what taehyung’s done.

when taehyung starts walking—step by tiny step, almost afraid to approach, in case none of it is real and he’s just stuck in a very realistic dream—jimin does, too. they come closer and closer, able to make out more of each other’s faces, until there are only a few steps separating them and they can fully take each other in.

“you didn’t dress up for me, i see,” jimin says softly. his face breaks out into the softest, sweetest and shyest smile taehyung’s seen yet.

taehyung matches jimin’s smile with one of his own. “you didn’t, either. did you run straight over?”

jimin nods.

“me, too.”

they stare at each other for a bit, hands itching to touch, feet screaming at them to move. they’re so close; all they need to do is take a few more steps and then…

“you’re really here,” jimin says. he sounds breathless, the same way taehyung feels. he steps closer. taehyung does, too. “you’re… real.”

taehyung laughs softly. “of course i am.” he takes another step, and jimin follows his lead.

“i can’t believe it.”

once taehyung is close enough, he extends his hand toward jimin, cups his cheek and grips onto his shoulder. underneath his fingertips, he feels a warm skin and soft fabric. he feels jimin, living and breathing, in the flesh. “can i… ?” he begins, fingers inching down jimin’s back, wanting to pull him closer and, possibly, never let go. he pulls him in once he gets a small nod of consent, buries his nose in jimin’s hair and holds him with such bruising force that it’s a miracle he doesn’t snap him in half.

jimin laughs. it’s a happy, soft sound. he wraps his arms around taehyung’s body, fingers gripping onto the back of his shirt to make sure they’re not separated.

taehyung lets go after a solid minute of hugging. he takes jimin’s face between his hands to inspect it, to marvel over it despite jimin’s small noises of embarrassment. “you’re…” he begins, shaking his head when he doesn’t really know how to finish his sentence.

“i’m what?” jimin’s cheeks bunch up as he smiles, face squished between taehyung’s big hands. he places his own over them and holds onto taehyung. “hm?”

“beautiful,” taehyung finishes.

they move their faces in at the same time, closer and closer until there’s barely any space between them. they look down at each other’s mouths, only to look back up and have their eyes meet again.

their kiss is only a short one; a light press, a soft drag of their lips over one another. taehyung moves back in to nip at jimin’s bottom lip, before he smiles softly and presses their foreheads together.

“i’ve been wondering what it’d be like to hug you,” jimin whispers.

“and?” taehyung questions. “does the real deal hold up to your imagination?”

“it’s so much better than anything i could have imagined.”

“yeah…” taehyung agrees. “yeah.”