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What's the Male Version of Damsel in Distress?

Chapter Text

Wrapping himself around his roommate like a needy koala, Kim Taehyung dropped his chin on a thin shoulder and whined loudly. “Can’t we just order something in?”

 

“No,” Park Jimin replied, laughing as he tried to unwrap himself from Taehyung’s hold, “we ordered in yesterday.”

 

“So?”

 

“We agreed we’d only order in once a week to save money!”

 

Taehyung frowned but relented, falling back with a dramatic sigh. “Right. Fine. I’m still going to pout though.”

 

“You do that,” Jimin agreed as he stood up and disappeared into the kitchen. Taehyung could already hear pots and pans rattling, letting him know Jimin was going to make them both dinner. At least he hoped it was both, he really didn’t want to cook for himself. His cooking was passable at best and he didn’t want to take that chance tonight. Work had been long and trying, his models just not doing what he wanted or needed and he desired nothing more than to fall asleep on the couch, snuggled in his favourite pyjamas and giggling with Jimin. 

 

His roommate of four years, Jimin was probably the best friend he’d ever had. Undoubtedly the person he was closest to. That hadn’t been the case at first, of course. They’d clashed, Jimin calling him an alien while Taehyung doubled down and invented a language just to piss him off even more. Looking back, it had been stupid and childish, but it had only made them closer. At least he thought so anyway. Now it was something they looked back on with a laugh, shaking their hands at their previous selves. 

 

“Do you want an egg in your ramen?” Jimin called from the kitchen, making Taehyung smile. He knew Jimin would make him something.

 

“Yea, thanks!” 

 

Taehyung didn’t hear his reply. It was hidden under the sound of frantic knocking at their front door. Like the millennial he was, Taehyung frowned at the door, confused. People didn’t just show up at the door and he hadn’t ordered anything. He was about to ask Jimin if he was expecting someone when the smaller man called out the same question. “Someone for you?”

 

“Nah. I’ll get it though,” Taehyung told him, rolling off the couch with a less than graceful thump. He hoped it wasn’t the lady next door, she was so nosy. Every time they even breathed too loud, she got all fussy, said she could hear them. He knew she couldn’t, they’d splurged on a nice apartment with soundproofing, but she complained nonetheless. Taehyung was convinced she just didn’t like that they were young and living together in what she considered a ‘refined’  building. 

 

But that’s not who was at the door when Taehyung opened it. Instead, there was a small man wearing a beanie and oversized sweater. His head was down and he was clutching a duffle bag for dear life as if he was terrified someone would take it away from him. When he looked up, Taehyung was faced with small eyes, rounded and shiny, paired with a small upturned nose and pouty lips. That would have been enough to stop Taehyung usually, he was an admirer of beauty after all, but this time it didn’t. No, that was the cut on his lip and a large, purple bruise on his cheekbone. Someone had hit this man and he looked terrified. Taehyung was about to ask who he was and if he needed help when those eyes turned confused and panicked. “I-I’m sorry, I-I thought– he said– I’m sorry.”

 

For a moment, Taehyung was momentarily shocked by how deep the man’s voice was. He’d expected something higher for someone so small. Like Jimin. Shaking that line of thought off, Taehyung softened his frown. “Are you looking for someone?”

 

“I-I-I,” the man stuttered, his fingers now gripping his bag even tighter, if that was even possible. “Jiminie.”

 

As if summoned, Jimin peeked around the corner, two bowls of ramen in his hands. “Tae, who ishyung.”

 

“Jiminie,” the man repeated, relief flooding his features seconds before he broke down, tears overflowing as if only sheer will had held them back. “Jiminie.”

 

Without thinking, Jimin dropped the ramen, one bowl shattering on the ground as it hit, and lunged at the man, pulling him in. The man jumped back, hissing at the contact, which made Jimin’s face change in a way that Taehyung had never seen before. He looked absolutely murderous. Taehyung knew it wasn’t directed at him, but even he stepped back, afraid of Jimin’s wrath. The man didn’t seem fazed though, he only cried harder, dropping the bag so he could cover his face. 

 

“Come inside,” Taehyung offered quickly. Jimin looked back at him gratefully before pulling the man to him again, this time more gentle. He led the small man to the couch, carefully avoiding the spilled ramen, and sat him down. After a moment of fussing, Jimin wrapped a blanket around his shoulders and knelt in front of him. When the man didn’t look up, he reached out and gently tilted his face so they were eye to eye. As Taehyung watched, Jimin’s fingers trailed lightly over the cut on the man’s lip and bruise on his cheek.

 

“It happened again,” Jimin said simply. It was a statement, not a question, but the man nodded anyway, so Jimin continued. “Why?”

 

“I-I was late. From groceries. There was a line and it took longer. I thought it was only a little late but dinner wasn’t ready when he got home,” the man mumbled, curling into himself. “Stupid. I know better than that. Shoulda

 

“No, hyung,” Jimin said firmly, “if you thought that, you wouldn’t be here.”

 

The man looked up tentatively and nodded again. “Sorry.”

 

“Don’t apologize, hyung.”

 

“Sorr” the man began, then sniffed, realizing what he had been about to do. Jimin smiled a bit, clearly amused but it never reached his eyes. Taehyung, not wanting to intrude, grabbed the man’s bag and placed it by the edge of the couch then busied himself with cleaning up the ramen on the floor. He was putting the broken pieces in the bowl when he heard the man speak again. “I didn’t know where else to go.”

 

“I’m happy you came here. Daegu is a long way from here.”

 

“I figured he wouldn’t find me here,” the man whispered. Though Taehyung couldn’t see him, he could picture him curling into himself again. Taehyung had no idea who this man was, but even he could see that he was acting defensively. Skittish. Like he had run without a plan. Judging by what he’d heard so far, he figured he wasn’t far off.

 

“You can stay, Tae won’t mind and neither do I, but only if you promise me one thing,” Jimin said seriously. There was no response but Taehyung assumed the man had nodded again because Jimin continued. “You can’t go back this time, Yoongi-hyung. I can’t do this again. Not again. Promise me.”

 

A long pause greeted that statement and Taehyung found himself holding his breath as his thoughts scattered. Again? This had happened before? Taehyung frowned to himself, he knew of Yoongi. Jimin talked about him a lot. He’d helped Jimin when he’d first moved. Jimin spoke of him as a knight in shining armour. A strong man with a strong personality who protected people. That was not the person Taehyung had seen on his doorstep but Jimin didn’t seem surprised, which meant he’d known about this. Whatever this was. But even if he did, Taehyung was still surprised by Jimin’s tone. It had been harsh, angry even. Not the tone he’d have used with a clearly upset and hurt person, but then again, Taehyung didn’t know the situation. He’d ask later, but for now, he just listened.

 

“I-I promise, Jiminie. I promise. I can’tnot anymore.”

 

“Then you can stay as long as you want,” Jimin said. “Why don’t you go get cleaned up while I set up the guest room for you?”

 

“You don’t have to

 

“I want to, hyung. This is the first time you visited me.”

 

“O-okay.”

 

Taehyung waited for Jimin to show Yoongi the bathroom before emerging from the kitchen. He met Jimin’s eyes instantly, but Jimin only shook his head and walked straight to the linen closest and proceeded to the spare room. Taehyung followed closely behind, then, leaning on the wall as he watched Jimin work, he spoke. “How long?”

 

Jimin looked back, a dead look in his eyes, “too long.”

 

“You never mentioned it.”

 

“How could I?” Jimin snapped, then sighed, rubbing his face. “I tried so hard, Tae. But at first, he waved it away, called it passion and by the time it got bad, it was like his soul was crushed. He stopped doing what he loved, stopped hanging with his friends, everything. I was here, I didn’t see until it was too late but even then I tried.”

 

“This isn’t the first time,” Taehyung said softly.

 

“That he’s left? No,” Jimin shook his head sadly, snapping the bedspread out as he continued to set up the room for Yoongi, “it’s the third. He’s never made it this far though.”

 

Taehyung nodded. “You were mean, Jiminie.”

 

“I know,” Jimin admitted, “but I wasn’t lying. I really can’t do it again. It’s always the same. Yoongi-hyung leaves and then he shows up, crying and pleading, saying it’ll never happen again and that he’s sorry. Same tired routine but it works. For a while it’s good, then it happens again. Last time he put him in the hospital. Broken ribs. He promised then too.”

 

“You know it’s not that easy,” Taehyung told him, feeling a wave of sadness crash over him.

 

“I know,” Jimin said again, “but it’s not easy for me either. I can’t keep seeing him all beat up and hollow, Tae. It hurts too much.”

 

“Then we’ll make sure this time is different,” Taehyung decided firmly. “We make sure that bastard doesn’t take him away and we help him rebuild what he lost.”

 

Jimin smiled sadly. “Now who’s the one pretending it’s easy.”

 

“I never said it’d be easy,” Taehyung countered, “but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”

 

Pausing for a moment, his eyes still fixed on the pillow he’d been fluffing for Yoongi, Jimin contemplated Taehyung’s suggestion. Truth be told, he hadn’t tried in that way before. He’d asked Yoongi to leave him, to run away, but he’d never tried to actually help Yoongi himself. He’d spent a lot of time over the years researching why abuse victims stayed and why they went back. He knew it had to do with emotional and psychological manipulation just as much as physical, but it’d never occurred to him to try and fix it. But he supposed it shouldn’t surprise him that Taehyung knew what to do. Personal experience with a situation will do that.

 

“Okay, let’s do it. Let’s help Yoongi-hyung.”

Chapter Text

Left alone in the bathroom, Min Yoongi sank down to the floor, his back leaning against the tub. He stared at the door somewhat blankly, unsure of how he’d even gotten here. The day had started like any other. He’d woken up, gotten dressed and made breakfast. It had been good. Minhyuk had even smiled as he ate, complimenting Yoongi’s cooking. Then he’d kissed Yoongi on the cheek and left for work. Yoongi had spent the rest of the day cleaning and doing chores, as he always did. When Minhyuk had asked him to stay at him rather than working, he’d had trouble finding things to do at first, but over the years he’d learned just how many things had to be done in a household on a daily basis. So he’d kept himself busy, then gone out to get groceries for dinner. Minhyuk didn’t like to eat the same thing twice in a row, so Yoongi had to make sure he was always keeping his recipes varied and his fridge stocked.

 

Everything had been going fine.

 

Then he’d gotten stuck behind a woman at the check out. She was yelling, upset about the prices of her goods and the store not accepting her coupons. It was a simple matter, but she’d caused a scene, making it so that every cashier in the area was distracted and moving slower. It had only delayed him ten minutes, but it was enough. When Minhyuk had arrived home from work, Yoongi had been in the middle of plating their dinner, still in the same clothes he’d been doing chores in. He’d known right away he’d made a mistake, he always did, but that didn’t matter. Yoongi had tried to apologize, but that didn’t matter either. The first blow had split his lip, the second bruising his eye and cheekbone. When he fell, a well-placed kick had bruised his ribs. He knew they weren’t broken from experience, so he was thankful for that at least.

 

Yoongi was used to this by now, it was more and more common. He just kept making mistakes. Over and over. Even though Minhyuk tried to teach him how to do it right. But then it’d stopped. It never stopped. In confusion, Yoongi had looked up, knowing Minhyuk liked when he looked at him. Minhyuk had looked down at him and shaken his head, then muttered something and walked away. It had taken Yoongi a solid minute to understand what he’d said.

 

You’re not even worth it.  

 

Just like that, he was nothing. Less than nothing. They’d been together for four years, ever since Yoongi had graduated university and moved back home, and now he was just nothing. Yoongi had spent a long time sitting on the kitchen floor. He’d heard Minhyuk leave, probably going out to drink with his friends, but he didn’t move. Yoongi had spent the last four years doing everything to be the man Minhyuk needed him to be and after all this time, he’d failed.

 

You didn’t fail, you did everything he asked! You turned down that job offer, you cook and clean, you do that thing he likes that you hate, you do everything. Why is it your fault?

 

Of course it’s my fault.

 

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS, HYUNG? PLEASE, JUST COME BACK TO SEOUL WITH ME, PLEASE!

 

Jimin.

 

Yoongi had blinked and shuffled to his feet. Mindlessly, he’d moved about the kitchen, cleaning up the dinner no one had eaten and made sure everything was impeccable. Then he’d packed as much as he could fit into the only travel bag he had and walked out of the apartment. It hadn’t been until he was sitting on a bus to Seoul that he realized what he’d done. At first, he’d panicked, planning how to explain his absence to Minhyuk after he’d clearly been told to never leave without permission. Then an odd sort of calm had washed over him and he’d relaxed into his seat. He had left and that was that.

 

Now, sitting on Jimin’s floor, he knew what had changed. He’d always assumed that Minhyuk loved him. That he was trying to make their relationship the best it could possibly be. But if he wasn’t worth it, then what was keeping Minhyuk from getting rid of him? He’d gotten close, once. But that had been an accident. Yoongi had slipped while running away and hit his head. He lied to Jimin about that, told him it was a broken rib, but it had happened. And that was when he claimed to love Yoongi. Whatever sense of self-preservation Yoongi had left made him stand up and flee. Made him smash his cellphone just outside their shared apartment in Daegu. Made him seek out Jimin, the only person who stayed by him through all his years with Minhyuk. The only problem now was he didn’t know what to do. He had no job, no money. Nothing. He had nothing. 

 


 

“He’s been in there a long time and the water never started,” Jimin worried, biting his lip as he paced the living room.

 

Taehyung glanced up and nodded. “You should check on him. His mind must be a mess right now.”

 

“Right,” Jimin agreed quickly, heading straight to the bathroom and knocking quietly. When there was no answer, Jimin’s panic skyrocketed. “He wouldn’tHYUNG?”

 

“Back up,” Taehyung said firmly before dropping down and using a small coin to unlock the bathroom door from the outside. It wasn’t a very good lock. Which, any other time would be a bad thing, but Taehyung thanked his lucky stars now as he pushed the door open. Inside, they found Yoongi curled up on the floor, his cheek pressed into his own forearms where they rested on the side of the tub. 

 

Jimin visibly relaxed. “Oh thank god.”

 

“He’s okay, Jiminie.”

 

Nodding, Jimin moved closer, brushing Yoongi’s hair away from his face before looking back at Taehyung. “Can you carry him to the spare room? You’re stronger than me.”

 

“No,” Taehyung refused, shaking his head, “he’s never met me before. The last thing he needs is to wake up with a strange man carrying him. Wake him up gently and guide him to bed. We can talk more and you can introduce me tomorrow.”

 

“Okay,” Jimin agreed, shoulders drooping again. Taehyung knew this was hard for Jimin. He wasn’t used to thinking about the possible perception of his actions in a situation like this. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately given the current situation, Taehyung was. Without further comment, Jimin picked Yoongi up slowly, his lips trembling when he realized just how light Yoongi was. “He’s lost so much weight.”

 

“We’ll fix that,” Taehyung promised quietly, trailing behind Jimin as he carried Yoongi to the room for moral support. He hung back as Jimin placed him in bed and tucked him up, then retreated once Jimin did the same. They’d barely made it back to the living room when Jimin broke down, dropping to the floor with his hands covering his face. Following him instantly, Taehyung wrapped Jimin in his arms and spoke gently. “It’s okay, Jiminie. It’s okay.”

 

“It’s not okay. He could have killed him Tae. Killed him. And I didn’t do anything.”

 

“You’re doing something now,” Taehyung reminded him. “You can’t help people in these situations unless they want help, Jiminie. I’ve told you that before.”

 

“I know but he’s my best friend, Tae. I love him so much,” Jimin sobbed out, his whole frame shaking. Taehyung nodded sympathetically, rubbing Jimin’s back in comfort but didn’t say anything further. Jimin had been holding it together ever since Yoongi had shown up, hell, since he’d first figured out what was going on, so Taehyung didn’t fault him his tears. Instead, he stayed with him until there were no tears left, then brought him to his room and tucked him in, much the same way Jimin had done to Yoongi. 

 

“Everything will be okay, Jiminie. I promise.”

 


 

When Taehyung awoke the next morning, Jimin was curled around him, his face pressed against Taehyung’s back. He hadn’t meant to spend the night in Jimin’s room, but the smaller man had asked him to stay and he supposed he fell asleep. That wasn’t unusual for him. He could sleep pretty much anywhere.

 

Detangling himself from Jimin, who only groaned and rolled away, Taehyung stumbled out of the bedroom towards the kitchen. He was barely conscious, his eyes still mostly closed and hair a mess, but he wanted water so he headed there first. Not expecting anyone, Taehyung jumped a bit when he saw Yoongi sitting at the kitchen table, a fancy breakfast spread out in front of him. He was dressed, wearing a nice-looking shirt and what he assumed were jeans based on what he could see of Yoongi’s leg. Just as startled, Yoongi looked up at him blinking quickly before clearing his throat. “I made breakfast for you both.”

 

“I-I see. Thank you,” Taehyung mumbled, still staring at Yoongi’s face. The bruises were gone. Well, not gone but covered up. If Taehyung hadn’t seen them, he wouldn’t know there were there. Even the cut on his lip was covered, though it was easier to spot. It was then that Taehyung realized what Yoongi was doing. Out of habit, he was following the same routine he had at home: making himself pretty and cooking breakfast. Taehyung felt a crushing sensation in his chest accompanied by a distant memory, but he shoved it down. “It looks delicious.”

 

“O-oh, thank you,” Yoongi replied quickly, then cleared his throat again and stood up. “We didn’t, um, get introduced last night. I’m Min Yoongi.”

 

“Kim Taehyung, people call me Tae.”

 

“It’s nice to meet you,” Yoongi said quickly, probably more out of habit than anything else. “I’m sorry to intrude.”

 

Taehyung shook his head. “You’re not intruding. I like having company. Especially company that cooks. I’m a disaster in the kitchen. Jiminie only lets me watch.”

 

Yoongi smiled slightly, which Taehyung took as a win, even as his fingers worried the edge of his shirt, a clear nervous twitch. “You can’t be that bad.”

 

“Oh, I am. Trust me. I personally think I just need some instruction, but no one will show me,” Taehyung complained, tilting his head as he thought about it. Though he was conversing casually, he was watching Yoongi’s reactions, making sure he was comfortable with the extended conversation. He was still playing with his shirt, but every now and then, he’d look up at Taehyung’s face. Never his eyes though, always just to the right or left of his face. 

 

“Some people just need guidance,” Yoongi agreed softly.

 

“Maybe you can show me,” Taehyung suggested but quickly changed the subject when he saw Yoongi tense, “but first, I’m going to go wake up Jimin so he can come to eat your delicious meal.”

 

“No!” Yoongi burst out, then curled back. “Sorry, um, yes, of course.”

 

Taehyung didn’t respond for a moment, just scanned Yoongi’s face and body. He wasn’t looking up anymore, and his shoulders were curled in defensively. Taehyung thought back to the way Yoongi had been waiting, his hands folded neatly at the table. He hadn’t made any noise while cooking either. Taehyung held back a sigh. “If I don’t wake up Jiminie, he’ll sleep through work. I’m allowed to wake him up.”

 

“O-okay,” Yoongi agreed, nodding. He didn’t comment on Taehyung’s assumption, which he took as confirmation. Yoongi hadn’t been allowed to wake his boyfriend up before.

 

“Be right back,” Taehyung told him before heading back to Jimin’s bedroom. He closed the door behind him and shook Jimin awake violently. Usually, he’d be more gentle but not today. “Wake the fuck up.”

 

“Ugh, can you not.”

 

“You will get up and you will come out to the kitchen and eat the meal Yoongi-ssi made for us. You will compliment him on how good it is and tell him you are thankful, do you understand?”

 

“He made food?” Jimin asked, finally sitting up. “Why did he do that?”

 

Taehyung sighed. “It’s his job.”

 

“His… job?”

 

“Before. He said he got those bruises when dinner was late right? I’m assuming cooking was his job. When I woke up he was sitting at the table, waiting quietly. He’s fully dressed and all his injuries are completely covered.”

 

“What? Why? He doesn’t need to do that here!” Jimin practically yelled, a mixture of disbelief and anger in his voice.

 

“I know, but you need to let him!”

“He’s not our slave! We’re trying to get him out of this, Tae, not switch the people he does it for!”

 

“Yes, I’m aware,” Taehyung snapped, “but he’s left everything behind. He’s falling back on what he knows. We have to do this slow or he’ll break, Jiminie. Okay? This is clearly what he had to do before, so let him do it. When he’s more comfortable, we’ll make small changes okay?”

 

Jimin rubbed his face, feeling more tears well and spill over. “I hate this, Tae. I hate it so much. I just want him to be okay.”

 

“He will be, but it will take time,” Taehyung reassured him, pushing himself up. “I got him talking to me. He even smiled once.”

 

“He smiled?” Jimin asked, looking up with blurry eyes.

 

“He did,” Taehyung confirmed. “Your hyung is still there, Jimin. You just have to find him, okay?”

 

“Right. Okay. Let’s go,” Jimin decided, throwing himself out of bed and darting out of the room. Taehyung watched him go, a sad smile on his face, then followed after. He could hear Jimin raving about the food already and when he finally entered the kitchen he was greeted with a sight that gave him hope for a man he barely knew. Jimin was wrapped around Yoongi, his face pressed into his back, just like it had been pressed into Taehyung’s less than a half-hour prior. And Yoongi? Yoongi was smiling. It wasn’t a big smile, nor was it particularly happy, but it was genuine and Taehyung figured that was as good a sign as any.

 

“What are we waiting for? Let’s eat!”

Chapter Text

In all the years Jimin had known Yoongi, he’d been this larger-than-life figure. Not in stature, the man was barely bigger than him in fact, Jimin was quite certain he was taller but in aura. He had always been quiet. Impassive even. But he cared. Always had. It showed in everything he did. When Jimin had moved to Daegu, he’d been shy and alone but Yoongi had taken to him immediately. Though two years older, Yoongi had shown Jimin all the coolest places to hide and play, introduced him to new people, including those in his class so he’d have friends the same age. When Yoongi had moved on to middle school, he’d been the cooler older friend he’d brag about. Then when Jimin had moved to middle school and Yoongi to high school, it had been even better. Especially when Yoongi bleached his hair. Then he was this rebel that was nice to Jimin which made him cool by association. Jimin had wanted to be him as much as he’d wanted to be his friend. 

 

Yoongi had been about twelve when he fell in love with music. He’d tripped slightly towards music at an even younger age, enamoured with the piano, but as a preteen, he’d fallen completely. Tumbled more like. Headfirst with no sign of stopping. He’d started making his own music and writing his own songs almost immediately. The first ones were not good, though young Jimin had loved them as if they were works of art, but eventually, Yoongi had gotten better, found his sound. 

 

It was that sound that had gotten him into Yonsei University. Yoongi had applied in secret while Jimin cheered him on. His parents had been less than thrilled, but no one turned down Yonsei so they’d let him go. Jimin had followed him to Seoul two years later, though he’d gone to a different school, where he’d eventually met Taehyung. That hadn’t mattered though. For the two years, both of them had lived in the city, they’d hung out constantly. For the first time, they had been on more equal footing. No longer a young boy looking up to his hyung who constantly moved to another school but a friend he could hang out with. Someone he could talk to about anything. A man he could cry with when he realized he liked boys and worried his parents would hate him. A man who comforted him when that very thing had happened and he’d felt alone. Yoongi was his best friend. His hyung. His idol even. Watching him now, Jimin could only see a shadow of that man.

 

Jimin had told Taehyung he’d missed it. That he’d been too far away to see it happening. That was only partly true. He hadn’t really meant to lie, but he didn’t know if he could tell Taehyung he’d turned a blind eye until it was too late. Because he had. Looking back now, it was all so obvious. Jimin remembered clearly the first break he’d gone back to stay with Yoongi. They’d just started dating then and Yoongi was gushing, so clearly happy. Jimin had asked about the sex, because that’s what he did since it always made Yoongi blush, and Yoongi had hesitated. He never hesitated. He blushed, sure, but he told Jimin about it. This time he’d paused for too long. Just long enough for Jimin to catch it, then he’d spoken in vague terms about trying out new things. Jimin had let it go, thinking Minhyuk was into something kinky and Yoongi was embarrassed about liking it. Now he knew, or rather suspected, Minhyuk wasn’t so much kinky as aggressive. Which was fine, if you were into that, but he knew Yoongi wasn’t. Like he said, they’d talked about their sex lives. Yoongi was soft and romantic. Gentle lighting and sweet words. Jimin was the one who wanted to be thrown around. Yoongi had always hated when Jimin talked about it. 

 

An easily-missed sign, or so he told himself now. But then he’d come home for Christmas and Minhyuk had gotten mad at Jimin for staying with Yoongi. The fight had been loud and angry. Jimin had never heard so many nasty words thrown at Yoongi and he’d never heard Yoongi’s voice that loud before. He’d always assumed the man couldn’t yell. Turns out he could. At least then. The fight had ended with Minhyuk storming out and Yoongi crying. Jimin had offered to leave, not wanting to cause problems, but Yoongi had been firm so Jimin had stayed. Minhyuk had brought flowers to apologize and all was forgiven. Or so Jimin thought. 

 

After that, it became harder for Jimin to return to Daegu. School and work kept him in Seoul and he was so busy that he failed to notice that Yoongi didn’t reply to his messages as quickly or as frequently. Jimin didn’t figure it out until he came home as a surprise and went to Yoongi’s work. Or what had been his work. Since graduation, Yoongi had been interning at a music label in Daegu. It wasn’t large or prestigious, but Yoongi had loved it because they let him help with the music rather than just watch. They told him Yoongi quit when they offered him a permanent position. Yoongi had tried to explain it to him, trying to make Jimin understand that Minhyuk needed someone at home because his job was ‘stressful.’ That was also when Jimin found out they were living together. But Jimin hadn’t wanted to push, so he’d let it go. Until he saw Yoongi’s side by accident one night. As a dancer, he knew what impact bruises looked like, it was a hazard of the job, so he could tell immediately it was from being hit but Yoongi had lied to him. Again, Jimin hadn’t pushed. He never did. Taehyung would be so ashamed. 

 

It wasn’t until the first time Yoongi was admitted to the hospital with serious injuries that he’d finally lost it. Finally let all the things he knew he’d seen paint a picture he didn’t want to see. He could still remember crying by Yoongi’s bedside, begging him to come back to Seoul with him while he stared daggers at the flowers Minhyuk had placed by Yoongi’s bedside. An apology. Like always. And like always Yoongi had gone back. Just like he always did after. That hadn’t stopped Jimin from trying, of course. Once he admitted to himself that he knew, there was no stopping him. He’d even managed to get Yoongi away twice before but he always went back. Leaving Jimin begging after him while Yoongi assured him this time would be different. That he meant it this time. And like always he hadn’t. Minhyuk never did. Which just meant Jimin hadn’t either. But all that had done was get him barred from Yoongi’s house since Minhyuk played the victim, telling anyone and everyone that it was Jimin who was hostile. That it was Jimin who caused problems by speaking rudely to Minhyuk. Eventually, he’d convinced Yoongi that talking to Jimin meant he didn’t care about their relationship. That’s when Jimin had lost his best friend. 

 

Even then he’d kept trying. Sending text and emails and goddamn letters, just so Yoongi knew he was there. Sometimes Yoongi replied, sometimes he didn’t, but that hadn’t mattered. At least Jimin knew he was alive when he did. That had been a year ago. Jimin hadn’t seen Yoongi since then. Not until he’d shown up on his front step, looking like a mere shadow of himself. Jimin didn’t know how to proceed. Taehyung said to be patient, and was basically coaching him through this, but that didn’t mean Jimin knew what to do. All he knew was he’d held back for too long and Yoongi had gotten hurt because of it. 

 

“Hyung?” Jimin asked quietly, startling the older man who’d been keeping himself busy cleaning the kitchen while Jimin finished eating. Taehyung had left for work already. Usually, Jimin would follow soon after but he’d taken a few days off so he could be with Yoongi. He didn’t want him to be alone. 

 

“Y-yes?” Yoongi asked, eyes fixed on the cloth in his hand as it moved in small circles as he cleaned the counter.

 

“Can you tell me what changed?”

 

Suddenly the cloth stopped. With that, it felt like the air and everything else froze too. Then, quietly. “What do you mean?”

 

“Why this time?” Jimin said just as quietly. He knew if Taehyung was here, he’d shriek at Jimin for pushing an issue Yoongi may not be ready to talk about but Jimin couldn’t just wait around. He knew Yoongi had said he wasn’t going back this time but he’d said that before. 

 

“Because next time he’ll kill me.”

 


 

Yoongi was a lot of things and a creature of habit was one of them. He hadn’t been before. Especially not during school but being with Minhyuk had made him establish very firm routines out of necessity. When he’d woken up in a foreign bed, he’d panicked. He’d felt like the world was crashing down around him. All he could hear was Minhyuk telling him he’d made a mistake again, that he’d forced his hand again, that he never learned. The only thing that had pulled him back was the scent of the sheets. They smelled like Jimin. Not his specific scent, but the scent of his favourite fabric softener. He’d used the same one since he started university because it was strong enough to deal with dance practice sweat but delicate enough not to destroy his expensive gear. Slowly, he’d settled back into himself, reminding himself where he was and why he’d run. He wasn’t really thinking about recovery per se but somewhere in the back of his mind, he registered that being able to calm himself down was a good thing.

 

Then he’d gone into autopilot, so to speak. Now that he was up, he had to go pee and get ready. As he always did. Before he’d even really registered it, he’d gotten dressed and put on his makeup, carefully hiding the bruise on his cheek and even the cut on his lip. Minhyuk hated to see the evidence of what he’d done and Yoongi had learned early that covering it up meant he was less likely to lash out from the guilt. He also found ‘sloppy Yoongi,’ as he called him, unattractive, which was also cause for punishment, so Yoongi had adapted, learning to get dressed in something simple yet attractive and make sure his makeup was perfect. Just as he was doing now. Once he was done there, he’d made breakfast quickly and quietly so that it was ready when Minhyuk woke up.

 

It wasn’t until he’d laid everything out that he realized what he’d done. Horror had flooded him then. It was the first time he’d realized just how far he’d fallen. Before Minhyuk, he’d hated mornings. The only time he wanted to see them was when he’d stayed up all night. He’d been lucky enough to find a job that allowed him that luxury. He’d also never eaten breakfast, preferring just coffee instead. Though he hadn’t really thought about what his life would be like now that he wasn’t with Minhyuk, he realized now he didn’t know how to be without him anymore. Even alone, with no one telling him what to do, he’d done what Minhyuk wanted. Pathetic. So pathetic. I bet they’ll be angry you used their food without permission. It’s basically theft. You didn’t buy anything here, did you? No, of course not, you don’t have a job. Freeloader.

 

“Stop, stop, stop,” Yoongi chanted quietly, shaking off Minhyuk’s voice in his head. He wasn’t a freeloader, Jimin was his friend. He wanted him here. Even the other one seemed okay with it, even if Yoongi hadn’t really talked to him, he seemed nice. He had to be nice if he was Jimin’s friend. 

 

It’s a thank you. You made breakfast as a thank you. They both work and you don’t, so you’re doing them a favour. Bad habits into good ones. This is good.

 

Yoongi wasn’t entirely sure where that voice came from. It sounded vaguely like himself but not really. It wasn’t wrong though. Or so Yoongi convinced himself quite quickly. Breakfast was a thank you. If they were mad then Yoongi would apologize and hope that didn’t kick him out. If they did, he had nowhere else to go. He’d have to go back, he’d have to

 

Hearing a shuffling sound, Yoongi jumped in surprise when he saw Jimin’s roommate at the entrance to the kitchen. He looked… cute. His eyes were basically shut and he had pillow marks on his face which was still swollen from sleep. His lips formed a slightly surprised frown, like he’d forgotten Yoongi was in his home. Shoving down his panic, Yoongi tried to explain. “I made breakfast for you both.”

 

“I-I see. Thank you. It looks delicious.”

 

“O-oh, thank you,” Yoongi thanked him quickly, unsure what to say. He hadn’t talked to anyone other than Minhyuk or Jimin in what felt like years. Standing up so he could greet him properly, Yoongi paused, taking in just how tall the man was. He hadn’t noticed before but now it was obvious. He didn’t feel tall, which Yoongi realized didn’t make any sense, but that was just how he thought about it. “We didn’t, um, get introduced last night. I’m Min Yoongi.”

 

“Kim Taehyung, people call me Tae.”

 

“It’s nice to meet you,” Yoongi said quickly then fell back into old habits, as if Taehyung was Minhyuk and would be upset with any slight misstep. “I’m sorry to intrude.”

 

Taehyung shook his head. “You’re not intruding. I like having company. Especially company that cooks. I’m a disaster in the kitchen. Jiminie only lets me watch.”

 

Slightly thrown off, Yoongi found himself smiling. Taehyung’s personality and appearance were at odds in a way Yoongi didn’t quite understand. From what Yoongi had seen, he was quiet and helpful. He’d cleaned while he and Jimin talked and didn’t press or ask questions. But even sleep-addled, Yoongi could tell he was gorgeous. And tall. Had he mentioned the man was tall? And yet when he did speak, even if it was often in a soft, comforting way, there was a teasingly lilt to it. He was talking to Yoongi like a normal person, not someone as broken as he really was. “You can’t be that bad.”

 

“Oh, I am. Trust me. I personally think I just need some instruction, but no one will show me,” Taehyung complained, tilting his head as he thought about it.

 

Cute, Yoongi thought, before he was even aware of it. “Some people just need guidance.”

 

“Maybe you can show me, but first, I’m going to go wake up Jimin so he can come to eat your delicious meal.”

 

Suddenly, all the panic Yoongi had shoved down came back full force. The idea of spending extensive time with someone teaching them how to do something made Yoongi uncomfortable. He’d tried telling Minhyuk how to properly fix the table when it’d broken once and he’d earn a bruised thigh for his trouble. He’d barely had time to move past that when Taehyung had said he was going to wake up Jimin. Panic. Blind, white vision, panic. That had been how he’d ended up in an emergency room the first time. The time Jimin didn’t know about.

 

“No!” Yoongi burst out, then curled back realizing disagreeing with someone was just as bad. “Sorry, um, yes, of course.”

 

Taehyung didn’t respond for a moment, then spoke quietly. There was a tone to his voice that Yoongi hadn’t heard before. Like he knew but that didn’t make sense to Yoongi. “If I don’t wake up Jiminie, he’ll sleep through work. I’m allowed to wake him up.”

 

“O-okay,” Yoongi agreed, nodding as he tried to pull himself back together. He heard Taehyung say something else and leave but he was mentally focused on pushing past the panic still bubbling in his throat. He hadn’t realized how many things he was afraid of. You’re broken, Min Yoongi, only someone like me can fix that

 

“HYUNG!” Jimin’s voice snapped Yoongi out of his own mind just in time for Jimin to tackle him into a hug, though he was careful to avoid his bruises. Yoongi found himself curling forward, slightly embarrassed by Jimin’s attention. “This looks amazing! You know I always have to cook and I’m so lazy. Just look at this spread. I can’t wait to eat it. I’m going to get fat and it will be worth it. I’m so excited to eat this. Thanks so much, hyung!”

 

“What are we waiting for? Let’s eat!” Taehyung called, stepping back into the kitchen. Yoongi glanced over at him, noting the way he smiled at Jimin. He found himself wondering if perhaps they were dating. Jimin hadn’t mentioned it but they didn’t talk about their relationships anymore. Yoongi wasn’t allowed to.

 

“Yes, please, eat up,” Yoongi said, waving to the food. He’d intended to leave them to eat while cleaning up, but Jimin dragged him to the table and sat him down on the spare chair. “I’m not

 

“Please, hyung?” Jimin interrupted, his eyes wide and pleading.

 

Yoongi found himself nodding before taking a small portion for himself. He watched as they devoured his food, raving all the while. Minhyuk never responded to his cooking that happily. The most he’d gotten was a good job before. This was nice. He was so focused on watching them, he missed the way both Taehyung and Jimin slipped extras onto his plate, which he ate without thinking. Eventually though, Taehyung had to get ready for work, so he left with yet another compliment while Jimin hung behind. Suddenly feeling uncomfortable, Yoongi stood up and began taking away empty plates. He heard Taehyung’s shout of goodbye and then silence. It stretched so long that Yoongi found himself cleaning just to fill the time. Jimin had never been the quiet type, at least not since hitting puberty, so it made Yoongi tense.

 

“Hyung?”

 

Yoongi’s whole body froze but he pushed through it. “Y-yes?” 

 

“Can you tell me what changed?”

 

Whatever will he’d used to keep moving before failed him now. Yoongi felt the world closing in again but forced his way through it. “What do you mean?”

 

“Why this time?” 

 

Yoongi took a moment to consider that. What was different this time? He hadn’t even been aware he was running until he was long gone, so it’s not like he’d been thinking about it actively. The only time he’d really spent any time thinking about why he’d left was while he’d been on Jimin’s bathroom floor. He’d come to one conclusion then and Yoongi felt that was the only one that made sense. So, with an odd sort of calm, Yoongi started wiping the counter again. “Because next time he’ll kill me.”

 

“W-what?” Jimin gasped out, horrified. “He said that?”

 

“No,” Yoongi admitted, shaking his head, “but it’s the only logical conclusion.”

 

Jimin jumped up and grabbed Yoongi’s shoulder, turning him around. Yoongi flinched away from the action, causing Jimin to drop his hand like Yoongi was on fire. “I’m sorry.”

 

“I-it’s okay,” Yoongi said, waving the hand holding the cloth like a literal white flag.

 

“It’s not,” Jimin disagreed, shaking his head. “I shouldn’t have touched you like that and I’m sorry.”

 

“O-okay,” Yoongi agreed, unsure what to say.

 

Jimin let out a heavy sigh. “Can you tell me how you know?”

 

Pulled by a force he wasn’t in control of, Yoongi spun away and began cleaning the counter again. Jimin watched silently as he finished his task, unsure what to do. Eventually, once Yoongi had started wiping down the stove as well, he spoke: “Because he doesn’t care anymore.”

 

“He never did.”

 

“No, he did,” Yoongi countered, darting a look at Jimin before flitting away. “At least about what I did for him if not about me specifically. But this last time he–he didn’t bother. He gave up. Which means he’ll move on.”

 

Jimin licked his lips in an effort to keep himself from screaming. He wanted to yell and stomp his foot, fucking throw things, but he knew that wasn’t the right way to deal with this. The problem was Yoongi was still talking like he’d done something wrong, not Minhyuk. Even when he had just said Minhyuk was going to kill him, the implication was that Yoongi thought he’d made the final mistake. That it was his fault. Thinking back to all the things Taehyung had told him over the years about dealing with situations like this, Jimin moved forward slowly, placing his arms around Yoongi’s waist as he had earlier and dropping his chin on Yoongi’s shoulder. “I’m so glad you got away, hyung.”

 

Yoongi paused, thrown off. He’d expected more anger from Jimin but instead he was being comforting and Yoongi preferred that. He knew, intellectually, that he wasn’t at fault. He told himself that sometimes, when it got particularly bad, but most of the time he couldn’t muster up the courage to think that way. Usually, he fell into a spiral of how do I fix my mistake and he’d been like that for over a year. Only one? Yoongi asked himself silently as Jimin held him, swaying slightly, or all four? Yoongi honestly wasn’t sure of the answer to that question, so he spoke to Jimin instead. “Me too. I heard you, you know. Asking me to come with you. That’s how I got out.”

 

Burying his nose into Yoongi’s shoulder, Jimin felt tears prickle his eyes. “R-really?”

 

“Yea,” Yoongi admitted, “you’re the only one who tried.”

 

“Hyung,” Jimin sobbed out, shoulders shaking. Yoongi let his head fall back onto Jimin’s shoulder as he stared at the ceiling. His eyes were suspiciously dry, but he figured he’d cried enough. At least for now. 

 

“I’m sorry for putting you through this, Jiminie.”

 

“No, no,” Jimin rejected quickly, shaking his head as he pulled away. “I’m so glad you’re here and talking to me. I love you, hyung, I just want to help.”

 

“Even if I stay forever?” Yoongi teased, turning to look at Jimin while trying to make light of the situation.

 

“Even then. That room has always been yours, hyung,” Jimin admitted.

 

“I don’t deserve you.”

 

Pulling him in again, Jimin hugged Yoongi gently. “You deserve so much more than me and I’m not going to stop until you believe that.”

 

Yoongi pressed his nose into Jimin’s chest and breathed deep, calming himself with the scent of Jimin’s fabric freshener. “Okay.”

Chapter Text

The first time Taehyung realized his family wasn’t the same as everyone else’s he was probably about five. He’d been at a friend's house playing video games. Usually, he wasn’t allowed to do that, but his mom had asked a classmate’s mom if she could watch him so he’d spent the afternoon there. While they’d played, Taehyung watched his friend get increasingly angry over losing the game. Taehyung had never played before, but he was winning every round and his friend was getting upset. Eventually, he’d thrown the controller and started yelling. Unsure what to do, Taehyung had apologized and offered to play another round so his friend could win. He hadn’t been given the chance though, because his friend’s mom had appeared and chastised the boy before giving him a time out. Then she’d told him that just because he was angry, didn’t mean he could speak to his friends like that. Taehyung had never heard of that before. Discipline in his household was swift and physical, so he’d just assumed that was the way it was everywhere. It was not. He remembered asking his friend’s mom if she was going to hit him, which received an understandable horrified reaction. He wasn’t allowed to play at that house anymore after that. 

 

But, like many things in childhood, Taehyung had internalized that and moved on. The only difference was that now he was aware there was another option. When he was nearly seven, he saw a couple arguing at a school picnic. They were the parents of one of the girls in the class above him and though he didn’t know her, he found himself watching her parents closely. They were arguing, clearly angry, but the mother didn’t look afraid. His mom always looked afraid when his father was angry. It didn’t make sense to him that the other mom wasn’t afraid. Wasn’t that just the way it was? He’d asked his friend about it too, but she’d look confused, wondering why anyone would be afraid of their parents. 

 

It had taken less than a year for Taehyung to figure out what the difference was. He hadn’t had a word for it, but eventually, he’d started to understand the whispers that accompanied him wherever he went: abuse. No one did anything but whisper though, so Taehyung didn’t understand that it was bad. Just thought it was different. Maybe not everyone had parents that hit him when they were mad or moms who were afraid of their husbands, but that didn’t mean it was wrong.

 

By nine, Taehyung had finally realized the truth. It had come randomly, in the form of a silly movie his friends had wanted to watch. It was a romance, so all the girls in his class were giggling and happy. Taehyung hadn’t really understood but seeing two people fall in love had made him warm inside, so he’d assumed that was why. But the main person had been afraid most of the movie, an ominous presence threatening her happiness with the new, slightly scruffy man. It had taken him until the end of the movie to realize he was seeing an abusive relationship much like the one he saw at home. Looking around, he’d seen his friends yelling at the TV, calling the angry man a villain and a monster. It was then he realized, in this scenario, his dad was the monster. Which brought up the question, why hadn’t his mom left? This lady had and she was so much happier so why didn’t she?

 

From then on, Taehyung had begun to ask just that. Over and over, when his dad was at work, he’d ask his mom why she didn’t leave. Why she stayed when dad was so angry and mean. He’d tell her she would be happy somewhere else because that’s how it worked. Taehyung didn’t know, even now, if it had been his constant pestering or his mother’s own desire for escape that had made her run one day, but she had. The first time, she’d taken him with her. He remembered sitting in an old, smelly motel while his mother cried. It wasn’t the image he’d had in his mind ever since watching the movie. His mom cried more now than she had when they lived at home. But Taehyung had believed it would get better because it was supposed to. It hadn’t though. According to his therapist, it was likely because his mother wasn’t ready to deal with the idea of living and raising a child alone. Taehyung wasn’t sure about that, but he was sure that they hadn’t lasted long on their own. After what felt like months but he now knew was only a few days, they’d returned home. He’d never seen that look on his father’s face before but it terrified him. Mostly because it was happy. Like he’d gotten what he wanted. 

 

Less than a year later, she’d run again. This time she didn’t bring Taehyung with her. She also didn’t come back. At first, Taehyung had told himself that she would come back when she was ready. When she had a home that wasn’t a smelly motel. That didn’t happen, but he’d dreamed about it. At least at first. After a few months, Taehyung had snuck onto the family computer just to watch the movie again. As he watched, he pictured his mother living happily, free from the scary presence like in the movie. He’d hoped she’d come to get him then too. But by the end, he’d realized that she wouldn’t. The woman in the movie was happy because she didn’t have someone to take care of. His mom couldn’t take him with her if she wanted to be happy, so she hadn’t. 

 

After that, things had gotten particularly bad. His father, now only having one outlet for his anger, had started targeting him while previously he’d only suffered as a form of punishment. And Taehyung had lashed out too. More from sadness than anger, but he had. Not paying attention in class, isolating himself from his friends, everything. The school had tried to help, but there was only so much they could do when he refused to talk and his father refused to listen. Plus, the school eventually realized he was absent for a few days after his father was called and began to fear they were making the situation worse so they’d stopped intervening almost altogether. 

 

By the time he was thirteen, Taehyung had become an isolated, angry boy. Angry at himself for keeping his mom in a terrible situation for so long. Angry at her for leaving him. Angry at his father for making her leave and hurting him. Angry at the school for letting him live the way he did. Angry at his friends, the ones who tried to stay, for having good families and homes. Just angry at everything. 

 

And then, quite suddenly, everything had changed. When they’d come for him, he’d been home, hiding in his room. His dad was usually more angry on Mondays so he’d learned to avoid him. The doorbell had startled him but he’d managed to answer it, worried not doing so would give a bad impression which would make his father angry. As it turns out, he had no reason to worry about that. On his way home from work, Taehyung’s father had hit a tree. He’d been drunk, as he usually was, but no one else was hurt. His dad was dead and gone and suddenly Taehyung was alone.

 

Within a few hours, Taehyung found himself standing in front of his apartment building with what little he could carry while police officers talked like he wasn’t there. He’d had no idea where he was going, nor had he really cared. He’d simply followed along as they brought him to a car and stared mindlessly out a window as he drove further and further out of the city. Eventually, all he’d seen was green. Once they’d arrived at a small house surrounded by more farmland, the vehicle had stopped and he’d been escorted out. Taehyung could still remember looking around in confusion and the smell of overripe strawberries in the air. He’d been so focused on that, he’d missed the older woman running from the house, tears streaming down her face, until she’d nearly collided with him. She’d stopped though, just within reach, when he’d jumped away from her. The rest of the evening was mostly a blur. Even years later, Taehyung wasn’t totally sure what had happened. But he did know that she was his grandmother and the quiet man who hadn’t come out as quickly was his grandfather. As it turned out, they were his father’s parents. He’d never met them. Never even knew they were alive but they were and this was his new home. 

 

After fourteen years in a household anyone would call abusive, Taehyung was suddenly thrown into a new world. Where his new guardians were nice and supportive. Where they never raised their voices or got mad. He hadn’t handled it well. He’d rebelled, caused issues. He’d made their lives hell, but they never complained. The only thing they ever did was tell him when he was in the wrong. That hadn’t helped and honestly, Taehyung hadn’t even really been aware of why he was lashing out. Just that he felt the need to. That’s when they’d brought him to a counsellor. He’d been a nice man. Patient. Which was probably for the best because Taehyung wasn’t the best patient. But over time, it began to help. He’d learned to deal with his emotions and memories in a healthier way. He credited his grandparents and that counsellor for all his current success.

 

He still went on occasion, but far less frequently now that he’d had more time to deal with everything.  He had methods to process his emotions now, both good and bad. He also knew how to recognize patterns of abuse, since that’s what they’d spent a lot of time focusing on. He hadn’t realized until his session how much guilt he’d harboured for not seeing what his mother was going through until it was too late. That’s why he knew what Jimin was feeling and why he was so careful with Yoongi. He knew how much it hurt to miss the signs and he knew how hard it was to start over. Taehyung understood both sides better than most and he was determined to use that knowledge for good. He didn’t know Yoongi, but Jimin loved him and regardless of their relationship, he knew one thing for certain: no one deserved to suffer like that. So he’d do his best to help Yoongi move forward. Just like the woman in that movie from so long ago. There was happiness at the end and Yoongi would get it too.

 


 

For Yoongi, the whole first twenty-four hours had moved slowly, like he was in a dream and his legs wouldn’t move no matter how hard he tried to run. After that, time flew by. Perhaps because he’d fallen into a routine of sorts. Though Jimin protested mildly, Yoongi had continued to prepare meals for him and Taehyung every day. It was interesting to him, how something so similar to what he’d done before could feel so different. He still worried about timing and whether they would like his cooking, but there was no fear. At least not all the time. When he messed up something, he’d often feel himself panic, a white-hot feeling flooding his system and freezing his body, but he’d gotten better at working his way through it and continuing on. It wasn’t the biggest improvement, but Yoongi was proud of it. 

 

He supposed most other people would be bored, but Yoongi found himself filling his time fairly easily. He wasn’t totally aware of how much time he lost simply staring off into space, his mind spiralling through wave after wave of negativity and despair, but when he did catch himself in that zone, he made sure to give himself something tangible to do. He’d tried watching TV too, but he’d become antsy, unable to sit still, so he’d begun cleaning and fidgeting again. The real issue is he needed something to pass the time but he didn’t know what. It had been so long since he’d been allowed to have a hobby that he wasn’t even sure where to start. Once, he’d had many things to occupy his time. In fact, he’d often felt like there wasn’t enough time in the day, but he wasn’t sure if he could do any of those things anymore. He’s spent years in school, but for some reason, he was convinced he wouldn’t be able to begin again.

 

You’re not that good anyway, why does it matter? I actually have a chance to succeed, can’t you think of me for once?

 

Yoongi shook off Minhyuk’s voice and refocused on the task at hand. He was sweeping the kitchen diligently, unaware he’d already done it three times that day, surrounded by the complete silence of the apartment. Or at least he was, until someone came in with a loud bang. Startled, Yoongi dropped the broom and peaked into the living room only to see Taehyung drop his bag and fall face-first onto the couch. Yoongi watched him, a wave of concern crashing over him, before tentatively approaching the couch and poking Taehyung’s shoulder.

 

Feeling the poke, Taehyung jumped, accidentally throwing himself off the couch. He hit the ground with a groan, then blinked up at Yoongi, who was watching him with wide eyes filled with concern. “Sorry, you scared me. You move so quietly.”

 

“Sorry.”

 

“Not your fault,” Taehyung assured him, rubbing the back of his head aggressively. “Did I scare you?”

 

“W-what? No, it was just loud so I

 

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung said again. “Bad day at work.”

 

“O-oh,” Yoongi replied quietly, shrinking back. Taehyung realized his mistake the second he’d said it, but he couldn’t take it back. It was a stupid mistake. He knew better than to tell Yoongi he’d had a bad day at work. That was a trigger if he’d ever heard one. Taehyung didn’t know what excuse Yoongi’s boyfriend had used, but “bad day” was an age-old one, so he should have been more careful. 

 

Trying to remedy the issue, Taehyung smiled up at him. “But that’s not your fault. Unless, of course, you were personally telling my models to ignore my orders?”

 

Yoongi smiled slightly and shook his head. “Not that I recall.”

 

Taehyung sighed dramatically and collapsed back on the ground. “No, of course not. It’s just me they’re ignoring apparently.”

 

“Does that… happen a lot?” Yoongi asked.

 

Opening his eyes, Taehyung looked at Yoongi from the corner of his eyes. He was picking at the couch but he wasn’t cowering anymore, which meant he was more comfortable. Taehyung had realized quite quickly that Yooongi was incredibly easy to read. When he was nervous or unsure, he fiddled with things. His shirt, his pants, his hair or ear, or in this case, a loose thread on the couch. When he was afraid, he hunched his shoulders and moved backward, a clear defence mechanism formed by physical trauma. Taehyung found that he couldn’t wait to see how easy Yoongi was to read during happier situations. “Sometimes. I usually have a specific motif or image in mind, but the models do too. Some are more stubborn than others.”

 

“What do you do when that happens?” Yoongi questioned, eyes still fixed on the couch.

 

“Depends,” Taehyung answered honestly. “If the model has a genuine interpretation of the motif, who am I to overshadow that? But sometimes they just don’t want to look as what they perceive to be ugly so I have to pull rank.”

 

Yoongi made a non-commital noise, “sounds stressful.”

 

“It can be,” Taehyung agreed, staring at Yoongi full on now. This was probably the longest conversation they’d had in the few weeks since Yoongi had arrived on their doorstep. Mostly, he kept to himself. Unless Jimin dragged him out, which happened nightly. Taehyung was very conscious of the fact that Yoongi was adapting to a new situation slowly, so he tried not to push or force him into anything he wasn’t comfortable with, but Yoongi had initiated this conversation himself and Taehyung couldn’t be happier. It meant something that he was trying to make a connection by asking about Taehyung’s work. At least Taehyung thought so. But that didn’t stop a spike of worry from clouding Taehyung’s judgement. He could see dust on Yoongi’s black shirt, telling Taehyung that Yoongi had been cleaning again. Like he always did. Taehyung had been the one to tell Jimin to allow Yoongi to maintain his routines, and he didn’t regret that, but he was also beginning to realize that Yoongi might not change them himself. It was the first time that it occurred to Taehyung that Yoongi might not know how, so acting on impulse, Taehyung smiled. “Do you want to go somewhere with me?”

 

“G-go?” Yoongi repeated, so startled he looked at Taehyung in the eye for the first time since they’d met. “I can’t lea I mean why?”

 

Taehyung chose to ignore Yoongi’s slip up, but filed it away for later. Though they didn’t talk much, Taehyung was slowly figuring out just what Yoongi’s life had been like over the past few years. He added ‘not allowed to go out’ to his list and sat up. “There’s this place I go when I have a bad day. It’s a few blocks over.  I figured you could use a place to relax too. You’ve been working so hard since you got here.”

 

“N-no, it’s nothing,” Yoongi disagreed, waving his hand dismissively.

 

“It’s not,” Taehyung countered firmly, making sure Yoongi knew the value of his work, even if they’d prefer he didn’t do it at all, “and we appreciate it. Usually, we work so much and so late, we don’t eat or just get take-out. You’ve been so helpful, Yoongi-ssi.”

 

Yoongi smiled and scratched his cheek. “Um, why do you call me that?”

 

“Yoongi-ssi?”

 

“Yea.”

 

“Because that’s your name.”

 

“You don’t have to be so formal.”

 

“Not without permission,” Taehyung said, smiling softly.

 

“O-oh, well, um, you can call me hyung. Like Jiminie does.”

 

“Thank you, hyung. So, will you come with me?”

 

Yoongi glanced around nervously, biting on his nails. That’s a new one, Taehyung observed, having never seen the older man bite his nails before. Realizing he may have pushed too far too fast, Taehyung began to tell Yoongi it was okay, but he was interrupted. “Sure. Okay.”

 

“You’re sure? You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

 

“No, I– it’ll be nice to go outside.”

 

“Okay,” Taehyung agreed, jumping up. Moving quickly Taehyung grabbed his bag again and coat, pausing when he reached the door to frown at Yoongi. “Do you have a coat?”

 

“No, but this is fine,” Yoongi assured.

 

Shaking his head, Taehyung swiped a coat from the hanger and handed it to Yoongi. “No, put this on. It’s a little chilly.”

 

Without a word, Yoongi accepted the coat and slipped it on. It was too big, so his hands were hidden by the sleeves, but it was warm so he was grateful, especially when he stepped outside and felt the wind. He supposed he shouldn’t be surprised, it was Fall after all, but he hadn’t noticed how cold it had gotten since he’d fled here a few weeks prior. 

 

Taehyung glanced behind him, making sure Yoongi was following, then headed down the street. They didn’t need to walk for long, it was only two blocks, but he kept checking on Yoongi just in case. This little trip had two purposes: 1) get Yoongi out of the house for once 2) see how he reacted to being around people and loud noise. He still wasn’t sure what Yoongi’s triggers were and as much as he hated basically having to test everything he did, he hated the thought of accidentally doing or saying something more. Plus, he figured as long as he asked before he did anything and everything, Yoongi would either tell him or show signs of discomfort. So far, he looked fine. In fact, he was looking around curiously taking in everything. He didn’t seem to be paying attention to where they were going but once he realized where he was, he halted. “What is this?”

 

Looking around himself, taking in the large trees, all a beautiful mix of yellows, oranges, and reds, the green grass, and the old stone bench, Taehyung sighed in contentment. “I’m not sure. I think it was a private garden once. Maybe it still is, but no one ever comes here. So when I’m stressed out, I just come and sit here.”

 

“It’s beautiful,” Yoongi observed, taking a seat on the bench beside where Taehyung had placed his bag. “Like an oasis surrounded by cement.”

 

“I grew up in the country, farmland as far as the eye could see, so I tend to seek out places like this when I can,” Taehyung told him, referring to the part of his childhood he didn’t mind talking about. He figured, one day, he’d tell Yoongi about it since they’d suffered through something similar, but he figured that was a conversation for when they knew each other better. 

 

“Oh? Where’d you grow up?”

 

“Geochang County.”

 

“Daegu,” Yoongi murmured softly.

 

“Yea,” Taehyung agreed, not commenting further. He’d been avoiding using satoori or talking about Daegu since Yoongi came. Usually, he’d jump at the chance, but again, he didn’t know what the triggers were so he wanted to avoid them when possible. 

 

Language didn’t seem to be one of them though, because Yoongi immediately switched to satoori, his voice growing slower and deeper as he spoke. Taehyung admired it for a second, both for its familiarity and appreciation for Yoongi’s voice. “Taejeon-dong. Um, that’s where I was born.”

 

Taehyung smiled. “Small world.”

 

Yoongi didn’t respond after that and Taehyung didn’t make him. Instead, he did what he usually did when he came here: he pulled out his camera and began taking pictures of the area. He had thousands already, millions even, but he always did this. Something about it was comforting. Well, not just something, he knew why. “You know I never wanted to photograph people.

 

“What?” Yoongi asked, surprised by the sudden change in topic. 

 

“I never wanted to photograph people,” Taehyung repeated, kneeling down as he took an upward shot of the tree. “I’d take pictures of friends or someone I found particularly beautiful on occasion, but that wasn’t my passion.”

 

“No? What was then?” Yoongi asked, finding he was curious.

 

“Landscapes. Nature. There’s just something utterly relaxing about capturing the world outside. I could take ten photos, a hundred even, from the same position without moving and they’d all be different. I love that.”

 

Yoongi licked his lips, remembering his own, long-forgotten passion. The feeling of happiness and wholeness that would encompass him when he finished a song or a beat. The pride he’d feel when people liked what they heard. As he had before, he found himself wondering if he was even still capable of that, but shoved it away in favour of asking Taehyung a follow-up question. “Why’d you stop?”

 

“I never stopped,” Taehyung denied, “I just shifted focus. I put myself through school, which sounds noble and great, but it comes with a fuck ton of debt that I needed to pay once I graduated. My professor got me a job assisting on a magazine photoshoot and I never left. It wasn’t supposed to be forever, but that’s just the way it worked out.”

 

“Sometimes life changes your plans,” Yoongi agreed, leaning back on his hands as he looked at the trees above him, his mind drifting once again.

 

Snapping a photo of him quickly, Taehyung nodded. “It does. As long as you’re comfortable with that, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Plus, I’m damned good at my job.”

 

Yoongi looked down again when he felt Taehyung’s presence near him. On the small screen of Taehyung’s camera, he saw himself, leaning on an old stone bench, looking relaxed. Happy even. Yoongi blinked. Is that what I look like right now? He could remember his face when he’d caught sight of it in Jimin’s mirror the night he’d arrived. He’d looked defeated then, but he didn’t now. Yoongi bit his lip, touching the screen gently. “It’s beautiful.”

 

“A picture is only as good as its subject,” Taehyung replied casually, watching Yoongi’s face. He didn’t look upset, so physical appearance didn’t seem to be a trigger either. For that, Taehyung was thankful. He could already tell Yoongi lacked self-confidence, but he was glad it wasn’t all-encompassing. He wanted to help as much as possible, but he could only do so much. Which reminded him. “We should head back now, if you stay any longer you’ll be behind schedule.”

 

Freezing instantly, Yoongi looked at the little clock on Taehyung’s camera in shock. He’d forgotten. At this rate, Jimin would be home before dinner was ready. Yoongi would be late. He couldn’t be late. If he was latewhat? What would happen? Taehyung is the one who brought you out and no one told you when they wanted dinner. So you can’t be late. And if you are? What happens? Yoongi’s eyes flicked between Taehyung and the camera. Taehyung could see the panic there, but he knew Yoongi had to work through it himself so he remained quiet. 

 

I appreciate you cooking for me, hyung, but you don’t need to. I can cook for myself. Just relax while you’re here, okay? Yoongi’s brows furrowed, remembering Jimin’s words from a few days prior. Yoongi had been cooking breakfast when Jimin had wandered into the kitchen an hour earlier than usual. Apparently, he had an early meeting which he had neglected to tell Yoongi about. Yoongi had just about panicked, but Jimin had calmed him down, telling him not to worry. It’s not your job anymore

 

“I-it’s okay. Can we stay a bit longer?” Yoongi said finally.

 

Taehyung smiled and sat down next to him, having moved his bag to the ground. “Of course. And tell you what? I’ll even help cook so it goes faster.”

 

“I thought you can’t cook.”

 

“I can’t,” Taehyung agreed, smiling more to himself than Yoongi, “but something tells me you’d be a good teacher.”

Chapter Text

Yoongi felt his eyes crinkle as he shook his head, laughter in his voice. “No, no, you can’t turning it up does not make it cook faster!”

 

“How does it not work like that?” Taehyung wondered aloud, eyes narrowed on the stovetop dial suspiciously. “More heat equals faster cooking.”

 

“Technically, yes, but it also burns,” Yoongi explained, lowering the dial when Taehyung continued to just stare at it. “Maybe chopping veggies is the best job for you.”

 

Taehyung turned his narrowed eyes to Yoongi. “That sounds awfully like you’re moving me away from the actual cooking.”

 

“What? Really? No,” Yoongi answered quickly before pursing his lips as Taehyung watched him. He was having fun. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually had fun. It hadn’t started out that great. Though it had been his idea to stay later, once he’d arrived home and seen the time, panic had all but overwhelmed him. Taehyung had noticed and acted quickly. All he’d done was turn off the clock but by doing so, Yoongi had nothing to fixate on. Suddenly there was no time. It seemed simple and stupid but it had helped and now Yoongi was having fun. He found himself actually laughing with Taehyung as they cooked. Yoongi hadn’t thought that would ever be possible again.

 

“Fine, I’ll accept your delegation for now, but you have to let me cook what I cut at least!”

 

Yoongi scanned the vegetables left and realized all of them needed to be boiled. He figured Taehyung couldn’t mess that up, so he nodded. “Deal.”

 

Smiling brightly, Taehyung jumped into action and began peeling the carrots messily. Yoongi watched the process for a second, shaking his head, then returned his attention to the sauce he was making. It would need to simmer for at least twenty minutes before it would be ready to cool down and serve, so he and Taehyung had plenty of time to finish the vegetables and cook the beef Yoongi had previously defrosted for dinner. As they finished their tasks, he listened to Taehyung sing to himself. He had a wonderful voice: deep and soothing. It was nice to listen to.

 

“Why didn’t you go into music?” Yoongi asked before he even realized he was wondering.

 

“Me?” Taehyung clarified, then shrugged. “I wanted to be an idol when I was younger. Got lessons and everything but I didn’t have a talent for it. Luckily, I found photography not long after and fell in love.”

 

“Who in the world said you don’t have a talent for it?” Yoongi gasped out, turning to look at Taehyung in shock.

 

“Everyone? The teachers, the other students, just everyone?” Taehyung told him, somewhat surprised by the strength of Yoongi’s response. Yoongi hadn’t shown any strong emotion other than fear since he’d arrived, so this was entirely new for Taehyung. Not that he was complaining. “Why?”

 

“I would have killed for a voice like yours on one of my tracks,” Yoongi mumbled in a disappointed tone, “‘specially if it was mixed with Jiminie’s. Would have been unreal.”

 

“Your tracks?” Taehyung repeated, confused. He didn’t actually know what Yoongi’s job was, or had been, but suddenly he was getting an idea. “Do you make music?”

 

Yoongi’s whole body jolted then halted as if held in place. He stared at the bubbling of the sauce hard as his mind tried to make sense of what Taehyung had just asked. No one had asked him about music in years. Not even Jimin brought it up because he knew it was a sore subject for him. But Taehyung had asked so casually and he didn’t know how to respond. Sensing his discomfort, Taehyung chastised himself, “Sorry. Nevermind. How big should these carrots be?”

 

For a second, Yoongi didn’t answer. Taehyung started to get worried, wondering if he’d finally found that trigger he’d been so worried about tripping, when Yoongi spoke quietly. “Not anymore.”

 

“What?”

 

“I don’t make music. Not anymore,” Yoongi repeated, his voice a mere whisper.

 

“Oh,” Taehyung said lamely, unsure what to say. He knew why Yoongi had stopped, even without asking, but the passion in his voice when he’d talked about Taehyung’s singing voice clearly told him that Yoongi still loved it. He was conflicted, but deciding to push a little, since today was going so well, Taehyung continued. “I’d love to hear some, if you’re up to it.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes darted to Taehyung then away, refocusing on the sauce he was now stirring mindlessly. “The carrots should be one centimetre thick.”

 

Taehyung tried not to let his disappointment show, but he didn’t know if he was successful. He supposed he shouldn’t be surprised. Today was the first time Yoongi had talked to him when Jimin wasn’t around since the day after he arrived. He couldn’t expect Yoongi to just show him an intimate part of himself from before his ex like it was nothing. He knew that, but he still felt disappointment well as he turned back to the carrots and began cutting them to size. He focused on the good though, remembering his therapist telling him that small victories were just as important as the large ones. Yoongi was talking to him and making dinner later than usual. That was something. And he’d even told him a bit about his past. That was something too. Maybe one day Yoongi would show him his music. Until then, Taehyung could wait. 

 


 

Jimin’s whole body felt like someone had hit him with a Wiffle bat. Nothing was broken but god did it hurt. He always felt like that whenever he choreographed with Hoseok. The man didn’t have an off switch and considering Jimin was a workaholic, that was saying something. The only reason he hadn’t long gone running for the hills was that he liked Hoseok and they were friends, had been for years. If anyone else had made him work as hard as Hoseok did, he would have moved to Siberia to avoid it. 

 

As Jimin cracked his neck for the nth time, he fantasized about a long bath with fancy salts and several large glasses of wine. He figured if he pouted hard enough, he could even convince Taehyung to give him a shoulder massage, which would just be ideal. He was busy planning his attack when he stepped into the apartment and was immediately bombarded with a delicious smell. He took a moment to savour the smell, feeling a smile form on his lips. He really did hate that Yoongi cooked all the time but he loved actually having a home-cooked meal. It reminded him of spending nights at Yoongi’s during school while the older man cooked and chastised him for not eating better. Jimin hadn’t been aware of how much he missed those days until that very moment. That feeling was amplified by the sound of laughter coming from the kitchen. It had been so long, it took Jimin a second to identify it but when he did, he was crying before he could stop himself. Yoongi was laughing. Jimin hadn’t heard Yoongi laugh for real in over two years and now he was laughing in his kitchen. 

 

Dropping his bag, Jimin ran into the kitchen, skidding to a halt as he took in the scene. Taehyung was frowning at a large pot of water that seemed to have vegetables in it while Yoongi laughed, his hand covering his mouth and his eyes wide with mirth. Taehyung was complaining that the water wasn’t boiling, which Jimin could see immediately was because Taehyung had turned on the wrong burner, and was pouting at the vegetables. It was a funny scene but that didn’t stop Jimin from crying. “HYUNG!”

 

Yoongi jumped visibly, startled by Jimin’s loud voice. He looked scared for a moment before that look washed away and was replaced by one of concern. “Are you crying? Are you okay?”

 

Jimin didn’t respond, instead, he ran to Yoongi and engulfed him in a hug, burying his face in the crook of Yoongi’s neck. Yoongi’s hands came up automatically, hovering awkwardly by Jimin’s sides as he looked at Taehyung with wide, worried eyes. Taehyung shrugged, equally concerned. “Jiminie, you good?”

 

“Yes, I’m fine, I just” Jimin choked out, his face still pressed against Yoongi, “it’s just that hyung, you’re laughing! I never thought I’d I’m just so happy, hyung.”

 

Those words hit Yoongi like a freight train. Immediately, he wrapped Jimin closer and ducked his head down. He’d never really thought about how the past few years of his life had affected Jimin. Sure, he knew Jimin was angry, but he’d never thought about the hurt. It never occurred to him to really consider what it would be like watching your friend turn into what Yoongi was now. It must have been so painful. “I’m so sorry, Jiminie.”

 

“Don’t apologize, don’t do that,” Jimin told him, shaking his head. “I’m just happy you’re here.”

 

“Me too,” Yoongi whispered, just loud enough for Taehyung to hear. He watched them silently, taking in the way they curved into each other as if they were the only possible method of support. He supposed maybe that was true. No one else could understand their relationship and the effect the last few years had had on them. Not even him. After a few minutes, Yoongi looked up at Taehyung, his eyes shining and nodded. Taehyung wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but he took it as a thank you and smiled back easily. 

 

Then, quite suddenly, the fire alarm began to blare and Jimin jumped back and whipped around. “TAE WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT CLOTHS ON THE STOVE?!”

 

“I didn’t shit,” Taehyung replied, throwing the cloth he’d been holding in the sink and turning on the water so the fire went out. Almost immediately, the kitchen was cloaked in a light haze as the fire alarm continued to wail in the background. Jimin frowned at Taehyung who held up his hands, “that burner wasn’t even supposed to be on!”

 

“That’s because you turned on the wrong burner, Tae!”

 

“How was I supposed to know!?” Taehyung shot back, pouting.

 

“Maybe because there’s––” Jimin broke off, turning towards Yoongi in shock as he began to laugh at them both. Yoongi waved his hands in apology but continued to laugh. It was ridiculous. The kitchen was smokey, the cloth was burned, dinner wasn’t near ready, and no one had turned off the fire alarm yet but Yoongi was still laughing. He felt light for the first time in years and he never wanted that feeling to go away.

 


 

A few hours later, once Yoongi had retired to his room, Taehyung knocked on Jimin’s door and slid inside without waiting for permission. He found Jimin curled up on his bed, his chin resting on his hand as he talked on the phone. Jimin nodded at Taehyung but continued to talk. “Mhm, I know, I’m sorry. I’ve just been so busy the last few weeks. How about we have dinner tomorrow night? We can order in and relax, I miss you too… alright, I love you, good night.”

 

“You still haven’t told him what’s going on?” Taehyung asked, his eyebrows raised.

 

Jimin stretched out with a huff. “No, not yet. I’m not sure what to say or how much hyung wants people to know. It’s just easier if I keep him in the dark.”

 

Taehyung nodded as he came to sit next to Jimin. “Sure, but he’s not stupid. He knows something is up.”

 

“I know,” Jimin sighed. “I’ll tell him tomorrow over dinner. Not everything but just enough so he understands.”

 

“That’s a good idea,” Taehyung agreed, before shifting to the topic he’d come to discuss. “Do you want to know what hyung and I did today?”

 

Jimin rolled his head to the side and quirked a brow. “That I do. I’d like to know how he went from Yoongi-ssi to hyung and you managed to get him to let you cook. That seems like quite the leap!”

 

“It was,” Taehyung agreed easily. “I was surprised too but when I came home he started to talk to me, asked me about my work and everything.”

 

“Huh. That’s a first.”

 

“I think he’s gotten more comfortable around me, which is good. Anyway, as we were talking, I decided he needed to get out of the house for once so I brought him to my garden. He really liked it.”

 

“Your special garden?” Jimin asked. “I don’t even know where that is.”

 

“I mean, you could find it if you tried,” Taehyung muttered. 

 

Jimin shrugged, “I know, but it’s your place.”

“Right, well hyung needs a place too. I’m sure he doesn’t want to be around us all the time, so now he can go somewhere else where he’ll hopefully still feel safe.”

 

“He laughed, Tae,” Jimin said quietly, still not quite over it. “I honestly never thought I’d hear that again. How did you make him laugh?”

 

Taehyung thought about it and shook his head. “I’m not sure. It just happened. He was comfortable and he laughed.”

 

“I’d give anything to have that happen more.”

 

“We’re getting there, Jimine,” Taehyung said softly, brushing some hair out of Jimin’s eyes. “I know it doesn’t seem like things are changing, but they are. Did you notice how he willingly came out to watch TV with us the past few nights?”

 

“No, I had to wait, you’re right,” Jimin murmured, sitting up. “He just sat down after dinner before I asked!”

 

Taehyung smiled. “Exactly. It’s working, I promise.”

 

Jimin looked down at his hands as he fiddled with the bedspread. “Do you think meeting other people would help?”

 

“I do,” Taehyung admitted. “I think he’s not used to having a support structure so building one is essential, but our friends… they’re a lot.”

 

“Understatement,” Jimin agreed. “Maybe we can start with Jungkookie? They’re really similar so I think they’d get along well.”

 

“You think so?” Taehyung wondered.

 

Jimin nodded. “Not so much as hyung is now, but before. Jungkook-ah is more like he was before.”

 

“That could be good,” Taehyung decided. “Talk to him tomorrow and let me know what he says. Maybe we can do a movie night or something so hyung can leave if it’s too much.”

 

“That’s a good motherfucker,” Jimin hissed, turning his phone towards Taehyung so he could see ‘The Devil Himself’ on Jimin’s screen.

 

“Who’s that?”

 

“Minhyuk,” Jimin explained. “I’m going to tear him a new one.”

 

“No,” Taehyung burst out, hitting the ‘Ignore’ button before Jimin could pick up. “You can’t do that.”

 

“What? Why!?”

 

“Because then he’ll know hyung is here!”

 

Jimin’s eyes widened and he looked at the phone in horror. “Oh, god, what if he knows now!? What will we do? He can’t see hyung! He’ll go back and then that bastard will just kill him !”

 

“Calm down,” Taehyung instructed. “We just need to handle this well. How would you treat him if you didn’t know Yoongi-hyung was missing?’

“What?”

 

“If hyung wasn’t here and that bastard called, what would you do?”

 

“Ignore him.”

 

“Then?”

 

“Accuse him of hurting hyung.”

“Alright then you need to” Taehyung broke off as the phone began to ring again. Seeing the same ID pop up, Taehyung refocused on Jimin. “answer and act like you haven’t seen hyung since the last time.”

 

Jimin frowned down at the phone then hit accept. “What do you want, asshole?”

 

Is that any way to answer your phone? What if this had been Yoonie using my phone?

 

“He doesn’t call me anymore thanks to you,” Jimin spat, feeling old anger resurge.

 

There was a laugh over the line. “Is that so?

 

“I’m hanging up,” Jimin hissed.

 

Wait! Just tell me where he is!

 

“Where who is, you psycho?”

 

Yoonie.”

 

Jimin took a deep breath. “WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHERE HYUNG IS?! WHAT DID YOU DO?!”

 

Silence greeted his outburst. “You don’t know where he is?

 

“I SWEAR IF YOU HURT HIM I WILL CHOKE YOU WITH YOUR OWN INTESTINES, DO YOU HEAR ME?!”

 

Always such a pleasure, Jiminie.”

 

“Go fuck yourself you literal piece of shit,” Jimin cursed out, only to hear Minhyuk hang up part of the way through. Tossing away his phone, Jimin huffed and crossed his arms. “I hate that guy.”

 

“That was kinda scary,” Taehyung admitted, but smiled, “but well done."

 

Jimin snorted, but he didn’t look happy. “He won’t be fooled for long. Hyung doesn’t have any other friends, he knows that.”

 

Taehyung nodded. “I know, but this might have bought us a bit more time. At least this way, he might check closer to home first rather than Seoul.”

 

“Maybe,” Jimin agreed, biting his lip. “I hope so anyway.”

 

“Me and you both,” Taehyung muttered, staring at Jimin’s phone as if Minhyuk would appear through it. “Me and you both.”

 


 

For the first time since arriving on Jimin’s doorstep, exactly twenty-three days later, Yoongi woke up without panicking and wondering where he was. His eyes opened and he stared at the ceiling, recognizing the lines of the paint strokes and slight stains from previous tenants. For the first time, he recognized it as the place he should be, rather than the place he had to remind himself he was at. His first inclination was the thank Taehyung for that. The previous day had been lovely and left him happier than he could remember, but he also knew that he wasn’t really responsible. He’d been making efforts on his own. Small ones, but he thought they mattered. He hadn’t changed his schedule or his habits, but he’d stopped avoiding spending time with Jimin and Taehyung after dinner and he hadn’t varied his meals every day like he had before. He was sure no one but him would notice but that’s the only person that matters anyway.

 

With a tiny stretch, Yoongi rolled out of bed and proceeded to get ready for the day. His clothes were neatly folded by his bed, his outfits planned in advance since he didn’t have that many options to choose from. He felt bad doing so much laundry, but he couldn’t afford to go shopping for new clothes without a job so he had to make do. He briefly considered getting a job, but that came with a whole new level of worry, so he shook the thought off. He’d have to work eventually, he knew that, but the thought of having a job made his heart squeeze, a voice in the back of his mind telling him he wasn’t allowed to. He knew he had to get over it, but for now, he pushed the voice away and proceeded to make breakfast. 

 

Like most days, it went slower than they had in Daegu. He’d been wound so tight, so worried that he wouldn’t have time, that every day had felt brief. Now that he wasn’t under those constraints, he felt a bit listless. He tried to keep himself busy but there was only so much he could do. He found himself remembering Taehyung’s question: I’d love to hear some, if you’re up to it. He wasn’t, just the thought made him hyperventilate, but maybe he was up to hearing it himself. Yoongi moved forward tentatively, settling himself down in front of the laptop Jimin always left for him that he never used. He could remember his Soundcloud login and password. He was sure he’d never forget. Minhyuk had made him close it after he’d quit his job just in case someone found it and connected it to him. He didn’t use his real name, but he also wasn’t shy about personal facts and he’d performed under the pseudonym so anyone who bothered to look would figure it out. Yoongi had still been defiant then, so he’d only made it private, hiding it from view rather than deleting it entirely. He wasn’t entirely sure how that made him feel. 

 

With a deep breath, Yoongi clicked on his own top song and waited. After a few seconds of loading, his own voice came over the speakers. He’d been so angry then, so loud. It was hard to hear. So hard, in fact, that Yoongi jumped up and slammed the laptop shut, his other hand held close to his chest in defence. No, he wasn’t ready. That was another person entirely and he wasn’t sure he’d ever be ready to meet him again. 

 

Yoongi moved away swiftly, yet another thing he knew he had to think about shoved into the back of his mind. He wasn’t unaware that what he was doing wasn’t healthy or productive, but he couldn’t help it and for now, it made him feel safe. So, Yoongi spent the rest of the day as he always did. He cleaned and made sure the house was presentable. When he was feeling calmer, he returned to the laptop and closed out the Soundcloud, making sure to delete the history as well. Eventually, it was nearing five in the afternoon, so he began to prepare for dinner. It was earlier than he usually began to cook, both TaehyUng and Jimin tended to work late, but he needed something to do, so he chose a recipe that could be easily reheated and began to prep. 

 

He lost himself in the task, as he usually did, and before he knew it, the clock read six. Somewhat belatedly, he heard a bag hit the ground by the door and realized he must have missed Taehyung coming home. Living with them, he’d begun to recognize their habits. Taehyung always dropped his bag before moving further in. Yoongi assumed it was because it was heavy, but Jimin would insist it was just because Taehyung was lazy. Either way, Yoongi wasn’t concerned as he continued to mix ingredients together. He didn’t even look up until he heard a voice he didn’t recognize. “Um, who the fuck are you?”

 

Yoongi scrambled away from the voice, hitting the countertop hard, the handles pressing into his back as he tried to make himself smaller to get away from the strange voice. He looked at the intruder with wide eyes, eerily similar to a frightened cat looking for an escape. The stranger was tall, taller than Taehyung, with long black hair and tattoos. He was wearing all black and frowning at Yoongi. Though his eyes were large and soft, Yoongi couldn’t register that as he felt panic blanket his system. The stranger’s frown deepened and he repeated, “Who are you?”

Chapter Text

Jeon Jungkook was not a man with many priorities. In fact, people had often said he had none. He didn’t think that was true but he was self-aware enough to admit he changed hobbies and majors more frequently than normal. Very little held his attention. Mostly because he needed to master everything he did and once that happened, he grew bored. He’d been like that most of his life. All his life, actually. Until he met Jimin that is. Something about him made Jungkook slow down. Made him stay. It had taken him six months to convince Jimin that he wouldn’t take off one day after growing bored. Even he had been surprised by how much he’d meant it when he’d said I love you. It had felt like someone had made him pour out every feeling he’d had only to leave him feeling hollow but full at the same time. It had been an odd day. He’d cried. Jimin had cried. It was a lot. But since then, their relationship had been good. Almost perfect. Jungkook couldn’t ask for a better partner.

 

Until about twenty-three days ago anyway. That was the last time he’d seen Jimin in person outside his work. Since then, Jimin had been avoiding him. They still talked every day, both on the phone and via text, but Jimin wouldn’t see him. Not unless Jungkook came to see him at work. He just kept saying he was busy with work, but that didn’t make sense since Jimin invited him for lunch all the time. Jungkook was confused, to say the least. And worried. He didn’t think Jimin was cheating, but he was sure he was hiding something and it made him anxious.

 

With that thought in mind, Jungkook had decided he’d surprise Jimin with a home-cooked meal. They’d made plans to get takeout and hang out, but Jungkook knew Jimin loved coming home to dinner, so he wanted to surprise him. He knew the code, so he’d entered the apartment, humming as he kicked off his shoes and dropped his bag on the way to the kitchen. That’s when he saw a small man cooking in Jimin’s kitchen. Jungkook didn’t recognize him but he did recognize Jimin’s favourite stew. Or the ingredients for it anyway. His thoughts had halted, unwilling to see what was in front of him. Then they’d rushed forward in a frenzy. Jimin was avoiding him and there was a man in his apartment cooking his favourite meal. Unable to stop himself, he hardened his face so his pain wouldn’t show. “Um, who the fuck are you?”

 

At the sound of his voice, the man leapt away from him, slamming his body into the counter beside him. Jungkook held back a wince, knowing that must have hurt. Jungkook frowned at him in confusion. He looked terrified. He was trembling, his body slowly collapsing into itself as he tried to get away from Jungkook. “Who are you?”

 

“I-I-I-I—”

 

“Shit,” Jungkook cursed, running towards the man, who was no longer seeing him. His eyes had glossed over and his face had gone white. As Jungkook approached, the man pulled his knees up and rolled himself into a ball, the trembling only getting worse. Jungkook wanted to throw himself out of the window. He’d triggered a fucking panic attack because he was upset that Jimin had a strange man in his apartment. Kneeling in front of the man, Jungkook began to coach him through. “Breathe with me, come on, innnnnnnn and outttttt. That’s it. Just like that, breathe with me. Keep going.”

 

Jungkook wasn’t sure how long they sat like that, Jungkook murmuring quiet encouragement as the man slowly stopped shaking. Eventually, the man’s shoulders relaxed and his head lifted a bit, but not enough that Jungkook could see his face. “I’m sorry.”

 

“Why are you apologizing?” Jungkook asked, falling down on his butt so he was further away from the man. “I’m the one who gave you a panic attack. I’m sorry.”

 

“Not like you did it on purpose,” the man whispered.

 

“Doesn’t matter,” Jungkook told him, shaking his head. “I shouldn’t have been rude. It’s not like this is my house.”

 

That made the man look up. He still didn’t meet his eye, but he was looking in his general direction now, which Jungkook took as a good sign. “Um, why are you here? How did you get the code?”

 

Jungkook blinked. “My boyfriend gave it to me? It’s his place.”

 

“Oh, Taehyung-ah.”

 

“No,” Jungkook corrected. “Jimin-hyung.”

 

Jiminie? ” The man asked, surprised and what looked like horror on his face. “You’re dating Jimin? Park Jimin?”

 

“Yes…” Jungkook said slowly, feeling slightly sick. He didn’t want to think about cheating, but he really didn’t know what else could be causing such a reaction.

 

“But you never come by,” the man protested.

 

Jungkook furrowed his brows. “Well, hyung has been busy the past few weeks. With work, I guess.”

 

“Work,” the man repeated. Finally, he looked at Jungkook dead on, the same horrified look on his face. Now there was something else, guilt perhaps? Before Jungkook could identify it, the man scrambled to his feet. “I’m sorry. That’s my fault.”

 

“What? How?” Jungkook asked, following after the man as he ran out of the kitchen. The man didn’t answer, but Jungkook could hear him mumbling to himself. Something about causing problems and being selfish. Jungkook didn’t understand what was going on, especially not when he followed him into the spare room and watched him shove what had previously been four carefully laid-out outfits into a small duffle. “What are you doing?!”

 

“I’m sorry,” the man mumbled again, darting past Jungkook out the door. Once again, Jungkook followed behind, unsure why he was watching someone flee from Jimin’s apartment without explanation. Getting tired of the chase, Jungkook grabbed the man’s arm to stop him from leaving. Immediately, the man whimpered, dropping to the ground and curling into himself. “I’m sorry.”

 

Jungkook wrenched his hand away, horrified. It didn’t take a genius to recognize that reaction. Anyone who’d seen any movie with an abuse victim would know what it meant. What Jungkook didn’t know was who this man was and why he was in Jimin’s house. “I’m not going to hurt you, can you just stop running away?”

 

The man turned to him briefly, but Jungkook could tell he wasn’t seeing him. His eyes looked far away. Like he was somewhere else entirely. Then, suddenly, he jumped up and ran away, once again heading for the door. Jungkook didn’t know what to do. Thankfully, he didn’t have to figure it out, because when the man opened the door, Taehyung was standing on the other side, his hand raised as if was about to punch in the code. The second he saw the man with his bag, his eyes widened. “Hyung? What’s going on? Why are you— Jungkook-ah?”

 

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I have to—I have to go. I’m sorry,” the man said quickly, his words blending together in his haste to get them out. 

 

Taehyung looked over the man’s head. “What did you do?!”

 

“Nothing, I-I scared him by accident. He just panicked and ran away! He keeps apologizing! I don’t know what’s happening, hyung!”

 

With a sigh, Taehyung leaned down so he was at eye level with Yoongi. He saw the panic there, the far-off look, and felt his heart squeeze. Something had happened to make Yoongi this upset and he would find out what, but for now: “Hyung? Yoongi-hyung?”

 

The man, Yoongi, moved a bit, turning his head towards Taehyung. “Y-yea?”

 

“Why are you leaving? I thought you were going to teach me how to make chicken?” Taehyung reminded him softly, hoping a familiar topic would snap Yoongi back to the present.

 

“I-I, um, right,” Yoongi agreed, “but I— Jimin .”

 

Taehyung shot a look at Jungkook, who looked sad, then refocused on Yoongi. “what about Jimin, hyung?”

 

“Selfish. I’m selfish. He was right.”

 

“Jimin-hyung would never—”

 

“You’re not selfish, did we ever say that?” Taehyung asked, sending a quick shut the fuck up look to Jungkook, who had clearly thought Yoongi was talking about Jimin.

 

“N-no, too nice.”

 

“Or it’s because you aren’t. Why would you think you are?”

 

Yoongi’s head tilted back towards Jungkook. He didn’t turn around, but the movement was enough for Taehyung to understand something about Jungkook had made Yoongi think he was being selfish by staying at the apartment.

 

“Ah, I see. Hyung, do you think Jimin can’t make his own decisions?”

 

“W-what? No!” Yoongi protested, his head finally snapping up. His eyes were clear now, if a little upset, which just made Taehyung smile.

 

“Then he can choose who comes and stays in his apartment and who doesn’t, right?”

 

“But—”

 

“Did Jimin ask you to leave, hyung? Did he complain?”

 

“No,” Yoongi admitted.

 

“Would someone who wanted you to go drag you out to watch movies and play games with him every night?”

 

“No,” Yoongi said again, the hand clutching his bag dropping slightly until the bag hit the ground. His shoulders slumped then. From behind him, Jungkook could see the tips of his ears turn red. “I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t apologize, hyung. Why don’t we go unpack your stuff, okay?”

 

“You don’t have to—”

 

“I want to, if that’s okay?”

 

Yoongi bit his lip and nodded. “Okay.”

 

“Okay,” Taehyung repeated back to him, finally stepping into the apartment and shutting the door. He put his bag down quickly and kicked off his shoes, then followed behind Yoongi, who walked past Jungkook with his head down. As Taehyung followed, he whispered later to Jungkook, who could only nod, his eyes still fixed on the spot where Yoongi and Taehyung had just stood. He felt like a colossal asshole and he had a feeling that wasn’t going to change any time soon.

 


 

Taehyung sat on Yoongi’s bed, watching him lay out his outfits for the next few days. He’d noticed how little Yoongi had in way of clothing, but he wasn’t sure how to bring it up without putting pressure on Yoongi. But that wasn’t his current problem. Yoongi was making a point not to look at him. He kept his head down but Taehyung could see the embarrassment there. Yoongi was ashamed of his reaction but Taehyung knew he couldn’t control it. So Taehyung did something he’d never done before: he talked about his childhood.

 

“You know, until a few years ago, I couldn’t smell rum without panicking.”

 

“W-what?” Yoongi asked, his movements slowing as he turned toward Taehyung in confusion.

 

“My dad used to drink and when he did, he’d hit my mom. And me, if I pissed him off.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened. “Taehyung—”

 

“But it was only ever rum, so even years later, I couldn’t smell it without going right back there. My grandparents didn’t drink, so I never got over it. When I moved away to school, it was like sensory overload.”

 

“What did you do?” Yoongi asked quietly, his nervous fingers picking at his shirt in a habit Taheyung knew well.

 

“I got therapy, learned to move past it. I still can’t drink it though. None of my friends do either because of me.”

 

Yoongi frowned. “They don’t drink it because of how it makes you feel?”

 

“That’s right,” Taehyung nodded. “The first party I ever went to, a hyung of ours, Seokjin, had a bottle. I didn't know what it was, but when I smelled it… well, it wasn’t good. None of them have drank it since.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi whispered, his eyes welling. “I must make this so hard for you.”

 

“What do you mean?” Taehyung asked, leaning forward.

 

“I-It’s like—like you have to do it all over again,” Yoongi explained, his chest rising and falling sharply.

 

Taehyung shook his head. “No, it’s not like that, hyung! Not at all. I just—I want you to know I understand what it’s like to not be able to control your reactions. It’s like you see yourself doing it but you can’t stop it. There’s nothing to be sorry for.”

 

“But—”

 

“Honestly, hyung, it’s okay. I promise it is. If you were harmful to my own mental health I would leave or ask Jimin to find another place for you. I’m not putting you above me, I promise.”

 

Yoongi licked his lips and nodded. “Y-you’ll tell me if that changes?”

 

“I will.”

 

Nodding again, Yoongi moved closer to Taehyung, taking a seat on the opposite side of the bed. Taehyung didn’t move, instead choosing to turn his head so he could see Yoongi. He didn’t speak at first, his eyes downcast as he watched his own fingers move nervously, then his mouth twitched. “Before… everything. When I still— before everything, I’d miss things. Dates. Phone calls. Stuff like that. Selfish things like that. I was interning, so I was busy and I didn’t—I only focused on me.”

 

“That’s okay,” Taehyung told him when he fell silent, but Yoongi shook his head.

 

“It was selfish. Those things matter in a relationship but I missed them. B-but I tried not to. After. I was good too but sometimes I—” Yoongi broke off, a frown forming on his lips as he tried to stop them from trembling. “Sometimes I was selfish still. Leaving laundry too long. Or cooking the same thing because it was easier. Or-or not wearing makeup.”

 

Taehyung closed his eyes, feeling a wave of rage wash over him. He knew Yoongi wouldn’t just be cured overnight because he’d laughed with them once, but to hear Yoongi talk about himself was about enough to make Taehyung want to drive to Daegu and drown a certain asshole in a sink. “that’s not selfish, hyung. That’s being your own person.”

 

Yoongi pursed his lips, his eyes darting up to Taehyung then away, “I-I know that up here,” Yoongi admitted, tapping his temple, “but I can’t stop myself from thinking about it. Sometimes I— sometimes it gets so hard to breathe and I-I can’t stop myself.”

 

Shuffling over a bit, Taehyung leaned forward and placed a hand over Yoongi’s where it had been picking at the bedspread. “I know and that’s okay. Those thoughts won’t just go away. I still have them, sometimes.”

 

“Y-you do?”

 

“I do,” Taehyung confirmed with a nod. “When I’m on set and someone starts yelling, I still tense up. It’s a reaction to what you’ve suffered through, and that’s okay, hyung. I promise.”

 

“That man…” Yoongi whispered.

 

“Jungkook?”

 

“He didn't mean to hurt me. I know that but he grabbed my arm and I just— can you tell him I’m sorry?”

 

Taehyung smiled, though he was definitely going to give Jungkook a stern talking to about grabbing people. “He knows, hyung. But I’ll tell him anyway.”

 

“Thanks,” Yoongi said. “I think I’m going to go to bed, if that’s okay? I’m really tired.”

“Of course,” Taehyung agreed, standing up. “Call if you need anything, okay?”

 

“Okay,” Yoongi said, though they both knew he wouldn’t.

 

With a final wave, Taehyung left Yoongi behind and went to the living room. The second he saw Jungkook, he stalked forward and grabbed his shirt, dragging him into Jimin’s room on the other side of the apartment. Jungkook didn’t fight, instead just let Taehyung manhandle him. When Taehyung closed the door, he let go of Jungkook so he could rub both hands over his face. “motherfucker. Motherfucker.”

 

“Hyung, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to—”

 

“Not you!” Taehyung waved Jungkook’s worry away. He was talking about Yoongi’s ex. He wasn’t sure what he’d do if he ever met the man, but he was fairly certain it would get him arrested literally anywhere in the world.

 

“Who is he?” Jungkook asked after a moment, dropping down onto Jimin’s bed. “Why didn’t hyung tell me about him?”

 

Taehyung dropped his hands and looked at Jungkook. Sometimes he forgot how young he was, but he remembered now. Jungkook was sitting on the bed, drawing patterns on his pants while he waited for Taehyung to answer. It was an eerily similar habit to the one he’d been watching Yoongi do for weeks now and it made Taehyung feel bad. “It’s complicated, Kook. He was going to tell you tonight.”

 

“Um, is he— are they— um,” Jungkook tried, still not looking at Taehyung.

 

“No, nothing like that,” Taehyung reassured him, leaning against the door and crossing his arms. “Did Jimin ever tell you about his childhood friend, Min Yoongi?”

 

Jungkook frowned and tilted his head, clearly thinking. After a moment, he sat up straighter. “Yea, sure but he— that’s him?”

 

“It is.”

 

“But he—” Jungkook broke off, then his whole face hardened as he remembered the way Yoongi had dropped when he grabbed him. “Who did that to him?”

 

Taehyung sighed. “Look, it’s not my story to tell and I don’t know how much hyung wants people to know.”

 

“I think given what happened, he’d understand,” Jungkook told him.

 

“Right,” Taehyung relented. “I don’t know all the details, but a few weeks ago, hyung showed up here, his face and ribs all fucked up. His ex was abusive, had been for years. Seems that’s why he and Jimin hadn’t talked for a while. We’ve been working on trying to get him comfortable around people and doing his own thing again. It doesn’t seem like he was allowed to do much before.”

 

Allowed,” Jungkook repeated, horrified. “My god. Please tell me this man is dead.”

 

“Unfortunately, no. He’s still alive and he’s looking for him. He called Jimin last night. It’s only a matter of time before he shows up and Jimin is terrified that hyung will go back.”

 

“Why would he ever do that! He’s clearly terrified!”

 

Taehyung looked at him with a sad look on his face. “Jimin said this is the third time he’s left.”

 

“Fuck,” Jungkook muttered, then he jumped up. “Oh, god, did I make it worse?! He had a fucking panic attack, hyung. He just freaked out and I helped and he seemed fine but then I told him Jimin-hyung was my boyfriend and he just… left? Like he just ran away and started packing. He kept saying he was being selfish and I just wanted to stop him from leaving so I grabbed his arm! I swear it wasn’t hard, hyung. I know I’m strong but I would never and he just dropped to the ground like he was protecting himself. I swear I didn’t mean it! Oh, god, what if I—”

 

“KOOK!” Taehyung interrupted, clapping in front of Jungkook’s face. When his wild eyes settled on Taehyung, he continued. “It’s not your fault. You shouldn’t have grabbed him, you shouldn’t grab a stranger at all, but you had no idea he’d react like that. He’s not mad. He even told me to tell you he was sorry.”

 

“Why would he be sorry?”

 

“Because he knows you didn't intend to harm him but he couldn’t stop himself and he feels bad.”

 

“I-I figured something had happened when he just collapsed, but I was hoping I was wrong.”

 

Taehyung nodded. “We were going to introduce you two actually. You guys are pretty similar according to Jimin, so he thought you guys would get along and help hyung learn how to make friends again.”

 

“I’d like that,” Jungkook agreed, wanting nothing more than to make up for his previous actions.

 

Taehyung?!

 

Jungkook’s head whipped around towards the door, his whole body tensing at the sound of Jimin’s voice. “Oh, god. He’s going to kill me.”

 

“Yea, probably,” Taehyung agreed. “IN HERE, JIMIN!”

 


 

Leaning against his own desk with one arm crossed and his hand resting on his chin, Jimin stared at Jungkook, who was sitting on his bed like a child being chastised, “Let me get this straight, because you wanted to surprise me, you showed up here and accidentally sent my best friend into a panicked spiral during which you grabbed him and he tried to leave forever.”

 

“Yes,” Jungkook agreed, his head down and hands resting on his thighs.

 

“Jimin,” Taehyung tutted, “you know he didn’t mean it. I told you that you needed to tell him what was going on. This was bound to happen.”

 

“I didn’t think Jungkook would grab him.

 

“I just wanted to make him stop running away,” Jungkook whispered. “I-I didn’t know.”

 

Jimin’s eyes turned back to Jungkook, only then noticing the small dots on his jeans. It took him a second to realize they were tears. “Oh, Kook, shit, I’m sorry.”

 

“N-no,” Jungkook denied, rubbing his nose aggressively. “I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry.”

 

Taehyung sent Jimin a look, one that read I told you so and fix this in equal measure. Jimin winced at his own actions before going to kneel in front of Jungkook. “I shouldn’t have lied to you about hyung. I just didn't know what to say so I didn’t say anything. I’m sorry for hiding him from you.”

 

“It’s okay.”

 

“It’s not,” Jimin shook his head and grabbed Jungkook’s hands. “You told me you’d never lie to me when I first agreed to go out with you. I should have returned the favour. I do want you to apologize to Yoongi-hyung though.”

 

“I will! Of course, I will! Even if you hadn’t said anything I would have!”

 

Jimin wrapped his arms around Jungkook’s waist and nuzzled his stomach. “Then we’re good, right?”

 

Jungkook put his arms around Jimin’s back and smiled. “Yea, we’re good.”

 

Rolling his eyes, Taehyung pushed himself off the wall. “Now, what are we going to do about the meal hyung all but finished making before Kook showed up?”

 

“It’s hyung’s favourite.”

 

“What?” Jimin asked, pulling back. “Whose?”

 

“Yours. He’s making that stew you like.”

 

“Oh,” Jimin said, his hands dropping away. “Oh.”

 

Exchanging a look, Taehyung and Jungkook watched Jimin in confusion. When he noticed he rubbed his eyes, laughing in embarrassment. “That stew is only my favourite because it’s what hyung made for me after I came out and everything went to shit. He threw together this stew and went out and bought this stupidly expensive artisanal bread that honestly tasted like shit and we just ate and he—he sat with me as I cried. It was the best-worst night of my life,” Jimin explained, then turned to Taehyung. “Do you think him making it is a good thing?”

 

“I’m not him, so I don’t know,” Taehyung answered honestly, “but I’m betting it means just as much to him as it does to you.”

 

“And now he’s not going to eat it because of me,” Jungkook lamented, his head falling into his hands. 

 

Deciding they’d been locked up in an odd meeting slash pity fest for too long, Taehyung squeezed Jungkook’s shoulder and looked at Jimin. “Why don’t we make him dinner for once?”

 

“That’s a good idea,” Jimin agreed, ignoring the confused look from Jungkook. They could discuss that later. Jimin pushed himself up using Jungkook’s knees. “Let’s cook dinner.”

 

Not bothering to wait for a response, Jimin left his room. Taehyung snorted at Jimin’s behaviour, he was always one to take an idea and run with it, and followed him out. He heard Jungkook scramble up behind him soon after. He wasn’t totally sure if he could help Jimin cook, but he figured he could offer moral support, so he headed straight into the kitchen. But rather than finding Jimin sorting through Yoongi’s prepared food, he found Yoongi standing in the middle of the kitchen wringing a dishtowel in his hands as he stared at the floor. Jimin was watching him with his mouth slightly open, clearly surprised. Taehyung scanned the kitchen quickly, noting that dinner was already set up on the table with four place settings. Jungkook came up behind him, his steps stuttering as he took in the same scene Taehyung had. No one knew what to make of it.

 


 

Yoongi stretched out on his bed, his mind drifting over recent events against his will. It was like watching someone else move his body. It was like his fight or flight response had kicked in and his only thought was flight. He’d tried to explain to Taehyung what had happened, but even that didn’t feel right. He hadn’t been aware enough of what he was doing to blame Minhyuk. 

 

You know, until a few years ago, I couldn’t smell rum without panicking.

 

Hearing Taehyung’s confession again, Yoongi realized how little he knew about Taehyung. He never would have thought Taehyung was like him. There were no signs, no little movements. Nothing like the things Yoongi knew he did without meaning to. Taehyung had talked about growing up on a farm with a smile, so Yoongi wondered if that’s where the grandparents who didn’t drink lived. Either way, hearing someone else tell him panic like that was normal made him feel better. He still hated feeling out of control, but it was reassuring to know it wasn’t just him. And that it got better. He’d never really thought about his future. Just the mere idea made him nauseous, but knowing there could be a time when someone could surprise him without causing a freak out was nice to know.

 

But what about now? Are you just going to hide?

 

Yoongi frowned at his own thoughts. He wasn’t hiding, he was tired. If you’re tired, why aren’t you asleep? Rolling over now, Yoongi pulled the covers up to his ears and closed his eyes. He heard Jimin come home, calling for Taehyung, but still, he didn’t move.

 

Hiding. Coward. Taehyung said you had to move past it and you’re hiding instead.

 

With a huff, Yoongi tossed off the covers and rolled out of bed and stormed out of his room. He half expected to find people in the living room but there was no one there. He could hear vague conversation coming from one of the bedrooms and realized they were hidden away too. Likely updating Jimin on his most recent freakout. 

 

Sounds like you’re still a burden, Yoonie. Typical

 

Yoongi shook his head as if that would make the voice go away and retreated to the kitchen, his safe space. Dinner was still prepped and ready to go, all that was left was combining the ingredients. He’d chosen to make stew for two reasons: 1) they had the ingredients and 2) he knew it was Jimin’s favourite. Even before the whole boyfriend thing, Yoongi had been feeling like he needed to do more to say thank you, so he’d started making stew without really thinking about it. Now, he knew it was the perfect meal. Acting quickly, Yoongi threw everything together and brought it to a boil. He was antsy, worried they’d come out and catch him cooking. He didn’t know why that made him nervous, but it did. 

 

As it turned out, he didn’t need to worry because they didn’t come out until after he was done. That didn’t mean he was ready though. Unsure what to do, Yoongi ended up standing in the middle of the space awkwardly, waiting for them to arrive. Jimin came first, a look of shock on his face, followed quickly by Taehyung, who smiled, and Jungkook, who ducked his head guiltily. They stood in tense silence for a moment then Yoongi cleared his throat.“I, um, made dinner.”

 

“Hyung, you didn’t have to do that. We were going to make you dinner for once,” Jimin protested.

 

Yoongi’s head snapped up in surprise, but he remained adamant. “I just–I wanted to finish what I started and, um, apologize. For before. I’m sorry I freaked out on you, Jungkook-ssi, and I’m sorry you had to help me, Taehyung.”

 

“I’m sorry I touched you, I never should have done that,” Jungkook said, his shoulders pulled up around his ears. “This is your home and you shouldn’t feel scared here.”

 

“Home?” Yoongi repeated, his eyes widening, “No, I—”

 

“Of course this is your home, hyung,” Taehyung interrupted, sending Yoongi a reassuring smile. “This is where your family is.”

 

Jimin nodded vigorously. “If you want it, that is.”

 

Yoongi looked between Taehyung and Jimin, his eyes darting to Jungkook who was watching him with large eyes that reminded him of Bambi. A family. His initial reaction was panic. The idea of Jimin and Taehyung becoming his family made him feel like a burden. Like they were taking on the responsibility that should be his as the older person, but remembering what Taehyung had told him, he pushed past it. Once he’d calmed, he found that idea didn’t scare him or make him uncomfortable anymore. He kinda liked it actually. So he nodded.  “I-I’d like that.”

Chapter Text

It was probably a good thing that, even before everything, Yoongi had never been someone who was irritated by small sounds or repeated actions. Otherwise, he probably would have snapped at Jungkook by now. The younger man was seated at the other side of the table, his leg bouncing up and down incessantly while he looked everywhere but Yoongi. The breakfast had been normal enough, even with the extra addition of Jungkook, but now both Taehyung and Jimin were at work, leaving Jungkook and Yoongi alone. That clearly hadn’t been the plan, Taehyung had thrown Yoongi a somewhat worried look when Jimin had asked Jungkook to stay, but Yoongi had tried his best to look reassuring. 

 

He knew Jimin missed his boyfriend, it had been so clear the night before. Once they’d settled down and decided on a movie, Jimin had folded into him, like his body was just drawn to Jungkook. It caused a dual reaction in Yoongi. Happiness for his friend, sure, but also an almost overwhelming feeling of bitterness. That’s all he’d wanted with Minhyuk. Happiness. The feeling of being complete. He’d never gotten that, no matter how hard he tried to be perfect, to be what Minhyuk wanted, but Jimin got it so easily. He knew that wasn’t really true, somewhere in the back of his mind he was chastising himself, but he couldn’t stop the feeling from clawing at his throat like poison.

 

Sitting across from Jungkook now, Yoongi was trying not to let that feeling dictate his actions. He didn’t want to become the person that became angry at the world because something bad had happened to him. That was not who he wanted to be. Yoongi pressed his fingers to his eyes, probably too hard to be safe, then dropped his hands and refocused on Jungkook. He looked so young. Yoongi hadn’t really noticed the night before. His panic had prevented him from seeing anything other than a large tattooed stranger and then his bitterness had kept his eyes averted. Now though, it was obvious. Everything about him was soft and a little awkward. Not in the ‘still growing up’ way but in the ‘introverted as fuck’ way. Yoongi had been like that too. He’d overcompensated by making a persona he could scream his feelings into, but on a normal day, he’d been just like Jungkook. 

 

“So, um, how long have you and Jiminie been together?” Yoongi asked, deciding to go with a somewhat safe topic.

 

Jungkook’s head snapped up. “Uh, like officially or…”

 

“Are those different things?”

 

“Kinda,” Jungkook admitted, shifting in his seat. “I asked him out over a year ago, but it took like six months for him to say yes.”

 

“Really? Why?”

 

Pursing his lips, Jungkook scratched his face. “I, um, have a bit of reputation of being flighty, I guess. Not with people, but, you know, everyone just assumed it was the same thing. Could have been, honestly. Never bothered to check.”

 

“Do you think you’re flighty?” Yoongi asked, frowning. He didn’t like that word. It sounded… negative. Judgemental.

 

“I get bored easily,” Jungkook said with a shrug. “I’ve had 5 majors so far.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened for a second then he narrowed his eyes. “How long have you been in your current one?”

 

“Dunno, like a year.”

 

“Ever thought maybe you just had to find what you liked?” Yoongi wondered, picking up a fork so he had something to do with his hands.

 

Jungkook watched the motion and shrugged. “Maybe. Or maybe I just can’t choose so I do everything.”

 

“Nothing wrong with that,” Yoongi murmured, eyes still fixed on the fork.

 

“What about you? What do you do?”

 

Yoongi’s hand flexed on the fork painfully before he gently set it down and folded his hands on his lap. “Nothing.”

 

He wasn’t allowed to before, Jungkook heard Taehyung for the night before and cursed himself. He wished he hadn’t been left alone with Yoongi. He wanted to help, but he had no idea what he was doing and he still felt so guilty for scaring him the night before. He didn’t know if he’d ever get the sound of Yoongi whimpering out of his mind. It had played on loop the entire night. Even as he’d laid with Jimin in bed, trying to find comfort in the small body of the man he loved pressed against him, all he could hear was that small, pitiful sound filled with pain. “Right. Well, maybe you can try a bunch of stuff too. Find what you like.”

 

“What I like?” Yoongi repeated, his whole face pinching as he thought about it.

 

Pushing forward, Jungkook explained. “Yea, like I did dance first. Then vocals which just led to music production which eventually led me to photography.”


“T-that’s only four,” Yoongi pointed out.

 

“Oh, yea, I’m in videography now. I want to make movies.”

 

Yoongi scratched his cheek, a habit that startled Jungkook a bit since it was something he did when he was feeling awkward. “You said you switched around a lot.”

 

“I did.”

 

“But those are all related. More like finding a niche than changing around.”

 

“Huh,” Jungkook said, “I never really thought about it like that.”

 

“I was in literature. At first,” Yoongi whispered as his shoulders came up in embarrassment. Jungkook’s mouth dropped open for a moment then snapped shut. He wanted to scream a bit. Like in triumph? Was that normal? He didn’t even know Yoongi or what was going on really but he felt super good about the fact that Yoongi was telling him things about his past. 

 

Finally managing to contain himself, Jungkook made a humming sound. “We have a friend who did philosophy as one of his majors. You’d probably get along.”

 

“One of his majors?” Yoongi asked, blinking in surprise. He remembered thinking he was going to die buried under all the work of one major, he couldn’t imagine doing multiple.

 

Jungkook nodded as he leaned back, his posture opening up in a clear sign of his comfort level. “Yea, philosophy and music production. Reading his songs is like reading a goddamn book, seriously.”

 

“Music production,” Yoongi whispered, mostly to himself. He didn’t understand why his past passion was coming up so often after he’d barely even thought about it for the past four years. Music was something of his past, a thing he’d loved more than life itself but had to give up. Something he hadn’t thought about, hadn’t been able to think about for a long, long time. And now, he’d opened his Soundcloud again and found out his best friend had not only one, but two other friends in the same program. It was surreal. Yoongi glanced over at Jungkook, noting the way he’d slowly relaxed during their conversation. It was then he noticed he’d done the same. He wasn’t fiddling anymore and he wasn’t slouching. Well, not any more than normal anyway. Licking his lips, Yoongi said something he hadn’t in years. “I-I made music.”

 

“What?” Jungkook asked, sitting up. “Really?”

 

“N-not anything good but I-I did music production too.”

 

“Wow, small world. Now I’m sure you and Namjoon-hyungie would get along! You took basically the same route. Amazing. Where’d you go?!” Jungkook rushed out, suddenly forgetting himself in his own excitement.

 

Yoongi felt himself retreat a bit, but forced himself to reply. “Y-yonsei.”

 

“Are you fucked?”

 

“W-what?”

 

“You went to a SKY school and you have the audacity to say you didn’t make good music?! Come on, like they’d let that shit fly there. I wonder if I know some of your stuff!”

 

“I-I-I don’t know,” Yoongi managed to get out, a feeling of pressure suddenly building in his chest. Jungkook heard the struggle and pulled himself back, grimacing at his stupidity. Again. He really had no idea what to do or say. He wanted to treat Yoongi like a normal person, because he was sure it would piss him off if everyone treated him differently, but he was also realizing that he couldn’t do that because certain things made Yoongi uncomfortable. He’d seemed fine with Taehyung and Jimin yelling at the TV the night before, but Jungkook figured that probably came with familiarity and Jungkook was a stranger. 

 

“Sorry,” Jungkook murmured. “I get excited sometimes.”

 

Unable to answer right away, Yoongi focused on regulating his breathing. He wasn’t completely sure what had made him panic, but if he had to guess, he’d bet on it being his music again. That seemed to be an issue for him. One that he didn’t completely understand. He hadn’t been making music when MinhyUk had started when things had changed, so he didn’t get why music made him go back there. After a full minute, Yoongi felt himself relax. “It’s not your fault. I never know it just happens.”

 

Jungkook nodded. “I get like that in crowds.”

 

“Crowds?” Yoongi repeated, his eyebrow twitching.

 

“Yea, I don’t like being around a bunch of people I don’t know. Makes me itchy. Probably why dance and vocals weren’t for me. Too shy.”

 

“More comfortable behind the camera than in front of it,” Yoongi observed.

 

“Exactly,” Jungkook agreed with a small nod, finding himself falling into his own awkward habits again. Yoongi seemed to sense it too, because they lapsed into silence, neither one knowing what to say or do. Yoongi could already feel himself getting tense, the knowledge that he had tasks he was supposed to be doing starting to bother him, but he also knew it was rude to leave the table while someone was still sitting there so he didn’t move. Eventually, Jungkook cleared his throat. “What do you usually do all day?”

 

“Oh,” Yoongi startled, “um, usually I do the dishes from breakfast, then I clean the communal areas, then, um, I start preparing dinner for Taehyung and Jimin.”

 

“You clean every day?” Jungkook wondered.

 

“Um, yes?”

 

Jungkook frowned slightly, his lips forming more of a pout than an actual frown. Jimin had given him a bit of an explanation about Yoongi’s habits, but nothing in any real detail. Jimin’s tone made more sense now that Jungkook heard it from Yoongi though. Jimin had sounded upset and Jungkook hadn’t understood but now he could tell that Yoongi was doing some sort of penance for living here and he didn't like that either, so he straightened and looked at Yoongi straight on. “I usually game when I’m here, wanna join me?”

 

“G-game? I’m not good at games,” Yoongi told him.

 

“Perfect, that means you can help me level up.”

 

Yoongi’s brows furrowed. “Is that how it’s supposed to work?”

 

“No, but if I keep killing you, it will.”

 

“That sounds like cheating.”

 

“TomAto, tomAHto,” Jungkook shrugged him off as he stood up and left the kitchen. After a few moments, his head popped back in and he smiled at Yoongi, who was still sitting at the table. “Coming?”

 

“Sure?” Yoongi said hesitantly as if wasn’t confident in the answer.

 

“I’ll even let you have the good controller,” Jungkook teased, disappearing again. Yoongi stared at the empty spot for a minute more then proceeded to place all the dishes in the sink and follow Jungkook out. One game wouldn’t kill him.

 


 

“And then apparently Kook just comes in and my poor hyung just freaks out,” Jimin lamented, a water bottle hanging from his fingers as he watched the boy group he and Hoseok were working with mess around during their break.

 

Jung Hoseok, head choreographer and bundle of sunshine and snark, snorted. “I can only imagine what I’d do if a dude as big as Jungkook with all those tats just appeared in my kitchen. I’d probably hit him with a frying pan like it was fucking Tangled.”

 

Jimin smiled and shook his head. “Well hyung didn’t do that. He just freaked out and started to worry that staying with me was keeping me from getting dicked down.”

 

“Somehow I think that’s not what he was thinking,” Hoseok mused. He knew next to nothing about Jimin’s friend other than what Jimin had told him while they worked together, but he felt safe in that assumption. Everything Jimin had told him made this guy seem like someone who cared more about other people than himself so worrying about Jimin’s sex life seemed tangential.

 

“Yea, probably not,” Jimin admitted, though he was sure that was part of it. Yoongi hadn’t really wanted to talk to him about what happened, so all he’d heard were second-hand accounts, but he was pretty sure he understood. Yoongi had always been a person overly concerned with burdening people. Even before that bastard had made him feel like that. He supposed that was why it had worked so effectively and was likely why Minhyuk chose Yoongi. Maybe he saw someone he could manipulate by hitting already existing weak spots. Jimin wasn’t sure, but regardless, he knew Yoongi had tried to run because he felt like he was interfering. Everything he did related to that. The way he cleaned, made dinner. The way he made himself as small as possible so he wouldn’t impact Taehyung and Jimin’s normal routines. Taehyung told him to let Yoongi adapt at his own pace and he had seen an improvement, but last night had just reminded him that improvement didn’t mean fixed. He found himself wondering if Yoongi ever would be.

“What’s his deal anyway?” Hoseok asked. “Your hyung? Is he staying in Seoul or what?”

 

Jimin frowned. “I don’t know actually. He moved kinda abruptly so he doesn’t have a job or anything.”

 

“Seems like poor planning,” Hoseok observed, knowing nothing about the situation.

 

“It was for the best,” Jimin told him. He wouldn’t tell anyone anything without Yoongi’s permission of course, but he’d found he needed someone to talk to about what was happening without the crushing knowledge of abuse and Taehyung’s experience interfering. Not that he wasn’t grateful, but sometimes he just wanted to whine about Yoongi not wanting to watch movies with him or Jungkook showing up randomly without judgement. Hoseok offered him that. “Trust me.”

 

Hoseok sent him a look that said he knew there was more to that story but he didn’t press. Hoseok was good for that. He never asked for more than you were willing to give. It made Jimin think that, like Jungkook, Hoseok would be a good friend for Yoongi. That was a later thing though. One new friend at a time seemed like the amount Yoongi could handle. At least for now. “Well, it’s a good thing you have a spare room. He can stay there until he finds work, that way he won’t have to worry and find something he actually likes. What does he do?”

 

“He’s a producer,” Jimin murmured, a wash of sadness overwhelming him as he thought about it. That was probably the thing he missed the most about before. The way Yoongi would smile when he made a beat or his nose would scrunch when he tried to make lyrics work. As far back as Jimin could remember, Yoongi had been making music. That had all stopped when Minhyuk showed up and Jimin missed it. “He writes too.”

 

“He any good?”

 

“The best,” Jimin said simply.

 

“Then I’m sure he’ll get snapped up real quick,” Hoseok said confidently. “Maybe introduce him to Joon, you know how he is with music.”

 

Jimin tilted his head. “Maybe. I’ll think about it.”

 

Hoseok laughed. “You gotta let the man make friends.”

 

“Right, of course,” Jimin replied even as Hoseok walked away to bring the group back together. Yoongi did have to make friends but Jimin would be damned if he overwhelmed him with his chaotic friend group so soon after he’d escaped. Jungkook’s appearance hadn’t been the best, but it did show Jimin that more thought had to be given to the way Yoongi met new people. Especially people who had little value for personal space like his friends. 

 

One step at a time. We’ll get there.

 


 

As Taehyung watched yet another model redo her hair because she didn’t like the concept, Taehyung felt his eye twitch. The whole day had been a goddamn mess. He’d spent the entire morning worrying about how Yoongi was handling being alone with Jungkook. Then his first shoot had run long because one of the idols spilled coffee all over his outfit and it had to be replaced. The second shoot had been fine, at least that’s what Taehyung told himself, but the third and final was going to give him a coronary. The concept was edgy, not pretty, but two of the models didn’t seem to be okay with that. One had changed her hair three times and the other was now taking out her first look without consulting the hairdresser. Technically they weren’t behind schedule yet, but they were supposed to start in five minutes and somehow Taehyung didn’t think they were going to get their new hair in time for that. 

 

“You have this look on your face like you’re planning a murder,” his assistant commented, her lips practically suction-cupped to her coffee.

 

“That’s just my face.”

 

“Uh-huh, sure. Does anyone believe that?”

 

“Not as of yet,” Taehyung admitted, a frown tugging at his lips as he watched the poor hairdresser try and explain the concept for the third time. At least for the third time Taehyung had seen, god knows how many times he’d gone over it when Taehyung couldn’t see. “This is fucking ridiculous.”

 

“Yes, but what are you doing?”

 

“Solving it!” Taehyung snapped, then walked over to the two models who were now criticizing the hairdresser's technique. “Excuse me, what’s the problem here?”

 

Model One, as Taehyung had dubbed her in his mind, huffed. “Every hairstyle this man has given me has been a disaster.”

 

“Mine too!” Model Two chimed in.

 

Taehyung nodded, the twitching in his eye increasing. “Right. And who decided that?”

 

“What?” Model One asked, clearly surprised.

 

“Who decided it doesn’t work? The art director? The hairstylist? Me? My assistant? Who had the authority to decide that?”

 

“Well, I” Model One broke off, frowning.

 

Model Two picked up the slack. “We have a right to look good in a shoot.”

 

“Sure,” Taehyung agreed easily, “but you do not have a right to destroy someone’s work just because you don’t understand the concept. Your hair matched the style me, your managers, and the art director decided on. If you have a problem with that, you can go.”

 

“Go? You can’t just

 

“As of now, you are both holding up this shoot. The other model has been patiently waiting for the last hour, as has the entire crew, myself included. I have fired people for less and will do so again. So either get your hair redone or get out,” Taehyung told them then walked away, leaving both sputtering.

 

He was halfway out of the room, desperately looking for a vending machine so he could get a pop and load up on caffeine when the hairdresser stopped him.“You didn’t have to do that.”

 

“Do what? Tell them the truth?” Taehyung asked, his eyes still scanning. “I gave them latitude at first, I don’t care if the concept changes a bit based on their desires, but they took advantage and talked down to you. I don’t care for either and I certainly don’t work with it. And I won’t again.”

 

“Are you serious?” the hairdresser asked.

 

“Of course. Ah-ha,” Taehyung burst out, finally spotting the vending machine. He punched in his order and looked back at the hairdresser who was still watching him. “It honestly wasn’t about you, so don’t feel bad. I don’t stand for disrespect on my set regardless. If you’d been rude to them, I’d have kicked you off the set.”

 

The hairdresser blinked. “Alright then. I’ll go fix their hair.”

 

“You do that,” Taehyung agreed, sighing to himself once he was gone. He really didn’t like pulling rank to ordering people around but working with temperamental people was torture. He was only thankful he had the authority and reputation to put a stop to it now. When he’d been younger he’d had to deal with a great deal of disrespect and he’d promised himself he wouldn’t do so again. Just meant sometimes he had to be a huge asshole and he hated that. 

 

Thankfully, once he returned to the set, everything was in order. It took nearly an hour, but eventually, the two models were done with their hair and they began their shoot with metaphorical tails between their legs. He hated that he’d done that, but they were an hour and a half behind schedule due to vanity so he’d get over it. Probably. 

 

Four hours later, Taehyung was dragging himself up the stairs of his apartment building because the elevator was down for maintenance because of course it was. He was fighting the desire to just smash his face against his door until he passed out when he heard the sound of a video game and conversation floating through the door. Taehyung felt a flash of confusion then his mood instantly brightened, all his previous anger and exhaustion forgotten. Yoongi was talking to Jungkook. That was the only explanation. He hadn’t wanted Jungkook to hang around Yoongi alone but he’d known it was a good idea, so he’d relented. Now he was glad he did. 

 

With one last long sigh at the day he’d had, Taehyung entered the apartment, dropping his bag and kicking off his shoes as he went straight to the living room. He’d expected to find Yoongi and Jungkook on the couch: Jungkook gaming while Yoongi watched. Instead, he found Yoongi with a controller in his hand as he tried to play a game. It wasn’t going well, he kept waving the controller in frustration while his face alternated between frustration and pure delight. That expression made Taehyung warm all over. He’d seen Yoongi smile a bit and even heard him laugh but it was nothing in comparison to the smile he had on now. It was so large and gummy. Taehyung didn’t know he could be pulled in by that but he was. He found himself simply staring at Yoongi in shock for a moment before he shook it off and announced himself. “Having fun are we?”

 

Yoongi whipped around, a pout on his lips. “I hate this!”

 

“What?” Jungkook protested. “This was your idea! I wanted to play Overwatch!”

 

“That game sucks, at least this one is colourful,” Yoongi shot back, smiling as he looked at Jungkook.

 

Taehyung watched the replay as it played on the TV and snorted. “You are terrible at this.”

 

“I know,” Yoongi admitted. “I warned him but he insisted.”

 

“Again, I was going to play Overwatch.”

 

“Have you two been playing all day?” Taehyung wondered, walking in further so he could lean on the side of the couch.

 

“Only for the last” Yoongi broke off, his eyes widening in horror as he finally realized who he was talking to and what that meant. “Why are you home?”

 

“I’m done for the day. I’m even late,” Taehyung told him honestly even though he knew Yoongi was about to panic.

“O-oh, my god,” Yoongi burst out, jumping up. “I’m so sorry. Oh my god. The dishes. I didn’t the dishes!”

 

Jungkook watched Yoongi’s abrupt shift with wide, worried eyes. He looked at Taehyung, who shook his head a bit, then refocused on Yoongi as he ran out of the room and disappeared into the kitchen. They could hear Yoongi muttering to himself like he had the day before, clearly something he did to chastise himself for imagined mistakes. Eventually, Jungkook spoke. “Why did you do that?! He was in a good mood. Do you know how long it took me to get him to relax and laugh?!

 

“Yes,” Taehyung acknowledged, “but he was going to realize the time eventually and at least now he knows there aren’t consequences for mistakes.”

 

“Consequences?! Who talks like” Jungkook stopped talking, anger passing over his face before quickly being replaced by sadness. “Just what kind of hell has he been living in?”

 

“One he’ll never go back to,” Taehyung told him firmly before getting up and following the path Yoongi had taken. He found him where he’d expected to: in the kitchen frantically cleaning the dishes from the morning. Even from the side, Taehyung could see the panic in his eyes and face, in the set of his shoulders. “Hyung?”

 

Yoongi jumped and spun around, cowering away from Taehyung. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

 

“I was just going to ask what you wanted for dinner? I’m craving barbeque myself but I could go for something else,” Taehyung told him,

 

“B-barbeque?” Yoongi repeated, his eyes flicking between the sink and Taehyung like he was waiting for a blow that would never come. “A-are you sure? I know I was supposed to

 

“Jiminie said he won’t be home until later so it’s just us and Jungkook but that kid can eat so honestly whatever you don’t finish, he’ll eat,” Taehyung continued, watching the way Yoongi slowly relaxed as he realized Taehyung wasn’t going to hit him. Truth be told, that hurt Taehyung a bit. He knew Yoongi wasn’t entirely in control of his reaction, but he’d hoped he’d presented a soft enough presence that Yoongi wouldn’t feel that way. 

 

“Anything with beef is good,” Yoongi said after a moment, his fingers sliding back and forth along the stainless steel of the sink, “and potato pancakes.”

 

“Hmmm, my favourite. Okay, I’ll order now. Come out and watch me destroy Kook at Overwatch whenever you’re done.”

 

Yoongi nodded without speaking so Taehyung smiled and left him alone. But even as he placed their order and settled into the couch with Jungkook trash-talking him loudly, he couldn’t help but see Yoongi’s earlier smile. He hoped he got to see that more often.

Chapter Text

Ever since meeting Jungkook, Yoongi found his routine expertly diverted. Every few days or so, Jungkook would show up at the door, knocking loudly and smiling wide. The first time, Yoongi had been thrown off. He’d wasted a whole day with Jungkook and though Taehyung hadn’t been mad about him leaving the dishes around all day, it made Yoongi feel anxious just thinking about it. And embarrassed. He couldn’t believe he’d thought Taehyung would hit him. He hadn’t mentioned it again, but Yoongi was sure it had upset him. It would upset anyone. But either way, Yoongi didn’t want to do that again and he’d told Jungkook as much when he’d shown up. Jungkook had listened, nodding seriously, then smiled, his teeth flashing endearingly: I just want to hang out with you, hyung. My place is boring.

 

And so they’d fallen into a new sort of routine. Jungkook would come by whenever he didn’t have class and they’d just hang out. Sometimes they played video games, Jungkook had introduced him to a game called Gang Beasts that he was terrible at but oddly addicted to. Other times, Jungkook would do his assignments or readings. Yoongi liked those days because he could usually help. He may not have finished his literature degree, but he could still write and research well, so he could offer advice which made him feel useful in a whole different way than he’d grown accustomed to feeling over the last few years. But what Yoongi liked the best was probably that Jungkook didn’t have a problem just sitting in silence with him. Jimin often had to fill the space with noise, which Yoongi figured was why he was dating someone like Jungkook and living with someone like Taehyung. Quiet people paired off with loud ones. That being said, Yoongi had seen Taehyung when a burst of energy hit him, so perhaps Taehyung couldn’t be lumped into such a simple category. Just another thing about Taehyung that made Yoongi take notice. 

 

Ever since Yoongi had shown up here, Taehyung had thrown him off. Mostly because he never reacted the way he expected someone to react to him. He supposed that made sense given his past experiences, but even then Yoongi couldn’t help but watch him whenever he was near. Like he was trying to figure him out. 

 

The thing was, Taehyung just didn’t make sense. He was clearly very smart, even if he sometimes said the dumbest things. He obviously had enough money and prestige to live alone, yet he chose to live with Jimin. He was good at his job, Yoongi had looked him up, nice to look at, the understatement of the century, he’s beautiful, and super nice. Yoongi had begun to suspect he must have a fatal flaw somewhere because otherwise, it wouldn’t be fair for him to exist in this world. But even with all that, he appeared to be single and spent most of his time at home. Yoongi had worried that he was keeping Taehyung inside like he’d inadvertently done to Jimin but when he’d mentioned it, Jungkook had laughed so hard milk had come out his nose, which Yoongi was sure had been more painful than it looked. Regardless, nothing about Kim Taehyung made sense and Yoongi was beginning to wonder if he should bother trying to figure it out. 

 

“Hey, hyung?”

 

Blinking back into reality, Yoongi turned to Jungkook, who was stretched out on the floor, staring up at the ceiling. He’d been acting weird since he’d arrived but Yoongi hadn’t wanted to press. “what’s up?”

 

“Do you only have four sweaters?” Jungkook asked honestly, risking a quick look at Yoongi.

“I” Yoongi hesitated, then whispered. “this was all I could fit in my bag. Is it not okay?”

 

“No! No, it’s fine, hyung. They’re really pretty sweaters and they looked comfy, but I-I was wondering if you wanted to go shopping with me?”

 

“Shopping?” Yoongi repeated, “I can’t. I don’t have money.”

 

“I know,” Jungkook agreed with a nod as he rolled over and crossed his legs. He immediately put his hands between them in a comforting manner and looked down, “but I was talking to a friend of mine and I was telling him about you? How you help me? And he was saying he has someone who does that too but he’s like an official tutor that he pays for and I don’t think it’s fair that I don’t pay you too! So I got a breakdown of how much he pays his tutor and I was thinking, maybe we could do shopping together and I could pay you back with some new things. Plus I have to uh, wouldn’t that be nice?”

 

Yoongi’s immediate reaction was discomfort. He hated the idea of Jungkook paying him to be his friend, but he also knew if he said it like that, he’d hurt Jungkook’s feelings. “But I didn’t help you to make money.”

 

Jungkook nodded aggressively. “I know, which is why I didn’t even think of it but the second my friend pointed it out, it just made sense to me? You spend so much of your time with me and that’s awesome and I really appreciate it because I don’t want to be alone sometimes, you know? But when you help me with my work or proofread my essays, I just feel like that’s different.”

 

“I don’t know, Kook,” Yoongi hesitated. He needed money. He knew he did. He couldn’t freeload off Jimin and Taehyung forever and he did need new clothes, but he also didn't want to get his money from his friends. “How much does your friend pay?”

 

“30 000 per hour.”

 

“That’s too much!” Yoongi burst out, horrified at the thought of Jungkook paying him so much when he’d done it for free initially.

 

Jungkook bit his lip. “Would you–would you accept half then?”

 

“Jungkook….”

“Please, hyung? It would make me feel so much better! Plus you’d be helping me if you came with me.”

 

Yoongi frowned. “Helping? How?”

 

“Well, I kinda have a date with hyung tonight and I always look like a kid when we go out. He’s so… stylish and I’m just there in jeans and a t-shirt, looking like a college kid.”

 

“You are a college kid.”

 

“I know,” Jungkook whined, throwing himself back onto the floor, “but for once I’d like it so that when we went out people didn’t assume I was his younger brother!”

 

Yoongi snickered before he could stop himself. “So what you’re saying is that you need someone to dress you like an adult and you’re willing to bribe me for the help?”

 

“Yes,” Jungkook agreed, then rolled his head to the side, “but I really do want to pay you for tutoring. From now on, I’m not letting you help without payment!”

 

“Fine, we can go,” Yoongi said with a sigh, pushing himself up from the couch, “but I want to stop at the grocery store on the way back. I don’t want clothes, but I wouldn’t mind buying some stuff for dinner to thank them for always paying for my food.”

 

Jungkook frowned. “One sweater.”

 

“Food.”

 

“Food and one sweater.”

 

“Jungkook.”

 

“Food and two sweaters.”

 

“Oh, my god, fine. Food and one sweater.”

 

“Awesome!” Jungkook yelled, leaping to his feet. He darted toward Yoongi for a hug, only to wrench himself backward when he realized what he was doing. Yoongi hadn’t flinched, but Jungkook could still remember the way he had the first time they met and that image held him back.

 

Sensing his discomfort, Yoongi stepped forward with a pensive frown that strayed heavily into pout territory and tentatively wrapped his arms around Jungkook’s waist. The second his fingers touched themselves, he stepped back. “Okay, let’s go.”

 

“No, that was lameeeee,” Jungkook whined. “Hug me again.”

 

Yoongi licked his lips and glanced up at Jungkook, once again seeing the large, earnest eyes of a good person who really hadn’t intended to scare him as much as he had and sighed, before repeating his previous steps. 

 

This time, Jungkook returned the hug, rubbing his nose into Yoongi’s hair, and smiled. “I’m so glad you’re here, hyung.”

 

“Yea, me too,” Yoongi agreed. Feeling himself relax into the hug. There had been a time he was convinced he’d flinch away from anyone who tried to touch him but he was quickly realizing that wasn’t the case. 

 

Only I can take care of you, Yoongi.

 

No, that’s not true. It’s not.

 

Jungkook felt Yoongi’s arms tighten around him and looked down in surprise, but he couldn’t see Yoongi’s face, as it was buried in his chest. His shoulders were tense though, so Jungkook knew something was going on, but he didn’t let go, so Jungkook stayed where he was, trying to give off a comforting vibe. He assumed he’d done okay, because eventually, Yoongi stepped back, a hand quickly passing over his eyes before he smiled at Jungkook briefly. “Should we go? You’ll have to be back in time to shower and get ready for your date.”

 

“Right, okay. Sure,” Jungkook agreed hastily, his hand automatically coming up to his chest as Yoongi walked away. He felt a slight wet patch where Yoongi’s face had been and felt his heart break as his fingers tightened over the spot. Jungkook didn’t like the idea that Yoongi had been so in his head that he’d made himself cry without him really noticing. But at the same time, he knew if he pushed, he’d close off. The only thing Taehyung had drilled into him over the past few weeks was that Yoongi needed to make his own choices at his own pace. Jungkook would let him do that. Even if he wanted to cry just thinking about it.

 


 

The mall was teeming with people. Far too many, in fact, for either Jungkook or Yoongi. Both had gravitated together the second they’d stepped into the mall. At first, Yoongi had been surprised. Jungkook was such a lively person and once he relaxed, he wasn’t shy at all. But seeing him now, Yoongi was reminded of the Jungkook that had sat at the kitchen table and fiddled with items as he talked. The Jungkook who told him crowds made him uncomfortable.

 

“We can go,” Yoongi said softly, placing a hand on Jungkook’s arm.

 

Jungkook startled, then shook his head. “No, I have to get something. I never go shopping because of this!”

 

“Alright, well, why don’t we go in there?” Yoongi asked, pointing to a fancy-looking men’s wear store.

 

“That place looks expensive,” Jungkook whispered.

 

“It is,” Yoongi agreed, “but they always have a killer discount section in the back.”

 

“Really?”

 

Yoongi nodded as he directed Jungkook into the store. “back when I was interning, I’d do all my shopping here. Can’t meet famous

 

When Yoongi stopped talking, Jungkook glanced over only to find Yoongi had halted his steps, his eyes somewhat wide. “Hyung? Are you okay?”

 

“I-I’m fine,” Yoongi managed to get out. “Let’s go get you a shirt.”

 

“Okay,” Jungkook said hesitantly, unsure what had made Yoongi retreat into himself like that. 

 

Yoongi, however, knew exactly why. He’d been talking about his past again. Just like that. Like it was nothing. He hadn’t even been aware he was doing it until he was halfway through his explanation and then it’d hit him like a freight train. A few months ago, he hadn’t even been able to think about his passion and now he was mentioning it casually in conversation. Yoongi’s eyes flicked to Jungkook as he pulled out different shirts and frowned down at them as he held them to his chest. What was it about hanging out with Jungkook that made him comfortable enough to talk about his past? Hell, what made him comfortable enough to come to a fucking shopping mall? And even before that, why had he mentioned using Taehyung and Jimin’s voices for a track like that still mattered? Why had he just said that out loud?  

 

“What about this one?” Jungkook asked, holding a plain black shirt to his chest.

 

Yoongi blinked. “How is that different from the one you’re wearing?”

 

Jungkook pouted. “The one I’m wearing was four dollars and I got it at a convenience store.”

 

“My god,” Yoongi muttered. “Put it back, we’ll try another place if you don’t like anything here.”

 

“Are you sure?” 

 

“Of course. Though you can buy this one for me as my one sweater,” Yoongi offered, holding a plain-looking white sweater out. It was soft, sure, but it looked ordinary. Jungkook took it with a frown and checked the price. It was on clearance for 12 000 won. It was even cheaper than Jungkook’s suggested bargain tutoring rate. 

 

“Hyung, this is so cheap.”

 

“Is it?” Yoongi asked, looking surprised. “I just like the way it feels.”

 

“You’re sure?” Jungkook asked again, staring at the sweater.

 

“I am,” Yoongi confirmed.

“Alright, I guess,” Jungkook relented, heading toward the cash register. He paid quickly before handing Yoongi the bag, which he took easily. When they exited the store, Jungkook retreated into himself a bit, so Yoongi grabbed his arm again and pulled him forward, leading him through the crowded area. He wasn’t great in crowds, constantly feeling like had to look over his shoulder, but he was nowhere near as bad as Jungkook, so he’d help where he could. 

 

Before long, they stopped at another store Yoongi remembered having a decent sale section. As they made their way to the back where it was kept, Yoongi’s eyes latched onto a cashmere royal blue sweater. It was beautiful and he wanted to touch it. But it was in the new arrivals section so he knew it’d be expensive. Choosing to ignore it, Yoongi waved Jungkook forward and they began digging through the rack. This time, Jungkook was able to find a few button-up shirts he didn’t hate. They were still black, but they had some minor patterning on them which Yoongi took as a win. 

 

With much whining, Yoongi managed to shove Jungkook into a dressing room while he sat on the cushion outside the curtain. His eyes automatically drifted back to the sweater he’d seen before, but when Jungkook emerged, he tore his eyes away. “how’s it fit?”

 

“Um, good, I think?” Jungkook said, even as he pulled at the collar.

 

Yoongi shook his head and stood up, hands immediately fixing the buttons to check fit. After a moment he shook his head. “it’s too small. Let me grab a bigger size.”

 

“Oh,” Jungkook frowned a bit. “I really like this one.”

 

“Lucky for you, I think I saw a bigger size. Let me grab it,” Yoongi assured him, already turning away. Jungkook watched him go, catching the way Yoongi’s eyes drifted toward a certain rack before he disappeared around the corner.

 

Within a few minutes, Yoongi returned carrying the same shirt. “this is two sizes up, but you’re fit enough to pull off the baggy look without looking like a slob.”

 

“You think?”

 

“Yes, now try it on,” Yoongi ordered before dropping back down onto the couch. Though he was constantly doing chores at home, this was the most time he’d spent outside in months. Years even. He wasn’t interacting with people, but the mere idea of being in a social setting was making him tired. Thankfully, Jungkook emerged a few seconds later, looking equally tired with the shirt thrown over his arm.

 

“I’m getting this one! Let’s get out of here,” Jungkook insisted, already darting for the cashier. Yoongi followed at a much slower pace, the transaction already finished by the time he arrived.

 

“We done?” Yoongi asked.

 

“Yes, thank fuck. Get me out of here,” Jungkook whined, his feet moving much quicker than Yoongi could match. Noticing this, Jungkook slowed his steps, but his anxiousness was clear, so Yoongi sped up as much as he could and within ten minutes they were in Jungkook’s car, both breathing a collective sigh of relief. “I really hate places like that. Why does there have to be so many people there?”

 

“I think this is what normal people call ‘the public’” Yoongi observed, only partially kidding.

 

“Whatever, I hate it,” Jungkook said firmly. “That was all the social interaction I need for the next month.”

 

Yoongi snorted, his head lolling to the side. “How do you date Jimin? The man loves clubs and crowds and people.”

 

Jungkook’s smile was quick and so love-filled it made Yoongi uncomfortable. “Because it’s easier when he’s with me.”

 

“I’m going to vomit.”


“Rude,” Jungkook said with a tch but he was smiling.

 

After a moment, Yoongi sighed. “I’m glad Jimin has someone like you.”

 

Eyes darting to Yoongi then back to the road, Jungkook felt heat rise to his face. “That means a lot to me.”

 

“Good, don’t mess it up.”

 

“I would never,” Jungkook promised earnestly before they lapsed into silence. 

 

As per Yoongi’s instructions, they stopped at a grocery store on the way back and Jungkook bought the ingredients for fried chicken before taking Yoongi home. Jungkook didn’t have time to come in since he had to go home and get ready, so he pulled up to the front of the building and put the car into idle.

 

“This was fun, Kook. Have a good date. Thanks for the sweater and groceries!” Yoongi said as he grabbed his bags and got out of the car. 

 

Jungkook jumped out and rounded the car quickly. “Hyung, hold on! You forgot this!”

 

“That’s your bag,” Yoongi reminded him, seeing the brand name from the store they’d picked Jungkook’s shirt.

 

“No, mine is in the car. This one is yours,” Jungkook insisted, holding the bag out. With a slight frown, Yoongi took the bag and peeked inside. He felt his fingers begin to tremble as he saw the royal blue sweater he’d been staring at. Jungkook smiled at his reaction. “I saw you looked at it. I knew you’d never tell me what you actually wanted, too worried about the cost.”

 

“H-how?” Yoongi asked, his voice shaking as his finger moved back and forth over the fabric. He had been right, it was soft.

 

“When you got me a new size, I snuck over and grabbed it.”

 

“Jungkook, I” Yoongi broke off. He wanted to refuse but he found he couldn’t. “Thank you.”

 

“Thank you for helping me with school and being my friend.”

 

Yoongi held the bag to his chest, his smile turning blinding. “I’ll treasure this.”

 

“Good, now I have to go or I’ll be late,” Jungkook admitted, giving Yoongi a half-hug since his hands were still raised to his chest. “I’ll see you later!”

 

“Bye, Kook,” Yoongi waved after him, even as his eyes stayed fixed on the bag. He remained there, staring at the bag with a blindingly happy feeling settling in his chest. He couldn’t remember that last time someone had given him a gift without there being something attached. Minhyuk had given him presents sometimes, but they’d always been because there was something he wanted in return. But this wasn’t like that. Jungkook had just given him something because Yoongi had looked at it a few times. 

 

Sighing happily, Yoongi picked up the bags he’d put down when Jungkook came after him and entered the apartment building, completely missing the angry figure watching him from across the street. 

 


 

If it was possible to cut tension with a knife, the room Taehyung was currently in would certainly be a good place to try. Taehyung was leaning back in his chair as the head of his company rubbed his temples in exasperation as if that would make the situation go away. Taehyung watched him with little interest, his investment in the conversation having long evaporated. If it had ever been there at all.

 

“Taehyung, you’re at the top of your game. Why in the world would you want to leave?”

 

Taehyung tilted his head. “I don’t want to leave. I just want the opportunity to fill out my portfolio.”

 

“With nature photos.”

 

“Yup,” Taehyung agreed easily. He’d been thinking about it a lot lately. When Yoongi had first come, he’d explained his previous passion for taking nature shots without much thought. Everyone who knew him knew that’s what he preferred. But after that, he’d started to think more about why he did what he did. What he’d do if he couldn’t take photos anymore. He’d be lying if he said it had nothing to do with Yoongi giving up music. The two models a few weeks ago holding up the shoot and causing a scene had been a last straw of sorts. Since then, his temperament had shifted and he was no longer happy just doing landscape work on the side. 

 

“We don’t do nature shots, Taehyung.”

 

“Not at this magazine,” Taehyung acknowledged, “but I know you have at least two that do.”

 

His boss blinked and leaned back, tapping his finger on his desk as he watched Taehyung steadily. He’d known him since he graduated university. Moulded him into the great photographer he was now. Or so he liked to think anyway. He’d never considered much about Taehyung other than his ability as a photographer. He was seeing now, Taehyung had a brain in there too. An adept one. “so you’ll continue to work for me?”

 

“Of course. You gave me everything I have now.”

 

“Damn straight,” his boss muttered, then he sighed. “Answer me one question first: why?”

 

“Why what?”

 

“Why now?”

 

“Oh,” Taehyung huffed out. “Well, I met someone.”

 

“Are you serious?”

 

But Taehyung shook his head. “Not like that. He’s friends with my roommate. He was forced to give up his passion years ago and it just made me think about what I’d do if I could never take photos again.”

 

“So you’re expanding,” his boss said with a nod, “alright, I get that. Tell you what, get a portfolio together of your non-human-centred shots. I’ll pass it along to the art director without your name attached and if he likes it, you can go from there. If he doesn’t, then that’s the way it goes.”

 

“Deal,” Taehyung said easily, “thanks.”

 

“Sure,” his boss shrugged, suddenly very tired with the whole idea. "Now let me get back to work. Can’t believe you just showed up without an appointment. A whole brat.”

 

Taehyung laughed and pushed himself up in the laziest way possible, mostly just because he knew it’d irritate his boss, before shoving his hands in his pockets and heading out. Just as he was about to close the door behind him, his boss called him back.

 

“Hey, Taehyung?”

 

“Yea?”

 

“Not my business, but that friend of yours? Maybe you should think about why you let him affect you so much.”

 

Unsure what to say to that, Taehyung closed the door and walked away. He didn't really understand what his boss was getting at, so he chose to ignore it, instead letting his mind wander to dinner. Jimin and Jungkook were going on a date, so it would just be him and Yoongi. He considered ordering something, but a quick glance at the time told him Yoongi would have already started making dinner if he was still following his schedule, so Taehyung decided to wait and see what Yoongi had planned. It wasn’t the first time they’d eaten together alone, but Yoongi had been doing really well lately, smiling and laughing more, so he was feeling slightly giddy at the thought. Much like his boss’ words, Taehyung didn’t analyze that feeling too closely.

 


 

Yoongi was frowning at the pot of oil in front of him, trying to figure out how to deep fry the chicken without burning the place down or setting off every fire alarm within distance when he heard the front door open and the telltale sound of Taehyung’s stuff hitting the ground. A few moments later, Taehyung and his boxy smile rounded the corner, a slight pep in his step. “Hyung!”

 

“Hey, Tae,” Yoongi greeted back, his eyes still on the pot.

 

“Whatcha doing?”


“Contemplating how to deep fry something without killing us all.”

 

Taehyung snorted. “I have a solution to that.”

 

“You do?” Yoongi asked, intrigued. 

 

“Yea, give me a second,” Taehyung told him, immediately disappearing. Yoongi heard the front door close and frowned, confused. Less than five minutes later, Taehyung returned carrying a small, bulky item that looked like a microwave. “I come bearing gifts.”

 

“I see that,” Yoongi acknowledged. “What is it?”

 

“It’s an air fryer.”

 

“An air fryer,” Yoongi repeated, “How’d you know someone had one?”

 

“Because technically it’s mine. It was a secret Santa gift last year from a coworker who apparently didn’t ask anyone about what I’d like. There’s a family a few doors down who do this family meal night. Figured they’d like it so I gave it to them.”

 

Yoongi blinked. “That was very nice of you.”

 

“Sure, I guess. It’s not like I paid for it.”

 

“Still.”

 

“Anyway,” Taehyung continued, “I figured this would do the trick.”

 

“It will,” Yoongi agreed, then turned back to the oil, “though now I have to figure out how to get the oil back in the bottle.”

 

“Can’t you just pour it out?”

 

Yoongi looked at him with a horrified expression. “That’s a waste.”

 

“Sure. How about I fry whatever it is you need deep-fried and you figure that out?”

 

“I supposed,” Yoongi agreed, eyes narrowed on the pot of oil even as he replied. As Taehyung watched, Yoongi dug out a large funnel from God knows where and placed it in the bottle. He then proceeded to try and lift the entire pot, only to stumble a bit under the weight. Taehyung lunged forward, catching both Yoongi and the pot before it spilled. Yoongi looked up in surprise. “Sorry, it’s heavier than I thought.”

 

“Yea, maybe put the bottle on the ground.”

 

“Good idea,” Yoongi decided after a moment, glancing back at the bottle on the counter and then the pot in his hands. With a fond sigh, Taehyung shook his head and put the bottle on the ground. Yoongi smiled over his shoulder. “Thanks.”

 

“Uh-huh,” Taehyung muttered, grabbing the plate Yoongi had laid out and refocused on the air fryer. It was fairly easy to set up, thank god, so he only needed to put the food in and turn it to the right setting. Analyzing the food, he realized it was chicken. “Where’d you get chicken? We didn’t have any.”

 

“Oh,” Yoongi said, putting the now-empty pot back on the stove. “I went shopping with Jungkook today.”

 

“Jungkook. Shopping. Sounds fake.”

 

“He was very uncomfortable,” Yoongi agreed with a laugh, “but he really wanted to wear something nice to his date tonight so he was determined. We stopped at a grocery store on the way back.”

 

“Did you have fun?”

 

Yoongi contemplated that for a moment. He hadn’t thought it was fun at the time, Jungkook’s unease and his own desire not to be in crowds taking all his focus, but now he’d have to say he did. “Yes, I did actually.”

 

“I’m glad,” Taehyung replied instantly, smiling at the somewhat surprised look on Yoongi’s face. It had been a few days since he’d seen Yoongi panic over anything and it showed in Yoongi’s demeanour. He just looked and felt more relaxed. At ease even. Jimin had been right about Jungkook being a good influence. It wasn’t that Jungkook made Yoongi better, or even that Taehyung and Jimin did, but rather by being around people who didn’t intend to harm him, Yoongi was slowly regaining his previous comfort and personality. He was learning how to just be again. It was honestly amazing to see.

 

“Me too,” Yoongi said quietly, before stepping forward and grabbing the plate from Taehyung. “Why don’t you go change into your comfy clothes while I finish this up. I’m sure you’re tired.”

 

“Sure,” Taehyung agreed, leaving to do as he was told. He was somewhat happy to see that Yoongi was aware of his routine too. When he got home, the first (or sometimes second) thing he did was change out of his stiff work clothes and into something comfy. He was a big fan of pyjama sets and he owned a great many of them. He just liked how they felt on his skin. It was nice that Yoongi had noticed that.

 

Changing quickly, Taehyung re-entered the kitchen, only to find it empty. Unconcerned, he proceeded to set the table before leaned down to watch the chicken cook through the little window. It was a little captivating, so he didn’t notice Yoongi coming back until he cleared his throat awkwardly. Taehyung turned instantly, then paused. Yoongi was standing at the doorway, his hands anxiously rubbing his thighs as he looked anywhere but Taehyung. And he was wearing a new shirt. It looked soft to the touch but the colour is what held his attention. It accented Yoongi’s skin tone, making his already pale skin look even paler. Like alabaster. He looked beautiful, so Taehyung said so. “You looked beautiful, hyung. Did you get that today?”

 

“Um, yes. Jungkook bought it as a thank you for tutoring him. He, uh, wanted to pay me and I didn't want that, so this was kinda a compromise. Do you really like it?”

 

“I do. It really suits you.”

 

“Oh,” Yoongi hesitated, his eyes flicking up then away quickly. “I’ve been told I have bad taste so…”

 

Taehyung frowned, knowing full well who had said that.T “hey were clearly wrong because that sweater is perfect.”

 

Yoongi smiled, even if he still wasn’t looking at Taehyung, “Thanks.”

 

“Don’t thank me,” Taehyung said with a shrug even as the air fryer beeped, “I’m just stating facts. Now, why don’t we eat?”

 

“Okay,” Yoongi agreed, taking a seat as Taehyung grabbed the chicken and put it on the already set table. 

 

He grabbed two beers and smiled at Yoongi’s look. “What, if we’re going to do fried chicken, we have to go all the way.”

 

“Whatever you say,” Yoongi agreed, taking the offered can with a shake of his head. 

 

They ate mostly in silence, the conversation scattered throughout, but it was never awkward. Like hanging out with Jungkook, Yoongi found that he could just exist without feeling awkward or tense when he was with Taehyung. Eventually, Yoongi leaned back and watched as Taehyung finished off the last piece. Once he was done, Taehyung smiled. “You know, I’m going to be super fat with you always cooking. My body just can’t handle eating this many real meals without exercise.”

 

Yoongi snorted. “you could always work out.”

 

“Why in the world would I punish myself like that?” Taehyung asked, his eyes wide and horrified. When Yoongi laughed again, Taehyung stood up in triumph and began gathering the dishes. Yoongi jumped up to help, but Taehyung waved him off. “I got it, hyung.”

 

“But I” Yoongi hesitated, his lip caught between his teeth as he stared at the plates in Taehyung’s hand.

 

Realizing this was not a battle he wanted to fight, Taehyung relented. “Why don’t we do it together. You wash, I’ll dry?”

 

Yoongi looked between him and the plate, then nodded. “Okay.”

 

Taehyung spun around and placed the dishes in the sink before moving to the side, dish towel already in hand. Yoongi followed suit, turning on the hot water and grabbed the soap and sponge silently. They worked together easily, Yoongi passing plates and cups to Taehyung without a word. When they were about halfway through, Taehyung spoke. “You know, I took a risk today.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“I got my boss to agree to let me submit a portfolio to the magazine he owns that runs nature photography sections.”

 

Immediately, Yoongi put down the plate he was washing and turned to Taehyung. “That’s amazing, Tae!”

 

“I’m super nervous, they aren’t putting my name on it, so I can’t rely on my brand. Only my talent alone will get me through, but I’m excited.”

 

“You’ll do great! Your work is amazing.”

 

“Thanks,” Taehyung said, then shifted so he was looking at Yoongi head-on. “I did it because of you.”

 

“Me?”

 

“Yea. You’re trying so hard at everything you do and I justI wanted to try again.”

 

Yoongi ducked his head. “I’m not trying that hard.”

 

“You are, hyung. Everyone can see that. Even if you can’t.”

 

“Y-you think so?” Yoongi asked, peaking up shyly.

 

“I know so.”

 

Without replying, Yoongi turned back to the sink and began washing the plate again. Taehyung could see the blush on his cheeks, so he didn’t comment on it, merely bumped his hip into Yoongi’s side with a little smirk. Yoongi smiled too, his head still facing down, but that was enough.

 

Knock knock.

 

“I’ll get it!” Taehyung offered brightly, dropping the dishtowel on the counter and heading for the door without waiting for an answer. He peeked through the peephole, but, not recognizing the man on the other side, opened the door anyway. “Yes, can I help you?”

 

The man frowned, looking him up and down in a less than pleasant manner. “Who are you? This is supposed to be Park Jimin’s apartment.”

 

In the background, Taehyung heard a choked gasp and a plate hit the ground and shatter. Without glancing to the side, Taehyung stepped forward, angling the door more closed. “I’m Kim Taehyung and this is my apartment.”

 

“Where does Park Jimin live then?”

 

“I’m sorry but I can’t share that information with a stranger.”

 

“I’m not a stranger!”

 

Taehyung tilted his head, the already heavy feeling in his stomach becoming more pronounced. He knew who this was. He’d have to be stupid not to, but he couldn’t let him know Yoongi was here so he had to play dumb. “Well, I don’t know you and this is my apartment so…”

 

The man sighed aggressively, tangling his hands through his hair and pulling. “Look, my boyfriend went missing and I’m just trying to find him! Can you help me or what?”

 

“I’m sorry but I

 

That seemed to be the wrong answer because the man snapped, pushing Taehyung back into the apartment hard enough that he stumbled. “YOONGI WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU? GET OUT HERE NOW!”

Chapter Text

As Yoongi handed another plate to Taehyung silently, the feeling of warm water on his hands and a sponge pressed against the next dish, he felt content. The whole day had been so good. He’d had fun with Jungkook, more than he thought he would. His new sweater made him feel pretty, even more so when he’d seen the surprised look on Taehyung’s face when he’d appeared. He’d been too embarrassed to look at Taehyung directly at first, worried he’d think it was odd a freeloader had new clothes, but Taehyung had been so nice. And he’d called him beautiful. No called him that. It’d made his whole body warm the second he’d heard it and he’d wanted that feeling to stay. And it had for the most part. Dinner had been muted but comfortable. And now, as they washed dishes in more comfortable silence, the only sound the dishes hitting one another as he washed and Taehyung put away, Yoongi felt his shoulders relax even further than they already were. It had been a good day. 

 

Knock knock.

 

“I’ll get it!” Taehyung said before Yoongi could put down his sponge and immediately left the area. Yoongi nodded even though he couldn’t see, and listened idly to Taehyung opening the door. “Yes, can I help you?”

 

“Who are you? This is supposed to be Park Jimin’s apartment.”

 

Suddenly, Yoongi felt like he couldn’t breathe. All his air wooshed out in a choked sound. He stumbled back, trying desperately to get air, but it was no use. He vaguely heard something hit the ground but it was too far away. He couldn’t breathe. Minhyuk was here and he couldn’t breathe. 

 

Acting on instinct, Yoongi dropped to the ground, curling into himself. The position made it so that he could feel his own chest rise and fall rapidly, a clear sign he was hyperventilating. It grounded him, that feeling, because it told him he was actually breathing. But that was all it did because now he couldn’t move. Minhyuk was here. He was going to take him back. He’d have to go back. 

 

Yoongi couldn’t hear what they were saying, the buzzing in his eyes too loud for him to concentrate on anything else. It was an overwhelming sound that drowned out everything but his own screaming thoughts: Minhyuk is here. Minhyuk is here. Minhyuk is here. Minhyuk is here. The buzzing seemed to spread, flowing through his bones and skin until it settled in his lungs, the previously benign feeling becoming painful. He wasn’t breathing for real this time. Choking in his haste to get air again, Yoongi slapped his hand to his mouth to muffle the sound. If he made a sound, Minhyuk would be angry; he wasn’t allowed to make a sound. It was only then that he realized not only was he crying, but his whole body was shaking too. 

 

Trembling fingers dug into his cheeks as he tried to control himself. He focused, breathing like he’d been doing for weeks now, trying desperately to focus. After what felt like years, the buzzing faded and Yoongi could hear the conversation again.

 

“Look, my boyfriend went missing and I’m just trying to find him! Can you help me or what?”

 

You’re mine Yoongi, don’t you know that?

 

‘Til death do us part.

 

Didn’t you make this a few days ago, Yoongi?

 

They chose that asshole from Team 3 to lead instead of me, Yoongi. 

 

Yoongi, you know what I like. Why can’t you just do it properly?

 

Only I can take care of you, Yoongi. 

 

You make me do this, Yoongi. You’d make anyone do this.

 

You’re not even worth it.

 

Yoongi’s hands flew to his ears like he could block out his own memories, no, no, no, no, no, that’s not true. I’m safe now. Jimin and Taehyung and Jungkook would never. No, no, no, no. It’s safe. I’m safe. No, no, no

 

“YOONGI WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU? GET OUT HERE NOW!”

 

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!

 

“I don’t know who the fuck you think you are, but you need to get the fuck out of my house. If your boyfriend left, I’m sure he had a great reason!”

 

“Oh, yea? You don’t know me? Jimin didn’t tell you?”

 

“I told you before, this is my house!”

 

GO AWAY! GO AWAY! GO AWAY! PLEASE GO AWAY!

 

“Then why are there pictures of Jimin everywhere? YOONGI DON’T MAKE ME COME FIND YOU!”

 

“Alright, that’s enough. Get the fuck out.”

 

LEAVE, LEAVE, LEAVE LEA Yoongi’s internal panic stuttered, the sound of an impact tearing him back into the present. He knew that sound. It was the sound of a fist hitting flesh. Usually, he heard it more closely as it reverberated off his own body, but it wasn’t something he could ever forget.

 

Lunging forward, Yoongi half crawled, half ran towards the entrance that led to the door. He’d only just managed to stand himself up straight when he reached where they were standing. He was just behind them, almost out of sight. Minhyuk was there, staring at Taehyung with a clenched fist, but Yoongi barely noticed, instead fixating on Taehyung. His head was down, so Yoongi couldn’t see his face, but he could see his hand and the smear of blood on his fingertips. Yoongi muffled a cry. Taehyung is hurt because of you! 

 

You make me do this, Yoongi.

 

“That’s it,” Taehyung said firmly, interrupting Yoongi’s panic once again. His voice was firm and low. It was stern enough that Yoongi found himself flinching back from it. 

 

“Oh? Now what?” Minhyuk sneered, clearly unaware of Yoongi’s presence just behind him.

 

When Taehyung lifted his head, Yoongi wanted to disappear. On Taehyung’s cheek was a large red mark and there was blood on his lip. Yoongi knew that injury well, it had been one of the last ones he’d suffered from before leaving. And now Taehyung had experienced it too. All because of him. But Taehyung didn’t seem bothered, he just stared at Minhyuk steadily, his expression showing nothing but disdain and boiling anger. “I will make you leave.”

 

At the same time, both Yoongi and Minhyuk surged forward. Yoongi to beg, Minhyuk to harm. Neither happened. Before Yoongi could yell out or Minhyuk could hit Taehyung again, Taehyung grabbed Minhyuk’s outstretched arm and spun him around, wrenching his arm up and behind Minhyuk’s back. The movement brought Yoongi into view, causing Minhyuk to try and go to him, but Taehyung pushed upward, putting strain on Minhyuk’s shoulder and making him freeze.

 

“Yoongi,” Taehyung said softly. “Please go back in the kitchen.”

 

Yoongi shook his head aggressively, his hair and tears flying with the gesture. “N-no, I wanna

 

“Shut up, Yoongi,” Minhyuk interrupted, derision dripping from his tone. “We’ll talk about this at home.”

 

“No, please, I” Yoongi broke off, his shoulders curving forward as he folded into himself. “No.”

 

Enough, Yoongi.”

 

Without really thinking about it, Taehyung put more pressure on Minhyuk’s arm even as Yoongi spoke. “I-I’m not going. I’m not. Please go.”

 

“You heard the man,” Taehyung said, shoving Minhyuk forward by the arm, applying just enough pressure to cause pain but not injury. “Get out. I’m calling security.”

 

“YOONGI! YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON'T LISTEN!” Minhyuk yelled, even as Taehyung tossed him out the door and slammed it shut. He banged on the door for a few minutes before a stern voice of security could be heard through the door. Taehyung hadn’t called, but he supposed his nosy neighbour had. For the first time since moving in, Taehyung was thankful for her. Maybe he’d buy her a bottle of wine. Taehyung rested his forehead on the door for a moment, taking steading breaths. He was so angry. The second he’d seen Minhyuk, he’d wanted nothing more than to punch him, but he’d tried to keep it together. Even as he yelled for Yoongi. Even as his fist had hit him and all he could think was that Yoongi has suffered through the very same thing for years. Alone

 

Taehyung glanced back toward the living room where he’d left Yoongi. He was so proud of the way he’d stood up for himself, even if it had been tentative. Taehyung hadn’t thought he was in a place where he’d be able to face Minhyuk yet, but he had done it anyway, even if he wasn’t ready. But now Taehyung was worried for a whole other reason. He’d reacted to Minhyuk aggressively and he’d never wanted Yoongi to see him in that light. Never wanted Yoongi to think Taehyung was capable of that. And to be honest, he’d never thought he would be but Minhyuk had suddenly made it very apparent that he was. He didn’t regret it, but he did hope Yoongi wouldn’t be afraid of him now. 

 

With one final breath to brace himself, Taehyung returned to the living room. He found Yoongi exactly where he’d left him: standing in the kitchen entrance, his body curled forward defensively and his hands clutching his new sweater tightly. 

 

“Yoongi? Hyung?” Taehyung said quietly, making sure to maintain a distance so Yoongi wouldn’t feel crowded.

 

“I-I-I-I” Yoongi tried his breath stuttering. “I’m so sorry.”

 

“It’s not your fault,” Taehyung assured, inching closer. He wanted to comfort him so much but he was still hyper-aware of Yoongi’s reactions to him and the scene in general. He was breathing heavily, but it was choppy, like he wanted to cry but wasn’t allowing himself. As Taehyung watched, Yoongi lost that battle, his eyes overflowing and hiccups intermingling with his breathing. 

 

“P-please don’t make me leave,” Yoongi begged, his hands wiping his eyes angrily. “Please, don’t.”

 

“What?” Taehyung asked, momentarily struct stupid. He had never thought about that as a possible reaction to Minhyuk showing up.

 

“I’m s-sorry, please d-don’t be mad.”

 

Forgetting his apprehension to approach Yoongi, Taehyung rushed forward, grabbing Yoongi’s shoulders lightly. “I would never make you leave, Yoongi. Why would I do that?”

 

“Y-your face,” Yoongi sobbed out, his body collapsing as soon as Taehyung touched him. Taehyung followed him down, kneeling in front of him as Yoongi continued. “H-he hit you because of me.”

 

“That doesn’t matter,” Taehyung assured him, “because it’ll never happen again.”

 

Yoongi nodded abruptly. “I-I p-promise it won’t. J-just don’t make me l-leave. I l-like it h-here, please don’t.”

 

“Yoongi,” Taehyung comforted softly, pulling Yoongi in for a hug.

 

“I-I’ll get a j-job and c-clean more and s-stop g-g-goofing off with K-kook, p-please.”

 

“Yoongi, we want you to stay without those things. Find a job if you want. Clean if you want. Hang out with Jungkook or don’t if you want. We just want you to be happy.”

 

Once again wiping away the tears that just wouldn’t stop coming, Yoongi kept nodding against Taehyung’s chest. “I’m h-happy h-here. I s-swear I am.”

 

“That’s good,” Taehyung assured, his hand patting Yoongi’s head in a way he hoped was reassuring. He wasn’t sure if it worked, but Yoongi stopped begging to stay and simply cried into his pyjamas. It physically pained him the way Yoongi felt so small in his arms, the way his body shook from the force of his sobs, but he let Yoongi cry it out. Taehyung couldn’t remember Yoongi crying during all the time he’d be in Seoul except the first night he’d arrived. Since then, he’d clearly been holding it in, spending all this energy elsewhere, but he couldn’t now so Taehyung held him through it. It was the least he could do.

 


 

Feeling the sudden weight of his boyfriend fell on his back, Jimin missed a step and giggled. “Kook, stop, you’re heavy.”

 

“Naah,” Jungkook protested, “you’re strong.”

 

“Mhm,” Jimin murmured, turning his body so Jungkook was forced to lean back if he wanted to see Jimin’s face, which he did. Jimin lifted his arms and rested them on Jungkook’s shoulders, tilting his head to the side slyly. “I like this better.”

 

“Me too,” Jungkook agreed, walking Jimin backward until his back hit his own door. Jungkook leaned forward, kissing him softly, which Jimin returned eagerly. 

 

For a few quiet moments, they stayed like that, pressed together in the hallway, then Jimin pulled back, his eyes heavy-lidded as he played with the collar of Jungkook’s new shirt. “This was a good choice. It looks really good.”

 

Jungkook ducked his head down and kissed Jimin’s neck, partially from desire, partially from embarrassment. “Thanks.”

 

“Mhm. Why don’t we go inside?” Jimin suggested, turning around so he could punch in the code. Jungkook made a soft sound of agreement but otherwise didn’t say anything as he draped his body over Jimin’s again. Just as before, the weight made Jimin stumble forward, this time into the apartment. He giggled quietly as they walked, or more accurately waddled, further into the apartment, heading toward Jimin’s bedroom. 

 

On the way there, they entered the living room. Jungkook saw it first, his eyes open while Jimin’s were closed, and froze in place. Leaning against the back of the couch while sitting on the ground, Taehyung’s legs were stretched out. Yoongi was curled into a small ball, his face buried in Taehyung’s chest. His back rose and fell steadily, indicating was sleeping, but Taehyung was awake. He turned his head toward them, his eyes flat and angry. Jungkook tensed, jolting Jimin out of his happy mood right into anger and sadness.

 

“Your face,” he gasped out, rushing from Jungkook’s embrace and collapsing to his knees beside Taehyung. His hands rested on Taehyung’s shoulder and Yoongi’s back, while his eyes roamed over both of them frantically. “What happened?”

 

“Minhyuk showed up,” Taehyung said, stating the obvious. He glanced up when Jungkook appeared behind Jimin. “He’s okay.”

 

Jungkook nodded, his eyes already shiny. “You’re sure?”

 

Taehyung nodded, doing his best not to move and wake Yoongi up. “I am. He told him to leave and then asked me if he could stay because he was happy here.”

 

Immediately overwhelmed, Jimin started to cry. “He wants to stay?”

 

“He does,” Taehyung confirmed. “Help me lift him up and I’ll tell you everything.”

 

Figuring this was his job, Jungkook kneeled down and propped Yoongi up carefully. Underneath him, Taehyung shuffled to his feet then rearranged Yoongi so that his face rested against his shoulder and his arms were underneath his knees and holding his back. The entire time, Yoongi never stirred, the emotional exhaustion of Minhyuk’s appearance rendering him dead to the world. Once he was sure Taehyung had a good hold of Yoongi, he stepped back and Taehyung brought Yoongi to his room. They watched him go, tense and emotional. Jimin leaned into Jungkook, who caught him and pulled him even closer. “He wants to stay, hyung.”

 

“I know,” Jimin whispered, closing his eyes as tears rolled down his cheeks, “but how much does he have to go through before he can just live normally?”

 

Jungkook sighed, shaking his head. “We’ll be there regardless.”

 

“Yea,” Jimin agreed, only opening his eyes when he heard Taehyung appear. Silently he walked past them and sat on the couch. Both men glanced at each other then followed behind, settling on the chair and opposite side of the couch so they could look at Taehyung, who was staring at his hands like he was seeing them for the first time.

 

“We were doing the dishes and he showed up at the door looking for you,” Taehyung said after a moment. “I didn’t know who he was at first, but I caught on when I heard hyung break a plate. I tried to keep him out, said you didn’t live here, but he forced his way in, ending up punching me. I didn’t expect it, so he got me pretty good.”

 

“Did you ice it?” Jungkook asked, more than familiar with impact wounds from his years of taekwondo.

 

“Didn’t get the chance,” Taehyung shook his head. “I got him out, but not before Yoongi ran out. He was shaking so much,” Taehyung whispered, rubbing his face, “but he told him he wanted to stay and he should go. I tossed him out right after and someone called security. But after...”

 

“After?” Jimin prompted when Taehyung fell silent.

 

Taehyung sighed threading his hands through his hair and bending forward to rest his elbows on his knees. “After he begged me not to make him leave.”

 

It took a moment, but the second Taehyung’s words registered, both Jungkook and Jimin reacted strongly. But Taehyung didn’t notice, he was far too much in his mind, going over and over and over what had happened, how he could have handled it better, how he could have stopped it. “And he was crying and begging and I just I tried but what if it didn't work? I don’t know what I’m doing! What if I just made it worse? What if I’m not even helping and it’s just

 

“TAE!” Jimin interrupted, lunging for Taehyung and wrapping him in a hug. Taehyung leaned into it, the tears he’d been holding since seeing Yoongi’s broken face when he’d seen Minhyuk standing there rushing out. Jimin held him as Taehyung had done for him before. “I never would have made it through this without you, Tae. You’re doing the best you can and it’s helping. It is.”

 

“Yea, hyung,” Jungkook agreed, suddenly appearing by Taehyung’s knees. “He’s getting better. Even I can see that.”

 

Taehyung nodded, even if at that moment he wasn’t sure he believed it. He was trying to do what was right, to be helpful, but every situation was so different and though he’d experienced abuse, it wasn’t the same so he wasn’t even sure if he was handling it right. All these insecurities he hadn’t even known he had were suddenly dominating his mind.

 

Maybe you should think about why you let him affect you so much.

 

“T-tae?” 

 

With his head resting on Jimin’s chest, Taehyung froze, his eyes popping open at the tentative sound of Yoongi’s voice. Jungkook jumped to his feet and Jimin spun around immediately. Soon, three pairs of eyes met a set of round, worried-looking ones. Jimin gave Taehyung a look that read, answer him, moron, so Taehyung cleared his throat, quickly wiping his tears away for good measure, and replied. “Yea, hyung?”

 

“I just um, I wanted to say thank you. I didn’t before and I-I should have. Thank you for making him leave.”

 

Taehyung shook his head. “You’re the one who told him to go.” 

 

Yoongi looked away, his face taking on an ashamed cast. “I don’t know if I could have made him go when he refused. I’m not I’m not sure I’m that strong. So, I thank you.”

 

“Strength doesn’t mean you always do things alone,” Jungkook cut in before biting his lip and ducking his head. “Sorry.”

 

“No,” Taehyung agreed, “you’re right. It doesn’t. Strength means asking for help when you need it too. That’s what you did.”

 

“Okay,” Yoongi agreed weakly, his eyes flicking to Jimin then away. “I’m going to go back to bed.

 

Without a word, Jimin glanced back at Jungkook, who nodded, before getting up and following. “Can I cuddle with you a bit, hyung?”

 

“O-oh,” Yoongi hesitated, biting his lip for a second before nodding. “Okay. If you want.”

 

“I do,” Jimin assured softly, latching onto Yoongi’s arm and rubbing his face on Yoongi’s shoulder. “Just for a bit.”

 

They watched the two smaller men disappear in silence, then Jungkook asked what they had all been thinking but no one wanted to say: “Do you think he’ll come back?”

 

“If he does, we’ll be ready.”

Chapter Text

When Yoongi awoke, it was to the feeling of a warm body pressed against his back and a comforting weight across his waist. At first, in his groggy state of mind, he froze, suddenly thrust back to before. For a moment, he wondered if everything had just been a dream and that when his eyes opened, he’d be in his bed in Daegu with Minhyuk behind him. But as his mind cleared and he became more aware of his surroundings, he realized it was Jimin pressed against him and that’s why he’d felt so comfortable. So safe. Because he was. Minhyuk had come but Taehyung had made him leave so easily and hopefully, he’d never have to see him again. In the back of his mind, he knew that wasn’t true, that Minhyuk wouldn’t let his property go so easily, but for now, he burrowed down into the bed and let himself bask in Jimin’s embrace. It had been too long since they’d done this. Just cuddled and slept. In university, they’d done it all the time. Jimin was a cuddler and as much as Yoongi pretended he wasn’t, he was too. He loved physical contact and the comfort it brought. Or at least he had. He’d had trouble with it recently, Jungkook being the best example, so it was nice for him to just be in this state with no worries.

 

As soon as that thought surfaced though, Yoongi tensed, immediately sitting up and staring down at Jimin in shock. He wasn’t supposed to stay. Jungkook was here and they’d just had a date. Jimin was supposed to go to him. You messed it up again, Yoongi

 

“Hyung?” Jimin’s sleepy voice cut in, his blurry eyes blinking as they tried to bring Yoongi into focus. “Why are you up? It’s early.”

 

“You’re supposed to be with Jungkook, not me! Why’d you let me ruin your night?!”

 

Jimin stretched and yawned, unaffected, before pushing himself up into a seated position. “First of all, I asked to cuddle you, not the other way around.”

 

“But that was obviously for me—”

 

Second of all,” Jimin interrupted, looking at Yoongi pointedly, “I didn’t leave him anywhere.”

 

“What?” Yoongi asked, confused, only to follow the line of Jimin’s hand. With a small frown, Yoongi crawled to the end of the bed, only to find a very much unconscious Jungkook sprawled out on the floor, a sleeping mat underneath him and part of a blanket still wrapped around his legs. “wWhy is he here!?”

 

Yawning again, Jimin sighed. “He didn’t want to leave you alone and neither did I. I found him and Tae sitting outside the room when I went to go pee. They thought climbing into bed with you would cause you to panic, but they wanted to be close so the floor was the next best thing. I couldn’t convince them to leave, so here we are.”

 

Yoongi looked around the room, seeing another sleeping mat and blanket but no Taehyung, before turning back to Jimin. “But why?”

 

“Because they care about you?” Jimin said, making it a question in his own confusion at having to say something so obvious.

 

“I-I-I-I—” Yoongi tried, but only hiccups came out. He felt himself start to cry again and wanted to shriek in frustration. He was always crying instead of doing things for himself but he couldn’t stop it.

 

Moving quickly, Jimin pulled Yoongi into a tight hug, burying his face into Yoongi’s shoulder. “It’s okay, hyung. I got you.”

 

“I-I-I a-asked Taehyung to let me stay. C-can I? E-everyone is s-so nice here and i-it makes m-me happy,” Yoongi stuttered out between sobs.

 

“As long as you want, hyung,” Jimin murmured. He wanted to say he was never allowed to leave. That he’d sooner kill Minhyuk and dissolve his body in household cleaners than allow Yoongi to go back to him, but he knew he couldn’t say that. Yoongi needed to make his own choice without feeling trapped. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he could hear Taehyung tell him that even words said with the best intentions can hurt. With that thought in mind, Jimin made a mental note to check in with Taehyung and see how he was doing, before pulling back so he could see Yoongi’s face. “If you want to stay forever, I’ll be more than happy to see you and your gummy smile every day.”

 

“Y-your the only one w-who likes it,” Yoongi protested, laughing a bit.

 

“Now that is just a lie,” Jimin gasped out, affronted, suddenly liking the whole dissolving Minhyuk in acid thing even more if he made Yoongi think his smile wasn’t utterly adorable. “It’s the cutest thing. Even Taehyung thinks so. He was gushing about it and he only saw it once.”

 

“R-really?” Yoongi asked, rubbing his eyes and face to wipe the tears away as he glanced at Jimin quickly. “T-tae thinks so?”

 

Jimin narrowed his eyes automatically, immediately both happy and concerned. Happy that Yoongi seemed to like Taehyung and trust his opinions. Concerned because he didn’t think Yoongi was anywhere near stable enough to make romantic attachments. Romantic attachments? Aren’t you jumping the gun a bit? He just asked to confirm something you already said. “He does. Jungkook too. Everyone agrees, so you’ll just have to accept it.”

 

“Maybe,” Yoongi allowed, suddenly glancing at the clock. “I should make breakfast.”

 

“Cuddle me a bit more,” Jimin protested with a whine, dragging Yoongi back to the bed. “I’m tired.”

 

Yoongi laughed, wiggling in an effort to get away. “I have to make food.”

 

“Let’em starve,” Jimin continued to whine, only for Jungkook’s head to pop up from the bottom of the bed.

 

“Did someone say food?”

 

Jimin released Yoongi with a sigh. “Typical.”

 

Jungkook pouted, running his hand through his hair in an effort to tame it. “You did say food though?”

 

“I did,” Yoongi agreed with a snort, shuffling himself out of bed before sliding on some slippers. “I’m going to go cook now.”

 

“Okay,” Jungkook replied, clearly pleased even as Jimin whined over him in the background. 

 

Smiling in response, Yoongi walked around the bed, pausing at Jungkook’s side. He placed a hand on Jungkook’s head and looked down, speaking softly. “Thank you for staying with me. It means the world to me.”

 

“Any time,” Jungkook promised, his smile tinged with sadness even as his eyes shone with sincerity. “Gotta protect my tiniest hyung.”

 

“That’s clearly Jimin,” Yoongi replied, walking away, the sound of Jimin protesting and Jungkook continuing to tease him in the background. Yoongi found himself smiling as he listened, a feeling of utter contentment washing over him. For the first time since he’d come to Jimin’s place, to Seoul, he felt completely relaxed. He hadn’t realized how much the ominous presence of Minhyuk had been affecting him. The knowledge that he could show up at any moment and drag him back had been a weight he wasn’t even aware he was carrying but with it gone, he felt lighter. And yes, he knew that Minhyuk was likely to come back or try and make him return in some way, but now that he’d stood up for himself, even weakly, he felt like he could do it again. If he just had a little more time to get stronger, he could protect himself.

 

“Um, maybe just, um, turn around?” a tentative voice suggested, drawing Yoongi out of his thoughts. 

 

“What are you doing?” Yoongi asked, taking in the scene before him. In the sink were a few pans that looked worse for the wear and there was a distant smell of  burnt in the air. Taehyung was standing in the middle of the kitchen, large paper bags in one hand and empty plates in the other. 

 

Taehyung licked his lips. “Well, I was trying to make breakfast for everyone but that didn’t work, so I ordered some. It just, uh, it just arrived.”

 

Yoongi blinked. “I was going to make breakfast.”

 

“I know,” Taehyung agreed, nodding hastily, “but I wanted to cook for you for once. As a thank you. It just, well, it didn’t work out.”

 

“A thank you?”

 

Taehyung glanced at him quickly before putting the plates and bags down so he could begin to dish everything out. “Yea, a thank you. Since you’ve been here, you’ve made our lives so much easier. Jimin and I don’t even fight as much now that you act as a mediator for our stubbornness. I figured the least I could do was cook one meal.”

 

“But I—” Yoongi broke off, confusion flooding his system causing his brows to furrow. “I do all that to thank you guys for letting me stay.”

 

Without breaking pace, Taehyung continued to portion out the food, clearly overloading one of the plates that Yoongi instantly knew was Jungkook’s, before speaking calmly. “The thing is, hyung, you don’t need to do those things. We don’t need you to, but I assumed you liked doing it.”

 

“I-I do,” Yoongi agreed quietly.

 

“Then that’s fine, but I don't want you to think you have to do it. That this is how you earn your keep or whatever. That’s not how we think of it. You can cook as long as you want to, but other than that, we can fend for ourselves. Hell, we’ve been doing it for years. I promise, we’d be fine if you chose to take a day off.”

 

Yoongi didn’t answer right away, hearing Taehyung telling him to do the things he wanted to do the night before, hearing Jimin say something similar this morning. He didn’t know if they’d talked about it or if they were just on the same wavelength, but either way, Yoongi decided he was going to take it at face value. For once, he wasn’t going to overthink or worry about it. If Taehyung and Jimin told him it was okay, then it was okay. So Yoongi nodded. “Okay. I’m still going to cook though.”

 

Taehyung snorted. “I know you will.”

 

“Thank you, though,” Yoongi said softly, chancing a quick look in Taehyung’s direction before he busied himself grabbing cups and utensils to finish setting the table. He could feel Taehyung’s eyes on him, but he didn’t ask any more questions and for that Yoongi was grateful because, honestly, he wasn’t even totally sure what he was thanking Taehyung for. Maybe any other time that would have concerned him but as he heard the loud bickering of Jimin and Jungkook move closer, he pushed it away in favour of better things. He could think about that later.

 


 

“Don’t you have to work?”

 

From his place stretched out on the couch, Taehyung looked towards Yoongi's voice. When he realized that just meant he was staring at the back of the couch, he sat up and rested his cheek on the top. “No, didn’t I tell you about my nature portfolio?”

 

Yoongi frowned, a basket on his hip filled with clothes. “You did. I didn’t realize that meant you wouldn’t be working.”

 

“It doesn’t, but I choose my schedule so I just didn’t take on any shoots for the next week so I have time to collect my shots and get some new ones,” Taehyung explained, watching as Yoongi nodded then proceeded past him to the closet the washer and dryer were stored in. He went about his task silently, clearly used to being alone, but that was fine with Taehyung. He scanned his outfit, noting he was now wearing a sweater and pants combination Taehyung had seen before, unlike Taehyung who was still in his pyjamas. 

 

When Yoongi had come out that morning, it was the first time Taehyung had ever seen Yoongi in sleepwear. Part of his routine was getting ready for the day before making breakfast. Taehyung suspected that had something to do with what Minhyuk demanded, so he hadn’t questioned it. But this morning he hadn’t done that. He’d come out with sleep mussed hair and a baggy sleep set. If Taehyung hadn’t been so embarrassed about being caught buying breakfast because he’d destroyed a pan by accident, he’d have complimented him or something. As it was, Yoongi had stayed in his sleepwear the entire time, only seeming to realize he wasn’t dressed when Jimin and Jungkook went to go get ready for work and school themselves. Taehyung was taking that as a sign that Yoongi was comfortable around them, less afraid of previously hazardous consequences. He’d worried that his ex showing up would reverse all his progress, and perhaps it still would, but for now, it was looking up and Taehyung couldn’t be happier. 

 

“Hey, hyung?”

 

“Mhm?” Yoongi replied without looking up as he sorted laundry.

 

“Would you like to go with me somewhere tomorrow?”

 

Now Yoongi looked over. “Tomorrow?”

 

“Yea, I’m taking today off to relax but tomorrow I want to go get some new shots. Want to come?”

 

“Wouldn’t I just be in the way?” Yoongi asked, though Taehyung could see he was interested.

 

“Not at all,” Taehyung assured, “you weren’t in the way at my spot, were you?”

 

Yoongi made a humming noise and started the washer. Once he’d closed the door, he turned toward Taehyung and crossed his arms. “No, I suppose not. Where are you going?”

 

“Haven’t decided yet,” Taehyung admitted, “but I’ll think of something.”

 

“Then I think I’ll come,” Yoongi decided after a minute, looking away when Taehyung’s smile turned blinding. “you’re so easy to please.”

 

“That I am. Now, guess what we’re doing today?”

 

Yoongi raised a brow. “We?”

 

“Yup. We are going to have a Marvel marathon.”

 

“That-that is like 20 movies,” Yoongi reminded him.

 

“And?” Taehyung wondered, clearly unbothered as he grabbed his controller and scrolled through until he reached Iron Man. “Kook is going to be pissed we watched this without him, but that’s what he gets for having class.”

 

Yoongi looked between Taehyung and the screen a few times, expecting him to say it was just a joke or something, but he never did. Taehyung wanted him to spend the entire day doing nothing but watch movies. Somewhat anxiously, Yoongi looked around but he soon realized he didn’t really have any chores to do. The kitchen was clean, he’d already started his laundry, and the sleep mats from the previous night were packed up. He could clean the windows, he supposed, but he’d done it a few days prior, so it wasn’t needed yet. He usually swept once a day at least, but since they hadn’t spent a lot of time in the kitchen last night because of everything, it also wasn’t really needed. He had this overwhelming need to do something but there wasn’t anything to do. 

 

He realized then how much he relied on having tasks to complete to get through a day. When Jungkook was here, it was easy to be distracted because this wasn’t his house. He didn’t feel guilty or indebted when he was near Jungkook and not doing things because Jungkook wasn’t losing anything by Yoongi being here. Expect maybe time with Jimin. But with Taehyung, he realized he wanted to make it look like he didn’t just hang around freeloading all day, that he was useful

 

I don't want you to think you have to do it. That this is how you earn your keep or whatever. That’s not how we think of it. 

 

Suddenly, Yoongi understood what Taehyung had been trying to tell him. He didn’t even realize he’d been doing that but Taehyung had. In his mind, he was just doing what he always did so that he wouldn’t be a burden. A silent thank you for taking him in. But it seems Taehyung had known he was using it as a crutch. Yoongi shifted, momentarily uncomfortable with the realization that though he’d left Minhyuk, the behaviour he’d beaten into him had stayed. Biting his lip, Yoongi finally looked back at Taehyung, who was watching him silently. There was no expression on his face, but Yoongi could tell he was waiting. Waiting for Yoongi to sort through his feelings and make a choice. He was suddenly very grateful for Taehyung once again. He loved Jimin, but he knew him well enough to know that Jimin would have pushed while trying to fix things until Yoongi broke. Taehyung didn’t do that. He just waited until Yoongi figured it out himself. He didn’t try to fix him or even understand, he just allowed Yoongi to do what he needed and offered support if required. Taehyung is a good person, Yoongi decided, then smiled brightly, his gums flashing. “Is Iron Man his favourite? He’s mine too.”

 

Settling back into the couch as Yoongi came to sit beside him, Taehyung returned his smile. “Just another thing you two have in common.”

 

“I guess so,” Yoongi agreed, pulling his knees up so he could get comfortable. “Can we skip Iron Man 3? It sucks.”

 

“It does and we will not,” Taehyung refused adamantly. “We experience the saga as a whole or not at all.”

 

“You’re ridiculous,” Yoongi laughed, now more focused on Robert Downey Jr. being his previous asshole self as Tony Stark than Taehyung. “Suddenly I understand why you and Jiminie are so close.”

 

“Peas in a pod,” Taehyung agreed easily, smiling a bit at how easily Yoongi was bantering with him. “When we first met, our friends used to joke we’d end up dating or killing each other. They even bet on it.”

 

“Did you?” Yoongi wondered. “Date that is?”

 

Taehyung shook his head as he watched the Stark weapons demonstration. “Nah, we went straight from enemies to best friends. I think once we figured each other out, it was bound to happen. I’m glad it did. I probably wouldn’t have stayed in Seoul otherwise.”

 

“No?”

 

“My grandparents died and I was left with the farm. I had to decide if I should sell it or go back and run it myself,” Taehyung explained, the memory of that time still causing a flash of pain deep in his chest. “There was a time I wouldn’t have thought about it. They did a lot for me. But the more I thought about it and talked it over with Jimin and Jin-hyung, I realized they wouldn’t want me to give up my dream for something as silly as property.”

 

Yoongi stayed silent for a moment, taking in what he’d just learned. Taehyung didn’t talk about himself a whole lot, but Yoongi was beginning to get a picture. An abusive childhood followed by safer teen years with his grandparents only to lose them too. It explained his personality, how he could be both silly and loud, and quiet and contemplative. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

“But I am glad you chose your passion. It suits you, even I can see that,” Yoongi added, his eyes firmly fixed away from Taehyung, who glanced over immediately at Yoongi’s words.

 

He didn’t reply right away. Like Yoongi, he was considering the man across from him. He wasn’t thinking about what he’d learned though, instead he was wondering if it was too soon to ask again about Yoongi’s music. Jungkook had mentioned he’d talked about it to him, even if in passing. He’d asked Jimin about it too, but the smaller man had refused to give any real detail which Taehyung understood. Deciding now was as good a time as any, Taehyung turned away and spoke softly. “What about you? Are you going to choose your passion?”

 

Even though he wasn’t looking, he could feel Yoongi’s whole body tense. He wasn’t sure if this was the best way to bring it up or even if he had a right too, but he couldn’t ignore the way Yoongi’s voice had changed when he talked about making music. Even if the briefest passing mention, Yoongi had sounded more alive than any other time. It was like a flash of brightness, of what could be, that only Taehyung had gotten to see. But the silence extended past a normal amount and Yoongi didn’t relax. Taehyung began to worry he’d triggered Yoongi. Idiot, you know music is sensitive for him and you just brought it up anyway! Are you trying to hurt him? Way to only think about yourself you massive too— 

 

“I don’t know if that’s even possible anymore.”

 

Head whipping around so fast Taehyung was sure Yoongi could hear his neck crack, Taehyung stared at Yoongi. He wasn’t looking at him, instead focusing dead ahead with a somewhat blank expression on his face. His fingers gave him away though, they were fiddling with the seam of his pants as he always did when he was anxious. In the background, Tony Stark was fighting for his life, lost in a desert and bleeding, but Taehyung wasn’t paying attention anymore. He was focused entirely on Yoongi. “Qhat do you mean?”

 

“You of all people know what the entertainment industry is like. One year midaswell be a decade even when you have connections. What do you think four is for someone with none?” 

 

“Who said anything about the entertainment industry?”

 

“But you—” Yoongi started, then paused, tilting his head to finally look at Taehyung. The confusion was clear in his eyes. “You literally just asked about my passion.”

 

“I did but I never said you had to enter the entertainment industry. All I asked was if you were going to choose your passion.”

 

Yoongi furrowed his brows, even more confused now than he was before, if that was possible. “How do I make music without being in the entertainment industry?”

 

“By making music,” Taehyung said, as if it were that simple. “No one said anything about making it your career or life’s work. A bunch of people have hobbies that are their passion. I was just wondering if you were ever going to give it a chance again.”

 

“Oh, I-I don’t know, I never…” Yoongi trailed off. He’d never thought about it in that context. When Minhyuk had asked (see: made) him quit, he’d closed that part of his life off. It had been too painful to even think about if he couldn’t do it. With his SoundCloud and all his actual real-world connections suddenly gone, Yoongi had lost his one true outlet to be himself and he’d just let go. It was so much more painful to lose everything when you clung to parts, so Yoongi hadn’t. He’d told himself it was so he could focus more on being what Minhyuk wanted, and sure, that had been part of it, but it was more because he wasn’t strong enough to be near what he loved without doing it. He’d even stopped listening to music. When once his life was a constant musical, surrounded by beats and songs and vocal tracks everywhere he went, now he lived in complete silence. He didn't even hum anymore. “Do you think… do you think I could?”

 

“If you want to,” Taehyung told him. “When you think you’re ready, I don’t see why not.”

 

“Maybe,” Yoongi settled on, still unsure how he felt about it. Could he do music again? Would he even know how? Would it matter if no one heard it but him? Yoongi didn’t know but for the first time since he’d lost that part of his life to Minhyuk, he was thinking about it.

 


 

With his head down and hood up, Jungkook snuck into the room, making sure to keep close to the wall so he wouldn’t disturb anyone. Once he arrived at the section of chairs, he sat down, letting his bag drop as he shook off his hood and turned off his music. The two men seated next to him didn’t spare him a glance, more than used to his sudden appearances since he’d started seeing Jimin more seriously. 

 

The first time Jimin had let him see his work, Jungkook had been beyond nervous. It was like meeting his parents. Jimin no longer talked to his actual parents, so meeting his work friends (both of which were older than him) and seeing him in a space where he felt comfortable and in control was the closest thing. That didn’t stop Jungkook from wondering how Jimin would handle his parents. They were both very supportive and very, very affectionate. They’d already started sending him gifts to give Jimin because he’s our son now. Some people might think he was exaggerating, but he wasn’t. When he’d told them Jimin’s parents had cut him off, they’d almost flown down to Seoul just to officially adopt a fully grown man they’d never even met. Jungkook figured it was some natural reaction parents had when they saw a child suffering, but either way, he’d had to reign them in. Since then, he’d been a little afraid to introduce Jimin to his parents, worried they’d overwhelm him. But as Jungkook settled into the chair, watching Jimin work with Hoseok in unspoken unison, Jungkook figured he’d do it soon. There wasn’t anyone else for him anyway. 

 

He’d been there for nearly an hour when Jimin finally noticed him. It was cute the way his eyes would turn round and then he’d relax and smile. It was the same every time. He was always so focused when he worked that he rarely noticed anything else, so Jungkook was often given the chance to observe him while he was totally in his element.

 

“Yo, Jungkook, when’d you get here?”

 

Jungkook looked over at the owner of the voice, a tallish man who, if he remembered correctly, was on the rap line of this group, and smiled. “like an hour ago. You guys need to work on your spatial awareness.”

 

“Big words, you in another lit class?” another boy chimed in, laughing as he drank his water. “Thought you wouldn’t do one again after you had to make Kim-PD help you with your essays.”

 

“First of all, he offered to help and I have a new tutor now anyway,” Jungkook protested, sticking his tongue out.

 

“Oh?” Hoseok asked, finally joining the conversation. “Who’d you con into helping you this time?”

 

Jungkook pouted, feeling slightly attacked even though he knew they were only teasing him because he was the youngest. “Yoongi-hyung.”

 

“Ah, the infamous Yoongi-hyung,” Hoseok murmured, narrowing his eyes. “Qhat’s he like?”

 

“Soft,” Jungkook said immediately, “and small. Worries about people a lot. Probably the nicest person I’ve ever met.”

 

“Interesting,” Hoseok said, then turned to Jimin. “How’d you manage to find someone so nice?”

 

“Hey, I’m nice!”

 

Hoseok snorted. “Sure you are.”

 

“I am!” Jimin insisted. “I just… have a bullshit limit.”

 

“That’s a great way of putting it,” Hoseok agreed, nodding with wide eyes. “Bullshit limit.”

 

“Why do I feel like you’re only just saying that?”

 

“No idea,” Hoseok shrugged nonchalantly before ducking his head to hide his smile.

 

Deciding a dramatic reaction was needed, Jimin threw himself onto Jungkook’s lap, causing the chair to squeak ominously, and sighed. “See what I deal with?”

 

“Yes, hyung, how tiring,” Jungkook agreed immediately as he wrapped his arms around Jimin’s waist to keep him steady. In the background, several of the group members began to laugh but it wasn’t malicious. Jimin had been out to them long before Jungkook came around, so that had never been an issue. They still loved to tease Jungkook though.

 

“I give them beautiful choreography all by my lonesome and still they treat me this way,” Jimin continued, bringing a hand to his forehead to increase the drama.

 

“I see. I was under the impression I was the head-choreographer but I’m actually a ghost, right?”

 

“Did you hear something?” the group leader wondered, making everyone laugh. 

 

Shaking his head, Jimin got off Jungkook and grabbed his own chair. Pulling it close, he put his legs up on Jungkook’s lap and leaned back. The rest of the group dispersed, heading to grab food and drinks, leaving Jimin and Jungkook alone with Hoseok, who plopped down next to them before digging into this backpack for his lunch.

 

“They’re doing good,” Jimin observed now that the group wasn’t close enough to hear them.

 

“They are,” Hoseok agreed. “Leesun is still behind a full beat though.”

 

“I noticed,” Jimin commented. “He’ll have it by the end of the day.”

 

“I hope so. Joon finished their next song and they want us to make a choreo for it asap.”

 

“Who needs sleep?”

 

“Not us,” Hoseok concurred, lifting his hand to high-five somewhat weakly with Jimin before stuffing some rice into his mouth.

 

Jungkook listened to the conversation idly, used to them talking about work while he was around. He took it as a compliment that they trusted him with private information he could easily sell if he wanted to. But as he listened, he realized that Jimin was likely going to be busy for the foreseeable future, which meant they’d get to spend less time together. “Guess you’ll be pretty busy, huh?”

 

Both Hoseok and Jimin glanced at him, but Hoseok spoke first. “Not really any more than usual.”

 

Jungkook frowned, unsure how doing more work in a limited time equalled not being more busy than usual, then shrugged. “Awe, too bad I was hoping to spend prime time with Yoongi-hyung. I bet I could get him to cuddle me at least once.”

 

“Good luck with that,” Jimin snorted. “He likes to pretend he doesn’t like cuddling.”

 

“I can be very persuasive,” Jungkook insisted, making Jimin laugh again and Hoseok narrow his eyes.

 

“Alright, when am I going to meet this dude? I’m starting to feel hurt.”

 

Jungkook winced. “I was thinking Namjoon-hyung would be better to go first.”

 

“First?” Hoseok repeated, setting his food down in confusion. When he looked between them, he saw horror on Jungkook’s face and shock on Jimin’s. It was clear that Jungkook had just admitted to something that neither of them wanted Hoseok to know. “Look, I won’t ask about whatever that was.”

 

“I’d tell you but…”

 

“Hey, I get it. If it’s his business, there’s no reason for you to tell a stranger.”

 

“Thanks, Hobi-hyung.”

 

Hoseok shrugged. “Mo biggie. I would like to meet him though. He sounds like a good guy.”

 

“He is,” Jungkook agreed before glancing at Jimin, who was staring off into space. “You good, hyung?”

 

“Yea, just thinking,” Jimin admitted, his finger tapping on his water bottle aggressively. This wasn’t the first time Hoseok had asked to meet Yoongi. Jimin talked about him a lot and he and Hoseok were close. They’d roomed together in school after Yoongi had graduated and Hoseok had told him when his company was hiring. He was sure Hoseok was a bit hurt that he’d never met his childhood best friend. And then there was Namjoon. He’d mentioned Yoongi to him a few times when he first arrived because he figured Namjoon and Yoongi would have a lot in common music-wise. But he’d stopped when it became clear Yoongi didn’t want, or couldn’t, talk about his music. That didn’t stop Namjoon from asking about him though. Namjoon was a sweet man and he loved nothing more than talking to different types of people and picking their brains about music, so he was understandably excited to meet someone like Yoongi. He knew it was too soon for Yoongi to meet Seokjin, they had to make sure he was in the right place first, but the other two? That would probably be fine. Their concern had been overwhelming Yoongi but Hoseok didn’t push when he sensed someone was uncomfortable and Namjoon was calm enough that he probably wouldn’t scare him. At least not any more than Jungkook had.

 

As the silence stretched, Hoseok caught Jungkook’s eye and raised a brow. “He good?”

 

“Yea, it just— he worries about Yoongi-hyung a lot.”

 

“I see that,” Hoseok allowed, watching Jimin’s face as he thought. He was clearly trying to work something out before he spoke again, which Hoseok had no issue waiting for. He was a bit concerned though. He’d never seen Jimin and Jungkook acting so protective over someone before. Especially considering Jungkook had just met the man. It gave him a bad feeling, an uneasiness in the pit of his stomach that he made him put down his food. He wanted to meet Yoongi, but he was scared about what he would see. 

 

As if sensing Hoseok’s concern, Jungkook tried to assure him. “Hyung is a good guy. Seriously. He’s almost as bad at games as you are.”

 

Hoseok laughed, but the unease didn't go away. "Didn’t know that was possible.”

 

“It is,” Jungkook insisted. He was trying to lighten the mood, but the way his eyes kept darting to Jimin bellied that. Hoseok pretended he didn’t notice. 

 

“We should have a dinner with Hoseok and Namjoon,” Jimin said, finally speaking, “at my place.”

 

Jungkook shot forward, knocking Jimin’s legs off in the process. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

 

“I am,” Jimin said firmly.

 

“But—” Jungkook began to protest, then glancing at Hoseok relented even if he was uncomfortable with the idea. “Okay.” 

 

“It’ll be great,” Jimin insisted and Jungkook wasn’t entirely sure who he was trying to convince.

Chapter Text

“Two people at once? Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Taehyung asked, crossing his arms as he leaned against the kitchen counter, a frown on his lips.

 

Jimin shrugged. “Not really, no. If I’m being honest, I don’t ever know what’s right or what isn’t but I think until hyung is ready to talk to a professional, we just have to go with our gut.”

 

Taehyung’s lips twitched. “Are you using my own words and logic against me?”

 

“Maybe,” Jimin admitted, laughing a bit awkwardly, “but I’m right regardless.”

 

“You are. Did you tell either of them about anything?”

 

Jimin shook his head. “No, I would never. That’s hyung’s choice. Hoseokie-hyung thinks something’s off though, he noticed me and Jungkook hesitate when he asked to meet Yoongi-hyung. And I’m sure Namjoonie-hyung has noticed I keep dodging him when he asks the same.”

 

“Maybe we should wait,” Taehyung proposed. “Just do one first.”

 

“We could, but which one?” Jimin relented.

 

“Namjoon-hyung would be better since they have similar interests.”

 

Jimin nodded. “But that’s only if hyung is comfortable talking about music again, which is debatable at best. Hoseokie-hyung is really positive, it’d be good for hyung to be around someone like that. Plus he doesn’t push when someone doesn’t want to do or say something.”

 

“Neither does Namjoon-hyung,” Taehyung reminded him.

 

“True,” Jimin agreed, before sighing. He focused on the top of his travel mug as he closed it tight. He’d been so sure when he’d told Hoseok and Jungkook they should have a dinner, but talking it over with Taehyung just reminded him how complicated it was. They never really knew how Yoongi was handling things or would handle things in the future. It was all a guessing game. They’d been walking on eggshells since Minhyuk showed up, worried he’d appear again, worried Yoongi would snap and regress, worried someone, somewhere would do the wrong thing. It made Jimin want to call Seokjin and just explain everything, he’d make it all go away, but he knew Yoongi needed to make that choice for himself so he didn’t. Even if he fantasized about it a little bit. “Maybe we should just call it off. I didn’t think it all through, clearly.”

 

“I really wish you’d stop doing that,” Yoongi cut in from where he stood just outside the kitchen. He was watching them both with a clear frown, his eyes flicking back and forth between them quickly. Both men startled, not having heard Yoongi come out of the shower but Yoongi continued talking before they could defend themselves. “I appreciate how nice you’re being but I really wish you’d stop having little whisper fests about me.”

 

“Hyung, that’s not—”

 

“Yoongi, we aren’t—”

 

Yoongi sighed, an uncomfortable look overtaking his face. His shoulders hunched a bit as he lost some of the fight that had made him interrupt them so pointedly. “I-I thought I was doing good.”

 

“You are, hyung!” Jimin assured immediately.

 

Taehyung nodded. “You really are. You’re working so hard and you’re doing so well.”

 

“Then why—” Yoongi broke off with a frown. “You’re doing the thing you did when I first came here.”

 

Immediately, Jimin and Taehyung exchanged a look and winced. They were. When Yoongi had first arrived they’d made sure to discuss things in private, quietly so he wouldn’t overhear. As Yoongi got more comfortable, they’d stopped doing that. Even after Minhyuk had shown up, they’d talked about it in the living room where Yoongi could, and did, overhear. They may be in the kitchen now, but they’d waited until Yoongi was in the shower getting ready for the excursion to talk about the dinner. Just like before. Taehyung was embarrassed to admit he wasn’t even aware he’d been doing it. “I’m sorry, Yoongi. That wasn’t our intention.”

 

Yoongi nodded but he wasn’t meeting their eyes anymore, which told them both he didn’t believe them. Maybe they hadn’t given him a reason too. Jimin glanced at Taehyung quickly then cleared his throat. “We were thinking of having our friends Hoseokie-hyung and Namjoonie-hyung over for dinner and we were wondering if you’d be comfortable with that.”

 

“T-two?” Yoongi hesitated clearly, mulling it over. He really didn’t have a problem with people aside from a general dislike of being in crowds. But the idea of being introduced personally to two new people threw him off. He hadn’t met that many new people in years and he’d already met Taehyung and Jungkook. That would make four. Then he remembered Jungkook mentioning Namjoon and his head snapped up. “Is ‘Namjoonie-hyung’ the same one Jungkook knows? The one who did music production and literature.”

 

“He is,” Jimin agreed with an overeager nod. “He’s a producer at my company.”

 

“A producer,” Yoongi whispered. He didn’t say anything else, but Jimin heard the rest loud and clear: like I was going to be. Taehyung seemed to sense he missed something because he looked between them, noting the sad look on Jimin’s face. That told him all he needed to know: Yoongi was a producer. Or had been. He’d suspected of course, but he’d also thought perhaps he was a performer as well, so he wasn’t sure. Now he knew and it hurt. No wonder Yoongi had said he couldn't make music without being in the entertainment industry. There was literally no other way for a producer to make music since they needed artists to work with. He felt so stupid suddenly, embarrassed by how easily he’d told Yoongi to just give it a try. He’d only meant to help and now he realized he’d probably just made the impossibility that much more apparent.

 

“Yea, he’s really good too. Specializes in rap and hip-hop,” Jimin added. “I think you’d like him”

 

“And Hoseok-hyung is probably the funniest person I know,” Taehyung chipped in, deciding then and there that he was going to start offering Yoongi more agency than he had previously. 

 

Yoongi’s eyes darted between them again before he nodded. “I’d like to meet them.”

 

“Okay,” Jimin agreed quickly. “I’ll set something up!”

 

“Okay,” Yoongi echoed before taking a step back. “I’m going to finish getting ready.”

 

Jimin watched Yoongi leave before rounding on Taehyung. “What was that look for?”

 

“What look?”

 

“That ‘I kicked a puppy’ look.”

 

“I don’t know what you mean,” Taehyung lied. “I should go get ready.”

 

Before he could walk away, Jimin grabbed Taehyung sleeve and held on. Taehyung looked down in confusion then focused on Jimin’s face, which was facing forward and away from Taehyung. His eyebrows furrowed. “Jimin?”

 

“What are you—” Jimin stopped talking with a twist of his mouth before his lips firmed again. “Yoongi-hyung is in a really fragile place right now.”

 

“I know?” Taehyung agreed, his tone turning questioning in his confusion. 

 

Jimin nodded, his mouth still a hard line. “As long as you know.”

 

“Jimin, I don’t understand.”

 

But Jimin didn’t address it further, he just dropped his hand from Taehyung’s arm and grabbed his travel mug. “I’ll ask Hoseok-hyung and Namjoonie-hyung when’s good for them and let you know.”

 

“Okay…”

 

“Have fun today,” Jimin said with a look over his shoulder that seemed to be filled with something Taehyung didn’t understand. 

 

“We will,” Taehyung settled on, but Jimin had already left the area. Taehyung remained there, staring after Jimin with furrowed brows. He didn’t understand what Jimin was getting at but it left him with a tight feeling in his stomach he didn’t care for. 

 

“Are you ready?” Yoongi asked, appearing again. This time he was dressed for the day and his makeup was done. Nothing as overt as he’d worn the first day, he had no bruises to cover up after all, but enough that it made his skin glow and his eyes look bigger. 

 

“You look beautiful,” Taehyung told him honestly, smiling as he jogged past. “Just let me get changed!”

 

“Um, okay,” Yoongi agreed, his head ducking as he blushed. Beautiful, he called me beautiful

 


 

Sometime later, Yoongi found himself in Taehyung’s car driving to god knows where. They weren’t talking but there was some music playing, a nice soft background sound to their drive. Since leaving the apartment, Yoongi had had a hard time looking at Taehyung. It seemed the entirety of the last two days were dedicated entirely to him embarrassing himself. First, he’d fallen asleep during the movie marathon only to wake up curled into a ball with his head resting just above Taehyung’s knees. He hadn’t said anything, in fact, his fingers had been brushing through his hair idly, but Yoongi had been mortified. Especially since it had felt nice. Minhyuk used to do that too. Before everything. Back when he cared. 

 

And then this morning, he’d eavesdropped on a private conversation and then gotten mad at them for being concerned about him. He knew he was a mess and had issues that he was working through. He knew they had a right to be nervous about introducing him to new people, especially after what happened with Jungkook, and yet he’d felt a fire flare up and explode when Jimin had suggested cancelling. Like he was too broken to meet their friends. He didn’t want to feel that way, even if it was true. He just wanted to be normal again. Not that he’d been the most social person before but he’d had work friends a least. People he could talk to and go out with if he wanted. That was what normal was and he just wanted it back. Even if it terrified him. But that didn’t mean he’d had a right or even reason to interrupt and get mad. God, they looked so surprised. Yea, that’s because you got mad at them for trying to help you, moron.

 

“Um, Tae?”

 

“Uh-huh?” Taehyung answered, his eyes snapping to Yoongi before returning to the road.

 

“I’m sorry about this morning,” Yoongi whispered, hoping an apology was enough. Apologies don’t do shit, Yoongi. You should know that by now.

 

“Sorry?” Taehyung repeated, surprise blanketing his features. “What are you sorry for?”

 

“Um, e-eavesdropping on your private conversation?” Yoongi prompted.

 

Taehyung blinked and then frowned. “We were in the kitchen, which is common space, so there’s no need to apologize. Plus, you were right to interrupt. We were talking about you without asking what you thought.”

 

Yoongi shifted in his seat and looked out the window. In the reflection, he could see Taehyung look at him then the road. He could tell that Taehyung wanted to give him his full attention but couldn't. Perhaps Yoongi should have chosen a different venue for this, but it was too late now. “I know you’re just concerned about me.”

 

“That’s true,” Taehyung agreed, “but that doesn’t mean you don’t get a choice. We forgot that and I never want you to feel like you can’t do or say what you want. This is your life and your home. You can do what you want.”

 

“What I want,” Yoongi repeated, his eyes still fixed on Taehyung’s reflection. He traced his features for a moment then bit his lip. “I want to-to be normal.”

 

“What’s not normal about you?”

 

Yoongi slouched, his words coming in a rush, “I want to be able to go places randomly without worrying who might be there or see me. I want you guys to be able to have people over without having to plan it three ways from Sunday. I want someone to be able to bump into me or raise their voice without causing me to panic. I want to be able to date without worrying that I’m going to make them do the same thing he did. I just want to be normal, Tae.”

 

There was so much to unpack there that Teahyung was genuinely flabbergasted for a moment. He didn’t even know where to start. He wanted to address the most concerning things first but he knew that wasn’t the best way so he tried to start at the beginning. “Do you remember when I told you I lived with my grandparents?”

 

“Y-yes?” Yoongi answered, unsure how his word vomit led to Taehyung’s grandparents.

 

“When I first moved in, I was the worst. At first, I was just terrified they would be the same. They were my father’s parents, so it didn’t make sense to me that they could be different. How could someone with good parents end up an abusive drunk? It just didn’t make sense.”

 

“I get that,” Yoongi said softly, remembering how he’d flinched away from Jungkook and Taehyung even though he’d seen no evidence they were violent. 

 

Taehyung nodded. “I know it makes sense, but at the time I was just an asshole. I made their lives hell. Just trying to antagonize them so they’d react the way he had. But they never did. That just made me worse. So they took me to therapy.”

 

“Therapy?”

 

“Yup. Made me talk through my shit. Eventually, it helped me understand why I was so angry all the time. And sad. I went for years, and I still do on occasion when I have a bad time.”

 

Yoongi turned in his seat. “It helps?”

 

“It does,” Taehyung agreed, “but you know what?”

 

“What?” 

 

“But I still freaked out when I smelled rum,” Taehyung reminded him, “it’s been years and I’ve talked through those times a million times. I could probably tell you about them in great detail without breaking down, but rum sends me right back as if I’m there for real. It’s a sensory thing, I guess. At least that’s what my therapist said.”

 

Yoongi bit his lip, his arms crossing over his chest protectively. “So you’re saying I’ll never be normal.”

 

“No,” Taehyung shook his head, his fingers tightening on the wheel before he forcefully loosened them. “I’m saying you’ll find your new normal. Just like I did. And that normal might include not worrying about new people or not, but it’ll be yours. And you’ll meet someone who doesn’t care about that too.”

 

“I don’t know if that’s possible,” Yoongi muttered.

 

“I like to think there’s someone for everyone.”

 

Yoongi snorted, but it was a nasty sound. “That’s how I ended up in this mess in the first place.”

 

“He wasn’t your person, Yoongi,” Taehyung said, his voice firm and confident.


“How do you know?”

 

“Because he didn’t value you. Your person will.”

 

“Maybe there’s nothing to value.”

 

Taehyung took a breath, a flash of anger snapping through his body. Lately, he’d begun to understand Jimin’s aggressive reactions more and more and he wasn’t sure what that said about him. “Who’s saying that? You or Minhyuk?”

 

Yoongi wrenched around, eyes wide and horrified. Taehyung had never said his name before. At least not to Yoongi. He was always careful not to, but now he was making a point. Yoongi’s shoulders hunched, his whole body rolling into a ball. He was doing it again. Parroting Minhyuk’s words without realizing it. He was beginning to wonder if anything he did was his own anymore. “I-I don’t know.”

 

“Yes, you do,” Taehyung said confidently. 

 

“No, I-I—”

 

This beat is awesome, Yoon! Man, you should show Choi-PD, he’d want to use it for sure!

 

Of course, he would. I made it and I’m a what?

 

Dude, I am not saying it.

 

Say it with me, come on, a genius, yes, that’s me, Min Genius.

 

And I’m leaving. See ya Min. Remember me when you’re rich and famous.

 

I won’t.

 

Yoongi’s breath stuttered, a memory he didn’t even know he had suddenly appearing. He’d just been an intern then, but there had been whispers. Choi-PD had all but guaranteed him a position if he’d wanted it. And he had, god, he’d wanted it so bad. He’d gotten it too. He could still remember the look on Choi-PD’s face when he’d quit instead: Yoongi, what the hell? You could be amazing! What are you going to do instead? Don’t waste your talent!

 

“Yoongi, are you okay? I’m sorry if I pushed too hard. Sometimes I don't think and I—”

 

“I’m a genius.”

 

“—what?” Taehyung responded, his words trailing off as he registered what Yoongi said.

 

“T-that’s what I used to say. That I was a genius,” Yoongi explained, the embarrassment over what he’d just said showing clearly on his face.

 

“Did you now?” Taehyung wondered, leaning back in his seat with a sigh. He’d pulled over when Yoongi spaced out, so he rubbed his face, a laugh bubbling up in his throat before he threw a smile Yoongi’s way. “Then I guess that means there’s more than just a little to value, huh?”

 

“Y-yea,” Yoongi agreed, smiling slightly as he turned back to the window. Maybe there is.

 


 

“I swear mountain climbing wasn’t the intent, but look at this view,” Taehyung said, not bothering to turn around and check on Yoongi, who was, at best, struggling. He wasn’t the most active person and he certainly wasn’t wearing the appropriate shoes for hiking. He was very thankful Taehyung wasn’t looking at him because he was sure he looked a mess. 

 

All those thoughts fled his mind as he stepped out into the clearing though. Taehyung had brought them to a vantage point. It wasn’t the top of the mountain, but it afforded a beautiful view of the valley and city below. Like this, it was almost like the city had popped up in the middle of trees, a large speck of grey surrounded by reds, oranges, and yellows. Yoongi stepped forward without thinking, his breath in his throat. It reminded him of Daegu. Of when he was young and he’d run up the mountain to play in the streams and get lost in the woods. Glancing at Taehyung, he noticed the other man wasn’t taking photos. Instead, he was just staring out, a peaceful expression on his face.

 

“It reminds me of Daegu,” Yoongi admitted.

 

Taehyung smiled. “It does. I was never near the mountains, but I imagine they looked a lot like this.”


“Close enough,” Yoongi told him. “Daegu is obviously better though.”

 

“Of course,” Taehyung agreed, his satoori making a broad appearance as he smiled cheekily.

 

Yoongi returned his smile then tilted his head. “Why aren’t you taking pictures? Wasn’t that the whole point of this?”

 

“It was,” Taehyung agreed, “but I like to get a feel for the area first. I want to experience it in person before I do so through a viewfinder.”

 

“Huh,” Yoongi grunted out, scanning the foliage and view again, taking in new details he hadn’t seen before in his desire to see everything at once, “kinda like listening to a sound on its own before adding it to another beat.”

 

Taehyung gave Yoongi a sidelong glance, but the smaller man wasn’t looking at him so he refocused on the view below. “I don’t know, you’d have to show me.”

 

“Sure,” Yoongi agreed without really thinking, “can I look around a bit?”

 

“Of course, stay within earshot just in case.”

 

“I will,” Yoongi promised before disappearing into the trees behind him. Only when Taehyung was sure he was gone did he do a little dance, trying to stop himself from literally squealing. Yoongi had agreed to do something with music without panicking. Taehyung wasn’t sure if Yoongi was even really aware of what he’d done, but it didn’t matter. Yoongi had agreed and even if he didn’t end up following through, the fact he had initially agreed was a point of celebration, so Taehyung did just that. 

 

That giddiness seeped into his photography on that day too. Every photo he took just felt happy. The way the leaves bent to the wind; the way the buildings reflected the sunlight; the way nature and humanity bled together. All of it was happy. 

 

Even when darkness began to touch the sky and they had to make their way back to the car lest they get stuck in the woods at night, the happiness lingered. 

 

“I had a good day,” Yoongi told him as he settled into his seat and clicked the seatbelt into place.

 

Doing the same, Taehyung paused and smiled at him. “Me too.”

 


 

A good day turned into a good night which turned into a good week and before Yoongi was even really aware of it, Jimin was running around the apartment cleaning things Yoongi had already cleaned while muttering about hating guests. From his place on the couch beside Jungkook, Yoongi watched Jimin putter around, his eyes darting from place to place like he’d suddenly see something misplaced or glaringly offensive.

 

“Yes, he’s always like this,” Jungkook answered Yoongi’s unasked question.

 

Yoongi turned to Jungkook. “Always? Have they not been here before?”

 

“They have. Hyung has worked with them both for two years. He’s just anxious about stuff like this.”

 

“Huh,” Yoongi said, refocusing on Jimin, “he wasn’t before.”

 

“Really?”

 

“No,” Yoongi told him, “he was the kinda person who’d have a party with his laundry still on a chair in the corner.”

 

“Wow,” Jungkook gasped out, surprise clear on his face. “He’s been like this as long as we’ve been together.”

 

“Huh,” Yoongi said again, “guess people change.”

 

“Guess so,” Jungkook agreed.

 

“You know, Kook, you could help!” Jimin snapped, his fingers anxiously fluffing a pillow Yoongi had never seen before.

 

Jungkook turned to Jimin with large puppy dog eyes. “What about Yoongi-hyung?”

 

“He cooked you ungrateful brat now help,” Jimin ordered, smacking Jungkook with the pillow he’d just fluffed. This was a mistake as Jungkook grabbed it out of Jimin’s hands and the two immediately devolved into what Yoongi presumed was a pillow fight but looked more like wrestling and a little bit of foreplay. 

 

Deciding he’d seen more than enough, Yoongi stepped over them and went to the kitchen where he found Taehyung staring at his pot of stew. “Are you cooking now?”

 

“God, no,” Taehyung burst out, “but I’ve found if I pretend I’m doing something, Jimin leaves me alone.”

 

“I see,” Yoongi said slowly, nodding, “but I need to check it.”

 

“Right,” Taehyung muttered, glancing furtively at the door as if Jimin would appear and give him a task.

 

Taking pity on him, Yoongi pointed to the rice cooker in the corner. “Why don’t you check that the rice is ready?”

 

“I can do that,” Taehyung agreed quickly, practically running the short distance to the rice cooker. Yoongi shook his head but refocused on his stew. It was a simple meal and an even simpler recipe, but it was the only thing he could think of that would feed five people and one Jungkook without being too expensive. As the days passed, Yoongi was becoming more and more of the financial burden he was. He’d even sent out a few resumes, but they’d all come back with a short email about being overqualified, which he didn't think made sense but whatever. 

 

Truth be told, he’d only started job hunting because it gave him something to do. He’d told them to invite their friends over, but as the day got closer, he’d grown more and more anxious. He didn't know how he’d react; maybe he’d freak out and flee or just retreat into himself; maybe everything would be fine and he’d have a great time. Optimistic but not likely. Yoongi had started to low key panic, anxiety making him run scenario after scenario in his head, none of which ended well. By the time this morning had rolled around, Yoongi had worried himself so much, he’d dreamt of the dinner and woken up thinking it had already happened. But it hadn’t and here he was, stirring stew and thinking about applying for more minimum wage jobs so he could feel useful rather than even coming close to thinking about the two people who were going to appear any minute. 

 

It’s fine, it’ll be fine. 

 

No, it won’t, you’re a whole ass mess with about a million different serious psychological issues you can’t afford to get checked and these people are nice and normal and— 

 

“They’re here!”

 

Fuck, please, just let this okay. Just let me be normal for one night!

 

“Okay,” Yoongi replied, mostly impressed with how level his voice sounded.

 

It did not, however, fool Taehyung, who appeared by his side and pressed a comforting hand on his back. Yoongi felt himself relax seconds before he heard Jimin’s voice greeting Hoseok and Namjoon. He could hear them replying, one voice higher and very excited while the other was lower and calm, but still happy. Their clear happiness at being invited to dinner made Yoongi wonder if perhaps this had been a more frequent event before he moved in but he didn’t have the chance to fixate on it because they appeared in the doorway and he had other things to worry about.

 

First of all, Yoongi was beginning to think Jimin only associated with beautiful people. Tall, beautiful people. First Taehyung, then Jungkook, now these two. The first one to enter had dark brown hair swept up from his forehead. His face was long with a bright smile and soft eyes. Just behind him, a taller man with light brown hair pulled back in a beanie stood. He had dimples and that was pretty much all Yoongi could focus on, if he was being honest. Their respective beauty did not stop him from tensing up though. The only thing keeping him from retreating was the warmth of Taehyung’s hand on his back, so he focused on that.

 

“Yoongi-hyung, this is Hoseokie-hyung,” Jimin introduced, gesturing to the smiling one, before switching to the one with the dimples, “and this is Namjoonie-hyung. They’re both ‘94s.”

 

“Nice to meet you,” Yoongi said, his voice half as loud as he meant it to be. 

 

Hoseok smiled in response, his eyes flicking over Yoongi then Taehyung before returning to Yoongi. “It’s nice to meet you! I’ve heard so much about you! I was promised all the embarrassing baby Jimin stories I could handle and I will not be disappointed!”

 

“I did not promise that!” Jimin half shrieked.

 

“No,” Jungkook cut in, appearing behind the two and throwing himself over their shoulders, “but I did and trust me when I say, Yoongi-hyung has the best stories.”

 

“This is harassment,” Jimin hissed. “I invite you into my home and you have the audacity—”

 

Yoongi had been trying not to laugh, he had, but Jungkook’s shit-eating grin, Jimin’s slightly red face, and Hoseok’s wide, heart-shaped smile that radiated fondness and humour got to him. It started as a small chuckle before he began to laugh fully. He brought up his hands to his face to cover his mouth, but all eyes had focused on him by then so it was too late.

 

Cuteeeeeee,” Hoseok called out. “He is just adorable. I’m going to put him in my pocket!”

 

“Seok, dude, that is weird,” Namjoon chastised, shaking his head, before refocusing on Yoongi. “Just ignore him, sometimes he doesn’t think before he speaks.”

 

“I did think!” Hoseok protested. “I merely deemed him knowing he is cute and has a home in my pocket if he wants to be necessary information to share.”

 

Without missing a beat, Namjoon nodded. “Of course you did. No more hanging out with Jin for you.”

 

“Jin?” Yoongi questioned, having heard the name thrown around but with little to no context.

 

Namjoon smiled, his dimples deepening and his eyes taking on an even softer look, “my boyfriend, Kim Seokjin. I’m sure you’ll meet him eventually. He’s like the group dad. Keeps us all together.”

 

“But I suppose that would be Yoongi-hyung instead,” Hoseok added, before looking to Yoongi. “You’re older, no?”

 

“I don’t know?” Yoongi said, wondering why he was being asked when he literally didn’t know this person.

 

“Nah,” Jimin cut in, “Jin-hyung is a bit older, but not by much. Only 3 months actually, but hyung is a ‘93.”

 

“Ah,” Hoseok said before smiling. “Well, welcome to the land of being Kim Seokjin’s bitch. It’s a great place.”

 

Taehyung snorted. “At least it comes with free food.”

 

“True,” Namjoon agreed with a sagely nod.

 

“He says as if they aren’t fucking,” Jungkook snickered, earning an elbow to the stomach by Yoongi couldn’t tell who. The four of them were just so close. Yoongi felt like an outsider even in his kitchen. He glanced up at Taehyung, who was smiling and laughing at them, before turning away. If he wasn’t there, Taehyung would be with them too, but he was staying near Yoongi. That thought made him feel a harsh combination of good and bad. Good that Taehyung cared enough to offer comfort but bad that Taehyung was separated from the fun because of him. If he wasn’t here, Taehyung would be having fun too, but instead, he was burdening him because he couldn’t interact properly. Couldn’t be normal. This is why Minhyuk never wanted to bring you to work parties. You can’t interact with anyone properly. This is why— 

 

“—ake it?”

 

“Yoongi?” 

 

“What?” Yoongi asked, looking around only to see everyone looking at him. Realizing he’d missed part of the conversation and Taehyung had spoken last, he looked up at him, seeing he was watching him with concerned eyes. “What?”

 

“Hoseok-hyung said it smelled good in here and asked if you made the food.”

 

“Oh,” Yoongi said dumbly before turning to Hoseok. “I did. It’s just a stew, nothing fancy, but I wasn’t sure what to make for some many people. Actually, I can make you something else. Maybe I should have asked what everyone liked. Um, if you give me preferences I can—”

 

Hoseok’s smile was a little confused but he shook his head, cutting Yoongi’s panicked rambling off. “It smells amazing. Thank you so much for cooking for us.”

 

“Yea, Jin has been super busy at work so I’ve been stuck with leftovers,” Namjoon added, his smile comforting. “I’m excited for something fresh.”

 

“O-oh, um, okay. Well, uh, if you guys want to sit down I can bring it out?”

 

“I’ll help,” Taehyung offered, sending Jimin a quick look.

 

Jimin raised a singular brow in response before shoo-ing everyone out of the kitchen. “I set the table up out here so we have more room. Hoseokie-hyung, let’s open that wine you brought!”

 

“I can do it, you can join them,” Yoongi told Taehyung the second everyone left.

 

Taehyung shook his head. “Nah, this would take you two trips, so why not just do it in one?”

 

“I’m okay, Tae. You don’t have to hover.”

 

“Who’s hovering?” Taehyung questioned. “Because I’m literally just offering to bring out food for you so I can take credit for this rice.”

 

Yoongi snorted before he could stop himself. He didn’t really believe Taehyung, he knew hovering when he saw it, but he appreciated the effort. “You do that.”

 

“I will,” Taehyung told him with a serious tone, before turning and leaving the kitchen. “Take a look at this wonderful rice I made all by myself!”

 

“Idiot,” Yoongi said to himself, shaking his head before he froze in surprise. He’d just insulted someone, even jokingly, without worrying about a consequence. That was new. He wasn’t even worried Taehyung would be mad. Smiling to himself at his own little discovery, Yoongi grabbed the pot and the trivet to protect the table and headed to where the others were already seated. 


If this is my new normal, I can handle that.

Chapter Text

The sound of clapping hands and loud laughter echoed throughout the entire apartment, so loud Yoongi was sure it filled the entire space. He found himself smiling at it, at how genuinely happy it seemed. And he wasn’t the only one, everyone at the table seemed to be watching Hoseok with a genuinely fond expression as he laughed. Even when he leaned over and his crossed legs lifted the table a bit causing it to settle back down with a solid thump. If anything, that just made everyone laugh harder. Yoongi had no problem following along, losing himself in the happiness of the moment. 

 

Eventually though, Hoseok’s tilting became too much and he practically threw himself into Yoongi’s personal space. Thrown off by the sudden invasion, Yoongi tensed before he could stop himself. But as quickly as it happened, Hoseok was gone and his personal space was empty. Yoongi felt his cheeks flush, embarrassed that he’d reacted so strongly to something so casual, but when he flicked his eyes to check if Hoseok had noticed, the smiling man wasn’t even looking at him. Yoongi let out a breath he hadn’t even been aware he was holding and grabbed his wine glass, intent on forgetting about his little slip and enjoying himself. 

 

“This was absolutely amazing, Yoongi-hyung!” Hoseok said, drawing Yoongi out of his own spiralling thoughts and hyper fixation on appearing normal. “I would say I’ve never tasted something so good, but I’m afraid Jin-hyung would somehow sense it and end my life.”

 

Yoongi laughed shyly. “oh, um, thanks I think.”

 

“It’s a compliment,” Taehyung assured, throwing his arm over the back of Yoongi’s chair easily, “Jin-hyung is a great cook, but so are you so the comparison fits.”

 

“It’s true,” Namjoon agreed with a smile. “he’s going to be excited to meet someone who knows something about cooking. He’s been stuck with us for so long.”

 

“I can cook,” Jimin protested immediately, with Jungkook echoing a sharp me too just after, which made both Namjoon and Hoseok laugh for some reason. Yoongi furrowed his brows, knowing he was missing something. 

 

Catching onto his confusion, Taehyung leaned down and whispered. “Jungkook was taught to cook by Jin-hyung but he’s often too impatient to actually cook, so it really doesn’t count. Jimin always used to say he was a natural cook, but I’m betting you taught him, huh?”

 

Yoongi nodded. “When we were both in university. Nothing fancy though.”

 

Taehyung smiled. “They’re both too lazy to cook, so it’s a running joke that they just say they can cook so people don’t make fun of them.”

 

“Oh,” Yoongi said, understanding finally.

 

“Sorry,” Hoseok cut in, his smile sheepish. “Guess we shouldn’t just do inside jokes without explaining them.”

 

“No, no, it’s fine. You’ve known each other for years, I don’t mind.”

 

“I’m sure you and Jiminie have a ton too!” Namjoon said, his grin taking a slightly sly cast. “You could tell us about them, or tell us those baby Jiminie stories we were promised.”

 

“NO!” Jimin shouted, waving his hands. “There will be none of that!”

 

Yoongi blinked innocently. “But you were so cute, Jimin.”

 

“You will not use those Bambi eyes on me!” Jimin insisted.

 

“He looks like that emoji you use all the time, Seok,” Namjoon said with a laugh.

 

Hoseok nodded. “He does. And I reiterate my pocket statement from earlier.”

 

“No one is putting Yoongi in their pocket,” Taehyung defended, though he was clearly laughing too.

 

Leaning forward conspiratorially, but maintaining his distance, Hoseok winked. “The offer stands.”

 

Without even really meaning to, Yoongi nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

 

“I like him,” Hoseok declared loudly as he refilled his glass and topped off Yoongi’s. “We’re keeping him.”

 

“You can’t keep people, hyung,” Jungkook reminded him while rolling his eyes.

 

Hoseok pouted at him. “I know that! I just meant if he wants, he should stay.”

 

“Better,” Jungkook allowed.

 

Yoongi looked between Hoseok and Jungkook, once again sensing he was missing something, before Namjoon cleared his throat, drawing the attention of everyone at the table.

“I have a confession to make,” Namjoon admitted, scratching his cheek.

 

“We know it was you who broke my lamp,” Jimin told him.

 

“And my chair,” Hoseok added.

 

“And my Playstation controller,” Jungkook tacked on for good measure.

 

“That’s not what— I did not break your controller, that was Jin!”

 

“Sure, hyung,” Jungkook nodded in faux understanding.

 

“It was!” Namjoon insisted, looking around the table pleadingly. Yoongi couldn’t help but noticed no one looked like they believed him.

 

“He breaks things a lot,” Taehyung helpfully filled in, which made Namjoon shrug in a way that Yoongi could only translate as: what can ya do?

 

“As I was saying,” Namjoon continued, throwing a look at Jungkook, who snickered. “I have a different confession to make.”

 

“Alright, out with it!” Taehyung half yelled, bringing the hand not resting on Yoongi’s chair to cup his lips. “We’ve been waiting!”

 

“You’re all hopeless,” Namjoon sighed, the look on his face screaming ‘I regret my choices,’ before he turned to Yoongi and scrunched his nose. “I actually recognized you.”

 

“W-what?” Yoongi managed, barely noticing the way Taehyung tensed beside him.

 

“Yea, um, from your rapper days actually. I was a bit of a fan. I followed your SoundCloud and everything. I always wondered what happened to you, so imagine my surprise when I walked in and you were standing in Jimin’s kitchen!”

 

Yoongi only heard the first part of Namjoon’s explanation. Somewhere after ‘rapper days’ a loud buzzing drowned out all the sound at the table, quickly followed by a wall of white as the table faded away. The buzzing sound had just become a tangible thing, crawling across his skin to his lungs, when a loud bang snapped Yoongi back enough to see the wine bottle on its side, the dark red liquid pouring onto his pants. He heard someone speaking as if they were trapped underwater, then he felt hands on his arm. Everything else was a blur until he felt himself sitting on something cold and hands touching his clothing. 

 

Breathe. Focus on your breathing, Just breathe. You can do it. Focus.

 


 

The second he’d finished talking, Namjoon realized he’d made a colossal mistake. At first, he’d taken Yoongi’s hesitancy for embarrassment, but he could see now he was wrong. It only lasted for a moment before Taehyung spilled the wine bottle, but Namjoon had seen it. And he wasn’t the only one, if the look on Hoseok’s face was anything to go by. 

 

“Jimin, could you come with me?” Hoseok asked, his tone high and light.

 

Jimin blinked, his focus having been on Yoongi’s and Taehyung’s retreating figures. “Um, sure.”

 

Without another word, Hoseok left the table with Jimin following closely behind. Once they’d roaded the corner, Namjoon turned to Jungkook, who looked like he was going to cry. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say something to make him upset.”

 

“It’s not your fault,” Jungkook said, shaking his head, “We knew something like this might happen.”

 

“You knew and you didn’t warn me?” Namjoon hissed.

 

“I didn’t know you knew him,” Jungkook countered. “We just figured you’d mention working in music, which he’s been okay with talking about lately and I just—”

 

Namjoon narrowed his eyes, noting the way Jungkook hadn’t mentioned why Yoongi was upset. “What happened?”

 

“It’s complicated, hyung.”

 

“So give me the cliff notes,” Namjoon insisted. “I don’t want to hurt him again!”

 

“I can’t,” Jungkook said, shaking his head. “Just… maybe don’t mention his past unless he does, okay?”

 

“Is he…” Namjoon trailed off, casting a glance toward the hallway Yoongi and Taehyung disappeared down. “Is he okay?”

 

“He’s getting there,” Jungkook replied after a moment. “The fact he wanted to do this dinner means so much, hyung. You don’t even know. He just— it’s complicated.”

 

“So you’ve said,” Namjoon pointed out then sighed, “but I get it. Tread lightly.”

 

“Don’t-don’t treat him like he’s different, okay? He just wants to be normal.”

 

“There’s nothing abnormal about having a past, Kook. There’s nothing to treat him differently about.”

 

Jungkook smiled, his teeth flashing even as his eyes maintained their sad light. “I knew you’d understand, hyung.”

 


 

The second Jimin and Hoseok were out of sight of the table, Jimin felt his back hit the wall and looked up to find a very angry-looking Hoseok staring back at him. “What happened to that poor man?”

 

Jimin winced, unused to seeing Hoseok so mad. Or mad at all. “I can’t—”

 

“You will not pull that again. I let it go before but I won’t now. Do you want me to summarize all the things I’ve noticed, Jimin?”

 

“Hyung—”

 

“First, he flinched when me and Joon came in, even retreated until Tae caught him. He assessed us in less than a second like someone who’s had to do that. He spaced out for a solid minute too. Oh, and let’s not forget when he apologized for cooking for us and offered to make an entire other dinner so we’d be happy. And throughout said dinner, his whole demeanour shifted back and forth depending on the volume of the conversation. When I leaned too close, he tensed and pulled away then was clearly embarrassed for doing so. Then, of course, when Joon mentioned his past he had a full-blown panic attack.”

 

“Y-you noticed all that?” Jimin whispered.

 

Shaking his head, Hoseok dropped his head and stepped back. “My job is to recognize small shifts in behaviour and movement, of course I did. He’s also not the first person I’ve met with clear signs of trauma. I just need to know what I’m dealing with.”

 

“He doesn’t want people to know,” Jimin protested.

 

“Were you involved in any way?” Hoseok asked, his eyes hard.

 

“What?! NO! How could you ask that?!” Jimin practically yelled, anger radiating in his voice, but Hoseok remained unmoved.

 

“I’ve learned to never assume someone can’t be that person because it’s a fucking lie.”

 

“I don’t know how I feel about that,” Jimin snapped.

 

Hoseok shrugged. “It’s not about you. It’s about him.”

 

Deflating a bit, Jimin bit his lip. “I thought he was doing better. Maybe this was a bad idea.”

 

“Maybe,” Hoseok agreed. “I don’t know the situation.”

 

“I can’t—”

 

“I get it, okay? I’m not happy, but I get it,” Hoseok interrupted, his displeasure clear on his face. “but tell me one thing?”

 

“If I can.”

 

“Is the person responsible for that behaviour still a threat?”

 

“Yes,” Jimin admitted.

 

Hoseok nodded. “Have you told Jin-hyung?”

 

“No.”

“You should. He’d help.”

 

“I want hyung to make that choice,” Jimin admitted after a second. “I want him to be in control.”

 

“I get that,” Hoseok agreed, “but you do know that means he’s going to have to talk about it first.”

 

“I know.”

 

Hoseok didn’t reply. Instead, he remained still and scanned Jimin’s face as if he’d get the answers he wanted there. Jimin wasn’t sure what those answers were. In all honesty, he hadn’t expected such a strong reaction from Hoseok. It made Jimin wonder if perhaps there was more in Hoseok’s past that he wasn’t aware of and this hit a nerve. Or maybe he just didn’t like the idea of people he liked being hurt. Either way, Jimin found he was thankful, even if he’d been accused of something terrible. Yoongi could use as many supportive and vocal people in his corner as possible and it looked like Hoseok was already there. 

 

“Let’s go back to the table before they come back. We don’t want to upset him.”

 

“Okay,” Jimin agreed, once again following behind. 

 

Yes, there was definitely something else there that Jimin was missing, but he figured that, like Yoongi, it was best to wait until he wanted to talk about it rather than pressing. The waiting game was apparently something Jimin was very good at.

 


 

He wasn’t sure how long had passed, but eventually, Yoongi regained focus and scanned the room. He was in the bathroom, seated on the turned-down seat of the toilet. Taehyung sat beside him on the lip of the tub, his hands blotting Yoongi’s jeans. Yoongi glanced down, realizing that Taehyung must be trying to save them from wine stains, and touched the top of Taehyung’s hands gently. “It’s okay, I can do it.”

 

“There you are,” Taehyung said softly, relief clear in his voice. “I was worried for a second there.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi whispered.

 

Shaking his head, Taehyung cupped Yoongi’s cheek with his palm and lifted Yoongi’s face so their eyes met. “Never apologize for something like that.”

 

“But I ruined dinner,” Yoongi insisted, his eyes moving around the room rather than meeting Taehyung’s like he clearly wanted.

 

“You did not,” Taehyung disagreed. “As far as everyone is concerned, all that happened was I spilled wine and we left to clean you up.”

 

“There’s no way they believe that,” Yoongi protested weekly.

 

“They do, because that’s what happened. It wasn’t as noticeable as you seem to think. I only noticed because I know you and was sitting close enough to feel you tense. Everything is fine.”

 

Yoongi met Taehyung’s eyes hesitantly and bit his lip. “You think so?”

 

Smiling reassuringly, Taehyung nodded. “I’m sure.”

 

“Thank you. For helping me,” Yoongi whispered after a moment.

 

Without removing his hand from Yoongi’s face, Taehyung scrunched his nose, “I’ll always help you, Yoongi. With whatever you need.”

 

“You don’t have to do that.”

 

“I know,” Taehyung agreed, finally dropping his hand, “but I want to. You’re my friend, Yoongi. I want to help in whatever way you wish for me too.”

 

Yoongi’s brows tilted up, his eyes turning round and slightly glassy. “I-I’ve never had as many friends as I do now. Do you think, um, do you think Hoseok was being serious?”

 

“About the pocket thing?” Taehyung asked, then laughed. “I’m sorry to say you aren’t quite small enough, though I’m sure he’d give it a go.”

 

“No,” Yoongi shook his head, his hair flying, “I meant about the keeping me part. As-as a friend.”

 

“Oh,” Taehyung said softly. “Yes, I think he was serious.”

 

Yoongi pursed his lips. “I think I’d like that. He— I like him. He’s loud and entirely too happy but I like it, I think. It makes me feel… fun.”

 

“Fun?” Taehyung repeated, tilting his head.

 

“Yea, fun,” Yoongi said again, nodding firmly.

 

“Well, then, I can’t wait to see more of fun-Yoongi.”

 

“I wonder what he’s like,” Yoongi contemplated, his eyes taking on a faraway quality. “It’s been so long.”

 

“I bet he’s the best,” Taehyung said seriously.

 

“Maybe,” Yoongi allowed before refocusing on the cloth Taehyung had left on his thighs. Picking it up, Yoongi began to blot his jeans, noting with a hint of despair, they would stain despite both their efforts. He only had two pairs of jeans. 

 

“Do you want to talk about it?” Taehyung asked quietly, his tone supportive but not demanding.

 

Yoongi cast a hurried glance Taehyung’s way before returning to his own hand. “I thought I was doing better talking about my-my music, but when Namjoon mentioned it I just… faded I guess. I didn’t even hear everything he said.”

 

“He said he was a fan,” Taehyung supplied, watching Yoongi’s face carefully. “That he wondered why you stopped.”

 

“I see,” Yoongi said weakly. “I guess there are plenty of people who wonder that. I had a bit of a following once upon a time.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yea,” Yoongi confirmed, a ghost of a smile on his lips. “People relate to adolescent angst I guess.”

 

Taehyung nudged Yoongi’s shoulder. “Or they recognized talent.”

 

“You’ve never even heard my music.”

 

“No,” Taehyung acknowledged, “but I’ve heard Namjoon-hyung’s and he’s amazing. So if he’s a fan of you, that says something.”

 

“Do you think I should say something?” Yoongi wondered, changing the subject.

 

Watching Yoongi’s hands, Taehyung saw them clench as he asked that, telling him Yoongi was suggesting something he likely wasn’t actually comfortable with doing. “Only if you want to. I’m sure it’ll be fine either way.”

 

“I guess,” Yoongi agreed in a tone Taehyung knew meant he wasn’t convinced. 

 

“I’m sure you noticed how quickly conversation shifts in this group,” Taehyung reminded him. “They are probably fifteen topics away from your music by now.”

 

Biting his lip, Yoongi nodded. “I’ll thank him if he brings it up again.”

 

“I’m sure he’d like that,” Taehyung agreed before standing up and offering his hand. “Ready to go back?”

 

Yoongi looked at his hand, then up to Taehyung’s face, seeing a comforting and easy smile on his lips, and nodded, “I am.”

 

“Then let’s go,” Taehyung declared, pulling Yoongi up when he grabbed his hand. Once Yoongi was standing, Taehyung led the way out, not bothering to let go of Yoongi’s hand. When they returned to the living room where the table was set up, everyone turned and smiled. Taehyung felt Yoongi tense, but as predicted, no one pointed out his panic.

 

“Look what you’ve done to his jeans!” Hoseok lamented, shaking his head mournfully at the clear stain on Yoongi’s pants. “You better buy him five new pairs to apologize!”

 

“I will,” Taehyung agreed, still pulling Yoongi toward the table.

 

“You don’t need to do that,” Yoongi protested immediately.

 

Hoseok sighed loudly. “No, no, you have to be dramatic. Throw a hand to your forehead, lament the loss of such nice and well broken-in jeans. You gotta bleed’em dry!”

 

Yoongi snorted and tried to cover his mouth, only then noticing Taehyung was still holding his hand. He glanced down, which caused Taehyung to finally let go. He flexed his hand for a moment, feeling the loss of Taehyung’s warmth, before returning his attention to Hoseok. “I’ll work on it.”

 

“All in good time, I suppose,” Hoseok agreed, taking a sip of his wine. “All in good time.”

 


 

By the time Hoseok and Namjoon left, the first tipsy and spaced out, the second tipsy and speaking at least three different languages, Yoongi was exhausted. But in a good way. In the ‘I had a good time’ way. The panic attack still lingered in his mind and bones, likely making him more tired than he’d have been normally, but Yoongi pushed past that and focused on the good. No one had mentioned his little episode and the rest of the dinner had gone well. He’d even found himself relaxing since no one was invading his personal space anymore and he started to catch onto some of the inside jokes. As he changed into his pyjamas, Yoongi couldn’t help but wonder if they could do it again soon. Maybe even go out to a restaurant. 

 

“Hyung?”

 

“Yea?” Yoongi replied. “Come in.”

 

Jimin’s head popped inside and he smiled. “Getting ready for bed?”

 

“Yea, I’m super tired.”

 

“Our friends will do that. They are nothing if not energetic,” Jimin told him as he came to sit on the side of the bed.

 

Unbothered by his presence, Yoongi finished buttoning his shirt and slipped into the blanket, tucking the pillow under his neck and chin so he could still see Jimin. “What’s up?”

 

“I just…” Jimin trailed off, smiling half-heartedly. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

 

“I’m fine, Jimin,” Yoongi assured.

 

“You’re always fine,” Jimin countered. “I know that. But maybe you’re fine and something else.”

 

Yoongi frowned, scanning the look on Jimin’s face, then felt a flash of dread. “You saw.”

 

“I did,” Jimin replied honestly.

 

“I thought— Tae said no one noticed.”

 

“They shouldn’t have,” Jimin said. “It was so brief they should have missed it, but they didn’t. I don’t even think Tae noticed they saw. He was too concerned with helping you.”

 

“Oh, no, they must have felt so uncomfortable,” Yoongi immediately worried, his breathing turning erratic as guilt flooded him.

 

“No, not at all. They were just worried it was their fault and wanted to apologize.”

 

“It wasn’t them,” Yoongi defended, not wanting Jimin to blame his friends, then winced, “Well, it wasn’t purposefully them.”

 

“I know, hyung. Don’t worry,” Jimin assured, “I told them the same. I’m only telling you this because I know you didn’t want to tell them and they don’t know but they suspect. Hoseok-hyung more than Namjoon-hyung I think.”

 

Shifting around, Yoongi sat up and wrapped his arms around his legs. He started at his knees for a moment, contemplating what Jimin had just said. His first reaction was mortification; they’d noticed he wasn’t normal and had probably spent the entire night worried about setting him off again. His second reaction was confusion; he hadn’t noticed them acting any different aside from the fact that Hoseok wasn’t as close as before. His third and final reaction was guilt; not about what had happened but that Jimin, and likely Taehyung and Jungkook too, felt like they had to lie to their friends for him. “It’s not a secret, you know.”

 

“What?”

 

“What happened to me. What h-he did. It’s not a secret,” Yoongi said, trying to sound more confident than he felt.

 

Jimin furrowed his brows. “But I thought you didn’t want people to know? So that they wouldn’t look at you differently.”

 

Yoongi nodded, “I did. But when I went hiking with Tae, he said something. That my person wouldn’t care. We were talking about romantic relationships but I think— maybe that applies to friends too.”

 

“I’m not sure,” Jimin admitted, suddenly feeling out of his depth. This is what Taehyung was for, to explain these things to him so he didn’t say the wrong thing, “but if that’s what you want, I’m sure it’s the right thing.”

 

“I don’t know if it’s what I want,” Yoongi said honestly, picking at the blanket anxiously. “I just— I think tonight just proves I can’t be around people who don’t know. Not yet.”

 

“Hyung, that doesn’t mean you have to tell everyone your private business. It’s okay to be wary of people.”

 

“I know. I just— I like them, Jimin. I told Tae this, but it just… they make me feel like I could be fun again. Do you remember when I was fun?”

 

Jimin smiled, even as his heart broke and crashed to the floor. “You’re still fun, hyung.”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “No, I’m not.”

 

“You are! Jungkook loves hanging out with you. He comes here half the time just to be with you or play video games with you. Taehyung keeps telling me what a good time he had on that mountain with you. He said he got some of the best pictures he’s ever taken. He’s been planning another trip and he wants you to come because he had fun. And do you think I ask you to watch movies with me all the time because I’m bored? No, it’s because I love your reactions and commentary. You make rewatching movies I’ve seen a million times fun, hyung. Just because you’re different now doesn’t mean you aren’t fun.”

 

“You don’t have to say that,” Yoongi protested, shifting awkwardly.

 

“I’m not. Do you think Hoseok-hyung laughing at your jokes or asking to hang out again was because you were boring?”

 

“Maybe that was guilt,” Yoongi denied, only to realize that had happened before the panic attack. Before he’d had anything to feel guilty about.

 

“Or maybe they just like you,” Jimin contradicted. “Maybe they like you like you like them.”

 

Yoongi nodded, a small frown still on his lips. “I’d like to hang out with them again.”

 

“Then we will,” Jimin agreed. “Hoseok’s been drunk texting me demanding another dinner and Jin-hyung is complaining that another man has stolen his boyfriend’s heart.”

 

“Really?” Yoongi questioned, a light blush painting his cheeks.

 

“Really,” Jimin confirmed. “In fact, Jin-hyung has demanded to meet the thief himself, so he’ll likely organize the next dinner. If you’re up to it.”

 

“Let me think about it,” Yoongi answered honestly, still unsure how he’d react to a whole new person so soon. That didn’t stop a small flare of excitement from bubbling up though. The idea of people actually wanting to spend time with him something he never thought he’d experience.

 

I can’t invite people over when you’re like this. It’s pitiful. You can barely socialize, it just makes everyone uncomfortable. Why do you think I go to work functions alone? Saves everyone the trouble of pretending you’re interesting or worth their time. You just don’t get what I’m trying to teach you.

 

“Hyung?” Jimin called out, seeing the faraway look in Yoongi’s eyes. “We don’t have to invite Jin-hyung over. I promise he won’t be offended.”

 

“What? No, that’s not...”

 

Jimin hesitated for a second then rubbed the back of his neck. He seemed to struggle with something then turned back to Yoongi. “Where do you go when that happens? It happened earlier in the kitchen too.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened and he leaned back. “What do you mean?”

 

“You space out, hyung. Just fall silent like you can’t see or hear anything. Where do you go?”

 

“I-I-I—” Yoongi stuttered out, staring at Jimin’s earnest and worried face. “I-it depends.”

 

“On?”

 

“M-me. S-sometimes I just s-spiral in my o-own thoughts. Um, l-like getting p-pulled into a whirlpool.”

 

“And other times?” Jimin asked quietly.

 

“Other times i-it’s him. I hear him.”

 

“Oh, hyung,” Jimin breathed out as he leaned forward, resting his forehead on Yoongi’s knees. “I want to kill him, hyung. If that would erase everything he’d done, I would. I swear I would.”

 

“It wouldn’t.”

 

“Doesn’t change the fact I want to. I know it’s wrong, but I just— I don’t want you to hurt anymore, hyung. I just want it to go away.”

 

“It won’t.”

 

“Don’t say that!” Jimin protested, turning his face so he could look at Yoongi head-on. “You’ll get past it.”

 

Yoongi nodded, Taehyung’s voice echoing in his mind. “I will, but that doesn’t mean it will go away. I’ll just learn to deal with it. Like Taehyung does.”

 

Jimin’s eyebrows shot up. “He told you?”

 

“A bit.”

 

“He doesn’t do that. I don’t even know about it.”

 

“Really?” Yoongi asked, surprised. It had seemed like Taehyung had no problem telling Yoongi about his past.

 

“Yea. I know about it vaguely, we all do since he has moments of panic still, but that’s about it. He doesn’t give any real details.”

 

“Oh,” Yoongi muttered. “Well, we’ll both have a new normal.”

 

Jimin sat back up and scanned Yoongi’s face, his mind running a mile a minute. Taehyung was telling Yoongi about his past. Was that for Yoongi or for him? Did it mean something? Was he looking too much into it since he’d already noticed feelings developing? Should he be worried? Could he be worried when talking to Taehyung clearly helped Yoongi get a better handle on things? Was that something to worry about in and of itself? Shaking off those thoughts, Jimin bumped his shoulder into Yoongi’s and smiled. “I think I like this new normal. Especially if it means I get to be with you again.”

 

“Me too,” Yoongi agreed. “Me too.”

Chapter Text

Though the majority of Yoongi’s recent life had been spent in abject silence, it wasn’t until Taehyung returned to work and Jungkook entered midterms that Yoongi realized just how quiet the apartment was when he was utterly alone. Without even realizing it, he’d grown used to the sounds of people around; Taehyung humming or talking to himself as he edited pictures, his eager interrogation of Yoongi’s opinion of his photos; Jungkook’s muttering as he played video games or wide-eyed questions as he followed Yoongi around the kitchen; Jimin playing Just Dance on his days off, then complaining that it took no talent to win such a game when he lost. They were so loud. Lively and energetic and their mere existence filled every nook and cranny. 

 

But they were all gone now, returning to their normal life as they did at the start of every new week. The only difference now was that Yoongi had enjoyed having Taehyung around during his time off. He’d grown accustomed to cleaning up breakfast with Taehyung’s help before they decided what to do that day. Sometimes they’d go out and find places to take pictures, sometimes they’d stay in and do nothing. Regardless of what they did, the soundtrack to their days had been loud. It was silent now. 

 

As Yoongi finished cleaning up breakfast and tidying up the living room, he found himself seated on the couch, unsure what to do. His daily routine had relaxed with company and he didn’t know how to start it up again, or want to really. There was something freeing about not being tied to a detailed routine. Especially one he knew had more to do with Minhyuk than his own desire to be cleanly. The only part of his routine he’d actually liked was the cooking. He’d always loved cooking for people, seeing their faces light up, hearing compliments that made him embarrassed rolling off their tongues. He’d forgotten that. Minhyuk had complimented so rarely that every time he did was like winning the lottery. Since he only ever cooked for Minhyuk, he’d begun to wish for those times, pray for them even. He still wasn’t sure if that was because he wanted the compliment or if he’d simply known those were the days he’d get away without punishment. 

 

There were a lot of things he didn’t know.

 

Like if he really could listen to music again. He wanted to. He missed having something to comfort him. Music had been that; a warm embrace even when it was dark and painful. He’d been thinking about it a lot lately. Even more so after Namjoon had admitted to recognizing him. That panic attack had shown him something new. Something he’d done unconsciously. 

 

It seemed he’d associated his previous life, his freedom, with music. It was something the old Yoongi had. Something the Yoongi who had goals and dreams and drive had. The Yoongi that Minhyuk created didn’t have music. He didn’t have anything. When he’d tried to have it, Minhyuk had taken it away by force. Music became a reminder of the way he was before. What he was like when he was normal. 

 

Taehyung said he could have a new normal. Jimin had agreed. Yoongi wanted that too. He wanted to find a new normal that had friends and a job and hobbies and maybe even a boyfriend who loved him. He just wanted all the things that Jimin and Jungkook had. That Namjoon seemed to have with the still mysterious Seokjin. That Taehyung seemed to be working towards. That Hoseok probably had as well. Why couldn’t he have that?

 

“But you’d have to listen to music first,” Yoongi muttered to himself aloud, his eyes narrowing on the laptop Jimin always left open for him in case he wanted to use it. He hadn’t touched it since the first time he’d pulled up his SoundCloud other than to apply for jobs, but a lot had changed since then so maybe he could now. Maybe. 

 

Yoongi reached out, his fingers trembling at the mere thought of what he was going to do. The second he touched the lid of the laptop, his hand recoiled and his eyes darted around, like he was going to get into trouble for trying. “No, you can do whatever you want now.”

 

Trying again, Yoongi slid closer, his thoughts swirling even as they centred around one cohesive thought: play your music.

 

It took longer than anyone would expect, working up the confidence. It took Yoongi sliding to the ground, his knees pulled up against his chest in protection, with the table sitting mere inches from him, the laptop perched on top. He blinked at the search engine as the cursor flashed, waiting for his instructions. “Come on.”

 

Taking a deep breath, Yoongi brought up SoundCloud and froze, the homepage both familiar and strange at the same time. It had updated over the years, which made sense, technology changed, but the bones were the same. Yoongi scanned the page, taking the names and pictures of people he didn’t recognize nor had he heard of. He was so far out of touch. Every month brought a new amateur artist and he’d been hiding for years. Scrolling to the search bar, Yoongi reached a single hand out, typing in his own name from before with only one finger: Agust D.

 

His mixtape popped up immediately, surprising him. He’d convinced himself the only reason he’d be able to find his music before was because he’d logged into his own account but here it was, for the world to see. The italicized four years ago taunting him. Yoongi’s eyes were drawn to the analytics. The numbers were high. Higher than he’d ever expected. Licking his lips, Yoongi tapped the same song as before, his most popular song that he’d once dubbed his title track despite no video or real promotion existing. It took a second to load, but then brash drums filled the speakers and his own voice followed soon after. His fingers flexed on his legs as he instinctively pulled them closer to his chest as if moving further away would make it hurt less.

 

It didn’t.

 

His own anger and cockiness washed over him. He’d been such an asshole. He remembered the faces of the rappers he’d gone against when he’d rapped this song. The absolute elation he’d felt when he realized that, regardless of whatever the crowd decided, he’d won because he’d elicited the emotion he’d wanted. It was like he’d been a different person. He wasn’t even sure he was capable of that kind of emotion anymore.

 

Without being aware of it, he finished the song and the next one came on. Just like before, it was angry, but spoke more of his former dreams. The things he’d once dared to want for himself. Rather than really listening to the words, Yoongi found himself wondering if he could have dreams again. Goals. He’d started looking for work, sure, but he hadn’t chosen or even looked for something related to his education. He hadn’t even considered it a possibility. But maybe he could. Nothing big, maybe another internship? Could he do that?

 

The sound of his brother’s voice brought him back. It’d been years since he heard it. His brother hadn’t liked Minhyuk, but he’d moved far enough away that it hadn’t mattered. Cutting him off had been easy. Especially with Minhyuk’s guidance. His parents hadn’t been happy but they’d liked Minhyuk so much that they’d been upset enough with his brother for being so negative that they hadn’t pushed reconciliation. Yoongi brought his arms inward, crowding them between his chest and thighs. What would he think now? I told you so. You should have listened, Yoonie. I tried to warn you. Your own fault for ignoring me, look what happened.

 

Are you going to call your hyung, Yoonie? Beg for help? Why would he come? You’re the one who told him to go away. He probably understands what I’m trying to fix now. Probably can’t wait until I’m finished so he’ll have a respectable younger brother. 

 

Where do you go? I could kill him, hyung.

 

Yoongi rubbed his temples, if Jimin wanted to defend him, of course his brother would want to as well. Jimin wasn’t what Minhyuk said he was, his brother wasn’t either. No one was what Minhyuk said they were. Not even you. You’re not what he thinks you are.

 

Startled by his own voice echoing throughout his mind, Yoongi’s hands dropped, his eyes falling back onto the computer screen. He’d moved through several songs now, though he hadn’t heard them. He glanced at the names associated with them. Featuring artists that he’d contacted for help. People from before that he’d considered friends. 

 

Those people can’t be friends, Yoonie. They’re just losers who’ll never go anywhere. You’re better off with me.

 

God, Yoongi felt his chest tighten as a sob ripped through his chest. He’d lost so many people. His brother, Jimin, Suran, Joonmo, everyone he’d met at his label. Not to mention the few friends he’d made at school. Minhyuk had taken that all away from him. Yoongi pressed the heels of his palms to his eyes, his shoulders shaking. He’d thought Minhyuk had only been hurting him physically but it was so much more than that. He’d isolated him. Taken away everything that made Yoongi Yoongi. His friends, his brother, his music, his life

 

No wonder Jimin was always so angry, Yoongi realized in a daze. He remembered assuring Jimin it was okay, that it wouldn’t happen again. Maybe Yoongi could have been right, but the physical abuse had only been part of it. He’d just never realized. This must have been what Taehyung meant when he said he’d find a new normal. It wasn’t about not flinching when people got close, it was about rebuilding everything.

 

Just the thought of that sent a flash of fear throughout Yoongi’s body. How could he rebuild everything? That was so much work. It had taken two decades to build what he’d had before! 

 

You’re already doing it. You have friends now. Music is playing right now and it’s not even yours. 

 

Yoongi opened his eyes, once again allowing his hands to fall, and refocused on the computer. He didn’t recognize the voice or song, but it was kinda nice. A hip-hop beat. The arrangement was odd but in a good way. Something he recognized must have come from the development of sounds in the years he’d been away. It took him a moment, but somewhere in his brain trap echoed. It wasn’t new, he just hadn’t really used it before since it hadn’t been mainstream popular. Guess that changed, Yoongi realized with a jolt, that was pretty quick for someone who can’t do it anymore. Yoongi’s nose scrunched, slightly angry at his own sarcastic inner thoughts. This was one of the rare cases where said voice wasn’t tearing him down though, so he let it go.

 

Hours passed like that. Yoongi didn’t touch the computer, he simply let it play through random music. By the time he became aware of how much time had passed, he was in the pop section, long having left the hip-hop category he’d begun with. Even that was different. So much had changed in the music scene in four years. But at the same time, Yoongi found he recognized the bases, the underlying beats and tones. 

 

Closing the laptop gently, Yoongi turned his head, resting his cheek on his knees and stared out the window. It was bright outside. Fall had turned cold, but the brightness remained. Feeling a surge of confidence, Yoongi pushed himself up and made a beeline for the front door. He grabbed the coat Taehyung always gave him when he went out and slipped on his shoes. Without pausing, he locked the door behind him and took the elevator down. He was going to go to the spot Taehyung had shown him. Enjoy being outside with no commitments. He could do that now. 

 

By the time he reached the sidewalk, a giddy sort of happiness had overwhelmed him. Like a kid with a surprise snow day or an adult sent home early with pay. Yoongi hunched his shoulders against the burst of wind that greeted him as he rounded the corner and shoved his hands in his pocket. As he dodged his way through the crowd, he kept his head down and collar up. 

 

Which was probably why he didn’t notice him until he spoke.

 

“Yoongi.”

 


 

If Hoseok was a perceptive man, which he was, he would have counted Jimin side-eyeing him thirteen different times during the time it took them to go through the choreography they’d created for the group’s new song. By the time they left the group to their own devices while they moved off to the side to watch their progress, the number had reached sixteen. Or would have, if Hoseok was counting. Which he was. The issue was not so much the looks but deciding whether or not he should address them or not. He figured Jimin would bring up whatever was bothering him eventually, but he was also incredibly tired of pretending he wasn’t noticing it. Jimin was not subtle. Like at all. He was sure the idols had noticed as well, if the way they pointedly didn’t look at them was anything to go by anyway. It was distracting. 

 

“Does anyone need more water?” Hoseok asked, raising his empty bottle with a shake. “I’m going to go get some cold water.”

 

“We all could use some,” one of the vocalists agreed quickly, throwing a look at the youngest two members who were looking at their clearly full bottles in confusion.

 

Hoseok nodded. “Sure, Jimin, why don’t you help me carry them?”

 

“What? Me?”

 

“Yup,” Hoseok confirmed before leaving the room without giving Jimin the chance to refuse. Seeing his predicament: either he could ignore Hoseok and raise questions or follow him and have a conversation he wasn’t ready for, Jimin left the studio. He found Hoseok just around the corner in a break room of sorts pulling water bottles out of a small fridge. Hoseok glanced his way but continued to gather bottles without saying anything. 

 

Pulling at his sleeve awkwardly, Jimin cleared his throat. “Wanna tell me why I’m here?”

 

“You gave me eighteen side-eyes in the last hour. Everyone noticed.”

 

“I did not.”

 

“Jimin,” Hoseok said, exasperation clear in his voice. “We were facing a mirror. Literally everyone noticed.”

 

Jimin winced. “Oh.”

 

“So, wanna explain before we go back in?”

 

Crossing his arms defensively, Jimin leaned back on the table set in the corner and pursed his lips. “You accused me of hurting Yoongi-hyung.”

 

“I did,” Hoseok agreed, finally closing the fridge.

 

“I don’t like that.”

 

“Doesn’t really matter,” Hoseok replied with a shrug.

 

“I didn’t press before because I was happy you were standing up for hyung but the more I think about it, the more it hurts me. I can’t believe you thought I’d be capable of something like that.”

 

Hoseok sighed and turned so he was facing Jimin head-on. “What do you think a person who is capable of that looks like? Is this previous guy a huge man? A drunk with clear warning signs on his forehead? Did you see him and immediately know he would do something terrible?”

 

“No,” Jimin frowned. “I didn’t notice until it was too late.”

 

“Yea,” Hoseok said seriously, “because you can’t just tell if someone would do that. I’ve known you for years, Jimin, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a part of you that could lash out like that. So I asked to make sure.”

 

Looking away, Jimin scrunched his face. “It still hurt.”

 

“And I’m sorry for that but I’d ask again.”

 

“Why?” Jimin asked forcefully.

 

“Why?” Hoseok repeated, tilting his head. “Because I didn’t before.”

 

“When before?”

 

Hoseok made a humming noise as he placed the bottles on the table before moving to the cupboard and pulling out a small bag of chips. He opened it slowly then took out a single chip and ate it. Jimin narrowed his eyes, wondering why the hell Hoseok had chosen now to eat, but Hoseok began talking before he could get mad. “In high school. I had this friend, a lovely girl. Bit of a… well, a slut, I guess. Though I don’t like that word. She slept around a lot, made her way around parties, but she was sweet. Nice to everyone. Eventually, she started dating the captain of the soccer team. A friend of mine.”

 

“He hit her?”

 

“No,” Hoseok denied, “he was never physical which is probably why no one ever did anything.”

 

“What did he do then?”

 

“Controlled everything she did. Who she talked to, who she hung out with, what clothes and makeup she wore, everything. They dated for a year and in that time, she wasn’t allowed to cut her hair or wear any makeup at all. We didn’t have uniforms, but she was only allowed to wear baggy sweatpants and t-shirts, anything else was too revealing. She had to call him every night before bed and she wasn’t allowed to go to parties anymore.”

 

“My god,” Jimin gasped out, his eyes wide.

 

“And she was actually praised for doing better. Her grades went up, she stopped drinking and smoking. Her parents loved this guy.”

 

“What did you do?”

 

Hoseok grimaced, his face full of shame and anger. “Nothing. No one did anything. That includes me. Eventually, they broke up and she started doing what she liked again after some time. It was only then we really realized what he’d been doing. Only when she started going back to normal. He started dating a new girl, someone younger, but he didn’t do that to her so people just forgot, waved it away like it was her fault for being too rebellious. I didn’t forget though.”

 

“How can someone just forget something like that?” Jimin hissed, angry for a girl he didn’t even know.

 

“People are great at looking away. You think no one noticed what was happening to Yoongi-hyung? Neighbours? Cashiers? Doctors or nurses? People notice and they don’t ask. So I do. I always will. If that upset you, fine. But I will continue to ask.”

 

Jimin turned away again, clearly conflicted. Like before, he didn’t like the idea of being thought about in that light, even for a second, but on the other hand, he was happy Hoseok cared about people enough to do the hard thing and ask. “I still don’t like it.”

 

“You shouldn’t,” Hoseok agreed. “I wouldn’t.”

 

“I guess,” Jimin said after a minute. “I guess I’ll let it go.”

 

“Very big of you,” Hoseok praised with a slight smirk. “Can we go back to work now?”

 

“Fine.”

 

“Don’t forget half the water bottles,” Hoseok called over his shoulder as he left the room. Jimin frowned at the six left on the table before grabbing them and following after Hoseok. It hit him, as he watched Hoseok interact with the idols and hand out water bottles, laughing and offering advice when asked, that there was so much he didn’t know. To him, abuse or domestic violence was a rarity. Something few people experienced. He was learning now that just wasn’t true. In his small friend group alone three had some type of experience with it. And he supposed, by virtue of knowing both Taehyung and Yoongi, Jimin and Namjoon had experience with it too, even if only tangentially. That thought suddenly made him understand Hoseok’s reaction on a more intimate level. If he had so much experience with it, experience he hadn’t even realized he had, there really was no way to tell other than calling the people responsible out as long as it was safe. 

 

Taking one last moment to observe Hoseok, Jimin made the same promise to himself that Hoseok had made years ago: no one would ever suffer silently like that while he was around. No one.  

 


 

“Yoongi.”

 

Just his name was enough to freeze Yoongi in his tracks. He didn’t turn around, didn’t reply, just froze. After showing up at the apartment, Minhyuk hadn’t appeared again and Yoongi had stupidly thought that was the end of it. How wrong he was. All the happiness and confidence he’d managed to gather while listening to music suddenly fled, leaving him a shaking, hollow version of himself. His only saving grace, the only thing keeping him from beating himself up for being so weak, was that he wasn’t panicking. He wasn’t losing himself like he had last time Minhyuk showed up. He could see the people around him, hear them talking. He was still present.

 

“Yoongi,” Minhyuk said again. “Look at me.”

 

Not wanting to, or perhaps unable to, respond, Yoongi forced himself to move, to keep going. He focused on putting one foot in front of the other, on getting away from Minhyuk as quickly as possible, but Minhyuk had other plans. He felt Minhyuk’s hand wrap around his forearm just about his wrist and pull. Startled, Yoongi spun around, his arm wrenched out of his pocket and stretched out towards Minhyuk. His eyes widened the second they were face to face and he cowered away instinctively. Uncaring, Minhyuk tightened his hold and pulled him again. The force of his fingers pressing down on Yoongi’s bones made him cry out before he could stop himself. The small sound was out of his lips before he knew it and Minhyuk’s eyes flashed angrily. Yoongi was never to make a noise, he wasn’t allowed. Especially not in public. But he had. Fear blazed through Yoongi’s veins, only intensifying when Minhyuk continued to speak softly. Soft always meant something so much worse later. “Yoongi. Enough. Come here.”

 

Don’t listen, don’t listen, don’t listen.

 

“N-no,” Yoongi protested, trying to shake his wrist free.

 

Yoongi,” Minhyuk hissed, his voice turning dangerously low. “You will not embarrass me. Come here.”

 

“P-please let go,” Yoongi insisted, his voice cracking.

 

“Why? I’m not hurting you, we’re just holding hands,” Minhyuk said with a smile, ever conscious of the people walking by and casting them looks. 

 

Yoongi’s wide eyes searched for someone, anyone, who was looking at him, but no one was. No one ever noticed. “L-let me go.”

 

“I’ll let go when you come with me.”

 

“W-what?”

 

“We’re going back to Daegu, Yoongi.”

 

“N-no, I can’t. H-how did you even find me?”

 

“Find you?” Minhyuk repeated. “I asked your parents.”

 

“I-I didn’t tell them.”

 

“No,” Minhyuk agreed, “but they know where Jimin lives so that was easy enough. They’re worried about you, Yoongi. They asked me to help you.”

 

Yoongi began to tremble and hunch over, curling into himself in defence. “N-no.”

 

“You don’t want to worry them, do you?”

 

“N-no,” Yoongi whispered, feeling himself crumble.

 

“Exactly, now let’s go,” Minhyuk said pleasantly, his hand tightening painfully on Yoongi’s arm. “You can call them from the car and let them know you’re safe with me.”

 

“M-my things,” Yoongi protested even as he followed Minhyuk demurely.

 

“I’ll buy you new things when we get home. I always take care of you, don’t I, Yoongi?”

 

Home.

 

This is your home and you shouldn’t feel scared here.

 

Of course this is your home, hyung, this is where your family is.

 

This is your life and your home. You can do what you want.

 

“I am home,” Yoongi whispered.

 

“What?”

 

“I am home,” Yoongi repeated, louder. “I am home. This is my home. I am home.”

 

“Yoongi, enough. Let’s go,” Minhyuk repeated, tugging on Yoongi’s arm harshly. 

 

Feeling the pain flare through his arm, Yoongi dug in his heels. “I am home. Let go. You’re hurting me!”

 

“Yoon—!”

 

“Son, I think he asked you to let go,” an older voice cut in, “so let go.”

 

Minhyuk scowled. “He’s just a being a bit moody, he gets like this.”

 

The old man nodded. “Even then, let go.”

 

“I won’t go with you, Minhyuk, let go,” Yoongi insisted, bolstered by the old man just by his shoulder. 

 

“Oppa, I think you should let go,” another voice joined in, this one belonging to a younger woman who was looking between them worriedly.

 

Minhyuk turned to her, his fingers flexing painfully until Yoongi hissed. There was a small gathering now. Only four or fine, but enough that Minhyuk finally dropped Yoongi’s arm. Immediately, Yoongi cradled his arm to his chest, his lips trembling.

 

“We’ll talk about this later.”

 

“That sounds like a threat, son, you should go,” the older man said firmly, anger starting to find its way into his voice. Minhyuk made a tsk sound before storming away, clearly unhappy with the turn of events. They all watched him go silently, before the woman and older man turned back to Yoongi. “Do you need help?”

 

“N-no, I—” Yoongi broke off, wincing at the pain in his arm. “I just need to go home.”

 

“Not where he is, I hope.”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “Not anymore.”

 

“I see,” the man said seriously, then nodded. “Well let’s go then.”

 

“I can—”

 

“Which way?”

 

Realizing he wasn’t going to be able to argue with this formidable old man, Yoongi nodded in the direction of the apartment. “That way.”

 

“Alright, let’s go,” he said easily, falling into step beside Yoongi. The woman who’d been silent since telling Minhyuk to leave coming as well. Yoongi couldn't help but notice the way they flanked him, as if offering silent protection.

 

Since he hadn’t gotten that far, the walk was brief. Once they reached the door, Yoongi turned to them and bowed deeply. “I can’t tell you how thankful I am.”

 

The old man sniffed. “No need to be thankful. Absolutely shameful how many people walked past you. But can I offer some advice?”

 

Yoongi’s eyes darted up and he nodded, still in his bow. The old man sighed. “Men like that don’t just give up. Be careful.”

 

“I will.”

 

“I’m sure you will,” the old man agreed after a moment before leaving Yoongi behind without a further word.

 

The woman watched him go then turned back to Yoongi. “He was scary, please be careful, oppa.”

 

“Thank you for stopping,” Yoongi said instead of reiterating himself.

 

The woman nodded, a slight frown on her face. “I work at the coffee shop just there. If I see him again, I’m calling the police.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened, only then realizing the girl, who now that he was looking was no older than a high schooler and clearly wearing a work uniform, and spoke hurriedly. “You don’t have to—”

 

“Police,” the woman said firmly, “I’m calling them.”

 

“Okay,” Yoongi relented, surprised by the firm set of her shoulders and chin. “Thank you.”

 

“No problem,” she said with a shrug. “It’s what needs to be done. See ya, oppa. I gotta go back to work.”

 

“Thank you again,” Yoongi told her, making sure to watch until he saw her enter the shop she clearly worked at. Only then did Yoongi enter the apartment building and head to the apartment. To his apartment. To his home.

 


 

Humming as he rode the elevator up to his floor, Taehyung felt light as a feather. He’d handed in his portfolio to his boss for the nature magazine and it was now all up to the art director. He was nervous but it was a fuzzy feeling, like excitement. He couldn’t wait to get home and tell Yoongi. With that thought in mind, Taehyung practically ran to the apartment and burst through the door with less grace than he usually did. Following the sound of cooking, Taehyung went straight to the kitchen. He found Yoongi where he’d expected, cutting vegetables at the counter with a bowl of batter beside him. He was wearing another one of his large sweaters with the only apron they owned wrapped around his waist. Taehyung wondered if they should buy a new one briefly before moving closer, noticing he was cutting fruit rather than vegetables and leaned forward to sniff them. “Fruit?”

 

“Oh, I was thinking of doing American pancakes for dinner,” Yoongi explained. “Plus we had some fruit that was going to go bad. I don't know why you guys buy it if you won’t eat it.”

 

“Because we believe we’ll eat better than we do,” Taehyung explained, smiling wryly. “So far not so good.”

 

Yoongi snorted and shook his head. “I’m going to start sneaking veggies and fruits into everything at this rate.”

 

“I bet it’ll be delicious when you do it,” Taehyung said, his smile turning cheeky.

 

“Uh-huh,” Yoongi replied, his eyes finally lifting to Taehyung’s. “What’s got you in such a good mood?”

 

“I handed in my portfolio today.”

 

“Oh?! Already? Did you hear back!”

 

“No,” Taehyung denied, waving his hands. “That’s too fast. I’m just excited for the chance, you know?”

 

“I do,” Yoongi confirmed, smiling at Taehyung. “I’m proud of you.”

 

“Thank you, Yoongi,” Taehyung said sincerely before grabbing a beer from the fridge. “Can you pass me a glass?”

 

“Sure,” Yoongi agreed, already reaching into the cupboard to grab a glass. The movement caused the sleeves of the sweater he was wearing to fall down. Taehyung had a moment to wonder why Yoongi wouldn’t roll them up as he always did before he saw a bandage wrapped around Yoongi’s arm. 

 

The second it happened, Yoongi was quick to pull it back up, but not before Taehyung noticed. “What happened to your arm?”

 

Yoongi paused for too long, not having come up with a believable excuse. “I cut it?”

 

Taehyung blinked, hearing the question in Yoongi’s answer and watching the way his eyes moved around the room, panic clear in them and his demeanour. “Why are you lying?”

 

“I’m not,” Yoongi denied, trying his best to smile Taehyung’s way. That was a mistake, because the second he saw Taehyung’s face, his mask cracked and his eyebrows snapped together. “I-I-I went out today.”

 

“You went out,” Taehyung repeated, not understanding why that would mean he had a bandage on his arm. “That’s fine? Why would that— no.”

 

“It’s fine,” Yoongi rushed to assure, but Taehyung wasn’t listening, his hands were already on Yoongi’s arm, frantically unwrapping the bandage. The second most of it was off, Taehyung’s fingers began to tremble. He touched Yoongi’s skin lightly, trailing the large imprint of a hand on Yoongi’s arm that already threatened to turn purple. Yoongi tried to pull his arm back. “It’s okay, Tae. I swear.”

 

“He hurt you again,” Taehyung whispered. “I promised that would never happen again.”

 

“It’s not your fault,” Yoongi protested, “and I made him go away.”

 

“He hurt you,” Taehyung emphasized, his eyes fixed on Yoongi’s arm.

 

“And this is nothing because I told him I was home, Tae. Me, I told him that. To his face. Loud. I yelled it. People heard and came to help,” Yoongi rushed out, his words turning frantic as he tried to explain. “I told him I was home. I had a home. Me.”

 

Taehyung grabbed the back of Yoongi's head and pulled him into his chest. “Oh, Yoongi.”

 

As the last of the bandage finally fell off Yoongi's arm and hit the ground, Yoongi clutched at Taehyung’s shirt, his face pressed against his chest as tears overwhelmed him. For the first time, they were happy tears and his lips were smiling, “I’m home. I told him.”

 

“Yes, you are,” Taehyung agreed, his fingers cradling Yoongi’s head gently and his other hand rubbing his back, “and I’m so proud of you.”

 

“I’m proud of me,” Yoongi admitted, the words slightly broken and slurred as he was still crying. “My new normal.”

 

Taehyung smiled, even if a weight in his chest threatened to crush him as he was overwhelmed with a clash of feelings. He wasn’t sure what they were but as Yoongi pulled away and smiled up at him, his gums flashing even as tears glistened on his cheeks and eyelashes, Taehyung was sure of one thing: no matter what those feelings were, they centred on Yoongi and he really needed to think about that.

Chapter Text

Jungkook awoke with a start, the pages of his textbook stuck to his face and the mother of all pains in his lower back from hours spent bent over his coffee table. Midterms made him want to crawl under his bed and hibernate, but he knew he had to knock them out of the park otherwise he’d never get to do the things he actually liked doing. Didn’t mean he enjoyed it though.

 

Looking around in a sort of daze, Jungkook tried to identify what had woken him up. His answer came a few minutes later when he heard a weak knock at his door. Slightly thrown off since literally no one ever visited him at his place, Jungkook shuffled to the door and threw it open without bothering to check who it was. Thankfully, it turned out to only be Jimin, otherwise, he might have had to re-evaluate how blasé he was about opening his door to strangers. As he rubbed his tired eyes, Jungkook frowned a bit. “Hyung? What are you doing here?”

 

“I need to come in, is that okay?”

 

“Of course, hyung,” Jungkook agreed, immediately stepping back and letting Jimin in. Though they didn’t frequent Jungkook’s apartment since Jimin’s was nicer, he had been there before so Jimin knew his way around. Plopping down on the couch, Jimin eyed his textbooks before glancing toward Jungkook in question, which Jungkook answered without further prompting. “The last one is tomorrow. Thank god.”

 

“Are you ready?” Jimin asked.

 

Jungkook narrowed his eyes but nodded. He knew Jimin was avoiding something here. Something he wasn’t quite ready to talk about, so he did his best to cooperate. “I am. You know me.”

 

“That I do,” Jimin agreed easily, sliding further into the couch. Jungkook climbed next to him, curling his legs up and dropping his head onto Jimin’s shoulder. Immediately, Jimin tilted his head so it rested atop Jungkook’s, but still, he remained silent. They remained like that for so long, Jungkook felt his eyes drooping again, the sleep he’d missed from the previous week catching up. Luckily, Jimin seemed to settle on talking it out because he sighed. “Something happened today.”

 

“Oh?” Jungkook asked easily, not really concerned. At least not until he noticed the way Jimin’s hands were flexing on his thighs, opening and closing as if he had no control over it. “What happened?”

 

“Minhyuk approached Yoongi-hyung when he went outside.”

 

Jolting away from Jimin so quickly he toppled over as his legs were still tucked under his butt, Jungkook gasped. “Is he okay? Where is he? Do we have to go to Daegu? When’s the next train!? No, we can drive. It’s faster!”

 

“He’s fine,” Jimin assured, falling in love with Jungkook even more as he saw the fierce determination on his face. If Yoongi had left, Jimin had no doubt Jungkook already be out the door, midterms be damned. Jimin’s eyebrows furrowed a bit before he continued rapidly. “He’s back at the apartment with Taehyung. He didn’t go with him.”

 

Deflating, Jungkook collapsed against the arm of his couch, his hand rubbing his face in a combination of relief and anger. “What did he want then?”

 

“To take him back, as he always does. Hyung managed to send him away but not before—” Jimin halted abruptly, the real reason for his escape to Jungkook’s on the tip of his tongue. Jungkook looked at him, his expression worried, which forced Jimin to continue. “Not before he left a fucking handprint on his fucking arm.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes turned flat, a rolling anger Jimin had never seen coming off him. “He did what?”

 

“He grabbed his arm apparently, to try and make him go back. When hyung refused, he made it hurt. He’s wrapped it up so no one would see but we both saw it immediately.”

 

“Why are you here and not with Yoongi-hyung? He needs support right now!” Jungkook snapped, already leaping to his feet, intent on going to see Yoongi himself.



“I can’t.”

 

“You what?” Jungkook repeated, looking at Jimin like he’d grown another head.

 

“I said I can’t, Kook. I just—” Jimin hesitated, unsure how to explain. “I’m so angry, Kook. I don’t think I’ve ever been this angry. More so than when I saw him lying in a hospital bed telling me it would be okay. He was supposed to be safe here and he took that! He hurt him and we were just not there. We banned him from the building but that wasn't enough! I just— I’m going to flip out, Kook.”

 

Jungkook frowned in confusion. “You should be angry. I’m angry. That bastard showed up and hurt our friend. And you bet your ass he waited until hyung was alone. He leaves the house all the time with one of us but he never stopped him. Not until he was alone. He’s a fucking coward and I’m angry too!”

 

“That’s the point, Kook!” Jimin yelled, surging to his feet. “We can’t be fucking angry. We can’t. Can you imagine what that would do to hyung? He needs a safe space and I can’t be fucking rampaging in it!”

 

“I—” Jungkook broke off, realizing what Jimin meant. For Yoongi, anger was associated with violence. It didn’t matter that Jimin meant no harm, it was an instinctive trigger. Just like when Jungkook had grabbed his arm to get him to slow down. No harm intended, but Yoongi had been conditioned to expect otherwise. Now Jungkook had a visceral example of why. Taking a breath, Jungkook admitted. “I never thought about it like that.”

 

“Well I have! Tae has too. He told me to leave if I was going to snap, so I did. He knows better than anyone.”

 

Jungkook nodded but found himself hesitating. “Eventually, hyung is going to be around angry people. It’s just going to happen. He’s going to have to deal with it.”

 

“I know,” Jimin agreed, dropping back down onto the couch like all his fight was suddenly drained out, “but not when Minhyuk has just hurt him. Not when there’s a chance he’ll feel responsible. Not like that.”

 

“We can’t control everything,” Jungkook whispered as he retook his seat curled up into Jimin’s side.

 

“I know that too,” Jimin admitted, “but we can try. At least for now.”

 

“Yea,” Jungkook replied, his mind already coming up with when he’d stop by and visit Yoongi tomorrow. He trusted Jimin’s assessment, but he was driven by a need to see Yoongi for himself. To confirm he was alright and safe and okay. But seeing how shaken Jimin was, both by Minhyuk’s reappearance and his own reaction to it, Jungkook snuggled closer and decided, for now, he’d focus on Jimin. Because he needed it too.

 

“I’m sorry for snapping at you,” Jimin whispered after some minutes of silence.

 

Jungkook huffed, burning his nose in Jimin’s clavicle. “It’s okay. I know you’re not angry at me.”

 

“Doesn’t make it right,” Jimin emphasized, “so I’m apologizing.”

 

“Then I accept your apology,” Jungkook said. He didn’t think Jimin needed to apologize. He knew Jimin was just upset about the situation and frustrated, so he’d gotten angry as he explained it. But he also understood that, by taking his anger out on Jungkook even a little bit, Jimin was associating himself with Minhyuk, seeing himself as the person who made their significant other fear their anger. Jungkook wondered if he should ask Jimin about it, make sure he understood they were different things, but before he could, Jimin changed the subject entirely.

 

“How does it feel to be graduating so soon?”

 

Blinking at the abrupt shift, Jungkook turned so he could see Jimin’s face. “Weird honestly, but I still have an entire semester to get used to it, so we’ll see how I feel at the end of the year.”

 

Jimin nodded. “have you decided what you’re going to do?”

 

“Hmmm, not really. Probably an internship or something. Seems like that makes the most sense job experience-wise.”

 

“Have you asked Tae? I’m sure he’d know someone. Or Jin-hyung for that matter.”

 

“No,” Jungkook admitted, shifting awkwardly. “I kinda want to do it without help, you know?”

 

“Nothing wrong with that,” Jimin agreed, “but there’s nothing wrong with getting help either. Hoseokie-hyung helped me after all.”

 

“I know. I still want to try,” Jungkook said firmly. Jimin glanced down, seeing the stubborn set of Jungkook’s lips, and smiled. He had no doubt Jungkook would make his mark somewhere and loudly. That was just the type of person he was. Jimin could only hope that he’d be blessed enough to see it first hand.

 


 

Finding himself in a bit of an awkward situation, Yoongi paced outside Taehyung’s bedroom door. He’d never actually gone inside. He’d never even seen inside. But suddenly the apartment had been quiet and empty and Yoongi was at a loss. He knew Jimin had gone to Jungkook’s and he felt bad about it. He wasn’t so dense as to miss the look of pure rage on Jimin’s face when he’d seen the bandages. Perhaps if he hadn’t known Jimin as long as he had, that look would have scared him, but as it stood, he knew it came from a place of care, so it didn’t. That being said, he was self-aware enough to know that how he’d react to yelling or more overt signs of anger was a toss-up at best, so he was thankful Jimin had left when he had. Which just served to make him feel even worse because he’d forced Jimin to leave his own home. 

 

Not you. Minhyuk! You didn’t do anything! He did!

 

And now Taehyung had even retreated to his bedroom. Yoongi felt like he was scaring the people closest to him away simply by existing. He’s spent much of his time after dinner contemplating just that thought and when he’d realized he was going nowhere but down, he’d decided to seek out Taehyung. Which is how he found himself pacing outside his bedroom like a creep-show.

 

Just go, Min Yoongi! Do it!

 

“T-tae?” Yoongi called as he knocked on the door tentatively.

 

“Come in.”

 

Hunching his shoulders instinctively, Yoongi peeked inside, only opening the door enough so the top of his head could make it through. He didn’t want to invade Taehyung’s personal space after all. “Um, hey.”

 

“You can come in more, you know?” Taehyung told him, rolling over in his bed with a light laugh.

 

“Oh, well, I wouldn’t want to intrude—”

 

“Yoongi, come on in. Seriously, it’s fine.”

 

Nodding slowly, Yoongi stepped inside but remained near the door. He wasn’t sure if he was imagining it but he felt like the air was weird. It made him uncomfortable, so he crossed his arms and shoved his hands inside his sleeves. Taehyung quirked a brow, “what’s up?”



“I was just wondering if we were doing anything tonight? Um, Jimin is gone, so…” Yoongi trailed off, his eyes darting around the room. 

 

“I’m kinda tired,” Taehyung admitted, his eyes shining in clear apology.

 

Yoongi’s eyes popped open as he took a step back. “Oh! I’m sorry. I’ll let you rest.”

 

“That’s not what I meant,” Taehyung countered, shaking his head as much as he was able given the way he rested on his folded arms and pillow. “I just don’t feel up to doing stuff. I kinda just want to lay here and do nothing, you know?”

 

“Um, sure,” Yoongi agreed, though his tone was clearly uncertain. He didn’t think there was a time in recent memory where he hadn’t been doing something. “Good night.”

 

“Why don’t you join me?” Taehyung offered instead, waving a lethargic hand in Yoongi’s direction.

 

“O-on your bed?”

“I mean, you can lay on the floor if you want.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes darted to the floor then back to Taehyung’s bed. It was a queen, so they could both fit easily. The thought of being in the same bed as Taehyung made him pause, but he quickly shook it off, telling himself that he’d been closer to Taehyung on the couch and Jimin came to his bed all the time. “Um, sure.”

 

Suddenly bouncing up, Taehyung smiled widely before rolling off to the side. He wiggled until the blankets were situated around him then let his limbs flop down with a sigh. Now mostly upside down, his body facing across the bed rather than up and down, Taehyung scrunched his nose. “Come on!”

 

“O-okay,” Yoongi muttered, slowly crossing the room before crawling onto the bed and mimicking Taehyung’s position. Once he’d settled, Taehyung tossed him another blanket before bringing his own up to his chin, so he was completely nestled inside. 

 

Taehyung didn’t say anything and neither did Yoongi. Instead, they just hung out in complete silence, only the sound of their breathing and the odd squeak of springs breaking it. At first, Yoongi felt itchy at the thought of not doing anything but as he relaxed, he stopped fixating on what he should be doing and let himself enjoy the break. Taehyung seemed to notice the second he’d truly relaxed because he rolled to his side and curled into the fetal position, eyes on Yoongi’s profile. “You know, you have the cutest little nose.”

 

“W-what?” Yoongi gasped out, caught completely off guard.

 

Taehyung smiled slightly. “Your nose. It’s small and upturned and cute. Like a button.”

 

Unconsciously, Yoongi scrunched said nose as he turned just his head so he could see Taehyung. “Thank you?”

 

“You’re welcome,” Taehyung said sincerely.

 

“You’re probably one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met,” Yoongi admitted, refocusing on the ceiling as he spoke. “All of you are. It’s kinda unreal. I can only imagine what this ‘Jin-hyung’ looks like.”

 

“He used to call himself Worldwide Handsome, so there’s that.”

 

Yoongi snorted. “Of course.”

 

“So like, where do I measure up?” Taehyung asked teasingly.

 

Taking the question seriously, Yoongi shook his head. “You’re all different types of pretty, you can’t compare.”

 

“You are too,” Taehyung told him, sensing that Yoongi was talking about their group like he wasn't actually a part of it. Like an outsider looking in.

 

“I don’t know about that,” Yoongi denied before rolling onto his stomach and resting his chin on his forearms, “I know I’m attractive, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t think I fit in with the likes of you people. You’re definitely all entertainment industry levels of pretty.”

 

“Where is this coming from?” Taehyung wondered, suddenly serious.

 

Yoongi’s eyes slid to Taehyung then refocused on the room itself. He took in the pictures littering the walls, noting with some surprise he was in a few of them, along with all the memorabilia from places Taehyung had gone and things he’d done. It was an intensely personal room. It radiated Taehyung in a way that Yoongi’s current bedroom nor his one with Minhyuk ever had. He hadn’t had a presence in that room. Minhyuk had decorated it and the rest of the apartment so very little of Yoongi could be found there at all. 

 

Realizing he’d probably let the silence linger too long, Yoongi returned his gaze to Taehyung, who was watching him silently. Looking away again, Yoongi shrugged. “I don’t know. Nowhere really. It’s just an observation.”

 

Sighing a bit, Taehyung looked away. “I think if we’re all different types of beautiful, that includes you too.”

 

“Maybe,” Yoongi allowed, never one to disagree outright. 

 

“So stubborn,” Taehyung teased, his eyes slipping closed. He was more relaxed than he’d been since he got home. First seeing the wound then hearing the story, only to go through it again when Jimin got home, which had managed to hurt even worse when he’d finally registered the guilt on Yoongi’s face, had made him tense. He had a feeling he wasn‘t getting the entire story of what happened, but he also knew better than to try and make Yoongi tell him something.

 

“Maybe,” Yoongi repeated, this time throwing Taehyung a teasing look. 

 

Taehyung smiled, his eyes still closed and shook his head. “I know you don’t think so, but you’re already so different from when you first arrived. I want you to know that.”

 

“Didn’t stop your friends from noticing it,” Yoongi whispered, his head turned so he could watch Taehyung’s profile as he spoke.

 

“Maybe that’s true,” Taehyung allowed, “but just because people could tell doesn’t mean you haven’t improved. Improvement isn’t an all-or-nothing process. It takes time. You’ve only been here, what two months? Almost three? That’s amazing, Yoongi.”

 

“It’s you guys,” Yoongi said simply.

 

“It’s not,” Taehyung disagreed. “We help, sure, but it’s you. You’re the one making the choice to move forward. Don’t sell yourself short.”

 

Yoongi pursed his lips and turned away, catching sight of an old school camera in the corner of Taehyung’s room. Something that needed to be wound to work. He stared at it, wondering why Taehyung would have something like that when he clearly had access to the best cameras money could buy. It confused him so much that he stared at it for longer than he anticipated. Taehyung finally opened his eyes and followed Yoongi’s line of sight. Seeing his focus, Taehyung explained. “It’s the oldest camera I could find.”

 

“But why?” Yoongi wondered, “it must be near impossible to develop the photos.”

 

“Some places still have spaces for it. Thankfully I have the money to find them,” Taehyung added.

“Why bother?”

 

Now rolling over to mimic Yoongi’s position, Taehyung tilted his head as he thought about it. He knew why he liked it, of course, the issue was explaining it clearly. “I guess the easiest way to explain it is I like how it looks. The photos aren’t crisp or even really clear but they’re kinda… raw? I guess. I think they capture a different element. Plus the first camera I ever got was this absolutely terrible thing that I’m not even sure what company made it or if it even exists anymore and that model there has a similar look.”

 

“Who bought it?” Yoongi wondered.

 

“My grandparents,” Taehyung answered, before shrugging. “My therapist said I needed an outlet. Something that was mine no matter where I was. I picked photography pretty much on a whim because I remembered having one of those disposable waterproof cameras when I was really little.”

 

Yoongi’s eyebrows shot up. “And look where you are now.”

 

“Right? Sometimes I think about that. What if I had said paints instead? Or yarn for knitting? Where would I be? Would I have met the same people? Lived the same life?”

 

“Probably not,” Yoongi admitted, “but you’d have met different people that were just as good.”

 

“I like to think so,” Taehyung agreed.

 

Returning his gaze to the camera, Yoongi pushed himself up so he was resting on his hand rather than his forearm. The movement caused his sleeve to slip again and Taehyung found himself staring at the bandage. It made his stomach drop, an echoing sort of pain hollowing him out. He couldn’t imagine how scared Yoongi had been. He’d always been afraid of that happening to him when he’d started living with his grandparents. Of his dad suddenly showing up and taking him back. It never happened, death was pretty damn final, but the thought had scared him. That was perhaps why he’d retreated to his room. Those old and new fears colliding until he was exhausted. He felt better now though, with Yoongi beside him talking casually. It helped remind him that things were different, even if danger lurked. 

 

“I had something similar, I guess,” Yoongi finally said, his eyes darting to Taehyung then away.

 

“Oh?”

 

“I’m assuming Jimin told you we didn’t grow up in the nicest neighbourhood?” Yoongi asked, glancing at Taehyung. When he nodded, Yoongi continued. “We had a good community going, but money was tight. I was like ten or eleven when I decided music was it for me. My parents were… less than thrilled, but they let me do my thing as long as it kept me out of gangs and they didn’t have to put money into it. I got a part-time job cleaning up around town for cash when I was like thirteen. No one had a lot so it took forever, but eventually, I saved up for this absolute piece of shit MIDI keyboard. And I mean trash, it was so bad. But I was proud of it. That I bought it myself. Even when I went away to school and got better ones I still had it. It was in my studio in Daegu too.”

 

“Where is it now?” Taehyung asked, soaking up even the smallest part of history Yoongi had shared with him.

 

“Some dump, I’m sure. I had to leave it behind when I quit otherwise he would have trashed it,” Yoongi admitted, referring to Minhyuk as his eyes looked far away. “No reason to keep it in a state of the art studio other than sentimentality.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung said sincerely.

 

“Doesn’t really matter,” Yoongi assured with a shrug. “I haven’t even thought about it for years.”

 

“I’m still sorry,” Taehyung repeated. “you never should have had to make that choice.”

 

Yoongi smiled a bit, even if the look was sad. “I know.”

 

“We should go out and buy you another one,” Taehyung decided fairly abruptly, not bothering to think his thoughts through, “but like, still a trash one. Maybe even missing a key, just to keep it authentic.”

 

Despite himself, Yoongi laughed. The sound rushing out without warning. He slapped a hand to his face seconds before the laugh turned to a giggle. “Why stop at one? Maybe missing two keys.”

 

“Exactly. Keep the memory alive,” Taehyung agreed, laughing alongside Yoongi now. It was ridiculous, but as Yoongi laughed, his eyes nearly disappearing and his shoulders shaking, Taehyung couldn’t help but feel a warmth spread. It hadn’t been that long ago when Yoongi never laughed. When hearing it once had been a blessing. Now he laughed all the time. It was a sound that carried through the apartment easily and without surprise. Taehyung loved that. Loved that Yoongi had managed to regain that feeling.

 

Eventually though, the laughter died down and Yoongi resettled onto his back with a sigh. “You know, I did something else today. Before I went out and everything was ruined.”

 

“You did?” Taehyung asked tentatively.

 

“I listened to my music,” Yoongi admitted. “My entire mixtape.”

 

Yoongi.”

 

“Then I listened to other, newer music for a few hours.”

 

“Yoongi,” Taehyung said again, rolling so he could throw an arm over Yoongi’s chest and bury his nose into Yoongi’s shoulder. “I don’t even know what to say.”

 

“Me neither,” Yoongi admitted. “It hurt a lot. Like so much. But it was good. I think-I think it was good.”

 

“It’s so good,” Taehyung agreed.

 

“Ugh,” Yoongi whined, rubbing his face and the tears that had managed to appear there without his permission. “Why does this keep happening?”

 

Taehyung smiled, his own tears at the thought of Yoongi finally listening to his music again nearly overwhelming him. “You gotta wash out all the bullshit.”

 

Yoongi snorted before whipping away what remained of the dampness on his face and rolling to the side so he and Taehyung were nearly nose to nose. “Can’t wait for that to be over.”

 

Refusing to jolt back from Yoongi’s sudden closeness, Taehyung simply smiled even more brightly. “You’ll get there, I promise.”

 

“I trust you,” Yoongi agreed easily, his eyes slipping closed as Taehyung watched. “One day.”

 

“One day soon,” Taehyung agreed softly even as he was sure Yoongi fell asleep, like the thought of talking about what he’d accomplished that day was the only thing keeping him awake. Taehyung continued to watch him for a few minutes more then rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling, his thoughts a jumble with one clear underlying theme. “Fuck.”

 


 

In a large office somewhere in the heart of Seoul, an elegant man crossed his legs and leaned on his hand, his full lips twitching and turning downward as his employee tried to convince him that his major fuck-up was not, in fact, his fault but someone else’s further down the line.

 

“So, you’re telling me that you’re subordinate made the mistake, not you?”

 

The employee gulped and nodded. “Exactly.”

 

“Right,” the man said firmly. “Then what would you have me do to them?”

 

“What, sir?”

 

“What would you have me do? Your subordinate purchased subpar material and now the company must repurchase better material and start the project from scratch. That means delays and more money spent. What should I do about that?”

 

“I-I think they should be fired.”

 

The elegant man’s eyes flashed before uncrossed his legs and reached across his desk to the intercom. “Please call security.”

 

“S-sir?”

 

“I can overlook a certain amount of idiocy, but I will not allow someone in a position of power to throw their own men under the bus. Not in my company. You’re fired. Security will escort you out.”

 

“But I—” the man tried to protest, but seeing the two guards already poised at the open door, his shoulders fell and he slunk out of the room.

 

As he walked out, another man slipped in, a wide smile on his dimpled face. “It’s so hot when you go all boss mode.”

 

“Joon,” the man breathed, his displeasure melting away into a look of surprise and happiness. “You’re here.”

 

“I am,” Namjoon confirmed, rounding the desk like he had thousands of times before and placing a chaste kiss on his boyfriend’s lips. “Work going okay, Jin?”

 

“Hmmm,” Kim Seokjin, CEO of Bangtan Construction smiled. “It is now.”

 

“I do make things better,” Namjoon agreed, his shoulder lifting cockily.

 

Seokjin scrunched his nose. “What brings you here during the day? We didn’t have plans, did we?”

 

“No, nothing like that. I had some time for lunch and I thought I’d come to see you,” Namjoon explained, taking a seat on the edge of Seokjin’s desk and crossing his arms. “I missed you.”

 

“You saw me this morning,” Seokjin reminded him, even as his smile softened.

 

“I did, but I do anyway.”

 

Pushing himself up, Seokjin stepped between Namjoon’s legs and dropped his arms atop his shoulders. “That’s a nice thought. I never did get this room soundproofed though, so if you have plans, they will, unfortunately, have to wait.”

 

“Get your mind out of the gutter,” Namjoon said with a snort, rolling his eyes. “I actually came because I wanted your opinion on something.”

 

Seokjin raised an eyebrow and leaned back. He scanned his boyfriend’s face, recognizing the hesitation and worry there like it was his own face, and sighed. “This is about the infamous Min Yoongi.”

 

“It is,” Namjoon admitted, his lips turned down in the corner. “I don’t know what to do.”

 

Retaking his seat, Seokjin looked up at Namjoon and shook his head. “It’s not your place to do anything. You’ve met him once.”

 

“I know. I know that. But I—” Namjoon broke off, unsure how to explain. “When you meet him you’ll get it. He’s just the nicest person, you know? Clearly puts others first.”

 

“There are plenty of nice people, Joon.”

 

“Yes, I know. But I just care okay? Hoseok does too. More so than me because he picked up signs I missed.”

 

“Signs?” Seokjin repeated, tilting his head. He’d heard the basics from Namjoon, that Yoongi had had a panic attack and Jungkook had explained that he was trying to get better, but that was pretty much all. He had theories, of course, but since they hadn’t met he couldn’t confirm them.

 

Namjoon’s frown deepened and he nodded. “Yea, I guess he flinches when people get close or when things are too loud? And he was worried we’d be upset at the choice of dinner he made. Stuff like that. Hoseok thinks he was abused.”

 

Seokjin nodded. “That would make sense. Especially given the way Jimin is protecting him and controlling who he meets and when.”

 

“Yea,” Namjoon agreed, “plus Hoseok said Jimin all but admitted it.”

 

“How?”

 

“He said the person responsible is still a threat.”

 

“That complicates things. Is he hiding?”

 

“Seems so. I don’t know the details.”

 

Seokjin frowned, tapping his finger on his desk. He didn’t know this man, but pretty much all his friends did and that made him curious. He’d heard of him from Jimin in passing, of course, but nothing really specific. He’d assumed they’d had a falling out of sorts. But now he was back and seemingly in trouble. That made him cautious. It wasn’t every day every single person he called friend was unabashedly gushing about one single person and willing to defend him so quickly. “I could make it go away.”

 

“Jimin says no, not until that’s what he chooses.”

 

“Interesting,” Seokjin observed. “I really do need to meet this man.”

 

“You’ll like him,” Namjoon said confidently. “I have no doubt.”

 

“We’ll see.”

 

“But that’s not why I’m here either. It’s related though.”

 

“Okay, shoot.”

 

“You know that rapper I like? The underground one who stopped making music?”

 

“Honey, you’re going to need to be more specific,” Seokjin said, his eyes shining as he looked at Namjoon endearingly. “You like a lot of rappers.”

 

Namjoon snorted. “True. I meant Agust D.”

 

Seokjin pursed his lips as he thought, trying to recall that artist specifically. He had a vague recollection. He’d only just started dating Namjoon then, so they’d been talking about all their interests and Seokjin could remember the name. As he thought about it, Seokjin could also remember Namjoon wanted to go to Daegu to see the man live, but never got the chance. “Vaguely. I remember you wanted to see him live.”

 

“Yea, well, Yoongi-hyung is him. Surprise,” Namjoon said, waving his fingers in a weak attempt at jazz hands. “Looks like he stopped due to some external pressure."

 

“What makes you think that?”

 

“Because I triggered his panic attack by mentioning his music,” Namjoon admitted, shame settling in his stomach. He hadn’t told Seokjin that part. He’d glossed over it, not wanting to talk about what he’d done after it was over. Chancing a look at Seokjin, he saw surprise there but not judgement. It eased the tension in his shoulders. “He never confirmed it, but I looked into his work history and it looked like he quit a few years ago just after they offered him a full-time position as a producer. His former internship PD had opinions on that.”

 

“You looked into him?” Seokjin asked, his eyebrows shooting up. “I’m so proud.”

 

Namjoon smiled. “You’ve taught me well.”

 

“Can’t say well since that’s a massive invasion of privacy, but you know, sure.”

 

“I know,” Namjoon admitted, one side of his nose twitching upward as he grimaced, “but I needed to know what happened and I have the connections to do so now. I wasn’t going to mention it again but then I had that meeting today…”

 

“Joon, you’re going to need to be more specific,” Seokjin said on a sigh. He wasn’t irritated that Namjoon was talking around the topic he actually wanted to address. He was used to it. Namjoon did it every single time he was stressed or overthinking. But Seokjin also knew he’d have to guide Namjoon there. “I don’t memorize your meeting schedule.”

 

“We had a resource meeting today. Boring stuff. Who gets what money for what album, wardrobe, or set; how much studio time needs to be spent between music and dance. Bullshit like that. Hoseok was there too, which was how I found out more about Yoongi-hyung’s past. Or at least what we think we know.”

 

“Okay…”

 

“And they said they’re hiring a few interns and an assistant.”

 

Suddenly the reason Namjoon was here hit Seokjin like a train. “You want to give him an internship.”

 

“No,” Namjoon denied, shaking his head. “I can’t. He has too much experience and he’s been out of school too long. The requirements are pretty strict. But the assistant is for me.”

 

Once again surprised, Seokjin leaned forward. “For you? Why?”

 

Namjoon smiled a bit sheepishly. “They said I’ve been working too much and want someone to lighten my load but also kick me out of the studio if needed.”

 

Seokjin smiled. “They’re not wrong. You think he could do that job? If someone was going to hire him as a full producer, he could see acting as your assistant as pretty fucking demeaning.”

 

“I guarantee he wouldn’t,” Namjoon said confidently. “He’s not like that.”

 

“Again, you’ve met him once.”

 

“You know I’m good at reading people.”

 

“Yes, Joon, I know,” Seokjin agreed, leaning on his hand as his elbow settling on his desk, “but you sound pretty sure, so I don’t know what you need me for.”

 

“I— well, I—” Namjoon stuttered suddenly, shifting away from Seokjin and pursing his lips hard. Seokjin furrowed his brows as he stood up immediately, stepping into Namjoon’s personal space and bending until his face was in Namjoon’s line of vision. He didn’t say anything, simply made himself present and waited for Namjoon to continue, which he did. “I don’t want to set him off again. He looked so scared, Jin. I can’t even describe that level of terror and then blankness. I don’t want to do that to him. What if offering him this makes it worse?”

 

Seokjin trailed the back of his fingers over Namjoon’s cheek. “Your empathy is probably one of the things I love most about you.”

 

“Jin, that’s not— I don’t want to hurt when I’m trying to help! Can you please—"

 

“Joon,” Seokjin interrupted, a gentle smile still on his face, “don’t you think that’s his choice?”

 

“What?”

 

“I don’t know this guy, though I’m starting to run out of reasons why I don’t, but, if it was me, I’d want the choice. If it’s too much, then that’s the way it is. If it’s not, you could be giving him something he lost.”

 

“Lost?” Namjoon repeated, his brows snapping together even as he leaned into Seokjin’s touch.

 

“Music,” Seokjin reminded him softly. “You said he probably had to stop. You could offer him a chance to get it back. If he wants to.”

 

“You’re right,” Namjoon agreed, nodding firmly.

 

Seokjin’s lip kicked up in the corner. “But you need to be prepared for the negative. He might have a panic attack. If you’re right and mentions that his past triggers something, you need to be aware that could happen.”

 

Namjoon straightened up. “I’m going to look up how to deal with that. So I can help.”

 

“That’s my boy,” Seokjin praised, kissing Namjoon loudly on the lips. “Now why don’t we actually go somewhere for lunch? I’m starving.”

 

“Don’t you have a meeting?” Namjoon asked even as Seokjin led him away from his desk. He knew Seokjin did, he’d asked his assistant.

 

But Seokjin simply smiled over his shoulder. “What could possibly be more important than spending lunch with the love of my life?”

 

“Your business?” Namjoon replied easily, sending an apologetic look to Seokjin’s already harried-looking assistant as they walked past.

 

“Nah. I can just build another one. Can’t find another you.”

 

“You’re the worst,” Namjoon hissed, his cheeks flaming at the cheesiness of Seokjin’s comment. But the elder man remained unphased and instead encircled him with a hug and dropped his chin on Namjoon’s shoulder as soon as they reached the elevator. Namjoon leaned his back into Seokjin’s chest and shook his head. “But I love you anyway.”

 

“Hmmm, you better.”

 

“Jin!”

 

“Fine, I love you too. Happy?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Seokjin rolled his eyes but didn’t comment further as they rode down to the ground level. Even as he held Namjoon, he couldn’t help but let his mind wander to the mysterious Min Yoongi. What was it about him that endeared everyone so quickly? Seokjin was going to have to find out.

Chapter Text

The first thing Yoongi became aware of was that he did not recognize the blanket shoved against his face. He frowned at it sleepily, confused, then glanced around the room. It took him a second, but he began to notice things. The pictures on the walls; the camera tucked in the corner; the small candle on the side table. He was in Taehyung’s room. He was on Taehyung’s bed. Horrified, Yoongi shot up, the blanket falling to his waist as he tried to find Taehyung. He wasn’t in bed with him, which Yoongi wasn’t sure how he felt about honestly. Yoongi scrambled to his knees and looked at the ground, finding the blanket he remembered Taehyung wrapping himself in and a pillow. Taehyung had slept on the floor. Yoongi had fallen in his bed and that had forced Taehyung to sleep on the ground.

 

Yoongi groaned, rubbing his face. He didn’t even remember falling asleep. He’d just felt so comfortable and safe and then nothing. Taehyung had that effect on him. Yoongi wasn’t sure what it was about Taehyung, he just had this presence that was calming. He often didn’t speak, just waited for Yoongi to figure out what he wanted to say, and he never asked or pushed unless Yoongi was saying something troubling. It was the closest he felt to normal. 

 

Not that Jimin and Jungkook weren’t great. It was just that Jimin always had this air about him like he was worried. And with Jungkook, Yoongi always felt like he needed to be a good hyung. Like unloading his burdens on Jungkook would just be adding pressure to an already stressful time in his life. Jungkook never acted like he needed to do that, but once Yoongi had become comfortable around the younger boy, he’d just somehow adopted that role. But again, with Taehyung, that wasn’t an issue. He felt taken care of without feeling useless, and comfortable without feeling like Taehyung was pretending his issues didn’t exist. It was just… nice. 

 

Scooting out of bed slowly, Yoongi shuffled out of the bedroom and went in search of Taehyung. If he wasn’t in the room, he must be somewhere else in the apartment. He heard movement in the kitchen and followed it, finding Taehyung at the stove with a small pan and spatula. He was humming to himself, a slight smile on his lips as he moved back and forth, dancing to a silent song. Yoongi couldn’t help but smile, tilting his head as he watched Taehyung move something he couldn’t see on the pan in time with the sway of his hips. 

 

“What are you making?” Yoongi asked after a bit.

 

Taehyung startled at Yoongi’s question, whipping around and clutching the spatula to his chest. “Yoongi. God. Announce yourself.”

 

Laughing, Yoongi scratched his cheek. “Sorry, you were humming and it was too cute. I had to watch before you noticed.”

 

“Was I?” Taehyung wondered, turning back to the stove. “I didn’t notice.”

 

Finally entering the kitchen and taking a seat at the table, Yoongi rested his head on his hand. “You were. And dancing a bit.”

 

“Huh. I do that when I’m in a good mood,” Taehyung admitted with a shrug.

 

“A good mood? Even after sleeping on the ground?” 

 

Taehyung tossed a look over her shoulder and smiled. “It was my choice. Plus you looked so cute rolled up into a lil’Yoongi ball. I couldn’t wake you up.”

 

“A Yoongi ball?” Yoongi repeated, scrunching up his nose.

 

“Yup,” Taehyung confirmed, placing a plate in front of Yoongi filled with scrambled eggs and bacon. “I hope this is good. My breakfasts are fifty-fifty at best. I’m heavy-handed with salt.”

 

“Oh, thank you,” Yoongi said, looking down at the meal in surprise. “You didn’t have to do that. I’m the one who should be thanking you.”

 

“Sometimes people just do nice things, Yoongi. Not everything needs to be repaid or balanced out.”

 

Yoongi bit his lip, feeling slightly chastised. “I’m sorry.”

 

There was a sigh above his head, then Taehyung sat down and smiled at Yoongi somewhat sadly. “Why are you apologizing?”

 

“W-what?”

 

“Why are you apologizing?” Taehyung repeated seriously.

 

Yoongi licked his lips and furrowed his brows as he stared down at the food Taehyung had prepared. “I don’t know. I just— I feel like I should apologize when I do something wrong.”

 

“But you didn’t do anything wrong, Yoongi. I was merely pointing out that this delicate balance you’ve established for yourself isn’t necessary. No one is keeping score here.”

 

“I know,” Yoongi admitted. “It’s just a habit. I’ll work on it.”

 

Taehyung smiled at Yoongi then gestured to the plate. “Now eat. Otherwise, I’ll think it’s bad and you’re stalling.”

 

“You’ve caught me,” Yoongi teased before finally taking a bite. It was, as Taehyung predicted, salty, but Yoongi only smiled before taking another bite. “It’s good.”

 

“Really?!” Taehyung asked enthusiastically, his entire face brightening. “I’m so happy. Maybe next time I’ll manage sunny-side-up eggs. That’s what these were supposed to be but one broke.”

 

“I look forward to it,” Yoongi agreed, once again realizing how comfortable he was. Taehyung had made him talk about his behaviour, but it had been done so casually that Yoongi just addressed it and moved on. Like it was any other conversation. It dawned on him that was what made it so easy with Taehyung. It wasn’t a whole ordeal to talk about his past. Just a facet of any other conversation and day. “is Jimin sleeping late?”

 

“Oh, no. He ran out of here about an hour ago. Pretty sure he only had one shoe,” Taehyung told him with a snort. “He fell asleep as Kook’s but didn’t have anything with him so he had to come back and grab his shit and go.”

 

“Does he not have things at Jungkook’s?” Yoongi wondered. Jungkook had a toothbrush here and he’d seen him change before which made Yoongi think he had clothes here as well.

 

“Nah. Jimin hates Jungkook’s apartment. It’s a cheap student place. Thin walls, sketchy appliances. You know the type.”

 

“Unfortunately,” Yoongi agreed. “Scholarships do not give you much money for accommodations so my place was… livable might be a stretch honestly.”

 

Taehyung snorted, finally getting up to fill his own plate with eggs. “I don’t miss those days. That’s the reason Jimin and I live together actually. We wanted to get a place that was super nice and between us, we had more disposable income. You know this place is soundproofed? With a doorman and everything.” 

 

“It is very nice,” Yoongi agreed, watching Taehyung closely. He’d returned to his seat but hadn’t taken a bite yet. His fork was hovering just below his lips as he talked. Yoongi narrowed his eyes at the fork, waiting for the inevitable. Eventually, it happened. Taehyung finally took a bite of the eggs. It took a moment, but then his eyes widened and he coughed, his mouth twisting in distaste. Finally seeing the look he was waiting for, Yoongi burst into laughter, his fork hitting the plate as he dropped it so he could cover his mouth. “Your face was priceless. So good.”

 

“Yoongi! It’s so salty, what the hell! Why didn’t you tell me?!” Taehyung choked as he stuck out his tongue dramatically.

 

“It’s not too bad,” Yoongi contradicted, taking another bite, “but yea, maybe no salt next time.”

 

“Yea, probably,” Taehyung agreed, sighing as he also continued to eat. He wasn’t about to waste food, even if it was so salty he wanted to drink half a litre of water. But eating only let Taehyung’s mind wander and that probably wasn’t for the best. Taehyung had been doing a lot of thinking since waking up on the floor with Yoongi sleeping silently on his bed. Hell, he’d been doing a lot of thinking since Yoongi fell asleep in the first place. At first, his thoughts had been muddled, the only consistent thing being that they were centred on Yoongi. It had taken most of the night for him to sort through it all and even then he hadn’t really figured it out until he’d woken up again. Basically, he realized he was more invested in Yoongi than he should be. Or maybe ‘should be’ wasn’t the right phrase, maybe it was actually he was more invested than he had right to be. Yoongi was going through so much and Taehyung cared about that. He wanted him to thrive and be healthy and stable. None of that was a lie or wrong. But he’d also realized he was starting to see Yoongi differently: focusing on his smile or laugh; he made every excuse to be close to him, to just hang out and be in his presence; their trips to take pictures had been the most fun he’d had in months. He’d even planned more just to have an excuse to go out with him again. Taehyung had written all of those things off as the desires of a friend happy to see someone rebounding after something traumatic, but it’d finally occurred to him that maybe that wasn’t the only thing he was feeling. 

 

Taehyung had refused to believe it at first, his own mind rejecting the idea, but when he’d woken up to Yoongi it had hit him with all the force of a wrecking ball. Yoongi had been curled up, as he’d said before, but his face had been pressed against the bed, his cheek bunched up and squished against the material. Every so often, his face would twitch and he’d move, mumbling something quietly under his breath. Alone on his bed, so small in the middle of so much empty space, Taehyung had been overwhelmed with the feeling that Yoongi fit. That he liked seeing him there. Shortly after that revelation, he’d fled to the kitchen and now here they were, eating breakfast in amicable silence. 

 

He couldn’t believe he’d let himself do something so stupid. To start developing feelings for someone who was still healing from a past relationship was stupid enough, but to have them for someone he was helping? God, Taehyung felt so gross. Suddenly, Jimin’s previous comment all those days ago made sense. The not-so-subtle reminder that Yoongi was fragile right now. He’d seen what Taehyung was too slow to notice or perhaps had willfully ignored. Yoongi relyed on Taehyung, as he did Jimin and Jungkook, and hopefully soon Hoseok and Namjoon, for normalcy. Taehyung occupied an important place in his life as someone who provided stability and aid. He couldn’t very well taint that with romantic feelings. God forbid Yoongi return them out of some twisted sense of obligation. Yoongi had already shown a tendency to put others before himself. What would he do if he found out one of the people helping him had feelings for him? Taehyung shuddered at the idea, internally shaking his head. No, that will never happen.

 

“Tae?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“I asked if you were done,” Yoongi repeated, smiling slightly confusedly. “You okay?”

 

“Oh, yea, sorry, I spaced out. I have a long shoot today and I was lost in planning,” Taehyung lied, passing his empty plate to Yoongi.

 

“Ah, I get it,” Yoongi agreed, putting all the dishes in the sink so he could begin washing them. “I can handle this. Why don’t you go get ready for work? You start soon, no?”

 

Taehyung glanced at the clock and nodded. “Yea, thanks Yoongi.”

 

“No problem. Thanks for breakfast.”

 

Snorting, Taehyung shook his head. “I feel that sarcasm but I’m going to take it so my ego remains intact.”

 

“Whatever you need,” Yoongi quipped back easily, his eyes showing surprise at his own tone before shifting quickly to a teasing look. Taehyung caught the shift and felt a heavy feeling settle in his stomach. Yoongi was doing so good and he was helping him get there. Taehyung wouldn’t fuck that up, he promised himself he wouldn’t. Feelings or not, Taehyung swore nothing would change. Yoongi needed a friend and he’d fill that role. Anything else would be taking advantage of the situation and Taehyung swore he’d never do that to someone he cared about. Never.

 

His own feelings be damned.

 


 

Jungkook made it until exactly one hour and thirty-two minutes after his last midterm before he broke down and showed up at Yoongi’s door. He knew Jimin and Taehyung were at work, so this was the perfect time to check if Yoongi really was okay. He’d managed to convince himself that the last thing Yoongi needed was Jungkook hovering but by the end of his midterm, that well-thought-through conclusion had been discarded like so much trash. 

 

Shuffling so his backpack stopped sliding down his shoulder, Jungkook knocked on the door and waited patiently for Yoongi to answer. It took a few minutes, but eventually, Yoongi appeared, a broom in his hand and a smile on his lips. “Jungkook! Are you finally free?”

 

“I am,” Jungkook declared, stepping in as Yoongi moved away from the door. “No more midterms, I’m free.”

 

“Until finals at least,” Yoongi pointed out.

 

“Ahhh, don’t remind me, hyung,” Jungkook whined dramatically, throwing himself on the couch while Yoongi laughed, shaking his head.

 

“Well, make yourself comfortable. I just have to finish cleaning the kitchen. Tae cooked this morning.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes widened. “Why would you let him do that?”

 

“I didn’t,” Yoongi explained with a laugh. “He cooked before I woke up. It was good though.”

 

“Not salty?” Jungkook asked pointedly.

 

“A little salty,” Yoongi admitted, ducking his head with a small laugh. “I’ll be done soon.”

 

Making a sound of agreement, Jungkook stretched out on the couch, his tired bones cracking as he did so. He’d tried to take the night off since Jimin was there but if anything he’d just studied harder. Jimin never let him slack off. You’d think having an older boyfriend would mean he could avoid school sometimes but it really didn’t. Jimin never allowed Jungkook to use him as an excuse, even when he was upset and needed comfort. Instead, Jimin had just lingered near his side, wanting physical touch but not wanting to interfere. And Jungkook had studied. 

 

But now he was free! Which meant he could deal with the current issue. Sitting up, Jungkook rested his arms on the top of the couch and looked in Yoongi’s direction. He couldn't see him but he could hear him moving around in the kitchen so he raised his voice. “Can we do the couch potato thing today? Snacks and moves and cuddles?”

 

A laugh greeted his response, which made Jungkook shift a bit awkwardly. Though they’d made great strides in their relationship, Jungkook was still fairly hesitant when it came to touching Yoongi. They’d hugged a few times but that was pretty much it. Being the touchy person he was, it meant that he had to constantly focus on it. Usually, he just kinda draped on people he was close to, but he didn’t do that with Yoongi. He’d noticed Yoongi had started gravitating closer to him as of late, and watching when he was more physical with everyone else. Jungkook was taking that as a sign that Yoongi was comfortable enough for him to try. Also, he figured the conversation he wanted to have would be better wrapped in blankets and getting prime cuddles. Or maybe he just wanted cuddles. Whatever.

 

“Sure, Kook. We have to celebrate the end of midterms, right?”

 

“Right!” Jungkook agreed.

 

“Pick some movies while I finish up,” Yoongi called over to him, his voice warm.

 

“Okay, hyung,” Jungkook agreed, smiling at his tone. He hadn’t known Yoongi for long, but he felt like he was getting back to what he used to be. Or at least closer to what Jimin had often described him as. Which just made his ex showing up and hurting him all the more painful. Yoongi was finally free. He’d stopped looking over his shoulder when they went out and flinching when one of them got too close (mostly). It made Jungkook so angry to think there was someone who saw Yoongi’s light and just wanted to snuff it out. It didn’t make sense to him. But he knew he couldn’t be mad right now, that it wouldn’t help, which just caused his emotions to swing in a totally different direction: fear.

 

Eventually, Yoongi emerged from the kitchen carrying some chips and drinks. Jungkook had his movie choice loaded and paused, just waiting on Yoongi to start. Placing the snacks on the coffee table, Yoongi nudged Jungkook’s shoulder with his foot. “You know I have to actually be able to sit on the couch, right?”

 

“Uh-huh,” Jungkook agreed from his place, still taking up the entire couch. He sat up without turning, his back still facing one side of the couch and scrunched his entire face up at Yoongi. “This okay?”

 

Yoongi glanced at the spot and then Jungkook’s back and nodded, taking his place. He shifted around to get comfortable, pulling the afghan on the arm of the couch over him. Once he was situated, he placed a hand on Jungkook’s shoulder, guiding him back down. Jungkook went easily, resting his head on Yoongi’s thigh as he curled up so he could use it as a pillow and watch the movie. Yoongi blinked at Jungkook’s actions, once again feeling that protectiveness that had just sort of appeared where Jungkook was concerned, then refocused on the movie. “What did you pick?”

 

Your Name,” Jungkook answered, his voice quiet, like he was unsure.

 

“Ah, I heard good things,” Yoongi replied.

 

“You’ve never seen it?”

 

“No,” Yoongi admitted, “I didn’t really have time for movies before.”

 

Jungkook tensed but quickly relaxed. “Well, it’s good.”

 

“Then press play,” Yoongi ordered, gesturing toward the TV.

 

Without further comment, Jungkook did as asked and they began watching the movie. It was one of Jungkook’s favourites, but he couldn’t focus. Yoongi had rested his arm on Jungkook’s shoulder, which was fine, but that meant Jungkook could feel the bandages there. It was subtle, just a little bit of friction in comparison to otherwise smooth skin hidden away by a sweater. If he didn’t know it was there, he’d have missed it. But he did know it was there and he could feel it. Jungkook only lasted as long as it took for the characters to struggle through the complexities of gendered language when you were suddenly a different gender, before he broke.

 

“Hyung?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“Are you okay?” Jungkook asked tentatively.

 

Yoongi froze, his hand tensing on Jungkook’s head, “of course. Why wouldn’t I be?”

 

“I can feel the bandage, hyung,” Jungkook told him quietly.

 

“Oh,” Yoongi said, “I guess Jimin told you.”

 

“He did.”

 

Yoongi sighed. “It’s not a big deal, Jungkook. He left and I’m okay.”

 

“But hyung,” Jungkook insisted, rolling over and wrapping his arms around Yoongi’s waist. The sudden movement startled Yoongi, his arms raising above Jungkook automatically as he was unused to so much skinship from the younger man. He didn’t really know what to do, but as he felt wetness seep through his shirt, Yoongi relaxed, once again resting his hand on Jungkook’s head. This only made the younger man’s breath stutter. “I’m so scared, hyung.”

 

“Scared?” Yoongi repeated, “why?”

 

“I thought— I thought he’d make you go back. That I’d never see you again but I’d just know what he was doing. Hyung, I—”

 

Yoongi closed his eyes, for the first time really seeing how his past affected the people around him. He’d thought about it before, but more in the context of what his issues and current presence caused. It never occurred to him that people like Jungkook, someone he’d only known for a few months, would have much the same feelings as he did. “I almost did.”

 

“W-what?” Jungkook stuttered out.

 

“I almost went back with him. He-he brought up my parents and I just— let him pull me. But then I heard you guys. Telling me I was home and that I belonged here. Daegu isn't my home anymore, Seoul is. This apartment is. My home is with you guys and I’m never leaving Jungkook. That’s why he hurt me. Because I realized where I wanted to be and made sure he knew it.”

 

“H-hyung, I’m sorry,” Jungkook managed to say, his shoulders shaking.

 

“Why are you apologizing?” Yoongi asked, mimicking Taehyung’s question from earlier in the morning.

 

“I-it’s not even me. I s-should be comforting you.”

 

Smiling slightly, Yoongi replied. “You are. You know this is the first time you’ve actually touched me for longer than a few seconds?”

 

Jungkook nodded against Yoongi’s stomach. “Wanted to make sure it was okay.”

 

“I know,” Yoongi acknowledged, “and that means a lot to me. It’s helped so much. You’ve helped so much. You’re the first friend I made here, Jungkook.”

 

“What about Taehyung?” Jungkook whispered, his eyes finally visible as he pulled back enough to dark a look at Yoongi’s face.

 

“He’s a friend, sure, but I was his roommate first. A bond of necessity. You’re the first person who just wanted to hang out with me. The first one to treat me like I was normal. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without you, Jungkook, and I’m not going anywhere, I promise.”

 

Blinking large, wet eyes, Jungkook pulled back and sat up, wiping his face with his sleeve. “Promise?”

 

“I promise,” Yoongi agreed.

 

Jungkook stared at his face for a moment then wrapped him in a hug. Yoongi was thrown off for a second, but returned it, rubbing Jungkook’s back in comfort. It was odd, as Jungkook had pointed out, to be the one comforting when the bad thing happened to him. But it made sense to Yoongi. Jungkook was young, in more ways than one. He’d never experience violence or harshness. His family was close and loving. They accepted his sexuality and jumps between majors in stride and he’d never dealt with people treating him poorly. He was lucky and that was not a bad thing. But that experience just meant he wanted everyone to have the same. It was why he wanted Jimin to get along with his parents since his parents were assholes and it was why he wanted Yoongi to be safe. When he couldn’t do those things, it made him feel bad, guilty even. He was far too empathetic for his own good, but Yoongi didn’t mind. 

 

“I’m going to hug you more, if that’s okay,” Jungkook whispered into Yoongi’s neck.

 

“That’s more than okay, Kookie.”

 

Jungkook hiccuped. “No one calls me that.”

 

“No? I’ll just use Kook then.”

 

“No, I like it,” Jungkook denied hastily. “It’s okay.”

 

“Okay then. Wanna finish the movie?”

 

“Yea,” Jungkook agreed, returning slowly to his previous position. “Let’s do that.”

 


 

“You can come in now, Joon,” a soft voice called, interrupting Namjoon’s spaced-out meditating.

 

“Thanks, Yejin,” Namjoon said just as softly before glancing down, “I like your shirt. The blue suits you.”

 

“Oh, thanks,” Yejin replied, slightly startled, “Kai got me it for my birthday.”

 

“A good choice.”

 

“It was. Now I have to one-up him just like last year,” Yejin snickered.

 

“As always, I am at your disposal,” Namjoon said sagely. He and Yejin had started in the same year and they’d been close since the beginning. He’d even introduced her to Kai. Well, kinda. He’d hyped her up at the bar to go talk to him while Seokjin cheered in the background, but he took full credit. 

 

“Full disclosure,” Yejin whispered. “Mr. Cho is in a shit mood today. Some asshole stole one of the PD’s phones and leaked part of a song. He’s been doing damage control all morning.”

 

“Which PD?” Namjoon asked, leaning in as if he’d get more gossip that way.

 

“Lee-PD.”

 

“Oh shit,” Namjoon replied. “She just started, what? A few months ago? She must be heartbroken.”

 

“She is. That’s why he’s in such a shit mood. I guess this guy asked her out on a date to get access.”

 

“Asshole.”

 

“Definitely,” Yejin agreed. “Anyway, good luck.”

 

“Thanks,” Namjoon muttered, stepping into the office. His boss, Cho Jongso, CEO and founder of his label, was sitting at his desk, a phone to his ear and a finger pressed to his temple, rubbing in circles. He threw Namjoon an apologetic look, but Namjoon waved it off.

 

“Look, I don’t care, theft of property is theft of property. Sue him, charge him, whatever. He abused her trust, just fucking do something.”

 

Namjoon raised a brow but didn’t comment. He was unsurprised. Lee-PD was a nice person. She just graduated last year and after her internship, his boss had snapped her up. She was talented, personable, and did he mention talented? One day her name would be on every popular song and Namjoon wasn’t even mad about it. When Jongso finally hung up, Namjoon smiled. “Sounding a bit protective there, bossman.”

 

“Oh shush, you. Yejin tell you what he did?” Jongso chastised, not unkindly.

 

“Yup,” Namjoon confirmed. “Crush him.”

 

“I will,” Jongso promised, fire flashing in his eyes momentarily before he leaned back and crossed his arms. “So what do I owe the pleasure of your visit? Normally you just barge in here all willy-nilly. Imagine my surprise when I saw your name with a real appointment scheduled.”

 

Namjoon laughed. “Hey, you’re the one with an open door policy.”

 

“Remind me to change that for literally just you.”

 

“Rude,” Namjoon pointed out before taking a seat. “I’ve been with this company a long time.”

 

Jongso blinked. “Yes, that’s why you’re talking to me like we’re friends and not like I sign your paychecks.”

 

Undaunted, Namjoon continued. “I feel like I’ve contributed a fair share to this company.”

 

“Namjoon.” Jongso cut off in exasperation. “Is this about more shares? Because I can’t just invent those.”

 

“What? No,” Namjoon denied. “I’m more than happy with what I have. This is about my assistant.”

 

“Oh,” Jongso said, somewhat relieved. “Well, I know you don’t like people in your space but I think it would help. You can interview them yourself if you want so you have someone who can help with the monotonous parts of your job without worrying about them.”

 

“I’m glad to hear you say that because I have someone in mind.”

 

Jongso’s eyebrows hiked up in surprise. “Really? Who?”

 

Without speaking, Namjoon pulled out his phone and pressed play. Immediately, Yoongi’s voice came through the tiny speakers. Jongso tilted his head and frowned. “Who’s this?”

 

“A rapper I used to really like. I want him to be my assistant.”

 

“A rapper,” Jongso repeated like Namjoon was an idiot.

 

“Yes. He produced this track and his whole mixtape.”

 

Now Jongso was interested. “Play it again.”

 

Following the order, Namjoon pressed play. Jongso didn’t speak for the entirety of the song but when it was over he leaned back again. “It’s good. Rough but good. Has the bones of something marketable.”

 

“I agree.”

 

“So why as your assistant and not as a producer?” Jongso wondered. “If you’re going to call in a favour to get him hired, why not go the full way?”

 

Namjoon grimaced, unsure how much he should reveal. Jongso noticed his hesitation but waited for Namjoon to collect his thoughts. Finally, Namjoon decided to explain as much as he could. “I met him recently. He's a friend of Jimin’s.”

 

“Park Jimin? Our choreographer?” Jongso clarified.

 

“Yes. They’re childhood friends. This guy, Min Yoongi, went to Yonsei and interned at a label in Daegu but… personal complications made him quit when he was offered a full position.”

 

“Personal,” Jongso repeated, his finger tapping on his forearm. “you’re going to have to give me more than that.”

 

Namjoon scrunched his nose. “Shitty ex?”

 

Jongso scanned Namjoon’s face. He wasn’t sure what his boss saw there but he didn't ask any more questions about it, so Namjoon was thankful. “So, again, why not a producer?”

 

“I don’t think he’s ready to be a producer. He’s been out of the game for too long, but I think this could be a good way for him to get back into it slowly.”

 

“I don’t know, Namjoon,” Jongso admitted. “Not that I don’t empathize but we aren’t in the business of hiring every person who loved music but had to give it up. He may have talent, but so do a lot of people.”

 

“I’ll take full responsibility.”

 

“Why does this matter so much?” Jongso wondered. “You said he’s Jimin’s friend, not yours.”

 

“He is,” Namjoon agreed, noting that his question was remarkably similar to what Seokjin had pointed out, “but I used to look up to him once and he didn’t want to leave. I think if I have the ability to help with that, why can’t I?” 

 

Jongso sighed. “I wanted to get you an assistant so you’d work less, not more.”

 

“Once he’s comfortable, he’ll be a great help. I promise.”

 

“You can’t promise something like that,” Jongso disagreed, but waved Namjoon’s rebuttal away. “Fine, do it. I can already tell you won’t leave until I agree. But I’ll be watching. If he’s more trouble than he's worth, friendship or no, he’s out. We’re still a business at the end of the day, Namjoon.”

 

“I know,” Namjoon agreed, pushing himself up and bowing. “Thank you.”

 

“Don’t make me regret it,” Jongso mumbled, already turning back towards his computer.

 

Namjoon snorted. “You can’t regret anything related to me. I’m great.”

 

“Tell that to the office supply department,” Jongso called after him, his voice loud but tone light. Namjoon only laughed, unfazed. Yerin threw him a look as he walked past, but Namjoon simply smiled and shoved his hands in his pockets sending her a scrunched-up smile as he slipped out of the office entirely. He’d managed to get permission to hire Yoongi. Now he just had to convince the man himself it was a good idea.

 

Easier said than done.

Chapter Text

After their talk, Yoongi and Jungkook fell into a sort of rhythm. When he didn’t have class, he’d show up at the apartment with snacks and a selection of movies. All things that had come out recently that Yoongi hadn’t had a chance to see because Minhyuk was an asshole. Sometimes they were light and fun, other times they were serious and made him think. Yoongi realized he was a fan of a particular director, Jungkook amusedly telling him that every time Yoongi started praising a movie it was by the same man. It was nice. And easy. Yoongi still wore the bandage, the handprint having worsened to an angry purple with burst blood vessels before beginning to fade away again. The edge had blurred, but it was still clearly a handprint and he couldn’t look at it without a flash of shame overwhelming him. 

 

Truthfully, he was so proud of how he’d managed to stand up for himself, the way he’d gotten the attention of people around him, but he also couldn’t forget how he’d also agreed to leave. The way he’d let Minhyuk use his parents as a weapon. His shame was why he didn’t tell Jimin and Taehyung about it. He didn't want them to know. He hadn’t really planned on telling anyone, but when Jungkook had admitted his own vulnerability, he’d found himself telling the truth without thought. He was glad he did though. It had brought them closer together. Their talk allowed Jungkook to finally cross that line he’d been toeing and treat him like he did every other hyung in his life. It made Yoongi feel good to see Jungkook acting with him the same way he did everyone else. Yoongi figured this was what his normal with Jungkook looked like and he couldn’t be happier. 

 

Today, however, he was alone. Jungkook had class all day and though he whined about how long his day was, he always had this air of excitement about him when he talked about it. The reason his day was so long was because all his chosen electives had run on one day. So basically, his favourite classes were all at once. It reminded Yoongi of himself in university. How he’d run to every class that hadn’t been a mandatory credit. There had been classes he hadn’t even dreamed of, hadn’t even considered as important, and he’d wanted to take them all. And he had. He’d been busy and mostly exhausted, but so fulfilled it hadn’t mattered. 

 

He missed that, he realized rather belatedly. Feeling like he’d accomplished something. His world had become so narrow, so focused on getting through every day before leaving Minhyuk that his accomplishments had become small: don’t anger Minhyuk today, go to the grocery store, finally get that stain out of the tile grout. And even after, they’d shifted but stayed small: don’t panic, cook dinner, spend time with Jimin, Taehyung, and Jungkook. He didn’t think they were unimportant, he still remembered how hard it had been for him to even make it through a meal without panicking when he first came, but it felt small. Everything was so focused on normal, everyday behaviour. He didn’t even remember what it was like to have a goal that focused on something outside his own home.

 

A knock startled Yoongi out of his reverie, his hands submerged in soapy water where he’d been washing the dishes he used for prepping dinner, but motionless. At some point, he’d stopped cleaning, so lost in thought. Yoongi frowned, grabbing a hand towel to dry off his hands. He wasn’t expecting anyone and, honestly, that scared him a bit. Still clutching the towel, Yoongi crept to the door, peeking through the peephole without making a sound only to sigh in relief when he recognized Namjoon on the other side. 

 

Still a bit hesitant, Yoongi opened the door. “Um, hi Namjoon! No one is home right now.”

 

“That’s okay,” Namjoon promised, his smile soft. “I actually came to see you.”

 

“Me?” Yoongi asked, confused.

 

“Yea, I was wondering if you wanted to go out for a coffee with me. There’s a great coffee shop a few doors down.”

 

Yoongi glanced in the general direction of the place he knew was the coffee shop he must be talking about. The same place that young girl said she worked. Yoongi wasn’t sure why Namjoon wanted to spend time with him but he also really wanted to develop a friendship with Namjoon. He’d had fun before and he knew he’d never be brave enough to initiate contact by himself, so maybe this was the only way he could. Maybe, Yoongi realized, this was Namjoon giving him the help he needed. So straightening up a little, Yoongi nodded. “Just let me grab a coat.”

 

“Of course,” Namjoon agreed easily, shoving his hands in his pockets and rocking back on his heels. Yoongi smiled a bit then darted away, putting the towel back and wrapping up dinner so it wouldn’t get cold. After a moment of thought, Yoongi grabbed a notepad and left a note for Taehyung and Jimin. They were set to be home for work in less than an hour, and they’d be concerned if Yoongi just wasn’t there. Placing the pad on the middle of the kitchen table, Yoongi returned to the door, his borrowed coat in hand. Namjoon smiled when he saw Yoongi reappear. “Ready to go?”

 

“Yes,” Yoongi said, suddenly more tentative. He hadn’t gone out with a friend in years. He went out with Taehyung, Jungkook, and Jimin, sure, but he felt like that was different. He knew them more when it happened. For Namjoon, this would be a way to get to know each other. Yoongi wasn’t even sure what he was supposed to do or say but he figured Namjoon would understand. Hopefully anyway, otherwise this was about to be infinitely more awkward than either of them realized.

 

As Yoongi guessed, Namjoon directed him to the coffee shop the young girl worked at. Instinctively, he looked for her, hoping to maybe smile or wave, show he was okay, but she wasn’t there. Noticing his glance at the counter, Namjoon misinterpreted his look as hesitation. “I can order for you, if you want. Don’t worry.”

 

“Oh,” Yoongi began, “no, that’s not why— um, thank you.”

 

“No problem!” Namjoon waved his thanks away. “What do you want?”

 

“An iced americano?”

 

“Perfect. Why don’t you go take a seat? I’ll be right over.”

 

Nodding at Namjoon’s suggestion, Yoongi found a table in the corner and sat with his back facing the wall. He wasn’t often out in public like this, just sitting around where people could see, so he wanted to be able to see who was around. He hadn’t spotted Minhyuk, and he’d been looking this time, but he didn’t want to give him the chance to sneak up either. 

 

A few minutes later, Namjoon took the seat opposite Yoongi and slid his cup over. Without comment, he took a long sip of his own drink, his eyes idly sweeping the area before returning to Yoongi, who was staring at the condensation on his drink. Yoongi wasn’t sure how to start a normal conversation but thankfully, Namjoon beat him to it. “First off, I just wanted to say I’m sorry about before at dinner. I didn’t think about your feelings when I brought up your past and I’m sorry for that.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes snapped up then flitted away. “It’s okay. There was no way for you to have known.”

 

“I know,” Namjoon acknowledged, “but I’m sorry nonetheless. I caused you pain, so I’m sorry.”

 

“Well, um, I accept your apology?” Yoongi said tentatively, unsure.

 

Namjoon’s answering smile was blinding, the dimples Yoongi had noticed deepening. “Thank you, hyung. If it’s still okay that I call you that.”

 

“O-of course,” Yoongi assured, his voice more earnest than he’d intended. “I’d like that.”

 

“I’m glad,” Namjoon said, still smiling, then shifted the topic to easier ground. “I heard you’ve been helping Kook with school?”

 

“Oh, yes, just a bit.”

 

“He’s really thankful. Every time he loiters at the label he’s gushing about it. And you, actually.”

 

“He doesn’t need to do that,” Yoongi murmured, unused to such praise, especially from an almost stranger.

 

Namjoon shrugged. “He appreciated your help and so do I.”

 

“You?”

 

“That kid would camp outside my studio door when he needed help on an essay. I was a philosophy major,” Namjoon explained, snorting a bit even as his smile was incredibly fond. “I couldn't tell you how much time I spent helping him or how many random thank you presents or food would just appear on my desk.”

 

“He’s not one to take no for an answer,” Yoongi agreed, smiling. “He told me you were a philosophy and music production major, actually. I did lit and music production.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Well, kinda. I started in literature and switched to music production later,” Yoongi explained, his voice petering out as he spoke.

 

“Cool,” Namjoon observed, sipping his coffee. “We took similar tracks, huh?”

 

“Seems so,” Yoongi agreed, shifting a bit. He wanted to talk about his music. About music in general. He knew Namjoon was the perfect person to do it with but he just couldn’t bring himself to bring it up. It was like something was choking him, holding him back. Fear maybe. Uncertainty. Either way, his eyes darted around, instinctively moving to the door every time the bell jingled. He was fucking this up. Namjoon had asked him to hang out and he was fucking it up.

 

“Look,” Namjoon said after a moment, his voice serious. Yoongi could feel himself recoil, fucking it up, fucking it up, fucking it up. “I asked you here with a motive.”

 

Fucking it up, fucking it— “What?”

 

“I had an ulterior motive,” Namjoon admitted, scrunching his nose in awkwardness. “I wanted to ask for something from you.”

 

“F-from me?” Yoongi repeated, confused. There was nothing he could offer. He didn’t have anything.

 

Namjoon nodded and crossed his legs. He wrapped his hands around his drink, but quickly realized that wasn’t the best way to do this. He moved the drink to the side, then folded his hands on the table and looked at Yoongi dead in the face. He wanted to make eye contact, but he’d noticed Yoongi had a problem with that, so he figured this was the next best thing, “I have an offer.”

 

Asking something? An offer? “I don’t understand.”

 

“No, I supposed you wouldn’t,” Namjoon began, then tried again. “My label wants me to hire an assistant. Someone who can help me make music and handle the part of the job that I get bogged down in. I want you to do the job.”

 

Yoongi blinked, then blinked again. “You want me to what?”

 

“I want you to be my assistant. I want you to make music again. Even if just a bit.”

 

Several emotions bombarded Yoongi at once. The first was abject terror. His vision faded, the people in the coffee shop became nothing but white noise. The second, and stronger emotion he was surprised to find out, was joy. The white noise was quickly pushed back and overwhelmed by internal screaming. Something inside him was simply yelling. It was a high, happy sound he wasn’t even sure he recognized but it was his. “,-me? Y-you want m-me?”

 

“I do,” Namjoon confirmed.

 

“I-I-I-I don’t know what to say,” Yoongi stuttered out. “I-I-I don’t—”

 

“Say yes,” Namjoon advised simply, smiling at him. In truth, he had expected a much worse reaction. He’d even prepared for it with probably too much online research, so he was happy to see that though he’d looked scared for a moment, his more dominant reaction was happiness.

 

Yoongi forcefully moved his hands away from his drink and clutched the table. A thousand things were running through his mind, a voice screaming at him to say yes, another warning him to say no, that he couldn’t handle it. But Yoongi pushed them all back and bit his lip before taking a deep breath. “I-I think, before I say yes, I should— should tell you what happened.”

 

Immediately, Namjoon shook his head forcefully. “You don’t have to do that.”

 

“I want to.”

 

Namjoon took a moment to study Yoongi’s face. He looked determined, so Namjoon decided to let him say what he needed to say. “Okay.”

 

“You asked what happened before. Well, I went to Yonsei,” Yoongi began, noting that Namjoon didn’t look surprised, so he’d known that, “but after I graduated I went back home. To Daegu. I interned at a small company there. Nothing impressive but the PD let me do a bunch. I even produced full songs which I’m sure you know is unusual. I love it there. I was so happy. T-then I met— then I met—”

 

“Hyung,” Namjoon cut in, partially in comfort and partially in worry. He leaned forward, his hand reaching out but stopping halfway. He didn't know if Yoongi wanted to be touched, but he left his hand there in case he did.

 

With his eyes still firmly fixed on the table, Yoongi forced himself to continue. “Then I met m-my ex and it was good. I was doing good. But then— then he asked— told me to quit. Made me quit. He needed— needed support. Needed someone to help him succeed and I wasn’t going to succeed anyway so why not?”

 

There were about a million things Namjoon wanted to say to that, all of them angry. He’d already known Yoongi’s ex was a terrible person and had guessed what he’d made Yoongi do, but now he was finally getting confirmation. Knowing anger wouldn’t be helpful, Namjoon took a breath, his eyes scanning Yoongi for any more signs of distress. That’s when he saw it, a white bandage sticking out from where his sweater had slid down. Namjoon wasn’t sure why, but he knew it had been the ex. He just did. “He do that too?” 

 

Yoongi flinched back, pulling the sweater up quickly, but he nodded. “Y-yes, he gets angry.”

 

Namjoon frowned, once again wishing he could interfere, but knowing it wasn’t his place, “I’m glad you’re away from him. I’m sorry for interrupting, continue.”

 

Yoongi nodded, his hands returning to his cup and squeezing anxiously. “I was offered a full position but he didn’t care. He told me I had to. That it was for the best. And I just— I listened and I quit and it hurt. It hurt so much and I didn’t want to but he told me to so I did and I-I just stopped. I couldn’t— I gave up on music. I couldn't— I haven’t even listened to music in years because it hurts and I shoved it so far down I can't even talk about it and I want to so bad. I want to work with you and I want to show people my music and I just can’t without— without freaking but I want to but I don’t think I can anymore.”

 

“You can,” Namjoon said simply, ending Yoongi’s spiral.

 

“W-what?” Yoongi asked, finally looking up at Namjoon, seeing the sincerity in his eyes. He saw no pity there, much to his surprise, just support and confidence.

 

“I said, you can. You had talent even before you went to school,” Namjoon reminded him. “I listened to your stuff remember? I know you can do it. You just need to be around it again, feel it.”

 

Yoongi shook his head, those old fears resurfacing as Namjoon urged him forward. “B-but I’ll interfere with your work.”

 

Namjoon waved those fears away so easily. “Who cares? I’m a workaholic anyway. I need someone to interfere. Why do you think they want me to hire you? And it is you, I showed my boss your stuff. This isn’t just me asking, my boss liked your music.”

 

“H-he did?” Yoongi asked, biting his lip, Namjoon’s firm assurances gently pushing him along. 

 

“He did,” Namjoon confirmed, before continuing. “I don’t care if you have 10 breakdowns or 100. Or if you walk in and nothing happens at all. Or if you start and decide it’s not for you and want to quit the next day. I don’t care. If you want to work with me and experience making music again, take the job, hyung.”

 

His voice near a whisper, Yoongi squeezed his cup so hard the top popped off, tilting to the side, caught only by the straw still placed inside. “I-I want to.”

 

“Then it’s a done deal.”

 

“But—”

 

“Unless that objection is unrelated to your past, I don’t want to hear it,” Namjoon interrupted, once again leaning forward with his hand outstretched.

 

Yoongi didn’t take it, but he sniffled and nodded. “Okay.”

 

“Okay?” Namjoon smiled, dimples flashing. “Good. Awesome. I can’t wait. I’m excited.”

 

“I-I think I am too,” Yoongi admitted, smiling down at his cup. His heart was racing and he was sure if he let go of his cup, his hands would be shaking, but there was an energy underneath it, like he was eager to do something for once. That scared him a bit. He knew, underneath it all, if he tried this and failed, it would crush him. He didn’t think he could survive losing music again, not so soon after getting it back, but he wanted to try. Taehyung had tried for his dream, even so many years later, so he could too. Even if he had to struggle to get there. He could do it. He could.

 


 

When Taehyung finally managed to drag himself into the apartment, he was tired and a little grumpy. Today’s shoot had been fine, but it had been long and on location. Those shoots were always the worst because it was mostly up to Mother Nature if the scene worked or not. He’d been mostly lucky, but wind had pushed their timeline back more than once so he’d missed lunch. Since it was on location and they were relying on natural light, they could only stay so late, which meant sacrifices had to be made, hence the general grumpiness. 

 

Kicking off his shoes, Taehyung went to the kitchen, expecting, as always, to find Yoongi there. When he didn’t, his stomach plummeted, fear crashing into him and rattling his bones, but then he saw the covered plates and a notepad. Taehyung grabbed the pad, glancing over the note:

 

I went to coffee with Namjoon. I hope that’s okay.

I don’t know how long it’ll be, so please feel free to eat without me!

-Yoongi

 

Immediately relaxing, Taehyung took a seat at the table and rested his chin in his hand. The idea of Yoongi being out alone made him uneasy. They had no idea where Minhyuk was so there was no guarantee he wouldn’t show up. But Namjoon was a big man and he’d crush anyone who tried to hurt Yoongi, of that he had no doubt. 

 

Once the panic faded, Taehyung found himself smiling, happy that Yoongi had gone out with someone, that he wasn’t worried about missing dinner or breaking some invisible rule. Though his note had hinted that he wasn’t sure if he could go out, the fact he had done so anyway was a good sign. Taehyung smiled again, tapping the edge of the notepad on the table. Yes, it was a very good sign. 

 

Not long after, Jimin wandered in. The second he heard the door close and Jimin’s telltale movements, Taehyung called out. “Yo, Jimin, come here!”

 

“Yea, what?” Jimin responded, still in the entryway.

 

“Just come here!”

 

“Alright, fine,” Jimin agreed, his voice slightly whiny. Apparently, Taehyung wasn’t the only one who’d had a long day. A few minutes later, Jimin appeared in the doorway, glancing around. “Where’s hyung?”

 

Without answering, Taehyung tossed the notepad at Jimin, who caught it and quickly read the message there. Surprise flashed across his face, quickly followed by happiness. “He went out on his own?”

 

“Seems so,” Taehyung agreed, a smile stretching his lips.

 

“Oh, my god, Tae,” Jimin burst out, his hand covering his mouth as he tried to get a handle on his emotions. “H-he went out with a friend, Tae.”

 

“I know.”

 

“On his own.”

 

“I know.”

 

“Without prompting.”

 

“I know,” Taehyung said again, laughing a bit. “I hope it’s going okay.”

 

“Of course it is. Namjoon-hyung is great and they have a ton in common. God, I don’t even know what to say. Is this how parents feel when their kids start to walk?”

 

Taehyung laughed again. “I’m going out on a limb and saying no.”

 

“Whatever,” Jimin snapped playfully. “let me have this!”

 

“Fine, fine,” Taehyung agreed, lifting his hands as Jimin slumped into the other chair, his fingers tracing Yoongi’s hastily written words. Taehyung watched him silently, noticing the way Jimin’s lips trembled a bit. “Jimin.”

 

“I’m just so happy, Tae. I never thought— at first, he was so broken, Tae. I didn’t even— he wasn’t anything like my hyung. My Yoongi-hyung, you know? It was so hard. It was like he was a stranger.”

 

“He’s still the same man, Jimin,” Taehyung reminded him.

 

“I know,” Jimin hastily replied, rubbing his face, “but it’s harder for me because I remember what he used to be like. He’s not that guy anymore. Parts of him are still there, and I’m seeing more and more of it every day, but a lot of it is gone, taken by that bastard.”

 

Taehyung pursed his lips, unsure what to say. Jimin was right, of course. He’d talked to Yoongi about it too. He’d never go back to before because he couldn’t. Jimin had clearly been dealing with that too. Taehyung felt a flash of guilt. He’d been better at checking up on Jimin before. Some time along the way, he’d stopped doing that, instead focusing more on Yoongi. He should have realized his feelings were shifting sooner, it was so obvious now. But he couldn’t do anything about the past. “I’m sorry for not being there, Jimin. I forget, sometimes, how hard this must be on you.”

 

“It’s okay. Yoongi-hyung is more important,” Jimin assured, his lashes wet.

 

“He is, but so are you,” Taehyung countered. “I’m sorry I let myself forget that.”

 

Something in his tone must have tipped Jimin off because his eyes snapped up and scanned Taehyung’s face. After a moment, they widened, turning round and, if possible, sadder. “You know why now.”

 

Taehyung grimaced and crossed his own arms. “Yea.”

 

“I was worried before, but I noticed pretty quickly you weren't aware of it.”

 

“I realized this morning,” Taehyung admitted. “He fell asleep in my bed and I didn’t want him to leave it.”

 

Jimin nodded. “How does that make you feel?”

 

“Are you my therapist?” Taehyung teased, then sobered when he noticed Jimin wasn’t reacting. “It makes me feel like shit, Jimin. Of fucking course it does. You’re not the only one who knows he’s in a fragile state.”

 

“So what are you going to do about it?”

 

“Nothing, obviously,” Taehyung replied, rolling his eyes. “He doesn’t need another relationship with uneven power dynamics.”

 

Jimin blinked, finding it odd to hear Taehyung speaking like that. He was assessing his feelings like something out of a textbook. “It’s only uneven if you make it that way, Tae.”

 

“Oh? Then why were you concerned, huh?”

 

“Because I didn’t want you or hyung to do something you’d regret later. Feelings form quickly in intense situations, you know that. But I also know that you two are helping each other. You’re good for each other. I may be concerned, but I’m not upset, Tae. I understand.”

 

“Well, I don’t,” Taehyung admitted, looking away. “I don’t understand how I could do something that could potentially put Yoongi in an awkward position, or god forbid make him think he owes me something.”

 

Jimin grimaced, knowing Taehyung was right in theory but also wanting to argue on principle. He’d been worried, sure, but hearing Taehyung talk about himself in such a way made him upset. “You know that would never happen.”

 

“You’re right, it won’t. Nothing’s going to happen.”

 

“Tae—”


“Jimin,” Taehyung interrupted, “this is important to me, okay? I don’t want to put him in that position and I won’t.”

 

Jimin pursed his lips, once again scanning Taehyung’s face. All he saw was determination and lingering guilt. He knew better than to argue with him when he was like this, even if Jimin disagreed. But he could do one thing. “Promise me one thing then?”

 

“What?”

 

“If you don’t want to put him in an awkward position, that’s fine. But one day, when he’s more stable, when he’s in a place where he starts thinking about dating again, revisit this.”

 

“Jim—”

 

“I’m serious, Tae. I was only worried because I didn’t want Yoongi to rely on you romantically when he wasn’t ready for that. I wanted him to be able to stand alone, rather than falling into another relationship. That’s the only reason. It had nothing to do with not wanting you two together. So, promise me, when everything settles down, that you’ll take another look at your feelings. They matter too.”

 

Taehyung’s eyes flicked to Jimin then away, settling on Yoongi’s note, then to the dinner he’d made, and back to Jimin. “Okay. I promise.”

 

“Good,” Jimin sighed, pushing back from the table. “I’m going to go shower.”

 

“Okay,” Taehyung responded, his eyes far away. Jimin knew they’d look like that for a while yet. Taehyung had a habit of falling into his own mind when he was trying to sort things out and Jimin had learned to wait. He always came out the other end more confident in his choices, so Jimin was used to it. Even if this time he wondered if it wouldn’t work quite the same way.

 


 

Yoongi had ended up staying out with Namjoon for another hour. They didn’t broach music again and Yoongi was thankful for that. He didn’t know how Namjoon just seemed to know that Yoongi wasn’t ready to talk about it more, but he did. It made him wonder if perhaps he was giving off more signs of his past than he thought. 

 

Just because people could tell doesn’t mean you haven’t improved. Improvement isn’t an all-or-nothing process. It takes time.

 

Comforted by Taehyung’s previous words, Yoongi smiled and waved at Namjoon as he entered the apartment building before riding the elevator up to his floor. It hadn’t been smooth sailing or all that fun, but Yoongi had enjoyed it. His first outing with a friend. It made him giddy just thinking about it. He had gone out without catastrophizing and worrying about all the possible repercussions. He’d just gone out and that was it. And he had a job. An actual job. Where he’d go and make money so he wouldn’t be a burden anymore. 

 

He wasn’t naive enough to assume it would be easy. Just the thought of being surrounded by music equipment again made his throat seize but he pushed through it. Namjoon had been right. This was the way he got to be around music again. This was his real chance to improve. He may be doing well now but he knew he wasn’t pushing himself. He saw the same people, did the same things. Since he experienced nothing new, there was no reason to panic anymore. The dinner had shown him that. The one time he tried something new, he panicked. But, he reminded himself firmly, that had been related to something in the conversation, not the people themselves, so he was doing better. He was. He just… had to work on dealing with his past in conversation. Namjoon had just given him the tools to do that.

 

Yoongi stepped into the apartment, shrugging off his coat and putting his shoes away. It was quiet, which surprised him, but he could see Taehyung and Jimin’s shoes were here now so they were home. Figuring they were in their rooms, Yoongi went to the kitchen so he could eat a late dinner and found Taehyung sitting at the table, playing with his phone.

 

“Oh, Tae? What are you doing?” Yoongi asked, surprised.

 

“Huh?” Taehyung blinked and looked up, his eyes lighting up when he saw Yoongi. “I’m just waiting for Jimin so we can eat dinner. How was going out with Namjoon?”

 

Suddenly all the joy and happiness Yoongi had felt when he’d agreed to the job came flooding back. He clasped his hands to his chest and jumped up and down. His actions clearly surprised Taehyung but he didn’t comment. Instead, he waited for Yoongi to explain, which came a few seconds later in a fast, slightly slurred speech. “Namjoon offered me a job.”

 

Taehyung wasn’t sure he understood. “What?”

 

“A job. At his label. A job, Tae!” Yoongi explained, his tone pitching upward dramatically.

 

“A job,” Taehyung repeated, then it hit him. “A job with music?!”

YES!

 

“Yoongi, oh my god,” Taehyung burst out, standing and coming to stand in front of Yoongi. “That’s amazing! I’m so happy for you!”

 

“I’m so scared but also happy? It’s weird but I just— a job Tae. A real one,” Yoongi repeated.

 

“You deserve it,” Taehyung told him honestly.

 

Surging forward, Yoongi jumped at Taehyung, wrapping his arms around his shoulders and practically latching on. “I won’t let him down.”

 

For a moment, Taehyung froze, his emotions conflicting, before he pulled Yoongi closer, his arms tightly wound around his back. He buried his face in Yoongi’s shoulder and nodded. “You’ll be great.”

 

“I hope so,” Yoongi whispered, tightening his hold. “I couldn’t wait to tell you!”

 

“I’m honoured,” Taehyung whispered back, opening his eyes to see Jimin standing just outside the kitchen entrance, his eyes darting between Yoongi’s back and Taehyung’s face. Taehyung wasn’t sure what Jimin saw there, but whatever it was it made his expression sad. Taehyung met his eyes for a second, a silent conversation passing between them, one that said this doesn’t count and it doesn’t matter if it does before Taehyung pulled back and smiled down at Yoongi. “Tell Jimin what you just told me?”

 

Yoongi whipped around, once again bouncing, practically vibrating with excitement. “Namjoon offered me a job!”

 

Unlike Taehyung, Jimin’s immediate reaction was worry. He was more familiar than the others with what Yoongi had lost when he stopped doing music. It wasn’t some past he didn’t know about. For Jimin, it was who Yoongi was. And he meant was. He was different now and he wasn’t sure how Yoongi would react to being back to where he was before, even just technically. That worry, however, took a back seat to Yoongi’s excitement. He looked happier than Jimin had seen him since he’d come to live with them. So much so, that Jimin pushed all his concerns away and ran to Yoongi, lifting him up in a spin that nearly injured Taehyung and damaged their kitchen. “AH! HYUNG! YES! THAT’S SO GREAT!”


Rather than replying, Yoongi simply giggled, holding onto Jimin’s shoulders so he wouldn’t fall. Taehyung watched then, now at a safe distance, his heart warm. It shocked him sometimes how far Yoongi had come. He couldn’t imagine the Yoongi he’d met all those weeks ago giggling. It just showed how strong Yoongi was. That he pushed himself through all the hardship. Taehyung knew there was more healing to come still and that this job likely would make him worse before he got better, but seeing him so happy now, Taehyung knew it would be worth it. One day, a Yoongi that had dealt with his past and could move forward confidently would stand before him and Taehyung honestly couldn’t wait to see it.

Chapter Text

“Hyung?”

 

Startled by the tentative voice carrying through his door, Yoongi put down the book he’d been reading and shuffled out of bed with a slightly confused frown. He wasn’t upset, but generally, Jimin and Taehyung slept in on Sundays. Like way in. Like into the afternoon. He’d learned there was no point making them breakfast because they’d eat it as lunch anyway, so Yoongi had long since started skipping cooking until early afternoon on Sundays. Yoongi glanced at the alarm clock and, seeing that it was only ten in the morning, felt even more confused. Why would Jimin be at his door this early on a Sunday?

 

“Yes?” Yoongi answered, opening the door quickly.

 

Jimin smiled at him, taking in the matching pyjama set he always wore despite Jimin lending him other sleep clothes. “Did I wake you?”

 

“No,” Yoongi told him. “I’ve been up for a few hours. I was just reading.”


“Sorry to interrupt, I just wanted to know if you’d come somewhere with me.”

“Today?” Yoongi clarified, even more confused. Jimin didn’t go out on Sundays. They were his de facto rest day. He generally spent the entire day stretched out on some surface or another: couch, bed, floor, it didn’t matter.

 

“Yup!” Jimin confirmed, smiling again. 

 

It was only then that Yoongi realized Jimin was fully dressed. In actual leaving the house clothes rather than sweats. “Sure, just let me get ready.”

 

“Of course, no rush,” Jimin assured him before leaving just as quickly as he’d appeared. Yoongi frowned after him, but figured Jimin would explain eventually. So closing the door, Yoongi proceeded to get ready before meeting Jimin in the living room where he was stretched out on the couch playing on his phone. “That was fast.”

 

“Well, you were waiting.”

 

Jimin looked up. “I can wait. Did you want breakfast?”

 

“No, I ate already. I’m used to you two sleeping quite late.”

 

Snorting, Jimin pushed himself up. “That’s true. Then you’re good to go?”

 

“Sure,” Yoongi agreed, still waiting for Jimin to explain.  But he didn’t. Instead, they left without further discussion. Even sitting in the car, Jimin didn’t tell him where they were going or why. Yoongi began to get anxious, unsure of what Jimin had planned. He didn’t really like surprises, never had. But just as he was really starting to get uncomfortable, Jimin pulled the car into a parking space on the side of the road and turned off the car. Yoongi frowned, looking around. It was a normal enough street. They hadn’t been driving long enough to leave Seoul so he knew they were somewhere close but he didn’t recognize the street. Not that he had a great understanding on this side of Seoul, he’d gone to university on the other side of the city, but still. He had no idea where he was. “Where are we?”

 

“The why is more important than the where.”

 

“Okay,” Yoongi allowed. “Why are we here?”

 

“Because I’m proud of you.”

 

“I— what?”

 

“When you told me you had a job, honestly, I was terrified. You know how bad this can go, I know you do.”

 

“I do,” Yoongi agreed. It had been worrying him all week. He knew, without a doubt, he’d have trouble. He just hoped he made it somewhere private first so he wouldn’t cause a scene but there was no guarantee that would happen.

 

“But you’re doing it anyway. You’re pushing yourself and, god, it’s so good to see, hyung. I’m starting to recognize you again.”

 

Yoongi blinked and shifted in his seat. Instinctively, he pressed on his bottom lip in awkwardness, but he could feel the corners of his mouth tip upwards. “Yea?”

 

“Yea,” Jimin confirmed, then admitted. “I wasn’t sure that was ever going to happen, but it did and I’m so happy for you. It makes me so proud of how far you’ve come and I wanted to do something for you.”

 

“You’ve done so much,” Yoongi immediately said, shaking his head. “I wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for you. I had nowhere else to go. You and Taehyung and Jungkook are the only reason I’m here doing so well.”

 

“That’s not true at all. We’ve helped, sure, but you’re only doing better because you’ve been working so hard to get there. That has nothing to do with us,” Jimin paused, glancing out the window and away from Yoongi, “but this job… you’re not going to have us. I’m in the same building, sure, but I won’t be able to help. It’ll just be you. You won’t have us as a safety net and that scares me a lot.”

 

“I’ll be okay,” Yoongi whispered, reaching out to squeeze Jimin’s arm. “I need to be.”

 

“I know,” Jimin agreed, laughing a bit as he wiped his eyes. “I know you will be. That’s why I’m so proud. So we’re going to get you a first-day outfit.”

 

“What?” Yoongi asked, finally noticing the fancy-looking store they’d parked in front of. “I have clothes.”

 

“You do, but the best part of starting something new is putting on a nice new outfit and feeling great about yourself. I want you to walk in there tomorrow feeling like a model and looking just as good. Let me do that for you. As congratulations on the new job.”

 

Yoongi bit his lip, looking between Jimin and the store. It looked pricey. He could tell because it looked like there was no actual clothing in the store and all he could see was bright white walls. He knew that meant everything was super expensive. But Jimin also looked so earnest. His eyes were wide and pleading, and Yoongi found he couldn’t say no, “okay, Jiminie.”

 

“Yes!” Jimin celebrated, clearly excited, before he darted from the car, forcing Yoongi to follow after at a much slower pace. “I know the manager, so she’s opening early for us. I figured that would be better so there weren’t as many people.”

 

“Thanks,” Yoongi whispered, touched that Jimin had thought that far ahead.

 

“No problem,” Jimin said, grabbing Yoongi’s hand. “Now let’s go!”

 


 

Seokjin reclined on the bed, watching Namjoon emerge from the closet only to promptly spin on his heel and go back inside. Since Namjoon was a bit of a fashionista, this was not a unique sight for Seokjin, but the tension radiating off Namjoon was.

 

“Love, you looked fine, why are you changing again?”

 

A sound of frustration echoed from the depths of their shared walk-in closet. “it’s not about looking fine. I want to look approachable and comforting.”

 

Feeling his chest fill with warmth, Seokjin smiled. “and what does that look like?”

 

“Well, I looked it up and people said yellow makes you feel happier right? But also green is supposed to be soothing and maybe that might be better. Someone recommended blue because it’s supposed to be calming but like… doesn’t blue mean sadness? So what do they know? But then there’s orange which is energetic but also soothing? I think that’s what the article said anyway—"

 

“Joon,” Seokjin interrupted, his eyebrows tilted in endeared amusement “was there any colour that wasn’t calming or soothing?”

 

Suddenly, Namjoon’s head popped out of the closet door with wide and earnest eyes and answered Seokjin’s question completely seriously, “yes! Red, purple, white, and black! They don’t mean bad things but they aren’t calming so not those ones!”

 

Realizing that Namjoon was not going to come out of the closet until he’d made a choice, Seokjin nodded encouragingly. “Well, what about that nice green long-sleeved shirt hanging on the right? It’s bright green and you could wear a simple pair of slacks. It’s professional and comfortable but also has green.”

 

“Long-sleeved shirt?” Namjoon repeated, eyes narrowing at Seokjin before he disappeared into the closet. Seokjin sat in silence, listening to Namjoon mutter to himself. It was a bit ridiculous, how worked up Namjoon was, but Seokjin loved it. Loved him. So he'd sit there all night and wait if need be. Thankfully, he didn’t have to wait too long because Namjoon reappeared holding the shirt in question in his hand with a confused look on his face. “This is in my size.”

 

“Yes, I bought it for you.”

 

Namjoon looked at the shirt then back at Seokjin. “But I don’t wear green.”

 

“No,” Seokjin agreed, “but you did leave that website open on your laptop with a sticky note attached so maybe I picked up a shirt for you before coming home on Friday.”

 

“You bought me a green shirt to help?” Namjoon asked, his mouth stretching into a large smile. “I thought you didn't think it mattered what I wore.”

 

Seokjin returned his smile. “I don’t, but you do.”

 

Looking at the shirt one last time, Namjoon moved to stand in front of Seokjin, only stopping when he was standing between Seokjin’s legs and his arms were resting on his shoulders, the shirt still dangling from his fingertips. The older man leaned back on his hands and looked up at Namjoon with a soft smile, one that told Namjoon everything he needed to know about Seokjin’s feelings. Like it always had. Seokjin had always been incredibly easy to read. That didn’t mean their relationship had been perfect or even easy, of course, but it did mean their issues had never come from doubting the feelings they had for one another. “I love you.”

 

“I love you too,” Seokjin replied easily, the look on his face never changing, “and tomorrow will be alright. As long as you’re there to help, nothing will go wrong, even if it goes bad.”

 

Namjoon pouted. “How are those not the same thing?”

 

With a small sigh, Seokjin shifted so he could trail his hand up Namjoon’s arm. For a moment he simply watched his own movement, then tried to explain, “Because you know he’s probably going to have a panic attack. You’ve planned for it so it’s expected. If it doesn’t happen, great, but if it does, there’s no problem. You told him that right?”

 

“Yea, of course,” Namjoon confirmed, now also watching the movement of Seokjin’s fingers. It was calming.

 

“So, objectively, him having a panic attack is bad but it’s not wrong, right?”

 

Namjoon made a sound of agreement. “I never thought about it like that.”

 

“You did, just not in those terms. You’re too smart to not have,” Seokjin praised, pressing a kiss on the inside of Namjoon’s elbow.

 

“I’m sorry you haven’t met him yet,” Namjoon murmured suddenly, knowing it was bothering him.

 

Seokjin glanced up briefly but shook his head. “It’s okay. His ex showing up and you offering a new job is a lot for anyone to handle. I can wait until he’s more settled in. It’s okay.”

 

“Have you looked into him?” Namjoon asked, looking away in embarrassment. He knew Jimin had said not to get involved but he also kinda wanted to so it was hard for him to balance those two feelings.

 

“No,” Seokjin denied, shaking his head. “I won’t interfere until I’m asked.”

 

“I know,” Namjoon admitted, frowning at himself. “I just hate him and I don’t even know him.”

 

Nodding, Seokjin’s fingers trailed up further and cupped Namjoon’s cheek. “I hate him and I don’t even know Yoongi. That’s just what being a good person is.”

 

Namjoon smiled, his eyes drifting to the shirt he still held. “This is a really nice shirt. Soft.”

 

“It’ll look good on you,” Seokjin added.

 

“I should thank you in some way,” Namjoon said, ending with a small humming sound.

 

Seokjin quirked an eyebrow, his expression finally changing from soft endearment to something a bit darker. “I can think of a few things.”

 

“Good,” Namjoon said abruptly, dropping his arms and spinning away. Seokjin’s mouth dropped open then snapped shut with a snort, falling back on the bed with a huff. Namjoon winked over his shoulder. “Keeping thinking. I’ll be back.”

 

“Like I could stop,” Seokjin called after him, his tone as warm as it was whiney, which just made Namjoon laugh as he returned to the closet and laid out the green shirt Seokjin had purchased. He smoothed his fingers over the creases he’d accidentally put in the collar and sighed. God, I hope this goes well.

 


 

From his seat at the kitchen table, Taehyung watched Yoongi fly around the kitchen, jumping between tasks. Taehyung himself had only managed to get dressed and tame his hair. Other than that, he was mostly still asleep. His head was resting in his hand and his eyes were partially closed, only open enough to lazily follow Yoongi’s movements. It was earlier than usual, since Yoongi actually had work to go to now. He was clearly trying to work off some nervous energy. It radiated off him, but it wasn’t more than anyone else who was anxious about starting a new job so Taehyung wasn’t worried. 

 

“Yoongi, why don’t you take a seat and finish eating? Your breakfast is getting cold,” Taehyung commented, gesturing to the plate Yoongi had made himself but promptly abandoned a few minutes later.

 

Yoongi spun around with wide eyes, as if only then realizing he hadn’t eaten. “Right. That would be good. Yes.”

 

Taehyung smiled and nodded. “It would.”

 

“Right,” Yoongi said again as he sat down. Taehyung watched him eat, making sure he was actually eating, before getting up and taking his own plate to the sink. He began washing it, only for Yoongi to jump up. “I can—”

 

“Sit. Eat,” Taehyung ordered, pointing to the chair Yoongi had just vacated. The older man frowned at him, looking at the sink then back up at him before nodding and returning to his place. Taehyung hummed in satisfaction then continued to wash the dishes. “Just bring me yours when you finish. That way you can go get ready before  Jimin is done.”

 

“Oh, okay. Thanks,” Yoongi hesitantly agreed as he rubbed his hands on the thighs of his pyjamas. Generally, he was already dressed when he made breakfast but since he was going to work and he didn't want his work clothes to smell like cooking, he’d remained in his pyjamas. Finishing eating quickly so Jimin wouldn’t have to wait for him, Yoongi finished off his breakfast and slid the plate under Taehyung’s arm and into the sink before dashing towards his room.

 

“Remember to dress warm! Just because there’s no snow doesn’t mean it’s not winter!” Taehyung called out.

 

“Wow,” Jimin muttered as he stepped into the kitchen and grabbed the breakfast Yoongi had left for him. “That was the most mom thing I’ve ever heard.”

 

Taehyung frowned. “Please don’t call me his mom.”

 

“Might make the whole wanting to bone him thing awkward,” Jimin admitted, nodding

 

“What the fuck,” Taehyung hissed, spinning around as his eyes darted around like Yoongi would suddenly appear with a confused frown on his face. “I did not tell you about that so you could bring it up while he was home.”

 

Jimin hummed around the food in his mouth, only raising an eyebrow while he chewed. Taehyung continued to glare at him, so once he’d swallowed, he shrugged. “I figured you were going to bury it so deep your feelings never saw the light of day again. Just keeping you on your toes.”

 

“Jimin,” Taehyung said seriously, leaning on the counter and crossing his arms. “We agreed.”

 

“Oh, definitely. I don’t think now is the right time at all,” Jimin nodded.

 

Taehyung sighed before grabbing the cup of coffee he’d placed off to the side when he’d begun doing dishes. He took a sip, eyeing Jimin all the while, then asked. “Then what are you doing?”

 

“Like I said, just making sure you’re not pretending those feelings don’t exist.”

 

“Are you going to keep doing this until I tell him?” 

 

Jimin made another humming sound, tilting his head from side to side, “No probably not. I’m kinda just enjoying teasing you right now if I’m going to be honest. Now that I’m not worried, it’s fun.”

 

“I hate you so much,” Taehyung muttered, taking another sip of his coffee.

 

“Awe, don’t be so mean to Jiminie, he doesn’t have any other friends,” Yoongi chastised, reentering the kitchen. “Sorry for making you wait, Jimin.”

 

“It’s good, I’m eating anyway. I wasn’t waiting,” Jimin assured, pointedly ignoring the choked sound Taehyung had let out when Yoongi appeared. Jimin had done a good thing bringing Yoongi out to buy new clothes. By the time they’d left, Jimin had ensured that Yoongi had enough new clothes so he could mix and match at least two weeks' worth of outfits. Yoongi hadn’t been overly pleased about it, repeatedly telling him it was too much and it didn’t matter, but a determined Jimin was an unmovable force so he’d eventually relented. Yoongi was now wearing what Jimin had easily known was his favourite outfit. Mostly because it was simple and black and could go with anything. It also made his skin look amazing. Judging by the look on Taehyung’s face, he agreed.

 

Yoongi wasn’t oblivious though, so he noticed Taehyung’s prolonged silence and turned to him as he awkwardly scratched this nose. “Is it… um, not good?”

 

“What?” Taehyung asked, then catching up to Yoongi’s question he shook his head. “No, it’s very good! I just, uh, I’ve never seen your waist?”

 

Frowning now, Yoongi looked down at himself. The shirt he’d picked out was tighter than any of the clothes he’d worn since coming to Seoul but it wasn’t out of his realm of comfort. He liked the feeling of a simple button-up and he preferred they were tucked in since he didn’t like when they hung loosely. Unless that was the look he was going for, which was a different thing entirely. “Is it too tight? Maybe I should—”

 

“No! No, it’s fine, Yoongi. Seriously. I was just surprised. You usually wear more of the ‘swallow me whole’ style of shirts and I was just surprised. Seriously, you look good!” Taehyung assured, mentally berating himself for being such a moron. It wasn’t his fault okay? The Yoongi he was familiar with wore comfy sweaters the only his fingertips stuck out of. He always looked like he was wrapped in a blanket and content. He had not been prepared or warned that business Yoongi with fitted slacks and tucked-in button-downs existed and he was not okay. I couldn’t have remained oblivious until after I had gotten used to this style change? Fuck me.

 

“If you’re sure,” Yoongi allowed, pulling awkwardly on his sleeve. “I don’t want to leave a bad impression.”

 

“Oh, you certainly won’t do that,” Jimin told him, finally deciding to join the conversation. He threw Taehyung a look that said learn to control yourself then smiled at Yoongi, “and with that black peacoat I grabbed, you’ll look like everyone’s CEO fantasy.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened. “I thought I said no coat!”

 

“It’s winter, like Taehyung said!” Jimin defended. “You need a good coat. Especially if you end up walking anywhere.”

 

“I suppose,” Yoongi relented, already mentally tabulating how much of his first paycheck he was going to give Jimin and Taehyung. He didn’t actually know what his salary was, he hadn’t asked, but he figured most, if not all, of it was going to them. It was the least he could do. 

 

“Alright, say bye to Tae, we have a job to get to!” Jimin declared, hooking his arm through Yoongi’s and spinning him around. Yoongi looked over his shoulder and waved anyway, a large, gummy smile on his face. Taehyung waved back easily, his posture relaxed. Once he heard the door close, he placed his now empty cup in the sink and walked towards his room. When he was there, he grabbed his pillow and screamed into it, then put it down gently and went about the remainder of his morning routine. 

 

A fucking button-down, who knew?

 


 

Since Jimin and Taehyung had chosen an apartment complex that was between both their jobs, it wasn’t a long drive, in fact, Yoongi was sure he could walk it most days, but it was long enough for Yoongi’s anxiety to skyrocket. By the time they were standing outside, Yoongi was tense and unsure. He wanted to flee, to return to the comfort and safety of the apartment and Taehyung’s soft smile and his routine. He knew he couldn’t, that he really didn’t want to, but he couldn’t help thinking about it. Jimin watched him carefully but didn’t comment. Not until they were standing in the lobby.

 

“Namjoonie-hyung said he’d come to get you so you can get your I.D. card,” Jimin told him, glancing at his phone. “He should be down in a few minutes.”

 

“Okay,” Yoongi agreed, once again wiping his palms on his slacks. People were looking at him, watching him, and he didn’t know why. Do they know? Do they see?

 

Noticing Yoongi’s frantic glances at nearby people, Jimin leaned in. “They think you’re hot, hyung. You look good.”

 

“I— really? Are you sure?” Yoongi asked, once again looking around. He caught one man’s eye and he smirked at him. Yoongi blinked in surprise. He recognized that look, he wasn’t stupid. Oh. “I-it’s been a while.”

 

“Might want to get used to it,” Jimin told him easily, even as he carefully watched Yoongi’s reactions. He didn’t seem bothered by the attention, which was good. Jimin had been worried about that aspect of Yoongi’s relationship with Minhyuk; Yoongi didn’t talk about it and Jimin wasn’t sure if he could ask, but it worried him. Much more so now that he knew Taehyung was aware of his own feelings. He trusted Taehyung to not pressure Yoongi, or even bring his feelings up honestly, but it was at the forefront of his mind now regardless.

 

Yoongi smiled and ducked his head, once again scratching his nose in a clear sign of awkwardness. “Maybe.”

 

They lapsed into silence after that, both waiting for Namjoon to come. It had been nearly five minutes but he was nowhere in sight. Jimin grimaced, looking at his watch then Yoongi. Hearing a ding, he looked at the elevator, hoping to see Namjoon but he wasn’t among the people filing out. I could probably be a bit late, Jimin reasoned, it’s probably fine. Yoongi seemed to catch on though and squeezed Jimin’s arm. “I’m okay. You can go to work.”

 

“No, I can—”

 

“Jimin, it’s fine. Go.”

 

Once again scanning Yoongi’s face, Jimin eventually relented, only leaving once he’d given him a hug. “Have a good day. I’m so proud of you, hyung. Come find me if you need anything.”

 

“I will, now go.”

 

With one last squeeze, Jimin practically fled the lobby, clearly more late than he’d let on. Yoongi watched him go with a shake of his head. He felt alone now, uncomfortable, but that was just how he was in most public spaces. He never knew what to do with himself when he didn't have someone to talk to or something to distract him. Since he didn't have a phone, he couldn’t even pretend there was something riveting on it. Thankfully, Namjooon showed up a few minutes later and saved him from his misery, “sorry, hyung! I forgot something in my studio.”

 

“It’s okay. Jimin had to run though.”

 

“He texted me,” Namjoon said in way of agreement. “Um, this is for you!”

 

Yoongi furrowed his brows at the sweater in Namjoon’s hands. It was large, clearly something built for someone Namjoon’s size and not Yoongi’s. He could see the label name printed on the pocket, but it was faded, like it had been washed and well used. “A sweater?”

 

Licking his lips, Namjoon hesitated. “I, um, read somewhere sometimes people need, um, like a comfort thing when they’re anxious and I figured you wouldn’t wear a huge sweater on your first day, so I, uh, thought you could use this. If, um, you need it.”

 

“A comfort thing,” Yoongi repeated, blinking rapidly. He had this feeling in his chest that made him want to cry, but he realized it was in a good way. That confused him, but he wasn’t sad so he figured it was fine. He didn’t think he was the type to hide when he was uncomfortable, but he also wasn’t super aware of what he did when he was. Maybe Namjoon had noticed something at their dinner? Yoongi wasn’t sure, but he was thankful so he took the offered sweater and smiled. “Thank you, Namjoon.”

 

Suddenly even more awkward, Namjoon nodded. “It’s no problem.”

 

Yoongi pulled the sweater closer to his chest, “It means a lot to me.”

 

Namjoon’s eyes flicked to Yoongi’s then he nodded again. “Okay, let’s get you signed in and then I can show you around.”

 

“Works for me,” Yoongi agreed. The whole process was fairly painless so within a few minutes Yoongi had given some personal information, gotten his photo taken, and was issued a temporary I.D. card until his personalized one could be issued. After that, Namjoon showed him around the building, pointing out places he’d be able to frequent like where he could get food or drinks, the area where they’d recently established a library for staff, and places other sections worked in like the vocal trainers and dance instructors. He caught sight of both Hoseok and Jimin working but didn’t bother them. He did pause at the entrance for the studio Hoseok was working in though. “Wow, I didn’t think he could look that serious.”

 

Following his line of sight, Namjoon nodded upon seeing Hoseok carefully monitoring the group he was working with. “Yea, when it comes to dance, he’s nothing but serious. I always say I can’t decide if it’s hot or scary.”

 

“Hot,” Yoongi decided fairly quickly, only to whip around with wide eyes. “I mean—”

 

But Namjoon only laughed. “Yea, that’s what Jin says too! I’m torn though since he’s actually tried to teach me to dance and it was… an adventure to say the least.”

 

Yoongi smiled slightly. “Not good?”

 

“No, not good,” Namjoon confirmed, shuddering at the memory. “Now, onto the best place in this whole building: the PD studios.”

 

Without comment, Yoongi followed Namjoon as he led them back to the elevator and pressed the floor his studio was on. Yoongi was suddenly very thankful for the sweater because it gave him something to do with his hands. He hadn’t been aware of the way he’d been shifting it around and playing with it the entire tour, but Namjoon was, so he noticed when the movements became more agitated. Yoongi was clearly getting more nervous but trying to hide it. 

 

Slowly, Namjoon stepped off the elevator and guided Yoongi down the hallway. He pointed out other studios and another break room, but it fell on deaf ears. Yoongi hadn’t heard a single thing since they arrived on this floor. The rest of the building had been so different, so much more than his previous label that he hadn’t really made any connections between the two but this floor… this floor looked the same. He supposed that made sense. That any floor with several soundproofed rooms lined up would look more or less the same but it was only now hitting him that he was at a music label. That he was going to enter a room made for music. He felt his breath shorten and did his best to regulate his own breathing but it wasn’t really helping. If anything, he only began to focus on his own breathing which made him panic about how loudly and quickly he was breathing which made him panic more. It was like a vicious loop that he couldn’t break himself out of. 

 

“Hey, hyung, do you want to grab a coffee?” Namjoon asked, his soft touch on Yoongi’s shoulder breaking him out of his panicked you’re breathing too much spiral.

 

“W-what?”

 

“I could use a coffee, let me show you the break room! It has free drinks and snacks,” Namjoon told him, already leading him away. Yoongi followed in a daze, barely focused enough to put one foot in front of the other. Eventually, he found himself sitting at a table drinking a canned coffee while Namjoon leaned against a counter.

 

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi murmured, frowning down at the can he hadn’t even remembered opening.

 

“For what?”

 

“We didn’t even go inside,” Yoongi continued. “Maybe this was a bad idea.”

 

Namjoon frowned. “If you want to leave, I’ll take you home but only if you want to, not because you think you’ve inconvenienced me in some way.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes darted up before returning to the top of his can and repeated. “But we didn’t even go inside.”

 

“What did I tell you before? I don’t care how long it takes, hyung. I don’t mind. I want to be here. I want you to be here. Okay?”

 

“Okay,” Yoongi agreed weakly, though he was still unsure. He felt like such an inconvenience. He knew Namjoon would probably be in the middle of working on a song or in a meeting with an artist or doing something worthy of his time if Yoongi wasn’t here. But he was and now Namjoon had to hang around him until he figured it out. “Should we… try again?”

 

“Only when you feel like you’re ready,” Namjoon agreed, sipping his own coffee.

 

Yoongi nodded without making eye contact and focused on his breathing like he usually did when he felt upset or a panic attack coming. It was steady now, easy, which he took as a good sign, but he still felt jittery. He figured the coffee probably didn’t help that but he ignored that and slowly went about finishing his drink. When he was done, he stood up and looked at Namjoon. “Okay, I’m good.”

 

“Alright then,” Namjoon said, tossing their cans into the recycling. “Tell me if you need a break.”

 

“I will,” Yoongi promised, once again following Namjoon towards his studio. The closer he got, the tighter his chest felt but this time he saw it coming so he focused on regulating his breathing. It was hard, especially as they stopped in front of the door, but he was doing better. At least he thought so. Namjoon glanced at Yoongi, then punched in his code when he saw Yoongi nod. When his door beeped, Namjoon pushed open the door and stepped back, letting Yoongi look inside. 

 

There was a pause. No one spoke or said anything. The only sound was the gentle humming of Namjoon’s equipment. Namjoon watched the back of Yoongi’s head for a signal of how he was doing. At first, there was nothing. Yoongi simply stood there and looked inside, then his back tensed and the sweater he’d been holding onto dropped to the floor. Namjoon had a moment to react before Yoongi’s whole body folded into itself and he was curled up on the floor, his face tucked into his knees and his hands threaded through his hair. 

 

“Shit,” Namjoon cursed before jumping in front of Yoongi and crouching down. Yoongi was still on his feet, simply huddled into his legs, as if making himself smaller would make him feel better. Namjoon had expected this, had planned for it, but seeing it first hand was something else. It wasn’t even close to what he’d seen that night at dinner or when Yoongi had started to hyperventilate a half-hour before. This was so much different. 

 

Trying to recall everything he’d read on the internet about helping someone with a panic attack, Namjoon settled onto the floor and crossed his legs. He didn’t touch him, unwilling to do so when he didn’t know what Yoongi wanted, but he could help him breathe. Right now it was erratic and choppy, so Namjoon began to speak slowly and calmly. “Hyung, I’m right here. Breathe with me. In... Out... In... Out... Are you breathing with me, hyung? Can you hear me? If you can, breathe with me. In... Out... You’re doing so good. You got this. In and out, just like that.”

 

At first, he didn’t know if it was working and he felt useless, like he was talking to someone who needed actual help instead of getting someone who could actually provide help. But as he spoke, he started to notice Yoongi's body reacting to his voice. Just a small twitch at first, then a nod when he asked if Yoongi could hear him, then he began to match Namjoon’s slow and steady breathing. It wasn’t smooth at first, sometimes he could only do it for one or two inhales before he devolved into something more erratic, but eventually, he was breathing normally, even if he hadn’t moved from his crouched position. Namjoon didn’t stop doing what he was doing though, he simply sat there and continued talking to Yoongi quietly, guiding him through the breathing exercise he’d seen on YouTube. 

 

Enough time had passed that Namjoon felt like his butt was going to go numb from sitting on the hard ground when he heard a small, ragged voice. “I’m sorry.”

 

“There’s nothing to be sorry for, remember?” Namjoon reminded him. “10, 100, 1000, I don’t care.”

 

“I’m still sorry,” Yoongi insisted, his head still tucked away.

 

“What do you need now?”  Namjoon asked, remembering the guide had told him to always ask what the person needed.

 

“I just need to sit down. Maybe some water.”

 

“Okay,” Namjoon agreed. “I have a couch, but it’s inside. Can you do that?”

 

Yoongi paused for a second, genuinely unsure, before nodding. “Yes. Can you lead me there?”

 

“Of course,” Namjoon said quickly, gently helping Yoongi up and guiding him to the couch. Once he was seated, Yoongi bent down again, putting his head between his knees. Namjoon quickly grabbed a water bottle from his minifridge and uncapped it, holding it by Yoongi’s face. The older man took it and drank half without opening his eyes only to put his head right back between his legs. Namjoon bit his lip, unsure, then sat in his chair across from Yoongi and placed a hand on Yoongi’s shoulder. Yoongi tensed, surprised, and Namjoon almost moved away, but then he relaxed, leaning into the weight so Namjoon remained where he was. 

 

Namjoon wasn’t sure how long they sat there. He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket, had for some time now, but he ignored it. He had purposefully cancelled all his appointments for the day so that he could be with Yoongi if needed so he knew whoever was trying to get a hold of him wasn’t important right now. At some point, Namjoon had started making comforting circular motions with his hand. He wasn’t even really aware of it, he just knew that’s what he liked Seokjin to do when he was upset, so he started doing it too. Since Yoongi didn’t complain, Namjoon figured it was okay.

 

“I’m going to sit up now,” Yoongi said, his voice sounding much more level than it had previously.

 

“Okay,” Namjoon said, pulling his hand away and moving back so Yoongi had more space. The smaller man sat up slowly, his eyes still closed. He remained like that for a few minutes, his eyes closed and breathing even, then he opened them. Namjoon watched him carefully. He saw the moment Yoongi’s pupils blew wide and his shoulders hiked up as if to defend himself, but his breathing only sped up a bit. Faster than normal but not a worrying level. When he remained mostly calm, Namjoon spoke again. “What do you need right now?”

 

Yoongi’s eyes darted to him then away, focusing on the monitor right in front of him in the middle of Namjoon’s setup. “Nothing. I just need… time. I think. To just be here. Is that— I know you need—”

 

“That’s fine,” Namjoon agreed quickly. “I blocked off today for you already, hyung.”

 

“W-what?” Yoongi asked, once again looking at Namjoon, who was pleased to see Yoongi’s breathing had settled again.

 

“I said, today is about you. About making sure you’re comfortable here. I wasn’t kidding when I said I don’t care how long it takes. I’m here for you.”

 

“I-I-I— why?” Yoongi asked, honestly confused. It didn't make sense that Namjoon cared this much. It just didn’t.

 

“Because you’re a good person, hyung, and I think people like that deserve help and friends, don’t you?”

 

“But you barely know me,” Yoongi pointed out, finally voicing the question that he’d been too afraid to ask when Namjoon had offered him the job in the first place.

 

“I’m a great judge of character,” Namjoon said simply, “Ask anyone. And even if I wasn’t, Jimin, Taehyung, and Jungkook value and love you, so I see no reason not to put at least a little faith in you and your abilities.”

 

Hearing that didn’t erase Yoongi’s worries, but it did make him feel a bit more comfortable, a bit less like a burden or a charity project. He wasn’t sure if he could do this, if he’d be able to continue coming into this room until there was a point he didn’t panic, but as he felt his heart rate finally settle, Yoongi found himself nodding. “I won’t let you down.”

 

“No matter what,” Namjoon said firmly, “you won’t. Please remember that. Stay here or don’t, either way, you won’t be letting me down. You won’t be letting anyone down.”

 

Yoongi bit his lip and straightened his shoulders. “I’d be letting me down. I can do this.”

 

Namjoon smiled brightly. “Then let’s do this!”


“Yes,” Yoongi agreed as firmly as possible. He could still feel it. The anxiety and panic and tension. It was like waking up in Jimin’s apartment all over again. Like if he made one false move, said one wrong thing, he’d be thrown out and ridiculed, finally shown his place. But unlike before, he knew he had a place to go now. He knew he had people to help him, Namjoon included. So he forced himself to breathe deeply and return Namjoon’s smile. “Yes, let’s do this.”

Chapter Text

Taehyung liked to consider himself a person who knew fashion and could dress pretty much anyone well. He was firm in that belief. Years of adjusting models and creating thematic unity on set had given him more than enough practice. He was finding, much to his displeasure, that none of that mattered when choosing aprons. First of all, why were there so many cuts and sizes? What was the difference? Don’t even get him started on patterns and frills. He found himself frowning at two different aprons that he thought looked exactly the same but had a substantial price difference and wanted to scream. What am I even looking at?

 

The original plan had been simple enough. He’d noticed that Yoongi always used the apron they had at home but it was old and clearly didn’t fit Yoongi properly. He’d idly thought about buying a new one but never gone through with it. Now that Yoongi was at his first day of work, he’d figured now was the perfect time. He could get him a nice one as a gift. It was something frivolous that Yoongi would never buy himself and Taehyung was convinced it was a good idea. Or had been. Until about ten minutes ago anyway.

 

“Can I help you with something, sir?” A pleasant sales associate asked, her expression doing nothing to hide the amusement in her eyes.

 

Taehyung frowned at the two packages in his hand again. “What’s the difference?”

 

“Oh, the one on the right is flame retardant,” she explained, gesturing to a small flame-shaped symbol in the corner. “Hence the price.”

 

“Flame retardant. That’s… probably a good idea,” Taehyung muttered, his brows furrowing as he thought about it. Yoongi never cooked anything that had to do with fire, but accidents happen so it couldn't hurt to be careful, right?

 

“Is this a gift, sir?” The saleswoman asked, smiling slightly now. She could tell he was trying really hard to find the right thing, so she decided she could help him out. There was no commission here, so theoretically she could just leave him behind, but he looked so confused and it wasn’t busy anyway.

 

“I— yes,” Taehyung admitted, laughing at himself a bit. “That obvious?”

 

“Yes, you looked very focused,” she admitted.

 

“I don’t cook, but he loves it and the apron we have now is a hand-me-down. I wanted to get him something nice. He just started a new job,” Taehyung explained, rambling an explanation with far too much information.

 

But the saleswoman didn’t mind. “I see. Well, why don’t we start with size? How big is he?”

 

Taehyung blinked, suddenly remembering just how small Yoongi had looked in form-fitting clothing. “Um, about your size? Broader in the shoulders but he’s small.”

 

“Okay, I fit into everything in this section,” the woman explained, pointing to everything marked ‘medium.’

 

“But he’s taller than you,” Taehyung added, contemplating the options. This is where he got lost before. Why were there so many options? Since when were aprons so complicated? 

 

“That’s fine, there’s a short and long length. Now, what colour?”

 

“Colour,” Taehyung repeated, scanning. “He wears a lot of black and navy. Dark colours.”

 

“That’s good for an apron so it won’t show stains,” she agreed. “If he wears darker colours, maybe a simple black would be best.”

 

Taehyung frowned. “Isn’t that a little… plain?”

 

The woman smiled. “We could add something.”

 

“What?” Taehyung asked, looking over as he grabbed a longer black apron marked flame retardant.

 

“Well,” the sales associate hesitated, glancing between Taehyung and the box he held. “We do customization for napkins. As gifts for weddings and tables at higher-end restaurants. We don’t usually do aprons, but I could put his name on the pocket, if you wanted?”

 

Taehyung’s eyes widened. “Would you get in trouble?”

 

“No, no,” the woman said, waving her hand. “It’s just not something we advertise. As long as I charge the standard fee for the napkins, it’ll be fine.”

 

“I-I’d really like that,” Taehyung admitted, smiling shyly. “If it wouldn’t be too much trouble.”

 

The associate shook her head and grabbed the box, “None at all. This is the one?”

 

“Yes, please.”

 

“What’s his name?” She asked, grabbing the customization card and circling ‘customer-owned napkin’ so the form wouldn’t stand out from the rest when they were checked later.

 

“Min Yoongi.”

 


 

Making his way into the break room for no other reason than hunting Jimin down, Hoseok poked his head inside and then entered fully when he saw Jimin seated in the corner munching on a granola bar and playing on his phone. Hoseok sat across from him and leaned on his hand, watching Jimin silently. Every so often, Jimin would flick his eyes up then return them to his phone, not bothering to question why Hoseok was simply staring at him. Eventually, he got frustrated though and set his phone down with a sigh. “Yes, hyung?”

 

“Hmm, it’s Yoongi-hyung’s first day is it not?”

 

“It is,” Jimin agreed, his eyes leaving Hoseok’s and focusing on the second granola bar he had just then decided he needed to have.

 

“Are you going to go see him?”

 

“No,” Jimin said, shaking his head, “he needs to try on his own.”

 

Hoseok nodded in understanding. “Have you checked in with Namjoon?”

 

“No,” Jimin said again, “I don’t want him to feel like I don’t trust him to be on his own. He wanted to do this so I’m stepping back.”

 

Leaning backward and crossing his arms, Hoseok nodded again. “But you’re worried.”

 

“Of course I am!” Jimin snapped, frustrated at both himself for his worry being so obvious and Hoseok for pointing it out. “Why are you interrogating me?”

 

“I’m not,” Hoseok denied, “I’m simply asking you about what’s going on.”

 

“Feels that way,” Jimin muttered, abruptly standing up and rounding the table. 

 

Hoseok watched him go then sighed. He’d come to find Jimin for a reason. “Look, I heard something and I’m asking if you want to know.”

 

Pausing, Jimin pursed his lips in contemplation. It was obviously about Yoongi. There was no other reason for Hoseok to seek him out when they were working with different idol groups today. He meant what he’d said. He didn’t want to interfere in Yoongi’s adjustment to his new workplace. But Hoseok was also right and he was worried, so he nodded. “Tell me.”

 

“One of the kids I’m working with today had a recording session. He said he saw a guy collapse and was super worried about it. He didn’t recognize him but he saw Namjoon.”

 

“Yoongi-hyung,” Jimin murmured, biting his lip.

 

Hoseok nodded. “I would assume so. He said Namjoon was talking to him but didn’t seem worried so he came back to rejoin the group.”

 

“He didn’t look worried?” Jimin repeated, crossing his arms. “Hyung said he looked into panic attacks and Jin-hyung said he chose to wear green because it was calming. Maybe that’s why?”

 

“Probably,” Hoseok agreed easily, watching Jimin’s reaction to the news that Yoongi had likely had a panic attack outside Namjoon’s studio. Jimin didn’t look surprised, but then again, Hoseok hadn’t been either when he heard the story. Everyone had known it could happen, which was why Namjoon had taken extra steps to be prepared.

 

“But he didn’t leave. Namjoon-hyung would have told me, so that’s a good thing. I think,” Jimin decided, nodding firmly as if to convince himself.

 

“I’m sure it is,” Hoseok agreed again, even as his mind drifted. He couldn’t imagine what it must be like for Yoongi. He’d had a hard enough time when he and Namjoon had shown up for dinner. Throwing himself into a totally new environment surrounded by things that were clearly triggering for him seemed like a bad idea but Hoseok supposed he didn’t know enough about Yoongi to make that choice. He did promise himself that he’d drop in to visit though, sometime during the week. He understood why Jimin was hanging back but Hoseok was under no such restriction. He’d drop in and see how things were going and provide a distraction if necessary. He already did as much for Namjoon when he got too wrapped up in work and Seokjin wanted him to make sure he was actually eating, so it wouldn’t be a hardship nor an inconvenience. After all, what were friends for?

 


 

By the time Namjoon dropped him off at his apartment, Yoongi was exhausted. He hadn’t done anything meaningful all day, he knew that, but simply being in that room, surrounded by equipment he’d once known like the back of his hand was physically draining. He’d managed to keep the outright panic to a minimum, but he’d had to focus on keeping himself steady most of the day. Though he’d told himself it was the same as when he’d arrived at Jimin’s, he was now realizing it wasn’t. At least when he’d arrived there, he’d been able to fall back on familiar routines and ease himself into a new life step-by-step. Faced with Namjoon’s studio and a new job, he had none of that. Everything was new and the only thing he could ‘fall back on’ was the things the previous Yoongi had done. The things the Yoongi who hadn’t broken under Minhyuk’s constant ridicule had done. He wasn’t that person now and just remembering the ease with which he’d done things before had nearly sent him into one too many spirals.

 

Namjoon had said it was okay, that Yoongi was doing better than he’d expected, but that didn’t stop Yoongi from worrying. A whole day lost. He hadn’t seen Namjoon do one productive thing all day because he’d been too focused on making sure Yoongi was okay. He was a distraction and he’d said as much when Namjoon pulled into the drop-off lane of Yoongi’s building.

 

“Do you want me to come back?” Yoongi asked, picking at his slacks.

 

“Of course. As long as you want to be there, I’ll be happy to have you,” Namjoon answered honestly.

 

Yoongi continued to fiddle with his pants, exhaustion settling even deeper on his shoulders. He was tired and felt useless and for some reason, Namjoon didn’t seem to care, “I distracted you all day.”

 

“Yup!” Namjoon agreed happily. “Do you not remember that being, like, the main reason for me getting an assistant? So I didn’t work as much?”

 

“I-I guess but I’m sure that’s not—”

 

“Yoongi-hyung,” Namjoon interrupted, putting the car into park so he could turn to Yoongi and face him directly, “you are, in no way, shape, or form, a burden, interruption, distraction, or hindrance. Stop letting that little voice in your head that we both know isn’t your own tell you that you are. If I’m inconvenienced, I promise I will tell you. I will never lie to you about that, okay?”

 

Yoongi nodded shyly and repeated. “You promise to tell me?”

 

“I promise,” Namjoon said again, smiling. “And in the spirit of full disclosure, this is the first time in over a month I’ve made him home at a decent time. Jin thought I was joking when I told him I was headed home. He’s already in love with you.”

 

“I don’t know about that,” Yoongi laughed, his shoulders rising in embarrassment.

 

“You’ll see eventually. Until then you’ll just have to trust me. Getting me home before midnight is a miracle, you’re already doing your job.”

 

“If you say so,” Yoongi allowed even as he felt heat rise in his cheeks. He’d never been praised so much in such a short period of time. It made him feel a bit embarrassed but he found he liked it. “Thanks for the ride home.”

 

“No problem. Jimin is going to be another few hours at least. No point in you waiting around when I’m literally going to drive by your place. Have a good night and I’ll see you tomorrow!”

 

“See you then,” Yoongi agreed as he exited the vehicle and hurried to the apartment entrance. As Taehyung had warned, winter had come in with a biting cold even if the sunny skies and lack of snow were deceiving. He should have worn the new coat, but it had seemed like too much in the morning. He promised himself he’d wear it tomorrow though.

 

Moving faster than he usually did, Yoongi made it to the elevator and then the apartment door in record time. He wanted to eat and go to bed as soon as possible. Knowing he’d have to cook something first made him consider going to bed without food, but Taehyung and Jimin needed dinner too so he resigned himself to cooking even as his bones ached in phantom pain brought on by how tense he’d been the entire day. 

 

The closer he got to his bed, the more tired he became. By the time he took off his shoes, his eyelids were drooping, which just told him he couldn’t go to his room otherwise he’d just go to bed. With that in mind, Yoongi made a beeline for the kitchen already running through recipes that were quick and easy. He spotted a box on the table but paid it little mind as he scanned the fridge for possible ingredients so he could narrow down dinner options. Settling on a stirfry to use up the remaining vegetables Jimin and Taehyung had purchased only to not eat yet again, Yoongi stepped back intent on getting to work. The box caught his eye again, and this time he stepped closer to inspect it. 

 

The box was fancier than he’d realized, clearly a gift box. It had sparkles on it that Yoongi instinctively knew would shed and permanently attach themselves to everything the recipient owned. Frowning, Yoongi opened the small name card attached only to drop it when he saw his own name in Taehyung’s handwriting. It was for him.

 

A gift? But why? Yoongi wondered, looking around for Taehyung as if he already hadn’t seen that Taehyung’s shoes weren’t by the door indicating he wasn’t home yet. Unsure, Yoongi hesitated. Should I open it? Yoongi’s fingers traced the bow delicately, enjoying the feeling of stiff ribbon under his fingers. It was a pretty colour of royal blue that he’d been told more than once suited his skin tone. He wondered if that was why Taehyung had picked it, but quickly shook off the thought and pulled on the tail, unravelling the bow. Slowly, Yoongi pulled the ribbon off the package and set it to the side. He paused then, still unsure, wasn’t it polite to open things in front of the gift giver? But then why did he leave it out? He knew you’d come here first. Somewhat mollified by his own rationale, Yoongi gently lifted the lid and set it aside next to the ribbon. 

 

For a moment, Yoongi wasn’t sure what he was seeing. All his mind registered was his own name stitched in an elegant font with silver thread that shimmered underneath the kitchen lights. Yoongi traced the characters of his own name, his hands shaking. Three simple characters. That was all. But it hit him hard, like a vise on his heart. He didn’t even know what they were on but he wanted to cry. Blinking rapidly, Yoongi picked up the fabric and held it up, the parts he wasn’t touching falling free. An apron, Yoongi realized, somewhat surprised. He got me a personalized apron. Yoongi had one moment of shock and then his face crumpled. My own apron. Mine. He didn’t know why it mattered so much, it was stupid, but it did. Without thinking, he crushed the apron to his face and sank to the ground, his fingers tightly tangled in the fabric as he cried It has my name on it.

 

This is how Taehyung found him when he returned home. He’d stopped to get take-out on the way back, knowing Yoongi would be tired after his first day, so he was a little later than usual. He was in the middle of taking off his shoes without putting down the bags of food when he heard quiet sobbing coming from the general direction of the kitchen. Panicked, Taehyung ran towards the sound, tripping over his own shoes as they finally came all the way off. “Yoongi!?”

 

When he received no answer, Taehyung picked up speed only to skid to a halt just inside the kitchen. In the centre of the floor, Yoongi was kneeling with his face buried in a bundle of black fabric. Taehyung immediately looked for the box and, seeing that it was open, set down the food and moved closer to Yoongi slowly. “Yoongi? Are you okay?”

 

There was a sniffling sound then the apron dropped from Yoongi’s face. He looked at Taehyung, his eyes red-rimmed and puffy, and his skin blotchy. “Y-yes.”

 

Taehyung smiled gently and tucked some loose hair behind Yoongi’s ear. “Are you sure?”

 

“N-no,” Yoongi admitted, sniffing again, “It has my name on it.”

 

“Yes,” Taehyung agreed, his expression still soft, “because it’s yours.”

 

Yoongi hiccuped, his breathing stuttering again as a new round of tears overwhelmed him. “I-I n-never had a-anything f-for m-me.”

 

Not understanding, Taehyung furrowed his brows. “What do you mean, Yoongi?”

 

“H-he b-bought e-everything f-for him. T-this i-is f-for m-me,” Yoongi tried to explain, having come to the conclusion that he was so emotional over the apron because it was something that was just for him. Everything about his life before had been chosen by Minhyuk. The apartment location, the decor and overall design, even his clothing and the types of food he cooked. As he’d realized while in Taehyung’s room before, there had been nothing of Yoongi in that place. Nothing was his and that’s why when he’d left the only things he had taken were the things he’d picked out himself: his makeup and a few sweaters he’d had for years. Nothing else was his. Absolutely nothing. Minhyuk had never deigned to give him something that was his. But since coming here, Jungkook had gotten him sweaters he’d picked out and Jimin had brought him shopping for clothing he liked and now Taehyung had gotten him something that only he could wear. It was his and no one else’s. So he tried to explain. “T-this i-is o-only m-mine.”

 

“Yoongi,” Taehyung said on a sigh, using the hand he’d left near Yoongi’s ear to shift him closer. Yoongi leaned into it, clutching Taehyung’s shirt and burying his face there too. It was a familiar position, one that Taehyung found himself in often with Yoongi. But he couldn’t help but notice both times Yoongi had sought comfort from him due to positive emotions, not negative, so as he pressed a soft kiss on the crown of Yoongi’s head, he smiled. “I didn’t mean to make you cry. I just wanted to get you a gift. To celebrate your new job.”

 

“I-I know. Sorry for crying,” Yoongi mumbled, finally managing to bring himself back under control. “I can’t stop it sometimes.”

 

“It’s okay. I don’t mind,” Taehyung assured. “Cry all the happy tears you want.”

 

“D-dangerous,” Yoongi told him and Taehyung could hear the smile in his voice, which only served to make his own smile wider as Yoongi shifted. “Is that dinner?”

 

“Oh, yea,” Taehyung said, looking at the bags he’d all but forgotten about. “It’s just Chinese. I grabbed Panda Express on the way home. Figured you’d be tired after your first day.”

 

Yoongi nodded, his forehead still pressed against Taehyung’s chest. “I’m so tired.”

 

“Then why don’t you go get changed while I pull all this out that way you can go right to bed after.”

 

“Are you sure?” Yoongi wondered, moving backward and looking down at the apron he still held.

 

Taehyung placed a hand over Yoongi’s. “The apron can wait, don’t worry. Go get changed.”

 

“Mmm, okay,” Yoongi agreed, his exhaustion making him less likely to insist than he usually would be. Taehyung smiled after him, watching the way he placed the apron back in the box delicately, his fingers lingering on the lettering, before waddling out of the kitchen. He moved slower when he was tired, swayed back and forth more, so Taehyung decided ‘waddle’ was the only way to describe it. 

 

He stared at the place Yoongi had disappeared, still sitting on the ground, and sighed at himself. He was realizing that the way he acted around Yoongi wasn’t all that platonic. He hadn’t changed his behaviour, having promised himself he would never do that to Yoongi, and it was so obvious how he felt. Taehyung had no idea how he hadn’t noticed it himself. How Yoongi hadn’t noticed. It made him hesitate a bit, wondering if he was overstepping boundaries, but he forced himself to move past it. If Yoongi didn’t have a problem with his behaviour, he wouldn't change the way he treated him. Even if Jimin was giving him the longest side-eyes now that he was more comfortable with the situation.

 

Taehyung wasn’t sure how he’d forgotten his best friend was nothing if not a shit disturber. He thrived on teasing people when he knew it was harmless. Since Yoongi had come, Jimin had been on better behaviour, but now that things had settled it seemed he was back to his normal behaviour. As he set out the last of the containers, Taehyung pursed his lips, wondering how long it would take Jimin to lose interest in teasing Taehyung. If he remained true to previous patterns, Taehyung had a few more weeks of torture ahead of him.

 

Ignoring the low-key feeling of dread the idea of more teasing from Jimin brought to the forefront, Taehyung went looking for Yoongi. He’d already been gone the better part of fifteen minutes and that wasn’t like him. Taehyung knocked on his door. “Yoongi?”

 

When Yoongi didn’t reply, Taehyung opened the door quietly and peeked inside. Dead centre of the bed, Taehyung spotted Yoongi laying face down, his limbs stretched out and face slack. He’d managed to change at least, Taehyung noted, but little else. It looked like he had just collapsed on the bed. With a soft sigh, Taehyung proceeded to move Yoongi gently, going as far as to pick him up so he could put him under the blankets. Yoongi didn’t react to his actions, only curling into himself more as Taehyung held him up. Since he usually slept in a ball, Taehyung wasn’t surprised. Once he was in his usual place on the left side of the bed and curled up, Taehyung paused and brushed some hair away from Yoongi’s face. It was getting long, so much so that his nose twitched when it fell forward, hence Taehyung’s instinct to move it. Just another thing that showed the passage of time since Yoongi had arrived on his doorstep, so broken and so much different. 

 

Wow, creeper, are we doing this now too? Watching him sleep? Taehyung chastised himself before quickly stepping back and leaving the room. He glanced back once as he turned off the light, unable to keep the smile from his lips. So much had changed in such a short period of time, but he didn’t regret a thing. Not when it brought him Yoongi. 

 


 

Still mostly convinced that Namjoon was teasing him when he said he was on his way home, Seokjin jumped when the front door opened. In fact, he was still blinking owlishly in the general direction of the door when Namjoon appeared. “Why do you look so surprised?”

 

“The last time you were home before ten at night was our anniversary and before that it was my birthday,” Seokjin replied honestly as he set his book on the coffee table. As he usually did, Seokjin had come home, changed into something comfortable, and then tucked himself into the couch to read. He’d long ago decided not to bring work home with him so he always made time to relax. Since Namjoon was a bit of a workaholic, especially when he was working on an album, Seokjin had grown used to spending the early evening alone. Namjoon always made sure to come home before he went to bed though, and that was good enough for Seokjin.

 

“Ah, that sounds horrible,” Namjoon whined as he climbed onto the couch and crawled towards Seokjin on his knees. “Am I really that bad?”

 

“Mhm,” Seokjin confirmed, leaning back so Namjoon could cuddle into him properly. He was bigger than Seokjin, but their couch was large and he liked when Namjoon was like this. He rarely got into such touchy moods, so Seokjin was going to milk it. Though judging by the way Namjoon relaxed into him, his cheek pressed just above Seokjin’s stomach, he wouldn’t be moving anytime soon. “How did it go?”

 

Namjoon sighed and burrowed a little more. “Okay. Good. I guess. I think? He had two panic attacks that I noticed and he was pretty tense the entire day. I got the distinct impression he was barely holding it together.”

 

Seokjin began to thread his fingers through Namjoon’s hair, earning a contented sigh from the younger man. “You knew that would happen.”

 

“I did,” Namjoon admitted. “I just don’t think I realized that after he came back to himself it would be a continuous issue, you know? Like it didn’t occur to me that the whole room would be a constant trigger he had to deal with.”

 

“Ah, I see,” Seokjin acknowledged, understanding why Namjoon was seeking comfort. He felt like he failed, as he always did when he overlooked something. “You know that’s perfectly okay, right?”

 

“I should have seen it—” Namjoon began but Seokjin shushed him.

 

“Love, you can’t account for every little thing. Every person handles trauma differently. The important thing is now you know and you can help.”

 

“But how?”

 

Seokjin smiled at the eagerness in Namjoon’s voice. “Have you thought about giving him his own space?”

 

“His own space? Well, of course. He’ll have his own office since he’s going to be helping me, but I don’t want him to be alone!”

 

“I know,” Seokjin acknowledged, “but your studio is your space. Maybe what he needs is to find a space for himself that he feels comfortable in. A place where he can move things around without guilt and if he spaces out or needs time, he won’t feel like he’s hindering you.”

 

Namjoon pursed his lips, considering, “Maybe.”

 

“I’m not saying right away. I’d show him the space he’s going to have and tell him it’s his if he needs it. That way it’s his choice.”

 

Suddenly realizing that Seokjin seemed to be more adept at handling this than Namjoon had assumed he would be, Namjoon leaned up, resting his chin on his hand, his elbow propped up on Seokjin’s chest. “Why are you so good at this?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“When I first told you what happened, you knew I’d have to learn to deal with his panic attacks and triggers. You knew he needed to make the choice himself. And when I was freaking out about what to wear, you helped me even when you knew it wouldn’t matter. And you were right, he didn’t even seem to notice.”

 

“You don’t know that,” Seokjin denied, not wanting Namjoon to think he’d wasted his time. “Maybe he didn't notice it was helping.”

 

And,” Namjoon continued, giving Seokjin a look that said he knew what he was doing, “you just told me how to help him get more comfortable. Why are you so good at this?”

 

“Ah,” Seokjin murmured, “well, I’m not. I don’t know any more than you.”

 

“Jin, I thought we agreed to never lie to each other.”

 

“I’m not lying,” Seokjin shook his head, frowning. “It’s just that— well, Yoongi is not the first person I’ve met coming from a similar situation. Not that I’ve met him, but you get it. You know I’m old money.”

 

“Of course,” Namjoon agreed, knowing his company had been founded by his grandfather.

 

“Old money has a certain feel. My family was never like that. My dad worked on the sites, my grandfather demanded it, so we always got treated kinda like new money, but we still hung around the same old money crowd. Abuse is not… uncommon among people like that. Those with the money control those who don’t. I was around more people who experienced things closer to Taehyung’s childhood, but the idea is the same. Mostly. At least in terms of handling it. I just learned that choice is the most important because that's the first thing abusers take away.”

 

Namjoon’s eyes widened as things suddenly started making more sense. He remembered how Seokjin had handled it when Taehyung freaked out the first time. Looking back, Namjoon realized Taehyung had probably had his version of a panic attack. He felt stupid for not realizing that before. It seemed obvious now. “I never knew.”

 

“It’s just a part of that shitty world I don’t interact with it anymore unless absolutely necessary. You know my brother handles that side of the family business now. I wouldn’t even say it gave me experience because it was mostly rumours and assumptions based on observations. I just think, if Yoongi’s ex was even half as shitty as we think, it means Yoongi needs as much freedom now as possible.”

 

“Yea,” Namjoon agreed, settling back down and snuggling closer. “I think you’re right.”

 

“You’re doing a great job, love. You don’t need to worry so much.”

 

Closing his eyes, Namjoon sighed. “I don’t think that’ll happen anytime soon.”

 

“No,” Seokjin agreed, smiling down at the top of his head. “I suppose not.”

 


 

The ominous sounds of aggressive clicking and angry sighs filled the entire apartment. Every so often, the angry sigh would turn into an angry string of curses followed by more clicking. To the untrained ear, it sounds like Jungkook was gaming. He was, in fact, not. Instead, he was trying to put the finishing touches on the video he’d been making for the past week. 

 

Ever since Yoongi had told him he was going to start a new job, Jungkook had been working on making this video perfect. At first, he hadn’t known what to do for Yoongi. He knew he wanted to do something but he wasn’t sure what. He wanted it to be personal but not expensive, knowing Yoongi would feel burdened by a pricey gift. Jungkook had been too nervous to ask for advice so he’d spent a few days floundering. Then as he’d been sitting in class, his professor had begun talking about the use of images to convey feeling and it had hit him. He was a videography major so why not make a video.

 

The rest of the week had been sorting through his videos and photos of Yoongi. He had many. He pretty much always had his camera on, to the point that no one even noticed anymore, so he had tons of footage. He was actually a little worried, he didn’t think Yoongi was even aware he’d been recording him sometimes. He’d glance over, look at the camera, then look away without comment. It made Jungkook wonder if Yoongi had thought he was just always on his phone. So after two days of choosing content and one day of panicking that Yoongi would think this was creepy rather than sweet, Jungkook had begun editing. Which was where he was now. Editing. He’d wanted to have it done for Yoongi’s first day but as the day was long since over, that clearly hadn’t happened. They had plans for the weekend, so Jungkook decided he’d debut the video then. If he didn’t panic and chicken out first. That was still very much a possibility. 

 

But as he moved through the video, watching the segment he knew Yoongi was aware of because he’d gotten awkward and shy when Jungkook told him it was a video and not a selfie, Jungkook found himself smiling as he watched. Yoongi was so different from the man who’d run from him when they’d first met. The changes were small, but as Jungkook moved from video to video, he saw it. The way Yoongi became a bit brighter, a bit louder. The way he smiled more and talked faster. In his most recent video, the one taken yesterday, the day before Yoongi’s first day, he was humming while he cooked. Jungkook didn't know that was important, he just thought it was cute, so he wanted to include it. 


Frowning now, Jungkook wondered if Yoongi was even aware of how far he’d come. Making a split-second decision, Jungkook trashed the video he’d been working on all weekend and started anew: this one will be perfect.

Chapter Text

As anyone would have guessed, Tuesday didn’t go any better than Monday. Not really anyway. At least not from Yoongi’s perspective. He spent most of the day re-reading the same paragraph from the label’s employee handbook while Namjoon worked nearby with one headphone resting behind his ear so he could hear Yoongi if he needed anything or something went wrong. However, while Yoongi was fixated and worried he’d never be able to be in a studio with a low-level panic burning through his veins, Namjoon couldn't help but notice that he wasn’t as tense as the day before, nor breathing as irregularly. It was a small thing but it made Namjoon think that maybe Yoongi would be able to stay.

 

Wednesday was much the same and Yoongi began to think that perhaps this was just the way he’d be around music production from now on, maybe he just wasn’t meant to go back. That thought depressed him more than anything else. He found himself finishing the employee manual and HR training without really noticing, his mind too wrapped up in his own sorrow. It wasn’t until Hoseok showed up with lunch that Yoongi realized he might be better off than he thought. 

 

“Yo, Namjoon, time to eat!” Hoseok said in lieu of a greeting, pulling Namjoon’s headphones off as he placed the bags of food he purchased on the table. He winked at Yoongi. “Poor hyung is starving.”

 

“What? Are you—” Namjoon spun around immediately concerned, then frowned when he noticed Yoongi shaking his head at Hoseok. “Don’t do that! I was really worried!”

 

“Do what?” Hoseok asked, dropping down on the couch beside Yoongi even as he made sure to leave ample space. “I didn’t do anything.”

 

“You’re an asshole,” Namjoon muttered, even as he grabbed the fountain drink Hoseok had placed near him, “but thanks for lunch.”

 

“Jin-hyung would never forgive me if you died of starvation,” Hoseok reminded him as he began removing containers from the bag and spreading them out. “Plus I wanted to make sure you haven't buried poor Yoongi-hyung in work.”

 

“He hasn’t,” Yoongi assured quickly. “I’ve only been reading the personnel files so far.”

 

Hoseok threw him a pitying glance. “I hated those. So boring.”

 

“They're not that bad,” Yoongi defended, glancing down at the one he still held. Finally seeing the title, he frowned. He’d only read the first section so far so it hadn’t really registered to him, but he was reading the guidebook and mission statement of the music label itself. The document where they detailed what they believed to be music and what they wanted to achieve with theirs. It hadn't even occurred to him that he was reading something so music-focused. Yoongi frowned down at the stack of folders and booklets he’d been working through. The ones he’d already reached were about behaviour and expectations of the company, but he saw now that the ones after were literal manuals and guides for using the equipment in Namjoon’s studio. Namjoon had snuck them in it seemed.

 

“Uh, you don’t have to read those,” Namjoon hastened to say, seeing the look on Yoongi’s face.

 

“No, it’s fine, I just didn’t— it’s fine,” Yoongi said again, placing his current booklet on top and refocusing on the table and Hoseok. “Thank you for bringing lunch, Hoseok.”

 

Hoseok watched him for a moment, clearly assessing him, then smiled. “No problem! Let’s dig in.”

 

That confidence drove him through the rest of the day and into Thursday. He’d finished all the booklets and re-familiarized himself with the equipment now. He still tensed whenever he thought about making music himself, the idea making his breath shorten and vision dim, but other than that he was doing okay. Much better than Monday at least. It still made him tired, his body collapsing into bed every night that week as soon as he allowed it to. It had made him quieter, softer even, if that was possible. At first, Jimin had been worried, concerned that his exhaustion was a sign from his body that he wasn’t ready yet, but Taehyung disagreed. That discussion had been long and fraught, but in the end, they’d both decided that it didn't really matter what they thought anyway because as long as Yoongi was waking up every morning intent on going to work, they had to support his choices. He wanted to go, was excited even, and they had no right to express an opinion one way or the other. 

 

Which is how he ended up outside Namjoon’s door earlier than usual on Thursday morning, unsure what to do. He’d rang the doorbell but no one had answered, so Yoongi ended up hovering outside unsure. He really should have asked for the code but he hadn’t known if that was okay since it was Namjoon’s private space. Now he was locked out.

 

“Um, excuse me?”

 

Yoongi whipped around, eyes wide in surprise. “Y-yes?”

 

“Hi, I’m Lee-PD,” the woman introduced herself politely. “You’re Kim-PD’s assistant, right?”

 

“Uh, yes,” Yoongi agreed quickly, “I am.”

 

“Awesome! I’m happy to meet you! I just started officially a few months ago so I wanted to introduce myself! Us newbies gotta stick together.”

 

Yoongi found himself smiling. “Oh, that’s very nice of you. Thank you. My name’s Min Yoongi.”

 

“You seem older than me, are you?”

 

“I don’t know? I’m a ‘93,” Yoongi replied, slightly thrown off by how extroverted she seemed to be. She kinda reminded him of Hoseok.

 

“Ah, you are! I’m a ‘97.”

 

“Oh, okay,” Yoongi nodded.

 

“Well, oppa, not to be rude, but why are you just hanging around outside?”

 

Yoongi blinked at the sudden casualness of her tone but explained anyway, “I don’t have the code or Namjoon’s number. No one answered when I rang the doorbell.”

 

“He didn't give you the code?” Lee-PD asked, already shaking her head as he pulled out her phone. “Typical. I’ll call him.”

 

“Thank you,” Yoongi murmured.

 

“No problem,” Lee-PD assured, her head tilted as she waited. “Hey, oppa, I have a guest out here who should have your code but doesn’t. Are we forgetting someone?”

 

Yoongi didn't hear the response but the door whipped open a few seconds later to reveal a horrified-looking Namjoon. “Oh my god, hyung! I’m so sorry. You don’t usually come in for another hour so I didn’t think to monitor the door. I’m so sorry.”

 

“It’s fine, don’t worry.”

 

“Well, my work here is done. It was nice meeting you, oppa.”

 

“Ah, you too. Thanks for your help,” Yoongi said quickly, bowing as she walked away and disappeared into what Yoongi could only assume was her own studio.

 

“Damn, I’m really sorry, hyung,” Namjoon apologized again as he closed the door. “I’ll write down the code for you and let’s exchange numbers just in case so this doesn’t happen again.”

 

Yoongi ducked his head. “I, uh, don’t have a phone.”

 

“What?”

 

“I had to, um, get rid of it?” Yoongi told him, hoping Namjoon would just get it.

 

“Oh, right. Of course,” Namjoon agreed, feeling stupid, but immediately straightened, “but I can help you with that.”

 

Yoongi furrowed his brows. “How?”

 

“We get company phones here. Most people don’t use them since they have their own, but they are provided. Grab one from the drawer over there.”

 

More than just a little confused, Yoongi turned towards the drawer and pulled it open. Inside, there were at least a half dozen phones, all years newer than the phone Yoongi had smashed when he fled here. Yoongi blinked at them then looked at Namjoon. “Why do you have so many?”

 

“Well, at first we used iPhones but then the company signed a contract with Samsung so we use them now.”

 

Yoongi looked down again, noting that two of the eight he counted were iPhones. “That explains two. There are eight here.”

 

Now Namjoon blushed, rubbing the back of his neck in embarrassment. “I sometimes lose phones and then have to replace them. When the old one turns up, I never know what to do so I just… keep them there.”

 

“You… keep the phones because you’re too embarrassed to admit you found a lost one.”

 

“Maybe.”

 

Yoongi snorted, a smile stretching his lips before he was even aware of it. “I see.”

 

Anyway,” Namjoon cleared his throat, “you can take whatever you want from there or I can get you a new version from HR. Whatever works for you.”

 

“This one is fine,” Yoongi said, pulling out a newer version of his previous phone. “Thank you.”

 

“No problem. It’s already all set up on the company plan so you just need to customize it,” Namjoon told him as he took a seat and spun back towards his computer. Yoongi stared at the phone for a few more seconds, an odd feeling welling up. He never realized how much it meant to him to have a phone. It was like a little piece of freedom he hadn’t even been aware he was missing.

 

“Thank you, Namjoon,” Yoongi whispered, once against drawing Namjoon’s attention. 

 

The younger man turned back and smiled, even if it looked a bit confused, like he wasn’t sure what he’d done. “It’s nothing, hyung. Seriously.”

 

“It still means a lot to me, so thank you,” Yoongi replied, finally putting the phone in his pocket for later. He’d set it up on his break, but for now, he wanted to get to work and do something productive. “What am I doing today?”

 

Namjoon’s eyes widened for a moment but he leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms.“Well, the purpose of your job was to help me when I get buried in work. I was thinking today and tomorrow you can get familiar with my style of production and then next week you can start helping.”

 

Yoongi frowned a little, thinking about it. If he was going to help Namjoon with his work, it made sense to him that he understood Namjoon’s style so he didn't accidentally impose his own, since that wasn’t his job. It did mean he was basically going to have to spend several hours listening to music without doing much else. “Can I take notes?”

 

“I— sure?” Namjoon said. “You don’t have to.”

 

“It’ll help me,” Yoongi said as if that explained his thought process.

 

Namjoon shrugged and began rummaging through his drawers. Eventually, he found a yellow pad of lined paper and passed it to Yoongi before he opened another drawer in search of a pen, finding several that were useless before he found one that worked and handed it to Yoongi too. “The laptop there is already logged into my drive so everything I’ve made since coming here is on there. Oldest at the bottom but you can go through it however you see fit.”

 

“Okay,” Yoongi agreed, settling back into the couch and crossing his legs so he had a ledge to write on. He clicked into the drive as Namjoon had instructed only to halt when he saw the sheer number of songs there. It was easily a few hundred if not more. Yoongi’s eyes darted to Namjoon, who had refocused on his own work. No wonder he needed an assistant to make him go home, he clearly worked a lot. It was going to take Yoongi at least a few days to listen to them all, and that was if he didn't repeat any. Suddenly Namjoon suggesting he start next week made sense. He’d need until then to get through everything. 

 

Setting his mouth into a determined line, Yoongi strolled to the bottom and clicked the oldest song. From then on, Yoongi moved through song after song, making notes of particular sounds or instruments that Namjoon liked to use, and arrangements he preferred. By the end of Thursday, Yoongi had made it through just about half of the songs and felt like he had a basic understanding of Namjoon’s style but he also noted that they were over a year old and a lot could change in that time. 

 

Despite that, he felt like he’d accomplished a great deal in such a short period of time so when he came in Friday morning he finally felt like he knew what he was doing and he told Jimin as much as they walked to the studio.

 

“I’m only working through his discography right now, it’s a lot, but I think I’m getting a handle on it,” Yoongi explained as they stepped off the elevator.

 

“If anyone can break down his style into manageable chunks, it’s you,” Jimin complimented, remembering how Yoongi used to emulate his favourite artists when he was younger with his terrible little MIDI keyboard. “Remember when you used to remake Epik High songs?”

 

Yoongi snorted. “I was telling Taehyung about that keyboard recently actually. I can't believe I managed to make music with it.”

 

“Miracles happen every day,” Jimin agreed, his smile easy even as his body tensed. They’d stopped outside Namjoon’s studio and Yoongi was punching in the code. Jimin couldn’t help but watch Yoongi closely just in case he panicked or needed help. But none of that happened. Yoongi opened the door and stepped inside without missing a beat and dropped down onto the couch where the laptop he’d left out yesterday waited. Jimin couldn’t help but stare in awe. He knew how hard it must be for Yoongi, but he looked relaxed. “Hyung?”

 

“Hmm?” Yoongi asked, glancing up and looking around. “Namjoon is usually in by now. I’m sure if you wait a few minutes he’ll appear so you can get that thumb drive.”

 

“Yea, I— are you okay?”

 

Yoongi froze and looked up. “Okay?”

 

“Yes, are you— um, okay?” Jimin repeated, unsure if he should be asking or not.

 

Blinking at him, Yoongi frowned. He didn’t speak for a moment but Jimin could tell he was thinking so he didn’t say anything. Eventually, Yoongi nodded slowly. “I think so? I still… get anxious, I guess, when I think about making music, but for now, I’m doing okay. I don’t feel uncomfortable here anyway.”

 

“That’s-that’s really good, hyung,” Jimin said seriously. “I’m really happy for you.”

 

“I didn’t do anything,” Yoongi said, shaking his head.

 

“You’re here, hyung. I never thought I’d see that again. Just being here is doing something,” Jimin insisted.

 

“I don’t know about that,” Yoongi answered, his fingers anxiously picking at his jeans, “but I like it here. I forgot that.”

 

“Then I’m glad you’re here.”

 

“As am I,” Namjoon added, stepping into the studio with a coffee in his hand. “And hyung is doing better than he thinks he is. Trust me.”

 

“I am?” Yoongi asked before he could stop himself.

 

“Yup,” Namjoon confirmed. “You didn’t panic at all yesterday. Not once.”

 

“No, I—” Yoongi broke off, his head tilting as he thought over the previous day. “You’re right. I didn’t.”

 

“See? Like I said, better than you thought,” Namjoon repeated, smiling slightly before turning to Jimin. “Did you need something?”

 

“Oh, yea, Hoseok-hyung forgot the thumb drive with the song at home. He sent me to grab it because he’s a big baby and doesn’t want you to get mad at him.”

 

Namjoon snorted, already moving to load the title track Jimin was referring to onto a thumb drive. “He’s ridiculous”

 

“Agreed,” Jimin said easily, watching Yoongi out of the corner of his eyes as he slipped on headphones and settled in, notepad in hand. When he was sure Yoongi couldn’t hear him because the music was playing, he returned his attention to Namjoon. “Is he really doing good, hyung?”

 

“Yes,” Namjoon replied firmly. “I’m actually shocked. I expected way more issues but after the first few days, he found his rhythm and went with it. Yesterday I basically forgot he was here at all. He’s doing really well, Jimin. You don't have to worry. He’s very strong.”

 

“I know,” Jimin admitted, taking the drive with a sad smile, “but I still worry.”

 

“It’s nice, but he’s okay,” Namjoon told him. “I’d tell you if it wasn’t. He’d tell you if it wasn’t.”

 

“Thanks, hyung,” Jimin murmured, holding up the thumb drive vaguely as he left.

 

“You’re good with him,” Yoongi commented, drawing a surprised look from Namjoon. “I don’t have the music on that loud.”

 

Namjoon grimaced. “Sorry.”

 

“It’s okay. I wouldn’t have said anything but I just wanted to let you know that you’re good with him. Lots of people brush him off because he’s always been naturally empathetic but you don’t. Thank you for that.”

 

“There’s a lot of thanks going around for not a lot of effort,” Namjoon pointed out with a sigh as he sank further down into his chair.

 

Yoongi laughed quietly. “Yea, weird how that works, huh?”

 

“Apparently,” Namjoon muttered, turning towards his computer. He wasn’t doing anything special, just being supportive of someone going through a hard time and now Yoongi and Jimin were both thanking him for it. He kinda hated that. Hated that basic human decency earned thanks. But he also knew that was just the way it was, especially when the two people involved were used to the darker side of things: Yoongi with his ex and Jimin with his parents. Sometimes he just wished the world was a nicer place, but he knew that wasn’t going to change anytime soon. Which meant the least he could do was make it easier for those having a hard time. It was the bare minimum, at least to him, but it was the best he could do.

 


 

The entire first week of Yoongi’s new job, Jungkook had been practically vibrating. He’d finished the new version of the video in record time and since then he’d been anxious to show him. That and he missed hanging out with Yoongi. Jungkook hadn’t realized how much time he’d been spending at Jimin’s until it was a random day and he’d wanted to go over only to realize he couldn’t. At least not during the day just to hang out with Yoongi. He could go over at night and had, but Yoongi was usually tired and he’d spent his time with Jimin anyway, so it wasn’t the same. 

 

He was proud of Yoongi though. Hearing the way he talked about work, a brightness to his tone even though he was clearly exhausted, Jungkook couldn’t contain how happy he was. He’d never grown so attached to someone so quickly, but he figured it was because he and Yoongi understood each other. Plus Yoongi always listened. Even surrounded by everyone at their dinner where Yoongi had clearly been struggling to maintain his calm, he’d made sure to pay attention to Jungkook when he spoke. It meant a lot to Jungkook to have someone like that around. 

 

Jungkook mentioned as much to his parents, including how he was struggling with helping Yoongi heal, and true to form, his parents had all but demanded to meet him too. Before long they’d be darkening his doorstep with a detailed schedule that included meeting and smothering all his friends. It embarrassed him sometimes, how affectionate his parents were, but he also loved it. It made him feel warm and cared for, so even if he held them off as best he could, he was kinda excited to see his friends, Jimin and Yoongi in particular, experience the same sort of affection he’d grown up with. With that and his video in mind, Jungkook showed up at the apartment earlier than he usually would. 

 

“Jungkook?” Yoongi greeted, clearly confused by his early appearance.

 

“Hi hyung!” Jungkook responded, easily slipping into the apartment like he’d done a million times before and wrapping Yoongi in a hug. “Congrats on your first week! I’ll be back in one second.”

 

“He’s still sleeping!” Yoongi called, his warning falling on deaf ears as Jungkook ran to Jimin’s room and jumped onto him, crushing the much smaller man.

 

“AH, FUCKER!” Jimin yelled, suddenly awakened by Jungkook’s weight.

 

Jungkook giggled and nuzzled Jimin’s cheek and shoulder. “Morning, hyung. I missed you.”

 

“Mmmm,” Jimin responded, tilting his head so Jungkook had more access but also mostly still asleep. “Did you?”

 

“Yea,” Jungkook agreed. “My apartment is lonely.”

 

Jimin sighed, his arms finally coming up to wrap around Jungkook. “You should just move in here then.”

 

Immediately, Jungkook’s whole body tensed. Jimin didn’t say anything more, his eyes still closed and movements lethargic. Jungkook licked his lips, a tight, sad feeling settling in his stomach, before burying his face in Jimin’s pillow just beside his head. “Ah, don’t tease me, hyung. That’s mean.”

 

“Tease you?” Jimin repeated, finally opening his eyes in confusion. “Why would I be teasing you?”

 

“You don’t actually want to live with me, hyung. Come on.”

 

Frowning now, Jimin pulled back as much as he could and tilted his head so he could see Jungkook’s face. He looked awkward and shy, but also sad. It made Jimin’s heart hurt. He couldn't believe that Jungkook seemed to genuinely believe what he was saying. “Why wouldn’t I? We’ve been together for over a year, Kook.”

 

“Well not really,” Jungkook corrected. “You didn't say yes at first.”

 

“No, but we still went out and were together, we just weren't official yet,” Jimin reminded him, forcing Jungkook back so he could sit up. Cupping his cheeks, Jimin smiled. “I love you and if you’re lonely in your own apartment, there’s no reason you can’t be here, Kook.”

 

Jungkook looked up hesitantly. “It wouldn’t be a problem?”

 

“Not at all,” Jimin replied firmly. “Except maybe convincing Yoongi-hyung to cook for you.”

 

“I’m not worried about that,” Jungkook denied, laughing now. “He loves me.”

 

“Cocky,” Jimin muttered as he leaned forward to rest head on Jungkook’s shoulder. “I’m sorry you ever felt you weren’t welcome here, Kook.”

 

“No, that’s not it, I just— visiting and living somewhere are different things and I know you like your space. I don't want to intrude.”

 

“You’re not, I promise,” Jimin told him, then poked him in the stomach. “Though I could do without the aggressive wake-up call.”

 

Jungkook snorted, a grin on his face that bellied any apology he made. “Sorry.”

 

“Uh-huh. Is anyone else up?”

 

“I only saw Yoongi-hyung.”

 

“Hmmm, then we can stay here a bit more,” Jimin decided, pulling Jungkook back down and manhandling him until he could curl up into his chest. “There we go.”

 

Jungkook only smiled, his fingers running through Jimin’s sleep-mussed hair. Today was shaping up to be the best day he’d had in a long time and he couldn’t wait.

 


 

“I don’t know why he said he’d be back when he clearly ended up in bed with Jimin,” Taehyung said with a snort as he mixed some yogurt and oatmeal together in what he’d declared a breakfast parfait and Yoongi had just gone along with.

 

“Suddenly I am very grateful for the soundproofing in this place. I’ve already heard Jimin have sex more times than I’d like to,” Yoongi muttered as he pushed a bowl of fruit towards Taehyung and gestured to it pointedly.

 

With a slight pout, Taehyung took some of the strawberries and added them in. “Same. The first time I heard someone degrade him I almost passed out. I thought I had to save him. Imagine my surprise.”

 

Yoongi nodded, his eyes wide. “It’s not just me! I swear, I was so worried at first, but I guess it’s just his thing. To each their own I guess.”

 

“I think I’d actually cry and not in the ‘I’m turned on by this’ way,’" Taehyung said honestly.

 

“I just had a horrifying thought,” Yoongi gasped out, only continuing when Taehyung looked up at him, his spoon still shoved in his mouth. “That means Jungkook does that for him.”

 

Immediately, Taehyung choked, slamming a hand on his chest, “we are not thinking about that. We just aren't. He is a sweet, summer child!”

 

Yoongi laughed, shuddering dramatically, “he’s such a soft boy, I can’t even imagine it.”

 

“And you will continue to not!” Taehyung ordered, pointing his spoon, “we’ll never discuss this again.”

 

“Agreed,” Yoongi muttered, smiling honestly for a moment before it fell around the edges. He wasn’t aware it was happening but Taehyung noticed and paused so he could watch Yoongi carefully before asking if he was okay.

 

“Yoongi?”

 

Snapping back, Yoongi smiled, “yea?”

 

For a moment, Taehyung considered his options. Yoongi had had a really good week after the first day and he’d been in a better mood for most of the week. He seemed lighter, even if he’d clearly been tired, which meant Taehyung could probably ask some questions without triggering anything. But he also didn’t want to ruin his mood. Taehyung hesitated then shook his head. “Nah, nevermind.”

 

Yoongi narrowed his eyes before sighing and leaning back. He put down his own spoon and crossed his arms. “You wanted to ask something, so do it.”

 

“No, I—”

 

“Tae.”

 

Called out, Taehyung nodded. “I was just wondering why you looked upset just then.”

 

“Just when?” Yoongi asked, though he knew. Taehyung simply looked at him, his expression open and serious, which made Yoongi shift in his seat and look away. After a moment, Yoongi nodded, more to himself than Taehyung, and explained. “He was into that kinda thing.”

 

Taehyung grimaced. He didn't have a problem with people’s kinks, even if he joked about Jimin and Jungkook, but willingness was important to him. Based solely on what Yoongi had said before, it didn’t feel like Yoongi was willing. Or at the very least, not into it. “Degradation?”

 

Yoongi nodded abruptly. “Among… other things.”

 

That sinking feeling in his stomach amplified, making Taehyung slightly nauseous. This wasn’t a conversation for a bright kitchen surrounded by light and freshly cut fruit. It just wasn’t. Intellectually, he knew that wasn’t true. That hard conversation could happen anywhere and often did. That it only mattered that Yoongi was comfortable sharing but emotionally Taehyung still wasn’t sure what to say. It wasn’t even about his own romantic feelings; it was that his friend had gone through something like that alone. “I’m sorry, Yoongi. I didn’t mean to—”

 

“It’s fine,” Yoongi waved his apology away quickly. “It’s not what you think. Those were probably the only times—” Yoongi broke off, a slightly bitter laugh escaping, “He didn’t hurt me then.”

 

Taehyung closed his eyes, a thousand different emotions running through him. Happiness and gratefulness that Yoongi hadn't been harmed in that way. It had always been a lingering question, one no one wanted to bring up, but that everyone worried about. Anger and disgust that even if Yoongi hadn’t been hurt he had to submit to activities he didn’t enjoy for someone else’s pleasure. Rage and hatred that someone as awful as Minhyuk had seen Yoongi in that way and used him. It was a lot all at once but Taehyung managed to sort through it quickly, the tricks his therapist had taught him suddenly becoming very handy, and opened his eyes again. He found Yoongi watching him, an odd look on his face. Like he was waiting for something.

 

“You’ll never have to make that choice again,” Taehyung said simply, referring to the fact that Yoongi likely had said yes to things he didn’t like or want because he hadn't felt like he could

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened, clearly not expecting that response. It made his brows furrow and his eyes dart away. At first, Taehyung worried that he’d made a mistake, but Yoongi’s eyes returned to him, a light that hadn’t been there before glowing within his eyes. “Because my person will listen to what I have to say, right?”

 

“He wasn’t your person, Yoongi,"

“How do you know?”

“Because he didn’t value you. Your person will.”

 

“Exactly,” Taehyung confirmed, the word coming out on a breath. “Of course he will.”

 

With a small nod, Yoongi leaned forward again, picking up his spoon and taking a large bite of the parfait, “this is actually pretty good. You may have something here.”

 

“I can’t take all the credit,” Taehyung replied, slightly thrown off by the way Yoongi had shifted topics so quickly. He supposed it made sense, Yoongi had explained what he intended to and wanted to move on, but Taehyung was still lingering behind, trying to come to terms with what Yoongi had said. He just hoped one day, when Yoongi was ready, he’d meet someone who treated him like he deserved.

 

What about you?

 

Ignoring his own intrusive thoughts, Taehyung continued. “I saw it in a grocery store once and wanted to try it.”

 

“Shh, you have to take credit,” Yoongi teased, smiling at him easily.

 

“I’ll remember for next time.”

 


 

Sometime later, Yoongi found himself stretched out on the couch, Taehyung sitting at the other end with Yoongi’s feet in his lap. They’d finished breakfast in amicable silence but when Jungkook hadn’t reappeared, they'd decided to just go on with their day. Yoongi had grabbed a book and settled in to do some reading and Taehyung had decided to game. Without really talking about it, they’d gravitated towards the current position they were in and hadn’t moved. 

 

Eventually, Jungkook finally walked in, his hair messy and his eyes swollen with sleep. He frowned and rubbed his eye, “Jimin-hyung made me take a nap and now I’m exhausted.”

 

“That's… the opposite of what a nap is supposed to do,” Yoongi pointed out, his lips quirked.

 

“I know,” Jungkook whined. “I hate it.”

 

“Awe, poor Kookie,” Yoongi placated teasingly. “Will you be okay?”

 

“Kookie?” Both Taehyung and Jimin, who’d just come in, repeated. “That’s new.”

 

“Not super new,” Yoongi said, shaking his head. “Right, Kookie?”

 

“Nope!” Jungkook agreed, smiling wide, causing both Taehyung and Jimin to roll their eyes at him in endearment. “BUT! Now for my surprise.”

 

Yoongi looked up again and put down his book. “What surprise?”

 

Rifling through his pocket, Jungkook pulled out a small thumb drive and handed it to Yoongi after he dropped down to the floor just in front of where he was seated on the couch. Yoongi took it from him in confusion. “Um, thanks?”

 

“You… do know what that is, don’t you?”

 

“A USB?” Yoongi guessed, still very confused.

 

“Hyung, it’s on the USB,” Jimin told him, cackling at Yoongi’s confusion.

 

“Oh. That... makes much more sense,” Yoongi admitted, his cheeks turning red.

 

“God, Yoongi,” Taehyung said between laughs. “I can’t with you.”

 

“In my defence, he just handed it to me! How was I supposed to know!?”

 

“Who gives someone a USB as a gift?” Jungkook asked, his expression exasperated.

 

Yoongi threw up his hands. “I don’t know but I didn't want to be rude!”

 

“Oh my god,” Jungkook groaned, taking the thumb drive from Yoongi and crawling towards the TV. He turned off Taehyung’s game without asking, earning a shocked shout, then plugged the drive into the TV and selected the only file. After a moment, Jungkook crawled back and pulled his knees up to his face, wrapping his arms around them. It looked a bit like he was hiding, which just made Yoongi wonder what he was about to see.

 

His answer came soon after, an image of Jungkook filling the screen. He was in a room Yoongi didn't recognize but assumed was his apartment. There was a slowly spinning loading dial then the picture began moving as the video started.

 

“Uh, hi hyung! Please ignore how awkward this is, you know how much I hate being in front of a camera. Um, I wanted to say congrats on your new job! This was supposed to be ready like last week, but you know how it goes. Anyway, um, I had a lot of ideas for this but I kinda decided to do something to show you what you look like from our perspective, well mostly mine actually. If you hate it, please don’t tell me. Just let me die in shame.”

 

The screen faded to black and Yoongi smiled as Jimin teased Jungkook from the side. “Aw, that was so cute, Kook!”

 

Slowly, the sound of an acoustic guitar began to play, soft English words Yoongi couldn’t understand accompanying it. Thankfully, Jungkook provided a translation, scrolling across the bottom of the screen quickly: 

 

There is no combination of words

I could put on the back of a postcard

No song that I could sing

Our dreams and they are made out of real things

Like a shoebox of photographs

With sepia-toned loving

 

Tearing his eyes away from the words, Yoongi watched as pictures of him and Jimin littered the screen. Some of them as kids, then a picture of Jimin and Yoongi in university, sitting on a beat-up couch making faces at the camera. Then another of them laughing together from a similar time period, followed quickly by one of them together at the dinner table in this very apartment. In the middle of the table was the stew Yoongi remembered making the night he’d met Jungkook. It took Yoongi a moment to realize Jungkook was matching the lyrics of the song.

 

Love is the answer

At least for most of the questions in my heart

Like why are we here? And where do we go?

And how come it's so hard?

 

But as quickly as he blinked, the scene shifted to a video of him. He was sitting on the couch, frowning at a game controller. He shook it lightly, his frown turning to a pout before he turned toward the camera and huffed causing it to shake, Yoongi’s answering smiling blurred by the movement. Yoongi remembered it. He’d been trying to figure out how to play Overwatch and he’d been terrible. Jungkook had laughed so hard he’d dropped his phone. Yoongi hadn’t known Jungkook was recording him, but what held his attention was how thin he was. He didn’t realize it then, but he looked sick, his cheekbones and jawline sharp, his cheeks hollow. He didn't look like that now. 

 

It's not always easy and

Sometimes life can be deceiving

I'll tell you one thing

It's always better when we're together

 

As if following the beat, the scene shifted again, the setting slightly darker. Yoongi watched himself speak, his hands and lips moving quickly as he explained something while pointing at the screen of Jungkook's laptop. He wasn’t even aware of the camera, but Yoongi could see how excited he’d looked. That was when he’d realized he could be useful and help Jungkook with school work. He’d been so happy.

 

Mmm, it's always better when we're together

Yeah, we'll look up at stars when we're together

Well, it's always better when we're together

Yeah, it's always better when we're together

 

A transition accompanied the change in lyrics to the chorus, a scene of a long and busy highway, then a video of Jungkook making upset faces in a mall dressing room before the camera swung around, revealing Yoongi sitting just outside, his eyes directed elsewhere but a slightly sad look on his face. The camera followed the look, focusing in on a sweater, the royal blue one he’d loved so much, then there was a tattooed hand grabbing one and pulling it towards the camera. The next image was a still of Yoongi holding a bag close to his chest, a large smile on his face. 

 

Yoongi felt his breath begin to quicken and his eyes prick with tears. How had Jungkook done all this? He didn't even remember seeing a camera.

 

And all of these moments

Just might find their way into my dreams tonight

But I know that they'll be gone

When the morning light sings

Or brings new things

 

Suddenly the music faded out and loud laughter filled the space. Yoongi recognized it as Hoseok’s but then his own joined. The camera zoomed in on Yoongi, who scrunched his nose and leaned to the side, closer to Hoseok. Did I really do that? Move closer? Before suddenly it zoomed out again and Namjoon and Hoseok were stumbling out, an endeared-looking Yoongi guiding the way while Taehyung and Jimin looked on in exasperation.

 

Too many things I have to do

But if all of these dreams might find their way

Into my day to day scene

I'd be under the impression

I was somewhere in between

With only two

Just me and you

 

The camera zoomed into Taehyung’s face then outward, showing a lovely mountain top view. Yoong blinked, realizing he was seeing the area he’d gone to take photos with Taehyung. Which meant this was Taehyung’s video, not Jungkook’s. Yoongi looked at him quickly before refocusing, watching as the camera scanned the scenery before focusing on him. He was standing off to the side, his fingers tracing leaves on the tree as he looked around with a bright expression. He hadn’t realized how happy he looked, especially when he looked toward the camera and his smile widened.

 

I believe in memories

They look so...

So pretty when I sleep

 

His smile faded away, the screen turning black only to be filled with more photos. They were of Yoongi with everyone. Him and Jimin sitting on the couch talking, their heads bowed together. Him and Taehyung in the kitchen, Yoongi’s eyes watchful and Taehyung’s face focused. Him and Jungkook while they were out shopping. All of them at the dinner table eating and talking. Him and Jungkook on the couch, Jungkook’s eyes red-rimmed from when he’d cried and told Yoongi he was scared. Then just Yoongi frowning at the back of a DVD case. He recognized it as one of the movies he’d really liked; he’d been checking the director’s name after Jungkook said he only liked a certain man’s movies.

 

But there is

Not enough time

And there is no...

No song I could sing

And there is no

Combination of words I could say

But I will still

Tell you one thing

We're better together.

 

As the last of the song faded out, the guitar and drum beat purposefully disappearing, a video began to play. Yoongi was standing in the kitchen cooking. He was moving between tasks without pause. Once the song was completely done, the audio of the video replaced it. And there, so quietly, Yoongi heard his own voice. Humming. He was humming. And then it faded to black again and the video ended. Yoongi couldn't tear his eyes away from the screen. He'd been humming, hadn't he? He couldn't remember the last time he'd done that. Certainly not since moving in with Minhyuk. And god, all those videos and photos. Was that really him? Did he really look like that?

 

“Hyung?” Jungkook’s voice called out tentatively, snapping Yoongi out of whatever trance he’d been in. “Are you okay?”

 

“I-I—” Yoongi tried, only then realizing he was crying. As if knowing made it impossible for him to stop, Yoongi broke down, his shoulders shaking. “It-it w-was b-beautiful, K-kookie.”

 

Launching himself at Yoongi, Jungkook engulfed him in a hug, holding him as he shook. Taehyung and Jimin latched on too, surrounding Yoongi with a feeling of warmth and comfort and love.

 

“Is-is that r-really h-how you s-see m-me?” Yoongi managed to get out, remembering Jungkook’s awkward words from the beginning of the video.

 

“Yes, hyung,” Jungkook confirmed. “I didn't change what I saw. This is what you look like to other people.”

 

“T-thank y-you,” Yoongi cried out, his hands covering his face. “A-all of you. I-I love y-you guys.”

 

“Oh, hyung,” Jimin whispered, stroking his hair as he started to cry, never one to be able to hold himself back as others cried. Jungkook quickly followed too, a true sympathy crier, sniffing and ducking his head so no one would see. Jimin directed a watery smile at him before refocusing on Yoongi. “We love you too.”

 

“Yea,” Jungkook confirmed firmly, his voice shaking. “We do.”

 

Taehyung watched them all, smiling as they all cried while simultaneously trying to comfort each other. He felt a little exposed by his section of the video, not realizing how clear his feelings were nor particularly liking how Jungkook had put his video at the only section explicitly about love, but warmth overshadowed that. Warmth for his friends and warmth of that kind combined with something else for Yoongi. “Of course we love you too.”

Chapter Text

Maybe it was because Jungkook was spending more time at the apartment since ‘moving in’ or maybe it was because of his conversation with Taehyung about sex, Yoongi wasn’t sure, but he found himself watching Jimin and Jungkook more. He’d done it before when he’d first met him. Just watched the way they interacted and existed near each other. He’d been jealous then. He’d forgotten that, but now he remembered the clawing, angry feeling in his throat. The way he’d wished his relationship could have been like that. That Minhyuk could have loved him like that. He didn’t want that now, he was long since past wishing things had been different, but it didn’t stop him from watching.

 

Yoongi didn’t mean for it to be creepy, nor was he particularly jealous now, he was just observing. He wasn’t even really aware he was doing it at first, but Jungkook had shyly approached him about it and he was mortified.

 

“Um, hyung?” Jungkook asked, scratching his cheek awkwardly.

 

“Mhm?” Yoongi replied, glancing over briefly to see Jungkook in his sleepwear and hair messy.

 

“Can I ask you something?”

 

“Of course.”

 

Jungkook hesitated, his expression pained. “Do you… not want me here?”

 

“What?” Yoongi questioned, shocked that Jungkook could ever ask him something like that. “Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I?”


“Well, I just—” Jungkook pursed his lips, clearly deciding how to approach this discussion. “You’ve been staring at me and Jimin-hyung a lot since I started staying here more often and I just, um, does it make you uncomfortable? I don’t have to stay here. I have a lease still so it’s totally okay! I don’t want us to be, like, a problem for you.”

 

“A problem..?” Yoongi repeated, confusion heavy in his tone.

 

Jungkook winced. He’d imagined this conversation going much differently and now that he was in it, he didn’t know what to say. He’d noticed Yoongi watching whenever Jimin and him were together or acting coupley. He didn’t do it when either of them was alone. Or at least not when Jungkook was alone, so he figured it had to do with them being, well, a couple. Which Jungkook totally understood. He hadn’t really considered how it might affect Yoongi to be around a couple all the time, since it hadn't bothered him before, but living with it was different and Jungkook could make changes. He just needed to know how. “I just don’t want the fact that me and Jimin-hyung are dating to make your living situation uncomfortable, hyung.”

 

Yoongi blinked. “You’ve been dating him as long as I’ve known you, Kookie. Why would it be an issue now?”

 

“Because I’m here all the time?”

 

“Yes… you live here now, do you not? We had that discussion already, didn’t we?”

 

“Hyung, I know we did but I just—” Jungkook made a frustrated sound, he was fucking this up. “Does seeing me and hyung be, like, affectionate bother you?”

 

“No?”

 

Jungkook shifted awkwardly. “Then why have you been staring at us?”

 

“Have I?” Yoongi wondered, mild horror on his face. “I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry.”

 

“You… didn’t mean to? Are you sure it’s okay?” Jungkook persisted, intent on making sure Yoongi was comfortable. Like he said, he had no problem making changes if need be, he just needed to know what Yoongi was okay with and wasn’t.

 

“Seriously, I’m okay. I didn’t— I wasn’t even aware I was staring. I’m sorry if I made you self-conscious. I guess I just space out sometimes, I’m sorry.’

 

“No! It’s okay,” Jungkook rushed out, feeling lighter now that he knew he wasn’t bothering Yoongi. “I just didn’t want you to be uncomfortable in your own home.”

 

Yoongi smiled softly, “thank you for your concern, Kookie, but I’m okay. I promise. I’d tell you if I wasn’t.”

 

“Okay,” Jungkook agreed, nodding firmly, before another smile stretched his lips and he lunged forward, grabbing one of the peppers Yoongi had been cutting for omelettes. “Thanks, hyung!”

 

“AISH I SWEAR!” Yoongi chastised, waving his hand to fight Jungkook off. One thing he’d noticed since Jungkook had moved in, and since he’d gotten more comfortable with Yoongi in general, was that he was a brat. An empathic, caring, sweet brat, but a brat nonetheless. “Wait until I cook it at least!”

 

“Can’t wait!” Jungkook called back as he darted from the kitchen, another piece already shoved into his mouth. Yoongi sighed and shook his head at him before refocusing on the task at hand. He hadn’t been aware he was staring but now that he was, he didn’t really get why. He wasn’t uncomfortable, nor jealous, he was just taking in their interactions like he was watching a movie. 

 

It wasn’t until he found himself in Namjoon’s studio finishing up going over the last of Namjoon’s songs when he found himself doing it again that he finally realized why. He’d finished a song but was having trouble identifying a specific sound. It wasn’t an instrument or beat he was familiar with nor was it a vocal chop, at least not one he could identify so he’d been stuck. After reviewing the song several more times, he’d given up and decided to just ask Namjoon, but he’d been on the phone.

 

“Hmmm, probably around 6?” Namjoon said, his posture relaxed and smile easy. He was spinning slightly in his chair, the movement swaying back and forth as he listened to the person on the other line. “I know, maybe we can make it two weeks straight.”

 

Yoongi let his headphones hang around his neck and leaned back in his chair, watching Namjoon talk. His tone and demeanour were completely different from his usual. It reminded him of when Namjoon had first mentioned his boyfriend at dinner, his tone just soft and caring. That seemed to be the tone the people had around their significant others. It was… odd for him to see it. Even when he and Minhyuk had been good —or better at least— they hadn’t spoken to each other like that. Nor had they looked like that when talking to or about one another. It gave rise to a tight feeling in his chest. It wasn’t jealousy, not really, but maybe longing. Minhyuk had been his first real relationship so he’d never experienced that. Maybe that was why he hadn’t noticed Minhyuk treated him poorly until it was too late. It had never occurred to him that the way they interacted wasn’t normal. 

 

Or perhaps he’d convinced himself it was. Not all relationships were like they were in the movies, so maybe, Yoongi admitted to himself, he’d told himself that their relationship was just the way real couples acted over and over until he believed it. Or maybe those close to him were the exception. 

 

Namjoon laughed, drawing Yoongi’s attention again, “Ahhhh. go back to work, Jin. I can’t believe you’re talking to me when you should be in a meeting… I’ll see you when I get home… uh-huh… okay, see ya. Love you too.”

 

Hanging up the phone, Namjoon turned to Yoongi with a somewhat sheepish expression. “Sorry about that. Jin always calls me when he’s bored or doesn’t want to do something.”

 

“It’s fine,” Yoongi answered honestly. “It’s interesting listening to you talk like that.”

 

“Like what?” Namjoon wondered, genuinely curious.

 

“In love, I guess,” Yoongi decided after a moment, unsure how to explain the difference.

 

“Ah, hyung, don’t embarrass me,” Namjoon muttered, ducking his head, clearly shy about being called out about the way he spoke to Jin.

 

For some reason, that made Yoongi blink. It took him a second to understand why, but then it hit him. Namjoon called him hyung. He did not call Jin hyung.* “Actually I have a question.”

 

“Shoot.”

 

“Isn’t Seokjin-ssi older?”

 

“Yup,” Namjoon said casually, frowning at his computer as a new email popped up he’d need to address.

 

Yoongi’s eyes narrowed for a moment then he pointed out. “But you don’t call him hyung.”

 

“Nope,” Namjoon agreed, then paused and looked at Yoongi, suddenly realizing that Yoongi was trying to make a point of some kind. “Is that… a problem?”

 

“No, no, of course not,” Yoongi hastened to say, retreating a bit. “I was just wondering...”

 

“Wondering… why?” Namjoon finished when Yoongi trailed off. He looked more uncomfortable than he had since the first few days working here and it made Namjoon feel bad. No one ever really asked why he talked to Seokjin the way he did, but he could explain it if need be. “Well, we decided pretty early to treat each other equally. When we met I was just finishing up school but he was already working full time at his company. It’s family-owned so he was already in a position of power. Everyone knew, including us, that he’d be CEO soon. Which he is now. He comes from a rich, powerful family with connections. I… do not.”

 

“I see,” Yoongi murmured.

 

“There wasn’t anything we could really do about that,” Namjoon continued, tilting his head as he thought back to that time. “So we decided to do what we could to level out the dynamics if that makes sense. He never interferes in my work or talks to anyone related to my field so no one feels any pressure from our relationship, and between us, we decided to always speak honestly and casually. We already had so many bullshit things to deal with because of, well, society so we wanted to remove as many of those things as we could. Just using our names isn’t the biggest move, but it means we’re equals even in language.”

 

Yoongi nodded, trying to understand. In theory, it made sense to him but in practice not so much. Minhyuk was older and he’d held all the power not only because of his age but because he was the one who worked. Yoongi had been given tasks to complete, an allowance to spend, and a place to live based on what Minhyuk decided he deserved. If Yoongi had ever dared to speak as casually as Namjoon did— Yoongi's brain came to a screeching halt, refusing even to consider the outcome of that.

 

Thinking back, it was clear their dynamic had been off balance. Purposefully so. The fact that Yoongi’s only option had been Jimin when he’d fled wasn’t a coincidence. And even then, he hadn’t talked to Jimin in a year. If he’d been thinking more clearly at the time, he never would have shown up at Jimin’s. It didn’t make sense to rely on someone who’d been out of touch for so long. Yoongi had a moment of shock, realizing how well-orchestrated his isolation had been. He couldn’t believe he’d just assumed that’s what love looked like. 

 

He refocused on Namjoon, remembering the way he looked when he talked about Seokjin. It happened fairly often, Namjoon was the type to gush about the people he cared about. He also came up all the time in random conversation, clearly an integral part of the friend group. Which just reminded him of how Jimin and Jungkook were together. The way they gravitated towards one another, even when no one was speaking. It ranged from basically being on top of one another to sitting at the dinner table with their bodies casually directed towards each other while they talked and ate. He’d never felt the need to do that. Not even before it had gotten bad. He wasn't the type to cuddle or seek physical affection from partners, at least he didn’t think he was, but perhaps that's what being in love really was? Wanting to be near? 

 

Left in relative silence, Namjoon cleared his throat, unsure. Yoongi was staring at him with an odd look on his face. Like he didn’t understand. Namjoon wasn’t sure what, exactly, Yoongi was confused by and it made him hesitate. He didn’t want to push, they’d only been working together for a week and a half, but he also knew that if he never asked, Yoongi would never talk about it. Everything he’d read online said talking about it was good. They’d recommended a therapist or counsellor, of course, but Namjoon wasn’t about to tell Yoongi he needed therapy. Especially not if Jimin, Taehyung, and Jungkook hadn't. They were closer to him and knew the situation better. Though, if he was honest, he definitely thought Yoongi needed it.

 

After more silence, Yoongi spoke again, the odd look on his face coming across in his voice as well. “You really care about him.”

 

“Of course I do. He’s the love of my life,” Namjoon told him simply, sincerity dripping from his words. Yoongi didn’t comment further, simply nodded and looked away, which just confused Namjoon even more. First, he’d been confused by their choice of language and now he was confused by Namjoon loving Seokjin. He didn’t understand what was happening, nor where this conversation had even come from, “why did you phrase it like that?”

 

“Like what?” Yoongi asked, glancing back at Namjoon, who hiked his brows but said nothing else. Seeing that look, Yoongi shifted awkwardly in his seat before sighing. “When I was… before I came here, I made a lot of… conclusions about what a relationship should include. How people in love treated each other. And I’m not talking about— about the abuse,” Yoongi hissed out, never having said that word before. “I’m talking about just… everyday life. I’d convinced myself that it was normal for your lover to say and look at you a certain way. To feel a certain way. To not be…” Yoongi trailed off, his brows furrowing before the rest just flowed out. “To not be happy. But since being here, I’ve been shown quite forcefully that’s not true. Jimin and Jungkook love each other so deeply, they just get lost in each other sometimes. It makes me… jealous, I suppose. Because I thought that didn’t happen. I’d convinced myself it didn’t, that maybe they're the exception, but they're not are they? You and Seokjin-ssi are the same. It was me that was weird.”

 

“It wasn’t you, hyung,” Namjoon said firmly, finally understanding what was happening. As Yoongi learned to deal with small, everyday things, he’d begun to notice the larger, more overarching issues. Namjoon wanted to say that he was happy Yoongi was thinking about it, coming to realize his previous relationship wasn’t normal, but he didn’t like how he’d blamed himself. Even now, Yoongi was taking the blame for something that hadn’t been anywhere near his fault. “It wasn’t. He made it that way, he made you feel that way and tainted how you felt.”

 

“Maybe,” Yoongi allowed, unsure if Namjoon was right. Seeing the way the people around him interacted, the way they loved was so new to him, he just wasn’t sure it was only Minhyuk. Who was to say that he just wasn’t capable of the all-encompassing love both couples seemed to have for each other.

 

“Not maybe. Definitely. I’ve seen the way you treat your friends, hyung. You love them. Deeply and completely. It’s not the same, but it’s important too. You're capable of loving in a way that isn’t harmful, you just haven’t found it yet.”

 

Yoongi flicked his eyes to Namjoon, a frown settling on his lips. “You sound so sure. You barely know me.”

 

“That’s true,” Namjoon acknowledged, not wanting Yoongi to think he was just saying things to make him feel better. But he was also not willing to let Yoongi think he was right, so he continued. “But as I’ve said before, I’m a great judge of character and I put value in what my friends have to say about people. It’s not how I form all my opinions, but it’s a guide. I see something about you, like they do, that you clearly don’t yet. That’s fine. It can take time but truth be told, I look forward to one day being able to say ‘I told you so.’”

 

Yoongi furrowed his brows again, remembering how Jungkook had begun his video gift with ‘how we see you’ as the theme. He’d been so shocked then. The videos didn’t show him a version of himself he recognized. Objectively, he knew it was him, but there was a light in those videos and pictures, a love, that he hadn’t been aware of. Was it the same? Or at the very least similar as Namjoon suggested? Was he building a version of himself that was capable of feeling like his friends clearly did? In all honesty, he wasn’t sure but the idea made him smile a bit. “I hope that day actually comes.”

 

“It will,” Namjoon said confidently, his tone a voice so firm it was like a promise. Yoongi found himself leaning into it, believing it, maybe even hoping for it. Who knew, right? Maybe it was possible.

 


 

Sets were, by their nature, incredibly loud. Especially when you weren’t recording video, which Taehyung pretty much never was. There were just always so many people around, staff, agents, caterers, assistants to name a few, that their voices and movements became a never-ending soundtrack to the process. Taehyung never really heard that noise though, not anymore. At first, he’d been distracted by it, constantly having to stop himself from shushing people while he tried to frame a shot just so, but now he tuned it out easily. In fact, he had the opposite problem. If a set fell quiet, it made him uncomfortable, itchy even. It told him people weren’t comfortable enough to talk or laugh. Thankfully that hadn’t happened since the hairdressing incident, but it lived in Taehyung’s mind rent-free, as most of his worries did.

 

Today, however, was a good day. The models were solid and experienced and they knew the theme and their angles well. The whole process was scheduled for four hours but had taken less than three. That news had elated him. Since he now had ample free time before his next shoot, Taehyung played around with the idea of surprising Yoongi at work with lunch, just something small so he had an excuse to see him and check how he was doing. However, by the time he returned to his office, he’d changed his mind several times. 

 

Yes, it was a good idea because Yoongi would feel appreciated. 

 

No, it was a bad idea because it made his feelings obvious. 

 

Yes, it was a good idea because he visited Jimin all the time so it was normal.

 

No, it was a bad idea because Yoongi would think he didn’t believe he’d be okay alone.

 

He’d settled back on going, at least for now, when a call from his boss interrupted his endless spiral. Slightly confused, Taehyung went to his office without waiting. His boss never called unless something was either wrong or amazing, so Taehyung figured, either way, he had to go. The second he stepped into the waiting room, his assistant rushed Taehyung in.

 

“I feel so important,” Taehyung commented as he entered, the assistant shutting the door as he took a seat. “What’s up?”

 

“I received a letter from the Nature art director,” his boss answered, his hand reaching out and tapping an envelope laying on his desk. “It's about your portfolio.”

 

“Did you open it?” Taehyung asked, his eyes darting to the envelope then back up to his boss’ face.

 

“No.”

 

Taehyung narrowed his eyes. “But you know what it says.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Tell me,” Taehyung ordered, his eyes fixed on the envelope.

 

“Read it yourself, Taehyung.”

 

Frowning now, Taehyung grabbed the envelope and tore it open. It took him less than a second to figure out the kind of letter it was: a rejection. They’d said no. Taehyung blinked, somewhat shocked. He honestly hadn’t considered the possibility that he’d be rejected. He had years of experience and a pricey education. How could they say no? Reading on, Taehyung started to laugh. “They said if I had more experience, I’d be better. Their exact words are ‘with more experience, your skills will be unrivalled.’ How can I get more experience than what I have?”

 

His boss nodded. “I didn’t get the same information, but I’d assumed as much based on what he emailed me.”

 

“Which was?” Taehyung asked, not bothering to look up.

 

“He said you were talented and recommended an internship at the magazine. He was excited actually, said you had the raw talent to be amazing.”

 

“Raw talent,” Taehyung repeated. “I was just the head on a million-dollar shoot that finished under time.”

 

His boss sighed. “You know photographing people and nature are different things. I know you know that.”

 

Taehyung grimaced but nodded, realizing he was snapping at his boss for something he had absolutely no part in. “Thank you for letting me try.”

 

“I’m sorry it worked out this way. If you want, I can arrange for you to work on some shoots with them. It won’t be the same but maybe you can get more experience…”

 

Incredibly thankful, Taehyung inclined his head, “thank you. I’ll think about it. I just— need time to process this.”

 

“I understand,” his boss agreed, his voice sympathetic. He also hadn’t expected Taehyung to fail so he wasn’t really sure what to say. But once again glancing at the email, he added, “the art director did ask to buy one of your photos though.”

 

“Buy one?” Taehyung echoed. “But why?”

 

His boss raised an eyebrow. “Because you included one with a person in it, didn’t you?”

 

“I did,” Taehyung admitted, refocusing on the rejection letter in front of him. He’d decided to include the photo he’d taken of Yoongi the first time they’d gone out together. It was a simple photo, just Yoongi relaxing while surrounded by the colours of Fall, but Taehyung loved it, so he’d added it in. The art director apparently agreed, “but I won’t sell it.”

 

“I assumed not,” his boss replied honestly. “I’m assuming it’s special if you included it.”

 

“It is.”

 

His boss nodded, mulling over what to say next. He’d known Taehyung since he was a fresh graduate, wet behind the ears and ever eager. He was still his boss, so there were only so many lines he could cross, but he found himself adding one last thing. “Maybe he’d like it.”

 

“Who?” Taehyung asked, barely paying attention.

 

“The one who inspired you to do this. The one in the photo. Maybe he’d like it for himself.”

 

Taehyung’s head snapped up in surprise. He hadn’t told his boss who was in the photo, nor had the man even seen the picture since his portfolio had been sealed. Taehyung remembered his boss telling him to re-evaluate what Yoongi meant to him when he’d first come to him with the idea to try doing nature photography. Once again, he was faced with the reality that literally everyone knew what he was feeling before he did. It was slightly mortifying, but he chose not to address it here. “He might. I’m going to go out for lunch since I have a few hours free. I’ll have my phone.”

 

“No problem,” his boss agreed, watching him leave after a short bow, the letter still clutched in his hands. After the door closed, he spun towards his monitor and began putting out feelers for nature photoshoots in need of multiple photographers. He hadn’t been bluffing when he’d suggested putting Taehyung in different environments. Taehyung was talented and well-liked, which meant, if he could, he was going to try and help him any way possible. Within reason anyway.

 

In somewhat of a fog, Taehyung returned to his office and grabbed his jacket before leaving the building behind. He was moving on autopilot. Without even really being aware, he stopped at a fast food place and grabbed lunch before heading for the record label. It wasn’t until he was walking past security with a half-hearted wave to those who recognized him that he realized he’d come to see Yoongi as he’d initially planned. His steps faltered a bit at the realization but he continued forward, deciding that he’d wanted to come before getting bad news so it was okay after too.

 

More than familiar with the way, Taehyung arrived at Namjoon’s studio fairly quickly and rang the doorbell. After a few seconds, the door opened to Namjoon, who was still holding his headphones around his neck and wearing a confused look. “Oh, Tae. What brings you by?”

 

“Lunch?” Taehyung replied, holding up the bag.

 

“That’s nice,” Namjoon nodded, glancing at the bag and cups Taehyung held, seeing only two. He returned his eyes to Taehyung’s face, noting the sadness lingering underneath the mask, and smiled. “Actually, that’s perfect. I have a meeting. Why don’t you and hyung hang out?”

 

“Oh but—”

 

“Yoongi-hyung?” Namjoon called, interrupting Taehyung. “Tae’s here with food. I have to go to a meeting but I’ll be back in an hour or so. Are you okay on your own?”

 

Yoongi looked up and pulled off his headphones. “Sure?”

 

“Perfect,” Namjoon declared, quickly tossing his headphones on his desk and saving his work. “Be back in a bit, have fun.”

 

“Hyung, you don’t have to— and he’s already gone. Damn, he’s quick,” Taehyung muttered, watching as Namjoon practically ran down the hallway.

 

“Did you bring me lunch?” Yoongi asked, smiling softly at Taehyung who was still lingering in the doorway.

 

“I did,” Taehyung agreed, awkwardly closing the door and settling on the couch. “Just burgers.”

 

Yoongi smiled. “Mmm, it’s been a while since I’ve had one. I’m excited.”

 

Taehyung nodded easily and handed Yoongi his burger and bag of fries, which Yoongi took eagerly. There was an odd air about Yoongi today, Taehyung noticed somewhat belatedly. He seemed happy but in a different way than usual. Maybe it was just because Taehyung was feeling low, but he liked it. Like seeing Yoongi that way. “Enjoy.”

 

The only response was a grunt of sorts, Yoongi’s mouth already filled with the burger. He scrunched his nose when Taehyung looked at him, but otherwise kept eating. Taehyung didn’t notice, but Yoongi was watching him closely. He’d looked sad since the moment he’d stepped in and Yoongi wasn’t really sure how to approach it. Taehyung was always the one offering comfort so it put Yoongi in a different role than before. He wanted to help though, so he waited, eating silently in the hopes that Taehyung would bring it up. He didn’t, so by the time Yoongi was cleaning up the garbage, he was getting antsy, which just pushed him forward. “Tae?”

 

“Hmmm?”

 

“Do you want to talk about it?” Yoongi asked, echoing Taehyung’s words to him when he’d had a panic attack at dinner.

 

Taehyung’s eyes snapped up and he frowned. “That obvious, huh?”

 

“Yea,” Yoongi admitted. “You’re usually so… bright. But not today. Something’s dimmed your light.”

 

“They rejected my portfolio,” Taehyung whispered, his shoulders curling forward. “They said I needed more experience and I just— they said no.”

 

“Oh, Tae,” Yoongi responded, already moving to wrap an arm around his shoulders. “I’m so sorry.”

 

“Thanks,” Taehyung replied, his lips turning downward as he struggled to maintain composure. “I never thought— I just assumed I’d get in.”

 

Yoongi moved closer and pulled Taehyung in, using the arm already around his shoulders to direct him forward so he ended up with his head burning in Yoongi’s neck. “It’s okay to be upset, Tae.”

 

“I—” Taehyung tried, the tears he hadn’t even been aware he was holding back rushing forward without warning. “Shit.”

 

“It’s okay, Tae,” Yoongi whispered, rubbing his upper arm soothingly. “I’m so sorry. You’re so talented, so don’t give up, okay?”

 

Taehyung nodded, breathing deeply. Yoongi smelled comforting. He’d never really noticed before. He used the same fabric softener as Jimin, but his own scent lingered underneath and settled Taehyung a bit. Must be love, Taehyung’s already swirling thoughts provided unhelpfully. It made him laugh, which surprised Yoongi, who pulled back in confusion, prompting Taehyung to come up with an excuse. “They wanted to buy one of my photos but only the one I included of you.”

 

Me?

 

“Yea. The one from my secret place.”

 

“Oh,” Yoongi breathed, remembering that as the first time he’d ever seen himself from someone else’s perspective since leaving Minhyuk. “Did you?”

 

“No,” Taehyung said, shaking his head where it still rested on Yoongi’s shoulder. “It’s your photo.”

 

Yoongi smiled. “I’m just in it. It’s your photo, Tae.”

 

“Nah, it’s yours. Your first freedom photo. I’d rather you have it than some random art director.”

 

“Then I’d be honoured,” Yoongi agreed, relaxing back into the couch now that Taehyung seemed to have a better handle on his emotions. Taehyung followed him down, but Yoongi didn’t mind. “You’re going to try again, right?”

 

“Maybe.”

“If I can, you can,” Yoongi murmured, taking in the equipment he’d had so many problems even looking at the week prior. It amazed him almost constantly how far he’d come in such a short period of time, but he supposed he had people like Namjoon to thank for that. And Taehyung. And Jimin and Jungkook and even Hoseok. People who offered support. Like he was doing now. “I believe in you.”

 

“Thanks, Yoongi.”

 

Yoongi.

 

Blinking, Yoongi glanced down at the top of Taehyung’s head, his eyebrows furrowed.

 

We decided to do what we could to level out the dynamics... always speak honestly and casually... just using our names isn’t the biggest move, but it means we’re equals even in language.

 

Had Taehyung always used only his name? He wasn’t sure. He remembered telling him to call him hyung months ago, but he hadn’t noticed when that stopped. Was it recent? Did it mean the same thing? 

 

Right now is not about you, Yoongi chastised himself, refocusing on Taehyung. “no problem. Anyone would say the same.”

 

“But they didn’t,” Taehyung murmured, his eyes closed. He was still sad, the feeling weighing on him, but he felt better having told someone. It wasn’t locked up inside now. “So it means more coming from you.”


“Then I’ll say it whenever you need to hear it,” Yoongi said after a moment, unused to dealing with a fragile Taehyung but wanting to be as helpful as possible. He maintained that goal the entire time Taehyung stayed at the studio and even when he left with a small, sad smile on his lips, Yoongi found himself wondering how to help once he got home. He focused on that even as the little voice in the back of his head kept repeating his own name over and over: we’re equals even in language.

Chapter Text

“Thank you for doing this, Kookie,” Yoongi murmured as he looked between the two options he held in his hands. After a moment, he chose one and put it on the basket Jungkook was carrying. 

 

“It’s no problem. I think it’s a good idea anyway plus I get free food,” Jungkook said with a shrug.

 

“Well, not free,” Yoongi reminded him. He’d come up with a great plan. Way back when Yoongi had first started talking to Taehyung, he’d asked Yoongi to teach him to cook. At the time, the idea had terrified Yoongi but now he thought it would be a great opportunity to cheer Taehyung up. He’d coached him through some random parts of recipes the past few months, but nothing complex and certainly not a full meal. Taehyung had asked, several times in fact, if Yoongi could show him how to make a chicken dinner. Yoongi hadn’t had the chance yet so he figured now was the perfect time. Worst case scenario they ended up eating in.

 

“Basically free. Not like I don’t pitch in for groceries anyway,” Jungkook pointed out.

 

Yoongi watched him toss some blueberries into the basket and smiled. “At least with you around the fruit actually gets eaten.”

 

“Yea, seriously. Why buy so much fruit if you’re not going to eat it?” Jungkook wondered as he added some yogurt as well.

 

“That’s what I said!” Yoongi agreed, smiling over his shoulder as he made his way toward the spice aisle. 

 

Jungkook followed behind quickly, unwilling to leave Yoongi alone. Yoongi wasn’t entirely aware of this, but Jungkook was waiting for something else to happen. He knew Minhyuk hadn’t just given up. If anything, the fact that he hadn’t appeared again just meant he was planning something. It made Jungkook antsy, which meant he was going to make sure Yoongi was never alone in public. At least for now. “What else do we need?”

 

“Just a few spices. I’m just going to teach him how to back a full chicken. It’s pretty low impact in terms of prep so it should be fine. We already have veggies and stuff for sides so it should be fine.”

 

Nodding, Jungkook blinked at all the spices, half of which he didn’t recognize. “You think he can handle all this?”

 

“I do,” Yoongi agreed, grabbing the spices he needs and tossing them in the basket. “He’s not as bad as he thinks. Just needs a little guidance.”

 

“Or a lot,” Jungkook snickered.

 

Yoongi nudged Jungkook’s arm, “Shush.”

 

“Sorry, hyung,” Jungkook apologized though he was still laughing. Yoongi shook his head at him, but didn’t comment further. He knew Jungkook didn’t mean anything by it. 

 

Once they reached the line, Yoongi shoved his hands in his pockets and spaced out a bit, looking around for something to keep his attention. Since they’d come after Yoongi got off work, it was pretty busy, the line long. Yoongi was patient, so he didn’t mind but he knew Jungkook would grow antsy quickly. Grabbing one of the trashy magazines from the stand, Yoongi scanned the cover and snorted. “10 tips to shed those pounds, perfect for me.”

 

Jungkook hiked a brow. “If you lost more pounds you’d vanish. If anything, you need to bulk up.”

 

“Maybe I’ll go to the gym with you,” Yoongi replied easily, barely paying attention as he flipped through the magazine.

 

“You say that like I won’t drag you there,” Jungkook quipped.

 

“I dare you to try.”

 

“Mean,” Jungkook replied, grabbing a magazine for himself. “Oh, 6 tricks your man will love.”

 

“You need tips?” Yoongi snorted.

 

Jungkook hummed. “Can’t hurt. Let me see… oh my god, hyung.”

 

“What?” Yoongi asked, suddenly curious entirely due to the look on Jungkook’s face. Without speaking, Jungkook turned to the magazine towards him. Yoongi frowned and read quickly, only for his mouth to drop open. “Did they… did they just call doggy style… mammoth style?”

 

“Okay, I read that right… let me see… holy fuck what is this? I’m not exactly adventurous but this is vanilla as shit. One of the recommendations is doing it on a table. Who wrote this?” Jungkook asked, his voice filled with both mirth and shock.

 

“Someone who has never touched a dick, clearly,” Yoongi snickered.

 

“Suddenly I feel so much better about my vanilla ass preferences,” Jungkook said with a snort, shoving the magazine away and grabbing another that looked like celebrity news. Yoongi narrowed his eyes, remembering his conversation with Taehyung about Jimin’s preferences. They were not what Yoongi would call ‘vanilla.’ Maybe he hadn’t been… around much but degradation felt, well, not vanilla. Yoongi bit his lip and stared at Jungkook, unsure. The line moved forward a bit, forcing Jungkook to put the magazine back, but they still had five or six people in front of them so they had time. Which just meant Yoongi continued to stare. Eventually, Jungkook noticed and frowned. “Are you okay, hyung?”

 

“Yea,” Yoongi replied hastily, looking away.

 

“If I made you uncomfortable—” Jungkook began, clearly worried.

 

“No, I’m okay. I promise. I just—” Yoongi broke off, hesitating. This was not exactly the place to bring this up nor was it any of his business anyway but now Jungkook was looking at him so concerned and he felt like he needed to explain. “When we were younger, the walls of Jimin’s apartment were thin so I heard… a lot of his… encounters.”

 

Jungkook blinked at him. “Um, okay?”

 

Yoongi rubbed his forehead. “So, I… know what he’s, um, into.”

 

“Why would th— oh,” Jungkook realized, his cheeks heating. “I see.”

 

“So I just— it made me wonder if perhaps I’m not sure what vanilla means,” Yoongi explained, trying desperately to explain in a way that didn’t involve them talking about degradation in a fucking supermarket. Yoongi already wanted to sink into the floor so he was sure Jungkook did too.

 

“We don’t— I don’t—” Jungkook hastened to say, then took a deep breath. “We don’t do that.”

 

“What?” Yoongi asked, confused.

 

“We don't— I don’t like it. We tried and I… may have cried,” Jungkook admitted, ducking his head. “So we don’t do it.”

 

“Kook, you don’t need to tell me. I’m sorry for bringing it up at all. It’s not my business,” Yoongi said quickly, though his mind was racing. Jungkook didn't like it so they didn't do it. So simple. And yet he’d had to put up with it for years. Had to tune Minhyuk out so he could even try to enjoy having sex with him. It seemed so obvious. If both partners didn’t like it, then you didn’t do the act. Why hadn’t it worked that way for him? Because he’s a controlling, abusive asshole, Yoongi. You know that. He liked that you weren’t into it.

 

Jungkook nodded and scratched his cheek, his eyes flicking around to see if anyone was listening. “I just don’t want you to think I’m doing something I’m not. We found other stuff we both like so we do that. I just— anyway, no.”

 

“Thanks for telling me,” Yoongi said softly, causing Jungkook to send him a look. For some reason Yoongi wasn't sure of, he knew that Jungkook knew. Somehow, someway, Jungkook had found out that Minhyuk was into it too. Maybe Jimin had told him. He’d known for years since Yoongi had told him when he and Minhyuk first got together. Maybe Taehyung had mentioned it after Yoongi told him over breakfast. Likely to make sure Jungkook and Jimin didn’t trigger something for him. Either way, Jungkook knew and Yoongi wanted to clarify. “Even if you were, it wouldn't matter. Everyone has their thing.”

 

That seemed to catch Jungkook off guard, but he nodded slowly. “I know. I don’t judge that hyung likes it, I just won't do it and he doesn't ask.”

 

“That’s good, Kook,” Yoongi murmured. 

 

He didn’t mean for his mood to shift so dramatically. He had been joking around just a few minutes prior, but the sudden realization, or rather forced admittance, that there were couples who compromised lowered his mood. Much like his views on relationships, he’d just assumed there were things lovers did for one another even if they hated it. He still assumed this could be true. He’d seen and heard enough people complaining about giving oral to know it happened, but he was realizing that there were levels. Not liking sucking dick and not liking someone degrading you during sex were very different things.

 

Still lost in his own thoughts, Yoongi mindlessly began to place their items on the converter belt before standing aside for Jungkook to pay. It wasn’t until they’d packed the car and pulled out of the parking lot that Jungkook spoke again. “Did I say something wrong?”

 

“What? No, of course not.”

 

“Then why do you feel… sad,” Jungkook said, his hands flexing on the wheel like he was upset with himself.

 

Yoongi’s mouth tilted up. “Because I’ve been realizing a lot this week.”

 

Jungkook looked at him quickly before returning his eyes to the road. “Like?”

 

“Well, like the fact that I don’t even know what a normal relationship looks like. At least not for me. I was talking to Namjoon and I just— I realized that it’s not normal to be unhappy with your partner. That not liking them or what they do isn’t normal. I just assumed it was. That real couples weren’t as happy as they were in movies.”

 

“Hyung…” Jungkook breathed out, his shoulders falling.

 

“But I see now that’s wrong. You and Jimin are so happy and I see actual love there. And I hear it when Namjoon talkings to Seokjin-ssi. It’s real and beautiful, Kookie. I just never… it’s new to me.”

 

Jungkook struggled for a moment then sighed. “I’m glad you know now.”

 

“Me too, but you just pointed out something else to me, that’s why I was sad.”

 

Licking his lips, Jungkook pulled over to the side of the highway. He turned off the car and folded his hands in his lap. Yoongi watched in shocked silence, unsure what was happening. Jungkook closed his eyes and rested his head on the steering wheel. Yoongi pressed down on his lower lip, confused. Eventually, Jungkook spoke without moving. “What did he do?”

 

Realizing that Jungkook had come to the same conclusion Taehyung had, Yoongi placed a hand on Jungkook’s shoulder and squeezed. “Not that. Never like that, Kook.”

 

Jungkook took a stuttered breath and nodded. “But similar?”

 

“I suppose,” Yoongi allowed, not really willing to consider it that way. “It was more that he liked… what Jimin likes and I don’t. But he liked saying those things so I just… let him.”

 

“But you didn’t like it.”

 

“No.”

 

“And he knew that,” Jungkook said, his teeth clenched.

 

Yoongi sighed. “Yes.”

 

“I swear I’ll kill him. I will.”

 

For some reason, that made Yoongi smile. Jungkook was a large man with tattoos, long hair, and piercings. He looked intimidating, however, he was anything but. Yoongi was convinced that though he knew how to throw a punch, he never could. Which was perhaps why Yoongi was so comfortable around him. That feeling only amplified when Jungkook turned to him, his lips pouting. “Why are you laughing?”

 

“Sorry, you’re just so soft, Kookie.”

 

Jungkook sighed and leaned back. “I know. My greatest weakness. But you know who isn't? Jimin-hyung. He’ll do it for me.”

 

“I’m sure he would.”

 

Closing his eyes, Jungkook rested his head on the seat. He was quiet for a moment, clearly thinking so Yoongi let him. Jungkook always found the more he learned about Yoongi’s past four years, the harder it was for him to move past it. He was already so worried that Minhyuk would take Yoongi away and now knowing all he did, it was much worse. He knew that it was good he knew. That it meant something that Yoongi had been able to tell him so casually but it still hurt to think about. To picture Yoongi in that way even briefly. 

 

He hadn’t been kidding. When Jimin had first told him what he liked, Jungkook had hesitated but he'd been confident so Jungkook had agreed to try. It had been hard. The things he’d said… he still didn't like to think about. Jimin had loved it, but Jungkook hadn’t. The second they were done, he’d cried and rambled apologies. After that, they’d sat down and had a conversation about likes and dislikes. They’d managed to find a middle ground that satisfied them both. It ended up that Jungkook quite liked dirty talk, just not the mean kind and Jimin had been okay with that. 

 

But the thing that hurt Jungkook the most about all this was that Jungkook had been on the giving end. Jimin had asked him to degrade him. That was not what Yoongi had described. Minhyuk had been hurting him verbally during sex even though Yoongi didn’t like it. Jungkook was sure it was a miracle Yoongi didn't have more self-confidence or sexual hang-ups. Which, Jungkook admitted, he wasn’t sure he didn’t. Yoongi obviously wasn’t dating or seeing anyone, so it made him wonder if that wouldn’t present itself until a sexual situation. Which obviously brought his mind to Taehyung, who was so clearly hung up on Yoongi it was sad. Did Taehyung know? Could he handle that? After a moment of consideration, Jungkook decided if anyone could, it was Taehyung.

 

Realizing he’d been silent for far too long, Jungkook opened his eyes and looked at Yoongi. It had grown dark, as it always did this time of the afternoon during the winter, so Yoongi was cast in shadow, but he could see the older man watching him steadily, clearly waiting for Jungkook to work through his thoughts. Yoongi was good at doing that which Jungkook appreciated. Even if he felt a bit stupid having to do so when Yoongi was the one who suffered. With that in mind, Jungkook locked eyes with Yoongi. “I’m so glad you’re okay, hyung. I’m sorry that happened.”

 

“Thank you, Kookie,” Yoongi said sincerely, squeezing Jungkook’s arm again. The younger man smiled and nodded before turning the car back on and pulling back into traffic. Yoongi watched him out of the corner of his eye, his thoughts still wandering. He wondered if it was okay to base his idea of what a relationship should look like on Jimin and Jungkook. They so clearly cared for each other and had a healthy relationship, but Yoongi couldn’t help but wonder if he should start thinking about his future in a different context. Maybe see another type of couple. 

 

He frowned to himself, feeling slightly creepy at the idea of just watching random couples, but he didn’t know how else to go about it.

 

We decided pretty early to treat each other equally.

 

Yoongi blinked, considering. Maybe it was time he met Seokjin.

 


 

Feeling more drained than usual, Taehyung stepped into his apartment and dropped his bag. He was in the process of taking off his shoes when Yoongi suddenly appeared in front of him, hands clasped together with an earnest look on his face. Taehyung blinked at him. “Um, yes?”

 

“I have a surprise.”

 

Taehyung blinked again. “A surprise.”

 

“Yes. Come here, come!” Yoongi ordered, waving him forward. Taehyung’s eyebrows snapped together, endeared by Yoongi’s clear enthusiasm. 

 

“Okay, okay,” Taehyung agreed, letting Yoongi grab his wrist and pull him towards the kitchen. When he stepped inside he saw ingredients scattered about and a cutting board on the counter with a knife on top. It looked like it usually did when Yoongi cooked except nothing seemed to be prepared yet. “Am I supposed to just… get it?”

 

Yoongi frowned, his hands moving to his shirt collar and tugging. “I bought chicken.”

 

“Chicken…” Taehyung repeated, “I don’t— oh. Yoongi, I— are you sure?”

 

“If you want?” Yoongi said, looking less confident than he had a few minutes before.

 

Taehyung’s eyes drifted to the counters again and he smiled. He’d honestly forgotten about asking Yoongi to teach him to cook chicken. It had been a random thought, just something to bond over. But he remembered using it as an excuse to get Yoongi to talk to him when he’d tried to flee Jungkook. And a joke he’d told when Hoseok teased him about his cooking: Yoongi’ll teach me, just you watch! He couldn’t believe Yoongi had remembered. He felt his lips tremble. “I’d love to, Yoongi. I— thank you.”

 

Immediately brightening, Yoongi bounced a bit. “I picked a simple recipe so it should be great!”

 

“Let’s do this!” Taehyung said, enthusiasm leaking into his tone. He’d been exhausted when he’d come home but now he was energized. But before they started, he needed to do one thing. Surging forward, he pulled Yoongi into a tight hug. “Thank you so much, Yoongi. It means so much to me. Seriously.”

 

“I’m glad,” Yoongi whispered back, mildly thrown off. Not because Taehyung had touched him but because he kept using his name. Now that he was aware of it, he noticed how often Taehyung did it. Where Jungkook or Jimin would say hyung, Taehyung always said Yoongi. He couldn’t help but feel a flash of warmth every time he heard it.

 

“Now where do I start?” Taehyung asked, pulling away with a large, boxy smile.

 

Yoongi blinked at him, then smiled. “With the veggies!”

 

The process was slow, as Yoongi had expected. A meal that would take him less than a half-hour to prep took Taehyung double that. But it was fine. He was so concentrated, a small pout forming as he focused on peeling the vegetables and cutting them properly. Yoongi had made the mistake of mentioning they should be the same size earlier and now Taehyung was methodically comparing each piece. He supposed it would frustrate most people but Yoongi just watched patiently, his hand shoved in his pockets underneath the apron Taehyung had gotten him.

 

When he’d first put it on, Taehyung had lit up even more so than before. It had made Yoongi slightly self-conscious but he’d been too happy to finally be wearing the apron for him to really notice. But then Taehyung adjusted the neck-straps gently, a smile on his face, you look good, Yoongi. There it was, his name again. Always his name. It had distracted Yoongi but he’d shaken it off, focusing on the task at hand. This was about cheering Taehyung up, not Yoongi’s hang-up regarding his name.

 

And cheer up Taehyung it did. He was practically beaming as he coated the potatoes and carrots in herbs and oil before placing them to the side. Even when he was preparing the chicken, which can be gross when you’ve never done it before, he didn’t pause or hesitate, he just hummed and followed Yoongi’s instructions. He had noticed Taehyung trying to add extra salt but he’d caught him beforehand. He really was heavy-handed with salt as he’d said.

 

Once everything was laid out and ready to go, Taehyung stepped back, his hands held up awkwardly since he’d just touched raw chicken, and looked at Yoongi. “What now?”

 

“Now, place the chicken in the middle of the skillet.”

 

Taehyung nodded, doing as he was told. He frowned at the skillet, noticing it was heavier looking than normal ones. “What is this?”

 

“Cast iron skillet,” Yoongi answered as he turned on the sink tap and gestured for Taehyung to wash off his hands. “So it can go in the oven.”

 

“I didn't even know we had one.”

 

“You didn’t. Jimin bought it after I came here. He knows I like cooking with one,” Yoongi admitted. “Wow, take the veggies and place them around the chicken.”

 

Taehyung pursed his lips. “It should look pretty right?”

 

“Sure,” Yoongi agreed, leaning back on the counter. Taehyung didn’t answer as he diligently began to arrange the carrots and potatoes around the chicken, making sure they were adequately spaced and appealing. It really didn't matter, but Yoongi found himself smiling as Taehyung frowned down at his work. 

 

Eventually, he stepped back with a firm nod and turned to Yoongi again, who gestured. “Now put it in the oven!”

 

“That’s it?”

 

“That’s it,” Yoongi confirmed. “When it comes out we can fry the veggies a bit more so they have more crispness but that’s optional. You’re almost done.”

 

“Wow, I didn’t fuck it up,” Taehyung murmured, his eyes clearly surprised.

 

“I told you it wasn’t that hard. Now you can finally go change, we have about an hour before it’s ready.”

 

Taehyung looked at it for a moment more then smiled. “Okay!”

 

Yoongi snorted as he left before turning to the mess. Taehyung hadn’t cleaned as he went, which was Yoongi’s fault because he hadn’t told him to, so he spent the next little bit cleaning the area and tossing the garbage. He was in the middle of wiping down the counter when Jimin appeared. He leaned on the doorjamb and smiled. “That was nice of you.”

 

“Well, he’s been a bit down and this was easy,” Yoongi explained.

 

“Maybe it was easy for you,” Jimin acknowledged, “but it meant a lot to him. People get frustrated because he needs detailed instructions. I tried to teach him once but I ended up taking over since I could do it faster but you didn't do that.”

 

“Oh, well, it’s not a big deal.”

 

“I know, but it is to him. This was a really good idea, hyung. I just wanted you to know.”

 

Yoongi flushed. “Thanks.”

 

“Now, go follow your own advice. Kook and I can do the dishes since you two cooked.”

 

“Oh, but I—”

 

“Shoo, off with you,” Jimin ordered, making Yoongi laugh.

 

“Alright, I’m going.”

 

“Good,” Jimin smiled, noticing that Yoongi left without a backward glance. Jungkook came in right after with an eyebrow raised. Jimin nodded, “I noticed. He didn’t even argue.”

 

Jungkook sighed. “I can’t believe the difference.”

 

“I know,” Jimin agreed, leaning into Jungkook as he wrapped his arms around Jimin and pulled him in. “It’s like a miracle.”

 

“Nope, just hard work,” Jungkook said, wanting to give credit to Yoongi’s healing process where he could.

 

Jimin nodded against Jungkook’s chest, then pinched his side. “Alright, let’s clean.”

 

“Ugh, I can’t believe you roped me into this, hyung. I paid for the food!”

 

“Awe, in that case, you can dry.”

 

Jungkook narrowed his eyes. “I don’t know how that changes anything.”

 

Not bothering to respond, Jimin simply smiled and began washing the first dish, making Jungkook sigh before he begrudgingly grabbed the dishtowel. The things he did for love.

 


 

When Yoongi returned to the kitchen, he found Taehyung sitting on the floor in front of the oven, eyes fixed on the small window. “Whatcha doing?”

 

“Watching it cook,” Taehyung explained, his eyes never leaving the oven. 

 

Yoongi glanced at the timer, noting there were only a few minutes left, and offered. “Want to take it out and check the temperature?”

 

“Temperature?” Taehyung repeated, finally looking up at Yoongi.

 

“Yup. To make sure it’s cooked properly.”

 

Taehyung scrambled up. “Okay.”

 

Smiling slightly, Yoongi grabbed the thermometer. “Okay, put the metal into the thickest part of the thigh and tell me what the temp says.”

 

Moving slowly, Taehyung did as he was told and watched the numbers climb with rapt attention. When it stopped, he read it out loud. “75°C.”

 

“Perfect,” Yoongi smiled. “Now take it out and place it on the cloth. We’ll take the chicken out to let it rest. Did you want to fry the veggies more?”

 

Taehyung looked between Yoongi and the vegetables. Honestly, it looked amazing but he wanted it to be perfect, so he nodded. 

 

“Works for me,” Yoongi agreed before he proceeded to show Taehyung the process. By the time the vegetables were done, Yoongi was able to cut the chicken, which Taehyng gracefully declined to do, instead offering to set the table and get the other two. 

 

And thus, three hours after Taehyung had arrived home, the four sat around a meal entirely made by Taehyung, who was practically vibrating in his seat. Yoongi watched him with a soft look, completely endeared, while Jimin and Jungkook tentatively took a bite. As Yoongi suspected, it was perfect.

 

“Tae, this is so good, what the fuck?” Jimin muttered, already taking another bite.

 

“Hyung, seriously. It’s good,” Jungkook agreed, though it was hard to understand since he hadn’t actually stopped eating.

 

Taehyung looked like was about to burst but he held it in long enough to tackle Yoongi in a hug. “Thanks, Yoongi.”

 

Yoongi patted his back. “It’s not a problem. Now, why don’t you eat what you made!?”

 

Nodding against his shoulder, Taehyung pulled back with a glowing smile and began to eat, Yoongi caught Jimin’s eyes across the table and he nodded in Taehyung’s direction, once again pointing out how something so simple to Yoongi had made Taehyung so happy. Much like, Yoongi realized, the apron Taehyung had gotten him. Simple yet perfect.

 

The rest of the dinner was mostly silent, all too caught up in eating, but once they were done and conversation had started again, Yoongi crossed his legs and began to tap his fingers on his knee. Taehyung noticed his distraction. “Yoongi?”

 

“Hmm?” Yoongi answered. “oh, sorry. Did you ask me something?”

 

“No, you just looked far away.”

 

“I was just thinking,” Yoongi admitted, “about Seokjin-ssi.”

 

“Jin-hyung?” Jungkook asked. “Why?”

 

“I feel like I should meet him, no? I work with his boyfriend and you are all his best friends. I think it’s been too long, don’t you?”

 

Taehyung and Jimin exchanged a look before focusing on Yoongi. Jimin spoke first. “If you want. We just didn't want to overwhelm you.”

 

“He’s a lot but a great guy,” Taehyung added in way of explanation.

 

“I know, I’ve heard from Namjoon. I’d like to have him over for dinner this weekend if that’s okay. Hoseok and Namjoon too.”

 

Jimin’s eyes widened but he nodded. “Of course. It’s been a while since we did that.”

 

Yoongi frowned. “I know you’ve been changing the way you do things for me, and I’m really grateful, but I think it’s time I get used to things that aren’t all planned out, you know? Like having someone over for dinner without several weeks of planning.”

 

“That works for us, right?” Jimin asked, earning nods from the other two. “Then this weekend it is! If Jin-hyung is available obviously.”

 

“Yea, there is that,” Yoongi admitted, knowing that last minute didn’t always work. He felt better though. He’d been holding off meeting Seokjin but now he felt like it was the time. He was the last member of the friend group and he was Namjoon’s boyfriend. If not now, when? 

 

Plus, Yoongi kinda wanted to observe Namjoon and Seokjin together. Two birds, one stone.

 


 

As anyone who’d been paying attention to Seokjin’s less than subtle demands to meet Yoongi would have guessed, Saturday worked fine for Seokjin. Actually, it hadn’t. He’d been forced to move a dinner meeting to a lunch meeting, but it didn’t matter because it was fine. He was so excited to meet Yoongi that Namjoon had had to practically hold him from running to the apartment a full day early. He’d stopped, of course, once he took a second to think about how jarring it would be for someone like Yoongi to suddenly be bombarded with an excited Seokjin, but he’d thought about it.

 

He was so excited, in fact, that when his lunch meeting ran long he was practically fuming. Which was why Namjoon had shown up with a bag of clothes in addition to the standard bottle of wine.

 

Jimin raised a brow at the bag. “Planning to stay the night?”

 

“No, Jin just got stuck in a meeting so he’s running late. He didn’t want to waste time going home to change, so he had me bring him clothes.”

 

“Typical Jin-hyung,” Jungkook muttered. “Impatient.”

 

Hoseok smacked him across the back of the head, making everyone laugh. If Yoongi had been present, he would have wondered why the idea of Seokjin being impatient caused that response (it was because Seokjin was the epitome of patience until it was something he wanted and then he was decidedly not), but as of now, he was far too busy panicking. He wasn’t worried about meeting him, not really. He was worried about making a good impression.

 

He’d had an idea after watching Taehyung cook. Everyone mentioned how Seokjin loved to cook but no one understood what he was talking about. They’d told him that Seokjin would like that about Yoongi. So Yoongi had decided that maybe he and Seokjin could make the dinner together so they'd be able to bond and make up for all the time he’d missed while Yoongi adjusted. At the time, he’d thought it was great but now he was panicking. Wasn’t it rude to have the guest cook? And how presumptuous was he that he just assumed Seokjin wanted to spend that much time near him?

 

God, Yoongi wanted to sink into the floor. How stupid was he? Maybe if he whipped something up real quick, no one would notice. He could do that, he’d done it before. All he needed was—

 

“Jin-hyung is here!”

 

Fuck.

 

“Ah, hello my babies! I missed you!”

 

Yoongi looked toward the general direction of the door, unsure. He didn’t know what he expected but that voice at that volume wasn’t it. Seconds later, Namjoon appeared with a small smile on his face. “Are you going to come out?”

 

“Oh, well—” Yoongi but he was interrupted as a man swept in, clearly looking for the bag Namjoon had left in the corner. As Yoongi had guessed, Seokjin was beautiful. All glowing skin and plush lips. He was wearing a suit Yoongi knew from experience cost several thousand dollars and it was clearly tailored. The colour and fit suited him perfectly. Yoongi blinked at him, partially in shock and partially in awe, when the man smiled gently.

 

“You must be Yoongi-ssi.”

 

“Oh, you can just call me Yoongi,” Yoongi said hastily, then he grabbed the bag and handed it to Seokjin. “This is yours.”

 

“Ah, my clothes. Give a second to get out of this stuffy suit then we’ll talk, yea?”

 

“S-sure.”

 

As quickly as he’d come, Seokjin left the kitchen. There was a moment of silence, then everyone came rushing in, crowding Yoongi to see if he was okay. It was clear they’d stayed out of the way to give him an opportunity to talk to Seokjin alone but now they wanted to check on him. It was nice, in an overwhelming kind of way, “I’m okay, he just said hi!”

 

Hoseok scanned his face closely then nodded. “He’s okay.”

 

“I just said that!” Yoongi snapped, frowning at Hoseok, who only smiled, which made Yoongi smile and he thus lost in the battle of wills.

 

“We’re just checking!” Jimin defended. “You were super nervous before!”

 

“Yes, about dinner, not about him,” Yoongi explained, realizing they'd all misinterpreted his panic. It made sense given his usual response to meeting people but this time they were wrong. Yoongi was a bit surprised to realize that but he didn't really have time to bask in it because Seokjin reappeared. Automatically, Namjoon wrapped an arm around his waist and pulled him in. He’d changed into loungewear now, but he still looked good. Simple jeans and an oversized hoodie suited him just as well as the thousand-dollar suit.

 

“Now, Yoongi,” Seokjin said, smiling. “I’m so glad to meet you! I’m Kim Seokjin, my friends call me Jin but I’d like it if you called me hyung like everyone else.”

 

“It’s nice to meet you… hyung,” Yoongi managed to get out, nervousness once again leaking into his voice.

 

Seokjin noticed and held back a frown. “Would you like if I gave you space?”

 

“What? No, I just— dinner…” Yoongi trailed off.

 

“Dinner?” Seokjin repeated, glancing around. He noticed some things on the counter but nothing was cooking yet. Namjoon had mentioned that Yoongi was a great cook, so he’d assumed Yoongi would be cooking but it looked like he had something else in mind. Something that made him nervous. “What was your plan for dinner?”

 

“Well, I— um, everyone said you loved to cook and I do too, so I thought— um, if maybe you wanted to help? I, uh, got two different sets of ingredients so we can do whichever you prefer. Unless you don’t want to cook since it’s your day off in which case I can definitely do it. Or order something? Maybe order something so you don’t have to wait. That would probably be better. I can just—”

 

“I’d love to, Yoongi.”

 

“—order something real— what? You would?” Yoongi trailed off, surprised but the soft smile on Seokjin’s face.

 

“I would. I do love to cook but I never really get the chance to anymore. Especially not with someone who loves it too. But first, I think maybe we should talk, don’t you?”

 

“T-talk?” Yoongi repeated, looking around for clarification but everyone else looked equally confused. This was clearly not something Seokjin usually did.

 

“Yes, talk. Jiminie, do you still have that balcony heater? I just love your view.”

 

“Um, yea, it’s on. I turned it on since you were coming.”

 

Seokjin pulled Jimin for a hug. “Ah, I love you! Okay, Yoongi, would you mind keeping me company?”

 

“N-no?” Yoongi answered, suddenly feeling overwhelmingly nervous.

 

“Perfect!” Seokjin declared before planting a loud kiss on Namjoon’s cheek and leaving the kitchen. 

 

Yoongi blinked after him then followed suit. As he passed Taehyung, he squeezed his shoulder and leaned close. “It’ll be fine. He just wants the chance to get to know you alone.”

 

“O-okay,” Yoongi said as he passed and went to the balcony. 

 

When he stepped out, he found Seokjin sitting on one of the chairs, staring off at the Seoul skyline. He smiled up at Yoongi before returning his gaze to the view. “I really do love this view.”

 

“It is nice," Yoongi agreed, sitting down in the other free seat. 

 

The heater made it warm, but the air still had a bite, winter having finally arrived and blanketed the world in white. It was nice. As calm as a bustling city ever got. It made Yoongi long for less populated areas even as he thrived in the constant noise and movement of the city. It was an odd feeling but one he’d grown used to.

 

“I’m sure you’re wondering why I pulled you out here like a parent chastising a child.”

 

“A bit,” Yoongi admitted.

 

Seokjin made a humming noise. “It’s simple actually. I just wanted you to tell me what you think of the guys inside.”

 

“What?”

 

“What do you think of them? You’ve been here for a few months, tell me your impressions.”

 

Yoongi frowned. He wasn’t sure why but he felt like Seokjin was going to put a lot of weight on what he said next so Yoongi returned his gaze to the skyline and thought it over. Only when he’d decided on what to say did he speak:

 

“I’ll start with Jimin since I’ve known him the longest. I think Jimin is the strongest person I’ve ever met. When he was young, people picked on him and he needed help but now? Now he’s the one who offers help. He’s endlessly kind and caring and he loves so much. I don’t think he’d hesitate to help someone in need, regardless of whether or not he knew them. He’s so, so talented too. He second-guesses himself but his passion shows through.

 

“Um, then there’s Taehyung. He’s so gentle and sweet. Most of the time he’s quiet and looks uninterested but he’s always listening, always paying attention. He spends so much of his time with his friends making sure they’re okay. When he talks about photography he just lights up and talks a mile a minute. He had a setback recently, but he didn’t let that stop him. One day he’ll make it. 

 

“Jungkook is a bit of a contradiction. He projects this aggressive vibe but he’s soft as a teddy bear. He’s worried about his schooling but he shouldn’t be. He’s so smart and talented that it doesn’t matter what he chooses because he’ll succeed. When him and Jimin are together, they just fit. They balance each other out in the best way possible.”

 

Yoongi hesitated, glancing at Seokjin, who hadn’t said anything, then continued. “Namjoon would be next. He’s probably the most patient person on the planet. He spends time listening and evaluating before making judgements. He’s always so careful to hear all sides before he makes a choice. His music is amazing and he’ll only continue to do remarkable things. He talks about you a lot. His voice always softens and his whole body relaxes, like just thinking about you brings him peace.

 

“I haven’t had as much alone time with Hoseok, but he’s so bright and cheerful that he lights up a room. He’s also dedicated and serious when need be. His trainees and groups alike love him and talk about him in glowing terms. He’s observant too. Always catching what others miss. Sometimes he brings Namjoon food because he’s worried and pretends it’s because you told him to. Namjoon knows it’s not but he doesn’t want to embarrass him so he doesn’t mention it.”

 

Shifting awkwardly, Yoongi trailed off. “Is that, um, what you wanted?”

 

“Yes,” Seokjin replied, still lost in thought. Over the years, he’d learned that people often revealed themselves when talking about others. It was a trick he’d picked up in order to quickly judge people and make assessments. It came in handy during meetings and business functions because he could figure out immediately what type of person he was dealing with. Broadly, they fell into two categories: for me and observations. Essentially, people who only cared about what people could do for them would describe people in the context of things they’d done or said to them or about them. Ask someone at a party what they think of the host and if they say “oh, he’s nice, you know his investment in my…” that person only liked what someone offered them. This wasn’t foolproof, of course, but it usually gave Seokjin a decent basis.

 

But sometimes you met someone like Yoongi. Someone who described people without all that. Yoongi hadn’t mentioned himself once. Seokjin knew from Namjoon that all of them had spent a lot of time with Yoongi and did things for him, but Yoongi hadn’t mentioned it. When describing them, it was always about how great they were, what they would accomplish. He offered observations on their character and small details about what they like and who they were. Yoongi didn’t think about them in terms of what they offered him. It didn't even register. Instead, he just praised them for their best qualities.

 

He understood now why Namjoon had said he was the nicest person. Yoongi didn't think of himself first, or even second. It wasn’t the most healthy quality, but one Seokjin could understand. He’d been concerned, as the only person who hadn’t met him, that he was manipulating things. This wasn’t a judgment against Yoongi. It was simply that Seokjin had never met someone who’d captured his friends’ hearts so quickly. They were generally very discerning people. Jimin’s hesitancy to date Jungkook for nearly six months was a great example of this. In the past, they’d taken time to make choices and add people to their group. That had not been the case with Yoongi so Seokjin had hesitated.

 

He didn't feel that way now. He’d gotten a hint of it when Yoongi had panicked that he’d inconvenienced Seokjin by offering him a chance to cook together but his description of his friends just solidified its conclusion. So, he turned his head and smiled softly. “Has Namjoon told you about my business?”

 

“Um, yes? Kinda. Just that you’re the CEO and your family owns it.”

 

Seokjin nodded. “I own Bangtan Construction. In my line of work, it’s good to be able to judge people quickly and efficiently. That’s why I had you describe the guys inside. When you talked about them, you put them first. It had nothing to do with you. ”

 

“So I did good?” Yoongi asked hesitantly, even as his heart stopped at the name of Seokjin’s company.

 

Seeing his reaction to his company, Seokjin filed that knowledge away for now and continued. “It’s not about doing good or bad. I just wanted to know what kind of person you are. Namjoon said you were a good person and you know he's a good judge of character but you appeared quite suddenly and everyone was so taken with you. I was a bit hesitant. I don’t trust easily, so I wanted to make my own judgments.”

 

“Which you have now?” Yoongi tried to clarify, not really understanding what the point of all this was.

 

“I have. But I do have some questions. Can you answer them?”

 

“I can try.”

 

Seokjin nodded. “Are you afraid of your ex?”

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened and his head snapped up. “I— yes.”

 

“Why?”

 

“I don’t know what he’ll do. He might hurt someone,” Yoongi admitted, unused to someone asking him questions so point-blank.

 

Someone. Seokjin wasn’t stupid. He knew that meant Yoongi was concerned with everyone else's safety rather than his own. “What does he do?”

 

“He’s an architect,” Yoongi whispered.

 

“Ah, I see. That’s why you knew my company name. He’s worked with us, hasn't he?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Seokjin frowned. “Can't say I like the idea of that. But I won’t ask you more about him. I’d rather you offer that information up yourself,” Yoongi glanced at him but didn't say anything, just proving Seokjin’s point, so he continued. “But I can make him go away. I could do it before but I can sure as hell do it if we’re in the same line of work.”

 

Yoongi shifted again. “I’ll think about it.”

 

“I figured you'd say that. Like Joon said, you’re a good person,” Seokjin said, pushing himself up. He shoved his hands in his pockets and looked down at Yoongi, who was watching him steadily. “You know it doesn’t make you a bad person to get a little bit of revenge. You can’t go the legal route, I know that, but you can do something. It’s okay to want that.”

 

“I don’t know,” Yoongi said softly, finally voicing what he’d been thinking about for a long time. “I’d just rather he leaves me alone. I just— I want to be free.”

 

“You are free, regardless of whether you do something or not. You left and you made a place for yourself. You have a home, friends, and a job. Isn't that freedom?”

 

Yoongi stood up and put his hands in his pockets just as Seokjin had done. “I’d like to think it is.”

 

Seokjin smiled. “Freedom isn’t always a complex concept. Sometimes it’s just having a place you feel comfortable and safe."

 

The idea of that made Yoongi smile. “I like that.”

 

“Perfect. Now let’s use some of that newfound freedom to whip up a kick-ass meal.”

 

“I’d like that too,” Yoongi agreed, letting Seokjin throw an arm around his shoulders and drag him inside. Truth be told, he was thrown off by Seokjin. He was loud and caring, that much was clear by the way he treated the others, but he was also analytical and careful. Yoongi had no doubt Seokjin could and would wipe Minhyuk off the face of the earth but he wasn't sure he wanted that. He just wanted Minhyuk to leave him alone. As long as he stayed in Daegu and lived his life, Yoongi didn’t care. There was no need to, not when he had a group of friends who treated him well and cared about him. Not when he had a job he was slowly reacquainting himself with. And not, Yoongi realized as Taehyung caught his eye and smiled wide, when he had someone who cared about him like Taehyung did. 

 

If he had all that, Minhyuk didn’t matter.

Chapter Text

The Monday following the dinner where Yoongi finally met Seokjin, Yoongi was on cloud nine. Or as close to it as he’d been in years. He felt like he was floating. He’d met Seokjin and even when questioned and isolated, he’d been able to handle it well. He hadn’t panicked and he’d even managed to make a good impression! Yoongi wasn’t even really sure how he’d pulled that off but he had and he was so happy about it. 

 

That night, the second Seokjin had re-entered the apartment, the seriousness from before had melted away. Yoongi was startled at first, impressed. Seokjin switched between emotions and tasks so quickly that Yoongi found himself envying it, honestly. If it had been anyone else, Yoongi would have thought it was fake, but after watching Seokjin interact with everyone else he’d realized that it wasn’t. Seokjin just seemed abnormally good at prioritizing. When talking to Yoongi, he’d focused on making his judgments, and when talking to the others he’d shifted focus to having fun. Yoongi couldn’t help but wonder if he’d ever be that socially adept. To be fair, he hadn’t been good at the whole socializing thing before so if he did manage to change, it would be nothing short of a miracle. He wasn’t holding his breath nor was he upset about it. Still envious though. 

 

The most beneficial time for Yoongi had probably been while he and Seokjin cooked together. It allowed him a chance to interact with Seokjin for a longer period of time with little interference. Aside from the (not so) occasional interruption from someone trying to steal food. But other than that, he’d been able to just talk to him. They didn’t really have all that much in common but they’d gotten along well in a way Yoongi wasn’t quite used to. He had no issues with Taehyung, Jimin, or Jungkook, but Seokjin just seemed to understand. They worked together seamlessly and the conversion had never become stilted. Not even when they’d fallen silent. The ability to exist in silence was one of the things he valued most about Jungkook’s friendship, so he was happy to find it in someone else.

 

The most telling thing, however, hadn’t been Seokjin’s interactions with Yoongi but rather Namjoon. Yoongi had spent the better part of the last two weeks watching Namjoon interact with Seokjin entirely one-sidedly. Now he was seeing both sides and it was interesting, to say the least. Seokjin watched Namjoon with this look in his eyes Yoongi had a hard time deciphering. It wasn’t love, or at least not entirely love. It was something stronger than that. Deeper. Yoongi had never seen anything like it. That kind of emotion wasn’t in movies or television shows. Nor was it even in most relationships. Jimin and Jungkook certainly didn’t look at each other like that. Not that they didn’t love each other, they very clearly did, but Seokjin was on a whole other plane entirely. 

 

He hadn’t been entirely subtle in his observations though so Seokjin had called him out. Apparently, he needed to work on that since Jungook had done the same not so long ago.

 

“Everything okay?”

 

“Huh? Oh,” Yoongi scrambled, “yes.”

 

Seokjin nodded, his eyes focused on the pork he was currently in the process of breading. After a moment, he sighed. “You know, Namjoon told me something interesting.”

 

“O-oh?”

 

“Well, not so much told as described. He was confused and didn’t really understand a conversation you two had, so he was running it by me. Know which one?”

 

Yoongi knew, but he shook his head. “No.”

 

Throwing him a look that said yes you do, Seokjin continued. “He was telling me that he didn’t understand why you’d be so surprised that Namjoon loved me. He had some theories about why but he was still a bit rattled.”

 

“I-I see,” Yoongi said, frowning down at the pot in front of him. He was aware that Namjoon talked to Seokjin about him. He’d confessed to that after the first week. Yoongi didn’t mind, not really, but being confronted with that fact was another thing entirely.

 

“You were thinking about it again, just now, weren’t you?”

 

“Not completely,” Yoongi admitted, not seeing a reason to lie. “You just look at him differently than he looks at you.”

 

“Ah,” Seokjin said, his voice soft, “I see.”

 

“I don’t understand why,” Yoongi finished, shifting awkwardly now. “But that’s not my business.”

 

“The answer is pretty simple if you want to know it.”

 

Yoongi glanced over to Seokjin hurriedly to see his face. He looked calm and serious with no hint of anger or another negative emotion on his face. Yoongi had worried that he’d overstepped his boundaries as a literal stranger, but Seokjin didn’t seem to care. “It would… help, if you don’t mind.”

 

“I don’t,” Seokjin said, then grinned lopsidedly. “The reason is that I love him more than he loves me.”

 

“W-what?” Yoongi stuttered out, dropping the wooden spoon he held which disappeared into the boiling broth. “How can you— what?”

 

Seokjin shrugged. “It’s not a bad thing. I just do. He loves me, of course. But I love him more. Not like it’s a competition or some shit, it’s just the way it is. I fell first, harder than I probably should have, so I’ve always been a bit ahead in the terms of our relationship.”

 

“That doesn’t… bother you?” Yoongi asked hesitantly.

 

“Not at all, why would it? Someone always falls first, it’s inevitable. Take Jimin and Jungkook. Our sweet youngest fell so hard there was a fucking crater before Jimin even really accepted him as a boyfriend. They’re on a more even level now, but it wasn’t always that way.”

 

Yoongi felt his stomach drop out from under him, the mere thought of loving someone who didn’t love you back horrifying him. “How do you just— how does that not hurt?”

 

Seokjin tilted his head from side to side, his lips pursed, “it does, sometimes. Or at least it did before Namjoon fell but now why would it? He loves me. We have a life together that makes us both happy. Just because I’m a step ahead doesn't mean he’s not walking with me.”

 

Those final words had ricocheted around his head the rest of the night. He felt like a scientist collecting bits of research before trying to form an assessment. Before his conversation with Seokjin, he’d seen the way the two couples interacted. Even thought about how to apply that to his life. He’d seen them, he admitted to himself, as these perfect examples of love and commitment. Seokjin admitting that there was an imbalance shattered that. But it also made Yoongi more comfortable with the idea. He hadn’t known how he could ever participate in something as perfect as that type of relationship. He was too broken for that. It had made him worry he would never get there. Seokjin had brought him back to earth. Just because they all loved each other didn’t mean it was perfect. It just so happened that they weren’t involved in toxic trash fires they called relationships. That was just Yoongi.

 

Was. Not anymore. 

 

Right, not anymore. Now the only relationships he had were based on mutual respect and friendship. Not a shitty human trying to manipulate and control him. That thought alone would have improved his mood for the entire day, but he’d also really enjoyed hanging out with Seokjin and spending time with everyone at dinner so he was practically ecstatic. A whole loud, chaotic meal and he hadn’t panicked or frozen once. He felt like a new man. A new man with a wealth of issues he knew he’d have to deal with eventually but a new man nonetheless.

 

“Earth to hyung!” Namjoon called out, waving his hand in front of Yoongi’s face. “You still here?”

 

Yoongi blinked, then turned to Namjoon who was watching him with an amused expression. “Whoops. Sorry. Did you say something?”

 

“Yea. I said I have a surprise for you.”

 

“A surprise?” Yoongi repeated warily.

 

“Well, two actually, but they’re related.”

 

Still suspicious, Yoongi simply narrowed his eyes at Namjoon. “I’m not really into surprises.”

 

Namjoon’s eyes widened immediately. “I didn’t even think. Shit. I can just tell you. Fuck, I’m so—”

 

“Woaaaaah,” Yoongi interrupted, holding up a hand. “Not like that! I won’t freak out. I’m just impatient.”

 

Practically deflating, Namjoon’s lips turned down in the corner. “Oh, jeez, hyung. Ugh, now I’m definitely not telling you beforehand.”

 

“Namjoon.”

 

“You ruin all my fun,” Namjoon pouted, shoving himself up from his seat “Just come on.”

 

Yoongi snorted at Namjoon’s defeated expression. He looked like a very large, very affectionate puppy who’d just been told no for the first time. It was endearing, but Yoongi still hated surprises. But Namjoon didn’t seem to care so he left the studio anyway and turned down the hallway. After a few steps, he glanced back once to make sure Yoongi was following before continuing on. He passed a few doors, one of which Yoongi recognized as the door Lee-PD had entered during his first week, before stopping at one. Yoongi scanned the door quickly with little interest then froze, his breath stuttering before stopping entirely.

 

Min Yoongi

Assistant 

 

“Namjoon, I—” Yoongi broke off, his hand reaching out to trace his name on the plaque beside the door. His door. It never occurred to him that he’d get an office. He wasn’t important or creating anything useful, just helping Namjoon, but here his name was, on a door of his own.

 

“Do you want to see inside?” Namjoon asked, watching Yoongi reactions carefully. He’d worried at first that Yoongi was going to have a panic attack when he’d stopped breathing, but he’d quickly started again, much to Namjoon’s relief. 

 

“Y-yes,” Yoongi agreed, his eyes never leaving the plaque. He had two things with his name on them now. Two

 

Smiling wide, Namjoon punched four zeros into the keypad. “It’s just set as 0000 now but you can set it to whatever you want. You have to let security know in the event of an emergency but otherwise, this is your space and no one will have access but you. Not even me.”

 

Only half listening, Yoongi stepped past Namjoon into his office. It was about half the size of Namjoon’s but that didn’t bother Yoongi at all. One wall was filled by a desk with an unopened laptop box sitting in the middle and a small lamp. Other than a comfortable-looking chair, the room was empty, “what is that?”

 

Namjoon followed Yoongi’s gaze to the laptop. “Laptop. You’ll need one to work and I can’t lend you mine if you’re not going to be in the same room as me. You seemed to like mine so I just grabbed the same model but you can exchange it with the supply department. They’re also the people you’ll want to talk to about furnishing this place. The desk and chair are just the basics, you’ll need to pick out your own equipment.”

 

“Equipment,” Yoongi repeated, his eyes round and voice soft.

 

“Well, yea,” Namjoon said with a shrug. “If you’re going to help me you’ll need your own set-up.”

 

Yoongi turned back to the desk. “My own…”

 

Suddenly realizing that this might be all a little overwhelming, Namjoon winced. “You don’t have to use this space. You’re more than welcome in my studio, of course. I just— I thought you’d want your own space.”

 

There was a long pause as Yoongi continued to just stare at the desk in front of him. He could imagine it already. What it would look like with his preferred models and arrangement and notebooks scattered, knick-knacks placed randomly to mark the space as his.

 

It was beautiful.

 

It terrified him.

 

Having his own space was all he’d ever wanted but it also meant he had something to lose. This was something that could be taken away from him.

 

Again.

 

He couldn’t lose his own space again. Just the thought of that nearly crippled him. Without even being aware of it, Yoongi crouched down and clutched his head. Namjoon followed him down, worry practically radiating off his in waves. “Hyung?”

 

“I’m okay,” Yoongi whispered, very much aware Namjoon thought he was having a panic attack.

 

“Um, are you sure?” Namjoon asked, still partially convinced he’d yet again triggered Yoongi.

 

“No,” Yoongi admitted with a dry laugh. “I’m scared.”

 

“S-scared?” Namjoon repeated, looking around the room frantically before turning back to Yoongi. “Was this too much? It was. Okay. That’s my bad. We can—”

 

“No, Joon, no. I just— what if someone takes this away from me?” Yoongi interrupted, voice so quiet it was barely even a whisper. Namjoon heard it though and his heart stopped. He’d never even considered that. Yoongi had lost music before. He could only imagine what the fear of losing it again would feel like. 

 

Not willing to let that idea linger longer than necessary, Namjoon spoke in a firm voice. “The only way you’ll lose this is if you personally give it up, hyung.”

 

Yoongi turned his head so he could see Namjoon, his hands still covering his head. “You don’t know that.”

 

Namjoon scrunched his nose in agreement. “That’s true, I don’t. But the only other way is if you got fired and I won’t let that happen without good reason. Are you going to slack off or turn in shit work?”

 

“No,” Yoongi denied immediately, the mere thought angering him.

 

“Are you going to show up late or insult your co-workers?”

 

“What? No!”

 

“I see. What about harassing them or hitting on people after they say no?”

 

“What the hell, of course not!” Yoongi snapped, dropping his hands and straightening his spine so he could frown at Namjoon more directly. “I would never.”

 

“Then I guess you’re never getting fired so you have nothing to worry about.”

 

Yoongi blinked in surprise, realizing what Namjoon had done. Those were all the things listed in the employee handbook as firing offences. None of which Yoongi would do. At least not purposefully, Yoongi’s shoulders sagged, “thanks, Namjoon.”

 

“Namjoon? What? Where is that ‘Joon’ I heard earlier!? I thought we were getting close. Now I’m hurt,” Namjoon whined dramatically, a hand to his chest.

 

Laughing, Yoongi pushed himself up and smiled down at Namjoon, who was still crouched down. “Thank you, Joon.”

 

“Awesome. Are we ready for surprise number two?”

 

“Honestly, I’m not sure but lay it on me,” Yoongi demanded confidently.

 

Namjoon smiled and pulled an envelope out of his back pocket and held it out to Yoongi. With furrowed brows, Yoongi took it and scanned the front. It had the company letterhead and had his name on it, so it was work-related. Yoongi was trying to figure out why the company would send him a letter when he tore it open and read the inside. It was a paycheque. For him. It was his first paycheque.

 

“It’s only for one week since you started in the middle of a pay period so it’s half of the usual. You’ll also have to set up a bank account because payroll was displeased with cutting a cheque which is why you’re only getting it today. Payday was Friday.”

 

Yoongi nodded as he read the cheque over and over and over. His vision started to blur, the font turning shaky too. That was when he realized he was crying and his hands were shaking. Covering his mouth with his free hand, Yoongi looked up at Namjoon and began to cry even harder.

 

“Hyung!” Namjoon burst out, his hands fluttering anxiously around Yoongi’s head and shoulders as if he wanted to hug him but wasn’t sure he could. “Are you okay?”

 

Nodding frantically, Yoongi tried to breathe in, only managing to hiccup in the process. “This is— this is— Namjoon, I— thank you so much.”

 

“W-what?” Namjoon said, entirely confused. He was starting to think that perhaps he wasn’t allowed to plan things for Yoongi anymore. This was not going as he planned at all.

 

“If you hadn’t— this is all— you did this. I don’t deserve it but thank you. Fuck— I said I’d stop crying all the fucking time,” Yoongi whined, rubbing his eyes which stubbornly refused to stop watering.

 

“I didn’t do anything, hyung. All I did was recommend you to a position. You’re the one who pushed yourself to be here every day even when it hurt and you’re the one who’s working really hard. You do deserve this, hyung. More than anyone I know.”

 

“T-thank you,” Yoongi cried again, this time lunging for Namjoon and hugging him tightly. Namjoon held himself still at first, not wanting to invade Yoongi’s personal space more than necessary, but as he realized Yoongi was relaxed against him, if still shaking from crying, Namjoon returned the hug, his large arms encircling Yoongi gently.

 

“Thank you for saying yes,” Namjoon said somewhat belatedly. 

 

Yoongi didn’t mind though. He simply nodded, his lips pulling up into a smile that Namjoon could feel against his chest. “Maybe surprises aren’t that bad.”

 


 

Trying to set up a bank account when you didn’t have an official address, nor any personal identification that had said address on it, was not an easy task. If Namjoon hadn’t been there, Yoongi was sure he would have ended up crying again, this time in frustration. 

 

They were about halfway through the process when the teller finally understood what neither Namjoon and Yoongi were saying outright. Yoongi saw it on her face. At first, she was looking at him in confusion, not understanding why he refused to give her the address on his license, her eyes flicking between them as Namjoon tried to explain that he was living with friends right now and wanted to use a local address. Yoongi hadn’t thought that far. He’d just said no. Once again, thank god for Namjoon jumping in to smooth it over. 

 

Her confusion had lingered in addition to her repeated claims that an account couldn’t be set up without that information. Namjoon had told her, again, that the Daegu address was not one he wanted anywhere on his record and then suddenly she’d gotten it. Her eyes had widened and looked at Yoongi, a whole new light in her eyes, then she’d nodded and muttered something about finding a loophole. Yoongi wasn’t sure what she’d done but by the time they left, Yoongi had a bank account with his first paycheque deposited, a debit card, and a sign-up bonus. She also hadn’t charged him any fees. Yoongi figured all that was worth the initial hassle.

 

On the way home, Yoongi asked Namjoon to drop him off at the grocery store so he could pick up some things for dinner. He wanted to pay for the entire meal himself. He was particularly giddy at that idea, so Namjoon had left him with a wave and a small, endeared smile. 

 

Deciding fairly quickly to make a carbonara, Yoongi grabbed all the ingredients and paid with the largest, stupidest gummy smile on his lips. He was sure the cashier thought he was nuts but he wasn’t. He even signed up for the points card because he could now. He had money to spend. He wasn’t sure if that would ever get old. He was no longer dead-weight waiting for Taehyung, Jimin, and now even Jungkook, to give him money for things. He had his own now. Not a lot, mind you, but more than before and he couldn’t believe it.

 

The walk home was uneventful, which gave him incredible relief. He’d been anxious about going out alone since Minhyuk had shown up randomly before, but at least this time he was safe. In fact, he was mindlessly enjoying the way the snow blanketed the city and the sound of salt crunching underneath his shoes when he spotted the place Minhyuk had grabbed him before and just behind it, the cafe where the young woman worked. 

 

Making a split-second decision, Yoongi ducked inside and scanned the room. Unlike last time, the young woman was standing at the cash, a bored expression on her face. Or there had been until she saw Yoongi and immediately brightened. “Oppa! Welcome.”

 

“Hi,” Yoongi said softly, stepping up quickly, “how are you?”

 

“I’m working, so you know,” she joked, smiling, “how are you?”

 

“Good. Really good. I started a new job,” Yoongi found himself saying, not knowing why the hell he was telling this to a random high schooler.

 

But she smiled. “that’s great, oppa. I’m glad.”

 

“I just wanted to stop by and say— um, thanks. For before. I know it must have been—” Yoongi broke off, his eyes drifting to the window where she’d clearly seen Minhyuk grab him. He couldn’t imagine being her age and seeing something like that, let alone doing something about it. “It must have been scary and I was too distracted at the time to thank you properly.”

 

“You may have been but you thanked me then too. And like then, there was no reason to thank me,” she said firmly, that same fire in her eyes. “I’d have fucked him up if I could.”

 

Surprised, a laugh burst out. “I bet you could.”

 

“Maybe,” she agreed, smiling again.

 

Yoongi returned her smile, then awkwardly scratched his cheek. “I guess I should order.”

 

“If you want.”

 

“I do. An iced Americano, please.”

 

“In this weather? I admire the commitment.”

 

“It’s a lifestyle,” Yoongi replied without really thinking, surprising himself. It had been years since he’d felt witty.

 

The young woman rolled her eyes playfully but got to work making his drink. When she was done, Yoongi paid, making sure to tip her generously 

 

“Oppa, you don’t have to—”

 

“Neither did you,” Yoongi cut in, smiling slightly, “thank you for the drink.”

 

“Sure,” she said, watching him go. He seemed like a nice man so she was once again incredibly happy that she’d managed to intervene before. 

 

Happily sipping on his drink, though he was aware his hand was freezing now, Yoongi walked the rest of the way home. Now that he’d bought groceries and spoken to the young woman, he felt better, like he’d accomplished something, but he wasn’t done yet. He needed to do something for Taehyung, Jimin, and Jungkook. The first two had housed him and helped him so much and Jungkook had been his friend when he’d had no one. They spent time and money on him without blinking and he wanted to repay them. The problem was he didn’t know how.

 

With the sign-up bonus he’d received, he hadn’t spent any of his actual paycheque yet. Maybe he could divide it up and give them each their share. It wouldn’t cover everything but it was a start. He could also give it all to one of them this time and then split his next paycheque in half since Namjoon had said it would be double. But that would mean two people would be left out this time and he didn’t like that. Nodding to himself, Yoongi decided on his plan of action. He would go to the bank tomorrow and withdraw the money so he could give it to everyone after work. 

 

Content with that plan, Yoongi entered the apartment and made a beeline for the kitchen so he could put away the groceries, his lips still wrapped around the straw of his iced coffee. As he set down the bags on the kitchen table, a note caught his eye. Leaning forward, Yoongi read it quickly, only to set his drink down and frown heavily. “How did they know?”

 

Hyung, I know you got paid today and I swear if you even TRY to give us that money, I will burn all your comfy sweaters. JUST TRY ME. The only thing I want you to spend that on is things for you. If you can’t take part in whatever you’re spending it on, then DON’T DO IT. Enjoy your money, hyung. You earned it and it’s YOURS. 

 

Love, Jimin on behalf of Taehyung and Jungkook.

 

P.S. Seriously, hyung, don’t spend it on me. Unless you want a video game we can play together. In that case, fine.

 

P.P.S. Ignore Jungkook, Yoongi. Or don’t, if you actually want a video game. Just buy what you want, Yoongi! Splurge! Buy that stupid cat mug we both know you want. Don’t pretend, I saw you looking at it. 

 

Reading it again, Yoongi smiled a little at how easy it was to identify the author of each section. And the fact that Taehyung had once again used his name, even when written alongside the other two. It made him feel warm even as he sighed. He should have known they’d stop him from paying them back. It was typical of them. He supposed groceries fell into the grey area of things they couldn’t complain about since he’d use it too. Which gave him another idea. Jungkook had been eyeing a new game recently. He’d explained it to Yoongi but his eyes had glazed over the second he heard ‘first-person shooter.’ But if he said it was for him too, no one would complain. And the only reason Taehyung knew Yoongi wanted a cat mug was because he wanted a bear one. Yoongi pursed his lips, if he got both, once again, no one could complain. 

 

But that left Jimin. What did Jimin want? Yoongi tapped his finger on his forearm and considered. Jimin was the type who bought what he wanted pretty much the second he wanted it. Impossible to buy for. Had been since he was a kid. So he was more into gestures than anything. Maybe Jungkook would know. If anyone would, it had to be— Yoongi straightened unconsciously. What Jimin wanted was Jungkook. Jimin wouldn’t want anything physical but maybe he could arrange for him and Taehyung to be out of the apartment so they could have time alone. That happened so rarely with so many of them living in the same place. He knew they had Jungkook’s apartment still but Jimin hated it so this would be better. Jungkook got a video game, Taehyung got a mug, and Jimin got a date night. 

 

Satisfied with his ability to find loopholes, Yoongi began setting up for dinner, a smile lingering on his lips.

 


 

When Taehyung returned from work, the first thing he heard was humming. It took him a moment, his brain not quite understanding what he was hearing, then it hit him with all the force of a freight train. Yoongi was humming. Practically running in his haste, Taehyung stumbled out of the hallway and into the living room only to freeze in place one again. He’d expected Yoongi to be in the kitchen as he always was after work. He’s established a routine of sorts and since it was one Yoongi had developed himself, no one had complained. But Yoongi wasn’t in the kitchen. No, he was sitting on the couch, his attention on his phone. He was humming and playing on his phone. Taehyung had a moment where he was absolutely positive he was going to cry but he held it in, choosing to smile instead.

“Yoongiiiiiiiii,” Taehyung whined as he moved further into the room and crawled onto the couch, curling his body around Yoongi’s legs so he could look up at him.

 

Yoongi lowered his phone and raised a brow at Taehyung, his lips already widening into a large grin. “Yes, Taehyung?”

 

“Lay with me,” Taehyung demanded, snuggling down. Somewhere deep in his chest, a pressure released, like endorphins rushing through his system since he’d gotten what he wanted: to hold Yoongi close. 

 

“I think I am,” Yoongi pointed out, fully laughing now. He patted Taehyung’s head, his smile softening. “Hard day?”

 

“No,” Taehyung admitted with a pout. Today had been fine. The shoots had gone well and the models had cooperated easily. He was just a weak man who wanted an excuse to hold Yoongi without raising suspicions. “Just tired, I guess.”

 

“I get that,” Yoongi agreed softly.

 

“But enough about me, how was your day?” Taehyung asked. Immediately, Yoongi brightened. Taehyung could practically feel him vibrating against him. Something had happened and it was good, that much was obvious. Shifting, Taehyung moved so he was seated upright, though his legs were still hanging over Yoongi’s thighs. “What happened!?”

 

“They gave me an office, Tae. It has my name on it and I got to choose what goes inside and it has my name on it,” Yoongi rushed out, his hands flying as he waved them around in excitement. 

 

Taehyung grabbed those hands and clasped them between his own. “That’s amazing, Yoongi.”

 

“I was afraid at first,” Yoongi admitted, “but Namjoon talked me through it.”

 

Nodding, Taehyung pushed some hair behind Yoongi’s ear, once again marvelling at how long it had gotten. “Why were you scared?”

 

“I—” Yoongi broke off, his head tilting towards Taehyung’s hand unconsciously. “I was afraid I’d lose it again. That someone would take it away from me.”

 

“No one will do that.”

 

“I’m trying to remember that,” Yoongi agreed, his expression lax as his head rested on Taehyung’s hand, a position that had Taehyung screaming internally. “And I managed to push past it all day. I chose everything I wanted. Most of it will come tomorrow so I’ll spend the whole day setting up my own space. I’m so excited.”

 

“I’m so happy for you, Yoongi. Seriously, you deserve this and I can’t wait to see your space when it’s done.”

 

Yoongi smiled. “You’ll be the first. Well, after Namjoon but that doesn’t count since he’s basically my boss.”

 

“Of course. I’ll be there the second it’s ready.”

 

Smiling again, Yoongi scrunched his nose. “I’m glad.”

 


 

As Yoongi had expected, he spent most of the next day cross-legged on his new office floor unpacking boxes and reading instruction manuals. He hadn’t requested a lot. He wasn’t a producer so he didn’t want to overstep his boundaries, but he’d gotten the machines he needed to do the sounds and setups he’d noticed Namjoon favoured in his own music. They’d spent the whole second week working through a song together so Yoongi could get a feel for what Namjoon’s process looked like and Yoongi thought he did well. At the very least, he’d done okay. There had been times, too many probably, where he’d tensed up, his brain running a mile a minute and devolving into white noise, but he’d always managed to pull himself out of it. Namjoon had simply waited until Yoongi came back before continuing on again every time it happened. Yoongi wasn’t sure what gave Namjoon that endless amount of patience but he was thankful for it. 

 

There was no way Yoongi would have been able to thrive in any other job. That much was clear now. Though he was improving, he still faded out from time to time when it became too much. He only really interacted with Namjoon, Hoseok, and Jimin on a regular basis but they never said anything. It had even happened when he’d run into Lee-PD in the break room and she’d mentioned having looked him up after they met. It hadn’t been nearly as bad as when Namjoon had said something similar, but Yoongi had begun to hyperventilate pretty badly. Lee-PD had simply waited him out like Namjoon did then continued as if nothing had happened. She didn't bring it up again, not his near panic attack nor his previous work. 

 

Yoongi knew, without a doubt, he’d gotten incredibly lucky. Even without experience, he knew most jobs wouldn’t be this lenient or understanding. He figured he had Namjoon to thank for most of it, but the fact that he was able to pull strings like that spoke volumes. It made Yoongi feel safe, even if he knew he was still on probation of some sort. Namjoon had admitted after he’d calmed down the day before that his boss was watching to make sure Yoongi was productive. Yoongi supposed Namjoon had felt guilty for not mentioning it sooner since Yoongi had panicked at the mere idea of being fired, which Yoongi understood. He wasn’t surprised by it though. The employee manual had mentioned a three-month probation period and Yoongi wasn’t naive enough to think frequent, though getting rarer, panic attacks and spaced out moments would go unnoticed or unmonitored. A business was a business after all. 

 

So, he was moving past it. 

 

Or trying to. 

 

He was very much aware that it was taking him longer to set up his office than it should have. The issue was that he often needed to just stop and breathe. This issue was that this was not the first time he’d set up an office like this. As an intern, he’d done it regularly for other employees and his supervising PD had even let him choose all the things for the office the interns shared. The others had complained that he was getting treated better, which Yoongi had worn with pride honestly, but they couldn’t argue with his choices. Those memories continuously bombarded him as he took out each piece of equipment. They may have been largely positive, but their association with before slowed him down.

 

As Yoongi arranged the speakers in the position he preferred, he couldn’t help but think back to the first time he’d set up an office. He’d been so eager, practically running around to get it all done at once. The wires had been a tangled mess, which he’d very much hated himself for when he’d had to sit down and untangle them, but he hadn’t paused. The idea of creating a space where he could focus solely on music was just so new to him then. He’d had a setup at home for years and they’d had a communal space at school but this was different. It had felt different anyway. So he rushed forward with no intention of looking back, and created his ideal space, even if it was mostly shared. The final touch had been his shitty little MIDI board tucked in a corner.

 

The second he was finished, he’d all but dragged his brother into the studio. The poor man had been just home from work, his chef clothes still dirty and smelling slightly like a kitchen, but Yoongi hadn’t cared. He’d demanded he come and he had. He always did. Yoongi paused, his hands freezing where they’d been zip-tying wires together to keep them organized. He didn’t think of his brother often, the mere thought of how Yoongi’d turned away from him was too painful. 

 

Min Hongki was, and always had been, Yoongi’s biggest fan. He’d been there when their parents complained about Yoongi’s desire to do music. He’d let Yoongi talk through his choices when he’d chosen to do literature instead and again when Yoongi had decided to return to his real passion. When Yoongi had come out, Hongki had been the first to buy a pride flag, which Yoongi had realized later he’d purchased earlier and had just been waiting for Yoongi to tell them so he’d had an opportunity to bring it out. Which he had but only to wrap Yoongi in it like a burrito until they’d fallen to the ground in a pile of limbs and laughter. Hongki had been there for everything and Yoongi had just… pulled away. 

 

He knew it wasn’t his fault, that Minhyuk’s manipulations and his own parents’ support had made it easier, but now that he was free it made him feel guilty. He’d had an excuse before but what about now? He’d been in Seoul for nearly four months and he hadn’t reached out. Not once. He hadn’t even really thought about it.

 

Dropping the wires, Yoongi leaned back against the wall and stared blankly forward. Why hadn’t he contacted him? Even if he hadn’t had a phone before, it wasn’t like someone else wouldn’t have offered theirs to him for one phone call. So why hadn’t he called?

 

Because you’re a coward. You’re afraid he’ll be mad or, even worse, say ‘I told you so.'

 

Yoongi leaned his head back and closed his eyes, hating his own much louder, more confident inner thoughts as much as he’d valued them. They were right though, or Yoongi supposed, he was right. He was afraid. 

 

Eyeing the locked door, Yoongi grabbed his phone, noting text messages from Taehyung and Jungkook, and opened the Phone app. He wasn’t sure if Hongki’s number had changed but he’d find out. Licking his lips, Yoongi typed in the number and hit Call before he chickened out. The phone shook against his ear but he didn’t let that bother him. Without even realizing it, Yoongi found himself curled up, his head resting on his knees as the phone rang and rang.

 

Hello?

 

Yoongi sucked in a breath. That was Hongki’s voice. He hadn’t changed his number. It was him.

 

Hello?” Hongki said again, clearly confused.

 

“Hy—” Yoongi tried but his voice broke off and petered out. Before he was even aware of it, he’d hit End and dropped the phone. 

 

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. Fucking COWARD, Yoongi chastised himself. He was right there and you hung up. 

 

So deep in his inner spiral, Yoongi almost missed his phone vibrating on the floor. He lifted his head, his eyes already blurry from tears he refused to shed, and looked at it. The number was Hongki’s of course. Who wouldn’t call back after such a weird call. Yoongi reached out, his hands shaking, and slid the Accept bar. He couldn’t hear, obviously, so he hit the speaker button. Hongki’s voice crackled through.

 

Yoongi? Please tell me that’s you. Yoongi?

 

Yoongi choked on a sob. His brother sounded so worried. How had he just known? Like he always did. “H-hyung.”

 

YOONGI! Oh my god, Yoongi, I—” Hongki broke off. Vaguely, Yoongi could hear what he thought was crying and it just made him cry even harder. Why had he waited so long?

 

“Hyung, I-I left.”

 

There was a stuttered breath as Hongki clearly tried to pull himself together. “You did? Where are you?

 

“Jiminie’s. I’ve been— I left in September,” Yoongi admitted, his voice quiet.

 

As he’d expected, there was a long pause at that. Hongki was clearly wondering, as Yoongi himself had, why he hadn’t reached out sooner. But he didn’t say that. Instead, he spoke softly. “Are you safe?

 

“I-I think so. H-he still shows up but I— there are people who are helping me, hyung. I’m okay,” Yoongi explained as he stubbornly wiped the tears from his face.

 

I’m taking the next plane out there. I need to— is that okay? Holly misses you.

 

Yoongi laughed, the sound somewhere between an actual laugh and a sob. “Y-yea?”

 

Yea,” Hongki agreed, his voice still so soft. Like it always was when he helped Yoongi through something.

 

“I-I’d like to see him. And you,” Yoongi whispered. The idea of seeing Hongki scared him if he was being honest. It made his chest tight and his breath shorten, but he also wanted to see him so bad. He missed him. “Please come.”

 

I’m already there,” Hongki assured, which only served to set Yoongi off again. Hongki didn’t say anything. Like he always had, he simply sat there and let Yoongi cry. He knew reuniting after so long wouldn’t go as well as either of them hoped, but he wanted to do it anyway. He needed to. He wanted his brother back. And his dog. And every other thing Minhyuk had taken from him.

 


 

Somewhere in a communal office in Daegu, Minhyuk frowned at the plans in front of him. He hadn’t been able to focus the past few months because he was tired all the time. He didn’t have time to do chores and work. That’s what Yoongi had been for. Now he wasn’t doing well at work and it was all because Yoongi had been selfish. 

 

“Yo, Hyuk!”

 

“What?” Minhyuk replied, not looking up from his plans. There was something wrong and he couldn’t figure out what.

 

“Bad time?”

 

Realizing he’d been rude, Minhyuk blinked and looked up. “Sorry, just distracted.”

 

“I get it,” his long-time coworker, Baek Chinmae, said with an easy shrug, “You look tired though.”

 

“Hmm, Yoongi is still visiting his brother.”

 

“Ah, really? It’s been so long!”

 

“I know, but he’s sick and family,” Minhyuk lied, false sympathy dripping from his voice.

 

“Yoongi is a good brother,” Chinmae observed, considering. “Which reminds me, the wife was asking for his pork roast recipe. She’s been obsessed with it ever since we were over during the Spring. She said something about offering her pie recipe in return. I wasn’t really listening but Yoongi’d probably get it.”

 

“Probably,” Minhyuk agreed. “Cooking is his thing. I’ll mention it when we talk next. It’s been hard finding time."

 

“Sucks, man,” Chinmae said. “Tell him I said hi when you do. I miss the little guy.”

 

“I will,” Minhyuk said with a smile that never once reached his eyes. Now Yoongi was interfering with his work relationships too. How was he supposed to give away a recipe he didn’t know? He’d never let Yoongi say no to that kind of thing, it was important that he maintain a certain image, so he couldn’t even say Yoongi had refused. God forbid someone think Yoongi was selfish. He was, but Minhyuk didn’t want people to know that. He’d spent too much time training him to appear otherwise, even if it barely worked.

 

No, this wouldn’t do at all. It was long past time for Yoongi to come home.

Chapter Text

True to his brother’s word, he sent flight details almost immediately after talking to Yoongi. They were for Thursday since there apparently hadn’t been a flight the next day that could accommodate Holly, but that was okay. Yoongi actually preferred it since it gave him time to talk to everyone about it before he took his next step. 

 

By the time he arrived home, later than usual since he’d gotten distracted setting things up, he had settled into a happy sort of nervousness. He wanted to see Hongki but he was also nervous. He didn’t know what the interaction would look like nor how he would react to it. He hadn’t had a panic attack since starting his new job so he hoped, at the very least, that didn’t happen. Yoongi didn’t want his first interaction with his brother in years to be tainted like that. He knew it wasn’t his fault, but he still didn’t want it to happen. He also didn’t want to go alone. At least not at first. Jimin knew him so that would be a safe bet but for some reason, he found himself asked Taehyung.

 

“Hey, um, Tae?” Yoongi called as he hovered just behind the couch. 

 

Taehyung looked up from his book, a curious look on his face. “Yea? What’s up?”

 

“I, um, want to ask a favour,” Yoongi began, shifting from foot to foot in his awkwardness.

 

Watching his movement, Taehyung put down the book and waved Yoongi over. “Come here first.”

 

Yoongi bit his lip before nodding. Hurriedly, he moved around the couch and settled beside Taehyung, who had drawn in his legs so he was cross-legged and Yoongi had room. Yoongi mimicked his posture and folded his hands in his lap so he wouldn’t pick at his clothes. “So, I have a brother.”

 

Taehyung’s eyebrows shot up. He had not known that. “You do?”

 

“I-I do,” Yoongi confirmed. “He’s older. Um, we don’t— he really didn’t like Minhyuk so we fought about it a lot. Once he moved to Jeju we, um, we stopped talking.”

 

“Oh, I see,” Taehyung said softly as he reached out and squeezed Yoongi’s hand. “But you want to talk to him again?”

 

“I did already,” Yoongi admitted.

 

Clearly surprised, Taehyung’s shock showed on his face. “You did? That’s amazing.”

 

Yoongi smiled shyly, turning his hand so his palm was pressed against Taehyung’s. “He’s coming to see me. On Thursday. He’s bringing my puppy. And I— can you— would you be able to come with me?”

 

Not totally sure if that was his place, Taehyung hesitated. “Are you sure?”

 

“No,” Yoongi whispered, “but I’m so nervous and I think I’d feel better if you were there. You don’t have to stay. I just— that initial awkwardness scares me.”

 

Intellectually, Taehyung knew that Jimin would be the better choice for this. He undoubtedly knew Yoongi’s brother and had for years but Yoongi wasn’t thinking intellectually and Taehyung understood that so he nodded. “Of course I’ll come with you. I’d be happy to meet your brother.”

 

“Y-yea?”

 

“Definitely!” Taehyung confirmed, smiling widely. “Is he anything like you?”

 

Yoongi snorted. “No, not at all. He is a chef though. That’s where I learned…”

 

“Well, then I’ll have to thank him!” Taehyung decided, giving Yoongi’s hand another squeeze where he’d interlocked their fingers.

 

“Thank you, Tae.”

 

“It’s no problem, Yoongi. I’m so glad you asked me,” Taehyung said sincerely, completely missing the way Yoongi jolted at the use of his name. He’d been doing his best not to react to it, but it was getting harder. Taehyung always said it with such warmth. Like it was precious to him. It made Yoongi feel calm and comfortable. He’d never realized how something so simple could mean so much. Especially since Yoongi didn’t think Taehyung was even aware he was doing it. Hoseok had tried to not so subtly point it out over their dinner but Taehyung hadn’t caught on. It was kinda nice, Yoongi decided, that Taehyung just viewed him as an equal without thought. He just was. No hoops to jump through or tests to pass, he just was. 

 

So, comforted by that, Yoongi scooched closer. “What are you reading?”

 

“The trashiest of trashy romance novels,” Taehyung revealed, passing it to Yoongi without letting go of his hand. “It’s stupid and cheesy and hetero and I love it.”

 

Yoongi scanned the back and snorted. “I see.”

 

“It’s great,” Taehyung insisted, snatching it back with an exaggerated pout. “Like, please tell me where you’ll get vanilla smut like this?”

 

“You know,” Yoongi said slowly, “that porn exists, right?”

 

“Yes, Yoongi, I am aware thank you,” Taehyung said, still pouting. “But that doesn’t come with the romantic tension and build, now does it? Does porn give me a paragraph and a half where the main girl waxes poetically about the man dude’s strong hands or biceps? No, no it does not!”

 

Without even really thinking about it, Yoongi looked down at their joined hands. “You have nice hands.”

 

Taehyung was pretty sure he was going to choke, but he restrained himself, mostly because he was worried Yoongi would misinterpret his reaction as disgust which it very much was not. “Thanks, shoulda been a hand model.”

 

“A wasted opportunity,” Yoongi agreed, looking back up with a smile.

 

For a brief moment, Taehyung wondered what it would be like to kiss Yoongi right then. To sit together and have a silly conversation, maybe read together, and kiss him like it was nothing. He couldn’t even imagine it. Even as he tried, his brain came to a screeching halt and retreated into safer waters. He’d trained himself well it seemed. “In another life maybe.”

 

Still smiling, Yoongi nodded. “I was thinking of ordering pizza since I’m home so late. You think anyone would mind?”

 

Now back on safer ground, Taehyung snorted. “Those heathens will eat anything.”

 

“Then pizza it is,” Yoongi decided, hopping up from the couch and heading towards Jimin’s room where he was sure to find Jungkook since Jimin still wasn’t home. 

 

Taehyung didn’t respond, not that Yoongi had expected him to. Instead, he stared down at his own hand, flexing it unconsciously. Yoongi had been doing that a lot lately. Seeking him out physically. It’d only been when he was upset at first but now he did it all the time. Touching him casually when he was talking to him or grabbing him when he was happy or excited. Taehyung had worried that he was always initiating it but that just wasn’t the case. Yoongi just seemed to be seeking him out and as much as that made his heart race and his face warm, it worried him. He wasn’t sure if Yoongi was reacting to Taehyung’s emotions without even realizing it. Taehyung thought he was doing okay hiding them. Not great, mind you, Yoongi was very much still someone he cared about and wanted to show affection to, but he was doing okay. But maybe he wasn't doing good enough and Yoongi was mimicking him. That thought horrified him. He had no basis for it at all, but it lingered still, a pesky buzzing in the back of his thoughts every time Yoongi drifted closer to him. He just hoped he was wrong.

 


 

For the past four years of his life, there had never been a time he was somewhere that Minhyuk didn’t know about. Yoongi had diligently reported wherever he went since he needed permission to go there. That hadn’t really changed when he ran away to Seoul. Obviously, the purpose and intention were different, but someone always knew where Yoongi was. Always. Most of the time, they were the ones who drove him there since he didn’t have a car. 

 

Perhaps, somewhere in the back of his mind, that old suggestion of not being allowed had lingered, because when he found himself outside Namjoon’s studio, he hesitated, worried he’d upset the younger man. It was silly, he knew that, but he couldn’t shake the feeling. Even when he entered and Namjoon smiled at him before slipping off his headphones, Yoongi worried.

 

“What’s up, hyung? Lonely already?” Namjoon teased.

 

Yoongi shook his head, Namjoon’s easy smile and tone relaxing him. “No, I’m good. Enjoying it actually, I’m never really alone.”

 

“True,” Namjoon acknowledged. “Lots of people in that apartment, even if it is massive.”

 

“Yea,” Yoongi agreed, before taking a deep breath. “I need to leave, um, in an hour.”

 

Namjoon blinked. “Okay and?”

 

“You don’t— you don’t mind?”

 

“No? Why would I?” Namjoon wondered, genuinely confused. “We aren’t hourly here so it doesn't matter when we’re here as long as we get our work done. I trust that you would even if you took a half-day.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened, he’d known that he was salaried but he hadn’t really considered the implications of it in that context. “Oh, I— okay.”

 

“I’d like to know though,” Namjoon added with a shrug. “Since I’m going to be sending you more and more stuff as time goes on, but that’s more a logistics thing than a problem thing. Why do you need the day so suddenly?”

 

“Oh, um, I— well—”

 

Namjoon raised his hand. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. I was just curious as a friend, not as a boss. Your business is yours.”

 

Yoongi nodded, “an… appointment opened up.”

 

Freezing, Namjoon’s head whipped around to look at Yoongi dead on. He looked uncomfortable but now that Namjoon was focusing there was a sort of anticipation about him. Namjoon didn’t know exactly what type of appointment Yoongi had, but he prayed to all the gods he didn’t believe in that it was therapy. He never wanted to bring it up but it was so obvious that Yoongi would benefit from talking about his experience with a professional. He didn’t say any of that, of course. No, he just nodded. “That happens. Last-minute cancellations and shit.”

 

“Yea,” Yoongi agreed. “So, I’ll see you tomorrow I guess.”

 

“Yup, see you then!” Namjoon called out, his voice trailing off as the door closed.

 

And so, just over an hour and a half later, Yoongi stepped off the bus onto the sidewalk in front of a tall old fashioned looking building only to realize that absolutely no one knew where he was. He hadn’t really meant for it to be that way. He wasn’t ashamed, even if he hadn’t wanted to tell Namjoon what the appointment was for. He just hadn’t had time to tell anyone. 

 

After he’d gotten paid, he’d made calls to several different doctors to see what their availability was like. Unsurprisingly, many of them weren’t taking new clients. There was one woman on that list that Yoongi had particularly wanted to see but she’d been booked for several weeks. He must have sounded desperate because the receptionist had called him a few hours prior offering him her suddenly open slot. Yoongi hadn’t even considered the time of day when he’d agreed and he was once again grateful that Namjoon was kind and understanding. 

 

To be honest, Yoongi hadn’t even found her name himself, that had been Jimin. He’d been randomly searching, trying to find someone in the area that was both affordable and available, when Jimin had slipped him a name and a number. Yoongi had taken it easily without comment but when he looked her up, he’d realized why Jimin had recommended her. She specialized in domestic abuse. Everyone else he’d been looking at was more general, but this doctor specialized in helping victims. It just made sense. Hence his desperation to get an appointment only to realize he couldn’t.

 

But now he found himself in her waiting room, nervously glancing at the pictures on the walls he was sure were supposed to be confronting and magazine that he was surprised to see were from this month. He was anxiously flipping through one when a tall, beautiful woman appeared from behind a door and smiled at him. “Min Yoongi-ssi?”

 

Jumping up, Yoongi wiped his hands on his pants and bowed multiple times, “Yes, um, yes, that’s me.”

 

“You don’t have to be nervous. My name is Dr. Yong Pan, it’s nice to meet you.”

 

“Y-you too,” Yoongi agreed.

 

“Why don’t you come in?”

 

“Sure, right, of course,” Yoongi rambled, following her into the room. He half expected to see one of those long couches he always saw on television but there were just two comfortable-looking couches with a small table between. Dr. Yong gestured for Yoongi to sit on one of them and he did so quickly, immediately folding his hands in his lap as he stared at her unblinkingly.

 

“I understand this was quite short notice,” Dr. Yong began, “but I’m glad you could make it. My receptionist was quite adamant that I see you.”

 

“O-oh, sorry about that. I may have… been a bit much when I called.”

 

Dr. Yong smiled and crossed her legs. “Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter. It was just interesting to me since she deals with that all the time and doesn’t let it affect her. It can’t, in a job like that.”

 

Yoongi nodded, his shoulders relaxing as Dr. Yong spoke. “Makes sense.”

 

“It does,” Dr. Yong agreed, watching the way the tension leaked from Yoongi’s body and his posture slouched when he got more comfortable. That was not a habit she was unfamiliar with, but assumptions were not her thing, so she smiled softly and folded her hands. “Tell me, Yoongi, if I can call you that, why did it matter so much that you saw me? There are many well-regarded therapists in this area of Seoul.”

 

“Yoongi is fine,” Yoongi answered first, then shifted. “And I know. I called a bunch of them too. But, uh, my friend actually recommended you. He doesn’t go here, but he, well, he knew what I needed so he gave me your information.”

 

“And what do you need, Yoongi?”

 

Yoongi shot a look at her before frowning down at his hands. “I need someone who understands domestic abuse.”

 

“I see. And on which end were you?”

 

Tensing immediately, Yoongi shook his head hard. “I could never hurt someone, how could you—”

 

“This is a non-judgemental zone, Yoongi. Often I meet with people who are the abusers but want to stop hurting people. Generally, I meet with them elsewhere to avoid overlap here, that is why I asked.”

 

“O-oh,” Yoongi whispered. This was not going the way he thought it would. He didn’t know what he expected but it wasn’t this.

 

Sensing Yoongi’s shift in mood, Dr. Yong changed the subject. “Before all that, why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?”

 

Yoongi nodded, still not looking up, “Um, I’m from Daegu. I recently… moved to Seoul and I’m living with my friends Taehyung and Jimin, sometimes Jungkook too.”

 

“Sounds lively,” Dr. Yong commented.

 

Smiling now, Yoongi continued. “It is. I like them a lot. Me and Jiminie grew up together so when I needed— when I came here he offered me a place to stay. Um, I started a new job recently, just over two weeks ago. It’s really good.”

 

“What is it?” Dr. Yong asked, noting that Yoongi was sticking to more superficial topics.

 

“I’m just an assistant to a producer, but I went to school for music production so I like it.”

 

“That sounds interesting. If you went to school for it, why not be a producer yourself?”

 

Tensing again, Yoongi shook his head. “N-no, not yet.”

 

“Well, maybe one day. What’s your favourite type of music then?”

 

And so it went. Dr. Yong continued asking banal questions about Yoongi’s likes and dislikes, his life on a daily basis, even a funny story about his roommates. It was all simple stuff that was mostly easy for Yoongi to talk about. Dr. Yong noticed his hesitations though. The way he’d talk around why he came to Seoul or why he didn’t do or say certain things. That was fine though, he’d talk about it when he was ready.

 

When they were nearing the end of their time, something Yoongi only knew because he had a good bodily clock when he was hyper-focused, Yoongi shifted in the chair. “Aren’t you going to ask me why?”

 

“Why what, Yoongi?”

 

“Why I’m here.”

 

“You’re here because you want help, no?”

 

“Yes, but aren’t you going to ask why?

 

Dr. Yong smiled gently. “Do you want to tell me?”

 

Yoongi frowned, realizing that she’d likely intended for the conversation to circle this way. He supposed it meant she knew what she was doing but it still unsettled him a bit. He could just not tell her, he knew that. She wouldn’t push. But he also knew he needed to. That’s why he’d decided to use the money remaining after buying gifts to go to therapy. It was something he’d been thinking about since he and Taehyung had talked about it when he’d first arrived. He hadn’t been able to afford it before but now he could and he wanted to make the most of it.

 

“I was dating a man for four years,” Yoongi began, watching her face to see how she reacted about his sexuality. She showed none, which Yoongi took as a good sign, “and he— he h-hit me. In September, I ran away and I’ve been here ever since.”

 

“I’m very proud of you for getting away and finding your safe space, Yoongi. It’s very brave,” Dr. Yong said sincerely, “and we can talk about any of that or none of it. Whatever you want to tell.”

 

Unable to stop himself, Yoongi began to fiddle with the end of his shirt. “I-I want to talk about it. I want to— my friend, Taehyung, he said I wouldn’t go back to before but I could find a new normal. Do you think that’s true?”

 

Dr. Yong smiled. “He sounds like a smart man and a good friend.”

 

Yoongi nodded, “had a similar situation with his dad so he gets it.”

 

“That must be nice. To have someone who understands.”

 

“It is,” Yoongi agreed, smiling softly, “but he doesn’t make it feel like that. He’s just… a good person. Kind. Cares about people a lot.”

 

“That’s even better,” Dr. Yong said, making a note beside Taehyung’s name: more than roommates? 

 

“But I guess— before I— before I start at the beginning can I get help with something else?” Yoongi asked hesitantly.

 

“Of course, this is your session, Yoongi. I’m here for you.”

 

Yoongi took a breath. “My brother. We haven’t— he didn’t like my ex. He knew— he knew before I did. We lost touch. I haven’t seen him in years but I called him and he— he’s coming to see me tomorrow.”

 

Dr. Yong’s eyebrows raised, impressed with the progress Yoongi had managed to do on his own. It made her wonder if perhaps his friend group was more aware of counselling practices than most, which she made a note of. “How do you feel about that?”

 

“I’m worried. I was— he told me before that Hongki-hyung, my brother, wouldn’t want to see me because I— because I pushed him away and never called after he moved and I know—” Yoongi frowned, tapping his temple. “I know that’s not true and when I called he seemed so happy but I just— I worry.”

 

“That’s totally normal, Yoongi. He was someone important to you that was lost because of circumstances you couldn’t control. That’s what abusers do: isolate. That’s not your fault and your brother knows that. You said he was happy, right?”

 

“Yea.”

 

“Perhaps he wanted to see you as much as you wanted to see him,” Dr. Yong suggested.

 

“I get that but what if— what if he sees me and it’s terrible and he doesn't like the me now? Jiminie says I’m really different. He knew me before, remember? What if hyung doesn't like the new me?” Yoongi rushed out, his breath choppy as he finally admitted his fear. The one he hadn’t even been able to tell Taehyung.

 

“That’s a possibility,” Dr. Yong acknowledged, not wanting Yoongi to think his worries were baseless, “but I’m sure he’s different too.”

 

“Hyung is?”

 

“Why not? He moved too and it’s been years, as you said, so why would he be the same? Is your friend Jimin the same as he was before?”

 

Yoongi frowned and shook his head. “No, he’s happier now.”

 

Dr. Yong smiled. “Exactly. People change based on their experiences. Sometimes they’re bad and sometimes they're good but they always affect who you are. Your brother may not have gone through what you did, but he’s certainly experienced things that will have changed him in recent years. It’s up to you to accept those changes, much as he has to accept yours.”

 

Nodding, Yoongi began to pick at his shirt. He knew time was drawing closed but he had one last question. “do you think— I asked Taehyung to come with me. Just so I’d have someone at first. Do you think— is that a bad idea?”

 

“I think,” Dr. Yong said slowly, once again circling Taehyung’s name, “that if it makes you feel better and more comfortable to have him there, then it’s not a bad idea.”

 

“Okay,” Yoongi whispered, the tension once again leaving his shoulders. “Thanks.”

 

“That’s our time, Yoongi, but I’d love to see you again, if you’re willing.”

 

Yoongi looked up and met Dr. Yong’s eyes for the first time since sitting down. “I’d really like that.”

 


 

In a luxurious hotel room overlooking the Seoul skyline that he definitely could not afford, Hongki paced from one end of the room to another. Holly stretched out on one of the beds, his eyes watching Hongki as he moved anxiously. He was wearing a small sweater that Yoongi had gifted him just before it had all gone to shit. It didn’t fit anymore but Hongki had been determined to put the small dog in it and for once, Holly hadn’t fought him. Minor miracles.

 

In absolutely zero of his wildest dreams had Hongki ever imagined Yoongi calling him. Or leaving in the first place. He’d hoped, at first, but as time had passed and Yoongi had pulled even further away from him, he’d begun to lose hope. The final straw, as per usual, had been their parents. Their unwavering support of Minhyuk had forced Hongki out. He couldn’t be near them, couldn’t hear them sing his praises as if they didn’t know what he was doing to Yoongi. He was convinced they did. They’d have to be stupid not to, but they never did anything and Hongki had cut them off. Since then, he’d been completely in the dark as to what was happening with Yoongi. He kept in touch with Jimin but after Jimin had also had a falling out with Yoongi the year prior that had stopped as well. 

 

He’d been completely blindsided by the call.

 

Hongki had just left for lunch when it'd happened, his mind more focused on food than anything else. He wasn't sure how he’d known, but the small sound Yoongi had made before hanging up had been enough for him. Honestly, he’d expected Yoongi to be calling for help. He hadn’t expected to hear that not only had Yoongi run away but also that it had been months prior. That hurt more than he’d like to admit. He knew they weren’t close anymore, but at one time Hongki had been his protector so he’d held onto that hope. Even if he hadn’t been aware of it.

 

But none of that mattered now. Yoongi was out and free and safe and Hongki could maybe kill Minhyuk and no one would know. Not like he hadn’t fantasized about it when he’d started to see faint bruises on his baby brother’s skin. 

 

Don’t think about that, not right now, Hongki reminded himself, knowing it would only serve to make him mad and that wasn’t the attitude he wanted to see Yoongi again with. 

 

With a sigh, Hongki dropped down on the bed and collapsed on top of Holly, who began to growl and wiggle underneath him. “Are you excited to see Yoonie again?”

 

At the sound of Yoongi’s name, Holly froze. It made Hongki smile, even if it made him incredibly sad too. Yoongi had always loved Holly. That was why he’d brought him. And why he’d mentioned Holly missing him when he’d worried Yoongi didn't want to see him. Even if Yoongi resented him for not trying harder, at the very least they’d be able to reunite, even for a bit.

 

Knock knock.

 

Suddenly terrified, Hongki jumped up and spun around, staring at Holly with wide eyes. Holly simply stared back, long since trained out of barking at the door, but clearly impatient for Hongi to answer it. “Right, okay. How do I look? God, what am I doing? You can’t even answer! Fuck. Okay.” 

 

With one final deep breath, Hongki moved to the door and pulled it open. The first thing he noticed was a tall, very beautiful man. It distracted him for a moment, then the man smiled softly and looked down. Hongki followed his line of sight to Yoongi, who was hunched over and biting his thumbnail. Hongki felt his heart break seconds before he started to cry. “Yoongi.”

 

Yoongi’s head snapped up. “Hyung.”

 

“Can I—” Hongki started, about to ask if he could hug him, only for Yoongi to tackle him around the waist and bury his head in his chest. Immediately, Hongki wrapped his arms around Yoongi’s back and held him tight. He ducked his head and rested it on the top of Yoongi’s head. “God, Yoongi, I missed you so much.”

 

“I-I missed you too. You’re not— you’re not mad are you?”

 

“What? No!” Hongki assured, pushing him back so he could see Yoongi’s face. “I’d never be mad at you, Yoongi.”

 

Yoongi hiccuped, his lips trembling. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

 

Grabbing him again, Hongki directed him further into the hotel room. He’d expected the man to follow but he only inclined his head and pulled the door closed with him outside. Hongki appreciated it, even if he didn’t know who the man was. 

 

Redirecting his attention to Yoongi, he sat him down on the bed and stepped back. Immediately, Holly clamoured onto Yoongi, knocking him back and mauling his face with kisses. Yoongi squirmed under him but didn’t push him off. Soon, he even laughed a bit before grabbing the dog and pulling him into a tight hug that Holly protested right away and tried to get out of. With a small laugh, Yoongi let go and watched as Holly curled up just beside him his back pressed against Yoongi’s thigh. Yoongi stared at him a moment longer before refocusing on Hongki, who’d pulled up a chair so he could sit across from Yoongi.

 

“I’m sorry, hyung. I should have listened.”

 

Hongki shook his head and grabbed Yoongi’s hand. Squeezing it tight, he sighed. “And I should have approached it better. I was just so mad and I didn’t stop to think that maybe you wouldn’t respond well to that. I should have done better.”

“You were right,” Yoongi whispered, his eyes darting to Hongki then away. 

 

His hand spasmed around Yoongi’s but he didn’t acknowledge it. “That doesn’t matter.”

 

“It does. I just—” Yoongi broke off. “There were times when I wanted to call but I was just so afraid, hyung. I thought— I thought you’d be mad at me.”

 

“Oh, Yoongi,” Hongki sighed, shifting closer so he could pull Yoongi’s head towards his own. When their foreheads were pressed together, he closed his eyes. “There was never a moment, in any of the last few years, when I was mad at you.”

 

“R-really?” Yoongi whispered. 

 

“Really. I missed you and wished I could see you, wished I could help, but I wasn’t mad at you. I was mad at the situation, sure, but not you.”

 

Yoongi moved forward again, once again wrapping himself around Hongki like he’d done when they were little. Yoongi had always been so much smaller than him, so it’d been easy. That was still true now. So Hongki pulled him even closer and held on, convincing himself that he’d never let go again. 

 

“Can we— can we hang out more? I’d like to— I’d like you to get to know the new me,” Yoongi whispered after a while, once his tears had finally dried.

 

“I’d really like that,” Hongki agreed, then smiled shyly. “I got a room with two beds so you could stay over… if you wanted. I didn’t know if you’d want to share a bed after— I figured two beds would be best.”

 

Yoongi nodded. “Of course. Holly needs a bed.”

 

Feeling relief to hear an answer he hadn’t even know he was worried about getting, Hongki smiled. “Of course.”

 

“I should tell Tae he can go,” Yoongi said, detangling himself from Hongki’s arms.

 

“Tae?” Hongki repeated, confused.

 

“The guy outside,” Yoongi explained, scratching his ear as he blushed slightly. “I asked him to come because I didn’t know— I was worried about… this.”

 

Hongki nodded in understanding. Poor Holly had been the unwilling partner to his worries so he wasn’t surprised Yoongi had done something similar. “It’s nice he came. Who is he?”

 

“Oh, he’s Jiminie’s roommate.”

 

“Ah, the photographer,” Hongki said, remembering Jimin mentioning him.

 

Yoongi smiled brightly. “Yes! Exactly.”

 

Slightly thrown off by Yoongi enthusiasm, Hongki nodded. “He’s probably not still there though.”

 

“Oh, he is,” Yoongi said confidently before walking to the door and opening it. 

 

As predicted, Taehyung was sitting on the hallway floor and leaning against the wall, scrolling through his phone. When he saw Yoongi standing there, he pushed himself up and smiled before gently touching underneath Yoongi’s already swollen eyes. “I hope those were happy tears.”

 

Yoongi nodded slightly, not wanting to move Taehyung’s hand and poke himself in the eye. “They were. Mostly. I’m going to stay the night.”

 

Taehyung smiled again, glancing back to where Hongki was watching them carefully. “That’s great, Yoongi. Call me in the morning and I can bring you to work.”

 

“Thanks, Tae.”

 

“No problem,” Taehyung assured, giving him a quick hug. “Have a good night.”

 

“You too,” Yoongi said before closing the door and returning to the main part of the room.

 

“He seems really nice,” Hongki observed.

 

“He is,” Yoongi agreed with a nod, once again settling back on the bed and wrapping himself around Holly, who huffed.

 

Hongki watched him for a moment, conflicted. Yoongi was so different from before. It was like he was a completely different person. A stranger almost. Hongki didn’t care and he still loved him, but there was a low rage burning in his gut at the thought that Minhyuk had broken him so completely that when he’d put the pieces back together he’d been fundamentally different. Hongki was, admittedly, having a hard time dealing with that. It made him want to cry more than anything else. 

 

That is until Yoongi turned to him and smiled with a scrunched-up nose. “Can we get room service? I’m starving.”

 

“Yea,” Hongki agreed quickly, that burning feeling cooling at the sight of an expression he’d long grown familiar with, something that hadn’t changed, no matter how much else had. “Yea, of course we can. Plus a steak for Holly, it’s a special occasion.”

 

“Of course,” Yoongi echoed back much as Hongki had earlier, as they’d always done when they were younger and causing all manner of chaos. “He deserves it.”

 

“That he does,” Hongki said softly, mostly talking about Yoongi. “He deserves the best.”

 


 

The second Taehyung stepped into the apartment he was bombarded by questions and two pairs of eager eyes. “Can you give me like, five seconds to take off my shoes?”

 

“No! Where’s hyung!?” Jungkook protested, pouting. “How’d it go? Was it okay? Should we go see him? We should go see him!”

 

“He’s fine,” Taehyung cut in before Jimin could agree. “I wouldn’t have left if he wasn’t.”

 

“What happened?” Jimin asked, following closely as Taehyung went to the living room and dropped on the couch.

 

“Well, we walked up and we could hear his brother talking to himself through the door,” Taehyung began.

 

Jimin snorted. “He does that. So did Yoongi-hyung, actually. Before. They’d both carry on full conversations with themselves.”

 

“That makes sense,” Taehyung said, now understanding why Yoongi had looked at the door with such shock before smiling to himself. He’d curled into himself, still obviously worried but hearing his brother rant had eased some of his tension. “Then he opened the door and they just… started crying. His brother managed to get out like maybe half his name before he was just bawling and Yoongi followed right after. They hugged a bunch and Yoongi started apologizing but his brother was having none of that. I stepped out after that but I heard Yoongi laughing and some quiet talking.”

 

“You left?” Jungkook asked. “I thought he wanted you there.”

 

“He only needed someone to be there if it went bad, which it didn’t. I wasn’t going to intrude on a private moment so I waited outside. Eventually, he came out and said he was going to stay. He looked good. Like, his eyes were all puffy and he looked like he’d been crying for days, but he looked happy so I left.”

 

Jimin sighed and leaned back on the couch. “I’m glad. Hongki-hyung took this all really hard. He fought more than anyone to get Yoongi-hyung away from that bastard. He was fighting before I even noticed something was really wrong. He saw the signs before anyone. It didn’t work and then hyung stopped talking to him and it just— it wasn’t good.”

 

“What about their parents?” Jungkook asked, suddenly remembering Yoongi mentioned them before. “Hyung said when Minhyuk showed up last time he tried to use his parents against him.”

 

“Typical,” Jimin muttered. “They love him. Think he’s god’s gift to the world. They never liked hyung’s career so the fact that the bastard made him stop was a bonus. Plus he became ‘a respectable young man’ after so they were elated. That’s why Hongki-hyung doesn’t know anything. He moved to Jeju and cut them off. He’s convinced they know and don't care.”

 

“Do you think they do?” Taehyung asked quietly.

 

Jimin hesitated for a moment. “I do.”

 

“Are you fucking kidding?” Jungkook cursed out, jumping up. “Am I the only one who had decent fucking parents? Did none of them take a single fucking class? Like how the fuck do they just go ‘ah, abuse is fine because he’s so polite now’? I swear to god—”

 

“Kook,” Jimin tried but Jungkook waved him off and stalked away, clearly still upset. They both watched him go, understanding what was happening. One day Jungkook would stop feeling guilty for having great parents while his friends got handed the worst of the lot, but it probably wasn’t going to be today. 

 

When Jungkook came back, he had a beer in his hand. He dropped back down and took a long sip. “If they come anywhere near him, we drag them back to Daegu just like we would Minhyuk.”

 

Taehyung smirked. “Damn right we do.”

 

Jimin shook his head. “I wouldn’t worry about that. They’re the passive type of harmful. They’d never bother to come this far.”

 

“It’s like three hours,” Jungkook hissed.

 

“It is,” Jimin agreed, stealing Jungkook’s beer and taking a sip before he handed it back, “and they won’t come.”

 

“But his brother hopped on a plane with a dog and got a large hotel room with two beds so Yoongi wouldn’t feel trapped or pressured,” Taehyung reminded Jungkook, who looked like he was going from angry to sad now. “So even if his parents are shit, his brother is very much not.”

 

“I guess,” Jungkook agreed, sighing. “We should invite him over. So he can see how hyung is living. I’m sure he’s worried. I would be if it was my little brother.”

 

“That’s a good idea,” Taehyung said with a nod. “I’ll ask when I pick him up for work tomorrow.”

 

“I wonder if he’d want to come for Christmas too,” Jimin murmured tapping his lip.

 

“Inviting people into our tradition,” Taehyung said, hand to his heart. “How cruel.”

 

“Well, it’s not like Yoongi-hyung wasn’t going to be included this year anyway,” Jimin said, rolling his eyes, “and he’s the only one with family so why not invite him too?”

 

Jungkook looked between Taehyung and Jimin, confusion heavy on his face. “I have a family?”

 

Jimin looked over. “Oh, I know. I just assumed you’d be going home. Since neither of us have family, me and Taehyung always do something on Christmas Day. I’d love to have you there too but…”

 

“Oh, I see, yea,” Jungkook nodded, somewhat sad. He and Jimin hadn’t really been together on Christmas last year so it hadn’t been a problem but now Jungkook was conflicted. He wanted to be there on Christmas morning with Jimin. He wanted to wake up, wrapped around Jimin as that soft sort of calmness only Christmas Day could provide settled over the house. He wanted to open presents with him and then exchange gifts with Taehyung and Yoongi too. He didn’t want to miss that. But he also wanted to see his parents and his brother. He missed them. 

 

Not realizing Jungkook was conflicted, Jimin continued. “Maybe we should ask. It’s only a few weeks away now.”

 

“God, I can’t believe how close it is. We haven’t even decorated. Who are we?” Taehyung wondered, glancing around the apartment.

 

“Scrooges, that’s who!” Jimin snapped, once again stealing Jungkook’s beer so he could raise it. “We must decorate this weekend!”

 

“If we must, we must,” Taehyung agreed, clinking imaginary cups.

 

Feeling sort of left out, Jungkook watched them laugh. Then Jimin turned to him. “And you can be the tree!”

 

“The tree?” Jungkook blinked.

 

“Since you're strong and sturdy like one. Plus I want to tie you up in ribbon.”

 

HYUNG!” Jungkook protested, his face flaming red from embarrassment but also happiness that he’d been included. God, you’re so simple.

 

“And that’s my fucking queue. I’m out,” Taehyung said, his tone whiny. “Good night.”

 

Snickering as he patted Jungkook’s red cheeks, Jimin called out. “Goodnight, Tae!”

 

“I’m so embarrassed, hyung,” Jungkook whined the second Taehyung was out of earshot.

 

“I know, but embarrassed is better than sad. You’re not excluded from our traditions just because you’re not here, Kook. We can make new traditions, just the two of us, okay?”

 

Jungkook’s eyes widened, surprised Jimin had noticed his mood, but he nodded, a small smile tugging his lips. “Thanks, hyung. I love you.”

 

“I love you too, Kook,” Jimin said, kissing him softly on the lips. “Now about that ribbon—”


Hyung!

Chapter Text

For the third time since running away to Seoul, Yoongi woke up in an unfamiliar room. Unlike the earlier two times, he wasn’t alone. He felt his body tense, even though his mind was calm. It was like a reflex he couldn’t control, and he forced himself not to be upset about it. Considering everything, tensing when you wake up somewhere new was a perfectly reasonable response. Especially when there was an unfamiliar warmth pressed against you.

 

After a few moments though, Yoongi relaxed, a smile stretching his lips. The warmth he’d felt was Holly cuddled up against his stomach. He curled forward, wrapping the dog in a tight embrace even as he began to grumble and wiggle, trying to get his freedom. Unwilling to let him go, Yoongi pressed his face into Holly’s fur, ignoring the tears he felt prickle his eyes. 

 

He was just so happy. 

 

“Oh, you’re awake. Um, good. I didn’t— um, do you still eat eggs? I probably should have asked…” Hongki rambled from where he was hovering over the breakfast he’d ordered and spread out over the table. 

 

Nodding, Yoongi didn’t move. 

 

“I can order something else…” Hongki continued, already frowning at the menu as he considered what other things Yoongi would like for breakfast. He’d gotten eggs, toast, bacon, and ham just in case Yoongi wanted something heavy, but also soup, rice, and a fruit bowl if he wanted something light. There weren’t a whole lot of other options. What if he doesn’t eat breakfast anymore? 

 

“No,” Yoongi answered, realizing that Hongki hadn’t seen his nodding. “Eggs are fine.”

 

Hongki relaxed and turned toward Yoongi. “Oh, then— why are you crying? Is it the breakfast? Do you not— should I have asked? Shit, I’ll have them—”

 

“H-hyung,” Yoongi interrupted, laughing slightly as he rubbed his face and eyes, “I’m happy, not sad. I promise. Eggs really are fine.”

 

“O-oh, okay,” Hongki relented. “Do you still drink coffee too?”

 

“Yea, probably too much,” Yoongi admitted shuffling off the bed and joining Hongki at the table. He noticed the variety of things at once. Hongki had clearly been nervous about what to order so he’d ordered everything. Yoongi smiled slightly, especially when he saw the bowl of fruit.

 

Seeing where he was looking, Hongki scratched just behind his ear, a habit Yoongi himself processed. “They didn’t have any tangerines, they’re out of season, but they had mandarins, so I hope that’s okay.”

 

“It’s amazing, hyung. Thank you,” Yoongi said softly. “You didn’t have to do all this.”

 

“I wanted to. You have to work, right? I wanted you to start the day right!” Hongki insisted, shoving several of the plates toward Yoongi with an insistent wave. “I’ll eat what you don’t. Now eat— why are you crying again!?”

 

Yoongi laughed, covering his face. He could hear the panic in Hongki’s voice and knew he really should work on the whole crying all the time thing, but he just couldn’t help it. He’d been so scared of seeing Hongki again and there had been no need. Hongki was still the awkward, protective dork he’d always been who cared about Yoongi maybe a bit too much. “I’m fine, I just— this has been really great, hyung. I missed you a lot and this— it was perfect. Thank you.”

 

Hongki blinked and ducked his head. “I’m so glad you’re here, Yoongi.”

 

“Me too,” Yoongi agreed before huffing. “Alright, enough of that. Let’s eat. Tae will be here soon and if I’m crying when he shows up, it’ll be a whole thing.”

 

“Hmm,” Hongki hummed, eyeing Yoongi as he took a bite of toast. Taehyung had come up a lot. Like a lot. At first, Hongki had thought Taehyung was helping Yoongi work through his issues but that didn’t really seem to be it. There was something else there that Hongki wasn’t really getting. Their relationship didn’t seem to be romantic, but it wasn’t platonic either. The more Yoongi talked about him, the more he thought of his own girlfriend and yet there was this line there. Hongki couldn’t help but wonder who’d drawn it. “He seems like a really nice guy; I’d like to meet him. For real this time.”

 

Yoongi smiled. “You can. I’m sure you’ll like him. He’s great.”

 

“I’m sure he is,” Hongki nodded easily, still munching on toast as he watched Yoongi eat while occasionally sneaking Holly scraps. He’d honestly never expected to see Yoongi again. Not like this. He was different, that initial assessment hadn’t changed, but parts of him lingered. The parts that mattered. The parts that made him Yoongi. His personality may have softened a great deal and he was certainly more soft-spoken than he’d been before but the most important things were the same. As much as that hurt, Hongki could live with that. As long as Yoongi could anyway.

 

Knock knock.

 

“That must be Tae,” Yoongi mumbled, stealing the last piece of toast from Hongki’s plate and stuffing it in his mouth with a cheeky smile before going to open the door.

 

Seeing Yoongi’s stuffed cheeks and slightly messy bedhead, Taehyung snorted. “Good morning.”

 

“Morning,” Yoongi said, his voice muffled.

 

Taehyung glanced over Yoongi’s shoulder to his brother, who’d stood up but remained by the table. “Hello again. I’m Taehyung. We weren’t really introduced.”

 

“Hongki.”

 

“It’s nice to meet you,” Taehyung said sincerely, then returned his attention to Yoongi who’d since finished the toast. Taehyung brushed some crumbs off his cheek with the back of his hand then smiled. “I brought you a change of clothes and a toothbrush. Figured you’d need them. It’s all in here.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened as he took the small carry-on. It wasn’t the one he’d brought with him to Seoul, so Taehyung must have grabbed his own. “Thanks, Tae. Come on in while I get ready.”

 

Humming in agreement, Taehyung came into the room, trailing behind Yoongi. The second he came face to face with Holly, he dropped to the ground and stretched out his arms. “Look at you! I’m just going to have to steal you!”

 

Reacting to the high pitch of Taehyung’s voice and smiling face, Holly rolled over and wiggled on his back. Taehyung nearly squealed, his hands ruffling Holly’s fur somewhat aggressively. From where he still stood by the table, Hongki watched Taehyung play with his dog. He had a million and one questions, but he wasn’t sure where to start. As if sensing his internal conflict, Taehyung spoke without looking up. “Ask what you want.”

 

“I— how is he doing?” Hongki began, his eyes darting to the bathroom where Yoongi had disappeared.

 

“Better,” Taehyung answered honestly. “At first it was bad. He couldn’t really be near people or loud noises. Getting him to do anything outside the routine he’d been ordered to follow was impossible. But he’s getting better. He still cooks and cleans, but on his own schedule. He just started working again a few weeks ago. That… wasn’t great at first but a friend of ours who’s aware of this situation works with him and helps where he can.”

 

Hongki bit his lip, “Do you… know why he didn’t call?”

 

Taehyung glanced up, finally looking at Hongki, who couldn’t help but notice how different Taehyung’s expression was now. He’d been happy and calm with Yoongi, ecstatic with Holly, and now he was serious with Hongki. “I don’t know. I didn’t even know you existed until a few days ago.”

 

“I-I see.”

 

“But,” Taehyung continued, seeing how said Hongki looked about that revelation, “when I went home yesterday, our friend Jungkook mentioned that the bastard tried to use your parents to get him to go back last time he was here, so I wonder if that’s related.”

 

“You look angry,” Hongki observed, somewhat startled by the anger that flashed across Taehyung’s face then.

 

Taehyung blinked, frowning to himself before sighing. “Sorry. That— we weren’t there, and he hurt him. Bruised his arm for weeks. I just…”

 

“I get it,” Hongki acknowledged when Taehyung didn’t continue. “It’s hard when there’s nothing you can do.”

 

“Yea,” Taehyung breathed out. “But he really is doing better. He rarely panics anymore and when he does, he can pull himself out of it without outside help. He’s more honest about what he wants and what he likes or doesn’t. He still has stuff to work on obviously but he’s doing better.”

 

Hongki sank to the floor, his hands finding Holly’s belly. He could feel Taehyung’s eyes on him, but he didn’t speak right away. He wanted to ask about their relationship, but he wasn’t sure how. Having seen them interact more now, he was even more sure of his first assessment, but he didn’t know how to bring it up.

 

“I’ll tell you what I can,” Taehyung said after a moment.

 

“You seem to care for Yoongi a great deal,” Hongki began.

 

“I do.”

 

Lifting his eyes so they were on Taehyung’s face, Hongki continued. “But you’re not just friends.”

 

Taehyung frowned quickly, his head tilting almost imperceptibly towards the still closed bathroom door. Hongki noticed the movement but didn’t say anything. He wanted to hear what Taehyung had to say. Eventually, his shoulders drooped just a bit and he sighed. “No, we are just friends. I just— it’s complicated. On my end. Not his.”

 

And there’s that line, Hongki realized. “Why?”

 

“Why what?”

 

“Why is it complicated?” Hongki asked. In all honesty, he didn’t support any sort of relationship between them. Taehyung seemed fine, like a good man even, but Hongki had had a front-row seat to the devolution of Yoongi’s previous relationship. He saw what it did to Yoongi, and he wasn’t sure anyone could recover from it so fast. He knew he didn’t have the right to interfere there, and he never would as long as it wasn’t toxic, but he did have feelings about it. Negative ones. That didn’t stop him from wanting to know what Taehyung thought though.

 

Blinking rapidly, Taehyung darted another look at the door then returned his gaze to Hongki. His expression was blank, but his eyes were intent. Like he was waiting for something. Taehyung didn’t know what, but he could feel that his answer was important, so he took his time crafting what to say. “When Yoongi first arrived, he was scared and alone. I was the only person who understood what had happened to him. Jimin tried but he just didn’t get it. Because of that… I was able to help Yoongi deal with things he’d otherwise have been drowning in. He doesn’t need me as much, if at all, anymore but that dynamic was still very important. I would never want him to think my feelings were relevant to that at all. Nor would I want him to feel some sort of obligation.”

 

“You know,” Hongki said slowly, “he doesn’t see you that way. That wasn’t the way he talked about you.”

 

Taehyung’s lips tilted downward. “Maybe not consciously.”

 

That had not been the answer he’d expected to hear and though it aligned with his own worries, it was hard to hear coming from the person involved. Hongki could clearly see Taehyung cared about Yoongi. It was even more apparent when Yoongi stepped out of the bathroom in his new clothes, the small bag clutching to his chest, and smiled at them. Taehyung simply lit up. The sad sort of concentration was gone and replaced with easy happiness. His back straightened and his eyes crinkled. Hongki wasn’t even sure he was aware he was doing it. It seemed too natural to be a conscious shift.

 

Maybe he didn’t have as much to worry about as he thought.

 

“I guess I have to go to work now,” Yoongi mumbled, looking at Hongki with a wide-eyed expression.

 

“You do,” Taehyung agreed. “But I was talking with Jimin and Jungkook and they wanted to invite Hongki-ssi over for dinner.”

 

“Me?” Hongki repeated.

 

“Really?” Yoongi said at the same time.

 

“Of course, if you two are comfortable with that,” Taehyung added, smiling at Yoongi.

 

Yoongi turned to Hongki quickly, his expression earnest. “Do you have to go home yet?”

 

“No, I’m off until Sunday,” Hongki explained. He’d tried to get more time off but with such short notice, there wasn’t much he could do. Four days in the restaurant industry was like a miracle so he hadn’t wanted to push it. “I would love to if it’s not too much trouble.”

 

“Oh, what will I make… I’ll have to—” Yoongi started mumbling, his fingers already pressing at his lips anxiously.

 

Still smiling, Taehyung gently pulled his hand away. “Don’t worry, we went out and bought all the ingredients for Jimin’s favourite stew last night. He said since he’s paying, he gets to choose. And he already threatened Namjoon-hyung with bodily harm if he keeps you too late.”

 

Yoongi snorted. “I bet that went over great.”

 

“He demanded leftovers and made us promise not to tell Jin-hyung,” Taehyung shrugged. “We have everything you need.”

 

“Okay, that could work,” Yoongi said, his shoulders relaxing as he turned to Hongki. “So, you’ll come?”

 

“I will. As long as Holly can?” Hongki said as three pairs of eyes dropped to see Holly sitting quietly between them with his tail wagging slowly.

 

“I’m stealing this dog,” Taehyung muttered, voice completely serious.

 

Yoongi nodded along, eyes earnest. “Yes. I’m in.”

 

“You are not stealing my dog!” Hongki protested, mock offence on his face.

 

“I run faster, so I’ll just take off,” Taehyung planned, ignoring Hongki’s protest.

 

“I’ll hold him off!” Yoongi declared, face brightening noticeably.

 

“You’d never leave me, right Holly?” Hongki asked, only to watch Holly huff and drop down to rest his head on his paws.

 

“Looks like he agrees with us. Plan made,” Taehyung declared, scrunching his nose at Hongki.

 

Hongki sighed. “If you’re going to steal my dog, the least you can do is call me hyung I suppose.”

 

“A small price to pay,” Yoongi nodded seriously.

 

Laughing slightly, Hongki shook his head. He and Yoongi had had a good night but he was seeing now there had been a tension between them. A slight pause before saying or doing anything. He never would have noticed if he wasn’t seeing the way Yoongi and Taehyung interacted now. Even the way Yoongi talked to Hongki with him here was different. Yoongi was just infinitely more relaxed with Taehyung present. It was nice actually. 

 

The things he’d noticed that were different about Yoongi, his quiet and soft-spoken demeanour, was replaced with more quick wit and silly faces. He just seemed… happy. Hongki supposed that was what Taehyung was worried about. That this behaviour was out of a sense of gratitude. Hongki couldn’t say for sure it wasn’t, but he didn’t think so. When Yoongi was grateful to someone, he acted like he did with Hongki, not Taehyung. That was something else entirely. He figured, when Yoongi was ready, he’d decide what that was.

 

Until then: “Alright, out’cha go. Off to work. Text me the address and I’ll be there for dinner. With my dog.”

 

“For now,” Taehyung threatened, his eyes narrowed. 

 

“Right! For now,” Yoongi played along, smiling brightly. Then he paused, his lips dipping just a bit, and stepped forward, wrapping his arms around Hongki again and ducking his head into his chest. “Thanks for coming, hyung. I’ll see you tonight. I love you.”

 

“I love you too, Yoongi,” Hongki added seriously, patting his head once. “I’ll see you tonight. I’m sure dinner will be fun.”

 

“It will be,” Yoongi agreed, nodding abruptly before pulling back and smiling up at Hongki. “See you then.”

 

And then they were gone and Hongki’s hotel room felt oppressively quiet. Holly nudged his legs then jumped up on the bed, settling into the place where Yoongi had slept. Hongki dropped down beside him, his limbs spread out. “That went well, right?”

 

Holly didn’t respond, but Hongki nodded anyway. “I think so too.”

 


 

Dinner was… an experience. Hongki wasn’t really sure what he’d expected but this wasn’t it. When he’d arrived, things had been a bit awkward. Jimin didn’t really know what to say after hiding the fact that Yoongi was living with him for so many months and while Hongki didn’t hold a grudge it did make him awkward. Plus, Jimin’s boyfriend was this massive, tattooed man who looked like he could probably break him but also spent most of his time being mushy with Jimin or doting on Yoongi, so it was a lot.

 

Though Yoongi was doing all the cooking (he kicked Hongki out when he tried to help), it was interesting to see how the others found ways to help and take care of Yoongi too. They brought him drinks, cleaned up when he was done with one section of the meal prep and moving onto another, fiddled with the heat and air when it got too hot or too cold, that kind of thing. Basically, just anything they could do that wouldn’t interfere with Yoongi’s process. It was obvious they’d developed these habits in tandem with Yoongi’s recovery and watching them together honestly made Hongki want to cry a bit. He didn’t, Holly was watching, but he definitely thought about it. 

 

He was just so thankful that Yoongi was okay and he had friends again. Hongki had watched Yoongi lose all that before. First his friends from school, then those he’d grown up with who still lived in Daegu, then his hobbies and casual friends he’d met through that, then his job, and eventually, Hongki and his freedom. He’d watched in horror as the things he tried to prevent happened anyway. 

 

But Yoongi was getting that back now. 

 

There were still things that lingered. Hongki noticed how no music played even though Yoongi hadn’t been able to function without it on constantly before. The way everyone was very careful not to walk behind him without a soft touch first. And perhaps the most obvious, how no one asked when dinner would be ready. To most people that would be a small thing, probably something most people wouldn’t even notice doing, but Hongki noticed. Maybe because that was the first thing that had tipped him off to the fact that something was off with Minhyuk. 

 

He’d been over for dinner just after they’d moved in together. He hated the place, it was too formal and sterile for Yoongi, but since it had been Minhyuk’s apartment first he’d assumed that would change over time. It hadn’t. But that dinner, he’d been listening to Minhyuk complain about work, his mind already wandering, when Yoongi had come out to give Minhyuk another drink. That had struck him as odd, Yoongi was cooking so Minhyuk sure as hell could get his own drink, but he hadn’t commented. Then Minhyuk had asked when dinner would be ready. It had been said casually, a slight lift in his tone, but Yoongi had flinched away, his whole body recoiling at the comment before he’d smiled and given a specific time. Minhyuk had said something along the lines of it’d better be in a teasing tone, one that even looking back, Hongki still couldn’t sense any anger in, and Yoongi had flinched and returned to the kitchen. Dinner had been on the table at the exact time Yoongi had said, down to the minute. 

 

The whole night had been unsettling. The kind of under your skin itch that you can’t identify. He’d known something was wrong but couldn’t figure out what. His answer had come a few weeks later when he’d gone to the apartment after Yoongi had cancelled their lunch. Yoongi had been wearing makeup when he’d answered, but Hongki had seen it. Over the months and years that followed, he’d gotten better at hiding it but not then. Then he’d been able to see. Hongki remembered how angry he’d been. How he’d wanted to drag Yoongi away and perhaps (not so perhaps, make that definitely) kill Minhyuk, but even then Yoongi had been insistent it was his fault, and it wouldn’t happen again. And then it happened more. And then he went to the hospital. Then again. Then again. Then Jimin showed up and it got even worse. 

 

A high-pitched laugh snapped Hongki back to the present. He leaned over the back of the chair he was sitting on so he could see what the commotion was. Taehyung was in the kitchen now, his hair pulled up in a little sprout style ponytail as he pouted at Yoongi who had since tried to quell his laughter with his hand, which did nothing to hide the light in his eyes. 

 

“They’re good for each other,” Jimin observed, coming to stand just behind Hongki.

 

“I’m getting that,” Hongki agreed.

 

“Taehyung had a rough childhood,” Jimin began.

 

“Yoongi mentioned it.”

 

Jimin nodded. “He doesn’t talk about it with anyone other than his therapist and Yoongi-hyung, but I know enough. He and Yoongi have that pain in common.”

 

“I don’t know if that’s a good thing,” Hongki admitted.

 

“Maybe not for most people,” Jimin agreed, “but with them it’s different. When they’re together that pain unites them but doesn’t define them. It’s not the main subject, hell, it’s barely a subject at all. They address it if it comes up but otherwise, they just are. Taehyung wasn’t always this… free. Hyung lets him be that way. And Taehyung lets hyung be that way too.”

 

Hongki narrowed his eyes on the pair, watching as Yoongi gently instructed Taehyung how to cut the meat they were going to use for the stew. He noticed, with a mild flash of pain, that Yoongi was teaching him the same way Hongki had taught Yoongi. 

 

“I was worried at first. I thought hyung would rely on him, confuse thankfulness for love or even worse think he needed someone to be with him to function properly, but I’m not now. Hyung asks for help, sure, but he does just as much alone without us. Without him. Taehyung’s still worried about it, but I’m not.”

 

“He mentioned it,” Hongki confessed. “I asked this morning.”

 

“He’s mad at himself for falling. Thinks it was a mistake,” Jimin explained, smiling slightly as Jungkook came up and dropped his chin on his shoulder so he could watch Yoongi and Taehyung too. “Do you?”

 

Hongki looked at Jimin for a moment then shook his head. “I don’t think anything that makes Yoongi that happy can be a mistake. That includes you two as well.”

 

“We’ll protect him. No matter what,” Jungkook promised, his lips pressed together firmly.

 

“Damn right we will,” Jimin agreed.

 

“I have no doubt,” Hongki said, taking a sip of his beer. “Just remember I live on an island should you need help with disposal.”

 

Completely serious, Jungkook narrowed his eyes. “Jin-hyung has a jet.”

 

Hongki snorted and tipped his beer towards Jungkook. “I like you. Good job on this one, Chim.”

 

“I think I’ll keep him,” Jimin whispered, smiling at Jungkook softly. Jungkook scrunched his nose, the earlier harshness replaced by soft eyes and slightly rosy cheeks. “Yes, I definitely think I will.”

 


 

By the time Hongki left on Saturday night, Yoongi was both utterly content and devastated. He’d had such a good time. After the dinner, Yoongi had ended up spending the night at Hongki’s hotel again and they’d spent all of Saturday doing some sightseeing while walking Holly. It had just been so good and fun and Yoongi hadn’t wanted it to end. He’d known it had to, of course, Hongki’s life was on Jeju Island now and Yoongi couldn’t keep him from that but he’d still been sad to see him go. Less so, when Hongki had shown him a picture of a pretty girl on his phone and blushed up to his hairline while he talked about her, but still sad. He promised to visit him soon while hugging Holly until the small dog started to growl before sending them off. Thankfully, Taehyung had been there to drive him home because he’d cried the entire way back. 

 

Though he was sad to see him go, he was still happy overall. He’d taken a risk reaching out to Hongki without thinking about it first, but it’d worked out marvellously. The whole week afterwards he’d been floating, his work flowing easily without many issues. By the time he went to his second therapy session, he was still so happy he’d ended up rambling about it almost the entire time. Dr. Yong had been pleased with that as well so Yoongi took it as a win. 

 

Everything was just going so well, and he knew that should worry him, but he didn’t let it. Christmas was coming, just a few weeks left now, he had friends and a family member he wanted to see (his parents were pushed so far back in his mind they mid as well be imaginary), and his work was progressing smoothly. For once, he wasn’t going to let himself worry. He was just going to enjoy it. Just this once.

 


 

Cracking his neck as he stepped into the apartment, Namjoon kicked off his shoes and went in search of Seokjin. He’d had a really hard day, the music just not working, and he wanted snuggles and kisses. In no particular order. 

 

Not finding him on the couch as he usually was, Namjoon checked his reading nook only to find that it was empty too. Frowning now, Namjoon walked back through the living room and went to the kitchen. Finally, he found Seokjin seated at the table, his legs crossed and a glass of red wine in his hand. He was staring at a file on the table and he looked mad.

 

“Jin? What’s wrong? Everything okay?” Namjoon asked immediately, rushing to his side.

 

Seokjin blinked at him, his face surprised then he smiled slightly. “Yes, sorry. I just— I received something today.”

 

“Okay?” Namjoon said, glancing down at the file. When he saw Yoongi’s name on it he halted. “What is this?”

 

“Everything a private investigator could find on Min Yoongi and Gwon Minhyuk,” Seokjin explained, sipping his wine. “It’s… hard to read.”

 

“Jin, I thought— you said you wouldn’t interfere unless asked!” Namjoon burst out, his eyes already scanning the top page quickly. It was a medical file. Yoongi had been entered into the ER for a serious chest injury from hitting the side of a table. The doctor’s notes indicated he’d almost bled out. “God, what the fuck?”

 

Seokjin grimaced, “There’s more like that. I had to stop here. The dates… this goes on for a long time after this one and I couldn’t— I didn't ask for medical stuff, but he included it anyway.”

 

“What did you ask for, Jin?” Namjoon asked, settling beside Seokjin at the table. He grabbed his hand and squeezed but his eyes kept drifting back to the file.

 

“After Yoongi told me he was an architect and that my company had worked with him before, I wanted to find out more. I hunted down some projects but he’s just a name alongside several others. He’s not important enough to be the head architect, just one of the support team, so I couldn’t find anything. I thought I should know more about him in case Yoongi asks me to help. I just can’t shake the feeling something is going to happen, so I wanted to be prepared. The investigator… well let’s just say he was thorough.”

 

“Shit,” Namjoon grimaced. “I don’t know if I like this.”

 

“Me neither,” Seokjin admitted. “But I need to know if I want to erase him.”

 

“You don’t know that he’s going to ask, Jin.”

 

Seokjin bit his lip and sighed. He’d held back getting involved for a long time because of that very reason. He didn't know if Yoongi was going to ask. It was entirely possible he wouldn’t. But since meeting Yoongi, seeing the way he treated everyone and the way he thought of himself and his past, Seokjin had been unable to turn away. He was going to give Yoongi the choice, he’d never take that away from him, but he was sure as hell going to be ready with a plan of action at a moment’s notice. The second Yoongi asked, Minhyuk's life would be nothing but a burning wreck around him. Of that Seokjin was fucking positive. He’d settle for nothing less.

 

“But if he does, I’ll be ready.”

 


 

“Yes, mom, I’m eating well,” Jungkook giggled, curling up into the blanket on Jimin’s bed, his phone pressed to his ear. “Yoongi-hyung cooks extra for me. Thinks I’m too thin for how much I work out.”

 

A good man. We’ll adopt him too,” Maeng Mihi, Jungkook’s mother and biggest fan, responded, mostly serious.

 

“You can’t just adopt people,” Jungkook muttered. “Though I think he needs it more than Jimin-hyung.” 

 

Silence greeted that comment, then: “You’d tell me if something was wrong, right bun?

 

“Mom, I—” Jungkook broke off.

 

I know you said he’s working through something, but it’s not… dangerous is it?

 

Jungkook squeezed his eyes closed. “I’m scared for him, mom. I— it’s not his fault but I am.”

 

Oh, bun, can you tell me? I haven’t asked but…

 

Unsure, Jungkook bit his lip. Yoongi had told him he didn't have to hide it anymore, but it still felt like a violation to just tell people. But this was also his mom and she’d know what to say, right? Sitting up, Jungkook leaned against the wall and brought his knees up to his chest. “He said it was okay but I just— it feels weird talking about it without him, you know?”

 

You don’t have to tell me, I’m just worried. You sound so upset.”

 

Nodding even if she couldn’t see it, Jungkook took a breath. “H-he was dating this guy before. For years. He hurt him, mom. Took everything from him, sent him to the hospital. He was so— the first time he saw me, I grabbed his arm because he kept running away and he had a panic attack and kept apologizing.”

 

Oh, bun…

 

“He’s better now! Mostly. He’s doing good. He’s so nice, mom. And supportive and I just— how could someone do that?”

 

Terrible people don’t need a reason,” Mihi said quietly.

 

“The guy keeps showing up. He waited for us to be gone and tried to take him back. He told me the guy used his parents and I just thought it was like you guys, you know? I didn’t ask. I should have asked.”

 

Jungkook…

 

“Jimin-hyung said they knew. They knew and they didn’t stop it because they liked the person that asshole made him into and I just— how can parents do that? Why did Jimin-hyung’s parents kick him out? Why did Yoongi-hyung’s parents ignore it? Why did Taehyung-hyung’s dad hurt him too? Sometimes I— why did I get so lucky, mom?” Jungkook halted, his breath stuttering. He hadn’t realized how upset he was. He’d had an inkling when he’d stormed off the week before, but when it had all just come flooding out, he hadn’t been able to stop it. He’d overshared. His mom didn't know about Taehyung but he’d just word-vomited everything out.

 

Mihi was silent for a moment, clearly collecting her thoughts. Though Jungkook didn't tell her everything, she’d made some assumptions based on what little she did know. It was half the reason she and her husband wanted to visit so badly. When she joked about adopting everyone, she wasn’t really kidding. No matter what age, everyone deserved a parental figure that cared for them. Blood didn’t matter. It wasn’t surprising to her that Jungkook had inadvertently surrounded himself with so many damaged people. He’d been like that since he was a child. He was bright and sweet and naturally empathetic. He was drawn to people who were hurting because he wanted to help. It was a lovely quality but one that made her concerned when he was so far away.

 

She was not, however, concerned about the boys themselves. She may be worried Jungkook took too much onto himself but that didn’t mean she thought he should leave or stop. Everything she’d heard about Jimin, Taehyung, and now Yoongi, told her they needed each other. That they’d formed their own family that cared for and supported each other in a way she couldn’t do all the way from Busan. She also, knowing what she did now, very much needed to meet and talk to Yoongi. But none of that mattered right now as she heard her son hold back tears on the other line.

 

Not everyone who gives birth or fathers a child is a parent, Jungkook. Even raising someone doesn’t give you that right. Those people, and I use that word loosely, don’t deserve to be called parents. Those boys— I don’t know their situations, but no one deserves that, and I know it feels like you’re the lucky one, honey, but that isn’t right. It isn’t lucky to have good parents. That should just be the way it is, and I am so, so sorry those poor boys didn’t get that. I— I know you don’t like how smothering we are, but I— I would really like to meet them. Especially Jimin. I can tell how much you love him, and I want to see that in person. Now even more than ever do you know why?

 

“W-why?”

 

Because he’s taking care of my baby even while he deals with his own personal problems and helps his friends. I want to meet such a strong person.

 

“H-he is strong,” Jungkook agreed, rubbing his eyes.

 

And I have to thank the cute photographer who sent me all those lovely photos of you two. I can feel how much he cares about you in those photos. I need to thank the boy who takes the time to let me see my son when he can’t be bothered,” Mihi teased, lightening the tone a bit.

 

“Mooooom,” Jungkook whined.

 

And now I have a new boy to thank. How will I ever thank someone who takes such good care of my baby even while he deals with something so horrific.

 

Jungkook sniffled. “Where did all this come from?”

 

I’ve been thinking about it for a while but there was never a time to bring it up. I wanted you to want me to meet Jimin. To meet everyone. I know I’m your mom and it’s embarrassing and I’m embarrassing. I know that. I will squish you and make you so awkward and I won’t apologize for that for a second, but I still want to come.

 

“I want you to come too. I miss you. And dad.”

 

We miss you too, bun.

 

“Do you think you could come soon?” Jungkook whispered. “I know it’s close to Christmas and I’ll be home soon anyway but I—”

 

Then I just get to see you twice so close together. We’ll be there, bun. I promise.

 

“Thank you, mom. For this but also being there and accepting me and not— just thank you.”

 

Mihi sighed. “You don’t need to thank me for basic human decency, bun. But I’ll take it because I know you needed to say it. I’ll text you when I know the details of our trip, okay?”

 

“Yea. Okay. Thank you. I love you.”

 

I love you too, bun. Have a good night.”

 

“You too,” Jungkook said, hanging up. He felt emotionally drained but lighter. He was excited to see his parents again after so long and even if he was nervous about Jimin meeting them, he was happy about it too. Plus, seeing Yoongi with Hongki just reminded him how nice it was to have family around. He missed the closeness that came with being around close family. 

 

It had been so obvious how close Hongki and Yoongi had been. It was even more obvious how hurt Hongki was about the tension that still lingered. Jungkook didn’t think Yoongi noticed, or was even aware, but there was a marked difference with how he treated everyone else and Hongki. It wasn’t malicious and Hongki didn’t look mad, but he was clearly hurt by it, even if he didn’t want to show it. Jungkook understood that, still remembered the way Yoongi would cuddle with Jimin but hold himself tilted slightly away from him at first. He knew, as Jungkook was sure Hongki did, that it was a trauma response and didn’t mean he held anything against them personally, but it still hurt. Jungkook hoped that one day he’d get to see Hongki and Yoongi on a more level playing field. But that’d take time and thankfully, Hongki had looked more than ready to wait. 

 

That thought gave Jungkook comfort even as Jimin slipped into the room and crawled into bed with him. “How’s your mom?

 

“She’s good. They’re going to come visit soon.”

 

“Oh? That’s nice. I can’t wait to finally meet them,” Jimin murmured, snuggling into Jungkook’s chest with a small sigh.

 

“Really?"

 

Feeling Jungkook tense underneath him, Jimin pulled back. “Did you… not want me to?”

 

“No! I do! I just… didn’t know if you’d want to.”

 

Jimin smiled. “Of course I do. They’re your parents.”

 

“But I don’t want to meet yours,” Jungkook blurted out before he could think to stop himself.

 

“Good because I don’t want you to,” Jimin muttered. He’d had a long time to come to terms with his parents kicking him out. It hurt sometimes, randomly, but not over something like this.

 

“Sorry, I—”

 

“Jungkook, it’s fine, I promise. I’m excited to meet them. Don’t tell hyung, he’ll cook them a feast before you can stop him,”

 

“They want to meet him too,” Jungkook revealed, chuckling because he knew Jimin was right.

 

“Well, I guess we’ll just have to get a feast-sized table.”

 

“The only option, really,” Jungkook agreed, letting his eyes slip closed as Jimin curled back into him.

 

“The things we do for love.”

 


 

Cho Jongso was a great many things. Yoongi and Namjoon’s boss for one. The owner of a fairly profitable label for another. A man who was easily irritated by posturing was very much a third thing. But overall, he was just a man who loved music and had broken his back working his way up in the industry so he could create the music he wanted in an environment he’d fostered. Unlike most men in his position, he hadn’t come from any sort of wealthy or influential background. That had been a hindrance for a long time, but he’d used that to push himself forward. The only reason he’d even been able to go to school was because of several scholarships and part-time jobs and he never forgot that. He wasn’t soft, he would fire you and blacklist you if you fucked him over and hurt his people, but he liked to think he was better than most. In some cases, he’d be right, and he was better, in others, he was wrong, and did worse. That was just the nature of the entertainment industry. Even people you liked had to do things for the sake of business. 

 

But the most important things about all that were 1) he disliked posturing, he’d fired more than one PD for it and 2) entitlement, working his way up alone will limit the amount of that he was willing to take. Which was why, when he saw Gwon Minhyuk swagger into his office, he was angry on principle. The man hadn’t even opened his mouth yet and Jongso disliked him.

 

It was all downhill from there.

 

“Not to be rude, but I still can’t figure out why an architect from Daegu wanted to meet with me. I’m even more confused about how. Not everyone gets on my calendar.”

 

Minhyuk smiled in what Jongso assumed was supposed to be a bashful manner but just came off hollow. “Ah, I’ve known several producers in the Daegu music scene for the last four or so years, so I had one do me a favour.”

 

“I see. Well, what was that favour for?” Jongso asked, leaning back in his chair.

 

As Jongso watched, Minhyuk leaned forward, an earnest expression on his face. It made Jongso want to hit him. First of all, he wasn’t a good actor. Second of all, he worked in the entertainment industry and he could recognize bullshit and false sincerity a mile away. No one, and he meant no one, pulled that shit with him.

 

“I heard something very concerning and I wanted to reach out as soon as possible.”

 

“Oh?” Jongso asked, false interest in his tone. He saw the second it worked, because, for the first time, actual emotion entered Minhyuk’s eyes and it was satisfaction.

 

“Well, this is a little embarrassing for me, but you see my boyfriend… well he suffers from some severe mental issues. Depression, anxiety, among others. He’s been admitted for… well, harming himself and it’s just so troubling.”

 

“What does that have to do with me?" Jongso asked, cutting to the chase.

 

Minhyuk grimaced. “Well, it seems you’ve hired him.”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“He ran away some weeks back and I’ve been doing my best to help him from a distance. I know it’s important to give him time to come back so he can get well again but— well, I’m afraid he’ll only get worse now that he has a job here. I’m worried, you understand, his work was what triggered him before, and he never really got over it. Can’t even listen to music without going into another episode. It’s… hard to watch.”

 

“You’re concerned?” Jongso wondered, his attention focused on Minhyuk’s eyes.

 

“I am. I love him so much but there’s only so much I can do from so far away. He harmed himself before and I just— I’m not sure he’s emotionally ready for something like this. I just want him to come home and be safe. I don’t want you to fire him! This means so much to him and I’m so proud he’s taken this step, but his home is in Daegu. I don't know if his job can be remote, but I think it would just be safer for him and everyone else you employ. I’m sure you don't want something… tragic to happen at your company.”

 

Jongso nodded. “No, we certainly wouldn’t want that.”

Chapter Text

Groaning in a tone that could only indicate displeasure, Yoongi kicked out his leg and pushed his chair away from Hoseok so hard he hit the wall. “Enough puns. I swear I’ll never answer the door when you come by again!”

 

Hoseok cackled, leaning back in his own chair which he had dragged from Namjoon’s studio when he’d come by to visit knowing Namjoon would just get a replacement rather than take it back. Namjoon, like Hoseok, also knew that Yoongi would never order a second chair for his own office since he thought it looked like he was entertaining visitors rather than working, so this was their compromise. “It was good!”

 

“It was not good. Get out. I can never unhear that,” Yoongi whined, his face showing nothing but pain. “It was so bad.”

 

Pausing only to shove more noodles into his mouth, Hoseok continued to laugh at the expression on Yoongi’s face. He looked upset, but in a way that Hoseok found brought him genuine happiness. The Yoongi he’d met all those weeks ago never would have reacted so strongly or vocally to a shitty pun the way he was now. Even upset, he looked relaxed. He wasn’t thinking about the ramifications of being mad at Hoseok’s terrible joke, he was just reacting, even being a bit sassy. 

 

Hoseok liked that. 

 

He’d been visiting Yoongi on lunch breaks a few times a week since he’d started and Hoseok liked to think he was making progress. Yoongi talked to him a lot more, his words flowing quickly and slurring together from enthusiasm, his expression usually light and happy. There were off days, of course. Sometimes Hoseok showed up and Yoongi looked stressed, a line appearing between his brows as he worked on the files and assignments Namjoon gave him. Other times he found him staring blankly at the wall, a frown on his lips like he was thinking deeply about something he didn’t particularly like. 

 

That’s how Hoseok had found out Yoongi was going to therapy. It had come up casually: Yoongi looking spaced out and Hoseok wondering why. Apparently, his therapist had mentioned something to him that had thrown him off. Hoseok didn’t ask what and Yoongi didn’t offer any more information than that. Not that Hoseok minded. He was happy Yoongi trusted him enough to tell him in the first place, he didn’t need to know details. Didn’t want to. That was Yoongi’s private business. 

 

Hoseok was just proud, honestly. Everyone knew that Yoongi needed help. He was doing so well on his own. So, so well. He had improved so much it was remarkable, which just showed how strong he really was, even if he had a hard time believing it sometimes. But some things required professional help. Hoseok knew Taehyung saw someone on occasion and their company also offered counsellors and therapy was covered under their health plan, so it wasn’t such an outlandish idea. At least not to him and the people around Yoongi. But it was still an amazing feat for him to decide to do it alone without prompting from someone else, so Hoseok was proud and he’d said so. 

 

“Jin-hyung will be so hurt that you don’t appreciate the mastery of his dad jokes,” Hoseok said, shaking his head mournfully.

 

“He’ll get over it,” Yoongi quipped back. Hoseok noted the way his hand froze on his chopsticks before he continued eating. That was something Hoseok had noticed him do a lot. It was like he reacted or spoke without thinking only for his brain to catch up and worry. But every time Yoongi moved past it without any other reaction so Hoseok assumed it was just Yoongi working through his issues regarding his freedom to do and say what he wanted.

 

“Nope. He’ll die devastated and humourless,” Hoseok lamented. “We’ll have—”

 

BUZZ. BUZZ.

 

“—what the hell was that?”

 

Yoongi blinked. “The doorbell. It’s annoying as fuck but no one uses it but you and Joon.”

 

“A new visitor?” Hoseok squealed. “Can I open it?”

 

“Sure,” Yoongi shrugged. Hoseok jumped up and unlocked the door, only to take a quick step back. Yoongi leaned over in his chair so he could see, his brows furrowing. “Who is it?”

 

“Um, this is Cho Jongso. The CEO,” Hoseok explained, bowing briefly as he moved out of the way. 

 

“Oh,” Yoongi said, jumping up and nearly throwing his lunch at the desk in his haste to greet him properly. He bowed deeply and spoke hastily. “I-I’m sorry I didn’t greet you immediately. I didn’t— I’m sorry.”

 

“It’s okay,” Jongso assured, smiling at Hoseok before returning his attention to Yoongi. “We haven’t had the chance to meet yet so I’m not offended. I actually wanted to meet you before but things have just been crazy the past few weeks. Do you have a moment now? I know it’s your lunch break, but I’m afraid I’m low on time.”

 

“That’s fine. Of course. That’s— sure. Yes. Now is fine. Do you want—” Yoongi panicked his eyes looking around for a seat. “Here, take my seat, please.”

 

“Thank you, Yoongi.”

 

Hoseok frowned, narrowing his eyes at his boss, who just smiled again when he caught Hoseok’s eyes and took a seat. Hoseok titled his head, unsure what was happening. Jongso didn’t just show up. It wasn’t his thing. Ever. “I guess I’ll leave you two alone! See you later, hyung.”

 

“Sorry, Hoseok. You can take my leftovers if you want. You didn't get to eat a lot,” Yoongi insisted, already in the process of handing the box to Hoseok.

 

“I’m good with my own, hyung. Have a good meeting,” Hoseok refused, smiling slightly. “Good to see you, sir.”

 

“You too, Hoseok,” Jongso agreed, watching the interaction closely. 

 

When the door closed behind Hoseok, Yoongi remained where he was, staring at it. Then slowly turned around, his hands fiddling with his shirt and head down. Jongso scanned him up and down, his expression impassive. He’d seen Yoongi in passing, of course, but that was all so he was taking his time assessing him now. He was a small man but when he’d stepped in, that hadn’t been the first thing he’d noticed. No, that had been the rapid shift in demeanour. He’d gone from at ease to uncomfortable in an instant. Jongso was used to that, as the CEO he had a lot of power and some people had issues being around it, but he’d never seen fear before. That was new. And here it was again. Yoongi’s posture and nervous tics screamed ‘scared.’ Though he was standing, he was making himself as small as possible without actually curling up. 

 

“You can sit, Yoongi. I just wanted to talk to you,” Jongso said, gesturing to the other chair in the room that Hoseok had vacated.

 

“O-oh. Thank you,” Yoongi said, sitting down quickly. His eyes flicked to Jongso then away. “I just wanted to apologize again for not greeting you. A-and I swear Hoseok isn’t always here. He just brought lunch. I promise.”

 

Jongso smiled gently. “I know, Yoongi. I’ve seen your work. I don’t care what my employees do as long as their work is done well and I’ve had no problem with yours.”

 

“T-thank you, sir.”

 

“But I did have a reason for coming to see you today,” Jongso said honestly, folding his hands on his knee.

 

“O-oh?” Yoongi said, biting his lip.

 

“I do,” Jongso confirmed, still watching Yoongi closely. “I had an interesting meeting this morning. An architect from Daegu.”

 

Immediately, Yoongi’s whole body froze. It was visible even to Jongso. He was sure he’d have noticed even if he hadn’t been monitoring his reactions. Yoongi’s head snapped up then, his eyes wide and round. There was fear there but also confusion. “W-why?”

 

“Well, he wanted to tell me that an employee of mine was a liability because he was mentally unstable and prone to hurting himself,” Jongso explained.

 

“I-I-I—”

 

“Is that true, Yoongi?” Jongso asked gently. 

 

Yoongi licked his lips and nodded once, abruptly. “O-one time.”

 

“I see.”

 

“But I— I’m getting help! I swear I am! And it was only— it was years ago, I swear. I don’t even— I don’t want that. I swear I’m getting help, please don’t fire me. You can— my therapist, you can talk to her,” Yoongi burst out, desperation leaking into his tone.

 

Jongso shook his head. “I don’t need to talk to her. I don’t care either way. I just wanted to know how much of what he’d said was true.”

 

Yoongi reined himself in, stopping the onslaught of words that were going to rush out. “W-what?”

 

“Namjoon already warned me you had a bad ex, Yoongi. I wanted to know why you quit making music when you had such raw talent and that’s what he told me. No details, so please don’t be upset with him.”

 

“I-I’m not?” Yoongi said, his emotions swirling around him as he tried to understand what was happening. He’d been so convinced he was going to lose his job. That the other shoe had finally dropped and his past was coming to get him. Proving his one, small, lingering fear. That he’d never really be free. Even if Minhyuk left him alone, what he’d been like then would taint everything. But that… didn’t seem to be what was happening here and Yoongi wasn’t sure he could comprehend that. His thoughts were scattered and frantic, alternating between happiness and fear and it was giving him a headache.

 

“I’m glad,” Jongso nodded. He tilted his head at Yoongi, watching the chaotic mix of emotions flickering across his face. He hadn’t intended to trigger something, but he hadn’t really known how to bring it up otherwise so he’d gone with direct. That was probably a mistake but he’d gotten the answers he’d needed. “I don’t need to know what he did nor what made you run here, even if I have an idea. But you do need to deal with this.”

 

“Deal with it?” Yoongi repeated. How was he supposed to just erase his past? It didn't work like that.

 

Understanding his confusion, Jongso explained. “I’m not talking about what happened to you, Yoongi. I’m talking about the asshole who thought he had the right to come to my office and tell me personal information about you to get you fired.”

 

“Fired!?” Yoongi repeated again.

 

“Or rather, he wanted you to telecommute. So you could go home.”

 

“I am home,” Yoongi whispered.

 

Jongso nodded. “I assumed as much, he’s not a very good liar. But the fact remains, not everyone will care to look for the details, Yoongi. Honestly, if I hadn’t talked to Namjoon and seen your work firsthand, it might have worked. So you need to deal with it before he goes to someone else.”

 

Yoongi blinked rapidly, his eyes fixed on Jongso’s face but not meeting his eyes. He didn’t know what to say. He’d been scared, and honestly, his heart was still pounding, but he was also weirdly calm now. It felt like Jongso was… warning him. He didn’t get why. They’d never met before. There was no reason for Jongso to care nor take on the liability of having someone like Yoongi work for him, yet here he was. Warning him. So Yoongi nodded slowly.

 

“I’ll handle it.”

 


 

The second the door closed behind Hoseok, he made a beeline for Jongso’s office. He didn’t like that Jongso had just shown up. He was the hands-off type of boss. He didn’t like to interfere because he felt like it would interrupt the creative process. They had meetings frequently so he was kept in the loop but otherwise he didn’t question them. He sure as hell didn’t interfere with assistants. If he wanted an update, he’d talk to Namjoon since he was in charge. Seeing Yoongi just didn’t make sense. So he was going to find out what had prompted his little visit. Like Namjoon, Hoseok had known Jongso’s assistant, Yejin, for years so he approached her quickly, barely pausing to breathe before he started to question her.

 

“Yejin, what was Cho-PD’s last meeting?”

 

“What?” Yejin asked, startled by Hoseok’s abrupt appearance.

 

“Last meeting. Who was it?” Hoseok repeated.

 

Yejin blinked and pulled up Jongso’s calendar. “He had a phone meeting with the head of accounting. Why?”

 

Hoseok frowned. “Before that?”

 

“Um, Gwon Minhyuk. I don’t know him but he was recommended through a producer in— where are you going? Hoseok?”

 

But Hoseok was long gone. The second he’d heard Minhyuk, he’d known why Jongso had shown up at Yoongi’s office. They’d all existed in a perpetual state of anxiety since his last appearance, never really knowing when he’d show up again. Now he knew. This was his next attempt to get Yoongi to come back. Hoseok didn’t know what he’d done or said but he knew it was bad. It had to be if Jongso had come to see Yoongi personally.

 

I shouldn’t have left. Fuck. Fuck. This is bad. Fuck.

 

With absolutely no thought to how rude it would be, Hoseok burst into one of the dance studios, his breath coming quickly, in search of Jimin. He was off to the side, arms crossed and attention fixed on the idols practicing in front of him. Or had been until Hoseok rather loudly and abruptly ran into the room. Now he, and everyone else, was looking at him worriedly.

 

“Hyung?”

 

“Come with me now,” Hoseok ordered, grabbing his arm and pulling.

 

Jimin looked at him worriedly, his head moving to look at the idols before returning to Hoseok. “Hyung, what the hell?”

 

“Now Jimin. It’s hyung,” Hoseok explained briefly.

 

“Shit,” Jimin cursed. “I’ll be back. Yeonmin can you take over for now?”

 

“Um, sure?” Yeonmin, Jimin’s longtime assistant, said, clearly confused. Jimin nodded briefly before taking off in a run, Hoseok just behind him. Neither man paid attention to the confused looks they were getting but as they stepped into the elevator, Jimin rounded on Hoseok.

 

“Explain.”

 

Hoseok shot him a look then continued to stare at the slowly increasing numbers of the elevator. “Cho-PD came to talk to Yoongi-hyung while I was there for lunch. I thought it was weird but I left them alone anyway. Yejin said Cho-PD had a meeting with someone named Gwon Minhyuk this morning. I’m guessing that’s hyung’s ex’s name?”

 

“Motherfucker!” Jimin snapped. “How did he find out he was working here? Fuck. Yes, that’s his fucking name. Fuck.”

 

“I shouldn’t have left him alone,” Hoseok berated himself as he rubbed his face. “I knew it was weird for Cho-PD to come to see him but I just— fuck.”

 

Jimin shook his head sharply. He was mad. Madder than he’d been in a while. But that wasn’t Hoseok’s fault. “No, you did the right thing. That’s hyung’s boss, our boss. We can’t just hang out in every meeting. There was no way for you to know that the bastard had come here.”

 

“But I did. I knew it was weird,” Hoseok insisted, growing increasingly antsy as they near the right floor.

 

“And you’re doing something about it,” Jimin reminded him before he squeezed through the partially opened doors and ran to Namjoon’s studio. While Hoseok caught up, Jimin pressed on the doorbell and kept his finger on it until Namjoon ripped open the door, a pissed-off expression on his face. Before he could say a word, Jimin rushed out: “Minhyuk met with Cho-PD. He’s in hyung’s office now.”

 

Namjoon’s eyes widened and flicked between Jimin and Hoseok, both of whom looked worried. “Let’s interrupt then.”

 

“Thank god, he likes you more than us,” Hoseok said, only partially joking. 

 

“We’ll argue that point later,” Namjoon muttered, following after Jimin and Hoseok the few more doors down to Yoongi’s office. Jimin was about to repeat his previous action of holding down the buzzer when the door opened to reveal Jongso, who, understandably, looked startled to see three of his best employees standing in front of him all looking various stages of upset.

 

“Well, isn’t this nice,” Jongso said slowly, glancing back at Yoongi, who pressed his fingers to his lips, a slight smile peeking through. Jongso shook his head and turned back to his supposedly loyal employees. “You can calm down, I’m not being mean to him. We just had to discuss some future plans. Isn’t that right, Yoongi?”

 

“Yes,” Yoongi agreed softly.

 

Jongso nodded and slipped past the three who were still staring at him with a mixture of suspicion and worry. “Perhaps it’s time for you three to get back to work, no?”

 

Without waiting for a reply, Jongso left them behind, his hands shoved casually into the pockets of his suit pants. Hoseok narrowed his eyes again, then practically pushed Jimin and Namjoon into the office where Yoongi was busying himself shoving a notepad into a bag.

 

“What happened?” Jimin asked immediately. “Are you okay?”

 

Yoongi nodded. “Minhyuk came to see him. Tried to get me fired. He… told him some stuff. About my… medical history.”

 

Without really meaning to, Namjoon winced. He’d seen Yoongi’s file. All of it. After talking to Seokjin, he hadn’t been able to not look. The same went for Seokjin. Neither planned on bringing it up, obviously, but Namjoon had never been good about schooling his expressions. Yoongi caught it and his hands stopped moving before he blinked. “You know.”

 

Hoseok and Jimin rounded on Namjoon who grimaced and rubbed the back of his neck. “I… might. Yes.”

 

“Know? Know what?” Jimin asked, looking back between Namjoon and Yoongi quickly. “Know what?!”

 

“That I tried to kill myself,” Yoongi said simply, grabbing the bag and swinging it over his shoulder. 

 

“WHAT!?” Jimin shrieked, grabbing Yoongi's shoulders and turning him so they were face to face. “What do you mean?!”

 

“It was a few years ago,” Yoongi explained. “Just after things got… bad. Or worse, I suppose.”

 

“How did I— hyung,” Jimin rambled, his hands trembling where they still rested on Yoongi’s shoulders.

 

Yoongi smiled softly and reached up to squeeze Jimin’s hand. “I’m okay now, Jimine. I promise. I wasn’t in that mindset even before I left. That’s why I left. Because I want to live and be here. I swear.”

 

Mollified to an extent, Jimin tried to pull himself together but it was a losing battle. His lips started to tremble and even when he bit down on them to stop the movement, it didn’t help. “But hyung…”

 

“Oh, Jiminie,” Yoongi sighed, pulling him in for a hug. “I’m sorry you had to find out.”

 

“No, hyung! I want— I want to know these things. Please— please tell me. I— please let me be there for you. I know— I know you have Tae and Kook now too but—”

 

“You’re always first, Jimin.” Yoongi interrupted. “Even if it doesn’t seem like it, you’re my best friend. Who else knows everything about me?”

 

“N-no one,” Jimin agreed, sniffling. 

 

“Exactly. So don’t cry, okay?” Yoongi prompted, wiping his cheeks where a few tears had escaped.

 

“O-okay,” Jimin agreed shakily.

 

Yoongi smiled, then his eyes shifted to Namjoon, who looked apologetic, and Hoseok, who looked remarkably understanding. Yoongi took a moment to ponder that then redirected his attention back to Namjoon. “Does Jin-hyung know too?”

 

“He does,” Namjoon admitted.

 

“Good. I have to go see him.”

 

“W-what?” Jimin asked.

 

“So suddenly?” Hoseok added.

 

Dropping his hands from Jimin’s face, Yoongi straightened his shoulders and nodded firmly. “It’s time this ends.”

 


 

Seokjin was, in a word, busy. There wasn’t really a time when he wasn’t. It was just the nature of his job. He scheduled himself that way, as in too much, so that when he got home every night, he could leave work behind. Now that Namjoon also came home earlier, at least more than before, Seokjin had even more reasons to overbook himself each and every day.

 

That, however, didn’t matter when he saw Yoongi walk into the reception area of his office. He looked hesitant, but there was a tenseness to his shoulders that made Seokjin anxious. He and Yoongi talked frequently, exchanged recipes almost as often, and texted daily. But they didn’t see each other that much. Like Seokjin said, he was busy. The same was true for their other mutual friends as well; Seokjin didn't get to see Jungkook, Jimin, or Taehyung all that much, so Seokjin didn’t feel bad.

 

But Yoongi was now in his office.

 

A few seconds later, his assistant stepped in, her expression hesitant. “There’s a Min Yoongi here to see you? He doesn’t have an appointment but he says it’s urgent.”

 

“Send him in,” Seokjin ordered, already standing and rounding his desk so he could meet Yoongi on more equal footing.

 

“Hi, hyung,” Yoongi said softly when he entered, his eyes scanning the area quickly. “Nice office.”

 

“Thanks, I like it.” Yoongi nodded, his hands clenching and unclenching on the strap of the messenger bag he was wearing. Seokjin watched him fidget awkwardly for a few more seconds then spoke again. “Is everything okay?”

 

Yoongi’s eyes snapped to Seokjin and there he saw a determination he’d never seen before. Yoongi was angry. “I need your help.”

 

“What?” Seokjin said, straightening. “What did you say?”

 

“I said I need your help. I want that fucker gone.”

 

Seokjin’s face lit up, but he maintained enough composure to ask a follow-up question. “I thought you’d never ask. What changed?”

 

Yoongi pursed his lips. “I know you know about my medical history. He came to my job and told my boss about it so I’d be fired or forced to go back to him. He made me sound crazy. Like I would hurt someone or myself. I won’t let him lie to people like that anymore. I won’t. I want to be left alone.”

 

“Then what do you want me to do, Yoongi? Tell me and it’s done.”

 

“I want you to do to him what he tried to do to me. Take everything away from him. I want him to know what it’s like,” Yoongi hissed, his fingers gripping the bag tightly.

 

Seokjin nodded. “Will that make you feel better?”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “No. This isn’t about that. I don’t want revenge. I want freedom. If he’d just left me alone, I wouldn’t care but he won’t stop.”

 

“I see.”


“Don’t misunderstand,” Yoongi insisted, his eyes earnest. “This isn’t for me. It’s for my life. They’re different things.”

 

Watching him for a moment longer, Seokjin nodded and leaned over to hit his intercom. The second his assistant answered, Seokjin smirked. “Cancel the rest of my day. Something’s come up.”

 

“Sir?”

 

“Oh, and book an appointment with Han and Sons in Daegu. I’m thinking of designing a new home.”

 


 

“Add 15 millilitres of olive oil to the pan,” Jungkook muttered, his eyes narrowed on the recipe Yoongi had written out for him. “What does that mean? How much is that? Fuck.”

 

Frowning down at the little spoons he held in his hand, Jungkook flipped through them until he found one that said 15ml and sighed. It’s a tablespoon, okay. I can do that, Jungkook rationalized as he poured the oil into the spoon. It ended up overflowing onto the pan a bit, but he figured that was okay. 

 

Honestly, Jungkook was a little nervous about all this. When Yoongi had offered to drag Taehyung out somewhere so he and Jimin could have a date night, Jungkook had been ecstatic. Not that he didn’t love Taehyung and Yoongi, but, well, he kinda just wanted to be able to fuck his boyfriend without someone being in the room over. So sue him. But after the initial ‘oh my god privacy’ moment, Jungkook had decided that he wanted the evening to be romantic too. They’d both been so busy lately with work and school that they hadn’t had the chance. Jimin had been excited about the idea so they’d picked a day.

 

That day was today. 

 

Yoongi had given him a recipe for dinner when he’d asked and now he was currently trying to make it. He was a decent cook but he’d never actually cooked for Jimin before, not like this, so he was nervous. He never would have thought of it actually, but watching Yoongi teach Taehyung how to cook and seeing how happy Taehyung had been with that and watching Yoongi eat what he’d made, Jungkook decided he wanted that too. There was just something so… domestic about it and Jungkook loved the idea. The added knowledge that Jimin was going to meet his parents soon and they’d just be that much more official made it even more domestic. He’d thought that would scare him but he found it didn’t so he figured he was making the right choice.

 

As long as he didn’t fuck it up and poison him anyway.

 

Jungkook was just about to start frying some vegetables when he heard the door open. Quickly shutting off the burner, Jungkook pulled the apron (not Yoongi’s, he would never) off and peaked out of the kitchen. He’d known it was Jimin right away so he’d intended to say something teasing but the second he saw his face, that thought fled.

 

“Hyung? Are you okay?” Jungkook asked, running towards him.

 

Jimin blinked and nodded. “Yea. I’m… fine. Just… not a good day.”

 

Worried at the way Jimin was dragging his words, Jungkook placed a comforting hand on Jimin’s bicep and squeezed. “Want to talk about it?”

 

“I—” Jimin broke off, his head already shaking no. “Yes. God, yes. I need— Can you just hug me for a bit?”

 

Before Jimin was even done speaking, Jungkook had Jimin wrapped tightly in his arms, his nose rubbing on the top of his head. Jimin’s arms hung limply by his side then they snapped up and grabbed Jungkook with bone-crushing intensity. He felt Jimin’s chest rise and fall sharply and his breath stutter. Jungkook wasn’t sure what happened but the thoughts of dinner and a date night that had filled his mind before were long gone; his only concern now was Jimin.

 

“Hyung, can you tell me?”

 

“I-I— Minhyuk showed up.”

 

“WHAT?” Jungkook snapped, stopping himself from pulling away since he knew Jimin needed him to keep holding on right now.

 

“He didn't see hyung but he— our boss had a meeting with him and I guess he said a bunch of nasty things so hyung is going to go deal with it. He’s with Jin-hyung now. Or was. I don’t know. But he’s going to get him to stop.”

 

“Finally,” Jungkook whispered, his body relaxed. “But why does that make you upset? What else happened?”

 

Jimin’s hands flexed where they were twined in Jungkook’s shirt. “Hyung told me something. Us something. Namjoon-hyung and Hoseok-hyung were there too.”

 

“Okay…”

 

“He said— that he— Jungkook,” Jimin gasped out, pressed his face into Jungkook’s chest.

 

“It’s okay, hyung,” Jungkook soothed.

 

“It’s not. He said— he tried to die, Kook.” Immediately tensing, Jungkook closed his eyes and exhaled. Jimin continued to shake in his arms then suddenly he was tensing too and pulling away. “Why aren’t you saying anything?”

 

Jungkook licked his lips. “Hyung…”


Jimin recoiled. “You knew?

 

“I… suspected,” Jungkook corrected, shifting his eyes away. “There was a scar. On his arm. I saw it when he’d bandaged it up. It didn’t… I just thought maybe that’s what it was but he never mentioned it and I never asked. It’s not my business nor my place.”

 

“How could I have not known?” Jimin hissed, running his hands through his hair. “Every time I think we’re past this, that we’re moving into a place that’s more stable, something else comes out!”

 

“But we are in a good place,” Jungkook reminded him. “You just know more about the bad place now. That doesn’t change where we are.”

 

Jimin glanced at him. “I know but— Kook, I was here doing whatever fucking stupid thing and he was— god.”

 

Jungkook nodded. “I get that… but this is about him, right? He’s doing better: getting therapy, doing well in his job, finally getting help to stop Minhyuk. If he wants to move on from that, then we shouldn’t linger on it for him.”

 

Wincing, Jimin sighed. “I guess I was being a bit selfish. Only thinking about how it made me feel…”

 

“No, hyung, that’s not what I’m saying. You can be upset about something like that. I was, when I first saw the scar, am now, honestly. But… I just think fixating on something he doesn’t want or need to talk about isn’t really helpful.”

 

“How’d you get so smart?” Jimin asked, stepping back into Jungkook’s arms and resting his head back on his chest. 

 

“I might have been doing some reading. Or a lot. Namjoon-hyung sent me some of the stuff he was reading to help hyung so I just thought… you know… why not?”

 

Nuzzling Jungkook’s chest, Jimin sighed. “I don’t know how I got so lucky.”

 

“What?” Jungkook asked, his fingers mindlessly playing with Jimin’s hair.

 

“With you. To think I almost said no.”

 

“You did say no,” Jungkook muttered, smiling.

 

“Sure, but I didn’t keep saying no,” Jimin countered. “The point is: I love you and I’m glad I took that risk because you’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”

 

Pressing a kiss to the top of Jimin’s head, Jungkook felt his heart squeeze. “I was thinking the same thing.”

 

Jimin sighed again, pressing himself even closer to Jungkook’s chest. He’d been a mess since Yoongi left to go see Seokjin. He’d made Namjoon tell him everything he knew, which, admittedly, made him feel bad since it wasn’t Namjoon’s business to tell. But even knowing now that Yoongi was okay and in a better place, Jimin couldn’t help but wonder what he was doing at the same time. Was that when he and Taehyung were bickering and trying to outdo each other? Was it when Jungkook had first appeared and started following him around like a besotted puppy? Or was it when Jimin had come to see Yoongi and he’d noticed that the relationship wasn’t healthy but hadn’t said anything? Jimin didn’t know for sure and that uncertainty had distracted him for the rest of the day. 

 

But now he was here and Jungkook was so calm and rational. That wasn’t something Jimin usually associated with his boyfriend, he was generally more the emotions and intense reactions type, but it also didn’t surprise him. Since their initial introduction when Jungkook had scared Yoongi, he’d been doing his best to never overstep like that again. It was an interesting shift to watch, honestly. Seeing the man he loved go from someone who reacted strongly first then thought about it later, to one who thought through his actions and words before talking. It wasn’t a bad thing, and Jimin wasn’t upset about it, but it was interesting to see.

 

“Did you want to reschedule date night? We can just hang out and cuddle instead,” Jungkook suggested softly.

 

Jimin huffed, pressing his head into Jungkook’s gentle hand. “No, I want a date night and cuddles.”

 

“I can make that happen,” Jungkook agreed, placing a quick kiss on Jimin’s forehead. “But first I have to make dinner.”

 

“You’re cooking?” Jimin asked. He’d just assumed they’d order in.

 

Jungkook nodded firmly, his chest puffing out a little bit in pride. Jimin smiled, completely endeared with his boyfriend. “I am and it’ll be good. Hyung gave me a recipe.”

 

“I’m sure it’ll be amazing,” Jimin agreed, his expression soft. “Everything you do is.”

 

“Well, maybe lower your expectations a bit…” Jungkook hedged, looking a bit sheepish. “I’ve never done this before.”

 

“If anything that just heightens them. I’m excited to be your first,” Jimin teased, winking.

 

“Gross, hyung. Just… gross,” Jungkook sassed back, smiling at the shift in Jimin’s posture and tone. Jimin may have had a bad day, and Jungkook may be worried about Yoongi, but he was with Taehyung and they had a date night too. No shitty ex was going to ruin it. For either of them.

 


 

There were a great many things Taehyung didn’t expect as he walked out of his building into the slightly dark sky of December in Seoul, but first among them was Yoongi leaning against his car with a shy smile on his face.

 

“Yoongi?”

 

“Hi, Tae,” Yoongi greeted softly.

 

Taehyung smiled. “What are you doing here? I thought we were going home first?”

 

Yoongi nodded. “We were but Jungkook is cooking and Jimin went home early so I figured we could just skip that.”

 

“I’m not complaining,” Taehyung said with a shrug. “Gives them more time to defile each other and us more time to not be near it.”

 

Snorting, Yoongi pushed himself away from Taehyung's car. “Can’t say I’m not happy about that. I know we can’t hear them but I just know and feel like we’re in the way, you know?”

 

“Now imagine that but for the past year and it’s just me,” Taehyung joked, turning the car on quickly and cranking the heat. Yoongi slipped into the passenger side and put his bag by his feet. With a sigh, he leaned back into the seat and turned his head towards Taehyung, a small smile on his lips. Taehyung returned it a bit confusedly. “What?”

 

“Nothing. Lots of stuff happened today but I feel… lighter, I guess. Plus I wanted to see you,” Yoongi admitted with a shrug. Before Taehyung could comment and ask what had happened, Yoongi continued. “So, where are you taking me, huh? I figure my first date since coming here has to be spectacular.”

 

Sputtering, Taehyung’s eyes turned wide as saucers. “D-date?”

 

Yoongi hummed, his eyes slipping closed. “This is a date night, isn’t it? That’s what Jimin and Jungkook were doing. Aren’t we doing the same?”

 

“Right, of course,” Taehyung agreed, mentally berating himself. You did not get that excited when he said that! We talked about this. No romantic feelings exchange. Yoongi is fragile and healing, back your dumb, horny, overly in love ass off and calm the fuck down. “Well, you’re in luck. I have something amazing planned. We will, however, have to stop at a store first because I really did need to go home first.”

 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Yoongi immediately winced. “Jungkook asked if we could go earlier and I just agreed.”


Taehyung noticed two things rapidly: one, Yoongi was apologizing and that made him feel bad; and two, Yoongi was apologizing and it was completely casual and not at all causing a change in his mood or demeanour. Yoongi was just simply apologizing and that was it. He had made a mistake, an innocent one, and he wasn’t worried he’d get punished for it. The bad feeling drifted away to one of happiness as Taehyung was once again faced with how far Yoongi had come. He forgot sometimes and then Yoongi would do or say something and Taehyung would be smacked with a sense of pride and happiness for his friend all over again.

 

“It’s good. Gives me an excuse to buy you something cute,” Taehyung said once he’d collected his thoughts again. “And I can already hear you protesting in your mind. Too bad. Get over it. My date plan, my money. Suck it up.”

 

Yoongi huffed and pouted a little. “Fine.”

 

“I love it when it’s easy,” Taehyung commented, pulling on his seatbelt as he adjusted his mirror. “Let’s go!”

 

Sometime later, Taehyung slipped on a long white coat that went to his knees and stretched out his arms to test the length of the sleeves. Finding that it was good enough, he nodded to himself and shrugged it off. Throwing the coat over his arm, Taehyung grabbed a red hat then snatched a black and grey one as well. Taehyung glanced around, only moving again when he spotted the top of Yoongi’s head behind one of the taller racks. 

 

When he rounded the rack and Yoongi came into sight, the older man looked up at him, his cheeks puffed up as his lips pressed into a line, and raised his shoulders. “I like this one.”

 

“It is nice,” Taehyung agreed, holding back a very strong urge to coo. It wasn’t that the coat was particularly cute; it was just that Yoongi looked cute all bundled up. So Taehyung stepped forward and slipped the hat on his head and smiled. “Now it’s perfect.”

 

Yoongi’s hands went up to adjust the hat, his eyes narrowed. “I still want to know why we need coats other than the ones we have now. Mine is warm. Yours looks warm too.”

 

“It is,” Taehyung agreed, grabbing Yoongi’s hand and dragging him toward the cash register, “but we need something different.”

 

“But why?”

 

“You’ll see,” Taehyung said with a teasing look over his shoulder that made Yoongi duck his head without really knowing why. He’d just have to trust Taehyung and his surprise. 

 


 

Surprise, as it turned out, was an understatement. Yoongi stood just outside Taehyung’s car at the bottom of a large hill covered in white, his eyes wide and confused. “We’re… skiing?”

 

“Nope,” Taehyung denied, shaking his head. “We’re sledding.”

 

“Sledding,” Yoongi repeated, still mostly shocked. Suddenly he understood the jacket and hat.

 

“Yup. Which is why you’ll need these too,” Taehyung said, grabbing Yoongi’s hands so he could slide some mittens on. When he was done, he nodded in satisfaction and pulled on his own pair. 

 

They were matching. 

 

“I’ve never been sledding,” Yoongi murmured. “I don’t think anyway.”

 

“What? Really? Well, you will no longer miss out,” Taehyung declared, once again grabbing Yoongi’s hand and pulling him towards the side of the slope. There were long plastic things in Taehyung’s hand now, which Yoongi assumed were the sleds. They must have been in his car. Yoongi wondered how he could have possibly missed that but was forced to let the thought go as Taehyung stepped onto something that looked like a converter belt. Stumbling forward, Yoongi jumped on before, his hands squeezing Taehyung’s in a mild panic as he swayed. “You good, Yoongi?”

 

“Yea, I’m fine,” Yoongi replied quickly, blushing.

 

Only smiling in response, Taehyung turned his gaze to the top of the hill. A few other people were sliding down here or there but it was largely empty which Taehyung was grateful for. Nothing worse than fighting for a spot on every time you wanted to slide down. 

 

Once they reached the top, Taehyung stepped off and glanced back just in time to watch Yoongi hop down, his mouth turned down in a focused pout. He smiled at the image, a sad, longing pull echoing in his chest. “Black or purple?”

 

Yoongi looked between the two sleds, his eyes narrowed. “Black.”

 

“Good, purple’s my favourite.”

 

“I know,” Yoongi admitted, taking the offered sled.

 

Taehyung blinked. “You did?”

 

“Mhm,” Yoongi agreed casually, his attention now focused on pulling the little strings into place. He was struggling since he only had one hand and it was at that moment that Taehyung realized he hadn’t let go the entire time. Moving hastily but trying not to give the impression he was recoiling, Taehyung let go of Yoongi’s hand, who smiled quickly before using his now free hand to finish the adjustments. “Okay! I wanna go!”

 

“Lead the way,” Taehyung said as he swept his hand out. Yoongi nodded and began to walk towards the middle of the hill. The snow was deeper there so he struggled a bit, his steps turning more into waddles as he tried to move forward quickly. It was cute.

 

Dude, you need to take like a million steps back.

 

Not noticing Taehyung's attention nor his internal conflict, Yoongi put the sled down and wrapped his hand in the cord. Narrowing his eyes, Yoongi stepped onto the sled, only for it to fling itself out from under his feet. He hit the ground with a pained groan before dissolving into laughter.

 

“Yoongi! Are you okay?” Taehyung rushed out, appearing just above Yoongi, who was still laughing at himself. “I should have warned you not to put any slanted pressure on the sled. Only ever step straight down.”

 

Still laughing, Yoongi nodded. “Makes total sense. Logical.”

 

Taehyung snorted. “And yet.”

 

“And yet my ass hurts, yes.” Yoongi agreed, pushing himself up. “Now let’s try this again.”

 

With a little maneuvering, Yoongi managed to get himself situated on the sled. When he was done, he beamed up at Taehyung who returned his smile. “Ready? I’ll push.”

 

“Yes. Okay. Let’s go!” Yoongi ordered, gesturing down the hill and wiggling forward. Taehyung laughed then pushed him gently, sending Yoongi flying. His loud, high-pitched squeal could be heard most of the way down. Taehyung had intended to follow quickly after but he ended up just standing there watching him go down. When he got to the bottom, he rolled off, snow flying everywhere, then popped up and waved both hands widely. Taehyung waved back, still smiling. 

 

This was definitely a bad idea. He was basically on a date with Yoongi that the other man wasn’t aware of. He was hurting himself, in a way. But that was the bed he’d made so he was just going to live with it. He wouldn’t give up the loud laughter or bright smiles he’d earned tonight. Nor the quick breaths as he ran towards Taehyung when he got to the top. And especially not the mildly aggressive hug he got when Yoongi ran into him bodily and wrapped his arms around him, trapping his arms by his side.

 

“This is amazing, Tae. Thank you so much. I’ve never had so much fun!”

 

“I’m so glad, Yoongi.”

 

No, he wouldn’t give this up for anything. 

Chapter Text

Flushed and honestly a bit sweaty from all the layers he was currently wearing, Yoongi stumbled into Jungkook’s apartment, his eyes quickly scanning the area. It was as he’d expected given how Jungkook talked about it and what he remembered from his own time in student housing, but at least it was warm. Which did surprise him considering no one had been living here recently. 

 

Taehyung must have seen his confusion because he explained. “I came by this morning to drop off some stuff and turn on the heat.”

 

“Oh,” Yoongi said as he shrugged off the coat and shoved the hat and mitten inside the sleeve so he wouldn’t lose them, “that was a good idea. I didn’t even think of that.”

 

“Which means,” Taehyung said, his eyebrows wiggling, “I have hot chocolate.”

 

Yoongi snorted. “Of course. A perfect ending to a night spent rolling around in the snow.”

 

“I thought so,” Taehyung agreed before disappearing into the kitchen. “Do you want marshmallows?”

 

“Is that even a question?” Yoongi replied, hearing Taehyung laugh rather than respond. Yoongi smiled a bit and made himself comfortable on Jungkook’s couch. He’d had a really good time. More than he’d expected, honestly. When he’d offered to give Jimin and Jungkook privacy, he hadn’t really considered the fact that he and Taehyung would have to find something to do and a place to stay. Taehyung easily could have gone out with friends or crashed somewhere else, so Yoongi was thankful he’d decided to spend the night with him. 

 

It made him feel… normal

 

There was nothing about that night that hinted at his previous life or his issues. Nothing that highlighted Taehyung’s either. Instead, they’d both just spent too many hours sliding down a snow-covered hill, laughing and yelling, and throwing snow at each other. It had just been fun and easy and Yoongi couldn’t really remember ever spending an evening like that. Not since he was a kid anyway. 

 

But Taehyung had given him that.

 

Yoongi had begun to notice that he almost always felt good when he was with Taehyung. And when he didn’t, it wasn’t Taehyung’s fault. Generally, he just happened to be the one comforting him during that time. He found that he gravitated towards Taehyung without even realizing it. His therapist had mentioned in passing that Taehyung featured in most of his stories and Yoongi hadn’t really thought anything of it. But watching as Taehyung joined him on the couch, two mugs of hot chocolate in his hand and little marshmallows floating on top, he was certainly noticing it now.

 

“You know,” Yoongi said slowly, taking the mug, “I had a pretty bad day. The type of day that even a few weeks ago would have left me hiding in my room, but I didn’t think about that once tonight. I had a really good time, Tae. Thank you for spending time with me.”

 

Taehyung tilted his head. “I’m glad you had fun… but are you okay? Do you want to tell me what happened?”

 

Yoongi hummed, sipping his hot chocolate as he considered his options. Everyone knew but Taehyung and Jungkook, and Yoongi was sure Jimin had told Jungkook by now. So he figured Taehyung had a right to know. Plus, Yoongi wanted him to know. “I met my boss today. The CEO.”

 

“Oh?” Taehyung said tentatively.

 

“Yea. He wanted to meet me because…” Yoongi trailed off, then frowned, “because Minhyuk came to see him.”

 

Taehyung fingers flexed on his mug but otherwise, he maintained an impassive face. “I see.”

 

Not fooled by his attempt to not react, Yoongi glanced over quickly. “He said some stuff to him. About my medical history. My mental health specifically. He told him—”

 

“Yoongi, you don’t have to tell me,” Taehyung interrupted.

 

“It’s fine. I… want you to know,” Yoongi admitted softly.

 

“Okay,” Taehyung agreed.

 

Yoongi smiled briefly, then sighed. “There was a time… right when things got really bad. Hyung was gone and I didn't really have anyone so I decided maybe it would be best if I wasn’t… around anymore.”

 

Taehyung let out a long breath and put his mug down. Without a word, he grabbed Yoongi’s hand and squeezed. “I’m glad you’re here.”

 

“Me too,” Yoongi agreed. “But he used that against me. Made it sound like I’d do it again and hurt others too. He wanted the CEO to fire me or have me moved to Daegu where I could be supervised by Minhyuk.”

 

“Bastard.”

 

“More polite than I was. But the CEO told me he didn’t care about my past and suggested I do something to protect my future. So I— well, I went to Jin-hyung. He’s going to handle it.”

 

Taehyung smiled. “Yea?”

 

“Yea. I just want to move forward. If this is what he’ll do to ruin my career again, I can only imagine what he’ll do when I start dating again. And I want to do that. I want to improve and maybe— maybe make my own music again. I can’t… yet. That still scares me but maybe one day? And I want to find someone. My person, just like you said. I can’t do that with Minhyuk lingering like a nasty stain. So, I asked Jin-hyung to make him go away.”

 

Moving his hand so he could cup Yoongi’s face, Taehyung smiled softly. “I’m so proud of you, Yoongi. You’ve come so far. You’re amazing.”

 

“I don’t know about that…” Yoongi denied, blushing slightly.

 

“You are and nothing you say will convince me otherwise. Are you going to help Jin-hyung?”

 

Careful not to move his face away from Taehyung’s hand, Yoongi shook his head. “No, I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction. I don’t care what he’s doing or how he is. He doesn’t deserve to see me again.”

 

“Like I said,” Taehyung murmured, “amazing.”

 

Ducking his head, Yoongi scratched his nose, his eyes flicking to Taehyung’s face and back down to the mug he still held. “Either way, that part of my life will be officially closed soon and then I get to start a new one… you’ll be there, right?”

 

“Just try and get rid of me,” Taehyung answered honestly, his eyes soft.

 

“Like I would.”

 


 

Vaguely hearing knocking at the front door, Jungkook groaned loudly and tried to roll away from the sound, which only resulted in him accidentally tossing Jimin from his chest.

 

“Ugh, Kookkkkkkk,” Jimin whined, blinking open his eyes with a frown. “If you wanted me off, you coulda just said.”

 

Jungkook snorted and rolled so he could throw his arm over Jimin’s chest and bury his face in the pillow again. “Didn’t. Doorbell.”

 

“Doorbell?” Jimin repeated, tilting his head to listen. Hearing the knocking just as Jungkook had, he pushed Jungkook off him. “Go answer it.”

 

“I don’t wanna.”

 

“Too bad. You heard it first,” Jimin pointed out.

 

“Ughhhh,” Jungkook protested even as he obeyed. He paused only as long as it took for him to pull on some boxers and stumbled towards the door. They’d had, well, a night. Since they were home alone for once, maybe they’d gone a bit nuts. Jungkook wasn’t sure what he looked like but he was mostly sure it wasn’t presentable. But given it was only nine in the morning, he figured it was fine. At least until he opened the door to find a beautiful middle-aged woman with large, round eyes at the door. “MOM!??

 

Maeng Mihi scanned her son from head to toe, noting, despite the fact she very much didn’t want to, that he was sporting one too many hickeys along his neck and chest and his hair was a mess. “Jungkook. Is that how you open the door?”

 

Jungkook jumped back, looking down at himself in horror. “No, I—”

 

“Jungkookie?” Jimin called, appearing around the corner with a sleepy frown as he rubbed his eye in nothing but boxers as well. “Who is it?”

 

“Ah, you must be Jimin.”

 

There was a moment where Jimin just froze, then he let out a sound that could only be described as a shriek and ran around the corner. “I’M SO SORRY!”

 

Mihi snorted, her eyes returning to her son fondly. “I like him.”

 

“Oh my god, mom,” Jungkook whined. “You were supposed to tell me!”

 

“Yes, I know but your father couldn’t get time off so close to Christmas so I just decided to come up for the day! I said I wanted to meet everyone and I will.”

 

Jungkook closed his eyes. “I mean, thank you but still.”

 

Tutting, Mihi pushed her son into the apartment bodily. “Go get dressed and comfort that poor boy. I’ll be here making breakfast then we can meet properly while it doesn’t look like you’ve been defiled.”

 

Mom!

 

“Shoo, shoo,” Mihi insisted, pushing her son away again before scanning the apartment briefly in search of the kitchen. Finding what she assumed was the entrance, Mihi made her way for it. Once inside, she noticed several things very quickly but only one thing stood out. It felt like home. Which shouldn’t surprise her, but somehow did. The kitchen just felt loved, like it was well used. Given what she knew about Jungkook’s newest hyung, that made sense. She’d assumed the kitchen was his sanctuary. But it wasn’t just him there. Mihi could see little things that showed her the others were comfortable too. There was banana milk stored in the corner, clearly something purchased for or by Jungkook, a corkboard filled with polaroid pictures of Jungkook, Jimin, Taehyung, and who Mihi assumed was Yoongi, and just to the side of that, a small book called Cooking for Beginners. Like she said, home.

 

Smiling to herself, Mihi began rummaging through the fridge and grabbing the makings of a simple breakfast while she waited for Jungkook and Jimin to return. She was already done by the time Jimin reappeared, his expression hesitant.

 

“I’m sorry for coming out dressed like that,” Jimin whispered, still mortified that Jungkook’s mom’s first introduction to him was while was in his boxers and all marked up from have sex with her son

 

“Oh, don’t worry. I’ve seen worse,” Mihi assured, enjoying the way Jimin blushed a bit too much.

 

“Stop teasing him, mom,” Jungkook protested from just behind him. 

 

“Shall I tease you instead?”

 

“Jimin-hyung likes being teased,” Jungkook replied quickly.

 

“YAH!” Jimin snapped immediately, looking betrayed.

 

“Love youuuuuuuuu,” Jungkook giggled, darting away so he could hug his mom. “And it is good to see you mom. I missed you.”

 

Though her eyes were laughing, Mihi nodded and hugged her son back. “I missed you too, bun. I’m sorry to just appear but I really wanted to come as soon as possible after our talk.”

 

“It’s okay. Yoongi-hyung and Taehyung-hyung aren’t here though. They’re at my old apartment.”

 

“That’s okay. Gives me time to talk with Jimin,” Mihi said with a smile, only to snort at Jimin’s wide, slightly scared eyes. “It’ll be okay, dear.”

 

“Y-yea,” Jimin agreed, doing his best to appear calm even as he was panicking. 

 

“Now, enough of that, eat, eat,” Mihi ordered, waving them both to the table before setting the dishes she’d made out. “I made enough for the other two boys as well, but I’m sure Jungkook will have no problem finishing it alone.”

 

“You bet,” Jungkook agreed, already grabbing some eggs for himself. Mihi laughed at her son’s behaviour, comforted that some things didn’t change, and took a seat. Just beside her, Jimin sat with a small smile on his face, also watching Jungkook. Once he was done filling his plate, Jimin began preparing his. Mihi smiled at that, pleased that Jimin appeared to be so considerate. She’d already concluded that he was based on what Jungkook had said of him, but it was nice to see in person. 

 

The rest of breakfast went by quickly and easily, Jimin relaxing once he realized Mihi wasn’t going to interrogate him. At least not yet. She was too busy observing. Over the years, she’d learned to recognize habits and attitudes quite quickly, so she generally spent a great deal of time watching the way people interacted with each other. She’d already noted the way Jimin let Jungkook eat first, but there was more. Things like the way they talked to one another or how they were constantly glancing over, just to check in even if neither said anything. If she’d had any doubt that Jimin loved her son, she didn’t by the end of breakfast. 

 

So, when Jungkook excused himself to shower and Jimin busied himself doing the dishes, Mihi remained at the table, sipping tea. “I’m glad he met someone like you.”

 

“Excuse me?” Jimin asked, turning around slowly.

 

“Jungkookie is a good boy. Smart, funny, caring. Some people would take advantage of that,” Mihi explained, “so I’m glad he met someone who loves him genuinely.”

 

Jimin blinked. “Um, thanks?”

 

“It’s more of an observation than a compliment but you’re welcome,” Mihi said before putting her mug down and shifting to face Jimin directly. “I’d like to confess something.”

 

“Okay?”

 

“I did miss Jungkookie, but he’s coming home soon and I could have waited. The reason I rushed here was because of you and the other boys.”

 

Furrowing his brows, Jimin tilted his head. Jungkook had known him and Taehyung for over a year and she’d never— Jimin felt his expression shutter. “You mean Yoongi-hyung.”

 

Seeing the abrupt change in Jimin’s demeanour, Mihi raised a brow. “Partially, yes.”

 

“There’s nothing wrong with Yoongi-hyung. I won’t let you say there is,” Jimin rushed out, worried that Mihi would try and tell Jungkook that being around Yoongi was bad or dangerous. He didn’t care if he fucked up his first impression, there was no way he was letting that happen.

 

“I know that, Jimin. That’s not what I’m doing here,” Mihi assured, once again pleased that her initial impression of Jimin was correct. It took a lot of guts to stand up to the mother of your boyfriend for someone else and she respected it. “I’m here to thank you boys.”

 

“W-what?” Jimin stuttered out.

 

Mihi smiled. “You heard me. I wanted to start with you actually. I’ve already said some of it, but the other part has to do with the new boy: Yoongi. I know… some of what he’s dealing with and I know that must be incredibly hard on you mentally and emotionally. But you still take time to be with Jungkook and take care of him, so I wanted to thank you for that.”

 

“He takes care of me too,” Jimin whispered.

 

“I’m glad,” Mihi said sincerely. “Things like this are hard and you boys are dealing with it so well. I’m proud of all of you.”

 

Feeling pressure build in his chest and his face heat up, Jimin cleared his throat and turned back to the sink, his eyes blinking rapidly. He was not going to cry in front of Jungkook’s mom the first time they’d met just because she said she was proud of him. Pull it together. He was mostly sure he could’ve done it, but then he felt Mihi’s gentle hand on his back, just between his shoulder blades and he broke, a wet, soapy hand slapping to his face so he could cover his mouth.

 

Just behind him, Mihi sighed and rubbed his back. “You boys have been working too hard. It’s okay to break sometimes.”

 

Jimin nodded frantically but otherwise didn’t reply, instead just cried while Mihi comforted him. He wasn’t even really sure why he was crying. Maybe because he’d been trying to hold himself together for Yoongi for too long. Maybe, on a much simpler level, he’d missed having a mom around. Either way, it felt nice, even if he hated crying. 

 

“I really am going to adopt all of you,” Mihi muttered softly, making Jimin laugh abruptly.

 

“I think we’re all a little old for that,” Jimin pointed out, wiping his face quickly.

 

Mihi huffed. “No one is too old to have a new mom.”

 

“Maybe you’re right,” Jimin agreed softly.

 

Then, from a distance, Jungkook’s voice cut in, as if sensing what his mother was up to. “Oh my god, mom! Stop trying to adopt people!”

 


 

By the time Taehyung and Yoongi returned to the apartment late that afternoon, Jimin and Mihi had settled into a rhythm of sorts. And by rhythm, he meant sharing embarrassing stories of Jungkook while the younger boy screamed in protest. In fact, the first thing they heard when they stepped into the apartment was Jungkook screaming bloody murder.

 

Barely pausing to take off his shoes, Yoongi darted into the apartment. “Jungkook?!”

 

“HYUNG!” Jungkook yelled back, jumping up and launching himself at Yoongi. “TELL THEM TO STOP!”

 

Yoongi caught Jungkook, then frowned, seeing Jimin and an unknown woman on the couch. “Um, stop what?”

 

“Teasing me! It’s unfair!” Jungkook whined, blinking his eyes rapidly in an attempt to plead.

 

Just behind them, Taehyung snorted. “Wow. We thought you were dying.”

 

“I could be,” Jungkook continued to whine, pouting now.

 

“Right, well, I’ll get right to that if you, I don’t know, introduce us maybe?” Yoongi said, a teasing smile on his lips.

 

Jungkook pulled back, his eyes narrowed. “Not you too.”

 

“Awe, don’t be like that, Kookie.”

 

“Kookie?” The woman repeated. “I thought you hated that nickname.”

 

“Only Yoongi-hyung is allowed,” Jungkook explained, sighing heavily as he returned to his spot on the floor. “Yoongi-hyung, Taehyung-hyung, this is my mom. She showed up this morning to come to see us.”

 

“Oh, hello!” Yoongi greeted quickly with a bow. “We’d have been home sooner if we knew you were here.”

 

“Yes, someone didn’t tell us,” Taehyung said, throwing both Jimin and Jungkook a look. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

 

“Ah, don’t be so formal boys. It was a surprise so I don’t mind waiting around. Now, let me look at you!” Mihi declared, jumping up and running towards them. Yoongi found himself stepping back from the small woman. Not because he was scared but just because she was so happy to see him. Or appeared to be. Strangers didn’t greet him like that, so he stepped back with wide eyes, looking to Jimin for help, who simply snickered in a way that clearly said your turn

 

“Oh, aren’t you just the cutest!” Mihi praised, patting Yoongi’s cheek softly. “You’re the chef, right?”

 

“N-no, I cook, yes, but calling me a chef is a bit…” Yoongi denied.

 

“Yes, he is! He’s amazing!” Taehyung cut in, smiling down at Yoongi. 

 

“Taehyung-hyung’s right,” Jungkook agreed. “He’s a really good cook. Definitely chef level.”

 

Pursing his lips, Yoongi’s shoulders came up. “Um… thanks.”

 

“Awe, just the sweetest,” Mihi cooed. Then shifted her attention to Taehyung who had a smile on his face that she could only describe as dangerous. Mihi paused for a moment, realizing quite suddenly, that Taehyung was completely aware of what she was doing. Her intent on coming here was to make sure the people in Jungkook’s life received the praise they clearly weren’t getting elsewhere. It was a silly thing, but she’d wanted to do it and her husband had been nothing but encouraging. Jimin and Yoongi hadn’t noticed, but Taehyung seemed to. Quirking a brow, she returned his smile. “Oh, I like you too. A smart one.”

 

“So they say,” Taehyung agreed easily.

 

“What?” Yoongi asked, glancing between them quickly.

 

“He has to be smart to be friends with you and Jungkook, now doesn’t he?” Mihi dodged easily, shooting a glance at Taehyung, who laughed. Yes, he was totally aware and he was not shy about letting her know it. She decided she really did like that. Jungkook needed someone like that just as much as he needed the soft support Jimin and Yoongi offered. “Now, come come, tell me how Jungkookie’s been doing in Seoul! I want to hear everything.”

 

And just like that, Yoongi lost the rest of the afternoon. Before he was even really aware of the time passing, he noticed it was close to seven. Mihi was nothing if not a force to be reckoned with and she’d absorbed most of the day. It was interesting to see Jungkook interact with her actually. There was nothing introverted about her, meanwhile, Jungkook struggled with groups and crowds. It made Yoongi wonder what Jungkook’s dad was like. Appearance-wise, Jungkook took after his mom, but perhaps he was closer to his dad in personality. Either that or two extroverts had raised an introvert. It was possible. 

 

Not wanting to interrupt the story Jungkook was telling about the time he and Jimin had gone to Disneyland in Tokyo, Yoongi slipped out of the living room and into the kitchen, intent on making dinner for everyone. They’d ordered lunch already, so Yoongi wanted to make something homemade too. 

 

Sliding on his apron, Yoongi got to work preparing vegetables while he hummed quietly, his focus entirely on the task at hand. He was moving quickly, more than comfortable with the kitchen and where things were now that he’d lived there for months, but when he opened a cupboard and didn’t find the bowl he was looking for, he paused, a frown on his lips.

 

“I’m afraid I might have put that away in the wrong place,” Mihi said, stepping into the kitchen. “I made breakfast this morning. I apologize.”

 

“Oh, it’s no problem,” Yoongi assured, already opening different cupboards in search of the bowl in question.

 

Without a word, Mihi stepped by him and opened the correct door. When she handed the bowl over, her lip kicked up slightly. “I know how important it is for things to be in their place when returning to normal, I’m sorry for moving it.”

 

Yoongi’s hands froze on the bowl, his eyes snapping up to Mihi, who continued to look at him steadily. “I don’t understand.”

 

Mihi nodded before leaning against the counter and crossing her arms. She looked a lot like Jungkook like that and it threw Yoongi off for a second. “I hope you don’t mind, but Jungkook told me a bit about your situation.”

 

“No, that’s fine,” Yoongi assured as he returned his attention to cutting vegetables. He could feel Mihi’s eyes on him but he didn't know what to say, so he kept quiet.

 

Eventually, Mihi sighed. “I admit, you were the main reason I wanted to come to Seoul. When Jungkook told me what was going on, I needed to come to talk to you.”

 

Putting the knife down slowly, Yoongi kept his eyes averted. “You were worried?”

 

“Not in the way you think,” Mihi assured, vaguely pissed off that both Jimin and Yoongi seemed to think she’d think less of Yoongi for the situation he was in. “I was scared, of course, when Jungkook told me your ex still shows up but I don’t blame you for that.”

 

“He won’t show up anymore. I had it handled,” Yoongi cut in quickly, wanting to make sure Mihi knew her son was safe.

 

“I’m glad, but that’s not the point,” Mihi admitted, her attention wandering around the kitchen, once again lingering on the corkboard where she could see images of her son happy and surrounded by loving hyungs. “The point is that I wanted to talk to you.”

 

“Why?” Yoongi asked point-blank. “If you’re not worried, why?”

 

Mihi’s eyes slid back to Yoongi then away again. “When I was… god, probably about twenty-five, I met my first fiance. Not Jungkook’s father, you understand. The one before him.”

 

“Okay…”

 

“He was… is… not a good man. In fact, he’s terrible. But I was young and I loved him so I overlooked it. I overlooked a lot of things. Cheating and drinking first, then more. What I’m trying to say Yoongi, is that he was abusive. My parents died when I was young so I had no one and he knew that. I won’t get into the details because honestly I don’t want to but I almost didn’t get away. The only reason I did was because I had a miscarriage. I didn't even know I was pregnant, but he’d sent me to the hospital over a broken mug and I just— the idea of bringing a child into that...” Mihi trailed off, shaking her head with a small shudder. 

 

Yoongi reached out tentatively and laid a hand on Mihi’s bicep. “I’m so sorry.”

 

“Thank you, Yoongi. It was bad for a while but I got out, ran away. I’m from Seoul originally, but I went to Busan. It was as far as I could imagine. I was alone for years, but then I met Jungkook’s father,” Mihi paused again, this time her smile was soft, her eyes gentle. “And he was just… amazing. I was afraid at first but he was understanding. Waited. He knew everything long before we got together and there has never been a moment where I regret my choice in him. Jungkook doesn't know; he doesn’t need to.”

 

“If he doesn’t know, why tell me?” Yoongi wondered.

 

Mihi’s smile flashed quickly. “Because I wanted to tell you it gets better. Before you know it entire days will go by where you don’t even think of him. Then months. Then years. Eventually, you’ll find your new place, find people that love and care for you, maybe even the right person if you want. But only if you want, there’s no need for romance if you don’t want it. But even then, one day, something will happen, like say your son will call worried about his soft hyung and a terrible man who tried to hurt him, and you’ll remember that thing you haven’t even thought about for years happened but it won’t hurt you. It’ll just be a thing that happened.”

 

Yoongi’s eyebrows snapped together. “I… can’t wait for that. I just… can’t wait. My therapist said it’d happen too but I…”

 

“It helps to hear it from someone who went through the same thing,” Mihi admitted softly as she fixed some of Yoongi’s hair. “And that’s why I wanted to come. I wanted to meet Jimin and Taehyung and thank them for being good to Jungkook but even more than that, I wanted to tell you it gets better, Yoongi. I promise.”

 

“Thank you,” Yoongi whispered before hugging her tightly. He hadn’t really thought about it, just acted, but she returned the action anyway. She was tiny. Much smaller than her personality would make you think. Yoongi felt like he was completely surrounding her, but she didn’t seem to mind, so Yoongi simply hugged her tighter, a small smile on his lips. 

 

He hadn’t even realized he closed his eyes until he opened them and saw Taehyung leaning against the kitchen entrance, a soft smile on his lips, which only widened when they made eye contact.

 

You’ll find…  the right person if you want. 

 


 

Unaware of Mihi’s dramatic and distracting arrival in Seoul, Seokjin and Hoseok sat in a private town car on their way out of the city. Hoseok, who’d been forcefully dressed in a suit that didn’t match his tastes at all, tugged aggressively on the collar of his blazer and frowned at Seokjin. “I have about a million questions but all of them begin with: why the fuck am I here?”

 

“First of all, rude. Don’t swear at me, I’m your hyung.”

 

Sighing, Hoseok crossed his arms and leaned back into the seat of the car Seokjin had picked him up in. “Fine. Why am I here?”

 

“Because Yoongi didn’t want to come and you’re intimidating.”

 

“I am not intimidating,” Hoseok denied.

 

Seokjin snorted. “You know you are and I needed someone by my side that could be cold and scary while I throw around enough power to shake the foundations of a small company.”

 

“Okay, fine, as long as I don’t have to talk,” Hoseok relented. It wasn’t like he could dive out of the car anyway, they were already halfway to Daegu. “But that brings me to my next question. This all seems pretty fast for someone who wasn’t involved until now.”

 

“That’s not a question,” Seokjin pointed out, his eyes fixed on the file in front of him.

 

“Hyung.”

 

Snapping the folder closed, Seokjin scrunched his nose. “Perhaps I’ve been making plans to meet with Han and Sons for the past few weeks only to cancel them abruptly with vague reasons. And maybe I was just waiting for Yoongi to get sick of that asshole interfering so I could put my plan in place.”

 

“Hyung!”

 

“What?! Come on! I’m a rich, successful, business owner. I did not get here by waiting. You should be proud that I didn’t do anything until he said!” Seokjin defended.

 

“But you literally didn’t. You literally got his medical file and contacted his ex’s company!”

 

“Okay, yes, sure, but, in my defence, the medical file wasn’t on purpose even if it’s going to come in handy today and I never told them I knew him! I just contacted an architect about a project I was already considering doing. We’ve even worked together before. Nothing suspicious there.”

 

Hoseok shook his head. “Had the defence ready, did we?”

 

“Maybe,” Seokjin muttered. “But Yoongi didn’t ask. He just told me what he wanted and I promised to get it done. It just so happened that our goals were in alignment.”

 

“Typical,” Hoseok rolled his eyes. “Alright, fill me in on the plan.”

 

“Well, first…”

 


 

Han and Sons was a respectable, reasonably long-standing architecture firm. They didn’t do a lot of big-budget projects, but the elder Han and his two sons were all talented architects so Seokjin had never thought twice about working with them rather than bigger names when he needed things done in Daegu. 

 

The family patriarch had started the company with his wife’s family money and built it alone. The only thing that mattered more to him than his company was his children. His two sons and daughter were easily the light of his life. He wasn’t the type to miss events due to work. Family first. Always. Which was likely why his children had followed his lead without complaint. Though his daughter, Han Narae, had more of an eye for colour than technical drawing, so she’d created her own department within the company. Under her direction, Han and Sons now had a thriving interior design branch, making them a full-service company when needed. It was a great selling point and likely the reason the bulk of their contracts were for personal homes rather than commercial projects.

 

Which just happened to be perfect for Seokjin’s plan. 

 

“Ah, Han Chunghee-ssi, it’s been too long,” Seokjin greeted warmly. He really did like the man, it was too bad he employed an asshole. Who, as Seokjin had requested, was standing just behind the Han patriarch along with several other employees. 

 

“Seokjin-ssi,” Chunghee greeted just as easily. “I’m glad we could finally do this. I was growing quite concerned when you kept cancelling our meetings.”

 

Perfect.

 

Seokjin sighed dramatically. “Yes. I was concerned as well. I found out some… disturbing information and felt it was my duty to look into it before we moved forward. You understand, of course?”

 

“Of course,” Chunghee agreed, though his confusion showed on his face. “May I ask what made you so hesitant? We’ve worked together several times before.”

 

“Yes, we have. Why don’t we sit and I’ll show you my findings and then we can discuss my project in more detail.”

 

Chunghee nodded, his hand sweeping out in the direction of their conference room. Seokjin smiled lightly and followed his lead with Hoseok trailing behind. Since they’d arrived, Hoseok’s face had been a stoic mask. It really was intimidating. Seokjin had made the best choice in asking Hoseok to come. Namjoon was just too soft to scare people, the dimples gave him away every time, and Seokjin wasn’t completely sure Taehyung, Jimin, or Jungkook would have been able to stop themselves from attacking Minhyuk. Hoseok, Seokjin knew, had far more self-control than that. Even if his stare was seconds away from boring a hole in Minhyuk’s forehead.

 

Once Seokjin was settled in a chair with Hoseok by his side, Seokjin crossed his legs and leaned back, authority radiating off him in waves. This may not be his office or his city but he’d run it today. Chunghee seemed to notice because he sent quick glances to his sons, who tensed. 

 

“Ah, your employees can sit as well. They’re the leaders of your design teams, yes?” Seokjin asked, looking between Minhyuk and four other men.

 

“They are,” Chunghee confirmed.

 

“No women,” Seokjin commented.

 

“Ah… no.”

 

“Interesting,” Seokjin observed, watching as the five men sat down, all clearly uncomfortable with the tone Seokjin was taking with their boss. “Now, as you know I’ve been planning on building a new home for years idly. With how my business is going and with Namjoon’s steadily increasing popularity, I felt like now would be the best time to build something private for us both.”

 

“I agree,” Chunghee said quickly, relaxing now that he was on familiar ground. “Which is why I had the teams all create a design based on your instructions as well as the one I created myself. That way, you have ample choice. Once you’ve finalized a design, Narae would be more than happy to discuss the interior with you.”

 

“A lovely prospect,” Seokjin allowed, his lips frowning as he turned to Hoseok, who was staring straight ahead blankly. “That file, Hoseok?”

 

Without a word, Hoseok handed over the very file Seokjin had been reviewing for most of the car ride to Daegu. They’d decided this would be the most effective intimidation technique and as he saw everyone’s eyes fix on the file, he knew he’d made the right choice.

 

“What is that? An offer from another company?” Chunghee asked point-blank.

 

“No, I’d never do such a thing,” Seokjin denied, placing the file down on the table slowly. “When I looked into you years ago, Chunghee-ssi, I was told you were a good man who loved his family and took pride in his work. Is that true?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“Then, that raised the question that forced me to cancel appointment after appointment. I was confused, you see. How, I asked myself, could a man who valued family allow something so terrible to happen right under his nose?”

 

“I don’t— excuse me?” Chunghee managed, his expression shifting from confused to upset quickly.

 

“What are you accusing Father of?” His eldest son snapped angrily.

 

“Him? Nothing. One of his employees, however…” Seokjin said slowly as he flipped open the file. “Ah, here it is. Starting four years ago… let’s see… a broken wrist, broken ribs, a punctured lung… oh, a concussion that required stitches… extended hospital stay for a suicide attempt due to what the doctor on duty deemed personal trauma… hmm… what else… another broken rib… and—”

 

“What are you talking about!?” Chunghee interrupted, slamming his hand down on the table. “Are you accusing me of harming someone?!”

 

“No, of course not,” Seokjin said simply, his eyes finally shifting to Minhyuk, who’d tensed the moment Seokjin began listing injuries. He may not remember all the details but he wasn’t stupid. “This is the medical file of Min Yoongi. I’m sure you know him?”

 

“Yoongi?” A man interrupted, turning towards Minhyuk. “What is he talking about?”

 

“I don’t know,” Minhyuk denied quickly. “You know how Yoongi is. He’s dramatic.”

 

“Dramatic,” Seokjin murmured. “I’m not simply telling a tale I heard elsewhere, Gwon Minhyuk, I am stating facts. If you don’t believe me, read it yourself.”

 

Tossing the file across the table, Seokjin watched as Chunghee snatched it up and read quickly. Though he hadn’t asked for the medical parts of the file, Seokjin admitted they were compelling now. The doctors had taken pictures and Yoongi’s face was clear in a few. As were the doctor’s notes that clearly indicated they believed it was abuse but couldn’t do anything as Yoongi appeared too scared to ask for help. The investigator had also looked into complaints from neighbours and acquaintances about the couple, specifically Minhyuk and his temper. There was a particularly heartbreaking section dedicated to Yoongi’s parents that Seokjin would rather not think about but knew Chunghee would react strongly to. He was a dedicated father after all. 

 

Seokjin remained where he was, his eyes fixed on Minhyuk, who looked like he was struggling to maintain his composure. There was nothing like watching a man used to controlling every aspect of his life lose control of everything. It was even better when that man was image-obsessed and he had to sit back and watch that image crumble. Who couldn’t say anything lest he destroy that carefully crafted image himself.

 

What Seokjin hadn’t counted on, however, was one of the team leaders diving over the table at Minhyuk. That had caught him off guard. One second he’d been watching Minhyuk and then a hand was grabbing his shirt and yanking Minhyuk up. 

 

“What did you do to him!? Is he actually with his brother?! Oh my god! Minhyuk what the fuck!?” The man snapped. “Chunghee-nim, he told me Yoongi was out of town visiting his sick brother for months but he hasn’t been talking to him!”

 

“He’s not visiting his brother,” Chunghee corrected, his eyes still fixed on the file. “It appears he ran away several months ago and Minhyuk here has been spotted in the area following him around. There’s a report from a high school girl here saying she had to interfere when Minhyuk tried to drag Yoongi away somewhere while he begged to be let go.”

 

“I did not. Yoongi is simply being rebellious right now but he’ll return to his place, he always does,” Minhyuk finally cut in, his temper leaking through.

 

And that, motherfucker, is checkmate.

 

“Minhyuk! Did you really do those things!?” The man asked.

 

“Get your hands off me, Chinmae,” Minhyuk snapped, smacking his hands away. “What I do in the privacy of my own home is none of your business. Nor is how I punish misbehaviour.”

 

“Misbehaviour, holy fuck. He was in my home. He’s friends with my wife! Why didn’t he— sir!” Chinmae said, spinning towards his boss, who’d yet to look up from the file. “You’ve met Yoongi! He’s so nice!”

 

“Talented too. He helped Narae pick out a new lighting figure,” Chunghee answered almost idly as he slid the still open folder towards his youngest son and turned his attention to Seokjin. “I must thank you for bringing this to my attention.”

 

“As I’m sure you can gather, there is no way I can in good conscience hire a company where such a man works to build my home,” Seokjin said, widening his hands apologetically. 

 

“I understand completely,” Chunghee agreed. “And that won’t be a problem any longer.”

 

“Sir—” Minhyuk tried but Hoseok cut him off, speaking for the first time since he’d arrived.

 

“So he’s fired?” 

 

Chunghee blinked. “Effective immediately.”

 

“Perfect,” Hoseok said calmly as he stood up and tugged on his sleeves until they were properly situated. Seokjin looked up in interest, unsure what Hoseok was doing, only to watch as Hoseok took two steps forward and punched Minhyuk square in the face. As one would expect of someone who was used to giving out punches rather than receiving them, Minhyuk dropped to the ground, his hand cupping his split lip. Hoseok followed him down and squatted there, watching him impassively. “Yoongi-hyung is a good man who only wants to help people and make them happy. You’re lucky I didn’t have my friend here drop you into the ocean from his jet.”

 

“Ah, Hoseok, who knew you could throw a punch,” Seokjin observed.

 

“You know Yoongi personally?” Chunghee asked, obviously drawing a connection between Hoseok’s anger and his threat.

 

“I recently came into his circle, yes. He got a job at Namjoon’s studio. Imagine my surprise when I was told that a certain architect had shown up spreading lies. I became aware of the situation then and knew I had some thinking to do about my involvement with this company.”

 

“That’s a lie!” Minhyuk interrupted, realizing the timeline didn’t match. “I only went to his company a few days ago. You’ve been cancelling appointments for weeks!”

 

Seokjin blinked. “Is that right?”

 

“Manshik,” Chunghee said calmly, addressing his eldest son, who’d looked nothing but angry since the meeting started, “please escort Minhyuk off the premises and confiscate his ID card.”

 

“Done,” Manshik answered quickly. Seokjin could tell by the tension in his shoulders he expected Minhyuk to fight, but he didn’t. He just let Manshik pull him out of the office, his eyes never once leaving Seokjin’s face.

 

Chunghee waited until the door closed then sighed, his fingers pressing into his eyes. “I can’t— as I’m sure you’re aware, I consider my employees my family. And not the manipulative bullshit way, but actually. That includes their families as well. Yoongi… he is a nice boy. I always thought he was a bit too soft-spoken actually, which I suppose wasn’t his fault…”

 

“No, not from what I understand of the situation.”

 

Nodding slowly, Chunghee grimaced. He’d taken this harder than Seokjin had expected. He looked like he’d aged twenty years while reading that file. Having read it himself, Seokjin understood. He’d only given the highlights at the beginning. There was much, much more and Chunghee had seen it all. “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. If you’d excuse me.”

 

Seokjin pushed himself up as Chunghee left, his son close behind. The rest of the team leaders shuffled awkwardly, unsure what to do, before following too, leaving only Seokjin, Hoseok, and the man who’d accosted Minhyuk, Chinmae. 

 

“Are you going to see him? Yoongi?” Chinmae asked quietly.

 

“Soon, yes,” Seokjin answered honestly.

 

“Can… can you tell him I’m sorry? For not… noticing? I wasn’t really nice to him. I thought— it doesn’t matter. Can you tell him that?”

 

Though he wasn’t sure Yoongi needed an apology from a man who’d clearly been friends with his abuser, Seokjin nodded anyway. That wasn’t his choice to make. “I’ll tell him.”

 

“Thanks,” Chinmae said seriously before leaving as well. 

 

Inclining his head towards the door, Seokjin directed Hoseok to follow him out. They made it through the company quickly but neither missed the whispers spreading. Seokjin had asked for all the team leaders specifically, knowing that was the best way for the news to spread. Now all he had to do was call every single one of his contacts and have Minhyuk blackballed and he’d be finished. Seokjin had no doubt Chunghee would be doing much the same soon. 

 

If you want to succeed in the field of architecture and building, there is one rule: don’t piss off people with more connections than you. And Minhyuk, well, the second he’d laid a hand on Yoongi, he’d done just that.

 

In Korea at least, Minhyuk was finished. 

 

Just as Yoongi had asked. 

 

Seokjin couldn’t help but smile as he slid into the car, Hoseok following behind.

 

“Good fucking riddance.” 

Chapter Text

Almost as quickly as she came, Mihi was gone, taking Jungkook and her bright, motherly atmosphere with her. It was odd, Yoongi realized, how empty the apartment felt without them. Both of them. Mihi had only been in town for a day, but she’d filled the apartment to the brim with loud laughter and soft, motherly affection. Yoongi’d never really experienced something like that before. His own mother, even before everything, had never been overly affectionate publicly. Not that she didn’t care, Yoongi was sure she did, but she was so concerned with how people would perceive her that she made sure to exude a motherly aura rather than actually having one. Which was the opposite of Mihi. She didn’t seem to care what anyone thought. Even when they’d left the apartment, her attitude hadn’t changed. It was nice.

 

And then Jungkook had left as well. He hadn’t planned on it, but since his mom had driven to Seoul, it made sense for him to go back with her rather than take a bus alone a few days later. It had been quiet since then. Which was weird considering the fact that Jungkook wasn’t particularly loud. It was just that his absence was felt. One less person for movie night or dinner. Realizing that had been a bit jarring for Yoongi. It wasn’t like Jungkook had always lived with them, he still had his own apartment even if he’d technically moved in, but Yoongi had just accepted him into the apartment as if he’d always been there. 

 

Once, he’d been afraid of change, frozen by it. Once, his schedule and routine had been the only thing that’d kept him sane. And yet, Jungkook had moved in and Yoongi hadn’t even noticed a difference. He supposed he may have been thrown off at first, but he couldn’t even remember that now, even though it really wasn’t that long ago. It was scary how fast and drastically his life was changing, honestly. But he wasn’t afraid.

 

In fact, the only thing that currently worried him was Taehyung. 

 

It wasn’t that he was acting weird or anything, in fact, he was the same as usual. But Yoongi had caught him leaving the balcony looking a bit upset after talking with Mihi and given how his own conversation with the woman had gone, he was concerned. They didn’t have time to talk about it with Christmas barrelling forward and Yoongi splitting his time between therapy, his job, and spending time with the suddenly lonely Jimin, so Yoongi was left worrying about it. 

 

Yoongi didn’t forget though. He just waited for the perfect moment, which came in the form of a shopping trip a few days before Christmas. It was busy and loud, with panicked people running here and there, but Yoongi found himself comfortable as long as he stuck close to Taehyung. Plus, he was enjoying the atmosphere. There was just something about the air around Christmas that made him happy. And, he admitted to himself, it was one of the few times he’d been happy with Minhyuk. Christmas was the only time he had been allowed to decorate the apartment himself so even in a sea of bad, Christmas was a bright spot of sorts. 

 

But that wasn’t going to stop Yoongi from asking Taehyung about his conversation with Mihi. So as they wandered around a clothing store in search of gifts for Jimin, Yoongi’s eyes continuously darted to and away from Taehyung. 

 

He was not subtle.

 

“Yoongi, is there something on your mind?”

 

Freezing with his hand on a hanger, Yoongi scrunched his nose. “I was too obvious, huh?”

 

Taehyung smiled and leaned over the rack. “Yes. Though you usually show your emotions quite clearly anyway.”

 

“You’re the first person to tell me that,” Yoongi murmured, frowning slightly. He was often told he looked cold or impassive, even before he’d been forced to hide his reactions to things. Having Taehyung tell him the opposite threw him off. Shaking his head abruptly, Yoongi refocused. This wasn’t about him. It was about Taehyung. “But yes, I wanted to ask… um, are you okay?”

 

“Okay?” Taehyung repeated, confused. “Of course.”

 

“Right. I just— well, you looked a bit upset after talking to Mihi and I was wondering if she upset you in some way…” Yoongi trailed off, realizing he probably should have thought through how to have this conversation a little bit more.

 

“Ah,” Taehyung murmured. “ I see.”

 

 

 

“You, Kim Taehyung,” Mihi said softly, “intrigue me.”

 

“Oh?” Taehyung said, folding his hands on his stomach and leaning back in the chair. The best thing they’d ever purchased was the balcony heater. Sometimes he forgot, but now, looking out over the winter landscape with the fresh, crisp air but none of the cold, Taehyung was reminded. “How so?”

 

“You are not as I imagined,” Mihi admitted.

 

“I get that a lot.”

 

“It’s not a bad thing, but Jungkook’s stories of you are largely… different, shall I say. Usually when you’re getting him into trouble or coaching him on how to talk to Jimin. Things like that. I had imagined you more like Jimin, I suppose.”

 

“We’re not dissimilar.”

 

“No,” Mihi acknowledged. “Which is why you intrigue me.”

 

“Thanks, I guess,” Taehyung said, unsure what to say to that.

 

“Why didn't you say anything? I know you heard me talking to Yoongi and I know you know he’s the reason I came.”

 

Taehyung raised a brow. “Well, it’s not my business either way. But I wouldn’t say he’s the only reason you came.”

 

Mihi smiled slightly, nodding. “You’re right.”

 

“Jimin said something when you were in the kitchen with Yoongi. He said you thought we needed a mom. That was the first impression I had as well.”

 

“You all do,” Mihi muttered. “It’s nothing short of a tragedy the way you boys have existed alone for so long.”

 

“I had a mom. She may have been my grandmother but she was still my mom,” Taehyung said firmly, his eyes fixed on the skyline. He hadn’t said anything because, honestly, he’d agreed with what she was doing. Jimin and Yoongi had been abandoned by their parents. Maybe Yoongi’s parents hadn’t been so forceful, never actually telling him to get out, but leaving him in that situation had been more than enough for Taehyung to decide abandonment was exactly what they’d done. But, unlike them, he’d had a good and kind mother figure. Just because she was dead, didn't mean she was gone.

 

“Oh, honey. I know. I’m not trying to replace anyone,” Mihi said softly, placing a soft hand on top of Taehyung’s where they’d clenched together on his stomach unconsciously. “I could never do that. I’m only trying to do what she can’t anymore. What Yoongi and Jimin’s parents should be doing but aren’t. Jungkook is my pride and joy. So is his younger brother. I love them more than anything and they both know that. I just want you three to feel like that too. Because you should.”

 

Taehyung licked his lips quickly. “I miss her a lot. All the time.”

 

“I know, honey. I was younger than you when my parents were taken but that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t ache, right here,” Mihi explained, touching a spot just below her heart. “Sometimes I think about what they’d do or say to my babies. How they’d spoil them and then lie to me about it like it was their own little secret.”

 

“I… wonder if they’d be proud. If they’d like Yoongi,” Taehyung whispered, blinking rapidly as he leaned forward.

 

Mihi squeezed Taehyung’s hands. “I know they would be. Jungkook sends me your photoshoots and the articles that magazines do on you. On Jimin too. Your grandmother would be very proud. And she’d love Yoongi. I do, and I only just met him. He’s a good man and he cares about you guys a lot.”

 

“You think?”

 

Mihi smiled. “I know.”

 

 

 

Taehyung rested his chin on his forearms. “We talked about my grandmother.”

 

“Oh,” Yoongi said. “I know that’s hard for you.”

 

“It is,” Taehyung agreed, his lips pursing quickly before they relaxed. “But it was nice to do. I think about her a lot, so it was nice to actually talk about her.”

 

“If you ever want to do that again, I’m always willing to listen, Tae.”

 

“I know, thank you.”

 

Yoongi flashed a quick smile. “Do you think she’d like me?”

 

Surprised to hear Yoongi ask something so close to his own previous thoughts, Taehyung blinked a few times, then nodded slowly. “I think she’d love you. How could she not?”

 

“Yea?” Yoongi asked, his cheeks flushing. “I’m glad.”

 

Taehyung smiled again. “Now, enough of that. We have gifts to buy!”

 

Yoongi nodded, a small smile still on his lips. “Yea, let’s go.”

 


 

Though December had snuck up on them all, Christmas had not. At least not really. Taehyung and Jimin had been talking about it for weeks, whispering about their ‘tradition’ and when to put it into action. Yoongi had watched with barely concealed amusement. Some people might have felt left out but Yoongi understood. He was also aware that he was going to get pulled into it whether he liked it or not, so there was no reason to feel left out in the first place. That didn’t stop him from being curious though. He couldn’t even imagine what those two had come up with over the years and he was excited to find out. 

 

His answer came on Christmas Eve. He had left for work alone that morning, since Jimin had left early, or so he’d been told, only to return to a winter wonderland. But a comfy addition. That was the only way to describe it. The whole living room was decorated in whites and golds, like a sparkling snow globe with a tree that was clearly too big for the apartment shoved in the corner. The couch and table had been moved away and in the centre of the living room what seemed to be air mattresses were set up, already covered in blankets and pillows. There were little Santa ornaments and reindeer on every flat surface and garland attached to the wall. It was like Christmas had thrown up on every surface except the tree. The tree, though present, wasn’t decorated yet. It was just a large, evergreen tree Yoongi already dreaded cleaning up after. 

 

Walking further into the apartment, he heard the soft Christmas music playing and the telltale giggles of Jimin and Taehyung in another room, clearly up to something. Yoongi shook his head and continued to take in all the Christmas chaos that had become his apartment while he was at work. Somehow it all just fit together, which honestly shouldn’t surprise Yoongi. It was just very Jimin and Taehyung. It made total sense that this was their tradition. Which made Yoongi wonder why the tree wasn’t decorated. Did they not usually decorate the tree? Seemed odd, given there was absolutely zero free space elsewhere.

 

“Hyung! You’re home!” Jimin greeted as he half ran, half stumbled toward Yoongi with a large container in his arms.

 

“I think so. Or I ended up in Santa’s village somehow,” Yoongi teased, once again looking around.

 

Jimin snorted as he set down the container and then latched onto Yoongi’s arm. “Do you like it?”

 

“It’s beautiful. It’s a nice tradition.”

 

“Oh, this isn’t the real tradition part,” Jimin corrected. “Since we’re both busy, whoever has a day off will decorate. That just happened to be both of us this year. The tradition is decorating the tree together and then having a sleepover.”

 

Yoongi blinked, his eyes dropped to the mattresses in the middle of the living room. “That explains those.”

 

“Yup! We decorate the tree then watch Christmas movies and drink and then in the morning we open presents!”

 

“That sounds… really nice,” Yoongi admitted slowly, catching sight of Taehyung who was also carrying a container. “More decorations?”

 

“Mhm, for the tree. Now that you’re here we can finally decorate it!” Taehyung answered, smiling brightly. 

 

Yoongi returned his smile and nodded. “I’d be glad too.”

 

Needing no more prompting, Jimin dragged Yoongi toward the tree and started handing him ornaments as he pulled them from the box. Taehyung followed after with a large ribbon in his hand that he began to wrap around the tree. And Jimin. Who ended up throwing a snowman-shaped ornament at his head in retaliation. Yoongi watched the chaos unfold with a large smile and loud laughter but after a bit, he sighed.

 

“It’s too bad Jungkook isn’t here.”

 

Jimin hummed, but the sound was sad. “Yea. He helped us decorate over a video call but it’s not the same.”

 

“You doing okay?” Yoongi wondered, nudging him with his hip.

 

“I am. We decorated our room and did our own little Christmas before he left. Our own tradition, you know?”

 

“That sounds nice. Maybe next year you can go to his family and join their tradition,” Yoongi suggested, glancing at Taehyung who nodded happily.

 

“Yea, me and Yoongi can make our own, clearly superior tradition,” Taehyung added with a teasing smile.

 

Jimin laughed. “Please, like you two could have all this without me.”

 

“I’m offended,” Yoongi said, placing a hand to his heart. “My decorating abilities are amazing.”

 

“Please. Don’t make me remind you of the Christmas disaster of ‘08.”

 

“Excuse me?!” Taehyung burst in, eyes sparkling. “I need details.”

 

“And you will never get them,” Yoongi hissed, eyes narrowed. “Unless Jimin wants to talk about the Valentine's incident of February 2012?”

 

Jimin’s eyes popped wide. “That is a secret.”

 

“Then shush,” Yoongi countered.

 

“No, you can’t do this! This is homophobia! I am being mistreated,” Taehyung whined, tossing small ornaments at them both in protest.

 

“That is not what homophobia is and you know it!” Jimin countered, cackling all the while.

 

“What happened to no secrets!? What happened in 2008 and 2012! TELL MEEEEEEEEE,” Taehyung continued to complain, even going so far as to grab Yoongi’s arm and tug, a pitiful pout on his lips.

 

Yoongi furrowed his brows, looking between Taehyung’s sad face and Jimin quickly. Jimin noticed his moment of weakness and dove in. “Don’t you dare! Those memories die with us! Don’t be fooled by the sad pout; he is a villain.”

 

“Now that’s just mean,” Taehyung said calmly, the earlier sadness gone as he smiled at Jimin’s antics.


“I can’t believe I almost fell for that!” Yoongi gasped out, eyes narrowed.

 

“Almost, but not quite. I’ll work on that,” Taehyung teased, stepping back from the tree. “I think that’s everything.”

 

Jimin rolled his eyes but nodded as well. He finished placing the ornaments Taehyung had tossed at them on the tree and stepped back too. He threw an arm over Yoongi’s shoulder and smiled. “So, what do you think of your first Tae-Min Christmas?”

 

Scanning the tree, which had three sections that did nothing but show the personality of the decorator, and the happy smiles of Taehyung and Jimin’s faces, Yoongi smiled brightly. “It’s great.”

 

“We’ll have to change the name though,” Taehyung observed, scratching his chin.

 

“Yup. Yoon-Ji-Tae?”

 

Taehyung grimaced. “No, that is terrible.”

 

“Um, Tae-Yoon-Min?”

 

“Better, I guess,” Taehyung allowed, still frowning. Then scrunched his nose. “We’ll just drop you out entirely, Jimin, and call it Tae-Gi. Off you go to Jeon Christmas land.”


“I’m not even gone yet!” Jimin snapped, though he was still smiling. “Whatever, the name doesn’t matter. We still have to put the finishing touches on.”

 

“There’s more?” Yoongi muttered, wondering just how many Christmas things those two had shoved away in countless closets.

 

“Just one,” Jimin confirmed before dropping down and grabbing a small box out of the container that Yoongi had noticed but ignored thinking it was extra ornaments.

 

Watching Jimin grab the box, Taehyung explained. “When we first started this, we were pretty poor so we made our own ornaments. Most have fallen apart or were trashed but we kept two. They’re little gingerbread us.”

 

“Oh,” Yoongi said, eyes fixed intently on Jimin as he opened the box to reveal them. One was smaller, wearing what looked like a jersey and hat. It was clearly based on Jimin from when he was still in university and it made Yoongi smile, fond memories of that Jimin falling asleep on his floor flooding him. The second was clearly Taehyung, the hair brightly coloured yellow and eyes large and round. The clothing wasn’t specific, but the smile was just a box, so Yoongi could easily tell it was Taehyung. “They’re cute.”

 

“They are,” Taehyung agreed. “This morning we made a new one.”

 

“Oh? Like modern you where Jimin isn’t dressed like a basketball team reject.”

 

“Okay, first of all, I looked hot,” Jimin interrupted. “And second of all, no. We added you.”

 

“M-me?” Yoongi repeated, brows furrowing as he watched Jimin pull out another gingerbread ornament. It looked newer than the others, the colours lighter. But it was clearly him. The little figure had a royal blue sweater with little knit details, just like the one Jungkook had gotten him, and an upside-down ‘V’ for a mouth. On its head was a little beanie. Yoongi reached out, taking the little him from Jimin so he could cradle it in his hands. “It’s me.”

 

“It is,” Jimin agreed.

 

Yoongi sniffed, refusing to cry but desperately wanting to. “Why am I smaller than you?”

 

Jimin huffed. “Because you are.”

 

“I am not,” Yoongi denied, still staring at the ornament. “This is… I don’t even know what to say.”

 

“Say you like it,” Taehyung suggested, wrapping Yoongi up in a back hug and dropping his chin on Yoongi’s shoulder.

 

“I like it a lot,” Yoongi whispered, his fingers trailing over the little face delicately.

 

“Good. Jungkook cried when we showed him his,” Taehyung added.

 

Yoongi smiled, only to feel the tears slip out due to the movement of his cheeks. He rubbed them away stubbornly. “Can I see him too?”

 

“Sure,” Jimin agreed, pulling it out. This was on bulkier, clearly a muscle joke, with little black squiggles on the arms and round eyes that took up nearly half the face. The clothing was just all black and they’d even added little combat-looking boots. 

 

“Very him,” Yoongi decided, shaking his head.

 

“We thought so,” Taehyung said, squeezing Yoongi once before stepping back. “So do you want to put little gingerbread you on the tree?”

 

“Yea,” Yoongi agreed, his attention turning towards the tree. After a moment of consideration, Yoongi placed little him at eye level and stepped back. Taehyung quickly added his right beside him and Jimin added his own and Jungkook’s on the other side. 

 

They looked like a little family.

 

“Fuck,” Yoongi muttered, seconds before he just dropped, hands covering his face.

 

“Yoongi!?” Taehyung called, following him down. Then, seeing the shine of tears leaking through his fingers, he sighed. “Ah, Yoongi.”

 

“God, hyung, don’t scare us like that,” Jimin said, kneeling down so he could rub Yoongi’s back as he cried. 

 

“I’m just so— happy. I’m happy, god. I’m so happy,” Yoongi tried to explain, his own tears making it hard. “I never thought— I’m so happy.”

 

“We know, Yoongi,” Taehyung assured, his fingers threading through Yoongi’s hair in comfort. “We’re happy too. Right, Jimin?”

 

“I’ve never been happier,” Jimin agreed, moving his hand so could just hug the still curled up Yoongi instead. “I have my best friend back, an amazing boyfriend, my dream job, a roommate and best friend who supports all my stupid ideas. What more could I ask for?”

 

Yoongi laughed, the sound wet. “Nothing I guess.”

 

“Exactly,” Jimin murmured, his eyes on Taehyung’s face as he stared at Yoongi intently. Taking in the soft expression that practically radiated unsaid feelings and care, Jimin decided that maybe he had one other thing to wish for.

 


 

Once Yoongi had finally stopped crying and washed his face, the evening had settled down considerably. They’d ordered some dinner, then proceeded to curl up on the mattresses and watch movies. Yoongi lost count of how many they managed to get through since most were so short, but eventually, the room grew dark, the only light coming from the strings of Christmas lights around the room and the dim glow of the TV once it shifted to standby mode. 

 

After slipping away to call Jungkook, Jimin had returned and promptly fallen asleep, his body wrapped around a small pillow Taehyung knew to be Jungkook’s. They’d joked about it before, but Taehyung had no doubt that Jimin would be spending the next Christmas and every one after that with Jungkook and his family. Jimin was great at concealing how sad being away from him over the holidays made him, but Taehyung could see it and he suspected Yoongi could too. 

 

Once he fell asleep, Taehyung turned over and pulled the covers up, coming face to face with Yoongi, who was lying with his arm tucked underneath a pillow, causing his cheek to bunch up. Taehyung found himself staring at him, unable to look away. Like this, it was like they were actually sleeping together, not having a slumber party. As much pain as that thought brought him, it also made him a bit happy so he held onto it longer than he usually would allow himself to. 

 

So long, in fact, that Yoongi opened his eyes with a soft, sleepy smile. “You’re staring.”

 

“Sorry, just can’t stop staring at these little cheeks,” Taehyung teased, poking the cheek that was currently squished by the blanket.

 

“Stop,” Yoongi whined, slapping Taehyung hand away tiredly. “It’s your fault anyway. I’ve gained so much weight the past few months.”

 

“Mhmm, it’s cute.”

 

Yoongi closed his eyes with a sigh. “Yea, I like it.”

 

“Yea?” Taehyung asked, unable to hold back a smile.

 

“Yea. Just means I’m actually eating what I want for once,” Yoongi explained, his eyes peeking open a bit so he could see Taehyung’s reaction, only to see that he was already smiling.

 

“I’m glad, you look cute,” Taehyung said after a moment. 

 

Yoongi sighed. “I do need to cut my hair though. I can put it in a ponytail now.”

 

Without warning, Taehyung sat up already pulling the elastic he had on his wrist off and handing it to Yoongi. “Let me see.”

 

“No, it’s bad,” Yoongi protested, though he took the offered elastic anyway.

 

“Too bad,” Taehyung quipped. Rolling his eyes, Yoongi sat up too and began pulling his hair back and forming it into a small little tail. The back wasn’t long enough to go all the way up, so it was more like a half-up style, but as Yoongi dropped his hands, Taehyung let out a quiet little squeal, trying not to wake Jimin. “It’s so cute!”

 

“It is not,” Yoongi denied. “My face is too round of this.”

 

“Nope,” Taehyung denied, his attention on the little sprout of hair as he tapped it with his finger and watched it bob. “God, that’s fucking adorable. I’m going to cry when you cut it.”

 

“Dramatic,” Yoongi muttered, but Taehyung could see the blush even under the low light.

 

“Not dramatic, honest. You’re a beautiful person, Yoongi. I hope you know that.”

 

Yoongi darted a look at Taehyung as he pulled his hair free and handed the elastic back. “Thank you.”

 

“No thanks needed,” Taehyung said easily.

 

“I know, but thank you anyway,” Yoongi replied as he shuffled back into his previous position and curled up further until he was barely more than a ball. Taehyung smiled down at him and tucked some of the now dishevelled hair behind Yoongi’s ear, his fingers lingering far too long. Yoongi only sighed though and let his eyes slip closed, completely relaxed. 

 

“Good night, Yoongi.”

 

“Good night, Tae.”

 


 

When Taehyung woke up the next morning, it was due to soft giggling coming from the kitchen. He could tell it was later than he’d expected to wake up, but considering he’d spent most of the night staring at the ceiling contemplating his life choices, he wasn’t surprised. It was becoming harder and harder for him to hide his feelings for Yoongi. Or perhaps he wasn’t trying that hard. He didn’t know. All he did know was that whenever he thought about him, his chest hurt, like someone was pressing down on it, restricting his breath. 

 

At first, when he’d realized how he felt, he’d assumed it was a crush, feelings born of a situation where he was spending a lot of time with Yoongi, who was obviously an amazing person. But that was becoming more and more untrue. It wasn’t a crush or a slight infatuation. He thought about Yoongi all the time. Just in simple ways: oh would he like this? What would Yoongi say to that? Maybe I should grab one for Yoongi. It had gotten so bad that several of the models and staff he worked with regularly already thought they were dating. 

 

Last night had been a wake-up call of sorts. It wasn’t a crush or slight infatuation. He was in love with Yoongi. Everything about him. He just wanted to hold him tight and never let go. And honestly, that terrified him. If he’d been angry at himself before he was livid now. Yoongi was only now free from Minhyuk and starting to thrive in his job. He was finally in a stable place without the need to look over his shoulder or worry about the future. And he was talking about dating again! He didn’t need Taehyung lingering like a shadow, a constant reminder of what he’d been like when he first escaped.

 

Taehyung rubbed his face with a sigh, it's Christmas morning, enough of that, and rolled off the slightly deflated air mattress in search of Yoongi and Jimin. He found them in the kitchen crowded around the stove. Slightly confused, Taehyung moved closer so he could see what they were looking at. He spotted a stack of green and red coloured pancakes on the counter and another on the skillet in front of them. 

 

“Is that what you’ve been doing all morning?” Taehyhung asked, raising a brow.

 

“Yes,” Yoongi answered firmly. “It’s surprisingly hard to make the batter red and not pink.”


“It is!” Jimin agreed. “But we’ve come up with the perfect combination.”

 

“I’m sure you did,” Taehyung agreed softly as he grabbed some apple juice from the fridge before settling in one of the chairs. “I humbly offer myself as tribute in the form of a taste tester.”

 

Yoongi snorted and placed a plate with two red and green pancakes in front of him. “We accept your service. You shall be missed.”

 

Smiling brightly, Taehyung grabbed a pancake and took a bite. It tasted like any other pancake. “They are terrible. I will have to eat all of them to save you the emotional toll.”

 

“Dick,” Jimin muttered, tossing a dishtowel at his face. “No more pancakes for you.”

 

“Meanie.”

 

“Alright, children, no more fighting,” Yoongi quipped, flipping the final pancake onto the stack. “Let’s eat!”

 

Though the bickering didn’t end entirely, they did manage to eat all the pancakes in record time. So after Taehyung cleaned up the kitchen, they returned to the living room and sat around the tree. Jimin opened his laptop and propped it on a nearby chair so it was at eye level and called Jungkook, who answered immediately. “Hi, hyungs! Merry Christmas!”

 

“Merry Christmas, Kook.”


“Merry Christmas, Kookie.”

 

“Thanks for doing this later, my family always does the crack of dawn thing,” Jungkook said quickly.

 

“It’s fine, we just had breakfast. You missed out,” Taehyung teased, earning a sad pout from Jungkook even as his eyes shined brightly. Being home clearly agreed with him.

 

“Alright, now for presents!” Jimin said, clapping his hands loudly. “How should we do this?”

 

“Person by person?” Taehyung suggested, looking between them. Yoongi and Jimin nodded in agreement at the same time, so they decided to do it that way. 

 

Jungkook went first since he’d had to bring his gifts with him when he returned to Busan with his mom. Yoongi had gotten him a date outfit and he cheekily included a note saying no one would think he looked like Jimin’s brother in this outfit. Neither Jimin and Taehyung had gotten it, but Jungkook had laughed and that satisfied Yoongi. Taehyung got him a new lens for his camera that Jungkook hadn’t been able to afford. Next came Jimin, who opened his gifts from Yoongi and Taehyung, since he’d already opened Jungkook’s gift before he left. Yoongi got him a pair of boots that he’d seen Jimin eyeing when he’d taken Yoongi shopping before he started his new job and Taehyung got him a small, personalized photo album for the polaroids he was constantly taking. Next, Taehyung went, getting a tie from Jimin that Yoongi could feel the cost dripping off of, a personalized game controller from Jungkook, and a custom camera strap from Yoongi, who was quite proud of his gift. It had taken longer than he’d have liked to track someone down who was willing to make one, but he’d found a small creator online who’d done an amazing job. 

 

Which just left Yoongi. 

 

Now that he was the centre of attention, Yoongi very much did not understand why he’d suggested they go person by person. He hadn’t been thinking about the implications of sitting there while everyone watched him open their gifts. With wide eyes, Yoongi tentatively took the present marked with Jungkook’s name, figuring the person separated from him by the camera would be easier to deal with first. Opening it quickly, Yoongi found a nice-looking notebook with thick, heavy pages and a set of fancy pens.

 

When Yoongi didn’t immediately comment, Jungkook cleared his throat. “Um, Jimin-hyung mentioned you had a thing for pens and paper when you were writing…”

 

“No, I— he’s right, I do. When I was writing my own stuff…” Yoongi trailed off then looked at the screen with a small, genuine smile. “I love it, Kookie. Thank you.”

 

“No problem, hyung. You can dedicate the first entry to me,” Jungkook suggested, smiling as well.

 

“Please, the childhood friend comes first,” Jimin said, smacking the screen lightly as if Jungkook could feel it. He did move back, which made Yoongi laugh. “Alright, now my gift.”

 

Taking the envelope from Jimin, Yoongi frowned, worried Jimin would be giving him money or something like that. He really didn’t want to be a burden so that thought made him uncomfortable but he opened it anyway. Seeing what was inside, Yoongi gasped. “Jimin.”

 

“I know you were sad Hongki-hyung couldn’t come back for Christmas, so I arranged the next best thing. Namjoon-hyung got you time off work so you leave tomorrow,” Jimin explained.

 

“Jimin, I—” Yoongi broke off, staring down at the ticket in his hand for a round trip to Jeju Island. Jimin had arranged so he could go visit his brother for the holidays. “I can’t say thank you enough.”

 

“Once is all I need,” Jimin said simply, jolting back when Yoongi tackled him into an aggressive hug. 

 

He vaguely heard Jungkook whine that he was missing out on prime Yoongi-hyung cuddles but he ignored in favour of squeezing Jimin tight. “Thank you, Jiminie. Thank you so much.”

 

“No problem, hyung. Say hi for me.”

 

“I will,” Yoongi agreed, pulling back and wiping his eyes quickly. He tucked the ticket inside Jungkook’s gift and sighed, his hand resting firmly on the cover as if both gifts would just vanish.

 

“Is it okay if I give you my gift later?” Taehyung asked, drawing Yoongi’s attention.

 

“Of course, Tae,” Yoongi agreed, once again ignoring Jungkook’s complaints even as Jimin added his own on top.

 

After that, the conversation drifted. Now that the gifts were opened, they were just talking about anything and everything. Jungkook gave a play-by-play of his own Christmas morning and a tour. His brother popped up briefly to make fun of Jungkook only to disappear in a flurry of limbs and brotherly ribbing. Mihi interrupted to introduce her husband and Jungkook’s dad, who Yoongi couldn’t help but notice looked at her like she was the only thing he could see. He didn’t say much, which just confirmed Yoongi’s suspicions that Jungkook took after him, before they both disappeared again. 

 

Once Jungkook returned to his room with the laptop, Jimin drifted closer to the screen, his smile soft and private. Yoongi smiled at them and tapped Taehyung’s arm, tilting his head towards the door. Nodding, Taehyung stood up. “We’re going to go for a walk. Merry Christmas, Kook.”

 

“Bye hyungs!”

 

“Have a good day, Kookie,” Yoongi added before leaving them behind. He could hear the tone of Jungkook’s voice change after that, though he couldn’t hear what they were saying. Yoongi figured if they couldn’t be together, the least he and Taehyung could do was give them some privacy, so Taehyung grabbed his camera bag and followed a freshly bundled-up Yoongi out of the apartment. 

 

Without really discussing it, they ended up heading towards Taehyung’s private courtyard where he’d brought Yoongi the first time he’d ever left the apartment. Yoongi tended to think of it as their place, though they’d never returned together since then. 

 

It just was.

 

During the middle of winter, it looked just as beautiful as at the beginning of fall. Since it wasn’t maintained, the ground was covered in deep, largely undisturbed snow. There were some small tracks from animals, but otherwise, it seemed no one had been there. Yoongi stomped through the middle and fell back into the snow, his body sinking into the white power as Taehyung cleared off the bench and set his bag down.

 

“I love Christmas.”

 

“Yea?” Taehyung asked.

 

“Yea,” Yoongi agreed. “I like the feel in the air.”

 

“Hmm, there is something. Did you want your present now?” 

 

Popping up immediately, Yoongi narrowed his eyes. “Now? I thought you said later.”

 

“It is later,” Taehyung pointed out, raising a brow cheekily.

 

Still unconvinced, Yoongi pushed himself up and returned to Taehyung’s side, looking between him and his bag almost accusatory. “Okay, fine.”

 

“I didn’t wrap it, so you can open my bag yourself,” Taehyung suggested, waving him forward.

 

Yoongi furrowed his brows but did as he was told, flipping to top flap open. The first thing he saw was a long black rectangular shape. He assumed it was Taehyung equipment so he pulled it out, thinking his gift was underneath. Once it was free, he saw the keys and froze. “You got me a MIDI?”

 

Taehyung smiled slightly. “Not quite.”

 

Frowning now, Yoongi looked at it again. It was a MIDI keyboard. It looked old and used. He’d be surprised if it even worked anymore. Then it hit him, remembering the conversation he and Taehyung had had about his old MIDI and how they should find a new, but still crappy one. “Ah, because we were joking about it. I thought we said it should have missing keys?”

 

“I think this one is better,” Taehyung said, his expression hinting at something Yoongi wasn’t understanding. 

 

Even more confused, Yoongi flipped the board around, his eye pausing as it caught a dented scratch on the corner. He had a vivid memory of himself falling off a skateboard and skidding across the cement, only to check on his MIDI in a mild panic. The whole corner had been scratched off where it was sticking out, but otherwise, it had been fine. Yoongi’s eyes snapped up to Taehyung, who was still watching him steadily, and then returned to the board in his hands. It was the same size, only 25 keys because that’s all he’d been able to afford, and small enough for him to carry around in a large-ish bag. Licking his lips, Yoongi flipped the board one last time.

 

There, on the side, was MYG in silver sharpie. It was faded now, almost gone, but still there. He remembered stealing the sharpie from his teacher because the metallic ones were expensive and black wouldn’t show up. 

 

This wasn’t a MIDI board.

 

It was his MIDI board.

 

“H-how?” Yoongi stuttered out.

 

Taehyung smiled. “It was pretty easy. I called your old studio and asked around. Your old PD still works there and he remembered you. He never threw it out, said he knew it meant a lot to you, so it’s been in his studio this whole time. I drove out to get it last week. He only gave it to me on one condition.”

 

“W-what was that?” Yoongi asked, his thumb rubbing over his own initials.

 

“That I’d tell you to call him,” Taehyung said simply. 

 

Yoongi blinked, an odd half laugh, half sob ripping out of his chest. “Tae.”

 

Moving forward quickly, Taehyung grabbed Yoongi’s face, watching as he struggled between happiness and sadness. “What, Yoongi?”

 

“H-how? W-why? How can you do things like this? How do you just know?” Yoongi asked, the battle of holding back tears once again lost as they rushed out and soaked Taehyung’s mittens.

 

Because I love you.

 

“Because I care about you, Yoongi, and I listen when you speak,” Taehyung said instead.

 

Yoongi’s face scrunched up. “I-I— I’m so lucky to have met you.”

 

“Nah, I wouldn’t say lucky,” Taehyung disagreed, letting Yoongi push himself forward and bury his face in Taehyung’s neck. “You deserve all the best things. Nothing less.”

 

Unable to say anything more, Yoongi nodded into Taehyung’s neck, the MIDI board crushed between them. Taehyung cupped the back of Yoongi’s head with his mitten-covered hand and rubbed gently. They really did need to stop making him cry. It had to be bad for his body’s hydration levels. 

 

After a few minutes, Yoongi sniffed and turned his head so it was resting on his shoulder and he could see Taehyung’s face. “This is the best thing anyone has ever done for me, Tae. Thank you.”

 

Taehyung shook his head slightly and looked down to disagree but froze in place instead. Yoongi had moved, just a bit, causing Taehyung to come within centimetres of Yoongi’s lips when he looked down. He felt Yoongi’s chest still, his eyes flicking up to Taehyung’s then back down to his lips. All Taehyung had to do is move forward just a bit, less than an inch, and they’d be kissing. He wasn’t breathing and he was pretty sure Yoongi wasn’t either. They were just held there, frozen in the moments before their first kiss.

 

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!

 

Nearly jerking himself away but stopping at the last second, Taehyung relaxed his posture and turned his head away. “It’s no problem, Yoongi. I’m always here for you. You know that, right?”

 

Confused, Yoongi stepped back. “Y-yea, of course.”

 

“Good. Now, I really feel like I have to redeem myself after our last snowball fight. You down?” Taehyung asked, smiling brightly at Yoongi now that he’d taken a few steps back.

 

Biting his lip, Yoongi turned away and put the MIDI board back in Taehyung’s bag. That had been… something, right? Yoongi shot a quick glance at Taehyung, who was now crouched down making snowballs, before looking away. He hadn’t imagined it, right? They were about to kiss, right? “Hey, um, Tae?”

 

“Yup?”

 

Yoongi hesitated a moment then shook his head and spun around with a smile. “You’re going down.”

 

“Bold words from a Minion. Bring it on!”

 

Didn’t Taehyung want to kiss him?

 

Did he want to kiss Taehyung? 

 

“Famous last words!” Yoongi quipped back before running to the other side of the courtyard, ignoring the small, confused voice in the back of his brain wondering what had just happened and why Taehyung had pulled away. 

 

At least for now. 

Chapter Text

Collapsing in a pile of limbs and giggles, Yoongi rubbed his face on a small ball of black and brown fur. A paw emerged from the fur and pushed hard against his cheek before a small body began to wiggle and let out little sounds of protest. Yoongi ignored the tiny fluff’s protest and continued to nuzzle it, his large hands encompassing its whole body. 

 

“You’re going to crush him,” Taehyung chastised softly, sitting beside Yoongi on the ground. “He’s still a puppy.”

 

“Crush him with my love,” Yoongi responded with a huff, though he let the puppy squirm out of his hands and jump down. The puppy huffed too then waddled towards Taehyung where he pawed at Taehyung’s thigh until the younger man picked him up. “Betrayed, I’ve been betrayed.”

 

“Awe, don’t worry. I still love you,” Taehyung teased as he held the small puppy to his chest and scrunched his nose. 

 

Yoongi rolled his eyes. “Yes, but are you a puppy?”

 

“Now who’s been betrayed,” Taehyung quipped, turning his face down so he could look at the puppy with wide eyes. “It’s just me and you now, pup.”

 

“Dramatic,” Yoongi muttered, his lips quirked. “Do you think he’ll like it here?”

 

Taehyung glanced back up with a soft smile before leaning forward and placing a long, chaste kiss on Yoongi’s lips. “Of course, Yoongi. We’ll make sure of it.”

 

“Yoongi? Yoongi?”

 

Jolting out of his thoughts, or rather imagination, Yoongi turned towards the voice and smiled. “Hey, hyung! Sorry, I was half asleep.”

 

“It’s okay,” Hongki responded. “I just wanted to let you know I was going to work.”

 

“Oh, okay,” Yoongi agreed with a nod. “Have a good shift.”

 

Hongki smiled but it wasn’t as bright as it should be. “I’m really sorry I have to keep leaving you all day.”

 

“It’s fine, hyung. If you couldn’t get time off work to come to Seoul, why would you get time off because I was here? I’m okay here with Holly, I promise.”

 

“I know, I still feel bad though,” Hongki admitted.

 

Yoongi shook his head. “Well, you can make it up to me by bringing around that girlfriend of yours. I’d like to meet her.”

 

“What? Really?” Hongki asked, clearly surprised.

 

“Why not?” Yoongi asked. “You love her, don’t you?”

 

Hongki ducked his head, but not before Yoongi said the blush. “I do.”

 

“Then I want to meet her,” Yoongi reiterated.

 

“Then you will,” Hongki agreed. “I’ll ask her when she's free and we’ll do lunch or dinner or something.”

 

“Perfect. Now go to work. Shoo shoo, go!” Yoongi ordered, waving his hand impatiently. Hongki laughed before grabbing his jacket and disappearing out the front door, once again leaving Yoongi with his thoughts. He felt Holly shift under his hand and glanced down, suddenly remembering the small, fluffy dog from his little daydream. “Do you want to go for a walk?”

 

Without further prompting, Holly was gone, someone managing to appear at the door with a leash in his mouth before Yoongi could even stand up. Smiling slightly, Yoongi grabbed the leash from Holly and clipped it in place. 

 

Maybe a walk would help him clear his mind.

 

It couldn’t hurt at least.

 

So, Yoongi wandered through town with Holly trotting at his side, taking in the town Hongki had settled in. It was nice. In a small island town kinda way. Yoongi knew almost instantly he wouldn’t be able to live in a place like this. He liked it and he was enjoying himself but it was too quiet. There just wasn’t anything going on. No noise, no bustling of people. 

 

He supposed Taehyung would really enjoy it though. It was beautiful. Especially the beaches. Long winding sand, now frozen in the steps of people long gone, slow-moving water creeping up on the sand and retreating with a mix of whites and blues. Yoongi secured Holly’s leash to a stick in the sand and sat down, letting the small dog run wild, dashing in and out of the surf. Yoongi watched him, a small smile playing on his lips. He may not like the silence of the Jeju, but he was appreciating the solitude. It was a great way for him to sort through his thoughts. 

 

Of which he had many. 

 

Usually, when he let his mind wander he thought about how far he’d come since running to Seoul. His progress, his new job, his new friends. It was so incredibly outlandish to him. He’d never thought he’d get free, that he’d live a normal life that was so fulfilling. Before every day had been a trial, the smallest things had seemed like a victory, a thing to be lauded and fawn over. Now, it seemed that days or even weeks passed without Yoongi even really thinking about his time before, how far he’d come. His days were often filled with his job and friends. Even the thing that he’d used to be so scared of doing, coming up with new meals to please Minhyuk, had turned into something he was excited about doing. He’d find himself flipping through cooking magazines and scrolling through food blogs to find new recipes he’d liked to try. Then he got to see Taehyung, Jungkook, and Jimin's faces when they tried it. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it wasn’t. He loved when it was bad the most. Because they actually told him if it was and he wasn’t scared of their reactions. It just was or wasn’t, no more, no less.

 

But he wasn’t thinking about all that. Not really anyway. It was less of a thought and more of a constant reality, so though it was there, it wasn’t what was on his mind. 

 

No, that was Taehyung.

 

Ever since Christmas, Taehyung was all Yoongi could think about.

 

That’s not true.

 

Frowning out over the ocean, Yoongi rested his chin on his palm. No, it had been happening since before Christmas. Yoongi wasn’t really sure when, but at some point he’d started to pay more attention to Taehyung, to want to be closer to him and hear his opinion on things. Maybe it started when Taehyung told him about his camera, or when he took him to the mountains, or bought him his own apron. Yoongi didn’t know. He just knew that when he’d hugged Taehyung on Christmas, something shifted. It was no longer something he was unaware of but a thing that had held him still with bated breath. 

 

It had taken him almost the entire travel time from Seoul to Jeju to realize that he’d wanted Taehyung to kiss him. When it had happened, he’d thought it seemed like a kiss moment. One of those picture-perfect still scenes that only happened in dramas that he’d always scoffed at before. But the mere thought of Taehyung kissing him had caused his brain to screech to a halt, so he’d ignore it. He’d spent the rest of Christmas day with Taehyung in the snow, laughing and happy, then returned to their apartment to find Jimin napping by the laptop, the screen dim but Jungkook’s sleeping form clear on the other side. After some maneuvering, Jimin had been put to bed and Yoongi and Taehyung had just… been. They hadn’t talked a lot, just hung out and enjoyed the atmosphere brought by the pretty lights and decorations. When dinner time had arrived, they’d worked together in amicable silence, Yoongi softly directing Taehyung when he hesitated.

 

It had been a good day. 

 

A great one even.

 

And now Yoongi was here, his ass numb from the cold sand, while he tried to sort through everything. It was true that he wanted to be around Taehyung all the time. He enjoyed talking to him about anything and he always felt comfortable with him. Even when he panicked or backslid, he never felt like Taehyung was judging him or just biding his time until Yoongi worked his way through it. He didn’t know how to explain it, so he settled on ‘comfortable’ but he thought it was more than that. He was comfortable around all his friends but there was something different about Taehyung. 

 

He was just… Taehyung. 

 

That was the only way to describe it. He just was who he was and Yoongi loved that. He’d suffered but he was still soft and understanding. But even as soft as he was, he put his foot down when necessary and made his opinions clear. It was a nice balance that Yoongi wished he could emulate. He’d tried, speaking his mind when he could, but he knew he could do better. He’d been working on it in therapy and he thought he was doing better, but there was still a long way to go. Which made sense since Taehyung had said he’d gone to therapy to learn how to do it in the first place. 

 

But that wasn’t the point. 

 

The point was that Taehyung held his attention in a way no one ever had. Even when he and Minhyuk had gotten together, he’d spent a lot of time pursuing Yoongi and asking him out at the beginning. Taehyung didn’t do that. Not that there was any comparison between Taehyung and Minhyuk but it was still a nice observation. 

 

But what did that mean? 

 

“What do you think Holly? Did you like Tae?” Yoongi asked, only to get a face full of wet fur as Holly ran into Yoongi’s chest with full force. Yoongi fell back onto the hard sand with an oof and let Holly lick his face as he laughed. “That’s not what I asked.”

 

With a sigh, Yoongi dropped his arms to the sand and stretched out his legs, his body forming a confused starfish with a dog perched on top. Holly licked his face again before jumping off and leaving him alone. “Abandoned. How cruel.”

 

Holly barked once and Yoongi snorted, mildly embarrassed that he was just laying on a beach having a conversation with his dog in the middle of a winter’s day. But he’d done worse and weirder things so he let it go in favour of refocusing his mind.

 

Taehyung.

 

He needed to think about Taehyung.

 

Realistically, he probably could have ignored it. Pretended they hadn’t almost kissed. Pretended just the thought of it didn’t make his heart race. But he wasn’t going to. His therapist said he needed to deal with things head-on and Yoongi agreed. Hiding didn’t get him anywhere before and it wouldn't now. Plus, his earlier fantasy had shown him that wasn’t possible. His imagination was far too domestic to ignore. It wasn’t burning passion, clothes flying everywhere as hands grabbed greedily. No, instead he’d imagined a domestic moment in time. A time where he and Taehyung were together. A family even. That’s all he’d ever wanted but usually his fantasies were not so specific and they certainly didn’t include specific people. Before they’d just been the idle thoughts of one day but now they were specific, targetted. No longer one day but now one day with Taehyung.

 

He didn’t know what that meant. Did he love him? Yoongi squinted at the grey, cloud-covered sky, thinking about that. He wasn’t sure. He wasn’t even sure he’d know what love was if it bit him in the ass. He’d thought what he had with Minhyuk was love and that was definitely not the case, so who knew what love actually felt like? He did care about him a lot though. He wanted to see him smiling and happy all the time and offer comfort and an ear when he wasn’t. He wanted to feel his large hand encompassing his as he pulled him along excitedly. He wanted to bury himself in his hug and simply stay there, warm and comforted. He wanted to listen to him talk about photography and angles for hours on end, only understanding about half of what he said, but getting to see Taehyung express himself about something he loved. He wanted to teach him every recipe he’d found in the cooking for beginners book he’d picked up and watch as Taehyung grew more confident in the kitchen. He wanted to hear Taehyung talk about his grandparents and how much he missed them. He wanted to wake up with Taehyung’s deep, sleep-addled voice in his ear.

 

He just… wanted

 

Yoongi wasn’t sure if that was okay.

 


 

By the third day on Jeju, Hongki had a day off so he and Yoongi spent the day alone together. It was calmer than his time in Seoul, more laid back. Rather than sightseeing and rushing around, they ended up relaxing at home and just enjoying each other’s company. When he and Hongki had hung out before, Yoongi had been younger, angrier, so their time together had been coloured by that. Yoongi wasn’t like that now and though he enjoyed those previous times too, he found he liked this better. Found that he understood Hongki more and that allowed them to settle into being around each other again. They hadn’t done much, Hongki was obviously tired from working all week, especially over the holidays, but Yoongi was still enjoying himself. It was rare for him since moving to Seoul to have an entire, quiet day. With four people in one apartment, it just didn’t happen. Which he also liked but it was nice to do something different. 

 

“Hey, Yoongi?” Hongki asked, rolling his head towards Yoongi from where it rested on the arm of the couch.

 

“Yea?” 

 

“Did you want to cook dinner with me?”

 

Freezing, Yoongi’s eyes widened before he turned toward Hongki slowly. “I’d love that.”

 

Hongki smiled quickly. “Awesome. I miss cooking with you.”

 

“Maybe you can teach me something new,” Yoongi suggested lightly, thinking back. No matter the mood they’d been in or the issues they’d had or resolved, cooking had always been their thing. Hongki had always been the one to teach him new things in the kitchen and Yoongi was excited to start that tradition up again. 

 

“Always stealing my tricks,” Hongki teased, pushing himself up from the couch and swinging his legs down so he could head to the kitchen. 

 

“How else will I impress the masses?” Yoongi wondered idly, smirking when Hongki snorted. For a moment, Yoongi simply watched Hongki disappear around the corner, feeling a calm sort of contentment settle over his body. He supposed most people would want more excitement on vacation but he was happy this way. He got enough excitement elsewhere. 

 

So, Yoongi gave Holly one last rub and followed after Hongki. He was already pulling random things from the fridge and piling them on top of the counter. Washing his hands quickly, Yoongi leaned on the counter and scanned the ingredients. “What are we making?”

 

“I’m thinking Italian,” Hongki replied, his head still in the fridge.

 

“Italian? Yea, you’ll definitely need to walk me through that,” Yoongi muttered.

 

“That’s what I’m here for,” Hongki said after a long pause. “To offer advice and help.”

 

Yoongi cast a sidelong glance Hongki’s way but didn’t reply. He had a feeling Hongki was suggesting something else, but Yoongi wasn’t quite sure if he was ready to talk about it yet. He didn’t even know what he’d say if he did bring it up, so he silently let Hongki direct him as he prepped garlic and onions and blended herbs. Yoongi found himself slipping into old habits, where he’d flick water at Hongki’s face when he wanted to be a bit of a brat or space out watching the way he chopped things so quickly and efficiently. Yoongi was a good cook but Hongki was a professional and it showed. He also never used a recipe, while Yoongi was fairly tied to them. He just had good instincts about things like that. And people. He had good instincts in general. Yoongi’d always admired that.

 

Which meant… “Hey, hyung?”

 

“Hmmm? Can you heat the pan? The cast-iron one,” Hongki asked, pointing to the pan in question.

 

Yoongi nodded and grabbed the pan, pouring oil on generously before continuing. “Can I ask you something?”

 

“I’ve been waiting for you to ask me something since you got here,” Hongki admitted, smiling slightly. He’d realized immediately that Yoongi was working through something when he’d arrived. It didn’t seem to distress him, so Hongki hadn’t asked, but he would be lying if he said he wasn’t waiting for Yoongi to trust him enough to bring it up.

 

“You noticed?” Yoongi asked, his cheeks tinting.

 

“I did,” Hongki confirmed. “I figured you’d bring whatever it was up when you were comfortable.”

 

Yoongi pursed his lips. “It’s not that I’m comfortable per se more like I trust your opinion.”

 

“I’m glad. So what’s up?”

 

“What do you think of Taehyung?” Yoongi asked point-blank.

 

Hongki’s hand froze on the knife, the blade partially slicing through a tomato, before finishing the cut and setting his knife down. For some reason, he felt like this conversation needed his full attention, so he reached across and turned off the burner he’d had Yoongi turn on for the skillet and leaned against the counter with crossed arms. “What do you mean?”

 

“What was your impression of him? What do you think?” Yoongi repeated.

 

Humming, Hongki took a moment to decide how to explain his thoughts and feelings. “Well, my first impression was that he was very good-looking and cared about you a lot.”

 

Yoongi blinked, frowning slightly. “Not really what I was looking for…”

 

“I know it’s not. That’s just what I saw first. When I first saw him, I was too focused on you to really pay attention but he stayed in that hallway for you to tell him you were okay and when he came to pick you up he’d thought about you enough to bring you clothes.” Hongki paused, thinking over his own discussion with Taehyung about his feelings and refusal to act on them. “It’s obvious he cares about you a lot. He’d do anything to make you happy, I think.”

 

“Why do you think that?” Yoongi wondered, biting his lip. He thought that too but he was more worried about the why. If Taehyung only wanted to help him out of a sense of responsibility or pity, Yoongi didn’t really know how he’d address his feelings further.

 

Hongki sighed. “Because he told me so.”

 

“H-he did?” Yoongi asked.

 

“He did. So did Jimin and Jungkook. Everyone seems to agree on that,” Hongki explained then rubbed his face. He wasn’t stupid, he knew why Yoongi was asking. He’d seen the way Yoongi looked at Taehyung, he’d been worried by it. But his feelings didn’t matter. Yoongi was asking for help, albeit in a roundabout way, so Hongki needed to answer honestly without letting his feelings play a role. “Do you not think so?”

 

Yoongi nodded slowly. “I think… he cares about me. The way he treats me and talks to me makes that clear.”

 

“But…” Hongki trailed off, trying to get Yoongi to voice his thoughts. 

 

“I just don’t know what that means,” Yoongi admitted, biting his lip. 

 

Hongki nodded thoughtfully. “Why does it have to mean something?”

 

“What do you mean?” Yoongi asked. “It has to mean something!”


“I think caring about you is self-explanatory, what else should it mean?” Hongki asked, not willing to let Yoongi talk around the issue or back down. If he wanted advice, he had to be able to talk about what the issue was. Hongki wasn’t really sure why he was being such a stickler about it. Probably because he really was worried about Yoongi and needed to hear him talk about his feelings clearly. 

 

“Ugh, hyung,” Yoongi huffed, his voice a tad whiney like it always went when Hongki didn’t give him what he wanted when they were children. “You know what I mean.”

 

“I don’t, Yoongi. You’ll have to tell me.”

 

Yoongi huffed again, then crossed his arms defensively. “I don’t know if it’s like… care because he feels responsible for me or if he… like… cares about me.”

 

“What does that mean?” 

 

“As in likes me, likes me,” Yoongi emphasized slowly.

 

“Those are the same word,” Hongki teased, his lips kicking up in the corner.

 

“HYUNG!”

 

“Fine,” Hongki sighed. “You’re worried because you don’t know if he likes you romantically or platonically, yes?”

 

“Yes,” Yoongi repeated, pouting now. He’d just wanted advice because Hongki was a good judge of character, not to have to explain himself like this.

 

Hongki nodded. “It doesn’t matter.”

 

“W-what? How can you—” Yoongi stuttered out.

 

“It doesn’t matter,” Hongki interrupted, “because you can’t control his feelings regardless. What matters is your own.”

 

“M-my own?”

 

“Yes. How do you feel?” Hongki asked point-blank. 

 

“I don’t know,” Yoongi admitted. 

 

“Then figure that out,” Hongki said firmly. “His feelings don’t matter when deciding your own. You need to know how you feel, then go from there.”

 

“And if I never know?” Yoongi worried.

 

Hongki shrugged. “Then that means you aren’t ready. You’ve… been through a lot, Yoongi. More than most people will ever go through. It’s okay to wait and take your time. The right person will wait for you.”

 

Yoongi’s head snapped up. “The right person?”

 

“Yea, the person you’re meant to be with will wait and understand.”

 

“Taehyung said the same thing,” Yoongi whispered.

 

Hongki raised a brow, realizing that Taehyung may not have confessed but he’d certainly made his intentions known, even if Yoongi hadn’t been aware of it. Taehyung would wait until Yoongi was ready. That thought gave Hongki more comfort than he’d expected. “Sounds like a smart man.”

 

Yoongi nodded, his eyes flicking back and forth. “Can I… tell you something?”

 

“Of course, Yoongi. Anything,” Hongki agreed seriously.

 

“It’s about Tae. And my feelings.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Hesitating a moment longer, Yoongi scratched his nose. “We almost kissed. I think.”

 

“How do you not know?” Hongki asked somewhat incredulously. 

 

“Well, I hugged him and we kinda… turned at the same time and I thought… it felt like we were going to? Then he turned away and changed topics, so I don’t know,” Yoongi muttered.

 

Mentally, Hongki slapped his forehead. Taehyung was clearly not great about hiding his feelings. It was no wonder Yoongi was confused. Someone leaning forward but constantly pulling back was the mother of all mixed signals. Hongki was honestly surprised Yoongi wasn’t more confused than he currently was. But that wasn't the point. Yoongi was. “How did you feel about that?”

 

“I think…” Yoongi trailed off, remembering his thoughts at the beach. “I think I wanted him to. I think I want to be with him.”

 

Hongki nodded. “And that’s okay. But I would make sure it’s an ‘I know’ rather than an ‘I think.’ Because if you don’t know, it’s not fair to Taehyung.”

 

Yoongi nodded again. “Yea. You’re right. That… makes sense. Okay. Thanks, hyung.”

 

“I’m glad you felt you could talk to me about this, Yoongi,” Hongki said sincerely.

 

Smiling brightly, Yoongi scrunched his nose. “Of course. You’re my brother.”

 

“Yea,” Hongki breathed out. “I am. Now, let’s finish this dinner.”

 


 

A few days later, Yoongi found himself leaning back in his chair, sipping wine, with his eyes fixed on Hongki and his girlfriend, Song Sunhi. She was a tall woman, long curly hair, and a smile that he was fairly certain blinded nearby towns. She spoke in a way that Yoongi admired: quickly and confidently. There was no hesitation or worry before she spoke, especially to Yoongi, she just said what she wanted. Hongki, for the most part, was silent. But not because Sunhi spoke over him, but rather because he was too busy staring at her with the softest expression Yoongi had ever seen. Like when he was watching Seokjin and Namjoon, and Jimin and Jungkook together, Yoongi saw the love there. It radiated in an almost nauseating way. 

 

At first, he’d worried it was one-sided, that Hongki had fallen when Sunhi had no intention of catching him, but the second he’d looked away or spoken, Sunhi had looked at Hongki with much the same expression. He wasn’t sure if they’d said it to each other or not, but it was clear. At least to him. It made him wonder if it was always more obvious to people on the outside than it was to those involved, which just made him think of Taehyung again. Was it obvious, like Hongki had said? Could everyone tell how Taehyung felt about him but Yoongi?

 

His feelings don’t matter when deciding your own.

 

Yoongi knew Hongki was right. Knew he had to figure out what he wanted before he worried about what Taehyung was feeling or thinking. Trying to mimic other people’s emotions was what he’d done with Minhyuk, it was not what he wanted to do with Taehyung. Or any future partner for that matter. Equal footing meant that they both had to be aware of their emotions, even if they weren’t the same. Seokjin had told him that, so many weeks ago, when he’d explained how he and Namjoon loved each other. 

 

So, Yoongi was going to think about it. Maybe bring it up in therapy and see what his therapist had to say. If anyone would understand how he was feeling, it was the woman who’d listened to him talk about his life the past few weeks. He figured that was a solid first step. Even if he wasn’t quite sure what his feelings meant, it’d be good to talk to someone about it who literally wasn’t allowed to judge him. He knew Hongki wasn’t judging him and he knew Jimin and Jungkook wouldn’t either but he didn’t want to start telling people if he wasn’t positive.

 

How are you not positive?

 

Sipping more of his wine, Yoongi leaned down to scratch Holly’s head. When he’d sat on the beach and thought it over, he’d been so sure about what he wanted. Even if he didn’t have a word for it, he’d been sure he’d wanted Taehyung, in whatever form that came in. But now that he had talked to Hongki about it and thought it over more himself, a doubt had started to form in the back of his mind. 

 

Not because of what Hongki said, but more because of what Yoongi himself had said. 

 

Yoongi had been worried Taehyung wouldn’t like him romantically because he felt responsible for Yoongi’s well-being. But what if that’s where Yoongi’s feelings came from? Was he attached to Taehyung because he treated him well when that had been a rarity? Did he feel like he wanted to be close to him just because he touched him so softly when he’d been used to such force? Yoongi had never considered that, but once he’d voiced his worries to Hongki, it was nagging at him. 

 

Hence the therapy. Dr. Yong knew how he felt about things and where he was emotionally. He knew she couldn’t tell him how he felt but maybe she could help him sort through all this… worry. Tell him if he was just creating problems out of misplaced fear or if Hongki was right and he wasn’t ready. He just wanted to know one way or another. 

 

“Yoongi? Would you like to wash the dishes with me? I never let Hongki do it since he always cooks!” Sunhi asked, interrupting Yoongi’s rapidly swirling thoughts.

 

“Yes, of course,” Yoongi agreed, drinking the last of his wine before getting up to follow her to the kitchen. 

 

Approaching the sink, Sunhi tossed a sponge back at him, laughing brightly as Yoongi fumbled with the wet rectangle. When he narrowed his eyes at her, she only laughed harder. “You and oppa have the same expressions, I love it.”

 

“We do?” Yoongi asked, suddenly curious.

 

“Mhm,” Sunhi agreed as she grabbed a dishtowel. “Not that you two really look alike, but the way you show certain emotions is the same.”

 

“I’ve never noticed,” Yoongi admitted.

 

Sunhi shrugged. “Siblings never do. People say the same about me and my brother, but I don’t see it either.”

 

“Huh.”

 

“It’s cute though. You look at Holly the same way with this stupid, hopelessly soft expression on your faces which is why he’s so spoiled,” Sunhi observed, putting a cup away before grabbing another from Yoongi’s hand.

 

“Holly is a king.”

 

Sunhi laughed. “He is. You also show irritation the same. Like when I threw that sponge at you and got your shirt wet. All narrowed eyes and pouting lips.”

 

Yoongi snorted. “Alright, I acknowledge that one. He definitely made a similar expression when I stopped cooking dinner the other night and stared at him instead.”

 

“Why’d you stare at him?” Sunhi asked, raising a brow.

 

“Because I knew it’d piss him off,” Yoongi said honestly.

 

“God, you’re such a younger brother,” Sunghi whined, shaking her head. “Just like mine. He does the thing where he almost touches me but doesn’t. He’s like twenty-five now and still does it. You too I’m assuming?”

 

“Yup,” Yoongi agreed brightly, laughing a bit.

 

Putting down her towel slowly, Sunhi tilted her head. “There’s another one.”

 

“Another one?”

 

“Expression,” Sunhi clarified.

 

Yoongi turned his head, somewhat thrown off by the sudden serious tone. “Oh?”

 

Sunhi nodded, her manicured nail tapping on the counter as she thought. “Sometimes, when you talk, you do this… thing, with your face.”

 

“I don’t know what that means,” Yoongi said honestly.

 

“Yea, I know, I’m just trying to figure out how to say this. We literally just met,” Sunhi explained, sighing a bit. “Oppa just talks about you all the time so I feel like I know you if that makes sense.”

 

Yoongi nodded. “He talks about you a lot too. Blushed bright red when he showed me a picture.”

 

“Yea?” Sunhi asked, her cheeks tinting slightly. “That’s nice. I love him a lot. So much it’s a little scary honestly.”

 

“It scares you?” Yoongi asked, confused.

 

“It does,” Sunhi admitted. “He could leave.”

 

Yoongi blinked rapidly, his mouth opening and closing before he shook his head abruptly. “He’d never. Not when he looks at you like he does.”

 

Sunhi smiled. “Yea?”

 

“Yea,” Yoongi echoed. “He looks at you like… god, I don’t know. Like you’re all that matters ever.”

 

Nodding slightly, Sunhi grabbed the dish towel again and began to dry a plate. After a moment, she side-eyed Yoongi. “That’s the expression you two share.”

 

“What?” Yoongi asked, his brow furrowing.

 

“The way oppa looks at me is the way you look sometimes. Usually, you’re staring off into space when it happens, but the expression is the same. Who are you thinking about?”

 

Yoongi’s tongue darted out quickly, his eyes falling to the soapy water. “A… friend of mine. I think I mentioned him. Taehyung?”

 

“You did,” Sunhi agreed. “He seems nice.”

 

“He is,” Yoongi agreed softly. “He’s great.”

 

“But you’re not together,” Sunhi observed. 

 

“No, we aren’t like that. I don’t think anyway,” Yoongi admitted.

 

“Are you going to change that?”

 

Yoongi glanced up and shrugged. “Maybe? I’m not really sure if it’s the right time.”

 

“It’s never going to be the right time,” Sunhi countered. “The right time never comes because there’s always going to be something that holds you back. I’m not saying rush forward without thinking but don’t use the right time as an excuse not to move forward.”

 

“It’s more complicated than that,” Yoongi whispered. 

 

Sunhi sighed. “I know… some of your situation, Yoongi. Not a lot, Hongki only explained a bit since it’s a hard part of his life he wanted to share and then he obviously told me when he went to go see you. I’m not going to stand here and pretend I know what’s best for you, but when you feel the way you do, or think you might, it’s important to give yourself credit. Trust your feelings. They’re the truest reflection of you.”

 

“For—” Yoongi broke off, then tried again. “For a long time, that wasn’t true for me.”

 

Smiling sadly, Sunhi nodded. “I won’t say I get it, but I understand if that makes sense?”

 

“It does.”

 

Sunhi’s eyes crinkled in the corners. “But that’s not you anymore, right?”

 

“No,” Yoongi agreed, frowning down at the water. “It’s not.”

 

“So think about it,” Sunhi said softly, her hand stroking the back of Yoongi’s head softly as her eyes drifted to Hongki, who was watching them both with that expression she’d been talking about earlier. “You deserve happiness.”

 


 

After his conversation with Sunhi, the topic about his feelings and Taehyung seemed settled. Hongki didn’t bring it up again and Yoongi stopped spacing out when he should be focusing on other things. It wasn’t that he had made up his mind or come to a decision, it was simply that he had a course of action and decided to not fixate on the potential issue until after then. 

 

So he spent the last few days of his trip hanging out with Holly and Sunhi, who’d taken it upon herself to entertain him whenever Hongki was at work. He’d felt guilty at first, assuming she had better things to do, but he’d soon realized it wasn’t a chore for her. She wanted to get to know him. As far as Hongki was concerned, Yoongi was the only family either of them had. Though Yoongi was conflicted at the idea of cutting his parents out entirely, he had no desire to call or see them, so he supposed that spoke volumes. With that in mind, he enjoyed his time with Sunhi, using their time together to get to know the Hongki who lived on Jeju Island; the man with whom he’d only just reacquainted himself. It was enlightening, to say the least, and Yoongi suspected Hongki had done much the same when he had some time alone with Taehyung, Jimin, and Jungkook. 

 

Eventually, he had to go home though, return to the real world. So just after New Year's, he once again found himself in an airport. As he’d stood at his gate, his carry-on in hand, Hongki had smiled at him, his hand wrapped tightly in Sunhi’s. “You know you can always come back. Any time. I always have a spare room for you if you want it.”

 

“Thanks, hyung. I’ll try and come back often,” Yoongi agreed, hugging Hongki before switching to Sunhi. “And it was lovely to meet you. I’ll try and remember more embarrassing hyung stories for next time.”

 

“I can’t wait,” Sunhi said, pulling him into a tight hug. “Don’t forget what I said.”

 

“I won’t,” Yoongi promised, letting himself fall into her hug a bit before stepping back with a final smile. “I’ll text when I land.”

 

“Have a good flight. I love you,” Hongki waved.

 

Yoongi waved back. “I love you too, hyung. See ya soon.”

 

And with that, Yoongi boarded his flight and within an hour he was back in Seoul. When he stepped off the flight, Taehyung was already leaning against the metal separating rails, his face half-hidden by a mask. Even without seeing his mouth, Yoongi could tell he was smiling, his eyes crinkled into half-moons and his cheeks bunched up. Yoongi moved toward him quickly, his own smile radiating from somewhere deep in his chest. 

 

“Welcome back, Yoongi.”

 

“It’s good to be back,” Yoongi returned, unable to dim his smile. It felt a bit hard to breathe; there was a tight sensation in his chest like he’d been running a marathon. “I missed... Seoul.”

 

“I missed you too,” Taehyung replied, pushing off the bar. “Where to?”

 

Yoongi scrunched his nose. “Home.”

 

“Perfect, just where I want to be,” Taehyung agreed, casually taking Yoongi’s bag from him as he finally rounded the barrier and they made their way out of the airport. When they made it to Taehyung’s car, he pulled into traffic and threw Yoongi a quick glance. “Jeju agrees with you.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“Yea, you look good. Lighter,” Taehyung explained.

 

“I feel good,” Yoongi admitted. “I had a good time and hyung’s girlfriend is really nice. We’ll be attending their wedding soon enough.”

 

“We?” Taehyung repeated. “I don’t know if he likes me enough to invite me to his wedding.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened under his sunglasses. He’d meant them. As in just the two of them. As in Taehyung would be his plus one. My god, what happened to the plan of action, huh? “Ah, right. I forget you didn’t know him before like Jimin did.”

 

“Nope. But maybe I’ll get to, right?”

 

“Right,” Yoongi agreed.

 

“Now, tell me more. I want to hear everything.”

 

Smiling, Yoongi nodded, his mouth explaining the vacation in detail while his brain went over and over and over the feeling in his chest he’d felt seeing Taehyung again. He realized, rather belatedly, it had been happiness.

 

You deserve happiness.

 


 

Dr. Yong’s office, as one would expect, hadn’t changed in the time Yoongi had gone away and something about that gave Yoongi comfort. Nothing had changed but potentially his feelings. Or maybe they didn’t so much change as Yoongi had become aware of them. 

 

“Yoongi, welcome back,” Dr. Yong greeted warmly from her place just outside her office door.

 

Standing up quickly, Yoongi smiled. “Thank you.”

 

“I trust you had a good time?” Dr. Yong asked, waving Yoongi towards his usual seat, which Yoongi took easily.

 

“I did. It was relaxing and nice to see Hongki-hyung in his place, you know?”

 

“I do,” Dr. Yong agreed with a nod as she crossed her legs, placing her small notepad on her lap. 

 

Taking a deep breath, Yoongi straightened his shoulders. “I have a request for today if that’s okay.”

 

“Of course. This is your time, Yoongi.”

 

“Thank you,” Yoongi said softly, then refocused on Dr. Yong’s eyes. “I want to talk about Taehyung”

 

Barely pausing, Dr. Yong smiled slightly. “I think that’s a good idea.”

Chapter Text

When Jungkook had first left to go home for the Christmas holiday, Yoongi had thought the apartment was quiet and found himself missing Jungkook’s energy. That was even more true now that Jimin was gone as well. Not that Yoongi was surprised. He’d seen the way Jimin had missed Jungkook since he’d gone home. Yoongi had even suggested taking time off to visit since it was the beginning of the year and all the end-of-year shows that Jimin had to choreograph for were over. Jimin hadn’t really reacted to Yoongi’s suggestion at the time, only saying something about not wanting to intrude, but once Yoongi had returned to Seoul, Jimin had all but fled to Busan. He’d lasted one day, during which he’d asked Yoongi about his trip in detail and demanded to see pictures and hear all the dirt on Hongki’s mysterious girlfriend before he’d declared he was going to Busan to meet Jungkook’s family. Yoongi wasn’t exactly sure how Jimin had come to that decision but he was happy he had. He deserved to find a family that treated him right and loved him. Yoongi was positive Jungkook’s family would give him that. Mihi would allow nothing less.

 

But with Jimin gone, the apartment was even quieter than before. With just Taehyung and Yoongi around, there was barely any noise unless they were talking to each other or watching something. He knew Taehyung could be loud, he’d seen it repeatedly, but it tended to be when in the company of louder people, like say Jimin, so now that he was around Yoongi, it kinda just stayed quiet. It made him feel a bit bad, wondering if perhaps Taehyung wanted something louder and more vibrant, that was probably why he chose to live with Jimin, right? But, like always, Taehyung just seemed to know

 

“It’s so quiet, huh?” Taehyung asked, looking up from his book with a contemplative look on his face.

 

Yoongi glanced over, his fingers hovering over the keyboard of his work laptop. “It is.”

 

Taehyung nodded, a small smile playing on his lips. “It’s kinda nice.”

 

“You think so?” Yoongi wondered, biting his lip. “You don’t think it’s boring?”

 

“No?” Taehyung said, the answer coming off as a question in his confusion. “If all I needed to be entertained was noise, I’d live with Hoseok-hyung.”

 

Surprised, Yoongi snorted. “He is loud.”

 

“He is. I love it,” Taehyung agreed.

 

“Me too,” Yoongi admitted, a smile forming as he thought of Hoseok’s constant sound effects as he did pretty much anything. “It makes even boring things fun and lightens the mood.”

 

“He’s great at that.”

 

“He is. I wish I had that ability,” Yoongi said after a moment. By nature, he’d always been serious, even before, so he’d never really been the type of person to make things easier. He’d always envied people like Hoseok who could do that.

 

Frowning slightly, Taehyung shrugged. “You’re just different. He lightens the mood but you make it easier.”

 

“Easier?” Yoongi repeated, surprised to hear his own thoughts echoed back to him in the opposite way.

 

“Yea, easier,” Taehyung confirmed. “You have a comforting presence so it makes people feel relaxed and at ease when they’re around you. Not better or worse, just different.”

 

Yoongi tilted his head. “I never thought about it like that.”

 

“Really? It was one of the first things I noticed about you,” Taehyung admitted easily. 

 

“Huh,” Yoongi said.

 

“What was the first thing you noticed about me?” Taehyung wondered.

 

Blinking slowly, Yoongi felt a blush rise. Admittedly, his thoughts at the time had been muddled at best but the first time he’d ever seen Taehyung with any kind of clarity, he’d been freshly woken up and pouty from sleep. It had been adorable and Yoongi had thought so immediately. “I thought that you were good-looking.”

 

“Really?” Taehyung asked, surprise clear in his voice.

 

“Yea,” Yoongi confirmed as he returned his attention to his computer in the hopes that Taehyung wouldn’t see his blush. 

 

“Huh,” Taehyung said much as Yoongi had a few minutes prior. “Interesting.”

 

“Yup,” Yoongi said briefly, keeping his attention away from Taehyung so he wouldn’t blush even deeper. Ever since he’d talked to his therapist, it had been harder and harder for him to act normal around Taehyung. He wanted to say it was because she’d given him permission or assurances that his feelings were in the right place but that wasn’t necessarily true. She’d admitted to observing those feelings almost immediately upon his first session, but hadn’t brought them up so that Yoongi could work through them himself. Which he had while in Jeju. That hesitation had lingered though, the fear that he was latching on out of a sense of obligation or gratitude, but he didn’t think that was the case now. Dr. Yong had him work through all the relationships he’d built since coming to Seoul and explaining his feelings on them, much as Seokjin had done upon their first meeting. By doing that, he’d realized that, to some extent, everyone had helped him quite a bit. 

 

Jimin and Taehyung had given him a place to live.

 

J