Actions

Work Header

I Like You (A Lot)

Work Text:

“Jeon! Get your head in the game!”

 

“Sorry, coach!”

 

Jungkook forces his eyes away from the sight that had distracted him and quickly wipes the sweat from his forehead before sprinting back to where he was supposed to be. He really does not want to be on the coach’s bad side so early on during practice. Especially not when he’d worked so hard to get to where he is.

 

Jungkook started school at East High late. While all the students in his year were way past the awkward introductions and the petty fights that took place during freshman and sophomore year, Jungkook was lucky enough to miss it all and join at the end of sophomore year. Of course, that was a good thing, a really good thing considering how much of a struggle the start of high school life could be for teenagers with raging hormones, but it also had its obvious downsides.

 

One problem was that for the first few days he was constantly getting lost and anytime he tried to ask anyone for help on how to get to laboratory classroom nine, all he’d get in return was a flick of hair in his face or a dirty look. It was even worse that his previous school was significantly smaller with way less people and way less classrooms. Another problem was the getting used to the stairs and halls and more stairs, which more often than not were slippery from being recently mopped and crowded with students rushing to get to class. Jungkook doesn’t even want to think about how many times he has almost fallen down one out of the dozens of staircases in the school and almost faced complete and utter humiliation. One of the main problems, however, was the fitting in. Probably a bit cliché and something we’ve all heard a million times in all sorts of books, movies, and television series that ran on way longer than they needed to. But it’s true.

 

You see, when Jungkook first stepped foot into the school, backpack straps clutched tightly in both of his hands, it was glaringly obvious that there were divisions. One could easily make out each different group that was spread around the wide hallway, some shuffling through their lockers, others sitting on the glistening floors, leaning up against the walls with headphones shoved on. There were the geeks, pushing each other around, probably acting out their favourite anime scenes. There were the nerds, glasses pushed all the up to the bridges of their noses that they kept stuck in the textbooks they were reading together. There were the skaters with their baggy (and saggy) jeans and beanies, seated not very far away with skateboards leant up beside them. There were the musicians and thespians who often stuck pretty close together as they discussed what he could only presume was the upcoming end of year show. And last, but definitely not least, were the jocks, dribbling around their basketballs down the hallway loudly, much like a group of passionate zoo animals. All of this was going on around him and he had yet to be a part of any group.

 

Now, these were all pretty understandable problems for someone like Jungkook who had started at the school almost two years later than everyone else after his father got promoted and moved him and his family to the other side of the country. But he’s happy to say that he’s now overcome them all after only a few months. A few months into junior year and he can now basically walk around the school with his eyes closed without getting lost. His father had bought him a new pair of trainers with extra grip at the bottom, so no more almost accidentally slipping down the wet stairs and cracking his head open and harbouring unfavourable attention in the process. And best of all, just before the end of sophomore year (merely a few months after he started school here), he had managed to land himself a spot on the basketball team, meaning he’s a part of the animalistic jocks that he now considers to be his second family.

 

But Jungkook is lying to you. Because there’s one last problem that he hasn’t mentioned, that he can’t , for the life of him, overcome. If we rewind back to his first time entering the hallway, with all that had been going on around him, it wasn’t the people slipping on the shiny floors or the geeks fighting or the musicians chattering or even the jocks hollering, that had caught his attention first. No, the first thing Jungkook had placed his eyes on was Kim Taehyung.

 

Even to this day, Jungkook remembers being awestruck at the beauty that is Kim Taehyung. He remembers standing at the entrance with his feet glued to the floor. He remembers the oversized white shirt, the plaid trousers and the matching red beret perched on dyed dirty blond hair. He remembers wide yet asserting eyes looking at him but not really at him and he remembers the pouted out, glossy pink lips coming right towards him but not really for him. Because he also remembers being barged past. He remembers the way Taehyung had shouldered right past him and through the doors that Jungkook stood in front of, seemingly not having seen him there at all, leaving him with only a whiff of cologne in his wake.

 

And since that moment, Jungkook has been gone.

 

“He’s too busy drooling over Kim Taehyung.” The sound of Seokjin’s voice snaps him out of it.

 

“No I’m not!” Jungkook assures, ruffling up his long, damp hair slightly when it gets too close to his eyes.

 

“You so are, man,” he hears Yoongi say from the other end of the court. Really? He thought at least their team captain would have his back. “I can see it all the way from here.”

 

“Okay, okay. Enough teasing,” coach Min, Yoongi’s father who Jungkook now likes better than Yoongi himself, says. “Back to the game.”

 

And then just because Jungkook is weak, he chances one more glance to where he can see students making their way down the pathway, en route to the theatre. Their after school practice is on the outdoor court today, despite the cooler weather, and it gives Jungkook a clear view of Kim Taehyung and Jung Hoseok strutting past and attracting all the attention. It’s nothing new, but people literally part ways for them and honestly, it’s what Jungkook would do too if he was in their shoes. Who is he kidding? That’s a complete lie since he had been in their shoes and he had just stood there staring like an idiot while Taehyung barged-

 

“Jeon, I swear to god!”

 

Jungkook startles. “Sorry, coach!”

 

Taehyung turns the corner and this time Jungkook properly focuses his attention on what he’s supposed to be focusing it on. The practice match. After all, Taehyung doesn’t even know he exists.

 

Jungkook keeps his head in the game for the rest of practice. It’s tough since they’re working for the winter championships in about a month’s time and by the end of it every single one of them are drenched in sweat, despite how the icy wind blows past every so often. It’s not long before the entire team is back in the changing room and the mirrors have fogged up from all the heat and heavy breathing.

 

They mess around for a while, now that coach Min has retreated back to his office and isn’t here to tell them off. It starts off as just Yoongi and Namjoon play fighting with the smaller of the two very obviously in a bit of trouble. Namjoon has him in a headlock but everyone knows that it’s more playful than actually painful. When Yoongi has tapped out multiple times, Seokjin decides to join in and by the time Jungkook joins too, the whole team is stacking up into a doggy pile with their team captain red faced and at the bottom, squished against the floor. Jungkook uses the distraction of everyone laughing, to sit right on top of Lucas, taking a seat like it’s his throne. He feels accomplished when he hears a number of different groans coming from beneath him.

 

“Jeon, get off you heavy fuck!” he thinks he hears Seokjin shout.

 

“Ow, my elbow!” This time it’s Jonah.

 

“Jungkook!” comes a gruff voice and that’s definitely Yoongi.

 

Just because Jungkook is kind of soft for Yoongi, he finally decides to get off. He remembers it like it was yesterday when Yoongi had welcomed him into the basketball team after seeing him play for less than ten minutes. Yoongi who made him feel welcome, despite being new and clueless. Yoongi is someone who Jungkook owes a lot to and someone who he is so grateful for having. When it comes to books and movies, it seems like the popular captain jock is always painted out to be some evil bully but Jungkook knows Yoongi is far from that. Despite his popularity, he’s one of the nicest people he’s ever met and the entire school knows that too.

 

“Saw you drooling during practice.” And there’s his teasing voice again after he’s managed to get out of the human tower. Who was he kidding? Jungkook hates Yoongi.

 

“I hate you.”

 

“You love me.” Jungkook gives Yoongi a pointed look and begins shredding his clothes just to show him that he is not listening to him. “But not as much as you love Tae-”

 

Jungkook drops his trousers in order to clasp his hand around Yoongi’s mouth, stopping him from continuing on as he glances around quickly. “Shoosh,” he hisses, “they might hear.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes crinkle up and it’s obvious he’s laughing under Jungkook’s hand. Jungkook is only proven correct when he easily pushes the hand away, smirk gracing his uncovered lips. “Everyone and their goldfish knows about your massive crush on him. We all also know that he doesn’t know who you are.”

 

“Are we talking about the school’s biggest diva?” pipes in Namjoon. “Sorry, Kook, he’s right.”

 

As if things couldn’t get worse, Jooheon starts speaking too because apparently the entire locker room is in on the private conversation that he and Yoongi had been having. “Forget knowing who he is. Taehyung doesn’t even know Jungkook exists .”

 

“Yeah, I feel kind of bad.” That’s Seokjin. “Jungkook stares at him with heart eyes and yet-”

 

“Guys, don’t you think that’s enough,” Jungkook whines, plopping himself down on a bench. He’s this close to sitting there with his head in his hands but that would probably be too over-dramatic.

 

“We’re just trying to help you, Kook,” Yoongi butts in, taking a seat behind him to rub at his sweaty back. “Quietly pining over the ice prince probably isn’t a good idea. Why not go for one of the cheerleaders or something? Us basketball players always go for the cheerleaders.”

 

Jungkook doesn’t reply to that. He knows it’s the truth and it would probably be for the best if he did just start dating one of the cheerleaders that would do anything to be with one of the star players. But it’s definitely easier said than done. Jungkook has tried, of course he has. He waited for Lara after her practice, he took Asa on a date to an ice-cream parlour, he even went to a weird dance with Yugyeom, but none of those ‘relationships’ worked out. And every single one of them ended for the same reason. Jungkook just couldn't be with someone when his mind was always occupied with a completely different person. The only reason he’s still on good terms with all the cheerleaders he’s tried to date, is because he’s a nice person and it’s something he prides himself in.

 

Some would call it a crush, others would call it infatuation and a few would even call it puppy love. Whatever you wanted to think, Jungkook would probably agree because he feels absolutely everything under the sun that there is to feel towards Kim Taehyung. Despite having never spoken to him before.

 

By now, the sun has set. They leave the locker room loudly, some of the guys still having so much energy that Jungkook is kind of worried for them. They’re off for a Friday night movie marathon at Yoongi’s with promises of snacks and drinks and honestly, Jungkook is excited. However, the arm that Namjoon has secured around his shoulder as they walk down the pathway towards the school gates, does little to hold him back when he hears the sound of loud music.

 

“And then I told him that I will not be doing biochem at university, no matter what he-” It’s probably a bit rude to cut Namjoon’s storytelling off by pulling away from his arm but he knows Namjoon won’t take it the wrong way.

 

“I’m just- I’ll be-”

 

“Go, Kook,” the taller man ushers, speeding up slightly to catch up with the others. “I’ll tell them you’ll be there in a few.”

 

Jungkook smiles, feeling a sense of warmth rise through his body. “Thanks, Namjoon. Thank you so-”

 

“Just go already!” Namjoon chuckles over his shoulder and who is Jungkook to deny?

 

Jungkook backtracks all the way towards the outdoors courts again, following the sound of the echoing music. As he gets closer, the voices become apparent too and Jungkook has to force down the excitement, as he all but sprints to the entrance of the auditorium. It’s all become second nature to him at this point so he easily strides through the hallways until he reaches the very back of the room, entering discreetly through the small open door. From here he doesn’t get the best view, but it’s not too bad. 

 

Anyway, he’s used to it. Used to sitting at the seats closest to the exits at the very back of the massive auditorium. Used to shuffling himself down so that the seat in front of him covers any evidence that would show he’s there. Used to peeking his eyes over the top of the seat just right so that he can see everything going on at the stage. Used to watching Taehyung from a distance.

 

Tonight, Taehyung and Hoseok seem to be practicing hard. Hoseok is currently singing, skipping around Taehyung with his bedazzled red microphone held high to his mouth, as a few other people move around the stage too. Jungkook holds his breath as he watches Taehyung begin to raise his own mic, waiting to hear that beautiful voice he’s grown to be captivated by. But just as he hears Taehyung take a breath something seems to go wrong and he’s snapping his head to the side, blond hair bouncing with the movement.

 

“That’s the wrong key!” he roars, halting the music entirely.

 

“I’m sorry, I-” comes a smaller voice from who Jungkook assumes is the music technician, only to be interrupted by Taehyung again.

 

“And what have I said about the apologies?” he scolds, much like he’s talking to a child. “It wastes time so just get on with it. In the right key this time!”

 

Jungkook feels one corner of his lips rise slightly, an unintentional and unstoppable smile that he always seems to get when Taehyung is around. ‘ So feisty, ’ he thinks, letting out a tiny chuckle that he just can’t hold back. Then because he’s wasting way too much time up in his own head and thoughts he turns his attention back to Taehyung. The most important thing in this entire room.

 

The music fills the auditorium again and people start moving around on stage with Taehyung and Hoseok in the centre. It takes a while, but soon Taehyung is the one singing letting his voice shine as he professionally performs to what he thinks is an empty room. Jungkook has always been enamoured by Taehyung’s voice. Ever since he first stumbled across this very hall on his second day at East High, only to find Taehyung sitting at a piano and singing his little heart out, he has been enamoured . The deep, velvety voice with so much soul and passion in there, that Jungkook could only stand on his spot at the entrance with his mouth hanging open. He’d been lucky that Taehyung was alone at the time and so no one could point out that the creepy new kid was staring at him, because he’d stayed there for a good twenty minutes as Taehyung sang a few different songs.

 

Although the first time he’d seen Taehyung he’d been shoved away, that second day of school is the memory that actually stuck in Jungkook’s brain the most. Because while he was there, thinking he was alone and free, Taehyung was the most vulnerable.

 

Even now, as Jungkook pushes himself up slightly in the red auditorium seat, he can tell the difference. Taehyung singing surrounded by people is completely different to Taehyung singing by himself. They’re both beautiful but still so very different.

 

And Jungkook feels privileged to have been able to listen to them both.



●●●



“Honey, you were home late today. What did you get up to?”

 

Jungkook pokes at the piece of meat his mother had placed on top of his noodles with his chopsticks. She’s a great cook but Jungkook thinks there could be a tad bit more salt.

 

“We went to have snacks at Yoongi’s after practice,” Jungkook replies, smiling at his mother despite his critical thoughts. “Sorry I forgot to call and let you know.”

 

“No worries, honey,” she says with a shake of her head, “I was just curious. Not telling you off.”

 

“Eomma, he’s lying,” Joonho - Jungkook’s annoying twelve year old brother - interrupts. Despite them living in the US, it only feels natural for them to keep up the Korean formalities. “He was out with his new boyfriend.” Jungkook promptly shuts him up by kicking his foot under the table. “Ouch!” It’s times like this where Jungkook wishes he didn’t trust his younger brother so much because everything he tells him almost always gets out to the rest of their family, more often than not, twisted and far from the truth.

 

Luckily though, his parents don’t mention anything more on the topic though he does see his mother’s slight smirk.

 

“Kook, how is practice going?” This time it’s his father speaking, mouth full of meat. His glasses are fogged up slightly from the steam coming from the warm food and Jungkook just about manages to contain a laugh.

 

“It’s going good, appa,” Jungkook nods, tapping his foot nervously on the floor. It’s not that he’s lying per se, but everytime the topic of basketball comes up with his dad, he wants nothing more than to please him. Joonho sniggers from across the table and in an attempt to cover it up, Jungkook continues with, “we’re getting ready for the upcoming tournament.”

 

His father nods, seemingly happy with the response before going back to his food. Jungkook sighs out in relief.

 

“I’m so sorry,” his mother says, changing the topic, “it seems like I haven’t added enough salt to the meat.”

 

“I like it,” Joonho responds, chowing down his food like a hoover taking in dirt and dust. It’s to be expected from a growing prepubescent. “But I bet Jungkook hyung was thinking the same thing as you.”

 

“Shut up,” Jungkook mutters, kicking his brother again despite the truth to his words. Only this time, he gets kicked back by small, sweaty feet and it isn’t long before they’re feet fighting.

 

“Boys,” their mother warns and after one last kick and a look that says ‘you better watch out’ Jungkook pulls away from Joonho. They’ll have fun wrestling later.

 

The rest of their family dinner passes by in a comfortable silence and before he knows it, Jungkook is being forced into the kitchen for dish duty, even though it was supposed to be Joonho’s turn today. Either way, Jungkook gets to work as his mother rushes around to put things away.

 

It isn’t until Jungkook has dried the last plate and he’s on his way out of the kitchen to retreat to his room for the night, that his mother stops him with a hand on his arm. “I got the ingredients you asked for,” she says, keeping her voice hushed. “Packed them all away so your dad won't notice.”

 

Jungkook smiles gratefully, already excited to try cooking the French dish he had researched about the day before. “Thanks, eomma.”

 

“No worries. Just make sure I get to taste some.”

 

You see, Jungkook’s dream is to become a chef. Up until now, you’ve known him as the guy who plays basketball and has a massive crush on the school’s ice prince. But that isn't fully him. Because ever since he was old enough to reach the stove, he’s been cooking, helping his mother prepare food while his father had been at work in his office. At the age of seven, he made his very first egg omelette. At ten, he could bake cakes, cupcakes and cookies with ease, perfecting the flavours after each try. At fifteen, he was fully capable of cooking all the bright red and orange coloured Korean dishes that his mother usually made, and has even been told (by the woman herself) that they taste better than anything she’s ever made. And now, at the ripe age of seventeen, Jungkook currently has a deep interest in the French and their cuisine, with the internationally known Crème Brûlée next on his to try list.

 

But with every aspiring young adult in our day and age comes the worry of letting their parents down. Or in Jungkook’s case, letting his parent down, more specifically his father. From a young age his father had it all planned out for him. Play basketball throughout high school and university while still keeping up with academics and eventually graduating to join a business or start his own and maybe link it to sports. As much as Jungkook liked that idea when he was younger, it just isn’t for him anymore and he’s certain at this point that he wants to go to culinary school. This is something only his mother and younger brother know about out of the eight billion people in the world.

 

“Hyung?” come a voice followed by a knock on the other side of his door. Then without an answer from Jungkook, Joonho is walking in with messy hair and half closed eyes. “I can’t sleep.”

 

Jungkook chuckles, patting the spot on his bed beside him. “You look pretty sleepy to me,” he says, ruffling up Joonho’s hair further.

 

“Can you tell me more of your stories?”

 

And Jungkook is weak. Despite the fact that Joonho is older now, he still insists on Jungkook telling him made up bedtime stories, just like they used to when they were younger. He’s too soft for his brother and it’s for that reason that he nods even if most of the stories are barely made up anymore.

 

But then Joonho is speaking again as he snuggles up under Jungkook’s covers. “I want the real made up stories.” Because, of course, Joonho is old enough to know this.

 

Jungkook narrows his eyes before flicking his brother on the forehead. “I don’t think I’ll tell you anymore of the real stories since you always end up telling everyone.”

 

It takes quite a bit of begging and empty promises about the fact that he ‘won’t tell a single soul’ but soon enough, Joonho is properly tucked up and Jungkook has succumbed to his brother’s requests.

 

“Once upon a time, there was a knight. A very handsome knight, with freshly polished armour and a sharpened sword. He had big muscles, bright eyes, perfectly white teeth, a high nose bridge-”

 

“Hyung, you’re not that handsome.”

 

Jungkook sputters. “It’s not me!”

 

“Yeah yeah and I’m not eomma and appa’s favourite son. See, we’re both lying.”

 

Jungkook momentarily thinks about how sassy his younger brother has gotten and decides that he can wrestle him and show him who’s boss tomorrow. He’s too tired right now. So he continues with, “the knight was just overall, a very good looking guy. He’d started work at a royal palace, far from his home village, and was given the task of guarding at the gates. He’d stand there for hours, along with other knights, and would watch as people passed in and out of the palace.”

 

“But?” Joonho urges, knowing Jungkook all too well.

 

But,” Jungkook says with a chuckle, “he never really enjoyed it. What he enjoyed more was seeing the palace’s catering staff bringing in massive containers of food and tupperware, every single day for the royal family’s meals. The knight wanted nothing more than to work with them in the kitchen, even if it meant spending hours on his feet, rushing around to create the most delicious dish.”

 

“Please tell me he got promoted.”

 

“How do you even know what that means?”

 

Joonho shrugs, jostling the duvet slightly. “Isn’t that what happened to appa when we moved here?”

 

“You’re too clever,” Jungkook concludes, flicking his brother’s forehead for the nth time that evening. “And you’re right. He finally got promoted to work in the palace rather than outside it and his new job was to guard the nighttime chambers while the royal family slept. Still not in the kitchen but at least he was closer to it now, than when he was outside the palace.”

 

“Let me guess. This is where you meet Taehyung.” Again, Jungkook flicks his forehead, immediately shutting him up. At this rate, his brother won’t be very clever anymore, considering how many brain cells he’s losing with each flick.

 

“For the last time, this story isn’t about me.”

 

“I think it is.”

 

“No it isn’t, you brat.”

 

“Yes it is, hyung,” Joonho whines. “In fact, I can finish the story. The knight spends his shifts dreaming about the kitchen when suddenly he hears a sound. He follows the noise until he’s stood near the stained glass windows where he spots the royal prince wearing a nightgown, probably because he snuck out of his room while the knight was busy up in his head.”

 

No-”

 

“And then the knight realises he’s fallen in love with something other than cooking.”

 

“No, that isn’t-”

 

“But in the end he never gets any of those loves to love him back because his job is to be a guard and a knight not a cook, and prince Taehyung doesn’t even spare the knight a single glance.” Joonho looks up at Jungkook from where his head is nestled into the pillow. “I’m right, aren’t I?”

 

Jungkook hates to admit it, but apparently his stories have just gotten way too predictable for Joonho. Because everything he’s just said is what Jungkook had planned on saying. He sighs. “I guess you are.”

 

Jungkook didn’t even know this was possible from a twelve year old, but Joonho looks at him with wide eyes, showcasing nothing but pity. Because he really is clever and he seems to know Jungkook more than anyone in this world. Before he can tell his brother that he has no reason to look so upset though, a shout can be heard from across the hall.

 

“Boys!” calls their mother. “Lights out!”

 

Jungkook flicks off his lamp and snuggles up in his duvet beside Joonho, making sure to leave plenty of space to his right where his bed ends and leads to the hard, wooden floor. He knows all too well how that very wood feels on the back of his head, after being pushed out of bed by a sleeping Joonho approximately nine times. It’s silent around them for a long while and Jungkook forces his brain to stay put and not wander towards images of cutting boards and curly blond hair because lord knows, he would never be able to sleep if that happened. It’s so quiet that he thinks Joonho’s fallen asleep and he thinks maybe it’s time for him to sleep too.

 

But then Joonho’s tired voice is speaking up again, coming out quiet and airy, almost as if he’s on the brink of being pulled away to dreamland. “Hyung?”

 

“Yeah, Joonie?”

 

“Why do your stories always have sad endings?”

 

Jungkook tries to think it through for a moment but in the end, that little bit of hope bubbling up in the pits of his stomach does the talking for him.

 

“They’re not sad. They’re just incomplete.”



●●●



“Why is Yoongi staring into space like that?” asks a suspicious looking Seokjin as he stuffs his face with sloppy cafeteria mash potato.

 

Jungkook looks up from his own food to find that Yoongi is, in fact, completely gone. He holds his fork in one hand and knife in the other but the food in front of him remains untouched as he stares up at the ceiling, mouth hanging open.

 

“He met a boy,” comes Namjoon’s muffled reply. “He told me he met him during New Year’s and never got his number and surprise, surprise, mystery boy transferred here to East High.”

 

Jungkook makes a noise of realisation. “Park Jimin?” he asks, to which Namjoon shrugs and goes back to his food. Apparently at the name, Yoongi becomes aware again, snapping his eyes towards Jungkook. “He’s in my chemistry class,” Jungkook clarifies, recalling how the new boy was forced to stand up at the front of the class and introduce himself this morning.

 

“He’s in your chemistry class?” Yoongi exclaims, leaning closer.

 

“Yep, that’s what I said.”

 

“I’ll take chem for you. Please, just let me-”

 

“You can’t just pretend to be me!” Jungkook can’t believe what he’s hearing. Is Yoongi really that enamoured by the new boy? Sure, when Jungkook saw him this morning he did think he was cute, and it was cool that he’s Korean too. Not to mention how intelligent he’d been during the class, correcting Mrs Jones when she’d written the wrong answer up on the board. He’d also seemed to be chatty and a social butterfly, making friends with all the people around him and- oh. It shouldn’t be too shocking that Yoongi is so head over heels when Park Jimin seemingly is an angel.

 

“People say we look alike,” Yoongi urges, nodding almost manically.

 

“We look nothing alike!”

 

“Come on, Jungkook! Just this one favour.”

 

“Yoongi, you are ridiculous!” Jungkook says, keeping his ground. If he’s being honest, he’s disappointed in his other friends for not helping. “You’re honestly so stupid. How do you expect-”

 

Jungkook promptly shuts his mouth as soon as his nose senses the smell of almond and something sweet. Strawberries, maybe? He barely hears the “and he’s gone,” coming from Seokjin and instead focuses his eyes on Kim Taehyung, who’s standing a mere metre away from their table. He doesn’t mean to stare but that’s impossible when he’s stood so close and has his icy, brown eyes pointed at them. Them being the table of jocks. Jungkook tries to close his mouth when he feels the inside of it start to get dry but he can’t because Kim Taehyung is right there and even if he isn’t exactly looking at Jungkook, he’s still there and Jungkook - sitting right at the end of the table - is actually the closest to him compared to the rest of the boys. Jungkook’s never been this star stuck in his life.

 

“Can you tall, sweaty, overly muscled pigs keep it down?” Taehyung commands, seemingly looking everyone in the eye except for Jungkook. “We’re trying to discuss the musical auditions that are taking place tomorrow and you jocks are not making it easy for us.”

 

Jungkook blinks.

 

“Of course, prince Kim,” mocks Namjoon from Jungkook’s right and the sound of it has him snapping his eyes to his friend in warning. But obviously Namjoon doesn’t listen. “Is there anything else you ask of us peasants?” And the look on Taehyung’s face, pointed eyes directing right past his head at Namjoon, has Jungkook immediately knowing that his friend has fucked up. Big time.

 

“I know you,” Taehyung says, walking around Jungkook to stand right behind him and in front of Namjoon. At this point almost the whole room full of students eating, has hushed as people pay attention to what’s going on between two of the most popular people (from completely different groups) in the school. “You’re Kim Namjoon.” Jungkook probably shouldn’t but he can’t help but spin around in his seat entirely so that he can look up at Taehyung’s face, still glaring at Namjoon. “You’re failing in both chemistry and calculus. At the end of last year, you forged your report card which your parents still don’t know about. You play centre in basketball and you always get in trouble for not controlling your long arms well enough which have somehow led to many basketballs being ‘mysteriously’ popped.”

 

Jungkook takes one second to drag his eyes away from Taehyung and instead looks at a few of his friends seated around the table. They all seem to be in shock, mouths hanging open and eyes wide. Namjoon looks absolutely petrified. So that’s what happened to all those balls! Jungkook feels his lips almost quirk up into a smile but he forces it away and turns back to Taehyung, just in time to hear the last of his little Namjoon speech.

 

“Oh and,” Taehyung says, making a show of whispering though he's not being quiet at all, “none of your little jock friends know that you’re hooking up with Mia from the dance club.”

 

Jungkook hears Seokjin’s over dramatic gasp and he even sees a few other students whispering amongst one another at the new information. Jungkook kind of wants to join in, maybe tease Namjoon about keeping it a secret, but he can’t really do that when he can barely remove his eyes from Taehyung’s raised brow and smirking lips.

 

“I-” he hears Namjoon cough out, but Taehyung speaks again.

 

“I have a lot more I can say but I’d much rather get back to talking about the auditions,” Taheyung says matter of factly, pointing at a grinning Hoseok who’s sat a few tables away. “Of course, that’s only if you’ll let me, Namjoon?”

 

A few sniggers can be heard from around the room, almost entirely concealing Namjoon’s stuttered reply. “I- yeah. Sure. Go ahead.”

 

And that's enough for Taehyung to nod once before flicking his short blond locks slightly and clicking away in- are those Gucci slippers? Jungkook can only stare after him, making the most of the remaining scent of almond. It isn’t until the cafeteria has filled with noise again and the team has started scolding Namjoon, albeit quieter than before, that he looks away from Taheyung who is in a deep conversation with Hoseok.

 

“Why would you do that, you asshat?” Seokjin exclaims.

 

“You have a deathwish?” snarls Jonah.

 

“Are you really dating Mia? Man, you know how much I like her!” whines Lucas.

 

“But Taehyung didn’t have to be that mean? What a diva,” Yoongi reasons, forever the peacemaker. It’s those words from their captain that has them all nodding in agreement, already planning a way to sabotage the auditions tomorrow. 

 

But Jungkook takes that time to let his eyes backtrack to Taehyung who’s now smiling away at something Hoseok has said. But as soon as he turns back he’s not surprised to find all eyes on him.

 

Through his Taehyung induced daze, he lets out the first thing that comes to mind. “He’s an angel,” he sighs with a hand clutched over his heart, smiling up at the ceiling because anything is better than his teammates (most probably) betrayed faces.

 

He doesn’t even pay attention to what any of them have to say about that.



●●●



Jungkook startles awake to a loud sound ringing all the way through his ears to the rest of his body. He sits up quickly, neck aching from the way he’d just fallen asleep on his desk in such an awkward position, then looks around dazedly. He wipes drool from the corner of his lips and then-

 

Suddenly the loud sound comes again and Jungkook almost falls out of his chair. He follows where the sound came from with his eyes, ready to tell whoever it was off, when his eyes land on Mr Roberts with his signature ruler in his hand, looking like he’s about to smack it down on the table again, and a scolding look coming from behind his glasses.

 

“Mr Jeon,” he says, dragging out the words in reprimand. And then Jungkook is suddenly aware that he’d fallen asleep in his English class, where the school’s strictest teacher resides. “Asleep again?”

 

“I’m sorry, I-”

 

“Nope, this is the second time this week and it’s only Tuesday!” Mr Roberts interrupts and Jungkook decides to ignore the laughs from the few of his friends that are in this class with him. “Two hours after school,” he adds on, before stalking back to the front of the class.

 

And normally Jungkook would just accept his fate and go with it, never talk back to the teacher, but then he remembers. Today is Taehyung’s audition. “No, please,” he rushes out, “please, I can do it tomorrow or-”

 

“My mind’s already made up, Jungkook,” the beer-bellied teacher murmurs into his cup of coffee, “and I expect you here. My room could use a bit of dusting.”

 

Jungkook sighs and slumps back in his chair. This is a disaster. He was lucky enough that he wasn’t supposed to have basketball practice today which means he could have easily made it to Taehyung’s audition but apparently the universe has other plans for him. 

 

Jungkook sulks for the rest of the day. His ‘friends’ constantly make fun of him about it (apart from Yoongi who seems to have a confused look etched into his features, no doubt busy thinking about the new boy) and he has to keep shoving them off of him when they ruffle his hair teasingly. How annoying. And to make things even worse, he has to force himself not to go up to Taehyung and apologise for not being able to make his audition because even Jungkook knows how lame that would be when he’s never spoken a single word to the guy in his life. Not to mention that Taehyung would probably be creeped out by a stranger talking to him as if he cares about him not showing up to the audition.

 

After school, Jungkook rushes to Mr Roberts’ room, barely leaving his friends a goodbye. He makes it there faster than he’s ever made it for actual classes and he’s slightly annoyed to find that the teacher isn’t even there. Nonetheless, Jungkook gets to work, using his initiative and hoping to show Mr Roberts that he deserves to leave earlier.

 

Jungkook picks up all the tiny pieces of paper, rearranges the textbooks shelf, stacks the chairs up onto the desks and even cleans off the whiteboard until it’s sparkling. By the time he’s finished and Mr Roberts is back, he’s out of breath and standing near the door with his hands clasped in front of him. He feels accomplished at the sight of the teacher with his shocked expression, looking around and seemingly proud.

 

“So, can I go now?” Jungkook rushes out, pleading to his teacher with his eyes.

 

But that man just happens to be pure evil. “I need you to wait by the printer in the office. Then you can bring me all the worksheets I have prepared for tomorrow’s classes.”

 

Jungkook feels his eyes light up. “And then?” he prompts.

 

Mr Roberts sighs. “And then you can go home.” Jungkook nods, then rushes out of the classroom, feeling his heart pick up pace at his excitement. Little does Mr Roberts know, he is not going to be going home anytime soon.

 

But just because the universe hates Jungkook so much, he’s forced to stand next to the massive staffroom printer, watching as paper after paper comes out, for the next ten minutes. Ten whole minutes of printing paper! Once he’s sprinted back to Mr Roberts’ room with the warm stack of papers in hand, he doesn’t even say a word, doesn’t bother to give the teacher a piece of his mind like he wants to, and instead sprints straight back out again.

 

He runs. He literally runs because ten minutes is a long time. Long enough for an audition act to be completed. He runs down the hall, outside past the bleachers and outdoor basketball courts and through another long winding hallway until he’s reached the auditorium. He tiptoes in as quickly as his legs can carry him but when he notices how quiet it is, he knows he’s too late. He reaches his usual spot at the very back of the room, even settles down and hides as best as he can, but it’s a lost cause at this point, Because even the main stage lights are switched off.

 

Jungkook feels so upset that he doesn’t even move for a while. Doesn’t bother to take his eyes off of the spot he’s seen Taehyung dance and sing in multiple times. He doesn’t even try to get rid of the pout that’s surely at his lips. He’d been so excited to see Taehyung perform and most definitely get the role and now he’s blown it. He hadn’t even heard a single note.

 

After a while of self pity, Jungkook stands from his seat, ready to get out of there and sulk for the rest of the evening, when he hears it. The opening chord of a song.

 

Jungkook promptly pushes himself back down into the seat and squints to finally catch sight of three people on stage, one sat in front of the grand piano and two stood right beside it, albeit tentatively. Jungkook can easily tell none of them are Taehyung and that has the hope - that had been rising in his chest - dying in an instant. Jungkook holds back the urge to shift a few seats closer when he’s sure he recognises one of the figures, and instead squints harder. They’re not using microphones connected to the auditorium speakers but Jungkook is certain the two standing people are singing now, turning to look at each other every chance they get. From what he can hear, they sound good together despite there being an obvious shyness to their performance.

 

It’s safe to say Jungkook is left completely and utterly gobsmacked when he finally realises who one of them actually is. It’s fairly dramatic, the way he has to rub his eyes to assure himself he isn’t dreaming. But sure enough, there on stage is Yoongi. His basketball captain. Yoongi, who is singing his heart out with the boy next to him.

 

Jungkook has never heard him sing before but he will admit that he sounds quite good. Especially while he sings with the person he looks at with bright red cheeks that even from here, Jungkook can easily spot. But then Jungkook remembers how serious Yoongi is about basketball, how he always makes sure their team isn’t taking part in any other extracurricular activities, just so that they can put their all into the sport. Suddenly Jungkook feels like he’s intruding.

 

And so he hurries out of there with his mind a jumbled mess.

 

Jungkook has always gone along with whatever the rest of the team said. He assumed that all of them focused mainly on basketball with no other priorities. He assumed that he was the only one with a craving in his heart to do something else other than basketball. 

 

He’s not angry at Yoongi, of course he isn’t. If anything, he’s proud of him. For listening to what his heart’s probably been telling him and doing what he wants to do, but he isn’t so sure the rest of the team would be happy if they found out about this. After all, Yoongi has always been the one to push the mindset into them, reminding them every single practice that basketball is where they should be.

 

Jungkook drags his feet down the path, eyes up at the now darkened sky. He pulls his varsity jacket tighter around himself when a considerably chilly gust of wind wafts past him. He eyes the basketball court that he’s spent hours and hours in then looks back up at the clear, dark blue sky. He imagines what life would be like if he’d chosen the cookery club geeks as his niche rather than the jocks. Obviously, he loves his teammates, is happy to have found a sort of family in them, but he can’t help but wonder.

 

In order to play basketball, you need a strong passion for it. Jungkook likes basketball but after seeing Yoongi perform he can’t help but admit to himself, his passion lies elsewhere. His passion lies in cooking. And cooking is what he wants to do with his life.

 

Jungkook sighs, keeping his eyes up at the sky as he shuffles down the pavement, making his way home. He wonders what it would be like to fly up into that night sky, away from any impending pop quizzes, basketball matches or future employment dilemmas. He wants to go up and up and up.

 

But suddenly, Jungkook is falling down and down and down. He lands rather harshly on the pavement, doing a full on somersault over the massive lump he’d just tripped on. That’s odd, he thinks, because he’s walked down this path countless times and he doesn’t remember there being a speedbump here. His thoughts, however, are proven wrong when he turns in his seat on the cold floor, to find somebody hunched over, staring at something intently on the ground, acting like a speedbump.

 

“You almost stepped on Ryan!” comes a disgruntled voice and it’s safe to say Jungkook is in complete shock when he realises who it is.

 

“Taehyung?” he says before his brain can catch up. And apparently Taehyung is just as shocked as him because the sound of his name is enough to have his eyes shooting up from where he’d been staring at… a caterpillar?

 

“Who are you?” he asks, any shock gone from his features and replaced with a sense of chagrin. As if to add to the sassiness, he tucks a lock of blond hair behind his ear.

 

You see, Jungkook knew Taehyung had no idea who he was but now that that has been reinforced through Taehyung’s very words, he’s sure he hears the process of his heart breaking into two. Even then, he can’t quite process that this is actually happening. He’s talking to Kim Taehyung! After months and months of helplessly ogling from a distance, he finally gets to see him up close and Taehyung is actually acknowledging him. Jungkook can’t believe his luck. He lets himself smile at Taehyung, finding the way he’s sitting cross-legged on the pavement very endearing. Even if Jungkook did trip over him and land very unceremoniously on the floor, he can’t help but want to live through it again if it means he gets to land in this position, right in front of Taehyung, again.

 

“If you’re not even going to say anything, I’ll just leave,” Taehyung is saying then, with a roll of his eyes. It’s really cute. “I’ve just had an amazing audition and I deserve a rest.” Jungkook immediately realises, he’s almost messed this chance up.

 

Jungkook has never been this straightforward, has never been able to gather his guts enough to try to speak to Taehyung himself but he thinks all this sudden confidence has something to do with watching Yoongi go after his dreams. Before Taehyung can even think about moving, Jungkook rushes up from the floor and holds out a hand, in hopes that Taehyung will take it.

 

To be honest, he was sort of expecting the way Taehyung stares at his outstretched hand with pointed eyes and his lips curled up. Jungkook suddenly feels embarrassed. I mean, what the hell was he thinking? Of course Taehyung wouldn’t want to go anywhere near him, let alone touch him. Jungkook goes to retract his clammy hand, his legs just about ready to begin sprinting away, when he feels a long, soft hand grab onto his. Jungkook is still for a moment, staring down at the way their hands are clasped together, mind drifting off to swim in thoughts of how nice they look despite contrasting in colour. Jungkook’s skin is significantly lighter and milky compared to Taehyung’s honey and caramel tone and he can’t help but think they’re a perfect, contrasting match. But before he can get too ahead of himself, he pulls Taehyung up.

 

He’s sort of disappointed at how quickly Taehyung let’s go with a clipped, “your hands are sweaty,” before brushing off dirt from his plaid trousers. Still, Jungkook has a craving in him. He really wants Taehyung to remember him and not for his sweaty hands, so he speaks up.

 

“Um-” he all but squeaks out. It’s so embarrassing and he has to clear his throat before continuing. “I’m Jungkook. I’m on the basketball team at East High.”

 

But Taehyung doesn’t look interested at all because in one quick motion, he’s turning back around and crouching in front of the caterpillar again. Almost like Jungkook had pulled him up for no reason at all. “I can’t leave Ryan here,” he decides, seemingly talking to himself. “Who knows? Maybe he has a school musical to audition for tomorrow and if I leave him here, people like big feet boy behind me will step on him and kill him.”

 

Despite himself, Jungkook feels his lips twitch, threatening to break into a smile. Who knew the school’s ice prince would have a soft spot for insects?

 

“Um,” he starts, shuffling his feet around awkwardly, “we could maybe move him to the side where the bushes are?” That easily earns Taehyung’s attention and Jungkook has to hold his blush back.

 

We?” Taehyung scoffs, voice filled with disbelief.

 

And Jungkook really wants to prove himself to his crush so he rushes to grab a leaf before stumbling to crouch down beside him, scooping the rather long caterpillar onto it. From here Jungkook can very clearly smell the calming almond scent coming off of Taehyung. 

 

“Just like this,” Jungkook says, nodding down at the leaf. “Then we can take it over-”

 

“Hey! Be careful with him!” Taehyung suddenly demands, reaching out to pull it out of Jungkook’s grasp. Of course, Jungkook lets him take it but the fact that the caterpillar is without a warning, no longer in his hold isn’t the reason why his eyes widen. It’s the way their hands brush one more time, leaving tingles on Jungkook’s skin.

 

He reluctantly pushes himself up once Taehyung is far from him, bent down beside a shrub now. He delicately places the leaf there then stands once again, dusting his hands off and smiling down at his handiwork. Jungkook waits there, staring dumbly. 

 

But without another word, Taehyung is walking away. He has a spring to his step as he makes his way down the pavement and away from Jungkook. The streetlights follow him like a spotlight and Jungkook takes a moment to appreciate that he really was made for the stage.

 

It isn’t even five seconds later before Jungkook is walking down the same path, deciding it’s probably time to go home now. Taehyung very obviously is done with their conversation. But then he realises just how weird this is. He’s all but eight steps away from Taehyung, following after him like some lost puppy, but it’s not like he can help it when his home is this way. Slowing down would be suspicious and would seem like he’s keeping a distance in hopes to sneak up suddenly and kidnap Taehyung, but speeding up is even more awkward and chances are Jungkook would just end up walking right beside Taehyung. So, he keeps it consistent, walks at the pace he’s already going at, shuffling along so Taehyung knows he’s there and doesn’t startle.

 

And he thinks that maybe this isn’t as weird as he initially thought it was. That is until Taehyung suddenly stops in his tracks, turning around quickly to give him a sharp glare.

 

“I’m not- I promise I’m not following you!” Jungkook stutters out, coming to a standstill too. “I just- my house is down there and I- I’m not following you! I promise. I just-” Jungkook cuts himself off when all of a sudden, he’s got a face full of Taehyung.

 

Taehyung is not even two inches away from him and Jungkook is left completely tongue-tied. It doesn’t help that Taehyung’s long, dainty fingers grab onto the lapels of his varsity jacket and pull them tightly over his chest, rather harshly.

 

Nobody finds out about this, ballboy,” Taehyung hisses, doing up the first two buttons of Jungkook’s jacket and then smoothing over them with his fingers.

 

“I actually play power forward. Our ballboy is usually a freshman who-”

 

“I said nobody!”

 

Jungkook’s lips zip up against his will, just because of the way Taehyung raises his voice slightly, a dangerous look in his eye. He really wants to listen, doesn’t want to get on his bad side but Jungkook doesn’t understand.

 

“Um,” he says slowly, hoping not to rile Taehyung up even more, “what exactly is it that nobody can know about?”

 

Taehyung makes a show of rolling his eyes like he can’t quite believe how clueless Jungkook is. Then  taking a large step away, he speaks up. “Ryan,” he clarifies, “nobody finds out about Ryan.”

 

And that’s when it clicks for Jungkook, just how surreal this experience is. Taehyung who’s been given so many names, anything from ice prince to royal highness, is always so calm and collected, so cool and slicked back. Not to mention the arrogance that he isn’t afraid to show if it means he’ll get what he wants. So obviously, it’s pretty weird that Jungkook had just witnessed him opening his heart up for a damn insect, sitting in the middle of the pavement when usually he deemed the mopped high school gym floors as too dirty.

 

Jungkook takes pride in the fact that he got to witness such a side of Kim Taehyung.

 

“Oh,” he says, hands coming out in front of him defensively, “of course. Of course! Secret’s safe with me,” he adds with what would probably be described as a sheepish grin.

 

It’s silent as Taehyung studies his face from a few steps away, seemingly analysing his features to check whether he’s lying or not. Jungkook doesn’t mean to hold his breath, but what else would you expect from a boy who had only just spoken to his crush after months and months of fantasising? Not to mention said crush is looking at him with razor sharp eyes in this long minute, more than he’s ever looked at him for the past six months. So yes, Jungkook holds his breath, only letting the air gush back out again once Taehyung nods, happy with his findings.

 

Jungkook blames it entirely on the silence that has settled in around them and his lack of brain to mouth filter when he lets the words slip out of his mouth. He’s told himself time and time again, not to say it, not to make a fool of himself but he has a penchant for doing just that. A right fool he is.

 

“I’m sorry I couldn’t come to your audition.”

 

Regret surfaces as soon as they are let out into the silent world, that has stopped orbiting just for the two of them and this very interaction.

 

“What?” is all Taehyung replies, with a weird mix of confusion and scepticism overtaking his features.

 

Jungkook wants nothing more than for the ground to swallow him up. “Oh, no. Nothing. Yeah. Nothing. Anyway, I should probably get home, my mum-”

 

“Auditions weren’t even open to everyone to watch,” Taehyung points out, not wanting to give the topic up. “Why would you come, ballboy?”

 

And really, Jungkook should have known. He should have known that his first ever conversation with Taehyung would be the most embarrassing thing he’s ever experienced in his life. He should have known that no matter how hard he tried to make himself seem cool, it just wouldn’t work and Taehyung would end up thinking he’s an absolute weirdo. He should have known better than to actually try to talk to him in the first place.

 

It’s for those very thoughts that Jungkook stays silent, blinking at Taehyung and probably looking like a kicked puppy instead of a lost one.

 

“Why do you do that?” Jungkook is somewhat relieved that Taehyung is filling in the silence but once he fully realises he’s been asked a question, his heart is back to racing at two hundred beats per minute.

 

“I- um, do what?”

 

“You just stand there as if you’re going to say something but you don’t say anything at all.”

 

Jungkook can’t do this anymore, can’t keep eye contact with Taehyung anymore and so he looks down, merely shrugging in reply.

 

“Well, if that’s it,” Taehyung continues, “I’ll get going.” Jungkook wants to stop him so that he could spend at least a little bit more time with him but he knows better than that now. 

 

He nods once, watching as Taehyung looks left and right before rushing across the road. He stands there for ages, just watching Taehyung walk into a side street, probably the street he lives on. He watches as his arms swing back and forth with each large step he takes. He watches as the locks of blond hair start to turn darker and darker the further away he gets.

 

Once Taehyung is completely out of sight, Jungkook lets out a long sigh, mind immediately rushing to put together what in the name of god just happened.

 

Joonho’s in for a treat because Jungkook has one hell of a story to tell him. 



●●●



Jungkook rushes around to put things away, hiding the dirty pans in the cooling oven and nearly slipping on water in his haste.

 

His sleeves are rolled up and there’s still soap suds running all the way up his arms but that’s not what he should be worrying about right now. Not when he can hear his father’s car pulling up in the driveway.

 

“Eomma!” he yells, scurrying to wipe up the spilt water. “I need help!”

 

Jungkook is relieved to say the least, when he hears two sets of footsteps coming his way because soon both his mother and brother are emerging into the kitchen, worry etched into their features. It takes one look out of the window for Jungkook’s mother to realise what’s going on and from there, it’s utter chaos.

 

She takes over with a mop and Joonho climbs up on a chair to tuck away leftover ingredients into the cupboards. Jungkook uses that split second to shrug off his apron and head over to his creation that’s still sitting safely on the countertop. 

 

It had been his first time making Crème Brûlée and he has to admit, it looks really good. Of course, he has yet to taste it, but going off of looks and smell alone, he thinks and he hopes he’s done a good job. Just as he hears the front door open, Jungkook carefully picks up the tray holding the little dishes of dessert, and tucks it into the refrigerator to set. And just in time too because then a voice is filling the room.

 

“I was wondering where everyone was,” Mr Jeon chuckles, walking around the three of them to pour himself a glass of water, suit jacket now off and work tie loosened around his neck.

 

“Hello, honey,” his mum muses, walking over to place a kiss on her husband’s cheek. What he doesn’t realise though, is that it’s all just a sneaky tactic for her to slip away the washed and dried whisk that Jungkook had left on the side of the sink. Joonho is the one to subtly steal it off her hand and put it away into the cutlery drawer.

 

“What’s everyone doing in the kitchen though?” Jungkook’s father asks, turning to eye his sons suspiciously. “Don’t you two have homework? Or basketball to practice in the garden?”

 

“We were just- um-”

 

“Hyung was- so I was-”

 

“I asked them to help me,” their mother interrupts, patting them each on the shoulder to silently usher them away. “But we’re done now. Off you go boys.”

 

They leave the kitchen together but not before Jungkook has smiled sweetly at his mother in gratitude. This has happened one too many times and really, it’s become like muscle memory for the three of them, rushing around to tidy up before his father gets home. 

 

The rest of the evening, luckily for him, goes by mostly smoothly. He and Joonho play some video games which typically ends in Jungkook winning since he refuses to just let his younger brother win. Joonho only pesters him a few times, either teasing him about how well his cooking went today or begging for a new story about Taehyung. They eat together at the table as a family, all chomping away at Mrs Jeon’s amazing cooking with a few discussions thrown around. For once, Joonho doesn’t mention Taehyung and Jungkook isn't forced to live through the embarrassment of having his parents knowing about his dear crush. All in all, things go pretty well and his father doesn’t even mention what happened in the kitchen again.

 

That is until everyone is done eating.

 

“Oh, don’t get up yet!” his mother says, rushing out of her seat to push her husband back down. “We still have dessert.”

 

“Dessert?” His father sounds sceptical and it’s to be expected since having dessert in their house is rare, but she doesn’t pay that much attention as she leaves for the kitchen.

 

Jungkook already knows what’s going on and he almost groans. Jonnho seemingly knows too, what with the way he’s practically bouncing in his chair.

 

Just as he thought, it isn't long before his mother is springing back into the room, carrying the very tray Jungkook had put into the fridge a mere few hours ago. “Freshly made Crème Brûlée,” she announces, carefully placing a dish in front of everyone.

 

Jungkook doesn’t look up, doesn’t want to risk making eye contact with his father, and instead digs right in. He takes a small bite using his spoon and lets the taste settle onto his taste buds. ‘Hm, not bad,’ he thinks, ‘though maybe I went a bit heavy on the sugar.’ He tries a few more spoons and mentally weighs up the pros and cons of his dish, already planning how he’s going to make it differently next time. His father’s voice is what pulls him out of it.

 

“Who made this?” he asks, a genuine tilt of curiousness in his voice. Jungkook looks up from his plate and is surprised to say the least by what he sees. His father’s eyes shine with amazement, mouth pulled into a smile as he shovels in spoon after spoon. He likes it.

 

“It’s great, isn't it?” replies his mother with a not so subtle glance at Jungkook as she too eats her dessert. 

 

“I know who made it,” Joonho pipes up with cream somehow covering parts of his face that are nowhere near his mouth. “It was-”

 

“Mrs Sato!” Jungkook rushes out, interrupting his brother. Just to push his point more, he kicks Joonho under the table in a silent plea to get him to shut up. “Mrs Sato from next door made it and gave us some while you were at work.”

 

The look on his father’s face becomes impossibly more reluctant to believe anything. Jungkook fears for his life and decides he’s not going to look at his mother just in case she’s glaring at him for lying like that. “Isn’t Mrs Sato using crutches at the moment since she sprained her ankle?” his father asks, taking yet another bite.

 

Jungkook’s fucked up. “Oh that- um, yeah, she is.”

 

Luckily, his father doesn’t seem too suspicious of Jungkook specifically. “Wow,” he says, “I wonder how she managed to make all of this then. I’ll thank her on my way out to work tomorrow.”

 

“She’s a lovely woman.” This time it’s his mother speaking and Jungkook has to hold back his sigh of relief. “A wonderful chef too.” That’s said a little mysteriously and has Jungkook choking on his damn Crème Brûlée.

 

“An amazing chef,” his father agrees.

 

It’s such a weird feeling because of all the times Jungkook has given his father a plate of food that he’s made, it has never gone well. Sometimes he’d try it and simply nod before handing the plate back and other times he wouldn't even try it at all, telling Jungkook off for wasting time when he could have been studying or practicing. It’s such a weird feeling having his father acknowledge the food that he’s made (even if he doesn’t know) with a smile and genuine compliments. It’s such a weird feeling.

 

But at the same time it feels amazing.

 

This, with the added interaction he’d had with Taehyung (despite how he’d made a fool of himself), makes him feel over the moon. Nobody has to know if Jungkook goes to sleep that night with a massive smile on his face.



●●●



“So what you’re telling me is,” Seokjin sniggers, arm swung over Jungkook’s shoulder, “you made a complete fool of yourself in front of Taehyung?”

 

Jungkook huffs. He doesn’t even have the energy to deny it at this point. “Yes, exactly.”

 

It’s a rather chilly Monday morning, a layer of frost coating the ground they walk on, and Seokjin’s extra added weight on his side isn’t making it easier for Jungkook to walk. He’d already slipped and almost fell to his death the moment he left his house and now here he was, having to balance while he half carries  his friend on the walk to school.

 

It’s been quite the jam-packed weekend. Jungkook says that but he hasn’t been getting on with his essays and homeworks due this week. So really, if we rephrase, it’s not the weekend that’s been jam-packed but Jungkook’s mind that has.

 

Of course, having his father compliment his cooking was great. But the encounter with Taehyung has not left his mind for one second since it happened late on Friday evening. His dreams have even been filled with it! It doesn’t help that his little brother has made it his mission to tease Jungkook about it every chance he gets.

 

“You actually apologised for not going to his audition?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“When he doesn’t even know you go to watch his performances all the time?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“When he doesn’t even know you watch him like a creep?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“When he doesn’t even know you exist?”

 

Jungkook takes that as his cue to push Seokjin off. “He does know I exist now!” he complains, stalking ahead with a tight grip on his backpack straps. “Anyway, I’ve decided that I’m going to go and talk to him today, try to be a bit more cool.”

 

He hears Seokjin scoff from behind him as he pushes open the glass door for the main school building. What a friend he is. “There’s no way in hell you’re going to have the guts to go and talk to him.” Jungkook turns to glare at him. Isn’t Seokjin supposed to be hyping him up? Telling him that he can do it? “And nowhere in your dictionary is the word ‘cool’ so that’s going to fail.”

 

“Are you even my friend?” Jungkook asks, disbelievingly. “Out of all people, you should be the one pushing me to do it and helping me to get the man of my dreams and yet here you are-”

 

“Callbacks?” comes a shout followed by a shrill scream from down the hall, interrupting Jungkook’s nagging. It’s a bit sad that he can recognise that voice in an instant.

 

He glances at Seokjin, who’s already looking at him with wide eyes and they have a moment of telepathy before they've made a joint decision, and they’re both rushing round the corner. They get to a large pillar that holds all the notice boards and school clubs information leaflets, only to find quite the large crowd of people.

 

It’s safe to say Jungkook is slightly shocked to find Taehyung and Hoseok surrounded by the entirety of the basketball team, as they all gape at a tiny piece of paper pinned to the board.

 

“What’s going on?” Seokjin asks, speaking up exactly what Jungkook had been thinking.

 

The situation itself had been crazy enough but it seems to only get worse once all the eyes are directed towards Jungkook and Seokjin. Each and every one of their team members looks absolutely blown away, some of them even looking betrayed. Jungkook tries to make eye contact with Taehyung too, but he and Hoseok seem way too immersed in the paper on display.

 

“You won’t believe it,” Jonah says, voice almost a whisper. “Man, this is crazy.”

 

Jungkook pushes Seokjin forward and the both of them begin to walk closer to this crazy-deemed news.

 

“They’re holding audition callbacks for the winter musical,” Namjoon fills in, sounding oddly angry?

 

And suddenly, all at once, Jungkook understands what’s going on. At least he thinks he does.

 

“What does that have to do with us?” Seokjin mumbles, slipping in between Lucas and Jonah to get a better look.

 

Jungkook doesn’t really know what to do with himself. Not when Seokjin’s eyes look to widen even more than they already were, once he takes in what’s written on the paper. Not when the rest of the team begin mumbling profanities and anger-filled words. Not when Taehyung turns around to glare at them all, eyes pointed and face flushed red in fury.

 

“Callbacks, this Thursday,” Taehyung growls, before turning to point harshly at the words as if to prove something to Seokjin, “Kim Taehyung and Jung Hoseok, Park Jimin and Min Yoongi.”

 

“What?” Seokjin shrieks, ever the over-dramatic one. “That can’t be- that’s the same day as our game. What does that even mean?”

 

“It means your little jock friend crashed our audition and is trying to steal our parts in our musical,” Taehyung emphasises. He looks so terribly mad that Jungkook is worried he may spring on Seokjin any minute now.

 

“Calm down, Tae,” Hoseok tries cheerfully, rubbing up and down Taehyung’s arm. “Maybe we’re getting pranked?”

 

“What?” Jungkook has to hold back a laugh at Taehyung’s genuinely confused face, momentarily replacing the anger. It’s kind of cute, okay?

 

“Pranked! You know?” Hoseok repeats and that itself has Taehyung’s features morphing into annoyance once again. “Like, what if there’s cameras filming our reactions right n-”

 

“Shut up, Hobi,” Taehyung hisses. He doesn’t say a word more before he’s barging past them, shoulder brushing harshly against Jungkook’s.

 

Everything happens so fast. One second Taehyung is stalking away, followed by an eager Hoseok, the next he’s crashing straight into another person.

 

Jungkook doesn’t really want to word it this way, but he gets front row tickets of watching the way a loosely held bottle of water is accidentally flung up into the air before landing directly on top of Taehyung’s dirty blond hair. Not to mention the look of complete and utter fear in Park Jimin’s eyes, as his little hands grapple to retrieve his bottle again.

 

“I’m so sorry,” he worries over Taehyung’s scream, “you just came out of nowhere and I was about to drink my water and I-”

 

“You,” Taehyung sneers dangerously.

 

But before he can say anything else, Yoongi is suddenly appearing at Jimin’s side. “What happ-”

 

“You.” This time it’s said simultaneously by the teammates surrounding Jungkook. 

 

The chaos has caught the attention of many people who have taken to surrounding them with nosy, inquisitive eyes. As far as he’s aware, they’re all used to the stares, with the basketball team playing games in front of hundreds of roaring people in arena stands and Taehyung and Hoseok constantly starring in musicals and shows. But he has to say, he feels slightly bad for Jimin who seems to hide in on himself with cheeks bright pink and eyes pointed down at his shoes.

 

“I’m sorry,” he says, voice so quiet, it’s nearly inaudible. “We didn’t mean to, really! We were just messing around and-”

 

“Messing around?” Taehyung exclaims, voice cutting over Jimin’s nervous mumbling with ease. He seems to have forgotten about the fact that his hair is currently dripping all over the floor and thus ruining his perfect colour coordinated outfit, and Jungkook just about manages to stop himself from sprinting to his locker to grab a towel from his gym bag. “This is messing around to you?”

 

“Look,” Yoongi speaks then, catching the attention of the entire team, “we didn’t mean to-”

 

“This is not just some joke, okay?” Taehyung pushes, voices echoing off the walls and lockers. Jungkook tries hard not to focus on the way a few onlookers look to be… scared? “Me and Hobi have worked our butts off for this musical and if you jock and you bookworm ruin it for us, I swear I will-”

 

“What’s going on here?” comes a booming voice and just at the sound of Mr Roberts’ voice, the crowd that had gathered begin scurrying away. Even Jungkook’s teammates begin heading for their first classes, leaving Jungkook to stand there and stare at Taehyung some more. Those traitors.

 

“Park Jimin just threw water all over me!” Taehyung exclaims, pointing an accusatory finger at the mortified boy.

 

“Is that true, Jimin?”

 

“N-no, I didn’t-” Jimin stutters, before seemingly composing himself enough to add on, “it was an accident.”

 

Mr Roberts seems to contemplate for a moment, looking between the two very contrasting people. Jungkook really wants to help Taehyung in this situation but he does have an eye for justice, so it wouldn’t be fair for him to lie and say it wasn’t an accident. Even if he doesn’t know Jimin all that well.

 

(Not that he knows Taehyung very well either.)

 

“Okay, okay,” Mr Roberts finally concludes, before turning his gaze to a wide-eyes Hoseok. “Hoseok, what happened?”

 

Hoseok doesn’t even hesitate before he’s blurting out, “it was an accident, sir!”

 

“Thank you. Now that that’s sorted, Taehyung will go and change into his gym kit and Jimin will head to class.”

 

“But, the gym kit is so ugly-”

 

“No buts.” Mr Roberts has one commanding finger up with an air of finality. “And that goes for you two as well, Yoongi and Jungkook.”

 

Jimin apologises to Taehyung once more and is the first to scurry away, followed by a power walking Yoongi. Taehyung huffs and with a flick of his soggy blond hair, he’s off too, leaving behind a small puddle of water and the faint smell of almond.

 

Jungkook stands there for a moment, eyes following after Taehyung. He hesitates because who is he supposed to go after in a moment like this? Yoongi, one of his best friends and team captain, or Taehyung, his, well, yeah. Of course, he could just go after none of them and head for his first class of the day but does he really want to sit in the chemistry lab at this moment? Not really. And now that Hoseok has walked off too (in the opposite direction to Taehyung), worrying about being late for class, he wonders if maybe he should follow after Taehyung or if he should give him some space like his best friend has decided to.

 

“Go on, you troublemaker,” Mr Roberts says sharply. “I’ll pretend I didn’t see you. You owe me by staying awake in my classes.”

 

For some reason, Jungkook knows immediately where to go, despite the inner turmoil he’d been having. He thanks the teacher who has very obviously turned a blind eye, and rushes away, being careful not to slip on the wet(ter than usual) floor. His feet move on their own accord and soon enough he’s standing right in front of an open locker door, the owner’s face blocked and instead giving him the view of stickers and gems decorating the metal surface. It gives him time to breathe but unfortunately for Jungkook, the locker door is slamming shut quicker than he’d hoped and he’s faced with a furious Taehyung.

 

“Hi, Taehyung,” he says, keeping his voice as steady and sympathising as he can. “I can go and get you a towel from my locker if you’d like?”

 

Jungkook mentally scolds himself at the sight of Taehyung startling, obviously not having expected anyone to follow him. But once his eyes land on Jungkook’s, it’s like a flip is switched with the way his glare sets hard and his brows furrow in frustration. Not to mention, he clutches his gym bag in tight fists, so much so that his knuckles turn white.

 

“Why would I want a jock's stinky towel? That’s just gross.”

 

Jungkook opens his mouth to apologise or maybe to reassure that he has towels that have been freshly washed, but that’s kind of hard to do when Taehyung is looking at him like that . His eyes are just too deep and pretty and his lips are just too pink and pouty, and god, even while drenched in water, he still manages to look so stunning. He takes Jungkook’s breath away. And that’s why he can’t help but close his mouth again, not a single word escaping. 

 

Taehyung huffs in annoyance and rolls his eyes. “There you go again with just standing there and not saying anything when you obviously want to say something. Seriously, if you have nothing to say then leave. You’re just wasting my time!” 

 

Jungkook’s eyes only open wider at that. Taehyung remembers him?

 

Jungkook mentally slaps himself. Now’s not the time, Taehyung is waiting! “O-oh. I just wanted to say sorry that you got covered in water. I also just found out that Yoongi is going to be in your show so-”

 

“Min Yoongi is not going to be in my show!” Taehyung interrupts, voice echoing through the empty hallway, now that most people have gone to class. But that’s not the thing that has Jungkook’s heart leaping out of his chest. Instead, it’s the perfectly slender finger that Taehyung places firmly over his lips, in pairing with his words to get Jungkook to shut up.

 

Taehyung just touched Jungkook’s lips.

 

But just as quickly as it’d been put there, Taehyung’s finger is gone again. “I- okay,” Jungkook stutters out, watching as Taehyung shuffles through his bag. Cool, Jungkook, act cool. “But to cheer you up, I was just wondering if you’d maybe want to watch me play ball sometime.” That’s cool, right? It’s like he’s asking Taehyung on a date, right?

 

Apparently not because for the second time during a mere five minutes, Jungkook’s heart that is supposed to be beating, is completely stopped. It’s too weak for something like this. For something like Taehyung leaning so close to his face that Jungkook thinks he feels a droplet of water fall from Taehyung’s hair onto the side of his own neck. So close to his face that Jungkook can count each individual eyelash on Taehyung’s eyes.

 

“I’d rather stick pins in my eyes,” Taehyung sneers through his teeth, nose just about brushing against the tip of Jungkook’s.

 

Cool, Jungkook, just stay cool.

 

“But- wouldn’t that be awfully uncomfortable?” he asks, genuinely confused at Taehyung’s reply.

 

“That’s the point.”

 

“But-”

 

“Evaporate, tall person!”

 

Jungkook is at a loss for words. He and Taehyung are almost the exact same height and although Jungkook does have a centimetre or two on him, it isn’t that big of a difference. So… what? 

 

“But, we’re the same h-”

 

“I said, evaporate!”

 

Taehyung pulls back exasperatedly, a very hard glare overtaking his handsome features, and he stays there with his arms crossed, bag held close to his chest. It’s like he’s waiting, but for what?

 

Oh, right. He’s waiting for Jungkook to evaporate.

 

“Okay, I’ll um, see you around?”

 

But all he receives is a huff before Taehyung is stalking off down the hall, presumably towards the changing rooms. He leaves Jungkook with the usual scent of almonds and freshly picked strawberries and it’s then that he can finally breathe, heart back at it again at an abnormally high speed.

 

‘Huh,’ he thinks, as he holds a hand over his fluttering heart, ‘that went much better than expected.’



●●●



The first thing Jungkook hears once he walks up to their usual lunch table, is shouting. 

 

Sure, that isn’t very uncommon considering just how loud of a bunch they are, but today seems different. The shouting sounds less like messing around and more like actual telling off? To make matters even worse, there’s a lot more people surrounding their table, people from all sorts of groups gathering around to argue with one another.

 

“-you traitor!” He hears the tail end of a sentence spoken by Namjoon followed by multiple sounds of agreement from others.

 

Jungkook carefully sets his tray of food down on the emptier side of the table. It seems that the crowd of people have taken to standing on one side of the table while Yoongi sits alone on the other side.

 

“What’s going on?” Jungkook asks, taking a seat beside Yoongi and giving him a curious look. But the latter doesn’t look back and instead stares at his own food, looking as though he’s not paying attention to anything being said to him.

 

“Yoongi says he’s actually going to take part in the musical auditions!” Lucas exclaims. It’s odd seeing him without his basketball tucked under his arm and it’s obvious that the matter is so important to him that he’s put down the one item that is usually attached to him like it’s part of his body.

 

“Really?” Jungkook asks, setting down the fork he’d just picked up. He feels the way Yoongi turns to look at him but as soon as he too turns to connect their eyes, he’s back to staring at his food. “I think that’s-”

 

“Is that even legal?” comes a voice that Jungkook isn’t too familiar with. One glance tells him that it’s a girl part of the skateboarding clique.

 

That question is enough to set the crowd into a frenzy as people begin to argue again.

 

“It’s not right!”

 

“Isn’t he the one that forces the team to focus on basketball?”

 

“Taehyung will kill him!”

 

“What a hypocrite.”

 

“Don’t call him a hypocrite!”

 

“He should stick to what he’s good at.”

 

“He should stick to what he’s supposed to.”

 

“He should stick to the status quo.”

 

Truly, Jungkook understands. He understands where his peers are coming from and why they’re so upset about the whole matter. It’s odd to think that the basketball captain - who has been so uptight about practicing and winning competitions for seemingly his whole life - has suddenly found an interest in theatre and music. But he feels the way Yoongi stiffens beside him and he decides then and there that he’s going to stick up for his friend.

 

 He remembers the way Yoongi had looked while he was up on that stage, singing beside Jimin. Although  he had been sitting pretty far away, he could have sworn he saw Yoongi’s eyes twinkle in excitement and he looked so much happier than he did while he was running around sweaty and out of breath on a basketball court. It’s in that sense that Jungkook sees himself in Yoongi. He sees it and he understands it because that twinkle, that spark of joy, is exactly what he feels when he’s got his apron on and a wooden spoon in hand.

 

“I think it’s pretty cool.”

 

The words that Jungkook lets himself mumble out is what gets them all to quieten. Suddenly, all eyes are on him and not all of them look like they agree. In fact, the only eyes on him that actually look pleasant and somewhat relieved, are Yoongi’s. He doesn’t say anything but Jungkook can tell he’s silently thanking him for being on his side.

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” That’s Namjoon with his suspicious tone and furrowed brows.

 

To be honest, Jungkook doesn’t know where he gets the confidence from. “I just- I think it’s really cool that Yoongi is trying something else. Something that makes him happy.” He feels Yoongi place a gentle hand on his shoulder, as if to get him to stop talking, but that only seems to urge him to speak further. “Just because we play basketball, doesn’t mean we're only allowed to focus on it and nothing else. Of course, he was the one that wanted us to stick to only basketball because he’s our captain and his dad is our coach so there’s nothing he could really do about it. But now he’s expanding on his hobbies and I think that’s really cool. I think it’s something we should all try to do because I know for a fact not all of us will continue with basketball after high school. We need to find other things that we’re just as, if not, more passionate about.”

 

“Do you hear what you’re saying right now, Jungkook?” Jonah asks in quite the accusatory manner. He scoffs and looks around at their other teammates before adding, “I bet you have something else you’re focusing on instead of basketball too. Why else would you be kissing Yoongi’s ass this much?”

 

Jungkook clamps his mouth shut at that. Even though he can feel the eyes digging daggers into him as he stares down at his untouched food, he can’t say anything.

 

“Hey, Jungkook,” speaks Yoongi, finally daring to open his mouth only for his words to come out soft and reassuring. “Let’s get out of here and-”

 

“Oh my god,” Seokjin interrupts, so dramatically that Jungkook can hear the way his mouth opens widely. “He really does have something else he focuses on.”

 

“What the fuck man?”

 

“What is it?”

 

“All you jocks are crazy.”

 

“You act like you own the school but really you’re all just a bunch of thespians?”

 

“Fucking crazy man.”

 

“Jungkook,” Yoongi repeats, his voice being the only one to pull Jungkook out of all the things being thrown at them, “you didn’t need to do that. Let’s go, maybe to the courts or the-”

 

As soon as he hears Yoongi worrying over all of this he decides that enough is enough. Jungkook is sick of having to hide who he really is. What could go wrong anyway?

 

“I like to cook,” he says, voice loud and clear over all the arguing. Eyes are on him in an instant but this time they look less hateful and more curious. “I like to cook and bake and I want to become a chef when I’m older. It’s been my dream since I was young.”

 

“That’s really cool, Jungkook,” Yoongi says, being the first to speak. 

 

Jungkook smiles back at his friend then chances a glance at everyone else surrounding the table. At this point, most people in the cafeteria are listening in on what’s going on and they all seem to be staring right at him. But he’s glad to find that most of them don’t look angry anymore and instead look really confused, probably because two of their basketball aces have just admitted to wanting something else from life other than just that, basketball. And Jungkook is proud of himself.

 

Usually, he’s pretty shy, isn’t very good at speaking up in front of so many people. But now that he’s done it without worrying about the consequences, and admitted to his dream, he feels accomplished and like he can do anything.

 

It only makes him feel better when a girl from a table away perks up in her seat. “Um, I have something to say,” she announces, voice quiet and barely above a whisper. Jungkook thinks he’s seen her in one of his classes but she’s so quiet that he doesn’t even know her name. Nevertheless, he trains his eyes on her, along with everybody else, as she pushes her glasses up her nose. “Even though I get straight As in every subject and my parents want me to go and study at the best university abroad, that’s not what I want. I like to dance. It’s my passion.”

 

That has few people murmuring amongst themselves, no doubt in confusion and disbelief.

 

“I play the cello, dude,” says one of the skater boys.

 

“I love rom-coms,” adds an anime geek.

 

“I read Shakespeare because I think he’s hot,” admits a cheerleader.

 

Once again, the entire cafeteria goes into chaos. People shout from all corners of the room, some admitting to their own secrets, others showing their distaste for it all. It’s typically pretty loud in here but this is completely different. Jungkook can’t even hear himself breathe as he glances around with wide eyes because did he and Yoongi really start this? Yes, they did. They’re the ones that got people so annoyed and angry. But then they’ve also gotten people to be themselves, admit to who they really are and forget about the stupid stereotypes. It’s weird, just sitting in the middle of such a mess, not knowing where to begin to even try to stop it. People are yelling now, arguing with each other about whether this is all wrong or right. It’s so bad that it sort of feels like Jungkook is sitting right on the line of a tiger’s territory, just as a different pack has come to fight for it.

 

But just then, the real tiger makes itself known. “Everybody, shut up!” shouts Taehyung, voice easily cutting through and demanding silence.

 

Jungkook snaps his eyes to where he stands at the entrance of the cafeteria, a gobsmacked Hoseok by his side. He’s got a hand on his hip and a snarl at his lips, eyes darting around and glaring daggers into absolutely everyone who dares to look at him with any indication of defiance. And it works because if Jungkook ever so subtly glances around, he finds that everyone has gone stock still, staring at Taehyung with fear lacing their features. Not a single body moves, not a single sound can be heard.

 

“What is this?” he continues, roaring like the tiger he is. But nobody answers. “This is not supposed to be happening. You’re all supposed to be sticking to what you usually do, you’re supposed to be focusing on what is set out for you. Hoseok and I are supposed to be the stars of the musical!”

 

His voice echoes around the cafeteria and even though Taehyung is quite far away from where Jungkook is sitting, he can hear every word as though they’re being whispered into his ears. It has a shiver running down his spine. Jungkook is awestruck. Judging by the way everyone stares on, it’s the same for them too. 

 

Jungkook sets his eyes solely on Taehyung, watching as he opens his mouth to speak again, but he’s interrupted when the bathroom door near the entrance swings open. Now, normally, everything would have been fine, the person would have scurried to their seat and Taehyung would have continued. But the person who walks out of the bathroom just so happens to be Park Jimin, with wide, inquisitive eyes as he looks around at everyone, probably wondering why suddenly all eyes are on him. All eyes including Taehyung’s.

 

“Great,” Taehyung scoffs, earning Jimin’s innocent eye contact. “Just great that it’s you who interrupts me.” The words are said with venom and even though Jungkook knows nobody else has noticed, he hears the hurt in Taehyung’s voice too.

 

He feels Yoongi rush up from his seat beside him, probably to head to Jimin. But he doesn’t really want to focus on that, can’t focus on that, because Taehyung’s walking out then. He’s turning around and walking out of the cafeteria with an obvious pout at his wobbling lips.

 

As if nothing’s happened, people move back to their seats and the usual conversations continue. Even his friends sit down in silence and dare not mention what has just happened. But Jungkook can’t focus on that.

 

He watches as Hoseok stands in his spot for a moment, watching Taheyung leave with an apologetic look on his face. He hesitates too, begins following then seems to decide against it as he stalks over to get his lunch. He too has a frown at his lips.

 

Jungkook pushes up and off his seat in an instant, feeling his friends’ eyes on him. None of them say anything and so Jungkook does what his heart craves to do.

 

He follows Taehyung.



●●●



At first Jungkook wonders if he’s allowed to be here.

 

The old music building sits right at the opposite end of the school site, secluded from any other buildings. Jungkook doesn’t know exactly why, but he presumes it’s in order to keep the sound from all the music and instruments in one place rather than somewhere where they can disturb other classes.

 

But even though it’s far away from anyone, the only teachers inside being the chill music teachers, he wonders if he should be here. He doesn’t even do music or any sort of art subject for that matter. Even then, he shakes his head and pushes through the doors, following after where he’d seen Taehyung go.

 

Based on what Jungkook would expect from a music building, it’s eerily quiet, as he makes his way up the stairs and through corridor after corridor. Though that could just be because it’s lunchtime.

 

It’s difficult at first because it truly feels like Jungkook is walking through the same hallway again and again, the same ugly, pale green walls passing him by with each step he takes. He takes all but a second of contemplating whether he should just give up and leave but that thought is immediately pushed out of his mind when he hears the mellow sound of a piano.

 

It feels awfully like he’s part of a horror film and he’s on his way to his inevitable demise, what with the way the one light above him flickers and the sound of the piano seems to get deeper and louder with every step he takes closer to the classroom at the end of the hallway. Nevertheless, he pushes forward until finally, he’s standing at the entryway, peering in cautiously.

 

There Taehyung is, sitting on the bench in front of the one grand piano in the room, playing effortlessly the sad and warm tune. From here, Jungkook has a perfect view of Taehyung elegant fingers dancing along the keys and his face that holds no more anger as there was before but only complete and utter focus. It feels so similar to the very first time Jungkook had watched Taehyung performing by himself, sitting at a piano in a huge empty auditorium, but the only difference is that today he’s not singing.

 

It’s something that Jungkook’s always thought about if he’s being honest. Why does Taehyung take part in the singing and dancing when his passion and utmost talent clearly lies in playing piano? Don’t get Jungkook wrong, he does think Taehyung is an amazing musical actor and performer, but there’s just something about the way he plays piano with so much delicacy and emotion, that makes him - and surely other people - feel things. 

 

“Are you just going to stand there like you always seem to do?”

 

Jungkook’s breath hitches as he forces his thoughts away. Apparently he’s been standing here for so long with his mind up in the clouds, that he hasn’t even noticed Taehyung has stopped playing and now looks at him with a straight face.

 

“Oh, I-” Jungkook starts, before clearing his throat to get rid of the awkward croak, “sorry. I was just listening and I-”

 

“You weren’t listening. You were just staring at me really weirdly.” Taehyung says it with finality and as if to prove it he scoots further back on the bench and lets his hands rest on his lap. The piano waits in front of him but Jungkook has a sneaking suspicion that Taehyung isn’t going to play again, at least not while Jungkook is here to watch. It makes him want to apologise again, this time because he interrupted the musical trance Taehyung had been in, but he doesn’t think that’s a very good idea considering he has no clue if Taehyung stopped playing on his own accord or because he noticed Jungkook standing there like a creep. “You’re doing it again.”

 

Jungkook groans to himself, pulling his eyes away. Of course, he’d managed to do that twice in the span of sixty seconds. He thinks about a response. Maybe he can say he has an exam coming up so his mind is constantly thinking about that which causes him to blank out. Maybe he can say the afternoon sun is so beautiful that he can’t help but stare at it with a blank look on his face. Maybe he can say he has a problem where he can’t blink unconsciously like most people and so he forgets to sometimes and ends up staring- this is going way too far, even for Jungkook.

 

“I lose my cool around you,” he ends up blurting out, the truth slipping past his lips before his brain can catch up. He immediately feels his face begin to heat up with embarrassment and it only seems to intensify when Taehyung raises an inquisitive eyebrow at him. He can just about hear Seokjin scoffing, “ha, what cool?

 

Jungkook can’t even bring himself to build on what he’s just said, not while Taehyung’s eyes are boring into him like that. Even from this far away while Jungkook leans against the doorframe and Taehyung stays in his seat in front of the piano, the look is so charged and hits Jungkook right in the feels.

 

“Well,” Taehyung says into the silence, drawing out the word, “there's space next to me on this bench.”

 

Jungkook’s heart promptly stops beating. This isn’t… Taehyung’s not asking him to sit there, is he?

 

“Geez, it was just a suggestion,” Taehyung huffs with his signature eye-roll when Jungkook doesn’t reply. “You’re free to leave me alone.”

 

“No, no,” Jungkook sputters, feet working before his brain as he stumbles into the room. “I’ll stay.”

 

It’s a bit embarrassing in the way he haphazardly plops down beside Taehyung, at first sitting way too close to him with their thighs squished tightly together. He apologises before quickly scooting away a little, leaving a good few inches between them. At first he doesn’t know where to look, especially when the butterflies in his stomach begin to do somersaults and jumping jacks at just the mere scent (almonds, obviously) that Taehyung gives off. In the end, he decides to latch his eyes onto the piano keys and take in the way they are yellowing with age.

 

“Why do you jocks need to be so massive?” Taehyung asks out of the blue and that alone is all he needs to hear for his eyes to snap right back at Taehyung.

 

“What?” Jungkook breathes out, mind swimming in the gutter as very inappropriate and embarrassing thoughts fill his head.

 

But Taehyung is oblivious. “I just felt your thigh against mine for a second and it’s rock hard!” he elaborates. “Buff boy.” Jungkook flinches at the word choice and the way Taehyung’s eyes seem to be locked onto his thighs, or at least in the vicinity of his upper legs.

 

“Oh!” he says, despite his thoughts. He unconsciously brings his hands onto his lap, covering up as much as he can. Taehyung finally looks back into his eyes, though that doesn’t make things any better. “Um, I guess we never miss leg day? Coach hates leading our gym sessions but when he does he forces us to do at least a few leg exercises despite whether it’s leg day or arm day or if we’re doing cardio. He says basketball players need balance and our balance mainly comes from our legs.” Jungkook ponders for a moment, as Taehyung continues to stare into his soul with eyes that showcase not a single telling emotion. “During games and practice games too, we’re always jumping and shooting hoops so our legs and thighs have to strengthen because of that. But if you think my thighs are big, you should see Namjoon’s. They’re-”

 

Jungkook cuts himself off and clamps his lips shut once he notices how much he’s just blabbered to Taehyung. To his surprise though, Taehyung’s face still looks the same as before. Completely unbothered.

 

“You’ve spoken more right now than you have in all our conversations added together,” Taehyung notes, fingering at a single piano note. The fact that he seems so nonchalant about it all has Jungkook feeling even more embarrassed. Not to mention that it doesn’t make sense in Jungkook’s head that Taehyung actually remembers him and their conversations?

 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to,” Jungkook hurries out, watching as Taehyung nods once. “I just- when I get nervous sometimes I talk a lot and I can’t help it- I’ll just stop now.” Jungkook clasps his hands together on his lap and mentally slaps himself at that and at how clammy his hands have gotten. His heart hammers in his chest too and he just prays that Taehyung can’t hear a thing. It feels even worse because he doesn’t hear Taehyung saying anything, doesn’t think Taehyung will say anything, especially not to him. In the end, Jungkook ends up speaking again in an attempt to fill the silence and act cool, but also because he genuinely cares. “Are you okay?”

 

The feeling of Taehyung stiffening up beside him can’t be missed. “And why would you care?” Jungkook can just about hear the ‘you don’t even know me’ hidden in between his words.

 

“You just looked really upset back there,” Jungkook decides on, doing his best to look Taehyung in the eye and show him he’s genuinely wanting to know. “I know with all of this audition stuff going on, it must be really difficult and stressful, especially after you worked so hard on it.”

 

“I must say, that’s really something coming from you, basket boy,” Taehyung says and to Jungkook’s surprise he laughs too. “I mean it‘s-”

 

“You have a really nice laugh.” And there Jungkook goes again with his no brain to mouth filter. The way Taehyung narrows his eyes questioningly at him is sort of alarming to say the least. “I mean, well I meant it as, you should laugh more often. Not that you have to, just that I think people would be less scared of you if you did.” And it’s true because Taehyung’s laugh sounds so different to his usual voice. It still holds the deep pitch of his talking voice but there’s a sort of airiness to it that makes it seem a lot more carefree and… cute. It’s most definitely like music to Jungkook’s ears.

 

“Who says I want people to be less scared of me?” Taehyung asks with a slight smirk. Then just like that, the subject goes back to what was at hand. “As I was saying, it is one of your jock friends that has decided to stray against what he’s supposed to be doing.” Jungkook can’t necessarily argue with that. “He’s the one that’s ruined my plan!”

 

Jungkook sighs, wanting nothing more than to reach out and tuck Taehyung’s dyed blond hair behind his ear in hopes to calm him down a bit. Obviously he doesn’t do it but it’s the thought that counts, right? “I don’t know about that,” Jungkook starts, earning Taehyung’s full attention. “Well, the auditions still haven’t happened yet so there’s still a chance that you and Hoseok will get the lead roles again. Either way, the musical would be the best it could possibly be because I know Ms Darbus would never be biased with judging the auditions. And that’d make you happy, right? To have the best possible show?”

 

Taehyung seems to contemplate his reply before he’s nodding, albeit slowly. “I guess. It’s just that, Hobi and I worked so hard.”

 

“And I get that but I guess we just have to let the roles decide who they want to end up with.” Jungkook hopes he’s being even the slightest bit helpful and he feels like maybe he is, just a little bit, because Taehyung’s pout looks to have lessened significantly. He should have stopped there though, should have stopped trying to play it cool as soon as Taehyung’s pout disappeared but he’s way too much sometimes and ends up saying, “besides, Yoongi helped a lot of us open up about our passions.”

 

Taehyung’s eyes change scarily quickly and turn from understanding to murderous in seconds. “You what?” he exclaims, leaning so close that his nose almost touches Jungkook’s. In any other situation, Jungkook probably would have blushed.

 

“I mean- I didn’t- we were all just talking and-”

 

“You what, Jungkook?” Taehyung repeats and oh shit, that’s the first time he’s ever said his name. 

 

Jungkook is freaking out. He’s freaking out to the max and it’s entirely for that reason that he ends up blurting out the truth. “I like to cook and bake.”

 

“Wow,” Taehyung whispers then, looking completely away from Jungkook. The fact that there’s no amazement in his tone despite the one word he lets out, has the butterflies in Jungkook’s stomach sinking. It feels like he’s just been punched in the gut if he’s being honest. “You know, even Hoseok has been telling me that I’m overworking and overreacting just a little bit. So when you showed up, I thought maybe I had somebody on my side, even if I didn’t know who the heck you were and why you were so keen on talking to me. But you, a basketball player, are telling me you like to frost cupcakes in your free time?”

 

Jungkook can’t formulate words for a moment, especially not with the way Taehyung looks at him with genuine betrayal on his face. “Wait,” he says, brain finally catching up as soon as Taehyung stands and snatches his bag from the floor where it had been resting beside the piano leg. “I am on your side!”

 

But Taehyung ignores his insistence. “You’re just like the rest of them. I should have known that you'd stick with your friend.” Apparently, the bell decides it’s best to ring right then, signalling the end of lunch, just as Jungkook is about to reply. Taehyung doesn’t spare him another glance as he stalks his way to the door, leaving Jungkook there with a half hearted, “I need to go to class.”

 

Jungkook sighs as he too grabs his bag, feeling quite sorry for himself as the scent of almond that he likes so much begins to fade away.

 

Of course only he’d be capable of levelling up then fucking up his pending friendship with his crush in less than an hour.



●●●



Coach Min doesn’t take the news very well.

 

Not only does one of his star players admit he likes to play Remy the rat in his free time, - coach’s words, not Jungkook’s - his own son wants to act in a musical?

 

At first, Coach Min doesn’t seem to have heard about what had transpired during the day and pushes them hard like normal on the outdoor court, that Monday evening. It’s freezing, the floor is icy and the players let out air of white condensation after every breath, yet he insists it will help them gain their strength and stamina. 

 

It’s chaos from the very beginning because absolutely none of them are playing as well as they normally do, not while there’s a very obvious split in the team which causes petty arguments and foul play. Their teamwork is the worst it’s ever been and it genuinely feels like they’re not even trying to hide the fact that they don’t want to pass the ball to one another, which, mind you, is totally unacceptable when the whole point of the game is to do just that!

 

It doesn’t take their coach long to notice that something isn’t right. Jungkook pushes his hair back off his forehead for the umpteenth time just as Coach Min blows the whistle, dragging the sound out in a long, shrill tone. Before he knows it, he’s sat uncomfortably on the tiny bench, wet and cold with condensation, in between Yoongi and Namjoon. Even as their coach stares down at them with a murderous gaze, face flushed red in anger and all, Jungkook can’t help but remember what Taehyung had said earlier, before their interaction went to complete shit. He hadn’t realised before just how large each of his team members are, (Yoongi not included, sorry Yoongi) and after squishing together on this bench time and time again, he realises they’ve never complained. Not once. Even now, while they’re all in the middle of a… disagreement, not one of them complains about being packed together like sardines in a tin, thighs and arms wedged between them.

 

“We’ve got our first championship game of the year this Thursday,” Coach Min starts, arms crossed over his chest. “Thursday! That’s in less than four days now. Am I right?”

 

“Yes, coach,” is the robotic reply from the sulking team.

 

“So, can someone tell me what in the name of hell is going on here?” Jungkook flinches at the way their coach raises his voice, looking each and every one of them in the eye.

 

Jungkook isn’t usually petty but he’ll be honest, today during practice he had quite a bit of difficulty passing the ball to some of his teammates when they’d been glaring at him all day. And for that, he’s filled with shame. So instead of speaking up, he stares down at his trainers with his body stiff, waiting for someone else to cut the silence.

 

In the end, it’s Namjoon speaking first. “There was a slight altercation, coach.”

 

“Altercation my ass,” he hears Seokjin sneer. “Yoongi and Jungkook have decided they want to sing and cook.” It’s said in spite, like Seokjin is trying to be very open about his distaste for their choices.

 

From there, everything goes to shit. Coach Min doesn’t shout but he does lecture them with a slight growl in his tone, showcasing just how angry he is. He goes on and on about how he doesn’t get to decide for them but that he is very disappointed. Jungkook doesn’t look up throughout the entire talk but from what he can hear, it’s not helping with the divide at all. Coach only seems to be telling off Jungkook and Yoongi as well as the few players that backed them up. He doesn’t once talk about how the rest of them shouldn’t be so hostile to their teammates and their hobbies, and should instead keep personal affairs outside of practice. And something about that, something about getting chastised for doing what he enjoys, has a spark of rare anger cursing through Jungkook’s blood. And amongst all that anger, is pain.

 

“Especially you, Yoongi,” Coach Min continues with the lecturing, “I was not expecting this from you, at all. And obviously, I’m not allowed to tell you two what to do.” This time Jungkook can hear the words being sent in his direction which mean Coach Min is acknowledging him as well. “But I hope you two can think this through properly.”

 

“There’s nothing to think through!” The outburst from Yoongi has Jungkook looking up almost immediately. His friend is now standing, rather than being sat beside him, and his face looks to be just as flushed as his dad’s. His words echo around the court and into the darkening sky, and they even seem to trail after him as he stalks away towards the locker rooms.

 

After Yoongi storms out, the silence is so thick that it could probably be cut by a knife. Jungkook feels the way a few angered gazes are turned towards him and so he does the only thing he thinks is acceptable in such a situation. He kicks off the bench and follows after Yoongi, leaving the stunned team behind.

 

Jungkook walks into the room to the sound of a locker slamming shut, though he pays it no attention as he moves to retrieve his things too. Wordlessly, he and Yoongi leave side by side, walking around the building so they don’t have to pass the courts again. Jungkook glances at his friend a few times, happy to find that he seems to have calmed down significantly, arms swinging forwards and backwards as they continue through to school towards the gates.

 

“Yoongi,” he speaks into the silence, receiving a hum in response, “will you still do it?”

 

Yoongi doesn’t miss a beat. “Of course I will,” he states, voice soft yet filled with a sort of rigidity that implies nothing can sway his decision.

 

“Good,” Jungkook says with a nod. He genuinely feels so proud of his friend.

 

They reach the gates then and stand just outside of school grounds, prolonging their time together before they have to walk down opposite pavements.

 

“I really like Jimin,” Yoongi admits, staring up at the darkening blue sky.

 

“I know you do,” Jungkook reassures. “And I know you like performing too.”

 

Their eyes connect at that and there’s a moment where they communicate through that. Jungkook can see the relief in Yoongi’s eyes and completely understands what it feels like because it feels like it’s only the two of them at this point. The least they can do is stick by each other.

 

“I hope I can taste a few of your dishes one day, Kook.”

 

Jungkook chuckles, pulling his jacket closer around him as the chilly evening wind picks up. He’s about to reply, maybe boast a bit about how Yoongi is missing out when he’s cut off by the sound of what can only be described as a bunch of rowdy zoo animals. Jungkook gets shoved a few inches down the pathway as he feels an arm wrap around his shoulder and a different hand ruffle up his hair.

 

“See you two tomorrow,” Jonah says, with a wink.

 

Jungkook doesn’t mean to gawk but the sight of Lucas shoving Yoongi into a playful headlock and a few of his other friends smiling brightly their way, has him speechless. It’s not the entire team, the few that hate the idea of Jungkook and Yoongi focusing on other hobbies no doubt staying back with Coach Min. It sort of hurts to see that Seokjin and Namjoon - two of his closest friends - are nowhere to be seen. But there’s a good amount of them here, reassuring them that they’re on their side without having to say the words. 

 

Through all the chaos, Jungkook catches Yoongi’s eye, all crinkled and bright from joy. So he smiles back.

 

Maybe it isn’t just the two of them after all.



●●●



The next day, Jungkook walks to school alone. To be fair, it’s what he was expecting.

 

He doesn’t have Seokjin hanging off his shoulder, forcing him to carry both of their body weights to school while trying hard not to slip on the icy floor and crack his head open. He doesn’t have Namjoon waiting for them at the front gates of school, waving them over and mouthing at them to hurry up. What he does have, however, is Yoongi walking down the school hallway with him as they head to their first class.

 

At first, it feels a little odd to have people looking their way, staring at them as if they have dicks drawn on their foreheads. But after sleeping through Mr Roberts’ class and waking up with a cleared mind, things get better. By lunchtime, things have shifted around a bit and it’s obvious to Jungkook that people have already gotten bored of staring.

 

Jungkook sits with Yoongi at lunch, away from their usual table. He forks at his sloppy macaroni and cheese, trying not to think about how it has way too much cheese and not enough seasoning, as Yoongi rattles on about how excited he is to have a free period next lesson. Jungkook does too, but he sure doesn’t have a musical practice with his crush to look forward to. In fact, his crush hates him.

 

“I’m really proud of you, Yoongi,” he says, despite his thoughts and despite the fact that Taehyung, chatting away with Hoseok a few tables away, is clear in his line of vision. “Didn’t you say your dad gave you the cold shoulder at home last night?”

 

“Yeah,” Yoongi scoffs, “but I gave it to him back.” Yoongi seems completely unbothered as he shovels his own pasta into his mouth. “Besides, by going against his wishes, I get to perform on stage with Jimin even if it’s just for auditions.”

 

Jungkook smirks and quirks his brow suggestively. “Are you sure you’re not in love with Park Jimin already?”

 

Yoongi doesn’t reply but the kick to his shin under the table and the blooming pink cheeks, are enough of an answer for Jungkook.

 

Before the end of lunch, a few of their team members join them at their secluded table much to Jungkook’s surprise. Again, it’s not all of them but it’s good to know some of their friends are supporting them. Even when Jungkook catches Seokjin’s and Namjoon’s eye multiple times from tables and tables away, he still feels relieved to have at least a few of his friends here.

 

After lunch, Yoongi rushes off, babbling about practice with Jimin, and the rest of their friends leave eventually too to head to their final classes of the day. Jonah tells Jungkook that they can spend their free period together and that he’ll be waiting in the library. For now, that leaves Jungkook alone in the emptying hallway. He’d told a little white lie and said he needed to use the toilet when in actuality, his eye had caught a tuft of dirty blond hair heading towards the bathrooms.

 

Their school bathrooms are surprisingly clean for those belonging to a high school. Everytime he walks in, the floor is mopped and shiny, so much so that Jungkook’s trainers squeak against it, and the smell in the air is that of the janitor’s cleaning products rather than piss or smoke of the gangster wannabes’ cigarettes.

 

Jungkook looks left and right and finds that the hallways have completely emptied out by now and so he takes a deep breath and pushes the bathroom door open. He’s careful to lift his feet off the ground properly to avoid the squeaking and he’s paying close attention to it too, until he stops dead in his tracks. All he can smell is sweet almonds and strawberries. Even over the bleach and toilet cleaner, Jungkook actually feels the way the intoxicating scent fills his nose.

 

Jungkook mentally slaps himself once he realises he’s still standing at the door like an absolute twat. He takes one more deep breath of the amazing scent, then pushes forward and rounds the corner, only to find the source of the smell right in front of the bathroom mirror. Taehyung doesn’t see him at first and continues with faffing about with his hair before he pulls out what looks to be lip balm from the front pocket of his plaid trousers. Even from here, Jungkook can tell it’s surprisingly the same brand he uses, except it’s strawberry flavoured rather than the cocoa scent Jungkook usually goes for.

 

Once again, Jungkook is caught up in a trance as he stands there and watches Taehyung’s face in the mirror, as he pouts out his lips to moisturise. It’s only after he’s done capping his lip balm, that Taehyung catches Jungkook’s eye in the mirror, face momentarily morphing into one of shock. He looks to startle then whips around to face Jungkook with an accusatory glare.

 

“What the hell are you doing over there?” he growls and to be honest, Jungkook had it coming to him for staring like such a freak.

 

“Sorry, I blanked out,” he says, stumbling over his words slightly as he fights to hold eye contact with Taehyung. “I just wanted to come and check if you were okay.”

 

Taehyung looks to contemplate his words for a second, leaning back on the sink behind him and making a show of just how bored he is. Then, after crossing his arms, he says, “well, you checked and I’m fine.”

 

Jungkook feels the way his own lips downturn slightly at that and he physically has to hold himself back from full on frowning. Taehyung very obviously doesn’t want him to be anywhere near him but after yesterday, Jungkook wants to make things right.

 

“Are you really going to be angry with me?” Jungkook asks. He takes a few dangerous steps closer, until he’s a mere two feet away from him, to the point where he is completely engulfed by Taehyung’s scent.

 

Yet Taehyung continues playing nonchalant with his short and snappy answers. “Angry? Why would I be angry?”

 

Jungkook tries to hold it in but in the end, he can’t help the sigh that escapes past his lips. “Taehyung, I’m sorry. I really am.” Even to himself, he sounds desperate yet Taehyung continues to stare at him, looking completely unbothered. “Even if I admitted I like other things other than basketball, I’m still who I was before. I’m still constantly thinking about talking to you and being around you. I’m still on your side.” I’m still crazy for you.

 

“I beg to differ,” Taehyung states melodramatically. “To me it just proves that you’re on their side. That you don’t want Hoseok and I to get the part.”

 

Jungkook can’t believe what he’s hearing. “Taehyung, you’re wrong. You’re so wrong! Of course I want you to get the part but I also want Yoongi to get the part equally as much as I want you to.” Taehyung raises a stern eyebrow, so Jungkook pushes himself to elaborate. “I know that it makes no sense since you’re part of two different pairs but what I mean is, I know how hard you worked for this and I know how much you want it. But I don’t just know , I support you. And I admire you. Because I know for a fact that in the end, it’s the joy on the audience’s face after a show that you want. It’s the fun you have performing and the joy it brings others that you enjoy the most. Not the attention like you make it out to be.”

 

For once, Taehyung doesn’t say a word. And for once, Jungkook is the one who holds eye contact while Taehyung seemingly struggles to do the same. Still, Jungkook doesn’t feel accomplished or fulfilled in any way. All he feels, is happy that Taehyung has heard what he’s been wanting to tell him for almost a year. 

 

And just because he wants to make sure Taehyung truly knows how amazing Jungkook thinks he is, he continues. 

 

“You’re not the ice prince that everyone thinks you are. You just love performing. It’s your passion. It’s your dream. I see that and I admire it. I admire everything about you.”

 

Jungkook watches as the previously hard look on Taehyung’s face drops. His demeanour shifts entirely and suddenly he looks way softer than he ever has. He blinks up at Jungkook for a moment, still having yet to say a word, and it feels like he’s studying his face, gaze darting back and forth between both of Jungkook’s eyes.

 

Then all too quickly, the silence is cut off by the sound of blood rushing through Jungkook’s ears, something that only ever happens to him before a big match and the adrenaline hasn’t kicked in. The silence is cut off by the sound of Jungkook’s rapidly beating heart that he swears is shaking his rib cage and causing it to audibly rattle. The silence is cut off by footsteps - Taehyung’s footsteps - as he closes the distance between their bodies and comes to stand a mere hair’s breadth away from Jungkook.

 

Despite how much he wants to, Jungkook doesn’t let himself look away. He keeps his eyes locked onto Taehyung’s, taking in the dark, chocolate brown colour, so sweet and hypnotising. He’s never had the chance to see them up so close and so he takes advantage of the moment and oggles as much as he can no matter how much of a creep he’d seem like. Either way, Taehyung’s doing the same thing with his own eyes, studying every part of Jungkook’s face that he just feels so… exposed? Exposed. Exposed in the best way possible.

 

Jungkook becomes impossibly more aware of everything when he feels Taehyung’s fingers, lightly brushing against his own in the space between their bodies. It’s a soft, delicate touch that is enough to send tingles up the rest of his arm, but Jungkook knows better than to believe it’s accidental. His beliefs are only reinforced when he feels Taehyung’s fingers grab onto his thumb, clinging on with a sort of desperateness despite his eyes remaining in the same unbothered gaze.

 

The piece of blond hair falling over Taehyung’s forehead, the one he’d been fixing moments before Jungkook had even entered the bathroom, the one that always has Jungkook’s finger’s itching to fix, is waiting. It’s waiting, just a simple movement away from Jungkook’s fingers.

 

Taehyung doesn’t fix it for himself though he does look at Jungkook coyly, almost like he’s asking for him to do it for him. Jungkook momentarily glances down between them, only to find that they’re closer than they’d been before and the tips of their shoes touch. Taehyung squeezes his thumb once, a silent challenge.

 

In a moment of braveness, Jungkook pushes aside any nerves that had been coursing through his body and lifts up his free hand. He pauses right beside Taehyung’s face, hesitating and wondering if this is a good idea. But then Taehyung’s eyes are sliding shut, long lashes creating a slight shadow at his cheeks. And so Jungkook goes for it.

 

He takes the piece of hair gently and tucks it behind Taehyung’s pierced ear, nail clicking against the dangly silver earring he’s wearing. It’s so quiet that the small sound is enough to fill the air around them, though it barely does anything to cut through the tension. Jungkook doesn’t know what’s gotten into him, but he keeps his hand there, holding Taehyung’s head in his hand even if his breath does hitch after the latter opens his eyes again. 

 

All of a sudden it’s just the two of them.

 

Jungkook genuinely doesn’t think there’s anybody else left in this world apart from the two of them. All he can see, all he can think about is Taehyung. Fuck the basketball. Fuck the cooking and baking. Jungkook’s mind is just full of Taehyung and in that moment, he wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

“You know, you’re weirdly nice to look at up this close,” Taehyung murmurs, breaking the silence with his low and airy voice. His words and the way his warm breath fans over Jungkook’s lips, has his heart stuttering in his chest.

 

“I-” Jungkook starts, before clearing his throat, “I think the same about you.” That’s a lie. Because Jungkook thinks more than that.

 

It’s just the two of them.

 

The earth has stopped turning too at this point.

 

Jungkook doesn’t know what to do. He’s never been like this with Taehyung and the other boy doesn’t seem to want to move away any time soon. Jungkook doesn’t want to move away either.

 

Because it’s just the two of them.

 

“Can I,” Jungkook whispers, eyes flickering down to Taehyung’s glossy pink lips before snapping back to his sparkling eyes. “Can I-”

 

“Tae! Didn’t you say you wanted to practice?”

 

The sound of the bathroom door being shoved open is enough to have Jungkook startling and trying to back away from the little world they’d built for themselves. However, Taehyung keeps him right where he is, gripping his thumb like it’s a lifeline. Even when Jungkook catches sight of Hoseok in the mirror, watching on with a gobsmacked expression, Taehyung doesn’t let go.

 

Instead he pulls them impossibly closer to one another until their foreheads are pressed together, with his eyes fixed solely on Jungkook’s lips.

 

“Tae?” Hoseok asks warily. “What the hell are you doing?” But Taehyung ignores him.

 

“You know nothing about me, bakery boy.” The word is said sharply, like it angers Taehyung to say it.

 

Jungkook is at a loss for words. In a split second, Taehyung is pulling away from him and then shouldering past him, just like the first time Jungkook saw him.

 

Jungkook whips around to find Taehyung pulling Hoseok by the arm, despite the question in his facial expressions. Even as Taehyung tugs him, urging him to leave so they can go and practice, Hoseok has half the mind to smile at Jungkook apologetically. 

 

But Jungkook barely pays any attention to that as he leans against the sink with a deep breath and a rapidly beating heart. 

 

Because all he can think about is the fact that Taehyung walked away without a single glance back.



●●●



That evening, Jungkook gets to basketball practice in a bit of a mood.

 

He’s got all these emotions running through his body and quite frankly, he doesn’t know what to do with himself. He even considers skipping practice but knows that wouldn’t be the best idea, especially not when most of the team hates him already.

 

He and Yoongi are in the locker room alone. Yoongi hasn’t spoken a word since he entered but he had a big smile on his face indicating his practice had gone well with Jimin. But Jungkook’s afternoon obviously went entirely differently because here he is, sitting on a rusty bench with his head in his hands.

 

“Kook?” Yoongi asks, finally breaking the silence as his locker creaks shut. “What’s, um- you seem upset.”

 

In any other situation, Jungkook probably would have chuckled, maybe even cooed a bit at Yoongi’s obvious worry. He’d say they’re best friends but they’ve never been the type to share their bad experiences with each other, instead focusing on the happy things. So it’s probably a given that it’s this awkward between them when it comes to talking about feelings. Still - even through the sadness, hopelessness, fear, anger, the list goes on - Jungkook has half the mind to be thankful for Yoongi because he’s trying to help even if it probably feels weird.

 

Jungkook glances up from between his knees once he feels Yoongi’s presence beside him as he takes a seat on the bench. “I just haven’t had the best afternoon,” he admits, before adding, “and to make things worse, most of our friends hate us.”

 

Yoongi flinches at the second half and then seemingly decides to ignore it for the moment. “What happened this afternoon?”

 

“It’s embarrassing,” Jungkook groans, going straight back to having his head in his hands. The image of Taehyung looking at his lips so intently that he’d felt like he was about to explode, has ingrained itself into his mind and he just can’t help but mentally slap himself for actually almost kis- “All I’m going to say is,” he mutters, interrupting his own thoughts, “I’ve been making progress with Taehyung but now it’s all ruined because he’s angry with me.”

 

It’s silent for a moment and Jungkook decides to bask in it rather than try to break it. For all he knows, Yoongi may just be thinking about what his best reply would be. But he starts becoming a bit wary when after quite a few long minutes, Yoongi still hasn’t said anything and if Jungkook’s correct, the rest of the team should be here any second now.

 

Jungkook glances up at Yoongi, only to find the other already looking straight at him, eyes drooping slightly and lips downturned. At that, Jungkook immediately jolts up from his position so that he’s sitting straight, hand reassuringly at Yoongi’s shoulder. 

 

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi says, voice coming out slightly shaky. “This is my fault. If I hadn’t- you said it because you wanted to help me. It’s all because of me that Jimin is getting unsure of his talent even if he’s the most amazing singer I’ve ever heard. It’s all because of me that Taehyung doesn’t want to talk to you even though you’ve been head over heels for him since the day you started school here.”

 

Jungkook is so shook right now. Yoongi genuinely sounds apologetic and it pains Jungkook because none of this is his fault at all! “Yoongi,” he tries, “none of this is your-”

 

“It’s all because of me that our team, our best friends, hate us.”

 

He’s wrong. Yoongi is so wrong. And Jungkook wants to tell him he’s wrong but that’s sort of difficult to do when his mouth hangs open at the sight of the sheen to Yoongi’s eyes. They water over quickly but even then, Jungkook can tell that it’s something that’s been building up inside him for a long time.

 

Just then there’s the telltale sound of footsteps and Jungkook is only left even more speechless once he sees how many people are walking in. How many people are looking straight at Yoongi and him.

 

At the front of the group is surprisingly Namjoon and Seokjin. It seems to be the whole team behind them and each and every one of them looks on with eyes wide like they’ve just seen ghosts. As much as Jungkook wants to get up and run away, he stays put, arm now sliding over his friend’s shoulder. Yoongi needs him.

 

“Look, guys,” Jungkook starts, trying to seem as unbothered as possible, when in reality, he feels his heart sink at the thought that their team, their best friends, their brothers, don’t want them here. In the midst of all of that also lies a tiny spark of anger, which is probably what is actually egging him on to speak his mind right now. “I know this might be shocking. Most of you probably don’t want us anywhere near here. But just because Yoongi and I like to do other things, it doesn’t mean we don’t want to be on this team anymore. And I know most of you can’t believe we had the balls to come back here in the first place, but I’m sorry, you have no right to even try to kick us off the team when we’ve done nothing wrong.”

 

He watches as Seokjin’s eyes get impossibly wider. “Jung-”

 

“So, please,” Jungkook continues, interrupting Seokjin. “For the sake of the team and our match in two days. Please, can we just play as normal? Please, can we just pretend we’re okay?”

 

“No.”

 

This time it’s Namjoon speaking, voice authoritative and stern. Jungkook feels Yoongi stiffen beside him yet the both of them don’t say a word, don’t know how to say anything to that.

 

“No,” Seokjin repeats Namjoon, “we can’t pretend we’re okay.” Jungkook can't bring himself to say anything back to that but he does feel his heart begin to speed up in fear, at the thought he may just get kicked off the team right now. By his best friend. “Because we’re not okay.”

 

Suddenly, Yoongi stands up and Jungkook is quick to follow, keeping his arm securely around his friend. “We’ll just leave,” Yoongi says, voice shaky and filled with a sense of grief. 

 

“But none of it is your fault.”

 

Jungkook snaps his eyes away from his locker that he had been just about ready to retrieve his things from, only to come eye to eye with Seokjin.

 

“Not yours, Yoongi and not yours either, Jungkook,” Namjoon agrees, bringing all attention to him now. “It’s our fault. We’ve been shitty teammates and even shittier friends.” This gains a few quiet sounds of agreement and Jungkook just can’t explain why that feeling of hope begins rising through him.

 

“I’m sorry,” Jooheon chips in, which then leads to Zay apologising, then Chi, then Jisung, and so on. It’s like some sort of chain reaction and Jungkook is left completely speechless by how genuine they all look and sound.

 

Jungkook slowly turns to look at Yoongi and they both sort of just stare at each other for a moment, having a telepathic conversation. The rest of the boys interrupt this however as they all barge into them, causing a few to topple over onto the floor. It’s a mess of groans of pain, doggy piles and long awaited embraces and Jungkook even gets an, “excited to try your food, man.”

 

In the end, Jungkook feels one of the weights being lifted off of his shoulders. One of them.

 

But he doesn’t have time to overthink the other weight because Seokjin’s voice is echoing through the room as he shouts out in glee.

 

“We’re going to make sure you get that part, Yoongi!”



●●●



Practice goes well, even better than it ever has. They work together as a team and Coach Min seems pleased enough, even if the slight furrow of his brows is there everytime he looks at his son.

 

The next day, Wednesday, one day before their big game and the callbacks, Jungkook feels weirdly at ease. At least about most things.

 

He’s probably supposed to be stressing out, forcing his brain to focus on their upcoming game but as he opens up his chemistry textbook, right before the class starts, a girl walks up to his desk. She’s small and cute, hair dyed a fiery red colour, and her sense of style is somewhat quirky with the brightly coloured t-shirt she wears under a set of dark dungarees.

 

“Hello, Jungkook,” she says, smiling wide and friendly.

 

“Hey,” Jungkook responds, smiling back at her as she stands above his desk, despite this being such a weird situation. He really hopes she hasn’t realised that he hasn’t said her name. The name he doesn’t know.

 

“My name is Nancy.” There it is. “You probably don’t know me but I’m the president of the cookery club.”

 

Suddenly Jungkook is all the more hyper-aware as he sits up straight in his chair. Luckily, the students piling into the room pay them no attention. “Oh,” he replies, “oh. The cookery club?”

 

“Yep,” Nancy chirps, popping the ‘p’ at the end of the word. “This may sound weird but would you want to come to one of our after school sessions, maybe next week? You can have a look around and have a feel for what our club is like, then decide if you’d be up for joining.” She speaks so quickly and assuredly that Jungkook almost misses it. “We’ve heard about your hobby and we thought it would be really cool to have a jock as a part of our club.”

 

“Oh, I-”

 

“We like to gather to cook and bake,” she continues, excitedly, seemingly not having noticed he’d said anything. “And we hold lots of bake sales and fundraisers for charity, and we’ve even joined elementary school fetes where we got the kids to decorate sweet treats however they wanted. Some of us even hold classes for the kids that want to learn more. We just-”

 

Nancy only stops babbling at the sound of the chemistry teacher’s voice. “Nancy, you don’t have my class today, do you?” she asks, cat eye framed glasses sliding down her nose, as she sets up in front of the interactive board.

 

“My apologies, Mrs Zhang,” Nancy says, “I’ll be out in just a moment.”

 

Mrs Zhang nods, seemingly very trusting of Nancy. “Make it quick, please. The bell will ring any second now and my class will begin.”

 

Nancy turns quickly back to Jungkook, holding out a hand in front of her. Jungkook looks down at it for a moment, confused about what she wants from him, but as she nods down at her hand, it makes sense. Warily, he takes it in his own hand, encompassing it easily with how small her’s is, then lets her shake it up and down.

 

“This is a promise handshake,” she whispers mysteriously. “A promise that you’ll come to our next session.”

 

Jungkook doesn’t even get the chance to agree or disagree with that because next thing he knows, Nancy is bouncing out of the room, chemistry class starts and ends in a flash, and Jungkook is excitedly rushing to the canteen in hopes of finding his friends.

 

But just as he’s been trying to ignore that little whisper in the back of his head, masking his sadness with the excitement of being invited to join the cookery club, he’s faced right with it in person. 

 

No but, he’s literally faced with it as he stumbles right into Taehyung in his haste to get to the lunch table.

 

“Hey!” Taehyung exclaims, stumbling back and almost crashing onto the poetry lovers’ lunch table. And it’s right where he would have landed if not for Jungkook’s fast reflexes, arm darting out to wrap around his waist, hand resting at his lower back. “Watch where you’re-”

 

Taehyung cuts himself off as soon as their eyes make contact. In the moment, Jungkook thought it was a good idea to do this, wrap his arm around Taehyung and stop him from falling on a bunch of strangers’ food. But that in turn has brought them toe to toe, chest to chest, eye to eye. And even if they’d been in a very similar position the day before, Jungkook’s heart starts thumping in his chest at an inhuman speed, so fast that he almost lets go of Taehyung.

 

But he doesn’t. He holds on and he holds on tight.

 

He has to apologise. He has to tell Taehyung he didn’t mean to hurt him or make him feel like he’s not on his side. He has to tell Taehyung how he feels about him.

 

“Taehyung, I-”

 

“Watch where you’re going, basket boy.”

 

Of course, Jungkook doesn’t get to say any of it. In a matter of seconds, Taehyung is pulling away from him, letting Jungkook’s hand slip and fall away from him. Any eye contact that had been there is cut off as Taehyung gives Jungkook the cold shoulder, turning away from him with a huff. Then he’s gone, stalking away to line up for lunch.

 

Jungkook feels eyes on him from all directions, including those of the lunch table he and Taehyung had almost caused calamity to. But the only ones to catch his eye are the looks of sympathy from his friends, sitting just a few tables away.

 

Jungkook tries to play it cool but it’s true, that word will never be a part of his personal dictionary. Even then, he pushes forward and explains to his friends about how excited he is to be invited to the cookery club. Nobody mentions what pretty much the entire school had just witnessed between him and Taehyung, and he has to say, he’s grateful for that.

 

Their final team practice before the big game goes well. By the end of it they’re all sweaty, heavy breathing messes and they’ve even secretly planned out a way of making it through tomorrow. It’s simple. They’ll play the first half of the game, then duck out for the auditions during the half an hour break, then sprint back for the latter half of the game. Coach Min seems even more quiet during today’s session but he doesn’t seem like he’s noticed their conspiracies.

 

The basketball team leaves the locker rooms loudly, just the same as they always do. And just like always, Jungkook hesitates, stopping every once in a while and ending up falling back behind the group. He can hear loud music, indicating there’s definitely practice going on in the auditorium, but once he remembers what had happened earlier on in the afternoon, he wonders if going there is such a good idea. In the end - again, just like always - Namjoon stops in his tracks then turns back, as the others continue on. Come to think of it, it’s pretty odd that the one person on the team, who’s most afraid of Taehyung, is always the one encouraging Jungkook to go and see him.

 

“Sorry,” Jungkook’s rushes to say, only now realising that he’s stopped on the pathway, a fair few steps away from the group. “I was just-”

 

“Go.”

 

“What?”

 

Namjoon just repeats calmly, “go, Jungkook.”

 

Jungkook doesn’t need to be told again because next thing he knows, he’s standing at the exit door of the auditorium, right at the very back. Just like he’d thought, Taehyung and Hoseok are up on stage, lights shining brightly down on their faces as they practice.

 

Now, this is a position Jungkook’s been in many, many times. He’s always just slipped into the room and taken the seat closest to the exit, hidden away behind the rows and rows of foldable red chairs. But today there’s this spark in him, a selfish one probably, that urges him to walk a bit further. He tries to remain as inconspicuous as possible, even as he heads down the tight pathway between the seats. He actually praises the gods of theatre that the stage lights are on and are probably blinding Taehyung and Hoseok from seeing him right now.

 

Jungkook scurries along then all but nose dives into one of the seats about halfway to the stage. It’s closer than he’s ever been before and he almost sighs in relief at the clear sight of Taehyung’s beautiful smile as he waltzes around on stage. Jungkook doesn’t have to squint, doesn’t have to lean forward and bend his neck in an awkward angle because from here he can see Taehyung perfectly. And he loves it. He loves that he gets to watch Taehyung in his element. He loves that even after quite the upsetting fallout, he gets to watch Taehyung dancing and singing with the most genuine smile on his face. He loves that he gets to witness that look Taehyung seems to get, every time he’s performing, looking as though he’s at peace. Jungkook loves-

 

“Can we try with the lights off, then turn them brighter and brighter as the song goes on?” Taehyung asks into his sleek, forest green microphone. And it’s only then that Jungkook realises the music has stopped and he’s completely fucked up.

 

It’s okay, he tells himself, if he’s fast enough he can leave before the lighting technician even has a chance to touch the light controls. If he’s fast enough, he can make it out of here without Taehyung noticing. And he truly believes he can do it, so he pushes off his seat with the intention to turn around and run out of there.

 

But apparently the lighting technician isn’t having any of it. Either that, or they’re too scared to keep Taehyung waiting.

 

Either way, just as Jungkook stands, the bright stage lights flicker off, leaving Taehyung and Hoseok to visibly relax now they don’t have to strain their eyes.

 

It’s okay, Jungkook tells himself yet again, there’s still time. Their eyes are undoubtedly still readjusting to the sudden lighting change and they probably can’t see the way he’s staring up at them like a deer caught in headlights, even if he wasn’t even the one under the lights in the first place.

 

So he begins moving, shifting slightly so he can push himself into the centre aisle. But he’s stopped yet again by an ear-splitting scream, ringing through the auditorium speakers.

 

“Fuck! Ghost!” It sounds like Hoseok, and Jungkook’s thoughts are only proven correct once he turns back slowly only to make eye contact with the guy himself.

 

Hoseok stares at him from the stage, eyes wide yet slightly unfocused. The look on his face is one of complete and utter terror and Jungkook has half the mind to put up his hands in surrender, as if to say he means no harm. But then his eyes stray over to Taehyung. And he doesn’t doubt for a second that his own features probably mirror Hoseok’s at this point. Because Taehyung is glaring at him, lips pursed out like he’s about to snarl.

 

Jungkook thinks about it for a second. There’s no point reassuring himself anymore because there’s no way in hell he’s making it out of here. Taehyung is glaring daggers at him, icy eyes piercing right through his skin and straight for his heart. Taehyung is placing his microphone down onto the stage, hopping off and landing on the floor just next to the front row seats. Taehyung is quickly stalking down the aisle in between the seats, clearly determined to get to where he wants.

 

Taehyung is heading right Jungkook’s way.

 

Jungkook takes a cowardly step back, ready to turn and run. It’s probably what anyone in a horror movie would do, right about now. But the fire he can see in Taehyung’s eyes, all the way from here, is enchanting. As much as it should probably push him to turn and run as far as he can, it instead keeps him rooted right where he is. It’s slightly intimidating, sure, but it’s also so bright, fiery and beautiful that he just can’t walk away when he could stand here and admire as the flames draw closer and closer. Then there’s also this tug in Jungkook’s heart, despite the fact that Taehyung is piercing it and twisting the knife in the most painful way. A tug that tells him not to run and to instead wait until the scent of almond and strawberries is close again. A tug that longs to have Taehyung close again.

 

“Jungkook,” Taehyung growls, stopping a mere seat’s width away. “What the hell are you doing here?”

 

Jungkook doesn’t say anything. He lets his eyes travel all over Taehyung’s face, then turns them to look behind him where a few people have gathered to watch from the stage. Each and every one of them look gobsmacked though Jungkook knows they probably can’t hear a word of what he and Taehyung are saying, from this far away. So, heart slightly more at ease now, he looks right back at Taehyung, letting out the embarrassing sigh of relief that he’d been holding in.

 

“Okay, you really need to stop doing that.” Taehyung still sounds pretty annoyed, but it’s obvious it’s slowly softening by the way his eyes have trained down at his shoes now, rather than Jungkook’s face. 

 

“Doing what?” Jungkook asks, taking a hesitant step towards Taehyung, just so he can hear him better. Yep. Only because of that. Nothing else. Absolutely nothing else. Nothing. No other reason. None at a-

 

“Staring at me like that, then expecting me to stay cool.”

 

The gasp Jungkook lets out is embarrassing. But the way he then chokes on his own saliva and begins to cough uncontrollably, is actually mortifying.

 

“I’m sorry,” he croaks out, finally getting a hold of himself. “I do this a lot. It’s creepy, I know, but I’ve been coming to watch your practices for so long and usually I just hide in the back but today I- what happened yesterday, what happened during lunch just made me want to see you closer.” Taehyung is looking at him now, eyes unreadable, only pushing Jungkook to babble more. “I just really like the way your face genuinely lights up when you’re on stage and that’s the only time you let the true you show so I always felt really happy watching it. It’s not the only reason but it’s one of the reasons why I have such a massive crush on you-”

 

“Wha-”

 

“And I know I have a basketball game tomorrow,” Jungkook continues, not even noticing what he’s let slip out or the fact that Taehyung tried to talk, “and I should probably be at home practicing or looking up old games of our opponents to learn about their play style. I know it. My dad would probably kill me if he found out where I was right now. But I can’t help it. I really like watching you perform. I think you have a really nice voice and you can dance and you can play the piano beautifully.”

 

“Jungkook-”

 

“And I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that I made you feel like I wasn’t on your side. I’m sorry that everything is changing so quickly. I’m sorry that I’ve never had the balls to come and speak to you even after I’ve watched the way people avoid you.” At this point, Jungkook knows he’s saying too much. It’s all going way too off topic but it’s stuff that has been eating away at him and he just has to let it out. Taehyung has a right to hear it from him. “I know it probably doesn’t feel nice to have people look at you like that, like they want to say something but are too scared to. I know I’ve done the same thing to you. And I’m so sorry for it. I wish I tried to become your friend sooner. I wish I told you how talented you are sooner. How much you deserve the part. How handsome you are. How nice you are. How sweet you are. How nice you smel-”

 

Jungkook’s mouth promptly snaps shut as soon as he feels a soft, warm pressure at his left cheek, right over the scar he’d gotten after fighting with Joonho when they were younger. It lingers for a moment and Jungkook stays put, relishing in the feeling of not only Taehyung’s lips at his cheek, but also his delicate hands placed at his shoulders. Jungkook has never had even a sip of alcohol before but he thinks the scent of almonds and strawberries, this close up, is what it feels like to be intoxicated. To be so out of your own body, it feels like you’re flying. Like you’ve lost control.

 

For a moment, Jungkook can’t move. He can only imagine how dazed he must look, but even as Taehyung moves away, smacking his lips together in the most endearing way, he stares. He stays put and he stares. It’s second nature at this point, to just stand there and stare when Taehyung is around.

 

It only seems to become worse once he notices a slight pink tinge to Taehyung’s cheeks, the colour standing out vividly beside his dirty blond hair. The tingling Jungkook still feels at the skin Taehyung had kissed, plus the sight of his slightly flustered state, makes Jungkook’s own neck begin to burn as the flush of red no doubt rises steadily.

 

“Go, Jungkook,” Taehyung whispers, looking at anything and everything except Jungkook’s eyes. His words sound eerily similar to Namjoon’s. Hm, maybe those two have a lot more in common than they think.

 

The switch up is enough for Jungkook to finally blink. He blinks then he blinks again, deeming it impossible to remove his eyes away from the boy in front of him. He blinks, registers Taehyung’s words, blinks again, then nods. Infact, he nods twice, three times. 

 

Jungkook blinks, Jungkook nods, then Jungkook turns around, walking slowly back the way he came.

 

He can already see the light from the corridor, brightening up the exit like it’s leading him to some holy, spiritual place. But it’s not. It’s just leading Jungkook away from one of the brightest lights in his life.

 

It’s only once he’s at the exit door, one foot already in the hallway, that he feels the burning at the back of his neck. 

 

And it’s only then that he knows, his light is looking right this way, watching him leave.



●●●



“Hyung! That’s absolutely horrendous!”

 

Jungkook chuckles, tossing the basketball to his younger brother and watching as he aims, jumps, shoots, then misses the hoop.

 

“When did you learn such big words, little man?” he teases, jogging the length of the garden to fetch the ball.

 

“Hyung, you do know I’m twelve and a half, right?” Joonho asks in a whiny manner. “I’m in the top class for English.” If their mother were to hear him boasting this way, he probably would have been in trouble, but Jungkook lets it slide. After all, he needs his younger brother’s advice. “Anyway, hyung, you’re a wimp.”

 

“Joonho! What the hell?”

 

Their little garden lamp lights up Joonho’s mischievous expression and Jungkook is just so blinded by embarrassment that he doesn’t care for the way he’s let his potty mouth slip in front of his younger brother. Luckily, Joonho doesn’t realise.

 

“Well, he kissed you on the cheek and you just walked away?” Joonho sounds a little too grown up, in Jungkook’s opinion. “In a normal fairy tale, this would have been the turning point. The knight would have confessed his love to the prince right then and there. But no. You’re a wimp.”

 

“That’s not fair,” Jungkook huffs out, plopping down onto the smooth concrete their dad had placed in the garden for late night basketball practice, just like this one. “You weren’t even there, so you wouldn’t understand how it feels.” That and the fact that his brother is twelve. “Besides, he’s still sort of angry with me.”

 

“Sort of?”

 

“Sort of.”

 

Joonho silently takes a seat on the floor beside Jungkook, his small and slender body looking like an ant beside him. Although Jungkook had noticed his brother has been starting to grow taller, he doesn’t hold a lot of muscle mass, something he often teases him about. ‘One day I’ll be bigger than you,’ is what Joonho always insists, but Jungkook doubts it.

 

The two of them stay quiet for a while and Jungkook knows his brother is just using the time to think. He waits it out, staring up at the night sky and wondering if Taehyung is looking up at it too. 

 

When Jungkook’s vision starts to get blurry from looking at the same tiny star for ages, finally, Joonho speaks again. “Why don’t you just make him something?”

 

“Wha-”

 

“Cookies! Everyone loves cookies!”

 

“Joonho, the whole point he’s angry is because I cook. He’s not going to-”

 

“Change his mind, hyung!” Joonho insists, nudging him with his shoulder. “You make the best cookies.”

 

Jungkook hates that he’s considering it. Sure, they do have all the ingredients at home and there is this one specific recipe he’s been dying to try. But if he were to go ahead with the idea he’d have to start baking pretty soon because their father would be home in a few hours. It would be such a dumb thing to do, wouldn’t it? Yeah. Definitely. Jungkook’s not going to do it. If he did do it, he’d only risk having Taehyung hate him even more and that’s something his poor heart can’t handle anymore. He just has to try to keep building up their blossoming friendship and hopefully Taehyung will come to accept it. He may not like it all that much but maybe he’ll accept it. So no, Jungkook isn’t going to do it. He isn’t going to bake Taehyung cookies. He isn’t-

 

“Okay,” Jungkook announces, catching his brother off guard for a moment as he stands up and pats his butt to get rid of any dirt.

 

“Okay?”

 

“Okay. I’ll do it.”



●●●



Jungkook is sprinting down the court, sweat dripping from his forehead all the way down to his jaw. The roaring cheers of the crowd have pretty much drowned out at this point but even then, he doesn’t need that excitement to push forward. He doesn’t need all those people screaming his name to get to that damn basket.

 

As far as he’s aware, the timer beside the scoreboard is ticking quicker than it ever has. It’s ticking and it’s ticking and in about thirty seconds, it’s going to reach zero. In other words, they have less than thirty seconds to score another basket, to win the first round.

 

A person from the opposite team, blue jersey mocking Jungkook with each step he takes, hops out in front of him, in an attempt to steal the ball. But Jungkook is not letting that happen. No way in hell.

 

Just as the boy steps in front of him, Jungkook tosses the ball up in the air, holding his breath as he watches it inch closer and closer to Yoongi’s hands. 

 

Jungkook doesn’t let that breath go even as Yoongi catches the ball. He doesn’t let that breath go even as the boy that had attempted to steal the ball off of him falls to the floor. He doesn’t let that breath go even as he watches the way Yoongi skilfully jumps into the air, ball poised and ready.

 

But the moment that ball effortlessly slips through the hoop and the buzzer for half time goes off, he lets it go.

 

And just like that, everything comes back to him. The shouts of excitement from the cheerleaders, audience and his team blows through his ears and in a matter of seconds Jungkook is joining in with the sweaty group hug. To all of the team, the cheers don’t even matter right now. All that matters in that moment is making sure Yoongi is at the bottom of a love-filled doggy pile.

 

It’s all fun, games and celebrations for the fact that they’re halfway there but then the commentator has finished announcing that East High has won the first round and it snaps just like that. Coach Min as well as half the audience look completely mind-blown at the fact that the entire basketball team is sprinting out of the gym when they should be sitting down, resting, drinking water, in prep for the second half of the game.

 

But Jungkook couldn’t care less.

 

In one quick motion, he grabs his bag and runs after his friends, all of them blindly running down the hallways to get to the auditorium.

 

They get there in record speed, but somehow Taehyung and Hoseok seem halfway through their audition. Neither of them seem fazed by the sudden audience but Jungkook notices the wide-eyed girl seated at the piano, fingers fumbling slightly over her keys. Even then, she doesn’t mess up once.

 

Jungkook takes a seat, ignoring the hisses of “shhh” and “be quiet” coming from his team as they all settle down. Taehyung and Hoseok are singing their hearts out, something about ‘bopping to the top’ but Jungkook can’t pay attention to anything they’re saying. Instead, his eyes follow Taehyung’s every move, ears picking out every little breath he takes into his microphone. He looks so incredibly happy on stage, so excited and at home. His eyes seem to sparkle and it’s not because of the bright stage lights shining down on him, but rather the passion that runs in his veins. In the end, Jungkook is so enthralled by Taehyung that he forgets to clap, even as everybody else around him erupts into a massive round of applause. 

 

He catches the surprise in Taehyung's eyes (something he knows nobody else has noticed) as he looks around at the audience, but just as quickly as it had appeared it’s gone again as he walks off stage after a quick bow. Jungkook continues to stare at the spot Taehyung had just been in, long after he’s gone, and even almost misses Ms Darbus’ calling for Yoongi and Jimin.

 

Everything that happens next, flashes before Jungkook’s eyes in almost an instant. He gets caught in a daze, mind running wild with thoughts about all sorts of things. Taehyung, basketball, Taehyung, cooking, Yoongi and Jimin, Taehyung, singing, performing, Taehyung and more Taehyung. He’s left in such a trance that he stays right where he is, while everybody else claps and cheers along to the beat of the song Yoongi and Jimin are performing.

 

They’re amazing. They shine on that stage, just the same way that Taehyung and Hoseok had, and they genuinely seem to be enjoying themselves. That sparkle is also in Yoongi’s eyes, Jungkook is almost blinded by how bright it is. But that sparkle has a lot more than passion. Now, Jungkook’s no cupid but he doesn’t doubt for a second that mixed in with all that passion, is love. It’s love that Yoongi looks at Jimin with. They dance and sing with each other on the stage in a pool of love. They are so in love with each other that it’s obvious they’ve forgotten this is an audition they’re at, and an audience is watching them.

 

In the end, love is what gets them those lead roles.

 

Everything around Jungkook is loud, so loud. There’s cheers for congratulations as Yoongi comes bounding towards them, pulling Jimin along with him. But there’s also yelling about how they have less than three minutes to get back to the court. Everything is so loud. But all Jungkook can hear is his own heart beat, hammering inside his chest.

 

“Jungkook,” he thinks someone calls. “Jungkook!” Yes that’s definitely someone calling for him.

 

Jungkook feels really bad for the way Yoongi is still smiling so brightly as he shakes him out of his stupor. Even after Jungkook failed to congratulate his friend, he’s smiling, all wide and gummy.

 

“Jungkook,” he calls again, this time right in front of his face. “We have three fucking minutes so you better get your ass to Taehyung right now!”

 

And it’s then that Jungkook finally admits.

 

He’s glad he chose a bunch of loud, rowdy jocks as his best friends.



●●●



“I need to- I really have to go but-”

 

Jungkook is panting embarrassingly, leaning against the wall to hold himself up. He has half the mind to worry about how bad he probably smells, with Taehyung right there.

 

“If you’re here to say you feel sorry for me not getting the lead role, then you can-”

 

“I like you.”

 

Taehyung blinks at Jungkook, for once keeping his mouth closed and not letting any snarky remarks through. For once, Taehyung seems to be speechless.

 

“You did great at the audition but I know you’re happy about how things turned out,” Jungkook rushes out, just barely holding himself back from bending himself in half to catch his breath. “I like you, Taehyung.”

 

Another blink.

 

Jungkook shoves a sweaty hand into his duffle bag and pulls out the small stack of cookies wrapped in cling film, handing it to Taehyung with slightly shaky fingers. “I like you a lot. And I made you cookies.”

 

“I don’t-”

 

“I have to go!”

 

Jungkook won’t admit it aloud but the only reason he interrupts Taehyung in that moment is not out of fear of being late for the game. He does it out of fear of hearing what exactly Taehyung was going to say. He whips around, ready to sprint back to the gym but it’s a strong grip on his wrist that has not only him, but also his heart, stopping.

 

“Jungkook.”

 

Jungkook doesn’t dare turn back around to look at Taehyung, and instead replies with his eyes fixed on the exit. “Yeah?”

 

“You better win that game, basket boy.”



●●●



The cheers are louder than they have ever been. The singing and chanting is even louder. It’s gotten to the point where Jungkook is worried he’ll go deaf.

 

There’s definitely those tiny sparks of nerves in him, and the worry of not being able to pull off this game. But when he hears his name being cheered as he runs to steal the ball, some of the nervousness is subdued. When he looks at his teammates’ faces - each and every one of them displaying nothing but determination - most of the nervousness is gone. And when he catches sight of dirty blond hair and an odd boxy smile, tucked carefully away at the side of the bleacher seats, it’s like nervousness never even existed in the first place.

 

You better win that game, basket boy,’ repeats like a mantra in his mind and Jungkook doesn’t even mind it. 

 

That evening, Jungkook scores the winning basket.

 

As he’s thrown up into the air by his teammates, as the cheering gets impossibly louder, as red and white balloons (where did they even come from?) fall in around them, as the opposing team sulk by their benches, as music begins to play and the audience starts to sing along to their school anthem, Jungkook is lost.

 

It’s like time stands still because all Jungkook can really focus on (apart from the excitement of winning the tournament), is Taehyung’s face. He’s standing right at the front of the bleachers now, eyes locked onto Jungkook’s with a small smile still gracing his lips. Jungkook wants nothing more than to go over to him, maybe ask to win something else other than a trophy. A hug, possibly? Another kiss on the cheek?

 

But it’s impossible for Jungkook to go and see Taehyung right now, what with everything going on around him. The cheering and yelling last for about another twenty minutes and Jungkook, as well as the rest of the team, are pulled by so many people for congratulations. He turns for a split second and notices that Taehyung is still there, now seated at the bleachers while he chats to Hoseok and that’s enough to have Jungkook sighing in relief.

 

They go through all the handshaking and making sure there’s no bad blood between the players. They stick around in the gym, per Coach Min’s request in order to ‘uphold sportsmanship etiquette’ even though most of them would rather leave and celebrate somewhere else. Jungkook’s eyes keep unintentionally flickering back to the bleachers, searching and ultimately finding that head of blond hair. Soon enough the announcer’s voice rings through the hall with clear instructions on which way the audience should exit, encouraging a one way system. He even (not so) subtly makes sure to imply the cleaners will be here soon and that people should start leaving right about now.

 

Jungkook sighs. “Yes!” he whispers to nobody in particular, much like he’s celebrating by himself. “Now I can finally-”

 

“Jeon! Out this way, please!”

 

Jungkook just about manages to hold back a groan at Coach Min’s voice. He’d thought he’d gotten away, especially since his teammates had ensured they would cover for him, but Coach Min apparently has other plans.

 

Most people have cleared out now, though there still seems to be a few more people left in the stands. Taehyung is sitting alone now, stack of cookies unopened and sitting primly in his lap. He has that usual scowl at his lips - the one that always seems to make Jungkook’s heart flip in his chest - but there’s a slight hint of something else in there. Taehyung looks bored out of his mind. 

 

And it’s then that Jungkook understands, Taehyung must be waiting for him.

 

“Coach,” Jungkook rushes out, facing the man with a pleading look, “please. I really need to-”

 

“Uh uh uh, Jeon Jungkook,” he scolds, “you know how we do this. You know how we’ve been doing this for years.”

 

“I know, coach, but-”

 

“No buts.”

 

“But-”

 

“I said no buts!” Coach Min crosses his arms over his chest, looking like he couldn’t care less if Jungkook’s dog had just died. He raises a challenging brow at Jungkook, before cocking his head towards the exit doors. “You’re going to go out there with your teammates and see off the other school to their bus. They have a long journey to get back and I bet they would appreciate it if the guy who scored the winning basket against them was there to say goodbye.”

 

Coach Min stalks off without another word, following after Jonah who had been the last of the team to leave the hall. Jungkook physically has to force himself not to look back again because he just knows he wouldn’t be able to leave if he saw Taehyung’s face one more time. Seeing Taehyung’s face would only cause him to run over to him, sit beside him, talk to him, and in turn get in trouble with Coach Min. So, Jungkook leaves the hall too without even so much as a glance back at the boy he knows is still seated at the stands.

 

Jungkook stands right at the back, tapping his feet on the asphalt ground impatiently. Seriously, who takes this long to get into a damn bus?

 

His friends keep looking back at him sympathetically but they all know nothing is going to help the fact that Jungkook is stuck here, has been stuck here for the past ten minutes. Coach Min and Coach Miller from the other school, continue to chat at the door of the bus even after all the players have gotten in and probably fallen asleep from exhaustion. The whole East High team just stands there, each and every one of them annoyed at this point, watching the two laugh and seemingly take part in small talk.

 

“Kook,” Namjoon whispers, “why don’t you just sneak away? He probably won’t even notice.”

 

“Are you crazy?” Jungkook exclaims, taking the elbow that Namjoon shoves into his ribs like a champ. “He’s had his eye on me since I scored the basket. He’ll notice.”

 

Jungkook stands there with his hands clenched together, foot still tapping away. He tries to ignore the looks his friends send him because apparently all of them know of his predicament, but in the end it’s useless no matter how subtle they try to be.

 

Finally, Coach Miller steps into the bus with one last smile at the team and then the bus is trailing off down the tarmac, one of the back headlights flickering slightly like it’s barely holding onto it’s sanity. Just like Jungkook. Wait a minute, that can’t be safe right? Or legal?

 

The tapping of Jungkook’s right foot becomes impossibly faster and louder as soon as Coach Min turns to them with his own bright smile.

 

“Now, I don’t want to keep you guys for too long,” he starts, to which a few of his friends groan because how ironic. Jungkook is with them though and he’s dreading the inevitable of one of Coach Min’s tangents. “I know you all want to go off and celebrate in a way you teenage boys like to. But I just wanted to say, tonight's game was incredible. I didn't doubt you guys for a second, even when our team was in a shamble just a mere day ago.

 

“Everything we went through was bound to happen though. It’s what’s made us stronger as a team, no?” There’s a few cheers around them but apparently not enough for their coach, who speaks louder then. “It made us stronger, no?” This time the cheers are louder, and despite himself, Jungkook even makes sure to voice his excitement. “Every single one of you were the MVPs tonight and I can’t even put into words how lucky I feel to have you as my team! Jungkook, that final basket was incredible, one of the best I’ve ever seen.” Jungkook feels his cheeks heat up slightly at the compliment and it only gets much worse when his friends pile in around him, hooting and scuffing up his hair.

 

After a few seconds, it’s silent again as all eyes focus back on their coach. He looks at each and every one of them, eyes shining slightly before they stop on his son. The genuinely pleased look on his face as he eyes Yoongi is enough to have the team moving to stand beside their captain instead, cooing at him quietly.

 

“But tonight,” Coach Min continues, smiling brightly, “we have more than this basketball win to celebrate.”

 

The team erupts into another round of cheers and Jungkook allows himself to smile then, basking in the excitement this entire evening has brought. He joins in with his friends in squishing Yoongi and it gets to the point where the small boy actually disappears inside their little huddle, causing them all to laugh heartily. None of them seem to care that they’re all wearing dirty jerseys, soaked through with sweat.

 

“I’m so proud of all of you.” It’s Coach Min’s finishing sentence before he’s strolling away with his clipboard clutched tightly in his hand, and that’s enough to tell them he’s been moved to tears. They continue to laugh and cheer though, knowing Coach Min has always been way too dramatic for his own good.

 

Despite Jungkook’s mind constantly drifting back to the thought of Taehyung sitting there waiting for him with a bored look on his face, despite the little thought about him getting so bored that he’s left, eating away at him, he stays for a moment. He laughs with his friends and allows himself to feel happy about what has happened tonight. But it seems that his friends know him too well.

 

“Jungkook, you better go now,” Lucas warns with a smug look on his face.

 

“No, I just- I’m having fun with you guys-”

 

“Man, we can all practically hear the cogs in your brain while you’re overthinking,” Seokjin butts in, wrapping his arm tightly around Jungkook’s shoulder.

 

“Go, Kook,” Yoongi agrees with a chuckle. Jungkook can’t believe this. He never thought Yoongi would go against him like this.

 

“But I-”

 

Namjoon cuts him off with a light shove towards the gym. “You don’t want to keep the ice prince waiting any longer.”

 

And that’s how Jungkook finds himself walking back into the gym, hurriedly making his way through the dozens and dozens of red and white balloons still on the floor, until he reaches the very centre.

 

But of course, he’s too late.

 

Jungkook feels the way the frown makes its way onto his lips and he doesn’t even try to hold it back. When he glances around, he finds not a single soul left in the gym but only the damn balloons staring up at him and mocking him. He should have known. Taehyung doesn’t care that much that he’d wait for him, even after he’d confessed. He’d been stupid for making Taehyung wait and in the end, all of this is his own fault. He can’t have expected Taehyung to sit here with cookies he probably doesn’t even want, when he could have been relaxing at home. And Jungkook feels like he’s lost. No matter how happy he’d been about winning the basketball game with his best friends, it still feels like he’s lost. He’s lost the only person he’s ever felt any sort of feelings towards and it’s all his own fault. Jungkook bends down to pick up one of the red balloons, the squeaking sound of the rubber echoing around the empty hall. Taehyung is gone. And he’s never going to give Jungkook a chance again. Fuck, he’s probably not even going to want to go anywhere near Jungkook ever again. And it hurts. Hurts so ba-

 

“These cookies are genius!” The out of breath, slightly exasperated voice has Jungkook faltering, balloon dropping out of his hand. “The best things I’ve ever tasted!” Taehyung is standing there, on the other side of the balloons river with his cheeks puffing out as he chews on… cookies?

 

Jungkook actually gasps at the sight and he feels an actual sweat start to form at it all. In the end, he forces himself to breathe out, “Taehyung?”

 

But Taehyung ignores any surprise or question in his voice. “Will you make some more for me, Jungkook?”

 

Jungkook is at a loss for words. Taehyung is really standing there, eyes shining brightly, with his mouth stuffed with cookies that Jungkook made for him? He’s there? In person? This isn’t a dream?

 

No, Jungkook thinks, no, this must be a dream. It can’t be real. Right?

 

But then suddenly Taehyung is moving closer, as he practically runs through the balloons, Gucci slippers clicking and clacking against the hardwood floor. He’s moving at the speed of light with a somewhat crazed look on his face as he clutches seemingly the last cookie in his hand. He’s moving so fast that Jungkook is a bit worried for a moment, so much so that he takes a hesitant step back, then another, then another much quicker.

 

He isn’t scared per se, but there’s no knowing what Taehyung is about to do to him. It’s difficult to tell with how little he’s said yet how fast he’s running towards Jungkook. You know, he could be on his way to throw the last cookie in Jungkook’s face, or he may even crumble it over his hair. What if he pushes him out of annoyance for making him wait? What if-

 

The arm wrapped around his body and the face forced into the crook of his neck is enough to get Jungkook’s brain to silence. He’s left speechless and motionless, apart from the arm he raises hesitantly to return Taehyung’s hug.

 

That only makes him freeze even further because Taehyung’s hugs him impossibly tighter, hands clutching onto his red jersey falling off his shoulder. Jungkook takes a mere second to hope he doesn’t smell like sweat but it seems like Taehyung doesn’t care anyway, what with how close to his neck his nose is.

 

It’s all completely maddening. The feeling of Taehyung’s nose against his neck, that is. It’s unlike anything Jungkook has ever felt and he honestly thinks he can stay in this position forever if it means keeping Taehyung close to him, the scent of strawberries and almond from his hair tickling his nose. It gets so bad (good) that Jungkook lets his eyes slide shut, lets his arms become less stiff around Taehyung, lets his own nose rest in the blond locks of hair.

 

“I-” he starts, but then immediately stops again when Taehyung’s attention is all on him.

 

One second Jungkook’s nose is in Taehyung’s hair, the next his nose is pressed up against Taehyung’s own. It’s not on purpose, of course it isn’t, because Taehyung was the one to tilt his head up and away from Jungkook’s neck at the sound of his voice. Either way, it’s happening. They’re once again in this compromising position, faces so close that Jungkook is certain he can feel the warm puffs of air Taehyung lets out, right against his lips.

 

Jungkook stares right into Taehyung’s eyes and Taehyung stares right back. Despite how nervous Jungkook feels, despite how his mind is running haywire, he doesn’t dare look away. He doesn’t want to look away.

 

Up this close, Jungkook can easily count each individual lash gracing Taehyung’s lids. He can see the flecks of gold swimming in his deep, dark eyes, and to be honest Jungkook wants nothing more than to swim in them too.

 

It takes a while for them to leave the haze they’ve been caught up in but just like always, Taehyung’s the one breaking the silence.

 

“You…” he says, dragging the word out as if to prompt him on.

 

Jungkook clears his throat but doesn’t look away. “I can- if you’d like, I can make you Crème brûlée?”

 

What happens next is beyond what Jungkook would have ever expected. Taehyung starts laughing. He laughs so hard that he has to pull away from their hug, only to clutch his own stomach. He laughs and he laughs, creating a sweet melody to Jungkook’s ears. He laughs so hard that his eyes disappear and his mouth stretches out into the shape of a box.

 

Taehyung laughs and he laughs and Jungkook does what he does best.

 

He stares. 



●●●



“Taehyung?” Jungkook mumbles, trying his hardest not to choke at the fact that he’s sitting here at the front row of the bleachers with Kim Taehyung by his side. 

 

Taehyung seems completely unbothered though, with the way he plays with the sole white balloon that followed them. “Mhm?”

 

After Taehyung’s laughing fit, he’d grabbed Jungkook by the arm and pulled him down onto the seat. The touch had Jungkook’s arm tingling and his neck warming up but one quick glance at Taehyung had made him feel slightly better at the sight of his pink cheeks. They’d been sitting on the bench, thighs pressed together despite there being plenty of space, in a long yet comfortable silence. For once, Jungkook was the first to break the silence.

 

“You know,” he starts, “before, you’ve said I know nothing about you.”

 

Taehyung doesn’t say anything, though he does turn his head to face Jungkook, eyes encouraging and soft.

 

“That time in the bathroom when we- when we almost- anyway.” Jungkook can’t even help himself at this point. The stuttering seems like second nature around Taehyung. “That time in the bathroom. Everything I said to you, I really meant it all. Because I may not know much about you, but I know a lot more that you think I do.”

 

Jungkook almost sighs out in relief at the soft look on Taehyung’s face, not a hint of anger in sight. Before, Taehyung probably would have exploded but this time, he only whispers, “how do you know?”

 

“This is going to sound weird. And creepy. But ever since I joined this school, I’ve had eyes only for you. I thought you were stunning to look at and you had this energy around you that intrigued me. And the way you spoke to others was so fierce that it always had this funny fire starting in my stomach.” Jungkook pauses for a moment to take in the way Taehyung bashfully looks away, resuming with playing with the balloon. “Then one day, I walked in on you playing the piano. There was no audience, no excessive stage lights, but you looked so happy. And from that moment I realised, there was so much more to you. That was the moment you stole my heart and kept it.”

 

“Cheesy,” Taehyung chuckles, finally looking up again to smile at Jungkook. It’s the most heartwarming thing he’s ever seen and it’s one of the things that boosts his confidence to carry on.

 

“I don’t know much about you but I know enough.” Enough to be enough for you.

 

“Wanna tell me what else you know, ball boy?”

 

Jungkook ponders for a moment. This is Taehyung sitting here with him, willingly talking to him after having eaten and praised the cookies he’d made for him. It’s in that moment that it all catches up to Jungkook in a rush. There goes his rapidly beating heart and his hands beginning to get clammy at an alarming rate. But it’s also in that moment that Jungkook realises this is real. Taehyung is here with him because he wants to be here.

 

So he puts on his best smirk, one that he usually reserves for when he and Joonho are having basketball competitions in the garden. He puts on the smirk and looks Taehyung in the eye. “Well, I know you have a soft spot for insects.”

 

Jungkook gets shoved in return and he just barely manages to hold himself up after Taehyung’s sudden show of strength. Through it all, he allows himself to laugh and then stare some more at the way Taehyung’s cheeks stay that pretty pink shade that almost matches the colour of his lips.

 

You helped Ryan out too!”

 

“I only did it for you!”

 

The admission from Jungkook has the both of them shutting up and looking away at exactly the same time. Jungkook feels like he probably looks like the biggest loser right now, what with the way his cheeks both ache from the force of his smile, and burn from the colour that has surely risen there. He doesn’t remember ever feeling like this before, this bashful, but it’s not something he hates. In fact, he loves it.

 

“You’re the first person to ever get me.” When Taehyung speaks, it’s with a voice so quiet and far from his usual that Jungkook is taken aback. It’s almost like it makes him feel shy to speak about this. Kim Taehyung, shy? Shy! “When I first realised it, it scared me. It scared me so much,” he admits, keeping his eyes downcast even when Jungkook builds up the courage to look at him again. “Because how the hell was this jock figuring me out when I hadn’t spoken a word to him before? How was he figuring me out before my own best friend did it?”

 

That startles Jungkook. He thought that if anybody would know what he knew, it would be Hoseok. “Hoseok doesn’t know you?”

 

“Hobi knows me. Of course he does. But there’s parts of me that he had no idea existed, parts of me that I kept hidden from him and everybody else.” Taehyung squishes the balloon so hard Jungkook is worried it might pop. “But you knew. You knew before I could even speak a word to you. But what scared me the most,” Taehyung admits, finally turning to look at Jungkook, “is that I knew you knew about me just by looking into your eyes.”

 

Jungkook doesn’t reply though he does feel his breath catch in his throat.

 

“I don’t know how I didn’t notice earlier, honestly. But it’s obvious in the way you look at me that there’s something there. Jungkook, you look at me like nobody’s ever looked at me before. I’ve stood on stage, had more than a hundred eyes in me at once, but not a single one looked at me the way you do.”

 

“I’m sorry, I-”

 

“Don’t apologise, I like it. I like you.”

 

Jungkook gulps, eyes widening at the surety in Taehyung’s features. He takes in every detail he can, just to try and understand what exactly Taehyung might mean by that. Does he like him as a friend? Or does he like like him? Does he return Jungkook’s feelings?

 

“Stop overthinking and doing that staring thing you always do,” Taehyung says with a chuckle, catching Jungkook off guard slightly. “I mean exactly what you want me to mean,” he adds ominously.

 

Jungkook looks back and forth between each of Taehyung’s eyes, the uneven eyelids and the golden specks, before letting out a cough. “You like me?”

 

“I like you.”

 

Jungkook quite literally doesn’t have a single clue about how to reply to that. It leaves him completely and utterly speechless, heart hammering in his chest and fingers twitching where they lay on his lap. Taehyung seems to notice because he laughs then does the unthinkable. He reaches over and places his own hand gently over Jungkook’s, momentarily stopping the twitching but sending a shiver up the entirety of his arm. Lucky for Jungkook though, Taehyung doesn’t comment on it and instead clasps onto his sweaty hand firmly.

 

“You were right by the way,” Taehyung speaks again, after a few seconds of silence. “After watching Jimin and Yoongi perform tonight, I’m happy they got the roles. They’ve obviously worked hard and I’m so excited to see what they do with the musical because I have no doubt that it’ll be amazing.”

 

Jungkook stares at Taehyung for a little longer, taking in the way he smiles softly, thumb unconsciously rubbing over Jungkook’s. He has that look in his eyes that indicates he really means what he says and that he can already imagine the show playing out in front of him. It’s that look that he gets when he himself is performing or playing the piano in an empty room. It’s a look that tells Jungkook how much he genuinely cares about the musical and how people feel when they watch it.

 

It’s for that look that Jungkook speaks before thinking. “I really admire you.”

 

Before Jungkook has time to take it back, Taehyung is laughing again. “You told me that already,” he points out, “but I should be saying that to you. Mr I’ll shoot the last hoop and bring my team to victory. Golden boy.”

 

Jungkook thinks back on the confidence that had surged through his body once that ball had left his hands. The excitement he’d felt at making the hoop and having the audience going wild. The awe that had struck him at the somewhat proud look on Taehyung’s face, as he stood tucked away in the crowd.

 

“I’m glad you saw that,” he says without thinking, allowing his cocky side to come through.

 

Taehyung seems to like it. “Oh, I saw it alright. Can I just say, you look really good, on the court, all sweaty.”

 

Any ounce of cockiness is gone as Jungkook subsequently chokes on air. “I- that’s a bit-”

 

“Boys, if you’re done here, we need to get to tidying up,” comes a voice, interrupting any babbling he’d almost broken into. The janitor stares them down from where she stands near the entrance, with her gloved hand on her hip, looking all scolding and disappointed.

 

Taehyung makes a sound of affirmation, sending the janitor a polite smile before pulling Jungkook up by the hand. At first Jungkook doesn’t know what to do with himself, just follows after Taehyung as the other boy intertwines their fingers together. He feels slightly out of place and all kinds of shy and flustered. Because Taehyung is holding his hand! He feels all warm and tingly and hopes that Taehyung can’t feel how clammy and sweaty his hand is getting. The hand that he’s holding

 

As Taehyung pulls them through the hallways, he lets himself relax a bit, tries to enjoy the feeling of Taehyung’s soft hand connected with his own. It feels like a perfect fit and suddenly, Jungkook can’t imagine ever letting go. Doesn’t want to let go.

 

The moment, however, is short-lived once Jungkook hears the telltale sound of his teammates. They sound so close, probably standing right outside the building, and they continue to talk loudly amongst themselves. Jungkook slows himself and Taehyung down, willing to do anything just to spend more time with him.

 

Taehyung seems to notice too and it pains Jungkook when he begins to pull his hand away, fingers slipping out from between Jungkook’s in shocking speed. But no way in hell is Jungkook letting that happen. He uses his speedy reflexes to grab on again, holding Taehyung’s hand tighter with a silent plea of ‘please don’t let go’. Taehyung looks oddly relieved as he holds on just as tight.

 

“I really, really liked those cookies,” he admits over the approaching shouts and hollers.

 

Jungkook smiles at him, swinging their arms between them. “Yeah?”

 

“Yeah. They were genius, I tell you.”

 

They come to a standstill just outside the building and lo and behold, there Jungkook’s friends are, standing on the grassy area not too far away. They have the decency to quieten down at the sight of him and Taehyung. 

 

“Well- um,” Jungkook says, using the stuttering to try to come up with a way to do this properly. “I have- my um-”

 

“Do it already, Jeon!” Fucking Seokjin.

 

Taehyung sends the team quite a smug look before smiling back up at Jungkook. “Yeah,” he urges, “do it already, Jeon.”

 

And that’s the final straw. “Well, my parents won’t be home this Saturday so maybe you could come over and I could teach you how to bake the cookies?”

 

Taehyung’s back rubbing circles onto Jungkook’s skin using his thumb. “What? Like a date?” And at this point Jungkook knows he’s teasing but it still makes him feel weak in the knees.

 

“I suppose so? Yeah. A date.” It feels great until he realises that was probably too straight forward so he quickly adds on, “only if you want to though!” 

 

Taehyung’s smirk gets even more satisfied. “It’s a date then,” he affirms, letting go of Jungkook’s hand only to grab him by the chin.

 

Jungkook doesn’t have time to blink before he feels a sweet kiss being placed on his cheek, a kiss that smells intoxicatingly like almonds and strawberries. Taehyung pulls away with one last smile before he’s bouncing away down the path, leaving Jungkook to stare on helplessly with a hand resting right where Taehyung had just kissed him. He watches Taehyung leave, watches as he disappears into the darkness, hand never once moving from the warm area on his cheek.

 

It isn’t long before his friends’ hooting is starting up again and Jungkook is somehow put into five different headlocks at once.

 

But even then, even if his ‘friends’ are slowly but surely blocking off his airways, he can’t help but think of anything else but the word ‘date’. Jungkook has a date.

 

A date with Kim Taehyung.



●●●



The very next day, school is closed giving them an extra day of the weekend. Although he meets up with his friends in the afternoon to continue excitedly talking about the game the night before, Jungkook uses the rest of that Friday to plan out what he’s going to do when Taehyung comes over.

 

“Honey, what’s got you thinking so hard?” asks his mother, as they eat dinner that evening. His father nods, as if to second on that question.

 

“Oh, it’s nothing,” he bluffs, just as he stuffs his mouth with rice.

 

“Is this about the game yesterday?” There’s a proud lilt to his father’s tone, one that Jungkook only gets to hear once every blue moon. “Because from what Coach Min has told me, you were great. Of course, I knew my son would score the winning basket.” His mother hums at his father’s words, smiling brightly as she places an extra piece of meat on Jungkook’s plate.

 

“It’s nothing like that, appa,” Jungkook assures. He takes a sip of his water and it’s only then that his eyes come into contact with those of Joonho’s. As always, they’re filled with mischief. He tries his best to stop his brother but as always, it’s no use. “Don’t you da-”

 

“He got a date!” Joonho teases, dragging the word out like he’s singing a song or something. 

 

That catches both of his parents’ attention and his father even sets down his chopsticks.

 

“Really, honey?” his mother exclaims, voice all high pitched and excited. “That’s amazing! Who is it?”

 

“No, I-”

 

“Prince Taehyung!” Joonho effortlessly cuts in. “The boy he’s been in love with since the beginning of time.” Joonho says it while managing to sound all innocent but to Jungkook he’s just a childish brat.

 

“Is that so?” his father asks as his mother claps and coos excitedly. “Is he handsome?”

 

“Hyung says he acts and plays music! And that he smells like almonds and strawberries. And that he has a singing voice like sweet honey. And that he’s the most handsome, beautiful, gorgeous-”

 

“That’s enough,” Jungkook groans, suddenly feeling way too embarrassed than he should, considering he did say all of that. “Sorry, I forgot to ask. But is it okay if he comes over tomorrow?”

 

“Of course he can, honey!” his mother says. “I’m upset now, since I have work and won’t get to meet him.”

 

“Now, Joonho,” his father speaks then, “you’ll make sure your brother won’t get up to anything he’s not supposed to, right?”

 

Jungkook chokes. “Appa!”

 

It’s rare to hear his father joking or teasing so despite how embarrassed he is, Jungkook basks in the moment. His father is in such a good mood and he can’t help but feel proud of himself for being one of the reasons for that. It’s for that reason and for the fun he has with his family that evening that he doesn't let himself overthink anymore.

 

He sets out his outfit for the next day, sleeps early, showers extra well the next morning to ensure he smells as clean as possible, tidies his room, hides away his manga collection, does up his hair in a way he rarely does, handsome (like his mother says) and away from his face, tidies the kitchen, sets out the ingredients, ready to use, tidies the backyard, polishes his lucky spoon, goes back to his room to reevaluate his outfit choice, decides against changing, pops in his thick hoop earrings that he only wears on special occasions, tidies his bed again when he notices a crease in the cover, decides the cover is too childish and changes it to something plain and black, brings the manga collection back out because his room just looks empty without it, goes back downstairs to clean the living room area, wipes away the greasy fingerprints from the T.V, left there by the neighbours’ baby, goes back to his room to check his outfit just one more time, gets ready for the-

 

Okay, maybe he’s still overthinking just a little bit.

 

In the end, Joonho is the one who shoves Jungkook down onto the sofa, commanding him to stay there until Taehyung arrives. He even goes as far as sitting there with Jungkook too, watching him like a hawk and monitoring him to make sure he doesn’t leave his seat.

 

“Isn’t this a bit extra?” Jungkook asks, sitting with his hands folded on his lap and his back straight.

 

“Hyung, nothing is more extra than you.”

 

“But-”

 

Jungkook is interrupted by the sound of the doorbell and he all but springs up from his seat. Within seconds, he’s made it to the front door and decides to give himself just a few more seconds to compose himself. Then he’s pulling the door open in a haste, only to find a slightly pink-faced Taehyung who doesn’t make a single bit of eye contact with him.

 

He looks as amazing as ever but Jungkook can tell he’s put in more effort with his looks today, just the same as he himself has. He’s wearing his trademark plaid trousers, today a clean white, with a matching shirt. He’s taken his look that bit further with an oversized baby blue blazer draped over top and Jungkook is so awestruck that he can only stand there and stare.

 

“I’m- I’m sorry if I’m early.” Taehyung stutters, finally looking up to meet Jungkook’s eyes. “I just thought I’d be late so I left my house extra early and then I walked a bit too quickly because I was so excited and I- sorry. I’m early, aren’t I?”

 

Jungkook is - for lack of better word - gobsmacked. “No, no, you’re fine. You’re not-”

 

Jungkook is all but shoved out of the way by a small bony elbow and in a matter of seconds, Joonho is standing in front of him with his hand held out.

 

“Hello, prince Taehyung, nice to meet you. I’m Joonho.” Taehyung looks to falter for a moment but he does take the last step up so he’s right next to the front door, shaking Joonho’s much smaller hand earnestly. “Please, do come in.”

 

Jungkook blinks once, then steps aside to allow his brother to lead Taehyung in. Once Joonho has seated the both of them down in the living room, he stands in front of them, almost like he’s about to start presenting.

 

“I’m really happy to finally meet you,” he starts, smiling innocently at Taehyung. It’s over-dramatic and probably a bit funny but Joonho doesn’t seem to notice. “But, my dad says that the two of you can’t get up to any funny business, whatever that means.”

 

Jungkook chokes on his own spit at those words and even feels the way Taehyung stiffens up beside him.

 

“So, if hyung tries anything, you come and let me know, okay?” Joonho says it with his chest puffed out, hands placed at his hips. He looks anything but intimidating but Jungkook has to give it to him for trying. “Anyway, I’ll be upstairs in my room.”

 

“I- um, thank you? Nice to meet you too!” Taehyung rushes out, not moving an inch even as Joonho leaves.

 

“I’m sorry about him.”

 

Taehyung turns to him and smiles, all bright and boxy. “Your older brother seems nice.”

 

Jungkook groans. “He’s twelve.”

 

“Really now?” Taehyung asks sarcastically, lightly pushing Jungkook with a hand on his shoulder. The touch probably shouldn’t leave as many tingles as it does. “Anyway, he called me prince Taehyung? Got some explaining to do?”

 

Even if in the moment, Taehyung seemed to be startled by the words, now he looks at Jungkook with a slight smirk and a curiously raised brow. “Oh, that? It’s nothing,” Jungkook bluffs. Taehyung’s raised eyebrow somehow goes even higher and that’s enough for Jungkook to spill. “I guess I talk about you sometimes? Well not you but a made up character who’s a prince.”

 

“So, you’re telling me,” Taehyung starts, inquisitively rubbing his chin, “that you tell your younger brother fairy tales with characters inspired by me?”

 

“No, they aren’t- the characters are made up and- the prince isn’t actually- I mean, the knight isn’t-”

 

“Wait, wait, there’s a knight too? Is that you?”

 

The heat rising to Jungkook’s cheeks is almost unbearable at this point. “Come on!” he says, probably a bit too loudly as he stands up from his seat abruptly. “Let’s go and make those cookies!” And lucky for him, Taehyung doesn’t mention it again and instead, follows Jungkook into the kitchen, albeit with a teasing chuckle.

 

It starts off as the most cliché thing Jungkook has ever experienced. While looking for the plain black apron, he accidentally gets out the embarrassing apron his mother had gotten him for his birthday, the one with the ‘Mr Good Looking Is Cooking’ written on the front in cursive and as soon as Taehyung sees it he loses it. And Jungkook isn’t having any of it. He forces Taehyung into that exact apron - after telling him it would probably be best to remove his blazer - slipping it over his head then tying it in the back for him. It makes him feel all sorts of giddy and excited when Taehyung returns the favour by choosing and putting the floral apron on Jungkook.

 

Jungkook gets Taehyung to measure out the flour, watching as he does as told with his tongue sticking out in concentration. It’s so endearing that he stands there the whole time, staring and smiling like an absolute loser. But the endearment is cut short when Taehyung pours the flour into the big bowl all at once, causing it to poof everywhere and cover everything in a thin layer of white.

 

“My shirt!” Taehyung cries, rushing backwards and frowning down at his outfit. The apron has taken most of the damage but it seems that Taehyung has managed to catch onto the slightest bit of white powder on his white shirt. How is that even possible?

 

Jungkook’s about to apologise, maybe give him a different shirt to change into but then he catches sight of Taehyung’s face and bursts out laughing. He knows this probably isn’t a good idea, not when Taehyung finally seems to be warming up to him, but he just can’t help it. Taehyung’s face is completely coated in a layer of flour, little bits fluttering off his eyelashes every time he blinks. He looks like a ghost and the fact that he glares at Jungkook laughing makes it even more realistic and funnier. He feels a little bit bad because as soon as he’d seen Taehyung tip the measuring bowl, he had moved back, knowing the puff of flour was coming and had just left Taehyung there to suffer. But this is way too funny to not be laughing. Taehyung, who is always so put together, Taehyung, who doesn’t take shit from anyone. He’s standing there looking like a snowman and Jungkook was lying before because he is still so damn endeared. But before he says anything he’s going to have to let all his laughing out because this is hilarious.

 

“Shut up,” Taehyung demands, arms coming up to cross over his chest petulantly.

 

“O- okay,” Jungkook says with one last chuckle. He takes a deep breath. “Okay, I’ll stop. Let me get you a tow-”

 

But he never gets to finish that sentence because in less than a second, all he can see is white and all he can feel is Taehyung’s nose against his. Taehyung stays there for a moment, wiggling their noses together in a sort of eskimo kiss. That on it’s own has Jungkook’s eyes widening, mind clearing so all he can see and think about is Taehyung. Even if his face is still covered in flour, all Jungkook can see are his brown eyes. Up this close Jungkook can clearly see the mischief in them but all too quickly they’re gone. However, instead of pulling away like Jungkook had expected him to, Taehyung proceeds to rub his cheeks against Jungkook’s, doing the same on the other side, then moving on to his forehead. 

 

By the time he pulls away, Taehyung’s face is only patchy in some places with flour while the other spots are back to his usual light, caramel-like colour.

 

“There,” he says, patting his hands together as if to remove any flour from them, “now I can laugh at you too.”

 

Jungkook forces himself to come back, deciding it’s better if he actually says something instead of staring like an idiot. So despite his racing heart and the lingering feeling of Taehyung’s skin against his own, he chuckles. “All that flour was supposed to go in the bowl!”

 

Taehyung shrugs. “And now it’s on your face.”

 

(Jungkook’s traitorous mind can’t help but think ‘you missed a spot’ as his eyes dart to Taehyung’s lips for all but a second.)

 

In the end, Taehyung himself decides it’s best if he removes himself from the cooking aspect and watches from the side. The whole time while Jungkook’s making up the dough, explaining each step carefully to Taehyung, he feels eyes digging into him. Everywhere. From the nape of his neck to the tip of his nose. It feels like Taehyung’s watching his every move. And his feelings are only reinforced when he catches Taehyung’s eyes, always completely focused on his face rather than his hands.

 

It makes Jungkook feel giddy, makes his movements become less expert-like and more clumsy and rushed. But it doesn’t seem like Taehyung cares because he seats himself up on one of the counters, swinging his legs back and forth nonchalantly, like he couldn’t care less about anything apart from keeping his eyes on Jungkook’s face. Jungkook accidentally drops his lucky spoon at the thought.

 

“Now I’m going to show you the special ingredient,” Jungkook announces, taking a step closer to where Taehyung sits. “It’s what makes them taste so good.”

 

“Oooh,” Taehyung muses, sitting closer to the edge of the counter. “A special ingredient?” 

 

Jungkook’s proud to have gotten Taehyung so obviously intrigued. “You see, normally when people make cookies they use vanilla extract for that little pop of flavour. But in my opinion, vanilla is just so overused and really overrated. So, I use this.” He pulls out the small bottle to hold it in front of Taehyung. “It’s probably what made you think my cookies were so genius.”

 

“They were genius!” Taehyung insists. “I’m so excited to eat this so can you hurry up and tell me what the special ingredient is already?”

 

“Almond extract,” Jungkook says, simply. And then without thinking, he adds on, “it smells like you.”

 

It’s said completely by accident, a slip of his tongue that he just couldn’t help. It’s so embarrassing that Jungkook feels heat spread all the way from the tops of his ears down to the tips of his toes. But it doesn’t feel as bad as it usually would because one quick glance at Taehyung tells him that he’s just as embarrassed, cheeks coloured over with a pretty pink shade.

 

“Oh,” he says, playing with his fingers and looking at Jungkook’s feet instead of his face.

 

“I- yeah. I’ll just-” Jungkook cuts off his own impending babbling by turning back to the cookie dough. He doesn’t feel Taehyung’s eyes in him anymore and so he works pretty efficiently, rolling the dough into small balls and getting them into the oven in no time.

 

By the time he’s done with that, Taehyung is hopping off of the counter, looking to be a little more put together than he had been. Jungkook tries to keep himself calm too.

 

“How long will they take?” Taehyung whines, bent down in front of the oven and eyeing the cookies.

 

Jungkook chuckles, but moves go sit down beside him. “They bake really quickly because they’re small. So don’t worry!”

 

It’s the look on Taehyung’s face, the shine in his eyes, the excitement in his smile, that has Jungkook staring. But this time is different. He stares openly this time, intentionally, because at this point he couldn’t care less if he got caught. He stares at the way Taehyung stares at the cookies, taking in the almost childlike innocence behind his excitement and then in turn, feeling the childlike innocent of his own excitement rise through his chest. Because Taehyung makes him feel so happy. So excited. So over the moon with joy.

 

When Taehyung finally notices Jungkook’s staring, he turns to face him with his butt still planted on the white tiles of the kitchen floor. It would probably look weird to anyone passing by, just two boys, sitting on the kitchen floor in front of a hot oven filled with cookies, all while they stare at nothing but one another. And for once, they both just let it happen.

 

None of them look away bashfully, none of them raise a questioning brow. Because all they do is stare.

 

Jungkook feels oddly calm. His breathing is even and he doesn’t think his hands are getting any clammier than they usually are. The only thing that’s a given, is that his heart beats slightly faster in his chest, a result of the excitement of having Taehyung right there . And by right there, Jungkook really means right there because Taehyung is inching closer and closer, his natural almond scent easily overpowering the baking cookies and filling Jungkook’s nose. Taehyung looks to be slightly hesitant, eyes constantly darting from Jungkook’s eyes down to his lips then back to his eyes again. It makes Jungkook’s heart beat even faster than is probably healthy, but it also makes him unconsciously do the same to Taehyung, eyeing his shiny pink lips in anticipation. It doesn’t take a genius to know that they’re about to kiss right now. It’s honestly not something Jungkook had been expecting, especially not on their first date, but it’s also not something he’s against. His dad’s words about not doing anything he’s not supposed to have all but been thrown out of his mind. It’s only a kiss, right? Afterall, this is something he’s been wanting to do since the moment he saw Taehyung in that school hallway.

 

Taehyung pauses after a few seconds, leaving them thigh to thigh on the slightly cold floor, noses brushing softly. His eyelashes flutter as he blinks, something Jungkook feels privileged to be able to see so close up. It’s such a beautiful sight but the fact that he’s paused tells Jungkook he’s still hesitant. Probably doesn’t want to do anything Jungkook doesn’t.

 

So just to make his wishes and intentions clear, Jungkook lifts up his hand and lets it rest against Taehyung’s cheek, rubbing his thumb softly against his sharp cheekbone. That seems to have been a good idea because Taehyung is smiling then, any show of hesitance having been replaced by understanding and excitement. Just as the both of them inch that tiny bit closer, the giddiness makes itself known to Jungkook in the form of butterflies doing somersaults and cartwheels in his stomach, so much so that Jungkook is certain they could become world renowned gymnasts.

 

Taehyung lashes flutter once more before they stay where they are, just barely creating wispy shadows beneath his eyes. It’s only then that Jungkook lets his own eyes slip shut too, deciding that it’s best if they just let their subconscious do the work. And they almost do it too. Jungkook’s heart promptly stops beating, the moment he feels the slightest softness of Taehyung’s top lip connect with his own. They barely touch, barely even brush but it’s enough to have him losing his mind. He already knows this is going to be the perfect kiss, can already feel the way they seem to be thinking and moving as one. 

 

But the moment is cut off just like that, at the sound of a blaring alarm. 

 

Before their bottom lips can even touch, they’re springing apart, looking around like dazed meerkats in an effort to find the thing that has ruined such a beautiful moment. 

 

And as quickly as the moment had come, it’s gone again, leaving the both of them blushing, stuttering messes.

 

“Oh shit,” Jungkook curses, shooting up from the floor. “Sorry, I set an alarm on my phone for the cookies.” He stumbles around the kitchen, trying to find and retrieve the blasted piece of metal, all while trying to force away his rising blush and keep it cool.

 

Taehyung stays seated on the floor for a few more seconds, eyes widened almost as big as the cookies. But then he’s standing up too, fingers fidgeting in front of him. “Oh?” he asks, voice coming out slightly loud and bashful. “The cookies are ready?”

 

Jungkook coughs. “I’ll just check if they’re-” Apparently Jungkook’s years of practice in the kitchen have gone completely to waste because he stupidly opens the oven door while standing right in front of it, subsequently getting a huge puff of smoke in his face. “Shit!”

 

“Oh my god, are you okay?” Taehyung worries, a line etched in between his eyebrows as he rushes to Jungkook’s side.

 

And Jungkook is so embarrassed. “Oh, that? It was nothing,” he reassures, trying to put on his best cool. All he has to do is act like nothing happened, right? Even if he almost just melted his face off. Stay cool, Jungkook, just stay cool.

 

But there’s no way Jungkook can stay cool. Not when Taehyung’s fingers worriedly brush his face, trying to get rid of any of the condensation from the smoke. “Your face is gone all red.”

 

“I’m okay. Maybe just a little-”

 

“Do you need ice? Or cold water? Or-”

 

“No. I’m- that was just-”

 

“How about a towel? Cold compress?”

 

“No, I-” Stay cool. “How about you wait outside in the garden? I’ll bring the cookies on a plate?”

 

Taehyung looks hesitant, but ultimately takes a step back. His cheeks are flushed red and Jungkook can only assume it’s because of how warm the kitchen has gotten, what with the oven still on. “Okay,” he says, giving Jungkook one more sceptical look, before heading through the sliding glass doors and into the backyard.

 

Jungkook takes that time to finally breathe. He inhales and exhales a couple of times, trying his best to calm his sudden nerves and embarrassment. Then he gets straight back to work, loading the (beautifully baked) cookies onto a plate, ensuring they’re presented nicely. When he looks out of the window he notices Taehyung has taken a seat in the grass, playing with one of Jungkook’s basketballs as he looks out onto the small practice court. The sun is slowly beginning to set, creating a magical orange and pink light around him, making him look like an actual prince. It’s barely five pm but the short winter day has made itself known with the way it’s going to be turning dark soon, and the evening wind picking up, causing tree branches to shake slightly. But Taehyung doesn’t seem bothered by it and instead seems to be basking in it as he looks away from the ball to stare up at the sky. He looks beautiful. 

 

He always looks beautiful.

 

Before Jungkook steps up to the door, he picks up Taehyung’s blazer as a second thought. He doesn’t want him to freeze out there, turn into a real life snow-

 

“Hyung.”

 

Jungkook quite literally jumps in surprise, almost dropping all of the cookies. “Jesus, Joonho! Why would you sneak up on me like that?”

 

Joonho merely stands at the kitchen door with his arms crossed over his chest. Come to think of it, he looks a lot like their mother when she finds them paying Mario Kart at one am on a school night.

 

“What?” Jungkook asks, cautiously, keeping one eye on his brother and the other on Taehyung who’s probably getting bored out there by himself.

 

“Look, hyung,” he starts, “this is too painful to watch. I promise not to tell appa if you kiss him. Please just kiss him already.”

 

“Joonho!”

 

“I’ll be upstairs in my room,” he sing-songs, already moving to leave before Jungkook can even think about telling him off.

 

Great, now Jungkook’s even more nervous than before! Still, he gathers all the courage he has left and steps out through the door, carrying the plate using two hands and Taehyung’s blazer tucked into the crook of his elbow.

 

At the sound of the door sliding open then closed again, thanks to Jungkook’s skillful talent of using his foot, Taehyung looks up, smiling at him gently. But any gentleness is gone in an instant as soon as his eyes land on the plate.

 

Taehyung gasps. “Give me,” he says, making grabby hands like a toddler.

 

Although Jungkook does as told, he still laughs, taking a seat beside Taehyung in the grass. He watches Taehyung take the first bite, watches the way his eyes light up, watches the way he turns to smile ecstatically at Jungkook as he chews away on the chocolate chip cookie.

 

“Good?” he asks, placing the plate down in front of them and picking up a cookie for himself.

 

“Amazing!” Taehyung gushes, quickly picking up another cookie. “I think they might be better than the other ones!”

 

It makes his insides warm, makes him so happy to see Taehyung enjoying food he’s made for him. Or, well, food they’ve made together . “Maybe slow down though,” Jungkook suggests, knowing all too well of the consequences from experience. “You don’t want to get a tummy ache.” Taehyung simply cocks an eyebrow at Jungkook, as if to say ‘I’ll eat these cookies as quickly as I want,’ then continues chowing down the cookies, making noises of contentment every now and then.

 

Jungkook leans back slightly then suddenly remembers the blazer, still tucked into his arm. “Oh, here you go,” he says, placing the jacket gently around Taehyung’s shoulders, the same way he’d been wearing it when he arrived. “It’s getting colder.”

 

Taehyung stiffens for a moment and Jungkook is quick to pull away again, taking a bite out of his cookie in a haste. “That’s funny,” Taehyung scoffs, “because I would have expected a jock like you to bring me your varsity jacket rather than my own.”

 

Oh no. Did Jungkook fuck up? “Oh, I’m sorry,” he apologises quickly, already moving to stand up. “I could go and get you mine if you’d like. It’s just inside the-”

 

“I was joking,” Taehyung chuckles. To his surprise, he grabs Jungkook’s forearm to pull him back down which only ends up with them sitting in the grass shoulder to shoulder, thigh to thigh. “You’re too easy. Though I wouldn’t mind wearing your jacket if you gave it to me.”

 

Just the thought of Taehyung wearing his jacket makes Jungkook’s stomach rush with excited butterflies. “I’ll keep that in mind,” he decides to say.

 

They’re left in a comfortable quietness after that. The only sound Jungkook can hear is the dry leaves rustling around on the floor and the occasional chewing from Taehyung. He uses that moment to analyse the cookies. Jungkook cannot for the life of him think of a single fault with them. This is something he usually does, tries to figure out the good bits and also the bad bits about his cooking just so that he can improve next time. But these cookies are near perfect. And he can’t help but think, maybe Taehyung is some sort of lucky token.

 

“You know,” Jungkook starts, “I’ve made cookies a bunch of times before. But they’ve never been this good.”

 

Taehyung hums, leaning back slightly so the setting sunlight hits his face directly, bathing him in an orange sheen. “So what you’re saying is, these cookies taste perfect because I helped you make them?”

 

“It doesn’t sound as cool as I hoped it would,” Jungkook admits, finding it impossible to look away from Taehyung right now. 

 

He looks like the sun’s child, like he was born to be shining in hues of pink, orange and yellow. Jungkook’s breath only catches for the nth time that day once Taehyung’s eyes turn to meet his own. His lashes are long, irises made of gold and Jungkook is awestruck. 

 

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Taehyung reassures though Jungkook can tell he’s probably only saying it to make him feel better. “And I’m not just saying that. I really mean it.” Oh.

 

The eye contact becomes impossibly more intense at that and usually, Jungkook probably would have looked away but right now he just can’t. In fact, he forces himself to keep looking at Taehyung, showing him as much as he can through his eyes. 

 

“Oh, I- I’m glad then. It feels like whenever I try to be cool around you I fail, so…”

 

Taehyung is silent for a moment, though their eyes stay in contact. He gives Jungkook a short knowing smirk before it softens out into a little tilt of his lips. Jungkook doesn’t notice it’s happening until he feels cold yet soft fingers graze against his own. The atmosphere is so intense that Jungkook can quite literally feel sparks flying around them, yet he still takes matters seriously and lets their fingers slide together into a loose hold. They’d held hands before but something about today just feels so different. And Jungkook realises why it feels different the moment Taehyung speaks again.

 

“I’m sorry,” he whispers, eyes never once leaving Jungkook’s. “I’m so sorry for being so mean about what you love to do.”

 

“Taehyung-”

 

“No, I really mean it. I was so ignorant and unfair to you when all you’ve ever been is nice. I tried to make you feel like shit about doing what you love to do and I- I regret that, Jungkook. And I’m not just saying that because you make the best cookies ever.” Jungkook chuckles, nodding for Taehyung to continue. “Thank you so much for letting me bake with you today! I got to see how much your eyes shine while you’re in the kitchen. It’s the same, if not, brighter , than when you're on the court. And I’m so angry at myself for not trying to see it earlier.”

 

Jungkook gently rubs his thumb over Taehyung’s as he brings their joint hands to rest at his thigh. Taehyung’s words and the implication behind them make his heart stutter but he pushes on. “Thank you,” he says softly. At this point he’s probably sending Taehyung heart eyes but he couldn’t care less. “Having you accept me makes me way happier than you’ll ever know.”

 

The face Taehyung makes then has Jungkook quite literally losing his mind. It’s the sweetest expression he’s ever had directed at him and he knows for a fact his friends would never believe him if he said the ice prince looked at him like this. Jungkook only starts to breathe even heavier as Taehyung lays his head on his shoulder, bringing them so close.

 

“We’ll be seniors soon,” Taehyung points out as he begins to play with Jungkook’s fingers. “Do you have any plans for after?”

 

Jungkook hums, doing everything in his will to stop the shiver from shooting up from where Taehyung’s skin touches his own. It doesn’t help that up this close all he can smell is almonds and the faintest hint of strawberries, presumably from Taehyung’s lip balm. “I want to go to culinary school in New York,” he admits. It’s not something he’s ever spoken out loud.

 

“Wait! You want to go to New York?” Taehyung exclaims, voice laced with nothing but excitement. “Me too!”

 

Jungkook feels his eyes widen. “Really?”

 

“Yes! It is ‘the big apple’ and all.” Of course! How hadn’t Jungkook realised? “New York has the top performing arts schools and it’s where I’ve dreamed of going since I was little.”

 

Jungkook is completely gobsmacked by the coincidence. “New York has the top culinary schools too,” he says, smile probably looking a little too crazed at this point.

 

But it’s okay because when Taehyung turns his head on Jungkook’s shoulder slightly, his equally as wide smile comes into view. “This is great!” he laughs, shaking Jungkook’s hand around excitedly. “We could go and have our first drinks together. We could go out clubbing together. We could meet up everyday for lunch. You could cook me dinner every weekend-”

 

“We could be roommates,” Jungkook cuts in. And then he almost regrets it because of the way Taehyung freezes beside him. But then he catches sight of a pink tinge to the tips of Taehyung’s ears, standing out brightly beside his blond hair even under only a single garden light which is actually pointing mainly at the basketball court.

 

“Roommates?” Taehyung asks, threading their fingers back together. “Like living together?”

 

“I- I mean,” Jungkook stutters, “I mean in the future! Probably not as soon as we get there but in the future if we- if we’re still- not that I’m doubting this just that-” Jungkook pauses for a moment to take a deep breath. “New York is somewhere I’ve always wanted to live, somewhere I thought I’d be living with the love of my life.”

 

Taehyung hums. “Yeah, me too. It’s known as the gayest city, isn’t it?”

 

Jungkook chokes on his laugh, though he does remember reading about that before. “I guess I just haven’t spoken to my parents about going there yet. My mum would definitely be okay with it but my dad isn’t really- he’s not very keen on me cooking as a living.”

 

Taehyung snuggles his head closer into the crook of Jungkook’s neck, almost like he’s trying to comfort him. It works. “That’s the worst,” he says. “You should do what you want to do. Don’t let your dad dictate it because in the end, it’s your life and you should end up doing something you genuinely love and enjoy.”

 

Jungkook smiles, turning his own head slightly so that he’s subtly nosing at Taehyung’s hair. “Thanks, Taehyung,” he whispers, not daring to break their little bubble. “I guess it is-”

 

“Jungkook.”

 

The voice is loud and stern, a hint of disappointment gracing it. It pops the bubble in one go and has Taehyung and Jungkook startling away from one another to face the door leading back into the house.

 

It is the voice of Jungkook’s father.



●●●



It’s safe to say this is something Jungkook never would have expected to happen on his first date with Taehyung. As far as he’d been aware, both of his parents were working until late at night that Saturday, so it made absolutely no sense why his father was here, at home, walking slowly to where he and Taehyung are seated, with his work tie loose around his neck and his brows furrowed.

 

“Appa,” Jungkook breathes out, keeping hold of Taehyung’s hand despite how far they’ve pulled away from each other. “I thought you were at work.”

 

Jungkook’s father doesn’t look impressed. “I was,” he says with a nod, “but I left early to finish up the paperwork at home.”

 

Jungkook feels the way Taehyung looks back and forth between the two of them, feels the way his grip on his hand tightens ever so slightly. It makes him relieved, sure, but there’s still that weight of dread in his chest. “Oh,” he says. “Well, this is Taehyung. He-”

 

“What is the mess in the kitchen?” Mr Jeon interrupts, brows becoming so tightly knit that a line forms between them. Of course! How could have Jungkook forgotten about that and the telltale cookies left on the plate in front of him and Taehyung? Shit. “I thought I told you to focus on your studies and basketball. We’ve talked about this, Jungkook. You’re not-”

 

“Hi, Mr Jeon!” Taehyung cuts in, hand slipping out of Jungkook’s as he shoots up from the grass. He sends Jungkook a subtle look, a look that says ‘don’t worry, I got this,’ and it’s enough to have Jungkook’s eyes widening. “I’m Taehyung. It’s so nice to meet you.”

 

Jungkook watches in awe as Taehyung bounces up to his father to shake his hand fervently. His father who’s face seems to have softened considerably despite the confusion laced there. Jungkook hesitantly stands to follow after.

 

“Oh, it’s lovely to meet you too,” his father says, a small smile replacing the way his lips had been pursed into a thin line previously. “You are very handsome, aren’t you?”

 

“Appa,” Jungkook warns. If he’s not going to get told off by his father in front of Taehyung he’s going to get embarrassed instead.

 

“What? No!” Taehyung exclaims bashfully, genuinely looking shy at being told that. Does Taehyung really not get told how handsome he is on a day to day basis? Hm. Jungkook’s going to need to change that. “I can really tell by looking at you just where Jungkook got his good looks from, Mr Jeon!”

 

Jungkook just barely manages to hold back the way he definitely almost choked. “Oh no. That’s all from my wife and her amazing genetics,” his father replies with a chuckle.

 

“I’m sure you both played a role though? But oh wow, your suit! It looks so smart and I think Jungkook mentioned you working for a massive company? That’s so amazing, Mr Jeon!” Taehyung enthuses, waving his hands around in front of himself. It’s so endearing to watch. “My parents own a holiday resort so I hardly ever see people dressed in such smart clothing! I remember dressing in a suit for a part I had once in a musical. And it was so fun!”

 

“Oh yes,” his father nods along. It’s obvious that he is just barely keeping up with Taehyung’s chatter but Jungkook has to give it to him for trying. It makes him feel so light and… happy. “I’ve been told that you act and sing? I’m looking forward to watching you perform one day because according to Jungkook, it’s something everyone should get to see at least once in their life-”

 

“Dad.” Jungkook hopes that by using the English version of the word, it would get his father to stop doing that. Taehyung seems to notice though because it’s then that Jungkook feels a gentle hand being placed subtly at his back. This just can’t get anymore embarrassing, can it?

 

“Right. Right, sorry,” his father laughs, much to his relief. “How’s the day been then? I hope my son’s been as gentlemanly as I raised him to be?”

 

“Oh, it’s been wonderful, Mr Jeon!” Taehyung continues. Jungkook uses the time to turn to look at Taehyung, who meets his eye with an enthusiastic smile. It makes his heart stutter. “Sorry about the mess in the kitchen. Jungkook is just such an amazing cook and I asked him to show me how to make cookies. I couldn’t help but wonder where he got such amazing skills from. You and Mrs Jeon, I presume? Either way, Jungkook’s food is the best I’ve ever tasted.”

 

There goes his stuttering heart again. The hand on his back becomes slightly more noticeable. Slightly more purposeful.

 

“My wife has usually done the cooking, taught him everything she knows. We talk about it a lot and about how she wants him to grow up to become a chef and I’ve always-” He cuts himself off as if he’s only just realised he’s probably sharing too much with someone he’s only just met. Jungkook really wants the ground to swallow him up right now because those conversations between his parents have almost always led to arguments. “But the best cooking you've ever tasted? Is that so?” his father muses, taking off his glasses to wipe them and then slip them back onto his nose. A nervous habit of his.

 

“Yes!” At this point Taehyung must be feeling quite uncomfortable but he pushes on. He pushes on, for Jungkook and something about that makes him feel calmer. Less scared. “I’m so jealous that you all can eat his food whenever you’d like. And Jungkook said he can make a mean Crème Brûlée, my favourite dessert ever!”

 

“Crème Brûlée?” The sudden harshness to his father’s tone and the mention of the dessert makes Jungkook’s heart stop entirely. He watches on as his father seems to remember something, realise something and it worries Jungkook more than it probably should. He looks back and forth between the two of them, eyes stern yet still tinged with that softness that's been there ever since he started speaking with Taehyung. He looks to be thinking. Contemplating. It isn’t until his eyes land on Jungkook’s and stay there that they soften over completely and he speaks again. “Well, you’re welcome here whenever you’d like, Taehyung, and you can eat his food then.”

 

It’s one simple statement. One short look of acceptance. But it’s all it takes for Jungkook’s eyes to begin to sting. For that wave of shock to come. For that wave of shock to be replaced by pure happiness. And relief. And straight up euphoria. Because his father has accepted him and his passion. 

 

Taehyung starts to bounce excitedly by his side again. He sidles up right beside him too, bringing over his warmth and sweet scent. “Thank you, Mr Jeon! You’re too kind.”

 

“It's been great meeting you, Taehyung. But I won’t keep you two any longer,” Mr Jeon declares, putting on the slightest of teasing smiles. “Just make sure Jungkook doesn’t force you to tidy up the kitchen with him.”

 

“I wouldn’t do that!” Jungkook reassures, after clearing his throat loudly. His dad gives him one last small smile before turning away and heading back through the door, sliding it shut behind him.

 

It’s only then that he allows himself to let out a shaky breath.

 

“It’s okay,” he hears Taehyung console. “It’s okay. It’s all going to be better now.”

 

Jungkook snaps his head to look Taehyung in the eye. It seems to surprise him so much that he jumps slightly, a little tuft of blond hair falling over his forehead from where it’d been previously styled into place. “Taehyung,” he says, unconsciously reaching out to hold him by his shoulders. “You didn’t need to do- you- thank you so much! You actually got him to-”

 

“I didn’t do anything, Jungkook. You were the one who believed in yourself. You were the one who kept going and did what you love to do. You were the one who kept going even when it felt like nobody else believed in you. When I was stupid enough to not believe- mmph.”

 

Jungkook can’t hold back anymore. It’s taken everything of his being to hold back for so long but it’s quite frankly not something he can do anymore.

 

Taehyung’s lips feel so plush against his own. It’s everything he ever imagined it would be- no, it’s better. It all happens in a moment of braveness, the way he connects their lips together chastely but it doesn’t even last two seconds because he suddenly realises what he’s just done. 

 

Jungkook pulls away quickly, taking in Taehyung’s wide eyes and pouted out lips. Did he fuck up? Was it too early? Who is he kidding? Of course it was too early! This is their first official date!

 

Jungkook’s lips tingle with his next words. “I- I was just- I’ve been wanting to-”

 

In a way, Jungkook is happy that his blabbering is stopped and his embarrassment is cut short. In all but a few seconds, Jungkook’s got a face full of Taehyung and a nose full of his enticing scent, as he moves to connect their lips once again. This time it’s a lot more kissing than lips touching, more meaningful, more real. Just like before, Jungkook’s lips are tingling but in the best way possible and his heart, which is skyrocketing in his chest, beats in time with Taehyung’s. 

 

Once he’s sure that the movement of Taehyung’s lips against his own is actually happening and not a mere thought or daydream, Jungkook moves his hands up from where they’d been holding onto Taehyung’s shoulders to cup his face instead. He lives for the way Taehyung warms into the touch, tilting his head slightly to deepen the kiss.

 

Jungkook has kissed a few people before but it’s never been like this. It’s never made him feel like this. It’s so warm and so freeing that he doesn’t think he’d ever want to stop now that he’s gotten a taste. Taehyung’s lips fit perfectly against his, they’re soft and plush, and best of all, they move with a sense of knowingness. Like kissing Jungkook is the easiest thing in the world. That’s how it feels to Jungkook, anyway. Kissing Taehyung feels like it’s something he’s been doing his whole life, something he’ll continue to do for the rest of his life, something he was brought into this world to do. Probably a bit of an over-exaggeration but it truly is what his first (technically second) kiss with Taehyung feels like.

 

When Taehyung pulls away slowly, delicate hands clasped together at the back of Jungkook’s neck, he keeps their faces close, foreheads touching.

 

“Do I taste like almonds too?” Taehyung whispers, eyes still closed and a soft smile gracing those beautiful lips. It’s quite the sight and Jungkook just can’t help leaning back in to brush their noses together.

 

“You taste like strawberries,” Jungkook offers, listening to the way Taehyung laughs in surprise. “We use the same lip balm, by the way. Except yours is strawberry scented and mine is cocoa.”

 

Taehyung hums, brushing through the back of Jungkook’s hair with his fingers. It has a shiver running down Jungkook’s spine. “That’s a coincidence,” he muses, finally opening his eyes again so that they’re looking at each other up close. “But I don’t think I tasted any cocoa.”

 

Jungkook knows exactly where this is going but he still decides to play along. “You didn’t?”

 

“No, I don’t think I did.”

 

“Want to try again?”

 

Taehyung smiles a mischievous smile, one that probably mirrors Jungkook’s own.

 

“I thought you’d never ask.”



●●●



The next week of school is filled to the brim for Jungkook. When he’s not in class, he’s at basketball practice and when he’s not at basketball practice, he’s in the cookery room, trying to get more comfy around the other club members.

 

It’s honestly amazing. Nancy is super welcoming and insists on showing him around every single cookery classroom there is. She tugs him around to show him how each different oven functions, where they keep the cutting knives and even tells him the code to the safe that only cookery students have, and where they keep the extensive supply of herbs and spices. It makes Jungkook even happier to find that everything is split into the different cultures they come from, the Korean section having a huge selection of spices his mother uses at home.

 

He gets to meet the other club members too and although there aren’t that many of them, they’re all so nice and just as welcoming as Nancy. They all form a sort of family. Nancy is definitely the mother who prances around to check on how everyone is doing during their cooking sessions. Fay is the other mother, not only because Jungkook is almost certain there’s a little something going on between the two of them if going off of the way he had caught them making out while waiting for everyone to arrive, but also because she insists on taking care of everyone (including Nancy) when they overwork themselves. Kamal is the annoying little brother that always seems to be running late and has a few screws loose in the head but ends up making the best Baklava you ever did taste. Antonio is the quiet, yet equally as annoying cousin brother who when put together with Kamal somehow becomes the loudest motherfucker as well as the best chef duo of history. Dania is the cousin who seems like she doesn’t want to be there, dark clothes matching her dark facial expressions and her overall standoffishness, but her bright and rare smile makes itself known the moment they all start cooking or tasting one another’s dishes. Not to mention Mrs Rosemary, the official cookery class teacher - that Jungkook doesn’t doubt for a second has changed her last name to match her profession - who keeps every single one of them in check. 

 

It’s so fun and Jungkook genuinely feels as though they’ve made room in their little family for little old him. And it’s something he deeply appreciates. Something he couldn’t thank them enough for.

 

Aside from all of his school responsibilities and hobbies, it is physically impossible for Jungkook to stay away from Taehyung. And luckily, it seems to be the same for Taehyung too.

 

Anytime the two of them are free, they’re together. Jungkook doesn’t even feel bad that he’s taken to ditching his friends to sit with Taehyung at lunch. Not that he should be feeling bad considering his friends have their time during practice. 

 

He doesn’t think anyone’s really noticed that he and Taehyung are… something, but it probably won’t be long before it’s on the front page of the school magazine. 

 

Taehyung is very open to say the least. It’s not something Jungkook dislikes, in fact he really likes it, but it’s just not anything he’s used to. When around Jungkook, Taehyung is touchy, offering anything from an intertwining of their fingers to full on kissing on the lips. They’re still new, a little bit awkward and just getting to know each other’s likes and dislikes, but there’s an unspoken agreement between the two of them saying that they’re not even going to try to hide the fact that they like each other.

 

That’s why Jungkook doesn’t find it surprising when he and Seokjin are walking to school like normal one morning and they find Taehyung waiting near the side road that he’d seen him go down after saving Ryan the caterpillar. He doesn’t find it surprising when Taehyung bounces up the rest of the way towards him to plant a wet kiss at his cheek, even as a few people who he’d seen at school a few times walk past. He doesn’t find it surprising when Seokjin makes a noise of disgust before continuing on to school, leaving the two of them behind to ‘coddle’ together. He doesn’t find it surprising when they walk the rest of the way to school together, hand in hand, as they talk about how their weekends went, despite the fact that they texted each other the whole time. He doesn’t find it surprising when they get intrigued stares and whispers as they walk down the school hallway together. He doesn’t find it surprising that Taehyung drops him off at his first class of the day, demanding that he come and pick him up after his theatre class for lunch. He doesn’t find it surprising that the words “yes, of course,” leave his own lips in an instant, ignoring the fact that his classmates piling into the classroom are hearing everything. He doesn’t find it surprising that he’s the one who leans in first, pecking Taehyung’s lips for a self-indulgent taste, before pulling away and admiring his bright, beautiful smile. Jungkook doesn’t even find it surprising when the two of them walk to school together every single day after that.

 

What Jungkook does find surprising, however, is this very moment. 

 

It’s a seemingly normal day, and he and Taehyung have just walked through the main building doors. A few students linger around, obviously half awake but with their noses in a textbook for a pop quiz beginning in less than twenty minutes, while a few groups are much more energetic and already messing about in front of their lockers.

 

“I really like that hoodie, by the way,” Taehyung says, poking at Jungkook’s arm with one of long fingers. “It reminds me of the first time we met. Come to think of it, that was right here.”

 

Jungkook stops in his tracks, letting the door swing shut and leaving the chilly morning wind behind. “What?” he asks dumbly.

 

Taehyung’s eyebrows furrow in confusion. “This is where we first met,” he reiterates, tapping his foot and gesturing around them as if to point out exactly where he’s talking about. 

 

Not that he needs to do that because Jungkook remembers standing here and seeing Taehyung on his first day, like it had happened a mere second ago.

 

“You- you remember that?”

 

“Yeah! Don’t you?”

 

“Taehyung,” Jungkook breathes out, taking a slight step closer to him. “I thought you didn’t even know I existed! That was my first day here and I remember seeing you and becoming enthralled right then and there.” Jungkook doesn’t even bother holding back because he’s used to embarrassing himself in front of Taehyung at this point. In fact, he thinks Taehyung enjoys seeing him this unfiltered and open. “You walked right past me like you didn’t even see me.”

 

“What? No! That isn't what happened,” Taehyung insists, doing that thing where he gets so into what he’s talking about, that he doesn’t even realise he’s touching Jungkook. It’s his chest this time. “That day I was really pissed because Hobi and I got up early and came to school way before anyone else to practice with Ms Darbus since she told us she wanted us there. We waited for a whole hour, both on empty stomachs and then the bell went which meant we had to get to class. She never showed up that day and didn’t even bother to email us saying she wouldn’t be in!”

 

It makes sense because Jungkook does remember joining while there were lots of preparations going into the upcoming theatre production.

 

“And because we were so angry, we thought we’d just go home and skip school that day,” Taehyung continues, waving his hands about expressingly. “Then I saw you standing right in front of the door, looking so lost and cute. My first thought was who is this handsome guy and why haven't I seen him before?”

 

Jungkook gasps melodramatically, taking a step to the side slightly as someone enters through the door. “You’re making this up.”

 

“I’m not! I really did see you.”

 

Jungkook cannot believe this. He’s completely at a loss for words. All this time, while he’s been crushing hard on Taehyung and thinking he had no idea he existed, reliving that moment he’d first seen him in the hallway, Taehyung had seen him too? Taehyung knew who he was? And on top of all of that, he’d found Jungkook handsome as well? The thought has Jungkook’s heart beating embarrassingly fast in his chest and even after all this time, he’s still not used to the feeling. It somehow manages to get even more intense each time.

 

“But you- didn’t you barge past me?” he asks, just barely stopping himself from pounding at his chest with a tightened fist, anything to get it to stop beating so fast.

 

Much to his surprise, Taehyung laughs softly. “I only did that because I was too nervous to speak to you. I really didn’t want your first impression of speaking with me to be that I’m really bitchy and rude. But I still wanted to come into contact with you in some form. I wanted to touch you.”

 

Taehyung,” Jungkook hisses in warning, feeling his cheeks heat up. He glances around quickly to see if anyone heard anything but most people seem way too tired and groggy to be paying any sort of attention to them.

 

“Not like that, you pervert,” Taehyung laughs, using the hand on Jungkook’s chest to push him back playfully. Regardless, his hand stays there. “I just meant- like- you know? Make myself known!”

 

Jungkook cannot believe this is happening right now. He doesn’t even bother trying to stop his next words. “Taehyung, you’re the first person I saw. Everyone else just had blurry faces but yours was ingrained into my brain since the day I started school here.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes!”

 

Jungkook lives for the way Taehyung’s cheeks very quickly colour over to match the pink shade of his lips. “I guess I messed up my plan though, didn’t I? You probably thought I was some arrogant little-”

 

“You’re wrong,” Jungkook butts in. “I liked you from day one. It was in this very spot that I realised I liked you.”

 

The smile that takes over Taehyung’s expression is blinding. It’s so bright and beautiful that Jungkook is actually taken aback, but that’s how it always seems to be whenever he’s in his proximity. Either way, Jungkook loves it. He loves that he seems to be the only person who can crack the ice of Taehyung’s demeanour and bring out the smile he always keeps hidden. It makes him feel special.

 

Without thinking, Jungkook closes the tiny distance between them and wraps his arms tightly around Taehyung’s middle. He brings them into a warm hug, stuffing his nose into the crook of Taehyung's neck and relishing in his scent. It isn’t long before Taehyung is bringing him close too, equally as tightly.

 

This is one of Jungkook’s favourite things to do with Taehyung. Hug. He loves hugging Taehyung and always can’t shake the feeling of never wanting to let go.

 

That’s why even as the hallway piles up with more and more students at different levels of awakeness, even as they start getting a lot more curious looks, Jungkook doesn’t let go.

 

Jungkook doesn’t let go and Taehyung doesn’t either.



●●●



Jungkook can’t breathe.

 

“I can’t breathe.”

 

He really, really can’t breathe. The pressure, holding him down to the floor, has quite literally stripped away his ability to breathe. And it isn’t the best feeling in the world.

 

“Guys, I don’t think he can breathe,” comes a voice from above. It could be Seokjin, it could be Jonah, maybe even Namjoon. But Jungkook doesn’t know for sure. He’s more focused on breathing. Because he can’t breathe.

 

“I can’t b-”

 

“He’s fine!” comes a much more excited and loud voice, followed by the usual hollering and zoo-like noises.

 

That only leads to even more shouts of excitement and Jungkook has decided that this is where he’s going to die. On the indoor basketball court floor, with a bunch of his ‘friends’ stacked on top of him.

 

It’s normal. Jungkook has definitely been at the bottom of and survived a doggy pile before but after tonight’s session, where Coach Min pushed them to their limits, he had insisted they pretermit the somewhat of a tradition for just one day. Of course, that had only led to Jungkook receiving the most devious smiles, before he’d been tackled down to the floor and suffocated. Or well, he’s currently in the process of being suffocated. 

 

Because he can’t breathe. 

 

Damnit, he didn’t even get to say goodbye to Taehyung.

 

“Hey!”

 

The somewhat murderous shout easily overpowers the sound of his friends and finally Jungkook can breathe again, as the pressure lessens and lessens the quicker his friends get off. In the end, there’s still a slight heaviness on top of him, telling him there's all but one person left but anything feels better than having the entire basketball team on top of him.

 

“What the hell are you doing to him?” comes the voice again along with hurried and determined footsteps. Jungkook knows who it is, obviously he knows who it is, so he doesn’t feel even an ounce of fear. His friends however… oh, Jungkook can smell their fear. Especially the person remaining on top of him.

 

“Oh, Taehyung.” That’s Lucas, sounding oddly nervous with his wavering voice. “We were just- Jungkook’s fine, really, he isn’t-”

 

“Kim Namjoon,” Taehyung interrupts, voice authoritative and brutal. Jungkook can’t see him but he thinks Taehyung has his hands on his hips for sure. “I hope the fuck that isn’t you of all people crushing my Jungkook!” The wording of it, the brutality and the slight worry has Jungkook feeling way more flustered than is allowed.

 

It seems to do the job though because within a millisecond, the person is getting off of him and helping him up to his feet. It is Namjoon, eyes wide and hair an absolute mess. Even then, he hurriedly moves to fix up Jungkook’s clothes, fixing up his hair for him and giving him the most pleading stare he’s ever received. Unfortunately, Jungkook can’t help him with this one.

 

“See, he’s fine,” Namjoon insists, gesturing around Jungkook with his hands like he’s some sort of antique showcase person. Jungkook finally gets to look at Taehyung and he doesn’t look very happy. “He’s okay. Jungkook, you’re okay, aren’t you? See! He’s okay. He’s fine.”

 

Jungkook drowns out all the agreements coming from his friends, ignoring all the fear in each and every one of their voices, the very moment his eye catches Taehyung’s. He can’t help but smile at him, living for the way he smiles right back innocently, like he hadn’t just scared the living daylights out of Jungkook’s friends. Jungkook probably looks like a fool in love. Though that wouldn’t be far from the truth.

 

“Kim Namjoon,” Taehyung repeats, giving Jungkook one last, genuine smile before it slips off startlingly fast when he looks at Namjoon.

 

Namjoon tenses up beside Jungkook. “No, please. Not this again, please, I-”

 

“You’re still hooking up with Mia despite the fact that you know Lucas is practically in love with her,” he starts, voice eerily slow and quiet. Nobody pays attention to the evident sound of Lucas choking. “You're also still failing chemistry and calculus, somehow even worse than the last time we spoke. You told Coach Min that you weren’t the one who popped all those basketballs when we all know that’s a lie. Last week you spilt water all over the gym floor and failed to wipe it up. You were the cause of half of your teammates slipping and falling over, two of which even sprained their ankles.” There’s the sound of two angry bench-bound basketball players. “You say you go jogging every morning like all your teammates to keep fit and healthy, when the only jogging, or rather, sprinting you do, is when you want to get to the shower before your sister every morning. Oh, and,” Taehyung whispers, not so quietly, “you pissed yourself an hour before the championship game the other night.”

 

Jungkook feels sorry for his best friend. He really does. But at the end of the day, this is what he deserves for almost suffocating him in front of Taehyung.

 

“I- I didn’t- that isn’t- I-”

 

“Joon, is this true, man?”

 

“Shit man, I didn’t know your nerves did that.”

 

“What did I tell you about talking to me about these things.”

 

“You’re still hooking up with Mia?!”

 

“I better not catch you trying to kill Jungkook ever again,” Taehyung continues, never once breaking eye contact with Namjoon, “or I swear, I will-”

 

“Okay, okay,” Jungkook cuts in, stepping up between the two of them. Despite how much Namjoon deserved this, he is still one of Jungkook’s closest friends so it’s the least he could do. Though he must admit, the sight of Taehyung looking just about ready to pounce at all these muscly, sweaty boys who are almost twice the size of him, all of which look frightened beyond belief, is so funny to see. Not to mention Namjoon is shivering like a leaf. “I’m okay, Tae. Really.”

 

“You’re okay?” Taehyung asks, face softening almost instantly at the sight of Jungkook. It makes his insides all warm and fuzzy.

 

“I’m okay. That was just… something we do sometimes.”

 

Taehyung sighs out in relief as his hand comes up to smooth over Jungkook’s hair. Despite how nice it feels to have Taehyung’s fingers carding through his hair and tucking the longer pieces behind his ear, Jungkook has half the mind to feel slightly embarrassed because it’s probably still damp with sweat from such a hardcore basketball practice. Taehyung doesn’t seem to mind though because that pretty smile still sits firmly at his lips.

 

“They’re being disgusting again,” Jungkook hears. It’s hushed and barely audible but he hears it only because it’s Seokjin and Jungkook is just so used to him. He almost sighs in relief at the fact that Taehyung hasn’t heard it, because they definitely would have had to prepare for Seokjin’s funeral if he had.

 

“Come on, let’s sit down,” Taehyung suggests, already tugging Jungkook towards the bench. “You’re probably tired.”

 

Once they get to the bench, the few that are sitting there are quick to shoot up from their seats, stepping as far away from Taehyung as possible. Jungkook briefly wonders if this is how it feels to be royalty because Taehyung seems completely used to people moving around for him and giving him all the space he needs and more.

 

“Didn’t you have theatre today?” Jungkook asks, mind flickering back to when he and Taehyung had discussed meeting after their school responsibilities. They had agreed that they’d meet at the gate but Taehyung’s here early.

 

Taehyung nods, reaching for a towel and gently wiping up the sweat from Jungkook’s neck. It makes him feel slightly flustered but he lets Taehyung continue and decides to bask in the feeling of being pampered. “We just finished earlier than usual,” he clarifies, “and I thought I’d come pick you up.”

 

Jungkook hums as he drags his undoubtedly affectionate eyes away from Taehyung’s gorgeous face. Sometimes he still finds it difficult to comprehend that Taehyung is here. With him. “What did you get up to today?” Then just to prove how besotted he is, he adds on in quite the whiny tone, “I didn’t get to see you at lunch today.”

 

Taehyung’s hand stops momentarily, leaving the towel against Jungkook’s damp skin. Jungkook gets it though. It isn’t often that he is brave enough to speak his thoughts especially when they involve Taehyung, so it must be surprising to him. But Jungkook thinks he should probably start doing it more if it means the tips of Taehyung’s ears are going to tinge pink like they have now. 

 

“Sorry,” Taehyung mumbles, so quiet and... shy? Jungkook can practically hear the smile in his voice. “I had extra piano practice. I didn’t think you’d miss me that much.” Is he joking right now? Jungkook? Not missing Taehyung? Impossible.

 

Jungkook raises his hand slowly until he reaches the towel. He decides to just go for it and gently places his hand on top of Taehyung’s, relishing in the warmth it gives off and the tingling it causes. It’s such a simple touch yet it has Jungkook’s heart soaring. Taehyung stares up at him with those wide, chocolate brown eyes of his, though he doesn’t pull away, seemingly enjoying it just as much as Jungkook.

 

“The moment you walk away from me, I miss you,” Jungkook admits, rubbing his thumb over Taehyung’s.

 

The words cause Taehyung’s eyes to widen even further. Despite the shock laced in his expression, the obvious softness is still there and Jungkook feels so accomplished at having made Taehyung shy. The eye contact between them gets so intense, that Taehyung actually takes a moment to look away, smiling bashfully down at his lap. His hand, however, stays exactly where it is beneath Jungkook’s. And it’s during that time, at the sight of somebody so handsome and beautiful, somebody who’s all confident and popular but turns into a blushing mess at a few simple words, a few simple touches, somebody that secretly has the nicest soul on the planet, that Jungkook decides, he really, really likes Taehyung. A lot. In fact, he thinks he might be in-

 

“The feeling’s mutual,” Taehyung suddenly says, words cutting through the slight silence they’d found themselves in. It’s said with such conviction and such genuineness that Jungkook is taken aback, heart momentarily stopping. 

 

He doesn’t have a right to feel shy, not when he’d been the one to say the words in the first place, but he can’t help it. It’s difficult for him not to get shy when he’s around Taehyung.

 

“So, what did you get up to at practice today?” Jungkook asks quickly, looking away from Taehyung’s smile and swiftly taking the towel from him, getting rid of the hand contact. He is certain Taehyung has noticed the sudden shift in topic because of the way he chuckles before answering.

 

“It was really fun! Although Hobi and I didn’t get the leads, we’re still playing quite big roles in the musical. Second leads if you will.” When Taehyung speaks about acting or music, he always gets this bright gleam in his eyes. Jungkook could listen to and watch him talk like this for days. “We started practicing that with Jimin since Yoongi had basketball and we got on well. He’s a great actor and an even better singer.”

 

Jungkook feels something rise in him, something that makes him feel proud of Taehyung for putting his and Jimin’s obvious differences aside. “That’s great!” he chirps, raising a hand to rub at Taehyung’s shoulder. “I’m happy you’re getting along.”

 

“I regret being so mean to him. And honestly, I think I enjoy my role better now than the one I auditioned for,” Taehyung continues. He switches their previous position and places his hand on top of Jungkook’s, keeping it there seemingly unconsciously. As usual, the small touch makes Jungkook feel on top of the world. “I’m just so excited to perform already!”

 

That pulls Jungkook’s attention away from Taehyung’s soft hand as he allows his bottom lip to jut out in hopefully a pitiful way. “When will you let me come and watch your practice again?”

 

Taehyung raises a brow. “First of all, I’ve never let you watch my practices, you just came and secretly watched them out of your own accord! Not to mention you scared the shit out of Hobi.”

 

Jungkook raises his index finger to counter that statement but he gets cut off before he can even try to deny it.

 

“Second, I already told you, you’re not allowed to come to any of my practices for this upcoming musical. You’re banned from the auditorium.”

 

Jungkook frowns, glaring non-maliciously at Taehyung. It’s as upsetting as the first time Taehyung had told him of this banishment. “But I miss watching you perform.”

 

“And I miss you watching me perform too. I keep accidentally looking for you in the back of the room,” Taehyung admits, smiling sheepishly at him.

 

“See! It’s just painful for both of us!”

 

“You are not coming to any of my practices, Jeon Jungkook, and that’s final. Don’t try to change my mind because it’s not going to work,” Taehyung states, voice coming out cute and endearing to Jungkook, even when he tries to be demanding. “Anyway, my last point was going to be that I want you to see the final performance without spoiling it for yourself. I want you to be excited when you watch it and that’s not going to happen if you already know what's going to happen in each scene.”

 

Jungkook pouts again. “But I’m always excited watching you perform. No matter what it is.”

 

Taehyung doesn’t say anything to that. Instead, he makes a few small exasperated noises, before looking away from Jungkook entirely. The very tips of his ears and the tops of his cheekbones both turn a beautiful shade of pink, as he plays around with the thin rings on his fingers. That reaction is enough to make Jungkook feel just as embarrassed and shy, and he almost flinches at the heat he feels rising up his neck. He really has to work on that brain to mouth filter of his.

 

Jungkook thinks about apologising for making things so awkward. Maybe it would be best if he did that, even if what he said was very true. He can’t stand the thought of Taehyung feeling uncomfortable because of something he’s said and it’s for that reason that he opens his mouth, ready to break the silence and say sorry. 

 

(Come to think of it, when did the rest of the team leave?) 

 

But once again, Taehyung beats him to it.

 

“Show me basketball,” he says, standing up from the bench to look down at Jungkook pointedly.

 

“What?” Jungkook asks, dumbly.

 

“Show me basketball,” he repeats, holding out a hand for Jungkook to take. “You said you get excited watching me perform but I also get excited watching you play basketball. You make the effort to come and watch me practice but I’ve never once done that to you and basketball.”

 

Jungkook feels his mouth drop open. “But- you don’t have to- we did baking together!” he stutters out, hesitantly taking Taehyung’s hand and allowing himself to be pulled up.

 

“Baking and basketball are two very different things,” Taehyung points out easily. “Show me basketball.”

 

To say that Jungkook is shocked would be an understatement. “But you don’t give a shit about basketball.”

 

“But you do,” Taehyung easily counters back. “I want to experience everything you enjoy, just the same way you try to do with me.”

 

At first Jungkook feels like he’s completely out of his element. It’s so dumb because basketball is his element, something he’s supposed to be entirely comfortable in. But with Taehyung here, playfully bouncing a ball in front of him and watching Jungkook intently as he explains as much as he can about the game, it feels like he’s a baby, discovering a ball for the first time. 

 

He stumbles over a few of his words as he shows Taehyung to every single corner of a basketball court, explaining each position and where they can go. Taehyung doesn’t seem to notice or care because he nods encouragingly, asking questions every now and then as if what Jungkook is saying actually makes sense. 

 

Things start getting much easier, however, when Jungkook actually has the ball in his hand. He shows off a few tricks he can do, trying not to burst at the way Taehyung stares at him. He even goes as far as touching Taehyung’s arms and hands to put them into the right position to spin the ball on his index finger. Taehyung can’t do it for longer than two seconds but Jungkook assures him that it takes practice and that he could get it if he keeps trying.

 

“How about shooting?” Taehyung asks, once they’ve moved on from the tricks. He dribbles the ball with amazing technique, doing exactly what Jungkook suggested. Wow, he had no idea that Taehyung was such a fast learner.

 

“Shooting is a weird one,” Jungkook explains, playfully stealing the ball from Taehyung. “Some people are naturally good at it and others need lots of practice.” Jungkook's voice hitches at the end as he dodges Taehyung’s grabby hands, twisting his body around to stop him from getting the ball.

 

“Give it back!” Taehyung whines, reaching an arm around Jungkook when he turns away.

 

Like this, Jungkook is painfully aware of how close their bodies are but he’s having too much fun to be worried.

 

“Steal it off me,” Jungkook retorts, slipping the ball under his leg and switching it to his other hand.

 

Taehyung gives him quite the predatory glare, lips pouting out in frustration. He tries again but Jungkook easily keeps the ball out of his reach, laughing at the way Taehyung makes a noise of annoyance. He knows Taehyung isn’t really angry because there's a smile that is obviously fighting to overtake his lips. 

 

They scuffle around for a while and soon both of them are laughing so loudly that their voices echo in the otherwise empty gym. Taehyung keeps lunging at Jungkook, bringing them chest to chest multiple times, but Jungkook is quick to dodge away, dribbling the ball around with ease. Their close proximity every now and then makes Jungkook feel flustered, laughter coming out slightly higher pitched than he’d hope but he’s enjoying this so much. He’s having so much fun he can’t even bring himself to be cool about it all.

 

In the end, they’re both too out of breath and despite his usual competitiveness, Jungkook slows down just so Taehyung can steal the ball. And he does that in a second, snatching the ball off of Jungkook with a somewhat evil laugh, shouting out in joy. It’s such an endearing sight, makes Jungkook’s heart flutter and leaves him feeling at ease. It makes him want to stand there and stare for the rest of his life. But then it also has him itching to move closer and be near him.

 

For once, Jungkook doesn’t bother thinking twice. He lunges forward this time, slipping behind Taehyung and bending down. It’s so quick that he knows Taehyung doesn’t have time to process what’s happening until he’s been lifted up in the air, legs hanging over Jungkook’s shoulders and a tight grip on his thighs.

 

Taehyung lets out a small shriek, free hand immediately rushing down to grab at Jungkook’s hair in fear of being dropped.

 

“Jungkook!” Taehyung exclaims. Jungkook almost chokes at the way Taehyung’s legs tighten slightly from fear, almost completely wrapping around Jungkook’s neck.

 

“Don’t worry, I won’t drop you!” he shouts back, holding his knees even tighter in an attempt to pry them apart. He’s very keen on the idea of Taehyung not strangling him to death with his thighs, thank you very much. Luckily, he relaxes a lot more and accepts the fact that Jungkook is carrying him up on his shoulders. “Like this you can easily shoot a basket,” he explains, walking Taehyung over to the hoop.

 

“We’re not in some cliche rom com, Jungkook!” Taehyung accuses, though he still does squeal in joy once they’re close enough to the hoop that he can just about reach out and touch it. Jungkook feels accomplished.

 

Taehyung scores the basket and only then does Jungkook let him down, enjoying the bright yet somewhat mischievous smile gracing his lips. Jungkook is apparently so much in a daze that he doesn’t immediately notice the way Taehyung picks up the ball. It’s only once Taehyung is a few metres away, standing in an almost perfect shooting stance that he falters, letting his mouth drop open.

 

“You don’t have to carry me for me to score,” Taehyung muses, sending Jungkook a wink before turning his attention back to the task at hand. 

 

Jungkook doesn’t say a word, can’t say a word, when he sees the way Taehyung jumps slightly and flicks his wrist, sending the basketball flying right into the hoop. He doesn’t look at Jungkook, just goes straight after the ball then jogs back to where he was. But he doesn’t stop there, he takes a few more steps so he’s further away from the hoop. Then he gets right back into position again and he scores. Just like that. This time Taehyung walks so far away from the basket that Jungkook doesn’t think he’d be able to hear him if he spoke. He looks at Jungkook as well, smiles at him teasingly, like he knows exactly what he’s doing to him. He’s so far away but he jumps gracefully, feet pointing towards the floor, and sends the ball flying in a perfect arch. The ball circles the hoop then easily drops down the middle, getting Taehyung his third score. He doesn’t even look mildly surprised with himself and instead smiles toothily at Jungkook as he makes his way back over.

 

Jungkook falls in love right then and there.

 

Taehyung walks back slowly, though there’s a slight spring in his step. He walks slowly, swinging his arms back and forth, all calm and collected after he just did that. He walks slowly, a knowing look in his eyes, taking in the imaginary crowd going wild around him. He’s walking slowly. He’s walking too slowly. He’s taking too long.

 

Jungkook all but runs, barely noticing the way Taehyung stops in his steps, eyes widening slightly. Jungkook all but runs that entire distance to get to Taehyung, right into his arms. Jungkook runs like he’s in a marathon or perhaps even a race. But his heart races even faster.

 

Despite the nerves that are ever present at the forefront of Jungkook’s mind, kissing Taehyung is easy. He holds Taehyung’s face between his palms and leans in, pressing their lips together in a soft, sweet kiss. Taehyung doesn’t respond at first and simply just stands there with his hands by his sides and that makes Jungkook smile against his lips, finding it nothing but endearing. Luckily, he doesn’t have to overthink about anything because it isn’t long before Taehyung’s hands are clasped at Jungkook’s nape, tilting his head to deepen their kiss.

 

It’s nothing like their first kiss. There’s something a lot more fervent about it, like there’s actually a reason behind it. Not that there wasn’t reason behind their first kiss. It’s just that, there seems to have been a switch.

 

And Jungkook’s heart isn’t beating out of his chest anymore either. Because he suddenly feels calm. Don’t get him wrong, the butterflies are still very much present in his stomach, but right now, he doesn’t even need to think twice about anything. Not while he has Taehyung in his arms and the taste of his lips implanting itself onto his own.

 

Taehyung does the most heart clenching thing though, as he threads his fingers into Jungkook’s damp hair. He giggles, fucking giggles, before bringing the two of them impossibly closer. Jungkook doesn’t hesitate in getting to know Taehyung’s mouth, trying to learn every nook and cranny, and relishing in his taste. 

 

Once they pull away, Taehyung sighs, a warm puff of air fanning over Jungkook’s wet lips.

 

“Where did you learn to do that?” Jungkook whispers, mindlessly smoothing his fingers over Taehyung’s t-shirt.

 

“The tongue or the basket scoring?” Taehyung replies, shameless and teasing.

 

Jungkook splutters, pulling away entirely from Taehyung. “The basket scoring!” he exclaims, letting himself rub at his quickly warming cheeks. It doesn’t help that Taehyung looks absolutely spent, cheeks a warm pink and lips glossy.

 

“My parents own a holiday resort and they have every single sports field and court imaginable,” Taheyung says matter of factly. “I practically grew up playing every single sport that there is to play.”

 

Jungkook is at a loss for words. Okay, sure. Taehyung has played every single sport. But that doesn’t explain how he’s abnormally good at shooting hoops with a seemingly 100% success rate. It doesn’t explain how Taehyung had managed to do it so effortlessly, so majestically that it hadn’t even looked like he was trying . It sure as hell doesn’t explain why watching him score baskets with his lips lifted into a smirk, made Jungkook feel things he’s never felt before.

 

“But you-”

 

“My brother and sister are more into baseball though. So we usually went for that instead of basketball or football or-”

 

Jungkook’s brain promptly cuts itself off from Taehyung’s babbling. He knows Taehyung. He likes to think he knows Taehyung more than most people. He knows how he tries to act all cocky and arrogant when in actuality he’s one of the most humble people to walk this earth, wanting nothing more than to make people happy while he performs. But it still comes as a shock to him to think that Taehyung has kept this hidden for so long. He could have very easily bragged about how good he is at sports in such a sportsmanship and basketball focused high school. He could have very easily gotten even more popularity than he already has and possibly even a captaincy in the team. He could have very easily won trophy after trophy, bringing his team to victory in every single game with his incredible shots.

 

But he didn’t. He doesn’t .

 

“-and there’s also a massive swimming pool which is always packed with tourists, so every summer we like to-”

 

“Taehyung.”

 

“Yes.” It’s so endearing, the way he perks up immediately. Jungkook must have been staring this whole time because Taehyung’s cheeks are bright red and he seems to find it difficult to keep eye contact.

 

And Jungkook is too gone to feel even an ounce of embarrassment.

 

“I really, really like you. A lot. I like you a lot.”

 

Taehyung’s breath audibly hitches. “Y-you do?”

 

“I do,” Jungkook nods, shoving his hands into his pockets to keep them from rubbing at his overheating cheeks again. “I like you a crazy amount. Everytime I’m with you, everytime I’m near you, all I want to do is show you, tell you, how much I like you. So I’m telling you now. I like you. A lot.”

 

“Oh, I- I like you too. A lot. I like you a lot too.”

 

There goes Jungkook’s heart again, beating at the speed of light.

 

“I want to kiss you again,” Jungkook admits, forcing himself to look Taehyung in the eye.

 

“I want to kiss you again too.”

 

Jungkook can’t help himself. “How much do you want to kiss me?”

 

“A lot.” It’s the little hiccup in Taehyung’s voice that brings Jungkook a little bit more confidence and urges him to push it further, to make this little moment last longer.

 

Even when he’s got Taehyung’s face back in his hands, noses brushing and creating a spark of electricity, Jungkook pushes it.

 

“A lot?”

 

“A lot.”

 

It’s simultaneous, the way they both lean in. The touch of their lips, makes Jungkook feel weightless and as though he can go and do just about anything. Not to mention that the sparks of electricity quickly turn into bright, colourful fireworks.

 

A lot of them.

 

●●●



Just as Jungkook predicted, a few weeks later, he and Taehyung are the front cover of the monthly school newspaper.

 

He has to admit, the journalism club members did a very good job on the picture they used. It’s an image of Jungkook putting Taehyung’s hat back on for him after it had fallen off. Jungkook remembers that day clearly. Taehyung had been excitedly showing him his new hat, a ‘baker boy hat’ he’d called it, gushing over the fact that it reminded him so much of Jungkook that he just had to buy it and add it to his hat collection. It’s heartwarming and very domestic-looking and Jungkook doesn’t feel embarrassed in the slightest at the fact that in the picture, the hearts are obvious in his own eyes as he smiles at Taehyung.

 

Not to mention the whole article written about how cute and unexpected they are. The musical ice prince and the golden boy basketball jock in a relationship together. It goes on and on about how they have defied the rules of the status quo and encourages others to do the same, linking it back to all the hobby admissions going on nowadays. 

 

In a way, Jungkook is happy to see that people are becoming more accepting of one another, but something he’ll never get used to is the dozens of people coming to see him everyday, asking him what types of food he can make, if he’s entering the cookery competition, if he’ll be doing cuisine or basketball at college. Of course, he has answers to all of those questions but it’s just a matter of getting them across without becoming a stuttering mess.

 

“Seriously, Jungkook, it all comes with the fame and the fortune,” Seokjin muses, slamming Jungkook’s locker door shut for him.

 

“This has nothing to do with fame and fortune!” Jungkook exclaims, rolling the copy of the magazine up and tucking it into his backpack. “I’ve had Jenny from the journalists club coming up to me and asking me for an interview. Me and my socially awkward ass can't do that! I’d probably just stutter the whole time and mess up with my words.”

 

“Don’t worry, Kook,” Yoongi says, all calm and collected. He slings an arm over Jungkook’s shoulder too as he tugs him towards the lunch hall. “The same thing was happening to me and Jimin last week. It all washes over.”

 

That’s true. After Yoongi and Jimin had been ‘outed’ as officially dating a few weeks ago, it was even bigger news than Jungkook and Taehyung. In a way, Jungkook is happy to have someone to talk to who’s experienced the suddenness of it all.

 

“Really?” he asks, dragging his feet along as they line up for lunch. He doesn’t even need to be here, considering the lunch he has packed in his bag but he guesses he could stay with his friends until they get theirs.

 

“Really. Everyone will forget about it all and move onto something else sooner or later.”

 

Now, Jungkook isn’t embarrassed of being with Taehyung. No way. It’s far from that. If he could, he would flaunt around, show off how lucky he is to have Taehyung by his side. He’s used to having eyes on him, what with having played many, many basketball tournaments in front of hundreds of eyes. It’s just the people coming over to talk to him that he gets slightly nervous about. But who knows? Maybe Yoongi is right and maybe this’ll all be pushed aside in a few days?

 

“Boyfriend!”

 

Apparently not today though.

 

“Boyfriend!” comes the call again, muffled over the loud chattering of the lunch hall. 

 

Despite his thoughts and the few looks he gets, Jungkook’s stomach flares up in excitement as the butterflies begin their gymnastics routines. Boyfriend.

 

He lets his eyes dart around hurriedly, ignoring the teasing from his friends, and looks for the familiar head of blond hair. It’s difficult, with how many people are gathered in the cafeteria, but in the end he finds exactly who he’s looking for.

 

Taehyung’s clutching the arms of his backpack tightly as he winds in out between different tables. His brows are furrowed and his lips are pulled out into a pout because he doesn’t seem to be able to find Jungkook. It’s such a cute sight but Jungkook isn’t fond of the idea of being far from his… boyfriend… for so long. So he raises an arm up in the air.

 

“Taehyung,” he calls loudly, waving his arm around like quite the lunatic. “Over here!” It harbours a lot of attention but the only eyes he waits for are Taehyung’s. And it’s worth it because those dark eyes immediately light up like the sun at the sight of Jungkook, smile boxy and showcasing his pearly whites.

 

Taehyung bounces over, easily skipping the long line with nobody daring to call him out for cutting in. “Hey,” he breathes out, eyes crinkling at the corners in delight. It’s one of Jungkook’s favourite sights ever.

 

“Hey, how was class?”

 

“Boring,” Taehyung groans, letting his head fall onto Jungkook’s shoulder. Jungkook doesn’t even bother looking to see if anyone is watching, and instead lets his hand move on it’s own accord to play with a strand of his blond hair.

 

“Same,” Jungkook agrees, giggling at the way Taehyung rubs his forehead into his shoulder. It tickles. “Fuck maths.”

 

Taehyung winds his arms around Jungkook’s waist, tugging him closely. It’s a gesture that Jungkook very much appreciates. “And now I’m hungry!”

 

That reminds Jungkook. “Oh, I’ve got that sorted,” he announces, pulling Taehyung’s arm away only to grab his hand.

 

Taehyung makes a noise of confusion. “What?” 

 

“Don’t worry,” Jungkook replies mysteriously, tugging Taehyung away from the lunch line with their hands intertwined. He also chooses to ignore the way his ‘friends’ begin teasing them loudly and opts for drowning out the sounds of their voices by focusing on Taehyung’s suspicious yet excited face. “Just come with me.”

 

By the time they’re seated at a vacant table, tucked away in the corner and far from the entrance and lunch line, Jungkook is sure that they’ve got lots of attention on them. The noise continues, sure, but it’s fairly obvious that they’ve got eyes on them coming from all directions, most of them entertained and just itching to see what happens next. Despite how nervous Jungkook had been before, he now feels pretty chuffed at having Taehyung here with him. At having people know that Taehyung is his boyfriend. Boyfriend.

 

Taehyung seems to be the same because he openly places their clasped hands on top of the table, leaning into Jungkook’s shoulder and waiting patiently. “That reminds me,” Taehyung mumbles, keeping his voice low as if not to be heard by others. “Did you see the magazine?”

 

Jungkook smiles. “Yeah, I did. Got a copy in my bag.”

 

Taehyung gets impossibly more relaxed against him at those words, letting his free hand cheekily pinch Jungkook’s thigh. “So, you don’t- so, you’re okay with it? With having people knowing?”

 

Jungkook hums. “I’m happy people know,” he insists before sealing it by placing a kiss on Taehyung’s forehead. As always, in doing so, he gets a whiff of Taehyung’s natural, almond-like scent; it’s so nice, so calming, that Jungkook catches himself closing his eyes for a few seconds.

 

The kiss obviously garners a lot more attention and Jungkook thinks he even hears a few gasps. Again, he chooses to ignore it as he reluctantly pulls away to remove his backpack.

 

He only falters slightly at Taehyung’s muffled reply. “Me too.”

 

Jungkook carefully places his bag on the table, jostling their comfortable position and getting Taehyung off his shoulder. He misses the contact already but decides it’ll be worth it when Taehyung sees this. He pulls out two meticulously packed trays and presents one in front of Taehyung with a small “ta-da”.

 

“Is this a-”

 

“A dosirak,” Jungkook confirms, taking in Taehyung’s bright and excited eyes. “A bento. Lunchbox. Whatever you’d like to call it.”

 

“Jungkook…”

 

“I remember you mentioning that you barely get to eat Korean food as much as you used to when you were younger, so I thought I’d bring you some,” Jungkook continues, after Taehyung pauses to gape at the opened tray and the array of different dishes. “And up until now, I’ve only baked for you so I woke up early this morning and cooked for you instead.”

 

Taehyung accepts the chopsticks Jungkook had packed and looks at him, mouth hanging open. “Jungkook,” he breathes out, “thank you. Thank you so much! It looks delicious.”

 

Jungkook shakes his head, trying to make clear to Taehyung that he doesn’t need to thank him. Jungkook would do anything just to see him this happy. “We have rice, egg, mini sausages,” Jungkook lists, pointing to each compartment of the tray, “shredded seaweed, spicy radish, and-”

 

“Kimchi!” Taehyung interrupts, smiling widely as he goes straight for the side dish. Taehyung hums around a mouthful of it, nodding his head rapidly at Jungkook. “It’s so good, Jungkook!” 

 

Jungkook watches him eat for a moment, not even trying to keep the dopey smile off his lips. Taehyung shovels up the food, complimenting every little thing the second his mouth is empty, right before filling it back up again.

 

Early this morning, Jungkook’s father had come downstairs, dressed in his work shirt and tie and didn’t even bat an eyelash at walking in on Jungkook cooking. In fact, he had asked for a lunchbox himself, taking a deep whiff of the mouth-watering aroma filling the kitchen. It had shocked Jungkook at first but at the same time, had made him absolutely ecstatic.

 

But not even that can ever compare to the feeling Jungkook gets from watching Taehyung eat and enjoy food he’s made for him. It’s a sight that makes his insides flutter and his heart go crazy in his chest. 

 

It makes him fall even more in love with Taehyung than he already is.

 

Before Jungkook’s no brain to mouth filter can attempt to take over, he turns to his own food, devouring it just as quickly as Taehyung. He has to admit, it is pretty good. But just for next time, the rice could do with a little bit more seasoning. The egg is good but maybe slightly over-cooked. Come to think of it, the sausages are actually under-cooked. The kimchi is as great as ever thanks to his mother. The spicy radish salad is not spicy enough and maybe next time he can try to incorporate-

 

“Boyfriend, stop weighing up the pros and cons in your head, seriously!” Taehyung says, exasperated. “It’s amazing! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a single one of these dishes and I-”

 

“Boyfriend.”

 

For the first time, Jungkook repeats it aloud. It’s one small word, taking up barely a second to say, but it’s said and it lingers. It’s almost as if the word echoes around them and suddenly, it’s just the two of them in the room.

 

A while ago, people stopped watching them because how interesting could it be to watch two people eat? But the noise still carries on. The squeaking of shoes against the polished floor, the clatter of cutlery against plates, and the loudest, the chitter-chatter coming from each and every occupied table as students talk about their days or gossip about rumours or complain about a certain maths teacher we won’t mention. 

 

But Jungkook can’t hear any of that.

 

It’s like the whole world stops, the very moment he and Taehyung make eye contact, that word still floating around them with a bunch of question marks. It sits at the very front of Jungkook’s mind, blaring in the colour red. It’s a word that Jungkook itches to hear again from Taehyung.

 

Luckily though, Taehyung looks equally as shocked as Jungkook feels, almost like he only just realises he’s been using the word so much. He sets his chopsticks down. “I-” he starts, before clearing his throat, “I um- well, that’s what- that’s what you are? Aren’t you?”

 

The way Taehyung says it, voice quiet and unsure with cheeks flushed pink, has Jungkook’s heart fluttering. “I- I am?” he asks, mildly shocked at himself for being able to form a proper sentence.

 

Jungkook’s eyes follow the movement of Taehyung’s tongue as it sticks out to lick at his lips in a nervous manner. Despite that, there still remains a small splodge of kimchi sauce at the corner. “Well, um, yeah?” Taehyung says before rushing to add, “I mean, only if you want to! I just- I really want to and I um- really like you. A lot. But if you don’t want to be my-”

 

It’s almost like Taehyung’s babbling blends right into the background noise, coming in through one of Jungkook’s ears then going straight back out the other. Because that kimchi sauce stain is really bothering him.

 

“-and I completely understand if you don’t want to. I understand if you think it’s too fast or- you know. But um- I really like you and I want to be your boyfriemmph.”

 

It’s eerily similar to their first kiss in Jungkook’s garden. A press of lips to get Taehyung to just stop overthinking. But it’s also different because it’s their first kiss as official boyfriends.

 

“You had sauce on your lips,” Jungkook whispers, keeping their foreheads pressed together, watching (and loving) the way Taehyung’s eyes remain closed.

 

Taehyung’s hand has moved to rest on Jungkook’s thigh now, a touch so soft and subtle that it was probably unconscious. “Is that a yes?”

 

Jungkook chuckles, lacing their fingers together. “It’s a million times yes.”

 

Taehyung nods, then turns back to his food with a pleased smile at his lips. His lips that Jungkook just wants to kiss forever. They continue to eat with some difficulty due to their interlaced hands under the table. Not that Jungkook cares. He’d much rather starve for food than starve for Taehyung’s touch.

 

“You know,” Taehyung starts around a mouthful of rice, “I’ve called you so many things like ballboy, basket boy, big feet boy-”

 

“You know what they say about boys with big feet?”

 

“Ew, Jungkook!” Taehyung exclaims, shoving him back slightly while pretending to gag, just as Jungkook’s cheeks begin to heat up. He really, really needs to work on his brain to mouth filter because this is getting worrying. “Anyway, I couldn’t call you ‘boyfriend boy’ so I just called you boyfriend.”

 

“You don’t need to explain it,” Jungkook assures, pulling Taehyung close again. At this point they’re becoming each other with how close they’re sitting. “I like when you call me all these nicknames. I especially like boyfriend.”

 

“Really? Well, I was just thinking, there’s this other nickname I have if you don’t like this one.”

 

Jungkook frowns. “I do like this one. Boyfriend is my favourite one actually,” he admits. But he’s also curious. “But what else do you have in mind?”

 

“Oh, it’s special,” Taehyung says simply, smiling mischievously.

 

“Wha-”

 

“It’s something that I know you’ll love. A lot.”

 

Jungkook is sceptical yet he still can’t help but ask, “a lot?”

 

“A lot,” Taehyung confirms.

 

Taehyung turns completely around so that he’s facing Jungkook, knees up on the bench they’re sitting on so they press into the side of Jungkook’s thigh. It’s probably really uncomfortable for him to be sitting like this but he doesn’t seem to mind.

 

He cups Jungkook’s face in both of his hands, leaning in so that their noses are touching again. Then he pecks Jungkook’s lips, so softly, so sweetly, that Jungkook would have forgotten about the playful smile he’s still sporting if his eyes weren’t open. But lo and behold, it’s still there, teetering more towards a smirk rather than a smile. 

 

“What is it?” Jungkook asks, hand unconsciously moving to rest at his boyfriend’s hip.

 

Taehyung gets impossibly close, fingers slipping into Jungkook’s hair. Then he’s whispering, “baby boy.”

 

“Taehyung!”

 

Though, who is he to deny. Jungkook does love it.

 

But then Taehyung is laughing, eyes bright and mouth back to the usual boxy shape that Jungkook finds so endearing. Despite how embarrassing this is, watching Taheyung so happy brings Jungkook joy that he never thought he was capable of feeling. And so he laughs too. Laughs really loudly. The stares from the rest of the students are back but it’s not like either of them care because they continue to laugh boisterously, hands moving to tangle together messily. They always seem to find one another’s hand easily, as if the two were made to be intertwined.

 

Yes, Jungkook does love the nickname. Yes, he does love any nickname that Taehyung would want to give him.

 

But that’s because Jungkook loves Taehyung.

 

A lot.