“You said I’m in charge of the music,” the eldest retorts.
“And you don’t bother to take into consideration the people around you? It’s called compromise, hyung. When I say
“Can you just play Daniel Caesar?”
“Wow I don’t even get a please,” Hoseok tuts but relents to his request anyway.
He glances briefly in Taehyung’s direction, sees him lip syncing the words, his eyes sparkling from the fast passing streetlights. The song choice highly appropriate to the scene.
“Too bad,” the driver answers.
Jeongguk wants to defend the guy. He wants to correct Hoseok and tell him that Streetcar is in fact his current favourite song and that he is very much
“You didn’t replace me yet, did you?” Hoseok asks concerned.
“No, hyung. Your old room is still empty and vacant,” Taehyung assures.
“No, just an empty bedroom…”
They make their way up to Taehyung’s place on the fourth floor. Jeongguk reverting back to his silence while the other two provide all the conversation they need.
He takes Jeongguk’s jacket from his hands and puts it and his own jacket on just one hanger together.
Hoseok re-emerges from the kitchen with three bottles of beer, one in each hand and the last one tucked under his armpit.
“No, no. No drinking for me. I’m driving this kid home later,” Taehyung explains, patting the younger’s shoulder.
“Taehyungie is responsible now?” Hoseok mocks.
“What? I’m not a kid, Taehyung,” Jeongguk whines in offence.
“I’m kidding, Guk,” the boy giggles.
“Oh…” he pouts.
“But I’m still not drinking though. I actually have to drive you home.”
“Can you put on The Society?” Hoseok suggests.
“Movies, Hobi,” Taehyung scolds.
“You don’t like anything I suggest!”
“C’mon, it’s not like we’re actually gonna pay attention to it.”
“What about Titantic?” Jeongguk suggests, voice soft and quiet like a drop of honey in water.
Taehyung’s expression softens, a smile spreading to his almond eyes. “Sure,” he agrees.
“How’s Jeongsuk and Jeonghui?” Hoseok asks, breaking the silence.
There’s a pause—an awkward pause— albeit a pause that Jeongguk preferred over meaningless small talk. “So what do you think of Taehyung and Jeongsuk’s relationship?”
“Uh–“ he starts but is distracted by the sound of the microwave beeping angrily in the distance.
The two let out a simultaneous yes and no that has the guy confused.
“What? Yes?” Taehyung asks.
“NO!!” Jeongguk affirms without missing a beat, wanting the other to just come back as soon as possible.
“Taehyungie,” Hoseok says but his eyes land on Jeongguk, “how are things with Jeongsuk?”
Jeongguk glares at the guy over Taehyung’s shoulder, eyes narrow like knives.
Jeongguk begins to chew on his mouthful of popcorn, the bite too big so he chews loudly with his mouth open. The crunching noises cutting through their conversation.
“Jeongguk. Are you good?” Taehyung worries.
“You dropped something,” Taehyung teases.
“Tae,” Hoseok cuts in again, regaining his attention. “Things with Jeongsuk, give me details.”
Jeongguk’s crunching is insistent and Taehyung can’t help but laugh.
“Details?” Taehyung repeats back.
Jeongguk chokes on his mouthful, several pieces of the snack falling out of his mouth as he coughs trying to regain himself.
“Aiya,” Taehyung snorts turning back to the younger. He hands him a napkin from
Hoseok rolls his eyes at how softly he treats the younger, fingers impatiently tapping the glass of his beer bottle.
“Ah, sorry, hyung,” Taehyung speaks while tending to the flustered mess beside him. “Well, to answer your question, hyung, we’ve decided to take it slow.”
Hoseok huffs a defeated sigh. “Figures…” he mutters under his breath.
“I… just really love popcorn,” the youngest sputters.
“You didn’t even order popcorn when we went to watch Paper Hearts,” Taehyung recalls.
Taehyung turns back to Hoseok. “Well, I mean, I did. Jeongguk wanted to watch too so we invited him,” he lies.
“Really? Jeonggukkie, I didn’t know you were into those movies.”
He stares at his empty beverage like he’s just lost a loved one. “Do you have anymore beer, Taehyungie hyung?” He asks, a little dazed from the alcohol added with his anxiety.
“Yeah… in the fridge.”
The boy opens the fridge and stares blankly at the shelves, unable to register what he’s looking at.
“Are you alright?”
Jeongguk plops himself back down on the sofa. “Yes sir!”
“He’s got a high tolerance, don’t worry,” Hoseok reassures.
Hoseok sips his own before answering. “I’d give him… hmmm… two and a half bottles?”
“You said before he does something /stupid/!”
“Oh! Then 6 bottles,” Hoseok corrects.
Taehyung turns back to Jeongguk who he realizes had been staring at him the whole time. “Jeongguk. I’m cutting you off at your fourth bottle. Okay?”
Taehyung’s attention is shifted back to his hyung, suddenly curious. “So, how long have you guys been family friends?” He asks, gesturing between the two exes.
He wipes his mouth with back of his hand of the excess beer on his lip. “Uhh,” he clears his throat,
Jeongguk hugs his bottle close to his chest, splaying innocence in his eyes toward Taehyung.
“Really?” Taehyung looks impressed, his expression still fixed on the younger for more information.
“That’s not it!” Hoseok chimes.
“Then /you/ tell it!” The youngest defends, voice raising significantly.
“So you knew him you’re whole life, huh?” Taehyung asks the younger.
“Wow, I feel sorry for you,” Taehyung teases, earning a slap in the shoulder from the eldest. He takes the pain gladly after seeing Jeongguk laugh slightly.
“Yep,” Jeongguk answers, cold.
“Oh, hyung, I’m so honoured to be graced by your presence!” Taehyung exclaims sarcastically, placing his hands over his heart in fake awestruck.
Hoseok rolls his eyes, gently placing his beer bottle on the coffe table before shoving Taehyung backward with full force. The boy falls back into Jeongguk’s lap, popcorn on
Hoseok pounces on the boy before him, the two now wrestling on Jeongguk’s knees.
“You’re paying for dinner,” Taehyung declares to him.
Taehyung looks up to Jeongguk’s comically wide eyes above him. “Any suggestions?” He asks them both.
“Classic pizza,” Hoseok suggests with confidence.
“Why are you always against me?” Hoseok accuses.
“I’m not! I just—“
“Kimbap?” The youngest lets out, so quiet they almost miss it. Had Taehyung not been in the position he’s currently in, he probably would have.
“That sounds so good right now!” Taehyung kicks up, sitting upright now, “lemme order it!”
His jaw clenches, breath hitched in the back of his throat.
Jeongguk hears the question… he also hears Taehyung’s low toned voice echoing against the tiles in his kitchen— wow.
“Um…” he starts, then finishes by chugging his beer empty.
“I’m sorry, Guk. I didn’t think you’d still be mad over this.”
He reaches for the second bottle of beer he grabbed earlier, this one now being his third, and pops the cap open.
He stops in his tracks, staring at the younger in confusion, his head tilted slightly to the side.
“Is that your third beer?” Taehyung asks.
“Jack, I’m flying,” Jeongguk spreads his arms.
“See, Tae? Wasn’t that pretty stupid?” Hoseok points out with a chuckle.
“Did you order the kimbap yet?” Jeongguk asks, waving Taehyung to sit back down beside him.
“Ahh, really, nothing can beat Korea’s 24/7 delivery!” Jeongguk sighs.
Hoseok snorts to himself on the other side of the couch.
Hoseok groans momentarily before pulling out his wallet. He takes out his card with a flick and hands it to Taehyung.
“Wow, a real sugar daddy, huh?” Jeongguk comments.
“What?” Taehyung huffs an empty laugh, looking between the two for answers. Though, relying on Jeongguk for an explanation may be a lost a cause.
“Shut up, Hoseok-ah,” the youngest snaps.
“I’ve grown up,” Jeongguk retorts, voice getting louder.
Taehyung is caught in the middle (literally), their intense words piercing through his body to the other.
“Did you want me to stay sweet and naive for you? I bet that was a cute thing to see, right? Don’t you think so, Tae?” Jeongguk bugs into his personal space.
“Jeongguk, you need water, not beer. Give me the bottle,” the elder cautions, pining
As they play tug of war with the bottle, Taehyung pulling just slightly but not forcefully, Jeongguk just giggles to himself.
“Hobi hyung, do you like the sight of Taehyungie babying me?” He taunts, sticking his tongue out.
“I’ll come back with some bottles of water for us, alright?” Taehyung assures before disappearing.
“What the fuck?” Hoseok exclaims.
“I’m not speaking to you. Ever!” He declares.
“You’re such a child,” the elder facepalms shaking his head.
“And you’re ugly!” Jeongguk spits, crossing his arms.
Jeongguk takes the bottle reluctantly and does as he’s told. He didn’t realize how dehydrated he was until the refreshing liquid touched his lips.
Taehyung freezes, brows furrowing. He hears Hoseok choke behind him.
He takes smaller sips before repeating his question.
“Actually, little Gukkie,” he bops the younger’s nose with his finger, “I’m the one who said no sex. So no, I’m not sexually frustrated.”
“What??” Hoseok gasps.
“Why did you say no sex?” The eldest pries.
“Having trouble relating, Hobi hyung?” Jeongguk accuses, the connotations behind it only meant for Hoseok’s understanding.
“He’s drunk, hyung,” Taehyung excuses.
“That’s right!” Jeongguk proclaims, head nodding with pride.
“Because I disapproved?” Jeongguk assumes.
“No. I told her this way before I met you,” Taehyung corrects him. “I said no because—“
“Wait, so she lied??”
Taehyung sighs. “Who lied?”
“Jeongsuk! She said /she/ told you no sex!”
“That means she expected to go that far!” Jeongguk spouts, ignoring Taehyung’s explanation. “If you hadn’t been the angel that you are, Jeongsuk would’ve… she would’ve…”
“Lost her virginity,” Hoseok finishes for him.
“I wouldn’t say that was particularly angelic…” Taehyung says shyly, scratching the back of his head, and if Jeongguk wasn’t so busy glaring at his ex, he would’ve notice the tinge of pink against Taehyung’s cheeks.
Hoseok bursts into a fit of laughter, flopping onto Taehyung’s shoulder. “Pedophile??” He snorts.
When Hoseok’s laughter settles into a quiet giggle, there’s a knock on the door and suddenly they’re reminded of the food they ordered that Hoseok gets the privilege of paying for.
Jeongguk swallows a mouthful of donkkoseu kimbap before answering. “Why not both?”
Taehyung shakes his head for the third time, rubbing his temples.
“I’m,” Jeongguk puts down his chopsticks, then spreads his arms wide, “I’m Jeongguk.”
“And I thought you and Hobi hyung were friends!” He whisper yells.
“We /are/ friends,” Jeongguk lies, rather horribly, “this is how we talk.”
“Whatever, can you bring some of this food to the living room, Guk?” The elder requests.
“Finally!” Hoseok exclaims, rubbing his hands together.
“Hey, Tae! Jeongsuk is calling your phone!” Jeongguk hears Hoseok shout.
He hears Taehyung shuffle back into the room to retrieve his phone.
Jeongguk swears he kept his eyes open until he feels his eyelids suddenly widen, realizing they were in fact closing in on him.
“No, that’s— Suk, can you just—“
“The kid fell asleep,” Hoseok interrupts.
“I’m gonna carry you, Guk,” the voice warns.
The younger hums, arms curling in on himself, looking small and easy to carry.
“Ah…” the younger exhales, “Jeongsuk is lucky…”
He wasn’t expecting much of a reaction let alone the sound of the elder’s throat clearing uncomfortably… then the click of his tongue.
“Hyu—“ Guk starts, having his train of thought derail itself as he’s being dropped off on a mattress.
“Woah…” is all Guk sputters.
“Ah…” Guk breathes as he watches him wordlessly.
Although, Jeongguk makes no move to get comfortable. Instead, he oggles up at the tall boy before him.
“Remember when I asked you if…” Jeongguk hiccups, “if you’re sexually,” hic, “sexually frustrated?”
Taehyung lowers himself to sit on the floor beside the boy. “Yeah.”
“What’s that?” Taehyung consults, playing along with the younger’s mood.
“It’s actually me who sexually frustrated,” he mumbles, placing hand over his chest.
“Should I feel your forehead or something?”
Jeongguk nods cutely, sporting a toothless smile that makes dimples appear in his cheeks that weren’t normally there earlier that day.
“What wow?” Taehyung’s hand retreats to caress Jeongguk’s shoulder.
“Jeongsuk is very lucky. I’m jealous,” he confides.
“You’ll meet someone eventually, Guk. Now go to sle—“
“I’m jealous she’s dating you before me…” Jeongguk whines.
“I don’t wanna wait,” Jeongguk pouts.
“You’re just drunk.”
“No, I’m not. Smell my breath. No beer.”
Taehyung thinks now is a good time to say no to Jeongguk’s antics and take control of the situation.
Jeongguk sits up slightly, resting on his weight one on elbow. “Hyung, I wanna kiss you.”
His free hand reaches out to caress Taehyung’s nape, pulling him closer. And before Taehyung can deny him, the boy has already connected their lips.
“Good morning,” he greets with hints of sarcasm.
“The water is. The cereal is for me,” Taehyung teases, handing over the glass.
Jeongguk chugs it gratefully, washing out the taste of lingering beer.
Jeongguk nearly drops the glass that’s already half empty. Water spilling out onto his face that he wipes with the back of his hand. “Huh??”
“He didn’t tell you anything!” Jeongguk denies, “whatever he said to you isn’t true.”
Taehyung nods in understanding, slight epiphany. “Ah, because if it were true, you’d be a hypocrite, right?”
There’s a beat before Taehyung is sighing and getting ready to leave. “I suppose I’ll be eating breakfast by myself then,” he exhales is fake agony.
“Am I supposed to feel bad for you or something?”
“I hope you and Jeongsuk haven’t touched that mattress yet,” the boy comments.
“What the fuck is your deal, Jeongguk?”
Taehyung stands up, leaving his bowl on the coffee table, and walks up to him, eyes narrow, seeing straight through him. “What. Is. Your. Deal?”
“Yeah, I do!”
“You’re dating my sister!”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Because you’re like three years older than her!” He still sticks to it because he has no other excuse.
Taehyung huffs a sarcastic chuckle, crossing his arms.
“I’m not a fucking hypocrite.”
“Okay, so what’s your problem with me? If you’re not a hypocrite than you have no problem with our age gap.”
“Really?” Taehyung’s smug smile grows wider, “do you remember ‘Jeongsuk is so lucky,’ ‘Jeongsuk is so lucky to have you’? Do you remember that?”
Yes. “No,” he lies.
“Do you remember anything?”
Jeongguk bites his lip, his eyes surrending under
He pulls the boy close, their lips centimetres apart, their breaths fanning over each other’s mouths. Jeongguk is about to close the gap, getting impatient, when Taehyung pulls him away forcefully by his hair.
“You smell like beer,” Taehyung scolds.
Jeongguk is at a loss for words.
“Tae-“ Taehyung raises an eyebrow expectantly as Jeongguk’s words trail off into nothing.
“Do you have a problem with me, Jeongguk?” He repeats.
“That’s what I thought,” the elder remarks in a condescending tone. “So who’s gonna be the one to tell Jeongsuk about the kiss?”
Jeongguk’s head snaps up in fear, eyes blown wide, heart beginning to hammer.
Taehyung sighs in frustration, rubbing his temples. “Oh my god… Guk. You don’t make anything easy, do you?”
“Fuck you,” he snaps back instantly.
“What the fuck is this ‘childish’ narrative you’re trying to fit me into?” Jeongguk stands up taller, chest puffing out, abs flexing.
Taehyung rolls his eyes and laughs.
“I was- just… trying to piss of Hoseok!”
“Is that it? Maybe you should’ve kissed me in front him then, hm?” Taehyung scolds disdainfully.
“No!” Jeongguk urges. “You can’t tell her!”
Jeongguk swallows nervously, the words to object his statement in the back of his throat. “You just… can’t…” he stammers.
“Why not? What’s the big deal? Are you afraid of looking like a hypocrite?”
“Alright, then I’ll just text Jeongsuk right—“
“Fuck you!” Jeongguk shrills to stop the other.
“Jesus Christ, fine,” Jeongguk concedes.
Taehyung upturns his chin in satisfaction, a half snide of a smile smugly across his features.
Jeongguk grunts like he’s just been told to clean his room by his parents before sitting down. “What did Hoseok tell you?”
“That you two dated in high school. You, freshman. Him, senior.”
“Is that it?” Jeongguk questions.
“Yeah, pretty much.” Taehyung sees the boy facepalm. “So, why all the fighting?”
Jeongguk whines into his hands, the noises muffled and almost comedic.
“…so what I’m getting here is that you don’t want what happened to you to happen to Jeongsuk?” Taehyung observes.
Taehyung sighs in relief. “Well, why not just start with that?”
“Excuse me if I didn’t wanna be called a fucking hypocrite,” he defends.
“What am I supposed to think if you’re trying to hide it?”
“Okay…” Taehyung’s voice is softer than before,
“She’d never trust me again,” he confesses.
“But if you’re telling the truth—“
“Taehyung, no, I’ve been on both your backs about your stupid relationship ever
“… I’m not following,” Taehyung mutters a bit confused.
“She won’t forgive me after all the shit I’ve put her through.”
Taehyung moves closer to Jeongguk as if being closer would get him to understand better. “She’s your sister but she’s also my girlfriend. I have to be honest with her when someone’s tried to make a move on me.”
“I won’t tell her. You won’t tell her. It’ll be like it never happened. Please, Taehyung,” he begs.
“I don’t know if I’m comfortable lying to her,” he discloses.
This time Jeongguk moves closing the space between their legs,
Taehyung exhales defeated, “okay.”
“Your breath smells like ass,” Taehyung coughs, trying to lighten the mood.
Jeongguk gets up immediately and heads for the washroom.
“Jeongguk?” Taehyung calls.
Jeongguk’s head snaps to Taehyung’s attention. “Yeah?”
He’s half way out when Taehyung calls for him again. “Jeongguk?”
He freezes. “Yeah?”
“I still wanna be your friend. Alright?” He assures, getting the younger to believe he’s been reading his mind.
Jeongguk pauses before unlocking the front door, turns back around expecting for Taehyung to already be driving off. But he’s still there, making sure Jeongguk gets in safely.
“Where are you going?” He interrogates her.
“Gonna get coffee. Do you want anything?” She asks casually, stepping out the door past him.
“Ok, see ya,” she bids.
He watches her hop into Taehyung’s car with a smile, laughing too. And soon, they’re gone as Jeongguk is left to pray Taehyung keeps his word. If Jeongsuk found out and questioned him, he wouldn’t have an honest answer.
“Gukah!” Come Jeonghui from upstairs.
Jeongguk snaps up straight, eyes wide to attention to his brother. “What??”
“Come here!” the elder orders.
The boy slugs up the stairs into his brother’s bedroom slouched.
“Hyung?” Jeongguk questions from the doorframe.
Jeonghui turns and waves him in, to which the boy obliges, and he shows him his computer screen.
“What?” Jeongguk mutters trying to put the pieces together.
“I’m thinking about moving out soon,” the elder explains. “What do you think about that?”
“Yeah,” Jeonghui shrugs, “not too far though. Just further into the city to be closer to my job and other opportunities and what not. Finally be independent.”
Jeongguk stares at the screen with a blank expression.
“No, not yet but dad has been… ‘encouraging’ me to get out of the house soon,” he explains, patting the younger’s back while he reads. “So, which place do you like best? Roommate? Or no roommate?”
He doesn’t answer right away, let’s himself think on the question which has Jeongguk worried. “I guess, yeah. I think it’d be cool. Why?”
“That’s true but this time I actually want to. It’ll be good for me to start my life,” he assures.
“You don’t want me to move out,” Jeonghui inquires.
“I never said that!”
“Your eyes are bad at keeping secrets.”
Jeongguk pouts as he stares holes into the floor away from his brother.
“But you said you want to. And what about dad,” Jeongguk counters.
“You should know by now I don’t give a shit about what dad says.”
“You’re always tough like that,” he sighs.
Jeonghui gives him a firm pat on his shoulder.
Jeongguk shakes his head, cringing at everything he’s been doing.
“What?” The elder questions.
Jeongguk lets out an exaggerated sigh before moving to the foot of Jeonghui’s bed to flop down on it face first.
He turns himself over so he lays on his back staring up to the ceiling. “Jeonghui,” he whines, “I’m a bad person.”
“Agreed,” he teases.
“But, hyung,” the boy sits up, “I’m a bad bad person.”
Jeongguk lets out another garbled groan, frustrated with himself that he has no idea what to start with first. “I’m just— aaaghh!” He lays back down.
Jeonghui is ever so patient with him. “Okay… I don’t follow.”
“But I’m gonna tell you anyway.”
“Jeongsuk’s boyfriend is…”
“He’s…” Jeongguk’s expression strains trying to pick out the right words.
“Take your time, bud,” the elder remarks.
Don’t tell Jeonghui, he remembers.
“…okay. How weird?”
“Like,” Jeongguk waves his arms in the air, still laying down on his back, “weird!”
“Can you explain?”
“It’s like you hate me, hyung.”
“It’s hard to explain!” He buries his face in his hands.
“Can’t you maybe give me an example of when he was being weird? So I can understand you better.”
Jeongguk sits up straight now, legs crossed. “Okay first of all, he keeps paying for me.”
Jeongguk shuffles closer to the edge of the bed, suddenly enthused to explain. “Like when I first met him, he bought me coffee. And when we went to the movies, he paid for my ticket!”
“You guys went to the movies?”
Jeonghui gives him a pointed look, suspicious of the way his brother reacts but doesn’t badger him about it. “So he pays for things. Maybe he just wants get on your good side.”
“No, hyung, he’s so–“ the boy fumbles his words.
“Like, what kinda of guy with a girlfriend lets another guy kiss him??”
“What?” Jeonghui’s tone is loud and urgent, scaring Jeongguk back to reality to process what he just said.
“Have you told Jeongsuk?” Jeonghui is sitting up in his chair from his slouched posture, intimidating the younger.
“I- n-no, but–“
“Guk, you have to tell her. He’s unfaithful and she’s gonna get hurt.”
Jeonghui stands up, making a move to go and find her.
The sound of the front door opening cuts him off. “Oppa!!! I got your coffee!!” Jeongsuk calls from downstairs.
He takes long strides toward the stairs before Jeongguk is scurrying to get in front of him. “No!”
“What?” Jeongsuk overhears.
Jeonghui throws him a look of disgust. “What is wrong with you?” He yells in hushed tones.
“Hyung, please! I can’t explain right now. Just please don’t tell her!” He pleads.
“You can explain right now!” The elder demands.
The elder’s eyes widen incredibly so, a mixture of shock and absolutely appalled written over his expression. He stands there wordlessly, mouth hung open like he
“Hyung, please, I’ll tell her when the time is right. I promise,” Jeongguk begs, trying to get the elder to say something.
“What are you guys doing?” He hears Jeongsuk ask from behind him, coming up the stairs.
Jeonghui holds the boy by his arms to keep him close, escape not to be had at this time.
“Uhmm… Jeonggie oppa, I left your coffee in the kitchen.”
Now far away from Jeongsuk’s peering ears and eyes, Jeonghui practically tosses
“Did you just say what I think you said?” Jeonghui asks with his eyes shut, too ashamed to look his brother in the eye.
“No…” Jeongguk tries to deny.
“What the fuck were you thinking??” The elder scolds as Jeongguk pants for air.
“That doesn’t matter, Guk! What matters is that you kissed–“
“SHH!” Jeongguk urges him to be quieter, shoving his hand on top of Jeonghui’s mouth.
Jeongguk sinks to the floor, his back sliding down the counter before plopping his bum down
“Why were you even drinking that much in the first place?” Jeonghui questions.
“Never mind that. Jeongguk, you need to be honest with your sister. Your SISTER,” he repeats for emphasis.
“Hyung, she won’t forgive me,” he simply states, hopeless.
“She’s your sister, Guk,” the elder reasons.
“She won’t,” he says, voice firm and sure and Jeonghui finds no use in arguing.
The elder rubs circles into the boy’s knee for reassurance, still shaking his head.
“What’s the damage in pretending it never happened? We both agreed to it. It won’t happen again. No strings attached,” Jeongguk tries to convince himself.
“That’s all the more of a reason to keep this a secret. Why would I openly admit to being attracted to my sister’s boyfriend? No way!” Jeongguk crosses his arms, almost believing his reasons were justified.
“No! I don’t like him. I just met him. I don’t even know him!” He shakes his head rapidly, letting his messy hair swish back and forth.
Jeonghui sighs defeatedly.
“He was rude to me anyway, dick,” the boys rambles to himself.
“No, no. I still have to make sure he’s a good boyfriend for Jeongsuk like dad asked.”
“Jeongguk, I bet you dad’s already forgotten about the whole thing! Do as I say and stay away. Do you understand?”
“I’ll try,” he mumbles.
“And if Jeongsuk ever finds out and asks me about it, I will tell her truth.”
“Fine,” he agrees knowing full well Jeongsuk will never go to him for anything of that kind.
“So you’re gay?” Jeonghui asks, finally coming to a realization.
Jeongguk huffs a short laugh. “Yeah…”
Yet there’s one person he still hasn’t considered. The one person who is the cause for all the secrecy is the one person Jeongguk can be completely honest with.
“Hello?” The elder answers after a few rings.
Jeongguk says nothing for a bit, relishing in the way the low voice speaks to him.
“Shit,” Jeongguk mumbles under his breath before speaking up, “hey!”
“H-hi…” Jeongguk breathes.
“Uhm, why are you calling me?” The vivid baritone rings through Jeongguk’s ears, the hairs on his neck standing at a attention.
Taehyung groans. “Guk, Jeongsuk isn’t here, okay? I–“
“No. I don’t care. I just… need to talk to you. Alone.”
Taehyung glances down at the DSLR strapped around his neck and grabs the lens briefly. “No, not really,” he softly answers.
The elder retreats back into the apartment letting Jeongguk haltingly follow in after him.
Taehyung looks up toward the boy, eyes impossibly pure and harmless. “No,” he reassures with a subtle shake of his head, “you can sit if you want.”
He gestures to the side of the sofa that isn’t cluttered with stationary.
Jeongguk nods, suddenly feeling shy. He looks away from him to the piles of paper.
“Are you okay?” Taehyung’s hand reaches for Jeongguk’s knee but he’s too far from his touch.
Jeongguk finally exhales. “Look,” he begins.
After what felt like years, Taehyung finally speaks.
Jeongguk shakes his head immediately. “No! But–“
“Look, I’m not offended. But why are you telling me this?”
Jeongguk shrugs helplessly. “Because I’m… lying… to everyone…”
Jeongguk nods wordlessly. “I just needed to get it off my chest.”
“So are you satisfied now?” Taehyung asks.
As obvious as the answer should be, Jeongguk still has to think about it.
He gets up to leave but the elder calls out for him.
“No, you don’t have to leave,” Taehyung consoles.
“Come,” Taehyung nods his head back to the sofa but this time for him to sit closer.
“I’m working on that project,” Taehyung shows him his laptop screen, “these are the photos I took of Jeongsuk.”
What Jeongguk sees isn’t as lewd as he thought they’d be.
“Wow…” is all his brain comes up with but it’s genuine nonetheless.
“Yeah,” Jeongguk agrees, “they look… really good.”
Taehyung smiles, eyes disappearing into crescents, his cheeks poking outward like bread rolls. Jeongguk’s never seen him smile like that. It’s refreshing to say the least.
“Thanks,” he mumbles.
Taehyung shrugs. “I have no idea yet.” That explains the bottomless ball pit of crumpled paper they sit in.
Jeongguk shifts, turning his body completely toward the elder. “Do you know what themes you’re trying to convey?”
Jeongguk feels a bit uneasy at the answer. “Why that one?”
“I think it’s just because you have everyone around you in a trance. You have everyone fooled. Everyone except me,” the elder explains smug.
Jeongguk blushes immensely at the genuineness of the elder’s voice like he actually wants him. “I was joking.” He shies away from Taehyung’s pleading gaze and before he knows it,
“Taehyung!” The younger whines.
“I’m sorry. I had to.” Taehyung looks to the camera to review the photo. He grins in satisfaction and shows it the boy. “See?”
“Jeongguk?” Taehyung calls.
Taehyung decides to leave the modeling for another time. The project isn’t due for another couple months.
“Do you wanna have a drink?” Taehyung asks him.