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"You can't come, TehTeh," Jeongguk tells him as he packs his little Cinnamoroll backpack, putting in the most vital essentials of survival.

Colouring pencils, his DS, spare pair of undies, three different kinds of lollipops and a plastic fork.

He's always prepared.
"Why not?" Taehyung squeaks, his own Pompompurin backpack hanging limp in his hand.

Jeongguk adds a pack of stickers, just in case. Never know when you're gonna need them.

He sighs, conflicted. This is tough.

He needs to be delicate about this. "They don't like you."

Okay.
"They don't like me?" Taehyung repeats. "Why not?"

"They think you're scarwy." Jeongguk sighs.

Taehyung processes that, looking down at himself. He looks at his sharp black claws and and tongues over his fangs.

Pft.

He /knows/ he looks cuddly.
He drops down onto Jeongguk's bed with a huff.

Jeongguk zips up his bag and looks at Taehyung, hating to see him sad. He climbs up onto Taehyung's lap. "TehTeh..." he starts holding his face.

Taehyung grunts.

"Are you mad?"

"/No!/" He scoffs, then sniffs. "Like I care..."
Jeongguk pets Taehyung's hair. "Gu fi hufah," he tries gently, switching to their secret language. That always cheers him up.

But now he scoffs. "Intimidating how? They haven't even /seen/ intimidating," Taehyung growls, skin starting to look less human, gaining a glow.

Or not.
Jeongguk immediately reaches up with a scowl and tugs on Taehyung's horn. "Nu!" he warns. "Bad TehTeh!"

Taehyung whines, skin gaining a healthy flush again almost instantly. "Goo! Stoooop!"

Jeongguk relents once Taehyung sulks out an apology, bottom fangs poking out. "See?"
"See what?"

"This is why you scare them," Jeongguk explains maturely.

"Pffffft," Taehyung spits, laying back on the bed dramatically, folding his arms over his chest. He kicks his legs childishly, jostling Jeongguk, who has enough experience to wait it out. "Tiny wimps!"
The tips of Taehyung's ears are glowing red and his tail is all puffed out, but aside from that, Jeongguk knows he's just gonna sulk about it for a while, maybe lay a beat down on a teddy and then chill out.

Jeongguk climbs off his lap and pulls his backpack on. "I have to go."
Taehyung sits up quickly, eyes wide and shiny. "When will you be back?"

Gone is the demon and back is the baby.

"A few hours."

Well...

A few hours turns into a full on sleepover.
To say Taehyung takes it badly is a understatement.

"Dubu, no!" Taehyung sobs, staring at the boss as she talks to one of the kid's parents over the phone. "He needs to come home! Right! Now!"

He flits around the room, babbling jibberish.

"Na jah bli!"

The boss is oblivious.
Taehyung is heaving out sobs, staring right beside the boss, inches away from her, looking more like a child than the one that actually lives there.

He's tempted to go to Jeongguk, he can find him in seconds, can see him in his head.

Instead he goes somewhere else.
"Tae!" Namjoon greets him as he appears in his room, getting up from behind his desk to rush over to him and give him a cuddle.

It makes Taehyung smile for the first time since Jeongguk left. "Hi, Joonie."

Namjoon takes his hand, pulling him towards the bed. "I missed you."
"I missed you too," Taehyung pouts, sitting down on Namjoon's Ryan bedsheets.

Since Jeongguk started elementary school, they've all been a little scattered. He can't be with them all at once like he used to when they were younger.

But he tries to see them as often as he can.
They chat for a little while, Taehyung sitting and listening to Namjoon talk about this new book he's reading that he's really loving and even reads Taehyung a segment of it.

He thinks Namjoon knows he's sad, keeps shooting him worried looks and gives him a toy to cuddle.
Something about Namjoon has always comforted Taehyung, he takes care of him a lot when he gets overwhelmed. Namjoon jokes and often calls Taehyung his baby, despite the... small gap in their ages.

"What's wrong, Tae?" Namjoon asks gently, petting at Taehyung's tail.
Taehyung remembers what Namjoon told him once. To think things through, organise his thoughts calmly and—

"Googie hates me and wishes I was dead."

Or there's... that.
Namjoon just stares at him.

Taehyung blinks. "Okay, that's not true. I know that's not true, I'm just." He sighs, staring down at the teddy in his lap. He strokes over a fluffy ear. "Googie's making other friends now, and I'm happy, but..."

"You miss him."

Taehyung nods sadly.
"His new friends don't like me. I think I'm worried that maybe they'll make him not like me too?" Taehyung looks up at Namjoon, eyes searching. "Does that make sense, Joonie?"

Namjoon nods. "Jeonggukkie loves you though, Tae. He'd never not like you. He always talks about you."
Taehyung chews on his lip, tail swishing anxiously in Namjoon's hand. "So what should I do?"

"Try not to worry. It'll be okay," Namjoon nods, confident.

He wishes he could stop. He doesn't want Namjoon to think he hasn't helped so he nods, tries to take his words on board.
Taehyung may be a little insecure. He's not lived this long and not seen betrayal and pain.

Getting left behind.

He has the dents in his tail to prove it.

That doesn't reflect on Jeongguk, though. That's Taehyung's own baggage and he has to deal with that.

Healthily.
"Another," Taehyung demands, crushing the tiny carton in his hand.

Namjoon watches on, slightly horrified and hands over the 6th apple juice. "I-I think you've had enough..."

"I know my limits!" Taehyung sniffs, stabbing the straw through the tiny hole and drinks quickly.
Belly full of apple juice and animal crackers that Namjoon reluctantly gave Taehyung so he wouldn't be drinking on an empty stomach, he heads home.

Namjoon offers for him to stay the night, but Taehyung wants to be back in Jeongguk's room.

He'll be okay. He knows he will be.
It's not often Taehyung has the chance to write. But when Jeongguk first summoned him and he realised he'd be staying for a while, he got himself a journal. He used to write in it all the time, but slowly lost interest in it.

It would be good got him to start it up again.
The journal is some random one he conjured from the internet. A green one with a big smiling sunflower on the front.

He flips it open and reads through some of the past entries, all done in different coloured pencils. There's a few notes by Jeongguk that are mostly scribbles.
The last entry was a year ago, before Jeongguk started elementary.

'GOO + TEH 4 EVER'

He smiles at Jeongguk's messy scrawl, and nods.

"Forever," he repeats with certainty, flipping to the next page to start writing in a bold orange.
'Dear diary !

Sorry it's been so long, I didn't mean to leave you all alone. I was just having so much fun with my Googie bear, I didn't have time! I promise I'll try harder to fill your pages so your purpose is fulfilled! :D

Googie's older now. He's really shot up! :D
We've started big boy school now and it's fun!! I think I'm finally starting to understand math :3

Goo's busier now, though. I got sad today when he went out with his new friends, but it's ok! Joonie told me it'll be ok and I trust him.

(^^)b<--- Joonie
I'm a little lonely, but I've got you!!!

Think I'm gonna make something for Goo when he comes home tomorrow, show him I missed him!!

What should I make him?? Hmmm..... (O∆O)
.
I think a necklace could be cool!!!!

Alright diary, I better go and get started. Thanks for hearing me out, I hope you're doing well too.

Talk soon!!!

TaeTae out!

`(^▼^)´↑ <--- Me!!!'
Taehyung stays up most of the night working on his necklace for Jeongguk. He could snap his fingers and create one from thin air, but he wants it to be special, wants it to be made with feeling.

With lub.

Doesn't mean he doesn't use his abilities to help him along, though.
By the time Jeongguk comes homes, Taehyung can hardly stand still, bouncing around the house, 'accidentally' knocking over a accident relic that the boss freaks out over.

Taehyung doesn't care. That 'god' once called him stupid, and now look at him.

In the unemployment line.
Taehyung has to wait his turn to talk to Jeongguk. It's less acceptable for Jeongguk to be talking to thin air now that he's older, but he waves at him over the boss's shoulder, but Jeongguk's still talking to one of his friends who's mom dropped him off.

So he waits patiently.
It's Jeongguk's first big sleepover, of course he's excited to talk about it! Even once he says goodbye to his friends, he's eager to tell the boss all about it.

Taehyung grins as he listens to him, following behind the pair, nodding along even though it's not directed at him.
"And then! And then!" Jeongguk continues, following the boss around the kitchen to tell her about how they had a swimming pool in their backyard.

While Taehyung waits, he decides to draw a picture for Jeongguk to go with his necklace, giving him more time to talk to the boss.
Taehyung draws a picture of he and Jeongguk, standing side by side and uses his abilities to make the drawing move, the little figures of them hopping up and down before a tiny Jeongguk jumps into a badly drawn Taehyung's arms.

Little stars and hearts float across the page.
Sitting and waiting on the bed, Taehyung perks up at the sound of Jeongguk running up the stairs, soon bursting into his room.

"TehTeh! I had the best time ever!" He throws his bag down and starts to unpack it as he once again recounts his day as Taehyung listens to every word.
Jeongguk hardly pauses for breath and Taehyung giggles as he watches him fling himself around the room, giving a dramatic reenactment of his evening.

When he does finally pause, Taehyung holds the little bag and drawing in his hands up. "I made you something!"

"Cool! What?"
Taehyung presents the bag and Jeongguk takes it, pulling out the little pendant with a little red looking gem hanging off it in the shape of a wonky heart.

"That ruby is from my home," Taehyung explains with a smile. "It's really special. I look at it when I get homesick."
"Wow, TehTeh! It feels warm," Jeongguk says with a grin, looking it over.

Taehyung shows him the drawing that goes along with it, and Jeongguk giggles. "Do you like it?"

"I do!" Jeongguk's staring over the drawing before he gasps. "I got something for you, too!"
Taehyung watches Jeongguk drop the necklace and drawing on the bed, excited as Jeongguk rummages through his bag and pulls out a mostly squished cupcake, wrapped in saran wrap.

"We made them and I saved one for you," Jeongguk says, handing it over.

Taehyung gasps, eyes wide.
Taehyung holds the cupcake like it's the most precious thing he's ever received. Maybe it is. No one ever gives a demon anything, it's always bargained.

"Thank you," he says, chest warm.

"I got other stuff to show you!" Jeongguk adds, dropping his bag on Taehyung's gifts.
The drawing creases under the backpack and the necklace disappears in a fold of the sheets as Jeongguk shows Taehyung the cool games his friends let him borrow.

Taehyung gasps and nods along eagerly to what Jeongguk's saying, cupcake cradled protectively in his claws.
"I have to go show mom!" Jeongguk says, grabbing his bag and tugging it off the bed, sending the drawing and necklace onto the floor as he runs out of his room.

Taehyung looks down at the paper, watching the little animation of Jeongguk jumping into his arms and smiles.
Taehyung sets the cupcake safely to the side and picks up the necklace and drawing, gently smoothing the creases out.

The stars and hearts burst across the page into writing.

GOO + TEH 4 EVER

"Forever," Taehyung whispers into the empty room, holding his cupcake again.
i done made myself sad with this one didn't i, wow 🤡

if you know me, you know i can't write angst for long, so just,,, bare with it

be back tomorrow ! ! !
Jeongguk starts hanging out with Taehyung less and less, more focused on his new friends. He's not around the house as often and Taehyung's taken to carrying his journal around with him.

Writing is easy. He can't believe Tolkien needed to strike up a contract for it.
After a while, Jeongguk decides that Taehyung shouldn't come to school with him anymore.

"It's boring for you, TehTeh," he shrugs, going through his homework.

Taehyung sits next to him like usual, own pencil and paper in hand so he can do his "homework" too. "Boring?"
"Yeah. I wouldn't go if I didn't have to. So I won't make you," Jeongguk nods, rubbing out a wrong answer.

Taehyung stares at the side of his face and he immediately knows it's a brush off. He's been keeping his distance when they're at school, or he gets dirty looks.
Taehyung knows Jeongguk is trying to be nice about it. Or maybe he doesn't want him around either. Maybe he's embarrassed of him?

"Oh. Okay," he nods with a little smile, lowering his pencil. "That's really nice of you, Googie."

Jeongguk grins at him, focus back on is work.
That's how it goes a while. Jeongguk goes to school and Taehyung waits for him to come back.

The best days are when Jeongguk comes home and want to play with him. When they cuddle and eat snacks in front of the TV.

But those days seem to be getting fewer and further apart.
There's only so far Taehyung can go. He can't go and visit his home, can't return until Jeongguk dismisses him. He's stuck to roam and just wait.

But it's okay, because Jeongguk grinning at him when he comes home is enough for Taehyung.

He's happy if Jeongguk's happy. Always.
Taehyung rides with Jeongguk to school one afternoon when Jeongguk goes in late after a doctor's appointment. He holds his little hand in the back of the car, petting it gently.

"You were so brave, Googie!" Taehyung tells him while Jeongguk pouts, dinosaur bandaid on his arm.
"Hurts, TehTeh..." Jeongguk says quietly, eyelashes still wet from when he got the injection. "Arm's sore."

Taehyung bends his head to press a kiss over the bandaid, holds his lips there until the skin gets cooler and his own arm throbs. "There," he says. "How's that?"
Jeongguk blinks in surprise, looking down at his arm. "It's... gone?" He looks up at Taehyung with glossy eyes. "You took it away?"

It's not something Taehyung's really allowed to do, there's rules against it, but he'd rather be told off than see Jeongguk hurting another second.
Taehyung grins and looks ahead as they arrive at school, Jeongguk still staring up at him.

It's recess, so Jeongguk's friends are all waiting for him in the playground when they arrive.

"Bye, Googie!" Taehyung calls after him, standing by the car as the boss takes him inside.
Jeongguk's still staring back at him and Taehyung keeps waving until he's out of sight.

"TaeTae!" a voice squeaks from the playground.

Taehyung looks over to see Jimin with his chubby face squished up against the chain link fence. "Jiminie!" he beams, heading over.
Jimin manage to poke his hand out of one of the holes as Taehyung crouches down in front of him. He grabs Taehyung's finger. "Where have you been?" he demands, pouting.

Taehyung swallows, throat tight. He giggles around a grin, shoulders bunching up. "Just at home."
"Googie thought it'd be boring for me, so we decided I wouldn't come anymore," he nods.

Jimin frowns, hand tightening on his. "Someone's pants are on fire."

Taehyung checks himself with a sigh. "Again?"

"No, TaeTae! It means you're lying," Jimin tells him, tugging his hand.
Taehyung stares before grinning again. "You're so silly."

Jimin doesn't smile back. "Come play with me, TaeTae. We can go see the hyungs!"

"You want me to stay?" Taehyung asks, surprised. "Your friends might not like me."

"Then they're not my friends," Jimin huffs. "Come on."
Taehyung appears on the other side of the fence and Jimin immediately takes his hand. "Are you sure?" he asks anxiously, looking over to where Jeongguk's friends are.

Jimin follows his gaze and tightens his hand on his as he starts pulling him away, glare deep on his face.
"I'm sure, TaeTae," he says, leading Taehyung to the other side of the playground, but his eyes remain on the group by the jungle gym, staring daggers.

Taehyung grins and waves at all the kids that greet him as they pass, shouting out greetings to him. "Hi, guys!"
Jimin leads him to a spot by the sandbox, a group of kids he already knows waving at him.

"TaeTae! Where have you been?" one of them asks, hugging his leg.

Taehyung is elated, hasn't smiled this much in a while. "Just away. Is it okay if I sit with you?"

"Yes! Yes!"
Across the playground, Jeongguk steps out from the office and joins his friends, though his eyes are on the fence to see if Taehyung's still waiting. He isn't and Jeongguk regrets not saying a proper goodbye.

He rubs at his arm.

"Why is your weird friend back?" someone says.
Jeongguk's head snaps up, looking around. "Where?" he demands.

Someone points over at him and there he is, sitting amongst a group of kids who are burying his feet in the sand and putting little butterfly clips in his hair. His eyes shift over and—oh.

Jimin's glaring at him.
Jeongguk frowns back. Why is Taehyung with Jimin? He starts to head over there, but Jimin take a step forward, shaking his head at him.

His eyes flicker back to Taehyung who's having his hair put into pigtails. He's got his big square smile on that Jeongguk hasn't seen in ages.
Who is Jimin to tell him no when Taehyung is /his/?

"TehTeh," Jeongguk says quietly, knows Taehyung will hear him.

Taehyung's head snaps up, looking over at him instantly, eyes wide.

"Come here."

Taehyung's in front of him in a flash. He looks anxious. "Um."
Jeongguk looks over his shoulder at his friends who are shooting looks Taehyung's way. He hates it. He takes Taehyung's hand and pulls him to the side. "Why are you with Jimin?"

"He asked me to play with him," Taehyung says quietly, small.

Said Jimin is marching his way over.
"Why didn't you come to me?"

Taehyung looks down at his feet, eyes flickering to the kids behind Jeongguk, then back down. "Didn't want to upset anyone."

"TaeTae!" Jimin calls, stopping a few feet away. "C'mon. I have some animal crackers."

"/I'm/ talking to him, hyung."
"Now you are," Jimin mutters.

Jeongguk frowns. "What?"

"TaeTae," Jimin repeats, ignoring Jeongguk. He holds his hand out. "Jiminie look after you."

Jeongguk tugs Taehyung behind him. "He's not yours to look after. He's mine."

"Let him take the freak!" his friend snickers.
Jimin looks over at Jeongguk's friends. "Shut up!" he snaps. "He not a freak."

Taehyung's chin starts to tremble a little, biting down on his bottom lip. " I don't mind going."

"No!" Jimin and Jeongguk says in unison.

Taehyung flinches.

"TehTeh."

"TaeTae."

"Freak! Freak!"
"Shut up!" Jeongguk barks back at his friends, angry. "Or I'll make you!"

"Ooh!" his friends tease.

"TehTeh," Jeongguk tries again, squeezing his fingers.

Taehyung has his eyes squeezed shut, shaking. And when he opens his eyes—

"Ew, what is that!" a boy to the side yells.
Jeongguk feels his heart sink, watching as inky tears bleed down Taehyung's face. "TehTeh..."

"What a freak, what is that?" the voices don't stop now and Taehyung pulls his hands away to wipe at his face quickly.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he repeats, frantic. "I didn't mean to."
"Hey!" someone shouts. "What's going on?"

Seokjin comes marching over, Yoongi in tow.

"What do you think you're doing to Tae?" Yoongi demands, looking at Jeongguk's friends. "How about I make you cry?"

Seokjin takes one look at Taehyung and scowls. "You hurt our friend."
Jeongguk can't stop staring at Taehyung's face as he tries to stop crying. Jimin's tugging on Taehyung's shirt, yanking him down so he can wipe his cheeks for him.

He doesn't know what happens next. But Hoseok and Namjoon are soon there too, telling off Jeongguk's— peers.
They all shrink under the older kids' glares are stern words and even Hoseok, who prefers the peace, may get a little shove in to one kid before Seokjin eases him back. The kids run off, and Jeongguk watches as Jimin starts to tow Taehyung away.

"Teh—"

"Jeongguk," Namjoon says.
"I need to go with TehTeh," Jeongguk says, but Namjoon blocks his path and grabs his shoulder.

"We need to talk."

Jeongguk's still staring after Taehyung, though, watching the hyungs, other kids he doesn't know gather around Taehyung, worried. "I need—"

"—to listen to me."
Jeongguk looks up at Namjoon. "Hyung—"

"TaeTae is hurting."

"Yeah, I know! And I'm trying to go fix it."

Namjoon squeezes his shoulder gently. "Not just today, Gukkie. For a while now."

Jeongguk frowns. "What? No, he's been fine. It was just today."

Namjoon gives him a look.
"What?" Jeongguk shrugs out from under Namjoon's hand. "You don't know him like I do!"

"He came to me a while ago," Namjoon tells him, not appreciating the attitude. He folds his arms over his chest. "He told me himself."

Jeongguk blinks, shocked. "He went to you?"

"He did."
"What did he say?" Jeongguk demands.

"He said your friends didn't like him." Namjoon raises his eyebrows. "And you knew that, didn't you?"

Jeongguk swallows, looking down. He frowns. "Yes." He scuffs his foot on the ground. "That's why I told him not to come here anymore."
Namjoon sighs. "It's okay to have other friends, Gukkie. But TaeTae is your friend too."

Jeongguk stares at his shoes until they start to blur at the edges. "I didn't mean to hurt him..." he sniffs. "He's been sad a long time? On his own?"
Namjoon pats his head softly. "TaeTae didn't want to tell you. He was happy that you had other friends."

"I left him alone," Jeongguk realises, looking back up at Namjoon. "He hates being alone and I left him."

It makes his heart hurt, knowing Taehyung just /let/ him too.
"It happens. Sometimes new things push old things to the side."

Jeongguk wonders if he's done that with not just Taehyung, but the hyungs, too. He never meant to hurt anyone, he was just happy to be included and liked by people he /thought/ were cool.

And he was wrong.
"You're wrong, hyung" Jeongguk says after a moment, wiping a little fist over his eye.

Namjoon blinks, surprised. "About what?"

"You said TehTeh's my friend. He's not my friend."

Namjoon frowns, opening his mouth to protest.

"He's my /best/ friend."
Jeongguk sniffs, pulling himself together and looks over to where the boys from before went "Hey!" he yells, pointing in their direction. "Da fu unf paf to! Mark my words!"

He marches off, leaving Namjoon to quickly follow after him, slightly terrified.

He needs a juice box.
Jeongguk heads over to where Taehyung's being taken care of by a big group of kids, and he's smiling again. It looks a little watery, but he's smiling.

He's not sure he'll forgive himself for letting Taehyung get so sad. He needs to make it right.

"TehTeh?" he calls softly.
Taehyung looks over at him, smile slipping and looking anxious again.

He really doesn't want Taehyung to be anxious around him, he hates it.

Taehyung gets up, smiling down at Jimin when he tries to stop him as if he wasn't half his size. "It's okay."

Jimin glares at Jeongguk.
Jeongguk holds a hand out and Taehyung immediately takes it, letting Jeongguk pull him away from the watchful eyes of everyone else.

As soon as they're away, Taehyung kneeling in front of him, Jeongguk throws his arms around him and squeezes him tight. "Googie sorry TehTeh..."
Taehyung wraps his arms carefully around him, sagging against Jeongguk with relief. They haven't hugged in a while, Taehyung had started to really miss it. "It's okay, it's—"

"Nu, it's not okay," Jeongguk shuts down quickly, pulling back to squish Taehyung's cheeks. "It's not."
"I was a bad friend. And I'm sorry for making you sad." Jeongguk touches under Taehyung's eye, his face dry, but there are dark tear tracks. "I won't leave you alone again."

Taehyung's eyes go wide and his face softens. "Really?" he checks, voice too soft.

"Really. Us foreber."
After Jeongguk kisses Taehyung's cheeks better, they head back to the group where Jeongguk apologises to everyone, especially Jimin, for how he acted.

Jimin forgives him quickly, tackling him in a cuddle. "Don't hurt him, Gukkie," he warns quietly, however. "Or I'll take him."
The bell for the end of recess rings and the kids start heading in.

"Bye bye!" Taehyung calls out, waving them off.

They frown, and Jeongguk takes his hand. "You're coming too, TehTeh."

Taehyung blinks, letting himself be pulled along. "You're sure?"

Jeongguk grins. "I am."
Taehyung beams so bright that he glows and Jeongguk's heart jumps.

He swears to himself to never make Taehyung cry again.

He wants to see him smiling, always.

And he'll try his hardest to keep it there.
i saw some stuff today in my mentions... about kicking 6 year old across the room. just psa, please don't kick any 6 year olds, i repeat please do not kick any 6 year olds.

save it for when they're teenagers

the angst is over for now, take a breath, you did it!!

c u soon 💐
"Hyung! Don't hog the popcorn!" Jimin whines, reaching for the bowl Seokjin's holding. "Share."

Seokjin clutches the bowl protectively. "Hand over the gummy worms and we can talk."

It's their first big sleepover all together and they're already fighting over snacks.
They're at Yoongi's house, under the supervision of his older brother while their parents all go out for the night or just have the evening to themselves.

It's been a while since they've all hung out together since they parted ways a little, but now they're back together!
It was someone's idea to put on a scary movie, so they're all piled up around the TV. Yoongi, Hoseok and Namjoon on the couch, Seokjin on the arm armchair and Taehyung, Jeongguk and Jimin on the floor.

Or, Taehyung on the floor, with Jimin and Jeongguk on his lap.
It's a bit of a squeeze, they're not as small as they used to be, but the pair of them are too reluctant to give up the space for the other.

Hence Taehyung having to balance them both precariously so they don't fall off.

Yoongi is glaring daggers at them too. Pout on his face.
"Don't look at me like that, Yoongi," Taehyung says without even looking at him. "You can switch halfway through the movie."

"I don't think so," Jeongguk grumbles and Taehyung jostles him.

Yoongi huffs, wrapping the blanket tighter around himself, making a show of trembling.
"Play it, play it!" Jimin demands eagerly as Namjoon fiddles with the remote. None of them know what it is, it was the first movie they found when they looked up 'scary stuff to watch'.

Not the smartest plan.

"Tae, your horns are in the way," Hoseok says, patting them softly.
Taehyung immediately slouches down, sliding against the base of the couch and both Jimin and Jeongguk immediately without consciously looking wrap an arm around the back of Taehyung's neck.

They both share a little look, maybe a little competitive but turn back to the screen.
Seokjin turns off the little table lamp and ten minutes into the movie, they're terrified.

There's a girl with long hair and a well and a video tape you're not meant to watch. They're all hiding their eyes.

Minus Taehyung who's just... confused, squinting at the screen.
As the movie progresses, he's not sure what's meant to be scary about it.

Spirits? Pft. Please.

They're all bark and no bite. He has no time for water ghosts. All they do is make a mess that somebody else has to clean up.

He has a cousin who dated a water ghost. Slippery.
When the spirit climbs through the TV, the boys all scream and Taehyung shakes his head.

"Unbelievable. I mean how selfish can you be?" he scoffs, oblivious to everyone close to tears. "Water spirit? More like water /damage/ spirit. That's just-- just disrespectful!"
Taehyung doesn't notice when everyone starts to slip out one by one, making an excuse that they need to go to the bathroom and end up power walking out.

Towards the end of the movie, it's just him, popcorn in hand, eating away in a constant state of disappointment.
The credits roll and a pop up appears beside the movie.

"There's a second one!" he barks out, laughing. He goes to look back at the others. "Do you—"

He freezes when he sees the empty room, just Yoongi's dog laid out on her back on the couch, fast asleep.
Taehyung's upstairs in an instant in Yoongi's bedroom and spots a giant lump under the covers, little sniffles loud in the quiet. He frowns, confused and grabs the end of the blanket, yanking it off.

Immediately, the six of them start to scream.

In turn Taehyung screams.
"Shut /up/, dorks!" comes Yoongi's brother from the next room over and they all fall into silence.

They all stare up at Taehyung.

Taehyung stares down at them.

"Why are we screaming?"

"TaeTae!" they all start sobbing, climbing off the bed and throwing themselves at him.
In the mass of bodies huddled around him, Jeongguk holds his arms up, desperate and Taehyung carefully picks him up, even more confused when he buries his face into his neck. "What's wrong?" he asks softly.

"T-The movie was so scary!" Hoseok sniffs, rubbing his face on Taehyung.
"Scary?" Taehyung repeats, looking at Jeongguk's damp face. "Goo?"

Jeongguk nods against his shoulder, wrapping his arms around Taehyung's neck. "Very."

Taehyung frowns, staring down at all the teary faces. He hates seeing them look so upset, clearly shaken.
"Well, you don't need to be scared," Taehyung tells them all, puffing his chest out, other hand on his hip. "TehTeh would never let some stupid ghost do anything to you."

They all stare up at him in wonder, clutching onto his shirt. "Promise?" Jimin squeaks.

"I promise."
"You'll keep us safe?" Namjoon asks.

Taehyung glows with sincerity. "I'll protect you all with my life."

That seems to aid in soothing them, and he sets Jeongguk down so they can all have a cuddle. He wipes their sticky faces and pulls lollipops from thin air for them.
Once they're all calm, cheeks splotchy but dry, Taehyung speaks up. "We should do something fun."

"Like what?" Seokjin asks, lips going green from his sucker.

They all think.

"Oh! My cousin told me about how she dyed her hair with Kool-Aid once! We could try!" Jimin suggests.
"That's a great idea, Jiminie!" Hoseok praises. "But we all have dark hair. Will it work?" They look look around at each other, pulling at strands of their hair to try and look at it.

Jeongguk tries to pull his hair down over his forehead, going cross-eyed in the process.
Taehyung hums in thought before he shakes his head from side to side wildly, the dark in his hair disappearing and turning white instead. "There!"

They all gasp, eyes wide.

"TehTeh..." Jeongguk reaches out and pets over his white hair, smacking away Jimin's hand. "It white!"
"Can you make it longer?" Yoongi asks curiously and just like that, Taehyung's hair grows longer down to his his neck.

The chaos begins.

They drag Taehyung downstairs and after an argument, they decide to section his hair into six segments to have their own creative freedom.
The kitchen turns into a madhouse, all of them mixing their different bowls of Kool-Aid that Yoongi has - which is really only about five kinds.

Jeongguk is the one is segment Taehyung's hair, not letting trusting anyone else to do it.

Taehyung sits happily, eating popcorn.
They're no hairdressers, their dye is in cups and their tint brushes are their fingers.

Needless to say, the Kool-Aid goes everywhere, all over Taehyung's clothes and in his ears and on his horns.

But he doesn't mind. All of them giggling makes the stickiness worth it.
Taehyung sits there munching away at the snacks that are randomly handed to him every now and then, one eye stuck with cherry Kool-Aid and hair being tugged in all directions.

"Careful!" Jeongguk will snap every now and then if his head is pulled back. "Gentle with TehTeh!"
When it's all done, Taehyung's hair stuck and colourful, they send him off to the bathroom, Jeongguk trying to trail behind, but Namjoon drags him back so they /all/ clean up.

Taehyung goes and rinses his hair and his grin slips when he looks at himself in the mirror.

Uh oh.
His pretty, colourful hair isn't as bright anymore, all the colour dull and washed out.

Taehyung scowls, staring at the lovely creations his tiny friends made, faded and sad looking.

Fists bang at the door. "TaeTae! Hurry up!"

"One second!" he calls back.

He can fix this.
When the door opens, the six of them gathered around waiting, they gasp when Taehyung steps out.

"It looks so cool!" Seokjin yells, all of them immediately fawning over Taehyung's bright, vibrant hair.

"You all did amazing!" he praises, kneeling so they can see their hard work.
They all admire their creations and praise each other and Taehyung can't resist but to pull them all into a hug.

"Thank you," he tells them, chin pillowed between Yoongi and Namjoon's shoulders. "I've never looked better!"

They end up in a puppy pile, giggling and happy.
Taehyung keeps his long, Kool-Aid rainbow hair for a while after that. Maybe it looks silly, he can imagine what they'd say back home, but he doesn't care.

He wears it proudly, pulled back in hairstyles the girls at school like to put him in.

Everyone's happy. He's happy.
And if Jimin asks him after a while why his hair hasn't faded like his cousins did, well...

"You guys must have just done a really good job."
AND THEN TAEHYUNG ATE THEM ALL FOR DINNER THE END.

imagine if i just ended it like "taehyung really shouldn't play with his food." would i be beaten to a pulp.

this'll be ending soon, friends!!! maybe a few more, i don't want it to be insanely long.

until then!!!🕵️‍♀️
"Get /up/, Tae," Jeongguk orders from where he's sat on Taehyung's chest. "We need to practice! Tryouts are tomorrow."

Taehyung whines, grabbing his pillow to cover his face. "No more!"

Jeongguk bounces his weight stubbornly and Taehyung wheezes. "Ah!" he demands, gruff.
Taehyung throws the pillow away, staring up at Jeongguk, defiant. But as soon as he meets his eyes, still just as round as they had been over a decade ago, he caves easily. "Okay. Up you get, then."

Jeongguk huffs. "Make me."

Taehyung blinks. "Are you kidding."

"Nope."
Jeongguk's always been petulant, but as soon as he hit the teenage years... let's just say everything before was a lot more manageable.

"Goo," he sighs. "I thought you wanted to practice."

"I do," Jeongguk nods. "But see if you can throw me off first. Bet you can't."
Taehyung fakes a sob.

"Throw me off!" Jeongguk squeaks, voice breaking. That's been happening a lot lately, the pitch in his voice changing and Taehyung got launched across the room the first time he laughed.

He's learnt his lesson and keeps quiet.

Still cute, though.
Taehyung could throw Jeongguk to Japan without breaking a sweat if he wanted. But the sheer idea of that makes him want to cry, makes him sad.

"Weakling! Can't, can you?" Jeongguk eggs on, grinning down at him. "You're too weak, Tae."

But maybe Jeongguk would like Japan.
Taehyung pretends to push at Jeongguk, mimics the strain, even makes himself go red in the face, just to see Jeongguk grin and giggle. "I can't," he sighs in defeat, pouting.

Jeongguk pets at Taehyung's hair. "It's okay, TehTeh. I'll always protect you," he promises. "Forever."
Taehyung goes slack and his chest warms. Sometimes Jeongguk slips back into being the Googie he first met. When it was just them.

Just Googie and TehTeh.

It's rarer these days, when Jeongguk looks at him like he's still his whole world.

He knows he's not. And that's okay.
It's good he's not, Taehyung's realised. It wouldn't be good for a kid to be purely focused on a /demon/. It's good he's got his friends, his activities, his interests.

Taehyung just has to remind himself of that sometimes.

He just forgets sometimes, that's all.
"Let's go!" Jeongguk says as he climbs off, already dressed and ready, a spring in his step.

Taehyung gets up with a bit more difficulty, ankles and knees sore, wincing to himself.

Once Jeongguk's inhaled his breakfast, they're out in the backyard, Jeongguk warming up, eager.
Jeongguk's toys are long gone, the garden mostly bare aside from the boss's flowers and the soccer goal post near the back fence that Taehyung's posted in front of currently.

They have to put him in oven mitts since he's burst too many of the balls with his claws.

"Ready?"
Taehyung is not the best at sports. He could use his abilities, but it's an unfair advantage so he goes at a human pace.

He's gotten better, he thinks, but Jeongguk still obliterates him, gets more goals than Taehyung saves.

"Try harder, Tae, c'mon!" Jeongguk complains.
Taehyung's trying as hard as he can, but he nods, pushes himself more, but it's a hard balance of not /cheating/ as Jeongguk calls it.

Next time he misses a goal, Jeongguk groans. The limp he had yesterday is long gone as he marches over to Taehyung, snatching the ball away.
"I'm never going to make the team!" Jeongguk yells, a tantrum on its way. "Why can't you just play better!"

Taehyung watches Jeongguk kick the ball over the fence and just like every time he does it, Taehyung goes to retrieve it and returns before Jeongguk's even stormed inside.
By lunch, Jeongguk's back to normal and they practice again and again for tomorrow.

It's no surprise to Taehyung that Jeongguk makes the team. He doubts himself so much, but he's beyond talented and maybe he's biased, but Taehyung thinks he was easily the best one there.
Jeongguk goes out to celebrates with his friends while Taehyung stays at home writing in his journal about how proud he is. He does a drawing of Jeongguk kicking the ball into the goal, confetti streaming down the page.

He gets Jeongguk the video game he wanted instead.
Taehyung doesn't miss a game. Not only is Jeongguk on the team, but Jimin is, too! He gets to watch his favourite people play, constantly cheering them on.

Jimin comes and picks Jeongguk up from school most days and Taehyung always grins at his arrival.

"Hi, Jiminie!"
"Tae says hi," Jeongguk tells Jimin as he gets his shoes on.

Jimin smiles, eyeing the space beside Jeongguk. "Hi, TaeTae. How're you?"

"I'm good! Did you finish your book report?"

"He didn't," Jeongguk snorts, stepping out the door. "Gotta go, we're late."

"Bye, TaeTae!"
Taehyung waves at their backs as they leave, grin wide. He's so happy they're still friends, and now that Jeongguk's on the team, he and Jimin can hang out more.

His throat ticks as he swallows a thick lump and waves until the pair of them disappear.

He's so happy. He is.
The day Jeongguk sprains his ankle, Taehyung's gut drops like a stone. It happens during a game, he gets tackled harshly and lands on his leg awkwardly.

The yell he lets out makes Taehyung's blood chill and he has to fight instincts to not destroy a /child/.

But Googie's hurt.
He's helped to the locker rooms and Taehyung wants nothing more than to carry him himself, but he settles for trailing close behind, Jeongguk's teary eyes on him the whole time.

"It's okay, Googie," Taehyung promises him, eyes sharp as he watches the humans handle his boy.
There's not much they can do for him, they get some ice on his ankle and keep it propped up on the bench.

Jeongguk cries once they're alone, clutching at Taehyung's shirt. "Please..." he pleads softly, tears soaking his shoulder and Taehyung nods.

He'll take the pain away.
It's become second nature now. Every time Jeongguk sustains any injury, Taehyung is there to take it away. He's started to ache with it, little papercuts on his fingers and bruised knees that take longer and longer to heal the more he does it.

But how can he not take it?
Taehyung moves to gently take Jeongguk's ankle in his hands, claws wrapping around it softly and Jeongguk's whimpers at the pain.

He bows his head and presses a kiss to the hot skin, already starting to bruise and feels it run through his body, the slow build-up of pain.
The heat settles in Taehyung's own ankle and he swallows back a noise that builds in his throat, keeping his lips in place

Jeongguk sighs in relief, still sniffling and rotates his ankle carefully. "Thank you, TehTeh."

Taehyung smiles, suddenly tired. "Anytime."
Jeongguk gets to his feet while Taehyung remains on the floor, watching him test his weight on his ankle. "I can play."

Taehyung is relieved. "Of course you can. You're strong."

Jeongguk wipes his face with a grin. "Coming?"

"I'll just clean this up," he assures. "You go."
Jeongguk jogs out and Taehyung slumps against the bench, stretching his leg out in front of him. Despite the pain in his ankle, it's his arm that he rubs, the little prick of pain in his bicep from all those years ago, the first time he broke the rules and took Jeongguk's pain.
It takes him a few minutes, but Taehyung manages to hobble back out to the field, leaning against the bleachers as he watches Jeongguk play.

When their team win, Taehyung's face lights up watching Jeongguk run around, smile the biggest he's seen it in a long time, beyond happy.
Taehyung stands there until the field is empty. Jeongguk left with the team which isn't a surprise to Taehyung anymore

He thinks he stands there for hours, wobbling out to the middle of the pitch and sits down in the centre.

Alone.

"You're breaking, Taehyung," a voice says.
It's been so long since he's been called that it almost doesn't sound right to him anymore.

He's Tae. TehTeh.

"I'm fine," he says, eyes up on the sky.

"You've been here for so long now. Why don't you just come home? Break the bond."

"No."

"But, sire—"

"I said no, Bogum."
"You're a stubborn old fool, you know," Bogum snaps. "You owe this child /nothing/."

Taehyung blinks up at the sky. Things were once so much easier. "I owe him everything. I'll leave when he doesn't need me anymore."

"He already doesn't."

Taehyung winces, pained.

He knows.
"/We/ need you," Bogum says more softly. "Your people."

Taehyung swallows. "I'm sure father has it under control. I bet he was happy to see the back of me."

Bogum moves to stand in front of him. "You know that's not true, sire."

"Jeongguk loves me."

Bogum blinks. "Loves?"
Taehyung looks down at his feet. "I love him, too."

Bogum scoffs. "Don't be absurd! We're not—"

"We're not capable of love?" Taehyung finishes, eyes sharp as they lift to Bogum. "Well, maybe I'm special, then! Because I do. I'd do anything for him."

"Like hurt yourself?"
"I'm not hurting myself," Taehyung argues, angry.

"You're taking pain that isn't yours. You can't absorb it, Taehyung. No matter how much you try. It's against the rules for a reason," Bogum talks to him like a child.

As if Taehyung weren't his prince.
"I'm aware," Taehyung growls, but immediately softens, remembering the pain on Jeongguk's face just hours ago. "I just can't bear to see him suffering... It hurts worse than taking the actual pain."

"He's human."

"I know he's human!" Taehyung snaps again, the world trembling.
"I'm not my father, I don't hate humans," Taehyung spits. His brothers are more like his father than he is, they're more suited for leadership than him.

"What if he never releases the bond?" Bogum demands. "You'll just fade into the background of his life!?"

Taehyung's silent.
"He's happy," Taehyung says quietly after a moment.

"Are you?" Bogum shoots back.

"Compared to what I was before I left, yes. I'm happy," Taehyung says. "We're best friends."

"Taehyung... He's growing out of you. You know that."

Taehyung sniffs. "I'm aware."

"And so?"
"And so growing /isn't/ grown. I have time." Taehyung forces himself up to stand. Being with Bogum makes him feel the need to hold his head up again, hide vulnerability. Show no weakness. "When he's grown out of me, I will return home."

"Sire..."

"That's final. Leave me now."
Bogum almost looks sad as he turns away and vanishes, leaving Taehyung to stand alone on the pitch.

His shoulders droop and his ankle burns.

Taehyung knows he has to prepare for anything. Bogum's right, knows.

But Taehyung will keep his promise to Jeongguk.

'Forever.'
bet you wish i'd stayed gone huh 😟

just a reminder that this does have a happy ending, this is just part of life's struggles!!! HAVE FAITH IN ME

that being said, see you in three months 😎
Time is a funny thing, Taehyung thinks.

Billions of years old, but time on earth seems to go by so much slower. It never used to; it used to fly by, but now it feels like each day is a century long.

Minutes feel like days, seconds feel like hours.
Every day he watches Jeongguk get older, grow more into an adult and leave behind his childhood, as kids do.

Taehyung just didn't expect to be one of the things getting left behind.

High school suits Jeongguk. He excels in it. Good grades, lots of friends, work driven.
He's top of his class, one of the best players on the soccer team and already has a plan set out for his future. He manages to keep a social life on top of it.

Jeongguk gets a girlfriend. Then a boyfriend. Then a job.

He's never home anymore, only ever to sleep and eat.
Taehyung would follow him around for a while. But even he realised how pathetic that was getting, just a shadow in Jeongguk's day, lingering behind.

He doesn't blame Jeongguk. He really doesn't. People grow and evolve, and Taehyung /can't/.

He's old but he's frozen.
"Morning, Tae," Jeongguk will say when he wakes up, every morning without fail. He'll smile Taehyung's way and Taehyung will grin back, happy.

"Good morning, Googie," he'll return. "Any good dreams?"

"Nah," Jeongguk will say before grabbing his phone, ending the conversation.
Then Taehyung will stay at home and read through the boss's books, read old passages about himself, his family, his home.

Taehyung often goes back to the book that started it all, flip to his page and stare at the red crayon scribbled over his sigil and laughs quietly, so fond.
"What will they call you in the history books?" Taehyung had asked, staring up at this tiny human, eyes wide with wonder.

And the tiny human had said, "Googie."

Black drops hit the page, soaking into the old paper, blurring the crayon.
One day Taehyung is cleaning up, tidying away his pencils and papers, having just finished a new entry in his journal - he's on his 8th one now!

He decides to put Jeongguk's clean laundry away to be helpful, knows he's studying hard for a test coming up over at the library.
He's seen Jeongguk and the boss do it enough. He folds it a little crookedly and the things he needs to hang up aren't perfect but it's something, he hopes.

Taehyung accidentally knocks down a whole pile of shirts at the back and kneels down to pick them up, spotting something.
It's a big box and Taehyung pulls the shirts off it to see what's inside. He immediately pauses, seeing his plushie poking out of the top.

Pulling the box closer, Taehyung looks through and finds his things. His drawings, his gifts, his old journals.
Alongside that box are others, filled with Jeongguk's old toys, old videogames, school books from middle school, clothes that are too small for him now.

Boxes of old memories.
Taehyung sits on the floor among all the boxes and realises that's where he belongs now, amongst old toys and dust and the big teddy in the corner Jeongguk once body slammed.

Everything Jeongguk has grown out of.
Maybe it fully hits Taehyung then, because he's suddenly panicked, feels like his head is buzzing. His skin glows, eyes wet but not leaking and he can't breathe.

"No. I'm not being forgotten. No, no!"

Taehyung paces around Jeongguk's room, needing him to come home now.
One hour passes. Then two. Then four. He should be home from the library now.

By midnight, Taehyung is shaking and his whole body aches, every injury he's ever taken seemingly there, but it doesn't match the pain in his chest.

1AM comes and Taehyung goes to find Jeongguk.
Taehyung finds him easily, and he's at some type of party. There's loud music and people drinking alcohol and the place reeks of sin, something he's not seen in a long time.

He spots Jeongguk standing around a firepit, arm slung around his current girlfriend, laughing away.
Taehyung appears beside Jeongguk suddenly, eyes wide. "Googie."

Jeongguk is talking to his friends and briefly spares Taehyung a nod without pausing conversation.

"G-Googie. Can we talk for a minute? Please?" Taehyung pleads.

Jeongguk subtly scowls at him, shaking his head.
"Just a minute..."

Jeongguk's friends laugh at whatever he says and Jeongguk shoots Taehyung another look. "Go home," he mouths.

Taehyung is practically vibrating, skin seemingly turning grey, features getting sharper. "Jeongguk!" he snaps and the fire roars violently.
Jeongguk's head snaps to Taehyung. He's never called him that before, only Googie, or Goo.

Taehyung seems to be rippling, black tendrils of smoke rolling off him. "I just. Want. A /minute/," he hisses and beer bottles start bursting in people's hands, thunder clapping above.
Jeongguk blinks in shock before he's frowning, angry. His friends are wiping their hands on their shirts, speculating something to do with air pressure from a storm. He excuses himself and nods for Taehyung to follow him.

He takes him down the side of the house, no one around.
"What the hell is wrong with you, Tae? You could have seriously hurt someone." Jeongguk demands, leaning out to check no one has followed them before he's glaring at Taehyung again. "Why did you come here?"

"You didn't come home! What else was I meant to do? Wait around again?"
Jeongguk scoffs, arms folded. "What do you want."

Taehyung softens a little, stepping closer. "Can we just go home? I don't like it here."

Jeongguk leans back to check again and Taehyung bristles once more.

"You're not even paying attention to me!"
"I'm busy, Tae!" Jeongguk snaps back, staring at him. "I don't really want to talk to you when you look like /that/."

"I thought you liked me for who I am, huh?" Taehyung's skin looks like marble, cold and shiny. Hard. No warmth. "This is me! Don't you love me like this?"
"Just tell me what you want!" Jeongguk grits out, still more focused on keeping his voice down. "Get this over with."

Taehyung's eyes gleam like hellfire for half a second. "I told you. Let's go home. Just be with /me/! For one night!"

"And do what?" Jeongguk snaps. "Colour?"
Taehyung laughs humourlessly and it's not his normal laugh, it's deep and rumbles like thunder. "Don't be cruel to me."

"I'm not coming home!"

Taehyung's whole body seems to grow, ears sharp and the black of his eyes spreading over his temples and cheeks in thin veins. "Yes!"
Jeongguk runs his hands through his hair, frustrated. "Tae—"

"Why can't you just spend time with me?!"

"Because I don't need you with me anymore!" Jeongguk yells, facing Taehyung again. "I've grown up, I can do things on my own now! I'm not a kid!"

Taehyung goes dead still.
Taehyung's features start to soften again, the fight leaving him so fast it makes him wobble on his feet. "What?"

The bond fractures.

"Just leave, okay?" Jeongguk breathes, looking over his shoulder when his name is called. "I can't do this."

Crumbles.

"But."

"Go."

Breaks.
When Jeongguk looks back, Taehyung is gone, space where he was standing empty. He sighs and takes a minute, knows they'll have to talk about this when he gets home.

After a moment he turns and leaves, returning to his friends.

Taehyung remains, watching him go.

Invisible.
Taehyung goes back hom— goes back to Jeongguk's. He wants to say goodbye to the place, the place he spent the best part of his existence.

There's no weight in his chest anymore, nothing tethering him to earth.

He picks up the demonology book one last time before he goes.
Taehyung stands in the backyard, staring around and then up to the house before his eyes land on the kitchen window, the boss doing dishes.

He smiles. "Bye, dubu. Take care of him," he whispers. "Take care of our boy."

Thunder rolls through the clouds and Taehyung is gone.
Despite his best efforts, Jeongguk's head isn't in the party anymore. All he can focus on is Taehyung's face, having never seen it so... empty before.

He goes home after another hour, his mom in bed and when he finds his room empty but tidy, he droops.

"Tae," he sighs.
No answer.

"Listen, I know you're mad at me," Jeongguk says into the air. "I'm sorry. Please come out and talk to me?"

No answer.

Jeongguk rubs a hand over his face and nods. He deserves that.

Once he's gone and cleaned up, got ready for bed, Taehyung still isn't back.
Jeongguk gets into bed and lays awake for a while, staring over at the corner where Taehyung usually sits and writes or draws. Eventually, he rolls onto his side and forces himself to go to sleep.

In the morning, Jeongguk stretches out as he wakes. "Morning, Tae," he croaks.
No answer.

"Nah," he replies on instinct, reaching for his phone before pausing.

Jeongguk sits up, looking around. Everything feels so cold and he feels so... wrong. Sick and sore and his head throbs.

"Tae?" he calls out. He wraps the covers around himself, shaking. "Tae."
Jeongguk rubs at his forehead and looks at his phone when it vibrates on his table. He grabs it and opens it to see a string of texts from the group chat he has with the hyungs.

'Isn't this Tae's drawing?' Namjoon texts, a photo attached of a crayon drawing of Namjoon and Tae.
Jeongguk recognises the drawing, one Taehyung did years and years ago, a little Namjoon with his glasses and Taehyung holding his hand.

'Left me a book too.'

'I got a drawing too.' Yoongi says. 'And a blanket lol. It's really warm. Tell Tae thanks for me.'
Jeongguk can't help but smile, watching them all talk about Taehyung, show the old pictures he left them. Personal gifts to match their personalities.

'He gave me the friendship bracelet I made him back tho.' Jimin texts.

'Yeah, he gave me my yellow hat back.' Hoseok adds.
Jeongguk frowns, confused before something cold washes through him, the back of his skull tingling. He jumps out of bed and almost stumbles at the pain in his ankle, making him stumble.

"Tae!" he yells, pushing through the pain and yanks his door open, panicking. "Tae!"
"Honey?" his mom calls from downstairs. "Everything alright?"

"Tae!" Jeongguk keeps yelling, searching through every room. "Tae, come out!"

When he gets downstairs, his mom rushes to his side. "Jeongguk, you look terrible! Sit down right now."

"No. No, no, no. I-I can't!"
His mom forces him down into a chair, and he feels so tired, so weak as he keeps yelling and yelling. "Ah!" he tries, eyes welling up. He swallows thickly. "T-Tae. /Ah!/"

"Honey..."

"Ah! H-He has to come when I say ah, he has to!" Jeongguk cries, slapping the table. "Ah, Tae!"
Jeongguk thinks he blacks out, because next time he comes to, he's laying on the couch, ice pack on his head and swaddled in blankets.

It takes him a moment before it all comes crashing back and he's up on his feet again, can hear his mom on the phone as he heads upstairs.
Jeongguk searches, starts pulling his room apart, not entirely sure what he's searching for. He finds crayons and stickers Taehyung stuck about, but there's no trace, no note.

He goes into his closet, finds Taehyung's things in the box and seeing them like that makes him stop.
He steps over to the box, kneeling down beside it and finds Taehyung's... things in there. His gifts, his drawings. Everything he made for Jeongguk, all shoved in a box.

Jeongguk can hardly breathe. "What did I do."

The demonology book sits at the top and he flips through it.
His fingers become frantic, looking for the page. Taehyung's page.

"C'mon, c'mon, c'mon," he whispers.

He stops when a cleaner page sits between the book, in place of a torn-out page.

Taehyung's writing stares up at him, heart shaking.

'Jeongguk,' it starts.
'I guess it's time for me to go!!

I must admit, I really don't want to. I don't want to leave. I'

Black inky drops smear the crossed-out words.

'But I understand. You're right. You're all grown up now!!! :D You don't' - another word blurred out - 'need me anymore.'
"No, Tae, please, please," Jeongguk begs softly, has to pause to try and breathe.

'I'm so proud of you! Don't ever think that I'm not. I'll be cheering you on always, your biggest fan!! You can do anything you want, I know you can.

You're the best friend I ever had!!!'
I'm sorry for upsetting you... I just really' - word scrubbed out - 'missed you. I didn't mean to be a bother. I hope your friends are ok and I didn't hurt them.'

A whole sentence is scribbled out, inky stains surrounding it.

'I better go now!!'

"No... Don't go..."
'Thank you for everything. I'm sorry that my everything wasn't enough.'

Jeongguk sobs, shaking his head.

'I'll be telling stories about the great Googie to everyone I know!!! My hero. :)

Yours forever.

Taehyung.'

"Taehyung," Jeongguk breathes, touching the green name.
Jeongguk flips the page and feels another sob rip out of his throat at the picture of a stick figure that's definitely Taehyung, holding up a big heart with writing in the middle.

GOO 4 EVER

"Goo and Teh forever," Jeongguk corrects into the silence of his closet.
"Goo and Teh... Forever."
i have to stop here for the night or i'm gonna give myself a hernia from all this straining from the tension

we'll be back... IN 9 MONTHS. i shouldn't make that joke, people thought it was real last time

this is what you wanted, you have no one to blame but yourself and me 🤝
A whole year goes by. Then two.

Jeongguk tries to move on, but he's sure a piece of him is broken. Things just aren't as enjoyable as they once were, everything seems a little duller.

There's a Taehyung sized hole in his chest that nothing can fill, no matter what he tries.
His life doesn't stop. He still gets up, goes to school, talks to his friends, plays soccer.

But it's not the same. Jeongguk doesn't think he knows what comfort feels like anymore.

It's been two years, three months and fourteen days since he last saw his best friend.
"Good morning, Taehyung," Jeongguk says every morning without fail, opening his eyes to look at the red plushie in his arms. It hasn't left his side since Taehyung left, remembering how he once said that a piece of him was inside it.

That he could talk to it. So Jeongguk does.
It takes him almost two years to get the courage for him to look through Taehyung's journals. Every time he's tried, he gets reduced to tears and ends back in bed, sobbing into his plushie.

But today wakes up with a purpose. He needs to be closer to Taehyung and this is how.
Just flipping through, Jeongguk can see that towards the end, the journal entries got longer, closer together. Like Taehyung had more time to write and the pain of that makes Jeongguk hate himself a little bit more.

He starts from the beginning of Taehyung's story.
The first journal is green, has a cartoon sunflower on the front with a big smile. It reminds him of Taehyung.

'TEH TEH'S JOURNAL!!!' is scrawled on the first page in usual green crayon and Jeongguk cracks a smile. He thinks it's the same crayon Jeongguk gave him when they met.
He flips to the first entry.

'Hello!! :D :D :D

This! Is! Exciting!!!

Ok see you tomorrow!! :D :D :D'

Jeongguk bursts out laughing. It's the first he's genuinely laughed in a while, and of course it's because of Taehyung. He's not even there, but he's still making him laugh.
The next entry is longer.

'Hi!!!

The human world is weird. It's very cold and kinda stinky. But!! I like my human. He is very tiny and chubby and squishy! His name is Jeon Jeongguk but I call him Googie ^^'

Underneath is an animated drawing of Jeongguk, tiny and flexing.
Jeongguk watches the drawing of him bounce up and down, eyes big and teeth like a rabbit's.

'He likes me, I think. Likes me for who I am.... It's nice to be liked. He doesn't want anything either I don't think. I could break the deal, but I won't.

I think I'll stick around!!!'
Jeongguk reads every entry, sees a little chunk of Taehyung's world through his words.

Some entries are full of scribbles, scratches of messy, unrecognisable lines. Then underneath there will be a:

'Couldn't have said it better myself, Googie!!! :D'

Jeongguk sniffles.
He opens an entry and something falls out from between the pages, landing between his legs. Picking it up, Jeongguk eyes the necklace with a frown, unsure.

He drops his eyes down to the entry open, frantically reading. As he does, he feels his heart sink for the 100th time.
Jeongguk stares at the necklace again, at the crafted heart and he remembers. The ruby from Taehyung's home. On the page next to it is a folded, creased drawing, one Taehyung gave to him with the necklace. He made it for Jeongguk and Jeongguk hadn't been interested in it.
Taehyung had said how special it was to him and he gave it away to Jeongguk without batting an eyelash about it.

Jeongguk had given him a shitty fucking cupcake and—

He chokes on a sob.

Taehyung had acted like it was the best thing he'd ever been given in his entire life.
He squeezes the stone between his hand and it's still warm. He flips the page and there tucked neatly inside is the cupcake wrapper, folded in half.

'Googie made me a cupcake'

That's all it says, but it's full of tiny black drops bled into the paper.

Like little teardrops.
As he moves on from one journal to the next, Jeongguk sees the rapid decline of them spending time together. It starts slowly, Jeongguk making less and less appearances as time goes on.

Taehyung sounds so sad.

'Does Googie not want me anymore?'
Then there's a peak. One page is sad and the next practically screams happiness. It's full of bouncing hearts and bursting stars and spinning swirls.

It's a retelling of the day Jeongguk realised the kids he hung out with weren't his friends. It's the day he saw Taehyung sad.
Taehyung's so happy, his writing frantic. But something in particular sticks out to him.

'Googie got a shot today ;-; he was so sad and I know I shouldn't have, but I took the ache away'

Jeongguk remembers. He remembers Taehyung kissing his arm and the pain had... vanished.
'We're not meant to, but darn the rules!!!! (◣_◢) Googie should never be hurt!!!!

But now my arm is itchy!!!'

Jeongguk swallows, feels the blood drain out of his face. "No..." he shakes his head. Frowning, he quickly flips through the pages. "No. No, no. That's not... No."
Another entry two weeks later.

'Googie fell and scraped his knees!!! He was crying so much that it made me cry too!!! But I kissed them better and now I'm having a lil cry in the bathroom

Scraped knees are the worst!!'

"No." Jeonggguk keeps shaking his head, keeps searching.
A month later.

'Papercuts sting!!!'

Two months later.

'I can feel this headache in my eyes. WHY???'

Two weeks after that.

'There's nothing FUNNY about hitting your funny bone apparently!!!!!'

Jeongguk keeps searching. Taehyung took colds, a nasty flu, an ear infection...
Jeongguk feels sick. He stops reading memories and just searches the journals for injuries.

They get worse as Jeongguk gets older. When he grew distant again, Taehyung still took away the pain he felt. He always thought he was just removing it, but he...

...was absorbing it?
His stomach turns and he feels nauseous.

Jeongguk's hands shake as he drops the journal, thinking of all the times he went to Taehyung, asking him to help him and all this time Taehyung wasn't getting rid of the pain, but moving it onto himself and suffering silently.
Jeongguk thinks back to his worst injury and scrambles to find it. He remembers the date, it was his big soccer match where everyone was certain he'd torn a ligament in his ankle.

He finds and it feels his body go cold at the entry.

'He doesn't need me now.

I'm so lonely.'
The entries after that are long and closer together. They're sad, there are no drawings.

'Googie's out with his friends again today. So I think I'll go walk around the garden again, go and talk to the flowers. I read flowers need a lot of love to grow, so I'll give them mine.'
Flipping back and forth, Jeongguk reads more.

'Jinnie can't see me anymore... he's gotten too old.'

'Ah... I'll miss cuddling Yoongi.'

'Lost Hobi today.'

The day before Namjoon's birthday. 'I can't lose Joonie. Please please please'

The next day. 'He can't see me now.'
Jeongguk has to stop, can hardly breathe. He remembers Taehyung telling him when the others one by one stopped being able to see him, but Jeongguk had been too young, hadn't thought much about it, strangely, because they were still /there/. Jeongguk could see all of them.
He didn't fully realise until now how hard that must have been. Jeongguk played messenger for Taehyung, and he thinks of all the times he would answer Taehyung's questions for the others, wouldn't translate for him.

He'd isolated Taehyung even more without knowing.
Jeongguk looks for Jimin's 13th birthday with dread.

'I lost my Jiminie today. Think this might be the hardest one. He always kept me safe and looked after me. Always held my hand. I went and saw him last night and he cried. I didn't though, I didn't want to make him sadder.'
'I'm gonna miss him so much. But he gave me a bracelet and I won't ever take it off.

I miss them all so much. They were the only friends I've ever had. But they've still got each other!! That makes me happy.

And I'll always have my Googie.

:)'
Jeongguk groans, feels so ill. He rubs shaking hands over his face and through his hair, staring down at the pages. He's skipped so much, but right now he can't go through it all, not with all this pain and sadness Taehyung went through.

He does, however, grab the last journal.
The last journal is a plain one, black and basic. Jeongguk notices as time went on, Taehyung's journals started looking blander.

There's no drawings, it's all very plain, not like Taehyung at all.

Flipping to the last page, the worn-down, tiny green crayon rolls out.
There's a page torn out, one that goes with the note Taehyung left in the demonology book. Next to the last diary entry written in plain black pen is a small one in green crayon. He doesn't let himself look at it yet and instead looks at the frantic looking one before it.
'no no no no no no

my things are in a box why are they in a box'

Jeongguk's heart shatters at the sheer panic in the messy entry.

'what did i do i don't understand no no no no'.

Big passages are scribbled out, there's black drops everywhere, holes in the page.

'he hates me'
Those three words destroy Jeongguk. It feels like someone punches a hole through his chest.

Taehyung thought he hated him?

/He/ made Taehyung think he hated him?

'when will he come home i need him here i need him i love him googie and tehteh

ill go find him itll be ok'
It's the night Taehyung came to him at the party and it's the crushing revelation he's been wondering about. Taehyung had been frantic that night, wanted him to come home and it was because he found his things in that fucking box.

Jeongguk had unknowingly confirmed his fears.
"Fuck!" Jeongguk snaps, kicking the closet wall across from him again and again. "Stupid fucking—"

Clothes fall down on top of him from the force and he throws them off but pauses when a familiar stripped shirt lands in his lap.

His chokes, touching it gently. "I'm sorry..."
Holding the shirt up to his face, Jeongguk buries his nose into the soft fabric. Taehyung always used to smell nice, like candy and sunlight. He can still smell it now, though it's faded, a little dusty.

He looks back at the journal, at the last page with any writing on.
'Adventures of Googie and his Demon, Taehyung.'
i could absolutely end au this here 😈

...but i promised a happy ending, so i will come thru with that. i think i've drawn the angst on enough......

.....OR HAVE I? FIND OUT IN TWO YEARS.

GOODBYE EVERYBODY
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