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#taekookau where Jungkook’s been in love with Taehyung since they were children, but Taehyung’s only ever seen him as a kid. So Jungkook desperately tries to change himself - works out, gets tattoos, gives up video games - to try to show Taehyung he can be the man he deserves.

→ commissioned by @/usagiizana → complete, 2.2k → angst w a happy ending → I hope you enjoy it 🙇‍♀️

Jungkook is in love with Taehyung. Of this, he knows. In fact, it’s the only fact that’s remained constant in his life, the only thing he’s ever been so sure of: Jeon Jungkook loves Kim Taehyung.

He’d known this when they were five and seven, and Taehyung had promptly taken that kid with the missing front tooth on the playground under his wing. He’d known this in middle school, heartbroken and sobbing as Taehyung’s family moved neighborhoods.

He’d known this in high school, when Taehyung - who’d kept his farfetched promise to stay in touch /true/ - had shown up at his doorstep on his sixteenth birthday with presents and a boxy smile, having driven hours from two towns over.

He’d known this in college, and even after. He’d known this when they’re 23 and 25, and he’s an illustrator and Taehyung’s just become the youngest curator at a posh art gallery in the heart of Seoul. But here’s the thing. Taehyung is not in love with Jungkook.

For all of Jungkook’s pining (“Pathetic pining,” Seokjin always sighs, not unkindly, shaking his head; reminding him to get out there and experience real love, “Love with someone who doesn’t make you make heart eyes by yourself, Jungkook-ah”), Taehyung’s never noticed him.

Jungkook had thought, then, that perhaps- Perhaps Taehyung never considered him a potential romantic partner, because he’d only ever see that kid with a bright red nose and sniffling in the cold winter, the kid whose snot he’d gently wiped for him with a laugh.

And thus began the Great Makeover (so-dubbed by Jimin, who’d rolled his eyes heavenward and muttered some nonsense about “he already thinks you’re the greatest thing to ever exist, what are you even-”).

He starts with the video games. More specifically, he stops. No more friday nights spent howling with laughter, wrestling with Taehyung over Mario Kart; no more Tuesday afternoons screaming commands to Taehyung over his headset on Overwatch.

“Wait, what?” Taehyung had said, wide smile slowly dimming in favor of shock, when Jungkook answers the door on their customary Friday nights, clearly having dressed to go out. “But- games night?”

Jungkook shrugs, fiddling with the leather corded bracelet Taehyung had gifted him last year. “I just. Am kind of over video games, you know? ‘M not really in that phase of my life anymore. And some of my coworkers are going out for drinks, so-”

Taehyung had blinked. And then, smiled, pulling a few hundred dollar bills from his wallet and tucking it smoothly into Jungkook’s shirt pocket. “Aww, is our little baby going out for drinks? Here, first round is on hyung.” Jungkook swallows, chest heavy.

And then goes the comics (“Ah, that’s alright, I mostly read them to talk to you about them,” Taehyung had waved away, reaffirming Jungkook’s creeping suspicion that, yes, Taehyung must have thought them so childish).

He starts working out. (“Is that really my little Jungkookie?” Taehyung gasps, missing the way Jungkook nearly flinches at the nickname. “Waah, you’re stronger than hyung now?”)

Gets a tattoo. (“A tattoo?” Taehyung gapes. “Doesn’t it hurt? You don’t like needles, Jungkookie, how’d you sit for a tattoo?” Jungkook ignores the way his heart twists.)

“It’s no use,” Jungkook mourns, prodding pitifully at his tattoo. Don’t get him wrong, he loves it, it gives him joy every time he sees it, but. But he’d hoped it’d spur /Taehyung/ to look at him differently, too.

(He may or may not have daydreamt that Taehyung would see the new him - buff and with the piercings and the tattoos - and swoon right into his arms.)

“Jungkook,” Jin sighs. He’s been sighing a lot lately. “You can’t just randomly do a crazy makeover without saying a single word to Taehyung, and expect everything to change. You’ve never even confessed to him!”

Jungkook bites his lip. “But what if- what if he just…doesn’t want me that way?” his voice is quiet and nearing a tremble. “What will I do then? I can’t lose him, I- I love him.”

Jin is quiet for a while. “Love is meant to be shown and spoken, Jungkook,” Jin says kindly. “Not hidden away like a dirty little secret.”

Jungkook looks up at him with huge, doleful eyes. Jin tugs him in for a bear hug, comforting and soft, and Jungkook sniffles. “Your love is so beautiful, Kook,” Jin hums. “You should express it. It deserves to be spoken.”

So Jungkook decides that he’s going to do it. He’s going to confess.

Taehyung is in charge of leading his first exhibit this month, the one he’s spent tireless nights and long days toiling away on; the one in which he’d hand-selected each piece of art, all for an exhibit he’d named “Euphoria.” Jungkook’s going to do it then.

They’ve all been invited, and Jungkook’s been looking forward to it for weeks. (Taehyung’s passion for art is one of the most beautiful things about him.)

On the day of, Jungkook dresses carefully in a pre-selected ensemble he’d recruited Taehyung, Jimin and Hoseok to help arrange. (Jimin and Hoseok nearly came to blows in their debate over which hairstyle Jungkook should wear, until Seokjin shooed them both away.)

He shows up to the gallery near the end of the night, having deliberately waited until most of the crowd was gone. After all, this was Taehyung’s night to shine; Jungkook doesn’t want to distract him from the networking and compliments he’s sure to be dragged into.

He’s wearing a pressed suit when he never wears suits, carefully polished loafers a mile away from the stompers he prefers, hair carefully styled and tucked behind a ear. A bouquet of lush, vibrant red roses clutched in hand. Arrives, heart beating overtime, nervous as hell.

Most of the guests have already come and gone, and the hour is near midnight. Jungkook sees his group of friends immediately, standing in a small circle near the center of the room. Taehyung is with them, radiant and aglow, cheeks flushed red.

Jungkook walks over nervously, but slows to a near stop when he notices the extra seventh person standing there. It’s a man.

A gorgeous man, tall and standing level with Taehyung, hands resting elegantly in his pockets. A crisp buttoned shirt, cashmere sweater draped casually but artfully details a highly insightful analysis of one of the paintings.

Who is he? Taehyung sees Jungkook, then, and breaks out into a /beam/. “Jungkook-ah! You made it!” he trills. “Come here, I want you to meet my date tonight, Wooshik-” Static buzzes in Jungkook’s ear.

He doesn’t know how long he stands there, feeling like he’s just been submerged underwater. Misses the expressions contorted into a grimace that his friends are wearing, deliberately tries to ignore what must be pitying gazes. Oh, he’d been so, so stupid.

/Something/ must show on his face, though, for Taehyung’s expression falters in confusion. “...Kook-ah?” Jungkook can’t breathe.

The bouquet - oh, how humiliating, he thinks; he’d been so stupid as to even bring /flowers/ - falls to the floor, petals fluttering. Jungkook blinks. Catches Taehyung’s expression, morphed into abject panic. Oh, Jungkook realizes. His cheeks are wet. He’s crying.

He tries for a smile as Taehyung hurries to hand his wine glass off to Wooshik, no doubt to run over to Jungkook; to stupid, childish Jungkook, who will only ever be the little crybaby he has to take care of.

It’s that mortifying thought that snaps him out of it, enough for Jungkook to take a step back. Taehyung freezes from where he’s already crossed halfway over towards him.

Jungkook takes another step back, then another. And then, he’s sprinting, ignoring the panicked shouts of Taehyung’s voice calling his name. //

Jungkook’s barely gotten home - cold, shivering, having stupidly run home instead of taking the bus like he should have - when there’s a pounding at his door. Jungkook feels bone weary and exhausted and- heartbroken.

He doesn’t want to talk to them, however it is among his concerned hyungs. He just wants to burrow into bed and- “Jungkook,” he hears Taehyung’s voice and freezes. “Jungkook, baby, open up.”

Jungkook stifles a sob at ‘baby’. Baby, baby baby. Once, he’d loved that Taehyung called him that. Until it became a curse, a reminder that to Taehyung, he’d only ever be a dumb little kid.

“Jungkook, I know you’re in there-” Jungkook clamps his hand over his mouth. Hears the door rattle, as though someone’s trying it. And then, the sound of a key being inserted into the lock. Fuck. /Fuck/. He’d forgotten Taehyung has a spare key to his place. Fuck-

“Jungkook,” Taehyung bursts through the door, looking nearly as disheveled as Jungkook does. “Bun, what-”

He takes in the sight of Jungkook - his tie hanging limply around his neck, his sweat soaked hair, his eyes pouring with tears - and gasps. The expression on his features is so clear, so distinct, that it can only be- “Who broke your heart, bun?” Jungkook breaks.

Clenches his eyes shut and bites back the whimper that threatens his throat, shoulders heaving with the effort of holding back the wail he wants to let out. Actually whimpers, when Taehyung’s arms come to hold him.

“Jungkook, baby, Kook-ah-” Jungkook sobs. “You did,” he whispers, but Taehyung freezes as though he’d screamed it. Taehyung rears back, as though burned. His expression is wide-eyed and lost and a little afraid. “What?”

“You did,” Jungkook repeats. You’re the one who broke my heart. “Wait,” Taehyung says, but Jungkook’s shaking his head and trying to move back away. Taehyung lunges for him and Jungkook lets him drag him back into his arms.

“Wait, wait, I-” Taehyung sounds increasingly frantic. “What do you mean, I did-” “You brought a date, hyung,” Jungkook says, resignation taking over, bleakness bleeding into his eyes as he wipes uselessly at his cheeks.

“You brought a date, and he’s- he’s obviously your type, mature and-” Jungkook’s voice breaks on ‘mature.’ “-And I’m sorry, I’ll stop, I’ll get over it, I’m just-” Taehyung looks aghast. “I just. I. I can’t, hyung, I’m tired, I can’t do this anymore-”

“Did you want to be my date?” Taehyung asks quietly. Jungkook stills. Stares down at his hands, the ones covered in tattoos, the ones that had held the bouquet for Taehyung an hour ago. The ones stained with his own heartbreak.

“Sorry,” Jungkook murmurs, and it’s the closest to a confession as it gets. Taehyung’s breath catches. “Jungkook,” he says, and Jungkook closes his eyes. He doesn't need to see the pity.

“I just, I thought- I thought maybe, maybe now that- that I, that I’m a little more mature, you’d- I thought I could maybe-” “...What?”

“I stopped playing video games,” Jungkook heaves, nearly sobbing again. “I stopped, I stopped the dumb comic books, I, I atarted dressing better, nicer, I thought- and- the piercings, and- and I worked out, I-”

Taehyung’s expression is of pure, unadulterated terror. “Jungkook,” he breathes. “Don’t tell me you did all that because of-” “I just wanted you to /look at me/,” Jungkook says, opening his eyes and looking up at the ceiling, trying to stem the flow of tears.

“I, I know I’m just the dumb kid you’ve always been looking after, but I, I wanted to show you I could be the man you deserve, that I- that you could maybe one day want to be with me-”

“/Jungkook/,” Taehyung breathes, voice filled with a mixture of anguish and wonder. Soft hands come to cup Jungkook’s cheeks, forcing him to look at Taehyung.

Taehyung, whose own eyes are damp. “Jungkook, you’re the only one I’ve ever wanted to be with.” Jungkook stills. “Jungkook,” Taehyung laughs wetly. “Jungkook, baby, my baby-”

Jungkook’s eyes are wide and so, so bright. Filled with stars. Taehyung lovingly caresses his cheek with a thumb, expression so fond it hurts. “You’ve always been my baby,” he murmurs, choked up. And this time, baby sounds like ‘love.’

“I’ve been looking at you, only you, all this time,” Taehyung says, and Jungkook’s heart is soaring. “No,” he protests feebly, because it couldn’t be. It couldn’t. “You brought someone else tonight too, you-”

Taehyung leans in to press their foreheads together. “I was scared,” he says, hushed and sacred. “I saw you- I saw you changing so fast, growing up so fast it was like- like I blinked and you were this whole new person.”

“So beautiful and so, so lovely, with your ridiculously buff arms and gorgeous tattoos and-” Taehyung breathes. Jungkook gapes at him. “You were outgrowing our games nights and our comic book sessions and- I was terrified you were outgrowing me too.”

Jungkook shakes his head frantically, cheeks still squished between Taehyung’s. “No, no, I could never, I love you, I’ve always loved you, I can’t outgrow you, you’re a permanent part of me I can’t unlearn-”

Taehyung’s smile, wide and tremulous, feels like a shooting star burned into his memory. “I love you too, baby.” Jungkook nuzzles closer, sniffling. “‘M your baby,” he murmurs, and Taehyung kisses him. “Always my baby.”

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