Oh for the love of god

“For the love of God” is definitely, as Laetitia was getting at, an expression of desperation. If you exhort someone to do a particular thing, and use this phrase, you mean

Don’t do it for me. Don’t do it to make money. Don’t do it to protect your business or your good name. Do it for a more basic motivation, the motivation that we were all born with, namely, the love of God.

It means that the thing you’re exhorting the person to do doesn’t need fancy motivators, and shouldn’t need much convincing. It means you are at the end of your rope (i.e. you have run out of patience).

Suppose someone has been going back and forth for a ridiculous amount of time, arguing with himself about whether to do a particular thing or not. If this goes on indefinitely, at some point you are going to blow up and tell them to just go ahead and do it, “for the love of God”.

For example, “Should I ask her to the dance?” After half an hour of prevaricating, you dial her number, thrust the phone at your friend, and shout, “For the love of God, just ask her already!”

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Jeon Jeongguk has a Problem.

Jeon Jeongguk has a Problem and he doesn’t know where to begin evaluating his life choices that all lead to this one unfortunate moment. But for the sake of starting somewhere and making sense (if he can even attempt oh god he can already feel a merciless headache approaching), here’s his Problem broken down into Three (3) Very Important Points :

  1. He’s on a date he has no recollections of ever arranging whatsoever;
  2. He feels horrible and shitty, actually feels like he might just throw up all over (But this is such a lovely table, and there’s an expensive slice of lamb on his porcelain China plate grilled to perfection, and he’s in a fancy Italian restaurant wrapped in a fancy white suit and tie he probably doesn’t even own, and it’s just not proper public etiquette to retch all over your date; who by the way, Jeongguk has already forgotten the name of);
  3. and Kim Taehyung.

He’s on a date with some stranger he hasn’t ever seen around (shit, what if she’s an axe wielder? Okay, wait. Haha, who are you kidding, Jeon Jeongguk, your life is not a shitty horror movie. Get it together, man) and his stomach feels like it’s been flipped a quadruple-million times in the air and all he can think about is, ‘Kim Taehyung’.

Ah, Kim Taehyung.

The root of all evil. The pain in Jeongguk’s ass. The only thorn amongst the roses.

Wait. The last one doesn’t seem right.

But, okay. Anyway. Anyway, Jeongguk’s making sense. He’s making sense. Right?

Right.

Because fuck, fuck fuck fuck, he’s on a date and he feels like vomiting and shitting at the same time (is that even possible? He feels like he can if he’s determined enough) and it all boils down to a certain Kim Taehyung.

Jeongguk stares blankly at the individual sitting before him running her mouth on and on about a vacation house somewhere in Hawaii. Someplace where they can go when summer hits this June and they’re gonna have so much fun apparently, and she’s going to wear her cute little red bikini — no, wait! The leopard one, aw, but she looks so cute in her yellow tankini — and on and on and on and.

Jeongguk groans and scrubs a hand down his face, effectively cutting off the girl’s blabbering. He leans his elbows on the table, almost knocking the wine glass over (huh, when did he drink all of it?), letting his shoulders slump pathetically.

“Oh! Jeongguk, are you okay?”

No, I am not okay. Can you just shut up about your swimsuits and leave me to wallow in my 2009 Emo Teen feelings and self-pity.

“Yeah, just a little tired,” he says instead. God, why can’t he actually live up to his name and be like Actual Death.

“Oh, this is what I was talking about! We can unwind in the vacation house, there will be the beach and the sea and —” The girl chirps a little bit too cheerfully, and Jeongguk very nearly screams and slams his own head against the table, but he doesn’t (which is a great feat in itself), and only pitifully heaves a deep sigh, watching her wordlessly as her cherry red stained lips curl and curve into words that end up sounding like static white noise to Jeongguk’s ears.

Instead what he thinks about is this morning’s event, A.K.A. the reason as to why he’s here and suffering on his own, a very much unasked-for torment.

He had woken up without much fuss, limbs still weighed down like a ton of bricks to his bed after a long night of working through his list back on Earth. It had been a pretty long list compared to the ones he had earlier this week, keeping him up until three in the morning. That hadn’t been a problem. He’s a god. He has his own time of operation and, being of considerable high rank, has nobody to boss him around (not many, anyway. There’s still Kim Namjoon, but Namjoon doesn’t call on him unless he desperately needs him, so; but when does the God of Wisdom ever need the God of Death? Answer: Never).

So he had woken up nicely. Great, actually. Because he’d been dreaming of a particular Kim Taehyung right before he’d woken up. It had been a simple dream; white sky, white clouds, the golden skin of Taehyung a beautiful, stark contrast against the clear background. He’d been smiling then, flashing his pearly white teeth. An attractive wide smile plastered on his face that stretched his lips into a funny rectangular shape, a shape that Jeongguk found endlessly endearing on him. It had been a wonderful dream. Dreams with Kim Taehyung in them never failed to put Jeongguk into the perfect mood.

And then it wasn’t. He’d woken up from that wonderful dream with a loopy smile on his face and then Kim Taehyung From Reality had barrelled into his apartment and crashed into his bed basically kneeing him in the stomach due to his unexplained excitement, proceeding to bounce up and down as if he hadn’t been digging his kneecap into Jeongguk.

“Gukkie! Gukkie!” he had sung, face hovering above Jeongguk’s and looking like the absolute angel that he is. Hair ruffled and eyes glistening and very much like the Kim Taehyung From Jeongguk’s Dream, except this one had been basically asphyxiating him; so, actually, a monster.

“What,” Jeongguk had managed to cough out. Taehyung hadn’t taken the hint and his knee pushed further into Jeongguk’s stomach.

“I’ve gotten you a surprise! A really great surprise! You’ll like it, I’m sure you will, but you have to get up now to get it so, come on, come on!” And then Taehyung had hopped off the bed, wrapped his thin, elegant fingers around Jeongguk’s wrists and hauled his ass out of bed. For such a slim person, Taehyung had managed to almost pop his shoulders out of their sockets with the force of his tugs.

Jeongguk, still very much disoriented with sleep, had stood in the middle of his room in nothing but his flimsy white t-shirt and Iron Man boxers (bedhead included), totally clueless as to why Taehyung had moved on to throwing his closet doors open, examining articles of clothing with a hand to his chin, emitting thoughtful hm-mm’s once in a while. (Jeongguk had seen him pick up a crumpled shirt with his index finger and thumb, a clearly disgusted look plastered on his face. So maybe owning a 1D shirt hadn’t been one of the best life decisions Jeongguk’s made, sue him.)

“What’s going on, Tae.” Jeongguk had scratched his nose, prying his sleep-crusted eyes open and watching Taehyung flit around his room, making random, odd noises that Jeongguk could only describe as a disgruntled puppy.

“Why do you have so much black stuff?” Taehyung had whined, turning to look at Jeongguk with such fierceness in his eyes that the latter had unconsciously taken a step back, almost a hundred percent awake now.

“Uh… Tae, god of death…? Black? Scary? Goes around killing people for a daytime job? Any of that ring a bell?” Jeongguk had tilted his head then, suspiciously watching the things pile on top of his bed with narrowed eyes, Taehyung still moving around frantically, as if trying to reach a deadline only he could see.

“Agh! This is just no good, you!” Taehyung had turned to point a finger at him, lips pursed into an adorable pout that had squeezed the air right out of Jeongguk’s lungs. “Go take a shower, now. ASAP. Once you come out, I’m sure I’ll have something agreeable ready. Now shoo! Go cleanse thyself!”

That should’ve been Jeongguk’s first hint. Taehyung bossing him around. Taehyung never bossed Jeongguk around, mostly because he’s a sweet cinnamon roll who never forced anyone against their will. And yet Jeongguk had followed Taehyung’s instructions without so much as huffing. (Because he’s whipped just like that.) Had allowed himself to cleanse in the bathroom, and had come out to find Taehyung standing in the middle of his room holding up a white suit, smiling a little bit too sadistically for Jeongguk’s taste.

“What is that,” Jeongguk had naïvely asked. He’d clutched at the towel around his waist tighter, brows furrowing in scepticism as Taehyung merely bounced on the balls of his feet.

“A suit! For the surprise, silly,” Taehyung had supplied not-so helpfully, leaving Jeongguk, wet hair sticking to his forehead and beads of water rolling down his back, gaping at him.

“Okay, before anything else happens — I need my last Will and Testament ready, can I have a few seconds to call my lawyer — and, what surprise?”

Taehyung had rolled his eyes, gripped Jeongguk’s arm and pulled him forward only to slap another towel to his chest, scrunching his nose and squinting his eyes at Jeongguk’s wet-chick state.

“Stop being dramatic, that’s my role. Also, you don’t have a lawyer,” Jeongguk had made a noise of indignant protest in the back of his throat. “Gukkie, if you must really know — I hate your ass, why do you always have to ruin my surprises — I’ve set you up on a date! Ta-da! Which is why you need to get yourself together and clean up nice with my help, because we’re gonna get you a nice partner soon!”

And before Jeongguk could let the words sink in, Taehyung had already forced him into the stiff white suit, strangled him with the tie around his neck, and pulled and tugged his hair to form some sort of floppy shape on top of his head. (Jeongguk had complained how it hadn’t looked different at all to when he’d woken up, and Taehyung had slapped the back of his head and hissed, telling him snarkily it was for the sake of aesthetics.)

He’d shoved a red rose wrapped with plastic into his hand and then proceeded to usher him out of his door, slipping a piece of paper into his pocket (“The address of the restaurant I’ve reserved for you! Don’t lose it!”).

And here Jeongguk is.

Stiff white suit and tie intact, red rose handed over to his supposed date, and himself feeling like shit because. Why he’s suddenly being forced into a date, he does not know. But that’s honestly a given because anything related to a certain god named Kim Taehyung, he remains clueless of. Especially of what goes into his mind. (Jeongguk had stopped trying after the 96th time, when Taehyung had insisted they go to Earth and buy all the fishes in all aquatic pet stores and free them to the ocean. He’d even laid out a very exhaustive diagram for it.)

Before he’d left, Kim Taehyung had had half a mind to hail him a cab. He’d beamed and patted Jeongguk’s head and said, “It’ll be fun! Tell me how it goes afterwards, okay!”

It’ll be fun, he said.

Jeongguk looks vacantly at the girl sat across from him. She has still not stopped talking. Hasn’t even noticed how Jeongguk has gone through an entire midlife crisis in the past ten minutes. What a champ.

Jeon Jeongguk is not having fun.

When the girl stops and smiles (fina-fucking-ly noticing the silence), she looks at Jeongguk expectantly, and Jeongguk musters up enough energy to smile back. The corners of his lips tug upward into something small, wicked even, and he leans forward. He can see the girl’s eyes widen for a second, and then she’s mimicking Jeongguk, leaning in forward inch by inch, expression melting into an expectant shy look.

Jeongguk reaches out, slowly. The girl’s eyes flutter. Plastic rustles beneath their faces.

A minute passes and the girl’s eyebrows furrow in confusion, feeling nothing press against her lips at all, like how she’d expected. She cracks her eyes open. Proceeds to scream afterwards.

Jeongguk’s grinning. He’s holding out the rose in front of her eyes, now wilted and dead, crumbling into black ashes right before her eyes.

Maybe he’s not as hopeless of a god of death as he’d originally thought he was.

*

“You sent her home crying, Jeon Jeongguk!” Jeongguk winces as Taehyung’s voice rings loud and clear in his apartment as soon as he’s closed the door behind him. He hasn’t even toed off his shoes yet when Taehyung appears by the entryway, hands on his hips and a frown set on his forehead.

He has this ridiculously big pout that Jeongguk wants to coo at, but decides against it as Taehyung, despite looking like an adorable bun Jeongguk would 10/10 take a bite out of, looks out for blood and ready to kill. (In Jeongguk’s experience, although Taehyung is a very soft creature, just one of the softest, he is undoubtedly one of the scariest and quickest to snap when provoked.)

“Huh?” Okay, maybe playing it dumb will work for now, Jeon Jeongguk. Taehyung has always seen you as dumb, yeah. (Maybe that isn’t a good thing… actually?)

“Don’t play dumb with me, you made the poor girl cry! And I told Soojung you were nice!” Taehyung taps his feet against the floor impatiently, huffing as he lifts a finger to jab into his chest accusingly. “Soojung didn’t deserve a dead rose on a date. She’s the goddess of flowers, of all things!”

“Oh shit.” Jeongguk quickly lifts his head to look at Taehyung, a cold pool of guilt finally settling at the bottom of his stomach. Maybe the girl — Soojung, her name is Soojung — didn’t deserve it. No, she really didn’t. She had been sweet for the most part and Jeongguk was just being a jerk. “I — I’m sorry, is there any way I can apologize to her?”

“‘Oh shit’ is right, mister,” Taehyung finally relaxes, his breath leaving him in a whoosh as his shoulders slump, and walks quietly back into the living room. “I don’t think Soojung would want to talk to you — or me — ever again. At least, not in a couple of days.”

Jeongguk kicks off his shoes and follows Taehyung, collapsing onto the couch beside him.

“I’m sorry I was being an asshole. She was sweet and I was just… I guess, surprised? I didn’t think that would happen and… yeah.” He finishes lamely, looking on to Taehyung for any signs that he’s been 100% forgiven.

There are two things wrong with this picture, Jeongguk realises.

One, The God of Death, The Soul Taker, The Creature That Everyone Fears, is pathetically apologising for something he did out of his nature (Okay, maybe I didn’t necessarily have to be a jerk about the date, Jeongguk begrudgingly admits to himself. But he didn’t have his gloves on and the rose was meant to die with his touch, okay?). Two, why is he making excuses for himself. He doesn’t need to explain himself to anyone. At all. What the heck, he rules life and death. So why.

Oh.

That’s right.

He takes one glance at Taehyung’s sad expression and groans internally.

He’s In Love with this being sitting right next to him. The one who got upset and is pouting because his date didn’t go well and he sent a girl crying with a dead rose. The one who set him up on a date in the first place, only God knows why. (And it isn’t very easy to get to talk to God so Jeongguk may never know why, unless Taehyung tells him.)

The God Of Death, The Harbinger of Demise, The One People Run Away From. In love.

With the God of Love himself.

For the past years they’ve been friends. (And that’s a lot of years.)

And he hasn’t even noticed.

Oh, fuck Jeon Jeongguk very much.

*

“I’ve only done it because I overheard you talking to Namjoon-hyung that one time last week,” Taehyung confesses later on. They’re sprawled over Jeongguk’s couch with a bowl of popcorn between them and Titanic playing on the TV. There’s a comfortable silence hanging above them like a warm blanket; it’s always been like that between Taehyung and Jeongguk. So when Taehyung speaks, Jeongguk hears every word clearly. He turns to look at Taehyung, brows meeting at the center and lips twisting into a confused frown.

“Huh?”

“You’ve been saying that a lot today, haven’t you, Gukkie?” Taehyung chuckles, lifting a hand to brush a piece of popcorn off the corner of his lips. Jeongguk’s heart almost leaps out of his chest. “I mean, that one time Namjoon-hyung was over and you guys didn’t know I was around. I came back for my coat then, remember? But you were talking to him and he was just… there, listening. You know, Namjoon-hyung being Namjoon-hyung. Anyway, I heard you talking about how you wanted love… and stuff.”

Oh. Oh shit.

Oh shit that was the time when Jeongguk had tried to hint at Taehyung (for the nth time since their conception, really) and Taehyung had beamed at him and said, “You’re the bestest best friend ever, Gukkie!” and Jeongguk had proceeded to crumble and weep when he got home at Namjoon.

“And?” Jeongguk hides the fact that his knuckles are white with the way he’s clutching tightly at the edge of his couch. He leans forward in his seat due to the anticipation building up in his stomach, ready to flee if Taehyung so much as tells him he overheard the whole two and a half hour session of him whining and moping and wallowing in misery (with Namjoon’s moral support) because Friendzone is the worst place to be in a world like this, where it shouldn’t have even existed in the first place, damn it.

“And it was the first time I ever heard you talk about love! Ever! So I thought maybe I’d put myself to good use and set you up on a date, you know? Help you kickstart your love life. Hey, maybe you’d even find your future partner through me! And then you’d obviously need to tell the world that the Almighty Kim Taehyung, God of Love, helped you find true love!” Taehyung grins proudly over Jeongguk and Jeongguk just about cries inside. Ah, yes. Here he is. His infamously oblivious best friend, Kim Taehyung at his finest.

“I thought about how you’re the God of Death and how you’re often misunderstood because of it, you know?” Taehyung sighs, stuffing a handful of popcorn into his mouth like he hadn’t just pierced through Jeongguk’s (non-existent) heart with his words sharp like a blade, “They all think you’re this dark, mysterious, brooding eternal seventeen year old stuck in a metal rock era, but you’re not that! Not at all. And how else can I help you in your Conquest of Finding True Love by being the one who lets others see you in the way I see you?”

Honestly.

Just… somebody, please. Stab Jeongguk right now. Shoot him in the foot. Ban him from the gym. It would hurt less than hearing the Love of His Immortal Life talk about him like that and still remain so fucking oblivious about his feelings.

“Hah… That’s so sweet of you, Tae…” Sweet, sweet torture it is.

“I know!” Taehyung agrees easily, throwing a bright grin towards Jeongguk’s way before lifting the bowl of popcorn and plopping it onto his lap to shift in his seat, scooting closer to Jeongguk and snuggling into his side. “What would you do without me, Gukkie.”

Live a peaceful, non-loving, non-suffering life, Jeongguk wants to say. Except he doesn’t.

What he does is snake an arm around Taehyung’s shoulder and let Taehyung rest his head on the crook of his neck. Hums in agreement, says, “Yeah, what would I do without you?” and proceeds to cry internally.

*

“So you’re telling me he took what he overheard you said the wrong way, again,” Namjoon lifts a finger and points it at him, brows furrowed lips pursed in deep thought, “And has now set his life mission to scoring you a date and finding your true love? Which, you believe, you’ve already found in him?”

The response he gets is a muffled groan-wail from the subject of the conversation.

Jeongguk had almost immediately planted his face into his pillow as soon as Taehyung had left (“Okay! Leave it all to hyung, Gukkie! I’ll make sure to find you the greatest, most perfect-est soul ever! Don’t you worry!”) and called Namjoon over, letting the elder find him flattened on his bed and waist deep in regret.

He still can’t believe Taehyung had heard him, in the middle of his rant about Kim Taehyung himself, The Object of His Deep and Unadulterated Affection, and yet still failed to understand that Jeongguk had been talking about him. Talking about the God of Love.

Worse, he had completely interpreted it in the wrong way.

Jeongguk still remembers what he’d told Namjoon then. It wasn’t anything different from his Weekly Catharsis sessions with Namjoon. That’s right. He ranted about Kim Taehyung to Namjoon weekly. Because a week is, surprisingly (or not), enough for Taehyung to turn Jeongguk’s life around a complete hundred-and-eighty degree. Or, you know, enough for him to at least figuratively pierce a hand through Jeongguk’s chest, rip his non-existent heart away (because gods like them don’t have real hearts, not really, no), squeeze it to an unrecognizable pulp, throw it on the floor, step on it at least a million times (with the heeled end of his shoe), and let it flop uselessly to die at his feet.

Okay maybe Jeongguk got a little too graphic there. But it’s true.

What hurts more is that Kim Taehyung, the God of Love, is actually his best friend. A constant reminder of what Jeon Jeongguk can’t have. Every time Taehyung calls him out (for various reasons, one of which is to go to Earth together; they’d always done that together, always. Taehyung would watch and help people find true love, and Jeongguk would touch and take people’s souls as their times run out. It’s kinda romantic if you asked Jeongguk.) and sticks to his side like a leech. Which he is. Oh god Kim Taehyung is the worst when it comes to personal space.

You’d think he’d be afraid of Jeongguk. Because Jeongguk really doesn’t want to be stereotypical, but as the god of death that’s what he naturally is, flesh and bones. All-black clad figure, deep, dark eyes, lips always set into a firm line — he had the worst resting bitch face amongst the whole Kingdom, to be really honest — and the worst introvert tendencies you’d ever witness.

And Taehyung is all bright and sunshine-y, like blooming flowers and singing birds. Love literally pours out of his pores, you know?

While Jeongguk emits a dark aura, black shadows outlining his figure like liquid ink, Taehyung glows — especially when he’d just came back from a job on Earth and had witnessed a strong couple meeting. He’d glow, oh how he’d glow. White light would ooze out from his skin like starburst, his hair would shine silver against the sunlight, and you’d just know that Love is there without hearing him sing.

Jeongguk often heard others ask why Taehyung hung around him, when they’re the total opposites (Which is a little wrong; Because technically speaking, Jeongguk’s opposite is this lovely girl called Jung Yein, the goddess of life, and Taehyung’s is the legendary lethargic Kim Sunggyu, the god of indifference). Because ‘how can someone so cheerful and lovely be with someone so… dead?’ Is what they’d often ask. Usually behind Jeongguk’s back. Because even though Jeongguk’s touch didn’t necessarily affect gods themselves, most of them remain scared of him. Which is okay, honest. Jeongguk doesn’t need anyone who misunderstands him without even trying to understand him. Really. And he has Kim Taehyung anyway. His best friend and —

Jeongguk lets out another long suffering groan, twisting to lie on his back and catching the ends of Namjoon giving him a pitiful look. He’s about to speak when the door slams open and Hoseok comes storming in, expression scarily dark as he points a finger at Jeongguk. (Why is everybody pointing their fingers at Jeongguk today, honestly.)

“Hoseok-hyung why —”

“You haven’t told Taehyung yet?” He cuts Jeongguk off, quick and clean.

Jeongguk notices that he’s frowning — scowling, to be more accurate. This hyung is particularly cute, Jeongguk thinks in a moment of distraction, because when he’s totally upset his lips curl into this cutest little shape and okay — okay now is not the time to think about that, Jeongguk, he looks like he’s about to strangle you and throw you off a cliff, focus.

Jeongguk scrambles up to sit.

“Taehyung just went over to my place crying about your ruined date and that’s not what I’m here for, I’d expected that from you —” Jeongguk makes a ?! noise and is downright affronted. Hoseok waves a hand dismissively. “But what I mean is, you haven’t told Tae you like him yet? How many years has it been, Guk-ah?”

“It’s been a hundred years,” Namjoon pipes up from the side, unhelpfully, “and forty-five days.”

“It’s not that easy, hyung!” Jeongguk all but whines, “Tae thinks I’m #Thirsting2K16 for love when all I want is him and the hardest part is that — he’s my best friend, I don’t want things to be weird between the two of us! Things have been okay for a hundred years, why does anything have to change?”

“Because now Taehyung had gone and made himself your personal Cupid, and you’re obviously suffering more from it,” Hoseok joins him in the bed, the look in his eyes softening into something that resembles sadness closely. Jeongguk looks away and settles on glaring at his fingers on his lap, not wanting to see any of them pity him that way.

Hoseok lets out an exhausted sigh, shoulders visibly sagging as he exhales.

“So you’re just going to let him continue this? Setting you up on dates and crying when they fail?”

Jeongguk grunts.

“This is just stupid, you know,” Hoseok reaches out a hand and pinches the bridge of Jeongguk’s nose, earning a yelp from him. “This is so stupid. You’re stupid.”

“Thanks for the support, hyung,” Jeongguk grumbles, flopping on his back, “Appreciate it.”

Hoseok’s mouth is open, poised for one of the longest nagging sessions Jeongguk will ever hear, when Namjoon cuts in, tilting his head curiously and calculating his words before speaking. (Jeongguk can almost hear the cogs in his head turning. Amazing.)

“What if you use this opportunity to finally tell Tae how you feel?”

Hoseok and Jeongguk simultaneously groan, like they hadn’t just been talking about Taehyung being the densest god ever —

“No, I mean hear me out, idiots,” Hoseok slaps Namjoon’s arm and Namjoon grins cheekily at him. (Jeongguk rolls his eyes — “Maybe you can tone down the flirting a bit while I’m suffering from my love life trying to fuck itself over thank you?”). “Now that Tae has an idea that Guk here is capable of feeling love,” ‘Hey!’ “maybe it’ll be easier for Tae to understand that Guk isn’t just looking for love anywhere else, but in him?”

Hoseok takes a minute to consider Namjoon’s suggestion, rubbing a hand against his chin thoughtfully, and visibly brightens up, slapping a fist against his palm and yelling, ‘Aha!’.

“This can totally work, Guk-ah,” Hoseok grins, twisting in his seat to face Jeongguk.

“But you guys know I’ve been trying to tell him how I feel for a hundred years, how will this change anything?”

“Listen, okay,” Hoseok leans in, whisper-yelling fiercely into Jeongguk’s face as he grabs hold onto his shoulders, shaking him gently, “Tae now knows you can feel love. The games have changed, my fellow soldier. Now you just have to up your game whenever you hint at your hopeless crush at him! Go big or go home, Jeon Jeongguk. YOLO.”

“So I just… have to make everything more extravagant…?”

“Exactly!”

“Bigger skulls?”

“Yes! — Wait, shit no, what?!”

“Bigger skulls… I’ve been giving Taehyung skulls like you know how penguins give their loved one the perfect pebble and skulls are —”

Hoseok lets out a strangled cry and Namjoon just runs a hand down his face silently.

“What? Skulls are great! They’re very versatile, I’ll have you know. You can use them as accessories. Rings, crowns, and candle holders! And door knobs! And —”

“Jeon Jeongguk just… just shut up before I do something against my nature and finish you.”

“So… no skulls then…?”

It’s a good thing Namjoon has long limbs and is quick to react when Hoseok lunges at Jeongguk, screaming for blood.

“I was just making sure!”

“Making sure, my ass!”

*

(“Do you think he’ll realize he’s the one basically friendzoning Taehyung without knowing soon?”

“Nope.”

“Yeah, thought so.”)

*

Here’s what Jeongguk gets out from his Very (Not So) Helpful Talk With His Hyungs :

  1. Up the hinting game, because now that Taehyung knows Jeongguk has feelings, it’ll be easier for him to understand (maybe) what Jeongguk’s been wanting to tell him for years
  2. Go big or go home, Jeon Jeongguk
  3. YOLO
  4. What can go wrong anyway?
  5. Who needs to live anyway?

So he’ll let Taehyung set him up on dates for now. Even though he’ll feel like an asshole getting his dates’ hopes up. What else can he do, anyway? All for love, right?

He clenches his teeth and forces a smile in his voice when Taehyung calls him a couple of days later.

(Yes, they possess phones in the Kingdom. No, they’re not savages.)

“Gukkie! I found you the perfect match, you will love love love love this one!” He screams into the receiver and Jeongguk winces. Because of two things, 1.) Taehyung screeching into his ear is not a very good way to start the day, no matter how much he loves his voice; and 2.) The date. He has almost forgotten The Dreaded Dates.

“Yeah?” He replies weakly. Already mentally digging his grave.

“Yeah! You know the god of dogs? Or well, maybe guardian would be a better term — but anyway! I scored you a date with him! And have I mentioned dogs?” Taehyung sounds like he’s going through a series of euphoric states. “I’m so excited for you! Dogs are adorable, so the god will have to be adorable too, don’t you think so?”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk hears shuffling from the other side, something like sheets rustling from movement and then a dull thud. “Tae? You okay?”

“Yeah, um,” He laughs sheepishly — adorably, and Jeongguk just dies. Dies. “I just kind of fell off my bed… because I was dancing… in happiness. You know. Dogs.”

“Ah, of course.”

These are not tears in Jeongguk’s eyes. He is not crying because of Taehyung’s adorableness. Never.

“So anyway, I’ll be coming to this date for reasons,” (Taehyung doesn’t tell Jeongguk that he’s texted the date beforehand, saying “pls bring dog”. Nobody needs to know about Taehyung’s secret agenda anyway.) “But I won’t be interfering you so don’t mind me!”

Please. Please interfere, Jeongguk almost hits his head against the wall.

*

Taehyung arrives at his place half an hour before his date and he looks better than Jeongguk, to be quite honest. This time, Taehyung made sure that the place he’s having his date at would be casual. And Jeon Jeongguk is casual, if not anything else. So he just throws on an XXXL white shirt, a pair of clean (maybe?) black pants he’d picked up on his floor and a pair of Timberlands, and he’s done. Taehyung clicks his tongue at him whilst shaking his head as soon as Jeongguk’s opened the door to let him in. Taehyung’s in a tux. (He looks so beautiful Jeongguk could cry. Actually. He’s already been crying for a hundred years. What’s a day of more crying to him?)

“I don’t understand why you insist on this get-up, Gukkie,” Taehyung says, dusting Jeongguk’s shoulders off. He gives Jeongguk a sympathetic look, placing a hand over his heart, “It breaks my heart. Truly.”

Jeongguk snorts and rolls his eyes at Taehyung, pinching his cheek lightly. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why do you look like you’re ready to receive an award?”

“You gotta learn how to dress for the occasion, you know?” Taehyung answers back, making sure Jeongguk has everything he needs (Perfume? Breath mints? His capability to socialize with people in public for over an hour?).

“What occasion?”

— is a question that gets answered as soon as they arrive at the place. It’s a small café that allows owners to bring their dogs with them and Jeongguk should’ve known, really. The reason why Taehyung’s looking good in a tux and why he’d been bouncing off the walls as they made their way down here.

The individual standing before the café’s glass door holding a small brown Pomeranian is probably his date. And the Pomeranian being held by the individual is probably Taehyung’s.

Taehyung squeals, almost running into the guy holding the puppy. “Yugyeom!”

“Hey, Tae,” The guy — Yugyeom, Jeongguk makes sure to remember it now — replies amicably, a mellow smile hanging on his lips.

Jeongguk approaches them when Taehyung’s too busy taking the puppy from his arms and cooing and smelling (Smelling?) the puppy to even introduce the two of them, so he just smiles at Yugyeom apologetically and offers a gloved hand.

“Hey, I’m Jeongguk, I guess?”

“You guess?” Yugyeom takes his hand and laughs, mouth curving into a pretty shape and eyes twinkling with mirth, “Then I guess I’m Yugyeom.”

“Uh, sorry, m’not so good with these things,” Jeongguk grins cheekily, heading for the glass door. Taehyung’s already inside, he notices, playing with the puppy. (Jeongguk’s heart clenches at the image he sees through the glass, a smile subconsciously curling his lips.)

“It’s okay,” He hears Yugyeom behind him almost belatedly, jolting him out of his thoughts about Taehyung, and he turns to watch Yugyeom shrug lightheartedly, “The only reason why I have friends is because I have dogs, anyway.”

“No?” Jeongguk gasps playfully, moving to the end of the short queue to get them drinks, Yugyeom right by his side.

“Unfortunately.” Yugyeom’s grinning. (Jeongguk watches for Taehyung at the corner of his eye.)

Taehyung looks so soft and adorable playing with the puppy, and Yugyeom’s still talking beside him, and Jeongguk can almost foresee his future.

*

It’s been twenty minutes and Jeongguk’s drink is already half-empty when Yugyeom decides to speak up.

“You like him, don’t you?”

“Huh?” Jeongguk’s head snaps up in breakneck speed, eyes wide like a deer caught in headlights.

“It’s okay, I’m not gonna be mad if you admit to it.” Yugyeom laughs, throws his head back a little, and twists in his seat, glancing behind him where Taehyung’s still playing with his puppy. “I mean, he’s adorable. I’m not surprised at all. I’m more surprised that I hadn’t seen it coming, actually.”

“I… shit, I’m sorry,” Jeongguk scratches his nape sheepishly, forcing his attention off Taehyung and onto Yugyeom, who’s only looking at him with something in his eyes that he can’t exactly decipher, “I didn’t mean to drag you out here on a shitty date and —”

“Told you, it’s fine, you probably have your reasons,” Yugyeom leans back in his seat, taking a sip from his drink. “I won’t push you to tell me, but it would be nice to know why you’re here on a date with a stranger when you already know who you want?”

“It’s a long story.”

“We have time. I don’t think Tae would like it if we’d separate them too soon.”

Jeongguk shakes his head with a laugh because that’s probably true. Taehyung would probably give them the puppy eyes and sad pout if they’d went home now. Not when Taehyung’s sending love hearts eye beams to the puppy in his lap.

Yugyeom’s looking at him expectantly when he returns his gaze to him.

“And hey, you can stare at him for some more?”

“Okay, that actually sounds tempting,” Jeongguk chuckles, thanks the gods for giving him an understanding date, and nods. Maybe he isn’t one of the best conversationalists out there. But ask Jeongguk to talk about a certain god of love and he may just win an award for it.

*

A couple of hours later, after Yugyeom’s waved them goodbye (with the puppy in his arms, much to Taehyung’s sadness), Taehyung’s latched his hands around Jeongguk’s arm, looking elated after hours of playing with the puppy. There’s a bounce in his steps and he’s humming to a song under his breath.

Jeongguk feels like he could just spend his days like this. With a happy Taehyung by his side. (Maybe he should get Taehyung a puppy? Wait — actually, shit, why has he never thought of that? He mentally notes down a visit to Namjoon to ask him for help in choosing a puppy maybe.)

“How was the date, Gukkie? Had fun? Do you think maybe he can be the one?” Jeongguk pretends he hasn’t heard Taehyung whisper ‘Please be the one, so I can play with the puppy.’ under his breath. (Who’s keeping count of how many times Taehyung’s made Jeongguk cry unintentionally? Not Jeongguk. He doesn’t have enough fingers for that.)

“Uh… Sorry, Tae, I don’t think so.” Taehyung almost rips his arm off when he suddenly stops. Jeongguk turns to look at him in alarm, only to find Taehyung looking like the most confused (most adorable) puppy ever.

“What? But I thought you were doing great! You were even laughing together? That’s the first time I’ve seen you laugh with anybody who’s not me or Namjoon-hyung or Hoseok-hyung!”

“Okay, first of all, ouch?” Jeongguk frowns, lifting a finger to push Taehyung’s forehead back gently. “I’m not that emotionless. Second, it just… didn’t work.”

“Why not… wait,” Taehyung starts, then cuts himself off as his expression melts into something akin realization, “Wait, did he think he was too good for you just because he has dogs? And that dogs like him back? Is that it?”

Before Jeongguk can tell Taehyung that no, it is definitely not that, Taehyung has already come up with a hundred of possible reasons why it hadn’t worked between Jeongguk and Yugyeom.

“He really looked like a nice fit for you but I guess I was wrong.” Taehyung mumbles with a devastated frown, and god that just breaks Jeongguk’s heart (almost enough that he wants to tell Taehyung the truth but —).

“It’s okay, Gukkie!” Taehyung suddenly says, eyes burning with passion, as he raises a fist and shakes it in front of Jeongguk’s face, “We don’t need Yugyeom, I can find you a better fit, don’t worry! Who needs Yugyeom anyway? Who needs dogs?!”

Jeongguk is about to pat Taehyung on the back to calm him down a little when Taehyung just… bursts into tears. Jeongguk, taken aback, flits his hands all over Taehyung’s face, unsure of where to put his hands. He settles on cupping Taehyung’s cheeks, wiping at the corners of his eyes with his thumbs.

“Shit, don’t cry. Don’t cry. Why are you crying?”

“I… I…” Taehyung hiccups, lifting his fist to rub against his eye, and wails, “I can’t believe I just said that about dogs! I’m so sorry! I love dogs!”

(Jeongguk is still crying on the inside.)

“Hey, no, it’s okay. The date wasn’t that bad. It just, we just didn’t click, but we’re friends! Yugyeom and I are friends, so you can still love dogs, okay, Taetae? You’re not gonna betray me by liking dogs! Not at all!”

“I won’t? Oh thank gods, I can’t hate dogs, Gukkie!” Taehyung wails louder, his fingers finding the hem of Jeongguk’s shirt, clutching around the fabric as he proceeds to bury his face into Jeongguk’s chest, unable to stop his tears from falling. “I love dogs so much!”

Jeongguk just gulps around the lump in his throat, wraps his arms around Taehyung’s shaking shoulders.

Shit.

Taehyung’s crying into his chest and he’s hugging Taehyung and this has all the possibilities of being perfect, except Taehyung is crying about his love for dogs and Jeongguk is just… so gone.

“Shh, it’s okay, Tae. I’m sure dogs love you back as well.”

“You think so?”

“I know so.”

(Never, not in Jeongguk’s hundred years of existence, has he ever thought he’d get jealous of dogs. But here he was. Hugging The Beacon of His Life, The Apple of His Eye, wishing he was a goddamn dog.)

*

Yugyeom texts Jeongguk sometime a week later.

He tells Jeongguk of how Taehyung’s been glaring at him every time they met.

And how Taehyung always ends up melting into heart eyes as soon as he sees the dog in Yugyeom’s arms.

Jeongguk apologizes for Taehyung’s stead.

(Yugyeom also sends him photos of Taehyung cuddling puppies. Jeongguk saves every single one of them.)

*

Taehyung ends up setting Jeongguk on many, many more dates after the first two failed ones. Taehyung sets him up with various gods, from the god of War (Lee Howon; scary eyebrows, glorious abs, not exactly Jeongguk’s type), to the goddess of Cats (Jeongguk finds out that gods aren’t immune to allergies at all, why the fuck not?, and ends up sneezing until his eyes turn red and puffy; Taehyung apologizes to Seo Jisoo because Jeongguk really hadn’t mean to sneeze on her precious Ashera).

It’s been two weeks since Taehyung had started his own personal mission to be Jeongguk’s wingman, and they’ve gotten nowhere at all. Except 1.) Taehyung’s managed to play with more animals (who knew there is a god for every animal out there?), 2.) Jeongguk dies almost 7 times not because of Taehyung, and 42 times exactly because of Taehyung, 3.) Taehyung getting frustrated at having nothing work out, 4.) Jeongguk realizing he’s really, truly fucked, because he’s in love with the single, most impossible, just, the densest god of love to ever live.

On this day, after The 27th Failed Date, Jeongguk decides to become one with the floor after a physically exhausting, mentally draining day.

He half-understands why Taehyung has remained oblivious to his Ultimate Crushing Affection for a while, since gods can’t necessarily use their powers against and on other gods. So let’s just say maybe Taehyung doesn’t feel Jeongguk’s love overflowing from his fingertips just like he does with human beings and other living things. That’s fine, really. What Jeongguk doesn’t understand is why he simply insists on setting Jeongguk up on these dates even when they never work (will never work).

Sure, it had been okay at first — hell, it had been okay because it was Taehyung who’d asked, and when has Jeon Jeongguk ever denied Kim Taehyung? Even when it meant setting himself on fire and burning to the ground for him, Jeongguk would do anything and everything for Kim Taehyung.

But it’s become so exhausting now. Having to dress up for somebody who’s not Taehyung, eat dinner with somebody who’s not Taehyung, smile and talk and waste time with somebody who’s not Taehyung — wash, rinse, repeat.

Jeongguk sees how it’s affecting his relationship with Taehyung — he barely gets to talk to him anymore, and when he does all Taehyung talks about are his dates and who’s he’s setting up with Jeongguk next, leaving Jeongguk absolutely no space to talk about them.

He sighs in resignation, pressing his cheek harder against the floor. His eyes flutter close slowly, mind flickering in and out of consciousness when he feels something warm and heavy drape across his back. There’s something nosing against the base of his nape and fingers running through his hair, and Jeongguk immediately knows.

“I just don’t understand why nothing’s going well for you.”

Taehyung hums, and Jeongguk can hear the sadness laced in his tone. It makes his skin prickle with something painful.

“You’re perfect, I don’t understand why nobody else sees it. You’re wonderful, Gukkie. You’re charming, and lovely, and thoughtful, and caring. You always try your best to comfort somebody even when you’re so bad at it. You always act like you don’t care but deep down you’re an actual marshmallow, don’t even try to deny it. But why is nobody falling for you?”

Taehyung’s voice drops to a whisper, a soft susurrus that tickles the shell of his ear. He’s stroking Jeongguk’s hair so tenderly, brushing his lips against Jeongguk’s skin so softly, and that’s when Jeongguk understands.

Kim Taehyung is all the universe needs to bring the God of Death down on his knees.

It hurts like hell.

Because Taehyung sees everything, all of that, in Jeongguk — and yet he can’t, Jeongguk thinks, can never love him like the way he wants to. The only being put into existence who understands Jeongguk the way he’s only ever asked to and it’s by someone who will never love him.

There’s a thumb that presses against his forehead, smoothing the crease between his brows with a gentle swipe. He still hasn’t turned to look at Taehyung. (But he knows Taehyung’s looking at him, with the way his gaze burns hotly onto his skin.)

“Hey, don’t be sad,” Taehyung says, and Jeongguk wants to scream.

I’m not sad. I just want you to love me back. Please love me back.

Jeongguk’s lips remain pressed together. The weight on his back is lifted and in exchange, there’s a hand reaching for his. Fingers that curl almost naturally around his. A light tug on his hand.

“Come on, I’ll show you something.”

Taehyung says.

And who is Jeongguk to ever deny him?

Even when it meant breaking himself into pieces.

*

The ‘something’ that Taehyung wants to show him, Jeongguk supposes, is something down on Earth.

The Kingdom gods like them live in and Earth are essentially one and the same. It’s exactly similar to looking through a mirror. The Kingdom is just as advanced as the Earth is (if not more) — working phones, ships and cars, hundred-floor skyscrapers. Cotton candy, sun-stained skies and vast, aquamarine seas.

Except The Kingdom had been there since Forever, and the Earth merely a few million years old. And gods like him and Taehyung lived on forever, a single soul ever since the birth of the universes and galaxies, and human beings were made mortal, souls passed down different bodily vessels lifetime after lifetime.

Gods are also the only one between the two beings that can travel to and fro the two parallel worlds. They are able to create mirror-like portals at any point of time and place, convenient and easy with a wave of a determined hand.

Taehyung lifts a hand and rips open the universe, ushers Jeongguk in, and when they step out, Jeongguk finds that they’re at a park, just before sunset.

“Here,” Taehyung smiles, pointing to an unoccupied bench under a hundred-year-old tree. He brushes off dead leaves before nudging Jeongguk’s shoulder to sit, following after him.

Jeongguk manages a weak smile, huffing a laugh when Taehyung rests his cheek against Jeongguk’s shoulder and pockets their hands in his coat. “Is this empty park the ‘something’ you wanted to show me?”

“Shhh,” Taehyung wrinkles his nose, reaching a hand to pinch Jeongguk’s arm lightly. “Just wait.”

They sit in silence for a couple of minutes, not really minding at all the few people passing them by.

Another difference between gods and mortal beings is, gods can see human beings and remain hidden from them, unless they intend to show themselves otherwise. So they stay undisturbed, simply enjoying being in each other’s presence. Something that Jeongguk knows they hadn’t been for a long while.

And then Taehyung’s perking up beside him, spine straightening as he squeezes Jeongguk’s hand in a moment of excitement.

Jeongguk looks up, following Taehyung’s line of sight and is greeted by a figure — a man — who can’t be older than twenty-two dressed in a green bomber jacket and a pair of skinny black jeans, bangs flattened against his forehead by a red beanie. Before Jeongguk has the chance to voice his confusion, Taehyung speaks up.

“When you were going on dates, I’ve been visiting Earth alone a lot,” Taehyung hums, eyes trained on the man slowly approaching the pair. He seems to be on his phone talking rather animatedly with his earphones plugged in and screen held a few inches away from his face, “And I found this human being — his name’s Park Jimin — and he reminds me a lot of you, actually. He’s like this giant human baby-cinnamon roll-marshmallow fusion and I’ve been keeping tabs on him ever since.”

Jeongguk snorts, brows creasing in feigned dissatisfaction as he observes the man further, “Hey, how is he like me, I’m way more handsome than he is —”

“Shh, I’m not done yet, Jeon Jeongguk, don’t interrupt me,” Taehyung cuts him off, snapping his teeth at him playfully, the corners of his lips tugging upward into a grin, “Listen. So I found out about Park Jimin a week ago and I also discovered that he’s going to find love today. Watch. He’s going to meet the love of his life in a couple of seconds, you’ll see.”

So Jeongguk watches, a small, amused smile hanging on his lips as he starts sensing Taehyung’s own excitement seeping through his own skin.

Park Jimin continues talking on his phone actively, completely unaware of his surroundings. (Jeongguk distantly hears him whining to somebody on the phone, catching only the end of the name, “—Jin-hyung”, he said). He’s laughing, eyes scrunching into these tiny crescents with his cheeks bunching up (and just like any other cheesy Romcom movies Jeongguk had suffered through), when he bumps into The One. Apparently. With the way Taehyung’s nearly cutting off his arm’s blood supply, he’s guessed that’s him.

“Ah!” He hears Jimin squeak — it’s a nice voice, sweet and light, much like cotton candy that melts on your tongue. “I’m — I’m so sorry, I wasn’t looking and I didn’t mean to, and I’m sorry!” He apologizes over and over again, the initially startled expression dissolving into a worried look, barely looking up as he bows repeatedly.

“Don’t sweat it, kid,” The One mutters, and Jeongguk’s pleasantly surprised that his voice is the complete opposite of Park Jimin’s, the missing ingredient to Taehyung’s Perfect(ly Cliché) Love Story Recipe. It’s probably surprised Jimin as well, as he lifts his head in a snap, eyes proceeding to widen along with his lips curving into a little ‘o’. Jeongguk lets out a snort, because in what universe is this actually possibly happening. Taehyung glows a little warmer beside him.

“I’m really — really sorry, I didn’t do anything wrong did I? Did I scratch your camera?” Jimin gestures at the camera hanging around the other’s neck, voice quivering even after he gets over his initial shock. From this angle, Jeongguk can’t see much of how The One looks like, but judging from how Jimin’s fingers are visibly shaking, even from a distance, he can guess how much the other finds him beautiful.

“No, not really,” Jimin’s shoulders noticeably relaxes in relief, and then The One’s voice playfully pipes up, “Except you just ruined the sunset shot I’ve been waiting for hours for, and it’s for a project due tomorrow, too.”

“Ah!” Jimin squawks, turning horribly red in an instant — in embarrassment or disbelief, Jeongguk’s not too sure — but he’s suddenly looking so Highly Distressed that Jeongguk almost (almost) pities the man. “I’m, I’m so sorry, oh my god, is there anything I can do to help? Ah, of course, I can’t — I can’t make you a sunset! Ah! I’m just so sorry I’m so clumsy I wasn’t looking and —”

A low, airy chuckle carries over to them and Jimin stops jumping around nervously in an instant, looking at the other with wide, panicked eyes.

“Mm, I’m pretty sure you can help in one way,” he says. Jeongguk can hear the impish grin in his voice. “Our project was to capture something other-worldy beautiful, and I couldn’t think of anything other than the classic sunset. But now I have something else in mind.”

“Oh… um…” Jimin is Very, Very Bad at trying to hide his blush, Jeongguk notices, and Taehyung is literally like a star next to him now. His hand wrapped around Jeongguk’s like his own personal heater, warm but not painful to the touch. A heavy, comforting feeling. Jeongguk loves seeing Taehyung like this, and immediately, Jeongguk finds himself liking this couple. “I’d love to help you… if I can?”

“Great,” the other says, emitting another chuckle, “I just need you to model for me for a little while — actually, no, it’ll probably take long to get good enough shots. Is that okay?”

“Y-yeah, sure! I don’t have anything to do anyway,” Jimin’s reply is immediate, and he blushes harder, stumbling over his words and looking at anything but the man holding the camera in place.

Jeongguk hears a click, an amused laugh, and a weak whine, in that particular order.

The man is looking at the photo he’s just taken with a soft smile, eyes flickering upward from the little monitor to Jimin’s flushed face, a knowing glint in his eyes. “This looks good, but I’m afraid I’ll have to take some more to have something to compare with. Do you want to get coffee while we’re at it?”

Jimin says yes.

They end up getting coffee later on, and The One (“Min Yoongi,” he says with a boyish grin later on, when he asks for Jimin’s name and Jimin shyly asks for his in return.) ends up with a couple of photos of Park Jimin to take home with, along with a long string of numbers written on the back of his hand in black ink.

(Taehyung is completely glowing by the end of it. Love trickling out of his pores like stardust cascading from God’s eyes.

Jeongguk grins mischievously as they make their way back to the Kingdom, lips parting to say something when Taehyung holds up a luminous hand, fingertips blinking like fireflies.

“No, Jeon Jeongguk, I do not want to know who will die first and who will die weeping after their deceased lover. I actually have gotten very fond of Park Jimin and Min Yoongi, So Let Me Live.”

“I was not about to ruin their love story for you,” Jeongguk fakes a gasp, looking affronted as he presses a hand to his chest, “I was trying to say that they’re going to die thinking of each other. Isn’t that sweet?”

Taehyung snorts. Rolls his eyes at Jeongguk. But holds onto his hand tighter anyway.

Here’s something Jeongguk doesn’t tell Taehyung: One of them will die way earlier before the other. But it doesn’t matter, not really. Not when they spend the rest of their waking lives loving each other so much that Taehyung would shine a little brighter each day.)

*

When they arrive back at the Kingdom, Taehyung returns to being Jeongguk’s wingman right away, not missing a beat as he lets go of Jeongguk’s hand, lips stretching into a ridiculously wide grin as he declares, “Alright! I’m feeling so energized right now, I feel like I can do better and finally find your perfect match, Gukkie! Don’t worry, I got this now. Just leave it all to me, eh?”

Leaving Jeongguk to wither and decay by himself once more.

“I can’t believe you’re still moping and shit,” Hoseok grumbles, kicking through Jeongguk’s dirty pile of clothes on the floor with his fingers pinching his nose shut whilst keeping his other hand to himself. “I told you to go big or go home, what happened.”

“I went home, Hoseok-hyung, I went home bloodied and empty-handed,” Jeongguk mutters from underneath his pile of blankets, feeling cold and dead to the world.

“Shut your mouth and actually tell me what happened,” Hoseok finally makes it to his bed, sinking down into the mattress as he tries to unearth Jeongguk from beneath the pile.

“I don’t know what you want me to do — do I shut up or do I speak —”

“For fuck’s sake, Jeon Jeongguk, stop beating around the bush and actually just tell me what happened.” Hoseok actually explodes, somehow finding Jeongguk and perfectly landing a Critical Hit against the back of his head.

“Ouch, fuck, don’t do that!” Jeongguk flinches away from Hoseok’s hand and whimpers, burying further into his cocoon of warmth, before speaking up in an almost inaudible voice, “Taehyung still has no idea I love him and I’m ignoring him now.”

“What?”

“I said, Taehyung has —”

“I know what I heard I mean, what?” Hoseok growls, looking at Jeongguk with the nastiest glare ever to grace the whole thousand universes. “Why the fuck are you avoiding him now?”

“I’m just…” Jeongguk sighs, glancing at anywhere else other than Hoseok’s inquiring (and aflame) eyes, “I’m just so tired, hyung. It’s… It’s breaking me. Whenever I go on the dates Taehyung sets up for me, I just feel worse, you know? Because why else can he set me up on dates without feeling anything? Because he doesn’t love me back. And you know what hurts more than not having the one you’re hopelessly in love with love you back? Nothing. Nothing, hyung. I’ve been through all nine circles of hell and nothing hurts worse than this.”

Hoseok falls silent at Jeongguk’s sudden confession. Not wanting to let him suffer any longer but not really finding it his place to speak up about the situation.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Hoseok says, losing his initial aggressiveness and patting Jeongguk through the blanket instead. Sees the defeated curl of Jeongguk’s spine and prays to God that He knows what he’s doing, “It’s gonna be okay.”

Jeongguk can only hope so.

*

Jeongguk ends up avoiding Taehyung to the best of his abilities. He ignores his texts, calls, and anything he does to reach out to Jeongguk. The first day Jeongguk attempts avoiding him, all he gets are texts about his dates, and it’s just so stupid. How they’ve been reduced to Taehyung setting him up on dates and they’ve been through years and years together. How’d it become like this?

And of course, he caves in after merely two days. He sends Taehyung a simple message that said, “I’m really tired and I don’t want to do it anymore. Sorry, Tae.” and his phone stops buzzing after that. And Taehyung has never given up so quickly like this before, always clinging onto Jeongguk’s arm pestering him about the dates, but Jeongguk guesses it must’ve been because Jeongguk’s never actively avoided Taehyung that when he did it this time, Taehyung finally got the hint.

Why must he get the hint of wanting to be avoided this one time, and not the multitude of hints Jeongguk’s given him of his Passionate Love for the past hundred years?

And on the third day, Jeongguk goes to Earth by himself to brood over the events that had transpired the whole past month. What had initially been just him whining to Namjoon about his pathetic love for Taehyung like he always does, became something that may have potentially ruined everything he’s built and had with the same being for years. So nobody can really blame him if he just really internalized the Emo that came along with his title.

His feet somehow lead him to Yoongi and Jimin unconsciously. He remembers the couple from the day Taehyung brought him to Earth after a while. It has probably been four? five days since then. And somehow, the pair had only gotten increasingly closer.

Human relationships are still hugely a mystery to Jeongguk.

How can someone ever be so ready to give themselves up so willingly to somebody else they can’t guarantee would do the same for them? How can someone be so brave to claim that they’d love somebody forever, that they would stay with this somebody until death? The thought makes Jeongguk scoff. Human beings don’t know how Forever feels like. They don’t even know how Death feels like. Jeongguk’s been through both — has been living through both for eternity, and he simply can’t understand how someone with such little idea of what those two complex words mean use them in such a painfully simple context. Love? Forever? Death?

Jeon Jeongguk knows that deep inside he, the God of Death himself, is afraid of Love, Forever, and Death.

And maybe that’s what stops him from confessing to Taehyung.

Knows that if he commits a mistake — if confessing to Taehyung brings them apart instead of closer — he’ll have to live through it Forever. Nobody knows Forever like Jeongguk does. And he knows it won’t kill him, but it’ll make him wish that it would.

He watches as Yoongi, probably for the first time ever since they’ve met, reach out for Jimin’s hand in the middle of the street.

The street lights color their faces a dull shade of yellow, and the wind ruffles their mops of hair into messes. But Jeongguk sees their eyes reflect the moon and the stars in the dark. Hears Jimin’s laugh ring like sweet church bells on a silent night.

He wonders if him and Taehyung are ever going to be like that.

*

Jeongguk wastes his days away like this.

When he’s not out reaping and collecting souls, he’s watching the couple bloom quietly in the background of the busy streets of Seoul.

It’s nearly a week and a half now, and the pair has yet to be officially together. Jeongguk follows them as they go on different dates, mostly out of boredom, but always with a hint of curiosity.

Most of the time, they go out for casual coffee breaks. Where Jimin would order a drink that would make Yoongi wrinkle his nose in disgust, “you’re asking for diabetes to be your friend, aren’t you?”, and Jimin would exaggeratedly sip on the drink just to make Yoongi gag. Sometimes, they’d take these long aimless walks in the park, where Yoongi would take hundreds of photos of Jimin, both candid and composed, and secretly print the ones he loves the most later. And that one time Yoongi had taken Jimin to a planetarium, where they’d lie down on the floor and connected stars with their fingertips.

And it never fails to make Jeongguk’s soul ache with how much he’s misses Taehyung.

Seeing the way Yoongi looks at Jimin, the way Jimin laughs at everything Yoongi does, the little things — Yoongi putting flowers in Jimin’s hair, Jimin making silly faces at the people who grunt when they hold hands in public, Jimin running the tip of his nose down Yoongi’s neck comfortingly when the other feels down — it reminds him of Taehyung. All of it.

Because now, he can see it from an outsider’s perspective and just know, that’s probably how they looked like. To Namjoon, Hoseok. He remembers how Yugyeom had known with one look at Jeongguk. He’d known.

And maybe everyone who followed after him knew, too.

It feels like Jeongguk’s made a mistake he can’t undo now.

*

That’s how Taehyung finds him.

Days later, when Jeongguk indulges himself in his only solace, knowing that him and Taehyung were once like how Jimin and Yoongi are.

Jimin has taken Yoongi out for the day. When Jeongguk had arrived earlier, he’d overheard Jimin talking about how Yoongi had been pushing himself to work harder the past few days and in return, had effectively neglected his health, so Jimin decided on taking care of him today. Jeongguk finds it a little funny, how Jimin had talked big on his “Healing trip” with Yoongi, but somehow they’d ended up entering a cosy, little ice cream parlour barely three blocks away from Yoongi’s apartment.

He watches from two tables away, when Jimin dips a finger into the vanilla ice cream between them, Yoongi’s face twisting in disgust as he chastises the younger, and Jimin paying no heed as he smears the cold treat against the older’s cheek.

Taehyung slides into the seat next to him so quietly that Jeongguk wouldn’t have known if he hadn’t felt him first.

“Hey,” Taehyung says softly, and Jeongguk hates how he knows he’s the reason why Taehyung’s voice trembles at the end. “They look like they’re doing great, huh?”

Jeongguk hums in agreement, doing his best to hold himself together but failing almost immediately when he turns to look at Taehyung. What he sees ultimately disintegrates his heart into pieces.

Taehyung looks beautiful, as he always have been (always will be). But there’s something in his eyes that cuts deep into Jeongguk’s soul — the one that reaches into the deepest, darkest parts of him and curls its tendrils around his core, soothing the pulsing ache yet at the same time being the source of his downfall.

Taehyung is broken, that much Jeongguk knows. And it completely destroys him that he knows he’s the one who’s done this to his beautiful Taehyung.

“I just knew they’d be one of the best couples to ever be,” Taehyung manages to laugh, the sound brittle and falling flat to Jeongguk’s ears. “They’re perfect for each other.”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk finally manages to say.

There’s another painfully long minute of silence, and Jeongguk almost reaches out for Taehyung’s hand when Taehyung’s voice cracks.

“I just want to know why you did it,” Taehyung turns to finally look at him, and Jeongguk has to force himself to keep his eyes on Taehyung, because he’s a coward at heart and even though he’s witnessed millions of people die every year in different ways some more brutal than others, this is the one thing he can’t bare to watch. Taehyung becoming undone before him. “I know I may have pushed you a little. But I’ve known you since conception. And it hurt a lot, when you avoided me. Can I at least have an explanation? Even if it’s a lie. I’ll take it.”

Jeongguk stays silent, stays like that looking into Taehyung’s solemn eyes, catching a glimpse of the flame of his soul flickering inside of him — a tired little thing, but courageous until the end. And he wonders, how Taehyung still remains to be the bravest being he knows, when here he is, the god of death, cowering in the face of confrontations. He hates it. Hates it so much when nothing comes out of his mouth and watches Taehyung visibly swallow around the lump stuck in his throat with tears glistening at the corners of his eyes.

“I know it’s stupid, what I did was stupid. Hoseok-hyung told me it wouldn’t do anything but hurt me, hurt the both of us,” Taehyung says softly, voice cutting like a sharp blade into the thick silence that had settled in between them, “I didn’t think it would push you away from me. I only ever wanted you to be happy with love. Even if it wasn’t with me — I was ready for that. I was ready to see you fall for somebody else who wasn’t me, and I thought I could do it. I’d watch you go on dates with people I’ve set you up with and it was so stupid, you know? But I thought, ‘okay Taehyung, it’s time to let go of what isn’t yours now.’ I love you like that, please know. I love you so much that I was ready to give you away, if it meant you could finally be in love and be happy. Please understand that I did all of that because I love you, I only wanted the best for you. I’m sorry.”

“Taehyung, I,” Jeongguk starts, ends up cutting himself off right after a second. He’s startled and confused — mind going haywire with what had just spilled from Taehyung’s mouth — and this isn’t right. Taehyung isn’t supposed to be in love with him, Taehyung isn’t supposed to be the one who’s sorry. He’s done nothing wrong but be wonderful and lovely and Jeongguk has hurt him so much, this isn’t right.

Flames lick at his insides and his flesh is trembling, his whole being is shaking because god. God, all the love he has for the being who sits before him can’t be contained in the hollow spaces of his insides anymore.

He finds that there’s no other way out of this than telling the truth, like how he should’ve since the beginning. He lets go, hanging onto the delicate, thin thread of courage that wraps around his soul, and surges on.

“I’m in love with you. I’ve been in love with you since Forever, hell, before Forever. And I’ve thought about telling you of it years ago, but then I thought about how we’ve been friends ever since, best friends even — and I didn’t want to lose that. I didn’t want to lose you, all because I got selfish and wanted more. I didn’t want to lose you in Forever, and live after Forever without having you by my side because fuck if something went wrong between the two of us and we’d drift apart, God knows I won’t be able to live through it. So I chose the cowardly way, loving you from afar without ever giving you the chance to know about it. Namjoon-hyung and Hoseok-hyung know about it, and that time, when you overheard me talking about love about Namjoon-hyung, it was about you. It’s always about you. You have to know, I’ve only ever loved you. In my whole existence, with my whole soul. So I’m sorry. I’m sorry for making you think I wanted somebody else, when all this time I’ve only ever wanted you. Always you. I’m sorry for avoiding you when all I really wanted was to be with you. All this time.”

Jeongguk hasn’t noticed that he’s closed his eyes during his confession until he’s actually opened them, let the light flood his vision and that’s when he sees that Taehyung is radiating — he’s glowing so brightly, Jeongguk can’t see where his fingertips begin and where the strands of his hair ends — and he’s beautiful, just like this. The comforting weight of his warmth resting against Jeongguk’s side.

“You’re an idiot,” Taehyung says, gleams brighter when he throws his head back and laughs that wonderful sound Jeongguk can listen to forever (has listened to forever), “You’re an idiot, oh my god, all this time I thought I — oh my god, Jeon Jeongguk, you should’ve just said so! You could’ve saved us so much trouble.”

“I —”

“Oh my god, I’m so in love with you. Why am I in love with you — I’ve been in love with you since Forever, before Forever. Goddamnit, those were my lines. Why’d you have to go and steal them from me?”

Taehyung makes a noise at the back of his throat; exasperation, relief, joy. And then he throws his arms around Jeongguk’s neck, pulls him in to close the distance between them, presses a smile against Jeongguk’s lips. He laughs a little against his mouth, and Jeongguk drinks in the sound and keeps it warm and secure in his belly. It’s his to keep for Forever.

Jeongguk finally finds out that Taehyung’s lips are warm, soft, and tastes like home. Home to Jeongguk.

He’s still smiling when he pulls back, Jeongguk catching the upturned ends of his lips through the gleam.

“I can’t believe you were so oblivious, I’ve liked you since forever, Gukkie.”

What…

“Me? Oblivious?”

“Obviously, it can’t be me. I worked my ass off just to make you notice. You never did.”

“But when?!”

“Uh, hello. Tickle wars? Taking you out on walks to see dogs?”

“Those are your hints for your love?”

“Well, they’re infinitely better than skulls! I can’t believe you gave me skulls for every single day for twenty seven years!”

“What — does that mean you didn’t like them?”

“Who likes skulls?!”

“Uh, everybody? Skulls are great and very versatile, you can use them as accessories! Rings, crowns, and candle holders! And door knobs! And —”

“Jeon Jeongguk, shut up before I take back my I love you’s.”

“Never.”

*

Park Jimin is in the process of secretly plucking a yellow wildflower from a nearby bush in a park where a sign “Keep Off The Grass” stood (one that Jimin very conveniently ignores in favor of stealing a couple of flowers) when a voice sounds overhead, forcing him to pull his hand and hide it behind his back almost instantly, face flooding with red.

“Um, uh. I wasn’t picking anything!”

Smooth, real smooth, Park Jimin.

The man before him, Jimin observes, is wearing a black turtleneck underneath a black coat, and when he reaches out to offer the same wildflower Jimin has had his eyes on a mere second ago, his fingers are covered with a black glove.

Jimin tentatively reaches out for the flower, looking at the man with suspicious eyes.

“Uh… thanks.”

The man simply looks at him, cocking his head as if studying Jimin, and Jimin would like it if he could stop doing that, thank you very much, he has a boyfriend waiting for him back there — and god damn it, why did Yoongi have to fall asleep in the middle of the grass, and okay, Jimin only wanted to put flowers in his hair as a prank now there’s this creepy dude hitting on him and just —

“Do you love him?”

“What?” The man’s question startles Jimin, but he does nothing, only looking at Jimin as if searching for an answer. Jimin slowly nods, pursing his lips into a thin line.

“Yeah, I mean… we’ve been together for three years now and I really do love him,” Jimin confesses to the stranger, though why, he doesn’t know. There’s just something about the way he’s staring at Jimin, like he’s known Jimin forever and it just feels oddly comfortable talking to him about it.

The man doesn’t respond, simply lifts the corner of his lips into a half smile and disappears in a flash of white, leaving Jimin alone with a yellow wildflower in hand and a sleepy boyfriend calling for him.

“Huh,” Jimin frowns, eyes widening for a fraction before he shakes his head, staring at the empty space before him when he opens his eyes once more.

He stares some more, willing the figure to reappear, until he hears Yoongi’s worried voice sounding from the distance. He glances at the flower between his fingers and looks back up, shrugging. Opting to forget about the weird occurrence, and running back to where his boyfriend laid on his back, waiting for him to return.

There’s a light, a bright white light, shining on everything that grows out of love. A light that never ceases, perhaps, because love can be found every where. A light that never goes away, perhaps, because even in the darkest, deepest cracks between walls and skin lies a tiny seed of love, carefully tucked in between with gentle, loving hands.

There’s a light, a bright white light, and it continues to shine, day and night. Sun rise and sun fall. Perhaps, because beside this bright white light is not life nor death, but a being put into existence to fall in love with the light that fell on everything, even on the hopeless and the dark.

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