The audacity of the man! Taehyung didn't ever take his emotions into the office but he'd paced the room, glared at his PA to the point where the poor boy swiftly closed the door and walked out and pressed the keys on his keyboard hard enough that the sound bounced off the walls. Once the shock subsided that the busker had so nonchalantly turned his back on him, he had to consider his options. There wasn't anyone he could speak to about it because he knew what his friends would say and he didn’t even really know what to say to them. He didn’t have a sounding board and could've done with someone completely disconnected to his life to rant at. He had considered phoning one of his group but they would ask why it matters so much and Taehyung didn't have an answer for that. They would definitely question why Taehyung was allowing a busker to wind him up so much when he should just be able to shrug him off but he wouldn't be able to respond to that either. Usually, when it came to a problem, Taehyung would make a decision based on research and facts, perhaps seek the knowledge of an expert but this situation didn't seem to fit any of his usual issues. There may be times when he would seek out his Mother or Father for advice but it was all a bit spontaneous and ad-hoc right at this moment in time and they would be at work.
“Stefan, could you come in here please?” he said, choosing to walk to the door instead of using the phone.
Stefan looked up sharply and fumbled around as he stood up, he dithered a bit and rushed out from behind his desk, grabbing his tablet in case he needed to take notes.
“You won’t need that.” Taehyung said, pointing at the tablet in his hands as he gestured for the boy to sit down.
“You won’t need me to take notes, Sir?” Stefan looked at his boss with his big blue eyes and blonde hair curling around his face. Taehyung always thought he looked angelic and much younger than he was.
“No, not right this minute. I need to brief you on a personal situation and would prefer this conversation to be confidential.” Taehyung walked over to his coffee machine, he didn’t like coffee, it was far too bitter but he could swallow an espresso if the need arose and right now, he couldn't really have a glass of brandy so coffee would have to do.
Stefan was confused, the words his boss had uttered made sense but it was definitely not a familiar situation he found himself in. “Everything that happens here is confidential, Mr Kim, Sir.”
“One or the other, Stefan, please just settle on Sir or Mr Kim.”
“An apology isn’t necessary.”
“Okay, Mr Kim.” Stefan shuffles a little in his seat.
“This personal situation is causing me a bit of bother and it is something I’m not accustomed to so I need to run it past someone. Are you comfortable with that?”
“Oh...err… yes, Sir… sorry… Mr Kim.” this was indeed, unfamiliar territory.
Taehyung sighed, he may have to give up on how Stefan addresses him altogether because he spends more time correcting him than anything else.
“The thing is that I met this man on the subway and the situation is a little dire. It has no future and it can’t go anywhere but I’m finding it increasingly problematic to distance myself.” Taehyung sat down behind his desk.
Stefan was blinking more than usual “When you say that you met someone? Do you mean romantically?”
Taehyung suspected that he wasn’t being very clear but this wasn’t something he did often. “No, well, I don’t think so.”
“I’m sorry, Sir but I’m not quite sure what it is that you are asking me. How did you meet this man?”
Taehyung cringed internally as he knew he would have to admit it and he hadn’t said it out loud yet “He was singing on the platform.”
Stefan didn’t look shocked or surprised, he looked like he was deep in thought and concentrating on the information that he was being provided with. It was his unfazed expression that told Taehyung that he’d made the right choice to speak to him about it. His friends would definitely have formed an opinion the second the words left his mouth and there wasn't an ounce of uncertainty about that and he knew they would be correct in every piece of advice that followed. If this was Hobi or Namjoon telling him this story, he would be giving them the same advice that he knows they would give him, he'd been there before and knows he should be taking the advice he'd given them in the past.
"Okay, so you started talking to him when you saw him singing? He's a busker, right?" Stefan felt comfortable talking to his boss but wasn't quite sure how free he could be when it came to asking questions so tried to phrase them appropriately.
"Yes, I started talking to him then and yes he busks."
"Have you spoken to him just the once?"
"Stefan, if I'd only spoken to him once, I wouldn't be discussing this with you."
"Yes, Mr Kim Sir, but you have to understand that I am trying to grasp the issue."
"There is definitely an issue, I can assure you of that."
"So… you have spoken to this man several times?" this was like a puzzle that he was trying to make sense of.
"Yes. We have been for a smoothie and we've had lunch. I've also eaten at the place he works at and he spent his break talking to me."
"Wow, okay…" Stefan sat back to let the new information sink in.
"What do you mean by 'wow'? Why 'wow'?" Taehyung asked.
"Because there must be mutual attraction there in order to have spent so much time together. Would you mind if I continued asking questions and speaking my thoughts out loud, Sir?"
Taehyung leaned back in his leather chair and pivoted from side to side "By all means." He was more than happy to answer questions and allow Stefan to dictate this conversation because it meant he wouldn't be offering any information up that wasn't needed… like the worn boots that really bothered him or the fact that the only reason they'd had the smoothie and the hotdog was because of the money and the terms he'd been presented with.
"Have you kissed him?" he did wonder if this question was a little too personal but he came to the conclusion that he had to get the full picture if he is to offer his opinion.
Taehyung recoiled "what? No, absolutely not."
Stefan smiled "But you do like him? As a person? You must like him to spend time with him."
"I suppose I like him, yes."
"And he must like you so let us presume that he does. Why do you say there is no future in it?" he was running over everything the CEO had said.
Taehyung found this whole conversation incredibly uncomfortable. "Because we are two very different people and even if I was interested in him romantically, which I'm not, it has no legs so to speak."
"Excuse me for being so bold and speaking so freely, Sir but if you are not interested in him romantically, I doubt we would be having this conversation at all."
"Hypothetically, let's say I am, only hypothetically."
Stefan forced away the smile that threatened his face. "Okay, hypothetically, you are both interested in a romantic relationship but you feel you are too different, right?"
"Surely that is all a part of the enjoyment of getting to know someone? You would be introducing each other into worlds that you've not experienced and will be treated to new things. That has to be more interesting than meeting someone who dines at the same places, watches the same shows, visits the same venues?"
Taehyung admired Stefan’s outlook, it sounded so simplistic.
"I suppose you could look at it like that but what if we are too different, our worlds are too extreme?"
"Mr Kim, Sir, I am sure there is common ground somewhere. The world you live in is what you make it and if you both really want to be together, you will find beauty in each other."
“That sounds like you read too much fiction, Stefan or perhaps you watch too many dramas?”
“May I suggest that you do not watch or read enough, sir?”
“You are free to suggest what you will during this conversation. It doesn’t change the notion that the cavern between our lives is vast in this hypothetical situation.”
“My honest opinion is that there is a foundation there, there must be for you to have come this far. You just have to live in the moment, if you enjoy his company then that’s a start. If you both want to spend time together, you will find a way. Things are black and white, Mr Kim, you either like him enough to pursue this or you don’t and if you don’t then your choice is simple. The only grey areas are the ones you are putting there yourself.”
Taehyung was concentrating on everything his young, angelic PA was saying and perhaps the grey areas were put there by his own thought process. He wasn’t convinced by everything he was saying but at the very least it was food for thought and Taehyung liked to learn from his mistakes. It was obvious that he continued making mistakes with Jungkook but he couldn’t understand what he was doing wrong, each mistake different, which didn’t help. He wasn’t usually bothered if someone liked him or not but he did want Jungkook to like him, he knew that much, he didn’t know why but he knew he did.
“It doesn’t feel so simple.” he muttered.
Stefan stood to leave “Sir, the situation doesn’t feel simple because there are feelings involved, they might only be fledgling feelings but they are there and they will muddy the waters.”
“Thank you for your time, Stefan. I realise this is a little out of the ordinary and not part of your job description.”
“It really isn’t any trouble, Mr Kim, I hope you can work things out. He must be a nice guy to be causing you this much trouble.”
As Stefan left Taehyung’s office, his words floated through the air and danced around his head. Was it trouble? Did he have feelings? The latter felt like a stretch if he was honest, he hadn’t really decided whether he liked Jungkook all that much, he had to assume that he must like him though… but feelings?
Ash was laughing, the type of laugh that echoed around the bus he was currently on.
"If we weren't in public I would beat you." the words forced out through gritted teeth.
"Well at least you won't have to worry about KTH anymore eh?" Ash said, shoving Jungkook with his shoulder.
"Why?" There was a lot of confusion on Jungkook’s face.
"I quote: the man is a fucking arsehole and I hate him." Ash raised his eyebrows.
"Yes, well, that is true."
"So you won't be seeing him again then? Because I wouldn't be spending time with someone I hate, who is a fucking arsehole, oh and an arrogant prick." Ash looked smug.
"I don’t know if I'm seeing him again, he hasn't text me."
"Oh, so you will see him again if he wants to see you? Does that make him less of an arsehole?"
"Ash, fuck off."
Ash laughed again "The sooner you stop being a prick, yourself, the sooner you can just admit you like him and then we can discuss what you think he's like between the sheets."
Jungkook shoved his friend again "And why would I want to discuss that with you?"
Ash winked and giggled "You didn't deny you like him and you have definitely thought about being fucked by him."
"I've told you before, I do the fucking, not the other way around."
"So you wouldn't bottom for KTH?"
"No, I wouldn't."
"Well that's confirmed that you've thought about it."
"So what if I have?"
Ash was laughing again "I love these conversations, we always find out how right I am eventually. It wouldn’t be as much fun though if you admitted it all straight away."
"You are the most annoying person I have ever known and will probably ever know."
"That is why I deserve that annex in your mansion once you and KTH are married with a dog."
"It was a cat last time?"
"Now you have a dog too."
"What next? A horse?"
"You will definitely have stables! You do like him then? Because this is one hell of a conversation if you don't."
"I'm humouring you with this hypothetical situation."
"Oh, is that what you're doing? Silly me."
"I thought you might shut up sooner if I play along."
Ash laughed out loud "I might be annoying but you are in denial so much that I'm convinced you were a Pharaoh in your past life."
"What has Egypt got to do with this?"
"That’s where De Nile is"
"Oh my god, please stop."
Ash was far too busy laughing, tears welling in his eyes, he didn’t notice the bus had stopped until Jungkook was dragging him off.
Jungkook apologised to the bus driver for taking so long to exit the vehicle and hoped his friend would pull himself together soon. "You are ridiculous. How do you crack yourself up like that? You don't make anyone else laugh."
"I do. But that was comedy gold. I'm funny."
Jungkook was about to respond when his phone vibrated in his pocket.
Are you working at the diner today?
Yes, on my way there now, why?
I would like to join you for your break and an iced latte.
A hot vanilla latte and I will consider it.
If you will let me buy it as an apology for the park then I will see you later.
Jungkook stared at the message, stopping a few steps short of the diner “oh my god” he said to himself but Ash heard.
“What? Is that the hated one?”
“He wants to apologise.”
“He said ‘for the park’ so I’m presuming he means when he annoyed me.”
Ash grabbed Jungkook by the arm and moved him out of the way as people walked around them “Is he less hated now?”
“If I admit that I like him will you stop throwing my words back at me?”
“No because it’s funny and your contradictions amuse me.”
Jungkook rolled his eyes “I should let him apologise though or that makes me a prick.”
“You are a prick.”
“Thanks. It takes one to know one.”
“Does his apology involve shoving his dick up your ass?”
Jungkook decided that it was better to ignore his friend “he wants to join me on my break today.”
“Definitely say yes, absolutely yes. I get to see how much you hate each other in person.”
“You are staying away from us while he is here, got it?”
“Understood…. maybe .” Ash said with a wink and a wicked grin.
“Ash! I mean it! Please?”
“Why are you so bothered huh? I will stay out of the way so I can be officially introduced when he walks out of your bedroom in his Gucci panties.”
“I’m not bothered and I’m ignoring that last part.”
“You carry on, Tutankhamun.”
They walked into Dino’s and Jungkook replied to the text as he was getting himself ready, Ash giving him a wink and a shove while laughing.
Your terms for the apology are accepted. My break should be at 8pm.
Taehyung read the reply and a small smile formed, he liked the banter between them, that was one thing he knew for sure, he found the busker to be quite witty when he wasn’t being rude. He looked at the time and decided he would stay at the office and work until it was time to leave. The screen in front of him had Google glaring at him, he needed to decide on where their next meeting would be after today and he had no idea where to take him. The first thought was to take the busker to his favourite restaurant but he quickly dismissed that idea because faded combats and worn boots wouldn't get him into the street it was in, let alone past security on the door. It would look like he was treating a homeless person to dinner and he quickly moved on with his thoughts.
They were too different.
Jungkook was sure that time had slowed dramatically, he kept checking the large clock on the wall, which he loathed himself for doing, especially when Ash caught him doing it.
"You really must be dreading seeing KTH, checking the clock for the moment of doom eh?"
Jungkook wanted to wipe the very smug grin off of his friend's face but he would only respond with something annoying like "Thou does protest too much" Which is exactly what he said 30 minutes later when Jungkook was trying to sneak a glance at the time.
Taehyung was like a rash. The type that irritates you constantly but when it isn't there anymore, the feeling lingers and you sort of miss it being there because you'd got used to it. Perhaps a rash wasn't the best analogy but he couldn't think of anything else to try and explain why he couldn't get the man out of his mind. The plan to get Taehyung to not want to stalk him anymore wasn't really going too well and he didn't understand why he bothered. They were so different, everywhere Jungkook had taken him, he'd stood out like a sore thumb and he didn't look impressed with any of it. He had enjoyed watching him with the hotdog though, it amused Jungkook immensely how he acted as if it was the first time he'd eaten one.
"Stop daydreaming, lover boy is here" Ash said nudging Jungkook who was staring into space while preparing drinks for table four.
"Can you finish these? I've got 25 minutes until my break. I'll go and take his order."
"I can't wait to see you two snogging each other's faces off, being all sickly and lovey"
"You'll see that around the same time as you get that annex"
"I'll take that as you inviting me to live with you both, thanks"
"Shut up, Ash."
Ash just grinned as Jungkook walked out into the main restaurant area to meet the man who looked like a model as always. Jungkook wondered how he looked impeccable after being at work all day, his grey suit uncreased, his tie, perfectly straight and his hair fluffier than he'd seen it but still styled to perfection. He considered that he'd gone home to change but the briefcase told him otherwise so he was happy to presume he'd come straight from Purple Aura Towers (as the locals liked to call it).
Urgh! Jungkook was disgusted with himself when a smile naturally appeared when Taehyung looked at him approach, standing near the table as he placed his briefcase onto the seat first, sliding in after it. There really wasn't anything he should be smiling about, even if he was incredibly good looking and staring at him with a piercingly soft gaze.
"You're early." Jungkook said as he reached the table.
"One of us has to be." Taehyung responded.
"I already apologised for being late."
"I know and your apology was accepted, as I hope mine will be, for my misunderstood comments in the park. Good evening, by the way."
"Good evening. What would you like to order?" Jungkook didn't agree that it was a misunderstanding in the park, he genuinely believed that Taehyung thought he'd basically bought his time with him but they always seemed to start off on the wrong foot so he decided to see how his break went before he told him what his thoughts on the 'misunderstanding' were.
Taehyung looked amused but Jungkook wasn't entirely sure what was amusing.
"I will have some calamari, a lemon tea, a hot vanilla latte and you can choose another dish to share with me on your break."
Jungkook couldn't prevent himself from smiling at the emphasis on 'hot' since that's what he'd said in his text.
"I will be back with your order soon. If that is all?"
"It is. See you shortly."
Taehyung released the breath that he hadn’t realised he was holding as Jungkook turned and walked away. For a second there he thought he’d blown it again, the brief second he stopped smiling after he’d mentioned his lateness had Taehyung convinced things would go sour. He kind of got the impression that they rubbed each other up the wrong way but he couldn’t be something he wasn’t and he didn’t know what it was that kept getting him into trouble. There wasn’t anyone else in his life that he pissed off on a regular basis so it wasn’t a situation with which he was familiar, therefore he certainly didn’t know how to stop it happening. He’d thought a lot about everything Stefan said to him, the one thing he’d had to admit is that he did like Jungkook, he must do in order to explain why he persisted in coming back and wanting to see him. That was one tiny part of the puzzle in place but the remaining puzzle pieces had been placed into a big bag with the pieces of many different puzzles and shaken up and he had no idea how on earth he was going to complete it because he kept getting it wrong.
It was just after 8pm when the busker returned with Taehyung’s order, the two dishes and drinks balanced on one tray in his hands. As he placed the tray on the table Taehyung’s phone rang and he excused himself, answering the call as he made it out of the diner.
“Yes?” he said without looking at the screen.
“What a lovely greeting.” the soft tone of Jimin floated through the device. Taehyung always thought that he should have been a singer because he seemed to sing as he spoke.
“I didn’t look before I answered. What’s up?”
“Are you outside?”
“Mochi, what is it? I am positive that you haven’t called me to enquire about my view.”
“Did that deal with Moonchild fall through?”
“You sound like you’re in a bad mood and the last time we spoke you were waiting for a signature.”
“I’m not in a bad mood, I got the contract on Monday.”
“So, what’s eating you?”
“Nothing. Was there a reason for your call?”
“Obviously. I’m in town tomorrow evening, Jin flies in at 6pm and we’ve booked a table at Blue Side for 8pm.”
“I’ll be there.” Taehyung looked in through the window and could see Jungkook sitting alone at the table drinking his drink. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Sure. See you at 7:50.”
Taehyung put his phone in the inside pocket of his jacket and walked quickly into the diner, he felt bad for leaving Jungkook sitting alone and if he’d seen it was Jimin calling he would have returned the call later.
“I’m sorry about that.” he said, sliding into the seat opposite Jungkook.
“Something like that.”
“I ordered you loaded potato skins, it’s another favourite of mine. Enjoy.” Jungkook started to slide out from the booth.
“My break is nearly over.”
“I didn’t even get the chance to apologise.”
“You did, I just drank it.”
Taehyung felt rushed and annoyed, out of all the times that Jimin could have picked to phone him, it had to be during the short time he was meant to be smoothing things over with Jungkook. Now he didn’t have a plan and everything was rapidly flying out of the window “Could we try this again?”
“I was referring to us meeting up.”
“Tomorrow night, I’m free after six, why don’t you come to my place and I’ll cook?”
Jungkook had thought about places they could go after the park disaster. He considered ten pin bowling, cinema and the arcades but they all cost money which he didn't have in abundance right now. The extra money that Taehyung gave him was stored away for his school fees and dire emergencies should one crop up, like when their microwave blew up last Xmas because Ash left aluminium foil on the bowl he put in there. Money was tight and so he needed to come up with the cheapest ideas possible, one of those was to cook for Taehyung. It would probably just be dried ramen and chicken but he could ask the chef in the kitchen at Dino’s if he had any vegetables they were due to throw away as he was usually allowed to take it off their hands. He knew that if Marie knew he was asking the chef that she would probably cook an entire dinner, make out that it was leftovers and give it to him so sometimes he liked speaking to the chef without anyone else knowing. He also thought that perhaps… maybe… there was a possibility… a slim chance that a relaxed atmosphere might help Taehyung to stop being so annoying.
Tae was about to accept, even if his mind flooded with an element of surprise by the offer as well as instant concern about the sort of place he'd have to go to, when he remembered the call from Jimin.
"I can't do tomorrow, that phone call earlier was about tomorrow night."
Jungkook raised his eyebrows "the business call?" there was a tinge of skepticism in his voice.
"Yes, that call, I only had the one. Can we postpone for another evening?"
"I'm free the evening after? If it isn't too short notice for you."
"Had I not had that call, I may have been free tomorrow so the night after isn’t short notice. I will check my schedule but I am positive that I am available. Is 7pm suitable?"
"7 is fine. Should I text you my address?"
"I don't have superpowers, I can't read minds so yes please."
"I'm yet to discover anything super about you to be honest."
"I think I should add 'ruthless' to that list."
Taehyung looked at the man who had taken a step to the side so he was standing at the end of the table. He felt things had taken a nosedive again but he didn't know why… again.
"Well, my break is definitely over and I don't want to get into trouble, enjoy your food and thank you for the latte."
"You're welcome, I appreciate you ingesting my apology."
Jungkook gave Taehyung a small smile and walked towards the back of the diner. Ash stopped smiling as soon as he saw the look on Jungkook’s face, it didn’t look like his break had gone well at all. When Taehyung let the diner, he left a note for Jungkook that made him smile (to himself of course):
THIS COVERS THE FOOD AND BEVERAGES.
THE TIP IS FOR THE CHEF.
The tip was modest and slightly more than the average customer would leave but it did spark a small reaction in Jungkook… maybe there was a redeemable quality in Kim Taehyung after all.