"You look great! The same as when you asked 5 minutes ago and the 5 minutes before that and before that and…" Ash rolls his eyes.
"Alright! Alright! Okay… I get it… I'm just nervous."
Ash laughed "No… really? I'd never have guessed. What are you nervous about? You are going to be staying at KTH's home for the night and he's taking you on a proper date… why are you nervous? I'd be fucking buzzing."
"Because it's sorta the first time we will be really alone together… like… really alone. I know we've been alone in the car and here but there was always the chance that you would walk in… at his place, we will be alone."
Ash knew that laughing at his friend wasn't helpful but he couldn't help it, the way Jungkook was looking at him, eyes big, worried expression, cheeks tinged pink… it was hilarious. His friend had literally been fretting about what to wear for the past two days, finally settling on a pair of navy blue trousers which Ash lent him and his smartest pale blue shirt with open collar. It wasn't anything amazing but he felt kind of smart and thought he looked presentable. Marie insisted on doing his hair for him, blow drying it so it was more wavy than usual and stealing some of Billy's hair wax to put through it. The ebony waves sat around his face, the ends now going beyond his cheek bones, still undecided whether he prefers it longer or shorter but liking that he can tie it back when he needs to.
"I'd be nervous if I knew that I was about to fuck KTH too."
Jungkook rolled his eyes at his friend "Why did I even think that you would be any help?"
"That was your first mistake." he giggled "Seriously, Kookie Monster, just enjoy yourself. He is so into you and clearly wants you in him."
"Oh my god! You just can't stop for a second, can you?"
"If it was an actual crisis, I would be serious but this is in no way, shape or form… a crisis."
"It is… it is a crisis. This is the first proper date and then I'm going home with him and I'm cooking for him."
"Did you get everything you need? Even that was stupid, you should've just let him get the food in. He could have a whole fridge full of fucking mozzarella and you've just bought more because you have this pig headed desire to pay him back or whatever."
"Thanks for that. Yes I got everything I need. It's not pig headed, I won't just take without giving. I'm never being made to feel like that ever again.”
“No more thinking about the past for now… just enjoy the weekend… you are finally getting to see Chicago! Go and have fun!”
Jungkook held the holdall by the handles, it was full, mainly with ingredients for tomorrow, with a few clothes. He didn’t have very much, the shoes he wore belonged to Ash, as did the trousers and he borrowed some trainers which were in the bag. His best jeans were getting more use and weren’t really for special occasions anymore and he’d thrown in a couple of his nicer t-shirts and a hoodie.
He could feel his stomach swishing about, the nerves causing a bout of nausea as he walked towards the main entrance of his complex and then he walked through the doors and could have sworn that his heart stopped beating entirely.
“Jesus… fuck.” he muttered as he saw Taehyung standing in front of a black stretch limousine.
Jungkook vowed to himself years ago that he would never be impressed by wealth ever again and he didn’t care whether Taehyung had a limo or a bicycle. However, it was Taehyung himself that impressed Jungkook, standing there in a burgundy shirt with a sunflower print, the collar wide and revealing a hint of collarbone, the trousers wide legged and a bluey purple colour. His shoes were smart and his hair more wavy than curly, styled to show his forehead. Tae's eyes shone as a smile stretched across his face when he saw Jungkook and it was then that the busker realised he actually hadn't moved. He felt a bit silly frozen to the spot and so willed his legs to work and continued walking towards the CEO who greeted him with a kiss on the cheek and a "Hi" as he always did.
"Hi" Jungkook replied, trying to focus on his breathing because it was a little heavy for the occasion.
They stood staring at each other for a minute that felt like an hour, Tae reaching his hand out, fingertips finding fingertips of the hand not holding the large bag. The light touches as their fingers moved against each other caused a ripple of goose bumps up Jungkook's arm and a shiver down his spine. His fingers sought out the gaps between Tae's fingers and he gently tugged him closer so he could kiss him softly. It was a tender moment, one that calmed him and made him nervous at the same time.
"Would you like the bag taken to my place?" Tae asked, his nose ghosting Jungkook's cheek.
"Yes please, if that’s okay?"
"Of course it is. Is there anything that needs to go into the fridge? Does Mr Hicks have permission to go into your bag?"
"I divided the ingredients into two separate bags, so he can get them out, it's fine. The bag tied at the top is the one that needs to go into the fridge."
"We can relay that to him in the car. After you." Tae gestured with his hand so Jungkook could get into the car, closing the door behind him and walking around to the other side.
Inside, the limousine was sleek, cream leather seats, a mini bar and TV screen. He looked around, wondering why Taehyung hadn't driven them himself.
"Tom, this is Mr Jeon, we will need you to take two bags from his overnight holdall and put the one tied up into the fridge." Tae spoke to the driver who had the partition rolled down.
"Good evening, Mr Jeon, is there instructions for the second bag?" Tom asked.
"Please call me Jungkook, the other bag can be left wherever possible, it doesn't need anything special doing with it."
"Yes, Sir. Should I leave your holdall in the guest room?"
Jungkook felt the heat seep into his cheeks, he didn't know what to say. Taehyung must've sensed the unease as he answered for him, "The guest room will be fine, thank you… it can always be moved if necessary."
"Yes, Sir. We will be arriving at the restaurant in about 30 minutes so I will bid you goodnight, for now." He rolled up the partition, leaving Taehyung and Jungkook to their journey.
"He's nice, has he worked for you a long time?"
“He’s one of a few that has been with me since Purple Aura started.”
Jungkook didn’t like being called ‘sir’ and the whole situation made him feel uncomfortable but he could reason with himself on some things and he understood that someone like Taehyung would have staff.
Tae looked down at Jungkook’s hand that was resting on the seat between them, he placed his hand closer, fingertips lightly stroking his knuckles. He was bowled over when the busker had emerged from his complex, his breath caught as he took in the sight of him. He was mostly used to seeing Jungkook in loose clothing so tonight it was a welcome sight, the navy trousers that hugged his thighs and the blue button down shirt that was neatly tucked into the waistband, showing the beautifully small waist that was so often hidden. He thought he looked gorgeous and how good Jungkook would look in designer clothing, the fraying of the cotton on one of the buttons, told him the shirt was cheap and he just knew that would be something Jimin would pick up on, maybe he could buy him a new shirt… and new boots at some point?
Jungkook smiled and relaxed a little when he felt the fingers on his hand, wiggling his own to let Taehyung know it was okay. He looked to his right, the CEO was already looking at him and the familiar blush crept up his face. When Taehyung noticed the coy expression, he reached up with his right hand and gently cupped the side of Jungkook's face, leaning in slowly and kissing him on the cheek.
"You are beautiful, Jungkook." His voice, a low hum near the buskers ear as he left a small kiss on the corner of his jaw.
"Umm… thanks." He hated compliments, always has, didn't know what to do with the information except to say 'thanks' and try to ignore the tingling from the embarrassment as it invaded his cheeks.
Jungkook closes his eyes and leans into the lips near his ear, brushing their faces together, then he turns his head to capture Tae's lips with his own. The moment they touch, he exhales, aware of the fingers still stroking his hand between them and the hand still holding his face. He swipes his tongue along the CEO's plump lower lip, catching his teeth too, until he parts his lips and allows Jungkook's tongue in. The hand on his face pulls him closer as they angle their heads to deepen the kiss, he shifts his upper body towards Tae and pushes forwards, wanting to taste more. Their mouths move lazily, their tongues caress each other and a soft sound leaves his parted lips with the next breath. He considers the possibility that he is addicted to kissing Taehyung, the way that even his tongue seems to submit and allow Jungkook's to curl around it and lead the way. He thinks that Taehyung must use a specific brand of mints because the taste is unfamiliar but the slight minty aroma is there, in his saliva and laced in his breath, that too, is intoxicating.
They break the kiss to take in some air, Tae's thumb running across the apple of Jungkook's cheek, "Beautiful." he speaks in a whisper.
The rest of the journey is spent with small talk, relaxed chatter about the time since they last saw each other, even if a day didn't go by now, without texts or a phone call. All the time while they are talking, their fingers intertwine, they don't stop moving and they are both hyper aware of the way neither removes their hand.
When the limo comes to a stop, Taehyung gets out, walks around the car and opens the door for Jungkook. Most people he knows let their driver open doors for them but it's something he's always preferred to do himself, he is quite capable and doesn't see the need for someone else to do it. The only time he relents is when he is going to an important function and there's a fuss with paparazzi, they always shove their cameras in his face so he trusts the driver to open the door when it's the right time for him to get out.
As Jungkook steps out, Tae kisses his cheek, Mr Hicks is standing near the drivers door "I will await your message to collect you." He says.
"We will be here a couple of hours here, the bag is on the seat in the rear." Tae responds.
"Yes Sir, enjoy your meal."
Jungkook looks at the restaurant, it looks expensive… of course it is. He hasn't heard of it but the man in uniform who opens the door for them and plush interior tells him that the prices of everything are going to make him uncomfortable. He's seen places like this before, there was a time in his life when he wouldn't have given his surroundings a second thought but those days are long gone.
Taehyung speaks to the lady at the desk and she is fawning over him, which is completely understandable but incredibly annoying. Jungkook rolls his eyes as she continues to brown nose his date, probably hoping to get a decent tip out of him because as much as he dislikes people like Taehyung, he also dislikes the people that take advantage of those who have wealth. There is also a part of him that believes that the woman finds Tae attractive and could possibly be flirting with him, which is equally as irritating. He is surprised when Tae takes his hand as they follow the lady through to their table, he can't make out the style of the decor but 'expensive' probably covers it. His stomach reacts to having his hand taken, it was an unexpected gesture, he didn't think that the CEO would be so blatant but he was obviously wrong in his judgement. The large room has floor to ceiling screens that can transport the diners to anywhere in the world (or out of this world), they currently show a magical forest, complete with magical creatures and Jungkook feels like he's on Pandora from the movie 'Avatar'. The lady stops at a oval white table, they take their seats on the white and gold coloured seats either side of the narrowest part. The setting is minimalist, a large carafe of water with L.E.D ice cubes is placed in the centre, there are two glasses laden with citrus fruits and more rainbow lit ice and more cutlery than anyone really needs.
Taehyung reeled off the name of two cocktails to the lady and she gave him a flirtatious smile before tottering away. Jungkook wondered why there wasn't a menu because usually in restaurants they had one on the table or one was given to you as you are seated.
"I hope it's okay that I ordered drinks? They do a very tasty cocktail here and I've found this to be the only restaurant that offers it."
"I don't mind, I'm sure it's better than the beer that Ash brought home from his friend's place the other night." He did mind a little bit, he felt incredibly uncomfortable in the surroundings, which were beautiful but he could imagine the cost of the evening and his hotdogs in the park looked ridiculous now (not that, that was a date).
"They do a decadent prix fixe menu here, it's seven courses and they recently altered it to include a beef carpaccio dish which uses wagyu steak which I haven't had here before."
Jungkook remembers a time when he had a twenty course meal at his mother's wedding, the food was delicious until he'd been sick and flushed it down the toilet after the day turned into a nightmare. The prix fixe menu would at least explain why there was a distinct lack of menus around and thankfully he isn't a fussy eater, even if it had been quite some time that he's had any food like this. He now knew what to expect, each course would be intensely tasty and small, with a variety of elements arranged perfectly on a plate. The ingredients would be the best quality, probably imported from places he's never heard of, even if Geography was always one of his top subjects. He's been to places where the cost of the menu was more than he now earned in a week, where the ingredients were names he couldn't even pronounce, it was a world he didn't ever think he'd have to experience again.
"You like beef?" He wants to focus on getting to know his date, doing his best to ignore the little feeling irking him.
"I do but I actually prefer lamb. Do you have a favourite meat?"
"I love lamb and chicken but I enjoy most meats to be honest. They do a great burger at Dino’s, that has bacon and sausage as well as the double burger, it's huge."
"Maybe one day I will try it as per your recommendation. The best burger I have had was an Ostrich burger, the bread was more like a focaccia. It was incredible."
They were interrupted by a member of staff bringing their drinks, followed a second later by their first course. Jungkook sipped his cocktail and licked his lips, "This is really good, it was a good choice."
"I'm pleased that you approve." Taehyung smiled, picking up a fork to start his food.
“Have you had any more trouble linked to that stuff a couple of weeks ago?”
“Not directly, my legal team handles anything that arises from it now.”
“That’s good.” he said while the vegetable puree coated his taste buds.
“Are you looking forward to the show?”
“I am, I have wanted to see it for a long time. It will be interesting because I should know some of the scenes and dance routine from the movie and from our production.”
“You’ll have to tell me which of the scenes you are in. I hope it lives up to the expectations I have from my memory of the first time I saw it.”
“I’m sure it will but you know that sometimes you love a programme, like from when you were a child, then you watch it when you are older and you wonder why you loved it so much. Memories are strange.”
“That very situation happened to me once when my friends were all talking about a cartoon with a dog in it and we couldn’t recall the name of it but we all loved it. I found it and we spent twenty minutes pulling faces at one another. Some things are better left in the past.”
“Very true but sometimes the past shapes us and we have to adapt.”
“That is also true. Tell me about your family. You never mention them.”
“I don’t have any… none I want to talk about anyway. Ash is my family and the couple who own the diner, I suppose.”
Taehyung was about to speak when a waiter appeared, clearing their plates and cutlery, a second waiter behind him with their second course. He wasn’t going to insist that Jungkook talks about something that clearly is uncomfortable for him and he leaves it for another time, perhaps once they know each other to a degree where he will feel happier opening up to him.
“Does Ash have a partner?”
Jungkook is surprised by the change in subject, he was expecting Taehyung to ask more questions and probe him further about his family, caught off guard a little.
“Umm… no, he is single, sort of? He's been seeing someone but I'm not sure where they're at. I'm sure that when you meet him you will understand more.” he half laughs as he finishes the sentence.
Tae smiles in return “Is he that bad?”
“Not really, he’s had a few relationships once he’d finally decided he was hetero and needing to label himself. He just picks the girls that take advantage or the girls who walk around our apartment in one of his shirts.”
Tae isn’t completely sure he understands, “Why is that a problem? The shirts I mean.”
“Because they wear the shirt, only… only that and the shirt doesn’t cover everything.”
“Does that bother him because of you seeing that?” Tae now thinks that perhaps Jungkook is bisexual.
“Oh no, it doesn’t affect me, I’m not interested but Ash isn’t so keen on the girl showing everything off, they don’t know that I’m gay so he thinks that says a lot about them.”
Tae nods, “They should have a little more respect for themselves and for you both.”
“They should. One of the girls walked out of his bedroom in a pair of his boxers and nothing on top, I was studying in the lounge and she got a drink from the kitchen and sat down on the sofa… it was strange. I picked up my books and went into my room, it was just awkward and he wasn’t happy. He’s such a nice guy… he’s strange, quirky and annoying but that’s probably just with me. The girl he's seeing now I've seen once and she had the sense to go back into the bedroom and put on a robe, so who knows about this one?” he giggles a little.
“He’s your family, he’s meant to be those things.” Tae smiles at the man sitting opposite him, whose eyes shine in the lights and make his surroundings pale into the background.
When the seventh course arrives, Jungkook’s smile widens, he loves cheesecake and there’s the smallest square on the plate surrounded by a tiny brownie, thin slices of fresh strawberry and drizzles of white chocolate sauce and a raspberry coulis. The servings are miniscule as expected but the taste and flavours have been unbelievable and he’s enjoyed every course.
“You approve of the dessert?”
“I love cheesecake… I don’t get to have it very often but sometimes when Marie makes it for the diner she saves me a slice and her cheesecake is so good.”
Taehyung feels there is always so much more to Jungkook’s words than what is actually being said but he can never put his finger on what it is. He spends a lot of time guessing as to what it could be, trying to read between the lines and in this case he wonders if Jungkook doesn’t eat a lot of cheesecake because he can’t afford it? Or perhaps it is simply because he is careful about calories with his need to stay trim for dance? He doesn’t know which or even if there is anything else to be read into it but his heart swells at the smile and warmth that radiates from him because of a tiny square of cheesecake.
“You’d better savour that mouthful then…” Tae giggles “... I know this little place that does the best cheesecake and you get a whole lot more than a mouthful. I’ll take you there one day.”
Jungkook’s smile reaches his ears, it’s genuine and he really likes the sound of that, especially the part that tells him that Taehyung wants to take him out again, wants to spend more time with him.
“I’d like that but that will be my treat.” Even if the place is expensive, it’s only a couple of slices of cheesecake so he will get the name of the place beforehand, do his research and work a few more shifts at the diner.
Taehyung was getting the feeling that there was more behind that than Jungkook lets on, he’s noticing that it is becoming a regular occurrence. While they finish up their dessert and drinks, Tae thinks of all the times that Jungkook has wanted to pay for something or take him somewhere and there is a pattern but he doesn’t understand why he feels the need to do it or what the reason could be. The most recent being the insistence that he cook them both lunch tomorrow and the frostiness to his tone when Tae offered to get the ingredients in. He still thinks that there may be some truth to Stefan’s suggestion but it feels like there’s more to it than that now that he’s thought back, never before connecting the dots and still unable to complete the connection properly.
He’s still completely clueless though, even with some of the dots joined because he can’t imagine what his reason would be when it is painfully obvious that he can’t compete with the wealth that Taehyung has. He does want to find out though, he wants to understand but now isn’t the right time. He wants to learn everything there is to learn about the busker, to understand what makes him tick and why he can be so very closed off at times. Taehyung does consider that the reactions recently could be a consequence of the charity gala and the hurt that was caused and in that case it made sense so he would have to bide his time.
“Ready?” Tae asks as he pushes his chair back to stand.
“Ummm… yeah… yeah.” Jungkook is a bit confused, expecting for Taehyung to pay the bill even though he’s really quite relieved not to have to witness it because it was something he’d been dreading since they’d arrived. He has absolutely zero desire to be a kept man and he very much wants to avoid feeling like one as much as is possible.
When they got to the lady at the desk she smiled her over enthusiastic smile at Taehyung, which annoyed Jungkook.
“Was everything satisfactory, Sir?” she asked in her annoying voice.
“Yes, more than satisfactory, thank you.” Tae replied, handing the lady a bundle of notes, “please distribute to the serving staff and kitchen.”
“Yes, of course, Sir. Enjoy the rest of your evening.” she nodded in Jungkook’s direction as she spoke and he just raised his brows at the fact that she hadn’t acknowledged him until now.
Taehyung placed a hand on the small of Jungkook’s back and guided him through the doors that were opened for them as they approached, the limo parked directly outside. Just as Tae opened the car door for Jungkook he kissed his cheek, let his lips linger just a little longer than usual, a small smile appearing when he felt him exhale at the touch.
Once they were seated in the limo, Taehyung took hold of Jungkook’s hand and spoke to the driver, “Did you manage to leave the bag in my apartment?”
“Yes Sir, I put the bag in the fridge as requested and left the other one on the central counter. I placed the holdall in the guest room.”
“Thank you.” Jungkook chipped in.
“Indeed, thank you. We will be going home once the show has concluded, we will be at the usual exit point.” Taehyung added.
“Yes, Sir. Did you enjoy your meal?” Mr Hicks asks.
“It was as good as it always is there but the company was a whole lot better than usual tonight.” Tae looked briefly at Jungkook and smiled, giving his hand a little squeeze.
“Did you enjoy it, Mr Jeon Sir?”
“Oh yes, thank you, the cheesecake was especially tasty…” he grins “...there wasn’t enough of it though.”
Mr Hicks smiles, “There never is in that sort of place, Mr Jeon, those seven courses would probably make one dish.”
Jungkook giggles and Taehyung is staring, he’d zoned out listening to him speak and watching him smile, the sound of his laugh warming him in ways that he didn’t think was possible.
“That is so true, you see more of the staff than the actual food.” he glances at Taehyung and feels his cheeks redden.
“The staff are always polite though and the food comes out in a timely manner.” Tom had been to several restaurants like that one, not through choice but he was treated every once in a while with vouchers for his service to Taehyung or a bonus if he’s had to go out of his way to collect him from the airport at an unsociable hour.
Jungkook rolls his eyes at the mention of the staff, “Yeah, well the lady at the desk was annoying but the service inside was really good and the company was satisfactory.”
The driver nearly choked at Jungkook’s words, looking in the mirror as he saw his boss tilt his head and raise an eyebrow at his date. Tom smiled, he really liked seeing the CEO like this, relaxed and playful, it made a change from his usual work persona where he was the businessman and rightly so.
“Just satisfactory, Mr Jeon?” the driver asked, a touch of humour to his question.
“Maybe I could stretch to ‘good’... maybe.” Jungkook smirked, his eyes not breaking contact with Taehyung’s gaze.
“Looks like you need to up your game, Mr Kim, Sir.” The driver smiles, “We will arrive in about ten minutes, Sirs.” he says before he rolls up the partition to leave the couple in peace.
“Satisfactory?” Tae asks, lips pursed in a tight lipped grin.
Jungkook gives a small nod, “I don’t want your head to get too big.”
“No one has had any complaints before.” now he can’t hide the smile that forms and his eyes sparkle, illuminated by the various lights in the otherwise dark limo.
Jungkook blushes, of course he does, stumped for words as usual when Taehyung takes the conversation into the gutter. He leans forwards while tugging on the hand holding his and presses their lips together, as his tongue skims the CEO’s bottom lip, he can taste the cocktail, so sweet. Tae shuffles a little closer and reaches up to cup the side of his face, fingers gently playing with his hair as their tongues mingle. When they part, Jungkook leans back in to leave one last kiss on his lips “the company just improved greatly.”
“Imagine how much it will improve later, I’m not sure whether your ratings go that high, Jungkook.”
Shit! Fucking hell… the only words going through Jungkook’s mind right now because he is under no illusion as to what Tae means by that.
“I’ll be sure to let you know.” he says quickly as the car stops and Tae gets out, using the time it takes for his door to open, to feel his cheeks with the backs of his hands and take a very deep breath.