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Worlds Apart

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“What’s up, Kookie Monster? You’ve been in a little world of your own all day.”

“I’m hardly looking forward to tonight.”

“Once you’re in there and sitting down, I’m sure everything will be fine. KTH is going to introduce you as his dom, nymphomaniac, sex partner… right?”

Jungkook isn’t ever sure why he’s surprised by the shit that leaves his best friend’s mouth, “Do I have to respond to that?”

“That has to be a better option than prostitute though?”

Jungkook scratches his head before punching Ash on the arm as they sit out the back of the diner on their last break, “I’m thrilled that you find this so amusing. How would you feel if the first time you met your boyfriend’s friends, they thought you were a sex worker and treated you like you were dog shit?”

Ash feigned injury but then put a hand on his friend’s shoulder, “I would feel the same as you but you weren’t boyfriends then and you couldn’t even admit that you were dating. That doesn’t make it right but it’s different now so my advice to you would be to go in with fresh eyes. Treat tonight as the first time you’re meeting your boyfriend’s friends.”

“That sounds like great advice.” Marie appeared from around the side of the building, smiling softly.

“Make a note of it because it is a rare thing.” Jungkook adds.

“It is not! I am full of great advice and we have established so many times that I am always right eventually, you have to string everything out and make a meal of it before we accept that I was right… again.”

“You are doing the right thing by going tonight. It’s a big step and it shows willing. Even if it doesn’t go as you’d hope, you have given them a chance and you’d have shown Taehyung that you are making an effort. Once they know that their friend is serious about you, they will respond differently I’m sure and I would think this is important to Taehyung, he wants to make up for last time and he wants to include you in his circle.” Marie smiles at the both of them.

“Okay, I get it, pretend like his friends aren’t upper class dickheads and this is the first time I’m meeting them. I should definitely remember to keep quiet and look pretty though, huh?”

Both Marie and Ash glare at Jungkook who holds his hands in the air and takes a deep breath before heading back into the diner to finish his shift. He's still irked by the words spoken to him at the charity gala but he will do his best to swallow it just for tonight.

***

He’d spent the whole morning working and taken a twenty minute break so he could try and work out how to use the drinks machine in his kitchen. He still remains baffled by the reaction Jungkook had to the coffee at breakfast yesterday morning but he is now trying to come to terms with there being things that he may never get the answers to. He briefly mentioned the situation to Stefan yesterday afternoon and his suggestion was that perhaps Jungkook didn’t see the need to have bought one coffee, let alone two when there was a perfectly good coffee machine right there. Tae thought that was a ridiculous suggestion because the drinks were ordered as part of breakfast and the fact they were ordered meant Jungkook didn’t have to bother with using the machine. Stefan also commented that he thought that it could be seen as a waste of money but Tae couldn’t even get his head around that one because it wasn’t logical so the conversation was left with the CEO being none the wiser. However, Tae decided that he would learn to use it, inspired by Jungkook and wanting to surprise him the next time he stayed.

Tonight felt like a big deal, Stefan wished him luck before he left the office yesterday afternoon, after their brief chat. Stefan’s advice to his boss was to stay true to who Jungkook is and what the relationship means to him. Since then the CEO had thought long and hard about how to introduce Jungkook, he wanted the whole group to know all at once instead of as they arrive so the only way to do that was to be late, themselves. He knew that Jimin, Yoongi and Namjoon would be there just before 7 and sometime before 7:30, Hobi and Jin would turn up so he ideally wanted to get there at the same time as Hobi and Emery since Emery was an outsider too. He hoped that if anyone could form a connection with his boyfriend, that it would be Emery because he is finding his feet in a new relationship within the group too.

He stood in his bathroom after a shower, staring at himself in the mirror as he brushed his teeth, spitting out the water he’d swished around his mouth. It was strange yesterday when he’d used the bathroom after Jungkook, never usually having anyone in his apartment before. His housekeeper made several comments about the extra towels and he’s sure she’d made reference to the bed sheets but she’d said it while he was working at his computer so he'd had the excuse to ignore it. The apartment building provided housekeepers but Tae insisted on bringing Mrs Phan with him from his last place, she was a friend of one of his parents' staff and he refused to let her go. He accepted the cleaner but only once a fortnight and only because it took some of the work load from the housekeeper. Mrs Phan was a 5ft tall Vietnamese widow who was fluent in several languages, incredibly nosey and strict with Taehyung when she needed to be. The little one bed apartment she lived in, was bought as a gift by Taehyung when she lost her Husband and couldn’t afford all of her rent. He’d never experienced her wrath until he gave her the deeds to the property but she’d calmed down when he’d said that it was instead of a pay rise and she’d cried in gratitude, telling him that she wouldn’t have accepted a pay rise. Mrs Phan enjoyed her job, she loved working for the CEO and this morning wanted to know when she would get to meet his new boyfriend, having never seen anyone in the apartment before, to which Taehyung had sworn her to secrecy until he told his parents because he knew Mrs Phan and her friend, Mai-Ling, met up often.

The plan is that once he returns from Europe he will visit his parents and tell them about Jungkook, his parents have their wedding anniversary so they will have a celebratory meal at the end of next month, as always. It will be a relatively quiet meal, usually only Taehyung and both his parents because his younger sister studies in America, wanting to be a lawyer once she is qualified, only returning at Christmas for a couple of weeks now she has a boyfriend there. He has no idea what his family will make of his boyfriend but he can’t think about that now as he leaves the bathroom to finish getting ready.

***

Jungkook feels sick, his hands are clammy and he’s pacing the hallway that leads to the main entrance of his home. Minutes before, he’d been pacing in the lounge but Ash went on and on about him being himself and fuck the snobby shits if they don’t like him. He appreciated the sentiment but it wasn’t helping how he was feeling so after putting on his shoes that went with the same outfit he’d worn on his first date with Tae, he’d come downstairs to pace the hall instead.

He’d been surprised that Tae suggested driving, he’d been expecting him to want a drink, Jungkook was under no illusion that he would need a drink. The whole evening was nauseating, from the friends, the remnants of the charity gala and the cost of the menu which he’d looked up when he needed to know if they had a dress code. The importance of having his own money on him tonight was great, it’s always an issue for Jungkook but never more so than this evening with the way that Tae and his friends are. Thankfully, with not having to worry about the rent next month and a mysterious bonus from the diner appearing in his bank, he felt better at being able to cover his meal at least. Jungkook knows what will happen, he knows that when it comes to paying, that Tae will insist or just cover it but he wants to be able to have his own share. He’s worried that the group will do something ridiculous like split the bill equally between them and then he has no idea what he will do but decides to add that to the whole list of things to fret over.

Jungkook knows he needs to talk to his boyfriend about these things, he needs to open up and let him know how much stuff like this bothers him but it feels like the biggest can of worms and that can shouldn’t be opened this evening. He hears the Ferrari before he sees it, wiping his palms on his navy trousers and feeling quite antsy as he walks to the entrance. Billy had lent him the cutest blue and gold satin neck scarf that he’d had to admit finished off the simple outfit nicely. He had blow dried his hair, left it down and scrunched some wax through it but no matter what he thought of his outfit, as always, he wasn’t prepared for the way his boyfriend looked. When he exited the building and saw Tae standing with the passenger door open, his stomach did somersaults. His long legs covered in simple black trousers but looked anything but simple on the man who should have been a model. The pale pink patterned long sleeve shirt had a large collar and was tucked into the waistband of his trousers, showing off his svelte waist. Jungkook was put at ease by the smile and shine in his boyfriend’s eyes, his forehead on display with his hair styled just to one side.

“Good evening.” Tae’s hand finds its way around Jungkook’s waist as he presses his lips to his cheek.

“Hi.” Jungkook says, clearing his throat because he is sure he sounded like he was daydreaming.

“Ready?”

“Not really.” he couldn’t lie when he is convinced that his face may say otherwise.

“I’m going to make it up to you, I promise.” he says with sincerity.

“I know.” and he does know. He knows that Tae is sorry for before and he knows that tonight is as much about Tae rectifying his mistake as it is about Jungkook giving his friends a chance.

“Did your shift go well at the diner today?” Tae pulls out of the street and into the traffic, he can see that Jungkook is nervous or at least he thinks that is what it is. He’s kicked himself for what happened before and it doesn’t make him feel good that his boyfriend feels the way he does because of something he did but tonight he's going to show him how much he cares and be proud to be with him.

"It was steady, thanks. Did you get everything done that you wanted to?" Jungkook wants to ask him how he and his friends settle the bill when they go out but he can't bring himself to mention it, afraid of Tae’s answer or him thinking that Jungkook is worried about money… which he is.

"I did and more, I might be able to get my list written for packing so Mrs Phan doesn't have to rush."

"Do you eat at Blueside often?" Jungkook knew what he was going to have, he didn't want a starter, just the salmon. It was the most reasonable dish without being too cheap to draw attention to himself.

"Once a month, maybe. It depends on our schedules, time of year and usually if Jin is in the country."

Jungkook nods, like he can relate but he feels so sick with nerves that nodding his head is the best he can do. Tae parks in the designated space that is often reserved for him, a short walk to the carpet lined, awning covered walkway that leads to the entrance. He gets out of the car and walks around to open the passenger door, placing his arms around his boyfriend’s waist as the door closes. He kisses his cheek then leaves a delicate kiss on his lips, before he takes him by the hand, their fingers clasped tightly together as they walk.

They are greeted by a very smiley lady as they enter, she informs Tae that the group are already seated, forcing him to check his watch and look with confusion when he sees that it's only 7:12pm.

"Are Hoseok and Seokjin here?" He asks her.

"Yes, Sir. Master Hoseok arrived about a minute ago." The lady knew the group well, she has worked at Blueside for years and was more than used to the friends.

"That has to be Emery's influence, Seok is always at least twenty minutes late."

"He did receive some cheers from the others, Master Taehyung."

"I bet he did." Tae has always found the staff to be lovely here and in any other walk of life, calling them 'Master' before their first names would be odd but it's something they've always done.

She showed them through to a room where there was an overly large sized table with six pairs of eyes looking at them. Jungkook felt the hairs stand up on the back of his neck as they looked straight to him and a couple of them diverted their gaze to their hands clasped between them. The nausea was replaced with a knotting in his stomach and he was grateful that Tae didn't let go of his hand as they reached the group or his hands would probably be balled into fists at his sides.

"At least when I'm late, I look good." Jin says with a smile.

"That's questionable." Tae lets go of Jungkook’s hand to pull a chair out for him and then proceeds to sit beside him to his right. The large rectangular table has Jin on the left and Namjoon on the right at either end, Emery sits next to Jungkook and Tae, with Hobi, Yoongi and Jimin on the other side. The table is huge and full of a variety of appetisers, glasses, cutlery and napkins, all laid out perfectly on a bright white cloth adorned with a pale blue swirly pattern.

"Did you tell your P.A that I'll be in touch?" Hobi asks Tae.

"I did and here's his business card…" Tae fishes in his pocket and takes out the card to hand diagonally to Hobi, then he sits down and continues, "... before anything else is said, I'd like to officially introduce you all to Jungkook. I didn't do things the right way last time but now we are a couple so I am intending on acting accordingly…" Tae reaches over and places a hand on Jungkook’s thigh, "... Jungkook, that is Emery, Jin, Hoseok, Yoongi, Jimin and Namjoon. Everyone, this is Jungkook, I'd like to offer my apologies for the Charity Gala situation." He breathes a sigh of relief and judging by the way his boyfriend strokes his knuckles, covering his hand with his own, he hopes that means he's done the right thing this time.

"A couple? As in… partners?" Namjoon addresses Tae.

"Yes, to both. I asked him and I was lucky that Jungkook accepted to be my boyfriend." Tae looks at Jungkook and smiles.

A server brings over several bottles and opens them, pouring them into flutes but Tae puts his hand over his glass and shakes his head, informing her that he's driving and asking for a lime soda instead.

"It's nice to meet you properly, Jungkook." Emery says, taking a sip from the glass and giving him a big smile.

"Thanks… and you." Jungkook doesn't know what to say. Emery is the only one to radiate any sort of warmth, he isn't getting a warm feeling from the friends sitting around the table. Jin to his left hasn't taken his eyes off of him and he can feel the others staring too. He isn't comfortable with the general vibe and is trying to focus on his boyfriend who is doing everything he promised and Jungkook is irritated that he isn't getting the chance to let him know that he's grateful.

Everyone starts picking at the food scattering the table, Jungkook feels like there are rocks instead of knots in his stomach now as he grips Tae's hand on his thigh, losing his appetite and getting tired of the constant glances or obvious glares. It is quite clear that they don't like him, even now, even after the way that Taehyung introduced him. He thought there might have been a crack in the ice at least but that isn't happening. When each of the group talks, they give Jungkook a fleeting look which just comes across as dismissive as they address whoever it is they are speaking to.

"Did the label get hold of you this week?" Yoongi looks at Tae.

"They did. We are sorting out some advertising for when the centre is ready. Do you know they offered to pay?"

"They said they'd set aside a budget for it." Yoongi added.

Jimin chipped in, "They were actually given a quote by Get Scene. Yoon told them to contact you. We didn't think you'd do it for nothing but we knew you'd be fair."

"I'm not going to charge them. I was going to donate more money anyway, so I'll just cover all the advertising. I'd rather they had a good campaign, it's important that word gets out about the great work they will be doing."

"Yeah but if it's going to cost Aura, you don't want to do that." Yoongi trusted that the centre would be in the best hands but didn't want Tae to do it at a loss.

"Yoon, it's all in hand, I'm meeting with the Mr Zenigata, Director of the Centre and the Shadow's PR guy when I'm back from London. He said the centre doesn't have a name yet?"

"Not yet." Jimin adds.

"How are they going to name it?" Hobi asks, munching on a breadstick, dipping it in one of the many sauces on the table.

"Loads of ideas have been thrown about but nothing decided yet." Yoongi says.

"They're always talking about it or how to get a name for it but that's as far as it goes." When Jimin speaks, he side casts his eyes over Jungkook who looks like he's about to say something.

"They could run a competition on social media? The record label and companies connected must have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram pages?"

Everyone looks at Jungkook as he offers his suggestion. He hopes that by offering something as part of the conversation that perhaps it will lighten the mood once they engage with him... he doubts it but after Tae has made such an effort, this is his contribution.

"That’s definitely something I could make happen as part of the advertising." Tae gives his boyfriend's hand a little squeeze, their hands still resting on the busker's thigh.

"And what would be the prize?" Jin asks, his eyes not leaving Jungkook, tone condescending.

"Isn't being the person who named the centre, enough of a prize?" Jungkook offers in response.

Jimin laughs, a mocking tone, "wow."

Namjoon scoffs, "Entrants would want money or something as a prize."

"Not everyone wants something." Jungkook says through gritted teeth.

"You could ask the sponsors to provide a prize to encourage entries. I'd throw in a EGO merch box or something." Hobi offers, he thinks the idea has legs and could definitely go places.

"I think it's worth considering. I'll put it forward when I have the meeting." Tae is beaming inside. He thinks Jungkook’s suggestion is a good one and definitely wants to discuss it with him later.

"I'll be surprised if they go for it." Jimin mumbles contemptuously.

"Joon, did you get a date for the throne?" Tae turns to look at his friend.

"Friday. They said before 2pm. Finally." He says, leaning forwards to reach for his glass.

"Do they have my P.A's details?"

"They have your office number. You'll get the calls redirected to him, though?"

"I will but you may as well have a card too." Tae gets a card from his pocket and hands it to Namjoon who accepts the card with a smile and the nod of his head.

"Are you all ready for London?" Jin briefly looks at Tae.

"Not yet, the schedules keep changing and I've got a ton of work to do between now and then."

"It's going to be good to get away."

"It's business, you know what business trips are like, Jin, it's hardly a holiday."

"Yeah but some time out on your own will be good." Jimin chimes.

Jungkook looks at Jimin, "Yeah but he invited me."

"And what did you do to orchestrate that?" The tension around the table builds at Jimin's question.

"What are you implying?" Jungkook frowns at Jimin.

"I'm not implying anything. It was a straight forward question." he says with arrogance.

"In that case, the answer is nothing or did you want me to say that I give good head and the invitation was payment?"

"Then this meal is very similar to the last one, after all." Jin says as he sits back in his chair.

"Please, enough. I'm trying to put that behind me. That was my fault you were led to believe what you did and I invited Jungkook to accompany me to London because he is my boyfriend." Tae was hoping the introduction earlier would make the charity gala null and void but obviously not.

"Look, Tae, that was a misunderstanding but he isn't who you think he is." Yoongi speaks up.

Before Jungkook can speak, Tae jumps in, "What are you talking about, Yoon?"

"We think you should know that we know that you've sent him dick pics and he's driven your car… is that true?" Namjoon asks his friend.

Tae looks at Jungkook then around the table, "How do you know? I haven't spoken to any of you about us yet."

Jungkook sits there confused but his stomach is knotting with Jin's eyes boring into him, he turns his head sharply to his left, looking past Emery who is sitting back in his chair giving Hobi looks, "Am I not pretty enough or quiet enough for you tonight?" he asks the model with a biting sarcastic tone.

Tae asks Namjoon again, while Jin just smirks at Jungkook dismissively, "Joon, are you going to explain?"

"Jungkook, if that's what his real name is, was showing the staff his phone at the dingy diner and one of them was asking about the dick pics." Yoongi interjects.

“The guy he is definitely sleeping with from what Mochi and Yoon saw.” Namjoon adds.

"What?" Jungkook can feel the anger bubbling away.

"What do you mean, if that's his real name? Can someone tell me what is going on?" Taehyung suddenly feels like he's super late to a party that no one told him about.

"We went to his work and we heard him joking about how he can get whatever he wants out of you as long as tells you that you're a good boy and he was very over familiar with the guy serving us." Jimin glares at Jungkook as he speaks.

"You did what?" Tae feels like he has been transported to another universe as he looks at Jimin.

"Why would you tell other people that?" Hobi asks Jungkook. He knew it was bad but didn't know the full extent and the thought that this guy was making a fool out of one of his closest friends is quite frankly shocking.

Yoongi answers Tae’s question, "we were concerned. Some beggar crashes into your life and gets his feet well and truly under the table. So we did some digging. The diner was an eye opener, they were talking about sexting you and what they can get out of you once he's got you naked because you'll do what he wants if he tells you that you are good as well as boasting about driving the ferrari."

Jin speaks up next, "and we couldn't find anything on him. We had a few of our guys do searches and nothing came up. He is untraceable which means he's probably using a false name because what other explanation is there?."

"How fucking dare you!" Jungkook has heard enough.

"Well… deny it… going by Tae's reaction he knows we are telling the truth. How else would we know that stuff… deny it." Jimin denounces the busker.

"I don't have to deny anything or prove myself to you. You've all made up your minds so fuck the lot of you." Jungkook was raging, he had so much he wanted to say but he was so angry that every word was getting lodged in his throat.

"If that isn't an admission then I don't know what is." Namjoon says smugly.

"How much were you going to swindle out of him? Begging to fish for rich guys was a nice touch." Yoongi says.

"You are a hustler, that much is clear. You might have looks on your side but that's it. The game is up." Jimin keeps an eye on Tae who looks like he's in shock.

"Disgusting to think that people like you exist." Jin says into the glass he's drinking from.

Jungkook stands up, he's livid but Jimin speak before he does, "Got another headache from your allergy to bullshit?" Throwing Jungkook’s own words at him from the gala.

"Your heads are so far shoved up your own arses and each other's that the only thing you can smell is shit. You aren't worth it, bunch of cunts… fuck all of you."

"And there you have it, I don't think we need to say anymore." Namjoon adds.

Just as Jungkook turns to leave, Tae stands up, "How dare you! How can you arrange this which is effectively a witch hunt? What happened to respect and calling me with your concerns?"

"You deserve better! Who knows how many have seen your texts? You haven't built the reputation you have only to have that tramp bring you down." Jimin almost spits when he talks, standing now too.

"Fuck you!!" Jungkook balls his fists and storms through the door, he pushes past everyone and everything, searching blindly for the way out, desperate for fresh air, eyes filling rapidly with tears of anger.

Tae looks behind him where his boyfriend has stomped away, then back to the table, "You are all out of line! Tonight was about me making up for last time, I talked him into coming tonight! He trusted me!"

"So what? It's done. He's gone. He's a nobody." Jin says casually.

Tae doesn't do public confrontation and he rarely loses his cool but he's furious.

"So what? So what? I'll tell you what… I love him… okay? For the first time in ages I was happy, genuinely happy… I. LOVE. HIM."

And he does. It burns through him that this is the first time he's admitted it, the first time he's accepted that he loves Jungkook, the first time the words are spoken and it's in these circumstances and worst of all... his boyfriend isn't even here.

"You will find someone else, Tae." Hobi suggests.

Tae was a few steps from the table, heading towards the door when he takes a step back, "Didn’t you hear anything I just said? I said that I love him and right now, the only relationships I am questioning are the ones between me and the people in this room. Now excuse me while I try to stop my boyfriend from walking out of my life and on your heads if he does!"

He rushes out the door and through the restaurant, he is in utter disbelief that this has happened. It's like de ja vu but magnified intensely because he's never been so scared of losing someone and he can't lose the man that he loves now.