Jungkook can't even see the path in front of him when he crashes through the doors and out into the early evening air, the lady standing near the front desk had tried to speak to him but he didn't hang around to find out what she was saying. His hands are shaking and his face is contorted in anger, sheer sadness manifests as streams of tears freefalling down his cheeks. He can't believe what he's witnessed, he's in shock that they spied on him at the diner and even though he only vaguely remembers the conversation with Ash, he knows for sure it wasn't what they said it was. Once again humiliated by those people and he's had enough. He recognises that he should've stayed, he should have hung around to hear what else was said and to stay with Taehyung because he had been speaking out against the behaviour of his friends which had come as a shock. His mind is a complete mess, the last thing he'd expected was for his boyfriend to speak up the way that he did but he's sure they've probably convinced him otherwise by now. Anyone that saw him now, would think he was intoxicated the way that he staggers towards the Ferrari, he doesn't know where to go, he doesn't know where he is having never been here before. He knows that he can't escape Taehyung because he will want to find out what happened and hear it from him or he will want to finish it, which probably amounts to the same thing. He has learned enough about the CEO to know that he likes to deal with facts and doubts he'd just let it go, especially after the way he dealt with the trouble that Purple Aura had with the company from Japan. It's started raining now but the night air is quite warm, Jungkook can't feel anything as he sits on a giant ceramic flower display, he is vaguely aware that he's getting wet but all he can hear are the words spoken by Tae's friends and the way they looked at him. It's taken him a long time to build some pride and be who he is now, only for a bunch of egotistical rich arseholes to destroy him a second time.
Tae rushes through the restaurant after saying all he needed to say to the people that he thought were his friends. He bursts through the doors and outside he looks around him but can’t see Jungkook, “Have you seen the man I arrived with?” he asks the doorman.
“No Sir, I’ve not been here for the last ten minutes though.”
“He’s my boyfriend and I need to find him.” Tae doesn’t wait for a response, he hurries to the end and looks up and down the street but can’t see Jungkook. It’s drizzling with rain and he decides to drive around and look for him, desperately hoping that he hasn't gotten too far.
He walks back towards the parking space, illuminated in a white haze by the lights along the awning and that’s when he sees Jungkook, head low, hunched over. He doesn’t know what to say but can see he is wet and wants to get him in the car so they can talk, “Jungkook?”
The busker looks up when he hears his name and so many emotions and reactions hit him at full speed, “You took your time, busy toasting the fact that you are free of me?”
“If that’s what you believe then I’m not quite sure why you are still here.”
“Was that your plan? To get me there to humiliate me?” he knows this isn't true but he is so upset.
“I think that you know better than that. Can we go? Please get in the car.” Tae unlocks the car and holds open the door.
“I don’t know better than that though do I? If I knew better I’d have stayed the fuck away from you.”
“Jungkook, please, get in the car.”
“This really is a repeat of the charity event isn’t it?” Jungkook says, standing and pushing past Tae to get into the Ferrari.
Tae takes a deep breath and goes around to the drivers door, sits and fastens his seat belt in silence, his own tears building in his eyes as he starts the car and pulls out into the traffic. He is humiliated, confused and hurt, he had no idea that his friends would react this way and he can feel the pain radiating from his new boyfriend which adds to the hurt.
“Did you know that they were spying on me?”
“Of course I didn’t know. Everything you heard tonight was the first time I’d heard it too.”
“Where are we going now?”
“I’m taking you back to my place.”
“Because we do everything you want? Has it occurred to you that I might want to go home?”
“Has it occurred to you that there were some wild accusations back there and that maybe I might want some answers?”
“We don’t need to be at your place for that.”
“Perhaps we should go back to your place and have this discussion in front of Ash or does he know about tonight already?”
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Ash is my best friend! I’ll tell him what I want, that’s got nothing to do with you or your cunty friends.”
“Do you have to be so foul?” Tae clenches the steering wheel, he was prepared for hostility and a battle with Jungkook but this time it was so different.
“I’m sorry I forgot, you may not know this but beggars and tramps are foul, we lack etiquette, so fuck off.” Jungkook was seething, his defences were sky high and he felt like a wild animal backed into a corner.
“I don’t see you that way.”
“I don’t care.”
“This is an extreme overreaction, even for you, if you don’t care.”
“Fuck off, Taehyung.” he turned and looked out of the side window.
The rest of the journey is completed in silence, the air is thick and heavy, Tae’s mind running at high speed as he comes to terms with his feelings. He loves Jungkook, even now when he’s having words spat at him, he loves him, after what his friends said, there is quite clearly something he’s locked away that drives the way he is… and Tae wants to know what it is so he can love him completely.
They enter the apartment without speaking, both distracted by whatever is going on in their heads, Tae turns the air con down and goes to his room to find some pyjama bottoms and a t-shirt of sorts for Jungkook. When he returns, Jungkook is in the kitchen searching for a drink in the fridge, pulling out a bottle of wine and getting two glasses. Tae’s heart aches at the sight of his boyfriend, he looks so dejected and his face haggard with tears.
“I thought you might want to change into some dry clothes.”
Jungkook downs the contents of the glass and refills it, he’s about to tell Tae to shove it but sees the look on his face and can’t bring himself to speak the words so takes the clothes, mutters “thanks” and goes through to the bedroom to change. The waterworks open as soon he is alone in Taehyung’s bedroom, already there have been some happy memories made here and they are anchoring him to the situation. He hates everyone right now, even Ash and Marie because everyone told him to go tonight, they all said that he should give it a chance, they all said it would be okay even though his gut told him the complete opposite. The fact that he put his trust in Taehyung and decided to go, wanting his boyfriend to have the opportunity to make things right, sticks in his throat and the anger simmers within him because he has been so stupid. Jungkook was stupid to believe that he could have a relationship with someone like Taehyung, even looking past all his airs and graces, the world he lives in and the person he is, was always going to cause a problem.
Now, Jungkook is in a situation that he’s been wanting to avoid, he’s known that he would need to start opening up a little but after this evening, he doesn’t have a lot of choice. He wants to say ‘fuck it’ and go home, he wants to turn his back on the man in the living area waiting for him, he wants to wish that he’d never asked him for the smoothie. He should have been like everyone else and just taken that money, if he didn’t have so much pride he would’ve been fine but as he walks out of the bedroom, he knows that it’s gone too far now because he cares more than he should.
Tae is sitting on the couch, there are two full glasses of wine on the coffee table and Jungkook pushes away how much his heart hurts at the look on his face. He knows he can’t make it better and once again is led back to the burning question of why Taehyung pursued him in the first place.
He picks up one of the glasses and takes a couple of big gulps before he sits down at the other end of the couch, twisting his body to face Tae and leaning against the arm with one leg up resting on the cushion. “They didn’t tell you what they were planning?”
“No, no they didn’t. I would never have taken you into that situation tonight, had I known. I wanted tonight to be positive, surely you could see that from the manner in which I introduced you?”
“What I saw was the way your friends set a trap then looked at me like I was no more than some dirt on the bottom of their shoes.”
“Of course that’s what you would see.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means that I put myself out tonight, I attempted to rectify my previous mistake and yet you only see the negatives.”
“Would you like a medal? You spouted a few words to try and make up for the fact that you let your friends think I was a fucking prostitute the first time they met me. Congratulations,”
“Had I known that no one was going to be able to let my previous mistake go, I really wouldn’t have bothered.”
“I was willing to let it go, I wanted to let it go! I wanted to give you that chance to make it right so don’t you fucking dare say that I wasn’t able to let it go. Your arsehole friends didn’t get the memo, though.”
“They haven’t acted appropriately, they shouldn’t have gone to the diner.” Taehyung can't even get his head around that information.
Jungkook scoffs, “Understatement.”
“How much of what they said was accurate?”
“You mean you don’t believe your friends?” the tone was pure sarcasm.
“Jungkook, I would like to hear your side.”
“But they are your friends, Taehyung! They are trying to save you from this tramp. They don’t want you to have a boyfriend who is a beggar, who is only after your money, you deserve better.”
Tae was becoming increasingly agitated, “Can you please stop referring to yourself like that?!”
“They aren’t my words, though are they?”
“No, they aren’t. They are the words of my friends, I understand that but I would like to hear your side of the story. They’ve expressed themselves and now I would like for you to do the same.”
“What’s the point?” Jungkook’s head is starting to ache from the wine and the pressure of the situation. He gets up and goes to the kitchen to get some water, taking some deep breaths as he does because his chest feels so incredibly tight.
Tae follows Jungkook into the kitchen, “The point is that they have accused you of a lot and I think it’s only fair that you get the chance to have your say.”
“If I tell you that all of it was right, that I’m exactly the person they think I am, what will you say?”
“I don’t believe you will say that.” Tae’s heart was beating so hard, his pulse thumping in his temples.
“That isn’t what I asked. How would you feel if I confirmed what they’d said?” he drained the glass of water and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
The CEO could feel the tears welling in his eyes, “I don’t know. I’d feel upset, I suppose.”
“But tomorrow morning you would get up and get your work done here, you would call your friends and tell them they were right and thank them for saving you from the tramp. You would go to work Monday and everything would be normal and you could be relieved that you had a lucky escape.”
“Are you saying that they are right? Are you confirming that everything they said tonight was the truth? Are you?” he blinks quickly, not wanting the tears to fall.
Jungkook looks into Tae’s eyes, he can see the glassiness, he sees the innocence even now and his heart is breaking but the alternative fills him with so much fear that it’s easier to push him away. He shakes his head and looks at the floor, the one thing that he isn’t, is a liar and he can’t tell Taehyung that it was as his friends had said, when it wasn’t. Pushing him away is one thing but he can’t lie, he can’t have Tae think all that of him because he doesn’t want to hurt him like that.
Tae breathes a sigh of relief, he feels quite dizzy as if he’d stood up too fast, he reaches out but doesn’t know what he’s searching for because Jungkook is too far away. He’s scared as he begins to step farther into the kitchen, closing the gap between them, he’s fearful of rejection and hearing things he doesn’t want to hear.
“So… it wasn’t the truth? Please tell me, I would like your side of it.” he speaks softly, cautious in his movements when he touches Jungkook’s fingertips gently with his own.
Jungkook looks up, he wiggles his fingers so slightly that he isn’t sure they are moving at all, “But what if you don’t like what you hear?”
“Then we will deal with it but I can’t make a judgement until I have your side of the story.”
Jungkook takes a very deep breath, his lungs expanding to the point where he feels they might explode, releasing the breath so slowly that it takes forever.
“I don’t remember exactly the conversation I had with Ash, it was a few weeks ago I think but I can tell you what I know.”
“That’s all I’m asking.”
“Okay. Ash was jealous when I told him I’d driven your car after the theme park, he is always begging me to ask you to let him drive it, just to wind me up. He hasn’t seen the pictures you’ve sent me, I can assure you of that. I downloaded an app called Photo Vault that is locked with a passcode, the pictures are in there. Ash probably made a comment about dick pics because he’s an idiot, he’s usually saying something inappropriate…” the next part was difficult but he has to be honest, he laces his fingers with Tae’s as he continues, “... I have spoken to him about sex with you. Not in great detail but he knows me and what I’m like and I’ve been so surprised with the sort of lover you are, that… that I told him bits and pieces. You have this strong business persona and I didn’t expect you to be the way you are and for us to be so well suited in the bedroom. Ash probably did make a comment about me getting you to be good and letting him drive the Ferrari and I probably agreed but it was banter between us, no one else.”
Taehyung listened intently and searched Jungkook’s eyes for a sign of anything that said he wasn’t being truthful but it wasn’t there. He was embarrassed a little, hearing Jungkook talk and knowing that the way he is in the bedroom has been spoken about.
“There wasn’t anyone else involved in your conversation?”
“No, no one. It’s only Ash, Billy and Marie that know about you. I’m not the type to broadcast my personal life.”
“Are you ashamed of me?”
Jungkook’s face contorted with utter incredulity at the question, “Are you serious?”
“Why else wouldn’t you tell people?”
“You mean, like you did? I think that’s more your area of expertise than mine.”
Tae swallows a couple of times in quick succession, the truth does hurt it would seem, “I wanted to put that right tonight.”
“Whatever, Taehyung. Just don’t throw stones when you’re standing in a glass house.”
“Is there anything else you need to tell me about the diner incident?”
“No, my memory of it is vague but I’ve told you what I know. I shouldn’t have had the chat with Ash where others could hear it. We were probably sitting out the back on our break and hadn’t thought about people being able to hear us. I am sorry about that.”
“Thank you, I appreciate your honesty and even though I don’t necessarily feel it is needed, I accept your apology.”
“As I said, I’m not one to broadcast my personal life so I should have thought about it.”
“Are you… “ in retrospect, the diner incident didn’t really matter, Taehyung didn’t quite understand the relationship between Jungkook and Ash but in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t important. However, he did need to ask about the other piece of information and that answer is the one that terrified him the most. “... are you… who you say you are?” the words leave him and he feels like he’s leapt out of an aeroplane, not knowing whether the parachute will open or not.
The question fills Jungkook with dread because the answer isn’t simple, “Yes, I am. My name is Jeon Jungkook, I’ve never lied to you.”
“Why couldn’t they find anything on you? Everyone can be traced nowadays.”
Jungkook’s stomach knots at the question, he feels so violated and he doesn’t want to have to explain, he wanted to open up when he was ready and not because he’s back into a corner, “Maybe your friends make shit detectives as well as being shit human beings.”
“Maybe, but they know people and that doesn’t answer my question.”
“I’ve answered your question, I am who I say I am so either believe me or don’t, I don't care!” he pulls away from his boyfriend and walks into the living area, slumping down onto the couch where he was sitting before.
Tae enters the room and resumes his previous position too, “I believe that you are who you say you are but that doesn’t explain why you didn’t come up in searches or whatever it is they were looking for.”
“I’ve never invaded someone’s privacy so I can’t help you.”
“Why are you getting so defensive if you have nothing to hide?”
“Fuck off, Taehyung. I’m not defensive!”
“You are! You are sitting with your arms crossed and your tone is aggressive. You just walked away from me in the kitchen which is a contrast to you speaking so honestly before that.”
“Perhaps I don’t like that my honesty is in question? Maybe the fact that people have been looking into who I am in such detail has pissed me off?”
“But they have and it’s done so offer an explanation. You were speaking so candidly before but now you’ve closed off.”
“What do you want me to say?”
“I want you to tell me whatever it is you are hiding.”
“Just fuck off,” the words are spoken wearily but with an edge.
Tae slides up to the other end of the couch, sitting right in front of Jungkook, reaches up and pushes some hair behind his ear, “It’s important, please, tell me who you are. If my friends are wrong, I want to know. I can’t defend you or us if I don’t have the facts.”
“Why is it so important? Why can’t you just trust that I am telling the truth when I say that I am who I am? You believed me when I told you about the diner.”
“I do believe you are who you say you are but something is telling me that there is more to it because of your reaction. It is important.”
Jungkook closes his eyes and opens them slowly, looking into the face of his boyfriend who is looking at him with so much affection, even now, “Why is it important?”
It is Tae’s turn to inhale deeply, his chest expanding to its fullest before he releases the breath, “It is important because I love you.”
“What?” Jungkook wasn’t expecting that at all.
“I suspected that my feelings had altered and grown, then while I was confronting my friends at Blueside, after you’d left… it came out… and I knew.”
“You told your friends?” it was suddenly a lot to take in and he wished he’d stayed.
“Yes, I told them. It was the first time I’d admitted it to myself, it just came out and I apologise for that because you should have been the first to hear it.”
Jungkook was struggling to comprehend this, after everything that had happened this evening, after what his friends had said, without knowing what the truth was, Taehyung had defended him and told them that he loved him. Even now, when he still hadn’t given him very much, when the truth about his past was still hidden, Tae is apologising to him because he’d blurted his feelings out to the group instead of him first.
“Please don’t apologise… I… I don’t know what to say.”
“Talk to me… please.” his pleading tone is all that he has left right now.
“I am who I say I am, I promise, that is the absolute truth. The reason they probably couldn’t find any links to me is more than likely because I have a different name to my family. My mother remarried and took my step father’s name.” The tears fall as he speaks.
“Okay, that makes some sense. But if it’s that simple, why the defensive stance?”
“Please… there is more… please… I will tell you… trust me. I am me… I haven’t lied to you but I'm not ready to tell you everything just yet... but I will.”
Tae wipes the tears as they fall, “I do trust you, I’ll be ready to listen when you are ready to talk.”
Jungkook leans forwards and Tae meets him halfway, both closing their eyes and exhaling into the kiss. He pulls back just a little, breaths mingling in the small gap between their mouths. He knows he needs to make a leap of faith and his anger isn't aimed at Taehyung directly. This man, his new boyfriend is here, looking at him with such purity and devotion that his heart is shattering into smithereens. It's in this second that he has a light bulb moment in that maybe they do need to get away, maybe getting out of this environment would be a positive thing for them and if anything else it would really irritate his friends... “I’ll come to London with you.” he whispers. He'd been meaning to accept anyway, he'd wanted to tell Taehyung yesterday but it hadn't happened.
“You will?” Tae whispers back.
With a slight nod of his head, his hands in his lap, he replies, “If I’m still invited?”
Tae pulls back to look in his eyes, his hand cupping his jaw and the pad of his thumb brushing across his cheek gently, “I very much want you with me.”
Jungkook gives a weary smile and connects their lips once more. The evening certainly hadn’t gone as expected and there was still so much more to discuss. He doesn’t understand why Taehyung is so patient with him or why someone like him persists on putting up with someone like Jungkook… but for the first time, the only thing that matters is that he does.