Ease - Part 12
Summary: You and your best friend Taehyung have recently got into the same university in the capital of Seoul. Hoping that this was your year to finally admit your romantic feelings towards your said best friend, uni seems an exciting prospect. But of course, the future never really goes according to plan.
The next few days were trying. Confusion and pain swallowed up your thoughts as you watched Taehyung try his best at being overly happy, smiling widely whenever you caught his eye but his face dropping solemn as soon as he thought you weren’t looking. Jungkook was also doing his hardest to pull you out of the mess of your worries, but you sunk deeper every time you saw Taehyung’s pen stop midsentence in class, his eyes blank as he stared at the desk, or when you brushed his hand slightly with yours when you were walking together, and he’d subtly recoil at your touch. He was fragile, and it only strengthened the urge to pull him close in solace.
No matter how many times you told him that he didn’t have to put on a front, he continued to say that nothing was wrong. But he talked too much, too quickly, and he never quite met you in the eyes when he said he was okay. Instead, he let his pale orange hair shadow his face, bottling up his emotions once more.
“He just doesn’t seem to understand that it’s okay to be upset,” you whined, digging your toes into the carpet and letting your arms flop to your sides in defeat.
You were round the boys’ house, but the only people there were you and Jungkook, as Jin and Namjoon had gone home for the weekend and Taehyung was nowhere to be seen. Sitting on the sofa with only a few lamps to light the room and a film playing in the background, it was the perfect setting for romance. However, once the topic of Taehyung came up, you couldn’t stop yourself.
“I really don’t want him to be suppressing how he feels. Tried and tested that one, and I can confirm it doesn’t work. Obviously, I’m not going to force him to talk to me if he doesn’t want to, but I wish he’d stop pretending.”
“You know, you don’t have to be Taehyung’s personal carer,” grumbled Jungkook, helping himself to a third plateful of food from the array of dishes on the coffee table. Although he kept his expression blank, you’d come to recognise the signs of his different emotions. They weren’t obvious, but his ‘pissed off’ signals were a fire in his eyes, the slight straightening in his back, and his tongue poking the inside of his cheek, all of which he was showing at that moment.
Stretching out your foot to the other end of the sofa where he sat, you prodded him with your toe to get him to look at you. “Hey,” you said softly. “I’m sorry for talking about Tae. I know you wanted to have a chilled night.”
As you spoke, your phone buzzed in your pocket as someone tried to ring you. Reading the caller ID and seeing Taehyung’s name, you looked up at Jungkook to check his reaction. He knew who was calling, as Hoseok and Yoongi were both working, and you didn’t have anyone else who would be checking up on you.
Jungkook’s eyes flashed with annoyance, his deep brown irises seeming to grow darker. Not wanting him to get more worked up, you let your phone buzz until it ran out of time and cancelled the call. However, just as you were about to put your phone away, Taehyung tried again and your phone went off once more.
Knowing that something was up, you decided to answer and deal with Jungkook afterwards. “Yeah, I’m here,” you said as a way of greeting. “Everything okay?”
“I need to talk to you,” he said bluntly. There wasn’t any urgency behind his voice, but it was the most pensive you’d heard him for a while. Gone was the usual happy façade, and at last, he seemed to have given in.
Jungkook was staring at you fixatedly, and you tore your gaze away, as if looking at him for too long would agitate him further. “Um, sure,” you stammered, cradling your phone to your ear. “Uh… can we talk later? I’m busy at the moment.”
“Okay. Please call me soon, Y/N.”
“I will, I promise.”
After hanging up, you peered at Jungkook, expecting to see him looking more relaxed after you’d rejected Taehyung’s offer, but instead, his neck was red and he looked ready to cry.
“Guk?” you said worriedly. When he didn’t respond, you scooted up the sofa so you could hook your arms around his shoulders in comfort. However, he remained unflinching and didn’t acknowledge your touch, with his face remaining passive and unreadable while his eyes filled up with tears.
He took a large sniff before turning to you, and finally you could see the hurt and anger under the blank mask he wore. “I can’t deal with it anymore,” he stated flatly, without a trace of warmth in his tone. “If you want to make this work, then you’ve got to stop whatever you’ve got with Taehyung. I really like you, Y/N, and I want you to look at me. Not Taehyung. I need all of you.”
The hopes of a romantic atmosphere were dashed as you felt Jungkook’s possessiveness seep into your skin, but his words wriggled in your chest as they hit home. Jungkook didn’t deserve your wavering emotions, but at the same time, you knew you were unable to give him your full attention. “Jungkook,” you swallowed, watching him pull at his bottom lip with his teeth. “I need more time. To get over him.”
“How much more time?” he questioned, his voice growing louder. “It’s getting ridiculous! You need to stop being selfish, because I’m done with it. Make up your mind, Y/N. You either want me or Taehyung, and you can’t have both. I’m tired.”
“I want to make things work with you! But to do that, I need to sort out my own problems first. I can’t just drop everything and live happily ever after. It was never going to be that easy, and I thought you knew what you were getting into.”
“Knew?” he spluttered, pushing you away roughly and standing up. Veins stood out on his arms as he fumed, breathing heavily as he held in the full force of his anger. “I knew that I would be helping you, but I didn’t count on being your backup plan. You’re being completely deluded – all you need to do is pick a side. Shouldn’t be that hard, even for you.” Without another work, he stalked out of the room, leaving you on the verge of tears.
There weren’t even words to describe the remorse and despair you felt after Jungkook had abruptly departed. Stunned into silence, you stared at the dishes of food left on the side, growing cold as they lay there neglected. What should you do now?
In your heart of hearts, there was only one real option. There was no way that Jungkook would be happy until you’d sorted something out, and nor would you. Although it killed you to hurt one of them, you had no choice; you got yourself into this mess, so you couldn’t rely on Jungkook to pull you out.
You rang Taehyung. However, as soon as you heard his deep voice on the other end of the line, your throat cracked and hot tears rolled down your face. “Tae,” you mumbled, your voice choked up. “I need to see you.”
Taehyung didn’t hesitate as he heard your distressed demand, not bothering to question why you were suddenly upset. “Meet me at the cupcake shop in 15 minutes,” he ordered. “It’s okay, whatever it is. We can talk it through. See you then, Y/N.”
The last thing you wanted was for Hoseok and Yoongi to observe what was about to happen, especially as they knew so much about Taehyung without ever meeting him. You texted Yoongi on the way to the shop, hoping that he’d check his phone as he worked.
having a chat with taehyung in cupcake corner. Please pretend you have no idea who I am!!!
Taehyung had hung up the phone so quickly that you didn’t get the chance to argue the choice of location, and as he still had no idea about the dance competition, you could imagine how awkward introductions to your new friends would be. You were there to sort things out, not create more problems.
sorry, who is this?
p.s. I’ll have a coconut and mango cake ready
To your displeasure, Taehyung was seated at one of the tables closest to the counter, right under the nose of the Hoseok and Yoongi; the perfect distance for eavesdropping. However, you looked at Yoongi straight in the eye as you walked up to pay, daring him to mention something and give the game away. Keeping to his word, he calmly handed you the change and pulled out a readymade cupcake as promised.
“What’s happened?” Taehyung asked concernedly, his eyes filled with worry as you sat down with a defeated thump. “You’re going to get wrinkles when you frown like that.”
He was trying to lighten the mood, but you ignored him. “Jungkook said some things, and I’m realising that I’ve been in the wrong the whole time,” you confessed.
“By the looks of things, I don’t think he said anything.”
You stared at him blankly. “What do you mean?”
“Y/N, I’ve been friends with you for a while now. You have that look on your face, like someone just died. Your eyes are red and considering you were fine one minute and upset the next tells me that Jungkook was involved.” He took a big drag of his coffee, but didn’t take his eyes off you as you blinked furiously, trying to hold back any more tears that were threatening to escape. “What did he do?” he questioned, reaching across the table to rub your arm soothingly.
Taking a wobbly breath, you glanced round to check if Hoseok or Yoongi were listening. Hoseok was on the other side of the room, preoccupied with an electric whisk that didn’t seem to be working, but Yoongi, on the other hand, stood nearby cleaning the counter. Although he had his head down, he kept his body rotated in such a way that he could snoop in on the gossip.
Taehyung pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes as you began recalling the earlier events in hushed tones, so Yoongi couldn’t hear. “He got annoyed because I’ve been messing with his emotions,” you blurted. “I knew I shouldn’t take advantage of his generosity, but I did and it was a stupid mistake to make.” You launched into detail about what happened when Taehyung had rung your phone, but your friend wasn’t having any of it, and jumped straight to the point.
“What did he say to you?” he interrupted, growing more and more serious as you told the story, with his eyes growing hazy and his grip on your arm becoming firm.
“I swear, it was nothing. He was right, anyway. I am deluded and I am selfish, but I guess I hadn’t really thought about it too much. I didn’t want to admit to myself-”
“He said what?” Taehyung’s voice was quiet, but the sort of quiet that comes from extreme anger. A bad sign. “Jungkook was saying that to you?”
“He called you deluded?” As he raised his voice, you became aware of Yoongi standing stock still at the counter, his ears pricked up and alert at your conversation. “No wonder you got upset. Even if you made a mistake, he has no right to insult you. What an idiot!”
Taking a quick peek out of the corner of your eye, you could see Yoongi trembling with a silent rage, his jaw clenching and unclenching as he struggled to keep in his temper. Anything that hurt his friends wound him up immensely, but you sent him mental pleads to stay mute and not say a word.
Looking back at Taehyung, you noticed that he too was bottling up his true frustration as he faintly rocked back and forth in his chair, holding back an outburst of anger.
“Tae, calm down. It’s not that big of a deal, please. I just needed to see you to talk about something else. Well, it’s sort of related to that. But you wanted to tell me something first. That’s why you rang?” You gave Taehyung’s hand a squeeze in reassurance, and he obeyed your request and sat back in reluctance.
“Well,” he sighed, “I don’t think my matter is important anymore. What did you want to say?”
“No, you go,” you demanded.
“Seriously, I think you should. I promise, it can wait.”
Nodding in surrender, you took Taehyung’s hand and led him outside the shop, past the inquisitive looks from Hoseok and Yoongi and into the warm haze of the late afternoon, just so the two boys couldn’t hear your next words. Taehyung looked confused, but you held up his hands in front of him and focused on the writing of his shirt. The words were in English, and you noticed a grammatical error of the sentence, but you didn’t point it out. Instead, you fixated on the letters as you planned what to say next very carefully.
“We shouldn’t be meeting like this anymore,” you stated, your mouth struggling to get around each syllable, as if subconsciously your brain was telling you to stop talking. But you had to say it. You can’t have both. “We need to keep our distance. Jungkook gets jealous, and it’s not his fault. I feel- felt, exactly the same, and it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. I can’t put him through that, especially when he’s tried so hard to be kind and loving. It’s the least I can give him. Do you understand?”
You should’ve stayed fixated on the lettering of the shirt, because as soon as your gaze trailed up to Taehyung’s soft eyes and his quivering lower lip, you felt as if you’d just slapped him. There was a silence following your words, which was only filled by the sounds of the city and the biting whistle of the wind that tossed around Taehyung’s hair. Your clothes billowed around you and you could feel your cheeks turning pink from the chill, but Taehyung remained motionless.
“So, that’s it?” he said finally, a with a small hint of hesitation. “You’re going to stop talking to me because your boyfriend gets uptight?”
“No, I’m doing this to get over you. I’ve spent way too long having false hopes.”
All you need to do is pick a side.
“You can’t end our friendship!” he exclaimed, letting out huffy laughter incredulously.
“We need some time apart,” you corrected. There was a sharp stabbing in your chest, but you dismissed it. I need all of you. “You ignored my feelings about you, even though I spilled my one biggest secret that left me completely vulnerable to you. But all you did was push it aside, and it killed me, Tae. So, I’m being selfish by allowing for someone to love me. If keeping my distance from you lets me do that, then I’ve got to try.” Your last sentence came out in a sob, the hurt driving through your body in an unstoppable wave.
Taehyung was dumbfounded, but the forgiving look in his eyes told you that he wasn’t going to stop you from leaving. Even if you’d told him you’d blown up his house, he probably would’ve hugged you and told you it didn’t matter. And that’s what was so toxic; he was loving and gentle, and you clung to that because it made you feel comfortable.
“We’ve always only had each other, and it can’t be like that anymore. We need to get out of this pit, before we get too deep,” you said, with a finality that signalled the end of the conversation.
“I think it’s too late for that,” Taehyung admitted, his voice cracking and his ears turning a bright shade of red. Going red out of embarrassment was something you rarely saw, but you were in too much of a state to think too deeply about it.
“I need to think about Jungkook – that’s the least he deserves right now.” Bowing your head, you turned yourself away so you didn’t have to observe the disappointment and the confusion written on his face. Despite all the years you’d been friends, situations and circumstances had changed; it couldn’t be harmonious forever. For so long you and Taehyung had got along with no problems, but it was too good to last. Perhaps it was a disaster waiting to happen, you weren’t sure. Out of respect, Taehyung bowed in response, but the tears filling his eyes told you that he was far from okay about the outcome.
But there was nothing you could do. Jungkook needed you to be faithful, both physically and mentally. Although he didn’t tell you in the most careful and gentle of ways, he got his point across: he wasn’t about to fight for something that wasn’t available to him in the first place.
Taehyung kept his eyes upon you as you left, his eyebrows upturned and his hair unkempt and scruffy as a result of his fingers running through his pastel orange locks. You refused to look back, knowing that it only took one glance to melt your defences. You couldn’t give yourself that momentary weakness. Not again.
It put you at peace, knowing that you both had time to grow without the other person there. But it was peace in the saddest way possible.