Chapter ThreeBeauty of My World
"How does your friend look like?" Seokjin asks Taehyung, watching the many cars that zoom by intensely.
"Black hair, tall nose, bright smile, and loud voice," Taehyung describes him. "He'll recognize me," he adds, relaxed.
Seokjin is still restless, having never met Taehyung's friend, Hoseok before. Taehyung insisted that he would come to pick them up and that Seokjin did not need to call for Jungkook.
"I'm going to make a quick call so just wait here for a bit," Seokjin tells Taehyung.
"Where are you going?" Taehyung wonders, hands in midair as Seokjin pulls away.
"Just a few feet away for privacy." To make it more lighthearted, he adds, "I don't want you eavesdropping." Despite saying this, Taehyung still looks uneasy.
Seokjin comes back to him, pulling him down to a bench. "I'll only be a moment," he reassures him. Taehyung doesn't say anything so Seokjin gives his hand a small squeeze before getting up.
As he promised, he only moves a few feet away from Taehyung, keeping him in his line of vision. Then, he pulls out his phone which finally has signal.
He clicks on his mom's contact and his call is quickly answered. "Oh, Seokjin," his omega mom sighs out in relief. "I thought something happened to you. Why didn't you call at all?"
"Sorry, Mom," Seokjin feels a little emotional, hearing his mom's familiar, loving voice after so long. "There isn't signal at the plantation. I'm in a town an hour and a half away from the plantation right now for Taehyung's doctor appointment."
"Oh, is everything alright?" his mom asks, concerned.
"Yeah, everything's fine. It's just a check-up," Seokjin tells her.
"That's good then," his mom sighs in relief. "How'd you like it so far?" she asks.
"It's nice," Seokjin hums. Imagining that he's back on the plantation, he describes, "The air is fresh, the weather is perfect, and the plantation is beautiful."
"That's great," his mother sounds genuinely happy for him. "How about Taehyung?" she eagerly presses next.
"He's doing well," Seokjin answers curtly, sparing a glance at Taehyung who is waiting patiently.
"Yeah and?" Seokjin's mom's voice comes out higher in anticipation.
"And what?" he questions, confused.
"Do you like him? Is he nice? Isn't he handsome?" she bombards, excitedly.
"He's..handsome," Seokjin agrees but struggles to answer the rest. Somehow, he feels that Taehyung still doesn't like him.
"Yeah, but do you like him?" his mom pushes again.
"Uh.." Seokjin feels his face redden. "Yeah," he says sheepishly, telling himself that he's just saying so to make his mom happy. His mom squeals and Seokjin feels even more embarrassed.
"I knew you'd like him. Say, maybe I should visit you two? See the lovebirds you two are," his mom teases.
Seokjin's eyes widen. "You want to visit us?"
"Of course!" his mom says happily, yapping about other stuff that just goes through one ear and out the other.
Seokjin stares at Taehyung, remembering his words from the first time they met, 'Only on paper, are we married. However, I'm not your husband and you're not my husband.'
"It was nice talking to you, Mom but I have to go," he interrupts her. "Taehyung's calling for me. Tell Dad I said bye. Bye!" Seokjin rambles into the phone.
"Wait!" his mom calls out and he doesn't have the heart to end the call on her.
"Yes?" Seokjin speaks softly into the phone.
"I miss you so much Seokjin. I love you, you know that?" Seokjin's eyes fill with tears. "Take good care of Taehyung and love him to the fullest, okay? I'll come to visit as soon as I can." With that, the call ends.
Seokjin blinks until the tears are nonexistent and his vision is clear again. He hurries to Taehyung's side. "See, quick as a falcon," he annunciates, lively.
He sits down next to Taehyung just as a car pulls up beside them. The window on the passenger seat rolls down. "Taehyung!" a cheery voice shoots out.
"That's Hoseok," Taehyung tells him, standing up.
"You must be Seokjin," Hoseok says as Seokjin and Taehyung settle into the backseats. He turns around and extends a hand, "I'm Hoseok."
Seokjin takes his hand, shaking it. "Nice to meet you, Hoseok." The beta smiles and the slits of his eyes become smaller. Though a little blinded by the brightness, Seokjin smiles back.
"Tae isn't too mean to you, is he, Seokjin?" Hoseok asks as he starts driving.
Seokjin's taken aback by the question and the nickname. Though a bit delayed, he answers, "Only a little bit.."
"I'm not that mean," Taehyung mumbles with his bottom lip jutting out a bit while Hoseok starts laughing.
"Right," Hoseok says sarcastically.
"He isn't as mean as he was when we first met," Seokjin pitches in frantically, wanting to help Taehyung's case.
This just causes Hoseok to laugh more. Seokjin turns to Taehyung to see if he's mad but he's not. Instead, specs of light pink dusts his cheeks.
"Do you still want me to read tonight?" Seokjin asks as he sits down on the mat next to Taehyung. They both already got ready for bed but they didn't read at all today, having to go to the town.
"Are you tired?" Taehyung asks, already lying down.
"A little," Seokjin answers honestly. "We did a lot today and spoke to many people today." The introvert in him is already missing the days of only him and Taehyung.
"You can read tomorrow. Let's just go to sleep," Taehyung says.
"Really? I can still read if you want me to," Seokjin insists for Taehyung doesn't seem that tired.
"Then why'd you ask?" Taehyung questions bluntly.
"J..just because," Seokjin adverts his eyes from Taehyung. "Let's just read two chapters then," he diverts, searching for the book. He finds it and starts reading.
Not wanting to sit up, he gets under the covers like Taehyung and lies down on his chest holding the book in front of him. As he reads, he finds it harder to open his eyes after he blinks and his words start to drift off until he's asleep.
Yep, he's asleep. The corner of Taehyung's mouth lifts and he lets out a small chuckle. Seokjin didn't even finish a whole page before he was dozing off.
Propping himself on his elbows, Taehyung reaches a hand over to where Seokjin is, wanting to set the book aside. His hand lands on Seokjin's head instead, feeling his soft hair.
His first thought is to pull away. His second is that he's never imagined what Seokjin looks like. He doesn't even know what color his hair is.
Hesitantly, Taehyung caresses Seokjin's head, threading his fingers through his strands of hair. It's soft and silky. Then, his thumb brushes Seokjin's cheek. He doesn't realize what he's doing as his hand comes down to fully cup his cheek.
Seokjin stirs slightly, making Taehyung flinch away. He pulls his hand back, holding it with his other hand, feeling like a criminal. What did he just do?
Taehyung focuses on Seokjin's even breathing and just to make sure he's asleep, asks, "Seokjin?"
Seokjin doesn't respond but Taehyung's heartbeat continues beating wildly. At this, he scolds his heart for there is no relationship between him and Seokjin. Only that of a patient and caretaker.
"What's this?" Taehyung ponders, feeling the object in his hand.
"It's a white cane," Seokjin tells him. "The doctor says that you should start using it now that you can walk again."
Taehyung opens his hand, dropping the stick. It clangs as it hits the floor causing Seokjin to wince. "I don't need it," Taehyung protests, crossing his arms.
"It'll help you navigate by yourself," Seokjin explains, picking the stick up.
"I'm fine the way I am," Taehyung replies weakly. It's quiet as both know that Taehyung is wrong. Yes, he can move around but with Seokjin by his side. To sum it up, he's dependent on Seokjin.
"If you want to help me navigate the world better than get me a service dog," Taehyung murmurs.
Seokjin cracks a smile and goes along, "What dog do you want?"
"A Pomeranian," Taehyung answers, direct.
"A Pomeranian?" Seokjin chuckles. "A Pomeranian won't help you. You need a big dog."
Taehyung seems upset by this but sighs as if agreeing with him. "Where's the walking stick?" he asks, holding out his hand.
Delightfully, Seokjin hands it to him. "I'll teach you how to use it." Before he could show Taehyung how to extend the stick, Taehyung sends it flying across the room. Seokjin's jaw falls open.
Then he has the audacity to say, "Fetch."
Seokjin feels his whole face turn red and he dashes out of the small house.
Seokjin's sitting on the steps of the big house. He sighs as he wraps his arms around his knees. All he wanted to do was help Taehyung. Instead, he got ridiculed by the alpha. Of course.
What was Seokjin thinking? Did he believe that Taehyung was different from all the other alphas? Yes, yes he did.
Seokjin closes his eyes, willing the negative thoughts to go away. He's being sensitive and is overreacting. Taehyung was just joking. Yet, Seokjin is still hurt.
Does Taehyung see him like a dog? Always so eager and ready to do anything for him. That's what he's supposed to do, isn't it?
He's supposed to take care of Taehyung and help him recover. He's a caretaker, nothing more. Has he forgotten that?
Seokjin stands up. He should go make lunch and do what he's supposed to do. He should also forget the whole dog fiasco.
Taehyung doesn't say anything for the whole day nor does Seokjin. When night finally falls and Seokjin steps into the small house, he sees that the mess Taehyung created earlier has been cleaned up. However, the white cane is nowhere to be found.
The tension between Seokjin and Taehyung becomes even more suffocating as they go to bed, lying right by each other.
Seokjin can't help but think back to the whole dog fiasco. 'Why did he have to be so mean? For a moment, I thought we were okay with each other but he just had to go throw attitude at me and literally throw the walking stick,' he complains in his head.
Hearing Taehyung's soft breathing, his thoughts stop before continuing, 'Why him?'
He inhales and then exhales before sitting up. "I'm going to sleep in the big house," he announces before standing up.
"Wait," he can hear Taehyung sit up. But Seokjin doesn't wait, leaving and closing the door behind him.
"Taehyung's fine with you hanging out with me?" Jungkook asks, turning to look at Seokjin who is in the passenger seat.
"Of course," Seokjin says, though not sure himself. "Why wouldn't he be?"
"He seemed against the idea last time," Jungkook says, straightforwardly.
Seokjin laughs, "You're just imagining things."
Jungkook just smiles before reaching into the backseat and pulling out a basket. "I know I'm late but this is a welcome basket."
"Yeah, you're way belated," Seokjin says, lightheartedly. He takes the basket which has two fancy wine bottles, white camellia flowers, and purple tulle. "Wow," he sizes the basket up and down. "This must've been expensive. How much was it?"
Jungkook looks down, a shy smile on his lips. "It didn't cost anything but my time. I made it," he reveals.
Seokjin whistles, "You're talented. I could never put something like this together." He thumbs the petals of the camellia before reading the labels on the wine. He gasps, "This is from your winery."
Jungkook nods. "The best wine in the county because it's made with these hands," he does jazz hands, making Seokjin laugh again.
"Seokjin," Taehyung speaks as Seokjin picks up his plate, clearing the table. "Are you mad at me?" he asks, the words rolling off slow as if they were another language.
"No," Seokjin sets the plate on top of the others in his hands. He doesn't say anything else nor does he glance at Taehyung as he goes into the kitchen.
He turns on the faucet, quickly washing the dishes. Mad? He's not mad. It's been five days since the whole dog, white cane, thing. He's alright. He just needs some space from Taehyung. Sure, he's his caretaker but that doesn't mean he needs to stick by him twenty-four seven.
He sighs and continues washing the dishes. When he finishes, he goes upstairs where the guest bedroom is. Longing for sleep, he swiftly completes his night routine before getting into bed.
However, his sleep does not go undisturbed. Seokjin startles awake when he hears a knock on his door. He rubs his eyes and looks at the clock which shows that it had been two hours since he went to bed.
He switches the light on and opens the door. His eyes widen and his lips part, "Taehyung! What happened?"
"I came to apologize," Taehyung speaks lowly. He raises his head, unintentionally meeting Seokjin's eyes. "I'm sorry about what I said the other day and how I behaved. I shouldn't have thrown the walking stick and shouldn't have told you to, 'Fetch'." Raising the white cane, he continues, "I also used this to come here which I admit was pretty useful."
In one hand is the white cane. Meanwhile, the other is occupied by the blood dripping from it.
"You're bleeding!" Seokjin grabs his hand.
"Ahh," Taehyung inhales, causing Seokjin to worry even more.
"How did you even get this?" Seokjin leads him into the bedroom, cradling his bleeding hand.
"There was a bottle of wine?" Taehyung says in doubt. Immediately, guilt swarms Seokjin. "I knocked it down on accident. Not knowing what it was, I bent down to try to clean it up."
"You," Seokjin chokes up. Then, remembering the still flowing blood, "I'm going to get the first-aid kit."
He comes back and Taehyung is holding his hand out and away from the bed as if not wanting to stain it. Seokjin sinks beside him, taking his hand.
He wipes it gently, feeling more guilt whenever Taehyung in a breath. After cleaning it up, he bandages it. "There's still blood.." Taehyung says calmly.
Confused, Seokjin looks down at Taehyung's arm. The bleeding hand is bandaged and no longer bleeding. Dripping on his arm isn't blood but tears, Seokjin's tears.
Seokjin wipes his tears off of Taehyung's arm. All the while, thinking of when he started crying. "You're not bleeding," Seokjin manages to croak out. Yet, he doesn't have the heart to admit that it's his tears.
"Do you forgive me?" Taehyung asks, dismissing the "blood".
Seokjin tilts his head, not understanding at first but then remembers what Taehyung had said when he first arrived. "Yeah, I forgive you," he says softly. "Can you forgive me for leav-"
Taehyung shakes his head. "It was all my fault. Don't worry about it." He stands up and extends the white cane. "Now can we go back to the small house?"
They fall back on their usual schedule. A small alteration is that they don't read all day. Seokjin carved out a time for Taehyung to practice using the white cane, helping him as well.
"Just put your hand right here," Seokjin guides Taehyung's hand. "Always try to hold it at this part." Taehyung nods, listening to his advice.
They practice going from the small house to the big house. "I think it's also helpful to count your steps so you have an idea of the distance," Seokjin suggests, looking down at Taehyung's timid steps.
Raising his head, he meets Taehyung's eyes. "You don't have to be with me for every step," Taehyung speaks mellowly. "You can go if you want."
"No," Seokjin starts. With the sunset, the caramel color in Taehyung's eyes becomes more visible and he can't look away from the beauty of them. "I want to stay."
Taehyung's lips part in which seems like surprise but he closes them and continues practicing with the white cane.
At one point, Seokjin doesn't hover by his side. Instead, he steps off to the side, watching as he walks by himself with no aide. He feels a proud smile spread across his face, seeing how fast Taehyung is getting used to the white cane.
Eventually, Taehyung reaches the big house. He's on the steps of the back door that leads into the kitchen. Seokjin expects him to step in but he doesn't. Instead, he turns to his right and then his left before turning around. "Seokjin?" he asks, faintly.
"Yes," Seokjin replies from where he stands. Subsequently, Taehyung holds out his bandaged hand towards his voice.
Seokjin feels his chest fill before he rushes to Taehyung's side, slipping his hand into his gently.
"It doesn't hurt too much, does it?" Seokjin asks, tentatively removing the bandage.
It seems that Seokjin is deeply affected by Taehyung's cut hand. He can feel Seokjin's guilt burning into him so he lies, "No."
"Really?" Seokjin asks, hopeful.
"Yeah," Taehyung lies again. He doesn't want to make Seokjin worry more than he already is. He has to bite his tongue to keep from making any sounds as Seokjin cleans his wound.
"Okay, all done," Seokjin says cheerily as he finishes wrapping the new bandage.
As Taehyung tries to fall prey to sleep, his mind wanders to Seokjin, realizing it's been a while since Seokjin came to live with him. "What were you doing before you came here?" he wonders, truly wondering if he disturbed Seokjin's life plans. Surely, he must've had a lot of things he wanted to accomplish and do instead of being stuck here with him.
"I just finished university and was going to work at my dad's company," Seokjin tells him. That's right. Seokjin's father is the CEO of one of the biggest corporations in the country.
"Do you want to work there?" Taehyung asks. Seokjin must have no say in whether he's to follow in his father's footsteps or not.
"I.." Seokjin thinks for a bit. "At first I did but I'm not so sure anymore." Then, clearing his throat, he directs a question at Taehyung, "What about you? Are you going to continue the strawberry plantation once you recover?"
Taehyung had not thought of that, not since his father passed away. "I don't know either," he answers truthfully. Usually, this is as long as his responses are to Seokjin's questions but he doesn't follow that protocol this time around. "At first, I didn't want to at all. I hated the plantation actually," it feels odd to be sharing so much.
Even so, Taehyung continues. "My.." he swallows. "..father was keen on me continuing the family business but that just made me not want to do it more." Taehyung presses his lips together, silencing himself, feeling like he said too much. "That makes me a bad son, huh?"
"Of course not," Seokjin deflects straight away. "You want to be your own person. There's nothing wrong with that," he explains.
Taehyung turns his head to Seokjin, feeling the pillow kiss his cheek. He wonders if Seokjin's looking at him right now.
Before the silence can engulf them, Taehyung asks, "Do you like strawberries?" Immediately, he regrets asking that, realizing how stupid and off-topic the question is.
It's just that, he wants to keep talking to Seokjin.
Taehyung feels warmth in his face but he shoos it away, keeping his calm demeanor.
Regardless of the suddenly different direction of the conversation, Seokjin answers, "I do. I like them a lot. But," he in a breath. "I hate strawberry-flavored things."
"Hate's a strong word," Taehyung comments. "Besides, strawberry has one of the best flavors even if artificial."
"That's a matter of opinion," argues Seokjin. "And the thing is, strawberry flavored things taste nothing like the actual fruit. It just ruins it all. Why call it strawberry flavor when it tastes nothing like it? They have no association. If you want strawberry then just eat the fruit which is real and delicious."
Taehyung can't help it as laughter escapes his mouth, bubbling out delightfully. Seokjin's babbling is...funny.
A blush spreads across Seokjin's cheeks as he hears Taehyung's deep voice bubble into adorable laughter. In the dark, he can only pick up slightly how Taehyung's face looks with a smile. "Wh-what?" Seokjin splutters self-consciously as he looks away from the alpha.
Taehyung's laughter dies down much to his dismay. "I just didn't know you had such strong feelings about strawberries," Taehyung says at last.
"I," Seokjin feels shy now. "I do." With his heart hammering, he bids, "Goodnight, Taehyung."
"Night," Taehyung murmurs.
Seokjin turns his back to Taehyung, pressing his face into the pillow. This is the most Taehyung's ever spoken to him. He hopes it isn't just a one-time thing.
He smiles as he remembers the pleasant sound he heard earlier. Taehyung laughed because of him. He made Taehyung happy which makes him happy.
Seokjin falls asleep, feeling lighter than a feather.
The sun is out and greeting them with brightness but Seokjin did not want to get up at all. He snuggles into his pillow, wanting to return to dreamland.
Faintly, he hears, "Seokjin? Seokjin! Taehyung?"
Recognizing the voice, Seokjin shoots up. He looks down at Taehyung who is deep in sleep like a baby.
Hearing the voice still, Seokjin rushes out of the tiny house. He struggles to open the back door of the big house but once the key finally unlocks the door, he pushes his way inside.
He speeds through the kitchen and into the living room to the front door. Breathing heavily, he opens the door. "Hey, Mom." Turning to a face he has not seen in a long time, "Hey, Dad."
"Where's Taehyung?" Seokjin's mother wonders.
"He's still asleep," Seokjin answers. "I'll go wake him," he stands but before he can leave, his dad speaks.
"It's fine. Let him sleep for a bit. We'll be here the whole weekend anyway," his dad says. Then, with a smile, "Your Mom said that you and Taehyung are doing well. Is that true? Do you like him?"
Seokjin blinks, flustered. "Yeah," he answers shyly. He should be used to this lie but he can't help it as pink blossoms onto his cheeks.
"See, I told you, they like each other," Seokjin's mom squabbles.
"I just wanted to hear it for myself," his dad tells her. "Besides, what if you heard wrong or didn't understand Seokjin?"
"I am not like that," his mom says defensively, crossing her arms.
"She is, isn't she, Seokjin?" his dad asks jokingly.
Seokjin plays along, "Sometimes." This causes his mom's eyes to widen and she goes on a tangent, defending herself. Seokjin and his dad make eye contact, both laughing.
Seokjin did not realize how much he missed his family.
"I told your mom that when you want us to visit, you'll tell us but she insisted we come anyways. That's fine with you and Taehyung, right?" his dad asks as his mom is cooking in the kitchen.
"Yeah, it's no big deal. I missed you guys a lot," Seokjin tells him.
His dad smiles and pulls him into a side hug. Seokjin hugs him tightly, missing his comfort. "Frankly, I was worried that you wouldn't like Taehyung or that he wouldn't like you. I even thought that you two would sleep in different rooms and barely talk to each other."
Seokjin laughs dryly, "Of course not."
His dad senses this and peers down at him, brow raised. Seokjin stands up straighter, "We don't do that an-. I mean, Taehyung was nice to me the second I arrived."
Seokjin feels sweat start to form as his dad watches him with an interrogating gaze. His dad always knew when he was lying or when something was bothering him.
"I should go check up on Taehyung," Seokjin excuses himself. His dad just nods.
Seokjin passes by his mother in the kitchen. "Where are you going?" she wonders.
"I'm checking if Taehyung's awake yet," he informs her.
"You guys don't sleep in this house?" she asks, eyes big.
"W-we do," he stutters. "We were just stargazing last night," he lies.
His mom beams. "Oh, how romantic," she swoons. "Seojun!" she yells for Seokjin's dad. He comes into the kitchen and as she explains to him what Seokjin just told her, Seokjin slips out.
On his way to the small house, he formulates a plan. He doesn't want his parents to find out that he and Taehyung aren't a lovey-dovey, married couple. He doesn't want them to find out that they just treat each other like patient and caretaker.
If they find out the truth, they'll be sad and feel sorry for him. He doesn't want to burden them with that.
Seokjin closes the door behind him gently, not wanting to wake Taehyung up if he's still sleeping. However, when he turns around, he's met with an empty mattress.
The door to the bathroom opens and Taehyung steps out, hair wet. He's in fresh new clothes, his pajamas discarded. Sensing Seokjin, he asks, "Seokjin?"
"Yeah, I'm here," Seokjin walks over to him. Automatically, he picks up Taehyung's hand. "You took a bath, right?" he asks. It's not recommended that a bandaged hand be in the water for too long.
"Bath?" Taehyung brings the towel up to his head of wet hair. "I took a shower. Why?" he says nonchalantly.
Seokjin almost passes out. "I thought I told you not to take a shower. Your bandaged hand shouldn't be in the water for too long," he pouts.
"Oh," Taehyung's eyes widen. "Will I be okay? It shouldn't be infected, should it?"
"I don't know," Seokjin answers truthfully. "Let me change your bandage right now," Seokjin pulls him to the mattress. He does his best to stay calm as they sit down.
Opening the first-aid kit, he hears Taehyung's intake of a breath. "What is it?" Seokjin turns towards him, now panicking. "Does it hurt?" he asks, full of concern.
Taehyung shakes his head, "No."
"Then what is it?" Seokjin questions frantically.
Slowly, a smile creep onto Taehyung's face. "Did you believe me?" He releases a laugh. "Of course, I remember what you told me. My hand is fine." To prove this he waves his hand.
Seokjin is speechless, enraptured by the smile that lights up Taehyung's whole face. It leaves him breathless and stunned. He's never seen Taehyung with such a sincere smile. It makes his chest feel weird.
Seokjin's gaze falters and he drops his eyes down to Taehyung's hand lying in his lap. He pushes it off him. "You scared me, you know?" he chides lightly, not meaning it much.
"I know," Taehyung says, still with his smile.
Seokjin parts his lips to shoot a remark back but his voice is lost as he sees Taehyung's smile again. He can't look away as it dawns on him that the weird feeling in his chest is his heart fluttering.
He has feelings for Taehyung.