Seokjin puts the first-aid kit away, having changed Taehyung's bandage. He bites his lip as he finally asks, "May I ask for a favor, Taehyung?"
"Sure, what is it?" Taehyung turns towards him.
"My parents, they.." Seokjin twiddles his fingers. "They think that we are a happy, married couple. I wouldn't want them to..." he chooses his words carefully. "think otherwise for they'll worry about me and I don't want to be a burden for them."
He spares a glance at Taehyung, "I apologize about asking you to lie for me but while they're here, can we act like the couple they believe us to be?" Taehyung's face is neutral and Seokjin frets, afraid of how he'll react. "It'll only be for this weekend and then we can return to how we are," he adds. His heart whines as he finishes, "as patient and caretaker."
"Okay," Taehyung accords, face and tone lacking any emotion. "I'll pretend with you."
Seokjin's solemness disperse and gratitude washes over him. "Oh, thank you so much, Taehyung!"
Seokjin's hand is on the doorknob, ready to turn it when Taehyung grabs his arm. His hand slides down until he reaches Seokjin's hand. "We have to make them believe we're in love, remember?"
"Y-yeah," Seokjin looks down at their clasped hands. Forcing himself to look up, he twists the doorknob and pushes it open.
The smell of food wafts through their noses even before they step into the kitchen. Seokjin's parents beat him to it and speak first.
"Hi, Taehyung," his mom greets.
"Hello, Taehyung," his dad follows.
A smile makes way on Taehyung's chiseled face. "Good morning," he acknowledges, bowing. He raises his head and apologizes, "Sorry about not being here to welcome you two earlier."
"Ah, it's no problem," Seokjin's dad waves his apology off. "You weren't expecting us."
"You've come just in time for breakfast," Seokjin's mom chirps. Seokjin leads Taehyung to the table.
As they eat, Seokjin's parents make conversation with Taehyung who kindly contributes and reciprocates the action. Seokjin's stunned, to be honest. He's never seen Taehyung so sociable and friendly. He reminds himself that this is just all an act, though.
Seokjin doesn't speak much, occupied by Taehyung's sudden new charm. He disappears and isn't mentioned much which he doesn't mind.
"Do you prefer the countryside over the city?" Seokjin's dad asks.
Slowly, Taehyung nods. "It's tranquil and calm. It's also nice to just be surrounded by nature."
"But doesn't it get boring sometimes?" Seokjin's mom wonders and Seokjin sighs in his head at her question.
Taehyung chuckles, the sound pleasing to Seokjin. "No," he debunks. He lets go of the utensil in his hand, hand reaching for Seokjin. His fingers brush Seokjin's wrist before finding their way to his hand. "Seokjin's always by my side, keeping me company so it's not boring."
The wind is in a good mood today, dancing and prancing outside and lifting anything that wishes. It rakes through Seokjin's hair and each time it does, he runs his hand through his hair, hoping to bring its composure back.
Taehyung, on the other hand, doesn't care. His black hair goes flying up and then comes back down in a messy heap which looks like it was intended and styled that way.
Seokjin's parents are still inside after Seokjin finally managed to pull Taehyung away from them. "Thank you," Seokjin appreciates once more now that they were alone.
"It's nothing," Taehyung says indifferently. He plops down on the grass. "Can we stay out here for a bit?" he requests.
"Of course," Seokjin complies, sitting beside him.
Taehyung plucks a strand of grass, playing with it in his fingers. "I'm doing alright, right?" he asks. Clarifying, he adds, "Making your parents believe that we're in love."
Seokjin looks down at his hands. "Yeah," he breathes out. "You're doing well." He's doing so well that it makes Seokjin's heart race at times, believing that his actions and words are real.
"But you don't have to do so much," Seokjin looks back at the alpha who's still playing with the grass in his hands, unbeknownst to his struggles.
"What do you mean?" Taehyung questions, turning his head in Seokjin's direction.
Seokjin wasn't expecting the question so he stammers out, "J-just that you don't have to overdo it."
Taehyung doesn't say anything. Then he extends his hand out toward Seokjin. "Give me your hand," he commands.
Shyly, Seokjin rests his hand on top of Taehyung's. "Have you ever introduced alphas to your parents?"
Seokjin's taken aback by the question. "No..." he replies, voice flat. His eyes widen as he feels something slip around his left ring finger.
Taehyung lets go of his hand, revealing a green band around Seokjin's finger. "Then there is no overdoing. I'm setting the standard as we go."
Pink tints Seokjin's cheeks at his words. Painfully, he has to remind himself that it's all just an act. Still so, his heart hums contentedly as he brings his hand up to examine the new jewelry.
The ring is woven of a piece of grass, some wheat, and one tiny single white flower.
Having Seokjin's parents around isn't as bad as Taehyung had expected. They're amiable and nice to him despite his initial unfriendly nature towards them.
It felt odd at first to have the house be full again but Taehyung's starting to get used to the multiple footsteps and voices. Seokjin also seems to like them around(not that he cares).
Taehyung wanted to laugh when Seokjin first requested their act of being a happily married couple, thinking that it must be a joke for something like that would be what you see in k-dramas and romantic novels.
Yet, Seokjin was not joking. He agreed, feeling like it was the right thing to do. A part of him also wanted to...see how a "relationship" would be like between them. Granted, he's never been in a relationship before so everything he's doing is just the first thing that comes to his mind.
The first day is over and Taehyung finds himself missing the comfort of the little house. Yet, Seokjin is to spend the night in his old bedroom(not wanting to look odd to Seokjin's parents).
"I'm sorry about all of this hassle," Seokjin apologizes.
"Don't be," Taehyung proceeds towards his voice. "It's not a big deal."
He stops as Seokjin puts a hand on his arm. "The bed is right here," Seokjin directs him, guiding him to his twin bed. He even helps Taehyung gets under the covers.
"Where are you going?" Taehyung questions like a panicked child. Realizing his tone, he pauses and regains himself. "Isn't it time for bed?"
"..It is," Seokjin replies in his soft voice that Taehyung has become familiar with. "I took out some blankets and laid them next to the bed to sleep on. If you need anything, I'll be right by your side."
'On the ground?' Taehyung thinks to himself. 'What kind of person do you think I am?' he feels offended that Seokjin thinks that he would allow him to sleep on the hard floor.
"Just sleep up here with me," Taehyung proposes.
"We sleep together in the small house. What difference does it make here?" he wonders. Upon no response or movement, Taehyung gets out of bed.
"What are you doing?" Seokjin asks frantically as Taehyung starts to lay down on the blankets laid out on the floor.
Proud to have irked a reaction from Seokjin, he says smugly, "Sleeping."
He hears Seokjin sigh. "Don't do that," he scolds half-heartedly. Taehyung hears him drop next to him. He feels Seokjin's hands on the blankets, ready to pull them off. "The bed will be comfier."
"Exactly," Taehyung agrees. "But I'll only sleep on it if you do too."
He can practically hear Seokjin contemplating in his head before he finally gives in, "Fine." Taehyung smiles at his victory, allowing Seokjin to help him back to the bed.
He scoots all the way to the wall, creating as much space for Seokjin. They both lie down, arms touching. At this Seokjin starts to turn away from him but he reaches a hand to hold him still. His hand falls on Seokjin's hip.
"Seokjin," he calls out in the dark, voice almost gentle. Seokjin only hums as a reply.
Taehyung's tongue flicks out, wetting his bottom lip before disappearing. He doesn't understand why he's so nervous but he asks, "How do you look like?"
It really shouldn't matter to him what Seokjin looks like but he wants to know. The longer he gets to know Seokjin, the more curious he becomes.
"I.." Seokjin's voice trails off. "Well, I'm the same height as you." Taehyung's not taken aback by this information, guessing it to be like so already. "I have black hair and broad shoulders."
Taehyung tries to imagine Seokjin with the new information. The Seokjin he ends up with is faceless as Seokjin didn't describe his face.
"What about facial features?" Taehyung probes.
"...I look pretty normal," Seokjin murmurs.
Taehyung's forehead creases. "How is that supposed to help me imagine what you look like?"
"Well," Seokjin huffs softly. "That's how I look like."
Taehyung turns onto his side, elbow supporting his upper half as he lifts his head from the bed. His hand leaves Seokjin's hip.
"W-what are you doing?" Seokjin stutters as his fingertips brush the top of his head.
"Figuring out how you look like since you won't help me," he answers with an underlying tone of playfulness.
Seokjin doesn't say anything nor does he stir as Taehyung lets his fingers run through his hair. This is the second time he's doing this but this time it's different now that he knows the color of the strands lacing through his fingers.
He also has Seokjin's permission so he doesn't rush the process. He does his best to imagine Seokjin's head of black hair, imagining it bouncing back as it leaves his touch.
Slowly, his fingertips travel to Seokjin's forehead. They run over, feeling the smoothness and pushing back the fringes that fall over.
His fingertips soon tiptoe across Seokjin's neat brows, then his nose. Taehyung's hand caresses Seokjin's cheek as his thumb hovers over Seokjin's lips.
Tentatively, his thumb traces the outline of his lips before sliding over Seokjin's bottom lip. Taehyung's surprised at how soft and plump it is. The top lip is also just as soft and full.
Taehyung lets his eyes close and imagines Seokjin's face now that he somewhat has the missing pieces.
His imagination first starts with a silhouette of a man. Piecing all of his collected information, the man starts to become more distinctive. His shoulders were broader, his head full of black hair, etc.
Once finished with piecing it all together, Taehyung lets his eyes open, still seeing nothing but now having a better sense of the omega under him.
Warm breath kisses his thumb, reminding him that he has not removed it. He takes in a shaky breath as he pulls his hand away.
"Goodnight," he mumbles before turning his back to Seokjin and letting his head hit the pillow. He clutches the hand that was just caressing Seokjin's face to his chest, feeling the pounding against it.
Seokjin does his best not to react as Taehyung's fingers trace his brows. It's not hard to stay indifferent though as his mind is still juggling the fact that Taehyung wants to know what he looks like. He bears the face of a normal person.
He doesn't have the small frame that omegas are supposed to have. His scent isn't even the popular desired vanilla scent. However, Taehyung doesn't know any of this at all and he doesn't want to make him think he does only to be disappointed when he recovers.
Seokjin stares up at Taehyung's intricately carved face. Though the darkness surrounds them, he can still make out the alluring features.
Taehyung caresses his cheek and he almost leans in. Shame quickly floods him and he reminds himself that he is nothing to Taehyung, only a caretaker. Taehyung should also be nothing to him, only a patient.
Yet, here Seokjin is, catching feelings.
Seokjin's eyes widen as Taehyung's thumb hovers over his lips. Slowly, his thumb graces his lips. Seokjin limits his breathing, self-conscious about how close Taehyung is.
Delicately like a baby falling asleep, Taehyung's eyes close. Despite all the warning signs telling Seokjin to not let his heart flutter anymore for Taehyung, his heart does. Attached to his heart is his omega who beams at the attention of Taehyung.
Taehyung's eyes open but he doesn't move away. Instead, his eyes seem to land on Seokjin as if knowing what he looks like.
Seokjin releases a small breath, unable to breathe under the small distance between them. As if repelled, Taehyung pulls his hand away.
"Goodnight," he mumbles as he turns away from Seokjin.
Seokjin is still in the same spot, feeling like he got slapped. Did he do something wrong? Did Taehyung imagine an ugly omega taking care of him and is now disgusted?
Seokjin turns his back on Taehyung, trying to shoo the negative thoughts away and failing miserably at doing so.
"How'd you sleep last night?" Seokjin's mom asks as she comes into the kitchen.
"Alright," Seokjin mutters, pouring the freshly brewed coffee into a mug. He wasn't alright though. His mind was still on last night's events. "Do you want coffee?"
"Sure," his mom chirps. As he pours it into another mug, his mom comes up to him. "What's wrong?"
"Huh?" Seokjin turns around, handing her the mug. Her eyes are slightly narrowed, not in suspicion but concern. "Your scent isn't that pleasant..."
Instinctively, Seokjin brings up a hand to cover the scent gland on his neck. "You don't have to hide it," his mom tells him supportively. "Just talk to me about what's bothering you."
"It's nothing..." Seokjin lies but it doesn't fool her.
"Seokjin," she chides lightly.
Seokjin turns his back to her, taking a sip from the coffee. It burns but he swallows it, letting the burn continue. He can't lie to his mom anymore, can he?
"It's just that..." Seokjin grips the mug tightly. "You and Dad are leaving today," he continues to lie.
She buys it and sets her mug down, pulling Seokjin into a hug. "We can always visit again. Besides, you won't be alone. You'll have Taehyung."
The mention of Taehyung only adds to the coffee's bitterness. However, Seokjin embraces his mom back.
It's been three days since Seokjin's parents left. The peace occupies the plantation again since it's just Seokjin and Taehyung now. Yet, it's much appreciated for Seokjin feels like he can breathe again, not having to pretend anymore.
Whenever he's with Taehyung(which is the whole day), he does his best to keep his mind someplace else. This way, he won't start thinking foolish things and won't forget Taehyung's order that they shall only be patient and caretaker.
A knock on the door stops Seokjin who is in the middle of washing dishes. He turns the faucet off, wipes his hands dry, then rushes to the front door. Taehyung is back at the little house, taking a nap.
Seokjin pulls the door open to meet a bright-eyed Jungkook. "Hi," he greets with a toothy grin.
"Hi," Seokjin greets back with a friendly smile. "Come in," he offers, holding the door open wider. Jungkook nods, following him into the house.
"Where's Taehyung?" Jungkook wonders, coming into the empty living room.
"He's taking a nap. Do you need to talk to him?" Seokjin asks.
Jungkook shakes his head, "No, I don't." He rubs his nape. "I came here to see if you're free this evening." Meekly, he peeks up at Seokjin. "There's a lantern festival happening. Would you go with me?"
"Oh," Seokjin immediately thinks of Taehyung who will be all alone if he goes. Subsequently, he recalls that he's supposed to be distancing himself from Taehyung. Perhaps he can leave Taehyung alone for just a bit.
"Sorry, Jungkook," Seokjin apologizes. "I'm kind of busy tonight. Perhaps another time?"
Even if his feelings are complicated, he shouldn't leave Taehyung. He is still his caretaker and therefore is responsible for anything that happens to him.
Jungkook seems disappointed but he still smiles cheerily. "It's okay. Promise you won't turn me down next time."
Seokjin laughs softly, "Promise."
Seokjin sits down on the grassy hill overlooking the strawberry plantation. The only light source visible is the one in his hand. Tonight is a moonless and starless night, perfect for the lantern festival.
Despite declining Jungkook's invitation, Seokjin still hopes to see the lanterns. While he waits, his thoughts soon become directed at one individual.
Seokjin glances at the little house, wondering if Taehyung is still sleeping. After finishing his chores, he checked on the alpha who was still deep in sleep. Then, he came out here.
Concluding that Taehyung is still sleeping, Seokjin turns back to the sky. He lets out a sigh at the mention of the alpha.
'Get a hold of yourself, Seokjin. He's made it clear that he doesn't want to be associated with you. Why did you have to go and catch feelings for him?' he scolds himself sullenly.
Yet, as he remembers Taehyung's beautiful eyes, handsome smile, and deep voice, he feels his heart yearn for the said person.
He squeezes his eyes shut, trying to banish the thoughts away. 'So I find him attractive. That's all it is. I don't like him,' Seokjin tells himself.
He brings his knees up to his face, burying his face in them. The cold wraps itself around him as the lanterns are yet to make their appearance.
"Seokjin!" Seokjin hears Taehyung call. Immediately, he shoots to his feet.
Turning around, he finds Taehyung standing outside the tiny house. "Yes, Taehyung," Seokjin jogs to his side. "What is it?"
"Where were you?" Taehyung reaches a hand out, grasping only the air.
"I was just sitting out here," Seokjin replies.
"It's nighttime, though. Right?" Taehyung questions.
"It is but I wanted to..." Seokjin hesitates, not wanting to offend Taehyung since he won't be able to see the lanterns. Oblivious, Taehyung waits patiently for him to finish. "see the lanterns tonight since there's a lantern festival happening in the nearby town."
Taehyung's lips press into a thin line, rushing regret into Seokjin. "But it's late and I've been waiting a while. The lanterns still haven't shown up so let's just go inside," Seokjin tells him, pushing away his desire to see the lanterns.
He's about to head inside when Taehyung speaks, "No, let's wait."
Confused, Seokjin asks, "Why?"
"You want to see them," Taehyung simply says as if that's the only thing that matters.
The cold that was eating at him disperses. "You don't need to stay with me," Seokjin whispers, a gentle lilt lacing his voice. He didn't want to get his hopes up.
Taehyung takes a step towards his whisper. "I'll stay."
It has been half an hour since Taehyung joined Seokjin but the lanterns were still nowhere in sight. The temperature had dropped dramatically. Taehyung looked bored and the tip of his nose was starting to turn red.
Seokjin pulls the blanket around his shoulders off, setting it on Taehyung's shoulders instead. Taehyung looks alarmed by this. Immediately, he voices his disapproval, "I'm fine. I don't need the blanket."
He goes to remove it but Seokjin puts his hand on top of his, stopping him. "It's getting quite cold and you're only in pajamas."
"What about you?" Taehyung asks in return.
Seokjin's thoughts momentarily halt at the unexpected question but he continues, "I'm wearing jeans and a padded coat." At last, Taehyung drops his hands, accepting the warmth.
It's quiet again as they wait for the lanterns. Unable to withstand the silence, Seokjin speaks, "Aside from the cold, the breeze is quite nice, isn't it?" Taehyung hums which Seokjin thinks is in agreement.
Before Seokjin can come up with something else to talk about, Taehyung beats him to it. "You aren't tired, are you?"
"Tired?" Seokjin tries the word out, feeling no sense of exhaustion. "No," he answers straightforwardly.
"Really?" Taehyung asks with disbelief. "Weren't you cleaning all day?"
"...I was," Seokjin replies, not sure where Taehyung is going with this.
"You don't," Taehyung pauses. "need to do everything. I can hire a maid and a cook."
Seokjin's surprised at the offer but he declines, "You don't need to do that. I don't mind cooking and cleaning." Besides, he doesn't have much else to do.
Taehyung looks like he wants to say more but before he can, Seokjin notices light reflecting in his eyes. Excitedly, Seokjin whips his head back to the sky where the lanterns have finally made their appearance.
A gasp leaves Seokjin's lips as more lanterns light up the sky. He's easily immersed in them, having seen nothing like them before.
"How do they look?" Taehyung asks.
Seokjin's taken out of his stupor. He shifts back to Taehyung who's also looking at the sky but of course, he doesn't see. Guilt almost occupies Seokjin's mind but he thinks of a better way to help Taehyung.
"The night sky is clear tonight, as dark as your hair. No moon or stars in sight. Nevertheless, something has broken through the darkness. First, it's just one ball of light. But that one lone star leads the others to show themselves. Up above us so high, they don't seem like lanterns. Instead, they are a galaxy," Seokjin pauses, watching as the lanterns stick together no matter the quantity. "There're many but they're together as if a gravitational force is within."
Seokjin feels a sense of tranquility, watching as the lanterns float further away. As he watches them float aimlessly with no worries, he's reminded of his worries. Specifically, the night Taehyung turned away from him when they slept together is still bothering him.
Seokjin keeps his eyes on the lanterns but from the corner of his eyes is Taehyung who is unknown of Seokjin's emotions. It should be kept that way. He doesn't ever need to know and at one point, Seokjin will stop liking him. He should just focus on making Taehyung feel better both physically and mentally.
That way, everything and everyone will be fine.
"There're many but they're together as if a gravitational force is within." Taehyung was imagining the lanterns at first and with Seokjin's description, had painted a pretty picture. Yet, now, he found himself listening closely to Seokjin's voice.
When did he start to think of his voice as silvery and pleasant? Does Seokjin talk to everyone like this?
Taehyung inhales, pushing the thoughts away. Such thoughts do not need to be occupying his mind.
"Should we go back inside?" Seokjin asks.
"Yeah," is the only word Taehyung can muster. When they arrive inside the little house which Taehyung is starting to realize that this is less of a house and more of a shed, he starts to question his treatment of Seokjin.
Understandably, he doesn't see Seokjin as his husband. However, he shouldn't have banished him to live in a shed.
"Would you like me to read for you tonight?" Seokjin suggests. "You took a long nap so you must not be exhausted yet."
"You're not going to sleep?" Taehyung asks, befuddled.
"No, I'm not that tired," Seokjin tells him.
"Then..a little reading would be okay," Taehyung says, giving in. He had been missing Seokjin's reading.
"Let's go somewhere today," Seokjin suddenly proposes as they eat breakfast.
"Where to?" Taehyung asks, indifferent despite his initial surprise at Seokjin's invitation.
"Around the plantation," Seokjin beams. "I think a little fresh air wouldn't hurt." Taehyung likes that. It'd be nice to do something different once in a while. "Would you like to do that?"
Taehyung nods, "Mmh."
After breakfast, he helps Seokjin wash the dishes. Then, they tour around the plantation as promised. Taehyung notes every detail Seokjin describes to him of the strawberry plantation, having not remembered what it looked like.
When he came back from abroad, he was so busy trying to get away from his alpha father, that he didn't get to revisit the strawberry fields which he loved as a child.
"The strawberries aren't visible yet but their vines are a healthy green," Seokjin tells him.
"Are there any flowers?" Taehyung wonders aloud, remembering the tiny white flowers that accompanied the strawberries.
"Yeah, there's one!" Seokjin exclaims excitedly. Taehyung can hear him move away, presumably towards the flower.
"Wait," he reaches his hand out, luckily, taking hold of Seokjin's wrist. "Don't pick it," he tells him. "It's a companion plant for the strawberries," he recalls what his omega dad taught him.
"What does that mean?" Seokjin questions inquisitively.
"It means that the flowers help the strawberries grow better, fending off weeds and insects. The relationship isn't just one-sided though. The strawberries also help the flowers to grow better," Taehyung finishes. "When the strawberries are at their ripest, the flowers bloom prettier than ever," he adds, remembering the sight. He wonders if he'll be able to see it again.
"Oh, so they really are companions," Seokjin notes, endeared.
Remembering his hand around Seokjin's wrist, he loosens his hold but before he can pull his hand away completely, Seokjin tugs him by the sleeve.
"You should tell me more things," Seokjin says softly. "I like learning from you."
No one's ever said they like something from Taehyung other than his face. He doesn't know how to take in the compliment or comment(whichever one it is, probably just a comment).
He's not sure how to feel about it but somehow, he feels more like smiling.
"There's a tiny stream here," Seokjin observes.
"There is?" Taehyung seems intrigued.
"It's not that deep but I can't see where it ends," Seokjin stretches his head out, trying to spot the end of it.
"I don't recall a stream..." Taehyung ponders.
"Shall we follow it?" Seokjin proposes.
"Sure," Taehyung agrees. With his permission, Seokjin leads him by the sleeve along the shimmering stream. He points out anything interesting for the alpha. He's glad he brought Taehyung out. He seems to be enjoying it.
As the stream comes to a stop, Seokjin sees a big maple tree. Its branches are filled with green leaves. Looking around, Seokjin realizes that they're further from the plantation now. There's even a forest that he failed to see before.
"What is it?" Taehyung asks, noticing his change of direction.
"The stream ended but..." he doesn't finish as they approach the maple tree.
At that moment, Taehyung yanks his sleeve out of Seokjin's hold. "What's wrong?" Seokjin asks, confused.
Taehyung takes a few steps back, panicked and frantic. "I'm sorry..." he mumbles before turning around and sprinting off.
"Taehyung!" Seokjin yells as Taehyung runs further from him and towards the forest. He doesn't think twice before sprinting after him.