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Ice for Burns

Chapter Text

 

 

Hot, hot water, hotter than the winter air. Hotter than the rage in his veins like chugging fresh coffee. Another opportunity slipped by, and the worst is that he knows he did his best. He just didn't have “the look” they wanted.

A shower can't solve anything, but then again, nothing can. He'll stand there until it doesn't matter so much. Until breathing doesn't feel like a fight against his rib cage.

Too annoyed to cry, the tears come out anyway. He sniffles them away in annoyance, reaching for the soap to distract himself.

“Hoseok?” asks a voice from the other side of the shower curtain.

Fear lurches his heart up into his mouth so fast he gags. The apartment is empty. Locked.

Frozen beneath the hot water, he doesn't move, doesn't breathe.

“Hoseok, are you okay?”

Naked and trembling, he throws the shower curtain open with a plastic-y clack. No one is there.

For half a breath of a second, though, a face in the thick fog of steam. Maybe. Maybe just his terrified imagination. Hoseok rushes through the rest of his shower, shaking and convincing himself he saw nothing.

Doors thrown open, music blasting, every light in the apartment on for a false sense of safety. Finally falls asleep curled up in the corner of the bed next to the wall after 2am.

Unknown to Hoseok, the face he maybe saw, maybe dreamed up in terror is there, nothing more finite than a moonlight shadow. Fingers attempt to smooth back Hoseok's mussed bangs but can't quite manage to make contact.

“I'm sorry I scared you. I was just worried.”

 

+

 

Hoseok doesn't hear the voice again until next Tuesday at 7:35pm.

“Fuck, shit,” Hoseok yelps as the pan clatters from his faulty grasp and lands mostly intact on the oven rack.

The oven hangs open as Hoseok's attention is taken by the painful burn across his wrist, already puffing up. He opens the freezer door and rummages for an ice tray, waving his hurt wrist in the air and hissing.

“Don't use ice,” comes a voice from... nowhere.

Saucer-wide eyes scan all over the room, but it's empty.

“Ice makes burns worse.”

He shudders and falls back against the kitchen wall. Ice cubes clatter all over the floor.

Without a word, Hoseok turns off the flung open oven, marches quietly toward the front door, throws on beat up Nikes and a trench coat over his pajamas. The door shuts with a firm click.

Forty-five minutes later, the door swings back open.

“Thank you for staying over, Namjoon. And for not saying I'm nuts,” Hoseok giggles nervously, eyes darting around his apartment.

“Yeah well, you're nuts,” Namjoon answers, shrugging off his coat.

“Do you want pizza or not!” Hoseok grumbles.

“Oh no, what ever would I do if you withheld your shitty three dollar pizza?” Namjoon gives him his best unimpressed face but his dimples betray him.

Pizza is microwaved and eaten, tv is turned on and ignored. Namjoon spreads homework all over Hoseok's living room floor and stops there, apparently content to just display it.

“Do you think I'm really nuts?” Hoseok asks, laughing like it's a casual topic but his voice shakes.

“You came banging on my door yelling about a ghost giving you advice, soooo...”

Hoseok tries to laugh but it doesn't come out right.

“At least the advice was good. You're supposed to use cool water for burns, you know.”

“Since when?” Hoseok grumbles, tomato sauce stuck to his chin.

“Since like, always.”

It's too weird a subject to bring up, so they both stare at different spots on Hoseok's homework-littered floor waiting to see if the other would start. They don't, talking about nothing instead, tweets that make them laugh or whatever situation Taehyung got himself into recently.

Ghost appearance-free, Namjoon goes home the next morning, promising sincerely through mocking jokes and laughter that he'd come over again if Hoseok needs him.

 

+

 

The voice terrorized him with unsolicited (but correct) advice a few more times over the next week.

It was “Hoseok, you should use a creamier soap in the winter, doesn't your skin itch?” or “Hoseok, you're holding the knife wrong!” or “Hoseok, you should really turn off the electric blanket when you go to sleep.”

Each time, Hoseok froze with a choked back scream, clutching the nearest steady surface before mechanically marching toward his phone to call Namjoon or some other friend for comfort and distraction.

His friends laughed at him every time, called him a variety of names, but kept talking to him nonetheless, kindly explaining how ghosts aren't real or ruthlessly telling him their scariest ghost stories.

His determination to pretend he heard nothing was admirable. New body wash appeared in the shower though, and his internet search history included “best way to cut vegetables” and “ice for burns”.

“Can't even make a fool of myself in my own house,” he grumbles after the fourth or fifth piece of timely advice that seemed to be conjured out of thin air. But his hands still shake as he wipes down the coffee table, mumbling something about “god damn ghosts and shit.”

“Hoseok? I'm not a ghost.”

Still as the furniture, Hoseok freezes in the middle of the dark room. “At least, I don't think I am.”

No response, not even a twitch. “I don't mean to scare you,” the voice goes on. “I don't- don't wanna scare you.”

“Who are you?” The quietest question. Hoseok's too scared to turn around and actually see something.

“Yoongi, um, Min Yoongi.”

Instinct takes over and Hoseok whips around. His heart lurches into his stomach, so afraid and relieved to see nothing in the same instant. “From physics class? What the fuck?”

“You- you knew me? I didn't think you knew who I was,” the voice answers shyly.

Hoseok almost feels bad admitting it but, “I didn't, exactly. Just, the teacher called your name for attendance every day for two weeks and I was a little curious who the no-show slacker Min Yoongi was.”

“Ah. Yeah well, I died I guess, so.”

“Right,” Hoseok laughs awkwardly, picking at a sticker stuck to the bookshelf to distract himself from the wild thud of his heart. “Good reason to miss class.”

He looks up into the grey tones of his living room, but there are no eyes to make contact with. His mind is screaming I'm insane I'm insane I've lost it I need help but, at the same time, the voice is there, normal as any voice.

Closing his eyes makes it easier, he finds. Easier to forget there's no body attached. “How..? Er, why...?” Any question he can think of sounds rude. He sits gingerly on the arm of the sofa, eyes shut.

“I'm dead, Hoseok, you're not gonna hurt my feelings.”

He chuckles a little, but still, it's hard to say. “You- you died?”

“I died. And... heaven was weird. There wasn't a bright light, I mean there was, there was a lamp on her table- anyway, there was a woman, whose face kept changing. She said she was 'of the paths'.”

“She said- what? I think- not to be rude but, I don't think that was heaven.”

“Yeah, no shit.” The voice seems closer, to the left. “But, it wasn't hell. It was... alright. Normal, besides her face doing the thing. She said I could 'go back and finish my path', or I could 'be a quitter and ferry souls.'”

“But you're not...I mean you're a ghost or whatever, it's not... not really 'going back'?”

“Yeah, I've had a lot of time to think, these past few weeks, and I've come to a conclusion.”

Hands shaking in his lap, Hoseok waits for it. It's not what he expected.

“I think she was fucking with me,” Yoongi said confidently.

“She- you- what?”

“Yeah. Like, I died, and then I was just, sorta there, in some place, and she called me in and I figured she knew what the hell was going on, you know? I figured she worked for god or something. But what if she was like, a trickster?”

“A what?” His sanity was feeling more and more questionable the longer he let the voice talk.

“A trickster. I dunno, you hear about tricksters. Maybe that's what she was.”

Hoseok bursts into laughter and buries his face in his hands. “Shit. I'm really losing it. I need to go see someone, a doctor or-”

“I know, I know," he dismisses Hoseok's hysterics. "But listen, I'm really here, I'm really not a ghost, I'm just...not quite...I don't know. She didn't explain much. I didn't ask.”

You didn't ask? Are you kidding?” He finally raises his face from his hands.

“Have you ever died?” Yoongi sounds exasperated. “You don't know what it's like. Imagine the first day of school. As a freshman. In a different country. In another dimension. And also like, y'know, you just died. Yeah, I didn't ask. I didn't ask, and here the fuck I came, and here the fuck I've been.”

The living room is quiet. Hesitant, Hoseok puts a hand out in the direction of the voice.

“To the left,” Yoongi provides. “Little more. Yep, that's my face, you went through it,” he laughs.

Hoseok shudders. “Christ. I gotta... go to bed and... god.” He suddenly shrinks back into himself, centered again on the scary things the whole conversation suggests about his sanity.

As if the little act of normalcy would save him, he busies himself with straightening up the coffee table. “Gotta go to bed,” he repeats. “Early day tomorrow, time to sleep,” he attempts at chipper.

Unbothered, the voice just calls a goodnight after him as Hoseok hustles down the hall.

 

+

 

A couple nights later, Hoseok clatters through the front door and groans like the dead.

“Fuhmck,” he slurs, struggling to toe out of his shoes.

“Why is my head trying to come out my ears?” he asks no one in particular. Every wall in the apartment seems to leap up to block him.

“Ow fuck,” he whines, shoulder smacking against the door frame of the kitchen. He stands there a minute, slumped face first against the wall.

“Shit,” his eyes fly open. Careening back through the living room, he makes to the bathroom just in time to throw up in the toilet.

Clinging to the toilet seat, he waits for the next wave, sniffling and panting.

“Hoseok?” comes the deep voice behind him.

“I hate throwing up,” he wails, way too drunk to bother being scared of the disembodied voice. He lays his head on top of his hand on the toilet seat and squeezes his eyes shut.

“Drank a little I guess?” the voice asks.

“I'm so drunk, drunker than the vodka, I'm so, oh no-” he throws up again, slumping against the bathtub with a quiet, sloppy wail.

“I wish I could get you some water.”

“Nnngh,” Hoseok agrees, body slack, eyes shut.

Quiet settles in the tiny bathroom as Hoseok's breath evens out.

“Hoseok. Hoseok, you can't stay there.”

Hoseok twitches back to consciousness at the sound and whines. “Can't move. There's so many... air, pushing me... down...” He falls back unconscious, neck cricked back at an awful angle.

“Hoseok. Hoseok! You can't. Hoseok! God damn it-”

A loud groan and Hoseok manages to flop his head back up. “Are you my guardian angel or something?”

“I don't think so-”

“-'s gotta be. Probably got... in your angel contract, they'll probably... fire you if I die by my toilet.”

“I don't-”

“Okay, okay,” Hoseok groans, pulling himself to all fours. He slaps a hand to the sink and pulls himself to standing, promptly crashing sideways into the wall.

“Jesus, Hoseok how much did you drink?”

“No worries. I'm good, angel. Totally alright.”

“I don't think I'm an angel,” he answers but there's a smile in Yoongi's voice.

Hoseok pays no attention, stumbling toward his bedroom. “Totally fine, just gotta... across the hall and... biiiitch yes, look at my bed. It's beautiful. Are you looking at it?”

"It's a very nice bed, Hoseok," he placates. "You should-"

Hoseok falls into the mattress with a long groan of pleasure.

He's asleep within seconds, still in his jeans, deaf to the deep voice nagging him to sleep under the blankets instead of on them.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“That smells so good,” Yoongi says behind him the next afternoon. Hoseok yelps and fumbles the spatula. He deflates, last night's conversation with the ghost or angel Min Yoongi coming back to him along with a piercing hangover headache.

“You can smell?” He tries to keep the fear from choking up his voice.

“Mmhm. And see, and hear."

Counting on his fingers and mumbling to himself, Hoseok finally follows up with “no taste or touch?”

“No taste or touch,” Yoongi says on a long sigh.

“Well, you're not missing out on much. I'm shit at making pancakes.”

“You're waiting too long to flip them,” Yoongi agrees from behind his shoulder.

“You're a nag,” Hoseok counters, laughing, but not hard enough to jostle his aching head.

It's quiet for a moment in the sunny little kitchen, little scrapes of the spatula and batter pouring. “Am I really doing this? Talking to a ghost?”

“It's ghost again? Not angel?” Yoongi sounds amused. “I really don't think I'm either.”

“What are you then?” Hoseok laughs.

“I told you, I don't know!” Yoongi pouts. “I'm just, disembodied.”

Hoseok slides another pancake to his plate and turns off the stove. “Why are you in my apartment, though?” The last bit of syrup takes its sweet time trickling from the bottle, both of them licking their lips as they watch.

When Yoongi speaks again, there's some little something in his voice that nothing besides human instinct could detect as being off. “I-I told you, I don't know.”

A little alarm of suspicion or curiosity sounds in Hoseok's head but he shrugs it off in favor of a mouthful of buttery pancake, licking syrup from his lips.

Yoongi whines like a dog somewhere nearby. “I'd die for that bite of pancake,” he longs in anguish. “Die again, I mean,” he corrects himself, grinning in surprise when Hoseok bursts into a boyish laugh.

 

+

 

“So then, Joon- where am I moving this to?” Hoseok asks, hovering the black checker piece over the board.

It's been a couple weeks, fear and apprehension melting away to an easy companionship. There's even been a few times that Hoseok would admit to flirting, if Yoongi wasn't a ghost and all. It's nice though, having someone to come home to, someone to pester you about your well-being.

“To the left, jump, jump, there,” Yoongi directs.

“Fuck,” Hoseok mutters, tossing two of his pieces to Yoongi's side of the checkerboard. “Anyway, so then, Joon wanders downstairs ass naked, thinking it was gonna be like, a sexy morning surprise for his rich, mansion-owning potential boyfriend, right? Only to see the guy's parents, uncle, and two younger brothers sitting around the breakfast table.” Hoseok collapses in loud laughter at the story, nearly tipping over the checkerboard.

Yoongi laughs with him, knowing Namjoon well enough from his several visits over the last weeks. “Did they run him naked out of the house? Shit,” he wheezes.

“They weren't very surprised I guess. The guy's dad was just like 'Ryan's in the shower,' so Joon said thanks, went back upstairs got dressed and hurried out before the guy got out of the bathroom.”

“Shit,” Yoongi giggles. “I wish he'd stayed to see what kinda bullshit the guy was gonna tell him after that.”

“I know! That's what I said.”

Hoseok turns his attention back to the checkerboard, frowning after a moment. “You're about to win, aren't you.”

“Yep,” a grin in Yoongi's voice. “Second piece from the left- yeah- hop it there, there, yep- and I win,” he sing-songs.

Forgetting, Hoseok chucks a checker piece toward Yoongi. It just falls pitifully to the floor.

Their laughter fades comfortably, Hoseok playing with the carpet, Yoongi watching him, both of them considering the questions they want to ask. What ifs that would do nothing but ache through their veins like too much caffeine if answered.

“Where do you go when I'm asleep?” Hoseok asks instead, folding the checkerboard up to put back in the box.

“Oh. I uh, sometimes I go out on the balcony,” he answers, but there's something nervous in his voice.

All at once it clicks in his mind. “You watch me sleep, don't you,” Hoseok accuses.

“I- what- I do not, I-” Yoongi sputters, but Hoseok is smiling with soft mischief at his lap.

“I don't mind. I wish-” he thinks better of it and shakes his head, stretching before heading down the hall.

“Enjoy the view,” he teases as he climbs into bed, yanking the little chain on the lamp.

“Shut up. Good night,” Yoongi answers, and enjoys the view.

 

+

 

Nah, we're totally not flirting eases into wow jesus, I haven't flirted like this in years over the next week or so. Hoseok comes home and watches movies with Yoongi, or eats dinner as Yoongi moans in jealousy at the spectacle. He walks around his apartment shirtless more, brushes his teeth before breakfast so he won't have morning breath for an invisible man.

They stay up late into the night, talking about the smallest things, biggest things. Fearful or dirty things they’d never be brave enough to admit to anyone else, Hoseok whispering because Yoongi is sitting so close. They makes jokes suggestive enough not to be mistaken for anything less than flirting, and when Yoongi asks what's the wildest thing he's ever done in bed late one night, he answers “jerk off with a ghost watching?” and laughs at the way Yoongi sputters and denies profusely.

A few nights later, exhausted from work but too restless to sleep, Hoseok sighs and slides his hand down his pants, palming himself in boredom. He freezes, as if hit with a curiosity, a remembrance from their conversation before.

“Yoongi?”

Quiet a beat before “Yeah?” comes muffled from the other side of his door.

“Oh. I thought you might be watching.”

“Watching? Watching wha- oh," he breathes. "Jesus, Hoseok, I wouldn't just-, I wouldn't...”

He can't quite seem to finish his sentence, mesmerized by the hand that hasn't stopped moving in Hoseok's pants.

“Hoseok-”

“Yeah?”

“I- god,” he exhales.

“If you don't want-”

“No! No I, I want.” Unsure what Hoseok is offering, not wanting to assume.

Hoseok lifts his hips and shimmies his boxers off, smiling at the groan that escapes from Yoongi.

His hand wraps back around his hard cock, slow strokes, maybe putting on a show just a little. Nothing either could've dreamed up doing, but now that it was happening, it seemed inevitable, this moment.

“I wish I could touch you so bad,” Yoongi chokes out, thinking how funny it is that they've never even kissed but here he is watching Hoseok’s dick grow hard in his hand.

“Come closer,” Hoseok asks. “I wanna hear you.”

“God, I wish I could kiss you, touch you,” comes Yoongi's voice right by his ear. “I- you're so pretty, Hoseok.”

“Yeah?” Hoseok smiles. “How would you touch me?” he whispers.

“Like this. Down your chest,” he adds, remembering that Hoseok can't see. His voice comes from lower down now. “Grab your thighs here, touch you everywhere, kiss you everywhere, I could spend hours. I'd make you come so hard, Hoseok, god, I wanna.”

“Me too,” Hoseok gasps.

It's quiet, just the wet sounds of Hoseok's hand and his heavy breath in the warm, low light of the room. It makes his chest tingle, the thrill of knowing that Yoongi is watching him get himself off, that he's doing such a lewd act instead of just thinking about it.

“Keep talking to me. I feel like you're not there when I can't hear you.”

Yoongi laughs softly, distracted. “What do you want me to tell you? How pretty you are? How bad I wanna kiss you and cover you in big nasty hickeys? How good you'd feel inside me?”

“Fuck,” Hoseok whimpers, arching off the bed a little.

“How much I've thought about how soft your skin must feel? Thought about you fucking me, fucking me so hard until I can't even move.”

Hoseok's close now for sure, shuddering over held breaths. “I wish you could touch me,” he groans.

“Me too. You look so good like this, touching yourself like this. God, I wish I could feel you in my mouth, I-”

“Yoongi, Yoongi, fuck,” Hoseok groans low and comes all over his stomach, growly moans on every exhale. Can't see the fingers that reach out to touch it and dip right through his stomach.

His panting breaths slowly calm, leaving the room more and more open. Satisfied, Hoseok smiles but it's a bit sad. “I wish you were here,” he murmurs.

“I am here,” Yoongi answers.

Turning toward the voice, Hoseok shuts his eyes. “You know what I mean.”

“Yeah. I do.”

“Stay here until I fall asleep?”

Yoongi whacks Hoseok's shoulder but his hand goes right through. “Clean yourself up for god's sake!”

With a huff, Hoseok reaches over for a handful of tissues and wipes himself off before wiggling the blanket up to his chin and settling back in to sleep.

Yoongi sits on the bed beside him, still wide eyed at what just happened between them.

“Sing me something,” Hoseok mumbles, hand flying out haphazard in his direction.

Yoongi snorts. “I'm a terrible singer.”

“I'm not paying for a concert here, I just wanna hear you,” Hoseok laughs and slaps the bed.

Unbeknownst to him, Yoongi curls his hand over his. “Fine. Umm, let's see...” He thinks for a minute and starts the only song that popped into his head. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine-”

“Gay,” Hoseok scoffs fondly, curling in closer to where Yoongi sits. An empty patch of bed to anyone's eyes. “Keep going.”

 

+

 

A long metal screw clatters across the hardwood floor, followed by two short wooden slats and a loud "fuck!" from Hoseok.

"How are you so bad at this?" Yoongi laughs, and Hoseok chucks a dinky metal screwdriver in his direction before scrambling after the stray screw, patting around under the sofa until he finds it.

"Fuck this chair, fuck Ikea, fuck that fucking witch in the afterlife that sent you back here without hands to put together this fucking chair for me," he spits out, slapping the wooden parts together as he curses the world.

"I have hands," Yoongi argues. "Big manly hands," he pouts, sounding thoroughly unconvincing.

An eyeroll from Hoseok before he frowns in focus on the cryptic assembly diagram. "And you know what they say about big hands," he mutters with every bit of childish sarcasm he can muster, scowl set on two sets of nearly identical screws in a little plastic bag.

"Yeah. I know all about it." Smug instead of pouty now, and it has Hoseok rolling his eyes again. Smiling this time, though.

"Fuck this chair," Hoseok says again, resigned. He stretches and flops back against the couch. "I'll just get Jungkook to do it, he can do anything. Wanna watch a movie? We never finished the last Harry Potter," he suggests.

Yoongi agrees, and smiles when Hoseok falls asleep halfway through again, face smushed into the pillow he's curled around. "Goodnight, Hoseok," he whispers in his ear, and watches the last half of the movie alone for the second time.

 

 

“What's wrong?” Yoongi greets him at the door.

Jaw clenched, Hoseok refuses to look up into the empty living room. It's clear from the listless way he takes off his shoes and coat that he's upset. Too upset to even act upset.

With a shake of his head, he trudges to the window and stares into the dirty white sky for a while, ignoring the cars passing by below.

“I think it's time for me to give up,” he announces.

“What- give up on what?”

“Dancing. If I haven't made it by now, I'm not gonna. Time is just passing by, you know? What if I get too old to pursue something new?”

Yoongi laughs. “Hoseok you're like, 24 years old. You've got time.”

Shadows soften Hoseok's eyes. He pouts in response, knowing it's true but not feeling it. Goosebumps cover his arms from leaning on the cold windowpane, but he ignores it.

“Do you love it? Then keep doing it,” Yoongi says in response to a little nod from Hoseok. “C'mon, show me. Dance for me,” he urges, grinning at the quizzical look from Hoseok that lands somewhere around Yoongi's chin.

“C'mon, I wanna see. Do it, dance just because it's fun and you love it, let's go,” Yoongi says, clapping eagerly though it makes no sound.

“There's not enough space in here...” Hoseok says, tired and shy against the wall.

“Sure there is, move a couch.”

Hoseok rolls his eyes but a smile is growing as he moves toward the armchair blocking the biggest area of space.

Pulling out his phone and searching for the right song, he stands in the middle of the living room. He starts dancing, but it's half-hearted and a little awkward.

“Oh come on, do it right, do it however you usually do,” Yoongi complains with a grin.

With a huff, Hoseok does just that, though it takes a minute to let go. He lets his body take over and gets lost in the music. He forgets that Yoongi is there, yet performs like there's an audience, like it's a performance, like it's art.

When he's finished, chest heaving with exertion, he falls back against the wall with a hint of a smile.

“That was... You can't give up, Hoseok.” Yoongi's voice is closer than he'd expected.

He closes his eyes, drinking in the words and sound of the low, thrumming voice.

“You're beautiful,” Yoongi continues, much closer now. “And so talented, holy shit. I wish you could look me in the eyes when I say it, and maybe believe me a little bit more.”

“Me too,” Hoseok whispers, breathless from dancing.

“I wish...I wish I could kiss you, right here on your neck. Kiss your face all over, kiss the shit out of you until you shut up about giving up dance. Don't you dare,” he chuckles, but he's so close, breathless though he hadn't danced at all, voice raw and smooth as whiskey over ice.

Hoseok arches his neck, a reaction of need or want. Yoongi's lips on his skin but only in his imagination. “I wish I could feel you,” he whispers. “I dream about it a lot; you're there, but I can't, can't-” he bites back a frustrated sigh.

God, Hoseok. I'd do anything to-” he sighs, Hoseok joining him. They both know there's nothing they can do.

When Yoongi speaks again, the cheeriness is a little forced. “Don't give up on doing what you love, though. Please. Take some advice from a dead man.”

“Don't say it like that, you're not dead,” Hoseok argues softly.

“Not really alive enough though, am I.”

 

Chapter Text

 

 

A few days later, Yoongi sits on the toilet seat watching Hoseok dye his hair in the bathroom mirror. They aren't saying much, nice just knowing the other is there. "I googled you," Hoseok speaks up, nonchalant.

Yoongi inhales sharply, shy and suddenly indignant that Hoseok had never done it before. "Oh yeah?" He doesn't quite hit the casual tone he was aiming for.

"Mm," Hoseok smirks, and says nothing more.

Yoongi flusters just as quickly as Hoseok wanted, making him giggle wildly when Yoongi demands a "well? and?!" within seconds.

"You're cute. Really cute," Hoseok grins at the sink, feeling oddly shy at the energy radiating from Yoongi.

"Oh yeah?" The smile is practically visible in his voice, curiosity vibrating out in waves. "What- what pictures did you see?"

"Well, I found your instagram. You look... too cute for your voice?" he laughs. "I had been picturing someone...rougher? More boring? Not so....so cute."

"Sorry I'm so cute," he pouts in his usual low drone, sounding put out about it.

"Shut the fuck up," Hoseok laughs. "You're so cute I practically squealed like a fan girl on the bus. And then I- well. I just, can't stop thinking about how you'd look everywhere. Doing everything and- it's stupid but I keep replaying everything we've done, every conversation and putting your face in there, trying to re-remember the memories." 

It's not awkward, but neither of them know what to say, tired of I wish, I wish.

“We should get a pet,” Yoongi speaks up after a few ponderous moments.

“What do you mean 'we',” Hoseok fakes indignance. The fumes of bleach fill the little room, bits of Hoseok's hair already turning a brassy yellow.

“Like a gold fish or something. Hamster, maybe. I get bored when you're out,” he whines.

“Did you have pets before?” Hoseok asks, carefully wiping stray dye off his forehead.

“Yeah, a dog back at my parents' house. Aah, she was so cute. I was totally her favorite.”

Rinsing his hands in the sink, Hoseok giggles at the pride in Yoongi's voice.

A few days later, Taehyung cuddles a fuzzy hamster named Darla to his face as Namjoon asks where she suddenly came from.

A lavender-haired Hoseok throws a sly grin around the room, knowing there's a fourth someone there to catch it. “You know me, I'm pathetic if I have to spend more than five minutes alone.”

Namjoon laughs and doesn't hear the low “asshole,” murmured next to Hoseok's ear.

After everyone left that night, Hoseok stands in the middle of the kitchen, eating ice cream straight from the carton. “Hey Yoongi? How tall are you? Here? Here?” Hoseok holds his hand at nose level, then forehead level. “Taller than me?”

“Somewhere around there, yeah,” he answers, making Hoseok snort over a mouthful of ice cream.

“That's not vague at all,” Hoseok says sarcastically. “I'll take that to mean shorter than me, up to my chin, maybe?”

Yoongi squawks in protest.“I am not- here, I have an idea. Stand up straight. You gotta put the ice cream down,” he nags.

With a scoff and one more huge bite of ice cream, Hoseok sets the carton on the counter and stands up straight.

“Okay,” Yoongi says, suddenly much, much closer than before. “I'm as close to you as I can get, not on my tippy toes or anything, I swear. You can hear my voice, does it sound shorter or taller?”

He's talking right beside Hoseok's ear, low voice so close he swears he could feel the breath on his neck. “Mm... just a little shorter?”

“I could kiss your chin,” he agrees.

“Oh, could you,” Hoseok grins suggestively, closing his eyes to imagine it instead of never knowing quite where to land his eyes. “Cute. I like that.”

They stand there for one suspended moment, lost in a fantasy of the person right in front of them and weighing their options.

Ten minutes later, Hoseok is slumped down against the living room wall, hand shoved down his pants, Yoongi groaning in his ear.

Neither of them intended for this to happen again, but they couldn't truthfully say they were surprised either. Spending so much time thinking about it, dancing around the idea with jokes so flirtatious and graphic it'd be better classified as foreplay.

“Yoongi, I-, I want you,” he says, breathless as his hand moves beneath his pants.

God, me too. Can... can I see?”

Eager and unashamed, Hoseok pulls his pants off, kicking them to the bookshelf and laughs a little at being stark naked alone in the middle of his living room, if anyone were to look in.

“Fuck, you have such a pretty dick. I bet it tastes so good,” Yoongi nearly whines, twisting and aching to just touch.

Hoseok's legs slide out in front of him, belly button only barely peeking out from beneath his t-shirt. He watches his fingertips glide softly up and down the head of his cock, teasing himself, teasing Yoongi.

“Mm,” Yoongi groans again. “I could watch this all day. I think about this all day, yesterday when you were at work all I could think about was how bad I wanted to see you finger yourself open for me before I wou-”

He's cut off by a rich little laugh by Hoseok, who's walking away from him now. “Hold on,” he calls over his shoulder.

Yoongi hears the drawer slide open in Hoseok's bedroom before he's sauntering back into the living room, squeezing his dick with one hand, bottle of lube in the other.

“Oh my god?” Yoongi asks, as if maybe he's still daydreaming.

“You said you wanted to see,” Hoseok shrugs before slumping down against the wall again, pumping his cock with a lube-slicked hand. His breathing becomes a bit labored, incredibly turned on at giving Yoongi exactly what he wants, at being exactly what he wants.

Finally he lays down onto the side of a hip and elbow, ass tilted up a little to the open living room. He pours more lube on his fingers and reaches back, twisting prettily at the waist to run his fingers all up and down his hole before slowly pressing a finger inside.

“Oh my god,” Yoongi repeats, groaning at how very real this is, at what a gorgeous sight it is, so incredibly turned on at Hoseok giving him exactly what he wants, at Hoseok being exactly what he wants.

“Baby,” one exhaled sound of desire. “You look so good like this. Like this just for me.” Hoseok can't see the hands curving reverently over the hill of his hip and dip of his waist, reaching longingly for his soft hair, never able to make any contact.

“Just for you,” he hums in bliss. The room is filled with wet, sticky sounds, Hoseok working two fingers inside on slow, long strokes, giving his cock little teasing squeezes in the front.

“This is the best thing I've ever seen,” Yoongi says in complete awed honesty.

Hoseok giggles, pausing to tuck his cock back between his legs to give Yoongi the full view. He pours more lube, jamming three fingers inside now, slow at first but working up to a quick barrage of thrusts.

Yoongi watches as Hoseok's jaw falls slack to let out choked off breathy little grunts, hair nearly cascading across the pretty upslope of his nose. He's leaning face and shoulder against the cold wall for support, panting fuck, Yoongi, fuck, over and over.

“Does it feel good baby? You look so, so good. ”

“Feels so... so good, wish it was you fucking me,” he gasps against the wall, jiggling his fingers deep inside, thumb darting out to brush across his balls. His cock is dripping to the floor now, sticky and clear.

“Me too,” Yoongi sighs, aching to reach out and grab a handful of ass. “I wanna fuck you so deep, Hoseok. Wanna watch your ass take my dick that deep instead of your fingers, jesus.”

Hoseok gives a high, airy whine in response, spine bowing forward to rock his fingers deeper.  “You gonna come for me, baby? Gonna let me see?” Yoongi coaxes, seeing the way Hoseok's body keens and clenches, fingers rocking deep inside himself.

“I- I- Yoongi-” Hoseok stutters, helplessness taking over his face in the prettiest way as he slumps further down the wall. He comes with a low, broken growl, milky white spilling on to the floor with every twitch of his cock between his thighs.

They both lay there catching their breath, Yoongi whispering words so soft, as if to make up for the sweet kisses and gentle touches he can't give.

Yoongi follows him to the bathroom, sitting on the bath mat as Hoseok showers with the shower curtain half open. They laugh and talk about every stupid random thing, neither one of them ready to admit they felt like they were in the bowels of a sinking ship.

 

+

 

A week passes, then two. Hoseok's friends come over less and less, and when they do, he finds himself searching the room for Yoongi's smile when they all laugh at the movie they're watching, lonely despite the full room.

Always “I'm right here,” appearing behind his ear making him jump and smile.

And then, his friends ruin everything. They start pestering him about ignoring their invites, sure that he must be dating someone, obnoxious, prodding jokes about who it must be. There's only so many times he can joke the topic away, or insist on the non-lie that he's staying home.

It's not their fault, but Hoseok resents them for it. The pestering is the innocent little pinprick that bursts the happy bubble he's been living in. He's happy when he's with Yoongi. Genuinely happy, not a single emotion fake or forced or a fill-in for his lonely heart. He's in love and he's happy, quite simply, if you don't look at the certain bizarre fact about Yoongi.

It had been easy not to look at it before, so easy and natural and consuming, being with Yoongi. But his friends won't stop bringing it up, making him look at the certain bizarre why he has to not-quite-lie to his friends. It makes him focus on the weirdness, the stunted little relationship that could never grow.

Now when he's with Yoongi, a bitter restlessness itches at the back of his spine, a frustration that poisons the joy. It's no one's fault, he tells himself to quell the irrational anger when they call him, but he resents his friends for forcing it into the light. He spends more time away from them, and the time spent with Yoongi just hurts now.

He was in love and happy, but now he's just in love.

The hurt spreads inside him like spilled ink, blooming into a black dissatisfaction with his whole life. The one good thing he found and it can never be enough, would only ever make him more unhappy by the reminder it gives. Just like dance had become, a beloved dream always with him and always too far away. Once a simple joy, now tainted by attachment and desire.

He'd explain it if he could, but he can't. Overwhelmed and trapped and frustrated at life slipping right through his hands, he withdraws more and more. He knows Yoongi feels it, the way he's already frowning when Yoongi asks him a question, or snaps a response instead of flirting. Knows Yoongi won't say a word about it because they're nothing, nothing as concrete and defined as would justify an argument.

 

+

 

The door clicks shut, creaking a bit when Hoseok leans against it. He's dressed nice, smelling good, lavender hair silky and blow-dried for once. He listens, waiting for the greeting he's grown used to.

“Yoongi?” The one to seek the other out, for once.

“Welcome back,” he hears after a moment. He stares at the shadows stretching across the living room.

He moves to the sofa, sighing when his face hits the cushion. The quiet in the room is a pressurized, waiting kind of quiet.

“I went on a date tonight.” Hoseok knows from the tension in the air that he's stating the obvious.

There's no answer. “Where are you?” he asks, glancing blindly around the room.

“How was it?” Yoongi asks, closer now. Sitting on the couch probably.

Hoseok heaves a sigh and thinks about the date. It had felt necessary to move on, to attempt it. To let something else, something real make him happy instead. “Not bad but.... it sucked,” he gives up on lying. “It wasn't- he wasn't-” Hoseok frowns. -you, is the end of that sentence, but he can't say it.

They both know it, both know that it's not worth saying. There's nothing to even try for between them, and it hurts for both of them in different ways.

Yoongi just nods unseen, voice tight and forced when he answers. “Well. Just gotta keep trying, right? Just get back out there and, and try again, right?”

Misery is etched across his face as he nods. He sits up, body tired from the sadness, longing for nothing else but a hug from Yoongi to squeeze it all away. “I don't want to,” he says quietly, picking at his sock.

“I don't want you to either,” Yoongi whispers.

 

+

 

It's weird between them for the next few days. They don't talk much, the apartment back to it's normal emptiness. An apartment for one, back to feeling lived in by one. It's a tiny apartment, but the emptiness echoes.

“Hoseok?”

He sighs at the dark ceiling, watching the shadow of tree branches dance. “Yeah?”

“If I were, y'know, if I could... Would you- if I asked you out properly and all, would you...?”

He scrunches the pillow up under his head as he turns on his side, staring at an empty spot in front of him and hoping it's at least close to eye contact. It hurts to even have it brought up. What's the point, if there's nothing they can do about it?

“You know I would. I- I want it to be you, you know.” He blinks away, the ache in his heart threatening to show itself. “If you asked me out properly, of course,” he teases, halfhearted.

It hurts to joke about it, both knowing that's all there is they can do. It just hurts, all of it, everything.

He falls asleep knowing that Yoongi is there with him, sleepy mind wondering how long Yoongi stays after he falls asleep. The question melts into weird dream images and memories of the day like paint into water.

A few days pass, conversations started and halted uncomfortably, both of them wanting to say more but knowing it'll only make things tense or poke at wounds that won't heal over. Yoongi can't leave and Hoseok can't move on. Friends call but he ignores them, most of the time. Namjoon is the only one blunt enough to ask if he's depressed, the rest of them apparently hoping jokes would be enough to cheer him up. They aren't enough. He ignores the buzzing of his phone, listening to Yoongi coo at Darla in her cage as he stares at the tv.

 

 +

 

On a Friday evening after work, Hoseok finally falls apart. Distracted by old photos he found while cleaning out his desk, he lays them out all around him on the floor, knowing Yoongi was probably somewhere in the room looking too.

“Hoseok, weren't you cooking something?” appears Yoongi's panicked voice.

“Fuck,” he hisses, scrambling delicately over photos to the kitchen.

He yanks the pot off the stove, but it's too late. The sauce has turned into a thick black crust around the sides of the pot, little charcoal lumps of vegetables.

“Fuck!” he repeats, louder this time, slamming the ruined pot into the sink. He buries his face in his hands and sinks to the floor. “I can't do this,” he whispers between silent cries.

“It's just a pot, Hoseok.”

He shakes his head and trembles. Everything crashes down at once, curling him over his folded knees. “I don't care about the fucking pot. I thought... I thought life was gonna be so different, you know?” A loud sniffle against the back of his hand. “I thought if I just tried hard enough, things would fall into place. But everything is fucked up, there's not one part of my life that really makes me happy, and I'm tired from trying so hard. I, I can't do this,” he cries, wet cheeks rubbing against his sleeve.

They sit there until Hoseok's tears quiet down, Yoongi murmuring small, comforting words just so Hoseok doesn't feel alone.

“You're on a path, though, apparently,” Yoongi tries to comfort. “I mean, if there's a weird woman with like 900 faces who knows I didn't finish my path, doesn't that mean we're all on some path?”

“Whatever the hell that even means,” Hoseok scoffs, too bitter to be cheered.

Yoongi doesn't speak for a minute, just Hoseok crying alone on the kitchen floor. “I don't have any good advice, honestly. Life sucks and... there's good moments too...” Yoongi hesitates. “Can I tell you how I died?”

Respect or discomfort for the subject has him sitting up straighter and silencing his wet sniffles. “Yeah.”

He thinks of the best way to say it, but all the thinking does no good. With an inhale, he lets it all tumble out. “My... my 'path' that I was on, that was cut off, that the witch put me back on, was... was to come tell you that I liked you. On the way there, I realized I didn't want to come empty handed, just in case- I mean it's so stupid, you were gonna say no if you were gonna say no, but I thought maybe if- anyway. I was nervous, so I wasn't paying attention and sorta swerved back to the store I passed to get the candy you were always eating in class, those fruit shaped thingys-”

“Runts,” Hoseok supplies, a choked sound.

“Yeah, Runts. Anyway, a car hit my bike and... I wasn't wearing a helmet because I didn't want helmet hair and...”

“That's so stupid,” Hoseok interrupts, fresh tears rolling down his cheeks.

“I know. I know. But my point is-”

“You died buying me candy?” He sounds almost angry. “Are you fucking kidding?” Definitely angry, then. He stands up, clearly frustrated that there's no face to direct his fury toward.

“Yeah I guess- no, I mean, I died on my way to- I just died, you know? On a normal day, I just...died. Everyone just..." Flustered at Hoseok's outrage, he searches for his original point. "But apparently I was on a path, I was supposed to come tell you-”

“I can't deal with this right now. What's your point telling me this? That nothing that happens matters? Or that it matters but we can't do anything about it because we're just on some ridiculous path? You were sent back, but what's the fucking point? We can't be together.”

“Hoseok I just-”

"There's no god damn path Yoongi, just a witch fucking with you. You weren't meant to come back, all this wasn't supposed to- I can't believe you died like that I- I'm so fucking... mad,  I can't-  I can't deal with this right now.”

He's never seen Hoseok cry this hard before, utterly helpless and given over to it, voice rough and strained. "Hoseok, please I'm-"

Hoseok puts up a wet, weak hand to stop him, not bothering to hide his tear ruined face. "I can't deal with this. I'm going to sleep. Please, please don't..." he waves him away as he closes his door, making it clear Yoongi isn't welcome to come in to calm the loud sobs that finally exhaust him to sleep. 

 

+

 

The next morning, Hoseok is awkwardly silent in his own home as he brews coffee and runs his fingernail up and down the crack in the tile counter. The bright winter sunlight illuminates his haggard face, eyes puffy, mouth down-turned. Untouched coffee in hand, he stares at a dust filtering though a slat of sunlight. He's delicately okay, recovered from the aftermath but he's all sensitive, touchy skin, feeling like a walking bruise.

“Yoongi?” he finally asks.

The immediate answer he was expecting doesn't come. Bloodshot eyes growing wide with panic, he looks all around for someone he can't see. “Yoongi? Yoongi?” he calls louder.

“Yeah?” comes the familiar low voice beside him.

Hoseok's shoulders collapse with relief. He buries his face in his hands. “I thought you were gone. Like, gone gone.”

“Would it matter if I was? Not much different than how here I am now...” he says quietly.

“Don't say that. I'm sorry, Yoongi. I was just...”

“Look, it really doesn't matter,” Yoongi interrupts. “What's the point? Really. Seriously.” He seems to be waiting for an answer, but it makes Hoseok's heart ache to turn their feelings into something practical, something with a point. Makes it uglier, somehow.

“It's fine. Maybe there's just like a time limit or something, maybe after two months I'll just... fade away or something-”

He's startled silent by Hoseok bursting into loud, hiccuping sobs, hands shaking when he buries the heel of his palms in his eyes. “Shut the fuck up,” he chokes out, such loud, exposed sobs. “That's awful, that's fucking awful. How could you- don't fade away, don't- please-” he weeps, a heavy, heartbroken sound that shreds the innocent morning light.

Yoongi watches in surprise, big, wet tears slicking Hoseok's cheeks and wrist as he cries into his hands.

“I like you so, so much,” he wails pitifully with big shuddered tears. “It's awful and unfair, but I'd rather have you like this than not have you.”

“I- really?" he whispers in disbelief. "But- Hoseok, you can't live like this. You deserve so much more, you can't, can't keep going like this.”

He rubs his nose across his sleeve and tries to calm down. To keep going like this sounds like hell, but now that he knows Yoongi, loves Yoongi, well. What else could he do? Love is a stupid, desperate thing. “So what,” he demands. “When does anyone ever get what they deserve? At least this is something real.”

This is something real?” Yoongi chuckles, a bitter sound.

“Feels real to me,” Hoseok answers quietly.

Yoongi's can't argue with that. “There's nothing we can do anyway,” he agrees quietly.

Hoseok attempts a smile, instead pulling off the the most miserable grimace Yoongi had ever seen. “Nothing to do but be together until we're not. Just like anyone else, I guess.”

So for the next couple days, they give their best attempt at just being together, how they used to be. It's nice, sitting on the couch, Hoseok cuddled around a pillow in place of Yoongi, talking and laughing until Hoseok falls asleep. Or bickering about the right way to wash dishes until Hoseok, elbow deep in sudsy bubbles, stomps and declares the best way to do dishes is his way, because he's the one doing them. 

It's as comfortable and addictive as ever, but.... still. Hoseok is distancing himself, probably doesn't even realize it, but Yoongi could tell. Didn't blame him, didn't bring it up, knowing that whatever they are had an expiration date. It made sense for Hoseok to protect his heart. He could almost be glad for it, if it didn't hurt so fucking bad to feel Hoseok slipping away from him even as he sat right there beside him.

He's scared, truthfully. Hoseok has a future ahead of him but, Yoongi has nothing but this.

 

+

 

“Hoseok.”

He groans at the brightness of the room and buries his face in the blankets. “Isn't it a bit early for haunting?”

“Hoseok, look," Yoongi persists.

He smacks his dry lips and squints around. Hoseok bolts straight up, scrambling back against the headboard. “Oh my god!”

“Yeah.” The low, wavering voice came out of a body this time, a solid, present human in Hoseok's clothes.

“You're hot,” Hoseok blurts out before his sluggish brain can stop him.

Yoongi gives a little gummy smile at the floor and blushes. Stunned and groggy, Hoseok drinks him in, from his fluffy black hair to his cute little chin to his hands, which are indeed quite big.

“Why are you...??”

“I don't know!" Yoongi's eyes go round, launching into one of his chatty rambles that Hoseok has come to know so well. "I just started feeling weird, like there were fire ants all over me or something. And then, it felt like there was a vacuum inside me, or like, two of them. So I got up to- honestly to come say goodbye to you, because I figured this was finally it," he says softly, and Hoseok can't believe the adorable way his lips pout over the words, wanting to trace his fingers over them.

"But, the vacuum feeling got stronger, pulling and filling and- I threw up in your bathroom by the way, I'm sorry. I tried to clean it up, but. Anyway. I tried to come in here, but I smacked into the door instead of going through it- that's when I went to the bathroom- I felt so dizzy, you couldn't believe how dizzy. And you won't believe who was standing in the shower!" Yoongi's pretty little eyes go so round, not even waiting for Hoseok's response. "Namjoon! But then it was my mom! Then my bus driver from high school! It was that fucking witch! With the faces!"

Entranced, Hoseok listens to the bizarre, rambling tale without so much as blinking. There they are, just talking like normal, like always, but suddenly Yoongi is in a body, fidgeting his hands and picking at his fingernails as he rambles, a hundred little movements and body habits, a whole world of a human.

"She looked annoyed? She said 'I reset the rest of them, they won't know' and handed me my wallet." Yoongi dug into his back pocket, and sure enough produced a well-worn leather wallet.

"Wow," Hoseok rasps, only thing really registering in his mind is Yoongi, Yoongi here, Yoongi whole. He can't stop staring, inspecting every little speck and movement of him like a miracle of science unfolding before him. He's shifting uncomfortably in front of him, cheeks pinking at the intensity of Hoseok's gaze, but all Hoseok can do is breathe another "wow."

“Can we maybe go eat? I haven't eaten in um... two months?”

That finally knocks him out of his trance, blankets twisting around Hoseok's legs in his hurry to snap out of it and stand up. “Yeah, yes! Oh my god yeah, we'll get something good, whatever you want.”

He finally stands, and it takes both of their breath away to be two warm bodies next to each other, making eye contact.

“Thanks,” Yoongi smiles, pink-cheeked.

“Yeah. Yeah, let me just change clothes and, and wash my face,” Hoseok says nervously, but he can't seem to move or look away.

“Wait! Um.” There were words playing around the corners of Yoongi's lips and Hoseok couldn't stop watching.

Oh my god,” he interrupts whatever sentence Yoongi was formulating, feeling as if he's been lurched forward from a slow motion dream. He wouldn't have been able to stop his hands even if he wanted to. They float up to Yoongi's arms and his whole body goes electric when he feels warm skin, Yoongi's skin.

Apologizing for yanking him so suddenly, he hugs Yoongi so tight, “oh my god, oh my god” slipping helplessly through his lips. He breathes in the scent of Yoongi's hair, hands pressed firm and reverent up and down his back and into the curve of his neck, fingers trailing behind his ear and around to fan over the angle of his jaw. In a panicked afterthought, he jams his ear against Yoongi's chest and- it's really there, a solid, wildly thumping heartbeat.

When he finally pulls himself away, Yoongi is beaming, an adorable smile that makes his eyes crinkle and his cheeks bunch up. Shy, he keeps trying to swallow the smile down but it sticks.

“Sorry, I interrupted you,” Hoseok says, composing himself.

“Ah no, I just wanted to- nothing.”

“No, wanted to what! You have a body, we can do anything!”

They both blush at how that sounded, blush at how they're awkward like they never were before. “I mean, to celebrate,” Hoseok adds in haste, but it does nothing to stop the blush from deepening in either of their cheeks.

“I just wanted to- we already did it, I just wanted to hug you.” He dares to look up and wrinkles his nose at the dopey grin on Hoseok's face. “Go get dressed already, I'm so hungry,” he pouts.

“Come with me,” Hoseok says, tugging Yoongi close by his hand. “I wanna keep looking at you.”

They walk to the nearest noodle shop, laughing and chattering in the sunlight. Hoseok makes it one block before he kisses Yoongi up against a delivery truck, reveling in how completely different it feels from weeks of imagining. Yoongi eats two and a half bowls of ramen and Hoseok holds him in his lap on the sofa for hours after, poking fun at him and his whiny "stomach’s so full it's gonna burst, I'm gonna die all over again, Hoseok".

That night, he watches Yoongi drift to sleep, fingers ghosting over his lips and eyelashes so as to not wake him up. 

The intensity and adoration of the looks Yoongi fixes him with make him shy, wondering if that's the way Yoongi has always looked at him. As he gathers and learns all the fidgets and habits, the warmth and curves of Yoongi's face, Hoseok rewrites memory after memory that they shared before, filling in the emptiness with the Yoongi he now knows.

In a way, nothing much changes. He comes home to Yoongi, they watch movies on the sofa, they argue in the kitchen, they keep the other company while they shower. They have sex on the living room floor and Yoongi does every last thing he said he would do.

The wonder and relief at Yoongi being alive and embodied fills the lonely apartment in a way it couldn't before, yes. But the prospect of them finally able to be something real, something growing, something present and future tense blooms a hope inside him so steady and bright that it can't help but spill into every corner of his life.