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Welcome to the Garden

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The thing people don't realize is, within all their lore of mermaids and vampires and tigers praying to be human, they missed the most obvious magical creatures that dwell among them in plain sight. It's kind of funny, in Hoseok's opinion, because his kind has gotten so brazen about it, even going so far as to use their true identities as names, Rose or Lily or Daisy. Still, it never crosses the mortals consciousness and, he supposes, that's a good thing. If the general populace found out that there are a bunch of flowers walking around in human form, there would be pandemonium.

It's not as if it's common to see another flower going around in human form, but it's not exactly rare. Hoseok likes to think it's as common as triplets. He knows they exist, sees them on television occasionally, but he doesn't know any triplets personally. He doesn't know any flowers in his social circle, either. It gets a little lonely at times. There are just some aspects of life that he wishes he could share with a fellow flower, a common commiseration of all the things unique to a flower's life. Namjoon, at least, shares his respect and love for bees, but it's a small consolation for a lonely blossom.

Which is why he nearly explodes with excitement when he's introduced to Kim Seokjin.

Jimin brings him around one day for lunch, finally, after weeks of gushing about his sunbae, the funniest man he's ever met in his entire life.

Hoseok is unable to ascertain Seokjin's level of humor because the very moment he lays eyes on the man, he's overwhelmed with joy and delight that finally, after almost a quarter of a century in human form, he's found another flower. Finally someone who can relate to the very delicate balance of water me-don't water me, and the indescribable burst of life in his chest as spring approaches. Finally another soul who understands the intricate language of his heart.

Hoseok's enthusiasm, however, wanes as the weeks turn into months and Kim Seokjin rebuffs his every attempt at acknowledging their flower origins.

He tries subtly at first, of course.

"Wow, the sun's so bright today," Hoseok says, grinning at Seokjin.

Seokjin beams at him in response, glowing. "It is," he agrees.

"Great opportunity to photosynthesize, eh, hyung?" Hoseok says with a nudge to Seokjin's elbow and a wiggle of his brows.

Seokjin's eyes haze slightly with confusion. "Sure," he says uncertainly. "It's nice to be out in the sun."

Hoseok becomes more aggressive and blatant as his failures pile up.

"When's your bloomday, hyung?" he asks one day at lunch, eyes intense and focused on Seokjin's face. His jaw is clenched in determination.

Seokjin pauses mid-chew to blink and tilt his head. "Huh?"

"Your bloomday, hyung," Hoseok repeats. "Bloomday."

Seokjin swallows. "My birthday is December fourth," he answers, smiling at Hoseok. "Are you going to buy me a present?" he teases, winking.

Hoseok nearly throws his chopsticks.

He gives Seokjin the benefit of the doubt for a long time. Some flowers need more time to establish trust between each other, but it's honestly just getting offensive now. Especially since Seokjin is extraordinarily friendly with him in every other way.

Eventually, Hoseok has enough. Enough! With the single-minded, stubborn determination that Namjoon's always telling him will get him into trouble, he decides he's going to prove Kim Seokjin is a flower, once and for all. It's time for a little trouble, he thinks.

Every flower knows there are five ways to prove their existence, each relating to one of the five senses. Generally, sight is all that is needed between the plants, but no, Seokjin has to make this difficult.

That's fine, that's okay. Hoseok is fine, because he has a plan.

Taste is the most accurate way to tell if someone is a flower. Their mouths are sweet and addicting, their lips dewy and enticing. Generally flowers don't go around making out to confirm each other but generally flowers aren't as deceitful as Kim Seokjin.

"Hyung, let me kiss you."

In retrospect, Hoseok perhaps could have found a better opportunity to make his request known, and perhaps he could have eased into it a bit. In his defence, he's been far beyond patient with Mr. Kim I'm-Not-a-Flower-No-Really Seokjin. So yeah, he stormed up to Seokjin in the midst of all their friends one sunny Saturday afternoon in the park. And yeah, okay, he effectively stopped all the conversations and now everyone's attention is on him. But clearly this is all Seokjin's fault.

The tips of Seokjin's ears turn from pink to deep red and his entire face colors as he sputters at Hoseok's sudden request. And that right there, that right there is flower behavior if Hoseok ever saw it. That shade of rose is so flowery. He smirks triumphantly.

Seokjin finally seems to recover his composure, standing from the grass he's been sitting on to step up to Hoseok. Hoseok smiles and tips his chin up to give Seokjin easy access, letting his eyes drift closed.

And in the next moment he feels searing pain in the side of his neck as Seokjin's hand chops hard into the skin. "Ow, ow, ow!" he yells, eyes snapping open to glare accusingly at Seokjin. "Ow, hyung," he whines.

"Stop talking nonsense," Seokjin yells back quickly and Hoseok can already hear the impending rant that's on the tip of Seokjin's tongue. The tongue that should be in his mouth right now.

Fine, it's fine. There are other ways.

He asks Seokjin to sing, later, when the enveloping heat of the day has dissipated and the late afternoon sun is just on the cusp of waning into evening.

"Jiminie told me you sing," he says. "I'd like to hear it."

Seokjin smiles, a beaming light that shines brighter than the sun has all day, and Hoseok has a vague thought that he could live forever under that smile. "What do you want to hear?" Seokjin asks.

"Wildflower," Hoseok hears himself saying, still mesmerized by Seokjin's light. "Park Hyo Shin's song."

When a flower sings, it brings up the feeling of soft earth and the gentle whispering skim of a warm breeze on cooled skin. When Seokjin sings, it's complete transcendence, another plane of existence. It's the opening of another world, all consuming, enveloping. It's the feeling of flight under the warm sun. Hoseok wants to hear more, and more, and more, greedy like Icarus for something the mortals should only admire from afar.

Good thing he's not a mortal.

When he returns home later, and finally breaks from his almost trance, he realizes how wily Seokjin is, foiling him yet again. He curses colorfully and vows to proceed with his plan.

His next opportunity comes a few weeks later when Seokjin invites him out to play tennis, just the two of them. Hoseok has never agreed to an outing so fast in his life.

Just like he had anticipated, after they finish playing, Seokjin starts to complain about the soreness in his muscles. And, just as he'd planned, Hoseok offers his favorite hyung a massage.

"My fingers are magic," he says, wiggling them at Seokjin.

Seokjin laugh, apparently amused, and readily agrees.

Hoseok places his hands near Seokjin's neck, dipping his fingertips under Seokjin's collar to feel his skin.

Seokjin's shoulders are broad and strong and soft but not in the way Hoseok expects. A flower's skin is soft, dewy, like velvet, strong and structured and somehow delicate at the same time. A flower's skin feels like the life it encompasses. There's a humming under Seokjin's skin, warmth bursting like newly lighted fire. The expanse of his shoulders is so wide, it feels like his fingers travel an incredible journey as he massages the stiffness away from Seokjin's neck.

Seokjin makes loud, encouraging noises as Hoseok's fingers prod further into the muscles. Hoseok licks his lips and shuffles closer, bending his head to catch a whiff of Seokjin's scent while he's distracted.

Hoseok expects the smell of earth or sweet pollen, but Seokjin smells like pine, sharp and fresh and really way too enticing. Hoseok breathes in deep, letting the scent flood his lungs.

"Yeah, Hoseok!"

Hoseok straightens quickly and coughs, snapping back to reality. "Yeah?"

Seokjin glances over his shoulder, lips pursed and brows arched. "Why are you sniffing me?"

Hoseok blinks, frowning, thinking desperately how to explain himself. "You smell nice, hyung," he finally says.

It's quite fascinating to watch how Seokjin's neck colors a deep pink suddenly. Hoseok thinks it looks a lot like watercolor spreading unhindered on a blank sheet of paper.

When Hoseok arrives home later, he realizes he's no nearer to proving Seokjin's flower secret. More surprisingly, he realizes, he doesn't really know if it even cares anymore. He likes spending time with Seokjin. Likes laughing with him, playing with him, eating with him. He likes watching Seokjin's neck grow red, and the way his eyes sparkle when he's halfway through a joke and already losing his composure. He likes the way he feels when he's with Seokjin. Safe and warm and adored.

It isn't until their third tennis date that Hoseok finally realizes that, one, Seokjin has been meaning these as a date-date, in the traditional sense of the word, and two, Hoseok does, too.

He straightens in shock from his ready pose, letting his racket drop to his side just as Seokjin hits a strong serve over the net to him. It catches Hoseok on his arm and he lets out a sharp howl of pain, clutching at his arm and rubbing it to dull the sensation.

Seokjin runs up to the net, concern evident in his face. "What the hell, Hoseok? Are you okay?"

Hoseok shuffles his way to the net, to Seokjin, still rubbing his arm, and says without preamble, "I like you, hyung."

Oh, the watercolor is back, Hoseok thinks vaguely, eyes shifting to Seokjin's neck. It's a soft rose hue, blooming gracefully.

Seokjin coughs and fidgets with his racket against the net, but a smile spreads on his lips and he says, "I like you, too, Hoseok."

"And I want to be your boyfriend," Hoseok adds, in case there is any confusion.

Seokjin snorts but he tilts his head and says, "Okay."

Hoseok's grin is so wide, it starts to ache in his cheeks. He steps closer, the net pressing against his thighs. "Can I kiss you, hyung?"

The rose bloom spreads further up Seokjin's neck but he bends his head in acquiescence.

As Seokjin's lips slide against Hoseok's, it's soft and plush, but not the velvety smoothness of a flower. Seokjin's lips are supple like heated sand giving way, warm and enveloping Hoseok's. And when he finally tastes Seokjin, it's not the honey sweet he expects, but something richer and deeper. It's caramel, a burnt sugar Hoseok is certain he will never grow weary of.

Later, when Hoseok can think properly again, he admits to himself that he may have been wrong, despite all the signs. Perhaps Seokjin isn't quite a flower-turned-human, and instead is a remarkably brilliant and flowerlike human. And perhaps Hoseok may still be a lone flower, but he is no longer lonely. There is, after all, more to a garden than flowers.