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It's two a.m. and Min Yoongi refuses to sleep.

 

Rain cascades down his cracked window pane, pooling on the sill below and shimmering in the moonlight. He watches the torrent with tired eyes, red-rimmed from sheer frustration. It’s been a week since Yoongi has slept properly, but every time he closes his eyes, the dreams come back, taunting his subconscious.

 

At first, he had merely laughed them off, stumbling into his meager kitchen in the morning, wondering what sort of nighttime snack he must've had to conjure up such ridiculous images. It was annoying and strange, but manageable with a little late night tv and some low-dose sleeping pills.

 

On the fourth night, Yoongi had woken up, drenched in sweat and reaching out for someone that wasn't there— someone who he should've never been thinking of in such filthy ways.

 

The figures in his dreams were always faceless, but he knew enough—  imagined enough— to know just how depraved his mind had become. Sure, he had heard of such desires, had even pondered them before, but these visions were something else entirely. Something that had begun to consume him deeply.

 

He was ashamed. 

 

The only safe thing to do was to lie awake and sleep only when his body forced him to, when his mind could plunge so deep into slumber that he didn't dream at all. So far, he was barely holding on, perfectly content to wait whatever this was out, but life was not so simple.

 

Yoongi has a girlfriend, a fellow musician he had met at work. Soojin is her name, which complements her delicate personality. She is nice enough, soft-hearted and attentive, and Yoongi likes hearing her talk. She has a way with words, mundane yet comforting, and he often catches himself comparing her to his mother when she was much younger and he was but a bumbling child. As nice as Soojin is, their conversations are really the only interesting part of their relationship.

 

See, Yoongi spends most of his days slaving over music tracks in production, trying to find the right sound to make the music really come alive. This often meant long days and even longer nights, so relationships fell to the wayside, but Soojin doesn't seem to mind.

 

She was content seeing him at work, awkwardly trying to hold his hand when they would walk around the complex during their shared lunch break. It was all so routine and simplistic and suited Yoongi well. Despite his cold facade, he enjoys the ritual of it all.

 

At least he thinks he does.

 

Lately, these dreams have made him question everything and make him wonder just what kind of sick perverted desires lurk in his heart, pushed down everyday by busy schedules and exhausting work. He initially persevered through, cranking out tracks on demand, keeping up rushed coffee dates with Soojin, and managing what little sleep he could.  But tonight, he can't seem to ignore what's happening to him. As he lies awake, the weather outside only intensifies, fighting for dominance alongside the rush of emotion flooding his body.

 

Hot tears sting his weary eyes and Yoongi knows he can't survive much longer like this, but he needs to try. He figures the dreams will eventually leave, his thoughts will once again run pure, and he will be normal again.

 

All he has to do is hold on.

 

At three a.m., Yoongi rolls over, forcing his eyes to shut.

 

Surely, it can't get any worse, he thinks, just as a sweet numbness begins to creep into his chaotic mind.

 

———

 

“Kook, slow down,” Hoseok whispers into the dark, his hands sliding down the sweat-slicked skin of his lover. He grits his teeth, throwing his head back against the downy pillow while Jungkook writhes on top of him, taking Hoseok deeper with every bounce.

 

The younger lets out a shuddering moan, scraping his nails down Hoseok’s toned torso. “Quiet,” Jungkook retorts, though his voice cracks upon receiving a particularly strong thrust from below. He keens, arching his spine and widening his knees, straddling Hoseok properly before starting up a steady rhythm once again.

 

Below him, Hoseok bucks his hips, trying to gain more leverage on the slippery satin sheets. He has expensive taste in bedding, but he doesn't regret it one bit. Not when Jungkook is enjoying himself so immensely, head tipped back as they both rush headlong toward intense pleasure.

 

“Seok, Seok,” Jungkook whines, syllables slurring together as he bounces harder, faster, reckless in search of his end. His large hands splay out on Hoseok’s stomach, gripping the flesh roughly as he begins to cry, so close to sweet relief.

 

Hoseok chases him, gripping the younger’s hips and forcefully pulling Jungkook down onto him, bottoming out before the lift separates their bodies momentarily, only to repeat the cycle once more in an insane rush of desire.

 

Finally, Jungkook seizes up, falling forward on his lover and riding out his high as Hoseok holds him still on top of him, grunting through his own release. They lay there afterward, holding onto the feeling of stifling heat and stickiness, content to enjoy the crescendo of their love-making.

 

It's moments like this that Hoseok feels truly complete. He has everything he ever wanted as a young, wide-eyed young adult moving to the city: love, a great job, money to spare, and fame to chase.

 

He isn't entirely sure how became so lucky, especially when Jungkook begins to kitten-lick at his abs, cleaning up the white, viscous mess the younger had made only minutes ago.

 

“Fuck, I love you,” Hoseok moans, biting on his bottom lip with enough force to break the skin. He doesn't though, which he is grateful for when Jungkook clambers up his body and coaxes him into a searing kiss.

 

The younger grins like a satisfied cat enjoying the last of its cream, pulling away to trace the shape of Hoseok’s lips in the dim light. “I love you too,” he whispers hotly before dipping his mouth back for another messy, open-mouthed kiss.

 

It’s raining outside, water pouring over the bedroom window in sheets, but Hoseok pays no mind to the weather. Another rainy day in Seoul does little to stifle his happiness, especially now that he and Jungkook have finally moved in together, immediately nesting like two happy birds.

 

Giggling, Jungkook finishes lavishing his boyfriend with attention before popping up from the bed and walking out of the room and into the kitchen.

 

The layout of the medium-sized loft provides Hoseok a good view of Jungkook opening their fridge bare-ass naked before returning with two frosty beers. He places one on the nightstand while cracking open the other and handing it with flourish to his boyfriend, who is still panting in the sheets.

 

Hoseok breaks into a wide grin and takes a long gulp. “Fuck, I love you,” he repeats, dopey smile creeping over his still dazed features.

 

Perched on the bed nursing his own beer, Jungkook cocks his head and chuckles. “You already said that, old man,” he teases, batting his thick, dark lashes.

 

“I mean it,” Hoseok blurts out, certainty apparent in his tone. The atmosphere shifts considerably until both men are staring at each other with wide, unblinking eyes. “I really do.”

 

Jungkook smiles shyly against the lip of his bottle, brushing his dark mop of hair from his eyes. “You're so cheesy,” he complains, but Hoseok can see it— the way Jungkook practically bristles at the words, how happy he is.

 

A few thundering heartbeats pass by before Jungkook reclines back in the bed next to Hoseok, resting his half-empty bottle on his chest. “How was your day at work?” he begins, staring up at the ceiling. “That rookie idol group still giving you problems?”

 

Hoseok can't help but smile like an idiot at his boyfriend; he never thought they would reach the domestic stage. “Yeah,” he concedes, letting out a heavy sigh. “Their manager says it's not the kids’ fault that they can't get the choreography and that it's my problem the dance isn't working out. He says it lacks ’passion’ and that the young can sense it.” He snorts at the thought, propping himself further up on his pillow so he can look at Jungkook.

 

The younger hums thoughtfully, fingers playing with the label on the beer. “You've had a couple of clients tell you that recently.”

 

Hoseok stares at Jungkook’s stomach rising and falling. “Yes, I have,” he concedes hollowly. “You think it's true?”

 

Twisting to look his boyfriend in the eye, Jungkook tilts his head. “I think you're thinking too much. You're always in that head of yours,” he muses wryly. “Maybe you have the dancer’s equivalent of writer’s block. Try getting some inspiration.”

 

“I look up videos all the time—” Hoseok begins before Jungkook cuts him off with a soft giggle and a finger to the mouth.

 

“Try something other than dance,” he suggests. “Like drawing or oil painting.”

 

Hoseok arches a brow. “You can paint with oil?”

 

His statement earns another laugh from the younger.

 

“Yes, with oil paints,” Jungkook explains, shifting on the bed. “It's what Taehyung-hyung uses for his work and it's really pretty. You should look it up sometime. Might be worth a shot.”

 

It's Hoseok’s turn to hum thoughtfully, his mind already sorting through the idea, working it over.

 

Jungkook snaps his fingers, drawing the elder’s attention. “I can hear that brain working,” he teases, sitting up to finish off his beer. “Go ahead and do some research. I'll be here waiting on hands and knees.” He finishes his statement with a wink.

 

“Fuck, I love you,” Hoseok repeats yet again, hopping out of bed and slipping on his tight black boxers. He blows Jungkook a kiss before heading to his home office on the other side of the loft and firing up his computer.

 

He's not sure if this will work, but he has to do something. He can feel his dance suffering more and more everyday and now that it's starting to reflect in his work, it's become unacceptable. Maybe Jungkook was right and all he needed to break through the artistic block was nothing more than simple art.

 

The first few glances through the search engine peaks Hoseok’ interest, but nothing speaks to him. Nothing pushes the boundary of the flesh meeting fantasy quite like dancing.

 

Perhaps it's the methodical feel of the paintings; the art is caged on square and rectangular canvas, confining the freedom, the beauty. When he danced, he didn't feel so trapped, so expectant, and he wanted to replicate that with another medium of art.

 

Frustrated, he types a new search phrase into the bar.

 

Oil painting alternative canvas

 

The results are more than pleasing.

 

In fact, he is held in awe as several images of the nude human form covered in painted murals blankets his vision.

 

Landscapes, abstracts— layers upon layers of wondrous color contrasted by supple bare flesh. The perfect meeting of freedom and expression.

 

Instantly, Hoseok yearns to replicate the images, to sweep a brush along a live human canvas and then watch it dance, writhe before him, blurring his world with intricate beauty.

 

But how would he go about something like this? It's not a normal desire; it's not regular art. Could he really ask Jungkook if he could paint his body?

 

Suddenly, Hoseok is struck with a peculiar realization. He doesn't want Jungkook to be his muse. What he requires is something inherently innocent and pure, to be his canvas and his boyfriend is all to eager too display his body on a daily basis. It was how the two met to begin with. He couldn't possibly envision the outcome being anything but awkward and forced; not inspirational in the least.

 

Sighing, Hoseok lets his head fall to the desk with a dull thud. “There goes that idea,” he whispers acridly, feeling his recent disinterest creep back into his motivation.

 

Just as he’s lamenting his situation, his phone rings back in the bedroom, blaring out his recent favorite hip-hop track. He pads through the house to find Jungkook burrowed in the bedsheets, snoring softly. Hoseok smiles at the scene and picks up the call, pacing into the living room.

 

“Hyung?” he questions softly, noting the caller ID. “Is something wrong? It's  three in the morning.”

 

Seokjin huffs on the other line. “Yes. That idiot manager of the idol group has decided that he wants to rework the choreography again. This time he wants you to sit in on the post production of the track and work with the production team on something to debut with.”

 

Hoseok cards his fingers through his chocolate-colored locks. “What? The entire thing is being reworked from the beginning? That's fucking insane. Debut is in three months!”

 

“I know, I know,” Seokjin laments. “But you're the best guy I have and I know you can do it. There may be a tiny problem though…..“

 

“What could be worse than reworking an entire debut concept on such short notice?”

 

Seokjins falls silent on the other line and Hoseok mentally curses.

 

“You won't be working with Joon this time,” Seokjin explains slowly. “His sister is getting married on a cruise ship or something and so the track will be in the hands of the production assistant.”

 

“What? An amateur?” Hoseok’s blood runs cold. He’s always had the luxury of working with someone as talented as Namjoon and only when necessary to get a certain beat right for choreographing.

 

Seokjin laughs light-heartedly, trying to smooth over the tension. “It will be fine,” he assures. “This Yoongi kid apparently has a great resume with hip-hop work and some trap projects. Everything will be ok. Just hang in there.”

 

Hoseok sucks in a deep breath. Great. This is exactly what he didn't need, especially not in the face of his waning inspiration. “Fine, ok, alright,” he babbles, pacing around the coffee table. “When do I start?”

 

“Tomorrow. Just head straight to the production department and ask for Min Yoongi. Joon will be there for a little bit before his flight.”

 

“Will do,” Hoseok assures, stopping in front of the window to watch the rain illuminated by the glow of the streetlights below.

 

Seokjin offers a goodbye on the other end of the line and Hoseok mechanically responds, ending the call and staring out into the storm. He takes a deep breath and smiles. He can do this.

 

Hoseok still has it all, and he doesn't see anything looming in the near future that could threaten that.

Chapter Text

“Where is Soojin?”

 

Yoongi carefully places his chopsticks down on the table beside his uneaten breakfast. Despite his extensive mental preparation prior, his heart begins beating wildly in his chest. He had been dreading this question all morning, anxiously awaiting the moment when he had to confront his unusual situation.

 

“Yoongi?” his mother prompts again, a tight smile forming on her aging face. She’s wearing a soft patterned dress, much like she used to when her youngest son still lived at home.

 

“We broke up,” Yoongi finally concedes, picking up his chopsticks once more and resuming his meal, eyes flicking downward momentarily. Across the small table, Yoongi’s brother Taejoon stifles a laugh.

 

Judging by the expression on his mother’s face, one would've thought Yoongi had just admitted to committing murder. “But why?” she questions, eyeing her youngest son intently. “You've been with her for a year!”

 

“And yet, we've never met her,” Taejoon snickers. “Are we even sure she exists?”

 

Yoongi’s mother shushes her eldest and his father silently smacks Taejoon upside the head.

 

“I've seen pictures!” his mother retorts before facing Yoongi once more. “What happened? Was she disloyal? Did she become distant?”

 

“Did she get tired of your mopey bullshit?” Taejoon finishes slyly around a mouthful of sticky rice.

 

Yoongi drops his chopsticks and grits his teeth but doesn't answer.

 

“Taejoon, stop that!” his mother scolds.

 

“Quiet,” Yoongi’s father chimes in, leveling a serious glare on everyone gathered around the table. He looks pointedly at his youngest son who has stopped chewing. “I'm sure he had a good reason to let her go. At his age, dating around is natural. The Min men are known to charm women easily.” He chuckles, cracking a smile and winking at his wife.

 

Taejoon practically chokes trying not laugh. “Are you kidding me?” he taunts, pointing a finger across the table. “Appa, look at him. He’s tiny and skinny with huge bags under his eyes. And look at the way he carries himself. I wouldn't be surprised if he dumped this girl for a man.”

 

“Fuck you,” Yoongi growls, finally looking up from underneath his dark fringe of hair.

 

The table stills and Taejoon’s eyes widen. “No way… I'm right, aren't I? You like men!”

 

“I said, fuck off!” Yoongi reiterates, jumping up from his cushion. He turns to collect his phone and keys off the floor beside his bag. He can't handle this right now, not when he is functioning on less than two hours of sleep every night; not when the dreams have returned with vivid intensity.

 

It's silent behind him until his mother speaks up.  “Is it true, Yoongi? Do you like men?”

 

Yoongi doesn't move, doesn't respond. He simply can't. He tightens his hand around his keys until the metal begins cutting into his skin.

 

“Answer your mother,” Yoongi’s father demands and his voice sounds oddly cold and distant; a shell of the man he was mere moments ago. Yoongi recognizes the shift in atmosphere and the impending storm.

 

He wants to say no, he wants to refute. But the words don't come. He shouldn't have to explain himself to anyone and he sure as hell shouldn't have to be dealing with something so invasive. Everything was fine until the dreams began. If they never had started, this breakfast would've happened like any other breakfast and he would go about his day like any other day.

 

So why did he feel so inherently different now that they had? His body still breathes, his heart still beats, and everything is the same as before, right down to his tendency to be late for work.

 

“Answer me,” his father demands once more, and Yoongi can hear the man push away from the table and rise to his feet. A strong hand grips Yoongi’s shoulder and squeezes roughly. Time slows. His legs shake imperceptibly.

 

“No, I don't,” Yoongi manages to rasp out, just as his father’s grip becomes almost unbearable. He yanks his shoulder away harshly. He hopes his reply is enough and it appears to be, as his father stands back, watching his son slip on his shoes.

 

It's then that Yoongi finally looks at his family— really looks. His mother is wide-eyed and gaping, hands poised over the table in uncertainty. Taejoon no longer looks smug but instead a nauseated shock has crept into his features, and his father’s worn face is grim, eyes darkened beyond comprehension.

 

“I'll visit again next month,” Yoongi states with a slight bow.

 

Then he’s gone, rushing out the door and into the street. As he waits at the bus stop, he fidgets with his jacket, trying not to fall asleep. He pulls out his earbuds from his bag and puts them in his ears, wishing his life could be reduced to nothing more than mere beat and melody.

 

Once he arrives at the entertainment company, he steels himself for a long day. It's usually about this time in the morning that he’s had his fair share of coffee and has slipped on his cool mask of indifference, but this morning he can't seem to shake the agitation his family’s questioning has brought on.

 

With a sigh, Yoongi straightens his jacket, hikes his leather bag higher up on his shoulder, and meanders through the large building on his way to the studio. Sliding in the open door, he makes himself comfortable in the corner, unpacking his things with a scowl.

 

“Yeah, that's what I said.”

 

Yoongi perks up, catching the tail end of a conversation. The voices draw nearer until Namjoon enters the studio followed by an unfamiliar face. Yoongi pays them both no mind, pulling out his small black notebook while the two men chat idly.

 

“I told her to elope, but she wants the whole fairytale thing,” Namjoon explains with a sigh. “So, I will be gone for about three weeks. Leave it to my sister to request such a gaudy island location for her nuptials. The preparation alone is going to take forever.”

 

Namjoon’s guest chuckles and it's a strange grating sound. Yoongi pauses to listen, annoyed.

 

“Hey, it can't be that bad! Think of all the good rum and the warm weather,” the stranger remarks, his voice tinkling. He seems like the obnoxious friendly type that everyone thinks so highly of in the workplace. 

 

Yoongi snaps his head up, fingers wrapped around his idea notebook. That voice is peculiar. It’s airy, light, but could reach a certain depth on some syllables, drawing out the words in a unique lilt.

 

He instantly hates it.

 

“You should get married on an island then,” Namjoon suggests, already warming up the computers for the day with a few clicks of a mouse.

 

“Nah,” the stranger negates. “Jungkook would probably want to get married in Macau or something. I've got a boyfriend with expensive taste.”

 

Yoongi swears his hearts stops. Before he can think better, he whirls around, notebook falling ungracefully to the floor with a loud slap. “You're gay?” he questions, voice unusually high.

 

He’s never heard of anyone admitting to the lifestyle so openly, especially in this country, especially someone who wasn't a celebrity. It was taboo and the sudden declaration from this stranger has left him anxious beyond reason. Yoongi quickly scans the room, noting the absence of the other production staff.

 

The stranger’s face morphs from carefree and wry to downright furious. “Yeah, I am,” he asserts, shoulders pushing back. “Is that a problem?”

 

Yoongi opens his mouth to speak, but once again, words fail him. He takes in the man before him, slightly taller, more muscular with sharp features and lips that remind him of the soft curves of a heart.

 

And those eyes….

 

Those eyes could eat him alive in the proper circumstance.

 

Swallowing down his fear, Yoongi allows his emotions to become buried further and further down until he becomes numb, eyes lidded and posture relaxing. He had practiced the unaffected composure for years in this industry and the indifference often came to him naturally.

 

With a simple shrug of his shoulders, he turns back around towards the table. “No. I don't fucking care,” he clips out.

 

Someone lets out a shaky breath behind him. 

 

“Well, this is Yoongi-hyung,” Namjoon interjects, trying to smooth over the tension. “And hyung, this is Jung Hoseok, the choreographer that will be working with you on the group track.”

 

“Excellent,” Yoongi quips, bending over to snatch his notebook off the floor. “Now let’s cut the shit and get started.”

 

Crossing the room, Yoongi tries not to feel Hoseok’s dark eyes following his every movement.

 

——-

 

It's less than an hour into his new assignment and Hoseok can't quite figure out his coworker.

 

At first, Yoongi had seemed terribly abrasive, but as the minutes passed by, the man dissolved into some sort of zombie with a blank face and silent resolve. His long, ringed fingers tease the computer keys in precise keystrokes while his feline eyes scan the screen slowly in contemplation.

 

So far nothing eventful has happened since Namjoon left with a cheery goodbye for his impending island paradise. Hoseok is perched in a padded leather chair a healthy distance from Yoongi at the computer. He isn't entirely sure what is expected of him, but he decides to let a few more minutes pass before he speaks up.

 

“Hmph.”

 

Yoongi’s tiny grunt captures Hoseok's attention, but the elder doesn't speak; he merely continues to grip the mouse tightly and purse his lips in concentration as he listens to the track in the large headphones encircling his head.

 

Those lips….

 

Hoseok tongues his cheek, focusing on the peculiar feature.

 

Those lips are so small.

 

In fact, they reminded him of a doll— cherry-red and slightly glossy, parting every so often to let out little huffs of air.

 

“Hoseok-ssi.”

 

“Huh?” Hoseok snaps to attention, flushing red at having been caught mindlessly staring.

 

Yoongi glares at him with hollow eyes. He offers the headphones, slim arm outreaching towards the younger. A silver chain bracelet dangles on his thin wrist.

 

Laughing off the tension, Hoseok takes the headphones and fits them on snugly, giving Yoongi a thumbs up to which the other rolls his eyes at. Suddenly, a heavy thrumming beat filters into his ears, interchanged with a familiar overlay.

 

The song Hoseok had been choreographing to for months sounds similar enough, but he has to admit the rework sounds even better. His brows arch in surprise, eyes flicking towards Yoongi who seems disinterested but is leaning forward slightly in his chair.

 

Hoseok bobs his head along to the beat now mingling with the rookie group’s vocals. He hums absentmindedly before closing his eyes to envision the choreography. Instantly, he tenses up, realizing that the dance will not work at all with this new version of the song. His eyes pop open and he motions for Yoongi to stop the track.

 

Sighing, the elder shakes his head. “Not good enough for you?” Yoongi questions sarcastically, cracking a smirk that is mostly gums and small rounded teeth.

 

Brushing off the intended insult, Hoseok hands the headphones back and stands to stretch, unbuttoning his shirt as he does so. Instantly, he can feel the tension thicken in the air.

 

“What the fuck are you doing?” Yoongi looks equal parts terrified and pissed, scooting back his chair as if Hoseok was going to pin him down and have his way with him right then.

 

Being so openly gay, of course Hoseok had gotten shit before for his sexuality, but never had he experienced someone so fearful of it. He gets his button-up undone and then proceeds to roll the sleeves up into cuffs, pushing them above his elbow. He would be offended at Yoongi's reaction if he wasn't somewhat amused.

 

“I wasn't expecting to dance today so I wore a nicer shirt but I'm going to have to mark the choreography before we make any final decisions,” Hoseok explains, watching the elder relax visibly.

 

He motions for Yoongi to start the track from the computer speakers and soon, the heady beat starts up in the small space, pulsing in Hoseok’s veins and  inciting him to move. He closes his eyes, steadies himself with a deep breath and then begins to move, improvising the motions as needed when the beat requires it.

 

As he dances, Hoseok swears the music becomes louder and louder until the bass line has completely consumed him, pushing and pulling his hips with the rhythm. “Fuck,” he groans, feeling inspiration flood his body for the first time in months. “This beat… ahh…”

 

Hoseok rolls his body, giving into the music, throwing his head back as he progresses, already feeling a sheen of sweat forming on his exposed torso. He smiles and laughs darkly, enjoying the way he moves, enjoying putting on a show as always.

 

The music stops abruptly.

 

Opening his eyes, Hoseok finds Yoongi gathering his stuff and shoving it into a worn leather bag.

 

“What? Where are you going?”

 

Yoongi doesn't bother looking towards the younger as he shuts down the computer and collects the last of his things. “We are done for today,” he states curtly. “Make whatever adjustments you need and then we will meet again on Friday.”

 

Frustrated, Hoseok begins to quickly button up his shirt. “Friday? Why three days from now?”

 

Yoongi is already turning off the overhead lights when he replies. “I don't need you here to work on the track.”

 

“Ok, but I need the track to come up with the choreography,” Hoseok shouts, rushing out into the hall after the other. “Or at least a sample of it or something!”

 

Pressing the button for the elevator, Yoongi barely glances back. “Someone will send you a rough draft.”

 

“Wait, just wait!” Hoseok protests, striding towards the elevator just as the other steps inside and begins to furiously pound the “close door” button. He stops just short of getting inside with Yoongi, staring at him with wide eyes.

 

Yoongi is trembling.

 

Hoseok finds himself unbearably curious as to why.

Chapter Text

Jungkook arches his spine, taking Hoseok fully into his pliant mouth. He teases his boyfriend with a few harsh sucks before pulling off and grinning obscenely, lips slick with spit. “How was your day at work?” he questions, stroking Hoseok slowly.

“Fuck, Kook, you want to talk about that now?” Hoseok throws his head back against the pillows, sucking in a calming breath to steady himself. He had barely gotten in the door when Jungkook had immediately jumped him, pushing him onto the bed and deftly unbuckling his belt.

Jungkook cocks his head and bites his bottom lip, pulling it into his mouth. “Maybe I’m going to have a good night at work and want to talk about it,” he teases, running his fingertips softly along Hoseok’s length, making the elder curse under his breath. He pauses, eyes glistening, before proceeding. “I was asked to dance on the main stage tonight.”

Hoseok freezes, staring up at his gorgeous boyfriend with a bittersweet symphony playing in his head. Catching himself, he forces a smile, pulling Jungkook towards his chest by his hips. “Good for you,” he manages to praise awkwardly, arms stiff around his lover.

He had never had a problem with Jungkook’s occupation when they had met but in this moment, he feels uncharacteristically bothered.

Jungkook props his head up on Hoseok’s chest. “ ’Good for you’ ?” he scoffs in disbelief. “You know I've wanted this since I started working there. Since before you even came in.”

Backtracking, Hoseok tries to make up for his lack of enthusiasm. “No, it's great, I mean, you're happy, right?” He stares up into the younger's eyes, imploring him to be forgiven for his earlier insensitivity.

Jungkook pushes up, kneeling on the bed above Hoseok. He cocks his head, tonguing the inside of his cheek in frustration. “You don't want me working there anymore, do you?”

The question hits Hoseok hard. He had skirted around the issue for so long, placating Jungkook when they started dating all the way until this very moment and now months of holding his tongue are coming to fruition.

“Well, you needed the money back then to live off of, but since we moved in together I figured you would-” Hoseok pauses, searching for the right phrase. He gestures vaguely with his hands. “…. move onto something else.”

Jungkook blinks down at him before getting off the bed and pulling on his boxers. Hoseok leaps up after him, not bothering to clothe himself. He grabs his boyfriend’s wrist and gently tugs. “Don't run,” he pleads softly. “Look, I misunderstood. I thought you stripped because it was something you needed to do, not wanted.”

Jungkook wrests his hand away and huffs, running a hand through his hair. “Since when did I ever seem that desperate to you? Was it when I turned away your money the first time because I thought you wanted a ’private’ dance? Or when I told management I would find another club if they kept trying to pimp me out? I like to dance, Hoseok, just like you. I'm not a whore.”

“I never said you were,” Hoseok squeaks out, staring at his defiant, fiery boyfriend framed by the light spilling in from the doorway.

Jungkook makes a noise of disapproval and turns to the closet. “But it's implied. You're ashamed about what I do, but it's funny, because you didn't mind my job when you were a paying customer.”

Taken aback, Hoseok watches his boyfriend gather a few t-shirts and jeans, folding them over his arm. He opens his mouth to retort, to deny that things have changed, but they have. He's not exactly sure when he stopped being intrigued by Jungkook's occupation and started seeing it as a burden on their relationship but he does.

“I just think it's time that maybe you do something that doesn't degrade you,” Hoseok finds himself whispering to the back of Jungkook’s head. “I mean, you can't do this forever. What if we get married and-”

“And what?” Jungkook questions, and his voice sounds less threatening and much smaller, as if he can't quite process the turn of events. “Would you hate the idea of being married to a stripper? I'm loyal to you, Seok. It's just a job for me and I know you're not the jealous type, so what's going on?”

Hoseok stands in the dim bedroom, and for the first time, he's at a loss for words. Jungkook is right; he isn't jealous of the men that fondle his boyfriend most nights. He isn't exactly ashamed to tell others that Jungkook is dancer. But despite his pondering, he can't quite figure out why this conversation always leaves such distaste in his mouth. Looking at Jungkook, dressed in nothing but his tight boxers, the sheen of body oil still clinging to his skin, he finds himself desensitized, as if his world has become nothing but instinct without much thought.

Maybe that's what he fails to see in his relationship: any forethought, just hazy, impulsive action, first made a year ago when he cornered Jungkook in the back of the club with whiskey flowing through his veins and a wad of won in his pocket.

Leaning down to put his clothing into an overnight bag, Jungkook mumbles to himself, but in the distinct silence of the room, Hoseok hears it as clear as day: “You've changed.”

Sliding up behind his boyfriend, Hoseok wraps his arms tightly around the other, laying his head upon Jungkook’s shoulder. “Don't run,” he requests, whispering into the younger’s ear. “I'm sorry. I messed up.”

When Jungkook doesn't respond, Hoseok sucks in a deep breath and trails his lips up the column of his boyfriend’s throat. “Show me how independent you are,” he whispers hotly. “How much you don't need me to get what you want.”

Jungkook goes rigid in his arms, groaning softly. He turns slowly, dropping the clothes to the floor before pushing Hoseok roughly back onto the bed but not daring to move any closer. He hooks his thumb into the waistband of his boxers, his other hand descending lower beneath the fabric until he palms himself, effectively shutting Hoseok up for the rest of the night.

It's funny, Hoseok thinks, how easily his problems go away when he stops trying to evolve as a person and simply reverts back to the man Jungkook fell in love with: vivacious, lusty, and purposefully blind to the truth.

——-

Yoongi wakes violently, panting and shaking in his cotton sheets. He squeezes his legs together, trying to curb the torrent of arousal coursing through his veins. His toes curl and fingers flex as he sucks in lungfuls of air, trying to steady his breathing.

Never before had the figures in his dreams had faces, but tonight they did.

Tonight, he dreamt of a sharp, angled nose, high cheekbones, and heart shaped lips lavishing his entire body with attention.

Tonight, he dreamt of Hoseok.

Cursing, Yoongi rips off the covers and stumbles into his bathroom, immediately running a cold shower. Once inside, he stands under the water, trembling not from the temperature, but from the sheer frustration bubbling under his skin. His physical arousal dies down but unfortunately his mind cannot forget.

“Fucking asshole had to dance today,” he grumbles under his breath as his hair begins to drip into his eyes. He spits the water pooling into his mouth out onto the tiled floor. “Who the fuck does that? Who the fuck prances around like….. that?”

He slams his hand against the wall and curses his coworker once more, trying to hold in screams of anger inside lest his neighbors hear him. It wouldn't do any good to get kicked out of his apartment just because of his fucked up psyche. It's not the fanciest place on this side of Seoul, but it's safe and consistent, allowing him a haven amongst the upheaval of his emotions.

After a few long minutes under the spray, Yoongi cuts the water off and steps out. He sits in a towel in the middle of his living room, blankly staring at the window in a trancelike state. It's dark outside the glass with the streetlights routinely flickering on and off. For an entire hour, he remains like that, ignoring the feel of rivulets of water rolling down his back from his water-logged hair.

“I need to sleep,” he whispers to nothing and no one in particular. “I'm going insane.”

Realizing that he’s muttering to himself in the dead of night, Yoongi lets out a dark laugh, rocking back and forth slightly on the worn beige carpeting. He inclines his head toward the front door, ceasing his movement as an idea strikes him. Rising on unsteady feet, he retreats into his bedroom and dresses in a hoodie and ripped jeans before grabbing his keys.

By the time he reaches the liquor store, Yoongi is more than ready to undo three years of sobriety just for a single night’s sleep.

——

Hoseok returns to the studio Friday, determined to assert himself. Usually, he's a very reasonable guy, and of course he’s run into problematic people in the workplace before. But Yoongi was something different all together.

Perhaps the elder was put off by Hoseok’s sexuality or maybe he just didn't like the choreographer. Either way, Hoseok wasn't going to let the bitchy production assistant push him around. His career was on the line working for this highly-anticipated idol group and he would be damned if he let some cranky asshole ruin that.

So with a firm hold on his bag, he walks the halls of the entertainment company with renewed spirit, holding his head high. But instead of the cold welcome he expected upon entering his workplace, Hoseok finds Yoongi already hard at work, tapping on the desk as the track blares from the speakers. The elder must sense Hoseok’s presence because he swivels around his chair and points to a nearby table.

“Brought some coffee for us,” Yoongi explains over the music before turning to stop the track. The room falls into silence. “Didn't know how you like it so there’s creamer and sugar if you want it.” He grins awkwardly beneath his thick-rimmed black glasses. It's a strange smile, all gummy with small rounded teeth framed by those tiny glossy lips.

Hoseok stops breathing for a moment, completely stunned. Snapping to, he shakes the shock away. “Uh, thank you. Was I supposed to be here early or something?”

Waving his hand in dismissal, Yoongi turns back to the computer. “Nah, I just thought I'd get a head start,” he explains coolly. “What did you think about the draft I sent you?”

Hoseok shakes his head again and sets his stuff down at the table, eyeing the coffee. His paper cup has the word “Seok” scrawled on it with sharpie. “I like it a lot,” he admits, glancing up at the back of Yoongi’s head. “We might have to change a few parts here and there to compliment the choreography but it's definitely getting there.”

“Good,” Yoongi practically chirps. Hoseok swears he can see the man smile even from behind the man’s chair.

Sliding into his own chair, Hoseok cups his coffee in two hands. “Are you ok?” he asks bluntly, forgetting his manners entirely. “You're different today.”

Yoongi snorts, rearranging something on the computer screen. “I haven't been sleeping well lately but I fixed that,” he explains turning to look intently at the younger once more.

And that's when Hoseok begins to understand. Beneath the pungent smell of cologne there’s a hint of soju and vomit. And though he looks put together, Hoseok can now plainly see the tell-tale signs of a long night of drinking: puffy under-eyes, glassy pupils, and disheveled clothing. He swallows thickly as he places his coffee down on the desk. “Everything ok?” he questions again, softly.

Yoongi ceases his keystrokes and slowly turns towards Hoseok with hollow eyes. His tight-lipped smile doesn't match the rest of his face. “Yeah, I told you what was wrong, ok?”

“Ok.”

It's not that Hoseok particularly cares about strangers’ bad habits, but it's clear that Yoongi is struggling with something. Namjoon had mentioned that the elder was “blunt” and that he rarely indulged in anything, including drinks with his coworkers. “He’s had a troubled past” was all Namjoon had offered in way of an explanation.

Curiosity piqued, Hoseok feels like risking another biting retort just for the sake of the project’s integrity. “You know, if you need to go home, we can work on this tomorrow,” he offers with a cordial smile. “I don't mind, really.”

Yoongi tenses up and Hoseok can see him working his jaw in his profile. “What is it with you and all these damn questions?” the elder demands, facing Hoseok with a seething glare.

Putting his hands up defensively, Hoseok tries to backtrack. “Whoa, I'm just trying to be nice. You just don't seem like the type to get shit-faced just for the fun of it.”

Blinking, Yoongi stares at the younger with a strange mix of annoyance and confusion. “You've known me for less than a week,” he quips. “And if we're acting like we're well-acquainted, then you don't seem like the type to constantly try to kiss everyone’s ass but you do.” He smiles at his comeback, quirking a brow before turning back to the computer.

“I'm not kissing your ass.”

Yoongi laughs darkly, grinning at the waveforms in front of him. “ ’Everything ok?’ ’You can go home if you need to’, ’I don't mind, really’,” he mocks, repeating Hoseok’s earlier concern. “Does it bother you that much when someone doesn't like you?”

Hoseok crosses his arms, leaning back in his chair. He fixes a stern glare on the other. He’s usually a friendly, positive guy, but Yoongi is beginning to push him a little to far. “It does when I've done nothing to you. But hey, if you want the truth, I just don't want to be stuck working with someone who doesn't have their shit together. When I'm here, I'm ready to work, not babysit. Understand, Yoongi-ssi?”

Silence follows Hoseok’s outburst and Yoongi is frozen, hands lingering on the computer keys. He casts a sideways glance at the younger before turning away once more. “There it is,” he declares, all the terseness in his voice replaced with amusement. Smirking, he continues his work, leaving Hoseok to wonder just what the hell happened.

The rest of the morning follows the same strange pattern: Yoongi exudes something akin to acceptance only to recede back into annoyance the next moment. The abrupt mood swings start to give Hoseok a headache and before long he starts to think of excuses to leave early but he fears that the project will suffer for it.

It's around lunch time when his phone begins to buzz violently on the desktop. Seeing as how his hands are full of a sub sandwich he had picked up on the way to work, Hoseok puts the call on speaker phone.

Yoongi peers over at him curiously, but quickly glances away when Hoseok catches him.

“Hey,” Hoseok answers, chewing around a tomato.

“Hey,” Jungkook mimics on the other end of the line. “Just wanted to let you know that you're on your own for dinner. I got called into work early to train the new guy.”

“New guy?”

Jungkook lets out a wheezing laugh. There's a sound of a radio on in the background. “Yeah, he’s so cute, Seok, and his ass is simply amazing. All plump and round and damn— I'd probably let you fuck him just so I could watch.”

Across the room, Yoongi chokes on his own lunch, sputtering around the bite for air. He manages to save himself by pounding on his chest.

”What's that sound? Fuck, do you have me on speaker phone? You need to warn me!”

Hoseok doesn't respond, too busy laughing to care about his boyfriend’s anger or his coworker’s shock. He's so used to supportive friends like Namjoon and Taehyung that he often forgets such conversations might be jarring for others to hear. He quickly tenses up however, when he notices Yoongi glaring at him with his jaw set tightly. He isn't blinking or breathing.

“Kook, I have to go. Have a good day at work.”

“Love you, Seokie.”

“I love you too,” Hoseok replies, ending the call without taking his eyes off Yoongi. To the elder he says, “I'm sorry about that. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable.”

Yoongi starts breathing again. He whispers something inaudible, fingering the chopsticks in his bowl of ramyun.

“What did you say?” Hoseok prompts gently, fearing that the elder will explode on him again. Not that cares, but he does need to at least maintain some sanity in the workplace.

After some more grumbling, Yoongi pipes up, his eyes flicking to Hoseok’s phone. “How did you know?”

“Know what?” Hoseok questions, watching Yoongi ball his hands into fists until his knuckles begin to turn white.

Yoongi grits his teeth before clarifying. “How did you know that you like….. men?”

Taken aback by the question, Hoseok blinks, stunned.

When he doesn't answer quickly, Yoongi grows agitated, jumping up from his seat like a rocket, mumbling something about forgetting that he asked. In his haste, he knocks over his fresh cup of coffee brought earlier by an intern and spills the contents all over his shirt.

“Fuck!” he screams, pulling the fabric soaked with steaming liquid over his head, cursing even more. He turns his back on the younger, displaying an expanse of smooth, pale skin and small, tapered waist.

Hoseok’s throat constricts painfully. A thought flits across his mind momentarily before he looks away, ashamed.

Yoongi’s supple flesh would make the perfect canvas.

Chapter Text

”Here, you can have my shirt,” Hoseok offers, pulling the fabric over his head with ease. “I always bring an extra shirt for the gym but the one in my bag today has holes in it…” he trails off, motioning to Yoongi’s coffee-soaked shirt lying on the floor, still steaming. “This is better than nothing.”

Yoongi sits in his living room shrouded in darkness. He hugs Hoseok’s shirt around his thin frame, closing his eyes to inhale the scent once more. It's an intoxicating mix of fresh and musky, soft and masculine.

His eyes pop open and he takes another glance around the living room slowly, noting the empty soju bottles piled around him. Battered cigarette cartons lay on the coffee table, their glossy packaging glinting in the moonlight. It smells sour in the room, like nicotine and alcohol rolling off an unwashed tongue, but Yoongi hardly cares.

He still can't sleep, even though his vision is hazy and his mind sluggish. It's the damn scent clinging to his skin— the reminder of Hoseok keeps him painfully aware of just how wrong he’s beginning to feel.

He needs to be rid of it.

Stumbling to his bedroom, Yoongi throws himself onto the bed and crawls towards his phone nestled in the ball of sheets.

———

Hoseok sits at the computer idly scrolling through images of various oil paintings, trying to convince himself that he doesn't need a human canvas. That it's all some stupid idea he thought up one night that has now come back to fuck with his conscience.

But when he saw Yoongi like that… with his soft, pale skin… his thin waist and long fingers… He’s nothing like Jungkook, he thinks, envisioning the hard, taut lines of his boyfriend's slightly-tanned physique and the endearing bunny-toothed grin that always greets him in the afternoon.

“Shit,” Hoseok drawls, rubbing his tired eyes. For a moment he almost felt drawn to Yoongi in a terrifyingly inexplicable way, but he can't deny that he isn't curious as to why the elder seems so jumpy around him.

Slapping himself awake, he glances at the clock hanging on his office wall noting the late hour. Jungkook is still at the club helping out the new kid who Hoseok now knew was named Jimin but Jungkook had already started calling him “Chim Chim”. He groans in frustration, grabbing his phone to check for any recent messages.

It's not that Hoseok worries about his boyfriend around other men, it's just that he hates falling asleep alone, only to wake up to the sound of Jungkook showering all the body glitter of the night off. As his eyes land on the last text from Jungkook sent nearly two hours ago, an incoming call pops up on the screen. Arching a brow, he answers, uncertain what to expect from Yoongi after their last awkward work encounter earlier that day.

“Hello?”

“Come get your fucking shirt.”

Hoseok is momentarily stunned before he breaks out into a wide grin and laughs. “What? Hyung, are you ok?”

On the other end of the line, Yoongi hiccups and mumbles something to himself that sounds a lot like “I'm not your hyung”.

Reclining in his office chair, Hoseok cards his hand through his hair and closes his eyes with a sigh. “Why are you calling this late?”

“I said, come get your fucking shirt,” Yoongi snaps, though his syllables are slurred and the heavy drawl brings out his satoori.

Hoseok laughs darkly, equal parts annoyed and amused by the bumbling late night call. “Are you drunk? You sound drunk. And what's wrong with my shirt? Can't it wait until Monday?”

Letting out what sounds like an aborted growl, Yoongi begins shuffling around on his end of the line, huffing in impatience. It's only when the call falls silent does he reply. “It's your smell. It's driving me crazy,” he whispers hotly.

Hoseok’s eyes fly open and his hand ceases to rub at his temple.

Yoongi’s response was so clear, Hoseok could hear every inflection of every syllable. And his breathy tone, the weight of the words….

“Do I smell that bad?” Hoseok jokes flatly, his eyes scanning the office for something to ground him. His gaze falls to the images of oil paintings taunting him from his computer screen.

Yoongi sucks in a deep breath. “No,” he corrects, agitated. “It makes me think things about you.”

The bluntness of the statement sends Hoseok reeling, head tipping back in his chair as he grips the phone tighter to his ear. This is strange, dangerous territory, but Hoseok feels a little drunk himself from Yoongi’s constant mood swings. But most of all, he feels unbridled curiosity.

“What kind of things?”

Yoongi laughs darkly, cursing the younger out in jest, and Hoseok swears that voice is deeper now in the dead of night than it ever is in the light of day. He bites his thumb to suppress his sudden urge to compliment the man on it.

“Bad things, Seok-ah,” Yoongi drawls before he takes a loud swig of what Hoseok assumes is more alcohol. “Things that are getting hard to ignore.”

Yoongi is teasing him now, Hoseok is so sure, and suddenly he wants nothing more that to play along and draw out this new side of the man who has been tip-toeing around him from the moment they first met.

“Yeah?” Hoseok whispers low in his throat. “If things are hard,” he pauses for effect, “then you know what to do about it.”

A terse silence follows Hoseok's suggestive statement. He hears more shuffling on the other line before Yoongi lets out a huff of air and a small, drawn out moan.

Biting his lip, Hoseok gets comfortable in his chair, unable to make himself care about the numerous lines he just crossed. “What are you doing?” he asks, breathless, waiting anxiously for the elder’s reply.

Yoongi doesn't reply with words. Instead, his heady moans and grunts fill the line, eclipsing Hoseok’s racing pulse.

Hoseok listens perversely for several long minutes, his fingers twitching incessantly, yearning to touch something, someone. He closes his eyes and against his better judgment he allows himself to envision the scene down to every last detail: Yoongi in his bed, boxers pushed down to his ankles, legs spread wide. His long fingers are wrapped around himself tightly, flexing with each upward stroke. His black hair sticks to his face in little curly tendrils and those goddam lips are open, parted to let out quick pants and obscene, filthy things such as—

“Fuck…. Seok…you feel so good…”

“Do I?” Hoseok blurts out, gripping his chair tightly. He has the sudden desire to know, to understand just what Yoongi sees in him when the sun set and he wasn't so skittish. “Do I?” he repeats breathily.

“Yes… Yes… oh, fuck, yes—”

“Yoongi,” Hoseok whispers, closing his eyes, feeling the thin skin of his eyelids trembling and his eyelashes dusting the tops of his high cheekbones. “Do you want me?”

“Seok— It's wrong… but, yeah.” More grunts accompany the statement, along with smalls keens of desire filtering through the phone. “I— I want to feel better. Fuck, Seok, help me.”

Swallowing down his restrain, Hoseok nearly bites his lip in two at the statement, his heart thundering in his chest. He's not sure why he wants Yoongi to want him, to have this power over the elder, but he does and now that he's had a taste, he's suddenly ravenous for the attention.

“Yoongi, the things I could do to you…”

The jingling of keys catches Hoseok's attention and he curses, fumbling with the phone until he ends the call, barely managing to put the device down before Jungkook appears in the doorway. “You're home,” he rasps out, swallowing awkwardly.

Jungkook breaks out into a devilish grin, stalking closer to the desk with his hands behind his back. “Did I catch Seokie watching porn?” he teases, jumping in front of the computer and letting out an “I got you” noise before his brows furrow together in confusion. “Oil paintings? This is your kink now?”

He turns back to Hoseok with tinkling laughter, bringing his hands to the front once more. He offers his boyfriend two plastic sacks with a wide smile. “Since you've obviously had a boner for this art stuff lately…. I got you some supplies. Taehyung picked them out.”

Stunned, Hoseok takes the bags from Jungkook with shaky hands. He breathes deeply through his nose as he fishes out various tubes of oil paint, brushes, and a bottle of liquid that reads “paint thinner”.

“It should be enough to get a decent start. Tae is supposed to bring over some canvas to practice on later this week,” Jungkook explains, standing over Hoseok. He smells like vanilla and sweat, and his hands sparkle in the dim lighting with fine iridescent glitter.

Hoseok clears his throat, tucking the supplies back into the bag. “Thanks.”

Leaning over to pull his boyfriend into a hug, Jungkook kisses the top of Hoseok’s head with glossy lips. “Everything ok? You're shaking.”

“I'm fine,” Hoseok bites out, instantly regretting his tone. He reaches up to encircle his hands with Jungkook's. “I just…. missed you.”

Imploring lips find the shell of Hoseok’s ear, kissing it lightly before nibbling at his neck. “Show me how much,” Jungkook challenges hotly, hands skimming over the growing bulge in Hoseok’s sweat pants.

——

Yoongi curses at the studio lighting as soon as it flickers on overhead. He already hated Mondays, but after a weekend of binge drinking, this particular Monday was turning out to be a bitch.

Groaning, he sets out to warm up the computers, thinking over recent days. He doesn't remember much of the weekend with the exception of a few hazy tv programs and a heated argument with the old man from the liquor store. Despite the alarming behavior, Yoongi doesn't care about the amnesia in the slightest; it's not like he does anything in his daily life worth remembering.

A sudden knock on the door breaks him out of his loathing. He grimaces at the loud noise and turns to find Hoseok lingering in the doorway with a peculiar expression.

“Come in,” Yoongi prompts, annoyed, gesturing to Hoseok’s usual chair.

“We need to talk about this weekend.” Hoseok steps inside, hands in the pockets of his ripped jeans. He makes no move to put down his bag.

Arching a brow, Yoongi continues to set up his workspace. “Did you try to get ahold of me, because I was dead to the world,” he states bluntly. “I got shit-faced and don't remember anything so just spare me the lecture and let’s get to work.”

Hoseok closes the door softly behind him and shuffles towards Yoongi. “Anything? You don't remember anything?” His face is so open, vulnerable, that it immediately puts Yoongi on edge.

Yoongi places his cup of coffee on the desk and turns to the younger. “Should I remember something?”

He asks the question without thinking, but as soon as the words leave his mouth, he feels a growing nausea in his gut. He runs over the weekend in his head once more, picking out seemingly innocuous scenes: brushing his teeth, the moon reflecting off bottles, alarm clock blaring, Hoseok’s deep voice rough with need… He freezes before shaking off the memory as nothing more than one of his many fucked-up dreams.

“No, I was just asking,” Hoseok replies coolly, but Yoongi doesn't miss the slight trembling of his voice, the nervous laughter. “It just sounds concerning, that's all.”

Snorting, Yoongi brushes off the peculiar feeling washing over him. “Sorry that I don't have my shit together like you require. But just to remind you, we barely know each other, so let’s just move on.”

Hoseok adjusts the bag on his shoulder. He swallows hard and tugs at his hair stiffly. “Yeah, that's right,” he breathes out. “We barely know each other.” He sighs and walks to the door, pausing to place one slightly-tanned hand on the doorknob.

“Where are you going?” Yoongi demands, eyes lingering on that hand, strangely bothered by the sight of it.

Shuffling on his feet, Hoseok seems just as anxious as his coworker. “It's Jungkook’s birthday so I thought I would take him on a date,” he explains. “I was going to call, but I wanted to talk to you in person first. But now that I'm here…. Never mind.”

“You’re skipping work for that? What the fuck is so special about him, anyway?”

If Hoseok is shocked by Yoongi's venomous reaction, it's nothing compared to Yoongi’s own realization of the words that had just spilled from his mouth. He recoils, blinking furiously at the dark wooden floor.

“He works nights,” Hoseok finally replies after the tension fails to recede. “He likes to shop during the day, so….” Trailing off, he opens the door and Yoongi can't stand the feeling of those eyes staring at him, judging him.

Grabbing his stuff, Yoongi rushes to the door and rips it out of Hoseok’s hold before turning off the lights. He strides into the hallway, scowling. “Fine, we’ll take today off. Just fucking call me next time so you don't waste my time.”

Hoseok catches up to him in the hallway. “Why? So you can stay at home and drink all day?”

Yoongi stops, incredulous. He simply cannot believe the blatant disrespect this complete stranger just throws at him. And the note of pity in his voice— Yoongi hates being pitied. He tongues his cheek in disbelief, whirling around on the other. “Go fuck your boyfriend,” he spits, pulse flaring. “It is his birthday, after all. Wouldn't want to miss a chance to dick around in public.” He doesn't wait for Hoseok to respond, turning on his heel and heading towards the stairwell.

“For someone who says he doesn't give a fuck about my sexuality, you seem to care a lot about what I do with my dick,” Hoseok yells after him, voice hot with defiance.

Scoffing, Yoongi grips his bag tightly, looking back at the younger with a sarcastic smirk. “Do I?”

Hoseok stares back him with wide eyes, lips parted. He looks stunned, taken aback by something in Yoongi's words…

Yoongi's smile fades as a strange feeling of déjà vu pulls at the fringes of his mind.

“Fuck…. Seok…you feel so good…”

”Do I?”

“Yes… Yes… oh, fuck, yes—”

And just like that, Yoongi remembers what he did with his weekend and the shame burns hotter the longer Hoseok’s eyes linger on his lips.

Chapter Text

Yoongi has made many mistakes in his life, including a two year stint in college where he was little more than the picture of a functioning alcoholic. He finally got sober though, as the pressure of success died down and he realized that he actually had talent and wasn't born to bring dishonor to his family name.

The realization came shortly after he was praised by a well-known producer during his first internship. Back then, he had been living off of spicy ramyun and cheap soju that his new friend Namjoon often scolded him for. But as soon as the appreciative words had left their project manager’s mouth, Yoongi knew things would change in his small little world. After years of constant self-doubt and depression, he decided that the high of producing a good track was much better than the bottom of a bottle.

But things were vastly different now; Yoongi’s world had imploded in a mere matter of days. It had been quite a long time since he had felt incompetent in the studio, but Hoseok was testing his limits. Yoongi had always had a prickly personality, but he had never done something so unprofessional before, especially with a coworker.

Especially with a man.

To say he was in denial was putting it mildly. The very memory of the phone call with Hoseok was enough to drive him insane with frustration, and he was willing to do whatever it took to prove that this was all just in his head. Yoongi was a man who liked women, who didn't fantasize about his coworkers, and who didn't give a flying fuck about who they were dating.

Right now, it’s later than he would like to be out, but Yoongi could walk from his apartment to the corner liquor store blindfolded if he wanted. He shoves his hands in the pocket of his oversized hoodie, frowning at the ground.

There is no use in trying to explain himself to Hoseok. The damage had been done and that idiot probably wouldn't understand anyway, let alone care. The younger had fully intended on leaving Yoongi in the dark about the phone call, probably to his own amusement, but unfortunately even alcohol couldn't erase such a mortifying incident.

Hopefully, in less than two weeks, Namjoon would be back and Yoongi would request to be on a different project. It would surely be a blow to the ego, but it wouldn't be the first time he had to sacrifice his image just to keep his sanity.

Sighing, Yoongi breezes past the entrance of the liquor store, ignoring the old man behind the counter who grumbles at his presence. He finds his preference in soju, grabs two cases, and walks down the remaining aisles looking for something to munch on while he drinks the night away. He grimaces as a snippet of conversation assaults his ears.

“I'm telling you, that club has the hottest dancers in this part of the city. We should take Hankyul there and make a man out of him.”

Two men are blocking the aisle when Yoongi rounds a corner, chatting animatedly. Wearing slim suits with loosened ties, the men look more at home in an executive office than in this grungy place. One of them casts his gaze sideways at Yoongi but doesn't move.

“That's just what that kid needs,” he tells his friend. “Have you seen him lately? I think he’s forgotten what a woman even looks like.”

The two men laugh, swaying with amusement before Yoongi clears his throat loudly and brushes past them, eyeing the bags of chips lining the shelves. He makes a show of ignoring the terse silence that follows his movements.

“Better take him there soon before he starts looking like this pathetic skinny motherfucker,” one of the men snorts, his tone dripping with condescension.

Yoongi stills, hands poised over his favorite snack. Normally, he would return the insult in kind, not one to put up with such blatant disrespect, but something about the situation gives him pause.

Is the turmoil in his mind really that visible to others? Was it so obvious that he was becoming—

That he might be attracted to men?

Crushing the chips in his hand, Yoongi grits his teeth.

He was a joke to them, to Hoseok, to his family.

He would fix that.

Rising to his feet, Yoongi stalks to the front of the store and sets the cases of soju on the counter. The old man quotes a price but Yoongi waves him off.

“Not buying,” he says, leaving the store empty-handed and striding into the street. He immediately turns away from the direction of his apartment, heading towards the bus stop.

There is only one place he knows that could pull the truth out of him, even if it meant he had to humiliate himself for the second time in a matter of hours.

——-

The strip club is loud and hazy, smoke swirling in the air as the smell of alcohol and sweat intermingles.

Yoongi walks past the sprawling bar near the front, uncertain but determined, eyes scanning the crowds of gawking men for the one thing he needed right now to prove himself wrong: a woman.

He’s halfway inside the building when the realization hits him. He had only been buzzed at the liquor store, but apparently it was enough to make a huge error in judgement. This is an all-male strip club, filled to the brim with all shapes of exotic dancers dancing in tiny shorts clinging to their oiled torsos. Horrified, Yoongi immediately turns around, walking swiftly towards the exit and pushing past incoming customers.

But just as the exit comes into sight, a rather large man blocks his path however, chatting up a tall, lean dancer with a mess of chocolate brown hair and heavily-lined eyes. The dancer laughs along to whatever the customer is telling him, running his fingertips over the man’s shoulder teasingly.

Yoongi clears his throat angrily, staring at both men with venom.

The large man sneers at him, walking away with a look of annoyance. The dancer however, seems amused, his eyes scanning Yoongi up and down painfully slow. He cocks his head and laughs breathily. “You're not dressed properly for a strip club,” he teases, moving closer.

Yoongi steps back. “I'm not a stripper,” he argues, glaring at the stranger.

The dancer gives him a devilish grin, showing off a set of endearing bunny teeth. “You should be,” he replies smoothly, eyeing Yoongi. “You're so small and cute.”

Immediately, Yoongi grows defensive. “I'm not cute,” he practically growls, pushing the strange man out of the way with a flat palm to the chest.

The dancer laughs again, not upset about being moved aside. “Ah, So you're one of those,” he muses, yelling over the music.

Yoongi whirls around, head cocked and temper flaring. “One of what?”

Giggling, the dancer moves closer, eyeing Yoongi like a deadly predator encroaching on Yoongi’s personal space. “One of those men who has got something to prove,” he whispers, bringing his lips dangerously close to Yoongi’s ear. “Let me guess, you're here to test a theory of yours? Maybe see if what you've been feeling is real?” He draws back to look at Yoongi with a raised brow, his eyes sparkling with mischief.

Stunned, Yoongi can only stare back, finally realizing just how transparent he really is.

“I'm Kookie,” the dancer explains coyly, gently grabbing Yoongi’s hand, “but I know someone else who might be able to help you.”

He doesn't understand why, but Yoongi lets the man guide him through the club, past the main stage, and into a secluded corner. The music is softer here but still thrumming in his veins, while a sweet scent permeates the air. Pulling aside a a heavy velvet curtain, “Kookie” coaxes him inside a private alcove.

Yoongi begins to protest but then his eyes fall upon a man perched delicately on a couch, wearing a black silky robe that skirts over the tops of his toned pale thighs.

Kookie smiles knowingly, inclining his head towards the other man. “This is Jimin.” He pushes Yoongi inside and closes the curtains abruptly behind him, disappearing back into the club.

Yoongi can't bring himself to move as Jimin eyes him curiously. To say he's stunned is an understatement; Yoongi is perplexed by this man who is so unlike the other dancers here. Where Kookie is muscular and hard, but still boyish, this Jimin guy is light, airy, and elegant with his amethyst hair and smokey eyes. His face is smooth and angular; the perfect frame for lips that Yoongi could only describe as plush.

“Come sit,” Jimin suggests sweetly, patting the cushion next to him. His voice is like honey, dripping past those soft pink lips. “What's your name?”

Yoongi doesn't move or speak, he just stares, blinking back the shock to his system.

Giggling, Jimin cocks his head and bites his lip in contemplation, gaze lingering on Yoongi's face. “You don't have to answer. I'll just give you a name if that's ok.” He pauses to hum thoughtfully, staring at Yoongi with hooded eyes. “That face looks so sweet, like sugar,” he muses, pronouncing the English word slowly as if he is tasting it on his tongue. “You're my… Suga.” The dancer smirks at the nickname, giggling softly.

“I'm not sweet,” Yoongi manages to reply dumbly, wondering where his bravado has gone in the presence of this man.

Jimin smiles, but unlike Kookie’s predatory smirk, this gesture is forlorn and melancholy, as if he can already perceive where this situation is heading. “Maybe not, but I'd love to have a taste,” he purrs, motioning Yoongi forward with a flick of his ringed finger.

For some reason, Yoongi complies, feeling his sense of self fade away amongst the heavy bass pulsing through he club.

——

Hoseok draws his brush over the canvas slowly, concentrating on the way he feels. He’s been painting for roughly three hours, waiting for Jungkook to return home and so far he is pleasantly surprised.

He isn't exactly Picasso, but he does feel empowered with taking up a different creative medium, as if the very act of wrapping his brain around a new challenge was clearing up the fog in his mind. The picture isn't perfect of course, but it’s not bad either. It just was and it had been a long time since he had felt this creatively free.

The front door unlocks and Hoseok stands back from his project proudly, listening to the footsteps of his boyfriend down the hall. Seconds later, Jungkook peers inside, smiling from ear to ear.

“Hey Seokie, I—” he stops, staring beyond Hoseok at the painting. “Did you paint this?” He moves into the room, dropping his bag on the floor in awe. “It's… beautiful.”

Hoseok preens at the compliment though he is uncertain about his level of talent. The yellow rose sloppily comprised on the canvas is blocky and lacks any technique, but it could be easily identified as a flower and that was enough for him.

Stepping up to the painting, Jungkook reaches out to touch it, but pulls his hand back at the last second. “It's still wet, right? When will it dry?”

“I don't know. I have no idea what I'm doing,” Hoseok admits, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly.

Jungkook smiles, shaking away his boyfriend's attempt at modesty. “Shut up. This looks great for a first time! Tae-hyung will be impressed.”

“You think so?” Hoseok considers as he wipes off his hands with a rag. “If you like it so much, you can have it when it's finished. Happy Birthday.” He grins, sliding his arms around the younger’s waist.

Sighing, Jungkook feigns concern over his stroke of luck. “Who knew turning nineteen would come with so many gifts? Where will I put all of them?”

“I forgot that you're still just a kid,” Hoseok teases, pulling the other into the living room. “Makes me feel creepy when you bring it up.”

“Does it? You sure didn't feel creepy when you asked for a lap dance from an eighteen-year-old the first time you ever met him,” Jungkook quips.

“You were fucking hot! I didn't hear any complaints from you.”

Jungkook strides into the kitchen grabbing a beer from the fridge. “Of course not,” he states, taking a quick sip of the alcohol Hoseok purchased for him earlier in the day. “I've always wanted a sugar daddy.”

Grabbing a pillow from the couch, Hoseok steps into the kitchen and aims for his boyfriend. The younger squeals as he dodges, trying not to spill his beer.

“Oh!” Jungkook exclaims suddenly as his face lights up with realization. “Speaking of love in the club, Jimin had his first time today.”

Hoseok stops his pillow attack and laughs in disbelief. “What? He was a virgin?”

Jungkook snorts and waves a hand around. “No, no! Every dancer always has a ’first time’ when they think they've fallen in love with one of their customers,” he explains with a wistful sigh. “Lucky for me, it ended up working out.” The younger grins against the lip of his can, cheeks turning pink.

Leaning against the fridge, Hoseok clucks his tongue in contemplation. “Maybe it will work out for him too. You said Jimin is a good kid, so who knows? What do you think?”

Jungkook laughs darkly and sets his beer on the counter. “Oh, his guy was so bitchy and condescending, but I have an eye for the ones still hiding in the closet,” he declares proudly. “If he ever comes to terms with his sexuality, then I think him and Jimin will definitely become something.

“The guy isn't gay?” Hoseok’s interest is piqued, standing just inside the kitchen.

“Oh no, he's definitely gay,” Jungkook croons, laughing. “But he’s in deep denial of it. Probably wandered into the club looking for a pair of tits but got me instead. You should’ve seen it Seok, he wouldn't really look me in the eye and he got so angry when I called him out on it.” He pauses to cast a glance at the tiled floor, brows furrowing in deep thought. “It must be hard to live with pain like that, hating yourself so much because you can't understand what’s going on inside you.”

As Hoseok listens to his boyfriend, a picture begins to form in his mind— a picture of a small, wisp-thin man with a deep scowl, buried inside himself. He’s got pale skin that flushes with anger, lips that curse the world, and eyes that are so cold, frozen over with fear.

In that moment, he pictures Yoongi.

In that moment, he finally understands the tension between them, why the elder is so hostile and moody. Why everything came to a head earlier that day after Hoseok had failed to put some distance between their strange relationship. Maybe he's like the man Jungkook is speaking of; maybe he doesn't understand his desires.

“Oh,” Hoseok gasps, staring past Jungkook at the wall blankly. “Oh.”

And just like that, everything becomes clearer, like layers of paint shaping into the beginnings of a familiar picture.

Chapter Text

Yoongi won't speak to him and Hoseok isn't surprised.

The elder must feel so embarrassed by the drunken phone call, the odd questions, and the overreactions. Now that Hoseok is aware of what is going on, he is willing to forgive the other for the rude behavior, but just because Hoseok understands the situation didn't mean that Yoongi does.

From what he could tell, Yoongi was struggling deeply with his sexuality to the point of restlessness, and in hindsight, it made perfect sense. The jumpy behavior, the lack of sleep, the binge drinking, and the complete inability to form a proper relationship with anyone. Even Namjoon had mentioned once that Yoongi was his hyung but never like a brother; the elder always kept everyone at bay with sharp words and a cold countenance.

Hoseok knew he shouldn't care and that he should finish up the project and move on, but he is genuinely curious how someone like Yoongi ended up in the situation. The man was not only musically talented, but he was lyrically gifted, having signed his name on many popular hip-hop tracks. The higher-ups in the entertainment company praised him and even Namjoon was eager to see Yoongi promoted. Elsewhere in the building, the whispered name of Min Yoongi usually brought with it sentiments of “that guy is a genius” along with “too bad he's an asshole” and “I heard he’s a bitch to work with”.

Yoongi had earned much respect but saw none of it because of his composure. Whereas Hoseok was a relatively new choreographer but people were drawn to him like candy due to his amiable nature. He never walked out of a place without making a new friend and he never once had to question himself about his talent. This most recent bout with artistic block was the first time Hoseok had ever felt frustrated with anything and wonders just what it would be like to live on the other side, to feel so out of control.

In other words, he began to pity Yoongi and that was his first mistake.

When Hoseok had shown up bright and early the next work day with coffee and a smile, willing to work things out, Yoongi gave him the finger, threw Hoseok’s borrowed shirt on the floor and walked out. He spent the rest of the week working on the track from somewhere else in the building, evading Hoseok and only sending him the latest drafts of the track every night around midnight.

But as much as Hoseok wanted to complain, he found that he couldn't. He found himself excusing Yoongi’s behavior and hiding himself away just as the elder had been doing. When he wasn't perfecting the choreography for the track, Hoseok painted. He found the hobby to be relaxing, drawing him into a semi-hypnotic state that soothed his anxious mind. Jungkook would often come home to several small paintings scattered around the house drying. He would praise Hoseok with wide eyes and make requests, but in the end, there was only one subject that always came remarkably easy to Hoseok: flowers.

Dozens of them, becoming richer with color as the days went on. It's Friday afternoon now and he’s fresh out of canvas, but luckily Taehyung is due any minute with more.

“Wow,” Taehyung states, scanning the apartment with unblinking eyes. He’s got a clear trash bag full of various canvases on wooden frames, throwaways from his art program that he insists Hoseok practice on. He claims it takes away the pressure of ruining good, expensive canvas with mediocre skills but Hoseok isn't afraid to make a mistake. Lately he's been making many.

Hoseok sighs, helping the younger haul in his bag of supplies. “I know, they're terrible,” he laments. “An artist like you must be cringing internally.”

“No… No… wow,” Taehyung babbles, his deep tone bouncing off the walls. He turns on Hoseok abruptly with wide eyes above high cheekbones splattered with tiny flecks of paint. “You're a… prodigy.” He mouths the last word over and over as he walks around the apartment looking over the paintings. “Where did you learn this?”

“I didn't. I just get inspired, that's all.” Hoseok shrugs, lingering in the entryway in his sweats and mismatched socks. He steps into the space his as Taehyung whirls on him with an eagerness that borders on chaotic.

The younger laughs gleefully, a boxy grin forming on his tanned face. “You must have a great muse,” Taehyung exclaims, becoming more animated by the minute. “You should put these in a gallery! I know this small one that showcases local artists and they would love—”

Shaking the other, Hoseok captures Taehyung’s attention. “Oh no. I'm not even that good! Besides, I think this hobby is taking over the apartment. I should probably stop.”

“No!” Taehyung blurts out, horrified, grasping Hoseok by the shoulders. His hands dig painfully into the material there. “You can't quit! You're a prodigy!”

“But I—”

Hoseok is silenced by a finger pressed against his lips.

“Use my studio! It's only a few blocks away from here and I need to use it enough to justify the rent.” Taehyung is bouncing on his feet now, insistent that the elder continue his artwork even though Hoseok feels lost when it comes to technique or style. He just paints.

“I don't know,” Hoseok laments, pulling away despite Taehyung’s grip tightening. “It's really not that big of a deal.”

Taehyung stares back at him oddly before pointing to a painting propped against the wall by the couch. It's the one of a dozen red roses, the flowers tinged black in the center then fading out into a vivid crimson while some of the petals fall to the ground, a representation of dying love in all its beauty.

“What you feel when you paint something like this… that is a big deal. Trust me, I should know,” Taehyung whispers, strangely serious. His hands have fallen limply to his sides and he stares at the elder as if Hoseok was a natural wonder, a comet streaking across the sky. “When you have a muse that brings this out, you should never let go of it.”

Hoseok nods along dumbly, only having heard the word “him” at the end of Taehyung’s sentence.

——

Even though Yoongi feels like a complete moral failure, at least he is successful at avoiding Hoseok.

It had been a simple matter really, change studios within the building, bribing the secretary to play dumb and locking himself away until well after working hours. And of course he had to avoid calls, texts, emails, and possible surprise encounters at the various exits of the building. After four peaceful days, things were looking up even though Yoongi’s health and mental state were rapidly declining.

Friday evening, Yoongi begins his final edits on the track and once satisfied, he leaves the studio, nodding to the janitor on his way out. With a slight pep in his step, he boards the bus, home-bound and ease.

He feels at peace in a peculiar way, and Yoongi doesn't know what to blame the special circumstance on. It's true that avoiding Hoseok was doing wonders for his curiosity, but he would be lying if the strange encounter at the club hadn't influenced his newfound perspective.

Jimin was… something else entirely, and Yoongi didn't normally like to be blind-sided, but this was different.

This was—

An incoming text appears on the phone loosely sitting in Yoongi’s lap and he reads it curiously. It's from Namjoon, asking where he is because he wanted to meet up and go over the project’s progress. Apparently he was back from his trip early.

An unbidden smile instantly appears on Yoongi’s haggard features, pushing aside all the tension and unease the past week had brought. If Namjoon was back then Yoongi could put all this behind him and never see Hoseok again. He could start fresh, occupy his mind with different tracks and possibly salvage his life.

With a relieved sigh escaping his chapped lips, Yoongi types a reply out and hits send, expecting Namjoon to inform him that they could meet up at a cafe or park but instead, the younger suggests an address that Yoongi is not familiar with. Frowning, he checks the location online and finds that the place is some sort of rental property. He texts Namjoon back to be certain, but the man never replies.

It takes Yoongi an extra hour to reroute himself on various buses, but he finally makes it, coming to a stop just outside the whitewashed building. He takes a deep breath and knocks on the door, rocking on his feet in anticipation. When the door finally opens, he feels his legs go numb and bile rise in his throat.

It seems Hoseok had outwitted him.

——

“You tricked me.”

The disbelief on Yoongi’s face would be comical if Hoseok wasn't absolutely terrified of the other sucker-punching him for the act of deceit.

“I had to,” Hoseok admits. “You won't work with me and it's going to affect the track production. Namjoon wasn't happy to hear that—”

“You shouldn't have told Namjoon,” Yoongi warns darkly, eyes simmering with contempt. He scoffs, glancing towards the street before locking his gaze on Hoseok. “Just who the fuck do you think you are? First, you come into my workplace, act like you know better than me about my own fucking life, drop work for your boyfriend, and then you laugh at my expense over a drunken phone call? Everybody does stupid shit when they're drunk! Go fuck yourself, Hoseok!”

Fuming, Yoongi finishes his rant with a crack in his voice and then stalks into the street, hugging his bag tightly.

“I'm sorry!” Hoseok yells, cupping his hands around his mouth. Yoongi stops cold in the street but doesn't turn around. “I was an asshole and I'm sorry!”

Whipping around in a heated rage, Yoongi runs right back up to the doorstep, nearly knocking Hoseok over in his haste. “You're sorry now? So what? You want to be friends now? Drink Soju after work and talk shit over street foods?” he questions sardonically, his smaller frame suddenly much more intimidating than it had any right to be. “Why can't you just fucking see that I want nothing to do with this? With any of this! I didn't ask for this and I sure as hell didn't ask for you, so get the fuck out of my sight.”

Yoongi drops the bag slung precariously over his shoulder and then pushes Hoseok violently to the ground, looming over him. Swallowing hard, Hoseok sits there numbly with wide eyes, taking in the sight of such unbridled fury from the man he had thought he understood, but this doesn't look like mild confusion over sexuality. This was raw self-hatred lashing out at anything and everything. Hoseok sits there sprawled on the ground, palms digging into tiny rocks on the concrete. He just simply watches in awe of the spectacle.

“I hate you,” Yoongi spits, actually physically spits on the ground, making Hoseok feel so small and demeaned. “I hate what you've done to me. No one had a problem with how I acted before you. You're the only one can't seem to realize that I just don't like you.” Satisfied with his verbal assault, he backs away slowly, shaking with anger and though Hoseok is horrified by the turn of events, he impulsively reaches out to wrap a firm hand around the elder's wrist.

Yoongi eyes their connection with disgust before bringing his murderous gaze back to Hoseok.

“We both know that's not true, Yoongi.” Hoseok can feel himself trembling, so unused to the feeling of fear, of not being the dominant, self-assured one.

The elder growls out a warning, low and gravelly and his eyes are nothing but sharp black pools. “Don't fucking touch me.”

But their skin is still touching. Hoseok won't let go and Yoongi won't back down.

“Oh, so you're finally done trying to people-please, Mr. Nice?” Yoongi mocks, lips curling into a disbelieving smirk. “I told you to let go of me, so let go.”

“No. I'm not letting you walk all over me anymore.”

This is the part where Hoseok should plead with Yoongi to understand and tell him that he knows why he's so upset, that it's normal to question one’s sexuality, but something in Yoongi’s condescending gaze stops him cold.

Maybe it's the realization that Hoseok doesn't exactly know why he cares so much. It's not really about the project at this point and if he was honest with himself, it wasn't even about relating to Yoongi’s struggle. If he was truly honest, he was perversely fascinated by the challenge, the fragile state of Yoongi’s mind. If he was rejecting the idea of being attracted to the same gender so vehemently, then what exactly did Hoseok make him feel? Could it be that Yoongi didn't just desire Hoseok’s easy and open life, but instead, he desired Hoseok?

Was that late night phone call much more than a drunken slip-up?

Yoongi’s doll-like lips are trembling and Hoseok feels strange, so unlike himself, like a predator ensnaring his first kill.

It occurs to him then, just what he sees in Yoongi.

The purity of fresh canvas waiting for his brush.

Not the cheap kind that's been painted over before or has been sitting in a back room somewhere collecting dust. Fresh, pale canvas that he could run his fingers over, trail color after color over until Yoongi finally sees the beauty, feels Hoseok bring him into existence.

Quickly, he tugs Yoongi down to him, watching the elder’s knees hit the pavement roughly, darkening his jeans. Yoongi swears, teetering off-balance and falling on top of Hoseok. His cold, dark eyes flit up to lock with Hoseok’s hooded gaze. For a few seconds, the air between them is thick with tension, vibrating with something unspoken and raw.

“Yoongi,” Hoseok whispers, finding himself lost in the tumultuous storm raging in the elder’s eyes. He reaches up to touch the other’s pale skin, dry from lack of proper care and rest. If only Yoongi understood himself, if only he wouldn't fight so hard against the feeling. Maybe then his eyes would look more alive, his skin would become bright and supple, and his small lips would feel like heaven against the skin of another…

“Yoongi,” Hoseok tries again, his fingers skimming over the elder’s cheek.

Recoiling back, Yoongi shakes with anger— or is it fear?

“Don't,” he whispers, pushing up on unsteady arms. His breath is coming in erratic, gasping pants and he’s quivering against Hoseok, heat rolling off his body and making Hoseok feel warm and languid. “Don't do this to me.”

Before Hoseok can even form a response in his muddled brain, Yoongi runs, darting across the street, and Hoseok is left to breathe in the air he left behind, desperate for something he didn't even realize he needed.

Chapter Text

Yoongi hurls his bag into the living room, unflinching as the sound of glass breaking resounds in the small space. He’s so furious— so incredibly angry at the blatant disrespect Hoseok has shown him.

This afternoon was by far the worst, calling his boss just to scold Yoongi like a petulant child and then cornering him like a wild animal. Not to mention whatever the fuck happened when Hoseok had pulled him to the ground, faces close while he whispered in a tone that made Yoongi ache. What kind of coworker does this shit?

Throwing open his fridge, Yoongi surveys the selection of liquor, reaching for a bottle with shaky hands. As soon as his fingers wrap around the cool neck, he pauses, remembering the chiding of a tinkling voice. Blinking away the memory, he shuts the door, grabs his keys, and ventures out into the night in search of that voice once more.

He isn't sure if Jimin will even remember him, but to his surprise, the coy dancer’s face lights up at the sight of Yoongi loitering in the lounge with his hands shoved into the pockets of his ripped jeans. He doesn't wave the elder over, instead he turns on his delicate bare feet and makes his way through the crowd, daring Yoongi to follow without so much as a word.

Yoongi does.

Jimin is seated on the same velvet couch nestled into the same curtained alcove. Yoongi is pretty sure that these spots are reserved for lap dances or other more questionable things, but oddly enough, he finds the space comforting after their last encounter.

“Come sit, Suga.” Jimin pats the spot next to him gently. His long fingers are heavy with rings, glittering in the light. When Yoongi sits stiffly, the dancer lets out a sigh. Tonight he's wearing a crimson satin robe that shows a peek of smooth, pale chest and his eyes are lined tightly with smokey black. “Have the dreams come back?” he questions with an airy voice full of concern.

Yoongi shakes his head slowly, still scolding himself for the three-hour conversation he had with this man earlier in the week. He didn't exactly know how Jimin made him feel at ease enough to discuss his issues that night, but he did, and now the dancer was the only soul in the world that knew of Yoongi’s struggle.

“No. I do my best to avoid them,” Yoongi admits, shrugging. He tries to ignore Jimin’s intense gaze and the way he trails a soft pink tongue over extremely plump lips.

Jimin clucks his tongue in disapproval, leaning over to brush Yoongi’s hair from his eyes. “I thought I warned you about drinking so much. It's not good for you.”

“Lack of sleep fucks me up more.” Yoongi laughs sardonically, but the dancer isn't amused, leaning back on the couch and drawing Yoongi's eyes to a show of the taut muscle of his torso peeking out from beneath the robe.

“And the dreams?” Jimin questions, one eyebrow cocked. “What do they do to you?”

Yoongi swallows hard. “Make me insane,” he mutters, tearing his gaze away to look at the heavy curtains in front of him. Shifting closer, Jimin begins to stroke Yoongi’s hair softly, listening intently. “I can't keep living like this,” the elder continues, balling up his hands until the nails begin to bite into his flesh. “It's not as simple as everyone seems to think. I know this isn't who I am.”

Jimin’s ministrations cease momentarily as he hums in thought. “Who do you want to be? If you could choose every aspect of your life, what would it look like?”

The question leaves Yoongi’s chest cold and he swears the air becomes thicker just from looking into Jimin's curious gaze. He hesitates to answer but it's not really all that complicated. “Fulfilling job, decent money, somebody to love.”

Jimin sucks in a deep breath and grasps Yoongi's chin gently, turning the elder’s brooding face until their eyes lock. “That ’somebody’ doesn't have to be a woman or man, a past love or a friend. There aren't rules that can define something like that. No one can tell you how to love, including yourself,” he states, putting a gentle pressure on the fingers holding Yoongi’s chin captive.

Staring into Jimin’s dark, knowing eyes, Yoongi thinks he finally feels a sense of relief even if half of the dancer’s statement incites a deep-ceded fear. He manages to suck in a shaky breath and Jimin shares the same air, pulling it back between his parted lips while watching Yoongi struggle to understand.

“You need to make peace with this inner turmoil,” Jimin suggests, placing his other hand over Yoongi’s heart. “If you don't, you and everyone around you will suffer for it.”

Yoongi’s fingers twitch, in desperate need to remove Jimin’s touch but he can't bring himself to hurt the dancer, to reject his kindness. “How do you know this?” he asks, eyes wandering over the myriad of emotions flickering across the younger’s face.

“How do you think I ended up here?” Jimin tries to punctuate his statement with a cheeky smile, but it comes off as jaded and so very bitter. He pulls away from Yoongi and rises to his feet, preening in preparation for the night ahead. “I'm sorry, my Suga, but I've got dances booked all night,” he explains, opening the curtain to let Yoongi through and back into the club.

There are men lounging around outside the alcove, their hungry eyes raking over Jimin the second he appears. They don't regard the dancer with anything but animalistic lust and Yoongi can't possibly fathom such a sweet person allowing himself to be consumed in such a way.

“Take care of yourself,” Yoongi whispers, beginning to walk away with heavy shoulders.

Jimin can only smile tightly in response. “You too.”

——

“Hoseok? Hoseok?”

A napkin hits Hoseok square in the face, startling him.

“Huh? Oh yeah, what did you say?”

Seokjin purses his lips in annoyance, cradling his cup of coffee. “That's the third time you've spaced out since we've been here,” he chides. “Is this about the fight with the Yoongi guy?”

Hoseok whips his head away from the window, incredulous. “Hyung, he told you about that?”

“Of course!” Seokjin shakes his head. “Joon was expecting more professionalism from my best choreographer and instead you ask him to help you resolve a petty argument? What are you guys fighting about anyway? I hope it's not the project.”

Scowling, Hoseok plays with the crumbs littered on the cafe table. “The track production is fine. We’re almost finished,” he sighs, letting out a heavy breath. “And it was nothing really. Just a simple misunderstanding.”

Seokjin arches a perfect brow, disbelief evident on his blank face. “A simple misunderstanding wouldn't drive you to call your project director, ask him to trick your coworker, and then cause you great distress when you can't reconcile your differences,” he observes, eyeing Hoseok with the contempt only the elder could provide. ”Something more is going on here, but whatever you did, you need to undo. Even if Joon understands, word gets around the industry and you don't want to be the guy no one wants to work with.”

“Fine, I’ll try talking to him again—” A hand nearly slaps Hoseok on the mouth in an effort to stop his half-assed reply.

“No, no,” Seokjin scolds, shaking his head. He places his coffee down and leans across the table slightly, grabbing Hoseok’s undivided attention. “I didn't say talk to him. I said ’undo’ what you've done wrong and I'm sure you know exactly what you've done wrong.”

Hoseok stares at his boss with incredulity, unable to comprehend such a cryptic suggestion. He blinks several times, hoping the epiphany will come but all he can think about is Seokjin’s commanding tone. “How do you know that this is all my fault?”

“Seok, everyone likes you,” Seokjin explains slowly as if Hoseok isn't capable of following along otherwise. “I once watched you make friends with the guy in the urinal next to you after he was fired…. by you. Not to mention, you're usually so bubbly that even I, who makes terrible puns, begins to get annoyed. But I can't figure out what the hell happened to you. You're different somehow.”

Hoseok swallows hard, coming back to reality. “You're upset with me, aren't you, hyung?” he asks, suddenly very much aware of his recent actions. He is usually so responsible and professional— the one guy others could count on to get the job done with a smile, and here he was talking to Seokjin for the first time in over a week. He hangs his head when a particular realization strikes him. “Oh shit! I haven't been sending the progress notes I promised you.”

Seokjin nods minutely, suddenly interested in his coffee once more. “I had to tell Producer-nim that you wanted the evaluation to be taken from another project instead of this one. Don't worry, you didn't make me look too bad in front of my boss.”

“Hyung, I—” Hoseok stops himself, squeezing his eyes shut. Nothing he could say would ever make up for forgetting about Seokjin’s possible promotion being dependent on a performance evaluation from Hoseok himself. He remembered printing off the paperwork about a week or so ago, right before he met Yoongi….

A gentle hand finds Hoseok’s, resting atop it slowly. “It's fine,” Seokjin assures, smiling. “I know you, and to forget something like that means that something must be really bothering you, so I politely suggest that you get your shit together or I’ll just move you to another project.”

The saccharine sweetness of the elder’s voice draws a half-hearted chuckle from Hoseok, but he still feels empty, so unlike himself. He had let this thing with Yoongi taint his usual disposition and it was beginning to impact more than just the project.

“Don't worry about it, ok? I’m sure it will all work out. See you soon, Seokie.” Seokjin dismisses himself with a wave, gliding away with a designer peacoat trailing after his long form.

Hoseok sits in quiet contemplation for a while, finishing his own coffee, thinking over every encounter with Yoongi from those first tepid days to the phone call and then the recent botched apology. Now that he understood the reason behind Yoongi’s hostility, he thought carefully handling the other would help, but it had only made things worse.

Combine that with his strange curiosity about the elder and it was clear that Hoseok needed to do something remarkably different, something worthy of Yoongi’s hardened personality. He couldn't take back his fumbled words and awkward actions, but he couldn't just come out and corner Yoongi again. He needed to appeal to the other’s sense of self….

An idea begins to take shape, and by the time Hoseok reaches Taehyung’s rental studio, he is determined to go through with it.

——

It's three am, Yoongi’s witching hour, and once again, he’s sitting in the middle of his living room frowning at a bottle of soju. It's unopened— Jimin would be proud— but he still wants to feel it in his hands, know that it's there just in case.

His phone chimes, lighting up the room momentarily and Yoongi crawls to it, cursing when he sees Hoseok’s name. But instead of a call or text, a video file is attached and though he knows he shouldn't care, he does. He tells himself it's because of Jimin’s encouragement to balance his life or some shit that he opens the file, uncertain what to expect.

The file opens after a few seconds and the screen showcases Hoseok dancing in a baggy hoodie and athletic pants, moving his body aggressively. Yoongi doesn't recognize the dance; it definitely isn't the one he had been practicing along with their track. He stops the video and turns on the phone’s sound before pressing play once more. A low, rumbling beat blares through the speakers, taking Yoongi’s breath away.

How the fuck did he find this song?

Before Yoongi decided to pursue music production, he had been an underground rapper, living off dreams and meager money made from various delivery jobs. In that small span of time, he had made some connections who let him record a of couple tracks that he figured would never see the light of day. Only a handful of people still had copies, one of them being Namjoon.

Cursing, Yoongi reminds himself to breathe, taking in both Hoseok’s dancing and the lyrics he hadn't heard in many long years. The dancer moves so intently to each verse that falls from Yoongi’s mouth, punctuating the story the elder tried so desperately to convey in rhyme and melody.

Yoongi remembers recording this song, the way he felt, taking himself apart so intricately, cutting open old, festering wounds. He promised himself he would never do that again, which is why the song was titled “The Last”.

On screen, Hoseok dances with burning passion, throwing himself into the music with such emotion that Yoongi can feel it all over again, as if he was still in that tiny booth with tears streaming down his face, spitting out his pain. The song comes to a crescendo, Hoseok pushing himself further, now mouthing along with the lyrics, making Yoongi’s struggle his own. Yoongi watches mutely, eyes wide and unblinking.

When it ends, Hoseok stays on the floor, sucking in lungfuls of air before he looks at the camera and bows, prostrating himself fully on the ground. He looks up for the last few seconds, tears falling from his dark eyes. That beautiful face is weeping and it's weeping for Yoongi.

“Hyung, I had no idea,” Hoseok whispers between pants, the syllables low in his throat. “You've been through so much.” He looks hurt, confused, but most of all ashamed, not for Yoongi, but for himself. It's the first time anyone has ever commented on the raw contents of the lyrics and dared to empathize with his pain rather than mock him.

Yoongi immediately deletes the video, his own tears stinging painfully. “I'm not your hyung,” he whispers to the now black screen, but he's not convinced that he even means it.

Of all the horrible things that Hoseok could do to him, making Yoongi fall in love was by far the worst.

Chapter Text

Yoongi never responded to Hoseok's video apology verbally, but his physical presence in the studio the following morning was enough. It was enough to let Hoseok breathe again, to make him feel more himself than he has in awhile.

The two resumed work on the track but of course nothing was the same as before, even if “before” hadn't been much to begin with. But instead of awkward conversations and misunderstandings, a contemplative silence fell over their work. They only spoke when addressed directly and it only focused on the project. Hoseok would leave for lunch everyday and Yoongi would bring his little box of food and both would act as platonically as humanly possible.

By the end of the second week of their collaboration, the track was polished to the point of submission for approval and Hoseok felt confident in the dance even if it wasn't his best, even if he was barely holding onto inspiration. Since that left some free time until a higher up gave them the green light to continue on, Yoongi suggested that they take a few days off.

“Do you want to get coffee?” Hoseok counters, trying once more to lure Yoongi out of his shell. He figures that enough time has passed since everything went to shit and they could at least salvage a friendship out of this. It was the least he could do all things considered. It made sense in Hoseok's mind, even if he knew that he may still be harboring a perverse curiosity of this small man that defied every explanation. Despite his better judgement, despite the little voice in his head that begs him to leave well enough alone, he finds that he wants to understand the other more deeply, possibly to his own detriment.

Yoongi shoulders his bag and glances up at Hoseok with a blank expression. He looks more rested recently, the ashen pallor of his complexion becoming slowly replaced with a soft undertone of blushing pink. “No,” he answers coolly before walking towards the elevator. If Hoseok thought the fiery, aggressive Yoongi was terrifying, then this cold, detached man was even more unsettling. This wasn't the same terse aura as when they had just met; this Yoongi was hollow and unfeeling.

“How about something to eat? Do you like samgyeopsal?” Hoseok tries, running to catch up with the other. Yoongi turns abruptly to face him and Hoseok is certain that the man will punch him for his insistence, but he has to try.

Yoongi furrows his brow and settles his gaze on Hoseok’s attentive face. “Seok, I'm not thirsty. I'm not hungry, and we are coworkers. So… just, stop. Enjoy your days off.” He turns then and walks away, face devoid of any emotion. He looks more put together now too, with his light denim jeans and plaid shirt laid casually atop a white tee, but Hoseok can still sense the discord in the elder and it bothers him.

Anxious, Hoseok blurts out the first thing that comes to his mind. “Do you like art?”

Yoongi pauses next to the elevator. He glances back with a cocked head and narrowed eyes. “What?”

“Art,” Hoseok reiterates, stepping towards the elder. He grips his bag tightly, feeling the knuckles whiten as his heart rate steadily begins to climb. “Like oil paintings and stuff. Do you like them?”

“Not really, no.” Yoongi doesn't move but his expression recedes from puzzled to numb once more and Hoseok tries to laugh to break the tension.

“Well I do. I actually paint a lot,” he explains, pulling his phone out of the pocket of his joggers. He turns the screen so Yoongi can see one of his most recent pieces. It's not much, but Taehyung had nearly shit himself when he saw it, praising the beautiful blending of colors and the amount of detail in the delicate petals.

Yoongi squints at the phone, lips parting in a little “o” that makes Hoseok stare a little too intently. “Flowers?” The elder glances back to Hoseok. “I never pictured you as a… flower guy.”

The weight of the statement doesn't evade Hoseok. Yoongi probably still saw the world as black and white, feminine and masculine. Men didn't paint flowers and men didn't like other men. What a strange, stilted world that must be, he thinks.

Tucking his phone back into his pocket, Hoseok has the sudden desire to enlighten Yoongi even though he knows exactly how this will turn out. He can feel his gut twisting in anxiety but he ignores it, tells himself that he’s just being nice, trying to be a good coworker, but the thought of Yoongi alone with him outside of work is less than innocent.

It's getting dangerous, this feeling of wanting more but he can't seem to let the strange tension between them go. He feels like an addict, the same way Yoongi probably feels every time he drinks— unsteady and self-loathing but unable to stop.

“Are you free tonight?”

Yoongi purses his lips and shakes away a thought. “I was going to see someone but—”

Hoseok doesn't give him time to finish, grabbing Yoongi’s hand and leading him away without a second thought. The elder protests verbally behind him, but Hoseok notices that Yoongi doesn't physically resist in the slightest.

——

“I don't know why I'm here,” Yoongi admits, standing in the doorway of some kind of art studio. Hoseok is still walking through the space, flicking on the florescent lights overhead. The younger’s laughter bounces off the concrete walls, taunting Yoongi’s growing sense of paranoia.

When everything is finally illuminated, Yoongi forces himself to move, gliding through the entryway with careful steps. He comes to a stop near Hoseok, uncertain of where he should look. He lets his eyes wander over the walls, tables, and floor, taking in the sight of numerous paintings all bursting with color and expression.

Of course he's seen art before, but he’s never seen the artist of those pieces, never knew of the personal connection. In much the same way rap takes on a new life once you knew the struggle behind it, the paintings before him tug at his heart.

“They're nice,” Yoongi offers, shifting awkwardly on his feet and looking to Hoseok for an explanation for dragging him all the way over here. It had been a weird bus ride which they had endured at a safe distance— Hoseok near the back and Yoongi in a window seat near the front. He's no longer seething towards the younger after several successful days of work, but he still feels on edge, like Hoseok is just waiting for his chance to tear him apart.

Hoseok’s face seems to fall momentarily before he's smiling again, moving further into the room. He begins to point out the earlier paintings in his artistic journey, comparing them to his most recent ventures.

“….my friend Taehyung says that I'm a prodigy or something but I'm not sure.”

Yoongi barely registers the end of Hoseok’s statement, having caught sight of a familiar backdrop hung on the wall with a camera on a tripod placed in front of it. His mouth forms a question on its own accord. “Is this where you…” he trails off, catching himself. He can feel Hoseok step up behind him.

“Uh, yeah, that's where I filmed the dance,” Hoseok confesses, clearing his throat. “Its a… powerful song. I was inspired by it and I had no idea that you went through all of that. I mean, Namjoon-hyung said you had it rough but I never would've been rude if I had known—”

“Stop,” Yoongi whispers weakly, staring at the blank space where Hoseok had once danced so passionately to Yoongi’s pain. He can't look away, in awe of the depth of creativity that Hoseok seemingly possesses, realizing for the first time just how much he himself has lacked in that area of life since the dreams started. He also realizes that he’s been sober for the last five days and completely dreamless.

How was that possible?

Why does he feel so…. so…

“Are you from Seoul?” Yoongi blurts out suddenly, voice raspy. He can feel Hoseok's eyes on him, and he wants nothing more than to end this illusion of a friendship and go home where he can deal with his wayward thoughts the only way he knows how— internalizing them into self-loathing.

Pacing back towards the other wall where several abstract pieces hang, Hoseok shoves his hands into his pockets. “Gwangju,” he replies, staring at the paintings. Yoongi figures that the artwork belongs to someone else; it looks distinctly not Hoseok and he hates that he even made the observation. The younger turns to Yoongi with an impassive expression. “What about you?”

“Daegu.” Yoongi can hear the lisp of the syllables falling from his mouth, but his satoori always comes back when he thinks of home. He shrugs, feeling the need to elaborate. “I moved when I came for university. My family followed the next year.”

Hoseok smiles and Yoongi wonders what has amused the other so greatly. “What are they like?” he asks, tone considerably more relaxed. Yoongi gets the sense that Hoseok has a great family life with parents and siblings who like him just as much as everyone else seems to.

“They're like me.”

Yoongi is hardly surprised at his answer, at the unspoken fucked up he wants to add but doesn't. The more he thinks it over, the truer it seems. Just when he thinks Hoseok will miss the point entirely, the younger clamps his mouth shut and nods solemnly, eyes full of something akin to pity.

Yoongi has to turn away from the younger's imploring gaze. “Do your parents—” he stops himself, wondering just what he thinks he's doing, why he even cares. “Do your parents know?”

Hoseok’s reaction is not what Yoongi expects.

“That I live in Seoul? Yeah, they're aware.”

An abrupt, jarring laugh roars from Hoseok's mouth and Yoongi tenses up, unused to the screeching sound. He watches the other man curl in on himself, clutching his sides in amusement, and Yoongi has the strange feeling that this is who Hoseok really is— bright, vibrant, obnoxious, but so happy. Of course, he's seen glimpses of the other when they weren't at each other's throats, but not like this. Hoseok has never looked more comfortable in Yoongi's presence and it's unnerving.

Hoseok must sense the elder’s annoyance because he reigns in his laughter and clears his throat loudly while rubbing the back of his head. “But yeah, seriously, they know…. about me being gay. They've met Jungkook.”

Nodding slowly, Yoongi acknowledges the other’s statement, but can't bring himself to reply. He doesn't know what to say or if he even wants to add anything to the conversation. He does, however, fixate on that name— Jungkook— and wonder why the mention of it bothers him now compared to the last time Hoseok had brought his boyfriend up.

He decides to ignore it in favor of crawling back inside his mind and promising himself that he’ll drink an extra case of soju as punishment for the slip of psyche. Jimin will be upset, but since when did Yoongi ever care about other’s concerns for him? Since when did others truly give a fuck about him anyway?

“Yoongi, you don't have to tell anyone if you don't want to. It's not an explanation that you owe to anyone but yourself. I told my family because I knew I could trust them not to hurt me.”

Pivoting around slowly, Yoongi's eyes meet Hoseok’s, the younger holding his gaze with deep brown eyes that offer an entire world of things that Yoongi had never once considered. The man is just staring at him, standing in the middle of the studio with the harsh lighting reflecting off his slightly-tanned skin.

Disturbed, Yoongi looks away, pacing towards a few paintings lying on a long wooden table. He looks them over, fingertips trailing over the smooth surface slowly. “You really painted all of these?” he questions, trying to break the tension, trying to stop himself from thinking too hard. “How long have you been painting for?”

Hoseok hums from his place a few feet away. “Uh, let’s see… Since I met you.”

Surprised at the statement, Yoongi startles, his feet tangling up beneath him. He reaches out to steady himself but unfortunately, his fingers press into a fresh painting, covering his skin in red and purple. “Shit,” he hisses, pulling his hand away and looking over the paint now caking his long fingers and emphasizing the deep lines of his palm.

Hoseok appears behind him immediately, as quiet and fluid as a ghost. “Let me see,” he instructs, cradling Yoongi’s hand with his own and tugging it towards him for inspection.

“I'm sorry,” Yoongi mutters, glancing back at the ruined artwork. He should really leave. He doesn't know why he even agreed to come here in the first place—

A hand cups his cheek, coaxing his attention back to Hoseok. The younger’s eyes are dark, filled with something alive, burning with something that makes Yoongi’s blood run cold. He wants to move but Hoseok has him transfixed, rooted to the polished wooden floor below.

Dragging a finger through the mess of color in Yoongi's up-turned palm, Hoseok then paints a long stripe down the elder’s cheek with a teasing grin. Yoongi bristles at the contact, his eyes narrowing in annoyance.

“What the—”

“It looks better on you,” Hoseok interjects, using his thumb to smear the paint even further. He pauses then, eyes flicking to Yoongi’s mouth and lingering there. “Yoongi, I….” he trails off, moving to Yoongi’s bottom lip, ghosting over the sensitive flesh with his thumb.

Yoongi tastes paint and the salt of Hoseok’s flesh. He feels the texture of his skin, the gentle pressure on his lips.

If Hoseok is afraid that Yoongi will leave, his eyes don't betray it, lazily drifting back to Yoongi's own bewildered stare, holding the elder captive. He seems completely at ease and comfortable with the intimate contact. It's wrong, so very wrong.

Yoongi thinks back to the last person to touch him so delicately but he can't compare Jimin to Hoseok in this moment. Jimin was made to entice, to entertain and whisper sweet nothings that mean just that— nothing. But Hoseok was made to lie, to unravel Yoongi piece by piece and to bring his fragile ego to its knees. He knows better than to let this happen, but he’s been sleeping so well since Hoseok’s apology, since he stopped trying to purge the other from his mind. He’s been feeling so much better since he stopped trying to deprive himself of thoughts, of pure instinct.

But the most alarming thing was that he hadn't even realized it was happening, that he was falling so quickly with nothing to hold onto but the ghost of the man he thought he was.

“Let me, Yoongi,” Hoseok breathes, face so close that Yoongi can share his breath. Both hands are cupping Yoongi’s cheeks now, pulling him to the other but he knows he can leave at any moment, and for once, he doesn't feel trapped by his feelings. Instead, he decides to let go of the struggle, to indulge himself just this once, as easy as searching for relief at the bottom of a bottle. His dirtied palm hangs uselessly in the air while his other hand restlessly claws at his jeans, waiting for something to intervene, but nothing does.

All it takes is a slight nod of Yoongi's head and Hoseok’s mouth is on him, lips soft and pliant, coaxing Yoongi into the kiss. He tastes sweet, unique, and Yoongi breathes deeply though his nose as his eyes flutter close.

Hoseok takes the lead, sucking on Yoongi’s bottom lip slowly, agonizingly, as one hand moves to tangle in Yoongi’s hair. He gasps for air against the elder before diving back in and forcing Yoongi’s mouth open with his quickly-swelling lips. Soon, their tongues are intertwined, tasting each other deeply and Yoongi feels like he is drowning in this moment, but the lack of air only makes his blood burn even more.

Moaning softly, Yoongi lets himself be claimed, his paint-stained hand twitching, eager to grasp onto Hoseok and to pull him closer. Hoseok must sense his hesitation because he grabs Yoongi’s wrist roughly, tugging the hand to his neck and encouraging the elder to cling to him.

Yoongi complies, running his curious hands down Hoseok’s corded neck, over his strong shoulders and chest before ghosting over his torso above his tight shirt. Beautiful hues of red and purple blossom over any exposed skin, mimicking the healthy blush across Hoseok’s cheeks and his bruising lips.

Feeling himself drift away, Yoongi tries to pull back, but Hoseok’s arms are holding him tightly, groping over his thin waist and his hips. His skin cries out at the harsh treatment, but his hearts beats wilder at the thought of being craved so violently. He's never felt so beautifully out of control before. He's never wanted anything like this, never felt so high.

Picking Yoongi up abruptly, Hoseok sets him down on the table, hurriedly pushing aside canvas to lay the elder properly down before looming over him. Yoongi doesn't have time to react before Hoseok is pressing into him once more, his large hands spreading Yoongi’s legs wide so he can slot between them at the edge of the table. Once he’s positioned, the younger begins a slow, torturous grind against Yoongi, drawing out obscene sounds from the smaller man between open-mouthed kisses.

Yoongi throws his head back, cursing softly in little huffs. His eyelids are fluttering, his body trembling from the overwhelming stimulation. He manages to open his eyes when Hoseok comes up for air, breaking a rather harsh kiss. The younger hovers over him with hooded eyes, licking his lips, tasting the remnants of Yoongi there. He begins to move again, slowly, rolling his pelvis into Yoongi as he grunts under his breath and mutters things to himself that Yoongi can never forget.

He's trapped with no place to go, no way out. There's a man above him, making him feel things even the teenage version of him could only fantasize about, and yet he hesitates, regaining lucidity with several gasps. His shirt is pushed up to his chest, his jeans riding low on his hips. Hoseok is suckling at the pale skin of his stomach, still moving those goddamn hips of his.

The scene is so startling, so in contrast with the familiar, that Yoongi feels reality pulled taut, stretching dangerously until it snaps seconds later and he’s painfully aware of what he’s doing. Of who he's doing it with.

Hyperventilating, he shoves Hoseok off of him and jumps to his feet. He scrambles for his bag on the floor and and runs, never once looking back. He doesnt understand how, but he manages to stumble into his apartment sometime later, adrenaline buzzing in his veins. Leaning over the bathroom sink, he dry-heaves until his stomach clenches.

When he finally looks in the mirror, he sees remnants of Hoseok smeared all over him in various shades of red and purple, and he knows Hoseok’s artwork isn't finished, that the man has so much more left to put on his skin.

And he's scared—- so incredibly terrifed— because he knows that next time, he won't run.

Chapter Text

“You're back so soon,” Jimin purrs, smiling sweetly upon seeing Yoongi approach. The dancer reaches over to pick up his satin robe, pulling it over his slim shoulders before collecting the bills of won stuffed into the waistband of his leather shorts.

In lieu of a reply, Yoongi grabs the man roughly by the wrist and pulls him towards the alcove in the back of the club. Jimin doesn't resist, although he does apologize to various customers along the way for Yoongi’s brashness.

When the velvet curtains come into view, a large man steps in front of Yoongi with a murderous gaze, bowing out his chest. “I paid for him,” the man growls, pointing towards Jimin. “Wait for your turn, asshole.”

Yoongi narrows his eyes and tongues the inside of his cheek, eyeing the greasy stranger. “What did you just call me?”

Trying his best to mediate, Jimin puts himself between the two men and turns on the charm. “I'll be right with you,” he assures, skimming a ringed hand down the large man’s chest. “First, let me talk to him for just a moment. I'll make the wait worth it.” He winks for effect, eliciting a perverted grin from the customer.

Annoyed, Yoongi pulls out his wallet and empties it, slapping a wad of won against the man’s chest. “There’s your refund, now fuck off.”

Jimin lets out an affronted gasp, but Yoongi is already pulling him forward aggressively. He pushes the dancer into the alcove and onto the couch, watching as his barely-concealed back hits the cushions with a soft puff of air. Before the other has time to register what is happening, Yoongi is on him, pinning him to the couch as his lips coax Jimin into a sloppy kiss.

Yoongi doesn't really know how he got to this point, but he does know that Jimin has been his only outlet for release recently. Before, he had mental complications that contemplative talks could soothe, but tonight he was physically frustrated, yearning for something besides soju to take the edge off. It's only been hours since his encounter with Hoseok, and Yoongi feels like he's drowning in his thoughts, pulled by a tide of fear so strong that he won't ever resurface. But here he is, treading water and reaching out for the one thing he has dared to hold onto for the last few weeks.

Yoongi shifts his body, straddling Jimin while trapping the pliable dancer beneath him. Grunting, he bites those plush, pillowy lips between his teeth before licking into the other’s mouth, consuming him once more. It's angry and intense, all teeth and tongue and spit, but it makes him burn, stokes the fire that Hoseok had set ablaze.

Jimin’s keens are high-pitched, mingling with the low moans rumbling deep in Yoongi’s chest. The dancer lifts his hips, seeking out Yoongi, while his hands linger between their bodies, skimming underneath Yoongi’s shirt to grope at his flesh. His fingers find the waistband of the elder’s jeans and he deftly unbuttons them, pulling down the zipper between labored pants.

Yoongi freezes above him, disconnecting their mouths with a gasp. He stares down at Jimin in shock, finally realizing just how far he had taken his grief. He has just wanted to get lost in the feeling, in Jimin, just as he had so many times before, but it seemed the dancer craved more than Yoongi's simple conquest.

Licking his lips, Jimin watches the elder intently before letting out a small wistful chuckle. “Who is he?” he asks softly, fingertips caressing Yoongi’s cheek.

“What?”

Jimin pulls his hand away with a frown. “The man that made you feel this way,” he clarifies with wide, inquisitive eyes. “You came here to finish something that was started but you realized that I'm not him.”

Pushing off the couch, Yoongi tries to stand on shaky feet, running both hands through his hair. “That's not what this is.”

“Oh? Do you normally try to fuck in the back of the strip club after one deep conversation with a stripper?”

Yoongi grits his teeth. “We weren't going to fuck,” he grinds out, adjusting his clothes. He turns back to Jimin with a blank face. “And there is no one else.”

Nodding, Jimin props himself up on the couch, toned body still on full display. His shorts have grown painfully tight over his groin and his lips are swollen, glistening with the memory of Yoongi. He sighs deeply before sitting up and cinching his robe shut.

“Remember what I said about inner turmoil, my Suga? Lying to yourself won't solve anything,” the dancer chides, but his face remains soft. He pats the spot next to him in invitation just as he always does.

Yoongi shakes his head. “It's not like that… I didn't come here to…. I can't…” he rambles, growing increasingly more frustrated. “I-”

“Do you want me, Suga?” Jimin questions, voice low. His smokey eyes gleam with anticipation as he swings his legs slightly in front of him. “When you dream, do you dream of me? Do you imagine me on top of you, begging for you?”

Frozen, Yoongi remains speechless, staring at the dancer he had trapped in a passionate embrace mere minutes ago. It had been nice to release some of his physical tension, but try as he might, this encounter didn't feel the same as it did with Hoseok. It did nothing to curb the swell of sheer desire he felt as Hoseok had looked at him with hooded eyes, leaning into Yoongi with such ease.

Finally, he snaps back to reality just as Jimin looks away in defeat. “If I'm…” Yoongi trails off, struggling with the concept, “If I'm gay, it shouldn't matter who the guy is as long as I get off, right? That's all it is— lust.”

Jimin’s abrupt laughter was not the reaction he was hoping to get in return for his sincere question. The dancer curls in on himself, stifling his amusement with the back of his hand. “That's not how it works,” he clarifies between giggles. He catches his breath and continues. “Love between men works the same as love between men and women. If you're in love with someone, you won't want to be with anyone else. You may feel a strong attraction to others physically, but nothing will fulfill you like he would.”

“But I don't love him!” Yoongi shouts, overpowering the end of Jimin’s statement. “I don't want him! He's…. such a condescending asshole and everything comes so easily to him. Everyone loves him and he makes me feel so…. small.”

Rising to his feet, Jimin approaches Yoongi slowly, and when he deems it safe, he pulls the elder into a soft embrace. Yoongi tenses up, unsure of how to react, but slowly he relaxes, letting the other hold him.

“Suga, love will always make you feel small, confused, and frustrated at first,” the dancer explains into the crook of Yoongi’s neck with hot puffs of air, “because it's the first time you're realizing that you don't have control, that you'll never have complete control and it's terrifying, but it's also beautiful.”

Yoongi lets his hands rest on Jimin’s back, still caught up in the hug. “But I'm not in love with him. I'm not….. this.” He pulls away to gesture between their bodies. “This is just a phase. I'm just confused.”

Stepping back, Jimin smiles sheepishly. “So figure it out,” he suggests, hand reaching out to caress Yoongi’s and intertwine their fingers together. “You'll never know until you confront it. If you do, you'll learn the truth either way.”

“Thanks,” Yoongi awkwardly replies, staring down at their hands. “I'm sorry about earlier, I was just so…”

“Horny?” Jimin teases, quirking his brow in amusement. His lips still glisten in the light and several red marks stand out against the supple skin of his neck. He leans into Yoongi's neck and whispers hotly against his ear. “Believe me, I would've let you have me any way you wanted, if you wanted.”

Yoongi can feel himself flushing red, but he carefully shakes the dancer off and moves toward the curtain. Before his exit, he pauses, looking over his shoulder. “Have you ever been in love? Was it really something you couldn't control?”

Sighing heavily, Jimin seems to force himself to smile. “I'll let you know as soon as I figure that out. Goodnight, my Suga.”

“Goodnight.”

Yoongi leaves with a small bow, striding into the lounge once more. The large man that had confronted him earlier is gone, but now a familiar face watches him approach the exit, poised by the bar.

“Looks like someone had a good time,” the dancer who called himself “Kookie” purrs, watching with predatory eyes. Yoongi tries to ignore him, but the man reaches out to stop him, face now curious even as the strobing lights of the club bounce across his features. “Hold on, you've got paint or something smeared on the back of your neck.” He tries to wipe the substance away but Yoongi shrugs him off and curses the half-assed shower he had taken earlier after being with Hoseok. Kookie seems perplexed, staring Yoongi down with enough intensity to visibly disturb the elder.

The exit looms in his vision, and as he leaves, Yoongi tries not to be unnerved by the feel of Kookie’s eyes watching him so intently.

——

Hoseok wakes to the distant sound of humming and he groans loudly as he sits up from his odd position on the futon.

Across the studio, he notices the form of Taehyung hovering above a table, looking over the various paintings thrown on the ground around it.

“Tae?” Hoseok stumbles to his feet and pads over to the younger, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he clutches a blanket to his chest.

Taehyung laughs to himself, pointing towards the mess in front of him. There are several purple and red handprints all over the table’s wooden surface. “When I said you could use my studio, I meant for art, not for sex,” he teases, clucking his tongue. “But I am curious. Why would Jungkook call me to ask where you were if he was already here, violating my table with you?”

Hoseok nearly chokes on the words spilling from his mouth. “Uh, that was from a few days ago. I left it because I like to look at it.”

Arching a brow, Taehyung cocks his head. “I told him you were kinky,” he states more to himself than the other. “I warned him that the ’hot customer with the heart-shaped lips’ was probably either a serial killer or a freak, but he still wanted you.”

Hoseok can't help but laugh at the younger’s good humor, feeling the tension dissolve away. He doesn't let his eyes wander to the table though, burying the memory of how the handprints got there deep inside. “Sorry that you had to come find me. I got inspired and decided to stay the night but my phone must've died at some point.”

Shoving his hands in his pockets, Taehyung hums a tune, ambling towards the door. “It's good. I'll let Kook know,” he declares casually. “Oh, and Hoseok-hyung?”

“Yeah?”

“You're late for work.”

Taehyung holds up his phone screen for effect, displaying the late morning hour. He bellows out laughter as Hoseok immediately begins cursing and jumping around before he points towards a cabinet on the far wall. “Extra charger is in that cabinet. Have a good day and stop fucking on my furniture.”

And with that, Taehyung departs, leaving Hoseok to rush towards his phone. It's not actually dead, but it's close and after he opens Jungkook’s messages and listens to his voicemail, he texts Yoongi.

He knows the other will probably ignore him once more, especially after what had happened the night prior, but much to his surprise, Yoongi accepts his text invite and shows up at the studio door an hour later.

The elder looks on edge, paranoid, as he stands in the middle of the large room, hands shoved into his pockets. His hair is a complete mess and his outfit looks like an afterthought complete with wrinkles and large boots that are coming unlaced.

“I didn't think you would come,” Hoseok states, pulling a clean shirt over his head. He's fresh out of the shower but he still feels so…. dirty… in the elder's presence. He tenses up when he realizes that Taehyung didn't mention the handprints all over his shirt.

Yoongi laughs darkly, flashing small teeth and gums. “Then why did you invite me?”

Pursing his lips, Hoseok thinks over his answer. “I guess I hoped we could talk about what happened,” he admits with a shrug.

Yoongi’s eyes harden but he doesn't appear to be a flight risk just yet. “So talk.”

Hoseok’s eyes flicker to the table, recalling the kiss they shared, the overwhelming feeling of want flowing through him. He wasn't sure what had compelled him to just give in and kiss Yoongi, but he did remember the sensation of power he experienced when the other had looked up at him with innocence in his deep chocolate eyes.

“I got caught up in the moment,” he tries to explain, gesturing around the room. “We were talking about your song and then the artwork and I… I just got caught up. You're an artist too. You probably got carried away by the emotion too, right? Music, painting, it's all the same. It makes us feel things.”

Yoongi frowns, turning away from Hoseok to stare at the table with a sigh. “Are you going to tell your boyfriend?” he asks coolly.

Hoseok feels his stomach drop and his throat tighten. “No. Like I said, it wasn't like that. It was just misplaced emotion and I'm sorry it happened.” The lie falls off his tongue so easily, but Hoseok feels like he’s spitting acid at the way Yoongi’s face twists in pain before the elder smoothes out his expression and those feline eyes darken.

Humming, Yoongi makes a small noise of offense and walks up to the table, picking up a small painting that had survived their confrontation the day before. “Since you've got so much emotion built up inside of you, where are you going to put it now?” he queries, picking up another painting. “What's the next big project?” His voice is even, so cold, and Hoseok knows he's lost the other once more.

All because of one moment of pure greed. All because of an obsession he refused to acknowledge until it bubbled up and spilled over.

Hoseok swallows hard, crossing the room to stand a few feet behind Yoongi. He knows he should filter his answer but it comes out unbidden. “Well, I want to paint someone’s body.”

“I'm sure your boyfriend will let you paint him,” Yoongi muses, distracted. His longer fingers trace over a dry canvas with a gentleness that hasn't ever dared to grace his face.

Hoseok sucks in a deep breath before replying, knowing very well what his next words would convey. “Jungkook isn't right for this,” he confesses, eyes glued to the back of Yoongi’s head and the way his shoulders tense at the statement. A terse silence follows, and he honestly expects Yoongi to make an excuse and leave, but once again, the elder takes him by surprise.

“Paint me,” Yoongi suggests, carefully placing the painting in his hands down on the table.

“Yoongi, I—”

The elder turns around, looking up at Hoseok with a fire burning hotly in his eyes. “It's just emotion, right?” he challenges with a cock of his head. “I wouldn't want you to misplace it again.”

Hoseok knows Yoongi is taunting him, possibly baiting him, but he can't bring himself to care. If the elder didn't want Hoseok on some level, he wouldn't have come. He wouldn't have stayed. He wouldn't be looking at Hoseok with a mixture of contempt and desire swirling in those dark eyes.

His opportunity has finally come to see his art personified on the one person who draws inspiration out of him and Hoseok refuses to let it go. He tongues his cheek, eyes raking over Yoongi’s defiant posture. “Take off your shirt,” he demands hotly.

Yoongi sucks in a breath, face impassive, but he tugs on the hem of his wrinkled shirt and crosses his arms to begin pulling it over his small frame. Inch by inch it goes until Hoseok’s pure canvas is before him, and he can't find the words to speak as closes the distance between them.

Chapter Text

Yoongi’s breath quickens the moment Hoseok’s brush touches his bare back. He's lying on his stomach, sprawled out on a tarp with his chin resting on his forearms.

“You doing ok?” Hoseok prompts from his side where he sits cross-legged with a palette in one hand and a brush in the other.

Yoongi makes a small noise of assurance, grimacing as Hoseok makes another long stroke, spreading the paint across his skin. It doesn't feel bad, just strange— cold, wet, and ticklish, making his flesh tingle with every movement. Trying to lie still, he closes his eyes and listens to Hoseok at work.

He’s still not entirely sure why he suggested this but he's not backing out now. Jimin was right; he either faced his fear and learned the certain truth about himself or he could run forever, always finding solace in the wrong places.

It had seemed like a good idea at the time, this body painting thing, but now that Hoseok had him half-dressed and prone on the floor, it reminded Yoongi of the way he had felt when they kissed: wildly out of control, small, and increasingly pliant under the younger’s gaze. He feels much the same way now, anticipating every brushstroke upon his skin.

“What does it feel like?” Hoseok asks, pausing his work to get more paint on his palette.

Yoongi makes the mistake of turning his head to the side to look at the younger. Hoseok has opted to remain shirtless, his bare skin already stained with tiny dots and splatters of paint. Looking away, he huffs in annoyance. “Tickles,” he answers, closing his eyes once more.

Laughing, Hoseok resumes painting with a few solid strokes. “Could've fooled me. You're practically falling asleep on me.”

“I'm not,” Yoongi protests, but he does find himself relaxing under Hoseok’s light touch as the minutes pass. He begins to count the brushstrokes, trying to figure out what shapes the younger is making but soon his mind settles down. The earlier tension had ebbed away and now a strange sense of complacency has taken its place. It's the same feeling Yoongi often had at night now when he tried to sleep, anxious about the dreams, only to think of Hoseok and fall into a peaceful slumber….

Yoongi wakes to Hoseok’s voice coaxing him from his nap with the smell of food in the air.

“Hey, you fell asleep, so I finished the piece. Also, I ordered Thai takeout. I hope you don't mind.”

Yoongi grumbles as he wakes, pushing himself up off the tarp. He can feel the paint on his back, covering his right shoulder entirely. It's no longer wet or sticky but it's still flexible enough for him to move.

“Want to see?” Hoseok inquires, offering a small hand mirror while pointing to a larger mirror on the wall.

Positioning himself for the best angle, Yoongi lifts the small mirror to look over his shoulder at his reflection. What he sees stuns him.

Across his shoulder blade, Hoseok has painted a blooming yellow rose tinted with vibrant orange on the tips of its petals. The flower isn't without its flaws, however, as some of the petals are discolored towards the base, giving them the appearance of withering away slowly.

Coming up behind Yoongi, Hoseok stares intently at his work. “What do you think? I drew inspiration from your song,” he admits, rubbing his neck sheepishly. “There’s this line: ’If my misfortune is your happiness, I'll happily stay unfortunate’. I think it kind of personifies a rose wilting away because it knows it either faces death or someone coming to cut it away from the bush. Either way, it's bad, but if it wilts, at least it made its own choice.”

Yoongi stands stupefied at the younger’s words, eyes still locked on the artwork on his back. He suddenly feels lightweight, as if all the air has been pulled from his body. Hot tears sting the corners of his eyes, burning, and Yoongi tries not to care that Hoseok has seen through him so clearly.

That this stranger has just described the way Yoongi has felt most of his life, like a flower born to bloom amongst the asphalt, trying desperately to maintain some form of control even if it meant cutting off his source of happiness in the process. It's the exact feeling he had tried to convey all those years ago, in that verse, and now Hoseok had brought it to life once more, just as he had done previously through dance.

It's then that Yoongi realizes the weight of Hoseok’s understanding. Despite their short acquaintance and tumultuous work life, the younger has been the only person to challenge Yoongi, call him out on his bullshit, and treat him like a human being. Before, he had considered Hoseok’s actions condescending, mocking, but every action has been calculated, taking Yoongi’s personality into thought. He didn't treat Yoongi like everyone else because he wasn't like everyone else. In fact, Hoseok had been the only person who hadn't demanded Yoongi figure out who he was or what he was feeling. Even Jimin had pressed him to balance his life but Hoseok just simply let him exist.

“You don't like it,” Hoseok observes, pouting slightly. He's trying to remain unaffected but Yoongi knows better. He thinks he sees everything much more clearly now.

Clearing his throat, Yoongi hands the mirror back. “It's…. good,” he manages, walking toward the takeout food set up on a nearby table. He busies himself with opening his chopsticks and the various containers to keep from focusing too intently on Hoseok’s reaction.

The younger hums in agreement, coming to collect his food as well. The two sit in silence, both bare-chested and looking at anything but each other. The sun has set outside and Hoseok texts on his phone before laying it aside with a sigh. Yoongi wants to ask if Jungkook is on the receiving end of one of those texts but he finds that he doesn't want to know.

After the food is cleaned up, Hoseok takes another good look at Yoongi’s rose. “I really like how it turned out,” he declares wistfully. “I would love to add another piece, maybe on the spine.”

Breath hitching, Yoongi feels like his control is slipping, like he’s becoming too complacent with Hoseok's presence where he once used to feel so cornered. He had run away the previous night for that very reason, but this was different. Hoseok was treading carefully, letting Yoongi decide for himself just how far he wanted to fall and how deeply.

“Ok.”

Hoseok sucks in a breath of disbelief. “Really? You would let me do another one on you?”

In lieu of an answer, Yoongi makes his way back to the tarp and lies down, getting comfortable. A few minutes later, Hoseok kneels down at his side and begins to prepare his palette.

“Um, is it alright if I straddle your legs this time?” he questions softly, unscrewing the cap on a paint tube. “Leaning over your back from this angle hurts after awhile.”

Yoongi nods, squeezing his eyes shut while the other moves. He knows exactly where this is leading and for once it doesn't cause him grief. Instead, he finds himself eager for Hoseok’s touch, unwilling to let his mind get in the way anymore.

——-

Hoseok is surprised by Yoongi’s compliant nature and soft words. He had been so certain that the elder would've left by now, but instead, he’s between Hoseok’s thighs, waiting for his brush.

Before he starts on the second piece, he takes a minute to admire the first rose stark against Yoongi’s creamy skin. He had never done so well before, but the elder’s presence is doing something to him, drawing out time and filling it with soft breathing and shy glances. Long lashes and blushing cheeks.

This Yoongi is docile, accepting, and Hoseok wonders of this is who Yoongi really is when he isn't filled with self-hatred; when he accepts life as a tangled and complicated existence that doesn't need to be explained or understood. Suddenly he’s curious to know if Yoongi has finally come to terms with his sexuality. He moves his brush slowly as he starts the conversation.

“Was yesterday your first kiss… with a man?”

Yoongi tenses up slightly, but then relaxes. “Yes,” he answers, barely a whisper against the tarp.

Hoseok paints another stripe, this one a deep wine red. “What did it feel like?”

The muscles in Yoongi's back contract. “It… You… tasted sweet,” the elder admits, sighing into the floor. A few heartbeats pass before he speaks again, voice laden with embarrassment. “I've never wanted anything more in my life and that scares me.”

Dumbfounded, Hoseok’s brush hovers above the skin, paint pooling at the tip. He quickly regains his composure, determined to make the most of Yoongi’s amiable mood. “Me too,” he confesses, swallowing hard. “What I said earlier about kissing you—”

“It was bullshit, wasn't it?” Yoongi interjects with a slight teasing lilt to his words. “You wanted to kiss me, but why? Why me?” The elder turns his head, looking over to Hoseok with hooded eyes.

The brush returns to Yoongi’s skin while Hoseok tries to wrap his mind around what's happening. He could be vague and spare himself the shame of admitting just how interested he is in the other, but Yoongi's current temperament spurs him on. “I've never met anyone like you,” he admits. “You're the opposite of me: uncertain, unhappy, innocent. I guess you make me curious.”

“Innocent?” Yoongi scoffs.

Hoseok hesitates to answer, but he knows he must continue if he is to ever have Yoongi understand what he sees in him. “I know you've been questioning your sexuality,” he confesses, switching colors on his brush. “At first, I left you alone because that's your business, but once I saw how much you were rejecting yourself, it made me want to undo you, take you apart and show you that there’s nothing to fear. That if you let go, something beautiful will come out of your pain.”

Yoongi remains silent for a few minutes and Hoseok thinks the other has fallen asleep, but then Yoongi abruptly turns onto his back, slim hips now bracketed by Hoseok’s thighs. He stares up at Hoseok, dark eyes searching for something. His skin is flushed, lips parted, while his chest rises in a steady rhythm.

The paintbrush is poised above skin, ready to continue its work, but Hoseok finds that he's suddenly in far too deep. Now, the man beneath him has become the artist, coloring Hoseok’s world in vivid shades of passion. His trembling hand lets go, brush clattering to the floor, splattering paint.

“Yoongi, I want you,” he whispers, voice low.

The elder stares back at him with a peculiar expression. “I already agreed to let you paint me.”

“No,” Hoseok rasps, shaking. “Yoongi, I want you.”

It takes a minute for the shock to register across Yoongi’s face, but once it does, it's quickly replaced by a shyness that Hoseok considers the sweetest thing he's ever laid eyes on.

“Yoongi, I know you don't trust me, but I want more than just your body,” Hoseok explains, forcing the words out of his chest as his heart beats quicker and he becomes breathless. “You… you're so beautiful. You fight for everything in your life and you're still here. Even if you don't think that you have a reason to, you still chose to stay and I've never had that. I've never had to fight and I feel so cheap compared to you.” He lets the words linger between them as he struggles to stay confident in his decision to confess to the elder.

“You don't want this,” Yoongi replies dryly, lips smirking with amusement. He looks so jaded, so used to degrading himself with harsh words and snide remarks. “You just pity me.”

Hoseok shakes his head, swallowing down the lump forming in his throat. “No, no… I pity myself because of you. Because I realize just how much I've clung to safety, how much I'm scared to risk just because I want the ’perfect’ life. But it feels… empty. No matter what I do, it feels empty.”

Yoongi lets out a laugh, flashing his small teeth. His eyes scrunch up and Hoseok can't look away. “And you don't think that I'll make you feel empty? I have nothing, Seok. I am nothing. If you want to have some fun, then have some fun, but don't look at me like I'm some kind of solution for your problems.”

“I never said that I wanted to solve them.”

Cocking an eyebrow, Yoongi stares up at him curiously. “Then what the fuck do you want with me?”

Hoseok breathes in deeply, shifting his weight on top of the other. He feels stupid for admitting his vulnerability, but hasn't Yoongi done that much for him just by agreeing to stay, by whispering softly and not pushing Hoseok away?

“I want everyone to stop depending on me to make them happy,” he spits out. “Everyone expects me to be this positive guy who never says no, never feels the pressure, never dares to be anything but good. Maybe I don't want that. Maybe I'm tired of pretending to be what I'm not.”

Yoongi is silent beneath him, lips pursed and eyes narrowed. His hands come up to rest on the thighs bracketing his hips and Hoseok revels in the feel of those long fingers even though the denim of his jeans.

“You see my problems, don't you?” Hoseok questions, leaning over the elder until their faces are merely inches apart. “You saw through my bullshit from day one and I've never felt more free because of it.”

Opening his lips, Yoongi lets out what seems to be a noise of affirmation, soft and slow. His chest is rising and falling faster now and his eyes find Hoseok’s mouth and linger there. “I'm not good for you,” he whispers. “I hate myself and I'm just going to drag you down with me.”

Hoseok leans in closer, arms on either side of Yoongi’s head, his fingers barely brushing the halo of black hair falling off the elder. “Maybe I don't want to come back up,” he pauses, leaning down into the crook of Yoongi's neck before continuing, “and maybe it's me who wants to drag you down.” He pulls back to see the effect his statement has had on the other.

Yoongi looks gorgeous, staring up at Hoseok with his pale skin glinting with a light sheen of sweat. The elder licks his cherry-red doll lips and brings a hand to rest on the button of Hoseok’s jeans, hovering over the metal. “I've never…” he trails off, looking away out of embarrassment. He closes his eyes and breathes through his nose before continuing. “I've never had sex with a man… or woman.”

Hoseok thinks he has heard wrong, but soon Yoongi’s face flushes crimson and the elder huffs, agitated. “But how?” he asks, not too elegantly. How did this man survive this world without anyone wanting to taint him so greedily?

Shrugging, Yoongi pulls his hand away. “I've done stuff, just not that,” he confesses before arching a brow. “Don't fucking judge me.”

“No, I'm not— I would never judge you,” Hoseok blurts, feeling his pulse flutter to life. “I just…. that's a lot of pressure on me.”

Yoongi snorts, a hint of his fiery personality flaring up. “I thought you wanted to ’take me apart’,” he quips.

Running his hand roughly through his hair, Hoseok lets out a shuddering breath. “I do, Yoongi…. fuck I really want to.”

The air becomes thick with tension as Yoongi’s smile melts away at those words. He brings his hand back to Hoseok’s jeans before he quickly moves it away, unbuttoning his own instead. He lays the zipper open, displaying his grey boxers and a strip of tantalizing pale skin covered with a line of fine black hair descending further down. “Take me apart, Seok,” he challenges.

Hoseok doesn't miss the way Yoongi shakes beneath him, quivering at the uncertainty of the situation, not knowing what depths the younger will take him to. With a gentleness born out of concern, Hoseok brings his hands to the elder’s soft cheeks, stopping the tears before they fall.

“Let’s go down and never come back up.”

Chapter Text

There’s paint smeared between them, on them, and all over the floor, but neither man cares.

Hoseok is consuming Yoongi with urgency, his mouth insistent against the other. This kiss is different than the last, full of heat and lust, need and want. Yoongi has never felt this out of control before, not even in the potent, twisted dreams that had started this whole thing. Not even in any waking fantasy he might've entertained about his coworker.

Hoseok kisses like he dances, smooth but bold, drawing out the fervor of emotion before bringing it all back down to a simmering slow exchange. He gives and takes, biting Yoongi’s lips before licking them obscenely, dragging his tongue along the swollen flesh enticingly. Yoongi doesn't mind following the other in this passionate dance; right now he feels the most free he’s ever been, pinned beneath the other, desperate for release.

His hands are wound in Hoseok’s hair, dark like his own, but longer with a slight curl to it. He tugs experimentally and the younger sighs against his mouth, breathless as their kiss breaks.

Moving his lips down Yoongi’s jaw, Hoseok begins to grind in between Yoongi’s legs, increasing the friction between their jeans. Yoongi can't quite feel much underneath the heavy denim but he can enjoy the pressure and the warmth of their bodies moving in tandem. He tips his head back, letting the younger have access to his throat where he begins to suckle the sensitive skin.

“Yoongi, you have no idea what I've wanted to do to you,” Hoseok whispers directly into his ear, letting his hot breath rile Yoongi up further. “You're so small and delicate but I bet you could kill me if you wanted to.” He laughs softly, now trailing biting kisses along Yoongi’s neck.

The elder squirms beneath the attention but he manages a chuckle. “I wanted to at one point,” he teases, eyes falling shut as Hoseok sucks harshly on the underside of his chin. He sucks in a breath through grit teeth, hissing. “Do you…. do you like that I'm an asshole or something?”

Humming against Yoongi’s throat, Hoseok hesitates. “I like that you're letting me take the lead, but we both know you're the one who makes the rules,” he admits, bringing his head up to look Yoongi in the eye. The elder stares back at him, at those heart-shaped lips gleaming with saliva.

“Your boyfriend doesn't give you that?” Yoongi would be embarrassed by his blunt question if he wasn't so damn curious about the answer. From what he knew about Hoseok's boyfriend, the kid seemed decent enough, so why was Hoseok here, drinking in Yoongi like he was water after a long drought?

Hoseok stiffens at the question. “Jungkook…” he trails off, resting his forehead on Yoongi’s chest in defeat. “Jungkook could have anyone he wants, but he chose me because I'm safe. Because he knows I mean security, rent, and the option to do what he does for fun without the pressure, without the desperation.” He brings his gaze back to Yoongi. “He's one of those people that depends on me to do the right thing all the time. To be the good guy so he doesn't have to be.”

“You don't seem so safe,” Yoongi whispers, brushing a fingertip against Hoseok’s lips as the younger partially lays on his chest. “I never know if you're telling the truth or just saying what I want to hear.”

Pulling back, Hoseok stares down at Yoongi in disbelief. He swallows hard before replying. “I do that a lot— lie — when it's convenient for me. When I feel like I'm slipping away from what everyone expects me to be.”

“And me?” Yoongi questions, becoming anxious at the casual mention of the other facet of Hoseok’s increasingly complex personality. “How am I any different?”

“You? Well, I lie to Jungkook to get him to stay and I've been lying to you to keep you away because I know that once I have you, I'm not going to give you up.” Hoseok punctuates his statement with a hard gaze and lips pressed tightly together.

Yoongi shifts around, pulling his hips against Hoseok, seeking out more pressure. He's unsure if he can completely trust this man or even trust himself in this heated moment, but at least now he finally understands who he is and what he wants. The realization brings a sense of relief but he's also terrified of change, of accepting this new part of him. But somehow, Hoseok makes it better; somehow, seeing the other watching him so intensely, hanging on his every word, makes him feel that much more in control.

“Stop talking,” Yoongi demands, groaning when Hoseok visibly bristles at his harsh tone. He tugs on the waistband of the younger’s jeans, letting his eyes linger on the obvious bulge there.

Hoseok crawls back over Yoongi, trapping his head between strong, toned arms. “Tell me what to do,” he pleads, eyes dropping to Yoongi’s paint-covered chest. “Tell me how you want me.”

Sucking in a deep breath, Yoongi squeezes his eyes shut against the sudden arousal coursing through his veins. When he opens them again, Hoseok is waiting patiently for instruction. “You're the artist. Give me what I need, not what I want.” It takes every fiber of Yoongi's being to let go like this, but he wants to trust Hoseok, wants to trust himself with this new experience.

Spreading Yoongi’s legs, Hoseok slots himself between them and begins to move torturously slow, just like he had when they had kissed the first time. He grinds down, rolling his hips and encouraging the other to do the same on the upstroke. “We’ll take it slow,” he explains, panting out measured breaths. “I don't want to ruin this for you by just jumping into it.”

Biting his lip, Yoongi nods in agreement, thankful that Hoseok can sense his growing anxiety. He wants the younger in so many new ways, but he's beginning to like the feeling of being Hoseok’s work-in-progress; of being his little secret, the only other person to understand him. Yoongi has never had that before: someone that appreciates him so fervently.

“How slow?” he questions, if only to delight in Hoseok’s response. “You scared that you'll break me? I'm not a fucking doll.”

Pouting, Hoseok leans in dangerously close and bites Yoongi’s neck, softly at first, a gentle nip that quickly turns into a dragging of teeth that has Yoongi seizing up and uttering noises that sound inhuman to his own ears. He flushes, embarrassed at his moans and the way such a simple gesture has him nearly climaxing in his jeans.

“You going to play nice now?” Hoseok teases against his skin, voice dropping to a low timbre that rivals even Yoongi’s rasp after a cigarette or two.

Yoongi feels small again, but he likes how Hoseok doesn't make it seem like a disadvantage. “Never,” he drawls as Hoseok begins to kiss down his stomach, stopping every so often to suckle the skin not coated in paint before pulling back and blowing on it, nice and cool. He shudders at the sensation just as Hoseok looks up at him, dragging his bottom lip across Yoongi's abused flesh as he whispers things into the skin.

Yoongi winds a hand into Hoseok’s hair and tugs harshly, causing the younger to grimace in pain even as he laughs under his breath. “I can't hear you.”

Grinning, Hoseok bites his lip and cocks his head. “I said, I bet you like it rough, huh?”

Yoongi flushes at the question, feeling his skin burn hot. He doesn't know what he likes, of course, but seeing the sinful look in Hoseok's eyes has him primed to agree to just about anything.

——-

Yoongi is a mess beneath him, whining every time Hoseok grinds their pelvises together. He wants to go faster, further, but he can sense the apprehension in the other. So for now he'll take what he can get, which is Yoongi’s flustered moans escaping his kiss-swollen lips.

His own groin is growing terribly stiff inside his jeans, but Hoseok ignores his desires, focused solely on his prize, waiting for permission to drive the other wild.

“More,” Yoongi gasps out, arching his back off the floor. He’s beginning to sweat more now, causing little tendrils of black hair to stick to his face in curls and waves.

Hoseok splays his palm flat on Yoongi’s stomach, pushing him down and halting their rhythm. He tugs at Yoongi’s jeans until the elder complies, lifting his hips so Hoseok can remove his jeans as well as his own.

Once they're both stripped down to nothing but boxers and paint, Hoseok starts his slow grind again as Yoongi wraps his legs loosely around the tops of Hoseok’s thighs. The friction between them is amplified deliciously, causing Yoongi to let out a shuddering groan that makes Hoseok’s pulse soar. He didn't expect the elder to be so vocal, but he loves the noises he makes, the way his chest heaves just from this contact.

Yoongi is so small, mostly long, lean legs, small thighs and a torso that is pale but slightly toned. He's rough around the edges, but also fragile in an ethereal way, his skin flushed with a rosy hue that brings out the blue veins running over his forearms and through his hands. His heavily-hooded eyes are framed with dark lashes that brush his cheeks when he squeezes his eyes shut against the pleasure, and they fan out just below his furrowed brows when he's looking up at Hoseok like it’s all he can focus on.

Hoseok has never seen anything more beautiful.

Increasing the pace, they begin to dry fuck against the tarp, Hoseok grunting under his breath while Yoongi struggles to keep himself quiet. He’s got the back of his hand over his mouth, eyes scrunched, and Hoseok lets out a slew of curses at the way Yoongi grows harder between them with every passing minute. He can feel the outline of their rigid lengths pushing and pulling against one another and it's driving him insane.

“Seok,” Yoongi huffs as his hands blindly grope for purchase on the floor, seeking stability beneath the roll of Hoseok’s hips.

“Yes?”

Yoongi curses as he begins to shake and tightens his legs around Hoseok. “Seok, fuck, I'm close.” He throws his head back against the floor and begins to writhe, now covered in a sticky layer of sweat.

Hoseok can feel the heat clinging to himself as well, but he can only focus on the way Yoongi begs for it, practically whimpering his name. He's amazed at how such a simple act has reduced the elder into a needy mess; he can only imagine what it would be like to show Yoongi real pleasure, feel their slick skin sliding together so obscenely with nothing between them but sheer want.

Sliding a hand beneath Yoongi’s lower back, Hoseok gently lifts the other’s hips off the floor, angling their pelvises together in the perfect position. Yoongi responds by pushing into Hoseok more, circling his hips until he finds the pressure he seeks. He keens when he does, eyes widening at the sound he emits, but Hoseok shushes him softly.

He’s so close, ready to be pushed over the edge but he wants Yoongi to remember this tomorrow, wants more than this heated rutting against their cotton underwear, but he knows his place and understands the delicate situation Yoongi has agreed to let himself be put into.

“Let me touch you,” Hoseok suggests, slowing his pace to stave off his release. “Shit, Yoongi, I want you to cum in my hand.”

Shaking, Yoongi fumbles pulling down his boxers, exposing his flushed length. His stomach is clenching, the tight, small muscles rippling beneath the skin. Hoseok wastes no time enclosing a hand around Yoongi, pumping in time with the rhythm of his hips. The elder is already slick, dripping, and the sight alone nearly makes Hoseok lose himself. He thinks of the enormity of this occasion, that no other man has had Yoongi this way, that Yoongi has chosen this moment to share with the younger.

He doesn't have much time to ponder the tug on his heart because Yoongi lets out a strangled cry, hiding his face behind his hand as he spurts all over Hoseok’s fingers and part way onto his stomach, white mingling with the array of colorful paint.

Frozen, Hoseok forgets how to breathe, ignoring the tightening of his own groin in favor of taking in the sight.

“Seok.”

Yoongi looks wrecked, perfectly fucked. He's gasping for air, one hand holding onto Hoseok’s bicep with white knuckles, his head thrown back.

“Seok.”

He wants to paint this picture, flesh out this moment completely. Maybe hang it on a wall so others can appreciate this god, lying on the floor, tempting the world with his easy sensuality.

“Seok!”

Hoseok snaps to attention, staring down at the younger with his messy hand hovering in mid air. “Huh?”

Laughing darkly, Yoongi peeks through his fingers. “Stop staring,” he berates, though his tone is soft. He sits up on his elbows and settles his gaze on Hoseok’s crotch. He opens his mouth to speak, but swallows down the words before reaching over and slipping his hand down into Hoseok’s boxers.

Hoseok swears that he has never felt so hard and aching before, now enclosed in burning heat of Yoongi’s long fingers.

“You don't have to—”

“Shut up,” Yoongi huffs out, moving his hand experimentally, squeezing just enough to make Hoseok close his eyes and tip his head back. The younger chokes out a heady moan, nearly falling over at the sensation. Moving to help him stay upright, Yoongi scoots closer, practically placing himself in Hoseok’s lap. “Is this good?” he questions, though his devilish smirk betrays his innocent inquisition.

Hoseok bites his lip, using his free hand to pull their faces together, seizing Yoongi’s mouth. This time the kiss is obscenely sloppy and Hoseok uses his tongue to trace every corner of Yoongi’s mouth before pulling back to suckle each lip individually.

The torture on Hoseok’s pulsing length continues, Yoongi now understanding the movements that make Hoseok shudder and the elder uses the knowledge to his advantage, bringing Hoseok closer to release once more. He runs his fingers up the underside, then thumbs the tip before dropping back down to the base to give an even-pressured stroke all the way back to the top.

“Look at me, Seok,” Yoongi demands, his gravelly voice drawing Hoseok’s attention like a moth to a flame. “Does it feel good?”

Hoseok nods, feeling his bones go limp and a heat coils deep in his torso, an insistent thing that threatens to explode at any moment. He chews at his lip, watching Yoongi’s mouth fall open as he pants, working Hoseok over, faster now. His hand twitches and before he knows it, he's sliding two slick fingers into Yoongi’s open mouth and over his textured tongue.

The elder chokes momentarily, but doesn't stop, doesn't move away. Instead, he closes his eyes and wraps his lips around the fingers and begins to suckle them, cheeks hollowing out beautifully.

With that image in the forefront of his mind, Hoseok curses and covers Yoongi’s hand and the inside of his boxers with a warmth that drips down his thighs. He grunts, legs flexing as his vision blurs momentarily. He didn't think it was possible to be so overwhelmed, so consumed by sensation, but every moment with Yoongi has been nothing but erratic.

It takes a few minutes for both men to catch their breath and the entire time Hoseok watches Yoongi intently. The elder is looking himself over, noting the paint smeared all over his torso and the floor. He pulls his boxers up and rises on shaky feet before turning around.

“Is it still there?” he questions, looking over his shoulder.

Hoseok nods. “Yeah, it looks like the paint was already dry enough so the rose survived… this.” He chuckles, gesturing at the aftermath.

Cracking a small smile, Yoongi shifts on his feet. “So…. I should probably go. I need a shower.”

Though he expected it would end like this, Hoseok can't help but feel disappointed. “There's a bathroom here,” he offers, hoping he sounds casual. Hoping he doesn't sound like he wants Yoongi to stay for more than a clean-up. But he does. He wants Yoongi to stay here, in this place where nothing exists but the two of them. “That way you don't have to take the bus like that.”

Yoongi hesitates, glancing towards the floor. “I guess I could—”

The shrill ringing of Hoseok’s phone pierces the air and Hoseok quickly digs it out of his discarded jeans, frowning at the screen. Jungkook’s best bunny-faced selfie flashes in his vision but he doesn't dare answer it.

“It's him, isn't it?” Yoongi states more than asks, bending over to retrieve the rest of his clothes off the floor.

“I'll call him back later—”

“No, take it,” Yoongi insists, pulling on his pants. He looks agitated, but unusually languid, like the very act of being with Hoseok has mellowed him out quite a bit. “You've got some lies to tell, right?” There's no bitterness to his words, just carefully placed syllables, but it still stings.

Hoseok blinks, unable to process the elder’s brashness after such a vulnerable moment. With Yoongi it was hard to tell if it was sarcasm or blunt fact falling from his lips. “No, I'll call back—”

He doesn't get to finish his statement; the sound of the front door closing shut eclipses any excuse he could ever make. And once again, Yoongi had slipped through his fingers like fine sand.

Chapter Text

“I see you've decided to grace me with your presence,” Jungkook jokes as Hoseok walks in the door of their apartment, locking the door behind him. The younger is wearing nothing but sweatpants riding low on his hips and a sleepy little grin as he lounges on the couch just a few feet away. His hair is messed up and remnants of last night’s eyeliner is still smudged under his eyes.

It's late, but Hoseok couldn't stay at the studio; not with reminders of Yoongi lying everywhere. Not with the smell of him lingering all around. Not with the empty space he left behind.

“Sorry about last night. I got caught up painting.” He shuffles into the kitchen, searching for some water. “You didn't have to wait up for me on your night off.”

Jungkook mutes the tv and leaps off the couch, stretching his long, lean frame. “It's ok. Maybe I was waiting because I need you, Seokie,” he purrs, following his boyfriend through the space and coming to stand in the kitchen doorway.

Leaning into the fridge, Hoseok inwardly curses before backing out to look at the younger. Jungkook is resting his head on the door frame, eyes blown wide. He licks his lips slowly and Hoseok can't help but follow the movement across the rosy flesh. He shuts the fridge and braces himself on the counter.

“There was this customer last night that had your lips,” Jungkook explains, stepping onto the tile slowly, balanced in the balls of his feet. “I couldn't get you out of my mind. I just kept thinking about the first time you came into the club. I had never felt so turned on by a complete stranger.”

Hoseok swallows, watching his boyfriend approach, anxiety rising in his gut. He thinks back to when they first met, the words exchanged, the way he had felt taking Jungkook back to his place just three nights later. Suddenly those days seem so lacking, so dull. Getting Jungkook had been so…. easy. Or maybe it was Jungkook that had gotten him? Maybe he had been the easy one, the one who would latch onto anything just to feel a little more secure.

“You didn't ask me what I did for a living,” he murmurs, caught up in the memory.

Jungkook pauses, cocking his head. His dark hair falls into his face. “What?”

Pushing off the counter, Hoseok grabs a cup from the cabinet and begins pouring himself a glass of water. “It took you a month to ask what I did for a living— what my passion was,” he clarifies. “And you only asked because I tipped you extra for your lap dance and you were impressed.” He shuts off the faucet.

“Seok, what are you talking about?” Jungkook sounds annoyed, taken aback.

Hoseok hesitates to turn around but he knows he has to eventually. They haven't really talked much about the strange way they came together, about the blatant disregard for Jungkook’s age or how the younger hadn't given him the time of day until he saw the flash of money. “Never mind,” he dismisses, moving through the kitchen. “I'm just really tired and rambling.” He manages to make it to the doorway before Jungkook pulls him into a hug, frowning.

“Ah, you already showered,” the younger observes, running his lips along the column of Hoseok's throat. “I was hoping we could get in together and—” he stops abruptly and Hoseok feels a finger drag along his neck. “Is this paint?” Jungkook presents his digit covered with red.

Jerking out of the hold, Hoseok shrugs. “I guess I didn't realize how messy I got, sorry.”

Jungkook stares at his finger, a peculiar expression dawning in his face. “Yeah, I guess so.”

Clutching his water, Hoseok continues further into the apartment, wanting nothing more than to fall into bed and forget the growing numbness in his chest. Showers and basic hygiene could wait until he felt less edgy and more rested. He hears Jungkook let out a protest behind him, but he thinks nothing of it as he steps into the bedroom and flicks the light on.

A little blanket-covered lump on the bed groans, shuffling around until it falls still. “Kookie, turn the lights off!” it huffs out indignantly in a slightly squeaky tone.

Jungkook rounds the corner and comes up beside Hoseok, promptly turning the light off and pulling Hoseok into the hallway. “Sorry, I forgot Jimin was still here,” he laments, closing the door with a gentle click.

Hoseok just blinks at him in shock, unsure of where to start. There was a strange man in his bed, Jungkook was half-dressed, and well, Jungkook wasn't the type to bring men into their home unannounced, even friends.

“Don't look at me like that, Seokie,” Jungkook scolds playfully. “He's been having a rough time at work with that guy he's in love with, so I brought him back to watch dramas and cuddle.”

“Cuddle?”

Hoseok can't help but note his boyfriend’s lack of clothing, the lidded eyes, and the ruffled hair. He feels something predatory inside swell up, but wasn't he just the one sneaking behind Jungkook's back?

Jungkook grins mischievously, biting his lower lip as he draws his hands around Hoseok's waist. “Jealous, Seokie? Nothing happened of course because,” he pauses dramatically, his features becoming serious, “we wanted to invite you.” He punctuates his statement with a wink and a laughter that he has to quickly stifle to avoid waking Jimin.

Forcing himself to grin, Hoseok swallows down the feeling that something isn't right. Hours ago, he was feeling so detached from his young boyfriend, but thinking of Jungkook with another man was just….

Not ok.

And seconds later, after he realizes the depth of his depravity, he thinks about what he would do if Yoongi moved on, if he was wrapped in another man’s blankets on a strange bed somewhere, if he wasn't Hoseok's to love and pleasure, if he never heard that raspy satoori crying out for him.

Jungkook is leading him towards the living room now, and Hoseok tries not let him notice just how much his blood boils at the thought.

——-

Shuffling into the studio, Yoongi is surprised to see Namjoon sitting at his desk, looking over the waveforms of the track on the computer. The man swivels in his chair theatrically as Yoongi finally manages to walk through the doorway.

“Surprise!” Namjoon exclaims with a dimpled smile on full display.

Hugging his bag to his chest, Yoongi makes his way to the table. “You're back,” he observes, trying hard not to panic. He had planned on spending the day with Hoseok, trying to stumble their way through whatever it was they now had, but their boss’ presence would certainly hinder that.

Namjoon laughs, turning back to the computer. “Well, let’s just say there was trouble in paradise,” he explains with a huff. “The groom’s family was less than hospitable, so after the ceremony and a couple of days of constant fighting, our family decided to come home.”

“Sounds chaotic.” Yoongi is staring at the table now with a harrowing realization creeping into his mind: Namjoon is back, which means that the project will progress much faster now and ultimately Hoseok will go back to choreographing, away from Yoongi. He really shouldn't give a shit, but it's far too late to turn back now.

He doesn't want Hoseok to leave but he's uncertain if he should stay.

“You ok, hyung?” Namjoon inquires, scooting his chair closer. “You look…. pale.”

“I, uh—”

The sudden movement of the door opening cuts off Yoongi’s bumbling words, revealing Hoseok carrying two coffees. His eyes immediately find Yoongi across the room and he breaks into a wide grin. “I got you something a little different because I know you like to try new things,” he teases with a wink, hovering in the door way, unable to see Namjoon at that angle.

Yoongi is frozen, mouth hanging open.

“Yoongi? You ok?”

Namjoon clears his throat. “So It's ’Yoongi’? No ’hyung’?” he questions, rolling into Hoseok's view, causing the other to jump from surprise. “Looks like you guys got over whatever problems you were having.” He arches a brow and looks between the two men.

Regaining his composure, Hoseok steps into the room. “You know me, I've never met someone who didn't become a friend, though hyung here does get irritated when I'm so informal.” He laughs awkwardly and Yoongi can feel his eye twitching from the stress of watching this ridiculous scene.

Namjoon squints, pursing his full lips. “Right…. So anyways, the was track approved. They just have a few edits and then they want Hoseok to film the final choreography for submission. Then we're done here.”

“Great,” Yoongi grits out, coming to stand in front of Namjoon. He gestures towards the screen. “I'm going to need my chair if you want the edits done.”

Nodding slowly, Namjoon agrees but not before a forced smile flashes along his tanned features. He rises out of the chair and goes to stand by Hoseok, all the while looking between the two other men pointedly.

Throughout the editing process, Yoongi tries to remain calm, but the constant whispered chatter between Hoseok and Namjoon has him on edge. He’s certain that Hoseok has given away their secret and he's not entirely sure what that means for him.

For one, Hoseok has a boyfriend and Yoongi has…. what? A reputation as a straight man who goes home to his empty apartment every night?

If he is so concerned about that, then he's already risking his “image” by going to the club to seem Jimin, so why did he care so much about his and Hoseok’s sort-of relationship coming to light?

“That sounds good,” Namjoon interjects just as Yoongi plays back the track after the final edit. “Go ahead and save that.” He turns to Hoseok with eager eyes and clasped hands. “Now, lets see the dance.”

Hoseok bristles, laughing off the tension. “Now? I mean I can just film it and send it to you.”

Waving a tanned finger, Namjoon scolds the other. “Why so shy, Seok? I've literally seen you filthily grind on the floor while practicing for that one idol group’s comeback,” he teases, already moving chairs out of the way to make a small dance floor. “This won't kill you.”

“Well, ok,” Hoseok reluctantly agrees, pulling his shirt over his head. He casts a sideways glance at Yoongi before he folds the piece of clothing and places it on the desk.

Namjoon starts the music and Hoseok comes alive, quickly contorting his body to the beat. He transforms right in front of their eyes, his usually cheerful face morphing into that of seduction and arrogance.

Standing next to Namjoon, Yoongi does his best to seem interested in the dance but his eyes keep lingering on Hoseok’s hips, on the way his muscles contract with every move. His throat becomes dry.

“Seok dances like he fucks,” Namjoon states nonchalantly, his eyes still following the dance.

Yoongi practically chokes on his spit, coughing to clear his throat. “What?”

Namjoon chuckles, deepening the dimples in his cheeks. “That's what Jungkook always says and I think I believe him.”

In front of them, Hoseok has slowed down, mirroring the sudden change in the music as one of the vocalists of the idol group belts out his high notes.

Yoongi can't help but frown at his sudden curiosity. “How long have they been together?” he asks, glancing towards the floor when Hoseok makes heated eye contact with him.

“About a year. Has he told you how they met?” Namjoon is looking at Yoongi now.

“No.”

The younger man turns his attention back to Hoseok who is finishing up the song now, giving it all that he's got. “It’s a crazy story but I’ll let him tell it to you. The kid is nineteen, though. Crazy, right?” Namjoon states just as Hoseok finishes. He claps loudly, startling Yoongi out of his thoughts, but just like a suckling black hole, he falls right back into them.

Nineteen? Hoseok’s boyfriend is nineteen? What the fuck? Nineteen is young, but he remembers nineteen. Being younger, more reckless and fiery, softer around the edges with stamina to accomplish just about anything. He knows he shouldn't care about this fact but he does; he cares suddenly too much about Hoseok’s history with his boyfriend and where he fits into things. Why Hoseok would want a grandpa like him when he’s got something young and less fucked up at home waiting for him.

He tries to ignore the uneasy bubble in his gut.

The rest of the afternoon seems to fly by as Namjoon helps the two finish their submissions before the three order takeout which an intern brings to the studio. They eat amongst scattered conversation and finally, Namjoon wishes them a good night and patters into the hallway.

Then it's just Yoongi and Hoseok, awkwardly gathering their things to leave.

Yoongi has just buckled his leather bag when he feels Hoseok’s presence close behind him. Seconds later, lips meet his neck, kissing insistently.

“Is this a bad time to point out that you have hickeys all over your neck?” the younger teases, trying to leave another mark at the junction between Yoongi's throat and shoulder.

Horrified, Yoongi slaps his hands over his skin, nearly hitting Hoseok in the process. “Fuck, I didn't notice those this morning!”

Hoseok laughs, grabbing Yoongi’s waist and turning the elder around to face him. He presses closer and pins the other against the table with his hips. “Well, I'm certain Namjoon did, but don't worry, he doesn't know who you belong to, just that you belong to someone.” He punctuates his statement with a cheeky smile but Yoongi feels his stomach turn at the younger’s choice of words.

“I don't belong to anyone,” he bites out, trying to push Hoseok away with the flat of his palm.

Resisting the elder, Hoseok shakes his head. “Ok, that was a poor choice of words,” he admits, grabbing Yoongi’s wrist gently and tugging it away from his chest. “I'm the one who belongs to you anyway.”

Yoongi stares at their hands and tries to bite back his next words but he fails. “Do you?” he challenges, looking up at Hoseok with knowing eyes.

The younger lets out an aborted laugh, running his hand through his hair. He's still holding onto Yoongi with the other though, and his grip tightens. “It's not as simple as you think,” he explains curtly. “I've got things to figure out and you've definitely have to figure things out and…” he pauses, shaking his head. “Look, now isn't the right time, but when it comes, we’ll figure out things together. I promise.”

Yoongi scoffs, wanting to mumble something about “bullshit” and excuses, but he knows Hoseok has a point. Yoongi doesn't exactly know what he expects out of this; he still hasn't adjusted to the idea of liking men completely, so why would he just jump into a relationship with one? Right now he's just curious to see where this will go….

But he can't let his burning curiosity go unanswered.

“We need to talk,” he states, pulling away and hiking his bag up onto his shoulder.

Hoseok’s face falls, but he nods anyway. “We can go to my studio.”

“Great.”

The bus ride is awkward with Hoseok ending up sitting in a seat in the back near a mom and her two kids while Yoongi stands up and clutches the the railing so an elderly woman can have his seat. They switch buses at the next stop and soon they're at the studio again, standing in the middle of the large room that held a very different atmosphere just the day before.

“So yesterday…” Hoseok begins, shoving his hands in his pockets.

“Yesterday was great,” Yoongi interjects, setting his bag down on the smooth floor. “It was…. perfect.”

Hoseok smiles at this, but the expression quickly falls. “Then why are you acting so cold? Is this about… Jungkook?”

Yoongi knows it's petty and stupid, but he has to say something. “I thought I wouldn't care, but I do.” He wrings his hands nervously, staring at the floor. Sighing heavily, he manages to look the younger in the eye. “Look, I know we've got shit to figure out and I'm definitely not ready to… be more with you, but it sucks. It sucks thinking that I'm nothing more than a piece of side-ass.”

“Side-ass?” Hoseok snickers, trying to suppress a smile.

“Fuck off, you know what I mean.”

Schooling his expression, Hoseok sighs. “I do know what you mean and you're more than that. Yoongi,” he pauses then, leveling his dark eyes on the elder with such intensity that Yoongi swears he sees flames threatening to melt the brown into molten chocolate. “I think I'm in love with you.”

Yoongi can only blink in Hoseok's direction, staring as the younger turns red and stammers over himself, trying to retract the statement. He hears the words, but he can't understand the weight seeing as how his brain refuses to process the statement.

Love?

Attraction? Sure.

Lust? Definitely.

Desire? Well, yeah.

But love?

Why did the word make Yoongi absolutely terrified when he had thought the same thing before, watching Hoseok dance to his song, making himself so vulnerable to the elder? Why did it sound so dirty now, in the dim studio, bouncing off the white plaster walls?

“Fuck, I'm too sober for this shit,” Yoongi finally replies, watching as Hoseok grows cold, furrowing his brows.

“Why do you do things like that to yourself? Why do you drink so much?”

Why do you care? Yoongi wants to ask, but of course Hoseok has already given him the answer.

Love.

Instead, he looks across the studio and focuses on the art hanging picturesquely on the wall. He swallows hard and tries to talk himself out of his next words, but his brain is intent on endangering his heart even more.

“I used to have dreams about you. About us,” Yoongi admits, shrugging, as if this was the most obvious explanation. “In some of them we would fuck, but in others… we were happy. I'd wake up and you were there and there was coffee and toast and shit.”

He chances a glance at Hoseok to find that the younger is gaping at him, completely still. He turns back to the wall.

“And after I would wake up, I would lie there and think about the Yoongi in those dreams and I would be jealous of him. Jealous because he wasn't a coward like me. He didn't care what others thought. He had you and sunshine and coffee and toast and shit, and that was ok. Even if he had nothing else, he had that. Even if his family abandoned him and his career was shit, he was ok.”

Yoongi falls silent, still staring at the wall. He expects Hoseok to say something, anything, but the other remains passive, watching Yoongi’s revelry from the sidelines.

“Seok, when I wake up, I'm afraid that somebody else will take my place,” he admits, squeezing his eyes shut against the hot water threatening to spill. “I'm afraid that out there, somebody else might end up being me, living a life I was too much of a pussy to pursue.”

Sucking in a few breaths, he manages to stave off tears, but Hoseok’s silence grows louder as the minutes pass by. He opens his eyes and looks to the other only to find that Hoseok is the one crying, crystal tears sliding down the sharp planes of his cheeks.

“Seok—”

“Yoongi,” Hoseok breathes. “Yoongi, I'm afraid too. I'm afraid that I'll never be satisfied. That no matter what I do or who I'm with, I'll always want more. I'll always be empty.”

Staring back at Hoseok, Yoongi feels the urge to comfort him. But he doesn't know what to say. He feels empty too, all the damn time, and all he knows for certain in this moment is that Hoseok fills that space sometimes and it doesn't ache as much. It feels less like bleeding out and more like a distant, dull pain. Still chronic, still life-threatening, but not as obvious.

And if Yoongi does that for Hoseok, if he's the bandaid that keeps the other from hemorrhaging, then how can he turn him away? How can he judge him for trying to keep his head above water?

“Seok,” Yoongi tries again, voice raspy and thick. He doesn't need to say much else before Hoseok is on him, pushing him into the wall and crashing their lips together.

They kiss slow and deep, drinking each other in beside their pain and the unspoken danger of their situation. But in this moment, Yoongi doesn't care. He lets Hoseok have him against the wall, legs wrapped tightly around the younger’s waist as he arches his back and winds his fingers into Hoseok’s slight curls.

He lets Hoseok stumble them into the bathroom, clawing at their clothes until Yoongi feels the press of his bare back on the cool tile of the small shower, sending shivers down his spine. The water is scalding and cascading down Hoseok's back and the contrast leaves Yoongi breathless and keening, body nude, slick, and rutting against Hoseok.

It's wet, sticky, and filthy as Hoseok drops to his knees and grips Yoongi's thighs with large hands. It's absolutely obscene when he wraps that heart-shaped mouth around Yoongi, staring up at his elder with fire raging in those dark eyes. He looks so vulgar with his hair plastered to his forehead and his cheeks hollow out to take more of Yoongi in until his sharp, sloped nose is brushing the little black thatch of hair right above Yoongi’s crotch.

Hoseok never breaks eye contact as he sucks, as he tastes the weight and length of Yoongi in his mouth, even when he moans so low and deep in his chest that Yoongi can feel every fucking vibration in his bones.

It makes the elder's thighs shake, it makes his stomach burn as it tenses repeatedly. It makes his head spin as he throws it back into the tile, gasping from breath as he grits his teeth and tries not whine like a bitch as Hoseok squeezes the base of his length with two fingers and denies Yoongi his release more than once, still suckling and licking.

By the time the water runs cold, tears are running down Yoongi’s face because it feels so good, feels like his body and mind are separated and he’s floating higher and higher as he spasms and his hips kick into Hoseok's eager mouth. His vision blurs and when it returns, all he can see is Hoseok’s blissed out face, covered in streaks of white, crouched beneath him with his thighs spread wide and his hand working himself over so desperately.

Yoongi collapses to the shower floor and tries to crawl to the other but he can't think straight, can't see straight. All he knows is that his head hits the slick tile as Hoseok grunts hotly behind him.

He tips his head back just in time to see Hoseok from a new perspective; upside down as something hot and thick splatters across Yoongi's gaping mouth, dripping across his lips and onto the floor below. In the distance, he swears he hears Hoseok’s phone ringing repeatedly. In the distance, he swears he can hear a storm brewing.

But up close, he hears Hoseok gasping for breath, all while uttering one single word over and over till Yoongi shuts his eyes and succumbs to the stifling heat of the shower and his heady orgasm.

Mine.

Chapter Text

Jimin is smiling something soft and radiant as the dancer leans back against the velvet sofa, gazing at Yoongi with hooded eyes. He's got a flute of champagne in his manicured hands, one that a customer bought him just before Yoongi showed up, but tonight the younger looks less jaded by the attention and actually happy in their little alcove.

Shifting on his end of the couch, Yoongi enjoys his bottle of water, unable to tear his eyes away from Jimin and his content visage, because he too, feels happy. He feels light even, floating along his day now that things are much clearer between Hoseok and him.

At the risk of sounding like a naive teenaged girl, he feels loved.

“Mmmm, whats going on in that beautiful mind of yours, my sweet Suga?” Jimin sips his champagne delicately, short fingers cradling the stem.

Yoongi lets out a small chuckle and sets his bottle on the floor before wiping the condensation off his palm and onto his faded black jeans. “Jimin, you don't mind that I pay you to listen to me talk every night, do you?”

At his question, the dancer lets out a snort of amusement. “Why would I? You're great company and it saves me from having to do… less desirable things,” he admits with a slight shrug of his shoulders. His gaze leaves Yoongi’s face, however, to stare down at his lap.

“Do you have to do those things often?”

Yoongi knows it's an invasive question, but he's genuinely curious how a soft-hearted person like Jimin can do such things without it taking its toll on his self-image.

Jimin smiles to himself, but it's hollow and fleeting. “Only when I want to, or when it's necessary. It's better than the streets though. Out there you can't pick and choose, so whatever opportunity comes your way, you have to take.”

The dancer falls silent for a moment, worrying the flute in his hands and his eyes seem so distant as he watches the remaining fluid slosh around inside the glass, but then he turns that cold gaze on Yoongi.

“My parents kicked me out when I was fifteen after they found me kissing a boy. After that, I hitchhiked my way to Seoul and tried to make it as a real dancer, but I lacked the training. So, after some rough times surviving on the streets, I decided to try places like this, going from club to club until I ended up here. It's much better.”

There are so many questions Yoongi wants to ask, so many loose ends dangling in front of him begging to be pulled, but Yoongi knows what it feels like to have the raw truth tugged from you against your will. It leaves a gaping wound and he's uncertain if Jimin has anyone to fill the void, so he decides to go for what seems like the lesser evil.

“So the night that the Kookie guy brought me back here, did he think I wanted to pay for a fuck?” Yoongi asks, quirking a brow.

Jimin giggles at this before letting out a wistful sigh. “Probably,” he admits sheepishly. “But most likely he knew that we would get along. He knows my type pretty well.”

Cocking his head, Yoongi feels a question bubble up in his throat, one he knows is dangerous and unnecessary, but he’s gotten used to looking at himself through other peoples eyes lately, and he's curious as to why Jimin even bothers with his strange customer who pays him for talk therapy.

“Your type?” he queries. “So, if I had been willing, we would've fucked after you literally just meeting me?”

Jimin blinks owlishly at his question before pursing his lips into a thin line. He nods solemnly, running his fingers around the rim of his glass. “That's how it works, though I've turned away several men before. I'm not so picky about private dances, because that's all they are, but that's different. I usually only agree if I'm short on money for bills or food.”

Furrowing his brow, Yoongi shakes his head in disbelief. He knew things like that took place in clubs such as this, but hearing it from the lips of the man who's shown him nothing but sincere friendship is jarring. And even though Jimin said he didn't mind being paid to listen to the elder, he can't help but feel just as dirty as the other men. Yoongi is still expecting something out of the other, a service, but if Jimin had his way, he wouldn't even be here. He'd have a home and a family that accepted him— not night shifts and an endless stream of greedy strangers.

“But that night,” Jimin pipes up, sliding his gaze to Yoongi, “that night I wouldn't have asked for money, Suga. I could see it in your face how different you were. I wanted you the moment I saw you and I still do.”

Stunned, Yoongi feels his chest become heavy, his heart begin to race. He knew Jimin was flirtatious, teasing, and he certainly hadn't helped the situation the night he practically attacked the dancer after Hoseok had gotten him riled up, but he figured it was part of the act— the entertainment in this entertainment club.

Should he say something? Jimin knows that he’s practically taken by another man, right?

“But I'm happy for you, Suga,” Jimin confesses in a near whisper. “I can tell that you've figured out things with your mystery man.” He pauses to grin wickedly. “You needed to get laid.”

Yoongi sputters at this, turning his head away, but it's impossible not to smile. He feels his face run hot, his cheeks alight with a furious blush. Lately, it's been happening a lot, and he finds that he doesn't mind. Like Jimin said before, love can make you feel weak, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you are.

And there's that word again.

Love.

Jimin giggles at Yoongi’s discomfort, setting his glass of champagne down on a small table near the armrest. He leans forward, excitement sparking in his smokey-lined eyes. “Tell me what he's like,” he begins before furrowing his brow and shaking his head wildly. “Never mind, I'll get jealous.” He smirks then, fluffing out his amethyst locks and giving Yoongi a wink.

The elder laughs, now used to the dancer’s personality, but part of him knows Jimin is beginning to feel something more for him. Perhaps it's the part of Yoongi that's soft and vulnerable, but he doesn't want Jimin to get hurt by him…..

But he's still not good at this whole socializing thing, so he sidesteps the awkward tension and gestures towards the velvet curtain.

“Do you ever think about leaving now? Maybe pursue dancing again?”

Jimin purses his lips at this in contemplation. “I really haven't thought about it much, honestly. I guess after awhile, you become so complacent with the way things are because it's safe, but sometimes that's not a good thing.”

“You should do it,” Yoongi encourages, catching sight of Jimin’s bewildered expression at the elder’s enthusiasm. “You deserve it, Jimin. You deserve everything.”

Blushing furiously, Jimin smiles, and Yoongi returns the grin, soft and gooey and completely cliché. Friendship like this is new to him; even his relationship with Namjoon has never quite reached this depth despite all the shit that they've been through.

No, these quiet whispered words in the back of the strip club filled with booming music and the smell of body oil and sex are infinitely more weighted, raw and vulnerable. Once, Yoongi would've felt uncomfortable with such intimacy, but perhaps that was a different man from a different time.

“Thanks, Suga,” Jimin chirps, still grinning like a beautiful cherub.

“Yoongi….. It's, uh, Yoongi.”

The dancer’s mouth falls open in awe but he quickly collects himself, his lips pressing together softly. “Yoongi— a perfect name for a perfect man.”

There's so much intent behind that statement, so many flaws and misunderstandings, but Yoongi never stops Jimin. He never says no to him and he doesn't think he ever will. Because Yoongi sees himself in the younger, sees a path of his life he narrowly avoided somewhere down the road, and maybe, just maybe, they will both end up exactly where they need to be.

Rising to his feet, Yoongi offers his hand to help Jimin up, and together, they pass through the velvet curtain, drunk on the future, drunk on the promise of a better tomorrow.

——-

 

When Hoseok enters the club, he sees Jungkook grinding down on a businessman with his ass in the air and legs spread wide. He decides to wait near the bar, making idle chat with girl behind it who used to serve him many drinks back when Hoseok was just a customer and not one of the boyfriends. Back then, he had been lurking around to grab Jungkook's attention, working hard to get the other all hot and bothered before the dancer would tear away from the eyes of his customers and take Hoseok into the back room for slow, filthy sex that often ended with both of them sweat-soaked and curled into each other.

But now, Jungkook is earning his money, panting as he straddles his client, biting his lips and palming himself through his tight shorts. Back when they had first gotten together, Hoseok used to get insanely jealous, but as a professional choreographer he knew the difference between performance and pleasure. There was always a stage persona and a true self and it was hard to explain, but the two rarely ever mixed.

He knows this well enough to recognize a shift in his own roles: work life was always a show and home life was the haven, the safe space, but being with Jungkook lately felt like little more than a prolonged act. He was growing weary of it, but at the same time he couldn't seem to let the familiarity go.

Finishing his lap dance, Jungkook collects his won and thanks the man before slipping his robe back on. He turns to greet another customer and Hoseok can't help but roll his eyes at the array of rhinestones that spell out “Kookie” on the back of the garment. Soon, Jungkook spots him across the room and saddles up to him, holding out his money.

“Lets go somewhere fancy tomorrow,” he suggests, folding the bills into Hoseok’s hand. “We haven’t spent much time together lately.”

Nodding, Hoseok pockets the money while trying to avoid Jungkook’s imploring gaze. “Yeah, sorry about that. Things have been crazy at work and then there's the painting…” he trails off, finally looking up to find his boyfriend pouting.

“Seok, we haven't fucked in a week,” Jungkook whispers, bringing his fingers to Hoseok's shirt and playing with the hem. “That hasn't happened since the time I got the stomach flu. Did I do something?”

Hoseok sucks in a deep breath. “No, Kook, it's just that—” he stops himself, realizing for the first time that he may not want to lose Jungkook. If anything, his boyfriend represents everything in Hoseok's life as he has always known it: predictable, safe, reasonable. There's nothing inherently wrong with Jungkook but he feels like tasting Yoongi was like taking a bite of the forbidden fruit of Eden— he is suddenly aware that there could be so much more.

“Hey, it's ok. We can talk after my shift,” Jungkook assures, looking around the room. “Let me just grab something I let Jimin borrow and…” he trails off as a smug smile creeps onto his face. He points a finger in the direction of the private alcoves. “Speak of the little devil, here he is with his daddy.”

Hoseok yawns, looking in the general direction of Jungkook’s outstretched finger. He squints as he notices a dancer leading a man out from between some curtains. The dancer is obviously Jimin; Hoseok isn't sure he has ever seen an ass like that before, and the man is—

“Yoongi?”

Jungkook hums, considering. “You know him? Oh wait, is that the Yoongi from your work?” He gasps, animatedly clutching his hands to his chest. “Jimin’s bitchy boy toy is your bitchy coworker?”

Clenching his jaw, Hoseok nods, at a loss for words.

“Wow, who knew?” Jungkook sighs, amused. “Well, just so you know, Yoongi comes almost every night. He pays for Jimin for two hours and then they disappear behind the curtains.”

“What do they do?” Hoseok knows it's a stupid question but he wants an answer. Despite the sickening feeling of betrayal bubbling in his gut, he needs to know.

Jungkook giggles, cocking his head. His glossy lips are stretched wide with an amused smile. “They fuck, of course. Have been for nearly two weeks. It must be pretty good too because even though Jimin wants more from the guy, he's always so blissed out after Yoongi leaves.”

The room spins around Hoseok, becoming terribly loud and chaotic as the club’s lights dance across his body in flashes of color and pattern. He watches numbly as Jimin pulls Yoongi along, their hands intertwined. The dancer stops and runs his fingers along the other’s face and smiles, cheeks bunching up. Yoongi smiles shyly in return. They begin speaking.

“He lied to me,” Hoseok whispers, feeling his insides begin to shake. He braces himself against the bar, fingertips gripping the smooth surface harshly.

Jungkook shrugs beside him. “Not everyone is ready to embrace their sexuality in their daytime life so they come here,” he explains. “Don't judge him too harshly. I'm sure he was going to tell you at some point. Not everyone feels as comfortable about coming out as you are.”

“He wasn't going to tell me.”

Just as the words leave Hoseok’s mouth, Yoongi looks up, nodding at something Jimin had said and his eyes sweep the room, pausing when they fall on Hoseok.

He squints for a few seconds but Hoseok can tell the exact moment Yoongi recognizes him. His eyes grow wide and his mouth falls open in shock. Noticing the other’s distress, Jimin cups Yoongi’s face sweetly, running his thumbs over the doll lips, and Hoseok feels like he’s been punched in the gut, like all the air has been forcibly taken from his lungs.

Yoongi doesn't move Jimin’s hand and it's all Hoseok can see in his suddenly narrowing vision. That hand doesn't belong there, where Hoseok once was, pulling Yoongi into what he was told was the other’s first experimental kiss.

After a few tense minutes, Yoongi steps forward but Hoseok doesn't want to hear any excuses from the other. At least Hoseok had been up front about his confusion regarding Jungkook. At least he had the guts to admit that he was greedy and lurid, but Yoongi had outright lied to him. The self-proclaimed virgin was here, in a strip club, letting a dancer touch him so casually, so intimately, and Hoseok feels like a complete idiot for not seeing it sooner. But if Yoongi could lie and manipulate, so could Hoseok. He's aware of Yoongi's approach, of the elder’s eyes on him, so he seizes the opportunity.

Pulling Jungkook to him, Hoseok tilts the younger’s head to the side and kisses him, letting Jungkook fill in all the little cracks in his quickly hardening heart. He runs his other hand over Jungkook's taught abdomen, skirting the waistband of his shorts before cupping his ass and giving it a rough squeeze.

When he finally breaks free, Yoongi is no longer in the club, and Jungkook looks dazed, slack-jawed and heavy-lidded. The dancer whispers out a breathy “fuck” before grinning obscenely.

“I have to finish my shift, but you can wait in the dressing room until I get done. Only Jimin will be back there and he needs to find that sweater I let him borrow.”

Hoseok nods his agreement, letting his boyfriend skitter off, breathing hard with an obvious bulge in his tiny shorts.

Back in the dressing room, Hoseok waits in a padded chair by one of the vanity mirrors, mindlessly reading the labels on the back of the various bottles of lotion and makeup. He tries hard not think about Yoongi, about the way his chest aches, but it proves difficult, especially when Jimin strides in with a robe in one hand and cash in the other. His bare feet barely make a sound as he pads through the space and he jumps when he notices Hoseok.

“Shit, you scared me,” he laughs, setting his stuff down on the counter of his vanity. “You're, um, Hoseok, right? Jungkook's boyfriend? I've seen you here before but we’ve never met.”

“Yeah,” Hoseok replies lamely, eyeing the other with curiosity.

Jimin is…. really attractive. He’s small, but toned and thick, with an ass that's round and pert. He has naturally-appealing looks with soft hair that is tousled just so. His eyes are sweet and slightly-droopy and then there’s his mouth, a beautiful mouth that promises sweet kisses just as much as sinful pleasures.

As much as he hates to admit it, Hoseok gets why Yoongi would want the younger man.

“You're, uh, the lump of blankets in my bed, right?”

Jimin turns his attention away from the mirror and blinks at Hoseok in confusion before realization dawns in him. “Oh, yeah! Sorry about that, I had a rough night and Jungkook is such a sweetie and let me cuddle.” He chuckles briefly, and then his face drops. “Unless, you're not ok with that, then I'm really really sorry.”

Waving a hand in dismissal, Hoseok assures the other. “No, it's fine. Jungkook doesn't have many friends, so it's nice that he feels so comfortable with you.”

Jimin grins at this, pivoting around until he can lean back against the vanity counter and look down at Hoseok. His tight abdomen and thighs are on display, framed by the same small shorts every other dancer is wearing tonight. He cocks his head and bites his lip. “I see why he loves you so much.”

For the briefest of fleeting moments, Hoseok thinks Jimin is referring to Yoongi, but the thought passes as quickly as it comes. Instead, he focuses on the dancer’s teasing lilt and the openness of his posturing. It angers him that this man can be so flippant, almost as if he’s aware that he’s taunting Hoseok.

“So you know Yoongi,” Hoseok finds himself saying, eyeing Jimin intently. “He works with me.”

Jimin purses his lips and nods. “Ah, I see. Yeah, we know each other. He's a good…. customer.”

Silence falls between them, but they don't look away from each other. Hoseok can feel himself gazing hard and Jimin just takes it, blinking as if he's uncertain where this conversation is heading.

“So, Jungkook says he comes every night and pays for you?”

Jimin quirks a brow at the odd question, but nods. “Yeah, he likes to have his private time. He has certain… needs and I help him with those.” The dancer pauses, running a and through his hair. “Um, why do you ask? Is he spending company money or something?”

“No, just curious,” Hoseok lies smoothly, turning his attention back to a bottle of lotion on the counter beside him. He fidgets with the label. “He just acts a certain way at work, so it's interesting to see him in a different light.”

Jimin makes a noise of agreement before sucking in a deep breath. “He may seem kind of rough, but he's actually a really generous man.” He swallows hard and Hoseok can't help but look back up at the dancer. “He—”

The sound of the door opening cuts Jimin off, and in comes Jungkook, robe slung easily around his arms with a huge wad of won. In the other hand he carries a pair of crumpled blacks slacks and a white button down shirt. He grins proudly and winks at Jimin.

“Wow!” The other dancer exclaims. “Kookie, did you get all of this from the main stage?”

Jungkook nods and smacks the wad of money right into Hoseok’s lap. “Yeah! The school boy act works every time.” He throws his costume into the basket by his vanity and stretches. “Well, almost every time. Seokie here doesn't like it too much. Says it makes him feel like a pedophile.”

Jimin snickers at this, eyeing Hoseok out of his peripheral as he wipes off his makeup. Hoseok has to bite back the urge to scowl like a petulant child.

“What does Yoongi like, Chim?”

Instantly, the dancer stiffens at the question, hand paused in mid-air. “Uh-”

“Come on,” Jungkook whines, coming up behind Jimin and pouting at him in the mirror. “I've told you all about Hoseok’s kinks—”

“You what?” Hoseok sputters incredulously, nearly jumping out of his chair.

“Quiet, baby,” Jungkook coos at him before laying his head on Jimin’s shoulder. “Chim, I've told you all about my boyfriend, so tell me about yours. What's that grumpy old man into? He like the school boy act or is he into you holding him down? Ooh, does he like role play and dirty talk? Does he—”

“Kookie!” Jimin exclaims suddenly, dropping his makeup wipe on the counter. “Stop with the questions! Yoongi is….” he trails off, staring at his reflection in the mirror. “Yoongi likes doing things to me that I know I shouldn't let him do, but I can't help it, ok? He’s….” Jimin doesn't finish the statement, instead just trailing off and returning to his makeup.

Jungkook looks offended at the outburst but then he breaks out into a wide, lascivious grin. “Chim, you freak! I don't even know what any of that means but it sounds so hot!” He turns to Hoseok. “Seok, your coworker is a greedy, filthy man.”

“Yeah, I know.” The words slip out of Hoseok's mouth but they fade away amongst Jungkook’s hearty laughter and Jimin’s embarrassment. He listens to them bicker a little longer until he finds himself walking out of the back exit, claiming that he wants some air.

Out in the brisk night, Hoseok punches the nearest brick wall.

Chapter Text

The streetlights are flickering above Yoongi, taunting him with their indecisiveness. He shuffles further ahead on the damp pavement, frowning at the ground.

”Oh, them? That's Jungkook and his boyfriend, Hoseok. Why do you ask?”

Jimin’s words are still bouncing around in his head, even this late at night, and Yoongi can't seem to get them to quiet down. All he hears are those whispered words over the heavy bass of the club’s music and his heart pounding furiously in his ears.

Yoongi isn't the type to compare himself to other men, but that was before Hoseok, before his self-discovery, before he had someone in his life to get jealous over.

That was before, but this was now.

So it seemed that “Kookie” was Hoseok’s young, elusive boyfriend. That in itself was not ideal, but what did Yoongi expect? That Hoseok would date someone Yoongi could even compare to? The dancer was gorgeous and seductive, outgoing and likeable; of course Hoseok was attracted to him. But honestly, Yoongi thought Hoseok wanted more out of a partner, someone less flashy and more instinctive. Less late nights out with foggy memories come morning and more quiet, contemplative moments spent in privacy. But then again, all these observations were based on the fact that he thought he knew Hoseok was.

Frowning, Yoongi recalls the moment Hoseok’s eyes met his in the club, how one moment the other was looking at him softly then the next, he was sticking his tongue down his boyfriend's throat, groping the dancer like they were all alone. Even now, hours later, the memory still burns, simmering beneath the surface. Yoongi wants to rip his flesh off just to get rid of the feeling.

Hoseok had known that Yoongi was watching and he hadn't cared. The younger had even smiled against Jungkook's lips, had kissed the dancer the way Yoongi liked— rough and desperate but calculated and methodical. Those heart-shaped lips had never seemed so repulsive as they do now.

Yoongi curses into the night air, but he keeps walking.

It’s painfully clear to Yoongi now that he was just a form of entertainment for Hoseok and the thought made his blood boil. The younger was used to getting what he wanted and Yoongi had been a challenge for him— a challenge that had been conquered and nearly paraded around the village for all to see.

Hoseok had said that he loved him; Yoongi had been embarrassingly close to saying it back. What a goddamn idiot he is.

Well, to be honest, Hoseok had warned Yoongi. He mentioned his greedy streak, his fear of never being satisfied with anything, but Yoongi thought that he could fill that hole for Hoseok, that they could fill all the gaping wounds for each other. But it looks like Hoseok was only interested in filling only one of Yoongi's holes.

Fuck, he's pissed.

In fact, he's so pissed that he's walked nearly forty minutes to Hoseok’s studio with the sole intent of cursing the other out so vehemently that Hoseok wouldn't dream of thinking of Yoongi as weak or vulnerable ever again. As badly as it hurts, Yoongi wants to confront Hoseok, wants to punch that fucking smug smile off his face.

He laughs at the thought, pushing through the night with a bottle of liquid courage sloshing in his hand. He's only had a few swigs but he likes the fire it gives him, the way he suddenly doesn't give a fuck about Hoseok’s stupid heart lips or his high cheek bones. About stolen kisses and the press of his bare back against the paint-covered tarp. About the most ridiculous word in the world: Love.

The lights are on at the studio and Yoongi wastes no time banging on the door, spilling some whiskey in the process. He hears muffled music inside along with the scrambling of feet, and suddenly the door is swung open, revealing an unfamiliar face with a mess of wavy brown hair. The man arches a thick brow and looks into the street before his eyes settle back on Yoongi.

“Can I help you?”

“Is Hoseok here? I want to kick his ass,” Yoongi grumbles out before taking a sip from his bottle. He's still not drunk enough but he's getting there and he's starting to wonder why he gave this shit up to begin with.

The man in the doorway laughs, a deep, rich sound and Yoongi would be mesmerized by the timbre of it if he wasn't becoming increasingly more agitated standing on the doorstep.

“No, he's not here, but you can come inside and wait for him,” the stranger offers, inclining his head towards the interior. “I'm Taehyung, and I rent this studio. Hoseok just borrows it, but I have insomnia tonight so I've been up painting.” He narrows his eyes, clearly sizing up Yoongi’s restless state. “You obviously need to talk something out with him, so you can stay and wait. He said he'll be here in the morning to get some things.”

Letting out a frustrated groan, Yoongi throws his now empty liquor bottle on the ground. It doesn't even shatter, which he finds unsatisfactory. “Figures that motherfucker would do this,” he mutters. “Fuck him.”

“I've tried before but he's picky,” Taehyung replies, laughing at his own joke. His eyes are a deep brown that sparkle even in the dim light. He tilts his head and looks Yoongi over. “Come inside. I've got wine and chicken.”

Scowling, Yoongi shakes his head. “Isn't it supposed to be ’beer and chicken’?”

“I like wine better,” Taehyung explains, grinning. He's got this boxy smile that looks ridiculous and enchanting at the same time. “Makes me feel classy as fuck when I get wasted. Wanna join?”

Yoongi mumbles under his breath, already forgetting his words the moment he says them. He pivots and begins walking down the street, but a strong hand suddenly pulls him back.

“I can't let you go anywhere like this,” Taehyung declares with a firm tone and velvet voice. “Seriously, you could get murdered or run over and I would have to live with that. Come inside and I'll make you forget all about Hoseok.”

Yoongi smiles. He likes the sound of that.

——

Hoseok has come to expect Taehyung’s strange ways, especially this early in the morning, but what he didn't expect was to hear two distinct voices giggling as he steps inside the studio. He instantly recognizes the deep laughter as belonging to his friend, but the other voice, that raspy laugh, he can't quite place.

It's unsettling how little attention the two men pay to Hoseok as he rounds the corner into the main space. Taehyung doesn't look his way and…. Yoongi?… doesn't even bat an eyelash upon seeing the other. The two just continue to laugh, splayed out on the tarp, tangled together with paint on their chests.

Thankfully, they both still have their jeans on.

Drawing on Yoongi’s chest with orange and blue, Taehyung snorts out a laugh. “So he painted you like this?” he asks, slurring his syllables in amusement. It seems like the two are engaged in conversation and can't be bothered to end it.

Hoseok sniffs the air and frowns. The entire place smells like wine and…. is that cheap fried chicken?

“Yeah….” Yoongi draws out his reply to the other man’s question, reclining back on the tarp. His pale torso is taut and Hoseok tries not to eye the lean muscle twitching under his flesh as flashes a content gummy smile.

Taehyung bursts into a fit of giggles, slapping Yoongi’s chest with a paint-covered palm. The older of the two grimaces at the pain, but laughs along. “That's so hot, I bet you guys fucked after that,” Taehyung exclaims loudly.

Shaking his head, Yoongi draws his knees up to his chest and just kind of rocks back and forth. Hoseok feels like he's walked into some kind of fucked up daycare. “No…. we didn't fuck.”

“Why? Why not?” Taehyung demands, crawling over Yoongi and pouting. “He obviously wanted you! You should've fuuuuuuucked!” he whines, resting his forehead against Yoongi’s bare chest. The elder complains but doesn't move the other man off of him.

It's obvious that the drunken revelry has reached its pinnacle since Taehyung has become manic and Yoongi is practically a zombie, so Hoseok decides that he's seen enough. He clears his throat, drawing their attention.

“Seok!” Taehyung stumbles to his feet and rushes to Hoseok. He has crispy chicken crumbs in his hair and his breath is stale and tart. “Seok! You've gotta hear hyung’s story about his hot artist friend. They painted and fucked and—”

“We didn't fuck,” Yoongi interjects, still lying on his back and staring at the ceiling.

Sucking in a deep breath, Taehyung grasps onto Hoseok, spreading paint all over his biceps. “Right! They didn't fuck and that's a shame because hyung really really likes him so what should he do?”

Stunned, Hoseok takes in the sight of Taehyung hunched over, hugging his face to Hoseok's chest while whining. After a few moments, Hoseok carefully pries the man off of him and approaches Yoongi on the floor.

The elder is in the worst state he's ever seen him, half-dressed with children’s paint smeared across his chest in weird patterns. He looks exhausted, eyes puffy and sunken in while his hair is knots and sticking to his perspiring face.

Hoseok wants to leave him here and go to work. Get on with his life and forget every sweet little lie Yoongi fed him.

“I thought you were on Kookie's dick,” Yoongi whispers, eyes glued on the younger. They crinkle up in disdain.

Hoseok really wants to leave him here.

“I thought you were on Jimin’s,” he bites back.

Yoongi snorts, finally displaying some sort of emotion. “Jimin!” he shouts, almost sounding like disbelief. “He wants to talk about Jimin!”

Somewhere in the studio, Taehyung shouts back. “Jimin! Let’s talk about Jimin!” Silence, then, “Wait? Who’s Jimin?”

Yoongi laughs at that, another smile that causes Hoseok’s heart to temporarily cease beating. He quickly shakes off the feeling, however, and turns towards the other end of the studio.

“Taehyung, go to sleep, I'm taking Yoongi home.”

He hears a grumble of appreciation echo off the walls and he takes that as sign to continue. Looking down at Yoongi, he sighs deeply. “I'm taking you home and then I'm telling Namjoon I'm done with the project,” he explains, leaning down to gather Yoongi’s shirt crumpled on the floor.

The elder makes a scoffing noise but doesn't move to get up. “All of this because of Jimin?”

Hoseok doesn't answer, abruptly grabbing onto Yoongi’s arms and yanking him to his feet, ignoring the other’s heated curses. He grabs a towel discarded on a table and wets it with a water bottle before aggressively scrubbing the paint off the other’s exposed flesh and pulling his shirt over his head. Once satisfied, he practically slings Yoongi onto his back and picks up the man’s phone and keys before making his way to the front door.

Suddenly, Taehyung rushes into the main room, sliding on a woven rug. “Hyung! Don't forget to kick that guy’s ass!” he exclaims, eyes wide with concern.

Shifting in Hoseok’s hold, Yoongi lifts his arms in the air and laughs. “I forgot! I'll do that!”

“Bye, hyung!”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Hoseok rolls his eyes at the strange exchange between his coworker-turned-fling and one of his closest friends. He certainly didn't expect to find himself in this situation but he decides to make the best of it, bringing closure to probably one of the stupidest things he could've done. All he had to do was drop Yoongi off safely and then he could wash his hands of the entire thing and still seem like a decent human being.

Today, Seokjin’s car idles outside the studio, waiting patiently for its driver. Hoseok asked his hyung if he could borrow it to bring some of his bigger paintings home, but as he lays Yoongi down in the backseat, he’s oddly grateful for the coincidence.

Yoongi stirs as he’s moved and Hoseok warns him not to vomit in the car or he’ll leave him on the side of the road, to which Yoongi cheekily smiles and flips him off with lazy, hooded eyes.

“Where do you live?” Hoseok asks, sliding into the front seat.

“You dunno?” Yoongi tries to sit up but gives up quickly with a defeated huff.

Sighing for what feels like the hundredth time this morning, Hoseok grips the wheel. “No, I don't know where,” he retorts. “You never told me.”

“I was gonna take you there someday,” Yoongi replies smoothly despite the slight slurring of his syllables that always appears when he's inebriated.

Waiting, Hoseok stares in the rear view mirror expectantly. “Are you going to tell me?”

“No.”

Hoseok shakes his head and puts the car in drive before calling Namjoon. The man picks up after three rings, yawning into the receiver.

”Something wrong? It's early.”

Peeking at the disheveled Yoongi in the backseat, Hoseok decides to be as forgiving as possible despite his anger. He doesn't want to drag anyone else into this stupidity. “Yoongi borrowed something of mine and I need it back right now,” he lies, accelerating through the streets. “Do you know where he lives?”

Namjoon groans, yawning once more. ”Yeah, hold on and I'll text the address to you. I need a moment to wake up.”

“Thanks.”

“No problem, hyung.”

Hoseok hangs up, letting out a huff of air. He hears Yoongi move behind him and suddenly, hot, pungent breath is on his neck.

“You never call me ’hyung’,” the elder observes and Hoseok wishes he had a bottle of water for the other to wash out his alcohol-laden mouth.

“You told me not to.”

Yoongi snorts, laughing right in Hoseok’s ear. “When did I say that?”

Hoseok’s phone dings and he checks it, already rerouting the car with the correct destination in his mind. “The night you called me drunk and….. touched yourself,” he explains, whispering the last part like a dirty secret. “You told me that you weren't my hyung.”

Humming, Yoongi seems to consider this before he slumps back into the back seat. When Hoseok looks in the mirror, the elder is pouting ungracefully.

“That's ’cause I never saw you as a doengsaeng. I knew you were… different, somehow? I dunno, you confuse the fuck out of me.”

Hoseok tries his best to remain quiet and to not get involved. Sure, he wanted to confront Yoongi about what he saw in the club, but the other, more fragile part of him knew it was a lost cause. He was looking for affection in the wrong place with the wrong person and he became gullible in the process.

They drive the next few minutes in complete silence, the only sound the hum of the engine. Hoseok keeps an eye on the other in the mirror but all Yoongi is doing is brooding, staring out the window with narrowed eyes.

Abruptly, he sucks in a deep breath and meets Hoseok’s gaze in the mirror. “That shit last night at the club was because of Jimin, right?” he demands, eyes blown wide as his body sways with the movement of the car.

Honestly, Hoseok didn't really want to have this conversation in a moving vehicle with a drunk man, but the way the elder is burning holes in he back of his head tells him that there is no other option.

“So what if it was?” he bites back hotly. “At least I was honest about who I fuck with.”

Yoongi doesn't reply immediately, instead, he cocks his head and purses his lips. “Careful, Seok,” he coos sarcastically. “You're misplacing emotions again. You sound kinda jealous.”

Making a sharp turn onto Yoongi’s street, Hoseok practically skids to a stop right in front of the apartment complex. He cuts the ignition and turns in his seat to address the other. “There's nothing to be jealous of,” he declares, leveling his icy tone. “Fuck who you want to fuck Yoongi, wherever you want to fuck. But you're done fucking with me.”

The words take a moment to sink into Yoongi’s hazy brain, but once they do, the elder laughs darkly, shaking his head. He looks up, holding Hoseok’s gaze with his dark, feline eyes.

“So you saw me talking with Jimin and your first instinct is to taunt me with that kid?” Yoongi is still chuckling, though his raspy voice really makes it sound more like gurgling. “I thought you loved me or some shit?”

Or some shit.

“I do but…”

Yoongi punches the back of the front seat, his eyes full of fire. “But what? You either want me or you don't. It's pretty fucking simple.“

“What do you want from me, Yoongi?” Hoseok shouts over him. “Do you want me to just walk into my shared apartment and tell my boyfriend that it's over between us because I fell in love with my coworker who can't decide if he's straight or not? What then, Yoongi? I move in with you and live happily ever after? You said it yourself, you didn't know if you were ready for more with me and now I know why. Why don't you go find Jimin or something.”

He knows he sounds like a petulant child, like a jaded teenager, but Hoseok can't help but feel so goddamn angry and jealous. Fuck, is he jealous. All the emotions from the night before are trickling back into his blood and he wants nothing more than to make Yoongi hurt.

Yoongi stares back at him with wide eyes, pupils dilated. “I thought I was the confused one,” he muses, voice fading with every word. “You think you understand me, but you don't even understand yourself. I'm not the one who is hiding himself anymore.”

Hoseok faces the windshield and presses the unlock door button. “Get out of the car.” His words come out far harsher than he intended, but he has never felt so cornered before, so unintentionally vulnerable. He let Yoongi have a piece of him thinking he could keep the rest some for himself, but that's never how it works. You either give all or nothing and once it's done, you can't take it back.

Opening the door, Yoongi slides out but hesitates to close it, hovering in the doorway. He looks bewildered, like he’s shifting through all the possible options for a reply before he finally opens his mouth again. “I should tell you the truth about Jimin, but it wouldn't matter anyway. You were never gonna choose me. You were just a waste of time.” And with that, he slams the door and ambles onto the sidewalk, walking right past his apartment complex.

Hoseok doesn't have to ask to know where the elder is heading. He can see the sign for the liquor store down the street clearly, even through blurry eyes. He waits there until Yoongi emerges from the store with two packs of soju before he can't stand the sight and drives off.

In the rear view mirror, Yoongi watches him go, already holding a bottle to his lips.

Chapter Text

It's official; the project is completed, Yoongi is assigned to another production, and he assumes Hoseok went back to choreographing young idols with attitude problems and wild hair.

He assumes because it's been nearly two months since Yoongi has last seen the other, since Hoseok left him on the curb that morning, drunk and self-destructive, and trying to push down the rational part of himself that actually knew how to communicate effectively with the people in his life.

At least something good came out of their partnership— the rookie group debuted to rousing success and Yoongi hears his track on the radio nearly every day. He turns it off every time though, and tells himself that it's to keep his ego in check, but really, he can't stand to envision the movements a beautiful body once made moving along to the very same beat.

Yoongi knows they ended because of a misunderstanding, a stupid incident that could've easily been explained, but the moment Hoseok kissed Jungkook out of spite, he knew it would've never worked out. Not that sneaking around and vaguely explaining their feelings ever really qualified as “working” to begin with, but it was something.

But if Hoseok’s first instinct had been to hurt the other, then how could he possibly have truly cared for someone like Yoongi, who needed constant assurance? He already felt unsteady enough; dealing with someone so inexplicably volatile would've done more damage than good.

So, for the last two months, Yoongi has tried to live his life better than before. He doesn't struggle with his identity nearly as much, but somehow he knows that this new part of himself will always be tied to the other and that first experience, which is why he isn't surprised when the dreams return, more vivid than ever now that Yoongi has a face to harp on. The Hoseok in his dreams is tender but demanding, allowing Yoongi the freedom to just exist and to not think, suspended in between pleasure and pain.

The pain always comes when he wakes and realizes that he’s still haunted, the same as all those months ago, but it's worse knowing that the Hoseok is out there, living his life unhindered while he’s right back where he started, except now he’s much more self-aware. He feels like a fallen angel, like a poor soul who took a bite of the forbidden apple and now can't unsee, can't forget.

Oh, but how sweet was his fall from grace? He thinks back on it daily now, those first few days, on edge but so very enthralled by the secrets glinting in Hoseok’s eyes. That first kiss and then the next. Their messy coupling on the studio floor.

Yoongi loved the possession, losing himself in another, but he didn't wanted to be possessed. He wasn't an object.

He finally understands that now.

For the first week after Hoseok left, Yoongi visited Jimin if only to talk. The dancer listened intently, soaking up Yoongi's pain like a sponge, never once pressing for the identity of the secret lover. Yoongi never told him but it didn't stop him from looking for Hoseok in the other each time, leading to many confusing moments.

Long talks became gentle touches, whispered words of comfort. Those words became soft kisses on his temple, cheek, and along his knuckles. Chastity became a deep roiling simmer and soon it was hard to decipher where Jimin began and the memory of Hoseok ended.

Take this night, for example.

Jimin is straddling Yoongi’s thighs, his lips ghosting over the elder’s neck, biting and sucking occasionally as the deep, heavy bass of the music nearly drowns their senses.

The dancer pulls back, eyeing Yoongi coyly. “Is this how he did it?” he asks innocently, returning to lave at the flesh with his tongue. He sweeps the slick appendage over the bruises along Yoongi’s skin, already littered with marks from previous nights.

Shaking his head slightly, Yoongi groans. “He was… more aggressive, like he was tasting me.”

Jimin smiles against his neck and bites Yoongi harshly, causing the elder to seize up. He wheezes out a laugh. “Mmm…. sweet.”

“You do call me Suga.”

Giggling, Jimin draws back and runs his hand across Yoongi’s cheek, slowly, reverently. The intensity forces Yoongi to look away, at anything but Jimin’s vulnerable eyes. It's not the first time a specific thought has occurred to him, but it's the first time he’s dared to say anything.

“I'm leading you on,” Yoongi whispers, bringing his gaze back to the dancer. Jimin has his head cocked, biting his plump lips. “I'm just like him and I'll disappoint you.”

Jimin leans forwards and his toned thighs squeeze Yoongi’s thin waist. “You're not like that asshole,” he assures, giving the elder a quick peck. “The difference is that I know that you're using me and I don't mind. I like the pain.”

Letting out a dark laugh, Yoongi gently pushes Jimin away from him, untangling the dancer’s fingers from his hair. “That doesn't make it right. We can't keep doing this shit. What happens when you fall in love with me and I've moved on?”

A heavy silence follows his question, punctuated by the club’s ever-changing music. Jimin is staring at the floor now, pulling his silky robe tightly around his shoulders.

“I'm already in love with you,” he whispers, lifting his head and revealing his defiant gaze. “I've been in love for awhile now but I know you don't want me and that's ok. I like things this way. It's…. what I deserve.” Jimin shrugs before hugging himself tightly. “I'm a whore, Yoongi. I'm made to be used up.”

Yoongi shakes his head, feeling anger simmering in his veins. “Stop talking about yourself like that,” he snaps, shaking the dancer by the shoulders. He grasps Jimin's chin in his long fingers and forces him to look him in the eye. “That's all you ever do! You're here every night, letting me emotionally abuse you and then you let these disgusting pigs touch you for money. You're so smart Jimin, why are you here? Why don't you just leave?”

“Stop,” Jimin demands, pulling away. He rakes a hand through his hair and shakes his head. “You know I have nowhere to go. This is it for me, Yoongi. There's no happy ending, no prince or princess coming to save me. I'm dirty and used up. I let you fantasize with me because that's the closest I'll ever get to happiness. But it's… ok. I'm ok. This is my choice.”

Speechless, Yoongi swallows hard, fighting back the urge to shake the younger again. He doesn't understand how being left with no other option is the same as “choosing”, but he’s become too familiar with the lies that one tells themselves in order to survive the day.

Jimin reaches out and grabs Yoongi by the wrist, tugging him close. “I know you think I'm naive, but I know what I'm doing. I let you use me because I want to be there for you and if this is all we’ll ever be, then I'm willing to take it.”

Yanking his arm away, Yoongi pushes off the couch, throwing Jimin off of him and onto the ground. He pulls at his hair and fights back the urge to scream at either himself or Jimin.

When did he let it get this far? How did he become this person?

Jimin is sprawled on the floor, silky robe splayed open, his hair a mess. His lips are swollen from tasting Yoongi and he's looking up at the elder like a saint does a god. Yoongi can't stand the devotion in his eyes, devotion that he put there and refuses to let go of.

He's no better than Hoseok now.

Before he does something else he'll regret, Yoongi pushes through the curtains and into the pulsating club interior. He feels Jimin follow behind him and seconds later, his wrist is caught in a hold again and the dancer’s mouth is at his ear.

“I don't need you to survive, Yoongi. You're not taking advantage of me. This is my choice.”

Yoongi grits his teeth. He wants to believe Jimin. He wants to feel like a decent human being again and not some sick freak that enjoys watching the dancer pine after him. Not someone who is trying to fill the hole left bleeding and ragged by another man. “Prove it,” he challenges, though he doesn't expect the dancer to comply.

Dropping the elder's wrist, Jimin moves into the club, warning Yoongi not to move. He's gone for several minutes and Yoongi occupies himself by watching the main stage, now graced by a muscular man covered in leather and chains. The rhinestones glittering in the light spell out “Wontokki” on his ass, but the sight does nothing for Yoongi.

When Jimin finally returns, he leads Yoongi to one of the wide leather chairs reserved for lap dances and Yoongi protests, but Jimin pushes him down to sit with a wicked grin.

“I bought you a lap dance because I know you don't belong to me and I won't force that on you,” the dancer leans in and tells him. “It’s the good kind, so I want you to enjoy it while I watch, ok?”

Squinting in the dim lighting, Yoongi tries his best to read Jimin’s face as the man pulls away, but all he can see is the whiteness of his teeth and the sheen of his lips. He doesn't get a chance to argue however, because suddenly the smell of body oil and coconuts overwhelms his senses as another dancer forces Yoongi’s legs open and slides between them.

Jungkook stares down at Yoongi like a hungry predator, his eyes sparkling with mischief. “Did someone get bored with just one toy?” he purrs, running his strong hands up Yoongi’s thighs. “Don't worry, Jimin wants to watch us play.”

Yoongi lets out a slew of curses but is quickly silenced by a finger to the mouth.

Crawling over Yoongi, the dancer bites his earlobe and whispers hotly. “I have someone watching me too, so be a good boy for me.” He turns his head towards the bar and Yoongi tries to follow his gaze but can't see much except for shadows dancing in the neon lights.

Jungkook hovers over him and begins to move, filthy words falling from his lips, from his very young lips, and Yoongi sits paralyzed, wondering briefly if he kissed those same lips, would they taste like Hoseok?

——-

Hoseok knew it was only a matter of time before he ran into Yoongi again, especially considering that both of their lovers worked at the same club. Most nights when he dropped by to visit Jungkook, he could hardly ignore the urge to look over towards the alcoves, wondering if Yoongi was there.

Part of him hoped he would see Jimin and the elder together, night after night, if only to assure himself that Yoongi had been involved in a somewhat serious relationship and that Hoseok hadn't been played in favor of a fling.

He knew it was stupid to be angry at Yoongi for the exact same shit he had pulled, but Yoongi had known about Jungkook from the start, and in the end, the elder had been right. Hoseok was hiding a part of himself from everyone; the part of himself that wanted both men in his life, one to fill the daytime hours with shy glances and stolen kisses and the other to fill his nights with rough sex and security. Just as Yoongi had struggled to grasp his sexuality, Hoseok was battling his greed. And the longer he ignored it, the more it simmered, bubbling underneath the surface and threatening to spill over.

Tonight, he watches the club from the shadows, tucked into a corner by the bar and sipping whiskey. Jimin had just come over to retrieve Jungkook, stating that a customer just paid for a premium lap dance. Hoseok reluctantly let his boyfriend go, always detesting anytime Jungkook had to indulge a customer this way. But he knows Jungkook gets off on Hoseok watching him, burning with jealousy, so he does, scooting closer on his seat and catching a clear view of Jungkook straddling a man. Jimin is standing nearby, encouraging the other, which Hoseok finds odd.

Gripping his glass, he moves to a different seat at the bar, now able to see the dance from an entirely new angle. He tightens his grip on his drink as his pulse skyrockets at the sight.

Yoongi is the customer in the chair, eyes wide and hands stiffly at his sides. Jungkook is whispering in his ear before he draws back to wink at Hoseok. Normally, a burning, seething jealousy would begin to set in, but tonight, he feels oddly curious as Jungkook begins to move, grinding himself against Yoongi’s crotch while he moves his hands under the elder’s shirt. Yoongi hasn't noticed Hoseok yet, too busy avoiding Jungkook’s gaze as the dance continues.

Hoseok finds it strange that Yoongi looks so uncomfortable, even while Jimin watches on with eager eyes. It's almost as if he tries to retract from Jungkook’s touch, and Hoseok has never seen a customer react this way; most men would already be cumming in their pants at Jungkook’s thorough attention.

The elder keeps looking over at Jimin who is biting his lip, restlessly shifting around on his bare feet. He says something to Yoongi but the other just shakes his head, bringing his hands up like he wants to push Jungkook off of him. Offended, Jungkook sits back and laughs in disbelief, looking over to Hoseok.

That's when Yoongi finally notices the other, lurking in the shadows. His eyes grow wide and he pouts those doll lips before jumping up and knocking Jungkook off as promised. Jimin rushes to Yoongi, trying to calm him, but the elder begins to shout, seemingly berating the dancer.

It becomes clear that the dance wasn't Yoongi’s idea, but Jungkook doesn't give up that easily. He comes up behind Yoongi and begins whispering in his ear, running his hands up and down the elder’s stomach, fingers brushing exposed flesh every time the fabric lifts up.

Whirling around, Yoongi tries to push Jungkook away again, but the dancer pulls Yoongi to him, crashing their mouths together. Yoongi falls still, clearly in shock but his mouth complies as Jungkook deepens the kiss, delving into the other’s mouth.

Hoseok nearly spills his whiskey, but he can't find it in himself to be upset. He watches their lips brush, their tongues mingling as the lights dance over them. He sees the colors flash across their skin, coloring them both like erotic paintings, rough and unfinished but beautiful none the less. His throat tightens and he looks over at Jimin to find the dancer staring at him with a peculiar expression.

Jimin looks between the two men kissing and then back at Hoseok, cocking his head. His plump lips part, as if he wants to say something, but then Jungkook is gasping for air, grinning devilishly as he pushes a pliant Yoongi down into the chair once more.

Jungkook crawls back over him again, hands freely groping every inch of the elder. As the dance progresses, things become more heated with Jungkook turning on the charm and practically dry-fucking Yoongi into the chair with aggressive rolls of his toned hips and thighs.

But it's not the sensuality that holds Hoseok’s attention. It's not the physicality of the act, though his body does respond to the sight. No, it's the way Yoongi is staring right at Hoseok the entire time it happens with eyes that ask permission, that beg Hoseok to let him imagine. He can tell that Yoongi doesn't want Jungkook’s touch, and strangely enough, he doesn't seem to want Jimin’s either. Hoseok knows what Yoongi wants, what his canvas needs. So he gives it to him.

Nodding slowly, he offers Yoongi permission to think of only him, to let go and enjoy the friction on his body, thinking back to their shared sin back at the studio. If he was sober, he’d walk away from this nonsense, but the darkness of the club makes him feel like he’s dreaming, like reality is being filtered down to nothing but raw emotion.

He still desperately wants Yoongi and he still has Jungkook.

And now they're both here, tangled up together.

Yoongi’s feline gaze is nearly squeezed shut but his eyes find Hoseok again just as Jungkook lifts the elder’s hips and grinds their pelvises together, slow and dirty. Jimin watches on with wide eyes, but Hoseok can see his fists are clenched, knuckles white.

Throwing his head back, Yoongi lets out a groan that has Hoseok palming himself on his bar stool. The elder grits his teeth and hisses, fingers flying into Jungkook’s hair and tugging harshly while his hooded eyes beg Hoseok for release.

Feeling his blood burn with need, Hoseok gropes himself through his jeans, working his length over in time to the grind of his boyfriend's hips on his lover’s. Jimin is no longer looking at him, but he doesn't care anyway. He's putting on a show for Yoongi, heart rate spiking when he notices Yoongi eyeing the movement of his hand from the chair.

Jungkook seems lost in his job, hands wandering all over Yoongi, hips rolling forward in quick little bursts that has Yoongi letting out a strangled keening that Hoseok drinks in like the burn of whiskey. He tries to resist unbuttoning his pants and chasing after relief, but it seems Yoongi is far more bold.

The elder is fumbling with his zipper, whimpering, eyes dazed and darting over to Hoseok every few seconds. Before he can get too far however, Jungkook seizes his hands and Jimin steps up behind the chair to hold Yoongi’s arms over his head like a captive. Hoseok sees Jungkook mouth the words “dirty boy” to Yoongi and he whines.

When the dance hits the fifteen minute mark, everyone becomes aware, because Jungkook finishes up with a little teasing and then lithely removes himself from Yoongi’s lap. Jimin is still holding the elder’s arms, but then he gently lowers them down to Yoongi’s heaving chest.

Hoseok is still in a daze when Jungkook suddenly appears in front of him, breathing hard with wild eyes. “Seok, fuck me,” he demands, unblinking.

“Ok-k, let's go home—”

“No,” Jungkook growls low in his throat. “Fuck me now. Shit, Seok, he was too much… I need it… now.”

Hoseok has no choice but to be pulled from his stool, whiskey still sitting on the bar top. His head feels heavy, hazy, and as he’s dragged by the chair Yoongi is still sprawled in, he watches numbly as Jimin brushes sweat-soaked hair from the elder’s fluttering eyes.

Fuck.

It isn't until he’s got Jungkook nearly bent in half over a vanity table in the back dressing room that Hoseok finally realizes what just occurred. Shame and guilt cascade over him like a bucket of freezing water, but he's so worked up, envisioning Yoongi underneath him and making those obscene noises for him, that he blocks everything out and chases his climax as Jungkook holds onto the counter for dear life.

After the haze of pleasure has passed, and Hoseok is staring up at the ceiling, he wonders if Yoongi still wants him, if Yoongi could overlook Jungkook screaming Hoseok’s name all the way from the back room.

Chapter Text

The first thing Yoongi sees when his eyes flutter open is Jimin’s shy smile and his slanted eyes. The dancer is softly petting his head, fingers carding through his hair while whispering sweetly.

“Yoongi, are you ok?”

Yoongi is very much not ok.

He's embarrassed, ashamed, and aching with need in this dark, humid club. He cannot believe he let his control slip like that, all just from seeing Hoseok. But noticing the man watching him, touching himself with eyes intently on Yoongi, brought every single memory racing back into Yoongi’s blood, screaming in his veins.

That night in the studio, Hoseok hovering above him, the lighting playing off his sharp features, his high cheekbones and sloped nose. His dark hair, long but curling at the edges from sweat and heat. Those lips, heart-shaped and a dusty rose on the edges fading into blushing pink towards the middle.

Hoseok. Hoseok. Hoseok.

That voice, high-pitched and lilting, slowing down until it sounds deep and rich like honey dripping onto Yoongi, all over Yoongi until he’s sticky and sweet and fuck— he wants Hoseok so much right now that it's nearly painful.

“Yoongi?” Jimin is leaning over the chair now, eyes wide with concern. “I know Kookie is good but I didn't think he would nearly kill you. I'm kind of jealous.” The dancer laughs, tinkling and nervous.

Sucking in a deep breath, Yoongi tries to sit up. “I need… bathroom.. need,” he rambles, shaking his head slightly, trying to clear his traitorous thoughts.

It was far too easy to imagine Hoseok in his lap. Strange, because the younger wouldn't be the type to writhe around and tease coyly, but Yoongi grasped onto what fantasy he could.

It wasn't Jungkook in his lap, it had been Hoseok. Hoseok straddling his thighs, calling him a dirty boy and making Yoongi beg for it. Hoseok, tugging their hips together and breathing heavy, rutting and thrusting while laughing darkly. Hoseok, pulling him into a kiss so rough and filthy that Yoongi could literally feel his blood ignite beneath his skin.

He burns and nothing can put the fire out.

Jimin tries to help Yoongi stand, but the elder waves him away and stumbles towards the bathroom, crotch stiff and heavy in his jeans. Once inside, he throws himself into the nearest stall and sucks in lungfuls of air, blinking hard.

He feels dirty and depraved, but he can fall further, he thinks, as he leans against the cool metal door and yanks his jeans down to his thighs along with his boxers.

His hand jerks furiously as he tips his head back and keens, eyes squeezed shut. His lips tremble, legs shake. He imagines many things, but it's a myriad of memories, of feeling, of sound. Hoseok’s laughter, tinny but joyful, ringing through the air. The warmth of his hands sliding down Yoongi’s bare torso. His lips mouthing against his neck, suckling his skin.

Hoseok, standing in the middle of the art studio, his face so open and vulnerable, eyes trained on Yoongi like it's the only thing he can perceive.

“I think I'm in love with you.”

Yoongi is so fucking pathetic. He weeps silently when he cums, like a bitch, and he suddenly feels so empty, so strangely out of place in his own life. He detests the feeling, like there's a huge chunk of himself missing and no matter what he does, where he goes, he’ll always feel the hole, gaping and raw.

He’ll always be bleeding, leaving a trail through the streets of Seoul, his apartment, his workplace. A trail he can always follow back to the source, but Hoseok doesn't belong to him and Yoongi refuses to belong to a man that thinks so lowly of him.

Hoseok is an asshole for existing; Hoseok is an asshole for making Yoongi want him so much.

Sniffling, Yoongi cleans himself up and gingerly opens the stall door. To his surprise, there's a bottle of water and some aspirin lying on a paper towel near the sink. A napkin sits beside the offered fare, with a note scrawled on it haphazardly.

Sorry, but I have to work the rest of my shift. Please drink some water and take the medicine. I opened a tab for you at the bar for any more water and snacks. NO ALCOHOL. I also left some cash with the bartender for a cab home. Take care of yourself. — Jimin

Yoongi’s hands shake when he puts the water to his lips and swallows the medicine. For a brief moment, the ache in his heart is replaced by something warm and fluid, the sound of a sweet voice and the crinkle of smiling eyes watching Yoongi from across a velvet couch.

——

“What did you think?” Jungkook whispers into Hoseok’s ear as they walk down the street hand in hand.

Hoseok arches a brow, teasing his boyfriend. “About what?”

Frowning, Jungkook hits him on the arm. “What did you think about me grinding on your coworker? You can't tell me you haven't thought about his ass before.”

Hoseok nearly stumbles on the street. He furrows his brows and stops walking, jerking Jungkook back with him. “What do you mean?”

A coy expression blossoms onto Jungkook’s face and he caresses Hoseok’s hand in his. “Those slim hips and that pale skin…. and don't even get me started on those fucking tiny doll lips.” Jungkook sighs. “He’d make a gorgeous dancer or a camboy or something. It's a shame people don't get to lay their hands on him more often.”

Watching his boyfriend laugh, Hoseok lets himself be pulled forward numbly. They're heading to have an early breakfast after Jungkook’s late shift and even though Hoseok isn't used to this kind of schedule, he's wide awake, still burning with the memory of Yoongi’s lap dance.

The way he felt watching Yoongi….

He hoped he never felt that sense of longing again because it was soul-shattering and desperate in its white-hot intensity. Never has Hoseok had someone who made him ache for a simple touch, a small shy smile, or a long gaze into the depths of dark eyes. Never has he felt so completely reckless and unraveled….

But it was over now, and if Hoseok avoided the club, he could avoid Yoongi. His goal was to forget about the other even though there wasn't a single moment that didn't pass by that something didn't remind him of Yoongi. But whenever he began to reminisce, there were also things that reminded him of why it had to end.

Take Jimin for example. The dancer had become close with Jungkook and that meant that he was almost always around. It was often that Jungkook would bring up the subject of Jimin’s “boy toy” and the dancer would blush profusely, gushing about Yoongi and all the admirable things about him.

“He’s so sweet and patient and he always asks me if I've eaten.”

“He never judges me no matter what I tell him. He's a great listener.”

If Hoseok was honest, he was still jealous, still seething and the little lap dance incident hadn't helped. Because now he knew that Yoongi still thought of him, that there was still something inexplicable between them.

“Oh,” Jungkook pipes up, pulling Hoseok’s attention back to him. “Jimin said he's gonna meet us for breakfast after Yoongi leaves.”

“Great,” Hoseok grits out, shoving his hands in his pockets.

Jungkook clucks his tongue and gives Hoseok a knowing look. “Wow, you really don't like Yoongi, do you? You used to complain about how he was all weird about you being gay and then he comes out and you still don't like him? What's that about?”

“Some people aren't meant to be friends.”

“I don't believe that,” Jungkook states, breathing in the early morning air. “Everybody is in your life for a reason even if it may seem negative at first. If something is meant to be, you can't fuck it up. It'll just keep coming back.”

Hoseok frowns, looking away from his boyfriend and into the street. He wish the other would let it go because he had no idea exactly what he was endorsing. Hoseok already felt guilty enough as it was; he definitely didn't need Jungkook unknowingly pushing him towards Yoongi.

They round a corner in silence and Jimin appears up ahead on the street near the restaurant entrance. He waves and Hoseok half-heartedly waves back, wishing he was anywhere but here at the moment.

Breakfast begins rather routinely, with Jungkook and Jimin laughing about all the strange customers in the club. As always, Jimin tries to include Hoseok, asking about his job and his painting hobby.

“Jungkook showed me some of your work,” Jimin confesses as Jungkook tries to kick him under the table. “You're really great! But hyung, do you think I could buy one of your pieces? I want to give it to someone as a gift.”

Putting down his chopsticks, Hoseok nods adamantly. He's been waiting for the day someone would request one of the paintings even if he doesn't believe he has much talent. “Sure. Which one?”

“The yellow rose that’s decaying on the edges. I think it's absolutely beautiful!” Jimin smiles to himself, taking a sip of his water. He clears his throat before continuing. “It reminds me of Yoongi and I think he'll like it.”

Jungkook lets out a whistle and pinches one of Jimin’s cheeks. “Just get married already,” he teases.

Looking towards the table, Hoseok clears his throat. “I don't think he would like that one, besides, why are you getting him a gift? Are you guys that serious now?”

Before Jimin can reply, Jungkook sticks a finger into his boyfriend’s face. “Of course it's serious,” he huffs. “Yoongi comes every night and Jimin here is always grinning like a complete idiot whenever he leaves. It's about time one of them makes a move outside of the club.”

Swatting the finger out of the way, Hoseok looks to Jimin for confirmation but the man is looking down at the table with a frown. His hands are playing with a mug of tea, spinning the cup around in slow circles.

Hoseok knows he shouldn't care, but he can't have Jimin give Yoongi that painting, the painting he modeled after the rose he put on Yoongi's back.

“Are you sure you want to do something like that? What if Yoongi doesn't think it's serious?”

Setting his chopsticks down, Jungkook eyes Hoseok warily. “What is your problem? So what if Yoongi isn't as serious as Jimin is? If that's the case, then it's Jimin’s mistake to make,” he states curtly, tonguing his cheek in frustration. “Why do you suddenly care so much? I thought you hated Yoongi…. unless I'm wrong?”

“No, I just—”

“There's no need to fight,” Jimin interjects between the two. “I already know Yoongi’s intentions. He's made them very clear.”

Hoseok arches a brow. His chest tightens despite his prior knowledge of the two men being involved. But wondering and hearing it are two very different things.

“So?” Jungkook prompts, leaning in close.

Sighing heavily, Jimin turns his weary eyes to Hoseok. “He's in love with another man,” he begins quietly. “He has been since the first time we met but I guess I just kept hoping he’d move on. That's why I offered to let him talk out his problems with me, but after all this time, he still wants the other guy.”

Hoseok is rendered speechless, his mouth hanging open but Jungkook hardly notices his shell-shock.

“Wait. Are you telling me that you haven't been fucking with him? That you've just been talking this entire time?” Jungkook looks absolutely aghast, eyes wide and hands clutched to his chest.

When Jimin nods, averting his gaze, Hoseok feels his blood run cold.

He had seen the two men together that night at the club and assumed they were involved, that despite his and Yoongi’s strange relationship, Yoongi had betrayed him somehow. Now, to hear the contrary was quite jarring. Hoseok looks down at his plate in utter disbelief.

“Well, we kissed a few times but every time Yoongi imagines the other guy,” Jimin confesses, drawing out the last part of his sentence. When Hoseok looks up, the dancer is making eye contact with him.

Beside him, Jungkook is throwing a tantrum. “Chim! How could you let him treat you this way?” he questions hotly. “He knows you're in love with him but he keeps leading you on? What an asshole! And to think I gave that man a filthy dance tonight….”

“Why do you do it?” Hoseok finds himself asking, putting his hands under the table to hide their trembling.

Jimin cracks a sad smile then runs a hand through his hair. “He's been through a lot. So have I, but I've gotten used to it,” he explains softly. “Yoongi though….. He just came to terms with he fact that he’s gay and that no matter what, it's impossible to be with the one man he's fallen in love with.”

Simmering down, Jungkook lets out a breath. “Why? Is the guy he likes straight or something? Or like, married?”

“No, Yoongi said that the guy is afraid to love Yoongi because it means he'll finally have to let go of what he already has and he's selfish.” Jimin tries to avoid Hoseok’s glare, but the older man notices something flash in Jimin’s dark eyes.

Jimin knows something, but not everything. Of that much, Hoseok is certain.

“I think you should move on, Chim Chim,” Jungkook scolds, pulling one of Jimin’s hands into his own.

“I don't want to—”

Hoseok rises to his feet, causing the table to jump suddenly and startle the other men. “You can have the painting,” he declares, leveling his eyes on Jimin. “Just let me add a few touches and then you can take it home. Yoongi will love it.”

Jimin’s eyes light up and he bows slightly. Beside him, Jungkook scowls, downing his tea in one swallow.

“Thank you, hyung,” Jimin whispers, eyes sparkling with hope. His lips pull into a wide smile and Hoseok understands why Yoongi would gravitate towards someone like him.

But just because he understands it doesn't mean he accepts it.

He knows an apology is in order, knows he fucked up, but there's just this one question burning hotly in the back of his mind. One he desperately wants an answer to.

Why did Yoongi give up so easily?

——-

Yoongi sets the bowls down on the low table, setting the places for his guests. In his kitchen, the sound of his mother berating his brother for tasting the food early can be heard along with the tell-tale rustling of his father reading a newspaper.

It took everything within Yoongi to invite them over for dinner, but he could no longer avoid them. Despite their last family visit being a complete disaster, his mother had called him several times, assuring him that his father hadn't meant to be so harsh. That everything would be ok.

“It's ready,” his mother declares, stepping into the small living room turned dining room and carrying a large bowl. Taejoon trails behind her, lips pursed in defiance.

Soon, the table is set and the family begins their meal. Yoongi remains quiet as his father chats idly about his work, throwing in anecdotes from his livelier days. Eventually, the topic shifts to Yoongi’s career and Yoongi is surprised to learn that his family knows of the idol group’s track he produced and that it’s charting very well.

“I'm happy for you,” his mother chirps, smiling. “I couldn't believe it when I saw your name on the album credits. One of my coworkers has a daughter who likes that group and she showed me.”

“I couldn't believe it either,” Yoongi’s father chimes in, in an unusually good mood. “I was worried about you, but it seems you've persevered and made something of yourself.”

Yoongi pauses in mid-chew, looking up towards his family. Even Taejoon is keeping his mouth shut, letting his brother have one moment of praise. “Thank you,” he mumbles around his food, resisting the urge to smile. This feels…. nice, he thinks.

His father lets out a sigh. “I know last time we saw you, things didn't end well, but I guess it was just all a misunderstanding—”

The sound of the door buzzing interrupts, and Yoongi pushes to his feet to let in his sudden guest. He’s not sure who would visit him at this time of day but he’s definitely not expecting Jimin, fully-clothed in skinny jeans, a long-sleeved hoodie and glasses. He’s holding a gift— something large and rectangular wrapped in vibrant blue paper.

Taking Yoongi’s hesitation as an invitation, he steps inside, dragging the object with him. “I hope you don't mind, but Jungkook asked Hoseok-hyung where you lived for me,” Jimin explains sheepishly. “I, uh, brought you something.”

Yoongi swallows thickly, eyeing the package. “Why? It's not my birthday.”

A soft blush blossoms across Jimin’s face underneath his thick black glasses. “I wanted you to know that I'm sorry if I've put you in a tough spot. I can be a little demanding, but I honestly meant what I said. I'm fine with things how they are.”

“I—” Yoongi stops himself, uncertain of what to say. He feels immense guilt over Jimin’s infatuation with him, and this present, whatever it may be, is only adding to the stress.

Hoisting the gift in his arms, Jimin moves towards the living room. “Look, let’s just open it and then we can talk.”

“Jimin, don't!”

But it's too late. Yoongi watches in abstract horror as Jimin walks in on his family enjoying their dinner. He stands in the doorway, numb, as their judgmental eyes fall upon the man.

“Oh, hello,” Jimin greets awkwardly, clutching the gift to his chest. “I didn't know you had company.” He looks back at Yoongi with wide eyes.

After a few terse moments, Yoongi’s mother dares to break the silence. “Hello, are you a friend of Yoongi’s?”

Jimin bows at his waist, cheeks burning bright red. “Yes, I'm Park Jimin and I came by to give this… gift… to Yoongi. I hope you don't mind the intrusion.”

“It's not a problem,” Yoongi’s father assures, inclining his head with respect. “Please don't mind us and allow Yoongi to open your gift.”

“Yes, please do,” Taejoon follows, smiling wickedly into his cup.

Yoongi makes his way into the room, taking the gift from a wide-eyed Jimin. He turns the package over in his hands, popping the pieces of tape with his thumbs. Slowly, he unwraps the shape, letting the paper fall to he floor. When his eyes fall upon the revealed gift, his heart skips a beat, not just because of the visual, but also because of the entire experience.

Staring down at the rose brushed onto the thick canvas, Yoongi can feel Hoseok in his hands. Oddly, the gift smells like him, like the heady cologne he wore mingled with a sheen of clean sweat. The canvas itself is smooth and slightly tan beneath Yoongi’s fingertips, mimicking Hoseok’s supple flesh. And the painting itself evokes emotions Yoongi wishes he had never felt, but he remembers all too clearly the rose on his back, now immortalized in this piece.

But perhaps the most startling part is the second rose underneath Yoongi’s— dark red and bleeding black at the tips of its petals. It's seductive, blossoming open wildly, but also dangerous with thorns and rough leaves.

Only one thing comes to mind when his eyes linger on that flower: Hoseok. The rose is Hoseok, tempting him with such dark beauty but ultimately harming him. Somewhere deep within him, invisible wounds fester and tear open.

The room is eerily silent as Yoongi looks over his gift; not even his family members dare to make a sound.

“Do you like it?” Jimin asks breathily after what seems like decades. “I bought it from Hoseok because it's beautiful,” he pauses, eyes shimmering, “like you.”

From the table, Yoongi’s mother lets out a small gasp and Jimin freezes, his eyes growing wide. He flushes with embarrassment, fidgeting on his feet but Yoongi feels strangely calm.

He feels oddly fearless in the wake of receiving Hoseok’s painting. Maybe it's because Yoongi is certain the other is trying to spite him with the artwork, knowing that Jimin cares for him. Hoseok probably assumed the painting would serve as a reminder of their past, but all Yoongi sees is a reminder why he could never belong to Hoseok even if he wanted to.

Across the room, Yoongi’s father clears his throat. “What a lovely painting. Jimin-ssi, you're quite the thoughtful friend.”

Nodding her head, Yoongi’s mother agrees, smiling tightly.

“More like boyfriend,” Taejoon adds sardonically, smirking.

His bold statement earns him a light slap upside his head from Yoongi’s bristling father. “Don't be ridiculous! He’s not—”

“He’s right.”

Everyone falls silent at Yoongi’s words. He can feel the eyes of his family burning into the side of his face, but all Yoongi can see is Jimin, standing in front of him with an awed expression.

The younger steps closer. “You don't have to do this,” Jimin whispers, and Yoongi can feel the anxiety rolling off of him in torrential waves.

For the first time in several months, Yoongi finally feels like himself, like he can breathe. He walks over to the wall and carefully places the painting against it before turning to lock eyes with Jimin once more.

“Taejoon is right,” Yoongi states, standing taller. “Jimin is….. Jimin is my boyfriend.”

It's strange, Yoongi thinks, how in this moment, he doesn't care about the reactions of his family. All he can see is Jimin, smiling brightly, a rose without thorns.

Finally, a flower that won't stain his skin or cut him open.

Chapter Text

“You don't love me, do you?” Jimin declares, watching Yoongi put the dinner dishes in his tiny stainless steel sink.

Yoongi pauses with a cup in his hand, thinking over the best way to respond.

His family is long gone, having immediately left after his confession. His father had turned cold and abrasive while his mother did say goodbye to both her son and Jimin with a resolute expression. Taejoon, of course, had a myriad of things to comment, but once he reached the front door, he turned around and Yoongi swore he smiled softly, looking at his brother without any trace of malice. For such a climactic moment, it was all over in less than ten minutes, leaving Jimin and Yoongi alone to clean up the aftermath.

“You don't love me,” Jimin repeats, keeping a safe distance. “So why did you tell them that we're dating?”

Yoongi laughs under his breath, placing the cup in the water. He pivots until he’s facing the younger man. “Because we are. Well, now we are anyway.”

“But you don't—”

Yoongi rushes to cut Jimin off. “No, I don't love you, but I should, right?” he retorts, immediately regretting his harsh tone. “You're good for me.”

Thumbing the hem of his hoodie, Jimin sighs. “I don't want to be your second choice,” he whispers to the ground.

“That didn't bother you before.”

Jimin whips his head up, gaping at Yoongi’s words. His eyes harden beneath his glasses, but Yoongi can still see the fire burning in them. “That was when it was my choice,” he explains. “That was back when it was just us in the club. But this…. Yoongi, you're using me as a distraction from your real pain. I'm just an excuse to get over this other guy and I'm sorry, but I can't be in a relationship with someone who imagines another guy when we’re together.”

Taken aback, Yoongi scoffs. “Are you serious? Then what was all that at the club? You didn't mind then. In fact, you were the one who suggested that I imagine Hoseok every time we kissed! That was all your idea! And what about all that shit about wanting me and waiting for me—”

“Hoseok?” Jimin’s defiant expression dies, replaced by a sorrow that makes Yoongi’s chest tighten, makes his head pulse with agony. “All this time, you wanted Hoseok?”

Yoongi falls silent, staring down the younger with a narrowed gaze. He doesn't quite understand why Jimin is refusing to play the part of his boyfriend. After all, the man had practically thrown himself onto Yoongi for weeks now, making him feel wanted and cared for when everything else was going to shit. In a perfect world, Yoongi should want someone like Jimin. In a perfect world, Yoongi wouldn't be such a disastrous fuck-up, but here he is.

Jimin’s face has crumpled now, and he parts his full lips to mouth the word “Hoseok” in disbelief. “I thought it was… anyone but him,” he whispers, blinking at the floor in shock. “But that night…. the lap dance…. you were staring right at him. I'm so stupid.”

Yoongi shakes his head in frustration, pushing past the other and into the living room where the table still sits close to the ground. “So what if Hoseok was watching us that night and I lost myself? It won't happen again. I'm done with that fucker. He only wanted to toy with me and keep Jungkook,” he spits, hearing Jimin follow him inside the space.

“Did you fuck him?” Jimin asks, voice low. He sounds so hollow, more so than he ever did at the club, even when recounting his harsh past.

Yoongi huffs, folding the dinner table in two. “No, but we did fuck around, and like an idiot I let him do what he wanted.”

Remaining quiet, Jimin walks over to the painting, still propped up against the wall. He stares at it for few moments before reaching out and running his fingers along the canvas. “He insisted on adding the second rose,” he finally adds, voice light and shrill like a ghost. “It took him a couple of days and Jungkook didn't understand why he couldn't focus on anything else but this. He wouldn't eat. He wouldn't sleep. He said it had to be perfect.”

Yoongi watches as Jimin takes a deep breath before turning around to hold the elder’s gaze.

“I think he's in love with you.”

Clenching his fists, Yoongi tries to remain calm. “No, he’s in love with the idea of me,” he corrects hotly. “He wants someone to be there when his dick is lonely, someone vulnerable, but I'm not that Yoongi anymore. I killed him a long time ago.”

Jimin cocks his head, lips parting to let out a soft huff. “Oh? Then who am I talking to?” he demands, hands on his hips. “If not Min Yoongi, then who?”

Opening his mouth to speak, Yoongi catches himself, thinking over the past few months. The dreams, the arguments, the desire, and the revelations. He can barely remember his old self now, an insomniac with a drinking problem who ran at the first sign of empathy. Never would he have accepted himself, confronted his family, and dared to open up to anyone and it was all because of—

Yoongi pales at the realization.

It was all because of Hoseok.

“That's what I thought. You're still Hoseok’s Yoongi,” Jimin replies softly, eyes downcast. “You've always been his, but I thought for one moment that—”

Yoongi rises to his feet, though his legs are shaking. He's suddenly exhausted, all the weight of the last few weeks breaking the surface and threatening to drag him down into the depths.

He doesn't want to belong to Hoseok. He never asked for it, never gave Hoseok permission to destroy him like this. Frowning, Yoongi realizes that Jimin must feel the same way about him, if the dancer’s tear-stained face and red-rimmed eyes are any indication.

“I told you that I'm like him, that you would end up being hurt,” Yoongi whispers, stepping closer to Jimin, his only true friend whose heart lay bleeding and bare in his hands.

Sniffling, Jimin adjusts his glasses. “You did. You tried to warn me and I kept pushing the issue,” he admits, but his face is still full of so much anger, so much resentment. Yoongi understands. “I just wanted you so badly…. Yoongi, I know I said I couldn't be the second choice but I—”

Yoongi is in front of Jimin within seconds, cradling his face. “No, Jimin, don't do this to yourself anymore,” he pleads. “You deserve so much better than me. You deserve someone that wants only you, can give you everything you need, and that's not me. You know that but it's hard to let go. Trust me, I know that so fucking well.”

Curling his fingers in Yoongi’s hair, Jimin tries to pull the other closer, barely brushing their lips together. Yoongi resists, trying to calm Jimin, but the dancer becomes hysterical.

“Yoongi, make love to me,” he begs, and Yoongi feels his own tears hot and heavy in his eyes. “I don't care if it's just for one night and I never see you again, just…. just make love to me and tell me I'm enough for you, for anyone.”

“Jimin, you're enough,” Yoongi breathes, lips ghosting over Jimin’s. He stares through the scuffed lenses of glasses into Jimin’s dark, watery eyes. “You're more than enough. I'm the one who’s not enough. I'm not enough for myself sometimes, so how can I be enough for you?”

“I need—”

Yoongi removes Jimin’s glasses and holds them carefully in his hand. “If you won't stop trying to sell yourself short, then I'll have to be the one to do it for you,” Yoongi explains calmly, though he feels his whole body begin to shake. He wipes a tear from Jimin’s rounded cheek. “Jimin, I don't love you and I can't love you but there is someone else out there who will and it won't hurt like this, I promise.”

Jimin flicks his perfect eyes up to Yoongi, tears clinging to his lashes. “You tell the sweetest lies,” he murmurs before drawing Yoongi in and kissing him thoroughly and slowly, melding their mouths together in harmony. He takes his time tasting Yoongi as if he's memorizing every detail, every small gasp, every brush of swollen flesh, everything that shouldn't and can't be.

Yoongi is hesitant to return the kiss, but he does, because this kiss is different; it's not a question, but a statement. Not a beginning, but an end, and if he's honest, it's Jimin who takes this time and Yoongi happily gives.

When it draws to an end, Jimin pulls back, licking Yoongi’s lips one final time before he's moving away towards the front door, his hands in his pockets and his glasses somehow perched back on his nose.

“I love you, Yoongi,” he whispers as he pauses in the open doorway, and it sounds different this time; Yoongi understands why.

“I love you too, Jimin.”

Then Jimin is gone, out the front door and probably out of Yoongi’s life, just like his family, just like everything he’s ever dared to want.

 

———-

It's late and Hoseok is perched in front of his window, watching as the street vendors close down their wares for the night. He's got a beer in his hand and heaviness in his heart.

This morning, Jungkook had pressed him about Yoongi, about the painting he sold to Jimin two weeks ago, and for a brief moment, Hoseok honestly believed that Jungkook knew.

It was the perfect opportunity to come clean, to finally be honest. It would hurt like a bitch, would destroy their relationship completely, and yet, when Hoseok opened his mouth, another person spoke in his place.

He asked for a blowjob and Jungkook gave it to him, right there in the kitchen, their breakfast still hot on the table. It was awkward and strangely tense, and Jungkook sucked and worked Hoseok over like he was trying to prove something to himself.

Maybe he was.

Hoseok will never know because he didn't ask, didn't speak once after he came down from his high. Then Jungkook packed his bag and left way too early and Hoseok didn't ask why regarding that either.

He spent the rest of the day lounging around the house, sitting in the dark, wondering why everything hurt, why nothing kept his interest. Around dinner time, Jungkook texted to say that he volunteered to work a longer shift today because Jimin was sick but he didn't say why he had been gone most of the day.

And Hoseok should've been alarmed, should've wanted an explanation, but the first thing he thought was that Yoongi would be alone. Yoongi wouldn't be at the club seeking Jimin’s comfort and Hoseok would be free from his own obligations.

Maybe it's the beer, he thinks, forehead against the cool glass of his window, but he really wants Yoongi right now. Not the complications, the drama, the excuses and explanations, but just Yoongi like he had him before.

There's another beer in his hand when he dials Taehyung’s number, another one as he finishes his shower and smoothes his hair back, but he leaves the alcohol behind when he shows up at the art studio just after midnight.

Taehyung already has everything set up, the paints and brushes fanned out on the tarp in an unusual manner. The man himself has his brown hair pulled back in a tiny ponytail that bobs on his head and he’s clothed in ratty jeans and an oversized black shirt. He smiles his signature boxy grin when his eyes land upon his elder.

“Tell me again why you want to do this?” Taehyung asks, though his voice rings with amusement.

Setting his bag down, Hoseok begins to unbutton his shirt and slide it off his shoulders. “Art.”

As if that explains everything, but Taehyung merely smiles and shakes his head.

“Alright, let’s do this.”

And so begins the arduous process of painting Hoseok’s entire body with yellow roses of various sizes. Taehyung is gentle and professional, furrowing his thick brows together in deep concentration as he works. Classical music filters through the speakers overhead and occasionally Taehyung sings along with the concertos, his deep voice filling the space warmly.

The younger has just begun to paint a spot near Hoseok’s inner thighs when he speaks for the first time. “You know, there was a time when we first met years ago that I would've killed for a moment like this,” he admits, a cheeky smile blooming over his tan visage.

Hoseok can't help but chuckle. “Oh? Was that when you had that huge crush on me?”

“Mmhmm,” Taehyung mumbles around the paintbrush in his mouth as he switches palettes. He pops it out before continuing. “I can't tell you how many times I thought of drawing or painting you. Damn, if my past self could see me now, face right in front of Jung Hoseok's crotch. People really do achieve their dreams.” He punctuates his statement with a chuckle, looking up to assure Hoseok that it's all good-natured.

A few moments pass by before Hoseok gets the courage to speak.

“Why me?”

Taehyung pauses, pursing his lips. “I dunno. You're so happy, I guess?” he tries, giggling anxiously. “Fun to be around. A good time. Like….. sunshine.”

“Why stop then?”

Taehyung really hesitates here, drawing his paintbrush back and coughing to clear his throat. “You, uh, stopped being those things.”

Stunned, Hoseok looks to the ceiling and feels a dark laugh rumble out of his chest. “So I've heard.” The slick sensation of paint on his skin alerts him to the fact that Taehyung has resumed his work. “People change, Tae.”

“No, people don't change. They just become who they really are.”

Neither of them dare to speak after that, but Taehyung looks unbothered by the conversation, carrying on with his work until Hoseok is covered in yellow roses, looking like some kind of earthen god in an ancient fresco.

As he packs up his paints, Taehyung eyes Hoseok looking himself over in the mirror. “I'm assuming you'll want the studio to yourself for a couple days?” he asks, eyes wide and a little too knowing for Hoseok’s tastes.

“Yeah.”

“Ok then,” Taehyung replies, gathering his things and heading towards the door. He stops, though, and Hoseok stares him down, daring him to expose the lie in all of this. “If it matters to you or not, I hope you figure things out, hyung. I hope that one day you can look in the mirror and finally be happy with who you see there.”

Hoseok swallows hard. “Me too.”

Taehyung leaves, flicking off the lights overhead. The music stops abruptly as well.

Hoseok dials a number he should've erased long ago. After the third ring, Yoongi picks up.

“Jimin told me the truth,” Hoseok breathes into the phone.

Silence, and then, “And? You feel bad about being an asshole?”

“Yes. But mostly, I want to know why you didn't correct me.”

“I shouldn't have to. Maybe you shouldn't assume I'm dicking down every guy I come across. I told you…. I'm not like that.”

Hoseok snorts sardonically. “How could I forget that you're a virgin?”

“And there you go being an asshole again. Go fuck yourself.”

“No! Yoongi, wait.” Hoseok is grasping the phone tighter now, breathing deeply. He closes his eyes, feels the air on his naked body, the paint clinging to his skin, still fresh. He wants a lot of things in this moment, things that are messy and hard to talk about. Things that require effort, bravery, and patience and he knows he’s broken enough and not capable of any of those things.

He just wants Yoongi.

“I want to touch you,” he admits, hearing Yoongi breathing steadily on the other line. “I want to feel you, Yoongi. I know you're scared and I am too, but I don't care about anything right now except you and me and nothing between us.”

There's static on the phone, possibly a little laughter, and Hoseok feels like his heart is going to burst out of his chest. He knows what he's asking of Yoongi is ridiculous, but why can't they just indulge in the fantasy once more? Why can't they go back to the beginning, when all there was was attraction and need and no one holding them back, including themselves?

“Are you drunk?” comes Yoongi’s reply. ”Because if you're suggesting that we ignore everything and fuck, then—”

“Make love,” Hoseok interrupts. He hears Yoongi suck in a deep breath. “I know it's stupid and cliche and everything that's ever occurred between us has been nothing but fucked up, but Yoongi…. let me make love to you. Right now.”

Holding his breath, Hoseok opens his eyes. He sees the art studio, dim and cold, moonlight spilling in from a window to his right. His reflection in the mirror stares back at him, asking him who he is, who he wants to be, and they're valid questions, but he doesn't want to answer them, not tonight. It hurts too much.

Yoongi coughs on the other end of the line, like he can't quite believe what he just heard, like he’s standing at the precipice of a cliff and isn't sure whether to jump or not. Finally, after what seems like ages, Yoongi speaks, and when he does, his voice is low, raspy.

“This doesn't solve anything. You still have a boyfriend that you won't let go of. I'll still be fucked-up and unreachable. You understand that, right? If this was going to work out, it already would've.”

There’s tears in Hoseok’s eyes now because he knows the truth when he hears it. Knows that no matter what, this wasn't meant to work, a flawed circumstance that should've been aborted from the moment it was conceived.

But here they are, slow dancing in a burning room while everything falls around them.

“I know,” he manages to choke out, hating that his voice is cracking with each syllable.

He'll probably never understand what Yoongi saw in him, if it was the same things Taehyung spoke of, or if it's the reality Jungkook knows, but Hoseok swears that he won't ever forget the pregnant pause he’s enduring now, listening to Yoongi breathe on the line.

His heart is racing, his soul is soaring, and he's never felt so alive and dead before, so many nerve endings attuned to the sound of Yoongi just existing.

“Where are you?”

“The studio.”

Another pause. Hoseok bites his lip.

“I'll be there.”

The line goes dead and Hoseok looks himself over in the mirror once more, smoothing his hands over the flowers covering his body, his offering to his patron god, a man named Min Yoongi.

Chapter Text

The door is unlocked.

Yoongi lets himself in, stepping into the studio with caution. He toes off his boots in the entryway and turns to shut the door with an audible “click”.

Honestly, he has no idea why he's here, why he agreed to Hoseok’s ridiculous offer. Maybe a part of him yearned for the younger again, the attention Hoseok lavished him with. Maybe he likes the slow simmering burn of whatever this was; maybe he’s a glutton for pain.

But somehow, in this moment, Yoongi feels oddly devoid of all those tumultuous feelings, as if he has taken Hoseok’s suggestion of suspending their disbeliefs about their relationship to heart. He had his doubts on the bus ride over here, but now that his feet have touched the ground, he can feel it.

It's as if time has stopped around him, the studio a strange place set aside from reality. The moment weighs heavy on him, but Yoongi tries in earnest not to panic. After all, he's just risking his heart once more, which he's become accustomed to, and he's decided to finally take the plunge and…..

Fuck.

Why does it have to be so embarrassing to lose your virginity like this? He's a grown fucking man, not some teenaged girl wearing her oppa’s school blazer—

His thoughts cease to function when he steps into the main space.

There must be dozens of candles surrounding him on every surface imaginable— tables, shelves, floors. They cast an eerie but warm light, wax dripping in soft trickles onto the surfaces beneath. They give an usual air to the room, the contrast reminding Yoongi of the finality of his actions.

Stunned, he breathes in and nearly laughs at Hoseok’s cleverness.

Roses.

The air is pungent with the smell of fresh roses.

The futon has been disassembled and just the mattress lies on the floor, surrounded by actual roses and it's then that Yoongi bursts out in raucous laughter.

“What the fuck is this?” he asks, his voice echoing off the walls. There's no Hoseok in sight, so he’s certain that he looks like an idiot talking to himself with such an absurd setup around him. If he's honest, it looks like a scene out of some cheesy tv drama or the set of a soft-core porno.

He giggles some more, moving into the space and leaning down over the mattress to run his hands over the petals scattered there. The flowers are dewy and soft and Yoongi feels like he's dreaming. This can't be real.

He, Min Yoongi, would never fall for tacky shit like this, would he? He's not a fucking woman, he’s—

Movement in the studio sends Yoongi’s heart racing despite his protests. He doesn't dare look behind him though, opting to crush a rose petal in his hand, feeling the texture give way to force.

“What? No wine, Seok? How are you supposed to get me to spread my legs?” he teases, grinning at the mattress.

“Yoongi.”

That single word, whispered in such a low register has Yoongi snapping his eyes up, staring at the wall opposite him. He swallows hard, rises to his feet, and then pivots until his eyes fall upon Hoseok, who is wrapped in a black silk robe, hair soft and curly, eyes on fire even in the dark.

For a moment, the sight reminds Yoongi of Jimin, but he quickly pushes down the thought, focusing on nothing but the man in front of him.

“I didn't think you would come,” Hoseok rasps out and his voice trembles. He seems nervous, like he's trying hard to hold himself together— or back.

Yoongi suddenly feels a creeping anxiety settle in his chest. He's here, with Hoseok, in the dead of the night, and he's about to make every one of those haunting dreams of his come true.

Holy shit.

“You sounded desperate,” Yoongi teases, trying to make his own voice sound level, unaffected. “Thought I'd shut you up.”

Hoseok smirks, and the very sight of it sends shivers down Yoongi’s spine. The silk robe shifts in the moonlight and Yoongi’s eyes fall to exposed collarbones, already shining with a sheen of sweat. He swears there's something dark marring Hoseok's skin but he can't quite place it, not with the lack of light.

“There it is,” the younger coos, slowly stepping forwards.

Grinning, Yoongi recognizes the words from one of their first encounters. He decides to play along because it's soothing the anxious churning of his stomach.

“You like it when I'm an asshole, huh? Well how about this: Fuck you Hoseok for thinking that I was lying to you. Fuck you for tonguing that child in front of me. Oh, and I heard you fucking him in the club like an animal,” he spits, mouth twisting up in distaste. “The only reason I haven't kicked your ass for it is because I know you were thinking of me and how much better I can take it.”

Delirious with words, Yoongi notes that he feels better after voicing his frustrations. He may have agreed to be here, to indulge in Hoseok once more, but damn, it had hurt when he watched the other kiss Jungkook. It still hurts and he dares to think that it would continue to hurt even if Hoseok left Jungkook.

At least he’ll never have to find out.

Hoseok stands a few feet away from him now, close but not nearly close enough. He looks up at Yoongi with wide eyes and lets out a heavy sigh. “I'm sorry. For that, for all of this,” he concedes. “I was thinking of you. I always think of you. No one could ever come close to what you give me, Yoongi. Is that what you want to hear?”

Scoffing, Yoongi nods, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jogger pants. “Yeah.” Now that he's vented, his anger fizzles out softly, preening at the younger’s words.

“Good,” Hoseok affirms, moving closer with a grace that Yoongi places as a trick of light. He stops just short of Yoongi and smiles softly. “I've been a bad man, haven't I?” His lips curl up mischievously and Yoongi steps back, bringing a hand to his mouth to stifle a laugh.

Was Hoseok being serious? Was there a script for this kind of shit?

“Seok, what the—”

Yoongi shuts his own mouth when Hoseok reaches for his robe and shimmies it off his shoulders, stepping into the moonlight radiating from the window. The younger peels the fabric off slowly, revealing his flesh covered in what appears to be painted roses.

Yoongi forgets how to breathe, entranced by the sight in front of him. Hoseok is nearly bare now, the silk pooling around his waist until he tugs at the tie and the entire robe comes undone, slinking down his body until everything is exposed— every toned muscle, every expanse of soft caramel flesh, every little yellow rose.

It's so…. erotic and seductive, like Hoseok marked himself up, put Yoongi’s claim all over his body. The flowers are exquisite and well-done, but Yoongi doesn't recognize the artistry.

Clearing his throat, Yoongi tugs the sleeves of his hoodie over his hands. “Who put them there?”

“Taehyung.”

Ah, yes, Taehyung. Yoongi briefly remembers his drunken encounter with the man— his deep voice, attentive eyes, and soft hands. He suddenly feels jealousy burn hot and heavy in his gut, something far worse than when he had witnessed Hoseok merely kiss Jungkook.

It's inexplicable but he can't control it.

It must show on his face because Hoseok chuckles and reaches for him, pulling Yoongi into the moonlight. “How does it feel, knowing I asked another man to mark me for you?”

Yoongi looks up at the younger, narrowing his eyes. The statement sets his blood alight and he suddenly wants to touch, wants to feel Hoseok beneath his fingertips. With a curious hand, he lightly presses down on the flesh of Hoseok’s toned chest, trailing his fingers down over his abs, stopping just short of his pelvis. He lets his hand linger there however, right over a rose that feels slightly tacky to the touch.

“I would've done it,” he rasps out, stroking over the flower. Hoseok hums in response. “You should've asked me.”

Petulant, but it's what he's feeling.

Grabbing Yoongi’s wrist, Hoseok gently guides the elder’s hand lower until Yoongi is cupping Hoseok in his palm. The flesh is warm and quickly stirring to life with desire. “Your talent lies elsewhere,” he purrs, and Yoongi can't bring himself to look up; his cheeks burn with the words.

He feels small again. It happens every time with Hoseok and he nearly curses when he realizes that he never felt this way with Jimin, not once. He's not sure what it means or if it's supposed to feel this way, but he does know that with each passing moment his head becomes a little lighter, his voice softer. It's as if his body is waiting for Hoseok, feeding off his responses and Yoongi is equal parts terrified and allured.

Hoseok is now completely stiff, heavy and twitching in Yoongi’s palm. Swallowing down his fear, Yoongi begins to move his hand, begins to stroke and tease and Hoseok groans while his eyes flutter shut.

“Yoongi,” the younger whispers breathily, reaching up to clamp a hand on Yoongi's shoulder to steady himself. His thighs are already flexing with stimulation but the elder is enraptured by Hoseok’s facial expressions.

He knows they came here to forget, but Yoongi can't. The next words out of his mouth flow unbidden.

“Does he make you feel like this?”

Hoseok’s eyes fly open and he glares down at Yoongi. “I thought we agreed—”

Flexing his wrist, Yoongi effectively silences Hoseok with a harsh tug on his length. “I think I deserve some answers,” he retorts. “Am I as good as him? Do you wish I had more experience?”

“Yoongi—”

“Answer me.” Another harsh squeeze, all the way to the tip and back down.

Hoseok looks like he might pass out. “It's hard to compare,” he pants, gripping Yoongi’s shoulder roughly. “You haven't fucked or blown—”

Yoongi lets go, leaves Hoseok hard and aching and blinking at him owlishly. The younger opens his mouth to speak but Yoongi just shakes his head and grabs for Hoseok, pushing the man down onto the bed.

Bouncing on the mattress, Hoseok looks alarmed and tries to scoot into the middle as Yoongi levels his harsh gaze onto him. “Yoongi…” his voice trails off just as the elder crawls onto the bed, over those damn rose petals and hovers above Hoseok’s crotch.

Yoongi swallows hard and curses, collecting himself amidst the anxiety of what he's about to do. It's stupid, really, because he has nothing to prove to anyone and he shouldn't even care but he hates the thought of Hoseok wanting more from somebody who isn't him.

As if sensing his turmoil, Hoseok leans over and gently grasps Yoongi's chin, lifting the elder’s gaze. “Hey. I've got you,” he whispers with a soft smile.

All of Yoongi’s apprehension melts away and he lets Hoseok open his jaw, lets the younger pull his face forward until his mouth is being filled with Hoseok, musky and salty on his tongue.

Oh, so this is what it's like.

Yoongi’s first blow job happened at a college party and he was nearly blackout drunk but the girl did have a pretty face. But even at the end of it, he felt bad because who wants a dick in their mouth?

Apparently him, because as soon as he hears Hoseok’s breath stutter, hears him utter “Fuck” over and over, Yoongi comes alive, pushing past all the awkwardness until he's suckling Hoseok, occasionally pulling back to lick at the swollen flesh like a kitten.

Hoseok’s hand is in his hair now, twisting into his dark locks, and Yoongi does whatever he can to make that grip tighten, Hoseok’s thighs flexing and jumping the more eager Yoongi becomes.

“Slow down,” Hoseok breathes out over a grunt, and Yoongi looks up to peer at him with his mouth still full. “Don't want to come yet…”

Yoongi understands, but what is he supposed to do now? Suddenly, he feels so awkward and stupid that he nearly pulls away and threatens to leave, but then Hoseok’s fingers are brushing his cheek, ghosting over his lips wrapped around flesh and Yoongi feels it happening, more conscious this time.

He's becoming small again; that's the only way he can describe it.

“Open up,” Hoseok insists and Yoongi follows, opening his mouth and letting Hoseok rut his hips into him, sliding his hot length over his tongue repeatedly. The younger doesn't try to gag him, instead, he looks content with just feeling himself in Yoongi's mouth. “Suck just a little and run your tongue along the underside.”

Wrapping his lips more firmly this time, Yoongi does as instructed, savoring the wet slide of Hoseok slipping past his lips as he makes as little suction as necessary. The results are instantaneous; Hoseok is moaning, head thrown back, legs open with his heels digging into the mattress.

“Good boy,” Hoseok rasps out, voice shaking. He looks drugged, head lolling to the side as his mouth gapes open. “Mmmm, my good baby boy.”

Yoongi freezes, eyes widening. This is…. wrong? He's older, he's the hyung, he’s—-

Hoseok’s eyes flutter open and he licks his lips in the lewdest manner, sliding his saliva around until his mouth is glossy. “Baby boy, come kiss me. Now.”

Crawling forward, Yoongi leaves Hoseok’s length throbbing and flushed but he can't seem to care, not when Hoseok is demanding of him, urging him forward. He reaches the younger and crashes their lips together, swallowing Hoseok’s moans and tasting the other thoroughly.

A hand comes up to spank Yoongi’s ass, and the elder pulls away from their heated kiss with wide eyes, gasping for breath. His head is foggy, heavy on his shoulders and his heart rate is increasing with each second. And fuck, he's so hard in his pants, so hard that's it's actually quite painful. He can't remember the last time he was this agonizingly aroused.

“What the fuck is wrong with me?” he breathes against Hoseok’s neck, trying to calm himself.

Laughing, Hoseok rubs circles through his t-shirt, soothing Yoongi. “What part got to you?” he asks softly, but Yoongi can hear the younger’s heart thundering just as hard in his chest.

He really doesn't want to admit it, but his fear outweighs his embarrassment. He wants to understand what he's feeling.

“You called me…”

“Baby boy?” Hoseok finishes for him, letting out a dark laugh. “Yeah, that's new for me too…. Do you want me to stop? If it makes you uncomfortable—”

Yoongi groans, feeling himself pulse in his pants. “Fuck, Seok, don't stop. Say it again.” He squeezes his eyes shut and feels Hoseok lips at his ear, hot breath fanning out over his skin.

“Baby boy.”

Shit.”

“My little baby boy. So good in my lap. So good with his mouth.”

Yoongi is shaking now but he can't control it. If he's honest with himself, he likes this, likes the feel of Hoseok’s arms around him, the feeling of the slight loss of control.

It's exactly like his dreams. The very thing that had terrified him so much before, but here is, craving more.

Hoseok is at his ear again, kissing the shell before pulling back to nibble. “I'm going to fill you up now, baby boy.”

It's not a question. Hoseok’s not asking for permission but Yoongi feels free, feels like this may be the only moment in his life where everything is his choice, his desire, and even though it may be fleeting, he intends to hold onto it for as long as possible.

———-

To his credit, Yoongi is taking their encounter in perfect strides, soft and pliant beneath Hoseok, watching the younger with hungry eyes.

The elder is finally nude, sprawled out on the mattress like a sacrificial offering, looking up at Hoseok through heavy-lidded eyes. Breathing softly, Yoongi allows himself to be prepped, squirming only minimally as Hoseok moves his fingers into him, warm and slick with lube. He only grunts occasionally when Hoseok assumes the stretch might be a little too much, but the younger merely hushes him, lets Yoongi drag his long fingers down his chest as he adjusts to the feeling.

Hoseok doesn't have to ask if the other is alright; Yoongi would say something if he wasn't, would let Hoseok know if he's gone too far. They don't really speak as Hoseok leads them both through the stages of intimacy, through the initial searing kisses along each of their bodies, the frantic gasping as Hoseok finally loosens Yoongi up both physically and mentally, right up until the moment that Yoongi looks into the younger's eyes and nods so subtly that Hoseok is tempted to believe he imagined it.

When Hoseok had told the elder that he wanted to make love to him, he hadn't lied. Of all the things to fall from his lips in the last few months, this was the only truth. That first messy time in this very place had felt like heaven, like a sweet dream coaxed from him during a lazy afternoon nap, but this feels heady and consuming, like a strange rite of passage. He knows he'll never be the same after this, but neither will Yoongi.

Yoongi is trembling beneath him now, fidgeting with the sheet covering the mattress, with his hair, with the roses painted on Hoseok’s skin. He's nervous, but not nearly as anxious as Hoseok.

He's never made love to anyone before. Sure, he's fucked and fooled around, but he's never felt like this, like he wants to tell Yoongi the story of his life with his body, wants to feel the elder from the inside out. Wants to cut himself open and watch Yoongi lave the wound, seal it up, make it better.

The three flower shops in a two-block radius probably thought Hoseok was insane, gathering up roses by the dozen. The gift shop lady had to go all the way to the backroom to find the amount of rose-scented candles he requested and Seokjin had tried to pull information out of him when he had asked to use his hyung’s car.

Maybe Hoseok is going insane; maybe he likes it just a little too much. But seeing Yoongi like this-

“Seok,” Yoongi breathes, cheeks flushing crimson against his pale skin. The candlelight dances over his features, making him appear young and so soft. Hoseok is reminded of his temptations, of his desire to curl Yoongi up inside himself and never let go.

“Baby boy,” he replies, leaning down to kiss Yoongi's chest before suckling on the soft flesh right above a cluster of marks he left previously. The way the elder curses softly at the words sets Hoseok on fire, causing a lascivious grin to spread over his face.

This should be alarming too; Hoseok has never engaged in this kind of kink with anyone else, including Jungkook, who would actually fit that perception quite nicely given his younger age. But Yoongi…. Fuck, Yoongi was slim and lithe, soft and sweet when vulnerable, and it wasn't so much sexual as instinctive. Hoseok wanted to take control and Yoongi wanted to be set free and it just worked.

Yoongi runs a hand down Hoseok’s stomach and lightly gives the younger a quick squeeze along his length between two fingers, base to tip. “You gonna stare all night or fuck me?” he teases, though his breathy voice betrays his guile.

Feeling a witty retort perch in his tongue, Hoseok surprises himself by letting out a heavy sigh instead. He brings a hand up to run over Yoongi’s throat, watching in awe as the elder throws his head back and bares his neck as if it's the easiest thing in the world.

How did it come to this? Where in Hoseok's life did he go right to end up in this moment, with this beautiful man beneath him?

“Do you trust me?” he suddenly asks, curling his fingers around Yoongi’s throat, applying gentle pressure.

Yoongi doesn't answer verbally, just stares unblinking into Hoseok’s eyes as he ruts his pelvis up into Hoseok’s abs, dragging his sticky length over the muscle there.

It's enough, this subtle submission in answer, and Hoseok leans back completely and grabs a condom off the floor next to the discarded tube of lube. Before he can rip the package open, Yoongi grabs his wrist.

“Do you use one with him?”

Hoseok gapes and stutters. “No…. I know him well enough—”

“You know me better,” Yoongi retorts, grabbing the condom and flicking it to the floor. His once soft features are now sharp with annoyance and he challenges Hoseok with a quirk of his brow. “Don't insult me, Hoseok. If you want me, then have me.”

Sitting on his haunches, all Hoseok can do is stare incredulously, watching Yoongi filter his emotions through the candlelight. He knew the elder was jealous of Jungkook, but this was outright indignation. It makes Hoseok feel so guilty, like he wants to prove to Yoongi wrong, that he’s not some kind of greedy monster that plays with people’s hearts, but they both know the truth.

He chooses to ignore it.

“Yoongi, you don't know much about me. Are you sure?”

“I know that you love me,” Yoongi retorts, pouting slightly. He turns his gaze away but Hoseok grasps his chin and forces him to look back into his eyes.

“I do,” Hoseok assures, grip tightening marginally. “Is this how you want me, baby boy? Want me to take you bare?”

Letting out a shuddering breath, Yoongi relaxes noticeably, eyes glazing over. He nods lazily, humming his agreement deep in his chest. His slim legs part in an invitation as his eyes flutter.

Hoseok acquiesces, pulling Yoongi’s thighs up and sliding into him like it's nothing, blinking away the shock at how well they fit together as Yoongi’s legs wrap around his waist and the elder pulls him close.

Yoongi scratches his nails down Hoseok’s back, blunt and tingling as he lets out a groan and screws his eyes shut. Swearing softly under his breath, his lips fall open, trembling slightly.

“Shit, Seok, how…. why…. feels….” the elder trails off as his brows furrow together. He flexes his hips up and then shakes, Hoseok’s length brushing against something deep inside of him that has never been awakened before. He lets out a low whistle and sighs. “Wow.”

“Is it good?” Hoseok can't help but tease, sliding out just a little before pushing back inside slowly. He feels a little resistance, but he rolls his hips up and at an angle that he knows will catch that spot deep inside.

Gasping, Yoongi drags his nails so quickly down Hoseok’s back that the younger actually feels the skin break, blood welling to the surface, and he curses, doubling over and nearly falling on top of the elder. He catches himself, however, and then he's staring right into Yoongi’s dark, alluring eyes.

Flicking his feline gaze to Hoseok’s mouth, Yoongi cranes his neck up and licks Hoseok’s lips, flicking the tip of his tongue against the flesh before pulling back and grinning a gummy smile. His eyes crinkle up into little half-moons and Hoseok has the sudden urge to stop the cuteness before he wants more of Yoongi than just this night will afford.

So he shuts the elder up by snapping his hips and finally burrowing deeper inside of Yoongi, drawing out sweet moans and little hiccups of pleasure from the man. Yoongi’s hands find his hair and he twists Hoseok’s curly locks roughly, biting his lips as his body takes the abuse easily.

They move like that for some time, Hoseok thrusting languidly, circling his hips to hit the right spot every time, Yoongi panting and trying to move in time with Hoseok. The sound of flesh meeting obscenely rings out in the perfumed air, mingling with the low rumbling of a thunderstorm threatening to spill over Seoul.

They're both covered in sweat now, their slick chests rubbing together, hot breath stifling even in the large room. Hoseok tucks his head into Yoongi’s shoulder as he moves and he feels Yoongi tense beneath him. He knows he's going slow intentionally to let the elder adjust, but it's so hard to control his need. He can't just treat this man like an object to get off; he wants Yoongi’s pleasure to come first but it's quickly becoming maddening.

“Baby boy,” he rasps into Yoongi’s neck. “I need more. You're so perfect. You were made for me.”

He feels Yoongi’s hands slide down his back, over his waist to softly palm at his ass, kneading the muscle slowly. The elder lets out a small chuckle and turns his head until his lips meet Hoseok’s ear.

“Take what you want.”

Hoseok’s lips twitch in satisfaction and sits up abruptly, dislodging Yoongi’s legs wrapped around his waist. He’s wordless as he disentangles himself from the elder, Yoongi staring up at him with bewilderment, and Hoseok positions Yoongi onto his side, sliding in behind him until he’s spooning Yoongi.

If Yoongi is hesitant, he doesn't voice as much, and Hoseok is quick to make sure there's no room for confusion, aligning their pelvises and pressing his stiff crotch against Yoongi’s ass. Then he’s winding a hand around Yoongi’s top-most leg and hiking it up, holding it in the air as Yoongi lets out a huff of satisfaction.

It's like that that Hoseok slides back in and the new angle causes both of them to groan at the sensation. Everything is infinitely tighter and hot, and the sounds their bodies make colliding together nearly drowns out the rain beating against the windows.

Yoongi reaches back and grabs Hoseok by the back of the head, urging the younger to put his mouth on his neck sloppily. When Hoseok's lips meet the column of his throat, the elder curses and pushes back against Hoseok, seeking friction.

Smiling into Yoongi’s skin, Hoseok bites him, sucking hard after each nip and he thrusts quicker, gradually picking up speed as the position allows, still holding Yoongi’s leg up and spreading the elder’s ass wider to take Hoseok deeper.

Yoongi’s free hand skitters across the bed, grasping at anything as his head tips back onto Hoseok’s shoulder, moaning deeply in his chest. Hoseok watches that hand with perverse satisfaction as the veins pop and rustle as Yoongi tries to anchor himself to the mattress against the wave of pleasure engulfing them both.

Hoseok whispers low in his throat. “Touch yourself for me, baby boy. Touch yourself like you did that night on the phone, thinking about what I could do to you, how I'm the only man that can make you feel so damn good.”

Letting out a small groan, Yoongi is quick to grab himself, stroking intently and thumbing over his tip every time Hoseok bottoms out within him. He whispers Hoseok's name reverently, tugging, and his length begins to shine in the candlelight as he drips down his shaft.

Thunder crashes outside, and the room lights up with blinding white as lightning strikes outside, illuminating the two men tangled up in each other, rutting hot and heavy in the near dark.

“Seok,” Yoongi whines, fingers still teasing himself. He presses himself flush against Hoseok and begins to pant heavily, breath stuttering out.

Hoseok can feel the tension in the elder’s body, how Yoongi is pulsing around him, how the hand in Hoseok’s hair is flexing and scraping against his scalp. He decides to place one last lingering kiss on Yoongi’s neck, breathing deeply as he feels his desire swell deep within him and then everything crashes down all at once— Yoongi is spilling over his hand and onto the sheets, choking on his stuttered moans, and Hoseok pushes his hips flush with Yoongi as he reaches his climax, buried to the hilt.

Lightning flashes once more as Hoseok’s vision whites out, stilling his body as the sensation becomes too much, Yoongi quivering against him. Once his vision returns, he reaches over and pulls Yoongi’s sweaty hair back from his eyes, dropping the elder’s leg back to the mattress.

Yoongi is spineless and limp in his arms but he looks so fucking happy, blinking up at the ceiling in a stupor. Hoseok feels pride upon seeing the expression, knowing he put it there, and that Yoongi’s first time had been so fulfilling.

Carefully, he extricates himself from the elder who rolls over onto his stomach and breathes deeply. His ass is reddened from abuse and his back, neck, and torso are littered with love bites and small scratches. Hoseok has the sudden urge to mark Yoongi once more, so he leans over and bites the swell of flesh just above the elder’s ass, right where his back divots out and his waists slims. Yoongi whimpers and curses, mouthing at the mattress like the stimulation is too much.

Chuckling to himself, Hoseok stumbles off the bed and makes his way towards the bathroom with the intent on cleaning the both of them up. He stretches as he walks, grinning from ear to ear and not minding the quickly cooling sweat he can feel clinging to his body.

His high quickly dissipates however, as he steps into a puddle of water. Grimacing, he lifts his bare foot and looks up into the dark foyer with apprehension. Another step forward finds another puddle, and Hoseok follows the trail with a quickly beating heart.

When he rounds the corner into the small kitchenette, there's a figure sitting by the table. Hoseok doesn't need much light to see the tears streaming down Jungkook's livid face.

“Did you enjoy yourself, Seokie?”

Chapter Text

Hoseok is frozen in place, his body clammy with sweat, unable to look away from Jungkook. Outside, the rain intensifies, the drops pounding against the windowpanes in heavy sheets.

“How?”

Hoseok’s question comes out as a strangled puff of air. His mind is reeling, trying to process all the sensory information at once, but he strangely chooses to fixate on his nakedness and the way Jungkook’s lips are set in a grim line. He fidgets on his bare feet.

“It was unlocked. I got home early and your text didn't make sense,” Jungkook replies coolly. He's leaned back in the kitchen chair, hands playing with a worn takeout menu that Taehyung probably left out. “Jin-hyung never asks you to teach workshops this early, even in different cities. So I decided to check the studio, just in case. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect.”

Swallowing, Hoseok opens his mouth to speak, to say something, but Jungkook laughs darkly, his red-rimmed eyes glistening with tears. The younger looks up with a strained smirk.

“It was all that, plus I decided to be a good boyfriend and tidy up that wreck of a home office for you as a surprise,” Jungkook continues, leaning over to grab something off the floor near his feet. He tosses what appears to be fabric onto the table and in the remaining candlelight, Hoseok can clearly see the paint-splattered shirt stained with several long-fingered handprints down the front. Some of the shapes are complete, while others are evidence of someone gripping onto the shirt with urgency.

He remembers that shirt. He remembers that night, his first kiss with Yoongi. After he had gotten home, he was tempted to throw the shirt in the wash, but against all rationale, he kept it.

Because he's a sick bastard.

“Look familiar?”

“Kook, I—”

Hoseok can only stare helplessly as Jungkook raises a hand to silence him before the younger takes the shirt in his hands and stares at the fabric intently, worrying it with aggressive fingers. “I've seen this paint before, these colors,” he states. “Once on your neck when you came home late and once on Yoongi-hyung’s neck. These aren't your handprints, are they, Seok?”

Trapped, Hoseok tries his best to blink away his tears. His head is throbbing and he can hear his heart pulsing in his ears. “No,” he admits, voice shaking and breathy.

Jungkook looks up at him then and the betrayal in his eyes becomes a physical pain in Hoseok’s chest, a quickly deepening cut that burns the longer the younger stares at him. It should feel good to tell the truth, but it doesn't. It hurts because it hurts the other, and in his twisted state of mind, Hoseok was honestly trying to protect his boyfriend from the truth.

“How long?”

“Uh, how long what?”

Hoseok feels stupid the moment the question leaves his lips, but his brain is nothing more than a puddle of firing neurons that won't cooperate with him and he's still very much naked, the air kissing his sweat-slicked skin. He cups himself to cover his nudity, but Jungkook doesn't seem to care.

“How long have you been fucking him, Hoseok?” his boyfriend spits, momentarily losing his careful composure. His deep brown eyes are nearly black in the candlelight and so glassy that Hoseok can see himself reflected there, how absolutely pathetic he looks.

Attaching himself to the question, Hoseok focuses on his breaths, chest tightening with each second that ticks by. “Just tonight, I swear—”

Jungkook rounds the table and finally snaps, pushing Hoseok back with two strong palms to the chest. “But you've touched him before that, didn't you? Kissed him? Told him that you wanted him?” he screams, voice bouncing off the walls. “This entire time you've been fucking around with him and coming home to me like nothing has happened! What the fuck is wrong with you?”

Bringing up his hands to defend himself, Hoseok tries to backpedal, but Jungkook follows him, gesturing wildly, eyes furious. “Kook, calm down, please—”

“Calm down? Calm down? I just walked in on you fucking another man, with candles and flowers and shit, and you want me to calm down? And what the fuck is painted all over your body?”

“I'm sorry, Kook, I'm so sorry—”

Jungkook is nearly on him now, and Hoseok stumbles back as his feet fumble over a stack of sketchbooks on the floor. He catches himself, just in time to watch Jungkook’s shaking hand wrap itself around the glass container of a burnt-out candle. The younger throws it against the wall, screaming in frustration. The candle shatters in chunks and falls to the ground, the semi-soft wax trying to pool onto the floor like lava. Jungkook collapses against the nearest wall, gripping the plaster, and he finally breaks down, sobbing so intensely that Hoseok soon follows, feeling his eyes flood with hot, burning saltwater.

“I'm so sorry,” he mumbles through the cascade of tears flowing down his face, cresting over his cheeks and down to his chin. “It wasn't supposed to happen like this. Fuck, I'm so so sorry!”

Jungkook tries to laugh, but the sound is swallowed up by his cries of grief and Hoseok feels the urge to rush over and hug him, hold the younger against his body just as he had the very first night they met. The thought sobers him instantly, causes every fiber of his being to ache with such tormenting guilt that he falls to his knees, cradling his head in his hands.

His boyfriend is beating a fist against the wall, shoulders trembling, and all Hoseok can hear in his ringing ears is the sound of pure anguish falling out of Jungkook's mouth.

That is, until he hears a body shuffle up behind him and into the small kitchenette.

“Seok?”

Yoongi looks half-asleep, his boxers hanging low on his hips, hair a complete mess. His eyes widen at the sight in front of him and he lets out a slew of curses that instantly attract Jungkook’s attention.

Whipping his head in Yoongi’s direction, Jungkook springs to his feet, a feral look in his eyes. “Well, well,” he coos sardonically, stopping a few feet away from the elder. “The princess has finally woken up. Did you enjoy fucking my boyfriend?”

Hoseok tries to shoo Yoongi away, not wanting his lover to see him in this state and be subjected to Jungkook’s wrath, but just as he pleads for Yoongi to leave, the elder steps into the space, eyes narrowed in annoyance.

“I don't know, why don't you tell me?” he snarls, and to Hoseok's complete horror, Yoongi turns around and pulls down his boxers, revealing the bruising love bite that Hoseok had just given him, along with a trickle of cum shining around his ass and part way onto his thighs. He pulls his underwear back up and turns around, smirking in a cocky manner that Hoseok has come to associate with a drunken version of Yoongi.

Jungkook hisses, bolting forward, but Hoseok grabs for the younger’s legs and trips him, pulling Jungkook to the ground with a startled yelp. He wraps his body around Jungkook, trying to contain his rage. The younger thrashes and spews expletives at Yoongi and the elder responds just as vehemently, giving just as good as he gets.

“Stop!” Hoseok screams over the chaos, eyes blurry and stinging with tears. For a brief moment, he honestly believes that Jungkook will kill Yoongi and that the elder won't have enough sense to walk away from the confrontation should it turn physical. “Stop! Just fucking stop!”

“I'm going to break you,” Jungkook spits at Yoongi, muscles flexing against Hoseok’s quickly weakening hold.

“Let’s see you try, kid,” Yoongi taunts, flipping the middle finger and bowing out his small chest. He looks more indignant than Hoseok has ever seen him before, eyes an eerie black, skin marked up and on display and it's not the first time Hoseok has likened him to a seductive god. Now, though, he's the god of chaos.

In a split second, Jungkook breaks from his hold, and then he’s lunging at Yoongi, fist clenched, biceps bulging, and all Hoseok thinks is that he can't let this happen. He can't let Yoongi get hurt for his recklessness. He was at fault here. He was to blame for all of this.

With all the strength he can conjure, Hoseok launches his body across the floor and tackles Yoongi, falling to the ground and hovering above the elder just as Jungkook's fist connects with his back. He screams out in pain, buckling and collapsing on top of Yoongi.

“Seok!” Jungkook shouts, dropping to his knees, and pulling Hoseok off of Yoongi. “You stupid motherfucker! Why did you jump in front of him?”

Despite the pain racing up his spine, Hoseok manages to form a coherent thought. “This is my fault, Kook,” he forces out. “I'm the one who cheated on you! Hurt me!”

“I know that!” Jungkook is a complete wreck now, trembling and sobbing, face swollen and red. “I know that! I just….. Why? What's wrong with me? What did I do wrong? Why him?”

Hoseok grunts against his throbbing back as he turns to face Jungkook, instantly ashamed at the torment he finds there. In this moment, he thinks— finally and truly thinks— about why he cheated on Jungkook. Why this man wasn't enough for him, why he chose to hurt him this way instead of cutting it off earlier. And the most terrifying realization creeps upon him.

That maybe, just maybe, there wasn't a good excuse to leave Jungkook and maybe there's not a good excuse to leave Yoongi. What if Hoseok had been right, all those weeks ago, when he confessed to Yoongi that he was afraid that he would never be satisfied? What if a thousand Yoongi’s and Jungkook’s and awards and recognition could never satisfy him?

And what if…. What if he's been aware of this flaw for awhile and he chose to ignore it? Chose to pursue relationships that he knew would end up absolutely destroying the other person? And just because he called it “Love” doesn't make it right, or true, or any less painful.

Hoseok sucks in a deep breath, strangely aware of the moment, of just how depraved he is. “Nothing. You did nothing wrong,” he assures, trying to reach out for the younger. Jungkook flinches away from the touch. “You're perfect.”

The way Jungkook looks at him is painfully familiar.

“I don't usually do this,” Jungkook confesses, standing on the doorstep as Hoseok unlocks his apartment door. The dancer shifts nervously around in his timbs and dark denim, hugging an oversized hoodie to his frame.

Hoseok thinks the other looks far younger now that he's got him out of the club and out of those tiny shorts, and really, he should be concerned that he’s got a fresh eighteen year old looking at him that way, but….

Hoseok wants what he wants, and tonight he wants Jungkook.

Stepping into the space, Hoseok flips on the lights and offers the younger a drink, but Jungkook just shakes his head and awkwardly stands by the table.

“You live alone?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool.”

Hoseok can't help but laugh. Is this really the same guy that gave him two filthy lap dances and has been practically fucking the elder with his eyes every chance he gets? Who is this kid in his kitchen, fiddling with his beanie and swallowing nervously?

“Hey, we don't have to do anything if you don't want to,” Hoseok assures, but he’s still rock hard in his pants from Jungkook teasing him earlier and to be honest, he would be kind of irritated if the dancer rejected him now.

The aggressive thought startles him for a moment, but he shakes it away.

Jungkook laughs, bunny teeth flashing, and levels a serious gaze on Hoseok. “What? Do you think I'm nervous or something? I know what I'm doing…”

“Do you?” Hoseok cocks his head, challenging.

There's something that sparks in Jungkook's eyes, some flash of doubt, of insecurity, and Hoseok is suddenly moving across the kitchen. He comes to stand before the younger and looks into his eyes.

“What is it?” he prompts gently, noticing the way Jungkook avoids his questioning eyes. Slowly, Hoseok brings his hand up and cups the younger’s cheek, feeling the youth there in the form of supple skin and fading acne scars.

Jungkook holds his gaze before letting out a breath. His chocolate eyes flick down to Hoseok’s mouth. “What if I'm not enough for you?” he whispers, lips quivering ever so subtly.

“You're perfect,” Hoseok whispers back, drawing Jungkook into a kiss so sweet and soft that the younger sighs against his lips, and for a brief moment, Hoseok actually believes the words falling from his mouth.

It's the truth. Jungkook is the perfect man, just not for him.

And maybe it's cruel, maybe it's fate, maybe Hoseok has just fucked up the single best thing he'll ever have in his life, and it's a bitter pill to realize that he'll never know which is which.

Seething, Jungkook shoots a glare towards Yoongi. “You called him perfect too.”

“He is.” Hoseok feels the words leave his lips and they're just as true as when had said them in regards to Jungkook. Both men were attractive, independent, talented, and strong. How could one be right for Hoseok and the other mean little more to him as a fond memory in the past? Who decides?

His words elicit more anger from Jungkook and before the younger tries to assault Yoongi again, Hoseok demands that the elder leave, turning to Yoongi with pleading eyes.

“Why do I have to leave?” Yoongi complains, jaw set tight, knuckles clenched as he lays still sprawled out on the floor. “He's the one who showed up uninvited.”

“Because I don't want you getting hur—”

“Because you're the mistress, baby boy!” Jungkook shouts over Hoseok, but the insult is less vindictive and more anguished, as the younger lashes out in pain.

Yoongi rises to his feet, lips pursing. “Don't talk to me that way, you little shit.”

Laughing, Jungkook digs around in his sweatpants until he produces a leather wallet. He makes a show of pulling out a wad of won and throwing it at the elder. “There, take the money and leave!”

Yoongi scoffs in disbelief at the cash flittering through the air. “What the fuck is this?”

“Oh, I'm sorry,” Jungkook begins with a sadistic grin. “I thought you would be used to the idea of fucking for money since you've spent so much time with Jimin.”

Hoseok watches the entire exchange, but the moment he hears those words from his boyfriend, he knows things have escalated to the point of no return.

“Kook, please stop! You're only saying things like that because you're upset!”

“Keep his goddamn name out of your mouth!” Yoongi yells, veins popping out along his neck. “Don't ever fucking talk about Jimin like that!”

“What are you going to do about it? Headbutt me in the knees?”

“I'll wipe that fucking grin off your face—”

”YOONGI, LEAVE!”

Both his lover and his boyfriend startle at Hoseok’s booming tone, still echoing in the space. Yoongi looks at him incredulously, but Hoseok is determined to break the two up before someone gets hurt, and he's got more than enough unfinished business with Jungkook for the younger to leave.

But Yoongi is stubborn, staring Jungkook down and Hoseok repeats himself, this time with more force.

“Seok,” Yoongi hisses, bringing his gaze to Hoseok. His eyes soften and there's unshed tears glittering there now. “Seok, what about—” He stops himself and Hoseok knows exactly why.

Because they agreed that this was a one time thing. Why should it matter if Yoongi stayed if all this night was supposed to be was a dark fantasy that would dissolve in the light of day?

Who were they kidding? This wasn't a relationship. This was sex with messy infatuation clouding their judgement. This wasn't love…. right?

“Leave,” Hoseok bites out, averting his gaze from the look of betrayal in Yoongi’s dark eyes. If Yoongi stayed, someone would end up hurt physically, but Hoseok knows he's a selfish bastard and that he only worries about the emotional pain of allowing Yoongi to stay.

Because the fantasy is only a fantasy if it never touches reality, and right now, reality has sucker-punched Hoseok.

“Seok…”

“LEAVE.”

Silence rings out in the air, the rain outside the only white noise to soften the blow. Hoseok squeezes his eyes shut, but as much as it hurts to hear Yoongi walk away, returning to their bed to throw on his clothes, it hurts far more infinitely when the elder stops in the foyer and utters the words that will scar Hoseok’s heart forever.

“Seok, I loved you.”

Then the studio door is slamming shut with a force that rivals the thunder outside.

When he opens his eyes again, all Hoseok can see is Jungkook staring at him with a brokenness that mirrors the way Hoseok feels inside— completely shattered, fractured. Forever.

“If we're being honest, I've suspected this for awhile,” Jungkook admits, still sitting on the floor. He seems darkly amused, like he can't believe it's come to this. “I could feel you drifting away, but I thought you were just distracted by painting.” He pauses then, looking around the studio with an uneasy smile. “When you painted that picture of the yellow rose…. I don't know how to explain it. It was like I was seeing you for the very first time. Like I was watching someone being born and I…. hated you for it. Because I've always felt like you were better than me, and here you were, changing right in front of my eyes, leaving me behind.”

“Kook—”

“Stop. Anything you say could never justify what you've done, so why bother?”

Hoseok snaps his mouth shut. Jungkook has a point.

“Then the lap dance…. Shit, you know how many guys I've had get turned on as soon as I touch them? But Yoongi…. his body was fighting me until the moment he looked over at you. Yes, I noticed. Then suddenly, he’s like on fire, and he’s begging for it and I… I thought about it for one moment. Thought about you and him, and I had to assure myself that it wasn't like that. The entire dance was like torture for me because I knew he could be imagining you and I was imagining you too. That's why I wanted you so badly afterwards. I wanted you to make me feel like there was only me.”

The candles are burning low now, casting long, deep shadows over Jungkook’s crying face. Hoseok is crying too, hot tears burning down his cheeks as his eyes struggle to place shapes in the waning light.

He's finally been caught in this tangled web of deceit, of vicious lies. And in the aftermath, he feels like a child sitting in a corner, seething at the audacity of their parent for scolding them. But Hoseok isn't a child, he's a grown man, with an understanding of emotions, of right and wrong, and ultimately, he chose to elevate himself over everyone else.

And his excuse?

He was tired of being strong when he felt broken. Tired of being the one everyone thrust their problems on. Tired of never being able to show doubt because that would make him weak. And somewhere along the way, he began to resent himself, his forced sunny disposition, and this…. monster…. was born.

When was the last time that Hoseok was Hoseok?

He can't remember…

“Was it worth it?” Jungkook is asking now, face upturned to the ceiling, sharp angles in the dark.

And maybe this is the actual truth from the actual Hoseok, naked and broken, covered in paint and sweat, crying: “No. Nothing is worth this.”

Tears track their way down Jungkook's handsome face, and only in that moment does Hoseok think that his boyfriend looks so much older now that he's burdened with the gift of heartache.

“Let's go home.”

——

Yoongi is walking in the rain, shivering.

He could've taken the bus, but he doesn't want to see another human face right now, because everyone would end up looking like Hoseok, or Jungkook, or worse— his family and everyone else who ever called him an idiot for anything.

Because he is an idiot. A stupid, blind fool who honestly believed for one second that life gave two shits about him, about these feelings he's kept inside for so long.

And in the candlelight, with Hoseok’s hands sliding over his skin, Yoongi finally let himself feel. Let himself free and accepted that he’s not as tough as he wishes and that what he desires above everything else is rather simple.

Yoongi just wants to be loved.

By someone, by anyone. By his parents, most of all. Maybe by Taejoon, like when they were little and had nothing better to do then walk the streets of Daegu and spend their coins on cheap candy and plastic toys from machines.

By Namjoon, whose approval he has always craved, ever since he first heard the man speak and thought Damn, this guy sounds like a fucking dictionary. By Jimin, when the dancer made it seem like his whole world revolved around Yoongi, like anything he said was gold to be cherished and worn.

By Hoseok, who had kissed him and eased him into self-discovery with the gentleness of a mother welcoming her child into the world for the first time. Hoseok, who had made him feel things he didn't think he was capable of, didn't think he deserved.

Trembling in the cold, soaking wet, Yoongi is tempted to run, to say that he doesn't deserve these things unless it's Hoseok that gives them to him, but he does.

He deserves to be happy, to be loved, to feel like he's an equal.

The feeling follows him through the streets of Seoul, down grimy streets and past early-morning commuters on their way to work. It follows him right up to his apartment door and the note taped to it.

With wet hands, Yoongi pulls it off and reads it, pausing every once in awhile to blink incredulously at the words.

His Jeonse lease is up. The one his parents initially invested money in all those years ago; a huge sum of money in hopes that their little boy would make something of himself here in the city. And he has, somewhat, but not nearly enough to reinvest in the lease, especially since this area of the city has become more of a commodity recently due to its close proximity to various companies.

He blinks again, rain clinging to his lashes.

“Final notice, Min,” a gruff voice drawls nearby, and Yoongi turns to his landlord, mouth agape. “I have your initial investment amount but the lease has gone up, as you probably assumed. So, you either resign the lease this week with the additional amount or you're out.”

Yoongi crumples the note in his hands, feeling his clothes drip onto the concrete. “I don't have the money to reinvest,” he admits, voice tight. “My parents—”

“I already talked to your parents since it was their initial investment, and what did your father say? Let me think…. Oh, yeah. Something about how he no longer has a son named Yoongi.”

It's not that Yoongi didn't expect this, it's just that he didn't expect this. He didn't expect to be standing out in the cold, dripping wet, staring down the barrel of homelessness while he finally heard evidence of his disownment from a stranger.

So his family wasn't just too busy for his calls or texts, or that one email he sent to his father's work account just to be sure the man read it. They had been avoiding him on purpose ever since he came out, but a part of him didn't think they would actually disown him, until now.

Oh.

“I don't have the money,” Yoongi repeats, sounding hollow even to himself. Maybe he is now. Maybe he'll be like this forever.

The landlord just smirks. “Well, I know some people who do. You've got twenty-four hours to get out, Min. Good luck finding another place to live in this city.”

Running a hand through his slick, sodden locks, Yoongi stares out into the street, watching the cars whir by, kicking up puddles. He slides his phone out of his pocket, the screen damp, and he goes to his recent messages, hovering his thumb over Namjoon’s contact.

Surely, Namjoon would let him stay at his place for a couple weeks, right? They weren't as close as they were in college, but Namjoon was always adamant that if Yoongi ever needed anything, anything at all, that the man would be there for him.

Huffing out of frustration, Yoongi puts his phone down and glances back into traffic. Namjoon would take him in, he knew it, but he also knows Namjoon asks questions and he's not the type to let things go. He's analytical and observant, and sooner or later he would see through Yoongi’s facade and try to fix things for him. But there was nothing to fix, and Yoongi doesn't feel like enduring awkward pauses where he feels the need to fill the silence with answers because Namjoon can go ages without talking if it means he can get inside someone’s head. The younger man means well, he really does, but Yoongi just can't. Not right now, not like this.

With a sigh, he begins scrolling through his contacts, looking for an alternate solution. He curses when he notices an unfamiliar entry above Namjoon’s.

Kim Taehyung (sexy artist doengsaeng)

“What the fuck?” Yoongi swears out loud, now gripping his phone with two hands and squinting at the screen in disbelief. How did that man get his number into Yoongi’s locked phone while they were both drunk?

Underneath the line for the contact’s name is the address line, but it looks like Taehyung decided to use it differently.

IN CASE YOU EVER NEED ANYTHING HYUNG:)))))))

“What's with this kid?” Yoongi asks no one in particular, shell-shocked. When did Taehyung do this? At no point was Yoongi's phone out of his pocket. At least, he doesn't remember taking it out….

Before he can think better of it, Yoongi hits the call button and a few rings later, his ear is filled with a deep voice.

“Hyung!” Taehyung cheers, way too chipper for this early in the morning. “It's been awhile, hasn't it?”

“How the fuck did you get your number into my phone? It has a passcode on it,” Yoongi demands, partially out of anger, but mostly out of shock.

Taehyung hums, long and deep. “Hyung, you asked me for my number? Like right after we drank that bottle of wine and you let me feed you chicken crumbs?”

Yoongi doesn't remember any of that….

“I don't remember? Shit, did we….. do things?”

The silence after his statement doesn't bode well and Yoongi feels his stomach drop.

“Depends…. what kind of things did you want to do? Hmm?” Taehyung answers, voice low and completely level.

Yoongi wants to slap himself. How could he let this happen? “Fuck…. We fucked didn't we? No, I would've felt…. Or maybe we touched each other? Shit, shit, shit—”

“Relax, hyung!” Taehyung interjects, laughing. “We didn't do anything. Just talked and painted, I guess. You asked for my number because we're both from Daegu, remember?”

“Oh.” Yoongi does remember a conversation like that now that he's thinking hard. Something about them needing to stick together like brothers….

“Hyung?”

“Oh… Yeah?”

“There's something wrong, isn't there? I mean, we only met once, but I'm pretty good at reading people and if you want to talk, we can.”

Yoongi bites his lip. The city is coming to life all around him, he's still soaking wet, and he lost his virginity, his home, his family, and his “boyfriend” all in one day.

Suddenly, he realizes that he's very much not ok, and even though Yoongi hates crying, he finds himself sobbing, right there on the little slab of concrete in front of the home he has to abandon soon.

Taehyung breaks the awkward silence. “Actually, I believe you owe me some wine and chicken,” he announces. “So, you should come over to my place. You know, to bring me that chicken you owe me. Totally not to talk or anything. Like, just be my chicken delivery guy, because if you don't, then like, where's your honor at? Chicken is—”

I'm coming,” Yoongi croaks out, mostly in an attempt to shut the other up. He refuses to acknowledge that he's going for any sort of comfort. He's not a child. “But you're getting chicken and beer because I don't feel like fucking with that wine shit today.”

He can almost hear Taehyung’s smile in his next words. “Yeah, sure. That works. Just hurry up. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, hyung. I'll text you the address!”

Yoongi breathes deeply, feeling his whole world narrow down just to one thing. One thing at a time. Just one step and then the next, and then he breakdown later.

Yeah.

Hanging up, Yoongi then dials a number he is familiar with after all the late night sessions spent producing. “I need to place an order for pick up,” he says robotically, like his life isn't in complete shambles, like he's just another guy ordering takeout in this huge city.

Like maybe if he just does these small little things everyday, that maybe one day they will all add up and Yoongi will feel like he’s alive again.

Maybe.

Chapter Text

“Let’s go down and never come back up.”

These were the words Hoseok had whispered to Yoongi that first time in the studio, the elder beneath him, looking up with adoration blooming in his dark eyes.

If only Hoseok had known it would end like this, drowning so deep in the waves that it feels like he will never resurface. Like every breath of air had been forced from his lungs and all that's left in its place is a void so deep that nothing will be able to fill it again.

If only he knew that it wasn't just he and Yoongi treading water in that vast ocean. If only he had turned his head and saw that Jungkook was struggling as well.

With a huff of frustration, Hoseok turns off the music blaring in his dance studio and glares at his students.

“What is with you guys today? None of you seem to want to be here.” He eyes the idol group in its entirety, raking his gaze over each impassive, bored face. The boys are looking at everything but their teacher. “Well?” Hoseok taps his foot impatiently, but no one dares to speak up. Finally, he decides that he's had enough. “Class dismissed. Tell your manager to have you come back when you actually care.”

It's harsh, but Hoseok feels harsh, very unlike himself and even though going back to work feels like a familiar routine, he can't deny that his personal life is anything resembling what it used to be.

Jungkook is gone.

Having stayed at their apartment for a few days,— on the couch, even though Hoseok was willing to give up the bed— one day, Hoseok came home to find that the man and all his belongings had vanished, leaving nothing behind. He shouldn't be surprised, but he is. Somehow, he thought that the younger would at least want to hear his side of the story, but after that stormy night, Jungkook had only spoken to him once.

“Do you want to split the cds? We bought them together.”

Figuring Jungkook had moved in with Jimin, Hoseok had tried to return to some semblance of normal, but even in his element, it was proving to be extremely difficult.

“Seonsaengnim?” one of the rappers of the idol group, Tao, speaks up, raising his hand.

Hoseok arches a brow in response.

Tao shifts on his feet but eventually steps forward, drawing curious stares from his band members. “Look, we want to be here, but we've decided that we don't like the song we're performing. It's just not us.”

Nodding, Hoseok agrees with the younger. “It's not, but it's always hard to perform a cover song,” he assures with a small smile and a clap of his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Just get through his music show and then you guys can perform something of your own for promotions.”

Tao pouts slightly, shaking his head. “Yeah, but you must know how we feel. If you're not inspired, then how can you perform to the best of your ability? Right now this song just feels so…. empty. If we perform this way, no one will care.”

“Yeah,” Chanhyuk, one the vocalists, agrees. He's sprawled out on the shiny wooden floor with a bottle of water resting on his stomach. “Then the senior idols will leave before our stage just like they did last year. No one takes us seriously.”

Pursing his lips in contemplation, Hoseok hums. If he's being honest, he really doesn't want to be here either, dealing with children who would rather be goofing off and watching girl group videos, but his career is the only thing he has left.

His family is in Gwangju, Jin is too busy for him nowadays, and he isn't overly familiar with Namjoon enough to be calling the guy to talk. Basically, he has his job, his apartment, and a seething hatred towards himself for destroying his life within a matter of months.

“Seonsaengnim?”

Hoseok is ripped out of his revelry to stare at the blank face of Tao, who is now gripping his shoulder in concern.

“Are you ok? You seem upset lately.”

“I'm fine,” Hoseok replies with a sigh, shuffling over to the stereo system to retrieve his phone. “So you want a new song to cover?” He begins half-heartedly, scrolling through his music library, pausing over a few bass-heavy tracks, but nothing stands out.

After a few terse minutes of the boys watching him with wide eyes, he hands Tao his phone and encourages the boy to pick something. He can't guarantee that their staff will let them change the song choice, but anything is better than the uninspired flailing around they were doing to the current song.

While Tao looks through his music, Hoseok slips into the hall, heading towards the lounge to get a cool bottle of water from the fridge. He gulps it down, even daring to rub the cold condensation against his forehead before stopping to look himself over in the floor-length mirror a few feet away.

What he sees disgusts him, as it had for the last few days. After that fateful night with Yoongi, Hoseok had grown to hate the man he saw in the mirror, not able to comprehend how exactly he became this way. Sure, he could throw excuses around all he wanted, but at the end of the day, when he lay in his bed without another body beside him, he realized that reasons and contemplation meant nothing if he didn't intend to change.

But how could he? Jungkook wanted nothing to do with him or his apologies and chasing after Yoongi now would just insult the elder. And if he's being honest, both men deserved better than him no matter how badly Hoseok wanted either of them— if he still wanted them.

After one last look at the man he can't stand, Hoseok makes his way back to the practice room, walking through the door just in time to see the entire group of boys huddled around Tao who is still holding Hoseok's phone.

“Even if it's mostly rap, we can always add some vocals,” the boy is saying, thumb working overtime as he peruses through the music.

“Yeah, I agree! But we need something untraditional. Something with power and depth,” Chanhyuk adds, his voice echoing off the studio walls. “Something that's gonna move people. Something—”

Tao lets out a puff of air suddenly. “What's this? It doesn't have a name.”

“Well, play it and find out,” Jungyeop encourages sarcastically, pulling Tao over to the stereo system and hooking the phone up to it.

Seconds later, heavy breathing erupts into the small space followed by a steady bassline. Hoseok freezes from where he's stretching on the ground, eyes widening in realization. Then, before he can even comprehend the situation, Yoongi’s rough voice is spilling into the room, words sharp but dripping with satoori.

“Ooh, I like this,” Chanhyuk whoops, already moving his hips to the heavy bass.

Tao nods along as the song progresses, but Hoseok is already on his feet, fast approaching the leader of the boys.

“Let’s pick another one,” he tries, reaching for his phone, but Tao simply pulls it away, brows furrowed in concentration.

Behind Hoseok, the other boys have already begun to move in tandem with the song, popping and locking in an appropriate manner that actually complements the beat quite nicely.

Stunned, Hoseok can only watch his students come alive, improvising movements and talking amongst each other excitedly. Changhyuk even begins to hum a counter-melody along with the rap as he tries to add some vocals into the mix.

“This is…. amazing,” Tao speaks up, forcing Hoseok’s attention back to him. “Is this an underground song?”

Hoseok nods numbly. The boys have already mobilized in front of the mirror, fitting some of Hoseok's earlier choreography together. Even though it's choppy and rushed, Hoseok has to admit that it looks good even in its unfinished state.

Looking up at Hoseok, Tao’s eyes glitter with newfound hope as a smile breaks across his face. “Can we ask to use it? Please? We can even ask permission from the artist. Please, Seonsaengnim?”

The kid is practically begging now, hands clutching Hoseok's phone tightly against his chest like it's something to be treasured. A chorus of laughter erupts from the rest of the boys and Hoseok can't remember a time when he had seen them so carefree.

Swallowing his pride, Hoseok nods. “Sure, I’ll get in touch with the artist and I’ll see what I can do. No promises, though, ok?”

Tao grins, looking to over to his other members with fondness. “Thank you, hyung-him!”

Hoseok merely shrugs at the drop in formality, but the gleeful noises flitting through the air from the boys does bring a smile to his face. He supposes he understands the feeling of finding motivation once more, of being confident in your art and dwelling in it. It's been quite awhile since Hoseok has felt like that, and he's not sure that he'll ever get it back.

“What's the name of this song?” Tao is staring at him now, eyes wide, waiting on Hoseok's reply as if the kid knows that this moment is important and weighted with something indescribable.

Hoseok swallows back the part of him that remembers. Remembers dancing to the song, giving it everything he had in an effort to better understand Yoongi. Now he realizes that he never understood anything at all and perhaps that's what hurts the most in the aftermath.

“The Last.”

Tao nods his head, casting his eyes down to the floor like he's just heard sacred holy words uttered by a peasant who has no right to say them.

Perhaps he has.

——-

 

Plopping a coffee in front of Yoongi, Namjoon scolds the other for the late hour. “Hyung, it's midnight. What are you doing here?”

Yoongi brings his weary eyes to the other and groans. “Just thought I'd get a head start on some projects,” he explains, though he knows that Namjoon is far too observant for that excuse to work.

With a sigh, Namjoon rolls a chair over beside Yoongi and straddles it, leaning his chin on the backrest and peering over at his colleague. “I know about what happened,” the younger's begins, eyes focused intently on the side of Yoongi's face.

“What?”

Yoongi feels his stomach drop, but he knows better than to give away any answers before the other has actually called him out on his bullshit.

“I know that you lost the apartment,” Namjoon admits, though he does sound a tad irritated.

Yoongi merely hums in response. “Oh?” His fingers tighten on the computer mouse.

“Hyung.” Namjoon lets out a world-weary sigh and grabs for Yoongi's hand, halting his work. “Why didn't you tell me? You can stay with me—”

“I took care of it,” Yoongi speaks up, sliding his hand away from the younger. “It's not a big deal. I managed to find a place.”

Instead of another chiding, Namjoon lets out an amused snort, grabbing Yoongi’s undivided attention. ”Yeah, I know. You're living with some college kid,” he states, cocking a disbelieving brow. “Tae….hyung, was it? No offense, but the kid is weird.”

Yoongi swivels around abruptly in his chair, facing the younger. “How the fuck—”

Namjoon merely chuckles in response, holding up a palm in defense. “Your paystubs were sent back by whoever is living there now and that kid showed up to collect them for you,” he explains with mirth. “Apparently he's been picking up your old mail everyday and he spoke with someone there about them.”

It's Yoongi's turn to stare incredulously. Sure, Taehyung has taken to him quite well considering their short history, and his mail has been waiting on the counter for him everyday after work, but Yoongi had just assumed that his address had gotten changed somehow.

Or was he supposed to do that himself?

He ponders this, but doesn't say as much, instead blurting out a “but he doesn't even have a car” to which Namjoon replies, “Yeah, he apparently walks here or catches a bus”.

“Everyday?” Yoongi gapes. “Why? I never asked him to.”

Namjoon leans forward on the chair and grins. “I would say that I think he has a crush, but the way he talks about you…. I think it's more like idol-worship,” he muses wryly. “I mean, he's a college student and you're a big-shot producer.”

Snorting at the statement, Yoongi saves his file on the computer and turns fully to address Namjoon with a snort. “I'm hardly a big-shot, Joon.”

“You've done well for yourself,” Namjoon argues, gesturing around the small space which had recently begun to fill up with awards with his name on them. Sure, there were others’ names on the plaques too, but Yoongi's was there, and that's really what mattered.

The younger man sighs when Yoongi chooses not to respond. “Hyung, why are you really here?”

“It's either this or Taehyung running through the halls of our apartment singing,” Yoongi offers bitterly, though he laughs at the thought.

Scrunching up his nose, Namjoon thinks over the elder’s statement. “Wait, he does that shit this late at night?”

Yoongi nods, sighing as he rubs his temples over his glasses. “He does all kinds of shit at every time of the day.” His statement is laced with annoyance but Yoongi can feel a smirk playing at the corners of his lips.

Taehyung is—

Taehyung is a hot fucking mess with no direction in life, but he's honestly just the kind of person that he needs right now. Naturally, the younger man didn't really care that Yoongi needed a place to stay, or that he barely knew him except for one drunken night filled with paint, chicken, and wine.

Now their nights were more or less sober, but there was a new companionship, a gentle understanding that neither one of them has their shit together and probably never will. Oh, and there's still chicken and wine, or rather, beer. It's…. nice, Yoongi supposes.

“Hyung, you need to go home and sleep,” Namjoon suggests gently, carefully tiptoeing around the obvious cause of Yoongi’s distress. Neither had talked about it though, and it had been months. Yoongi wonders if Namjoon ever wondered what Hoseok and him had fought about so long ago or if he had ever dared to look at them in suspicion.

Yoongi pops his knuckles and lets out a woosh of air. He settles his gaze back on the computer screen in front of him despite the burn in his eyes and begins to work once more, opening up the file he had previously been editing. “I can sleep when I die,” he grumbles out dryly.

Leaning over, Namjoon flicks him across the forehead. Yoongi jumps, eyes wide and blinking. “Don't say shit like that, hyung. You'll get me all worried again.”

Yoongi casts his gaze to the desktop littered with crumbs and errant paperclips. “It's not… its not that bad.”

It's not as bad as it was in college, he wants to say. Not as bad as the time you found me sobbing over a freshly-written goodbye note with a bottle of prescription painkillers in my hand.

They never talked about that incident either.

“I'm fine, just… lost.”

He can tell that Namjoon doesn't quite believe him, but the younger does back off, turning his attention to Yoongi’s computer screen. “New track?”

Yoongi nods, adjusting the waveforms. “Just something I thought of recently.”

“Would you ever be willing to release your music to the public? Maybe even try to pursue that part of the industry?”

“Joon, I'm not that good.”

Namjoon snorts, dimpled grin in full bloom. “Fuck, Yoongi, you're honestly one of the best underground rappers that I've ever heard. Sure, others may have more technicality to their music, but that's no replacement for great lyrics and emotion.”

Despite his exhaustion, Yoongi feels amused by the other’s fervor. Chuckling, Yoongi eyes his colleague. “Emotion?”

“Emotion,” Namjoon repeats, knowing that nothing more needs to be said, that Yoongi will understand exactly what he's trying to convey.

Your music is some deep shit, hyung.

Narrowing his eyes, Yoongi softly whacks Namjoon on the head. “Hey, get out of my office. I'm trying to work here.”

“Um, I'm the actual producer. You're just the assistant. Technically, this is my office. They're all my offices.” Namjoon flashes Yoongi with another blinding, heavily dimpled grin, and the elder flips him off with raspy, open-mouthed laughter.

Namjoon hovers by the exit on the way out though, glancing wistfully at Yoongi’s project on the computer. “Seriously though, hyung, you should share more of your music.” He pauses, shifting uncomfortably before taking a deep breath. “In fact, there's someone asking about using an underground hip hop track for a cover performance. They, uh, specifically asked for one of your tracks, and I agree with their selection.”

Stunned, Yoongi quirks a brow, squinting in the dim light at possibly his oldest and only friend. Namjoon never doubted any music selection he recommended to clients and he only recommended the best. They were friends, sure, but Namjoon was far more professional and studious than Yoongi ever hoped to be.

He wants to say no. It's a huge risk, putting himself out there like that once more. It's one thing to be young and fearless, with a burden to bear and a recklessness that protected you from almost anything. But Yoongi was older now, hardened by years of harsh reality. Words used to be his solace, sure, but now he knew how much they could hurt. How much they could slice in deeply and cut, taking pieces and pieces of yourself until there was nothing left. But most of all, words could come back to haunt you.

He knows that now, that you need to be careful with words.

Despite that though, some part of Yoongi screams at him to let go, to turn back from the direction he had been mindlessly wandering for years now. He needed change, he needed more than endless hoping. No one was going to save him from himself, so he would have to do it.

“Sure,” he finds himself saying, startling even Namjoon. “Yeah, ok…. Let them use the track.”

Namjoon blinks feverishly at him from the doorway. “Great. Uh, thanks, hyung.”

Yoongi waves him off, swiveling his chair back to his desk. He notes that Namjoon is still hovering near the door and a strange apprehension fills his gut. “Joon, who asked to use the track?”

He can hear Namjoon’s hard swallow in response.

“Hoseok.”

Sucking in a deep breath, Yoongi rubs his temples furiously, even going so far as to remove his glasses and drop them to the desk.

“Look, I don't know what happened between you two, but he seemed really sincere when he called,” Namjoon further explains. “He even had the group of idol kids in the background cheering him on, asking about the song and saying how good it was. Honestly, they put him up to it and—”

“It's… fine,” Yoongi chokes out. “Let him do whatever.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, ok. Night, hyung.”

Once Namjoon leaves and closes the door softly behind him, Yoongi cradles his head in his hands and just breathes. He's not really sure what Hoseok hopes to achieve with this latest stunt, but Yoongi pointedly chooses to ignore that aspect of it and chooses to focus on the fact that after all these years, he's finally making his music public.

He's never taken such a big leap before.

Well, he had once, a very big leap, right over the edge until he was falling so fast and hard that he forgot what it was like to have his feet firmly planted on the ground, to not rely on someone to complete you.

“You were made for me.”

Hoseok’s words creep into his head then, strangling his other thoughts until all Yoongi can think about is the other between his thighs, smothering out any chance of Yoongi coming back to earth.

Just falling, falling, falling.

But now he's hit the ground and he has no choice but to push himself back up.

——

Hoseok is nervous. So nervous in fact, that the group of young idols is trying to calm him down. He's spent nearly a month preparing this, working his and the group’s asses off, yet he can't find it in himself to relax.

“It's ok,” Tao reassures, standing before him dressed in tight black leather, head to toe. The makeup artists had just finished his eyeliner and now another stylist was spraying some sort of pungent hairspray onto his spiky locks. “We’re going to do great. You're the best teacher.”

Nodding quickly, Hoseok sucks in a deep breath before jolting up in his seat. “Wait! Chanhyuk-ah! You do remember what we went over last night, right?”

Chanhyuk grins, approaching Hoseok like one would a startled, panicking animal. “Yes, Seonsaengnim. Don't forget the extra eight count after the bridge. I remember.”

“Ok, ok,” Hoseok keeps repeating to himself. Tao is now offering him a cup of water.

It's not that Hoseok doesn't ever get nervous when anyone performs his choreography, but this time is notably different. It's not the young idols, or the camera crew, or the large audience. It's the song.

Yoongi’s song.

And he just found out about five minutes ago that Yoongi is here, in the crowd, about to watch his song be covered and accompanied by Hoseok’s dancing.

It's….. overwhelming.

Hoseok figured word would get around to Yoongi and that maybe the guy would watch it on the internet or someone would send the video to him. He was prepared for that. But seeing it live is something different. Live performances were, well, alive and emotions tended to run high.

And that's what he's so desperately afraid of. Yoongi will either appreciate it or be dragged back down into his pain all over again. Hoseok desperately hopes it's the first option. He would hate to add to Yoongi’s pain more than he already has.

After everything, after his complete idiocy and blatant disregard for anyone else's feelings, Hoseok is ready to start giving a fuck about someone besides himself. This whole thing started because he was worried about losing his inspiration, his reason for living, when he should've been looking for that motivation in the people around him. And he certainly should've been more honest with himself in the process.

But hindsight is always clearer and he had let the thrill of chasing Yoongi blind him to all his acute flaws, to the little tendrils of greed and discontent that had taken ahold of his heart.

Hoseok takes a deep breath and holds it, letting his lungs burn before lets it out.

In theory, he should talk to Yoongi. He should show up on his doorstep, hands in his pockets and an apology on his tongue, but this isn't a cheesy drama on the television. Their characters aren't near perfect with tiny plot points that can be tied up so neatly. The truth is, his actions that night spoke louder that any whispered sentiments and sweet confessions ever could.

When it came down to it, Yoongi deserved better than him.

Yoongi, who cursed him out and pushed him away because he was suffering internally, because that's all he's ever known. But Hoseok had tried to intentionally hurt the elder without even so much as a second thought even though he's only ever been shown love and compassion from those in his life, especially from Jungkook. He was jealous of Jimin, so he used Jungkook as a pawn. Then he thought he could seduce Yoongi back into his life, like sex would chase their problems away and he could live in his two worlds like that forever. Truthfully, he had been waiting to make sure things would work out with Yoongi before he ever considered letting Jungkook go.

In the end, Hoseok knows he doesn't belong with Yoongi. He knows that now, can feel it in the aching pulse of his heart. But this, this cover of Yoongi's song, is an apology, a goodbye, and a wish for better days all wrapped up in one.

All for Yoongi, right at this moment.

The staff readies the group of boys. Tao gives Hoseok a soft smile as his mic is adjusted, then the announcement is happening and the boys are disappearing behind a heavy curtain. The track begins, familiar yet modified for the boys, with Hyungjoon, the main rapper leading off with his gruff vocals.

Hoseok feels like he’s going to be sick. His eyes flick up to watch the performance on the monitor backstage. Everything's so vivid and clear— their precise movements, the crisp vocals, the power of this track that's so raw and cerebral, quaking the auditorium with its heavy bass.

Scanning the crowd, the camera pick ups the bewildered faces of other idol groups, the fans higher up in the wings. Then, for the briefest of moments, it flashes Namjoon, dressed immaculately in a tailored grey suit, sitting next to the group of idols that Hoseok and Yoongi collaborated on the song for.

The boys are smiling, bopping their heads along, and one even waves frantically to the camera. A hand appears in the frame to lightly smack the kid upside the head for the action and then Yoongi is there, staring into the camera and into Hoseok’s soul.

His feline eyes are lined with black in the outer corners and his outfit is a dark skinny suit with a crimson tie, tailored for his slight frame.

He's beautiful.

He's smiling….. and then the audio blaring through the large space seems to register in his brain. His smile drops, his eyes narrow. He cocks his head and looks at Namjoon but he doesn't look surprised. In fact, he seems somewhat amused by the development, although he fidgets with the sleeves of his suit.

Then he's gone. Camera is back on the performance, on Hoseok's choreography and it stays there until the very end. Everyone applauds, and it's louder than Tao or any of them expected.

Good. The kids deserved it.

Hoseok wants to stay, to congratulate the kids on a job well done, but he knows he won't. He doesn't want to head back to his seat in the audience and run into Yoongi, see that face looking at him once more with such disdain. He can't bear the thought.

So he leaves, brushing past the stylists and production staff until he's out the back exit and in the parking lot. He climbs into Seokjin’s borrowed car and heads home.

Sitting in the living room, he stares blankly at the floor, at the places that used to be covered with Jungkook’s house slippers or his various video game controllers. His eyes wander to the bedroom where his bed is unmade, walls now bereft of various pictures of a once-happy couple. He picks up his phone and turns it over in his shaking hands.

What does he expect to happen?

For Yoongi to call him and tell him how he was so touched by the cover performance and that he loves him? That they should get back together even though they were never really together in the first place?

Maybe that he forgives Hoseok, just like the first time, and he'll just show up and act like everything is normal. He'll smile despite himself, flashing those small teeth and those pink gums. He'll sigh into Hoseok's kiss, he'll yield when Hoseok backs him into the wall, kissing him so deeply that he's not sure where one of them ends and the other begins.

Maybe.

Or not.

It's early morning now and Hoseok’s still sitting there with his pride shattered into tiny little pieces, trying to find a reflection of himself that he can recognize.

Finally, he pushes to his feet and stumbles to his bedroom, ready for the numbing bliss of slumber—

There's a knock on the door.

His heart stops beating, his blood refuses to move in his veins.

A voice, rough and thick with sorrow calls out his name.

Hoseok rushes to the door, throws it open, and stares at the anguished face of Park Jimin.

The dancer is sobbing, wrapped up in a silky robe with makeup running down his face. His hair is disheveled and his eyes are wild, darting around at everything.

“Jimin?”

The dancer looks him in the eye and slowly undoes his robe, revealing his body clad in his usual small shorts, but there's streaks of crimson blood running down his inner thighs.

“Hyung,” Jimin whispers, voice breaking. “Please help me.”

Chapter Text

The bright fluorescent lights above flicker as Hoseok stands beside Jimin in the small hospital room, holding the younger’s trembling hand in his. Jimin is dressed in Hoseok’s oversized sweats, effectively dwarfing the dancer and making him look so very small, especially given the unfortunate circumstances.

The nurse had just finished giving Jimin stitches and as soon as the younger had gotten his pants pulled back up, he had requested Hoseok be present for the filing of the police report. So, with a heavy heart, Hoseok had entered the room and intertwined their fingers together and they had yet to part, even after twenty minutes of questioning.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency had sent over two officers to get Jimin’s statement: one middle-aged woman— Officer Lim— with a round face and a dark bun coiled on top of her head and a male— Officer Soo— with a strong physique and harsh judgmental stare.

Officer Lim sucks in a deep breath before asking her next question. “So, after the customer followed you to the back for a private lap dance, he then propositioned you to have intercourse with him for money?”

“Yes.” Jimin’s reply barely passes his pallid lips and his hand tightens around Hoseok's.

“Then you proceeded to refuse the customer…”

“Yes.”

“And that's when the assault occurred, without your consent?”

Jimin trembles, squeezing his eyes shut tightly. He seems hesitant to answer, but Hoseok knows how important it is that the dancer doesn't let this slide. He didn't want to come to the hospital at all, but Hoseok had taken one look at Jimin’s injuries and the blood caked around his thighs and knew that the dancer needed to be taken care of. With a careful hand, Hoseok rubs Jimin’s back in reassurance, humming under his breath so that only the other man can hear him.

“Y-Yes,” Jimin finally answers, crystal tears streaking down his already chapped face. Hoseok soothes him with a side-hug, pulling him into his chest.

Officer Soo makes a sound of distaste, but he notes Jimin’s reply on the clipboard in his hands. He looks up after a few moments and eyes Jimin in a way that Hoseok very much dislikes. “Are you certain that you made it clear to the man that he did not have your consent to continue with the intercourse?”

Staring at his feet dangling off the bed, Jimin chokes on a small sob. He lifts his head in disbelief. “Yes, I'm certain…. I told him no the entire time—”

“Are you sure you weren't engaging in some sort of sexual taboo? Maybe he thought you both were playing roles?” Officer Soo questions, cocking his head in concern but his eyes are hard and full of hate. Hoseok squeezes Jimin closer.

“Y-Yes… I said no, ok? I told him no but he wouldn't stop!”

Officer Soo purses his lips and writes something down on his paperwork. “Have you ever accepted money for sex before?” he asks, not even sparing a glance at Jimin.

Hoseok immediately scoffs, hand gripping Jimin’s tighter. “Is that really relevant?” he spits, anger thrumming through his veins at the casual manner in which the officer addresses such a traumatic event.

Leveling a withering glare on Hoseok, Officer Soo has the audacity to laugh. “Well, Yes. It is relevant if he has a history of prostitution. Word gets around quickly, especially in the homosexual community, and it's very likely that his reputation is what allowed the gentleman to think that it was merely role-play.”

Hoseok sputters in disbelief. “Gentleman? You're actually calling that fucking bastard a gentleman after what he did?” Pulling away from Jimin, Hoseok bows up to the officer, face heating up as he stares the other man down. “You should be doing your goddamn job and protecting my friend instead of trying to convince yourself that Jimin somehow asked for this just because he’s gay!”

“Hyung, please,” Jimin whimpers, trying to pull Hoseok back to him. He sounds distant, tired.

Officer Soo places a hand on Hoseok's chest and pushes him back slightly. “Sir, please calm yourself or I’ll have to take you into custody,” he grits out. “I'm merely doing my job and trying to ascertain what occurred and whether or not an innocent man can be blamed for a whore’s misleading words—”

“Fuck you,” Hoseok interjects, but before anymore can be done, Jimin yanks the elder back to him.

“Is that all?” Jimin asks quickly, looking over to Officer Lim who is giving him a pained smile. “Can I go?”

“Yes, you may go. You've already provided us with a description and enough details. We’ll be in contact if we need further information.”

Officer Soo is still fuming, gripping his clipboard, but the female officer encourages him to leave and after a few terse moments, Hoseok and Jimin are left alone with their thoughts.

“I know you hate me,” the younger says just after the door clicks shut, staring at his toes. His tears have dried up now, replaced with a resolute blankness. “But I don't want Jungkook to know. He's my only friend and I don't think I can stand him knowing. That's why I came to you.”

Hoseok breathes deeply before sitting down on the bed beside Jimin. “Why would I hate you?”

“You thought I took Yoongi from you.”

Stunned, Hoseok looks towards Jimin even though the other is pointedly avoiding his gaze. “Jimin…. I don't hate you at all. I took Yoongi from myself because I'm a selfish bastard,” he admits, grimacing at the memory. “I fucked up my relationship with Jungkook for the same reason. And about Yoongi… he belongs with someone like you. Someone that actually appreciates him.”

Jimin scoffs at this, smirking darkly down at the ground. “I'm trash. I'm a slut who sells himself for money and I deserve everything I've gotten.”

Hoseok didn't exactly know what to say before, but he does now. He scoots closer to the younger and cups Jimin's chin, gently turning his head until their eyes meet. “Thats bullshit,” he states, voice soft. “You're not trash, Jimin. You're just… lost, maybe? That's all. You're lost and you deserve to find life again, no matter what that looks like for you.”

Tears begin to sparkle again in the corners of Jimin's down-turned eyes, but he doesn't speak, instead letting Hoseok fill in the silence once more.

“I know we don't know each other that well, but you're worth more than that club, than any low-life who calls you a whore,” Hoseok continues. “What happened to you was terrible but it's not your fault. You didn't ask for it and that fucker deserves to burn in hell for touching you without permission. They all do.”

The ’they’ Hoseok is referring to is vague, but he knows there must be more men like that. Maybe they didn't get as far as the creep tonight did, but Jimin didn't choose this life; it was forced upon him. It sickens Hoseok to think that Jimin thinks this all he's worth, makes his blood ignite with fire.

“I could die, and no one would care,” Jimin whispers. He's digging his fingers into the soft flesh of his palms now, drawing blood.

Hoseok reaches out to stop him. “I would,” he replies. He takes Jimin’s hand in his own. “I would care. And not because you owe me something or because I can get something out of you. But because you're kind, you're strong, and you're so pure in this world full of shit and even when I was being an absolute dick to both Yoongi and Jungkook, you made them smile. You were there for them. You're better than me, Jimin. And I don't want to see anything take that away from you.”

Jimin is crying again, but they're soft, small tears that fall with grace from his eyes down his reddened cheeks. He looks into Hoseok’s eyes for a moment, lips quivering, but then he’s looking away, sucking in a deep breath and pulling his hand away. “I left Yoongi too,” he confesses. “He wanted more out of me and I couldn't do it any more. So I just… left.”

Nodding in understanding, Hoseok ignores the pang of jealousy that attempts rear its ugly head. “Did Yoongi want to be with you? Was that it?”

Jimin shakes his head. “I think he just wanted me to be happy… or maybe he thought if we were together it would help him feel better about me loving him and what happened with you.”

A long silence is strewn between them then, Jimin looking at the wall of medical posters while Hoseok plays with a run in the sterile white bedsheets.

“Jimin…. I'm sorry. This is all because of me. I'm a selfish asshole. I deserve everything I've gotten.”

Letting out a deep sigh, Jimin moves his hand towards Hoseok until he can encase the elder’s fingers with his once more. He turns his red-rimmed eyes towards Hoseok, still leaking tears. “No, you're just lost,” he assures, giving a small smile at the words. “No selfish asshole would take a guy he barely knows to the ER and then stay with him through the entire thing. No selfish asshole would feel remorse like this. Yeah, you're not perfect, but no one is. Even…. Kookie.”

Hoseok blinks at him, raising his brows. “What do you mean?”

Pulling away, Jimin buries his face in his hands, hiding. He mumbles from between his fingers but Hoseok can hear him clear enough. “He suspected that you were cheating for awhile but he couldn't find any actual proof,” the younger confesses. “One night, he came into work rambling about paint or something and asked for a lot of tequila shots.” Jimin pauses then, letting out a shaky breath before continuing. “We were in the dressing room and he begged and begged to suck me off and I let him. I think he just wanted to feel loved, but he felt so bad about it the next day that he left money for me on the vanity.”

Jimin looks up at him then, his dilated eyes twinkling with a new onslaught of tears. He doesn't say anything, just holds Hoseok’s stare until the elder has to look away because he feels his own tears threatening to spill over.

There are so many things he could say in response. So many accusations and comeuppances, but he knows this is neither the time nor place. Besides, this new information doesn't change what Hoseok did or justify it any way, so he decides to let the issue go.

“You can't go back to the club,” he tells Jimin instead.

“I have to. I have bills to pay and debt from the street—”

Hoseok slams his fist on the bed, frustration and anxiety bubbling over. He can't just let Jimin walk out of here alone and afraid. He can't turn a blind eye to another's suffering anymore. “No you don't. You have a future ahead of you, Jimin.” He pauses to gather his thoughts, but truthfully, his mind has been made up ever since he pulled Jimin into his apartment earlier in the night. “You're not going home tonight. You're coming home with me.”

Jimin’s eyes widen, red-rimmed and glassy. “I am?”

Nodding, Hoseok rises to his feet and offers a hand to the younger.

“I'm not leaving you alone, not after what happened. But even if this hadn't of happened, you don't deserve to hate yourself, Jimin, or ever think of yourself as anything less than a human being. I don't care about the past, or how we were connected.” Hoseok stops at this, looking down into Jimin’s eyes, as if he's seeing the man for the first time. “Right now, we start over new. We start over together.”

Jimin looks so small, curled in on himself and lost underneath Hoseok’s sweatshirt. He's shaking and crying, but he's also beginning to smile and Hoseok swears he will never forget the way Jimin’s hand feels the moment he accepts Hoseok's, this time not as acquaintances, but as brothers.

——-

 

Dawn has just broken across the horizon of Seoul, spreading small fingers of light through the cracks in Yoongi’s blinds. He's already up, however, working lazily on a track that has been bouncing around his mind for several days now, nagging at him to get it recorded.

So Yoongi gets out his crappy mic, the one he only uses to hastily record music at home so he can at least have a draft to go by in the studio, and he lays down the lyrics, flexing muscles that he hasn't even thought about using in quite awhile.

It feels nice to spit out the haphazard rap, to talk about the overwhelming anxiety he often feels and how it crushes his relationship with himself and others. His voice sounds gruff and unused, but he likes the edgy quality of this morning session. It makes him remember why he wrote music in the first place; the feeling of just him, his thoughts, and the mic existing before anyone else even stirred awake for the day is something akin to holy.

After Yoongi lays down the short rap, he sighs, leaning back in his desk chair and rubbing his eyes. He really should get to sleep, but he can't stop now when his motivation is on point; these moments are rare as it is.

The apartment is quiet now, but he knows that will change as soon as Taehyung rises from his slumber and starts stumbling around the house, getting ready for his commute to the university. It's not that Yoongi particularly minds the noise, in fact, it's kind of soothing, but he just wishes he was more optimistic about life like his roommate.

Over the last month and a half, Taehyung’s quirks have come out in full force, one of them being his enthusiasm for literally any act. He's excited whether he's changing the channel or making coffee. He’s so happy when they get takeout coupons in the mail or if Yoongi offers to let him finish off his dinner. It's annoying at times, but oddly, Yoongi is jealous of the younger's ability to do this.

Here he is mildly satisfied with recording a barely minute-and-a-half rap after several years, and it's the single most gratifying thing he's done in his life, while Taehyung just has to breathe to be happy. Yoongi has to drag it out of his body every day and some days he just can't find it within himself to even care.

A slew of curses breaks through his revelry, echoing through the apartment and Yoongi rolls his chair over towards the door. He hears something shuffling around, followed by Taehyung’s insistent shushing, then the grumbling voice of a stranger. There's a crash of something heavy one moment later and then Taehyung is whisper-shouting “Quiet! You'll wake hyung up!”

Yoongi rolls back over and closes the program on his laptop before throwing open his door and pattering down the hall. He's still not quite used to Taehyung’s spacious apartment— or how Taehyung can afford it for that matter— but it's nice to have the extra room. Coming to a halt in the living room, Yoongi stares at the chaotic scene before him, uncertain what to make of this development.

The front door is wide open, and it appears that Taehyung is helping someone move boxes and furniture into the apartment. There's already several stacks to his left, as well as a desk and some small tables.

“Tae?”

Taehyung whips his head up from where he’s bent over an oddly-shaped box and gives Yoongi a nervous boxy grin. His hair is pulled up into a little bun on top of his head and he's still in his pajamas. “Hey, hyung, I thought you were asleep.”

Looking around, Yoongi takes in everything with narrowed eyes. “I was up recording, but how could anyone sleep through this?” he replies dryly. “Tae, what the fuck is going on?”

Taehyung opens his mouth, but he doesn't get to reply because the next second Jungkook is walking through the door with a plastic hamper filled with shoes in his hands.

“That should be everything—” Jungkook stops right inside the doorway, eyes widening as he takes in the sight of Yoongi dressed in an oversized sweater and basketball shorts. “What the fuck are you doing here?” he spits, arms still full of hamper.

“Oh no,” Taehyung mutters under his breath.

Yoongi cocks an eyebrow. “I live here.”

Jungkook whips his head towards Taehyung. “He what?”

Taehyung runs away, further into the apartment with a squeak.

“I live here,” Yoongi repeats after the sound of Taehyung’s door clicking shut reverberates through the hall. “What the fuck are you doing here?”

Lifting his chin in indignation, Jungkook eyes Yoongi with extreme distaste. “As of today, I live here too.”

“Like hell you do. Don't you have your own place?” The moment the words leave Yoongi's mouth, he realizes his mistake.

Jungkook smirks, smiling to himself, and Yoongi swears he hears the other curse under his breath. “You're such an asshole, you know that?” he retorts, finally setting the hamper down. “I did have my own place, with my own boyfriend, but guess who ruined that?”

“Hoseok,” Yoongi answers quickly, watching Jungkook's cocky expression fade. “Hoseok ruined that for you, not me.”

“Do you honestly think you didn't have a part in that?” Jungkook questions, incredulous. “You could've said no. You could've not spread your legs—”

Letting out a chuckle, Yoongi runs a hand through his already disheveled bedhead. “And do you honestly think that he wouldn't have found someone else? If I said no, he would've just moved on to the next idiot. Spare me the fucking guilt trip, kid. I already feel bad enough as it is.”

Stunned, Jungkook stares back with a peculiar expression dawning on his face. Perhaps the younger hadn't entertained that thought before, had somehow thought that Yoongi was some of magical seductress capable of luring boyfriends away from their happy homes.

“But he—”

Taehyung suddenly appears back in the room with his backpack, now appropriately dressed for class, and gestures towards the door wildly. “I'm just gonna leave you guys alone now,” he rambles. “Just no blood on the carpet…”

“Not so fast,” Yoongi practically growls, grabbing his roommate by his backpack. “You can't just leave after pulling a stunt like this. Why the fuck did you invite Jungkook to live here without telling me?”

Pouting, Taehyung carefully pulls away from Yoongi's grasp. “I didn't invite him, hyung,” he explains. “He got kicked out of Jimin’s place and he needed somewhere to go, just like you did. I was going to explain later today, I swear.”

Yoongi turns his attention to Jungkook, expecting further information.

“If you must know, I haven't seen Jimin in weeks,” Jungkook admits bitterly. “He just stopped talking to me and showing up to work or coming home and then I get a letter from his landlord saying that he canceled the lease. I think he found himself a sugar daddy or something because a couple of guys from work said they saw him with some guy buying furniture.”

The younger looks away then, jaw clenched, and Yoongi sees tears glisten in his deep brown eyes, but Jungkook doesn't let them fall.

Yoongi is shocked by the explanation, and he can't help but feel a twinge of pain upon hearing about Jimin. He had always wanted the dancer to leave the club, but now he worries that the man might be getting into something way over his head.

The thoughts are short-lived however, as Jungkook squares his shoulders and looks directly at Taehyung. “I can't live here with him,” he states, pointing at Yoongi. “I refuse to live with the man that I caught fucking my boyfriend.”

“Do you think I want to live with you either?” Yoongi shoots back, crossing his arms. “You're free to leave at anytime.”

“You have some nerve to fucking talk to me like that after all the shit you did! I did nothing wrong except love Hoseok and then you show up and—”

“Don't you have to be in daycare soon, kid? Us adults have shit to do.”

“Go fuck yourself—”

”Enough!” Taehyung yells, hiking his backpack up on his broad shoulder. “Both of you idiots are staying here and both of you are going to stop fighting!”

Scoffing, Jungkook leans towards Taehyung with wide eyes. “Hyung, he fucked around with my boyfriend! You've known me longer! Kick him out!”

“I was here first,” Yoongi argues lamely, but it's really all that he's got at this point.

Taehyung throws his hands in the air. “Both of you, shut up!” He instantly whirls towards Jungkook, leveling a finger at him. “You need to stop blaming other people for your failed relationship when all you ever complained about was how emotionally vulnerable Hobi made you feel so you tried to cover up your insecurities with sex, so don't be shocked that he became such a lusty dickhead.”

Taehyung turns towards Yoongi then, wagging the same finger. “And you! Did you honestly think that getting involved with a guy who you knew was cheating on his boyfriend was going to turn out well? You went in wanting attention, then you developed feelings, and now you're surprised when he treats you like nothing more than a fling?”

The apartment falls into uneasy silence. Yoongi is gaping at his roommate and a few feet away, Jungkook looks like a small child with how wide his eyes are.

Fluffing his hair now free from his bun, Taehyung stands tall. “If you're going to live under my roof, then there will be no fighting about past events, complaining about the living situation, or bitching about the other person! Do I make myself clear?”

No one answers.

“Good,” Taehyung chirps, moving towards the front door. He pauses in the doorway with a toothy grin. “Family dinner is tonight at six and it's mandatory. Have a great day!”

And the he's gone, the door clicking shut behind him, leaving two figures awkwardly standing in the foyer.

“What the fuck just happened?” Jungkook breathes, staring at the floor.

Yoongi finally closes his gaping mouth and swallows hard. “I think we just got our asses chewed out and then…. we became roommates?”

Blinking at the floor in disbelief, Jungkook slowly starts to stir, moving towards his hamper. He looks up at Yoongi then and it must finally hit him because his eyes narrow and he scrunches his nose.

“Just so you know, I still think you're an asshole.”

“The feeling is mutual, kid,” Yoongi fires back, already on his way back to his bedroom. He can feel Jungkook behind him, heading towards the empty spare room.

“Good,” Jungkook declares before throwing his hamper into the room and slamming the door like a petulant child.

Yoongi stands in the hallway, seething. He opens his own door and yells back “Good!” before slamming his own door just to make a point.

What the point is, he's not entirely sure.

Chapter Text

Living with Taehyung had been easy enough despite the other man’s weird habits and unusual cheery demeanor.

Living with Jungkook— Hoseok's ex— was a completely different story.

At the beginning, things had been what Yoongi would deem as “cordial” due to Taehyung’s insistence that they get along or else their asses would be on the curb, and it worked for a time.

They exchanged tense “could you pass me the rice” ’s at family dinners to which Taehyung would smile proudly at them even as his eyes narrowed in suspicion. When they stumbled into each other in the hall, they would ask a careful “are you finished with the bathroom?” to which the other always grunted out either a yes or no and that was that.

So it was amiable, more or less, until until one day after two weeks of apparent domestic bliss, both Yoongi and Jungkook stopped communicating at all. By then, they had figured out the routine— Yoongi had a day job and Jungkook had his night job, and Taehyung was always around or never around— so they could effortlessly dance around each other in the apartment with little to no contact.

Of course, the new “peace” was not without carefully-concealed hatred, which Yoongi caught wind of on several occasions when Jungkook would mutter something particularly spiteful about the elder under his breath. The younger would also leave his phone unattended at times, and Yoongi couldn't help but notice when Jungkook would get texts from his coworkers asking if he figured out a way to get the “small-dicked asshole” out of the apartment yet.

So it appeared Jungkook wanted to play it like that.

And Yoongi, who was a grown-ass man and not a child who pouted to his friends, would show his contempt for the other in smaller ways.

Sometimes he would use all the hot water right before Jungkook was due to come home from a long shift at the club.

Oops.

Sometimes, when Taehyung wasn't home in the mornings, Yoongi would work on a track and of course he would have to turn the volume all the way up on his computer. How else was he supposed to hear how the song sounded through speakers?

Oops.

Sometimes he would offer to do Taehyung’s laundry with his own and take up all the machines in the basement washroom even though he knew Jungkook had a huge pile of glittery booty shorts and school boy outfits that he needed to wash.

Oops.

Serves him right, Yoongi thinks, for being such a fucking brat and assigning all the guilt on Yoongi for what happened with Hoseok. Sure, Yoongi knew better and had been an idiot about the entire thing, but Hoseok was the one who went home and lied to his boyfriend. Why should Yoongi have to suffer for that asshole’s mistakes? Was he not getting punished enough as it was?

But some days, when Yoongi was exhausted and overworked, his mind played tricks on him and suddenly his hatred for Jungkook wasn't borne out of defensiveness, but rather jealousy.

Some nights, Yoongi would still be up watching the news, sipping juice or some other non-alcoholic shit and then Jungkook would walk through the door, positively glowing, looking like something out of a wet dream and Yoongi would go stand in the bathroom and look at himself and grimace.

Hoseok must've been lying to him about how attractive he found Yoongi or how perfect he was. Those words had always ended with the younger getting something sexual out of it, so they must've been nothing more that sweet lies to get in Yoongi's pants, right? After all, they hadn't had much other than sexual chemistry, so why else would Hoseok pursue him in the first place? It surely wasn't because Yoongi was some sort of sex kitten.

Maybe in those moments when he envies Jungkook, he realizes that everything Hoseok had ever told him had been a lie, even after all their fights and make-ups, their sex and confessions.

Because if Hoseok wasn't a liar, then why was Yoongi here and why was Jungkook here with him? He had promised them both happiness and affection, and left them wanting for something the other couldn't give.

Tonight is one of those sleepless nights filled rolling anxiety and doubt where Yoongi remembers his family, his career, and his past relationships. He can't seem to let it all go and even though he wants to grab a beer from the fridge, he doesn't, but he can't lie here any longer with his thoughts swirling around in the dark.

So he rises with a groan and makes his way into the apartment, startled to see that Jungkook is home despite it being four a.m. and right in the middle of his usual shift. Taehyung isn't home either, having gone to the art studio to finish his final project for the end of the semester.

It's dark in the living room, and Jungkook is just sitting on the couch, bathed in the moonlight. He's got a bottle of soju pressed to his lips, the green glass glinting as he takes a swig.

For a moment, Yoongi just pauses and takes in the scene, bristling at the sense of deja vu that creeps into his hazy mind. It's as if he's walking in on himself all those months ago, drinking to keep away the dreams, to keep away the part of himself that he was disgusted by. Drinking to forget, drinking to remember what it felt like to be “normal”.

“You can come sit,” Jungkook states abruptly, not bothering to look over at Yoongi. “Hearing your heavy breathing behind me is creepy.”

Caught in the act, Yoongi shrugs and makes his way to the couch where he proceeds to sit on the complete opposite side, curling his legs up underneath him. They don't speak immediately, and Yoongi takes note of three empty soju bottles already on the coffee table.

“Want a drink?” Jungkook offers, though he doesn't have a bottle to spare.

“No.”

More silence. Someone walks loudly across the floor in the apartment above them.

“Why aren't you at work?” Yoongi asks, playing with the hem of his shirt. He hopes the younger gets the hint and leaves or asks Yoongi to leave. Anything but this feigned acceptance.

“I had nothing to wear,” Jungkook retorts, smiling against the lip of his bottle. “Every time I go to do laundry, the washers are full.” He says it with mirth and Yoongi knows that he knows.

They fall into an uneasy silence once more. The only sound is the whir of the air conditioner and the slosh of soju inside the bottle.

“I need to hear it from you,” Jungkook states suddenly, bringing his hard gaze to Yoongi. “How did everything happen?”

Yoongi sits, hands in his lap. Jungkook doesn't sound angry or upset, just numb and clinical, like he’s a doctor asking about what brought Yoongi in to see him. “You don't want to know,” he replies, just as blankly.

Turning back to face the black television, Jungkook sighs. “I do. I can't sleep without knowing the truth. Just tell me so my mind can stop coming up with all these fucking scenarios.”

Yoongi wants to say something along the lines of “how much worse of a scenario could there be than walking in on your boyfriend and another man fucking” but he thinks he gets it. It's not about sex for Jungkook; it's about the emotion. The younger probably worries more about Hoseok's emotional attachment to Yoongi rather than the physical one.

Despite himself, Yoongi decides that he wants a similar explanation from Hoseok, but he knows that neither of them will ever get one, so he understands why Jungkook wants to hear it from the other party involved, but it doesn't make it any easier to explain. So he just sits there, unsure of where to start.

Groaning, Jungkook places his bottle of soju on the table. “Did you approach him first?”

Yoongi has to laugh at that. “No, I actually hated him from the moment I saw him,” he admits.

“Then how—”

“I—” Yoongi stops himself, uncertain about whether or not he wants to talk about this particular aspect of the situation, but he supposes that it does play a major role. With a deep sigh, he continues. “I was having these dreams where I was…. gay, and I didn't want to accept it, so I lashed out at Hoseok because he made realize that I might have feelings for men.”

Jungkook hums, but Yoongi is sure he doesn't understand quite yet, but the younger remains silent to let Yoongi elaborate.

“He's the only one that ever made me feel that way, so I kept trying to push him away but I think he…. liked it, maybe? I'm not sure, but it was like he wouldn't leave me alone. Then, one day he invited me to the studio to make up for being such an asshole to me when I was trying to come to terms with everything and we…. kissed. We kissed and it was like everything I ever feared and wanted happening all at once and I ran away after that.”

“Straight into Jimin’s arms,” Jungkook supplies with mirth, though he doesn't sound bitter. He just sounds… empty. Cold.

Casting his eyes to the floor, Yoongi agrees. “Yeah. But it wasn't the same with Jimin, and I told him that, and I thought he was ok with that. Obviously, I don't have good judgement.”

Jungkook lets out a small laugh. “Neither of us do, apparently,” he quips. “Your story sounds kind of similar to mine.”

“Oh?” Yoongi perks up, glancing at the profile of Jungkook's face.

“Um, yeah. When Hoseok first came into the club, he was throwing all this money around, laughing like a hyena with his stupid friends. He really thought he was hot shit,” Jungkook explains, laughing at the last part. “I found it fucking annoying. I had seen his type before, guys high on life because they got what they wanted all the time, and even though I thought he was hot, I wanted nothing to do with him.”

Nodding, Yoongi tries to gather the courage to remember what it felt like to be so entranced by Hoseok. To his horror, it's not as hard as he thought. “But then, you figured him out, didn't you? That it was all just a mask?”

“Not really,” Jungkook confesses, rubbing his temples. “I'm not proud of it, but eventually I let him fuck me. We started dating and I thought that the sadness and frustration I started to see in him was because he didn't have someone in his life that challenged him. I thought that I could bring the real Hoseok back. But now I realize that was never him in the first place. That overly-happy, positive guy that would let anyone walk all over him was all just something he created because it was what every one else demanded of him…. even me.”

“Oh,” Yoongi says once again, because he really doesn't know what else to say. He thought it had been so painfully clear what Hoseok had been going through, but maybe it hadn't been. Maybe Yoongi was just used to covering up his own instability and it was easy to see it in others.

Jungkook looks over at him now, eyes half-lidded and heavy with liquor but his words still ring with truth. “I think you realized that it was all an act because maybe you were living like that too, right? You were hiding a part of yourself because you were scared about what others would think.”

Stunned, Yoongi can only nod, realizing the weight of the younger’s words. It was definitely true that Yoongi could relate to Hoseok on that level, but that's where the similarities ended. Once Yoongi had come to terms with who he was, he vowed to be transparent with himself but Hoseok had only tried to cover his lies and it ended up destroying those around him.

Yoongi shrugs, turning towards the coffee table and picking up some of his scattered notebooks to distract himself.

“If you knew about me and him, then why didn't you stop it?” Jungkook questions softly behind him. “I know you're really not an asshole, so why did you go along with it?”

Clutching a notebook in his hand, Yoongi straightens up and looks toward the younger. “Why am I not an asshole all of a sudden? That's been your favorite word to describe me.”

Clenching his jaw, Jungkook shakes his head lazily. “Because someone like Jimin doesn't fall in love with assholes,” he blurts out. “And neither does Hoseok.”

Yoongi drops his notebook to the table, causing the soju bottles to quake. “Hoseok never loved me,” he corrects, voice low. “I wish everyone would stop saying that.”

Rising to his feet, Yoongi begins the walk back to his bedroom, willing Jungkook to leave the conversation alone. It was beginning to become too much to handle at this late of an hour and nothing would come of it anyway. He didn't need to be reminded of his mistakes by some kid who barely understood how life worked.

“Do you remember the first day you met him? Because I do.”

Yoongi pauses at Jungkook's words, gritting his teeth.

“I remember the exact day because he came home and he couldn't stop smiling,” Jungkook recalls with a forlorn wistfulness clouding his voice. “Don't get me wrong, he described you as ’bitchy’ but he was… happy. Happy to finally have to work for someone's attention, for their respect. Happy that you didn't automatically assume what kind of person he was supposed to be. ”

Yoongi remains silent, squeezing his eyes closed.

Jungkook sighs, a weary sound that ages him. “I guess I tried to keep him as the Hoseok I met two years ago, but people change, they grow into themselves and sometimes it's not who we expect.”

Pivoting on the balls of his feet, Yoongi finally faces Jungkook. The younger is crying softly, but he wears a look of acceptance, of finality.

“I didn't stop it because I liked the feeling of being wanted over someone else because I've never had that,” Yoongi confesses, shrugging his shoulders as if that will ease the tension. “I know it's a really shitty thing to think, but I couldn't help it. No one has ever wanted me. Not my damn family, not my friends, not my bosses. I've been mediocre my entire life and then….. Hoseok.”

And he doesn't have to say another word, because it's really self-explanatory. Yoongi was just like every other human being on the planet. Just as naive, just as foolish when it came to love.

“I'm sorry,” he adds almost as an afterthought, but he knows it means shit to Jungkook.

“I don't think I'll ever be able to forget what either of you did, whether it was intentional or not, but I don’t want you to think that Hoseok never cared for you,” Jungkook breathes out, face scrunching up in obvious emotional pain. “My relationship didn't fail because you were just a piece of ass. He had me for that.”

Bewildered, Yoongi tugs on his oversized sweatshirt. “I don't know what you expect me to do with this,” he laments.

Shrugging, Jungkook rises from the couch and begins to collect his empty soju bottles, throwing them in the trash. “I don't expect you to do anything, and I don't really care what you do. But take it from me, nothing good ever happens to people who choose to hide who they really are. I think we can both see that now.”

“Nothing good happens when they stop hiding either,” Yoongi bites back bitterly, standing in the hallway with ramen-stained sweats, disowned by his family and left to flounder in the deep end for the rest of his life. He's not exactly sure what point Jungkook is trying to make, but whatever it is, Yoongi doesn't want to hear it.

Jungkook nods slowly, glancing towards the ground. “Then you haven't stopped hiding.”

With that, the younger breezes past him, heading towards his room.

Yoongi watches him go with tired eyes. “Thanks for….” he trails off, unsure of what in the conversation he is really grateful for. Maybe that Jungkook actually took the time to listen or that he didn't undermine Yoongi’s side of the story? Maybe that he was tired of tip-toeing around the other and it was nice to relieve the tension?

Glancing back, Jungkook smiles something dark and bitter. His eyes don't shine or sparkle quite the way Yoongi remembers. “You’re welcome, hyung.”

And then he’s slipping into his room, and the door shuts, leaving Yoongi alone with his thoughts in a tangled mess that threatens to constrict him with every passing second. He pads back to his room and eyes his phone on the nightstand for a few minutes before leaning over to cradle it in his hands.

He unlocks it, slides over to his contact list. His fingers hover above a name he should've deleted a long time ago. He never presses it, though, because soon the screen is covered with a few fat tears.

Just what did Jungkook think he was hiding from? Himself? Or a part of himself that he desperately wishes wasn't existing somewhere else in Seoul, with a smile in the shape of a heart?

———

Seokjin is looming over him and Hoseok honestly can't figure out how the elder got inside his house. It's three in the afternoon, the perfect time for a cat nap, but it looks like there’s been a change of plans.

Blinking at the sudden intrusion, Hoseok sits up on the couch with a groan, eyeing the other man. “How did you get in here?” he questions, grumbling when Seokjin ambles over to the window and suddenly opens the blinds.

“So this is what you've been wasting your vacation days on?” The elder shakes his head, glancing around at the nearly barren living room. He pauses, craning his neck to look into the bedroom just a few feet away. “You've been acting really strange the last couple of weeks….. Oh. When did he move out?”

Hoseok knows exactly who the “he” in question is, but his head is still fuzzy with sleep. “Seriously, hyung, how did you get in here?”

“You left the door unlocked.” Seokjin is staring down at Hoseok with an interesting mix of concern and annoyance. “You're lucky I wasn't a murderer.”

Yawning, Hoseok sinks back into the couch. “You're my boss. It's pretty much the same thing,” he retorts. “What? Am I not allowed to take a vacation?”

Seokjin frowns at the attitude but quickly dismisses it in favor of knocking over a pile of empty pizza boxes with his designer shoe-clad foot. “I asked you a question. When did Jungkook leave?”

To say that Hoseok is annoyed at the elder’s insistence would be an understatement. The reason he decided to use up every vacation day he had accrued over the last three years was because he’d rather not disclose how different his personal life has become, and he just needed a break to clear his head and to settle some matters in his life.

He has Jimin now, a constant presence, and that does soothe him, gives him another person to pour himself into in a way that’s not romantic or sexual. They moved him out of his shitty hostel about a month ago and now they share pleasant conversation over takeout food and soju almost every day. Hoseok still hears the younger cry at night though, in the office-turned-second bedroom but eventually Hoseok breaks down and crawls into bed with Jimin until he can fall asleep.

And now that he's on vacation, helping Jimin has helped Hoseok ease into the next phase of his life, one where he actively tries to think about his actions and how they reflect on others. So he cooks for Jimin, cleans up after Jimin, and just generally makes sure Jimin stays alive and that he's not hurting any more than he already is.

“Seok, answer me.”

When it becomes clear that Seokjin won't back down, Hoseok sucks in a deep breath and answers. “About two months ago.”

The elder purses his lips but nods his head. “So you've been doing well this whole time until now? Why the sudden vacation right during the busiest part of the season for this industry?” he queries, rubbing his temples. “Seok, I know breakups are hard, but this is unnecessary. You're one of the city’s best choreographers, you're young, and apparently you're the next Piccasso or Monet or something.”

“Who?” Hoseok furrows his brows, trying to sort through Seokjin’s words. He feels sluggish and misplaced, but splitting your time sleeping in two different beds every night will do that to you.

Sighing heavily, Seokjin ignores Hoseok’s confusion and moves to pull the younger off the couch by his limp arms. He heaves repeatedly until Hoseok springs from the couch and his feet land on the wooden floor.

“Get off your ass. I will not have you wallowing in self-pity when you're quite possibly the most capable man I've ever known,” the elder demands, brushing crumbs off Hoseok’s sweatpants. “Your vacation is revoked and I've assigned you to a new project.”

Frowning, Hoseok pulls away from the other’s insistent hands. “Hyung, you don't understand. I can't just—”

“You can,” Seokjin chirps, smiling brightly. “Now, get dressed and lets go.”

“Hyung, I'm serious. There’s—”

Hoseok doesn't have time to mention his new roommate because Jimin chooses that moment to make an appearance, padding into the living room shirtless, with a pair of Hoseok's old jogger pants hanging low on his hips. The younger is fiddling with his phone, eyes downcast, so he doesn't notice the two men awkwardly gaping at him from a few feet away.

“Why, hello.”

Seokjin’s greeting startles Jimin and the man jumps back into the wall with a yelp. His eyes grow wide, darting between Seokjin and Hoseok before he lets out a squeak and runs back down the hall.

Turning to Hoseok with raised brows, Seokjin whistles. “Looks like you've moved on,” he teases, though his voice carries a note of anxiety.

“No, no,” Hoseok protests rubbing the back of his neck in embarrassment. “Jimin is my new roommate. He needed a place to stay and I already knew him previously so….”

Of all the emotions that Hoseok has gotten used to seeing flash across Seokjin’s face, the current expression is new. The elder looks aghast but also slightly shy, a deep blush coloring his cheeks underneath his wide puppy eyes.

“Just a roommate?”

Hoseok laughs, hoping to ease the sudden tension surrounding his boss’ odd questioning. “Yeah, just a roommate. He's in between jobs right now. Kind of having a bit of a rough time,” he assures. He stops then, taking in Seokjin’s quickly reddening face. “Hyung, are you ok?”

“Yeah… So he just…. You actually let him walk around looking like that?” the elder blurts out, glancing back at the hallway before quickly averting his gaze as Jimin reappears, this time with a shirt on.

The younger gives a sheepish wave before disappearing into the kitchen.

Hoseok is really confused at the way Seokjin fidgets in his designer suit, huffing and running his hand through his hair in distress.

“Hyung?”

“His cheeks are so puffy….. those little toes….”

Hoseok is beyond disturbed. “Hyung?” he tries again.

“Uh, yeah, so anyways, I have a favor to ask you,” Seokjin begins, seemingly regaining some semblance of composure. “There's this company in Busan that works with underprivileged kids and they would like someone to teach a two-week workshop for the youth there and—” he trails off just as Jimin shuffles back into the room.

“Hobi-hyung, we’re out of milk and some other stuff. Do you want me to go to the store later or did you want—”

“Do you eat?”

Seokjin’s sudden question throws the room into silence. Jimin can only blink in response, unsure of how to answer. Even Hoseok isn't sure what his boss is asking.

“I mean, do you eat food?” Seokjin clarifies with a strained crack in his voice, face the color of a tomato as he stares at the younger man.

“Yes?” Jimin replies, his answer coming out more as a strangled question.

“Hyung?” Hoseok prompts but Seokjin is still staring wide-eyed at Jimin, standing awkwardly with his legs bowed out. The stance looks uncomfortable.

“I mean, do you eat gourmet food?” Seokjin clears his throat and smiles tersely. Hoseok swears the man’s eye twitches.

Jimin seems to think this over, chewing at his thumbnail. “Uh, I don't think I ever really had any before…”

“Well you should try it…. sometime,” Seokjin declares, running a hand through his hair and letting out a laugh that sounds squeaky and way too high-pitched. “I cook things like that.”

Blinking, Jimin shifts around on his feet. “That's…. nice? Um, excuse me, but I'm going to go to the store now. It was nice meeting you….”

“Jin. You can call me Jin-hyung.”

“Right. Jin-hyung.” Jimin smiles then, awkward but stunning and Hoseok watches the same expression dawn upon his boss’ face.

The two men watch Jimin disappear once more and Hoseok takes a few moments to watch the way Seokjin’s shoulders sag in relief, his posture instantly relaxing.

“That was smooth,” Hoseok teases gently only to be surprised when his boss whirls on him with a panicked expression.

Seokjin puffs out his cheeks and lets out a huff of air. He looks far more stressed than Hoseok has ever seen him. “I— This never happened, ok?” He waves a finger in Hoseok's face.

“Yes, sir.” Hoseok really tries hard not to laugh.

“So, about that Busan workshop… I think it would be good for you to get out and get back to dance the way you discovered it,” Seokjin suggests softly, a lot more causal now that Jimin is no longer present. “Like I said, it's two weeks, but all expenses would be paid and you would stay in this cute little hanok, and…” he trails off, furrowing his brow. He looks back over his shoulder for a brief moment. “They gave me permission to assign an extra salary if you wanted to bring an assistant.”

Hoseok stands there a moment, bewildered. He's had several assistants before, all volunteers from within the company but Seokjin has never officially assigned him one, especially for trips like this.

“Are you asking me if I want to bring Jimin?” he tries, surprised that he guessed Seokjin’s intention correctly when his boss nods, a healthy blush blooming on his cheeks once more.

“You said he was in between jobs,” Seokjin clarifies, trying to look nonchalant about the suggestion but failing miserably. “He can at least help you with the kids or their parents. I mean, it was just a thought, you don't have to—”

Hoseok reaches out to squeeze his hyung’s shoulder. “He would love that, thank you.”

“It's really just to help you out, you know? But I have some business there so I'll be around too if you guys need anything at all, so—”

“Hyung.” Hoseok cracks a smile, Seokjin looking over at him with flustered cheeks and pouty lips. “Thanks,” he repeats, satisfied with just that one word.

Lately, things had been difficult for him, hard to process, but it's in these moments that he's reminded that he enjoys the support of others, the comfort of friends amongst the tumultuous storm.

Seokjin promises to give Hoseok more details later and then leaves with a sincere goodbye. Moments later, Jimin peeks into the living room, eyes trained on Hoseok.

“I overheard,” he begins, stepping into the space shyly. “You don't have to take me. I'm really not useful and I think that guy just likes the way I look, no offense to him, but I—”

Hoseok walks back over to the couch and wraps himself up in his nest of blankets. “Hyung really isn't like that,” he argues, though without any anger. “He's actually straight as far as I know but he does appreciate beauty. He used to be a former model.”

“Oh.” Jimin’s caramel skin becomes dusted with rose. He smiles at the ground.

Hoseok can't help but grin at the sight. Jimin hasn't smiled like this in weeks. He clears his throat before getting back to the matter at hand. “Jungkook had mentioned that you wanted to be a dancer at one point. So, you're going to be a dancer.” He smiles proudly, genuinely. “We should go shopping for some new clothes. I can't have my assistant choreographer wearing hand-me-downs, now can I?”

Jimin looks up at him then, eyes wide and sparkling with tears. He doesn't move.

“Well, hurry up and get ready,” Hoseok teases, falling back into the steady flow of the familial relationship that's been blossoming for weeks now. “Don't make me chase you again.”

Laughing, Jimin takes off down the hall, yelling, “Please don't! I'm sorry about stealing food off your plate! You weren't eating it!”

Hoseok takes off after him. “I had to go pee, you brat!”

The sound of their laughter bounces off the walls, filling up a space that had been devoid of warmth for far too long.

Hoseok hopes it can last.

Chapter Text

The sky is full of stars this close to the outskirts of Busan, nestled into the junction of grasslands and the beach. The hanok Seokjin had provided his employees was quaint and sweet, and Hoseok had really been enjoying the simplicity of the accommodations. It had been quite sometime since he was out of a bustling city, content with crisp air and the sounds of droning wildlife.

The rental car sits in the gravel driveway, gleaming black in the moonlight, but besides the vehicle, the scenery looks like something out of a Joseon-era drama. Even the air tasted pulled out of time— fresh with a twinge of salt.

It has only been three days into their trip, but Hoseok can't deny how different he feels, how small in this world full of unknowns. It's nice.

“Hyung? Are you ok?”

Hoseok turns from where he's sitting on the low porch to find Jimin standing by the sliding doors. He’s wearing a large t-shirt and a pair of athletic shorts, his bare feet poised on the threshold. “Yeah, I'm fine. Just looking at the stars.”

Jimin comes to sit by the elder, glancing up into the night. “I remember these skies,” he whispers, smiling to himself. His eyes turn into little half-moons and Hoseok feels the urge to coo at him but doesn't.

“Are you from here?” Hoseok asks instead, trying to recall everything Jungkook had once told him about this man. Perhaps he had been too wrapped up in himself to really pay attention. He severely regrets that now, because the younger becomes more of a blessing to him as the days go by. He wants to get to know Jimin, to be there for him when no one else is.

With a sigh, Jimin pulls his knees up to his chest and rests his chin atop them. “Yeah, I grew up in Busan, by the sea,” he explains. “We lived in a small village when I was really little, but moved to the bigger city when I started going to school.”

Nodding, Hoseok reaches over to rub Jimin’s back, sensing the sudden wistful sorrow in the younger's tone. He could ask more follow-up questions, but he doesn't want Jimin to think of unpleasant memories, so he decides to change the subject for the better. “You're doing great in the workshop. You've got a natural talent for dancing.”

Jimin gives him a knowing glance in response, but there's no anger present in it.

“You know what I mean,” Hoseok clarifies with a laugh, jostling the other in a teasing manner. “Especially the hip hop dances. I've never seen someone who hasn't been trained take so quickly to it before.”

Blushing, Jimin drop his gaze to his feet. “Thanks, hyung.”

It's true; Hoseok isn't just saying these things to placate the younger. At first, Jimin had merely stood around and watched Hoseok teach the teens simple choreo, only speaking up when a parent showed up to pick up their kid or ask questions. That night, Hoseok had caught Jimin practicing the sequence behind the hanok while he thought Hoseok had been asleep. Day Two saw Jimin in the back of the large room, partially miming the moves with an embarrassed look. But today, he had boldly ventured up to the front of the class, next to Hoseok, and had definitely shown his worth.

Hoseok had never seen a smile so bright before and for a brief moment, he remembered why he fell in love with dance in the first place. Not because of the fame you could achieve, the awards you could get, or the recognition, but because of the way it could change your life, make you feel something outside of yourself.

“What were you thinking about?” Jimin asks after several long moments of comfortable silence.

“Just things….”

Jimin nods, fiddling with his hands. He lets out a deep sigh and turns to Hoseok. “I've been thinking about telling Jungkook what happened to me, but I don't know how to say it,” he confesses. “What if he thinks I asked for it? What if he's disgusted?”

Reaching out for the younger, Hoseok takes his hand. “Jungkook isn't like that, Jimin,” he assures. “As for how to tell him…. Just do whatever makes you the most comfortable. You know he won't judge you. He's your friend.”

Jimin nods in agreement, playing with Hoseok’s long fingers. “My mom once told me that the best way to say something that you were scared of saying was to write it in a letter.”

“That actually makes sense.” Hoseok is leaning into the younger now, trying to block the sudden breeze whipping through the night air. “Sometimes it's easier to say things when the other person isn't there. I guess because it may cause you or them pain if it's just blurted out loud.”

Humming, Jimin laces their fingers together. “That's what she said too.” He pauses then, looking up into the dark horizon. “I thought about coming out to my parents that way once. I had just turned thirteen and my school had this two-week trip that all the secondary students went on at the beginning of the summer. I thought about leaving the letter for them when I left, so that they would have the entire trip to think it over. So they could see what it would be like if I wasn't around.”

“Did you do it?” Hoseok asks, but he's certain he can guess the answer from the way Jimin’s eyes turn glassy with tears.

“No,” Jimin whispers. His hand begins to shake in Hoseok's. “Looking back now, I think it would've been better if they found out that way. I don't know if it would've changed anything— maybe it wouldn't have— but I never gave them the opportunity. I just assumed they didn't deserve it, that they couldn't handle it.”

Hoseok looks out into the night, Jimin quietly crying beside him, and realizes why the younger's words sting him so badly. He never gave Jungkook the opportunity to understand because he had thought he didn't deserve it. And it wasn't even about Yoongi; Hoseok had been struggling long before he even met the other man. The point was that he had been aware of his issues when he met Jungkook and never bothered to say a thing.

He hadn't once entertained the idea of sitting his boyfriend down and sharing his desires and fears, the things that kept him up and night and made it difficult to even get out of bed in the morning. He just…. didn't, convinced that Jungkook wouldn't care or understand, so he let his resentment fester until his spirit began to rot inside him.

Jimin gently shakes Hoseok back to attention, leaning into the elder’s chest and wiping at the tears on his face. “Hyung?”

“Yes, Jimin?”

“Can I talk to you about something really personal?”

Hoseok wraps his arms around Jimin and kisses the top of his head. They have only known each other for a short time, but it feels natural to him. Like the way he and his sister used to cuddle during stormy nights, sprawled out on their couch while their parents busied themselves with house projects and cooking. “Of course.”

Steadying himself with a few breaths, Jimin tucks his head into Hoseok's chest. “So Jin-hyung was there today….”

Hoseok can't help but smile. Seokjin had shown up in Busan earlier that morning for “business” which Hoseok swears consists of staring at Jimin and bugging Hoseok about whether Jimin has eaten, if he's sleeping well, or if the younger has gotten to properly tour Busan yet.

“He was there,” Hoseok prompts gently, knowing how hard it is for Jimin to talk about something like this.

“Well, he asked if I would like to go to dinner with him tomorrow.”

Pulling back to look Jimin in the eye, Hoseok remains silent so the other can continue.

“And it's not that I don't want to go, because he's so sweet and caring,” Jimin quickly adds, cheeks reddening. “It's just that…. what if he likes me? I mean he's gorgeous and wears suits and I'm…. I was working in a strip club and things…. happened to me. He won't want me.”

Hoseok sucks in a quick breath. “Look, I cant promise what his reaction will be, but here's the thing: you don't have to tell him tomorrow,” he explains, lifting Jimin’s chin up so their eyes can meet. “That's your business and if you don't want to share it immediately, then you don't have to.”

Jimin smiles through his tears.

“I will say this though,” Hoseok continues. “I've known hyung for a long time, and he's a really open-minded person. He knew about Jungkook and he didn't even bat an eye when I told him. Also, like I told you before, he's never shown interest in a guy before, so he's already opened his mind a little just by showing interest in you.”

Jimin’s eyes grow wide at this and Hoseok wants to giggle at the way the younger’s face heats up. “Oh my god, he might be a virgin when it comes to men….”

“Maybe you'll have to teach him,” Hoseok teases, earning him a slap on the arm from the younger.

“Hyung! Don't be gross.”

Hoseok’s laughing now, enjoying the way Jimin continues to grow redder with every second. Before long, the other feigns insult with a cute pout, slipping back into the house with the excuse of going to bed, but Hoseok knows Jimin can't stay mad for long.

He finishes his train of chuckles, his face beginning to turn sore from smiling. He rubs his cheeks, once again looking up at the night sky and thinking over everything the younger had just told him.

Suddenly, an idea pops into his head. It's overdue, but he knows it needs to be done, and since talking to Jungkook in person was most likely never going to happen amiably, he figures this is the next best thing.

Walking back into the hanok, Hoseok heads straight for the low-lying table in the foyer. He pulls out a drawer and smiles at the sight of stationary hidden in its depths. He pulls out a pen and a stack of the glossy paper and makes himself comfortable back outside on the porch. He addresses the letter to Taehyung, since he's not sure where Jungkook is living now, but he makes sure to make clear who the letter is intended for.

Jungkook,

I know that words will never be enough, but I'm sorry….

———

 

“Min Yoongi?”

Yoongi looks up from his desk, pausing the audio to the track he’s reworking.

There's a man in the doorway, a higher-up executive that Yoongi has only seen a handful of times. Employees of his stature are never on this side of the building, let alone standing in Yoongi's doorway.

“Uh, yes?”

“Lee Soohyuk requests your presence in his office.”

Yoongi pales. The CEO wants to see him? Production assistant Min Yoongi?

He voices as much and the reply is still the same. Lee Soohyuk wants to meet with him. Now.

The elevator ride is quiet and tense, but only on Yoongi’s part. He's all fidgety and anxious about not being properly dressed. He may be nonchalant about most things in his life, but never about his career. He’s come too far to be careless now, but that hardly seems like consolation as he makes the long walk to the the CEO’s gilded office.

Once he’s seated in a plush leather chair with rounded bronze studs adorning the armrests, his eyes fall upon the man who runs one of the largest entertainment companies in all of Korea.

Lee Soohyuk looks every bit intimidating as he should, framed by two large floor-to-ceiling glass window panes that overlook the Seoul skyline. His suit is pressed to perfection and even though Yoongi isn't really into designer fashion, he knows the clothing costs more than any monthly salary he's ever made in his life and probably will ever make.

“Min Yoongi,” Soohyuk begins, smiling cordially. “Would you like a drink?”

There's a glass decanter of amber liquid sitting on the corner of his dark wooden desk, and even though Yoongi knows he should accept, he politely shakes his head.

“I'm sorry, Huijangnim, but I don't drink.”

Soohyuk nods his head before reaching under his desk and producing a cold bottle of water. Yoongi accepts it with wide eyes but he doesn't forget his manners and inclines his head respectfully.

“I'm sorry if I have interrupted a productive day, but I wanted to speak with you regarding the music showcase that took place a couple of months ago.”

Clutching his water bottle, Yoongi shifts in the chair, causing it to softly groan. “I was honored to be included,” he replies thoughtfully. “It was nice to see the track I worked on performed. Thank you for the opportunity.”

Soohyuk smiles and it's genuine, crinkling up the corners of his puffy eyes. It reminds Yoongi of the way his father used to look at him when he was young had just said something particularly amusing to an adult.

“You're certainly welcome, but I was rather impressed with another track of yours,” the CEO admits, folding his hands. “ ’The Last’? It was performed well by the the young men of that group but I'm more interested in the author of the lyrics. They're …. Well, they're unique and raw. Something from your underground days, I presume?”

Yoongi nods, feeling exposed, pulled apart, and inspected. Music had been the pipe dream of an angsty young adult, a way for him to express himself in ever-changing ways. He swallows hard. “That was a long time ago,” he admits. “But I'm glad you enjoyed it.”

Soohyuk grins again, this time adding in a little chuckle. “Kim said you would be a little sheepish about the whole thing, but let me quit teasing you.” The CEO sits back in his chair and eyes Yoongi. “Namjoon shared your original track with me after much insistence. He also had a few others lying around as well. You're talented, Yoongi. Not perfect, but no one is, not at first. The point is, I want to expand our entertainment value and I want you to be the beginning of that. I'm offering you a contract to rap. Are you interested?”

Interested?

Yoongi feels like he's going to pass out from the sheer shock. The room is fuzzy at the edges and his heart is erratic. Some distant noise is buzzing in his ears and his mouth is gaping open.

“All of that? Because of some lyrics?” He can't believe he just spoke so informally to the CEO, but the man looks unfazed.

“All of this, because you’ve got something special in you, Yoongi. All that vulnerability really speaks to today's youth and I want to be the one to embrace that.”

To cash in on that, Yoongi thinks, but doesn't dare say. He knows better than to spit in the face of opportunity. This is…. everything he wanted, once upon a time, and maybe he still does.

Watching his song be performed did spark a fire in him, even for a few moments, and even though he hates dwelling in the past, he reveled in the emotion the memory had brought.

There wasn't much to recall, just late nights and crowded bars, drunken audiences and the constant need to fill his notebooks with words. Reworking lyrics, standing under the hot lights of the stage in the back of some no-name club. Hiding his hobby from his parents and staying up all night watching videos on the internet in languages he didn't even understand.

But the emotion.

Stammering his way through his first lines until he finally felt the flow, the rhythm, only to end his verse and hear thunderous applause. The feeling of re-reading those coffee-stained lyrics and thinking he was a god among men, a true artist among a world full of dreamers. The invincibility never lasted long, but to never stop chasing the dream was in its own way a form of transcendence.

But he had given all that up for something that was practical, that didn't fray him so much at the edges. Something that didn't constantly cut open wounds and force him to bleed out over the page.

“Min?”

Yoongi looks up, pulled away from his thoughts. He knows he looks ridiculous, sitting there with his mouth hanging open and his eyes glossed over.

“Think it over,” Soohyuk says softly. “Let Kim know your decision by the end of the month, ok?”

“Ok” is all Yoongi manages to respond, numbly walking out of the CEO’s office. The man from earlier is gone, leaving Yoongi alone to begin the journey back to his studio with his thoughts swirling around violently.

A little ways from the CEO’s office is a hall filled with pictures of all the groups the company manages, along with cases filled with plaques and trophies. Yoongi stops there and looks through the glass to read the engravings on some of the awards, and as his eyes drift up, he sees himself reflected in the crystal.

And for the first time, he sees Min Yoongi.

Not Min Yoongi the son, the brother. Not Min Yoongi, the friend, the coworker. The lover. The heartbreaker. The fuck-up.

Just Min Yoongi.

He smiles, strangely enraptured with how he looks doing it, the swell of his cheeks and the pink expanse of his gums. His eyes crinkle up too, and he sighs at the sight, so unused to seeing himself so…. happy? Relieved? Hopeful? He's not entirely sure what it is, but he wants to hold onto the feeling.

Humming, Yoongi retraces his steps back to the studio, finding Namjoon in his chair, body poised expectantly towards the doorway.

“I'm assuming he finally talked to you?”

Leaning against the doorframe, Yoongi shoves his hands into his pockets. “Yeah, he did.” He pauses to take a deep breath, looking down at his feet before bringing his eyes to Namjoon once more. “Thank you, for pulling for me, but I—”

“Let me stop you there, hyung,” Namjoon interrupts, holding out a skinny index finger. “The CEO asked about you. I didn't mention anything to him until he wanted to see your portfolio. Of course, you had some recent tracks in there and I did plug the shit out of your mixtape, but honestly, this was all you, Yoongi. This was all you and you deserve it.”

Speechless, Yoongi leans his head against the doorframe and just breathes. How many years had he spent fantasizing about a moment like this? About someone seeing him through his work and liking what they saw enough to give him a chance?

Too many years and yet now that it's here, he still can't believe it.

Namjoon laughs softly under his breath, rolling his chair across the floor until he’s directly under Yoongi, capturing the elder’s attention.

“It's not going to be easy, I can already tell you that much,” he states, eyes big despite their heavily-slanted shape. “You're going to have to work for it and there's going to be days when you regret it. Relationships will be hard to find and harder to keep. After a while, you'll lose yourself but you'll find yourself again. People will expect too much and praise way too little.” Namjoon pauses then, pupils dilated and mesmerizing just as they had been the first time Yoongi met the highly-intellectual man. “But if you close your eyes and listen to the music, and you can't imagine ever feeling the way you do if you couldn't hear it, then you know what you need to do.”

Without having noticed, Yoongi had slipped his eyes shut, thinking over every late night as a teenager scribbling down lyrics. Every slick, sweaty handprint left on the mics in underground bars as he nervously took the stage. Every time he woke in the dead of the night with a melody in his head and a song in his heart.

Everything.

Now he opens his eyes, staring down at Namjoon and he's breathless, teetering on the edge of tomorrow, of something so terrifying, and he's not quite sure what scares him the most: the thought of losing the relationship he has with himself, who he is right now, or losing the relationships he could have in the future, all a sacrifice in exchange for fame, for the music.

And for a fleeting moment, he sees himself back in college, pulling an all-nighter in his dorm room while a storm beats heavily upon his window. He then sees himself sprawled on the sheets of a bed, candles flickering around him, weightless. That same storm is relentless outside, but inside the ocean is calm, nothing but gentle waves. Yoongi reaches a hand up, expecting air, but another hand closes around his own, holding his fingers tightly, his heart even tighter.

“But if you close your eyes and listen to the music, and you can't imagine ever feeling the way you do if you couldn't hear it, then you know what you need to do.”

Yoongi wonders if people can be music too.

Chapter Text

It's late, the hour ungodly, but Yoongi feels more alert than he has in quite awhile. Namjoon had found him lurking in the studio again and they had gotten into a deep conversation about Yoongi's impending contract with the entertainment company.

It's only been a week since the offer was made to him, but Yoongi feels just as lost as before, just as confused about exactly how far he was willing to go to find himself again. It was one thing to begin making music again, but under contract? Under restrictions and expectations, managed and contained? He knew this was reality, the sacrifice for fame, but he wanted it so badly, he almost didn't care.

To hold the mic again, to taste the rap in his mouth as flies past his lips into the ears of the crowd—

Was it worth it?

Namjoon had said that the marketing department already had some ideas for his debut. Words like “fiery” and “raw” were thrown around a lot and apparently there were even concept sketches drawn up of Yoongi with bleached blonde hair and ears full of piercings, scowling at the camera with heady defiance.

It was baffling to Yoongi, having only worked on the production side of things, but he's not surprised. The company is known for idol groups and popular solo acts, not grungy rappers with a persona to push. But even with all the preparations and speculations about his image, it seemed like they were taking Yoongi’s feelings into consideration and he has to admit, he likes the edgy look. It almost feels natural to him to pick a stage presence so confident and assured.

It's everything he’s not but knows he can become.

But still, the decision looms large over him, and he can't bring himself to choose, so for now he stumbles back into the apartment, already half-asleep. Taehyung is crashing at a college friend’s place to finish up more projects and Jungkook is working his usual shift at the club.

With a yawn, Yoongi passes by Jungkook’s room, the door ajar, stopping only when he notices wads of paper littering the floor. Curious, he steps inside and takes in the sight of the white shapes scattered everywhere in the moonlight. He dares to go further in the room, a sense of anxiety creeping up his spine as he surveys the sight. It's not like Jungkook to be so messy if the other’s constant nit-picking over Yoongi’s cleaning habits were anything to go by. Carefully, he picks up one of the crumpled wads and unfolds it, reading out the scrawl in the moonlight.

 

Hoseok,

Go fuck yourself.

 

Yoongi goes over the short note with confusion, steeping over to another paper ball and picking it up to read too.

 

Seok,

Why are you doing this? You know that I hate you.

 

One by one, Yoongi follows the trail of aborted writings, each of them some form of hostile letter to Hoseok. They lead him to Jungkook’s desk, where a letter postmarked from Busan hangs out of its envelope, wrinkled in anger.

Swallowing down the part of himself that protests at the invasion of his roommate’s privacy, Yoongi carefully pulls the letter out and unfolds it. His eyes grow wide.

 

 

Jungkook,

I know that words will never be enough, but I'm sorry for everything. I said that before, the night that you caught me and Yoongi, but to be honest, I don't think I truly meant it then. I don't think I could've. I wasn't in the right state of mind.

Let me explain, even though I know I owe you more than just this.

Where do I even begin? I want to keep apologizing, telling you how much you mean to me, but would it really matter to you after everything I've done? Probably not, and I don't blame you.

So, I'll start with something even harder. Something that I've never told anyone before.

I hate my life.

I have ever since I was fifteen. I don't really have a reason (I didn't know I was gay then so I can't blame it on that whole mess), but one day I just woke up and nothing really seemed to matter anymore. My friends didn't interest me as much, things I used to enjoy doing just seemed pointless, and sometimes I couldn't sleep even though I was exhausted. I was young, so I just figured I was becoming a real teenager, with real problems. Everyone around me seemed to agree, so I just kept going.

Then came the ups and downs (it's what I called them). Some days I was numb and apathetic, but then other days I was worked up over the simplest of things. My mind was racing constantly and I got distracted by everything. The days were never long enough and once I focused on something, I worked myself into a frenzy trying to finish it. I couldn't seem to quiet my mind until I did. Dancing helped a lot those days.

During the worse “down” days, I saw the world very differently. It was more than just exhaustion or annoyance. Everything hurt. Holidays agitated me because I felt like I didn't deserve to be happy. Things I used to enjoy would make me anxious and frustrated for no reason. I kept comparing myself to other people, even people I saw on tv or in magazines. I saw my life and thought I was stunted, that everything I did was unproductive and completely meaningless. I told myself that I could do absolutely nothing and my life would turn out the exact same. I was destined to just survive but not truly live.

This went on for years. I lost a lot of friends. My family didn't know what to do except coddle me and eventually leave me alone when nothing changed. But I did notice something interesting. Whenever I was having an “up” day, people treated me differently. It was like they were relieved that Hoseok was finally back, not realizing that my highs only led to even worse lows. Even though I was obsessive and hyperactive, they liked me better that way.

So, I started pretending. I laughed at everything. I cracked jokes and squealed and made myself the center of attention and life completely changed for me. My family came back to me, supported me through everything, even coming out (I think to them, the severe depression was somehow worse than me liking boys). I became so popular at school that I didn't even need to try out for the dance team. They just accepted me formed their schedule to fit my needs.

University was pretty much the same. By then, I had figured out how to manipulate my persona until I got what I wanted out of life. It became like second nature, until I actually forgot that I was depressed. To me, I was cured and I didn't even need drugs. The only problem was that I could never stop acting or everything would fall apart.

Kook, when I met you, I had just gone through a rough patch in my career and it was the first time in many years that I remembered what was wrong with me. Just a week before I had woken up one day and felt the same apathetic numbness creeping back. I didn't eat or sleep the rest of the week. I cried, wondering why I couldn't just turn it off.

Then I had an “up”. My friends from work convinced me to go to a club and that's when I saw you, so confident but so young. You were in control of your body and your mind. I could see it as I watched you take what you wanted and give back what you didn't. I was so jealous, but also inspired by you. I wanted to possess you.

It sounds so fucking creepy, but that's literally what I thought and you were drawn to my persona, the carefree Hoseok, the one everyone knew but me.

I'm sorry that I'm not the man you fell in love with, and all of this could never excuse what I did. You didn't deserve all the lies and my resentment. I should've told you the moment I felt my mask slip but I didn't want to lose the security I found in you. I was wrong for that. And I know you may not want to hear about it, but I did the same with Yoongi, but in a different way.

He was drawn to the real me, the one I had grown to hate. I saw myself in him too and after repressing myself for so long, it felt like a breath of air when I could be me around him. Me: aggressive, self-loathing, spiteful, hopeless. These aren't good traits to have, but they're me and I can't change that, I can only try to do better and I chose not to.

I let both of you down and I let myself down.

Wow, this letter is really fucking long but I had to tell someone and most importantly, I owed you an explanation even if it's hard to understand and shitty.

I love you Jungkook, and everything you did for me. You're a beautiful person and I wish you only the best. One day you'll find someone who loves the part of you that gives and gives, and unlike me, they won't just take, but they'll give back too.

-Hoseok

 

With trembling hands, Yoongi folds the letter back up, slipping it back into the wrinkled envelope. He spends some time then, blinking at the wall, the shadows from the window dancing along the surface as the wind blows outside. He isn't quite sure what to think, what to feel.

Hoseok has crossed his mind many times over the last two months and the memories are always bittersweet. He hates the way he feels used, the way he feels empty in a way he never was before, even during his deepest depression, even when he had reached the bottom of countless liquor bottles. And if it's even possible, he feels more empty now, because he doesn't feel like he just read a letter written by a stranger. He feels like he read a letter he had written to himself, except Hoseok is far braver that Yoongi ever could be.

In the slew of penned words, Hoseok has managed to finally admit to himself the demons inside, the unnamed terrors that plague his waking days. The part of himself that society has taught him to hide deep inside his mind until hell blossoms in that place and all you can do is scratch at the walls and cry, screaming Why can't I be normal? Yoongi knows this because it's what he's lived with everyday, drowned in alcohol, sarcasm, self-depreciation, and long days staring at a computer screen.

All those months ago, he told himself that the dreams and his hidden sexuality were the cause of it, but what if….. what if he was born this way, with a fractured mind that tries to piece itself back together?

He had never considered that before. Everyone had always told him that things were fixable on some level, and perhaps that's why he thought his depression in college was nothing more than stress, his loneliness was nothing more than need, and that understanding his sexuality would help him move on.

Everyone had always told him—

And that's when he remembers a seemingly inconsequential day from years ago.

He was barely nine then, but he recalls it as a strange time where he was constantly frustrated at all the things around him. Moving homes, new school, new friends, Taejoon suddenly not wanting to hang out with him as much.

He remembers the stark white walls of the doctor’s office, asking his mother why he was there if he wasn't sick. “It's a Doctor for your mind” his mother had told him when the man finally came out of his office.

The doctor talked to Yoongi for a long time. He asked a lot of questions, but if pressed, he couldn't tell you what they were today. All he knows is that he answered a question while scribbling on a piece of notebook paper with a red crayon and he looked up to find the doctor staring at him with wide eyes and his mouth set in a grin line.

When the doctor was finished, he walked Yoongi out into the lobby and the child watched as his parent’s hopeful expressions faded as the doctor spoke words that Yoongi couldn't understand except for “tests” and “medicine”.

His father had shouted, shaking his head, insisting that nothing was wrong with his son. His mother cried into her hands.

They left the white-walled office.

They never went back.

Lost in his thoughts, Yoongi barely notices another presence in the apartment until he hears the sound of water running across the hall. He tears his eyes away from Jungkook's desk and creeps into the hallway, intending on heading to his room to sit down and just think, but then something catches his ear in the silence of the space.

The shower is on in the hall bathroom, water crashing down onto the tile, but above that is the sound of a sweet voice singing.

Jungkook.

Eyes wide, Yoongi finds himself drawn to the sound, hovering outside the door. The melody is soft at first, faint but beautiful, and as the minutes pass by, it gets stronger, until all Yoongi can hear is that voice, heartbroken yet angelic, filling his frayed senses with an acute sorrow that he hasn't felt in quite awhile.

Without thinking, he slides to the carpet, resting his head against the door, breathing deeply as he remembers Hoseok’s letter and Jungkook's aborted and pain-filled replies. The worries he's been harboring about Jimin, the decision about his future looming above him, taunting him with uncertainty. His family abandoning him, his first home taken away, the friends he pushes away, the strangers that look at him oddly on the street.

The growing hate inside himself.

The realization that he's sick, that his mind isn't and hasn't ever been right. That he probably needs the help that he had been denied all those years ago.

The labels he has put on himself in the matter of a few months.

It's just too much.

He cries, tears wetting his cheeks and sliding down the wood of the door. His sobs mingle with Jungkook's voice, so angelic that it grips Yoongi’s heart and squeezes because he realizes that the younger man is human too. That his heart aches just as much as Yoongi's if not more, and in this world, why do they hurt?

Why does anyone hurt?

Who decides who can be happy and who is incapable—

Yoongi loses track of time as his panic overwhelms him and soon the bathroom door is opening, steam billowing out.

Above him, Jungkook stands, t-shirt and sweatpants clinging to his damp skin. The younger startles, scooting back to give Yoongi space.

“Y-Yoongi-hyung?”

The elder can't reply, his world narrowing down to the burning behind his eyes and the stinging in his heart. His head spins and he feels his heart begin to race on hands and knees, shaking, trembling, grasping for help. He's aware that Jungkook is talking to him, trying to pick him up, but all he can do is babble incoherently, hands gripping Jungkook's shirt and pulling. Blood rushes in his ears as his worlds tilts and spots of black dance in his vision.

It isn't until he feels himself wrapped in an embrace, that Yoongi becomes lucid once more, startled to find Jungkook holding him on the couch, breathing into his hair.

“Count with me. Breathe,” the younger whispers, voice strong and firm, and Yoongi can only comply, letting Jungkook lead them through the numbers one through ten and back again, until Yoongi can breathe properly.

The only light on is glowing from the kitchen, but neither of them move to remedy that. They just stay that way, intertwined, silent, and Yoongi closes his eyes and panic threatens to consume him once more as his thoughts come back out to play.

But he can't go down that road again, and Jungkook’s chest is warm and his breathing steady, and the younger is singing again, reminding Yoongi of the time his brother had found him crying on the concrete after falling off his bike.

Taejoon had cradled the child then, singing a song off the tv about the worlds weakest superhero, a man made of bread, and Yoongi had dozed off in his brother’s arms, tears still clinging to his lashes.

When he wakes now, Jungkook is still holding him, tears of his own clinging to lashes framing slumbering eyes.

Something has shifted.

He's not sure what exactly it is.

———

 

Seokjin slurps down his noodles rather sloppily, leading Hoseok to arch a brow in question. To say it was odd to see his boss, the former model turned businessman, eating so undignified would be an understatement.

“Hyung, are you ok?”

Pausing with noodles hanging limply from his mouth, Seokjin blinks at Hoseok as if he's just now noticing the other is sitting across from him. He spoons the noodles fully into his mouth and sets his chopsticks down.

“Sorry, I was just thinking about—”

“Jimin?” Hoseok finishes with a sly smile. He laughs when his boss turns flaming red. “He said he enjoyed the dinner back in Busan. He asks about you a lot. I think he's waiting for another invite.”

Taking a sip of his water, Seokjin shakes his head. “It's too soon,” he argues. “He's going to think I'm this old creepy man that just wants in his pants. He was so shy last time, and anytime I mentioned anything even closely related to dating, I swear he turned green like he was going to vomit all over the table.”

Hoseok sighs, wishing he could tell the elder that Jimin is definitely not opposed to dating; it's the other, more intimate, aspects of a relationship that now tie Jimin’s stomach up in knots. He doesn't say as much though because it's not his place.

“I think you should talk to him instead of avoiding him,” he suggests as the waitress comes by to fill up his cup. “It's been two weeks since Busan. If your intention is to pursue him then you're giving off the wrong impression.”

“I don't want to scare him off,” Seokjin blurts out. “He's so kind and soft-hearted and I've only ever dated models with long legs and bad attitudes. He's going to think that I'm just playing him. But I'm not. He's…. different.”

Pushing aside his now empty bowl, Hoseok fixes a serious look on his boss and friend of several years. “Hyung, this may a bit personal, but…. are you not straight? I've never seen you fret over a guy like this before. Why Jimin?”

Seokjin looks down at the table, his coiffed hair falling into his eyes. “He's an angel,” he whispers. “The way he smiles, laughs, cries….. God, it's all so fucking beautiful. And the way he interacted with the kids….. Shit, I'm whipped aren't I, Seok? I didn't even care that he was a man when I saw him, I just saw him, you know?”

Looking down at his hands, Hoseok nods.

He knows.

He knows a little too well.

“You should talk to him,” he suggests again, looking up to lock eyes with Seokjin’s panicked ones. “It's better to be upfront than to hide what you're feeling. Trust me, that never works out.”

“Seok, I'm sorry about—”

Hoseok brushes it off. “It's fine, hyung, really.” He smiles softly. “I'll tell you about it sometime, but right now it's not my story to tell. Not yet.”

His boss nods at this, seemingly in understanding, then Seokjin perks up, holding up a single finger. “Hold on. That reminds me,” he begins, leaning over to dig through his leather messenger bag. He straightens up once more and holds out something.

Hoseok takes the offering, staring down at a rain-stained letter marked up with several red stamps.

“Did you mail some letters while we were in Busan?” Seokjin questions. He points to the paper in Hoseok's hands. “If you did, someone wrote back but we had already left. The rental property had it forwarded to my office.”

Placing the letter face down, Hoseok nods, swallowing down a lump in his throat. He honestly didn't expect a response, but now that he possibly has one, anxiety looms large.

“Uh, Yeah. Just some personal matters,” he tells the elder, looking away.

“Oh, ok. Well, you know you should probably drop by to see your family rather than writing them,” Seokjin teases, gathering his things after giving his debit card to the waitress to pay the bill. “Is your sister still obsessed with me, by the way?”

Hoseok snorts, almost forgetting the feel of the letter underneath his fingers. “That was years ago, hyung, and she had one poster of yours which she promptly took down after you told her that the reason your face looked so serious at that photo shoot is because you were constipated.”

Seokjin’s face goes blank. “I've always been an awkward flirt, huh?”

“The absolute worst. I fear for Jimin.”

Reaching over to lightly swat Hoseok upside the head, Seokjin swears. “You damn brat. I ought to revoke the lunch I just paid for.”

It's too late however, as the waitress returns with the elder’s card and soon the two are exiting the small cafe, stepping out into the sunshine.

Seokjin stuffs his hands into the pockets of his pleated dress pants. He toes at a rock on the ground. “I'll call Jimin tonight and ask him to come over so I can cook for him… or is that too much too soon?

“I think you should ask him what he feels comfortable with,” Hoseok suggests, smiling. “He likes that you're so soft around him.”

“I'm not soft,” Seokjin mumbles, but he's blushing furiously. He's nearly thirty but he looks like a teenager in love. It's cute.

“Right,” Hoseok fires back, but Seokjin merely waves goodbye, cheeks aflame, leaving the younger standing on the sidewalk with the letter in his hands.

Right, the letter.

It feels somehow wrong to read it right there, but he doesn't want to go home and read it with Jimin in the apartment. He needs some privacy, some hollow space to unwind the tension, and soon he finds himself heading to the bus stop.

When he enters the art studio for the first time in months, Hoseok simply stands there, taking in the familiar space, remembering everything that had transpired there. He feels joy at remembering the art he produced there, the feeling of the first smear of paint gliding over the canvas.

But he feels shame at the memory of Yoongi, the way he cradled the other, looking into his eyes with lust that he swore was love as their bodies became one. The way Jungkook's tears glittered in the moonlight spilling in from the window.

Taehyung keeps the space alive however, apart from Hoseok’s bittersweet recollections. There's evidence of the quirky man all around, from large canvas tarps of abstract shapes to ceramic figurines probably forged in the kiln at the university.

It feels like home, but not. A reality now so far removed.

Sitting down on the hard floor, Hoseok stares down at the letter, running his hands over the paper until he works up the courage to tear the envelope open. Jungkook’s response is thin, just one piece of college-ruled notebook paper, and Hoseok has to stop himself from breaking out in tears, already picturing the rejection of his apology in his mind.

He knows Jungkook has a right to not forgive him, but the thought still hurts, and he thinks that if this pain is only a fraction of the hurt that he made Jungkook feel, then he owes the younger way more than a lifetime of apologies will ever allow.

Swallowing back his fear, Hoseok finally unfurls the paper.

 

Seok,

I've written this letter a thousand times and I still don't want to send it, but I know I have to.

It must be cathartic for you to write me, to confess what's been on your mind and in your heart for years and I'm truly sorry for what you've been through. I hope that you take what you've learned and that you get some help. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't still love and care about you and I really don't think anyone deserves to struggle with things like that.

That being said, I completely disagree with the way you chose to tell me all of this. You should be here, telling me this in person, because you owe me that much. After everything, I deserve an explanation that isn't coming from a coward behind a piece of paper.

I know I didn't give you the opportunity before, but I am now. I want to hear it from you because I've already heard it from Yoongi-hyung and I just want closure. I want to be able to move on, and as much as it pains me to say it, I want you to move on too.

I changed my number after I left. So I'm giving it to you now so we can meet up to talk.

-Jungkook

 

Hoseok wastes no time pulling out his phone and inputting the numbers Jungkook had scrawled on the bottom of the note. The line rings once, then twice, then picks up and Hoseok waits with baited breath.

“Hello?”

At the sound of Jungkook's voice, Hoseok weeps.

“Seok, it's ok. Meet me at our usual coffee place in an hour, ok?”

Curled in on himself in the middle of the studio, Hoseok breathes through his nose, steadying his breath.

“I'll be there.”

 

 

When he gets home later that night, Jimin is waiting for him with a glass of ice water and open arms. Hoseok feels pulled apart, torn open and put back together. He basically relived his letter to Jungkook in person, right there in the back corner of the coffee shop, and there had been so much crying, so many unspoken words spilling out from both of their mouths.

Jungkook confessed to slipping up with Jimin that one time in the back of the club. He told Hoseok about his insecurities over their relationship and how he often felt pressured to be overtly sexual to keep Hoseok's interest. The elder had sobbed even more over that, holding Jungkook’s hand and assuring him that he never meant to make him feel like that. That he had loved him, but he drifted away because he didn't know how to deal with the demons swelling inside him.

The younger also admitted that he knew deep in his heart that Hoseok hasn't been the right one for him but he didn't want to let go because he loved the dancer. He loved Hoseok so much, wanted to be there for him, but just because love exists doesn't mean that it was meant to grow. Sometimes people fall into each other's lives so they can rise out of them as different people.

Hoseok had nodded along, throat dry.

His ex-boyfriend was far more mature than he thought possible, his eyes soft but confident as he held Hoseok’s hand. He was no longer a boy, but a man, and he would be alright. Jungkook didn't say that he forgave him, but he said he understood, and for Hoseok, that was enough.

It had to be.

Now, as he cries in Jimin’s arms, the younger rubbing circles into his back, Hoseok finally feels at peace for the first time in years because he doesn't have to hide anymore. He's broken and tortured and so full of flaws and it's ok because those things are what makes him “Hoseok” and even if he made mistakes yesterday or the day before that, yesterday's Hoseok is still Hoseok.

And it's ok, right?

“It's ok,” Jimin whispers into his ear. “Hyung, it's going to be ok.”

Hoseok nods, tears burning tracks down his cheeks and spilling over his quivering chin.

If only he could convince his heart.

 

 

Chapter Text

———

————-

————————

Hoseok hears Yoongi’s voice for the first time in six months on the radio. His name isn't Yoongi anymore though, it's Agust D— a stage name, a persona.

Agust D is bold, calling out other rappers and winning fans with his raw lyrics and “gives-no-fucks” attitude. He’s blonde, with an undercut that suits him, a wardrobe that screams swag, and an album that is already set to debut as number one in the country.

Yoongi is different now, but so is Hoseok.

Hoseok is still a choreographer, still working under Seokjin, but today he’s the caring hyung who pulls up in front of the local community center to pick up Jimin, who's just finished teaching his own classes. Monday through Thursday, the younger journeys into his new profession, already so advanced that he rarely needs Hoseok’s help anymore.

Jimin smiles brightly as he climbs into the car and buckles up, already telling Hoseok all about his day. Apparently, he finally agreed to have a formal dinner with “Jin-hyung” and Hoseok tries hard not crack a smile at this because he knows what's going to happen at that dinner.

For one, Seokjin is going to offer Jimin the chance to choreograph for a young idol group that just transferred from another company. Two, Seokjin is finally going to get off his ass and ask Jimin to be his first boyfriend. In true Seokjin style, he plans to cook all of Jimin’s favorite dishes and wine and dine the younger in a botanical garden he reserved just for the occasion. It would be nauseating to Hoseok if he wasn't also a romantic sap. Instead, he finds it absolutely adorable even if he is a bit envious.

Personally, he hasn't dared venture into the dating world because if he's honest, he's got a lot of work to do on himself before he can even think about being in a relationship. If he's even more honest with himself, it's because every person he sees ends up looking a little like Yoongi and every sorrow-filled face he finds on the street or on the bus reminds him of what he put Jungkook through.

In the end, Hoseok just doesn't trust himself with anyone except his friends, and the only man he lets see him at his most vulnerable is Jimin. The younger helps Hoseok through his tough days, the days he wakes up feeling numb and useless despite nothing being wrong. Jimin has those days too, days where he remembers his past and all the pain brought with it, but now that he's moved in with Hoseok, the younger is doing much better.

After all, the ex-dancer finally found the courage to tell Jungkook what happened to him at the club, and much to Jimin's surprise, Jungkook had welcomed him back with open arms. The two see each other every day at some point, when Hoseok isn't around to fill in Jimin’s empty spaces. The only reason he knows how Jungkook is doing is because Jimin had let it slip that the other man had quit stripping too and was now pursuing his dream.

What that dream is, Hoseok isn't sure. It was just another reminder of how negligent of a boyfriend he truly had been, but he wishes the younger his best. He really does. And maybe one day he'll be able to tell Jungkook that face to face and on good terms.

“Are you nervous about tonight?” Jimin asks from the passenger seat, running a hand through his sweaty bangs.

Hoseok chuckles, turning the car onto a busy street. “Not really. It's just an award ceremony.”

“Just an award ceremony? Hyung, you're getting recognized for your choreography!” Jimin states incredulously, grinning from ear to ear. “That music video had like two million views in three days. For a rookie group, that's insane.”

Hoseok waves off the compliment dismissively, all the while preening from the praise on the inside. To say he wasn't proud to be honored later that night would be a flat-out lie, but he was mostly excited to see the recognition that the idol group had been receiving lately. Just like with Jimin, seeing those young boys dance so passionately, confident in themselves, really made Hoseok’s heart full of so much emotion. Emotions that are few and far between some days, but he can still feel them, and that's what really matters.

The track he and Yoongi collaborated on won the idol group their first ever award. After years of training, many setbacks, and the averted crisis near debut, those boys held their trophy high on national television, crying and hugging each other and now Hoseok knows what being a true artist means.

He still paints, mostly with Taehyung, who has finally admitted that he misses living with Yoongi now that the elder lives in a nicer place near the heart of the city. For now, he still only paints flowers, but he’s been thinking of venturing into portraits soon. Yoongi's rose is framed and hung in their living room, right next to a painting of a dazzling white rose with blush pink tips. It's Jimin’s rose.

But as good as it feels to create things with his hands, he loves creating things with his heart. That's why every dance, every move, comes from deep within him now, from a place that used to be so dark until a man dared to come along and set it on fire, to remind him to be humble in his work. Now, Hoseok dances for others instead of himself.

Jimin sighs happily, settling back in his seat, eyes on Hoseok. He acts so much like a younger brother, so familiar and comfortable, and Hoseok has nearly forgotten what it's like to not have him around. He yearns to return to the same place with his own sister and wonders if the two would get along and if his parents would mind Jimin coming to Chuseok if Seokjin doesn't commandeer the younger first.

“Is Yoongi going to be there tonight?” Jimin asks softly, looking out the window as the car gets caught in traffic. “I didn't mean to bring it up, but Jin-hyung mentioned we might run into him since we’re going to be getting there late after dinner.”

Hoseok nods, eyes on the stoplight in front of him. “Yes, he’ll be there for sure. It's kind of a joint-award. Really, it's for everyone in the production department, and me, of course.” He can feel Jimin’s eyes on him, imploring and waiting for any sign of distress at the sound of Hoseok’s once-lover’s name.

Out of all the ways he's changed, this is by far the most pronounced— Hoseok can think about Yoongi without feeling angry, without hating either himself or the other. When Yoongi’s album drops, he plans to buy it and compliment Namjoon on a good production job, but first, he has his own life to handle, his own accomplishments to answer for.

Hoseok smiles, even though it's raining and traffic is bad. Jimin hums thoughtfully in the seat next to him and tonight Hoseok is being honored for his work concerning that track, and even though he knows Yoongi will be there too, he smiles, because he's so thankful just to have known him, however brief.

Yoongi changed his life. Woke Hoseok up out of a deep slumber and made him realize just how lost he had gotten in search of something he now knows is just a fantasy. Happiness, his new therapist tells him, is not a destination but a direction, a constant decision to keep moving, keep progressing no matter what. Some days it's harder to make that decision, but it's there, and it's his to make every single day.

It's tragic really, that though Yoongi changed his life for the better, it happened in such a painful, messy way. Hoseok regrets the way he hurt Jungkook, the way he subconsciously used Yoongi, but sometimes late at night he thinks about the entire situation like a birth of sorts.

It’s gruesome, sometimes unplanned or unwanted, but in the end a new person is brought into the world, taking their first tentative breath amongst the agony of the one who gave it life. Morbid, maybe, but so true.

Hoseok could've never run into Yoongi. He could've never run into Jungkook. He could've missed out on all the pain, but then again, he would've had to miss the dance.

——-

 

“We’ll be ready for you in ten minutes,” the staff member informs Yoongi as he stands backstage in a suit that clashes with his shocking crop of blonde hair and the numerous piercings glinting in his ears. He supposes that it's ok though, because entertainers like him can get away with such gawdy fashion even if it's downright ridiculous.

It still feels like a dream, to be honest, and if making albums for himself rather than other people wasn't so damn hard, he'd pinch himself to wake up. But this isn't a dream, it's a stark and strange reality and as the months go by, it gets even stranger.

His parents still don't speak to him much, but they're here in the crowd. He supposes Taejoon dragged them along. After a long dry spell, his brother had called him out of the blue one day and to Yoongi’s shock, had announced that he too was gay— or rather, bisexual— and that he told their parents that if they wanted the Min name to continue on, that they would have to suck it up and deal with it. Yoongi had gaped at his phone, unsure of how to even respond, but thankfully Taejoon filled in the gaps with incessant apologizing for his dick behavior. He was just struggling with accepting his sexuality, and damn if Yoongi didn't know what that felt like. Of course, his brother is still sarcastic and annoying at times, but he’s the most supportive person Yoongi has now besides Namjoon, Taehyung, and Jungkook, and even though it's weird, it's starting to feel normal.

Well, as normal as a celebrity's life can be. He still doesn't like the lack of privacy and all the people on the internet who have nothing better to do with their lives than to start rumors and dumbass fan wars. There's some young rapper punk who likes to refer to Yoongi as a “cocksucker” in all his diss tracks, but Yoongi just laughs.

So what if it's an insult or a fact?

It doesn't faze him in the slightest.

Yoongi is who he is and after hating himself for so long, he's ready to tell his old, weak self to fuck off. He still can't be public about it though, not in a country like this, but he really has no need to since the only man he's ever loved is no longer in his life. He thought about dating once over the past half year, but if he's honest, he’ll never want anyone besides Hoseok.

Not the jealous, dominant, spiteful Hoseok, but the man whose sweet laugh and wide grin he only saw a handful of times. He remembers that day, hearing Hoseok confess his love for the first time. He remembers thinking that the Hoseok standing in front of him was a shadow of man, fractured and lost, just like Yoongi. Perhaps Hoseok looks back now and thinks the same of him. Maybe it was just fucked up timing.

He supposes he'll never know.

But he does know one thing for certain.

Hoseok is the reason why he is who he is today. Through the pain, he taught Yoongi to rely on his merits, to find himself again, and to embrace discomfort. Hoseok had been the one to suggest the idol group cover his song, and even to this day, he still doesn't know what that means. If it was another one of Hoseok’s attempts to get in the last word, to try to possess Yoongi again, or if he had meant it as some sort of peace treaty.

“Yoongi”?

Knocked out of his thoughts, Yoongi looks away from the dressing room mirror and is startled to find Jimin staring back at him with a soft smile. He’s holding a bouquet of flowers in his arms, but all Yoongi can focus on his how good he looks.

The younger is a little heavier, just enough to fill out his cheeks and make his body look healthy and shapely. His eyes sparkle too, along with his now-blonde hair, the smokey purple from the club now faded softly.

Jimin shuffles awkwardly, looking down at the flowers in his hands. “These are for Hoseok-hyung,” he murmurs, moving to place them on a vanity that has a name card waiting for the choreographer. “I was going to give them to him at home but I've got other plans after this so I won't see him until late.” He blushes at these words, causing Yoongi to raise a brow.

“You live together?” the elder can't help but blurt out, shocked.

Jimin nods sheepishly, looking up at Yoongi with amused eyes. “It's a really long story, one that I'll have to tell you all about, but I promise I will,” he assures. “A lot has changed.”

“It sure has,” Yoongi whispers, standing there in his expensive clothes, smelling like hairspray and cologne. His face feels slick from the makeup and his eyes have so much eyeliner on them that he probably looks a little disarming. Jimin doesn't seem to mind though, as sweet and comforting as ever.

“Congratulations, by the way,” the younger offers, grinning. “On everything. The award, the album—”

“You're doing, ok, right?” Yoongi interrupts, a desperate need to know clawing up his throat. “I've been worrying about you lately. Jungkook said you just disappeared and—”

Jimin steps closer, putting a finger to Yoongi’s rapidly moving lips to silence his rambling. “I'm doing amazing, my Suga. Thank you for asking.”

Sagging in relief, Yoongi pulls away and laughs at the situation. Who would've ever thought it would end up like this? In all his wildest dreams, who would've ever imagined this particular scenario? But he's thankful, nonetheless, for this situation, for Jimin welcoming him back so warmly. He really missed the other’s presence in his life.

Just as he's about to tell the younger as much, a man peeks into the doorway, his eyes scanning the room until his gaze settles on Jimin.

“There you are.”

Jimin beams back at the stranger, reaching out until the man intertwines his fingers with Jimin’s, casting a wary glance in Yoongi’s direction. He looks familiar, but Yoongi can't remember if the man is an associate of Namjoon’s or someone else entirely.

“Angel,” the stranger coos to Jimin. “We have to head to our seats now.”

“It was nice to see you again. We should have coffee sometime. My treat. Take care, Yoongi.”

And then Jimin is swept away, a event staff member sliding into his place and telling Yoongi that it's time to head out on stage.

Straightening his suit jacket, Yoongi takes a moment to collect himself, glancing back at the flowers left on the vanity by Hoseok’s namecard. He wonders what it will be like to see the other again, but he supposes he's as ready as he’ll ever get.

With a smile, Yoongi leaves the past behind and heads towards his future.

———

 

Smoke curls in the night air, drifting from the cigarette dangling from his long fingers and up into the sky. Yoongi quit these things months ago, but he's stressed tonight and the burn in his lungs is a welcome distraction.

The award ceremony had taken place rather quickly, all of it a blur of words and spotlights. He was however, very conscious of Hoseok’s presence standing near him, had walked out on stage to see the man dressed immaculately with a fitted suit and his black hair styled so it parted to the side and fell across his brow. Even after all this time, Yoongi felt his mouth go dry at the sight.

There was something else about Hoseok though, on this particular night. Some sort of ethereal glow to his caramel skin, his high cheekbones. Maybe it was the fact that he just kept smiling, so animated and lively. Maybe it was the fact that it seemed so genuine.

Whatever it was, Yoongi can't stop thinking about it, even now as he's smoking on the roof and avoiding the after party several floors below him.

“Smoking is terrible for your voice.”

Letting a tendril of smoke waft out of his mouth, Yoongi doesn't even bother to turn around as he replies. “I'm a rapper not a choir member,” he retorts, already feeling Hoseok’s gaze burning on his back.

“You've got a point.” A breezy laugh, so short and sweet.

Yoongi wants to turn around, but he doesn't think he has it in him to face Hoseok just yet. Not like this, with nothing and no one to buffer them. Hoseok no longer has Jungkook and Yoongi no longer has his alcohol. Whatever will they talk about now?

He half expects Hoseok to immediately hash it out, but to his surprise, the younger just walks up to ledge and makes himself comfortable, leaning over the roof to take in the skyline.

It takes so long for either one of them to gather up the courage to speak that Yoongi finishes his cigarette, throws it on the ground, and snubs out the butt with his shoe. Hoseok is still enjoying the view, body relaxed, a small smile on his face. Yoongi can't help but watch, fascinated at the serenity he feels rolling off the younger.

He feels like he's meeting Hoseok for the first time, and maybe he is.

“I read the letter you sent Jungkook,” Yoongi offers first, his voice scratchy and low.

Hoseok nods to himself, lacing his fingers together. “Yeah, he mentioned that you guys lived together.”

“Used to. I have my own place now,” Yoongi corrects, gesturing awkwardly. “Looks better for the image.”

Chuckling, Hoseok turns to face him now. “Ah, the image,” he repeats, eyes raking over Yoongi’s attire. “It suits you.”

“It's an act, but thank you.”

“What made you take the deal?” Hoseok asks after a deep breath, eyes lingering on the burning cigarette in Yoongi’s hand. “Namjoon told me about how it was offered when I ran into him earlier. I didn't think you would ever go for something like this.”

Yoongi smirks into his next drag, pulling the smoke into his lungs before exhaling. “Guess that's another thing you really didn't understand about me,” he quips. “Believe it or not, Jungkook wouldn't let it go. He heard that I got offered a deal and the little shit kept pestering me about following my dreams.” He pauses then to impersonate the younger man. “ ’Hyung, if you don't sign that contract, then you're more of an idiot than I thought’. Cute kid, but he can be a bossy fucker sometimes.”

Hoseok seems to flinch when Yoongi laughs at his own musings, and the elder can't blame him. It must seem so weird that he would form an unlikely friendship with his lover’s ex-boyfriend, but stranger things have happened.

They fall into silence once more and Yoongi can't help but to fidget and toe the abandoned cigarette on the ground. He takes a deep breath before continuing on with…. whatever this is. “You look good too,” he states, bringing his eyes up to Hoseok, fully appreciating the man’s new aura, the sparkle in his dark eyes. “You look happy.”

Hoseok laughs rather darkly, but he catches himself and breathes. “Medication will do that to you,” he jokes before grimacing at his words. “Sorry. That was too much. I've…. been seeing a therapist. It helps.”

Nodding, Yoongi shoves his hands into his pockets. “No, that's good. I'm proud of you.”

The simple statement was meant to be nothing but polite, but the way Hoseok’s head snaps up and his eyes grow glassy has Yoongi rethinking everything he just said.

“No, Yoongi. I'm proud of you,” Hoseok blurts out, face crumpling in on itself, the careful composure from earlier disintegrating in a mere moment. “What I did to you…. how I just left you…. and now you've come so far. I never deserved you.”

Biting his tongue, there's so much Yoongi wants to say, but doesn't. He just watches Hoseok struggle to control his emotions, to level himself out. It's difficult not to comfort the younger, but Yoongi knows he can't just go running back with arms open. His heart still bleeds from the last wound and he's not so eager to get another.

“You never had me,” he finally says instead, watching his words resonate on Hoseok’s face. He has to turn away and focus on the glittering lights of Seoul. “You wanted me, sure. You tried your best to make it so I couldn't run, but you never really had me. You belonged to Jungkook and there was no room for me even if you wanted there to be.”

“Yoongi, I lov—”

“I know what you felt, Seok, but saying it and doing it are two different things,” Yoongi shouts, nerves fraying just enough for his temper to flare. Why is it that he can never keep himself in check around the other man?

Hoseok just stares at the ground, pursing his lips. He looks like a child being scolded, seconds away from tears.

“It's my fault too,” Yoongi continues darkly, chuckling under his breath. “I should've stood up to you and told you to figure out your shit before ever fucking around with me, but you liked the fact that I couldn't say no to you, huh?”

“I did,” Hoseok squeaks out, bringing his gaze up once more. “I preyed on you because I'm sick and I know that's not an excuse, and it won't ever be, but you have to know this, Yoongi. I sought you out because I felt something with you that I've never had before, and once I tasted it, I couldn't stop. You were the only thing keeping me from destroying myself but unfortunately, I took you and Jungkook down instead. I'm so fucking sorry.”

Yoongi curses. He absolutely hates this. Hates that they met when they were so very fucked up and not ready for anything close to a relationship. Hates that Hoseok makes sense, that he can relate to the addiction because that's how he felt too.

The secrecy, the danger, the promise of love and affection, the sex— it was all a potent drug and they were both addicts trying desperately to get clean, standing here in withdrawal and on the edge of a relapse.

Oh, how Yoongi wants to relapse.

He wants nothing more than to take Hoseok home, wind his fingers through those inky black locks and fall back into primal need where nothing but their bodies moving against each other exists. He would be lying if he said he hadn't thought about it multiple times throughout the last months, so close to closing his eyes and recalling the way it felt to get deflowered by the other man who made it taste so much like love.

That poison was so fucking sweet on his tongue.

Flustered, Yoongi feels his old self rising again, taking control of his mouth with petulance. “You sent Jungkook a letter,” he retorts. “Where's mine?” The confusion in Hoseok’s eyes is painful to look at, but Yoongi forces himself to do so, not backing down.

The younger laughs to himself, tears sparkling in his eyes and he sets a firm gaze on Yoongi before saying “this is your letter”. He gestures at himself and then all around him, still laughing darkly. “Yoongi, I sent Jungkook a letter for closure, because we both knew it was over, but you and I, we’re far from over.”

Stunned, Yoongi takes a step back, roughly carding his hand through his dry, bleached locks. “And since when is that your decision? Why are you always the one who gets to decide? Every time I ran, you pulled me back. And when I wanted to stay, you told me to leave. And now I'm supposed to just forgive you just because there's no longer a boyfriend in the picture to fuck things up?”

Hoseok’s mouth gapes open but he doesn't say a word.

Fuck, they really sucked at communication.

There were so many “maybes” and “what-ifs” to fill up a lifetime, particularly concerning the beginning of their relationship. Yoongi really should've said no, should've brought up the Jungkook issue more insistently, but hindsight is always clearer.

“No,” Yoongi shouts. “Not this time, Seok. You want me? Then there's going to be hell to pay to get me. Hell to pay for treating people like they're toys for you to play around with until you get bored.”

“What do you want me to do, Yoongi?” Hoseok pleads, voice rising over the sounds of traffic below them. “How many times can I apologize? Is there a particular number? Because I'll do it. I'll say it for the rest of my life if I have to.”

“Seok, just—”

“I don't know what you want from me. I've taken my time, I've talked things out with Jungkook, I fucking tore myself open to a complete stranger so I could figure my shit out, and all I want is for you to just look at me,” Hoseok begs, lips trembling. “Not forgive me, not kiss me, not fuck me. Just look at me and see me, Yoongi. See that underneath all this bullshit is a man that loves you and all he wants is a chance to show you that, nothing else.”

“I want to believe you, Seok. I really really do. But I'm not going to be the next Jungkook, I'm sorry.” Yoongi pushes away from the ledge quickly, shoving his hands in his jacket and moving further down, distancing himself from the younger.

“Maybe I didn't make myself clear enough,” Hoseok calls out after him, lingering on the rooftop and watching Yoongi hesitate. “What we did was wrong. I knew that then but I chose to ignore it and I hurt the people closest to me. I know you're scared that I'll do it again, but I'd rather suffer alone for the rest of my life than do that. I'm truly sorry and I hope one day you can believe me, but I know that it's your decision to make, not mine.”

Yoongi looks away, eyes drifting over Seoul, taking in the glow of the city. He smells the smog in the air mixed with the tang of his own cologne clinging to his suit. The stone ledge beneath his hands is solid and grounding, letting him lean against it while his whole world spins. He takes a few moments to steady himself, to just breathe, and when he finally looks back, Hoseok is gone.

His presence lingers, however, like a ghost, and Yoongi thinks that no matter what he does or where goes, a part of Hoseok will always be there. Like a song once loved but long forgotten, the melody still addictive while running through your head at the most inopportune times.

It's tempting to forget what Hoseok did, but Yoongi realizes that the younger is not asking him to forget. He's asking Yoongi to remember and move forward, to build upon this lesson and make something out of the ashes of the past. Perhaps he hesitates because he feels guilty for being lead so easily and for playing a hand in Jungkook’s pain.

But Hoseok was right, Jungkook was alright, if not finally happy to search for himself. Jimin had apparently moved on too, if the glow of his skin and the wide smile had anything to do with the man who affectionally called him “Angel”. Taehyung was beginning to get recognized for his art as he moved into his senior year at the university and Yoongi had carved out a little piece of the industry for himself.

So what was left to mend? What was holding Yoongi back this time?

Fear.

He doesn't trust Hoseok with his heart. He also doesn't trust that what he felt between them was nothing more than lust. What if he fell deeply for the other man only to realize later that they were once again only enamored by the sex? Yoongi couldn't handle being so raw and vulnerable again.

He just couldn't.

Staring down at the people on the streets, Yoongi stays on the roof until his manager comes to retrieve him. Once he's in his car, the chauffeur in the front oblivious to anything but the drive, he digs out his phone and scrolls through the contacts until he finds Hoseok’s name.

This time he doesn't hesitate. He deletes the contact quickly, already feeling the hole left in his life as if it was a physical wound.

Just like Hoseok said, this was his decision to make.

But that didn't mean it didn't hurt like a bitch.

 

 

——

————

——————

Time is a strange thing, Hoseok thinks, as Jimin squeals in delight, holding his phone to his ear. On the other end of the line is Jungkook, apparently telling his friend some good news, if the way Jimin is freaking out is any indication. By the time the call ends, Hoseok is curious, leaning over the table with wide eyes.

“Oh my god,” Jimin breathes as soon as he hangs up. “Did you know Kookie could sing?”

Still holding his chopsticks laden with takeout, Hoseok nods. “Yeah, he used to sing a lot in the shower. He’s really good.”

“Apparently that’s what your producer friend Namjoon thinks too! I guess he and Yoongi were over at Tae’s place to get a few things he left there before the move and Namjoon heard Kookie singing in the shower and flipped his shit. Recorded him from outside the door and everything.”

Hoseok lets out a snort. “That sounds like Joon, actually. Why is this such a good thing? Is he trying to sign Jungkook to a deal or something?” The way Jimin smirks and his eyes sparkle impossibly tells Hoseok everything he needs to know. He gapes, dropping his chopsticks. “You're kidding.”

“Not kidding,” Jimin sing-songs, clapping his hands together. “He apparently is starting a label of his own after Yoongi’s album did so well, and offered Kookie a contract, which he just signed twenty minutes ago. Amazing, huh?”

“Amazing,“ Hoseok breathes, staring at his plate. He feels strange, as if life is happening around him, not to him, but it's bittersweet because he is happy for his ex-boyfriend. So very happy.

“Kookie is finally living out his dream,” Jimin giggles, digging into his food once more and Hoseok’s eyes drift over to the empty chair next to him, somehow feeling like something is missing amongst all this joy.

 

——-

————

——————

 

“Fuck, hyung, is this a ring or a planet?” Hoseok whispers, staring at the velvet-lined box in front of him.

Seokjin smiles proudly across the table, fingers poised on the box holding the jewelry. “Do you think he’ll like it?”

Hoseok has to laugh at that. He's seen Jimin’s taste in jewelry, which is nice but limited to what he can afford on his salary now. Gone are the days where his tips from the club could pay for anything he could fancy, but the younger is happier now than he's ever been. “Uh, yeah,” he tells his hyung. “Jimin is going to faint when he sees this thing. Are you sure you want to do this? I mean, this country isn't the kindest towards gay marriage.”

Snapping the lid of the jewelry box shut, Seokjin shrugs. “I really don't give a fuck,” he states nonchalantly. “Jimin has had to conform his entire life around the expectations of other people and I'm not having any more of it. I'll marry that boy in front the whole goddamn country if I want to.”

Hoseok smiles, glancing up at his hyung’s confident expression, full of admiration for a man that is so unabashedly in love. “You're risking everything, you know that, right?” he questions softly.

“I know, and I'd do it all again a thousand times in a thousand different lives if I had to.”

Blinking at the bold statement, Hoseok looks down at the table where his coffee sits abandoned and cold. “Do you ever wish you could go back in time and change Jimin’s past for the better? Like stop him from feeling all that pain?”

He hears Seokjin hum in contemplation before the elder takes a deep breath. “No, I wouldn't, because it made Jimin who he is today,” he states before taking a sip of his latte. “I once heard this saying and it always stuck with me. It goes: ’Progress is dancing to the same song that you used to cry to’. Seok, I want to be there to see him dance every day for the rest of my life.”

Speechless, Hoseok looks up, catching Seokjin’s gaze before looking over at the empty place beside their table. Once again, he feels strangely incomplete.

——-

————

——————

Taehyung stands back, spreading his arms wide. “Here you go, hyung!” he chirps, satisfied with himself. “The biggest piece of canvas my ass could carry in here.”

Laughing, Hoseok steps over the boxes of supplies scattered on the floor and comes to stand beside the other man in the middle of the studio. “It's perfect, thank you, Tae.”

“This was a lot of work to get, so I think I deserve a reward.” Taehyung then throws himself on the floor, posing seductively on his side and waggling his thick eyebrows. “Paint me like one of your French girls,” he croons in heavily-accented English, causing Hoseok to shriek in laughter. The younger then rolls over onto his stomach and kicks his legs in the air, trying to be coy.

“Please stop,” Hoseok begs, clutching his sides in pain. “I can't breathe.”

Taehyung merely smirks, hoisting his ass in the air and wiggling it back and forth. He bites down on his lip and gives his hyung the cringiest “come hither” look.

Hoseok can't help himself. He takes out his phone and begins to record, laughing wildly as he does it, and when Taehyung finally notices, the other leaps up and tackles Hoseok to the ground, making grabby hands at the phone.

“Hyung, stop that or I'll take away your entry into the art show!”

“You wouldn't,” Hoseok yells over the sounds of their struggle. “I'm a prodigy!”

“You're an ass!”

Their laughter bounces off the walls, and Hoseok is on his back, holding the phone away from Taehyung, looking over to the large frame of canvas just a few feet away.

It's blank, the surface white and textured, and Hoseok can't help but think that's it's missing something more than just paint.

 

——

————

——————-

It’s been a year since he began painting and Hoseok is amazed at how far this simple hobby has taken him.

Right now, he's standing in the middle of one of Seoul’s premier art galleries, surrounded by rich clientele ogling his work. He's proud of himself, but still very much in awe that people not only like his work but want to own it for themselves. Already, several of his pieces have sold, and he reminds himself to thank Taehyung for being such a social butterfly and charming the guests enough to get them to stick around.

A waiter comes by and offers Hoseok a tall flute of pink champagne, but Hoseok politely declines. He already had enough the day prior at Jimin and Seokjin’s engagement party. He could only stay for an hour or so since he had to come set up the pieces for this show, but what he saw of the party was lovely. Both Seokjin and Jimin had radiated such happiness that Hoseok had found himself smiling the rest of the night as he directed the gallery staff on where he wanted the paintings and what price points were best for each.

The smile faltered however, when the time came to hang his largest and most in-depth painting, but once it was on the wall, Hoseok had taken a deep breath and steadied his racing heart. As much as he wanted to exclude the work from the show, he knew he couldn't. The piece belonged here among the rest of the works he had poured his soul into, and even though this particular one tore at him the most, he couldn't run away from his pain forever.

Like Seokjin said, he had to learn how to dance to it.

As the night wears on, several more of his paintings are bought and the crowd begins to dwindle. The gallery staff shows the guests out slowly, and then Taehyung is wishing him goodbye with a large hug and a boxy grin. He assures Hoseok that he can go home anytime and that the gallery will be open tomorrow for him to take down the pieces before bringing them home.

Needing a small break, Hoseok splashes his face with water in the bathroom, stopping to admire his reflection in the mirror. He's never seen himself like this and it's novel, but he doesn't fight it. His therapist has told him to embrace the days where he feels good and to not compare them to his bad days, because each one is a story on its own.

With a sigh, he straightens himself up and heads back into the gallery, taking time to admire his artwork in the now empty space. That is, until Hoseok spots a figure standing in front of the large painting in the back of the room. “Sir?” he questions, striding towards the individual. The show has been closed for nearly half an hour, so he's puzzled by this man’s appearance. As Hoseok draws closer, he notices the stranger is clothed casually in dark ripped jeans and a large black hoodie with the hood thrown up.

“What's the name of this piece?” a raspy voice drawls, and Hoseok comes to a halt right behind the man, blinking incredulously.

It can't be.

But it is.

Yoongi.

Swallowing hard, Hoseok looks over the other’s shoulder, eyes raking over his crown jewel of paintings.

The work consists of a angel-like man lying on a bed of yellow roses, his soft black hair fanning out over the petals. His skin is like porcelain, marred with bruises in some places, but it only adds to the beauty. The pain hasn't crippled the angel but made him stronger. His eyes are shut, lashes dusting his rosy cheeks, and there's a cut on his lip, busted open, yet only adding to his mystery. The roses are reflective of him too, breathtaking at first glance, but upon closer inspection, wilting away to some degree, but resilient nonetheless.

Hoseok had meant the painting to be a statement about how there is beauty in the human struggle, how flaws can be seen as rewards for surviving rather than things to be shamed. How the angel turned out looking like Yoongi is a completely different story— one only he knows.

Stepping beside Yoongi, Hoseok lets out a deep breath. “This one is called ’Hell To Pay’,” he relays softly, now turning to look at Yoongi’s side-profile which is covered by a large face mask.

“The inspiration?” the elder questions, gaze still trained on the painting.

Hoseok laughs to himself before answering. “There was an angel that was struggling with what he believed, and a devil came along and tricked him into falling from grace.”

“Sounds like a tragic story,” Yoongi retorts, bringing his gaze to Hoseok then, dark feline eyes the only thing visible above the mask.

“It was.”

“What happened to the devil? Did the angel kick his ass for all the trouble he caused him? Is that why he's covered in bruises?”

Chuckling, Hoseok cocks a brow. “Yeah, I guess you could say that,” he replies cheekily. “But the angel beat the shit out of the devil’s heart without even lifting a finger. No, the bruises he has are from himself. He hurt himself because he felt stupid for playing into the devil’s trap.”

Yoongi makes a noise of understanding but otherwise doesn't say anything.

“The devil looks far worse though. He realized that he was in love with the angel after he had done wrong, and no matter what he does, he will never be able to reach him again. They met at the wrong time; two very different people destined for different lives.”

Pulling down his mask, Yoongi smirks. “What if I told you that your story is complete bullshit?” he replies, pointing at the picture on the wall. ”I think that the angel knew what he was doing when he followed the devil. He knew it was fucking stupid, but he did it because he saw that the devil had wings too, that he used to be angel. And maybe he thought they could both fly away from all their shit. He just blamed the devil for all of it because he saw too much of himself in him and it scared him.”

Hoseok shakes his head. “Still doesn't make the story any less fucked up.”

“No, but maybe that's not the end of the story.”

Yoongi is looking at him now, face a little skinnier than he remembers, voice a little more gruff. He smells like leather and a hint of cigarettes, so unlike the tang of soju that used to swirl around him.

“Oh? Then how does it end?” Hoseok asks, looking into eyes so dark he can feel himself drowning in them, even after all this time.

“It doesn't,” Yoongi answers, reaching out to run his fingers over Hoseok’s lips, feather-light and impossibly soothing.

Hoseok closes his eyes at the sensation, reveling in the feel of this man after so long, after being deprived of his sanity for months, wishing that he could turn back time and change everything.

“I'm not going to make it easy for you, devil,” Yoongi whispers, voice so close, so sweet.

“I don't want easy, Yoongi. That's not who I am anymore. I just want you.”

“You're greedy,” Yoongi breathes, lips ghosting over Hoseok’s.

“You're self-destructive,” Hoseok retorts, though his voice trembles as he feels his mouth graze Yoongi’s.

“I'm trying.”

“And I'm sorry.”

Their lips meet, soft and barely there, standing under the bright gallery lights, surrounded by art in different shades of color, each one bursting with life, a piece of Hoseok shared with the world.

There's no haste in the kiss, no lust or heady desire, just two souls meeting, possibly for the first time, like a fresh brush dipping into paint. Like sneakers hitting the floor on the first move of an elaborate dance. Like the first verse of a song tired of being hidden away.

And time really is a strange thing, Hoseok thinks as his hands push Yoongi’s hood down to wind into his hair, pulling him closer, because Yoongi tastes different, sounds different, feels different. But it's ok, because that's life— a piece of art that can be looked upon over and over, it's meaning ever-evolving, it's colors blending into one another.

Yes, life is like a painting, Hoseok believes as he pulls back and looks at Yoongi— really looks at him— because you can start fresh, adding layers of colors where you want them, only to find yourself drawn to a different image as the days progress.

And maybe it doesn't turn out the way you want. Maybe you pause the work out of frustration, only to come back to it later with a clearer head. Maybe you cover up mistakes with more paint or let the flaws show because they're happy accidents. Maybe you let the colors of the lives around you inspire the final piece, let them blend and shift until everything is pleasing to the eye.

“Fuck, I missed you,” Hoseok breathes, shuddering, turning his face until his nose is in Yoongi’s hair, breathing in the fresh scent.

“I love you.”

Pulling away, Hoseok searches the elder’s eyes for the look he's come to expect after such bold words. The hazy, slack-jawed expression that tells him that Yoongi has fallen, that he’s lost in his head. But all Hoseok sees are glassy eyes, clear and unyielding. “Yoongi—”

“You said it was my decision and I've finally made it,” Yoongi interrupts, looking down at the ground. “I've been talking to Jimin a lot. You're an interesting bastard, you know that? Taking in people and loving them. Giving yourself to others. Becoming a decent human being. How dare you.” He smiles as he says these things, before he’s putting those sparkling eyes back on Hoseok. “I know what I'm doing this time, Seok. I really do. But if you break my heart again, I'll fucking kill you.”

Hoseok lets out a clipped laugh at this, but he’s smiling so painfully wide, tears of joy slipping down his cheeks. “You know I'm sorry,” he whispers, cradling the elder’s face. “I'll spend the—”

“ ’The rest of your life trying to make it up to me?’ ” Yoongi teases, taking Hoseok’s hands from his face and holding onto them tightly. “Do you mean that?”

“Yes. Fuck, yes. Yoongi, I really do.”

A little smirk plays on Yoongi’s lips, and then he’s pulling away to show Hoseok his left hand, wiggling one finger in particular, and the younger can only stare in utter disbelief.

There on the base Yoongi’s ring finger is a tattooed yellow rose, small but distinctive, symbolic in so many ways. It's lovely, and the sight causes Hoseok to feel the depths of what can only be described as a yearning so intense that's he’s no longer tearing up. He’s just breathing in the moment, existing in this place with his lover.

As Yoongi takes his hand in his, feeling the knobby joints and the nicotine-tainted skin, Hoseok finally believes in this feeling. Whether it's one of his worse days or his most joyous ones, it doesn't change the fact that life is his choice, his decision, as it is Yoongi’s. And once you find the person who is both your favorite color and the most difficult shade to use, you don't let them go.

You fill your life with them.

You make art.

Because if anything….. life is one beautiful, blank

Canvas.

 

 

 

 

 

Ending Song

Chapter Text

Previously, in Chapter 14…..

 

The streetlights are flickering above Yoongi, taunting him with their indecisiveness. He shuffles further ahead on the damp pavement, frowning at the ground.

”Oh, them? That's Jungkook and his boyfriend, Hoseok. Why do you ask?”

Jimin’s words are still bouncing around in his head, even this late at night, and Yoongi can't seem to get them to quiet down. All he hears are those whispered words over the heavy bass of the club’s music and his heart pounding furiously in his ears.

Yoongi isn't the type to compare himself to other men, but that was before Hoseok, before his self-discovery, before he had someone in his life to get jealous over.

That was before, but this was now.

So it seemed that “Kookie” was Hoseok’s young, elusive boyfriend. That in itself was not ideal, but what did Yoongi expect? That Hoseok would date someone Yoongi could even compare to? The dancer was gorgeous and seductive, outgoing and likeable; of course Hoseok was attracted to him. But honestly, Yoongi thought Hoseok wanted more out of a partner, someone less flashy and more instinctive. Less late nights out with foggy memories come morning and more quiet, contemplative moments spent in privacy. But then again, all these observations were based on the fact that he thought he knew Hoseok was.

Frowning, Yoongi recalls the moment Hoseok’s eyes met his in the club, how one moment the other was looking at him softly then the next, he was sticking his tongue down his boyfriend's throat, groping the dancer like they were all alone. Even now, hours later, the memory still burns, simmering beneath the surface. Yoongi wants to rip his flesh off just to get rid of the feeling.

Hoseok had known that Yoongi was watching and he hadn't cared. The younger had even smiled against Jungkook's lips, had kissed the dancer the way Yoongi liked— rough and desperate but calculated and methodical. Those heart-shaped lips had never seemed so repulsive as they do now.

Yoongi curses into the night air, but he keeps walking.

It’s painfully clear to Yoongi now that he was just a form of entertainment for Hoseok and the thought made his blood boil. The younger was used to getting what he wanted and Yoongi had been a challenge for him— a challenge that had been conquered and nearly paraded around the village for all to see.

Hoseok had said that he loved him; Yoongi had been embarrassingly close to saying it back. What a goddamn idiot he is.

Well, to be honest, Hoseok had warned Yoongi. He mentioned his greedy streak, his fear of never being satisfied with anything, but Yoongi thought that he could fill that hole for Hoseok, that they could fill all the gaping wounds for each other. But it looks like Hoseok was only interested in filling only one of Yoongi's holes.

Fuck, he's pissed.

In fact, he's so pissed that he's walked nearly forty minutes to Hoseok’s studio with the sole intent of cursing the other out so vehemently that Hoseok wouldn't dream of thinking of Yoongi as weak or vulnerable ever again. As badly as it hurts, Yoongi wants to confront Hoseok, wants to punch that fucking smug smile off his face.

He laughs at the thought, pushing through the night with a bottle of liquid courage sloshing in his hand. He's only had a few swigs but he likes the fire it gives him, the way he suddenly doesn't give a fuck about Hoseok’s stupid heart lips or his high cheek bones. About stolen kisses and the press of his bare back against the paint-covered tarp. About the most ridiculous word in the world: Love.

The lights are on at the studio and Yoongi wastes no time banging on the door, spilling some whiskey in the process. He hears muffled music inside along with the scrambling of feet, and suddenly the door is swung open, revealing an unfamiliar face with a mess of wavy brown hair. The man arches a thick brow and looks into the street before his eyes settle back on Yoongi.

“Can I help you?”

“Is Hoseok here? I want to kick his ass,” Yoongi grumbles out before taking a sip from his bottle. He's still not drunk enough but he's getting there and he's starting to wonder why he gave this shit up to begin with.

The man in the doorway laughs, a deep, rich sound and Yoongi would be mesmerized by the timbre of it if he wasn't becoming increasingly more agitated standing on the doorstep.

“No, he's not here, but you can come inside and wait for him,” the stranger offers, inclining his head towards the interior. “I'm Taehyung, and I rent this studio. Hoseok just borrows it, but I have insomnia tonight so I've been up painting.” He narrows his eyes, clearly sizing up Yoongi’s restless state. “You obviously need to talk something out with him, so you can stay and wait. He said he'll be here in the morning to get some things.”

Letting out a frustrated groan, Yoongi throws his now empty liquor bottle on the ground. It doesn't even shatter, which he finds unsatisfactory. “Figures that motherfucker would do this,” he mutters. “Fuck him.”

“I've tried before but he's picky,” Taehyung replies, laughing at his own joke. His eyes are a deep brown that sparkle even in the dim light. He tilts his head and looks Yoongi over. “Come inside. I've got wine and chicken.”

Scowling, Yoongi shakes his head. “Isn't it supposed to be ’beer and chicken’?”

“I like wine better,” Taehyung explains, grinning. He's got this boxy smile that looks ridiculous and enchanting at the same time. “Makes me feel classy as fuck when I get wasted. Wanna join?”

Yoongi mumbles under his breath, already forgetting his words the moment he says them. He pivots and begins walking down the street, but a strong hand suddenly pulls him back.

“I can't let you go anywhere like this,” Taehyung declares with a firm tone and velvet voice. “Seriously, you could get murdered or run over and I would have to live with that. Come inside and I'll make you forget all about Hoseok.”

Yoongi smiles. He likes the sound of that.

 

——————-

Chapter 14 [Hidden Scene]

 

Of all the things Taehyung is known for, his most curious trait by far is his penchant for distinctly not following the rules. He knows this about himself, knows that others think it's odd and that he’s a little more than quirky, but that's the thing about being weird— you really don't give a fuck what others think.

And of all the completely unnecessary and dangerous things to do on this planet, Taehyung decides to invite a drunken stranger into his art studio in the middle of the night.

Why?

Well, it's really quite self-explanatory if you could see the small man standing in front of him, shaking with anger and pouting at his feet, ranting about one of Taehyung’s closest friends, one Jung Hoseok.

The rambling makes no sense and the man may be furious but he’s got such soft features and feline eyes, and his little lips are so cute— he kind of looks like a kitten, one that just realized it has tiny claws and is trying to figure out how to use them.

So, when the drunken man realizes that Hoseok is indeed not in the studio as he suspected, he turns away, grumbling to himself even as he wobbles on his petite legs, and Taehyung decides that he can't let the guy leave like this. Quickly, he convinces the other to come inside, if only to avoid possible murder on the way home, and then in the blink of an eye, it's just the two of them awkwardly standing in the studio.

“So, I introduced myself. What's your name?” Taehyung asks the stranger as he makes his way into the small kitchenette, wiping splatters of paint off his hands with his apron. He looks back and notices the stranger staring at the tarp-covered floor in deep concentration. His brows are pulled together, making his boyish face look downright grumpy, and he seems lost in thoughts that swirl around his brain, blocking out Taehyung’s words.

When the other doesn't answer, Taehyung smacks his lips and uncorks a bottle of wine before pulling out two crystal glasses from his backpack. He always brings an extra glass when he drinks because one always ends up with paint on it or crashing to the floor after enough wine is consumed. Better safe than sorry, and it seems that tonight’s the perfect excuse for such an idiom.

“I'm Yoongi,” the stranger finally responds after a while and Taehyung already has two glasses filled full with dark, fragrant wine.

Pulling out a rubber band from his apron pocket, Taehyung gathers his shaggy hair on top of his head and makes a little ponytail, smiling. “Well, Yoongi-yah—”

“Yoongi-hyung,” his guest corrects, grimacing at the ground. “I can tell I'm older than you.”

Well, ok then.

Taehyung really isn't the type of person to argue with that, or care, so he grabs the glasses of wine and goes straight to the tarp, carefully sitting down before looking at Yoongi expectantly. “Well, Yoongi-hyung, sit down and let’s drink. Hobi’s ass-kicking is postponed until later.”

The elder finally looks over at him then, face still blank. He looks confused, possibly coming down from whatever adrenaline-fueled rage he was in earlier, but the next words out of his mouth are surprising to say the least. “I thought you said that you had chicken?”

Laughing, Taehyung wags a finger. “I do! I just forgot with all the excitement…” He springs to his feet and goes into the kitchenette to retrieve the greasy boxes on the counter before sauntering back into the main space. He nearly falls over when he finds Yoongi already sprawled out on the tarp, languidly sipping away at his wine and staring at the wall.

Damn, for such a small guy, he moves really fast.

Taehyung plops the chicken down on the tarp and gestures at the fare. “Eat up, hyung.”

Yoongi gives him a withering look at that, and Taehyung can't help but find the other amusing. He was clearly trying to appear intimidating, but he actually comes off as adorable and Taehyung kind of wants to boop his nose.

As ridiculous as it sounds, Taehyung kind of wants to be friends.

They eat in silence for a bit, Taehyung sipping on his wine while looking over the canvas piece he had begun earlier in the night. It needs a little more color, probably some more effective shading to off-set the—

“Aren't you going to ask me why I want to kick Hobi’s ass?”

Pursing his lips, Taehyung thinks it over before replying, “No, I figured that you have your reasons.” He goes back to contemplating his painting with a content hum.

Yoongi makes an affronted noise at this. “Isn't he your friend, though? Seems like you should be concerned. I wouldn't have let me in either but that's your business, I guess.”

“It's not really any of my business, to be honest,” Taehyung explains with a shrug. “I'm all about positive energy, so I try not to stick myself in other people’s drama. Also, helping strangers out when they're in distress creates positive energy, so really, the pleasure is all mine.” He grins something devilish, holding up his glass in a mock toast.

Snorting, Yoongi sets one of his chicken bones down on the tarp and licks the grease off his fingers. “You're fucking weird,” he says, bluntness most likely aided by the alcohol. “You don't care if I want to kick your friend’s ass, you invite me in without even knowing me, and… what the fuck is with that ponytail?”

Taehyung pouts at that, waving his head back and forth so his ponytail dances with the movement. “Hey, don't be negative about my hair. I like it like this. It's…. freeing.”

“It looks fucking stupid.”

“You look stupid,” Taehyung sputters in reply, scrunching his face up.

Yoongi’s eyes widen at this before he starts cackling like a maniac, falling over and clutching his stomach. Taehyung stares in disbelief for a few moments before following suit, and soon both men are laughing uncontrollably on the tarp, writhing around, surrounded by wine and fried chicken.

When they finally catch their breath, Yoongi’s face is flushed from the beverage and Taehyung feels pretty languid himself, his painting long forgotten in favor of befriending this stranger. He takes a gulp of his wine before grinning mischievously at his guest. “Hey, Yoongi-hyung, let’s get to know each other by playing ’truth or dare’.”

At the suggestion, Yoongi furrows his brows and hugs his knees to his chest. Chicken grease still shines on his long fingers and his mouth is tinged slightly maroon. “I don't know…. Isn't that a kid’s game?”

“Do I look like a functioning adult?” Taehyung questions, one eyebrow cocked.

Yoongi stares, then takes another sip of his wine. “Bring the bottle over here first.”

And that's all the confirmation Taehyung needs before he's up on his feet, dashing to get the bottle of wine. He returns to the tarp, pours them more drink, then the chaos begins.

“Truth or dare,” he asks Yoongi, leaning forward to cup his chin in his hand, watching the elder intently.

Yoongi hums. His little lips vibrate. “Truth, I guess?”

“That's no fun,” Taehyung pouts, but he's secretly glad to get the opportunity to peer inside the other’s mind so quickly. It's not often that Taehyung makes a new friend that he gets to actually indulge with; mostly he befriends his colleagues at the art gallery or other students at school who he calls passing acquaintances more than anything.

“Just ask me a damn question,” comes the snippy reply from Yoongi, who has been fingering the stem of his wine glass. Perhaps it's a nervous habit, Taehyung thinks.

“Ok, so where are you from?” Taehyung queries, cradling his own wine glass in his palm, pinky out.

Yoongi narrows his eyes before shaking his head. “Look who’s making the game ’no fun’, now. That question is too simple.”

“Just answer the damn question,” Taehyung retorts teasingly, enjoying the way Yoongi dazedly looks back at him like he can't quite comprehend how someone like Taehyung even exists.

“Daegu,” Yoongi finally concedes, crossing his arms. “There. You happy?”

Taehyung squeals in delight and put his glass down so he can gesture wildly. “I'm from there too! I've finally met someone from the same home town! This is great!” Admittedly, it's not that rare to find someone from Daegu in Seoul, but Taehyung has yet to actually do so, so excitement is in order, even if it is a little unnecessary.

Just when he thought that Yoongi would make some snide comment and avoid the subject, the elder surprises him once more. “Really? Well that's…. nice, I guess.”

“It is,” Taehyung agrees, watching as Yoongi seemingly works through something in that mysterious head of his. When the other just keeps staring at the ground, Taehyung clears his throat. “It's, uh, your turn in the game.”

Yoongi startles, like he’s just been caught sleeping. Maybe alcohol makes him drowsy? “Oh, yeah. Ok, truth or dare?”

“Dare.” Taehyung leans forward, grinning. He's curious as to how his new friend will let this evening proceed. Taehyung is a college boy, so he’s no stranger to getting wild with unfamiliar people, or sometimes, quietly chaotic with familiar strangers. This could go either way, if he's being honest.

Yoongi seems to be struggling with a good reply, his eyes flitting around the room before they settle back down on the bottle of wine. “I dare you to drink the rest of that, right now,” he demands, pointing.

Eyeing the bottle, Taehyung considers. There's not much left of the wine to begin with, but he’s already a little more than tipsy. He looks over to Yoongi, who’s got this lazy grin on his feline face and he decides“fuck it” because they might as well be equally wasted. Hobi sure is in for a treat come morning.

With gusto, Taehyung grabs the bottle and chugs the rest of it, some of it spilling down his chin and onto his paint-splattered apron. When he finishes, he makes a loud “ah” sound and slams the bottle back down.

“Didn't think you would actually do it,” Yoongi admits, giggling beneath his hand. He seems more open now, more at ease, and Taehyung figures that in a few minutes, he’ll start to feel the same way.

A few minutes later comes a lot sooner than expected and Taehyung finds himself laughing hysterically as Yoongi completes his latest dare, dancing on top of one the many fold-out tables littered across the studio. The elder stumbles on one particular harsh gyration, and Taehyung would be scared that he might fall off if he wasn't so amused by Yoongi’s terrible dancing skills. The man is is just moving his hips in random patterns, flailing his arms around and Taehyung desperately hopes that Yoongi is a better dancer when sober.

“Alright, that's enough! Stop stop stop, please,” Taehyung begs, gesturing for the other to get down. Yoongi does so gingerly, stumbling across the room while dragging his now bare feet across the hardwood.

“Truth or dare,” the elder asks, grinning a gummy smile that displays rows of perfectly square teeth.

“Truth,” Taehyung decides, laying back against the tarp.

Yoongi clucks his tongue in thought before perking up. “Would you ever fuck Hobi?”

Cackling, Taehyung writhes on the tarp at the unexpected question. “I didn't think the game would go this way,” he admits as he sucks in a breath. “Naughty naughty hyung….”

“It's just a question,” Yoongi spits back, but his face is redder than the crimson paint left drying on Taehyung’s palette. “Fucking answer it. It's part of the game.”

“Well, yeah. Have you seen him? I'd fuck that man in a heartbeat, but I don't think I'd get into a relationship with him. Too much drama, you know?”

Yoongi squirms at this, and if Taehyung wasn't so drunk, he would read more into it, but right now he can't think past the pleasant buzz in his head and the taste of chicken grease on his lips. “What do you mean?” the elder asks, eyes wide.

“He’s just really complicated. That's all. I mean, look at me, I'm already complicated enough as it is,” Taehyung explains, wagging his head so his ponytails bounces. “So that's all. He’s got a nice ass though. And nice hands. Bet he gives good handjobs.”

If Taehyung thought Yoongi could flush any more, he’s quickly corrected, because Yoongi is now the brightest shade of red that Taehyung has ever seen and that's saying something because he’s got a color chart with like five hundred hues of red on it. He’s not even sure that the other man is breathing properly.

“Hyung, are you ok?” Taehyung waves a hand in front of Yoongi who finally blinks owlishly at him, like he's coming out of a daze.

“Yeah, I was just, thinking of someone….”

Taehyung sits up instantly, intrigued. He loves hearing about other people’s sex lives. Weird, but he doesn't really care. “Ooh, Tell me about it, hyung!”

“No,” Yoongi retorts, pouting like a child while crossing his arms against his chest. He’s glaring at Taehyung like the younger just called him something mean, and Taehyung finds it alarmingly suspicious. His drunken mind is trying to tell him that there's some connection between Yoongi’s defensiveness and Hobi, but who is he to judge? He’s just here because he's got an insomnia and he wants to be entertained.

“Truth or dare?” Taehyung blurts out, smiling like a predator.

Yoongi seems confused by the topic change, posture relaxing. “Uh, truth?”

“What were you thinking about?” Taehyung asks, feeling like a cat who got the cream. Now, Yoongi has to answer the question.

“Dare!” Yoongi shouts, as if that changes the situation entirely.

Taehyung snorts with laughter. “Ok, I dare you to tell me what you were thinking about.”

Now, he’s really trapped Yoongi. There's no way the elder can get out of this, and if he does, Taehyung will just double-dare him and bring out the triple if he still won't answer. Yoongi, for his part, looks aghast, as if he hasn't quite thought out this scenario and it's only when he draws his face into a deep frown that Taehyung realizes that he has indeed won.

“Fine,” Yoongi mutters, shifting to get comfortable on the tarp. “I have this….friend who’s an artist and maybe we fucked around a little bit and now I think I have feelings for him, but I don't know if he's serious about me. I mean, he said that he loves me, but I don't know if he really means it or if he’s playing with me….”

Oh, Taehyung is so happy. He loves shit like this because it's straight out of a romance drama, which is an aspect he’s severely lacking in his own life. Curious, he crawls over to Yoongi with wide eyes. “When you say fucked around, do you mean like you literally fucked around or you like… fucked around? I'm asking for science.”

“Does it make a difference?” Yoongi grumbles out, clearly uncomfortable with the younger’s close proximity, but he doesn't bother to move.

Taehyung shakes his head in disappointment. “Of course it matters! Whether or not you've plugged your charger into his outlet is very telling,” he explains astutely, one finger in the air. “Because if you've gone that far, it probably means that he thinks of you as more than a friend at least. Anything less is probably just a drunken mistake or like a slip in judgement. You know?”

“That's what I was thinking!” Yoongi blurts out, raising his hands in the air. His face is extremely red and he’s sweating, so it's probably a good thing that the wine is gone. “Except…” he furrows his brow then, “I'm the one who is maybe stopping things? I mean we did stuff, and clearly he wants to be with someone else, but maybe it's my fault for not being clear about what I want? I don't know, I really don't know, you know?”

“I know,” Taehyung agrees, humming. He picks at the paint-flecked tarp before gasping at the sudden idea that pops into his head. “Hey, I'm gay,” he declares proudly. “So you can tell me what happened and I'll tell you if he really is into you, ok?”

It's a brilliant plan, it really is.

Definitely brilliant.

So brilliant.

Yoongi purses his lips together, staring down at his hands, then he looks up at Taehyung like he just descended from heaven. “You're right! I'll just tell you because you're gay. I'll tell you then you can tell me!”

“Yes, tell me!”

So Yoongi does, and Taehyung listens to the elder’s story about how he works with this guy and at first they disliked each other but then there was a makeout session in the guy’s art studio, which led to Yoongi coming back for more, and Taehyung thinks this sounds really familiar…… but he probably saw it on a drama somewhere, or maybe in a movie? Book, definitely. For now though, he listens intently as Yoongi describes his first sexual encounter with the guy.

“So he’s painting me…”

“Like on your skin?”

“Yeah.”

“Fuck, that's kind of hot.”

“That's what I thought, because he’s like on top of me and I can feel his body through my jeans,” Yoongi relays, smoothing his hands down his skin as if to illustrate his point. “And he tells me that he wants me, so I'm like ’fuck it’ and before I know it, we’re dry humping and I'm sweaty. He’s got his mouth on me and I've never felt more dirty, I guess? It's weird, I know…”

Taehyung sits up from laying in his stomach. “No! That actually sounds way hotter than just stripping down and plugging things in, you know?”

“I know,” Yoongi agrees with a wag of his finger. “So, then he asks if I could come in his hand, and I'm like, ’fuck yes, please ’ and I do, then I do the same for him, and it's really fucking great, like I didn't think men were this hot, but he’s this hot, but then his boyfriend has to call—”

“No!” Taehyung gasps, completely shocked by the plot twist. This is probably better than anything he could've stayed home to watch on tv. “He’s in a relationship?”

Yoongi nods fervently then recoils, as if he had nodded too fast. “Yes, he’s with this other guy who is way more attractive than me and much younger, so that's why I'm confused. And he won't leave the guy. If anything, he wants his boyfriend more now and he fucking flaunts it in front of me.”

“Oh my god,” Taehyung shouts, slapping his hands on the ground to push himself up on wobbly legs. “You know who you are, hyung? You're the second lead in a drama! The boyfriend is the first lead bitch who no one likes! You have to win, hyung! You have to! Or else the fans will complain and the show will be cancelled!” He drops to his knees in front of Yoongi, clasping his hands together. “Please don't let the show get canceled.”

Yoongi blinks at him, his eyes criss-crossing a little because Taehyung is so close. The elder then laces their hands together, eyes set with determination. “I won't let the show get cancelled! I can't let the show get cancelled!”

“That's it, hyung!” Taehyung declares, waving their joined hands in the air. “You should go get your man and let me know how it goes!”

Nodding eagerly, Yoongi raises his other arm up in triumph. “Yes, I will!” He pauses then to look Taehyung directly in the eye. “Taehyung, you should give me your number. We brothers from Daegu must stick together, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Taehyung drawls, before dashing away to get his phone. They trade devices and Taehyung giggles as he inputs his information into Yoongi’s contact list. When finished, Yoongi sprawls out on the tarp again, as if he had just finished running a marathon. Taehyung looks at him intently, noticing the smooth, pale expanse of his neck, understanding why the guy Yoongi likes wanted to paint him. “Hey,” he says, poking at the elder’s stomach. “We should paint each other, so you can see if it feels different then when your man did it. If we start painting and then end up fucking, then you can just blame it on the atmosphere, you know? Then you'll know if he's into you.”

Yoongi snaps his fingers. “That's so smart. Why didn't we do that sooner?”

“I don't know,” Taehyung admits with a shrug.

It really is a brilliant plan.

So brilliant.

Wow, he's good.

So Taehyung goes over to cabinet and starts dragging out some of his cheap acrylic paints, throwing the tubes down at Yoongi’s feet. The elder strips off his shirt before laying back down, most likely too tired to go any further. That's fine because Taehyung finds that he’s in the same mood. The sun is barely rising now, and Hobi will be here soon to pick up the paintings anyway.

“Pick your color,” Taehyung suggests, waving a bunch of tubes around. Yoongi hums for what seems like a thousand years before he settles on red and a bright yellow. Once that's settled, Taehyung squeezes some out onto Yoongi’s bare chest, laughing when the man cringes at the cold sensation.

Then it begins.

Taehyung just draws random designs on Yoongi, stopping every now and then to ask, ’is this sexy yet?’, to which Yoongi grumbles and replies ’I don't think so’ lethargically. So Taehyung keeps going until Yoongi grabs his wrist and offers to show him how his artist crush did it.

Slowly, he drags Taehyung’s finger over his skin, feeling the lean muscle beneath the flesh, the smoothness of the fine baby hair of his stomach. He keeps spreading the paint further until he lets go and Taehyung gapes down at the simple stroke, transfixed. Yoongi is staring up at him with lazy, hooded eyes, and Taehyung leans forward until he’s hovering above the other, their faces close.

With as much seriousness as he can muster in his inebriated state he asks, “Do you want to fuck yet?”

Yoongi hums, considering. “No, I kind of want to throw up. Do you want to fuck?”

Taehyung sits back and looks down at the elder covered in paint beneath him. “No, I don't. I think we both like getting chargers plugged into our outlets anyway,” he states with a sigh. “Huh, maybe it wasn't just the atmosphere? I guess that guy really likes you. Do you really like him?”

Yoongi stays silent for a moment, running his hands over the paint on his chest. He's got this fairway dreamy look in his eyes and Taehyung sobers up for a moment, wishing he had someone he could feel that way about.

“Yeah,” the elder admits, staring up at the ceiling. His hand has found its way over his heart, just resting there above a splotch of yellow, delicate fingers barely gracing the skin. “Yeah, I really like him but it hurts.”

The sun is up now, spilling through the windows and casting its rays of gold over the tarp. Taehyung leans back over Yoongi and stares the other down. “Then we have to figure this out,” he insists. “Tell me again how he painted you. I don't think I really got it the first time….”

To his delight, Yoongi just huffs, making grabby hands for a tube of paint lying by Taehyung’s feet. “Fine, I’ll show you, but fucking pay attention this time. Why do I even have a dongsaeng like you?”

Taehyung smiles.

Inviting this small grumpy man into his studio was probably one of the best decisions he ever made.