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heavy days in june

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a lesson in remembering:

the water is always smoother in retrospect.

where are the waves? where are the currents?

the way in which we tell ourselves we could do it again.

dive in again. make it out alive.


kelsey danielle, “a lesson in forgetting”

 


 

‘when i said i was looking for inspiration, this isn’t what i meant.’

yoongi tightens his grip on his mug, eyes darting around the room. the sign outside read magic shop. he’s sure it has a meaning but he doesn’t care enough to know it. he just remembers jungkook’s palm in his, namjoon opening the door to pull them both inside.

it’s a nice place, he supposes. warm, private, comfy. the walls are white, decorated with photos of people yoongi’s never seen and places he’s never been to. signs with big, looping handwriting hang over the displays. the employees wear mint-green shirts, shoes click-clacking on the wooden floor, and yoongi almost tripped up the steps when jungkook dragged him toward a table.

it’s a nice place. yoongi had almost forgotten that there are millions of lovely things in the world he’s yet to see.

‘write a verse about me,’ jungkook suggests, an eyebrow raised, a line of foam across his top lip. yoongi can see namjoon down by the door, phone in his hand while he waits on whatever pie they pressured yoongi into sharing.

‘that’s not how it works, kook-ah,’ yoongi tells him, wishing it was so easy: wishing that he could fill pages with jungkook’s eyes and namjoon’s laugh and jimin’s quick steps and gentle touches. he’d do anything for that power again. he’d do anything to be a kid who could look at the sea and see stories rather than water. ‘i can’t just— i don’t— i can’t just will it into existence—’

‘drink your coffee, hyung,’ namjoon drawls, and one slice of pie almost falls off its plate when he drops down the tray.

yoongi grumbles, holding his mug to his lips. the bell at the front door chimes once, and then again; open and closed.

it’s all very…worn-in. very homely. there’s something like nostalgia in the air.

‘how’d you find this place, anyway?’ yoongi asks, wiping at his mouth.

‘jimin hyung,’ jungkook tells him. ‘one of his friends just started working here. isn’t it nice?’

‘my balcony’s nicer.’

namjoon sighs.

‘we wanna help, hyung,’ jungkook whines, trying to talk around his food and fumbling. ‘isn’t that what friends do? drag each other outside, buy each other coffee?’

‘i paid for my own coffee, you brat.’

‘he’s right, hyung,’ namjoon says. somewhere behind them he hears cutlery clattering to the floor, people laughing. ‘we’re just trying to help. you’re allowed to struggle sometimes.’

‘i’m not struggling.’

(he won’t mention how he’s lying, how he’s uncomfortable in his own skin, feeling too much and too little and unable to admit it. he’s always been there for everyone, and he won’t let anyone near him. won’t let them see all the things he hides.

not that they don’t try to get close, god, do they ever. he’s familiar with how namjoon’s gaze lingers on him from miles away, all the questions he wants to ask, but yoongi has walls. it’s been so long since he’s let people in.)  

‘sure you’re not, hyung.’ jungkook’s eyes are wide and unconvinced above his mug.

‘this is a process, okay? i have to wait it out.’

namjoon looks up at him. ‘can i listen to the song you’re writing when you’re done?’

‘as long as you keep all your ryan plushies off the sofa.’

‘eat your food,’ namjoon grumbles, and his pie crust goes flying off the table and onto the floor when he cuts through it. jungkook cracks up, head tilted back over his chair.

 

 

 

yoongi remembers the first song he wrote. if he looked back on it now he’d hate it, all the words looking wrong and the rhymes too obvious, and he was always too scared to show it to anybody. but he’d been beyond happy with it then, and it makes him embarrassed to think about the boy he’d sat behind on the bus, how he was the subject of every line.

his name was jayin, and he was so beautiful. and yoongi didn’t know him all that well but sometimes he’d watch yoongi, study him, silent and maybe meaning something more.

sometimes yoongi thought he knew. maybe they were always waiting for the other to make the first move.

yoongi’s first song was a love song and it was to the boy with black hair who dyed it blond in the summer, who wore flannels and nothing else, who hid a sailor moon watch under his sleeve, who was smart and loud and energetic and all things lovely.

god, he was so lovely.

but then yoongi’s notebook fell out of his bag when he got off the bus and— well. the boy only did what anyone would’ve.

 

 

yoongi gets back from the bakery under the setting sun, wanting to sleep but remaining restless. namjoon changes into sweatpants and curls into the sofa, pulling at yoongi’s wrist to get him to do the same. there’s a music show starting, filled with teenage debuts and popular comebacks, and yoongi can’t watch it without a pang in his chest and a longing for something more.

‘i just gotta do some work,’ yoongi says, apologetic, already backing away. namjoon’s skin is warm and his smile has always been inviting but yoongi can’t stop himself from pulling away.

namjoon frowns. ‘you always work.’

i know, yoongi almost says, but he doesn’t. he apologises again before darting down the hall, shutting his bedroom door behind him.

the balcony’s cold when he steps out onto it, a couple of bottles on the table where the two of them forgot to bring them in the other night. he hears namjoon hum a melody in the living room. for one selfish moment, he almost calls out to him. almost asks namjoon to join him. almost shows him the things he’s been writing and asks why they all feel so numb.

his chest tightens and he decides against it, curling into his chair, breathing in the cold and the chimney smoke.

 

 

yoongi and namjoon were too young to think about the future, but they did anyway.

yoongi thought about the future and he thought about the melodies in his head, realised that music was it for him . namjoon thought about the future and came knocking on yoongi’s window, four a.m. on a school night, clambering in and crying .

he asked yoongi if things would ever work out; if they’d ever make anything of themselves. namjoon was always a couple steps ahead and sometimes it was his downfall. he desperately needed everything to work out.

yoongi wondered about whether it was worth it too, but he knew one thing: if they had their music, if they had each other, they’d be okay.

he told namjoon this, the boy tucked under his chin, namjoon’s hands shaking in his lap where his parents had taken his notebook from him and ripped out the pages. he said it was like he was losing himself, like the words were falling through his fingers, like—

‘i’d been so sure of everything but i… i hadn’t made— i hadn’t made copies and they’re all gone and i don’t know what to do—’

namjoon stayed, curled close while they slept, ate breakfast at the table the next morning . namjoon’s parents kept calling and they ignored it, pulling all the blinds and keeping all the lights off. yoongi’s parents were out of town for a week for whatever business meetings entailed, so they had the house to themselves.

they talked a lot. they wrote a lot. yoongi gave namjoon a new notebook and namjoon emptied all the slips of torn paper from his school bag onto the floor. they taped them back together for the rest of the afternoon.

‘i don’t even like most of these,’ namjoon murmured, head on yoongi’s shoulder where they watched movies and ate takeout on the floor. he picked up a page, more tape than paper, and scanned the lines. ‘i think i just hated losing them. they all mean something, y’know? every word’s important.’

yoongi agreed and they fell asleep together, curling limbs and clingy hands and quick breathing. when namjoon’s father came to the door the next day, yoongi answered it with a stern glare and a fist curling around the doorframe, respect be damned. there was sorrow in the man’s eyes but not much regret. yoongi didn’t want to let namjoon go.

‘let him live,’ yoongi shouted down the driveway, namjoon’s father throwing a possessive arm around namjoon’s shoulders, namjoon flinching away from the touch. in his backpack there were bottles of soda and fresh notebooks and sewn-together lyrics, yoongi’s favourite guitar pick, a sweater that made namjoon warm no matter how cold it was. a key to yoongi’s door, too; something to let namjoon know he was always welcome, he’d never be anything less than family, he’d never not be loved. ‘you let him fucking live.’

 

 

yoongi doesn’t realise he’d fallen asleep until there’s a warm hand on his side, another in his hair, and he opens his eyes to meet namjoon’s. namjoon, looking tired and dressed for it, pyjamas making sweater-paws of his hands. he looks like he could fall asleep standing up.

‘what time’sit?’ yoongi asks, slurred and hoarse, and he leans into the warmth namjoon provides. he’s always been like that: very warm, very…close.

namjoon pulls him upright, and yoongi’s hair is mussed where he was pressed against the cushion when he runs his hand through it. he blinks once, twice. he can hear traffic below them, the distant kind. ‘nearly midnight.’

yoongi rubs at his eyes, blinking away the dark spots in his vision. ‘joon, you should be in bed—’

‘i couldn’t sleep without checking on you,’ he murmurs, a hand hovering near yoongi’s head.

guilt settles heavy in yoongi’s stomach and he moves closer, forehead falling into the crook of namjoon’s neck. he mumbles an apology. ‘you don’t have to worry about me.’

‘i do anyway, hyung,’ namjoon says, fingers curling into yoongi’s hair. he’s always so gentle. he shouldn’t have to deal with yoongi and his nights. he shouldn’t have to deal with any of it. ‘always have.’

yoongi shivers, doesn’t mean to. tries to play it off as him shifting in namjoon’s lap but namjoon doesn’t buy it.

‘c’mon, up,’ namjoon says, using his authority when they’re too tired to argue. he finds yoongi’s hand and pulls him to his feet. ‘you’re too cold, hyung.’

‘i’m a cold person,’ yoongi mumbles, carpet under his feet when they step inside.

‘that’s a lie, whichever way you meant it,’ namjoon tells him, and yoongi doesn’t think too much into that. ‘you wouldn’t be freezing if you didn’t keep sleeping outside.’

‘sorry.’ he means it.

namjoon’s arm is around his shoulders, fingers dangling and useless. ‘it’s okay, hyung.’

yoongi’s thinking past this night, but nothing feels okay. it hasn’t been okay in a long time. he could say it now, he almost does, but then he’s letting namjoon pull back the covers and yoongi falls into bed with a thud. he curls up on his side, watching namjoon go back out onto the balcony, bring in his headphones, close the door, pull the curtains, turn on the lamp. he moves to leave.

‘d’you wanna stay?’ yoongi ends up asking too quickly, not sure if he meant to, feeling sixteen all over again. namjoon pauses, a hand poised around the handle. he nods.

it’s dark, but yoongi can see him smiling. he disappears out of the room for something—water, a toothbrush, his phone—and yoongi dozes.

he comes back in soon enough. yoongi opens his eyes when the door clicks shut and nods his thanks when namjoon leaves a bottle of water on the dresser. he moves around the bed, clambering on top of the covers.

yoongi sits up. ‘haven’t i told you not to read that?’

yoongi’s notebook sits in his hands, blue and white striped. namjoon’s head is ducked where he’s looking through the pages.

‘yeah, you have.’ he flicks through the pages, lingering on words and phrases. he doesn’t put the book down until a few minutes later, leaning across yoongi and dropping it onto his nightstand. he turns off the lamp before tucking himself under the covers.

yoongi bed stretches for miles and yet there’s no space between them. when yoongi shuts his eyes, his feels namjoon’s hand move to press over his stomach, near his hip, fingers gripping tight and comfy.

‘hyung,’ he whispers, and yoongi remembers the way the word used to sound when he’d curl into yoongi and scream, or laugh, or cry. ‘everything you’ve written is beautiful.’

‘i don’t know if i’m looking for beautiful,’ yoongi whispers, and shifts a little closer. namjoon’s touch doesn’t leave him the whole night.

 

 

yoongi finds a home in the bakery. he doesn’t mean for it to happen but it happens nonetheless. namjoon’s been getting him outside more—less for inspiration and more because he needs to go outside— and things were bound to progress.

he gets dragged to parks more often than not, and jungkook always has his camera, and jimin always has something new to dance to (he asks yoongi to critique him—not that there’s anything to critique, and not as if yoongi would be any good, but it’s an excuse to see each other between busy schedules). but he ends up back at the bakery every  time, taking a two-person table in the corner and making it his own.

he gets to know taehyung, jimin’s friend, the kid with a bright boxy smile behind the counter—he’s energetic and optimistic and way too smart for his own good. there’s something yoongi likes about a kid who can talk about anything and make it interesting, and he's so much more perceptive than he lets on.

he meets jin, too. he owns the bakery, the son of a businessman and a lawyer who wasn’t all that happy when his only child moved into the city and used every penny he’d saved on a run-down corner lot. jin might have come from not-so-humble beginnings but never, not once, does it show; the oldest of all of them, he takes care of them in a way yoongi’s never experienced. there are days when he’ll sit across from yoongi and talk about life, the music he’s been working on, the dreams he has. he’ll make taehyung laugh about the silliest of things and yoongi will find himself laughing too.

yoongi knows that another boy works here; jin talks about him, hoseok, with an affectionate glint in his eye. when yoongi asks, taehyung tells him that hoseok never leaves the kitchen. too busy, or something like that. yoongi’s never seen him—only heard distant laughter from behind the door, giddy and high pitched and addictive.

part of yoongi, buried deep and lying dormant, wants to know hoseok. he wants to hear that laugh in the open. he doesn’t know why.

 

 

jungkook’s talented with a camera. he doesn’t like to believe it himself—that kid has never accepted compliments, always mistakes kind words for work harder— but some deep part of him has to know. he has to see the way he captures the sun and the sea and his friends and think it’s beautiful.

because yeah, it is. yoongi knows this even if he prefers to stray from the camera, even if he agrees to go walking with jungkook anyway, even if he hears the camera’s click and shutter where he watches the train tracks, feet dangling off the bridge.

‘you should be a model, hyung,’ jungkook murmurs, crawling over to yoongi to show him a particularly pretty picture—yoongi’s head down, feet mid-swing, the sun cutting across his face.

yoongi huffs, a hand against his thigh. ‘and you should be studying photography, kook-ah.’

yoongi hears him sigh, imagines him thinking here we go again. because yoongi brings this up almost every day, the same thing over and over, you have talent, kook, don’t waste it—

‘you know i can’t,’ he murmurs, all regret and longing. ‘my parents won’t pay for it.’

‘me and joon will,’ he promises, a real one, twirling the top off his water bottle. ‘we’ll pay for it once we figure things out. and if we don’t, jimin will get into a company and get popular and do it before we can.’

‘how do you know that?’

‘how do you not know?’ yoongi laughs. jungkook’s been here for so long, so many years, but he still thinks he doesn’t belong here. he still doesn’t realise that they’d go to the ends of the earth to see him smile. ‘kook, we wanna look after you.’

when he looks up he finds jungkook smiling at him, big and bright and young. ‘thanks, hyung.’

‘you don’t have to thank me,’ yoongi says, moments before jungkook’s scooting all the way over to him and pressing himself into yoongi’s chest. yoongi’s hands wrap around jungkook on instinct, so used to this. ‘aish, i haven’t even done anything yet.’

jungkook sighs, easing into a familiar frame. ‘i know.’

and then it starts to rain because of course it does. gentle and barely-there, but when yoongi looks up he can see clouds, grey and angry, rain biting bitter at his neck and arms.

‘go on, head home,’ yoongi says, nudging at jungkook. he does as told, sitting up and reaching for his backpack. ‘none of us want to baby you when you end up getting a cold.’

‘you always baby me, hyung,’ he says, and he shouts when yoongi pushes at his shoulder and sends him stumbling off the wall. ‘you coming?’

yoongi gives it a think.

‘nah,’ he decides, looking down at the train tracks and up at the sky. he meets jungkook’s eyes. ‘i’m gonna go for a walk.’

jungkook looks at him. ‘but it’s raining.’

‘yeah.’ yoongi huffs out a laugh.

jungkook gives him a smile—a big, genuine grin, a do whatever you want, hyung —before waving goodbye, spinning around and stomping down the sidewalk.

the rain starts and stops enough to be irritating so yoongi walks with no direction, thinking about the starry look in jungkook’s eyes when a photo turns out well, the melodies namjoon hums around the house that he never seems to write down. namjoon’s out with jimin, or at least he was; if yoongi were to check his phone he’d probably find texts like:

what dyou want for dinner?, or:

come over to jiminie’s house we have garlic bread!!!!!, or the occasional:

hey its jimin, namjoon hyung fell asleep on my lap and he looks so sweet i don’t wanna wake him up :( can we make this a sleepover? i’ve invited kook too x.

and he’d check his phone if rain hadn’t started pouring down a couple minutes ago.

he’d definitely underestimated when he’d determined this rain to be a shower—it’s coming down in buckets, his hair plastered to his forehead, and only then does he realize two things:

first, it’s gonna be a twenty minute walk home from here. if he chanced it, fifteen minutes to jimin’s. second, the bakery is just around the corner.

yoongi doesn’t believe in miracles all that often, but he skids around the corner without a second thought and throws open the door to find cinnamon and warmth and radiators. the bell rings above him. honestly, he’s never been so happy in his life.   

his eyes fall to where taehyung’s carrying a baking tray to the display cabinet. jin leans against the counter, a line of flour painted across his cheek that everyone except him has noticed. yoongi jumps when the door closes behind him.

‘you need hot chocolate,’ is the first thing taehyung says, looking yoongi up and down and trying not to laugh. jin fails to hide a grin. yoongi pouts while he shrugs off his coat, water pooling on the welcome mat. ‘and a muffin. two muffins.’

he disappears into the kitchen when jin calls out to him, saying, ‘check if hoseok has any towels in there.’

‘i’m fine, really—’

and then a towel hits him in the face. that’s how today’s going, apparently.

jin’s smirking when yoongi looks up, the rag unfolding in his hands. ‘nobody’s getting pneumonia on my watch.’

yoongi gives in, journeying up to his table. ‘thank you.’

he throws his coat across the radiator, rubbing at the back of his neck. tae slides a plate onto the table and jin has a hot chocolate in his hands.

‘on the house,’ taehyung says, smiling, and he looks at jin, scrunches his nose, ‘courtesy of hoseok-hyung.’

jin just gives yoongi a look. purses his lips.

yoongi doesn’t think too much of it, finding his phone and notebook still dry at the bottom of his bag, and jin and taehyung make their way back to the counter.

 

kook [15:34]
movie night at urs tonight!!! namjoon hyung says we’re gonna start watching “something in the rain”, apparently its cute!!!!

 

yoongi [15:46]
what’s it about?

 

kook [15:47]
mmm i dunno. if it’s boring we can just watch hwarang, tho!!!

 

and then:

 

jiminie [15:10]
should i buy food on the way back from the studio??? we can cook together!!!
namjoon hyung said there’s some leftovers in the fridge if u want those

 

yoongi [15:48]
there wouldnt be enough for all four of us so mayb buy something small?
oh can u buy some milk as well? i’ll pay u back

 

jiminie [15:49]
okie!!

 

and finally:

 

roommate [15:44]

kookie already dibsed ur bed for tonight and jiminie threatened to sleep on the sofa cos they said i snore too much :((

 

yoongi [15:50]
theyre right


roommate [15:52]
i can’t believe i raised u for this hyung

 

yoongi [15:53]
i raised u, u asshole!!!!!!!!!!

 

taehyung appears again, sliding into the spare chair. he plants a fist under his chin, elbows on the table. he nods down at yoongi’s notes. ‘how’s it going?’

‘same as always,’ yoongi says, and he almost asks how taehyung knows what he’s doing but— yeah. jimin.

‘no luck, huh?’ taehyung sounds unbelievably sympathetic. he does this, yoongi’s realised: sit and joke and laugh but absorb everything . ‘you’ll come up with something. it’s gonna be the best, hyung.’

yoongi smiles. ‘i hope so,’ and almost believes him: almost knows that someday he’ll make something worthy of praise.

yoongi likes taehyung’s company, he realises. enjoys having him here, even when taehyung reaches across to steal a piece of the muffin yoongi’s cut into quarters, laughing when yoongi whines—

‘kim taehyung, stop bothering the patrons!’

yoongi bashes his knee off the table when he hears jin. taehyung doesn’t even flinch and bounces to his feet, shouting back, ‘he’s not a patron, he’s yoongi hyung!’

he waves at yoongi before running to the counter, laughing when jin whacks him on the arm.

(yoongi feels warm, inside and out. like something’s just wrapped around him, soft and beautiful, familiar and right; so much so that for a moment he can’t feel the puddles in his shoes. he thinks that if he looked outside, the storm would disappear.)


 

a force yoongi doesn’t understand carries him back to the bakery on a sunny saturday morning, swamped in one of namjoon’s many, many cardigans, the streets quiet and the heat heavy on his back.

they’re getting a heatwave, or so everybody says—jimin’s all for it, dragging him toward the river and dunking his feet into the water, sitting on the grass. jungkook loves a good summer-esque sunset, too. yoongi crawls under the covers next to namjoon every night even if it’s sweltering, desperate for touch.

the day is a comfortable kind of warm. yoongi’s sunglasses dangle from his collar when he opens the door, the bell ringing, the air all fruit and sugar.

and that’s when he sees a mop of brown hair suspiciously unlike taehyung’s, turned away from the counter, gripping at it and— and laughing, warm and smooth. jin hurries out of the kitchen at the sound of the bell and the stranger at the counter spins around.

their eyes land on yoongi, and then dart away, and then come back just as fast. their mouth drops open to a little o, hands frozen on the counter. their hair is curled a little, yoongi realises, gentle around their face. and is that—

‘is that purple?’ is what he ends up saying, and his face heats up. he steps up to the counter because this is how today’s going, a cute boy in front of him and all he can do is point to the section of their hair which is, as he’d guessed, lavender.

the boy at the counter laughs, loud and bright and beautiful, and yoongi knows—he just knows who it is.

‘tae wanted to experiment,’ jin tells him. ‘hoseokie was his guinea pig.’

and there it is. the mystery man.

jin could’ve given him a warning. this guy steals hearts, or something.

‘this is hoseok, by the way,’ jin says, smiling between them, ‘and this is yoongi.’

yoongi almost forgets how to speak when hoseok waves at him, when he leans up on the counter, all dimples and pretty eyes. he fumbles for something to say. ‘taking a break, huh? thought you didn’t leave the back.’

not the coolest introduction, but he’ll take it.

‘tae’s got a day off,’ hoseok explains, jutting his thumb behind him. ‘i couldn’t leave jin hyung out here all alone.’

‘don’t act like you’re babysitting me,’ jin grumbles, and hoseok trips over his own feet when jin pushes him. he laughs, surprised, and flails to grab the counter.

(he’s so beautiful.)

and inspiration hits yoongi in that moment like a goddamn bolt of lightning.

 

 

‘you’re late,’ is the first thing yoongi hears when he steps inside, jimin’s voice ringing out where the three of them are all sat around the living room, food in their hands. yoongi throws a carton of milk in the fridge that he forgot to take out of his bag at home.

‘i had to get groceries,’ he mumbles, dropping down next to jungkook on the rug. he gets handed a plate.

‘i asked you to get food at noon, hyung,’ namjoon grumbles, not really annoyed—even though yoongi forgot to call him. again.

‘i was…busy,’ he says, and it’s true. ‘sorry.’

his creativity disappeared for weeks. he thought that maybe any talent he’d had had left completely. but then he heard hoseok laugh, all hope and sunshine, and— well.

he didn’t mean to stay at the bakery for so long, only realising the time when jin was ushering him out the door, hoseok waving at him, yoongi feeling butterflies. only then had he remembered the money groceries he was sent to get, the dinner they’d all scheduled.

‘he was busy meeting hoseok hyung,’ jimin sing-songs, leaning toward yoongi with that little look in his eye, the one he has when he thinks he knows everything.

‘how d’you know?’ yoongi asks.

jimin grins. ‘i just do.’

‘was he nice?’ jungkook asks, and slides the pizza box across the table.

‘yeah,’ yoongi shrugs, breaking off a slice. ‘i like him.’

‘he definitely likes you too.’

something happens, then.

everyone in the room looks at yoongi and then away just as quick, suddenly focused on their food, seemingly aware of the exact same thing.

yoongi sits up straighter. ‘what d’you mean?’

namjoon turns on the tv. jimin goes on his phone. jungkook shrugs, smiles something sweet. yoongi whacks him. ‘brat.’

jungkook whines and namjoon looks over. ‘you think he hasn’t asked about you before?’

yoongi pauses. ‘oh.’

jimin hums, but nobody brings up hoseok for the rest of the night.

 

 

yoongi’s parents used to tell him that he always put himself in bad situations. a running joke: if the world ended, min yoongi pulled the trigger.

and it’s not like they were wrong— yoongi couldn’t even count the amount of times he was told not to do something and did it anyway, namjoon by his side, going to bed with a sprained ankle or a frantic heart, climbing through the bedroom window and tracking mud all over the carpet.

except he hadn’t….started this one. he hadn’t even ended it.

he just waited for it to stop and now he was standing here, his chest hurting and his eyes half-closed, something that tasted suspiciously like blood dripping down his face and into the corners of his mouth. they shouted words he knew, words he’d heard countless times in the last few weeks, fists and voices raised, heads held high against the damage they’d done.

it probably wasn’t that bad: yoongi just wasn’t used to being beaten up on the regular. he’d get a couple bruises out of it and be back on his feet by the morning. maybe.

and there’s the boy yoongi once thought was beautiful, a boy he wrote about for hours. fists raised and breathing ragged, this angry look in his eyes, this disgust, and he lunged—

namjoon appeared from, well, nowhere. punched him. and part of yoongi wanted to thank namjoon and part of him wanted to tell jayin it wasn’t his fault. if only yoongi hadn’t dropped his notebook, taken that bus, sat on that seat.

jayin’s group disappeared with a string of words that made yoongi’s ears hurt, sneers directed at namjoon and for a second yoongi wouldn’t touch him. wouldn’t put him through all of this. tried to move away but he almost collapsed from the fear. he just waited for namjoon to turn around and hold him, hands shaking, bodies trembling, adrenaline dying. he helped yoongi down to the ground.

‘where’d they hurt you?’ namjoon asked, voice high and panicked, wiping at the blood near yoongi’s nose and thumbing over the grazes. yoongi kept an eye on the direction the others went just in case they came back, just in case they wanted to get it over with.

‘it’s not bad,’ yoongi muttered, but his voice sounded hollow and everything was a little blurry. he reached out, hands fisted in namjoons’s shirt. ‘’m sorry, joonie.’

namjoon protested, moving a little closer. he dropped from his hunches onto his knees, legs tucked under him at a painful angle. ‘you didn’t do anything wrong.’

‘you shouldn’t be here,’ yoongi told him, wished he sounded a little stronger. he pressed fingers to namjoon’s wrist to still the constant jittery movement. ‘lemme see your hands—’

‘i’m fine,’ namjoon told him, even if he’d never been further from it, knuckles raw and grazed and swollen. yoongi wondered where he hit jayin. wondered where he got hit himself. ‘are you fine?’

‘yeah,’ yoongi breathed, shaky, wishing he could say no. he knew namjoon understood it anyway.

they got back to namjoon’s house and tiptoed to his room—nobody found them. there’d been an argument the night before, apparently, and his parents were keeping themselves busy in separate rooms and waited for the other’s pride to break. they’d been leaving namjoon to fend for himself but sometimes his mother left him a plate of dinner in the fridge. he shared it with yoongi, let him have the most.

namjoon stole what he needed from the bathroom, bandages and bandaids and disinfectant. they sat on the floor and patched each other up.

‘what did your parents say last time?’ namjoon asked, only wincing slightly when yoongi ran a cotton ball across his knuckles.

‘not to provoke people.’ yoongi was being gentle that night, warm fingers on the inside of namjoon’s wrist. he let namjoon at one of the nastier cuts near his eye, feeling kind of ridiculous with tissue stuffed up his nose. ‘i’m waiting for them to find out the actual reason.’

namjoon’s hand went to the back of yoongi’s head. they met eyes. breathing slow, smiling, namjoon looked like a miracle. ‘you can stay here if they do, yeah?’

‘yeah,’ yoongi said. they smiled at each other on worn-out carpet, acting like their worlds weren’t ending, acting like everything was fine.

 

 

it’s a tuesday evening. namjoon’s here this time, and he talks to jin with wide eyes and a hand unconsciously moving to curl into the fabric of his shirt, just above his heart. taehyung’s pulling at the rings on his fingers, hair long and smile bright, leaning over the counter to talk to yoongi like they haven’t seen each other in years. taehyung gives yoongi his number, and then jin does the same.

hoseok walks out of the kitchen then, a tray of bread in his hands. his eyes flit up and down, yoongi to the tray and back again.

‘hey,’ yoongi says, feeling a little nervous and not understanding it. his heart beats a wild rhythm.

‘hi, hyung,’ hoseok grins, biting his lip while he sets up the display.

‘hey, hoseokie,’ jin begins, and there’s something about the way jin’s looking between yoongi and hoseok that makes yoongi suspicious. hoseok looks up at his name. ‘go give yoongi your number.’

when yoongi hands hoseok his phone, he looks up at yoongi under long lashes and a longer fringe that cuts into them and moves with his blinking. he hands back the phone with a smile tugging at the corner of his lips, eyes daring to crinkle. yoongi smiles back.

 

 

yoongi hasn’t pulled the curtains yet. he can’t see the stars, never can, and he finds sleep has been robbed from him. the drowsiness he’d felt in the day is replaced with a surge of energy he doesn’t know with what to do.

he doesn’t know why he does it, but—

 

yoongi [00:15]
hi hoseok

hoseok [00:18]
yoongi!! hi

yoongi [00:20]
how are you? i hope i didnt wake u up

hoseok [00:20]
you didn’t! im good, hyung :)
you should be asleep, though!

yoongi [00:21]
i don’t think that’s gonna happen tonight

hoseok [00:22]
what’s on ur mind?

yoongi [00:24]
not sure. just a lot of stuff floating around

hoseok [00:24]
ah
calling you brb

 

and yoongi thought he’d forgotten the magic of writing an entire song in a night, but suddenly it’s six in the morning and he can see birds land on the balcony railing and his piano’s alive for the first time in a while. and hoseok’s asleep on the call, breathing slow and deep and drowsy where he’d stayed up until at least half four talking about anything that made yoongi’s mind move.

yoongi hangs up in the early morning, listening to those gentle breaths for just a moment too long, muttering a thank you hoseok can’t hear.

 

—  

 

namjoon matters more to yoongi than most people ever will. that’s what makes this so tricky: the thought of namjoon being the first one to hear all his songs, fingers tapping the rhythm into the table. his opinion is what yoongi’s asking for but he’s still scared to hear it.

namjoon’s the most honest person yoongi’s knows when it comes to this. that makes it even scarier.

having put together two songs in the space of a week feels a little surreal, especially after a couple months of nothing . namjoon tells him he seems happier, jimin says it’s because of the magic shop, jungkook says it’s because of hoseok. maybe they’re all right, in ways.

namjoon takes off the headphones when the songs ends, staring at the computer screen. yoongi fidgets in his lap and waits. there’s a long, long silence.

‘how is it?’ yoongi eventually asks, ready to either push forward or throw this project into a dark corner and leave it there.

‘you’ve never written a love song before,’ is what namjoon finally says, and— oh.

it’s been a long, long time. a boy and a bus and words yoongi’s still scared of—

‘i didn’t want it to be a love song,’ yoongi ends up saying, disgust creeping up his throat, a reminder of being young and foolish and in love, something he’s been running from ever since.

namjoon looks at him. ‘it still is.’

‘love songs don’t have substance,’ yoongi tells him, meaning the opposite, knowing they hold more meaning than anything, knowing he’s just angry about the past with no way of fixing it. there are still things he runs from. ‘they’re sappy and dumb.’

namjoon looks at him for a long time.

‘being sappy isn’t always a bad thing,’ he says. ‘it means you’re letting people in.’

yoongi shrugs. namjoon huffs out a laugh, turning until his and yoongi’s knees knock together.

‘you’ve written a love song and i think it’s beautiful,’ namjoon says, grabbing at yoongi’s hand. ‘and nothing you write ever lacks substance, okay?’

yoongi nods, feeling himself smile. it continues well into the night when he and namjoon make dinner, when they invite jin over, when namjoon hums yoongi’s melody under his breath for the rest of the night without realising it.

 

 

things are different to how they were.

there’s the beginning and there’s now. now is hoseok, bright and giddy and taking up every room, head tipped back, hair shining. hoseok, sliding into the unoccupied seat at yoongi’s table for as long as seokjin won’t catch him, talking about whatever he wants to talk about, yoongi always listening. hoseok, embodying the word bright whether or not he tries.

which is why yoongi’s not very surprised to hear his name called in the middle of the street and to see hoseok when he turns around. yoongi left the bakery a couple minutes ago and here’s hoseok, sweaty and tired and breathing heavy.

'hyung,’ he calls out, and yoongi stops. sees hoseok grinning at him from a couple steps away, holding a box.

yoongi approaches him, hands in his pockets. he notes the mint green shirt, the dash of flour on hoseok’s forehead, the burnmark on the back of his hand. the box in his hands.

'i heard you finished a song,’ hoseok says, shaking out his hair. the purple has long since faded, the section dyed a shade of brown that almost matches the rest of hoseok’s head.

'who said that?’

'namjoon.’

'of course.’

'it’s been a long time coming, which means you deserve something to celebrate, so.’ he moves closer, holding out the box. yoongi takes it, looking down at it, and that’s when he sees—

'muffins?’

hoseok nods. 'muffins, donuts, apple strudels. congratulations, and all that.’

yoongi smiles, too wide. his stomach does an unsuspected flip at the softness in his voice. 'thanks, hoseok.’

'no problem, hyung.’

they’re closer than yoongi thought. close enough that he could reach out and grab hoseok’s hand, if he dared. close enough to pretend they’re the only ones in the street.

hoseok looks really nice today. flour on his cheek and all. yoongi tells him so and hoseok chokes, sputters, looking down at the ground.

'i gotta go clean up,’ he says, ears turning red. 'i kinda…ran, from the bakery.’

yoongi laughs and hoseok copies him, a little bit breathless. they both take a hesitant step back, reluctant to leave. yoongi speaks first. ‘see you around?’

hoseok watches him. his smile is all comfort. 'seeya, hyung.’

yoongi ends up waiting until hoseok disappears around the corner, wishing he’d said something more , not sure what. namjoon cheers when he gets home with the box and calls dibs on the cherry bakewells, congratulating yoongi again, hugging him tight, disappearing into his room. yoongi makes a home on the sofa with a plate of apple strudels, the box discarded in the fridge, and the night may be cold but yoongi’s warm all over.

 

yoongi wakes up with a plan.

that plan has him texting hoseok when he’s already halfway across town, running to see him again, arriving at the magic shop out of breath. hoseok’s behind the counter even though taehyung’s right next to him.

(yoongi thinks of hoseok waiting to see him and feels a little bit tipsy.)

‘hey,’ yoongi says, hands on the countertop.

‘hi,’ hoseok says, biting his lip, grinning and trying to hide it.

yoongi drums a little pattern into the granite. ‘can we go somewhere?’

it only takes a second for hoseok to physically brighten, reaching for yoongi’s hand and pulling him back behind the counter, palms pressed together, close and so, so warm. he gets dragged through the kitchen until hoseok’s opening the backdoor. it leads to a little cobblestone alleyway, street thin, walls filled with graffiti. there’s nobody in sight.

he drops down onto the steps and pulls yoongi with him. their knees brush when they move and they end up leaning against opposite walls, legs intertwined.

‘what’s on your mind?’ hoseok asks, and he wiggles his shoulders in this cute little way that yoongi can’t help but laugh at, feeling affection like ice water thrown over him.

(god, he’s beautiful.)

‘i have something to show you,’ yoongi tells him, and hoseok looks confused until yoongi reaches into his pocket. ‘or rather, uh.’

he holds up his earphones.

hoseok brightens. ‘finally.’

yoongi laughs, kicking at hoseok’s ankle. ‘i’ve only shown one person so far—’

‘and now i get to hear it, which makes me feel super important.’ he scoots forward, putting in the earbuds. ‘c’mon, gimme.’

yoongi presses play, and then he just…waits. looks around the alleyway that he’s somehow never been down, the graffiti on the walls he tries to read. his eyes land on hoseok where he sits in concentration, fingers tapping a melody against his thigh, sunsoaked and beautiful.

he looks up after a while, taking out the earphones and curling them around his palm.  

yoongi breathes out. ‘so.’

‘so.’

‘what d’you think?’

yoongi waits.

‘it’s pretty,’ is what hoseok says, and he hugs yoongi with an arm around his waist and his knees tucked underneath him, everything a little awkward and so lovely. yoongi startles before leaning into it, pressing into hoseok’s shoulder, body turning to jelly. ‘it’s so pretty, hyung, how do you sit down and make stuff like this?’

‘dunno,’ hoseok murmurs, and his shrug is a little bit squashed but he’s sure hoseok felt it. ‘just happens sometimes. if i’m lucky.’

‘i think it’s a little more than luck,’ hoseok murmurs, warmth and weight disappearing to look at yoongi again. he tips his head down at the phone in his lap. ‘can you send me this? since, y’know, you have my number now.’

yoongi’s smile goes wide and gummy, then. ‘i do.’

‘you should use it, sometimes,’ hoseok tells him, voice a little low and a little bit strange, nudging at yoongi’s ankle.

‘maybe i will,’ yoongi says, and it feels a whole lot like flirting until yoongi determines it one-sided. he doesn’t really know how to follow up, but hoseok’s watching him like he’s the centre of some kind of universe and yoongi’s happier than he’s been in so long, the sun on his back and in his hair.

hoseok keeps his hold on yoongi’s side, fingers a little curled, heat spreading like a fever. maybe he just forgot it was there.

(maybe hoseok chose to keep holding him like that. maybe he wants to be as close to yoongi as he’s allowed, in the same way that yoongi’s touches always linger too long and too uncertain, testing the waters and willing to drown. but he doesn’t wanna think about that now.)

someone’s got to break the moment—because if not, yoongi’s going to say things he hasn’t got the words for. he moves to slap at hoseok’s shoulder, teasing, knocking him out of whatever trance he’s in. ‘go back to work, you freeloader.’

‘freeloa— i’m not— i practically run this place! there’d be no business without me!’ hoseok says, very loud and very offended but yoongi’s laughing, giddy and half-hidden as he drags hoseok to his feet, pushing him back towards the kitchen. ‘go ask taehyungie to bake some banana bread and see what you’d end up selling—’

the backdoor shuts just as the one ahead of them opens and jin pokes his head in, eyebrows furrowed. when he spots them—which isn’t hard, not with the way yoongi’s laugh is loud and hoseok’s whining is even louder—his mood changes immediately.

voice a little teasing, smile a little more noticable, jin looks hoseok up and down and groans. ‘aw no, yoongi, what’d you do?’

‘i think i set him off,’ yoongi hums, and drops his hands onto hoseok’s shoulders. taehyung comes running in, bumping into jin and grabbing onto his waist to stay upright.

‘i heard my name,’ he starts. ‘what happened to hoseok hyung?’

yoongi grins. ‘he wants you to try make some banana bread—’

‘i do not!’

 

 

it keeps happening—this inspiration, flashes of memories that don’t bite yoongi to his bones. if they don’t hurt too much he can write about them—if they’re about the future, he can’t make himself stop. if they’re about the future he writes about hope, the way he can feel it, ever-present like something he can reach out and touch.

he wouldn’t admit it, but he’s always been a bit of an optimist.

the other’s have all gone out somewhere. dinner, he thinks, and yoongi rejected with a smile and six boys gripping him tight around the waist. namjoon’s worried eyes followed him where he hurried back into his bedroom. jimin pouted, hands settled on yoongi’s hips, trying to bribe him with bulgogi and karaoke and the seat hoseok’s saving for him in the car outside. he hesitates just enough to make jimin greedy.

‘i gotta do some work,’ yoongi ends up telling them, and then jin’s here, sticking his head in the door and frowning.

‘you always work, hyung,’ jimin pouts, and yoongi knows. they eventually leave anyway, not without promises of bringing yoongi home some kind of dinner and stories of the bar they make it to, telling him the night won’t be the same.

he feels something, regret or longing, as soon as they’re gone. they might come back tonight or they might not, and now yoongi’s been writing for hours, and he just needs somebody to talk to.

the solution’s simple, really. he manoeuvres around the guilt.

 

yoongi [20:47]
i wrote a song
i don’t know who it’s about
how’s everyone?

 

he wanders around the house, tidying the living room, doing namjoon’s laundry, cleaning the fridge. he thinks of the songs he should be selling and the money he ought to earn but goes back to washing dishes instead. his phone ends up abandoned on the counter and too much time’s passed when he remembers it.

 

hoseok [20:51]
this bulgogi’s so good hyung
namjoon’s buying some food to bring home for u
but anyway. this song
who comes to mind when you listen to it?

yoongi [21:23]
i dont know

 

(that’s a lie.)

 

yoongi [21:25]
i don’t want it to be about anyone, really

hoseok [21:25]
why not?

 

yoongi thinks of hoseok, thinks of his laugh and his smile and his warm, warm, hands, yoongi’s own personal fever. he thinks of hoseok and thinks of a boy on a bus who isn’t hoseok, a boy who will never come close, a boy who taints yoongi’s memory and the pale pink skin yoongi’s forgotten how to touch. he thinks of how things always repeat themselves.

 

yoongi [21:36]
bad things happened
bad things always happen, seokie
im scared theyll happen again

 

yoongi collapses into bed. he still feels a little bit dirty despite the freshly cleaned room . his phone falls somewhere between the carpet and the chair and that’s how he misses them:

 

hoseok [21:44]
what kinda bad things?
hyung?

 

 

the noise starts before yoongi’s awake; in his dream he’s swimming, the sea blue and the sky full of glitter, people with blurry faces laughing and pulling him close. toward the end he gets pulled under, feels his breath lodged in his throat, sounds all around him, and when he resurfaces it’s his bedroom he sees. it’s a phone he hears, ringing.

he reaches around the dresser and doesn’t find it. his fingers eventually catch on his popsocket when his arm falls to the floor and he lifts the phone to his ear. maybe his ear. could be anywhere, he supposes, with the way he might still be sleeping. definitely feels like it.

‘yoongi hyung?’ he hears, the voice nearly lost behind thumping bass, but yoongi recognises it without a second thought.

‘’s me,’ he slurs, eyes sore with sleep, mouth moving in languid rhythm. he turns over in bed, sinking in the pillow, curled up small. ‘’seokie?’

yoongi hears voices behind hoseok’s; maybe namjoon shouting, maybe jimin’s murmured lovebird, maybe jin’s giddy laughter.

‘are you okay?’ hoseok asks, out of the blue, and yoongi stretches out his legs, feels his body ache.

‘mm,’ yoongi whispers, throat tight and tongue heavy. he tries again. ‘i’m good.’

‘that’s good, that’s—’ and he gets cut off by something, maybe a glass breaking or some shouting, the sound getting distorted.

‘need somethin’?’ yoongi says, and the words all run into each other, a little jumbled and unfinished. hoseok laughs down the line.

‘no, hyung, it’s okay,’ hoseok tells him, and someone—maybe jungkook—shouts i love you! down the line. ‘you can go back to bed.’

yoongi hums. hoseok ends the call for him and yoongi falls asleep like that, curled up small and unbelievably young, phone slipping from his pillow to hit the floor with a thud. he doesn’t notice when namjoon and jungkook come back, when jungkook decides he’s staying over, when namjoon curls a hand into yoongi’s hair and jungkook crawls into bed next to him, pressing into his stomach. he wakes up early, pressed between them, and goes back to sleep.

 

 

‘how’s hoseok hyung?’ jimin asks from yoongi’s lap, voice muffled in yoongi’s shirt, a movie they don’t care about turned down low.

‘he’s good,’ yoongi tells him.

jimin catches fabric between his fingers. ‘good?’

yoongi hesitates. ‘i like him. he’s nice.’

jimin giggles. yoongi doesn’t overthink it.

 

 

it’s a few days later, and sometimes yoongi dreams of the things he’d rather forget. sometimes he finds himself back where it all started, a bus and a notebook and a beautiful boy, pouring himself into the pages of a book he’d never want back. sometimes he walks down hallways that keep going, ones that run out of classroom doors but never run out of students, spit flying and hands pulling at him, burning him where he’s touched. sometimes he’s back on the ground during a fight except namjoon doesn’t save him and he just feels everything in him breaking, bones cracked, skin peeling.

sometimes he dreams about the bedroom he left behind. the bed he stopped sleeping in. the way love can turn into disgust so, so quickly.

sometimes he dreams about his parents, the walk to namjoon’s house before dawn and the amount of times he cried, all dark streets and a darker sky. the way namjoon didn’t answer the first call so he slept next to the back door but didn’t sleep much at all. the way namjoon called him back the next morning and heard yoongi’s ringtone from his window.

yoongi dreams about the past and wakes up shaking.

namjoon finds him on the balcony. yoongi’s piled in his duvet where he dragged it out with him, fingers trembling where he tries to keep himself occupied. he knows he looks small and scared and awful right now. sleep left him completely after he first woke up, and now he waits for the panic to subside.

he allows himself to be like this in front of namjoon, but it’s just the quiet kind of panic. the roll in his stomach that’s easier to hide when nobody expects him to speak. and namjoon, right now, won’t expect anything of him.

(maybe trying to write about the exact things that scare yoongi is a bad idea. maybe he should just leave them be. he gets scared the same way every time.

his writing always stutters when he tries putting down the details, names and times of day. he’ll try write out the conversations he’s going to remember for the rest of his life and make holes in the paper where he presses down too hard.

there’s no point in writing about the past. there’s no use to it. he’s just gotta keep running from it and he’ll be okay, right? he has his friends, he has words he allows himself to speak, he has things he can think about without everything going a little fuzzy, without realising he's always living a lie—)

namjoon reaches for his hands, folds them around a tall glass of hot chocolate that hadn’t been there before. he’s sitting down now, tucking himself under the duvet, a small space between them.

the sunrise is beautiful, this morning. the warmth of the glass is nice, and namjoon next to him is nicer. they’ve done this so many times.

‘hey, joonie?’ yoongi murmurs, voice croaky. the nickname makes him feel like a child where he used to whisper it underneath the blankets, but there’s comfort in it too.

‘yeah, hyung?’

‘i think—’ namjoon’s still looking out at the sky, always the listening ear, never watching for the mistakes yoongi makes. ‘i think i loved you once.’

‘yeah?’ namjoon murmurs, and he laughs despite the night. yoongi finds himself smiling, albeit a little distant. he’s certain of one thing: what he’d just said isn’t news to anybody. ‘i think i loved you too.’

‘we couldn’t do anything about it,’ yoongi shrugs. it’s always been a welcome weight on yoongi, the things he’d do for namjoon. the lengths he’d go to.

‘yeah, that’s right,’ namjoon says, voice soft and a little fragile, and he nudges at the bottom of yoongi’s glass. yoongi remembers it’s there, taking a sip. ‘what’s changed?’

‘nothing,’ he says. ‘i just think sometimes you can know too much about a person, yeah? then you can’t really love them anymore. it’s something different.’

‘different how?’

‘i think soulmates exist, sometimes,’ and if he were any more himself he’d laugh, but he doesn’t, and namjoon’s looking at him now, all serious. ‘maybe you can have more than one. and maybe you don’t love them—maybe what you feel is more than that.’

yoongi presses into namjoon’s arm, head dropping to his shoulder, eyes closing.

‘soulmates, huh?’ namjoon says, and laughs—but he’s not laughing at yoongi. he’s laughing like he believes it.

yoongi feels his hot chocolate being taken from him. ‘yeah.’

namjoon presses his face into yoongi’s hair. ‘do you think we would’ve ever worked things out?’

‘i think we’re pretty worked out right now,’ yoongi says. sleep pulls at him like a current and he feels safe enough to follow it. maybe namjoon drops a kiss against his crown, arm tight around him. ‘i think i like where we are.’

 

 

‘you should come over to ours for dinner tomorrow,’ yoongi says, looking over at hoseok, his hands in his pockets. the bus stop is somewhere up this road but it feels like they've been walking forever, the sun glowing soft and orange. it makes hoseok’s face look more gentle than usual, a distinct softness to it, eyes drawn up to the sky while his shoes scuff at the pavement.

(yoongi doesn’t call it a date. he doesn’t. it can’t be a date with the others around, and it wouldn’t be one anyway—)

hoseok smiles, a shy little thing. ‘why’s that?’

‘because i asked nicely.’ yoongi nudges at hoseok's shoulder. ‘plus, everyone else is going. it’ll feel weird with an empty space.’

‘you’d miss me that much, hyung?’ hoseok grins, all high-pitched and teasing. he swings around a streetlamp to walk in front of yoongi and face him, nearly tripping over a manhole and giggling for his efforts.

god, he’s cute. he’s so fucking cute. they’re walking to a bus stop, he isn’t allowed to make yoongi feel like this.

so yoongi rolls his eyes, making a wide circle to move around hoseok, pretending he isn’t there.  ‘oh, be quiet.’

hoseok just runs up beside him to lean over his shoulder, and yoongi feels his ears go warm. ‘ yeah, you’d miss me.’

‘you’re not invited anymore.’

‘don’t be rude!’ hoseok whines, literally whines, and grips at yoongi’s wrist. yoongi makes his steps a little smaller, closing the distance between them until he can feel hoseok’s chest near his back. ‘i don’t even wanna go. i bet namjoon’s cooking. you’ll all have food poisoning the next morning.’

‘we’re getting takeout, you brat,’ yoongi grumbles, ‘and jungkook-ah’s making us watch some reality show he likes. it’ll be fun.’

‘i guess,’ hoseok says, and he’s grinning.

yoongi sighs.

‘i want you there, alright?’

‘thanks, hyung,’ hoseok murmurs, and moves to grip at yoongi’s elbow, one hand trailing down to yoongi’s wrist, leaning into him again. there’s a change in atmosphere, and hoseok taps a little rhythm against yoongi’s skin. ‘it’s just— it’s just dinner, right? nothing else?’

‘uh, yeah,’ yoongi says, confused. ‘what else would it be?’

hoseok pauses. ‘hyung?’

‘yeah?’

hoseok breathes in. the bus stop’s just up ahead, and yoongi watches a bus pull in, sees the familiar route number. ‘i think i—’

shit, this is mine,’ yoongi ends up shouting, cutting hoseok off with an apologetic look his way, ‘it’s a couple minutes early.’

he misses hoseok's warmth when he hurries to the bus but slows down when he sees a dozen other people getting on ahead of him. he spins around to see hoseok sitting on the bench, hands moving slow and awkward.

‘you coming?’

hoseok shakes his head and smiles. yoongi feels himself start pouting, and hoseok laughs a little when he notices. ‘mine’s in ten minutes.’

so hoseok waits at the stop—for a bus that heads the complete opposite way that they’ve walked, but he’d said he wanted to come this way anyway so yoongi doesn’t know what to think—and yoongi’s plugging in his headphones when he hears hoseok speak.    

‘i’ll be there tomorrow,’ he says, and it’s a promise. he still looks a little…off. ‘yeah?’

‘yeah.’ yoongi smiles at him. ‘i’m glad.’

‘me too.’

 

 

(there are so many things hoseok almost said.)

 

 

namjoon slides into yoongi’s room as yoongi does up the buttons of his shirt, probably the nicest thing he owns. he watches namjoon falter in the reflection of the mirror, stopping at the door, looking yoongi up and down.

his eyebrows fly up. ‘hoseok’s coming?’

‘maybe,’ yoongi murmurs, scrunching up his nose when he struggles to fix his sleeves. he tilts his head to mess up his hair. ‘how’d you know?’

‘because you’re dressed like that and we aren’t even leaving the house.’

he really wasn’t trying to be obvious, but.

‘i told him i wanted him here,’ yoongi says. ‘that kinda did it, i think.’

namjoon looks at him. he’s smiling, trying to hide it as he steps into the room. ‘you excited?’

‘maybe.' he watches namjoon close in on him, arms winding around his waist, fingers gentle against his shirt. namjoon looks nice too—toned down, maybe, but nice. a pair of black jeans and a sweater that covers his hands, starting to slip off his shoulder.

‘kook’s gonna be here in a minute or two,’ namjoon tells him. ‘he wants to hear your song.’

‘you think he’ll like it?’ yoongi wonders aloud, not really a question he wants answered—because the fear of those closest to him not liking what he makes will always be there.

he moves over to his desk to pick out a ring or two. namjoon follows him, drops down to the edge of the bed and straightens out the duvet. ‘i think everyone’s gonna like it, hyung.’

the doorbell rings, then, and namjoon leaves to answer it. jungkook hurries inside seconds later, an arm around namjoon, his scarf loose around his neck.

he spots yoongi, meeting him with a hyung! and a quick hug where he squeezes tight at yoongi’s waist. he looks young, excited, looking down to meet yoongi’s eyes. ‘can i hear it, i won’t say anything about it to the others, please—’

‘alright, c’mon,’ yoongi says, having already decided. jungkook cheers and clutches at yoongi’s wrist. namjoon leaves with a smile and closes the door behind him. yoongi hears the bell ring again.

‘what’s it called?’ jungkook asks. yoongi pulls up a stool and nudges jungkook until he sits down, handing him headphones.

‘not sure yet.’

‘is it a love song?’

‘no.’

jungkook turns his hands over in his lap . ‘well, uh, namjoon-hyung said it was. so.’

‘fuck sake,’ yoongi mutters, and jungkook snorts. ‘alright, maybe it’s a love song. who cares, don’t fall, stop giggling, you brat—’

and jungkook loves it, just like part of yoongi knew he would, and jungkook hugs him for way longer than necessary but yoongi doesn’t mind it. he’s so used to jungkook’s natural clinginess, his constant need for touch and warmth.

(‘is it about hoseok hyung?’ jungkook asks, leaning up on the desk.

‘no.’ yoongi feels himself going red.

jungkook sidles up to him, leaning into his space, the corners of his mouth betraying his pout to curl into a grin. ‘you sure?’

‘be quiet, ’ yoongi snaps, flustered, and jungkook starts laughing when he knows he’s right.)

when they trail back into the living room, they find jin and jimin already on the sofa, taehyung on the floor. and jungkook’s grabbing at yoongi’s hand, dragging him all over the place to try and talk to everyone at the exact same time. and namjoon’s in the kitchen trying to slice something, maybe lemons for their glasses, without getting a knife stuck in the wall, but he peers out the door when jungkook gets particularly excited about jimin’s new choreography and meets yoongi with a fond little look. yoongi’s so happy he could burst.

and then the doorbell rings and, well. all eyes in the room land on yoongi, and then he’s being physically shoved into the hall.

he can hear them all laughing, jin shushing them where he hovers near the wall and tries not to be seen, shadows spreading across the floor. yoongi glances back at them: jimin gives him a thumbs up. yoongi gives him the middle finger.

he steps towards the door, definitely does not take a deep breath in, and opens it.

(is breathlessness a real thing? does it actually happen? because maybe this is what it feels like, hoseok looking beautiful and smiling bright at yoongi, not even dressed up—a t-shirt and a denim jacket and a fucking snapback— but still managing to look like every one of yoongi’s dreams coming true.)

‘hey,’ yoongi finds himself saying, even though he wants to say you’re beautiful or hold my hand or something equally embarrassing.

‘hi,’ hoseok says, and then steps over the threshold and hugs yoongi.

hugs him. fully hugs him. arms around his waist, what’s meant to be some little thing in greeting until yoongi’s hugging him back and they might be swaying, or maybe yoongi just feels a little bit faint, but when he pulls away it’s hoseok’s eyes he sees. yoongi feels like he’s being spoiled.

the others hurry out to greet him—yoongi can’t help but notice the knowing smiles, the quirked eyebrows where they look at him. they get back to the living room and hoseok settles against yoongi’s legs on the floor, yoongi in the armchair, a hand in hoseok’s hair. and jungkook keeps giving him looks, telling him to do something, but yoongi really doesn’t know how.

dinner happens, a lot of giddy laughter and stories. jungkook spills beer down the side of the sofa, collapsing across taehyung and jimin’s laps when he’s told to clean it up. namjoon leans into jin and they talk about things yoongi can’t hear. jungkook puts on a horror film and hoseok shouts until he turns it off, the rest of them forgetting to breathe with how much they’re laughing.

yoongi leaves to get everyone blankets during the night and comes back to hoseok curled into the sofa, the three youngest in a pile on the opposite one, jin grabbing at namjoon’s hand and following him to his room.

yoongi almost wakes hoseok up, almost asks him back to his room, almost says there’s plenty of space . he leaves him resting there.

except yoongi can’t sleep, which isn’t that surprising. he lies in bed for too long. it’s too cold for the balcony even though that usually wouldn’t bother him and he feels trapped in this room, the clock ticking past four, and he gets a little dizzy when he sits up.

the door’s too loud when it creaks opens. he steps on all the old, achy floorboards on the way to the kitchen. he stretches to grab a mug from the cupboard and hears footsteps, expecting namjoon, jumping when he turns and sees hoseok instead.

‘what’re you doin’?’ hoseok asks him, visibly tired. yoongi’s heart beats double-time in his chest when he sees hoseok’s heavy eyes, messy hair, puffy cheeks.

‘can’t sleep,’ yoongi murmurs, voice soft and sleep-worn, hands shaky like they always are in the early hours of the morning. ‘getting coffee.’

‘if you wanna sleep then the last thing you want is coffee,’ hoseok laughs, the same beautiful sound. yoongi hears some shuffling from the living room, a quiet sigh, but nobody stirs. yoongi’s staring at the mug he’d grabbed when hoseok reaches for him. holds out a hand. ‘c’mon.’

yoongi rubs at his eyes.

‘come on,’ hoseok whines. he grabs yoongi’s hand before he can move away. ‘there’s too many people in this house for you to sleep alone.’

he slides the mug across the counter, away from yoongi, eliminating the temptation to ignore the way hoseok’s hand is so unbearably warm. drowsiness weighs yoongi down as he gets led to his room, winding around the sofas where he almost unconsciously pulls the blanket up over taehyung’s shoulders.

‘i’m fine, hoseokie.’ he gets pulled over to the bed and drops down onto it with firm hands on his shoulders. ‘seriously.’

‘you don’t have to be all tough around me,’ hoseok tells him, means it, just as yoongi curls under the covers. hoseok moves. the duvet lifts beside him.

‘i’m tough around everyone,’ yoongi mumbles, and there’s not much space between them. an agonizing little gap. just enough to keep yoongi from saying things he shouldn’t.

hoseok huffs out a laugh that sounds like a lullaby. ‘i don’t believe that.’

yoongi wakes up that morning to a dark room and an empty bed. he dozes until the door creaks open and light cuts across the floor. a jin-shaped figure climbs onto the bed next to him, snuggling in around him before whining and poking at his sides.

‘wake up, yoongi,’ jin mumbles against his shoulder, reaching for his hand. jin drags yoongi, half-awake, into the kitchen. all the others are already there when he drops down onto a stool.

hoseok beams at him, standing over near the hob and piling pancakes on the plate, a little heart of chocolate syrup to decorate. they’re all a little tired, holding hands on the island-top and leaning into each other’s shoulders, and yoongi loves it so much he feels himself aching.

hoseok comes and sits beside him. yoongi pushes his plate between them and reaches to grab an extra fork and it’s the best morning he’s had in a while.

 

 

yoongi wonders if it’ll always feel like this—hearing your music, even though you didn’t plan to. because one minute he’s humming the tune of his song, hoseok’s song—the one he hasn’t named; he thinks about blue dream and thinks some more—and then the next it’s all he can hear, grainy where it plays from speakers he barely noticed. when he looks around he sees people actually listening, and it’s so new. so new and so good— he can feel excitement like a brick in his chest because he hasn’t shared his music publically in a long, long time, and maybe everything’s paying off now. maybe the fact that people like it, and like him in extension, is enough.

he looks up and hears laughter, sees taehyung grinning up at him where he leans on the counter, jin peering over the display case, hoseok leaning on taehyung’s shoulders. namjoon’s still in the seat across from him, watching him with a fond look in his eyes. jungkook’s got a phone in his hand and it’s probably been focused on yoongi for a while, him and jimin at a table in the opposite corner.

yoongi hears the words he wrote, and he’s out of his seat as soon as he remembers how to move.

love song, his heart reminds him, and maybe that’s why everyone’s gazes look a little softer. do they know, too? love song, love song, he’s right there and you love—

‘i never released this,’ is what he ends up saying, hurrying down the steps. ‘how did you—’

everyone slowly turns. their eyes follow hoseok where he steps out from behind the counter.

only now does yoongi remember their conversation on the back steps, hoseok’s arms around his waist.

‘free promotion,’ hoseok grins, hands out, proud of himself, and yoongi’s never felt more thankful. more loved.

so much so that he moves forward and drops his forehead to hoseok’s shoulder, a hand fluttering his waist, a muttered, ‘thank you,’ through his lips.

hoseok just laughs softly, a hand on yoongi’s back to hold him steady.

 

 

yoongi doesn’t sleep tonight, but that’s not altogether unusual. and it’s not that he can’t sleep—he chooses not to . there’s more important things to do.

he holds namjoon’s hand atop the rug, sitting on the floor, pen trembling in his hand. and tonight he writes about all the things he’s never written about. all the things he won’t think about. the things that make namjoon hold him and whisper: take your time, and we have all night, and i’m proud of you.

yoongi had been planning to do this alone. he’s been working himself up to it for a long, long time. but namjoon knows that when yoongi writes, he puts his whole self in it: he writes raw, rough, painful. and there’s no way in hell that namjoon would let him go through that alone, shivering in the living room while namjoon sleeps.

and yoongi writes a lot of useless things tonight, a lot of plain venting, a lot of it unpretty and clunky in his mouth but he lets namjoon read it anyway. eventually he gets a song, a melody namjoon helped with, not because he needed the help but because he wanted it.

namjoon’s got a job interview in some restaurant halfway across the city at noon because they both know music won’t get them everywhere as much as they try, and yoongi keeps telling him to sleep and he keeps saying no. they record a rough draft to work on the next day when they’re a bit more lucid, yoongi’s keyboard loud and namjoon’s guitar soft, voices softer, weaker, ready for sleep.

they fall asleep together on the sofas, and namjoon’s already gone when yoongi gets up. he comes back with part-time hours starting the week after and yoongi approaches him with some music sheets.

 

 

one-five-four?’ namjoon says, looking at the page.

‘it was the—’ yoongi clears his throat. ‘the bus route. yeah.’

namjoon smiles at him. they get to work.

 

 

they’re all out today. the same bridge he and jungkook always visit and the seven of them are huddled in the valley beneath it, curling their hands into the chainlink barrier or stretching out on the grass. jungkook’s head is on jimin’s shoulder and jimin’s curled up on taehyung’s stomach where they’re all lying down; namjoon’s got a book in his hand, jin with an arm around him where he leans on namjoon’s shoulder to read along.

hoseok’s on yoongi’s right side, head in his lap. small and gentle and sleepy. every once in a while, he’ll open his eyes to meet yoongi’s and smile. maybe to make sure yoongi’s there. maybe to see if yoongi will smile back (and he always, always does).

yoongi’s phone rings. his bag’s up by jimin so he’s not too fussed about answering until jungkook stands and gets it for him. he answers with one hand in hoseok’s hair.

‘min yoongi?’ a voice asks, unfamiliar and loud, and yoongi hums.

he couldn’t remember what was said in the call if you asked him. he just remembers freezing up all at once, jungkook and hoseok tugging at his sleeves and asking him what’s wrong, and when the call ends he looks up to see all the people he loves in a circle around him, dripping concern.

(this is how he gets his first gig. this is how he listens to the voice telling him that he heard yoongi’s song in a bakery he frequents, asked who wrote the song, found out they’re local—found out it’s yoongi.)

he laughs, because he doesn’t know what else to do. because he’s thinking of how he’s going to get paid and he’ll be playing his music in front of a crowd that wants to listen. he’s finally gotten back to the push-and-pull of songwriting, and so many things are happening and he’s happy.

‘i booked a gig,’ he says, all disbelieving laughter and wide eyes. it takes a moment for it to sink in for everyone but then there’s cheers, uproar, lots and lots of shouting, and when hoseok hugs him it’s a full-bodied thing, and he’s climbing into yoongi’s lap for it. they end up skipping their movie and going out for dinner instead, getting a little bit tipsy on wine, walking home hopeful, feeling so, so young. they pile into yoongi and namjoon’s apartment because it’s the closest, sleeping on sofas and floors and sneaking into beds.

the arrangement in yoongi’s room goes a little something like this: himself nearest the door, then jungkook, and then hoseok, oceans away.

when yoongi wakes up from a dreamless sleep it’s earlier than he expected. he’s facing jungkook, an arm thrown over his waist, jungkook curling into his shirt. on the other side hoseok grips at his hand, gentle fingertips pressing into skin. the next time yoongi wakes, the touch is gone.

 

 

yoongi hasn’t been in a club in a while. this one, it seems, is a little more sophisticated than the ones he used to work for. it’s more of a lounge than a party scene, deep yellow lamps and sofas and a chandelier. they’ve pushed back the seats for tonight, rigged up the lights, a single microphone on the stage and a piano waiting in the wings.

yoongi’s nervous as hell, but here he is. he can’t really back out of this, not when he’s due on stage in fifteen minutes and the bar’s already full of people.

everyone showed up today, all six—they stayed with yoongi earlier in the day but he wouldn’t let them into the dress rehearsal, not wanting them to hear everything twice. they’re somewhere nearby, somewhere front row.

he looks nice. he’s got it all worked out. everything’s gonna be fine.

he doesn’t expect a knock on the door. he doesn’t expect hoseok to be standing there—but he’s not entirely surprised, either.

‘hey,’ yoongi says.

‘hi,’ hoseok grins, and lets himself inside. the dressing room door—or rather, the door of a spare room tucked into the end corridor—closes with a thunk. ‘you okay?’

yoongi considers lying.

‘it’s been a while,’ he starts, and runs a hand through his hair, eyes caught in the mirror, ‘since i’ve done this. a couple years, actually.’

hoseok nods and moves, a hand on yoongi’s shoulder. his fingers tap a rhythm there, consistent.

‘i’m nervous, i guess,’ he admits.

‘you’re allowed to be,’ hoseok tells him. ‘just look for us, okay? look at me if you need to, but you’ll be fine.’

‘d’you think—’ and he reaches for his water bottle, nearly spills some down the front of his shirt before continuing— ‘d’you think this is the start of something?’

hoseok’s eyes flicker up to his. he curls his hand around the back of yoongi’s neck, suddenly closer. ‘i think so.’   

yoongi wants to kiss him.

he doesn’t—someone from the bar with shaved hair and a kind smile comes in to say it’s go-time, about to shoo hoseok from the room until he sees their proximity, and he either thinks nothing or everything of it. he throws his thumbs up to nobody in particular, murmurs, ‘good luck,’ and closes the door again.

‘ready?’ hoseok asks, moreso telling him you are, moreso letting the hand wandering up and down yoongi’s spine do the talking, all gentle pinprick movements.

and then hoseok’s closer, nearly part of him, and then his nose is bumping against yoongi’s jaw and he’s pressing a close-mouthed kiss to yoongi’s cheek, there and gone. yoongi doesn’t get much time to look up, eyes wide and face reddening.

‘good luck,’ hoseok murmurs, sounding giddy and nervous and childish, and he disappears outside.

yoongi’s late getting onstage, eight o’clock ticking past while he watches the mirror and thinks about how hoseok’s lips are just as soft as the rest of him. he stumbles on with foundation that doesn’t cover the still-red tips of his ears or his smile when he catches hoseok’s eyes in the crowd.

this is the difficult part, now. this is his truth.

‘this is called one-five-four,’ he says, and the lights go down.

(‘is this about—’

‘yeah.’ yoongi shifts on the sofa, uncomfortable. the name at the top of the page is all too familiar, and he hasn’t written it in years. ‘yeah.’

‘i’m gonna play it live,’ yoongi says, and namjoon holds his hand tighter.)

 

 

yoongi gets another gig, next saturday. a couple more line up after that, clubs and bars and mini-concerts for ten or twenty people in well-lit attics, but this is what a reputation feels like, and the pay ends up good. inspiration comes at him from every corner. he sees hoseok almost every day.

he’s got two this week, back-to-back, his setlist gradually growing longer and songs getting cut off. a friday and a saturday, and everyone comes to support him every time. jungkook tells him how well he did and namjoon hugs him and taehyung tells him he looks pretty with his hair like that, and when hoseok curls an arm around his waist, yoongi almost asks him.

almost says why did you kiss me?

almost says do it again.

 

 

hoseok holds his hand when they walk home and yoongi can’t speak. one minute they’re shoulder-to-shoulder and the next hoseok is sliding his fingers between yoongi’s and humming a tune yoongi doesn’t recognise.

yoongi won’t dare look at him, won’t look anywhere but straight ahead. when hoseok starts talking about jimin’s new choreography and the rude customers from the early morning, he almost asks why he’s willing to talk about anything but this:

the connection they seem to have. the memory of hoseok’s lips. the clammy warmth of his palms. all the things yoongi wants to say.

 

 

‘i really like you,’ hoseok says, a little bit tipsy and giggling against the rim of his glass, heavy and warm at yoongi’s side. there’s too much noise around them and too many people dancing and falling in love, and yoongi wants to be one of them.

yoongi, on his very own path to inebriation, blinks up at hoseok through his lashes. ‘what d’you mean, ‘seokie?’

‘dunno,’ hoseok says, and sways, and kisses yoongi’s cheek.

 

 

‘i think there’s something going on,’ yoongi murmurs, passing jimin a plate of whatever he managed to cook, hungover and a little dizzy. he drops down into his seat and acts like he never said anything.

‘there’s always been something going on, hyung,’ jimin tells him, giving him a look. yoongi pouts. ‘hoseok hyung, right?’

yoongi meets his eyes. ‘i don’t know what to do about him.’

‘you’ll figure it out,’ yoongi says, but yoongi’s not so sure.

 

 

yoongi can’t think of hoseok without thinking of before. it’s a problem.

 

 

something felt off about saturday from the start.

they all gathered around yoongi and told him it was fine, told him to ignore the people—and there were so many people —and focus on the six of them. they said there’s nothing wrong with ducking away from the lights and the sweat and the hundreds of prying eyes.

capacity of five-hundred, he was told. people had to be turned away, they added. you’re getting popular, the manager said with a grin and a nudge.

pressed up to a wall, his head aching, he feels himself start to regret that fact.

(he thought he’d seen someone familiar near the back.)

‘what the fuck,’ the boy growls, hands fisting in yoongi’s collar, looming above him like he always did, ‘do you think you’re doing?’

‘hey, jayin,’ yoongi murmurs, hoarse and choking on a name he hasn’t said in a very long time. yoongi gets pulled forward by his jacket, thrown back where he came from. he keeps his head forward so he doesn’t hit it again, legs shaking.

‘you can’t write about me,’ he tells yoongi, bitter, nails digging near yoongi’s collarbones. it’s too familiar.

‘i didn’t.’

‘you wrote a shitty fucking song about me,’ jayin says, because it’s true and yoongi can’t run from it. he moves until yoongi can smell the alcohol on his breath and the smoke on his clothes, but yoongi doesn’t blame this on any kind of drink. ‘you keep playing it, you can’t do that—’

yoongi shoves back at him, not hard enough to make a difference. ‘it’s just a fucking song. nobody’s going to look into it.’

‘don’t play it again,’ he tells yoongi, forces the words against him, ducking down to meet his eyes.

‘get your hands off me,’ yoongi snaps. his hands catch on jayin’s wrist.

yoongi can feel hard brick against his back where jayin shoves at him, spitting fury. ‘promise me—’

‘get your fucking hands off me, ’ yoongi shouts, and he pushes at jayin until he’s stumbling backwards. there’s still anger in his eyes and yoongi can feel himself breathing quick, panicking.

(the moon’s making the alley too dark. nobody knows they’re here. nobody cares what either of them have done.)

‘promise me,’ jayin says, and he’d be pleading if he wasn’t so angry. his hand shakes where he’s pointing a finger to yoongi’s chest, spit flying, hair wet against his forehead with sweat.

yoongi kind of wants to cry. he won’t. jayin takes his silence as his word and starts to walk away.

‘you ruined my life,’ yoongi tells him, spits the words at jayin’s back. ‘you get that, yeah? you fucking ruined it.’

jayin’s slow to turn around. yoongi can’t help but notice how familiar the situation is.

(he used to want jayin closer because he loved him. the difference now is that yoongi wants to break his jaw.)

‘how many people know?’ he asks, and yoongi knows what he means. he laughs, throwing out a hand toward the back door. ‘do your friends know? the people who listen to you? you can wait as long as you want, but they’re all gonna think the same thing.’

everyone hates you, he used to tell yoongi. they’re always going to.

‘i didn’t ruin shit, yoongi,’ he says. ‘you’re doing that yourself.’

(jimin finds him alone a couple minutes later, concerned, holding yoongi’s hands and looking at the grazes. yoongi tells him nothing happened, and they all go along with it despite knowing he’s lying.

jimin notes the faraway look in his eyes and packs yoongi’s equipment into jin’s car, grabbing at his hands, curling into him on the ride home. hoseok’s eyes linger on him for too long and he falls asleep with his head on yoongi’s shoulder. it burns a little but yoongi doesn’t mind it. he wants to feel it over and over, hoseok’s lips parted and his breath ghosting over yoongi’s skin.

jin takes hoseok back home with him, hasn’t got the heart to wake him up where he rolled away from yoongi, breathing deep against the window. taehyung goes with them, kisses jimin and jungkook on the cheek and then the jaw to say goodbye. jungkook’s asleep in namjoon’s lap in the front seat and namjoon carries him inside as the car drives off.

jimin piles into yoongi’s bed with him. namjoon gives jungkook his bed but only minutes later there’s a knock on yoongi’s door. jungkook looks too small in namjoon’s too-big t-shirt, wiping at his eyes, sounding drowsy. ‘where’s hyung?’

‘sofa,’ yoongi whispers, frowning when jimin shifts next to him, awake. jungkook leaves the door open when he trails away, waking namjoon with a touch to his hair and a few whispered words, grabbing his hand and pulling him up.

yoongi never knew when his bed grew big enough to fit four boys but he doesn’t mind it. he turns away from jimin, feels a hand on his waist, watches namjoon doze with jungkook hidden behind him. the hand on his waist dips underneath his shirt.

‘your back’s all red, hyung,’ jimin whispers, too loud, hoping the others hear him.

‘i didn’t notice,’ yoongi murmurs, and he pulls away on instinct. the touch follows him. ‘go to sleep, jiminie.’

‘we know something’s wrong,’ jungkook tells him. namjoon sits up beside yoongi on the bed and yoongi wishes they didn’t know how to read him.

‘i’m okay, kook-ah,’ yoongi promises, wishing he meant it. he pushes namjoon back down into the pillows and drapes an arm over his hip. jungkook catches at yoongi’s hand and twirls off the rings he forgot about. ‘yeah? i’m okay.’)

 

 

he’s asked for a setlist for next thursday night. 154 is the last song he plays.

 

 

‘who are you?’ the boy at the door had asked, school books tucked under his arm, cardigan much too big for him.

‘uh— yoongi?’ yoongi said, didn’t know why he was letting this kid (who couldn’t have been older than fourteen and that was a stretch) know his name. didn’t know why the kid was walking inside and yoongi wasn’t stopping him.

‘nice to meet you, yoongi-ssi,’ he said, and gives yoongi a smile. ‘where’s namjoon hyung?’

he walked over to the sofa that yoongi had been pretending to sleep on for three weeks, dropping his books down onto the table with a thud.

‘upstairs,’ yoongi said, eyebrows still furrowed where the kid was now wandering into the kitchen like he lived here, opening the fridge, taking out the apple juice.

and yoongi couldn’t say much—he’d been staying here for three weeks, still a pretty unwelcome presence every morning when namjoon’s father found him listening to music on the back steps and watching the sun rise. still annoyed everyone when they asked him to go back to his parents and he said no. still gained their sympathy every time namjoon’s mother called yoongi’s mother and she said he’s not my son anymore.

and, well— that solved that. so he slept in namjoon’s room and pretended to sleep on the sofa and made everyone breakfast in the mornings and vacuumed the hall so maybe he was trying to earn his keep. but he’d never seen this person before.

‘kid, does namjoon know you? because i thought i would’ve met—’

‘did you let jungkook in, hyung?’ namjoon shouted from the top of the stairs, and yoongi looked the kid up and down: jungkook. okay.

‘i let someone in, anyway.’

‘this is jungkookie. he’s our neighbour,’ namjoon said, and pointed out the window to a house directly across the street. he had some books in his hands too, and what was this, a study session? ‘and this is my best friend, yoongi-hyung.’

yoongi nodded at jungkook, whispered call me hyung, then . jungkook nodded back.

‘i tutor him sometimes,’ namjoon said, and dropped down on the sofa. yoongi felt awkward where he stood near the doorway, like he was intruding on something that had been happening long before he messed everything up. ‘smartest kid you’ll ever meet if he can put his mind to it.’

yoongi hummed. didn’t move until namjoon looked back at him and pointed to the empty armchair.

they didn’t do much studying. they talked about the boy jungkook liked in his class and yoongi froze up until namjoon changed the subject, talked about their music, and somehow yoongi got coaxed into playing his keyboard while jungkook sang. they opened their books on random pages when namjoon’s parents got home and yoongi made pasta for dinner—it’s all they had left in the house, really, but yoongi didn’t have the right to mention it—and jungkook stayed the night in the living room.

‘nice kid,’ yoongi murmured, hidden under namjoon’s blankets with a plushie pulled close to his chest. namjoon hummed.   

 

 

yoongi didn’t start this one. he didn’t finish it, either.

he’ll tell namjoon that when the time comes. but as he wipes the blood away from his mouth and feels everything in him screech with pain as he tries—fails—to stand, stumbling into the wall and breathing hard against it, he thinks that maybe finishing it wouldn’t have been so bad.

(this club’s new, it’s expensive, and yoongi’s out of place both on the floor and the stage. the whole thing went off without a hitch and there was a crowd of scouting agents and excited fans forming around his table when yoongi felt claustrophobia like a wave over him. he told all the people he didn’t know that he needed some fresh air, s’all.

he didn’t grab a coat and he remembered so just as the door swung shut, just as the first punch landed. hard and blistering near his jaw, and he startled to the ground.

‘i fucking told you, min yoongi,’ and a kick, swift and near his ribs. he curls in on himself on instinct, thinking we’ve been here before, ‘i told you not to play that fucking song!’

and then hands near his collar, fingers digging into his neck and trailing up his jaw. a few more punches leave him shaking. maybe he hears some slurs, some words he’d stopped thinking about. maybe his nose starts bleeding, maybe his eyes hurt like hell, maybe he’s screaming or crying or just waiting for it to stop.

a knee pressing down on his stomach makes him whine, feeling like he might throw up all the cheap whiskey he was offered and barely drank. he feels nails scratching up and down his arms, and that’s pain he can deal with.

‘say sorry,’ jayin orders, growling at yoongi’s silence, grabbing him by the shoulders to pick him up and throw him back down. yoongi’s hair feels wet; maybe it’s blood, maybe it’s puddle water. ‘ say it!’

‘sorry,’ yoongi mumbles, the word drawn out by the parts of him that are still so young and so, so terrified. bile seems to bubble in his throat, lungs overworking themselves, face numb, blood on the tarmac. ‘i’m fucking sorry—’)

he feels like he might throw up, nerves and pain mixing a pretty little cocktail in his stomach. he just keeps breathing. in and out, in and out, and he reaches for his phone like a reflex, thinks about calling someone—calling hoseok, he wants hoseok, needs—

and then he remembers that they’ve all gone home now. remembers telling them to, remembers saying there were people he needed to meet. remembers them piling into a taxi with slurred goodbyes and hoseok’s lips back on his cheek, gentle and nervous, butterflies all over again.

he curls his hands into fists and they shake with the strain of holding his entire body up. the blood tastes wrong when it trickles to his lips. it tastes different than he remembers.

he kind of wants to pass out. he pushes away from the wall instead, feet dragging over to the door, stepping back inside. he grabs water from his room and spills half of it, pulls a hoodie on and ignores his body protesting at the movement. a mess of mud and gravel and blood stains the collar.

he’s so fucking tired. everything hurts. he feels like he’s outside himself, like he’s daydreaming, even as he pulls his hood up and makes his way back through the people dancing, head pounding to the music.

he finds the manager at his now-empty table, and if yoongi made himself look up the older man would be smiling. yoongi slumps forward with one arm around his stomach, another out and waiting.

‘you did well, kid,’ the man shouts above the music, right near yoongi’s ear, and yoongi winces. he feels money pressed into his hand and he curls his fingers around it, a couple notes falling when he stuffs it into his pockets. he trips over his own sluggish feet when he turns to leave and a hand grips his wrist.

‘hey, you okay?’ the owner asks him, and his eyes go wide when he tips yoongi’s chin up.

yoongi doesn’t even want to know what he looks like. he really just wants to sleep.

‘yeah,’ he says, and his voice sounds wrong, warbled and unlike him. ‘people don’ like what i say.’

‘that’s how you know you’re making it,’ the owner laughs, and yoongi feels lightheaded. more notes are pressed into his palm. ‘i’ll call you a taxi, yeah?’

yoongi wipes blood from his nose. ‘thanks.’

he gets a pat on the shoulder, trying not to wince. ‘get home safe, kiddo.’

yoongi’s legs carry him across the bar without much conscious thought, out the main door, into the taxi that’s waiting. he rattles off his address and sinks into the backseat. he mumbles some kind of thanks to the driver when they arrive, aiming the money for his open hand through the window and dropping it all in his lap.

‘one too many, yeah?’ the driver asks, laughing, and yoongi nods. or maybe he doesn’t. his head just really fucking hurts.

he drags himself into the lobby, almost crawling up the stairs, fumbling with his keys in the lock.

it’s only when he steps inside, leaning back against the door, that he realises he didn’t think any of this through.

jungkook, jimin and taehyung are all hanging off the sofas in wildly different positions, arms dangling and feet tangled together, fast asleep. namjoon’s bedroom door is cracked open and yoongi can see his sleeping figure, hear his gentle snores, watches his hands where they lie still over his chest.

yoongi doesn’t know what to do. he’s hurting. and he’s scared. he’s fucking terrified.

he moves towards namjoon’s open door like it’s a reflex.

part of yoongi wants to crawl into bed next to him and forget about the pain he’s in, leave all that worrying until the morning. part of him wants to go back into the sitting room and hold jungkook’s hand until they wake up.

he’s not a kid anymore, he knows. he may be the oldest in the house but right now he feels so small and young and awful.

‘joonie,’ he breathes out. it’s barely a whisper but namjoon’s always been a light sleeper when it comes to him, groaning when he starts to move, shaking the hair out of his eyes. yoongi’s gripping at the door—he tries to wipe the blood off his face but there’s some on his hands too, and his hair is plastered against his forehead when he chokes back a sob— ‘joon-ah.’

namjoon sits up on the bed. sleepy eyes focus on yoongi for a moment in the dark, and then another, and then—

‘holy fuck,’ he says, voice shaking, and he clambers out of the bed like it’s on fire. his hands run over all the parts of yoongi’s body that he can’t feel, swaying where he stands. namjoon’s breathing is ragged and familiar and panicky and yoongi can’t find the words to reassure him with .

‘shit, yoongi, shit, why the fuck didn’t you call me,’ namjoon’s muttering, barely-there sentences interlaced with curses. there’s still a little slur to his voice but he still grips at yoongi like he’s going to disappear. his whole body’s shaking. they’re both reminiscing. ‘we thought you were fine—’

‘just—’ yoongi leans into namjoon’s space, pressing against him, as dirty and hurt as he is. namjoon pulls his hood down, a hand in his hair. yoongi mumbles, ‘help me,’ and namjoon does.

 

 


yoongi [02:24]
namjoons gonna text u
idk what he’s gonna say but i promise it’s not as bad as he says it is
ik you’re busy you don’t have to come over


hoseok [03:02]
what are u talking about?


yoongi [03:03]
doesnt matter


hoseok [03:03]
did something happen?

 

 

jungkook cries when he sees yoongi the next morning. namjoon’s keeping him in bed for at least a day, at least until dinner, at least until he remembers how to move. jimin gets angry and taehyung sounds so upset, and namjoon speaks quick and reassuring next to them. they come into yoongi’s room one by one, giving him soda and chocolate and sympathy even if he can’t really stomach it. they sit in the chair namjoon left next to his bed, holding his hand.

jungkook stays longer. he’s already looking a little fragile when he opens the door but the tears don’t spill until yoongi smiles at him, forcing himself upright. jungkook lifts his shirt and his lip quivers when he sees the bruises near his sides.

yoongi holds out a hand. jungkook takes it, crawls onto the bed, curls close to his side. there’s still a little distance between them and it’s foreign.

‘i thought this was gonna stop,’ jungkook says, a hand tangled in yoongi’s sweater, head on the pillow.

‘it’s not gonna happen again,’ yoongi tells him, drawing patterns across jungkook’s knuckles.

‘do you know who it was?’ he asks, still sniffling, still scared.

yoongi thinks.

‘no,’ he says.

 

 

yoongi’s bad for people. there are a lot of things he’s willing to ruin, but jungkook’s heart isn’t one of them.

 

 

hoseok [11:04]
namjoon texted me
hyung are you okay?
i know u told me not to worry but i am anyway

hoseok [11:08]
im coming over tomorrow

 

 

yoongi startles awake to the sound of the doorbell the next morning. he’s pretty sure he’s the only one in the house—namjoon at work, jungkook in class, while taehyung and jimin left the evening prior with promises to text and call and send food over—and he really doesn’t want to move. every part of him is aching.

the bell rings again. he decides to get this over with, slumping into the hall with all his sore joints and fuzzy thoughts to find hoseok at the front door.

yoongi’s missed him so much. so fucking much. he looks at hoseok and almost forgets all that’s happened, nearly forgets why hoseok’s here at all.

(yoongi had once thought hoseok embodies the word bright , and it still holds up. yoongi’s morning sky. his own personal sunshine.)

hoseok cuts off his thoughts with a whine, greedy hands already reaching out and yoongi meets him there. they pile against each other like it’s been years instead of days. hoseok tries to be gentle and yoongi forgets what the word means.

‘shit, yoongi—’ and he buries his face in yoongi’s neck, curling in against him, and they sway in the threshold. his touches go soft, and maybe he’s noticing the way yoongi hasn’t stopped trembling in days. he pulls back to eye the cut sloping down near his jaw, the one that’s probably going to scar. his hand frames yoongi’s face, admiring him, not going further but looking like he wants to.

‘it’s not that bad—’  

‘shut up, hyung,’ hoseok snaps, not angry so much as terrified. he takes yoongi’s wrist between his fingers, a fragile touch, and lets the door close behind him. ‘i was so scared, hyung, you know that? you really tried to convince me it’s not that bad and then namjoon’s saying you got beaten up and we didn’t want to overwhelm you so i waited to visit, but you look like this and you’re trying to tell me you’re fine?’

(yoongi wants him closer.)

‘sorry, hoseokie,’ he murmurs, and his hands drop to hoseok’s shoulders, rubbing careful circles there. ‘i won’t joke about it.’

‘good.’

yoongi leads him inside by the wrist. they pile together on the sofa and hoseok moves so that yoongi’s head’s in his lap, his backpack abandoned on the floor. he brushes at yoongi’s hair with his hands, gentle twists and curls that yoongi can barely feel.

‘don’t you have work?’ yoongi asks, and he hands hoseok the remote.

‘took a day off,’ hoseok tells him, a hand moving to yoongi’s side. the touch is scared, hesitant.

‘you never take days off.’

‘you need me,’ and yoongi’s chest constricts, heart thundering. he wonders if hoseok can feel it against him. ‘that’s more important.’

‘thanks, hoseokie,’ yoongi murmurs, smiling against hoseok’s thigh, moving around until he’s comfier. they stay there until the hour ticks over, until yoongi starts to doze again—and he’s really done nothing but sleep for two days, guilt settling like a stone.

it’s only when yoongi’s stomach growls, upsetting the otherwise peace of the room and pulling laughter out of the two of them, that yoongi realises he forgot to eat.

‘i brought donuts,’ hoseok tells him, reaching for his bag.

yoongi grins, pushing himself into a sitting position much too quickly, and of course his midsection objects. he doesn’t mean to wince but does anyway.

‘easy, hyung,’ hoseok says, all gentle, and maneuvers yoongi back down into his lap. yoongi ignores the butterflies in his chest, the way hoseok looks this morning—still a little tired, still worried, still beautiful. ‘they’re not going anywhere.’

‘shut up, i’m hungry,’ yoongi grumbles, and he tears open the box hoseok hands him. his jaw aches when he eats, and his hunger disappears in a mere few minutes. he ends up watching hoseok instead. ‘wanna help me with something later?’

hoseok hums around his food.

‘all the cereal boxes are on the top shelves in the kitchen and i need to move them down,’ yoongi says, and it’s some sort of lie—he can reach them just fine, tiptoes or kneeling up on the counter—but he really wants hoseok to stay. doesn’t know how to ask him outright. ‘you’re taller than me.’

‘you’re just short,’ and he giggles when yoongi tries to elbow him in the ribs.

‘shut up, are you gonna help me or not?’

‘yeah, yeah.’ his hands curls into yoongi’s side, a proper warm touch that’ll leave him feverish for days. ‘anything for you, hyung.’

yoongi leans into his shoulder, smiling into hoseok’s shirt. ‘thanks.’

 

 

namjoon gets home from work with a lot of worries on his mind but he won’t tell yoongi about any of them, making dinner with hoseok while everyone else makes room on the sofas. they wander in after class or practice or work, always asking yoongi are you okay? and smiling at whatever answer he gives.

it’s mostly always a yes. he’s said don’t worry about me more times in the last few days than he has in his entire life. nobody believes him this time, and that’s the only difference. they don’t argue much about it.

yoongi doesn’t feel much like eating but he cleans his plate when jin watches him, looking at him like he doesn’t look at anyone often. it’s deeper than concern. it’s something different.

they all stay over, and at this rate yoongi’s thinking of investing in a bigger house. jin climbs in with namjoon and the three youngest pile onto the sofas and hoseok waits on yoongi’s covers when he slips into the bathroom.

he hasn’t really looked at himself much until now. for the first time since it all happened, he wishes it hadn’t.

he climbs in next to hoseok, wonders if they’re ever going to talk about this. talk about how warm hoseok is and how much yoongi likes it. he could do it now, test his words, but he ducks his head against hoseok’s chest and stays silent.

 

 

‘d’you think i’ll still be beautiful?’ yoongi jokes the next morning, forcing himself to laugh. he pushes at his hair until it makes him look presentable, throwing on a hat that covers everything he can’t make himself look at.

‘oh, yeah,’ hoseok says, completely serious, no longer rooting in his bag but running a barely-there touch down the length of yoongi’s spine. ‘nothing could ever change that, hyung.’

do you mean everything you’re saying? yoongi wants to ask him when they go grocery shopping. yoongi’s been saving to buy enough food for his best friend and his love (but not love, not yet, not at all— ) and the four other boys who’ve ended up pretty much living with him, cramped in a third-storey flat where the shower doesn’t work sometimes and the floors creak at all hours of the night. do you know i mean it, too?

 

 

‘are you gonna report it?’ jin asks him.

he shouldn’t be here, yoongi knows. he’s supposed to be at work, at the place that pretty much started all of this, but he shrugged it off when yoongi asked him. now he’s watching yoongi like he’s gonna disappear, still confused, still listening to every word yoongi says like he’s hiding all his secrets in them.

yoongi still hasn’t told them much of anything. he’s forgotten how to open up. ‘i don’t know who it was.’

‘there’s cctv, i checked, we—’

‘hyung,’ yoongi interrupts, quiet. he clenches—and then unclenches—his hands on jin’s thigh. jin’s palm at the back of his neck burns with anticipation, and yoongi wants to ask them why they won’t really touch him anymore. ‘i really don’t wanna report it.’

he wants to say why. the words don’t come.

jin just nods, fingers trailing through the ends of his hair and yoongi leans into it. ‘that’s okay. you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.’

yoongi nods. jin ducks down to meet his eyes, always soft, always kind. ‘you can talk to us about it if you need to, okay?’

‘yeah,’ yoongi whispers, because he knows. he knows he can tell them pretty much anything and he doesn’t know why this is getting in the way. ‘not now.’

‘that’s alright,’ jin murmurs, and yoongi curls into him. they stay like that for hours.

 

 

‘c’mon, up,’ is the first thing yoongi hears, pulled from sleep, groggy when he sits up and hurting in so many places. the world’s still a little fuzzy when he notices the warmth under him, the way hoseok’s only waking now, blinking up at him and smiling, yoongi’s hands on his chest. he doesn’t know how they got into this position but yoongi really doesn’t mind.

namjoon seems unfazed by it, tired himself, stealing the pillow out from under hoseok’s head. ‘you’re both gonna hurt yourselves sleeping like that.’

‘yeah, whatever,’ yoongi mumbles, and stands up. namjoon whispers a goodnight before his own door closes.

hoseok’s the only one over tonight. jungkook let slip that he’s been missing class and taehyung has been having family troubles he’s keeping quiet about. jin’s meeting with his father about something , and jimin has something important coming up (an audition, yoongi guesses, but jimin hasn’t told him yet—doesn’t want to get their hopes up, as if he could ever fail).

he feels bad, piling them into the apartment all for his sake. even if they say they don’t mind it. even if they say they like it.

yoongi’s still getting used to that, after all this time: people choosing to be around him.

he grabs at hoseok’s hands, holding on too tight. ‘c’mon, ‘seokie.’

they collapse into bed together, sore legs and limp arms and heads bowed together on the pillow. yoongi curls up small and hoseok curls around him, a hand near yoongi’s side, not really touching him and yoongi hates it.

‘are you scared of me?’ he blurts out. it seems to shock hoseok into stillness.

‘no, hyung,’ he murmurs, and yoongi’s waiting for his heart to break. for hoseok to be terrified. ‘i just—’

his hand drops onto yoongi’s side, and as expected, it doesn’t bring him any pain. ‘i don’t wanna hurt you more, yeah?’

the issue yoongi’s had all this time: not being able to separate the past from the present. but here’s hoseok, not touching him incase he hurts him. and there was jayin, never doing anything else.

and maybe things are a little simpler now with these distinctions. the then, and the after. hoseok’s warm touch doing more than jayin’s smile ever did.

‘you’re not going to,’ yoongi promises . ‘i’m not made of glass.’

‘you got hurt bad, yoongi.’ hoseok, breath on the back of his neck. hoseok, so close. yoongi, with too many things to say— ‘we wanna help you.’

‘you are helping,’ he says. ‘you’re here. i need that right now.’

hoseok pauses. ‘okay,’ and inches closer, the hand on yoongi’s hip moving. his fingertips tip-toe across his waist, under his shirt, pressing into his stomach. his nose presses to the nape of yoongi’s neck and yoongi wants him closer, closer—

‘is this okay?’

‘yeah,’ yoongi whispers, already half-asleep.

 

 

(yoongi whines, reaching for hoseok’s shirt when he feels movement on the bed. he’s still barely awake.

‘go back to sleep, hyung,’ hoseok whispers, gentle, and pushes yoongi’s hair back from his forehead.

he sits up. ‘stay here.’

‘you want me to?’

yoongi hums. ‘wanna know somethin’?’

‘sure.’

‘i really like you too, ‘seokie.’ he curls himself around hoseok’s sitting figure, greedy hands and a lazy mouth. ‘i never said that before.’

he feels hoseok’s heart beat a frenzy underneath his palm. ‘yeah?’

yoongi hums. hoseok lies down with him again.)

 

 

some nights don’t go well.

‘i can’t stay like this,’ yoongi’s muttering, over and over, hands trembling on the kitchen table. he only had to meet jungkook’s eyes for a second for the kid to see right through him, and now he’s sitting across the table, hands twitching like he wants to reach out but can’t. ‘i can’t keep acting like this in front of everyone.’

jungkook’s voice is soft tonight. he’s not picking and choosing his words, no, but he definitely won’t let himself say the wrong thing. ‘acting like what?’

‘i’m— i’m fucking weak, kook-ah,’ and yoongi spits the words like it hurts, like they’re bitter and nauseating in his mouth. he can feel jungkook’s eyes on him, looking for answers. ‘and i shouldn’t be.’

‘we’ve all been vulnerable in front of you,’ jungkook says, simple.

‘that’s different.’

‘how?’

‘you—’ he stops, doesn’t really know what he wants to say. or maybe he doesn’t want to say it. his hands curl together and it only hurts a little bit where his nails dig in.

‘you think you deserved it, right?’ jungkook whispers, so quiet that yoongi flinches, finally looking up. jungkook looks disappointed. ‘you’ve been waiting for this to happen.’

you shouldn’t be caught up in this again, yoongi thinks. he shrugs, huffing out a breath, a little bit disgusted with himself. ‘i can’t just run from everything.’

‘you’re not running,’ jungkook tells him, and grabs his hands on the table, laces their fingers together, all soft edges. ‘you don’t have to fight all the bad things all the time, hyung.’

‘yeah,’ he nods, and tries to convince himself that jungkook’s right.

 

 

yoongi got home bleeding, and had been knocking on the front door—forgot his key, or maybe he lost it—for ten minutes before he remembered namjoon and his parents were visiting family across the city and wouldn’t be home until late.

(they’d wanted to invite yoongi: you’re pretty much part of the family now, namjoon’s father had said, begrudging but sincere. they discussed the possibility at the dinner table almost every night for a week. but there’d be no way to explain why he was with them without making every member of namjoon’s family wildly uncomfortable, so he took the money they left him for takeout with a smile.)

‘fuck,’ he muttered, his head pounding where he pressed it against the front door, the walls cool under his hands. his hoodie was covering most of the damage, shaky hands hidden under the sleeves, and he wondered if he’d left his window open this morning. maybe, because all he needed to do was get inside and throw a couple bandaids on and sleep for the next twelve hours—

‘yoongi hyung!’

shit.

he didn’t turn around: didn’t want to see jungkook stomping across the road toward him, face all scrunched up with a smile, books tucked under his arm because today was wednesday and yoongi said he would help jungkook while namjoon wasn’t there, but now he was bleeding and locked out of the house and shit—

‘forget your key?’ jungkook said, close behind him. his hand settled on yoongi’s shoulder and yoongi wasn’t bothered to resist as he got spun around. ‘don’t worry, my mom has a spare—’

jungkook met his eyes beneath his hood; scanned his face. yoongi could pinpoint the exact second when he saw. ‘holy shit.’

‘you’re not allowed to curse,’ yoongi mumbled. jungkook grabbed his wrist and led him across the road, whispering variations of shit and fuck and i didn’t know and i’m sorry.

‘don’t apologise, kook,’ yoongi told him while they hurried up the stairs, sounds masked by the tv in the room next door, his parents in the backyard. ‘you didn’t do anything.’

jungkook sat him down on the bed—which was probably a bad idea, because yoongi was very sure he fell in some mud when he first got hit and now it was going to get all over this iron man duvet—and jungkook came back moments later with a first aid kit. he pulled out some disinfectant and a roll of bandages and yoongi didn’t want to know why the kid knew what he was doing.

‘this is gonna sting a little,’ jungkook told him, halfway in his lap where he was tilting yoongi’s chin up, face scrunched in concentration. he apologised every time yoongi flinched and eventually yoongi had to hold the kid’s hand, just to let him know it wasn’t  his fault.

jungkook let him shower, got him new clothes—sweatpants and a bright pink sweater with a bunny on it, warm and comfy—and waited until he was drying his hair to talk.

because yoongi had kept all this from jungkook for way longer than he thought he would. the kid shouldn’t have had to clean him up. he shouldn’t have been exposed to any of this.

‘this has happened to you before, hasn’t it?’

‘yeah.’

‘are you—’ jungkook spoke slow and careful, looking down at his hands in his lap. ‘are you the boy at school, the—’

the room was quiet, save for the clock and yoongi’s shaky breathing. ‘yeah.’

jungkook looked at him. ‘i’m sorry.’

‘i’m not ashamed of it, y’know.’

‘you shouldn’t be,’ jungkook told him, and smiled. ‘we look up to you, yeah?’

we, he said, and yoongi heard: all of us like you. everyone who can’t let themselves be seen.

yoongi left long before he had to, not wanting to take up space in a house that wasn’t made for him—wasn’t made for his street fights or his pain tolerance. he took the spare key jungkook handed him, curling up on his bed and dozing until namjoon got home an hour later. namjoon crawled in beside him. ‘jungkook texted me.’

yoongi hummed, not at all surprised. ‘he shouldn’t have had to see that.’

‘you can’t change it now,’ namjoon said. ‘and he’s not going to treat you any different.’

yoongi tried to believe him.

 

 

‘you should stay over,’ yoongi suggests to the sink, a wet plate in his hands. hoseok holds a towel next to him. yoongi doesn’t look up, face going warm when he passes the plate over . ‘for a couple days. only if you want to. i mean, you’re already spending nights here but you have to keep going back to yours for clothes and the bakery’s pretty close so you might as well, um. yeah.’

yoongi nearly drops the glass he’s holding. he wonders if hoseok can feel the way he’s burning up, a fire in his stomach and his ears going red.

he can feel hoseok’s eyes on him in the silence, and only relaxes when hoseok presses against him, shoulder-to-shoulder. ‘i’d like that, hyung,’ he murmurs, soft and a little excited.

‘good,’ yoongi says, and a couple days turns into an undetermined period of time that just keeps stretching further and further.

hoseok crawls into bed beside him every night. checks his bruises, watches them go from purple to green to yellow. avoids touching all the places where the cuts are starting to heal. still manages to smother him with hugs and gentle hands.

 

 

yoongi can feel himself getting better but he hasn’t sorted everything out yet. there’s still things he hasn’t told people and confessions he hasn’t made and a boy he loves sleeping in his bed, not knowing that’s why he’s there.

 

 

‘how do i tell him?’ yoongi asks jimin, hoseok in the bathroom, jimin pressing a glass of water into his hands.

he doesn’t have to explain—jimin just moves close to him on the sofa and watches him, sympathetic. ‘i think it’ll just happen,’ he says. ‘don’t overthink it.’

yoongi holds the glass to his lips. ‘what if i say something wrong?’

jimin meets his eyes, smile warm. ‘you’ll still be fine.’

 

 

sometimes yoongi dreams and tonight he dreams of hoseok finding him the way yoongi found himself last week, bloodied and beaten and broken, and he dreams of hoseok fading. he dreams of hoseok holding his hand against the high school sneers and the books thrown at him and the teachers who make him wait outside the door until he stops disrupting classes. he dreams of hoseok on a porch—namjoon’s porch—when invisible punches push at his sides and bloody his jaw and the glass doors don’t open no matter how much yoongi tries.

he goes out to the balcony when he wakes up, curling into his chair, shivering where he piled the blankets around hoseok and didn’t dare rouse him. he tries to calm his hands but they’ve got a mind of their own, shaking violently. he keeps looking up for the stars but hasn’t seen them in so long.

yoongi doesn’t notice hoseok until he’s sitting right next to him. they both keep quiet. yoongi curls and cracks his knuckles on the tabletop for something to do. there’s too much space between them. ‘you can tell me what happened, hyung.’

‘nothing happened.’

‘there’s this look in your eye,’ hoseok tells him, voice still soft and sleepy. ‘like you keep looking back on something.’

and isn’t it something: how he’s done nothing but hide the past from hoseok but he can still read yoongi like a fucking book.

‘there’s so much that’s happened, hoseok,’ yoongi tells him, feeling like he’s reliving it. ‘stuff from when i was younger.’

hoseok taps his nails against the table.

‘i’m not going anywhere,’ he whispers. ‘you know that, right?’

yoongi’s feels contradiction in his chest. he feels himself being split open. he wants to say you can’t be sure of that, but similarly, yoongi’s never been too sure of anything.

‘yoongi?’ hoseok grabs at his wrist, and yoongi’s scared of what he’ll end up saying if he opens his mouth. ‘you gotta know that. whatever stuff happened to you isn’t going to make me hate you, or— or leave, or whatever you’re thinking right now.’

yoongi just wants to be okay.

‘so much happened,’ he whispers, turning over his hand.

‘that’s okay,’ hoseok whispers back, and presses their palms together.

‘there was a boy,’ he starts, because that’s where it always starts: a boy, and some beauty, and a little thing like love. bit by bit, he tells hoseok about the rest.

‘there’s a song you have,’ hoseok starts, quiet like the growing realization in his eyes. ‘you talk about…about some boy in school—’

yoongi nods. hoseok grips his hand a little tighter.

and it takes everything in him to keep going, to get the words out. he might be crying, eyes stinging with embarrassment, and he wipes at his face with his sleeve. ‘he made my life fucking hell, hoseokie,’ and it’s still strange to say it out loud. ‘i got kicked out of my house. i nearly lost everyone. i almost—’

he considers.

‘i was so tired of it, hoseok.’ he meets hoseok’s eyes for the first time. there’s pain in his throat, wild and unusual. he starts speaking around a sob. ‘i was so fucking tired and i—’ he wipes at his face with his sleeve, rough— ‘i just wanted the bad parts gone, i… i wanted everything to go back to normal so bad—’    

he’s breathing shaky when hoseok pulls him in, settles yoongi in his lap, hands moving all over, warming up all the places that always feel so cold. ‘you’re here, hyung. you’re fine. we’re fine.’

‘he did this,’ yoongi says, hiccuping around it. hoseok settles a hand in his hair. ‘all of this.’

‘who else knows?’

‘only you.’

‘why?’

yoongi shakes his head, pulling hoseok a little closer, clinging to him a little more. he’ll iron out the wrinkled shirt tomorrow, wash away the tear stains. ‘namjoon and jungkook went through just as much as me. i can’t keep making jungkook cry, i can’t keep doing this to them—

hoseok shushes him, hand moving in his hair, another trailing up and down his back. they’re pressed chest-to-chest and so, so warm. ‘it was so familiar,’ he says, sounding small, ‘so fucking familiar, hoseokie, it felt like i was sixteen again. i can’t get it out of my head—’

‘hey,’ hoseok says softly, meeting yoongi’s eyes. his hands drags up to yoongi’s shoulders, thumbs near his collarbones, fingers splayed out. ‘you’re with me right now, okay? nothing bad’s gonna happen. we’re okay. we’ll make this better.’

yoongi nods. there’s pride in hoseok’s smile, gentleness in the way his fingers press light into yoongi’s skin, his t-shirt hanging off his shoulder.

‘sorry,’ yoongi ends up saying, and it’s as close to a thank you as he’ll offer.

hoseok understands. presses his lips near yoongi’s temple and breathes him in.

 

 

‘what’re you gonna do?’ hoseok asks a few days later. yoongi’s working on his mixtape, trying to pick out which of the songs will make the cut. he’s capping it at six, eyeing the eight he has down on the page, the ones he has to look at again. 154’s in the corner, underlined. hoseok points to it with his chopsticks, pushing the bowl toward yoongi.

‘i think title track,’ and hoseok grins at him for continuing this rebellious little sprint he’s started. ‘people need to hear it.’

 

 

it goes like this:

he tells them all in very different ways. he starts with jin, and this one is kind of accidental. helping him with a delivery to the back door of the bakery and wondering, always wondering—

‘hyung?’ he asks, and jin hums. ‘do you think the club would still have that footage?’

and it turns out they might, and jin tells them to send him everything captured on the night. jin gets into a long phone call with his father who apparently knows about these things.

‘why the change of heart?’ jin ends up asking, a plate of cake between them, and— well. yoongi tells him. jin hugs him for a long, long time.

jimin knows bits and pieces. taehyung doesn’t know at all. yoongi ends up telling them both when he goes over to jimin’s apartment, huddled around taehyung’s growing collection of cacti on the windowsill and giving them names—and how they managed to get them into jimin’s house, yoongi doesn’t want to know.

he’s psyched himself up for days and doesn’t expect to see them both at the same time, but he goes along with it anyway. jimin gets angry and taehyung gets upset, but they both calm down a little when he tells them jin’s father is sorting things out.

‘if i ever see him i’ll punch him in the face,’ jimin grumbles, and they’re all crying a little and maybe they’re all holding hands but yoongi finds himself laughing. he gets dragged to the sink with a box of dye in taehyung’s hands and leaves with a couple of red strands in his hair—testing it for jungkook, apparently, who’s spent a week eyeing the box and not saying anything.

speaking of jungkook—yoongi takes a little more care with him. makes sure he doesn’t have class that day or the day after. brings him food and sits him on the sofa. jungkook holds yoongi’s hands when the words get caught in his throat.

‘you never deserved any of this,’ jungkook tells him.

‘i know,’ yoongi realises.

he keeps himself composed up until the end when he tells namjoon and doesn’t cry, wipes away the tears near namjoon’s eyes and tells him it’s not worth his anger. namjoon runs a thumb across the fading scar at yoongi’s jaw, calls him beautiful, holds him tight.

‘they all know,’ yoongi tells hoseok a few days later, sitting up on the counter while jin’s on his break.

‘i’m proud of you,’ hoseok says, a hand on yoongi’s thigh. yoongi smiles.

 

kiss me, yoongi thinks. doesn’t know why he, himself, can’t make the move.

 


jin calls yoongi—tells him the security footage is still there. tells him he can see everything. tells yoongi that if he doesn’t want to press charges, a restraining order can be worked out easy, maybe some help in never having to see jayin again. yoongi cries over the phone, gentle little sobs until jin takes the next bus over, brings yoongi out to dinner, makes him smile.

 

 

jungkook gives him a photo. all seven of them, all huddled around the fire, yoongi’s hand on hoseok’s back and the moon bright overhead. it’s a little blurry, the fire a little out-of-focus, all dark grass and pretty skies.

yoongi fucking loves it.

loves it so much, in fact, that it becomes his cover art.

 

 

they all go out, one night. drink too much and dance together like they deserve to be the center of attraction, hoseok much better than he’d ever give himself credit for. they hold hands and twirl under each other arms no matter the beat, thumping bass or soft piano.

yoongi nearly kisses him right then, vodka and a mixer on his tongue, hoseok’s empty glass discarded. nearly leans in, bumps their noses together, goes one step further.

the last sober parts of him says, you don’t want your first kiss to be a drunken one.

his hand is clammy against hoseok’s, and that’s what he settles for.

 

 

hoseok’s laugh is still the most beautiful thing yoongi’s ever heard. more beautiful than any song, any symphony.

 

 

yoongi goes over to hoseok’s house sometimes. i need you to try something for me, he’d said, and the baking part’s already happened by the time yoongi makes it over. he was busy today: somehow in talks about contracts, companies, music videos. he walks in with the key hoseok’s given him, immediately smells something that might be cinnamon.

there’s a cake in yoongi’s hand and a chair underneath him before he’s even said hello, and hoseok smiles over at him, flour on his cheek. yoongi thumbs it off.

‘i told you i wrote a song about you, right?’

yoongi leans across the table. hoseok tilts his head, confusion pushing his lips into a pout.

‘i did, i told you—’ he roots in his backpack for his headphones, sliding them over hoseok’s ears and hitting play.  

hoseok’s all bewilderment at this point: furrowed brows, pouty lips. ‘this is blue dream.

‘yeah, see? you know it,’ yoongi says, and he turns his palm up in a quick movement: here you go. ‘that’s your song.’

hoseok keeps…looking at him. waiting.

‘what?’

‘namjoon told me that, um— well—

‘told you what?’

hoseok scratches the back of his head. ‘he said this was the love song.’

and yoongi’s world comes to a clattering halt.

‘um.’

he can feel hoseok’s eyes on him like a physical weight. everything suddenly becomes very, very real.

‘was he right?’

yoongi’s silence speaks for him, the downward tilt of his head, his clammy, fidgeting hands on the table. he could lie, sure—but he doesn’t really want to. as hard as it is to speak, he’s tired of acting like someone he’s not.

hoseok watches him, a slight curve to his lips, eyebrows drawn close in concentration.

confessions have never been this difficult.

‘i’ll take it off the tracklist,’ yoongi whispers, ‘if, y’know. if you want.’

he’ll do it if hoseok asks him to. his heart’s breaking with all the want in his chest, with hoseok looking at him in a way he can’t quite figure out, but he’ll do it—

hoseok leans forward. ‘why would you do that?’

‘because this is—’ yoongi curls into himself a little more ‘it’s weird for you, and i get that—’

hoseok laughs. loud and amused and a little bit annoyed. he pushes back his chair. ‘you dumbass.’

yoongi’s mouth falls open .

hoseok walks from the kitchen to the living room, a hand in his hair. yoongi immediately stands to follow, moth to a flame. ‘what’d i do?’

‘i was going to tell you and then you got on a bus.’

yoongi stops when hoseok does, too much space between them. ‘tell me what?

hoseok looks at him, wide eyes and arched eyebrows and a half-smile. yoongi holds out his arms, waiting for something. waiting for hoseok to tell him to leave, or maybe— maybe—

it happens fast.

in three long strides hoseok crosses the living room floor, grabs onto yoongi’s waist, all clingy fingers and a smile , and kisses him. quick and breathless.

yoongi feels the world around him shift, outstretched arms winding around hoseok’s back like they’ve done this before.

it’s there and gone, testing the waters; but yoongi can still say that hoseok’s lips are as soft as the rest of him, that his touch turns gentle when it means something more, and yoongi’s only remembering how to breathe when hoseok pulls away.

his eyes drop to yoongi’s lips before he’s staring, open and reckless and so, so soft. ‘i like you.

yoongi feels like he’s just run a marathon. hoseok presses close, the wall somewhere near yoongi’s back when hoseok noses at his cheek. he can probably feel the way yoongi’s breath hitches. ‘no.’

‘yes.’

‘what?’

‘i’m not lying.’

‘what the fuck,’ he whispers, and kisses hoseok back.

it’s a little messy, all over the place, too many nerves getting in the way. but they settle into it, yoongi’s hands splayed out across his back and hoseok gripping at the hem of his shirt. maybe yoongi’s knee presses between hoseok’s legs and maybe hoseok moans something sounding suspiciously like yoongi against his mouth and maybe his hands travel up to press against yoongi’s chest. hoseok’s not being careful at all—and it’s so, so good, and yoongi feels a little dizzy.

they sway in the light that breaks through the curtains, clumsy feet carrying them back to the center of the room. hoseok’s sweater is unbelievably soft and a little bit see-through and yoongi can feel everything through it, his body unbelievably warm. hoseok’s hands are on either side of his head now and they press chest-to-chest, and yoongi suspects that he’s either drunk or dreaming.

hoseok breaks away too soon, speaking against yoongi’s lips, fingers splaying out over his collarbones. ‘i was going to—’

hoseokie,’ and yoongi kisses him again. it lands near hoseok’s chin instead of his lips and yoongi almost laughs, but he’s fit to collapse and he’s maybe forgotten how to breathe and hoseok just kissed him. ‘back at the fucking bus stop?’

‘you ran away!’

‘that was months ago!’

‘and you really thought all the kissing and holding hands was just pals being pals, i swear to god, hyung—’

yoongi shushes him with kisses, his cheek and his forehead and the tip of his nose, creeping back to his lips until hoseok’s half-tipped over the sofa and his hands are sneaking under yoongi’s shirt.

'you love me, hyung?’ hoseok mumbles against him, maybe the most beautiful yoongi’s ever seen him. yoongi’s hands are steady on his sides.

‘i’ll think about it.’ he smiles when hoseok kisses his cheek, dragging him down onto the sofa.

 

 

yoongi releases his mixtape in the middle of may, the sun dropping past the apartments in the view from their own; he gets hugged a lot, and hoseok kisses him long and hard, and they nitpick his music video to the last. jungkook’s shouting down the line the next morning when he’s late to class just to tell yoongi that the campus radio’s playing his song. the song.

(yoongi remembers jungkook’s face when he saw the details of yoongi’s mixtape for the first time. the photo he so carefully took. yoongi remembers jungkook turning to face him, a little bit dizzy in his chair.

‘i could’ve done better,’ he says.

yoongi ruffles his hair. ‘i know. i don’t care.’)

154 stays on his setlist. stays with him. stays in the small jagged scar at his jaw and the bruises he can still picture in the mirror, the places hoseok touches when he kisses the phantom pain away.

 

 

‘come to dinner with me,’ hoseok asks him. yoongi’s doing the dishes and the others are all inside, tipsy on wine and the revelation that the two of them have sorted themselves out, and hoseok snakes an arm around his waist.

‘i’ll think about it,’ yoongi tells him, smiling down at the dishwater.

‘seven o’clock tomorrow.’

‘i’ll check the schedule,’ yoongi hums, and hoseok pokes at yoongi’s sides until he gets his yes, loud and giddy with ticklish laughter .

(as if he wouldn’t go. as if he hasn’t wanted this for so, so long.)

 

 

‘they’re not very big,’ namjoon tells him, slow and careful to hide the excitement in his laugh and his ever-shaky hands. yoongi grabs a hold of them soon enough, rubs warmth into his knuckles, curls closer on the sofa when his eyes sting and his throat burns. ‘not very popular. but they like what i’m doing and they’re putting their trust in me. i get to write my own lyrics, produce songs when i want to, music videos and promotion and variety shows and all of it, hyung, they plan on looking after me—’

and yoongi doesn’t stop himself from crying when the realization comes that they’re finally getting what they’ve always wanted. doesn’t stop when namjoon lays out all the details, the albums in the works, the messages in his songs that he can finally share. doesn’t stop when namjoon hugs him, hugs him tight, tells him, ‘we deserve this.’

and yoongi believes him. he really, really does.

 

 

jimin tells them about his audition a week later. tells them he hasn’t been guaranteed anything yet but there’s a certain company that’s taken a liking to him, promises to train him for bigger, better things. they all go out for dinner again and jimin dances down the streets and they all hold hands and jungkook doesn’t start almost-crying until yoongi, namjoon and jimin mention the photography courses he’s been accepted into, the ones they’re all going to put money towards.

maybe things are working out for them. maybe they deserve it. and maybe yoongi’s happy like he’s never felt it before.

 

 

‘how come i didn’t meet you sooner?’ yoongi ends up asking, and that all seems like forever ago where he now sits in hoseok’s lap, the tv on low, hoseok’s hand in his hair. ‘back at the bakery. you already knew everyone before you knew me.’

‘you were—’ he falters, smiling off to the side. the hand in yoongi’s hair is still while the other taps a rhythm into his hip, and he looks a little nervous. ‘i saw you one day. you were writing, i think? you’d probably just dyed your hair and you were concentrating really hard, and— um.’

‘you looked really beautiful,’ hoseok tells him, all soft, shaky words.

yoongi’s waiting for him to laugh. to play up the joke. ‘you didn’t talk to me because you thought i looked nice.’

‘i thought you looked beautiful. there’s a difference.’

yoongi doesn’t mean to laugh but he does anyway, because hoseok’s fucking ridiculous and yoongi loves him. ‘you’re an idiot.’

‘it’s embarrassing, stop it,’ hoseok grumbles, pouting until yoongi kisses him, and that in itself is a kind of cure-all.

they don’t intend to make out on the sofa but it’s no strange occurrence, and yoongi’s still thinking of how hoseok had seen him in those first few days, deemed him handsome—no, beautiful, there’s a difference—and wanted him . how yoongi could’ve had this all along. how somehow yoongi’s ended up with the sofa at his back and hoseok straddling his hips, hands on his chest, greedy. yoongi feels pinpricks where he’s touched.

‘the songs,’ and he mutters the words against hoseok lips, friction at his hips and his hands roaming everywhere they can reach, ‘my songs, they’re always ‘bout you—’

hoseok’s out of breath, lips red and bitten, and he kisses yoongi’s jaw with a hand trailing to his stomach. ‘yeah?’

‘yeah,’ he says, tipping hoseok’s chin up and kissing him between words, terrifyingly fragile, and yoongi’s in love. ‘i’m always thinking about you.’

hoseok hums against him, smiles something small. kisses along yoongi’s cheekbone to whisper right near his ear. yoongi shivers without meaning to, hoseok’s breath hot and heavy. ‘i’m your muse, hyung?’

‘maybe,’ and the word is spoken slow, barely-there, more of a groan than anything. hoseok kisses a path down yoongi’s neck and yoongi’s hands duck beneath hoseok’s shirt to press against feverish skin, wanting more, wanting him closer and— well. hoseok wants the same.

 

 

yoongi books another gig. they turn at least three-hundred people away at the door one night, even more the next.

‘you’re getting popular,’ the manager tells him. winks and nudges at his shoulder. they laugh, now that there’s no blood or bruises or horrendously late nights. nobody questions hoseok when he knocks his gentle three knocks on yoongi’s dressing room door and a greedy hand pulls him inside.

 

 

hoseok brings home food from the bakery when he can. jin notices whenever he snatches items from the display cases but says nothing about it. he laughs and waves them away when yoongi hurries in, hat on and music playing, hoseok already pulling him behind the counter.

in june they release a few new products, have a muffin called the blue dream, and yoongi doesn’t stop laughing for twenty minutes when he sees it written on the board. one day his curiosity wins out and he buys a box of twelve just to see what they taste like, pressing a kiss to the underside of hoseok’s jaw, throwing a wad of icing in his face.

 

 

yoongi sneaks into hoseok’s apartment when he gets back from seoul a day early, so done with promotion and interviews but still revelling in the fact that he gets these opportunities at all. he makes dinner, lays it up, has a couple roses in his hands when he hears the lock jingle and hoseok’s heavy steps on the floor.

yoongi smiles his gummy smile, so happy that his face hurts . he holds the flowers out and watches hoseok’s eyes trail all over him, looking so bright that yoongi’s sure the sun’s jealous.

he drops his bag on the floor, throws off his coat. scrambles over to yoongi and takes the flowers and kisses him all at once, a loose grip on his side, teeth knocking against his with how much they’re smiling. hoseok pulls back with a wet kiss to yoongi’s forehead.

they stare at each other more than they eat, really, throwing the leftovers in the fridge. it’s too warm to curl together in bed but they do so anyway, the covers thrown on the floor, the window wide open.

‘i have so many ideas, hoseokie,’ yoongi murmurs, sounding drowsy where hoseok’s carding gentle fingers through his hair. ‘so many songs just floating ‘round my head.’

‘go write them, then,’ hoseok murmurs, and yoongi thwacks his arm. grabs hold of his hand straight after.

‘don’t need to,’ he promises. ‘i’ll remember.’

‘yeah?’

‘yeah,’ yoongi says, and smiles. ‘they’re all about you.’