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at least i got you in my head

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But at least I got you in my head, oh yeah
At least I got you in my head, in my head
Sleepovers in my bed, oh yeah
At least I got you in my head, in my head
-Hayley Kiyoko, Sleepover

*

It was Jimin who gave him the idea.

It was Jimin, plastered and slung over Namjoon’s shoulder like a sack of flour (Not that he couldn’t walk. He absolutely could. But all it took was one bat of eyelashes and a whine of Joonie, carry me? to do the trick). It was Jimin peering at Jeongguk strolling behind them and loudly blurting, “Jeonggukie, you’re hot. Why are you still single?”

“Babe,” Namjoon had groaned, whether under the weight of Jimin’s body or at the impertinence of the question is unclear. “You can’t just ask things like that.”

“I’m tellin’ it like it is. He’s hot. He has to celebrate being young and virile before his biological clock starts ticking.”

“You realize that I can’t bear children, right?” Jeongguk was a few drinks in, but Jimin was the one whose birthday was being celebrated, he was still able to keep up with the conversation. “Like, modern medicine is amazing but currently that is not a thing I can do.”

“You know what I mean.” Jimin waved his hand. “You’re so sweet and shy. You deserve to have someone rock your world. Gotta get it over with, Jeonggukie. Rip off the bandaid.”

“Um,” intoned Namjoon. “Babe, I love you, but maybe that’s not the right advice to give about like. Dating and romance.”

But Jimin ignored his boyfriend.

“You just need to fool around with some random dude,” he instructed Jeongguk, completely serious, like he wasn’t hanging off of Namjoon and bouncing with every step he took. “It’s a good ego boost. And when it’s over with, you know what you like and you’ve got practice so don’t fuck it up when it counts.”

Which is all well and good when you’re Park Jimin, God of Charm and Sex Appeal. But Jeongguk is Jeongguk, God of Anxiety and Sex-Appeal-But-Only-On-Stage-and-Definitely-Not-In-A-Way-He-Can-Control. Something like that.

Still, the suggestion had been enough to plant a niggling seed of worry in Jeongguk’s head. He really should get a head start on the whole sex thing. Maybe not even sex, but. The stuff leading up to it. The stuff adjacent to it. Jeongguk hasn’t kissed anyone since high school really, and back then it was with eyes screwed shut, lips puckered tight like a raisin, braced like he was up against a firing squad.

There’d been a couple dates since, a few pecks on the lips. But Jeongguk has yet to experience a real kiss. A Kiss™, because yes, it does need that unnecessary trademark symbol. Kiss™. Like something that turns him warm and gooey and tingly inside. Like the thing romantic songs and movies were always going on about. Like a sensation that sets off fireworks, quiets your brain, makes your heart stutter-stop.

A Kiss™, the ever elusive thing that his friends sometimes talk about and it makes him ache with longing. The thing Jeongguk wants to experience, just once.

The plan formulated immediately after the drunken insight, with Jeongguk choosing to take action, and fast. There’s an eager and empowered voice that sounds like Jimin in his head telling him to take charge of his sexuality and embrace twenty-gay-teen to the fullest.

He decided early on that a random Tinder hookup would only stress him out. Maybe that worked for Taehyung, who’d hit up an angry looking twink named Yoongi six months ago, had struck fucking gold in the sweet tsundere department and had been in domestic bliss ever since. Maybe that even worked for Seokjin, who didn’t have a boyfriend but rather a carefully tailored harem of men ready to do his bidding at a moment’s notice, be it hookup or otherwise. It may work like that for them, but it doesn’t work like that for Jeongguk.

Obviously, this leaves Hoseok as the only viable option.

Jeongguk elects to tell no one of this plan, especially his friends. Not even Namjoon, who he runs any and all life decisions by on principle. It’s not that he doesn’t want to know their reactions. It’s more that he can guess them without even having to check.

It would go a little something like this: Namjoon, lots of Soulful Namjoon Eyes and the careful are you sure? coupled with a gentle Dad-hand on the shoulder; Jimin, a shit eating grin and the smuggest sounding really, Kookie? I thought you got over him after freshman year known to man; Seokjin—a solid tossup, either his gentle giant’s hands cupping Jeongguk’s face and going sweetie do you even know what sex is? or him going Cool. Do you think he’d be down for a threesome? Jeongguk can’t tell which is worse; Taehyung, another tossup, because while he’s good with the Soulful Namjoon Eyes, he’s just as likely to say slut it up my good bitch without even blinking; and lastly, Yoongi, who would probably grunt and squint and say something along the lines of kid, i love you, but please do not make me think about my best friend in the contexts of a hookup, thank you and he’d do it all while sitting on Taehyung’s lap.

So, yeah, telling his friends only felt like an invitation for mockery. Or a way of jinxing it. Jeongguk doesn’t want to jinx it. Especially if Hoseok said no.  

Which, he didn’t. Jeongguk waited outside of Contemporary Dance 252 with sweating palms feeling like he was going to throw up waiting for Hoseok, but he needn’t have worried.

Hoseok doesn’t cringe, doesn’t back away, not as Jeongguk awkwardly stumbles through his speech with buzzwords like taking charge and improvement and basically asks, in so many words, if Hoseok would be cool with giving him kissing lessons.

Kissing lessons. Practice kissing. In the way that someone would ask, “Hey, can you help me go over this combination before ballet tomorrow?” or “Hey, I’m really struggling with these integrals for my calc test, could you walk me through some practice problems?”

In reality it comes out more like, “Heyhyungpleasei’msosorrybutIreallyneedtopracticekissingsoIdon’tsuckwhenIamtryingtogoondateswithpeopleandyoualwayshelpwitheverythinglikedanceandstudyingsoIwaswonderingifyoucouldhelpmewiththisokaysorrythanksbye.”

Hoseok seems to get the gist of it though, thank God.

“Sure, Jeonggukie.” Hoseok’s smile is wide and dimpled and sweet, the kind of smile where you immediately smile back. The kind of smile that demands tribute. He smiles as if what Jeongguk is asking for is completely rational and not like he’s sweating buckets and choking on the words. “Why don’t you come over to my place after practice tomorrow?”

“Um. I have to go home and like. Shower first.”

“Of course. Hygiene is important,” says Hoseok with a wink and a smile, and Jeongguk has a hard time remembering why he was nervy-spazzing about this in the first place.

But that was Hoseok for you. The living embodiment of Really Cool Hyung. The one person who did everything with ease and put everyone around him at ease.

He’s the kind of person who puts on pretty much any strange combination of tacky clothing and not only pulls it off, but makes it look like a fucking fashion statement. He’s the kind of person that makes any piece of choreography seem effortless, like you could pick up on it by watching him. Dance, making friends, making people happy, that’s just what Hoseok does. Hoseok never nervy-spazzes. Nothing ever rattles him, Jeongguk is sure of it. He simply emanates energy and life and goodness in a way that Jeongguk could only ever attempt to, and even then it would look like he’s trying way too hard.

“See you tomorrow.” Hoseok’s smile brims over with that goodness, the force of it spilling a little to drown out Jeongguk’s nerves and he thinks to himself, like a complete idiot, easy, this is going to be so easy.

He’s horrifically wrong, of course. But it’s the thought that counts.

 


 

When they first met, Jung Hoseok was Jeongguk’s freshman dorm RA, a third-year major in the dance program, and so beautiful that Jeongguk’s sexual awakening was less of an awakening and more like someone crept into his resting bed of heteronormativity and slapped him across the face as hard as they could.

It was just—Hoseok was so cool.

He was so cool and so kind and he always checked in on Jeongguk and all the other freshman to make sure they were doing alright. When Jeongguk got a fever the week before finals it was Hoseok who ran off campus to the pharmacy to grab him some medicine, even though he had his own finals to study for. When Jeongguk was homesick, crying and overtired it was Hoseok who’d talked him down from tears, taken him down to the dining hall for some hot chocolate and didn’t leave until he’d made Jeongguk laugh.

He didn’t follow Hoseok around like a puppy, though his hyungs love to tease him and say that he did. It was a crush, plain and simple. One Jeongguk put to rest, or at least doused the hope of, as soon as it started. Jung Hoseok was—is—perfect. Immensely popular, immensely accomplished, and immensely out of eighteen year old Jeongguk’s league by a long shot.

But even after Jeongguk had moved out of the freshman dorms, laid his feelings to rest and sealed them up, fate stepped in anyhow.

Hoseok ended up being the unofficial TA in one of Jeongguk’s technique classes, then dance captain of the Winter Showcase. Then he was best friends with Yoongi, the guy who Jeongguk’s roommate Taehyung had started seeing in the spring. Then he was helping Jeongguk through difficult choreography after class, helping Jeongguk adapt better studying techniques that actually worked for his brain, and then he was this fixed presence in Jeongguk’s life.

Jeongguk is older now and a junior and Hoseok is currently battling his way through grad school with way too much work but he still remains a close friend, a devoted and wonderful hyung, a someone who teaches Jeongguk things he doesn’t understand or helps him through hard things and indulges him. Hoseok is moonlit picnics on the quad where he buys Jeongguk a shit ton of food and asks Jeongguk how he’s doing, how he’s really doing. All of Jeongguk’s friends love him, but there’s something special about being under the soft warm glow of Hoseok’s attention. Even when he’s teasing Jeongguk. Even when he’s putting Jeongguk in a chokehold or hugging him with deadweight, forcing Jeongguk to carry him.

In other words, he’s the perfect person to practice kissing with.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he has the comfiest bed known to man. Jeongguk knows this because he frequently falls asleep in it. It’s a queen sized bed with the squishiest mattress and softest down comforter and it smells so good (smells like Hoseok). Sometimes when Jeongguk is over studying or hanging out he ends up falling asleep in it. Or curling up under the covers when he takes a break, breathing in the smell like it’s aromatherapy or something.

The magical bed is where Jeongguk’s sitting right now, criss cross apple sauce, after practice and after his shower. Watching shyly as Hoseok pads in from the kitchen, toweling down his hair. He’d just been stepping out of the shower when Jeongguk had let himself in (Hoseok gave him the key the second time Jeongguk had accidentally fallen asleep in his bed, with a selfless smile and don’t even worry about it as the ready reply).

Hoseok hasn’t dyed his hair in a minute, the fire engine red turning a softer mahogany color. He’s wearing a large white tank top and a pair of appalling mustard yellow basketball shorts. Appalling both because of the color, but also because of the way they ride up his toned thighs.

Jeongugk may be over his stupid freshman year crush, but there’s no denying a good pair of legs when he sees them.

Now that he’s here, sitting on Hoseok’s bed, hazy early evening light filtering in through the curtains, Hoseok showered and clean looking and kind-eyed in front of him, Jeongguk starts to second guess himself.

“So, if you don’t mind me asking.” Hoseok finishes drying his hair, hangs the towel gently over the back of his desk chair. “What made you want to do this?”

“Um.” Jeongguk scratches the back of his neck, trying to appear loose and relaxed and not at all keyed up. Not like he’d spent a weird amount of time deciding what to wear—one of those rare occasions where he regrets owning only black and white t-shirts. “Just thought it was like. About time.”

“Have you never kissed anyone before?”

Jeongguk shrugs, non-committal. “I’ve kissed a few people.”

“Well, what did you like about those kisses?”

For a solid ten seconds, Jeongguk’s mind is completely blank. It wasn’t a question he was expecting, and certainly not one he’s prepared to answer. Because the answer is somewhere along the lines of nothing, I liked nothing and also I think there’s something wrong with me. And neither of those answers feel like the right one to Hoseok’s question.

He must look some form of stricken because Hoseok kneels on the bed, crawls over the clean sheets, sits parallel to Jeongguk. Like they’re on one of their picnic dates. Like Hoseok’s asking Jeongguk how his classes are going. Like everything’s fine.

“Hey.” Hoseok settles a hand on Jeongguk’s leg, thumb lightly stroking his kneecap over his sweats. Not sexual, but comforting. Caring. An understanding smile on his face. “Are you nervous? It’s okay if you are.”

Jeongguk shakes his head, because he’s not. Not really. Nervousness is for the unknown, for the stuff he doesn’t get. Touching and being touched by Hoseok isn’t unknown. He’s had Hoseok’s hands on his body before, helping him stretch out after class, guiding him gently through choreography. Hoseok’s a hugger, hugs from the side and the back and the front. Any angle he can get. Barrels into Jeongguk and climbs him like a koala, wraps his legs around his waist. Frequently kisses Jeongguk’s cheek when he’s feeling especially giddy. It’s why Hoseok was the perfect candidate for this personal journey. He’s someone Jeongguk is completely comfortable with.

So he’s not nervous he just. Doesn’t want to look like a complete idiot. Wants to be honest about his experience level without sounding like the lamest virgin known to man.

“I’ve kissed some people, but I didn’t really like it,” Jeongguk says slowly.

Hoseok frowns, the shape on his face an odd contrast to his usual smile. “Are you sure you want to? Like. That it’s something you desire because if it’s not, that’s okay, Jeonggukie. It’s okay to not want anything to do with that stuff—”

“No.” Jeongguk laughs, because he’s had Far Too Many fantasies and inconvenient boners to know the difference between aversion and…whatever Jeongguk’s problem is. Performance anxiety over kissing. “I definitely wanna make out. Like. I’m ready. I made a playlist.”

“You made a playlist?”

Jeongguk reaches over to the side and pulls out his phone, scrolling through his Spotify, which he has sorted alphabetically by genre and mood. He’d heard Jimin mention once that he and Namjoon had a 5 hour long sex playlist, which Jeongguk personally thought was overkill and TMI, but he still made one in case Hoseok was into that sort of thing, or expected Jeongguk to provide it. “Of course. I wanted to be prepared.”

“Okay.” Hoseok nods, taking in the information with wide eyes. Then he glances at Jeongguk’s phone screen and bursts into a loud cackle.

“What?” Jeongguk snatches the phone to his chest as Hoseok nearly pitches off the bed in laughter.

“The playlist is called ‘Sex Jams for Bod Slams’,” says Hoseok, and cracks up again. “And the first song is Africa by Toto.”

“It’s a good song,” says Jeongguk, ears red.

“It’s cute.” Hoseok hiccups, sitting back up. “So, you haven’t really had much experience. That’s okay! That’s what I’m here for.”

“Right.” Jeongguk sits up a straighter, and Hoseok crawls back over to him. The sheets smell so good, clean. Hoseok lit a candle a few minutes ago and already Jeongguk can smell it, something warm and fresh like eucalyptus and spearmint. “How do we want to do this?”

“Well, starting off with the basics would be good,” says Hoseok, and then beckons Jeongguk forward with a crooked finger. “Kiss me.”

Jeongugk blinks. “Just like that? Just fuckin go for it?”

“I mean, we’re never gonna get to the practice part of this without the kissing.”

“Right. You’re right.” Jeongguk laughs, a sharp panicked thing. Then he looks at Hoseok, setting his jaw in determination. Says, “Let’s get it.”

He kisses Hoseok.

Or, he tries to. Their teeth kind of click, because Hoseok was still smiling at Jeongguk when Jeongguk lunged forward, so it was a peck no different than how Jeongguk would kiss his grandmother which. Great. Super romantic.

“Alright.” Hoseok lets out an exhale and god, Jeongguk’s so bad at this. He might as well give up right now. “Let’s…let’s try again, okay?”

“Okay.” Jeongguk nods, and goes to lurch forward again when Hoseok holds up a hand.

“Woah there, okay. Lesson number one? You gotta go slow with this stuff. Like. Fast and hard looks hot in dramas but usually with the first kiss you wanna work for it. You want to make them anticipate it, you know?”

Jeongguk doesn’t know a goddamn thing, but he nods like he does.

“Okay. So. I’m gonna close my eyes. Work for it first. And then kiss.”

Work for it? What does that even mean? Does this mean he needs to flex? Jeongguk briefly calculates how many pushups he needs to do in the moment before he kisses Hoseok or if he should be doing crunches instead. Work for it how exactly?

Hoseok closes his eyes, perfectly patient, and Jeongguk stares at him in utter confusion for at least half a minute before he peeks out one eye. “You okay over there?”

“Let’s get it,” Jeongguk blurts again, and this time barely brushes his lips against Hoseok’s, all while Hoseok’s eye is open.

Nothing. No fireworks. Nothing.

Nerves make themselves known now, palms sweating. And when Hoseok opens his eyes and smiles kindly again Jeongguk can’t help but say, “Sorry, I suck.”

“You don’t suck, hey.” Hoseok reaches out, cups Jeongguk’s cheeks in his hands. “You don’t suck. You just don’t have experience. It’s okay. That’s why we’re practicing. I promise I’m not judging.”

“Okay.” Jeongguk nods, throat clicking as he swallows. “Okay.”

“Alright, let’s try a different approach. Story time.” Hoseok sits back on his heels a bit, uses his hands to gesticulate, the way he always does. “Wanna hear the story of my best first kiss?”

“I don’t know.” Jeongguk pouts. “Is it going to make me feel like more like a lame virgin.”

“No. It will inspire you, I’m sure of it.” Then Hoseok’s voice gets softer, almost hypnotic. He’s usually so loud and expressive with the way he talks but now he’s barely above a whisper. Voice pitched in his deeper register, like he’s singing.

“My best first kiss was this guy Jaehyun. My freshman year of college. We’d hung out a few times, and like, we’d both been flirting for ages. We had dance together and we were partnered on some choreo improv and man, we just vibed. But I think we were both pretty new to the whole queer thing, had to test the water. I’d only recently realized I was even into dudes. There was like, a minimum six months of built up sexual tension between us and there’d been plenty of opportunities to act on it but we didn’t. Until…” he trails off with a dramatic flourish, and when he looks back over Jeongguk only then realizes he’s leaning forward where he sits.

“What,” says Jeongguk breathlessly. His skin feels like it’s buzzing with electricity. Something holding its breath low in his belly.

Hoseok smiles. “There was this party at one of the dance major’s houses. Where Jaehyun lived. We were just. Touching each other all night. Sort of like a sexy game of tag. He kept finding excuses to touch me. Bumping into me in the crowd, brushing his hand against my waist, my arm. By the time I was helping clean up after everyone went home, I was so keyed up I’d basically been hard for hours.”

Jeongguk’s mouth feels dry.

“So I was taking out the trash in the alleyway and when I let myself back in through the laundry room, Jaehyun was there. And for a second we looked at each other in the dark. And then he kissed me. Just pulled me into his arms after months of longing. But right before that, right before our lips met, he pulled back one last time. Like he wanted to drag it out. Like I wasn’t already going crazy.”

Jeongguk’s stomach squirms a bit. “What happened after that?”

Hoseok blinks. Gives himself a little shake as a sudden flush rises in his cheeks and he clears his throat rather loudly. “Well, you know, we uh, we made out. Finally agreed to start going out. All besides the point. The point is, that’s what I mean when I say ‘work for it’. Touch me, kiss me not on the lips, drag it out, make me want you. You feel me?”

“Yeah.” Is it just him, or is Hoseok sitting closer to him now? The light feels dimmer in the bedroom. Outside the sun is going down.

“Okay then,” says Hoseok, with another kind smile. He leans back and closes his eyes.

Jeongguk takes a long look at Hoseok’s face, the sweep of his eyelashes, the mole at the top of his parted lips, how that singular tiny spot makes the rest of his mouth look even more pink.

This time, he goes in for the kiss and feints at the last second. Pulls back. Lets his nose brush Hoseok’s.

Touch me, Hoseok had said. kiss me not on the lips. make me want it.

Jeongugk wants to ask where, but stops himself from asking. Hoseok hadn’t been specific for a reason. Like when he guides Jeongguk through eight-counts, accenting his beats rather than demonstrating the move for Jeongguk to copy. Because he wants Jeongguk to learn. Not to mimic. Give it his own flare and individuality.

So Jeongguk kisses Hoseok’s forehead, right between his finely shaped brows.

Make him want it, Jeongguk thinks, determined.

“Like this, hyung?” Jeongguk says, because he wants to. He wants to make this good for Hoseok, not a chore, not something he has to hold his patience through while Jeongguk stumbles through the learning process.

He kisses Hoseok’s cheek, chaste. The corner of Hoseok’s mouth, where the dimple lies. The other cheek. The other dimple. He feels Hoseok’s eyelashes brush against his cheek, but Hoseok’s eyes remain closed, like he’s waiting.

“Now, hyung?”

Hoseok doesn’t answer, eyes closed, just gives a quick jerky nod.

“Let’s get it,” whispers Jeongguk, because the third time’s the charm.

He leans forward and presses his lips to Hoseok’s, a firm seal. Thinks about not puckering too much, not getting any slobber. Tries for something closemouthed and simple. Holds it for a breath, maybe two. Pulls back.

“Now feedback,” he says, like they’re in one of the practice rooms at the barre. “What do I need to work on?”

It takes a second longer for Hoseok’s eyes to flutter open. His pupils are dilated.

“Well, after you kissed them, it’s probably in good spirits to wait for them to kiss back.” Hoseok grins. “Definitely don’t pull away and ask them for notes. So impatient, Jeonggukie.”

Jeongguk files that information away with a nod. “Gotcha.”

And then, with all the practiced confidence of someone who has done this a million times, knows all the tricks of the trade, Hoseok cups Jeongguk’s face in his hands once more, only this time there’s nothing remotely cutesy or cheerily affectionate about it. He takes Jeongguk’s face into his hands, thumbs stroking over the apples of Jeongguk’s cheeks, and kisses Jeongguk right back.

Jeongguk goes rigid. He wasn’t ready. He wasn’t braced for it. He didn’t even get a chance to pucker his lips.

“Stop thinking,” Hoseok whispers against his mouth.

“‘m not thinking.”

“Your fists are clenched, Jeonggukie. Stop—,” Hoseok pulls back, tilts Jeongguk’s jaw, “thinking.”

He kisses Jeongguk a little more intensely. Not hurried, but intense. It’s like missing a step on the stairs. Not a huge distance, not a giant leap, but a noticeable swoop. He kisses Jeongguk’s mouth in the center, kisses his bottom lip, and when he pulls away their lips catch slightly. Jeongguk’s mouth comes away the tiniest bit wet.

“Oh,” he breathes out, eyes closed.

The corners of Hoseok’s mouth pull upward, Jeongguk can feel it against his own, and then Hoseok does it again. Nothing forward or pushy, just these soft open mouthed kisses. Slow and purposeful, lips moving against Jeongguk’s to a sensual beat that only Hoseok can hear. Always on tempo.

Jeongguk’s mind is still running a mile a minute. It feels good, but he feels like he’s hanging off the edge of a slippery slope, the slope being his sanity. Maybe his last remaining shred of dignity. He tries to focus, tries to commit to memory the way their mouths are moving together, tries to remember the shape his own mouth is forming, what he’s doing, how it feels.

“You can touch me, you know.” Hoseok’s lips brush against Jeongguk in a way that’s not a kiss, words ghosting in a way that makes Jeongguk shiver. “I don’t mind, Jeonggukie.”

Jeongguk nods, eyes closed intensely. He’d been so focused on giving as good as he was worth to those kisses. That’d be a good idea, probably. Touching Hoseok. But the angle is awkward, they’re sort of leaning forward across the space of their knees. Hoseok doesn’t feel close enough to touch.

And then, it’s almost like Hoseok reads his mind—Hoseok uncrosses his legs and opens them. Like he’s doing crunches and asking Jeongguk to hold down his feet and count only he’s pulling Jeongguk closer, into the space. Only Jeongguk places a hand on either of his shoulders, leans in, kneels so he’s a sitting a little taller than Hoseok. He curls his hands into the soft material of Hoseok’s tank top, knuckles rubbing the golden skin of his narrow shoulders. There’s a freckle on his sternum, just below his collarbone, a scant inch from the scoop of his tank top. Jeongguk marvels at it, raises his gaze to find Hoseok staring at him, eyes dark.

“Can I kiss you in other places too, hyung?”

A shadow passes over Hoseok’s face, a flicker of something which Jeongguk can’t read before he’s saying, “Yeah, sure Jeonggukie, whatever you want.”

Jeongguk wants.

He leans forward, balancing on his palms, leans into the sprawl of Hoseok’s legs, and kisses his chin. The ski-slope tip of his nose. Those sharp cheekbones. Moves lower, kisses the underside of Hoseok’s jaw, rubs his lips along the curve of it, that wonderful angle. Suddenly thinks of Seokjin once telling him always date a man with a sturdy jawline, Jeonggukie. Good for sitting on, and shoves the thought aside. He knows his lips are kind of small, kind of an insecurity point, but he tries to make his mouth as soft and as plush as possible. Presses kisses in a line down Hoseok’s neck, like trailing breadcrumbs, something to say I was here.

Then his mouth meets freckle, and he can feel Hoseok’s pulse beneath the skin. He doesn’t mean to, or maybe he does, because he’s curious, because Hoseok’s letting him. whatever you want.

He kisses the freckle, mouths at the skin there, scrapes his teeth. A little bit of bite, because that’s familiar too. Biting Hoseok to get attention, to be playful. Biting Hoseok when he hugs Jeongguk so tight, like a feral animal trying to get free.

Only Hoseok doesn’t squawk or screech with this bite, push Jeongguk away with a laugh. Rather, his head falls back, exposing more of his slender neck and shoulder. He makes this noise, low and breathless, and it occurs to Jeongguk that this isn’t a playful bite. There’s nothing playful or dumb about this. This isn’t like when they’re in the practice room and dig their thumbs into each other’s necks to relieve tension, give mini-massages. Hoseok’s noise isn’t one of pain, but of pleasure.

“Hyung…?” Jeongguk goes to pull away but Hoseok fists a hand in his hair, nails scratching Jeongguk’s scalp in a way that sends shivers down his spine, and drags their mouths back together.

Maybe it’s that Jeongguk didn’t see it coming, that he was too surprised to prepare or brace himself or worry, but he suddenly loses grip of that slope and plummets. And they’re kissing. Hoseok is kissing him hungrily, like he wants it, like Jeongguk’s given him something to crave. And Jeongguk’s craving it back.

Craving Hoseok’s limber hands in his hair, Hoseok’s mouth moving against his. Hoseok’s lips parting, inviting, giving Jeongguk a taste. Jeongguk runs his tongue along the seam of Hoseok’s lips and it’s warm and wet and a little weird and perfect.

It feels good. Really good.

Jeongguk throws his arms fully around Hoseok’s neck, leans into it. There are lines they probably should have established before starting this. Boundaries that should have been set. He never said how far things would go, only knows that Hoseok seems down for whatever Jeongguk wants to do, certainly responds enthusiastically.

Stop thinking, Hoseok had said. So Jeongguk stops thinking. Keeps kissing instead.

He presses his lips to Hoseok’s, moving in a way that he thinks feels good, hopes is good for Hoseok. The sound of their mouths catching is mesmerizing and when Jeongguk sucks on Hoseok’s bottom lip, pulls back with a scrape of teeth because it seems that Hoseok likes it like that, Hoseok makes another low sound into his mouth.

This time, Hoseok bites back, playful and sharp. This time, Hoseok’s arms wrap around Jeongguk’s waist to pull him closer, their chests bracketing, Jeongguk upright and hovering slightly above. Jeongguk dips back in, chasing the taste, ginger tea and drizzled honey and Hoseok on the back of his tongue.

He can’t help it, he makes this helpless breathless noise, not loud enough to be a moan but definitely halfway there. Hoseok hears it, and his eyes flick open to meet Jeongguk’s and god they’re blazing, heavy lidded and glittering, the same intensity he carries when he dances, when he’s focused on a singular task and he’s thriving at it.

There’s a tiny secret thrill in being the singular task that Hoseok is focused on. Just the notion lights Jeongguk up, glowing soft with blue heat flame.

He nudges his mouth back against Hoseok’s, tongue and teeth and Hoseok moans into it again. No different from how he’d moan after stretching a particularly sore muscle, no different than how he moans biting into dinner after a long day, but the connotation of it, the context of it, has Jeongguk’s head spinning. Hoseok moans into his mouth and he feels it inside of him. Like he’s swallowed it whole and his body is aching for more, blood rushing hot, breath coming fast. Too much and not enough.

Then suddenly it’s Jeongguk climbing into Hoseok’s lap, no longer inside the vee of his legs but rather sitting atop his thighs. Then it’s Hoseok’s hands sliding up under the material of Jeongguk’s t-shirt, gliding over skin, thumbs stroking at the dip of his spine.

And like, maybe Jeongguk never got it before? How people sleep together on the first date, or how accidental one night stands happen period. In his head it was always some sort of planned out and mutually romantic decision. He never got the whole “addictive chemicals” part of kissing talked about in biology and books and those cringeworthy cliched tumblr posts.

He thinks he gets it now though, because Hoseok’s mouth moves against him in this starved way and Jeongguk can’t help but think anything, anything, I’ll do anything, just keep touching me like that, keep kissing me like that.

The best part is that Hoseok doesn’t even seem to have a problem getting with that program. It’s too easy for him to flip Jeongguk over onto his back, even though Jeongguk is the one with the superior core strength and the six-pack. (Not that Jeongguk’s abs even hold a candle. He’d been pretty proud of the work he put into them until the day he saw Hoseok take his shirt off at practice, saw the lean tone of his stomach—no abs, just slim and flat like a swimmer, like a dancer—and had to take an extremely cold shower in the locker room after class.)

Hoseok flips Jeongguk over onto his back like he’s thinking the same thing Jeongguk is thinking, giggling a bit but still holding Jeongguk’s gaze with this jarring intensity. Jeongguk reaches out to grip Hoseok’s thighs, feeling the tendons and the muscles shift, boldly slides his hands beneath the yellow material of Hoseok’s shorts. All that gorgeous tan skin beneath his touch. Fuck. Those thighs are on either side of Jeongguk’s waist and as he touches them Hoseok visibly shudders, sits up on Jeongguk’s lap, straddling him, hips grinding down and—

“Hyung,” Jeongguk does moan now, quite loudly, incapable of stopping the way his body arches up, seeking contact.

Hoseok’s eyes spark at that. He smiles the way he does when he’s doing a particularly sensual dance move and he knows, he fucking knows, exactly what he is doing. Hoseok bites his own lip and Jeongguk watches, transfixed.

Then there’s a moment—a pause. Where the facade of arousal and hormones get tucked aside for a second as Hoseok looks down at Jeongguk and says, “This okay with you?” Checking in with Jeongguk, making sure Jeongguk’s on the same page.

Jeongguk nods shakily, not trusting himself to speak. Partly because he’s so turned on and kissed out that he’s maybe on the verge of melting. Partly because it’s so much, it’s so very overwhelming, to feel so looked after and cared for and listened to.

The swell of affection rises like a bubble. And Jeongguk nods, more confident this time, whispers, “’S’okay. Touch me too, hyung. Touch me.”

And then Hoseok’s hands and lips are on him once more, and the bubble, the facade, the carefully crafted wall of obliviousness that Jeongguk himself has built over three years, bursts.

It occurs to Jeongguk, somewhere between Hoseok’s hands sliding up and under his shirt, touching his bare skin, somewhere around the direct point where Hoseok’s fingertips brush Jeongguk’s stomach, the intimate and softer part of him, somewhere around there, it occurs to Jeongguk that he might not have taken care of that freshman year crush as well as he’d thought.

Oh, says Gay Panic, finally making itself known at around the same time Jeongguk’s dick makes itself known, a weird and confusing combination. Oh, shit.

“This okay?” Hoseok asks again, like Jeongguk’s not pushing up into his touch. He mouths at Jeongguk’s neck, sucks at a spot that somehow has a direct line to Jeongguk’s belly, where something warm is blooming. His hands skim up further, brushing curiously over Jeongguk’s nipples.

“Hyung,” Jeongguk gasps, and the way his hips kick upwards is embarrassing, it’s so embarrassing. Lying vertical has him aware of his body in a way he wasn’t before, all the places he’s pressed against Hoseok. Five minutes ago he was upright and had at least a semblance of wits about himself but now—

“Shit,” Hoseok breathes, and Jeongguk’s hard, Jeongguk’s so hard, but so is Hoseok. Hoseok is hard, Jeongguk can feel him through his stupid yellow shorts with too much thigh showing. Can feel the heat of him, the swell between his legs that Jeongguk wants…wants.

Hoseok’s mouth comes down against his hard enough to bruise, and there, again, is the cold hard truth, barging into Jeongguk’s room and slapping him across the face again. Wake up bitch, you’re fuckin gay.

Okay. So Jeongguk caught feelings.

So Jeongguk got those feelings taxidermied instead of letting them go, setting them free. So Jeongguk went and mounted those feelings above a creepy shrine with romantic candles and all the shitty love songs he’s ever written dedicated to Jung Hoseok. So Jeongguk’s taken this metaphor to disturbing levels.

It’s not a big deal. It doesn’t mean this has to stop. Jeongguk doesn’t want to stop, not for all the world. Hoseok’s kissing him so deep, deep in a way Jeongguk didn’t think was possible when the human mouth only goes so far but somehow Hoseok’s kissing him deeper than anyone else has before. Kissing Jeongguk somewhere primal, like they’re already naked, like he’s already inside Jeongguk, everything deep and pulsing and mind-robbing and sweat-slick.

Practice kissing, Jeongguk had said, but that’s pretty much gone the fuck out the window. Along with Jeongguk’s dignity. Hoseok’s fingers trail up his sides, and Jeongguk shivers, arches off the bed into Hoseok, panting into his mouth.

Practice kissing, Jeongguk thinks to himself, as he wraps his arms around Hoseok’s neck to pull him closer, as Hoseok’s thigh settles between Jeongguk’s legs and rubs against him oh, oh god.

“Oh god,” says Jeongguk, aloud. “Please.”

Then, “Can I—?” as Hoseok’s fingers sweep along the waistband of Jeongguk’s sweatpants. Jeongguk nods jerkily, and Hoseok responds in kind by kissing his collarbone, pulling down his sweatpants, Jeongguk’s legs splaying as he’s left with nothing but a t-shirt and boxers and a very, very telling wet spot.

Hoseok stares down at Jeongguk for a pause, this gentle half-smile on his face. Jeongguk has no idea why he’s smiling, can’t quite work out why, but soon enough Hoseok’s leaning over Jeongguk again, capturing his mouth once more.

Jeongguk feels wild. His skin feels pulled tight, oversensitive, every point Hoseok touches him a livewire, every point of contact somehow sending directly to the warmth in his belly. He licks into Hoseok’s mouth, trying to get the traction he needs, but it’s not enough. He’s so hard, he’s never felt like this, he’s never felt so close to something and yet unable to satisfy it.

“What do you need, baby.” Hoseok’s voice washes over him with a wave of chills, makes his hair stand on end, makes his dick twitch in his boxers. “Tell hyung what you need.”

“I need—,” Jeongguk gasps uselessly at the ceiling, feeling half awake for how able he is to form coherent sentences. He wants Hoseok to kiss him. To bite him. To throw him up against a fucking wall.

Things have always been on a more physical level with Hoseok. Tackle hugs and tickle fights and chokeholds and dancing, so much dancing. It has always been about how to move together. Hoseok’s a physical person, and words, talking, have certainly never been Jeongguk’s strength as a human being.

He blinks up at Hoseok with wide eyes, skin throbbing.

“Kiss me,” Jeongguk breathes, and Hoseok is there between one breath and the next, taste of him in Jeongguk’s mouth and the smell of him in Jeongguk’s lungs. Thigh between Jeongguk’s legs but it’s still not enough so Jeongguk pushes Hoseok onto his back and climbs on top of him. Part of him doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing, but that’s okay. Hoseok is here, and he’s going to make sure Jeongguk pulls it off. Make sure Jeongguk feels good, doesn’t feel shy or embarrassed because that’s just what Hoseok does. It’s why he was perfect for this. It’s why he’s perfect, period.

It’s why Jeongguk straddles his thigh and kisses him like he’s dying.

He works his hips furiously, heat and friction and Hoseok’s hands on his back, his ass, his thighs, guiding him through the motions, always guiding him, always making sure he gets it right. Jeongguk screws his eyes closed, panting into Hoseok’s mouth, or maybe Hoseok’s panting into his, it’s so hard to tell. Desperate, moaning, all out of words and things to ask for. He doesn’t know how to ask for this, the spiraling hiking pleasure that he’s chasing. He feels himself edging closer and closer, heat in his gut, on his skin, and fuck, oh fuck, he’s going to come.

Hyung.”

“Go on, baby. It’s okay,” Hoseok soothes, takes Jeongguk’s face in his hands for one last messy kiss. “Let go, it’s okay.”

Jeongguk gasps into Hoseok’s mouth and lets go. Trembles and shakes and doesn’t stop moving until it’s too much, the pressure, the friction, the way it floods all his limbs like a shower of starlight, shuts all finer functions off as he falls apart.

He shakes as he comes down, aware of small sensations outside of himself, hands soothing over his back, rubbing small circles, lips at his jaw, peppering kisses down his neck and back up, a light kiss against his wet and open mouth, the hot mess seeping in his boxers.

“You alright there?” Harsh breathing, Hoseok’s voice, sounds like a smile, sounds comforting. Jeongguk’s aware he should probably be freaking out about it but Hoseok sounds so chill about all of this.

Jeongguk nods, and then flops over onto his back with a moan. His limbs are made of tacky putty and his brain is made of spongecake. He feels kind of fantastic. Lets himself float there for a few moments in that heady happy post-coital bliss, keeps reality at bay, a few feet away, also lying on the bed.

If this is kissing, if this is all the stuff that comes after, well, Jeongguk definitely wants more of that. Wants it with Hoseok. Would Hoseok be down for a round two of practice kissing? God he sure hopes so.

Jeongguk tries to steady his breathing, return back into his body. When his brain finally reconnects, he glances over at Hoseok, who is lying on his back, quiet.

“Oh my god,” blurts Jeongguk, immediately reaching for Hoseok. “You didn’t—here, sorry, let me—”

“Um, it’s okay, Jeonggukie,” says Hoseok, staring vacantly at the ceiling. “No big deal.”

Jeongguk pulls back, frowning. “Hyung, c’mon, that’s gotta be the worst. I’m not gonna leave you hanging, bro.”

“Bro,” says Hoseok, the tips of his ears almost as red as his hair. He gestures vaguely at his shorts and then shoots Jeongguk finger-guns. “Already taken care of.”

Jeongguk blinks. Props himself up on one elbow and turns on his side. “Wait, really?”

“Yeah.” Hoseok lets out a short laugh. “God, that’s embarrassing. Been a minute since I fooled around, I guess.”

Has it? Been a minute? Jeongguk could have sworn Hoseok was seeing people. He’s never known Hoseok to be in any sort of serious relationship in all the time that he’s know him, but he still figured Hoseok got around. Was at the very least casually dating or hooking up. He’s a social butterfly, it doesn’t seem like it’d be hard for him to find someone willing.

But then, he’d said yes to Jeongguk. So maybe the line of admirers wasn’t as long as Jeongguk had assumed.

Meanwhile, Hoseok continues to stare at the ceiling. The corners of his pretty pink mouth are downturned, like he’s thinking long and hard about something. Not like he’s angry, but maybe he’s a little bit sad.

“Why the dry spell?” Jeongguk jokes, because somewhere the conversation got off kilter, and he wants it back. He wants to go back to the joking. To the banter. “You holding out for someone special hyung?”

Hoseok turns on his side now too, props his head on his elbow, mirroring Jeongguk. He looks nervous. He looks vulnerable. He looks like something’s been eating at him for years on end (Jeongguk would know, he’s basically perfected the art of it).

“Yeah,” says Hoseok, the words delicate sounding. “Someone special.”

For the second time today, truth comes barging into the room and slaps Jeongguk right across the face with all its might.

He thinks of—

(Hoseok carrying Jeongguk up to his bed after a night at the bar, the night Yoongi tried to teach Jeongguk to hold his whisky to disastrous results. Jeongguk tumbling into the soft sheets and Hoseok not even hesitating to curl up against him when Jeongguk asks. The soothing way he speaks, even when Jeongguk’s got his head in the toilet the next morning.)

(Hoseok handing Jeongguk a red rose after practice with a be my valentine? Jeongguk feeling all kinds of embarrassed and weird. Hyung, you didn’t have to get me a pity rose just because I’m single, oh my god, you’re so ridiculous, but thank you, I love it. The fractured angle of Hoseok’s smile, blinding, still blinding, but warped and obscured by rain.)

(Hoseok at the local haunted corn maze that he got dragged to by all the other dance majors, rigid with anxiety as he lightly jogs down the path, nearly on the verge of a panic attack. The look on his face when Jeongguk skips over, tangles their hands together and swings them back and forth like they’re kids, starts singing Red Velvet songs at the top of his lungs as zombies approach.)

(Hoseok lying on the couch opposite of Jeongguk. They had ten-to-ten rehearsals all day, and Jeongguk had meant to come over and borrow Hoseok’s resistance band for stretching but had passed out instead. It’s Sunday morning. Cartoons are playing on the TV. Jeongguk pushes his socked feet against Hoseok’s and they make silly little circles in the air, laughing to themselves, sleepy and slaphappy.)

(Hoseok the first time Jeongguk had nailed a double pirouette. Really nailed it. The way his whole face brightened up. The way he rushed forward to smack a kiss onto Jeongguk’s cheek. Didn’t stop smiling for the rest of the damn day.)

(Hoseok, arriving late to Jeongguk’s birthday party after an audition with apologies and promises to make it up to him. Doing so the next weekend, a moonlit picnic in the park with fireflies. He buys Jeongguk a new lens for his camera, takes him to the local butterfly garden and lets him run wild.)

—there’s a lot Jeongguk is thinking about. He doesn’t realize how long he’s taking to think All of That until Hoseok is rolling off of the bed, moving away from Jeongguk.

You idiot, screams the truth, in a voice somehow startlingly reminiscent of both Park Jimin and Kim Namjoon, you absolute moron. you fucking nincompoop.

Oh fuck, thinks Jeongguk, oh my god.

“I’m gonna go change,” Hoseok mutters. And he doesn’t sound rude or curt but he’s not his normal sunshiney self which in Hoseok speak means that something is so, so wrong. “Feel free to use the shower if you wanna clean up. Um. Yeah.”

He’s headed towards the hallway and not looking at Jeongguk and all the things Jeongguk is thinking about amass into a gigantic screaming wave of panic that Jeongguk probably should have listened to the second Hoseok said yes to all this.

“HYUNG,” Jeongguk bursts.

Hoseok jumps and stills in the doorway, turns around. He looks a hot mess. His hair’s completely fucked and there are noticeable marks on his neck and a growing dark smudge on the front of those hideous shorts. Jeongguk’s sure he looks more or less the same amount of disgusting and wrecked. Debauched.

“Yeah, Jeonggukie?” he asks, a little wild-eyed.

“Hoseok-hyung.” Jeongguk sits up fully, brain working in stops and starts, still kind of reeling. “Do you think you can you teach me how to be a good boyfriend, too?”

For a long beat, Hoseok stares at him like he can’t believe what he’s hearing. His eyelashes flutter as he blinks rapidly. “Um. Uh, sure, yeah. Maybe not right away? I’m—I’m kind of busy over the next couple weeks but like. Yeah, boyfriend lessons. Why not? Ha. Sure, whatever you want, Jeonggukie.”

It’s blink-and-you-miss-it, but Jeongguk’s looking now. The tiniest downturn of Hoseok’s smile, the smallest most terrible grimace in history.

“I mean, I should just tell him, right? That I like him?”

“Yeah.” Hoseok smiles. Jeongguk doesn’t know how he does that. Smiles through a lie. Makes it look so easy. Makes everything look so easy, even when it’s clear that it’s very much the opposite. “Yeah, honesty’s always the best bet. But, boyfriend lessons might help too.”

“Cool.” Jeongguk nods, like he’s processing the advice. “Well, we can double task. I can learn on the job. Like, I can tell you I’m hella into you while you teach me how to be your boyfriend.”

Then he waits, heart in his throat.

“I’m sorry.” Hoseok gives a small shake of his head, like he’s got water in his ear. “Could—could you repeat that?”

“The ‘I want to teach me how to be your boyfriend’ part?”

Hoseok is absolutely pink in the face. “That too but also the. Hella into me part. Maybe.”

Jeongguk swallows, and it’s weird, because he should be nervous, should be halfway to panicking, but he isn’t. Not even a little bit. Not even at all.

“So, yeah. I’m hella into you. Like. Ridiculously. I’ve liked you for ages, hyung. I thought it was painfully obvious, I tried to hide it, and I realized halfway through this whole practice kissing thing that I was an idiot, and that those feelings hadn’t gone away at all. They were right there, and bigger than ever. So. I’m kind of a dumbass. I’m sorry it took so long for me to figure out but, yeah. I like you so so much. And I definitely want to be your boyfriend. And maybe also continue practice kissing because uh. That was pretty lit.”

The words fall through the air like glitter under a spotlight, sparkling and pretty and drawing all the attention from the room.

“You’re lying.”

“I—what?”

“Jeongguk, you cannot just tell me that you are hella into me.” Hoseok places a hand on his chest like he’s having palpitations. “What the fuck. You cannot spring that on me when I’ve liked you since literally forever.”

liked you since literally forever

And the thing is, Jeongguk knows this. By this point, he is more or less cognizant of a crush. But he still—

“You like me?” His voice comes out small. “Are you sure?”

“Jeon Jeongguk, I came in my pants.” Hoseok sounds like he’s on the verge of hysteria, or at least a very small internal explosion. “These are my favorite shorts. And I fucking nutted in them. Trust me, I am sure.”

It’s the worst romantic confession Jeongguk’s ever heard in his life, maybe in the history of all romantic confessions. He’s never been more in love.

Jeongguk groans, feeling punch drunk with joy. “That’s gross, hyung.”

The corners of Hoseok’s mouth finally begin to pull upwards. “I am well aware that I’m gross, Jeongguk, as I have been informed by all of our friends on multiple occasions. Yoongi-hyung started charging me on PayPal every time I talk about you. I have been gross since the beginning of time when it comes to you, and I don’t plan on stopping now.”

“I meant your shorts. Don’t tell me your mustard shorts are your favorite shorts. I’ll have to break up with you.”

“Well too bad,” Hoseok says, and he’s marching back across the room over to Jeongguk, like he’s going to tackle him or pretend choke him or maybe some combination of the two. “Didn’t you know? That’s the first lesson of being my boyfriend, Jeonggukie, so jot that down.”

He looks so giddy. He looks so alive. He stands between Jeongguk’s knees at the edge of the bed and Jeongguk swears that Hoseok is the very definition of happiness, of light bouncing off of mirrors, of sun bleeding color through stained glass, of wonder.

“What’s the lesson, hyung?” Jeongguk can hardly speak for how hard he is grinning.

“Lesson number one: never break up with me.”

“Ever?”

“Ever.” Hoseok smiles, and leans down to close the distance between their lips.

 

*

fin.