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sweet heart

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The lights inside the convenience store are too bright, harsh in contrast to the darkness of the street. Yoongi squints as he steps inside, and quickly shuffles toward the ramyeon aisle.

He’s cut back dramatically on his ramyeon intake in the past year, ever since he and Jeongguk moved in together, but tonight Jeongguk is working late and Yoongi doesn’t have the energy to cook for himself after ten hours of banging his head against excel spreadsheets. He barely spares the containers of instant noodles a second glance as he grabs one on autopilot and takes it up to the counter.

That’s when he sees it.

A soft-looking pink rabbit plush toy sits squeezed onto the very edge of a shelf to the left of the counter. Its ears are stylized to look like Pepero sticks, and it’s holding a box of the cookies in strawberry flavor. There’s a large discount sticker stuck to the box: 20% off, because it’s a full week past Pepero Day.

Yoongi has heard stories of people who walked into an animal shelter and knew the second they saw a specific dog or cat that they belonged together. He distantly thinks this feeling might be similar to that, a hollow feeling in his stomach and a sharp tug in his chest. The cashier scans his ramyeon and Yoongi locks eyes with the rabbit and he just knows— this pink bunny belongs to Jeongguk.

“Ah, wait, this too,” Yoongi mumbles, reaching out to grab the rabbit off the shelf. He sets it down on the counter. It has a white heart printed on it’s butt, which is— ridiculous, it’s utterly ridiculous, but it’s also somehow perfect.

The cashier picks up the toy and scans the price tag, then asks in a completely disinterested voice, “Do you need a bag?”

Twenty minutes later Yoongi is sitting at the tiny table in the apartment he shares with Jeongguk. The rabbit sits across from him, as if watching Yoongi eat his ramyeon. Yoongi appreciates the company. Their apartment isn’t very big, but somehow it feels enormous whenever Jeongguk isn’t here. Yoongi hadn’t bothered to put the blinds down, and their windows look out into the night. Glittering city lights and streams of headlights far below, pretty and impersonal.

Jeongguk’s job as a makeup artist necessitates odd hours. The movie he’s working with right now is filming a night scene today, and his shift was penciled in for a solid twelve hours from 5pm to 5am. He’ll need to be back out to the filming site again by ten tomorrow morning.

Yoongi hopes Jeongguk is doing okay, that he remembered to eat dinner and take hot packs with him to the filming site. He worries a lot about the irregular hours, worries about Jeongguk’s health, but he also knows how much Jeongguk loves his job. This movie is some historical thing, and Jeongguk has been gushing nonstop about how gorgeous the costuming is and how lucky he feels to be able to work with such talented people.

Yoongi smiles into his ramyeon, remembering the way Jeongguk’s eyes had sparkled that morning as he talked about color swatches over breakfast. It will all be worth it, he knows, when the final product comes out. When he and Jeongguk go to the theater, and Jeongguk leans in close, lips brushing Yoongi’s ear as he tells him about what he helped with in each scene.

Yoongi looks up, and the fluffy pink bunny is staring back. Despite himself, Yoongi smiles at it.

The thing is, he and Jeongguk don’t really do gifts, at least not for holidays. Jeongguk gets overwhelmed by the pressure of needing to find the perfect present, and Yoongi is opposed to commercialism dictating how he should express affection.

Instead, they try to spend holidays together. Sometimes they’ll go on dates—an auditory art exhibition for Yoongi’s birthday, a day at the amusement park for Jeongguk’s, a chilly walk in the park on Valentine’s—but more often than not they just end up on the couch. Tangled together as a movie plays in the background, gentle touches and feather-light kisses.

It’s unheard of for Yoongi to buy Jeongguk a holiday-specific gift. Especially for Pepero Day of all days— the textbook example of a holiday created by a company purely to boost their sales. But this… this is right. Yoongi can feel it, a fuzzy warmth beneath his breastbone.

He finishes his ramyeon. Washes his chopsticks and rinses out the container. It’s not that late yet, but he gets ready for bed anyway, showers and changes into his softest pajamas. When he’s done, he hesitates in the living room. He tilts his head, considering the rabbit on the table for a moment before picking it up and settling it on Jeongguk’s vanity. He tucks it between a box of foundations and a massive eyeshadow palette. He pats it on the head, just once, then climbs the stairs to their loft and crawls into bed.

Once he’s snug beneath the covers, Yoongi pulls out his phone. He texts Jeongguk, lets him know he got home and had dinner— and is surprised when he almost immediately gets a reply. The filming is going well, Jeongguk says, and he has some downtime. Yoongi bites back a smile. They chat until Yoongi falls asleep, phone in hand.

Yoongi isn’t sure exactly what wakes him—if it’s the soft exclamation of surprise from downstairs or the patter of socked feet on the stairs—but by the time the mattress dips he has his eyes cracked open.

Hyung,” Jeongguk says. He’s whispering, but his voice is bursting with barely contained excitement. “Hyung, are you awake?”

“Nn,” Yoongi replies, turning his head toward Jeongguk— only to have something shoved in his face.

“Hyung, did you get this for me?”

Yoongi squints at the blurry pink blob in his field of vision before yawning widely.

“Mm,” he says. “Nope. Must’ve been the Pepero fairy.”

Jeongguk giggles, pitching over until he’s halfway on top of Yoongi, who lets out a quiet oof of surprise.

“It’s not even Pepero Day. That was a week ago, hyung, oh my god.”

Yoongi grunts, shifting so that Jeongguk isn’t squishing him quite as badly. He considers trying to keep up the con, seeing how long he can spin his yarn, but he’s too sleepy for that level of brain power right now.

“Yeah, well. It was on sale, and it made me think of you.”

Jeongguk laughs again, delighted, and buries his face against Yoongi’s shoulder.

“It’s so cute, hyung. You’re so cute. I love it, I love you.”

Yoongi brings his arms up, wraps them around Jeongguk, rests his cheek against Jeongguk’s hair. He’s solid and comforting and smells like the city, with just a faded hint of his favorite cologne. Yoongi breathes deep.

“Love you, too.”

Jeongguk hums and wiggles happily. Yoongi grunts again, moving his arms to accommodate Jeongguk squirming closer. He always feels like he can breathe more easily with Jeongguk tucked up against him— even if right now Jeongguk’s doing his best to squish all the air out of Yoongi’s lungs.

“What time is it?” Yoongi asks, starting to card his fingers through Jeongguk’s hair.

“A little after four. The filming wrapped up early.”

“Wow,” Yoongi drawls. “That’s a first.”

“I know,” Jeongguk says with more breathless laughter, soft and warm like summer. Then he shifts again, reaching for something, and suddenly the pink rabbit reappears. Jeongguk sits it on Yoongi’s shoulder and plays with one of the ears.

“I’m gonna call it Cooky,” he says decisively. “You know, because Pepero cookies.”

Yoongi groans and wrinkles his nose. “Really?”

“Yup,” Jeongguk says, popping the ‘p’, and then dissolves into laughter again. This time Yoongi can’t help but laugh along. He’s not sure what’s so funny, exactly, but it’s four in the morning and he has to be up in in less than three hours, and the man he loves is here with him and happy, so Yoongi is happy too.

“Go wash up,” Yoongi eventually says, reaching down to smack Jeongguk’s butt. “You smell like that nasty instant coffee.”

Jeongguk snorts, but obligingly hauls himself upright into a sitting position. “Fine,” he says, then shoves Cooky toward Yoongi’s face. Yoongi whines, jerking his head back.

“Watch it, you’re going to take my eye out with the Pepero box.”

“Oops, sorry.”

Jeongguk holds the bunny up and with careful, gentle fingers removes the box of cookies from its grip. He sets the box aside somewhere and settles the toy against Yoongi’s chest.

“There. Keep Cooky company, ‘kay?”

Yoongi nods, automatically curling a protective hand around the fluffy pink fur. It’s a poor excuse for Jeongguk’s warmth, but he supposes it’s better than nothing. He looks up and finds Jeongguk smiling down at him, washed golden in the low light from downstairs. There’s so much love in his eyes, in his entire being, that sometimes Yoongi wonders how he manages to keep it all in. Wonders what he did to deserve having even a fraction of that love directed at him.

Suddenly Jeongguk ducks down again, hands braced against the pillow as he kisses Yoongi softly. Yoongi lets out a small sigh, leaning into the touch. Jeongguk’s lips are smooth from the brown sugar and honey lip scrub he makes (and sometimes cajoles Yoongi into using together with him). He’s gentle, using just the right amount of pressure as he catches and tugs on Yoongi’s bottom lip.

Yoongi whines deep in his throat when he pulls away, and Jeongguk placates him with a brush of lips against his temple.

“Thank you,” Jeongguk murmurs against his skin.

“Welcome,” Yoongi whispers back.

There’s a lot more he wants to say. Anytime, and anything for you, and I wish I could give you the entire world. But Jeongguk is already pulling away, sitting up on his knees and shuffling backward until he’s at the edge of the mattress. He stands too quickly, and only the instinct honed by a year of practice keeps him from banging his head on the ceiling. Yoongi watches him with a smile, too tired to make any attempt at keeping all of his big, mushy feelings off his face.

Jeongguk grins back and waves at him, silly and sweet, then disappears back down the stairs.

Yoongi dozes with Cooky clutched to his chest, listening to Jeongguk putter around downstairs. The rustling of fabric and the distant sound of running water in the bathroom are familiar and comforting. Yoongi keeps his eyes closed as he drifts, only blinking them back open when Jeongguk climbs back into bed. It’s dark now, lights turned out, and the mattress dips as Jeongguk gets under the blankets.

Yoongi must make some sort of noise, because Jeongguk mumbles, “Sorry, sorry,” and quickly scoots over to pull Yoongi against his chest. Yoongi goes easily. He’s vaguely aware of the fact that he’s holding the bunny while Jeongguk holds him.

“Night, hyung,” Jeongguk says.

“Night,” Yoongi replies. He tips his head up, aiming to kiss Jeongguk, but the world is fuzzy with sleep. He misses, kissing Jeongguk’s chin instead. He makes a disgruntled noise and tries again. This time he hits the corner of Jeongguk’s mouth.

Jeongguk giggles, sweet sweet sweet, and tilts his head down just enough to peck Yoongi’s lips. Yoongi sighs, content, and tucks his head against Jeongguk’s chest. He can hear Jeongguk’s heartbeat, feel Jeongguk’s fingers running gently through his hair, and he falls asleep like that— safe in Jeongguk’s arms. Warm, and loving, and loved.