yoongi shoves his hands further into his pockets, bags of groceries hanging heavy on his wrists and banging against his legs, watching idly as his breath smokes up into the cold air. it makes him think of the incense sticks he lit early this morning before he left his home. for safe passage, his grandma used to say. yoongi just does it now because it reminds him of her.
he’s on his way back home, now, having forced himself earlier to brace the cold and head towards the nearest bus stop that took him to town, which is still a twenty minute walk. a snowstorm was coming, the first big one of the season, and he needed to stock up on supplies before he was inevitably holed up for a few days. his grandma’s house is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but trees and a small pond. nice, if you liked peace and quiet. but a bit inconvenient for times like these.
it’s when he’s almost home, that he sees him.
a boy, kneeling in the snow, dressed in a white and gold hanbok, his dark hair and tan skin the only thing keeping him from being invisible in the neverending white landscape. he stares at the figure for a moment, stunned. eventually, yoongi begins to walk towards him, but his crunching footsteps seems to alert the other of his presence. the boy turns and looks up at him, and yoongi immediately freezes.
blood covers the boy’s mouth and chin, dripping down and staining the front of his hanbok. the red contrasts brightly with the white silk fabric. the boy’s eyes flash gold, tears streaming down the boy’s cheeks, bottom lip trembling. his fingers grip the silk of his hanbok. yoongi’s eyes follow the movement a bit belatedly, realizing the boy’s fingers are also stained crimson.
yoongi’s heart begins to pound. not because he’s afraid, (though he’ll admit that he is,) but because despite all the blood and gore on the boy’s body, despite the bloodshot eyes and tears—
the boy is still unbelievably beautiful.
snow begins to fall as the two of them stare at each other. the boy says nothing, simply looks at yoongi with blank eyes.
“a snowstorm is coming,” yoongi says, not even realizing he’s saying it until the words are out in the air, curling with his foggy breaths.
silence. yoongi walks closer until his toes are a few inches away from the other’s knees. the boy looks up at him, his big round eyes somehow even more molten gold up close. the blood has started to dry and crust over on the boy’s tearstained face.
beautiful, he’s beautiful .
he sits down in front of the boy, knees touching. yoongi unravels his scarf, and starts soaking it through the shallow snow that had accumulated the past few weeks from light snow falls, before carefully bringing it to the other’s face. the boy flinches, but doesn’t move as yoongi does his best to gently wipe the blood off the other’s face, gold eyes unwavering in their stare.
in the end he mostly just smears the blood around, but pale pink lips are finally visible, a small freckle beneath the bottom lip. his scarf is red. how unbelievably fitting. “do you have a place to stay?” he asks the boy, after he’s finished. he wraps the scarf around the boy’s neck, realizing he must be freezing wearing that thin hanbok.
silence. red scarf, red blood. an encounter in the woods. it’s fate, he hears his grandma say in his mind, and yoongi takes a moment to consider the pros and cons of talking to a stranger covered in blood in the middle of the woods, before eventually deciding to fuck it all. “my house is nearby,” he begins, standing up. “you’ll die out here. stay until the storm passes.”
yoongi holds out his hand. after a few moments of hesitation, the boy takes it.
his fingers stain yoongi’s own fingers crimson red.
by the time they reach yoongi’s house, the snow has started to fall in heavy clumps, catching onto their hair and clothes, their trail of footprints disappearing slowly as the snow continues to fall. yoongi had given the boy his jacket a while ago. to his surprise, the boy had also grabbed a few of yoongi’s grocery bags, tugging on them and looking at yoongi with wide eyes when he first looked at the other in confusion. yoongi feels like those eyes almost don’t belong on a face stained with blood.
“this is it,” yoongi says a bit unnecessarily, as they walk down the snow covered dirt path leading to his house. for a shabby cottage in the woods, yoongi thinks his house is alright—it’s two stories, made of both wood and stone, the window panes and porch railings painted a deep green. chairs are placed on the porch, but have been covered in tarp ever since the first snowfall. it looks a lot better in the spring or summer, or even the fall. In the winter it just looks washed out, like it doesn’t belong in the woods.
the porch stairs creak as they walk up to the front door. he fumbles with his pockets for his keys for a few moments before eventually snatching them out and unlocking the door.
the incense he lit this morning in front of his family’s shrine has long since burnt out, but the air is still tinged with its smell. the inside of the house is just as simple as the outside— a small table people kneeled down to eat, a messy kitchen with lots of cupboards, a couch covered in blankets, and a soot stained fireplace. a piano sits in the corner by the window. there’s no TV, because yoongi’s grandma hated it. it doesn’t really matter, because yoongi gets cell phone service and wifi, so it’s not like he’s completely cut off from the modern world.
“you can set the bags here,” he says, placing them on the kitchen counter. the boy follows suit, before gingerly taking off the scarf and jacket. he hands them back to yoongi with a small bow. The leftover blood has all but crusted all over the boy’s skin. it looks uncomfortably stifling.
“I’ll show you the bathroom,” yoongi says, after a pause. he starts heading up the stairs, the boy following silently behind. “you can wash up, I’ll get you some clothes. yours are probably ruined.”
the boy looks down at his feet, nodding. yoongi has about a thousand questions on his tongue, why were you there, what happened to you, who are you , but grits his teeth and holds it in. the boy takes the towel gratefully before slipping into the bathroom, closing the door shut.
yoongi’s sitting on the couch, nursing a cup of hot coffee by the time the boy walks downstairs, engulfed in one of yoongi’s hoodies and his baggiest sweatpants. the pants are still a little short, cutting off above his ankles. the fireplace is now set alight, fire flickering and covering the area in an orange tinged glow.
without the blood on the boy’s face, he looks even more enchanting, so much that yoongi’s taken back. he opens his mouth to speak, but stops when he sees the boy wander around, eyes flickering back and forth as he studies the room around him. his gaze lands on the piano in the corner. on top of the lid of the piano, fox figurines line up side by side, as if following each other on some unknown path.
“red foxes,” the boy says, moving to sit on the piano bench, and yoongi starts, surprised at the sound of the boy’s soft voice. the boy turns, and something in his eyes makes yoongi’s heart pound. his skin glows gold in the light. ethereal .
“y-yeah,” yoongi squeaks out, before clearing his throat. “uh. I kinda...had a fox phase, when I was younger. always made my parents get me books about them, had a bunch of pictures and toys of them, that sort of thing. my grandma always gave me fox things, even when the obsession faded out. red foxes were my favorite, so...”
“why?” the boy asks, turning back to look at the little figurines.
yoongi pauses. rubs the back of his neck a bit self consciously. “I saw a real one, out here, when I was a kid. A red fox.”
a few moments of silence pass, the only sound being the crackling of the fire.
“red foxes are rare, around here,” the boy eventually says, gazing out the window. “it must have been fate.”
yoongi blinks. “I guess so.”
this time, when the boy turns around, there’s a small smile on his lips. yoongi is enchanted. “do you not believe in fate, yoongi?”
he freezes. the boy stays oblivious, attention turned back towards the piano keys.
“how do you know my name?”
the boy stiffens, eyes widening. “I-I saw it,” the boy stutters out, eventually, “in your room. you have a bunch of letters on your desk.”
he relaxes. “so you snooped around, basically,” yoongi states, raising an eyebrow. the boy flushes looking down at his hands.
“I-I’m sorry,” he mumbles, looking like a kicked puppy.
yoongi breathes out a chuckle. usually he’d be more bothered, but—usually he never lets strangers into his house.
“I do,” he says eventually, causing the boy to look at him in confusion. “believe in fate, that is. more than I wish I did.”
the boy hums his agreement. “it’s hard to fight fate,” he murmurs softly, fingers gently brushing against the fox figurines.
yoongi clears his throat. “since you know my name, do I get to know yours?”
a timid smile stretches across the boy’s lips. “jeongguk,” he answers.
“well, jeongguk,” he begins, “I’m gonna start cooking dinner. fried rice sound good?”
“ah,” jeongguk starts. he fidgets, playing with his fingers. “um. n-no meat. I can’t eat meat.”
“oh,” yoongi blinks in surprise, “that’s fine. I won’t add meat, then.”
about an hour later, the two of them are kneeling around the dinner table, a pan of kimchi fried rice placed on a cloth in the center because yoongi’s too lazy to actually move it from the pan. jeongguk’s looking out the window. snow falls heavily outside, wind blowing harshly. the sky has already darkened, winter days short and melancholic.
he places a mug filled with milk in front of jeongguk. it’s one of the mugs his grandma gave to him a long time ago, in the shape of a fox, the handle of the mug being its tail.
jeongguk looks at the mug and smiles.
when yoongi wakes up the next morning, jeongguk’s nowhere in sight.
he panics a little, staring at the neatly folded blankets on the otherwise empty bed, before glancing out the window. It’s still snowing outside, though not as hard as it was last night. he quickly slips on his jacket and hat, hurrying down the stairs and out the front door—
only to see jeongguk sitting down at the front porch steps.
jeongguk glances back at him, gold eyes flashing brightly in the light, before turning back around. “good morning,” he greets quietly, tucking the blanket he has wrapped around himself more tightly around his shoulders.
“good morning,” yoongi greets back after a pause. he moves to sit down next to the other.
they’re sitting down on the top step, so they’re safely blocked from the snowfall, except for their feet. jeongguk’s barefoot, but doesn’t seem to mind the chill.
“how long have you been out here?” yoongi asks.
“not too long,” he answers. yoongi waits to see if the boy says anything else, but he doesn’t.
he clears his throat. “come inside,” he murmurs, “it’s cold out here.”
jeongguk hesitates, before eventually nodding, standing up. when they’re inside, yoongi grabs some incense sticks and his lighter. he kneels down at the small shrine he managed to put together on a small table against the wall, his parents taking one side of the table while his grandma takes the other side. his grandma’s shrine for Buddha was mounted directly above. for a minute he just stares at the pictures, blinking at them almost blankly. he feels jeongguk settling down beside him, but he doesn’t look over at the other.
“your family?” the boy asks quietly.
yoongi swallows thickly, before nodding. “yeah. um,” he begins awkwardly, gesturing to the incense sticks, “I’m just gonna—”
“me too,” jeongguk says.
yoongi stares at him. “you want to pray to my family that you’ve never met?”
jeongguk just nods, looking at him expectantly. yoongi stutters out a laugh, handing the boy three incense sticks. he grabs three for himself before lighting them all up. he closes his eyes and holds them up to his forehead. the shuffling of jeongguk’s clothes makes yoongi think the other is doing the same.
his grandma would always pray every morning, with the chants and all, hitting the wooden fish shaped temple block in steady rhythms. yoongi never does that, never really learned how, but he always makes sure to do this. his grandma was the one who made him pray to his parents with her every morning and would probably smack him across the face if he didn’t set up a shrine for her.
when they’re finished they place the incense sticks into the little cup yoongi placed between the picture frames. the two of them stare at the smoke rising from the incense sticks for a moment, before yoongi stands up, knees cracking.
“breakfast?” he asks.
as he’s making coffee for himself, jeongguk curiously peers over his shoulder. “want some?”
jeongguk nods, moving to the sink to grab the fox mug yoongi had given him to drink out of last night. he places the mug next to yoongi almost timidly. yoongi smiles.
outside, the snow continues to fall.
“do you play?”
yoongi looks up from the lyrics he scrawled into his notebook, just as jeongguk gestures towards the piano. the boy’s sitting next to him on the couch, clutching a pillow to his chest. up until now, he’d just been quietly staring out the window, watching the snowflakes fall down and down and down.
yoongi clears his throat. “yeah, I do.”
jeongguk fidgets, wringing his hands. “will you play for me?”
the hopeful look in jeongguk’s eyes makes it too hard to say no. yoongi stands up and moves to plop down on the piano bench, rolling up his sleeves. he gently places his hands on the keys, taking a calming breath before beginning to play.
it’s the song he always plays for others— a well known old tune that brings a smile to everyone’s face, one that isn’t too difficult to play. he’d always play it for his grandma, and she’d laugh and clap her hands to the beat.
he finishes, the final notes ringing in the air as he slowly lifts his hands. he turns to look back at jeongguk, doing a double take when he sees the boy smile widely, eyes bright. his heart stutters.
jeongguk claps excitedly. “another one?”
“um,” yoongi stares, blinking at the other. “sure.”
another song turns into three.
his grandma left him this house in her will.
it didn't surprise him that much. he was living with her for years already, after his parents died, though he moved to the city for a few years for college.
but then she passed away, and yoongi immediately moved back to the little home in the woods, away from everyone else. started taking classes online, got a job through connections with his music production professor, that only required him sending in song files and biweekly meetings with his supervisor.
so now he writes songs, for the whole world, in his little home in the woods.
“why don’t you move back into the city, hyung,” jimin always asks him, whenever they meet. “you’re all by yourself out there, aren’t you lonely? it’s better to be closer to everything else.”
namjoon tries a bit of a different approach, but overall still argues for the same thing. “maybe just live back here in the winter, at least,” he’d say, “I worry about you whenever there’s a snowfall, hyung.”
seokjin doesn’t like that yoongi’s out here either, but he’s long given up on trying to convince yoongi otherwise. instead he just checks in after every storm, always comes at least once every month no matter what, bringing food and lectures about how yoongi should check back with the others once in a while.
taehyung seems to be the only one who understands.
“this place is a part of your family,” he said one time, “I wouldn’t give it up either.”
aren’t you lonely?
he is, a little. but yoongi would never admit that.
it becomes a routine.
each morning they’d wake up together and pray at the shrine, before yoongi would make a pot of coffee. they’d sit across from each other and eat breakfast, (no meat,) sometimes talking, sometimes not. yoongi would wash the dishes while jeongguk would dry them, and then they’d spend the rest of the day however they saw fit. sometimes, yoongi plays the piano, jeongguk listening on the couch with closed eyes and a small smile. other times, jeongguk asks asks asks about everything and nothing, and yoongi answers answers answers, until it’s one am and they’re talking about something like how soft kitten paws are.
it hits yoongi suddenly, one morning, as he’s drinking his coffee, that he’s not alone. that the things he used to always do by himself, jeongguk was doing with him. that the empty spaces he didn’t know existed in his life were suddenly being filled.
he glances over at the other. right now jeongguk is pouring himself his own cup of coffee, humming quietly to himself. as if feeling yoongi’s gaze, the boy looks up, gold eyes glancing at him questioningly.
yoongi just shakes his head. “it’s nothing.”
the snow stops falling, the snowstorm passing. neither of them mentions it.
“hyung makes music?” jeongguk asks, the pronoun sounding a bit foreign in the other’s voice. it’s been about a month since he first arrived here. before he’d just been calling yoongi by his name, only to have yoongi berate him a bit slightly.
(“call me hyung at least, if you aren’t going to to do anything else.” because he just knows he’s older than jeongguk.
jeongguk blinks at him, before releasing a loud laugh, one that causes yoongi’s heart to quiver. “fine. hyung.” )
“yeah,” yoongi mumbles back, turning around in his chair to face the other. they were both in his room, jeongguk sitting on yoongi’s bed and watching the other do his work at his desk. “I make songs and sell them.”
jeongguk frowns. “sell all of them?”
“no,” he answers. “I post some of them online for free. and...some of them are just for me.”
jeongguk stares at him for a few moments, a small smile on his face. his eyes are gold, gold, gold, his hair a mess on his head, and he looks small wrapped in blankets and yoongi’s oversized hoodies. “can I listen to those ones, hyung? the ones just for you.”
yoongi pauses, biting his lip. “maybe one day.”
“what happened to them?” jeongguk asks one morning, after they’ve finished praying. his gaze stays focused on the two picture frames. the boy looks a bit afraid of his question.
“car crash,” yoongi answers simply, maybe a bit detachedly. people never know how to approach the subject of death and grief— some do it awkwardly, some do it annoyingly, some are actually quite sincere. yoongi knows most of the time, they mean well, even if their words of comfort can be a bit meaningless sometimes. but whenever the topic comes up, it’s easy to see how people get uncomfortable, how they sometimes stiffen up and do their best to stumble out words, afraid of sounding unsympathetic or insincere. it makes him feel like a drag to everyone else. he doesn’t really talk about his parents or his grandma anymore, and when he does, it’s blunt and short. “I was fifteen. ended up staying here with my grandma until she passed away.”
jeongguk doesn’t say anything right away. the boy looks contemplative, eyes looking at the pictures but focusing on something far away. “I’ve lost someone, too,” the boy eventually says. “some days they barely pass through my mind. other days they’re all I can think about.” the boy rests his head on his knees. “even though it’s been a long time, it still feels like something’s missing.”
it’s then, that yoongi realizes, that maybe, just maybe, jeongguk was lonely, too.
honestly, yoongi still doesn’t know anything about jeongguk. he’s almost too afraid to ask. but the image of jeongguk’s face and hands covered in blood is still almost painfully visible in his mind, and he’s not sure if he’ll ever forget the sight.
still, he doesn’t ask. and jeongguk never brings it up.
today, he’s grilling some meat for himself, just a little bit of steak. jeongguk isn’t in the house. he’s out somewhere in the forest, bundled up in yoongi’s red scarf— something he’s been doing a lot quite recently, bracing the cold. he’s sure it’ll be fine as long as he doesn’t give jeongguk any meat.
but when jeongguk comes back, eyes glowing, his face immediately pales at the sight of meat on the stove.
“h-hyung,” jeongguk chokes out, covering his nose as if the scent of cooked meat repulsed him, “I thought— I thought I said no meat.”
“it’s just for me,” yoongi explains, a bit confused, before jeongguk suddenly falls roughly onto his knees, panting heavily as he hunches over, hands still covering his nose.
“oh my god, jeongguk are you—”
“throw it out!” jeongguk yells out, and yoongi’s so surprised by the fact that jeongguk raised his usually soft and gentle voice that he freezes. “hyung, just— throw it outside, just take it far away—”
the desperateness in his tone shakes yoongi out of his stupor, immediately grabbing the pan, running outside in his bare feet, wincing at the cold feeling of snow as he flings the meat off the pan like he was swinging a baseball bat, before rushing back inside.
“guk,” yoongi pants out, rushing over to the boy. jeongguk’s still on the ground, though his breathing has evened out a bit, hands covering his mouth and nose. “fuck. I’m sorry—”
“it’s okay,” jeongguk cuts in, straightening and tucking his face into the space between yoongi’s neck and shoulder. he tenses, but jeongguk doesn’t seem to mind. he feels jeongguk breathe him in, basically sniffing him, and like. okay, whatever, yoongi can deal with that, though he feels a flush of warmth spreads through his cheeks. “you didn’t know, hyung.”
I still don’t know , yoongi thinks to himself. he wants to ask what the fuck just happened, but with the way jeongguk’s still shaken up, he decides to hold his tongue. hesitantly he reaches up to run his fingers through the other’s hair. the boy makes a strange sound in his throat, almost like a purr.
“what did you do with the meat?” jeongguk asks after a little while, and yoongi can feel the movement of his lips on his skin.
“I just chucked it outside somewhere,” he answers. without thinking, he adds, “the foxes will eat it.”
“hyung?” jeongguk calls out, later that night. the rest of the day had been pretty uneventful, the two of them just doing whatever they felt like. yoongi spent a good chunk of the day staring out the window, debating if it was worth the trek through the snow to go back into town. his winter storm food stash was almost completely gone— if he didn’t count the meat he had frozen in his fridge.
yoongi looks up from his book. currently he’s sitting on his bed, snuggled under the covers, ready for bed. jeongguk’s by the door to his room, looking in hesitantly. he has his hood pulled up and a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. pretty, he can’t help but think. jeongguk always looks pretty to him.
yoongi swallows. “yeah, guk?”
jeongguk fidgets. “can I sleep here tonight?”
there’s an awkward pause, yoongi staring blankly at the other for a moment, jeongguk looking more unsure of himself by the second, before yoongi suddenly blurts out, “sure.”
the boy’s expression brightens. yoongi scoots over to make a bit more room, putting his book down on his nightstand as jeongguk slides under the covers, but jeongguk immediately scoots close anyway, curling towards him, ducking under his arm to tuck himself into the crook of yoongi’s shoulder. he stiffens a little, and forces himself to relax, but jeongguk feels it anyway.
“sorry,” the boy mumbles, scooting away, “I should’ve asked—”
yoongi tugs him back in, heart racing. “no, it’s— it’s fine. I was just surprised.”
jeongguk’s silent for a moment, before he relaxes in yoongi’s embrace, burying his face closer. he has a suspicion that the boy’s smelling him again, but decides to ignore it— until he feels jeongguk sniff him again.
“do I smell nice, or something?” he asks, and immediately wishes to cut off his tongue.
“oh,” jeongguk begins a bit timidly. yoongi glances down at the other just in time to see the boy’s ears turn red. “you noticed, huh.”
“uh, yeah,” he says, “I don’t— mind it, or anything. I was just wondering.”
“I like the way you smell,” jeongguk admits shyly, burying his face closer to yoongi’s neck, possibly to hide his blush. “it relaxes me.”
and yoongi really doesn’t know how to unpack that. he feels his own face flush with heat.
“is that why you wanted to sleep here?” he asks. it’s silent for a moment, before he feels jeongguk nod into his neck. “oh. okay. that’s fine, I don’t mind.”
a few moments pass. unthinkingly, yoongi begins to run his hand up and down jeongguk’s side, causing him to sigh and shift closer. it feels nice, to be close to someone like this, he can’t help but think. even nicer that it’s jeongguk.
“hyung,” jeongguk suddenly breathes out, raising his head to look at him. their faces are only a few inches apart, and he feels frozen in place by jeongguk’s golden gaze. beautiful. he’s beautiful, and yoongi’s known this since he first saw jeongguk, but it’s almost different now. different, because he knows how disoriented and cute jeongguk looks in the morning. knows the way the boy’s eyes crinkle when he smiles wide. knows the notes of his laugh and the gentle way he says yoongi’s name.
“yeah?” he responds just as softly.
jeongguk blinks down at him, eyelashes fluttering, lips parting, and for a second, yoongi thinks he’s going to kiss him— and what a wild thought that was, a wish he didn’t even realize he had until now— when the boy backs away, dropping his gaze with a small smile that looks a bit off. “nevermind. goodnight, hyung.”
the boy snuggles back into his chest. yoongi blinks. takes a moment to undo the tightening of his chest and slow down his racing heart. tries to not be disappointed, as he tightens his grip around jeongguk’s waist.
they fall asleep like that, tangled close together.
it’s a few days later that he forces himself to go buy some groceries.
jeongguk tags a long of course, even though yoongi says he doesn’t have to. he hums quietly as they walk to the bus stop, hands in his pockets, red scarf around his neck. their shoulders bump into each other occasionally when they walk.
after that night, something had changed between them, though yoongi can’t exactly pinpoint it. one easy to see change was that where before jeongguk was a lot more reserved in touching yoongi and entering his space, now it’s as if the younger can’t stop touching him. when yoongi’s washing the dishes the other wraps his arms around his waist. when he’s reading a book on the couch the boy will plop down next to him and rest his head on yoongi’s shoulder.
yoongi can’t say he minds it. in fact, he doesn’t mind it at all.
“I’ve never been to the city,” jeongguk admits after they’ve gotten on the bus, yoongi unable to hold in his smile as the boy looked around the bus with big wide eyes. “are there a lot of people?”
“kind of,” yoongi responds. “not as much people as there would be in bigger cities. have you just lived in the countryside for all your life?”
jeongguk stares at him, before turning away. it’s then that yoongi realizes this is probably the first time he’s asked something personal about jeongguk.
“I’ve only lived in the woods,” the boy replies, a distant look in his eyes.
“oh,” he responds, and is about to ask more, like, in a house like mine? or, what do you mean? when suddenly jeongguk huffs and cuddles close, head resting on yoongi’s shoulder.
“hyung, I’m hungry.”
yoongi blinks. “what? we just ate breakfast not even an hour ago. you had like, three bowls.”
jeongguk pouts. “but I’m still hungry.”
he can’t help but snort, reaching up to pat the boy’s head. “we’ll pick up something when we get to town, then.” he’s honestly not sure if there are many vegetarian options in town, but they’ll figure it out later.
when the bus pulls into the beginnings of the city, jeongguk’s face stays glued to the window, making yoongi smile. he taps the boy’s shoulder when it’s their stop, jeongguk following eagerly behind him as they step off the bus.
the boy’s nose scrunches. “there’s so many smells here,” he mumbles, making yoongi stare at him curiously.
“I guess,” he replies. it smells like any old place to him.
the shopping district is a bit busy today, people constantly brushing up against each other, probably because it’s the weekend. jeongguk gets off track easily, intrigued by too many things. (the water fountain, the man busking on the sidewalk, and the large golden retriever a pedestrian was walking. in that order.) yoongi resorts to clutching the boy’s hand so they don’t get separated. jeongguk giggles at this, swinging their arms between them happily.
they give the barbeque place a wide berth so that jeongguk doesn’t get overwhelmed by the smell. it’s then that jeongguk suddenly pulls on his arm, making him stop. “yeah?”
“I wanna go there,” jeongguk says, pointing to the brightly colored ice cream shop across the street.
yoongi frowns. “I thought you said you were hungry.”
“I am!” jeongguk insists, while tugging on his arm again.
“ice cream isn’t a meal,” he chides, even as he lets the other drag him to the shop.
jeongguk beams at him, practically skipping in excitement. “I’ve only had ice cream once, but it was really good.”
“seriously?” he replies, eyes wide. “only once?”
“yeah, with hobi-hyung,” jeongguk says, before opening the door of the store. he’s about to ask who this “hobi-hyung” actually is, especially since it’s the first time jeongguk’s mentioned anything specific about his life voluntarily, only to have jeongguk cut him off with an impressed sound. “wow, look at all the flavors!”
the store is pretty much empty. it’s pretty cold outside, so he supposes not many people want to eat ice cream in this weather. the worker smiles professionally at them as jeongguk ooh’s and ah’s over their display. for a moment yoongi just stares at him. with jeongguk wrapped cutely in his red scarf, hair a bit askew and cheeks pink from the cold wind, lips pouting just slightly as he decides which flavor to choose— for some reason, yoongi feels awfully out of his element. feels his heart rush with some sort of unknown warmth, almost as if it doesn’t belong to him anymore.
“should I get coconut or green tea?” jeongguk asks, and it’s only when the boy turns to look at him, gold eyes flashing that yoongi snaps out of his daze. “hyung?”
“coconut,” he blurts out unthinkingly. to his horror, jeongguk pouts again, increasing the tug on his heart. this can’t be healthy. he feels the strange urge to both squish his cheeks and punch him in the throat.
“okay,” the boy mutters a little wistfully, and he’s— too cute. unbelievably cute. yoongi doesn’t know what to do with that revelation.
“one coconut, one green tea,” he tells the cashier.
jeongguk looks at him with wide eyes, before breaking out into a smile, eyes crinkling at the corners.
yoongi feels— lost. but also somehow found.
the sight of a clothing store makes yoongi suddenly stop in his tracks, jeongguk bumping into him with an oof .
“hyung?” the boy questions, adjusting the grip he has on yoongi’s hand.
“we should probably buy you some clothes,” he says, nodding over to the store. “so you can stop borrowing mine all the time. there’s a lot of space in the guest room closet anyways.”
it’s only after he says it that he realizes what he’s implied— that jeongguk would be staying for the long term. they haven’t at all discussed about the fact that technically, yoongi offered his home to jeongguk until the snowstorm passed. it’s been weeks since then.
jeongguk seems to realize it too, suddenly looking timid and unsure. “is that...okay?”
yoongi’s not sure if he’s asking about whether or not it’s okay to buy him clothes or that he can stay at yoongi’s for longer than originally planned. “yes,” he says, because for either question the answer would be the same.
jeongguk smiles at him, but it’s almost bashful, the boy looking down at the ground. it’s not something yoongi’s never seen before, but he’s still blown away, feels himself shattering at the realization that a person like jeongguk actually exists.
and really, how sly and cunning of jeongguk to sneak into him like this— it feels like his fondness for the boy suddenly became so unbearably large out of nowhere. he didn’t even realize something was missing until jeongguk had already snatched his heart.
jeongguk’s humming and singing softly under his breath as he pushes the grocery cart around the store, yoongi walking next to him, conjuring up a grocery list in his mind. he honestly doesn’t know how to make many vegetarian dishes besides bibimbap, along with japchae and kimbap minus the meat. he stares down at the sad amount of items in their cart— just dried seaweed and japchae noodle packs, along with some ramyun.
“soup?” he mutters to himself, eyebrows furrowing. but if jeongguk couldn’t eat meat then he probably couldn’t have chicken broths or anything, right?
“then maybe kongnamul guk?” he mumbles, scratching his head. “and I can add kimchi to it… and there’s doenjang guk too…” he glances up, only to see that jeongguk is looking at him a bit dazedly. “what?”
jeongguk blinks, ears turning pink. “nothing!” he exclaims, turning away. “you’re just cute, hyung. what are we getting next?”
“oh,” he says dumbly, feeling like he’s lost all language comprehension. cute, he called you cute. his face feels too warm. “um. let’s go to the vegetables.”
as he’s picking out which packet of bean sprouts look the best, their cart getting increasingly more full with vegetables and fruits, he hears a faint growling noise. he blinks, looking over at jeongguk, who was slowly turning more pink by the second. “still hungry?” he asks with a laugh.
“y-yeah,” jeongguk says sheepishly.
yoongi places a bag of bean sprouts into the cart. “I feel like your appetite has increased exponentially since we met. before you’d eat like two meals a day.” he frowns as he studies the boy, even as jeongguk avoids his gaze. “were you holding yourself back from eating more?”
“um,” jeongguk stumbles, fidgeting with his hands. “sort of?” he lets out a yelp when yoongi flicks his forehead, hands immediately touching it to soothe the ache as he whines, “hyung, what was that for?”
“don’t do that again,” yoongi replies, as he’s walking to the next aisle, jeongguk hurryingly grabbing the cart and pushing it to catch up, “I like it when you eat well.”
“I haven’t even been holding back at all recently,” jeongguk grumbles with a pout. “hyung is mean.”
“hyung wants you to be healthy,” he shoots back, before turning so he can look at the boy in the eyes. “seriously, jeongguk. if you want something, anything, just ask me.”
“okay,” jeongguk replies, after a pause. “thank you, hyung.”
by the time they get off the bus onto the bus stop near yoongi’s house, it’s a few hours past noon, not quite evening. they’re both laden with bags, though jeongguk is carrying a few more than yoongi, partly because he insisted and partly because yoongi felt relieved to be carrying less— not that he’d ever admit it.
jeongguk’s singing softly again. he does that a lot, yoongi’s quickly noticed, and he finds it terribly endearing. finds his voice beautiful, too. he wants to ask jeongguk to sing for him on a track but he also doesn’t know how.
“today was fun,” jeongguk says happily, “the city is nice. but I think I like the woods better.”
“because it smells better?” he asks, adjusting his grip on one of his bags.
jeongguk tilts his head in thought. “yeah,” he agrees, “but it feels nicer. easier to be a part of.” the boy pauses, before continuing sofly, “more willing to be there for you when you’re lonely.”
“huh,” he muses back. “I get what you mean, I think. sometimes it’s just nice to be out here by yourself.”
jeongguk stops walking, making yoongi turn around and look at him questioningly. “guk?”
the boy smiles at him. “it also makes me think of you, hyung,” he says softly. “you make me feel less lonely.”
“jeongguk,” he breathes out, throat feeling tight. suddenly everything feels like too much. they’ve only known each other for a little over a month, but somehow it feels longer. there’s an easy familiarity with jeongguk, a strong urge to just let go whenever he’s with the boy, and he’s not sure how to handle it. he’s not sure if he wants to, feels like he should be trying to keep everything in.
jeongguk seems to get it, because he starts walking again, nudging his shoulder as he walks past him. “let’s go home, hyung.”
later, as they’re pressed close together in yoongi’s bed, yoongi on his side while jeongguk spoons him from behind, he whispers, “you make me feel less lonely, too.”
he feels jeongguk smile against the back of his neck.
“someone’s coming,” jeongguk says, brows furrowing.
“what?” yoongi asks, a bit distracted. they’re both in his room, yoongi with his headphones in, playing over a track, though he had taken them off to hear the other better. “what do you—”
and that’s when, about two months after jeongguks arrival, jin comes barging in.
yoongi means it quite literally, as the man has had the keys to the cabin for a while. the door bangs against the wall, jin calling out, “yoongi, help me, I have way too many bags!”
while on any other day, yoongi would’ve shit his pants at the sudden loud noise, with jeongguk’s warning it only makes his heart jump a little bit. he’s about to ask how the fuck jeongguk knew the other was there when jin calls out again. “Yoongi!”
“jesus fuck, hyung, I’m coming!” he yells back, putting his headphones away and stumbling down the stairs, jeongguk following him. “shut the door, you’re letting all the cold air in.”
he almost forgets about the fact that he’s told absolutely no one about jeongguk until he’s grabbing jin’s bags of groceries (too much food, like usual,) and sees that the man is staring at jeongguk with the same face he made when the two of them were fucking around together on the internet one night and somehow ended up on the weird, obscure side of youtube.
jeongguk looks a little uncomfortable under the man’s gaze, body seeming to curl itself up smaller, and it’s almost hilarious how he tries to hide behind yoongi, as if he didn’t tower over him a good few inches. “um. hello?”
“who are you?” jin blurts out, and well, yoongi can’t completely blame him. it’s not like yoongi’s ever had other guests here before.
“oh,” he begins a bit awkwardly. “hyung, this is jeongguk. jeongguk this is jin, my friend from college.”
jin gives him a look that says, what the fuck . yoongi sends him one back that says, later.
the three of them start working on putting the groceries back, the awkward tension between jin and jeongguk almost unbearable.
“you can take the meat back,” yoongi says when he catches jin about to put some frozen meat in his freezer.
jin blinks at him. “what? why? you love meat. I even bought you lamb.”
“uh,” he begins shifting uncomfortably. “jeongguk doesn’t eat meat.”
jin stares at him again. out of the corner of his eye, he can see jeongguk fidget with his fingers. “okay? what does that got to do with you?”
“the smell of meat bothers him,” he mumbles, “we haven’t eaten any since he started staying here.”
“you guys are living together?” jin shrieks back, looking dumbfounded. both he and jeongguk avoid each other’s gaze. “yoongi—”
“jeongguk, can you finish up here?” yoongi cuts in, as he pushes jin out of the kitchen and up the stairs, “we just need to talk for a second.”
“yeah, sure,” jeongguk replies a bit hesitantly, eyes flickering between the two of them as they make their dramatic exit.
they stumble into yoongi’s room, jin immediately whipping around to give yoongi a look. “explain.”
he sighs, plopping down onto his bed. “I found him lost in the woods the day the snowstorm started, and invited him in. said he could stay until the storm passes.” he decides to omit the state jeongguk was in when he found him.
jin frowns. “you mean the storm from like almost two months ago?”
he sighs again, nodding.
“well the storm has quite obviously passed,” jin replies dryly. “why is he still here? doesn’t he have someplace to be?”
“I don’t really know that much about him,” he admits with a grimace. “we haven’t… really talked about the whole living together thing yet.”
jin gives him another look. “you do know how this sounds, right? you’re practically living with a stranger! what if he kills you in your sleep?”
he decides to omit the fact that he and jeongguk share the same bed too.
“he wouldn’t,” yoongi shoots back firmly. “look, I don’t know much about him personally, but he wouldn’t do anything like that. he’s a good person.”
jin tilts his head. “do you like him?”
the words make yoongi shut down, but at the same time makes his mind and heart race uncontrollably. “yeah, he’s a good guy. funny. washes the dishes. a true bro.” he cringes at his choice of words. god, he needs to stop talking.
“you know what I meant,” jin chides with an eye roll. “there’s just something between you two, I guess. sorry if I’m wrong.” he huffs, joining yoongi on the bed. “but really, you gotta talk to him about all this living together stuff. have you even tried asking?” at yoongi’s silence, the man lets out a sigh. “that’s what I thought.”
they don’t say anything for a while, yoongi looking down at his hands.
“look,” jin begins a lot gentler, “just like, I don’t know, tell me about stuff like this next time? or anyone? it really wouldn’t hurt you to send us all a text sometime. and maybe try talking to jeongguk. if he’s going to live here you actually need to figure this shit out.”
“you’re right,” he murmurs back, “I will. and I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”
jin just pats him on the shoulder.
when they walk back downstairs, jeongguk’s fumbling around in the kitchen, groceries long put away. three mugs (one of them being the fox mug) are placed by him on the counter, along with three open packets of hot chocolate. a kettle is getting heated on the stove.
“I thought I’d make some for us,” jeongguk says a bit awkwardly, fidgeting with his hands. “since it’s a little too early for dinner. I guess I should’ve asked if jin-ssi even liked hot chocolate, sorry.”
he can practically see the way jin softens up a little for the boy. “hot chocolate is great.”
jeongguk beams. his smile is almost blinding.
surprisingly, or maybe unsurprisingly, jin and jeongguk get along really well. almost too well. the two of them are bickering and giggling together after maybe thirty minutes. yoongi just watches and tries to keep up.
jin ends up staying for dinner, and the two of them cook together. it’s nice. it’s always nice, really, when seokjin comes. the two of them get along well together. he’s always had a feeling that jin insisted on coming every month because he’s afraid yoongi gets lonely— and the man wouldn’t be wrong. it feels a little different, this time around though, with jeongguk here with them. he can’t help but feel a little self conscious under jin’s musing stare when jeongguk moves in too close, easily wrapping his arms around yoongi or holding his wrists.
“he seems like a good kid,” jin admits, after dinner. a plastic bag full of the packaged meat he originally bought for yoongi hangs around his wrist. yoongi had followed him out the door and onto the porch under the excuse of showing jin the way out. “I’m still a little skeptical, but mostly, I think I’m just glad you’re not out here all by yourself anymore.”
he’s not really sure how to respond to that, so he doesn’t, shoving his hands in his pockets. “thanks for coming by, hyung.”
“be thankful you have such a handsome hyung that takes care of you,” jin replies with a wink, making yoongi roll his eyes. “I’ll be back soon. send the groupchat a text, will you?”
“yeah, yeah,” yoongi mumbles, waving as jin steps off the front porch, heading to his car. the man blows yoongi a kiss before he slides into the driver’s seat, and another one after he starts the car, before pulling out and turning the car around. yoongi stays outside until the man’s black truck disappears from sight.
“I’d be a sEXY PORN STAR”
world wide handsome [9:01 pm]
so yoongi’s living with a cute boy now
chimchim [9:02 pm]
taetae [9:02 pm]
namjoon<3crabs [9:02 pm]
me [9:03 pm]
namjoon<3crabs [9:04 pm]
...before yoongi explains himself i’m changing the groupchat name
“your friends seem nice,” jeongguk says with a laugh. they’re both in bed, jeongguk resting his head on yoongi’s shoulder and peering at his phone as yoongi texts the groupchat, giggling at his idiot friends’ messages. it’s mostly just spamming at this point, now that yoongi’s explained to them what’s going on.
“you’d like them,” he admits. jimin’s message, are you guys fucking? pops on the screen and he’s never locked his phone so fast. he grumbles under his breath, placing it on his nightstand. thankfully, jeongguk doesn’t say anything, which either means he didn’t see it or chose to ignore it. “they’re full of too much energy, like you.”
“I can be calm, too,” jeongguk mumbles, moving away so the two of them can slide under the covers, before immediately scooting close again. it’s nice, being close to someone like this, skin brushing against each other, warmth seeping through each other’s bones. next to jeongguk, yoongi can understand the appeal of human touch. can almost understand what touchstarved means. he wouldn’t mind doing just simply this forever.
the thought makes something within him twinge, jin’s words from earlier ringing through his mind.
“guk,” yoongi begins, before swallowing tightly. “do you… like it here?”
jeongguk turns on his side, facing him. he stays on his back, too nervous to look at the other.
“I like it a lot,” jeongguk replies easily, eyes curious. “why?”
he doesn’t answer right away, at a loss for words. “just,” he says haltingly, “it’s been awhile since you first came here.”
“oh,” jeongguk says, and the tone of his voice immediately tells yoongi he’s said the wrong thing. he feels jeongguk shift away just slightly. “I— I guess it has. do you want me to leave? I know I’ve kind of overstayed my welcome—”
“no, no, ” yoongi interrupts, sitting up and turning to look at the boy’s face. jeongguk stays where he is, fingers tangled in yoongi’s blankets, teeth caught on his bottom lip. “jeongguk, no. I want you to stay.”
it’s not until the words are out in the air that yoongi realizes how much he means it. jeongguk’s taken up so much space in his life recently— he’s ingrained into the floorboards, in the keys of yoongi’s piano, his sheets, in that stupid fox mug he always uses. yoongi’s never going to look at this house and everything in it the same way again.
there’s a pause. jeongguk looks at him with wide eyes.
“really?” the boy breathes out. “you do?”
“yeah,” yoongi responds back, just as softly, dropping his gaze. his hand goes up to touch the back of his neck. “if you want to, that is. I don’t— I don’t really know if you were going somewhere before this or anything but—”
“I want to,” jeongguk cuts in, sitting up and tackling yoongi, startling the wind out of him. the boy nuzzles against his neck— a growing habit, yoongi’s noticed— breathing in yoongi’s scent. “I want to stay here, hyung. I was— I was going nowhere, before. there’s nowhere I want to go except for here.”
hesitantly, yoongi moves to wrap his arms around the other’s waist, squeezing gently. “okay,” he murmurs back. “I’m glad. but jeongguk, if you’re gonna live here you gotta— tell me some things,” yoongi insists, “ explain some things. I trust you guk, but I don’t— I don’t know anything about you. I know part of it is my fault because I probably should’ve pressed about it a little—”
“no,” jeongguk blurts out, moving back to look at yoongi in the eye. “I’m always pushing you away from the topic. I— I know I’ve been unfair. I promise I will explain things but—” he stops, biting his lip. “just not right now, okay? I promise I will, hyung. I just— can’t right now.”
yoongi’s silent for a moment, before he nods, sighing. “okay, guk-ah. okay.”
just as he’s about to fall asleep, he realizes he never found out how jeongguk knew jin was at the door.
there’s something about the reassurance that you and another person are on the same page that makes everything else about your relationship so much easier. it’s almost as if communication is actually important in all relationships. who’d have thought that.
(“I told you,” jin bites out at him over the phone, after yoongi admitted he talked to jeongguk. “you’re such an idiot.” there’s a pause, before jin adds, “I’m proud of you.”)
the days go by as they usually do, but also somehow differently. when he wakes up in the morning to jeongguk’s sleeping face, he thinks about seeing that sight every morning instead of about how long this will last. thinks, I could get used to this, I am used to this, and isn’t afraid of the idea.
jeongguk hasn’t told him the story of how he ended up in the forest covered in blood, but yoongi trusts that he will. he knows that there’s probably a good reason why the other is hesitant, and while it’s a little frustrating, the fact that he knows jeongguk wants to tell him is enough for right now.
he’s mulling over these thoughts over a cup of coffee, leaning against the sink and looking out the kitchen window. jeongguk’s at the kitchen table, eating another serving of breakfast. it’s almost crazy how much that boy eats. yoongi’s grocery bill has definitely surged up, but it’s not like he ever spends much money on anything else anyway. (he usually just saves and saves and saves and then eventually splurges on an expensive keyboard or soundboard or something.)
something out the window catches his eye. he squints, leaning over the counter to peer out the window. as he sees the figure come closer and closer, he lets out a loud gasp.
a red fox sits outside, on its back legs, almost like if posing for a picture. yoongi feels pinned down by the animal’s gold gaze.
“what?” jeongguk says mid chew, voice muffled.
“jeongguk, come here,” yoongi breathes out excitedly, pointing out the window. “it’s a red fox!”
jeongguk blinks at him, before standing up and moving towards him, looming behind him, wrapping an arm around his shoulders.
“oh,” the boy says softly. “it is.”
“it’s so rare to see one right now,” yoongi babbles, smiling wide, “red foxes usually mate in the winter, so most of them should be in their burrows. oh man, this is awesome.”
jeongguk laughs at him a little. “wow, look at you, spouting fox facts.”
he flushes a little, placing a hand on the back of his neck. “just— stuff I remember from when I was a kid. used to read a lot of fox books and stuff.”
“seems a lot more than a childhood phase, hyung,” jeongguk teases, pulling him closer to his side. yoongi just rolls his eyes.
the fox stands up on its feet, padding closer. jeongguk tenses at his side, and yoongi chuckles a little. “why are you scared? we’re inside.”
“I’m not scared,” jeongguk huffs. “something— something just took me off guard.”
the fox tilts its head, still just staring at them, before suddenly turning around and sprinting away, disappearing into the forest.
even though the fox is long gone, yoongi spends a minute still staring out the window. “the last time I saw a red fox I was just a kid,” he murmurs, smiling a little at the memory. “hope that little guy had a good life.”
jeongguk stares at him for a moment, gold eyes flickering, before lowering his gaze. “how do you know he’s dead?”
yoongi blinks. “well, a red fox’s life span isn’t very long, especially in the wild. like, five years, at the most.”
“childhood phase my ass,” jeongguk shoots back, and yoongi smacks his shoulder. jeongguk laughs, walking towards the door and grabbing his coat.
“where are you going?” yoongi asks, surprised at the sudden action.
jeongguk smiles, but it looks a little worn, like an old, forgotten book. “a walk.”
yoongi’s messing around on the piano, playing random chords and melodies with no real direction. usually, when he’s trying to figure out a new song, he sits in his room and messes around on his keyboard, surrounded by his music equipment, his headphones loud in his ears. something about the idea forming in his head right now makes him want to use an actual piano though, so he does. jeongguk’s on the couch, reading one of yoongi’s fox books. instead of a factual one though, this one is more fictional, containing stories about fox spirits and gumiho. he teased yoongi for having it, but now he seems actually engrossed, flipping the pages contemplatively.
his chords progress to an a flat minor. it’s sad sounding but it doesn’t feel sad, really. more like relieving. a release.
“hyung,” jeongguk says, “do you want to go out for a walk?”
he answers by playing a final, typical tonic chord, before slowly raising his hands and getting off the piano bench. jeongguk beams at him, closing his book and placing it on the coffee table.
after they’re all bundled up, jeongguk eagerly pulls him outside, their gloved hands intertwined. “I want to show you a cool place I found,” the boy explains, “you’ll love it, hyung.”
he lets jeongguk lead the way, hands still clasped together. finds it almost overwhelming how easy it is to follow jeongguk anywhere. I could fall in love with you , he thinks to himself. keeps it in.
“hyung,” jeongguk begins, slightly out of breath. yoongi’s in the same boat. trudging through the snow is awfully tiring, afterall. “do you believe in spirits?”
yoongi doesn’t answer right away, taking a moment to mull over the question. “my grandma did. she believed in a lot of things, but one thing I remember is that she really liked gumiho.” jeongguk stumbles a little, probably stepping on something covered by the snow, and yoongi jerks him back up. “you okay?”
“yeah,” jeongguk breathes out. his nose is pink from the cold. “gumiho are those half human half fox spirits in your book, right?”
“yeah,” yoongi says, “they’re nine tailed foxes that can transform into a human. I think that’s why she got so excited when I got into foxes. she was still giving me fox things even when I was college.”
jeongguk hums in acknowledgement. “do you believe in them? gumiho, I mean.”
“when I was a kid, I did,” he says, after a pause. “when I got older though...I think I just liked talking about them with my grandma. she knew so many things about them, and I could tell it made her happy when we talked about things like that.”
jeongguk smiles sadly. “you miss her.” it’s not phrased like a question.
“I do,” he answers, gaze dropping down to his shoes.
they trudge on in silence, but it doesn’t quite feel like it, with the loud crunching of snow under their boots. eventually, jeongguk starts speeding up, eyes lighting up in excitement. “we’re almost there, hyung.”
“there” ends up being a small clearing, the other side of it sloping up into a somewhat large hill, logs and branches partly covered with snow littering the ground right at the edge of the slope. to be honest, yoongi’s not quite sure why jeongguk has brought them here, especially since it doesn’t seem very spectacular.
“what’s so special about this?” yoongi asks.
jeongguk ignores him, sitting cross-legged down on the ground, uncaring of the snow. “you’ll see,” the boy responds with a mischievous smile, patting the space beside him. yoongi huffs, walking over but not sitting down. jeongguk might not care but yoongi really would rather not get his butt soaked, thanks.
they wait for a few more moments. jeongguk makes a weird purring noise in his throat, one he does when he sometimes cuddles with yoongi. he’s about to question what was even going on at the moment, when suddenly a red fox’s head pops out from under the snow. he lets out a gasp. jeongguk repeats the purring sound again, a bit louder. yoongi quickly realizes that the fox didn’t just pop out from nowhere, but from a hole underneath the log and snow.
“you found their burrows,” yoongi breathes out, turning to jeongguk, who beams up at him. “isn’t it dangerous to be near them?”
“we’ll be fine,” jeongguk says, and to yoongi’s surprise, the red fox comes scurrying over, pouncing onto jeongguk’s lap. the boy giggles, scratching at the back of the fox’s ears. “hey, little guy.”
“jeongguk,” yoongi stutters out, completely in awe. “what— this is—” crazy . a wild red fox, a wild predator , jumping into the arms of a potential danger? nothing right now is making sense. it almost makes him think of the time all those years ago, when—
“don’t be shy, hyung,” jeongguk says, pulling on his coat sleeve. “you can pet him.”
yoongi crouches down, staring at the animal with both wariness and awe. hesitantly, he holds out a hand, just barely brushing his fingers against the animal’s back. when the fox doesn’t freak out and bite his hand off, he decides to it again, a bit more firmer, curling his fingers to scratch at the animal’s coat. the fox lets out a happy yip, moving closer.
“nice surprise?” jeongguk questions, raising his eyebrows. the question sounds smug but his expression is anything but, just a gentle smile.
“yeah,” he breathes out, still having trouble believing this was actually happening. he wants to ask how jeongguk knew these foxes were here, how they knew to come when jeongguk called.
the fox returns to jeongguk after a while, licking at the boy’s face, making him squirm and giggle.
the fox’s gold gaze matches jeongguk’s eyes.
“what do you think of it so far?” yoongi asks namjoon, the other’s face a little pixely from their skype call, “the melody.”
there had been a polite but somewhat awkward conversation between namjoon and jeongguk earlier, the boy in his room with yoongi when namjoon called. while jeongguk and the rest of his friends now know of each other’s existence, the only one who’s actually met jeongguk so far is jin. he has a feeling that might change, however, considering how often jimin and taehyung insist on meeting the boy.
“it’s good,” the man replies, showing him a dimpled smile. “it’s rare for you to show me unfinished works, hyung.”
“I just want to know what you think of it,” he replies, maybe a bit self consciously, tugging at his beanie. “if...my message is getting across.”
“I think it’s sad,” namjoon says after a few moments. “maybe not sad. melancholic. like a long lost love letter. and…” he trails off, tilting his head in thought.
“and?” he prompts.
“freeing,” namjoon eventually says. “letting go.”
he wakes up to muted thumps and shuffles of shelves and cupboards being opened and closed. he groans, glancing at the clock. it’s two am. jeongguk’s side of the bed is empty.
“hungry?” he says when he reaches the kitchen, flicking the lights on.
jeongguk startles, glancing over at him with wide eyes, gold eyes almost glowing. he smiles sheepishly. “a little.”
the boy eats three bowls of ramyeon.
jimin likes to tease him and say he’s bad at feelings. yoongi thinks he might be.
namjoon usually says something different though, when he’s being annoying and psychoanalyzing him. or when they’re both drunk and a little too philosophical and mushy to each other. “you’re not bad at feelings at all,” namjoon had said. at this particular time, they were both pretty drunk. alcohol does strange things to his memory— yoongi remembers the exact shade of green namjoon was wearing, but he can’t for the life of him remember what the fuck they were even doing at that bar.
“in fact, you’re full of so many feelings, hyung. you’re a big squishy ball of— anyway, I don’t think you’re bad at feelings. I think you keep them in until you figure them out completely. just like how you won’t really speak your ideas until you’ve fully formed them. until you’re completely sure of what you feel and want, you won’t really act on it.” at this point, the two of them took another shot. “honestly, I feel like that’s being very good with feelings. and it kinda makes everything you do a lot more meaningful.”
yoongi supposes maybe they’re both right. yoongi can be a bit awkward at showing people he cares about them. because he thinks and mulls over his feelings often, he doesn’t really know how to show them casually. instead, he holds it in, in, in, until he feels like he’s about to burst.
“you’ve been playing that melody a lot, lately,” jeongguk murmurs, sitting beside him on the bench.
yoongi plays another chord, while his right hand plays a repetitive syncopated pattern with a flurry of notes. it’s for you , he wants to say, but doesn’t. keeps it inside, resting on his tongue, swallows it down and hopes it somehow gets to his heart. “wanna go for a walk?” he says instead.
they end up walking to the lake, the snow almost blinding in the sunlight. the lake’s frozen, but yoongi doesn’t really trust it enough to walk across it. they stay near the edge, jeongguk cautiously stepping out onto the ice.
“be careful,” yoongi warns.
more confident the ice won’t break under his feet, jeongguk moves out a little further, arms out to balance himself. he shakily does a little twirl on one foot, before eagerly looking back at yoongi, as if to make sure he was watching. it vaguely reminds him of a puppy, or maybe a child. “it’s safe, hyung!” jeongguk calls out, laughing as he does a little run before jumping a little and sliding on his feet.
I could fall in love with him , yoongi thinks again. finds himself thinking that thought almost every day. feels himself become a bit more surer with the concept everytime it pops up. he steps out onto the ice, heart trembling at the way jeongguk’s eyes light up, maybe just surprised that yoongi’s actually playing along. but maybe because he’s glad yoongi’s willing to join him. maybe a bit of awe rests in the gold of his eyes. maybe yoongi is projecting.
he staggers, clumsily sliding over to the other. he thinks he’s fine until he suddenly slips. arms flailing and desperately grabbing onto jeongguk’s coat. jeongguk laughs, wrapping his arms around yoongi to balance him. “my little clumsy hyung,” he teases, as if he didn’t just make yoongi’s heart drop to his stomach.
“shut up,” he eloquently replies. they’re still all wrapped up around each other. at this distance, he has to tilt his head up a good amount to look at the other. jeongguk’s breath seems to stutter the moment they make eye contact. yoongi hears a flat minor chords ring in his mind while looking into jeongguk’s gold eyes.
“hyung,” jeongguk breathes out. his gaze flickers to yoongi’s lips. syncopated melodies flood through yoongi’s ears.
yoongi doesn’t really know how to show his feelings casually. he holds it in, in, in, until he feels like he’s about to burst.
the a minor chords are sad sounding but it doesn’t feel sad, really. more like relieving. freeing. letting go.
yoongi reaches up to gently place his palms on the boy’s cheeks, before stretching up onto his tiptoes and leaning in, lips brushing together softly. he feels jeongguk gasp, freezing in place, only to suddenly surge forward, tightening his grip around yoongi’s waist, lips eagerly responding.
relieving. freeing. letting go. yoongi holds his feelings, his love, in and in and in, but now—
“I fell in love with you the first day we met,” jeongguk admits, a bit breathless. his eyelashes flutter.
yoongi takes a deep, trembling breath. “kiss me,” he says, and jeongguk does. I could fall in love with him, he thinks again. I think I already have.
the walk back is filled with, fizzy, bubbly energy, the two of them giggling with every step, stealing kisses every few moments. they’re high off the feeling they both feel the same way. jeongguk swings their intertwined hands between them. yoongi can’t help it as he tugs the boy closer, the two of them both smiling into their kiss.
“I think I love you,” yoongi breathes out, because jeongguk deserves to know what he’s feeling in words. “I don’t know if—”
“it’s okay,” jeongguk cuts in, smiling. the boy steals another kiss. “I’ve been waiting this long. I can wait more.”
they’re laughing at something stupid by the time they reach the house, jeongguk excitingly telling yoongi a story. their moment is interrupted, however, by a man sitting calmly on yoongi’s front porch step, a man yoongi’s never seen before.
jeongguk’s eager demeanor immediately sobers. “hobi hyung?” the boy blurts out in shock. “what are you doing here?”
“I needed to find you,” the man replies, and right away yoongi notices the man’s golden eyes. he stands up, shoving his hands in his pockets. every move he makes is made with a graceful ease. “I figured you’d be here,” he says, before glancing at their hands, still tightly woven. “I see things are going well.”
“ hoseok-hyung ,” jeongguk hisses, gold eyes flashing, and before yoongi can even ask what the fuck is going on, the other turns towards him, biting his lip. “yoongi-hyung could you...step inside for a minute? I need to talk to him alone.”
yoongi swallows. “okay,” he says a bit stiffly, giving jeongguk’s hand one final squeeze before letting go. he nods at hoseok as he walks by him and into the house, the other returning the gesture.
he’s tempted to eavesdrop but decides against it, heading upstairs and into his room, plopping onto the bed. he doesn’t do much other than stare at the wall until jeongguk comes in, alone.
“did your friend leave?” yoongi asks, a bit surprised. “you could’ve invited him in.”
“he had somewhere to be,” jeongguk says dismissively, sitting down next to him and nuzzling his shoulder, sniffing his scent. he can practically feel the boy calm down, melting against him.
“how do you know him? how did he even know where my house was?”
jeongguk tenses. “he’s an old friend.”
yoongi frowns. “and my house?” he prompts.
“I can’t tell you,” jeongguk says with a wince.
yoongi grits his teeth. “jeongguk, you said—”
“I know, I know,” jeongguk cuts in, “I know I said I’d tell you things but— not yet, I— I need more time. please , hyung. just a bit more time.”
“fine,” yoongi says, after a long pause, looking away from jeongguk’s wide doe eyes. the word tastes like dirt.
later, when he’s washing the dishes, he looks out the kitchen window and notices paw prints embedded in the snow, leading away from the front porch.
jeongguk is always hungry.
he doesn’t always say he is, but yoongi can tell, with the way the boy looks so unsatisfied after a meal in which he’s already eaten three servings. he can tell with the way the boy is always snacking on something. he hears the boy get up from bed and dig around in the kitchen every night.
he can’t get out jeongguk and the red fox’s matching golden gaze out of his mind.
jeongguk, are you—
what is it, hyung?
when yoongi met jeongguk, the boy was covered in blood.
the blood of an animal.
“I think you guys would like him,” yoongi says. he's sitting in front of his family's shrine, jeongguk still peacefully asleep upstairs. “especially you, grandma,” he adds, before resting his chin on top of his knees.
he's been talking to his family a lot more recently. he feels something building, something simmering and boiling. something is about to happen . usually when he felt like this he’d talk to his grandma, and then she’d sigh and caress yoongi’s cheek, before saying, “me too, sweetie.” his mom used to roll her eyes at their antics, never a believer in fate and prophesying intuitions, but she still listened anyway.
“you probably knew right away, huh, grandma,” he murmurs with a quiet laugh. “you're probably disappointed I didn't figure out sooner, especially with how much you taught me. but I kind of still think I'm wrong.”
like an automatic reaction, never doubt yourself, his dad's favorite saying, rings through his mind. “yeah,” he says softly. “thanks, dad.”
yoongi wakes up to rackety noises in the kitchen. jeongguk’s side of the bed is empty. this has been a normal occurrence, recently— jeongguk would get hungry during the night and slip away for a midnight meal. he’s tempted to just go back to sleep but something about the noises seem off. frowning, he slides out of bed, pulling a blanket around himself as he quietly sneaks downstairs, making sure to avoid the creaky steps. he’s not exactly sure why he feels the need to be so secretive. there’s just a feeling inside of him, something telling him that the kettle is just about to boil over.
when he reaches the bottom of the stairs and looks out into the kitchen, it takes a while for him to process what he’s seeing.
jeongguk’s on his knees in the kitchen. the freezer door is still open, the yellow light the only thing allowing yoongi to see what’s going on. frozen meat packages are scattered everywhere , torn open, some empty, some half eaten. jeongguk is grabbing fistfuls of the raw meat from the open packages, shoving it into his mouth ravenously, his hands and face stained a faint red, meat pieces sticking onto the side of jeongguk’s mouth.
all at once, everything lines up.
“jeongguk,” yoongi barely breathes , so quiet he’s not even sure he spoke them, but just that is enough for jeongguk to whip his head around, eyes wide. his gold eyes flash in the dark, like a predator. tears are streaming down his cheeks, and at the sight of yoongi, the boy lets out a sob.
“I’m sorry,” he gasps out, the meat in his hands dropping the floor, his hands coming up to cover his sobs, uncaring of the stains. “I’m s-so sorry, I was just— I was just so hungry , I-I’ve been trying so h-hard, but—”
“jeongguk,” yoongi says again, inching closer, but the boy shakes his head.
“please hyung, I was so hungry,” jeongguk babbles out, barely making any sense. yoongi finally notices the large, sharp canines in jeongguk’s mouth, as if the meat made him more animalistic. “I couldn’t— it just—”
“jeongguk,” he cuts in softly, wrapping the boy up in his arms, ignoring the mess. the boy heaves out another sob, wilting into yoongi’s embrace. “you’re a gumiho, aren’t you.”
jeongguk shudders. “I don’t want to be.”
once upon a time, yoongi met a nine-tailed fox.
he and his parents were visiting his grandma again. yoongi remembers how green the trees seemed. he remembers his parents telling him not to wander off too far as he slipped on his shoes and started to explore.
he’s walking around the perimeter of the pond, when he sees him.
gold eyes stare at him unwaveringly, reddish fur standing out in the green and brown landscape. yoongi freezes, eyes widening at the sight of nine tails curling behind the creature. he hesitantly takes a step forward, but the twigs snapping underneath his feet scare the creature off, a red blur whipping through the forest.
he babbles about what he saw to his family at dinner, excitingly waving his chopsticks around as he tells the story. his father laughs and says the light must be playing tricks on him. his mother just pats him on the head with a fond smile.
his grandma looks at him knowingly.
“nine-tailed foxes are foxes that have lived for a thousand years,” she says, “they’re more spirit than fox. they’re gumiho.”
“gumiho?” yoongi asks around a mouthful of rice, quickly swallowing when his mom gives him a look of disapproval.
“a creature that can shapeshift between a human and a fox,” his grandma explains. yoongi looks at her with wide eyes.
“mother please ,” his mom says with a sigh, “not these stories again. gumiho are bad creatures, yoongi. you don’t want to be near them.”
his grandma scoffs. “gumiho are misunderstood,” she insists, “they’re powerful and knowledgeable.” she smiles at yoongi. “they’re kind to the right people. you should feel lucky, yoongi-ah.”
it’s on their last day of the trip that yoongi sees the nine-tailed fox again.
it had just rained. this time, he wasn’t very far from the house, just wandering around and enjoying the smell rain brings. he’s sitting on the ground with his back against a tree when he sees the animal again.
he gasps, back straightening as the fox walks near him. it’s at this moment that yoongi realizes he’d miscounted— only eight tails extend from the fox’s back, each one moving individually as if each had a mind of its own.
the fox is limping. it stumbles, landing roughly on its stomach, a whine escaping its fanged jaws. yoongi immediately notices the thorn sticking out of the fox’s foot.
he stands up slowly, the fox’s gaze on him. “stay,” yoongi says after taking a few steps, and realizing the fox seems to not be going anywhere— whether that’d be because he actually listened to what yoongi said or is in too much pain to move— he quickly turns and runs towards the house.
he bursts through the door, startling his family, but pays no mind to their questions as he runs up the stairs and digs through the bathroom drawers, heart leaping as he finds the first aid kid, grabbing the tweezers inside. he runs back down the stairs, shouting a quick “I’ll be back!” as he runs out the door once more.
he sags in relief when he sees the fox still in the same spot, laying down. he slowly moves towards the animal, until he’s close enough to kneel down beside it. when he reaches his hand out, though, the fox snarls, teeth snapping at him, and he jerks his hand back. the fox keeps snarling at him.
they’re more spirit than fox .
he bends over in a bow, pressing his forehead close to the forest floor. “please.”
there’s a pause. the fox quietens. he looks up, straightening. this time, it lets him close, gold eyes piercing through yoongi’s skin. he grabs the tweezers and starts to hesitantly pull on the thorn, afraid the fox will snap at him and bite his arm off, but to his surprise, the fox just waits. reassured, he quickly pulls the thorn out, the action causing the fox to whimper and growl. immediately, yoongi backs away from the animal, stumbling and landing hard on his butt.
gradually, the fox stands up, taking a few measured steps, testing its front paw. it lets out a yip, seemingly happy. yoongi holds his breath as the fox walks towards him…
and licks his cheek.
he lets out a surprised giggle. “you’re welcome,” he says, smiling wide, gasping when suddenly the fox pounces on him, nuzzling his neck and letting out a loud strange sounding bark. hesitantly, yoongi pets the fox’s fur, surprised at how soft it is. he stares at the eight tails protruding from behind the animal and reaches out to touch one.
the fox tenses, growling and backing away. yoongi raises his hands in surrender, crossing his legs. “okay, no tail touching, got it.”
the fox seems to glare at him for a moment, before moving close and resting its head on yoongi’s thigh. yoongi is enraptured and a bit shocked a rare animal, a spirit , suddenly deemed him worthy enough of their kindness.
“yoongi-ah!” his dad calls out, “come on! we’re leaving!”
he looks down at the animal, to find that the fox is already looking at him, gold eyes flashing. he sighs, petting the fox’s head. “I have to go,” he says sadly. “it was nice meeting you. let’s meet again.”
as he walks away, he gives the fox one last bow before running back home.
he never sees the fox again.
once upon a time, yoongi met a spirit, and was never the same after.
yoongi takes jeongguk to the bathroom, making him wash his hands. he then runs the water for a bath, before ushering the boy to sit down on the toilet, grabbing a washcloth to wipe at the other’s face, cleaning the meat stains off. jeongguk watches him silently, eyes a little puffy from the crying.
“go take a bath when the water’s ready,” he says when he’s finished. “I’ll go clean up the kitchen.” when he turns to leave, jeongguk grabs at his sleeve, gaze turned down to his knees. he feels something tug at his heart.
“it’ll be just a second,” he reassures, gently reaching up to run his hands through the other’s hair and caress the side of his face. jeongguk hesitates, but let’s go. yoongi places a kiss on the other’s head before rushing downstairs. he throws all the empty meat packets away, and dumps all the meat from the half opened ones into a plastic bag, before hazardly wiping down the floors with a wet rag. he then slips on his coat and boots, running a far enough distance away before dumping the meat on the ground and scurrying back home. to jeongguk.
when yoongi grew older, he became convinced that the animal he saw as a child was maybe a figment of his imagination. maybe he remembered the incident wrongly— maybe the fox was really just a normal red fox. he never said this to his grandma, of course, who often treated the incident like it was a gift from god.
“once you become friends with a gumiho, you’re bonded for life,” she’d always say. “you’ll meet them again, I’m sure of it.”
but yoongi never did, and so he became convinced it was nothing but a childhood memory filled with childish misconceptions and exaggerations.
by the time he gets back, jeongguk’s in the bath, staring lifelessly at the bathroom wall. he perks up a little at the sight of yoongi though, eyes widening slightly before returning his gaze back to the wall.
“I thought you wouldn’t come back,” he says, says it so simply and tonelessly, as if he was just waiting for it to happen. yoongi’s heart breaks. now that he knows the reason why jeongguk didn’t want him to leave earlier, he suddenly feels unbearably guilty.
“baby,” he breathes out, moving closer to the tub. he sits down and rests his chin on the edge. “I would never. I’m sorry I left.”
“you’re not afraid?” jeongguk responds, bottom lip trembling. “It’s okay if you want me leave. I-I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier, hyung I just didn’t know how.”
“I don’t want you to leave,” he insists, grabbing jeongguk’s hand and interlocking their fingers. “why would you think I’d want you to leave?”
“because I’m a monster,” the boy whispers.
“I love you,” yoongi replies. feels his heart drop a little after he says it.
jeongguk begins to cry again, surprising him. “h-hyung, I love you too, I love you so much—”
“woah, woah, baby— ”
in the end, he strips off his clothes, sliding into the bath with jeongguk, his back pressed against jeongguk’s chest, jeongguk sniffling into the crook of his neck and shoulder. it’s a level of intimacy they’ve never really experienced before— this is the first time they’ve seen each other naked — but it feels normal. feels right.
“it’s said that if a gumiho doesn’t eat meat for a thousand days, he can become human,” jeongguk mumbles after awhile, pulling yoongi closer to his chest.
“you want to become human,” yoongi says. he doesn’t phrase it like a question.
“so that I can be with you,” jeongguk responds, so softly it makes yoongi ache.
he clumsily turns around so that he can face the other, semi straddling him, water splashing against the side of the tub. “jeongguk,” he begins, “that fox I saw when I was a kid…” he trails off after he sees a worn out smile spread across jeongguk’s face. that’s all the answer he needs.
once upon a time, jeongguk met a boy.
a kind, kind boy, with gentle hands and eyes. a wide smile.
“you’re almost a thousand years old,” his friend hoseok says to him, after the boy had left. he was in his human form, muscled legs sprawled out in front of him as he sat down next to jeongguk, petting his back. “you’ll be a gumiho like me, soon.”
“are you still trying to be human?” is what jeongguk responds with. he’d never understood why hoseok was trying so hard for it before, but now—
now there is a kind, kind boy, with gentle hands and eyes. he feels a longing rise up in his chest. human, I want to be human, too.
once upon a time, jeongguk met a boy, and fell in love.
“so hoseok’s a gumiho too, huh,” yoongi says, once they’re dried off and in bed.
“yeah,” jeongguk responds. “he’s trying to become human, too. but it’s...hard. we’re trying to find easier ways. when he came that day he was telling me about a place I could go to that could maybe help. but I'd have to... stay there for a while.”
“are you gonna go?” he asks, after a pause.
“I don’t want to leave you,” jeongguk responds. yoongi buries his face further into the other’s chest.
the next morning, after they’ve prayed to yoongi’s family, he gets started on breakfast.
“no meat?” he asks softly.
“no meat,” jeongguk whispers back.