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The weight against Hoseok’s back comes suddenly, but it’s not exactly a surprise. At this point in his career, he’s constantly braced for an onslaught of physical affection from any of the six people he spends almost all of his time with.

It’s Seokjin, Hoseok realizes as soon as he’s gotten his bearings, which is kind of a surprise. Usually when Hoseok finds himself with a sudden armful of boy, it’s Jeongguk. Maybe Jimin or Taehyung. Seokjin isn’t as rare a cuddler as Namjoon, who still treats a back pat like some kind of herculean effort, or even Yoongi, who will sit primly on Hoseok’s lap but isn’t one for draping himself all over anybody.

Still, though. He’s never Hoseok’s first guess.

“Hi, hyung,” he says, laughing, as Seokjin buries his face into the back of his neck and breathes in deeply. They’re both still wearing their clothes from the music video; both a little sweaty underneath all the hairspray and stage makeup.

Hoseok had been in the middle of saying something into the camera, but now he can’t remember what it was. He covers by laughing harder, turning a little so he can pinch Seokjin’s side.

Seokjin yelps in surprise, but instead of dislodging himself he shifts to hug Hoseok even harder.

“Hobi-yah,” he coos, somewhat unpleasantly close to Hoseok’s ear. “Why are you rejecting hyung’s love?”

Instead of answering, Hoseok makes a show of trying to wriggle out of his grip. Seokjin cackles, squeezes him tightly one more time, and then lets him go.

 


 

They finish the music video, and the promotions, and the performances, and they’re all tired but rejuvenated at the same time — like some strange extended second wind, keeping them bright-eyed even as their bodies ache from stress and lack of sleep.

The vacation is a relief, even if there are cameras on them the whole time. It’s nice to get to go somewhere new, even if it comes with the constant sense of being watched. Hoseok can feel part of himself relax, even if he has to mug for the camera at every opportunity.

“Are you okay with this? I know it’s sometimes kind of weird with you and Seokjin,” Yoongi asks on the first day, pulling Hoseok aside after they’re finished choosing teams for their day trips.

“Weird? It’s not weird,” Hoseok laughs, big and fake-sounding even to his own ears. He glances over at Seokjin and, by a disgusting twist of fate, Seokjin looks up at the same time. Seokjin blows Hoseok a kiss. Hoseok pretends to eat it.

He turns back to Yoongi, smiling as if to say, see?

Yoongi levels him with an unimpressed stare.

“It’ll be fine, hyung,” Hoseok reassures him. “You’re worrying for nothing. Go have fun being goth with Jeonggukkie. Again.”

Yoongi flips him the bird. Hoseok cackles.

It’ll be fine.

 


 

It’s a little … not fine.

Hoseok and Seokjin get along, generally. Hoseok has spent so many hours of his life helping Seokjin with choreography that at this point he knows Seokjin’s body almost as well as he knows his own, which is. A little weird, maybe, but honestly no less weird than being able to identify his bandmates by the smell of their farts. A lot of things in Hoseok’s life right now are a little weird.

Seokjin is nice, and Hoseok is nice. Seokjin likes to be ridiculous, and Hoseok likes to be ridiculous. They respect each other as coworkers. They like each other. They should work well together, and they do, it’s just —

It’s always a little off, when it’s just the two of them on camera. Seokjin always pushes too far, or Hoseok does, or both of them do. With everyone else in the group, Hoseok can just roll with it. With Seokjin, he ends up feeling awkward.

Hoseok doesn’t think too much about it, and usually he doesn’t have to.

But at this particular moment it’s a little hard not to think about Seokjin, as the two of them peer at Seokjin’s phone in the car somewhere just outside of Salzburg, trying to figure out where the hell they’re going. They’re both a little sweaty from the summer heat. Hoseok can smell the last hints of whatever body wash Seokjin used back at the hotel. He doesn’t know why he keeps noticing it.

Hoseok looks behind him.

“Doyoung-ssi. Did you pay for roaming data on your phone?”

Doyoung frowns at him, which is fair. The footage won’t be usable if Hoseok’s talking to a staff member instead of Seokjin or the camera. But the footage also won’t be usable if Hoseok ends up starving to death on the side of a road in Austria, lost and helpless and surrounded by fools who try to use Naver Maps in Europe. He thinks he’s entitled to a little unprofessionalism.

“I’ve got it!” Seokjin shrieks, before Hoseok can point this out to Doyoung. “We turned left when we should have gone straight.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Like … ” Seokjin squints at his phone again. “Fifteen minutes ago? Maybe?”

Hoseok sighs, a little irritated and a lot carsick, then remembers the camera and makes himself smile instead. He reaches out to smack Seokjin’s arm.

“Ah, hyung,” he says. “You’re so bad at this. If I’d brought Jiminie with me this never would have happened.”

Seokjin scowls at him as he fixes his phone back onto the dashboard.

“You’re driving on the way back,” he says, pointing at Hoseok with his eyes narrowed. Hoseok can’t tell if he’s trying to be genuinely intimidating or not. If he is, it’s not really working. He looks ridiculous.

“If you say so,” Hoseok says, smiling sunnily back, knowing it’s the best way to make Seokjin react. Seokjin doesn’t disappoint, his eyes widening almost immediately as he jabs his finger at Hoseok’s shoulder.

“This disrespect!”

Hoseok throws his head back and cackles.

Seokjin puts the car into gear, still muttering, and they’re off.

 


 

The palace is nice.

It’s not really Hoseok’s thing — he likes modern art, and the kind of museums where you can buy things — so he doesn’t really know why he and Seokjin ended up assigned to the historical architecture destination. It’s definitely more Taehyung’s style. But Taehyung, Namjoon, and Jimin are doing some type of brunch tour, while Jeongguk and Yoongi got the breweries. And Hoseok is here, trying to act like he has any idea what he’s talking about as he admires the royal gardens.

“Hoseok-ah, who’s more beautiful?” Seokjin calls out, posing in front of a statue, and oh. That’s why they’re here, probably. So Seokjin can make jokes about his face being a piece of art for three hours.

Hoseok’s holding the self-camera, so he makes a show of pretending to think about it, his serious face melting into a laugh when Seokjin lets out an indignant shriek.

The rest of the morning passes quickly, Seokjin pulling ridiculous faces next to stuffy old paintings and Hoseok blinking sweetly next to as many different flowers as he can find.

(A lot, as it turns out. It’s a pretty big garden.)

Before he knows it, Hoseok’s seated in the driver’s side, taking them back into the city so they can make it back to Salzburg to find an outdoor pool.

 


 

The pool, Hoseok decides, is a definite upgrade.

Both of them leave their shirts on even as the temperature climbs, too alert to Doyoung’s presence to really get comfortable. Actually, Hoseok thinks, Seokjin might be more comfortable this way: he’s prudish about the weirdest things, smirking one moment and prissy the next.

Hoseok considers himself to be more straightforward, but what does he know? Maybe Seokjin thinks he’s just as weird.

“I want to get some shots of you guys dancing,” Doyoung says, after they’ve both been in and out of the pool all afternoon. Seokjin had finally convinced Hoseok to go on the biggest slide, cackling maniacally as Hoseok shrieked the whole way down.

“What, like … together?” Seokjin looks up from where he’s been vigorously towelling his hair dry, squinting at Doyoung suspiciously. Hoseok frowns.

“Yeah, you just need to look like you’re having fun,” Doyoung says, which honestly doesn't help Hoseok's confusion at all.

“This isn't exactly the …” Hoseok pauses, gesturing around them, at all the families having fun by the pool. “... venue? For that?”

“It’s okay, we can edit later,” Doyoung reassures him.

That is … not what Hoseok was concerned about. Judging by the incredulous expression on Seokjin's face, it’s not what he was thinking either.

“Alright,” Hoseok says, finally, not wanting to seem high maintenance. “You’re in charge of the tunes, Doyoung-ssi.”

Hoseok starts moving as soon as Doyoung plays something from a speaker he pulled out from … god knows where, actually, Hoseok had no idea it was there. The beat is good, bass pounding, and Hoseok’s never really needed much of an excuse to dance.

Seokjin, on the other hand, stands awkwardly a few feet away from him, moving his arms a little bit but mostly just looking uncomfortable.

“Hyung!” Hoseok laughs, reaching out to pull Seokjin in. “Come on, dance with me!”

Seokjin laughs with him, letting Hoseok move his arms in time to the music, his body starting to loosen up a bit.

There’s a group of young people in swimsuits watching them, so Hoseok smiles and waves, beckoning for them to come over.

“What are you doing,” Seokjin says, a camera-friendly smile still plastered on his face.

“It’ll be fun,” Hoseok smiles back, craning his neck so he can lean around Seokjin and wave to his new friends.

And it is fun, everyone laughing as Seokjin’s moves get more and more ridiculous to compensate for his obvious embarrassment. One of the girls has a good sense of rhythm and she copies Hoseok’s moves, keeping up even when they get more complicated.

Hoseok smiles at her, and she smiles back, sunny and bright. She gestures at Seokjin, currently flailing around with a middle-aged European man, both of their faces flushed bright red, and says something Hoseok can’t understand. He makes a gesture that he hopes conveys I only speak Korean and enough English to say that I’m very happy to be here.

She laughs, and says something else. Hoseok thinks he catches “cute” at the end of it, so he nods and gives her a thumbs-up. She’s right: he is cute.

Then she makes a motion with her hands that Hoseok takes to mean he should move closer to Seokjin and Hoseok realizes, in a sickening instant, that she thinks Hoseok and Seokjin are cute. As in, cute together.

And for a brief, horrifying moment, Hoseok thinks about it. He thinks about all the things he’s never acknowledged he can’t have: holding hands with someone on the sidewalk, kissing them on the cheek, going on dates to trendy little cafés in broad daylight. Hoseok thinks about doing those things, and even more upsettingly: he thinks about doing those things with Seokjin.

The worst part is, Hoseok knows what most of those things are like already. He holds hands with Seokjin all the time. He’s gone out for coffee with him, wearing face masks and accompanied by their manager. He can’t remember a specific instance, but he’s sure he’s kissed Seokjin on the cheek recently. He kisses all the members on the cheek, and it’s okay, because it doesn’t mean anything. Because they know it doesn’t mean anything.

But no, that’s not even it. The real worst part is that now he can’t unthink it. It’s in his head now, and it’ll be in his head every time he sees Seokjin, every day for the rest of this trip. For the rest of their careers, maybe, or even their lives, which is so horrifying Hoseok can’t even let himself contemplate it.

Hoseok has no idea what his face is doing, but his new friend is starting to look a little uncertain, like maybe she’s just now realizing that she accidentally sent him into a violent anxiety spiral, and, well. That absolutely won’t do.

Hoseok cranks up his grin as bright as it’ll go, sing-songs thank you in his cutest voice, and then, in a spectacular display of poor judgment, dances over to Seokjin and pulls him close.

To his credit, Seokjin only stiffens for the briefest of moments before he laughs and relaxes, letting Hoseok guide his limbs into a silly dance to match the beat. It’s true that Seokjin has a horrific natural sense of rhythm, but he’s always made up for it with his determination, combined with a near-unmatched willingness to make a fool out of himself for the benefit of the people he cares about.

So Hoseok lets himself be guided by the music, and Seokjin lets himself be guided by Hoseok, and when the beat shifts into something slower, neither of them stop. Hoseok pulls Seokjin even closer, and he doesn't let himself close the gap between their hips, and he doesn’t let himself think about how they’re so close he can smell the sweat drying on Seokjin’s skin, and he definitely doesn’t let himself think about someone seeing the two of them together and thinking, cute.

It’s going great. Hoseok’s heartbeat is pounding in his ears, but that’s normal, right? He’s performing, of course there’s a rush. It doesn’t have to mean anything.

It doesn’t mean anything, but when Hoseok turns his head to the side Seokjin’s mouth is right there. It’s a nice mouth. Seokjin’s a nice-looking guy, and for the briefest of seconds Hoseok forgets where he is.

And for that one miserable, unforgivable second Hoseok lets himself think about it, and Seokjin sees him do it. When Hoseok’s eyes flick up to meet Seokjin’s they’re wide and knowing, scared and maybe a little intrigued. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

It doesn’t really matter either way, because in another instant Hoseok remembers everything at once — why they’re here, the crowd around them, Doyoung and the camera.

He jerks his head back and laughs, maybe a little too loud, leading Seokjin into one final spin before he moves on to dance next to a harmless Austrian grandmother instead.

And they really should be able to leave it behind them, that brief awkward moment that they could wordlessly agree to forget ever happened, but for the rest of the time they’re at the pool Hoseok can feel Seokjin’s gaze on him, heavy and uncomfortable.

 


 

Seokjin follows Hoseok to the room he’s sharing with Jimin when they get back to Salzburg. Hoseok isn’t surprised, not really, but it’s easier to pretend he doesn’t know why. To turn around and stare at Seokjin, who just stares right back like he has no idea why Hoseok is looking. Like he didn’t just walk into Hoseok’s room, for a reason neither of them can say out loud.

Hoseok can’t help huffing a little bit, annoyed at being forced to take responsibility for the awkwardness in the room.

“So,” he starts, then pauses as he realizes he has no idea where that sentence was headed.

“So,” Seokjin echoes, raising an eyebrow. Hoseok frowns.

“That was, um. Something.”

Seokjin makes a face like he’s trying very hard not to repeat back everything Hoseok says in a mocking voice. Hoseok appreciates the effort but honestly, even Seokjin making fun of him would be better than the current overwhelming, uncomfortable silence.

“Have you always looked at me like that?” Hoseok breaks first, blurting it out before he has time to think about what that means.

Seokjin just stares at him, eyes wide in mute horror. Hoseok can feel a prickle of anxiety sweat starting, at the back of his neck and under his arms. He forces himself to smile through it, to pretend it’s no big deal.

“Like what,” Seokjin says, finally.

“You know what,” Hoseok says, still bluffing a confidence he doesn’t feel. “Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

It’s a stupid question. He knows why Seokjin didn’t say anything; it’s the same reason Hoseok isn’t saying it now. Even now, when he’s trying to be direct, he still can’t put a voice to the way it felt when Seokjin looked at him at the pool, eyes dark and heavy.

“We work together,” Seokjin splutters. “What was I supposed to say? Hey Hobi, sometimes I’m glad I’m a bad dancer because it makes you pay more attention to me? Just drop that into the conversation?”

“Well, yeah!” Hoseok snaps, harsher than he’d like, taken aback by Seokjin’s sudden honesty. “How else would I know?”

You wouldn’t!” Seokjin hisses. “I wanted to take this to the grave!”

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!”

“Well, maybe I’m dumb!” Seokjin’s voice is rising steadily to a yell, his face flushing bright red to match.

“Don’t say that about yourself!” Hoseok yelps back, frustrated in a way he doesn’t entirely understand.

“Fine! I won’t!”

“Why are we still yelling!”

Seokjin’s face is so red now that he’s practically glowing, and they’re both breathing hard.

Hoseok can’t remember the last time he yelled this much and really meant it, and he’s not sure he’s ever seen Seokjin this out of control either. Seokjin yells a lot, sure, but it’s generally good-natured. When he’s really angry he goes silent, and sends a lot of “you know what you did” glares towards whoever offended him instead of actually doing anything about it. Hoseok’s pretty sure it’s why he gets along with Yoongi so well: they’re two peas in a pissy, silent pod.

Seokjin yelling like this is new, and kind of weird, but also kind of —

Kind of —

Huh.

 


 

The house doesn’t have air conditioning, just an open window and a fan. They’re both clammy with sweat, sticky everywhere they touch. If Hoseok stops to think about the discomfort, he’ll have to stop altogether, and some animal part of him doesn’t want that. Would do anything to prevent it.

So he turns off the camera in his and Jimin’s room, and he doesn’t think about it. Nudges Seokjin towards the bed and doesn’t think about it. Slings a leg over Seokjin’s hip. Doesn’t think about it.

“What do you want,” Seokjin whispers in the dark, one hand running up Hoseok’s back, underneath his shirt, tugging until Hoseok has to sit up and squirm out of it.

He looks down at Seokjin spread out under him, mouth already red and swollen. His cheeks are flushed, his hair clumped together with sweat. Hoseok doesn’t want to think about what he wants to do. About how much he wants to do it.

He lies down next to Seokjin instead, tugs until Seokjin is braced over him, wide shoulders so much broader than Hoseok’s.

Hoseok winds a hand into Seokjin’s hair, pulls him down closer so he doesn’t have to give a real answer. Seokjin’s mouth is slick, and Hoseok cranes his neck up to meet it.

Outside the room, a door slams.

Seokjin startles above him, jerking over to fall on his side. Hoseok pulls back to sit up in a rush, scrambling towards the edge of the bed.

“Hobi-hyung? Seokjin-hyung?”

Hoseok has never in his life had such an intense and immediate negative reaction to the sound of Jimin’s voice — not even the first time Jimin walked in on him jerking off.

Jimin’s footsteps get closer as Seokjin stares at Hoseok, frozen in place, wide-eyed and silent.

Hoseok winces and, in a moment of desperation, stands and reaches out to grab the towel Jimin left on the back of a chair after his morning shower, just as Jimin twists the doorknob to open the door.

“Have you guys been in here this whole time? I was yelling for you,” Jimin says, pushing into the room with the ease of someone with nothing to hide from his bandmates. Hoseok envies that ease. He’d felt it just six hours earlier; he’d like it back.

“Yelling is rude,” Seokjin sniffs, voice remarkably even. Jimin narrows his eyes.

“You yell literally all the time,” he points out, pouting his bottom lip. He looks cute like that, even if his tone makes him sound like a belligerent teenager.

“I am your hyung,” Seokjin says incredulously, over-the-top dramatic as though Jimin said something horrifically disrespectful, and not an objective truth. Jimin snorts.

“Okay,” he says slowly, rolling his eyes as he turns to look at Hoseok. He doesn’t say anything more for a moment, just stares.

“What,” Hoseok says nervously. “Why are you looking at me like that.”

“Why are you shirtless?” Jimin counters.

Hoseok doesn’t trust himself to lie while making direct eye contact, so he settles for lifting the towel in front of him in silent explanation. Behind Jimin, Seokjin snorts. Hoseok frowns at him, betrayed.

“Why does it feel so awkward in here?” Jimin asks slowly, head turning to stare at Seokjin for a moment before he whips it back to inspect Hoseok’s expression instead.

Hoseok laughs nervously, high-pitched and unnatural-sounding in the quiet room.

“It’s my perfume,” Seokjin says pointedly, glaring at Hoseok as he says it. “Eau de discomfort. You should try it sometime, it’s great.”

“If it’s not Chanel, I’m not interested.” Jimin’s voice is distracted, clearly not deeply invested in verbally sparring with Seokjin. He doesn’t seem too concerned, like he hasn’t yet decided anything is amiss, but —

But Hoseok’s entire body has started to sweat, and it’s only a matter of time before he breaks — one sharp glance from Jimin and it’ll be over. He can already feel the guilt creeping in.

“Jimin?”

Hoseok has never been so glad to hear Taehyung’s voice in his entire life. Jimin’s reaction is immediate: he perks up like a dog whose owner just got home, head twisting towards the hallway where Taehyung called from.

“Taehyungie!”

Hoseok watches, a little bewildered but not really surprised, as Jimin bounds out of the room, leaving the two of them alone again.

For a moment neither of them say anything, and then Seokjin clears his throat. When Hoseok looks over at him he’s staring intently, not at Hoseok but the blanket in front of him. He has one knee pulled up to his chest.

It’s a nice knee, Hoseok thinks idly. A little knobbly, but nice. If he touched it, it would probably be soft — Seokjin always remembers to moisturize. Soft, but bony underneath. Delicate.

“Why are you staring at my leg,” Seokjin says, jolting Hoseok out of his thoughts. He shrugs and laughs, a little uneasy.

“Why wouldn’t I?” Hoseok asks, put off by Seokjin’s bluntness. Seokjin’s eyes come up to meet Hoseok’s, gaze heavy and unreadable. Everything about Seokjin is unreadable, most of the time, unless he wants it to be read.

Hoseok wonders if that’s what’s always made him so uncomfortable. Out of all the members in the group, Seokjin’s the only one Hoseok never feels like he truly understands. There’s a fumbling quality to their interactions when they’re alone, neither of them quite sure what the other one wants. Neither of them able to find their footing.

“You should come to my room later,” Seokjin says, finally, surprisingly direct. “After dinner.”

Hoseok blinks, taken aback. It’s a terrible idea. Jimin could find out. Anyone could find out. Hell, Doyoung could find out.

It’s a terrible idea, and Hoseok should shrug it off, turn it into a joke. Seokjin would play along, probably. Maybe.

Possibly.

“Okay,” Hoseok says, because his mouth has apparently been possessed by the spirit of a much greater fool.

Oh god, or maybe he’s been the greater fool this whole time. He’d always thought it was Taehyung, but as far as Hoseok is aware, for all the time they spend almost making out on stage, Taehyung and Seokjin have never actually done it.

He doesn’t think. Now doesn’t seem like a great time to clarify.

“Okay,” Hoseok says again, as Seokjin stands and moves towards the door, voice projecting a confidence he doesn’t feel. “I’ll see you then.”

Seokjin shoots him finger guns, which is embarrassing, but Hoseok laughs anyway, and what’s really embarrassing is how long his smile takes to fade after Seokjin has left the room.

 


 

The rest of the evening passes in a haze. Hoseok goes to dinner with Yoongi and Jimin and the entire goddamn camera crew, and he thinks he manages to seem mostly normal. He smiles a lot, laughs with Jimin. Teases Yoongi until he scowls, then laughs with him too.

But the whole time he’s thinking about Seokjin, and Seokjin’s mouth, and how smooth the skin on Seokjin’s stomach had felt, once Hoseok got his hands underneath his shirt. Seokjin, who’s in his room, waiting.

It’s terrifying.

It’s the longest dinner of Hoseok’s life.

Jimin wants to go get a drink after dinner, because he’s Jimin and he always wants to get drinks. He coerces Yoongi into going with him using an impressive combination of insults, compliments, and veiled threats, but Hoseok waves them off, citing exhaustion (false), sunstroke (false), and poor alcohol tolerance (unfortunately, very true).

Jimin pouts but lets him go, too excited about having charmed Yoongi into paying for his drinks to care much either way, and then Hoseok is alone. They had dinner close to where they’re staying, so he walks back slowly.

It’s dark, and quiet, and there’s plenty of time to realize he’s making a huge mistake. Plenty of time to change his mind, but when he finally gets inside, Hoseok goes straight to Seokjin’s room, not even bothering to stop and freshen up.

He doesn’t even stop to knock.

 


 

It’s different in the dark. Everything is fuzzier; Hoseok can’t make out the expressions on Seokjin’s face.

But the feeling is the same, when Seokjin presses him back into the bed. Hoseok feels small, caged in but not trapped. It’s never been like this, with any of the girls he’s slept with. They were all his size, or smaller than him. They couldn’t move him where they wanted him.

Seokjin doesn’t really do that either; he’s tentative, cautious, following Hoseok’s lead. But he could, if he felt like it, and the knowledge alone is thrilling in a way Hoseok didn’t expect. He didn’t think he’d like it so much.

“Is this okay,” Seokjin murmurs when he pushes at Hoseok’s shorts, encouraging Hoseok to lift his hips and shimmy them off.

Hoseok nods, inhaling sharply and burying his face into Seokjin’s neck. It’s … a lot, feeling Seokjin all over him like this. They’ve barely done anything, and Hoseok already feels so much. It scares him, a little, if he lets himself think too much about it.

“You too,” he says, to distract himself. Seokjin pulls back to look at him, eyes wide and shocked, like somehow he didn’t expect Hoseok would want to do all the same things to him. Seokjin’s always like this: brazen until he’s not, suddenly shy at the strangest times. Hoseok doesn’t know why it hits him so hard, all of a sudden.

He smiles, so Seokjin will know it’s okay. That he wants it too.

Seokjin takes a deep breath and then nods, letting Hoseok slide his shorts down his legs until he can shake them off, too, losing them in the rumpled sheets at the end of the bed.

There’s a roaring in Hoseok’s ears and his heart is still pounding in his chest, making it hard to catch his breath. His fingers dig into Seokjin’s shoulders through the fabric of his shirt.

Hoseok pulls away to gasp, “Why are you still wearing this,” tugging at the hem. Seokjin sits up and obliges, and Hoseok takes a moment just to stare. There’s a lot of skin on display and it’s — a lot.

Seokjin leans over him, slides his palms up under Hoseok’s shirt until Hoseok gets the message, and Hoseok sits up just far enough to tug it up over his head, too, immediately lying back on the bed as soon as he’s pulled himself free of the fabric.

It’s even more overwhelming, feeling all that skin against his. Hoseok has lived with six other boys for years and years now, and he’s never considered this before. Never let himself wonder.

It’s probably good, he thinks now, gasping a little as Seokjin shifts above him, letting out an involuntary whine. If he’d known he could have this, he’s sure he wouldn’t have been able to bear it.

Hoseok’s not sure he can bear it now: it’s foreign to him, feeling out of his head like this. Sometimes Jimin will say things to him, about how he lost his temper and said things he doesn’t even remember. Hoseok never understood it until now. He’s not angry, not upset at all, but he doesn’t feel in control of himself either.

Seokjin reaches in between them and Hoseok loses his train of thought completely, gasping against Seokjin’s neck.

“Do that again,” he whines, needy in a way he’s never been before.

Seokjin does it again, and Hoseok doesn’t think about much more after that.

 


 

Hoseok wakes up sweaty and uncomfortable, a tiny voice in the back of his brain telling him he’s done something incredibly stupid.

He ignores it, yawning, and rolls over right into — oh god. Right into the warm body next to him, which startles and yelps in response.

Hoseok startles and yelps back, rolling right back over and almost pitching himself off the side of the bed in the process.

“Oh my god,” he breathes, heart rate spiking.

“Oh my god,” the body next to him echoes, in Seokjin’s voice. In Seokjin’s voice, because it is Seokjin. Because he’s in Seokjin’s bed.

“Is this real,” Hoseok whispers, voice as small as he can make it.

“I think so,” the Seokjin-shaped lump next to him croaks in response. “Unfortunately.”

“Okay. Let’s just,” Hoseok starts, mostly to himself. He pauses to take a deep breath, noticing that he’s not wearing pants and trying his very best not to dwell on it. “Let’s just get up, first. Let’s just start with that.”

“Great idea,” Seokjin grunts, voice cracking. “You first.”

Hoseok glares at him, but Seokjin’s face is still covered in decorative quilt, so it’s pointless.

“Fine,” he huffs, throwing the quilt off his legs and pushing himself to the edge of the bed. Seokjin grunts again, but doesn’t move. Hoseok rolls his eyes and gets up to grab his jeans off the floor, searching the pockets for his phone.

There are quite a few messages, just like always, but the one that catches Hoseok’s eye is a message from Namjoon to the group chat.

group meeting in my room at 10

Hoseok’s eyes flick up to the top of the screen. It’s 9:45.

“Uh, hyung?” he ventures. “You should probably get up now.”

 


 

“So, something has come to my attention that I think we need to go over as a group,” Namjoon says, voice grave, once he's gotten the seven of them herded into the room he’s sharing with Jeongguk. He turned the cameras off before any of the rest of them got there, which feels ominous.

Hoseok freezes. He’s been on edge ever since he got Namjoon’s message, his entire body rigid with an unshakeable tension.

“I’m sorry!” he yelps, before he can stop himself. “Seokjin-hyung and I slept together! I’m so sorry!”

There’s a moment of complete, agonizing silence. When Hoseok’s gaze flits over to Seokjin his mouth is gaping in disbelief, eyebrows doing something murderous. Hoseok looks away quickly.

“Um, okay,” Namjoon says slowly, visibly pulling himself back together. “I was gonna talk about how we found out Taehyung’s allergic to poppy seeds, but that’s … wow. Okay.”

“Forget about Taehyung,” Jimin says, looking delighted. “This is so much better.”

“Rude,” Taehyung says, voice mild.

“Sorry, baby.” Jimin reaches over to pat his head in apology, and Taehyung preens at the affection.

“Taehyung’s allergic to poppy seeds?” Yoongi interrupts, either very concerned with Taehyung’s wellbeing or very unconcerned with Hoseok’s sex life. Either way, Hoseok could kiss him, if kissing his coworkers wasn’t exactly what got him into this situation in the first place.

“Yeah, he almost went into anaphylactic shock yesterday,” Namjoon says, waving a hand dismissively. “It was a whole thing.”

“I have an epi-pen now!” Taehyung says proudly. Jimin coos at him, patting his head again as Jeongguk looks on with mild disgust. Or maybe it’s jealousy. It can be a little hard to tell, with Jeongguk.

“Back to our discussion,” Jimin says, after a moment spent scratching behind Taehyung’s ears. “Hoseok-hyung. You and Seokjin-hyung? Really?”

“Is there anything to be discussed, though? I don’t think so,” Hoseok says nervously. “It happened! It’s done! Let’s move on!”

“I think there’s plenty to discuss,” Namjoon butts in, because he’s a traitor. “I mean, I think I can speak for the group when I say that I did not see this coming.”

“Right?” Jimin chimes in. “I didn’t even know you slept with dudes, Hoseok-hyung!”

“Yeah, well. You know.” Hoseok laughs nervously. “Life is a journey.”

“I always thought it’d be Taehyung and Jimin,” Jeongguk says slowly. He looks a little dazed, but he still reaches out a fist for Seokjin to bump. “Get it, hyung.”

Hoseok snorts out a laugh, a little hysterical, as Seokjin touches his fist to Jeongguk’s without even looking up, his eyes fixed stubbornly on the floor.

“What do you know?” Jimin sniffs, hand still tangled in Taehyung's hair. “Taetae and I are incredibly professional.”

“Yah, Park Jimin. How many times have you touched Taehyung’s butt in the past week? Just like, ballpark,” Yoongi drawls from where he’s scooched in next to Seokjin on the couch. Jimin sniffs, affronted.

Seokjin still hasn’t said anything, crowded into his corner of the couch and hugging one of the throw pillows to his chest, and it’s a little unnerving. Usually when there’s this much ridiculousness in a room, Seokjin is at the centre of it.

Hoseok realizes, admittedly a little late, that maybe Seokjin had wanted to keep the whole thing a secret from the rest of the group. The rest of the group, who have now moved on from harassing Jimin to loudly and animatedly discussing how often, on average, Hoseok touches Seokjin’s butt in the span of a week, and whether it’s more or less often than the group’s butt-touching average.

“Well!” Hoseok says abruptly, loud enough to cut through Jimin’s impassioned defence of his own ass-groping tendencies. “This has been super fun and enlightening, but I actually have a lot of things to do! And I’m sure everyone else does too, so let’s just. Do that! And stop talking about this!”

Hoseok ignores Yoongi’s look of judgment, clapping his hands together and pushing himself to a standing position.

“Actually, I wanted — ” Namjoon starts, but Hoseok doesn't let him finish.

“I don’t really care what you wanted, Namjoon,” he snaps before he can stop himself. Someone in the room gasps — Jeongguk, maybe — but Hoseok ignores it, plastering on the biggest, fakest smile he can manage. “We can talk about it later, okay? Okay! Great!”

With that Hoseok leaves the room, heart pounding unpleasantly in his chest. His hands are trembling, just a little bit, adrenaline he hadn't even noticed before now leaving him shaky and drained.

Hoseok doesn't want to go back to the room he’s sharing with Jimin. Doesn't want to go anywhere the rest of the group will be able to find him, but it’s late and he doesn't have a lot of options. He feels too guilty to call a manager to take him outside the hotel.

He compromises with himself by going back to the room and immediately camping out in the bathroom, locking the door behind him so if Jimin comes back to the room he won’t be able to come in. Won’t be able to see whatever is on Hoseok’s face. Hoseok is purposefully avoiding his own expression in the mirror, so he honestly has no idea what Jimin would find.

He unlocks his phone, ignores every single incoming message, and opens a voice call instead.

“Hoseok-ah? Is everything okay?”

“Noona,” Hoseok says, breathlessly, overwhelmed with relief at Jiwoo’s voice in a way he hasn’t been since he was very young. “Noona, you have to help me.”

“Did somebody die?” Jiwoo laughs a little as she says it, like it honestly doesn’t occur to her that he might be serious.

“Worse,” Hoseok says, miserable. “Noona. I did something really stupid.”

“Yah, Jung Hoseok, what is this? Did you kill somebody?”

“Still worse!” Hoseok yelps. “I slept with somebody!”

“Oh my god.” Jiwoo is laughing for real now, and Hoseok lets out an anguished whine.

“Noona! This is serious!”

“What, did Dispatch catch you?”

“No! Worse than that!”

“What’s worse than ruining your entire career with your dick?”

“Ruining my bandmate’s entire career with my dick,” Hoseok says miserably, and waits for Jiwoo to get it. He can tell the exact moment it sinks in, because she lets out a particularly high-pitched wheezing cackle, directly into the phone speaker. Hoseok flinches.

“Oh my god,” Jiwoo gasps. “Oh my god. I didn’t think that really happened, oh my god.”

“Well, usually it doesn’t! Stop laughing!”

“I have to tell all my friends,” Jiwoo whispers.

“You will not, stop picking on me!” Hoseok whisper-yells in return. He feels like his entire body is flushed red in humiliation. He hopes Jimin isn’t back yet: the only thing worse than having this conversation would be someone witnessing him having this conversation.

“Hoseok-ah. You’re my baby brother. You told on me when you found cigarettes in my bag in high school. You’ve probably earned more money in the 4 minutes we’ve been on the phone than I will this entire month. I can pick on you as much as I want.”

Jiwoo points all of this out in her fakest pleasant voice. She sounds like a customer service representative. Hoseok pulls the phone back from his ear just so he can make a face at the blank screen. He hopes Jiwoo can sense it, even halfway across the world with no video connection.

“Well, if you’re not going to help, I’m going to go,” Hoseok says, finally, bringing the phone back to his ear and exaggerating an irritated sniff to cover up … whatever it is he’s actually feeling. He doesn’t want to think too deeply about it at the moment. If he starts crying on the phone with Jiwoo, he’ll never live it down.

“Wait, wait, Hoseok-ah,” Jiwoo laughs. “I really love you, okay? I love you no matter what you did. Or who you did, I guess.”

Hoseok grunts to let her know he’s heard and hangs up quickly before Jiwoo can hear him sniffle for real. He forces his face into an unbearably brittle smile, not sure who he’s trying to fool: there’s no one else in the room. It just feels safer if he’s smiling. Easier to deal with.

I love you tooooooo~, he messages Jiwoo, to assuage the twinge of guilt he feels for leaving her hanging. She responds immediately with a string of hearts followed by a single laughing dog sticker. Hoseok’s fake smile fades a little, melting into something more real.

He locks his phone screen and stands up, taking a deep breath, and opens the bathroom door, bracing himself for Jimin’s inevitable curious expression on the other side.

But when he steps back into the bedroom it’s not Jimin who’s waiting for him: it’s Seokjin, his face still a little red, shifting uncomfortably where he’s standing by the end of Jimin’s bed.

“We should talk,” he mutters, not meeting Hoseok’s eyes.

 


 

“You know, I didn’t really understand that people could be bad at dancing until I met you,” Hoseok confesses, once he’s settled on the edge of the bed. Seokjin has tentatively perched himself all the way on the other end, like he needs to maintain his distance. The silence is awkward enough that Hoseok feels desperate to fill it.

Seokjin chokes out a startled laugh.

“Wow, rude.”

“Wait, no,” Hoseok tries to keep a straight face, to show Seokjin he’s being serious, but he can’t help laughing along with him. “Hyung! I’m not finished!”

“Oh good, there’s more,” Seokjin says dryly, but there’s a smile playing at the corner of his mouth.

“I just meant,” Hoseok pauses.

He’s never been that good with words, even though technically that’s how he makes his living. He’s good at feeling things, at showing them. Saying it out loud is always harder.

“I meant that before I met you I thought everyone else just wasn’t trying hard enough, or that. That they didn’t love it enough. But then I saw how hard you worked, even though you’d never danced before. It wasn’t easy for you, but you still worked so hard. I really admired that.”

Seokjin blinks at him, seemingly at a loss for words.

“I still really admire you, hyung,” Hoseok finishes a little awkwardly, cheeks hot. “I’m glad I met you.”

“I’m really glad I met you too, Hoseok-ah,” Seokjin says quietly, after a moment. He looks nervous, fidgeting with his hands and unable to meet Hoseok’s eyes for longer than a split second at a time.

Hoseok laughs again, uncomfortable in the silence.

“Ah, hyung. This atmosphere … ”

Seokjin snorts and looks away, gaze trained on the wall.

“It was easier when we just fucked without talking about it, huh,” he says. Hoseok chokes on nothing, face turning bright red.

“Hyung,” he manages. “If you want to, we could try, like. Dating?”

Seokjin whips his head over to look at Hoseok, eyes searching.

“Is that what you really want?”

Hoseok laughs, a little awkwardly.

“What do you mean? Of course it is. I asked, didn’t I?”

Seokjin pauses, his face solemn. Hoseok twitches under his unflinching gaze.

“I admired you too, you know,” Seokjin says, finally.

Hoseok blinks at the non sequitur.

“Um. Thanks?”

“I admired how much you wanted it. How hard you worked for your dreams,” Seokjin continues, voice serious. “Because I didn’t have any.”

“Hyung … ”

“I don't want to do anything that’ll fuck up the group,” Seokjin says, wincing like he just admitted something horribly embarrassing, rather than stating the obvious. Hoseok frowns.

“Of course you don't, hyung,” he says slowly. “I don't want that either.”

“So don’t fuck up your dreams because of me, okay?” Seokjin finishes. He’s not meeting Hoseok’s eyes anymore. “Don’t do it just because you think that’s what I want. Just … don’t. I’ll be fine.”

Is that what you want?” Hoseok asks softly, barely able to breathe.

Seokjin looks up sharply, eyes searching for something in Hoseok’s face. Hoseok doesn’t know what his expression is giving away. Doesn’t know what Seokjin can see.

“I want everything to go back to normal,” Seokjin says.

“I want that too,” Hoseok says, because he does. Even if saying it out loud makes something twist unpleasantly in his stomach.

“Great,” Seokjin says, too loud in the quiet room. “Then let’s just do that, okay? Like none of this ever happened.”

“Great,” Hoseok echoes, forcing himself to smile.

He doesn’t know why it feels like he’s lying.

 


 

It gets a lot easier once they’re back in Seoul. Everything is non-stop, the same way it was before they left, and Hoseok doesn’t have any time to linger on the strange, unsettled feeling he gets when he looks at Seokjin. It’s the way Hoseok wants it.

Isn’t it?

 


 

“Hoseok-hyung.”

“Yes, Jimin-ah?” Hoseok does his best to sound like a patient and understanding roommate, while also conveying that it’s 1 in the morning and he would very much prefer sleeping to chatting, thank you. It’s a tough balance, but he thinks he pulls it off.

“Did you really hook up with Seokjin-hyung?”

Or maybe not.

“Park Jimin,” Hoseok laughs uneasily. “Why would I ever lie about something as awkward as that?”

There’s a pause while Jimin apparently considers this very seriously. Hoseok tries not to fidget and fails, and the sound of his sheets rustling is almost deafeningly loud in the quiet of the room. He wishes, suddenly and intensely, that they had a white noise machine in their bedroom so they could avoid moments like this entirely. Should they get one? They should definitely get one.

“It’s just so unexpected,” Jimin says, finally, interrupting Hoseok’s train of thought. “Was it, like. Good?”

Hoseok can practically hear Jimin wrinkling his nose, can picture his expression vividly even though it’s too dark to actually see him.

“Jimin-ah, what kind of question is that?” Hoseok laughs uncomfortably, trying not to think about Seokjin’s quiet gasps in the dark. Trying not to think about Seokjin’s hands fumbling with his shirt, then his shorts —

Hoseok bangs his head against the pillow to clear it.

“I tell you about stuff like that,” Jimin says, and Hoseok can hear the sheets move as he shrugs.

“Yeah, when it’s people I don’t know,” Hoseok points out. Jimin laughs, as though Hoseok just said something absolutely hysterical. Hoseok scowls in his direction.

“Sorry, sorry!” Jimin giggles, like he can tell Hoseok is frowning at him, even though the room is still dark and Hoseok never said anything either way. “It’s just so awkward. You and Seokjin-hyung.”

“It’s okay,” Hoseok says, begrudgingly. “You’re right. It is awkward.”

“Have you like … talked to him about it? I feel like you should talk to him about it,” Jimin says.

“We talked when it happened,” Hoseok says vaguely. “That’s enough, right? I don’t think there’s really anything else to say.”

As soon as the words leave his mouth he knows he’s lying. He winces, hoping Jimin can’t tell. But Jimin can always tell, and there’s another rustle of the sheets before the lamp clicks on, bathing the room in yellow light. Hoseok blinks and squints over in his direction, making eye contact with a sleepy, frowning Jimin, barely 3 feet away. His hair is sticking up all over his head, fluffy and matted on one side from the pillow. He looks like a disgruntled baby chick.

“Hyung,” Jimin says, still frowning. “There’s a lot to say. You guys slept together, and now you have to see each other every day. We work together every day. What are you gonna do, pretend it never happened until Seokjin-hyung enlists?”

“Um,” Hoseok stalls. Yes, that’s exactly what he was planning on doing, but he has a feeling if he tells that to Jimin it won’t go over well. “Well.”

“Hyung,” Jimin says again. “You’re really useless sometimes, you know that? And Seokjin-hyung is even worse.”

“Hey,” Hoseok frowns. “I’m doing my best, Jimin-ah.”

And the worst part is that he is. It’s just that in this particular case, his best isn’t very good. It’s like he’s back in his middle school math class again, needing to understand integers but not willing or able to do any of the work to figure it out.

Jimin must see it in his expression, because his face softens a little.

“Hobi-hyung,” he says quietly. “It’s okay if it’s hard. But don’t let it grow into something really bad, okay? And you know Seokjin-hyung isn’t gonna bring it up.”

So why does it have to be me? Hoseok thinks, but doesn’t say. Why does he have to be the one to do it? Seokjin was there, too.

He takes a deep breath, in and out.

“I know,” he says, finally. “And I will, okay? I’ll figure it out.”

“Okay,” Jimin says quietly. “I’m always here for you, you know that right? If you need help doing the figuring.”

Hoseok would rather die than ask for Jimin’s help figuring out his feelings, and he knows Jimin knows that, but it’s sweet of Jimin to offer. He smiles as he reaches for the light.

“Ah, my sweet Jiminie,” Hoseok says into the darkness, pitching his voice up as cutely as he can. “What have I ever done to deserve a friend like you?”

“You deserve everything, Hobi-hyung,” Jimin murmurs, voice muffled from where he’s already buried his head back into his pillow.

Hoseok lets out an obnoxious awwwww, as loud as he can get without disrupting anyone else in the dorm, and tries to pretend Jimin’s words don’t make him want to cry.

 


 

It would be easier, Hoseok thinks, if he was the only one who felt weird. If Seokjin seemed like he was genuinely unaffected by the tension between them, Hoseok thinks he could probably get over it. If someone doesn’t want him, there’s nothing to be done for it — that’s on him, and he can deal with it alone.

But Seokjin is acting weirder than anyone else in the group. Weirder than Jeongguk, who can sniff out tension between the other members with startling accuracy, but never does anything to fix it — just watches the offending parties with a wide-eyed stare until they resolve it on their own.

Jeongguk’s impressive puppy eyes have nothing on Seokjin’s newfound clumsiness, or his constant blushing, or his inability to stay in a room alone with Hoseok for longer than 15 seconds.

It’s ridiculous, but it stings. It stings, and it makes Hoseok feel unwelcome all the time, even in places he knows he has every right to be in — the practice room, the van, even the dressing rooms backstage.

It’s getting harder and harder to avoid Jimin’s knowing glances, especially considering they sleep in the same room every night. Hoseok actually caught himself idly thinking about spending the night in his studio to avoid Jimin asking him about Seokjin, which is so embarrassing he can’t think about it directly without blushing, even days later.

And it’s not just Jimin. Everyone else is starting to notice, too.

Namjoon probably thinks he’s being subtle, constantly staring at Hoseok and then turning away as soon as Hoseok looks back. And Taehyung hasn’t said anything, but he keeps sending considering glances Hoseok’s way. Horrifyingly, sometimes they’re accompanied by a knowing eyebrow raise.

At this point only Yoongi is safe, and Hoseok is pretty sure it’s only because he’s deliberately choosing not to get involved — yet another reason Yoongi is the only hyung he can trust.

 


 

“I think Seokjin-hyung’s been kind of sad lately,” Jeongguk confesses around a mouthful of noodles, late one night after practice. It’s just the two of them, the other boys already gone home or back to their own studios. Jeongguk is on his second cup already; Hoseok has barely started his first.

Hoseok freezes and swallows his own noodles with some difficulty, coughing a little bit. He feels a sharp spike of nauseating panic. It has to be bad, if Jeongguk is willing to bring it up despite his own discomfort.

“Because of me?” he manages, once his windpipe is clear, even though he’s pretty sure he already knows the answer.

Jeongguk shrugs.

“I dunno, maybe,” he says. “Maybe not.”

“Aww, Jeongguk,” Hoseok sighs. It’s sweet of Jeongguk to try and protect him. Or maybe Jeongguk really doesn’t know, and he’s just being dumb, not nice. Either option is endearing, in its own way. “That’s so unhelpful. But thank you.”

Jeongguk smiles at him, sunny and bright, clearly proud of himself. When Hoseok reaches out to ruffle his hair, cooing at him until Jeongguk blushes, it’s practically a Pavlovian response.

Hoseok tries to focus on that — on Jeongguk’s happy smile, the pride on his face at having successfully navigated an adult conversation — instead of thinking about Seokjin. He’s not very successful, but he does try.

 


 

Namjoon waits a few weeks to bring it up, which is infuriatingly courteous of him. Namjoon gives Hoseok just enough time to think they’ve moved on before cornering him in his studio, under the guise of helping him with his Japanese.

“So, ah,” Namjoon pauses to clear his throat. He’s already blushing, which is a bad sign: he hasn’t even said anything yet. “Are you and Seokjin-hyung good?”

Hoseok should have known it was a ruse; Namjoon’s Japanese isn’t even that good. He frowns, irritated.

“Why does everyone keep asking me that?” Hoseok doesn’t mean for it to come out so snippy. Namjoon blinks, clearly taken aback.

“Well,” he says slowly. “I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m asking because I care. And because I want to make sure the group is going to be okay.”

Hoseok flushes immediately, humiliated that Namjoon has to be so blunt. Namjoon never has to speak to him like this; Hoseok’s always been able to take care of his own problems.

“I’m sorry, Joon,” he says, contrite. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that.”

Namjoon shrugs, still looking at him carefully. Hoseok laughs a little, uncomfortable under his calm scrutiny.

“You’re fine,” Namjoon says finally, voice kind. Hoseok’s face still feels so red. He winces.

“It wasn’t,” he insists. “I snapped at you before, too, in front of everybody. I shouldn’t have done that.”

“You were stressed,” Namjoon counters. “Everyone knew you didn’t mean it. But thank you for apologizing.”

Hoseok wishes Namjoon wasn’t being so calm about this. He feels like he has a rash all over his whole body, itchy and impossible to ignore, but Namjoon is acting like they’re having a conversation about the weather.

“I was stressed,” Hoseok agrees. “It was … unexpected.”

He feels like a child, having to be pulled aside to explain his behaviour. He’s so embarrassed.

“It was,” Namjoon nods in agreement. “Had you ever, um. You know. With a guy? Before?”

He’s starting to lose his calm composure, now, clearly a little flustered but equally clearly determined to ask. Hoseok doesn’t know if that makes him feel better or worse.

He shakes his head.

“There’s a first time for everything!” He laughs, like it’s a big joke, but Namjoon just frowns thoughtfully and nods, like he’s really processing it.

“Are you, like. Gay? Or, um. Bi?”

Hoseok stares at him. He hasn’t actually thought about it. He’d been so worried about what it meant for the group that he never bothered to think about what it meant for him.

Huh.

“I guess so!” He smiles at Namjoon, like this is absolutely something he knew about himself and not a conclusion he just came to in the last 30 seconds.

“So … which one?”

Hoseok doesn’t want to talk about this. He doesn’t want to talk about it, and he really doesn’t want to think about it, but Namjoon loves thinking about everything and Hoseok’s known him for long enough to know that if he doesn’t give him what he wants now, it’ll only get worse from here.

“Bi? I guess?” He laughs again, significantly more uncomfortable-sounding than his last attempt.

“Huh,” Namjoon nods yet again. “Well. Everyone in the group will accept you no matter what, okay? And you can let me know if you ever want to like. Talk about it.”

It’s clear from his hesitant tone that he knows Hoseok will never want to like, talk about it. Hoseok smiles, a real one this time, and fakes an exaggerated salute. Namjoon rolls his eyes and smiles.

 


 

Hoseok makes it an impressive two more days before he caves, crawling into Yoongi’s studio in the middle of the night with his metaphorical tail between his legs.

Yoongi turns in his chair when the door opens, somehow tiny and intimidating at the same time. Like the Godfather, but wearing stained sweatpants with a flu mask pulled down underneath his chin.

“Yoongi-hyung, you have to help me,” Hoseok whines, draping himself across the couch. “Everything with Seokjin-hyung is so weird, I don’t know what to do.”

“Hello to you too,” Yoongi says dryly, one eyebrow raised. Hoseok just whines louder.

“Hyung, come on,” he begs.

“Have you tried … talking to him?” Yoongi winces, like he can’t believe the words that just came out of his own mouth. Hoseok sighs in exasperation, exaggerated and loud in the studio.

Yes,” he explains. “I did talk to him, and he said this was what he wanted! But it’s so weird now!”

Yoongi narrows his eyes.

“Were those his exact words,” he says, flat and suspicious. Hoseok frowns and tries to remember.

“Maybe he said it was what I wanted,” he admits, finally. “I’m not really sure.”

Yoongi takes a deep breath, visibly bracing himself, and then lets the air out with impressive gusto. And then he does it again, staring Hoseok directly in the eye the whole time.

“Yoongi-hyung,” Hoseok whines. “Don’t be mean!”

“Hoseok-ah,” Yoongi says gravely. “Please listen to me very carefully, because I’m only going to say this once.”

Hoseok leans in.

“Seokjin-hyung is a fucking idiot.”

“Hyung!” Hoseok laughs despite himself, startled, as he pulls back and resettles himself on the couch.

“He was fishing,” Yoongi continues, sounding exhausted. “I’d bet money on it.”

“Wait. So you think … ” Hoseok trails off as he tries to puzzle it out.

“I think he thinks that he cares about you more than you care about him. I think he was hoping you’d disagree with him, and now he’s upset that you didn’t,” Yoongi says. “And I think he’s a moron, for not realizing you’d have no idea that’s what he wanted.”

Hoseok frowns.

“I don’t want him to be upset,” he says. It makes him feel squirmy inside, knowing Seokjin is upset because of something Hoseok did. Even if Hoseok hadn’t known he was doing it.

“Well, what do you want?” Yoongi asks.

Hoseok’s frown gets even deeper.

What does he want? Does he even know? Oh god, how can he not know?

“I want to think about this,” he says, finally, voice firm. “I’ll get back to you when I know more.”

“I think Seokjin-hyung’s the one you should be getting back to, actually,” Yoongi says mildly. “But I’m here too, I guess.”

 


 

Once, back when they were still trainees, Hoseok had needed Yoongi for something — help with wordplay, maybe, or maybe he’d just wanted to see him. He doesn’t remember now. What he does remember is the lecture Yoongi had given him after Hoseok sent a message that just said i need to talk to you, with no further details.

“You can’t just say shit like that with no explanation, Hoseok-ah,” he’d groaned, one hand clutched to his forehead like he was in physical pain. “I thought you were going to tell me something really bad, like you were leaving. Something like that.”

Hoseok, who really had left for a brief period just a few weeks earlier, had taken Yoongi’s words to heart and done his best to avoid sending any more ominous messages.

But if Yoongi could see the hyung i think we need to talk Hoseok sends to Seokjin at nine in the morning on Thursday he would murder him, probably.

are you dying, Seokjin sends in response, and then 10 seconds later, if this is about the 2nd floor toilet, that was jeongguk

Hoseok grimaces and decides he doesn’t want to know.

i’m being serious hyung, he types. That feels a little too direct, so he adds a few big-eyed emojis after it to soften the blow.

The little “1” next to Hoseok’s message disappears, so Seokjin definitely sees it, but there’s a long pause before he sends anything in response. Long enough that Hoseok closes the window and puts his phone down on the desk, face up where he’ll see it right away when he gets a notification.

His phone lights up two minutes later. He peers at the screen.

are you in your studio?
i can be there in 20 minutes

Hoseok types out a quick ok see u then ^^

He tries to focus on work in the time it takes Seokjin to get there, but really he just ends up spending a lot of time staring blankly at his computer screen. It makes him feel strange, knowing something as simple as talking to Seokjin — Seokjin, who he’s known for over six years now —

Seokjin, who’s opening the door.

Hoseok turns to face him, trying to look welcoming. Seokjin has a look on his face like he’s about to say something ridiculous, so Hoseok interrupts him before he can start.

“I think we made a mistake, not talking about what happened,” Hoseok blurts out, cutting off whatever Seokjin was going to say. Seokjin closes his mouth. His eyebrows furrow for a moment, and then he opens his mouth again.

“Who says it’s a mistake?” Seokjin says, voice obstinate.

“Everyone has been asking me about it,” Hoseok points out. “You said we could go back to normal, but it’s been so weird ever since we — you know.”

He can’t seem to force himself to say it out loud, which is bizarre. Hoseok has never been a person who’s afraid of saying things that make other people uncomfortable. The difference, he supposes, is that this time he’s the one who’s uncomfortable. He doesn’t like it at all.

“It’s been normal,” Seokjin says. It’s an obvious lie, and Hoseok huffs out a breath, frustrated.

“It hasn’t,” he says, not quite able to keep the annoyance out of his voice. “You’re being incredibly weird.”

“Rude,” Seokjin says, laughing unsteadily.

“You can barely stand to be in the same room as me anymore,” Hoseok points out.

“Okay, so maybe I panicked! It happens!”

“I know it does, but I just don’t understand why you had to lie about it!” Hoseok yells back, frustrated.

“I didn’t lie!” Seokjin protests, ears red. “I just didn’t tell the whole truth!”

“That’s lying!” Hoseok can feel his voice getting shrill.

“You were giving me that face — that face, that exact face, the one you’re making right now — like you were expecting something from me!”

Hoseok blinks, trying not to get offended.

“Hyung. What do you think I expect from you?”

Seokjin’s mouth snaps shut.

“Hyung,” Hoseok says again, feeling his mouth turn down in a frown.

“You were doing just fine before I fucked it up for you!”

“You mean, before you fucked me.”

Seokjin’s face flushes a brilliant, painful red, the colour spilling down over his neck and chest.

“Yes!” His voice is loud enough to make Hoseok flinch back. “I feel like I took advantage of you! Like you were probably straight and you were probably doing fine and you probably never had to think about this at all, until I went and ruined it!”

“Hyung. You didn’t take advantage of me,” Hoseok says seriously, frowning. His heartbeat is roaring in his ears. “And I wasn’t straight, either. I already told Namjoonie that I’m probably bi.”

“Oh, well if you told Namjoonie,” Seokjin says, voice wry, but the tension in his mouth softens a little.

“My point is … ” Hoseok pauses, frowning. What is his point? “My point is, you didn’t make me do anything. And you didn’t change me, hyung. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Then why do we both feel so fucking bad, huh?” Seokjin asks, jabbing his finger for emphasis, eyes widening like he’s just made an incredibly salient point.

“Who said I’m feeling bad?”

“You did! You said we had to talk about it!”

“That doesn’t mean I’m feeling bad!”

“Doesn’t it?”

“If you felt bad, why didn’t you say something?” Hoseok changes his position, raising his eyebrows. A challenge. “How was I supposed to know?”

“You didn’t say anything either,” Seokjin points out, belligerent as always. Hoseok takes a deep breath, trying not to snap at him.

“I should have,” Hoseok admits. “But I was too scared.”

“I am too,” Seokjin says, quietly. “I’m scared and I feel bad.”

“Well,” Hoseok starts, pausing to take a deep fortifying breath before he bravely soldiers on. “I think, hyung, that maybe you feel bad because we didn’t talk about it.”

Seokjin clutches his chest like he’s been shot.

“This betrayal! And from you, of all people! When I trusted you the most!”

Hoseok has to fight against every instinct to laugh along with Seokjin, to let him get away with it. Hoseok wants to let him get away with it. He wants to let Seokjin carry the conversation somewhere safe, to a place that won’t break them both out in figurative hives and maybe even actual, real-life tears.

But if Hoseok lets Seokjin do this now, in the long run they won’t be getting away with anything at all. They’ll both be miserable, just like they have been ever since that night. Hoseok thinks about Jeongguk’s earnest concern, and Yoongi’s dry advice, and feels the corners of his mouth tighten. He doesn’t want them to be disappointed in him. He takes a deep breath.

“Hyung. I’m being serious.”

Hoseok sits on his hands to keep them from shaking as he watches Seokjin carefully, searching for his reaction. He hopes Seokjin doesn’t notice.

Seokjin just stares at him, mouth a little open, like he honestly doesn’t know how to respond.

“You first,” he says, finally. The words are childish, but he’s looking at Hoseok like he really means it. Like he’s trying.

“It made me upset when you said everything should go back to normal,” Hoseok says, carefully. His face feels like it’s on fire. He takes a deep breath, and makes himself look right at Seokjin as he says it. “It made me really upset.”

Seokjin breathes in sharply, like he’s hurt. Hoseok doesn’t understand why — he didn’t say anything mean. Or at least, he wasn’t trying to say anything mean.

“What did you want me to say?” Seokjin asks, very quietly.

“I don’t know,” Hoseok admits. “I just … ”

He trails off, frustrated, his whole body strung tight. He’s still sitting on his hands. How do people do this? Just, know what they’re feeling? And then explain it to another person?

“Yoongi thought you were probably just saying what you thought I’d want to hear,” Hoseok says, finally, instead of trying to dig any deeper for thoughts he know won’t come.

Seokjin blinks again, head jerking back a little as he absorbs this.

“Why were you talking to Yoongi about me?” Seokjin sounds defensive. He’s not yelling yet but Hoseok can tell he will be soon, if they don’t diffuse the tension.

“I was worried,” Hoseok says honestly. “I didn’t want things to be bad between us. Or bad for the group.”

He’s playing a little dirty, bringing up the group like that, but it works. Seokjin’s face loosens a bit, his eyes losing some of their earlier wildness.

“I didn’t want that either,” he says, finally, visibly putting effort into keeping his voice measured. “That’s why I said that. I thought if we pretended it never happened, nothing would be weird.”

“I don’t think that’s how it works, hyung,” Hoseok says.

“Yeah, no shit,” Seokjin laughs ruefully, just the corner of his mouth turning up. Hoseok smiles back at him, relieved. If they just keep laughing, they’ll be okay, right? If they can laugh about it, then they can get through it.

“When you asked if we could date, did you really want that?” Seokjin’s face is still flushed with embarrassment but his eyes narrow appraisingly, watching carefully for Hoseok’s response. Hoseok tenses under his scrutiny.

“I don’t know,” he confesses. “I thought if I didn’t offer, I’d be hurting you. And … I wanted to be close to you again. I thought that was the only way.”

Admitting it out loud is the single most humiliating Hoseok has ever done, possibly. His entire body is sweating. He laughs, awkwardly, because he’s horrifically aware that if he doesn’t laugh he’ll cry instead.

Seokjin stares at him, his pretty mouth drawn up tight and serious.

“I don’t think that’s the only way,” he says finally, voice very quiet. “I think we can figure it out as we go. I don’t think there’s a certain way to do it.”

“We can’t figure it out unless we talk about it,” Hoseok points out.

“Yah! What are we doing right now? Aren’t we talking?” Seokjin laughs even as his voice rises in volume, gesturing between them. Hoseok laughs along with him, despite his better judgment.

“We are,” Hoseok confirms, smiling.

“See!” Seokjin says triumphantly. “We can do whatever we want.”

“We can,” Hoseok agrees. “But we have to keep doing it, I think. The talking.”

Seokjin makes a face, nose wrinkling in comical disgust.

“I guess,” he says, finally. “I can manage that. But just for you, Hoseok-ah! You’d better feel special!”

“I do feel special, hyung,” Hoseok laughs, a little hysterical with relief, his body expelling the tension it’s been holding all at once. Seokjin laughs with him, like maybe he’s relieved too.

“And about what you said earlier … ” Seokjin trails off, then visibly gathers the courage to keep going. Hoseok feels weirdly proud of him, the way he does when they’re practicing and Seokjin masters a transition earlier than Hoseok expected. “You didn’t hurt me, Hoseok-ah. I think I was the one who hurt you.”

“It’s okay, hyung!” Hoseok doesn’t mean for it to come out so high-pitched, like he’s singing something silly to a toddler; after spending so much of his life hamming it up for the camera that’s just his default when he feels unsure. “I know you didn’t mean to!”

Seokjin narrows his eyes.

“No it isn’t,” he says, voice serious. “You shouldn’t say it’s okay when it isn’t.”

Hoseok freezes, caught, his smile going rigid. His first urge is to snap, to cut Seokjin off before he can say anything else Hoseok doesn’t want to hear. But he’s trying to be better, to be honest. They both just said they would try, so he takes a deep breath instead.

“It is now,” he says firmly. “Because we’re not gonna do it anymore, right?”

He smiles at Seokjin encouragingly.

“Yah, what is this voice?” Seokjin says, but he’s laughing. “You sound like a kindergarten teacher.”

“Yeah, well. You acted like a kindergartener,” Hoseok says, laughing along with him. Seokjin splutters a little but keeps laughing, caught.

“Would a kindergartener do this?” Seokjin asks, a lecherous waggle to his eyebrows as he leans forward to put a hand on Hoseok’s thigh. Hoseok snorts.

“You made it really weird, hyung,” he says, conversationally. Seokjin laughs even harder in response, but he doesn’t move his hand. Hoseok is glad, he realizes. He didn’t want him to. He smiles at Seokjin, adjusting his leg a little so Seokjin’s hand slides up further.

Seokjin’s eyebrows do that stupid wiggle again as he digs his fingers into Hoseok’s thigh. Hoseok shivers, and he knows Seokjin can feel it.

Seokjin clears his throat.

“Is it still weird,” he says, voice a little rough. His hand still hasn’t moved.

Hoseok laughs, delighted, and shakes his head.

“I like it,” he says, completely honestly. It feels a little strange, saying something like that out loud, but it’s worth it when Seokjin laughs back. He squeezes Hoseok’s leg again as he cackles, his grip firm and familiar.

 


 

“So, Hoseok-ah,” Jiwoo starts, a smug air in her voice that instantly puts Hoseok on alert.

“So,” he answers warily.

“I hear there’s congratulations in order,” Jiwoo says, even smugger than before. Hoseok frowns.

“Heard from where? Who told you this?”

“Oh, you know,” Jiwoo says airily. “I have my sources.”

What sources,” Hoseok hisses, horrified. Who in his band has been talking to his sister about his personal life? Was it Jimin? It was probably Jimin.

“Um,” Jiwoo says, tone shifting into something significantly more confused. “The news? I read it this morning, why are you being so weird.”

“You did what,” Hoseok barely manages to keep himself from shrieking, fumbling the call onto speaker so he can scroll through the rest of his messages, but there’s nothing else there. Just assorted congratulations on —

Oh.

“Oh,” he says, belatedly. “You mean the award.”

“Yes,” Jiwoo says slowly, clearly putting things together in a way that Hoseok absolutely does not want. “What else would I mean?”

“Nothing!” Hoseok says hastily. “Nothing at all! I’m just so tired, you know, busy schedule and all that. I just woke up, would you believe it?”

Jiwoo’s snort says she doesn’t believe it, which is fair — it’s two in the afternoon, and more importantly Hoseok is a terrible liar. Hoseok winces.

“Hoseok-ah,” Jiwoo says. “Jung Hoseok. Tell noona what you did.”

It’s kind of pathetic, maybe, that Hoseok is twenty-six years old and extremely successful in his chosen career path and he still caves immediately when his big sister uses her Noona Voice, but he thinks anyone who’s ever spent any time with Jiwoo would understand.

“Remember when I did that stupid thing?” he asks, too embarrassed to say what the stupid thing actually was out loud.

“When you slept with your bandmate? Yeah, I’ll remember that forever,” Jiwoo says. Hoseok’s cheeks are on fire.

“Well. I talked to him about it,” he manages, voice less steady than he’d like. “We’re going to try to, like. Work on it? I guess?”

There’s a pause, giving Hoseok just enough time to consider how much he regrets saying those words out loud to another person, and then Jiwoo laughs softly. It’s kind, though, not a mean laugh.

Hoseok lets out a steadying breath.

“Is this something you’ve wanted for a long time, Hoseok-ah?” Jiwoo asks, quietly, voice more serious than Hoseok is used to. His breath catches.

Is it?

“I don’t know,” he answers honestly. “I don’t think I ever let myself think about it.”

“Were you unhappy, before?” Jiwoo’s voice is still soft, so at odds with her earlier teasing. It’s making Hoseok fidgety.

“No,” he says, because he wasn’t. “I wasn’t unhappy before, I just…”

He lets the sentence trail off. He just what?

“You just didn’t know what you wanted,” Jiwoo fills in for him, still a little hesitant.

“Yeah,” Hoseok agrees, partly because she’s mostly right but mostly he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.

“It’s okay, Hoseok-ah,” Jiwoo says. “You’re okay.”

“Yah,” Hoseok says, laughing. “Noona. Are you trying to make me cry?”

“Yes,” Jiwoo answers immediately, back to her usual playful tone. Hoseok welcomes the shift, even if it means she’s making fun of him again. “Is it working? It’s working, isn’t it? Take pictures so I can see.”

“Nooooooo,” Hoseok laughs, the tell-tale pressure behind his eyes starting to lessen as Jiwoo makes baby noises at him through the phone. “Leave me alone!”

She laughs, finally, and the noises stop.

“I’m really happy for you, Hoseok-ah,” she says, seriously. “Even if you are an idiot. Tell Seokjin I say hi too.”

“Wait,” Hoseok says slowly. “How did you know it was Seokjin?”

He really does want to know, but of course Jiwoo doesn’t respond, just cackles into the phone like he made a good joke.

“Noona, I’m serious! Noona — ”

Jiwoo hangs up on him before he can get it out of her, and he stares at his phone for a moment, baffled, before she sends him a message, his phone lighting up in his hand.

you talk about him a lot

Hoseok hadn’t even realized, which is stupid. He thinks about Seokjin a lot — it makes sense that he’d talk about him, too. But he’d really thought he’d been doing a good job of hiding it, considering he hadn’t even acknowledged to himself that he was doing it.

Another message comes through before he has time to respond, still trying to process the first one.

i’m really happy for you, seok-ah
stay happy and healthy for a long time, ok? you and seokjinnie both

Hoseok stares at the words for a long time, overwhelmed, and if his eyes start to water nobody ever needs to know. He’s alone, nobody else around to disturb his privacy. Nobody to see him feeling vulnerable.

He’s alone, but he doesn’t have to be.

Hoseok takes a deep breath, and drafts another message.

hyung, do you want to come over? i want to see you

He adds a string of hearts and big-eyed emojis so Seokjin will know he really means it, even though now he thinks maybe Seokjin already knows. It’s still better to be sure; he’s learned that much by now, at least.

He gets a response before he even has time to close the chat — a single, sparkling heart — and when the door creaks open ten minutes later Hoseok turns to face it immediately, not bothering to hide the smile growing on his face.

“Hyung,” he laughs, delighted, when Seokjin immediately wraps his arms around Hoseok’s shoulders.

“I brought you something,” Seokjin says, a little muffled by the fabric of Hoseok’s sweatshirt, and then he fumbles something into Hoseok’s hand without moving his head at all.

Hoseok looks down at the tiny enamel pin — brightly coloured just like his studio, all the colours he likes best — and feels something lurch in his chest.

“Hyung,” he says again, a little more seriously. “You thought about me?”

Seokjin moves his head, finally, turning it so Hoseok can see his eyes if he cranes his head at just the right angle.

“I’m always thinking about you, Hobi-yah,” he laughs, like it’s something embarrassing.

Hoseok feels himself flush all over. He could make it a joke; could laugh along with Seokjin and shift the mood away from anything serious. It would be easier, definitely. The impulse is there.

Hoseok turns his head instead, presses a quick kiss to Seokjin’s head, just above his ear.

“I’m always thinking about you, too.”

He reaches for his phone on the desk and, on impulse, thumbs open the camera.

“Look cute, hyung,” he chirps as he tries to get the angle right. Seokjin huffs out a breath, so close Hoseok can feel it against his neck. “I’m always cute,” he protests, but he obliges, turning his chin down and opening his eyes wide, a tiny smile playing at the corner of his mouth.

Hoseok doesn’t bother trying to look so coy, just grins big and wide, holding up the pin so it shows on the camera screen.

It’s too much for Seokjin, apparently, and his serious face breaks as he laughs, the tips of his ears turning pink.

“Look at us, all mushy.”

Hoseok doesn’t take the bait, just laughs again, softer, closing the camera and going to his photos so they can see the picture together.

“I’m looking, hyung,” he says, and Seokjin snuggles in closer, warm against his side.

“I’m looking too, Hobi,” Seokjin says, finally, pressing a quick peck to Hoseok’s shoulder. Even now it’s hard for Seokjin to be so sentimental, and Hoseok appreciates it. It doesn’t come naturally to either of them, but they’re trying, and it’s good.

Hoseok turns so he can peck kisses all over Seokjin’s face, teasing and serious all at once, easing them into more familiar territory. Seokjin squawks and swats at him, but he’s not really trying very hard to make Hoseok stop. His skin is soft under Hoseok’s lips, warm and familiar.

Hoseok presses one final kiss to the middle of Seokjin’s forehead and then pulls back, smiling.

Seokjin is smiling right back.