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hello, i love you (won't you tell me your name?)

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'How do you know I like him?' Jeongguk asks hotly.

'I have eyes,' Jimin says.

The party is the kind that should be held in a basement, except no one on campus has a basement so they have to make do with Namjoon, Yoongi, and Mysterious Seokjin's apartments. All lined up in a row, yes, with the doors opening into the hallway to create the illusion of one huge home. Probably upsetting the neighbours if all the neighbours weren't at the party. Namjoon's done a bang-up attempt of making his into one giant underground venue, complete with tinted paper on all the windows and honest-to-God red neon lights. Jeongguk isn't strictly against the wannabe hotboxing hangout; it's just that it'd be more than an attempt if everyone was actually co-operating.

That is to say, the tinted windows are wide open— in all three apartments— because everyone's leaning out of them at precarious angles to heckle Jung Hoseok and Choi Hansol as they square up for what looks like the one-on-one of the fucking century. Also, it's vaguely possible that Jeongguk is smashed, because Jimin has an entire arm hooked through his belt in order to keep him hanging on.

Not that Jeongguk would actually fall out of the window. No, if Jeongguk's falling out it's going to be very much on purpose. The plan is to miraculously survive the two-floor fall in his current state of inebriation, then straighten up, walk to the middle of the makeshift basketball court, steal the basketball from Jung Hoseok's beautiful hands, and… and, okay, so, then he's going to-

'Make out,' he says. 'I want to make out with him.'

'Now see, I have ears too. I definitely know you like him.'

'Who're we talking about?' Taehyung chirps, draping himself all over both of them with his gangly fucking limbs and smelling very profoundly of marijuana given that Namjoon doesn't allow that shit in large parties. 'Hoseok? Jeongguk's totally in love with him, isn't he? Crush of the month.'

'I am not,' Jeongguk says, 'in love with Jung Hoseok. I don't even know who that is.'

'Okay, but you know he's, like, way out of your league, right? And he's got bomb dick.'

'Like fuck,' Jimin mutters. ' I've heard the opposite. I've heard his dick's a chastity device all on its own.'

Downstairs, Hoseok straightens up from retying his shoelaces and bounces the basketball off the cement, once, twice, Jeongguk's head is booming. In the lights of the court, Hoseok and Hansol look like they belong in Step Up 3 (which they might as well, given their majors), but Jeongguk's more focused on the set expression on Hoseok's face, his sweaty hair, his strong arms, strong legs, strong. Everything. It's hair-up Hoseok tonight; it's pushed back (sexy, yes) and he looks, well. Anyway. 

Then Hoseok raises an eyebrow and juts his chin in Hansol's direction, and Hansol sneers back.

Then it promptly goes to shit.

Now, Jeongguk's a theatre kid. It's usually the first thing he says about himself, as an advanced apology for what friendship with him is going to be like. Their campus is one of the smallest in the city, a relatively tight-knit group of visual and performing arts freaks, but being a theatre kid is still a tragedy. Theatre kids take being defined by one's major to a whole new level, and most of the time it's not very pretty. The theatre kid is the friend who breaks out into song when you say a phrase that matches the lyrics, when you say a phrase in general, or when you haven't said anything at all. The theatre kid doesn't have the world's best grasp on everyday makeup and is fully capable of showing up to McDonald's in forty layers of kohl. The theatre kid can often be found muttering to themselves in the corner of the library, the bus, and the bathroom at a crowded party before a costume check.

Point being, if his life was going to go to shit so quick and so hard, the least he could've done is execute it himself in appropriate fashion. Instead, Taehyung's leaning forward and dislodging Jimin's arm from Jeongguk's belt, making both of them wobble dangerously, and then he's squeezing his way between them to fold his entire upper half out of the window to holler in Hoseok's direction, in front of approximately forty people.

'HOSEOK! IF YOU WIN, JEON JEONGGUK HERE WILL SERENADE YOU WITH YOUR SONG OF CHOICE.'

'YES,' Jeongguk yells. 'WAIT. WHAT?'

For a really long moment, there's silence. Well, sort of. The cheers have died down and Hoseok's nearly dropped the ball in surprise, but some kind of nonsensical loop track is still playing in the background over Namjoon's heavy duty fucking speakers, and in the minute or so of Jeongguk realising what Kim Taehyung has dragged him into, he also hears the ding of the oven, the smashing of a plate, and Yoongi cursing really, really loudly.

Then Jeongguk turns on Taehyung.

' You deflated fucking rubber goose, ' he hisses, ' what the fuck are you doing. '

'Helping a friend—'

' Across the Styx and into the netherworld? '

'Across the league divide and into Jung Hoseok's manly, manly—'

'Hey.'

Jeongguk closes his mouth and so does Taehyung. That voice didn't come from either of them, or from the holy trinity of apartments. It came from the makeshift basketball court, and much as Jeongguk hates the prospect of turning his head to confirm, he also knows that it came from Hoseok. But the die has been cast and now he has to face up to his fate, so he winces and adjusts his glasses, and turns his head.

Hoseok's looking directly at him, which Jeongguk'd be able to properly die over if forty other people weren't also looking directly at him. As it is, they are, so he settles for blushing what feels like a violent shade of red, and looking back at Hoseok.

'You Jeongguk?' Hoseok asks, and this time his deep voice gives Jeongguk tingles. Drunk tingles. He quickly swallows the tingles and nods, and okay, so his glasses slip down his nose again when he does it but he recovers smoothly. A pro, Jeon Jeongguk.

But then Hoseok huffs and smirks at him, and the tingles come back with volcanic force. No, but literally, like when you're in fifth grade and you make a papier-mâché volcano and all that red comes fizzing the fuck out when you pour in the vinegar. Hoseok smirks up at him, and Jeongguk's a papier-mâché volcano, so that's just where the party's going, then.

'Well, then,' Hoseok says. 'I'll do my best, Jeongguk-sshi.'

And before Jeongguk can breathe, he lifts the ball and bounces it again, and the party erupts into howls.

 

 

They call her the Mother. She graces the fourth floor washrooms, standing right under the only working shower in a row of otherwise defunct ones. One hand raised to the shower head, the other tucked gracefully under her...drapey thing that she's wearing that doesn't look all that drapey given that she's composed of something that resembles styrofoam more than marble.

Every kid who has class in the building drops in once a week to pay respects. Honestly, it's one of the least weird things about their weird little campus. Go join your hands in front of the statue in the fourth floor washrooms. If one of your socks disappears in the laundry, drop the other one at her feet. No reason, just do it.

Jeongguk does have a reason today; two of them, in fact. Reason number one is that he just lost a red sock in last night's load, and reason number two is that rehearsal starts today and he's going to need all the patience the Mother can provide. He isn't even in the production crew but he's still gonna need it. There's a very special set of tribulations set forth by the lord to test theatre kids, and the biggest one of them is definitely the first day of rehearsal with the likes of Nakamoto Yuta. (Or any day of rehearsal with Nakamoto Yuta, or any day in general, with Nakamoto Yuta.)

No. Jeongguk needs the Mother today. She's on his mind from six in the morning, the minute his alarm goes off. He reaches to turn it down, and counts backwards from five. On zero he rolls over and sits up before he can change his mind about it, even though the September sun has yet to rise completely. He basks in the orange light coming through his blinds and falling on the playing cards scattered over the floor, and stretches. He's going to wear his first-day-of-rehearsal T-shirt and his first-day-of-rehearsal shoes, and if Yuta tries a single thing he's going to personally arrange for a murder (though Nayeon'll probably beat him to it). He has exactly four lines this time 'round since he played opposite the lead before summer, but he's on the fairy crew and their costumes are the most complicated; he can't not show up. Even if he'll have to deal with Yuta.

All he's saying is, or, well, thinking earnestly in the general direction of the Mother as he stares into her blank eyes— all he's saying is if someone was going to have the bright idea of putting up A Midsummer Night's Dream, the least they could've done is have the bright idea at a more seasonally appropriate time. Like fucking summer, during which Dongyoung— it was definitely Dongyoung, that asshole— decided they should all do a Daehak-ro sort of thing complete with bits where they jumped into the audience (Jeongguk isn't very experimental) consequently saddling them with performing a summer play at the end of the year. It speaks volumes about their faculty, honestly, but then again, Jeongguk isn't really complaining. He gets to be a fairy, so.

On the way to the conference room they use for readings, he bumps into Mysterious Seokjin. Well, he doesn't exactly bump into him. One doesn't bump into Mysterious Seokjin. One moves out of the way as quickly as possible, because Mysterious Seokjin usually has a huge pile of weird shit in his hands that looks like it will hurt if it falls on you. He's consistent about that today too; holding what looks like three ceramic tiles, a birdcage with cola candy wrappers inside it, and the bottom half of a violin.

'Godspeed,' Jeongguk says. Mysterious Seokjin ignores him.

 

 

you are not a clown. you are the entire circ... (6)

 

jimin [16:07]
to be fair no one else could pull off a donkey's head
yuta just has...that thing
and you know jaehyun's policy of like
letting him unleash all the chaotic energy on stage so that he doesn't like

taehyung [16:08]
do the thing he did in first year
and anyway you know your real quarrel is with having to sing to him or whatever your fairy has to do

me [16:08]
not sing really
well honestly i'm peaseblossom
he just kinda hangs around being pretty i guess

jimin [16:08]
something we all know you're gifted at

 

 

The second time Jeongguk sees Jung Hoseok, it's in the only convenience store near the apartments that stocks that specific off-brand grapefruit juice that he absolutely needs when he's reviewing the dramatic literature notes he steals from Jaehyun. Needless to say, it's ass o'clock (which means it's before midnight; after midnight is fuck o'clock) and he's in that perfect headspace where he'll either blaze through a hundred slides on his laptop and retain them to boot, or— if he doesn't find the stupid carton of juice he's looking for— straight up cry over Chef's Table France even if the subtitles are wonky and he really doesn't like seafood.

There's only one carton left, suspiciously puffy, shoved behind glass bottles of pineapple juice that has settled into three disgusting layers. He crouches to pry it out, flinching at the blast of cold air that hits him when he gets close, and squints down at the label. It says December 2019 all right, so—

'Hey.'

Jeongguk straightens up so fast he hits his head on the shelf and nearly knocks a tooth out on one of the pineapple juice bottles. He also entirely dislodges his glasses, which are now hanging off one ear. Dignity and gums both stinging, he turns around slowly, still crouching, and has a brief view of a very interesting-looking bruise on a very solid leg before he looks up at Jung Hoseok and some sharp-faced dude that he has definitely seen get rejected by Tiny Jihoon from music tech at least thrice.

'You,' Jeongguk says. 'I mean, hi.'

He grabs his stupid carton of stupid juice and finally stands up, putting his glasses back on and trying desperately not to take in the sight of Hoseok in what looks like basketball shorts— still — and a very soft-looking T-shirt. The annoying thing is that it's not even deliberately sloppy; it's just sloppy, and he still looks so fucking hot with his humidity-mussed hair and the canvas bag he's holding that looks really full. It has little bees printed all over it, which is how Jeongguk knows that Hoseok bought it from one of those save the bees things, which shouldn't be making him hotter in Jeongguk's eyes but just is because it's ass o'clock and he's not entirely balanced on the moral scale. (Not that he will be in the morning, or ever, when it comes to Jung Hoseok.)

He only realises that he's been staring at Hoseok for a full thirty seconds when the guy raises his eyebrows, leans over, and very deliberately closes the door of the fridge that has still been spitting mist into their tiny aisle.

'Sorry,' Jeongguk squeaks. 'Do you uh, need a thing? From here? I can leave.' Move aside. The words you are looking for are "move aside".

Hoseok smirks, which naturally makes Jeongguk's knees nearly buckle. He's hair-up Hoseok tonight, too; stupid sloppy look and stupid sexy smirk. 'I'm just gonna grab a couple of the pineapple bottles, thanks.'

He's now acutely aware of what he's wearing; a polka-dotted pair of pyjama pants and a ratty white T-shirt, both of which scream I don't care which city slicker runs into me wearing these outside because there are no city slickers in this area, we're all broke and hysterical. The Crocs don't help. Nor do the Harry Potter glasses that are honestly the most comfortable pair he's ever owned. Nor does the stupid carton of stupid juice or the dumbstruck look that he knows he's wearing on his face because he's an actor and he can't turn off the part of himself that's always minding his facial expressions.

Fuck. He's doing it again, staring at Hoseok again, who's still looking back with that little smirk, now complete with 200% more pineapple juice. Jeongguk clears his throat and then starts to make well on his promise to leave, already having used up all the awkward points he had for the entire semester.

'Hey,' Hoseok says again. 'Uh, where are you going? After this?'

Jeongguk blinks at him. What the fuck is that supposed to mean, after this? This isn't a predrinking party or a seminar. They're in the fucking convenience store.

'Home?' he tries. 'I just came to get, uh. Juice.' He waves the little carton lamely.

Hoseok looks down at the two bottles he's holding, then back at his friend, then back at Jeongguk.

'We're going out,' he says. 'Have a little midnight picnic on campus. With my classmate here and a couple of others.'

'I'm Soonyoung,' Hoseok's friend says. Jeongguk, tripping all over himself in an effort to say nice to meet you and I'm Jeongguk, ends up choking on his tongue a little.

'I'm also Soonyoung,' he ends up saying, at which point he decides that Hoseok suddenly smashing one of those juice bottles open on his head wouldn't be so bad after all. 'Uh. Jeongguk. I'm Jeongguk.'

 

 

you are not a clown. you are the entire circ... (1)

 

jimin [23:42]
yeah but that's bc namjoon said HE wants to propose
bc he's younger?

me [23:54]
ask me how i'm omw
to an illegal midnight picnic
with JUNG HOSEOK

taehyung [23:55]
JUNG HOSEOK, THE???

jimin [23:55]
JUNG HSEOK, THE?????

taehyung [23:55]
one brain.

me [23:56]
he's so hot
gonna throw him into the bonfire

 

 

There's no bonfire, unfortunately, because that would really get them caught, and it's still too warm out for that anyway. Jeongguk doesn't really mind, because he's pretty sure the sight of Hoseok all lit up by a fucking bonfire would really do him in. Just the idea of it is bad enough.

And it's not like he's not already having a bad time. Jeongguk is having a supremely bad time, thanks for asking, and it's all his own fault. It's not like everyone isn't super friendly— even though the dance majors, famous for having their entire lives controlled by their coaches, are the ones who mostly stick to themselves while everyone else thirsts after them (Jimin being a prime example)— or like there isn't enough booze (he now knows why that save the bees bag looked so heavy). No, everything's perfect, which is the whole problem, because now Jeongguk's romantic ass is too busy externally analysing the idyllic college fantasy angle of it all to actually live the fantasy. He's been laughing on cue and working on a beer for an hour now, trying not to stare too much at all of them, keeping it going in turns.

They're super friendly, asking him a bunch of questions about their latest project and if he knows what dye Jimin uses to get his hair purple like that (he doesn't), and if it's really true that Taehyung runs a bookmaking business on drama will they-won't they 's (he does).

Jeongguk kind of stares at them all in turns. Soonyoung trying to hit some falsetto note, failing horrendously, and injuring Jeongguk's fragile singer heart. A girl whose name he didn't catch, space buns and long nails, throwing back a bottle of pure water just to show how fast she can chug.

Hoseok, mostly. He seems to have forgotten that Jeongguk is technically his plus one, and has made his merry way through three mixers and half a song that he stopped playing when his phone beeped with a notification. He's lying down close, the top of his head just barely brushing Jeongguk's knee, eyebrows in a frown as he furiously types out a long text. Jeongguk might not really know Hoseok but he sure doesn't want to be on the receiving end of that.

'So, Jeongguk,' Hansol says, voice rough from the frankly evil-looking shot he just downed from a plastic Puma bottle in what is the most obnoxious display of jockness that Jeongguk's ever seen. 'You owe Hoseok a serenade, no? For beating my ass that night.'

Jeongguk freezes, then thaws out, then freezes again. Hansol has a diabolical smile on his usually blank face, though that may have more to do with the Jock Shot than his unfortunate romantic predicament, and someone's turning the music down now. Suddenly Jeongguk's all too aware of where they are— on campus, illegally— and what they're doing— picnicking and drinking, also illegally— all too aware of the far off sound of crickets and traffic and the prick of the grass under him and the fact that Hoseok, also, has gone still.

'Cut it out,' Hoseok says, then, swatting a hand in Hansol's general direction. 'Don't bully the kid.'

Jeongguk exhales.

 

 

The girl whose name he didn't catch has one of those instant cameras with her, which she uses every five minutes even though it's a pain to dry the film and put another one in, and the pictures must be coming out near-black anyway. Jeongguk hears the shutter going off one more time as he walks off the lawn to join the footpath after waving them all goodbye (it's Friday but he does have a lot to read, or Jaehyun's gonna kill him). It's only once his feet start to fall on cement that he realises that they're not the only ones.

He turns around just as Hoseok catches up to him, sans save the bees bag and hair a mess, little bits of grass stuck all over it.

'Hey,' Hoseok says. Jeongguk waits for something else, you forgot something, thought I'd walk you home, but nothing comes, which is disappointing because Jeongguk's definitely in that place where Hoseok's voice would give him drunk tingles. He just falls into step with Jeongguk like it's the most natural thing in the world, which it most certainly isn't because this is Jung Hoseok, Jeongguk's crush of the month, and he's hot and smells really good and has this wide smile he saves for his friends that makes Jeongguk wish he'd taken up dance after all.

So he doesn't say anything, just holds his juice— mercifully untouched since no one in their right mind likes grapefruit— closer to his chest and stares ahead, heart thudding against the carton. It's like two in the morning and he's just on the edge of tipsy; everything is too bright and too dark and too quiet right now, especially Hoseok. His phone, at least, has wound down (Jimin's an early bird and Taehyung's actually a calm human being if no enablers are around).

Hoseok clears his throat once when they walk past the convenience store— still open— and then again when they're at the foot of Jeongguk's building. He knows for a fact that Hoseok lives on the same block as the holy trinity, so at least fifteen minutes from here; he really did want to walk Jeongguk home. The thought makes him blush stupidly, still looking at the evening like a spectator from the outside. Jock takes nerd home. Jock does something hot and jock-y. A song by Iu plays in the background.

'Well,' Jeongguk says. 'This is me.'

'Yep.'

'Yep.'

All right. Painfully awkward. No big deal. He can just open this carton and rain grapefruit juice on himself to break the tension. It's not like this is the first time he's had a crush on someone that he was never meant to get along with. They'll just pretend this midnight picnic never happened, and—

'Fuck it,' Hoseok sighs, and Jeongguk starts, wide-eyed, pushing his glasses back up his nose. 'Okay, look. I'm sorry we bored your ass off back there. I promise I'm not like this all the time.'

'Like what,' Jeongguk squeaks. Hoseok looks at him blankly for a moment, then visibly suppresses the urge to sigh again, and clears his throat.

'Like— well. Quiet and stuff. Well, I guess I am, but only at night or when I'm chilling. I just— it's been a while since I made a new friend? I just kind of...forgot that you're not one of the guys.'

Jeongguk blinks at him, not sure if he's supposed to reply or hum to acknowledge that he's listening or what. This is absolutely not the direction in which he saw this evening going, especially not Hoseok looking... embarrassed, when Jeongguk's the one whose entire life is a failure.

'It's just...' Hoseok runs a hand through his hair. 'I'd only heard of you before and then your friend that day...he just kind of threw me under the bus.'

Oh, Taehyung.

'Fuck Taehyung,' Jeongguk says enthusiastically. 'Don't mind him. I'm sorry you had to— well. I don't want you to feel like you have to talk to me or something—'

'No, no,' Hoseok cuts in. 'Fuck, this is so stupid. Okay, no. Go home.'

Jeongguk blinks again. Hoseok raises his eyebrows, looks pointedly at the door behind him, and motions with a hand, a little impatiently.

'Go on, go inside!'

Well, he might as well. In the best case he'll already be on the way to his bed, and in the worst case he can always start filming if Hoseok tries to like, throw something at him. So he shrugs and heads over to the door, waving what he hopes is goodnight to the most confusing meeting of his entire life, probably. Taehyung and Jimin are going to have a ball with this tomorrow. Jeongguk is so totally never going to fall in love again.

But then he's pressing the call button on the elevator and there's a loud knocking on the door of the apartment complex, and he turns back around, frowning openly now. For real—

Hoseok's— well, it's almost like it isn't Hoseok. Not hair-up Hoseok. Not the Hoseok Jeongguk's met so far anyway, but the other one. Hair-down Hoseok, and literally; he's shaken it out so that it falls over his eyes. Hair-down Hoseok; the one who yells loudly in hallways and in the cafeteria and in parties when he's feeling it, the one who makes weird sounds and screeches like a crow and laughs with his stomach. Yeah, it's definitely that one, which is what made Jeongguk develop his stupid crush in the first place— which that hair-up side only exacerbated.

Fuck, Jeongguk's rambling. Anyway. It's hair-down Hoseok, waving cheerfully, smile so wide it must hurt. It's definitely hurting Jeongguk's heart, which is now doing all sorts of somersaults along with that volcano thing, but he grits his teeth through it and walks back to open the door, step out into the warmth of the night.

'Hi,' Hoseok says. 'I'm Hoseok, and I'm a dancer, and I've seen you around. I think your glasses are really cute.'

Jeongguk thinks he might actually be dying. He resists the urge to adjust his glasses and takes a deep breath, and sends his best smile over. Hoseok's breath visibly stutters, as does Jeongguk's heart.

'I'm Jeongguk,' he says. 'I'm an actor, and I really like off-brand grapefruit juice, and. And I'm playing Peaseblossom in A Midsummer Night's Dream this Christmas.'

'See? Much better.' Hoseok runs a hand through his hair, shoots Jeongguk another smile, eyes scrunching up. 'I'm usually dead inside on weekends because I can finally wind down from all the fucking dancing, you know? So I—'

'But that's okay,' Jeongguk cuts in. 'I...I don't mind that. It's still you, right? You don't need to— put up an act, or anything.' My crush is both on hair-up and hair-down Hoseok. 'And I really wasn't bored back there, I just didn't know if you actually wanted me around.'

'No, I...I totally want you around. In fact, I'd love to have your number, if you're okay with that.'

Number. He wants Jeongguk's number. Jung Hoseok wants Jeongguk's number. In all honesty, he could have asked for Jeongguk's shirt and he'd have ripped it off just as easily. A number is basically nothing in the grand scheme of things, and at the same time, it's kind of everything. Like, Jeongguk would definitely kill a man to get Hoseok's number.

Fuck, he's staring. They just got a fresh start and all. He springs into action and reaches out; Hoseok puts a huge ass phone in his hand. 'No lock.'

No lock, all right, great. The screen is a picture of some dog that looks like he just sat through two cue-to-cue readings of Richard III, and Hoseok doesn't use night mode because he clearly doesn't have a soul. Jeongguk fumbles twice while typing his number, but manages, and hands it back to Hoseok without putting his name in.

'Thanks,' Hoseok beams. 'Just one last thing before I let you go to bed.'

'Yeah?'

He smiles wider, then raises his eyebrows. 'You still owe me a song. Won't let that go.'

Then he winks, and whatever is left of Jeongguk's brain at that point kind of starts steaming out his ears. He knows Hoseok can see it. Like literally. He knows there's literal steam rising out of his ears right now and Hoseok can see it, because he's hair-up Hoseok smirking now.

'Think of an artist you like,' he says. 'I'll let you sleep on it. Goodnight, Jeongguk.'

He doesn't reply. In fact, Jeongguk is proud to say that he doesn't have a single coherent thought until he's back in the elevator and on the way to the ninth floor, at which point all of it hits him like that one time that a piss drunk Taehyung had decided that hurling his shoes at the stage was a good way of conveying that Jeongguk's rehearsal was running overtime. The fact that Jung Hoseok now has his number and wants to hear him sing hits Jeongguk exactly like Taehyung's shoe had hit him: square in the face and stunningly humbling.

Still tipsy, still blushing, and very much shoe-struck, Jeongguk has half a mind to go back downstairs and run outside and holler something at Hoseok. Like anything. But he restrains himself because he also does have half a mind, and instead settles for jumping into bed, reading be damned, and curling up under the warm covers, staring at his phone, willing another proverbial shoe to be flung at him.

 

unknown [2:31]
enjoy your grapefruit juice :)

 

Jeongguk blinks at the message, then kicks his legs under the covers, sits up, lifts his phone Simba style, flops back down, rolls to his side and dully thunks his head against the wall, grins with all his might and squeals a little, and then finally brings up the keyboard.

 

me [2:33]
i like iu

 

Then, before he can get too excited about anything, he drops the phone on the floor and turns over, closing his eyes tight like a kid on Christmas eve.

 

 

Now, to say that it starts up a whole thing is unnecessary and an understatement at the same time. Hoseok, as Jeongguk discovers, is not a chronic texter, but he sure is a morning one. It must be the whole dance thing, Jeongguk theorises. They do have horrible hours after all— not more than anyone else’s, but more intensive and earlier , which, in his books, is the absolute worst. Jimin’s always described him as someone whose goblin power increases exponentially with every hour of the day that passes— so as it is, Hoseok’s 6 AM replies and radio silence the whole day after are perfectly timed to catch him at his asleep-est. So Jeongguk, in turn, replies only at ass o’clock, and it works somehow. Hair-down Hoseok, goblin Jeongguk.

That’s only during the week, though. The situation kind of balances out on weekends, when Jeongguk happily continues his goblin activities at fuck o’clock and Hoseok is actually awake to interrupt them.

 

hoseok [01:30]
how about the guy who sang riptide
vance joy?

me [01:32]
voice too different from mine
i’d ruin it :( 

hoseok [01:35]
you know better
okay maroon 5
i’ve heard you speak i know you could sing their stuff

me [01:40]
i do like maroon 5
do you have a song in mind?
just asking haha
not like i can sing it rn

hoseok [01:46]
sugar?
sweet like you

 

Jeongguk slowly puts his coffee aside and stares down at his phone for what seems like an eternity, refusing to open the message and acknowledge that it’s real. 

 

hoseok [01:48]
let’s just pretend i didn’t send that

me [01:48]
NO
I MEAN
sugar is nice i could do sugar
i’ll work on it

 

And the thing is, he isn’t shy . Like, Jeongguk isn’t shy. Not incriminatingly, anyway, because if he was, he wouldn’t be able to stand on stage and monologue in front of fifty people. He’s definitely a little quiet and awkward around people he doesn’t know but that’s only when he has to have a real conversation with them that doesn’t use iambic pentameter or like, song. And honestly that’s— it isn’t stage fright, which is the only thing that matters, so it’s basically nothing. Definitely not shyness. 

So it’s really fucking rich that he has to pump his brain with those nitrogen booster things they used to have in Need for Speed every time Hoseok texts him, in order to come up with a reasonable reply within the first two minutes of receiving a message. He’s taken to typing random key smashes while he thinks just so that those three dots show up on Hoseok’s end, but sooner or later he’s going to end up sending one of them and that’s going to be the end of his life. The safer thing at this point, honestly, would be to just send Hoseok a goddamn cover of something so that this whole texting business stops.

But then it’d stop.

Realising that he has done nothing but stare at his lines— all four of them— for the past ten minutes, Jeongguk clears his throat and puts his phone away, looking right up into Jaehyun’s extremely unimpressed eyes.

‘What are you doing,’ Jaehyun says flatly. ‘Do you have airpods in? Like do you have invisible airpods and can’t hear me?’ 

Only then does Jeongguk realise that he is currently sitting smack in the middle of the stage while everyone has already left for the wings, and that is never a good thing. He scrambles to stand up, drops his bag, steps on the straps and nearly trips himself, and then finally manages to gather everything up and waddle to where Jisung and Mark are trying not to explode with laughter. Jaehyun’s threatening footsteps follow right behind, and Jeongguk sends up a prayer.

 

 

you are not a clown. you are the entire circ… (1)

 

taehyung [13:35]
oh you should like sing chasing cars
it’s so romantic and
english

jimin [13:37]
english as in from england? 
you think chasing cars is what.
sung on bagpipes
what do you mean english

taehyung [13:40]
ok first of all shut up
second i meant hoseok’s like constantly asking for english songs
so sing the englishest one
only thing englisher would be like
stayin alive

me [13:50]
ur right
so i should sing something korean
throw him off
straight up cover a trot song

jimin [13:51]
he’ll dump you before y’all even start dating

taehyung [13:54]
imagine his deep dark secret is he likes trot
like he’s like jeongguk don’t tell anyone but i really like trot
where will your god be then

 

 

On a night Jeongguk will always refer to as the night that the goblin and hair-up stars aligned again and forevermore, someone who knows someone who knows Hoseok ends up inviting him to one of the theatre kids’ parties. It’s shocking, to say the least, but he doesn’t know for whom exactly. On the one hand, he chokes on his soju and it dribbles out of his mouth and over his chin when he sees Jung fucking Hoseok step onto the actually-a-basketball-court-this-time-but-no-one-has-ever-used-it-for-that with space buns girl in tow, but on the other hand, Hoseok looks like he’s on an alien planet, which he might as well be. They are straight up on their fortieth minute of the ten-hour version of They’re Taking the Hobbits to Isengard and he doesn’t think Jaemin has stopped Fortnite flossing for a single one of those forty minutes. Theatre kids basically become parodies of themselves by the time they hit their twenties because they’ve been at it for so long.

Jeongguk is no exception. He’s currently wearing polka-dotted pyjamas and his ugliest glasses, he’s got bright pink glitter on his cheeks because Nayeon was trying out some of the twinky Peaseblossom looks she hunted up on Pinterest or whatever, and he is so very fucking drunk.

‘Oh my GOD,’ he says consequentially to what he hopes is either Taehyung or Jimin before he realises he’s all alone and decides to continue anyway, ‘that’s Jung Hoseok. Oh no.’ 

Jung Hoseok it is, looking as bewildered as he should rightfully be, considering that he’s basically Troy Bolton and every single person present here is in a constant competition to one-up each other in order to gain the title of Sharpay Evans. Jeongguk can literally see Hoseok mouthing what the fuck to space buns girl, and decides in a haze of drunken glory to go save them both. 

‘Hi,’ he says when he finally succeeds in stepping over to them, and they both look so relieved he feels bad for them for a second. ‘Uh, what— what are you guys doing here?’ 

‘Mysterious Seokjin invited us,’ Hoseok says. ‘I can’t see him though, and I…I’m sorry, but what in the fuck is that guy doing?’ 

Jeongguk frowns and follows the line of his terrified gaze right to the entrance of the building, where a figure is vaping in a ski mask, causing the smoke to billow out from the entirety of his face like he’s something out of a Junji Ito manga. 

‘Oh, that’s just Yuta,’ Jeongguk says cheerfully. ‘Anyway, do you want a drink?’ 

Hoseok does want a drink, as it turns out, and so does space buns girl, whose name Jeongguk finally learns is Hyoyeon. She took a year off to join some dance studio in fucking Barcelona and is back to complete her degree, and it’s clear that she’s one of Hoseok’s favourite human beings on the planet. Jeongguk feels strangely bashful seeing it, how Hoseok is with his friends one-on-one. He lets them mix boring drinks for themselves while he rushes to greet Jimin, who’s chosen to grace the party with his presence dolled up in a sequined tank and ripped jeans. 

‘It’s social commentary,’ he says, when Jeongguk scowls at him. ‘The shoes are a statement—‘

Theatre kids do it different— what’s more, they do it differently compared to all the other theatre kids in the district. Sure, everyone makes references to, like, Broadway, but the alumni jokes vary regionally. They have the pride and joy of saying that the legendary Byun Baekhyun graduated from their faculty, for example, which would explain why the music gets switched from minute fifty-six of Isengard to a trance remix of his caterwauling, but the prerequisite is knowing who Byun Baekhyun is, which Hoseok and Hyoyeon clearly don’t. It’s at that precise point that Jeongguk officially takes pity on them. 

But just as he makes his way over to ask them if they’d like to put on something else, Hoseok pulls out his phone, looks down at it, and lets out a triumphant sound.

‘They said they’ll be here in twenty,’ he says to Hyoyeon. 

Later that night, Jeongguk goes home and notes it down carefully in his diary: around 11 PM, their lives and the lives of everyone have been changed forever with that simple they’ll be here in twenty . See, hair-up Hoseok took it upon himself to invite the entirety of the dance crew to the actually-a-basketball-court, something he only realises the gravity of when they all embark upon the party looking as what can only be described as really fucking dolled up . There’s Hansol with some kind of weird green glow to his hair that Jeongguk doesn’t want to know about, and Wonwoo and Jungeun, wearing shorts too fucking tiny for October and having the audacity to throw huge sweaters over them to boot. The worst, though, has to be Soonyoung who has shown up with an entire fucking boombox on his shoulder as if they’re in an eighties reboot of their own lives.

Jeongguk gapes at them for a second, then gapes at Jimin, then at Hoseok’s gleeful face, and then at the rest of his compatriots who all look as Sharpay-Evans-in-cafeteria stunned as he feels deep in his heart. This is not the status quo and this can only lead to—

‘Can we put on some fucking, like, reggaeton here?’ someone calls. 

 

 

Now, that Hoseok can dance has never been a question in Jeongguk’s head. The problem is, it’s one of those taken-for-granted things and not a three-dimensional reality that might one day manifest into his waking life, or at least it was , until someone actually put on “some fucking, like, reggaeton” and the dance majors, not unlike what Jeongguk imagines Gengis Khan’s army to have been like, just started doing their thing— drinking and dancing.

It’s safe to say he’s a little flabbergasted, but he thinks he’s dealing reasonably. It’s not like he doesn’t know a couple of moves himself; it’s just a whole other thing to be dancing on stage to piano and tambourines. He can’t bust those moves out here ; first of all he’d bring shame to the Mother, and second of all he’s too busy with this round of spin the bottle arm wrestling. Now, arm wrestling Jeongguk can do , much to the dismay of Mingyu who seems unable to believe that he just got his ass handed to him for the third time in a row by someone wearing polka-dotted pyjamas. 

But soon enough his era of glory is over; Yuta dethrones him in one flick of his wrist and settles down, flaming orange hair tied back with a Kumamon scrunchie and neon pink whiskers streaked over his cheeks, ready to take over in kicking ass. Jeongguk flicks him on the forehead and slinks back to a wall, managing to get about thirty seconds of rest before he’s joined by Hoseok. 

‘I’d say this was a good idea,’ he says, and Jeongguk starts, looks up, smiles. Hoseok’s all sweaty and bright, hair looking kind of ridiculous but still cute. Jeongguk has such a crush and the part of him that used to wear his brother’s hand-me-downs in middle school still can’t believe that his crush is talking to him voluntarily. ‘Sorry I didn’t ask first.’ 

‘Oh, that’s fine,’ Jeongguk replies. ‘If we’re living out High School Musical , might as well go all the way.’ 

Hoseok blinks at him and then smiles, but it’s too late. Jeongguk’s caught it, and his heart is sinking at an alarming speed, the kind that only comes with bitter shock. He swallows and steels himself, takes a breath.

‘You,’ he says, ‘haven’t watched High School Musical .’ 

Hoseok’s answering smile is more fear than apology, and as Jeongguk gets ready to commit his first ever murder, someone switches the music back to Isengard .

 

 

‘I am a simple man,’ Jaehyun says tightly. ‘You are well aware of that, Nakamoto Yuta. You, consequently, must be aware of what I will do to you if you say cocks instead of shocks one more time.’ 

Yuta turns to an imaginary audience, shrugs into an imaginary camera. ‘He’ll never believe it isn’t on purpose. I’m just more accustomed to saying—’

‘I don’t give a rat’s ass what you’re more accustomed to saying. I want your line and then I want to move onto the fairies because they haven’t come onto the stage a single time so far, and—‘

Jeongguk sighs and closes his eyes, puts his earphones back in. He only has a day to go before this level of Mario Kart gets money-locked and if he commits to yet another monthly payment that he’ll forget about for two years, Jimin might actually come at him with a club. It also doesn’t help that it’s way fucking hotter in here than he thought it’d be on account of the college accidentally (it has to be accidental, they aren’t known to give a shit about this sort of thing) turning the heat on a month in advance and he can’t strip further down than his T-shirt so he’s just sitting in the darkest corner of the wings that he can find which still has a view of the stage. 

Not that the view is all that spectacular. Yuta is wearing a costume tutu around his head like the gayest version of a lion’s mane you could possibly find, and Jaehyun has that one vein sticking out on his temple that bodes extreme malheur for everyone in the hall. He’s going to snap any minute now but since they have a strict no-throwing-clipboards policy since that time Mark had to get three stitches on his chin, he’ll probably just stalk into the wings, sit beside the defunct vending machine stolen from the cafeteria six years ago, and stare at his knees for an hour straight. There’s a whole list of people Jeongguk really doesn’t envy in show business but stage managers cut right to the top.

He’s right after, though, because the minute Yuta’s done it’s his turn, and Jaehyun still hasn’t simmered down. Acutely aware of his thunderous glare, he shuffles on, under the lights that are burning hotter than ever today, and Seulgi bounds on in those tower-tall heels of hers, smile bright and uncaring. 

‘Don’t slouch,’ she tells him cheerfully, and he straightens up, clears his throat. ‘Give us your line, cretin.’ 

And just like that, Jeongguk not only forgets his line— which is all of one word— he also forgets who he’s supposed to be playing. His phone is buzzing in his pocket, earphones cutting out the sound, and he’s pretty sure his sock is rolling down, and Jaehyun is getting that look on his face, the one like he personally sharpens Death’s scythe every night. 

‘Line?’ Jeongguk squeaks.

‘Ready,’ Jaehyun replies through gritted teeth. ‘Even I know that.’ 

‘Ready. Right. Ready, my queen.’ 

‘Just ready .’ 

‘Right. Ready, ready.’ 

Just once .’ 

Ready ,’ Jeongguk says, as pointedly as he can get away with given that he’s the one who couldn’t remember one single word. Dialogue is not the point of this exercise anyway, the point of this exercise is quick blocking and checking the mic, but he understands that he didn’t choose the best of times to be uncooperative. Had this been just fifteen minutes ago, Jaehyun would’ve rolled his eyes and let it pass. As it is, Seulgi is actively blocking his view of Jeongguk so that Jeongguk can hurry off the stage and get back to his Mario Kart in one piece.

He doesn’t, though. He stares at his phone— a text from Hoseok, longer than three words and hence too long to process right now— and lets his eyes cross a bit, thinks hard. Sure, that sort of thing happens. But not to him. Usually. He’s trying to break it down, retrace his steps, figure out what made him freeze. 

The conclusion that it was merely the concept of being observed— something he’s not only used to to the point of not noticing anymore, but loves when he does notice it— doesn’t sit well with him, so he shrugs it off and actually gets back to Mario Kart this time.

 

 

The rain is fucking pelting down with none of that autumn gentleness it’s supposed to have. His sneakers soaked through on the way back and even though they’re already dry after an hour on the radiator, his feet are still freezing. He tucks them further under Taehyung’s sweatpant-clad butt and leans back, almost upside down over the armrest of the couch. He can see a bit of the kitchen, the heart-shaped Polaroid installation on the wall that is mostly pictures of the three of them, and an umbrella that looks like it belonged to someone’s great-grandmother.

‘All I’m saying is,’ Jimin chimes dangerously, ‘that none of this would have happened if we had chosen the Kellogg’s Frosties.’ 

On the screen, the attractively tired-looking protagonist of Bandersnatch is looking attractive and tired, and Jeongguk has no idea of how they got here, except that Kellogg’s Frosties were involved, apparently. Taehyung bristles and almost crushes Jeongguk’s toes, but that’s like, a side detail. 

‘That’s where you’re wrong,’ he replies. ‘if you had simply chosen to yell at dad instead of throwing the tea at the computer like an out-of-control—’

‘Jaehyun nearly threw the clipboard at me today,’ Jeongguk contributes. 

‘I don’t care about what Jaehyun did. I care about Thomas here—’

‘His name is Gregory and it just shows how much you don’t give a shit about him. Give me the remote. You’re forfeiting three turns.’ 

‘There is no way in fuck you’re getting this remote, Park Jimin. Believe you me. I paid for this television with my soul—’

‘Figures that it’s second-hand then—’

‘Give me the remote,’ Jeongguk says. ‘I will make every single wrong decision and you can both rage about it. Just like real life.’ 

‘You’ve actually been making some right decisions lately, though,’ Jimin says, thoughtful immediately. ‘I don’t know. This whole High School Musical marathon date thing? The fact that you still haven’t sung for Hoseok? You’re learning how to play hard to get.’ 

‘Pray tell how putting someone through six hours nonstop of that spectacled girl on the piano is playing hard to get,’ Taehyung says. 

‘That’s the good decision bit. If Hoseok said yes even though there’s a reason he hasn’t watched it so far, it means he just wants to spend some time with Jeonggukkie.’

If only Jeongguk’s feet could warm up as fast as his ears do at that statement, he wouldn’t have to stick them under Taehyung’s ass. As it is, he yanks them closer to himself and defensively reaches for his phone, as if Hoseok is going to send him a text filled with heart emoji copypasta right there and then, and weakly glares at Jimin who, for once, actually said something nice. Not surprised in the least, Jimin glares back, and he manages to look ten times scarier even though he’s the one wearing a giant sushi kigurumi. In fact, the only thing scarier than sushi kigurumi Jimin is the idea of Hoseok like, actually listening to a word Jeongguk says, watching a movie that Jeongguk loves, and basically being able to perceive and process him. The mortifying ordeal of being known, and all that. He hadn't thought any of this through when he blurted to Hoseok that they should get together this weekend and binge the movies. In fact, if he had thought this through before giving Hoseok his number, he wouldn't be here in the first place. It's the same feeling as earlier today, standing on the stage and waiting for Jaehyun's clipboard to come flying at him like a malevolent frisbee, unbearably conscious of the fact that he was being deliberately watched.

‘I don’t even know if there’s like, an actual thing, okay,’ he mumbles. ‘I mean yeah, I have a humongous crush and I love to hear him talk and he’s smart and funny and whatever. But I’m probably just a bug on his windshield.’ 

‘Very cute bug.’ 

‘Make all the boy bug go whaaa .’ 

‘This is exactly why,’ he grabs the remote from Taehyung’s hand and restarts the show to squawks of indignation, ‘he is not going to ever like me, ever. It’s because we’re like this. Now shut up and let me ruin Edward’s life in a different way.’

 

 

So, that time Jeongguk said it was the great aligning of the stars and stuff, he’s just gonna cross that out and replace it with this one. This , he’s sure, is the one among ones. As is Hoseok, incidentally. The one among ones.

It starts this way: following his October-long disturbing pattern of forgetting his four one-worder lines (including one which is just the name of his character) and showing up late to rehearsal and not standing still while having his measurements taken by the guys from fashion tech and all that jazz, he wakes up one day well past nine when he was supposed to be helping out at eight. Terrified that he’s going to have to get more stitches than Mark, he grabs the wrong jacket and doesn’t grab a hat at all, puts on the wrong shoes— he really should’ve put away his sneakers by now, honestly— and proceeds to run across campus in the pouring rain to get to the hall as fast as he can. At that point, someone like Taehyung would’ve made himself a full breakfast and taken his sweet time. I mean, Jaehyun’s gonna kill you either way, so might as well chill

Jeongguk can’t chill . Jeongguk doesn’t know what chill means and now he’s late for the third time this week all because he decided to listen to the entirety of Troye Sivan’s gay, gay discography at fucking two in the morning staring at the strip LED’s he ordered online that no longer stick as well to his floor but still look really cool glowing all purple from under his bed, and Jaehyun is going to kill him .

As it turns out Jaehyun is down with the flu, and Jeongguk had no reason to panic at all, but if life was that simple he wouldn’t be where he is right now (he’ll get to that in a second). No, life isn’t that simple, and Jaehyun seems to be good at long-distance clipboard-throwing too, because by the time it’s four and Jeongguk’s heading back home with his still-damp shoes, he registers an alarming tingle in the back of his throat.

Which brings Jeongguk to where he is right now and why this time is the one among ones— except, no, wait. Not yet. Goddamn meds. No, that was only four o’clock when he started to feel that tingle; it’s past midnight now so that’s a whole eight hours he still has to account for.

Okay, it starts this way: he had promised Hoseok that in return for putting up with six hours of High School Musical , he would be his date— his date — to Jackson Wang’s Halloween party (one floor above the Holy Trinity) which would totally be fun and totally not end in like, a full-on street brawl between the three people who all decided to come as that fucking clown from that movie. Back then, Jeongguk, carefree and flu-free, had enthusiastically acquiesced, glowing at the prospect of putting on some basic-but-sexy outfit that would win Hoseok’s heart— as it is, by the time it’s eight in the evening and he really needs to get ready, he feels about as alive as the basic-but-sexy vampire he was planning to go as. His left eye is watering nonstop and ruining his white face paint, which might as well be useless for all it’s doing to cover up how red his nose is. 

‘Vampires don’t get the flu ,’ he says to himself in the mirror, then recoils at how his voice sounds. ‘Fuck. Shit.’ 

Okay, okay . It starts this way: Goddamn meds that he really should not have taken at their highest possible non-fatal dose in some sort of stupid, vain hope that his symptoms would abate by the time he basic-but-sexily crawled his way downstairs where Hoseok was waiting for him. They don’t, and his crawl isn’t sexy, and he feels a little nauseous from all the water he downed with them and his left eye is still watering and wow, were the entrance lights always this fucking bright? 

But then he catches sight of Hoseok and all that melts away for a second. Jeongguk freezes in the main doorway and takes him in— the shoes, the gloves, the cape. The mask.

‘Phantom of the Opera?’ Jeongguk asks weakly, brain too frazzled to register a Hoseok who’s neither hair-up nor hair-down. No, this is hair-slicked-back and somehow the fact that Jeongguk can only see half his face makes him ten times more hot.

Hoseok smiles. ‘Thought you’d get a kick out of it.’ 

Oh, a kick Jeongguk is definitely getting. Square to the chest right where he thinks that last capsule is still stuck, but like, in a very, very good way. 

So really, it starts this way: Enamoured by his fake-disfigured date, Jeongguk gains energy the equivalent of like, draining three victims of their blood, and happily puts his fangs in and takes Hoseok’s fancy arm. The party is overwhelming; there are three people dressed as Pennywise and they’re all already going head to head on shots in the corner by the large speaker setup that they definitely smuggled from Yoongi’s place. By the time he spots some girl dressed as the Mother, the meds are back, and he swallows nervously. Vampires don’t puke. Probably. 

‘HOBI!’ That’s definitely Jackson’s booming voice. Jeongguk turns around and blinks once, twice, thrice. ‘YOU CAME!’ 

Jackson’s dressed the way he always does— like a really hot guy. Bomber jacket and jeans and all that, doing basic-but-sexy right. Only, he’s got an entire Ikea lamp on his head and when Jackson spots Jeongguk’s surprised looks, he tugs on the string and it actually comes on. 

‘I’m a lamp!’ he says happily, and that’s when Jeongguk decides to head to the drinks table. 

It actually starts this way: the minutes seem like hours and he doesn’t know what music is playing, and he’s really happy everyone’s having fun but he kind of wishes he’d stayed home, and Taehyung and Jimin aren’t even here yet from wherever the hell they’re doing their pre-drinks and he can’t even drink, so he’s stuck here with a carton of chocolate milk that was stocked on the non-alcoholic end of the table and he’s sipping miserably at it and Hoseok’s his date but he also has other friends and of course he’s going to go say hi to all of them. 

But soon enough— and really soon enough, he checks; it’s been like fifteen minutes— two things happen. One, Jeongguk gets exhausted enough that he decides to just sit cross-legged on the floor which no one has as of yet spilled anything on, and Hoseok gets done with his social round and comes to the drinks table to fetch him. 

‘Hey,’ Jeongguk hears, and looks up, squints because both his eyes are watering now and his nose is burning up on the inside and he must look a fucking sight. Hoseok’s taken off his mask and he’s not disfigured under it, not at all, and he’s so, so handsome and Jeongguk is so smitten. And tired. And he’s about to sneeze. ‘You good? You look a little tired ever since I picked you up.’ 

Jeongguk clears his throat and tries to come up with a reply, something like just under the weather or no no, I’ll be up in no time or even you’re really hot and I want to kiss you but that’s a biohazard right now . Instead he looks up into Hoseok’s concerned eyes and kind of melts.

‘I have the flu,’ he whimpers through his plastic fangs. ‘I’m dying.’ 

This is the last time, really— it ends this way: Hoseok almost calls a Kakaotaxi even though they’re a ten-minute walk away from Jeongguk’s apartment at most, and only relents when Jeongguk promises he’s not going to actually die. The night is still a little warm even though he’s cold, and Hoseok unclips his stupid cape and wraps it around the silk maroon shirt Jeongguk thought was the epitome of basic-but-sexy, and he doesn’t say a single word all the way back but he keeps his arm around Jeongguk’s shoulders.

If he thinks Jeongguk’s apartment is big or small or messy or clean or cute or ugly, he doesn’t say anything about it, or about the fact that he basically invited himself into it. He only checks his phone while Jeongguk feebly puts the code in, takes his shoes off near the heeled boots Jimin forgot here last week, and hurries Jeongguk forward as if he knows where the bed is. 

‘My lights,’ Jeongguk slurs, fully under the drugs now. ‘Tiny remote next to the Groot bobblehead.’ 

‘Groot bobblehead,’ Hoseok repeats drily, then ah ’s as he notices it perched next to Jeongguk’s reading lamp. He squints down at the tiny remote then shrugs, and a second later the entirety of the tiny studio lights up blue. Hoseok immediately looks ten times less real and more a product of a fever dream, which might actually be possible at this point. Jeongguk rolls his head to the side over his pillow and stares blearily at him, not sure if he’s giddy about Hoseok being in his apartment or he just wants to throw up. 

As it is, Hoseok has no more time for him. He’s opening the pair of cabinets above Jeongguk’s tiny plug-in stove and pulling out random packets, glaring down at them. Then he fishes out his phone from his dress pants and dials a number, holds it between his ear and shoulder as he rips open a packet of God knows what. Jeongguk doesn’t do the groceries around here, that’s Taehyung’s department.

It ends this way: ‘Dad?’ Jeongguk hears, and his eyes fly open. ‘I’m making soup for someone. He’s super sick. Flu. Can I put in spices to like, clear his nose? Or will it kill his throat?’ 

It ends this way: a blue room, Hoseok’s mask fixed over his hair now, Jeongguk’s fangs on the nightstand and a bowl of soup in his hands. It’s delicious and not too spicy and he feels the nausea go down and with it the throbbing headache, and by the time he’s halfway through he’s awake enough to realise that he hasn’t said so much as thanks to Hoseok. 

‘Sorry,’ he says, and even his voice sounds stronger. ‘Thanks for the. I’m so sorry I fucked up your Halloween.’ 

‘You didn’t fuck it up,’ Hoseok says, grins his hair-down Hoseok grin. He looks a little ridiculous now, mask on his head and bowtie coming undone, lit up in blue. Jeongguk thinks he’s never seen someone so simply great in his life. He wants to watch six hours of High School Musical with Hoseok. He wants to talk more about music but about other things too. He doesn’t want the serenade to be the only running gag keeping them together; he wants to be on the Polaroids Hyoyeon’s always snapping, and he wants Hoseok to come to the show in December, and he wants to know Hoseok’s birthday. He doesn’t want it to be just a stupid crush anymore. ‘Besides, you’re my date, right? We’re on a date here. Halloween is just incidental.’ 

We’re on a date here . This has to be the strangest date Jeongguk’s been on, then; homemade soup and flu meds beside his fangs and a cape around his shoulders warmer than any blanket could ever be, smelling faintly of Hoseok’s cologne. If this is a date, Jeongguk will never be able to go on a date again. He doesn’t plan to.

‘I’m a fairy,’ he says, then clarifies when Hoseok blinks in surprise. ‘In the play we’re putting on in December. A Midsummer Night’s Dream .’

‘Oh, I actually know that one. Oh my God, you’re one of the little fairies? The teeny tiny ones?’ 

‘Yes, one of the teeny tiny ones. My name’s Peaseblossom.’ 

‘Peaseblossom.’ It sounds a thousand times cuter with Hoseok’s accent, and Jeongguk nearly lets the bowl tip over. ‘Oh my God, that’s so cute. If you were really as tiny as that I’d keep you in one of those, you know, fairy houses. With a little fairy door and a post box and everything.’ 

Jeongguk’s turn to blink, not sure if Hoseok actually said that or the meds just invented it. ‘You’d keep me in a fairy house.’ 

‘Totally. I’d feed you individual chocolate chips for breakfast, lunch and dinner.’ 

His heart is too weak for this and he has influenza. He wants to sleep. ‘I don’t think that would be healthy.’

‘Oh, you’re a fairy. You’ll figure it out, you know?’ 

It ends this way: Hoseok forces him to change into pyjamas before actually getting under the covers, and takes up residence on Jeongguk’s tiny two-seater by the window. He says it’s only until midnight, to make sure everything’s fine, and then he’ll go right back to join Jackson’s party, but when Jeongguk opens his eyes at two, exhausted but alert, Hoseok is still there. Scrolling through the phone he’s managed to hook up to Jeongguk’s charger, cape shielding him against the chill of the room, silent smile on his face over whatever is on the screen.

It ends this way. Jeongguk almost says something stupid, then doesn’t, then almost does, then doesn’t, again. Instead, he vows to pay a visit to the Mother in the morning, and goes back to sleep.

 

 

you are not a clown. you are the entire circ… (17)

 

me [10:11]
yeah so i'm like vaguely in love with him
this is fine. this is fine

taehyung [10:12]
we're really in it now

jimin [10:12]
we're really in it now huh

taehyung [10:12]
ONE brain

 

 

As fate would have it— inasmuch as fate is the active and unsolicited intervention of Park Jimin and Kim Taehyung into Jeongguk’s poor bastard life— the notorious High School Musical marathon is set up for just a week after, when he’s no longer contagious and can make it through entire sentences without his voice giving out. Taehyung and Jimin invite themselves to it, as do Hansol and Hyoyeon, beating the entire point of what could possibly have been a romantic mocking-of-Troy-and-Gabriela. Jeongguk can’t say he’s actually against it, though; if he has to spend time alone with Hoseok in a room again, he thinks he might actually combust. As it is he’s kind of dying here, squished against the armrest and Hoseok pressed up against him, warm and smelling like the ginger punch he’s holding a huge steaming mug of. Hansol is at their feet, Hyoyeon on Hoseok’s other side, wrapped up in three whole blankets and still complaining about the cold. Over on the armchair, Taehyung and Jimin are wrapped around each other, which is as practical a solution as any. It seems like Jeongguk’s the only one not a hundred percent comfortable here, but he’ll just have to put up with the burden of forced snuggling with the love of his life. 

‘Okay, so from what I understand, there’s a good pair, an evil pair, and one— just one— sensible pair,’ Hoseok says, voice faux-serious. ‘But the film didn’t age well and now the evil pair is actually the good pair?’ 

‘The evil pair is basically Jeongguk,’ Taehyung says through a mouthful of popcorn. ‘Like, he’s both of them simultaneously. So as long as you like Jeongguk you’ll like the evil guys.’ 

Jeongguk makes a mental note to kill Taehyung later, but Hoseok’s laughing good-naturedly and nudging him, almost spilling the punch, so he settles for blushing furiously instead.

‘I do like Jeongguk,’ Hoseok says, as if he isn’t destroying like, multiple lives with the statement. ‘I’d keep him in a little fairy house if I could.’ 

‘That’s a lot to unpack,’ Hansol drawls. ‘I’m pressing play.’ 

And as Hoseok discovers the obnoxious beauty of musicals, Jeongguk discovers the obnoxious beauty of hair-down Hoseok. His uncontrollable laugh, the way he’ll jam to any song he hears two seconds of whether he likes it or not, the easy camaraderie between him, Hansol and Hyoyeon. He even gets into a thundering argument with Jimin over one of Ryan’s outfit choices. Whips himself off the couch to copy the moves of I Don’t Dance . It’s almost as if Jeongguk’s just along for the ride, except Hoseok is incessant in demanding his opinion for everything, crying with laughter when he realises Jeongguk and Taehyung know every single song by heart along with the theatrics. Laughing harder when he discovers, upon pulling them off playfully, that Jeongguk is basically useless without his glasses. 

‘Oh my God,’ Hoseok wheezes. ‘You fucking dingbat. You really can’t see shit?’ 

‘Did someone spike your punch?’ Jeongguk shoots back, but he can’t stop his grin. This isn’t a date and that’s fine, and it’s fine if it kind of is anyway. Their best friends hanging out together like this is a better mixing of worlds than he could ever have hoped for, and he finds himself thinking that even if he doesn’t ever manage to confess to Hoseok, he doesn’t mind things staying like this. 

No, he really doesn’t mind, he decides, when it’s well past midnight and the only ones awake are him and Hyoyeon. Hoseok’s listed over completely, but his weight is warm and comfortable, and his hair smells like cinnamon. Jeongguk hesitates for what seems like forever, but finally curls an arm around him, likes how it feels so much that it makes him sad, almost. Happy-sad. Like he doesn’t mind, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want more. 

Hyoyeon’s got her blankets all the way up to her nose, but he can tell she’s smiling. 

‘If only I had my camera,’ she says, winks. Jeongguk barely manages to smile back, leans his head on Hoseok’s, and turns his attention back to the screen where at least others are getting their shit together.

 

 

Then Mysterious Seokjin shows up on set. Everyone knows that’s the moment that things start to get serious, because if the props are done that means performance day is looming dark and dangerous, like objects in the mirror are closer than they appear dangerous. Mysterious Seokjin is the only one who has more authority over prop placement than Jaehyun, which is really saying something and explains the hush that falls over the entire crew when he strides in carrying a huge crescent and a whole bunch of other things that Jeongguk didn’t even know were required for this show. 

‘One scratch on it and I’ll rip out your intestines, tie them into a Windsor knot, put them over Nakamoto’s head, and parade him around campus like a seal,’ Mysterious Seokjin informs Jaehyun as he sets the moon down. ‘Which one of you is Peaseblossom?’ 

‘Me,’ Jeongguk squeaks, instantly regretting his response when Seokjin whips around to glare at him. He has on a pair of headphones with glittery pink cat ears, and his eyelashes look longer than usual. Terrifying. ‘Uh. Sorry.’

’No, you’re fine,’ Seokjin says absently after a second. If Jeongguk was staunchly denying that his recent theatre problems have to do with something as atrocious as stage fear , he’s fully ready to admit it now. Seokjin takes scrutiny to a whole other level; he feels like someone’s running a background check on his family as they speak. ‘Right. Jaehyun— Jimin and Dahyun will come over with the forest setup later today. I’ll leave it to you.’ 

Just like that he’s gone, and everyone’s kind of staring at Jeongguk now, wondering what he fucked up to be the sole point of Mysterious Seokjin’s attention. Jeongguk thinks about it, then shrugs at them all, retreating into the wings.

 

 

Just as promised, Jimin and Dahyun bring over the forest setup, even though it takes them three rounds to do it. Most of it can go right onstage, so the cast pauses the cue-to-cue to help them get it all in place. They’ve done a fantastic job with the artificial grass and the little light-up paper stars, which Jeongguk knows Jimin harnessed Taehyung’s slender made-for-origami fingers to make dozens and dozens of, and they’re going to bring in fresh flowers for every performance. Even Jeongguk’s crown is going to be fresh rosebuds, which he can’t wait for, given that he still hasn’t figured out if he’s allergic to them or not.

It looks amazing. At this point he’s been spoiled too much by the college to really be in awe of prop work, but there’s always a moment when it all comes together and he sees where he’ll really be standing instead of imagining it in his head. The far-off trees, the scattering of marble-like rocks, the strategically planted blunt thorns for Seulgi to catch her skirt on, giving him and Jungwoo something to look after as her servants. If there’s one play that deserves a modern, neon, post-punk adaptation it’s this one, but there’s something really lovely about going with the original aesthetics as well. There’s nothing wrong with going a little traditional, and later he could always pester Taehyung into writing the version of his dreams. No one like Taehyung to write something like that, after all.

He ends up staying back after rehearsal, promising Jaehyun to turn the keys in to the security. There’s something he really loves about a stage when it’s no longer a stage. Almost like it forgets how consciously it’s supposed to be a gateway to another world, and starts actually being one instead. In the silence, with no one to observe it. If a tree falls alone in a jungle, does it still make a noise? If a Jeongguk sits among lit-up paper stars and gaps where flowers are supposed to be, does he still make a noise? 

That’s where Hoseok finds him almost an hour later, Jeongguk perking up at the squeak of his shoes down the aisle between the seats. In the green forest lighting he looks entirely out of place but not at the same time— thick jacket and a beanie on his head, scarf hanging carelessly off his neck. That save the bees tote bag. The tip of his nose is probably red, but his smile is as warm as ever. The closer he gets to the stage the more the large crescent moon just behind Jeongguk lights him in silvery pink and purple, all iridescent and full of overlapping shadows. He looks ethereal, kind of how Jeongguk feels, no vanity intended. 

‘Romantic midnight picnic?’ Hoseok says, vaulting over the edge of the stage. He settles down beside Jeongguk. ‘Or did you call me here to kill me, or something? I don’t trust you ever since I found out you’re supposed to be Sharpay Evans.’

‘Supposed to be? I am Sharpay, didn’t you hear Taehyung the other day?’ 

‘I don’t know,’ he replies. His voice is muted in the largeness of the hall, and Jeongguk really wants to run his hands through his hair. Hold the hands that are playing with Taehyung’s paper stars. ‘I don’t think you’re like them at all. It’s…dated and parodied, you know? You aren’t that dramatic or…demanding or…loud, you know? I mean— you’re one of the softest people I’ve ever met. Shyest. If anything you’re the nerd girl. And that’s okay? You don’t have to be Sharpay just because you’re a theatre kid, right?’ 

He sounds earnest and gentle, all sincere tones and wide eyes. Jeongguk feels a surge of affection even stronger than what he was already feeling ever since everyone left and he laid on his back, staring up at the wired ceiling and thinking about Hoseok. He smiles gently and puts a hand on Hoseok’s knee, scratches his fingers over the denim.

‘Hoseok,’ he says. ‘You’re being really nice and philosophical right now and I really appreciate that. But the only reason you think I’m not dramatic or demanding or obnoxious is because I’m too shy around you to actually be like that. Taehyung’s known me since I was five. Believe him.’ 

Hoseok stares at him for a full thirty seconds, then breaks into delighted laughter. 

‘Well, then,’ he says, hair in his eyes and stars in his hands, ‘I hope you let me stick around long enough to see you like that. I can’t wait for it.’ 

 

 

Jeongguk looks up at the Mother, and the Mother looks down at him. With her unseeing but all-seeing eyes, omniscient and omnipotent. Whatever. The flowers someone probably brought in here an eon ago have long since withered, lying limp at her feet where he’s sitting cross-legged. It’s been, like, ten minutes and he doesn’t even know what question he’s trying to ask, let alone whether he’s obtained an answer or not. And the floor is cold as shit even through his velvet pants. The three lone socks lying in front of him are all soaked. He kind of gets how they feel.

 

hoseok [08:31]
yeah i’m at that new café
you know the one that like people volunteer at
it’s across the campus though so i can come get you after rehearsal?

me [08:35]
i’ll text you
it’s a dress rehearsal, might take long
i just know yuta’s going to set something on fire

 

No, Jeongguk doesn’t have any answers or questions or anything smart to say, really. But coming to the Mother is more a pavlovian response than anything else, and sometimes Namjoon forgets to collect his weed stash from under her at the end of the day, so there’s that too. Jeongguk isn’t interested in weed right now, or even soju, or his stupid grapefruit juice. He just wants his nerves to go down and to remember that this is far from the first time he’s going for a dress rehearsal. 

As if wanting to capitalise on his jumpiness, someone starts up a tap full blast just behind him. Jeongguk screeches and jerks, on his feet before he even knows it. 

It’s Mysterious Seokjin, silk shirt and pink hair, staring at him coldly through the mirror. Jeongguk stares back at him, too startled for greetings or even like, a sound. A sound would be great at this point. 

‘Jaehyun tells me you’re acting weird,’ Seokjin says, then. He’s washing his hands so methodically it’s almost absurd, but that’s probably because he has some wicked kind of glue on them. ‘I know you don’t have stage fear. I’ve seen you perform.’ 

‘You have?’ 

‘I come to every show the faculty puts up. You were fantastic this summer.’ Before Jeongguk can get all fuzzy about that, he continues, voice monotonous. ‘Why are you acting weird?’ 

‘I’m not,’ Jeongguk says, even though he definitely is. ‘I’m just…’ 

‘Is this because you’re all hung up over Hobi?’ 

He takes a moment to process the nickname and the implications that Mysterious Seokjin and Hoseok are on nickname basis, before processing the question and turning what he assumes is a violent shade of red. Draws himself up to full height and fixes Seokjin with his best cold stare.

‘I am not,’ he says, ‘hung up over Jung Hoseok. I don’t even know who that is.’ 

‘Okay,’ Seokjin says, raising his eyebrows. ‘That’s a pity, because he’s definitely hung up over you . He talked my ears off about you for so long that the other day I had to see what all the fuss was about. Namjoon and Yoongi are sick of it, too. He keeps saying every other song they’ve written is made for you, or something. Hansol wants me to stage an intervention because he thinks you’ll never be interested.’ 

Jeongguk blinks at Mysterious Seokjin. He’s sure that the Mother is literally blinking at him too, and in a fit of the purest of stupidity, he whirls around to check, like are you seeing this

‘I wouldn’t trust her if I were you,’ Seokjin says, and Jeongguk whirls back. ‘Her sculptor is a fickle man.’ 

‘Right,’ Jeongguk says. ‘Because you know him.’ 

‘Oh, I wouldn’t say anyone knows him. They all say he’s a huge mystery.’ With that, Mysterious Seokjin throws Jeongguk a human expression— a wink— and flounces out, leaving him with three wet socks and an existential crisis fresh out the fridge.

 

 

At the very least he’s got something to chew on that isn’t his sudden and debilitating stage fear. He chews on it while they zip up his costume, chews on it while Nayeon paints his lips and places sequins on his cheeks with tweezers, chews on it while they tighten the straps on his wings and string bells over his shoulders. Chews on it when the rosebud crown comes down on his gelled hair, then chews on it some more as he hears the faint sounds of the rehearsal starting up onstage. 

But then it’s his cue before he’s done chewing, and suddenly he’s stumbling onto the scene with the others, the forest lit up and a few scattered first-years in the audience, filming and taking notes. Jeongguk stares out at them— he’s not supposed to— and fails to lift Seulgi’s skirt— he’s not supposed to— and takes an audibly deep breath (no, he’s not supposed to). 

‘Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies,’ Seulgi’s saying, then, but Jeongguk’s still chewing, and he’s just managed to reach the never be interested bit. He’s kind of skipped over the whole he thinks every song is made for you part because that needs more alcohol than he has access to at nine in the morning, but never be interested is horrifying enough. ‘Jeongguk?’ 

‘Yeah,’ he says. ‘I have to go.’ 

And the thing is, he could definitely have waited. Dress rehearsal is not a joke and he’s actually pretty sure, even as he starts to walk to the edge of the stage, that three guards are going to show up out of nowhere and wrestle him back onto the scene, but he’ll just have to fight them off. Poke them in the eye with his wings or something. Because he can definitely wait, but he doesn’t want to, and that counts for something. Many things. He could’ve waited if he was only mildly interested, or something. If he was never interested he wouldn’t even be thinking about it right now. But as it is, Jeongguk is very fucking interested, more than words or a monologue or even a song could describe, and if he doesn’t say it out loud now then he’ll never get through a line on opening day, he just knows it. And— and that’s just the thing— everyone’s watching him now, absolutely everyone, and he doesn’t mind anymore. He doesn’t mind, again. He’s Jeongguk and he’s dramatic and he has a dangerous tendency to break into song at any point in time, and he’s ready to cross the league divide into Jung Hoseok’s manly, manly—

‘Jeongguk, what the fuck are you doing—’

‘Jeon Jeongguk.’ He actually stops mid-vault offstage at that, because that’s Jaehyun’s voice. He doesn’t sound pissed or even done or resigned— he sounds almost...amused? Jeongguk turns around to look at him, and yeah, there’s a smile on his face. ‘Your costume costs more than your life. Come back with it in one piece or I’ll kill you.’ 

‘Yes, sir!’ 

And it must cost more than his life, he’s sure, but it doesn’t do jack shit against the bitter November cold. Silk slacks, silk tunic, fucking wings— he’s freezing his ass off but running in these ridiculous glorified Vans might just warm him up some. In fact, if he had anything resembling self-consciousness left in him, the sheer embarrassment of running across a busy campus decked out in fairy gear would’ve warmed him up enough. But Jeongguk’s got no time for that. His wings can’t actually fly so he’s going to have to run, even if it kills his knees. 

So he runs. He runs while every single person stares at him, a couple of them quick enough to whip out their phones, others telling their friends to turn around. Jeongguk doesn’t give a shit, even though his fucking bells are jingling all over the place. Jeongguk has a café to find on the other side of campus, where Hoseok is probably sitting with a too-bitter tea and a book about brutalist architecture or something, Jeongguk can never tell when it comes to him and they haven’t talked nearly as much as he’d like. Hoseok’s probably sitting with a bitter tea, scarf wrapped around his neck and ears folded under his beanie, hair half-up, half-down, half all over the fucking place. His breath misting up the glass facade beside him. Sitting there hung up over Jeongguk like a fucking idiot.

Just then Jeongguk spots a familiar face carrying a magical object. He forces his legs to slow down a little and comes to a stop in front of a very bewildered Jackson Wang, who was minding his own business with his skateboard slung over his shoulder just two seconds before a fairy suddenly landed into his peaceful Friday morning.

‘Hi?’ Jackson says. ‘Are you from Greenpeace or something? I don’t have any--’

‘I need your skateboard,’ Jeongguk pants. ‘Please. Promise I’ll give it back. I live here. I’m with the theatre crowd.’ 

Jackson ah ’s in immediate comprehension, and not for the first time Jeongguk is glad to have their collective reputation precede him. ‘Sure, man. Actually, aren’t you the sick vampire from last time? Uh, Jeongguk? Hoseok’s—uh.’ 

‘That’s me,’ Jeongguk says, already setting the skateboard on the ground and positioning himself. ‘I’m Hoseok’s uh . Gonna go change that real quick.’ 

He sees Jackson waving in his peripheral vision, but he’s already off, picking up speed faster than he thought he would, and wondering for a second if that might be because of his wings. That’d be the least surreal part of this situation, all things considered, so he doesn’t spare it much thought, concentrating all his energy on his legs instead. 

Hoseok’s stepping out of the café just as Jeongguk gets there, blowing into his hands and shuddering at the cold, his breath a cloud against his face. Then he looks up and right at Jeongguk, and freezes entirely. 

Barely managing to bring the skateboard to a stop— God, thank fuck it didn’t rain last night— Jeongguk straightens up, fixes the rosebud crown that is falling over his eyebrows. 

‘Jeongguk?’ Hoseok’s voice sounds…rough. Raw, a little, like his tea was too bitter. ‘What…’ 

‘I don’t wanna sing for you,’ Jeongguk blurts. ‘I just— I mean, I do. I really do. I sing well, promise. I just— I thought, what if that’s all you’re waiting for and then you dump me? Before giving me a real chance? Like— what if I’m the comic relief or something? No, not the comic relief, just— because you said Taehyung threw you under the bus--’

‘Fuck Taehyung,’ Hoseok says, then widens his eyes. ‘Okay, I didn’t mean to— you get me. No. Jeongguk, what the fuck. Wait, are you cold? You must be freezing. Let’s—’

‘No.’ Jeongguk takes a deep breath. ‘Hoseok. I’ve been putting off the serenade because I don’t want this to end. I really don’t want this to end. I want to— I want this to be the start. I want to—’ Out with it, Jeongguk. ‘—I really want to be your—‘ 

Hoseok looks at him for a second, then starts to unwrap his scarf. Steps forward and wraps it gently around Jeongguk instead, making sure it doesn’t snag on his costume. It’s warm and smells like chocolate, a little, and Jeongguk might just start crying if Hoseok doesn’t say something. 

‘Jeongguk,’ he says, on cue, his voice fitting so much fondness in just his name that the entire morning seems to warm up a little. ‘At this point, I’m pretty sure I only need you to sing to seal the deal. The deal of me , like, really wanting to be your boyfriend.’ 

‘Yes,’ Jeongguk replies. ‘Boyfriend. That’s the word I was going for.’ 

‘I figured.’ He’s smiling, so wide now, all dimples and shiny eyes, and his crush just asked him out but Jeongguk still has such a crush . He’ll never get sick of saying it. He’ll never get sick of it, and he hopes that a little bit of this giddy feeling will always stay with him. But for now he has to overcome it long enough to make his move, so he takes a breath and closes his eyes, opens them slowly. 

‘I want to make out with you,’ he says sincerely, ‘but I have two kilos of makeup on my face right now.’ 

Hoseok brings his hands up to his face, muffles a laugh into them. 

‘That’s fine,’ he says, and he sounds a little pained for some reason. ‘We can make out later. Just— let’s get you inside while I call a taxi to the hall. Jaehyun must be throwing a fit.’ 

But Jeongguk’s still kind of frozen in place, because he’s just realised two things— one, that the sole of one of his shoes is coming off and Jaehyun will throw a fit, and two, that it took all of thirty seconds for him and Hoseok to decide to be boyfriends, which they are, now. Unless he literally has to sing to seal the deal. Does he have to sing right now? God, isn’t the campus staring at him enough? He’ll sing if he has to, though. He’d do anything for Hoseok. He—

‘Jeongguk.’ That one’s a little firmer, and when he looks up Hoseok’s suddenly two steps closer. The tip of his nose is red, and his eyes are bright. ‘Kiss?’ 

And like, yes, kiss. But Jeongguk really has way too much makeup on, he wasn’t being coy or anything, and he really doesn’t want to sit still while they reapply it, because he knows he’s going to get a case of the wiggles all day now. He can’t not. He’s boyfriends with his crush

So he decides to make the best of his circumstances, and leans forward daintily— can’t get anything tangled in anything else— and purses his lips, presses them to Hoseok’s cheek in the lightest kiss he can manage. It still leaves a faint trace of pink on his already-pink skin, but Jeongguk’s satisfied. As is Hoseok, it seems, because he’s speechless for a second before regaining his composure.

‘Right,’ he says. ‘In you go. Come on. You’re going to actually die of the flu this time.’ 

 

 

you are not a clown. you are the entire circ… (3)

me [12:09]
► 00:12

jimin [12:09]
oH MGF YDG HSDFG H GOHO DMFG GD 

taehyung [12:09]
i knew it. i woke up today and my right eye was twitching. i knew it.

me [12:10]
► 02:54
► 02:47
► 03:39

taehyung [12:25]
ON THE VERY FRIST DAY??????
NASTY
oh my god what's his apartment like
is his shower clean you know that's on your list of dealbreakers 

jimin [12:26]
oh my god i hope namjoon writes y'all a song
i can't believe you get to have it all
holy trinity? hot jock hansol?
second base on the first day of a LOVING RELATIONSHIP
you disgust me

me [12:30]
i am so happy guys.


 

He kills it. Well, as much as he can kill it when he has all of four lines. It's more like they kill it, all of them. Yuta doesn't fuck a single thing up— he never does, on performance day— and they look so stunning Jeongguk almost keeps getting distracted by the visuals. He doesn't fuck up either, though, and when it's over and they come out for the curtain call, everyone cheers loud. It's mostly students and half of them juniors, but the hall is packed anyway and he feels warm and accomplished. Taehyung's mock-crying but Jeongguk knows he filmed everything, and Jimin is here on a date with "hot jock Hansol" so he probably didn't pay attention to a single thing. Hyoyeon will take her Polaroids in better lighting, he knows that, too. 

But once he's back in his regular clothes, thick sweater under fluffy jacket and stray petals still in his hair, when he steps out from the back entrance, Hoseok is the first person he sees. He's positively beaming, hair a mess from the snow, and he gathers Jeongguk up the moment he can. 

'It was so great,' he says, cold lips brushing against Jeongguk's temple and making him shiver. 'Oh my God, you were so cute up there. My heart can't stand this. Is this how it's always going to be when you go on stage? I can't come see your shows. I'll die.' (Hair-down Hoseok is a babbler, and he coos a lot more than any human being should.) 

'My presence is known to have that effect on people, yes,' Jeongguk says grandly. 'I understand if you can't stand the sparkles. I'll just date Seokmin or some other worthier mortal instead.' (Goblin Jeongguk is a goblin.)

The walk home is long. Everyone wants to meet up for drinks but Jeongguk absolutely needs a hot shower before he can be functional again, and it's not that late into the evening anyway. His body's kind of aching but he doesn't want to take a taxi, because then he won't get to hold Hoseok's hand and that is serious business. 

'Jackson's doing a thing for new year's eve,' Hoseok says. 'A masquerade or something. I thought that'd be right up your alley.' 

Jeongguk perks up. 'Oh my God, totally. Really intense gold highlighter and gold nail paint, and you can wear something really red, and I've been thinking about that Phantom costume you'd put on and I think you'd actually look way sexier in just a plain white shirt, what d'you think? Plus that way we could—'

'Jeongguk. Kiss?' 

Kiss. They're right by the entrance now and could continue this whole affair upstairs where it's warm, but Jeongguk wraps his arms around Hoseok's neck anyway, swaying into him and giggling when their noses bump. Hoseok pulls away and kisses him all over his cheeks, then pulls a face at the taste of the remaining glitter while Jeongguk laughs.

'Another thing,' he says, then, when Jeongguk's still kind of recovering. 'Namjoon and Yoongi actually want you on a song. It's nothing too fancy. A little lo-fi. And it wasn't me, I promise. Seokjinnie showed them one of your musicals.' 

Jeongguk blinks at him. 'Like. Sing on an original track?' 

Hoseok raises his eyebrows, then grins. 'I promise I won't listen to it if you don't want me to. I know I'm not allowed to.' 

'Oh, I think we're well past that now.' 

'Are we?' His eyebrows go even higher. 'Some proof, Jeongguk-sshi?' 

And, well, Jeongguk does owe him a serenade. So he huffs and rolls his eyes, but then clears his throat. Opens his mouth, and starts to sing.