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how to be a human being

Chapter Text

hoseok arrived home at 3:15pm but he did not clock into work. he pushed open the back door of the small conjoined shop, one that lead directly to the stairwell, and made his way up to the apartment above. he could hear the quiet rustle of street traffic and the cheers of excited children. he took a moment, halfway up the steps, to listen to the soft mumbling through the walls; it was his shop, and judging by the cheery, but unknowledgable voice behind the wall, jimin had kept business going on his, and hoseok’s, off day. hoseok made a mental note to thank him later.

the hallway connected at the top of the stairs, spilling out directly in front of the apartment door. there, a few mementos lined the hallway; a side table with flowers, a decorative painting. this was the only apartment on the floor, which was both lucky and unlucky for the three that owned the shop below. no one would be bothering them, especially during shop hours, or causing traffic through the back entrance near the street. but the three had to equally divide the apartment with friends and boyfriends and husbands, who trophied visiting in the high hours of the morning; the space had quickly become cramped. nevertheless he loved it the same. hoseok dug his apartment key out from his jacket pocket, and unlocked the door. to his surprise, he found as the door pushed open and thudded behind him, no one else was home. yoongi was not asleep on the couch, seokjin was not standing over the balcony. it was solemn, and empty.

after slipping the shoes from his feet, hoseok moved into the bedroom he shared, and into the large master bathroom. there, he set the white paper bag onto the counter, crossed his arms, and sighed, watching it. after a minute of stillness, he pulled the small pill bottle from inside. he set the bottle on the counter and opened the cabinet. a small row of packaging filled the first shelf: over the counter pain reducers, cough medicine, taehyung’s allergy pills, melatonin for yoongi, a small box of hello kitty band-aids with jimin’s squiggly handwriting (reading “for jeongguk” with a small heart). he took out the small, weekday labeled container from the top shelf. after opening the squares and the pill bottle, he placed one in each, and pushed it flush against the countertop and the mirror.

he had never been prescribed anything like antidepressants until a few months ago. he had left the small drug store with his head low, paper bag in paper bag, glasses pushed high onto his nose. unlike him, yoongi had been taking medication for so long it seemed like a natural reflex now. this is what he needed, hoseok thought to himself, but getting a new prescription always irked him in some way. what was it like, how would it get to him? this wasn’t a mood stabilizer anymore. it was stronger than that.

but he was human, he supposed, he was human.

and sometimes things happened in life that he could not explain.

he tossed the paper bag into the recycling bin in the kitchen on the way out of the room and into the living room. he pulled his phone from his back pocket, unlocking it. there were no new messages; he supposed that no one had heard him come in through the back. especially not jeongguk, with his new wave of fans every day in the bake shop. hoseok opened the message thread he had with yoongi, in hopes of catching him at an off moment, where he was not delivering, but not on his bike.

3:32 pm

hoseokie: hey i just got home

yoongs: oh cool, did u let tae know?

hoseokie: not yet, i’ll text him

yoongs: how are u feeling?

hoseokie: okay. i’m gonna sit out on the terrace for a little while

hoseokie: maybe i’ll catch some zzz

yoongs: keep warm

hoseok smiled fondly. after shooting a message to taehyung (just got back; thank jiminie for me for covering my shit <33333), he set his phone on the coffee table, slipped out of his jacket- which he hung on the back of the armchair- and stepped out onto the small balcony. he felt the sun hit the side of his face, and sighed contently. jin’s flowers nestled in the ceramic pot by the door had bloomed wonderfully; he closed his eyes for a moment. hoseok wanted to stand there forever, not thinking about the problems in his head, or the nagging feeling in his bones. just to stand in the sun, and listen to the outer seoul traffic rustling the urban area around the busy shop.

someone called his name from the street, in formal greeting, and he lifted a hand to wave at them. it was a young boy, someone who he had seen run through his shop with a sketchbook in both hands, face alight with energy. yi jihoon, he recalled suddenly. he nodded to himself.

by the time he heard the apartment door shut, his eyes had become heavy and weary with sleep. he looked out across the line of buildings, the sun beginning to drift low in the sky, but still casting its light out onto the patio space.

“hoseok?” someone called from inside. it was muffled by the traffic, but hoseok turned, squinting into the darkened room. he stepped inside. yoongi stood in the middle of the kitchen, bag of what hoseok assumed were groceries still in his hands. he was dressed down -a backwards turned baseball cap held his hair back- but he wore the soft grey logo shirt of jeongguk’s bakery.

“hi,” yoongi said, as if he had said it before and hoseok had not heard. hoseok met his eye and smiled, albeit a little forcibly.

“hi,” he replied, rubbing at his eyes. the room adjusted slowly. “sorry, hyung, i’m completely exhausted.”

yoongi laughed breathily in response, and finally set the grocery bag onto the table. hoseok moved over to help him unpack, and stacked them neatly in the center of the table.

“did someone ask you to go?” hoseok asked. he began placing items into the top cabinets above the stove.

“taehyung said we might need some vegetables, and i checked with seokjin-hyung for the rest. it’s only what was on the list on the counter, he said, so i just got that.” he picked up a rather funny looking bag of rice, made a noise that sounded like a laugh, and tossed it over to hoseok. hoseok caught it with minor difficulty and put it up on the shelf before giving yoongi a look. instead of saying something though, he just shook his head, suppressing a smile. he shut the cabinet and leaned against the counter, looking over at yoongi. yoongi folded the cloth bag in his hands, set it to the side of the counter behind him, one that looked out into the entryway of the apartment. he lingered for a moment, eyebrows creased in concentration, but when he saw that the carton of juice was still sitting on the table, he reached to grab it. hoseok lunged forward as he did, but stopped short as yoongi picked it up and walked over to the fridge.

“sorry,” said hoseok.

“don’t be.” yoongi leaned against the fridge door and caught hoseok’s eye. they held a short but steady gaze for a few moments, before yoongi spoke again. yoongi’s eyes did not leave hoseok’s face; hoseok felt his stomach knot uncomfortably.

“if you’re really tired, maybe you could wash up and take a nap? walking around lethargic isn’t going to help you at all.”

hoseok rubbed at his eyes again and nodded.

“that seems like a good idea.”

taking a bread roll from the fridge (of which jeongguk had made earlier that week, hoseok remembered), yoongi wandered into the main living space, and sat down.

as hoseok walked out of the kitchen, his phone buzzed from his back pocket. he read the text to himself:

4:55 pm

tae: we’re closing up the bookshop soon, so i’ll be up once i’m done.

tae: hope you’re feeling alright <3~

 hoseok smiled.

“taehyung is going to be up soon. he told me he’s closing shop in a few.” he told yoongi. yoongi made a sound of acknowledgement, and went back to typing on his phone.

hoseok entered the shared bedroom once again, and shut the door behind him. he yawned tiredly as he tossed his phone onto the bed closest to the door, and left for the bathroom. he had left the light on from when he was in last, and reminded himself quietly to make sure it was off next time. he had a hard time remembering the small things like that, chastising himself to do it, over, and over once again. he braced both hands on the countertop, and sighed. he met his eyes in the mirror, studied the shape of his face for a moment, before turning on the faucet and rinsing his hands with the lukewarm water. he patted at his face with his palms, squinting his eyes shut, opening them wide, trying to focus in the mirror. he found, however, that his eyes remained heavy and blurred; defeated, hoseok left the bathroom, definitely shutting off the light. after changing out of his black pants and into something softer, he sat down and vowed to take his medication before bed in the night.


as hoseok awoke, only the dusk light, and the light from underneath the door, lit the room. as he let his eyes adjust, he stretched his arms above his head. at his feet, his phone lit up. it was a news notification, but several texts were unread underneath them. he opened the message thread.

7:01  pm

yoongs: good morning sleepy head

7:11 pm

yoongs: are you awake yet

7:17 pm, which was the most recent, read:

yoongs: jin-hyung and i just finished making dinner; if youre hungry then get up but ill wake you up in 10 if youre still sleeping by then.

hoseokie: i’m up now, hold on, i’ll be in there.

 there was a muffled cheer after a muted string of dialogue, which hoseok only could guess was yoongi reading the text aloud, and whomever else had been in the room responding triumphantly. hoseok put his phone down beside him and wriggled out from under the covers. his stomach growled and he agreed.

he moved to switch on the light as he made it, again, back to the bathroom, this time to fix his tousled hair, but something caught his attention from the corner of his eye. he paused, turning to look behind him.

as suspected, there was nothing.

with a frown, hoseok clicked on the bathroom light, he washed his hands and face of sleep, and looked over at the row of his medication. he considered taking one now, to save himself the trouble if he ended up falling asleep again and missing his dose. he looked back up into the mirror for a second, and again, something caught his eye.

this time, he was able to see it in the mirror. he froze in surprise, but relaxed as he recognized the shape of the person standing adjacent to him. it was yoongi, perhaps hoseok had not heard him step into the room and into the bathroom behind him. yoongi was like that, quiet, one to slink about. he was dressed differently than the last time hoseok had saw him; he now dawned a rather eloquent blouse and a patterned scarf tied into a knot around his neck. his hair was parted, which was not unusual, but it fell softly to one side of his face. yoongi stood, fixing his cufflinks, and hoseok watched him. when yoongi looked up and met hoseok’s look in the mirror, he raised an eyebrow in question.

“hello,” yoongi said, and continued to reshape the cuffs of his shirt.

“i didn’t hear you come in.” hoseok replied.

“i know.” hoseok saw a smile form on yoongi’s face. as hoseok continued to stare, and eventually turn around to look at yoongi face value, yoongi glanced up.

“what is it?” yoongi asked.

hoseok shook his head, frowning. “nothing, you just look different than usual.”

yoongi laughed, clearly and truly. “not in a bad way, i hope?” yoongi reached up to pat the side of hoseok’s face, lingering there for a moment. hoseok shut his eyes.

“you’re just tired.” yoongi said. “no need to worry.”

hoseok yawned in response, and rather sheepishly covered his mouth. he turned again to face the mirror as yoongi began to fix his hair in it, and pulled the pill container to him. he popped open the one that read ‘tuesday’, the current day, and shook out the capsule. yoongi paused to study him.

“you don’t need to do that.” yoongi said. “not now.”

“what if i forget to do it later?” hoseok said.

“you won’t forget,” yoongi assured him. “i’ll remind you. don’t worry.”

yoongi took the pill from hoseok’s hand, and set it back in the container. when yoongi looked up at him again, hoseok caught his breath. unnervingly close to him, yoongi only had to mumble his next few words.

“you should go eat something.” he said.

hoseok nodded, heart thrumming in his ears and in his throat. he backed out of the bathroom, shutting the light out as he went and turned on one heel, face feeling warm and flush. he picked his phone of the bed, and opened the door.

the light was on in the living space, filling the open area with soft white light. from where he stood, he could see jin and namjoon in the kitchen, apparently having some discourse as jin waved around the spoon he was using to stir. tae and jimin sat together on the couch, and jeongguk was sitting on the floor in front of them. they balanced plates of seokjin’s cooking; of what exactly, hoseok couldn’t tell from the angle. but jimin waved the best he could as he saw hoseok.

from the armchair, with his jacket still strewn across it, yoongi turned his head. he had both knees pulled up and had slung his arms across them. a half finished plate of food sat on the arm of the chair, balanced ever so carefully.

hoseok blinked several times.

yoongi, as he had seen him earlier that day, was still dressed in his work shirt, and now, soft sweatpants. his hair was mussed up from his hat, and there was no shadow around his eyes. his face was bare and round, not contoured.

yoongi gestured to hoseok to go to the kitchen for some food with a wave of his hand. hoseok took his advice, and when he entered the kitchen, was called upon by jin.

“oh good, finally. good.” he handed hoseok a plate, filled it, and waved him off.

hoseok, still shaken by his double yoongi encounter, sat down at the table, across from where seokjin was cooking, and as far from the living room as he could. he had suddenly lost his appetite. as much as it looked appetizing, he had no motivation to eat it, as if his stomach had pulled itself shut.

why the fuck , he thought to himself, are there two yoongi’s?

it wasn’t probable, for in what sense could yoongi have gone from the bathroom to the armchair in such little time, without hoseok seeing him? and conjuring this thought brought about the touchiness of yoongi in the bathroom. he had been more than willing to be close to hoseok, closer than we share an apartment , closer than we’re family . very much so like he was trying to egg hoseok on, to goad him, but into what? he had been kind, and eager, and dominant, and...

hoseok shoved whatever was on the plate into his mouth and tried to concentrate on that, and not the tension headache forming around his head.

yoongi, or who hoseok hoped was really yoongi, walked into the kitchen, plate in one hand. namjoon had moved away from the stove to sit adjacently to hoseok, and jin stood with his back to the stove, bracing himself on the kitchen counter beside it. yoongi set his plate, now empty, in the sink, and rinsed off the surface of it.

“are you feeling any better?” he said, directing it over his shoulder toward hoseok.

hoseok turned his torso to face him.

“what?” he said.

“are you feeling any better?” yoongi repeated. hoseok dipped his head, swallowed, and spoke.

“a little. i’ve got a bit of a headache now, but i don’t know why.”

“probably because you’re on that phone so much,” said namjoon offhandedly.

there was a whistling noise from yoongi, which hoseok thought sounded similar to a wheezing laugh. he took another few bites. that was definitely the real yoongi.

yoongi (real yoongi, as the other, well-dressed yoongi was nowhere to be found), sat down to the left of hoseok, across from namjoon. they struck up a conversation about namjoon’s latest piece, which sat in the studio across from hoseok’s shop. it sounded beautiful to hoseok; he suspected that namjoon had probably brought it in while he had been away. he would have to see it tomorrow, when he opened shop again. another mental note: his morning class met tomorrow at 6:30. hoseok put his head down on the table, and shut his eyes, focusing on the sound of their conversation, and nothing more.


hoseok didn’t remember falling asleep again, but yoongi awoke him with a touch to his arm. his hands were cold, and his face was contorted into one of worry. he still sat next to hoseok; the light from the tv reflected into the other room, and the three youngest sat in front of it, chattering away at what sounded like a game show. hoseok picked his head up a few inches off the table, and took one of yoongi’s hands in his.

“your hands are so cold...”  hoseok murmured, running his thumb over the back of yoongi’s hand.

“it’s the middle of winter, what do you expect?” yoongi retorted, his voice tight at first, but mellowing out as he continued to speak. “you need to go to an actual bed, and get some actual rest.”

“i already took a nap. two naps.” hoseok tried, and sat up fully. he blinked several times, and looked at yoongi with half lidded eyes.

“you’re going to bed.” yoongi threaded his fingers between the ones on hoseok’s left hand, and pulled him out of the chair. hoseok followed, shuffling behind him, eyes mostly closed. but he felt a heaviness that was not sleep settle on his shoulders, one that bothered him.

“no,” hoseok said, “i have to stay awake.”

“you don’t, you can sleep.” said yoongi. “it’s okay.”

hoseok heard the bedroom door open, and he was lead in. there were some shuffling noises, of yoongi moving around, he assumed.

“it’s okay,” he heard again, repeated, almost inside of his head. he stretched his arms above his head, shaking the tension from his limbs.

“that’s so cute.” he felt a hand push back his hair, fix his slouching shoulders -- warm hands against his skin. it was yoongi’s voice again, but so muted and soft that hoseok couldn’t be sure. he could see the mop of black hair in front of him, fading in and out of the dark of the room. hoseok found his way over to the bedside, and sat, before falling onto his side, exhausted. the warm hands returned to help him into a comfortable position, holding onto his hands, stroking his face. hoseok wondered which yoongi this was; did he care?

“why are you helping me?” he said bluntly.

there was a questioning hum, but then, the other yoongi spoke.

“because i love you, and you want to love yourself. i’m everything you’re looking for in him. it’s what i’m here for.”

hoseok felt light and warm, pulled back down into sleep again, for the third time. he felt the other yoongi’s hands slip away from him, drowned out by the heaviness of sleep, and the sounds of the apartment around him.

Chapter Text

the phone in the back of his jeans pocket buzzed, but hoseok was too preoccupied with the nauseous hunger in the pit of his stomach, constantly demanding his attention. he squirmed past taehyung, who was at the kitchen table, shoveling dry cereal into his mouth.

“why don’t you ever have milk in your cereal?” jimin asked pointedly, waving his fork at him. he had made eggs, but only for himself. hoseok opened the freezer and was delighted to find ‘toast and eat’ waffles at his disposal.

“because,” tae retorted, “you get too much soggy cereal, and it gets gross after too long.”

“you’re gross.” said jimin.

“you’re all gross.” yoongi said from the couch, across the room. hoseok’s movement stuttered for a moment, hand poised to drop the waffle into the toaster. he did, after this moment of hesitation, and turned to face the group.

“sleep well, everyone?” he asked.

there was a dulled chorus from jimin and tae of “yes, of course” and yoongi, who added: “i’m still sleeping.”

hoseok snorted, and couldn’t properly suppress his grin.

“me too,” hoseok began, “but i had a strange dream.”

yoongi sat up a little on the couch, and tae, after a spoonful of dry cereal, asked him what it was about. hoseok made a face like he was thinking and drummed his fingers against the countertop.

“i think you were all in it,” he said, “and i was there. it was very fancy, everyone was dressed very nice. pretty blouses, and suit coats, neck scarves. very grown up.”

jimin laughed. “i can’t see taehyung in anything but his pajamas and his round glasses.”

tae gasped in mock offense.

“and i can’t see you in anything but ‘i love dogs and new york’ t-shirts.”

hoseok waved his hands, trying to redirect the situation.

“he wasn’t done,” said yoongi, and the two of them kept quiet.

“you all looked very nice, we all looked very nice. the room was also fancy, elegant, but i can’t remember why we were there. i just remember it being very bright, but hazy, you know, like when you’ve had too much to drink.”

behind him, the toaster dinged. he turned to fetch his waffles.

“that is strange. pretty, but strange.” said jimin.

“i had a dream once,” tae began. he set his spoon in the cereal bowl and leaned back, crossing his arms. “where jeongguk dropped an entire bag of flour on the bakery floor and it covered half of -- oh wait,” he sat up. “that actually happened.”

hoseok let out an incredulous noise.

“what?”

“second,” jimin said, “i heard it from your shop.”

“which is going to open very soon for morning paint class.” hoseok read the time from the stove clock. 6:06.

“when does it start?” asked jimin.

“6:15.”

“thank god you’re ready, or your ass would be running down there.” yoongi added. hoseok shot him a look and took a large bite of his waffle. he shook it in yoongi’s general direction.

“if you want to fight, hyung, we can take it outside.” he said, muffled by the waffle, and trying not to laugh. it sounded more along the lines of inaudible mumbling, but yoongi shook his fist and tried to conceal his grin.

hoseok rounded the corner between the kitchen and the front hall, sweeped himself over in a glance in the mirror and stuck both feet in his shoes. he grabbed his sweater, which had been placed on the coat rack last night, for good measure. making sure his keys and his phone were in his back pockets, he said:

“i’ll be downstairs setting up. if you need anything, just call me.”

before taking another bite of waffle, opening the door, and wriggling out and down the steps into the shop below. he took the stairs at a rapid pace, and wobbled as he landed at the bottom, skimping out on the two bottom steps entirely.

the shop downstairs was quiet as he entered the back door, out into the main hallway. jeongguk was not up yet, and tae was still upstairs, so there was no noise from the bakery or the bookshop. jeongguk would come down at about 6:45, hoseok knew, to start a fresh batch of whatever needed baking the day of, and pull out what had been made the night prior. the shop would officially open at 7:30, and  yoongi would come down at 8:00 to start delivery. jin, jimin, and namjoon would leave, usually shortly after, to other endeavors. hoseok wondered, as he unlocked the door to both the small studio room and the main art shop, if namjoon would be cooped up in the paint studio all day, with its tall windows and high ceiling. it was one of jimin’s favorite break rooms, and hoseok had used it several times to catch a moment to himself.

he wasn’t the best artist, but the room was dear to him.

hoseok walked down the quiet main hallway to the front door. already, someone was standing in front of it. there was a small layer of frost lining the windowsill and the potted plants, which he noticed had been covered; he slipped into his cardigan before opening the door. jihoon bounded in, a scarf tied around his neck, and his pant legs stuck into thick soled boots.

his mother, rhee minseo, stood just outside the door. she nodded her head politely, which hoseok returned graciously.

“would you like to come in?” he asked.

she shook her head. “thank you, but i do have somewhere to be.”

they exchanged courteous goodbyes, and hoseok shut the door behind jihoon, in a desperate attempt to keep the cold out. jihoon smiled at him, hands clasped around his sketchbook that he never seemed to part with.

hoseok smiled at jihoon who walked beside him to the open door of the art shop. jihoon was only about twelve years old, but stood to hoseok’s shoulder in height. he did little talking as they walked down the hall, but he was grinning from ear to ear as they entered.

hoseok clicked on the light and the room lit up under the white light.

“do you know what we’re doing today?” hoseok asked jihoon, who set his sketchbook on the register’s counter. hoseok took a painter’s smock from a hook beside the door. after making sure it wasn’t namjoon’s (namjoon had received a embroidered -- by yoongi -- one for his last birthday), he turned back to jihoon.

“are we working on our oil paint landscapes?” jihoon said, trying to phrase his question as an answer. hoseok laughed and nodded his head, meaning to reply, but there was another knock at the door of the bakery, and he stepped out to greet whomever was there.

jeongguk intercepted him in the hallway.

“good morning, hyung,” he said cheerfully. he hadn’t straightened his hair that morning; it was still messy from sleep. hoseok reached up to try and flatten it, and jeongguk evaded.

“good morning,” hoseok replied, stepping back to answer the door.

“good morning,” someone else told him; the voice was faint, and hoseok didn’t catch it clearly enough as he opened the door.

two young girls stood huddled outside at the door, in scarves and hats like jihoon. as hoseok met them, they rushed in, arms crossed. shivering. they exchanged smiles with hoseok and jeongguk, who had ducked behind the counter for a moment, as they passed to the art shop. two others arrived in the time that hoseok sat with jeongguk in the bakery. jeongguk had begun making a batch of dough, and last night's cookies, which had been cut and baked, sat in the display.

after taking one for himself, hoseok wandered back into the backroom to begin instruction. the five members of ‘painting with hope’ had already propped up sketchbooks on whatever they could, and as hoseok passed around paints, and sat in front of the group, he was overcome by a heavy and numb feeling. shaking his head to brush it off, he beamed.

“i’m glad you all could make it,” he said.

 

after a lengthy discussion on the proper way to highlight the individually sized, but ever present tide pools (jihoon had insisted on their importance), hoseok lead the five art club members into the bakery. jeongguk offered what was present at the time in the display case, and yoongi greeted the bunch as the entered the room. he had thrown a hoodie over a black t-shirt, which peeked out at the bottom. he waved to jeongguk, who leaned over the counter to pass him a basket and a list. the art club members began to trail out of the shop, talking amongst themselves; jihoon stayed with hoseok, however.

“these are what we have right now, yoongi-hyung,” he said. “they came in last night.”

yoongi tucked his free hand and the receipt into his jacket pocket.

“it’s so cold in here,” he said, making a disgruntled face.

hoseok looked at him, looked at the holes in his jeans, and shook his head.

“you’ve got holes in your jeans,” he said bluntly.

“of course.” yoongi opened the door with the hand holding the basket of food. “it’s the style , hoseok. get with the times.”

hoseok rolled his eyes and followed yoongi out the open door, with jihoon by his side. the two watched as yoongi unlocked his bike and gave hoseok a departing wave. jihoon sat at the outdoor table, making sure he had all his belongings with him. it was only when jihoon received a call from his mother than hoseok left, giving him a wide smile. jihoon would be back later in the day, he knew, so there was little point in worrying where he went.

hoseok found taehyung asleep at his desk as he entered the unlocked book store. he knocked on the windowed door, and tae looked up sleepily. hoseok leaned in across the threshold, holding onto the frame of the door.

“did you just get down here?” asked hoseok. tae nodded his head.

“i didn’t have much time for sleep last night,” said tae; he had looked alert over breakfast, but now, his head lolled to one side drowsily. “too busy trying to catch up in whatever new show jeongguk is watching now.”

hoseok nodded his head solemnly in understanding.

“maybe jeongguk can order you something,” he said, and taehyung laughed.

“caramel macchiato.”

hoseok’s face lit up in a wide smile. he reached to check the time on his phone, leaning off the door frame, and felt a tug on his arm. he pushed off the doorway abruptly.

tae moved to put his head down, and someone moved to check out a book.

as hoseok turned away, pivoting with the pull on his body, he met eyes with the second yoongi at the corner of the bookshop entrance.

hoseok caught his breath.

“hi,” he said, words whispering, so that tae would not hear. “i’m going to work.”

other-yoongi, dressed in his low cut blouse, fluttered his eyelashes as he looked up at hoseok.

“okay,” he said, and took hoseok’s hand.

hoseok felt his insides turn out; their fingers fell together comfortably, naturally.

“did you forget to take your medication?” asked other-yoongi.

hoseok stopped for a moment. someone brushed past them to enter the book shop.

“oh,” he said quietly. no wonder the dreamy, faded, beautiful yoongi was here beside him. other-yoongi laughed softly. it was quiet and sweet and his voice was sing-songy as he responded.

“it’s okay, maybe later.”

hoseok lead the other yoongi to the end of the hall and paused before crossing the threshold. it felt so real, yoongi beside him, as if it were the real one attached at his side.

other-yoongi drifted away as far as the length of their arms together would let him. the display of colorful paints, the light streaming in through the open window, and the stillness compared to the increasing bustle outdoors, left him enamored, mouth open in a small o shape; he murmured something under his breath, which hoseok wasn’t able to catch. his attention was too focused on yoongi, and yoongi’s awe at the quaint looking shop.

he drew his mind away as he heard the bakery door swing, and the small shop bell dingle as jeongguk set it open. there was some hushed chatter; hoseok glanced toward the clock on the wall. it’s hands pointed toward the eight and the nine.

already? he thought, and frowned. yoongi stepped close as he noticed the concentrated look on hoseok’s face.

“what is it?” he asked, absently toying with the sleeve of hoseok’s sweater.

“nothing,” hoseok looked back to other-yoongi, studied his face. there was a sharp contour to it, as he had noticed the night prior, but the aura he wore was innocent, and heavy-lidded. hoseok continued.

“i didn’t realize what time it was. i’ll have people coming in soon for sure, if i haven’t already.”

“that’s okay.” other-yoongi slipped his hand from hoseok’s, something that hoseok found immediately liberating and isolating at the same time, and drifted over to the display case. the case held a variety of namjoon’s latest pieces and some easel paintings that jihoon had been kind enough to gift hoseok. the works were pastel in neon colors, oil based, and a daunting (as namjoon had put it), but beautifully crafted watercolor. often he would find that patrons would wander first to the case, or last, but always lingered for a moment more upon seeing the work. that’s what make hoseok the proudest for namjoon and jihoon.

“did you make these?” asked yoongi. hoseok moved around to the other side of the register counter, and pulled out a set of empty sketchbooks from under the desk, to sell. he pushed the stool sitting behind the counter up to the edge, and sat, halfway between the where the register sat, and the wall that was parallel with the curved, half hook shape of it.

“no,” said hoseok, and then felt the necessity to clarify. “namjoon did.”

“right,” other-yoongi nodded his head. “of course he did. i know that.”

hoseok couldn’t help but laugh. other-yoongi turned around, but his expression melted as soon as he did.

“how cute is that?” he said. hoseok blinked, but in an instant, yoongi was gone.

hoseok swallowed, and he was overcome with the feeling that someone had suddenly stolen something from him. he knew that wasn’t true. the other, the second yoongi (the re-enforcement sounding solid and logical in his head) isn’t real .

he damn near sure feels real, though.

the chatter he had heard previously increased as several people strolled in through the open doors and into the shop. two diverted into the front rows of stationary supplies, one became attracted, as he knew best, to the art on display, and three, with what appeared to be a destination in mind, headed straight to the back rows. they seemed familiar, but none jogged hoseok’s memory.

“jung-nim!” a voice piped up. someone bent over the counter to his right, glancing into the jar of candy he had placed out (which, for two weeks, had not been emptied). hoseok leaned back, and found jihoon at his eye level.

“you’re back already?” asked hoseok, mostly out of curiosity; a smile tugged at the corners of his lips.

“my mom is going to be very late today, jung-nim.” said jihoon. “so i thought i would wait with you in here.”

hoseok nodded his head in understanding. “of course.” he motioned for jihoon to come around to the other side of the counter; after a beat of hesitation, jihoon did. hoseok slid off the stool, letting jihoon sit as he leaned on the counter, half of his body turned toward jihoon, and the other toward the doors of the shop. it was busy this time of morning.

“jung-nim,” jihoon piped up. “can i show you what else i’ve drawn?”

hoseok brightened.

“of course you can,” he said. as an afterthought, he added, “are you sure you wouldn’t like kim namjoon to come and see your work?”

“kim namjoon, nim?” jihoon frowned. he handed his sketchbook to hoseok, who began to flip through it slowly. “i don’t think he would like it.”

“why is that?” hoseok stopped on a sketch of what seemed to be jihoon’s mother. it was a profile from the front, gently outlined in graphite; the style was not realism, but left him stunned. hoseok thought it was beautiful.

“because we do not draw our noses the same way, jung-nim.”

hoseok peeked up, took a breath, tried desperately to hold back a laugh, and then snorted loudly. he dissolved into a muffled fit of laughter, with jihoon’s incredulous, but half-smiling face watching him.

“i’m sure there are other...other people,” hoseok managed, “that would like to see your new work, too.”

from his back pocket, his phone buzzed. after finishing his examination of the sketchbook --  and in each time he had the chance to look at it, it left him awestruck, he pulled his phone out to look over whatever notification he had received.

a text from the real yoongi showed at the top, followed by a news headline, a game message, and an overdue reminder to take his medication. he swiped to delete all but yoongi’s text, which he opened. jihoon tilted his head to see.

“like him?” he asked.

9:05 am

yoongs: im coming back, to pick up another order from jeongguk-ah, do you need anything?

“maybe,” hoseok replied to jihoon, albeit absentmindedly.

hoseokie: maybe some coffee; someone to take over my shift; my head is killing me and i haven’t even started the day yet

yoongs: i bet i can convince jeongguk to let you take a lunch break if there rnt that many ppl about

hoseokie: just make sure he doesn’t find out you’re still snapchatting and biking

yoongs: whtvr hoseokie

jihoon let out a gasp.

“that’s so cute.” he said.

hoseok jerked in an automatic reaction, almost sending his phone tumbling.

“jihoon-ah, stop it.”

“boyfriend material,” jihoon said affirmingly.

hoseok held back a groan. jihoon smiled sheepishly and moved to get up.

as he slid off the stood, hoseok thought he saw something flit in the corner of his eye: a mop of black. but when he looked, nothing was there. he rubbed his eyes.

“nim,” said jihoon. “you looked exhausted, i think you should take a rest or something.”

hoseok nodded along patiently, despite knowing that he couldn’t.

“i wish i could, jihoon.” he said. jihoon gave him a smile, but left him alone at the register counter to wander the aisles of the shop.

 

deliverance came in two forms: yoongi bringing him a medium coffee at 9:20 am, and yoongi stepping in to stop hoseok’s work at 1 pm for a break.

yoongi stepped into the shop with the basket for bread still in his hands. he scanned the aisles over once, and found hoseok sitting at the far side of the room, back near the clay and model figurines. hoseok’s head bobbed, as if he were falling asleep, but he caught eye of yoongi, the real yoongi, and instantly sat up. yoongi had his prescription lenses pushed all the way down his nose; hoseok noticed that as yoongi peered up and over them at him. he had also tied the hoodie he had been wearing before around his waist, leaving him nothing to do with his hands. in replacement, yoongi fiddled with a loose fiber on the weaved basket handle as he spoke.

“not sleeping on the job, are you?” he said. hoseok shook his head and sighed.

“as much as i’d like to, no.” he stretched his arms above his head and dropped them into his lap. “what about you?”

“always.”

yoongi moved to the right side of hoseok, to lean up against the wall. he pushed his glasses up onto the top of his head. hoseok glanced over into the wicker basket, trying to make out what was covered by the napkin strewn across the middle.

“did you bring me something?’ he asked yoongi. yoongi made a face, and scoffed.

“if only, hoseok.” he reached into the basket to lift the napkin, and with it, handed hoseok what looked like a soft baked scone.

hoseok accepted it with some hesitance.

“jeongguk did not let you take these.”

“he did, but they’re a day old.” yoongi took a large bite out of his own.

“they don’t taste like a day old.” hoseok said, through a mouthful of baked scone. he looked wistfully down at it; lunch was, unfortunately, the coffee and the scone yoongi had brought him. then again, he wasn’t sure if his stomach could handle much more.

“when does the art shop close?” yoongi asked him.

hoseok thought for a moment, not on purpose, but then replied:

“four, usually. sometimes three-thirty.”

yoongi nodded, and patted hoseok’s shoulder, in what was most likely empathy.

“do you want to go somewhere after?” asked yoongi.

hoseok bit the inside of his cheek as he felt a similar tug to before on his right hand.

“come on,” the second yoongi told him. “hold on, don’t say it yet.”

“hold that thought,” hoseok told the real yoongi. yoongi took another bite of his scone, took hold of hoseok’s, and made a noncommittal noise in response.

hoseok was dragged down the hall by other yoongi, be it willingly. hoseok entered the bathroom, ushered yoongi in, and shut the door behind them, pressing his back against it. his arms folded over his chest in defense. other yoongi, looking a little disheveled this time (though it suited him, it even made him look better, damn it), put his hands on hoseok’s shoulders.

“hoseok,” he said; hoseok didn’t meet his eye. “hoseokie,” he tried. eyebrows furrowed, hoseok looked at him. he made no comment, but his face felt warm with anger and arousal. yoongi put a cool hand to his cheek.

“why is he doing this?” hoseok asked other-yoongi, and other-yoongi repeated it back to him.

“why is he doing this, hoseok? is he pitying you?” it sounded almost concerned. hoseok shook his head, squished his eyes shut.

“i don’t know. i’ve just got a headache.”

yoongi’s tone immediately changed to something gentle, rather than questioning. he splayed his fingers, holding hoseok’s head with both hands. humming softly, he stood tall, reaching to kiss the space between his eyes.

“don’t worry, don’t worry over it,” said other-yoongi. “just think of this: i’m sure it will be fine if you don’t go. yoongi doesn’t really want to either.”

hoseok felt some of the tension leave the sides of his head. he let his arms fall limply to his sides. the shuffling about the shops dulled as he honed in on the sensation of yoongi’s cool hands over his face, the smoothness of his speech. the heaviness had not again settled over his bones, but the lingering sleepiness did, now a drowsy, giggly sort of sleepiness.

hoseok smiled.

“he’s so busy. he doesn’t want to go. and you don’t have to either. you can go up, take a bath, go to sleep.” yoongi said. hoseok murmured the same under his breath, liking the sound and the idea of it all.

“you can do all that. just say no.”

“just say no,” hoseok said to himself. he felt the tension slip from around his head, felt his legs go tingly with pins and needles. he opened his eyes, which dragged as he lifted his eyelids. there was a low knock on the bathroom door, and hoseok unlocked it, opening it, letting the meditative sensation was over him.

actual yoongi stood at the door, both scones in his hands.

“hoseok,’ he said. hoseok hummed in reply. yoongi passed him the scone, which he took slowly.

“are you alright?”

“yes, sorry. i felt very nauseous for a moment,” hoseok lied. other-yoongi, speaking softer and softer words of encouragement, stood behind hoseok, head resting on his shoulder. hoseok felt the fluff of his hair against the side of his face and found it soothing.

“well i’m glad you’re alright now.” yoongi said.

“he’s not.” hoseok thought he heard, the last whisper of a phrase.

“do you still want to go somewhere?” yoongi asked him. he stepped from the bathroom, leaving the other-yoongi, of whom dissolved into the stillness he felt surrounding him. he felt at ease, he felt at rest, sleepy, ready to relax into whatever the other-yoongi felt was good for him. it was nothing like what the real yoongi wanted.

action, results, attention, division of work, to go out, to sleep in, to be around, to do something at every moment of the night that he was awake. wasn’t that tiring for him?

hoseok found it tiring.

“no,” hoseok said. “i’m tired.”

yoongi seemed to comprehend, by the appearance of exhaustion still strewn across hoseok’s face, even with the amount of sleep he had gotten last night, and the way his glassy eyes tried to focus on yoongi’s, but couldn’t seem to.

“i’ll see what i can do about getting you out of here, or something,” said yoongi. he followed hosoeok back into the small shop. most of the people had left, now, but the few that remained had formed a patient line to be checked out and sent away.

hoseok moved to begin to ring up the line of customers, tapping away at the keys at the cash. he exchanged a polite nod with them equally, eyes still fixed downward, away from their faces. he didn’t notice yoongi leave, but found later that his scone had been neatly wrapped in tissue and set aside. as his shift ended early, he ate it ravenously, but found that it tasted bland. he swallowed forcibly. hoseok left the door to the studio (he could see the silhouette of namjoon in the afternoon light; he rapped on the window, and waved to say hi), and the shop open. as he began up the stairs to the apartment, a dialogue began to form in his head.

yoongi , he first thought to himself, do i love him?

yes, of course i love him , came the second.

yes of course, but which one? asked the first, and repeated:

which one, which one, which one? until he found himself at the front door.

he unlocked it. he would have to choose one.

Chapter Text

 

the incidents, visits, from the second yoongi became more frequent as one, and later two, weeks passed. hoseok had welcomed it. his medication, in its neat plastic cubes, had remained untouched for those weeks now. instead, hoseok entertained the thought that he could continue seeing the second yoongi in private, keep dividing his time.

hoseok awoke to the patter of rain against the window. the room was hazy with dim, dusk light. he rolled over on his side, facing the middle of the room. in a dazed sleep, he could almost feel the tangible urge to fall back into it, weighing him down, making every effort to keep his eyes open a dubious task. the mattress bowed slightly at the foot of the bed. hoseok strained to look over without lifting his head. he stretched his muscles, curling out and then in again on himself. there was a small, but wispy laugh.

“good evening,” said yoongi.

“good evening,” hoseok repeated, slurred.

“i thought i would wake you up.” yoongi moved over to the side of the bed, crouching down beside it. his face was soft, and like hoseok, his eyes were heavy and sleepy. he brushed the hair away from hoseok’s face, studying him in the light.

“it’s late, but i thought we could do something. the other one sleeps so much that i guess he can’t even do that.” he gave a small shake of his head.

“it’s okay,” hoseok tried again, but his words stuck together, taped to one another. he swallowed thickly, but gave up speaking for a moment. he let the other yoongi do the talking, and tuned in on his mellow words.

“you can go back to sleep if you want. but you should probably get up,” yoongi told him, “it would probably do you a little good.

“take a bath, eat something, everything good for you.”

hoseok smiled, thinking on how wonderful the prospect of other yoongi’s ideas seemed. other yoongi, without a beat of hesitation, leaned forward to kiss him on the mouth, through his smile. hoseok moved to kiss him back, energy lifting his spirits, dragged him in. was this what is was really like? would he get to do this for real?

but this is for real , his head whispered.

yoongi pulled back away from him. the look he fixed hoseok with felt very true to what would be real, if this was real, if this was the real yoongi.

but this is for real ; but it wasn’t the real yoongi; but it didn’t matter .

“you can’t do that,” hoseok murmured, face falling again.

“why not?” asked other-yoongi.

“because i love him.” hoseok watched yoongi coolly, as he toyed with the scarf around his neck. “the other him.”

“well, obviously, that’s why i’m here.”

“and he loves me.” hoseok’s voice dipped with uncertainty, but he didn’t shift his bluff. yoongi smiled, but it couldn’t reach his eyes.

“oh?” yoongi said, bemused. “how do you know?”

“because he keeps asking me if i’m alright, and coming to talk with me, and bringing over food on my break. making sure i’ve done what i need to. checks up on me.” hoseok rolled onto his back, and sighed, putting his hands over his face.

“i want him to say something, even if he doesn’t mean it. i feel awful, i feel bad that i haven’t said anything to him.”

“don’t,” other-yoongi said a-matter-of-factly. he stood from where he was crouched beside the bed. hoseok sat up.

“why?” asked hoseok. “because i have you?”

“because he’s faking it.”

“why do you say that?” other-yoongi crossed his arms over his torso, an action that made him appear slightly smaller than he was, at least from where hoseok was sitting.

“because i am him,” he said. “i would know.”

hoseok’s eyebrows drew together.

“you’re not him.”

yoongi stood quiet for a moment, with an equally strained look on his face. he seemed to comprehend, if only slightly, what hoseok had said. he placed a hand under hoseok’s chin and brought his face up to meet his eye. hoseok stopped breathing, awestruck.

“are you gonna come wash the look off your face, or am i going to have to do it for you?” said the other yoongi. he slipped his hand away, and drifted close to the door to the bathroom, waiting. hoseok shuffled out from under the covers, and ducked his head.

“i’ll be there,” he said, rubbing at his eyes. he let them adjust to the room, and then followed yoongi into the bathroom tiredly. there, he took a long, exhausted look in the mirror, and turned on the faucet. his vision blurred slightly, and yoongi rested both arms against the counter, leaning there. his mood seemed to improve as he continued talking.

"say," other yoongi piped up. "you don't call me much, do you, hoseokie?"

hoseok frowned. "what do you mean?"

yoongi frowned a little, mouth turning in a small n shape; he toyed with the stopper of the faucet for a moment before he looked up through his lashes.

"you don't call me by my name."

hoseok stopped studying his face in the mirror to glance down at yoongi. calling him yoongi would verify his replacement for the real yoongi. he wasn't a replacement. an addition. a side spot. another one. a better one.

hoseok diverted the question into another.

"would you like me to call you something?" he asked. other yoongi seemed to brighten slightly.

"yes," he said. "i would like that."

hoseok begun to run the water, washing the wear of sleep from his face.

"darling, honey, sugar?" he tried, aiming, unintentionally, for the softest generic nicknames he could find.

"suga? sugar?" other yoongi questioned, obviously not hearing hoseok correctly. but hoseok laughed.

"suga?" he asked in turn, to which other yoongi seemed to nod in thought. hoseok nodded as well; it had a ring to it that he was unable to place nor deny. something that was distinguishable.

he mulled over this as he patted his face dry with the towel hanging next to the sink. he tried to focus in the mirror, wondering if it was the sleep in his vision, the dark, or his vision itself that made it so hard to make out the features of other yoongi-- suga’s face, beside him. the two of them appeared gaunt in the light of the l.e.d night light that lit up the sink and mirror. it set hoseok on edge.

he turned away from the mirror, padding out of the bathroom, still in the sweatpants he had woken up in, hair mussed with sleep. suga trailed behind him, ever so often catching his hand, as hoseok picked his phone from the bedside table, and opened the door to the bedroom to step out into the living space.

yoongi clung to several fingers on his left hand like a vice as they stepped out. the room, unsurprisingly, was empty, but the tv ran in the background, flashing bright colors against the wall, as a late-late night program ran on a low volume. as hoseok blinked to see the room more clearly, he saw yoongi tucked in the armchair, pretzeled in on himself in a way that should be impossible. hoseok lingered in the center of the room for a moment, leaning to catch what was on tv.

maybe he could go back to the bedroom, evade the real yoongi all together, not be asked questions. yoongi, the past two weeks, had been asking a lot of questions, hoseok agreed with himself. adamantly asking how hoseok was doing, what could be bothering, always doing something, always about no matter what time of day it was. now it was almost 10pm, and yoongi was still. it was something hoseok found reassuring; his ability to speak aloud to the other (and now sounding preferable) yoongi, without interference.

but even standing in the middle of the living room was risky.

as hoseok crept into the kitchen, he heard yoongi shift in the armchair.

“hoseok?” he asked.

hoseok turned to the sound of his voice; even with the guilt crawling up his throat, something panged in his heart at the solidness of real yoongi’s words.

“yeah,” he said, “it’s me. where is everyone?”

yoongi thought for a moment.

“namjoon and jin-hyung are downstairs, but i think tae, jeongguk, and jimin went out for a walk.”

hoseok bobbed his head, understanding.

“what are you doing up?” asked yoongi turning down the television, “it’s almost 10.”

hoseok moved back, away from the kitchen, and closer into the living area; other yoongi followed, grip strong on his arm.

“i could say the same thing to you.” hoseok replied.

“late night television is funnier than daytime television.” yoongi said, and stretched his arms out in front of him. hoseok crossed his, and snorted.

“i didn’t take you as a comedy person, hyung.”

“blame jiminie,” was yoongi’s reply, to which suga whispered behind him:

“did you see? he didn’t use anything for your name, did he?”

hoseok bit the inside of his cheek, and tried not to think about how right suga was as he leaned farther into the room to watch the television program with yoongi. he did not, however, sit down. something held him grounded; he assumed it was suga. he studied real yoongi’s profile for a moment, feeling his stomach twist. consumed by a sudden, new feeling of his admiration, he spoke:

“hyung, there’s something i need to tell you.”

yoongi cocked his head to one side attentively.

“sure, what is it?”

for a moment, hoseok forgot where he was. the room dipped, out of reality it seemed, to where it was all at once very familiar, yet unrecognizable. hoseok pressed his hands against his forehead, trying to stop it from spinning, and could feel the weight of suga trying to hold him down.

the room shifted, and adjusted again.

his nose began to itch as he stood in the middle of the living space, eyes glazed over, turning himself again and again to try to make some sense of what he was seeing: nothing, that was. the colors of the room seemed to dull and blur together, so that the doubled form of yoongi seemed to smudge messily in front of his eyes. hoseok stopped, slack jawed, and brought a hand up to scratch at his nose, but it was slick, and damp. when he drew back, a pool of red swam in the colors of his misshapen hands.

he felt the warm blood dribble down his chin and his stomach churned.

really, he wanted to scream, but found he couldn't push the sound out of him. vision focusing enough to make out the real yoongi on the couch, he turned again.

"uh..." he tried. the sound was guttural and forced.

yoongi's eyes darted over for a moment, focused back on the tv. after a beat of recognition, he turned his whole head, choking on air as he noticed the blood on hoseok's hands.

"my god, hoseok," he sputtered. yoongi fumbled as he pushed off from the couch, hands outspread. he took hold of hoseok's wrist, pulling his hand close to see the red that decorated his palm. hoseok touched the side of his nose gingerly. his head was spinning, he couldn't concentrate on what yoongi was saying to him, or what yoongi looked like. but he felt the presence of them both; he felt safe.

"hoom lang h'oou benading her?" garbled the first yoongi. the second yoongi, from directly beside hoseok's ear, laughed.

hoseok blinked.

"what?" he croaked.

yoongi's eyebrows were drawn in worry. his eyes darted across hoseok's face, not meeting his gaze directly; they were confused, uncertain.

"how long? the blood?" yoongi tried to clarify. hoseok gave a weak shrug of his shoulders, huffing out what he thought sounded like "i don't know".

yoongi took a napkin from the kitchen table, and began to dab at the blood already on hoseok’s face.

“try to keep leaned forward.”

hoseok nodded dully, unable to comprehend what was going on around him. he stood limp in the middle of the room, held aloft only by the sheer will of real yoongi's deliberate movement, and then suga, seeming to pull at every corner of him, holding him out like a sheet looking to dry. as yoongi wiped the blood from his face, he became overwhelmed with the stretching sensation within his stomach and chest, pulling his insides out of him.

he took a rasped breath in through his teeth, and felt his eyes water.

tears tracked down both sides of his face, but his expression did not change, save for the pull of his eyebrows toward themselves. he felt detached, cold, helplessly sad.

"holy fuck," said yoongi out of surprise. the other yoongi gave a judgmental noise.

"god, hoseok, what happened? what's wrong?"

hoseok breathed in, but it caught in his throat. his voice cracked and grew soft as he spoke.

"i don't know."

"oh my god."

“does he ever stop?” suga hissed.

"stop saying that," hoseok said, the bitter words more directed toward suga, but he still winced.

"please?" he tried to add. he reached up to wipe the tears and blood off his face, but yoongi beat him to it, using a clean tissue. hoseok's eyes were still fixated on a spot of space behind yoongi, as he couldn't seem to focus on yoongi with all the moving he was doing. did he have to move so much?

yoongi pulled down at the side of hoseok's cheek, looking into his left eye. he made a worried sound.

"oh-- what have you been doing? you're all bloodshot and glassy...i don't..."

"don't know what to do?" suga finished in a hushed voice.

"it's okay," said hoseok. "i don't know either."

"you don't know?" yoongi's voice sounded strained, almost annoyed. hoseok felt the tears bubble over and fall down his face, but couldn't shut his eyes. he didn't have the strength to. his insides felt mauled and empty with anger and contempt and sadness.

"it's okay," said suga. "he's being so rude, i know." he took hold of hoseok's hand, the one not curled in on itself, holding the wadded paper towels together.

"get off me," hoseok muttered, voice rasping out at the last second. yoongi drew back, surprised. suga let go of his hand.

hoseok almost felt the real yoongi slip away from him, both in reality, and within whatever standing they had been on prior. friends, acquaintances, lovers.
"i'm sorry." hoseok said. he wasn't sure if it actually came out. it didn't matter anymore to him.

"what's gotten into you, hoseok?" said yoongi. hoseok supposed it was meant to sound concerned, but yoongi's voice sounded acrid. he noticed the lack of the sugary nickname once again. his feeling of disappointment compounded upon itself. the sound of the tv faded back into existence, and instead of on the yoongi’s he tried to focus his attention to the voice from it, despite the headache beginning to beat behind his eyes. after folding up the napkin, yoongi looked up at hoseok; he was searching for something in his eyes, but hoseok only saw the disappointment in yoongi’s.

“i’m done,” he said.

he moved around hoseok into the kitchen, caught the edge of hoseok’s shirt to tell him to follow, tossed the used napkin into the trash. hoseok leaned slightly, but he didn’t budge. suga skirted over to the edge of the table and sat himself upon it proudly.

“i think he knows,” he said, watching yoongi take a glass from the cabinet and fill it with water from the tap. hoseok frowned in confusion.

“he knows you’re not taking your medication. he’s gonna say something.” suga mimed the slicing of his own throat when hoseok gave him a blank stare.

“what are you going to do about it?” he said.

yoongi turned his head over his shoulder to speak to him.

“you should eat something.”

“why?” asked hoseok.

“because i care about you? and because you look like shit, that’s why.” yoongi set the glass on the kitchen table and pushed it toward hoseok.

“i’m not hungry.” mumbled hoseok in reply.

“doesn’t matter.” opening the pantry door, yoongi dug through a few glass jars of spice, and took out a package of half eaten chips. the bag was sealed with a large clip, clamping the corners together. he unclasped it.

“says you,” hoseok rebutted, “the person who never eats, ever.”

yoongi twisted his face in a look of disgust, and scoffed loudly.

“oh, come off it. you haven’t eaten in almost a full day, i haven’t seen you come out of your room at all.” he set the chip bag forcibly on the table, hand stuck halfway in it as he filled a small bowl. “you keep working and working and working, on god knows what. you’re worse than i am.”

finally, after collecting enough wasabi ginger chips to create a small mountain in the bowl, yoongi shut his mouth, at which point hoseok was given the chance to speak clearly. his voice strained as his vision, once more, began to slip out of its normal pattern. it was beginning to scare him, but he wasn’t about to let the real yoongi see that in his speech or his eyes.

“worse than you are?” hoseok spat. he took a long look at yoongi, who, despite holding a bowl of chips in both hands, was rigid with anger. hoseok heard his heart hammer in his ears.

“yeah,” said yoongi, quietly. hoseok felt a wave of disappointment flood his stomach. he hadn’t meant to shout, he hadn’t meant to say anything. the look strewn across suga’s face sealed the deal: a smile, devilishly handsome, proud.

“i’m just worried about you, hoseok.” yoongi turned to go back into the living room, where he sat on the couch. “we have a long day tomorrow.”

hoseok felt empty and heavy, but he picked up the glass of water off the table, holding the rim of it. he turned methodically, thinking over every movement he made, how the headache behind his eyes seemed to compound with every trudging footstep he took toward the bedroom door.

he did not turn around to look at the real min yoongi; but he felt the other min yoongi slip an arm over his shoulder, and his eyes began to water again. he opened the door to the bedroom once more, and stepped in.

“wait,” he heard yoongi say to him. “wait, hoseok, i--”

suga shut the door behind them.

“he was going to say i love you,” said hoseok, voice dull and apathetic.

“no, he wan’t.”

hoseok ran his hands through his hair, leaning back on the door. he let out a frustrated sigh. suga began to pace the room feverently, mumbling, head lowered; hoseok tracked him with his eyes, but after several minutes, it made him dizzy. he addressed suga aloud.

“what are you doing?” he said.

“trying to think of how to fix this. you’ve gone and screwed it all up.” he snorted, waving one hand about. hoseok’s face twisted, but his voice stayed level, if not confused.

“what are you talking about?”

“don’t be daft.” suga rolled his eyes and turned to face him, arms folded, leaning his weight to one side. the posture was defiant, haughty. hoseok instinctively curled in on himself.

“i finally got him to back off from you, and your beat of hesitation, you showed him it wasn’t real. i’ve been trying for so long.

“he doesn’t love you, hoseok, he never will.”

hoseok opened his mouth to say something smart, but upon doing so, promptly shut it. his head felt clouded, and the claims and statements he wanted to make became muddled. hugging his arms around his stomach, hoseok skirted around suga, who turned on his heel, watching him as he went. hoseok found that switching on the bathroom light did not bring the comfort it had before; not with the gloom outside that was once soothing, and suga pitching his words around, that were once solace to hoseok’s ears. now they were rough around the edges.

however, hoseok still felt drawn to them.

hoseok did not glance up into the mirror as he walked past to the bathtub. he didn’t want to see the dried blood on his nose, and the red rings around his eyes. but he didn’t want to fix it either. it was too late for that. he knelt down, turned on the bath, cold water running over the back of his hand. he heard the heat kick on for a brief second; the water began to warm gradually.

“what are you doing?” suga said. he was standing in the doorway, weight still thrown askew. he seemed calmer now, but that did nothing to ease hoseok’s mind.

“running a bath,” he told him plaintively.

“you going to bathe in your clothes?” suga asked, sharply, rhetorically. he pushed off from the doorframe, moving toward the mirror. there, he admired his handsome reflection in the mirror, combing his fingers through his hair.

“and if i do?” hoseok shook his hand as he took it from under the faucet.

suga gave a shrug of his shoulders, not really listening.

hoseok tested the water once more, finding it suitable, and shut off the tap. he moved to step into the bath, fully clothed, his bare foot hovering over the water’s surface, but suga appeared next to him, hand coiled around his wrist.

“what are you doing?” he asked hoseok. “you can’t really expect to bathe with your clothes on.”

hoseok wriggled free of his grip.

“it’s none of your business what i do,” he said. with that, suga grabbed at him, stuffing both hands up under his shirt. the heel of his hand hit hoseok hard under his ribs. he made a sharp noise in response, surprised, and suga took the opportunity to get a firm hold of the shirt end. he wrestled with hoseok, whose arms remained stuck in the arm holes, but the shirt now coiled around the top of his ribs.

“get off of me!” hoseok pushed forward, and suga stumbled back freely; hoseok doubled over, winded. suga fixed the collar of his shirt, face tight with an expression of malice.

“fine,” he said, “i didn’t want to see you anyway. disgusting.”

hoseok stood tall once again, but the image of yoongi, backed into a corner on his own accord, continued to chatter away.

“why do you keep lying to yourself?” he said.

“i’m not lying to anyone.”

he paced over to the mirror, where he braced both hands on the counter. his head was beginning to swim again.

“you keep telling yourself that he loves you. you think i don’t hear that? i’m him, i’m you,” suga walked back over to the edge of the counter. he tilted his head to one side mockingly, wavering close to the side of hoseok’s face.

“you’re nothing to him.”

“don’t say that,” hoseok mumbled, breath hitching.

“i can say whatever i like, you know that.” hoseok watched him, both out of the corner of his eye and in the mirror, seeing the devilish smile play on his face, fingers tracing circles in the back of hoseok’s hand. hoseok felt bile rise in his throat.

“you don’t deserve him, you don’t deserve to be around him, hoseokie.” hoseok shook his head, clamping his eyes shut.

“you don’t deserve him, he doesn’t want to be with you. you’re lucky, that out of pity, i’m here.” suga’s hand twisted around his wrist, squeezing it in his grip. “and you’re just going to keep isolating yourself as everyone leaves you. and then you’ll have nothing left but me.”

hoseok opened his eyes, only to meet the false yoongi looking back at him in the mirror. he tore his gaze away, and his vision settled on the half empty bottle of medication. his anti-depressive medication.

he reached for it as suga looked away for a moment; pressing the cap down on the countertop, he was able to twist the safety lid from the bottle, and pour the medication out onto the counter. he didn’t waste time counting, but instead scooped up the fullest hand he could, and looked back to the demon in the mirror.

“and what then?” hoseok said.

suga moved around to the back of him; he curled his hands around hoseok’s neck, wrapping around the bottom of his chin, the side of his face. hoseok instinctively leaned into them, but then was pulled sharply, forcing his head to meet suga’s eye. stars blotted in his vision; his breath wheezed.

“then maybe you’ll see how worthless you are.” suga snapped. he flashed a toothy, mocking grin.

it was almost charming, hoseok thought, but then he was overcome by the stabbing pain in his head, eyes swimming in and out of focus, and hoseok agreed with himself that the prospect of what he was about to do would not be much worse than the situation at hand.

at least he would get rid of the splitting migraine.

hoseok brought his hand up to his mouth, searching with the other for the glass of water the real yoongi had poured him. other-yoongi caught him just short, but half of the pills hand already reached his lips. the other few fell to the floor, rattling as they did. suga shoved at him in rage, hoseok fell back against the counter and swallowed, hard.

 

barely able to register the muted voice of suga, hoseok leaned, rocking against the counter. he didn’t remember how long it had been; thirty minutes, an hour. but the light from the bathroom was beginning to make his eyes sting, and the pill bottle in his hand was empty. yoongi’s voice came quickly back into his reality, but as it started, it ended, huffy, and short. moreso that he felt the burning sensation hit his throat, he began to cough raggedly. but as soon as he did, hoseok felt a sharp pain in his abdomen. he looked down to see a small stain of blood, rapidly spreading across his stomach. his mouth was held agape; blood dribbled down his lips. his fingers slotted around where the sharp object once was, and saw it glitter in suga’s hand as he waved it back and forth.

“i hope you fucking die,” the other-yoongi said.

hoseok decided he did not want to listen to him anymore.

with a lurch, he punched his hand through the image of yoongi, who, along with the knife, split, and slipped out of reality. the pain in his head, in his throat, and now in his stomach, did not. the smell of blood still lingered as hoseok stumbled from the bathroom. his hands were caught around his side, holding the invisible wound shut. he felt his body grow dense and solid, as his head grew increasingly dizzy. he yanked open the door to the living space, the bottle of medication still in his hand.

shuffling into the room, he fell onto the support beam that separated the foyer from the kitchen. it knocked loudly, startling the real yoongi out of a tv-induced daze. he saw hoseok, who gagged and doubled over, and stifled a cry.

“hoseok,” he managed, and just barely. hoseok squinted his eyes shut, not sure of where he had ended up; just that his mind was beginning to rail off track, thoughts melding together messily as he tried to speak. yoongi rushed forward, bumping into the table, pushing his way forward.

“had to get rid of him,” hoseok slurred.

yoongi tried to pull hoseok into a standing position, but fell with him, as hoseok sat against the banister. his arms waved clumsily as he tried again to speak.

“‘dunno what i did, i had...”

yoongi cupped hoseok’s face in his hands. he pulled his cheeks, watching his lazy, glassy eyes. he took hoseok’s hand, and found the empty bottle.

his face drained of color.

fishing the phone out of his pocket, and out of the pocket of hoseok’s sweatpants, he unlocked them both. on his own, he began to dial, as he pulled the medical information. on hoseok’s phone, off of the phone’s imbedded health app.

yoongi pressed the phone against his ear, sitting cross legged in front of hoseok, hoseok’s phone balanced on his knee, he held tightly to hoseok’s hand, rubbing the space between his thumb and first finger. he could hear hoseok mumbling to himself quietly, hiccuping, but did not understand him. anxiety washed over him as the line picked up.

“this is 911, what is your emergency?”

“yes,” yoongi croaked, “it’s my friend, god, he’s just overdosed.”

Chapter Text

despite the fear boiling in his stomach, yoongi breathed, trying to keep his anxiety quelled and his composure maintained as he sat in front of hoseok. hoseok’s eyelids fluttered, head bobbing with the lethargy that had just begun to wash over him. yoongi held hoseok’s face in one hand; his eyebrows were drawn together, he sniffed, hiccuped, tried to convince yoongi that he was okay in broken speech. the confusion had become more erratic as a total of ten minutes passed. yoongi, in desperation, was trying everything in his power to keep hoseok from blacking out.

there was a sharp rap on the door. with a jolt, yoongi rose, letting hoseok’s head rest against the bannister. he rushed forward to the door, and threw it open.

he moved back into the kitchen and dropped down to hoseok’s level.

“hoseok, hoseok listen to me,” he took hoseok’s phone and his own, shoving them into his pants pocket. hoseok nodded, lolling his head. yoongi put his arms under hoseok’s, pulling him forward and up.

“we’re going downstairs, okay, we have to go to the hospital...”

“‘kay,” hoseok mumbled, holding onto yoongi. his balance and coordination were now shot, at best, and yoongi was practically hoisting him up, rather than supporting him. they shuffled forward, toward the door, where yoongi took his keys and his sweater. after pulling them into the hall and shutting the door, yoongi took careful steps, letting hoseok feel his way down the steps blindly, bumbling and tottering forward. they reached the landing with no further injury, but hoseok was beginning to lose consciousness. he swayed on the tops of his feet as yoongi stepped back to open the door. he opened it as the paramedics were exiting the ambulance, faces set with an authoritative demeanor. he met them at the curb.

the two took hoseok from yoongi, assuring the former that everything was going to be fine, lifting him onto the stretcher. one lagged behind to ask yoongi a handful of questions.

“how long has be been like this?” asked the paramedic, stopping yoongi as he stepped forward.

“about ten minutes,” yoongi stuttered, fishing hoseok’s phone from his pocket.

“what happened to him?”

“he’s overdosed on his medication,” he searched for the bottle in the pockets of his jacket. “i don’t think he’s taken it in weeks, it’s anti-depressants, i...” yoongi pushed his hair back, shaking. the paramedic took the bottle from him. beginning to read the information on both the bottle and the phone, yoongi watched the paramedic work. the sight of the ambulance alone made yoongi’s blood go cold.

as they began to lift hoseok into the ambulance, hoseok reached out to take yoongi’s hand, and yoongi did the same, but the paramedic stopped him as they began to shut the doors. yoongi stood with one foot braced on the step of the ambulance, and one on the concrete of the curb.

unintelligibly, hoseok protested, stretching toward yoongi.

“please,” yoongi said, “i’m the only one he has in seoul.”

the paramedic let him through, into the back of the ambulance, but corralled him toward a bench on the far side. hoseok, as yoongi sat down next to him, grappled with his hand. he latched to three of his fingers, and his wrist, with both of his hands. hoseok began to mumble, over and over, the same sounds, unfocused eyes looking over yoongi’s shoulder. they were watery and scared.

around him, the paramedics began to set up breathing tubes, the iv, checking his eyes, his pulse, his blood pressure; nothing looked good to yoongi. as much as he could with the breathing mask over hoseok’s face, yoongi brushed his hand across hoseok’s forehead, down his cheek.

“it’s okay, it’s okay,” yoongi said; his voice cracked. “it’s going to be okay.”

hoseok nodded, dull, eyes shutting, opening.

“i love you, okay? i love you so much hoseok...”

“yoongi...” hoseok said, but his eyelids fluttered closed, as the medication pulled him under. unphased, but with a grimace, the paramedic lifted hoseok’s head to elevate it, and said something to the other emt that yoongi did not fully catch.

hoseok’s hand fell limp in yoongi’s, and yoongi couldn’t stifle the cry of exhaustion that pulled from his lungs. he nodded his head tiredly as the paramedic to his right asked him if he was okay. he pressed his lips together; he felt empty.

yoongi sniffled in and rubbed at his eyes. his hand still held to hoseok’s wrist, under which the pulse beat weakly. yoongi didn’t know if he was feeling his own or hoseok’s; both scared him.

he rocked with the movement of the ambulance.

when they reached the hospital, yoongi tried to follow hoseok into the hall, to his room, where two doctors pushed him down to. the commotion built around yoongi, but it went into one ear and out the other. his heart beat in his ears. the two paramedics held him back.

they didn’t let yoongi through.

 

yoongi was pulled up in on himself in the boxy waiting room chair; it was 1:05 am, and exhaustion had grabbed him quickly and effortlessly as hoseok was ushered away, leaving him standing in the emergency room hall. he had his arms folded across his chest and his legs crossed upon each other, and his head bobbed weakly. one slip-on shoe clung dedicatedly to his foot, the other long since fallen underneath the chair.

seokjin entered the emergency room waiting area, all the bustle draining out of it, carrying two cups of black coffee and a microwaved danish on a napkin. his jacket was draped over yoongi’s legs, where he had put it an hour and a half ago when yoongi fell asleep. yoongi had called everyone he knew, but jimin and seokjin were the only ones up. seokjin took it upon himself to come to yoongi’s aid, with jimin’s promise to come later; the flowers, seokjin thought, would not wilt in a day.

he stopped in front of yoongi and set his own coffee on the side table, upon a stack of magazines which showcased a recently debuted boy group, kim7. jeongguk’s new favorite.

“yoongi,” he said. “yoongi-ah.”

yoongi mumbled something incoherently, and opened one bleary eye. he looked up at seokjin, squinted, and placed his thoughts together. as they clicked, he sat up quickly. seokjin shook his head and held out the coffee and danish. yoongi accepted them, mumbling his thank you.

“nothing yet?” yoongi asked.

another shake of jin’s head. “not yet. but it’s good that you slept a little while.”

jin took up a magazine and his coffee from the table; he sat to the right of yoongi.

yoongi sighed and sipped his coffee.

“thank you for being here, hyung.”

seokjin smiled softly.

“you’re lucky you’ve got me,” he said, “you could have gotten namjoon instead.”

yoongi huffed in amusement, making a grimace that turned into a smile. of all the people that picked up their cellphone, he was glad that it had been seokjin. his hyung was levelheaded and calm in crisis, compared to any other time. it was something that yoongi desperately needed, as the anxiety began to chew at his insides. he took a bite of the danish, regardless, as he set his coffee aside. startled by how hot it was, he almost dropped it.

“you didn’t tell me it was hot,” he said, pointedly.

“close your mouth while you’re eating.”

“right.” yoongi said. his voice came back garbled and it struck him as odd. jin did not look up from his magazine, but held out his hand against the armrest of the chair. yoongi took it and focused on that sensation.

part of him wondered to himself why he found the act of handholding to instantly consoling, so comforting, but pushed the thought out of his head. right now, his anxiety had made him famished,

seokjin began to read him part of the article as he ate.

“did you know..” he began. yoongi mumbled that he didn’t in the space of seokjin’s pause; seokjin reached out and hit him in the back of his head with the magazine.

“did you know that the group four by four debuted early this year and they already have a sold-out concert in japan?”

“is that the one jeongguk listens to?”

seokjin frowned. “no, i think that’s kim7.”

“what about BEATS?”

“that one too,” seokjin turned the page of the magazine, folding it under the other. “you would like the secondary rapper, lilly. she’s nothing like you.”

yoongi finished eating and crinkled the napkin in his hand.

“i believe it.” he said. yoongi pulled the phone from his pocket and opened the message thread of the group chat. the time was 1:32 am; other than jin’s ‘on my way’ text, there were no new messages. there were several notifications from his snapchat, however, and one from the cat collecting game he had gotten fairly good at. he opened his snapchat and saw that the messages were from jinin and one of his friends from his deliveries for the bakery.

he opened the message; it was a picture of some flowers, sent the night prior. jimin’s, on the other hand, was a chat from 12:53 pm, and read:

chim: i’m on my way soon, please hang tight hyung <33

yoongi wavered, wanting to reply to the message, but locked the phone and sighed, exhausted. he let it drop into his lap.

jin looked up.

“what’s the matter?” he asked. yoongi’s face flushed with color, but he felt the back of his throat began to burn.

“nothing,” he said, and sniffled. he looked down and away from jin, wiping at his face. he hung his head, and tried to stifle his coughing with the back of his hand.
“i’m sorry,” he managed.

“it’s okay,” jin told him. he leaned over the side of the chair, pulling yoongi over. he held fast to yoongi’s hand; yoongi collapsed onto his shoulder eyes squinched shut. he look in a ragged breath and fought to speak.

“what’s going to happen to him?” he cried. seokjin tried to quell his shaking shoulders. he rest his head against yoongi’s.

“he’s going to be okay,” said jin.

“he didn’t even understand when i tried to tell him i...” yoongi shuddered, and fell quiet.

there was a small amount of commotion added to the few voices around them, down the hall; though as seokjin looked up, it was only a handful of nurses. but he saw jimin follow behind them, looking rushed, still half in his pajamas. his hair was tousled, and it looked as if he only had time to throw whatever he could in his messenger bag, slung across one shoulder.

he saw jin, who smiled gently, and moved forward. he took a pause in front of them, smiling (one that reached his eyes) at jin in greeting, and setting his bag down. he tugged the mask he was wearing down to his chin.

“yoongi-hyung?”

yoongi looked up, eyes watery and ringed with red. a look of relief flooded his face, and he reached up toward jimin. jimin pulled him into a hug, arms wrapped around him. yoongi clung to him, buried against his shoulder.

what happened? jimin mouthed to seokjin. if yoongi was greeting everyone he knew like this, it must have been devastating.

hoseok , seokjin replied. jimin’s eyes went wide before he quickly shut them. all at once, he felt the twist of yoongi’s anxiety, he felt his own fear, and he felt the composed-but-worrisome nausea of seokjin flood his senses. he pressed his cheek against the side of yoongi’s head.

“it’s okay,” he said. “it’s going to be okay.”

for a moment, yoongi breathed, letting himself be overcome by his emotions. jimin was right, it was going to be okay, but yoongi wasn’t sure if it was going to be okay for both hoseok and himself.

he wasn’t sure if it was possible.

Chapter Text

yoongi was asleep again. sitting in the chair in front of seokjin and yoongi, jimin had propped his feet on yoongi’s chair, and seokjin was on his third cup of black coffee. jimin’s head bopped to quiet music. how yoongi had fallen asleep again thirty minutes after jimin had arrived, none of them knew, but jimin entertained himself with the thought that seokjin’s conversation about the magazine he was reading was just boring enough to tip him over the edge. jimin had popped in earbuds to ignore him, and had been successful. he watched yoongi’s head drift to one side, pick up, and continue again. it made him want to sleep himself. instead of sleeping, seokjin had resorted to coffee; jimin wasn’t sure what improvement it made to his activity, but jin had become more alert in the last ten minutes than he had in the two hours jimin had been there.

it was this internal humor that jimin, unlike yoongi (who had been sleeping off his), sloughed his anxiety off with. 3:45 am; yet, still no word about hoseok.

“min yoongi?” someone called. seokjin picked up his head. he met the expression of a nurse, of whom clutched a pad of paper in her hands. Her voice was muffled, but she saw him, and walked over.

“min yoongi-ssi?” she asked. seokjin shook his head and pointed to yoongi. he put a hand to yoongi’s shoulder and rocked to wake him.

yoongi brought his head up, blinking tiredly.

“min-ssi?” she said again; at the tone of her voice, yoongi became alert. “you’re the contact for jung hoseok-ssi?--”

“how is he?” yoongi said quickly, cutting her off accidentally. he noticed, dipped his head, and sunk back apologetically.

“they had to pump his stomach to rid most of the drug, but he’s on IV now. there’s not much else they can do. he’s stable.”

yoongi spoke again, now breathless and euphoric.

“what? is he okay? can i see him?”

“he’s sleeping now, min-ssi, but yes.”

yoongi scrambled up, and jimin watched him with curiosity as he left.

yoongi followed the nurse. feeling his stomach twist in on itself as it did, the jitter settling into his body. he had been wiped of sleep; the sound of his shoes filled the gap where his thoughts ended and the chatter and the hallway began.

as the hallway curved abruptly, the nurse paused, and turned to face yoongi. she pulled the mask down off the bridge of her nose to speak.

“he is sleeping min-ssi.” she said, voice in a low whisper. she held her hand to one side of her face, as if she was speaking a grand secret only he was supposed to know. yoongi, already aware, nodded, but the anxiety did not lessen its grip on his insides.

“i still get to see him?” he said back. voice equally as quiet. she nodded with him.

“yes, min-ssi. for now.”

she turned back and walked a short distance down the hall. stopping in front of a windowed door, she pushed open the door. it clicked as the handle turned, and yoongi stepped into the room behind her.

all of the tension and nervousness left his muscles at once.

hoseok lay flat on the hospital cot, propped only by a handful of pillows that crowned around his head. his face, with a concentrated expression, was pale, but the color had begun to return to his cheeks; the monitor beeped steadily, and the iv hooked to the arm that was not slung over his stomach, kept in stable.

he looked small, and soft, and fragile.

yoongi took in a shaky breath.

“the rest of your family can see him when he wakes,” said the nurse. “but i’ll leave you be, min-ssi.”

“thank you,” yoongi managed. he sat in the chair opposite to the bed, pulling it to the beside as the nurse shut the door behind her.

yoongi let the air go from his lungs. he lifted his hand to place it over hoseok’s and found it cold to the touch. a roll of nausea washed over him; he put his head against the side of the cot and squeezed his eyes shut.

“my god,” he said, breathless. “how could i let this happen to you?”

he held to hoseok’s fingers, pulled his legs up in the chair. his mind swam with a rush of thoughts, felt as if it would give at any moment.

“i should have payed attention and i should have asked you questions. i should have done something. and i brushed you off. i thought it was okay. i didn’t even know why you did it.” yoongi sniffled in, opened and blinked his eyes. they were watery and blurred as he stared at the linoleum flooring shaped in little hexagons. he let go of hoseok’s hand.

“i’m so sorry, hoseokie.”

he felt a weight press softly to the back of his head, combing through his hair.

“hyung,” hoseok rasped.

yoongi looked up, bringing his head up. he caught hoseok’s hand as it fell back to the bedside. he offered a half, shaky smile, which met hoseok’s sleepy and dazed look.

“it’s me,” said yoongi, “i brought you here, i’ve been waiting for you to wake up, i was so scared, i was...”

yoongi’s ramble grew quiet as the perplexed gaze did not fall from hoseok’s face.

“hyung, you can’t be here,”

“what do you mean?” yoongi frowned.

hoseok shook his head. “i can’t talk to you.”

“what? are you kidding me?”

yoongi sat up in the chair, putting both feet on the floor. his eyebrows drew together; hoseok looked away from him, pulling his hands from where yoongi could touch them.

of course, he couldn’t let yoongi touch him after all of that. he felt as if he had unintentionally cheated on the real yoongi. the closest thing he had to a best friend-- no, a lover. to a boyfriend. and he had pulled himself toward a fictitious substitute out of convenience. but that had turned dark fast, hadn’t it? because his feelings for the real yoongi still bubbled in the pit of his stomach like sludge.

yoongi reached out to brush hoseok’s arm and hoseok recoiled as a knee-jerk reaction.

“please don’t do that,” hoseok said. “i don’t feel good.”

yoongi pressed his hands against his forehead, shaking his head back and forth. his eyes were red and brimmed with tears as he looked hoseok in the eye.

“please don’t look at me like that,” hoseok said, voice breaking, dropping to a whisper.

“what happened to you?” yoongi said. he averted his eyes for a moment, looking up, blinking the tears away. it didn’t work; he rubbed at his eyes.

“what happened to you? why can’t you talk to me?” yoongi reached out on instinct, but retreated back. hoseok kept his unwavering gaze fixated on yoongi, blankly, spacing out as yoongi spoke.

“i don’t know, i’m sorry...” hoseok said.

“you don’t know?” yoongi expelled all the air from his chest, as if he had been hit. “god, you kept saying that. you kept saying you didn’t know, you were sorry, you...” he pressed a hand to the side of his face, taking a deep breath in.

“i thought you were going to die, hoseok.” yoongi’s voice wobbled. “you didn’t hear me in the ambulance, did you? i thought you were going to die, right there.”

the tears tracked down the left, and then the right side of yoongi’s cheeks. he moved to wipe them, frustratedly, with the sleeve of his sweater. he sniffled in violently, and there came a small hiccup as he breathed in.

“and i couldn’t do anything.” he finished, finally.

hoseok couldn’t stand it. he wanted yoongi to yell at him, to pick him up and drag him off the bed and shake him until he couldn't feel his insides sans for the churning of them. he wanted to be mad, to be livid with anger, to sob until he couldn’t feel anything. but with yoongi looking at him, looking so worn and distraught and knowing it was his fault, that’s all he felt. nothing. he was numb and cold and stared right through yoongi and to the wall behind him.

hoseok tried to focus on yoongi’s eyes.

“he looked just like you.”

yoongi’s eyes were warm, and shiny, and confused. hoseok took in the dark pupil and iris, dwelled within them for a moment, spoke:

“he looked just like you, and he was so beautiful i thought it was you.” hoseok’s breath came short and labored, and he felt his chest tighten, and the back of his throat burn.

“and he said, ‘you’re lucky you have me, he doesn’t love you,’” he shook his head, eyes shut tightly. “ ‘you don’t deserve him, hoseokie,’ and he was right. and i wanted him to go away.”

“who?”

“it was you. it wasn’t you. it was another you.”

yoongi shuddered, voice cracking again. “god, hoseok, why didn’t you tell me?”

“he was so nice, he was so good, and i felt terrible. it wasn’t you. it wasn’t you. i felt awful.” hoseok’s pitch dipped in and out of octaves, muffled between his hands placed over his mouth. his breathing was ragged and sharp and panicked. the monitor’s beeping picked up in speed.

“and i took, i took them all at once. i didn’t want him. i didn’t want him anymore.”

yoongi’s hands fidgeted, unsure what to do. they wavered at the bedside before he hoisted himself up, over the mattress, gently brushed back hoseok’s hair off his forehead. his head was hot to his cold hands. he tried to level his voice as he spoke.

“hoseok, hoseok listen to me okay, whoever you saw is gone. it’s me. i’m real. i’m yoongi.”

hoseok nodded, eyes still closed together.

“i know,” he managed. “i’m sorry. i’m so sorry.”

yoongi hushed him quietly, gave a laugh that shook at the ends. hoseok took his hands away from his mouth, used one to press yoongi’s hand to his cheek, held yoongi’s wrist in the other. he could feel the strong pulse underneath; his stomach clenched. he didn’t want this yoongi to go away. he wanted a yoongi that loved him in too many different ways and yelled at him and beat around the bush and lied to save them and made him feel alive and wanted and worth something.

one that made him feel like a human being.

“i don’t deserve you,” hoseok said. he heard yoongi scoff in reply, but he said little else.

“that’s what he told me,” hoseok continued. “it’s everything i’ve ever thought. it’s everything i told myself.”

the heart rate monitor began to settle back to normal; a nurse peered in through the window, but did not open the door.

“don’t say that--”

“too late--”

“well, then stop saying it,” yoongi said, finally speaking. hoseok opened his eyes, and found yoongi hovering over him, hands buried in his hair. he held hoseok’s head steady, absently rubbing small circles into his scalp.

“you deserve everything.” yoongi swallowed the lump in his throat and sat back a little on his knees. hoseok nodded slowly, eyes wide and watery. yoongi tucked his hands behind hoseok’s neck, bringing his head an inch or so from the pillows. he leaned his head, just gently, against hoseok’s, bumping foreheads together. hoseok’s eyes fall shut again as they go out of focus.

“can you do that for me?” yoongi said softly.

“do what?” hoseok said.

“not deprecate yourself. know that you really do deserve everything.”

hoseok tried desperately to hold back a smile. it was typical of yoongi, hypocritical. but so heartwarming, something that made him feel warm and soft inside, glowing through his skin.

“okay,” hoseok whispered. “even if you’re being hypocritical.”

“even if i’m being what?” yoongi said; he drew back slightly, but hoseok instinctively closed the gap between them.

“yoongi-hyung, i...” hoseok sighed. yoongi hummed questioningly in response.

“hyung, were you scared in the ambulance?”

he felt yoongi nod as best he could.

“i was,” said yoongi, words almost inaudible. hoseok still held tightly to yoongi’s left wrist, where his hand was pressed to his cheek, now warm.

“i was too,” said hoseok, “it was like being drunk for the first time. i thought i would die. i would die not knowing what you were saying to me.” his eyebrows drew together.

“i was scared because i didn’t think i would be able to tell you i love you,” hoseok said; his words swam with emotion suddenly, and yoongi felt his face scrunch together. he spoke once more through tears, again.

“i love you so much, hyung, i really do, i--”

yoongi didn’t mean to cut him short so abruptly; but he pressed his lips against hoseok’s in an effort to at least quiet him for a moment. hoseok went soft in his hands, the smallest noise of surprise escaping him as yoongi kissed him. it was warm and close-lipped and a little off center, but the elation that flooded his mind was unparalleled. hoseok broke them apart as he breathed.

“oh my god,” said hoseok, inflection settling back into his voice, as it should. his lips quirked up, just barely, into a smile, and yoongi didn’t look at him, but he can feel it; he could feel the sunshine return to his face and his skin, hear the heart monitor rise in speed, and hear the door open.

he yanked his hands to his sides, slumped back into the chair.

min yoongi, one, seoul general, zero.

the nurse from before pushed her head through the crack in the door.

“ah,” she said, “good morning, jung-ssi. it’s good to see you are awake.”

hoseok smiled, making himself more comfortable on the mattress. yoongi tried to help by fluffing the pillows behind him, but hoseok’s head only sunk farther into them. he looked up at yoongi, the crooked smile still lingering on his face.

“are you feeling alright, jung-ssi?” she asked. “i told your family that they should probably let you sleep.”

hoseok nodded in reply. the nurse turned her head to look over at yoongi. yoongi gave her a similar smile in return, and nodded along with hoseok. she seemed satisfied with the answer hoseok gave,

“i’ll be back soon to give a proper run down, min-ssi,” she said to yoongi. “you’ll need to know everything that happened. i’ll also be back with some food as well” she began to shut the door on herself, but as a second thought, she opened it again.

“ah, min-ssi?” she asked. yoongi looked over once more.

“try not to startle the patients with pda while they’re on bedrest. it alerts the nurses when the heart rate monitor goes up.”

the door clicked shut as the nurse stepped back and out of the room, and where yoongi could properly see her. heat rose to his face, as if he could feel the pink blush on the tops of his ears and the high of his cheeks. hoseok took hold of his hand, and curled his fingers around yoongi’s. neither of them said anything for a long moment, but when yoongi did, he was still watching the door.

“i love you too,” he said softly

yoongi heard hoseok sigh pleasantly, and yawn right after. as he did the same, he saw jimin’s face peer through the window of the doorway; he pushed open the door, rushing in, jin clamoring in behind him.

“yoongi-hyung,” jimin said, beaming; he followed yoongi’s outstretched arm to hoseok, who smiled and gave a small wave of his hand.

“hoseok-hyung!” he gasped. he watched hoseok;s smile grow, watched hoseok look at yoongi, and sensed something different. jimin moved over to the right side of the bed, all in too much of a hurry.

“you all came?” hoseok said as he looked around the room. jin took the seat next to yoongi and rest his arm on yoongi’s shoulder.

“yoongi-ah brought you here, and we came because he called us. you want to know how worried he sounded?”

yoongi made a face

“for once,” continued seokjin, “i was the collected one.”

“you’re always the collected one, hyung,” said yoongi, wisting to face him but not letting go of hoseok’s hand.

“but, remember that one time...”

they broke into small conversation, and jimin took that time to talk with hoseok. hoseok took jimin’s hand in his other free one, toying with his fingers.

“did you tell him yet?” asked jimin; he lowered himself to the level of the bedside and rest his head on his arm.

“yeah...” hoseok split into a wide smile as the other faded from his face. “yeah, i did.”

“hoseok-hyung!” jimin jeered, quiet enough, but still full of energy. jimin shook his hoseok’s hand, pressing their conjoined fingers against his forehead.

“wait,” yoongi interrupted, turning back around to look at jimin. “who let you  in here?”

jimin shrugged. “we did?”

yoongi inhaled, took a moment to stare into space for a moment, and sighed deeply.

“you’re going to get us all kicked out.” he said, throwing a glance over his shoulder. he wriggled in the chair. hoseok gave a firm shake of his head and tried to stifle a yawn.

“--mm, no. i won’t let them.” he said, words jumbled. whatever other sedatives they had put him on had begun to circle around again. he met eyes with the three of them individually.

“are you all going to stay?” he mumbled. seokjin leaned back in his chair.

“until they force us out with their bad black coffee, hoseok.”

“i’m going to stay until they evict us both.” said yoongi. he rubbed at his tired eyes.

“that’s gay,” said jimin.

“you’re gay,” yoongi responded.

“mm, okay, get out of my room,” hoseok said, as yoongi and jimin began mocking themselves in different annoying voices.

jin rose from his chair first. after sticking his tongue out at yoongi (and getting swatted at across the bed), jimin smiled warmly at hoseok and followed jin. yoongi stood to do the same but hoseok tugged on his arm, stopping him. hoseok motioned for yoongi to lean down, and yoongi did.

“i don’t think i’m going to be able to thank you enough, hyung,” he said. he yawned again.

“you don’t have to,” yoongi said. “just get some rest, okay?”

hoseok nodded. he reached up with one hand, and brought yoongi’s face down to his own. hoseok kissed him sleepily, on the side of the mouth, before he fell back into the covers.

“yoongi-hyung, you can kiss your boyfriend later, let’s go.” jimin said.

hoseok squeezed yoongi’s hand and nodded. “go on, hyung.”

yoongi let hoseok’s hand fall from his, gave it a gentle pat, and followed seokjin and jimin out of the small hospital room.

yoongi met with the nurse outside of hoseok room, yet again. they spoke in low, hushed voices, brimmed with urgency, as jimin and seokjin stood to the side. before yoongi had a chance to thank her, she held up her hand.

“it was not good. not in the slightest.”

yoongi nodded. “i know.” he pressed a hand to his forehead, pushing his hair back.

“how long will he have to stay?” he asked. the nurse glanced down at her papers, over to jin and jimin, and back to yoongi.

“a week.”

“okay,” yoongi said. “okay.”

“we still need to take him through a few more tests. electrocardiogram, mental evaluation. anything you can give us will help us help him.”

yoongi gave a small shake of his head.

“there’s a little that i know, but about what lead up to this, i don’t. he’s usually open about things, but something shut him off from me--from us,” he corrected, snapping out of a trance, “from all of us.”

the nurse gave yoongi a sympathetic look.

“from what we know, it was not as bad as it could have been. for now, we’ve performed gastric lavage, and administered fluids, and once we know he’s completely stable, we’ll prescribe flumazenil during his extended stay.”

yoongi looked through the small window of the door as another nurse stepped into the room. he watched as they made short conversation with hoseok, the smile, though not as bright as yoongi had hoped to see, returning to his cheeks. he turned back to the nurse as she spoke again.

“we’ll make sure that the week of inpatient care runs as smoothly as possible. after that, i suggest an extra two weeks of outpatient care, so that we can make sure the overdose had no lasting effects.”

“thank you,” yoongi said apathetically. that was the feeling: apathy. but more than that, he was worried, perhaps, he was scared. he was scared that the hoseok before prescriptions and before hallucinations and before the stress that seemed to weigh upon his shoulders would not come back to him. but when the nurse stepped out of the room, and hoseok caught yoongi’s glance, there was a light that gleamed in his eye. perhaps hoseok only needed him.

“he’ll be okay. it’s only a week.”

 

and exactly a week later, hoseok found himself rudely awoken, but still in the hospital, in the same hospital cot. it wasn’t time to eat, he thought to himself, and the force at which the door had been thrown open was not usual. he frowned, not yet opening his eyes, but a familiar voice broke through his daze.

“hoseok-hyung, good morning-ggg!”

hoseok blinked, squinting as he woke from a rather dreamless slumber. he reached up to rub the sleep out of his eyes, trying to focus on the room. it came in blurrily, but he could make out two heads of dark hair, and fluorescent pink. it sent him into a shock for a moment, but it cleared into jimin, who was grinning wide at him, with yoongi and taehyung standing behind him.

hoseok yawned. “ah, hi everyone.”

“you’re off iv,” said yoongi.

“you’re looking like yourself again for sure, hyung.” tae said.

“hoseok-hyung, how are you?” jimin finished.

hoseok laughed.

“i’m okay. better now that you’re all here.”

the three of them separated, yoongi moving to one side of the bed, jimin to the other, and tae lingering in the middle, at the foot of the bed.

“and i’m better now that i’m in my own clothes, thanks to yoongi-hyung.”

yoongi waved his hand, brushing it off, but hoseok caught and held it.

“jimin, you dyed your hair?” he asked, looking over to him. hoseok propped himself up against the pillows, straining to get a better glance at the mop of cotton candy pink on his head. it was a sharp transition from a muted sort of grey-green he had previously worn, but with jimin’s attraction to soft pastels and black jeans, hoseok couldn’t be surprised. he reached over to touch it.

“jeongguk and taehyung decided it should be something vibrant.” he said, rather sheepishly. taehyung laughed.

“now everyone will see him when he runs down the street,” tae commented. jimin nodded, and pushed the hair from his face.

“and he’ll stand out when he tries to pretend it's not his night to do the dishes,” said yoongi.

“how?” jimin protested. yoongi stood to point a finger at him from across the cot.

“because your face will turn the same shade as your hair.”

taehyung cleared his throat, trying to get the attention of the group. jimin looked over, face contorted into what seemed to be a grimace, and yoongi, fighting off a smile at his own bad joke, sat down. taehyung looked between both of them, and spoke to hoseok.

“are you ready to get out of here, hyung?” he said, and hoseok couldn’t help the tired sigh that escaped him. he let go of yoongi’s hand and wormed himself free of the bed sheets.

“you have no idea.”

“are you going out like that?” asked jimin. he gestured to hoseok’s robes, and yellow, socked feet.

hoseok frowned.

“no,” he said. “i hope not.”

taehyung held up a canvas bag, and wriggled through jimin and yoongi, who had both stood, and stuck together like magnets to help hoseok stand.

“that’s why i’m here. we made sure-- i ,” he stressed, “made sure that we packed you something stylish and comfortable.”

“taehyungie, always the fashion icon.” hoseok said, holding onto one edge of the bag as tae set it onto the bed. he lifted the clothes from the bag. it wasn’t remarkable- he hadn’t expected that; a beige sweater (namjoon’s), worn jeans (his own), canvas shoes (a collective purchase, if he recalled correctly), but his heart swelled in his chest.

“thank you,” he said, meaning to say more, but felts the words leave him, stuck in the back of his throat. he mustered a smile as he brought his head up.

“okay,” jimin said. “now while i find the nearest bathroom, you all do what you do.”

“i want to take a nap,” yoongi said, leaning on the chair.

“you always do,” tae reminded him.

in the time it took for jimin to navigate himself back to the room, hoseok was already shuffling out, yellow socks peeking out from the bottom of his jeans. yoongi had one arm looped around his waist; jimin hoped the “fall risk” bracelet strapped to hoseok’s arm wasn’t a definite.

“let’s get out of here.” he said, “it’s about time we did.”

 

but the transition for hoseok at home was not easy. places where he had seen suga left him feeling anxious and empty, and the silence that he was often left in made him antsy. he lingered in doorways a bit longer than he should have, and despite wanting to get back to work, his movement at home was dull, and slow, and detached.

his time was spent on the patio, on the couch, trying to adjust to the new, stronger medication he was now, for absolute, taking. reminder at seven am, reminder at ten am, reminder at six pm. did you take your meds ? yoongi asks, did you remember to take your meds today? says yoongi. and a constant confirmation. it was solid-- it was a confirmation for himself, more than yoongi. yes .

the six of them made it better for him, however. yoongi and jimin kept him on top of his goals and focuses, while jeongguk and taehyung made sure he had time to spend downstairs in public with them. seokjin put his shop in order while he was out, as he had done for the week he spent in the hospital, while namjoon organized the small art room; he had even replaced the used paints, and left a new watercolor for him to look at. of course, it was of jin, but hoseok couldn’t keep his eyes off it.

hoseok was sitting on the couch, leaning up against the armrest, with yoongi sprawled out on his lap, face up. though yoongi was about as close to sleep as he could get, hoseok was not tired. he was too drawn in on the softness of yoongi’s face, and the sun twisting through the closed curtains. hoseok rarely slept during the day now; he had slept so often off his medication and while in the hospital it felt as if it had been eternity. but since yoongi loved to nap, he liked to join him.

when hoseok moved his arms to rid them of pins and needles, so did yoongi, stretching out. his shirt rode up at the corner, and where hoseok had his hand at yoongi’s hip, it brushed bare skin. hoseok pulled it back down and smoothed it out, feeling yoongi’s bottom few ribs jut just barely from under his skin. a mental note: more of jeongguk’s pastries needed to go to yoongi than jihoon.

yoongi’s eyes, barely open now, crinkled as he yawned. desperately trying to keep himself awake, he mumbled something to hoseok.

“are you still awake?”

hoseok blinked his eyes, and tried to find his face in the dim light of dawn.

“sorta,” he said, and his voice hummed as he whispered.

“how do you feel?” he picked up hoseok’s hand, holding it above his face, turning it in his own. hoseok smiled with his eyes, watching yoongi. he gave a small shrug of his shoulders, and straightened up. the pins and needles still lingered in his right arm.

“the same,” he tried. yoongi dropped his hand and let it rest on his stomach.

“that’s okay,” yoongi said, but hoseok sighed, and shook his head.

“it feels like they’re not working.” he suppressed a yawn, but couldn’t shake the new feeling of tension in his stomach.

“hoseok,” yoongi said. he said up slightly, leaning against hoseok’s thigh. “i know it feels like it doesn’t, but they are.”

hoseok nodded and glanced away.

“can you tell?” he asked absently.

yoongi began to smile, even after how hard he tried not to.

“yeah,” he said, “yeah i can. you’re smiling more than you did.”

another nod; yoongi reached up to loop his arms around hoseok’s neck, and hoisted himself to sit in hoseok’s lap. he tucked his head against hoseok’s shoulder.

“it’s really beautiful.”

hoseok snorted, and laughed, trying to look yoongi in the eye. “what?”

yoongi evaded, staying pinned underneath his chin.

“you heard me.” he said.

“no, hyung, i didn’t. you’re speaking to my neck. i can’t hear you at all.”

yoongi sighed against his neck and pushed off from him. as he looked up to hoseok, he framed hoseok’s face in his hands. hoseok was smiling.

“it’s beautiful. you, smiling, hoseok.”

yoongi couldn’t help but smile back at him either. it was contagious, to say the least. yoongi shut his eyes. he tried to take the moment in as much as he could before he opened them again. he listened to hoseok, who was laughing at him, a soft, breathy sound, felt the rise in his cheeks, and the silence, with an underlying current teeming with activity, that filled the rest of the apartment. yoongi opened his eyes, and hoseok was still looking back at him. he hoped that every time hoseok opened and closed his eyes that seeing yoongi offered the same relief.

yoongi gave a quick kiss to hoseok’s smile, and clamored off of him.

“come on,” he said as he stood in front of the couch, wobbling on his legs. he held out his hand for hoseok to take. “let’s go, hoseokie.”

hoseok too his hand, and unfolded his legs.

“where are we going?” he said as he hesitated in standing. yoongi gave his arm a slight tug, and as hoseok stood, he returned it.

instead of answering him, yoongi guided him around the coffee table, socked feet shuffling against the throw rug, through the divide between the two armchairs, and out onto the patio, where the morning was cool, and the doors were now thrown open, and the curtains drifted lazily as the morning sun poured in through them. this time of year, the air was warm, and the mornings were quiet. it was not unlike the seven to pile out into the space when the nights got dark, or for jin to spend his time looking down at the street below. but it was also a space to be alone, and to be connected, all at once.

they stepped out onto the patio together. yoongi stopped at the railing of the patio, leaned over to look at it, and looked back to hoseok. hoseok hadn’t moved to meet him just yet. he stood in the doorway, squinting out at the horizon. the sun shone just barely at the top of a low lying building, where the first of its rays jutted out over it. yoongi spoke.

“i thought we could watch the sun come up, what do you think?”

hoseok took a long breath of fresh air in, and moved to meet yoongi at the banister. below, few people milled about, and the small shops below the tall scrapers clicked on their lights. he heard the clatter of the door below, from underneath the deck space they stood on, and the small ‘hello’s’ as jeongguk began business, today just in the bakery, as usual. hoseok felt the morning air on his skin, and the sun in his face, and felt yoongi take hold of his hand again.

“yeah, i think i would like that, hyung,” hoseok said. “i think i would like that a lot.”

Chapter Text

 

hoseok was a heavy sleeper. he’d always been like that--it was a learned ability, from the amount of time he’d spent in the city. he slept heavy, well, fully, deaf.

he never heard the cars brush past on the street, in the rain, in the dark on the thursday night.

he never heard the rattle of the front door to the apartment above the studio, as namjoon came in to return his keys and his paint brushes.

and he’d hadn’t heard yoongi shift beside him, mumbling out his name in sleepy syllables, too subdued to understand anything more than if hoseok's still here and sleeping.

he slept heavy for hours, pooling time into beautyrest. and he dreamt. dreamt of the light colors and soft clothing and jewels he did before. of jimin and taehyung and yoongi. yoongi came back to him like this. like suga. after these dreams, hoseok awakens confused, looked for his yoongi, a real yoongi, let the image of his gentle, clean face wash over him. his hair cut at odd angles. the roundness of his face. hoseok grounded himself in it. yoongi rubbed small circles with his thumb onto the back of hoseok’s hand and smiled at him.

he saw him sometimes, suga, from the corner of his eye. it made him pause, turn, question, consider. grounded himself. made sure he'd taken his medication. checked his apps. felt real again.

hoseok was still sleeping at 8:13 when the smoke detector wailed from the kitchenette of the apartment. the blaring continued for several seconds, followed by a loud thump. that’s what woke him.

he rolled over in bed, feeling slightly cold. the blanket, thrown off half his body, was strewn partly onto the floor and the right side of the bed was empty, only the impression of warmth left over. the blaring finally reached hoseok’s ears as he pulled his body up against the wall. he groaned slightly, a tired smile easing onto his face. there was a string of incessant cursing, which sounded like yoongi’s voice, but over the smoke detector he couldn’t quite tell.

hoseok pulled the covers back off his legs and shuffled from the mattress. he wobbled as he stood, legs soft with sleep, but stretched both arms over his head, bent to touch the ground, listening to his joints pop and crack with the movement. the alarm finally cut off. he walked into the bathroom, not cutting the light on, but feeling around for the glass he had set out the night prior. it was a little off from the time he usually took his medication, but he popped open the friday slot and thanked himself for not working mornings on fridays. he swallowed quickly, blinked at himself in the mirror, and stepped out of the bathroom.

the sleep began to drain from him and he moved toward the bedroom door. he opened it, standing sleep-mused in the door frame, as yoongi stepped down from the second rung of the wooden table stool, newspaper in hand. yoongi turned and froze, caught in the act.

“oh, shit,” he said. hoseok snorted loudly, breaking into a tired giggle.

“good morning to you, too, hyung.”

yoongi set the wadded newspaper on top of the stool, pushing it back to beside the table. there he leaned for a moment, looking disappointed.

“did i wake you up?” he asked.

“not really,” hoseok shrugged lightly and shuffled out of the bedroom, shutting the door behind him. yoongi pushed from the table to meet him halfway, right outside the living area. hoseok stretched again, and ran his hands through his hair. yoongi watched him fix his hair, warm, tired eyes sweeping over his face, quiet. hoseok took yoongi’s hands in his own. they stood there for a moment, hoseok’s head bobbing and yoongi swinging their hands back and forth between them.

“good morning, beautiful,” hoseok said softly. yoongi reached up to kiss him quick.

“you already said that.” he gave hoseok’s hands a squeeze and dropped them. hoseok stood where he was as yoongi drifted back into the kitchen.

“i know that and i love you,” hoseok tried as yoongi moved away. yoongi echoed a similar i love you before hoseok continued with the conversation.

“what did you burn?”

there was a pause as yoongi let out an elongated sigh and picked up the spoon he was using off the stove. he had moved the pan away from the hot burner, and the exhaust fan was running, pulling the smoke up away from it. the burner wasn’t on anymore, but the food behind yoongi was browned and crispy. nothing looked too terribly burnt , but it smelt burnt and probably tasted the same. hoseok shook his head.

“it was supposed to be breakfast,” yoongi told him, dejected. “but i’m sure everyone from the shop, across the road, and across town can tell how burnt it is.”

“what was it?”

hoseok finally moved forward, still groggy and rubbing at tired eyes. he set the newspaper on the sill behind him and pushed the stool flush with the sill’s countertop. he took a seat at the kitchen table, resting his chin in his hands.

“eggs.” yoongi said shortly. hoseok snorted again, this time holding back his giggles.

“you burnt eggs? how?”

hoseok didn’t get any explanation as to why. instead, yoongi turned around, eyebrows drawing together. he waved the wooden spoon haphazardly.

“listen, genius , you know i can’t cook.” he retorted.

“i know that!”

“then stop laughing!”

hoseok shook his head, studying yoongi’s face. “i can’t.”

yoongi set the spoon down behind him. he rubbed his face with both hands, pinching his nose.

“i wanted to do something for you, y’know, just make breakfast so you didn’t have to. to surprise you. you deserve it.” he let his arms fall to his sides. they rested back onto the counter behind him as he did. he wouldn’t look hoseok in the eye.

“it’s okay, hyung. don’t worry about it.”

“i just--” yoongi sighed.

hoseok rapped his fingers against the table, trying to think of some words of inspiration to take the disgruntled look off yoongi’s face.

“you know what?” he finally said. “we’ll eat them anyway. i still love you, even if you can’t cook an egg to save your life.”

yoongi’s frown deepened, was apprehensive for a moment. after setting the eggs on a plate and grabbing two forks, he trudged over to the table and set both on the table top. hoseok held out his arms as yoongi set the plate down and yoongi shuffled over to him, falling into his lap. they stayed that way for a moment, hoseok’s cheek resting on top of yoongi’s head, damp hair against his face, before yoongi pulled the plate forward to him. they ate crunchy eggs in silence, curled in on each other. the eggs, while burnt, tasted okay and hoseok was thankful for any breakfast yoongi tried to cook, no matter if it woke him from his sleep or not. he was always thankful for yoongi.

Chapter Text

 

namjoon wandered into hoseok’s art shop on the off chance that hoseok was nowhere to be found. he clutched an empty, rolled tube of yellow oil paint, a damp paint brush stuck behind his ear and his ring bouncing around his neck. it was late in the afternoon, far later than namjoon had anticipated when he had begun to run out of paint. his stomach was growling in protest. it was almost time to close up shop for the afternoon. in the back of his mind, as he watched the few people left in the shop mill about, he remembered that hoseok had a class in the morning—he must be setting up. namjoon busied himself with the art display in the interim.

but as if on cue, hoseok emerged from the back storage room, holding a brown storage box with both arms. he smiled warmly when he saw namjoon and beckoned him over as he set the box down.

“afternoon!” he said cheerily.

“pretty late in the afternoon, hyung.”

namjoon shrugged, peeking into the box hoseok was unpacking. more paint sets, a pack of wire brushes, stilo pens—new, small scale shipments of customer requests. a patron had walked up to the counter in the time it took hoseok to unpack the box. they stood with uncertainty until hoseok noticed and moved around the counter.

“so what do you need, namjoon?” he asked as he began to ring up the totals. namjoon fiddled with the empty tube of yellow paint.

“ran out of yellow oil paint.”

“seven twenty-one,” hoseok replied. namjoon blinked, incredulous.

“i thought it was two fifty!” namjoon shook his head.

hoseok looked at him sideways, eyebrows creasing.

“not you, namjoon-ie.” he took the card from the customer to swipe it and namjoon nodded.

“oh.”

hoseok bagged the customer’s item, passing it over the counter with a smile. as the customer turned and left, bag in hand, hoseok looked back at namjoon, who had begun rummaging in the box hoseok left, pulling out the rest of the supplies. hoseok batted at his hands across the countertop and namjoon batted back. a perturbed look passed over hoseok face.

namjoon’s empty paint tube sat next to the box. hoseok picked it up, turning it in his hands.

“what are you doing?” hoseok said. he set one hand on his hip, smiling at him. namjoon finally stopped, looking up at him over his glasses. the paintbrush bobbed behind his ear.

“huh?”

“what are you doing?” hoseok repeated.

“looking, obviously.”

hoseok laughed and began pulling the rest of the supplies out of the box. namjoon helped him unpack, his yellow paint tube in the pocket of hoseok’s discolored smock. once the box was unpacked, hoseok moved back around the counter and beckoned for namjoon to follow him. the rest of the patrons in the store began to pile out, waving to hoseok and offering goodbyes as they left. hoseok smiled widely, calling out his own parting with namjoon behind him. as the rest of the people left, hoseok took namjoon around one of the shelving units. he traced the shelves with his eyes, twisting his mouth in concentration.

he bent down, plucking up a yellow tube of oil paint, same branding style as the other.

“two fifty,” he told namjoon and passed it over. namjoon held it up in admiration.

“of course,” namjoon said. he fished his card from behind his phone and followed hoseok back to the counter to check out.

“so,” he said as he passed his card over the counter. hoseok swiped it. “what are you doing for yoongi-hyung’s birthday tomorrow?”

hoseok almost dropped the card as he passed it back over.

“i’m sorry?”

“it’s march eighth,” said namjoon, frowning. “tomorrow’s the ninth.”

hoseok froze, dropped his hands onto the counter as namjoon took the card, and groaned quietly.

“oh, jeez.”

namjoon pocketed the card and the paint.

“you forgot, didn’t you?”

fixing the headband that was holding back his hair, hoseok leaned back against the counter, hands on his cheeks. he groaned for a long moment, eyebrows drawn in concentration, musing, grumbling. he had forgotten and of course not on purpose. it had slipped his mind, with the work, the new class he was teaching, the shipments for the next week coming in, the time yoongi had spent working on new songs. he had taken up the hobby quite recently, of mixing low fidelity music, playing it throughout the apartment upstairs. hoseok loved it to death, the crinkly backgrounds lulling him to sleep and relaxation. hoseok shook his head.

“yeah, yeah i did.”

namjoon nodded in retribution, thinking to himself. before he spoke, he leaned forward, beckoning hoseok closer.

“i’ve got a plan.”

 

twenty minutes later, hoseok and namjoon were crowded around a small, round table at the front of the bakery. jeongguk sat adjacent to hoseok, seokjin beside namjoon, while taehyung and jimin peered over jeongguk’s shoulder. yoongi, still running the last of the deliveries, was nowhere to be found.

jeongguk munched on what was left of his afternoon meal. it looked like part of a muffin and hoseok took a piece when he wasn’t looking. after some shuffling, the group finally clued in on namjoon’s air of extreme secrecy.

namjoon was bent forward, conspiratorial, his voice at normal level, but serious. he fished a piece of paper from his pocket, spreading it flat on the table.

“you’re probably wondering why i’ve gathered you here today,” he said, looking around at the peering group of faces.

“no,” seokjin said, looking over at him. “you just told us.”

namjoon ignored him, waving one hand, and continued. “i’ve compiled a list of everything we have to do to be ready for tomorrow. for the big day,” he stressed, “and you all have very important jobs.”

he began to read off the list off the page of paper. there was no more than a few lines of text, but the sincerity in namjoon’s voice was remarkable. he pointed to each of the six as their jobs came up. where jimin and jin were paired for decorations, a flurry of glitter and colliding colors, jeongguk was asked to bake a small cake. an easy task for him, considering the bakery was deserted. he agreed, stating that a small cake had already been made and mostly decorated. he’d “switch it up”--his words exactly--with some colorful designs to match the inevitable confetti that would litter the apartment. namjoon had already created a playlist, but asked that each member contribute a dollar to upgrade himself to ad-free.

they thought for a minute on what to get yoongi to eat, whether it be something original and homemade or his favorite take out from down the street. hoseok agreed that they should make something, if small at that, but that take out was the best option. both he and tae agreed that they could go, and namjoon let them.

“we can get the supplies for whatever else we’re making tonight and get the take out tomorrow,” taehyung told namjoon.

hoseok legs were numb as he stood up.

“oh, hyung,” namjoon said, as hoseok picked up his coat. hoseok frowned in response.

“hm?”

“your job is to do nothing.”

hoseok snorted. taehyung stood with him, pulling his glasses off to let them sit around his neck. they collided with one of his necklaces, but they both sat against his soft, warm clothes and made no noise.

“i need to get him something ,” hoseok protested. namjoon looked conflicted for a moment, as if he had forgotten that. hoseok was sure that namjoon and the others had gotten yoongi their gifts already, but he still had not had any time to find something of his own. there was a select pair of headphones that he had in mind. the cord on yoongi’s current pair was being worn down to shreds, and he constantly complained about losing bass. hoseok remembered he also needed some tea. he would pick that up with the rest of the supplies.

“fine,”  namjoon resigned. “we’ll text you when we decide what we’re making.”

hoseok beamed, clapping namjoon on the shoulder as he and tae stepped away from the table. they moved out the open door of the bakery and out onto the sidewalk. the sky was still a bright blue, the spindles of white clouds dancing across the sky. there was no wind, or none that hoseok and taehyung could feel as they loitered for a moment in front of the shop. several cars whizzed past, and a biker waved at them as they stood on the sidewalk. hoseok set off down the street to the right and taehyung followed him.

the nearest e-mart was only about six blocks from the bakery. tae and hoseok walked shoulder to shoulder, taking comfort in each other’s presence. taehyung was very good at that, hoseok thought, being silent without being cold. he assumed it was because of the bookshop and because tae had something on his mind. often, tae never stopped talking.

“excited?” hoseok asked, pushing his hands into his pockets. taehyung turned his head to look at him.

“for yoongi-hyung’s birthday?” he asked, somewhat rhetorically. “of course i am.”

“what did you get him?”

tae thought for a moment, eyebrows pulling together.

“his favorite book. i annotated a copy to give to him.”

hoseok smiled widely. he expected something like that from tae, but the idea of watching yoongi’s face light up as he re-read the annotated copy was a wonderful sight. he knew yoongi would love it. taehyung was a jokester, but soft. soft in the way that hoseok knew there would be something sweet written at the end.

“he’s going to adore that,” hoseok told him. tae hung his head in humility, a smile stretching across his face.

“i hope so.”

hoseok nodded in understanding. from his back pocket, his phone gave a single buzz. he fished it free from under his jacket. it was from namjoon.

6:25pm

joon: We need more flour and milk.

hoseokie: what are we making??

joon: Hotteok

hoseokie: bruh

hoseok turned to tae with his torso, holding out the phone.

“he says you’re in charge,” hoseok told him.

“do you know how often jiminie asks for that?” tae told him, shaking his head. “i can make it no problem.”

they reach the e-mart as hoseok managed to slip his phone back into his pocket. they stood together at the front for a moment before taehyung moved and the sliding doors opened, fluorescent lights of the mart welcoming them in.

 

hoseok had expected much less commotion than what went on in the e-mart. finding the supplies was a breeze, and moving to the cash wasn’t too difficult. it took, however, twenty five minutes to check out, as a customer demanded the use of his coupon on an item it was not meant for. after exchanging apologetic looks, hoseok and taehyung took their flour, milk, and a new pair of cushioned headphones, and departed back to the apartment. when they arrived, jeongguk was the only one left in the bakery. the sun was beginning to set, and the floor was washed in the pink rays of light that came from the separations in the buildings around them. jeongguk smiled as they entered, his hands covered in icing sugar.

“they went upstairs,” he said, motioning with one hand. tae gave him a look that hoseok read as and you?

“i’ll be up in a bit,” jeongguk clarified. “i just wanted to finish up yoongi-hyung’s cake.”

satisfied with his answer, taehyung let him be, following hoseok down the hall and to the stairwell leading to the apartment above. he was sure to keep the gift for yoongi out of sight and to himself as they entered the commotion upstairs. namjoon yelled out as they opened the door.

“look who made it back!”

hoseok cheered lazily, eyes drifting until they rested upon yoongi. he was sitting in the armchair beside the couch, his usual resting spot, with his legs pulled up and his pajamas on. he wiggled his fingers, waving to hoseok as they entered. taehyung set the milk down as hoseok popped into his room to shove the bagged gift under his bed. he moved into the kitchen just as yoongi was getting up from the chair. yoongi caught him halfway, arms looping around hoseok’s waist.

“i haven’t seen you all day,” hoseok said, cheek bumping against yoongi’s head.

“it’s been a long day,” yoongi told him.

the kitchen table barely sat all seven of them, bumping elbows and each trying to snag bits of seokjin’s cooking from the others’ plates. yoongi practically dethroned hoseok from his chair, and they sat on the floor, sharing a communal plate of fried rice.

hoseok fell asleep on him in the living room and woke up with him in bed, curled up against the curve of his side. he remembered the date, scared himself silly with the proposition that he hadn’t gotten him anything, but soon remembered the lone trip to e-mart. he shifted, sighing against yoongi’s neck, and tried to fall back asleep.

he awoke sometime later, feeling a pang of hunger in his stomach. yoongi had wormed away from him and fallen asleep on the far side of the bed. being careful not to wake him, hoseok shuffled from the covers, ducked into the bathroom to take his medicine, and took the gift and himself to the kitchen table. the clock above the stove read 9:14. hoseok’s phone was still plugged in at the kitchen table where he had left it the night prior. seokjin and jimin were tangled in paper streamers and lights, pulling at each other and the roll of tape to keep the streamers from falling across the rafter.

taehyung sat idle by at the stove, boxes of takeout still in the smiling thank you bag, watching over a fry pan. hoseok sighed heavily; he was supposed to have gone with tae.

tae turned at the sound and immediately started shaking his head.

“don’t worry about it, you were both asleep when i left, and i didn’t want to wake either of my hyungs from their nap.” a smile spread across his face. hoseok rolled his eyes, setting his gift on the table. there were several empty bags, he assumed that jin had brought them up with the rest of the supplies. he unwrapped the plastic bag, took the pen sitting on the table, and wrote a note on the back of the box.

it was nothing special, no confession of love, no heartthrob. but he wanted yoongi to know how important he was to hoseok. how important he was to everyone. he put the headphones in the gift bag, tried to cover it with crumpled wrapping paper, pushed it aside. as he finished packing the bag, there was a persistent knock on the door.

hoseok leapt to get it, much to taehyung's relief as he flipped a pancake. seokjin thanked him from a tangle of fairy lights. hoseok had to refrain from laughing as he opened the door. jeongguk, both hands wrapped protectively around a cake box, stood in the doorway, with namjoon behind him. hoseok stepped aside to let them through and jeongguk bobbed his head in appreciation. he set the cake on the conjoined counter of the kitchen and the foyer. hoseok could see the blue and red designs peaking above the cardboard.

“he’s going to love this,” hoseok said aloud, to the five of them. they continued to bustle among themselves, setting up for yoongi’s inevitable awakening.

setting up took twenty minutes, just long enough for yoongi to step out of the bedroom, into the apartment, and be bombarded by a cloud of confetti.

“surprise!” jimin yelled, hands full of red and yellow confetti, showering it over yoongi’s shoulders. yoongi blinked, tired and surprised and confused. he looked around at the crowd of people in his apartment. there was a plate of food on the kitchen table, a brightly colored cake. strings of fairy lights lit the room around him. namjoon stood off to the side, grinning as soft r&b music played through his travel speaker. yoongi knew the song, but couldn’t quite place it. a glittery banner with fucker written across it caught his eye next, along with hoseok, hair still tousled from sleep, standing against the kitchen door frame. he smiled as yoongi saw him. yoongi snorted in laughter. taking jimin’s hand, he followed him into the kitchen and sat at the table.

the six swarmed yoongi, piling into the world's worst group hug. yoongi groaned loudly in response.

“happy birthday yoongi-hyung!” cheered  namjoon, right into his ear.

“i’m going to kill you,” yoongi grumbled, though it did nothing to release the crowd of people from him. hoseok finally stuck himself between yoongi and the rest of the group. the group broke off at last and hoseok kissed the top of yoongi’s head and his cheek.

“happy birthday,” he said. yoongi finally let a ghost of a smile pass over his tired face.

“thank you, hoseokie.”

hoseok sat next to yoongi at the table, their hands folded together. the rest of the five pulled stools and chairs over, piling once again around a table too small for them. hoseok couldn’t keep his eyes off yoongi’s sleepy expression as he ate, and they split the remainder of the pancakes together. hoseok leaned against his shoulder and let the chatter of the house and the music roll over them, savoring the first precious moments of yoongi’s birthday.

“i love you,” hoseok said quietly against yoongi’s shoulder.

“and i love you,” yoongi told him.

all was well.