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the parable of the prodigal son

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Yoongi vaguely remembers learning about the sun's inevitable demise when he was in grade school.

At the time, he hadn't thought much of it (he was twelve, why would he?), but now he feels as though it was slightly morbid that a bunch of kids were being taught about the inescapable fall of humanity. The sun: it's destined to give life and light for only a specific amount of time before crashing, burning, and taking everything along with it.

Hoseok's story isn't much different from the sun's, Yoongi thinks.

 


 

When Jung Hoseok loves, he does it with everything he has.

He had a girlfriend, once upon a time (Yoongi can't remember her name for the life of him, didn't care for her much anyway); a woman who stole his precious love for herself only to throw it away.

Hoseok gave, and she took.

Yet he could not find it within himself to despise her; he even tried to fix what broke when he had walked in on her with another man, never once taking the love she had soiled back. It stayed with her forever, even after she had been the one to end things with Hoseok when she decided that she longed for the other man more than him. The night he calls Yoongi with a sad heart and empty eyes is the first time they have spoken in a while; they'd gone to college together and drifted apart after graduation.

Over the phone, Hoseok says only one thing when Yoongi picks up.

"Can I come over?"

Yoongi doesn't exactly say no. Can't, really.

They spend the night talking about Hoseok's girlfriend ("Ah, my ex-girlfriend now, huh," he corrects himself with a small, breathy laugh many times), Yoongi's access to the studio and his photography, and where Hoseok plans to live now. The topic of Yoongi's pink hair even makes an appearance. They talk, Yoongi grabs a beer, and then talk some more. He's sure this is the longest conversation he's had since college. His voice becomes raspy as the time goes on. Both of their backs are pressed against the couch as they catch up, ignoring the soreness of their limbs. It's nearly three in the morning when a tired Hoseok rests his head against Yoongi's shoulder and falls asleep on the latter.

This is the first night he realizes Jung Hoseok deserves a lot more than what the world gives him.

Yoongi doesn't remember when he fell asleep, but he wakes up with Hoseok's arms wrapped around his waist and soft breathing against his neck. They are still slumped against the couch, the only light in the room coming from a dimly lit lamp. There is no way in hell Hoseok won't wake up if he tries to move, so he doesn't.

Yoongi admits that having someone else's body heat pressed against him feels...nice. Yeah, nice.

"Hoseok," he grumbles, twisting slightly so he can get out of the other man's grip, "I know you're single now, but it hasn't even been a day. Let me go."

The only response he gets is a groan.

"Hoseok," Yoongi hisses again and grabs one of the man's hands to push him away, "let go."

"Why'd you wake me up?" Hoseok whines, shutting his eyes tightly. His face scrunches up and Yoongi most certainly doesn't think it's cute. He's an adult, for fuck's sake, there's no excuse for using the word cute as an adult.

"So you wouldn't strangle me in your sleep."

"Oh," Hoseok says quietly, retracting his arms slowly, and Yoongi regrets saying anything. There's about a foot between them now and the latter instantly becomes cold without the extra body heat. An awkward silence settles itself in the small space of Yoongi's apartment. Hoseok starts twiddling his thumbs like a five-year-old and refuses to make eye contact.

Yoongi clears his throat loudly, which makes the other man jump in fright. "Anyway," he begins, "you don't have a place to stay, right?"

"Y-Yeah," Hoseok replies, rubbing his arm. "My girlfriend owned the place, and I haven't really got that good of a job; it's a pretty small one at a bookstore. I could probably afford a cheap apartment, I guess, but I wouldn't have much left. Damn," Hoseok shakes his head with an all-too-fake laugh, "no wonder she dumped me."

Yoongi can't believe that this angel has planted himself in his house.

"What the fuck, Hoseok? What do you mean 'no wonder she dumped me', you dumbass? That bitch cheated on you, man, she doesn't deserve you," Yoongi snaps. His anger isn't directed in the other man's direction, but Hoseok doesn't know any better.

He just smiles innocently and looks at the hands in his lap with what is definitely an expression of pure inner turmoil if Yoongi's ever seen one. "No, no. She probably got tired of me coming home without enough money, y'know? I don't blame her. I still love her a lot, hyung," he reassures, directing the sickly-sweet smile his way. Yoongi relates facing Hoseok's grin a lot to walking out of a dark building and staring right into the fucking sun.

"Jesus, you've really gotta find some self-love. The bitch cheated on you-"

"Don't call her that," Hoseok interrupts, biting down on his lip. His voice isn't harsh, but gentle. Yoongi doesn't think that the other man can sound harsh, anyways.

"Fine, okay. The whore cheated on you and you still love her? That's not healthy. I'd trash her goddamn house and knock the other guy out cold, not gonna lie. How the hell do you function?" Yoongi is a bad person, and he knows it.

Hoseok, on the other hand, is not.

"I just have a lot of love to give, I guess." Hoseok smiles brightly again; Yoongi hisses and draws back as if he's been burned. His retinas aren't going to last very long with Jung Hoseok around if he has to deal with those pearl-white teeth constantly.

"Christ," is all Yoongi says on the matter.

 


 

Hoseok gets himself a hotel room and locks himself in it, doing things only God would know of. Nobody but Yoongi ever visits; surprisingly, for a guy as social as Hoseok, his ex-girlfriend was really the only person he had a constant relationship with. He has people who he texted on occasion, but there's nothing much more than that.

"Remember Namjoon?" Hoseok blurts as they sit on the edge of his hotel bed.

"Kim Namjoon? The prodigy from college? Shit, how could I forget him? He was a fuckin' genius. I haven't talked to him since graduation, but I wouldn't mind getting the chance to," Yoongi responds, glancing up from his phone to look Hoseok in the eye, vaguely wondering why he had brought up a random friend from college.

"Ah, well. I still talk to him sometimes. Y'know, over the phone. He moved to Busan; works as a CEO at some fancy company. Filthy rich, that guy," Hoseok chuckles, his contagious laughter causing even Min Yoongi himself to grin. "He's still the same clumsy nerd, though, just with a lot more money. Getting married, too, a couple months from now."

Yoongi whistles and raises one of his eyebrows questioningly, replying, "Who's the lucky girl? Hope she doesn't love him just for his money,"

"Actually, it's a man. Park Jimin, I believe. They've been together for three or four years now. Met in a bar, can you imagine?" Hoseok corrects; he seems to analyze Yoongi's reaction to this disclosure. The latter's eyes widen for a moment, but the bored look settles back onto his face after the revelation sinks into his mind.

"Good for him. A nice house, nice car, plenty of money, and a fiancé who loves him. Almost makes me feel sorry for myself, living in a shitty apartment with barely enough money to buy myself a meal," Yoongi runs a hand through his pink hair and shakes his head. "Anyway. Why'd you ask me about Namjoon? Seems kind of... I don't know, random."

"I just thought that maybe another person to talk to would benefit you in more ways than one. I'm the only one you talk to, right? Other than your boss?" Hoseok questions.

Yoongi sighs; Hoseok knows him too well.  "Yeah, okay, you're right about that."

"I can give you Namjoon's number," Hoseok says, the sweetness in his tone nearly caused Yoongi to gag.

"Okay, okay. I kind of hate his guts, though. For being so fuckin' rich. I can barely hold on to my own apartment," Yoongi laughs harshly. "I guess we could manage to pay the rent if we worked together. I'm almost done with a new song, too, it would really benefit us if it got popular," he stops for a moment, "well. Popular by my standards. Like, a couple thousand views on YouTube. Not only that, but I've put my phone number out with the photographer label. I'm sure I'll get a call soon." 

Hoseok stares at the floor and listens patiently. He lifts a hand and begins to speak, but Yoongi isn't finished yet.

"You could move in with me, if you want. It's not much, but it's better than here," he nearly begs, his voice coming out strained. Yoongi misses him; misses human interaction. Misses the way Hoseok smiles at him. "Look, I know it's a lot to take in. I'll just-" Yoongi stands up abruptly and waves a hand in Hoseok's direction as he walks toward the door. "Just... Think about it, okay?" he says while he pulls the door open and leaves in one swift motion. Hoseok doesn't even get the chance to speak.

Hoseok shows up at his door two days later with nothing but a suitcase and the smell of cigarette smoke wafting off his clothes.

 


 

"I put an ad in the paper," Yoongi says as he and Hoseok sit at his tiny dinner table. They're eating instant ramyeon for the fourth time this week.

"For your photography?" Hoseok asks, looking up from his bowl with questioning eyes.

"Yeah, but I haven't gotten any calls about it yet," he responds sourly, rolling his eyes. "The music production is more of a hobby than my photography, but I'm not taken seriously in either fields. It pisses me off."

Hoseok laughs at his choice of words. "Well, I love both your photography and your music. I'm just a librarian."

Yoongi can't help but smile and he feels the anger dissolving just by simply being in the younger man's presence. "You're more than that, Hoseok. I've seen you dance before," he mentions, thinking back to college. "I wrote a report over your dance studio once; you were on the front page."

"Ah," Hoseok wonders, "I don't remember that."

His statement pierces Yoongi's heart a little bit, but he doesn't outwardly show it. "Well, I did. I sat and watched your practices and took pictures, even. Hell, did I get made fun of for that. Kids are cruel," he grumbles. "My photography has improved, yet I still get zero calls about it."

"Maybe try putting an example on your next ad," Hoseok suggests, "if you didn't do that already."

"I don't have any clients," Yoongi groans, staring into his ramyeon and pouting like a child. "I haven't had one in forever."

"I'll do it," Hoseok says, nonchalant, as he picks up his bowl in both of his slender hands. "I'm not ideal, but if it'll help you, I'd love to." He starts to wash out his bowl, placing it gently into the sink to soak. "When do you want the appointment to be?"

It takes Yoongi a couple seconds to respond, as he's still recovering from the initial shock of Hoseok's suggestion. "I guess," he blurts, hiding his excitement as he takes his own bowl to the sink. "We can do it tonight, if you want; the weather isn't ideal but-"

Hoseok takes Yoongi's bowl from him and grins, his lips pulling over his perfectly white teeth to form a heart shape. "Let me do the dishes real fast," he says, reaching out his hand to shake Yoongi's for their agreement. "Maybe you should be the model; my hair color is pretty dull in comparison to yours."

The self-pronounced photographer is at a loss for words. He doesn't know whether it's due to Hoseok's selflessness or his smile.

(It's a combination of both.)

He hurries to his room to get his camera; it's a Nikon D2400 that he's had since high school. The damn thing costed a whole fortune and he had saved his money for years just to buy it. He cradles it in his arms gently as he walks down the hallway, treating it with extreme care as not to accidentally drop it.

"You treat that thing like a baby," Hoseok comments amusedly, causing Yoongi to look up from his camera.

When Hoseok said he'd model for Yoongi, he didn't expect much. Certainly not a clothing change into a grey turtleneck sweater and black jeans that clung to his legs in a way that made everything visible.

Everything.

"Where-" Yoongi starts to say, fumbling with his camera for a second, "where did you get those clothes?"

"Hyung, this is typical librarian attire," Hoseok answers, twisting around to admire himself, "have you never been to the library before?"

"No," Yoongi swallows.

"I guess it looks better on women," he sighs in a joking manner, walking towards Yoongi. "I contemplated putting on glasses, too; I'm going all out on this one."

"You really are," Yoongi responds, blinking himself out of his trance. "There's a spot down the street that I was thinking of," he says, avoiding eye contact.

"Let's go, then," Hoseok announces, giving his friend a little push towards the door, "we're losing daylight."

 


 

Yoongi's second attempt at a newspaper advertisement goes much better than the first.

With the help of Hoseok's modeling, he's gotten several calls from clients who want photos of all sorts of events. It's been a week and he's had a schedule of meetings every day; the cash is rolling in faster than it ever has. In fact, he doesn't think he's had this much physical money in his entire life.

He makes time to write music; it's still his greatest passion. He loves both photography and music production, of course, but the former has brought in more essentials than the latter. There is yet a label for him to sign to, but he can wait.

Hoseok still works at the library.

There aren't significant changes, but he's been recognized as the model from "that one ad" in the paper; it fills him with accomplishment. Some of it dwindles away when he realizes that he's still a simple librarian, but it's not his job that's the problem. He likes having a low-profile job, but his boss is constantly on his case about how he needs to choose between his "modeling career" and the current job he has. It was just one gig, he thinks to himself, too afraid to bring the point up to his boss, I'm not a real model.

He does admit that he looks rather flattering in Yoongi's photos, though.

"Namjoon's calling me," Hoseok states, tilting his head questioningly. He and Yoongi are huddled together on the couch, trying to share a rather small blanket.

"Answer it," Yoongi says around a mouthful of food, not taking his eyes off the television.

Hoseok swipes into the call, holding the phone up to his ear. "Hello?"

"Hoseok? I have a question for you," Namjoon says on the other side of the phone. "Well. For both you and your friend, ah..."

"Yoongi?" he offers, causing the other man to break his unblinking eye contact with the television and stare at Hoseok.

"Min Yoongi, yes. The photographer," Namjoon agrees, "I saw his advertisement, and I was wondering if he was interested in taking my engagement photos."

Hoseok lights up, looking over to Yoongi with a smile that spreads from ear-to-ear. "He's sitting next to me as we speak, actually," he explains, giving his friend the notion to channel his businessman-like self. Yoongi swallows his food prematurely, sending him into a coughing fit; Hoseok covers his mouth to keep from snorting. "I'll give the phone to him right now," he says, teasing his older friend, whose eyes go wide.

"T-This is Min Yoongi," he stammers into the phone as he takes it, his eyes getting teary as he tries not to cough.

"Yes, as I was saying to Hoseok," Namjoon says, his tone unchanging, "can we set up a time for my engagement photos? It's not ridiculously urgent, but is sometime this week a possibility?"

"Of course," Yoongi responds, giving Hoseok a nod, "would this Friday work for you? 5:30 p.m.?"

"I get off work at five, so that should work. If I can get your number, I can give you more details," Namjoon reminds him; Yoongi proceeds to offer up his phone number and ends the call in a professional manner.

The seriousness is lost within seconds; Hoseok throws his arms up in celebration and Yoongi lets out a whooping cry of excitement. "Oh my god," he exclaims, "I'm Kim Namjoon's photographer. The Kim Namjoon, richest 27 year old on Earth."

"We're gonna be rich, too, hyung," Hoseok declares, swinging his arms to wrap around his friend, giving him a congratulatory squeeze.

It takes Yoongi a couple seconds to return the hug; he's yet again sent into shock due to the way Hoseok shines so brightly.

They break apart and the younger man is still sitting there with an ear-splitting grin; Yoongi is forced to look away and focuses on whatever show is playing on the television.

Seriously, that heart-shaped smile is going to be the death of him.

 


 

Yoongi buys a new stand with the extra money he's earned from his clients; he needs this appointment to be special. Not only does he need to prove to his former classmate that he wasn't just some uneducated nobody with a camera (he kind of was, but Namjoon doesn't have to know that), but it has to go well so he can get extra recognition from the well-known CEO.

He also had a session with Hoseok, who taught him everything he knew about both Namjoon and his fiancé. "Park Jimin," he'd said, "you need to remember that name. Namjoon's head over heels for the kid."

Park Jimin isn't really a "kid," Yoongi learns, he just seems like one; the man is twenty five years old and somehow still shorter than him (maybe by a centimeter, but that's not important).

"Hello," the man greets energetically, "you must be Yoongi. I'm Park Jimin; nice to meet you!"

"You too," he says, trying to feign excitemen as he takes Jimin's hand and shakes it, "are you and Namjoon ready?"

Jimin nods, stiffening in his white suit that probably costs more than the worth of Yoongi's entire life. "Yes, I think he's just putting the finishing touches on his hair," he explains, rolling his eyes. "My Joonie, always overdoing everything. He's too much, really."

Yoongi pauses before he realizes that he's supposed to respond. (Too much time away from the outside world has really affected him.) "I haven't seen him since college," he points out.

"You went to college together? Wow, he never told me that."

Of course he didn't. Yoongi's embarrassment shows as his cheeks and ears fill with color. "Ah," he sighs, playing with the camera stand in his hands, "we weren't really close, so that makes sense. I'm not even sure if he remembers me."

Jimin shakes his head, "Well, he has a terrible memory, if it makes you feel better. Sometimes, he can't even remember my birthday." His hand shoots up and he waves to someone behind Yoongi (most likely Namjoon), urging him over. "I can't believe I'm getting married to him."

The park that the two fiancés have chosen is so quiet that Yoongi only sees one other person during their session. He understands the simplicity; Namjoon also shares that their wedding will be small. Many of his relatives chose to ignore the fact that he's getting married to a man, including his own mother. Yoongi's sympathetic, so he tells them that he will support their marriage the best he can.

As Jimin flips through the photos, a sweet, wondrous smile slowly spreads across his face and stays there the entire time. With almost every new picture of him and Namjoon, he giggles; his fiancé rubs his temple in a mock tired manner as he sorts out the costs with Yoongi.

Namjoon quickly and efficiently counts the stack of bills as he faces Yoongi. A really fucking huge stack of bills. "That's seven hundred thousand won," he says, voice dropping low as he hands the photographer the money. "I could never thank you enough for this. Jimin and I looked for someone like you for weeks, and he was getting discouraged over how often we were shut down."

"Wait, Namjoon," Yoongi interrupts, fingering through the money in his hand, "you can't give me all of this, it's crazy. This was the easiest job of my life; my work isn't worth this much."

Namjoon smiles then, taking his eyes away from Yoongi and focusing on his fiancé, who is still looking through all of the photos with undivided attention. The tall man sighs contently, gazing at Jimin with such adoration that Yoongi feels his own heart swell a little.

"Trust me, it's worth it. I hope you can understand that someday," he insists.

Yoongi doesn't put up a fight.

 

"You were so right about us becoming rich," Yoongi's rough voice echoes around his apartment the second he steps foot into it, "you'll never believe how much I got from Mr. CEO and his bubbly little fiancé, Hoseok." He takes his shoes off, setting them on the doormat in an orderly fashion. "Hoseok?"

"I'm here, hyung," he hears a voice say, most likely coming from the bathroom. "Give me a second, okay?"

"Okay," Yoongi responds, mostly to himself. He pockets the money and flops down onto the couch, beginning to flip through channels like he always does.

Hoseok emerges from the bathroom, pulling a shirt over his head. His hair is disheveled and he yawns rather loudly before he collapses onto the rickety couch next to the other man. "Long day at the library," he describes sarcastically, "I had to tell three people to stop talking. Three, Yoongi. That's absurd."

Yoongi laughs, showing off his gums in an endearing way. "I bet," he agrees. "I hope it wasn't too unbearable, because I was thinking we could go out to eat tonight." The money widens Hoseok's eyes when he takes it out of his pocket, "Look at this. Seven hundred thousand won for one gig."

"Damn," Hoseok swears uncharacteristically, eyes still saucers, "we really should go out."

Yoongi hasn't worn attention-grabbing clothing for such a long time that he instantly feels uncomfortable the moment he and Hoseok sit down at the restaurant. His circular glasses (they're fake lenses) sit on the bridge of his nose, digging divots into his skin. His jeans feel much too tight and he can't help but play with the sleeves of his sweater while they wait for their food. Usually, he's decked out in a simple t-shirt and sweatpants; this is a lot of change for him to undergo.

Hoseok, meanwhile, is wearing a leather jacket that reflects the dim lights of the restaurant into Yoongi's eyes (the gleam is still nothing compared to his smile). He owns a wider variety of clothing than the older man, but that isn't a surprise. Even his ripped jeans cause Yoongi to wonder about where he got the money for this type of wardrobe.

"How'd the two beaus seem? I've never met Jimin before, was he as wonderful as Namjoon's told me?" Hoseok inquires, glancing up from his glass of water that he's been stirring with a straw for the past five minutes. "I've heard a lot about him; I just don't know whether the big guy's too smitten or if Park Jimin really is a fallen angel."

"I spoke more to Namjoon, but from what I understand," Yoongi taps his chin in thought, "it's the latter."

"Really?" Hoseok raises his eyebrows, still stirring his water. "I hope they're happy."

"I don't think I've seen anyone happier," Yoongi says with a sigh. "It just gives me a shove into reality, though; I haven't had a girlfriend since college, and my classmates are getting married. College, Hoseok," he whines, pressing his cheek into the palm of his hand innocently.

"Well," Hoseok says, one side of his mouth tweaking upwards, "that's rather sad. Maybe it's the hair? I don't know too many grown men with pink hair." He stops playing with the ice in his drink to focus on the older man, still smirking, "Min Yoongi, are you a virgin?"

Yoongi snorts loudly. "God, Hoseok, you've got to be joking. Me, a virgin?" he chuckles then; the first real one in a while. "I'm not any more of a virgin than you are."

Hoseok's laugh is rather high-pitched on normal circumstances, but the sound he makes now is something Yoongi's not equipped to deal with. His mouth his open and he can see each and every perfect white tooth that's exposed. He notices a little beauty mark on his top lip with a closer look; he doesn't know how he hasn't seen it before.

The restaurant suddenly seems rather hot.

"That was a low blow," Hoseok snorts, wiping a tear from his eye, "I just got out of a breakup, you know."

"I know, I wasn't trying-" he tries to apologize, but Hoseok shakes his hands with a reassuring smile.

"Don't worry, hyung, I'm over it. Staying with you is much better, anyways," he encourages without a second thought; the words mean a lot more to Yoongi than they do to him.

Did Hoseok just imply that I'm better than his ex-girlfriend? Yoongi wonders, feeling the warmth creep up his neck. "You... You really think that?"

"Of course!" he exclaims, giving Yoongi another huge smile, "I mean, you're buying me dinner; I constitute that as a date."

Jung Hoseok doesn't know his damage.

Yoongi analyzes his statement for any type of teasing tone; he can't find one. The heat from the back of his neck spreads to his face and he pushes his glasses up higher on his nose as sweat begins to bead on his forehead. "Ah," he breathes, fidgeting his hands together, "I guess you're right."

Hoseok bursts out laughing yet again and Yoongi curses himself for being so downright embarrassing. "The look on your face," he jokes, "god, if only I had your camera."

Yoongi wants to ditch the restaurant and leave Hoseok to pay his own damn bill for toying with his feelings. "Very funny," he says, deadpan, "you're acting real grown up right now."

"Our food's here, hyung."

God.

 


 

With the help of Namjoon, Yoongi becomes rather popular; he gets calls from clients so often now that it's tiring. He never thought that he'd have to work so much until he gets sick of photography, but the sessions he has often times lead him to shoot pictures of basic weddings, products to be sold, and even school photos. He'd much rather be using his eye for fine art, but this is the price he must pay, he supposes. So, he keeps his personal pictures in a portfolio that he hides beneath his bed. (Hoseok's modeling photos may or may not be included in said portfolio.)

The daily meal of instant ramyeon is beginning to cease; the two roommates finally have enough to pay for real meals. Hoseok spends his days at home learning to cook various foods, and Yoongi comes home from work to be met with a five-course meal more times than not. (They really act like a married couple, he thinks.)

"How's the library? You never talk about it anymore," Yoongi asks, genuinely interested. He wonders if Hoseok feels inferior due to the popularity he's been receiving lately; hopes he doesn't.

It takes him a long time to respond, but Yoongi doesn't know exactly why. He's picking at something on his skin as they sit together on the couch as they often do, but he's never this quiet.

"You okay?" Yoongi asks, concerned.

"Just a little tired is all," Hoseok responds, blinking slowly as he stares at the skin he's trying to pick away. "Work's fine. It's been going slow lately, so maybe that's why I'm tired."

Hoseok's answers are so... Not Hoseok that Yoongi's eyebrows furrow in concern and he reaches over to pull the man's hands away from pulling away his sensitive skin. "Are you sure? You feel really hot, do you have a fever?"

"It's fine, hyung," Hoseok mumbles, his eyelids drooping so low that his dark eyes are hardly visible, "just tired, remember?"

The television is shut off with urgency and Yoongi presses the back of his hand against Hoseok's forehead, pulling back almost instantly as if he's been burned. "Fuck, Hoseok, you're burning up," he sputters, frantically looking around the room for his bottle of Advil that usually helps him with hangover headaches. "Just--Just wait here, okay? I'll be right back," he says, turning on his heel and racing toward the bathroom.

I'm overreacting, he tells himself as he filters through the lacking medicine cabinet, it's just a fever. He locates the Advil and snatches it from the shelf, nearly tripping over himself as he makes his way back to the couch.

He finds that Hoseok has fallen asleep in the short time he was gone. His face is blissful enough that Yoongi decides not to wake him; instead, he gathers blankets from his bed and covers his sleeping roommate with one. His pillow is thrown down next to the couch and he settles himself there so he can make sure Hoseok is okay; the near intolerability of the floor is no match for the concern he holds for the younger man.

It's a long night, but Yoongi doesn't care. Hoseok has never been this sick in the time he's been staying with Yoongi, so he has to make sure of his safety. It's his duty as the older of them, he tells himself, but really, he wants to be close to Hoseok as he sleeps.

That's not weird or anything. Not at all.

 


 

Hoseok is recovering from his fever rather slowly. If he's recovering at all, that is.

But it's just a light fever.

At least, that's what he tells Yoongi.

The latter has cancelled several of his appointments to stay home, much to Hoseok's chagrin. He swears that he's fine; promises that it's getting better. Yoongi wonders if the dank apartment is affecting his health and asks if he wants to get some fresh air. He denies.

Yoongi attempts to cook for him, making sad excuses for soups that are supposed to be easy for Hoseok to eat. He tells the older man that it's the thought that counts and doesn't eat them.

"Hoseok, I'm taking you to a fuckin' doctor," he mentions one day as he walks in on him with a cigarette in his mouth.

He turns around slowly, smoke floating towards the ceiling as he goes. "Please don't, hyung. I'm well enough just being here," he says, attempting to smile, veiling the truth behind it.

Yoongi finally breaks.

"You dumbass, you've been sick for days and you're smoking? For fuck's sake," Yoongi runs his hands through his hair, "Hoseok. You're so sick that you can't even leave the house but you can light a cigarette?"

"It helps," he weakly insists, turning his back to Yoongi. "I'm an adult, Yoongi. I can take care of myself."

"Fine. Die here in this room, if that's what you want. I'm through trying to help," he snaps, slamming the door to the guest room shut so he doesn't have to hear Hoseok's response. "Fuck," he mutters to himself, squeezing his eyes shut so tight that he sees stars for a second. "Fuck, fuck, fuck," the words match with his footsteps as he walks down the hallway to his own room, collapsing backwards onto the bed. The headache builds up like a hurricane, but he can't do anything about it. Headaches turn to migraines, and Yoongi squints at the ceiling to admire how the lights becomes fuzzy.

He falls asleep that way. Hoseok peeks into his room and makes sure he's sleeping before hazily making his way to the bathroom to observe small bruises that litter his body.

 


 

Things are difficult between Hoseok and Yoongi, to say the least.

Hoseok tries to act as though nothing happened. Yoongi can't play along.

He still hasn't apologized.

So he drowns himself in his work, sometimes staying away from the apartment for days at a time. Hoseok misses Yoongi like hell, but he doesn't tell him; thinks it's better not to.

"Nice doing business with you," his client says, shaking Yoongi's hand. "I'm glad you could come all the way out here, Mr. Min."

Yoongi smiles his fake smile that he uses for clients. "It's not that far," he lies, placing his Nikon D2400 back in its case.

"It's almost three hours away; that isn't far for you?" the woman inquires, raising one of her eyebrows.

"No," he responds, shrugging his shoulders. "I've been out farther; anything for my clientele."

It is too far. It's too far from his apartment, from his favorite liquor store. Too far from Hoseok.

The woman doesn't ask any more questions, blissfully appeased and unaware.

The drive home is quiet and lonely. Yoongi cranks up the radio, but the lyrics wrap around his heart and pull on the strings. Something about a pretty smile that melts hearts; he finds it rather ironic. As the streetlights whiz past, Yoongi grips the steering wheel until his knuckles turn sheet white. The woman's questions from earlier twist around in his head, forcing him to think about them (which is rather dangerous when he has full control of a car).

Of course he misses Hoseok.

"God," he scowls, "what the fuck is wrong with me?"

Yoongi finds Hoseok in the guest bedroom (it was really just a walk-in closet before they shoved a mattress in it), nearly asleep. When he sees the older man, he visibly shrinks back into the blanket he's wrapped in; Yoongi clenches his fists tightly at the notion. He notices the blood that trails from Hoseok's nose to his chin before he can hide it.

"I'm sorry, Hoseok."

He blinks absentmindedly for a couple seconds before standing up from the bed, shrugging the blanket up around his shoulders. It trails behind him as he walks across the room towards Yoongi.

"I know," he says, leaning forward to rest his head on his friend's shoulder, his sweat and blood leaving an imprint on Yoongi's t-shirt. "I'm sorry, too."

He almost responds with I love you, but he holds his tongue and wraps his arms around Hoseok and pulls him closer, making known his forgiveness. He shouldn't be the one forgiving, but Jung Hoseok is so damn selfless that he only perceives his own mistakes; Yoongi swears that this man can't be human.

Hoseok steps back, wiping his eyes with his bare arm, the blanket falling from his shoulders. "You might wanna clean that shirt, hyung," he says, tilting his head toward the stain on Yoongi's shirt.

"You really put your blood, sweat, and tears into that hug, huh?" he tries to tease, knowing how terrible it is, but he earns a smile from Hoseok.

"That was the worst joke I've ever heard," he responds with a short-lived laugh.

The thought of why Hoseok's nosebleed even occurred completely slips his mind.

 


 

"Is it okay if I have you model again?" Yoongi asks.

"I've been sick for a week, Yoongi. Why would you want to use me as a model?" Hoseok replies, picking his head up off his roommate's shoulder.

"You got me here in the first place," he says, "I would still be eating instant ramyeon for every meal if it weren't for you."

Hoseok visibly blushes (which is a rare sight) and smiles brightly at his friend. Yoongi wonders how he's able to maintain that glow despite his sickness. "If you really want to," he affirms, gently brushing his fingers across Yoongi's arm, causing him to shudder.

He thinks it's obvious how he feels about Hoseok, but the latter is rather oblivious. So he buries his feelings deep within, trying to keep them hidden the best he can.

"I feel like I should hire you as a regular," he admits as he snaps another photo of Hoseok. The younger man is draped across their barren couch, wearing a simple sweater and gym shorts. Yoongi said that he was capturing their "penury." Hoseok had tried to argue, but he was shut down.

"When you asked to use me as a model, I was expecting a bit more than this," he mumbles, tilting his blank face towards the camera. "Our last photoshoot was a bit more professional, don't you think?"

"Ah, be quiet," Yoongi retorts, listening to the click that his camera makes as another picture is taken. "Y'know, theres a bigger picture to this; I'm gonna get us out of this worthless apartment real soon. We'll be living like kings, then," he smiles at the thought, "and the next photoshoot, you'll be decked out in Gucci shit, sitting on our designer couch made of velvet. Think about it, Hoseok. I'll be a world-renowned photographer and you'll be my elegant model."

Hoseok can't hold on to his stone-faced facade. He grins with the harnessed power of the sun at Yoongi, who immediately captures the moment with his Nikon D2400. "Hey," he giggles, covering his mouth, "I broke character."

"New theme: money can't buy happiness," Yoongi comments, feeling a smile spread across his own face.

The two laugh together for a while, forgetting about their rather dire situation. Forgetting that Hoseok is sick, forgetting that Yoongi spends too much money on alcohol. Forgetting that it's only been two days since they "made up."

"Just one more, okay?" Yoongi says, sitting on the ground to change the position of the photo. "This is going to be a weird request, but... Can you take your sweater...off?" He can feel the heat spreading to his ears and cheeks. It's art, he tells himself, I'm not just telling Hoseok to take off his sweater for my own pleasure.

It's a hard statement to believe.

Hoseok shifts on the couch, suddenly clamming up. "I..." he begins, "I guess, if you want me to."

The sweater is on the floor in several minutes; Yoongi doesn't think he's ever seen it take such a long time to take off one article of clothing.

When Hoseok covers his body with his arms, Yoongi knows something's wrong. Evidently the bare chest idea was idiotic in the first place, but Hoseok used to prance around the apartment nearly naked; he's never been self-conscious like this.

"Hey, it's okay if you don't want to do this," Yoongi assures him, placing his camera on the floor and standing, causing Hoseok to snap his head up to stare at him with fear in his eyes. The older man stumbles back at the expression, furrowing his eyebrows in confusion; this isn't Hoseok.

"Hyung," he whispers, broken, as he lifts his arms to uncover bare skin riddled with bruises.

Yoongi then trips backwards; the air is knocked out of him. He sits up, sucking in a breath of air as if to say something, but deciding against it (or maybe nothing comes to the surface). His eyes dart around the blue-black marks that blemish Hoseok's dark skin, his path of sight like a horrific, heartbreaking game of connect the dots, also noticing how his ribs make themselves known when he breathes.

This isn't Hoseok.

"Is... Is it a girl? Are you with s-someone?" Yoongi stutters; it'd be the best-case scenario, but he doubts it. Hoseok wouldn't keep something like that from him. (Would he?) Either way, the older man's heart is tearing, tearing, tearing itself apart.

"No," he responds, voice hardly above a whisper, "I don't know, Yoongi. I don't know, but I couldn't tell you because then you'd take me to some doctor and all your hard-earned money would be wasted-"

"Shut up, Hoseok," Yoongi growls (somehow, it sounds gentle, even in the raspy tone), "shut the fuck up. We are going to the fucking hospital whether you like it or not." He finally regains feeling in his legs, standing up and walking to the door to yank his coat off the wall. "Right now," he almost scolds, making his way to the couch and helping Hoseok to his feet.

 

Yoongi hates the stares that he and Hoseok get in the emergency room.

Maybe they're valid; he was in such a hurry that he shoved Hoseok into his coat and left the house with nothing else. The younger man's upper body is still bare beneath the coat, and he wears gym shorts to cover his legs. Yoongi, on the other hand, only has his t-shirt and sweatpants on; even his feet are nearly bare with nothing on them but a pair of slip-on sandals.

No matter. He still feels the urge to strangle everyone who wants to stare.

"I can't fuckin' believe this," he mutters, "apparently the combination of a high fever and random bruises on your body isn't good enough for the goddamn nurses. What a joke."

"Yoongi, please calm down," Hoseok comforts him, resting a hand on his arm. "We just have to wait a while, okay? It's not like they turned us away."

Yoongi shrugs himself out of Hoseok's touch. "I wouldn't be so worked up if we would've come here sooner," he snaps, leaning his cheek against his hand in the opposite direction of the younger man. The latter doesn't respond; he buries his face into the coat he's wearing (it's Yoongi's) and stares at the doors, waiting for a nurse to emerge.

The silence is too much for Yoongi.

"Fuck," he curses, rubbing his temple between his fingers, "why did you keep this from me, Hoseok?"

No answer.

"Please, Hoseok. This is a huge fucking deal-"

"I didn't want you to worry."

Yoongi wants to slap Hoseok across his beautiful face.

"This isn't about me," Yoongi scolds, turning to face the younger man, "it's never been about me. You're the-"

His sentence trails off as a nurse opens the double doors, looking around the waiting room. "Jung Hoseok?" she calls, her eyes landing on Yoongi when he stands up from his chair.

"Come on," he says, taking Hoseok's hand absentmindedly and assisting him as they walk through the foreboding double doors.

Yoongi doesn't let go of Hoseok's hand until they're told that he has to go to a separate room, and Yoongi isn't allowed to follow. The nurse apologizes, placing her small hand against the younger man's back and leading him away from Yoongi. He feels Hoseok's hand slip away from his own, instantly experiencing a chill spread through his bones. They don't break eye contact until Hoseok and the nurse disappear around the corner; Yoongi releases a breath that he didn't realize he'd been holding in.

Standing in the middle of the hall, Yoongi feels rather out of place. He doesn't know exactly what's going to happen with Hoseok, but the absence is a crushing weight on him.

He collapses onto one of the chairs that line the white walls of the hospital. Attempting to close his eyes, Yoongi starts hating the damn walls; they're too bright. I hate this place, he thinks, I'm getting Hoseok out of here the second I see him.

Despite the bright walls shining through the cracks in his eyes, he gets drowsy; he wonders what time it is, but doesn't have enough energy to open his eyes back up.

The nurses keep the suspicious looking pink-haired man on watch as he sleeps, just in case.

 


 

Yoongi's night sleep only lasts for two hours before his eyes are fluttering back open.

For a moment, he wonders why he isn't waking up to the smell of Hoseok's cooking; instead, he smells iodoform mixed with something metallic.

He lifts his head, blinking a couple times. Not a single person is around, not even a nurse. Good, he thinks, I was getting tired of the stares.

As ten minutes pass, he starts fidgeting in his chair. He wonders what Hoseok's going through; how long until they'll be home? What kind of fever does the younger man have? What-

"Sir?" a nurse says, a young woman this time, walking towards Yoongi. "You are here with Jung Hoseok, yes?"

"Y-Yeah," he stumbles over his words, lifting himself from the chair and meeting the nurse with a solid handshake. "Min Yoongi, his-" he pauses for a crucial second, "roommate."

The nurse looks down at her clipboard; Yoongi notices the way she's gnawing at her lip.

"I have the diagnosis of Mr. Jung," she says, trying to be businesslike. Yoongi suspects she's rather new here, judging by the way she's outwardly showing that the news isn't good.

"Yeah?" Yoongi snaps, narrowing his eyes at the nurse as she refuses to look back at him. "What'd you come up with, then?"

The nurse finally looks up from her clipboard, staring Yoongi in the face. "He has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia," she delivers, furrowing her eyebrows in an expression of mixed sympathy and sorrow.

Yoongi doesn't have to be a doctor to know what she's saying.

"It's a rare cancer of both the blood and bone marrow," she explains, but Yoongi isn't listening, he can't listen, his hands are shaking and he's going to strangle this damn nurse-

"I know this information is a lot to handle, being so sudden," she tries to say, but Yoongi cuts her off as he sinks onto his knees, throwing his head into his hands. "I'm very sorry, sir."

"Let me see him."

The nurse takes a step back, surprised by the stoic tone of this man who is so out of place. "I can't let you do that yet," she responds, "but maybe in an hour or two-"

"Let me fucking see him!" Yoongi cries, gathering himself off the floor and knocking the woman's clipboard out of her hand. "Let me see him, god, I need to be in that room with him," he growls, tightening his fists together around thin air.

"I'm sorry," she apologizes again, bringing her pager up to her mouth and whispering something that sounds a lot like "security" into it. As she bends down to pick up her fallen clipboard, she watches the man grab hold of the chair he had been sitting in and wrench it across the hallway, flinching as it hits the wall with a thud. "Sir, please calm down, you're going to disturb the patients-"

"To hell with them!" he shouts, blinded by his own uncontrollable rage and helplessness, the scene he's making feeding to the emotions that swarm his head.

The outburst is short lived; his strength disappears just as soon as it had come, and Yoongi finds himself digging his forehead into the checkered hospital floor. "Please," he's suddenly begging, squeezing his eyes shut so tight that he's giving himself a headache. He balls his fists and strikes them weakly against the floor, "ma'am, I just need to see him."

There's hands under his arms. He's being picked up from the floor (probably by the security that the nurse called for earlier) and he opens his eyes to see the woman watching him being taken away with fear striking her youthful features. Yoongi digs his heels into the floor, trying to get the security guards to let go of him. It's a weak attempt.

He trips over himself as the two men lead him out of the elevator and towards the waiting room. "Sir, we need you to stay here for now," one tells him, but it goes into one ear and out the other. "Visiting hours are over. They open again at 1:00 p.m."

"What time is it?" Yoongi asks weakly, slumping over in a chair and holding his head in his hands.

"Three o'clock in the morning, sir."

He wants to protest, scream at the two men, demand to see Hoseok, but the words don't rise to the surface. Instead, the security guards take a pitiful look at this wreck of a man and leave him in the waiting room, alone except for a receptionist sitting at her desk half asleep.

Yoongi wishes he could enjoy something as blissful as sleep at a time like this.

 

He's been sitting in the same chair for so many hours he's lost count.

The clock ticks too slowly.

Somehow, he hasn't felt any tears slip from his eyes yet. Hoseok has a terminal illness, for fuck's sake, but he can't even cry. This is a new level of depression; his eyes are so bloodshot that, maybe, the reason he can't cry is because of how damn dry they are.

It can't be real; can't be true.

This is the second night he realizes Jung Hoseok deserves a lot more than what the world gives him.

Why didn't I notice sooner, he eats away at himself with his thoughts, this could have been prevented if I wasn't so fucking stupid. He rubs his tired eyes with equally tired hands, feeling his nostrils flare and his jaw quiver; the first signs of tears.

But none come.

Ever since Hoseok, the angel booted directly from heaven, landed in his apartment that night forever ago asking for ex-girlfriend help, Yoongi's been staying away from alcohol rather well. Hoseok would smack his hand if he ever saw his older friend drinking more than a can of soju every two days. They helped each other; Yoongi scolded Hoseok for his smoking habits and vice versa with Yoongi's alcoholism.

He thinks that he'll come crying back to alcohol the second he gets home.

His head is overflowing with unanswered questions; he got extremely limited information from the nurse (fuck her). How serious is Hoseok's situation? Will he have to stay at the hospital for the rest of his life?

How much longer will that life last?

The receptionist tilts her head at the pink-haired man as he violently smacks the heel of his hand against his forehead. "Sir?" she questions hesitantly (he's really getting tired of all the sirs), "are you okay?"

She doesn't deserve a response.

"When will I be able to get out of here?" he asks in a low growl, making the receptionist wonder whether he's talking to himself or her.

"Well, ah," she checks the clock, "visitation hours open in five hours."

"Can you make an exception?"

The receptionist fiddles with her necklace, running the request through her head. Sometimes she wonders if this job is truly what she wants; often times it makes her stomach queasy, having to deal with so many grieving family members and friends. Her eyes scrutinize the strange man (he looks young, probably only in his 20's) and she feels sympathetic, as she has many times before.

Instead of answering directly, she picks up the phone from her desk and speaks loud enough for Yoongi to hear her clearly. "What is your name?"

"Min Yoongi."

"Hello," she says into the phone, "I'm in the waiting room with Mr. Min."

 

Twenty minutes later, Yoongi is being escorted by the young nurse from earlier to Hoseok's room. The hallways are relatively quiet; he assumes that most of the patients are asleep. He thinks that Hoseok won't get a wink of sleep in this damn place, no matter how hard he tries.

The journey is rather awkward; the man doesn't seem the same as when she met him earlier. He's quiet now, walking with sloppy steps and an arched back. Again, she feels sorry for him. But this is part of her job.

"He won't be staying in this room for too long," she tells him, "just for the first round of blood transfusions. After that, we'll set him up with a roommate, one that is in a similar position as his. We've found that recovery is easier for some patients that way," she turns a corner, nodding toward an ominous door just a few steps down the new hall they've entered. "I'm sure it will be a long road for him," the nurse finishes, "but we will do all we can to ensure his safety."

Lies.

All for show.

Yoongi doesn't even take the time to thank the woman; he knows that none of this is her fault, but he's got to pin the blame on someone. It just happens to be her. "This room?" he whispers, lifting a finger to point at the door the nurse showed earlier. She nods.

The cold door's metal handle stings his hand, but maybe it's all in his head. Maybe this is all in his head.

When he opens the door to find a defeated version of Hoseok tangled in bed sheets and tubes, he knows it's real.

"Hyung," Hoseok blurts and smiles, sad, as he opens his limp eyes wider to see Yoongi in the doorway. Through thick and thin, his smile still stays radiant. Even at a time like this, the older man is made aware of how damn smitten he is for Jung Hoseok.

"Hoseok," he responds, voice breaking, stepping closer to the bed that he's laying on. "Fuck, Hoseok, I wanted to be here the entire time but they wouldn't let me, the bastards-"

"It's okay, Yoongi," he assures with a laugh; a real, genuine laugh that fills the menacing hospital room. "You're here now, right?"

One look at Hoseok's forgiving smile is all it takes for Yoongi to stumble forward to the side of the bed and fall to his knees, resting his head on the blankets that feel much too similar to rough paper.

This is when the tears finally appear.

Hoseok reaches out and softly rubs one of his hyung's shoulders with a ginger hand, listening to the heaving sobs he makes. "It's okay," he repeats, the smile disappearing from his face (it's contradicting), "I promise. I'll be out of here in no time, just wait. Tell my boss that I'm still alive and kicking; he can't fire me yet," he attempts to joke, earning nothing but another sob. "Yoongi," he whispers, removing his hand from his shoulder to lace his fingers with the older man's, "please don't cry."

He tries to stop, he really does; this is the most he's ever cried since high school. I shouldn't even be crying in the first place, he tells himself, I'm not the one with leukemia. But Min Yoongi is selfish.

So he cries and cries, until his eyelids meld shut and he slips into an unstable sleep with his head resting against Hoseok's bed and his fingers entwined with the sick man's.

 


 

The first blood transfusion is today.

The technical term is something Yoongi can't pronounce; all he knows is that it sorts and removes Hoseok's white blood cells before returning the rest of the blood to him. Which is the most basic of it that he can understand; the doctor explained it to him and he tried to listen, but it proved much too difficult. (He couldn't even pay attention in biology class, for fuck's sake.)

He also understands that there are two stages of chemotherapy that Hoseok must go through, but that's practically the extent of his knowledge. He's a photographer, not a doctor.

"You'll be okay," Yoongi tells Hoseok, giving his limp hand a squeeze. He probably needs a bit more reassurance himself than the actual patient, but nobody has to know that. Hoseok is strong; stronger than anyone he knows, so he's confident that this will go over well. "I can't be in the room, though, so I'll be waiting outside."

"Don't be gone too long," Hoseok reminds him, winking the best he can in his fatigued state. The fever still runs rampant in his body, mixing with the infected cells and making everything downright unbearable. But he powers through. A smile can go a long way, he learns.

When Yoongi's told to leave, he gives Hoseok's hand one last comforting hold before letting go.

That's the worst part about this whole thing, he thinks. Having to let go.

He has enough time to go home. His shitty car carries him all the way from the hospital to his apartment without breaking down; he assumes that's a good sign. The two are about fifteen minutes apart, which is too long in Yoongi's opinion. Maybe he'll start living at the hospital.

The Nikon D2400 sits on his bedside table where he always leaves it. Though he's had to shuffle around a few shoots due to the mess with Hoseok, money pours in as steadily as ever. He thinks about how he promised Hoseok the chance to live in a brand new house, the same night they went to the emergency room for his bruises.

That promise feels empty now.

When he arrives back at the hospital, equipped with his camera, Hoseok is so drowsy that he can't recognize Yoongi at first. The nurse tells him that it's his roommate (because that's all they are, right?) here to visit him. At that, his face lights up the all too dark scrubbed white hospital room and he smiles. "Ah," he slurs, "my knight in shining armor."

Yoongi captures the moment with his camera. It will last longer than a memory that way; and he wants to remember this forever.

"My prince," he responds uncharacteristically sweetly, taking one of Hoseok's hands in his own and kissing the surface. He knows he's tarnishing himself, but he'll throw away his image of the stone-cold man who nearly killed Nurse Ahn in a heartbeat if it's for Hoseok. At the action, the younger man flat-out giggles and sends his beaming smile Yoongi's way.

The nurse simply wonders if there's something more to these "roommates" than what meets the eye.

 


 

Jeon Jeongguk, Hoseok's new roommate at the hospital, is even younger than Yoongi could have imagined. When Nurse Ahn told him that Hoseok would get a room with another patient, he had his doubts; it didn't really make sense to him why they'd put two already-suffering patients into a room together, possibly irritating each other in the process. Turns out, Jeongguk works better than any type of treatment Hoseok's getting; every time Yoongi comes to visit (which is at least twice a day), the sick man is laughing so hard he may cry.

Jeon Jeongguk is 23 and diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

He's been subject to chemo for about a year now; things had been looking up for him, but a sudden change in contaminated cell growth caused the progress to come crashing down to the ground. The boy has a big nose and large, round eyes to match, along with three piercings in his left ear. He also has a lack of hair, due to the chemotherapy.

Yoongi adds the young boy to his prayers at night.

Though he and Hoseok get along rather well, he tends to clam up any time Yoongi's around.

As Yoongi sits next to his friend, he tells him about all the jobs he's had to accomplish on an empty stomach; in return, Hoseok complains about the hospital food. "I swear, my theory is that they get the same delivery as the prison," he whines, tapping the older man on the shoulder. "Do you think you could bring me some take-out? Y'know, from that place we would always go to?"

Yoongi smiles, his eyes wrinkling softly. "Of course, Hoseok. Just remember that if you want anything, really anything at all, you can call me, okay?"

Before Hoseok can respond, the other patient in the room clears his throat. "Um," the boy mumbles, "do you think I could get an order of whatever Hobi's having, too?" he asks, looking up from his phone with pleading doe eyes. "Ah, please," he adds quickly, remembering his manners. (Hoseok's friend looks pretty old; he supposes he has to be extra careful around him.)

"Hobi?" Yoongi questions, looking to Hoseok for an answer.

"Oh, that's just a nickname Jeongguk uses for me. Cute, right?" he smiles and says something that sounds a lot like "hobi" in a high-pitched voice that catches Yoongi off guard. He takes the older man's hand into his own, causing a deep blush to spread across his pale face. And if that wasn't enough, he moves his mouth close to Yoongi's ear and whispers, "Please, hyung? Maybe this will get him to open up. I'll make it up to you."

"O-Of course," he stumbles, breathing heavily at the sound of Hoseok's sly words in his ear.

"Yay! Hear that, Jeonggukkie? Don't tell Nurse Ahn," Hoseok pulls away from Yoongi and claps his slender hands, smiling brightly at the older man. "We love you, Yoongi," he says, nonchalant, leaving his friend as pink as his hair for the umpteenth time. Hoseok really doesn't understand how well he can get under Yoongi's skin; in fact, he thinks that he could make the latter do his biddings with zero effort.

Once again, Yoongi has to catch himself from saying "I love you."

Jeongguk giggles at Hoseok's friend, wondering if that's truly what they are. (Just friends.)

 


 

Yoongi loved the color of Hoseok's hair.

It was a relatively solid shade of black, kept brushed away from his forehead when he wanted to look the part for his job at the library. Back when they used to sit on his old couch and talk with the television turned on for background noise, Yoongi would run his hand through the soft locks as Hoseok slept, sometimes finding strands of brown tucked away from a time when the man was wild enough to dye his hair. Of course, it was no match for Yoongi and his receding hairline due to all the bleaching of his own hair; Hoseok still pokes fun at his bald spots. (Even Jeongguk joins in occasionally.)

Yoongi has been too busy to visit for almost three days; he can hardly focus on the task at hand when he is out working. Nurse Ahn reminds him not to run in the hallways, and he tries to slow down but his feet carry him away, eagerly ready to see Hoseok. He can't help but smile at the thought of the younger man and his glowing self.

Now, as he pushes the door open to Hoseok's room, his eyes land on the man in the bed (as they usually do); but it's different this time.

Hoseok has lost his hair to the chemotherapy.

Nurse Ahn stands behind him in the doorway, tapping his shoulder. "Mr. Min," she whispers (they're acquainted now, both moved on from the fact that he almost strangled her), "I know I warned you about the chemotherapy, but don't be alarmed nonetheless. Hoseok is fine, just asleep."

"Okay," he mumbles, only halfheartedly listening to the nurse's words. Stumbling into the room, Yoongi attracts the attention of Jeongguk, but not Hoseok. Jeongguk, with those eyes as wide as ever, knots his eyebrows together at how concerned Hoseok's friend is; he knows it's because of the difference in his appearance.

He pulls the blanket from over his weary legs, pushing himself out of his bed that's more of a jail cell than anything. His bare feet don't register the tile floor of the room as he walks to Yoongi, offering a shoulder for the older (but shorter) man to cry on. "It's okay, hyung," he whispers, blinking soft eyes at him. "His hair will grow back, I know it. I mean, mine is," he smiles, showing off big teeth that hardly fit in his mouth, running a hand over the short hairs on his head. It's more of a buzzcut, now; after the crash and burn of his earlier treatment, hope is slowly returning.

"It's not his hair I'm worried about," Yoongi says, more to himself, unfocused on anything but his friend, asleep in the bed. "I just want things to be the way they were, Jeongguk."

"I know how it is," he agrees, reaching out to place his hand on Yoongi's shoulder. "Never thought I'd say this, but I miss my professors," he smiles again, wistful and comforting.

Yoongi smiles, too. He gives the same gesture to the boy, and they stand together, watching over the sick man with something akin to pain in their melancholy hearts.

 


 

"I need to get out of here," Hoseok mentions, toying with his discolored hands that are placed in his lap. "Will you get me outside, my knight?"

"We take walks around the building every time I visit," Yoongi responds, yawning; it's past midnight and the hospital is quiet.

"No, no," Hoseok shakes his head, "I mean, outside. Fresh air, hyung. It's been forever." He swings his head towards the window past Jeongguk's bed, staring at the outdoors he'll never experience the same way again. "Just you and me; not even Jeongguk around."

Yoongi reaches for Hoseok's hand, noticing the way it slips into his vast palm easier than before; he's lost a lot of weight. With a squeeze, Yoongi assures his friend that somehow, some way, he'll get him outside to experience the cold autumn air. "It's cold outside, y'know. Just a warning-"

"Describe it to me," Hoseok interrupts, still looking out the window.

"Well..." Yoongi begins, trying to think using the artistic side of his brain. He captures the weather constantly with his Nikon D2400; in fact, it's one of his favorite things to take pictures of. He loves the sky, the trees, the rain, how it all blends together and makes a perfect image, and he knows Hoseok loves it too. Instead of delving into the request, Yoongi shakes his head with embarrassment, knowing his description would be vague and the exact opposite of poetic. "You've been here for three months, Hoseok. Why do you need me to explain what the weather is like?"

In an instant, Hoseok's face becomes downcast. "I miss it," he says, letting the thoughts within his head be known. "I miss everything, Yoongi." He sighs, pulling his hand away from the other man's slowly (much to his despair). With the same hand, he goes to worriedly comb through his hair, meeting nothing but the skin of his bare head. A pained laugh breaches the noiseless room as Hoseok's head falls into his hands. "I forgot," he says simply, shoulders beginning to shake.

Finally, Yoongi sees right through the selfess exterior of Jung Hoseok.

"Hoseok, listen to me," he tries to say, his own eyes glossing over. "I... I'll get you outside. Just-" getting up from his chair, Yoongi trips over himself and grabs onto the door handle for support. "Just let me check to see if anyone's out here." He pulls the door open inch by inch, checking for Nurse Ahn (or any nurse, really). With nobody else in sight, Yoongi looks back at Hoseok, whose mood has improved considerably over the few moments that have passed, urging him over. "C'mon, there's a courtyard two floors down. We can make it to the elevator and through the back hallways to get to it, that's the safest route."

"You sure know a lot about this hospital," Hoseok groans as he attempts to get up from the chair, cursing his feeble body and the mutated cells within. He makes his way to Yoongi, grabbing onto his hand tightly.

"I practically live here," he responds, holding onto Hoseok's hand and pulling him through the door, "this is my home almost as much as it is yours."

As they travel through the hallways, Yoongi leading the way, Hoseok feels freer than he has in months. His bare feet slap against the tile floor and his hospital gown opens at the chest, letting him feel the air against his weak body. He smiles, almost laughing as Yoongi shushes him (he's grinning, too) with a finger to his lips.

They make it to the elevator without raising much suspicion; Yoongi presses the button to take them to the first floor, where the courtyard awaits. The back hallways are like abandoned catacombs; especially at such a late time. Yoongi knows Nurse Ahn will have his head if she finds out that he took Hoseok out, but he needs this.

Really, really needs this.

They pass a room the second a nurse emerges; Yoongi pulls Hoseok down a different hallway just in time. "Okay," he says, out of breath, "we're almost there. You need a rest?"

But Hoseok is so alive that he can't even respond.

Their hands are still clasped together tightly; neither of them want to let go. Consequences slip their minds and the forgotten, youthful feeling of teenage rebellion flows through their veins. Hoseok's cheeks are flushed from both adrenaline and the strain he's putting on his body, but he doesn't mind. Yoongi is still breathing pretty hard, despite being the healthier of the two; it's embarrassing.

"Look," Yoongi whispers, poking his head out from the conjoined hallway, "it's clear again."

This time, Hoseok is the one tugging Yoongi along the sleepy hallways, filling the place with exactly what it's lacking: hope.

"Which way?" he breathes, urging Yoongi to take the lead. Without a sound, they turn one more corner and are met with the doors to freedom; only one nurse, clad in the basic uniform, stands in their way. She's fiddling with some paperwork stacked on a clipboard, one that Yoongi will be seeing in his head even on his deathbed. As she turns around, Yoongi realizes that their journey has come to an end: Nurse Ahn looks straight through him and at Hoseok. Her eyes slowly move lower, noticing how the two men are locked together by their hands.

"Yoongi..." she sighs, disappointed, "I don't know what you're doing, but I can't stop you." Her concerned eyes change, closing upwards as she smiles, "And I think Hoseok is happier than I've ever seen him."

Yoongi feels the way Hoseok jolts when his fragile fingers tighten around his own, but it only lasts a second (one that he can't even keep track of). "Thank you," the younger man says, tipping his head forwards in appreciation. "I promise we'll be back to the room in no time."

"Yes," she responds, walking past them, "Jeongguk probably misses you two. Whatever it is, be quick. I'll keep you off the grid as best as I can," she winks once before disappearing around the hallway they came from.

Two angels sent from heaven to bless Min Yoongi, a sinner of high status. Three, if Jeongguk's counted.

(He guesses it's compensation for such struggles he's experienced; maybe god overdid it with the heaven-sends. Who knows, really.)

For Hoseok, the cold air runs through his bones and reminds him that he's still alive. In comparison, Yoongi shivers and curses, clamping his hand on Hoseok's tighter.

"Is it all you'd hoped it to be?" Yoongi asks, a smile tugging the corners of his mouth upwards. Hoseok takes the courtyard all in like he's never been outside in his life; his eyes appreciate things that Yoongi can't. All the latter sees is a small space, surrounded by walls on all sides, with nothing but a single tree lit by two streetlights that seem rather deformed. There's a bench that's located directly below said tree; it stings his legs when he sits on it and pats the spot next to him for Hoseok.

In Hoseok's eyes, the courtyard is an escape; a place to run away from the threatening cords and IVs that wrap around his neck from behind. He can forget here. Forget about the tiresome chemotherapy sessions, forget the hospital food that tastes akin to plastic, forget his troubles. The simplicity of it makes him laugh; Yoongi looks on with concern. He won't understand, Hoseok knows, but that's okay.

"Come sit," Yoongi says, scooting over even more to give Hoseok room.

As he sits, there's a sudden silence that only one of the men enjoy. "Are you okay with this, Yoongi?"

"What?"

"I mean," Hoseok shakes his head, looking up towards the sky, "this is why I never wanted to come here. When I got sick, y'know? Because I knew something bad would happen, and you're already so burdened, hyung, without my hospital bills and..." he trails off. Blinking once, he continues again, carrying a whole new tone in his weak voice. "I'm gonna die, Yoongi. You know that-"

"Stop," he interrupts, narrowing his eyes at the ground. "Don't say that, Hoseok. Please."

"It's too much for you. Just when you were getting the recognition you deserved, huh? Seriously," Hoseok mumbles, absentmindedly running his index finger along Yoongi's palm.

"Forget about it, okay? I don't care about money, that shit's not important."

"I want to forget, too."

Lips chapped and dry, Yoongi presses them to Hoseok's.

There's no pull or press; Hoseok takes it without an initial response. His eyes aren't wide, rather hooded with his eyelashes clouding his vision, and his mouth stays open. With this reaction, Yoongi loses his burst of sudden bravery and shrinks back into himself, finally breaking contact with Hoseok's hand and pulling his own away to shove it between his thighs.

"Fuck," he mumbles, heat spreading through his body, contradicting the cold environment. He tries to speak, but is left with unintelligible words leaving his mouth in attempt to apologize. As he rambles, Hoseok's dazed expression finally shows something Yoongi can comprehend; a smile.

"Can you kiss me again, hyung?"

Yoongi takes up the offer.

 


 

"Yoongi?" Namjoon's voice says over the phone, "this is Kim Namjoon."

"Yeah, this is Yoongi," he responds, counting the money in his hands (he's just gotten back to the apartment after a long photoshoot) with a sigh. Still not enough for the medical bills.

"Hey," the voice greets, "how have you been? You and Hoseok?"

Again, Yoongi can do nothing but sigh.

The pause is too long; Yoongi's busy remembering that Namjoon and his fiancé are as close of friends to Hoseok as it gets. They still haven't heard. He's the only one who visits; Hoseok hasn't even called his own damn parents.

"Ah," Yoongi starts to say, "Hoseok?"

"Don't play dumb. He used to talk all about you, Yoongi; I know the two of you live together," Namjoon teases, and Yoongi can practically see the dimples when he smiles. "He just...stopped texting me all of a sudden, so I was wondering about him. You, too."

"He..." Yoongi doesn't want to lie. "He's fine. Just been getting busy at the library."

As a kid, lying was Yoongi's craft. He never lost the talent; lying's all he knows nowadays. Early memories as a con man run through his head, and he almost expects a sour taste in his mouth as the lie passes through, but there is none. Or, if there is, he's too used to it by now.

"I see. Maybe ask him to call or text once in awhile, okay?" Namjoon clears his throat, "but that's not the whole reason I called you. I know you're swamped, but... Jimin and I are in need of a photographer at our wedding."

For the first time in months, Yoongi feels the burden on his heart lift. He's nearly forgotten about his friend's marriage; he revolves around Hoseok so routinely that he's lost all contact of a social life. "Of course," he responds, smiling genuinely, "when is it?"

"Two weeks," Namjoon informs him, "November 28th. And," Yoongi hears the voice pause for a moment, "I'll pay for anything you need. Hoseok, too."

Oh, fuck.

"You-" Yoongi stutters, grabbing onto the kitchen counter for support, "you want Hoseok to come?"

"Well, of course. He's a friend of ours, isn't he?" Namjoon laughs, not understanding how dire the situation is.

"Of course," Yoongi mimics as a wheeze, leaning his body weight against the counter.

He realizes this is where his short-lived lie comes to an end.

"Namjoon," he sighs for the umpteenth time today, "I wasn't exactly telling the whole truth about Hoseok."

"What?"

Yoongi scrunches his eyes shut tightly, resting his tired head against the counter, his fading pink hair pressing marks into his forehead. He holds the phone so tightly he feels as though it may break; his knuckles go white. This is never news he wanted to deliver.

"He has leukemia, Namjoon."

There's no response, so Yoongi thinks the line's gone dead. As he checks the call, though, he realizes that Namjoon's just trying to process such immense news.

"We found out about two months ago," he explains, gritting his teeth, "and he's been trying to adapt with the chemo, but it's so difficult for him, Namjoon-"

"Hyung, stop." Namjoon halts his rambling, "I'll find out some way to bring the wedding to him."

Yoongi blinks away the threatening tears that almost spill down his cheeks, realizing this is the first time he's really broken down over Hoseok's situation. "Okay, okay," he says, more to himself, "are you sure you can do that?"

"Anything for him," Namjoon responds, "you can take Jimin and I to the hospital after the party."

"God, thank you so much," Yoongi breathes, pulling his head off the counter, "that'll make his day. His whole year, really."

"You should have told me sooner," Namjoon accuses, "we could've visited. Jimin's gonna be absolutely heartbroken, hyung. He loves Hoseok." The voice pauses, and Yoongi's left with silence, other than the constant sound of his old refrigerator. "How could this happen to someone like him?"

Yoongi audibly exhales, rubbing his temple between two fingers. I've been wondering the same damn thing, he thinks, knowing he shouldn't say it out loud. "I'll keep it as a surprise, alright? Right after the wedding, though. I don't like being away from him too long."

"Of course. And, hyung," Namjoon questions, "are you and Hoseok dating?"

The phone is pulled away from his face as he chokes on thin air, nearly coughing out his lung. "God," he splutters back into the phone, "don't scare me like that."

"I'll take that as a yes, then."

 


 

Once again, Yoongi is left wondering how much Jimin's suit costs. The one he wears at his wedding is covered in soft, gold lace, contrasting from the bright white fabric. Immediately, he's left with the impression that Park Jimin is a prince. And of course, his husband looks dapper as usual. He's the CEO of one of the biggest businesses in the country, anyways; for a second, Yoongi wonders how well off Jimin was before he met Namjoon.

The ceremony is short; there's no priest to give blessings. Instead, they hired a friend to repeat the classic vows and, of course, "you may kiss the groom."

Yoongi, decked in the only suit he owns, takes pictures when necessary. Jimin will love them, he thinks, because he finds something pleasing in each and every one of his photographs. He sits with a group of people he's never met, keeping to himself and finishing his dinner quickly. Apparently, his "acquaintances" at the table are the least talkative bunch at the entire wedding reception. (Maybe the newlyweds set him up here on purpose; he enjoys the way he's left alone.)

He packs his camera into its highly protective bag, moving to stand at the back of the room while Jimin and Namjoon get lost in their own world as they dance by themselves. He picks up on the fact that while the younger of the two is a rather refined dancer, Namjoon has two left feet. The crowd laughs along with Jimin when the tall man stumbles, causing his face to go red. Yoongi himself laughs occasionally, too.

As the newlyweds leave the floor to the rest of the attendees, Yoongi flips through the pictures on his camera. His best work for his best friends, he thinks.

"Ah, Yoongi!" Jimin interrupts, tapping him on the shoulder. The elegance of his suit nearly makes Yoongi recoil; dressing in such regal clothing has never been his forté. "Are you enjoying yourself?"

"Of course," Yoongi only half lies, giving the best smile he has to offer. "The food was really good. Or maybe I'm just too used to hospital food-"

Whoops.

Yoongi knows he's made a mistake in an instant; Jimin's face falls quickly.

"Fuck, sorry," he apologizes, "that wasn't a funny joke."

"It's okay," Jimin assures him, replacing his frown with a smile, "I had just forgotten about Hoseok for a second. I... I really want to get out of here so Namjoon and I can visit."

"When do you plan on ending it?" Yoongi asks, shutting off his camera and placing it back into the bag. "I mean--I don't condone ruining your wedding, but I'd like to get back to the hospital."

"No, no," Jimin repeats, shaking his head and causing his silky black hair to fall into his face. "I know what you mean. You love him and all, I get it," Jimin smirks as Yoongi goes red, giggling in the slightest.

"Just--Just tell me when you're ready to go," Yoongi mumbles, looking away and focusing on his camera instead.

"Now!" Jimin exclaims over the music, grabbing onto Yoongi's wrist and suddenly taking off in a different direction. "I'll find Namjoon, c'mon!"

Yoongi's body type, like that of an elderly man, can't keep up with Jimin's agility; by the time they find Namjoon, he's nearly collapsing onto the floor.

 

"It's late," Yoongi warns as he leads his friends down the hospital hallway, "I hope he's not asleep. I told him that I'd be back soon," he groans, waving at the receptionist as they pass. He doesn't have to sign in anymore; she knows exactly who he is and where he's going.

The three of them feel rather out of place; there was no time to change their clothes, so they're still dressed in suits. Yoongi keeps his camera close, planning to snap some pictures of Jimin and Namjoon's visit. He still documents Hoseok's progression through photographs; maybe he'll make a scrapbook one day and give it to the younger man when he's fully recovered. Either way, he knows the photos will keep him on his feet. Hoseok smiles in every single one, he remembers, never faltering. His smile from day one is the same as the one on the most recent photograph.

"We should have brought flowers or something," Jimin whines as they step out of the elevator. "Or a huge balloon with 'get well soon' printed across the front. Or a card. Oh, a huge teddy bear! Joonie," he says, pulling on the cuffs of Namjoon's sleeve, "next time we visit, we're going to turn Hoseok's room into the best one in the whole hospital. Promise?"

"Promise," Namjoon answers, smiling down at his husband. "Is that okay, Yoongi? I mean, I've got the money to cover it."

Yoongi rolls his eyes playfully, slowing his walking speed so he doesn't accidentally leave the two behind. "He'd like it, I know he would, but at the same time he'd worry about the expenses."

"Hoseok is too selfless for his own good," Namjoon sighs, shrugging his shoulders. (Yoongi feels like he's used the same phrase before.) "Plan on it, though. Jimin, you can pick out the gifts, okay?"

"Okay!" Jimin responds, squeezing Namjoon's hand.

"Ah," Yoongi interrupts, stopping in front of a closed door, "one more thing before we go in. If you do plan on buying all those things for Hoseok, could you get at least one gift for his roommate? It's a kid, younger than Jimin. His name's Jeongguk; he hardly gets any visitors."

"Of course," Namjoon says, the tone of his voice indicating that the answer was obvious before he even said it.

"Alright," Yoongi whispers, slowly opening the door to Hoseok and Jeongguk's hospital room. "Hoseok?" he calls quietly, peeking inside to find both patients awake, sitting on Jeongguk's bed playing cards. They both smile at Yoongi's return, and Hoseok places his cards on the bed, sliding off and making his way to the door.

"Wait," Yoongi says, opening the door completely to reveal Jimin and Namjoon. "You've got special visitors."

Hoseok, ecstatic, covers his mouth with his hands. "Oh my god," his voice is muffled by the hands over his mouth, "you guys." Yoongi snaps a picture.

"Hopie!" Jimin squeals (another new nickname), pushing past Yoongi and nearly tackling Hoseok, wrapping his arms around the taller man. "We would've come sooner, but we didn't know! I'm so sorry," he blabbers, nearly squeezing the air out of Hoseok. Again, Yoongi captures the moment with his camera.

"It's okay," Hoseok wheezes, tapping Jimin's shoulder to let him know that he needs to breathe. "It's okay," he repeats, clearer this time, "I was going to call sometime; ask about the wedding. When is it, again?"

"Today, right now," Namjoon informs, also stepping around Yoongi (much more careful than Jimin) and adding his own worth into the hug.

"Is that what the suits are for?" Hoseok asks, moving to place each of his arms on Jimin and Namjoon, respectively.

"Of course!" Jimin steps out of the embrace, pressing Hoseok's hand to the lace on his sleeves. "Feel how soft it is, hyung! Namjoon spoils me," he giggles, not taking notice of how malnourished Hoseok is. Namjoon, on the other hand, can focus on nothing else. He's always known the man to be well-built, so the way his cheekbones jut out from beneath his skin scares him. As Jimin sparks conversation with Hoseok, Namjoon's omniscient eyes take note of every change: his bloodstained eyes, hallowed face, and complete lack of hair.

Again, it scares him.

Yoongi never released any information on if the chemo is working or not. Maybe not even he knows.

Another boy (must be the kid Yoongi mentioned earlier) sits quietly on one of the beds in the room, watching the newcomers with wide, doe-like eyes. Namjoon offers a smile to him, and receives a small one in return.

Hoseok and Jimin's chatter fills the room; Yoongi sits next to Jeongguk and picks up the game of cards he and his roommate had been playing earlier. Namjoon realizes that he's alone.

"Hey, Namjoon," Yoongi pipes up, waving him over to the bed in the far corner of the room. "This is Jeongguk. He's getting out soon, right, kid?" he gives Jeongguk a little pat on the back in reassurance.

"Kim Namjoon," he introduces, extending one hand for Jeongguk to shake, which he does. (His business-oriented way of greeting people doesn't falter, no matter how much he wants it to. It's embedded in his blood.)

"You're a friend of Hoseok's, then?" Jeongguk asks, moving his deep-set eyes to look at his roommate.

"Yeah, since college," Namjoon answers with a nod. "He used to dance, y'know. Loved it, too; I could've sworn that he would graduate as a choreographer."

Yoongi himself remembers a time where he would watch Hoseok and his team (but not really so much the latter) dance instead of taking pictures for the school newspaper. "It's been forever, huh? God, college. I won't ever forget it, that's for sure."

Jeongguk moves a hand over the soft covering of hair on his head (it's growing even longer), thinking over the older men's comments about college. Oh, how he never thought he'd miss it this much.

Jimin leads Hoseok over to the other three, clapping his small hands together. "Ooh, cards? I know how we're spending the rest of this wedding night," he says, his smile giving a certain light to the room (similar to the way Hoseok's does the same). Yoongi scoots backwards to make room for Hoseok to sit next to him on the bed, a pink blush settling over his cheeks when the younger man locks their fingers together.

"I missed you," he whispers, only loud enough for Yoongi to hear.

The flighty lovers, newlyweds, and one lone boy play cards until the sun comes back out of hiding.

 


 

While Jeongguk's hair grows in and his skin clears, Hoseok is left with nothing but deterioration.

The intensive chemo isn't working.

Each time Yoongi visits, there's a new bruise. At this point, Hoseok's skin is a spotted pattern of his fair skin tone and the deep, dark color of bruises. Bone marrow biopsy after another, the infected cells return. Yoongi writes down the name of the drugs inside Hoseok's body on his hand in pen (cytarabine, idarubicin), but it smudges and he forgets. They become a muddled memory in his head; simply referred to as "the shit drugs that don't work."

The premonition that resides within his bones moves to his neck, strangling him. He fixes it with alcohol.

It's only fixed temporarily, though.

 

"Jinyeong, wait," Yoongi calls after Nurse Ahn (they could be called friends by now, so he finally knows her first name). "I want you to listen. Please," he places a hand on her shoulder to get her attention.

"Yoongi," she says, turning to face him, "is Hoseok okay? Why aren't you with him?"

He ignores her inquiries.

"He's not okay, and you know it. You all fucking know it, but I don't. He doesn't," he spits, but his words are slurred because of the alchohol, the fucking alchohol that's a stain on his life. "You won't tell us. You--You think it's protecting us, but it's not. It's fucking not, Jinyeong."

She knocks his hand off her shoulder. "Are you drunk, Yoongi?"

"Hell," he smirks, scoffing, "that's what you care about?"

Nurse Ahn, in all her tiny glory, grabs the man by his wrist and pulls him into the nearest empty hallway. "Listen," she begins to say, her voice nothing but a whisper, "releasing more information on Hoseok will be too much of a strain on you. I'm sure of that."

"Please," Yoongi begs, showing off the ever-changing personality that is liberated when he's had too much alcohol. "Please, just tell me how much longer he's got left."

She traces the edges of the tiles beneath her with her eyes, refusing to look up at Yoongi. "How do you know the chemotherapy isn't working?" she asks innocently.

"Fuck, do you think I'm blind? He already looks dead," he scowls, showing his teeth. "Listen, Jinyeong. I don't know if you realize-"

"I know you love him."

Apparently, it takes someone else's input on he and Hoseok's relationship to finally understand.

To understand that he really does love him; that he's been pining after Hoseok ever since he showed up at the door to his apartment. Min Yoongi is a man of little words, but he knows that he could spill out his entire life to the dying man. His heart; it doesn't belong to photography, songwriting, or even alcohol.

No, every beat is Hoseok's to take.

"Fuck this world," he mumbles, staring into the eyes of Nurse Ahn, tears blurring his vision.

"He's got about two months, Yoongi. We just didn't receive him in time," she delivers, "and he's too far gone. I'm so sorry."

Yoongi had steeled himself for this; somewhere inside his head, he knew. Maybe it's the alcohol that causes him to sink to the ground, just like he had when he first received the news of Hoseok's leukemia. Or, maybe, he just had been leaning on the slim chances of Nurse Ahn telling him that Hoseok would be just fine, that he'd be almost fully recovered in just a couple months.

But this world is cruel, and that's not how things work.

Nurse Ahn aids Yoongi in getting up from the floor (she just pulls the unwilling man from the floor, actually) and tries to embrace him. Yoongi lets her hold on to his convulsing shoulders for some time before he shoves her away and sleazily stumbles down the hallway, his hands shoved into his pockets. 

Yoongi goes home and drowns his sick reality with even more soju. He hadn't said goodbye to Hoseok tonight; it was the first time since he'd been admitted into the hospital.

 


 

Jeongguk plays with the balloons he received from Namjoon and Jimin while Hoseok gets his umpteenth bone marrow biopsy. He hasn't even passed into consolidation therapy; Jeongguk informs Yoongi that Hoseok is still going through remission.

Yoongi sits on the one couch in their room, watching Jeongguk use his balloons as a punching bag. He blinks slowly, vaguely wondering how Hoseok's managing; these days, they've grown apart. (Ever since he learned of the amount of time Hoseok has left, he's been trying to distance himself from the sick man. Nonetheless, he still visits for multiple hours every day; he can't escape when his heartstrings are wrapped around Jung Hoseok.)

"Hyung," Jeongguk pipes up suddenly, still attacking the balloons, "I'm getting out in a month."

Yoongi takes a while to process the good news; he's been so used to tragedy that it's too surprising. "A-Are you serious?" he questions, lifting his eyebrows. "Oh my god, Jeongguk," he stands up from the couch, tripping over his own feet as he stumbles to the boy's bed. In an instant, he's wrapping his arms around Jeongguk and pulling him upwards off the bed.

"I didn't know you were strong enough to give hugs like this," the younger breathes, smiling.

"Sorry, sorry," Yoongi apologizes, letting go and stepping away from Jeongguk. "It's just so great to get good news, y'know? Fuck," he curses, gripping the footboard until his knuckles turn a deathly white. Biting his lip to keep the tears from falling, he reaches one arm across the boy's shoulder to pull him in; they've grown very close in the past few months. Yoongi never thought he'd befriend a college student, but here he is.

Jeongguk laughs, pulling the smaller man into his arms. "Fuck it," he says, squeezing so hard that Yoongi thinks he may run out of breath.

It's nice to have a good day; one in a million.

 


 

Yoongi drinks himself to the brink of death.

He only stops to remember that he can't lose his life before Hoseok does.

It's only a while longer, he tells himself. Only a while longer before Hoseok's leukemia overtakes him completely and he dies, chained to that fucking hospital bed. Yoongi hates himself for counting down the days. They were doing so well; their relationship was finally past the "only friends" section. That kiss; that goddamn kiss ruined everything and now Yoongi can't breathe without feeling his lungs constrict.

Hoseok may be dying, but he's taking Yoongi along with him.

He should've known that day. He should've known that an ounce of good luck couldn't be taken lightly; Jeongguk's upcoming release from the hospital may happen, but Hoseok's won't.

It was the last bone marrow biopsy. There's nothing left for them to do.

Out of all the different medicines and treatments he's been blasted with, not a single one comes out with a sign of recovery. Maybe, just maybe, there's a spark of hope in the beginning. But it's too late for that now; Hoseok's body isn't strong enough anymore.

So Yoongi learns to forget.

Despite his newfound riches, he still lives in the same shitty apartment. (He told Hoseok that he'd buy them both out of it. Why get a new house just for himself?) The whole place is a mess; at least with the younger man around, it was able to stay somewhat clean. Bottles of soju, both empty and not, litter the floor. Dirty clothes are strung about and neglected takeout boxes make the floor nearly unable to be seen. The kitchen is a disaster, too, even though it hadn't been used in months.

Yoongi sighs, losing the grip on his bottle of alcohol. It crashes to the ground next to the couch he's curled up on, breaking open and releasing the leftover liquid to run out all over the floor. "Fuckin' hell," he slurs, letting his head roll backwards onto the back of the couch. There's no telling how much he's drank; he lost track hours ago.

His camera, the only thing kept documented and safe in the apartment, sits on the table in front of him. Tired eyes land on it, and Yoongi's leaning forward to take it gingerly in his clumsy hands, too busy to notice the irony. He takes the Nikon D2400 out of its case and the SD card from its slot. With a groan, he pockets the card and gets up from the couch in search of his laptop; he hasn't uploaded any pictures to put inside the portfolio beneath his bed since Hoseok's first modeling gig. He thinks it's about time to uncover Hoseok's bedridden life he's been documenting.

Or at least, his drunken self does.

He plugs the SD card into his old laptop, waiting for the photographs to transfer. One after another is downloaded into a folder; Yoongi doesn't remember taking these many pictures. As it finishes, he opens the folder and starts with the first one: his laptop screen displays a photo of Hoseok at the kitchen table, focused on his instant ramyeon.

That's it. All it takes for Yoongi to regret his decision.

The next shows Hoseok looking up from the bowl of ramyeon, smiling at the camera. Yoongi tries to remember the context, but his brain is too hazy from the alcohol. Something about bad lighting, he thinks.

The first section is all good memories; when Yoongi reaches the second modeling session they had, down on the same couch he sat on earlier, his heart sinks. Hoseok looks ethereal, of course, even in the state of illness he'd been in, but Yoongi knows exactly where things go from here. From couch to hospital, he watches the man he loves deteriorate.

Deteriorate, all with a smile. Hoseok outshines the sun at this point; all the epitomes are void. That damn star in the sky can't compare to the sick man no matter how hard it tries.

He flips through the photos, keeping each one locked away in his memory. The time Jimin and Namjoon came to visit with presents, Hoseok and Jeongguk trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues out in the courtyard, and multitudes of Hoseok's bright smile.

"Fuck," Yoongi curses, wiping his eyes, "fuck, fuck," he repeats, shakily pulling his phone out of his pocket. He pulls up Hoseok's contact number, knowing that he's probably asleep, but it doesn't matter because he has to talk to him right now. He counts the times it rings (one, two, three) before the line connects.

"Yoongi?" a tired voice comes through, "it's like four in the morning, are you okay?"

"Why are you asking if I'm okay?" he scolds, scrutinizing the last picture in the folder: it's Hoseok and Jeongguk posing with their thumbs up, smiling for the good news of the latter's discharge from the hospital. He wants more, but there's nothing left.

"Well, of course," Hoseok answers, "when you call me at four a.m., there's usually a problem."

Yoongi scoffs sarcastically, slamming the laptop shut. "You don't fucking get it, do you?"

"Yoongi, what-"

"You're gonna-" he hiccups over his words, ones he can't pick and choose like usual because of how drunk he is. "You're gonna fuckin' die," he sobs, lowering his head so it rests against the sheets of his bed. "Hoseok, g-god, you're gonna fuckin' die, you can't. You can't just-"

"Yoongi," the younger man repeats his name for the third time, "just stop talking. How drunk are you?" a pause occurs; the call emits static. "No, no. Don't answer that question; it doesn't matter. I'm not going to die, hyung, I'm fine. You were just visiting, remember? Just--Just please, take some medicine and go to bed. Your hangover is going to be god-awful."

Hoseok continues to gently reprimand him, but he's too unfocused to hear correctly. Once again, he realizes, the sick is taking care of the healthy. What in the fuck did I do wrong, he thinks, what did I do that was so heinous that God banished this angel to Earth just to take care of my sorry ass?

As Hoseok rambles over his homemade hangover remedies, Yoongi finds himself slipping away from consciousness. The light that blinks ceremoniously in his room becomes dim and he shrivels into the covers, comforted by the voice of the only real love he's ever experienced. College girlfriends and boyfriends alike, Yoongi had always known their relationship would end.

Somehow, the one time he didn't foresee a horrid ending is exactly when it happens.

"Hoseok," he mumbles as the phone slips from his hand, "I really--I really love you. I'm... I'm sorry," and he finishes, dropping the phone onto the pillow next to him. Yoongi's the most hopeless romantic there is; every time he sees Hoseok, that cursed song that his mother used to sing to him as a child, You Are My Sunshine, plays repeatedly in his head.

That same damn song is what he hears in every one of his dreams that night.

 


 

"This might be the last time you see him," Yoongi grumbles, numb to the notion by now. Not only has his alcoholism reemerged, but he tends to sneak cigarettes into the courtyard. Hoseok asked for a smoke about a week ago; he declined, which abruptly ended the discussion. He lets the smoke escape his mouth; Namjoon watches in restrained disgust.

"What do you mean, last time we'll see him?" he questions, pushing away the urge to distinguish Yoongi's cigarette under the toe of his shoe.

"You've seen him, Namjoon," he says, staring ahead with unblinking eyes.

"That's just a part of the chemo, it doesn't mean anything-" he tries to say, but the older man cuts him off with a stark laugh.

"The nurse told me. Y'know, the little one who's always hovering around behind the scenes? Yeah, she let the whole thing go," he explains, rolling those blank eyes with little emotion. "More than a month ago, she estimated that he's got two months left. Funny, isn't it?"

Namjoon finally gives in.

He rips the cigarette from Yoongi's teeth, throwing it to the snowy ground and crushing it under his shoe. "You asshole, don't you care? Doesn't it concern you that he's going to die?"

"C'mon, that was my last one," Yoongi melancholily moans, "you didn't have to do that."

"Jesus!" Namjoon curses, jumping off the bench and spinning on his heel. "I'm going to make his last weeks here a bit more bearable, if you don't fucking mind, Min Yoongi. Really," he scoffs, "when Hoseok rambled about you for hours, I really thought he'd found a good one." Namjoon stops in his tracks for a second, but still refuses to look back. "Guess I was wrong."

Yoongi wants to say something. He wants to scream "wait", tell Namjoon it was a joke. Tell him that he can't deal with death; that Hoseok's not going to be the only one losing his life.

Instead, he nudges the fallen cigarette with his shoe as Namjoon makes his way to the hospital room to join Hoseok, Jimin, and Jeongguk.

Min Yoongi begins to feel lonely again.

 


 

"Gukkie," Hoseok faux sobs, pulling the boy to his chest; it's a difficult position. He doesn't have the energy to get up anymore. That strength has left him. "You can't leave, who's going to play cards with me now?"

"You have Yoongi-hyung," Jeongguk tries to reassure him, wrenching his fists into Hoseok's hospital gown. "And I'll always play the tricks you taught me. Don't worry; you can show me more when I come back to visit. Maybe I'll beat you next time."

Hoseok finally lets go, letting Jeongguk stand next to his bed. "What would that make the record? Gukkie: one, Hoseok: one-hundred twenty eight?"

The two share a laugh; Yoongi's arms start to shake from the strain of holding up the boy's single suitcase. He's already shared his goodbyes with Jeongguk; plus, they've got the entire one-hour trip to the dormitory. Apparently, the latter has created a "Yoongi-hyung mixtape" that he wants to blare all the way to his old dorm.

Yoongi can't wait.

"I'll miss you," Jeongguk reinforces, giving Hoseok's hand a squeeze. "Stay in there, Hobi, you'll get out soon. Then we can play cards somewhere other than a hospital bed."

"Promise?"

"Promise."

Hoseok tilts his head childishly, questioning the boy's trustworthiness. "Nope. You've got to pinky-swear."

Yoongi rolls his eyes, despite the smile plastered on his face.

"Fine," Jeongguk gives in, lifting his pinky to Hoseok's (his hand is nothing but skin hanging from bone). "Cross my heart, hope to die."

The dying man laughs, but it ends in a coughing fit. Yoongi stands up quickly, his eyes darting to the heart monitor. It picks up the pace just as soon as it had slowed. "Cross my heart, hope to die," Hoseok manages to say, his eyelids drooping. "Sorry 'bout that."

"Don't worry, hyung."

 

Yoongi lets Jeongguk carry his own suitcase.

He feels guilty for the boy; all that "hope to die" shit got him flustered. (The both of them, really.) They pack into Yoongi's old car, the owner steeling his nerves for the upcoming playlist he's about to endure. The guilt pours into his ears, head, and spreads through his body until he's sweating.

At least he can't hear the music.

"I know he's not going to survive," Jeongguk suddenly blurts, his eyebrows knotted and eyes focused on the road ahead. "You don't have to worry about telling me, hyung."

Silence envelops the car; even the upbeat music is suddenly overridden by the heavy revelation. Yoongi clears his throat before speaking.

"How'd you know?"

Jeongguk audibly chews on his bottom lip. "I crashed and burned in my first consolidation, but it was never that bad. Fuck," his voice breaks, "I promised him. I promised that we'd both get out and play cards."

"Trust me, kid. I promised him a luxurious life in a mansion the day he was diagnosed," Yoongi admits, "you're not on your own here. A deck of cards in the outside world is a lot easier promise than unimaginable riches."

Jeongguk shuts his mouth (and it stays that way for the rest of the ride), but he reaches over to give Yoongi's shoulder a squeeze.

Funny, how he's always being comforted by the less fortunate.

 


 

With Jeongguk gone, the room is almost always silent.

Even when Yoongi's there. Invalid, though, because he's always with Hoseok. Even without words, he's somehow comforting to the younger man.

Nurse Ahn checks up on Hoseok today, sending bright smiles his way when he promises her that he doesn't feel as sick as he did yesterday. (The twitch in his left eye tells of a different story.) Yoongi feels bad for him; every single person around him is a damn liar with their cheshire-cat smiles and comforting words. He's guilty, too.

"I'll be on call if you need me," Nurse Ahn tells him, gently patting one of his hands. She passes Yoongi and he feels her stare boring into the back of his head. That woman is much too involved in he and Hoseok's relationship.

Again, the room is left with nothing but quiet, save for the rumbling heater in the corner by Jeongguk's old bed. Yoongi hates it, but he holds his tongue. Just like always.

"I miss the courtyard," Hoseok begins, trying to spark conversation, "is it still empty as always?"

"Pretty sure we're the only ones who have ever gone down there," Yoongi responds, digging through his pocket for his box of cigarettes. "It's practically our own little world, y'know. We'll get back down there soon, just gotta wait until this section of your chemo is over."

"Yeah," Hoseok agrees, but his voice is hollow unlike Yoongi's ever heard it.

"You okay?"

"Better than ever."

Of course Yoongi doesn't believe it. He keeps his eyes off Hoseok's frail appearance, choosing to watch the heart monitor until his own heart ticks to the same beat. For some reason, he finds that damn thing comforting. (He reminds himself that it's the same heart monitor that's going to tell of Hoseok's death. Somehow, it's still comforting.) He counts every time the line extends across the screen as a blessing, for now.

"You know they aren't trying any new medications, right?"

The confession takes a lot out of Hoseok; he feels his hands, clasped together, shake with anticipation. He's always had to be the optimist. Always.

And his polar opposite, pessimistic lover stands up from the couch, leans over the short rails of the dying man's bed, and kisses him.

Hoseok is rendered helpless; he's been waiting for this sign of acceptance for weeks and it's finally, finally here. For the seconds that Yoongi's lips are on his, everything else melts away around him and he forgets about the situation. Fine by him. This is all he could ask for, anyways.

Fingers crawl under his chin, tipping it upwards to transform their kiss into something more. Yoongi's got experience; for such a misanthrope, the man really knows how to charm someone. The older man opens his mouth, urging Hoseok to follow along, which he does. A huff of breath is released between them and they break apart, finally, focusing on nothing but each other. For the first time, Yoongi notices that Hoseok has a beauty mark on one of his high, prominent cheekbones. (It, along with the one on his lip, become his new favorite things on Earth. He's a simple man.)

"I've been waiting for that, Min Yoongi. I hope you have something to say for yourself," Hoseok scolds playfully, displaying pearly white teeth that glint brightly even in the dim hospital room.

"I hope you know, that was me asking you out. Welcome to the life of my greatest boyfriend yet, Hoseok."

Said greatest boyfriend grins wider, resting one of his hands with such delicate touch against Yoongi's arm. "I love it."

"I love you."

"You're killing me, hyung. I don't need both you and leukemia," he attempts to joke darkly, giving Yoongi a nod to let him know that he's just fooling around.

"God, you're too much," Yoongi whispers subconsciously before delving into another kiss.

"Wait, wait," Hoseok suddenly breathes, abruptly pulling away. A line of saliva connects their lips; he tries not to laugh.

"What? Is--Is something wrong? Do I need to call Nurse Ahn? Do-" Yoongi could fret over Hoseok for a good hour, but he's interrupted.

Hoseok's bloodshot eyes crinkle in admiration as he reaches up to pull Yoongi into the bed with him until the latter is practically kneeling over him. One of those fragile hands pulls Yoongi's fading pink strands of hair through thin fingers. He urges the older man forward until their noses are touching, benign. "I just forgot to say that I love you, too."

 


 

Jung Hoseok dies at age 27, chained to the hospital bed, just as Yoongi had predicted.

He dies in the winter, his most hated season. Not hated, necessarily, because Hoseok was capable of finding the good in everything. "Least favorite" would be a better choice of words. (He told Yoongi once that he loved spring. Something about the idea of recovery, as the world revitalizes itself from the cold clutches of winter.)

He'd almost made it to spring.

Yoongi had hoped it'd be peaceful. Prayed that such an innocent man would at least be offered a quiet death, just as anyone would.

The sad reality is, Hoseok felt the whole damn thing down to last moments.

And Yoongi was there to watch.

His last memories of his boyfriend are him writhing in pain while still, still assuring him that he was okay, that he was going to live through it. (Nurse Ahn couldn't even offer assistance; her hands were shaking so violently that she was told to stand off to the side as the other nurses tried so desperately to find what was causing the outburst.)

(They weren't desperate enough.)

Yoongi has always been a man of little words. He doesn't relay Hoseok's passing on to Jeongguk or Namjoon. Not Jimin, either. Not a single person will ever know of his own perspective, having to look into the glazed eyes of his lifeless boyfriend. (In complete honesty, that term "boyfriend" isn't enough. Not for the embodiment of the sun.)

A funeral is held. Yoongi attends; doesn't speak. Doesn't listen. Simply attends and stares at the strange people whose mouths form words but never reach his ears. In fact, he might've left halfway through; but he was drunk at the time. He always is.

That's all he has to grasp. All he can.

Jeongguk visits. He doesn't remember what they talk of, just the boy's face. He can recall of Namjoon's and Jimin's as well, but nothing else. That's fine by him. Even the apartment that he's lived in for years becomes something hazy, like it's held so far back in his brain that it's become something unknown to him. Yoongi doesn't live anymore; even that's foreign to him. All he knows is alcohol and the sting of it as he swallows down bottle after bottle in the darkness of his apartment, locked away. (Voluntarily, of course. Fuck him for having a choice to ruin his life.)

Alcohol poisoning may take his life; maybe it won't. Namjoon, Jeongguk, and Jimin team up to wean him off it, but the whole ordeal fails within a week. Yoongi finds the only comfort he can within those bottles of soju. Sometimes, even, in the solace of burning cigarettes into his pale skin. That nobody knows of, not even Namjoon.

Min Yoongi never answers calls. Not from clientele, whether it be new or old. Not from Namjoon, Jimin, or Jeongguk. His own mother even calls once, but he can't find it within himself to fake soberness. This bad habit even transforms into locking the doors of his apartment and refusing to open them, no matter who comes knocking. This way, he can't even order food to be delivered anymore. When he runs out of scraps to eat, so be it. Alcohol fills him up. (No it doesn't.)

He lays on the couch, half of his body hanging off onto the floor. In one hand is the remote for the television, the other holds, of course, a can of beer.

"Let me in, hyung, please," he hears from outside his door. Yoongi groans loudly, letting the other person at the door know that he is not interested. "Yoongi, it's about Hoseok."

Suddenly his interests are perked.

His sweaty hands slip off the door handle when he attempts to open it the first time. "Fuck," he curses, rubbing at his temple, "this better be fucking good, Namjoon." As he opens the door a crack, the tall man pushes it open with all the strength he can muster and stumbles inside. He catches himself and Yoongi notices that he's breathing heavily, face red and slicked with sweat.

"I ran all the way here," he explains, still heaving as he un-crumples a piece of notebook paper that he takes out of his pocket.

"Don't you have a...car? Or cars, plural?" Yoongi grouses, slamming the door shut so he doesn't have to put up with the light emitting from the hallway.

"Jimin's got ours right now," Namjoon answers quickly, extending the piece of paper out to the older man. "Forget that, you have to read this. I found it when I was cleaning out the all the stuff in his room. It's... It's for you."

Yoongi snatches the paper, squinting his eyes at the scrawl on the old paper.

Yoongi--

I hope you're okay. Somehow I know that this'll hit you hard, but that's fine. You'll get back on your feet.

Please don't do anything rash. I don't deserve to be something you can hurt over. Just remember that you've got a long life ahead of you, one that isn't plagued by sickness (or sick lovers, for that matter). You'll turn to alcohol, I'm certain you will, because I know you. Please, Yoongi. A couple drinks are okay, but it won't do anything but flip everything in your life upside down.

Remember that I love you. Take that in pride, if you will. Thank you for saving my life; the real one. The one that had a choice about living or dying.

Stay alive.

--Your Hoseok

Yoongi doesn't realize he's crying until the rough pencil marks on the paper become smudged by his tears. He shivers once, blinking to let them fall over his cheeks and onto the floor. In his mind's eye he sees Hoseok, his eyes shining brightly despite the dark circles that cage them, writing this scribbled letter Yoongi now holds in his hands that shake as if the thermostat in his apartment has been tampered with.

To prevent tearing the paper that he now considers an antique, he folds it with care (as well as he can with such clumsy hands) and tucks it away into his back pocket. He makes a mental note to frame the letter and keep it in his room to serve as a reminder that he's not quite finished yet.

Hoseok wouldn't want him to be.

"Help me, Namjoon," Yoongi finally says, his dark eyes pleading with him. Before the taller man can respond, he speaks again:

"Help me stay alive."