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i do talk, but only for you

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There are two irrefutable truths to the world Hoseok lives in.

First, everyone has a soulmate.

Second, his soulmate will never find him.

***

“Hobi, you home?”

Hoseok sits up on the couch, pausing his show and waiting for Yoongi to walk into the living room of his apartment, knowing that Yoongi will search him out after he sees his shoes by the front door.

Sure enough, Yoongi’s fluffy head of blond hair appears around the corner and he slouches over to the couch to slump down next to Hoseok, returning the bright smile he gives him with a wan smile of his own.

How was your day? Hoseok signs. Yoongi only ever comes over when he’s had a particularly rough day of work.

Yoongi groans and shoves a pillow over his face. “I had to deal with this rookie group today that—I kid you not—could not sing. None of them.”

Hoseok grimaces in sympathy. Yoongi is often frustrated by the artists he works with. Then again, Yoongi is frustrated by a great many things in life, people are just the biggest thing, at least as far as Hoseok can tell.

“What are you watching?” Yoongi asks, dropping the pillow to look at Hoseok again.

Hoseok hands him the remote and Yoongi plays the show, smirking when he recognizes what it is.

Finding Nemo? That’s what you’re watching?”

Hoseok shrugs and brings his knees up to his chest. He taps Yoongi’s arm to get him to look at him so he can sign: I like shows about finding things.

Yoongi’s eyes soften as he watches Hoseok’s hands. “I know,” Yoongi says softly. “Me too.” Yoongi turns his attention back to the movie, his eyes holding an old pain that Hoseok knows too well.

Hoseok leans against Yoongi, eyes sliding to the empty spot on Yoongi’s wrist. He’s twenty-eight, most people have their words by now. Hoseok’s had his words for three years now, but Yoongi’s wrist is blank. He hasn’t found his soulmate yet.

But he’s found love, and Hoseok thinks that maybe that’s more important.

***

3 years ago

 

 

Hoseok stares blankly at his textbook and wants to die. He has one final left before he’s done with school forever and he can move on to his career.

He’s just really done with finals.

“Hey, Hoseok, how’s it going?”

Hoseok looks up from where his head has been resting on the table in some kind of pose of finals week defeat to see Yoongi sitting next to him, smiling happily.

He must be done with finals because Hoseok has been his roommate for a year now and can count on one hand the number of times he’s seen Yoongi smiling this widely.

How do you think it’s going? Hoseok signs, scowling back at Yoongi.

“This is your last final, right?” Yoongi asks, gesturing to his textbook, continuing when Hoseok nods sulkily. “Well cheer up then, you’re almost done.”

Hoseok gives him a gesture so vulgar that Yoongi laughs out loud in the quiet section of the library.

What are you so happy about? Hoseok signs, giving up on cramming in the last hour before his final. Did you find your soulmate or something? Hoseok jokes.

Yoongi’s lips twitch upwards as he watches Hoseok’s hands. “Not quite, but I did get a boyfriend.”

Hoseok only avoids falling off his chair by grabbing onto Yoongi.

“It’s a new thing,” Yoongi continues, answering the question all over Hoseok’s face before he can sign it. “He was in my music theory class this last semester and things just sort of…happened.” Yoongi looks down at his hands, eyes soft.

Hoseok smiles brightly, desperate not to let the conflicting emotions he’s actually feeling show in any way. I’m happy for you, he lies with his fingers. He’s not unhappy about this development, but it feels…weird.

“Thanks, Hobi,” Yoongi says with a soft smile. “I’m happy too.” Yoongi pulls Hoseok’s textbook across the table to look at it. “How are things with your boyfriend?” Yoongi asks, resting his head in his hand as he leans on the table.

Things are great, Hoseok signs. Because they are great. He’s happy.

“Good,” Yoongi says. Then, after a moment of comfortable silence: “Here, I’ll quiz you instead of going home and sleeping like I want to.”

Hoseok throws back his head and laughs silently. You’re too good for me, he signs.

“Nah,” Yoongi says, flipping through Hoseok’s textbook. “I’m exactly good enough for you.”

If only he knew how much.

***

Hoseok works at a library.

It’s not his first choice, not exactly what he went to school for, but it’s quiet and simple, and it’s rare that he needs to communicate with other people outside of warm smiles and gestures.

“Excuse me,” a deep voice asks.

Hoseok looks up from the books he’s checking back into the system and is slapped in the face by dimples.

“Do you have any books on soulmates?” The man asks, grinning.

Hoseok blinks rapidly, managing to shift his eyes away from the dimples to focus on the man’s face more clearly. The question registers, and Hoseok nods quickly, gesturing for the man to follow him.

“Oh excellent,” the man continues as he stumbles over his feet to follow Hoseok. “I just found mine, and I want to know everything there is to know about them beyond like, what everyone is taught in school and stuff.”

Hoseok turns down the aisle with all of the soulmate related books and pulls the best book off the shelf to hand to the patron. So You Have a Soulmate: How to Cope and What to Do.

The man snorts at the book’s title but takes it anyway. “Thanks…Hoseok?” he says, bending down slightly to read Hoseok’s nametag.

Hoseok gives him a tight smile and a thumbs up.

“I’m Namjoon,” the man says, holding out his hand. Hoseok shakes it, trying to ignore the words on the inside of his wrist out of politeness. It’s rude to read someone else’s words without an invitation and since Namjoon just found his soulmate today it’s unsurprising that he doesn’t have a band or long sleeves. “You, uh, haven’t said anything yet? Are you okay?” Namjoon asks, concerned. “Did I say something to upset you?”

Hoseok shakes his head and points again to his nametag, where just under his name in small print it says: Speech Impaired.

“Oh,” Namjoon says, looking closely at Hoseok’s tag. “Well that explains a lot. Sorry.”

Hoseok waves off his apology and heads back to the desk, leaving Namjoon to peruse the section on soulmates on his own.

Soulmates.

They say everybody has one. That by the age of thirty you’ll meet your soulmate and you’ll never need anyone else. That somehow, you’ll run into them and the first words they say to you will appear on the inside of your wrist as irrefutable proof that you’re meant for each other.

But Hoseok can’t talk. He never has been able to, and he doubts he ever will. He’s twenty-seven and by the time he’s passed thirty nobody will care that he can’t talk, they’ll assume that he didn’t look hard enough, that he didn’t care enough about his soulmate to look for them.

Hoseok stopped looking years ago.

Namjoon reappears, setting down a stack of books at Hoseok’s desk for check-out.

Congratulations, Hoseok scrawls across a bookmark. He slides it across his desk to Namjoon as he reaches for the books.

“Thanks,” Namjoon says, smiling widely enough to blind Hoseok with his dimples again. “I’m really lucky.”

Hoseok quirks an eyebrow in question.

“He’s really handsome,” Namjoon says, sighing happily. “He’s perfect.”

Hoseok smiles and hands Namjoon his books, waving goodbye.

He rubs his thumb along the inside of his left wrist through the sleeve of his shirt.

 

Hoseok almost never locks his front door, mostly because at any time Yoongi will want to come in, and with as much energy as Hoseok has, once he’s curled up on his couch or—more often than not—his bed, he doesn’t want to get the door.

Tonight is no exception.

Yoongi walks into his apartment without a word. Hoseok only knows he’s there because he hears the quiet snick of the door as he shuts it behind him.

Hoseok rounds the archway that frames the kitchen and walks into the hallway to greet Yoongi.

The smile falls from his face the moment he looks at Yoongi.

Not for the first time, Hoseok wishes he could talk. Most of the time it doesn’t bother him—there are so many other ways to be heard, and he’s particularly fond of his phone and dancing—but this time it does. He rushes over to Yoongi, wanting to ask, ‘what’s wrong’ but settling for hugging Yoongi tightly and trying to stem the flood of tears streaking down Yoongi’s pale cheeks.

“H-Hoseok,” he gasps, fisting his fingers into the back of Hoseok’s sweater. “He’s g-gone.”

Hoseok pulls away sharply, grabbing Yoongi’s face between his hands and forcing him to look at Hoseok so that he sees it when Hoseok mouths ‘who?’ at him in question.

“S-Seokjin,” Yoongi chokes out, clutching at Hoseok’s forearms. “He c-came home today, a-and,” he cuts off, eyes welling with fresh tears. Hoseok waits patiently until Yoongi starts talking again. Yoongi knows the drill, that he has to talk without prompting that Hoseok can’t give.

 “Th-three years together and it d-doesn’t matter anymore,” Yoongi finally says after calming slightly.

Oh.

Hoseok understands now.

Yoongi’s knees give out, and Hoseok barely manages to keep him from falling to the floor. He wraps his arms around Yoongi and pulls him to the couch, allowing Yoongi to curl into him for comfort.

And this…this is the problem with love, Hoseok thinks. Even if you find it, there’s no guarantee that you’ll keep it because—

“Seokjin found his soulmate,” Yoongi whispers into Hoseok’s neck, tears soaking into Hoseok’s skin and the fabric of his sweater.

Because if the person you fall in love with isn’t your soulmate it’s not really worth it to love at all, in the end.

***

4 years ago

 

Hoseok learns pretty quickly that Yoongi is an odd person to live with.

It’s not like he’s a slob, or noisy; on the contrary he’s quite clean and quiet. No, what’s odd is the way he’ll be shuffling off to sleep when Hoseok is waking up for his morning classes, or the way he doesn’t say anything to Hoseok in the first month they live together.

Yoongi is an odd person to live with, and Hoseok likes it.

 

He’s been living with Yoongi for a month before Yoongi actually speaks to him.

Hoseok comes back from classes and it’s not unlike any other day. Yoongi is sitting on the floor in front of their coffee table in their tiny living room, staff paper and composition notes spread all around him on the table, headphones wrapped securely over his ears.

Hoseok is about to walk back into his room to finish up the last of his homework—because he knows enough about Yoongi now to know that when their living room looks like this Yoongi is focused—when a quiet cough makes him pause and turn around again.

Yoongi is staring at him.

Intensely.

Hoseok suddenly feels like it’s ten degrees too hot in the room.

“You don’t talk much, do you,” Yoongi states.

Hoseok freezes, mouth dropping open slightly. He tugs down the sleeve of his shirt to cover his left wrist and for the first time in years, Hoseok desperately wants to say something back, anything, but he can’t.

Instead, he just shakes his head and gestures to his throat.

Yoongi’s eyes narrow. “You can’t talk? Are you sick?”

Hoseok huffs a sigh through his nose and tugs his sleeves over his hands. He walks over to sit next to Yoongi on the floor. He picks up one of Yoongi’s notebooks and a pencil, and, after a nod of permission from Yoongi to use them, starts writing.

I can’t talk, he writes, shifting so that Yoongi can watch him write. I’ve never been able to.

“Oh,” Yoongi says, clearly searching for more words.

You don’t have to say anything, he scrawls across the page. Nobody ever knows what to say, but it’s okay. I’ve accepted it, and I find other way to express myself.

“Like what?” Yoongi asks softly.

Hoseok taps the pencil on his chin, thinking. I try to smile a lot, and I love dancing to express my emotions. I text a lot.

Yoongi laughs softly. “I’m glad.” He meets Hoseok’s gaze. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Jung Hoseok.”

Hoseok smiles brightly and thinks that maybe things are starting to get good.

 

Yoongi learns sign language.

Hoseok ignores how warm this makes him feel.

***

It’s been two days since Yoongi showed up at his apartment, heartbroken and in tears, and Hoseok doesn’t know what to do.

He honestly thought that Yoongi and Seokjin would last forever. They were great together. But they weren’t soulmates.

Yoongi is inconsolable.

Hoseok wants to scream at how unfair it is.

 

It’s late.

Hoseok walks back into his room with a warm mug of tea between his hands and finds Yoongi curled in the blankets, lit by the yellow-glare of streetlamps outside his window.

“Thanks,” Yoongi rasps, sitting up and reaching out to take the mug Hoseok offers him.

Hoseok crawls quietly beneath the blankets with Yoongi, laying down and watching as Yoongi finishes his tea slowly.

Yoongi sets the mug down on the bedside table and snuggles back under the covers, facing Hoseok. “Thanks for letting me stay with you,” he whispers, fingers resting between them on the mattress, loose and slightly curled. “Seokjin said I could have the apartment but it just feels like a fucking consolation prize for my boyfriend ditching me for his soulmate.”

Hoseok just watches Yoongi solemnly.

They’re silent for a moment, then: “I thought I had it,” Yoongi says, quiet as snowfall.

Hoseok lazily signs, what do you mean? with his fingers, unsure if Yoongi could really see the question or if he just keeps talking because he needs to.

“I knew he wasn’t my soulmate, but I’d given up on finding mine when we met so I thought that maybe I could let myself love him. He was even older than me, so I thought it was safe.” Yoongi sighs, deep and shuddering. “I’m so tired of looking for something I can’t find, Hoseok. I just wanted to be happy, and to lose it all…” Yoongi trails off, no tears left but unable to keep talking.

Hoseok gently pulls Yoongi into his chest, tangling their legs and tucking Yoongi’s head beneath his chin. They haven’t been this close since they lived together in college, and Yoongi stiffens slightly at the gesture. Hoseok can hear the usual ‘Hobi, we’re dating other people, we shouldn’t’ in the air between them until Yoongi remembers that he’s not, not anymore.

“I was really happy with him, Hoseok.”

Hoseok nods softly, not bothering to wipe away the tear that leaks from Yoongi’s eye. He knows how much Yoongi loved Seokjin. How much that love was returned.

But the soulmate bond transcends love. It’s two souls meeting and blending, not two hearts.

“It’s not fair, Hoseokie.”

It isn’t. Hoseok wants to tell him to keep looking, not to give up, that his soulmate is still out there because everybody has a soulmate. But he can’t. It’s too dark and even if it wasn’t, Yoongi is in no position to be reading sign language, not with how tangled together they are.

So Hoseok does what he does best, and doesn’t say anything at all, comforting Yoongi in silence.

***

2 years ago

 

“Hoseok, you have to come,” Yoongi pleads, mercilessly using the smile he knows Hoseok can’t resist. Extra wide and bright. “It’s our house warming party.”

Hoseok sighs deeply before giving in with a nod.

Yoongi’s eyes brighten and he looks so happy. How can Hoseok not go, really. Besides, he likes Seokjin and he makes Yoongi so incredibly happy and he wants to spend an evening with his closest friends, especially Yoongi.

They’ve been done with school for a year, about the same amount of time Yoongi’s been dating Seokjin, and Hoseok has somehow agreed to go to the party celebrating them moving in with each other. Which isn’t a big deal to Hoseok because he hasn’t lived with Yoongi since college—an arrangement that wasn’t Hoseok’s choice—but he supposes that giving up your own space to live with someone else when you’re not soulmates is a pretty big deal to Yoongi.

But Yoongi’s never been afraid to take risks on something he wants, and Hoseok knows how much Yoongi wants Seokjin.

At least he won’t be the only single person there.

[16.25] To: Jeonggukie

You’re coming to Yoongi’s party with me tonight

 

Hoseok texts Jeongguk, seconds after caving to Yoongi’s smile, sitting on the couch while he waits for Jeongguk to respond.

Jeongguk sends back an image of himself sulkily flipping off the camera.

[16.26] To: Jeonggukie

I’ll take that as a yes

Hoseok sends back, smirking at his phone.

“What’s so funny?” Yoongi asks, peering at him and sitting down next to him.

Hoseok shows him the conversation and is rewarded with a quiet laugh. “He’s such a brat.”

Hoseok’s response to this is to lift his eyebrows and fight the upward twitch of his lips.

Yeah, but you still love the kid, Hoseok types out on his phone’s memo app and shifting so that Yoongi can read over his shoulder.

“Don’t tell anyone,” Yoongi says, jostling Hoseok’s shoulder with his own. “It’ll ruin my image.”

Hoseok snorts through his nose at the idea of Yoongi’s image being exactly as soft as Yoongi pretends it isn’t. Yoongi jumps slightly at the audible sound from Hoseok.

“Fuck, I’m not used to hearing you make sound.”

Hoseok rolls his eyes. I can make sound if I want, he types. Yoongi makes a surprised sound in the back of his throat. Hoseok twists around and looks at Yoongi over his shoulder. He raises an eyebrow and delicately shifts until he’s facing Yoongi, pursing his lips and leaning in slightly.

The tips of Yoongi’s ears turn pink at Hoseok’s proximity.

Slowly, he whistles out a lilting melody—shaping the sounds around his tongue and fluttering the notes like birdsong—something he made up not long ago while he was washing dishes. He takes great pleasure in the way Yoongi’s face transforms from curiosity to reverent shock.

Yoongi reaches up and cups Hoseok’s jaw between his hands.

The sound dies from Hoseok’s lips, all the air stolen from his lungs at the touch.

“Why didn’t you tell me before?” Yoongi asks, eyes searching Hoseok’s own. “We lived together for a year and I’ve never heard you whistle?”

It’s a complicated answer. Hoseok has worked hard to culture the image of someone who doesn’t need to make sound. He’s proud of that. He doesn’t want people to think he’s trying to force himself into that world at the edges, grasping at what little sound he can make. He’s always held that he doesn’t need to make sound to participate fully in the world, so while he’s in the world he doesn’t.

I don’t tell people about it, Hoseok signs, phone forgotten in his lap. It’s not enough of an answer, not really, but it will do for now.

“Why did you tell me, then?” Yoongi’s thumbs brush across Hoseok’s cheekbones in a burning sweep of flame against skin.

Hoseok twists his fingers around each other, trying to soothe the itch as he fights to keep from saying something too revealing.

He’s always whistled for himself. It’s a personal experience, and he likes to keep it secret from the world. Everyone has always looked at him as that cute boy who can’t create sounds—the poor dear—and only he knows that he’s capable of beautiful sound when he wants to. Having this one small thing, this one secret, makes him feel powerful.

Because I trust you, he finally settles on, fingers flying around the words in the space between them. You’re my best friend, he adds, as an afterthought he can’t resist.

His risk is worth it. Yoongi looks up from Hoseok’s fingers and smiles, wide and easy, hands still on Hoseok’s jaw and he can’t regret giving up that last secret part of himself. Not to Yoongi.

He never regrets anything with Yoongi.

“You’re my best friend too,” Yoongi says, hands sliding down to wrap around his neck, thumbs brushing against his jaw.

Hoseok smiles softly and places a hand on top of Yoongi’s on his neck.

“I want you to sing for me again sometime,” Yoongi says, using his leverage to pull Hoseok into his chest.

Hoseok relaxes into Yoongi’s embrace, shifting on the couch until they’re comfortably settled, Yoongi’s arms coming to settle loosely around his waist. It’s a lot like the last half of their last year of school when they lived together, the comfort and ease with which they fell into each other’s lives was so natural that it felt like they’d been friends forever, and boundaries shrank to non-existent, even when Hoseok found someone else and Yoongi started dating Seokjin during finals.

Yoongi used to try all the time to stop cuddling him, to get him to stop curling into him in Yoongi’s bed when the darkness of his own room got to be too much and he needed to hear the breathing of Yoongi beside him. But Yoongi’s protests were always halfhearted at best and there wasn’t really anything else like sinking against Yoongi’s quiet warmth, at least not for Hoseok.

It’s always been this way for Hoseok from the moment Yoongi initiated conversation with him two years ago.

Sing for you? Hoseok asks, lifting his hands to sign so that Yoongi can see them.

Not that he needs too. Yoongi watches his hands more than anything else.

“Yeah,” Yoongi says, fingering the leather band Hoseok wears around his left wrist. “When you whistle, it’s like you’re singing.”

Hoseok pulls his wrist free from Yoongi’s gentle hold. Okay.

They’re quiet for a moment, breathing into the comfortable silence. If anyone were to ask, Hoseok would tell them this was his favorite thing about his friendship with Yoongi. He never feels like he has to keep talking, he knows he doesn’t have to constantly entertain around Yoongi, that if he feels like sitting in silence then that’s perfectly fine with Yoongi.

It’s perfect.

Yoongi is perfect.

Yoongi is dating Seokjin.

“I’ve got to go,” Yoongi says after a while, checking the time. “I promised Seokjin I’d help him set up and clean.”

Hoseok sits up, shifting away from Yoongi so that he can get up.

“I’ll see you in a few hours,” Yoongi says, letting himself out.

Hoseok flops back against the couch, fingering the cuff on his wrist absently and trying to remember what it was like to breathe before he met Yoongi.

 

He arrives at Yoongi’s new place with a pouty Jeongguk in tow.

“I don’t get why I had to come.”

Because you’re supporting Yoongi in his happiness and I need a voice, Hoseok types out on his phone, flashing the message to Jeongguk as he uses his other hand to knock on the door.

“Welcome!” Seokjin says as he opens the door, handsome features brightened by the visible happiness in his eyes and smile.

Hoseok waves in greeting and elbows Jeongguk not-so-subtly in the ribs until he mutters a return greeting.

Seokjin ushers them in, leading them to the kitchen and making sure they each have a drink and a small plate of food in hand before leading them into the main room where small groups of people are clustered around talking quietly with one another.

Jeongguk immediately abandons him to go and talk to Yugyeom and Jackson.

Traitor.

It doesn’t matter anyway because Yoongi is walking up to him, a wide-eyed man-child on his heels.

“I thought you were bringing Jeongguk?” Yoongi asks, not bothering to greet Hoseok when they saw each other a few hours ago.

Hoseok rolls his eyes. He curses Seokjin’s hospitality the moment he realizes that he doesn’t have a free hand to sign or type, too laden down with drink and food. Yoongi must realize because he quickly takes both from Hoseok and hands them off to the man-child, who has a bit of a deer-in-headlights look about him.

He ditched me for Yugyeom and Jackson the second he saw them, Hoseok signs quickly, fingers flying in his irritation.

Yoongi laughs loudly and several things happen.

Hoseok smiles in response, wishing he could give voice to his own laughter.

Man-child startles next to Yoongi and jerks his gaze away from Hoseok’s hands to look at Yoongi in shock.

Seokjin’s head whips around until he locks on Yoongi, smiling reflexively as his boyfriend laughs.

“Shame,” Yoongi says, missing all of this. “I wanted to introduce him to Taehyung here.” Yoongi gestures to the man-child standing next to him. “I think they’d get along great.”

“You can’t talk,” Taehyung says, turning to Hoseok with a curious look in his eyes.

Yoongi slaps him upside the head. “You can’t say things like that, Taehyung.”

“Oh, shit my bad,” Taehyung says, eyes widening as he realizes what he’s said.

Hoseok waves away his concern.

Tell him not to worry about it, Hoseok signs as Yoongi relays his words to Taehyung. I’m really surprised he didn’t think I was deaf.

“You didn’t laugh when Yoongi did,” Taehyung explains when Yoongi finishes relaying the message, “even though you clearly wanted to and looked like you actually were.” He shrugs.

Hoseok thinks that maybe he didn’t give Taehyung enough credit with his first assessment.

Jeongguk chooses this moment to reappear at Hoseok’s side.

“Hey kid,” Yoongi greets, ruffling Jeongguk’s carefully styled hair. “Nice of you to show up.”

Hoseok watches as Taehyung goes from passive and indifferent to attentive and sultry in .5 seconds.

“Hey, cutie,” Taehyung purrs, snagging Jeongguk’s attention and making his cheeks flush pink.

“Woah,” Jeongguk breathes, looking at Taehyung. He slaps a hand over his right wrist and clutches it to his chest, watching as Taehyung does the same a second later.

“Holy shit,” Yoongi says, eyes widening.

Hoseok thinks his expression says about the same thing.

“You—you’re,” Taehyung stutters, any suaveness he might have had evaporating under shock and excitement.

“Holy fucking shit,” Jeongguk says. “You’re my soulmate.” Jeongguk peels his left hand away from his wrist to expose the words on his skin in black script. ‘Hey cutie.’

“You’re a child, watch your fuckin’ language,” Yoongi mutters.

Taehyung does the same, Jeongguk’s simple ‘Woah’ showing clearly against the golden skin of his wrist.

“What do we do now?” Taehyung asks Jeongguk. Hoseok and Yoongi may as well not exist for all the attention they’re being paid. “Are you dating anyone?”

Jeongguk shakes his head, reaching out tentatively for Taehyung.

Yoongi comes around to stand next to Hoseok, getting out of their way. “I’ve never actually seen it in person,” he says, crossing his arms.

Taehyung takes Jeongguk’s hand and laces their fingers together. They both take a deep, shuddering breath.

I have, Hoseok signs. They both watch as Jeongguk and Taehyung make their way dazedly to the couch, sitting down and talking softly, hands still entwined between them.

Yoongi’s eyes flicker to the band on Hoseok’s wrist so quickly he’s not sure it actually happened.

“Was it like that?”

It was nothing like that, Hoseok says, eyes holding Yoongi’s gaze a beat longer than he means to.

Nothing like that at all.

***

 

Hoseok feels like a terrible person.

It’s been two weeks since Seokjin found his soulmate, and Hoseok feels terrible because he can’t help but begin to enjoy having Yoongi living with him again.

He’s missed it, he realizes, having someone else around to fill up his silent life. He’s been lonely since his last relationship ended, so much so that even Yoongi’s angry sadness is welcome.

Yoongi’s always kept odd hours, and his job as a producer seems to blend well with that habit. Which means that Yoongi is, more often than not, waiting there when he gets home from the library, and it’s a nice thing to come home to someone else.

Even if that someone else is currently wallowing on the couch, drowning his sorrows with ice cream.

This has to stop, Hoseok says, kicking Yoongi’s feet out of the way so that he can sit down on the end of the couch.

Yoongi throws his feet across Hoseok’s lap as soon as he’s settled.

Seriously, Hoseok signs. It’s been two weeks, Yoongi.

“I’ll be honest here, I’m not really watching your hands,” Yoongi says, eyes fixed on the TV.

He’s watching re-runs of Desperate Housewives.

Pay attention to me, Hoseok says, fingers stalling when Yoongi doesn’t bother to look.

And this—this is the biggest problem with being mute. Hoseok sometimes has to fight to be heard, even among his own friends, and it pisses him off when he knows someone is intentionally ignoring him.

He hates being ignored but finds that when you can’t make a sound, it’s all too easy for everyone else to pretend you aren’t there.

He pinches Yoongi’s calf. Hard.

“Hobi what the fuck?” Yoongi screeches, jerking his legs off Hoseok’s lap.

Don’t ignore me, Hoseok signs furiously. You know how much I hate being ignored.

Yoongi grumbles, but he turns his attention to Hoseok after a moment.

It’s Jeongguk’s birthday today, he says, switching tactics. He came by the library today and invited us to the party tonight.

“Oh, shit,” Yoongi says, running a hand through his hair. “I forgot what day it was.”

Easy to do when you don’t leave the house in two weeks, Hoseok snarks.

“Hey,” Yoongi snaps. “I’m grieving.”

Hoseok’s been grieving for four years now, but who’s counting.

We’re going, I already told Jeongguk, so get into the shower.

Yoongi grumbles and sulks, but does eventually peel himself off the couch to stagger into the shower.

 

 

Jeongguk’s party is, frankly, a disaster.

 

Hoseok and Yoongi show up twenty minutes late because Yoongi realized once he stepped out of the shower that all of his “party acceptable clothing” was back at his apartment and he refused to go and get anything.

Which is why it took Hoseok an hour longer than he anticipated to find something in his wardrobe that would fit Yoongi. They’re roughly the same size, but it was still a challenge to find skinny jeans skinny enough for Yoongi.

He gave up on a shirt, though, which is why Yoongi ends up wearing Hoseok’s favorite long-sleeved shirt. It’s a wide-neck black and white striped shirt that makes Hoseok’s bronze skin glow and his collarbones look sharper than knives. It’s his favorite because it makes him look hot as fuck.

It’s downright deadly on Yoongi.

The wide neck of the shirt keeps threatening to fall off one shoulder or the other, and Hoseok isn’t sure if he’s going to survive the night.

Yoongi has a truly spectacular neckline.

Hoseok knocks on Jeongguk’s door before he can do anything stupid like bite the skin below Yoongi’s ear.

Taehyung sweeps the door open, beaming. “Hey guys!”

Hoseok and Yoongi just wave silently in the face of Taehyung’s usual, overwhelming enthusiasm for literally everything in life.

Once inside things unfold in the same way every party involving Taehyung eventually does.

Into chaos.

It only takes about fifteen minutes and one cup of whatever alcohol Taehyung shoved into his hand before Hoseok feels like he’s in a fever dream.

“Oh, shit!” Someone cries, right before slamming into Hoseok, sending him stumbling back against Yoongi.

“I’m so sorry,” they say, turning around.

Hoseok looks up from where he’s trying to pry Yoongi’s arms from around him and convince him he’s steady and straight into the warm dimpled-smile of Namjoon.

He waves hello, sure his face is a mask of surprise.

“Oh, you!” Namjoon half shouts. “Hoseok, right?”

Hoseok nods again, then looks over at Yoongi when he coughs politely at his elbow.

Yoongi, this is Namjoon. I met him at the library a few weeks ago, Hoseok signs quickly after handing off his drink to Yoongi to free up his hands.

“Nice to meet you Namjoon,” Yoongi says, handing Hoseok’s drink back to him. “I’m Yoongi, Hoseok’s roommate.”

Hoseok chokes on his drink.

“Nice to meet you man,” Namjoon says, smiling easily. “That’s cool that you know sign language.”

Yoongi shrugs. “When you’ve lived with him as long as I have you learn quick.”

“Are you guys soulmates?” Namjoon asks. Hoseok regrets ever showing him the soulmate section of the library.

He wonders if Yoongi notices the way he stiffens slightly at the question. He hopes not.

“Ah, no,” Yoongi says, rubbing the back of his neck. “We aren’t.”

Namjoon frowns. “That’s odd, I could have sworn you were. You have the right vibe.” He shrugs. “Do you have soulmates, then?” He asks, and for some reason Hoseok isn’t surprised that Namjoon seems fixated on soulmates. They’re cool to anyone who’s already found theirs.

“I don’t,” says Yoongi. Hoseok is proud of the way his voice doesn’t waver.

Hoseok shakes his head in response.

Namjoon shrugs. “I’m sure you’ll find them soon,” he says easily. “I didn’t think I had one until I met Jinnie.”

Yoongi pales. “What?” he rasps.

Fuck.

“Yeah, I met him just a few weeks ago.” Namjoon carries on, oblivious to Yoongi’s distress. “He’s great. Perfect, actually.”

Hoseok feels his stomach drop to the floor. What are the fucking odds.

“What did you say his name was?” Yoongi asks, voice a bit stronger.

Namjoon blushes a soft shade of pink, warming his bronze skin even more. “His name is Seokjin.”

Yoongi’s fingers find Hoseok’s and grips them so hard he feels the blood leave his hand.

“You called?” Seokjin says, appearing literally out of nowhere and coming up next to Namjoon and wrapping his arm around Namjoon’s shoulders, eyes fixed on his face.

Fuck.

“Yeah, I was just telling my new friends about you,” Namjoon says, gesturing to Hoseok and Yoongi.

Hoseok watches as Seokjin’s face goes from smiling to horrified in less than a second. “Hey bab—Yoongi, Hoseok.” Seokjin shoots for calm and lands somewhere around petrified.

“You know them?” Namjoon asks, looking pleasantly surprised.

It’s moments like this when Hoseok really wishes he could talk because then Yoongi wouldn’t have to go through the horrifying task of talking to his ex, far before he’s ready too.

His hand is completely numb in Yoongi’s grip.

“I’m his ex,” Yoongi says bluntly, not pulling any punches for Namjoon’s sake.

Clearly Seokjin has told Namjoon enough of the story, if the way Namjoon looks at Yoongi in unmasked horror is anything to judge by. “I’m so sorry,” he says, nearly tripping over the words in his haste to get them out.

“Why?” Yoongi asks caustically. “It’s not like you can help who your soulmate is.”

Hoseok knows this tone of voice from Yoongi and frantically looks around for Jeongguk or literally anyone else he knows. Fuck, he’d settle for BamBam at this point.

“It’s not like you stole the man I was in love with right out from under me,” Yoongi continues. “It’s not stealing when he was never mine to begin with, so what does it matter if my heart gets broken? You have your fucking soulmate so life’s just fuckin’ perfect for you.”

“Enough, Yoongi,” Seokjin says quietly, but with enough bite to make Yoongi’s jaw shut with an audible click.

Hoseok spots Jeongguk across the room and miraculously catches his eye, frantically waving him over while trying not to spill his drink.

Namjoon looks devastated, and Hoseok can’t help but feel bad for him. It’s never fun to be on the other side of Yoongi’s anger.

“Hey guys what’s—oh shit,” Jeongguk greets, trailing off when he realizes what’s clearly just happened. He shares a glance with Hoseok. “Hey, Namjoon, have you met my husband yet?”

Hoseok doesn’t wait for a response. He frees his hand from Yoongi’s, sets down his drink on the nearest flat surface, and walks toward Namjoon, snagging him and towing him away from Yoongi.

“I didn’t realize,” Namjoon says quietly.

Hoseok pats him soothingly on the back. He’s sad to see all of Namjoon’s happiness over finding his soulmate stripped away because of Yoongi’s words, especially when Namjoon was so full of innocent happiness.

Jeongguk catches up to them a second later, shaking his head slightly at Hoseok’s questioning look. Hoseok glances back and sees Seokjin talking to Yoongi, who has curled in on himself protectively, like Seokjin is going to try and claw him apart.

“Where’s my husband?” Jeongguk shouts over the music humming through the house.

A crash sounds in the hallway, heralding Taehyung’s entrance into the living room.

Hoseok whips out his phone with one hand and swipes open the memo app so he can type: How did you train him to do that? and show it to Jeongguk all while rubbing gentle circles into the back of a still-distraught Namjoon.

Jeongguk barks out a laugh just as Taehyung barrels into the room and launches himself at Jeongguk, kissing him indecently.

Hoseok supposes that’s one question he won’t get answered anytime soon.

“Are they always like this?” Namjoon squeaks out after a full minute, eyeing the way Jeongguk has his hands shoved in the back pockets of Taehyung’s jeans and how Taehyung is threading his fingers through Jeongguk’s hair.

Hoseok rolls his eyes and nods before clapping his hands right next to Jeongguk’s ear.

Jeongguk breaks away from Taehyung slowly, his eyes promising much more when they’re alone—Hoseok prays it’s when they’re alone and not in a coat closet like the last party they were all at—before he turns to face Hoseok and Namjoon. “Namjoon, this is my husband Taehyung,” Jeongguk says, lacing the fingers of his free hand with Taehyung’s.

Namjoon’s eyebrows disappear into his fringe of purple hair. “You guys are really young to be married,” he says, somehow just now making the connection that Jeongguk actually does have a husband and that he wasn’t joking earlier. “Are you guys soulmates?”

Taehyung and Jeongguk both beam, holding out their wrists so Namjoon can see the words inked on their writs.

“Hey cutie?” He asks, biting back a laugh.

Taehyung looks offended. “Have you seen how hot he is?” Namjoon laughs outright. “I took one look at him and knew there was no way I wasn’t going to tap that. Hard.”

Jeongguk blushes furiously and smacks Taehyung. “Babe, seriously.”

Hoseok takes that as his moment to leave and goes in search of Seokjin and Yoongi, who have disappeared from the main gathering downstairs.

He finds them upstairs in the guest bedroom.

He’s about to push open the door that’s been left slightly ajar when he freezes because—

“What do you want me to do, Yoongi?” Seokjin hisses. Hoseok doesn’t hear anger in it though, not really. “He’s my soulmate.”

“I want you to choose me,” Yoongi says, and he sounds desolate. “I want you to pick me, your boyfriend of three years that you love, and I want you to stay.”

“Yoongi,” Seokjin whispers, almost too quiet for Hoseok to hear over the sound of the music downstairs.

“No,” Yoongi bites out. “Don’t give me that look. Don’t condescend to me like I’ll magically understand one day. That when I finally find my soulmate I’ll get it.” Hoseok can hear him pacing angrily, can imagine his hands flying around him as he articulates his point, the sleeves of Hoseok’s shirt probably covering his hands completely. “Don’t you fuckin’ dare do that to me. If I met my soulmate tonight it wouldn’t matter because I’d still pick you.”

There’s a long silence.

“Have you been staying with Hoseok this whole time?” Seokjin asks. Hoseok half wishes he could see what’s happening in the room because the subject change gives him whiplash.

“The fuck?” Yoongi says, sounding like he’s got whiplash too.

“You’re wearing his clothes, have you not even gone home?”

“I don’t see what this has to do with anything.”

“What you said, about picking me even if you met your soulmate, would you still say that if Hoseok was your soulmate?”

Hoseok goes very, very still.

“It doesn’t matter,” Yoongi breathes, dangerously quiet. “Hoseok isn’t my soulmate.”

“How do you know,” Seokjin nearly shouts. “Hoseok is mute, Yoongi. He very well could be.”

“What does it matter?!” Yoongi yells. “I want you, Seokjin, not him.”

Something inside Hoseok cracks apart. His eyes sting. He gasps audibly from the pain in his chest before he can think to silence the sound and stumbles away and back down the stairs.

He stumbles into Jeongguk in the hallway.

“Hey, Hoseok, are you okay?” Jeongguk steadies Hoseok, taking in his stricken expression and glassy eyes.

Hoseok shakes his head and mouths ‘water,’ relieved when Jeongguk leads him into the kitchen and presses a cool glass into his shaking hands.

“Hoseok, what’s wrong?” Jeongguk presses, once Hoseok has downed the water and his hands have steadied.

Wearily, Hoseok pulls his phone from his pocket. I just heard something that I wasn’t expecting to hear.

“Is it about Yoongi and Seokjin?” Jeongguk asks, voice lowered enough that Hoseok doubts anyone could hear him unless they were standing right next to him. The majority of the people are currently entertained by Jackson’s impromptu game of flip cup with Mark in the living room.

Hoseok nods, then types furiously on his phone. It wasn’t that what they said was a shock to me, or anything I didn’t already know, I just wasn’t expecting it, that’s all.

Jeongguk reads what he’s typed and nods in understanding. “You still haven’t told Yoongi?” He asks, immediately getting to the root of the issue without actually being told anything.

Hoseok took a chance two years ago when he finally confided in Jeongguk, and he’s never once regretted it. As young as he is, Jeongguk is steady and consistent, a calm force that Hoseok has found himself needing more than he thought he would.

Hoseok shakes his head in response to Jeongguk’s question.

Hoseok,” Jeongguk whispers. “You need to tell him.”

I know, Hoseok types. It’s just been so long and he’s so in love with Seokjin. I don’t want to hurt him more.

“Yeah, but we both know Seokjin isn’t going to go back to him.” Jeongguk presses closer, his voice a low murmur. “Seokjin is too much of a romantic and he’s been wanting a soulmate for years now. He’s not going to give up Namjoon and I think everyone—even Yoongi—can see that.

“You should tell him, Hobi,” Jeongguk says after a moment of silence that Hoseok uses to breathe. “He needs to know.”

I’ll tell him, Hoseok texts. He will, just not yet. I want to give him some more time to heal, but I promise I will.

Jeongguk doesn’t look thrilled about this, but he only says, “Just don’t wait too long.”

“Don’t wait too long for what?” Yoongi’s sharp voice asks behind them.

Hoseok and Jeongguk both jump halfway out of their skin.

“Hey, Yoongi,” Jeongguk laughs nervously. “Where did you come from?”

Hoseok turns, unsure what to expect when he sees Yoongi, and is surprised when Yoongi looks perfectly fine, not a hint of distress or hurt anywhere on his face.

“I just finished talking with Jin,” Yoongi says with a grimace. He looks at Hoseok. “You ready to go, Hobi?”

He’s not, not really. He wanted to check in with Jackson and Mark, see how the renovations to their house are coming, maybe talk to Yugyeom and BamBam for a bit, but he can see the way Yoongi is pleading slightly with his eyes and he’s never really been able to say no to Yoongi. Yeah, let’s go, he signs.

Yoongi breathes deeply, and Hoseok is pretty sure he’s the only one who could spot the relief in the gesture. “Jeongguk,” Yoongi says, turning to face Jeongguk fully. “Thanks for having us. Happy birthday, and make sure Taehyung spoils you.”

“It was nice to see you, Yoongi, Hoseok,” Jeongguk says, unusually polite. “Taehyung is spoiling me plenty.”

Hoseok doesn’t want to know what that means, especially when it’s followed with a smirk.

Yoongi snags one of Hoseok’s hands with his own. “See you later, Jeongguk,” he waves, pulling Hoseok out of the kitchen, down the hall, and out the door so fast Hoseok knows he was trying to get out without running into anyone else.

You okay? He manages to sign with only one hand.

“I just want to be home,” Yoongi sighs.

Hoseok smiles, fighting down the warmth that comes with Yoongi calling his apartment home.

It’s certainly home now that Yoongi is back.

 

“Do you ever wonder if maybe there just isn’t a soulmate for you?” Yoongi asks later that night, curled around Hoseok. “Like, maybe whatever entity decided everyone had to have one just...forgot about me.”

Hoseok shakes his head enough that he knows Yoongi feels it against the pillow.

“Why can’t I find them?” Yoongi whispers into the dark.

Hoseok rolls over and pulls Yoongi into his chest, wrapping his arms around him tightly. He wants to tell Yoongi that he does have a soulmate, everyone does, but it’s impossible for Hoseok to say anything in the dark, so instead he just holds on and hopes that Yoongi will be happier in days to come.

 

***

4 years ago

 

Hoseok’s a little drunk.

It’s mostly Yoongi’s fault.

Yoongi had come home with a few bottles of wine for absolutely no reason, and they’d both decided that the best course of action was to spend their Saturday night drinking wine and making fun of reality shows helping people find their soulmates.

Hoseok thinks it’s romantic.

Yoongi thinks it’s stupid.

“Oh, come on!” Yoongi shouts, gesturing at the TV with his nearly empty wine glass. His movements jostle Hoseok slightly. Yoongi’s sitting between Hoseok’s legs, back resting against his chest, and Yoongi’s almost nailed Hoseok with his emphatic gesturing several times by now. “That’s not even convincing,” he says as the cameraman catches two people meeting their soulmates for the first time. “Who says ‘I’ve been waiting my whole life for you’ when they meet someone for the first time? It’s clearly scripted.”

I can think of worse things to have on your arm, Hoseok signs. Besides, nobody cares if it’s scripted or not. He’s set his wine on the coffee table because he needs his hands to talk and he’s got early class tomorrow and the last thing he needs is to show up to class hungover again. In the last few months of living with Yoongi he’s learned that Yoongi has the tolerance of a 90’s rock star while Hoseok is lucky if he can manage to not blackout after five shots. In other words, he’s learned when to call it.

Yoongi’s eyes drift to the leather band around his left wrist as Hoseok signs.

“You have a soulmate, right?” Yoongi asks, shifting so he can look at Hoseok directly. “You’ve met them?”

Oh, oh fuck no. He’s not nearly drunk enough for this, and definitely not drunk enough to talk about it with Yoongi.

Abruptly, he begins to extract himself from the tangled mess they’ve become on the couch.

“Where are you going?” Yoongi asks, startled, as Hoseok finally succeeds, getting up and going into his room, digging around his desk until he finds his noise canceling headphones and plugs into his phone. He flops onto his bed and turns on his music loud enough to forget Min Yoongi’s questions.

The one flaw to his plan is the fact that they live together, a fact he’s reminded of when Yoongi’s familiar weight flops down onto the bed next to him.

He fights the now familiar shiver at Yoongi’s proximity. Nothing, not even months of living together and Yoongi’s understated need to be close to someone breaking down all physical barriers between them, has desensitized him to the rush that comes with every touch from Yoongi.

It’s frustrating how even when he’s trying to avoid Yoongi and his perceptive questions he can’t help but want to pull Yoongi closer. Tangle their limbs together and breathe in tandem.

Hoseok hates how he can feel himself falling for Yoongi even as he fights it with everything he has because he can’t fall for Yoongi.

“Hoseok,” Yoongi prods, poking him in the shoulder and trying to pull him over to lie on his side and face him. “Hobi.” Yoongi reaches up and tugs Hoseok’s headphones off his head so that Hoseok can hear the way Yoongi is pitching his voice a bit lower, more sultry, when he says: “Talk to me, Hobi.”

Hoseok tells himself that he only relents so that he can look Yoongi in the eye when he tells him to fuck right off.

It is, admittedly, a mistake on his part because Yoongi is staring at him with eyes that see a little too much and something dangerously close to desire lurking behind his eyes.

What do you want, Hoseok asks, feeling like he’s going to burn under the weight of Yoongi’s stare. He feels a flush singe his cheekbones.

“I want,” Yoongi starts, then trails off. “I want this.” Yoongi reaches out and brushes his hand along Hoseok’s jaw, sliding his fingers into the hair at the nape of Hoseok’s neck. He pulls Hoseok in, slowly, his eyes only leaving Hoseok’s to flick down to his lips and back to his eyes. “Do you?”

Hoseok hesitates.

He hesitates and he watches as that spilt-second action shatters something behind Yoongi’s eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi says, backing away immediately. “I’ve guessed for a while now that you have—or had—a soulmate and I thought that maybe...but I’m sorry. Forget this.”

This is so, so not what Hoseok wants.

Yoongi, Hoseok starts, fingers frantically trying to work around the words he hasn’t fully framed in his mind.

“No,” Yoongi says, not getting off the bed but significantly further away from Hoseok than he was. “It’s fine. You don’t have to explain.”

Hoseok wants to explain. He wants to tell Yoongi everything but he doesn’t know where to start.

“We’re still good,” Yoongi says, smiling faintly. “Don’t worry about it, I get it.”

Hoseok doesn’t think that Yoongi is very convincing, but he also knows enough to see that Yoongi isn’t in a talking mood anymore.

Okay, Hoseok signs, trying in vain to convince himself that he hasn’t just made a huge mistake.

***

Hoseok watches as time does what it does best and eases away the jagged edges of Yoongi’s heartbreak.

It’s nothing instant. It doesn’t happen quickly or easily, but day by day Yoongi gets a little brighter, a little lighter, and less angry.

Hoseok thinks that Yoongi’s conversation with Seokjin did more good than he originally thought because Yoongi was able to get out the words he needed to say, that Seokjin gave him the closure he needed to move on. Despite everything, Seokjin has always been the most considerate of them all.

He keeps expecting Yoongi to move out, to return to his own life as he begins to return to his normal, quiet self, but he doesn’t. Instead, he basically moves in with Hoseok. More of his clothes appear in Hoseok’s closet, his shampoo appears in the shower, his various notebooks and sound equipment slowly begins to fill Hoseok’s living room.

Yoongi starts to move back in and Hoseok doesn’t say anything to stop him.

***

2 years ago

 

From: Jeonggukie [16.25]

Hey, hobi

can i ask you something?

 

To: Jeonggukie [16.25]

what’s up?

 

From: Jeonggukie [16.25]

is there such thing as platonic soulmates?

like, do u have to fall in love w/ur soulmate

or can u just like, be best friends

 

To: Jeonggukie [16.26]

why are you asking me?

 

From: Jeonggukie [16.26]

...i thought u had experience with soulmates?

 

To: Jeonggukie [16.27]

...I don’t?

but i know a lot bc of like, life and the library?

From: Jeonggukie [16.28]

Oh...ok.

but is there such thing as platonic soulmates?

 

To: Jeonggukie [16.28]

hmmm...i think there are cases i’ve read about where people like

chose not to be in love with their soulmate and potentially love someone else

but they’re really rare like

who wouldn’t chose to love the perfect person for them i guess?

From: Jeonggukie [16.29]

but like, it’s possible?

 

To: Jeonggukie [16.29]

technically?

what’s going on jeongguk?

is this about taehyung?

From: Jeonggukie [16.30]

no

maybe

 

To: Jeonggukie [16.30]

jeongguk, talk

 

 

From: Jeonggukie [16.32]

idk he seems perfect but what if he doesn’t want me?

i barely met the guy and i’m supposed to be in love with him?

what if i don’t want to love him?

 

 

To: Jeonggukie [16.33]

jeongguk

taehyung is perfect for you

but i believe you get to choose in what way he’s perfect

fate may tell you who, but you still get to choose how

 

From: Jeonggukie [16.35]

ok

thanks, hobi

 

To: Jeonggukie [16.36]

of course kid

anytime

 

Hoseok stares at his phone for a long time after his conversation with Jeongguk.

He’s not sure what made Jeongguk think he has personal experience with soulmates. He fingers the band on his left wrist absentmindedly. He doesn’t, not really. But he does know a lot more than the average person simply because he lives in this world ruled by the whims of fate and he works in a library.

Not that you can’t find anything about soulmates online that you can in a library because all that information is on the internet, but Hoseok has always felt an affinity for books.

Their stories are also silent.

Hoseok worries his lip between his teeth. He’s always held the firm belief that people still have a right to choose what form their relationship takes with their soulmate. He thinks that it’s really easy to just assume love is a done deal, that you meet your soulmate and that’s it. You’ve found true and everlasting love.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But for Hoseok the idea of being resigned to love with your soulmate is a bit stifling. Wouldn’t it be so much better if you made the active choice to love them? If you take the time to examine a relationship with them from every angle before deciding the best approach?

Hoseok feels, above all else, that people have the choice over how their relationship with their soulmate develops, even if most people never think about it long enough to understand that.

Then again, Hoseok always has enough time because of his silence to think about a lot of things that most people don’t.

***

Yoongi moves back in completely and Hoseok doesn't make any sort of move to stop him from doing so.

He doesn't know what Yoongi does with his and Seokjin's apartment, but he can't find it in himself to care, really. He doesn't realize it until one night when they're both buried under the covers, legs tangled, that he's missed Yoongi in his space. He's missed the quiet Saturday afternoons spent reading together, the lazy Sunday mornings when neither of them bother to get out of bed until noon and Yoongi makes them both breakfast.

He's missed Yoongi fiercely and doesn't realize it until Yoongi is back by his side, three years after he left. He's missed Yoongi so much that he doesn't even bother telling him that he has a guest room, he just keeps letting Yoongi sleep in his bed with him because time has made him weak and selfish and wanting.

Hoseok thinks about the kiss-that-wasn't a lot. He wonders how differently things would have turned out if he hadn't hesitated.

He wonders if the growing tension he feels between them is something Yoongi notices or if it's just him.

 

Gone are the days when they would go out dancing every weekend. Yoongi was never the biggest fan of dancing anyway, and Hoseok doesn't go unless Jimin actually begs him, and even then, it's not the same because dancing with Jimin, Chanyeol and Sehun now is different with Lu Han in the mix.

So Hoseok stays in most weekends, except now Yoongi is here to keep him company.

"These movies are so weird; how can you watch this?" Yoongi gripes as Hoseok puts the third Harry Potter movie into the player and starts it.

They're classics and awesome, Hoseok signs, sitting back down next to Yoongi and nestling back under the blankets. Besides, he signs once he's situated comfortably. This one is one of the best and my favorite so don't complain.

Yoongi sighs but doesn't complain, turning his attention to the movie.

It's so easy to do this. To spend time together and just sit in easy companionship. Hoseok relaxes back into the couch and settles in to enjoy the movie.

 

A third of the way through the movie he becomes aware of the fact that Yoongi is staring at him more than he's watching the movie.

What? Hoseok asks when he's fast enough to catch Yoongi staring.

Yoongi doesn't say anything. Instead, he reaches over and wraps his arms around Hoseok's waist, pulling him between his legs until Hoseok is resting against his chest, Yoongi's arms wrapped around him tightly.

"Is this okay?" Yoongi asks softly, breath whispering across Hoseok's ear and cheek and making him shiver.

He nods, not trusting his hands to be steady enough to sign a longer response, adjusting the blanket to drape across them both instead.

In the two months since Yoongi's been living with him again, they haven't been this close. Sure, in the weeks after Seokjin left Hoseok spent a lot of time holding Yoongi and comforting him through the night, but this isn't Yoongi seeking out comfort. Not with the way his hands are tracing small circles across Hoseok's stomach.

Hoseok stops paying attention to the movie.

He's still staring at the TV, still technically watching, but all his attention is on the hands tracing patterns across his abdomen, Yoongi getting bolder and more insistent when Hoseok makes no effort to hide the shiver that runs through him when Yoongi's nose brushes against the side of his neck.

His eyes drift shut and he gives up any pretense of watching the movie, instead letting his head fall back against Yoongi's shoulder and going limp in his arms.

Yoongi winds one hand up the planes of his chest and tightens his hold around his waist with the other, hugging him tightly against his chest, and Hoseok doesn't fight it as his hands come up to rest on top of Yoongi's, fingers lacing together after a moment.

"Hoseok," Yoongi whispers into the skin of his neck, lips brushing against the shell of his ear. "I've missed you."

Hoseok gasps softly at the sensation, trying desperately to control the long-buried surge of desire and want. He's wanted Yoongi for so long now.

"I missed you more than I realized until I came back."

Hoseok opens his eyes and untangles their hands because it's important that he tell this to Yoongi. I've missed you too, more than you know. He hopes that the flickering light from the TV is enough to illuminate his hands.

Yoongi's arms tighten around him, pressing him closer still, and Hoseok knows that he saw it.

"I thought I would be hurting over Seokjin for so much longer than I was, but there's something about you that just eases away anything bad I'm feeling until all I can feel is how much I still want and need you." Yoongi's voice is a low murmur, just loud enough that Hoseok doesn't have to strain to hear it over the sound of the movie.

Hoseok takes a deep breath and wills courage into his bones. He shifts slightly in Yoongi's tight hold, turning slightly so that his head is resting on Yoongi's bicep rather than his shoulder so that he can look at Yoongi when he turns his head.

They're practically nose to nose.

I'm glad you're back, Hoseok signs, watching Yoongi's eyes dart to watch his hands. You're my best friend and I'm glad you're feeling better.

Yoongi raises a hand to cup his jaw. "Hoseok," he whispers, pulling Hoseok in slightly. "I—"

They're close, and Hoseok doesn't know what to do. He doesn't want to pull away, He wants to pull Yoongi in until there isn't space between them at all, wants to know what it would be like to kiss Yoongi, to have him, to be his.

Yoongi's eyes stare deeply into his own and Hoseok is helpless under them, unable to do anything but focus on pulling air in and out of his lungs.

There's a split second, centimeters separating their lips, where Yoongi's gaze flickers to Hoseok's left wrist. His gaze flickers to Hoseok's left wrist and he releases Hoseok's jaw and pulls away slightly.

Hoseok wants to scream but he can't. Yoongi's still staring at him, eyes never leaving Hoseok's as he searches Hoseok's eyes for something.

Hoseok doesn't know if he finds what he's looking for in Hoseok's eyes, but he finds something because he looks away, resting his arm around Hoseok's stomach again and pulling him back flush against his chest once more.

They return their attention to the movie, but not until after Yoongi presses a single, fleeting kiss to the side of Hoseok's neck.

Hoseok burns for more, but the weight of too many years of secrets keeps him from doing anything to soothe the fire Yoongi has ignited in his blood.

Hoseok has to tell him, and soon.

***

4 years ago

 

Hoseok loves going to the club.

It doesn’t matter which one, so long as he can dance.

It’s an ideal way to spend a Friday night in Hoseok’s opinion. He can dance, Yoongi can drink BamBam and Jackson under the table, it’s perfect for everyone, really.

Hoseok spends exactly fifteen minutes with Yoongi at their table with Jeongguk, Yugyeom, Jackson, Mark and BamBam doing shots before the music sinks into his bones and drives him onto the floor.

Tonight he leaves for the dance floor faster than usual, craving the oblivion that comes when all he can think about is the way his body moves to the music instead of the strange tension that’s been lingering between himself and Yoongi ever since Yoongi almost kissed him.

It’s not like things have been uncomfortable between them, it hasn’t. But things haven’t been as easy as they were a month ago. There’s less casual cuddling, more distance, but Yoongi still smiles at him with the same ease that he did before and that’s probably the most important thing.

So Hoseok dances.

And one of the best things about being a person involved in the club scene is that he often sees the same people on the dance floor. He’s never lacking for people to dance with, and tonight is no exception.

He spends a comfortable two songs loosening up next to Jimin, matching Jimin’s slow rolls and fluid movements with bigger and brighter moves of his own until he’s sunk so deep into the music that time ceases to matter and all that exists is his breathing and the beat.

Jimin is fun and easy to dance with, but he’s not what Hoseok needs tonight. Hoseok wants to be touched, and as handsy as Jimin can be he’s mostly only handsy with his soulmate Chanyeol. He’d be more upset if they weren’t so damn cute together.

Jimin disappears from his side at some point—Hoseok suspects it’s to join Chanyeol, who’s laughing with Baekhyun, by the bar—but he’s not lonely. Not when he catches Sehun’s eye across the floor and coaxes the shy dancer over with an easy smile and a lift of his eyebrow and it’s easy to trade one for the other.

Damn, he loves dancing with Sehun. He’s so tall, taller than Hoseok, which makes it easy for Hoseok to loop his arms around Sehun’s neck and slide close, breathing easier when Sehun’s hands come to rest heavy on his hips because this is what he needs. He needs to be touched by somebody.

What he loves most about dancing with Sehun, though, is feeling him warm up to Hoseok every time. Shy by nature, no matter how often they get hot and heavy in the club Sehun always starts off hesitant, unsure how close he can get. Sehun is one of the few people Hoseok knows who still hasn’t found his soulmate, and even if their relationship is less talking and more dancing it’s nice to know that when he slides his hands down the lines of Sehun’s shoulders to rest on the broad planes of his chest he’s not causing problems.

“How are you?” Sehun asks, pulling Hoseok tight against him so he can talk into his ear over the music.

Hoseok has spent enough time with Sehun, both in clubs and on campus, to know that he could sign a response. Sehun’s been around him long enough to understand simple sign language, but the problem with that is that Hoseok would actually have to take his hands off Sehun’s nicely shaped pecs and he really doesn’t want to do that right now.

Instead, he turns his head and presses a gentle, open-mouthed kiss to the side of Sehun’s neck.

It’s the same thing as saying: “I’m good, and you?”

Sehun’s hands press into his lower back, encouraging the way Hoseok moves against him to the music.

Hoseok lets his eyes drift shut so that all he knows is the bass vibrating in his bones, Sehun’s hips against his, the flicker of the lights through his eyelids. A part of him is always surprised by how at ease he feels with Sehun. There’s something about the way his quiet ease tangles with Hoseok’s permanent silence that makes Hoseok feel like Sehun is actually listening to the movements of his body, catching every expression and feeling as perfectly as if he’d actually been able to express them out loud.

Hoseok’s breath hitches in his chest as Sehun slides a thigh between his legs, rolling his hips into Hoseok’s as his hands slide up his back to thread through his hair. He doesn’t fight the shiver through his body as Sehun tugs gently, pulling his head back slightly so he can press a soft kiss to the corner of Hoseok’s mouth.

Hoseok wants to give in, but he also wants to tease because he knows from past experience how much fun it is to tease Sehun. So instead of tilting his head slightly to slot their lips together he reaches up and pulls Sehun’s hands down to his hips and turns around, pressing himself flush to Sehun’s chest and hips and grinding back into Sehun as filthily as he knows how.

Sehun’s hands are everywhere, lingering on his hips, his thighs, teasing across his stomach and slipping beneath the hem of his shirt to brush against the skin just beneath the waistband of his pants.

Hoseok feels heat simmer his blood. He reaches down with a hand and tangles his fingers with Sehun’s on his hip. And it’s not anything more than what they’ve done before, he’s used to this when he dances with Sehun. What he’s not used to is the hot press of lips against his neck. He can’t help the gasp that escapes him, or the way he tilts his neck to give Sehun more room to work.

He manages to keep it together until Sehun gets to the shell of his ear and licks down his ear until he bites down on his earlobe. So much for teasing Sehun. He spins around, hands reaching up to wrap around Sehun’s neck and pull him down to meet Hoseok’s lips and yeah, that’s what he needs.

Hoseok’s never actually kissed Sehun before, so he’s not sure what to expect. But of all the things he was expecting to feel, what he wasn’t expecting was the sense of rightness as their lips slide together, Sehun’s tongue pressing and teasing across his bottom lip until Hoseok parts his lips so Sehun can slide into his mouth in a smooth, slick glide.

Hoseok grips at Sehun’s hair in an effort to just stay standing at this point, never mind dancing, shuddering when Sehun groans into his mouth at the sensation, his hands sliding from his lower back to rub over Hoseok’s ass, pressing their hips tighter together and fuck yeah does it feel good.

Sehun has always felt good and Hoseok is wondering why in the hell it took him this long to get here.

Sehun pulls away to breathe, so Hoseok takes the opportunity to kiss along the length of Sehun’s jaw like he’s always thought of doing.

“How about we get some water and get out of here?” Sehun asks into his ear, and even after the way they’ve been all over each other, even with the way Hoseok is currently working a bruise into the skin of his neck, Sehun still manages to sound tentative and unsure. It’s the most endearing thing Hoseok’s ever heard.

He nods and drops his hands from around Sehun’s neck, tangling the fingers of one hand with Sehun’s and leading him off the dance floor to the bar.

They bump into Yoongi before they can get to the bar for some much needed water.

“Hey Yoongi,” Sehun greets, trying to wave down the bartender.

“You ready to go home?” Yoongi asks, ignoring Sehun. There’s something dark in his eyes as he watches Sehun’s arms wrap around Hoseok from behind, their hands still entwined.

Hoseok lifts an eyebrow at Yoongi and shakes his head. Obviously not.

Yoongi crosses his arms. “Let’s go home, Hoseok.”

Hoseok reels back, giving Yoongi a look of confusion and freeing his other hand from Sehun’s so that he can talk.

I’m not going home, Yoongi, he signs, making sure to keep his hands low enough that Sehun can’t see exactly what he’s saying.

“It’s late, Hoseok,” Yoongi reasons. Hoseok doesn’t know what he’s trying to say.

Sehun presses a cool glass of water into his hands and he drinks it down in a few quick gulps.

He reaches over to set it back on the bar so that he can say what he needs to say to Yoongi, what he probably should have said the first time. I’m going home with Sehun, Yoongi. I’m not coming home tonight.

Yoongi’s eyes widen in shock and he looks for a second like he’s going to say something, but Hoseok pulls Sehun away and walks out of the club before he has to hear it.

“My place?” Sehun suggests when the cool night air hits their faces.

Hoseok nods in the split second before he presses Sehun up against the wall of the club and kisses him until they’re both breathless.

He doesn’t think about Yoongi again.

***

Hoseok is constantly being surprised by Yoongi.

It’s not that he doesn’t know Yoongi well, it’s that Yoongi is unpredictable in the best way and Hoseok is never prepared for it.

It’s been a week since Yoongi almost kissed him—that’s what happened and they both know it, even if it remains unacknowledged between them—and here they are again, movie on quietly in the background as they curl up together on the couch.

There’s no preamble, however, this time and Yoongi pulls him against him during the opening credits, resting his chin on Hoseok’s shoulder and lacing their fingers together on Hoseok’s stomach.

Hoseok doesn’t even remember what movie they’re watching. All he’s aware of is the way Yoongi’s fingers tangle and play with his own, or the way Yoongi’s breath ghosts across his cheek with each exhale. All he’s aware of is the desire simmering in his blood and begging him to do something to sate it.

Hoseok still hasn’t told him.

He frees his hands from Yoongi’s, intent on doing just that because he has to tell him, and shifts slightly so that he can watch Yoongi as he tells him.

He twists in Yoongi’s arms to tell him and meets Yoongi’s lips with his own as Yoongi surges forward.

He’s about to pull away from the kiss because this isn’t what he intended and he needs to talk to Yoongi, but then Yoongi slides his hand along his jaw and tangles his fingers in Hoseok’s hair and Hoseok decides that talking can wait because kissing Yoongi is like nothing else he’s ever experienced.

The desire that’s been simmering in his bones for the last two years roars to life, encouraging him as he twists more in Yoongi’s arms and runs his hands along Yoongi’s chest, up around his neck, into his soft hair. The shift in their positions allows for more room to move and explore, and Hoseok feels sparks fly as Yoongi tilts his head and deepens the kiss, his hand tightening in Hoseok’s hair and his other hand pressing Hoseok closer to him by the small of his back.

Hoseok’s entire world shrinks to the feeling of Yoongi’s hands on him, his tongue sweeping through his mouth, the way Yoongi groans softly into the kiss as Hoseok shifts yet again to straddle Yoongi’s lap. It takes all of his self-control not to grind down into Yoongi’s lap like he wants to. Instead he keeps the kiss where it’s at, the niggling thought of you still haven’t told him teasing him in the back of his mind.

But that doesn’t stop him from gasping into Yoongi’s mouth when Yoongi’s fingers slip under the hem of Hoseok’s sweater to brush against the skin of his lower back because everything with Yoongi feels bigger, brighter, more intense.

One kiss is all it takes for Hoseok to know that what he has with Yoongi—all that they could be—is more than anything he had with Sehun. One kiss is all it takes for Hoseok to know that the sooner he tells Yoongi, the better.

Yoongi winds down the kiss, gradually shifting from kissing Hoseok deeply and thoroughly to softly and sweetly until Hoseok is limp against him, relaxed and slightly overwhelmed. Hoseok shifts down the couch and Yoongi stretches out, holding out his arms so that Hoseok can tuck himself between Yoongi and the couch, draping his arm and leg across Yoongi’s body.

“I’ve wanted you for so long, Hoseok,” Yoongi whispers as he brushes a kiss against Hoseok’s forehead. “I still do.”

Hoseok tightens his hold around Yoongi, and even though he can’t really sign or say anything, he thinks Yoongi understands the message in his gesture.

Me too.

***

2 years ago

 

 

How are things with Taehyung? Hoseok asks, showing Jeongguk his phone screen so he can read his question.

He's sitting across from Jeongguk, watching him hungrily scarf down dinner. It's been a few months since Yoongi moved in with Seokjin and Jeongguk met Taehyung, a few weeks since Jeongguk asked him if you had to love your soulmate, and Hoseok would be remiss if he didn't check in on Jeongguk after a conversation like that.

"Good," Jeongguk says, swallowing quickly. "They're really good."

I'm glad to hear that, Hoseok types out. Did you decide to pursue a relationship?

"Yeah," Jeongguk says around another mouthful of food. "What you said was really helpful and it took some of the pressure that I was feeling off. Once I stopped thinking I had to fall in love with him, actually falling for him was a lot easier." He laughs. "Seriously, thank you Hobi."

Hoseok smiles widely.

"Hey, can I ask you something?" Jeongguk asks after a moment of quiet chewing.

Hoseok nods and gestures for Jeongguk to continue.

"How long have you had your soulmate?"

Hoseok chokes.

What? He types out, wheezing.

Jeongguk eyes him across the table. "I've noticed your band around your wrist, and you know too much about them to not have one."

Hoseok's gaze falls to his food in front of him. This is the first time anyone has asked him point blank about his soulmate and he deliberates over what to say for a lot longer than he normally does.

I met my soulmate two years ago, he types, deciding that maybe now is the time to trust someone. I don't talk about it because they don't know I'm their soulmate and I don't want them to be stuck with someone who can't talk back to them. Someone who can't mark them like they've marked me.

Jeongguk's mouth drops open as he reads Hoseok's words. "That's the stupidest reasoning I've ever heard."

Hoseok's face twists into a scowl. They're also dating someone else, he adds. I don't want to ruin something that's already better than what I could give them.

"That's...really stupid," Jeongguk says. "I get that you want them to be happy and everything, but I would want to know, even if I was dating someone else and happy."

Hoseok shrugs. This is my choice.

Jeongguk opens his mouth to argue but nothing comes out.

He can't really argue with that, and Hoseok knows it.

If it becomes necessary, I'll tell them. But not when doing so could ruin their happiness. He finishes typing and shows Jeongguk. I would appreciate it if you didn't tell anyone about this, he adds as an afterthought. Not that Jeongguk would, but he doesn't want people to find out he has a soulmate who will never find him because he can't speak and have yet another reason to pity him.

Jeongguk nods solemnly and returns to his food.

After a moment, Hoseok does the same.

***

After everything he’s dealt with in life, Hoseok really should have expected this to happen.

It happens like this:

 

“Hoseok, I need you to tell me something,” Yoongi says from where he’s hovering above him.

They’re stretched out on the couch, trading lazy kisses in the warm afternoon sun and Hoseok feels like he could really get used to spending Sundays like this.

What, he mouths, too lazy to take his hands away from the warm skin of Yoongi’s back beneath his shirt to sign.

“What happened to your soulmate?” Yoongi asks, ducking down to mouth along Hoseok’s jaw.

Hoseok tries to stay calm, but he can tell by the way Yoongi’s lips still on his neck that he’s felt Hoseok tense beneath him.

Yoongi pulls back. “Hoseok, what happened to your soulmate?”

Hoseok pulls his hands away from Yoongi’s back and pulls them into the space between them, Yoongi pulling back slightly to give him more room to talk.

Nothing happened to them, they’re fine, he signs, not bothering to refute the existence of his soulmate like he has in the past. He’s been trying to tell Yoongi anyway.

“Then where are they?” Yoongi asks softly. He gestures to Hoseok’s left wrist and the ever-present leather band around it. “Who are they and why aren’t you with them?”

Hoseok fingers the leather in thought, nerves swooping through him and making his fingers shake slightly. He flicks his gaze up to Yoongi’s, eyes catching and holding in the warm pools of chocolate brown of Yoongi’s eyes. He slips the cuff off his wrist and lets it drop to the floor. I am with him, he signs, left wrist bare for the first time in four years.

He watches as the words take a minute to register with Yoongi, waiting until—

“What the fuck?” Yoongi whispers, emotions flicking across his features too fast for Hoseok to process. “Hoseok, what the actual fuck?” Yoongi grabs his wrist and sits up, pulling Hoseok up with him.

Yoongi is staring blankly at the words inked across Hoseok’s wrist. ‘You don’t talk much, do you?’

Hoseok gently pull his wrist from Yoongi’s hold. I can explain, he signs, fingers shaking with nerves and apprehension.

Yoongi is staring sightlessly at his hands. “You’ve known we were soulmates for four years and you didn’t tell me?” Yoongi is so, so calm when he says this.

Hoseok stops breathing. I didn’t want to limit you to someone who couldn’t talk back. We’d just met and I didn’t want to do that—

Yoongi stands up abruptly and walks away. Hoseok isn’t even sure if he understood what he’d been signing. He sits frozen on the couch for a second, leaping into action when he hears the sound of Yoongi grabbing his keys and shoving his shoes on.

If he can just get Yoongi to listen to him.

Wait, let me explain! Hoseok signs desperately, trying to make Yoongi watch his hands. But Yoongi shakes his head and walks out the door without saying another word.

The quiet snick as the door shuts gently behind him sounds as loud as a thunderclap.

***

3 years ago

 

It's easier than Hoseok thought it would be to fall in love with Sehun.

Everything about being with Sehun is effortless. The way Sehun so easily reads Hoseok, the way he can tell by looking at Hoseok's face what he's thinking and almost eliminating a need for Hoseok to talk with his hands at all. The ease with which they fall between the sheets, time and time again, until Hoseok craves Sehun's hands on his skin all the time, and Sehun knows exactly how good Hoseok is with his hands.

They spend a lot of time in bed, Hoseok riding Sehun with slow, easy circles of his hips or Sehun hovering above him, rocking into him deep and fast.

Hoseok thinks that maybe that's part of the reason why Yoongi suggested that instead of continuing to live together after college they get their own apartments.

It would probably hurt more that Yoongi wanted to live apart if he wasn't so pre-occupied with the way Sehun is able to kiss him breathless.

 

His days are filled with books and quiet—thanks to his new job at the public library—and his nights are filled with Sehun and he's happy. Happier than he's been in a long time.

They go dancing a lot.

Jimin and Chanyeol often drag them to a different club every weekend, and Hoseok loves it. He loves how much lighter he feels after a night watching Chanyeol coax smile after smile from Jimin and Sehun with his ridiculous dancing and goofy jokes.

"You seem a lot happier now," Jimin says on one such night. They're both sitting out for a song and relaxing into the seats around the table, watching as their boyfriends make idiots of themselves on the dance floor.

Hoseok smiles brightly and nods. It's not that he wasn't happy before, but there's something about being in love that brightens a person.

"Sehun is a great guy," Jimin says fondly.

So is Chanyeol, Hoseok types. Jimin scoots closer along the bench to read off his phone screen.

"He really is," Jimin says softly, eyes dreamy.

How did you meet?

Jimin laughs softly as he reads Hoseok's question. "We actually met in a club. He was watching me dance and kept making eyes at me from where he was sitting at the bar." He shrugs. "It was really simple. I eventually walked up to him and just said 'I saw you watching me dance' and he said, 'can you blame me?' and it happened. The tingle, the rush of it...it was like everything and nothing I was taught as a kid."

That's oddly sweet, Hoseok types, a soft smile lingering on his face. You're both disgustingly cute.

Jimin giggles. "I'm pretty lucky. I couldn't have asked for a better soulmate, honestly."

Hoseok wishes, fleetingly, that Sehun could be his soulmate so that this happiness could last and moments like this, with Jimin and Chanyeol and Sehun, would never fade or tarnish with the relentless press of time.

But time is incessant, and no happiness can last forever.

 

His happiness lasts until they're out getting coffee, Hoseok talking animatedly with his hands about his fight with an older woman over an overdue book while Sehun laughs next to him.

"You have the best stories," he giggles, breathless with laughter. "It makes me want to work there too."

Hoseok rolls his eyes, laughing slightly when Sehun bursts into another round of giggles.

"I'm going to get a refill," Sehun says when he's calmed down enough for normal speech. "Do you want anymore?"

Hoseok shakes his head and watches as Sehun stands up and turns to walk back to the counter for a refill. He's unable—for obvious reasons—to shout and warn Sehun about the man in the split second before he crashes into him.

"I'm so sorry—are you alright?" Sehun says, helping the smaller man up from where he's been laid flat by Sehun's larger frame.

"Wow, you're pretty," the man says, looking up slightly at Sehun with beautiful almond eyes, brown hair fluffy around his head.

Hoseok sees it before they realize what's just happened, and he feels his heart shudder when he sees the curling black script appear on Sehun's wrist.

"Oh, no," Sehun says, looking between a stricken Hoseok and the man he's just helped up, eyes wide. "I can't believe this is happening now."

"Oh, wow," the man says, pale skin flushing slightly. "You're my soulmate. I'm Lu Han."

He looks excited, Hoseok thinks. This kid—Lu Han—hasn't realized yet what is happening, but Sehun looks horrified.

It's okay, Hoseok signs when Sehun finally meets his gaze. You can be happy, Sehun. Hoseok feels a bit like crying for a week and never leaving his apartment, but he doesn't want to tarnish this moment with Lu Han because you only meet your soulmate once, and how you react is so important. Talk to him, we can talk later.

Sehun nods and turns back to face Lu Han fully, the latter too in awe to process the exchange between Hoseok and Sehun. "I'm Sehun, it's nice to meet you."

Hoseok quietly leaves the cafe, sending a text to Sehun while he walks home telling him to take his time and to come to his apartment when he can.

Sehun comes over a few hours later and that's it. Hoseok watches Sehun walk out his door an hour or two later, a final goodbye on his fingertips and the heartbreak that comes from losing someone you love to their soulmate settling deep into his bones.

Hoseok doesn't date again.

***

The problem with being mute is that you can’t talk to someone unless they want to talk to you.

It’s been two hours since Yoongi walked away from him, not giving him a chance to explain and just leaving. Hoseok doesn’t know if he wants to cry or scream more, but doubts that anything would make him feel better. He hasn’t responded to any of the texts Hoseok has sent. He wonders if that’s his answer.

The problem with being mute is that he can’t demand Yoongi’s attention, that no matter how differently he wishes the revelation that they’re soulmates would have happened nothing can change the way he didn’t get a chance to explain his reasoning, to tell Yoongi everything, from the beginning. Not when all Yoongi has to do is walk away when he doesn’t want to talk anymore.

More than anything, Hoseok spends the next two hours wishing he could just talk to Yoongi. He can’t help but think that if he could just explain then everything—

“Explain,” says Yoongi, scaring Hoseok so badly that he jumps a foot off the ground and whirls around. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he didn’t even hear Yoongi return. He stands frozen in the middle of their room as Yoongi gently pulls him to the bed and sits him down, sitting across from him. “Explain,” he says again, quieter this time.

I didn’t tell you at first because I didn’t want to trap you with someone who would never mark you back, who could never tell you that I love you, no matter how in love with you I am. Hoseok takes a deep shuddering breath. It’s harder than he thought, telling Yoongi everything, but each twist of his wrist lifts a weight from his shoulders that he didn’t know he was carrying. I didn’t trust you yet and I didn’t want to trap you, that first time you tried to kiss me, so that’s why I hesitated, even though I probably would have kissed you if you hadn’t pulled away.

“We could have had so much time together,” Yoongi whispers, and when Hoseok looks up all he can see in Yoongi’s eyes is devastation. “I was half in love with you then, when I tried to kiss you, and I thought you had a different soulmate.”

I’m so sorry, Hoseok says, feeling guilt sit sour in his mouth. I started dating Sehun and then you started dating Seokjin, and by the time I’d realized what I’d done you were so happy with Seokjin and I figured that your happiness was the most important thing, so I kept quiet.

I couldn’t tell you when Seokjin found his soulmate because you were grieving and going through a breakup, which would have been the worst possible time for me to say something. Hoseok pauses, fingers stilling for a moment before he continues, figuring that he may as well say everything while he’s talking and Yoongi’s listening. I was going to tell you later, after you healed a bit, but then I heard your conversation with Seokjin at Jeongguk’s party and I knew that you weren’t ready, that you weren’t in the right place to hear anything like that, and—

“You heard that?” Yoongi interrupts, expression stricken.

Hoseok nods, then continues. I didn’t want you to know until I was sure that you were over Seokjin, that you didn’t want him anymore and I wanted to know that if I told you, I would know that if you wanted to pursue a romantic relationship it was because you wanted me, and not because I was your soulmate.

Yoongi reaches over and brushes away a tear from Hoseok’s cheek. He didn’t even realize he’d started crying.

So, now you know. I’m so, so sorry Yoongi, but I hope you understand why I didn’t tell you until I did.

He’s expecting a lot of things. He’s expecting Yoongi to yell at him, get angry and indignant, maybe storm out again, but he’s not expecting Yoongi to pull him close and hug him tightly. “Hoseok, I need you to listen to me very carefully.”

Hoseok nods slowly.

“I don’t know if I believe in soulmates, but I do know that you mean more to me than I ever thought possible,” Yoongi says, voice choking on emotion. “I know that soulmate or not, I’d choose you because somehow, over the years, I’ve managed to fall in love with you too.”

Hoseok pulls away, wiping at a few more tears that track down his face and looking at Yoongi, whose own eyes are beginning to well with tears. “I forgive you, and I’m sorry too, for taking so long to find you when you were right in front of me the whole time.” He reaches for Hoseok, pulling him in and kissing him, both of them still struggling to get ahold of their tears, but Hoseok falls into the kiss so effortlessly he wonders how he managed to live without this.

It takes them a while to calm down, for the tears to stop and the relief of finally finding each other set in, and when it does the kisses turn from something tender and sweet to something urgent and needy until Yoongi is pressing Hoseok back against the mattress and ridding him of his clothes.

Hoseok marvels at the smooth lines of Yoongi’s torso as he hovers above him, fingers wandering over warm skin and memorizing the shape of Yoongi while Yoongi does the same to him, fingers warm and searching.

Hoseok gasps at the first press of a slick finger, drags his blunt nails down the skin of Yoongi’s back with the second finger, and bites a mark into the skin of Yoongi’s collarbone with the third, but it’s nothing compared to the way he wishes he could scream with pleasure when Yoongi finds the right spot with his fingers.

Yoongi withdraws his fingers after a moment, and Hoseok experiences true loss because he’s always loved Yoongi’s hands but damn if he doesn’t love them even more now. He only misses them for a second, though, before Yoongi is sliding in, filling him until all Hoseok can feel is complete.

“You feel so good,” Yoongi gasps against his lips, trailing kisses along his jaw and neck while Hoseok adjusts around him.

Instead of encouraging Yoongi to start moving, Hoseok rolls them over and settles over Yoongi and begins to move, watching the way Yoongi’s eyelids flutter in pleasure, the way his breathing stutters as Hoseok leans in closer to kiss along Yoongi’s collarbone and changes the angle.

I love you, his lips say as they suck marks into Yoongi’s collarbone, shoulder neck. You’re mine, he says, biting down gently on Yoongi’s ear as he grinds back down on Yoongi.

“You’re beautiful, baby,” Yoongi moans, thrusting back into Hoseok at just the right angle to have pleasure pooling and coiling hot and tight in his abdomen. Hoseok pulls away from Yoongi’s neck to move to his lips—craving the deep, sensual kiss that Yoongi eagerly returns, tongue sweeping through Hoseok’s mouth in a smooth, skillful glide—the rhythm of their hips never faltering. He wonders if Yoongi has ever applied his skillful tongue anywhere else before.

He leans back when it gets too hard to maintain the kiss and the pace as the intensity builds, gaze catching with Yoongi’s as he gyrates his hips. He shudders as release rips through him, Yoongi’s hands tight on his hips as he holds him steady through it. I love you, Yoongi, he manages to sign with shaking fingers.

He knows Yoongi saw it when he finds his release a second later, pulling Hoseok flush to his chest as they slowly come down from the high together.  

They stay like that for a long, golden moment until Yoongi rolls them both, slipping out of Hoseok and getting up to toss the condom in the wastebasket and coming back with a washcloth, cleaning them both up before crawling between the sheets to snuggle close to Hoseok once more.

Hoseok drifts off to Yoongi placing gentle kisses against his neck and jaw, whispered ‘I love you’s’ lulling him into sleep.

 

Hoseok wakes up in the middle of the night with an idea, joy radiating through him, and quickly gets up to jot it down before he forgets it. When he’s sure he’s gotten it all down, he slips back into bed—quietly because Yoongi is a light sleeper—and curls back around Yoongi, reveling in the new feeling of his skin pressed against Yoongi’s between the sheets.

 

Later—after Yoongi’s fucked him slow and easy in the late morning sun, hands tangling with each other’s in the sheets and Yoongi’s whispered ‘I love you’s’ pressed into the skin of his neck—he hands the sheet of staff paper he’d scribbled on in the middle of the night to Yoongi.

“What is this?” Yoongi asks, looking at the nine notes drawn neatly into the spaces and lines of the paper.

The first words I ever said to you, Hoseok signs, smile growing as he watches Yoongi understand what he’s given him. It’s the beginning of the melody he created, the one he whistled for Yoongi years ago.

Yoongi looks at him, eyes bright and glassy, and says: “Thank you, Hoseok.”

Hoseok leans forward to press his lips to Yoongi’s gently and it sounds like ‘You’re welcome.’

 

A few days later—when they both manage to leave the bedroom long enough to be responsible adults who don’t call into work sick—Yoongi comes back home, nine notes inked between staff lines on his wrist, an answer to the question inked on Hoseok’s own wrist.

I do talk, but only for you.