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Belong Among the Wildflowers (Belong Somewhere Close to Me)

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You have the heart of a gardener, and because of this, you think of consequence. 
—Patrick Rothfuss, Critical Role

 

 

 

 

 

Yoongi’s Wednesday night to-do list includes taking off his pants, eating the Thai food he picked up on the way home from work, and hopefully passing out ten minutes into the latest Animal Planet documentary on orca whales.

In other words, Yoongi’s Wednesday night to-do list most definitely does not include picking Jeongguk up from his job at a flower shop downtown.

He’s already completed step one: he had discarded his pants almost immediately after coming home, dumping them on the floor right inside his bedroom. Comfortable in a plain t-shirt and his boxers, he’s about to take on step two. He grabs a can of Coke from the refrigerator when his phone starts ringing.

The caller-id photo shows a lovely shot up Jeongguk’s nose. Yoongi tucks the phone between his ear and shoulder as he answers, precariously balancing his dinner in his hands and taking it to his coffee table. “What’s up?”

“Hi, Yoongi,” Jeongguk says in a childish singsong. That voice is always a bad sign.

“What do you want now?”

“What, can’t a guy check in on his best friend in the whole world?” he asks. Somewhere in the background, Yoongi hears a playful, muffled voice shout, “I thought I was your best friend, asshole!” and then a soaring peal of laughter.

“I mean, maybe, except you’ve never wanted to check in on me before, so.”

Jeongguk huffs into the phone. “Fine. Can you come pick me up? My bike’s got a flat tire.”

“Absolutely not.” Yoongi digs a shrimp out of his pad thai and pops it in his mouth. “Have your new boyfriend take you home.”

“He can’t—he’s still working. Please?” There’s a beat of silence, and Yoongi can all but hear Jeongguk pouting. Then Jeongguk tries a different tactic. “It’ll take an hour for me to walk home! Probably even more if I have to drag my bike around. I’ll buy you lamb skewers the next time we go out. Yoongi, I swear.”

Yoongi rolls his eyes. He knows for a fact that this will not happen. Jeongguk has not paid for lamb skewers in probably four whole years. The number of Jeongguk’s meals that Yoongi’s paid for is exorbitant at this point. “Alright,” he grumbles nevertheless, because Yoongi has always been (and probably always will be) a huge pushover for this kid.

Yoongi hangs up while Jeongguk is in the middle of saying thank you. He’ll pick Jeongguk up, sure, but not before he finishes dinner. As he shoves rice noodles into his mouth, he wonders vaguely how much money he’s spent on lamb skewers since he’s known Jeongguk. Four years of street food is probably equal to a new television. Or a couple months’ worth of bills.

When he’s done, Yoongi dumps his dishes in the sink with a careless clatter and then complains to himself as he goes to put pants back on. He glares at his work pants strewn and twisted on his bedroom floor like a broken marionette. Like hell is he wearing those again. He grabs the first pair of sweatpants he finds in the bottom drawer of his dresser. He has no idea whose pants they are. They’re almost certainly not his, light grey with a faded, pizza-sauce-red stain on the left thigh. They could be Jeongguk’s, could be Namjoon’s. He doesn’t know anymore, but he also doesn’t particularly care.

When he climbs into his car, in his unidentified sweats and rubber sandals, he’s struck by the sinking feeling that he’s going to get roped into driving Jeongguk around for a few days until he can fix his bike. Jeongguk’s lucky he’s cute.

✿ ✿ ✿

The shop at which Jeongguk works—cheesily called Tulips & Kisses—is pretty famous, as far as flower shops go. People say that the owner can grow flowers out of the palms of his hands. He talks to his plants and they answer him in a language no one else understands. Or something to that effect.

Not many people have magic these days. Yoongi certainly doesn’t have any. And he’s met only a handful of other people in the entire city who do, though it’s all been small, quiet kinds of magic. One of his coworkers’ mothers can make a teapot boil in seconds, for instance; a guy he used to know in college could change the color of his hair at will. Trivial oddities that are worth writing home about, but just barely.

The druidic magic of the flower shop owner is only minutely more intriguing. It’s not a terribly useful sort of magic outside of the shop, Yoongi thinks. There’s no occasion of which he can think that would require him to be able to talk to some roses. Arguably more interesting is the mystery of how Jeongguk got the job there. Jeongguk doesn’t know shit about flowers. He also gets terrible hay fever. Yoongi is rather certain that he was only hired because his boyfriend, Kim something-or-another, works there too and put in a dozen good words.

Yoongi makes the drive in peace and even stops to pick up an iced Americano along the way. When he gets to the flower shop, with its etched door and quaint canary-yellow awning, he parks his car on the street and sits in silence. He sips his coffee and texts Jeongguk to hurry the fuck up.

Three minutes pass. Five. Eight. Yoongi sighs heavily and shakes the ice around in his nearly-empty cup. He finishes what’s left of his drink, gets out of his car, and tosses his garbage in the trashcan outside of the post office a few doors down.

A slow, old-timey jazz song plays softly from speakers above the flower shop’s door, a low voice waxing poetic about green clover and golden moonbeams. But more importantly, sitting in front of the door is a scrawny possum nibbling furiously at a watermelon rind.

“What the fuck,” Yoongi says under his breath. This was not what he expected to be dealing with tonight. He is not prepared to handle a possum.

There’s a wide push-broom leaning against the building’s façade, tucked behind a big pot of white snapdragons. He grabs it and holds it tight under his arm like a lance. “Get out of here,” he says as he rushes the possum down with the broom. The creature jumps, screeches violently, and skitters away down the alley along the side of the shop. Yoongi sweeps the remains of the watermelon to the curb while he’s at it.

The bell above the door chimes. Yoongi looks up. Standing there, laughing hysterically, is a man wearing a powder-blue apron over a white button-down, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. The man’s got an honest sort of face with soft, pink cheeks and blond hair the color of corn silk, and fuck, he might be the actual definition of beautiful.

“That was quite the spectacle,” Blondie says. His broad shoulders shake as his laughter dies down.

“I just came to pick up Jeongguk,” Yoongi says, voice tired and face red. He sets the broom back against the storefront and follows Blondie inside the shop. “But now I guess I’m going to add animal control to my résumé. Professional rodent fighter.”

Jeongguk appears from a back room, rolling his bike out on its rear wheel. “Possums aren’t rodents,” he says, matter-of-fact. He’s got sprigs of baby’s breath tucked into his hair, and there’s a fluffy weasel-looking thing balanced on his shoulders, curled around his neck like a plume of smoke. At this point, Yoongi can’t even find it in himself to question it.

There’s no one else in the shop but the three of them. Blondie, who Yoongi assumes must be Jeongguk’s boyfriend, is so far out of Jeongguk’s league. How did that shy nerd manage to ask this guy, who looks like personified elegance, out on a date? A strange spark of envy rushes through Yoongi’s head before he quashes it. He doesn’t need that in his life.

“I don’t care what possums are. Can we go?”

“Yeah, yeah, hold on.” To the weasel around his neck, Jeongguk says, “Bye, Taehyung,” before lifting it up and setting it gently on the floor. It nuzzles against his shin and then zooms away to hide beneath a miniature wheelbarrow. To Blondie, he says, “Thanks for buying dinner.”

“No problem. See you Friday, bunny.”

Jeongguk groans and pushes his bike out the door. “Please stop calling me that,” Jeongguk shouts before the door swings shut.

Bunny?” Yoongi asks incredulously as soon as Jeongguk stuffs his bike into the trunk of the car and settles into the passenger seat.

“He thinks it’s cute,” Jeongguk grumbles as he clicks his seat belt into place, but Yoongi thinks he catches a little smile fighting its way onto his lips.

✿ ✿ ✿

Yoongi dreams about Jeongguk’s boyfriend that night, which is approximately three hundred kinds of bad. It’s not like anything happened in the dream—Blondie was simply standing knee-deep in a sun-dappled river, looking like a gleaming apparition in the middle of the rushing water. It’s not like he had a sex dream. But god, was he beautiful, and no one can ever fucking know about this.

The next day in the office, after a stand-up meeting bolstered by a box of powdered donut holes and too-weak coffee, Miyoung announces to the conference room that she’s pregnant. There’s a lot of commotion in the office the rest of the day, and they don’t accomplish much even though they have a deadline to meet for tomorrow. Yoongi decides he should probably get a gift to congratulate her. That’s a thing people do, right? After all, he’s worked next to Miyoung for close to three years now.

On his way home, he goes back to Tulips & Kisses. Flowers are customary gifts for people you know arbitrarily but don’t know well enough to get them something more personal. And Jeongguk doesn’t work on Thursday nights—he said he was going on a bowling date tonight—so Yoongi will be able to avoid the grossly gorgeous boyfriend while still mooching off of Jeongguk’s friends-and-family discount.

He parks in the same spot he did last night, and luckily, there are no more critters waiting outside of the shop door. Today the speakers play an instrumental track that sounds like it belongs in a vintage Parisian café. He stuffs his hands into his jacket pockets and shoulders his way inside.

When he came to the shop yesterday, Yoongi was focused on getting in, getting Jeongguk, and getting out. (Okay, there was a lot of focus on Blondie, too, but mostly he just wanted to collect his charge and go back home.) But now he has the mind to look around at the shop.

The floors are dark, worn teak, and Yoongi’s footsteps sound heavy and hollow as he walks around. From the ceiling’s support beams hang copper wind chimes and stained glass sun-catchers in a morning-fog shade of blue. A cascade of twinkling prisms dangle in the front window like rain. And the flowers—they spill over flower pots and vases in bursts of pink and red and yellow. Yoongi doesn't necessarily care one way or another about flowers, but being here fills him with a keen sense nostalgia for something he’s never experienced. He’s not really sure how that even works.

Yoongi stops in front of a big bunch of chrysanthemums, dusty purple and round. “Hello there,” he says to the blooms, bringing his face closer to smell them.

“I wish you could hear them right now,” comes a soft voice off to his left.

Yoongi jolts back in surprise. The cogs in his brain spin desperately as he tries to make sense of Blondie sidling up next to him.

Blondie, as lovely as yesterday, has on the same pale blue work apron, this time over a fuzzy tan sweater, and he gets so close that Yoongi can tell he’s wearing pine-scented cologne. “No one but me ever tells the flowers hello,” Blondie continues. “You’ve made them quite happy.” He smiles warmly, his brown eyes crinkling.

“Aren’t you supposed to be out on a date?” Yoongi blurts.

“Pardon?” Blondie asks as he reaches out a hand to hover over the chrysanthemums. The stems seem to straighten a bit; the petals puff up and out like preening birds.

“Your date? With Jeongguk?”

Blondie explodes into squeaky, hiccuping laughter, his nose scrunching up. “Oh god, I’m not dating Jeongguk! I’m sorry, I guess I didn’t introduce myself yesterday. I’m Kim Seokjin. You’re thinking of Kim Taehyung, my cousin.”

And if that isn’t the biggest relief of the century, then Yoongi doesn’t know what is. He kind of wants to cheer for himself. His sandbox just got a lot bigger. He can stop feeling guilty and vaguely creeped out that Blondie—Seokjin—popped up in his dreams, and he can start focusing more on the tempting way the ties of the apron cinch in at Seokjin’s narrow waist. But the name Taehyung sounds familiar. He tries to place where he’s heard it before, drawing a blank. And then it dawns on him:  “Wait, Jeongguk called that weasel Taehyung.”

“Yep, that’s him. Tae’s got some wild magic in him.”

“Guk is dating a weasel.”

Seokjin smirks. “Among other things.”

Yoongi thinks he’s missing out on some big joke as Seokjin’s face breaks into a wide, roguish grin. “The fucking possum,” Yoongi mutters incredulously a moment later.

“The fucking possum,” Seokjin confirms solemnly.

Yoongi’s mouth is tight and twisted, as if he took a bite out of a lemon, until his lips too give way to a pained sort of laugh. “I literally chased your cousin down the street with a broom.” He adds accusingly, “And you watched me do it!”

“Taught him a lesson, I think. I warned him about turning into roadkill while he’s working. But I’m sure this conversation isn’t why you came here. Can I help you find something?”

Yoongi tells Seokjin about Miyoung, and Seokjin leads him through the shop explaining why flowers like lilies and jasmine aren’t great flowers to give expecting mothers, since their scents can be overwhelming.

Seokjin bounces back and forth between talking to Yoongi and talking to the flowers. All in all, this should be annoying, listening to these half-conversations that Seokjin holds in a cheery, placating voice, like a teacher talking to his students. One second he’ll be telling Yoongi about a stupid argument he overheard between Jeongguk and Taehyung, and the next second he’ll turn to a plant and say something like, “No, I don’t know when Hoseokie will be back in town, sorry.” It should be annoying, but it isn’t. Seokjin has more than enough energy to maintain both conversations, and it’s actually a little endearing.

“Here,” Seokjin says eventually, picking out a bouquet of coral flowers, all ruffled like a pleated skirt. “These are carnations. They’ll be in full bloom by tomorrow afternoon. And perfectly safe for mama-to-be.” Then he adds, almost shyly, “I grew these myself.”

Yoongi assumes that that means he grew them with his magic, and he wants to ask a million questions about how it works. He does not. Instead, he watches Seokjin swaddle the stems in iridescent cellophane at the front counter. “I think they’ll be perfect,” he says, and Seokjin smiles.

Before Yoongi leaves, he turns back, cradling the bouquet in his arms. “Earlier, you said you wished I could hear the flowers. What were they saying?”

“Oh, the chrysanthemums? You flustered them. They were flirting so hard. Bickering over which one is prettiest and wondering which one you’d pick.” Seokjin crouches down to sweep fallen petals and dry leaves into his hand. He glances up, a serious look in his eyes, and he looks pretty on his knees—no, bad, stop that. “Let’s be real. We all know that I’m the prettiest flower in this store.”

“Are you flirting with me, too?”

“Is it working?”

Yoongi grins. “I’d say so, yeah.”

“Then yes.”

✿ ✿ ✿

On Friday afternoon, Jeongguk walks to the flower shop, since Yoongi has an actual job whose description does not, in fact, include being Jeongguk’s personal taxi. He complains via text the entire hour-long journey. Yoongi’s busy at work, so he ignores most of the whiny texts. However, he does send one “Suck it up, bunny,” to which Jeongguk replies, “Why am I even your friend?”

Yoongi gives Miyoung the carnations, which are all fluffed up like pompoms, just like Seokjin said they’d be, and she hugs him, even though they’ve never hugged each other before. He wants to tell Seokjin thank you. The only way to do that right now, though, would be telling Jeongguk to relay the message, and Yoongi doesn’t particularly want Jeongguk meddling in his affairs.

After work, Yoongi doesn’t even go home. He goes straight to the flower shop. He gets there more than an hour before Jeongguk’s shift ends, but he reasons that’ll give him an excuse to witness Seokjin’s mere existence.

Seokjin, who is helping a man who appears to be completely torn between yellow roses and white roses, gives Yoongi dorky, clandestine finger-guns when he notices him walk in. Yoongi raises a disbelieving eyebrow, but he nods in return. Jeongguk is in the middle of writing tomorrow’s special prices on the big chalkboard behind the front counter, his shitass handwriting looking as bad as usual. Yoongi meets Taehyung—real Taehyung, human Taehyung—and he notices a distinct pattern that consists of Taehyung literally hanging off of Jeongguk whenever possible.

When the guy with the rose dilemma finally chooses his color, Yoongi thanks Seokjin for the carnations. He becomes a shadow behind Seokjin, following him as he continues to work, and Yoongi asks a question he thought about all day at the office: “Do you have a favorite flower?”

Seokjin flounders. “That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child,” he says, scandalized. “How about…hmm, I could tell you the funniest flower, instead.”

Unwittingly, Yoongi takes the bait. “Sure, that’ll work.”

“You’d think the funniest flowers would be orchids, right?” Seokjin asks, as if the answer is completely obvious. “Because, you know, they’re always or-kidding around.” He doesn’t even try to conceal his laughter at his own fucking joke. He slaps his thigh and nearly doubles over, his laugh a messy tambourine jangle that affects him so much that he has to hold on to the counter for support. It’s precious, to say the least, and Yoongi does not use the word “precious” on any standard basis.

Yoongi hides his face in his hands. He doesn’t want to admit that it was funny—because it wasn’t, not really—but he ends up breaking down anyway because Seokjin’s laugh is highly contagious.

“Actually, though,” Seokjin says as he catches his breath. “I’d say marigolds are the funniest flowers. Their delivery is always flawless. They’re the ones who came up with the orchid joke. Do you have a favorite flower?”

You, one part of Yoongi’s brain immediately supplies, remembering the way Seokjin bragged yesterday that he was the prettiest flower in the whole shop. A different part of his brain—the part that actually cares about dignity and image and general non-creepiness—says no. His mouth agrees with the latter option. “Not yet,” Yoongi says, but he files the first option away under potentially useful future pick-up lines.

✿ ✿ ✿

Saturday morning comes around, and while Yoongi drives Jeongguk to Tulips & Kisses again, he doesn’t stop inside. It’s been nearly two weeks since he’s gone grocery shopping, the inside of his car is a tornado of old receipts and half-empty water bottles, and he’s been meaning to fix his leaky bathroom sink for a month now. He’s got real adult errands to do today, because he’s a real adult.

As he’s putting a package of chicken thighs into his shopping cart, his phone vibrates in his pocket.

Jeon Bunny: Seokjin’s been asking about you.

MYG: Oh? What is he asking?

Jeon Bunny: You know, this and that. I’m telling him about that time you cried in public because you saw someone in a Kumamon costume on the train.

Jeon Bunny: I’m just kidding.

Jeon Bunny: He’s been singing to the flowers a lot since he met you.

Jeon Bunny: I’m sorryyyyyyyyy, I was joking about the Kumamon thing.

Jeon Bunny: You should ask him out.

Yoongi doesn’t answer, and he doesn’t get any further messages. But he can’t help the small, mushy smile that plays on his mouth.

When he goes back to the flower shop—for the fifth time in four days, for fuck’s sake—he walks into a three-part rendition of a Charlie Puth cover, Jeongguk’s voice high, Taehyung’s voice low, and Seokjin’s voice somewhere in between. They’re not taking it very seriously yet they still sound nice together, though Yoongi somehow can’t help but feel like they’re missing a voice.

Yoongi’s never exactly been one for subtlety, so when the song ends and Seokjin comes over to tuck tiny periwinkles behind Yoongi’s ears, he jumps right to the point. “Do you want to come get a drink with me tonight?” he asks, Seokjin’s hands still busy straightening the stems in Yoongi’s hair.

“I didn’t mean ask him tonight. You still have to drive me home,” Jeongguk whines from across the shop.

Taehyung hops up on the front counter and unpeels a banana. “I could turn into a horse and you could ride me home.”

“You will not,” Seokjin snaps, turning to glare at his cousin. Yoongi recalls how Seokjin told him the other day that although Taehyung’s magic is strong, it’s limited, and he struggles with animal forms that are much bigger than golden retrievers. “Remember that time you turned into a sheep and couldn’t figure out how to turn back for three days? Yeah, a horse is not fucking happening.”

Taehyung pouts before a wicked grin flashes across his face. He points his half-eaten banana in Jeongguk’s direction. “The offer to ride me still stands, though,” he says, cackling when Jeongguk’s face flares poppy-red.

Seokjin groans. “Please…stop.”

Yoongi steps in to railroad the conversation back to the most important part. “So. Drinks?”

“I appreciate the offer, but it’s been such a long day,” Seokjin says apologetically. “Actually, it’s been a long daisy. Get it? Daisy?” Yoongi tries to hide how crestfallen he feels, and Seokjin’s laugh sounds like popping bubbles, and he’s about to say that it’s fine and maybe could take a raincheck. Then Seokjin amends, “But I’ve got wine and every Studio Ghibli film ever made if you’d like to join me.”

And Yoongi wants to kiss him right now. He doesn’t, because that’d be backwards and also because it’s not like he’s that deprived. “That sounds even better than going out, actually,” he says, and he means it.

“Good. Go drop the bunny off at home and come back here. I just live upstairs.”

(Driving Jeongguk was no longer in Yoongi’s plans for the night, but he can’t argue with the pointed look he gets from Seokjin. The whole ride to Jeongguk’s is filled with absolutely dreadful, lewd banter. Jeongguk jokes that Yoongi’s going to deflower Seokjin, and Yoongi does his best to not throw up in his own freshly-cleaned car. But he reminds Jeongguk rather harshly that he’s dating a literal furry, which seems to shut him up.)

Seokjin’s place, as Yoongi soon finds out, is a warm, eclectic jumble of twinkling lights, kitschy coffee mugs, and bookcases packed with Super Mario figurines. There are no flowers inside, which is surprising yet understandable, though there’s a mess of hydrangeas on the tiny balcony right off the kitchen.

Seokjin orders takeout and answers Yoongi’s questions about his magic between sips from his glass of a cheap white. (“I’m sorry,” Yoongi says, “I don’t mean to sound like I’m interrogating you. I’m just…curious.” But Seokjin doesn’t seem to mind.) He says he’s been able to hear flowers for as long as he remembers. Only flowers and not other plants—though sometimes he gets radio-static murmurs from cherry blossom trees. The flowers tell him precisely when they’ll be in full bloom, and if they need more water, and if there are cutworms sneaking into the petunias and chomping holes in their delicate petals. And of course, the marigolds tell him jokes, which he then adds to his own repertoire.

“Can I show you something?” he asks eventually, after the takeout arrives and Yoongi’s questions have slowed. “I don’t show this to a lot of people.”

“You don’t have to show me if you don’t want to.”

“I want to.”

Yoongi nods and watches. Seokjin holds out his hands to him, cupped as though in offering. Nothing happens for a long few moments. But then a little speck appears in the middle of his palms, which balloons into a big, dark green bud. Yoongi can’t help the awed “wow” that slips out of his mouth when the bud finally splits open, a water lily blooming there in Seokjin’s hands like a miniature queen fixing her skirts, satin petals unfurling.

Seokjin lets out a long breath, as though he’d been holding it in, and raises the flower up for closer inspection. “This one didn’t turn out as well as some of the others,” he says wistfully. “I’ve been practicing these for weeks.”

“It’s still beautiful,” Yoongi assures. He puts down his wine glass and takes the lily from Seokjin. He doesn’t really know what to do with it now that he’s holding it, but the idea of cradling Seokjin’s fresh magic in his own hands feels ineffably special. “It might even be the most beautiful flower in here,” he says with a covert smirk.

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that. And because I didn’t hear that, I’ll let you pick the film.” When Yoongi arbitrarily chooses Howl’s Moving Castle, Seokjin accuses, “You’ve been giving me shit for my bad jokes, but you’re a huge cheeseball too, you know,” but his voice is kind.

Yoongi hasn’t watched the movie in years, so he doesn’t immediately know what Seokjin means, which bothers him like an itch as he tries to parse it. But he lets it go as Seokjin settles next to him, so close that their knees touch. It doesn’t take Seokjin very long to pull a blanket over their laps and rest his head sleepily against Yoongi’s shoulder. It’s weirdly comfortable, the closeness and their chatter and the way Seokjin plays with the frayed threads at the hem of Yoongi’s hoodie sleeve.

More than halfway through the film, a bolt of recognition strikes him, about ten seconds after Howl draws spell sigils on the castle floor, and he feels a fierce blush rise on his face when he realizes.

“Seokjin,” he says, so quiet he doesn’t know if Seokjin even heard him.

But he lifts his head from Yoongi’s shoulder nonetheless. His cheeks are rosy and his hair is messy, pushed up and away from his forehead. Yoongi watches Seokjin’s eyes trace over his face, linger on his mouth. He watches Seokjin’s tongue dart out between his lips. He watches Seokjin blink so slowly, like he’s caught in a dream.

Did you use your magic to make this? Sophie asks in the secret garden.

Yoongi nearly stops breathing as he tilts his head and kisses Seokjin. And again, and again, and again. They’re hummingbird kisses, fast and fluttering, and the frenetic touch of Seokjin’s lips against his own makes him dizzy in the best way. Seokjin reaches up to clutch at his collar, and his mouth opens, and Yoongi wants to learn him like a river, head to toe, north to south.

Only a little. Just to help the flowers grow, Howl replies.

✿ ✿ ✿

Jeongguk gets his bike fixed on Sunday when the flower shop is closed. Monday rolls around, and Yoongi doesn’t drive him to work.

Most of Yoongi’s non-work-related thoughts during the week drift toward the flower shop and Seokjin, which is distracting. A pang of sadness thrums in his chest when he sees Miyoung’s carnations, now shriveled and brittle and brown, in one of the office trashcans. He wants to ask Seokjin if the flowers know they’re going to wither and die, wants to ask if they’re okay with it, but that feels super morbid and too philosophical of a question to be contemplating while eating a lukewarm meatball sandwich in the dingy office breakroom.

Yoongi doesn’t drive Jeongguk all week. Yoongi doesn’t see Seokjin all week.

But he texts Seokjin almost constantly when they’re not working, and the following Saturday, it storms like mad all through the morning. Yoongi decides to be a nice friend (unprompted) and save Jeongguk from sloshing through the downpour. No, it has nothing to do with Seokjin. Nothing to do with the memory of Seokjin’s lips against his and the way he felt his heartbeat swell with the intensity of the ocean during a typhoon, crashing and strong. Nothing at all.

This time, when Yoongi drops Jeongguk off at Tulips & Kisses, the shop is a beehive of moving people and noise and commotion. It’s oddly busy—exponentially busier than he’s seen it in those twilight-zone off-hours where it’s relatively quiet save for whatever old music is playing from the speakers and Seokjin’s chatter to the flowers.

Seokjin’s rushing around behind the counter, holding scissors and floral tape and cellophane and swathes of shimmery ribbon and all sorts of flowers in colors that remind Yoongi of September. They meet eyes, and Yoongi gives a little wave. Seokjin struggles to wave back with his full arms, but the smile on his face is positively brilliant. “Will I see you later?” Seokjin calls across the shop. Yoongi gives him a thumbs-up and a nod in return, but he doesn’t want bother Seokjin even more while the shop is this busy, so he leaves.

And okay, fine, maybe driving Jeongguk today had everything to do with seeing Seokjin.

While Yoongi sits at a red light with the rain pounding heavily on the roof of his car, he decides he wants to give flowers to Seokjin. He figures people don’t do that very often. Not with Seokjin’s magic and the shop and such. Giving flowers to a man who can spin petals and leaves into the palms of his hands is probably redundant. But he feels like Seokjin would appreciate it nonetheless.

He drives here and there around town, looking for a few specific things. This isn’t what he expected to be doing on one of his days off, but he tries not to dwell on that for long. He finds himself in a garden center, looking at a wall of seed packets. He wants to give Seokjin something alive and personal.

Yoongi chooses marigolds.

Yoongi has no idea how to grow marigolds.

But it doesn’t seem that hard, after researching on his phone for a while. He kept a goldfish alive for six whole years when he was a kid, so growing one pot of flowers as an adult shouldn’t be too bad. He buys the highest quality potting soil he can find. He paints a ceramic pot a light, cottony blue—like Seokjin’s work apron—and he free-hands gold stars around its rim. He’s not a painter by any means, and he feels a bit like he’s struggling through some bullshit Pinterest project, but it somehow feels important to do this. He talks to the seeds and plants them with Seokjin at the very forefront of his mind.  

✿ ✿ ✿

It takes eleven days for the marigolds to start sprouting, and Yoongi feels astonishingly proud of himself when he sees the tiniest hint of green stem peeking up out of the dirt. He wonders if Seokjin feels this way all the time, if he feels this billowy sense of accomplishment when he conjures flowers into existence.

Yoongi hopes he does.

✿ ✿ ✿

In those eleven days, a lot of other things happen, too.

Seokjin asks him out on what he calls a “proper” date, even though Yoongi had exactly zero qualms about their first date. (In fact, their first date was spectacular in his humble opinion.) After Seokjin closes the shop, they catch a free concert in the park and walk along the riverfront, even though it’s fucking cold, the springtime night still bitter without the touch of the sun.

Seokjin links his arm around Yoongi’s and tugs him along. It’s not terribly comfortable. It makes Yoongi’s bad shoulder ache, so he slips free of Seokjin’s grasp and reaches out to grab his hand, which is much better. Seokjin’s hand is warm in his own and it feels right, homey and transient at the same time, and that was a pretty smooth move if he says so himself.

“I like you a lot,” Seokjin says casually, squeezing Yoongi’s fingers. “Do you like me?”

Yoongi snorts in response. It’s a ridiculous question because one, childish, and two, he thinks he’s already made it relatively clear that he likes Seokjin. “Are we ten years old and passing notes in class? Am I supposed to check a box for yes or no?”

“If that means you’d give me an answer, sure.”

“Where’s the box for yes?”

“Right here.”

When Yoongi turns to look, Seokjin is pointing at his pursed lips, his eyes alight and challenging. Yoongi’s stomach does a jittery flip, and he sees his own breath puff out in front of him when he gives a disbelieving laugh.

“Is it okay to give you more than one yes?”

***

There’s a third date as well, when they go out for sashimi, and Yoongi discovers the true meaning of happiness. Seokjin wins over the wait staff with his dumb jokes and makes these cute, satisfied noises after every few mouthfuls of fish and animatedly tells him about the petty argument he had to break up between the asters and geraniums that morning. Yoongi doesn’t even try to hide his smile as he asks why the flowers were fighting.

***

(They make out in Yoongi’s car after both dates like teenagers hiding from their parents, clumsy and cramped over the center console. Seokjin bites his bottom lip and fists his hands in his hair a little too hard and Yoongi loves it, loves it, loves all of it.)

***

Yoongi stops by Tulips & Kisses after work one evening with drinks for everyone—an Americano for him, a dark roast with three sugars for Jeongguk, a strawberry Frappuccino for Taehyung, and a macchiato for Seokjin. After he’s roped into a sugar-induced group-hug, he ends up helping Taehyung unload a shipment of vases for some upcoming advertising project Seokjin’s been planning for the summer.

“I’m glad you’re around,” Taehyung says out of nowhere as he gingerly passes Yoongi another box out of the bed of delivery truck.

“Oh. Uh, thanks? I like hanging out here, I guess. It’s either here or my couch.”

“That’s not exactly what I mean.”

Yoongi thinks he understands, but he asks anyway. “What do you mean, then?”

“I think you make Seokjin really happy,” Taehyung says, giving him a huge, genuine smile that stretches his mouth into a rectangle. Yoongi kind of wants to pet his head, but he merely stumbles over another weird “thanks” instead and warns Taehyung not to carry too many boxes at once.

(He does pet Taehyung’s head later, when Taehyung’s in the form of a ragdoll cat and sitting in an empty terracotta flower pot while he waits for Jeongguk to clock out.)

***

And on the eleventh day, when the marigolds start to sprout, Yoongi has the hardest time keeping them a secret. It’s not like he’s going to tell Seokjin about the flowers before they’re actually flowers, but it’s so tempting. He distracts himself with something else.

“So, one of my old friends is getting married next Saturday. I’d love it if you came with me.”

“Yes,” Seokjin says immediately, but then he frowns, his forehead creasing. “Wait. Saturday? That’d mean I’d have to close the shop for a day. I wouldn’t trust Taehyung and Jeongguk to manage things on their own—not a fucking chance.”

“I resent that!” comes Jeongguk’s voice from somewhere in the back of the shop, followed by a gurgling bark.

“It’s okay, you don’t have to say yes,” Yoongi says quickly. “Just, you know, extending the offer. You seem like the sort of person who enjoys weddings.” And then as an afterthought: “Maybe you should hire people who are not Taehyung and Jeongguk?”

Seokjin gives him a bashful grin as he digs the shop’s schedule book out from under the counter. “I’ve thought about it,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of people work here before, of course, but the three of us just work well together. They keep me young.”

“You’re only a couple months older than I am,” Yoongi deadpans, but Seokjin shushes him as he leafs through the schedule book and picks up his phone. As the phone rings, Seokjin runs one hand through his hair over and over until it sticks straight up off his forehead like a cockatoo’s crest. He makes this bewitchingly apologetic call asking a customer if it’d be alright to move an order ahead by one day, please and thank you. Seokjin’s got that special set to his dark eyebrows that he gets whenever he knows he’s being extra charming—and Yoongi is sure that the person on the other line is, in fact, completely charmed.

“I’m ready to crash a wedding,” Seokjin says triumphantly after he hangs up.

“You’re not exactly crashing. I invited you. It’s different.”

“Why don’t you like fun, Yoongi-chi?”

✿ ✿ ✿

Yoongi does not particularly care for weddings. He doesn’t love all the waiting around, or the generally-subpar DJs, or the hoards of people he doesn’t know but can’t get snappy with because they’re obviously of some importance to the bride and groom. He’d rather not go to weddings as an overall statement, but he wouldn’t miss Suran’s wedding for the world. (Plus, he can trust her to not have shit music, so that’s comforting, at least.)

When Yoongi picks Seokjin up outside of Tulips & Kisses, he’s surprised that he’s surprised by Seokjin’s choice of party attire.

“How do I look?” Seokjin asks, tugging on his lapels and doing a theatrical spin.

He looks a bit like he wandered into a circus and came out wearing cotton candy—but in a good way. His suit is head-to-toe pink, he’s wearing a thin polka-dotted scarf in place of a tie, and his hair waves over in an artfully messy side-part. Honestly, it’s right on brand. It’s the kind of look that only Seokjin could ever dream about pulling off. Yoongi knows he’s going to turn heads all night, which is thrilling in its own right because Seokjin—pink and plush and proud—deserves to be seen.

“Delicious,” Yoongi hears himself say, which is what he was thinking but decidedly not what he wanted to come out of his mouth. “I mean—good. You look really good.”

Seokjin gives him the smuggest damn smirk Yoongi’s ever seen in his life. “Thank you. Delicious was the goal.”

Yoongi bites the inside of his cheek to stop himself from saying anything that would further paint him as a total fool, like “You’re welcome, I’d like to eat you later.” He opens his car door for Seokjin and hopes his brain will coordinate better with his mouth the rest of the evening.

Unsurprisingly, Yoongi was right: Seokjin loves weddings.  

At the venue—some ritzy hotel downtown with crystal chandeliers and three different indoor waterfalls—Seokjin sneaks around like some dorky druid-ninja and uses his magic to make sure all the flowers in sight are looking their best. He finds the flowers that are only half in bloom and coaxes them into their full glory, and he perks up the ones that have become flimsy and limp.

When they take their seats for the ceremony, Seokjin excitedly whispers to Yoongi, “They’re celebrating!” while pointing at the peonies that line the aisle. He says that some of them are singing, some of them are chanting “congratulations,” and some of them are getting creative and reciting short poems about love and happiness.

“Isn’t that exhausting?” Yoongi asks. “Hearing all of that noise all the time?”

“Happiness is the best sort of noise,” Seokjin counters. “And in any case, they’re just some extra voices in the crowd. They’re usually easy enough to tune out if I need to.” He perks up then like a prairie dog and nudges Yoongi far too hard in the ribs with his elbow.

“The fuck was that for?” Yoongi hisses, but the music changes and he turns around to see Suran, glowing in her embroidered dress.

“She looks like Queen Anne’s lace,” Seokjin says (which Yoongi assumes is a compliment) and then quietly points out more peonies and jasmine and fern and camellias in her cascading bouquet. Yoongi can’t help but think of the white flowers she had shyly given him one year for Valentine’s Day, way back in high school, and how that had been the start of their friendship. Apparently he has a thing for flowers, after all.

(Yoongi proceeds to cry during the ceremony, though he will deny it with every fiber of his being when Seokjin teases him later on.)

Throughout dinner, Seokjin’s eyes are about as wide as the gilded plates off of which they’re eating. Yoongi doesn’t drink much, since he has to drive home still, but Seokjin looks like a king as he lifts his glass of rosé to his mouth and cracks a joke to the other people at their table. A while later Seokjin looks significantly less dignified as he downs a shot of tequila, which Yoongi immediately concludes was not a great idea based on the way he sputters around his lime wedge, but Seokjin insists that it was no big deal.

After he and Seokjin send selfies to Jeongguk and Taehyung (both of whom are using their unexpected day off to play fourteen straight hours of Overwatch), Yoongi excuses himself to the bathroom. He isn't gone that long, but by the time he rejoins the party, Seokjin has melded into the crowd. If Yoongi listens close enough, he can hear Seokjin’s lilting laughter even above the music.

He sees a flash of white out of the corner of his eye, and then there’s Suran rushing toward him. “Look who made it!” she says, throwing her arms around him. “I’m so happy you’re here.”

Yoongi leans into her hug, though he’s careful not to mess up her hair. “I’m happy I’m here, too. Congratulations, Suran. You look amazing.”

“Thank you,” Suran says as she grabs two champagne flutes from a passing waitress and gives one to Yoongi. “So, I hear Strawberry Delight over there is yours?”

Yoongi laughs. “Yeah, I guess that’s one way of putting it.”

“He must be pretty special.” The pearls around her neck catch the lights from the dance floor, flashing green, purple, blue, green again. “He doesn’t seem like your type.”

“I have a type?”

“You know what I mean.”

Yoongi takes a sip of his drink and looks out to where Seokjin, in his ostentatious pink suit, is dancing terribly with the wedding party. In the few minutes that Yoongi had been gone, Seokjin acquired a flower crown and a pair of glow-stick bracelets. Yeah, he kind of knows what Suran means.

He’s decided that his type is just Seokjin.

“He’s special, alright,” Yoongi says, ignoring the way he knows he’s blushing. “What are you doing talking to me about my dating life? You should be out there dancing.”

Suran finishes the rest of her drink and puts the glass down on the closest table. “Yes, but you should be dancing too. Come on, sugar. My wedding, my rules,” she says, grabbing his sleeve and dragging him along. He puts his half-empty glass down somewhere and is engulfed by the wild throng of people dancing to a high-energy, synth-heavy radio single. He feels the music through the floor and before he knows it, he finds himself drawn to Seokjin, even through all the people, magnetized.

Seokjin’s not extravagantly drunk, but he’s buzzed enough that he throws his arms around Yoongi’s neck and brushes his mouth against his ear. “Come home with me?” he asks.

The bass thrums in Yoongi’s chest like a second heartbeat. For a brief, stupid moment, Yoongi thinks that he doesn’t have a choice. Of course he’s going home with Seokjin—they drove together. But that’s not the answer Seokjin wants to hear, nor the answer Yoongi wants to give.

Yoongi pulls him in so, so close and slips his hand into Seokjin’s back pocket. He nods and meets Seokjin’s dark eyes and molds himself against his body. “Dance for me first.”

✿ ✿ ✿

They make it maybe four feet inside of Tulips & Kisses before Seokjin’s mouth is on Yoongi’s, chaotic and sweet and crushing.

Truthfully, it’s a bit of a wonder that they’ve even made it this far, as Seokjin kept squeezing Yoongi’s thigh and drawing swirling patterns on his knee during the drive home. At one point, he maneuvered out of his suit jacket and threw it in the back. Yoongi’s actually proud of himself for not crashing his car when he caught the way Seokjin’s dress shirt stretched taut against his biceps as he squirmed in the passenger seat.

Now, Yoongi has one hand fisted around Seokjin’s scarf and the other curled around the back of his neck. He puts blind faith in Seokjin as he steers them backwards through the shop, steadily unbuttoning Yoongi’s shirt as he goes. The floorboards creak as they stumble through the maze of flowers; headlights from passing cars wash over Seokjin’s face only to fade and leave him in shadows.

Seokjin kisses him recklessly:  He pulls on his bottom lip and sucks Yoongi’s tongue into his own mouth, fast and slick. When Yoongi’s back hits the counter suddenly, Seokjin presses wet, frenzied kisses to the side of his neck. He skims his teeth along Yoongi’s pulse point, and goosebumps break over Yoongi’s skin like ripples over a pond. Yoongi yanks on Seokjin’s scarf and brings him back up to kiss him properly, too much tongue and too perfect.

When Seokjin unbuttons the last button of Yoongi’s shirt, he touches everywhere he can, dragging his hands down his chest and over his ribs and across his stomach. Yoongi’s sandwiched between Seokjin and the counter but it’s not close enough, not enough, he needs Seokjin closer.

“I wanted to suck you off in the car,” Seokjin says, voice so low. “Can I do it now?”

“Fuck—yes, god,” Yoongi says breathlessly, right before he shudders at the hot press of Seokjin’s hand against his cock. Yoongi feels himself twitch in his pants, already hard, and he resists the urge to desperately grind into Seokjin’s palm.

“You’re so pretty. Bet your dick is pretty, too.” Seokjin dips his head to kiss Yoongi’s collarbones, and he makes quick work of Yoongi’s belt and zipper. Seokjin hooks his fingers into his waistband and drops to his knees, taking Yoongi’s pants and boxers with him. Like this, Yoongi feels alarmingly exposed, vulnerable. The shop is dark and the city is quiet, but standing like this—his shirt open, his pants pushed only halfway down his thighs, his cock curving up toward his stomach, his bare ass against the cool wood of the countertop—he might as well be a glaring beacon of sheer want.

Yoongi stares down his own chest and watches as Seokjin buries his face right at the juncture of where Yoongi’s thigh meets his hip, nipping at the delicate skin there. Seokjin’s mouth is so maddeningly close to his cock. His gasps a little, and Seokjin looks up with wicked eyes.

“I can’t wait to taste you,” he says against Yoongi’s hip. He moves just enough to kiss underneath Yoongi’s navel, and that motherfucker angles his head so that Yoongi’s cock is caught between his own stomach and Seokjin’s cheek. “Can’t wait for you to fill my mouth until it feels like I’m going to choke. I love that feeling.”

And the way Seokjin says this, hot against Yoongi’s skin and his mouth literally a centimeter away from his cock, makes a flooding heat pool low in Yoongi’s belly.

Yoongi cants his hips up a bit, his cock sliding against Seokjin’s face, smearing precome on his cheekbones. “Lucky for you, you don’t have to wait very long,” he says impatiently, petting through Seokjin’s hair. He doesn’t know how much longer he can stand looking at Seokjin like this, with those wild eyes and the thin streak of precome on his skin and the tip of his cock pressing into the dimple at the corner of Seokjin’s mouth.

“Lucky for me,” Seokjin echoes with a coquettish quirk of his eyebrows, but he doesn’t move.

“Please,” he tries. And Seokjin nods and sits back on his heels before he guides him into his mouth.

The thing about Seokjin’s lips is that, at any given moment of any given day, they’re mesmerizingly plump and overall unfairly kissable. But none of that’s prepared Yoongi for how Seokjin looks with his lips—spit-shined and straining—around his cock.  Seokjin continues to sink his mouth down until he can’t take him in any farther, until his nose is pressed to the hair on Yoongi’s stomach. Yoongi groans when he feels Seokjin try to swallow around him, but Seokjin groans even louder. Yoongi watches Seokjin draw back only to bob forward again, and that’s where Yoongi lets his eyes shut and his head fall back.

Seokjin’s hands ghost along his thighs, squeeze the base of his cock, grip his hips so hard he’ll probably bruise. But then his hands disappear. Yoongi’s not looking, but he can tell—god, he can fucking tell—that Seokjin’s touching himself. He can hear the subtle scrape of Seokjin’s undone belt buckle across the floor and the way he’s breathing harshly though his nose. Yoongi clutches at Seokjin’s shoulders and feels the erratic flex of his muscles as he jerks himself off.

Once, when Seokjin trails his fingers back up Yoongi's thighs to graze his nails over the sensitive skin of his balls, Yoongi pitches forward suddenly and listens to Seokjin gag and then whine, high and keening, as his cock hits the back of his throat.

Seokjin stills and lets Yoongi’s cock slip from his mouth. Yoongi’s eyes snap open and he’s about to apologize, but Seokjin says first in a gravelly voice, “You should—you should do that more. A lot more.”

Yoongi studies him in the near-dark for a second, taking in the shine of saliva across his chin and the almost-guilty way Seokjin’s still slowly pumping his own cock. “Okay,” Yoongi whispers, holding Seokjin’s shoulders tighter. “Okay, I can do that.” He brings one hand up to the back of Seokjin’s head; when Seokjin parts his lips again, Yoongi fucks into his mouth, shallowly at first, and builds, builds, builds until he’s burying himself to the hilt on every thrust.

It doesn’t take long after that—the sharp spike in Seokjin’s pretty moans and the way he shudders is enough to tell Yoongi of his orgasm. He can nearly feel his own climax reverberating right under his skin, but he withdraws to let Seokjin breathe. Seokjin’s knees must be aching and his throat is surely raw and Yoongi feels bad but fuck, he wants to come.

“Are you close?” Seokjin asks. His voice is hushed and shot and wrecked.

“Shit, yeah, so close, Seokjin, please,” he stammers.

Seokjin sticks his tongue out, wide and waiting, and rests the tip of Yoongi’s cock right in the middle. He strokes him fast, deliberately, twisting his wrist and letting his fingers catch on the head. Moments later, Yoongi’s coming with a long-winded groan across the flat of Seokjin’s tongue. He pushes back into Seokjin’s mouth gently just a few more times as he rides out the rest of his orgasm.

“Wow,” is all he says for a while after he pulls away. Seokjin nuzzles into the sharp jut of Yoongi’s hip, resting his forehead there, intimate and still. “Seokjin,” Yoongi manages eventually. When Seokjin glances up, he looks so beautiful. Tired, yet unwaveringly beautiful.

(Although, as a whole, Yoongi knows they look like a disaster. They’re half-dressed and there’s Seokjin’s come on the floor of his own shop, which he should worry about, but not right now.)

Yoongi tugs up his pants, drops down to the floor, and kisses him carefully. “You’re actually amazing,” he says.

“So I’ve been told,” Seokjin says.

Yoongi kisses him again. “Come on, sweet pea. We should get you upstairs.”

“That was a flower joke.”

“Hmm?”

“You just called me sweet pea. That’s a flower.”

“You’re a flower, too,” Yoongi says awkwardly, and Seokjin laughs.

✿ ✿ ✿

Yoongi wants to take a shower, but it’s super late and they’re both tired and he doesn’t want to be responsible for keeping both of them from drowning in the bathtub. So he merely helps Seokjin undress and makes him drink a glass of water to chase away the hangover. As Yoongi grabs his car keys, Seokjin’s face drops. “Please stay,” he whispers to his bedspread.

“I will,” Yoongi says immediately. He’d like to snuggle up now and sleep until noon tomorrow, but functional—he needs to be functional for a few more minutes. “I’m going to. But I didn’t lock my car, and you didn’t lock the shop. I’m just going to make sure neither of us get robbed.”

He takes a wad of paper towels from the kitchen and heads downstairs. He digs Seokjin’s suit jacket out of the backseat of his car and locks his doors. He locks up the shop too and then looks around.

His eyes land on the counter, and for some reason his face burns. Jesus Christ, he just got the best blowjob of his entire life standing next to a vase full of tulips. He doesn’t regret what they did, not a single second of it, but he is a little mortified that all of these flowers listened to Seokjin basically begging him to choke him with his dick.

“I know I can’t hear you,” he says to the flowers, kneeling down and cleaning up Seokjin’s come from the floorboards with the paper towels, “but it would be amazing if you could all promise to never bring this up to Seokjin. For all our sakes, really.” He stares meaningfully at the tulips in particular, shakes his head, and hopes for the best.

Back upstairs, Yoongi strips down to his boxers, dumps his clothes in a pile on the floor, and doesn’t think about how much of a pain in the ass it will be iron his suit later on. He slides into bed, and Seokjin folds himself into Yoongi’s side. “You called me sweet pea,” Seokjin repeats.

“I guess I did.”

“It made me kind of happy.”

“I’m glad.” There’s a long beat of silence. Yoongi kisses his forehead and listens to the gentle rhythm of Seokjin's breath. His memory’s never been amazing, so he wishes there was a way to preserve this delicate moment, a way to keep it for later like pressed flower petals. But there isn’t, so he lets the night wash over him and closes his eyes. “Good night, sweet pea.”

✿ ✿ ✿

In the morning, Yoongi washes Seokjin’s hair in the shower. Seokjin’s not that tall and Yoongi’s not that short, but Yoongi feels small anyway, his body slick against Seokjin’s as he reaches up to lather woodsy, citrusy shampoo into his hair. He sees his roots beginning to go black and thinks he’d like to see Seokjin with dark hair.

There isn’t nearly enough hot water, and they rinse off in the cold spray. When they get out shivering, Yoongi’s first order of business is making coffee, something to warm him up and clear the sleep from his mind. But then his list of priorities is quickly rearranged when Seokjin starts sliding his mouth over his shoulder and they collapse back into Seokjin’s unmade bed, still dripping and bare.

The morning is steel grey and stormy, but Seokjin is more than bright enough, honey-gold like tea left to steep in the sun. Yoongi lets Seokjin push him down and sit atop of his thighs. When Yoongi reaches up to play with Seokjin's nipples, he watches as Seokjin throws his head back and arch into Yoongi's touch.

Yoongi doesn’t quite know where to look. He wants to look everywhere all at once. At the way Seokjin’s biceps flutter as he gingerly presses his fingers into himself. At the vain red blush seeping down his chest like a watercolor painting. At the way he’s trying to wrap his other hand around both of their cocks at once. And—maybe most interestingly—at the way his magic seems to work on its own as tiny blue morning glories climb Seokjin’s wrists as though he is a trellis.

By the time Seokjin finds a condom and lowers himself onto Yoongi’s slicked-up cock, his thighs are already shaking. Yoongi loves this, doesn’t mind one bit as Seokjin sets the pace and moves to his own liking, but he also wants to take the burden off of Seokjin’s shoulders (and knees, honestly), especially after last night when Seokjin did all the work.

“Hey, hey, come here,” he says once Seokjin settles fully on top of him. He draws Seokjin down to his level and slides his tongue past his lips. Seokjin drops heavily to his forearms on either side of Yoongi’s head, the tiny flowers silky against Yoongi’s ears. Yoongi plants his feet into the mattress and snaps his hips up a few times, and Seokjin cries into his mouth.

He works on turning them over, languid and a little clumsy. He discovers that Seokjin is strikingly flexible—his knees come up toward his chest, bent nearly in half as Yoongi fucks him slow and deep. Seokjin scratches down his back when he thrusts at a new angle, digs his nails into his ass to draw him closer still, muffles a shout when he comes between their stomachs.

When the tight flex of Seokjin’s muscles becomes too much, Yoongi comes too, Seokjin’s name broken on his lips. He can’t even care that they’re glossed in sweat and come and lube right after their shower. He flops down beside Seokjin and allows himself to be pulled into a gross hug.

After a very long while, Seokjin says quietly, “I think you have the heart of a gardener.”

“What does that even mean?”

“It means,” Seokjin starts before trailing off. He falls silent, drumming his fingers against Yoongi’s ribcage. “It means that you know how to take care of things that are easily damaged and not easily repaired.” And he leaves it at that.

Before Yoongi goes home (which doesn’t happen until well into the evening, even though he should have left a long time ago, since they both have to work tomorrow) Seokjin holds his hands out to him. There in his palms grows a cluster of flowers, shaped like paper fans and misty-pink like strawberry lemonade.

“Thank you,” Yoongi says. “What are they?”

Seokjin kisses him on the cheek. “I’m not going to tell you.”

✿ ✿ ✿

His apartment, compared to Seokjin’s, is cold and dull. His furniture is plain and practical. He’s never cared much about aesthetic, so long as it’s functional. But he woke up in Seokjin’s wonderland of a place this morning, surrounded by fairy lights and raffia-tied bundles of drying rosemary and jewel-toned throw pillows and Seokjin’s rainbow loofa in the shower, and suddenly his own place seems too sterile. He feels like he should buy a tapestry or something to give his apartment some color.

He does have the mystery flowers Seokjin gave him. Though like the majority of men, Yoongi does not own a vase. So he drinks what’s left of the orange juice in his refrigerator, rinses out the bottle, and sticks the flowers in. He hopes they don’t mind.

There are the marigolds, too, even though they’re still just stems. Yoongi waters them and inspects their leaves like he’s seen Seokjin do, even if he’s not one-hundred percent sure what he’s supposed to be looking for. He tells the stems that Seokjin is probably the most interesting person he’s ever met—and he’s met Taehyung, so that’s saying a lot. He tries to talk through the whole “heart of a gardener” comment out loud, because he still doesn't really know what it means, but he just ends up more puzzled by the time he’s done.

Before he goes to bed, he looks over his shoulder in the bathroom mirror. He takes in the faint red lines still etched on his back, curved like fishing hooks, fading and beautiful.

✿ ✿ ✿

In total, it takes approximately six weeks for the marigolds to bloom like tiny sunrises, and it takes approximately the exact same amount of time for Yoongi to realize that he’s in love with Seokjin.

(Truthfully, Yoongi thinks he’s been in love from the very start. It’s just taken him a little while to recognize it.)

Yoongi has fresh flowers on his kitchen table almost every day, the same ones Seokjin made for him the morning after Suran’s wedding. He asks Seokjin what they are all the time, but Seokjin never caves. He even asks Jeongguk and Taehyung, but they say they’ve been sworn to secrecy.

It’s when Yoongi’s driving to Tulips & Kisses on a Wednesday evening, the marigolds fluffy and golden in their pot in the front seat of his car, that he has an epiphany. When he parks in front of the shop, he searches online and has to bury his face in his hands to try to contain the rush of pure fond that hurts his cheeks and makes his insides feel like fireworks.

They’re sweet peas. Of course.

Yoongi cradles the pot of marigolds in his arms and walks into the shop, trying to control his damn face. Jeongguk shouts, “Hey, Yoongi’s here!” and Seokjin appears out of the back room immediately, as if he’d been waiting. His hair is brown now, and he’s got a pale yellow sweater underneath his work apron.

Seokjin’s eyes go wide, and Yoongi can tell he’s listening to the flowers. He wonders what they’re saying. He doesn’t ask. He sets the painted pot down on the counter.

“I love you,” he says. “I think I should have told you a while ago.”

Seokjin’s rushing around the counter then, crushing Yoongi to his chest. He buries his face between Yoongi’s shoulder and neck and holds on so, so tight. “I love you, too,” he says into his skin, and Yoongi feels breathless and light. Then there are two more bodies running up and squishing them even closer together, yelling too loud in his ears. But Seokjin was right:  happiness is the best sort of noise.

✿ ✿ ✿

Yoongi won’t know this until many months later, but that night, Seokjin makes a home for the marigolds on the tiny, tiny balcony of his apartment. The flowers tell Seokjin jokes (that he will later reuse on Yoongi) and then they settle down. They murmur together in a warble of soft, pensive voices. Seokjin’s never heard marigolds sound this serious before.

The marigolds tell him: That man sounds like autumn. His rough voice shuffles in the air like falling leaves.

The marigolds tell him: That man feels like winter. His hands are cold and his eyes are dark.

The marigolds tell him: That man is truly spring. He brought us to life just as he brought you to life.

The marigolds tell him: That man loves you like summer. He speaks of you as if you were the sun.

And Seokjin listens as the marigolds spill Yoongi’s secrets.