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The Boys of Erinn

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Hoseok is introduced to Mabinogi on a Tuesday afternoon at the beginning of summer.

It’s the first time that he’s been to Kim Namjoon’s house since they became friends nearly a month ago, which had been a very simple process. Hoseok has always been skilled at making friends; he has a habit of attaching himself to other people as soon as they’ve shown just the slightest bit of interest in him. It was no different with Namjoon, who sits next to him in class and was given the task of helping Hoseok adjust to his brand-new school.

After all, transferring schools in the very last year of high school isn’t just difficult—it’s unwise.

Hoseok has his reasons, though. Of course he does, and despite those reasons, he’s surviving this new and unfamiliar environment as if he has belonged here since the very beginning. Maybe he shouldn’t brag just yet, but he thinks that he deserves to.

For now, instead of bragging, Hoseok takes one glance at his surroundings and can’t stop himself from laughing at what he sees.

“How can you fall asleep when most of the bed is taken up by Ryan dolls?” he teases, eyes scanning over the various stuffed toys and giving up his attempt at counting them.

Hoseok walks over to the bed and gingerly sits on the edge of the mattress, his right hand reaching out to pluck one of the Ryan dolls from its place against the pillow. It’s soft to the touch and very familiar. His own bedroom back at home isn’t nearly as cute as this one.

“They’re collectibles!” Namjoon argues, a small pout forming on his face. He doesn’t look embarrassed, though, which is good. Hoseok doesn’t want to risk offending his one and only friend at the moment. “Also, I re-arrange them when I go to bed so that I don’t squish any of them.”

The funniest, and perhaps cutest part of that explanation, is just how proud he sounds of himself. It’s so cute and unexpected that Hoseok can’t find it in his heart to tease the other boy any further. Smiling to himself now, he places the Ryan doll back into its rightful place.

“When’s your birthday? Maybe I’ll get you one of these to add to your collection.”

Hoseok watches from the bed as Namjoon lazily tosses his schoolbag onto the floor and plops down at his desk, which is also cluttered with various items. Due to the rest of the bedroom being spotless—save for the occasional misplaced clothing item on the floor—Hoseok guesses that he had made a brief attempt at tidying before inviting over a guest.

“The twelfth of September,” comes Namjoon’s delayed response. He’s clearly distracted as he types his password into his computer and waves for Hoseok to come closer. “Come check out the game that I mentioned earlier, it looks a whole lot cooler than it sounds.”

“You mean the online game?”

“Yeah, that’s the one.”

Hoseok does as he’s told and goes to stand just behind the desk chair, his eyes squinting at the bright screen from over Namjoon’s shoulder. Truth be told, he can’t recall too many details on all that Namjoon had rambled about during lunch that day. Now, he wishes that he had listened a little better.

“Looks pretty neat. Almost anime-ish?” he comments. “Mu…muh-bee-noh…”

“Mabinogi,” Namjoon corrects, laughing softly at his failed pronunciation. “It’s Welsh or something like that.”

Hoseok squints at the word again. “Uh-huh.”

“Anyway, I was hoping that we could play it together? It shouldn’t take long to download and I think that your laptop will be able to handle it just fine. I haven’t played it too much myself, but I’ve had it for a couple of months so I know most of the basics and would be able to help you out a lot.”

Though the game does look neat, Hoseok isn’t sure if he’s ready to jump right into playing it. Massive multiplayer online games aren’t really his style, and when it comes to the very few that he actually does like, he still prefers watching other people play them instead of participating himself.

Hoseok much prefers other types of activities to spend his free time on, such as dancing and listening to music for hours on end. He feels happiest when he’s engulfed in one or the other. But regardless of his preferences, he knows that he would feel bad if he completely rejects Namjoon’s idea.

However, Hoseok is also skilled at avoiding things, so he replies:

“Okay, sounds cool! Maybe I’ll check it out when I get back home.”

Much to his dismay, things don’t go exactly as planned.

“Or, you can check it out now!” Namjoon offers with much excitement, then stands up from the chair. He motions for Hoseok to take the seat instead. “I’ll let you play with my character and teach you the controls. It’s a really fun game, I promise.”

“Well, I’m sure it is. But…”

“But?”

“Um, it’s just…” Hoseok trails off and continues to stand there awkwardly, scratching the back of his head as he searches for a reasonable excuse. When he realizes that he doesn’t have one, he shrugs. “I don’t know. I’m just not really into gaming, I guess? Besides, I’m kind of busy these days.”

“Busy?” Namjoon raises an eyebrow at that and stares back at him, unimpressed. Of course he won’t fall for that. “Dude, come on. You and I both know that you’re not in any clubs and you didn’t join any of the sports teams, even though I spent so much time that first day telling you about all of our school’s greatest achievements...”

Just for a dramatic effect, Namjoon sniffles and wipes away a fake tear as he mentions that last bit, and Hoseok hates that it somehow weakens his resolve. It’s especially silly because that wasn’t even his fault! It was the teacher who had asked Namjoon to show him around the school on his first day while bragging about it, too.

So, Hoseok shakes his head and begins to argue.

“Okay, so, you have a point there! But—”

Then Namjoon attacks him with a pair of very convincing puppy eyes.

“But…”

The next attack comes in the form of a pouty bottom lip, and Hoseok gives up because he’s always had a weakness for cute things.

Damn him.

“Fine,” he says at last, sighing as he accepts his fate. Still, it’s difficult to hide the smile when Namjoon pumps his fist in the air and makes a happy sound at getting his way. “I’ll try it out just this once, but if it’s a shitty game then I’m getting you coal for your birthday instead!”

Namjoon pays no attention to the weak threat, much too focused on practically shoving Hoseok into the chair and starting the game up for him. The client loads just a few seconds later and after a few clicks with the mouse, reveals a menu with a set of characters positioned in a circle. When Hoseok sees the name of the first character, he snorts in disbelief.

“Really? You named him ‘ryansman’?” He glances at the boy leaning over his shoulder, not bothering to hide his teasing smirk. “Honestly, I shouldn’t even be surprised, but damn. Talk about dedication.”

“Oh shush. For your information, ryansman has a total level of over one hundred now!”

Hoseok turns back to the screen and stares at the awkward looking character that he’s meant to control from this point forward. It’s kind of amusing that even in a video game, Namjoon is still tall and lanky.

“You do realize that I have no clue what any of that means, right?”

Namjoon laughs in a way that has Hoseok wondering if he’ll ever be able to get out of this. He can already guess that it won’t be easy.

“You’ll figure it out soon enough. Trust me.”

From the way that things are looking now, Hoseok really doubts that.

***

It takes about a week for Hoseok to come to three specific conclusions:

First of all, he may or may not be just a little addicted to the MMO known as Mabinogi.

Secondly, he hates and loves Namjoon for getting him sucked into this peculiar world of humans, elves, giants, and monsters of various types.

The third conclusion?

Well, Mabinogi turns out to be the perfect distraction that Hoseok has been yearning for.

***

It’s a Friday afternoon when Hoseok gets back from class and immediately shuts himself in his room. Technically, it isn’t his room so much as it is a spare room in his older sister’s apartment. For the past month, however, it’s been turned into a small bedroom for Hoseok to use during the remainder of his time in high school, now that he’s staying with her instead of their parents.

Hoseok has always been grateful for the little things. He doesn’t mind sleeping on a mattress that’s set on the floor, pushed up against the wall so that he’ll have more room for some of the other belongings that he’s brought from home. They never had too much growing up, even though his mother worked two jobs for most his childhood and his father worked extra hours at night. If anything, not having a whole lot is just one of the reasons that he and his sister are so close, even now that they’re entering adulthood.

Although, if he’s being completely honest with himself, Hoseok would have settled for anything—as long as it provided him with an escape from the drama of his hometown. Anything and anywhere is better than that, he’s sure.

Once settled in his new room, Hoseok opens his laptop and waits for it to power up. In the meantime, he changes out of his school uniform and into something much more comfortable. Usually, he’ll return to the kitchen and start fixing dinner for the two of them (Jiwoo always returns home much later than he does), but lately he’s been just a little… preoccupied.

While the new patch for Mabinogi downloads, Hoseok grabs his phone and sends out a quick text message.

Namjoon

hey!!

i just got back

you ready to play???

sorry i can't

what? why?

midterms soon

which means no games

are you serious x_x

also i kind of got grounded?

Hoseok stares at the messages in disbelief. It hasn’t even been two weeks since they’ve started gaming together, and Namjoon is already proving to be a great disappointment. How dare he get Hoseok addicted and devoted to this one-of-a-kind video game, only to leave him hanging dry.

Some friend he is!

Namjoon

wow

should i even ask how you managed to do that

you know how we played until like 4am?

i was supposed to be in bed by 11:30

damn your parents are strict

they are ㅠㅠ im sorry again

but it'll just be until after midterms

Even though Hoseok is still disappointed, he supposes that he can’t really put the blame on Namjoon. After all, the guy is practically a genius. He’s definitely going to go far in life, and he certainly won’t get there by playing video games until the early hours of the morning. It makes sense that his parents keep a close eye on him, even if they are really nice people who feed Hoseok more food than he can take.

Nonetheless, there really isn’t anything that he can do about this situation. He’ll just have to suffer in silence for the next week or so without Namjoon to play with.

Maybe.

Hoseok glances at his laptop, taking note of the orange start-up button on the screen that’s just waiting for him to press it. It’s another short moment of silence before he decides that he refuses to wait that long just to play again, Namjoon or not.

In fact, he doesn’t even need Namjoon’s guidance anymore! They’ve been playing together every single day since then; surely Hoseok has picked up a thing or two about how to survive on his own. Besides, he’s played much harder video games than this one, so he knows for a fact that it’ll be a piece of cake.

***

Half an hour later, Hoseok has to resist the great urge to text Namjoon and whine about being completely lost.

He stares sadly at his character, a small elf boy with bright orange hair and big eyes. Hoseok had put in a lot of effort to make him as cute as possible, hoping that the character would accurately represent who he is in reality. In a way, it really does. Much like the elf boy stuck in the middle of a desert, Hoseok feels just as lost and it frustrates him.

“Stay positive! You’ll find a way to get out of this mess,” he grumbles to himself whilst pressing random keys and buttons. When one of those buttons actually warps him to another place, he makes a pleased sound when his character reappears in a familiar town inhabited by other players. “Well, that was easy.”

What’s not easy is finding something to actually do, since Namjoon has always been the leader of their little adventures. Hoseok only knows that there are lots of things to do in general, but if he has to go looking for them, he’s positive that he’ll just end up lost again. To avoid losing himself, he decides to drag his character around town and attempts talking to the other players in the area.

All of them ignore his polite greetings. Well, except for the giant with the mohawk who requests a duel. Hoseok politely declines said duel, knowing that he’ll quickly come to regret that decision.

After mistaking an NPC for an actual player and awkwardly walking away, Hoseok decides that he’s had enough failed socialization for one day. That is, until something fascinating catches his eye and he curiously moves towards it.

It’s a wicked-looking violet dragon that’s been summoned out of nowhere. Hoseok starts to wonder if it’s dangerous until he remembers what Namjoon had told him about the pet system within the game. As a matter of fact, Namjoon himself has a really pretty horse pet for his character, but never before has Hoseok seen an actual dragon. Obviously, dragons are much cooler than simple horses.

Hoseok approaches the dragon’s owner without hesitation; it’s a really short human character, one with messy black hair, cat ears and bright red eyes. His outfit is all-black as well, hinting at a pattern.

jhope94: wow!!!!

jhope94: that is so cool!!!

Suga: ?

jhope94: your dragon~~ it's neat

jhope94: so is your outfit

Suga: thanks.

jhope94: where can i get one?

Suga: ?

jhope94: the dragon????

jhope94: is it like

jhope94: some sort of achievement thing?

Suga: hmm.

Suga: yes it is.

jhope94: ok!!!! how do i do it?

Suga: you have to slay a bear.

Suga: a really big one.

Suga: with your bare hands.

jhope94: oh wow @-@; that doesn't sound so easy

Suga: it isn't but I’m sure you'll manage.

jhope94: wow thanks~!!!

Suga: yep.

From prior experience, Hoseok is fully aware that bears aren’t the easiest targets to take down. He hunted a few with Namjoon just a few days before, though Namjoon did the majority of the work. Hoseok mainly sticks to healing Namjoon when he needs it, but sometimes he successfully attacks things with his adorably short bow. Archery won’t be needed for this task, however, so Hoseok reluctantly puts his weapons in his inventory and sets out to find some bears.

Ten minutes and six deaths later, Hoseok comes to the conclusion that he desperately needs some help.

Like, as soon as possible.

Luckily, he easily manages to locate that human character from before, the one with the dragon and the edgy outfit that Hoseok likes so much. He’s sitting in front of the town’s bank with a party sign above his head, which has to mean that he needs help with something, too. Well, Hoseok will gladly lend a hand.

[You have joined the party.]

jhope94: hey again~

jhope94: suga

jhope94: suga

jhope94: suga? are you there

Suga: ???

Suga: what is it?

jhope94: so I tried to hunt some bears

jhope94: it didn’t really work out sooo I was thinking

jhope94: do you wanna hunt bears with me?

[You have been kicked from the party.]

Suga: not really.

[You have joined the party.]

jhope94: please???

jhope94: I could really use the help!!! ㅠㅠ

[You have been kicked from the party.]

[You have joined the party.]

Suga: oh my god

Suga: do you have the rod or not?

jhope94: the what

Suga: the serenity rod. that’s what I’m looking to buy. It’s what the title of the party sign is referring to.

jhope94: ohhh

jhope94: no I don’t think I have that

[You have been kicked from the party.]

When Hoseok attempts to join the party once more, he finds that it is now locked and asking for a password. He frowns at his computer screen. It’s never easy being rejected, even by a stranger on a video game, but he refuses to give up without a fight. As an idea comes to him, his fingers fly across the keyboard.

jhope94: ok fine

jhope94: if I find that thing for you then will you hunt bears with me

Suga: lol?

Suga: trust me, you won’t find it.

jhope94: well you don’t know that for sure

jhope94: I have my ways and I don’t give up easily

Suga: I can tell.

[You have sent a friend request to Suga.]

Suga: …

jhope94: please???

jhope94: I want the dragon!!!

Suga: that’s not how you get the dragon.

jhope94: what?

Suga: hunting bears doesn’t get you the dragon.

Suga: I was just trolling you.

Suga: I lied.

Suga: completely false information.

jhope94: really??

Suga: really.

jhope94: well that’s not very nice @-@;

jhope94: how do you get the dragon then????

Suga: you buy it with actual money from the game’s store.

jhope94: so like… real money?

Suga: yes yes real money.

Although buying the pet dragon would probably be a lot easier and faster than trying to defeat a bear with his hands, Hoseok makes no move in doing so. Because as much as he wants the dragon, he’s not so sure he’ll be able to justify it to himself later on if he spends the last of his bus fare on a video game, of all things. No matter how much he has come to love it.

jhope94: I see.

jhope94: well do you wanna hunt bears with me anyway?

Suga: seriously?

jhope94: seriously!!! I really need to level up

Suga: what level are you now?

jhope94: uh

jhope94: 10

Suga: jesus christ

Suga: you definitely can’t slay a bear alone then

jhope94: yeah I kind of figured that out already hahaha

Suga: also field mobs aren’t the most efficient way of leveling up

Suga: you should be completing dungeons for the better EXP + the newbie quests that you’ve been given

Suga: at the same time you’ll be earning ability points to rank up individual skills

Suga: understand?

Hoseok does not understand. In fact, he understands his English course more than he understands a single word that he’s just read. He can’t let this be known, though—this Suga guy sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, and Hoseok can really use a friend like that. He'll just have to try and play it cool in the meantime.

jhope94: I see I see. thanks a ton!!!

jhope94: I was having trouble deciding on where to begin but this helps~ ^^

jhope94: unless…… you’re trolling me again

jhope94: hahahaha

Suga: ha.

jhope94: well

jhope94: I should go and do that stuff

Suga: you should.

jhope94: I guess I’ll see you later?

Suga: maybe.

Hoseok’s little elf boy takes two steps before he abruptly stops, realizing that he has no idea where he’s going. He supposes that it’s much better to be annoying one last time instead of risking the possibility of getting lost again, so he turns back around and begins to type.

jhope94: ok one last thing

jhope94: how do I find the dungeons?

By the time that Hoseok is well on his way to the dungeon that has been recommended to him, a small notification pops up in the bottom right corner of his screen, notifying him of a brand-new friend. He can’t help smiling to himself as he reads what it says.

[Suga has logged in.]

 

***

Saturday morning is spent sleeping off the previous night’s gaming endeavors—which, naturally, is the reason that Hoseok doesn’t fall into bed until around three in the morning. He tries compensating for his newly formed bad habit by doing a few chores around the apartment and fixing lunch for his sister, who sadly already has plans to spend the afternoon with her friends.

The mention of hanging out with friends brings an uncomfortable feeling to Hoseok’s chest. It hasn’t been long since he left, yet he really misses the days where he’d go out with his best friends, Jimin and Taehyung. He misses the jokes and the laughs and the teasing, but he doesn’t allow himself to feel sad about it.

After all, he’s the one who left them. Not the other way around.

Maybe this loneliness is his own punishment.

Hoseok sighs around the food in his mouth and pushes the plate away, deciding that he just doesn’t have the appetite right now. Instead, he grabs his phone from the coffee table and considers texting Namjoon, before remembering that his friend is grounded and it’s only been a single day since then. He highly doubts that Namjoon’s parents will let him go out, even if it is a Saturday.

Good thing there’s always Mabinogi.

As soon as Hoseok logs onto his character and enters the fictional world, he feels much better and forgets all about his troubling thoughts. He perks up even more when he sees who is online, also known as the only person on his friend’s list aside from ryansman. He immediately sends them a message.

jhope94: suga~ hey!!

A reply comes almost instantly, filling him with joy.

Suga: hey…you?

jhope94: I have a question for you

jhope94: it’s kind of important??

Suga: yeah?

jhope94: wanna hunt bears with me?

jhope94: hahahahaha just kidding!!

Suga: …

Suga: haha

Suga: you really are an odd one

jhope94: I’ll take it as a compliment~

jhope94: but I really do have a question for you

Suga: ?

jhope94: what’s an enchant and what does it do???

Suga: it’s basically what it sounds like.

Suga: enchants are magical effects that you can add to equipment

Suga: like armor and weapons?

Suga: they make them better depending on the enchant in question

Suga: you can read more about the different types on the wikipedia

jhope94: there’s a wikipedia?

Suga: mhmm

Suga: it’s a very useful resource for this game.

Suga: you can go there whenever you have questions.

jhope94: ok thank you ^^

jhope94: I have another question though

jhope94: actually I have a few haha

jhope94: that can’t be answered by the wiki

Suga: yes…?

jhope94: what’s your real name and how old are you? how long have you been playing mabinogi? are you any good at it? you seem like you are because you know a lot of things and I want to be as good as you are so can you teach me?

It’s at least two minutes before Hoseok gets a reply to his array of questions. He briefly wonders if he should have asked them one at a time, just so that he wouldn’t risk sounding overbearing and needy. Well, it’s too late to take it back now, so he wills himself to be as patient as possible.

Suga: wow.

Suga: uh

Suga: that’s a secret~

Suga: I’m 20.

Suga: a few years I guess?

Suga: and not to brag but yeah. I happen to be pretty fucking good.

Suga: no I can’t teach you.

jhope94: why can’t you teach me??? ㅠㅠ

Suga: it’s too much effort? this is a game that takes a lot of time…

jhope94: that’s ok I have loads of time!!

jhope94: I’d be a really great student too

jhope94: please???

Suga: do you always beg to get your way?

jhope94: well it depends

jhope94: on how badly I want the thing

jhope94: and it always works too~ hahaha

jhope94: so please? I really want this thing!!!!!

jhope94: sugaaaaaaaaa

Suga: you know

Suga: I’m starting to regret accepting your friend request.

jhope94: hahahahaha

jhope94: does this mean I’m weakening you?

Suga: I never said that…

jhope94: I know. you just implied it ^.~

Suga: no actually I didn’t.

jhope94: you kind of did

Suga: nope~

jhope94: yes!!!!

Suga: how did you find this game?

jhope94: oh

jhope94: my friend namjoon plays. we go to school together~

jhope94: but he can’t play right now because he’s grounded LOL

Suga: grounded? really?

jhope94: yes that’s what I said

Suga: how old are you?

jhope94: 19

jhope94: I graduate at the end of the year x_x

Suga: hmm.

jhope94: ???

Suga: how quickly can you get to Tir Chonaill?

jhope94: uh I don’t know. why?

Suga: well if I’m going to teach you

Suga: we should start somewhere easy.

Suga: right?

jhope94: !!!!!!!!!!!!!

jhope94: wait so you’re really gonna teach me?

Suga: sure.

jhope94: ok ok I’ll be there before you know it!!!

jhope94: well

jhope94: If I can find it…

Suga: yikes.

Suga: alright first lesson—learn how to use your map.

***

Hoseok loses count of how many giant white spiders he’s slain in the past several hours. In fact, he’s killed so many that he no longer fears them at all, despite how deathly afraid he is of spiders in real life. But Mabinogi is just a video game, one that he’s apparently terrible at, because they’ve repeated this same dungeon again and again and he dies at least twice every single time.

As he watches his poor character get knocked unconscious again, Hoseok sighs and rests his forehead against the keyboard. He can feel a minor headache beginning to form, either from how long he’s been playing or from how frustrated he is. The origin of the headache doesn’t matter, though. He just knows that he’s tired and a little bit fed up with this game.

Hoseok glances up in time to watch as Suga revives him once more. On second thought, he’s pretty certain that his headache is coming from the constant chastising by his new friend.

Suga: I told you to use counterattack

Suga: why didn’t you?

jhope94: well I don’t know sungjin

jhope94: maybe because it’s hard to read what you’re saying

jhope94: while also trying not to get smacked by a giant spider!!!!

Suga: sungjin?

jhope94: I’ve decided that that’s your name

jhope94: I mean

jhope94: suga had to come from somewhere

Suga: wow ok

Suga: my name definitely isn’t sungjin.

jhope94: well it is for now

jhope94: until I find out your real name

jhope94: mine is hoseok by the way

Suga: well then it’s nice to meet you hoseok

Suga: my name still isn’t sungjin

Suga: and you should learn to use counterattack.

jhope94: whatever!

jhope94: is there a way that we can communicate better?

Suga: what do you mean?

jhope94: like. does this game have a voice chat feature?

Suga: nope.

Well, there goes that idea. Hoseok resumes his pouting and clicks on the bow that his character had dropped after dying for the umpteenth time in a row. He reminds himself that he should keep a positive attitude about this disastrous situation. After all, no one starts off being good at everything. Not only that, but Suga—aka Not Sungjin—is taking time out of his day to help Hoseok improve at the game. So really, he should be grateful, even if things are a tad frustrating at the moment.

Suga: do you have skype?

The sudden question takes Hoseok off-guard. Just before he can type out a reply to confirm that he does, Suga continues.

Suga: if it makes things easier for you

Suga: we can talk on there.

jhope94: yes yes!!!

jhope94: I like that idea!!

Suga: ok

Suga: what’s your username?

jhope94: same as my character’s name

It doesn’t take long at all for Hoseok to open the Skype program and log into his old account. His eyes instantly drift over to the long list of contacts made up of people that he hasn’t spoken to in what feels like ages. Most of them are people from his old school, ones that he used to call his friends even though he never felt that close to them.

And then there are his real friends, such as Jimin, who always wanted to video chat and never failed to ask Hoseok whether he was doing okay or not. Taehyung’s Skype handle isn’t too far down from Jimin’s. Hoseok can recall plenty of nights where they’d talk on and on about nothing in particular, usually while Taehyung played some of his favorite songs in the background and pretended to serenade Hoseok, just to make him laugh.

Neither of them are currently online. Would they message him if they were? Hoseok is unsure.

A familiar chime notifies him of a pending friend request and Hoseok nearly jumps in his chair, surprised. He quickly gathers himself when he remembers that it’s only Suga. Of course it’s Suga.

syubamon would like to add you on Skype.

Syubamon? Seriously? Hoseok presses the accept button faster than the corners of his lips can curl up into a mischievous grin. He is fully prepared to tease the other for the next hour straight, until he sees the display name. In an instant, his grin transforms into a full-blown smile that could brighten up an entire room.

~Hoseok~

it’s yoongi!!!!!!

your name is yoongi isn’t it??

what the hell

how didn’t I guess that

Yoongi

lol…

how could you possibly have guessed that

but yes. now you know

~Hoseok~

oh my god yoongi

this changes everything

for some reason it suits you?

yoongi~~ *_*

Yoongi

alright settle down it’s not that interesting

also

that’s yoongi hyung to you~

now answer the call

 

As if on cue, the familiar chime begins to play as Yoongi requests a voice call with him. The nervous feeling in Hoseok’s tummy forms out of nowhere. He doesn’t know why the thought of actually hearing Yoongi’s voice for the first time makes him a bit anxious, but maybe it has to do with the fact that they’re still mostly strangers. They only met yesterday, after all.

But if there’s one thing that Hoseok excels at, it’s talking. He reminds himself of his extrovert charms as he clears his throat and finally accepts the call. However, Yoongi manages to speak before he does.

“Finally,” says a deep, sort of raspy voice that instantly gives Hoseok goosebumps. “I was starting to think that you’d died in real life, too. What took so long?”

Just like that, the goosebumps are overshadowed by the blood rushing to Hoseok’s cheeks as he blushes, a little embarrassed.

Well, two can play at this game!

“Nothing, hyung. You’re just a little impatient,” Hoseok replies in the sweetest tone he can manage. “But wow, I didn’t expect this.”

“Didn’t expect what?”

“Your voice,” he begins to explain, “I just imagined that it’d be… I don’t know, different? Yeah. A lot different.”

Yoongi hums into the microphone as he takes his time in thinking of a reply, and Hoseok suddenly wishes that he could put a face to the voice in his ear. His clicks away from the Skype window and back to Mabinogi, his eyes settling on the small character standing in front of his own. He almost starts to laugh, imagining the character with the voice of its creator.

“How did you think I’d sound, then?”

Now it’s Hoseok’s turn to think of a reply, but it doesn’t take him long to say:

“Like a mean, elderly teacher.”

He’s surprised when he’s met with the sound of laughter. It’s a really nice laugh, too, Hoseok decides. He doesn’t hold himself back from laughing either. Why? Because Yoongi has a good voice, a good laugh, and a pretty good sense of humor, apparently.

In conclusion, Hoseok approves.

“What? I’ve never been mean to you,” Yoongi claims, his laugh a little softer now. “Not even once.”

Hoseok’s gasp is both dramatic and necessary.

“You’re kidding, right? You tricked me into trying to defeat a bear! With my bare hands! Excuse me if I can’t appreciate the pun, but that was really mean and you know it.”

“Well, what do you want me to say? Sorry? Because you have to admit, that was pretty fucking hilarious.”

Okay, so it is kind of humorous in retrospect, but Hoseok would rather watch his character die again than admit that aloud.

“Whatever,” he scoffs, hoping that sounding hurt will make Yoongi feel just the slightest bit of guilt. “But don’t think that I’ll be so naïve in the future! I’ll have you know that I checked out the Mabi wiki earlier, so I know things now.”

On the brightly lit screen, Yoongi’s character begins to circle his own. Hoseok’s eyes follow the simple movement as if hypnotized.

“Is that so?”

Hoseok nods at those words, even though there’s no way that Yoongi can possibly see him. That doesn’t matter, apparently, because Yoongi follows that up with:

“Then show me what you know.”

It’s a rather odd demand that sounds both confusing and suggestive, somehow. Hoseok wants to ask for clarification, but then his stomach growls so loudly and painfully that he wonders how he could’ve ignored it for so long. A quick glance at the clock on the bottom of his screen makes his eyes widen in shock.

Has it really been eight hours since his last meal?

Hoseok groans in agony.

“On second thought, can I show you later? I haven’t eaten dinner yet and my stomach is killing me.”

There’s a sigh on the other end of the call at the same time that Yoongi’s character stops moving.

“Alright, I guess we can take a little break.”

Hoseok’s happy cheer doesn’t go unnoticed, and neither does the little laugh that escapes Yoongi as a result.

“You should get something to eat, too,” he says as he stands up to stretch. Hoseok winces when something cracks. “You know, if you haven’t already.”

“I mainly survive off coffee at this hour, but thanks for the concern,” says Yoongi, and the faint sound of a coffee mug against a desk can be heard just a moment later.

Hoseok doesn’t stick around to lecture him about the consequences of such unhealthy behavior. Right now, the only thing that his mind can focus on is the sweet sensation of cheap ramen on his tongue.

***

Hoseok jumps awake with his heart hammering in his chest and drool on his keyboard. His skin itches a little and he vaguely recalls having a nightmare about hundreds of white spiders trying to eat him. With a sigh, he hopes that he’ll be able to forget all about it so that he can get back to sleep.

Except, the idea of sleep completely evades him when his vision clears enough and he realizes where he is. At some point, he had fallen asleep at his desk—which explains the drool on his keyboard—and the bright monitor reveals that he’s still logged into his Mabinogi character.

Unsurprisingly, he’s dead again.

Surprisingly, Yoongi’s character is just casually sat on top of his unconscious body.

Oh, right. That’s a thing.

Hoseok scrambles with the computer mouse to re-open the Skype window. The text at the bottom of the chat box shows that they had been on a call for two and a half hours. Hoseok certainly doesn’t remember it being that long. He glances down at the digital clock again.

03:52

When exactly had he fallen asleep?

 

~Hoseok~

holy shit I’m so sorry

I somehow fell asleep?

no idea when that happened

Yoongi

yeah I figured as much

~Hoseok~

wait

why are you still awake???

Yoongi

I could ask you the same thing

go to bed hoseok-ah

properly this time

~Hoseok~

fine fine I’m going

will we play again tomorrow?

or rather… later today hahah

Yoongi

of course we will

I’m not done with you yet~

~Hoseok~

oh boy @-@;;

well ok then

goodnight!! <3

Yoongi

night

 

Hoseok quickly logs out of both Skype and Mabinogi, suddenly feeling just a bit cross with himself. Is it too soon to be sending heart emoticons? Probably. He shouldn’t have done it, but it had been an unconscious act. Perhaps because he never used to go to sleep without first sending hearts to his dearest friends and telling them that he loves them.

But that’s different. This is different. He’ll just have to try and restrain himself; he doesn’t want to scare Yoongi away.

As Hoseok’s head finally hits the pillow, he comes to the conclusion that maybe he’s just overthinking things. Yeah, that’s probably it.

It isn’t long before he falls back to sleep.

***

The days pass by in a blur of Mabinogi, sleepless nights, and Skype calls that last for way too many hours.

To be honest, it’s the most fun that Hoseok has had since moving to the big city.

But like with most things, reality comes back to bite him in the ass when midterms finally arrive. That’s how Hoseok finds himself at Namjoon’s house for the first time in over a week, cramming for all of his courses and wishing that he was back in his room, playing Mabinogi instead. Killing goblins for two hours straight is much more entertaining than anything he’s studied so far in his economics textbook.

“I don’t get this one either,” he whines, pushing his notebook across the floor towards his friend.

Namjoon picks it up amongst the various books and sheets of paper scattered on the carpet and squints at Hoseok’s god awful handwriting. Honestly, the only reason that he can make out the words is probably attributed to his high IQ and abstract thinking. Any other person surely would have given up by now.

“What are you talking about? You’re almost there,” says Namjoon, pushing the notebook back towards him. “Just remember the last step and you’ll have figured the whole thing out. Besides, the last step is one of the easiest.”

Hoseok exhales a deep sigh and stares down at the problem again. He concentrates as hard as he can before letting out another sigh.

“Honestly, Joon, I don’t think my brain is working properly today.”

“Well, maybe you just need a quick break.”

“You’re so right,” Hoseok agrees, then immediately flops onto his back. “It’s been one hell of a week and I’m exhausted.”

“Yeah. Who knew that playing video games could take so much energy.”

Hoseok lifts his head from the floor just in time to see the teasing grin on Namjoon’s face. How rude.

“Hey now, don’t tease me about this when you’re the one who practically begged me to play with you.” He sticks out his tongue then, just because he can. “Not only that, you also had to go and get yourself grounded, leaving me to fend for myself. Tsk, tsk!”

“That’s not fair, I already said that I was sorry! Besides, you weren’t completely alone, right? Haven’t you been playing with that Suga guy that you keep mentioning?”

Hoseok nods enthusiastically.

“Yoongi hyung! He’s helped me out a lot, actually. Did you know that I’m already level forty-five now? He says that I’ll have to rebirth soon, though to be honest, I have no idea what that even means.”

There’s a smile on Hoseok’s face as he recalls some of the fun memories that he’s made in the past week or so. The dungeons, the grinding, the never-ending banter between the two of them—he loves it all. It sucks that they won’t be able to play together tonight, but Yoongi had been very understanding when Hoseok explained his midterms dilemma. He can’t wait for tomorrow to arrive, when he can finally put midterms behind him and look forward to running around as jhope94 again.

A thought comes to mind, prompting Hoseok to lean up into a sitting position once more. He brings his knees to his chest and begins to whisper at a not-so-quiet volume.

“Truthfully? I think that he might actually be a vampire or something.”

Namjoon snorts at the absurd accusation, his pencil halting in the middle of the little doodle that he’s been diligently working on. Looks like neither of them are too interested in studying now, but they’ll just have to worry about that later.

“What do you mean he’s a vampire?”

“Like… okay, just hear me out for a second.” Hoseok licks his lips as he prepares his explanation, mind swarming with thoughts. “First of all, I’m pretty certain that the guy never sleeps. I mean, he’s literally always online before me? And listen to this: a couple of times I’ve accidentally fallen asleep while we’re playing and talking, but when I wake up, he’s always there! Tell me that’s not suspicious as hell.”

Even though it’s the wildest theory that Hoseok has come up with so far regarding Yoongi’s identity, he’s still just a bit disappointed when Namjoon bursts into laughter instead of taking him seriously. As revenge, he grabs an eraser from the floor and chucks it at Namjoon’s head, cursing under his breath when the other boy successfully dodges it.

“Okay, okay, I’m listening,” says Namjoon once he’s calmed down. “And what’s your second point?”

“Huh?”

“Your second point in all of that? You started off by saying ‘first of all’ and I assume that means you have more evidence?”

“Uh…” Hoseok tilts his head to the side and thinks for a moment. “Well, he drinks a lot of coffee and doesn’t eat much? I think.”

Namjoon slowly nods his head. “Wow. So, he’s a vampire who plays video games and drinks caffeine instead of blood? You know what, you could probably write a screenplay based on that.”

“Oh, fuck off,” Hoseok groans just as Namjoon starts to laugh again. “You haven’t witnessed the things that I have, okay?”

“Yah, I wish that I could,” he sighs, “because I’ve been dying to play every single day.”

“Good thing midterms are tomorrow, right? Then you can finally play with Yoongi hyung and I.” Hoseok beams at the thought. Playing with two friends will be so much better than one. “He’ll probably tease you a lot or trick you into doing things, but he’s actually really, really nice? Oh! Did I tell you that he bought me a mountable pet? I wanted the dragon most of all, but apparently, it was limited edition—so he bought me a magical broom instead! It flies, too, just like in Harry Potter.”

It surprises Hoseok when, instead of being excited for him, Namjoon simply shakes his head and resumes his little doodle.

“I leave you alone for just a week and a half, and suddenly you’ve got boys buying things for you? Tsk, tsk.”

It’s not the teasing in general that brings a blush to Hoseok’s cheeks, but the accusation itself. He never asked Yoongi to buy him anything like some sort of video game sugar daddy—he just did! Because he’s nice! And Namjoon is a jerk, so Hoseok tosses another eraser at him.

“It’s not like that and you know it!”

“Sure it isn’t!” he continues to tease, dimples on full display. “Whatever you say.”

***

After somehow surviving midterms, Hoseok rewards himself with his favorite candy from the convenience store down the street.

And Mabinogi, of course.

It’s basically routine by now: he arrives back at the apartment, changes out of his school uniform, and snacks on something while the game client loads up. At the same time, he logs into Skype and, as always, finds that Yoongi is already online. Waiting for him.

It gives him a really nice feeling, to be honest.

“Hey!” Hoseok chirps into the microphone of his laptop. “Guess who’s done with midterms and ready to kick some fomor ass?”

Yoongi hums in thought and pretends to actually guess.

“You are?”

“Exactly,” he confirms, laughing out of pure joy and excitement. “Also, Namjoon will finally be able to play with us today. After, like, a million fucking years. Are you excited to meet him? Oh, and is it okay if he joins us on here as well? You know, since it’ll be easier that way.”

“Sure,” Yoongi replies. He doesn’t say anything else, so Hoseok will just assume that he’s ecstatic.

“Okay, I’ll be back in just a minute—gonna use the bathroom and text Joon to see if he’s ready.”

Hoseok mutes the microphone and leaves the room to take the fastest piss of his life. When he returns just a minute later, he grabs the phone from his bed and quickly sends a text to the third member of their party.

Namjoon

joooooon!!!

back home yet? we're waiting for you

and if you're somehow grounded again then I'm kicking your ass

yeah I just got back

but...

??????????

nothing lol god you're gullible

I'm just waiting for skype to update

omg I hate you

be there in a sec!

Hoseok rolls his eyes in annoyance, though he can’t stop himself from smiling. He’s just about to lock his phone again and toss it back onto the bed when he sees that he has just received a new text message from someone else. Curiously, he backs out of his conversation with Namjoon and—his heart instantly begins to race in his chest.

Taetae

jiminie thinks you're mad at him

are you?

His eyes scan over the message again and again, confusion and guilt beginning to pool in the center of his gut. It’s been some time since he’s texted either of his old friends, yet this is the first thing that he receives from one of them? This can’t be good.

Despite Hoseok’s natural instinct to avoid confrontation at all costs, he forces himself to reply.

Taetae

jiminie thinks you're mad at him

are you?

no? I'm not mad at anyone

okay

are you sure?

yes I'm sure

you never did anything wrong

Hoseok stands there for over a minute, waiting for the inevitable reply. When it doesn’t come immediately, he assumes (and hopes) that that’s the end of the conversation. However, he receives another text just a short moment later.

Taetae

you've been avoiding us though

I've just been busy adjusting

things are a little harder at this school

I'm sorry

that's okay

we just miss you is all

I miss you, too, Hoseok wants to reply. He wants to say that and he almost starts to, until a sudden notification from Skype makes him jump and he drops the phone to the carpet. He takes a deep breath to calm his beating heart and reminds himself to adjust the sound options, because those notifications have scared him one time too many.

It only takes a second to add Namjoon to the call. For the meantime, Hoseok pushes his troubles to the back of his mind.

“Hey. Can you hear me?”

Hoseok frowns. “Yeah, but… your voice sounds really weird. Kind of like you’re beneath the ocean or something.”

“I know, it’s the microphone. I kind of accidentally stepped on it the other day. Oops.”

The confession brings a small laugh out of Hoseok despite his current mood. Leave it to Namjoon to break things randomly.

“What an introduction! Yoongi hyung, this is my clumsy friend, Namjoon. Namjoon, meet Yoongi hyung. Hyung, say something.”

“Something,” says Yoongi. What a troll.

“Nice to meet you!” Namjoon replies in his scuba diver voice. “So, is it true? Hoseok says that you’re a vampire.”

“Joon!” Hoseok squeaks in both horror and embarrassment. What a fucking traitor.

Luckily, Yoongi starts to laugh, clearly finding this situation to be quite amusing.

“He says what now?”

“That you’re a vampire, apparently. Something about you staying up all night and only drinking coffee, which is totally ridiculous. I mean, vampires don’t even drink coffee, do they?”

“Not that I know of, but I’m not exactly up-to-date on vampire lore,” Yoongi replies, completely serious. In an instant, his voice shifts into something that sounds a lot more playful and sneaky. “What else does he say about me, though?”

“That’s enough!” Hoseok cuts in, just in case Namjoon is about to run his mouth once again. “Hyung, I swear I have no idea what Namjoon is talking about—we’re not even friends? Yeah, I just met him a second ago. Big mistake that was, seeing as how he only spits out lies.”

“Aw, come on!” Namjoon whines. “You’re the one who’s lying. I was just curious, because who knows if vampires are actually real or not?”

“Well, I hate to be a disappointment, but I’m not actually a vampire,” Yoongi chimes in. Great timing, too, because Hoseok is ready to fight a certain Ryan-loving heathen. “He’s not wrong, though. I do stay up most nights, only because I’m easily inspired at night so it’s easier to create music.”

It’s silent for all of two seconds.

“Wait.” Hoseok blinks at his computer screen, awestruck. “You create music?”

“Wow, really? Me too!” Namjoon intercepts. It’s the first time that Hoseok has heard of this from either of them. “Well, kind of. Heh, I’m actually not that good at it, but I sometimes mess with different sounds until I come up with a beat that I can rap to. It’s a hobby of mine, I guess.”

“Yeah? That’s pretty cool.” Though he can’t be seen, it’s obvious that Yoongi is all smiles at the moment. “Looks like we have something else in common. Who knows, maybe we can work together someday and come up with a sound that actually isn’t shitty.”

Namjoon’s laugh practically echoes through the speakers.

“Yeah, maybe we will!”

For an undetermined amount of time, Yoongi and Namjoon talk back and forth about creating music and musical machines that Hoseok has never heard of. Yoongi talks about what it’s like to be an intern at a production company, and Namjoon tells the story of how he first became interested in making his own music. Some of it is interesting, a lot of it is confusing, but for the most part, he feels rather indifferent towards the subject. Hoseok can’t really relate to anything that they’re saying—he’s an avid listener of music, not a creator. However, it’s nice that his friends seem to get along perfectly fine and are now bonding over a shared interest.

He isn’t jealous.

It was in his second year of middle school that Hoseok met Jimin and Taehyung. To this day, he still wonders why it was so easy to befriend them, to have them accept him into their tiny circle as if he belonged there. For the longest time, the three of them were inseparable, even though Hoseok is a year older than they are. Even though Jimin and Taehyung have known each other since nursery school. That never seemed to matter, though. They liked him almost as much as they liked each other.

He isn’t jealous.

Hoseok sees himself as the type of person who can easily make tons of friends, if he wanted to. People naturally seem to like him, for whatever reason. He’s loud, funny, optimistic, loud, kindhearted, silly, and loud. He’s an extrovert at heart and he enjoys being around others.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that he feels particularly close to many of them. In fact, he doesn’t feel all that close to anyone these days. He’s always been that guy who everyone seems to know, but he’s never had a true best friend. He’s never had someone who always picks him first.

He isn’t jealous.

Once the three of them have finished their second run of the same dungeon, Namjoon announces that he has to leave for dinner. Hoseok looks at the clock and wonders how they’ve been playing for over two hours already. He figures that it makes sense; he spaced out for the majority of that time.

“What’re you going to eat?” Yoongi asks him.

“Jjimdak, I think.”

Yoongi makes a pained noise at that, indicating just how hungry and jealous he is. Namjoon laughs in response and praises his acting, to which Yoongi replies that it isn’t an act at all. He’s starving and he forgot to shop for groceries, since his roommate usually does that and the cooking. Too bad his roommate is gone for the week. He has no choice but to order take-out, but he’s too lazy and hungry to do even that.

First-world problems, Hoseok thinks.

“Eat enough for the two of us, okay?”

“I will!” Namjoon says, and then he’s gone with the promise of coming back as soon as he can.

It’s completely silent for the first time since their Skype call began. Hoseok makes his character sit on the ground in order for his health bar to rise faster, since he had taken quite the beating in that second dungeon run. He supposes that he’s just too distracted by his own thoughts to concentrate on not dying.

Yoongi’s character, Suga, suddenly casts a healing spell and comes over to help. In an instant, Hoseok’s elf has full health again.

“Thanks,” he mutters.

[Suga has requested a duel.]

Hoseok blinks at the screen in confusion. He glances back and forth between the two characters as a frown settles on his face.

“Hyung?”

“Fight me,” Yoongi says, simple as that.

“But… I’ll lose.”

“Eh, not if we change the damage to one percent. Then we’ll just cancel it when we’re done.”

That makes a bit of sense, but it’s still a random request and Hoseok is still very confused. He quickly decides that he doesn’t care about losing, nor does he care about whatever Yoongi’s intentions are. As long as it passes the time, since Namjoon is a slower eater and he knows they’ll be here for a while.

“Well, okay, I guess.”

Hoseok makes his character stand up from the ground before accepting the duel. He watches as Yoongi lowers the percentage of damage all the way down to one, just as promised. Admittedly, it makes him feel just a tad better about this.

“Put your bow away,” Yoongi instructs as the countdown begins. “We’re doing this with our bare hands.”

Hoseok does as he’s told. When the duel officially begins, he runs at Suga without hesitation and begins repeatedly clicking the mouse to throw some punches. All that it takes is a few seconds for his frown to slowly curl into a little smile. Who knew that watching Suga get smacked repeatedly could be so satisfying?

“Okay, this is kind of fun.”

What makes it even better is the fact that in this game, elves are faster than humans. In other words, when Yoongi’s character starts to hit him back, all that Hoseok has to do is run the other way. When he comes back around, he’s usually the one to deliver the first blow because of the speed advantage.

If only this technique worked in an actual dungeon against fomors. Maybe Hoseok would be considered a pro player by now.

“You’ve been quiet today.”

The sudden question catches Hoseok by surprise. He stops moving his character and watches as the poor elf gets punched backwards, just before gaining control again and running out of harm’s way.

“Have I? I don’t think so.”

Yoongi responds with a noise that basically means he’s definitely not buying that. Hoseok hates that he’s so perceptive.

“Hoseok-ah, I’ve been talking to you every day for over a week now. Trust me, I know the differences between your volumes.”

Hoseok doesn’t respond to that because he doesn’t know how to. It’s hard to lie to someone and pretend that he’s okay when that someone can’t even see his face. All his life, Hoseok has used his bright, blinding smile to his advantage. It’s the perfect shield for hiding his own sadness. He only has to smile that signature smile, and people always stop asking questions.

“What’s wrong?” Yoongi continues to prod. “You can talk to Vladimir hyung.”

“Uh… Vladimir?”

“It’s my vampire name, I’ve decided.”

Despite not being in the mood, Hoseok actually laughs at the ridiculousness of that statement.

“Wow. Someone’s a League of Legends nerd.”

“Maybe I am. Now, talk to me.”

There’s another short pause as Hoseok considers what he should say. He already knows that he won’t get very far if he lies, but he also can’t tell Yoongi the entire truth. No, he can never do that. Perhaps pieces and bits of the truth will work for now.

“It’s nothing, I promise. Just… a bit of dumb drama with some old friends of mine.”

“I see. Did they steal your girlfriend?”

Hoseok gasps as his character is punched again.

“What? No!”

“Okay. Did you steal theirs?”

Appalled and slightly annoyed at such accusations, Hoseok clicks his mouse faster and begins attacking without pause.

“No, dammit—there wasn’t any stealing of girlfriends, okay?”

He doesn’t add a certain piece of information that part of his brain wants him to say. He doesn’t admit that he never had a girlfriend to begin with, because he doesn’t like girls in that way. He doesn’t admit that because he hasn’t fully admitted it to himself yet.

He just.

He can’t.

“Then whatever it is, it can’t be that bad. Right?”

Hoseok exhales a deep sigh and gives up the fight. He presses the spacebar to switch from attack mode to normal mode, then makes his character sit down again, not caring if he gets beaten to a pulp. But it looks like he won’t have to worry about that, since Yoongi makes Suga sit down as well.

On top of jhope94.

He’ll have to stop doing that eventually.

“I don’t know… things are kind of bad, I think,” Hoseok quietly admits. “We don’t talk as much as we used to and it’s all my fault.”

“Now why would you think that?”

“Because… because I changed schools a couple of months back. I came to Seoul and left them behind as a result… I left everyone behind, and I guess I feel really guilty about that? So, I figured I’d just… leave them alone. I don’t want to upset them more than I have already.”

Yoongi hums to show that he listened to all of that, but he doesn’t say anything immediately. Hoseok waits for a response with a belly full of nerves, almost wishing that Yoongi will confirm his beliefs. He wants to be told that he’s right, that they’re better off without him and everything truly is his own fault.

But instead of saying any of that, Yoongi simply replies with:

“That’s kind of stupid, don’t you think?”

Hoseok frowns again. “Okay… thanks?”

“No, I mean—if they haven’t told you directly that they don’t want to talk to you, then you shouldn’t assume that that’s the case? It’s not exactly fair to your friends if you don’t even give them a chance. Who knows, they’re probably missing you.”

The worst part about hearing Yoongi’s words is that they make perfect sense. Hoseok knows that they do, he’s not a fool. And, thanks to that text message that he received from Taehyung earlier, he now knows that they actually do miss him. It’s just too bad that he can’t go back. No, it’s way too late for that.

“I… guess that you’re right.”

Yoongi snorts. “Of course I’m right.”

“You had to ruin the moment, didn’t you?” Hoseok rolls his eyes, but there’s a smile there, too. Now that most of the tension has gone, he decides to tease back. “You’re such a genius, Yoongi hyung!”

“Thanks, I know.”

“Also, speaking of friends, I meant to ask you something about that.”

“Hm?”

“Who else do you play with on this game? Like, do you have any friends on here?”

There’s a semi-lengthy pause that follows, one that has Hoseok wondering if he has somehow over stepped his boundaries. He’s just about to change the subject or apologize or something, when Suga stands up and starts hitting him again. Hoseok quickly reacts, making jhope94 fight back.

“Yeah. Kind of,” Yoongi finally replies.

There’s no anger in his tone, nothing to hint that he’s upset at all. Hoseok is relieved.

“Kind of?”

“I used to play with my guild leader a lot, but she’s really busy nowadays. You know, adult life and shit.” He pauses to let out a laugh as they hit each other at the same time, both characters flying back in a comical fashion. “And then there’s Jungkook, I guess.”

“Who’s that?” Hoseok asks, curious.

“A sixteen-year-old punk whose ass I used to kick in the arena.” He laughs again, though softer this time around. “He’s in my guild, too, but he doesn’t play as much anymore. He basically ditched me for Overwatch, the little traitor.”

“Oh… that sucks.”

“Tell me about it. Also, sometimes my roommate plays, just to humor me. He’s even worse at this game than you are, though.”

“Wow. I’m not sure if I should be flattered or insulted.”

When Yoongi laughs for a third time, the sound does something weird to Hoseok’s tummy, makes him feel like he’s beginning to float. He thinks that it’s a good feeling, though. Yeah, it’s definitely good. He enjoys knowing that he can make someone laugh, even when he isn’t trying to.

“Trust me, it’s a compliment,” Yoongi continues. “Anyway, he’s not really into these types of games so it’s pretty rare that we’ll play together. At the moment, he’s basically in a relationship with Mario Kart.”

Hoseok giggles softly. “He sounds fun. What’s his name?”

“Seokjin.”

“Seokjin, huh?” he repeats. A recent memory suddenly comes to him and he adds, “Imagine if your name really was Sungjin! The two of you would then be Sungjin and Seokjin, the greatest duo since Mario and Luigi.”

Hoseok isn’t sure how to describe the noise that Yoongi makes upon hearing that, but he can tell that the other boy is amused.

“Hey, that’d actually work, considering the fact that he’s taller than me.”

“Oh?” Hoseok abruptly stops moving his character in favor of focusing on this brand-new information. “Are you short, Yoongi hyung?”

“That’s enough questions for today,” comes Yoongi’s immediate response.

Well, that answer is basically a confirmation in itself. And since Hoseok doesn’t pride himself in being the wisest guy on earth, he chooses to push his luck by refusing to drop the subject. He can’t help it, though; this has to be the discovery of a lifetime.

“Is that a yes? You are short, aren’t you? Aw, how cute!”

Yoongi doesn’t say anything right away. Instead, he requests a cancellation of the duel. Hoseok readily accepts it, having grown bored of smacking and being smacked in return. However, just before he can continue teasing the other, Yoongi requests yet another duel.

“Let’s fight for real this time,” he demands.

Hoseok laughs without holding back.

“Why? You gonna punish me for finding out information that you let slip?”

“Accept the duel and you’ll find out.”

Okay, so Hoseok doesn’t want to admit that those words combined with Yoongi’s tone sent shivers down his spine. He also doesn’t want to admit that he’s definitely about to get his ass handed to him. So, instead of admitting anything, he bites the bullet and accepts the request for a duel.

“Fine. Do your worst, shorty.”