A cold wind bit at his cheeks. It ruffled through the fabric of his t-shirt like a gentle reminder not to forget his jacket next time he went out. He really meant to bring it, but walked right past it on the way out of his apartment. Everything seemed so urgent when he got that text. And the coffee that sat between his finger tips in a warm cardboard cup told him he should have waited. He should have taken his time when he tied his shoes on his feet and savored how good of a day this was supposed to be. Today was supposed to be happy just like him.
Hoseok was synonymous with happy. Everybody was convinced his face was in the dictionary next to the word. It was impossible to find that cheery person without a smile plastered on his face for some reason or another.
But today, he really hated everything.
Jimin was sitting across from him, a cool expression on his face. A face that Hoseok always equated to good times and fond smiles at times like this. When Jimin came home from a trip, it was like a parade in Hoseok’s heart. But this trip had been longer than most. A couple of missed calls. A more awkward than usual Skype, and in general a feeling of weariness on both ends that made him less excited to hear all this.
“Hoseok,” Jimin said softly, “Can you say something? You not talking is really scary.”
“What …” Hoseok let out a breath. “What am I supposed to say?”
His fingers curled into the coffee cup, feeling a pang of unpleasantness as heat seeped through the cardboard and scalded his skin. The sleeves for the cups were sitting right there and in his haste to sit down, he forgot that too. Somehow he couldn’t stop forgetting things. He also couldn’t stop holding the stupid burning cup so tight.
“Don’t be like this, please.” Jimin sighed. He pushed some stray hair up into his ball cap that looked blonder than Hoseok remembered.
“Is there somebody else?” Hoseok asked, feeling the cold air in his teeth as he spoke.
“I swear, there’s nobody else, Hoseokie.” The nickname made him wince. “I love you. I love you so much I can’t see straight.”
“But … we’re breaking up,” Hoseok repeated him meekly.
Jimin let out another sigh. “I want to be with you, but it’s not fair of me to ask you to change.”
Hoseok swallowed something. It was probably a little saliva and oxygen, but it felt like razor blades. Ones that teetered down to his stomach and whispered something about how he should have seen this coming. “I did something.”
“Well, yeah.” Jimin nodded, following Hoseok’s line of sight across the table to where his leather wallet was sitting. “You did a lot of things. You forgot when my birthday was. You left the stove running. And cups of coffee all around my apartment half finished. You never seemed to be listening when I have a lot to say. Hoseok, you can’t even focus your eyes on me right now. The whole world is more interesting to you than me.”
Hoseok snapped his eyes back up to Jimin’s, a place that suddenly contained none of the comfort it once held. They hadn’t dated forever, but it was long enough. Just one too many days for this to be anything other than difficult.
“I understand,” Hoseok said calmly, nodding as he let his burning finger tips peel away from the cup.
He sniffled, blockading the pressure growing from the tears just below his eyes. The last thing he wanted to right now was cry while Jimin looked so strong. Jimin nodded, holding eye contact with Hoseok until he got up.
He took a few steps, but paused beside the table, leaning over to catch Hoseok’s attention. He laid his palm across the wallet as he did so. “Can you call me in a few days?”
Hoseok nodded in response, sniffing once again and biting his lip. All the long standardized tests in the world couldn’t hold a candle to how tough it was not to become a sobbing mess right now. He nodded quickly again, hoping to get Jimin off his back.
“Hoseokie.” The nickname cut him again. “Just say yes for me. Okay?”
He nodded more vigorously this time, feeling his clogged sinuses stuff his voice like a Christmas stocking. “Yes. Yes.”
Jimin leaned closer, rolling forward on the wallet and scooting it an inch backwards against the tabletop. He kissed Hoseok on the cheek with lips that were cold against his hot skin. When they left for potentially the last time, the absence didn’t linger. It was quickly overtaken by the heat of his embarrassment once more.
As Jimin left, so did Hoseok. Though he sat in that chair still physically, staring at some picture of coffee beans on the wall, he was mentally floating among the air particles around him. The world felt inches, feet, even miles away from his skin. It was muted and colorless, locking him away in an echochamber of his own thoughts. It stripped him of everything except for the uncanny feeling that he’s felt that before.
And he has.
“What are you doing by yourself?” Kim Seokjin, well just Jin mostly, his childhood best friend asked him.
Hoseok was nine at the time. Maybe ten. In a big fluffy coat because it was still too cold for recess, but the teachers took every second possible to have the kids outside. There was a ball between his feet as he awkwardly dribbled it around the blacktop, away from the tables where all the other kids had been gathered.
“I’m bad at that game,” Hoseok grumbled, “The one everybody’s playing.”
“It’s just memory,” Jin consoled him, shoving his stubby hands in his own coat pockets.
Hoseok kicked the ball over to Jin. “I’m bad at that. Everybody else can do that stuff and I can’t”
Jin managed to stop it with his foot, smiling in the process. “What stuff?”
“Multiplication tables.” Hoseok rolled his eyes. “And paying attention all the time.”
“You’re just different.” Jin shrugged. “It’s okay. You’re more fun because of it.”
It was only the first of many times that Kim Seokjin made Jung Hoseok feel safe and sane. From that day on the playground until the day they graduated high school, Hoseok always found Jin ready to pick him up when he was down. Even between what felt like a new girlfriend every semester from 8th grade on, Jin made time to see Hoseok. When he started taking pills, Jin was there to remind him to eat. And when Hoseok’s mom left the country to work so she could afford those pills for her son, Jin texted him every morning to remind him to take them.
And when it had come time to graduate, they knew it was time to part paths as well. That feeling felt so freakishly similar to the one he was experiencing right now. Though he never loved Jin in a romantic way, his absence left a hole.
“Hoseok!” Namjoon yelled.
Hoseok basically stumbled backwards after opening the door to that. He had been in a dirge ever since he left the cafe so it really served to shock him out of it. Which is surprising because not only did he sit at the cafe for an indeterminate amount of time but he also moped about running errands for a while and generally finding places to sit and feel sorry for himself.
So when he arrived home, not only was he so deep in a funk that he may as well be riffing on a saxophone, but it was also mid-evening. A quick look revealed to him that Namjoon had invited several of his friends over for whatever reason that night. Which isn’t surprising at all. Seriously that guy networks like no other. It’s kind of scary.
“Whoa!” Hoseok started, putting a hand on his chest and bugging his eyes as his body caught up to the alarmed response.
“Sorry.” Namjoon bounced over the room to where Hoseok was, the sound of the TV and people conversing muddling his voice when he wasn’t close. “I invited a few people. My bad. Hope that’s okay. Can I get your coat?”
“Uh--” Before Hoseok could respond, Namjoon spun him around and started yanking the coat off of him.
He haphazardly shrugged off the coat to try and help Namjoon, spinning back around immediately after to face him. There were lots of sounds and noises assaulting his senses in that second. If a person could actually see stars, Hoseok definitely had a solar system in his vision right now.
“Cool.” Namjoon shut the door and tossed Hoseok’s coat onto the floor. “You need a drink, hyung?”
“I’m not really feeling up to it.” Hoseok collected himself, looking over at Namjoon.
His room mate frowned, accentuating the pinkness in his cheeks that indicated he had been drinking himself. His blond dyed hair looked perfect as always, contrasting the concerned expression he wore on his face now. “What? You love parties. And people. We’re just playing smash right now, but I’m sure you can dance later.”
“Nah.” Hoseok played it off as nonchalantly as possible. “I’m just going to go to bed if that’s alright.”
The minute Hoseok started to step away Namjoon snatched him by the arm. His features were serious now like his tone. “Seok. You’re good?”
“I’m good-I’m good,” Hoseok lied, nodding to add to his statement.
For a second it seemed like Namjoon wasn’t going to take that answer at face value. Even in the couple seconds it took him to stare at Hoseok as if he would crack under the pressure, Namjoon still wasn’t entirely convinced of it. But for one reason or another he decided to loosen his grip on his room mate’s arm and sighed apologetically. “Alright, then. Feel better soon.”
Hoseok gave him a thankful smile/nod combo before turning and stepping over a couple of guys with controllers on his way back to his room.
Once he was in his room, he slumped down into his desk chair and holy shit did it feel awesome. He’d been out and about feeling bad for himself all day long, so thank god he could finally just slouch in a chair and look at his laptop for a couple of seconds in silence.
And yeah, sure, normally he’d love a party. He gets his energy from people and between the dancing and jokes, people tend to gravitate towards him. For a second, he even considers saying fuck it and going out there to drink off his problems. But he quickly reconsiders. He has loose lips when he drinks, and talking about his break-up was the last thing he wanted to do tonight.
So he just leaned back and interlaced his fingers on his lap instead. It felt fantastic to just let his head sink into the back of the chair. So good in fact that he let his eyes flutter shut for just a fraction of a second. Maybe he would fallen asleep too.
If not for the person who suddenly burst in through his door and threw it shut behind them.
“Aie-” Hoseok jerked forward.
“Chill out.” The guy rolled his eyes and waved at Hoseok lazily. “I’m just taking a breather.”
Hoseok spun on his chair to see who had so rudely invaded his room sans permission. He was a bit smaller than Hoseok with dark black hair and round face. Actually, his entire outfit was black. And either Hoseok had failed to meet this one of Namjoon’s friends, or his brain was just too worn out from the self-loathing to pinpoint it.
“Usually people do that outside,” Hoseok stated.
“Yeah, not a fan of that.” The intruder shrugged.
“Not a fan of what?” Hoseok furrowed his brow. “People? Parties? The Outside?”
“Yes.” The guy walked over towards Hoseok’s bed and pointed to it. “So can I just lay down for a second or?”
Hoseok made a confused face. “What? I don’t even know you.”
The guy sighed dramatically. “Min Yoongi. There. You know me now. Cool.”
And then he proceeded to flop down on the mattress and pull out his phone as if he lived there and paid rent or did the dishes or something. Had there been a single drop of energy left in Hoseok’s body, he might have been upset by the stranger's--well, Yoongi’s--sudden intrusion.
“Listen, Yoongi …” Hoseok realized he had no idea how old this guy was. “... bud. If you don’t like parties why are you here?”
Yoongi made no facial expression as he continued to scroll through his phone, swiping this way and that in a casual fashion. It kind of infuriated Hoseok.
Without looking up he responded, “I really don’t know why I do a lot of things.”
“So you’re just going to hang out in a stranger’s room?” Hoseok asked.
“Sure,” Yoongi answered, “Actually, to be fair, we’ve met twice before, but I get the feeling you’re not exactly one for remembering things so I won’t hold it against you. But that does mean we aren’t strangers. More like ... acquaintances. I guess that's what people would call it. You know, people like the loud ones in there. You, seem pretty fucking loud, but one loud is better than several loud, so really, this was the best option.” Yoongi clicked his phone to lock and dropped it on his stomach so he could look at Hoseok. “And I’m older than you so hyung will do just fine.”
His little monologue flustered Hoseok. Not that he really cared, but people don’t often come into his room acting like this. He leaves his door shut traditionally, and there’s just no reason for anybody to be in here except him. The last non-him person to be here for any length of time was Jimin.
Hoseok quickly shook off the thought. “Seriously. Did something happen in there?”
“Did you miss the just-need-a-breather thing?” Yoongi let his head back and spoke up to the ceiling. “Too loud. Too hot. Too many lights.”
“Ooooh. I get it.” Hoseok cracked a smile. “Pizza Land syndrome.”
He watched the other man’s face contort from disgust to curiosity as he spoke, “What the fuck is that?”
“It’s like,” Hoseok swiveled in the chair a bit, “When you’re at Pizza Land and all the lights of the arcade machines are flashing and the ball pit has people screaming in it and the animatronic band is playing a-rhythmically and the parents are yelling and it smells overwhelmingly like grease. It’s just so much your body goes into overload and shuts down.”
Yoongi sat up off the bed, crossing his legs to sit on the mattress and turn his inquisitive gaze to Hoseok. It was the first truly straight on view Hoseok had gotten of the man.
“You’ve thought a lot about this.” Yoongi tapped his knees, just visible through the rips of his hole-y jeans. “I think it’s called sensory overload, but you’re creative at least. Always figured it was just the depressed introvert in me, but maybe not.”
“I wouldn’t call myself an introvert.” Hoseok pulled his arms up and locked his fingers together behind his head, steering away his line of sight to the ceiling Yoongi had been talking to moments before. “I have no idea why I’m telling you this or why I haven’t kicked you out yet.”
Yoongi chuckled, “Because I’m dashingly handsome, so it’s only natural that my charisma would charm you like this.”
“Humble too,” Hoseok mused, trying his best to cap the smile pushing at the corners of his lips.
“It’s also cathartic to tell people shit, and I don’t care enough to tell anybody nor have any effect on your life. May as well get it out now.” Yoongi leaned back a bit, gripping his knees and rolling just a touch to stretch his shoulders and arms. “In fact, I encourage it.”
His logic seemed sound and Hoseok was very much tired. So he agreed, “Okay. If I tell you something will you leave?”
“Sure,” Yoongi frowned, “My uber is close anyways.”
“Okay.” Hoseok let his arms down and used the heels of his feet to walk the chair forward towards the edge of the bed. “I have ADHD and I don’t tell anyone because they think it’s a joke. I’m also pretty sure it’s ruining my life.”
Yoongi’s disposition didn’t change. “Why not take pills?”
Hoseok sighed, “They’re expensive and I’m between jobs.”
“Not anymore,” Yoongi stated, “I just hired you. How are you with smiling?”
Hoseok squinted. This guy wasn’t acting drunk, but he almost had to be. Or at least … maybe a little high? A brief glance to his eyes gave Hoseok more insight. They’re really nice eyes, but that’s not the point. They’re not red at all. He hasn’t been smoking. Maybe he’s just strange?
“What are you on about?” Hoseok tacked on a nervous chuckle.
Yoongi pointed at him suddenly. “Look! You’re smiling right now and you’re utterly confused. That’s perfect. You’re hired.”
“You already said that! For what?”
Yoongi let go of his knees and straightened his legs out to swing them off the bed and stand up. As he stretched out his arms, he explained ... somewhat. “I work for a certain person and he’s in need of a new personal assistant. See, his last one quit abruptly, and we need to fill the position ASAP. He’s not really a big fan of anything other than positive emotions so you’ll have to smile a lot. Can you be downtown at noon tomorrow?”
“I mean … yes?” Hoseok furrowed his eyebrows, watching as Yoongi headed for the door, his phone flashing that his Uber had arrived, “Wait--Where? Is it like an internship? Who am I even working for?”
Yoongi didn’t stop in his path out the door, rattling details off as he walked out of the room, “I’ll send you the address. No, it’s a job, and Kim Taehyung. See you tomorrow!”
He pulled the door shut behind him, and Hoseok was suddenly left in the muted silence of his room. The only sounds anymore were that of distant music, and Namjoon yelling something about Pikachu. Hoseok felt a sublimity creep over him as he caught the splashback of Yoongi’s wake. In seconds, true to his word, Hoseok’s phone buzzed.
He pulled it out and murmured the address from the new number to himself. “How the fuck did he get my number? And who is Kim Taehyung?”
A quick google search answered his question, “Also known mononymously as V? Like the famous singer V?” Hoseok shook his head, still talking to himself.
The only response he got to his questions was Namjoon screaming from the other room, "Yeah, Pikachu--I'm the alpha now!"