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Ripped At Every Edge, But We're A Masterpiece

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He had always been beautiful.

Even as a child, his smile lit up a room. People wanted to know who he was, they wanted to be in his presence. He had a way about him that made him likeable even to people who normally disliked everyone. He was a child that everyone knew was going to grow up to be someone admirable. It helped, of course, that his family was wealthy and that his whole future was basically guaranteed.

He was the son every parent dreamed of having. He was the friend everyone wanted to have. He was the person everyone wanted to be.

Kind, funny, and alluring.

Jung Hoseok was a force of nature.

Min Yoongi, on the other hand, didn’t consider himself anything to write home about. He was, however, lucky to know Jung Hoseok. He was lucky to know him by more than just name or word of mouth. Jung Hoseok was someone Yoongi could consider a friend, even when he was young.

Their meeting was accidental, by chance, and mostly unconventional, if not even a little bit frowned upon. After all, Hoseok was wealthy, of importance, and Yoongi was no one. Yoongi was just the little boy who another little boy happened to accidentally bump into on the streets one day, causing the elder to drop his art supplies that he was supposed to bring back to the studio, part of his apprenticeship.

Hoseok, the kind boy he was, helped Yoongi gather up his things and bring them back.

And somehow, that began their friendship. Although, in retrospect, Yoongi supposed it began more than that, more than a simple friendship. Nothing about the two of them was ever simple.

~~~

“It’s hot out here!”

 “Yes, well, that is what happens in the summer.”

Taehyung groaned and plopped down into the bright green grass. He curled his fists around it and yanked a tuff out from the ground, taking a small little white weed-flower with it. Then, he tossed away the torn pieces of grass and huffed as if he were a small child.

“I wish I were swimming. Or being fanned by someone pretty,” Taehyung said and looked up at the sun that beat down on them.

“Yes, well—”

“You begin every sentence with that,” Yoongi said to Namjoon.

“Only the wealthy get fanned and you’re the apprentice here so you don’t get to swim,” Namjoon told Taehyung and gave Yoongi a pointed look.

“Why am I even here? You two have been painting for hours and I haven’t even touched a brush,” Taehyung whined.

“You could, if you got up off the ground and put in some effort. We never said you couldn’t paint, too,” Yoongi pointed out. He dipped his own paintbrush into a splash of bright red color and dotted it onto the canvas in front of him. Taehyung ignored him and lay back down in the grass.

For a moment, Yoongi considered drawing Taehyung in the field, or adding him into his painting, but the boy was constantly squirming around and could not stay still to save his life. Sure, he would have made for a nice painting, all tan skin and dreamy eyes, but Yoongi was happy with the way his painting was going thus far. The field was lush and green with little weed flowers growing across it. Every so often a red or sunshine yellow flower popped up amongst the green. The sky was clear and bluer than ever, only a few white clouds interrupting the expanse.

On his canvas, Yoongi depicted the thin blades of grass and the endless sky, and he added more of the red flowers and added the sun, hidden behind a slightly greying cloud. Beside him, Namjoon was depicting the field as well, but it was more literal, a simple straightforward copy. He didn’t add anything or take anything out, he kept it all as it was. That was his style.

Where Yoongi was less literal, more creative, Namjoon preferred to make exact renditions. Which was probably why he got more commissions by the upper class than Yoongi did. More often than not, Yoongi’s work was bought after it was finished, if it was bought at all. He struggled, but art was what he loved and he wasn’t going to give it up. He was good at what he did, even if not everyone was so eager to think so. At least people had an opinion though.

Yoongi was known in the city, the village, and the neighboring towns. Of course, his reasons for being known were not all that great, but it got his name out there and he tried to look on the bright side of things. Not that looking on the bright side was easy, but he had help.

“Did I tell you about my latest commission?” Namjoon asked suddenly. Yoongi set his paint brush down and stepped back from the canvas to get another view of it.

“You didn’t tell me,” Yoongi replied.

“I was commissioned by the Kim’s,” Namjoon said.

Yoongi scoffed and leaned into his canvas. One of the little red flowers was bigger than the others, he noticed. With a sigh, he picked up his paintbrush to fix it, but then, upon further thought, he decided that the flower being bigger was okay. It looked as if it were tilted up to the sun.

“You’re going to have to be more specific,” Yoongi said. “Considering both you and Taehyung are Kim’s.”

The Kim’s,” Namjoon said.

Yoongi glanced over at Namjoon and his raised eyebrows. There was a time when Yoongi and Namjoon hadn’t gotten along. When they were both apprentices, a long time ago, as children, and had found themselves as rivals. Namjoon picked up hyperrealism faster than Yoongi could, and he got praise for that, while Yoongi sat back and drew things with more imagination. However, as time wore on, the rival complex became tiring and they both accepted that they were different, but equally as talented in their own rights.

“Commissioned to do what for them? That’s a big deal, they’re the wealthiest family around here,” Yoongi stated. “If you paint something for them, that’ll be a big deal for you.”

“They want me to paint their eldest son,” Namjoon explained and then took his canvas off the wooden easel he was using before folding it up. “I have heard that he’s very meticulous.”

“Fun. Can I come?” Taehyung asked. “I love going to these fancy rich assholes palaces and traipsing around.”

“You can come and assist me like you’re meant to,” Namjoon said sternly, but then he winked and Taehyung grinned back excitedly.

“Just don’t anger them,” Yoongi said. “If you do, it’ll come back to me and…well I don’t need any more bad things added to my name.”

Namjoon nodded sympathetically and then tucked his canvas and easel under arm. “I’m going to head back,” he said. “Taehyung, are you coming with me?”

Taehyung jumped up and nodded and Yoongi watched them disappear down the hill into the green. After adding a few more dots of red, Yoongi left too, feeling sweat starting to dampen the back of his flimsy shirt. He didn’t want to stick around and get a sunburn or heat stroke.

Namjoon and Taehyung bounded along ahead of him, and Yoongi reached down into the grass at his feet and pulled a lone yellow flower from the soil. One of its petals was slightly wilted, but the rest were brilliantly golden. Yoongi loved things that were golden. He loved things he could never truly have.

“Are you coming?” Taehyung called and Yoongi tore his gaze away from the flower and back to his friends.

“Yes, I’m coming,” he assured.

The walk back to the city was always slow going, and once they got there, Taehyung darted away and into the streets lined with vendors selling things that they most likely could not afford.

“Are you going back to the studio?” Namjoon asked.

“No, I’m going to go home,” Yoongi decided. Namjoon waved, then and disappeared into the crowded streets while Yoongi continued on down the dirt road towards home.

Home was, like most things in Yoongi’s life, nothing special. Next to their studio, was a tavern, where scantily clad women served bad alcohol, and above the tavern was a lodging, which Yoongi called his own. It was spacious and there was plenty of room to work, and a window in the bedroom provided a nice view of the outside world. However, the lighting was dim and he could often hear the happenings of downstairs. Still, it was better than living on the streets, so he counted his blessings.

When he stepped into the tavern, one of the boys who worked behind the counter waved at him. “Yoongi! Someone went up to your rooms, are you painting someone new?” the boy asked.

Yoongi waved him off and shook his head. “No, Jungkook. It’s no one,” Yoongi lied. He knew exactly who it was and so, he picked up his pace and went back into the grimy kitchen and then up the stairs there to his rooms.

It was always noticeable, when someone else was there. Yoongi could feel it. He could especially feel when it was him, because, somehow, he made the dark space brighter. He always made things brighter, no matter what it was.

“Where are you?” Yoongi called. The easel and canvas fell to the floor with a light thud and then Yoongi shrugged off the pack on his back with his paint and brushes. One brush escaped and rolled across the floor, but Yoongi ignored it. Instead, he walked further into the space and peered around the corner, where he finally saw him.

“Have you been painting?”

He stood from where he sat on the edge of the bed, clothed in a simple white shirt and riding pants, even though Yoongi was certain he’d walked there. Taking a horse would have been too noticeable.

“Yes, I’ve been out with Namjoon and Taehyung.”

“Without me?”

“I prefer to paint you here,” Yoongi said softly.

Hoseok was in front of him, tan skin and sharp lines and slender fingers and beauty.

“I like that, too,” Hoseok said quietly.

A muse.

Because that’s what Hoseok was. But that wasn’t all he was. He was also Yoongi’s best friend, someone he felt bonded to in a way he never could explain. It had been there even when they’d first met, as children, despite the fact that they were from different worlds. His family wasn’t so dense as to think Hoseok couldn’t be friends with someone lower class. It was the other wealthy families with influence who frowned upon it. Still, though, Hoseok stuck around. He came out to see Yoongi and met him in places throughout the city.

And he accompanied Yoongi while he painted. That was, after all, how their friendship began. More than that, though, Hoseok let Yoongi paint, or draw, him. He had been doing so for years, and one of his portraits of Hoseok hung in his family’s home, next to a portrait of Hoseok’s sister.

The painting Hoseok thing only started because Hoseok was, somehow, undeniably well suited to be immortalized on canvas. He had tan skin and a sharp jawline and bright eyes that held secrets Yoongi wanted to uncover. His hands were delicate, but his voice was loud and boisterous. His entire self begged to be depicted artistically.

And, right then, he was standing dangerously close to Yoongi. But they always stood close together, and Hoseok’s eyes always held a little bit of darkness in them. He was, Yoongi knew, popular with everyone. He got around. His eyes were always full of desire. That desire wasn’t for Yoongi though, not in that way.

“You didn’t really come here because you wanted me to paint you, did you?” Yoongi asked, taking a slight step back before arching around Hoseok to get to his rickety old desk.

“You’re my dearest friend,” Hoseok said dramatically, with a hint of sarcasm. “I came to see you, to say hi.”

“Well, hi, then,” Yoongi murmured.

Hoseok huffed and flopped back down on Yoongi’s bed. The skin of his neck and chest were exposed, golden like the sun, or maybe thanks to the sun. Yoongi had known Hoseok throughout many summers and the winters, and in the summer he got unfairly bronze and his hair got a little bit lighter and he wore lighter clothes that hung and draped across his frame, making him look like something ethereal.

“My parents are preparing for the annual summer masquerade ball,” Hoseok explained as he fiddled with the top button on his shirt. His legs dangled off the bed and his hair fell off his forehead onto the dingy sheets. “They told me to tell you that you’re welcome there.”

“Am I?”

“Of course,” Hoseok said. “You’re a respected artist, Yoongi, not to mention, a friend.”

Yoongi scoffed and sat down in his old wooden chair. “I’m the bastard son of a royal asshole.”

“He isn’t a royal,” Hoseok pointed out. “Not really. And it doesn’t matter, anyway, because that fact doesn’t define you and it’s never mattered to me. So come to the ball.”

Of course it doesn’t matter to you, Yoongi thought at Hoseok, you only see the good in things. You see the good in me, but that’s never going to be enough.

“I’ll think about going,” Yoongi relented. Only because it earned him a smile from Hoseok, and Hoseok’s smile was better than any high or buzz from alcohol. It was everything.

“Great!” Hoseok exclaimed. “Do you have any art to work on?”

“I was commissioned a little while back to do a sculpture, but I haven’t gotten started on it yet. Soon,” Yoongi explained and glanced down at his hands. “How is the search going to find you a suitable match?”

Hoseok grimaced and shook his head. A silent way to say he didn’t want to talk about it. He never did. “I suppose that’s half the reason I’m here. I like spending time with you better than with all those girls who I know nothing about. Although, I’m sure the ball will be another excuse to set me up. At least my sister scares most of them off.”

Hoseok stood up from the bed and walked over to Yoongi’s desk, so he towered over Yoongi. That hadn’t always been the case, though, once upon a time, Yoongi had been the taller one, but it wasn’t long before Hoseok outgrew him in the years between him being a boy and becoming a man.

“I’ve been wanting to practicing drawing hands,” Yoongi blurted, because Hoseok’s crotch was too close to his face. “Would you mind if I drew yours?”

“Of course not,” Hoseok answered. To confirm his answer, he danced his hand across the desk, stopping to pick at a dried bit of paint, before his hand traveled to Yoongi’s cheek. His thumb touched the roundest part and brushed across it. “You have paint on your face,” Hoseok said lowly. But then he broke into a smile because he was a friend. Only a friend.

Only a friend since the day they met. Only a friend for over twelve years.

~~~

Age Ten

The city streets were always bustling. People crammed into the dirt roads and walkways to weave between little stands selling all kinds of fare. Women flounced around in gowns and some scuttled in rags, while other wore next to nothing. Men shouted and pushed their goods in people’s faces while children clung to their parents’ legs.

Yoongi, however, had no parents to cling to. Ten years old, and he was on his own, pushing through the crowd with a bundle of art supplies in his hands. If he dropped even one, he would get into trouble, because the supplies had not been cheap and he was lucky that he was the apprentice chosen to go buy them, that he was trusted that much.

Still, he was only ten. He was small, all long skinny limbs and raggedy dark hair that swung in his eyes. It was both a blessing and a curse, because sometimes he was able to slip through the crowd, but other times, he was pushed back into it.

Eventually, he managed to breach through. He looked left and right, trying to decide on which way to go. More so, he was trying to remember which way to go. He’d gotten turned around. No one around him would help, they were all too caught in their own heads and busy getting to where they needed to go.

And so, ten year old Min Yoongi was left to his own devices, arms full of art supplies and ears ringing with the sound of so many voices around him. Taking a deep breath, he decided that left looked like the right way to go, so he started in that direction. About two minutes passed when he began to realize that left had been the wrong direction. He glanced behind him, then forward again and then back behind him, and then finally, forwards one last time before he spun around on his heels to go back in the other direction.

There was only one problem.

As soon as he spun around, he ran right into another boy, and all the things he was carrying tumbled to the dirt road at their feet. Yoongi was too young to curse, but he did it anyway, letting out a long string of words he’d heard around the studio as an apprentice.

“Oh! I’m so, so sorry!” the other boy said in a high voice that was refined in a way Yoongi’s wasn’t.

“’S fine, I’ve got it,” Yoongi muttered and bent down to try and gather up as much stuff as he could.

“Lemme help,” the boy said. He was a slightly smaller than Yoongi, but only by a tiny bit. His hair was dark against his tan skin and he was dressed in clothing that Yoongi only could dream about wearing. His face was long and his eyes were wide, and Yoongi could already tell that this kid was going to be dreadfully annoying.

“I don’t need help!” Yoongi snapped, but at the same time, one of the paintbrushes threatened to roll into the crowd, but the boy reached for it and snatched it up before it could. Eventually, they managed to gather everything back up and stuff it all back inside Yoongi’s flimsy pack.

“I’m really sorry, I’m looking for my sister, but…I didn’t mean to bump into you,” the boy said apologetically as they both stood up. “Where’re you going with all that?”

“It’s for…I do art,” Yoongi said awkwardly, and at that, the other boy’s face lit up with a smile that made Yoongi’s hard exterior melt a tiny bit.

“Really? That’s great, we have lots of art at our house, lots of paintings of old people I don’t know. Do you paint old people?”

“I’m just an apprentice,” Yoongi explained. “I don’t get to paint much like that.”

“What’s your name?”  Yoongi told him, leaving out ‘Min’ and simply sticking with ‘Yoongi’. “I’m Jung Hoseok,” the other boy said proudly. The name rang a bell, a big one in fact. The Jung’s were well known, wealthy, and their youngest, only, son should not be speaking with the likes of Min Yoongi. Except, he was.

“Oh. Well, I’ve gotta go,” Yoongi said, because his parents could show up at any moment, or his sister, and they’d surely not appreciate their prized son talking with Yoongi.

“Well, wait, do you need help?” Jung Hoseok asked. “You looked like you need help carrying all that. It’s a lotta stuff.”

“No, I’ve got—” Embarrassingly enough, Yoongi nearly tripped over a slightly raised part of the ground, but luckily only one little container of paint tumbled out of the bag, which Jung Hoseok eagerly scooped up.

“I’ll walk with you,” he announced and Yoongi scowled at him, but didn’t argue. The rest of the walk back, Jung Hoseok carried the single little pot of paint, while Yoongi carried the rest, and neither of them spoke. However, people moved out of the way for them (for Hoseok) which made the rest of the journey much faster.

When they got to the studio, Hoseok handed Yoongi his paint and peaked curiously inside. “Thanks,” Yoongi said, hoping the other boy would leave, but he didn’t.

“If I’m lost I’m supposed to stay put,” Jung Hoseok said. “Can I stay here?”

“I’m not supposed to bring people here,” Yoongi said. Jung Hoseok’s face fell, then, and Yoongi thought back to the many times when people had turned their backs on him, even at his young age. “But fine, I’ll stay out here with you until someone comes to get you.”

“Oh! Thank you!” They sat down outside the studio, against the bricks and Jung Hoseok dragged his hand through the dirt, drawing little shapes. “How old are you?” he asked after a moment.

“Ten,” Yoongi answered.

“You seem older.”

“Because I don’t get spoiled,” Yoongi deadpanned and he could feel Jung Hoseok’s eyes on him, curious and full of wonder. They sat there against the wall for a long time, until Yoongi’s mentor came outside looking for him. At first, it seemed like he was angry that Yoongi had been loitering outside, but then he noticed Jung Hoseok and the anger fell away.

In fact, he invited Hoseok inside.

By the time the rest of the Jung’s located their son, Yoongi was sad to see him go. Although, he never would have admitted such a thing at the time.

~~~

Jung Hoseok liked to talk, but he was often quiet while Yoongi worked. That hadn’t always been the case, however, because when they were younger, Hoseok rambled on and on while Yoongi painted or drew or sculpted. Of course, they got older and Hoseok started to understand art more, and Namjoon corrupted him by telling him that artists worked better in the quiet.

And so Yoongi missed Hoseok’s ramblings.

The evening had rolled around, and Yoongi had finished sketching Hoseok’s hands, and instead opted to add details to the painting he had been working on earlier, in the field. His friend sat in another old chair, their arms brushing every so often when Yoongi reached out to dip his brush in paint.

“I wish I could do that,” Hoseok said, after a while.

“Hmm?”

“Art. I can’t do it. I can’t make something like that. You’ve always amazed me,” Hoseok admitted and leaned back in his chair and then tilted his head back to look up at the ceiling. Yoongi was glad for the dry season, because if there were rain, the ceiling would surely be leaking.

“Anyone can make art,” Yoongi told Hoseok. “Or, if you don’t make it, then you are it.”

Hoseok laughed. “You’re saying I’m a work of art? I’m flattered.”

Yoongi was quiet while he added some darker green swipes of paint in the grass of his painting, and then he set his paintbrush down and turned to face his friend. “It’s getting late. You should go before people start talking. Jungkook from downstairs already saw you come up here.”

Narrow eyed, Hoseok stood. “Jungkook won’t say anything. Besides, people know we’re friends, Yoongi, no one cares.”

“Yes, they do,” Yoongi corrected. “Besides, people already think I’m…you know, so you don’t need those rumors passing on to yourself.”

It was easy for rumors to spread, especially when Yoongi lived above a place that people drank at. Most of said rumors were about the lack of women who went up to Yoongi’s loft. Sure, there were some women, but no one remembered them. They remembered the men. And, in the end of it all, Yoongi rarely remembered any of them. It wasn’t like they meant anything to him.

“You should be careful, then,” Hoseok said as he started towards the door. “Don’t bring the wrong person into your bed. Don’t bring someone in that would tell people and make you look like the bad guy. Because you aren’t. Don’t let someone else’s shame be your downfall.”

“I can handle myself,” Yoongi assured his friend. “Now get out of here. You’re distracting, and I have actual work to do.” He smiled to show Hoseok that he was only teasing and the younger man nodded and disappeared around the corner, his shoes thumping against the stairs and fading into nothing.

It felt like he was still there, though. It always did.

*

The days passed slowly, and Yoongi continued to put off working on the sculpture he’d been commissioned to do. Primarily because the family who had commissioned it were not Yoongi’s favorites, and also because, while he’d sketched out a general form to go by, starting a sculpture of another person was always difficult. Instead, Yoongi hung around Namjoon and Taehyung until they invited him along to the Kim’s residence, where Namjoon would be working. The portrait he was meant to paint was fairly massive, and Namjoon admitted that he could use another hand.

The morning of, Yoongi went to the studio to meet Namjoon and Taehyung and to pick up some supplies they would need. He’d never been to the Kim’s residence, but they were one of the most powerful families around, outranking even the Jung’s and the Park’s. Which meant that Yoongi knew of them and where they resided. He’d never met the eldest son directly, but he’d seen him from a distance, so he knew Namjoon was lucky. He was painting someone beautiful. That wasn’t always the case, many times, the wealthy families were simply that, wealthy.

Hoseok, of course, was an exception, as was Kim Seokjin.

“Are you excited?” Taehyung asked as the three of them made their way to the Kim’s residence.

“He’s been to the Jung’s so many times that this is nothing,” Namjoon answered.

“Yeah, but this is Kim Seokjin we’re talking about,” Taehyung pointed out. “Jungkook and I are always talking about what it would be like if we were him. He’s practically royalty.”

“Don’t feed his ego when we get there, I’ve heard it’s already big enough,” Yoongi warned their apprentice.

“Really? I’ve heard other things about him are big,” Taehyung said and wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. Namjoon sighed in exasperation and Yoongi just smirked slightly. They were walking down a deserted dirt road that led to the Kim’s large estate, or rather, palace, and if Taehyung wanted to speak crassly, then was the time.

“How’d you get the commission anyway?”

“Through someone else. None of the Kim’s came to me directly,” Namjoon explained and shouldered his easel up to get a better grip on it. “I haven’t ever seen Kim Seokjin in person.”

“Prepare to be amazed,” Taehyung joked and Namjoon shoved the younger boy to the side and stomped a head of them. Taehyung laughed and then turned to Yoongi. “So, are you going to the Jung’s masquerade ball? It’s soon, isn’t it?”

“I might,” Yoongi responded. He wiped sweat from his brow and pushed up the flouncy sleeves of his white shirt.

“Can I ask you something?” Taehyung asked.

“You just did.”

“Another something.”

“Okay.”

“Are the things about you and Jung Hoseok true?”

Yoongi felt his throat dry up. “What things?”

“I don’t know, Jungkookie, from the tavern, says that he thinks you and Jung Hoseok are…can I say fucking? Because he said he thinks you’re fucking.”

Yoongi’s ears began to ring. “No! We are not. Jung Hoseok, Hoseok, he isn’t…he doesn’t like men, Taehyung,” Yoongi said firmly, although, he was almost certain he was telling a lie. Or maybe he wanted to be telling a lie. Maybe the things from the past, maybe the way he thought Hoseok sometimes looked at him was just Yoongi’s optimism fighting through all his pessimism.

“Oh. Well, okay. I mean I know you’re close with him and all. I wouldn’t care if you were with him, of course, but I would be kind of worried, just for your safety and his. But I guess if you aren’t then it’s fine, whatever. Anyway. I mean. Hoseok is good looking. But. Uh,” Taehyung stopped rambling abruptly and nodded. “I’ll catch up with Namjoon,” he finished.

Yoongi watched him scurry ahead and then averted his gaze. Hoseok had met Taehyung and Namjoon, but they weren’t close, not in the way Yoongi and Hoseok were. Still, they hung around to see the way Yoongi and Hoseok interacted. To see the way Yoongi looked at Hoseok. They could, Yoongi knew, see the way Hoseok influenced his work. There was always something undeniably better about the works that centered around Hoseok. Even the small sketches, even if they were just of Hoseok’s hand or his side profile, or some other part of him. Those works conveyed a passion that Yoongi’s other works lacked at times.

Even Hoseok saw it.

“Am I your muse?”  Hoseok asked once.

Yoongi looked up from the painting he was working on to meet Hoseok’s eyes. They were alone at the studio, late at night, and Hoseok was surely meant to be somewhere else, but he was there.

“Perhaps,” Yoongi admitted.

“Really?”

“Yes, I mean, I haven’t put a name to it, but I guess you could say that you’re my muse,” Yoongi said casually, despite the fact that his heart was pounding loud in his chest.

“I’d like that,” Hoseok agreed cheerily. “I like that I inspire you.”

It was a complication in their friendship because it made them just slightly more than friends but less than anything more. Normally, an artist’s muse was someone they shared an intimate relationship with. And sure, Yoongi and Hoseok’s relationship was intimate in some ways, but lacking in others. Lacking in the sense that Yoongi could hug Hoseok, hold him close, but he couldn’t let his heart soar at the feeling. He couldn’t say the things he really wanted to say. Hoseok was his best friend, he was wealthy, Yoongi was not, and soon, being that Hoseok was young and handsome, he would be married off to some girl from another wealthy family.

That was the way of the world.

So, Yoongi trudged along the road behind his friends until they reached the gates of the Kim’s palace and were allowed inside. Yoongi was fairly used to the lavishness of everything, but he smiled at Taehyung as he gaped and ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’. The boy’s eyes were big and he brushed his shaggy brown hair out of his eyes. They were all dressed in the best clothes they could scrounge up, but Taehyung undeniably looked the best in his darker, less flimsy shirt and pants that actually fit properly. It was because Taehyung came from a more well-off family, whereas Namjoon and Yoongi were the outcasts. Taehyung had chosen to pursue art, while Namjoon and Yoongi took it up as a way to save themselves.

“Wow, I wished I lived here. Do you think they’ll adopt me? Or maybe I can pretend to be their long lost relative, we do have the same name,” Taehyung was saying as they approached the main entrance.

“Don’t be strange,” Namjoon warned and raised his arm to knock, but the door flung open before he could.

“Hello!” the man there exclaimed. That man being Kim Seokjin. Yoongi recognized him instantly, it was impossible not to. “I was waiting by the window,” he continued. “Come on in!”

Namjoon entered first, Taehyung last and Yoongi took in the entryway. It was all high ceilings and flawless architecture and all kinds of artwork covered the walls. A big chandelier hung from the ceiling and Yoongi was fairly certain that if it fell down on top of someone, they would be killed by something worth more than their entire existence.  

“I wish I could tell you who made that,” Kim Seokjin said to Yoongi, gesturing up at the fixture, “But my father’s father bought it and I don’t even know from whom. I’m not well-versed with art or anything like that, but I had heard of a certain Kim Namjoon that could paint anything precisely as he saw it.”

“I’ll certainly do my best,” Namjoon spoke up and Seokjin turned to him and smiled. He was, Yoongi thought, friendlier than he expected him to be. Seokjin, and all of the Kim’s, tended to give off a haughty, we’re-better-than-you vibe. However, Kim Seokjin was as welcoming as ever.

“Follow me, I figured we could do the painting in the main sitting room, it’s not too stuffy in there and there’s a wall that would make for a good background, I think,” Seokjin said and ushered them farther into the house. Yoongi kept up, while Taehyung continued to trail behind them and take in everything. “I’ve seen you before,” Seokjin said to Yoongi while they walked. “Min Yoongi, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Yoongi answered.

“The Jung’s speak fondly of you. For a while there I thought they’d adopted you,” Seokjin said with a small smile. “I wouldn’t say that Hoseok and I are super close, but you’re lucky to have him as a friend, he’s a good one. Many people…aren’t.”

Yoongi didn’t really know how to respond to something like that, so he just nodded and followed Seokjin the rest of the way into his sitting room. The space was wide and open and there were a couple of couches, as well as chairs that probably felt like sitting on a cloud. Seokjin started to explain to Namjoon what he had in mind for the portrait, while Taehyung wandered over to a table with little crystal figurines and other knick-knacks on it.

“You probably could have had a life like this, or at least one close,” Yoongi said to Taehyung. “But you chose to come work with us, god knows why.”

“Because I love art, that’s why. I like being with you and Namjoon,” Taehyung said. “I wouldn’t trade our adventures for…this. Even if this is amazing.”

Something made Yoongi’s heart twist. Maybe it was the fact that, if given some choice in the matter, he would trade the life he had for something better. He wouldn’t even think twice about it. If he could start over, he would trade away the paintbrushes and canvases for a grand palace and parents who paid to have his portrait done and clothes that weren’t nearly rags. He’d trade it all away if it even meant there was a slight chance that he could somehow be closer to Hoseok, or at least farther away from grimy taverns and dusty streets.

“Although, I guess it is unfortunate that we probably won’t even be known until we’re all dead,” Taehyung muttered and then walked over to help Namjoon set up.

Yoongi stood back and watched. He watched as Seokjin pulled a chair into position, surprising, considering most would have one of their servants or something do it, and then settle himself into the chair and throw his broad shoulders back. His dark, nearly black, hair was swept to the side and he was dressed as someone of his class should be. He looked good and he probably knew it.

Namjoon finished setting up his easel and propped the big canvas up on it while Taehyung organized his charcoal and paints. Meanwhile, Yoongi ventured over to the window near where they were set up, and he drew back the curtains, letting in the sunlight.

“Oh! That lighting looks much better,” Namjoon complimented and then began to direct Seokjin on where to place his hands and explain to him that they would probably just get the initial sketch down that day.

Yoongi, on the other hand, continued to stand there at the window and look out at the expanse of land that the Kim’s owned. It seemed endless. All sprawling green grass and tall trees and twisted up to the sky. And the sun, beating its summer heat down on all of it. Yoongi placed his hand on the window, desperate for its warmth.

~~~

Age Fourteen

Laying the grass was different from lying on a dirt floor. It was softer, warmer, and less pathetic. Especially considering the fact that Yoongi wasn’t alone.

Hoseok was inches away from him, eyes closed and lips parted. Yoongi rolled over onto his stomach and reached out across the grass for his sketchbook. It wasn’t the best quality thing, but it got the job done and the charcoal and pencils only smudged a tiny bit.

He flipped to a blank page and began to draw. Hoseok’s boyish face began to form on the paper and blades of grass surrounded him. The sharp line of his nose pointed up at the sky and his dark hair fell off his forehead in a halo around his face.

“You’re drawing me again, aren’t you?” Hoseok asked softly without opening his eyes.

“Maybe,” Yoongi admitted slyly and continued with what he was doing. Sweat was starting to dampen the back of his neck and the front of Hoseok’s shirt as it was the peak of summer and they were in no position to be laying out directly under the sun. Yoongi knew he was going to be pink for days, while Hoseok would get darker.

Both of them were still in awkward phases of growing up, but Hoseok looked older, he looked like he becoming someone important, someone who would continue on his family name like he was meant to. He’d outgrown Yoongi, much to Yoongi’s dismay, but he was still goofy and funny and he still let Yoongi come over to his home, even if Yoongi wasn’t of the same class.

Of course, he could have been, had his father not disowned him and his mother not abandoned him. But they did, and so he was who he was.

“I showed my mother the last drawing you did, she said it was amazing. You should already be getting commissions,” Hoseok said. Yoongi glanced back over at him just as Hoseok’s eyes fluttered opened and he shielded them from the sun.

“Actually, I have gotten one,” Yoongi confessed. “From the Park’s. But, I don’t know if I’ll take it yet.”

“The Park’s! Jiminie, their son, he’s my friend.”

“I know that, I don’t like him,” Yoongi muttered and shaded the area on the drawing around Hoseok’s cheeks. “He doesn’t like me, either. I ran into him on the streets at the market a few weeks ago and he tripped me.”

Hoseok sat up and frowned. “He wouldn’t do that.”

“Well, he did.”

“I’ll talk to him.”

“No, I’m not helpless, I can handle it myself if I had to,” Yoongi said firmly without looking at Hoseok. He pretended to be engrossed with the blades of grass in his drawing.

“Jiminie can be harsh sometimes, but he’s nice. You should take the commission, Yoongs,” Hoseok said softly.

“Don’t call me that,” Yoongi mumbled. Hoseok sighed and reached out for Yoongi’s sketchbook.

“Lemme see,” Hoseok requested. “I wanna see.”

“No, I’m not done!” Yoongi said and tried to jerk the book away, but Hoseok wrestled him for it, their hands scrabbling and their legs kicking, until Hoseok managed to pin Yoongi under him and snatch up the sketchbook while he sat back on Yoongi’s thighs.

The fight dissolved from Yoongi’s body and he just laid there in the grass, limp, and stared up at Hoseok as he flipped through the book. A smile tugged at the corners of Hoseok’s lips, and therefore Yoongi’s, too.

“You draw figures really well,” Hoseok commented. “Also, some of these are different than anything else I’ve ever seen. I don’t know much about art, but you have a style like…nothing else.”

“Thank you,” Yoongi murmured and reached out to brush his hand against Hoseok’s leg. The other boy didn’t seem to notice and he continued to look through the book, still pinning Yoongi to the ground, until a shadow passed over them.

Yoongi tore his gaze away from Hoseok and looked over to their left to see Hoseok’s sister standing over them, her arms crossed over her chest and the beads woven in her hair shining in the sun.

“Hoseok,” she said sternly. “Mother says it’s time to come inside.”

Hoseok jumped, obviously unaware that his sister had been there, and dropped Yoongi’s sketchbook on Yoongi’s chest with a thud. “Oh,” Hoseok said and got off Yoongi and stood up. He offered his hand for Yoongi, who took it and stood, too. “Can Yoongi stay for dinner, we have plenty?”

“You’ll have to ask Mother,” Hoseok’s sister said. She gave Yoongi a look that he couldn’t quite decipher. She, Dawon, was older than both Hoseok and Yoongi were, and she never really hung around them long enough for Yoongi to get to know her. The only thing he knew was that she was protective of her younger brother, that much was clear.

“I will ask her,” Hoseok said. “Why are you all dressed up? Are you going somewhere?”

“I have a suitor coming,” Dawon said, “So, Yoongi, you probably will not be able to stay this afternoon.”

“A suitor? Aren’t you young for that?” Yoongi asked. “I mean, shit, you can’t be that much older than me.”

Dawon’s expression didn’t waver when Yoongi cursed, she just nodded shortly and said nothing more on the subject. As they trampled back through the grass, Hoseok grabbed Yoongi’s arm and leaned in close, his breath unbearably hot against Yoongi’s neck.

“Dawon is angry about the suitors, she doesn’t want to marry,” Hoseok whispered.

“Will you have to do that, too?” Yoongi asked.

“Probably, one day,” Hoseok said with a shrug. Then his grip relaxed and he bounded ahead of them. Dawon met Yoongi’s eyes for a moment and then looked away, her dark hair falling over her face and her mouth set in a hard line.

Yoongi looked back at Hoseok, and felt something different in his stomach. Something fluttery and unfamiliar.

There was sadness there, too, and Yoongi recognized that all too well. The idea of Hoseok getting married off to someone, one day, made Yoongi sad.

It shouldn’t have, it shouldn’t have made a difference, but it did.

~~~

After Namjoon’s painting session with Kim Seokjin, it was late, so the three of them went to the tavern for drinks. Taehyung chatted up Jungkook while Namjoon started some kind of drinking game with some other men in the back. Yoongi sat next to Taehyung, without any alcohol, and worked on his preliminary sketch for the sculpture he’d been commissioned to do.

It was meant to be sculpture of a human form, specifically a male, and the Park’s had requested that it not have a head, which was fine, because Yoongi hated having to sculpt faces on a figure. However, he couldn’t get the sketch right and he really just wanted to get sculpting, but every time he stood in front of the big block, his mind went blank.

The Park’s were meticulous, and while Yoongi didn’t have a problem with the elder Park’s, he wasn’t a very big fan of their son, and so he wanted to make sure Park Jimin wouldn’t have anything to scrutinize.

“Is that your next sculpture?” Jungkook asked, a slight slur to his words.

“Yes, but I haven’t started on it yet. I need to. I want it to be at least halfway done before the ball, but…that’s so soon,” Yoongi said in frustration.

“You can’t think here…you’ve gotta go to the studio if you wanna get anything done,” Taehyung slurred. “No one will be there right now.”

“Why? Do you want me to leave or something?” Yoongi asked, looking between Taehyung and Jungkook. They were both drunk, but Namjoon wasn’t, at least not as much as they were, and Namjoon always looked out for Taehyung. They would, in theory, be fine if Yoongi left to go work.

“Well, you’re kinda bein’ a buzzkill, sittin’ there all mopey,” Taehyung explained and bumped his shoulder against Yoongi’s.

Yoongi sighed and pushed back his stool. “Don’t give him too much to drink,” he told Jungkook, who nodded quickly.

Giving them one last stern glare, Yoongi left the tavern and started towards the studio. The nights in the summer were slightly cooler, but not by much. The tavern had been stuffy, and Yoongi shook his shirt out, trying to make himself feel less damp with sweat.

It didn’t help much, but somehow, the studio was cool and he lit a few lanterns before walking over to the slab of rock which he needed to start chipping away. Sculpture wasn’t Yoongi’s favorite, but he was good at it, and so, if the Park’s were going to pay him a large sum of money for it, he would do it.

However, as soon as Yoongi sat down in front of the slab again, his mind went blank and he didn’t have the slightest idea where to start. Maybe it was because he wasn’t sculpting a specific person. In the past, that had been what he’d done. But now it was vague and he didn’t have a model. It was dangerous to go out and purposefully seek a male to model for him, because people talked. Besides, it would be better if there wasn’t a specific person who the sculpture looked like.

Only, Yoongi knew his sketches looked like someone. Or at least, he was imagining they looked like someone.

“Fuck,” Yoongi muttered to himself.

He didn’t know how long he stayed there, but morning came around and people came and went, other artists, models, people selling and delivering paint, and Yoongi stayed. He had a case of artists block and he knew it. Maybe it was because he was worried about things he had no business being worried about.

He was worried about Taehyung and his future.

He was worried about Namjoon since he was painting one of the most powerful young men around.

He was worried about Hoseok, because he was probably going to be married off soon.

He was worried about the masquerade ball.

He was worried, worried, worried.

Eventually, Yoongi had to go back to his loft to bathe and eat, and somehow several days passed before he went back to the studio to work.

Namjoon was there, working on some small details of his painting of Seokjin. It was starting to come together, at least the first layer was.

“Have you been going to paint him every day?” Yoongi asked.

“Mhmm,” Namjoon answered. “He’s actually good company, surprisingly. I’ve gone a few times without Taehyung and let the kid have some time off. He works too hard.”

“He really doesn’t,” Yoongi replied with a smile. “But his work is good, I’ve sneaked looks at his stuff.”

“Yes,” Namjoon agreed, lost in concentration. “I see you still haven’t gotten any done on your sculpture. Are you going to tonight? I’m about to leave.”

Yoongi sighed and nodded. “Yeah, I’ll start tonight.” I hope.

Namjoon didn’t say anything else, and Yoongi didn’t even hear him leave. It was just, all of a sudden, he was alone in the lantern light with a big slab of rock and a chisel that he didn’t know what to do with.

Just fucking start, he said to himself. It’ll come to you.

So he did. He chipped away a corner and eventually he had a neck chipped away, but his face and hands were covered in dust and he coughed and choked as he stepped away from the block. At least it was beginning to look like something.

“Wow, what’s that going to be?”

Yoongi turned abruptly to see Hoseok standing in the doorway of the dark studio, framed by moonlight. He was wearing some kind of cape thing, a dark purple fabric that looked like something soft and worthy of being wrapped in. It had been several days since Yoongi had last seen Hoseok, and he smiled.

“I don’t know,” Yoongi muttered as Hoseok approached him. “I’m having trouble getting it all right.”

Hoseok smiled down at Yoongi and ruffled his dark hair, a cloud of dust falling in front of Yoongi’s face from the movement. “You look like a ghost.”

“Thanks,” Yoongi said with a chuckle. “What’re you doing here?”

“Missed my favorite artist,” Hoseok said with a smirk. “And friend.”

“Did you sneak out again?”

“My parents don’t mind me coming to see you.”

“Your sister does, she’s always hated me,” Yoongi muttered and set his chisel down.

“She doesn’t hate you, she just doesn’t like sharing me. That, and she’s protective. She’s just gotten more grumpy since she got married,” Hoseok said and touched the edge of one of Yoongi’s sketches for the sculpture. “Is this anyone in particular?”

“No,” Yoongi answered, opting not to talk about Dawon any further. It was a touchy subject. Since getting married, Dawon hadn’t moved out of the Jung’s estate to be with her husband, and it caused a lot of discourse in the family. Not to mention the things people said on the streets. “I don’t have a model, they just wanted a sculpture. You should ask Park why his family wants a headless naked man in their garden.”

Hoseok laughed brightly. “Everyone has them, it’s not weird,” he pointed out. “We have one in our garden, except it’s just the torso. This one is the whole…you know?”

Yoongi nodded and pursed his lips. “I feel as if something is off about it,” he said to Hoseok, who circled the barely-there form emerging from the rock. Then, their eyes met over the slab and Hoseok shrugged off his cape and tossed it over an easel.

“Need someone to go off of? I’ll do it,” Hoseok offered.

“It won’t be much help,” Yoongi said casually as he picked up his chisel again. “You’re dressed, the sculpture isn’t.”

And it wasn’t meant to be a suggestion. He didn’t want Hoseok to take his clothes off, nor did he expect him to.

“Well, I know that, but I can take my clothes off,” Hoseok said. “It’s not a big deal. You’ve painted and drawn me plenty of times before.”

“Hoseok. You don’t have to…do that. Really, wouldn’t you be uncomfortable?”

Hoseok cocked his head to the side and fingered the top button of his white shirt. “No, I’ve known you for years, you’re my closest friend. No one is here, it’s fine.”

Yoongi gaped at Hoseok. There was no way he was serious, except, he must have been, because he was slowly unbuttoning his shirt. “Look, you really don’t need to,” Yoongi croaked.

“Well I know you’ve been working on this thing for ages,” Hoseok said as he pulled his belt out of the loops. Oh fuck. Fuck, he was going to really get naked. “You need to finish it, Yoongs.”

Yoongi gritted his teeth together and shrugged. “Okay, but I would like it to be on record that you volunteered for this.”

Hoseok just chuckled and continued to undress. And Yoongi tried to avert his eyes, but he couldn’t. Not to mention the fact that Hoseok was looking right back at him, watching Yoongi watch Hoseok. The air in the room was heavy and full of dust and Yoongi felt like he couldn’t breathe as Hoseok’s toned chest and abdomen were exposed. His arms flexed when he shrugged the shirt off his shoulders and tossed it next to the purple cape.

“So, you are coming to the ball, right?” Hoseok asked nonchalantly as he undid the clasp on his pants. Yoongi’s eyes darted up from his crotch to his eyes and Hoseok’s face looked so dark, so intense that Yoongi felt his breath catch in his throat.

“I guess,” he managed to say.

“Good,” Hoseok said lowly.

“You really don’t have to take your—” Hoseok cut Yoongi off by pushing his pants down, along with anything he’d had on underneath. They needed more of a shove around the thighs and then they were around his ankles and he stepped out of them and kicked them off to the side, his shoes coming off in the same motion.

Yoongi stared absently at the discarded items of clothing, because that was easier than looking at Hoseok.

Jung Hoseok, who Yoongi was undeniably in love with, attracted to, and also his closest friend. He could only imagine the scandal if someone walked in on them. But, Hoseok never cared about what people thought or said. He did what he wanted. And, it seemed, he wanted to be naked, in that moment.

“You have to look at me if this is going to make any difference,” Hoseok said. “Yoongs.”

Yoongi rolled his eyes at the nickname, but finally looked over and met Hoseok’s eyes again. “Fine. You’re insane, just so you know.”

“I know.”

Yoongi licked his bottom lip and then stood behind the slab of rock so he could somewhat block out Hoseok from view. However, Hoseok seemed to want him dead, because he moved to the side so Yoongi could see him fully again. Involuntarily, Yoongi looked up and his eyes darted up and down Hoseok’ entire frame.

Fuck.

Hoseok’s legs were long and slender, but also toned in a way Yoongi’s weren’t. His body was somehow evenly tanned, and he looked every bit the man people thought him to be. When Hoseok turned around to look for something to sit on, Yoongi got a full view of his ass and he bit down so hard on his lip that he was sure it would bruise.

Yoongi quickly looked away before Hoseok turned back around and he began to chip away at the slab. He managed to get the shoulders out, but he wasn’t really looking at Hoseok. Still, he knew he was there and he knew he wasn’t wearing clothes, and the image was burned into his brain.

“I’m going to sketch out…some other parts,” Yoongi murmured and picked up a blank piece of paper and his charcoal.

“Okay,” Hoseok said and out of the corner or Yoongi’s eyes, he could see Hoseok standing up from where he’d perched himself. “It’s looking good so far. Is it going to be weird to sculpt, like, a cock?”

Yoongi choked on nothing and glared at the back of Hoseok’s head. “Did your mother not teach you manners? Well, I guess not considering you’re standing there without clothes on.”

Hoseok didn’t answer for a long time while Yoongi added details to the legs on his sketch. He could hear Hoseok moving around behind him, and, after a moment, he spoke again. “Do you need me hard?”

“What?” Yoongi turned, sure he’d heard him wrong.

“I guess not, huh? You aren’t that far along with the actual thing.”

“Did you just ask me what I think you asked me?”

“What do you think I asked you?” Yoongi glared and Hoseok laughed. “I don’t know how this works. If you wanted me to, I’d do it.”

“That’s not how it works,” Yoongi said softly. “You don’t need to do that.” His eyes flickered down between Hoseok’s legs and then back up to his face again. Both options were terrible because Hoseok’s face was still too damn perfect.

“Well, if the sculpture is meant to look like me, I’ll be offended if you make my dick small.”

“Your dick isn’t small, so why would I do that?” Yoongi muttered.

The corner of Hoseok’s lips turned up. “You looked?”

“You fucking saw me look, Jung Hoseok. Stop being…like this,” Yoongi snapped and turned away to gather up his papers. He was certain he needed to be done for the night.

“Stop being like what?” Hoseok asked, and when Yoongi turned around to tell him to get dressed and leave, Hoseok was right in his face and Yoongi backed up into the table behind him. The feeling of Hoseok so close was overwhelming.

“’Seok, get out of my face,” Yoongi said, but his voice wavered and it didn’t sound all that convincing.

The expression that next appeared on Hoseok’s face was less confident and more tender, affectionate. “You’re something else, Yoongi,” Hoseok said softly. His hand came out and brushed lightly against Yoongi’s cheek. It was so soft, the gesture, but god, Yoongi wanted Hoseok to push him down onto the table. He wanted Hoseok to kiss him and tug his clothes off and hold his hands over his head while he fucked him senseless.

Yoongi was maybe not breathing and his dick maybe twitched in his pants and if he looked down, he wondered if Hoseok was hard, but he didn’t look down. Instead, he turned his head to the side and Hoseok’s hand dropped and the atmosphere in the room got less heavy and more uncomfortable.

“Yoongi, I—”

Hoseok didn’t get to finish his thought, because voices sounded throughout the space from outside.

“No, I said I forgot my best paintbrush, not my lucky paintbrush,” Namjoon’s voice said.

“Fuck, hide,” Yoongi hissed and scooped up Hoseok’s clothes and shoved them into the younger’s arms. Then, he pointed to a large canvas leaning against the wall, which Hoseok squeezed behind.

“Everyone has a lucky paintbrush,” Yoongi heard Taehyung say. “Even Yoongi does.”

“I don’t believe in that kind of thing,” Namjoon muttered in response moments before they came into the studio. Yoongi quickly gathered up his sketches and then covered the sculpture with a sheet. “Oh, you’re still here?” Namjoon asked when he spotted Yoongi.

“Yes. I was just about to leave, though.”

“It’s late, you should get some rest,” Namjoon agreed as he knelt down and started looking for what Yoongi assumed was his paintbrush.

“I’ll walk out with you,” Yoongi said.

While Namjoon crawled around on the floor, Taehyung stood in the doorway impatiently. Yoongi prayed that Hoseok wouldn’t make any noise, and, thankfully, he didn’t. Namjoon stood up with his brush in hand and the three of them left. Yoongi turned back once, but Hoseok was still behind the canvas. He would surely get dressed and leave as soon as they were gone, but Yoongi felt bad for leaving him here. And…what if Namjoon and Taehyung hadn’t shown up? What had Hoseok been doing?

Yoongi was so distracted and in his own head that he didn’t even hear Namjoon say goodnight as he entered the tavern, which was already closed at the late, late hour. He rushed up to his loft and when he got there, he nearly bumped into several walls on his way to the bedroom.

With shaking hands, he managed to light two little candles in the room for light and then, exhausted, he fell back on the bed. The ceiling was a swirling dark mass and when Yoongi closed his eyes, he could still see Hoseok. Only, instead of the usual images of his friend, smiling and laughing, this new image was dark and Hoseok was smirking down at him.

“’Seok,” Yoongi whispered in the darkness. One hand curled into the sheets and the other slipped under the loose band of his pants, and then pushed them down to his thighs. He couldn’t get it, Hoseok, out of his head. Normally, it wouldn’t have mattered, because he never could get Jung Hoseok out of his head, he was always there, lingering in his subconscious. Only now, it was worse. Everything about Hoseok plagued him.

Hoseok’s eyes flashed behind Yoongi’s own eyelids, a little bit dark and every bit intense. The way his tan skin looked in the dim light of the studio and the way he looked over at Yoongi as he unbuttoned his shirt and shrugged it off his shoulders. All the planes and angles and muscle across Hoseok’s abdomen and the way his body was lean and built in a specific way.

Yoongi imagined Hoseok hovering over him, his mouth hot against Yoongi’s neck and his weight settled between Yoongi’s legs. Yoongi’s own fingers curled around himself and he sighed and arched his back off the bed. In his mind, it was Hoseok with a hold on him, and Hoseok kissing across his body and opening him up.

He didn’t even have to imagine the way Hoseok would look. He could see it clearly. He could see the muscles in Hoseok’s thighs and arms, and his length between his legs and the curve of his ass. Yoongi’s hand moved faster and he moaned in the darkness. The thoughts changed to Yoongi between Hoseok’s legs, Hoseok’s hand tight in his hair and Yoongi’s mouth around Hoseok’s cock, stretching his lips and hitting the back of his throat. He imagined the way Hoseok would look with his head thrown back as Yoongi looked up at him through his eyelashes.

And, fuck, he wanted Hoseok to come down his throat, he wanted him to turn him over and fuck him hard and then slow, and whisper in his ear and say things…Yoongi didn’t even know what things, he just wanted to hear Hoseok’s voice.

He wanted Hoseok everywhere, all over, inside and out, and when Yoongi bucked his hips up into his own hand, he came with a low whine, his release spilling over his hand and onto his already dirty, dust covered clothes.

Ragged breathing filled the dark room and Yoongi peeled his eyes open as he came back to reality. Reality was messy and tiring.

He kicked off his pants the rest of the way and then stared at the candles on the desk. In the midst of him watching them, the slightly taller one went out, causing the room to get darker and Yoongi’s heart to beat faster.

*

“Your friend seems distracted,” Kim Seokjin said to Namjoon, but Yoongi heard him clearly enough.

“He gets like that,” Namjoon muttered and added swipes of purple across the canvas to accentuate the fabric draping over Seokjin’s shoulders. “He’s working on a piece for the Park’s, and he’s almost done with it, but he’s very self-critical.”

“I can hear you,” Yoongi snapped as he continued to mix paint for Namjoon. Taehyung was elsewhere, they hadn’t been able to find him that morning, so Yoongi offered to come with Namjoon and help him with color and whatever else that day.

“Well, good. You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself,” Namjoon said.

“I agree. I’ve seen some of your work, as well, it’s good,” Seokjin said. “You do a lot of work for the Park’s, don’t you?”

“Unfortunately,” Yoongi muttered and handed Namjoon the palette with the freshly mixed paint. “Park Jimin and I never have gotten along, but his parents seem to like my work.”

“Park Jimin can be difficult, I agree,” Seokjin said with a small smile. “I never did understand why he and Jung Hoseok were so close, but over the years I’ve come to see a better side to Park Jimin. He isn’t all bad. Although, he has been bragging profusely about his mask for the masquerade ball coming up.” Seokjin rolled his eyes and Yoongi smiled appreciatively.

“Hoseok keeps bugging me about it,” Yoongi said. “I feel as if I won’t fit in at all, but he really wants me to come this year.”

“Oh! You should go, it’s a fun event, and you’ll be wearing a mask, surely, so no one will even recognize you, really,” Seokjin urged, leaning forward in his chair. Then, he glanced over at Namjoon. “You could come too, of course.”

“Oh, no, that’s okay,” Namjoon said with a shake of his head. Yoongi looked between Namjoon, who was concentrating on the painting, and Seokjin, who was looking at Namjoon with great intent. Namjoon had been coming to see Seokjin alone in his sessions on most occasions, and Yoongi wondered if the two of them had bonded in a way that they shouldn’t have.

“It would be rude not to invite you! Everyone thinks I’m terrible and only care about myself, which isn’t true at all. I mean, yes, my face is incredibly handsome,” Seokjin said and Namjoon chuckled slightly, “but, the two of you, and your other friend, should all come. The Jung’s won’t mind. Besides, I have precedence to invite you.”

Namjoon glanced up at Yoongi and then set down his paint brush. “I would have nothing appropriate to wear.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Seokjin said firmly. “If that were not an issue, would you come?”

A low hum sounded from Namjoon’s throat and he shrugged. “I mean…I guess.”

Seokjin clapped his hands together brightly. “Great! It’s settled then!”

Namjoon said nothing, but Yoongi caught the small smile playing across his lips. At the same time, Yoongi came to realize that he didn’t have anything that he could wear to the ball, either. The sinking feeling in his gut got worse, and he didn’t even notice Namjoon excuse himself to go wash up from the paint that was all over his arms. Not, that is, until Seokjin touched his shoulder and Yoongi jerked up to look at the older man.

“You’ve been a friend of the Jung’s for a long time, correct?”

“Yes, Hoseok and I are close. I…haven’t seen him in a few days, though. I’m sure he’s busy. His parents are trying to find him a suitable match and whatnot. He isn’t happy about it. I guess he and his sister are similar in that—” Yoongi cut off with wide eyes and felt himself blush. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have mentioned Dawon.”

Seokjin shrugged and looked out the window. “It is what it is,” he said solemnly. “Can I ask you something about Namjoon?” Yoongi nodded. “He seems unhappy, why?”

“He’s just thoughtful, always has been. He says I’m hard on myself, but he is, too. He isn’t unhappy to be painting you, don’t worry about that. Taehyung theorizes that all artists are a little bit unhappy,” Yoongi explained.

Seokjin sighed and gave Yoongi a small smile. “Hoseok, does he make you happy?” Yoongi blinked nervously and looked down at his hands. “I only ask because I have seen the art you’ve done of him, in the Jung’s home. It has a certain brightness to it. I believe, if someone makes you that happy, then it should not matter what anyone else thinks.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Yoongi said abruptly, his voice carrying more malice than he meant it to.

“I know we don’t know each other all that well,” Seokjin said, “but I’ve always prided myself on my ability to read people. I’m not asking you to confess anything, of course, but…I understand how you feel, in some respects.” When Seokjin patted Yoongi on the shoulder, he nearly flinched away, but didn’t. “Also, I will be sending something for you to wear to the ball as well, don’t look at me like that, it’s fine. There’s too much money lying around in this place. Besides, we don’t want Park Jimin to be the best looking one there.”

“Why’re you being so nice to me, now? I’ve seen you before and…” Yoongi shrugged one shoulder helplessly. “I don’t need your pity, you know.”

“It isn’t pity,” Seokjin said as Namjoon returned to the room. He looked between them curiously, but said nothing. Because of his return, Seokjin stopped talking and Yoongi resumed helping.

He really wasn’t looking forward to the ball all that much. The last time he’d attended such an event, besides Hoseok’s birthdays, it had been pretty much miserable. Since then, he hadn’t gone to any balls or anything else like that, even though Hoseok always asked him to come. “I want you to be there! Please!”

But things would be changing soon, Yoongi could feel it in the way Hoseok was more distant and not around as much. They weren’t children anymore. So, it could be the last time Hoseok ever asked him to come to their annual masquerade ball. Yoongi would be an idiot to miss out.

~~~

Age Sixteen

“Why are you sulking over here?” Hoseok asked in a low whisper.

“Because, I don’t want to be here and Jimin was being an ass,” Yoongi hissed back.

Music played cheerily in the ballroom and couples danced in the middle of the floor. Various drinks were being passed around as well as food, and normally, Yoongi would eagerly scoop it all up, but he wasn’t feeling very hungry. The whole event made his stomach churn, especially when Hoseok left him with Jimin to go talk to some girl or another.

Not even that long ago, it had been Hoseok’s sixteenth birthday and they were in the fragile time period when they were both the same age, both sixteen. They both seemed a lot older than their age, Yoongi thought, but in different respects. Hoseok was older in the sense that he knew how to work a crowd, whereas Yoongi was weathered and worn, even though he wasn’t yet seventeen.

“Aish, Jimin is the worst, I’m going to punch him,” Hoseok said and stood on his tip toes to look around the room. “He’s so small I can’t even see him.”

“Small, but deadly,” Yoongi muttered and Hoseok sputtered with laughter. His head fell against Yoongi’s shoulder, but it was the briefest of gestures and before Yoongi could react, he was standing up straight again.

They looked so different, Hoseok dressed in his expensive outfits and Yoongi in his simple clothes that had been worn time after time. At the same time, though, they always seemed to be by each other’s sides, as if that were where they belonged. It wasn’t like there was an exact moment that Yoongi knew, it just sort of dawned on him over time.

His feelings towards Jung Hoseok were greater than just friendship.

Greater than just attraction, too.

Not that he could ever act on any of it, and he was sure he only imagined the way Hoseok clung to him and held his gaze a little bit longer than necessary.

“You want to dance?” Hoseok suggested, then.

“Oh. No,” Yoongi shook his head as Hoseok shimmied his hips from side to side.

“Please! You’ll have fun!”

“Hobi, I can’t dance,” Yoongi said lowly.

“Anyone can dance, Yoongs,” Hoseok retorted and grabbed Yoongi’s hand. Their fingers interwove almost instantly. The music seemed to die down and the chatter too, so that Yoongi and Hoseok were the only two people there.

“Not me. I can’t,” Yoongi said softly. “I can do other things, you’d be amazed by my throwing skills, but not dancing. I’m also a genius, did you know?”

Hoseok laughed again and squeezed Yoongi’s hands. “I believe that, that you’re a genius. You always teach me new things.”

“Well, maybe you can teach me to dance, but not here, not right now.”

“I will! You’ll be an amazing dancer in no time, just you—” Hoseok was cut off by Jimin, who wrenched their hands apart and stood between them. Yoongi took a step back, confused by the sudden change.

“Your mother told me to come get you,” Jimin said to Hoseok. “Your sister is asking to see you.”

“She hasn’t come down yet?” Hoseok asked nervously. Jimin shook his head. “Has he come down?”

“Yes, he’s over by the musicians,” Jimin pointed and the three of them strained their necks to peer through the crowd. “He’s acting normal, but you can tell everyone wants to know where your sister is. She just got married and she’s hiding up in her rooms. Even I know that doesn’t look good,” Jimin continued. “You should go talk to her.”

“Yeah, okay, you’re right,” Hoseok nodded and reached back towards Yoongi. “You both come with me.”

Yoongi followed behind Jimin and Hoseok robotically. No one paid the three boys much mind as they slipped out of the ballroom and continued on down the hallways through the Jung’s home. The ceremony had been held elsewhere, but as soon as it was over, Hoseok said that Dawon had refused to have a reception if it was anywhere but at their home.

“Is she upset about the wedding?” Yoongi asked.

“She didn’t want to get married,” Hoseok said back to him. “Even though…he’s nice. I think he’s nice. But I guess nice doesn’t really matter when you don’t want to be married at all.”

“This is just going to make your parents put more pressure on you,” Jimin deadpanned.

“Shut up, Jiminie,” Hoseok snapped and the younger boy did, surprisingly.

Eventually, after making it up the grand staircase, they arrived at the door to Dawon’s chambers. Hoseok knocked and then slipped inside, leaving Yoongi and Jimin outside the barely-open door. Yoongi leaned against the wall while Jimin avoided his gaze.

“You know that one day he’s going to leave you behind, right?” Jimin asked.

Yoongi scuffed the tile floor with shoe and nodded. “Yes, I know.”

Jimin seemed taken aback by the honest answer. Yoongi almost didn’t hear him when he spoke next, “It’s unfair, I know, but that’s just how the world is.”

Before Yoongi could answer, they both heard a loud bang from in the room, accompanied by Dawon’s sobs. “I’m not going out there!” she shouted. “They can make me get married, but they can’t make me go celebrate it.”

“He’s perfectly nice Dawon,” Hoseok said in response, his voice soothing. “He isn’t as full of himself as everyone made him out to be! Why are you so upset?”

“Because, it’s my life! I should have been able to make the decision myself!” Dawon yelled back. And then, after several long moments of silence, she spoke again, only softer, and both Yoongi and Jimin had to lean in to hear. “Hobi, listen to me,” Dawon said. “Don’t let them force you to do anything. And I don’t mean mother and father, I mean anyone. Always follow your own heart, okay? Promise me.”

“I promise,” Hoseok answered hesitantly.

“I love you, okay? You’ll always be my favorite little brother.”

“I’m your only little brother, get off me,” Hoseok said. “I’ll tell mother you feel sick, just stop crying.”

Jimin pulled Yoongi away from the door as Hoseok exited and shut it behind him. For a spilt second, he looked shaken up, but his face morphed back into a smile as he slung his arms around Jimin and Yoongi. “Everything is fine,” he told them. “Let’s go back to the party.”

Once they were back in the ballroom, Jimin dragged Hoseok off somewhere and Yoongi was left alone again. He munched on snacks and listened to the music and watched Hoseok dance until people began to leave. Before Yoongi could slip out, though, Hoseok intercepted him one last time and tugged Yoongi’s arm until they were in an empty hallway.

“Sorry for leaving you by yourself,” Hoseok whispered as he leaned back against the wall and let Yoongi settle in front of him.

“It’s okay. I just mooched off snacks,” Yoongi said with a shrug. His hand reached up and he brushed a strand of Hoseok’s hair off his forehead and grinned big, because he knew Hoseok liked when he smiled all gummy. “Everything will be okay, you know? With your sister and…everyone else.”

“I hope so,” Hoseok breathed. “Growing up isn’t any fun.”

“Don’t remind me,” Yoongi said with a huff. “I’m older than you, remember.”

“Yes, yes, you only tell me every other second,” Hoseok teased, but then his face sobered again and he pulled Yoongi closer and wrapped his arms around his waist, his face burying in Yoongi’s shoulder.

Hoseok smelled faintly like alcohol, he’d probably had a few drinks, and sweat from dancing, but Yoongi didn’t mind. He returned the embrace once his brain kicked back into gear and tried to will his body not to do anything embarrassing. “You’re a good friend, Hoseokie,” Yoongi whispered in his ear.

Hoseok held him tighter, and then let go, his lips brushing against Yoongi’s ear as he retreated. “So are you,” he said.

~~~

Several days before the masquerade ball, the sculpture was nearly finished, it just needed some final touches and smoothing out. In other words, Yoongi was able to relax and not be stressed out about that aspect of his life. However, he was stressed out about Hoseok. He hadn’t seen him since that night in the studio and it was wearing on him. He hadn’t received anything from Kim Seokjin either, and he halfway hoped he had forgotten about Yoongi, even though that was unlikely since Namjoon was still going to see him.

Yoongi knew he needed to go see Hoseok, they needed to talk, about what, Yoongi wasn’t sure yet.

“You need to stop coming down here if you aren’t going to drink,” Jungkook said, interrupting Yoongi’s thoughts. “It makes everyone else uncomfortable.”

“I’m not doing anything.”

“Exactly! You just sit here at the bar and stare, sometimes I wonder what’s going on in your head,” Jungkook muttered and shook his head. “Where is Jung Hoseok? I haven’t seen him in a while.”

“Neither have I. I keep meaning to go see him, but he’s probably busy,” Yoongi said.

“I heard some girl came in from a neighboring town came to visit him. Maybe he’s been entertaining her,” Jungkook said with a raised eyebrow. He seemed to be trying to read Yoongi’s reaction, so he made sure to keep his face neutral. It wasn’t easy, because he knew the exact implications behind the word ‘entertaining’. He knew, because Hoseok wasn’t very shy about his habits of entertaining various people, specifically in his bed. Not that he bragged about it specifically to Yoongi, he didn’t, but he must have to other people and other people told their friends, and word spread. Jungkook was always telling Yoongi the latest gossip on whomever.

People who were drunk liked to talk.

“Maybe I’ll go see him this afternoon,” Yoongi said casually.

“It already is the afternoon.”

With a deep breath, Yoongi stood. “Fine. If you see Taehyung, tell him I went to the Jung’s. Tell him Namjoon could use some help in the studio.”

“Oh, Taehyung is visiting his family. His sister is ill,” Jungkook explained. “He didn’t tell you?”

“No…”

“Huh, I thought he would have. I might go out there and see him in a day or so. I’ll say hello for you.”

“Okay…I hope his sister is okay…” Yoongi said softly. Taehyung rarely spoke about his family, and when he did, he usually complained. Still, Yoongi understood that Taehyung felt a responsibility to them. Yoongi never had a family to feel responsible for, but he imagined if he did, he would feel a similar sense of urgency. He cared about his friends like they were family, and so, he hoped that Taehyung was okay.

He also hoped that Hoseok was okay.

Before heading over to the Jung’s, he went up to his loft and grabbed the painting he’d done in the field, because he figured he needed some kind of excuse to be there, which was bullshit, since Hoseok was his best friend. It just wasn’t as accepted anymore, now that they were older. Their closeness wasn’t seen as ‘cute’ or ‘quirky’ anymore.

When he finally got there, to the Jung’s, he hesitated before knocking. They didn’t have a gate or anything like Kim Seokjin did, but there was still no telling who would answer the door. If it was Hoseok’s father, he would probably tell Yoongi to leave.

Luckily, before Yoongi could contemplate sneaking in, the front door swung open and none other than Park Jimin stormed out, running straight into Yoongi.

“Oh, sorry,” Jimin muttered and steadied himself. “If you’re here to see Hoseok, good luck, he wouldn’t let me into his room, he’s being an asshole.”

“Why?”

“How should I know? I didn’t talk to him. Also watch out for Dawon, she’s in an equally distasteful mood. Probably because of the upcoming ball, where she’s going to be forced to see her husband. Whatever the reason, she’s not someone you want to run into in there,” Jimin shook his head and then brushed past Yoongi and disappeared down the walk.

The door was wide open, and Yoongi stepped inside and closed it softly behind him. He knew his way through the Jung’s house from his years of friendship with Hoseok, so he easily found his way up to Hoseok’s chambers. The door was shut, so Yoongi propped his painting up against the wall and knocked loudly.

“Go away! I don’t want to talk to you, Jimin,” Hoseok shouted.

“It’s me,” Yoongi called back. “Let me in!”

“Yoongi?”

“Yes, Hobi, let me in,” Yoongi banged on the door another time. Then, it opened a sliver, and then more, and Hoseok’s arm shot out and he yanked Yoongi inside.

His head spun as the door shut with a click behind him. “Sorry, I thought you were Jimin,” Hoseok said as he stepped back from Yoongi.

“I left my painting outside,” Yoongi pointed towards the door.

“I’ll get it later,” Hoseok said and looked around his chambers. It was kind of messy, but Hoseok never had been the neatest. He was wearing loose pants and a plain shirt with a low V in the front and his hair was a little bit unkempt. The rings on his hand looked strange next to the casual outfit.

“Are you okay?” Yoongi asked.

“No. This whole house is a mess, Yoongs. I hate it here,” Hoseok complained. “I’m sure you’ve heard about the girl my parents brought here. They’re obsessed with her. It’s like they love her more than Dawon and me. And they’re obsessed with this ball coming up and they’re planning on announcing our engagement then! Can you believe? It’s insane.”

“Engagement?” Yoongi asked.

“Yeah. Engagement,” Hoseok repeated. He laughed darkly and looked up at the ceiling. “I’m twenty-one. I don’t want to be married yet. But my father is getting old and they’re worried I won’t be able to continue on the family name and so marriage it is. Dawon has failed them in that respect and they’re always crying about not having grandchildren.”

Yoongi felt sick. “T-This is really going to happen?” he asked.

“I don’t know. It seems like it. I mean the girl, she’s nice and all, but I don’t…I don’t care about her, you know?”

“That’s never stopped you before,” Yoongi pointed out. He was still standing against the door, while Hoseok paced back and forth in from of him, wildly.

“Yeah, but it wasn’t like I was having to marry those people,” Hoseok hissed. He stopped pacing and looked at Yoongi, letting out a long breath. “I missed you, how come you haven’t been by?”

“Busy. I’m almost done with the sculpture. Sorry for leaving you in the studio that night.”

“Sorry for making you uncomfortable.”

“You didn’t make me uncomfortable,” Yoongi said quickly.

“You looked ready to bolt,” Hoseok said and stepped closer by an inch.

“It’s fine, seriously,” Yoongi assured him. “You aren’t fine, though, I can tell. C’mere.”

Hoseok got closer and Yoongi pulled him against himself by the shirt so they were flush against each other, and Yoongi wrapped his arms around Hoseok. “You’re always there for me,” Hoseok said softly. “But you don’t even know the half of it. Dawon is a mess, she never leaves the house, and my father…he doesn’t understand us. He doesn’t understand me. I know my mother has always been kind to you, but, god, you should hear the things my father says.”

“You can say no, Hobi.”

“Easier said than done,” he muttered against Yoongi’s shoulder as his arms shifted around Yoongi’s waist. His rings felt cool, even through Yoongi’s shirt. “A lot of things are easier said than done.”

“Maybe you can make a fool of yourself at the ball, and this girl will decide she doesn’t like you anymore,” Yoongi suggested sarcastically.

Hoseok chuckled and his head moved slightly and Yoongi shivered when he felt Hoseok’s lips brush against his neck. “I just wanna forget about it all, sometimes,” Hoseok whispered. His grip on Yoongi’s waist tightened. “Don’t you?”

“Yeah,” Yoongi managed to breathe in response. “I do.”

And then, unmistakably, Hoseok pressed a kiss to the side of Yoongi’s neck and Yoongi sighed and tilted his head to the side. “Tell me to stop, if you don’t want it,” Hoseok whispered against his skin. “But I want you, right now, I need you, Yoongi.”

Yes,” Yoongi answered, his mind whirring.

Another press of Hoseok’s lips to Yoongi’s skin. Hoseok’s leg slotting between Yoongi’s. A painting, red flowers and beams of sunlight, propped against the wall outside the room.

“When they told me,” Hoseok said lowly, “I thought of you. I want you so badly. You drive me insane, you know that? I never…I never wanted to say anything…”

Yoongi wove his fingers through the back of Hoseok’s hair and tugged his face his head until they were nose to nose. “I…did you know? About how I felt?”

Hoseok bit his bottom lip and his head jerked slightly, but it was hard to tell if it was a nod, and before Yoongi could ask, Hoseok closed the distance between them, and kissed him.

~~~

Age Seventeen

Hoseok pulled him into an empty room. It appeared to be some kind of lounge, all plush couches and embroidery. The amount of excess in Hoseok’s home was always overwhelming, and were it not for the fact that Hoseok was Yoongi’s anchor, in many ways, he would never have gone to his home. But, it was Hoseok’s birthday celebration and he insisted upon Yoongi being there, even if the entire time up until several moments ago, he had been completely ignored.

“I’m so sorry, it’s stifling out there,” Hoseok said.

Yoongi sighed and nodded in agreement. “I shouldn’t have come.”

“No! I wanted you to come! It’s my seventeenth birthday, and you’ll be eighteen soon. We should be able to celebrate together, especially since you’re my closest friend. That’s why I pulled you in here, so we could have a few minutes to talk,” Hoseok explained. He took Yoongi’s hand and pulled him over to one of the couches, where they sat a safe distance apart.

It wouldn’t have been a big deal, they sat together countless times before, except Yoongi saw Hoseok in a new light. He was older, yes, but there was a churning feeling in Yoongi’s gut that made him feel strange towards his friend. He wondered if Hoseok felt it too.

“Jimin says that Chaewon has been looking at me all evening,” Hoseok said suddenly and Yoongi darted his eyes up to meet Hoseok’s.

“Who is that?”

“The daughter of another wealthy family,” Hoseok explained. “I’ve spoken with her before. But I’m not sure if I want…to do anything with her. She’s nice and all, but…I wouldn’t want her to get the wrong idea, you know?”

“Oh. Yeah,” Yoongi nodded. “I don’t really get around to anything like that, so I can’t very well give you advice about what girls you bring to your bed or not.”

Hoseok scoffed. “You’re lying.”

“No,” Yoongi said and shrugged.

“Have you kissed anyone?” Hoseok asked, and leaned forward slightly. Yoongi looked down at Hoseok’s lips. They were tinged red from the wine Hoseok had been drinking earlier, and he bit the bottom lip between his white teeth, a stark contrast that sent Yoongi’s head spinning.

“Not really, no,” Yoongi answered.

I don’t want to kiss anyone, his internal voice said, there’s only one person I want to kiss.

“How?” Hoseok said and gestured at Yoongi’s form. “You’re good looking, I see women looking at you on the city streets.”

“I’m not completely virginal, you brat,” Yoongi said. “But I haven’t ever kissed anyone.” He opted not to add that most of his sexual experiences had been at the tavern below his home. That some of them he didn’t remember. That some he may not have even wanted.

“Huh,” Hoseok said. “Do you want to kiss someone?”

Yoongi cocked his head to the side. Outside the room, he could hear the happenings of the party, but it was far away. Hoseok was looking at him carefully, and Yoongi wasn’t sure what game he was playing at. “It doesn’t matter to me either way,” Yoongi lied.

Discreetly, Hoseok scooted an inch closer to Yoongi on the couch. “You don’t want to be bad at it,” Hoseok said pointedly. “What if the time comes for you to kiss someone and you don’t know what to do?”

Yoongi rolled his eyes. “Are you going to teach me or something?” It was a joke, he and Hoseok couldn’t kiss. He could only imagine the ridicule if anyone found out. If anyone even found out that Yoongi was thinking about kissing Hoseok. That he had even made such a suggestion.

“Close your eyes,” Hoseok said. Yoongi felt his palms start to sweat. Did Hoseok know? Could he see the way Yoongi looked at him? Was he just fucking with him? Had their whole friendship been some kind of joke and this was the punchline?

“No, I’m not closing my eyes, you asshole,” Yoongi snapped.

Hoseok’s gaze darkened. “Fine, then, don’t,” he said lowly. His voice dipped to something slightly darker, something intense, something Yoongi wanted to drown in and then paint the feeling.

And then Hoseok placed his hand on Yoongi’s neck. His hand was warm, firm. “’Seok,” Yoongi warned.

His warning was ignored because Hoseok closed the distance between them and lightly placed his lips over Yoongi’s. They were warm, too, like his hands, and Hoseok was barely touching him and it was too much. Yoongi’s eyes were still open, Hoseok’s were fluttering open and closed, open and closed.

It was Yoongi who eventually pressed further into the kiss, but it was Hoseok who parted his lips first. Yoongi didn’t move his hands, even though Hoseok had one curled around the back of his neck. Yoongi didn’t know what the kiss was. He didn’t know what Hoseok was doing.

He did know, though, that Hoseok’s tongue was trialing across Yoongi’s lips, and then, when Yoongi parted them, it slipped inside his mouth and Hoseok’s other hand gripped his hip and pulled him closer. Their tongues mingled, twisted and twirled together. Hoseok was a good kisser. He’d clearly had practice and Yoongi wondered if Hoseok thought Yoongi was a bad kisser. But, he let Hoseok take charge. He let Hoseok suck Yoongi’s tongue into his mouth and nip at Yoongi’s lower lip.

He let Hoseok kiss him deeper, first slowly and then harder, until they were both breathless and pulling away for air with spit slicked lips and flushed faces. “Oh,” Yoongi breathed softly. His body felt hot and cold at the same time, but he felt mostly empty when Hoseok’s hands left his body.

“You sure you’ve never kissed anyone before?” Hoseok asked.

“I’m sure,” Yoongi answered.

Hoseok raised an eyebrow and ran his tongue along his lower lip. Yoongi wanted to kiss him again. He wanted to taste the faint hint of wine in Hoseok’s mouth and let Hoseok test his gag reflex with his tongue. He wanted Hoseok’s hands back on his body.

“Hmm,” Hoseok said noncommittally. He tilted his head to the side and reached out and ran his thumb across Yoongi’s lower lip. Yoongi’s mouth hung open and his hand twitched as he resisted the urge to grab Hoseok’s wrist and suck his fingers into his mouth. Instead, he let Hoseok touch his lips and then, slowly, painfully so, lean forward again and capture Yoongi’s bottom lip in another chaste kiss.

When he pulled away, Yoongi whimpered from low in his throat and Hoseok smiled. And then he stood from the couch and Yoongi felt as if he had whiplash. “What—”

“Now you don’t have to be worried about it. You’re a perfectly good kisser, Yoongi,” Hoseok said and nodded. “I should probably get back out to the party.”

Yoongi knew he was staring with his mouth wide open like a fool, but he couldn’t help it. He just sat there and watched Hoseok walk back to the door, pull it open, look back once at Yoongi, wink, and then leave.

And that was that. Hoseok kissed Yoongi and they never talked about it. It meant nothing.

It meant everything.

~~~

The kiss was different from the first time. Hoseok wasn’t as gentle, and Yoongi wasn’t as taken aback. They both knew exactly what they were doing. Their hands grasped at each other and Hoseok pushed Yoongi firmly into the door. A moan escaped Hoseok’s mouth when Yoongi curled his tongue into his mouth and trailed his hands under Hoseok’s shirt.

Hoseok sucked, hard, on Yoongi’s tongue, until the elder whined and he pulled back with a satisfied smirk before kissing roughly against Yoongi’s jaw and down to his neck. “You’re so beautiful, you know?” Hoseok said against Yoongi’s neck before licking a stripe to his ear. Yoongi squeezed Hoseok’s shoulders and closed his eyes.

“Hoseok, please,” Yoongi rasped.

Hoseok hummed and bit down on the flesh on Yoongi’s neck and worried the skin between his teeth before soothing it with the flat of his tongue. Then, he moved to another spot and did the same. It really wasn’t a good idea, but Yoongi didn’t care. He wanted to see the damage when it was all said and done.

Suddenly, Hoseok pulled back and Yoongi felt his heart jerk in his chest, but then, Hoseok took the hem of Yoongi’s shirt in his hands and pulled it over Yoongi’s head. He was a little bit self-conscious at first, he knew he didn’t look like Hoseok did, but when he met Hoseok’s gaze, his qualms faded. Hoseok was looking at him like he was the most desirable thing he’d ever seen. His pupils were wide and Yoongi’s breath hitched when Hoseok dragged his hands up his chest and then down his arms. The metal on Hoseok’s hands, those big obnoxious rings, were a stark, cold contrast to Hoseok’s warm hands.

“I want to see you wrecked,” Hoseok said, but Yoongi had no chance to respond because Hoseok leaned down and put his hot mouth over one of Yoongi’s nipples and swirled his tongue around the sensitive area.

An involuntary gasp escaped Yoongi’s mouth and his hips bucked forward off the door and into Hoseok’s. Hoseok moaned appreciatively and then kissed his way back up to Yoongi’s mouth before stepping back to yank his own shirt over his head.

Yoongi knew what he was in for, he’d seen Hoseok without a shirt, but, he still stared. Hoseok was coming back, so Yoongi surged forward, but instead of kissing him or anything like that, he pushed down Hoseok’s pants and Hoseok gasped as the cold air hit him. Yoongi got a brief glance at Hoseok’s cock, hard and thick, curved against his tan skin and flushed red at the tip. When Hoseok recovered, he helped Yoongi out of his pants and then pulled them flush together again until Hoseok’s legs hit the back of his king sized bed, all framed with see-through curtains and an intricately carved headboard.

Abruptly, Hoseok reached and lifted Yoongi until his legs wrapped around Hoseok’s waist. It was utterly arousing, the way Hoseok could just lift him like that and Yoongi yelped slightly in surprise and then let it die out into a moan at the feeling of his cock trapped between them.

Hoseok smirked against his lips and turned them around before leaning down and dropping Yoongi onto the bed and scrambling after him. Yoongi scooted back and let Hoseok settle between him. “Tell me what you like,” Hoseok said and ground his hips down. Yoongi reached between them and let his hand dance against Hoseok’s cock, slow and careful. He was hard, and when he didn’t protest, Yoongi let his grip get firmer and he gave Hoseok a few experimental tugs.

“You. I like you,” Yoongi said.

Hoseok laughed and kissed Yoongi’s lips once. “You’re cute. You want me to suck you off?” Hoseok looked down to where Yoongi’s hand was and then back to his eyes as he caged him in. “You’re already leaking, sweetheart.”

“Oh fuck,” Yoongi moaned and tossed his head back into the pillows. Hoseok kissed the center of his chest and then moved his way down until he was between Yoongi’s legs.

“You like when I call you that?” Hoseok asked. Yoongi nodded desperately, unashamed. Hoseok was probably giving him another smirk, but Yoongi had his eyes closed, and when Hoseok took the head of Yoongi’s dick into his mouth, Yoongi felt his whole body jerk.

Hoseok wasn’t even hesitant. He wasn’t acting like someone who had never been with another man before. His tongue swirled around the head in careful circles and dragged through the slit. And then he sank down, just a little bit, still moving his tongue. Yoongi prided himself on being able to take it deep, and while Hoseok wasn’t doing that, his mouth was warm and everything about it was bliss. Yoongi fisted the silk sheets underneath him and tried to calm his breathing. “’Seokseok, you don’t have to—we don’t have to—” Yoongi mumbled.

“I want to,” Hoseok said when he pulled up, letting Yoongi’s dick fall wetly back against his abdomen. “I’ll stop if you don’t want to.”

“I want to. Please, I want to,” Yoongi said. “For so long, I’ve wanted to.”

Hoseok stilled for a moment, but only a moment, and then tongued over Yoongi’s cock one more time before coming back up and kissing him properly. “Hey, look at me,” Hoseok said seriously, and Yoongi wrenched his eyes open. “Tell me you’re sure. I’ll never hurt you,” Hoseok hesitated and raised an eyebrow. “Unless you want me to.”

“I hate you,” Yoongi muttered. “I’m hard, I fucking told you I want this. I want to help you forget , just…I want this, okay?”

“Okay, good,” Hoseok said and kissed Yoongi again, letting his weight settle completely on top of Yoongi as they moved together against the silk, limbs tangling, the sheer curtains giving the whole thing a surreal quality.

Yoongi reached down and grabbed Hoseok’s ass, pushing his hips up while Hoseok kissed Yoongi sloppily and loudly, his hands weaving in Yoongi’s dark hair. “I want you to fuck me,” Yoongi said when he managed to separate their mouths.

“Okay, yeah, okay,” Hoseok said and sat back on his heels. He crawled off the bed and Yoongi strained to see him through the curtains.

“What’re you doing?”

“We need some kind of lubricant. I have oil,” Hoseok said and Yoongi heard something opening and closing before Hoseok came back with some kind of little jar.

“Y-You’ve done this before,” Yoongi said quietly.

“You didn’t know that? Yeah, I’ve had sex with men, Yoongs,” Hoseok said. “So have you, right?”

“Yes, but…I didn’t know.”

“Mmm. Well, I’ll tell you a secret,” Hoseok said, his voice becoming low and sensual again. “I always wished they were you. Your pretty little cock is better than anyone else’s.”

Yoongi scoffed. “It’s not little.”

Eyes sparkling, Hoseok laughed loudly. “No, I guess it isn’t,” he said. Then, he lay back on the bed and pulled Yoongi slightly on top of him. His hands fumbled behind Yoongi as he tried to get his little jar thing open and slick up his hand. The rings also came off and Yoongi heard them clatter to the floor somewhere to the side of the bed.

“I swear I didn’t come over here for sex,” Yoongi said and Hoseok rolled his eyes.

“I think I propositioned you, anyway,” Hoseok said. “I mean, I am the one who kissed you years ago.”

“And then never brought it up.”

“Mmm, well, this isn’t exactly easy, you know?” Hoseok said, but before Yoongi could ask what he meant, he asked, “Do you want me to get you ready?”

“Yes, Hoseok, pl—ah, ah,” Yoongi fell halfway against Hoseok’s chest as the first finger slid inside slowly. “Shit, oh my god.”

“Kiss me,” Hoseok said, as if he could somehow read Yoongi’s thoughts. And they kissed, long and slow and without any kind of pretense or desperation. It was easy, kissing Hoseok. It was right.

Yoongi didn’t even stop kissing him when he pushed a second finger in alongside the first and began to scissor them apart expertly. Clearly, Hoseok knew what he was doing. And it felt amazing, but in a way that was about more than just the pleasure.

The feeling of Hoseok’s mouth on Yoongi’s and his fingers inside him was intense, but Yoongi managed to wrap his dexterous fingers around Hoseok’s dick and move his leg against him too, so Hoseok was moaning into his mouth. Making Hoseok feel good was so rewarding within itself that Yoongi didn’t even expect the third finger that slid inside him.

Oh!” Yoongi’s lips moved off of Hoseok’s and he licked and nipped at Hoseok’s neck instead. Meanwhile, Hoseok continued to finger fuck Yoongi persistently, the sound loud and obscene. Yoongi keened and arched his back into Hoseok’s hand.

“Christ,” Hoseok muttered. “Can I fuck you now?”

“Yes, yes, fucking yes,” Yoongi said and rolled onto his back so Hoseok’s fingers slid out of him.  

Hoseok chuckled and pushed Yoongi onto the mattress. There was some adjusting as Hoseok hovered over him and pushed his legs up. During it all, Hoseok looked appreciatively down between Yoongi’s legs. “So pretty, Yoongi,” he murmured, and he clearly caught the way Yoongi’s dick twitched at the praise.

After slicking himself up, Hoseok braced himself against the back of Yoongi’s legs and pushed in just enough to stretch Yoongi, and make him want more. The moment felt like it wasn’t really happening. Yoongi halfway feared he was going to wake up any second from some twisted wet dream.

“Please, fill me up,” Yoongi begged as he tried to push back and take Hoseok deeper.

“I will,” Hoseok said. “You just look so good. You always do, I could look at you forever.”

Yoongi moaned brokenly and then pushed Hoseok off of himself before moving to straddle his hips. The younger looked up at him with wide eyes as Yoongi sank down until he was seated and Hoseok was bottomed out.

“Holy shit.”

“You’re impatient.”

“You’re a dick.”

Hoseok pinched Yoongi’s leg, but Yoongi proceeded to take his hands and pin them above Hoseok’s head while he started to rock. The bed made no sound under them and so the only sound was their hard breathing and their skin slapping together.

Everything felt good, the moment was suspended.

He had always been beautiful.

Jung Hoseok was a force of nature.

And Min Yoongi was in love with him.

Sweat shined on Hoseok’s golden skin as Yoongi rode him, slamming down on every down stroke so that Hoseok would gasp and groan and his fingers would flex in Yoongi’s. Eventually, Hoseok’s cock brushed against Yoongi’s prostate and he cried out in a way that was probably too loud, if Hoseok wrenching his hand out of Yoongi’s grasp and shoving two fingers into Yoongi’s mouth was any indication.

“Sweetheart, you’ve gotta be quiet,” Hoseok said.

“Fuck me,” Yoongi mumbled around Hoseok’s fingers. “I wanna come. I want you to feel good, too.”

Hoseok sat up and kissed Yoongi breathless before Yoongi got off Hoseok’s dick and got on his hands and knees, waiting for Hoseok to take back control. He did, rough and deliciously perfect as he pulled Yoongi back and slid inside him again.

Yoongi fell down to his elbows and buried his face into the pillows, which smelled like flowers and Hoseok, and spilled all his moans into the fabric. Behind him, Hoseok guided Yoongi’s hips back as he thrusted. Every movement was fluid and precise and Hoseok was managing to hit his prostate repeatedly, and even though he didn’t want it to be over, Yoongi knew he was close.

Behind him, Hoseok leaned over, one of his hands coming to rest by where Yoongi’s face was laying in the pillows. Awkwardly, Yoongi moved and grabbed Hoseok’s hand. “It’s so good, Yoongs,” Hoseok murmured in his ear.

The movement of Hoseok’s hips got slower, more fluid, and Yoongi began to rock back with him. Pleasure coiled in Yoongi’s entire self, and he wasn’t sure if he was going to last. “Hobi, I’m gonna—gonna come—” Hoseok grunted and pushed in one more time, harder, Yoongi’s body shook, but then, Hoseok pulled out. “Wha—”

“’S okay,” Hoseok slurred and turned Yoongi back around and pulled him up so they were both on their knees. Yoongi’s were wobbly, his body thrumming with an orgasm that he hadn’t quite reached yet. Hoseok cupped Yoongi’s jaw and kissed him, eventually moving down to Yoongi’s neck again and slowly lowering him back onto the bed.

“What’re you waiting for?” Yoongi croaked while Hoseok worked another mark on his jaw.

The lips on his neck came off with a pop and Hoseok smiled down at Yoongi. “I didn’t want to come yet,” Hoseok said and flitted his hand down Yoongi’s side. It looked like Hoseok was ready to say something else, but he opted to kiss Yoongi once more, chaste, before taking Yoongi’s hands in his and holding them on either side of Yoongi’s head before he entered Yoongi again.

And then it was all hard undulations and rough slaps of their skin and broken moans into each other’s mouths.

“Oh my god,” Yoongi whined and arched his back, Hoseok barraging his prostate with no respite.

In some ways, it didn’t make sense, the way he’d come there with no intentions to sleep with Hoseok, but that was how they ended up. In other ways, it made complete sense. Yoongi knew, realistically, that this could be their only time, their only chance, and dammit, he was going to take it.

It didn’t last much longer after that, not when Hoseok was so attractive, so warm, glowing, and mumbling praise and moans into Yoongi’s ears. Yoongi came, Hoseok’s hand wrapped around his cock, with a cry that was muffled by Hoseok’s lips. Hoseok fucked him through his orgasm and peppered light kissed across Yoongi’s cheeks before removing his hand, sticky with Yoongi’s release and pulling out.

Hoseok straddled Yoongi’s hips and jerked himself, his head falling back. Miraculously, Yoongi pulled himself out of his post-orgasm bliss and pushed Hoseok’s hand aside to do it himself, until Hoseok came with a growl over Yoongi’s body.

He collapsed next to Yoongi after that and for a long time, they both just laid there, breathing, their hands somehow finding each other and intertwining.

“Say something,” Yoongi eventually spoke, his eyes peeling open.

Hoseok propped himself up on his elbows to look at Yoongi, messy and utterly fucked. “Can I clean you up?” he asked.

One shoulder moved up then down, but Yoongi didn’t expect it when Hoseok started lapping up the mess across Yoongi’s torso. “Hoseok, fuck,” Yoongi muttered and brushed the youngers hair back.

“That was really amazing,” Hoseok said between drags of his tongue. “How come we haven’t been doing that sooner?”

Because it can only end badly, Yoongi thought. Instead, though, he said, “I don’t know.” And, “Oh, that feels good.”

A few more moments of Hoseok kissing and licking Yoongi’s body later, he came up and kissed Yoongi’s lips once, and then moved off the bed, through the curtains and throughout the room. Yoongi heard the door open and close and Hoseok go into the bathing room attached to his chambers and then came back with a plush towel and Yoongi’s painting.

He handed Yoongi the towel and let Yoongi clean up further before pulling back the silk sheets and letting Yoongi crawl under with Hoseok.

“Is this for me?” Hoseok asked, holding the canvas out.

“It was my excuse for being here in case I ran into your parents or sister,” Yoongi said truthfully. “But, yes, you can have it.”

“It’s beautiful, I’ll hang it,” Hoseok said and moved to put the painting down against the bed. Then he pulled Yoongi closer to him and Yoongi rested his head on Hoseok’s chest. “I did know,” Hoseok said softly. “Or at least, I assumed, that you had feelings for me.”

“That’s embarrassing,” Yoongi muttered, his eyes fluttering closed.

“It’s not. I have feelings for you, too,” Hoseok admitted. “I mean, you’re always there for me, and I know that I’m a colossal idiot sometimes, but—”

“You aren’t,” Yoongi said. “You’re just you. We’re from different worlds, but…”

“We work,” Hoseok finished. “For a while, I thought you hated me. I was always bothering you while you were doing your apprenticeship, and everyone always gave us dirty looks when we went out as kids, and I just…I always missed you when you weren’t with me, you know?”

“You make me happier,” Yoongi whispered simply.

“Hey, don’t fall asleep,” Hoseok said.

“I’m falling asleep.”

“No!” Hoseok hooked his legs over Yoongi’s body and squeezed him tightly, but it really didn’t make Yoongi want to wake up. It really just made him want to stay there even more.

“This is real, right?” Yoongi asked.

“Yes. I’m right here.”

Yoongi drifted off with Hoseok’s weight over him. His dreams were full of streaming colors, bright yellows and sultry reds and he danced through them. Somewhere between the colors, he would spot Hoseok, but every time he got close, he darted behind another wash of paint. Far away, Yoongi could see a curtain of black, like a canvas painted midnight, and Hoseok continued to get closer and closer to it.

Maybe Yoongi called out to him, but there wasn’t any sound any the dream. It was only color. Hoseok was orange, red. Yoongi was blue. The red and yellow walls danced wickedly around them. The black curtain loomed. And then, with a wave of fire, Hoseok darted in front of the black wall, and the orange became muddied and dull as the midnight swallowed him up.

And then blue was the only color left.

*

In Hoseok’s chambers, there were not any windows. There was one in the bathing room, but his actual room itself was without any way to see the outside world. Yoongi both liked and disliked that quality of Hoseok’s room. Liked it because it gave them a sense of privacy, but disliked it because it was impossible to tell what time it was when he woke up.

Yoongi groaned and rolled over onto his back and peeled his eyes open. The bed was empty, save for himself, but the curtains on one side were pulled back and Yoongi could see the door to the bathing room was cracked open. Hesitantly, Yoongi crawled out of the bed.

Low humming could be heard in the bathing room and when Yoongi peaked inside, he saw Hoseok standing in front of a mirror with some kind of purple robe on that looked expensive. He was brushing his hands through his hair and tilting his head from side to side.

Yoongi crept up behind him and touched his arm, just out of view of the mirror and Hoseok, Hoseok who had fucked Yoongi like a god, jumped ten feet in the air and screamed.

Yoongi covered his mouth with his hand to stifle his laughter.

“Y-Yoongi!” Hoseok exclaimed and pushed the elder’s shoulder. “Do not sneak up on me!”

“Remember when we were twelve and I first discovered what a scaredy-cat you were?” Yoongi snickered.

“Yes! You hid in places and popped out and made me pee myself!” Hoseok said. “I still hate you for that.”

“I didn’t think you would still be so jumpy,” Yoongi said. “Sorry.”

“Well, I am,” Hoseok crossed his arms over the purple fabric of his robe. His eyes flickered up and down Yoongi’s bare body and a small smile formed on his lips. “It’s the middle of the night. We slept all day.”

Yoongi glanced over at the window, and sure enough, it was dark outside. “Oh. I should probably go before morning.”

“Yes, leave, you scared me, we aren’t friends anymore,” Hoseok said and Yoongi glared and that was all it took for Hoseok to break into a big, heart-shaped grin. “I’m kidding. Stay. I wanna kiss you some more.”

Oh. Right, Yoongi thought. So we’re actually going to do this?

“I’m naked. Where are my clothes?” Yoongi asked and looked back out towards the bedroom.

“Hey,” Hoseok said. “Be my date to the ball.”

Yoongi scoffed and looked back at Hoseok, who tugged Yoongi into an embrace. “Yeah, right.”

“My secret date, then,” Hoseok said. “Also, stay here. Stay with me until then.”

“I can’t, I still have finishing touches to do on my sculpture. And, Namjoon will wonder where I am and Taehyung isn’t around to help him finish his painting of Kim Seokjin and—”

“Uhg,” Hoseok made a face at Kim Seokjin’s name, but Yoongi continued without acknowledging it.

“I would love to stay here with you, Hobi, but you know I can’t. I’m sure your parents will be around looking for you, and if they found me with you in here, like this…” Yoongi trailed off, because he didn’t even want to think about what that would be like. “I’ll see you at the ball.”

Hoseok pouted, but nodded in understanding. “Okay,” he said softly and then, somehow unexpectedly, kissed Yoongi softly.

When they separated, Yoongi’s throat burned with words he couldn’t say. He didn’t even know what Hoseok wanted from them, would they just go back to the way they were before? Did Hoseok want to keep up this new part of their relationship? Even if he was, supposedly, engaged?

“I’ll walk you out, okay?” Hoseok said and Yoongi nodded robotically. They both got dressed in silence, except for Hoseok’s humming, and when Hoseok finished getting dressed first, he kissed the back of Yoongi’s neck once. “Thank you.”

“Are you thanking me for sex?” Yoongi asked as he adjusted his shirt around the marks on his neck.

“No, I’m thanking you for being my friend.”

“Well, you don’t need to thank me for that, either,” Yoongi said shortly.

Hoseok took Yoongi’s hand. “Are you mad?”

“No, Hobi,” Yoongi assured him. When Hoseok didn’t look convinced, Yoongi let his resolve crumble, blocking out the voice in the back of his mind that was telling him to fucking stop and curled his hands around Hoseok neck and kissed him. The smile against Hoseok’s lips transferred over to Yoongi’s until they were both smiling too much to kiss properly and Yoongi rested his forehead against Hoseok’s shoulder, the opposite of their position from earlier, when Hoseok had first kissed Yoongi’s neck.

“Wow, I like you a lot,” Hoseok said in one breath.

“Well, I am pretty great. I mean look at my face,” Yoongi said and pointed at himself. “Aren’t I cute?”

Hoseok laughed brightly and then pushed Yoongi towards the door. “Yes. You are. Come on, let’s go before we end up back in the bed.”

Out in the hall, they laughed quietly and shushed each other on their way to the staircase. “Stop shushing me, you’re the one who’s louder!” Yoongi hissed in the dark. Hoseok’s hands danced on Yoongi’s hips from behind as they stumbled around.

“I am very light on my feet,” Hoseok corrected, except he didn’t drop his voice to a whisper and Yoongi jabbed him in the side pointedly.

“Sweetheart, you’ve gotta be quiet,” Yoongi mocked.

They rounded the corner, Hoseok still draped over Yoongi and carefree smiles on their faces. The staircase was a few feet away and just before they reached it, Dawon appeared at the top and froze, the three of them all staring at each other blankly. Hoseok’s hand tightened on Yoongi hip, and it was like he was unable to extract himself. Dawon blinked twice and her expression softened until her eyes just looked glazed over. She ran a hand through her long hair and averted her eyes.

“It’s late,” she stated. “Go to sleep, Hoseok.”

“Dawon, we—” Hoseok started, but she walked past them and he stopped.

“Mother fell asleep in the sitting room. Use the door around back,” Dawon said as she walked towards her own chambers. “And I do hope my brother is fair to you, Yoongi.”

And then she was gone, her door closing behind her.

“She hates me,” Yoongi murmured.

Hoseok was quiet, and he finally stepped back, away from Yoongi, and started off down the stairs. Yoongi had no choice but to follow and once they got to the door, Hoseok looked down at his feet for several seconds before meeting Yoongi’s eyes. “Dawon doesn’t hate you,” he said. “She’s just unhappy in general.”

“I’ll see you at the ball, then, I guess,” Yoongi said. He had a feeling Dawon wasn’t going to say anything about what she’d seen, and Hoseok didn’t seem too worried about, either, just kind of embarrassed.

“If not before then,” Hoseok agreed and kissed Yoongi on the cheek.

Back outside, in the real world, the summer heat beat down, even in the nighttime, on Yoongi’s bruised and marked shoulders. He took the trek back alone, the same way he’d came, and his mind spun, thinking about all the ways things could go wrong between the two of them. But also, all the ways it felt right.

Hoseok was a little bit reckless and Yoongi was a little bit destructive. In so many ways, they were still kids, and in others, they were too mature for their own good. The pairing was unbalanced, like Yoongi was on his feet, but he continued to try and dance anyway.

~~~

Age Nineteen

“Why did you ask me to come out tonight if you’re going to act like this the whole time?” Namjoon asked.

The streets were alive with music and celebration, since it had rained for the first time that summer, breaking the drought they had been in. Mud caked the bottom of Yoongi’s flimsy shoes. He was not enjoying himself.

“I don’t know. Taehyung was saying he wanted to go out, but we lost him, and…it’s too loud,” Yoongi complained.

“Perhaps if you loosened up, it wouldn’t be so bad,” Namjoon suggested.

They came to a stop in front of a little clearing where children and young adults were dancing and laughing. Namjoon, usually someone reserved and serious, had a gleam in his eyes. “You go have fun,” Yoongi told him. “I’m going to see if I can find something to eat.”

“I won’t have too much fun without you!” Namjoon called after Yoongi, a big dimpled smile on his face as the crowd swallowed him up.

Yoongi shook his head slightly, with a small grin, and started to weave his way through the commotion. There was a certain beauty to the night, despite the smell of rain and the squelching mud. Everyone was in good spirits, their worries disregarded.

Even though people were bumping into him, Yoongi felt himself begin to relax. He might as well have a good time, too. Sulking was pointless. He passed another group of people dancing and swayed back and forth to the tune.

Before he could turn away, though, a hand shot out from the crowd and pulled him in, flush against the chest of a hooded figure. “Who the—”

“It’s me,” Hoseok said quickly, lifting his head just enough for Yoongi to get a flash of his handsome face. That, and his long, tan neck, which was marked with a telling bruise.

“Did you sneak out?” Yoongi asked over the music, but Hoseok started to sway his hips and he spun Yoongi around with a giggle that was plainly childlike.

“You were almost dancing a second ago,” Hoseok said. “Are you out here alone?”

Yoongi forced his body to keep moving, so that they wouldn’t just be standing there, drawing attention. “I was with Namjoon, but I let him off on his own.”

“Hmm, good for me then,” Hoseok said with a mischievous smirk.

“Is this a good idea?” Yoongi asked when Hoseok put his hands on Yoongi’s waist.

“No,” Hoseok said in his ear. “But no one is paying any attention tonight. Just dance with me, yeah?”

And so Yoongi danced with him. They shouted and yelled with the rest of the crowd, found sugary sweets to eat that were being sold on the street and ate them, danced some more and sloshed through puddles of water and mud.

By the end of the night, they were collapsed side-by-side in an alleyway, covered in dirt and sweat. Hoseok had his hood pushed off and it was odd, to see him so disheveled and ordinary looking. It was refreshing.

“My stomach hurts from eating,” Hoseok said. “You wore me out.”

“You kidding? You wore me out!” Yoongi countered.

Hoseok sat up straighter against the wall and then looked up at the sky between the buildings. Stars sparkled down at them and the moon lit up the sky, so they could see each other. Hoseok, though, was bright enough to tear through the darkness without the moon.

“You ever want to run away?” Hoseok asked. Yoongi jerked his head to the side to look at his friend. “Let’s run away together,” Hoseok continued. “Find some house out in the middle of nowhere and raise cows or something.”

Yoongi laughed at the ridiculousness of the idea. “Right, sure. You’d be too scared of the cows to take care of them.”

“Cows are cute,” Hoseok said. “We would have a good time like that, don’t you think? Without having to worry about our lives here. I would be happy to just be somewhere with only you. Maybe visit Dawon on holidays.”

“How much did you drink tonight?”

“Too much,” Hoseok relented and rested his head on Yoongi’s shoulder. “Not enough.”

“Well don’t pass out, I can’t carry you back to your home and I’m not sleeping out here with you,” Yoongi said.

“You mean you can’t carry me to our house in the middle of nowhere with our cows?” Hoseok asked sleepily. “I bet you could if you wanted to.”

“Well I don’t want to.”

“You could paint, all over the little house,” Hoseok said dreamily. “Just straight on the walls. It would be small, but you could make it seem like we had the whole world, right there.”

“You already have the whole world,” Yoongi muttered and shrugged Hoseok off his shoulder to make sure he wouldn’t actually fall asleep.

“No,” Hoseok said softly. “I don’t have anywhere near that much.” His bottom lip was caught between his teeth, but before Yoongi could do anything stupid, with Hoseok looking at him so intently, Hoseok stood up and pulled his hood back over his head. “You’ll be okay getting back right? Dawon won’t cover for me for much longer.”

“Oh,” Yoongi nodded. “Of course. Be safe.”

“You too, Yoongs,” Hoseok said with a small smile. “I’ll see you when I see you. Don’t forget to take care of the cows while I’m gone.” He winked and then he was gone with a wave and the sounds of the celebrations took over again. The stars shined in the sky, and the moon, but it was suddenly much, much darker.

~~~

As it was every year before the Jung’s masquerade ball, everyone was talking about the event. It was mainly the wealthy that actually got to go into the Jung’s home for the party, but the village people were typically allowed to gather outside and participate in that respect. Yoongi had never been either way, outside or in, despite Hoseok asking him to come every year. He was both giddy and nervous.

Even more so when a package arrived downstairs in the tavern with his name on it.

“Who is this from?” Jungkook asked when he brought it up to Yoongi. “Even the box looks expensive.”

“I’m not sure,” Yoongi lied.

“Can I see what’s in it?”

“I guess,” Yoongi relented, only because he knew Jungkook wasn’t going to take no for an answer. He let the younger boy into his loft and brought the box to his desk in the bedroom. It was tied with a lavish pink bow, which Yoongi yanked to untie. Jungkook snatched up the fabric and twirled it around his neck.

“I’m gonna see if I can sell it,” he whispered.

“Good luck with that,” Yoongi muttered as he lifted the lid off the box unceremoniously.

Inside was light pink tissue, and when Yoongi lifted it aside, he was met with a mask. A mask for the ball. The mask itself looked like lace, but when Yoongi picked it up, he found that it was made of some kind of light metal. It was black and shiny, and the design was see through. Tiny little jewels were set around the edges of it, and Yoongi knew he was holding something worth quite a bit of money. Although, more than that, he was holding something beautiful.

“Whoa,” Jungkook breathed. “What else is in there?”

“Um,” Yoongi gingerly set the mask aside and dug past the remaining pink tissue to pull out a white shirt that looked like it was made of stars. The fabric shimmered when it hit the sunlight streaming in through the window. Under the shirt was a pair of tailored black pants, which had a, of course, pink notecard sitting on top of them.

Jungkook snatched it up and his eyes got big. “You’re friends with Kim Seokjin! That’s incredible. Did Hoseok introduce you to him?”

“Namjoon is painting him,” Yoongi said softly and took back the note card so he could read it.

I don’t know your size or anything, but I do hope the clothing fits.

The mask is handmade, original, no one else will have anything like it.

Kind regards, Kim Seokjin

“Wow, I’m jealous,” Jungkook said. “Taehyung wrote, he’s going to be back for the ball, so you have to come see us before you go inside. We’re going to the outside portion of the ball.”

Yoongi blinked down at the clothes and nodded absently. At some point, Jungkook left, and Yoongi was alone with things he felt like he didn’t deserve. However, after a moment of contemplation, he came to realize that he did deserve it. His entire life was the way it was because his father refused to acknowledge him. But that didn’t mean Yoongi wasn’t worthy.

And so all the rest of his worries about the ball faded away. He was going to go and he was going to look great, everyone else be damned.

*

Yoongi! Fuck, Yoongi.”

“C’mon, please, harder.”

“It doesn’t—shit—get any harder than this, sweetheart.”

“Stop calling me that or I’m gonna—I’m gonna come, shit oh my god, I’m gonna—”

“You gonna come from just having me inside you?”

“Yes! Yes, Hobi, you feel so good, I’m—”

Hoseok pushed into Yoongi once more before Yoongi was coming, hard, in thick ropes and shouting Hoseok’s name over and over.

They were at Yoongi’s loft, the day before the ball, because Hoseok had just shown up, asking to see Yoongi’s sculpture, but somehow, they ended up in bed instead. It was kind of embarrassing, Yoongi’s rickety old bed, but Hoseok didn’t seem to care even in slightest, especially not when Yoongi took him in his mouth and let him come for the first time down his throat.

And then, maybe minutes, maybe hours, later, they were fucking.

And Yoongi was begging and Hoseok was moaning and there was a good chance that if anyone was down in the tavern, they could hear them.

“Come inside,” Yoongi breathed. “You can, it’s okay.”

Hoseok kissed his lips, raw from all the kissing they’d already done and a few more thrusts later, he came with a groan muffled by the crook of Yoongi’s neck. Yoongi held Hoseok close while his body relaxed again and he could feel Hoseok’s eyelashes fluttering against his skin.

“Intense,” Hoseok murmured.

“Yeah.”

“Do you—are you good?”

“I’m great,” Yoongi said with a chuckle. “Except you’re kind of heavy and still inside me and…you know, there’s come in my ass.”

“You said—”

“Yeah, I did, but, get off me,” Yoongi said with a small smile. Hoseok kissed his lips and pulled out with a sigh. The bed creaked under him when he flopped down against the mattress.

“What’s being fucked like?” Hoseok asked and Yoongi blinked over at him.

Unable to control himself, a loud burst of laughter bubbled up and Yoongi covered his mouth with his hand. “Like how you would think it is,” Yoongi said.

“Wow, that’s so descriptive, thanks,” Hoseok said and kicked Yoongi in the leg.

“Maybe, if you want, I can show you, sometime,” Yoongi suggested. Then, he sat up and got out of the bed. “But you’ve already come twice and I just want to clean up.”

“Wait, let me, I’ll help,” Hoseok said, but Yoongi pushed him back down into the bed.

“I’ve got it Hoseokie.”

Hoseok frowned, but let Yoongi go anyway. He went to his crappy little bathing room and washed up. Even though the sex had been intense, and exhausting, Yoongi didn’t feel all that tired. He felt excited.

After cleaning up, he went to grab some little cookies that Jungkook had made and then brought them back to the bedroom while he nibbled on one.

In the bedroom, Hoseok was out of the bed and kneeling on the floor, looking under Yoongi’s desk. More specifically, he was looking at the box that had been delivered days earlier. The box from Kim Seokjin.

Hoseok was still completely naked, ass out, since he was bent over the Yoongi reached down and slapped it to announce his presence. As expected, Hoseok yelped and fell back. Yoongi smiled down at the blushing younger boy. “Stop doing that! Is that going to be your thing now? Every time we fuck you’re going to scare me? Maybe I just won’t fuck you anymore!” Hoseok said with a tremble to his voice.

“Oh no, whatever will I do?” Yoongi said sarcastically.

“Shrivel up and rot, probably,” Hoseok said and pulled Yoongi down onto the floor with him.

“I’ve gone twenty-two years without your dick up my ass, I think I could survive,” Yoongi said.

“Well now that you know what it’s like, no one else is as good, right?”

“Are you asking if you’re the best?”

“Mmm, no, I already know I am,” Hoseok teased, but then, before Yoongi could call him on his bullshit (which wasn’t really bullshit, sex with Hoseok was amazing), Hoseok pulled the box out from under the desk. “What’s this?”

“Oh…it’s for the ball tomorrow,” Yoongi admitted. “I want it to be a surprise, don’t open it.”

“What did you get?”

“I didn’t get anything. It was a gift.”

Hoseok’s face changed and he looked back to the box. “I should have…shit, I should have gotten you something. God, I’m such an idiot. You’re always giving me things and I don’t give you anything!”

Quickly, Yoongi cupped Hoseok’s cheeks. “Hey, you don’t have to give me anything! You’re enough, Seokie.”

“Who is it from, then?” he asked sadly.

“Oh,” Yoongi nudged the box away slightly. “Namjoon is painting Seokjin. He, likes us, I guess, and…gave me that stuff.” Hoseok’s face dropped and he made a sound of disgust. “What, you hate him now too?”

“I’ve always hated him,” Hoseok said and stood up.

Yoongi watched him from the floor as he flopped back onto the bed. “No you haven’t, you just hate him because Dawon does. And why does Dawon hate him, anyway? He’s perfectly nice.”

“Dawon hates him because she has to be married to him and she doesn’t want to be. He doesn’t want to be married to her, either. So, yes, I take her side and I hate him.”

“Dawon doesn’t even live with him,” Yoongi pointed out.

Hoseok was quiet. Too quiet. “Is that going to be me?” Hoseok asked. “I don’t want it to be me.”

Right, the engagement, Yoongi reminded himself.

Yoongi knew there was no way he could actually do anything to prevent the whole thing. He couldn’t prevent it and there really wasn’t much he could realistically say to make Hoseok feel better. So, he just got up off the floor and joined Hoseok back in the bed, pulling Hoseok’s arms around his waist so their bodies were curved together.

“Maybe I’ll paint you on your wedding,” Yoongi said, and Hoseok held him tighter.

“Yoongs?”

“Hmm?”

“Have you ever been in love?”

Yoongi found Hoseok’s hand and took it in a vice grip. “Yes,” he answered.

“Me too,” Hoseok replied instantly, without hesitation. It wasn’t a confession, not really, but Hoseok squeezed Yoongi’s hand just as tightly, and Yoongi thought that maybe his feelings over the past several years might just have been reciprocated the entire time.

*

Namjoon wouldn’t stop tugging at the collar of his shirt. It was making Yoongi itch, even though the collar of his shirt was lose and flowy and not bothering him at all. Namjoon’s was somewhat ruffled, a bit tighter around the neck and while it suited him, Yoongi could see how it could be uncomfortable. Yoongi was surprised Namjoon even agreed to come to the masquerade ball. He hadn’t said anything about it since Seokjin’s invitation.

“Stop touching your collar,” Yoongi finally snapped. “It’s driving me insane.”

“I finish Seokjin’s painting early and this is how he repays me,” Namjoon muttered to himself.

“I’m sure he gave you money, as well,” Yoongi replied.

“Well, yes, but, look at your outfit. It’s much better.”

“The pants are kind of big,” Yoongi said, trying to make Namjoon feel better.

“Yeah, that and I can see all the marks on your neck from your latest trysts,” Namjoon taunted. “Who is it, this time?”

“No one.”

“Right, you gave yourself those marks?”

Yoongi glared and stomped ahead of Namjoon, who simply laughed behind him.

People were already gathering outside the Jung’s and when Yoongi approached, he caught sight of Taehyung and Jungkook, who were drinking out of a little flask between themselves. They waved brightly at Yoongi, and Taehyung looked happy enough for Yoongi to decide that it was probably best not to ask how his family was right then.

Instead, he went to the door, which was open and stepped inside. He didn’t have a formal invitation, but Hoseok’s mother stood there greeting the guests, and she ushered Yoongi inside, gave him a small hug, and then told him to have fun before moving on to the next. Yoongi assumed Seokjin had put in word for Namjoon.

They were far from the first people to arrive, so the ballroom was already full and musicians were already playing. Yoongi held his mask and put it up to his face and tied the silk ribbon around the back of his head. He was excited to see Hoseok, and for Hoseok to see him.

Unfortunately, all the masks made it hard to tell who was who. Not everyone was wearing one though, and after a moment, Yoongi noticed Kim Seokjin in one corner with a glass of wine and Dawon in front of him. Dawon looked annoyed and she wasn’t meeting Seokjin’s eyes when she spoke.

Back near the drinks, Yoongi spotted Park Jimin nursing a glass of something or another. Yoongi definitely was going to leave him to that.

And finally, in the middle of the room, was Hoseok. He stood tall in some kind of long maroon cape and he wasn’t wearing a mask, instead he had the kind you hold, and it was clutched in his hand, hanging at his side. His other hand was preoccupied.

Preoccupied because he had his arm around a girl.

She too held her mask, so Yoongi could see her face clearly. She was slight and pretty and she was laughing at something Hoseok was saying. Her gown was lush and her skin was tan like Hoseok’s and they looked perfect standing next to each other. It wouldn’t have hurt so much if Hoseok didn’t look as happy as he did.

Part of Yoongi wanted to leave, but for whatever reason, he didn’t. Instead, he headed towards Dawon and Seokjin. As he approached, jealousy burning in his chest, he was able to hear Dawon and Seokjin’s conversation.

“We have our arrangement,” Dawon said. “I don’t care what you do or with who, so long as it isn’t my brother, obviously, because that’s gross, or his best friend.”

“It’s not your brother or Min Yoongi,” Seokjin muttered and crossed his arms.

“Then do what you want,” Dawon stated and when she turned around, she slammed into Yoongi’s chest. “Oh, you’re here,” she said, seemingly unaffected.

“Oh! The mask looks great! I knew it would, it suits your complexion and hair color,” Seokjin complimented. “Do you like it?”

“Yes, thank you,” Yoongi said. Then he turned to Dawon. “Is that her? The girl he’s engaged to?”

“Unofficially. They aren’t actually engaged yet,” Dawon said. “They won’t ever be if I have anything to say about it…but I don’t really, so…” She shrugged. “He certainly isn’t in love with her.”

“That doesn’t…make it easier,” Yoongi murmured and then tensed when Dawon put her hand on Yoongi’s shoulder.

“I know that my brother has feelings for you, Yoongi,” Dawon said, leaning in close so no one else could hear, other than maybe Seokjin. “But I also know the type of person my brother is, and…I did see her leaving his room earlier. It could have been nothing and I don’t even know for sure if he was in there. However, he cannot use you. Whatever relationship you decide to have with him, you need to know for sure what it entails.

“If he marries her, and you continue on with your relationship with him, then—”

“Stop,” Seokjin said, stepping between his wife and Yoongi. “He’s coming over here.”

“I’ll dance one dance with you,” Dawon said to Seokjin, taking his hand. “That is all.”

He sighed and put his arms around her. “I know you like me at least a little bit,” Seokjin said as they walked away and Hoseok approached.

Yoongi chewed on his bottom lip and looked Hoseok up and down, Hoseok doing the same with him. His eyes were glinting in the light casted by the chandeliers and Yoongi barely registered that Hoseok was holding out a drink for him.

“You look great, Yoongi,” Hoseok said lowly as a way of greeting.

“I don’t know if I can stay long, I want to deliver the sculpture to the Park’s home tonight,” Yoongi blurted out, even though it made no sense, considering the Park’s were at the ball right that minute, and would probably stay until the end.

“Oh, well, there’s something I want to do,” Hoseok said. “Also, I guess Seokjin has good taste, you look great, seriously. The mask suits you.” Hoseok reached out and touched the fabric of the shirt on Yoongi’s sleeve and then trailed his hand up until he was touching Yoongi’s neck gently. “The marks you left on me are still there, too.”

“Are you…did she see them?” Yoongi nodded towards Hoseok’s possible wife-to-be. She was eying them curiously.

“Huh? No, how would she have?”

“Dawon said she saw her leaving your room. Look, if we’re fucking and that’s all it is, then fine, but tell me so I don’t seem foolish.”

“Come with me,” Hoseok said and led Yoongi out of the ballroom without even a hint of subtly. He downed the rest of his drink and discarded the glass on a random table, while Yoongi’s own drink sloshed out of the glass and onto the floor.

Hoseok led Yoongi down hallway after hallway until they were in the back dining room, which was dark save for several torches. The table was primly set, even though Yoongi knew from Hoseok telling him, that the Jung’s rarely had family dinner anymore.

“What’re we doing? Everyone saw us leave together,” Yoongi said as Hoseok slunk down into the larger chair at the head of the table. He pushed off the cape he was wearing and tossed it onto the table over the plates and silverware before reaching out for Yoongi.

“Come here.”

Yoongi rolled his eyes, but settled himself in Hoseok’s lap, straddling him and letting Hoseok kiss him once on the lips.

“Why are we in here?”

“Because I don’t care about that girl. I don’t know why she was in my room earlier, but I’ve been down helping with preparations for tonight all afternoon. I wouldn’t have had time to fuck anyone, okay? And I don’t want to. I’m not…we aren’t just…” Hoseok fumbled for words and sighed. The flames of the torches flickered in the darkness and cast shadows across Hoseok’s face.

“Why didn’t you say anything earlier? Why now, when you’re potentially about to be married off?” Yoongi asked bluntly.

“Because if not now then it would be never,” Hoseok stated. “I know that’s selfish and I have no right to do this to you, but—”

“I love you,” Yoongi said loudly. His voice echoed off the high ceilings.

Hoseok didn’t say it back. Instead, he kissed Yoongi with a passion reserved for someone you care about deeply, so he didn’t need to say the words. That was what Yoongi told himself anyway.

That was what he told himself when Hoseok nudged them back to a standing position and wrapped his arms around Yoongi and whispered to him, “Dance with me,” even though they couldn’t hear the music. They swayed to the silence and even though Yoongi wanted to somehow capture the moment, he knew he would never be able to paint it in a way that did it justice.

There was no brush stroke or chisel that could encapsulate the way Yoongi felt. He could sit for hours behind a canvas and it would never, ever compare. He did sit behind canvases for hours, it had been done, and in a way, he wondered why he’d been wasting his time painting Hoseok when the real thing had been right there.

Hoseok wasn’t Yoongi’s whole world, but he was so engrained that Yoongi knew that without him, things would be significantly duller. There wouldn’t be red flowers or yellow suns anymore.

Yoongi continued to tell himself that everything was going to be okay when they eventually went back out to the ball, separately, Yoongi first and Hoseok after. Hoseok rejoined the girl, although, he seemed considerably less interested than Yoongi thought he was when he first arrived. That didn’t stop the girl from touching Hoseok’s arm and laughing brightly, nor did it stop them from dancing. Except, the entire time Hoseok had his arms around her, his eyes were locked with Yoongi’s.

“How will you be getting back to your lodgings?” Seokjin asked, approaching Yoongi suddenly.

Yoongi tore his gaze away from Hoseok and looked at Seokjin. “Walking. I’ll need to find Namjoon.”

Vaguely, in the background, Yoongi registered that the song being played ended and another began. “Well,” Seokjin said. “Namjoon is actually…coming with me?”

“Oh,” Yoongi deadpanned. “Okay, then.”

“I can have my coach take you home first, of course,” Seokjin said kindly.

“If it’s no trouble,” Yoongi replied.

“No, it’s—”

“Hey, Yoongs,” Hoseok interrupted from behind them. “You aren’t leaving, are you?”

“I was going to, soon, yes,” Yoongi said, causing Hoseok to pout.

“Can’t you…” Hoseok glanced up at Seokjin and scowled. “Where’s my sister?” he asked.

“I can go find her,” Seokjin suggested lamely.

“Yes, please do,” Hoseok said and he didn’t speak again until Seokjin was far away. “Can’t you stay?” he asked Yoongi. “Some other guests are staying the night, so it wouldn’t be strange if you stayed too.”

“That’s probably not a good idea, we aren’t untouchable,” Yoongi pointed out.

For a moment, it seemed like Hoseok might protest further, but he didn’t. He just nodded. “That’s okay, you’re right,” he relented, but then, he leaned forward so his mouth was almost brushing Yoongi’s ear. “I was gonna fuck you so good, though.”

“Hoseok,” Yoongi warned, although not very convincingly.

“I wanted to pin you up against the wall and fuck you from behind,” Hoseok continued while Yoongi blinked out in the crowded ballroom, his vision blurry and the images of what Hoseok was whispering in his ear flashing in his mind. “I’d go really slow, so you could feel every inch of me. You feel really good, you know? It’s hard for me to keep my hands off you, always has been.”

“Hoseok, what the fuck,” Yoongi muttered and tried to push him away, but Hoseok grabbed Yoongi’s hand, pinning it on Hoseok’s shoulder.

“I would turn you around and let you wrap your legs around my waist. Fuck you until you were begging to come.”

“Y-you’re a pervert,” Yoongi hissed.

“I’d let you come when you were screaming my name, when you got so messy and desperate.”

“What makes you think I’d let you?” Yoongi asked in response, his mouth working faster than his brain. “Maybe I would hold you down and ride you hard, until I came.”

Hoseok’s lips ghosted along the shell of Yoongi’s ear. “Mmm, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea, either.”

“I hope you have fun jerking off later, without me,” Yoongi said, the rest of the ballroom coming slowly back into focus.

Hoseok chuckled deeply in his ear and then stepped back and released Yoongi’s hand. “Get home safe.”

“I will.”

“Keep that mask,” Hoseok called after Yoongi when he retreated. “It really suits you.” He was probably winking, too, but Yoongi didn’t turn around to see.

*

“The Parks are unfortunately out right now,” the servant said with a small frown. “However, Park Jimin is around, I can fetch him if you’d like?”

Yoongi sighed and glanced back down the walk at the horse and cart he’d rented to transport the sculpture he’d finally finished. It bore a striking resemblance to Hoseok, but there was no way anyone would know that. It wasn’t like the thing had a head.

He really didn’t want to have to rent the horse and cart another day to bring the sculpture by, and the Park’s had already paid him. He might as well just leave it with Jimin. So, he told the servant as much and she nodded and left him in the doorway to go find the youngest Park.

Meanwhile, Yoongi took in the entryway, where he spotted another painting he’d done for them hanging. It depicted a large tree that grew on their land, and one of their pet dogs lounging at the base, red flowers blooming around it.

“How are we supposed to move that thing to our garden?” Jimin’s voice interrupted Yoongi’s gaze and thoughts.

“Oh,” Yoongi looked back at the sculpture. “I didn’t really consider that, I guess.”

Jimin rolled his eyes and then stepped out of the house. “I suppose we can take the horse and cart back there and just roll it onto the ground gently,” he suggested.

And so they did, silently, but efficiently, until the statue was standing in the middle of the garden proudly, surrounded by flowers.

“It looks good,” Jimin said, circling it. “You work fast.”

“I don’t have much else to do,” Yoongi explained.

“Except Jung Hoseok, right?” Jimin said, expressionless.

Yoongi glared back at him, but he didn’t respond. Would Hoseok have told Jimin about himself and Yoongi? Or was Jimin just making an assumption. It wasn’t like they’d been at it for very long, they’d only fucked properly twice, anyway. Hoseok hadn’t even told Yoongi he loved him.

Hoseok hadn’t even told Yoongi he loved him…

“What do you want from me?” Yoongi asked.

Jimin sighed and walked over to a bench within the bushes and sank down onto it, but Yoongi stayed where he was and folded his arms. “I don’t want anything from you,” Jimin said. “I just know what Hoseok is like, and I know that he won’t choose you.”

“I’m not stupid.”

“If he has to, he’ll marry that girl. I’m not saying he doesn’t care about you, because he does. He won’t fucking ever shut up about you, but…he’s not as defiant as his sister is,” Jimin continued. “Maybe I don’t know him as well as, or in the same way that you do, but…Hoseok wants to be able to follow his own heart, but for whatever reason he can’t.”

“Shit, are you in love with him?” Yoongi asked.

Jimin shook his head quickly. “No. Never have been. But he is my friend, and…well, you’re not, but—”

“Dawon already gave me this speech,” Yoongi snapped. “Enjoy your sculpture, okay?”

“Please be careful,” Jimin called even as Yoongi stalked away. “For both of your sakes.”

*

“No, you need to mix the red with it, blue will make the purple too dark,” Taehyung said to Jungkook patiently. “Although, the top of the sky would look good as a darker blue, if you were going for a sunset.”

“I’m not sure yet,” Jungkook replied.

Yoongi smiled fondly at the two younger boys. They were all huddled in Yoongi’s loft on the floor, several weeks after the ball, painting for fun, since it was raining outside and no one was really coming to the tavern and Namjoon wasn’t around to bother them until they worked on actual pieces.

And even better, Hoseok was there, too, because he’d come that morning and stayed when the rain started to pour. His head was rested on Yoongi’s shoulder while the two of them spread paint on a joint canvas.

“What’re we painting, exactly?” Hoseok asked softly.

“I don’t know,” Yoongi chuckled, looking inquisitively at the random streaks of color. “Abstract?”

“Hey Hobi, look it’s you,” Jungkook said and held up a charcoal drawing of a figure with a long face and a blatantly heart shaped mouth. “I can’t draw realistically like Yoongi,” Jungkook said with a sigh. He put his paper back down and sketched out something else before holding it up again. He seemed to have drawn a little image of Yoongi next to Hoseok, with a small heart between them.

“Oh, can I keep that?” Hoseok asked.

“Sure,” Jungkook slid the piece of paper over to them. Hoseok smiled at it and then folded it up and slipped it into the pocket of his pants.

“I hope it keeps raining for a long time,” Hoseok said softly and encircled Yoongi’s waist, pulling him closer. Yoongi could feel Taehyung and Jungkook’s eyes on them, but he didn’t care. They probably knew, as did Namjoon, but they were friends and Hoseok clearly wasn’t nervous about them knowing.

“You’ll get bored after a while,” Yoongi said.

He dipped his paintbrush into blue paint and then dotted it onto Hoseok’s nose. Hoseok didn’t miss a beat, and did the same with Yoongi, only with red. As cheesy as it was, Yoongi felt his heart flutter when Hoseok nudged his nose against Yoongi’s, mixing the paint. Only, instead of purple, the color turned out more blue, since the red paint wasn’t able to overpower the blue.

“We have leftover clay in the studio, would you want to try sculpting?” Yoongi heard Taehyung asking Jungkook. Their voices were distant, because Yoongi was looking right into Hoseok’s eyes.

“Yes! It’s raining though, we’ll get wet.”

“It’s a short walk, it won’t be too bad,” Taehyung said and stood up, offering his hand out for Jungkook. The youngest took his hand and they left without another word. The door to the loft clicked shut behind them and Hoseok curled in closer to Yoongi’s body.

They still had paint on their noses and hands, but the canvas on the floor in front of them was haphazard and didn’t have any clear focus. Still, Hoseok touched the edges of it like it was the most precious piece of art he’d ever laid hands on.

“What do you want to do now?” Yoongi asked, turning his head to the side so he could kiss the top of Hoseok’s head. His hair was sticking up. Yoongi liked him that way, not all prim and proper like he was at his home.

“Can we just keep painting?”

“Sure, I’ll go see if I have more canvas in my room,” Yoongi said. Before Yoongi got up, Hoseok captured his lips and Yoongi smiled into the kiss.

Yoongi then rushed to his room and grabbed some pieces of parchment and another canvas before returning to find Hoseok laying on his stomach and painting black streaks over the color. “How do you do it?” Hoseok asked. “You’re amazing. Everyone should know your name.”

“I’m content with just you and my friends knowing it,” Yoongi replied and lay down next to Hoseok.

The two of them stayed there on the floor until the sky got dark and it was too hard to see inside. It wasn’t raining anymore, not even a little bit, but Hoseok was wandering around the rooms like he didn’t want to leave, so Yoongi lit a lantern and the candles in his room and gestured for Hoseok to come with him.

“I can leave,” Hoseok said, but he was already sitting on the bed.

“Don’t.” And soon they were curled up under the thin blankets, where they had been spending a lot of time in the past several weeks (Yoongi lost count of how many times they’d slept together). They paled in comparison to Hoseok’s silk sheets, but they were also homier. “Are you hiding from something, here?” Yoongi asked in the dark.

Hoseok had his arm around Yoongi’s middle, slipped under his shirt to feel the warmth of his skin. “Only my responsibilities,” Hoseok answered.

“How long are you going to stay?”

“Hmm,” Hoseok hummed against Yoongi’s neck sleepily. “Forever.”

“Don’t be stupid.”

“Well if I could, I would,” Hoseok said.

But you can’t, Yoongi thought to himself. I know that. You know that. So why are we kidding ourselves?

That’s the final thought Yoongi had before he drifted off into a dreamless sleep, warm in Hoseok’s arms.

Hours later, he awoke similarly, except that Hoseok was sprawled out on his stomach, legs going out in either direction, and Yoongi was clinging to him like a koala, and Hoseok wasn’t wearing a top anymore, he must have taken it off in the night. When Yoongi inhaled sharply , Hoseok’s head turned to face him and blinked.

“You’re awake, finally,” Hoseok said obviously. “I’ve been awake for a while, but I didn’t want to wake you up.”

“Don’t you need to go home?” Yoongi grumbled into his flat pillow.

“It’s raining,” Hoseok said.

Yoongi rolled onto his back and listened for a moment. Everything was quiet, except for the light bustle of the village people below them. “No it isn’t,” Yoongi said. “What’re you talking about?”

Hoseok’s answer was to kiss Yoongi. And so fuck it if it wasn’t raining. Hoseok was still there and he still had a hint of paint on his nose and it was almost like they were meant to wake up together.

Hoseok shifted around on the bed until he was settled between Yoongi’s legs and his hands were sliding under Yoongi’s white shirt, bunching it up around his armpits. “Forever, Yoongi,” Hoseok whispered against his lips, causing a shiver to run down Yoongi’s spine.

And then Hoseok kissed his way down Yoongi’s neck, helped him out of his shirt, and kissed down to the soft skin of Yoongi’s stomach. His tongue darted out to sooth the marks he left with his teeth and Yoongi just lay there and breathed softly while Hoseok did his thing. One of Hoseok’s hands snaked up until he was grasping Yoongi’s.

“I just keep thinking about all the time we’ve wasted,” Hoseok mumbled.

“You s-shouldn’t,” Yoongi responded. “We have now.”

The pace after that was slow, Hoseok took his time kissing all over Yoongi’s body, before Yoongi flipped Hoseok onto his back and did the same. Hoseok worked Yoongi open while their lips slid together and when Hoseok finally entered him, as slow as it was, it knocked the breath out of Yoongi’s lungs. The whole thing was a lot less like fucking and a lot more like lovemaking.

Yoongi just wondered if it could be that when only one of them had actually said they loved the other.

It didn’t matter much, though, especially not when Hoseok was kissing Yoongi when they came, Hoseok spilling himself into Yoongi and clutching Yoongi’s hand like a lifeline. If there was a way to paint that moment, it would have been pastels, pink and green and yellow and all light and breezy.

There wouldn’t be any red or dark blue across that painting, but maybe there would be in its accompanying piece, because Hoseok pulled out and smirked before sliding down between Yoongi’s legs and pushing them up to Yoongi’s chest.

“I just came, what’re you—ah!” Yoongi jerked when Hoseok’s tongue circled his leaking entrance. Evidently, Hoseok had a thing. And that thing involved Hoseok’s tongue and come.

“Is it too much?” Hoseok asked, but he still licked a stripe up to Yoongi’s balls anyway.

“N-no,” Yoongi answered.

So he kept it up, curling his fingers back inside Yoongi and sucking and licking until Yoongi’s back was arching violently off the bed. It was wildly intimate, Yoongi was fairly sure he wouldn’t let just anyone put their face anywhere near his ass, but when Hoseok did it, it didn’t make him feel nervous, it was more arousing than anything else.

“Do you want to come again?” Hoseok asked. Yoongi looked down at him and groaned at the way Hoseok’s lips were slick with spit and semen and his cheeks were flushed red, as was his chest.

“Yeah, I can come again,” Yoongi nodded.

“Great,” Hoseok said cheekily and then went back to flicking his tongue in and out of that tight right of muscle. There wasn’t much hesitance, but Yoongi did notice that Hoseok was repeatedly glancing up at Yoongi to see if what he was doing was getting a good reaction. It was. Hoseok was a talker, but that wasn’t all his tongue was good for.

“Fuck, fuck, where’d you—why’re you so good at—” Yoongi couldn’t form coherent thoughts.

“Never done it before, actually,” Hoseok muttered. “Wasn’t sure you’d even like it.”

“I like it,” Yoongi answered and then yelped when Hoseok reached under him to prop him up and latched his mouth around Yoongi’s rim and sucked, hard, his tongue pushing inside at an unfairly deep angle. “Shit.”

Fuck Jung Hoseok, because he groaned and sent a plethora of vibrations through Yoongi’s body until he couldn’t take it anymore and grabbed his half hard cock, pumping it until he was fully hard again. Hoseok watched the movement and dug his blunt nails in the flesh of Yoongi’s thighs before teasingly circling Yoongi’s rim with the tip of his tongue.

When he pulled away, Yoongi glared down at him, only to watch Hoseok coat his own fingers with spit and press two back inside Yoongi and scissoring them apart for a moment and then slipping his tongue back in next to them. Eventually, one finger found Yoongi’s prostate and Yoongi started jerking himself faster. It was taking longer because he’d already come once, if that weren’t the case he probably would have already lost his shit.

“Fuck Hoseok. The tongue stuff is supposed—god—to be my thing,” Yoongi muttered.

Hoseok moved away again with an obscene slurping sound. “I can always stop, sweetheart.”

Ah, there it is.

“If you stop I’ll never put my mouth anywhere near your dick again,” Yoongi threatened weakly.

“Mean.”

But he kept going anyway. Wet and messy until Yoongi felt like he was having some kind of out of body experience. When he came, it hit him suddenly and Hoseok’s mouth was on him—when did that happen—and his back was curved, hips in the air.

“That was fun,” Hoseok said after he swallowed. “Did you have a good time?”

“What do you think?”

“I think I need something to drink,” Hoseok said, but he licked his lips suggestively.

“I’m not moving,” Yoongi declared.

“That’s okay, I’ll be back in a second. I’ll just sneak downstairs.”

Yoongi half expected Hoseok to just run off, but he didn’t. He stayed true to his word, and a few minutes later, he was bounding back into the bedroom, dressed again, with a batch of something Jungkook must have made. It seemed to be cookies, and Hoseok offered Yoongi one when he sat cross-legged next to him in bed.

“Jungkook is so nice. Why does he work down in a tavern?” Hoseok asked thoughtfully. Yoongi sat up and looked around for his clothes, but they were on the floor and he didn’t want to go get them.

“His parents died when he was young, I think. He’s been working since, but managed to get a steady position at the tavern, since he’s so good with people, drunk or not,” Yoongi explained.

“Huh. Interesting,” Hoseok murmured. “My mother’s parents died when she was young, she was raised by her grandparents before she met my father.” Yoongi watched Hoseok as he spoke, the way, when he paused to chew, his little dimples appeared and disappeared. It was adorable. “My mother actually grew up out in the middle of nowhere. Her father was wealthy, but gave it up to be with her mother, who wasn’t.”

“That’s brave.”

“She still owns the property, I’ve seen the documents,” Hoseok said, softer. “My father doesn’t know about the land, and I’m sure my mother has forgotten about it. It’s just still in her name.”

“What’s your point?”

“There’s plenty of room for…you know…some cows?” Hoseok said with a small smile. Yoongi cocked his head, not understanding. “And us,” Hoseok blurted out. “Plenty of room for us.”

“Oh,” Yoongi breathed. “I don’t…I don’t know, Hobi.”

“Why?”

“Because, I have a life here, you know? Friends, my art. How would we survive? I don’t know how to grow food?”

“We can learn,” Hoseok urged and scooted closer, abandoning a half-eaten cookie on the bed sheets. “I don’t want to stay here.”

“I can’t imagine that you really want to go,” Yoongi admitted. “I think you just like the idea of it.”

Hoseok looked hurt, but he didn’t say anything. He just shifted around on the bed until he was sitting next to Yoongi again. His lip was tucked between his teeth and Yoongi wanted to say something else, something that would make it better. He wanted to tell him he loved him, again, but he knew that Hoseok wouldn’t say it back, for whatever reason. So, he kept the words to himself and took Hoseok’s hand instead.

*

There were things that needed to be done, art that needed to be worked on, paintbrushes to clean, and a certain Kim Taehyung to teach. Since Namjoon was otherwise preoccupied (presumably with Kim Seokjin, but who was Yoongi to judge) Yoongi had to do most of those things. Which meant that he couldn’t spend every waking moment with Hoseok, even though he really wanted to.

It would have been easier if Hoseok weren’t still hanging at Yoongi’s home, over a week later. But he was, and it was nice to come home every night to Hoseok, even if the fact that he was staying could prove problematic. He did clean the place up though and Yoongi wondered if he was trying to prove something.

“Do you and Hoseok want to come out with me and Jungkook tonight?” Taehyung ask as he and Yoongi were cleaning up after a day of painting. “We were going to go see a play in the center of town.”

“Probably not,” Yoongi answered. “Hoseok can’t really just go walking around with us, anymore. It doesn’t look good.”

“Did you ever think that you’re the only one who’s afraid that people think those kinds of things? I don’t think it bothers Hoseok.”

“I’m afraid because those things are true,” Yoongi hissed.

“Oh,” Taehyung murmured and looked down at the dusty ground. “Well, my point still stands. Maybe you’re just afraid. Of what, I don’t know.”

“You don’t know anything about me,” Yoongi snapped suddenly, causing Taehyung to flinch.

“Maybe not,” Taehyung said. “But you can’t hide behind a canvas forever. Real life isn’t all pretty colors and sunsets and fields of flowers.”

Yoongi turned away from his apprentice. “You can go,” he said shortly.

Taehyung huffed and walked past Yoongi and out into the summer heat. Once he was gone, Yoongi gathered up the rest of his things and stalked back to the tavern, not bothering to give Jungkook even a wave as he went up the stairs to his loft.

“Hoseok?” he called as he dropped art supplies down by the door.

“I’m—ow! –I’m in the bath!” Hoseok yelled.

“Why?”

“Because I wanted to take a bath?” Hoseok called back. “Something keeps poking me, what’s wrong with your tub?”

“Nothing, maybe there’s a bug,” Yoongi called back, deadpan.

“What?” Hoseok shrieked. “That’s not—woh woh woh!” The sound of Hoseok’s shouting reverberated off the walls and Yoongi made his way to the tiny bathing room to find Hoseok half-submerged in water, crouching and sloshing the water around with his hand. Water was also pooling on the floor.

“There’s a blunt piece of metal that sticks out in the back by where you were presumably sitting,” Yoongi said and Hoseok jumped and looked at him. “That’s probably what you felt.”

“I hate you,” Hoseok muttered and sunk back down in the water.

“Do we have any food? Do I need to sneak down and steal some from the tavern?” Yoongi asked as he leaned against the door frame, watching the rivulets of water slid down Hoseok’s upper half and into the water.

“Jungkook gave me some earlier,” Hoseok answered. “Wanna come in with me?”

“I’m covered in paint, I’ll turn the water grey or something,” Yoongi answered. Still, he came up behind Hoseok and put his hands firmly on the younger’s shoulders and began to knead the flesh in his hands. Not that it was needed, Yoongi was certain that he himself was more wound up than Hoseok was, since Hoseok was the loosest person ever. But he did it anyway, because Hoseok sighed contently and closed his eyes.

“That feels good, Yoongs,” Hoseok murmured.

“How much longer are you going to stay here?” Yoongi asked. “Not that I’m complaining, just wondering.”

“I told you,” Hoseok replied. “Forever.”

Yoongi laughed and bent over to kiss Hoseok’s head. “Okay, but you’re going to have to do more than just do a half-assed cleaning job. More than that and more than fucking me, because that’s great and all, but, you know, I don’t exactly reel in the money here, Hoseokie.”

“Mhmm,” Hoseok murmured.

Yoongi knelt down so he was on his knees and trailed his hands down Hoseok’s chest, stopping briefly to thumb over his nipples and then farther down so his hand disappeared into the water. Hoseok jerked under his touch.

“What do you do all day when I’m gone?”

“Help Jungkook downstairs,” Hoseok mumbled. When Yoongi stopped moving, Hoseok sighed and rolled his eyes. “I mean, I sit here and wish you would come home. That’s what I do all day, miss you.”

Yoongi laughed, but before he could touch Hoseok’s dick, a voice rang out through the loft. “Excuse me, is anyone here?”

Hoseok froze and practically flung Yoongi off himself. “That’s my fucking sister, holy fuck,” Hoseok said and looked around for something to put on.

“Relax. I’ll see what she wants. Just go to the bedroom, she won’t be able to see you from the main room, I’ll try and take her downstairs.”

Hoseok nodded and Yoongi left him there, drying his hands on his pants. Sure enough, Jung Dawon stood in the doorway, dressed in a discreet cloak that shadowed her long black hair. “I’m sorry to intrude,” she said politely. “It’s nice to see you, Yoongi.”

“Who let you up here?” Yoongi asked.

“The boy downstairs.”

“Jungkook. He isn’t supposed to do that. Let’s go back down there, it’s terrible up here,” Yoongi said and Dawon nodded. Once they reached the bottom of the stairs, though, she folded her arms and looked at Yoongi crossly.

“I’m here to get Hoseok,” she said simply.

“What makes you think he’s here?” Yoongi answered.

“Because where else would he be? My parents have been worried sick for the past week and whatever. I’ve covered for him, but I can’t anymore,” Dawon said. “He can’t hide out here and expect that to work. Besides, Park Jimin already told my parents that…well, that Hoseok would likely be here, with you. You’re lucky I convinced them to let me come get him. My father was not happy. Frankly, I’m afraid of what’s going to happen when Hoseok gets home, but I don’t know what to do.”

“Park did what?” Yoongi hissed. “That asshole!”

“He is here, then, isn’t he?” Dawon urged. “Please send him down. He can’t hide here, as I said. I would love for him to be able to, I know he doesn’t want to marry that girl.”

“I thought it wasn’t official?”

“He didn’t tell you? It is now. That’s…that’s probably why he’s here, Yoongi,” Dawon said and reached out to touch Yoongi’s arm lightly. “She’s already agreed. The wedding is to happen by the end of the summer. I mean, I suppose you and Hoseok don’t have to quit what you’re doing, but I have been in a marriage like that for several years and it isn’t exactly easy.”

“Oh my god,” Yoongi turned away. “I’m…”

“I wish there was something I could do. Maybe kept a better eye on my little brother all those years ago so he never bumped into you at the market. Would have saved us all a lot of trouble.”

“It’s not—Don’t say that,” Yoongi snapped and turned on his heel. He stormed back up the stairs with purpose and when he got to the bedroom, Hoseok was dressed and sitting on the edge of the bed, his leg bouncing nervously.

“What happened? Does she know I’m here?” Hoseok asked.

“What the fuck do you think?” Yoongi snarled. “Your best fucking friend ever told on us. Your parents know. Your sister knows. Hell, the entire village probably knows.”

Hoseok startled at Yoongi’s raised tone. “I never told him anything!”

“Well, he’s observant,” Yoongi snapped.

“Why are you so angry?” Hoseok stood.

“Because, your sister told me something else interesting, that you are, officially, engaged? That’s funny though, because I don’t remember you mentioning that to me, while we were playing house and fucking and whatever the hell else!” Yoongi shouted. He felt embarrassingly close to tears, but they weren’t falling. Yet.

“I don’t love her! It doesn’t matter!” Hoseok shouted back.

Yoongi steeled himself and took a deep breath. “Do you love me?”

Hoseok’s face was red, an angry flush, and his hands were balled at his sides so hard his knuckles were turning blue.

“What do you want, Yoongi?” Hoseok asked.

“Are you going to do it? Marry her? Fulfill your duty as the Jung’s only son?”

“I don’t know what to do!”

“Answer me, then,” Yoongi said calmly. “Do you love me, or not?”

“I can’t,” Hoseok said softly. “I can’t say, it’s unfair to you. You’re right, I…don’t have anywhere to go other than back home if you won’t…” Hoseok looked out the window and took a shaky breath. “It isn’t fair to tell you. So. No. I don’t.”

The lie was so blatant that it hurt as much as it would have if it were the truth. “Forget about fair.”

“Of course I do!” Hoseok practically shrieked. “But who am I to tell you something like that and then…go off and marry someone else?”

“But it’s okay for you to have sex with me?”

Hoseok covered his face with his hands. His hair was still damp and his body shook and Yoongi wished he could just pull him into a hug, but he couldn’t.

“Min Yoongi,” Hoseok said. “I love you.”

Yoongi blinked.

“It still hurts, doesn’t it?” Hoseok asked.

“I won’t be the person you come to in the middle of the night as a secret, only for you to slip away in the morning and go back to your real life,” Yoongi whispered.

“I won’t ask you do be that,” Hoseok said. “But I do, I do love you, Yoongi.”

“I love you, too,” Yoongi said without looking at Hoseok, and instead down at the floor.

“I’m sorry.”

“Me too.” And then, “You should go.”

Hoseok opened his mouth, but he seemed to know that there wasn’t much more he could say. So, he walked past Yoongi. If Yoongi had turned, he would have seen Hoseok hesitating at the door, but he didn’t turn so he didn’t see and when he finally did move, Hoseok was gone.

Yoongi felt like a little kid again, standing in a mass of people, lost and confused, unsure of which direction to go in.

*

Min Yoongi needed someone to blame. Blame for what, he wasn’t sure, exactly, because at the end of the day the downfall of his relationship with Hoseok was mainly his fault, considering he knew he shouldn’t have started it to begin with. However, he needed someone to blame that wasn’t himself.

And none other than Park Jimin was a perfect candidate.

Which was why Yoongi found himself stalking around the back of the Park large estate, heading for the garden. There was no way he was actually going to pound on their door and expect Park Jimin to specifically be the one who answered. In fact, Yoongi didn’t really have a solid plan at all.

It clicked, though, when he saw his statue standing proudly in the garden. He wanted to destroy it. So much so that he didn’t notice Jimin sitting on the bench nearby. His ears were ringing so much that he didn’t hear Jimin call his name, either, not until he was right up close to the statue and his hands were braced on the chest of the headless figure and Jimin was trying to pull him back.

Anger must have fueled him, because Yoongi somehow managed to push the statue over, so that it toppled onto the rock pathway. It landed with a loud bang and the arms snapped off, and they were light enough for Yoongi to bend over and pick up.

He whirled around and threw them as hard as he could across the garden and one landed in some shrubbery and the other landed farther down the walkway, where it broke into several pieces.

“What are you doing?” Jimin shouted.

Yoongi’s chest rose and fell and he finally turned to the other male, hate and fire in his eyes. It was dark, Yoongi had the sense to wait until nightfall, so it was hard to see Jimin completely, but he certainly didn’t look happy.

“You told them where he was,” Yoongi hissed.

“No! I told them he might be with you! Might,” Jimin shouted in response. “I didn’t tell them you and him were screwing!”

“Right, because you aren’t in love with him so why would you try and sabotage what I had with him?” Yoongi asked sarcastically. “Maybe because you hate me? Or maybe because you are in love with him. I don’t know, hell, I don’t even care!” Yoongi’s throat burned as his voice got louder and louder.

“I care about him, and did you really think it could work between the two of you? You’re smarter than that,” Jimin said. “It’s going to happen to all of us, he isn’t some exception. The world isn’t taking him away from you. It’s not a punishment. I’m going to have to marry someone I probably won’t want to marry too. It’s just the way it is,” Jimin continued. “I’m sorry, okay. I really am.”

Something hot was trailing down Yoongi’s face, and he realized he was finally crying. Of fucking course he would start crying in front of Jimin, of all people. “Stop pretending to be nice to me,” Yoongi croaked.

“I’m not pretending. And I’m not in love with Hoseok, either, stop saying that. I’m just…realistic,” Jimin snapped and then looked over at the broken statue. “It doesn’t even look all that bad without arms. I’ll just…prop it back up. You need to get out of here before my parents wake up.”

Jimin placed his hand lightly on Yoongi’s arm and tried to guide him out, but Yoongi jerked away. “I know the way,” he snapped.

Jimin sighed and nodded. “I really am sorry,” he repeated. “For everything.”

And maybe if Yoongi hadn’t been so angry, he would have understood what Jimin was trying to say. But he didn’t understand, so he left, kicking a broken piece of the sculpture off the path. When he got back to his loft, he painted a canvas black.

*

“Oh, I didn’t think you would be here,” Namjoon said when he stepped into the studio. Yoongi turned back and glanced at him before turning back to the painting he had started that morning. It depicted a crowded day at the market.

“Why wouldn’t I be here? I didn’t expect to see you,” Yoongi replied.

“I thought…that you would be upset about what’s going on with Hoseok. It’s only been about twenty four hours, after all,” Namjoon explained. “Especially since the wedding is happening as soon as possible.”

“Who told you that?” Yoongi asked nonchalantly.

“Seokjin.”

“Oh, of course,” Yoongi muttered. “Is that a good idea?”

“Probably not,” Namjoon admitted. “But really, are you okay? Hoseok is going to be married any day now, we don’t know the exact date, but it has to be soon.”

“I’m fine,” Yoongi said, the lie thick on his tongue, but coming out convincing.

“Well, if you need to talk, I’m here for you, always,” Namjoon said. “So is Taehyung.”

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Yoongi stated. “We fucked a couple of times and that was it. We can’t anymore and I’m fine about it.”

“He was your best friend,” Namjoon said.

“Yeah?”

“I mean…are you going to see him again?”

“Probably not.”

Namjoon sighed in exasperation. “You’re so terrible at pretending not to have any emotions. We all know you care about people deeply. I don’t believe a word that’s coming out of your mouth, but I won’t pry. I’ll let you come to me.”

“I won’t,” Yoongi said. He set down his paintbrush and stepped back from the painting he was working on. The people were a messy blur and the sky was too dark and there was a smudge of white paint in the corner that somehow threw the whole thing off.

On the main table in the center of the studio, was a sharp pallet knife. Yoongi picked it up and, without hesitation, jabbed it into the canvas and dragged it down with a loud rip that caused Namjoon to jump. “What did you do?” Namjoon asked.

“I didn’t like it,” Yoongi said plainly. “I couldn’t look at it anymore.”

“Yoongi—”

“Is Taehyung going to be here soon? I think I’m done for the day,” Yoongi said. Namjoon nodded dumbly and Yoongi tossed the pallet knife back onto the table where it skidded off to the floor. He didn’t bother to pick it up, he just left the studio. Left the torn canvas on the easel, and maybe he even tried to leave a part of himself there.

It didn’t work though, because when he got back to his loft, he still felt wrong. Wrong, confused and unresolved.

Not that he could go to the Jung’s though. They’d never let me past the front door…and if they caught me there…

So Yoongi did what he could, what he knew how to do. He tried to act like everything was normal and utterly fine. He’d gone extended periods of time without seeing Hoseok. It was all good. He forced the image of Hoseok and that nameless girl getting married out of his head and he painted at home, sat down in the tavern with Jungkook, and entertained Taehyung. He did anything and everything possible so that he wasn’t thinking about Jung Hoseok.

It was a terribly hard thing to do, when his dreams were plagued with his laughter and Yoongi’s friends kept looking at him like he was going to snap any second. And it was especially difficult when days (Yoongi didn’t know how many) after the argument, after the last time he’d seen Hoseok, Jungkook came up to the loft with a sullen, serious expression on his young face.

“There’s…some people here to talk to you,” Jungkook said.

“Who?”

“I think Hoseok’s parents,” Jungkook whispered.

“What? Why?” Yoongi asked, feeling his stomach flip-flop.

“I don’t know, but I’ll stay with you, down there,” Jungkook said. “I’ll kick their butts.”

“Calm down,” Yoongi said. “I’m sure everything is fine.”

Jungkook followed Yoongi closely, anyway, as he made his way down the stairs. The tavern was quiet, empty, and Yoongi wondered if the Jung’s had cleared it out when they got there.

Yoongi saw Hoseok’s mother first. Her nose was turned up as she looked around the tavern in distaste. Her husband, on the other hand, didn’t look as taken aback by his surroundings, but he did look angry. Yoongi had little interaction with Hoseok’s father, most likely because Hoseok’s father knew Yoongi’s father, and Yoongi was, essentially, a disgrace. The whole thing was fucked up and Yoongi wanted to vomit.

“Can I help you?” he asked, forcing his voice to be steady.

“Send him down,” Hoseok’s mother said without any kind of greeting or pretense. Yoongi could feel Jungkook hovering behind him like a bodyguard.

“Send who down? Why’re you here?” Yoongi asked. “Can’t you all just leave me alone?”

“Listen,” Hoseok’s father said, “We aren’t playing around, boy. This is very serious and you’re lucky we’ve been discreet up until now. Send Hoseok down.”

“Hoseok isn’t here,” Yoongi replied. “Why would he be, he’d getting married, isn’t he?”

“Tomorrow,” Hoseok’s mother said. Yoongi’s heart lurched. “Or at least, he is meant to. We can’t find him. He’s missing.”

“He isn’t here. You’re welcome to go up there and look,” Yoongi pointed behind him.

“I will,” Hoseok’s father muttered. He pushed past both Jungkook and Yoongi, causing the two of them to stumble apart. Yoongi heard his door being flung open and he flinched at the damage he was surely going to see once Hoseok’s father was done.

“I haven’t seen Hoseok at all, since…since Dawon came to get him,” Yoongi said. “I don’t know where he could be.”

“I’m sorry,” Hoseok’s mother said, and then she glanced at Jungkook. “May I have a word with Yoongi for a moment?”

“No, whatever you have to say to him, you can say in front of me,” Jungkook said firmly.

“It’s fine, Kookie, I’m okay,” Yoongi said softly, a ‘thank you’ in his eyes. Jungkook sighed and nodded before backing off, not enough to really be considered privacy, but enough to give the illusion of it.

“You made Hoseok very happy,” Hoseok’s mother whispered. “He always smiled the brightest when you were around, or when he spoke of you. Were you—did you love him?”

Yoongi new better than to answer. He always knew better. But he still did everything he knew he shouldn’t have. “Yes. I still do.”

“I am certain he felt the same, despite the circumstances.”

“I know he did. I really do,” Yoongi said softly. “And I’m…it’s sad the way things have to be, but I understand.”

“I’m so sorry. I want my son to be happy, Yoongi. I wish that he could be. My daughter is miserable, and now my son may very well be too. It’s unfortunate, the way this world of ours works.”

“I know, I—”

Yoongi was cut off my heavy footsteps clunking down the stairs. “He isn’t there,” Hoseok’s father announced. “Let’s go. He has to be somewhere.”

They left in a hurry, Hoseok’s mother casting one last apologetic look over her shoulder and Jungkook placing his hand on Yoongi’s shoulder protectively, even though he was younger and the one who needing protecting. Yoongi was left with an overwhelming sense of dread and worry.

Hoseok wasn’t the type to run away. Not like this. Not without telling anyone.

Not without telling me.

*

He had always been beautiful.

Out of everyone that Yoongi had ever known, Jung Hoseok burned the brightest. He was a flurry of reds and oranges and yellows, daring everyone in his wake to look at him. And, like the sun, he was hard to look at for long, or you might just be captured forever. His smile was blinding and his laugh like a clear sky, his skin a summer day and his voice a bird song.

Even as a child, Yoongi had felt the heat he emitted, and Yoongi had been hesitant to stand too close, for fear of being burned.

Later on, Yoongi touched the flame and let it engulf him with what it had to offer. He let the red paint smother the blues on his canvas until it turned a deep purple, before eventually being overtaken by the red until that was all there was.

The black canvas, that darkness that lingered, the emptiness, it was pushed far back by the red. By the orange. By the yellow.

So, perhaps it was fitting.

Perhaps the whole affair was why Yoongi felt a sense of de je vu when, later that evening, long after Hoseok’s parents had left, Namjoon came in, out of breath and delivered news to Yoongi and Yoongi was not surprised. At least, not at first.

He heard what Namjoon said, loud and clear, but it wasn’t sinking it. He just nodded and when Namjoon tugged on his arm and pulled him outside, down the streets, and somehow, to the Jung’s home. Taehyung was there, standing far off behind them on the road, and so was Seokjin, giving Namjoon and Yoongi a sympathetic look as he stood by Jung Dawon, who was holding the long sleeve of her dress over her mouth, a glint in her eyes that might have been tears.

The house loomed over them, but that wasn’t what they were meant to be looking at. What they, and everyone else that had gathered around, was mean to be looking at was the stables, far off to the right of the estate itself.

Yoongi remembered very little about the stables, he’d been in them once, when he and Hoseok were nineteen or twenty, and it had only been because Hoseok stole some of his father’s most expensive liquor and he wanted someone to drink it with. Other than that, Yoongi was fairly sure that Hoseok didn’t even go in the stables very often. He preferred to walk over riding, and even when he did ride, he didn’t hang around in the stables for extended periods of time.

So, Yoongi was confused as to why everyone was so worked up.

That, and he was confused as to why the sky was thick with grey smoke. Grey smoke that rose from intense orange flames that engulfed the stables. They were far away, but Yoongi could taste the smoke in his mouth and feel the heat anyway. He watched the flames as they licked the blue sky and consumed the stables with a violence like nothing else he’d ever seen. Vaguely, he made out shapes near the stables, hauling buckets of water into the flames. Vaguely, he heard Namjoon saying something, and someone was screaming something.

“What’s going on?” Yoongi heard himself ask, the ultimate delayed response.

“Yoongi, it’s going to be okay, they’re putting the fire out,” Namjoon said.

“I don’t care if the Jung’s stables burn,” Yoongi muttered. “Why did you bring me here?”

He looked back up at the sky, cloudless and endless blue, being consumed with the red flames and turning everything grey. He could have laughed at the irony of it all, were he not so confused.

“They think someone is inside, Yoongi,” Namjoon said. “They think Hoseok is inside.”

“No,” Yoongi said calmly. “Why would he be in there?”

“Yoongi, listen to me,” Namjoon said, but Yoongi was transfixed by the flames, a small smile playing across his features. Hoseok’s form dancing in his mind.

Namjoon was still speaking, but someone was screaming again, and it tore Yoongi out of his drift. He looked around and spotted a girl, the girl, the same one from the masquerade ball, standing with Hoseok’s parents and sobbing into her hands. It was that image that made Yoongi snap.

“Wait,” he said. “No. No, he can’t be in there. Oh my god,” Yoongi took a step forward, but Namjoon grabbed his arm and Yoongi tripped and collapsed onto his knees. It hurt, and he felt rocks on the road digging into his flesh.

Hours may have passed, he didn’t know. He just knew that eventually, the fire was out. The red flames were gone and the blue sky was grey with smoke and the oncoming nightfall. And even more noticeable was the black mass that used to be the stables. It was mainly just ash, but it was so deep, so dark, that Yoongi felt like the fire had consumed him too, when he looked at it.

It seemed like hands had come up from the ground and rooted him there. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t go closer. He could just sit there and breathe in the smoke. He wanted it to suffocate him.

“They’re looking through the rubble now,” Yoongi heard Seokjin say. Dawon was no longer by his side, but rather, out towards the stables, with her parents, looking through everything. There was something odd about the way she held herself in comparison to everyone else, but Yoongi was too overwhelmed to place it.

“This isn’t real,” Yoongi mumbled. “This isn’t real.”

“It’ll be okay.”

“Anything they find in there is going to be burned beyond recognition,” Seokjin murmured.

Not helping,” Namjoon said between gritted teeth. Yoongi felt Namjoon’s hands on his shoulders as his friend knelt down next to him. “Hey, are you with us?”

“Yes,” Yoongi answered. No.

And then, abruptly in the mournful silence, another scream ripped through the air. This time it came from Hoseok’s mother, as she threw herself into her daughter’s arms. Hoseok’s father on the other hand spoke firmly to a servant, no emotion on his face at all.

Yoongi felt his heart pounding in his chest. He felt himself begin to shake, rack with sobs. Because he knew. He knew what that scream meant. He knew it even before Dawon managed to pry herself away from her mother and stumble over to Seokjin and Namjoon.

He knew before Dawon spoke.

“They found a body,” she said. Tears streaked down her face, but she didn’t look…right. She didn’t look devastated. Maybe it just hadn’t hit her properly yet.

“I-Is it him?” Yoongi stuttered.

“His rings were not burned away completely,” Dawon said softly. “It is him.”

Yoongi cried. He cried a lot, but he didn’t really hear anything after that. He did feel Namjoon pull him to his feet and he did meet Dawon’s eyes, once. They were devoid of tears and she opened her mouth as if to speak, but then she clamped it shut and turned away.

With Taehyung and Namjoon’s help, Yoongi managed to get back to his loft. He managed to get in bed, but he only sobbed harder when he swore he could smell Hoseok in the sheets. He sobbed harder when he closed his eyes and imagined Hoseok’s arms around him, his lips on the back of his neck and his voice in his ear. And harder still at the memories of them as children, of the way Hoseok made him laugh, and the summers laying out in the sun.

He drifted off with the image of a purple sky blinding behind his eyelids.

He had always been beautiful. His body, his smile, his heart.

*

“Yoongi. Yoongi, there’s a letter for you,” Jungkook said. “It’s been here for days but you kept shouting at me to leave every time I tried to bring it up to you. You aren’t yelling at me now, which is a good sign, I think. Would you like your letter?”

“Who is it from?” Yoongi mumbled into his pillow. He was pretty sure he hadn’t left his bed in days. Everything was fuzzy.

“I’m not sure. There isn’t a name on it,” Jungkook said. “But the envelope paper looks kind of like the paper you got from Kim Seokjin that one time.” Yoongi groaned and rolled over onto his back before pushing himself into a sitting position. Jungkook looked at him with pity and it made Yoongi feel worse. “Are you going to go to the funeral?”

“It hasn’t happened yet?”

“No. It’s tomorrow morning.”

“I’m probably not welcome,” Yoongi murmured and took the letter from Jungkook. “I’ve already said goodbye, anyway.”

“Well, Namjoon and Taehyung say hi, and that they hope you feel better soon. I told them of course you don’t feel better, and probably won’t for a while, but they wanted me to pass on the message anyway.”

“Tell them I’m doing…as expected,” Yoongi responded and Jungkook nodded before leaving the room.

With shaking hands, Yoongi tore open the envelope and pulled out the light pink piece of paper inside. The writing on the stationary was delicate and precise, but distinctly not Kim Seokjin’s. Yoongi rubbed his eyes and started to read.

Min Yoongi,

I suppose I should have spoken to you right then and there, but I wanted to be discreet and you seemed very, understandably, upset. So, I write you this letter by way of explanation, in some ways.

I am staying with my husband, although we are not truly married. He is a good man, I know this, and I know he would never do anything to harm me. Sometimes love is funny that way, because while we are not in love, I can say that I love Seokjin, in some way or another.

It is not, however, in the way that you loved my brother. It is nowhere near that powerful. Hoseok’s love for you, too, was something I saw even when you two were young. This is why he could not marry that girl. Yes, I call her simply ‘that girl’. I don’t properly know her, and I suppose now I never will.

Anyhow, I am rambling now. There are many things that Hoseok has left behind here, and my parents are too distraught to do anything about it. So, I will be going to Hoseok’s chambers every day for the next few days to go through everything. I want you to come.

Please come and speak with me, I have something important to tell you, and you also deserve to have all of the art you gave to him. He adored it. So, again, please come to our home, just once, to see me. I will explain more in person.

Jung Dawon.

Yoongi folded the paper back up and looked around his room. It was so lifeless.

Truthfully, Yoongi didn’t want to go to the Jung’s, but another part of him felt like he had to. So, he forced himself out of bed, and he forced himself to clean up and get dressed and make his way down to the tavern.

“Oh! Where are you going?” Jungkook asked.

“Hoseok’s sister wants to see me,” Yoongi mumbled. “I’ll be back soon, Kookie. Hold down the fort.”

“I will!” Jungkook called after Yoongi.

The walk to the Jung’s was long, and hot, because it was still summer and the sun still beat down and Yoongi shielded his eyes with his hand while he walked. Some people on the street gave him glances, but he ignored it, because people would always look and there was no point in giving them the satisfaction of being offended, especially not when tears still prickled in his eyes.

When Yoongi arrived and knocked lightly on the door, he wondered if that had been a mistake, but Dawon quickly answered the door and pulled him inside. “My mother is wracked with sadness and hasn’t left bed,” Dawon said. “My father, well, we don’t talk about what he does to grieve.”

“What—why am I here, exactly? I got your letter,” Yoongi said.

“Good, I was starting to think you weren’t going to come at all,” Dawon said with a small smile. She headed for the stairs and Yoongi followed quickly after her.

“This is weird, you’re being weird,” Yoongi deadpanned.

“Did you know—well I guess you didn’t—that one of our stable hands got into an accident that day? The day of the fire?” Dawon asked.

“Huh? No, what does that have to do with anything?”

“I was out walking across the land when I found him. He must have fallen off the horse and hit his head. I knew he didn’t have any family,” Dawon continued. “And, yes, perhaps it was wrong, but, I saw an opportunity and I took it. It wasn’t hard to put one of Hoseok’s rings on the man’s finger and start to fire.”

“Wait,” Yoongi stopped on the stairs. “Are you telling me Hoseok…Hoseok isn’t dead?”

Dawon smiled and winked. “Hoseok isn’t very sneaky, never has been, that’s always been my thing,” Dawon said. “I don’t know where he is. Only that I won’t ever see him again. You, on the other hand…” Dawon trailed off and bounded up the rest of the stairs. Yoongi frantically followed her, his mind working on overdrive.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Yoongi said when they reached the door to Hoseok’s chambers. “He isn’t…he isn’t in there, is he?”

Dawon laughed and shook her head. “No. I don’t know much, Yoongi, but you’re a smart man. Albeit, not that smart since you fell in love with my idiot brother, but still. He told me to tell you that you would be able to figure out where to find answers. And that the answers are in there.”

“He’s alive?” Yoongi breathed. “Say it. Tell me he’s alive.”

Dawon sighed and cupped Yoongi’s face in her cold hands. “Min Yoongi,” she said, “he’s alive. Jung Hoseok is alive and he loves you, okay? I can’t stay.” Her hands dropped back to her sides. “I have to get out of this damn house. Don’t stay too long, either. Find what he wants you to find. Then find him.”

Dawon stepped back and Yoongi watched her, open-mouthed, as she scurried away and then he was alone in the too-quiet house. A minute or two passed before he was able to open the door to Hoseok’s chambers. The knob was cold and the room felt stale when he stepped inside. At the same time, though, it was as Hoseok had left it. A little bit haphazard and the bed unmade. Yoongi reached out and touched the curtains around the bed and ran his hands along the top of a dresser.

He picked up one of Hoseok’s rings that were left behind and remembered the feeling of them on his skin. Farther into the room, he saw a stack of papers and when he picked them up, he realized they were a bunch of sketches that Yoongi had given to Hoseok throughout the years. The papers were worn with age and from being held, but the drawings on them were still crisp, as if Hoseok had handled then with care.

Some of the drawings were older than others. Some Yoongi didn’t even remember drawing. Some brought back memories and he drew a blank with others.

Carefully, he spread the stack out on top of the dress they sat on. One drawing was turned over and Yoongi picked it up when he noticed handwriting that wasn’t his own on the back.

I’m sorry. If you’ll let me, I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you.

The paper fluttered to the ground, thanks to Yoongi’s shaking hands, but before he could lean over to pick it up, his eyes locked on a painting that hung on the wall. Specifically, the painting of the field of flowers that Yoongi brought to Hoseok that day when they first slept together. It was slightly crooked on the wall, not enough to be glaring, but enough for someone with an eye like Yoongi’s to pick up on it.

It was, Yoongi supposed, both a blessing and a curse.

Hesitantly, Yoongi approached the painting and brushed his fingers over the strokes that made up the grass and the sprinkling of red flowers. The paint was dry under his touch, but smooth, every stroke deliberate, telling a story that most people wouldn’t see. It wasn’t just a field of flowers under the sun. It was the story of two boys who somehow completed each other. It was colors that never were supposed to mix, but did, and they created something beautiful.

Yoongi grabbed the painting and took it down off the wall, because he wanted to take it back with him, but then, something fell onto the floor that had been slipped behind the painting. Breath caught in Yoongi’s throat as he set the painting itself aside and knelt down to pick up the folded paper that had fallen on the floor.

Like the drawings, it was worn, almost yellow in color, but Yoongi could tell that it wasn’t a drawing, at least not one of his. The paper was too coarse to be for drawing and too textured for Yoongi’s preference for painting.

He unfolded the paper slowly, until all of it was spread out on the floor in front of him.

It was a map.

Yoongi could make out the village he lived in, and the outskirts of it where the wealthier families lived. The Jung’s home was marked and circled in what might have been red paint or ink. Somewhere far off on the map was another circle, only it was more intense, darker, and Yoongi squinted to get a better look. The place had to be out in the middle of nowhere.

And that’s when it hit him.

Hoseok was showing him the way to a place far, far away from everything that was keeping them apart. He was showing Yoongi how they could be together. He was showing Yoongi the way back to him.

Complete, even, with tiny drawings of cows.

Yoongi smiled, hope swelling in his heart. At the same time though, there was a sense of apprehension. Things had ended badly with Hoseok, in a way, their argument loomed over Yoongi ever since he’d left. At the same time though, Yoongi’s feelings were still there and he knew Hoseok’s were too.

Whatever Yoongi decided to do, it was going to determine the rest of his life. It would change things.

But still, Yoongi could imagine it. He could feel the sun on his skin while he and Hoseok lay out while Yoongi painted and Hoseok danced. He could feel the chill of winter, when they would curl up together at night in each other’s arms. It would be a happy life, the two of them, together and content. Hard, maybe, but happy still.

Then again, he would have to leave behind his friends, his home, his career as an artist.

While his mind ran wild with contemplation, Yoongi noticed tiny words written in the circle Hoseok had drawn around the far-away place. The place where Hoseok was, where he waited.

The words were a request, a question, leaving Yoongi to decide his future, because Hoseok would never make Yoongi do something he didn’t want to do, Yoongi knew that. Everything was up to him.

And so, he gathered up the map, the painting, and the drawings and left Hoseok’s room. He left his house and stood outside, looking up at the blue sky and smelling the faintest hint of smoke in the air, that might have just been his imagination. He felt the summer heat beating down on his skin, and he could imagine the sound of Hoseok’s bright laughter.

More than all of that, two words repeated themselves in the back of his mind. Two words that he wasn’t sure he had an answer to yet. Two people. Two colors. Two words.

Meet me?