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our love is evergreen

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Hoseok has a confession to make — he hates bars. He hates clubs. He hates drinking. Is it surprising? Maybe so, because Hoseok’s personality is as vibrant as a tulip’s, and everyone with personalities as bright as his tend to love the scene he’s currently in.

But, well, Hoseok doesn’t. So sue him.

The music is loud and thrumming on his ears. The beat of the bass rocks his bones. Looking up from the beer he’s holding — half drunk, warm at this point —  he makes eye contact with Taehyung, who is sipping a mango slushy and watching Jimin make a fool of himself. In times like these, Taehyung is the only one Hoseok can count on, because Taehyung also hates alcohol with the same amount of passion Hoseok has. Looking around the club, he spies Yoongi in the corner, drinking beer and watching everyone with a removed, almost detached expression.

Hoseok’s mouth turns down at the corners.

“Taehyung-ah!” Hoseok shouts, and Taehyung tilts his head at him. “I’m leaving with Yoongi-hyung!”

Taehyung registers his words and then turns his head over to look at the corner so fast Hoseok thought he’d get whiplash. When he sees Yoongi frozen there, one hand coming up to methodically pour beer into his mouth and bring it down, he nods and shrugs.

Now Hoseok has to engage in the Herculean task of shoving his way through the sweaty, gyrating bodies of the dance floor to reach the other side. He doesn’t get what it is about clubs that make humans seem to only have a one track mind of getting as intoxicated as possible before becoming a mindless, condensed being on the dance floor. After bumping into the third guy that night and getting elbowed by a drunk, skinny girl, Hoseok finally pops out of the crowd and tumbles, heaving, right in front of Yoongi.

Reaching out a hand, he places it on his shoulder and gently tugs the beer from him, setting it on the small table beside them. “You wanna leave, hyung?”

“Hoseok-ah,” Yoongi says, his voice gruff and drawling. “You know me so well.”

Hoseok guides him through the club and then they burst out into the cold air of Seoul, where the wind is chilly enough to bite at your nose and your hands. For people like Yoongi, it’s cold enough to warrant swearing under your breath. The effect of stepping out is immediate. Behind them, Hoseok can still hear the sound of people screaming and laughing, and the beat endlessly thumping, but outside in the cold air with the immediate sound of Yoongi rubbing his hands together and blowing on them, it’s like a nice, soft blanket has fallen over his shoulders.

Yoongi tugs on his sleeve. “Let’s get chicken,” he suggests, lips tugging into a smile. “Where is the least crowded but the best chicken place you know?”

“It’s nearly one in the morning, hyung,” Hoseok laughs, but he sets off, careful not to walk too fast. Yoongi hated having to jog after people, and Hoseok had long legs. He’s always very — aware of Yoongi. Hyperaware. Yoongi is walking after him, hands stuffed into his pockets, scarf wrapped tight around his face. His glasses are sliding down his face, but he’s not bothering to push them up because he’d have to put his hands out into the cold.

Hoseok helps him to push them up for him and Yoongi laughs a little. “You always help me so much,” Yoongi says lazily, slowing to a stroll to smile at him. “Are you my hyung or my dongsaeng?”

Laughing, Hoseok waves his hands around his face and grins. “I don’t want to be your hyung,” he complains. “I mean, you’re going to treat me to chicken, right?”

“Yah,” Yoongi grumbles, but his voice is light and his walk is steady. “You know I will.”

=

It is warm in Hoseok’s favourite chicken store. Yoongi puts his bare hands onto the radiator and winces as his numb hands thaw out — for Christmas, only a week away, Hoseok makes a mental note to buy Yoongi gloves. The nice leather ones — Yoongi has long fingers, pianist hands, calloused and slightly knobbly. The leather ones would make them look nice.

At this point in time, you must be wondering why Hoseok takes such good notice of Yoongi. Why he can tell, even by the slightest dip in the air, that Yoongi has changed moods, is displeased, pleased — how he knows how he works.

It’s very simple and very complicated at the same time.

You see, Jung Hoseok is in love, and that’s that.

Now, ask him when he fell in love. Truth be told, he doesn’t know. He has known Min Yoongi for nearly seven years now — they’d met when he was seventeen at an underground rap and dance festival. Hoseok didn’t like him at first — the Gyeongsang-do accent that clouded his words, made him drawl and mumble, the way he’d stood like he had something to prove.

And then Gloss had opened his mouth to rap, and Hoseok was treated to a front-row seat of the most bitter teenager he’d ever met, who had anger bigger than Gyeongsang-do, who stood like he had something to prove because he had everything to prove.

He’d approached him after his set, wide-eyed and fresh-faced. “Gloss-ssi,” he started. He was going to say something more, maybe I loved what you did, I loved how much energy you had on the stage — but those words never came. Instead he asked, “could you make a beat for me to dance to?”

Gloss had looked at him curiously. “You dance?”

“Does it look like I don’t?”

Seven years is a long time to know someone. It’s longer when you remember they met when Hoseok’s personality had still been fickle, prone to the tempest of the teenage years and the uncertainty of the future. If you’d like to, perhaps you could make the first time Hoseok saw him on stage the first time Hoseok experienced the feeling of free-falling, but that’s probably not the case. For Hoseok, falling in love is more like — sitting in a bathtub, watching a tap drip water slowly, one drop every second into the tub.

Seven years later, Hoseok is floating in a really warm swimming pool — and a tap is still dripping water into it. Bit by bit by bit.

Yoongi sits down in a chair and groans as he stretches out. Hoseok slips into the seat opposite and grins at him, cupping his face in his hands. They stare at each other like that, basking in the warmth and each others company and the blessed silence being free from the club scene brought. Yoongi has his lips upturned in the half-smile he does when he’s content. His eyes are soft.

Hoseok reaches out his hands and takes Yoongi’s, unfurling them from being clenched up tight and wrapping his own larger palm around them. His fingers are ice-cold, but Hoseok has always burnt hot. He’ll be fine. Yoongi makes a quiet noise of contentment and leans forward in his seat, bracing his elbows on the white table.

Times like these, Hoseok almost thinks he’d finally tell Yoongi. Finally tell him that it had been nearly four years ago when Hoseok had awoke with the kind of epiphany you get from deliberately not thinking about something — that somehow, along the way, he’d fallen irrevocably in love with Min Yoongi, and he couldn’t turn back from it.

But then a waitress comes over, pen and paper poised, forced smile on her face, and the moment is shattered.

=

Hoseok helps Yoongi to adjust his scarf before they head back outside. They stand pressed close, puffy jackets brushing, their faces close enough for their breath to mingle. Hoseok has been quietly in love for long enough such that contact like this does not make him stutter and his hands fail, but it fills him with a sort of longing for something that he has long denied himself.

Yoongi blinks up at him, all soft lips and dark hair and pale skin. His lips are shiny — he always uses too much lip-balm. Hoseok nudges his glasses up his face and laughs when Yoongi scrunches his nose up at him and gives him a soft glare — the kind of glare without heat, like Yoongi is trying to say I’m your hyung but meaning none of it.

“Be careful, hyung,” Hoseok chides. “It’s cold outside.”

Yoongi bats his hands away. “I know,” he says. “Maybe I leave my scarf like that so you fix it for me.”

Stepping out of the chicken shop, the cold hits them like a sack to the face. Two in the morning and Seoul is nearly dead silent — they’re on the outskirts, in the residential district, where the busy cars of the business area would not affect them in any way.

Hoseok and Yoongi live five minutes away from each other. Hoseok swears it’s purely coincidental, because he rented his apartment before Yoongi did. Sometimes, he thinks about Yoongi purposely looking for an apartment near his, and his heart grows unbearably warm. They walk, huddled into their jackets, breath steaming up the night air. Their feet hit the ground with dull thuds, but for that and the swish swoosh of their puffy jackets, they do not talk. Everything is peaceful in late December nights, when the next day was a Sunday and Hoseok’s job did not call to him.

Looking over at Yoongi, Hoseok finds to his quiet delight that Yoongi’s nose and cheeks are turning red from the cold — making him look cute and flushed. When they reach the intersection where Yoongi is supposed to turn off to enter his apartment complex, Hoseok finds — he doesn’t know why. Maybe he’s still a bit tipsy from the club (lies, because he’s only had half a bottle of weak beer), maybe it’s the atmosphere December always had (like it is full of anticipation), maybe it’s the cold seeping into his skull and rendering him impulsive. Either way, he finds his hand latching onto Yoongi’s sleeve, stopping him from turning down, let alone saying goodbye.

Yoongi looks up at him in curiosity.

“Can I stay the night, hyung?” Hoseok hears himself asking in a daze, his own voice sounding like it’s coming from somewhere far, far away. Everything about the scene now has dream-like qualities.

Yoongi cracks a small smile. “Seokseok-ah,” he says carefully, quietly, like he is afraid of breaking whatever spell has been cast on them right now. Hoseok nearly keens at the way he pronounce the nickname— like it is something fragile, like the flutter of butterfly wings, or catching a snowflake in the air. “You are always welcome.”

=

Hoseok has been to Yoongi’s so many times he’s changed his meaning of home. Home is not his apartment, where the walls are dead and dreary and his dining table only sits one. Home is Yoongi’s — where it smells like the jasmine reed diffuser Namjoon bought him, where the lamp Hoseok got him is sitting on the sofa table, lighting up the room in furious shades of red, orange and pink. Yoongi’s apartment is loved and lived in, Hoseok’s is just borrowed.

They’d been thinking about moving in with each other, about putting Yoongi’s guest bedroom to use, but Hoseok has always declined out of necessity.

Yoongi gestures at his apartment like it’s the first time Hoseok has ever been there. “Make yourself at home,” he says. He doesn’t know Hoseok already considers this home. Unwinding his scarf, Hoseok drops it onto the navy blue sofa, his jacket following after. Yoongi’s apartment is warm and nice and homey and everything about it makes him hurt, why did he suggest coming here? What purpose did he have? Hoseok has built his life to surround other people — Taehyung, from college. Jimin, from work. Namjoon and Seokjin from Yoongi. Jeongguk from the café down the road. It was him that had brought them all together, though. And when college had ended and Jung Hoseok found himself staring his future in the face and not knowing what to do with it, it was those seven that had pulled him out of his rut and blinking, dazed, into some semblance of understanding.

He owed a lot to their dynamic. Apparently they thought they owed a lot to him, because Jimin called him hope one day and it stuck. Hoseok supposes it’s not too far off. He has a lot of misplaced hope.

Yoongi sits down, cat-like, into the chair. He curls in on himself, socked feet sticking out — Yoongi always lies down that way, in a little ball. Sleepily, he looks up at Hoseok and motions for him to join him on the sofa. Hoseok shakes his head and scoops Yoongi up into an unwilling bridal carry — the elder yelps and kicks jokingly as Hoseok laughs and stumbles into Yoongi’s bedroom, dumping him unceremoniously onto the navy sheets.

Yoongi spreads out before him, beautiful and loose, dark hair spread out around him like a halo. Hoseok’s heart twists, but then Yoongi is scrabbling up and yanking him down on top of him and Hoseok falls, giggling. It ends with his head pillowed on Yoongi’s thigh, Hoseok staring up at the cream ceiling. One of Yoongi’s hands come down to card his fingers through his hair, smoothing it out and stroking his head.

Hoseok’s eyes flutter shut and he stirs quietly. “Hyung,” he whines. “I’m still in my club outfit.”

“So?” Yoongi asks, his voice sleep-deep and tired. “You look good in it.”

A red blush — deep red, for Hoseok blushes so easily he might as well spend his entire life as a rose — works its way up from Hoseok’s chest, spreading over his neck and face like a flower in bloom. He’d worn it with a subconscious intention to look good, but not for anyone in the club, that is. At one point Hoseok had tried to get over whatever this was by doing whatever it took, but once again four years is a lot of time to be in love with the same person, and things like that hardly work out when you’re twenty four.

“Thanks hyung,” he mumbles, closing his eyes against Yoongi’s patient stare. “But it’s not very comfortable to sleep in.”

Yoongi laughs. “I always forget how fast you go to sleep when I do this,” and he tugs on Hoseok’s hair before he slides off the bed, Hoseok’s head hitting the bed with a startled oomph. “You can borrow my clothes. I still have that oversized sweatshirt from when Joonie bought a large thinking it was a small.”

Hoseok turns on his side. “Only Joon, to be honest.”

Yoongi laughs and turns around to rummage through his closet before finding the oversized yellow sweater and throwing it in Hoseok’s direction along with a pair of sweatpants. “Go shower,” Yoongi motions to the bathroom. “You smell like chicken.”

Hoseok makes a big show of rubbing himself all over Yoongi’s covers before grabbing the clothes and darting into the bathroom before Yoongi can comment on his actions. Hoseok comes out of the shower smelling like Min Yoongi and he loves it so much he thinks his heart might burst out of his chest.

Yoongi is lying on his bed, scrolling through something on his phone. He looks up when he sees Hoseok enter, hair dripping, and smiles that smile Hoseok has noticed he’s reserved only for him — not the one where he grinned so widely he showed his gums, but a small one. A delicate upturn of the corners of his lips, his eyes so soft they look like melted butter.

Hoseok loves this attention and he suns himself in it, pushing his wet hair back and grinning dumbly at him. Yoongi stares, then realises he’s been staring, because he shoots off the bed and hurries into the bathroom.

Hoseok’s eyes linger on where Yoongi just was.

He smiles.

=

They make big talk about the guest bedroom, but Hoseok has actually never slept there a day in his life. Yoongi just takes the pillows, dusts it off, and drops it on his bed without a word every time, and Hoseok never complains, just takes it. They lie there in comfortable silence born from years of familiarity, scrolling through their social media, when Hoseok turns off his phone and looks again at the cream ceiling.

They’ve long since turned out the lights, but he keeps thinking of the dazed, dumb smile Yoongi has sometimes when he looks at him.

Outside, the wind is howling something awful. Inside, though, Hoseok is tucked under Yoongi’s blanket, staring at Yoongi’s ceiling, listening to Yoongi’s steady breathing. He tries to match his breath with his but fails, because Yoongi seems to need to make twice the amount of breaths Hoseok needs. Maybe he has smaller lungs.

He turns on his side and watches the white light of Yoongi’s phone screen light up his face, making him look harsher and paler than he is, and Hoseok comes to a conclusion. With the wind raging outside, and the still, chill air sitting on his chest, he reaches out a hand and flicks on the bedside lamp.

The room is awash in a golden light. Yoongi makes a noise that sounds so — so Yoongi — Hoseok turns to him, pushes away his phone, and leans down to kiss him.

Yoongi makes another noise, softer this time. His lips are cold — Yoongi is always cold — but he smiles into the kiss, wraps his arms around Hoseok’s neck, and pulls him down so that his body splays out on top of Yoongi. He’s all lean muscle that gives soft in the middle because he doesn’t work out and doesn’t diet — Hoseok doesn’t care. He’s tougher than Yoongi, though, more solidly built because of his dance major, and maybe Yoongi approves (the thought makes his face burn) because he makes yet another noise and slides his palms from around his neck down his back.

Hoseok presses him further into the mattress — Yoongi arches up into him — and then he pulls back sharply and stares, red-lipped and dazed. The clock next to Yoongi’s head says it’s three in the morning. Yoongi looks up curiously at him, then sees the expression on Hoseok’s face — maybe it’s an awkward mix of anxiety, admiration and just the general feeling of fuck, because he smiles and says, “for how long?”

“Four years,” Hoseok breathes. Everything is happening too much and at once. “Four years.”

Yoongi sits up and crosses his legs. “About the same for me too,” he confesses. His eyes are bright and his smile is wide. Hoseok feels his world sliding beneath him. “Seokseokie, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier.”

Hoseok shakes his head — he can feel his grin splitting his face — “no,” he lies back down. Truth be told, he had a whole speech planned. He knew what he was going to say, he had proper metaphors and distant comparisons to make, but now that he's here and Yoongi, the Min Yoongi he's watched for so long, is telling him he's felt the same way, everything goes out the window. All he knows is that he's here, and he's in love, and he's so content he feels like he's sinking into a warm bath, warmer than his blood. “No, I’m — I’m glad that we — I didn’t mind just being friends with you, hyung.”

Yoongi huffs. Hoseok turns to him — the small face he’s grown to known so well, the way his jawline slopes then flattens out again at his chin. The triangular eyes and thin lips. The grouchy mood he hides behind. Hoseok knows them all.

He opens his arms, and Yoongi slides right inside, tucking his face against the broader expanse of Hoseok’s chest and his heart does this awful flip flop inside him. “Hoseok-ah,” Yoongi calls, voice muffled. His voice is gruff and grumpy. “I’ll ask you in the morning. I’m too tired now.”

Hoseok can’t help it, he laughs. It’s a wonderful wonderful feeling, to love and be loved in return — but he doesn’t feel relieved, like he’d been worried about Yoongi’s reaction. Perhaps he’d known all along.

“No rush, hyung,” Hoseok yawns, wide and loud. Yoongi snorts and thumps his chest. Reaching behind him blindly, he manages to locate the lamp switch and flicks it off. “I’ve only waited four years.”

Yoongi stills, then hits him again, and Hoseok laughs and laughs until Yoongi shuts him up with a finger to his lips and a dark look in his eyes that has no heat, never has when it comes to Hoseok — and he thinks, shit, I’m in love, for what must be the thousandth time since the first time he’d met Min Yoongi seven years ago, fresh-faced and wide-eyed.