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part one: covalent

 

Kim Namjoon was famous.

Not the cool, idol type famous (which was the more interesting kind of famous, in Hoseok’s opinion), but the smart kind of famous.

Namjoon got famous because, somewhere along the way, someone had discovered that he was a genius. This wouldn’t have been particularly impressive because as it was Hoseok went to a school with a lot of geniuses, but Namjoon had a particular talent.

You could ask Namjoon to add, subtract, multiply, or divide any number, and he could do it instantly. In his head. He had never and would never need a calculator for the simple stuff, and for more complicated things up to a certain point. Hoseok knew this because he sat next to Namjoon in calculus, and had seen him write down at least the equation to make sure he was still on track, at some point.

There were many clips on YouTube of Namjoon doing this party trick when he was a child. Round faced, and always a little shy, he would do whatever the MCs would ask him to.

Hoseok didn’t know any of this until they met their first year of high school, of course.

It had been obvious from the outset that almost everyone in the classroom knew each other. They were chatting amongst themselves, waiting for the instructor to come through the door. Hoseok sat at the corner of the room, basically alone, because he was feeling awkward.

He hoped, beyond measure, that someone would come and sit next to him. Someone eventually did. That someone was Namjoon.

Namjoon had sat down, and immediately began unpacking his bag. He was frantically digging through his backpack, the first time he ever spoke to Hoseok. “Do you have a pencil?” he asked, somewhat frantic around the eyes.

Hoseok, who had prepared for this day for a week (the importance on going to Seoul Accelerated Academy for Math and Science was not lost on Hoseok, not that he could have forgotten if he had wanted to, thanks to his father reminding him how great this was going to look in the future on the resume, and how good it would make the family look), certainly had a pencil. He had five, in fact, all sharpened the day before. He also had all the necessary items that were required by the school, as per the letter they had sent out at the beginning of the summer.

From the looks of Namjoon’s construction site of a backpack, he did not have all the necessary materials.

“Sure,” Hoseok said easily, grabbing the pencil out of the pencil bag that his sister had picked up for him. It was light blue, and Ryan print, and Namjoon’s eyes lit up when he saw it.

“Oh, you like Ryan?” Namjoon asked as he took his pencil from Hoseok’s grasp, sounding excited.

“He’s...okay?” Hoseok wasn’t sure how to answer this question, exactly, but he liked the way that Namjoon seemed so enthused about it. Namjoon was cute, and the thought seeped into Hoseok’s mind even though he had been trying so hard lately to not think that boys were cute.

“Oh.” Namjoon’s excitement dimmed some, before returning to full brightness. “Then who-”

But before he could finish, Dr. Hwang walked in, and silenced all conversation with her sheer presence.

After class was over, Namjoon came up to Hoseok again. “Thanks,” he said. “I’m Kim Namjoon.” When he tried to hand it back Hoseok waved his hand.

“Keep it,” Hoseok told him, “you seem like you need it more than me, Kim Namjoon. I’m Jung Hoseok. Nice to meet you, I guess.”

Namjoon had smiled at that, but before he could say anything else, he froze. “Wait, sorry, I have to go up to the second floor to talk to Dr. Yoo before my next class,” he told Hoseok, who was feeling increasingly befuddled, and then zoomed away.

Hoseok walked to his next class thinking about Namjoon, and his cute smile, and wondered what he needed to see Dr. Yoo for. Dr. Yoo was the headmaster of their school, and from the orientation all the students had to go to last week, they apparently weren’t supposed to see him much. Not unless they were in trouble.

When he sat down to get ready for his next class--taking out one of his pencil and the regulated notebook--the boy sitting next to him turned to ask, “Were you just talking to Kim Namjoon?”

“Uh, yeah. Why?” Hoseok didn’t like the way this kid said Namjoon’s name, like it was something dirty.

“You don’t want to get involved with him, trust me,” the kid said.

“What do you mean?”

“His grandfather’s the headmaster of the school, so he thinks he’s better than us. Not to mention he’s a super genius, and used to go on variety shows and meet celebrities. I went to middle school with him, and trust me, the guy’s a total asshole. Just stay away from him.”

“I just let him borrow my pencil,” was the only thing that Hoseok could say in response to this. He felt caged in, suddenly, and he didn’t like it. He didn’t want to make himself some kind of pariah, just because he let someone use some of his school supplies.

“No really, trust me. You seem cool, so I just wanted to warn you, you know? You should come eat lunch with me and my friends. I’ll save you a seat.” When Hoseok hesitated, he pushed on. “My name’s Hyuk, and I can introduce you to everyone else at lunch.”

And Hoseok, who had had not gone to a middle school for geniuses in Seoul, and instead gone to a public school in Gwangju and who knew that he had only been accepted into the Academy because his test scores and grades were far beyond normal expectations, and his father knew someone on the Board, had worried that he was going to have no one to sit with at lunch. So this invitation sounded like an angel’s chorus from heaven, and Hoseok knew that he was going to try to hold onto this tight, with both hands.

“Sounds cool, Hyuk,” Hoseok said, and was grateful when the professor walked through the door to start the class.

At lunch, Namjoon waved to Hoseok from his table at the corner of the lunch room, and Hoseok pretended not to see him.

That night, for the first--but not the last--time, Hoseok typed into Naver “Kim Namjoon, variety shows” and watched a young Namjoon answer any math question that they threw at him.

So that part of Hyuk’s statement was true, at least. Hoseok wondered what other parts of it were true.

He wondered what kind of person had to call their own grandfather “Dr. Yoo." 

Then he tried to stop thinking of Kim Namjoon at all.

 The next day, Namjoon had a pencil bag. It was Ryan printed too, though his was yellow, and even his pencils had tiny Ryans everywhere. He must really like that mascot, Hoseok couldn’t help but notice, and this was the first personal fact about Kim Namjoon that Hoseok ever collected, though it was far from the last.

“Here, I wanted to return your pencil,” Namjoon said after class. “I’ve got my own now, see?”

Hoseok looked at the pencils as though he hadn’t already seen them, and took a step back when Namjoon tried to get closer. Namjoon noticed this, because Hoseok was far from subtle, and from the way that Namjoon bit his lip, Hoseok knew that he was hurt.

Hoseok ignored it, because that was easier. 

“No, keep it,” Hoseok said, just like yesterday. This time, though, his voice was rude. Way ruder than Hoseok had meant for it to be, but that was the way it came out, “you seem like you need it more than me.”

“Al...right,” Namjoon said, as though he was confused. Hoseok looked away from him, not wanting to deal with the shame of being a dick to someone who didn’t necessarily deserve it. He Hyuk waving him over, and he waved back. Namjoon, who was apparently still watching him, said suddenly, “I understand,” in a wooden voice.

Then he walked away, having made his choice, and Hoseok walked towards his friend, making his.

And so it went.


The Seoul Accelerated Academy for Math and Science was a rather tight-knit school, with a tiny student body. The student body was mostly made up of rich kids who could pass the entrance exam, more rich kids that had more money than interest in math or science (or any subject, really), and some scholarship students.

Most of them had family that lived in or around Seoul, with many of them from Gangnam. Hoseok was not one of these students, and so he lived in the dorms.

 As it turned out, so did Kim Namjoon.

 

 

For the first few weeks of school, Hoseok was enamoured with Seoul. As soon as he was done with homework he would go to the surrounding streets and just explore until it was curfew. On the weekends he went to places like Hongdae and Itaewon and Myeongdong, just to see what they were like.

So it was only once exam time came, and Hoseok had to really buckle down, did he realize that Namjoon lived in the dorms too.

Hoseok froze and almost walked straight out of the communal study room when he saw Namjoon in there one day. He was in the process of just turning around and walking right back out the door, when Namjoon turned before he could.

“Oh. Hoseok. Hi.” Ever since Hoseok told Namjoon that he could keep his pencil, Namjoon hadn’t tried to talk to him. Hoseok couldn’t blame him, but he still felt bad about it. Namjoon ate in the cafeteria alone, usually reading books that were bigger than his head.

Sometimes, Hoseok thought about marching over to Namjoon’s table to sit with him (Hyuk and his friends were not very nice people, to tell the truth. They were mostly snobby, and rich, with bad attitudes about everything. Hoseok continued to sit with them because to not do so would ostracize him, and he didn’t want that either) and ask what he was reading, but he never did. He could never gather up the courage.

Namjoon talked to a few people during classes, but not many. Hoseok had never come across him when he was exploring Seoul, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t go out. Hoseok had no idea what Namjoon did in his free time, but he did know that he never went to the parties that their classmates had on the weekend, and Hoseok never saw him hanging around any of the club rooms once the last bell had rung.

So it was a shock to see him in the dorms, especially because Hoseok didn’t know he lived here, and he thought he knew everyone that did by this point in the semester.

“Namjoon. Hi.” The urge to run was still overwhelming, but Hoseok forced himself to push through it and walked into the room instead. He sat at the table directly diagonal from the one that Namjoon was sitting at.

“Are you studying for Dr. Hwang’s class?” Namjoon asked, after a beat of silence. Hoseok wondered if he had to work himself up to speak to Hoseok, the way that Hoseok had to work himself up to talk to Namjoon. 

“Yeah. I want to do really well on the test rankings this time.”

Namjoon had been at the very top of the rankings. Hoseok had definitely noticed.

“Well then you had better start studying.” Only after he said this, did Namjoon realized how that sounded. He immediately looked mortified, but before Namjoon could apologize, Hoseok started laughing.

He laughed, and he moved chairs so that he was sitting closer to Namjoon.

“Would you help me?” Hoseok asked. “You got the highest grade in the class last time.”

“You noticed that?”

“We go to a school where people would strangle their best friends over grades. We all noticed.” He paused, and then decided to add in a softer tone, “Of course I noticed.”

“Well...” Namjoon trailed off, and then he grinned, and Hoseok was swept away, once again, by how cute Namjoon was. (Hoseok had stood outside some of the gay clubs in Itaewon over the weekends, just looking at them, but never going inside. He wondered what he would find there, and while most of it might have been above his head, he felt more like there would be some truths. So he kept walking. But still, he did think about it.) “I guess I have to help you, then. Since you were number four, and all.”

“You noticed that?”

“Of course I noticed,” Namjoon said, still smiling. He put on an affected voice to say, “And I pity you.”

 Hoseok scoffed. “Please,” he said. “You can’t pity me. I’m fine. But...if you really did pity me, not that you have to or anything, then you would help me and shut up already.”

“And why would I do that?”

“Because you’re a nice person. I think. I hope?”

“Okay, I’ll help you.” Namjoon didn’t get through that sentence before Hoseok slid into the chair next to him.

 

 

That interaction led to the two of them becoming something like rivals, of a sort.

Eventually, Hoseok became comfortable enough with the material, and with the pace of studying at the Academy, that he didn’t need to have Namjoon help tutor him anymore. Instead, they just met up late at night, when no one else studied and studied together.

They’d throw playful insults at each other, and would sit next to each other, and have as good of a time as they could there was so much pressure on them both.

(Those early mornings by the announcement boards were the only time he talked to Namjoon outside of the safety of the dorm study rooms. They would typically go the same way.

“First, again?” Hoseok would say, a groan in his voice.

 “What, are you jealous?” Namjoon would ask.

“No, this just means that you have less friends and more free time to study than I do,” Hoseok would tell him, and around him, his friends wouldoooooh like the teenage idiots they all were. 

And Namjoon would shrug, and grin, as though that rolled off him completely. “If you admit you can’t compete, then don’t,” Namjoon would tell him and then walk away.

Hoseok looked forward to those interactions, though he would never admit it.)

 

 

By the time their senior year came around, Namjoon began slipping.

He never went lower than second place, but the fact that he stopped holding on so strongly to first place in their class rankings said it all. 

But Hoseok didn’t care about that then. All he cared about was that he was finally, finally, beating Kim Namjoon at something. That was all he cared about in general, back then.

Beating Namjoon meant finding a way to untangle whatever knots Namjoon made happen in his chest. It gave him a way to examine what exactly his relationship with Namjoon was. They weren’t friends. They couldn’t be friends. Not here and not now, of course, but they were something.

Something that Hoseok didn’t want to examine too closely. Something that Hoseok didn’t want to define. It was better, always better, to leave it dangling, open-ended, rotting on a pile of Things Hoseok Didn’t Want To Deal With.

So he didn’t deal with it. Instead, he just focused on their rivalry, and their study sessions, and everything in between, because it was easier. Easiest.


The Seoul Accelerated Academy for Math and Science was one of the best high schools in Korea, if not the best one. Everyone knew it. Even just managing to graduate from the Academy held a lot of status in itself, almost like a college degree all on its own.

The clubs were successful as well, always at the top of national competitions. The academic clubs did the best, of course, but last year the dance club had gotten fifth at nationals. Hoseok had been on the team, and sometimes he thought that it was the only thing that kept him sane, that helped him put distance between his grades and his self-worth.

 (Hoseok had always thought that maybe if the Academy had let them focus on clubs like normal schools, there would be less substance abuse in the students there, but you didn’t hear it from him.)

Academics always took priority though. So it was because of this, everyone would gather at the front of the school on the days the results of the latest round of tests were announced, and today was no different. Hoseok came out of the dance hall to find everyone huddled around the test results, and when he walked up everyone clapped.

Hoseok was popular because he talked to everyone, but he had certainly never had a reception quite as warm as this one when he walked from the dorm to the main part of campus.

 “Hey, you did it, Jung!” Hyuk said, wrapping an arm around Hoseok’s shoulders. “Good job, man.”

 “What are you even talking about?”

 “Look,” Hyuk said, and pointed up at the list of senior tests.

 There it was. In hangul, plain as day:

  1. Jung Hoseok

And it was only after the initial shock passed that he noticed:

  1. Kim Namjoon

Hyuk’s shoulder around his neck, almost like a noose now, Hoseok began to look around for Namjoon.

Namjoon was at the back of the crowd, the way he always was, and his face was wide-eyed and pale. When he noticed Hoseok looking at him he turned his face, like he hadn’t seen him. Hoseok watched him turn away and felt something sink inside of him like a stone. 

“Finally,” Hoseok said, like he knew was expected of him. He turned back to his friends and smiled, and for some reason everything now felt like a lie.


That night, Hoseok found Namjoon in their dorm’s study room, the way he always did. Everyone else was in their own rooms, or the library, or out, and so it was only the two of them here, like always.

Namjoon had his books open in front of him, and a pencil in his hand (A Ryan pencil, of course. Namjoon still loved Ryan, apparently) but his eyes were unfocused. He startled when Hoseok stepped in the room, the door making a heavy creaking sound as it swung all the way closed. His pencil bag flew through the air, scattering his pens and pencils everywhere.

“Sorry,” Namjoon muttered when Hoseok bent down to help him gather up his things.

“It’s fine,” Hoseok said, noting how much extra stuff Namjoon had in his bag.

There were colorful post-it notes everywhere, each with writing on them. The first one that Hoseok picked up saidmy lungs were made for breathing, so how am I alive if I can’t breathe? written in careful English letters. There was more on the note, but before Hoseok could read anything else Namjoon snatched the piece of paper from his hands.

“I think that’s everything,” Namjoon said quickly, not looking at Hoseok anymore. “Thanks.”

“You...have a lot of those?”

Namjoon shrugged. “I guess.”

“I didn’t know-” what. Hoseok didn’t know--what? That Namjoon wrote? Or that he painstakingly copied down quotes in English? Hoseok knew that Namjoon was good at English (Though Math and Science were meant to be the universal language, the Academy still forced every grade level to take extensive English classes until they graduated. Namjoon had helped him with English so much their first year of school, and it had been the only way Hoseok had managed to catch up with his classmates who were already more advanced than him thanks to their middle school curriculum) but he didn’t realize that it went beyond the assignments they had for class.

“Yeah,” was all Namjoon said, sitting back down on the chair again.

“So what class are you studying for?” Hoseok asked, sitting in the chair beside him, confident that no one was going to come in.

“Dr. Bae.” Namjoon didn’t offer anything else. Hoseok decided to not let this dissuade him, though ignoring Namjoon’s blank face was hard.

“Oh, me too. I’m hoping to do really well on that test.” Hoseok hesitated, before deciding to dive all the way in. “Just like I did today. That’s probably the last time I’ll ever score ahead of you, but at least it happened for once in my life.”

“Yeah,” was all Namjoon said again. Hoseok wondered what he had to do to get Namjoon to say anything else. Normally, he gave as good as he got, or at least laughed, but today everything was impassive. “Good job.”

“Thanks.” Hoseok fiddled with his pencil. Namjoon was sucking all the fun out of beating him. “I made flashcards if you want to quiz each other-”

“No,” Namjoon replied, standing up suddenly. “I’m just going to go to my room.” He got up and left without another word. Hoseok watched him go, and wondered what that was all about. If it was somehow his fault, for coming first, for trying to tease Namjoon, for trying to study with him at all.

 But it was just one test, right? There would be others, and Namjoon could be right on top again. Hoseok was sure of it.


It was not just one test. 

It seemed as though every time the test rankings were posted, Namjoon’s name went further and further down the list. Eventually, he stopped showing up to check his rankings at all.

Hoseok had no idea what to do. He went to the study rooms in the dorms, just like always, but Namjoon had stopped coming. Namjoon retreated into himself during class, not that Hoseok would have approached him in public like that anyway. 

(A few times, Hoseok had gone up to the fifth floor, where he knew Namjoon lived. But in the end, he had always chickened out, choosing to walk down the stairs again instead of just knocking on Namjoon’s door. What was he supposed to say? He and Namjoon weren’t friends. Hoseok had never even been to the fifth floor before now. He couldn’t say anything.)

As the year progressed, Hoseok didn’t want to worry about Namjoon, but he did.

He went to the study rooms every time he had the chance, though he found himself in the dance club’s rooms more and more often. Dancing, he had found, was a great stress relief, and the more he practiced, the better he got at it. He would have liked to spend all his free time in there, but he knew it wasn’t possible, considering that he had to keep his grades up so consistently.

Now that Namjoon was out of the running, competition for the top spot had become even more fierce. Entrance exams for colleges were coming up, and it had become even more important for the senior class to get on the ball. 

Hoseok found a way to sneak in dance time anyway, even though dance club practices became fewer and farther between now that exam season was coming upon them.

Often, Hoseok would just go to the study rooms in the dorms still in his dancing clothes, his hair and body damp from his shower, since he was alone now. He decided to do that today, knowing that he needed to go over his English notes before he could go to bed, since the next test was supposed to be a tough one.

He wasn’t even paying attention when he walked into the room, which was how he almost bumped into Namjoon’s chair.

To say that Hoseok was shocked to see Namjoon would have been an understatement. Especially when he saw that Namjoon was crying.

Namjoon wasn’t crying prettily, that much was for certain. They were silent sobs, sure, but they racked Namjoon’s entire body. Namjoon’s face was in his hands, the picture of grief.

Hoseok had no earthly idea how to deal with this, at all. At the Academy, no one cried if they could help it. To cry was to show weakness, and weakness in a place like this, one where so much competition thrived, was to get eaten alive.

“Um,” Hoseok said, feeling like an idiot. He just couldn’t turn around and walk out the door, could he? No, he had to say something, like a dumbass.

Namjoon looked up, and his eyes were red, tear tracks down his face. He looked so vulnerable in that moment that Hoseok wanted to reach out and wipe away his tears. Hoseok was surprised by how much he wanted to do it, about how tender the idea was.

Namjoon crying made him feel flustered and uncomfortable, yes, but Hoseok would do anything to try to make Namjoon go back to the confident version, the one that took all of his insults by the test results with his own comeback and a grin. Not this mess of a person who seemed so small, even though Namjoon was one of the tallest guys in their entire class.

Namjoon didn’t say anything, just put his head back in his hands and took a deep breath. When he looked at Hoseok again his eyes were still read, but he wasn’t crying anymore.

 “What do you want, Hoseok?” Namjoon asked. “I don’t think I can help you with your test scores anymore if that’s what you’re after.”  

“I, um,” Hoseok began, finding it very hard to be smooth right now. Usually he was better at this, he knew it was, but it was harder in front of Namjoon. Everything with Namjoon seemed to be endlessly more complicated, even if he didn’t know why. “I don’t want your help. But...” Hoseok trailed off, wondering if he was going to be brave enough to do this. “I can help you out. You know. If you want me to.” 

(Hoseok was an idiot, yes, but he wasn’t blind. Namjoon had only grown cuter the older that they had gotten, and he was funny, and he was kinder than Hoseok could ever be. He knew that he had some sort of crush on Namjoon, and he dealt with that fact as best as he could, which wasn’t very well at all.

It had, at least, helped him realize something that he knew from the beginning.)

Namjoon just stared at him. “I don’t need your help on tests,” he said, beginning to turn away. He wiped his nose with the back of his hand. “I don’t care about that kind of stuff anymore.”

Before he could, Hoseok’s hand shot out to wrap around Namjoon’s arm. He took it back as soon as his skin touched skin, shocked that he had even reached out in the first place.

“I don’t mean on tests,” Hoseok said slowly, carefully, as though his heart wasn’t pounding in his chest. “I mean I can help you...feel better.”

“How?” Namjoon asked, his expression completely different than just a moment ago. Now he was looking at Hoseok consideringly, as if he couldn’t figure out Hoseok’s angle.

Hoseok got on his knees.


On Monday, Hoseok felt as though he kept hearing Namjoon’s name everywhere. Not outright, but in whispers.

For a moment he wondered if somehow, someone had found out what had happened between him and Namjoon in the study room, and had told the whole school about it. But when Hyuk still let him join his circle of friends, he realized that wasn’t the case.

“That Kim Namjoon kid is finally gone,” said one of Hyuk’s other friends, one of the ones that he hadn’t ended up liking too much. “All his shit’s packed up and he’s outta here. Apparently his family came to move him out at the dead of night, so no one would see, as if we wouldn’t all know what happened immediately.”

“What about Kim Namjoon?” Hoseok asked, trying to sound casual. Something about this whole situation weighed him down with foreboding. People didn’t usually talk about Namjoon like this, though he wasn’t very well liked, since he had been so successful and his grandfather was the headmaster. People said that this was how Namjoon got his good grades and test scores, but Hoseok knew that was nonsense. Namjoon really was just that smart.

After he and Namjoon had parted ways, Hoseok went to his room and only came out after curfew, when he knew almost no one would be around. He needed time to process what had happened, so he hadn’t heard the gossip that had surely been flying around the dorm. (The dorms were, as a rule, where gossip spread the fastest because so many students lived as close together as possible, and Hoseok got a lot of his information this way.)

“What, didn’t you hear? Don’t you live in the dorms too, Jung?” that same kid asked, and Hoseok ignored the way that stung. Even if he was technically in with the right people, they still loved to remind him that his family wasn’t from Seoul, and they weren’t as rich as everyone else.

“I didn’t hear anything,” Hoseok said.

“Kim’s gone,” Hyuk told him, taking pity. “Apparently he had some kind of psycho breakdown and had to be removed from the school. I think someone said he had to go to the hospital, or something?”

“What a fucking weakling. Couldn’t cut it so he lost his fucking mind, even though his grandpa made it so easy for him for him here.”

That kid was practically begging for a punch in the fucking face. Hoseok took a step towards him, gearing up to do it. But before he could make any other movements, Hyuk grabbed his shoulder.

“Yeah, he sucks,” Hyuk said, easy as you please, even though his grip on Hoseok was tight. “But it wasn’t the first time, and I don’t think it’ll be the last either.” He seemed to give Hoseok a meaningful look when he said this. 

Hoseok wasn’t sure what that was supposed to mean, but he shrugged off Hyuk’s hand anyway.

“Whatever,” Hoseok said. “I’m going to go back to the studio.”

It was easier than he had thought that it was going to be to turn his back on Hyuk and his other friends, and to walk away.






part two: ionic

 

Jung Hoseok is famous.

Not the cool, idol type famous (which would have been a little much at this state in his life, in Hoseok's opinion) but the YouTube kind of famous. 

It didn’t really affect his life, much. Most of the time, people didn’t really know who he was. And the people who do know, they were generally really lovely and nice. They would come up to him to say they loved his videos, and occasionally ask for his autograph, and then leave.

What is important is that his Hope on the Street videos, which get views higher than Hoseok ever could have dreamed, help him in his real life too. He started his first year having to audition for his school’s dance department that second semester. One of the professors said that his videos helped, because they showed his range when he didn’t have other records of his performances because of the academic focused high school that he went to. So, if anything, he’s grateful for that much.

(His father told him that if he made it into the best university in Korea, he’d be able to major in anything that he wanted to starting that second semester. Maybe he had been hoping that Hoseok would have “seen the light” by then, and focused in something “practical” instead of what he wanted, but that hadn’t happened.

All Hoseok wanted to study was dance, especially after the last few months of his time in high school, when dancing was the only solace that he could find. So now, he is, even though his parents make passive aggressive comments every time Hoseok calls home.

It’s more than worth it, in Hoseok’s opinion. He never has to worry about calculus ever again, for one thing.)

His videos also make a lot of buzz appear around his college’s dance department, which makes the “Dance Department Social” that’s happening today possible.

It’s because of the social--and in a more roundabout way, his YouTube channel--that Hoseok finds Kim Namjoon again, after over eighteen months of his absence from Hoseok’s life.

The day starts out pretty much like any other day in Hoseok’s life at that point. Hoseok wakes up reasonably early, when the air is still cool and the sun low in the sky, and starts his morning run.

He walks into his apartment, as quietly as he can, but he still hears Yoongi call, “Hoseok-ah?” when he walks through the door.

“Yes?” Hoseok calls back. Yoongi’s voice is muffled through the door, which Hoseok knows he won’t open until he’s fully awake and ready to face the world.

“Stop being so healthy. It’s disgusting.” Hoseok can hear something heavy flop on the floor, and he hopes it’s not Yoongi, but he laughs anyway.

Still though. Obviously he has to work on the whole “being quiet in the morning” thing, for Yoongi’s sake.

“I’ll try,” Hoseok tells him, but Yoongi doesn’t respond, probably already back asleep.

The social is in the afternoon, and the entire department with the help of some of the art students that people knew, set everything up yesterday. Hoseok spends the morning texting the group chat of people that are in charge of everything, seeing if there’s anything that he needs to do, and not thinking about much else.

In the afternoon, Hoseok helps Seulgi and Taemin set up. By the time everything is set up, people start trickling in, from the promise of free food if nothing else.

Everything is pretty normal. Hoseok has a group of girls come up and talk to him about his YouTube videos, and he tells her about how Seulgi is going to be in his next video, but not much else.

He’s in the middle of talking to another group of people when he sees Namjoon walk through the doors, and feels his entire body lock up in shock.

It has to be Kim Namjoon; there’s no way that it isn’t.

He’s a little taller now, and he’s grown into his face, and has pink hair, but still. Hoseok would know him anywhere. Hoseok has sucked his dick . He knows that’s Kim Namjoon.

Hoseok contemplates fleeing, and maybe it shows on his face because Seulgi asks, “Uh, are you alright? 

“Me? I’m fine,” Hoseok says, and Seulgi’s eyebrows raise at how his voice gets squeaky at the end. Thankfully, Seulgi is nice enough that she doesn’t comment. “I’m just going to go say hi to someone.”

“Okay, weirdo,” is all Seulgi has to say to him, and Hoseok can feel her watching him as he walks up to the door.

He should definitely be the one to come up to Namjoon, right? Right. After all, he’s the one that saw Namjoon first. And the social is supposed to be current members of the dance department welcoming people to see what the department is about before the school year officially starts.

So it would be weirder if Hoseok didn’t go up to him, really. Best to get this out of the way. 

(It’s weird that Hoseok didn’t realize that he went here. Campus is a big place, but an entire year of missing each other? That seems...strange. Hoseok would have thought that they would have found each other again, even if just in passing at one of the dining halls, but really, nothing.)

Hoseok can tell the moment that Namjoon sees him because he stiffens up, going to his full height. 

“H-” Hoseok starts, thinking that the best way to get the ball rolling would be a greeting because that’s what normal people do, they just out and there and be normal.

Before he can finish, though, the boy standing closest to Namjoon turns to him and goes “Oh my God, you’re Hope on the Street, right?”

“Uh...right,” Hoseok says, shifting his focus from Namjoon to Jimin. It’s hard because up close Hoseok can tell that Namjoon is just as cute as he ever was. In fact, his pink hair might be amplifying that a little. (And seriously, pink hair ?!) “I mean yes. Yes, I am.”

“Oh, that’s so cool. Me and my best friend from home, Jeongguk, we both used to watch your videos all the time! He wants to apply here in two years because of you!”

“Really? That’s awesome. The program here is really great, you know. I really love all of the professors, and everyone in the department is really nice.”

“I’m glad. Each time I got my letter that I had passed the audition process I almost lost it, I was so nervous. So it’s nice to finally be here now!”

Hoseok smiles at Jimin, utterly taken in by his bubbliness.

But nothing could make him stay distracted from Namjoon for too long. Especially not when he’s here in front of Hoseok.

When he looks at Namjoon, he finds that Namjoon only looks slightly panicked. He’s impressed by that, if nothing else, because Hoseok still feels like a mess inside.

“Namjoon?” Hoseok said. “I didn’t know you dance?”

“I don’t,” is the first thing that Namjoon says to him since that day in the dorm study room.

“He doesn’t,” Jimin confirms. “I’m the dance part of this, and he’s the social. If I don’t drag him out to things he won’t ever go! We’re roommates,” he says, as if sensing Hoseok’s next question.

Jimin freezes. “Wait. You two know each other?”

“In high school.”

“We weren’t friends,” Namjoon says, and the conversation dies an awkward death. There’s not a way to come back from that, really. It was unnecessary of Namjoon to say, but it’s not like it wasn’t the truth.

Still, even if Hoseok can acknowledge the truth of the statement, it still hurts him a little. It feels too stark. They weren’t nothing to each other. Or at least, Hoseok didn’t think so.

“We did know each other back then, though,” Hoseok tells Jimin. He turns back to Namjoon. “I didn’t know you go to school here now.”

“I’m a freshman, same as Jimin,” Namjoon says. “I took some time off school after...well. Everything.”

“Oh,” Hoseok nods, and the awkwardness is back in the air again. Hoseok can tell that it even effects Jimin, because he’s looking between the both of them now like this is a game of tennis. “Well, it’s cool that you still managed to get in here.”

And God, Hoseok, sound like an even bigger asshole already. He winces internally.

“Yep, pretty cool.” There’s a beat, before Namjoon turns to Jimin. “I’m going to go get some of the free food I was promised.”

“I’ll go with you,” Jimin says, and he gives Hoseok a look like he’s re-considering him, before walking with Namjoon towards the refreshment table.

Well, Hoseok thinks. That could have gone worse. For instance, a meteor could have fallen out of the sky and made him into a pothole in the pavement. That could have been worse. 

So really, it’s all about perspective.


Hoseok isn’t sure why, but now that he knows about Namjoon’s appearance on his university’s campus, he assumes that he’s going to see him around.

 He doesn’t. 

It shouldn’t be a surprise, really. It’s doubtful that Namjoon has any dance classes, and now that the majority of Hoseok’s mandatory classes are over with, he spends the majority of his time on campus in the dance building.

He knows that he’s not making up seeing Namjoon, though, because he sees Jimin occasionally. He and Seulgi have gotten rather chummy, and since Seulgi is one of Hoseok’s closest friends in the program, they do interact with each other.

Jimin doesn’t look at him with as much unbridled glee as he had when they met at the dance department social. Hoseok isn’t sure if it’s because Jimin is used to seeing him around and so now some of the celebrity distance is gone, or if it’s because of something that Namjoon had said something to him.

Eventually, Hoseok caves and just asks Jimin something about Namjoon. He has to know, because if he doesn’t, he’s going to explode.

“No,” Jimin tells him when Hoseok finally breaks down and asks him. They’re both outside of the girl’s locker room, waiting for Seulgi so that the three of them could go to lunch together. “Namjoon’s never talked about you. Well. Not after I asked him about you after the dance social.”

“What did he say?” Hoseok asks, aware of how desperate he sounds. Jimin just gives him a Look. Hoseok isn’t sure how to take that.

“Not much,” is all Jimin tells him. Neither of them say anything else until Seulgi comes out, fully dressed now, and smiles at them. They smile back, and the weird vibe between Hoseok and Jimin is forgotten.

Or at least, it is with Jimin. Hoseok himself can’t stop thinking about it.


The one thing about Hope on the Street videos is that they are time-consuming. Especially now that Hoseok has Yoongi to help direct and edit the videos. Yoongi’s help means that the videos are more elaborate, but also that three times as much effort has to be put into them.

Not that Hoseok was ever lacking in effort back when Hope on the Street was a one-man show, but everything looks much more professional now thanks to Yoongi’s help.

Hoseok recently got a million views on his videos now, and he knows that so much of that is because of Yoongi, even if Yoongi isn’t the one that people recognize.

Hoseok really lucked out so much the day Yoongi decided to tolerate him.

Hoseok throws himself into preparation of the next video with gusto. Work is a great distraction, and it helps Hoseok stop thinking about The Kim Namjoon Problem.

It’s only become such a Problem because Hoseok can’t talk about it with anyone, and so Kim Namjoon festers in his mind. And it’s also because he swears he can hear Namjoon saying, we weren’t friends reverberating in his mind, despite his best efforts.

Hoseok doesn’t want to keep thinking about Kim Namjoon, but he does, as though he can’t stop himself. That’s the real kicker. He can’t stop.

And so working on the choreography with Seulgi and scouting locations with Yoongi becomes his savior. He’s beyond grateful for the excuse to think about things besides schoolwork and The Kim Namjoon Problem.

He doesn’t think that the two would mix until he finds Kim Namjoon himself on the set of the next video, talking with Jimin and Seulgi.

“I hope you don’t mind that I brought these two along,” Seulgi says, throwing her thumb over her shoulder to point at Namjoon and Jimin. “Jimin was dying to see what the process was like, even though he wouldn’t ask you.”

“Noona, how could you!” Jimin said, laughing.

Hoseok raises his eyebrows at noona but Seulgi acts as though she doesn’t see, even though Hoseok knows that she does. Namjoon stands back and just smiles at Jimin’s reaction.

When he realizes that Hoseok is looking at him his grin dims a bit, but doesn’t slide off his face. Hoseok hopes that’s a good sign.

“Are you curious too?” Hoseok asks.

 Namjoon shrugs. “Maybe a little,” he says. “More like Jimin is on a crusade to get me out of my room.”

“You need it, hyung,” is what Jimin says, which makes them all laugh. Hoseok feels a bit out of the loop--which is the worst feeling in the whole world, but Hoseok is a bit better at dealing with it now than he was high school--but they don’t keep him that way for long.

“Come on,” Seulgi tells him, pulling Hoseok along. “Let’s go get ready so that we can get this over with.”

Hoseok and Seulgi dance well together, and this duet is no different.

The backdrop is really cool, an unfinished mural on one of the buildings on their campus. Hoseok liked the fact that it wasn’t done and perfect yet, because of the way everything looked on camera.

He and Seulgi have been practicing the dance for a week now, and at their rehearsal last night it had gone perfectly. It’s not any different this time, but Yoongi still makes sure that they take three takes together for a seamless editing process.

“So what did you think?” Hoseok asks Jimin and Namjoon, once he’s finally finished talking to Yoongi. He’s still a little sweaty and is patting his towel on his face, waiting for their reactions.

“It’s so cool,” Jimin finally admits. “I didn’t realize how much work goes into your videos. Or anyone’s videos, really. And you and noona were great!”

“Thanks, Jimin,” Seulgi says and smiles deeply. “You’ve already told me that, though.”

“Well, it was good enough that you deserve to hear it again,” Jimin says, but Hoseok is barely listening.

Namjoon is just staring at him, and Hoseok wonders if it’s because of the sweat. (Does he smell? He doesn’t think he smells, but it would be embarrassing if he was wrong about that...)

“That really was awesome,” Namjoon tells him, unprompted.

 Hoseok can’t help but smile. “I’m glad you think so. Sorry it took so much time out of your day, though. I know standing around can’t be that fun.”

“It was nice to see the process.” Namjoon looks down at his feet. “I watched a couple of your videos, before this, actually.”

“You did?” Hoseok can’t help but think about how back in high school, he had watched all of those videos of Namjoon as a child, solving those impossible math equations. He wonders if this was even remotely the same. 

“Yeah, Jimin showed me a couple last night. And then I...went back and watched all of the ones that you have up. You made a cool thing, Hoseok.”

When Namjoon looks back at him again, Hoseok is smiling. He can’t help it, just like he can’t help the jolt of excitement that he feels seeing Namjoon’s pink cheeks.

“You and Jimin have to come to the after party tonight,” Hoseok decides to say, because he wants to spend more time with Namjoon, and he isn’t sure how else he’s going to get Namjoon to stick around.

“Party?” Jimin asks, turning away from Seulgi.

“We always have after parties after shoots, before we start editing,” Hoseok explains. “Since you and Namjoon came to watch, you both should come.”

“We’ll be there,” Jimin says, before Namjoon can even react.

Hoseok chances a look at Namjoon and he seems surprised, but he nods once he realizes that Hoseok is looking at him.

“I’ll think about it,” is all Namjoon says, looking at Jimin now.

And really, that’s all Hoseok can ask for.


Yoongi and Hoseok’s apartment is small enough that Hoseok is made immediately aware of when Namjoon walks through the door.

The apartment is also big enough that everyone is not on top of each other, so Hoseok decides to take advantage of that space and doesn’t go up to Namjoon immediately. Instead he sticks with Seokjin and Yoongi, who invited Joohyun and Seungwan over, and gives Jimin and Namjoon the opportunity to come to them instead.

They don’t, as it turns out. Seulgi scoops up Jimin, and in turn Namjoon, and they spend the night in the other side of the apartment. Which is fine, really. Hoseok is definitely being subtle. Definitely. Definitely.

“You’re not being subtle,” Yoongi tells him, once Seokjin has gotten up to get another drink.

 Hoseok sniffs. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says. He can’t quite look at Yoongi when he says it, instead focusing on the cap of his beer.

“Just go talk to him you fucking weirdo.”

“Go talk to who?” Seokjin asks, settling into the space that he left open. “Does our Hoseokie have an actual interest in someone, or does he just want to suck his dick?”

“Hyung,” Hoseok sighs.

“It’s an actual interest, I’m pretty sure,” Yoongi says, as if Hoseok isn’t sitting right next to him. Honestly, Hoseok needs better friends. Fast.

“Oh? With which one?”

“The one over there by Seulgi.”

“He’s cute. Probably too cute for Hoseok.”

“Hey!” Hoseok cuts in. “I’m right here.”

“I know that,” Seokjin tells him. “You should be over there, though, next to him.”

“I can’t. It’s...it’s weird.”

Seokjin just stares at him. “Why is it weird?” he asks, once it’s clear that Hoseok isn’t going to offer any other information.

“Well, because we knew each other in high school, and I was an asshole to him. I mean I was only fourteen and stupid, but, you know. I was way more of a jerk than he deserved. And then, when he was on the verge of a breakdown, I kind of...sucked his dick? And then, after that, he ended up leaving school because of said breakdown, and so I hadn’t seen him since he left our high school and ended up coming to the dance department social a couple months back. And when I saw him there he said that we weren’t friends when we were in high school. Which we weren’t, but why would you say that? So it’s weird now. It’s weird!”

Seokjin and Yoongi gape at him before Yoongi finally offers, “What the fuck.”

“I know.” Hoseok covers his eyes. This is the worst. Saying everything out loud made it sound worse. And it was already pretty bad to start with.

“Well, you know the best way to make something not weird?” Seokjin asks.

“No-” Yoongi begins, but Seokjin stands up as if he didn’t hear him.

“We’re going to have party games in the kitchen,” Seokjin calls. “Starting now! Come if you want, and if you don’t, well, you can keep sitting on the couch and have your own fun.” Seokjin wiggles his eyebrows at Hoseok, who ignores him. 

Most of the party heads into the kitchen, but there are at least five people who linger. One of them, notably, being Namjoon.

But Namjoon doesn’t just linger. Instead, he slips on his coat and walks out the front door. 

Hoseok has a decision to make. He can let Namjoon walk out the door--which he would have done when he was in high school, no question about it--or he can get up and walk after him.

Hoseok follows behind him once Namjoon creeps out the door. 

“Hey, are you leaving?” Hoseok asks, once they’re both in the hallway.

“What?” Namjoon turns around.

“Are you leaving the party?”

“No. I was...uh. I was just going to get some fresh air, and maybe some water. It’s really...hot in there.”

“Oh.” Hoseok stands there, feeling foolish, before he adds, “Well, can I come with you? I could use some air too.”

“Sure. But isn’t it, you know, your party? I mean, it’s a party thrown for you, so...”

Hoseok shrugs. “They’re more of an excuse to have a party then really about me. And Yoongi is there to make sure no one pukes on the carpet or anything, so it’s fine if I go with you. Unless you don’t want me to. And if you don’t want me to then, that’s fine.”

“No. It’s probably good to have someone to come with me.” Namjoon pauses. “I might be a little drunk, actually.”

“Well, I don’t drink, so I’m not drunk.”

Namjoon appears surprised at this. “You don’t drink?”

Hoseok shakes his head. “Not anymore, at least.”

“Okay, then. Let’s go.”

He starts walking away, and it’s almost a cool image until he trips over thin air. Hoseok hurries up to walk beside him, to make sure that Namjoon doesn’t fall flat on his face.

The air is much cooler once they finally make it outside. Hoseok guides Namjoon to the nearby convenience store for his bottle of water.

“Do you want some ramen?” Namjoon asks, looking at the shelves. “I think I want some ramen.”

“Sure, get two of whatever you want and I’ll buy it.” Namjoon opens his mouth as if to argue, but Hoseok cuts him off before he can. “Nope, I’ll buy it, because you’re drunk and I’m not.” He sends the cashier an apologetic look, to which he just shrugs. 

They eat at the table outside of the convenience store, once they’ve microwaved their ramen. Namjoon digs in with gusto, and Hoseok watches him.

“You know,” Hoseok begins, wanting to break the silence. “I was surprised when you came to the party. You never came to any of the ones that happen in high school.”

Namjoon smiles wryly. “I was never invited to any of the parties in high school, if you can recall.”

“Oh yeah.” Hoseok falls silent.

Namjoon watches him carefully before shrugging and continuing to eat.

Hoseok sits and swirls noodles around his wooden chopsticks, but doesn’t say anything. He knows that he’s fidgety, and eventually Namjoon calls him on it.

“Whatever you want to ask me, you should just ask." 

Hoseok hesitates, before caving. “What did you tell Jimin about me? He’s kind of weird now.”

“I just told him what I told my therapist about you.” The alcohol is definitely speaking there because Namjoon looks surprised at what’s just come out of his mouth. Almost as surprised as Hoseok feels.

“You...uh. You had a therapist?”

“Have, actually.” Namjoon shrugs. “I had a nervous breakdown and had to leave school, did you think I wouldn’t have one?”

“No. I just. I don’t know. I didn’t think that you would tell me that you had one, I guess. Or that you would talk about me to one.”

Namjoon stops eating. “I’m not ashamed to have a therapist. There’s no shame in getting help, and if you think less of me because of it then that’s your problem, and also fuck you.”

“No, no, that’s not what I mean. Sorry. Everything I say to you ends up sounding worse than I mean for it to. If you need help, then you need it, and it’s good that you’re getting it. Really, I mean that.”

Namjoon relaxes some at his words. “And as for talking about you, yeah, of course I did. You were, like, a huge part of my life in high school. I had such a crush on you. A lot of my time was spent feeling sorry for myself because you would never like me half as much as I liked you.”

“I...” Hoseok trails off. “I mean, I...”

“You don’t have to say anything.” Namjoon shrugs. “It’s fine, I made my peace with it.”

“Talking to you is hard for me,” Hoseok finally admits. “You mess me up a little, seeing you here. I don’t know. I never thought that I’d see you again.”

“Yeah, well, I never thought that I’d see you again either. And then there you were my third day on campus. It really threw me for a loop. But nothing I told Jimin wasn’t true. We weren’t friends.”

“I know we weren’t,” Hoseok tells him. “I was an asshole to you in high school, and I know that, and I’m sorry. But I’m not that person anymore. I’ve grown up. So...if you want to be friends, real friends, now...you know, I’m here.”

Hoseok forces himself to keep looking at Namjoon. He doesn’t want to glance away, and seem in any way insincere. Not when this means so much to him.

“Okay,” Namjoon says finally. “Okay. We can be friends.”

Hoseok can’t stop his smile from overtaking his face. Namjoon’s tentative smile in return made all the uncertainty worth it.


Hoseok can’t help but feel a little amazed by how easily Namjoon (and by extension, Jimin) stumble into their friend group.

He’s happy to be Namjoon’s friend. He’s happy to have Namjoon around. He knows really missed out in high school, because while he’s sure that Namjoon is a different person now, Hoseok also knows that his dimples are the same, and his weird ideas, and the fact that his backpack is always a mess.

All of Hoseok’s new friends like him. He fits in like he’d been there the whole time, and everyone gels together without any problems.

Namjoon even manages to win over Yoongi, of all people. Hosoek knows that Yoongi is a tough nut to crack from personal experience, and so when he sees the two of them walking together in front of the dance building (Namjoon and Hoseok tend to get lunch together at least once a week, because Hoseok insisted on it after they ended up walking past each other a few times on the way to the student union building, and Namjoon was coming to pick Hoseok up) and talking, he’s amazed.

“Are you two coming from the same place?” Hoseok asks, when they meet up with him to start the walk to lunch. “Do you always do that?”

“Namjoon’s in one of my classes, actually. Did I not tell you that?”

No. Since when?”

“Uh.” Namjoon raises his eyebrows. “Since always? I guess? Since the beginning of the semester?”

“How did I not know that?" 

“Probably because no one bothered to tell you, because it wasn't any of your business,” Yoongi says. He raises an eyebrow at Hoseok, and it’s definitely judgey. Hoseok thinks that he can keep that to himself, thank you very much. “Anyway, I have to go to the library to print out a paper that’s due today, so I’ll leave you guys to it. Good luck, Joon-ah.”

Namjoon chuckles, and Hoseok can feel most of the weird annoyance deflate out of him at the sound. “Are you really in a film class?” Hoseok asks.

“Yeah.” Namjoon shrugs again. “Is that a big deal?” 

“No. I’m just. Surprised, I guess.” At Namjoon’s blank look, he elaborates. “I mean, our high school isn’t very known for putting emphasis on the arts, so you wouldn’t think...” 

“You have a lot of time to read when you’re in the hospital. And I always liked books more than I liked math equations, so. The choice was easy, really.”

“Everyone else that I know from high school is majoring in business or biology,” Hoseok confesses. Hyuk even went to America, MIT specifically, to study. Hoseok hasn’t heard from him since he left, and he can’t say that he’s crying about it. He decides not to mention Hyuk to Namjooon, because he doesn’t want to make this worse.

“You’re not,” Namjoon points out.

“I mean...no. I’m not. Much to my dad's disappointment.”

“My grandpa is the same way.”

“Dr. Yoo?”

Namjoon sighs. “Yeah. Him.” They walk along in silence before Namjoon laughs suddenly.

“What?”

“Why did this get so weird and heavy? Why does everything with us get weird and heavy?” 

“I don’t think everything does,” Hoseok tries. “But I don’t know either. High school’s in the past, right? We should just forget about it. Especially since you decided to forgive me.”

“I think it’s just that we know so much about each other, because we saw it first hand. It makes things weird, especially somewhere like college, where you kind of get a fresh start. We don’t let each other have a fresh start.”

“Well I, for one, vote to put an end to the weirdness. What do you say?”

Hoseok crinkles up his nose thoughtfully. “I’ll try,” Hoseok says finally. “But I don’t know. You’re a pretty weird guy, so...”

Namjoon laughs. “Shut up,” he says, and shoves Hoseok playfully.

Hoseok laughs too, like it’s a reflex, and vows not to let things get this weird again.


As the semester passed, Hoseok realized that Jimin wasn’t kidding when he said that it took effort to get Namjoon out of their room.

Namjoon liked staying in. And Hoseok did too, sometimes, but Namjoon took it to a whole other level.

“What do you mean Namjoon isn’t coming?” Hoseok asks, once Jimin’s in the car. “We’ve had these plans for like, what, two weeks?” 

“A week and a half,” Seokjin clarifies. “Just let him live, Hobi, we have to go pick up Seulgi and Seungwan too and the line is going to be ridiculously long if we take forever to get them.”

“Let me go up and talk to him really fast,” Hoseok said, making one last attempt.

“Why do I take any of you anywhere,” Seokjin began wailing, “when all you do is treat me and my car and my time like this.”

“I’ll be fast,” Hoseok promises, and rushes out to get into the door before it closed behind the residents that were walking out.

Jimin and Namjoon live on the fourth floor, as Hoseok knows from the few times Jimin or Namjoon have let him up there when they needed to get something from their room. He does his best to appear casual (the last thing he needs is to have an RA tell him to get out because he doesn’t live here) until he finally makes his way to the right door and starts pounding.

 “Alright already,” Hoseok can hear Namjoon say. “Somebody had better be...de....ad...” Namjoon trails off. “Wow. You look really...um. Good.”

“I know,” Hoseok says. “So should you. We’re going out, remember?”

“But I, really don’t want to? I know you like it but I had a long week and I’m tired and...” Namjoon stops, and then sighs. “No, you’re right, it’s fine. I should go out. Just let me, uh, get ready.”

If anyone had asked, the only reason that Hoseok wanted to push Namjoon to come out was for the chance to get to hang out with him again. Namjoon was right, they’d both had a busy week with midterms on the horizon, and so they hadn’t been able to hang out at any of their usual times. 

It isn’t so much about what they were doing as who Hoseok was doing it with, so seeing Namjoon get all dejected like this, just because Hoseok was pushing him...it doesn’t sit right with Hoseok. Not at all.

“Hey, you know you don’t have to, right? It’s really fine, if you don’t want to.”

“You came all the way up here to get me to get dressed so it seems like I kind of do.”

Hoseok winces internally. “No, really, if you don’t want to that’s fine. I just.” Hoseok looks down at his shoes, wondering how to word this. He usually wasn’t this bad with human interaction, honestly, and he hated that it only ever seemed to come out with Namjoon. Namjoon, whose opinion he cared so much about. “I wanted to hang out, I guess. I haven’t seen you in a while. But if you don’t want to, it’s fine.”

“I mean...if you wanted to just stay here and hang out with me...I wouldn’t say no? Again, if you wanted.”

“No, I think that sounds nice. That sounds really nice.” Hoseok smiles. “Hang on, just let me make a call.” Hoseok pulls his phone out of his pocket and presses on Seokjin’s contact. “Hyung,” he says, “I’m going to stay here with Namjoon. You can go pick up the girls, if you want.”

“You wasted ten minutes of my time for that? Honestly,” Seokjin grumbles, and then hangs up. 

“Will you promise to go out with me next weekend?” Hoseok asks, putting his phone back up. “Please, Namjoon-ah?”

Namjoon shakes his head, looking more amused than anything else. “I don’t know why you want me to go out with you guys so badly, but sure. Next week.”

“We like you coming out with us because we like you,” Hoseok says. “Duh, Namjoon. Did you think we just hung out with you because we felt sorry for you?”

When Namjoon freezes, Hoseok narrows his eyes. “Seriously?” 

“It’s just a little jarring to go from having no friends to having a whole group of them, okay? Don’t look at me like that.”

“I can tell you right now that if we didn’t like you, you’d be toast. And I think you’d know it especially if Jimin didn’t like you. Did you know he only stopped giving me the stink eye last week? He doesn’t mess around.” 

Namjoon snorts. “That’s definitely true, at least.”

“See? So relax.”

The smile that Namjoon gives Hoseok is shy, and full of dimples, and almost a little fond. Hoseok finds himself hoping that it is fondness that he sees there, and not just his imagination, because he can feel something like affection settling in his chest looking at Namjoon.

“Fine, I’ll relax,” Namjoon says finally. “Do you want to change into something more comfortable?”

Hoseok looks down at himself. Sure what he’s wearing isn’t exactly stay in and watch movies style, but it doesn’t look bad. Or at least, it shouldn’t look bad, because Hoseok is hot and his shirt is also hot. “What, you don’t like what I’m wearing?”

“Your pants look painted on,” Namjoon points out, voice dry. “I have a sweatshirt that would probably fit you, if you wanted to wear it.”

 “Sure,” Hoseok tells him. “Give it to me. I’ll just wear my boxers I guess, if you don’t mind.”

“I don’t,” Namjoon says, and turns back to his drawers to find the shirt he’s going to give Hoseok.

When Hoseok turns to change, he feels Namjoon’s gaze on him. He can’t help but wonder if he’s just being hyper aware or not, so he turns quickly to catch Namjoon in the act.

Namjoon’s face turns bright red once he realizes that Hoseok’s caught him.  

“See something you like?” Hoseok couldn’t help but ask, the words more flirtatious than he meant for them to come out.

“Just put the shirt on,” Namjoon tells him, this time turning all the way around.

Hoseok pulls the sweatshirt all the way down, noting how big it is on him anyway. 

“I was planning on watching The Wizard of Oz, if you’re okay with that.”

The Wizard of Oz ? That really old movie?”

“It’s a good movie!”

Hoseok just laughed at the look on Namjoon’s face. “Yeah, sure,” he says finally. “I don’t care what we watch, let’s just watch it.”

They’re almost halfway through the movie before Hoseok decides to just ask something that he’s been thinking about for a while now.

“Namjoon,” he begins, in the middle of the Cowardly Lion beginning his song, “you’re gay, right?” 

“Uh,” Namjoon starts. “I mean. Yeah, I am. Why?”

Hoseok shrugs. “Just curious, I guess. So how did you know, you know, that you were gay?”

Namjoon gives him a Look. “Are you trying to find out if that blowjob that you gave me in high school was my great Gay Awakening, or something? I already told you that I had a huge crush on you.”

“I know, but I don’t know. Things could be different now, or something. I just wanted to be sure.”

“More like you wanted to be sure you giving me a blowjob when we were both eighteen stuck with me.”

“I was just asking!”

 Namjoon shakes his head. “You’re ridiculous. But okay, yes. Your blowjob helped me realize for sure that I was gay. Are you happy now.”

“A little, yes.” Hoseok grins. “I can put you down as another poor soul that I’ve converted to the homosexual lifestyle.”

“What, there are more?”

“I had this phase my freshman year of college where I messed around with guys who said they were straight a lot. I guess because I was scared of, I don’t know, feelings or something. I didn’t want guys getting attached, so I went for the worst possible option, you know? Anyway, it kind of messed me up for a while, but Yoongi finally talked me out of doing stuff like that because it was bad for me.”

“Hyung’s a good friend,” is all Namjoon says to this. He looks at Hoseok consideringly. “Are you still...scared of feelings?”

“Not as much, but maybe a little. Feelings are terrifying if you aren’t aware.”

“I’m aware,” Namjoon tells him. He hesitates a bit before saying, “Oh, this is the best part!” and turns back to the TV.

Hoseok studies him for a little bit, before turning to the TV. When he scoots a little closer to Namjoon, Namjoon doesn’t push him away.


Everything is going so well that Hoseok is blown out of the water when everything goes to shit almost as soon as they started getting really good.

Hoseok is eating lunch with Jimin when Namjoon comes to sit down on Jimin’s other side that next week and says, “I’m not going to be able to go out with you tonight.”

Hoseok can’t help the way his frown starts to pull down his face, so he doesn’t even try. “What?” he asks. “You said you could.”

“Tell him why!” Jimin says, with a grin on his face like he already knows exactly what’s going on.

“I...uh...I have a date.”

“A date?” Hoseok’s voice comes out all screechy, and he wishes, for a moment, that it isn’t so. He can’t seem to help that either.

“Yeah, Jimin set it up. He said it would be good for me.”

“My friend Taehyung is a really nice guy,” Jimin says. “In case you were worried. So it should be good for him, scout’s honor.”

“You would be the only one that's worried, Jimin. But I’m going to hold you to that,” Namjoon says, and he won’t look at Hoseok. Hoseok finds that he doesn’t really want to look at Namjoon either, so he doesn’t. “We can hang out tomorrow, though, if you want.” 

“That’s fine,” Hoseok says. He focuses really hard on the slice of avocado pizza that he’s eating. “You can come over. Yoongi hyung’s going to be with Joohyun noona, so we’ll have the apartment to ourselves.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive,” Hoseok promises, and finally looks up. Namjoon has really expressive eyes, and he’s known that, so it almost hurts to see them looking so worried. Hoseok smiles, as if that’s supposed to help ease them any. 

“Okay,” Namjoon says, softening a little. “Then I’ll see you tomorrow.”


Hoseok goes out that night, but it’s not any fun at all. Hoseok keeps thinking about Namjoon on that date. He’s never met Taehyung, but he wonders if he and Namjoon are having a good time.

He’s torn between hoping that they are, and hoping that they aren’t. He wants Namjoon to have a good time, but he also doesn’t want him to have too good of a time.

So he sucks, basically, and he knows that he sucks. So he does his best to not think about it, actually getting drunk that night instead.

He wakes up late in the afternoon, thirty minutes after Namjoon’s text him to announce that he’s coming over.

Hoseok attempts to clean up a little, and shower and put on some clean clothes, before Namjoon arrives. The last thing he wants is for Namjoon to see what a mess he is right now. 

By the time Namjoon finally knocks on the door, things are mostly how Hoseok wants them.

“Hey,” Namjoon says. “You look kind of rough.”

“Yeah. You know. Long night.”

“So you ended up going out after all?”

“Yep,” is all that Hoseok offers. “Do you want something to drink? Because I definitely want something.”

“A bottle of water, if you’ve got it.”

“We do,” Hoseok says, leaving Namjoon to settle on the couch.

Hoseok contemplates hitting his forehead on the fridge, but he knows that would definitely be noticed, so he decides not to do that. Instead he just takes a deep breath of that cool air, and gets them both water bottles.

When he gets back, Namjoon is sitting down. Hoseok gives him his water and decides to keep standing up, because it feels right.

“How was your date?” Hoseok forces himself to ask.

“It was fun. Taehyung is a really cool person.”

“Oh. That’s...good.”

Hoseok isn’t sure how to deal with this, exactly. He doesn’t know how to feel. Namjoon is his friend, so of course he’s glad the date went well. But there’s a bigger part that feels bad about Namjoon having such a good time.

Namjoon deserves to have a good time, though. Of course he does. Namjoon deserves to like a guy who likes him back.

Hoseok knows, though, that he could be that guy. He could definitely be that guy. But he doesn’t want to intrude on something good that could have possibly started for Namjoon, away from him.

He bites his lip, unsure of how to proceed.

"Hey, do you remember how you said that you wouldn't let things get weird again?" Namjoon asks suddenly.  

"Yeah?"

"Well, you're acting weird now."

"Oh." Hoseok looks down at his hands. "I guess so."

"So why are you acting weird?"

Hoseok decides to answer this question with another question. "You had a crush on me in high school, right?"

"Yeah." Namjoon laughs awkwardly and puts his cup down. "I mean, it was a long time ago, so-"

Hoseok decides to stop him before the new cloud of awkwardness descends upon them fully. "Do you think...I don't know. Do you think you still have a crush? Or that you...could?"

Namjoon freezes.

“I think...I think I could,” Namjoon says finally. “Yeah. I really think I could.”

“Well,” Hoseok says, starting to reach out. He almost stops himself, before gathering up the rest of his courage, and grabbing Namjoon’s hand. His heart lights up when Namjoon turns his hand over and laces their feelings together. “I can tell you that I do like you.” Hoseok says.

His heart is beating so fast he feels like he can’t breathe, but he finally said it. It’s out there, in the world.

This was almost six years in the making and now he’s finally said it. 

He feels lighter now. His feelings are heavier than he thought.

“Good,” Namjoon says, and reaches over to kiss him.

It’s their first kiss, and Hoseok later, when asked to describe it, Hoseok makes sure not to oversell it.

He just describes it like this: Their first kiss is everything.

 

 

Hoseok does his best to make sure that their first string of dates is perfect.

“Are you actually worried?” Namjoon asks on their first date, when Hoseok’s hands won't stop shaking. He thought that he was hiding them well, but apparently not. He moves his hands under the table to hide them.

“Are you actually not ?”

Namjoon just grins, and leans forward. “Not really,” he says. “I’m giving you an all or nothing shot, and so there's no point in worrying about it.” 

“All or nothing, huh?”

“Yep. I had to, when I realized how much you liked me.”

Hoseok makes a face at this, and watches as Namjoon laughs. 

“Seriously,” Namjoon tells him, “don't worry about it. Just hold my hand.”

He reaches out and places his hand on the table, palm up. Hoseok hesitates for only a moment before he places his hand in Namjoon’s. Namjoon squeezes his hand lightly once, but doesn’t let go.

“See?” Namjoon says. “It’s easy.”

Hoseok is shocked to realize that it actually is easier than he thought, dating Namjoon.

 He had never dated before and had never really wanted to. In high school, he had gone out on a few group dates, but had never had any interest in any of the girls. This is because, of course, he’s gay but he had at least tried.

His freshman year of college he’d just wanted to sleep around. Sex, he found out, was good, especially when he didn’t have to hide his attraction. Gays tended to herd together, and so once he’d found a niche of them, he was set up.

These people also had straight friends who were open-minded and therefore sometimes willing to experiment, which had been what Hoseok had really been drawn to back then. Sleeping with people in his friend group got weird, fast, because Hoseok didn’t want feelings. They were scary.

After being so mixed up for so long, he didn’t want to deal with that here. Straight guys would never come back for him for anything other than sex, or that one time, so he gave into them more easily.

Yoongi had been the one who had told him to slow down on that, and he’d honestly been right. It wasn’t good for him. So he’d gone an entire summer without sex, and now he wants it again.

Wants it specifically, with Namjoon, who he had feelings for.

That might make it scarier, actually. The fact that he actually cares about this relationship. Because he does care. A lot. Even the thought of Namjoon deciding to cut ties with him completely makes his stomach knot up.

But any time he even thinks about doing something to sabotage their budding relationship, Namjoon does something amazing and sweet and Hoseok feels lucky that Namjoon even gives him the time of day.

This happens one day when Hoseok has invited Namjoon over to his and Yoongi’s apartment to study. Yoongi is gone, over at Joohyun’s again, and so they have the whole place to themselves. Hoseok had planned to take advantage of it, but it doesn’t happen in the way that he expects.

Namjoon’s backpack, being the eternal mess that it is, makes pieces of paper fly everywhere when it falls to the ground. (Namjoon had knocked it with his elbow at an impressive amount of strength, considering the fact that they had just been sitting at the coffee table.)  

“Oh shit!” Namjoon says, watching as the mess from his bag turns into a hurricane of paper and school supplies in the living room. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Hoseok laughs, waving away Namjoon’s concerns.

He picks one of the pieces of paper that are fluttering to the floor at random and sees the word Hobi.

Out of curiosity, he unthinkingly opens the piece of paper (which had been folded and crumpled, as if shoved quickly to the bottom of a backpack in haste) and reads what it says.

Glowing appearance, glowing. Black jeans and a white t-shirt. Gathering the essence of the sky, absorbing the essence of the sun and moon.

“Uh,” Hoseok says, once he’s read this. He’s not sure what to say, but it makes something light up inside of him. Something good, and wonderful, and he can feels his feelings for Namjoon rushing through him.

He’s a little shocked at the intensity if he’s being honest. And yet it makes perfect sense.

“Oh, shit,” Namjoon says, “Sorry, I didn’t think that you’d ever-”

“That’s about me, right?” Hoseok asks pedantically.

“Yes,” Namjoon finally admits. He’s not looking at Hoseok, but they’ve spent enough time together now that Hoseok is ninety-nine point nine percent sure that Namjoon is blushing. “Um, I wrote it the day that I watched you and Seulgi film your duet. If you remember.”

“Of course I remember,” Hoseok says, voice softer than he means for it to be. “This is going to sound creepy and is probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever said out loud, but I remember everything about you, Namjoon.”

“Sometimes I wish you didn’t,” Namjoon says suddenly.

That makes everything that’s been bubbling up inside of Hoseok come to a screeching halt.

“What do you mean?” he asks, and tries to cover up how hurt he feels suddenly. He knows that they weren’t friends in high school but this feels like it’s going too far, because Hoseok always looked back on their limited interactions almost fondly.

Namjoon had been the best thing about the Seoul Accelerated Academy for Math and Science for Hoseok. When he had left, Hoseok had completely pulled away from everything he had previously held dear, because Namjoon’s absence had made Hoseok realize just how little everything mattered.

“Don’t you think it would have been nice to meet each other with a clean slate? Without all the baggage?”

“No,” Hoseok says firmly. “I really don’t.”

“But...why? Things would have been easier.”

Hoseok shrugs. “They would have been easier but...then we wouldn’t be each other, and it’s possible that we wouldn’t be together right now. And I know how that sounds, considering we only really started...dating-” Hoseok stumbles over the word here, but Namjoon doesn’t even blink, so Hoseok keeps going, “-two months ago, but. I like things how they are. And I also like you, how you are. I wish you didn’t have to go through some of the things that you went through but I wouldn’t trade you for anyone else. Our baggage isn’t too heavy for me.”

Glowing , Namjoon described him. Hoseok is pretty sure that’s true, because his embarrassment and panic can probably be seen from space.

Hoseok forces himself to shut up there, because that’s done it, he’s totally overselling everything and sounds like an idiot in the process. Namjoon is going to see that he’s way too invested in a guy that he might or might not have had a crush on almost two years ago now, and he’s going to leave, and not want anything to do with Hoseok again. Namjoon is going to think that he’s putting too much of himself into this relationship, and Namjoon’s own experience, and he’s being an insensitive prick, and-

Whatever fears Hoseok may have had--and there are many, so many--Namjoon doesn’t let Hoseok linger on them for too long. Instead he leans over and kisses Hoseok firmly on the mouth.

Hoseok sinks into the kiss, bringing his hands up to Namjoon’s neck to bring him even closer. The kiss grows deeper, fast, and somehow Hoseok ends up in Namjoon’s lap, because he can’t stand being away from him.

Namjoon’s fingers are tangled in Hoseok’s hair when he finally pulls away, both of their chests touching as they breathe deeply.

From his place in Namjoon’s lap, Hoseok asks, “Do you want...to go into my bedroom? And continue...this?”

He’s tentative when asking, because he doesn’t want to presume too much. He doesn’t want to presume at all. But this is still what he wants, and he chooses to stroke the soft skin of Namjoon’s neck as he waits for an answer, hoping beyond hope.

“Yeah,” Namjoon says. “Yeah, I’d like that a lot.” 

Hoseok scrambles off Namjoon, holding out his hand for him to take. Namjoon threads their fingers together easily, and so they walk the five steps to Hoseok’s bedroom holding hands. Even that limited point of contact makes him giddy, and giddier still when he lays on the bed, beckoning for Namjoon to join him. 

Namjoon doesn’t even hesitate, which Hoseok is grateful for. He lays on his side, facing Hoseok, and they’re so close together that Hoseok can feel Namjoon’s breath. It’s not even gross or too hot, which Hoseok thinks speaks to just how much he likes Namjoon.

“So,” Namjoon whispers.

“So,” Hoseok whispers back, because that’s what this has turned into. He reaches out to caress Namjoon’s arm, because he can’t seem to stop touching him. He doesn’t want to stop.

“I’m down for anything you want,” Namjoon says finally, after just looking at Hoseok for a little bit.

“Oh, so you’re down to get down, huh?” Hoseok asks, just to make Namjoon laugh.

It works, and the reverent mood shifts some.

“Always,” Namjoon says, once he’s stopped laughing. His eyes are really warm. Hoseok leans in to kiss him softly, and feels unbelievably lucky when Namjoon kisses him back.

Namjoon turns his head, and Hoseok takes that as a sign to get even closer. He deepens the kiss, slipping his tongue into Namjoon’s mouth. Namjoon takes it in stride, bringing his hand to Hoseok’s hip and digging his fingers into the skin right above the waist of Hoseok’s jeans.

Hoseok likes that. He likes it a lot. So he moves to push Namjoon down onto the bed so that he can straddle his hips, making the kissing easier. Both of Namjoon’s hands instinctively go to Hoseok’s hips then, and Hoseok likes the feel of them there. Could do with a lot more of them there.

It’s easier into this position to rock into Namjoon. So Hoseok does, and he can feel himself growing hard from the friction, his jeans and Namjoon’s own pants restricting them both.

“What if...” Hoseok says, breaking the kiss. He shifts on Namjoon’s lap, and can feel how hard he is just from that. Namjoon moans, a choked sound, and Hoseok smiles at the sound, running his hands up Namjoon’s stomach to his chest. “I was down, to go down on you?”

“You mean...” Namjoon starts. He moans again as Hoseok keeps his hips moving in small circles as he stops, unwilling to stop the sensation just yet. He loves how Namjoon looks under him.

“Yep,” Hoseok says. “Anything else today would be too much work, but.” Hoseok stops, taking a deep breath. “I’m willing to do that. 

“I want to get you off too,” Namjoon tells him, a little stubborn. Hoseok smiles at the churlish tone in his voice, completely different from how blissed off he was before.

“You can. Just let me work first.”

“Or...” Namjoon bites his lip. “Or we can...at the same time?”

Oh. Hoseok hadn’t thought of that.

“That sounds great to me,” Hosoek says, and because he can’t seem to stop, he leans in to kiss Namjoon again.

He has to pull away so that both of them can undress, and when he looks up he finds Namjoon staring at him, pink cheeked.

“You have a cute dick,” Hoseok says, just to make him blush more. “But I knew that already.”

“Yours is...nice too,” Namjoon offers, sounding a little overwhelmed. Hoseok laughs and kisses him softly.

“Get on the bed,” Hoseok says. “I’ve been waiting to do this again since...I don’t know...the first time I saw you at the social.”

“Really?” Namjoon asks, the word going breathy at the end when Hoseok strokes his cock. Hoseok can’t see his face, but that doesn’t matter. He can tell how affected Namjoon is, based on the sound of his voice alone.

“Really.”

It takes a little bit to get situated in the way they want on the bed, but once they figure it out Hoseok kisses the soft part of Namjoon’s stomach.

Hoseok actually really likes sucking dick. He could live without the taste, and without the selfish guys that don’t care about their partners and who make him choke, but there’s something about it that he really likes. The feeling, maybe, or the fact that it’s his mouth making whoever he’s with sound like that.

He’s never really examined it, but there’s something surreal about the first dick that he ever sucked being in front of him again like this. It’s good, too though. Very good, considering who this dick is attached to.

Without any further ado, Hoseok leans down and licks the tip of Namjoon’s dick. He hears Namjoon react to that further down the bed, before he can feel wet warmth on his cock too. It’s all Hoseok can do not to choke in surprise, and he pulls off to take a deep breath before getting back to work. 

The last time Hoseok had Namjoon’s dick in his mouth, Hoseok had been eighteen years old, and had no idea what he was doing. He’s twenty now, and he definitely has a better idea of what to do.

He lavishes attention at the slit, and watches the way Namjoon’s thighs shake as Hoseok does something that he particularly likes. The way his dick twitches when Hoseok has to pull off to breathe.

Namjoon obviously knows what he’s doing too, and sometimes he forces Hoseok to stop just to focus on the way Namjoon’s tongue moves, the way that his mouth feels around him. Namjoon is careful but precise, and he keeps one of his hands on the side of Hoseok’s calf, gripping the skin there when Hoseok does something particularly successful.

There’s something about the sensation of Namjoon’s mouth, and the feeling of him in Hoseok’s mouth, that has Hoseok coming faster than he wants to. He shudders with his whole body when he comes, and does his best to keep from being too loud. It’s mostly successful. He hopes.

What isn’t quiet is the sound that Namjoon makes, something like pain. Hoseok sits up immediately, trying to see what happened.

“I’ve got your come in my eye,” Namjoon says in explanation, and there’s something about the tone of Namjoon’s voice as he says it, and the image of Namjoon covering his eye, that makes them both start laughing.

“Here, let me go get you a washcloth,” Hoseok tells him, and stands with shaky legs to go to the bathroom.

He wipes Namjoon’s eye carefully when he gets back, cooing at Namjoon, who keeps laughing. Hoseok’s glad he finds it funny instead of being mad, because the whole thing is ridiculous, and Namjoon’s still hard.

“Do you want me to take care of that for you too?” Hoseok asks, once Namjoon’s all cleaned up.

“Please,” Namjoon says, and bites his lip.

Hoseok watches this time when he makes Namjoon come with his hand, sees the way that Namjoon squeezes his eyes shut before he sighs and there’s come all over Hoseok’s hand.

It’s messy, and it’s silly, and it’s weird and gross, and Hoseok thinks that this is definitely in his top five sexual experiences ever. It might just be the best one.

He decides to tell Namjoon as much, and when he does Namjoon sits up in surprise. “Really?” Namjoon asks, and then starts laughing again. “That was a mess.”

“That’s what made it so great. And because it happened with you, I guess.”

“I guess,” Namjoon says, joking and snuggles closer. “If you had told me that this would be my life two years ago I would never have believed you.”

“I would have.”

“Really?”

Hoseok shakes his head. “No, of course not. But I’m glad it’s happening now.”

Namjoon stops, and hums. He kisses Hoseok one more time. “Me too,” is all he says, and it’s enough.