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Angels All Over (That Watch Over You)

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“What were you saying we needed?” Hoseok asks, looking over to where Jimin is, the younger boy busy eyeing the cereal aisle.

“Cereal,” a little voice from somewhere beside Hoseok answers him.

Hoseok looks down at his daughter, who tugs on his hand all the while pointing to where Jimin is, the little girl mumbling something under her breath that sounds a lot like she doesn’t exactly trust Jimin with the fine art of cereal selection.

“Daddy, come on,” she pulls on Hoseok’s hand, Hoseok allowing himself to be dragged along by a five year old who barely even reaches his waist. She’s small, even for her age, the only thing that really adds to her height are her curls, messily tied and bouncing around. At least they’ve got Jimin to thank for that.

When they reach them, Jimin casts a sheepish glance at Hoseok before he swoops down to lift Sunhee up into his arms, pinching her cheeks for her sassy little comment. Hoseok doesn’t know where she gets it, but then he looks at Jimin sticking his tongue out at her in a playful little gesture and he sort of has a feeling just how much his own friends’ own attitude has helped shaped his daughter.

“I’ll have you know, I’m excellent at cereal selection,” Jimin tries to say, but it’s no use, Sunhee’s already slipped out from his hold, jumping back down to the floor so she could dart down to the end of the aisle to grab her favourite cereal, leaving both Hoseok and Jimin behind to stare at the space she’d just occupied literally three seconds ago.

Hoseok lets out a sigh. “I don’t know where she gets it,”

Jimin rolls his eyes. “Right, high-strung, crazy amount of energy. Really don’t know where she gets that from,” this one he jabs at Hoseok, sharper than expected, but Hoseok just laughs at that and tells him to watch out for Sunhee while he goes back to grab for the cart they’d left behind.

“Kook’s on his way,” Jimin tells him, as soon as Hoseok’s back. Sunhee looks happier, now, her box of cereal clutched tightly in her arms. “You like Jungkookie, don’t you, Sunhee?”

She scrunches her nose up at Jimin. “No,”

“Sunny,” Hoseok murmurs, tugging on her pigtail playfully. “Be nice. Didn’t Jungkookie give you that cute hat you liked so much the other day?”

Sunhee takes a second to answer, her pout more just to tug at Hoseok’s heartstrings than anything, before she shrugs her shoulders and says, “Yeah, maybe I do. Just a lil bit, daddy,”

It has both Jimin and Hoseok cracking up in laughter.

Hoseok shakes his head as he ruffles at his daughter’s hair, messing up the already messy hairstyle Jimin had even deigned to call pigtails. They certainly didn’t resemble anything Hoseok’s sister had ever done to his daughter’s hair.

Again, Jimin turns to Hoseok, and with his head cocked to the side and an exasperated smile on his face, repeats himself, “I really don’t know where she gets it from,”

Looking at Sunhee—bright for her age, short, and with the energy of perhaps even ten five year olds, which is saying something, given how hyper-active most children are, Hoseok has to wonder where exactly she gets it from. But then she jumps, and tugs at his hand, and tries her hardest to cover Hoseok’s own palm with hers, however tiny it may be, and he smiles, realisation dawning down on him that she’s exactly a spitting image of him, which isn’t so bad, really, especially when Hoseok takes into account just what they’d gone through to get here, just the two of them, like this.

With a smile and one last playful little ruffle at her hair, Hoseok straightens back up and tells Jimin that they really should get some milk to go with that cereal.

He hears Sunhee agreeing with him, the little girl already trudging along ahead of them, and Hoseok really doesn’t mean to, but the arrival of one Jeon Jungkook at the alcohol and liquor section distracts all three of them, especially when the first thing Jungkook tells them is that he’s got at least five boxes of pizza waiting in the trunk of his car and a good four hours worth of Disney movies to pacify little Sunhee while they all caught up.

“It’s been so long since we’ve seen you, hyung,” Jungkook says, grinning up at Hoseok.

And Hoseok does feel bad. Ever since they’d moved back, Hoseok hasn’t really seen any of his friends. Or, at least, truly made time for them. He loves them, of course he does—just the sight of Jimin and Jungkook bickering over which brand of beer to get has him smiling, because it reminds him of so, so long ago, when all they’d ever really do was argue over alcohol and who would be paying for game night’s Chinese take-out. That had been it, then.

Now—

Now it’s the three of them stopping by the grocery just so Hoseok could get some last-minute things for Sunhee. School is supposed to start in just a few days and Hoseok won’t admit it, at least not out loud, but he’s nervous. Completely clueless, too, given how he’s literally got no idea when it comes to children and nurseries.

Jimin isn’t helping, either, which is why Hoseok’s starting to wonder if maybe he should turn to Namjoon for help. Perhaps he’ll know just how much food is enough for a kid—and god, what if Sunhee won’t like what he makes. His mother’s all the way back in Gwangju, and his sister’s always so business with her business. It’ll be impossible for any of them to hover over Hoseok as he tries his hand at parenting, and god, he’s really going to screw this all up, isn’t he?

Hoseok’s brought out of his little panic attack in the middle of the grocery—the fucking grocery, of all places—by Jungkook, the younger boy’s hand on Hoseok’s elbow, a furrow in his brows as he says, “Hey, where is Sunhee?”

 

 

The minutes that follow after Jungkook’s little statement might just be the worst few minutes in Hoseok’s life. It takes Jimin’s fingers around his wrist, Jimin’s hold on him tightening, for Hoseok to calm down and not start a riot in the fucking alcohol and liquor aisle—and now that he’s thinking, they really shouldn’t have even gone to this aisle with Sunhee, if his mother finds out he’d lost his daughter in the middle of the store while bickering over beer, then she’s going to end him. She really will.

They decide to split up, Jimin going to the front of the store to ask if anyone’s seen a little girl with pigtails and a voice that’s far too loud for a five year old, while Jungkook runs down to one side while Hoseok takes the other.

He holds his phone tightly in his hand, heart beating way too hard and way too loud for it to even be considered normal, as he runs through all the previous aisles they’d already been to. Cereal, chocolates, sweets, chips—everywhere she’d want to be, everything she’d dumped into the cart. But there’s no luck, and by the end of it all—an excruciating four minutes that Hoseok spends in pure and utter dread—he’s out of breath, face pale and his entire body cold.

How is he supposed to explain this to any of the clerks. To his sister, who’s bound to kick his ass just so she could offer him as sacrifice for his mother right after? And how is Sunhee, now that Hoseok’s nowhere to be seen?

Ever since she’d been born—

Ever since then, Hoseok hasn’t left her side. He feels absolutely terrible now, completely at a loss. An utter failure, too, because it’s not even four days until school and not even a month since they’ve all been back officially to Seoul that he’s fucked up monumentally.

“Hyung, hyung,” comes Jungkook’s voice from behind him, and Hoseok turns, expectation clear on his face.

His expression drops when he sees that Jungkook’s alone, but he gestures to the phone pressed to his ear and mouths, Jimin before he beckons Hoseok with a wave, telling him under his breath that Jimin had talked to a teenager who said she’d seen a kid wandering around by the frozen section.

It hits Hoseok then, just as they step into the dairy aisle, with the frozen section just a few steps away from them, that Sunhee had badgered him for ice cream, all day. He breathes out a sigh of relief when he sees the familiar mess of black curls, the bright yellow backpack that she wears enough of a beacon for Hoseok to spot her from across a mile.

What stops him yet again, though, is when he notices that she’s holding someone’s hand.

“Do you know him?” Jungkook asks, already heading over to where Sunhee’s standing just in front of the large freezers for the ice cream.

“Sunhee,” Hoseok calls, drawing closer to her. He offers a smile for Sunhee, who looks up at him and beams, almost instantly. “Sunny, baby, hey, you shouldn’t run off like that,”

There’s a moment between Sunhee and—and the man whose hand she’s currently holding, the both of them trading looks for a second, before the man looks up at Hoseok rather pointedly and says, “Are you her father?”

Hoseok blinks, completely at a loss and absolutely shocked. “Y-yeah, we lost her for a second back there,” Hoseok realises halfway through his explanation that there’s really no need for him to explain at all, especially not to a stranger who’s holding on to his daughter’s hand, and hasn’t Hoseok taught Sunhee anything about stranger danger— at all ?

And yet here she is, holding on to his hand like it’s really not a problem at all, Sunhee looking up at him with a smile, her voice rather amused when she says, “Yeah, that’s daddy,” and then before she wriggles her hand out of his, she says, “Thanks, Yoongi oppa,”

Hoseok watches as she gives his hand—Yoongi, she’d said—a squeeze, her smile up at him absolutely angelic before she bounds on over to Hoseok, who sweeps her right up into his arms, drawing the little girl against him for a short moment, Hoseok just holding her tight as he allows himself to breathe, to calm down.

For a second there, he thought he’d really, honestly lost her.

“Why did you wander off?” Hoseok murmurs, knocking their foreheads together. He doesn’t have it in him to raise his voice, or frown at her. The most he can do is just furrow his eyebrows and pout. “You almost killed me, Sunny,”

She giggles at that, scrunching up her nose before she turns in Hoseok’s arms, looking over her shoulder to the man who, now that Hoseok notices, is holding onto a large tub of ice cream, something he’s quite sure Sunhee had picked out for herself.

The apprehension from earlier seeps out of him all at once, now that he’s found her. Now that she’s back in his arms. His shoulders sag and although it’s rather belated, Hoseok offers a small, friendly little smile up at him.

“Sorry for the trouble,” Hoseok apologises, watching as Jungkook crosses the short distance between them to take the ice cream, the younger boy snickering when he makes an obvious face at Sunhee as he does so. “And thanks for taking care of her,”

For a second, all Hoseok can see is a sharp glance, his mouth turned.

It softens when Sunhee lets out a high-pitched giggle, “Yoongi oppa got me ice cream,”

Yoongi finally nods his head at Hoseok, the small curving of a smile on his face not exactly friendly. It’s more curt than anything, Hoseok notices, but perhaps it’s just because he’d been burdened with a lost child who’d dragged him around the grocery store. Perhaps.

Hoseok’s own speculations are answered when Yoongi tells him, point-blank and with barely any hint of inflection in his tone, “You should watch her more carefully,” although it changes rather significantly when he raises his hand up to wave at Sunhee, his smile much, much brighter as he says, “Bye, Sunhee,”

Not even a goodbye for Hoseok, or Jungkook—or any sort of acknowledgement for the younger boy at all, really. Nothing of the sort.

It’s only when Jimin joins them and Hoseok’s got a tired out Sunhee still in his arms that he realises that the only way the man had seemed curt was because he’d worried over Sunhee—over Hoseok’s own daughter.

Be more careful, he’d said.

From the rearview mirror, Hoseok can see Sunhee, the little girl pulling on the straps of her car seat. Hoseok smiles, a quieter little smile that he keeps to himself, his fingers tightening around the wheel. Right.

She really is the only thing that keeps him going, so of course—of goddamn course he’s careful when it comes with her.

 

 

“Sunny, baby,” Hoseok yawns into the back of his hand. “I think it’s time for you to sleep,”

Sunhee isn’t budging, though. She tugs on the ear of the poor koala plushie she’d been terrorising for the past hour.

“No,” is all she murmurs, turning away from him to face the wall, where sleepy little stars blink back at her.

Hoseok runs his fingers through her hair, untangling some of the curls as gently as he can. “You have your first day at school tomorrow,”

“Don’t wanna,” this shocks Hoseok, because just a few days ago, she’d been jumping up and down, excited for school. Just the mention of it would have her laughing, excitement and energy so clear in her eyes.

Now, though, Hoseok can see just how deflated she is, her shoulders slacking.

“Why? I thought you wanted to go to school,” Hoseok’s voice is gentle, his smile quiet as he slowly turns her around to face him.

Her cheeks are tinged pink, eyes downcast, small, chubby fingers still clutching on too tightly at the koala.

“Don’t wanna, daddy,” she says, squeezing on the poor toy’s ears. “I wanna go home,” her voice is small, tiny. Quiet, really, but it is enough to tug at Hoseok’s heart. To give it one painful squeeze.

He lets out a sigh, and tries again, this time with an arm around her, dragging him to his side. She eventually drops the plushie in favour of climbing onto his lap.

“This is home now, Sunny,” Hoseok kisses her forehead and smiles at her, one hand resting reassuringly on the small of her back. “Grandma is here, right? You missed grandma,”

Sunhee just pouts at him, the top of her head bumping against Hoseok’s chin as she tries to settle on his lap, head pillowed against Hoseok’s shoulder. “Home, daddy,”

Home is—home is actually a few hundreds of thousands of miles away. Home is several seas over. Home is—or rather, home was the busy streets of Brooklyn, where the day started earlier than the sun. Home was their too-big apartment for two.

Perhaps she missed the friends she made there. Or her regular baby-sitter. Perhaps she just missed the city. The country. She’d grown up there. Born and raised—or at least, until now, when Hoseok’s mother had finally, finally managed to convince him to pack everything important to him and get on a plane with Sunhee to come back home, to come back to his family.

“What if they don’t understand me?” Sunhee’s voice is so, so tiny, Hoseok almost doesn’t hear it.

When he looks down, he sees the fear in her eyes. The trembling of her lower lip as she pouts up at him, her fingers pressing into Hoseok’s cheek, like she wants to be heard, make a point, and this close, Hoseok can hear her.

God, she could be across the room. Across thousands of miles and Hoseok is still pretty damn sure he’ll hear her. All Sunhee ever needs to do is call for him, really.

“Of course they will, baby,” Hoseok says, smiling down at her, his voice warm. Gentle. That’s all he can ever be for her. “Dad understands you just fine, right?”

Her eyebrows furrow a little bit at that, as if she’s deep into her own thoughts, and for a few seconds, Hoseok lets it all sink in. Growing up so far away from the rest of their family and off-shore, too, meant that she grew up speaking a different language. But Hoseok had tried—he really had, did as much as he could for her to get the basic grasp of the language.

And like his sister used to say, there’s no better practice than being back home, where you’ll be forced to speak the language itself everyday.

Hoseok sort of lets out a sigh of relief when she finally relaxes in his arms and nods, completely serious.

“Yeah, you do,” Sunhee says, her smile slowly starting to form. “But that’s also because you’re special,”

She gets a playful little pinch in the cheek for that remark, Hoseok beaming down at her and laughing as Sunhee squirms in his hold, sliding out from his arms just so she can plop back down on the bed, her favourite stuffed koala back in her arms as she stares up at Hoseok, more expectant now than anything.

“Do I still have time?” she means sleep, and Hoseok lets out another chuckle at that, head shaking as he pulls the blanket over her.

“Yes, you do,” Hoseok says, tucking her into bed. He leans down to kiss her forehead, smoothing her curls away from her eyes as he straightens back up. “Sunny has all the time she needs, okay?”

“Okay,” Sunhee repeats, hugging the koala closer to her as she smiles at Hoseok, small and shy but also relaxed, too, like she’s finally gotten over the fear that had suddenly taken hold of her since that morning. “Love you, daddy,”

“Love you, too, Sunny,” and then, right before Hoseok turns the light off, he says, voice as low as a whisper now that she’s all settled into bed, “Good night.”

Sunhee’s own good night comes in the form of a murmur, the little girl already buried under her blanket, all snuggled up and warm. Sleep will come for her, soon, but Hoseok doesn’t leave, at least, not until he can see her breathing evenly, chest rising and falling, and the small little night lamp they’d installed in the corner of the room illuminating her ceiling, where several dozens of stars are scattered, glowing in the dark.

Very slowly, Hoseok backs out of the room, the door closing with a very soft click behind him.

 

 

When they say that the first day of school is tough on kids, Hoseok realises that they’re only half-right. The first day of school is absolutely terrifying for the parents.

Specifically, Hoseok.

He can’t remember the last time he’d ever stepped foot into a preschool. Can’t remember how colourful the walls are. How loud the kids are. And how there are so many parents, coming in at every direction, kids toting behind them or leading the way.

Sunhee’s hand in his grounds Hoseok.

Just last night, he’d waited until she fell asleep. Made sure she’d shaken off the nerves for her first big day at her new school. Hoseok had done all of that only to spend the night staring up at the ceiling, unable to sleep himself. Perhaps it had been the coffee, or perhaps it had been his own nerves. The jitters, his sister would call them, cackling over the phone at Hoseok’s little predicament.

And how far they’ve come with just a few steps into the doors, Sunhee practically clinging onto his leg as they both follow the signs to Teacher Min’s classroom, that’s just by the end of the second hall, right before the cafeteria.

On their way to Sunhee’s classroom, they catch a glimpse of one of the other teachers, a gangly young man with coloured streaks in his hair and a boxy grin that brings all the students closer to him, the kids hopping right in front of him to say hello, while their parents waved by the door.

They see more teachers along the way. Kids filing into their respective classrooms, and parents already greeting the teachers by name—as with the teachers. And this is partially Hoseok’s fault, how unfamiliar he is with the school, with his kid’s own teacher. He’d missed open-house for a meeting just a few weeks ago. Had thought it wouldn’t be too much of a big deal, that is, until today.

But Hoseok doesn’t have much time to worry about her teacher, or her classroom, or even her prospective new friends, because soon enough they reach the end of Hall C, Sunhee’s grip around Hoseok’s hand vice-like, and even for her own strength it’s starting to hurt.

“Hey, Sunny,” Hoseok says, kneeling down just to get on her level. They’re a few steps outside of her classroom’s door, a string of parents and children already coming in and out, having said their greetings to the teacher already. But Hoseok had promised his daughter that she can have all the time that she’ll ever need, so he breathes. Squeezes on her shoulder reassuringly, and smiles at her. “You’re going to be fine, yeah?”

Sunhee nods, not exactly saying a word to him, the expression on her face teetering on afraid and—well, shy, is what Hoseok can see, with how thin she’s pressed her lips together, a constant furrow in her brow. She also scrunches her nose from time to time, an obvious indication that she’s nervous, that she feels out of place and bothered.

“I don’t wanna go, daddy,” Sunhee suddenly says, looking away from the open door to look at Hoseok, eyes wide and wet, and soon enough she’ll start to cry, Hoseok just knows, and if she cries, then he cries, and he really can’t have the both of them crying in the middle of the hall on the first day of his daughter’s school, can he?

No, they can’t.

Which is exactly when a familiar voice calls out to them, and Hoseok can’t exactly put a finger on the why and the how, but it’s definitely someone he’s spoken to before.

Sunhee lifts her head up to look towards the classroom, face brightening up considerably when she catches sight of just who’s waving down at her, his smile wide and bright, even for so early in the morning.

“Good morning, come in, come in,” comes his voice from above them.

Hoseok blinks past the bright fluorescent lights to look at Yoongi—the same Yoongi who had found Sunhee in the grocery, who had stayed with her while Hoseok and his friends ran around like the idiots that they were, worried out of their damn minds—who instantly blanches when he sees Hoseok, smile falling and his wave suddenly dropping.

He almost scowls at Hoseok before he catches sight of Sunhee right next to him, the little girl raising her hand up for a dainty little wave.

“Yoongi oppa,” Sunhee calls, pointing at him in awe. She breaks off into a grin, looking away from Yoongi to Hoseok, who’s straightened up already but feels even worse than he did earlier—like he’s got the perpetual cramps. Either it’s because he’s nervous for his own daughter or because he’d remembered Yoongi’s cutting words from just the other day, Hoseok isn’t quite sure.

Probably both, now that he thinks about it.

“Sunhee,” Yoongi calls, walking over to the both of them. “Oh—so you’re Jung Sunhee,” and this time, when he crouches down to greet Sunhee, it’s with a smile that’s much friendlier than anything Hoseok’s ever seen, his eyes crinkling in the corners as he smiles. Yoongi offers his hand for her to take, and without hesitation, Sunhee takes it immediately, small fingers curling over Yoongi’s when he straightens back up to look at Hoseok.

“It’s great to see you again,” Hoseok doubts Yoongi’s talking to him, but he nods, anyway.

“I—from the other night,” Hoseok explains, words tripping over each other. He’s not too good at them, not when they count. Not now, anyway. “It—It’s us,” what a lame way to start the day. To start Sunhee’s school year.

“Yoongi oppa is the teacher,” Sunhee laughs, colour back in her face as her eyes lighten up. She looks much more at ease, now. Less nervous and more, well—happier, is what she looks like. And all it had taken was a familiar face who’d gotten her ice cream. “Daddy, look,”

And Hoseok is looking—that’s all he’s been doing, unable to tear his gaze away because this is happening, right now. It really is happening, and Hoseok doesn’t understand why he’s so mortified, but he is. Just earlier he’d been nervous about the first day of school, now he’s embarrassed about the fiasco from a few days ago.

Remembering his manners, Hoseok bows, the smile on his face when he lifts his head up one that he hopes will be enough for Yoongi—and it’s really not much, not when Hoseok’s already so nervous, but he’s trying, he really is, to make amends for the both of them.

“Jung Hoseok. I’m—Sunhee’s dad,” right. After a lame greeting comes the lame introduction. Hoseok winces, but Yoongi runs with it, the other man bowing his head in return.

“Min Yoongi,” he says, smile just bordering curt, now. “I guess I’m your daughter’s teacher,”

“Who would’ve thought,” Hoseok says, rather sheepishly. He laughs a nervous little laugh, hand running through his hair to distract him from his flight and flight response, because there’s no way he’s going to get out of this one unscathed. “About the other night—“

Wait until Namjoon hears about this, really.

Yoongi stops Hoseok before he can even continue, his free hand raised to wave the concern away. “No, don’t mind it. I was out of line,”

It’s not exactly an apology—and Hoseok isn’t expecting one, he really isn’t—but it still comes as a shock to him, hearing Yoongi say this. Perhaps it’s because he’s now Sunhee’s teacher, and not just someone who’s tough on parents who’re seemingly careless with their own children. Perhaps.

“I—yeah. No. That was on me. Thank you for that,” it hadn’t been that bad, honestly. Hoseok had just—well, had felt inadequate, then. Had felt like a failure (and it wasn’t the first time, either, but it still stings whenever he’s reminded of that).

“How about we forget about it, yeah?” Yoongi tugs on Sunhee’s hand then, smiling down at her as he continues. “It’s about time for class, so we should get going,”

But Yoongi doesn’t walk into the classroom with Sunhee, instead, he lets go of her hand and tells Hoseok that he’ll be waiting for her inside. Hoseok’s not quite sure what Yoongi actually says but he thinks he hears him say something a lot like, Time to say bye .

Right.

Goodbye.

Hoseok brushes some stray curls out of her eyes and smiles at her, face feeling extremely warm all of a sudden. He probably looks like an idiot, too, making such a big deal over his kid’s first day but this—this is all new to Hoseok. As much as this is Sunhee’s first day, it’s also his.

“Dad’s going now, okay?” Hoseok says, pinching her cheek playfully. “But I’ll pick you up right after school, so I’ll see you in a few hours,”

And just like clockwork, Sunhee stands on her tiptoes the very same time that Hoseok leans down enough for her to be able to reach him for a quick kiss that she smacks rather playfully on Hoseok’s cheek. She’s obviously pleased with herself, her smile brighter than anything Hoseok’s ever seen, since.

Brighter than the actual sun that hangs high up in the sky today, on a warm Monday morning.

“Bye, daddy. Love you,” with one last wave, Sunhee turns around, practically hopping with excitement into her new classroom.

Hoseok watches from the door as Yoongi guides her to her little cubbie by the wall. Watches as she leaves her shoes and her bag there. Watches her intently as she finds her seat in the middle of the class. Hoseok watches her so, so close that he thinks it’s impossible for him to miss anything that she does.

That it’s impossible for him not to miss her, in the short few hours that they’re apart.

And he’s not exactly aware when, or why, but he feels his eyes start to sting. Lifting a hand up to his face tells him that his cheeks are wet, and god , he’s crying, he really is, and all because he’d had to send his daughter off on her first day.

“Oh, no,” comes Yoongi’s voice, much softer now that he’s noticed Hoseok. He shuts the door partially behind him, to give the both of them at least a semblance of privacy in these busy halls, away from the curious eyes of all the children. “Hey,”

Hoseok tries to laugh it off, but he ends up hiccupping instead. “I—wow, this is stupid,”

“Hey, no, no. I swear—I see this all the time. This happens,” he tries to sound reassuring—and he really is, because there’s no way he’ll lie about something like this, right—but Hoseok still feels like a fool.

In some ways, he is—a fool for his own daughter, that is.

Which is something Yoongi realises now, as he watches Hoseok try to wipe at the tears with the back of his hand.

“Don’t tell Sunny,” Hoseok manages a wet laugh. It’s all he needs to do sometimes. All he needs to still the rocking boat and the shaking earth. Sometimes, laughing is all the remedy you will ever need, because now that Hoseok’s laughed, his breathing has evened, and his hand has stopped shaking.

“Don’t worry too much about her,” Yoongi says, fingers tightening around the doorknob.

Hoseok knows that he’s wasting Yoongi’s time. The other classes have probably already started, and yet here Yoongi is, consoling one of his student’s parents. God, it’s a mess if Hoseok’s ever seen one.

“You’ll take care of her, yeah?” it’s not a question, more of a statement, one that Yoongi catches on easily, because he nods.

“Sure, that’s sorta my job.” and for the first time since they’ve met, Yoongi smiles up at Hoseok. It’s a small smile that barely curves over his lips, but it’s a smile all the same, and Hoseok—

Hoseok doesn’t think too much about it, not until he’s back in the car, fingers tight around the wheel. But Yoongi—

He sort of has a pretty smile, doesn’t he?

 

 

The first few days of school go by in a flash.

Hoseok seems to be getting the hand of sending her away every morning only to pick her up at three forty-five on the dot, and Sunhee—well, Sunhee has no problems sliding right into the scheme of things, easily making friends, laughing as she tells Hoseok about her day on their car ride home.

He’s happy, he really is, to see his daughter find her own footing in a country she’d only been to twice before they’d decided to really relocate again. Hoseok couldn’t have asked for more, and watching as Sunhee plays by herself in her room, Hoseok can’t help but wonder if things would’ve been easier if they’d just moved right after—right after her mother had left.

“Hoseokie, there’s no use thinking about this,” he hears his sister’s voice say on the loudspeaker. Her voice is gentle and patient. Even if they’ve already had this conversation countless of times before. “What matters is now, okay?”

And Hoseok—he has a habit of overthinking things. Of second guessing himself all the time.

It explains how he finds everyday a challenge, how just looking at Sunhee sometimes scares him, because he realises that he really has no idea what he’s doing, that he’d raised her with the help of his sister and his parents. But now he’s all alone, but at least—

At least he’s with them. Close to them.

Although that’s not really the case, is it, when Hoseok gets help from his friends all the time. Friends who’ve been here since the start. Friends who’d never forgotten about him, even when he’d left them all for university.

Hoseok is—

He’s thankful for them, he truly is, the smile on his face soft as he recalls the other evening with Namjoon reading something while Sunhee sat on his lap, the look in her eyes one of complete adoration as she listened to Namjoon’s soft, soothing voice read her a story.

Hoseok is thankful for the younger kids, too, and he remembers—he remembers being their age and having everything fall apart and happen all at once. They try to help him around the house, too, volunteering to watch over Sunhee whenever Hoseok can’t bring himself to ask them anymore, because they know. Can tell so clearly whenever things get too much for Hoseok.

They always come through for him—for them. Usually with juice boxes and yoghurt and a movie that Jungkook swears Sunhee will love just because he’d seen it with Jimin and they’d both loved it. Hoseok had doubted that logic before, but after the success of the first few times they’d swung by with that exact purpose, he’d started to accept it. It’s, well, it’s strange, sure, but it’s mostly just hilarious. And cute, Hoseok thinks.

Right. Cute.

“Yeah, sorry,” Hoseok finally says, letting out a breath. He hears Jiwoo on the other end of the line shuffling around her office, papers crinkling as she moves around. “When can we see you again, noona?”

She laughs, airy and high. “Whenever you want to, Hoseokie,” and then, after a while. “But how about we fast-forward things and grab lunch with Sunny this Saturday? Or Friday, after work and everything, yeah?”

Hoseok smiles into his phone. Yeah. That sounds nice.

His sister has always been a pillar of strength. Hoseok can’t even imagine where he’d be—where they’d both be without her. “Alright, then,”

They end the call after a few more minutes, after they’d both traded innocent little jabs about how things have really been—and it had mostly just been Jiwoo making fun of Hoseok dedicating his every waking moment to both his job and to Sunhee, and how he really hasn’t got anything else planned except for this. Except for the both of them. And it’s harmless, of course it is. Because his sister is kind, and patient, and everything Hoseok wants to be when it comes to raising his own daughter, but what she said about earlier—

About Hoseok hardly ever having time for himself since Sunhee had struck a chord.

He’s pulled out of his own thoughts, the look of displeasure instantly clearing from his face when he feels a tug on his shirt. Looking down, he sees Sunhee, hair a mess and her pyjamas trailing down all the way to the floor, a size too big on her.

“What’s up, Sunny?” Hoseok asks, sliding his phone away.

Sunhee clambers up to sit on his lap, and she’s quiet for a few moments, eyes closed as she rests her head on his chest. Hoseok just holds her, head propped on top of hers as he hums a slow song under his breath.

Hoseok never pressures her. He knows she can be shy—knows that it takes her a while to get into things. Especially now that they’re back in Seoul. He gives her all the time that she needs.

“Can you sing me to sleep tonight?” Sunhee finally asks, voice small and tiny, like she’d hesitated for so long just because she thought Hoseok wouldn’t want to.

Her smile in response to that is sleepy but it’s bright, and dazzling, her eyes practically glittering.

Hoseok kisses her forehead and brings her closer against him, hands tightening around her in a hug as Sunny giggles.

That was a question that was never even needed to be asked, because Hoseok—

Hoseok knows for a fact that he can sing to her for as long as she needs him to. There’s no question to that.

 

 

In Hoseok’s defence, he has never been late ever when it came to picking up Sunhee.

At least, not until today.

So he’s managed to run late—the meeting from earlier one he couldn’t get out of exactly, and it had taken him nearly all of his efforts just to phone his secretary to call the school and tell them that he might be a few minutes late.

After-care, is what they call it, apparently, when parents can’t quite make it on time to pick their children up, or when parents can’t pick them up, period. Sort of like an after-school program that Hoseok needs to look into but he also thinks he doesn’t, because this is the first problem he’s encountered, and this will be the last, he swears to himself as he tightens his fingers around the steering wheel.

When he arrives there, it’s to find that the normally crowded school entrance is empty, save for a few last-minute parents who’re still rounding their kids up into the car. Hoseok doesn’t see Sunhee or any of her classmates at all. Doesn’t even see Yoongi, either.

“They’re gonna be putting her in after-care,” his secretary had told him, just before Hoseok had stopped by his office to grab at his keys and his jacket.

After-care. Hoseok doesn’t even know where to look for that kind of classroom, because apparently it’s a special one where all the kids get mixed in. God, where is he supposed to even start.

Once glance at his watch tells him that he’s forty-minutes late, which is forty-four minutes too much, especially given how he hadn’t told Sunhee he would be late. And how is she doing? How had she reacted when she’d waited with all her classmates and her teacher by the entrance, expecting Hoseok to pull over at any second, but eventually having to give up?

Hoseok tries not to think too much about that, because even just the thought of his daughter being disappointed in him for circumstances that are completely out of his control is enough to squeeze painfully at his heart.

“What are you doing here?” and Hoseok’s heard this voice every single day since school has started—every single day for a few weeks, now, so there’s no mistaking it anymore. Looking over his shoulder, he finds Yoongi staring at him rather expectantly, hands squeezing on a white towel that, now that Hoseok notices, has been streaked with colour.

“H-hyung,” they’d established this much, at least. Hoseok tries not to jump out of his skin. He tries really hard not to let Yoongi get to him—and ever since the first day of school, after they’d put the incident at the grocery store behind them, they’d been more, well. Civil. Or at least, Yoongi has, because all Hoseok can offer him on any given day is a smile that Yoongi doesn’t quite return, and that’s alright for Hoseok, because the corners of Yoongi’s mouth twitches in amusement sometimes, whenever Hoseok fumbles, or whenever Yoongi catches him off guard. Like right now. “Hi.”

Yoongi snickers. “Hello. If you’re looking for Sunhee, after-care is the other way around,”

“Oh, I knew that,” Hoseok chuckles nervously. He turns on his heel, fully facing Yoongi now, who’s got his arms crossed. “Right, the other way,”

“Really shouldn’t have skipped out on open-house, huh,” Yoongi taunts, although now—now his tone just sounds teasing. Playful. Hoseok thinks he’s caught Yoongi at a good time, although he somewhat doubts that when he notices how Yoongi’s arms are stained with streaks of paint, from blues to reds to greens to everything else that the kids might’ve combined themselves. His clothes aren’t safe, either, and Hoseok winces.

Yoongi notices it, because he shakes his head and smiles, just the slightest bit. “This is washable, honestly. Don’t get a heart attack when you see Sunhee’s clothes,” and then under his breath, Hoseok can swear Yoongi’s whispered something that sounds so close to and her hair , to which Hoseok freezes at, blanching. “No, really, it’s washable. She’ll be fine, it’s no worries at all,”

“It’s not permanent?” Hoseok asks, still a little bit dubious.

“Nah, told you it’s fine,” Yoongi waves his concern away, completely unbothered by it.

Instead of dropping it, though, Hoseok points out, “You’ve got something on your face,”

For a second, Yoongi narrows his eyes, brows furrowing, like he’s not quite sure whether Hoseok’s making fun of him, but then he realises that he’d just orchestrated a painting class with his five year olds, and he realises just exactly what Hoseok had meant.

Yoongi brings a hand up to wipe at his cheek. It doesn’t help at all, so without even thinking about it—because somehow, Hoseok is best at that, when he just goes right in—Hoseok takes a few steps towards Yoongi, hand reaching out to touch his face.

Hoseok gently wipes at the dried green paint on Yoongi’s cheek, careful not to hurt him in the process. The whole time, Yoongi just watches him, eyes wide, and mouth parted open in mild surprise.

Realising just what he’d done, and how it might have looked, Hoseok drops his hand immediately. “Oh—wait. Shit. Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to, but just—“ Hoseok can’t even find the right words to express himself, so he just stops, trying his hardest not to look Yoongi in the eye, because after what he’d done, Hoseok doesn’t think he can ever look at Yoongi again without wanting the floor to open up and swallow him.

Yoongi is quiet for a few moments, still staring up at him. He catches himself after a while, though, eyes downcast when he says, sounding more nervous and flustered than Hoseok’s ever heard him before, “I—let’s go. I’ll help you look for Sunhee.”

Hoseok is only grateful for that, because that means he doesn’t have to apologise or explain himself anymore, and god, he’s an idiot, he really is, and he’d tried that on Yoongi, of all people. His daughter’s terrifying pre-school teacher whom she seems to be quite fond of. Min Yoongi.

He falls into step right next to Yoongi, and going against his better judgement, Hoseok throws a glance at him, a quick and subtle one just to check if he’d done more damage than he can handle. Yoongi looks mainly unbothered, except for how his lips are pressed into a thin, tight line, and—

And Hoseok wonders if Yoongi’s blushing, his ears red, and the tops of his cheeks a dusty pink. But that’s not exactly possible, is it, because the last Hoseok’s checked, Yoongi just sort of tolerates him, now.

So definitely not a blush.

Right. Not a blush. Okay. Probably just the lighting—that must be it. Yeah.

Or—or it could be. But Hoseok doesn’t allow himself to dwell too much on that. Instead, he just curls the same hand that had touched Yoongi’s cheek a few moments ago, and slides it back into his coat pocket.

Hoseok glances at Yoongi one last time before they both step into the after-care classroom, and the flustered little look from earlier is gone. Instead, Yoongi just looks at him, well—Yoongi looks at him in a way that he hasn’t before.

Yoongi looks at Hoseok like he’s actually seeing him for the first time, and the amused little smile that Yoongi often throws at him is completely replaced with a gentle curving of his lips, eyes softening as Yoongi drags his gaze away from Hoseok to look at Sunhee by the corner, playing with one of the other after-care kids.

And try as Hoseok might, he can’t quite ignore it this time—a swooping sensation in his gut that he feels whenever he so much as looks at Yoongi. His hand is still warm, and Yoongi—well, Hoseok’s just confirmed that while Yoongi does terrify him on most days, he’s also got a smile that catches Hoseok completely off guard, and that’s not too bad, Hoseok realises.

It’s not bad at all.

 

 

Hoseok has never really thought of it all that much—attraction. Dating.

Not after Sunhee had come into his life.

Most people just assume that Hoseok’s more or less scarred from his last relationship. Who would’ve thought that he’d be a single father by twenty-two years old, really? Who would have thought that he’d wake up one day to an empty bed, with a crying seventh-month old baby in the next room, his girlfriend’s ring left on the kitchen counter, without so much as a word.

But the fact that she’d taken everything—all her clothes, her shoes, pictures of the both of them from years past, and then more recently, of the three of them. All the pictures with her face that had used to hang on the walls, she’d taken them all with her. It was as if she’d wanted to erase her very existence in that apartment, didn’t want to leave Hoseok and Sunhee a reminder.

His family had been furious. His friends—his friends from all the way across the ocean. Angry and sad, and betrayed, and hurt on his behalf.

While Hoseok, well, the only thing on Hoseok’s mind then had been how relieved he felt in that single moment when he realised all of her things were gone but that she’d left their daughter.

His daughter.

It had taken him a while, the earth itself unsteady for months on end, but Hoseok had found his ground. Had managed to learn how to balance for two people.

And now—

Now they’re back home. Sunhee is five years old and Hoseok is amazed with how much she can grow with every single day. Just a few days ago she’d come home with paint in her hair and on her skirt, and everywhere, really, but aside from the mess that she’d dragged with her, she’d also come home with a finger painting that she’d handed to Hoseok, who smiled so much he thought his heart would burst.

Hoseok’s heart is doing something else now, though. It’s doing a lot of thinking.

Because there is a corner of Hoseok’s heart that he thinks he hasn’t quite knocked on, not for five years, anyway. And in that corner sits something so strikingly alike to what is most commonly called as attraction .

He thinks about it for a few moments. Wonders if he’s ever been attracted to anyone after Sunhee.

He hasn’t—sure, his friends had tried to set him up on dates. His own mother had suggested the same thing, and Hoseok had gone along. Met them—the women. The men. All sorts of people. But he doesn’t remember feeling attracted to them. Not exactly, anyway.

But this time, though.

Hoseok allows himself to wonder if he’s attracted to his own daughter’s preschool teacher.

Perhaps it’s just a different kind of admiration. Yoongi seems to have his life pulled together. The parents love him. The kids can’t get enough of him. He’s great, he really is. And perhaps—

Perhaps Hoseok really is just overthinking this.

Beside him, Jimin shifts, the younger boy staring intently at him. “Hyung, you’re not with me right now,”

Hoseok blinks back into focus. “Hey,”

“Are you thinking about Sunny’s cute teacher again?” Jimin teases, bumping their shoulders playfully. “You know I met him, yeah?”

Of course Jimin would know.

Of course, because Hoseok had asked him to pick Sunhee up from school just the other day.

“You’re not saying anything,” Jimin’s humming, now, but he sounds sure about himself. Sure about this new piece of information. “Am I right? Are you—hyung, do you have a crush?”

Hoseok frowns. “Are you twelve?”

Jimin just laughs at that, high pitched and way too amused for eleven in the evening. Way too loud for a five year old who’s sleeping just a few doors down.

“No, but you still haven’t answered the question,” Jimin pushes, shuffling around the couch so he can lean into Hoseok.

Jimin’s got a different effect on Hoseok, he’s noticed. Jimin is all warm smiles and bright laughter. He’s got the energy that can match Sunhee’s. Has got the snark to go against Namjoon, and yet—and yet the one constant thing about Jimin is how he can, without fail, get Hoseok to open up to him. Open arms and everything.

So when Hoseok eventually shrugs his shoulders and says, “I don’t know,” and quickly follows it with, “I really don’t wanna think about it,” Jimin just nods, accepting that as a good enough answer.

“And why are you still here, anyway?” Hoseok doesn’t mind Jimin’s company. Loves it, actually, but he also knows for a fact that Jimin’s got an early shift tomorrow, so he doesn’t want to hold him back. Keep him up.

“Jungkookie’s running late,” Jimin hesitates, staring up from the phone in his hands. “And also because I left my keys at home,”

Right. There’s that, too.

And it might’ve taken Hoseok a few minutes longer than necessary, but he finally says, with a little bit of a huff, too, and his face feeling just the slightest bit warm, “No, I don’t have a crush on Sunny’s teacher.”

Jimin’s laughter is enough to tell Hoseok that he doesn’t buy it at all, but that’s for him to sit on and not Hoseok.

Besides, a crush. Attraction.

Things that Hoseok hasn’t even thought of for years, let alone acted on. Things Hoseok can just push to the back of his mind, because there’s no way. Really, there’s no way.

Which is exactly the same thing he tells himself the morning after, when he drops Sunhee off to school and finds Yoongi walking into the building, balancing a stack of books and two cups of coffee.

Sunhee instantly runs after him, her good morning loud and cheery, nearly making Yoongi stumble under everything that he’s carrying.

Yoongi startles only for a second, catching himself—and the books and the cups of coffee, too, while he’s at it—and smiles at Sunhee. “Hi, sunshine,”

“That looks heavy,” Sunhee comments, pointing at all the books—colouring books, Hoseok’s noticed, as well as boxes and boxes of crayons stuffed into the tote bag Yoongi’s got slung on one shoulder.

“Here,” Hoseok says, offering a hand to help.

Yoongi looks at him, blinking down at the open hand for a long time, before he finally relents with a deep breath. “Yeah, sure. Thanks,” he passes the colouring books to Hoseok—and they’re heavier than they look, but perhaps that’s to be expected when there’s nearly a dozen of them in his arms, now.

Hoseok walks Yoongi and Sunhee to the classroom, following just closely behind them as Sunhee reaches up to hold onto Yoongi’s hand.

Reaching the classroom, Sunhee waves one last goodbye to Hoseok before she dashes inside, shoes and backpack left by the cubbies.

Yoongi hesitates by the door, all of the things he’d carried earlier now laid on his table, just a few steps away. Everything except for the steaming cups of coffee, one of which he offers to Hoseok. “Here, as a thank you,”

“Do you usually order two cups of coffee for yourself, or—“

Yoongi rolls his eyes at that. “Just take it, Hoseok,”

And Hoseok does, fingers wrapping around the cup carefully. It’s still warm.

“Serves Taehyung right for being late, anyway,” Hoseok hears Yoongi mumble right under his breath. He looks less annoyed and more—well, Yoongi looks more awake, now. Kinder, even, after his first sip of coffee. As he leans against the door frame, staring up at Hoseok like he’s waiting.

Hoseok realises a tad bit too late that Yoongi’s just waiting for him to leave, which he nearly jumps at, his grin apologetic as he says, “Well, I don’t wanna make you late—“

“I’ve got three more minutes before the first bell,” Yoongi starts, taking another sip of his coffee. “And it takes me literally three seconds to step inside that classroom,”

There’s a brief moment of confusion, Hoseok’s own thoughts running on overdrive, because he doesn’t understand Yoongi, really.

Somedays, all he can offer Hoseok is a curt little smile, and then the next he’ll laugh at a dumb joke Hoseok’s let slip. And then—and then on particularly rare days (or, more specifically, that one fateful day), Yoongi had been flustered. Had blushed. Nearly stumbled on even ground as he led the way, his ears bright pink.

Hoseok doesn’t understand Yoongi, but he finds that he wants to. He really does.

The few minutes they spend together before the start of the class are minutes they spend in almost silence, only broken when Hoseok nearly chokes on the coffee.

“This is black,” Hoseok says dryly.

And for the first time since they’d met, Yoongi throws his head back in laughter. He laughs loud, and booming, and he laughs big, too. So big that it surprises him, because he catches himself a few moments later, though he still does snicker as he watches Hoseok grimace at the coffee.

“Mocha good for next time?” Yoongi asks, hand already reaching for the doorknob.

The first school bell rings, signalling the start of the class.

Hoseok doesn’t realise it, not immediately, at least, what Yoongi’s own words could possibly mean, but he nods, anyway, because anything is better than black coffee. “Please,” is all he says, watching as Yoongi’s lips quirk up into an all too amused smile.

The gravity of Yoongi’s words don’t hit him until he’s at work and in the middle of a meeting, too. The next time that he’d tacked right after his offer weighing heavy.

There’s no way, Hoseok had told himself just the other day. There’s no way, and yet he’s here, trying to make sense of something that really should be simple, but he’s overthinking, of course he is, because Hoseok wants—

Hoseok wants to understand. He wants to know.

And if all that leaves him are the short few minutes that Yoongi has every morning before class starts, then he’ll take it.

There’s that word again—attraction.

A word that Hoseok turns over and over again, trying to make sense of it. Trying really, really hard.

But there’s no use.

Although that really shouldn’t be a surprise. Because attraction—it comes in the form of a car that turns left on a no-left turn street. In the form of rain on a hot summer’s day. Attraction also comes in the form of one Min Yoongi, who throws his head back in laughter, eyes crinkling in the corners as he does so.

It comes sudden and unexpected but—

But not at all unpleasant, Hoseok decides, a funny little feeling stirring in his chest.

 

 

It’s a rainy Wednesday morning when Hoseok finds Sunhee in the pantry, rifling through all of her snacks.

A glance at the clock tells him that they’ve still got time for this before school, so he indulges her, as he is always known to do.

“What are you doing over there, sweetheart?” Hoseok’s standing behind her, trying to look over her as she makes a mess in the pantry. Animal crackers and biscuits and cereals have toppled over and still she doesn’t stop. “Sunny?”

“Chocolate,” Sunhee mumbles, getting up on her feet. “Can I bring chocolate today?”

“I—sure, I guess,” Hoseok says, easily side-stepping her to reach up to the higher shelves. He grabs three packets of chocolate and holds them in front of her, waiting for her approval. She nods, rather solemnly, too, which Hoseok finds hilarious. “This isn’t all for you, right?”

“No,” Sunhee grabs the chocolate from him and quickly stuffs them into a pocket in her bag. Before Hoseok can ask anything else, she’s already dashing towards the fridge, standing up on her tiptoes to reach the yoghurt drinks. “Daddy, banana or strawberry?”

“For me?” Hoseok asks, hovering over her.

She stares at the two drinks in her hands. “No, for school,”

“Sunny, I already packed one for you—“ Hoseok starts, but she stops him by thrusting the banana milk into his hand.

“What’s all this for?” Perhaps she’d promised her friends she’d bring them snacks today. There’s no other explanation for it, until, of course, Sunhee clears it up herself when she finally shuffles into her shoes, hand reaching out for Hoseok to hold as they both walk out of the apartment.

“Yoongi oppa likes yoghurt,” Sunhee says, swinging their hands between them.

“This is for who now?” Hoseok clarifies, one eyebrow quirked in a question.

“Yoongi oppa.” She says it plain as day, like it’s the only answer she’ll give Hoseok. Like it’s enough.

Hoseok is sheepish, at best, and a little bit astounded, too, because now that he thinks about it, he’s pretty damn sure Sunhee’s taking more of a liking to Yoongi now than to him.

“This is really nice of you to do, baby,” Hoseok tells her, once he’s strapped her into her booster seat. “Tell Yoongi hyung I said hi, okay?”

“Why not talk to him yourself?” Exhibit A of why Hoseok has to stop Jimin and Jungkook from babysitting her. She’s starting to sound like Jimin when she counters his own statements with a question of her own.

God. A five year old who can out-sass Hoseok.

“Because—“ Hoseok tries to explain from the front seat.

“Doesn’t daddy like Yoongi oppa?”

Looking up at the rearview mirror, Hoseok can see that Sunhee’s waiting. Looking at him.

Their eyes meet.

With a sigh that sounds way more defeated than Hoseok wants it to sound, he finally says, “Kinda.”

 

 

So Hoseok starts packing two yoghurt drinks every morning just because Sunhee insists that Yoongi loves it as much as she does.

And every morning, Yoongi hands Hoseok his own cup of coffee. Some days it’s a latte, other days its a cappuccino. Most of the time its a sweetened drink—caramel macchiato. White mocha. Salted caramel. Peppermint tea once, too, after Hoseok had said the day before that his throat had started to feel sore.

It’s odd, this strange new development, and Hoseok wonders if this is just Yoongi’s way of thanking him for the yoghurt, which would be absurd, really, because stopping for coffee right before he swings into work is much more difficult than Hoseok reaching into the top-most shelf in the fridge to get an extra bottle of yoghurt milk.

Plus, it’s more expensive, too, and Hoseok hates to seem like he’s imposing. Taking advantage. So one morning, when Yoongi pats one of the kid’s on the back and ushers them into the class, Hoseok tells him that there’s really no need for him to buy him coffee.

It’s been—well, almost two weeks, now.

Hoseok can’t say he doesn’t enjoy it, because he does, just talking to Yoongi. Watching him interact with his other students, most of them cheeky little brats (Yoongi’s own words, not Hoseok’s) that he’s still grown incredibly fond of.

“I stop by every morning anyway,” Yoongi says, as easily as that. “It’s no big deal, Hoseok,”

There’s a shift in Yoongi’s tone. It’s quieter, now. Softer, even, and it’s so subtle Hoseok almost doesn’t notice it. But he does, because he hears Yoongi. Tries to really listen to him.

It’s gotten easier, too, talking to Yoongi. Hoseok’s stopped tiptoeing around him and Yoongi’s stopped scaring him.

Jimin had said it’s all because Hoseok was way too conscious of him, which is in ways also true, but not true, because Hoseok—

Hoseok doesn’t want to make a big deal out of this.

This strange, odd little friendship they’ve formed over chocolates and yoghurt drinks, and coffee that Yoongi seems to get a kick out of, just so he can see Hoseok’s reaction whenever he takes that first sip of the mystery flavour of the day.

One of the students start yelling from the classroom and with a wince, Yoongi says that he has to go.

Hoseok raises his latte and smiles. “Thanks for the coffee, hyung.”

 

 

Namjoon is the first to bring it up—or at least, the first after Jimin.

“So,” Namjoon says, reaching across the table to take another piece of meat from Hoseok’s plate. “How’s Sunny?”

Hoseok pours Namjoon a drink. “She’s with my sister,”

They’re both out for the evening. Barbecue and a little bit of alcohol. It’s been a while since Hoseok’s gone out. Been a while since he’s really seen Namjoon. The last they’d talked was a few days ago. Just a quick exchange over the phone.

“How’s school?” Namjoon seems to be leading him somewhere, and Hoseok tries really hard not to take the bait, but Namjoon pushes, anyway, and in the end, Hoseok bites.

“Great,” he tries to sound as nonchalant about it, even when all Hoseok can think about is how all the time he really has with Yoongi are the ones in the morning, where all they do is drink coffee and talk. About Sunhee. About work—how Hoseok can show up in the morning in sweats and how on some afternoons, he’s dressed up to the nines, cufflinks and pressed dress-shirt, and customised suit. The nines . “Really good, yeah?”

“I’ve heard,” Namjoon’s amused. It shows in his smile. In the glint in his eyes.

Hoseok downs his first shot of the night and winces, the burn of the soju hot down his throat. How Namjoon can just throw his shot down without even so much as a wince or a reaction is beyond Hoseok, too.

“There’s a cafe just a few blocks down here that sells these great brownies,” Namjoon starts, passing over some meat onto Hoseok’s place. He taps the tong against his plate, signalling for Hoseok to start eating. “We should go,”

“Sunny can’t eat sweets past eight,” Hoseok says, almost automatically.

Namjoon just rolls his eyes. “No, idiot. The brownies are for the teacher,”

Oh.

Oh .

Hoseok actually chokes on a piece of meat this time.

Namjoon curses under his breath, hand reaching across the table to pat on Hoseok’s arm as Hoseok mistakenly grabs for his shot instead of the glass of water.

“I’m—“ Hoseok manages to get out, accepting the glass of water from Namjoon this time. He downs it quickly, drawing in a sharp breath as he sets it down. Lets himself relax. Lets himself breathe before he says, way too over-dramatic, “I could’ve died, Joon,”

To which Namjoon just responds with a well-aimed kick at his shin from under the table.

“Don’t, because I think you owe that teacher something after all the coffee,”

Hoseok hasn’t even told him about that. Hasn’t told anyone except Jungkook, that one night when he’d dropped by right after work with a new DVD for Sunhee. Great. Now Hoseok has to kill Jungkook, he thinks.

“You’re not serious, are you?” Hoseok asks, the colour draining from his face. There’s no way that Namjoon, of all people, would even suggest this, unless—

“Jimin said it was a good idea,”

There it is. The last screw that sets all the gears turning in Hoseok’s head.

“I’m going to kill him,” is all Hoseok says, taking one more shot.

Namjoon laughs at that, loud and booming, and barking. “Right, but not before the brownies, yeah?”

 

 

Yoongi stares at the box of brownies for a while, not blinking, not moving, not doing anything, really.

Hoseok’s starting to worry that perhaps the brownies have broken Yoongi, until—

Until Yoongi looks up at him again, a funny look on his face that Hoseok can’t quite read. “What’s this?”

“Brownies,” Hoseok starts, already knowing that a ramble’s about to come. “Baked goods. See, they’re pretty common around these parts. In fact, most children love them. Bakeries and cafes all have them, too, which is why it’s shocking how you don’t know—“

Yoongi stops him before he can continue, the older man groaning. “No, I mean—yes I know what brownies are. I meant, what are these for?”

“Oh,” Hoseok feels his face warm. Starts to think that this was really a bad idea. He’d only agreed because Namjoon had gotten him drunk and Jimin—Jimin had called him that very morning to remind him, and Hoseok hates his friends, he really does, but at the same time he knows that they’re all just trying to do good by him.

Some day, Hoseok wishes he’ll find the strength not to get too swept up in their antics. Some day.

“Oh?” Yoongi repeats, eyes darting from the large pink box to Hoseok’s face.

“Yeah—brownies,” Hoseok repeats, rather lame. Super lame, actually. “I—as a thank you, hyung. For the coffee.”

Yoongi’s grip around the box tightens. “You didn’t have to,”

His voice is softer, and Hoseok can definitely tell this time.

And there it is again, that small little oh that falls in line next to all the gears. A screw in this cog-machine that spurs Hoseok on.

Hoseok just smiles at Yoongi, a little sheepish, and a lot grateful that he hadn’t just been met with outright rejection over brownies. A box of brownies, really. “I wanted to.”

 

 

The first thing Hoseok thinks of as he’s running late to pick Sunhee up is how Yoongi’s going to kick his ass. He hadn’t even bothered to call the school to tell them, because he thought he’d be able to make it, but as it stands, Hoseok’s already ten minutes late, and if Sunhee won’t kick him to the curb then he’s pretty sure Yoongi will, without a doubt, really.

Hoseok practically flings himself out of the car as soon as he’s managed to park. He hurries to the entrance, looking around at all the different teachers who are still out and waiting. Hoseok isn’t quite sure just how many minutes is too goddamn late but he thinks that ten minutes is surely not that bad, right?

Really, it shouldn’t be, but at the sight of Yoongi sitting down on the ground, legs crossed while he lets Sunhee and one other kid twirl his hair into braids, Hoseok is starting to rethink his choices.

“Erm,” Hoseok says, feeling like he’s intruding on an important moment.

Sunhee looks up at him, the smile on her face bright and wide, and absolutely amused at what she’s doing right now. “Daddy!”

At the mention of Hoseok’s name, Yoongi opens his eyes, staring up at him through his lashes. Through his mussed up hair that hangs in front of his eyes.

“Hyung, I’m really sorry,” Hoseok says, hand already reaching out to take Sunhee, his fingers automatically folding gently over her shoulders. He gives it a squeeze, then, when all she can do is hum a silly little tune under her breath. Hoseok smiles, easing up. He swoops down quickly to kiss her on the cheek, while Sunhee squirms in his hold, squealing out a high-pitched, hey! that has even Yoongi smiling.

Although why he’s on the ground letting five year olds play with his hair is a good and viable question to ask, Hoseok holds off on it.

Instead, he just looks down at Yoongi, who’s taken the other kid—Ayoung, Hoseok hears—by the wrist, gently tugging her towards him. “What did you do to my hair?”

“Sunhee did it, too,” she laughs, loud and high-pitched and Hoseok is pretty sure that that’s the kind of laugh that can shatter glass. “You don’t like it, teacher Min?”

Yoongi gives her cheek a little pinch. “Do I look good?”

The two kids chirp their agreement in unison, and Yoongi just smiles, a little sheepish, and a lot fond. “Well, I love it, then,”

Soon enough, before Hoseok can even say another word, can even apologise again, Ayoung’s mother comes rushing towards them, the first words out of her mouth an apology that Yoongi easily waves away with a good natured laugh. The mother also apologises for what her daughter’s done to his hair, but that’s really not something Yoongi minds.

In fact, Yoongi looks like he’s having the time of his laugh.

Instinctively, Hoseok gives Sunhee’s shoulders a squeeze, and she looks up at him, wild, dark curls flying around as the cool autumn air blows against them.

“Daddy, I’m hungry,” Sunhee says, tugging on the sleeve of Hoseok’s coat. “Can we go get ice cream?”

“You don’t eat ice cream when you’re hungry,” is what Yoongi says, still on the ground and looking like he hasn’t got any plans to stand up.

With a little snicker, Hoseok offers a hand down to him, to help him up, and it’s a hand that Yoongi looks at for a few seconds too long, lips pursed, and eyes un-blinking. Un-seeing.

Eventually, Yoongi takes Hoseok’s hand, grasping tightly on it as Hoseok pulls him back up to his feet, Sunhee immediately latching onto Yoongi as soon as he’s up and standing.

“Ice cream,” is all she says, pouting up at Yoongi, and then at Hoseok. “I want ice cream,”

Yoongi shoots Hoseok a sympathetic grimace. “How do you even say no to this face?”

With a groan, Hoseok just gestures for Sunhee to come closer. “That’s the thing, I don,t”

And Yoongi looks mildly amused at that but not at all surprised, instead, he just shrugs his shoulders, says, “I thought so,” and then, to Sunhee, “Well, enjoy your ice cream,”

Hoseok’s about to say goodbye—about to drag the both of them out of that school because it’s been a few minutes already and Yoongi still hasn’t told him he was an idiot for coming in late—but then Sunhee scrunches her nose up, and says, “I want oppa to come,”

“Sunny,” Hoseok mumbles, leaning down so he can talk to her more directly. “Teacher Min is busy,”

“Are you?” Sunhee asks, trying to wriggle out of Hoseok’s grasp. She takes her first few steps towards Yoongi, eyes wide. Pleading. Hoseok knows that look all too well. This is the same look that he hasn’t said no to, not once. God. “You don’t wanna get ice cream with us?”

“Sunny, that’s not too polite,” Hoseok tries, cutting in as he shoots Yoongi an apologetic look.

But Sunhee doesn’t budge at all, the little girl still looking up at Yoongi, and refusing to let Hoseok sway her.

“But I want him to come,” Sunhee murmurs, looking down this time, her shoulders slacking. “Or else.”

And it’s an empty threat, Hoseok knows. Besides—what can a five year old do, really. But at the same time, what can’t his five-year old do that won’t send a chill down his spine, especially after she’d just said or else like that.

Hoseok catches Yoongi’s eyes from above Sunhee’s head, the older man looking—well, not looking bothered at all about it, like this is completely okay with him. Like it’s not a big deal.

“I mean,” Yoongi starts, crouching down to level his gaze with Sunhee’s. “I’m not busy, and I do like ice cream,”

Sunhee smiles at that, bright and beaming, and Hoseok—

Hoseok just looks at Yoongi, a funny little look on both of their faces as Yoongi straightens back up to offer Hoseok a smile, more sheepish than anything, and—and just the slightest bit fond, Hoseok notices.

“If that’s okay,” Hoseok says, returning Yoongi’s smile.

Warm. It’s a warm smile. Coloured in with reds and oranges. The colour of the sky above them, nearing sunset, now. It’s a beautiful smile, this one Hoseok sees on Yoongi. He looks surprised, too, like he isn’t quite sure how, or why they’d gotten here, but at the same time, he looks—well, he looks completely at ease.

“If it’s no problem with you.”

“No,” Hoseok begins to say, his heart squeezing, just the slightest bit. His smile is brighter now, too, and he hopes to god he doesn’t look like an utter fool in front of Yoongi right now—probably too late for that—but still, Hoseok smiles, and laughs, a little breathlessly, as he says, “It’s no problem at all, hyung.”

 

 

So ice cream with Yoongi—it’s actually not that bad.

If Hoseok’s being more honest and transparent, then it’s great, actually, except maybe for the part where his own daughter is more concerned about getting Yoongi’s attention than she is with Hoseok.

But other than that, it’s great.

Hoseok hasn’t exactly seen Yoongi in action with kids. Sure, he’s seen glimpses, but never really the full picture. Now, though, as he sits from across the table, watching as Sunhee dramatically recounts her favourite show to Yoongi, who listens attentively and nods in all the right places, Hoseok realises that he’s got a knack for these things.

And a charm, but that’s not something he’s ever going to say out loud.

Halfway through their cups, Sunhee starts to get bored of just sitting around and in an effort to at least pacify her to stay for just a few more minutes in this little ice cream parlour, Hoseok hands his phone over to her.

Yoongi raises his eyebrow at that.

“She gets her hours,” Hoseok says, in a way to defend himself, but it’s no use. Yoongi’s witness to how much of a fool he already is—that is, for his daughter.

Yoongi’s seen just how difficult it is for Hoseok to deny Sunhee of anything. How he practically never does. He’s also been a victim to it, too, which is why he looks more sympathetic than anything, now.

“You know, there’s a parent-teacher meeting next week,” Yoongi tells him, glancing away from Sunhee to look at Hoseok.

“Right, I know that,” Hoseok is lying. In all honesty, he can’t even say he’d forgotten about it because he doesn’t think he’d ever heard about a meeting in the first place. His face must say it all because Yoongi sighs, although he doesn’t look too annoyed. Which is a win in Hoseok’s book, if you ask him.

“I knew it,” he sounds exasperated, at best, but Yoongi’s smile is a whole other thing. His smile tells Hoseok that him forgetting—or simply not knowing about it—isn’t as grave an injury as he’d thought. “What time do you think you can make it?”

“Erm, whenever you’re good,” and Hoseok’s trying, he really is, but he’s starting to realise just how difficult a task it is to meet Yoongi’s gaze. How monumental it is for him to hold it for that extra few seconds. “You’ll only have a few hours, right?”

But Yoongi shakes his head. Clears his throat, too, and digs his spoon back into his half-melted ice cream before he grumbles, under his breath, too low and muffled that Hoseok even doubts that he hears it, “I’m saying I’ll stick around and wait for you,”

It takes Hoseok a few seconds to register that. To properly process it, because his brain may just be playing tricks. His ears not exactly picking up the precise words.

The slight tinge of pink gives it a way, and all of a sudden it clicks.

He feels something warm spread across his chest, fingers curling over his lap, an all too quiet oh ringing in his head.

Yoongi had meant—

Yoongi had meant that he’ll wait for him. Because Hoseok’s been too busy to even make it on time to pick Sunhee up from school these past few days.

“Oh,” is all Hoseok manages to get out, still a little floored, and maybe just the slightest (a lot) bit flustered. “I—you don’t have to,”

There’s that phrase again.

You don’t have to.

The coffee.

The brownies.

The ice cream.

And this time, Yoongi’s extended hours.

“When I tell you it’s no problem, it’s no problem, really,” Yoongi is straight-forward with him, at least. And there’s no sign left of the blush but there is more colour to his face now which Hoseok definitely notices—and doesn’t think too much about, because there’s no way, and besides, Sunhee’s right next to Yoongi, and there’s literally just no fucking way around this.

“Hyung,” Hoseok manages, but he stops himself. Instead, he just breathes out a sigh of relief. Allows himself to relax for this one moment, and smiles. “Thanks. I really—honestly, I don’t know how I’d even survive this whole pre-school thing without you.”

At that, Yoongi laughs, all of a sudden and loud, shoulders shaking, and head thrown back in amusement.

After Sunhee’s tapped on his knee and asked what the joke is exactly, Yoongi finally settles down enough to crack a crooked little smile that he directs to Hoseok, and says, voice shaking with suppressed laughter, “That’s literally what the kids say, not the parent.”

 

 

Hoseok genuinely doesn’t know how things have happened, but somehow, someway, one afternoon had turned into two, and then three, and before Hoseok can even fully get a hold of the situation, it’s already Saturday. Looking back on things, he should’ve known that Sunhee was completely taking over his inability to say no, especially when it came to sweets.

But Hoseok had lost that battle for three afternoons in a row, and from the looks of things, Yoongi had, too, because for the past three days, Yoongi had accompanied them for ice cream. Had sat across from Hoseok the whole time, playing with Sunhee. Listening to her. Talking to her. And to Hoseok, too, of course, and there’s a way that Yoongi talks that makes Hoseok feel at ease.

He can still remember how they’d met. Can still remember the nerves and anticipation whenever he ran into Yoongi at the hall, afraid that the teacher would one day bite his head off. Now, although the nerves and the anticipation haven’t quite disappeared, they’re completely different.

This time, when Hoseok feels nervous, it’s not because he’s worried, or afraid of how Yoongi may react, how he may judge his parenting. No, this time, when Hoseok feels nervous, it’s because Yoongi’s suddenly looking over his way, and smiling. And laughing. Shaking his head whenever Hoseok says something stupid or other, and all the while smiling rather fondly at Sunhee, who can’t seem to get enough of him.

Hoseok repeats the exact same words to Namjoon on a rainy Saturday night, all of them camped out in his place for some much needed unwinding.

“Sounds like it’s not just Sunny who can’t get enough of him,” is what Jungkook mumbles under his breath.

Hoseok can see Jimin elbowing him in the chest, but Jungkook just takes it with a grimace, retaliating a few seconds later by nearly biting Jimin’s hair off, and god, they’re weird, they’ve always been weird, but Hoseok loves the both of them, weird, cute relationship and all.

Namjoon seems to just be on the same track as him because he actually coughs out, “That’s some really weird foreplay,”

To which Jimin almost sneezes rather violently at, straightening up from where he’s leaned against Jungkook. “It’s not—it’s—wow, shut up,”

Jungkook just buries his smile in a rather flustered Jimin’s hair, and Hoseok sighs, because this is how their Saturday nights have evolved to. Barbecue for dinner and then a few rounds of beer while they talk about their week.

While they pester Hoseok about his.

“I heard you’ve been going on dates,” Namjoon is the first to break their comfortable silence. Hoseok’s just lowered the volume on the speakers, afraid that it might wake Sunhee a floor up from them.

At the mention of a date, though, Hoseok immediately feels his face warm. The heat rising from the base of his neck, spreading right across his cheeks, before it stops at the tips of his ears. Hoseok finds it rather difficult to swallow his next swig of beer, but he manages, only to find that all three of his friends are looking at him, expectant expressions on their face.

This is perhaps another reminder for Hoseok to stop giving Jimin an exact blow-by-blow of his day, because it only leads to this.

Eventually, because there’s no other way around it, Hoseok says, “They’re not dates,”

“They should be,” Jungkook says, from his corner on the couch.

Jimin nods, easily agreeing to that. “Would be nice if they were, though,”

And Hoseok knows that in some ways, his friends are just teasing. Just joking. But he also knows that they only have the best intentions for him, and Namjoon actually saying, “It’s about time, too,” only confirms that.

But Hoseok hasn’t really—

He doesn’t really want to think about that. Not with Sunhee.

It’s obvious that he likes Yoongi—or at least, how hard he’s trying not to make it too obvious, because Yoongi is nice. And he’s got a smile that calms Hoseok down, makes him feel at ease.

And he’s great with kids, too.

Yoongi’s great with Hoseok’s kid.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Hoseok has a kid. He has Sunhee, and he has no idea how to go about this. Through the wall or under it? Over it, perhaps, or around it? There’s no one way, and he just—Hoseok just has no idea, so he’s stopped lamenting over it and just started to enjoy the time he gets with Yoongi. Besides, Hoseok has never been greedy. He’ll take what he can get.

“Hyung,” before Hoseok can even blink, Jimin’s already on the floor next to him, the younger boy plopping himself down. Jimin leans his head against Hoseok’s shoulder, and Hoseok sighs, his arm coming around Jimin’s middle to give him a squeeze, to tell him that he’s thankful that he’s always here, that he’s never left even when all Hoseok’s been doing in his life is run away. “Don’t overthink it,”

“But—“ Hoseok tries to say, only this time, Jungkook beats him to it by trilling,

But Sunny ,”

That’s good, Hoseok will give him that. The accuracy. He shoots Jungkook a wry smile that Jungkook returns with a cheeky grin of his own.

“Don’t you think it’s weird,” Hoseok hears himself say, feeling Jimin’s weight against him. Jimin’s warmth. The comfort that his presence brings. “Like, he’s Sunny’s teacher, isn’t that—isn’t that weird?”

Namjoon actually snorts. “No, that’s not weird, idiot,” and then, in a voice that’s much, much softer, he says, “It’s pretty fucking precious, if you ask me,”

Hoseok’s about to reprimand him for cursing when he remembers that Sunhee’s upstairs and asleep, and thank god she hadn’t heard that, because Hoseok really won’t know what to do if she shows up to Yoongi’s class and just—just starts cursing. God, the mortification, really.

“I don’t know,” is what Hoseok says, instead, because he really doesn’t know. It’s not that he’s unsure, but he’s just—he just doesn’t know. The waters of single parenthood are tricky, which is the kindest way to put it, but Hoseok really won’t exchange it for the world.

His mother had told him, once, a few years ago, that he should learn balance, and now that Hoseok’s starting to think that he may actually want to pursue something more with someone, he’s starting to realise that what if it’s too late for him to learn that. Balance. What if it’s too late and now all Hoseok will ever be is someone who teeters off the edge of the world, desperately trying to keep himself from slipping?

A small voice from the top of the stairs rouses him out of his own thoughts, though, Sunhee’s very quiet, “Daddy?” ringing as loud as a foghorn in Hoseok’s ears.

He’s on his feet in an instant, the only thing he says to his friends in response to their questioning stares a quiet give me a minute that they instantly understand when Sunhee makes her way down the stairs, curls a mess and her blanket wrapped around her shoulders.

“I can’t sleep,” Sunhee tells him, as soon as Hoseok’s scooped her up into his arms.

She feels right. Perfect. Hoseok can hold onto her forever and he’ll never tire, never even think of putting her down, because the world—his world isn’t balanced, not right now, and he doesn’t want her to stumble, slip, or fall. He doesn’t want her to get hurt, not when Hoseok can’t even decide. When he doesn’t even know what to do over a silly little crush.

“Is it the rain?” Hoseok asks her, already making his way up to her bedroom.

Sunhee nods, leaning into him, head on his chest. “It’s scary, daddy,”

Walking into her room, Hoseok realises that the drapes are pulled all the way open, revealing the harsh rains. He sets her down for a second just to pull them back.

When he turns around, he finds that Sunhee’s right next to him, afraid to get in bed by herself.

Hoseok smiles down at her, pulling her along with him as he sits down on the bed.

Sunhee doesn’t crawl back under her covers until Hoseok’s in bed with her. She cuddles closer to him, eyes shutting tight when a particularly bad crack of lightning resounds throughout the room.

“Sorry, baby,” Hoseok apologises, brushing his fingers through her hair. “Daddy’s gonna stay here until you fall asleep, okay?”

“Are you sure?” Sunhee asks, looking up at him through heavy, tired eyes.

Hoseok kisses her forehead. “I’ll stay with Sunny forever.”

That makes her smile, eyes glowing like lamps in the darkness.

And here in the darkness, in the middle of a storm that’s kept his five year old up, Hoseok thinks. He thinks back to how they’d started. How much he’d given up just so he could be with her. How—how he’s taken several leaps of faith, really, to keep them both afloat.

With Sunny safe in his arms, fast asleep already, Hoseok wonders—he lets himself wonder just how exactly she’d react when he tells her that he wants to date her teacher. And she’ll ask what dating is, because she’s never seen Hoseok go on a single date, since, and Hoseok will have to explain, and god, maybe cursing in front of Yoongi would be better than Hoseok having to explain his actual intentions, but—

But Sunhee is smart, isn’t she, and she’s got a heart of gold. A laugh that keeps all of Hoseok’s fears at bay.

Hoseok thinks, then, not for the first time, but still—it’s a thought that brings him back down to the ground. That keeps him centred. He thinks about how he’d learned how to rebuild a house from scratch, but he’d also realised that home is not a structure, but the people you’re with.

And for Hoseok, home will always be his daughter.

So long as Sunhee’s happy, then Hoseok will be, too.

Hoseok closes his eyes rather briefly, just so he can drown out the sound of the rain with Sunhee’s even breathing.

Sunhee might only be five, but she’s taught Hoseok so much already, like how sometimes, when it comes to the unknown, all you really have to do is find the courage, find the strength and determination, to take that leap of faith.

 

 

The meeting with Yoongi is going smoothly, Hoseok thinks.

Yoongi tells him about Sunhee’s performance in school. How she’d managed to ease into the rest of the class with no problems at all. At the start of school, Hoseok had expressed that sometimes, she responds better in English. That her Korean isn’t the best, and Yoongi touches up on that, too, tells him that she’s doing just fine language-wise with the rest of her classmates.

“Kids are really good at picking up languages,” Yoongi tells him, looking up briefly from his little binder. “They have no trouble understanding her. Although, when she insists on talking to me in English,” he trails off at that, a fond little smile on his face as Yoongi continues to recount specific instances in class wherein Sunhee had shined. When she’d done well.

Hoseok is surprised—not that he hadn’t expected his daughter to do well, because he believes in her. Thinks she’s the brightest little girl in the world, too, but. Well, Hoseok had his apprehensions. Had thought she would find it a little bit difficult, but as it stands, she’d fit right in, and he can’t be any happier.

He tells Yoongi as such, the older man nodding along to what he’s said, the same smile on his face as he continues to tell Hoseok that Sunhee’s bright for her age.

“And colourful, I think,”

Hoseok raises his eyebrow at that, because that’s odd, and he hasn’t quite heard that before.

But Yoongi just shakes his head, puts down his binder, and tells him, “Colourful as in—she’s full of surprises. Never a dull moment with her, really,”

“Tell me about it,” Hoseok says with a sigh, leaning back into his chair.

Across from him and behind his table, Yoongi laughs, amused and just the slightest bit wry.

“You’re pretty colourful, too, Hoseok,”

Hoseok immediately straightens up at that, because what did Yoongi just say about Sunhee being colourful—

Full of surprises.

Never a dull moment.

Hoseok feels a knot tightening in his gut. A fuzzy feeling stretching all the way across his chest. And Hoseok doesn’t quite understand this—this strange feeling of attraction, and why it makes him feel like simultaneously burning up and throwing up at the same time. How it works like that, he doesn’t quite know, but it does, and right now, Hoseok can’t even meet Yoongi’s eyes.

Yoongi seems to notice that something’s wrong—which is wrong in itself, because nothing is wrong, Hoseok’s just having a crisis. A really gay crisis, Jimin had called it the other night—because he stands up all of a sudden, brows furrowed in confusion.

“Are you okay? Is it something about what I said—“

But Hoseok shakes his head, tries to ease a smile onto his face, and then finally, finally, breathes out a deep sigh. “I just—I guess I’m just relieved,” which isn’t a lie in itself, because Hoseok is relieved to know that Sunhee’s doing well, and he’s also relieved that he hasn’t thrown up on Yoongi’s floor. At least, not yet, anyway.

Yoongi’s standing in front of him now, hand reaching out to squeeze reassuringly on Hoseok’s shoulder.

It’s new. It’s something he’s never done before, and Hoseok freezes, the weight of Yoongi’s arm on his shoulder foreign and at the same time comforting. Something that Hoseok can only hope will one day become—familiar.

Familiar, because that’s what he feels when he looks at Yoongi, now.

Familiar.

“You’re doing the best that you can, Hoseok,” Yoongi tells him, smiling at him.

Hoseok can only tilt his head up to look at Yoongi, rooted in his seat the whole time. He swallows.

“For all it’s worth, I think it’s enough,”

It’s worth everything, Hoseok wants to tell him, but he can’t. He doesn’t, because all of a sudden words are failing him. He can’t string anything together, and he hates himself for being too surprised to speak, for being too—too gone for Yoongi at this point, and perhaps it’s the nerves. Perhaps it is, but Hoseok feels like an idiot, now.

Although Yoongi’s smile makes him feel anything else but.

Finally, after Yoongi’s pulled his hand away, and Hoseok’s gotten back on his feet, he says, “Thanks, hyung. Sunny and I—we’re really grateful for you,”

Walking Hoseok to the door, Yoongi shakes his head. “Nah, don’t say that. I do what I can,” and then, catching on what he’d just said, Yoongi grins, much, much brighter at Hoseok. “And you do, too. We’re both getting by here.”

Just getting by.

Hoseok likes the sound of that, too. Whatever it takes to get by.

Before he leaves, Hoseok turns to Yoongi for one last time, and says, with all the strength and courage he’s managed to muster, “Can I make it up to you?”

It’s a feat that he doesn’t even stammer over his own words. A feat that Namjoon would probably be proud at, but—

But it’s not successful at all, because Yoongi just shrugs his shoulders, telling him that there’s really no need for that, “We’re good, yeah?”

“Are you sure?” Hoseok is anything if not persistent. He’s learned a thing or two from Sunhee, at least.

“Positive,” Yoongi looks sheepish, at best, but Hoseok can see the trace of the same smile he’s flashed Sunhee whenever she’d talked his ear off. Whenever she bounced up to him with an all too loud good morning! that rang all around the room, bouncing on the walls until it fell right onto Yoongi’s lap.

There is fond so clear on Yoongi’s face, and Hoseok thinks that the smile on his face isn’t any better, because he’s realised that he can’t quite stop smiling around Yoongi, chest warm, and his head light.

“We’re okay, Hoseokie,”

The term of endearment makes Hoseok blush, he’s sure of that, because his face is heating up, and Yoongi’s actually laughing quietly to himself, smile tugging on the corners of his mouth, bright, brighter, and brightest.

“If you say so, hyung, but if it’s not too much, then,” and Hoseok can stop here. Tell him thanks and goodbye, but that’s not what he wants. So Hoseok gets a firm grasp on what he wants to say. Breathes in deep, first, and then finally comes out with it and says, “Would you maybe want to have dinner with me. And—and Sunny. With the two of us?”

It’s Yoongi’s turn to startle at that, but Hoseok continues, because now that he’s managed to talk, he can’t stop, and the whole time Hoseok’s blabbering about how he should just let him cook dinner as a way of thanks, how they could maybe just spend the afternoon with Sunhee again, not unlike all the times they’d done so in the past, with ice cream and coffee. The whole time, Yoongi listens to him, that same fond little smile playing across his features.

It makes him look pretty. So, so pretty, Hoseok almost has to remind himself to breathe again, because he stammers out his last, “Is that okay?” when he catches the look on Yoongi’s face—when he sees just how beautiful he is, hair a bit of a mess, his white sleeves streaked with a few brushes of colour from finger-painting earlier, and his smile—it looks more exasperated now than anything, but there is still a fondness, there. An endearment.

Hoseok smiles back, albeit a little bit more nervous than usual, because he’d talked too much, and Yoongi hasn’t even said anything, and Hoseok’s in trouble, now, because what if Yoongi thinks it’s weird, and he realises that Hoseok may just have a crush on him, and—

“Yeah, dinner sounds great,” and Hoseok doesn’t hear it, but there is a very quiet, very small that’s better than okay that Yoongi doesn’t say. That Yoongi doesn’t need to say. “Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow, yeah,” Hoseok can’t help it if he’s smiling like an idiot. But he’s happy. He really is. “I’ll pick you up at the station. Does that sound okay?”

This time, when Yoongi says, “Sounds perfect.” Hoseok can see just the hint of a blush dusting across Yoongi’s pale face.

And Hoseok—

Hoseok can only agree. It’s absolutely perfect.

 

 

Sunhee is all smiles and bright laughter as they make the short walk to the station. Hoseok hadn’t been quite sure if Yoongi would be able to make it to their place okay, so he’d suggested they pick him up.

Hoseok actually has to tell Sunhee to calm down, baby, please, because she’s a ball of excitement, practically skipping as she walks, her small hand warm in Hoseok’s hold. And she’s excited. Had almost refused to sleep last night because she couldn’t, and not without a lack of trying, too. The only thing that really made her sleep was when Hoseok said the morning would come sooner if she did.

So here they are, a little past four in the afternoon, a particularly thick scarf loped around Sunhee’s neck as they make their way towards the subway. She talks Hoseok’s ear off the entire time, first about her favourite tv show, and then next about Yoongi, and if he’ll like what they’d cooked for him.

“Oh no, daddy,” Sunhee suddenly says, just a block away from the station. Hoseok stops, instantly worried. He watches as she furrows her brows, lips pushing out into a pout. “Oppa likes ice cream. We don’t have ice cream,”

Ice cream. Of course. Hoseok had thought it was serious—and perhaps to a five year old, a lack of ice cream is serious. In any case, he just sighs, tugging on Sunhee’s hand as the little traffic sign tells them it’s safe to walk, and says, “Sure, after we pick him up, okay?”

When they arrive at the station, it’s to find Yoongi talking to—to someone who looks vaguely familiar. It’s only when they stop a few steps away from them that Hoseok realises it’s the teacher from Sunhee’s preschool, a few classrooms away from hers.

“Hi,” Yoongi says, his smile a little bit off guard at how suddenly Hoseok had just arrived with Sunhee.

Sunhee rips her hand out of Hoseok’s so she can run over to Yoongi, who ruffles her curls with a hand, his smile turning much, much fonder. “Hey, sunshine,”

Hoseok can only smile at that, and for a second, it’s just the three of them, Sunhee practically wanting to jump right into Yoongi’s arms and Hoseok—Hoseok feeling like he’d suddenly intruded on a private moment between Yoongi and the other teacher, come the next second.

“Is this your—“ Hoseok starts to say, looking up at the other boy. He looks much younger. Good looking, though, and tall. Gangly, even. But he looks nice. Hoseok doesn’t even realise he’d asked the question until Yoongi blanches at him, before he scowls, throwing a glance up at the other boy.

“My—“ and for a second, Yoongi blanks, searching for a word. “Did you mean to ask if—Taehyung—dating? Boyfriend ?” For a second, Hoseok wonders if he’d thought wrong, and god , how terrible would it be if Yoongi isn’t even into men, but then Hoseok thinks—

Hoseok thinks of the possibility that he may already be in a relationship, and how pathetic does that make him, pining over someone who’s already taken? Who hasn’t got time for him except when it’s got something to do with work?

But Yoongi’s reaction tells him differently, though, because Yoongi actually sputters out his next few words, tone incredulous and absolutely insulted when he says, “As—as if. Fuck—fucking hell. no, no. Shit .”

And it’s like Yoongi’s forgotten about the five year old holding his hand, because Hoseok actually coughs, reminding him that Sunhee had just heard everything he’d said. The colourful choice of words that Yoongi now realises he’d not just uttered, but actually spat out right in front of Sunhee. A five year old whom he teaches.

“You really could’ve just said no, hyung,” the other boy stage whispers. He’s crouched low behind Sunhee, hands playfully covering her ears as he sticks his tongue out at Yoongi, and then, after all Yoongi can do is blush high up to the tops of his cheeks, he turns to look at Hoseok, smile wide and just a little bit lopsided. “Kim Taehyung. I teach a few doors down from Yoongi hyung,”

“Jung Hoseok,” Hoseok says, still a little bit floored. Which is an understatement, after what Yoongi had just said. How Yoongi had just reacted.

Hoseok doesn’t even quite understand what he feels, either—how he’d gone from completely elated to seeing Yoongi, and then outright down at the thought that he may already be dating somebody, and how that thought had never even crossed his mind, and then—and then this. Hoseok doesn’t understand this. His chest tightening for one second, and then expanding the next. How he suddenly feels much, much lighter. Vision clear and not as murky anymore.

“Taehyung’s meeting a friend here, too,” Yoongi’s finally calmed down enough to talk. He looks apologetic and absolutely mortified, glancing down at Sunhee every other few moments. He worries on his bottom lip, probably hoping. Wishing that Sunhee hadn’t even picked up on what he’d just said.

Sunhee doesn’t react at all, though, which is only to be expected, after how much Jungkook and Namjoon curse accidentally around her. She’d already asked—had already been given the talk. But still. It’s really more bad than good whenever someone slips up in front of her.

Hoseok is only happy that she’s too busy playing with Taehyung, now, to even point out that Yoongi had said a bad word. A few bad words.

“Speaking of friends,” Taehyung passes Sunhee back to Yoongi, who takes her hand with a little wince, still horrified after what he’d just done. “I have to go. Yoongi hyung—Hoseok hyung. Sunhee, my precious beam of light,” he gives them an all too cheery farewell, already jogging away from them, but not before he blows Sunhee an all-too dramatic kiss that she reciprocates, her laughter high and tinkling.

It’s only when Taehyung’s rounded the corner that Hoseok and Yoongi start walking again, Sunhee right between them, the little girl holding onto both of their hands.

Yoongi breaks the silence, then, with an apology that he huffs out. “Sorry about all the—the cursing,”

Hoseok just laughs at that, “No. It’s fine. Honestly, she’s heard much worse,”

And it’s Yoongi’s turn to be insulted, eyes narrowing at Hoseok, who just shrugs his shoulders. At least Sunhee hadn’t started yelling the words right back at Yoongi. Unlike—unlike the incident from a few weeks ago, when Jimin had slipped at the pizza place and had started cursing up a storm.

To say that Sunhee wouldn’t stop saying fuck! for that entire afternoon would be a big fat, fucking lie.

“Y’know, Taehyung and I go all the way back to university,” Yoongi says, in a way to fill in the quiet between them. “We’re—friends, yeah. That’s it. Nothing else, really,”

Hoseok feels it again. This sense of—lightness. Elation, it seems, and—

And relief.

It’s relief.

Relief is what he’s feeling now, each breath coming out much, much lighter. Chest growing warmer, even after the weather’s just dropped, the cold starting to seep faster into every nook and cranny that it has access to.

“Oh,” is all Hoseok can start with, tugging on Sunhee’s hand to guide her to an opposite block that doesn’t quite lead to their apartment. Not yet, anyway. “I mean—yeah. That’s—good,” and then, under his breath and so low Yoongi can’t possibly hear him, “That’s a relief.”

But Yoongi does hear him, because he stops, just to stare at Hoseok, and between them, Sunhee whines, telling them that they have to go. That they have to hurry up for ice cream, or else dinner will be bad and ugly, and terrible without it.

“Sorry—we have to stop by for ice cream,” Hoseok’s practically tripping on his own words, his smile a little nervous. A lot nervous, really, and he hopes Yoongi doesn’t pick up on it, but he does, of course he does, the look on his face amused, if anything. His eyes alight and one eyebrow quirked, as if to challenge Hoseok on what he’d just said.

Instead of actually commenting, though, or laughing, Yoongi just shrugs his shoulders and says, “Yeah, okay,”

And Hoseok knows that he’s overcompensating after that last slip up, that he’s probably looking like a giant idiot now, but he swears—he swears that Yoongi doesn’t even fault him that. Doesn’t bring it up as they walk for a few more minutes towards the mini grocery store, tucked away into a corner. Yoongi doesn’t say anything until they’re ringing up the two tubs of ice cream, Sunhee practically dangling from both of their hands, all too excited for the prospect of dinner but most importantly, ice cream.

“I heard that, by the way,” Yoongi tells Hoseok, just as they’re stepping back out into the cold. He’s smiling, something fond and—and soft, Hoseok notices. So, so soft, it makes his eyes look warm, even when it’s so, so cold out, now.

It might be cold, but with Sunhee tugging the both of them along to walk even faster, and with Yoongi’s warm, shy little smile tucked away behind his scarf, all Hoseok can feel is warm.

 

 

Dinner goes a little something like this—

Sunhee making a face as soon as she bites into the braised pork, because it’s too spicy, and before they even know what’s happening, she’s coughing, scrabbling for water. Yoongi is beside her in an instant, helping her drink the water, and patting her back gently, easing her out of it.

Hoseok can only grimace at what he’d just done to his daughter, but then—

But then she says she wants to try it again, and Yoongi laughs, and soon enough, Hoseok laughs, too.

And this is how dinner truly goes, right after that—

With the three of them spending it with pleasant conversation and much more pleasant company. With Sunhee taking a liking to spicy food, and Yoongi pouring himself a more than generous amount of wine that Hoseok had snuck into the dining room.

They spend it with a lot of laughter, Sunhee making a face whenever Yoongi tells her that she should really eat her vegetables.

“Daddy says I don’t have to if I don’t want to,” Sunhee declares, crossing her arms.

Yoongi throws Hoseok a look of pure and utter terror. “You told her what ?”

Their dynamic doesn’t exactly change. At least, not by a lot, anyway, because Yoongi, Hoseok’s realised, fits right into their little picture. It’s as if this isn’t the first time the three of them had all sat down to eat together. Not the first time Yoongi’s hearing about Hoseok’s terrible tactics, and the same goes for Hoseok, who raises his hands in defeat, his grimace the only answer that Yoongi needs to hear to confirm his own suspicions.

But instead of chastising him, though, Yoongi just leans back into his chair, and sighs. “You’re hopeless, Jung Hoseok,”

“Hopeless,” Sunhee repeats, pushing her plate away from her.

Hoseok can’t even remember when the two of them had started to team up against him, but here they are, and Hoseok—

Well, Hoseok doesn’t find that strange. Or, at least, not very, anyway. There’s just a normalcy that surrounds them. A strange feeling in Hoseok’s chest that tells him that this—this is something nice. Something good.

Hoseok hadn’t had anything good since Sunhee. Hasn’t really searched for it, too, but now that he’s here—

Now that Yoongi’s here, poking at his daughter’s cheek and telling her that there’s no way she’s getting away with not eating her vegetables the next time, Hoseok can only feel, well. Grateful.

Relieved.

Really, really relieved.

“Dinner was great,” Yoongi tells him, a little bit later as they’re both cleaning up.

Sunhee is helping them, placing one of the used glasses on top of the kitchen counter. She actually has to tip-toe to reach it, and Hoseok smiles at that, because she’s adorable. Really, that’s the only thing he can give as an excuse when Yoongi corners him later about the vegetables.

“I can’t believe you sometimes,”

“Only sometimes, though,” Hoseok grins, pushing Yoongi out of the kitchen as Sunhee leads the way, a bowl of ice cream already in her hands.

“What did I say earlier—“ Yoongi allows himself to be pushed, Hoseok’s hand on the small of his back. Warm, guiding.

“Hopeless,” Sunhee exclaims all too happily.

Hoseok groans.

This time, when Yoongi shoots him a look over his shoulder, it’s to smirk at him. Triumphant.

Hopeless, Hoseok thinks, looking down at his daughter, sat on the floor with her second bowl of ice cream.

Hopeless, Hoseok thinks, fingers brushing against Yoongi’s as they sit on the couch to watch one of Sunhee’s favourite movies for the tenth time.

Hopeless, Hoseok now realises, catching Yoongi’s gaze. Holding his gaze. Mirroring the same small, soft smile on Yoongi’s face when Yoongi leans back into the couch, but not before he reaches all the way across the distance between them to hold onto Hoseok’s hand.

Really hold Hoseok’s hand, their fingers easily sliding through the spaces, palms touching for a brief holy palmers kiss, and then—

And then Yoongi squeezes on their joined hands, eyebrow quirking up to ask if this is okay, the corners of his lips tugging up into a smile much, much brighter than before when all Hoseok can do is duck his head and laugh, his voice absolutely breathless when he says, “Of course.”

This time, when Hoseok thinks hopeless , he knows. He definitely knows.

 

 

As soon as Sunhee’s all tucked into bed, Hoseok walks back down to where Yoongi is sat in the living room. He’s nursing his—actually, Hoseok has no idea how many glasses of wine he’s already had, but Yoongi doesn’t seem to have a problem with it, which only brings Hoseok to the conclusion that practically everyone else has got a better tolerance to alcohol than him.

Still, he accepts the drink that Yoongi offers, right before he settles into the opposite end of the couch. Like this, with the cold settling outside, and the warmth wrapping comfortingly around them, it’s cozy.

“Is she asleep?” Yoongi asks, setting his glass down on the coffee table in front of them.

“Yeah, finally,” is all Hoseok can say, a little bit tuckered out from the day. He leans his head against the cushions, eyes falling heavily. Closing.

Yoongi seems to notice just how tired he is, because he clears his throat, and says, “If I’m overstaying, then,”

But Hoseok quickly bounces up from that, eyes snapping open and head shaking. He feels his heart constrict inside of him, the look on his face one of panic for a split second, before he fixes it into something much better. A smile this time, that he offers Yoongi. “No, you should stay,”

That sounds more intimate than anything Hoseok’s ever said, and it must be because of the wine, or because of how well dinner had gone, how the evening had been next to perfect, but he feels—well, he doesn’t feel like he’s trying to walk on thin ice anymore. Not with what he says, and definitely not with what he does. So he lets the words come out freely, the smile that plays across his one of ease and familiarity.

“Do you mind if I ask about Sunhee’s—“ A pause, like Yoongi had spoken too fast, too loud, and all of a sudden. But there’s no going back, not now, anyway. “Her mother,”

Hoseok doesn’t even skip a beat when he says, “Oh, her? She’s dead,”

He sees Yoongi’s face fall, mouth hanging open almost comically, his hand reaching out for Hoseok.

Well, that’s a development, Hoseok thinks, and as soon as Yoongi takes hold of his hand, Hoseok throws his head back and laughs.

“No, hyung, I’m sorry—I was joking, really, she’s not dead,” Hoseok’s still laughing, and somehow, through the mess of his cackling and Yoongi’s sputtering of disbelief, they’ve drawn even closer together, until they’re both pressed closed to each other, Hoseok leaning against Yoongi, who he’s pretty sure might just push him right off this couch for that comment. “Sorry, sorry, but yeah. Who knows where she is, though,”

Yoongi squeezes on Hoseok’s hand, and Hoseok thinks of how nice it is to hold someone’s hand. How—how well Yoongi’s fingers slot right next to his. Hoseok can’t help but smile as he looks at their joined hands, because if you asked him months ago if he’d ever see himself sat on the couch with Yoongi, of all people, he would laugh, and laugh, and laugh so much, he’ll soon forget the initial question.

Now, though, Hoseok can still laugh, but it’s mostly out of relief. Out of happiness. Because things have a strange way of happening, but here they are, and Hoseok can’t complain, not when he’s taken leap after leap all his life.

Some leaps of faith landed him straight into trouble.

Others into a state of mediocrity.

This time, though—

This leap of faith led him straight to Yoongi.

When all Yoongi can say is a quiet I shouldn’t have asked , the older man leaning against him, Hoseok decides to continue, if only to set things clearer. If only to give an actual answer, because it’s been a while since anyone’s asked.

He plays with Yoongi’s fingers the entire time he’s talking, too, and when he does glance up to look at Yoongi’s face, he notices that he’s blushing, if only slightly. Pink cheeks, and a glitter in his eyes that Hoseok finds himself drawn to, because this close—this close, Hoseok can’t help but wonder how exactly it’s possible for Yoongi to be so beautiful.

Not for the first time, Hoseok reminds himself to breathe.

“She just left, I guess,” Hoseok continues to say, holding Yoongi’s gaze. “Took everything that she owned. Left her engagement ring on the kitchen counter and—and Sunny in the nursery,”

And he can feel it, the I’m sorry that almost comes tripping out of Yoongi’s mouth, because that’s how people react, without fail, whenever Hoseok tells them the story.

But instead of an apology, Yoongi tugs on their joined hands and mutters, “What a bitch,”

Hoseok blinks.

Yoongi isn’t even apologetic about that.

When Yoongi cracks first and laughs, he draws Hoseok closer to him, and for a second, they’re so close the only thing Hoseok can think about is how nice it would be to kiss him, to really kiss him, but instead of that, Hoseok just laughs with him and shakes his head, drawing away, but not before he feels Yoongi snake an arm around his shoulder, and—

And just like that, Yoongi pulls him right to his side, the both of them fitting like jagged puzzle pieces in the strangest, most complicated puzzle game ever.

But Hoseok likes how they fit together, how it had only taken one question of okay that neither of them asked—except for the looks in their eyes. Except for the of course that Hoseok had sighed out, so breathless and relieved.

Hoseok likes this much, much better, the feel of Yoongi’s arm around his, warm and wonderful.

“She really was—is, I guess, but you know, she didn’t take Sunny,” Yoongi’s hold around him tightens. “I don’t know what I would’ve done if she had,”

“Yeah, I get that,” Yoongi murmurs, so close yet again that Hoseok can feel his breath on his cheek.

Perhaps it’s a bit late to realise, but Hoseok’s only coming to the fact that he’d actually just unloaded all of that on Yoongi, and a brief overview would’ve been fine. She’s gone, not in the picture, who knows, who cares. The usual answer for some people, but Yoongi—

Yoongi isn’t just some person, Hoseok knows that for a fact.

“Sorry, that must’ve been too much,” especially since he’d mentioned an engagement ring, and god , Hoseok had been twenty-two, then, and had hardly known what to do. Had thought it the best possible way to—to stay. To become a better family.

He’s learned the hard way that you don’t need a contract to become a family. Not really.

“No, thank you for telling me that,” and it’s soft. Quiet, even. How intimate two people can be, in the corner of a room, hands tangled together, and their heads drawn close, so, so close, it’s almost impossible to tell just who’s who, from a distance away. How intimate two people can be by talking. Just talking. “Y’know, on the plus side—so many teachers keep wondering if you’re Sunhee’s older brother,”

Hoseok scrunches his nose. Understands Yoongi’s intention, what he means with the sentence, he really does, but a part of him is still pained by that, because he knows. He understands the looks that are thrown to him. To them, whenever Sunhee calls him dad in public, whenever they’re overheard. And what do they see, really? They see a young man with a five year old. No mother in sight. They see him as someone who’d been left. Abandoned to fend off for himself and his daughter.

The smile on Hoseok’s face is more a grimace than anything, and Yoongi picks up on it almost immediately.

“I’ve heard that, yeah. Is that—is that strange?” His voice cracks, and try as Hoseok might to just shrug it off as a compliment to how young he is, he can’t. “Is it obvious I don’t know what I’m doing?”

Yoongi turns to face him immediately, and before Hoseok can even blink, Yoongi’s already cupping the side of his face with his hand, his fingers pressing gently into Hoseok’s cheek, the look on his face pained. Hurt that Hoseok had actually come to that conclusion.

“No—no, Hoseok, fuck, no, that’s not it,” and Yoongi’s voice breaks. How raw he suddenly sounds.

Hoseok can’t help but think that that’s his fault, that once again he’s thrown Yoongi into a panic. Right down into a spiral. He tries to shake it off, to smile the worry away, but Yoongi seems more determined this time to make him listen, because he raises his other hand to frame Hoseok’s face, and like this, he holds him still. Holds him steady.

“You’re absolutely wonderful,” Yoongi’s voice is soft, the smile on his face turning gentle. “I think you’re more than enough,”

The thank you that tries so hard to claw up and out of Hoseok’s throat is swallowed down when he leans in to kiss Yoongi, and it’s surprising, at first, for the both of them, because Hoseok hadn’t thought about it, but now that he’s here—now that he’s really kissing Yoongi, he lets himself breathe.

Yoongi kisses him back, their lips pressing together for the first time in a kiss that could only be soft, had it not been for Hoseok immediately pulling away right before Yoongi can even properly kiss him back, and god, how long has it been since Hoseok’s kissed somebody?

Too fucking long, he thinks, but then he also doesn’t remember ever kissing anyone—even if that had barely been a kiss, but more of a brushing of their lips—and feeling this good, so perhaps it’s Yoongi. Just Yoongi, because he, too, is more than enough.

Yoongi’s mouth curves into a beautiful smile, eyes glinting something wonderful and tender. Something that’s just for Hoseok.

“Sorry—“ Hoseok tries to say, but this time, when he tries to laugh it off, when he tries to tell him that perhaps he should’ve said thank you, first, Yoongi doesn’t let him, because Yoongi leans in and kisses him again, a hand still cupping Hoseok’s face in a way that’s so, so tender, it almost hurts.

But Hoseok kisses him back, and this time, more properly.

It’s been so long, but Hoseok—

Hoseok thinks that he can kiss Yoongi, again and again, if he’ll let him. If he’ll have him, and Yoongi—

Yoongi doesn’t seem to mind, because halfway through the kiss, he smiles, and pulls away, only to bump their foreheads together, only to lean completely into Hoseok, whose got an arm loped around Yoongi’s waist, whose practically got Yoongi on his lap, and on top of him, and this—

This is nice.

More than nice, Hoseok thinks.

More than enough.

“Thank you,” Yoongi sounds absolutely breathless when he finally speaks, breath warm and tickling against Hoseok’s cheek, “Dinner was wonderful.”

Hoseok tilts his head up to graze his lips against the side of Yoongi’s mouth, the both of them still smiling, still trying to come down from that kiss. From a high brought about by how intimate things had been.

“It really was."

 

 

He’s wracked his brains the whole weekend just for this single moment. Had enlisted the help of his friends, even, on how he should proceed.

Hell, Hoseok’s even called up his sister the other night, groaning about how he could possibly do it, and he’d talked her ear off for practically an hour, just dreading everything, only for her to laugh and say, “Hoseokie, she’s five. She won’t bite,”

Which is a big fat lie and they both know it, because Sunhee is more than capable of biting people if the opportunity presents itself.

And that’s probably why, for this special occasion, Hoseok’s sat her down across from him on the dinner table. She seems to at least understand that something serious is about to happen, because all Hoseok had told her was that they needed to have a talk. The talk.

Not the best way to say it, because there’s too many variations of the talk, but then again, she’s still too young to get any of that, so perhaps calling this the talk works as good as any other name.

“Daddy, I’m bored,” Sunhee starts swinging her legs, leaning across the table to look at Hoseok.

Hoseok clears his throat.

Jiwoo had told him that the best way to go about this was to just say it straight out.

Jimin had told him that maybe illustrations would work better, which is crazy, it really is, because Hoseok would rather die than actually make cardboard cutouts for this.

“Sunny, baby,” when they said parenting was the hardest thing you’d ever have to do, then they weren’t lying, because right now, Hoseok feels like he’s talking to a client who’s about to invest a few million dollars into their company. Hoseok swallows. “What would you think if—if daddy started dating?”

Sunhee blinks at him, head tilting to one side, her curls cascading down one shoulder. She furrows her brows at him. “What’s dating ?” there’s too much emphasis on that single word from a five year old. From his five year old, who Hoseok’s now realised could be the scariest person on the entire planet.

But Hoseok’s already practiced this. Had opened up to his mother, even, about—about some certain developments. And after a week of basically whining about it to Yoongi, who’d just laughed at him and said, if you’re not up for it, then really, it’s okay. You don’t have to . Which had only made Hoseok feel bad, because now it feels like he doesn’t want to, and that’s wrong, it really is, because Hoseok does want to. He just—doesn’t know how to.

Realising that this is ridiculous, the both of them sat apart—probably one of Hoseok’s stupidest ideas, ever—Hoseok gets up from his seat and walks right over to where Sunhee is, easily scooping her up into his arms, the little girl not complaining at all as she laughs, surprised.

Hoseok holds her for a long moment, the both of them still. Steady.

“Dating is when you like someone,”

“Like Sunny?”

Hoseok actually laughs at that, hand coming up to rest on the back of her head as he bumps their foreheads together gently, careful not to hurt her.

She’s absolutely precious. Fits perfectly in the crook of his arms. Laughs right into his heart. Sunhee keeps Hoseok steady. She always has and she always will.

“Yes—I mean, no,” she pouts at him. “I like Sunny, but—you know, different. When you like someone who isn’t related to you,”

“Like Jungkookie and uncle Jimin?” Hoseok can’t help but smile at that. It’s been months and either Sunhee’s doing it on purpose or accidentally, but she hasn’t called Jungkook uncle once. But he decides to push that to the back of his head, something for later, and instead nods, because that had actually been a pretty good observation.

Hoseok tightens his hold around her as he plops down onto the couch. Sunhee doesn’t try to wiggle out at all, just rises a little higher so she can pat at Hoseok’s cheek this time, probably sensing just how difficult this is for him. How comically difficult, he’d like to add.

“Yes, exactly like that, baby,” Hoseok lets her pinch his cheek.

She’s having too much fun about this, but by her little nod, she seems to be getting it. “What about Yoongi oppa?”

Hoseok sometimes forgets how perceptive children can be. For a moment, there’s quiet between them, Sunhee tugging on his hair, now, and smiling playfully when Hoseok just lets her get away with it.

“I like oppa,” Sunhee trills, her smile bright. The kind of smile that puts even the sun to shame. “Daddy, do you like him, too?”

Is it like that ? Sunhee seems to be asking, her eyes wide, and her smile the same kind of dazzling that Hoseok sees whenever he looks up at the stars.

Hoseok brings Sunhee closer to him, arms coming around her waist tighter as he hugs her, as he holds onto her. He breathes her in, his heart beating to the same little tune that she hums under her breath.

When Hoseok finally answers her, it’s with a smile that can’t possibly compare to how brilliant hers is. “Yeah, I do, too.”

 

 

The first thing out of Sunhee’s mouth when Hoseok drops her off at school the next morning is, “Teacher Min, daddy says he likes you as much as Sunny does,”

Yoongi doesn’t even miss a beat when he says, “And how much does Sunny like me?”

Hoseok watches as she stretches her arms as wide as she can.

“Like this,” Sunhee says, and then, when Yoongi laughs at her, she adds, “As wide as the ocean,”

And that’s a familiar little line because that’s what Hoseok tells her.

I love you.

How much, daddy?

As wide as the ocean .

“As wide as the ocean, huh?”

Hearing the same words out of Yoongi’s mouth, though, makes him feel just the slightest bit nervous.

All Hoseok can offer Yoongi is a pained little smile that Yoongi rolls his eyes at.

The other students are rushing in to all the other classrooms, some parents running around to ferry their kids out of the car.

But Yoongi spends his last few minutes out with them, the smuggest of smiles on his face.

Although that smug little look falls completely when Sunhee rounds on him again, “Do you like daddy, too?”

Hoseok almost chokes on his coffee.

Yoongi tightens his hold around his cup, and for a second, Hoseok is afraid he might break it. That it might spill on his jeans.

But he holds it together, ruffling Sunhee’s hair when he says, “Maybe,”

Sunhee laughs at that, this time tugging on Yoongi’s hand. She’s excited to start the day. Excited to leave her father out in the cold.

Yoongi tries to wave goodbye to Hoseok—who’s still reeling from the maybe , honestly—but Sunhee beats him to it. She throws Hoseok a very belated air-kiss that Hoseok instantly pretends to catch in his hand, his laughter trailing after them.

Before Hoseok turns away, he sees Yoongi stick his head out of the classroom one last time. Sees Yoongi quirk an eyebrow up, and then—and then Yoongi smiles, something soft and beautiful, and playful, and says, “It wasn’t really a maybe.”

 

 

When Hoseok says that he really, honest to god hadn’t put his daughter up to it, then nobody will probably believe him, except, perhaps Yoongi, who stares up at him, waiting.

Most of the other students have already been picked up, leaving only Hoseok and Sunhee, who’d decided to linger for just a few more short moments.

Hoseok could’ve never expected that in the span of ten seconds, Sunhee would’ve done what she had. Hoseok could’ve never expected his own daughter to rip her hand out of his and bound all the way over to Yoongi to tug on his sleeve and say, voice dripping with honey,

“Daddy says he wants to spend more time with you,”

Now would be a good moment for the walls to close in on him or the floors to swallow him up, because aside from what had happened that one evening, a week ago, they hadn’t—they really haven’t done anything.

Except, of course, for that one ice cream trip last Wednesday, when Hoseok had held Yoongi’s hand halfway through, Sunhee trudging along ahead of them, not at all bothered by the cold in the slightest.

Hoseok’s hand had felt warm, then.

Just as his face does, now. Warm. So warm.

Yoongi snickers.

“One more time, sunshine,” Yoongi asks, peering down low to look at Sunhee, deliberately riling Hoseok up, now. “What did you say?”

“Daddy said he wanna spend more time,” Sunhee huffs, looking much too pleased with herself.

Hoseok tries to keep his smile from cracking, but as it is, even that is a challenge when he’s met with Yoongi’s own smile, far too amused and—and endeared, at this point.

“What about Sunhee?” Yoongi asks, tugging playfully on her hair.

Sunhee shakes her head. “Nuh-uh, I’ll be with auntie,”

“Oh,”

Oh , Hoseok thinks, wishing that they’d done this over text. Or over call. Because it’s true he’d let it slip the other night that since his sister was taking Sunhee for the Saturday, then it would be nice to spend more time with his friends.

Friend.

Or, sort of a friend.

Whatever he is, it’s Yoongi.

Sunhee had caught on to the idea almost instantly, and now here they are, Hoseok trying his hardest to convince Yoongi that this was clearly not his idea. Because his own daughter is asking Yoongi out herself for her father, and Hoseok—

God, if his sister hears about this (and she will, because Sunhee never stops talking), then she’ll laugh and tell their mom, and that’ll be it. Hoseok’s done for.

Which is probably not all that bad, not if it means he gets Yoongi for a night, just the two of them. A night spent with someone else who isn’t his friend or his family, or his own daughter. A night that Hoseok hasn’t had in—in so long, he can’t even remember when the last time was.

“So no Sunhee, just the two of us,” Yoongi pouts at her, trying to look dejected, but he looks anything but when he straightens up, hand on his waist, and that same smug little smirk on his face as he finally, finally meets Hoseok’s eyes. “You’ve really outdone yourself now, Hoseok,”

But Hoseok just laughs, sheepish, fingers curling over Sunhee’s shoulders gently to pry her away from Yoongi, but it doesn’t help, because she keeps talking, rattling on about what Jungkook had said the other day, and slipping up—or, in her case, intentionally—and saying,

“A date!” Sunhee beams, looking up at the two of them. “Jungkookie called it a date!”

“I mean—“ Hoseok tries, pulling Sunhee closer towards him, afraid that she might say something else that might make Hoseok want to throw himself out the window. “It could be anything you want it to be, really—Not a date. It’s—whatever, hyung, like—“

Yoongi stops him right there. “It’s a date, then.”

Hoseok lets out a sigh so relieved, Yoongi chuckles at him, the tops of his cheeks tinging the slightest  bit pink.

Cute, is what Hoseok wants to say, but he doesn’t, instead, he just settles to watching as Yoongi laughs behind his hand, eyes crinkling in the corners. Listens as Yoongi’s low, rumbling laughter mixes with Sunhee’s high, tinkling giggle, and he smiles, because this is good.

This is wonderful.

 

 

Dinner is at a lavish Italian place that serves as an in-between of a bistro and a pub.

Yoongi doesn’t seem to mind the choice, but he does comment, halfway through dinner, about how fucking expensive everything looks here.

“What are you up to?” Yoongi asks him, no inflection at all in his tone.

Hoseok just smiles at him, his heart squeezing just the slightest bit at the thought that all he really wanted was to get Yoongi somewhere nice. Somewhere quiet, where they could enjoy both food and drinks.

This was one of the places his secretary had suggested—had reminded him that he’d been here with a client, once, and how he’d told her he’d want to come back again, so she should note it. And note it she has, because Hoseok’s here, now, but this time, for a wholly different purpose.

“Just let me do this for you,” Hoseok tells him, once the plates have cleared and they’re left with half a bottle of champagne that Yoongi had made a face at, at first, but is now quite enjoying it.

Hoseok thinks he looks great like this, too, under the dim and warm lights, Yoongi’s hair swept to the side, and eyes twinkling with that same look of wonder. Of interest.

It’s hard to show restraint when Yoongi’s just staring at him from across the table, lips curling up into a smile that isn’t quite there yet, but a smile nonetheless.

So, without even thinking about it—without second guessing himself anymore, Hoseok leans across the table to kiss him. It’s slow and much too tender, a kiss that almost knocks the breath right out of his lungs.

When he pulls away, it’s to find Yoongi with an exasperated little look on his face. He doesn’t seem to mind, though, being out here in public, being seen. Being too obvious about it.

Hoseok doesn’t mind, either, especially when Yoongi’s holding onto his hand, their fingers twined loosely, the smile on Yoongi’s face much more lax, now, like he’s finally, finally taken that one big deep breath, and now he’s okay. Now he’s all settled down.

“I don’t know how you’ll ever top this place,”

“I have other ideas,” Hoseok hums, squeezing on Yoongi’s hand, if only for reassurance, that there will be more—and perhaps not as lavish a place as this, but if Yoongi wants, then they can go—they can go practically anywhere, really. All of Sunhee’s favourite restaurants—because that would be nice, right, with Sunhee with them, and god , Hoseok might just be too far gone for Yoongi the same way his daughter is, but he finds that it’s—

It’s alright, because Yoongi’s holding onto his hand, and looking at him with eyes that are continuously searching for something—perhaps a hint of doubt in Hoseok’s own. But that’s not something he’ll find, because for the first time in a long, long time, Hoseok feels certain about this. He feels sure.

Hoseok feels good.

“I have other ideas, too,” Yoongi hums, eyes glinting, mischievous and playful. “If you’re up for them,”

There’s so many ways this can go, so many things that can happen between them. Now, tomorrow—and all the days that follow after that. So many possibilities, and all it had taken Hoseok to get to this starting point was that single leap of faith that Sunhee had inspired.

“Anytime, hyung,”

That makes Yoongi laugh, a quiet laugh that rumbles low in his throat and that Hoseok feels through their joined hands. It’s another marvel altogether, watching as Yoongi’s shoulders shake with laughter. Watching as his eyes close, for the briefest of seconds. As his lips stretch for a smile that’s too big, too bright for this dim restaurant. For this night.

Yoongi reminds Hoseok of the calm before every storm, because that’s when the ocean is the most beautiful.

“Tell me this, though,” this time, Yoongi clinks his glass against Hoseok’s—still barely touched, Hoseok choosing not to drink too much. He’s driving, after all, but—but also because Yoongi’s having too much fun just drinking by himself to notice that Hoseok really, really isn’t the best when it comes to alcohol. Quite possibly the worse, if he was being honest. “You never really said why you moved back to Korea,”

“That’s a long story,” Hoseok says, brows furrowing, not sure if Yoongi will still want to hear it. Actually, he’d figured that Yoongi wouldn’t—not after what he’d said about Sunhee’s mother. About everything that had happened then.

But instead of backing away, Yoongi urges him on with a thumb that rubs small, soothing circles on the underside of Hoseok’s wrist.

It’s the only thing that spurs him on to tell him about everything that’s happened—How he’d moved away for university, but how even that had fallen through, for a year, after Sunhee had been born. How his own sister had to save his own ass just so he could finish up school but at the same time try to take care of his own daughter.

How his estranged father had offered him a job at a company that he’s a partner at, how it had been difficult at first for him to accept, because he’d left their family first, his father, but when you’re offered a hand to help you and your daughter out from a hole of your own digging, you take it, and only hope for the best.

That had been one of Hoseok’s leap of faiths.

And it had led them here, after a few years, that is. An offering for a position in Seoul, where his sister is. Where his old friends are. Where is mother is just one phone call away.

“Sunhee had been five, I—I really thought it was a good idea, she wouldn’t be missing much from there, anyway,” but that hadn’t been the case, because the first few nights, all Sunhee had cried about was her friends. Her old babysitter. Their old apartment. How she’d wanted to go to the park. How she cried and cried because she was afraid that nobody would talk to her in school, that nobody would understand her. “She really isn’t missing much, now,” Hoseok continues, this time taking a short, careful sip of his wine.

The whole time, Yoongi listens to him intently, not at all interrupting. He shows his quiet reassurance by holding onto his Hoseok’s hand. By tugging on his fingers, and by smiling at him, urging him on to finish the story, because Hoseok’s never really spoken about this out loud; the fear and the doubt that claws at him.

It helps plenty that he’s holding onto Yoongi’s hand.

Yoongi, who had offered his hand to Hoseok’s daughter first, who had helped her settle in. Who had eased her worries by being patient with her, day in and day out.

Perhaps the one thing that really pulled Hoseok towards Yoongi is his ease with Sunhee. How she’d warmed up to him, and how Yoongi is so obviously fond of her, too. Perhaps that’s the first reason why Hoseok’s so warm, now, with Yoongi holding onto his hand.

“We moved because I didn’t think it was too late for us, yeah?” Hoseok finds that he can’t quite look at Yoongi anymore, not when it hits him again—everything that he’s doubted about himself, about the decisions that he’s made. What if this isn’t right. What if he shouldn’t have taken her away from where she’d grown up in, from where she’d first learned how to walk, how to speak. What if she starts looking for her mother when she’s older, and Hoseok—Hoseok won’t know. Won’t be able to do anything about it, because they’re several oceans apart.

What if.

“Or do you think this was a bad idea?” his voice is quiet. So small, Yoongi almost doesn’t hear it, had he not been leaning towards him.

Hoseok really doesn’t have to wonder about that, at least, not for long, because his family is here. His friends are here. Sunhee’s happy, too. And moving back—

And moving back, Hoseok had met Yoongi, however strange the circumstances had been at first.

“Maybe you shouldn’t answer that,” Hoseok finally laughs, shoulders slacking.

Yoongi shakes his head, and Hoseok feels him squeeze on his hand. Feels Yoongi’s fingers fit right in-between his. Feels his palm pressed against Hoseok’s, that same holy palmer’s kiss that sets Hoseok’s entire insides on fire, that spreads something warm and wonderful, and fuzzy across his chest.

“I was about to say it was a good idea as any,” this time, when Yoongi smiles, it lights up his eyes. “Maybe even your best idea.”

And somehow, someway, after half a bottle of champagne that Yoongi had managed to consume by himself—or almost, at least—they find themselves stumbling out of the bar, hands still linked, and coats pulled tight against them.

Yoongi’s hand keeps Hoseok warm, and he holds onto it, even when Yoongi tugs him along the street, smile as bright, perhaps even brighter, really, than the moon that hangs low on the sky. Eyes glittering like the stars that twinkle.

Yoongi is everything beautiful about the night sky, Hoseok realises.

Hoseok lifts a hand up to cup at Yoongi’s cheek, thumb grazing at the jut of his collarbone.

Yoongi leans into his touch, cheeks flushed from the alcohol.

“You’re a cheat, yeah?” Yoongi says, nearly bumping into a post as he sways, as Hoseok tries to keep him steady, the both of them, with one arm loped around Yoongi’s waist, and the other against his cheek, gentle. Warm.

Hoseok bumps their foreheads together, laugh coming out breathless, “I said I didn’t like alcohol, I didn’t tell you to drink for two people,”

But judging by how much Yoongi was drinking, Hoseok can easily say that he’d been drinking for more than two people, which makes one of them, at least.

“I’ll get you back, Hoseok,”

“Yeah, sure, you’re up to try.”

And there’s laughter. Beautiful, unrestrained laughter, Yoongi holding onto Hoseok, and it’s so, so wonderful, Hoseok’s heart aches. So wonderful that he cuts Yoongi off mid-laugh just to kiss him, and Yoongi is caught off guard, laugh dying down in his throat as he easily kisses Hoseok back, pressing against him, so close Hoseok can feel him everywhere, all of a sudden, Yoongi’s arms around his shoulder, and then on his waist, his lips a little bit cold from the night air.

He tastes a lot like the two hundred dollar champagne he’d basically consumed all by himself, but under that, Hoseok can also taste strawberries.

Through the haze of it all, under the eleven p.m sky, with the moon and all of her stars twinkling, shining, burning, as if for this one single moment, Hoseok feels Yoongi pull away. Hears him laugh that very next second, right into the crook of his neck, and Hoseok laughs with him, too, because there’s just no use, not when Yoongi laughs to the soft, sweet sound of the ocean, right before a storm, when the shore is at ease, and the waves are calm.

With Yoongi’s lips pressed against the corner of Hoseok’s mouth, his arms wrapped around Hoseok in a hug as he leans against him, and Hoseok’s own coming around Yoongi, to hold onto him—to hold him close, hold him fast, hold him steady—Hoseok thinks that perhaps he can get used to this.

That is, until Yoongi looks up at him, eyes as clear as the sea is blue, and smiles.

There is not a shred of doubt.

Hoseok definitely knows he can get used to this.