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the long and winding road

Chapter Text

You need a break, Yoongi had said.

You need some time out of the public eye, Yoongi had said.

Let me arrange a three month stay in a small town completely free from the troubles of big city life or people who give too much of a shit about you, Yoongi had said, which had finally been the thing that had made Hoseok break down and finally agree to this “vacation.”

It wasn’t a vacation, as much as it was a--mostly--self imposed exile, but that was what happened when you were as famous as Hoseok was, and just had the entire world explode into your face. You needed a break, to give the public some time to forgive you, and then slink back into their hearts.

Hoseok knew that his fans--his real fans, not the possessive weirdos that lurked the darkest corners of the internet and occasionally on the street outside the company building--weren’t mad about this. In fact, he had seen a lot of them defending him. But the loudest voices were always the most negative, and so he knew that some people were disgusted with him for even trying to have a personal life at all, and so.

Now here he was, in his car, driving to the destination that Yoongi had programmed into his GPS just that morning.

This was going to be good for him, he reminded himself. He had been getting burned out anyway, and had gotten sloppy, which was why he and Hyosung had gotten caught to begin with. But Hoseok refused to date someone that he didn’t care about like that--even if netizens were pressuring him, saying that it would look better if he was in love instead of just horny--and so he had to take a break.

But still. Hoseok didn’t become one of the most popular male soloists in Korea by sitting on his ass. He worked his ass off for that, after having despaired that it would never happen, that his dreams were impossible and that they would never work out back in the early days. Only they had worked out, because Hoseok had never stopped working, not even for a second.

So the fact that he was going to have to unplug...he wasn’t sure that he could do it. Wasn’t sure if he even wanted to do it, to tell you the truth.

Despite all this, Hoseok was going to at least try, damn it. Because he did deserve this. And he did really really need to get a break from the constant online harassment, and the articles, and the speculation about how all of this was going to ruin his career forever.

If he didn’t, he was going to start to believe all the people who said that.

I am going to have a good, relaxing time for three months. I will be completely successful limiting my online presence, and access to the mean comments that I read at two in the morning just to stress myself out more. This will be good for me, Hoseok thought, commanding himself to be positive. He wanted this to work that badly. He needed it to, so when he came back, he would be better than ever.

He was only fifteen minutes away from his destination, and was ready for his time off to officially begin.

So this was, of course, when Hoseok heard the loud pop of his tire bursting, and the screeching of metal against gravel.

 

Cell service was, of course, horrible in the middle of nowhere.

That had been part of its appeal, to Yoongi, when he had set this all up. Now? Now it was the worst kind of inconvenience. Hoseok had no option but to sit and wait for someone to drive by unless he wanted to walk for roughly three hours.

“Fuck,” Hoseok said out loud, unable to help the way the curse slipped out of his mouth. Fuck.

He sat in his car with the front door open and his blinkers turned on, and waited for somebody to come by as he played Candy Crush on his phone, hoping that the battery didn’t die on him even while he did it.

He expected to wait forever--because that would be just his luck, considering how the rest of this trip had already panned out--but only had to wait for an hour before he heard the rumblings of a truck coming down the road.

Hoseok immediately stood up at that, and waved aggressively, hoping that whoever this was would stop.

They did, slowing their truck down to stop right in front of Hoseok.

The truck was blue and obviously old, but the flatbed was empty and there was only one person inside the cab. A guy who, when Hoseok looked closer, had to be one of the most handsome guys he’d ever seen, even if he was kind of rough around the edges, without the skin treatments that most of the people Hoseok knew got regularly.

“Hey,” the guy said once he rolled down the window, his voice deeper than Hoseok expected. It was startling, that sound, but it also made the guy even more attractive. Hoseok wished that he could stop noticing that. He needed to focus. It had just been a while since he’d seen a guy so striking, especially away from work. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Hoseok told him, wishing he hadn’t noticed how attractive this random stranger was. This was like something out of the beginning of a horror movie. Or a porno, and as it was Hoseok couldn’t decide what was more appealing right now. “But my car blew a tire and I was hoping to get some help to get it fixed.”

“Oh, that’s not a problem,” the guy said. He smiled then, which completely transformed his face, taking him from someone achingly attractive to something softer. Hoseok liked it instantly, that smile. “Get in, and I’ll take you to town. I’m headed that way anyway, to see some friends, and we can sort everything out for you. It shouldn’t be too hard to get fixed up.”

“Thank you,” Hoseok said. He didn’t even hesitate when he got into the cab of the truck. He had no choice but to take a ride from this guy. The only alternative was waiting for even longer, and that was not something that he was very interested in. “You probably just saved my life, I could kiss you right now.” And then he cringed internally, because what a thing to say to a total stranger.

“You don’t have to do that,” the guy assured him, after he finished laughing. It transformed his whole face, that laugh, turned it into something softer, warmer. “Knowing your name would be nice, though.”

Hoseok only hesitated for a second, before answering. “Hoseok. Jung Hoseok.”

The guy didn’t even blink, thankfully. “I’m Taehyung. Kim Taehyung.”

“Well, Kim Taehyung, you seriously saved my ass. I’ve never been here before, so I have no idea where to go.”

“Anyone would have picked you up,” Taehyung shrugged, like it was simple.

Hoseok, who knew just how awful people could be, especially to strangers, decided not to press on the point. Instead they talked easily the entire way to town. Taehyung immediately began calling Hoseok hyung once they’d discussed how old they were, along with their birthdays. It was surprisingly pleasant, though the reason for their meeting was definitely less so.

Hoseok hadn’t had such a pleasant conversation with a total stranger in a long time.

“You said you were staying in town?” Taehyung asked, once they’d hit the city limit.

“I have reservations at the Kim Bed and Breakfast for about three months,” Hoseok admitted, and Taehyung whistled in appreciation.

“Three months?”

“I wanted a lowkey vacation, and my...friend said this was a nice place to stay for a while.” Hoseok wasn’t lying when he said friend, because he and Yoongi were friends, it was true, but the word manager had almost slipped out.

And if there was something Hoseok didn’t want to do, it was have people realize who he was. Even something small, like a fan tweeting that Hoseok was at the same cafe as them back in Seoul, could lead to some weird speculation and pictures being taken without his knowledge. He didn’t want that to happen here, when he was trying so hard to get away from everything.

“Well, it’s definitely a nice place to stay. I know the owners, all three of them, and they’re all super nice guys. I grew up with all of them actually.”

“You did?”

“Yep,” Taehyung said, popping the ‘p.’ “I was born here, and I was raised here, so I know pretty much everyone. Except for you, I guess. But now you’re riding in my car, so that counts, right? We know each other now.”

“Sure,” Hoseok shrugged. “We do know each other now.”

And we can know each other in other ways, if you’d like.

The thought popped into Hoseok’s head completely unbidden, and Hoseok shooed it away the way he’d shoo Mickey away from some curbside trash he was interested in. Clearly, his mind had decided to go the porno route.

Hoseok looked straight ahead at the passing countryside, deciding not to notice the way Taehyung’s skin stretched over the bones of his hand in a way that was weirdly attractive. Hoseok was a hand guy, and Taehyung had big hands. Sue him.

“Anyway, the Kim Bed and Breakfast is probably the best place that we have to stay in town.” Taehyung tilted his head. “The only place, really. So I’m sure you’ll like it!”

The only place to stay? What kind of desolate wasteland had Yoongi sent him to? Hoseok decided not to voice any of this, though it did worry him a little. Unplugged, he reminded himself. This was what he needed.

“It’ll be nice, at least. I’ve been really needing the excuse to get away.”

“Oh?” Taehyung glanced over at him. “Where are you from?”

It was almost refreshing, in a way, to be asked things like this. Hoseok hadn’t been asked this since he’d made it big, at least, not by people who hadn’t already frantically googled him in preparation of an interview.

“Originally? Gwangju. But I’ve been in Seoul for the past, huh. I guess the past ten years or so.”

“Really? What do you do?”

“I...work in entertainment.”

“Ohhh.” Taehyung paused, and Hoseok was afraid that he was going to catch on to something, but he just continued speaking, “I’ve heard that’s a hard industry to get into, and even harder to stay in. I can see why you need a break then. You’ll definitely get one, for sure. Don’t worry, almost nothing happens here. Nothing exciting, anyway. But the stars are beautiful when you go out and look at them at night, better than anything you’d get in the city, and the two restaurants in town have some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. Almost as good as my mom’s. It might not be all that interesting to you, considering that you’ve been in Seoul for so long but...” Taehyung trailed off, adjusting his grip on the steering wheel. “I love it here.”

There was a certain sincerity in Taehyung’s voice that made Hoseok know that he meant it. He hadn’t heard anyone speak so sincerely about something so simple in such a long time. It was almost a breath of fresh air.

Yoongi had been right. He really had needed this. He was only one conversation into this vacation, and he could already feel himself actually beginning to relax some, even though his car had a flat tire and he was riding in the truck of a total stranger, and he was definitely going to have to deal with that some time soon.

This vacation had only just begun, and the very beginning of it was terrible. But well, maybe...maybe once he got his tire fixed, not everything would be so bad.

 

They decided to go see about Hoseok’s reservations, confirming them first and then whether or not the owners of Kim’s Bed and Breakfast were going to be able to help Hoseok in any way with his flat tire situation.

Kim’s Bed and Breakfast was a cute, Western style house painted robin’s egg blue. It had a lush garden, full of flowers and bushes that Hoseok was pretty sure that he had never seen before. They lined the stone walkway up to the red front door, which Taehyung opened with no hesitation.

“Hello?” he called. “Hyungs? Jeongguk?”

“Who is it?” Hoseok heard a voice call back.

“It’s Taehyung, and an actual paying customer.”

Taehyung smiled at Hoseok, as though this was all very funny. And Hoseok supposed that it was, because he smiled back.

“A paying customer?” the voice said, coming closer. “Well. That’s a good thing.”

If Hoseok had thought Taehyung was handsome, he had nothing on the guy that walked up to the front desk. Hoseok had half a mind to ask if he had ever modelled before, that was how gorgeous he was. Was there something in the water around here? Did Yoongi send him here so that he could be surrounded by hot guys at every turn? Honestly, it was starting to feel like that.

“Wait, a paying customer?” the guy said. “When are your reservations, exactly?”

“They start today, and I’ll be staying for three months, exactly.”

“Oh, no,” the guy said. “I’m sorry, there’s been a mistake.”

“A...mistake...” Hoseok choked out, because of course something else had to go wrong. Of course.

“Namjoon!” the guy called. “Namjoon! Front desk, please.”

“I’m coming, Seokjin hyung,” Hoseok heard another, deeper voice shout. “What is it?”

“We have a customer here,” Seokjin said primly. “He says that his stay starts today.”

“Today?” the guy called Namjoon repeated, his voice growing quiet.

“What’s wrong with today?” Hoseok asked, unable to handle the suspense any longer. “I made these reservations two weeks ago, at least.”

“Namjoon, were you the one that confirmed this nice man’s reservations?” Seokjin asked, and his voice sounded pleasant, but there were definitely promises of darkness there. Seokjin smiled at Hoseok, a perfectly nice, perfectly normal, “the customer is always right” smile, but he didn’t seem particularly happy.

“No, it wasn’t me,” Namjoon said. “It must have been-”

Both Seokjin and Namjoon suddenly shouted, “JEONGGUK!”

There was a pause, and then Hoseok heard the sounds of heavy boots on wood, clunking ever closer.

“Yeah, hyungs?” The guy who must have been Jeongguk said. He glanced over at Taehyung and Hoseok for a moment, before turningi his full attention on Seokjin and Namjoon.

“Did you confirm the reservation for a-” here, Seokjin paused and looked at Hoseok.

“Jung Hoseok,” Hoseok provided.

“For a Jung Hoseok,” Seokjin continued, “even though you knew for a fact that we are in the middle of rennovations this week?”

“Please say you didn’t,” Namjoon whispered, already looking stressed.

For a moment, Jeongguk just looked confused, and then his eyes widened to twice their normal size.

“It’s not that I forgot, exactly-” he began.

“Jeongguk,” Namjoon groaned.

“Well,” Seokjin said. “Well. Well. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to tell you that we are in the middle of rennovations this week, and possibly next week. We had thought that they would be completed by now, but we have had issues with our contractor, and so they have not. We made a mistake, and we apologize for that.” He bowed towards Hoseok, at the waist, and Jeongguk and Namjoon followed suit.

Fuck, Hoseok thought again, but this time he managed not to say it. He was glad of that, because Seokjin, Namjoon and Jeongguk all looked truly sorry. He didn’t want to become a nightmare customer, or anything.

This vacation wasn’t much of a vacation, though. The drive down here had been nice, until his tire had popped. Taehyung finding him had been nice, until he found out that he couldn’t even stay at the place that he had reserved weeks ago, because there were issues with the actual room that he was meant to stay at.

Just his luck that the one time that he had taken a vacation--one of his first in years with absolutely no cameras or the pressures of social media burning down on him--it had lasted approximately three and a half hours before exploding into a shitfest.

“So I guess this means,” Hoseok began, but before he could finish, Taehyung cut him off.

“You can come stay with me, Hoseok hyung,” Taehyung offered, like it was nothing. Like offering Hoseok a place to stay in his home was no big deal at all. “I have an extra place to sleep, and wifi, and food. That’s everything that you’d have here, right?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Hoseok began. He already felt like he owed Taehyung a lot for picking him up and driving him over here, and now he was offering this. Plus, Hoseok didn’t know him that well--see: at all, actually--and he wouldn’t want to impose or anything, no matter how nice Taehyung seemed.

Plus, the whole horror movie thing came back to mind. Maybe the reason everyone was so hot here was because they were all vampires, wanting to suck Hoseok’s blood.

"Just until the repairs are done,” Taehyung added, once he realized that everyone was staring at him.

"I know what you're thinking," Namjoon began, still looking at Taehyung with wide eyed surprise, "but Taehyung isn't a serial killer, despite the offer."

"It's only for a week, right?" Taehyung shrugged. "That's not too long. Yeontan and I can handle it."

“I wouldn’t want to impose-” Hoseok tried again.

“It wouldn’t be. Unless you’re some kind of master thief or something, it should be pretty okay. I mean, if you want to.”

“We would attempt to get you into one of our rooms as quickly as possible,” Seokjin jumped into the conversation. “And we’d give you a refund for however long you stayed at Taehyung’s house. We can vouch for him, really, we all grew up with him. He’s a perfectly normal person.”

Jeongguk, who was looking relieved about how this conversation was turning out, nodded quickly.

“Well, I mean...” Hoseok didn’t see many other options, other than going back to Seoul, which he didn’t really want to do. “Okay. That sounds fine. The repairs should be done within the week, right?”

“Right, of course.” Namjoon nodded. “And we can help you out with whatever else you’ll need, too.”

“Hoseok hyung needs other help,” Taehyung said quickly, seeming pleased that Hoseok agreed to stay with him.

“What is it?” Seokjin asked.

“He had to ride into town with me because he has a flat tire.”

“A flat tire?” Seokjin asked. “How lucky for you, our Jeongguk here is a master mechanic, and would be more than happy to fix that for you, free of charge.”

“Right, of course,” Jeongguk said, nodding again. “Let me put everything I need into the back of my truck, and then I can help you with that.”

“See, I told you,” Taehyung said, watching as Jeongguk ran off to get his tools, “they’re great.”

“Yeah,” Hoseok said, turning his head to look at Taehyung while Seokjin and Namjoon began talking about something in voices low enough that he couldn’t make out every word, “I guess they are.”

I hope you really are too, Hoseok thought, but didn’t say.

 

Taehyung lead the way back to Hoseok’s car which looked very conspicuous compared to Taehyung and Jeongguk’s truck, he couldn’t help but notice. He would definitely stand out here, despite his best efforts, but maybe they’d be like Taehyung and just think he was some kind of high powered business man taking a break and not a celebrity.

Jeongguk fixed his flat in under twenty minutes, which was honestly impressive. It took the mechanics at the shop where Hoseok usually got his car work done longer than that.

Hoseok tried to pay Jeongguk, but Jeongguk waved his hands before Hoseok could even finish telling Jeongguk thank you.

“No, really,” he said, “it’s fine. I’m the reason you can’t stay at the Bed and Breakfast after all.”

“Still, you did me a huge favor. I couldn’t change a tire to save my life.”

Jeongguk put his hands in his pockets, as if trying to make sure that Hoseok couldn’t hand him money. “Don’t worry about it, Jung-ssi.” He walked away before Hoseok could say anything else, and then drove off.

“Come on,” Taehyung said, “follow me, and I’ll lead you to my house. It’s only about a twenty minute drive from here.”

“Okay,” Hoseok said, getting in his car and praying that nothing else would happen on the drive over to Taehyung’s.

Nothing did, though Hoseok couldn’t escape the fact that Taehyung lived in a very winding dirt road. There was escaping the demands and pressures of modern life, and then there was this, which seemed like it was cutting itself off from everything altogether.

The fields that lined the road were overgrown with grass now, probably resting as it was the very beginning of winter and not much would be grown until the weather got warmer. They were lovely, and looked like places that he would have loved to play in as a kid.

Taehyung’s house was a small hanok, nestled in the middle of a huge yard. Hoseok was charmed by it instantly.

“Well, here it is,” Taehyung said, once they’d both gotten out of their vehicles. “Not as nice as the bed and breakfast, to be sure, but it’s still pretty good I think.”

“Definitely.” Hoseok wanted to call it cute, but he wasn’t sure how Taehyung would take that, so he decided to say nothing at all.

“Here, let me get your bags,” Taehyung said, but Hoseok rushed over to his trunk before he could. “No, that’s fine. I’ve got it.”

“Let me take at least one,” Taehyung said, and reached out and grabbed the largest one. “You have...a lot of clothes here.”

Taehyung wasn’t saying it mockingly, but Hoseok felt the back of his neck heating up anyway. “Three months is a long time,” he said. He didn’t even pay for a lot of his clothes anymore--fansites loved to lavish clothes on him, especially on his birthday, and it took real effort to get through all of them.

Taehyung made a noise in agreement, and Hoseok pushed forward, desperate to talk about something else, even with the three bags he was attempting to carry to the front door.

“So, who is Yeontan?”

“What?”

“Yeontan? You mentioned him earlier, so I was just wondering.”

“Oh.” Taehyung smiled, his soft, fond smile again. “Yeontan is my kid!”

“You have a kid?”

“Yep. He’s inside right now, because I thought I was going to be in town for longer than I was, so you’ll meet him in there.”

Hoseok definitely hadn’t expected having to deal with a kid on his vacation. Good thing he liked them, he supposed, and besides. It would only be for a week. Then he would be back at the Bed and Breakfast where there weren’t any kids, as far as he could tell.

“Tannie!” Taehyung called, once the front door slid over. “Yeontan!”

Before anything else happened, there was the skittering of tiny claws on wood and a tiny puffball ran up and jumped onto Taehyung.

“Here he is,” Taehyung said, turning to Hoseok. Yeontan continued to lick at Taehyung’s face, his tail wagging so hard that it made his entire body move too. “My kid. He’s so cute, isn’t he?”

“The cutest,” Hoseok said, because Yeontan right up next to Taehyung’s bright, grinning face definitely was the cutest thing Hoseok had seen in a long, long time.

“Here,” Taehyung said, plopping Yeontan into Hoseok’s arms. “I’m going to go start dinner. Play with Yeontan while I do, please, hyung?”

“Sure,” Hoseok said, looking down at the tiny sniffing fluff in his arms.

He did his best to keep Yeontan from running into the kitchen where Taehyung was, but it seemed like Yeontan really wanted to be wherever Taehyung was. Eventually, Hoseok just migrated over to the kitchen table, and watched as Taehyung did his best to avoid stepping on Yeontan, playing around his ankles.

“Sorry it’s just leftovers, hyung,” Taehyung said, once he placed the pot of samgyetang and side dishes on the table. “I wasn’t expecting any company.”

“It’s fine. I love leftovers.”

Taehyung smiled at him. “Good,” he said. “I made everything myself, so sorry if it tastes weird.”

“Hey, look, I’m sorry that I’m the one intruding on your hospitality. I’ll eat anything you put in front of me,” Hoseok said. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Still,” Taehyung fretted. “I’ll have to go to my parent’s later in the week, and get you some of my mom’s kimchi, at the very least. She makes the best in all of Korea, I swear.”

“You said that before, too.”

“Well, she does! I’m just warning you now.”

“Yours isn’t half bad yourself,” Hoseok told him. “Really.”

“Glad you think so, hyung!” He popped some food into his mouth, and made a pleased noise. “I’ve got to admit, I was kind of worried you weren’t going to like my house, or my food, but you haven’t said anything, so...”

“Well, that’s because I like it. I’m not a snob or anything, I swear, even if I work in entertainment.”

“I didn’t think you were. You don’t look like that, anyway. You’re just unfairly handsome, is all.”

“Unfairly...” Hoseok trailed off, and had to resist the urge to put his hands on his face. “You’re one to talk.”

Taehyung made a face, but didn’t reply. Instead he bent down, and gave Yeontan some of the chicken in his bowl. “I don’t think so. Anyway, I only have one bed in here, but I do have a futon. And if you really want to sleep on a bed, we can share!”

Hoseok choked on his soup. “No, it’s fine, you don’t have to be that generous,” Hoseok said, letting out a nervous laugh. “I’m fine with a futon.”

“Okay then,” Taehyung said. He gathered up all the dishes once they were done, and walked to the kitchen with them.

“The bathroom is down the hall to the right,” Taehyung said. “I’ll wash up.”

“I can help you-” Hoseok began, but Taehyung just shook his head.

“No, you’re the guest. I’ll be fine.” Hoseok hesitated for a second, before finally going and opening up one of his suitcases.

He heard Taehyung start to sing, a quiet, simple folk song, and smiled to himself.

Staying here for only a week? Yeah. Hoseok figured that he could handle this.