They meet for the first time at Namjoon’s New Year’s party.
Okay, so that’s not, like, entirely true, because Hoseok has seen the guy around at plenty of other parties he’s been to since he finished college a couple of years ago, and he knows the other guy has noticed him too. They have this weird history of flirty eye contact and dancing in close proximity and being part of the same conversations but never actually talking to each other, because Hoseok always gets tugged away by his friends, or the mystery guy disappears for whatever reason and then never comes back. So okay, they haven’t really met; they’re just kind of…familiar.
Which. Is disappointing, because Hoseok has had this guy on his list of Most Attractive People He Sees at Parties for the year-or-so since he first encountered those sloped eyes at some rager at Jackson’s, and Hoseok is honestly a lot annoyed that he’s never actually managed to strike up a conversation. Because seriously, the mystery guy is, like, fucking perfect. He’s a little bit shorter than Hoseok, and he’s got this pale skin stretched over delicate collarbones and a sharp jaw, and his cheeks turn a dusty pink when he’s drunk, and his hair is a different color every time Hoseok sees him, always messy like he’s been running his fingers through it.
He’s also a fucking tease who evidently likes stringing Hoseok along until Hoseok can’t get the guy out of his head, which Hoseok likes because so many people just jump straight into bed like it’s nothing anymore, and it is nothing, kind of, and this disappoints Hoseok on just so many levels. Taehyung calls him a romantic, but it’s not that. Hoseok just doesn’t want to be bored.
And this guy—Mystery Party Guy, as Hoseok has started calling him in his head—is anything but boring. Hoseok might be in love.
But the guy remains something of a ghost, even for all the burning eye contact he’s given Hoseok from across a room for a good year or maybe more, and Hoseok has just about given up on ever talking to the guy when Namjoon announces his intention to throw a New Year’s party.
“You have to go,” Taehyung says, even though he knows Hoseok has to open at work the next morning. It’s just Hoseok’s luck, really, that he would be the one stuck with that duty, because his restaurant job is unforgiving and people apparently want food on all days of the year, including the very first one.
“I want to,” Hoseok says. “I’m going to. I just have to talk myself into it.”
“Just stay up all night! You have to go because Mystery Party Guy might be there.”
“I know,” Hoseok says. “I know. I mean—I don’t even know if he knows Namjoon or what, but—fuck. I have to be at work at 4:00, so I can just go to the party and then as long as I’m okay by, like, 3:30, I can get myself there.”
“Sounds rough, dude,” Jeongguk says, looking up from his phone and leaning his chair back so it’s balanced on two legs. “But you have to. For Mystery Party Guy.”
Hoseok nods. “I know. I was never not going to go. I just have to really resolve myself to the fact that I’m going to die tomorrow.”
“Come on!” Taehyung says, because Taehyung has more energy than anyone in this world needs. “You’re only 24; it’s not like you’re some old man!”
“I am an old man,” Hoseok says. “I’m old as fuck, Taehyung. But yeah, I’m obviously going to go. We just need to start drinking early.”
“When has that ever been a problem?” Jeongguk scoffs. “We can start now, if you want.”
“It’s 2:00 p.m.,” Hoseok says.
Taehyung and Jeongguk shrug at each other, and then Taehyung pulls a couple of beers from the fridge, and. Well. That’s how Hoseok ends up off his face at 9:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, stumbling through Namjoon’s apartment door with Taehyung and Jeongguk half-making out as they walk through the door behind him, because Taehyung and Jeongguk have no sense of public decency, especially when they’re drunk.
Luckily, Namjoon is clearly in the realm of comfortably smashed as he greets them with a whoop, so it’s not quite as embarrassing when Seokjin rolls his eyes and starts scolding them all to eat something before they puke even though everyone else at Namjoon’s house is only comfortably buzzed, because, again, it’s only 9:00 p.m.
Hoseok isn’t sure whether he’s expecting Mystery Party Guy to show up; he’s not sure how that guy revolves through the various social circles that could be vaguely classified as “struggling twentysomething artists/musicians/authors/etc. of Seoul”. Hell, he might not actually know Namjoon. He might have something better to do on New Year’s.
All of this knowledge doesn’t stop Hoseok’s drunk head from turning towards the door every two minutes like he’s waiting for something, and that’s why Hoseok is looking when the guy actually does come through the door, trailing along behind someone much taller, his face buried in his phone and his small frame swamped in the black hoodie he’s wearing.
Hoseok swallows hard and wonders how he should play this. If he should just go for it, or if he should just let things lie—but that obviously hasn’t gotten him anywhere in the past year, so maybe—but it’s 9:30 p.m., and Hoseok is pretty drunk, and the guy looks—
“Don’t do it,” Taehyung says, hanging between Jeongguk and Hoseok’s shoulders and making Hoseok dizzy with the force. “Wait a while. Until you sober up and he gets more drunk.”
“Tae, baby, you’re so drunk,” Jeongguk says. “I can’t believe you’re the one encouraging restraint.”
“What do you think I should do, Gukkie?” Hoseok asks.
Jeongguk shrugs. “Go talk to him? But yeah, at least wait until he has a drink. It’ll be weird if you accost him right as he comes through the door.”
“He knows I exist, though, I think. I think?” Hoseok says.
“He knows,” Taehyung says, clinging to Jeongguk to stay upright. “He just looked over here.”
Jeongguk whistles, swaying with Taehyung’s weight off-balancing him, because Jeongguk is also clearly kind of trashed. “Yeah, he knows you’re here.”
“He’s seen me at least ten times now at ten different parties and he’s never done anything about it.”
“Neither have you,” Namjoon says, coming up behind them. “Sorry, I was totally listening. Taehyung is right. Wait until he’s a little more drunk, and you’re a little more sober.”
“Or you could do what you do best and seduce him with your dance moves,” Taehyung says. “That’s how you got me in your bed, remember?”
Jeongguk growls and tugs Taehyung around so that Taehyung is caged into Jeongguk’s arms instead of just leaning half against him. “Do we really need a reminder of that?”
Taehyung shrugs. “It was two years ago, and I didn’t even know you. And Hoseok-hyung is hot. You would’ve slept with him too. We can still do that, if you want, actually. If Hobi-hyung is into it.”
Hoseok shrugs. “I’d say yes, but I’m really trying to get this guy now, so, like, don’t wanna get distracted.”
“Hoseok has a crush,” Seokjin says, coming up to join the cluster. “He doesn’t want to fuck it up by sleeping with someone else. Or multiple someone elses.”
Jeongguk shrugs and grins his wicked smirk down at Taehyung. “Whatever. Wanna find someone else?”
Taehyung shakes his head. “Nah. Just you tonight,” he says, voice dropping all sweet and quiet. “It’s New Year’s. Just us.”
Hoseok rolls his eyes and drags Namjoon and Seokjin away just as Taehyung and Jeongguk start one of their obnoxiously romantic kiss exchanges, the ones that aren’t really making out but more like consecutive normal kisses, all saccharine and fucking terrible to watch.
“It’s honestly the worst thing to look at,” Namjoon says, and Seokjin shakes his head, his expression very serious.
Hoseok grins. “So, what do you say? Am I sober enough yet? Is he drunk enough?”
Seokjin rolls his eyes. “No. This conversation only started five minutes ago. You’re better than this. Make him want it,” he says. “I’ll even do the same thing to Namjoon if you want, give you a firsthand demonstration.”
Namjoon puts a hand on his heart and takes another drink of whatever is in his cup, obviously intending to start the New Year off as hungover as possible tomorrow. “You won’t date me, but you’ll try to seduce me just to show Hoseok how it’s done? That’s cruel, hyung. You’re cruel.”
Seokjin crosses his arms and tilts his chin back, all arrogant and beautiful. “I am indeed a cruel witch, sent to seduce the crown prince of the land into ruin so I can lay waste to the kingdom. What are you going to do about it?”
“Well, this officially got too weird for me, so I’m going to go see if Jimin’s here while you guys do whatever weird, hopefully consensual role play thing you’ve got going,” Hoseok says.
Namjoon and Seokjin are rambling on about castles and dragons and whether magical destruction spells have a friendly fire mechanic, so they definitely don’t hear. Hoseok sighs and trudges off in search of Jimin.
“Hoseok-hyung!” Jimin’s voice chirps as soon as Hoseok turns the corner into the living room.
“Jiminie! I was literally just looking for you,” Hoseok says, swooping Jimin into a hug. Jimin giggles in his ear, and Hoseok twirls him around, and—there. There, in the corner, is Mystery Party Guy, staring at Hoseok with an unreadable look in his eyes. Hoseok holds the gaze for a couple of seconds and then focuses in on Jimin, brightening up his smile. Jimin looks pleased, and Hoseok feels vaguely guilty that the smile is really not for Jimin at all. When Hoseok flicks his gaze back to Mystery Party Guy, he’s pleased to see the guy glance away quick, but not quick enough to convince Hoseok that he wasn’t taking in Hoseok’s interaction with Jimin and maybe analyzing it the way Hoseok analyzes every interaction Mystery Party Guy has with people-who-are-not-Hoseok.
“How are you, hyung?” Jimin asks. “I just got back from tour, and I’ve been so busy—I was meaning to text you and see if you wanted to get coffee!”
“Are you even allowed to drink coffee?” Hoseok asks. Jimin is a backup dancer for an idol group, which means they’re pretty strict about his diet and his social life. Otherwise, Hoseok is sure Jimin would be a permanent fixture of the Taehyung-Jeongguk-Namjoon-Seokjin-Hoseok group.
Jimin shrugs. “No, but I can have tea, and you love coffee.”
“That’s true,” Hoseok says, smiling.
“Hey, are Namjoon-hyung and Seokjin-hyung finally together?” Jimin asks. “I saw them being kind of all over each other earlier, but not, like, kissing or whatever.”
Hoseok shrugs and glances around the room. Mystery Party Guy is gone. “I don’t think they are. Seokjin is still playing his whole princess act, and Namjoon is still a bumbling idiot.”
Jimin giggles, and then his attention is caught by someone else across the room. “Hey, sorry, Hobi-hyung—I gotta go talk to Chansik! See you later, yeah?” Jimin says, and then he’s gone.
Hoseok makes his way back to the kitchen, where Taehyung is sitting on the counter with Jeongguk standing in between his spread legs, both of them giggling over something on one of their phones.
“You guys are so weird,” Hoseok says, because for all the provocativeness of their position, Jeongguk and Taehyung aren’t doing anything sexual at all. It’s a pretty normal thing for them, the way they look all erotic while they, like, eat popcorn or play cards or talk shit about everyone.
There’s something to be said for dating your best friend, Hoseok guesses.
“Yeah, we’re watching this video about how to solve this box puzzle thing, and—it’s actually really cool, here,” Taehyung explains, and Hoseok takes one glance at the image of a half-dismantled box on the phone before rolling his eyes.
“What—why?” Hoseok asks, yelling over the pounding music that’s just started in the living room. Taehyung says something in response that Hoseok can’t hear, and then he looks up and grins over Jeongguk’s head, and Hoseok follows his gaze across the kitchen.
Some young guy who Hoseok thinks might be named Yugyeom has just entered the kitchen, and trailing behind him is none other than Mystery Party Guy. Mystery Party Guy glances over at Jeongguk and Taehyung and Hoseok, and Hoseok bites his lip and laughs as Jeongguk and Taehyung try to hide their victorious grins. “Seriously,” Hoseok goes on, louder, teasing because he’s really just trying to get Mystery Party Guy’s attention now. “This is, like, the opposite of what you’re supposed to do at a party.”
“You should get more drunk and then you’ll be into it too,” Jeongguk suggests, wiggling his eyebrows, and Hoseok tilts his head back and laughs as pretty as he can. He can hear the way Mystery Party Guy and Maybe-Yugyeom are talking low as they pour themselves more vodka, and Hoseok glances over as he stops laughing and meets Mystery Party Guy’s fox-curved eyes.
Fuck. The only time they’ve ever been this close before was the time they had Almost Danced Together at a party two months prior. Hoseok had been decently drunk, but not enough to forget the way Mystery Party Guy could move his hips, a daring look in his eye as he rutted against some other guy and stared at Hoseok like it was a challenge.
“Well, if you don’t wanna watch it, maybe they do,” Taehyung says. “Hey, Yugyeom! Dude with Yugyeom! Wanna watch a video about how to solve this puzzle box?”
“What, yes, that sounds like the stupidest shit,” Actually-Yes-Yugyeom says. “Hey Tae, what’s up? Jeonggukkie! Nice to see you! Sorry, I’m Yugyeom,” Yugyeom smiles at Hoseok, so big his eyes crinkle, and then he’s pushing in between Jeongguk and Hoseok before Hoseok can say his own name, and Hoseok ends up in the corner of the kitchen with Mystery Party Guy, who’s regarding the scene like he’s kind of hates everyone and really just wants to go to sleep.
“What the fuck is a puzzle box,” the guy mutters, and. Fuck. His voice is gritty and low, kind of raspy, totally fucked out. Hoseok wonders what it sounds like after he’s sucked someone’s dick, and then he flushes, because he’s definitely pretty goddamn drunk.
“Some weird wooden box thing you can take apart. I have no idea why they’re watching this at a party. Or at all,” Hoseok says. “I’m Hoseok,” he says. “I’m pretty sure we’ve been playing the real life version of phone tag for, like, a year.”
Mystery Party Guy raises his eyebrows. “Jesus, phone tag. I don’t think I’ve heard someone actually use that term since I was eight and eavesdropping on my dad’s conversations on our landline.”
Hoseok laughs. “Sorry. I grew up in the nineties, what can I say?”
Mystery Party Guy shrugs. “Hey, I knew what you meant, didn’t I? Same here. I’m Yoongi.”
Hoseok swallows and forces himself not to stare at Yoongi’s lips. Now that Hoseok is up close, he can see how pale Yoongi really is, how delicate his lips, his nose, his cheekbones. Yoongi looks like a pastel doll, even in his giant black hoodie and the ripped black skinny jeans that show off how tiny he is. He’s got a black beanie over his bright blue hair, and he has earrings, and he’s wearing makeup, and—
“You think Namjoon would be mad if we fucked in his car?” Hoseok says, which.
Yoongi’s eyes widen, and he raises one dark brow, his lips quirking up like he’s maybe a little bit pleased. “That was forward.”
“I’m really drunk.”
“It’s like 10:00 o’clock.”
Hoseok nods. “I have work in the morning. I have to be okay to be at work by 4:00, so I started drinking at, like, 6:00.”
Yoongi snorts. “Sounds about right. Where do you work?”
“Oh, just a diner. I teach dance sometimes on weekends at this studio near my house,” he says. “You?”
Yoongi shrugs. “Convenience store. How old are you anyways, nineties kid?”
“I was born in ’94 actually,” Hoseok says. “So I’m 24.”
Yoongi nods. “Great. Then I’m actually Yoongi-hyung, because I’m ’93.”
“Yoongi-hyung,” Hoseok tastes the syllables and then nods. “Cool. I’m sorry I said the thing about fucking in Namjoon’s car.”
Yoongi bites his lip and Hoseok basically melts.
“I’m not,” Yoongi says. “But I am sorry we’re both kind of drunk, because I’m not into the whole drunk hook-up thing. Find me in a couple of hours and don’t drink anything in between, and then we can talk.”
Hoseok feels all the air rush out of him. “Seriously? The part you’re worried about is the drinking part?”
Yoongi eyes him over the rim of his cup, and Hoseok glances around the room and realizes they’re the only ones in the kitchen. “Yeah. That’s the part I’m worried about. It’s 2018. Consent is a thing.”
Hoseok swallows and nods. “Yeah. That’s good.” There’s a pause that might be a little bit awkward, but luckily, Hoseok’s drunk head fills in the gap. “So, you know Namjoon?”
Yoongi nods. “Yeah, we work together. Not a lot, but we run in the same circles.”
“Well, Joonie doesn’t work at a convenience store, so…you don’t mean his day job, do you?”
Yoongi eyes Hoseok over the top of his drink. “No, not his day job.”
Hoseok nods. “You rap, then. Or—something with music.”
“Something like that.”
“Have I heard of you?”
Yoongi crosses his arms. “That depends. You pay any attention to the underground rap scene here in Seoul?”
Hoseok shakes his head. “Only a little. As much as Namjoon will tell me. He can be a little…protective of us. Me and Tae and Jeonggukkie and Seokjin-hyung, I mean. Always says he doesn’t want us getting involved in stuff that might be dangerous.”
“Dangerous,” Yoongi says, voice flat.
Hoseok runs a hand through his hair and doesn’t take a sip of his drink, even though he wants to. “Tae got drugged the only time we went. Someone slipped something in his drink and the guy dragged him into the bathroom and tried to…luckily Jeongguk realized Tae was gone and we found him before anything happened, but we had to take Tae to the hospital. He was so out of it. Couldn’t stand up, and his words were all jumbled. I thought Jeongguk was going to have a complete meltdown—he was more upset than Taehyung, but then Taehyung-ah was kind of sick for a day or two afterwards, really tired…it was scary. Seeing him like that.
“Anyways, Namjoon has been really secretive about the whole thing ever since. And Tae…I think he’s kind of relieved to have Namjoon’s worry as an excuse not to go. Jeongguk would never go back, either.”
Yoongi’s lips are pursed, and for a second Hoseok thinks he must’ve offended him, calling his scene dangerous. But then Yoongi nods. “Yeah. I got drugged once, too. Beat to shit a few times. It’s worse if you’re actually involved in it instead of just being in the audience, but I don’t blame you guys for staying away.”
“It’s sad, though. So much talent, but it’s stuck in the dark corners of the world, and it makes everyone who does it get all cagey and scared,” Hoseok says. “The rappers were good. The dancers, too.” It’s hard to forget how cool the underground dance teams had been, how much Hoseok had wanted to join them.
How he couldn’t, and how he still can’t.
Yoongi nods. “Well. Thanks, I guess. Kind of.”
Hoseok shrugs. “I would go back. To see you.”
Yoongi shakes his head. Smiles, but it looks kind of fake. “Well, this has gotten sufficiently real for a New Year’s party. We’re worse than Yugyeom et. al. watching that stupid puzzle box thing. You wanna walk around and judge the shit out of everyone in our drunken daze?”
“You’re not even that drunk,” Hoseok points out. He still doesn’t sip more of his drink, suddenly desperate to stop feeling so intoxicated. He tries hard not to look to far into why.
“You are. And I pregamed before I got here,” Yoongi says, dumping his drink down the sink and filling the cup with water.
“What, one beer?” Hoseok teases. He dumps his drink, too. Fills the cup with water. Doesn’t think about why, because getting his hopes up would be stupid.
Yoongi blushes, and it’s, like, fucking adorable. “I’m kind of small, if you hadn’t noticed.”
Hoseok sucks in a breath and moves in closer so Yoongi is kind of caged against the counter. “Yeah. It’s cute. You’re fucking—”
Yoongi tugs Hoseok in with a hand on the back of his neck. “What? I’m fucking what?”
Hoseok sets his drink on the counter and leans in, his hips bumping Yoongi’s. There are layers of fabric between them, but it’s still heady and unreal how dizzy the contact makes him. “Lightweight,” Hoseok says.
“Thought we were supposed to walk around judging everyone else. Seems like you’re just judging me.”
“So he literally just had to spin it around?” Yugyeom’s voice is screechy and he’s clearly really fucking drunk as he stumbles into the kitchen with Taehyung and Jeongguk behind him, the three of them hanging all over each other and probably just about blacked out.
“It’s not even 10:30 and you guys are about to pass out,” Yoongi says.
“It’s not even 10:30 and you guys are about to fuck,” Taehyung retorts, smirking as Jeongguk giggles into Taehyung’s shoulder.
“10:30 is a perfectly reasonable time to fuck,” Yoongi says, calm even as Hoseok is blushing bright red and ready to stutter if he has to speak.
Taehyung and Jeongguk giggle and then start making out, and Yugyeom sinks to the floor in a fit of laughter.
“Come on. Let’s go somewhere quieter,” Yoongi says, dragging on Hoseok’s sleeve as Yugyeom rolls on the kitchen floor, still laughing, while Jeongguk and Taehyung climb up on the counter. “Think we should tell Namjoon that his counter is being desecrated right now?”
Hoseok shakes his head and follows Yoongi out of the room. “Nah, let them contaminate it. Not like I didn’t suggest that we defile his car earlier.”
Yoongi chuckles, and it’s not much, but it’s more of a laugh than Hoseok has gotten from him thus far, and it feels like a victory.
They make it out to the balcony of Namjoon’s bedroom, and it’s cold enough to be deserted. Yoongi pulls a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and lights one. He smokes in silence for a few seconds and then offers the cigarette to Hoseok, who takes it and stares out across the courtyard below them as he takes a drag, the smoke a sultry warmth inside him on such a cold December night.
“You know what’s the worst?” Hoseok says, kind of out of nowhere. He’s still drunk, although the cold is shocking it out of him.
“What?” Yoongi asks, suddenly quieter, vulnerable now that it’s just the two of them.
“When you’re listening to music and you want to listen to a couple songs in sequence because the transition between them is really good, but then you click the first song without realizing your phone’s on shuffle and so when the song ends and you’re sitting there waiting for the next one, it’s a completely different song, and it ruins it so then you have to go back and re-listen to the first song all over again so it goes into the right song after it,” Hoseok rambles. He hands the cigarette back.
Yoongi snorts, takes another drag. “Yeah, you know, that actually is the worst. Not a lot of people would get that, though, I don’t think.” He lets the smoke out in a rush, and it swirls pale and delirious against the dark backdrop of sky. “You ever think about why we do this?” Yoongi asks after a moment of silence.
Hoseok looks over, but Yoongi is staring at some point far off the balcony that Hoseok can’t see, maybe not really staring at anything. “Why we do what?”
Yoongi shrugs and hunches his shoulders like he’s trying to make himself smaller, less visible. “This. Drinking until our memory is shot, smoking until our lungs burn. Offering to sleep with people in the back of our friends’ cars,” he teases, shooting Hoseok a grin. Then he turns serious: “People who we think can save us even though they probably just break us more. That sort of thing.”
Hoseok grabs for the pack of cigarettes. Draws one out and fits it between his lips, leans in all close, his hand coming up to tilt Yoongi’s chin just right so they’re staring at each other while Hoseok lights his cigarette off the end of Yoongi’s. Yoongi looks startled, but he’s pliant against the command of Hoseok’s fingers. His hair is beautiful and turquoise, his brown eyes lit to chocolate by the soft light spilling out onto Namjoon’s balcony. Yoongi’s eyeshadow is smoky and dark and stunning. The city is spread out beside them, sprawling and luminous, and gentle snowflakes have appeared in the air. Hoseok holds their position a fraction of a second longer than he needs to, and Yoongi’s breath seems stuttered when Hoseok pulls away.
“Yeah,” Hoseok says. “I think about it.”
They smoke in silence for a couple of minutes, and then Hoseok covers Yoongi’s hand on the balcony with his own. Fits his fingers into the spaces between Yoongi’s. Yoongi lets him.
“Why did you get beat to shit at an underground thing,” Hoseok asks, barely even bothering to lilt his voice into a question.
Yoongi bows his head. “For saying shit on stage about being bi. Got called a fag more than a few times.”
Hoseok looks over. “What happened when you got drugged?”
Yoongi’s shoulders tighten. “What do you think,” he says, careful, voice taut and heart-wrenching.
Hoseok tightens his hands. “That’s why you care so much. About us being sober.”
Yoongi nods. “Yeah. I—it was years ago, and I’ve had a lot of therapy since. I’m okay. But. Yeah. Only when I’m sober. When everyone is sober.”
Hoseok bites his lip. “You know,” he says. “We switched the alcohol for water.”
Yoongi ducks his head. “Yeah. We did.”
“Tonight. Right after the ball drops. At midnight. If you want to.”
Yoongi looks over, appraising. “You’re really into that?”
Hoseok nods. “Yeah. But only if you are. If you really are.”
Yoongi turns away. “Midnight. A bit romantic, don’t you think?”
Hoseok shakes his head. “Everyone will be distracted. They won’t notice us slipping out. If you…want privacy, or whatever.”
Yoongi puts out his cigarette in Namjoon’s ashtray and nods. “Okay. I’m gonna go get some more water. Make the rounds. Come find me at midnight. You can fuck me in the backseat of Namjoon’s car.”
Hoseok feels all of his blood rush out of his head, and he almost ducks in right there to kiss Yoongi senseless against the sharp rail of the balcony. “Fuck,” he says.
Yoongi raises an eyebrow and steps away with a smirk. “That’s the idea. See you soon.”
Yoongi disappears inside the apartment. Hoseok takes the last drag of his cigarette and feels arousal and adrenaline and nicotine coursing through him, and thinks: fuck. Fuck.