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lead me towards the deep end

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Yoongi watches the view out the airplane window as they land in Honolulu. He knows he should be impressed, excited, perhaps even awestruck at the clear view of the crystal blue ocean, all that white sand, a tropical paradise. Instead he feels numb. But numb is an upgrade over the way his emotions have lurched between painful devastation and a dull, thudding ache for the past three weeks since Jaeho dumped him. Yoongi will accept numb, but when he'd impulsively booked this trip two days ago, he'd been hoping for something more like happiness.

Maybe he’d be able to feel more joy as the flight attendant welcomes them to Hawaii if the in-flight entertainment hadn’t been several episodes of Jaeho’s drama, Gothic Fruit. They were re-runs from a time when Yoongi had been genuinely fond of a lot of the music he’d written for the show, proud even, in a way he hasn’t been of his work in years. But listening to it now hurt almost as much as seeing Jaeho’s face on the screen.

Almost. Numbness gives way to self-pity and Yoongi keeps swallowing back the lump in his throat as he makes his way listlessly through customs, down to baggage claim, eventually outside and into a cab. He keeps his headphones on as much as he can, trying to climb out of his memories with music, but it doesn’t help. Everything feels gray and surreal, like he’s watching the world through dirty plate glass windows.

Three weeks post-breakup, and it seems unfair that he should still get hit with waves of grief this strong. He should be more irritated with himself about it, but even his usual distaste for having feelings hasn’t been able to drag him out of this pit.

The cab driver is cheerful and friendly, and Yoongi pretends to know less English than he does to avoid talking. He sits back in his seat and watches palm tree after palm tree pass by, the sky offensively blue and the sun disgustingly bright. Coming here seems like such a terrible idea now, and he should head right back to the airport, book a flight home and crawl back into his depression nest, but he doesn’t want to talk to the driver to ask him to turn around.

Yoongi still wants to leave as he arrives at the hotel and drags his sorry ass to the front desk. This place is too rich for him, that much is obvious, and he’d probably have realized that before now if he’d been in his right mind while “planning” this trip instead of just picking a place at random out of what google results he could see through his tears. Yoongi again wants to just turn around and give up on this whole thing, but he’s here so he might as well attempt to see this sorry thing through.

“Welcome to Aloha Beaches! How can I help you?”

The guy at the front desk is Korean, the first sign that Yoongi’s gotten today that the universe maybe doesn’t completely hate him. And some small part of his brain that isn’t distracted by heartbroken misery notices that the guy--Hoseok, from his nametag--is also quite pretty, with warm eyes and a sharp jawline and black hair falling softly to frame his face.

Yoongi answers in Korean and the guy’s thousand-watt smile shifts, relaxes a bit without dimming in brightness. He asks if Yoongi has a reservation, and when Yoongi shakes his head, Hoseok looks genuinely sympathetic.

“I’m sorry, but the only vacancy we have right now is the presidential suite, which might be out of yo--I mean, it’s beyond most people’s budget,” Hoseok says. Yoongi doesn’t even have it in him to feel offended that he clearly looks like he can’t afford an expensive suite at this place. He’s already picking up his suitcases off the floor, avoiding Hoseok’s eyes as he says “Thanks anyway,” and then he hears a voice behind him say, “Yoongi?”

All of his veins floods with ice water. Yoongi knows that voice, unmistakably different from every American he’s heard mispronounce his name today. He doesn’t need to see Hoseok’s eyes widen in recognition in front of him to know exactly who this is.

Yoongi squeezes his eyes shut before he turns around, hoping that the look on his face is at least neutral and not devastated. “Jaeho. I… didn’t realize you’d be here.”

Bae Jaeho is one of the most recognizable faces in Korea, and given the way Gothic Fruit has exploded in popularity with foreign audiences in the past year, his popularity has grown worldwide. They’re getting a few looks in this lobby that tell Yoongi that even half a world away from Seoul, Jaeho still gets noticed as a celebrity.

Which means that Yoongi has an audience for this moment, the first time he’s seeing his ex-boyfriend’s face in person since he walked out of their shared apartment three weeks ago. Yoongi wants the cheerful tropical floral pattern on the lobby floor to open to a portal to hell and swallow him down.

Jaeho looks taken aback, his eyes sweeping Yoongi up and down. “You just, uh, decided to take your first vacation in years? To Hawaii? To the same hotel as me?”

The lump in his throat is threatening to come back. Yoongi sucks in a breath. “I didn’t know you’d be here,” is all he can think of to say again.

Jaeho is wearing tight black swimming trunks and a white flamingo-patterned shirt that is, of course, completely unbuttoned, his stupid perfect body on display. There’s a pink lei around his neck and a cocktail in a coconut glass in his hand. Yoongi can’t tell what he’s thinking, but eventually he nods, accepting Yoongi’s explanation. Then he just looks awkward.

“Well, it’s… good to see you,” Jaeho says. Yoongi wants to laugh, but knows if he starts he won’t be able to stop. He opens his mouth to say something, he has no idea what--apologize for the hotel mix-up? Beg Jaeho to take him back? But before he can speak, another guy suddenly materializes behind Jaeho, like he walked out of the wall or something. He's wrapping his arms around Jaeho and says something like “Babe, the yoga class, let's go.” Yoongi's not sure what it was exactly because after “babe" all he can hear is the roaring in his ears.

“Oh God. Uh, go on ahead,” Jaeho mutters to his new fucking boyfriend. The boyfriend (who, Yoongi’s brain helpfully notes, is gorgeous and taller than Jaeho which means much taller than Yoongi) giggles and pecks Jaeho’s cheek before disappearing. Is Yoongi trembling? He might be trembling.

“Three weeks,” Yoongi says.

Jaeho winces. “Yoongi-"

“It’s been three weeks since you left,” Yoongi says, and he distantly can’t believe the way his voice is rising, the heat he can feel in his cheeks. All those times Jaeho had accused him of being an unfeeling robot. “And you’re already with someone new? You’re on a fucking beach vacation in Hawaii with someone new?”

“I never meant for you to see this,” Jaeho says, holding his hands up in defense. Every person in the lobby is looking at them, as if this wasn’t already one of the most nightmarish experiences of Yoongi’s life. If there’s one saving grace, it’s that hopefully none of the white people here can understand what they’re saying, even if they’re rubbernecking at the rising voices. “It’s not a serious thing, okay, it’s new and our schedules just happened to line up--”

“I don’t want to hear it. All that shit you said about how you still cared about me, how you wanted to be friends? Fuck off, you don’t have a loyal bone in your body.”

Jaeho takes a step back, stunned. When they actually broke up, Yoongi didn’t yell or get angry. He’d been too shocked and then later, desperate, saying anything and everything in the hope of changing Jaeho’s mind. Yoongi is not a yeller. He might be having an out-of-body experience.

“I’m sorry,” Jaeho says. “Truly, I am. I hope you have a nice trip.” And then he turns and flees, leaving Yoongi with the aftermath of adrenaline shaking through his body, the handle of his suitcase digging into his palm from how hard he’s gripping it. He glares at the first bystander who meets his eyes, and people look down and away, slowly picking their conversations back up.

Yoongi turns around to the front desk again, rubbing at his face. He supposes there’s not really any point to pretending to be put together right now. Hoseok would have understood every word he and Jaeho just exchanged. “Listen, I know you don’t have any vacancies, but is the hotel bar for guests only or can any pathetic asshole get a drink in there?”

Hoseok chews on his lip and stares at Yoongi with big, worried eyes. The secondhand mortification in his face makes Yoongi’s skin crawl, and he turns away. “Forget it-”

“No, wait. I mean yes, any asshole can drink at the bar, we’ll take your money, but just--”

Yoongi looks back at him with a substantial buildup of bad decisions sitting heavy in his stomach, feeling it drag him down. Hoseok glances furtively to the side before leaning forward, sliding a key card across the front desk.

“There’s no one in the presidential suite right now, so I can let you stay there for free until someone rich comes along who needs it. Don’t know how long that’ll be, but you at least have the night. As long as you don’t mind not having staff come in to clean it for you, no room service, things like that.”

“You’re kidding.” Yoongi jerks his thumb over his shoulder at the space where Jaeho stood. “You caught all that, right? My ex is here, with his new boyfriend. I can’t stay here.”

Hoseok shakes his head. “That’s exactly why you should stay here. Don’t let him ruin your trip, you have as much right to be at this hotel as he does.”

Yoongi shakes his head. “I think a rich and famous drama actor has a lot more right than I do to be at a place like this, actually.”

Hoseok frowns. “Why are you arguing with me? Just take the free room, damn. I promise it’s really nice.” He pushes the key card forward again, until the edge nudges Yoongi’s bony wrist resting on the desk. Pokes him with the card over and over until Yoongi finally puts his hand over it.

“Why are you doing this?”

The look Hoseok gives him is full of more knowing sympathy than Yoongi could ever be comfortable seeing in a stranger’s face. “I just think it has to suck, running into your ex like this when you guys broke up so recently,” Hoseok says. “And he’s famous, too, and with someone else. That just seems like a lot, and we’re not using this room for anything right now, so…”

Yoongi looks down at the key card. He doesn’t want this pity presidential suite, but he can’t deny that Hoseok’s right: this situation really sucks. And as ready as he was to book a flight back to Seoul just a few minutes ago, he hates the idea of slinking out of here with his tail between his legs because of Jaeho.

“I don’t want you to get in trouble,” Yoongi says, trying to hedge one last time, and Hoseok laughs at him.

“Gonna be honest, I wouldn’t offer if I was putting anything on the line. We do this shit from time to time, it’s not a big deal. Will you seriously just take it, come on.”

Yoongi huffs and accepts the key card, and gets a blindingly bright smile in response. Like he’s just made Hoseok’s day or something.

“Have a wonderful stay,” Hoseok says cheesily. Yoongi rolls his eyes, but then Hoseok adds, “Enjoy it extra to rub it in your ex’s face,” and Yoongi doesn’t know what to do with that. He feels a smile form on his face, lopsided and baffled.

“Uh, thanks.” He pockets the key card and then stands there, trying to think of what else he should say. Hoseok’s smile is a little smaller now, softer and still warm, looking at Yoongi like he sees something there. Something beyond a caustic, pathetic man with undereye circles and more emotional baggage than the actual suitcases at his feet.

“This is a very kind thing to do,” is all Yoongi can think of. “You must be a very kind person.”

Hoseok waves that away. “No, I can be super mean, ask anyone.” Then he winks, and Yoongi feels the tips of his ears go red. He ducks his head and mutters another thanks and then heads for the elevator, feeling like he’s scuttling away.

It takes him until he’s crossed the whole (stupidly beautiful, good lord this hotel is nice) tropical courtyard to find the luxurious beach condo with his presidential suite to realize: today marks the first time since Jaeho left that he’s felt that sparking kind of attraction to someone new. It should be a good sign, maybe, a sign that someday he could be capable of feeling interested in people again. But he doesn’t feel like it’s a good sign; he just feels sad.

***

“And then,” Yoongi says, waving his drink around for emphasis and splashing some of his brightly colored cocktail on the bar. “The director told me that my composition for the scene when Jaeho--I mean, when the main character--proposes to his girlfriend was ’too dark.’ Too dark, can you believe that shit?” Yoongi takes a gulp of his drink to prevent any further spillage, and also prevent himself from talking further. He wasn’t sure how he’d gotten onto a rant about his job, but it was probably this bartender’s fault for being way too nice. Suspiciously nice, just like the rest of the staff of this hotel.

The bartender (Namjoon, he told Yoongi his name three drinks ago and Yoongi is trying to remember it), instead of laughing in Yoongi’s face for being a ranting mess, is nodding along earnestly. “Honestly,hat does sound like some bullshit. From what you’ve told me the proposal is just a set-up for them to betray each other in an upcoming episode, so the soundtrack probably should be a little ominous, right?”

Thank you, you get it, you understand fuckin--you get music like no one else at my fucking job does,” Yoongi tells him. He moves forward to give Namjoon a shoulder slap but forgets that he still has a drink in his right hand, and just ends up sloshing most of it on the guy’s shirt. “Fuck, sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, Namjoon gets drinks spilled on him every night but he’s usually the one doing the spilling,” says the friendly waiter who’d deposited Yoongi at the hotel bar in the first place, after he’d noticed him picking at his burger and trying to hold back tears instead of eating. His nametag says Seokjin, and all night he has been surreptitiously sneaking tiny plates of bar food in front of Yoongi to eat between drinks.

Yoongi has never been the type to get so trashed in strange bars that he forgets to eat and concerned waitstaff are prompted to try and take care of him, but Namjoon had given him one kind smile and asked how he was and Yoongi opened his mouth and hours of ranting about everything from Jaeho, to his frustrations at his job, to his creative stagnancy poured out. He never vents to strangers like this. He never lets his anger and irritation loose like this, not in years anyway. Not since college when he still rapped, not since before he’d met Jaeho and settled down into a steady job composing for his show.

Yoongi used to think that domestic bliss had softened all his edges and made him less hostile, but now he wonders if he was just coasting.

Namjoon swats at Seokjin with a bar towel, but otherwise accepts the insult. “Do you want to switch to water? I couldn’t give less of a shit about my uniform shirt, but you don’t seem like you throw drinks at people under normal circumstances.”

“I didn’t mean to throw it at you,” Yoongi whines, but accepts the glass of water Seokjin pours him. “Thanks, I guess. You’re really nice. Both of you are really nice. And you seem like you know a lot about music, unlike my fucking boss. Unlike my fucking ex-boyfriend. Fuck, I love this song.” He can see that both Namjoon and Seokjin are trying not to laugh at him, but in the moment he doesn’t care. Yoongi closes his eyes, swaying a little on his stool and humming to the opening bars of ‘Raspberry Beret.’

“Hell yeah, so do I.” When Yoongi opens his eyes, Hoseok is there, grinning wide. The only patrons besides Yoongi left in this bar are an old couple at a far corner table, deep in conversation and not paying them any mind. As Yoongi watches, Hoseok breaks out some hip and shoulder isolations, then some hypnotizing hip swivels and footwork, and then a slick spin to ’she walked in through the out door.’ And maybe it’s just because Yoongi is inebriated and has a--not a crush, an attraction maybe, but he thinks that Hoseok’s moves might be seriously Prince-worthy.

“Holy shit, you’re incredible,” Yoongi gushes. He waves a hand in Hoseok’s direction and spills water on his own leg. “Most people can’t dance like that, what the fuck? Who are you?”

Hoseok’s face splits into a surprised, delighted grin, and Yoongi can hear Seokjin and Namjoon laughing good-naturedly at him but alcohol has short-circuited his sense of shame. He slides off his bar stool and only trips a little bit, and Hoseok catches his wrist before he can tip the entirety of his water glass onto the floor. Yoongi looks up at his face as Hoseok deftly takes the glass from him and sets it on the bar, then takes Yoongi’s hands in his. Yoongi doesn’t know what his body is doing, doesn’t know what kind of steps he should be following, but he dances with Hoseok, doing the best he can as Prince croons ‘and if it was warm she wouldn’t wear much more.

He’s not as good a dancer as Hoseok, he knows that much already. But he’s having fun. When the song ends, his cheeks hurt, and Yoongi realizes that he was smiling for most of the song, smiling more than he has since Jaeho dumped him. Also his stomach is sloshing a little dangerously and the room is starting to spin, but he chooses to focus on the smile. And the fact that Hoseok had been dancing behind him when the song ended, and he stays like that, hands resting on Yoongi’s hips and close enough that Yoongi thinks he can feel body warmth at his back.

“You should actually be a dancer,” Yoongi says, stumbling when Hoseok lets go of him. “Like, professionally.”

“I am actually a dancer,” Hoseok says, one steadying hand coming back to Yoongi’s shoulder. “Or well, I have been, anyway. At times. I am known to dance professionally.”

“Did you know your face is bright red?” Seokjin asks Hoseok, and Yoongi tries to twist around to see but his momentum takes him too far and he starts listing dangerously towards the floor, has to correct by grabbing onto the bar, blinking down at Namjoon’s little containers of cut-up fruit pieces for tropical drinks. His stomach rolls.

“Whoa there.” Now Seokjin is the one steadying Yoongi, touching his arm and then hovering worriedly like Yoongi might continue falling into the fruit. Yoongi catches him sharing a look with Hoseok behind his back. “Maybe it’s time to get him back to his room before he hits his limit? Specifically, hits it all over the bar?”

“Stop conspiracying against me,” Yoongi says, but his voice isn’t as stern as he meant it to be and Seokjin laughs in his face.

“Let’s get you home, okay?” Hoseok says, offering Yoongi his arm, and if he’s trying to persuade Yoongi by being kind in contrast to Seokjin’s mockery., Iit is absolutely working. Yoongi takes his arm and hiccups.

“I don’t have a home, my home dumped me three weeks ago,” he says, but it comes out a mumble. Seokjin was right, he’s losing steam.

Yoongi lets Hoseok lead him out of the bar, and the walk across the hotel to his room passes in a series of blurs. Yoongi is cognizant of Hoseok telling him “Yeah man, just let it out,” and he’s not sure if he’s been ranting about Jaeho or crying or if maybe Hoseok’s encouraging him to puke since he’s nauseous.

But he makes it back to his room without throwing up, flopping onto the bed that’s way too big for just him. Hoseok is gone--Yoongi doesn’t know if he slipped away as soon as he saw Yoongi safely to the door, he missed his exist. It doesn’t matter. Yoongi falls asleep within seconds.

***

Courtesy of the alcohol in his system, Yoongi wakes up wired and uncomfortable only five hours after he crashes into bed. No amount of lying on his back and staring at the ceiling and listening to his crotchety thoughts will bring sleep back, so Yoongi gives up and gets up when the sky is just beginning to get light.

A beach vacation seems like an even more ridiculous idea in the harsh light of morning than it did yesterday. He feels so stupid for what he remembers of his behavior last night, getting wasted and making a bunch of poor hotel employees take care of him. And he feels even more unsuited to the luxurious and cheerful aesthetics of this whole place with a hangover.

But the beach is close to deserted this early in the morning, with the soft dawn light making everything seem eerie and otherworldly rather than an expensive tourist trap. Normally Yoongi would not choose to go on a walk at 6am no matter how pretty the scenery, but alcohol-fueled insomnia always puts him in a strange mindset, energized but sort of out of his head. Like he could be anyone. Like he’s looking at himself from the outside. Like he’s still drunk.

Yoongi makes his way from his suite to the beach and walks along the shore. Everything smells like salt and seaweed and it makes the hungover fragility of his body feel a little more stable. It’s early enough that the sky is still a little gray, the sunlight not harsh yet. Yoongi doesn’t know anything about how tides work, but he’s guessing that it must be around low tide right now, because there’s so much sand, dark and damp with little trapped pools of water. There aren’t many clusters of rocks or driftwood on this extremely manicured resort beach, but Yoongi spots a couple of starfish here and there, crabs, sad small jellyfish stranded on the shore. He can feel his morose brain try to make a metaphor for his life out of the jellyfish and does his best to steer his thoughts firmly away.

He heads back to his room when the beach starts waking up, and is surprised but pleased to find that the presidential suite comes with real coffee, not the shitty instant stuff he finds in most hotel rooms. He settles down to see if he can get some work done.

It feels a bit silly to have taken his laptop with him on this trip, but Yoongi knows himself, and he can’t just go for a week straight surviving on sunshine and palm trees and ocean without having something more concrete to do. His boss had practically begged him not to do anything related to his actual job, and it makes Yoongi uncomfortable to realize how miserable and dead inside he must have been at the office to get forbidden from doing extra work.

Yoongi hasn’t worked seriously on any original compositions in years. He always meant to, he’d originally taken the job on Gothic Fruit thinking it would be a stepping stone to more work as a producer and songwriter. He never wanted to pour all of his creative energy into someone else’s story, neglecting his own ideas, but of course that’s how it happened.

He’s been poking at a few things since Jaeho left him. Old songs mostly, but also trying to channel some of the bad feelings into writing. He remembers that worked for him in college; it never lifted him out of anything, but he felt better about times when he was struggling if he could at least get some songs out of it.

Yoongi works for a while, plays around with some hooks and even scribbles a few lines of lyrics, phrases that had floated in and out of his thoughts while he walked. It’s not his usual style. He doesn’t know why he’s gravitating to piano again when he’s never utilized keyboards much in his own songs. But something about it feels right, so he keeps tinkering.

It doesn’t go very well and Yoongi just ends up frustrated with himself. This isn’t going anywhere because he’s lost the ability to make any kind of music other than predictable, formulaic television scores. It’s just something to do, and he shouldn’t need something to do on a beach vacation, he should be out there enjoying the sun and sand and saltwater and all of it, like all the other happy people here. Like Jaeho and his new boyfriend. They’re probably having the time of their lives here, drinking piña coladas and windsurfing and getting tanned but not sunburnt, having amazing sex. Jaeho probably hasn’t thought about him once since their fight in the hotel lobby.

The strange burst of energy that woke Yoongi up at dawn has worn off, and he goes back to bed.

***

Yoongi isn’t looking for Jaeho. He’s just wandering around the enormous hotel compound, seeing what they have to offer, debating whether or not he feels like going for a swim now that he’s slept some more. If he happens to stumble across Jaeho and his new boyfriend, it will be bitterly satisfying to his masochistic impulses, but he isn’t looking for that. Mostly.

He finds Hoseok instead, or Hoseok finds him. He spots Yoongi hovering outside the door to the yoga hut, surreptitiously trying to see who might be taking the class, but all the asses look the same in downward dog and he can’t see if one of them is Jaeho. Before he can get too far down a maudlin train of thought about how maybe he can’t pick Jaeho’s ass out of a crowd anymore, he hears, “You can go in even if the class has already started, they don’t turn people away.”

Hoseok has his perfect customer service smile firmly in place, and he’s holding a clipboard with some kind of checklist on it, a pen tucked behind his ear. He must not have recognized Yoongi at first, because when Yoongi turns around to look fully at him, he blinks and the smile on his face relaxes a fraction.

“I’m not really a yoga person,” Yoongi says. His fingers twitch with the desire to shove his hands in his pockets or cross his arms or just fidget.

“Color me shocked,” Hoseok says. It’s strange how the garish pink and blue colors of his tropical hotel uniform shirt somehow look good on him. Strange and more than a little unfair. “You don’t seem like a Hawaii vacation person in general, to be honest, but here you are. Why not make the most of it?”

“I am making the most of it,” Yoongi says, and he can hear the grumbly whine in his voice but he can’t seem to stop it. Hoseok is laughing at him.

“You’re dressed head to toe in black on a beach resort, I can barely see any skin. Even if you burn easily that seems depressing. You know what--come on, follow me.”

Yoongi follows him to the resort gift shop. He’s a little mystified by all this, and a lot mortified. He can’t believe what an ass he made of himself getting so drunk around Hoseok last night, and it’s confusing that Hoseok is still going out of his way to be nice to him after that. Hoseok is very good at customer service, at being professional and kind to people.

 

Yoongi’s groan when Hoseok leads him to the clothing section of the store is maybe too loud, maybe too theatrical, and he can feel the looks they’re getting from other people in the store. Hoseok cackles and shoves a Hawaiian print shirt at him.

“I won’t even ask you to take off any of the twelve black items of clothing on your body, just put this on over it.”

It’s blue and yellow and Yoongi knows without a doubt that if he bought this, it would be the most colorful item in his whole closet. It’s touristy and awful. He should not be considering it just because a cute guy wants him to.

He walks out of the gift shop with his arms full of Hawaiian shirts, several leis and a sun hat. Hoseok had refused to consider Yoongi’s protests that brightly colored tourist bullshit was not his style, offered the use of his employee discount, and then threatened to just buy them himself if Yoongi kept refusing. So Yoongi had said yes to one shirt and then it escalated: Hoseok had offered to get one of everything Yoongi got so that they could match, and Yoongi was dismayed at how well the tactic had worked on him.

“There,” Hoseok says, reaching forward to do up a few of the buttons of the shirt that Yoongi had obediently thrown on over his long-sleeved black shirt. Hoseok smiles, “Now you look like you actually want to be here.”

Yoongi shakes his head. He can’t deal with Hoseok smiling and smoothing his hands over Yoongi’s shoulders and nodding approvingly, like he’s just dressed him in a classy suit or something. “Why are you being so nice to me?”

“You have a real issue with looking gift horses in the mouth, you know that?” Hoseok laughs, and gives Yoongi a couple more shoulder pats before letting go and moving back. Yoongi wants to lean forward until Hoseok’s in his personal space again, which is--weird, he’s being weird.

“There’s nothing wrong with being skeptical,” Yoongi says, trying to shake off his weirdness and in the process hunching his shoulders like a defensive tropical-print gremlin.

“You shouldn’t be skeptical of me, I’m a very genuine person,” Hoseok says seriously, and then cracks another grin bright enough to give Yoongi a sunburn. “If you want proof that my heart is in the right place, why don’t you come with me to a party tonight? It’s gonna be real chill, a bunch of the guys that work here are going. There will probably be a bonfire. There could be skinnydipping, although you didn’t hear that from me because it’s technically illegal at every public beach on the island.”

“I wasn’t asking for proof,” Yoongi objects, because shit, he didn’t mean to come off as that much of an asshole. “Would you be the one skinnydipping? Uh--don’t answer that.”

Shirts with color on them seem to affect his brain-to-mouth filter. Yoongi wants to sink into a sand dune right now, but Hoseok just laughs.

“I’ll swing by your suite to pick you up at nine, okay?”

“Maybe I’ll already be asleep by then,” Yoongi mutters. Hoseok doesn’t even dignify that with an answer.

***

Hoseok comes to get him a little after nine with Namjoon, Seokjin, and another guy that Yoongi hasn’t met yet. It settles the question of whether or not this was supposed to be a date, and Yoongi tells himself he’s not disappointed.

Namjoon and Seokjin continue to be as friendly to him as they were when Yoongi met them last night, and the new guy, Jungkook, seems a bit shy but just as nice. Yoongi tries to let go of his skepticism that they want him around, but it’s hard. They all seem like good friends, and fun people, and he didn’t realize his self-esteem was quite this bad but he doesn’t see the appeal of himself right now. When was the last time he made a friend, or even so much as a new friendly acquaintance, without counting on the other person being impressed by his musical abilities or his work ethic or his industry connections?

The party itself is loud and playing bad music and Yoongi doesn't have any desire to socialize with most of the people here. But it's a party with a bonfire on a moonlit beach in Hawaii, so it has stunning beauty going for it. Someone gives Yoongi a beer immediately, and not long after that he gets a mixed drink in a solo cup shoved into his other hand, and Yoongi learned the perils of mixing his alcohols back in college, but he thinks that recovering from a breakup in Hawaii might be enough reason to throw that particular caution to the wind.

At first he stays close to Hoseok, but he starts to feel self-conscious doing that when it becomes clear that Hoseok is a gregarious guy who wants to circulate and talk to everyone. Instead of sticking to his side like an unwanted barnacle, Yoongi drifts off to the bonfire, where two guys are bellydancing.

He thought it was bellydancing, at any rate. Up closer the dance genre is less clear. Not that he tries to talk to them or join in, but somehow he blinks and they've crowded around him anyway, alternating between dancing up on him and each other and giggling like hyenas the entire time. The taller one who keeps slipping the Nae Nae into his routines is called Taehyung, and the one with the biceps is Jimin.

Yoongi swears that he blinks and takes one sip and then they’re trying to teach him how to dance, Taehyung taking both hands in his and shuffling around and swiveling his hips and then looking up at Yoongi eagerly, like he seriously expects him to be able to imitate that.

Yoongi swallows. “I don’t think that was bellydancing. That was like… I don’t know, samba or salsa or something.”

“No, this is samba,” Jimin says, and launches into footwork so fast that Yoongi’s drunk eyes can’t even keep up with it. He tries to step back, but Taehyung squeezes his fingers, keeps him close to them. “It looks better in heels,” Jimin says when he’s finished, a little abashed like he thinks he did a bad job or something.

“Showoff,” Jungkook says, appearing at Yoongi’s side from out of nowhere. “You guys, he’s a tourist, you should be teaching him how to hula.”

“Kookie, be nice,” Taehyung says, but Yoongi is already smiling.

“I am a tourist,” he says with a shrug. The three guys laugh like he just said something cool or funny, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but Yoongi feels encouraged.

That’s how Hoseok finds him, facing the bonfire with his back to the moonlit ocean, doing the hula in a line with Taehyung and Jimin while Jungkook watches and critiques.

“You guys are going to wear him out too early into his vacation,” Hoseok says. He arches an eyebrow at Jimin when Yoongi stumbles a bit.

“Aw, hyung,” Jimin says. “He’s all yours, okay?”

There’s something here that Yoongi isn’t quite following, but the next thing he knows the three younger guys have scattered and Hoseok touches his shoulder lightly, tilting his head in the direction of the beach.

“You wanna go for a walk?”

Yoongi feels bad, like he’s pulling Hoseok away from the party to babysit his antisocial ass. But he realizes quickly that Hoseok was the one who needed to get away: he walks fast and then slows down as soon as they get far enough from the bonfire, his shoulders slumping. He closes his eyes and the lines of his face pull down. The expression is gone in another second, Hoseok blinks and looks back at Yoongi with his usual friendliness, but Yoongi knows something is wrong.

He nudges Hoseok’s elbow with his own. “What happened?”

“It's nothing,” Hoseok says, and Yoongi has only known him for a couple of days but he can still tell that his casual air is faked, masking tension underneath. When Yoongi just looks at him, Hoseok sighs and admits, “My ex showed up.”

“Oh,” Yoongi says, trying to ignore the weird flip in his stomach.

“Yeah. We broke up a year ago, so it's not like…” Hoseok licks his lips and rubs his palms over his shorts, and it's the first time Yoongi has seen him look nervous like this--not cool, not full of confidence and laughter and sunshine. “It's not the end of the world. But we're not friends. So it's not exactly great, either.”

Yoongi gets the impression that for someone as friendly and warm as Hoseok, to say ‘we’re not friends’ with that kind of cold finality implies some pretty serious bad blood.

“I could go back and yell at him,” Yoongi offers, out of nowhere. “You saw the scene I made with my ex in the hotel, I'll either make him cry or embarrass myself so badly that you'll feel better in comparison.”

Hoseok laughs, then cocks his head to the side, pretending to consider it. “I'd feel bad for you embarrassing yourself, but… maybe it'd be worth it.”

“Wow, ice cold.”

“I told you, I can be mean.”

“Well, you've been nothing but nice to me so far. I think this mean streak is going to be hard to believe until I see it with my own eyes.”

They’re smiling at each other, and Yoongi feels his breath hitch. He looks away out of habit, because it’s been years since he smiled at anyone with intent like this. He’s rusty, and he still feels like he’s breaking a rule. It hurts to remember that he’s free now to smile at whoever he wants, but Yoongi looks around at where they are, the moonlight reflecting off cresting waves and the white beach and the soft sound of wind in the palm trees. He glances back at Hoseok’s face, his pretty mouth and the long slope of his nose. And it hurts a little less.

They walk farther down the beach, taking off their flip-flops to walk easier in the sand, and Yoongi doesn't mean for the conversation to go this way but they wind up trading break-up stories. Yoongi learns that Hoseok went to school for dance and did it professionally for a while before he got together with his surfer ex-boyfriend and followed him to Hawaii, where there are fewer opportunities unless you wanted to hula for tourists. But once they were both in Hawaii, Hoseok grew sick of supporting his ex’s growing ego and insanely competitive urges. He wasn't the one to break it off, but he tells Yoongi that he wishes he had, that he felt relieved when things ended even if it pissed him off.

Yoongi tells Hoseok about meeting Jaeho on the first day of what he’d thought, at the time, was his dream job, composing music for a hot new drama. He tells him about the crush he had from the start and how he never thought Jaeho would even remember his name, let alone be interested. When they started to date for real there was a while there where Yoongi felt like his life was some kind of wish-fulfillment fantasy, surreal and almost too good to be true. And then that was how it turned out, like Yoongi’s disbelief in the early days prophesied everything. Yoongi had known, these past few months, that something was wrong in his relationship, but he’d been at first too busy and then too anxious to try and address it. And then it was too late.

It’s the long version of the story, but it’s way too easy to talk like this, with sand under his feet and the alcoholic buzz slowly wearing off and Hoseok’s soft interjections and occasional sympathetic noises. It’s the first time Yoongi has told the whole breakup story to someone new, and he’s surprised by how good it feels to let it out. Surprised that he doesn’t feel more anxious, more awkward. There is something about Hoseok that puts him at ease.

“So that’s the lead-up to the fight you saw,” Yoongi finishes. “I know I sounded like a crazy asshole then, but at least now you have context.”

“I never thought you sounded like a crazy asshole,” Hoseok says. “Just like you were, you know, going through it.”

“I was definitely going through it,” Yoongi says.

They’ve reached a curve in the beach, and have to clamber over some rocks to get to the next stretch of sand.

“Hey, wanna go skinnydipping?”

“Uh--right now? Just us?” Yoongi feels his eyes go round and knows he must look like a gaping fish. He’d thought that Hoseok was joking when he mentioned skinnydipping earlier.

A smile flickers around Hoseok’s mouth, and Yoongi thinks he sees dimples. “Well, I could text the others, but they’re all terrible about checking their phones at parties. But if there’s someone whose ass you really want to see, I can try--”

“That’s okay,” Yoongi says. “That’s, um, fine. Let’s do it. Sure.”

They strip, and Yoongi keeps his eyes politely averted until he realizes that Hoseok is blatantly checking him out. Then he looks. Hoseok is fit and trim, more muscular than Yoongi but still lean all over. He has a nice ass. He screams when they get ankle deep into the ocean only to be hit by a wave at their thighs. Despite the shock of the cold, he doesn’t cover his junk as they splash forward deeper, which Yoongi thinks is brave, or maybe it just means that Hoseok does this all the time.

“Isn’t swimming better when you’re naked?” Hoseok says happily when they’re up to their shoulders, deep enough that Yoongi can lift his feet and tread water, head bobbing. Hoseok splashes close to him, the movement of his body sending a miniature wave lapping up against Yoongi’s neck.

“I guess,” Yoongi says, and when Hoseok pouts at him he amends. “Yeah. It’s way better.”

***

“This is a terrible idea and I’m going to get maimed and drown,” Yoongi says, not for the first time. Beside him, Hoseok smiles and giggles like Yoongi’s pessimism is adorable. His hand comes up to Yoongi’s back, rubbing consolingly over his shoulder blades, and Yoongi feels himself unwind slightly.

“Taehyung is a very capable teacher, he hasn’t drowned anyone yet,” Hoseok says. “And do you really want to come to Hawaii and not at least try to surf? Come on.”

Yoongi bites down against the question trying to bubble up, asking Hoseok if he can come with. Of course he can’t, Hoseok has a job, he’s on the beach because he’s working and not just a tourist. And besides, Yoongi shouldn’t need handholding from someone he only met a couple days ago just to try new things on this vacation. Asking him to go surfing with them would be a ridiculous impulse.

“My break starts in twenty minutes and I can join you guys then,” Hoseok says, and Yoongi ducks his face against the blush fighting its way to his cheeks.

He’d woken up today with his skin still buzzing with electric hope from the night before. Maybe it was silly, to feel so optimistic after what amounted to little more than a pleasant evening with people who were nice to him--with one particular person whose kindness made Yoongi feel like a new leaf unfurling to the sun. It didn’t take long for pessimism to take over, because it was silly, these good feelings just a consequence of the sharp contrast the evening made to the rest of his life since the break-up. Yoongi had resolved to spend the day following his own plans and doing his best to enjoy this vacation without hinging any hopes whatsoever on the possibility of seeing Hoseok again.

He’d continued to work on a few songs for a while and then ventured out to the beach, and there Hoseok had been, delighted that Yoongi was wearing one of their matching tropical shirts. Somehow, he’d convinced Yoongi to try a surfing class, and now here they are.

So much for doing his own thing, but Yoongi can’t pretend he isn’t quietly thrilled at another day of doing whatever Hoseok tells him to.

Taehyung actually turns out to be a pretty decent surfing instructor, although he refuses to answer to his actual name (if the name he gave Yoongi last night is his real name, anyway). He claims that teaching surfing requires him to get in a different zone, be a different person, and that when he’s out here sharing the “wisdom of the waves” with people he insists on going by his “island name.” Or one of them, anyway.

“Okay, so uh, what should I call you then?” Yoongi looks up at Taehyung from where he’s lying on the sand, learning how to pop up on the board while they’re still on dry land. He would feel stupid as hell practicing how to jump up from lying on his stomach like a struggling beached whale, but Taehyung has a weird gift for making people relax into doing awkward things; it’s probably why Yoongi found himself hula-ing last night, too.

“Today? It’s Renoir,” Taehyung says serenely.

Once they get out into the water, it turns out that surfing is absurdly difficult and Yoongi is not a natural. Even with a wetsuit on, his chest feels scraped up and bruised by how much his body slaps the board while swimming and attempting to stand, and Yoongi’s nose and throat sting from how much seawater he’s swallowed. But Taehyung is encouraging to an almost absurd degree--his teaching style is probably best suited for little kids, and Yoongi occasionally feels almost condescended to, though with how bad he is at this he can’t really protest--and Yoongi surprises himself with how long he’s willing to stick it out.

He manages to pop up correctly and stay standing on the board exactly once, and even catches a small wave for a few seconds. It’s not much, but he can see why people like this sport, and when he inevitably falls off the board and comes up to the surface spluttering, Taehyung claps and cheers for him.

And then he hears Hoseok cheering too, his laugh so loud and distinct that Yoongi thinks he could pick it out of a crowd after only knowing him a couple of days.

“You looked so cool! I can’t believe you stood up on your first time out,” Hoseok says, paddling up on his own board and sitting up to straddle it when he reaches them. “Are you gonna keep going, or did I miss most of the actual surfing?”

Hoseok’s wet hair frames his face cutely, and Yoongi has to look away from his spread thighs on either side of his bright blue surfboard. He contemplates ducking back under the water to escape. His face must be bright red.

“That’s up to Yoongi-ssi,” Taehyung says.

“You can call me hyung.” Yoongi glances in Hoseok’s direction and then down at the board at his side. “Uh, you guys. Can call me hyung, if you want.”

“Sure, hyung,” Taehyung says happily. He lies back on his surfboard and drifts away from them on the current, humming some song to himself that Yoongi doesn’t recognize.

Yoongi gets back up on his board, sitting up on it like Hoseok’s doing. Maybe that’s what you’re supposed to do on a surfboard? Hoseok paddles over to him with one hand until their knees bump together.

“You seem like you’re having a better time today, hyung.” Hoseok’s smile is soft and briny, drops of seawater rolling down his cheeks, and Yoongi feels tension ease out of his limbs.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Yoongi says.

Hoseok is a talker, or maybe it’s just that talking to Hoseok is easy. Even though they burned through a lot of getting-to-know-you subject material last night, there’s no lull in conversation, no moment when Yoongi has to rack his brains for something new to say. Yoongi’s not sure how they get on the topic of Hawaii, but it’s interesting to hear Hoseok talk about it.

“The thing that I like best about living here,” Hoseok says, slow and thoughtful while they look out at the horizon line. “Is that at least among my friends, there’s this idea that you don’t have to have a dream. You don’t have to have some grand ambition, because for most of us, just living here and enjoying all of this is the point. I know that plenty of people I knew back in Seoul might look down on me for stopping my career just to live on the beach with my friends, but… I think it’s okay to live without work being the most important thing.”

“I can’t imagine what that’s like,” Yoongi admits. It’s been a long time since he even considered prioritizing anything over his work. His work and Jaeho, anyway. For so long those two things were so inextricably wrapped up in each other that he didn’t even think of them as separate, and losing one has made him feel unmoored from the other.

Hoseok smiles at him, his fingers idly tracing a pattern on his board. “Yeah, it must be pretty different from having a successful job with a popular TV show,” he says, and Yoongi realizes that he’s been misinterpreted. “I might have ended up here for silly reasons, chasing after a guy and all that, but I wasn’t any happier struggling to make it as some kind of artist.”

“I don’t think it’s silly to move here for a guy. No sillier than slaving away for a popular TV show when you don’t even like your job, when it’s not what you originally wanted to do with your music, and when it involves making soundtracks for your ex.”

Hoseok whistles low. “Maybe you should do something else then, huh?”

Yoongi can feel saltwater drying on the skin of his face, and there’s the telltale warmth that means his sunscreen has probably all washed off and he’ll be burning soon. If he admits the truth out here on the open ocean, it doesn’t count. He shrugs. “Yeah, maybe I should.”

***

For the next several days, Yoongi spends most of his time with Hoseok or Hoseok’s friends. Even when he doesn’t plan on it, one or another of them always seems to find him, and after a while Yoongi loses some of his initial disbelief that they want to be his friend. He develops a pleasant routine of hanging out with Namjoon at the bar every night, and usually Seokjin and Hoseok are there too, circulating in and out between taking care of customers and cleaning up for the night.

Yoongi works on his songs when he ends up alone in his hotel room, times when his melancholy over Jaeho still seems to find him. It’s getting a little easier to put his feelings into words and melodies, and he records some stuff using the crappy, portable equipment he’d brought with him.

The melancholy hasn’t been as strong since those first couple of days. Yoongi is stubborn even with himself, which has always given him an unfortunate tendency to cling to negative feelings, not wanting to admit that a bad spell was temporary rather than the end of the world. But he can’t deny that he’s thinking about Jaeho less and less, smiling more, somehow having a good time on this trip despite himself. Maybe it’s all the sunlight, bit by bit increasing his Vitamin D to a less unhealthy level. Maybe it’s the fruity cocktails combined with the fact that he’s somehow escaped bad hangovers since that first morning.

Maybe it’s Hoseok and his friends and their kindness, and how Yoongi hasn’t felt so connected to people so fast and so easy in years. Possibly ever.

Hoseok suggests a hiking spot to him, and at the look on Yoongi’s face he elaborates “and by ‘hiking’ I mean, you only have walk maybe three-quarters of a mile before getting to the most picturesque ocean lookout you’ve ever seen.” Yoongi still feels content to stick with the pretty ocean at his very nice hotel instead of expending effort to get to pretty ocean elsewhere, but then Hoseok offers to take him since he has the afternoon off. Yoongi changes his tune embarrassingly fast.

It’s harder than it was the other night at the party to think that this isn’t intended to be a date. It’s just the two of them, and the lookout point is as pretty as Hoseok had claimed, taking them to the top of a magnificent series of cliffs, all lush greenery and jagged rocks contrasting against the brilliant blues and greens and foamy whites of the ocean crashing below. They chat a bit on the walk, but fall quiet when they reach the lookout point, and Yoongi can feel Hoseok’s eyes on him as he catches his breath and lets the view sink in.

Yoongi feels like he should say something poignant and profound, something impressive to suit the moment, but nothing comes to mind. He looks over at Hoseok, whose hair is being blown back from his face by the wind. He looks like a model.

“You were right, this is beautiful,” Yoongi says, and Hoseok beams at him. “Do you come here a lot?”

Hoseok nods. “More when I first moved here, but I still like to drive out here when I need to think. It’s one of my favorite places.”

Yoongi hums, wandering closer to the end of the point and peering down at the ocean below. That blue looks so deep, swirling and dark and a little hypnotizing. “Have you ever jumped from here?”

“Oh hell no, are you kidding?” Hoseok says, his voice shrilly rising several octaves. “I think some people do, but not me. Not ever. Way too scary.”

Yoongi cracks up. With a burst of inspiration, he shuffles closer to the edge and leans out a little bit, grinning back at Hoseok. “Really? Well, I don’t scare easily, so maybe I’ll just--”

“Don’t you dare,” Hoseok says, and lunges forward to grab Yoongi’s hand, pulling him back from the edge. Yoongi stumbles a little, bumping into Hoseok’s chest and staring up into Hoseok’s stern, worried face. “There’s no way to tell if it’s safe from up here, even if it looks deep enough you could still hit your head on a rock we can’t see.”

Hoseok’s hand is very warm on Yoongi’s, and his grip is strong and his skin is soft. Yoongi blinks several times. “I was just joking. I do scare easily. At least when it comes to height. And water.” Yoongi manages to stop himself from talking without biting through his own tongue, and Hoseok’s face relaxes.

“Oh. Well, good.” He gives Yoongi a small smile and then looks back out at the ocean. He doesn’t let go of Yoongi’s hand. “It would be a lot of paperwork and bad publicity if I let a guest bash his head open on some rocks on my watch.”

“But I’m not paying for my room, right? So I’m not technically a guest. You could disappear me and no one would be the wiser.”

“Unless you’ve been putting your running bar tab under a fake name, the paper trail would lead the police right to us.” Hoseok squeezes his fingers, and Yoongi feels giddy crushed-out laughter bubbling up his throat.

They hold hands for the whole walk back. When Hoseok squeezes his hand again before letting go to unlock the car, Yoongi’s heartbeat jumps to triple time. This staccato beat is a leitmotif he’s beginning to recognize and associate with Hoseok, and it makes him feel foolish, because this skip in his pulse would be more suitable for a teenager at summer camp or even a college kid on a semester abroad--someone young enough to jump headfirst into infatuation wherever they find it, blissfully oblivious to the limits imposed by time and geography.

Yoongi doesn’t have enough youth left to enjoy this without thinking about the date of his return flight creeping closer. But it’s not enough to protect him from feeling so much, so much, so much.

***

Yoongi has been hanging out at the bar for a while and there’s been no sign of Hoseok yet. He must be more obvious about looking for him than he thought, because when Seokjin wanders through he nudges Yoongi and tells him that Hoseok is stuck behind the front desk tonight. Yoongi hangs around long enough to finish his drink and say bye to Namjoon and then heads to the lobby.

He expected it to be empty this time of night, or at least empty enough that he could hang out and bother Hoseok in between customers, but Hoseok is busy. A couple is talking to him and they seem very angry, full of indignation and making a fuss up in Hoseok’s face as he makes phone calls on their behalf. Hoseok’s face is tight and drawn and Yoongi can hear the apologetic tone to his voice as he keeps offering them solutions and getting interrupted.

Yoongi feels like he shouldn’t be witnessing this, and also wants to go over there and intervene on Hoseok’s behalf, but he doubts trying to play white knight will make anything better. He hovers at the edge of the lobby, leafing through brochures while listening to Hoseok apologize profusely for whatever it is this couple thinks the hotel did wrong. The brochures are for all the tourist-y sports adventures to be had on this island: Yoongi could go scuba diving, or spelunking, or bungee jumping over a waterfall if he wanted to.

Yoongi does his best not to eavesdrop, so he doesn’t catch whatever it is that Hoseok offers to placate the couple. But they finally leave, satisfied and smug. Yoongi turns to look at Hoseok, who slumped over his desk with his head in one hand as soon as the couple had their backs turned.

Sympathy tugs low in Yoongi’s belly. He walks over to Hoseok and slides one of the brochures under his nose. “Want to go hang-gliding?”

Hoseok’s hand slides out of his mussed hair. For a second his face remains tight and drawn, and then he blinks down at the rumpled brochure and up at Yoongi and his face splits into a tired smile. Yoongi doesn’t know how he earned the ability to make Hoseok smile like that, but he wants to know so he can do more of it.

Then again, maybe Hoseok just likes hang-gliding.

“I’m terrified of heights, so no hang-gliding,” Hoseok says, still smiling. Yoongi’s heart does a dumb little skip. “Any other ideas?”

Yoongi hums, taking the brochure back and pretending to flip through it. “I don’t know. All of these ‘adventures’ seem a little overpriced and gimmicky, like they just exist to fleece stupid tourists out of all their money and maybe break some bones--you have to sign all those liability waivers for a reason.” He cocks his head, points the brochure over his shoulder in the direction of the retreating asshole couple. “I could go sell them on it?”

It’s a dumb joke, but Hoseok laughs anyway. Which is good, because it feels like the most important thing in the world to cheer Hoseok up right now, and if he didn’t laugh at Yoongi’s dumb jokes then Yoongi’s not sure what he’d have resorted to next.

Raspberry Beret starts playing over the lobby speakers, and Yoongi says, “Oh hey, it’s our song,” then immediately feels like a huge dumbass. “Uh, I realize that the resort must have this on some rotating playlist. You must be so sick of it.”

Hoseok laughs and winks. “It’s still our song. But, yes, I do hear it at least five times a day on average.”

“Oh, I see. So when you busted out that dance routine the other night it was because you’d had ages to perfect it. More fool me for being impressed.”

“How dare you! Can’t you recognize freestyle when you see it?”

“Do you want to come back to my room?” Yoongi tries to school the goofy grin on his face into something more casual when his words catch up to him. He coughs. “I just meant--you seem stressed, that’s all. And my room is really all I have to offer.”

Hoseok leans back in his little concierge chair, his face unreadable as he considers Yoongi. At least he doesn’t look offended by the suggestion. Eventually he sighs, scrubbing a hand over his face and up into his hair again. “It’s been a long-ass day. It’s not just that rude couple you saw. That’s whatever, I can handle customers.”

“I’m sure you can.”

“Just one of those days when every little thing that could go wrong at work does. And I had a weird conversation with my parents. And texts from my ex. Ugh, fuck it.” Hoseok grabs for some kind of intercom on the desk, says into it, “Hey Jimin, I’m going on my break early, get over here to cover,” and then stands up and walks around the desk, looking at Yoongi expectantly.

Yoongi hadn’t thought Hoseok would take him up on it--even though he’s done a shitty job of remembering that Hoseok is usually on the clock every time they see each other, he doesn’t feel entitled to Hoseok just leaving his shift on a whim to come hang out. And as they head across the resort compound, he feels increasingly lame for inviting Hoseok to come chill in a hotel room at the hotel he freaking works at. But the point was to do something nice for Hoseok, to cheer him up, and he’d said yes, and Yoongi tries to remember what Hoseok said to him once about looking gift horses in the mouth.

That conversation had been what, two or three days ago? It feels like ages to Yoongi. Feels like he’s known Hoseok for years already, and Yoongi knows that he’s getting carried away with something he shouldn’t.

But it is strangely easy to ignore that concern right now, easy in a way it never is for Yoongi to ignore his worries. Instead he feels entirely focused on Hoseok as he lets him into his room. He wants to take care of him, a weird urge that goes deeper than just paying Hoseok back for all the kindness he’s shown Yoongi since he got here.

Hoseok starfishes onto the gigantic bed as soon as Yoongi lets them in and flicks the light on. “Wow, I love this. No wonder people pay so much money to stay here.”

“Not me,” Yoongi says, sitting on the edge of the bed. Hoseok’s shin is next to his knee. Yoongi tries not to get weird about Hoseok’s leg hair. “I mean--not that I wouldn’t pay for it, if I had the money. Not that I think it’s like, not worth it. Or that I’m not grateful--”

“Relax, I don’t care if you insult the fancy hotel that doesn’t pay me enough,” Hoseok says. He smiles at Yoongi, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes, and it fades as he looks back up at the ceiling.

Yoongi swallows. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“It was just a hard day,” Hoseok reiterates. He turns his head in the direction of the opposite wall, and Yoongi watches the line of his jaw as he swallows. It’s quiet in here. If Yoongi really concentrates, he can hear the sound of crashing waves outside.

“The ex that texted me--it was the same guy as the one from the other night,” Hoseok says. “The guy I moved here with.”

“The one who’s not your friend,” Yoongi says.

“I never know how I feel after we talk. I think he wants to be friends. I think he thinks he wants that, anyway.” Hoseok sighs, a big sigh that makes his chest rise and fall heavily. “He’s not even that much of an asshole, but what I can’t stand is that even though it’s been ages, everything still feels so unresolved.”

Yoongi feels a ringing note of fear thrum down his spine. He thinks about Jaeho, of course he thinks about Jaeho, everything makes him think about Jaeho still because it hasn’t been ages yet, not for them. But Yoongi can see with sudden clarity that time will pass and someday it will have been ages, and he doesn’t want things to feel unresolved by that point. He’s afraid of that happening. He doesn’t even want things to feel unresolved now.

Hoseok pushes himself up on his elbows. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to unload on you.”

Yoongi shakes his head, pulls himself out of his own thoughts. “It’s fine. It’s why I invited you back here.”

Hoseok smiles, a different smile than before. This one is slow and curious and sexy. “Is it?”

“Um.”

Hoseok raises an eyebrow, and Yoongi tries not to give away that all the air in his lungs just got stolen out. He felt less panicked when they were both naked and walking into the ocean. He didn’t take Hoseok to his room for what he’s implying, but he wants that implication so badly that he feels weak from it.

Hoseok pushes himself up to a sitting position, up on his knees and eye-to-eye with Yoongi on the bed. As if he’d read Yoongi’s mind, he asks, “When are you going home?”

Yoongi’s mouth is dry, dry, dry. “My flight is in two days.”

Hoseok covers Yoongi’s hand with his own. “So. If this thing with us is going to happen, don’t you think it should happen… soon?”

It’s the first time either of them have openly acknowledged that there’s any kind of thing between them. Yoongi’s fingers twitch as Hoseok leans toward him, his eyes bright and intent until he closes them, tilting his head, only inches away. Yoongi holds his breath and feels like a teenager.

The kiss is soft, and it stays soft. Hoseok’s mouth is warm and when Yoongi kisses back, he hears a tiny vulnerable noise and realizes it came from himself. Hoseok is noisy, too, nothing loud enough to break the silence of the room, just breathy sighs and cut-off hums and a low rumbly groan that makes Yoongi’s fingers twitch again. He reaches up and tangles a hand in Hoseok’s hair, and Hoseok breaks the kiss to pant two breaths against Yoongi’s cheek. Then he kisses him again, and it’s not soft anymore.

They make out until Yoongi loses his balance and falls onto his back on the bed, Hoseok following him. Then they make out lying down. Then they make out without pants on. Yoongi never wants to stop kissing Hoseok as long as he lives. He almost doesn’t care about Hoseok’s hand on his dick, because Hoseok’s lips against his are another drug entirely, heady and all-consuming. He keeps kissing Hoseok while they jerk each other off, and it’s too bright in this room with the overhead light still on, seashell-patterned wallpaper all Yoongi has to stare at while Hoseok sucks on his neck and touches him with strong fingers. Yoongi’s hips buck helplessly up as he gets close, and he digs his fingers deep into Hoseok’s hair, pulls his head back up to kiss his mouth again before he comes.

***

Afterward, Yoongi’s anxiety settles down on him like a well-worn cloak, familiar with every curve and crook of his body. Hoseok is breathing heavily with his head on Yoongi’s chest, and Yoongi can’t see his face, and he knows that he is in too deep for this to just be some kind of beach vacation fling. He knows that he is in trouble.

Yoongi clears his throat and shifts, trying to maneuver his way towards sitting up without jostling Hoseok too much. “This is your meal break, right? Do you want--can I get you some food? We could order room service, or… you probably don’t want your co-workers to do extra work for you, I just realized. I could walk to the restaurant and get something to go, bring it back here?”

Hoseok twists to face him, blinking in confusion as Yoongi sits up the rest of the way and runs nervous hands through his hair. “Uh, you don’t have to do that.”

“I want to,” Yoongi says. As nice as it is to lie here in postcoital warmth with Hoseok, he desperately needs some air and some space alone to think. “I was thinking I could order the chicken? I haven’t tried it yet and Seokjin mentioned it was good. You can chill out here. Watch some HBO and take your break.”

A slow smile spreads over Hoseok’s face, replacing the frown line between his eyebrows as he listens to Yoongi’s rambling explanation. “You’re sweet. ”

“I’m not. I just want to take care of you,” Yoongi says, and immediately wants to die. He stands up and grabs his pants, avoiding whatever look is on Hoseok’s face and ignoring the obvious blush on his own cheeks. “Okay, so, yeah. Right. I’ll be back soon.”

He walks quickly with his hands shoved in his pockets, sucking down lungfuls of seaside air and trying to think. He knows he’s being irrational. He knows that the smart choice here would be to accept what he had with Hoseok tonight without asking for anything more, to appreciate the physical comfort for what it is and fly back to Seoul in a couple days without looking back. He knows that it makes no sense to want anything more.

It’s his stupid idealism, a personality trait he’s never quite managed to successfully bury, surging up to bite him in the ass like it always does. Making him think that he’s ready for something more than a rebound. Making him think that this thing with Hoseok doesn’t have to end with casual sex and then never seeing each other again.

His heart thumps painfully in his chest when he thinks about the way Hoseok kissed once he really got going, once the softness was gone: urgent but with the kind of deliberate control that made Yoongi want to give him everything. He can’t imagine leaving that behind in two days. He doesn’t want to picture flying away and returning to Seoul and a life devoid of Hoseok’s brightness, his steady strength and energy. His life in Seoul had seemed bleak to him before this trip, but in comparison to what he’s found here it now seems unbearable.

Yoongi has got to find another way.

He orders his food at the bar, getting more fried chicken than two people could possibly eat and dessert for good measure. If nothing else, he can spoil Hoseok tonight. Raspberry Beret is playing at the bar again, and Seokjin hands him his order with raised eyebrows, and Yoongi realizes that he’s got kind of a manic grin on his face.

He coughs and tries to look casual, accepting the bags of food and thanking Seokjin and turning around to almost run right into Jaeho.

Yoongi almost stumbles but doesn’t; Jaeho is the one who takes a step back, looking as disoriented as Yoongi feels. His cheeks are flushed. He must be drunk, his Hawaiian shirt unbuttoned to his navel, and Yoongi looks around but can’t see his new boyfriend anywhere.

“Yoongi. There you are. Here you are.” Jaeho licks his lips and his unfocused eyes zero in on Yoongi’s face. “I’ve been looking for you.”

“You. What?” Yoongi’s heart is still reeling from seeing Jaeho when he didn’t expect it. He’s spent most of the week looking over his shoulder, half-dreading and half-hoping, and this had to happen now when his thoughts are somewhere else entirely. When his thoughts are back in his hotel room, with Hoseok starfished on his bed.

Jaeho closes his eyes, wincing at himself like he’s embarrassed. After all those years living together, Yoongi can still read him like an open book. “Sorry, let me start over. I hated the way we left things, with that fight in the lobby. I wanted to talk to you and apologize, but--the guy at the desk refused to give me your room number.”

Yoongi hears his own breath hitch at the mention of Hoseok at the front desk. It’s probably hotel policy not to give out guests’ room numbers, but he still feels grateful. “So you’ve been…. looking for me.”

Jaeho nods, and this feels like the kind of fantasy that Yoongi has tried not to indulge in: his ex-boyfriend who’d cruelly dumped him coming back, revealing that he’s been searching for him this whole time, wanting the opportunity to apologize. In the fantasies that Yoongi hasn’t been acknowledging, next would be Jaeho saying that breaking up was a mistake. Asking Yoongi to take him back.

“I know that this whole thing has been really unfair to you,” Jaeho says. “And I don’t mean just us being in Hawaii together. I mean--”

“I know what you meant.”

“Right. Yeah. Well--” Jaeho draws himself up and looks Yoongi in the eye. “I’m sorry, about breaking up and how I did the break-up and for being so distant since. You were right when you yelled at me for being disloyal. I haven’t been a good friend to you. I want to do better.”

Yoongi says, “That’s good. That’s nice of you.” He says, “I don’t think we should be friends.”

Jaeho looks distinctly more sober now. His lips part in surprise. “Is this about the guy I was with? Because I meant it when I said that was casual, I barely know him, he just invited me on this thing and--Yoongi, I’ve lived with you since college. You’re like family to me.”

Yoongi grips the plastic bags of food in his hands tighter. He wants to say ‘maybe someday,’ because it’s hard to see Jaeho distraught. But he thinks about the pain of this no-longer-a-relationship drawing out, following him as time marches on. Thinks about it still feeling unresolved, months or years from now.

“I don’t want to give you false hope that I’ll feel better about you someday,” he says. “Sorry. We’re not family anymore.”

Jaeho blinks again, and Yoongi realizes with dread that he might be tearing up. He backs up, bumps into the bar, and tries to walk sideways to get closer to the bar’s exit without shoving past Jaeho. “I’m sorry,” he says again, swallowing back the weirdness of him being the one to apologize to Jaeho. “I should go. I have to go, someone’s waiting on me.”

And Jaeho lets him go.

There’s a strange echo of the out-of-body feeling Yoongi had during their fight in the hotel lobby. Like he briefly became someone else. Like his brain is playing catch-up to some smarter part of him that said the hard things that needed to be said. Yoongi is halfway across the hotel compound to his suite when he stops shaking.

When Yoongi reaches his suite, the lights are off and Hoseok is gone.

***

In the morning, Yoongi sleeps for as long as he can and takes forever to get out of bed. He orders room service breakfast because he doesn’t want to go outside. He feels worse than he has since he got here, fragile and dumb and hurt. Really hurt, way more crushed and shocked than he should be over someone he’s known for such a short time.

His flight is tomorrow. He’s already received the email from Delta informing him he can check in online. It’s deeply upsetting that he’s probably going to leave without seeing Hoseok again, but Yoongi doesn’t know how else to interpret his absence last night other than as a sign of exactly that.

He goes back to his music. There are some chords in his head, and he wishes he had a full keyboard here instead of his travel MIDI, but he plays around for a while as if he had an actual piano under his hands. None of the lyrics he came up with the other day seem right for whatever this is, so Yoongi hums and then tries to improvise, softly singing whatever comes to the top of his head.

It doesn’t sound great, and he starts singing louder in frustration, losing the thread to a refrain about how much he hates himself. Whatever the song was to begin with morphs into him sarcastically berating himself as he lets it out, all the self-loathing and frustration, all the things wrong with himself that he knows led to first Jaeho, and now Hoseok, not sticking around. It becomes a conversation, or rather a yelling match, and when Yoongi’s voice gets hoarse from repeatedly sing-hollering yoongi you suck over and over he cuts off with his forehead thunking down on the keyboard.

Fuck, he accidentally recorded all that. Yoongi feels like throwing the MIDI across the room but instead masochism makes him listen to it. His voice is slurred and he sounds progressively more drunk and sneering as he bellows out his self-hatred over the same four chords, and the overall effect is… actually kind of interesting. It’s funny and darkly ironic and Yoongi can see how it might fit the tone of some of the other things he’s been working on, better than he would have thought. Snippets of it could make a striking intro or a bridge, or if nothing else he could use it as an album skit.

Weirdly, singing about how much he sucks has improved Yoongi’s mood. Enough to go to the beach, anyway. Once he gets in the water, Yoongi feels okay enough to remember things from last night without an immediate crash into misery.

He feels like a moron for all of his hopeful and nervous thoughts about asking Hoseok for something more, something lasting. But he doesn’t regret his last conversation with Jaeho. Yoongi figures that’s something.

Namjoon finds him back on the shore with his legs buried in wet sand, the little girl who’d originally asked for his permission to build a sand coffin over him having long since wandered off to go play in the waves. Instead of freeing himself, Yoongi is sitting here letting his skin slowly roast.

“Yo,” Namjoon says. “Need a hand? You look a little stuck.”

“I’m doing great,” Yoongi says. You could probably fry an egg on his crispy red forehead. Namjoon stands over him, hands in the pockets of his board shorts, nametag glinting in the sunlight. “What are you doing here? I thought you only worked nights.”

“I switched a shift to get tonight off,” Namjoon says. “Because we’re all taking a party boat out and getting drunk. You coming?”

Yoongi stares up at him. It takes him a moment to process the invite. It doesn’t make any sense. “Uh. I don’t think Hoseok would want me there.”

Namjoon looks at him strangely. “You know the rest of us like you too, right? I’ve spent every night this past week listening to you at the bar, you think I do that for everyone? And anyway, Hoseok’s cool with it. He told me to invite you.”

That doesn’t make any sense. Yoongi looks down at the mounds of sand packed onto his legs. “What exactly did he say?”

Namjoon sighs. “I’m not gonna be the mediator, man. I don’t know what’s going on with you guys, I just think you should come and hang out with us. Since it’s your last night and all.”

“Okay,” Yoongi mutters, and starts digging himself out.

***

Jungkook and Seokjin come to collect Yoongi at four p.m. The boat docks a ways away from the hotel, so they have to drive over, and Jungkook insists on giving Yoongi the shotgun seat in Seokjin’s sedan. The other guys, they tell him, are either already there or will be coming as soon as they’re able to wrap up their shifts.

Apparently the six of them do this a lot: rent a speedboat and take it out on evenings when there aren’t any bonfire parties to be had, or when they just need to spend some time on the water. They get a good deal on the boat because Seokjin is fucking a guy that works at the fishing tourism company that rents it out. Taehyung is usually the one driving the boat (“steering the boat,” Jimin corrects Yoongi gently), but gets replaced by someone else whenever he starts mouthing off about how he should be referred to as ‘captain.’

Yoongi has never been on a boat in the open ocean before. It’s very pretty, the sun starting to sink lower in the pinkening sky as Taehyung takes them further out to sea. They set a course around the island, getting further and further away from the hotel and the city, and the developed and glitzy shoreline transitions into lush jungle and green cliffs. It’s so beautiful.

Someone handed him a beer when he first got onto the boat, and Yoongi has already drained it. He hasn’t spoken to Hoseok alone yet. Hoseok was already there when Yoongi and Seokjin and Jungkook arrived, and he’d smiled at Yoongi like they didn’t hook up the night before, like Hoseok hadn’t left him afterwards. He’s pretending that nothing happened between them, and Yoongi figures he can do the same thing, but he wants to be drunk for it.

The sun is deep orange and setting low over the horizon line, and Yoongi is almost finished with his second beer, when Hoseok appears at his elbow. “Hey, hyung,” he says in a cheerful, cheesy voice. It sounds fake, the first time Hoseok’s happy voice has sounded fake to Yoongi’s ears, even faker than his customer service voice. The good-natured smile on his face falters when Yoongi glares at him.

“Hey,” Yoongi says, trying to fix his face. He hadn’t meant to glare. He knows he doesn’t really have a right to be glaring, here. “Thanks for, uh. Namjoon told me that you were the one who suggested inviting me to this.”

Hoseok scratches at the back of his neck and looks out over the boat’s railing, where the water smacks the hull in choppy little waves. “I wanted you to have a good time. A good end to your vacation.”

Yoongi blows out a long breath. Hoseok is wearing one of the tropical print shirts that Yoongi remembers seeing in the gift shop, and the bright orange printed flowers shouldn’t look good against his skin tone, but they do. He glows.

“Okay,” Yoongi says. Can’t think of anything else to add.

Hoseok swallows. Yoongi listens to everything he can hear that isn’t the words neither of them are saying: The stereo at the other end of the boat is playing Destiny’s Child, from a Spotify playlist someone had queued up called ‘90s Summer Pool Party.’ A few feet away from them, Namjoon is standing by himself at the bow and singing along, drunkenly but not too off-key, a beer can in his hand as he spreads out his arms to the sunset and the ocean. There’s the wind. The sound of seagulls. The sound of the motor, quieter now that Taehyung has slowed them down.

Eventually, Hoseok speaks. “I’m sorry about last night.”

Yoongi considers and discards several possible things to say: Don’t worry about it and What the fuck and What did I do wrong? He lands on, “I had a good time. I liked hanging out with you. I don’t know why you left.”

Hoseok looks at him with his mouth in a straight line, too serious, out of character for the way he usually looks. “Um, Seokjin texted me. That you were talking to your ex at the bar.”

“Oh.”

“It’s fine if you were,” Hoseok says. “You’re allowed, obviously, you didn’t do anything wrong. But I freaked out last night. I wasn’t even mad, just--it was something of a reality check.”

Yoongi notes dimly that Namjoon is gone, that he quietly slipped away to the back of the boat with the others, giving them privacy. Yoongi has rocks weighing down his stomach, pebbles sticking in his throat. “What kind of reality check?”

Finally Hoseok smiles a little bit, but it’s not a happy smile. “You have this whole life. Not just your ex, I mean. You’re going back to Seoul, and it’s not like I forgot about that, but… I thought we could hook up without it bothering me. I was wrong.”

All the words Yoongi had rehearsed in his head on the walk from the hotel bar back to his room last night come rushing back. All his half-brained hopes and schemes for how he can keep Hoseok in his life instead of letting him go. “All I said to Jaeho last night was that I didn’t want to be friends. That was it. I don’t want to talk to him anymore, I don’t want to let things be unresolved.”

Hoseok opens and closes his mouth. “Oh.”

Yoongi feels off-kilter and clumsy, and like he might start panicking soon because he doesn’t know how to make this right or say what he wants. What he feels. Willing himself not to shake, he puts his hand next to Hoseok’s hand on the railing. Their pinkies touch.

“I really like you. I wanted to tell you that last night, that I--maybe I do have this whole life and I’m going back to Seoul, but I really like you. Last night wasn’t just some fling for me. I care about you.” Yoongi wills himself to stop talking, and doesn’t have enough willpower left afterward to keep looking Hoseok in the eye. He stares down at their hands, breathing hard through the prickling heat in his face, trying not to hope too hard when Hoseok brushes their fingers closer together.

“Oh, that’s. I didn’t realize,” Hoseok says, his voice watery. Yoongi looks up to see Hoseok staring at him with wide eyes. He looks young. “I feel the same way? I feel--” Hoseok breaks off and laughs a little, turns away to drain the can of beer in his other hand and set it purposefully on the boat’s floor before turning back to Yoongi, cupping his face in his hands, and kissing him.

The kiss isn’t long or deep. “What do you want to do?” Hoseok asks quietly. His thumb slides over Yoongi’s cheekbone, his fingers tangle in Yoongi’s hair.

Yoongi swallows. “I have a lot of vacation time saved up. I never took a day off before this trip for like, four years. I could--I could come back? Soon, not immediately but in a month maybe….”

Hoseok kisses him again and Yoongi pulls him in this time, holds him. Disbelief and the beginnings of hope stir down his body, from his lips to his throat to his sternum, alerting every point in his nervous system.

“And maybe--I don’t know--it’s not like I’m happy with my job, I could use a break, maybe… maybe I could come here and work on my own songs for a while, or--or something--”

Hoseok gasps a little bit and presses his mouth against the corner of Yoongi’s jaw, just below his ear. “Holy shit. Are you talking about moving here?”

“I know it sounds crazy,” Yoongi admits.

Hoseok pulls back, his eyes searching Yoongi’s face and his eyebrows pulled together in concern. “I’m the last person to tell anyone what sounds crazy. And I love having you here, and I’d love…” He blushes, redness spreading across his face and up his ears in a way that Yoongi finds horribly endearing. “I just would feel awful asking you to do that for me. I don’t want to fuck things up for you.”

Yoongi shakes his head. From the other side of the boat, he hears Seokjin’s voice rise shrilly as he hits a high note in whatever they’re singing along to. “Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Just--kiss me again?”

Hoseok laughs, and Yoongi changes his mind quickly and doesn’t wait to be kissed again. He kisses Hoseok first, capturing laughter in his mouth and feeling the warmth in Hoseok’s cheeks against his fingertips.

***

Yoongi’s last day happens to coincide with a day off for Hoseok. Yoongi would be happy to spend the whole day indoors--he hasn’t even been to Hoseok’s place yet, and that seems like something he should probably do if they’re going to try a relationship for real--but Hoseok insists on taking him into Honolulu proper, showing him around the downtown area and the beach boardwalks because Yoongi hasn’t gone into the city at all yet.

“The shopping is all pretty touristy, but it’s fun,” Hoseok says with a grin. Yoongi already knows there are more matching tropical shirts in his future. “And then I’ll show you my apartment in the afternoon, okay? Not that there’s much to see, it’s tiny. Not very impressive. Showing it to you is gonna take all of five minutes.”

“I want to see it because it’s yours.” Yoongi takes Hoseok’s hand, and enjoys the bashful smile he gets in return.

Yoongi says goodbye to the other guys as he leaves his room, a warmth glowing in his chest at how they all seem genuinely sorry to see him go.

“I know Hoseok is too cautious to just tell you to move here,” Seokjin says after hugging Yoongi goodbye. “But I don’t care about that so I’ll say that you should definitely move here and be with your island prince charming and hang out with us all the time.”

Hoseok squawks and hits him and Yoongi laughs, a little embarrassed but mostly pleased.

 

He and Hoseok spend the morning wandering in and out of tourist shops, people-watching and laughing about dumb souvenirs. Hoseok shows him what is apparently a famous statue. They check out the boardwalk, already crowded in the middle of a weekday morning. They walk down the boardwalk with soft-serve ice cream cones, dripping and melting over Yoongi’s knuckles. Hoseok makes a joke about licking it off and then actually licks it off, and Yoongi can’t hold back his giggles, his shoulders shaking while he pretends to complain as Hoseok inspects his hand for any further ice cream drips. Young families walk past them and a little girl sees his dramatic moans and laughter and imitates him, laughing loud and shrieking kind of horse-like before her mother pulls her along.

Hoseok finds them matching hats to buy instead of shirts this time, and matching sandals that have little crabs printed all over them. And they get matching henna temporary tattoos, which is actually Yoongi’s suggestion, to his own surprise. As soon as they wander into the shop and start paging through the book of options, still treating it like a joke that they’ll abandon in the next few minutes, Yoongi thinks about having a reminder of Hoseok on his skin, something that won’t fade for days and days even once he gets back to Seoul.

Yoongi’s first inclination, embarrassingly, is to get matching heart tattoos, but Hoseok shrieks when he sees a sea turtle with a peace sign on its shell. “We can get these, with our initials under it and a heart surrounding the whole thing,” he says, excitedly jabbing his finger at the tattoo book.

“Yeah,” Yoongi says, his heart rising up through his throat and floating somewhere above his body. “Yeah, sure, twist my arm.”

Hoseok takes him home after lunch. Yoongi’s flight is in about five hours, which he doesn’t want to think about. Hoseok lives in a large apartment complex that’s just a ten minute drive from the hotel. Apparently a lot of hotel employees live here, Hoseok describes it as basically a miniature village that the hotel might as well own, and he seems embarrassed as he pulls into his parking space. Yoongi doesn’t get why.

“I’m going to guess that where you live in Seoul isn’t in a place like this,” Hoseok says as they climb the steps to 5H.

“My old apartment was pretty nice,” Yoongi corrects him. “But then I had to find a new place in a hurry and I no longer live with a movie star. So trust me, I’m not living anywhere glamorous.”

“Mm, can a guy with one drama under his belt be called a movie star?” Hoseok says, and Yoongi appreciates his pettiness.

Yoongi likes Hoseok’s apartment, he doesn’t care what Hoseok says. He likes that there’s sand in the entryway and swim trunks drying in the shower and a cheesy ‘Aloha’ poster that Hoseok clearly bought at a souvenir stand hanging in the entryway. Other than the sand, which Hoseok says is truly impossible to keep out when you work on the beach, it’s very neat and tidy.

Yoongi likes Hoseok’s bed. It’s where they spend most of the hours before Yoongi has to be at the airport. He likes making Hoseok feel good, likes seeing Hoseok naked, likes watching his ass as he walks from the bedroom to the bathroom to clean up before coming back to bed to snuggle. He even likes the whirr of the ceiling fan as they lie on top of the sheets and talk quietly, pillow talk that Yoongi loses track of, drifting from topic to topic and sometimes not saying anything at all, just snickering laughter and nonsense words.

“I already feel like I’ve known you for a very long time,” Yoongi confesses late in the day, after glancing at the (surf-themed) clock on the wall and realizing that they only have half an hour before he should get ready to go.

Hoseok makes a soft noise and nudges Yoongi’s head down with a hand on the back of his neck, until Yoongi’s cheek rests on Hoseok’s pecs. “I know what you mean,” Hoseok says. “I feel it too. I don’t know how it happened so fast, but I think we know each other.”

Yoongi closes his eyes. He thinks about Jaeho, and how well he knew him after so many years, so that even the thought process that Jaeho explained for why he dumped him wasn’t much of a surprise. This isn’t the same kind of knowing, it’s very new, barely a week old. But it feels different in a good way. Yoongi doesn’t wish for anything else instead.

Hoseok takes him to the airport and they linger outside of the security line, pretending that the minutes aren’t ticking by. There is nothing romantic about the Honolulu airport, nothing nice about the stale air and A/C working overtime in the heat, but Yoongi thinks that Hoseok somehow looks good even under fluorescent lighting. Hoseok got their henna tattoo on his ankle, curving up his calf, and he’s wearing shorts so Yoongi can glance down and see it when they’re just standing around.

“So was it a good trip?” Hoseok jokes, shades of his customer service voice coming through. “Did you enjoy beautiful Hawaii?” he says, in English, and Yoongi kicks him lightly in the shin.

“You know, I think I did,” he says. “I feel refreshed. Uplifted. A new lease on life.”

“That’s good,” Hoseok says. “I’m happy to hear that. You seemed so down when you first checked in.”

“Well,” Yoongi says, slipping his hands into his pockets and looking down, self-conscious. “You caught me at a particularly down moment.”

He feels Hoseok’s hand on his cheek, looks up into kind eyes. Yoongi swallows. “A down moment that I was in for… a while.”

“Call me if you start feeling down again,” Hoseok says. “Or come see me a month from now. You could do that too.”

“I’m going to see if I can book my next flight using the plane’s wi-fi,” Yoongi says, feeling goofy.

Hoseok laughs, and kisses him, and kisses him a few more times before they reluctantly acknowledge that it’s time for Yoongi to go.

He has a window seat for the return flight, so he can watch as the city and then the island and then the coast get smaller and smaller. Yoongi keeps looking until it disappears beneath clouds.

***

Yoongi watches the view out the airplane window as they land in Honolulu. There are butterflies in his stomach, and he feels lightheaded for a second when he stands up to get his luggage out of the overhead. He didn’t eat on the flight because he was too nervous, excited, impatient--feels like every possible emotion made its home beneath his skin at some point during this nine hour flight.

It’s been a long month since his first trip to Hawaii. He and Hoseok texted each other every day and tried to call often, but the time difference made it difficult to have real conversations. Yoongi had missed him badly, and it seemed that everywhere he looked was another sign that the chapter of his life in Seoul was finished for now, and there was somewhere else he needed to be. Other people he needed to be with.

The best part of the long-distance relationship had been the postcards. Hoseok’s idea: Yoongi had arrived home from work one night, less than a week after getting back from his trip but already so drained from returning to work. When he checked the mail, he had a postcard from Hoseok, the first of what would be many.

It was a stylized illustration of lush green cliffs and coastline, pretty rather than cheesy. The message from Hoseok was short, scribbled in nearly illegible Hangul: Hyung! I saw this and thought of you. The guys say hello and they miss you. I miss you too! I haven’t gone swimming because I want my tattoo to last. Can’t wait to see you, Your Hoseokie. There were little hearts scribbled around the text.

Yoongi knew then that he was going to move. Maybe it wouldn’t be immediate, maybe he wouldn’t tell Hoseok right away, and he didn’t know how long it would take him to wrap up things at his current job and draft a plan for work in the future. There were so many uncertain things he needed to figure out, but he knew. He already knew.

Waiting in the customs line at the airport, Yoongi tries to remember that certainty he’d felt. It’s not gone, his feelings haven’t changed, it’s just that it’s hard not to worry. He’s sleep-deprived and needs a shower and has been standing in line for too long, and it’s getting harder to ignore the part of him that’s terrified Hoseok won’t be here for him; that it was all some kind of fever dream, induced by getting more sunlight in a week than he did all year. What if Hoseok’s feelings have faded since Yoongi left? What if they were never as strong as Yoongi’s in the first place? What if all the text messages and calls and postcards had been sent out of polite, guilty obligation, and now that Yoongi’s actually here--and staying at Hoseok’s apartment, too--he’ll just be counting the days till he’s gone again?

By the time Yoongi has been officially allowed into the country, he feels so frazzled that he contemplates ducking into an airport coffee shop to get an americano and put off this reunion for at least a few more minutes. But the strength of anxiety isn’t quite a match for his impatience to see Hoseok. He steps into Baggage Claim undercaffeinated and tense, scanning the crowds of people standing around bored or holding signs with passengers’ names on them.

Hoseok doesn’t have a sign, and Yoongi is looking in the wrong direction and almost misses him until he hears his name called out joyfully, then staggers under the weight of Hoseok’s arms around him. Yoongi drops his carry on to hug him back, every thought exploding into exclamation points as the breath gets squeezed from his body.

And then Hoseok kisses him, and Yoongi’s fears sift out of him like sand carried out by the sea.

“You’re here,” Hoseok says, full of wonder. His grin is so huge it would look goofy on anyone else. On him it’s perfect.

“I’m here,” Yoongi says. “I’m here, I made it. Hi.”

He kisses Hoseok again, and then Hoseok kisses him, and then they hold each other tightly. Yoongi’s hand is in Hoseok’s hair and he can feel sand in it, the crunchy texture that means Hoseok was in the ocean this morning.

“I just came back for the surfing lessons,” Yoongi says when they finally pull apart. “And the hotel cocktails with those little umbrellas in them. I really can’t get enough of those.”

Hoseok smiles at him like he hears what Yoongi’s not saying, like he knows how much Yoongi missed him. He must know: from the way Yoongi’s still holding on, from the bags at his feet, from the fact that Yoongi really did book this flight a month ago on the plane back to Seoul. So impatient to get back to the beach where he’d left most of his heart.

“Understandable, those drinks are delicious,” Hoseok says, his eyes sparkling.Yoongi grabs his hand and squeezes it. “Are you ready? Then let’s go.”