COMPLAINT LETTER #123552
TO: THE EMPLOYEES IN ADMISSIONS BOOTH #1994
FROM THE DESK OF MIN YOONGI,
REGARDING THE RECENT COMPLAINTS OF EXCESSIVE NOISE, FIGHTING AND UNRULINESS:
We here at East Admissions Office zealously believe in encouraging friendly relations between those of Hell, those of Heaven and those in-between. However, we have been receiving an excessive amount of complaint letters regarding excessive noise, general fighting and unruliness from your co-workers. Upon investigation, these complains are not unfounded.
Henceforth, please refrain from doing the following:
- Throwing things at each other from across the hallways.
- Trying to stick each other into the blender in the backroom.
- Turning your booth into a warzone.
- Bringing lethal and dangerous weapons into the workplace.
- Stealing each other’s lunchboxes.
- Using each other as target practice for archery, knife throwing or bowling.
- Using increasingly complicated words to confuse the other. For posterity, a blatherskite means a person who talks at great length but do not make much sense.
- Being general assholes to each other.
We appreciate your cooperation. Do note that if you choose to ignore this, disciplinary action will be taken into consideration in collaboration with HR. It’s in your best interests to stop being insufferable assholes to each other as soon as possible.
Head of Security
East Admissions Office
Through the thick wooden door of Admissions Booth #1994, the sound of a string quartet filters into the hallway. It’s muffled from the door that separates the land of the living from the land of the in-between, but it’s loud enough for it to be the first thing a newly deceased person walking down this hallway would hear.
It’s also loud enough to drown out the incessant shouting that comes from Admissions Booth #1994 , which is of great relief to Admissions Booth #1993 and Admissions Booth #1995, who both suffered tremendously during the first century, and continue to suffer to this day.
Yoongi pauses, his hand on the doorknob. He thinks about knocking, knows that they wouldn’t hear it, and shoves the door open.
He enters a scene of abject chaos.
On the right side of the black line of electrical tape that divides the room into half, there is an angel with his white and black wings puffed up and pointed at the other side in an outright display of aggression. His desk has been up-ended onto one side and he’s crouched behind it, aiming a newly sharpened pencil at the demon on the left side.
Said demon on the left side hasn’t bothered to upturn his desk. His black tail swishes violently in the air, and he appears to be constructing a fort made out of a pile of books, three open binders and a lot of sticky tape. There’s tape stuck in his red hair and his eyes are narrowed seriously in concentration, tongue jutting out as he adds another binder to his tower.
There’s a moment of silence in which Hoseok’s eyes flit towards Yoongi’s and Namjoon’s wings puff up and regard the outsider. In that moment of distraction Namjoon throws the pencil and Hoseok bats it out of the air and Yoongi says, quietly but with a lot of presence, “for god’s sake, will you two just do your jobs?”
Hoseok’s tail curls around the pencil that’s landed on the floor and flings it at Yoongi, but the guard just steps neatly out of the way and lets the pencil stab itself into the wall.
“Worth a shot,” he says, and falls into his chair when Yoongi glares daggers at him. Namjoon flies into the air when he tries to move and gets forced into his chair for his troubles, grumbling the whole time.
“I hate it when you pull your guard powers,” says Namjoon plaintively as the table rights itself and Hoseok’s binder starts to unstick itself from the table. The sound of sticky tape ripping from the wood of the desk causes him to wince. “It feels wrong.”
Yoongi raises an eyebrow and Namjoon squirms in his seat. Hoseok snickers so Yoongi shoves him into the back wall. “You two have been nothing but pains in my side for nearly two centuries and I might be an immortal policing presence,” he pauses to comically zip shut Hoseok’s lips when he opens his mouth to speak again. “But I have my limits too. Have you gotten anything done today?”
“We passed three people,” Namjoon says obediently. Hoseok makes a muffled noise against his zipped up lips and Yoongi sighs, waving his hand to lets him go.
“You know I hate it when you do that,” he complains immediately, rubbing at his lips. “It always makes me feel like I’m about to die for the second time.”
“Oh, you can feel things? That’s a surprise.”
“Your comeback game, Namjoon, is so weak it’s physically paining me,” Hoseok snarls. The whole room shakes when Yoongi slams his palm against the wall, making the two of them sit up straighter.
“You can only clock out when you’ve cleared fifty people,” Yoongi seethes, removing his hand from the wall, where there’s a Yoongi-sized palm print now permanently in the drywall. HR is going to find a way to blame them for it, though. As if they had any control where Yoongi slammed his palm next — Hoseok eyes the Yoongi-foot shaped dent in the floor next to the wastepaper basket with trepidation.
“Wait what?” They both argue at the same time, then look annoyed that they had a similar thought to each other. God forbid they act anything like the other.
“The other booths only do thirty!”
“This is your fault,” Namjoon picks up another pencil and twirls it around before sticking it behind his ear. “I told you you shouldn’t threaten Yoongi the next time he came around.”
“You told me jack shit,” Hoseok picks up a pen and an angrily scratches at another file. “Maybe you shouldn’t have passed the previous guy. You’re too giving.”
“That’s usually a good thing.”
“It is not,” Hoseok presses the next button next to him and Namjoon jumps as the loud buzzer sounds in for their next client, nearly losing the pen in his hands to the ceiling.
“Fuck you,” he complains. “You know I hate the buzzer.”
“Fuck you,” Hoseok twirls a pen around his fingers and sticks out his tongue. “Gladly.”
Namjoon turns bright red and hisses at him. Yoongi turns around, throwing his hands up into the air — the guard had infinite patience added onto his list of abilities, but apparently even infinite patience wears thin around the notorious troublemakers of room #1994. He stomps out of the room, slamming the door behind him, and the room falls silent.
Namjoon says to the silence, “it’s still your fault,” and gets a binder in the face for it. He tosses a file at him, and the shouting resumes.
Yoongi thunks his head on the wall and tries not to cry.
When Hoseok turns up to work the next day, he walks in to Namjoon strapped to his chair and his first thought is oh, it’s my lucky day, but he looks surprisingly distressed and concerned for Hoseok, which has him freezing in the middle of the doorway. The leather buckles that wind their way across his broad shoulders and trap his wings in between him and the chair do not look friendly, and only fifty percent sexy.
Hoseok would suggest using red leather if they wanted it to be a hundred percent like his fantasies.
“Why is my favourite angel all trussed up like a present on Christmas day?” He asks, his tail readying itself for a fight, appearing over the edge of his shoulder. “It’s for me, is it?”
“Are demons ever given gifts?” Yoongi asks, his gruff voice growing louder as he steps out of the darkness like something menacing. He thinks it is supposed to be, but Yoongi is Yoongi and he was here when he was still trying to sort out his powers.
However, despite Yoongi’s lack of intimidation, he is proud to say he turns tail, quite literally, attempting to bolt out of the guard’s sphere of influence before he got a good grip. However, from seemingly out of nowhere, there’s a hand that grips his tail and yanks him back, sending him sprawling to the ground. He whirls around, snarling — and into the eyes of Jimin, one of the only demons who would dare to pull his tail. He's an asshole and likes to watch Hoseok suffer.
Yoongi taps his shoulder and he floats, flying back into Admissions Booth #1994 kicking and growling until he’s seated in a chair and the same pale leather wraps their buckles around his chest, arms and feet. Only his left hand can rotate itself.
“In my dreams, I’m not usually the one tied up, but I guess a little role reversal doesn’t hurt, does it, Yoongi-chi?”
Yoongi gives him a glare that sucks all the energy out of him. Rude. “Me and Seokjin,” he starts to explain, pulling out a chair and swinging it around to sit in it backwards like this was some bad cop interrogation scene.
Seokjin, the angel who heads HR and is as imposing as he is beautiful, walks through the doorway to stand behind Yoongi, one hand on his shoulder, looking a little peeved as he eyes the room, lingering on the Yoongi-sized dents that decorate it.
“Seokjin and I,” says Hoseok, shit-eating grin on his face.
Yoongi gives him another withering look and a buckle unwraps itself from behind the chair, coming up to cover his mouth. He makes an unhappy growling noise into the gag, but Yoongi continues undeterred.
“Seokjin and I have decided on a suitable punishment for you two,” Yoongi looks delighted telling them this. Hoseok side-eyes Namjoon, but it’s clear from his wide, shocked eyes he knows nothing. Their chairs shift a little closer together until their fingers are brushing.
“What the fuck,” says Hoseok into the gag. It sounds more like warthefufei so Yoongi pays it zero attention.
“Your punishment,” Seokjin says, “is to hold hands for an hour.”
He and Yoongi high-five. The sound is loud in the room.
The two of them look at each other in horror. Hoseok feels mildly offended; it’s not that much of a punishment to hold his hand. His hand is manicured, thank you, he got his nails painted this morning. He wonders if Namjoon put on the hand-cream he always uses, the one that is supposed to smell like peaches but just smells like old ladies and the pervasive scent of death. He hopes not.
“If you refuse,” Yoongi says, “then you’re going to have to make a public apology to rooms 1993 and 1995. Specifically —“
“Taehyung and Jimin,” Seokjin finishes. “And Jeonggukie, the new guard intern who is scared shitless of coming here.”
“A public apology,” Yoongi emphasises. Hoseok will punch him when this is done. “It’ll be at the next staff meeting in three days. What do you think?”
Hoseok looks at Namjoon who looks at him with repulsion. Despite the front of aggression, his hand uncurls and holds it open for Hoseok to slide into.
Namjoon makes a muffled sound around his gag and he grits his teeth before he takes it.
The tips of his fingers are cold, but the palm is warm. Long spindly fingers, wide-set nails. Hoseok hates them.
“I’ve started the timer,” Yoongi says, holding up an old-fashioned clock that ticks loudly. “It won’t take you two long.”
“It’s just an hour,” Seokjin continues sweetly, standing up to pull Yoongi from the room. “As soon as Yoongi is out of the room, those bonds will fall away. Any, any arguing during that time will reset the timer back to the start. Do not test me, Hoseok, Namjoon.”
Hoseok gives him his best please die again face. Seokjin laughs, tugs Yoongi out into the corridor, and shuts the door behind him.
Five minutes later, the buckles become useless, undoing to lie flat by their sides. Namjoon and Hoseok look at each other, but neither of them make any attempt to bolt. Hoseok sighs and drags his right hand down his face.
I’ll be honest with you,” he starts.
“Wow, is it your first time doing that?” Namjoon asks. “If you’d like to save it for a special occasion, I won’t be offended.”
Namjoon doesn’t apologise and he sighs.
“I was going to say this wasn’t what I expected when I turned up for work today, but thank you for your astounding humour,” he tugs on his hand. “Have I mentioned that I hate your hand cream?”
Namjoon tugs on their palms too. “You have mentioned it —” he leans over and opens a drawer. He pulls out a thick notebook, carefully annotated with sticky tabs. He flips to one labelled in pink. “Five thousand, six hundred and forty-nine times since I first brought it twenty years ago. Congrats on the five thousand, six hundred and fiftieth time. I never thought I’d see the day.”
He doesn’t know what to say to that — it’s what infuriates him most about Namjoon, the fact that he always has receipts. Instead he growls and shakes their joined palms.
“Let’s talk about something,” says Namjoon five minutes into their silence.
“I don’t know,” Namjoon leans back in his chair. “How sweaty your palms are.”
Hoseok looks down at their joined hands. “It’s not sweat,” he says, and Namjoon raises an eyebrow. “It’s hand cream. Lavender scented. You should try some,” he winks and Namjoon flinches. Hoseok visibly sinks.
“Lavender hurts my nose,” Namjoon sniffs. He sneezes right on cue and he can’t decide if he has supremely good timing or he’s faking.
“Alright, stinky ass bitch,” he looks away. “Suffer then.”
They lapse back into silence. Namjoon leans over and picks up a book, which he starts to flip through. It’s filled with pages and pages of his handwriting, bright and bubbly. He flips through the book and crosses out certain words, replacing it with different variations of the same thing. Hoseok watches with mild curiosity.
The pages are so yellow and the ink on the earlier pages so faded it seems he’s had this book for a long time. Hoseok has seen it before — taken out on breaks and sometimes used to whack Hoseok’s head with, but he’s never paid it much attention.
“What are you writing?”
“Oh, now he asks,” Namjoon raises an eyebrow. “It’s been forty years.”
“Forget it,” he says immediately and Namjoon huffs, flipping a thin page.
“It’s my book,” Namjoon says, after a while. “I’m writing a novel.”
“Why the fuck has it taken you forty years?” He asks, leaning forward to peer closer at the pages. Seemingly subconsciously, Namjoon’s hand tightens around Hoseok’s fingers, like he’s nervous about Hoseok looking.
“I’m a perfectionist,” Namjoon sniffs. Hoseok raises an eyebrow. “I keep putting it off,” he admits, and Hoseok laughs.
“Dude, putting something off for forty years is some supreme procrastination,” he peers at the words. “I don’t think anything I’ve done will ever topped that.”
Namjoon laughs too, short and light. Hoseok realises with a start this is the first time in centuries he’s heard him laugh and feels vaguely annoyed at both the fact that Yoongi’s plan is working and that his laugh doesn’t sound as stupid as he imagined.
“It’s interesting because you can see my handwriting change,” Namjoon shifts to flip the page and his hand nearly slips out of his, causing the latter to yank hard on it, his claws digging slightly into the soft skin. “Ouch! Sorry, I had that coming.”
Hoseok’s eye twitches. “Don’t apologise to me, it’s weird,” he says, and Namjoon raises both his eyebrows.
“Can’t handle a little affection demon boy?” Namjoon teases, making him bristle. “My wittle honeybunchkins demon baby—hey!”
“No yelling!” He hisses, free hand moving to clap over his mouth from where he’d been trying to reach for the book. Namjoon licks at his palm and Hoseok retracts it, cringing. “If you yell they’ll restart the clock.”
“Then don’t grab my book,” Namjoon pouts, closing it gently and putting the large buckle over it. “It’s delicate.”
“It’s forty years old,” Hoseok says, taking it from Namjoon with his tail and watching the angel squeak out of fear. He brings it into his lap and puts his palm flat over it.
Namjoon watches him, hesitant.
“Procrastination, you say?” He asks, long fingers skimming over the spine. “That’s why it’s so old?”
“Yeah,” Namjoon slowly relaxes as he, unlike anything else of Namjoon’s he’s held before, handles the book gently. “Sometimes words don’t come either.”
“I get that,” he murmurs, then gets up, tucking the book under one arm to put it back onto the desk. Now that that event is over, both of them slowly sink into a monotonous silence.
Hoseok closes his eyes and leans back. “Let me know when the time’s up” he says, and Namjoon presumably nods, because he doesn’t say much in return.
Hoseok awakes to someone cooing ooh, isn’t this cute and goes through about three moments of an out-of-body experience before he remembers where he is. He sits up and rubs at his eyes — his left is awkwardly occupied, and when he looks, Namjoon’s hand is still loosely clasped in his, his head resting on his shoulder.
He flinches back from the halo glowing in his face and Yoongi laughs. “Don’t you two look comfortable.”
“Oh, shut up,” he grumbles. He’s far too old to be falling asleep in chairs and his back hurts. “Is it over?”
Seokjin rolls his eyes. “Yes, Hoseok, it’s over,” and he immediately drops Namjoon’s hand so quickly that Namjoon rolls over and nearly falls off the chair. He awakes, yelping, grabbing onto Hoseok’s arm for security.
“Oh,” he says, slightly sleep-hoarse. “Is an hour over?” Hoseok shrugs him off and he nearly goes pitching over the other side again.
“It’s been two hours,” Yoongi says, fishing an old-fashioned watch out of his breast pocket. “But we thought we’d let you two sleep in.”
“Thanks,” he says snidely, at the same time as Namjoon gripes, “so generous.”
The two look at each other. Namjoon offers a tentative fistbump. Hoseok sneers at it, so Namjoon grabs his hand and forcibly fistbumps him.
“The only time those two are somewhat united,” Seokjin sighs, fingers playing with the hair on Yoongi’s neck. “Is when they’re complaining about you.”
“Common hatred,” Hoseok nods.
“More binding than a blood contract,” Namjoon adds on. This time, he fistbumps him willingly.
Yoongi sighs and rubs at his temples. He says, “better than them always fighting,” and stands to go. “I’ll see you two later. Get some work done.”
The two of them watch him go sullenly.
“Get back to your side,” Namjoon shifts his chair closes to his table. “You’re past the electrical tape.”
“Fuck you,” Hoseok doesn’t get off the chair and instead shifts it over by dragging his feet, making a loud screeeeech noise as the legs of the chair drag on the floor. Namjoon rolls his eyes. “I thought we had a bonding moment.”
“We held hands for two hours,” Namjoon deadpans. “Is that a bonding moment?”
“Yes,” he picks up his pen and twirls it around with his fingers. “I mean, what else would constitute a bonding moment?”
“Like,” Namjoon gestures vaguely. “A hug?”
“I don’t know,” Namjoon snaps. “Just send in the next person already.”
“Alright, Mr. Grouchypants,” his top lip curls. “Didn’t know you were such an asshole when you wake up.”
“One more word, Hoseok, and I will throw this — hello. Welcome to the first step to the afterlife. Please take a seat, and don’t mind the belts on the floor! There was a dramatic event earlier and the clean-up here is terrible. You should complain to HR.”
Hoseok doesn’t frequent human bars much, but after the events of today he’s decided he deserves it, at least just this once. The bar open to angels and demons in his sector sits directly on a ley line that runs through the very heart of Seoul — ironically called Heaven’s Sin.
The apple cider that Hoseok has is so sweet it clogs his throat, but it’s better than the whiskey he sees the other humans drinking — a group of teenagers in the corner appear to be having a drinking competition, and he dimly wonders if he’d see any of them in his admissions booth later.
When the first sounds of yelling starts, he pays it zero attention. Humans are loud in their desire to be given attention, so he continues to swirl his apple cider around and wonder if he should ask the bartender for a little umbrella to put in it so he could feel a little bit more special.
The yelling increases in volume. There’s a nagging voice in the back of Hoseok’s head that sounds suspiciously like Yoongi — when he lifts his head up and turns towards the door, what was once just unintelligible noise condenses into a familiar screech.
It’s Namjoon who is yelling.
He blinks, trying to decipher the direction the noise is coming from. There’s some private rooms in the back — Namjoon’s voice increases into something that sounds like stay away and Hoseok stands up from the bar.
Pushing through the crowd of people dancing on the floor, Hoseok makes it to the corridors at the back and brisk walks through, concern growing when Namjoon’s yells suddenly seem to stop.
There is only one room occupied.
He considers the wooden door for a moment, and when he tries the handle it’s locked.
It’s a good thing being in places where he’s clearly not wanted has never stopped him, because he kicks the door open and steps inside, dusting off his jacket like it’s another day at the bar.
Four demons stop dead and turn to look at him.
Namjoon, along with two other angels, stand in a corner of the room, wings puffed up, feathers angled sharply at the demons. The black in his wings is so strong against the light grey and brown of the other angels he almost looks like he’s a demon himself.
“This is interesting,” Hoseok says. The room is so silent you could hear a pin drop — when he makes eye contact with Namjoon, the angel doesn’t look away from him. Doesn’t even tell him to go away, to mind his own business, to get lost. Gone is the usual heat from his eyes.
Something about this entire set-up feels so out of place it makes him anxious. “Namjoon, darling, care to tell me what’s going on?”
Namjoon doesn’t reply. He looks down and Hoseok follows his eyes to a black box that looks like it’s been hastily kicked under the table. He wonders what’s inside.
“What’s in the box, gentlemen?” He asks, because he has zero impulse control if Yoongi or Namjoon aren’t there to smack him. “Come on now, you can show me, I’m one of you. I’ve got the tail,” his black tail swishes out behind him, curling against his thigh. “I got the horns,” he points at the curly nibs in his hair. “I even got the talons, but I’m not going to bring that out because it’ll ruin my nail job.”
A demon laughs and breaks the silence. “You wanna know what’s in the box?”
“Sure,” Hoseok stuffs his hands into his pockets and rocks back on his heels. “I wanna know what’s in the box.”
The four demons look at each other, then someone brings the box out from under the table. When he opens it, Hoseok whistles, the angels flinch, and somewhere Hoseok knows there’s a very angry blacksmith just waiting to get his hands on a thief.
“Angel blade,” he drawls. “Very nice. Can I pick this up?”
“No,” says a demon. He doesn’t look to be in-charge, and says this with about as much authority as a fish would to a shark.
“Fair enough,” he replies. “What were you going to do with it? Gonna scare them? Kill them?”
Namjoon’s hand twitches against his thigh. Hoseok zeroes in on him and finds that, unlike his natural attire, the top three buttons of his shirt is undone. His belt is hanging loose.
“ ouch them?” Hoseok manages to say in an unaffected tone. “You were going to touch them?”
“We’re demons,” a demon says. Hoseok glances disdainfully at him. “It’s what we do. Besides,” he jerks his head over at Namjoon, who growls at him. “It’s not like that one ain’t part-demon.”
Hoseok blinks over at him, confused, but Namjoon shakes his head, biting hard on his bottom lip. “We’ve got laws now,” Hoseok says, trying to dispel the disquiet that statement brought. “You’re going to get arrested and given the death penalty for even having a blade like this. You know that, right?”
“We know,” says the fatter demon. He sneers at him. “But no angel will come near us with it.”
“Funny,” he says. “I’ll come near you, then,” and he raises his hand and backhands the demon with so much force he flies into the back of the wall and cracks it.
The demons yell — confused, annoyed — what the fuck are you doing — “Oh,” he says, stepping over the black box to sling his arm around Namjoon and ruffle his hair. “Well, you see, we’re dating. So I can’t just let you touch him, you know?”
“What?” Namjoon asks, his voice cracking. Hoseok wants to preserve that look of sheer dumb shock on his face forever. “I mean. Yeah. Sure. We are.”
“Yeah,” Hoseok says. “Great enthusiasm, darling. You really love me.”
“I love you so much,” Namjoon says, his voice painful and high-pitched. He’s going to kill him when this is over — it was such an unnecessary comment. Hoseok knows this. He just likes annoying him. “Kick their asses, babe.”
“Kicking their asses, as the boyfriend ordered,” he says cheerfully. “Don’t you worry, background angels A and B. The angel blade won’t kill you,” and he smiles benignly at the three other demons.
“What do you mean?” Namjoon hisses, then yelps in shock as Hoseok's tail unfurls from behind him, dragging the small, petite knife along the floor.
“I got very good at petty thievery thanks to the boyfriend here,” Hoseok kisses his cheek and he glares more daggers at him. The knife flits up into the air and Hoseok catches it lazily in his palms. “Can angel blades kill demons?”
Namjoon thinks over it. “I’d think so,” he says. “As you know, the angel blade was created at the beginning of the world when the first tear of Ev—“
“Enough history!” Hoseok interrupts. Namjoon heaves a sigh. Both of them almost forget they’re in a room with three angry demons and two terrified angels. “It can kill us. That’s great! Because you three are going to play catch with me. Unless you’d like to leave.”
“What sort of demon are you?” The middle demon growls. Hoseok would love to tell you their names, except he genuinely doesn’t care. “You’re siding with the fucking angels? Do you know what they fucking did to us?”
“Yeah,” he drawls. “But I did say he was my boyfriend.”
Namjoon rolls his eyes.
“And you undid his belt. Was it an expensive belt, babe?”
“Cost four feathers,” Namjoon says.
Hoseok blinks. “I don’t know angel currency. Is that expensive? Is four — is it?”
Background angel B nods. Hoseok whistles.
“And it was expensive,” he continues. “How dare you. Now you better scoot or else I will kill you for touching my boyfriend’s four feather belt. And you’re already dead, which means you’re not going to even come back as an entity. You’re just going to,” he pauses for dramatic effect. Namjoon’s fingers dig into his thigh. “Cease to exist. Isn’t that terrifying? Babe? I’m terrified.”
“I’m perfectly sane. You’re the ones who tried to —“ he gestures at this scene. “I mean, you did this.”
“To his boyfriend,” background angel A adds.
“To my boyfriend, thank you — uh, whoever you are.”
“We work in the same department.”
“Yeah. Great to see you again,” Hoseok waves his hand. “Why aren’t the demons running? I specifically told them to run.”
The three demons exchange looks. The first one throws up his hands and marches towards the door, snarling under his breath. Hoseok nods, waits five minutes until the door closed, before he relaxes and drops the blade back into the box.
“Namjoonie, dearest, don’t you just love my timing?” He asks, turning to grin easily at him. With a dramatic swish of his hands, he buttons up Namjoon’s shirt for him and adjusts his tie. “You would’ve been little angel dust without me.”
Namjoon smacks his hands away and sighs. “Why did you come?”
“To the bar?” Hoseok blinks. “Well, I was annoyed at you —“
“To save us, you absolute nutjob,” Namjoon flicks his forehead with something that feels more like gratefulness than annoyance. “Why’d you come for me?”
The two angels in the back step out from behind Namjoon, brushing off their shoulders. From the way they step around him, it’s obvious they don’t like him very much. Hoseok watches this with furrowed brows.
“Of course it happens when we’re out with him,” one of the angels say, hands deep in his pocket.
“Figures that he’d be dating a demon,” the other mutters as they leave.
Hoseok has a vague suspicion of what’s happening, but Namjoon only sighs and hefts the box onto the table. He says again, “seriously, why’d you come? You hate me.”
He figures it’s time to be serious, and his sing-song voice drops back into a normal tenor. Namjoon looks slightly disconcerted at the change in tone. “Because I heard you sound frightened,” he says quietly. “Even when I — when we fight, you don’t sound like that.”
“So you were worried.”
“Worried,” he waves a hand casually, stepping away from him. “Nah. I wanted to see what could scare you like that for future reference.”
Namjoon sighs deeply out of his nose. “Just when I thought you could be decent,” he says. His voice is tired but he’s smiling a little. Hoseok wonders if he’s ever seen Namjoon smile like that. “You pull shit like this.”
“Hey,” he takes another step away from him. “I did just come to save you.”
“You did,” Namjoon concedes. “Thank you.”
“That’s weird,” he murmurs. “You thanking me. It’s weird, and you should stop it. Here,” he kicks the box towards Namjoon, wincing at the dull thud it made. “Take this back to Heaven. Don’t mention me, alright angel?”
“Why not?” Namjoon asks, gingerly securing the lid over it. “You did a good thing. You could get bumped up the roster. Yoongi would probably give you the month’s bonus.”
Hoseok shrugs. “It’s alright,” he says, and with a casual flick of his fingers, he swings his legs around and slips out of the door. He doesn’t look back. It adds to his dramatic flair and otherwise mysterious personality.
When Hoseok comes into work the next morning, instead of an angel tied up with belts, there’s tea on his desk. It’s freshly made and smells a little like fondness, steaming into the cool air. He eyes it with suspicion as he nears it, putting his bag down onto the floor and throwing himself into the chair. The fondness makes him sneeze — demons were never very good with emotion teas. He’s still watching the liquid like something will leap out of it when the door slides open and Namjoon walks in, carrying a large box of files in his hands.
Hoseok blinks at him.
Namjoon says, “you should drink it before it gets cold, you know,” and drops the box onto the floor with a loud oof . “I noticed you didn’t like coffee.”
“You brewed me a fondness tea?” He asks, pulling the cup closer to him. “A fondness tea?”
Namjoon has the decency to blush, waving a hand about frantically. “No, no, I mean — well, yeah it is a fondness tea, but like, it’s my clan’s old recipe and I wanted to thank you for last night. So yeah.”
“You have fondness for me?” He brings the cup to his mouth and takes a cautious sniff. It smells like berries. “I mean, you do need fondness to make a fondness tea. Right? I think so.”
“You do,” Namjoon admits, sliding into his seat and putting a file on the table. He throws the other one over to Hoseok, who drops the cup to catch it. “You —“ he pauses for a moment, scrutinising him. “You are a pain in the ass, but you do your job well. You’re always fair with them, send them to Heaven when they deserve it. You’re not a bitter demon at all. So I have some semblance of like for you, because of that.”
Hoseok’s tea becomes increasingly harder to swallow. He knocks it back and feels the warmth burn in his belly. “Thanks,” he says, and curls a hand around his pen. “We should,” he clears his throat awkwardly. “We should start.”
“Oh, of course,” Namjoon says. They stare at each other. Hoseok’s fingers itch to press the buzzer on the table but Namjoon hates it and it’d just be mean.
He presses the buzzer. Namjoon jumps.
Strangely, it doesn’t feel as good as it used to. Hoseok stares at the buzzer, wondering if it’s just a leftover side effect from the fondness tea Namjoon made, but he knows there’s no such thing.
When they pass the client — it’s on to Purgatory for him — Namjoon looks at him expectantly, like he’s waiting for him to press the buzzer.
“Next,” he calls, and Namjoon does a double-take, one so exaggerated it’s almost comedic.
“You’re not going to buzzer them in?” Namjoon asks, squinting his eyes at him.
Hoseok swallows thickly. “The novelty has worn off,” he says weakly. Namjoon blinks at him, mouth opening, but the next client walks in and whatever he was going to say never comes.
During their lunch break, Hoseok chokes on a piece of salami when Namjoon crashes back into their booth, feathers, wings and arms flying all over the place. When he’s finally done coughing, he gives Namjoon a watery glare, but the angel has his arms crossed and his foot tapping impatiently on the ground.
“Did a demon get your tongue?” Hoseok rasps, reaching for his water. “You nearly killed me. Again.”
“First of all,” Namjoon says. “I did not. Second of all,” he points outside the door. “The demons from yesterday are in the break room.”
He chokes on his water.
Namjoon says, “for all your talk about blowjobs I assumed you’d have a less active gag reflex.”
He very nearly chokes on air this time around but is saved by his pride. He glares at Namjoon, who shrugs and leans back against the table. “I abandoned my lunch,” Namjoon groans, pressing his heels into his eyes. “What are they doing here?”
Hoseok puts his feet up on the table. “They’re here to scare you.”
Namjoon glares at him. “I know that,” he says, kicking his feet morosely on the floor. “I want to impale them so full of feathers they look like a fucking chicken,” and he sighs. “But I’m a kind and benevolent person, so I won’t do that.”
He purses his lips and takes another bite of his sandwich. “You miss out on the opportunities you don’t take, and the lunches you don’t save.”
Namjoon blinks at him like he’s just said something mind-blowing. “You’re right,” he says, and pushes off the table. “My lunch.”
“You’re coming with me,” Namjoon decides. “Boyfriend. ”
“Wait, I am?” He blinks, but Namjoon is already pulling on his arm and dragging him out of his chair with his normally hidden angel strength, pushing him towards the door. “Wait, wait, angel, last night was a one time only thing. You need a card. Like, a Hoseok gets you out of sticky situations card. It’s very rare and —“
“Oh, shut up,” Namjoon says, pushing him through the corridor. “You’re my partner. We have a bond. ”
“Where was that bond for the past two centuries,” he snarks, his sandwich still clutched in his hands. “You only like me when I’m convenient.”
“Yeah,” Namjoon agrees, but there’s a quiet lightness to his voice that bellies a tone of what could almost be camaraderie. Banter. Hoseok shivers. They round the corner to the break room, Hoseok stumbling in when Namjoon gives him a harder shove and all but throws him to the wolves.
“Joon,” he whines, turning around to look at him, playful pout on his face. “If you wanted to eat with me, you could’ve just asked.”
Namjoon blinks at him then flushes a bright, enthusiastic red — it’s almost adorable. Hoseok sighs and turns around, stopping comedically in his tracks when he sees two of the four demons in the corner, one of their hands paused over the coffee maker. “Darling, I don’t think we’re alone.”
Namjoon shrugs and comes closer, snagging his lunchbox and tucking it safely under his arm. Hoseok notes with some amusement that the box is decorated with little ducklings. “I didn’t see them there,” he says, pressing his shoulder into Hoseok’s and curling his hand around his wrist. “Should we go, then?”
The two demons look at each other, tails rising. Hoseok snarls at them and their tails drop. “Let’s head back to the booth,” he says, his voice icy. Namjoon turns to blink at him, hand tightening around his wrist, slipping down to hold his hand.
Hoseok tenses up so much, you could break him in half with just a touch. Namjoon raises a questioning eyebrow and gives his hand what is supposed be a comforting squeeze. “Hoseok?” He asks, his voice low. He moves to look at him, turning his body so that he’s standing directly in front of him, his height blocking the demons from him. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he gets out. He’s staring at Namjoon’s chin. Namjoon’s free hand comes up to hold the base of his neck and he hisses lowly between his teeth, making him jerk his hand back.
“Is it the touching?” Namjoon’s hold slackens on his hand. “Do you need me to stop?”
Hoseok wants to say no, he really does. Namjoon drops his hand and steps away from him, clutching his ducky lunchbox in his palms. He tugs loosely on his sleeve and he follows him as if he’s in a daze, trooping obediently by his side until they get to their booth and close the door.
Namjoon hovers at his side, then goes back to his table, shooting him concerned looks.
There’s two things wrong with this situation.
One, Namjoon shouldn’t be concerned about him. They’ve been nothing but dicks to each other for the past two centuries, one selfless night shouldn’t change that.
Two, Hoseok shouldn’t be this alarmed at someone touching him. But it’s been nearly two centuries since someone — since someone was even that close to him, and while he knows Namjoon would do him no harm, he can’t help but shake the fear.
It makes him feel weak. It makes him feel inadequate as a demon — his size was already a factor, the fact that he didn’t have wings, that the tip of his tail wasn’t as big, that the horns on his head are so small they’re almost not there.
By all accounts, his appearance is more angel than demon.
Namjoon picks up his forty year-old book and gingerly flips the page, scribbling something down. He looks up about ten minutes later, still looking like he wants to ask Hoseok something.
Eventually Namjoon asks, with five minutes to go till the end of lunch, “Seok, where can I touch you?”
Hoseok startles out of his reverie. “What?”
“Your limits,” he looks uncomfortable. “What are they?”
Hoseok blinks at him. “You don’t have to worry about that, angel.”
“It’s going to be my business to worry about,” he juts his chin up and looks determined. “I’m not going to make you make that noise again.”
“Just this morning you threw a hole puncher at me.”
“That’s different,” he replies. “You know it is.”
Hoseok sighs. He asks, “do you know why I was sent to Hell?”
Namjoon frowns. “No.”
“Ask Yoongi,” he smiles at him, but it’s painful, and Namjoon can tell. “Seokjin knows too.”
“Next,” Hoseok calls loudly, deliberately ignoring Namjoon, who doesn’t make a noise of protest, just fiddles with a pen. “Hello. Welcome to Admissions Booth #1994. Could you give us your full name and AD — that’s After Death, it’s on your new ID card — number?”
The shift ends with less flair than Hoseok expected — no more tantrums from each side led to something suspiciously quiet and dare he say it, calming. Of course he shouldn’t have expected it to continue for long, because as soon as Hoseok has flipped the sign on their door from OPEN to CLOSED Namjoon rounds on him, his height suddenly making him imposing.
“Are you telling me to ask Yoongi because you can’t tell the story yourself, or because you don’t want to?” Namjoon asks.
He pinches the bridge of his nose. “Can’t you just do what is asked of you?”
“No,” Namjoon says, but retreats slightly. “Yes. I can. If you want me to.”
He blinks tiredly at him. “I’ve not told anyone,” he says. “Why should I tell you?”
Namjoon seems to consider that. Eventually he says, “maybe I got tired of fighting a century ago,” he admits. “Maybe we can be friends.”
“Is the concept foreign to you? Do you need a run-through?”
“Shut the fuck up,” Hoseok jabs him in the rib with his finger and Namjoon winces. “Fine. You wanna sit down, get a drink, maybe cozy yourself up by the fireplace a little?”
Namjoon stares blankly at him. “We can go to the park,” he says, and Hoseok’s eyes widen in disbelief.
“Are you going to keep repeating the last word of everything I say, or are we actually going to get somewhere?” Namjoon rolls his eyes, flicking off the light and pulling open their door. “Come. The weather is nice tonight.”
Hoseok looks at him in astonishment, but follows him. Namjoon does not try to take his hand.
Namjoon pulls open the door that leads to the park and gestures for him to go through first, which he does with a roll of his eyes and a muttered I’m not a fucking kid. When he steps out, the park is dark and and the crunch of autumn leaves is loud as he walks forward, pushing through the trees to stand on a concrete sidewalk.
Namjoon joins him soon after, a bunch of leaves stuck in his hair. Hoseok coos at them and he shrugs, blushing a light pink as he shakes his hair out. The leaves don’t fall but he doesn't tell him this.
After walking around for a bit they finally locate an empty bench — Namjoon pulls him to sit down and they sit shoulder to shoulder.
A child screams in delight in the background. The sound of cars, dogs barking and people is always so loud in this century. Hoseok lets the noise hit him like a train.
When he turns to look at Namjoon, he scrunches his nose at how empty he looks without his golden halo or his wings behind his back. He wonders for a second what it would have been like to meet as human and human — if they’d spend their lifetimes hating each other still.
“You don’t have to talk,” Namjoon says eventually, kicking at a stick on the ground. “I dragged you out here, didn’t I?”
Hoseok shrugs. “It’s alright,” he says. He misses his tail already. He decides just to go straight into it. Like a proper demon would. Like the demon he is supposed to be. “When I was alive, my father ran a gang.”
Namjoon looks sharply over at him. Hoseok shrugs his shoulders helplessly. “You don’t get to choose what family you’re born into,” he pokes Namjoon’s side. “You were born into a family of charitable aristocrats. When I was born, I was already in Hell. I learnt to read from reading my father’s accounts. I practiced maths by doing my father’s finances. If I got it wrong, I’d lose a fingernail. Maybe three.”
Namjoon swears under his breath.
“Eventually,” he continues, his breathing carefully controlled. “I was promoted to some of the upper echelons of what was once a neighbourhood gang, but had since become an empire. One night, my father told me to kill someone. To prove I was loyal, because he couldn’t trust me. Not after my mother left.”
“I didn’t kill them,” he mutters. The crowing of the insects and the birds in the trees become so loud it’s almost unbearable and Namjoon strains to hear his voice. “I ran away. But I stole a horse and it was storming real bad that night and I got —“
“Into an accident,” Namjoon’s voice is soft. “You got into an accident near the river. It flooded its banks. The horse slipped, you cartwheeled into another, you killed two people in a carriage on the opposite side of the road.”
Hoseok turns to look at him.
His voice is dripping with comfort when he says, “I worked in the funeral home, so I did the autopsy on the bodies. But they — they never brought you in.”
“Of course they didn’t,” he replies bitterly. “My father took it and burned it. I don’t even have a headstone.”
Now that he’s done talking, the world seems to sharpen again. Back in the present, staring at concrete instead of the rain-slick road, blood so dark you can’t tell it apart from the puddles. Namjoon says, “I don’t think you deserved to go to Hell.”
“I aided and abetted criminal activity,” Hoseok rests his head on the back of the bench, sinking low into his seat. “I was the son of a murderer.”
“You didn’t — there’s culpability to consider,” Namjoon gestures vaguely. “What fault does a child have for following his father’s orders?”
“The angel who saw me through was a prick,” he admits, sighing loudly. “He thought he was so superior for being a fucking priest, what a douchebag.”
Namjoon turns to look at him, scooting closer. Their thighs are touching now. Namjoon feels words bubbling at the base of his throat, words he thinks he needs to confess. Why he hates demons. Why the angels don’t like him. But Hoseok blinks at him and he thinks it’s not the time — the night with the moon high in the sky and the orchestra of night-time traffic in the background has set the scene for Hoseok and Hoseok alone.
Reaching out a hand, he gently, his touch so featherlight it’s almost not there, cups Hoseok’s jaw, his fingers splaying out across his cheek and neck. Hoseok turns so stiff he’s practically steel.
“You’re scared,” he says softly. Hoseok smells peaches from his hand cream. His eyes never leave Namjoon’s face. “Did people not usually touch you like this?”
“They did,” Hoseok says. “Not gently.”
He frowns. Beneath his fingers, Hoseok is sure he can feel the rapid, frantic beat of his heart as he struggles to calm down. “I’ll be gentle,” Namjoon replies. “I won’t hurt you. Have I — ever?”
“No,” Hoseok is quick to say. “No, you never did. Don’t think so highly of yourself, angel,” He flicks his forehead. “As if you can hurt me.”
Namjoon glares at him without heat.”Well,” he sniffs. “I won’t hurt you. Not anymore, at least,” he pulls his hand back and Hoseok feels cold.
They sit in silence for a while.
Namjoon gets up first. He turns to look at Hoseok, the bright white lights of the park casting his face into a brilliant brightness. Offering him his hand, he gives him a big grin. “Come. Let’s go home.”
Hoseok could choose not to take his hand, but for some reason he takes it. Namjoon's palms are warm, his fingers are secure when they interlace with his. Something in him screams, rolls over and dies.
Hoseok thinks it’s his heart, but he’s not sure.
Yoongi throws open the door to their admissions booth. “I knew it,” he says triumphantly, stepping into the room, hands already coming up to point at them huddled in a corner. “You are doing something wrong!”
Namjoon blinks at him and his hand stills on Hoseok’s hair. Hoseok lifts his head off Namjoon’s lap and peers at Yoongi, squinting his eyes at him. “Are we?” He cranes his neck to look at Namjoon. “You should’ve told me, I would’ve brought out my claws.”
“You said it’d ruin your nails,” Namjoon helpfully reminds him.
“Oh yeah,” he eyes them critically. “They’re due for a touch-up anyway, so I’d ruin my nails for you, Namjoonie dearest.”
“You’re so sweet,” Namjoon replies, sounding kind of choked up. Both Hoseok and him make eye contact and grin.
“I have no clue what is going on,” Yoongi announces, his face turning a sort of red colour. “Is this a joke? Is this a joke? You’re like —“ he pauses like he doesn’t want to say it. “Friendly. And shit.”
“And shit,” Hoseok and Namjoon parrot at the same time. They grin at each other again. Yoongi looks like he wants to die.
“When did this happen?”
“Hoseok heroically saved me from a bunch of no-good demons,” Namjoon says.
“Then I told him my entire sob story of a life,” he continues.
“I promised I’d get him more used to skinship,” Namjoon adds.
“Hence the petting,” they both finish.
“I quite like the petting,” Hoseok says. His tone takes on a softer lilt, more reflective. He drops his head back onto Namjoon’s lap and closes his eyes. “Please continue.”
“As you wish,” Namjoon says, resuming his stroking of his hair. To Yoongi’s astonished eyes, Hoseok actually starts to make a soft purring noise, his tail curling lightly around Namjoon’s leg. Hoseok’s horns rest gently against his palm. Each demon’s horn is unique and his are short and dark brown, curling slightly at the end in on each other. Darker rings loop round the horn, one for every year he’s been a demon. They’re small, no bigger than Yoongi’s pinky finger. The smallest Yoongi has ever seen, actually.
He always hates it when he remembers that Hoseok was never supposed to be a demon.
Namjoon tweaks one and Hoseok’s hand twitches, snapping Yoongi out of it. “I have no clue what’s going on,” he says again after a long pause of staring at them, as though by looking at them he could somehow fathom the inexplicable way the two became cordial. “You told him about your father?”
Namjoon looks sharply up at him. Yoongi’s eyes widen more. Hoseok doesn’t seem to be too bothered though, he just nods and waves his tail sleepily.
Yoongi and Namjoon exchange glances.
What the fuck is going on, Yoongi says. Namjoon winces at Yoongi’s voice in his head, another perk of being the immigration guard.
Don’t you think he’s pretty cute, Namjoon tells him.
I do, yes, but you’re not supposed to— Yoongi’s hands twitch at his sides, then he sighs and throws them up into the air. Do what you like. No fucking on the job.
Namjoon chokes on his saliva. Hoseok opens one eye, concerned. Namjoon waves a hand nonchalantly and glares at Yoongi.
We’re not fucking.
The tail around your leg says otherwise, Yoongi jerks his head at the sleek black thing, tipped lightly with a razor sharp club, curled loosely around Namjoon’s calve. He used to be terrified of it, but now it’s just cute and he has to resist the urge to pet it. That’s a possessive tendency. It’s basically the same thing as you covering him with your wings.
He turns red.
Yoongi rolls his eyes.
I don’t want to know how this started, he says, turning to walk back outside. There’s two ways. One, my hand-holding punishment is a fucking genius idea and should be patented. Two, you two were poisoned.
Oh my god, we aren’t poisoned.
Right. That’s what all poisoned people say. Work starts again in ten — and Namjoon? Yoongi pauses in the doorway. Please take care of him. He acts and talks like he’s the shit but he really feels like shit.
Good, Yoongi opens the door and the telepathic gateway clicks off as quickly as it opened, like Yoongi had just hung up on him.
“What did Yoongi want?” Hoseok mumbles sleepily, his tail curling tighter around Namjoon’s leg. “I know he was talking to you.”
“He was just gloating about making us hold hands,” Namjoon says. “It’s nothing. Go back to sleep.”
“Can’t,” Hoseok yawns and blinks up at him. Namjoon looks down at him. His eyes are wide, no longer coated with that sleepiness that’s been following him around since this lunch break started. His hair falls to the sides of his face, ruffled from Namjoon’s persistent attention, and his smile stretches his face into a beautiful — a — Namjoon turns red. “We’ve got work.”
“Yeah,” he says, trying not to meet his eyes. “We do.”
“It’s still so weird, isn’t it,” Hoseok says, reaching a hand up to cup the right side of his face and move his thumb over his cheekbone. He stops breathing. “Handling each other with gentleness.”
“It’s weird,” he says, his voice a whisper. He feels like he’s nineteen and not centuries on centuries old. “But it’s not unpleasant.”
“I guess not,” Hoseok says, his voice as quiet as his. They stare at each other for a beat, then heat rushes back into both their faces and Hoseok almost smashes his face into the ground in his haste to get off his thigh. The awkwardness is still high in the air, balancing on the edge of a knife.
Namjoon worries it’ll fall over on the wrong side. A knife is a demon’s playground, not an angel’s.
“Back to work, angel,” Hoseok says, rocking back on his heels and smiling at him.
“Yeah,” he replies, clearing his throat. He sinks into his chair and tries not to look at Hoseok.
But when Hoseok sends the next client in, he doesn’t use the buzzer. In fact, he hasn’t used the buzzer in nearly a week — it sits dusty and unused, a stack of papers and post-it notes covering it.
Namjoon wonders why it means so much to him.
“You look happy,” Jeongguk says, cornering Namjoon at the water cooler. Namjoon briefly wonders why all the encounters that seem to go wrong occur in the break room. Maybe a demon put a curse on the apples in the fruit basket and he should stop going here. Maybe the afterlife just hates him.
“I am happy,” he says nonchalantly, pointedly filling up his tumbler and hoping no more questions come. He stops short. What questions could Jeongguk ask that he would be scared to answer? “What’s it to you?”
He giggles. He’s always like this, Namjoon is rapidly realising, shy and pushy at the same time, kindly insistent in getting what he wants. “Nothing,” Jeongguk says, shrugging his shoulders. The water cooler goes on sudden blast and Namjoon yelps, torn between keeping his tumbler under it and running away.
He opts to run away, leaping back and keeping his suede and eight feathers expensive shoes away from the direct line of fire. Jeongguk rapidly turns red and waves his fingers at the water cooler, but all that happens is the top plastic part explodes.
Namjoon’s wings shield him from most of the damage. His feathers drip, the plastic having ricocheted off the steel feathers and impaling themselves into the wall.
Jeongguk stares at the damage and sighs pointedly out of his nose. He opens his palms and counts down from ten — as soon as he gets to two fingers, Yoongi comes skidding around the corner, arms and legs flailing in a way that if there hadn’t been a plastic shard right next to Namjoon’s head would be considered comical.
“Jeongguk,” Yoongi says, looking distractedly around the room. He eyes a particularly dangerous shard of plastic with trepidation. “What did you do?”
“He blew it up,” Namjoon says helpfully, shaking his hair out. Yoongi hisses as the drops land on him. “I thought I was going to lose my head. Or my nose.”
Jeongguk kicks at the remains of the cooler. “Sorry,” he mumbles. “I haven’t gotten the control down yet.”
Yoongi’s face softens. “Don’t worry,” he says, at the same time Namjoon says, “it’s fine, you don’t know how much this guy sucked.”
Yoongi glares at him.
Jeongguk raises an eyebrow.
“I was there in his first decade,” Namjoon shakes out his wings, ignoring Yoongi’s pointed pinch of shut the fuck up. “He upended a plant on the boss.”
“The Big Boss,” Namjoon continues, evil grin on his face.
“ God?!” Jeongguk blurts, then claps his hands over his mouth. Namjoon nods solemnly, eyes fluttering shut. What’s left of the water cooler further explodes. “Holy shit, you dropped a plant on God?!”
“I thought we agreed to never talk about it,” Yoongi hisses at Namjoon, betrayed look on his face. “What the fuck?”
Jeongguk starts pacing the room. As he paces, the water cooler starts to stick itself back together, stitching together until it’s whole again, but completely empty. “I think,” he says solemnly, oblivious to Yoongi and Namjoon’s staring. “If I did that, I would get an angel blade and kill myself.”
“Dude,” Namjoon points at the water cooler. “You just fixed it.”
Jeongguk follows his fingers, stares at the cooler and claps his hands together, whirling around to look at them with a bright, dumb smile on his face. “Oh!”
“See,” Yoongi soothes. There’s a proud smile on his face like he’s just watched his son graduate elementary school. “You just need to relax.”
“I was the opposite of relaxed,” Jeongguk says.
“Okay,” Yoongi says. “Then stay tense, asshole. And you—“ he points a finger at Namjoon in the middle of trying to escape. “I forbid you from hanging out with Hoseok anymore. You’re picking up all his habits.”
Yoongi says, “seriously. You two become friends and suddenly you’re spilling my deepest, darkest secrets to fucking five year olds.”
“We’re —“ Namjoon doesn’t know what he wants to say. We’re not friends, he tries, but the words are bad and taste like arsenic. “We’re friends,” he finishes lamely, and Yoongi rolls his eyes. “We’re good friends.”
“What’s your definition of good friends,” Jeongguk pipes up, one hand on the cooler to make sure it doesn’t explode again. “Because I swear I saw you cuddling when making my rounds. Right, Yoongi?”
Yoongi looks dryly at him. Jeongguk shrugs and grins, rolling on the back of his heels.
“Hoseok just likes being cuddled,” Namjoon splutters. “He — he had a difficult life and he’s not used to gentleness, it doesn’t mean we’re together — frankly, it’s absurd and —“ He stops short. “And so what if it’s cuddling?”
Yoongi pats him on the back. “That’s the spirit,” he says, guiding him back to the booth. “Fuck what other people have to say. Kiss him and say you’re just friends. ”
“First of all —”
“First of all?” Hoseok asks, leaning against the doorframe. He’s eyeing his nails cooly — they’re painted a new shade of dark, crimson red. If his hair was still red, it would’ve matched. “Why are you all wet?”
“Jeongguk made the cooler explode.”
Hoseok raises an eyebrow.
“It was a very volatile cooler,” Namjoon shrugs Yoongi’s arm off his shoulders and opens their door. “Come on. We’ve got — what, five more people?”
Hoseok gives Yoongi a death stare from behind Namjoon’s back. Yoongi rolls his eyes but waves his hand in a silent goodbye, trooping off to round the corner. The second Yoongi is out of sight, Hoseok whirls to face Namjoon, blurting, “Did you mean it when you said we were good friends?”
Namjoon startles so violently he nearly breaks the doorknob. Cursing under his breath, he turns to look at him, face red. “Were you listening?”
“I just wanted to find out what made the noise,” he mumbles. He’s scuffing his feet on the ground. It’s uncharacteristic of him to be so shy and Namjoon feels something he could probably classify as fondness. Genuine, this time.
“Yeah,” Namjoon says breathlessly. “Yeah, I meant it.”
Hoseok’s eyes brighten and his grin spreads from the center of his mouth to the corners, pulling his lips upwards into a heart-shape, a smile full of teeth and closed eyes. “Cool,” he says, his voice sounding like he’s trying very hard not to be affected. “That’s cool.”
“Yeah,” he replies. He pushes the door open. “After you,” he says, and Hoseok beams at him again.
When Namjoon first steps into Hoseok’s apartment, Hoseok is so nervous he thinks his heart might give out. The night before had just been stress — Hoseok had vacuumed, actually vacuumed for him. He’d washed his bathroom and changed his sheets, god, he has no idea why he’s so anxious about it — it’s not like Namjoon is the first person to come over to his place.
In fact, just asking him to come over had been something else altogether — do you wanna watch the finals of Afterlife’s Got Talent, I know you’ve been following it — it’d taken every ounce of his courage and Taehyung kicking him in the balls for him to actually put voice to it.
And he’s annoyed, because — it’s just Namjoon, he’s known him for two and half centuries, they’ve basically seen each other through growing up in the afterlife. And they hate each other. Not so much anymore but they’re — supposed to — yet somehow, because the man who is coming over is Namjoon, it lends him so much more importance.
“Sorry about the mess,” Hoseok says instantly when Namjoon steps through the door, even though there’s not a single thing out of place. “Sorry about making you walk through Hell to get here. Literally.”
Namjoon laughs and grins easily at him. Has Namjoon always been this easy to smile? Why can he count the number of times Namjoon has smiled like this on his fingers? “It’s okay,” Namjoon says, tousling his hair. His halo flickers once, twice, weak at being cut off from Heaven, but he taps it and it blinks into brightness. From his back, his wings explode in a flurry of feathers until they stand taller than his head, just a few inches off the ground.
All angels have wings, though their style, the way the feathers fall, and their colours differ. Namjoon has always been white and black, beautiful and regal and a little bit of an anomaly because black was rare to come by.
Hoseok has always wondered what happened in his life that gave him the dark woven throughout his purity, but never really pushed it. After all, there’s a reason both of them work at the Admissions Booth — or the place for people who sat on the border between Heaven and Hell. However, for the first time, Hoseok wants to reach out and touch them, push his fingers through the angel’s wings and watch the down part between his spread palm.
But he doesn’t ask, because that’s weird.
“Come in,” Hoseok remembers to say after Namjoon looks around the entrance expectantly. “I made food.”
“Oo,” Namjoon peeks at the kitchen, eyeing the wok sizzling on the stove. “What do you demons eat down in hell?”
“Human brains,” Hoseok says blandly, trooping into the kitchen. Namjoon stiffens and he laughs, his grin easy and light. “Lighten up, angel. We eat the same things you do. I’m not a —“ he makes a weird sound in his throat and waves a spatula around. “I ran out of words but you get it.”
“Right,” Namjoon leans against the opposite counter and watches him finish up. “You seem to know what you’re doing. Have people over much?”
“No one wants to come to Hell, Namjoonie,” he flips over the food. “You’re the first one in a century.”
“In a —“ there’s a choke. He resists the urge to turn around. “Jesus Christ, Seok,” Namjoon steps forward and puts a hand on his shoulder. The feathers of his wings tickle the back of Hoseok’s thighs. “I’ll come over.”
“Even through Hell?”
“Especially through Hell,” Namjoon rests his chin on his shoulder. It prevents Hoseok from properly frying the food but he can’t find it in him to tell him to move. “It was cool, walking down the road. Even if people were staring. You guys have some really cool architecture.”
“Only because it’s old,” he makes a face and kicks his foot against a cupboard. “Can you get two plates out from there?”
Namjoon does, bending to retrieve them and putting them on the counter. On a hunch, he opens a drawer and manages to find the cutlery. He puts them out, beaming at the sudden discovery, and a shiver runs down Hoseok’s spine at the domesticity.
A year ago — a mere blip in the lifespan of immortal beings — Hoseok would’ve chucked a knife at him and Namjoon would’ve tried to gut him on the cheese grater. A year ago, Namjoon wouldn’t even be here.
Hoseok pours the noodles onto the plates. Namjoon brings them out, Hoseok following with the cutlery, and they sit together on the sofa, watching an angel with grey feathers try to outsing another with snow white ones.
“It’s dye,” Namjoon says halfway, his mouth full of noodles. Hoseok looks at him, fond. “The angel with the white wings. No one has had pure white wings up here since before I came.”
“No one’s that good of an angel anymore,” Namjoon shrugs. “Too many grey areas. Too many slip-ups.”
“So why’ve you got black?” Hoseok barely even realises he’s asked the question until the silence stretches on a bit too long. He looks up, horrified, mouth opening to protest —
“Because I killed someone,” he side-eyes Hoseok, whose mouth slams shut so fast there’s an audible click of his teeth. “It’s quite the story.”
Hoseok stays quiet. Namjoon seems to turn the words over in his mouth until he finds the right ones.
“When I was eighteen,” he starts. “I saw a man try to drag a girl into the alleyway just around the sixth corner. Do you know it?”
Hoseok pauses. “Yeah,” he says. “I did know it. It connected the downtown to the residential area.”
“Yeah,” Namjoon shrugs. “When I saw it, I ran after them, and I got into a fight with the guy. I pushed him out of the alleyway — and at that same moment, a horse ran by. It’d escaped from the stable two blocks down and was stampeding down the street. I couldn’t have known. I didn’t know. The man was trampled and died from his head injuries later. The girl cried when she went home to her mother.”
Hoseok lets out a low exhale of breath.
“Am I sorry?” Namjoon asks, moving a wing around to the front and staring at the black laced through it like a song. “No. I’m not.”
There’s silence. “You did the right thing,” Hoseok says, leaning forward. “I think you did.”
“Yeah,” he replies, “But it’s ironic, don’t you think, that the reason I’m in Heaven is the same reason why I’m outcasted from it — and that logically, I am more demon material than you are.”
“The laws back then were fucked,” Hoseok automatically says, scooting closer to Namjoon on the sofa. “I don’t hold anything against it. It’s not too bad, being a demon,” he shrugs. “You get a cool prehensile tail. And a large apartment. There’s lots of space down in Hell.”
“Yeah?” Namjoon props his chin on his hand balanced on his thigh. He wobbles but he doesn’t seem to care. “You don’t mind the black in my wings?”
“I’m a demon,” Hoseok tweaks his cheek and flushes. “You’re not intimidating at all, angel, not even with a death on your hands. Your wings could be all black and you’d still be pretty as always.”
There’s a heartbeat of silence.
“You think I’m pretty?”
There’s two ways this thing could go. Hoseok could run out of his own apartment and hurl himself into the Eternal Flame that sits in the center of Hell. Sometimes, the particularly notorious demons, the ones with the big horns and the full fledged wings will go to watch souls being tortured in it.
Or he could own the sentiment.
Namjoon’s face looks so hopeful.
“Yeah,” Hoseok says weakly, his voice thin. “Yeah, you’re very pretty.”
“Oh,” Namjoon says, clearly pleased. His face blooms a pretty red. “Thank you.”
“You’ve got these dimples,” he blurts, the words being freely tossed from his lips like his filter has momentarily disappeared — distantly he’s alarmed, but he cannot seem to clamp down on it. “They’re there when you smile. I didn’t notice until recently.”
Namjoon raises his eyebrows.
“Sorry,” he puts his plate down on the coffee table. “I — sorry.”
“Everything,” he gestures vaguely. “The time I threatened to stick your dick into a mincer.”
Namjoon giggles, then laughs. Hoseok finds himself staring, slightly awestruck. When he laughs, his dimples bloom like pretty flowers, and the feathers on his back shake. “Nothing I haven’t done too,” he waves his hand and grins at him. “Sorry for the time I cut up your shoelaces.”
“Sorry for the time I cooked a fish and told you it was your goldfish.”
“Sorry for the time I filed down your tail while you were sleeping.”
“Sorry for the time I painted little dicks all over your nails in Sharpie.”
“Sorry for the time I faked an email from Seokjin and told you you were fired.”
“Sorry for the time I dyed some of your feathers hot pink.”
“Sorry for the time I coloured your bag in with highlighter.”
The two of them stare at each other then snicker. “It’s the end of an era,” Namjoon says solemnly. They’ve forgotten all about the show on the television. “But what a brilliant time it was.”
Hoseok shrugs. “I’d rather see you smile now,” he says, and Namjoon flushes an attractive red. Oh.
“Oh,’ he says. “Well, that can be arranged.”
There’s the distinct smell of eggs cooking when Hoseok walks out of his bedroom at ten in the morning the next day. He startles, then he remembers — Namjoon slept in the guest bedroom overnight.
He walks over to the kitchen and Namjoon turns to smile at him, frying scrambled eggs in a pan. They look really good.
“Good morning,” says the angel brightly. He doesn’t have a shirt on, just an apron tied around his waist. His feathers are sleep-ruffled. Hoseok nearly gasps.
“I made some eggs, I hope you don’t mind, it’s the only thing I’m good at really,” he shrugs and gives them another push with the spatula. “Nice boxers.”
Hoseok peeks down to look at his Mickey Mouse boxers and blushes a bright red. “Good morning to you too. Thanks for cooking, angel,” he crosses over to him and tries not to stare at the beautiful slant of Namjoon’s arms.
“You slept well?” He asks as he boils water, putting a teabag into a cup. “You look well-rested.”
“The bed smelled nice,” Namjoon grins at him. “Felt like my own.”
Hoseok blinks. “That’s good, right?”
“That’s great,” Namjoon says happily, pouring the eggs out onto two plates. “Here you go.”
“Thanks,” Hoseok takes the plate from him and stares at it for — for a second too long, because he starts to tear up. Namjoon yelps in alarm and hastily puts down his plate, crossing over to grab at Hoseok’s shoulder.
“Hey, what? Do they smell bad? Did I put in salt instead of sugar? Were you planning to use the eggs to bake a cake for your recently deceased third son--“
“No,” Hoseok blubbers, annoyed at himself for even reacting this way. “No — no one’s cooked for me before.”
Namjoon’s mouth drops open. Then he’s taking Hoseok’s plate from him and putting it down onto the counter. He picks up a spoon and scoops up some of the eggs.
“Say ah,” he says.
“I said no one has ever cooked for me before, not no one’s ever treated me like a baby when I’m three centuries old.”
“Say ah,” Namjoon says, a bit more insistently. Hoseok rolls his eyes but opens his mouth and Namjoon sticks the spoon inside.
Hoseok chews tentatively. “It’s good,” he says. “I like it.”
“Thank you,” Namjoon puffs out his chest and grins at him. “I’ll come over to cook for you more.”
“Yeah,” Namjoon hands him back his spoon. “It’s a promise.”
Hoseok bursts into the office to the tune of a triumphant march — Jeongguk is helping him telekinetically play fourteen trumpets, and it sounds as awful as you’d think — startling Namjoon so much he falls out of his chair and hits the ground with a loud oof.
“What the fuck?” Namjoon complains, the trumpets still blaring uncoordinatedly. “What — Jeongguk, turn that off!”
“Today,” Hoseok shouts grandly, twirling around in a perfect pirouette and hopping to Namjoon’s side, “is the ten year anniversary of you saying we’re good friends. Congratulations!”
Namjoon blinks at him, his cheeks flushing red. “Oh my god,” he says, taking Hoseok’s hand to stand back up — he notices he’s wearing a full three-piece suit, complete with a top hat. The trumpets have thankfully stopped playing, but Jeongguk is still peering owlishly at them, curious. “You remembered?”
“I forgot nothing,” says Hoseok, still in an overly exaggerated voice, like he’s some sort of carnival announcer. “Certainly not things that apply to you.”
“Gee,” Namjoon rolls his eyes, smiling. “Thanks.”
Hoseok grins at him and sinks into a low bow, producing a flower from out of nowhere with a flick of his wrist. Namjoon suspects it was in his sleeve, but then wonders where Hoseok learnt sleight of hand magic tricks. “For you,” he says. Namjoon plucks the delicate thing out of his hand and is painfully conscious of Jeongguk’s eyes growing wider and wider.
“Thank you,” Namjoon says. He makes eye contact with the kid, who startles like he’s just been caught doing something wrong and canters out of the room. He rolls his eyes, fond. Hoseok finally straightens up, tugging on the sides of his blazer.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t get you anything.”
“It’s okay,” Hoseok waves his hands, still beaming, his mouth stretching his face. Namjoon is torn between wanting to remember the expression forever and leaning in to kiss it off his face. He chooses to do neither, taking a shy step backwards. “I knew you wouldn’t. So I decided I’d get something for myself and say it was from you.”
Namjoon leans on his desk and rolls his eyes. “What does that mean?”
Hoseok takes a step back from him (much to his displeasure) and gestures at the room. Namjoon follows the curve of his arm, the broad shoulders outlined in sleek black. “This room has changed so much,” Hoseok says, the tips of his ears burning red. Namjoon blinks in surprise. “Look —“ he points to the white line that runs down the center of the room — it used to be the spot where the black electrical tape sat, dividing them into their own spaces. They’d taken it off months ago, but centuries of being covered meant the tile seemed as new as when it first started.
“There’s no more dents,” Namjoon supplies, grinning when Hoseok turns to look almost shyly at him. “Yoongi hasn’t yelled at us in a decade.”
It is important to revisit the fact that Namjoon and Hoseok are immortal.
For them, the passing of time feels less like a candle melting down and closer to water trickling by in a creek, seemingly endless, slowly wearing down the earth beneath it to become deeper, wider, smoother. Ten years is just a blink in their lives.
“Didn’t it feel long?” Namjoon asks, reaching out to grip Hoseok’s arm and turn him towards him.
Hoseok doesn’t quite meet his eyes. Namjoon knows he’s just trying to gain the courage to do something, so he pulls him closer. They’re the same height because Namjoon’s resting on his desk, Hoseok stands between his legs.
“I lived every second,” Hoseok answers, the corners of his mouth twitching upwards. “Isn’t that weird?”
Namjoon shrugs. Their voices slowly get softer; drop octaves. They’re whispering to each other, confessions of time just for the two of them to know.
I lived every second.
It’s a dangerous thing for two immortal people to love each other, because it doesn’t always work out. Imagine seeing your ex in the breakroom for eternity, knowing you’ll never escape them. Namjoon cringes at the thought.
Hoseok reaches out a hand and delicately cups the curve of Namjoon’s jaw. His thumb rests over a dimple.
“I don’t think demons are supposed to be scared,” Hoseok admits, and Namjoon laughs, pressing their foreheads together. Hoseok’s tail flicks out, startled, and wraps itself around Namjoon’s leg. From behind him, Namjoon’s wings unfurl, reaching out to cover them on both sides, meeting around Hoseok’s back.
“Can I touch?” Hoseok asks.
Hoseok beams and reaches out to push his hands through the feathers, black parting into white, white parting into black. They’re soft, softer than anything Hoseok’s ever touched. He pulls his hand back when Namjoon sighs softly under his breath, but he looks happy.
“Feels like I’m being petted,” Namjoon says, and Hoseok laughs, breathless.
They look at each other.
Namjoon says, “I actually did get you something.”
The look of puzzlement that crosses Hoseok’s face is amusing. “You did?”
“Yeah,” he says. Namjoon wonders if Hoseok can hear his heart thrumming wildly beneath his skin and tries to discreetly wipe his palms on his pants. He takes a deep breath, then he reaches out, grips the front of Hoseok’s tuxedo and pulls him closer, pressing a kiss to Hoseok’s lips, firm and chaste and important.
“Oh,” Hoseok says when Namjoon pulls back. His eyes are wide and his cheeks are flushed. “That was the first time I’ve ever kissed someone.”
Namjoon raises his eyebrows. “Was it nice?”
“I don’t know,” Hoseok’s hands slip over Namjoon’s shoulders and around the back of his neck. “Do it again.”
“If you want me to.”
Hoseok’s smiling when Namjoon kisses him again, soft and slow. He slides his palms down his chest, coming to rest at his waist, and pulls him closer.
Hoseok’s knees bang into the table and they jump apart, startled. Namjoon blushes first and Hoseok throws his head back and laughs, high and breathy, giggly. In his hands, Hoseok is soft, softer than steel, beautiful and serene. He kisses his eyelids, his cheeks, his nose, his forehead, until Hoseok is pushing him away, the grin etched onto his lips so firmly it's almost permanent.
It, Namjoon thinks, is the kind of beauty that will last a lot longer than eternity.
COMPLAINT LETTER #1882990
TO: THE EMPLOYEES IN ADMISSIONS BOOTH #1994
FROM THE DESK OF MIN YOONGI,
REGARDING THE NUMEROUS COMPLAINTS OF OVERLY PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION;
While we here at East Admissions Office very zealously believe in encouraging friendly relations between those of Hell, those of Heaven and those in-between, and hold no discrimination to those who would like to pursue relations of a more romantic nature, please note that some discretion and common courtesy is required.
Henceforth, please refrain from doing the following:
- Prolonged periods of kissing in the break room or any common areas.
- Spending long periods of time in the bathroom together in the same stall, in different stalls, in the sink area.
- Fake moaning to draw the ire of those next to you.
- Real moaning.
- Coming to work without having covered up evidence of nightly trysts with each other.
- Excessive use of pet names in front of clients. Please maintain a professional atmosphere. Names such as Wittle Demonic Baby Boy or Pretty Pretty Angel is not acceptable.
- Wearing matching t-shirts to work.
- Wearing matching socks to work.
- Shouting I love you, I’m in love with you, I love you to the moon and back and other variations from across the hallways.
- Sitting in each other’s lap during lunchtimes or work and staff meetings.
- Not turning up for staff meetings on the grounds of Urgent Business To Do Together.
- Bringing the hellhound you adopted to work. There are people who are allergic, and cuteness does not make them any less allergic.
- Telling everyone who comes into your booth that you’ve been together for thirty years, two hundred and seventeen days, 5 hours, sixteen minutes and 3 seconds.
While we all appreciate the fact that you both are now more cordial than ever, we seek your cooperation in the matter on the grounds that your relationship, while adorable and certainly inspiring, is hardly one of a professional nature. Please save your extravagant and alarmingly competitive declarations of undying love for your own apartment.
Head of Security
East Admissions Office