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Tell Me Again

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There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.
-Leonard Cohen

 

~~~

 

Yoongi falls in love with people’s voices.

It’s the first thing he notices about others. Not their clothes or eyes or smiles. Their voice. It’s been this way, he’s been this way, ever since he was little. His third-year teacher in elementary was the first he can remember. Her voice was smooth, almost silky, like she was always on the verge of singing.  In Jr. High it was Mingyu on the basketball team, whose voice broke before everyone else’s and was a little gravelly at the edges for the next two years. Jiyeon, who was a year ahead of him in high school, had laughter that reminded him of the river.  And then there’s all the people in between—his next-door neighbor back in Daegu with staccato intonation, the bus driver on blue route with the chiming greeting, the ticket operator at the movie theater two blocks from his apartment who hums between her words.

Yoongi knows it’s strange to be so attracted to a sound, but it’s not as strange as Hoseok, who falls for mouths, or Jungkook, who goes for hands. It’s just the way he is. The way they are.

Maybe Yoongi’s attracted to voices because they’re so unique. Maybe because he can read emotions in them better than he can on a face. Maybe it’s just a weird kink that he’ll never know the origin of and his friends will continue to tease him for.

Or maybe Yoongi chose voices because he’s never had one of his own.

 

~~~

 

“Hello, youth of the world. Or at least the youth of Konkuk National University. RM here. It’s Tuesday, a whopping forty-three degrees outside, and no, I was not the one who broke all the cereal dispensers in the cafeteria this time. That title now falls upon some other unfortunate soul. I wish you well.”

Yoongi exhales sharply through his nose, a snort more than anything, and Namjoon sends a deeply dimpled smile his way over the mic.

“Suga-hyung here is laughing at me,” he intones playfully, “but I don’t think he understands the embarrassment that plagued me my first semester of freshmen year.” Namjoon glances down to the chat box where Yoongi can write notes to him during broadcast. “‘You have atrocious control over your fine motor skills and will forever be cursed as a walking safety hazard”.  Awww, thanks hyung. What would I do without a support system like you in my life?”

A middle finger salute is what he gets, and Namjoon laughs too close to the mic, sends little puffs of breath through Yoongi’s headphones. He scoots back without Yoongi having to remind him that they’re not doing ASMR here, just far enough away to rest his chin in a palm as he delves into a story that happened to him today, something off script, something about the psych class he TA’s for, something about how a coconut both produces milk and has hair and is therefore a mammal, at least according to one student. One student that bled into five students that tipped the class into a heated debate about whether human beings truly have the ability to classify natural phenomena. 

Yoongi just… lets him talk. Because Namjoon can get away with this kind of shit. Because when Namjoon speaks like this, his voice loses the usual roughness and goes insatiably smooth; his crushed velvet voice, Yoongi likes to call it, but never to his face. That’d give him too much sway in their relationship, not that he doesn’t have it already. Not that he doesn’t know he has the perfect voice for radio. Not that everyone doesn’t know it. That’s probably why their department head keeps him even when he slips and drops some kind of foreign profanity or ends up on a tangent about gender dynamics in Disney films or talks for too long about his dog or, in this case, phylogeny.

 “Midterms are fast approaching,” Namjoon says, drawing Yoongi back in just in time for him to load up the first track for the night, “so here are some chill study vibes coming your way. Got a particular artist you’d like to hear? Go ahead and text it in, but you’ll have to bribe Suga-hyung for any chance of it getting played.”

The playlist for tonight is pre-selected, just like they all are, and their listeners know it. He gets requests in spite of that, though, and he does keep tabs on what the masses want, even if he never plays directly what they ask for.

(Although, Jungkook did bribe him with street food one show, and Yoongi played a song from the Top 40 and Namjoon still hasn’t let him breathe because of it.)

A string of comments rush through their messenger app, shoving the coconut related ones up and off the screen. While Namjoon jots a couple details on tonight’s (loose) script that he must want to mention later, Yoongi absently scrolls through the requests because he’s not a terrible person, he just thinks most people have terrible taste in music. Point proven when half the songs are already running on public radio and another third are K-pop. They’ve had this slot for months now and it’s like people never learn.  

“Jungkook’s asking for Bieber again. You going to cave?”

Kid owes me more than just lamb skewers, Yoongi types out to him. Little shit owes me the whole sheep.

Namjoon titters, goes back to writing (although Yoongi thinks he’s doodling now because he can see tiny little flowers, possibly a dinosaur, in the margins of his paper from here), and Yoongi returns to his browsing.

Most people just send in a title and an artist and the occasional begging emoji and call it good, but there’s always the few that give a little reasoning, a little story. Yoongi sips his lukewarm coffee, eyes catching on the longer messages.

 

[Maemae842] My boyfriend broke up with me, have anything for a broken heart?

[1996beans] I bombed a test today. Need something 2 rage 2. Kanye??

 [Vante] It’s just me and the moon tonight. Is there a song that exists to make me feel less like I’m the last person on earth?

 

Yoongi stares at his screen, hand still on the keyboard, cup pressed against his mouth, and reads that last message again and again and again and again until all the air seeps from his lungs and he, too, kind of feels like the last waking person on earth.

Yoongi takes a shuddering breath, opens up the music program where the playlist for tonight is running, makes an adjustment, and then forwards a message on to Namjoon.

The current song fades out, and Namjoon watches Yoongi over the mic as he speaks, his gaze soft with understanding. “To the listener alone with the moon tonight, this one’s for you.”

The intro kicks in, something dreamy and crooning and hopeful and warm, and Yoongi watches his screen for the full four and half minutes until a message pops up in the corner, short and simple and enough for Yoongi’s heart to start beating again.

 

[Vante] thank you

 

Namjoon starts to speak about dreams, the theme from last week that people sent stories in for them to discuss, and Yoongi signals that he’s going to slip out for a few minutes. Namjoon nods without breaking from the letter he’s reading, and Yoongi grabs his coat and shrugs it on as he makes for the roof.

Outside he shoves his hands in his pockets, rocks back on his heels, looks up at the sky where a full moon hovers heavy against the clouds, and takes in a breath so deep his lungs can’t quite hold it all in.

 

~~~

 

Yoongi’s not like Namjoon. He’s not darling and charismatic. He doesn’t have a sultry baritone. Doesn’t have the charming, knee-deep dimples of the wholesome boy next door. He doesn’t work well with most people, doesn’t like to put himself out there, doesn’t like to ask questions, doesn’t like to get too involved with matters not involving life and death or global warming or fighting someone on why Nevermind is the most groundbreaking album of the nineties. Yoongi is, above all else, a shadow of a human being; only in partial co-existence with the rest of the world.

Meant to be seen, not heard.

But Yoongi’s not meant to be seen or heard. He’s just here, unsure of everything from his major to his relationship with his parents to what he’s going to eat for dinner that night (if he even makes it home on time to actually have what could be considered dinner). If he should keep trying to feed the stray cat that lives around the art building because Hoseok’s allergic and the cat really doesn’t care for him or the five subsequent canned foods he’s tried to give it.

Yoongi watches the large, lumbering excuse of a feline blink at him lazily, turn tail to the dish, and trot down the sidewalk and into the brush without a glance black.

If it’s that fat (and picky) then it honestly probably belongs to someone, but Yoongi still finds himself coming back to care for it. Or try to. Hoseok says he’s soft. A marshmallow heart, the kind that get toasted on a real fire so the outside is burnt and crispy but the inside is still gooey.

 

~~~

 

I’m just saying, Jungkook signs, and even his movements are huffy with exasperation, that if she didn’t like Marvel, she should have said so from the get-go instead of waiting to tell me after we watched all three Iron Man movies. In a row. Just saying.

That’s why she broke up with you? Hoseok signs back, brows raised and with a bitten-back smile, and his eyes flick to Yoongi with obvious amusement.

Jungkook notices and doesn’t appreciate the masked gibe. She mentioned some other stuff, but that was the kicker. Apparently, I wasn’t paying enough attention to what she wanted.

You sure we’re still talking about movies?

Have no freaking clue anymore. Jungkook throws in an exaggerated shrug for emphasis, palms raised towards the ceiling.  It was all super vague. Why can’t people just say what they mean?

Hoseok makes a motion of agreement and they high-five each other.

It’s whatever, Jungkook signs again as he sinks back into the chair, and he certainly doesn’t look like a guy who just got his heart broken. I didn’t like her that much anyway.

Attaboy.

Plus, her nailbeds were always dirty. Grossed me out.

Don’t judge people’s hands.

I will if I have to look at them all day. And you’re acting like you didn’t go a week wearing the same t-shirt. Without washing it.

The laundromat on campus is expensive!

It’s like a dollar!

A dollar I don’t have!

Yoongi slams his hand down on the table, successfully interrupting the flurry of exaggerated hand motions. Jungkook and Hoseok went from a Level 2 to a Level 6 in less than twenty seconds, and Yoongi’s not in the mood for this much enthusiasm before he’s completely finished his afternoon coffee.

Both of you calm down, he signs, and he just got out of back-to-back piano studios and can barely get his fingers to move. I can’t think when you’re yelling at each other.

He started it. They both point to each other at the same time, faces equally vibrant with indignation, and Yoongi almost smiles. But if he does, they’ll hold it over his head all week, so instead he bites the soft spot of his cheek and rolls his eyes as he moves to slip his headphones back on. Just remember who bought your fucking coffee.

Speaking of… Jungkook holds out his cup and fucking dammit, why do his eyes have to look like that? Too big, too bright. No one has the right to look so fucking soft all the time. It’s like he knows he brings out the protective instincts of every human being in a twenty-three-foot radius. The table of middle-aged women by the front door look like they’re planning a kidnapping. 

Hyung, can you get me another cup? He mouths because his hands are full.

Are you a fucking beggar? Do you have no shame?

None, Jungkook mouths. None at all. I lost it a long time ago.

We both know you’re gonna buy it for him, so take mine while you’re at it, Hoseok gleams, holding out his own mug and giving it a little shake.

Motherfuckers.

They only smile brighter. Yoongi grimaces but still finds himself standing to grab their cups. He can feel their silent cheers behind him and drops the dishes off at the bin beside the trashcan, then heads for the register. He slows just enough to make sure it’s Jimin working, spots his bright pink head hovering beside the espresso machine, then saddles on up and leans heavily into the wooden counter with a sigh.

“Hey, hyung,” Jimin laughs, leaning down to match his pose. “Get roped into buying more coffee?”

It’s like they think I have money coming out my ass, Yoongi signs, and Jimin laughs as he pushes away to head for the steamers.

“You get a discount, so don’t complain so much. And you’re too soft on them,” Jimin calls out from behind the machine. “I’ll bring ‘em out. You can head back.”

Yoongi taps the counter twice as a thank you, then saunters back to his seat, ignoring a few of the stares he gets on the way.

He knows that their little group can be attention grabbing. Hoseok’s all hands all the time. Well, they all are, but him even more so, his movements larger than normal to capture all the enthusiasm his body never quite runs out of. Jungkook’s quiet until he gets comfortable, and that’s when he’ll start whacking people if he’s not paying attention.

Hoseok’s laughing at something Jungkook’s telling him, but Yoongi’s too far away to see his hand movements. All he knows is that half the café is staring at Hoseok’s beaming face as his laughter bounds across the room, utterly uncontrolled and genuine.

Jungkook’s giggling now, head bent over the table so he can press his cheek to the wood and grip at his stomach, tiny squeaking noises escaping here and there. They’re completely losing it, and Yoongi feels so warm he has to make a trip back to the sugar counter to fake grab a napkin because he doesn’t want anyone to see his face right now.

Yoongi thinks they’re both adorable. Both amazing. Two of his favorite people in the world.

But others don’t think that way. Others aren’t so kind.

Yoongi makes eye-contact with a couple whispering to each other, too quiet for anyone to hear except that Yoongi watches their mouths, catches the insults spilling from their tongues, and as Yoongi walks past them he kicks their table leg and flips them both off when they turn their startled eyes to him.

Chagrined, they duck their heads, and Yoongi saunters back to his table and Hoseok immediately fills him in on the latest story Namjoon just texted him about from the psych class he’s a TA for.

They literally spent half the lecture discussing if fish are wet if they live in water, Hoseok signs almost too fast, and Jungkook slaps the table as more choked laughter spills from his mouth, eyes squished and crinkling, and Hoseok delves into detail about fish fiasco that most likely will end in some deep debate about self-actualization and the individual’s idiosyncratic way of fulfilling inner achievement that Namjoon will, more than likely, try to tell him about when he drops by later. Again.

Yoongi doesn’t find any of it all that funny, but he hides his smile behind a notebook because the others are so into it. Their joy’s a little contagious, a lot actually, and if they find out Yoongi’s got a soft spot for them (read: his entire body), they’ll start trying to mooch barbecue off him, too. Not that they don’t do it already. Not that he doesn’t let them.

Yoongi flips them off, then catches Jimin smirking from behind the cake display case. WHIPPED, he mouths, enunciating it heavily just to be annoying, so Yoongi flips him off, too.

It’s not his fault. It’s not their fault. Someone has to protect them, and if it’s not Yoongi, then who else is left?

 

~~~

 

Yoongi goes to the concert hall on the north end of campus on Sundays. He rents it out for two hours on the mornings when it isn’t booked for an event, and he sits at the bench of the Steinway and just… waits.

There are studios in the music building available to students. Music rooms with equipment, including keyboards, that he uses for class. Classes with assignments. Classes with assignments that tell him what to do, what to play, what to make. But it’s not the same as being at a real piano. Being in a space so large and unfathomably claustrophobic at the same time. Being in a space where he’s expected to play… play what, exactly? What does an original piece entail? Yoongi can’t remember anymore.

Yoongi would play, but he can’t.

Namjoon calls it writer’s block. His professors call it nerves.

Yoongi just thinks all the music is slowly draining from his body, seeping from an opening somewhere in his heart. A ventricular septal defect. That’s what Jimin’s flashcards said when he helped him study for his test last week. All the bad blood mixes with the good blood, slows down the body, eventually kills you.

Yoongi runs through his scales just to break the silence weighing against his chest. He lets the notes linger for a moment before closing the lid, straightening the seat, and responding to Seokjin that he’d love to grab lunch so long as he’s no longer on that grapefruit diet. 

 

Jinnie Hyung [11:02am]

i went off that last week. missed rice 2 much. and ramen. and everything. all the foods

 

Yoongichi [11:04am]

Good to hear you’ve come to your senses.

 

Jinnie Hyung [11:05am]

looks like im only paying for my own meal today

 

 

Yoongi grins at that and tells Seokjin to meet him at the bus stop by the theater, then stands in the center of the stage and looks out across the empty audience and reminds himself that he has time, he has time, there’s still time left. He’ll find something to say. His graduation depends on it.

 

~~~

 

More than just his graduation depends on it.

 

~~~

 

Yoongi doesn’t frequent the undergrad library often. His freshmen year, back during GE classes where he had to take a course for intro piano and another for rhetoric, he stopped in to scan sheet music and occasionally print a report for class. Nowadays Yoongi can get everything he needs off the online database, and he only braves the glass building and it’s strung-out inhabitants when the printer in the music building is out of ink or he’s sent an SOS from Hoseok to drag Namjoon from the sunless void of the reference section because it’s been too long since he’s surfaced for food or water or social interaction and has officially slipped into cryptid status.

“I swear, I just need fifteen minutes, hyung.”

Yoongi looks at him, really looks at him. Namjoon’s hair is past the point of the usual stylishly disheveled hot literature professor vibe he tends to strive for and he’s wearing two different sandals and Yoongi’s pretty sure he had that shirt on the last time they met in the studio, almost three days ago.

His eyes are bright, but not too bright, and Yoongi reaches to adjust his glasses because they’re about to slip off his nose. Yoongi just nods because Namjoon is a mess, Hoseok made a good call on that, but he’s still with them.

Yoongi holds up two hands, fingers spread wide, and Namjoon looks down at them. Ten minutes.

“Got it,” he nods, already shuffling backwards, and Yoongi watches in growing horror as he almost takes out a student with a library cart. The girl swerves just in time, not even rattled, like she’s had to do this before. Probably has. Namjoon’s just as much a part of this library as the books by this point. “Just let me grab one more book.”

One book will actually mean three at minimum. Namjoon’s gone, though, lumbering off towards a section Yoongi’s not sure what houses. The grad libraries are a bit more filtered by subject, one for law and another for medicine and another for arts, but this one houses everything, and according to Namjoon, has a more seclusive desk arrangement and less fluorescent lighting.

Yoongi doesn’t feel like walking around, so he flips through some of the books left scattered across the table Namjoon’s been working at for god knows how long. There’s one for Nicomachean ethics and another covering political unrest in the north and another is a book of American short stories. Yoongi doesn’t know what Namjoon’s working on anymore. None of them do, not even Hoseok. They try to understand, but Namjoon’s in a dimension of his own creation and the best they can do is make sure he doesn’t get too lost in his head and eats a vegetable at least twice a week.

Yoongi recognizes a few of the short story titles from passing conversation, and he lets his fingers follow the scratchy handwriting Namjoon’s left on post-it notes tucked into the margins of one passage in particular.

“Can I check you out?”

Yoongi startles, presses the palm of his hand against the surface of the desk and another against his sternum and looks up to find a student worker hovering on the other side of the table.

It’s a boy. A boy in a silk pajama set. A boy in a silk pajama set with a nametag too small to read who blinks owlishly a couple times, and suddenly he inhales sharply and he changes face like when Seokjin does his exercises for a new role, less like the flip of a switch, though, and more like he’s melting into a different person before Yoongi’s eyes.

“Oh my god, I totally didn’t mean that as a pick-up line.” Yoongi realizes he’s glaring on accident, that he’s probably been glaring for a while. Hoseok says his resting bitch face is bad enough to scare off small children and the occasional dog, but before he can soften his eyes, the boy just keeps chattering. “I just meant the books. I mean, checking the books out. With you. For you. Your books. Not you. Because you can’t be checked out. I mean you can. But that’s not—”

A boy in a silk pajama set with a nametag too small to read who’s colorfully cursing in the thickest Daegu drawl Yoongi’s heard since he left home and it’s absolutely, without a doubt, the most beautiful sound Yoongi’s ever heard in his life.

The boy’s talking a mile a minute, and even if Yoongi wanted to say something, even if Yoongi was capable of saying something, his mind has completely blanked on the Korean language and that he is in fact an actual person existing in this moment. 

“Yoongi, will you help—Oh, Tae!”

The word vomit cease and desists, and both of them turn to find Namjoon shuffling up to the table with definitely not just one book. At least six are cradled in his gangly, goose-man arms and he’s purposefully avoiding Yoongi’s hard stare.

“Tae-yah, mind helping me check out?” Namjoon grins at the student worker, one cheek dimpling deep, and the boy must have been praying for a messiah because he just bobbles in agreement and gathers up all the books his own stick arms can hold and shuffles off towards the check-out desk with the loping grace of someone who’s used to being more coordinated with their body but suddenly forgot how to use their legs.

Namjoon grabs a couple more books that the boy wasn’t able to manage and catches Yoongi eye, sends him a quirked brow asking, what the hell did you do to him?

Yoongi shrugs, still a little stunned on his feet, and tries to cool his expression into something more collected, something indifferent and nonplussed and not like he wants to drown in the voice of the kid librarian in fancy pajamas who is apparently on a nickname relationship status with one of his best friends.

Yoongi has so many questions and he’s trying very hard to pretend that he does not have so many questions.

Namjoon’s still watching him suspiciously but slides away when he realizes Yoongi’s pretty useless for conversation in that moment.

By the time Namjoon returns with his bursting bookbag, Yoongi’s given himself a mental chastising, listened to some 2Pac, and chugged half his ice coffee to cool down. The October air helps a little, sobers him up just enough to keep a straight face, but when Namjoon asks why Yoongi looked like the guy from before, Tae, offered to give him a no homo bro-job, Yoongi threatens to play Cher’s “Believe” for the entirety of Namjoon’s show later that evening.

Namjoon laughs and then it’s quiet, the kind of sudden finality that makes Yoongi swivel with an edged eyebrow to question why Namjoon has stopped to block the sidewalk and maybe check to make sure he hasn’t broken a toe on an outcropping of concrete. Again.

Namjoon seems fine. Too fine. Just grins, big and dopey, and says, “God, you’re so whipped for a pretty voice, hyung.”

Yoongi blinks, sneers, then steals his americano because Yoongi bought it and Namjoon doesn’t deserve it, anyway. Namjoon doesn’t try fight him off because he’s laughing so hard.

 

~~~

 

“So, wonderful Konkuk youth; while you have been listening to the regular scheduled mix for the night, I have been subjected to eight rounds of Cher’s “Believe” and four rounds of “My Humps” by the Black Eyed Peas. For any of you who ever discover our dear Suga-hyung’s identity, I wish you all the best in that unfortunate meeting, as he carries a nasty grudge for someone with such a small body.”

“Make that five rounds of “My Humps”.”

 

~~~

 

SeokSeok [10:52pm]

Hyung wtf???? Joons been singing nothing but “u love my lady lumps’ 4 the past 2 hours

u realize how loud he has 2 be singing for me 2 hear him right??

 

Yoongles [10:57pm]

My bad.

 

SeokSeok [11:04pm]

Now its CHER???

WTF HYUNG  ಠ╭╮ಠ

 

~~~

 

Yoongi drops his bag on a table by the window. His usual one in the back is occupied by a couple getting a little too close over a plate of scones, but it’s Wednesday morning and Hoseok and Jungkook are in class, and he doesn’t need the same kind of privacy they like to have when they’re all together. Yoongi doesn’t really care where he sits when he’s alone; he doesn’t usually have to worry about people approaching him.

(The before mentioned RBF that can scare off dogs comes in handy most days.)

Hoseok gets on to him, though. Says that, as someone who signs, facial expression is an important part of communication and everything Yoongi says usually comes off as sarcastic because his hands say one thing and his face says another.

Yoongi just shrugged and shoved an entire chicken wing into his mouth.

“How can I help yo-oh!”

Yoongi’s breath hitches. He steps away from the register, almost trips into the woman waiting behind him and manages to catch himself before knocking over an end display of handmade mugs and an artful arrangement of organic coffee bean packages. But he can’t apologize to her, and he can’t apologize to the boy from the library who somehow magically started working here in what, the past four days? And he definitely can’t order a drink because this isn’t Jimin and he doesn’t have a pen or paper or his phone and where the flying fuck is Park Jimin?

Not-Jimin-Barista’s blinding, boxy smile is now something smaller, something more hesitant, and Yoongi does the only thing he can in the situation.

He turns around, gathers his things off his table, and leaves the building.

 

 

 

Jungkook mentioned it once and only once, one drunk and lonely Thursday night during finals last year, how hard it is when you can actually remember the sound of your voice, of birds in the morning and cicadas in the summer and midnight traffic and your best friend’s laugh; when you can remember what it was like to be normal. 

Yoongi never thought about it much until now, as he powerwalks away from the café, trying to put as many blocks between him and the shop as possible. Between him and the boy with the beautiful voice. Because Yoongi doesn’t really have anything to miss. Because he doesn’t have the right to be sad after everything that’s happened. Because there’s nothing wrong with him in the first place. Some people can’t whistle and some people can’t swim and some people can’t speak or hear or see or walk and there’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with them. Nothing wrong with him.

“Where’s the fire?” Namjoon asks after Yoongi throws the door to radio station open, and Yoongi ignores him and presses his back to the cool metal and slides down until he’s curled up on the floor and breathe, breathe, and his heart isn’t beating and hell, his organs need to do their fucking jobs.

“Seriously, you okay?” Namjoon asks again, voice heavier this time, and Yoongi smacks his forehead against his knees again and again and again and again and raises his arms over his head in exasperation.

And then he keels over to curl up on the floor.

Namjoon doesn’t look so worried anymore. This is usual Yoongi behavior, after all. Instead he hums, throws a piece of dried squid across the room for Yoongi to snack on like he’s some kind of feral cat, then spins around to go back to his screen.

Yoongi chews on the squid.

There’s nothing wrong with him. He’s a catch. At least, Namjoon says he’s a catch and Yoongi kind of trusts Namjoon with is life. Emotionally, at least. Maybe not physically. But Yoongi is, according to his friends, a great person to (generally) be around. And Yoongi likes people, likes to listen to them and watch them; but that’s not always enough. Usually never enough.

People want more, and they tend to be disappointed when Yoongi doesn’t have more to give.

Yoongi thinks of the boy from before because he can’t help it. Tae, his mind supplies even though he didn’t ask for it, because the guy’s voice was just that good. Because the way he smiles is like the fucking heavens opened up, like Michelangelo himself dropped the Korean equivalent of a modern-day David right behind the counter of Seokjin’s parent’s café and expected everyone to just be okay with the fuckery of it all.

Even if the guy wasn’t so stunning, so absurdly beautiful; even if he somehow miraculously thought Yoongi was someone worth his time—he’d definitely want more than Yoongi can give. They always do.

Yoongi chews on the squid, but he still doesn’t get off the floor until their show is about to start and Namjoon threatens to play the entirety of the Earth, Wind, and Fire album for the whole two-hour block. Which he would do. Because he’s done it before. And surprisingly people kind of liked it. Something Namjoon still holds over Yoongi’s head.

“Want to talk about it?” Namjoon asks as he adjusts his headphones, leaving one ear free, and Yoongi shakes his head and settles in cross-legged on his own chair.

Half-way through the show Hoseok slips in during a song, hair tucked under a ballcap and his loose tee sticking to his back, like he couldn’t be bothered to change after practice. Which he couldn’t and doesn’t ever and Yoongi always complains about him stinking up the sofa because he’ll lie down on it without showering first. 

Namjoon makes a swipe for his forehead, most likely going after some sweat Hoseok missed on his own, and Hoseok presses a sloppy kiss against the top of his head and drops a coffee on his desk an adequate distance from the keyboard and any stray elbows.

Hoseok strolls over and kisses Yoongi the same way, a bit wetter and a lot louder, just to get a rise from him. Yoongi just sits and takes it because his heart is a little heavy tonight, enough to keep him pinned in place.

Hoseok sets an americano in front of him, signs quickly, Joon said you were mopey.

A blank stare and Hoseok grins cheekily, signs again, Mopier than usual.

Yoongi taps against the cup, knocking some of the gathering water droplets into each other. Lifts his hands. It’s nothing.

You sure?

Yes. Go back to practice.

We’re done for today, Hoseok tells him, but moves away regardless. See you at home.

Yoongi salutes, watches Hoseok kiss Namjoon again, this time on the cheek, this time with less saliva and a little bit more adoration.

“Hobi’s too good for us,” Namjoon sighs wistfully, watching Hoseok leave with that resigned, old-man air of his, like he’s bird-watching or looking at the river scenery or something and not checking out his boyfriend’s ass.

Yoongi raises his glass in a toast to that, (not the ass part, even though Hoseok does have a nice one), and he and Namjoon air clink before drinking.

 

~~~

 

Yoongi clicks his tongue, egging the cat out, but the thing just sniffs at him, at the bowl of salmon, and somehow, as an animal that has the human equivalence of obesity, agilely leaps onto a dumpster and then a dividing wall and trots out of sight.

Yoongi lays on the sidewalk until someone stops to check on him, rightfully assuming that he’s been mugged, and Yoongi waves the guy off but doesn’t move from his spot in the grass for another half hour because his heart. His heart, contrary to the common misperception of his department, is… Well, he has one for starters, and some days it sits so big in his chest it feels like his ribs are splintering with the weight of holding it in place.

 

~~~

 

Yoongi’s back at the café and this time he has the safety of numbers.

I’m just saying, Jungkook signs as Hoseok holds the door open for them, and Jungkook turns so that they can follow his hands, if he had a problem with me hanging out with other people, that’s not my fault. 

 What the hell? Hoseok grimaces as they maneuver past a table of moms on a group date with their unruly children. He was seriously upset about you having too many guy friends?

Yeah! Jungkook almost takes out a girl passing by, and he bows so low his head almost knocks against his knees. When he raises back up, he’s in full-story mode again and completely misses the dazed expression of the girl who looks like she just had an out-of-body experience. Jungkook definitely has that effect on people. He even said ‘It’s either me, or them. Choose.’ Like what the hell? Of course I’m not going to pick him.

What a dick, Hoseok signs, and there’s an offended gasp from behind them. Yoongi turns to see one of the mothers shielding her toddler’s eyes; like the kid even knows what a middle finger means.

Hoseok still bows in apology, smile so blinding the mother looks a little shell-shocked for a moment. It’s enough time for them to scurry down the row to their table in the corner, the one with the plush velvet sofa and long table, and Yoongi plops into the overstuffed monstrosity and almost passes out.

A foot prods some life back into him. Rough day? Hoseok mouths and Yoongi just waves his hand around in vague motions, much like how he’s feeling.

Professors don’t seem to realize that students take other classes besides theirs. Seriously, I have enough homework this week to last me until new year’s.

You know what’ll make it better? Jungkook asks, eyes lighting up as he pulls out his laptop and a stack of books. Hoseok catches on and leans into the table. 

Coffee, they mouth at the same time, and their smiles are blinding when they turn to Yoongi.

Yoongi side-eyes them. You both finally buying?

Jungkook curls his lip a little in a pout, but Hoseok just reaches over to pat Yoongi’s knee. You’re so funny, hyung. I want a raspberry vanilla latte today.

Usual for me, Jungkook motions, attention already drifting to his paper that he, once again, has procrastinated on. Until the end of the semester, Yoongi expects to see Jungkook on the floor of his living room more often than he already is.

Yoongi scowls at them but still makes for the counter. He knows he lets them walk all over him. If he had just put his foot down years ago, this wouldn’t be happening, and he’d probably be able to afford a better apartment by now or some new sound equipment. One of his speakers is blown and he could use a replacement, but he also enjoys, you know, eating during the week.

Yoongi slows as he approaches the counter, searches for a familiar head of pink, and when he doesn’t find it, starts an internal meltdown session because fucking shit, he’s not prepared for this again.

A few seconds pass and Jimin swings into view from behind the steamer, and Yoongi makes a beeline for the register.

Jimin squeaks when Yoongi’s hand slams down on the wood.

“What the hell, hyung?” Jimin hisses, eyes laughably wide, but Yoongi’s hands are already flying.

What the hell? WHAT THE HELL? Where the fuck do you think you went without telling anyone, Park Jimin? Do you know the embarrassment I went through because you decided to cop out of your shift, you complete dickhole?

Jimin looks dazed. Yoongi wonders if he actually caught any of that. “Did you just call me an asshole?”

No. Dickhole. Dick, Yoongi makes an exaggerated motion that Jimin looks absolutely mortified by, hole. Dickhole.

“Hyung, you can’t do that in public.”

Dick, Yoongi smirks, lazily dragging his hand through the air before plunging it into the other, hole.

Jimin drags a hand across his face and glances over his shoulder to where the group of mothers (as well as several other tables) are watching them with various expressions of distaste, insult, and some in just utter confusion.

Now we’re even, Yoongi mouths after tapping the counter to get Jimin’s attention and lifts his hands to sign again. Mine and Jungkook’s usual, and Hope wants a vanilla latte with raspberry.

“You’re such a jerk, hyung,” Jimin whines, but he’s already writing on the cups and moving away from the counter. “I don’t know why I’m friends with you.”

Yoongi knocks the counter twice as a thank you and doesn’t think much of anything until five minutes later when a body lopes up beside his sofa. Yoongi looks over, is about to thank Jimin and maybe even apologize because he’d hate if the guy got fired for Yoongi’s public indecency even though Seokjin’s a pusho--

This is not Jimin.

It’s the boy from last time. Or the man. He’s got one of those ageless faces. Ageless and ethereal and oh holy hell he just called an actual fucking living person ethereal.

The guy is staring at him, too, mouth agape, like he’s recognized Yoongi and that’s not possible because they’ve had a combined three total minutes of interaction and he can’t remember Yoongi. Yoongi’s not that memorable.

 “For Yoongi-ssi?” The guy finally says, holding out his tray a little, and if Yoongi thought the guy’s voice was great before, hearing his name is so absolutely perfect he feels goosebumps rise up and down his arms.

If Yoongi could speak, he’d be speechless.

Yoongi zeros in on his nametag, larger and closer up this time, and spots in bulky letters the name “TaeTae” with a purple heart sticker beside it.

“Or not?” The boy, TaeTae (Namjoon just called him Tae, just Tae should be fine) is still smiling, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes and he makes as if to take a step back. “Sorry, my bad. Jiminie said ‘the surely looking guy in the corner who looks like he’s hates the world’ and ohmygod, not that you look like some kind of serial killer or anything, I mean, you did look a little angry but I mean, I would be to if I had to listen to that group of PTA moms chatter away about the most organic brands of oatmeal for an hour, which I guess I kind of have to and oh shit, I really shouldn’t be mouthing the other customers or crap, I just cursed on the job I’m not supposed to curse on the job fuck, I’m really sorry—shit.”

Yoongi, quite honestly, would listen to this guy talk about organic brands of oatmeal for hours. No complaints.

Tae covers his face for a moment with one hand and balances the tray with the other, and after a few deep breaths, drops his arm back to his side to give Yoongi the most practiced and polite grin he’s ever gotten from a customer service worker.

“Yoongi-ssi?”

Yoongi feels his head wobble in what he hopes is a nod.

“I have a vanilla latte with raspberry, an iced americano with two pumps of hazelnut, and one house blend with a shot of espresso?”

Yoongi does another half nod, bobble motion and Tae sets the cups down on what little space remains of their table that isn’t covered in laptops or textbooks. His movements finally gather the attention of Jungkook, who blinks up at the stranger and immediately looks away again, obviously trying to play his shyness off as indifference.

Hoseok, on the other hand, is staring at the guy like he’s some kind of fucking glow worm.

“Have a good day,” Tae bows low, and Yoongi wonders if he’s imagining the way he skips back to the counter, like he can’t get away from their table fast enough.

When Yoongi drags his gaze back to the others, Hoseok mouths, What the ever-loving fuck was that?

What? What happened? Jungkook signs, then makes grabby hands for his cup. Hoseok pushes it closer to him. What’d I miss?

Hyung totally just got hit on by a guy with the most amazing mouth I’ve ever seen.

Jungkook inhales sharply mid-sip and starts choking.

What? He motions, arm swinging wide like his face can’t convey enough of his disbelief. What’d he do? Did he ask you out? Hope-hyung, are you cheating on Namjoon-hyung?

Only cheating on his mouth, Hoseok signs without looking away from Yoongi. His eyes are still bulgy and weird, like he wants answers but doesn’t know the questions to ask to get them.

He wasn’t hitting on me, Yoongi signs before grabbing his coffee. He was just rambling or something.

He seemed cute, Jungkook finally responds after a thoughtful moment. Weird, but cute. Nice hands.

Then you ask him out.

Not my type, and Yoongi doesn’t miss how his eyes flicker to the front counter where Jimin is taking an order with that brilliant smile of his that Yoongi’s not sure how he keeps on all the time. Doesn’t he get tired of smiling all day? Doesn’t he run out of them?

Yoongi doesn’t comment on the glance. Jungkook needs to file his shit himself.

He was totally trying to flirt, Hoseok jumps in, back to half reading his books and half watching Yoongi with a smug expression. I could only hear parts, but he was real flustered.

Maybe he’s just jumpy by nature.

Or maybe he thinks you’re super hot and wants to get a little somethin’ somethin’, you know?  This is followed by a few suggestive brow wriggles and hand motions that would get them in more trouble if the PTA moms were still here.

Yoongi scowls at him. Fuck off, he mouths.

Hoseok just shrugs and signs, You need to accept that you are in fact super hot, hyung, and not some sort of soggy piece of toast. Hoseok taps the table. Right, Jungkook?

What? Jungkook mouths, looking away from his book, signs, I missed that.

Isn’t hyung super hot?

Jungkook chokes again and blushes all the way to his ears. Despite his embarrassment, he takes one long drag of Yoongi’s face like he’s seeing him for the first time, like Hoseok is actually asking a serious question, and Jungkook just nods a little to himself and then mouths, Yeah. He is.

Yoongi rolls his eyes and signs, You both are ridiculous and I’m never buying you coffee again.

You always say that, hyung, Hoseok gleans, settling into his seat to read.

This time I mean it.

Sure you do.

 

~~~

 

Yoongi really doesn’t buy them coffee. For a week.

After that they both apologize and promise not to bring up the bumbling barista with great hands and the peculiar smile ever again.

 

~~~

 

“Hello, hello, youth of Konkuk University. We have a lovely sprinkling of snow on the grounds, pumpkin spice lattes are officially on the menu at the campus coffee shop, and I just want it to be public knowledge that I am the one who broke the colored printer in the undergrad library, and I’m deeply apologetic for any inconvenience this may cause my fellow students.”

No one in the messages is really surprised by this (already common knowledge), but Yoongi still shares a few of the more colorful comments with Namjoon. They took bets on how many times he’d get cussed out. Namjoon stayed low and Yoongi smirks over his computer screen when two paragraphs of angry art student comes through, pushing Yoongi back into the lead.

“Fine. Coffee on me. Sorry for having more faith in humanity,” Namjoon bemoans during a song break, and Yoongi grins as he flits through the messages, searching for the best comments but none that are actually mean. Namjoon’s a little too tender for that.

He stops on one, but it’s not an upset student. Just a familiar screenname. A familiar message.

 

[Vante] I met a boy. A stunning boy. Can you have your heart broken by someone you’ve never spoken to?

 

Yoongi rubs his palms against his thighs and thinks, yes, yes, yes you can, you can, you absolutely can.

Namjoon stops chattering when Yoongi tells him he’s changed the playlist again. This time he doesn’t forward the message, though, just lets Namjoon think what he wants when the track, an intimate acoustic ballad, and by a Korean artist no less, begins to play.

He gets a text almost immediately.

 

Guk [8:17pm]

someone break up with u hyung?

 

Old Man [8:17pm]

It’s a request.

 

Guk [8:18pm]

ur playing alot of requests lately

lots of sad ROMANTIC requests

≖_≖

 

Old Man [8:18pm]

Since when do you use emoticons??

 

Guk [8:18pm]

Jimin

 

Old Man [8:19pm]

Uh-huh. Wanna talk about the sad romance there?

 

Guk [8:19pm]

ఠ_ఠ

???

 

Old Man [8:19pm]

Nevermind

 

Guk [8:20pm]

 

Old Man [8:20pm]

 

The song finishes. The original track that was next on the list begins, an edgy synth-pop mix that clashes with the wistful mood in the studio. Vante doesn’t respond like last time. Namjoon doesn’t question why Yoongi’s turning into a total sap. Yoongi finishes his coffee. Signals that he’ll be back.

He has three songs to kill before Namjoon needs him, so he heads to the roof again. He hates the cold, feels it more deeply than most (feels everything more deeply than most), but he needed the sky even if it’s a moonless night.

Except he’s not alone this time. There’s someone star-fished in the center of the space, taking up as much room as they can reach, their form dark in the muted glow of the emergency light.

Yoongi steps back with a hand still on the doorknob but stops when he here’s the humming. It’s not paced enough to be a real melody, but it shimmers on the air, making the roof seem just as intimate as it is large, and Yoongi takes an extra heartbeat to listen and finally recognizes lyrics. It’s the same haunting tune from the song he just played.

Yoongi listens a minute longer because he can. Because it’s what he’s good at. Because the voice is gentle. Because he feels… he feels… he feels.

 

 

 

Yoongi, that night, for the first time in seventy-seven days, writes a song.

It’s short, not a full song by any means, and it takes him an hour. He plays it only once all the way through when he’s finished, then he tucks it away in a folder on his external hard drive, tucks it away in his heart, just this small little thing, and lays in bed staring up at the patch of glow-in-the-dark stars in the corner above the window that Hoseok pressed against his ceiling when they first moved in that Yoongi threatened to take down but never did because his heart, his heart…

His heart.

 

~~~

 

Yoongi hasn’t seen Not-Jimin-Barista/Daegu-Librarian-Boy/TaeTae in two weeks (and he’s had to extract Namjoon from the library twice), which is why, as he stumbles up to the counter, already late for his meet up with Jungkook, he curses himself for being lulled into a false sense of security because it’s not Jimin at the register and where the fuck did Jimin go, his cherry blossom ass was just here.

“Oh, it’s you,” Tae says, and Yoongi might have been mildly offended if the guy’s grin wasn’t so fucking continental enormous.

Tae, however, must take something from Yoongi’s non-smiling expression because his face shuts like a door.

“I’m sorry, that didn’t—that totally didn’t come out right I swear I’m not like, completely troubled by your presence or anything it’s just you, shit. Shit, I’m sorry, fuck.”

The guy looks so totally lost, and instead of correcting him or, god forbid comforting him, Yoongi sticks his wallet back into his coat pocket and leaves without ordering.

When Jungkook asks why he’s late and without coffee, Yoongi promises to buy dinner next time.

Jungkook watches him oddly for a moment more but takes the offer nonetheless.

 

~~~

 

You have a good life, Yoongi thinks to the cat. Jumbo, is what he’s taken to calling her. Tonight the fat thing lumbers around the bowl Yoongi’s left out. Tuna this time. No proper cat can resist tuna.

Jumbo sniffs the food and makes the most animatedly disgusted face Yoongi has ever seen on an animal.

Are you a fucking cannibal? Do you just eat other cats? How the fuck are you so fat? He signs wildly, and Jumbo blinks lazily at him, one eye and then the other, and then yawns.

You have a good life, Yoongi signs this time, squatting down on his heels. Eat, sleep, some mild adventure, more sleeping, definitely more eating. You don’t have to worry about your parents getting old or paying rent or writing a song that doesn’t want to exist.

Jumbo yawns again and the broken bit of her tail whacks Yoongi across the nose.

Fucking punk, Yoongi tells her but still holds out his hand. Jumbo sniffs it and then makes her way back to wherever it is she calls home.

 

~~~

 

Yoongi’s at a party. Yoongi never goes to parties, even those personally thrown for him, but he’s at this one because the semester is over (as of five and a half hours ago) and everyone passed their classes (Hoseok’s still trying to convince Jimin that an 82 in Human Experience in Acute & Chronic Illnesses is considered a success and no one loves him less because of his grades) and they’re celebrating Seokjin’s birthday now because they were too swamped the actual week of his birth to do it (Namjoon didn’t leave the library for four days and the reference librarian called security after he started shouting at a ficus in French. Yoongi didn’t know Namjoon knew French. Namjoon didn’t know that he knew French.).

So here he is. At a party. Cheap whisky in hand. Eyes following Jungkook because even though everyone here was invited by Seokjin and Namjoon (who tend to have a great sense of character and can sense ableists and homophobes and other various cretons of the earth from three blocks away), Yoongi’s been burned enough not to trust a roomful of sleep-deprived drunks. Physically, vocally, emotionally.

Jungkook has Jimin, of course. Jungkook was quiet with strangers (strangers, acquaintances, classmates, professors, anyone he hasn’t had a meal with, anyone who wasn’t a dog actually) before the accident, so it’s not like he’s missing out on sustaining any stimulating conversation. But Jimin helps translate when he does have a thought or a joke or a story and Yoongi’s thankful for that because as much as he wishes he could help… He just can’t.

“Hi, hyung.”

Yoongi stiffens, lowers his glass where he was sipping the last of his drink, and casually glances to his left to find a boy tucked against the center seat. Only tonight he’s not wearing pajamas or the baby blue apron of the café. Tonight it’s dark, wide-legged pants and a collared shirt with so many buttons undone it’s not quite a shirt anymore, more like a suggestion of one. And loafers, but only half on his feet, curled in on the back for ease of removal. The same way Yoongi wears his.

Except it’s December. Twenty and dropping. Yoongi has on boots and two pairs of wool socks. Not loafers.

Yoongi blinks and finishes off his drink, then turns away before he stares any longer at the guy’s collarbones.

Yoongi doesn’t know why Tae is here. Here in Namjoon and Seokjin’s apartment. Here on the sofa, a Raphaelite painting come to life, for some unbeknownst reason calling him hyung with the familiarity of someone he’s known all his life.

“I don’t actually know if you’re my hyung,” the boy, Tae, starts, and Yoongi side-eyes him again only to find him watching the TV in the corner of the room where a spontaneous Mario Kart competition is taking place. Seokjin is, of course, crushing the what-can’t-even-be-considered competition. “But you look like a hyung, you know? Real serious and professional and tired. Namjoon hyung looks like that a lot, too, and he’s working on his grad degree so I figured you’re also in the grad program but everyone looks serious and tired this far into the semester so I’m really just guessing because I don’t actually know anything about you but that’s okay because I’m told I have too active of an imagination so I can fill in the gaps.”

Yoongi eyes the glass tucked between Tae’s thighs. Tae looks down as well, as if sensing the question.

“Oh, this is just apple juice. I’m not much of a drinker. Alcohol makes my tastebuds sad. Jiminie says it’s an acquired taste but he also one-shotted a glass of wine the first night we met so I consider his opinion an outlier that shouldn’t be counted.”

Yoongi drags his gaze up to Taehyung’s face (avoiding the collarbones this time), and finds Taehyung looking at him hopefully, his eyes clear, unabashed and open. Definitely not alcohol drunk, but buzzed off something a little more intangible, maybe.

He’s got spider-leg long lashes. A mole on the tip of his nose that would be unnecessary on anyone else but on him it’s just right.

“Anyway, your name is James. You’re a literature major specializing in dead languages with a minor in marine biology because you love the ocean and are worried about climate change’s threat on coastal and estuarine ecosystems. You have yet found a way to marry the two topics, but I have confidence in you. You have a gerberian shepsky because you like the name of the breed. Her name is Agnodice, based on the first female doctor to practice medicine in Athens and was really fucking good at it and you should read up on her if you haven’t heard of her. She’s really cool. Most women in history are. You unironically read poetry in your spare time and have a preference for Ginsberg, you actively have conversations with the moon every night, you keep a succulent on your windowsill because it’s the only plant you can keep alive, and you have an irrational fear of garbage disposals.”  

Taehyung takes a sip of his juice and smacks his lips a few times, like he’s parsing the taste of an aged wine. Yoongi watches his bony knuckles and long fingers bend around the glass, hands with history they are, hands with a story. Yoongi watches as he tips his head back against the sofa. Watches as his golden hair gleams under the soft lamp light.

“Oh! You’re probably wondering why I picked the name James,” Tae says suddenly, a little frantic as he sits up straight, tilts his head, smiles at Yoongi in a way that floods him with warmth. “It’s based off of James Whistler. The artist? His paintings remind me of you. He believed that color harmonies and mood were more important than subject matter in art. A lot of his work has this dreamy, atmospheric feeling to it. Nostalgic and delicate and beautiful. My favorite is ‘Nocturne in Black and Gold’. Here, let me show you.”

A stranger just said that Yoongi looks like a literature major with a global warming agenda.

A stranger just said that Yoongi’d pick a dog simply because it was called something cute and then name it after a leading female figure in history.

A stranger just said Yoongi’s favorite poet was a prominent gay activist and that his best friend is the moon and that he has a black thumb but still tries because he cares and that he fears the mundane.

The scent of cinnamon ribbons through the air between them as Taehyung leans in close, jostling their shoulders, and holds his phone over Yoongi’s knee to share his screen.

A stranger just said that Yoongi reminds him of a memory.

That he’s delicate.

That he’s beautiful.

And now he’s showing Yoongi a painting filled with shadowy hues and wandering figures and splashes of brilliant color, an intangible dream of emotion that makes Yoongi ache with tenderness, and he’s bewildered with it all because it’s too much, too soon, too fast.

His cheeks are warm. Yoongi can’t remember the last time he blushed. The last time he felt this warm. Human fondue. Like he’s going to melt into the seat cushions, into his shoes.

Yoongi places his hands on his thighs and takes a small breath, and when he looks over, Tae is wearing this loose, crooked smile and is still looking at the painting with a quiet reverence that Yoongi’s only seen on people in the hushed halls of museums and concert halls.

“Oh shit,” Tae whispers, and Yoongi realizes he was looking at his mouth this time. It’s a little square on the edges. “Oh shit.”

Tae looks terrified, his face twisting and contorting into something mortified and splotchy with embarrassment, wide-eyed and mouth agape.

“I’m so sorry,” he rushes, and then he chugs his apple juice, sets the empty glass on the floor beside his feet, and stands up and walks away.

Yoongi watches the pillow he was sitting on slowly re-inflate, and by the time the cushion has returned to proper plumpness, Yoongi finally lifts his gaze to look around at the bustling room. It’s too crowded for a two-bedroom apartment, like how elevators have weight limits, only an alarm isn’t going to sound because there are twelve too many people pressed into the kitchen. The alcohol is kicking in, everyone a little touchier and more talkative since he last took notice. Seokjin’s all about aesthetics so the only light available is the floor lamp beside Yoongi’s elbow and the Christmas lights still strung around the perimeter of the living room. And kitchen. And the entrance to the bathroom. Namjoon loves Christmas lights.

 Yoongi looks back to the cushion. Because the boy is gone. Pulled a Yoongi. Walked out, almost, without a word. Except he had many words. Many, many, many words.

Yoongi doesn’t have any, inside or out.

“Hyung?”

Jimin’s sitting in Tae’s spot, watching him carefully, a smile on his face that doesn’t curve his eyes enough. Yoongi blinks at him. His head’s a mess. His chest is worse.

“Hyung,” Jimin repeats a little louder this time, reaching for his knee to tap twice. Yoongi breathes in too deep then holds it for too long. “You okay?”

Yoongi nods. Jimin nods. Yoongi nods again.

“Are you drunk?”

Yoongi shakes his head.

“Do you want to go home?”

Yoongi nods.

“Alright. We can do that. Jungkookie wants to head out, too. You up for a pancake pitstop?”

Yoongi’s not up for pancakes, but he nods anyway. Jimin grabs their coats from Namjoon’s bedroom, Yoongi claps Seokjin on the back in goodbye, avoids Hoseok and Namjoon who are getting a little too intimate with the sugar cookie icing in the kitchen. He finds Jungkook saying goodnight to a couple of guys who must be from class, and Jungkook takes one look at his face and wraps both arms around his shoulders and all but whines into his neck. Yoongi huffs but doesn’t push him off because the weight is nice and Jungkook always smells like cotton fabric softener and sea island breeze candles.

They stop at a 24-hour café a couple blocks away known for their waffles and classic jukebox tucked away in a corner that only plays for whoever it deems worthy. Yoongi hasn’t managed to get it to work yet, but Jungkook shuffles back after lining up a queue of classic American big-band music, wearing a cheeky smirk when he spots Yoongi glaring because Yoongi's never kept his jealousy hidden about the matter.

Jimin orders a short stack with strawberries and whip cream while Jungkook goes for salted caramel and hashbrowns. Yoongi sticks with coffee and mooches off the eggs and bacon that come with Jimin’s meal.

Did something happen? Jungkook finally signs to him as he chews, and Yoongi uses a tip on his fork to create a swirl in the pool of syrup on the side of Jimin’s plate.

Just tired, Yoongi tells him, tells them both when Jimin looks up to see them signing and tries to join in. Just tired.

“Want us to spend the night?” Jimin asks. “Hobi-hyung will probably stay at Joonie-hyung’s tonight. Only if you want the company.”

Yoongi wants the company but he doesn’t want to ask for it. But if Jungkook and Jimin happen to start a movie when they get to Yoongi’s apartment, Yoongi doesn’t stop them. And if they happen to steal some of Yoongi’s clothes to change into, he doesn’t stop them. And if they happen to crawl into bed with him in the late hour of the night, one leg each draped across his hips, he doesn’t stop them.

It amazes him sometimes, how words sometimes just aren’t important, and how other times they mean absolutely everything.