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When Yoongi was little his dad would take him into the backyard to look at the sky together through their telescope.  Yoongi remembers it all in camera flash moments of clarity despite the years that have passed— the cocoa his mom would make them in the red thermos, the camping chairs, his father's low growl pointing out constellations and planets, voice scratchy and warm as the wool blanket wrapped around Yoongi’s shoulders. 

Yoongi remembers how, when he got sleepy, his dad would pull him onto his lap and tell Yoongi about things that lived in the sky, let Yoongi drift off and dream that he lived on the moon or on a star or somewhere pretty and bright.  

Those are some of Yoongi’s favorite memories.  He revisits them often, refuses to let them get cloudy with time, keeps them sugar glazed sweet best he can.  Some of them he’s even painted onto his skin with indelible ink, denying them their right to fade.

In the stars there were images.  Sometimes they made sense.  Sometimes Yoongi could barely see them, following his father’s finger pointing at the sky, squinting and frowning, giving up with crossed arms and a pout, believing only because his dad wouldn’t lie to him.  

His father would laugh softly and trace the shape into the air with flame, fingers like sparklers, little afterimages of light so that Yoongi could see what the sky was hiding from him, find the secrets the stars weren’t telling.  Bright bright bright.  Yoongi couldn’t make flames from his fingers—

(yoongi tried so hard to make sure it didn’t rain)

—but he would guide his father’s hands to draw other shapes, other things he saw in the sky, make up new constellations, the two of them giving the stars silly names.  

The best nights were the nights the planets were visible.  The best nights were the nights they saw comets.  The best nights were full moons or in between moons or any kind of moon actually.  

(the best nights were all the nights)

Yoongi loved the moon, especially when it was bright and full and round, but he loved it all the other times too.  His dad loved it a lot.  His dad told him all sorts of stories about the moon, even nights when they couldn’t go outside.  He tucked Yoongi into bed, lit up Yoongi’s ceiling with moons and planets and shooting stars and, if Yoongi tried really hard, little rain clouds.

(yoongi wasn’t— isn’t— wasn’t so good at magic. not like his dad was. but most people aren’t like his dad was. and whatever power yoongi had then he hasn’t had for a long time, not sinc—)

When Yoongi was a kid, he saw a lot of bright stars, bright planets, things lit up in a way that Yoongi now hasn't seen for ages, stuck in the city, stuck in all the florescent and never sleeping and go go go and no one has to be alone, no one has to be in the dark, have another drink, turn on another light, harsh club neons, afterimages that blur Yoongi's vision instead of clearing it even if he tries to look up.  

(no time to look up)

When Yoongi was a kid, he saw a lot of bright things.  He remembers looking at them, remembers seeing them.  They looked nothing like this.  Or everything like this.  Yoongi’s not sure.

Bright bright bright.

Jeongguk, who Yoongi does not yet know is Jeongguk, has got the whole universe in his eyes.  

He's laughing at something that someone else Yoongi does not know has said and his whole everything is lit up with all the stars.  Yoongi can’t look away.  He’s aware he needs to because he’s staring but he feels caught, ocean tides.

Yoongi had been glancing up in little flickers, the group’s conversation a gently lilting loud, soft giggles and murmurs, almost comforting.  He had looked up at just the right second to see the boy laugh loud, body tilted back in his chair.  When Jeongguk, who Yoongi does not yet know is Jeongguk, tipped back into his seat he shoved his round glasses up his nose with one insistent finger, smile caught on his mouth, face crinkled with mirth.  

He looked happy.  

He looks happy. 

Something about him makes Yoongi feel warm. 

It’s silly because Yoongi doesn’t know him but some people you just see and think,

gentle, they must be so gentle

Jeongguk, who Yoongi does not yet know is Jeongguk, laughs and looks down at his hands and then back up and his eyes snag on Yoongi, on Yoongi looking at him, on Yoongi biting his lower lip and looking at him.  

Like getting his headphones stuck on his desk when he goes to get up, a whole-body jerk when their eyes meet, a terrifying lurch.

Yoongi looks down, looks back up, looks down, looks away, looks back helplessly. 

The boy with stars in his eyes tilts his head in question and Yoongi ducks his head, very narrowly resists the urge to bury his face in his hands, to give into the lancing heat of embarrassment up and down his body and catch fire on the spot, to abandon his things and just run all the way back to Daegu to live in seclusion and peace in the spare room of his aunt’s house.

Outside the wind picks up.  Raindrops hit the glass of the window next to where Yoongi’s sat.  Hit it hard.  Giggling at him probably. 

Or—

trying to get his attention?

He looks up to see the boy with stars in his eyes, Jeongguk, who Yoongi does not yet know is Jeongguk, still looking at him.  There’s a half smile playing on his lips.  It’s a bit questioning, but it seems he’s not upset that he caught Yoongi staring.  Yoongi was prepared to give his best apologetic grimace but, when their gazes meet, the boy with stars in his eyes—

his mouth curves into a real grin.

Yoongi meets Jeongguk accidentally, on accident, by accident, by chance (on purpose on purpose on purpose) because he doesn't look away, doesn’t wince, doesn’t smile apologetically.

He smiles for real. 

Feels his face break like a wave, crest into something happy. And this pretty boy smiles back, toothy and silly and, for some reason, happy too.

"What?"  One of the boy’s friends says, craning his neck over his shoulder, eyes scanning the cafe, voice filtering through the soft noise.

Yoongi’s face burns.  He focuses his eyes on his books quick, doesn't look up, doesn't want to embarrass this boy with stars in his veins.

"Who are you smiling at?"

No one, Yoongi expects the boy to say.

"I don't know his name," the boy says instead, louder than his friend is speaking, loud enough to be sure that Yoongi will hear, shyness curling around the edges of the words like paper held to flame, "but I think I would like to."

Yoongi snaps his eyes up and meets the boy’s blinding ones. 

The boy with stars in his eyes is biting his lower lip hard, seemingly surprised by what he has said.

“Oh wow.”  One of his friends says and peers at Yoongi.  “Oh wow, how interesting.”  

Which, for some reason, makes the boy flush. 

After a few minutes of the two of them tentatively glancing at each other, one of the boy’s friends starts shoving at him with sweater paws, the other one gesturing toward the clock and then Yoongi and then the boy in some sort of back and forth melody.

Jeongguk, who Yoongi does not yet know is Jeongguk, gets up and walks over, says shyly with a soft melodic voice, a voice that Yoongi wants to pull around him like a blanket and sink into,

"Hi."

and it's surprisingly easy to say,

"Hi."

right back and then,

"My name is Min Yoongi."

“Jeon Jeongguk,” the boy says and Yoongi sinks into it and smiles and tries not to say, 

you have stars in your eyes

which only partially works because what he actually says is,

"You look like you have stars in your eyes," and then, "Jesus Christ, shit, sorry."

Jeongguk, flushing red like summer cherries, smile dancing around his mouth, says—

"Thank you."

and then his lips quirk and he adds,

"That was horrible, I can't believe you said that.  I can't believe I thanked you for saying that."

"Shut up," Yoongi says as irritably as he can muster which is not at all not at all not at all.

Surprisingly, almost alarmingly, Jeongguk doesn’t go away.  He doesn’t leave Yoongi alone to despair about the strange way he has chosen to interact with this pretty boy.  He doesn’t take his star-filled eyes back to his table to whisper with his friends.  He looks at the chair across from Yoongi and then back at Yoongi and adjusts his glasses and fidgets with his sleeve.

“Would you maybe like to sit?” Yoongi says, which is infinitely smoother than what he thought he was going to say which was,

can you smile like that again please, can you laugh like that again please, can you keep looking at me like that please, like I have stars in me too?

The boy with stars in his eyes, Jeongguk who Yoongi now knows is Jeongguk—

Jeongguk, Jeongguk Jeongguk, the name round as a marble, settling under Yoongi’s tongue like it wants to live there, 

—settles into the chair with a happy little grin.  He settles into the chair like he’s going to sit there and talk to Yoongi, like he wants to talk to Yoongi.  He settles into the chair like it’s comfortable and peers at Yoongi’s books and his closed laptop and his hands and his face and does not seem even a little bit perturbed by anything he finds. 

Alarming.  

“Are you a student, Yoongi-sshi?”  Jeongguk asks.

“Yeah, I’m in my fourth year.”  Yoongi says.  “I graduate in the spring if everything goes according to plan.  You?” 

“Second,” Jeongguk says, “but I just transferred here.  I’m— I’m still not really used to it, to the city and everything, you know?”

“You can call me hyung.”  Yoongi says, apropos of nothing and completely wildly and definitely strangely and most likely inappropriately.  

Jeongguk blinks, eyes careful now as they drag over Yoongi again, re-inspecting to see if he missed something before.

He’s going to go away now.  Yoongi has accepted this.  Jeongguk is going to say,

okay

but very very slow with all the vowels dragged out and then he is going to sort of fidget and then he is going to say,

well, I should get back to my friends

and get up and, very rightfully, go away.

Yoongi can almost feel the look that both Hoseok and Namjoon will give him, hear the gentle sigh that Seokjin will heave when Yoongi relates this encounter to them.  

This strange strange encounter at this café that Yoongi can never ever come to again, which is a shame because it’s quiet and homey and stuffed to the brim with flowers that shouldn’t be blooming in this season and the coffee is really good and pretty boys with pretty smiles and stars in their eyes come to this café. 

Outside the rain clatters down and—

 not encounter, this dream

—Yoongi corrects himself as he’s clearly fallen asleep because, alarmingly alarmingly alarmingly, Jeongguk’s face breaks into a wide grin, like he’s been given a gift.

He shoves his glasses up his nose with one finger and—

“Okay, Yoongi-hyung.” He says, the words seemingly easy on his tongue.

Yoongi watches Jeongguk’s face light up with the lightning outside, tampering his brightness somehow, almost making it easier to look at him.

“Jeonggukie, we gotta go,” the friend from before says, suddenly by their table, tall and pretty, delicate features, a windswept sort of long-hair curling around his chin and ears.  

Their other friend is standing by him, holding out Jeongguk’s bag and coat.

“Sorry.” He says and Yoongi doesn’t know if it’s toward him or toward Jeongguk or toward someone else entirely.

“Okay.”  Jeongguk turns to them and then back to Yoongi, “um—” he starts,

The one holding out the bag and coat pushes them into Jeongguk’s hands, steps forward and says with a tilted head,

“Hi, I’m Park Jimin.”

“Oh,” Yoongi startles a little for no reason except that he wasn’t particularly expecting to be spoken to, “hello, I’m Min Yoongi.”

“I’m Kim Taehyung,” the other boy says leaning around Park Jimin’s shoulder, blinking inquisitive eyes.

“Hello.”  Yoongi responds.

“Hello, Min Yoongi.”  Kim Taehyung says very seriously.

The two boys peer at him.

Yoongi’s at a loss.

“You guys go to school together?”  He tries.

“Mmhmm,” Park Jimin says and then his face relaxes into something soft and sweet, like he found whatever he was looking for in Yoongi’s eyes.  "Hello, Min Yoongi.”  He says quietly.

Taehyung smiles, boxy and big and breathtaking. 

“Um,” Yoongi says, “hello.”  

He’s really at a loss here.

“Great.”  Jeongguk says, leaning around his friends, pushing them back from the table gently.  “Thanks, guys.  Um—"

“Jeonggukie said, when you walked in, that you looked very interesting.”  Jimin stage-whispers to Yoongi.  “Just so you know.” 

“He did.”  Taehyung confirms, over Jeongguk’s strangled sound.  “And he said it again when you pulled out this,” he taps at the star map on Yoongi’s table.  Jeongguk is flushing, narrowing his eyes at his friends.  “And then he said you were pretty.”

“Okay, thank you.”  Jeongguk says, a little loudly. 

Very pretty.” Jimin emphasizes. 

“Please go outside now.” Jeongguk whispers. 

They smile at Yoongi, smile at Jeongguk, pull each other toward the exit, whispering like leaves rustling in the breeze, an undercurrent of sound that Yoongi can’t quite make into words.

When Yoongi looks back, Jeongguk is looking at the table, eyelashes fluttering, shy shy shy.  The tips of his ears are stained red.  Yoongi can’t see his eyes to see if the stars are still in them or if they’ve been dimmed. 

Jeongguk glances up, fingers tight on his raincoat which is bright yellow and possibly—

steaming?

“I’m sorry.”  Jeongguk squeaks, diverting Yoongi’s attention.  Jeongguk clears his throat.  “Sorry.”  He says again, voice much more normalized.  

“No, I have friends too.”  Yoongi says.  “I get it— they were just teasing.  It’s cool, you don’t gotta explain, I know they were joking.”

“No,” Jeongguk sort of stutters, “no, I mean, I did, um, say those things.” 

Yoongi’s not sure who turns a brighter pink at that, but he thinks it’s him.  He feels overheated, picks at his sweater sleeves, chews on his thumb out of habit.

“I’m sorry that they said it like that though,” Jeongguk adds, “and sorry if that’s weird.  It is weird, huh?  Shit.”

“No.”  Yoongi says. “It’s— it’s fine.  Um.  People don’t say that about me a lot so— thank you.  It’s nice.”

Jeongguk’s eyes snap to him.

“They don’t?”  He seems genuinely confused.  “But you are pretty.”

Yoongi keeps this tucked safe inside him, hidden just behind his heart, small as a berry and just as sweet.

“Thanks.”  Yoongi says, feeling totally flustered, plucking at his sleeves in earnest now.  “Um, thank you, but also I should apologize.  I was creepy like— you looked up and I was just looking at you and sorry about that, sorry that I was sorta staring you just—”

Jeongguk looks at him straight on.

“Your laugh was really nice.” Yoongi breathes, “you looked so happy and it’s so dreary out,” outside the rain bats against the window like a cat as if to prove Yoongi’s point, “and you just— seemed warm and you—”

“Have stars in my eyes?” Jeongguk murmurs, biting his lower lip to hide away a smile.

Teasing, Yoongi thinks, absolutely about to fall into the biggest and most useless crush of his whole entire existence with this soft and sweet boy who’s wearing big round glasses and a cashmere sweater and is teasing Yoongi and it’s all so much. 

“Yeah.” He says just to see what Jeongguk does, “yeah, you do.  Hyung thinks you’re very pretty too, Jeongguk-ah.”

Oh,” Jeongguk breathes, curling into a tiny pleased ball, shoving at his glasses on his nose seemingly for something to do, “thank you.”  

Yoongi might be a tiny bit in love.

Shut up, Yoongi thinks, stop it, you’ve known him like 30 seconds, stop it.

“Well then.”  Yoongi says.

“Well then.” Jeongguk repeats.

There is a little pause and then a rustle like a springtime brook as Jeongguk stands.

“Well then.”  He says again, but so quiet Yoongi’s not sure he’s supposed to respond. 

“I’ve not been here before.”  Yoongi says because why not.  “Do you come here a lot?”

Jeongguk tucks his bag over his arm and blinks down at Yoongi and he’s so so warm that Yoongi can feel him from across the table maybe.

“Yeah,” Jeongguk says, “yeah, I come here a lot.  It's nice, quiet.”  Jeongguk pulls on his rain jacket as he speaks, and he looks a little bit like a duck wearing it, but when he chews on his lip he has little rabbit teeth and nothing about him seems anything but soft and warm and Yoongi’s aware he’s being more than usual levels of ridiculous, even for him, and he needs to get it together.

“Yeah, it seems like.”  Yoongi fidgets and then throws caution slightly to the wind.  Just a little.  “Do you come here on Thursdays too usually?”  He watches Jeongguk’s hands stop for a second on his jacket buttons and then move again, quick and sure. 

“Sometimes.”  Jeongguk muses, glances at Yoongi.  

“What about this Thursday?” Yoongi asks, holds his breath, gives into the flush he can feel high on his cheekbones.  He shrinks into his sweater a little more, fidgets with the cuffs.

“Maybe.” Jeongguk shoves his glasses up his nose and blinks down at Yoongi.  There’s a gentle smile playing on the corners of his mouth.  “Why?”  He asks. 

“Maybe I’ll see you on Thursday.”  Yoongi says, throwing caution all the way into the wind because he thinks— he thinks maybe—

“Maybe.”  Jeongguk’s nose crinkles when he grins.  

“At like 4:30 maybe?”  Yoongi says, darting eyes to the clock that reads 5:42, darting eyes back to Jeongguk, picking at a hangnail and telling himself to stop.

Jeongguk takes a step forward and he’s really close to Yoongi now which is maybe bad because Yoongi is—

outside the rain falls harder, whips at the windows,

—Jeongguk shakes his head.

“No,” he says quietly which is—

rejection.  Out of left field, but territory Yoongi is accustomed to. 

“Right.” Yoongi says, trying to get his heart to stay above the surface, focusing his eyes on the worn wood of the table so Jeongguk won’t see the hurt, won’t pity him.  Yoongi had thought— he’d just thought maybe— “Right, I mean, maybe not.”

“I have an evening class on Thursdays,” Jeongguk whispers, “I have to leave here at like 5.”

Yoongi meets Jeongguk’s eyes jerkily.

“Say an earlier time, hyung,” barely audible.

“At like 2:00 maybe?” Yoongi breathes.

Jeongguk grins, blindingly bright.  

“Maybe then at like 2:00 we might run into each other here.”  Yoongi’s voice is thready, he feels a bit light-headed.  

“Okay.”  Jeongguk says.  “Maybe.”  He adds with a cheeky grin.

“Maybe.”  Yoongi repeats. 

“Okay.” Jeongguk says. 

“Stay dry out there.”  Yoongi says wildly.

“You too.” Jeongguk glances at the door.  “Bye hyung.” he whispers.

“Bye.” Yoongi whispers back and watches Jeongguk shuffle outside to his friends, all of them bundled under raincoats and umbrellas, three patches of color in the overcast gloom.  They bend over Jimin’s phone, debating something.

Jeongguk glances back before he leaves and sees Yoongi staring at him fucking again because apparently Yoongi can’t act like a normal person.  

Yoongi raises his hand and waves, painfully awkwardly.

Great.

Jeongguk waves back.

“Oh my god,” Yoongi whispers to himself, “what the fuck.” 

 

 

 

 

 

“Why are you wearing your lucky sweater?”   Seokjin asks.

“I’m not.”  Yoongi squeaks, keys clattering from his hand to the counter.

“You are.”  Seokjin says flatly.

“No.”  Yoongi lies as he scoops the offending keys back up and adjusts his bag on his shoulder.

“Uh, yes?”  Seokjin says.

“No.”  Yoongi whines and pulls the cuffs over his hands.  “It’s just a sweater.”

“Yeah, your lucky one.”  Seokjin says.  “What’s happening, where are you going?”

“I’m going to get coffee.”  

“Are you?"  Seokjin looks suspicious.  

“Yeah.”  Yoongi relaxes his face into impassivity. 

“Shall I come along then?”  Seokjin asks.  "To get coffee?"

They stare at each other.

“Sure.”  Yoongi says, because Seokjin is still in his pajamas and has bedhead. “Great.  Feel free.”

“I might,” Seokjin hisses, “you don’t know.”

“I said that would be great.”  Yoongi hisses back. “I said feel free.”

They stare at each other some more.

“Wow, a lot of thigh on display there, hyung, but like high fashion ripped jeans thigh.” Hoseok says sleepily, peering into the kitchen to see what the fuss is.  “You have great legs already but man those jeans work on you.”

“Oh good.”  Yoongi says before he can stop himself, his shoulders slumping in relief.

Hoseok suddenly seems very awake.

“Oh good?”  He asks.  “Is that your lucky sweater?”

“Oh my god.” Seokjin says, understanding flashing in his eyes.  “Oh my god, he’s going on a date.

"What?"  Hoseok turns wide delighted eyes to Yoongi.  “Are you?"

"No."  Yoongi says weakly. 

"Oh my god."  Seokjin says.

“With who?”  Hoseok shrieks, running toward Yoongi.  Yoongi ducks under his arms.

“With who, Yoongi-yah?”  Seokjin shouts as Yoongi dashes past him.  "Hey! With who!"

“Gotta-go-now-okay-bye” Yoongi says in a rush as he grabs his jacket and heads for the door.

“Whom.” Namjoon’s voice comes drowsily from the living room right as Yoongi makes it outside the apartment and then— “Good luck, hyung.”

  

 

 

 

 

Yoongi gets to the café at 1:27 which is honestly later than he thought he would.  He had been standing half a block away debating how early was too early before the rain and the cold and the desire to find out if Jeongguk was there got the better of him.

“Hi, Jeongguk says from a back table, a giant navy sweater pulled over his hands, hair tousled and falling in his eyes, lips red like he’s been chewing at them.  “Fancy seeing you here.”  He adds.  His glasses are hooked on the neck of his sweater, dragging it down a little and exposing skin that looks sun-warmed despite the weather.

“A real coincidence.”  Yoongi says as he drips on the floor and blinks rain out of his eyes.

“You should get a better umbrella.”  Jeongguk says, taking Yoongi in with a little quirk to his lips. “Although wet kitten is an aggressive look, I like it.”

Yoongi chooses to ignore that, puts down his bag, pulls off his coat, runs fingers through his slightly damp hair.

“I’m only slightly damp,” he informs Jeongguk, “besides it’s raining sideways so there’s really no help for it.”   

“It was nice this morning,” Jeongguk says, “I’m glad I brought an umbrella, just in case.”

“Yeah.”  Yoongi mutters, a little distracted as he shakes out his hair and tries his best to not look like a wet dog while he does it.  

“Raining last time I saw you too, hyung.”  Jeongguk says very evenly.  “What a coincidence.” 

Yoongi shivers and stills.

Jeongguk blinks once twice three times.  His mug steams in his hands distracting Yoongi.

“I was gonna buy you coffee.” Yoongi says pointing at Jeongguk’s drink.

Jeongguk starts, looks down at his mug, back up at Yoongi, bites down on a grin.

“Oh.” He says. “Well, this is a coincidental meeting, right? You can’t buy me coffee because of a coincidence.”

“Could I buy you coffee if it wasn’t a coincidence?”  Yoongi blurts out.  

Jeongguk blinks at him.

“Like if we were on a date.”  Yoongi clarifies, probably unnecessarily.

“On a—” Jeongguk says. 

“I like men.”  Yoongi informs him.  

Jeongguk stares.

“Oh my god.”  Yoongi says.  “Sorry, shit, sorry, that was a really weird way to say that, I just felt like I was, like, misunders—”

“I like men too.” Jeongguk cuts him off, grins that little grin that squishes up his nose and why is Yoongi already cataloging his grins oh my god.

“Well then.”  Yoongi says.

“Well then.”  Jeongguk repeats.  “Are you going to follow that up with anything?”  Jeongguk asks when Yoongi doesn’t speak.

“I’m sorry about all this.”  Yoongi says earnestly.

“Oh.” Jeongguk sinks back in his seat.  “Even the coffee date thing?” 

“No,” Yoongi says too quickly, “no, I would— I would like— coffee.  With you.  Sorry.” 

“Did you just ask me out and then apologize?”  

“Yeah,” Yoongi breathes, “I’m bad at this.” 

“Bad at what?” Jeongguk blinks up at Yoongi.

Flirting with pretty boys, Yoongi thinks and is pretty sure he shouldn’t say, which mostly works except for the part where he just ends up saying,

“Flirting.”

A tiny shy smile flutters on the edges of Jeongguk’s lips.

“Are you flirting with me, hyung?”

“Yeah.”  Yoongi rasps.

Jeongguk hums.  “Oh good.”  He says, disastrously soft and pretty, “oh good.  I was hoping you were.” 

Yoongi’s brain totally gives out on him and it’s dead silent for about an eternity, give or take a few seconds, before he comes up with—

“Sick.”  

Jeongguk laughs like goddamn windchimes in a thunderstorm.

“Wow,” he tells Yoongi, “you are bad at flirting.” 

“I’m leaving.”  Yoongi says, and goes to get something warm, feels Jeongguk’s eyes on his back while he orders, pays, waits for his drink up by the counter for no reason except to pull himself together maybe, if that’s a thing he can actually do.

(Yoongi’s seriously beginning to have doubts that’s a thing he can actually do.)

When he sits back down, Jeongguk leans forward and peers into Yoongi’s cup.

“Black?” He queries. 

“There’s sugar.”  Yoongi says.  “And a pump of hazelnut syrup.  Never tell anyone.”

Jeongguk’s eyes dance and then catch on Yoongi’s wrist.

Yoongi looks down. 

Peeking out of his sleeve that he’s pushed up a bit is a glimpse of dark ink, partially covered by his watchband.

"What's that?" Jeongguk reaches out as he speaks, takes Yoongi's wrist in his hands, fingertips so warm that Yoongi lets out a little gasp. "Sorry," Jeongguk says immediately, dropping Yoongi’s hand, flushing that summer cherry red again, "sorry, m’sorry."

"No," Yoongi says, “no, it’s okay.  It just— caught me off-guard, is all.  People don’t touch me a lot.”  He tugs at his watchband and pulls his watch off, catches it with his fingertips, drops it on the table.  He rolls the sleeve of his sweater up until his forearm is completely bared and holds it out for Jeongguk to inspect.

Jeongguk touches Yoongi tentatively and, when Yoongi doesn’t start, pulls his arm a little closer, bends over it.

The phases of the moon, barely there to full and then back to barely there across the inside of Yoongi’s left arm.  The artist who did it was good, used real photos of the moon that Yoongi’s father had taken over time, got all the little lines, made it delicate delicate, never harsh.  Yoongi’s biggest tattoo in one sense, his smallest in another.  

When Jeongguk looks back up he’s smiling.

"The moon." He says almost gleefully.

"Controls the tides."  Yoongi says instead of for my dad because it’s maybe a little early to share every single overly-ripe desperate thing in the pit of his stomach.  "I always thought it was strange that something that far away does that much, gives us that much light and power and pretty things, ocean waves and currents and—" He cuts himself off, shrugs.  "Thought it was magic, when I was little."

"Do you like magic?"  Jeongguk asks leaning forward, voice conspiratorial.  His fingers are still on Yoongi’s skin and either Yoongi is unnaturally cold or this boy is unnaturally warm because his touch is lancing heat into Yoongi’s bones right down into his marrow.  Yoongi doesn’t know what to say— 

do you like magic?

An impossible question.

"Magic’s not so real," Yoongi answers instead, which is a lie a lie a lie and they both know it.  Magic is very real.  Yoongi is a little magic, not supposed to tell anyone, never tell anyone, because people know about magic, but they don’t like it, react with harsh words, sometimes violence.  Not so much anymore but still.  

Secret secret.  Out of habit now if nothing else.

Yoongi’s not so magic anyway, just a little.  A bit.  Some.  Just sometimes the rain follows him, sometimes gets stronger when he feels off balance, sometimes there’s all sorts of thunder and storms, sometimes he gets kissed and the power goes out.  

(and sometimes he makes people feel a bit rainy inside. sometimes sometimes. sometimes he gets kissed and people fall back onto his pillows with a little sigh and whisper i feel so sad.  yoongi doesn’t mean to do that though. he doesn’t, he doesn’t.)

He could do it all better when he was little, summon storms and all that, but not so much anymore.  Now it’s more of a thing that just happens and all Yoongi can do is try to shush the rains and carry an umbrella just in case.  

(Children are always better at magic anyways.  Just like how children can see ghosts and fairies and know about monsters until they don’t anymore, all grown up, no time for that, no time for stories, bad things happen, the world is cruel and there aren’t really happy endings.  You forget how to see magic, how to use it.  You press it and pack it down and control it until you forget how to control it— but by then it’s too small and sad to do much of anything which makes it not very magical at all.  You learn about the word coincidence so that you can look at magic and say that was strange, what a coincidence and shake your head and carry on with your day.)

Jeongguk looks at him.

“A little real.”  Yoongi amends.  “It would be nice if it was really real though, like how it used to be, like in the stories.  Don’t meet so many people who are magic nowadays, and most people who have magic can’t do much of anything, really really."

true true true

Most magic now people wouldn’t even bother to write stories about.  It’s all just little things.  The equivalent of parlor tricks at inopportune times. 

“Make plants grow faster.”  Jeongguk says.

“Make clouds go away.”  Yoongi nods.

“Make it rain?”  Jeongguk asks gently, flicking his eyes to the window and then back to Yoongi’s face.

raining last time I saw you too, what a coincidence

“Maybe.”  Yoongi whispers and waits for Jeongguk to pull away because sometimes, sometimes when people are sensitive to that sort of thing like Jeongguk must be, Yoongi makes them feel a bit damp, a bit dreary, a bit of a puddle inside their hearts even if he doesn’t kiss them.  Sometimes people pull away, especially when Yoongi’s all out of sorts like this, forgetting about words like coincidence, forging coincidences, forgetting that magic isn’t real.

Yoongi is hyper aware of Jeongguk’s hand on his forearm, Jeongguk’s thumbs soothing over his full moon.  

He waits. 

Jeongguk doesn’t pull away.  

Jeongguk traces the phases of the moon idly.  He’s not looking down though.  He’s looking at Yoongi.  He’s looking right at Yoongi. His eyes have all sorts of pretty stars.  Cloudless night.  

“Your fingers are really warm.”  Yoongi tells him.  

Really warm.  

Hot.

Jeongguk startles, drops Yoongi’s arm.

“Sorry.” He says, face suddenly tight, pulling his hand to his chest, pulling the edge of sleeve over his fingers.  “Sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry about that?”  Yoongi tilts his head, not sure.  “I didn’t mean anything bad by it.”  Yoongi’s arm is cold.   He fixes his watch back against his skin, looks for marks, doesn’t even realize he’s doing it.  There aren’t any—

of course there aren’t any

—“I wasn’t upset.”  He says. 

"There's a rabbit on the moon," Jeongguk says out of the blue, leaning back in his chair, a mixture of confidence and shyness in his posture.  "Do you know that story?"

"Yeah," Yoongi follows Jeongguk’s lead, the conversation change, "yeah, my dad showed me when I was younger.  Looking at the stars and stuff was sort of our thing and he— well, he liked the moon a lot.  I think because he liked the sea and all— we lived by the ocean for a long while." 

Why is he saying this?  

Jeongguk looks at him and then his whole face crinkles with a grin.  He's so bright Yoongi wants to look away.  He lowers his eyes, but then he’s looking at where Jeongguk’s sweater falls against his neck, collarbones peeking out, and that's a different kind of worse so Yoongi lifts his gaze again and meets Jeongguk’s eyes.

“I love the ocean,” Jeongguk says, “I grew up in Busan.”

“Daegu.”  Yoongi whispers. “Well, born there but we moved when I was a baby.  I lived on Jeju until I was fourteen, then back to Daegu.  Not so close to the ocean.”

"Your voice sounds a bit like the ocean," Jeongguk says, eyes amused and dancing and lit up like stars, “and I’ve got stars in my eyes, what a pair.”  He's teasing, just a little, but he’s teasing Yoongi again and— “your voice does though.”  He says, eyes suddenly soft and shy.  “Like riptides kinda.  I like it.”

Yoongi's maybe a little gone for him.   

“Thank you.”  He whispers.

There’s a silence, not awkward but hanging full like summer fruit, heavy and sweet, and then Jeongguk smiles, tentative and gentle.

“Do you have any other tattoos?”  

“Yeah,” Yoongi says, “yeah, I got constellations all over my ribcage and arms and back and stuff, a map of the night sky.”  He tugs at his neckline to show, just below his collarbone, one star and the tail end of one delicate line, part of a constellation he and his dad had made up out of real stars.  “You can kinda see one.”  He drags his finger by memory, traces the line down to where the next star is hidden.

“Oh,” Jeongguk breathes, leaning forward, fingers reaching out and then hesitating. 

“You can touch?” Yoongi says uncertainly. 

Jeongguk does.

One fingertip.  Barely there.

Yoongi aches.

“There are stars all over you?” Jeongguk asks.

“Yeah, maybe I can show you sometime.” Yoongi says. “Not, um, obviously not right now or like— that sounds really forward, fuck, I just meant that like, if you wanted to see them I could at some point,” his face is flushed with heat he can’t pretend away.  He clears his throat, tries to smile and hopes it doesn’t look like a grimace.

“S’okay,” Jeongguk murmurs, “I understood what you meant.” He trails his fingers over the neckline of Yoongi’s sweater, down Yoongi’s arm, taps on Yoongi’s waning crescent moon, thumbs at his watch.  “They sound so pretty, hyung.  I would like to see them one day if you wanted to show me.”

Yoongi's maybe kinda gone for him.   

“Okay.”  He says, voice hoarse.  “Yeah, one day.”

Jeongguk sits back with a shy smile.  

“So, what do you study at school, Jeongguk-ah?”  Yoongi asks, releases his neckline, falls back in his chair.  He doesn’t pull his sleeve back down though, like he thinks maybe Jeongguk will want to touch his arm again.  Like he wants Jeongguk to, wants Jeongguk to trace the lines of his tattoo again.

(he does)

“Animation.” Jeongguk says and his eyes light up light up light up as he opens his mouth and lets loose a pretty little torrent of words.

Yoongi’s so fucking gone.  

 

 

 

 

 

"What are you doing?" Hoseok asks. 

"Dying." Yoongi croaks from the couch.

"We all are."  Namjoon pulls one of Yoongi's hands off his face and peers down at him, frowns.  “At what rate, an exponentially faster one than usual?"

"Yes," Yoongi breathes, “much much faster.”

"Okay."  Namjoon says slowly, sinks onto the couch next to him. 

"You are a little warm.”  Hoseok adds, leaning over the back of the couch, one hand pressed to Yoongi's cheek.

"I gave him my number."  Yoongi rasps.

There's a pause.

"That was forward of you?"  Seokjin guesses, tossing himself over the side of the couch.  "Or, more possibly, very normal of you."

"Wait, gave your number to whom?"  Namjoon asks.  "Seokjinie-hyung, ask to whom he gave his number first." 

"I'm not saying whom," Seokjin grouches, shifting so Hoseok can sit down next to him, "even if technically—" 

"A boy with stars in his eyes."  Yoongi manages, cutting Seokjin off. 

"A boy with—" Namjoon starts but Yoongi's phone clatters on the glass top of their coffee table before he can finish his sentence.

Hoseok leans forward.

"An unknown number," he states, "is texting you.  This person has said: hi hyung, maybe this is too soon to text but i didn't want you to think i wasn't going to text," Yoongi's phone buzzes again, "and: this is jeongguk from the coffee shop, sorry, i should have lead with that," Yoongi’s phone buzzes as Hoseok goes to sit back and Hoseok sighs, leans forward to look at the screen again, “and: sorry for double texting, triple now, i should have consolidated”, Yoongi’s phone buzzes again before Hoseok can even sit back, "and now, for some reason, a rabbit emoji, like the one with the lil teeth, and a moon."

Yoongi makes a muffled sound into his hands.

Rain batters against their windows.

“Aw,” Hoseok says, “you like him.”

“Cute.”  Seokjin says, “all of this, the texts, your reaction, the fact that you said he had stars in his eyes, just objectively very cute.”  

“Is he cute?”  Namjoon asks. 

“Yes,” Yoongi whispers, “yes, he— he—”

“He?”

He keeps teasing me, Yoongi doesn’t say, and he laughs really loud and his eyes got so bright when I told him I was studying astronomy and anthropology. He’s a music minor but his major is animation because he says he wants to understand people and then he got embarrassed and put on his glasses like he could hide.  When it was time for him to leave he frowned and touched my wrist real careful and asked if we could maybe coincidentally meet again.  He talks about magic like it’s not scary. I don’t think I make him feel damp or dreary and he makes me feel warm and he’s so— so—

A flash of lightning lights up the apartment crackled with thunder so close together it’s like they happen at the same time.

“Oh wow,” Hoseok says, flinching on the couch, “you really like him.”

“I don’t even know him.”  Yoongi gets out.  “I just met him, I literally just met him, no, it’s a bad idea, I’m not— I don’t—”

Thunder crashes and their lights flicker once then twice, and the generator buzzes as it works to compensate.

“Hmm.”  Seokjin hums. 

“This is pretty bad for you,” Hoseok muses, “I don’t think you’ve ever made it storm like this.”

“No,” Yoongi gasps, “I have, I’ve done worse than this, I’ve done way worse than this.”

Way way worse than this.

Blown power grids and endless thunderstorms and gale force wind and rain falling so sharp and fast it bit like teeth.  Yoongi, in the center of it all, screaming screaming screaming, so loud he could barely hear his mother shouting,

sweetheart calm down, please calm down, I know. I know I know, baby, I know 

his aunt being the only one strong enough to wade into his storm (made up of the same crackling magic as Yoongi's father was after all) and hold Yoongi tight while he gasped,

did i do it, was it me?

sweetie no, no sweetie no

can i fix it

sweetheart

what’s the point, what’s the fucking point of magic if it can’t bring people back, why can’t it bring people back, why isn’t there magic for that

there’s just not

crying out a storm, his aunt’s hand comforting on the crown of his head, heavy as his father’s used to be, 

sweetheart, I know, but there’s just not magic for that, people die, sometimes people just die even though they’re not finished living yet, no magic causes that, no magic can change that

no no no no no no no

(grow up, bad things happen, magic’s not real not real not real)

Yoongi’s pretty sure that’s the last time he used his magic consciously, had proper control over it.  When he'd fallen to the ground, breathed in dirt, opened his eyes to what he'd done he felt what used to be a clear lake inside him shudder into something raging and terrible and horrifically impotent despite all its power. 

He didn't want it. 

He closed his eyes and shoved it away hard.

magic's not real, there's no point to it, if it can’t do this then I would rather it wasn't real, it’s not real not real not real

A feeling like breaking all your ribs and then taking a deep breath, a gruesome unavoidable ache.

Yoongi remembers trying to scream.

And then it stopped and everything was quiet.

So quiet.

Whatever he did then, now his magic is this tiny contained whirlpool in the lowest part of his stomach.  The part that hears when you listen to poetry, coils and thrums with arousal and release, tightens and rolls unpleasantly when you’re still throwing up even though there’s nothing left to throw up.  Yoongi can’t even get close to it.  He can’t see beneath the surface.  He can't step into it and float. 

Now Yoongi’s just a storm sometimes, even to the people closest to him.  He practically had to be coerced into living with Namjoon, Seokjin, and Hoseok, so sure he made them sad, so sure he wouldn’t be able to stop it if he did.  It took him a long time to trust that he didn’t. 

(he still doesn’t trust that he doesn’t) 

He doesn't think he could stop this storm now if he wanted to.  Couldn’t make it worse if he wanted to either. 

magic's not real not real not real

(he's so afraid)

“Hey.”  Seokjin’s hand on Yoongi’s shoulder, shaking him slightly.  “Hey, come back, Yoongi-yah.  Pretty boy.  Stars in his eyes.”  

“Yeah.”  Yoongi says, shakes his head. “Yeah, sorry, he’s— I’m—”

“Hyung, it’s okay to like someone.” Hoseok whispers.  

“Your last boyfriend was a dick.” Seokjin adds.  “So, like, fuck him.  And before that wasn’t your fault.  It wasn’t.  You’re allowed to like people, Yoongi-yah.”

“I know.” Yoongi gasps.  “I know, it’s not that, it’s just that— I just— he just— " 

“What’s unknown number’s name again?” Namjoon asks, hand soft on Yoongi’s knee.

“Jeongguk.”  Yoongi whispers.  “Jeon Jeongguk.”

“Stars in his eyes?”  Namjoon asks, raising his voice over the thunder.

“The whole universe,” Yoongi manages as their lights go out.

“Oh my god.”  Hoseok complains, but Yoongi can hear the smile in his voice.  

“Cute.”  Seokjin says.  

"Oh god, oh god,” Yoongi chants and feels Jeongguk’s fingers on his wrist and hears him whisper, bye hyung, maybe I’ll see you coincidentally here on Sunday maybe, at like 3 do you think?  "Oh god, oh god, oh god."

“You should text him back now.”  Seokjin says.  “Or he’s going to think you hate him.”

Yoongi fumbles for his phone so quick he falls off the couch.

 

 

 

(i wouldn’t have thought you hated me, hyung)

 

 

 

The stars in Jeongguk’s eyes aren’t magic, unless joy is magic, maybe joy is magic, Yoongi doesn’t know doesn’t know doesn’t know but—

by the fifth time they coincidentally accidentally (on purpose on purpose on purpose) meet, Jeongguk has taken to smiling big when he sees Yoongi, face slipping into overpoured happiness.

(yoongi tastes starshine on his tongue whenever jeongguk smiles, bright and sweet as raw honey)

The fifth time, when Yoongi has to leave (afternoon classes, sun showers outside) Jeongguk opens his mouth like he’s going to say something but doesn’t.  He sort of smiles to himself, shakes his head, looks down at the table.

maybe see you on Sunday at maybe 3:30?  Yoongi says.

maybe, Jeongguk whispers and blinks once, hard and forceful, like how people do when they’re trying not to cry.

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday, Jeongguk bursts through the door nearly late, throws himself into the little booth Yoongi has claimed, taps his fingers on the back of Yoongi’s hand to get his attention like Yoongi might not have seen him, turns Yoongi’s arm over and traces Yoongi’s waxing gibbous moon.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” he says, all rushed words, “I’m sorry, hyung.  Should have texted.”

“It’s only a few minutes past 3:30,” Yoongi responds, tries not to show how much he likes Jeongguk’s fingers on his skin, “Gguk-ah, it’s okay.”

“I just—" Jeongguk takes a strange shuddery breath, peels off his coat, runs frustrated fingers through his hair.  He shoves his glasses up his nose and Yoongi sees that his eyes are red-rimmed like he didn’t get much sleep. 

(like he was crying)

“’Guk, you okay?”  Yoongi asks.

Jeongguk huffs, impatient or upset or trying to find words that haven’t been used in a very long time so he’s not sure of them. 

“Jeongguk-ah?”

Jeongguk nudges Yoongi’s foot under the table, locks their ankles.  He looks up at Yoongi through his lashes like he’s checking to see if he’s understood or if he’s got it all wrong.

(he hasn’t got it all wrong)

Yoongi smiles and—

Jeongguk’s face does a very strange thing, a thing like he wants to laugh and cry all at the same time.  

Yoongi opens his mouth but Jeongguk cuts him off with a little smile, a shake of his head.  He says that he’s sorry again about being late and asks Yoongi to please tell him how he is and what he has to do today and if he got that paper he was worried about back from the professor already and if he watched Garden of Words yet. 

Yoongi keeps a close eye on the clock and, maybe ten minutes before he knows Jeongguk has to leave, taps Jeongguk’s ankle with his foot.

“Want to meet not coincidentally, Guk-ah?  Want to go get dinner with hyung?”

Jeongguk’s face does the same strange thing from before. 

“Like on a date?”

Outside the rain whips against the windows. 

“Yeah, like on a proper date.” Yoongi says and then, in one quick rush, “Seokjinie-hyung said I should make sure you know that I like you, like a lot, and want to date you and that you should know I’m a hopeless romantic, his words, and he said I should make sure that you’re, like, aware of that.  Are you aware of that?”

A bubble of laughter bursts out of Jeongguk, his face breaks into the prettiest smile Yoongi’s ever seen.  Everything about him is bright sunlight on gold.  

(everything about him is made of stars)  

“You really flirt in the strangest ways,”

Jeongguk says and then,

“I am— was— am aware of that.”

And then he doesn’t say anything else, just goes back to looking at Yoongi, softly sad and very still.

“So you don’t want to go out with me?”  Yoongi asks when the quiet stretches on just this side of too long.  His stomach swims with black coffee and self-inflicted hurt, “you don’t have to, Jeongguk-ah.  Hyung’s sorry he made you uncomfortab—”

“Hyung,” Jeongguk sounds agitated, “hyu—” he cuts himself off.

“We don’t have to.”  Yoongi assures Jeongguk.  He wants to drag himself home instead of to class, curl up small and tight in the corner of his bed and pretend this all away because—

because Jeongguk looks sad.

Because Jeongguk looks sad and he’s touching Yoongi and Jeongguk has to know, has to feel, and that’s why—

Yoongi should have been more careful. 

“You know I’m a little magic, right?”  Yoongi whispers because he has to hear it properly.

“I know,” Jeongguk says gently, “I know that, hyung.”

“I make you feel sad?” The words he's saying sound like they’re coming from somewhere far away.  His body is steeled for Jeongguk’s response; he tries to take a deep breath but everything inside him feels tight. 

Jeongguk starts.

“You don’t, why would you?”

Yoongi doesn’t know what to do with that.  His vision swims.

“You look sad.”  He manages.

Jeongguk looks away. 

“You have, like, rain magic?”  Jeongguk asks after a beat.

“Like water, I guess.” Yoongi says.  “Just a little.”   

“Seems like a lot.”  

“Well.”  Yoongi shrugs.  “Not like real magic, though.”

(not anymore)

Jeongguk doesn’t quite meet Yoongi’s eyes when he looks up.

“Do you want to tell me why you look sad?” Yoongi tries to force his voice to be a little louder, a little less whispered, “you don’t have to, but do you want to?”

Jeongguk doesn’t say anything at all for a long time and then he lifts Yoongi’s hand up and inspects his palm carefully.  He puts Yoongi’s hand back down and curls up tight in the corner of their booth.

“What?”  Yoongi asks.  “’Guk-ah, what’s the matter?”

“I didn’t think I would—” Jeongguk frowns, “I wasn’t expecting this, hyung.”  He sounds like something's twisting his insides all up.  He rubs his eyes hard and settles his face onto the heels of his palms, pressing in a way that Yoongi thinks must hurt.  “I wasn’t— I wouldn’t have— I mean, if I knew this would happen I— hyung.

The silence is so loud. 

“Can I touch you?”  Yoongi whispers.

“Yeah.”  Jeongguk mumbles, lets Yoongi pull his hands away from his red-rimmed eyes.  

He looks so sad. 

All the words tumble out of Yoongi at once.

“Did I make you upset?  Do you want me to leave?  I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable, you can pretend I never said it or— or— I can leave you alo—”

“No," Jeongguk says so quick, "no. It’s not that, it's just— please don't take this the wrong way— it's just that I didn’t think I would like you this much.”  Jeongguk’s fingernails are digging into his own palms, his wrist hot hot hot against Yoongi’s skin.  “Hyung, I didn’t think you would like me.  I thought we would meet up and you would leave early, make up some excuse.  I thought—” His words are quick, frantic, like they’re hurting the longer they stay inside, scratching and clawing at him.  “Every time we met up I just kept telling myself you would lose interest but— I like you.  I like you so much.  I should have— I shouldn't have—” He closes his eyes, lets his head thunk back against the wall.  “I like you so much.” His voice sounds broken. 

“I like you too.”  Yoongi whispers.  

The sound Jeongguk makes is like that makes it worse.  

They sit in silence. 

Yoongi rubs his thumbs on the bones of Jeongguk’s wrist. 

“I want to go on a date with you,” Jeongguk lifts his head back up, leans forward as he twists his hand out of Yoongi’s grip.  He presses a fingertip to the star that shows just above the low neckline of Yoongi’s shirt.  

Jeongguk looks at Yoongi for a very long time, eyes somewhere between sad and hopeful, finger like a lit match.  

“I really want to, hyung.” 

Outside, there’s a crash of thunder so loud that the girl at the cash register jumps, half-shrieks.  Jeongguk drops his hand quick like he’s afraid Yoongi’s skin is going to burn him.

(like he’s afraid he’s going to burn Yoongi)

“But we shouldn’t go out.”  Jeongguk whispers before Yoongi can say anything.  “I’m sorry, hyung, we—" He doesn’t finish his sentence, starts to pick up his things, folders tumbling out his hands as he jerks away from Yoongi, “I’m sorry,” he says, like the words are bile he’s pulling up from somewhere really low in his stomach.  “Fuck.  Hyung, I’m so sorry.”

“Jeongguk,” Yoongi gets out as Jeongguk stands to leave, turns away from him. 

Yoongi reaches out.  His fingers graze Jeongguk’s arm. 

Jeongguk’s head snaps around, face panicked, eyes laced with dewdrop tears. 

Yoongi feels sick. 

He lets his hand fall.

“’Guk.” He whispers.

“I’m sorry.”  Jeongguk’s voice shakes.  “Sorry.”

“Jeongguk-ah,” Yoongi whispers as Jeongguk backs to the door, “Guk-ah—”

please tell me what i did wrong

please tell me why 

 

 

 

(Did he say?  His mother asks. 

No, Yoongi says, and knows that makes it worse because why wouldn’t Jeongguk just say?  Why wouldn’t he just say that he has some sort of fire magic living under his skin?  That’s what it has to be, the way Jeongguk’s touch sears, the way Jeongguk makes Yoongi feel warm.  That’s not so bad, Yoongi doesn’t understand why Jeongguk wouldn’t just— but mum you know how it is, I don’t say either.)

 

 

 

Jeongguk calls when Yoongi is halfway to home that night, a thick rose garden tangle of words,

I shouldn’t have left like that, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I panicked, I owe you an apology, an explanation.  Hyung, there’s this— this thing.  It’s— I—

The phone goes static with Jeongguk’s rapid breathing.  

Guk, Yoongi’s heart is thunderstorm rain, Jeongguk-ah, it’s okay

It’s not, Jeongguk whispers, it’s so not.

Jeongguk-ah, Yoongi says, Jeong—

Can I tell you tomorrow? Jeongguk asks.  Please can we meet tomorrow and I can tell you what I should have told you today, can I explain myself in person, will you let me do that?  I’m sorry.

Yes, Yoongi says, stop apologizing, just— it’s okay.

Jeongguk breathes on the other end of the line, slow and steady like he’s trying not to cry.

Yoongi feels like crying.

Okay, Jeongguk says, but it sounds like nothing is okay at all.

Jeongguk-ah, Yoongi whispers when neither of them hang up, I’m still walking home, keep me company?

There’s a pause.  Yoongi almost thinks Jeongguk won’t.

It’s— Jeongguk sounds uncertain, that’s okay?  You want me to? 

Yeah.  Tell me the end of that thought about Shinkai’s works that I didn’t get to hear earlier?

Jeongguk takes a shuddery breath.

Okay.  Okay, he, um, he uses actual photographs of Shinjuku and stuff?  So his anime is, like, real— like it’s a moment frozen in time.  That’s a real place exactly.  Someone looks at it and they get a jolt of nostalgia, a curl up and cry because holy fuck I wanna go home kinda thing.  Everything he does is so tangible that even for me, even though those places aren’t where I’m from— it still feels like they are.  That’s what I want to do for other people, hyung.  That’s the sort of thing I want to be able to make.  A home. 

When Yoongi gets to his apartment they hang up and Yoongi takes a cool shower, curls into his softest pajamas.  He can’t stomach the heat of his down comforter, kicks it off and reaches for his phone, sends Jeongguk a little rabbit and a moon.  There is a pause, long enough Yoongi thinks Jeongguk won’t respond, long enough Yoongi almost puts his phone down, but then Jeongguk sends three little stars, one right after the other, all different.

sweet dreams, hyung

you too, gguk-ah

 

 

 

 

 

They meet the next day outside Yoongi’s apartment building. 

(Jeongguk asks if they can meet there like he wants to give Yoongi an easy escape path.  Like he doesn’t want to trouble Yoongi any more than he feels like he already has.)

Jeongguk texts Yoongi when he arrives, a hesitant

I’m here, hyung.  whenever you have a second

Yoongi heads downstairs to find Jeongguk leaning against the bike rack, staring at the ground like it’s hurting him, twisting his sleeves around his fingers.   

“Hey.”  Yoongi says.

Jeongguk jumps, tries to smile.  It comes out the wrong shape, fits on his face strangely.

“Hey, hyung.” He mumbles.  He twists his sleeves tight in his hands, knuckles white.

“Wanna come upstairs?”  Yoongi asks because at least the apartment is warm and he can make Jeongguk tea and they can sit and be close and quiet until Jeongguk feels ready to talk.

Jeongguk wavers. 

“’Guk-ah, please?”

Upstairs Yoongi puts on Whisper of the Heart, makes them both peppermint tea.  Jeongguk unwinds his sleeves from his fingers and murmurs a thank you.  He settles close to Yoongi on the couch but not too close. 

As Jeongguk relaxes a little Yoongi tilts in.  Crosses the space between them to whisper-ask questions about the movie, purposefully obtuse questions, and then leans away again.  Jeongguk starts to giggle and, after a bit longer, chases Yoongi when he goes, lets himself be a little closer and then closer still, warm against Yoongi’s side, head falling to Yoongi’s shoulder. 

“Jeongguk-ah.”  Yoongi says, when the screen has long since faded to black.

Jeongguk’s fingers stop where they’re picking at a rip in Yoongi’s jeans.  He whines, presses his face into Yoongi’s collarbones.  

His skin is so hot.

“Guk—"

Jeongguk pulls back quick.

“Am I hurting you?”  He asks.

“No.”  Yoongi says.  

Jeongguk fidgets, presses his face back into Yoongi’s skin for a second, and then falls backwards out of Yoongi’s reach.  His toes burrow under Yoongi’s thigh.  

Yoongi crawls over and settles himself in between Jeongguk and the back of the couch.  There’s not quite enough space for both of them to lay like this but neither of them acknowledges it.  Jeongguk rolls onto his side too and they press close, foreheads nearly touching, Jeongguk’s hands curled under Yoongi’s chin.

Yoongi strokes the side of Jeongguk’s face, his neck, lets his fingers come to rest on Jeongguk’s pulse point. 

He counts out twenty steady beats of Jeongguk’s heart.  

“Why did you ask if you hurt me?”  Yoongi hazards softly, trying to coax what Jeongguk wants to say out of him since it seems like the words are digging in, trying to avoid the open air.

“I like you.” Jeongguk whispers.  He sounds like he might cry. “I like you, I like you, I like you so much.”

“I like you back the same, Gukie.”

Jeongguk’s skin crackles.  Jeongguk is made of fire.  Everything is flame and the promise of ash. 

“Guk-ah?”

“Why do you have to make me laugh so much?” Jeongguk whispers.  “And be so kind and silly and know so much about music and nighttime skies?  Why do you listen to me when I talk, even when I trip over my words?  Why do you buy me coffee and get flustered about it when I say thank you?  Why are you so nice to everyone, why do you volunteer at nursing homes on the weekends to give people someone to talk to, why is your apartment littered with flowers, why did you invite me up here and make me tea even after I was mean to you, hyung?  Why are you so— you?”

Yoongi doesn’t know what to say.

“Can I use you as a personal reference for job applications?”

is what he ends up saying and then,

“Jesus, sorry, not the time, Jesus Christ, fuck, I’m sorry.”

Jeongguk makes a sound like he’s trying to laugh loud and muffle it all at once.  He can’t quite bite down the smile though.

“See?”  He mumbles, rubs his thumb against Yoongi’s collarbones.

Yoongi goes to speak but Jeongguk gets there first. 

“It wasn’t supposed to go like this.” 

Yoongi strokes Jeongguk’s cheekbone, feels the summer fever flush of his skin. 

“Jeongguk-ah, what does that mean?  You said that yesterday too— what does it mean?”

“I like when you touch me.”  Jeongguk says, so so soft, sounds so so repentant.  “I like how you touch me and I like that you—"

Yoongi thumbs under Jeongguk’s eyes, wipes away tears that haven’t fallen yet, slides his hand down Jeongguk’s arm then back up.  

Jeongguk sighs, soft and small, breath warm on Yoongi’s lips. 

“Feels good,” he murmurs, “you touch me like it— like it doesn’t hurt you.  Makes me feel cool, you’re like— winter ice.”  His voice is slurred, almost like he’s drunk.  He burrows closer, warm warm warm.

“You’re warm.”  Yoongi says.  “Jeongguk-ah, I don’t think I’m cold, I think you’re warm.”

“Yeah.” Jeongguk agrees after a moment.  “I run hot.” He sounds apologetic.

“Mmm,” Yoongi hums.

Jeongguk plays with the neckline of Yoongi’s shirt.

“Like a star.”  Yoongi tells him.

“Like a star,” Jeongguk repeats, sounding amused and sad at the same time. His fingers curl tight in Yoongi’s shirt, he tucks himself into Yoongi’s angles.  “Not like a star.”  Jeongguk’s lips glance against Yoongi’s collarbones.  “I’m hot like I’m on fire.” It sounds like a confession.  He pulls back to meet Yoongi’s eyes.  “Like I could set people on fire.”  Maybe it is one. “Hyung, I’m— people don’t touch me.  People can’t touch me.”

“I’m touching you.”  Yoongi whispers.  “I’m touching you right now.”

Jeongguk huffs.

“You asked if you make me sad.”  He says like it’s connected and Yoongi knows it is and doesn’t want it to be because magic is real and that’s not always a good thing, no matter what fairy tales say.

“Yeah.”

“Hyung, does that happen every time?  Does it happen every time you hold on too long?  Is this the first time you’ve been able to touch and it doesn’t make the person sad?”

Yoongi feels sick.

“No.  Just sometimes, Guk-ah.  It only happens sometimes.”

Jeongguk closes his eyes.

“It happens to me every time.”

Yoongi can’t think what that must mean, has to think what that must mean.

“Every time I touch someone too long,” Jeongguk whispers, “every time I try to hold on, to be held.”

"They hurt?" Something as unforgiving as a chunk of apple is lodged in Yoongi’s throat, fairy tale princess, sleep like death. 

"They burn up." Jeongguk’s voice is ragged.  “Every time.” 

you don’t know that for sure, Yoongi wants to say, maybe it’s just been so far

but Jeongguk is taking a deep breath like it’s hurting him to say this and opening his eyes like he wants to look at Yoongi and be brave when he does so Yoongi presses his lips together and keeps the words inside.

“No one can hold on to me, not for too long.  I can’t kiss people or— if someone touches me for too long they get hurt.  hurt them.”  Jeongguk looks like he might be sick, his skin is flushed and damp under Yoongi's fingers.  “I don’t mean to, I don’t wanna hurt people.”  He laughs, sort of bitter, sort of broken.  “But I’m hurting you already, aren’t I?  I hurt you by not telling you this earlier, by acting like I could be with you even though I knew I couldn’t, and I hurt you when I touch yo—”

“No.”  Yoongi whispers.  “No, Guk-ah, you’re not hurting me.”

Jeongguk looks at him, eyes unreadable.  He skates his fingertips under Yoongi’s shirt, presses them against Yoongi’s side just below his ribcage where Yoongi’s body yields to the touch.  Yoongi ignores the slight little burn, the tiny pinpricks, doesn’t flinch—

don’t flinch don’t flinch don’t flinch

—presses closer to Jeongguk, nudges at Jeongguk's cheek.

“See?”  He whispers.  “Doesn’t hurt.”  

Their faces are so close.  Yoongi watches Jeongguk’s eyelashes tangle. 

“Do you want to kiss me, hyung?”  Jeongguk’s lips nearly brushing Yoongi’s when he speaks, “you asked me out on a date.  At the end of our date, would you have wanted to kiss me?”

“Course not,” Yoongi manages, “who would want to kiss you?  No one, that’s who.”

Jeongguk giggles, his fingers leave Yoongi’s side and he pitches forward, buries his nose into Yoongi’s neck.  Yoongi holds onto him for a long time, trails his fingers, feels Jeongguk’s bones. 

“Hyung,” Jeongguk lifts his face back up, “I want to kiss you.  Want to touch you.  So bad.”

Yoongi’s shivers, can’t control the soft sound that slips out.  Sounds like want, sounds like you should.

Their mouths are so close.

Yoongi wants.

He waits.

“Shouldn’t though.”  Jeongguk’s smile is sad.  “Can’t.  Shouldn’t even do this, hyung.  Shouldn’t let you hold me like this.”

“Jeongguk-ah,” Yoongi starts, but Jeongguk shakes his head, hair falling into his eyes.

Yoongi brushes it back.  Lets his fingers linger.

“I never go out with people because it’s not— not right of me.”  Jeongguk tilts his head into Yoongi’s touch.  “But you asked me to meet up and I wanted to so bad.  I just wanted to so bad and I thought—  I thought I would only hurt myself, you know?  But it was selfish.  It doesn’t fix it, but I am sorry."

“You don’t need to be.”  Yoongi traces the side of Jeongguk’s face.  “You don’t have to be.”

“I am though.” Jeongguk tucks his head under Yoongi’s chin.  “I really am.”

Yoongi shifts after a moment, tilts Jeongguk’s face back up to look at him.

“I’m a little afraid too,” he tells Jeongguk, “because I’m worried I’ll make you sad, but— I like you, Jeongguk-ah.  I like you a whole lot.  I like being with you.”

“Like being with you too.”  Jeongguk’s eyes are trusting but scared.

“And maybe—” Yoongi continues, “I mean I’m touching you and—"

Jeongguk shakes his head, the quirk of his mouth says you don’t get it.

“It’s not an instant thing, hyung.  It’s like a— like all of it builds up and then— then they burn up.  Like fevers.  Like hospitals.  Like unconscious.  Like they’re afraid of me when they wake up again.  Like my whole family had to move because of me.”

A memory that stops Jeongguk.  His eyes go storm cloud dark with pain.  He opens his mouth but the words seem too hard to get out.

“Tell me that later?”  Yoongi offers.

Jeongguk nods.

“Okay,” Yoongi says, “but Jeongguk-ah, I’m touching you— I’ve been touching you— and I’m okay.”

(mostly)

(yoongi’s hot but it’s not unbearable, it’s midsummer noon, it’s the start of a fever)

“I shouldn’t let you.”  Jeongguk whispers. 

“It doesn’t hurt, Guk-ah.” Yoongi can’t get his voice to work right, the words don’t hold the weight he wants them to.

“It will.”  Jeongguk says firmly.  “I wasn’t supposed to like you this much, hyung.  You weren’t supposed to like me.  This wasn’t supposed to happen.  I really want to be with you.”  The sentences sound so fragmented.  The progression of them hurts.

“It doesn’t hurt.” Yoongi repeats, like if he says it enough it will be true and stay true.

Jeongguk trails finger across Yoongi’s cheek, the bridge of his nose, presses his palm flat to Yoongi’s forehead like he’s checking for a fever.

Yoongi draws in a shaky breath.

“I think maybe you’re lying.”  Jeongguk whispers. "I think it might hurt.  I think it's going to hurt.”

Yoongi tries to shake his head but Jeongguk stops him with gentle fingers pressed against his cheek.

“Don’t lie.”

 

 

 

 

 

(“Real magic,” Yoongi’s mother said when Yoongi was little and asking because he kept reading books, fairy tales, strange pages he found in his aunt’s library, “especially fire magic is dangerous, Yoongi-yah.  No one’s really born with it anymore— it’s too much for human bodies.  It doesn’t fade, it consumes.”

“Pops has fire magic.” 

“He sparks.”  Yoongi’s mother said, ruffling his hair.  “Just like you have droplets of water in you, he just has sparks.  Not what you’re talking about, not like in the book you were reading, all that open flame.  Those are just fairytales, sweetheart.  Don’t worry.”

“Not worried.”  Yoongi had said, watching the flame under the teapot crackle and dance, reaching out, his body damp with water from his bath.

“Not worried?”  His mother repeated, sounding worried.

“It’s pretty.”  Yoongi whispered, reaching reaching. “Pretty.”  He said again.

“No.”  His mother said and let him touch the flame just to see, soothed the burn with soft whispers and cool water, gauze and gentle lullabies.  

But—

Pretty, Yoongi had thought that night, curled into bed, the pain in his finger faded to a dully throbbing little ache, it’s pretty though.)

 

 

 

 

 

Hyung?

Yeah?

I know I turned you down so, like, feel free to say no but— can we still be friends? 

Yeah, Jeongguk-ah, yes.  I told you, I like being with you. 

Yeah?

Yeah.

Okay.  Okay, I would like that.

I would too.

 

 

 

 

 

Here is what Yoongi has learned about Jeongguk.

Jeongguk is pretty.  His heart is really pretty.  It’s the prettiest thing Yoongi’s ever ever seen.

Jeongguk notices things.  He figured out how much sugar Yoongi took in his coffee almost instantly and sometimes got it for him so that, when Yoongi got to the café, it was already there waiting, always warm.  He does that still sometimes, but now he also lets Yoongi buy him coffee more easily too, lets Yoongi ruffle his hair and said hyung’s got it just because.

Jeongguk sings real soft under his breath while they walk places.

Jeongguk touches everything carefully, not just Yoongi, everything, like it’s all very precious.

Jeongguk doesn’t mind when it rains, not even if it rains hard, not even if it rains sideways, not even when he’s resting his head on Yoongi’s thigh late one night after a movie marathon and he presses a half-kiss to Yoongi’s skin though a rip in his jeans and lightning flashes and the power in Jeongguk’s apartment goes out.

Jeongguk likes to ask Yoongi about astrology and anthropology and why and how and listens when Yoongi talks about organ donations and concepts of death and what certain cultures have said it means, being human, and what certain cultures have said they mean, all the stars, and what certain cultures have said it means, being made of stardust.

Jeongguk takes Yoongi to a dog café and they play with the puppies.  Jeongguk burrows his face into their fur and coos at them.  He doesn’t seem to worry, not about that, grins this crinkly eyed toothy grin that makes Yoongi’s heart thud once twice three times, earthquake tremors. 

Jeongguk probably ate his parents out of house and home. He likes everything. He’s delighted by each new restaurant, even when they’re literally holes in the wall.  He ranks places and ingredients and the wood used when they get lamb skewers. 

Jeongguk is funny.  And silly.  And sweet.  And very vicious when gaming, except when he plays with Yoongi.  When they play together he collapses in fits of giggles, 

hyung you have to be pretending to be this bad, there's just no way

god, I wish I was

Jeongguk’s good at pretty much everything because he tries so hard it astounds Yoongi.  He tries so hard it’s like getting punched in the gut, watching him.  But he’s sort of bad at monopoly.  And backgammon.  And poker.  Maybe bad at anything that involves math or lying.

Jeongguk has stars in his eyes.

Jeongguk has stars in his voice.   

Jeongguk seems to be waiting for Yoongi to pull away quick like he’s been burnt.

Yoongi doesn’t flinch.

  

 

 

 

 

It takes Jeongguk a month of Yoongi not flinching before he comes over, curls up next to Yoongi, and starts to speak.

“I hurt someone.”  Jeongguk says, so soft Yoongi has to strain to hear it.  “When I was fifteen I had a boyfriend, he was my first boyfriend, he came over and we were out back, in my treehouse, the one my dad built,” the sentences splintered, falling out of Jeongguk’s mouth like shattered glass, “we were hiding out because we weren’t— we weren’t supposed— my parents thought we were just friends.  And we kissed.  We were kissing, we were just kissing, but then— then—” Jeongguk makes a soft sad sound, “—then he was not okay, hyung.  Like call an ambulance not okay.”

Yoongi reaches out and soothes Jeongguk’s skin where it’s embers instead of gentle warmth.  

“That was the first time?”  Yoongi asks gently. 

“I always ran warm,” Jeongguk whispers, “and when I was little I sparked but that was the first time like that.” Jeongguk takes Yoongi’s hand from his face and rests it between them, plays with Yoongi’s fingers for a moment before he continues.  “It took him days to wake up, hyung.  They thought his head was going to be all messed up because his fever was so high for so long.  He was okay,” Jeongguk’s voice is small, “when he woke up, I mean, but he could have easily not been.”

“Jeongguk-ah—”

Jeongguk makes the saddest sound Yoongi has ever heard.   

“It was my first kiss,” 

Yoongi’s heart feels bruised, like it has fallen a great length. 

“I didn’t mean to hurt him.”  Jeongguk sounds like he’s pleading for forgiveness that hasn’t come.  “I didn’t even get what happened.  I mean, we were just kids, we were just kissing, and— he— he was making these little noises and I thought he liked it, I thought he— and then he just fell out of my arms, hit the floor.” 

It wasn’t your fault, Yoongi wants to say again, Jeongguk, baby, it wasn’t your fault

“He was so scared of me when he woke up.  And people didn’t know what I did exactly, but they knew I did something and they were afraid and— everyone hated me, hated my family—”

“Guk-ah—" Yoongi tries to interject, to get Jeongguk to take a breath,

“And I was so scared for so long after that, hyung.  And then— then when I was eighteen I thought I had better control of it, so I— I tried again, letting someone hold me.  Hold me like that I mean.  I warned him but he said it was okay, that he trusted me, but— he got hurt too, hyung.  Like some sort of fever under his skin, the worst flu you’ve ever seen and—”

Yoongi pulls Jeongguk close.

“I hurt people,” Jeongguk sounds so broken but he doesn’t pull away, curls in, “sometimes it doesn’t even have to be touching like that, it can just be— someone passed out on me last summer, on the train.  I was in a t-shirt and we were pressed together for so long, stuck in a tunnel during rush hour and.”  He stops short, seemingly loses his words for a moment. “Hyung.  I’m—” he shakes in Yoongi’s arms, a barely there tremor, “I’m dangerous.”  He burrows into Yoongi’s collarbones. 

Yoongi holds onto him tight.

“It wasn’t your fault.”  Yoongi whispers.  “I know you already know that but— Jeongguk-ah, none of that was your fault.”

“Maybe.” Jeongguk whispers, his tears are so hot they feel like a bite. “But I feel like it was so maybe that’s the same, in the end.  Maybe there’s no difference.”

Yoongi knows what that’s like.

“Will you tell me?” Jeongguk whispers.  “Can you tell me what you— why you—”

Yoongi wants to, wants to tell Jeongguk why he's scared.

“I made my first boyfriend so sad, Jeongguk-ah."  The words come out quieter than he means them to.  "We were together for a long time and we didn’t— I didn’t— realize it was me.”  Yoongi takes a steadying breath.  “He was so sad until he couldn’t be that sad anymore.  People aren’t made to be that sad.  He ended up hospitalized and— fuck, the longer he stayed away from me the more okay he was.”

Jeongguk lifts his head and shifts up, pulls Yoongi tight against his chest. 

Jeongguk smells like clean linen and wood smoke.

Yoongi presses closer.

“Sometimes people get a little rainy inside around me,” the words are awkward in Yoongi’s mouth, clumsy, “that was the first time it was that that bad and it’s never been that bad again, but it scares me because it could be.  Whenever anyone who spends time with me, touches me a lot, is sad I get scared because— because sometimes it is me, Jeongguk-ah.  Sometimes it is.  I don’t mean to.”

Jeongguk tries to pull Yoongi closer but it doesn’t work, the lines of their bodies unyielding.

They are quiet for a moment. 

“Hyung,” Jeongguk’s voice is a terrible sort of steady, “I’m sorry that happened to you.  I’m sorry that happens to you sometimes.  People get sad all on their own and it must be confusing.  Scary.  But hyung— people don’t burn up from the inside out. That’s me, that’s always me, and I can’t do that to you.  I wo—”

“People burn up all the time,” Yoongi tells him without thinking.

Jeongguk makes a questioning noise.

Yoongi’s not sure what he means either, not until he keeps talking. 

“Bad things happen.  I knocked down my house and part of the town.  My dad died.”

Jeongguk tenses around Yoongi and then releases him, pulls back a little.  One finger carefully tilts Yoongi’s face toward his.  When their eyes meet, Jeongguk moves his hand to stroke Yoongi’s hair back from his face, eyes concerned, confused.

“Not because of me.”  Yoongi clarifies, realizing that the order of his sentences was all mixed up.  He feels dizzy with exposure, doesn’t tell people these things a lot, keeps them neatly tucked inside, “sorry, I said that all wrong.  I felt like it was my fault for a long time so I— the town thing was after, I did that after, I didn’t mean to, I was just so—” he can’t find the words to say what he wants, looks to Jeongguk for help.

“Grief is a funny thing.”  Jeongguk whispers. 

grief is a funny thing

“Yeah.  Yeah.  My dad— he just died.”  The words are razor sharp in Yoongi’s mouth.  He wonders when time will dull them.  Isn’t time supposed to dull them?  “Like how people do.  No magic necessary.  None at all.”

“I’m sorry.”  

Yoongi curls into Jeongguk’s voice, the way it sounds like it can protect his weak spots right now.  He wriggles closer, tries to get Jeongguk to hold him tight again.   

“Yeah,” Yoongi says, “yeah, me too.  He was a good man.  I wanted to grow up with him there, you know? Have him there for my graduation, for university, at my wedding one day, introduce him to his first grandkid, let them go look at stars together like how he used to do with me.”

He feels spread too thin, outside all the lines, wants to be put back inside them.

He nudges Jeongguk,

please understand

Jeongguk pulls Yoongi close, wraps himself around Yoongi, and presses him back in. 

“I think,” Yoongi says finally, “I think everything is sorta all messed up all the time, Guk-ah.”

Jeongguk makes a soft sound of acknowledgement.

“And I think,” Yoongi whispers, “I think that you’re a good thing and even though— I mean we shouldn’t let— I just want to be near you, Jeongguk-ah.  Please.  I’m not asking for anything else from you.”

“I know you’re not,” Jeongguk’s breathing is uneven, his heart beats rapidly against Yoongi’s hand trapped between Jeongguk’s chest and Yoongi’s nose, “I know you’re not asking, hyung, but I want— I want to be with you.  Like that I mean.  I want that.  And I can’t tell which hurts more— being here with you like this and knowing I need to let go of you soon, that I will always have to let go of you soon, or—”

He stops.  Doesn’t say the other option.

“You don’t have to let go of me yet.”  Yoongi feels like he’ll break if Jeongguk lets go.  He wriggles an arm out from between their bodies, presses his hand flat against the small of Jeongguk’s back to keep him where he is.

Jeongguk exhales shakily into Yoongi’s hair.   

“Let me think about it.”  He whispers.  “Just let me—”

“As long as you need, Gukie.”

Jeongguk presses a soft kiss to the crown of Yoongi’s head. 

“I should let go of you now, huh?”  He asks gently.  “Doesn’t it hurt?”

everything hurts

“You don’t hurt.” Yoongi manages.

Jeongguk doesn’t answer, but his fingers clench in Yoongi’s shirt.

 

 

 

 

 

can we go out for dinner, hyung?

yeah, sounds good
where do you want to go?
that noodle place? 

yes
but
im asking you out
like on a date

on a date?
you want to go on a date?
with me?

what can you not read now
you got into college you should be able to read

must you be a brat right after you ask me out
on our first date no less

yes
and you apologized when you asked me out
so i don’t feel this was that bad

please don’t bring that up

hyung? 

yes, jeongguk-ah?

will you go out with me?
i want to go on a date with you

yeah? 

yeah

i would like that, jeongguk-ah

 

   

 

 

 

When they leave the noodle shop, it’s more misting than raining.  At the crosswalk Yoongi folds up his umbrella, tucks it under his arm.  He wants to reach out but isn’t sure where Jeongguk’s lines are.

“You wanna go home?” he asks Jeongguk, “or—"

Jeongguk’s fingers are so so so warm when he slides them into Yoongi’s palm, touching carefully at first and then holding on tight when Yoongi doesn’t pull away.

The lights turn green.  Neither of them move. 

“Let me know when it hurts, yeah?”  Jeongguk whispers.  “You have to.  I don’t know, I can’t tell so— you have to.”  He stares intently at their linked hands.  “Is it okay?”

Yoongi’s fingertips and palm sort of hurt, little bee stings.

“It’s okay.”

“Yeah?”  Jeongguk says, but he’s frowning like there’s something else he wants to say.

“Yeah, see, hyung’s touching you,” Yoongi lifts their hands between their faces, “no problem.”

Jeongguk’s eyes sort of flash and Yoongi holds on tight, even though suddenly it burns more.  Almost unbearably so, actually.  Inside Yoongi.  A sickening swoop of fever. Yoongi licks at his lower lip and otherwise doesn’t let himself react. 

He’s felt worse.   

Jeongguk closes his eyes and takes a very very very deep breath, in and then out, measured like a song cadence.

The burn sort of fades after a moment, retreats like a cowed dog.

Jeongguk opens his eyes and looks at Yoongi for a long time like he’s trying to figure something out.

“See?”  Yoongi waves their linked hands.  

“Yeah.”  Jeongguk whispers.   

“So, do you want to go home or— dessert or we could, there’s a park, we could, like, sit.”

“Sit on all the nice damp benches?  Wow.  Romantic.”

“Shush.”

“I would like dessert, hyung.  If you want to stay out a little longer, I mean?  We don't have to.”

“I do.”

Yoongi walks Jeongguk back to his apartment later and, when they get to the door, Jeongguk rocks back and forth on the balls of his feet, chews at his lip, looks at Yoongi with unreadable eyes.

But that’s okay, that’s okay too.  If Jeongguk doesn’t want to kiss, then he doesn’t want to kiss.  Yoongi doesn’t want to kiss someone who doesn’t want to kiss him.  Besides it’s nearly midnight and they’ve been together for something like five hours and Yoongi feels like he’s floating, just a little, he’s warm warm warm, sugar sweet at the bottom of his stomach, melted caramel.  

He’s so warm.

Really warm.

Yoongi tilts up and presses a soft kiss to Jeongguk’s cheek.

“I had fun.” He tells Jeongguk.  “Can I call you sometime?”

Jeongguk laughs, quiet but unrestrained.  His smile is so big it hurts to look at.

“Yeah, I would like that.” Jeongguk says, presses their foreheads together.

When he pulls back there’s a frown just there, just on the edges of his mouth.

“You’re really warm.” 

“No.”  Yoongi says.

Jeongguk’s face twists, he drops Yoongi’s hand.

“A little.”  Yoongi amends.  “But I’m okay, ‘guk.  Promise.  I told you I would tell if it was too much, if it hurt, remember?”

“Yes.” Jeongguk says. 

“I will.”  Yoongi says and then again, with more force when Jeongguk still looks unsure, “I will.

It takes a second, but Jeongguk nods. 

“G’night hyung.” 

Jeongguk’s voice is very quiet.

 

 

 

 

 

(You be careful, his aunt says over the phone, and Yoongi can see her, in her garden, phone tight between her shoulder and her ear, cutting herbs and flowers and spells and thoughts off of plants and out of thin air, you be careful, you’ll burn up, Yoongi-yah.

no, i won’t, Yoongi thinks desperately, say i won’t, tell me i won’t

“No, I won’t.” Yoongi lies. 

His aunt hums.

Maybe you can counterbalance it a little?  She says, after a moment.  Can you still control your magic?  Like properly I mean, Yoongi-yah.

(no)

“I don’t know,” Yoongi says, “will that work?”

Maybe, his aunt says after a very long pause.

Yoongi doesn’t like lying.) 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’ll tell you.”  Yoongi repeats, when he sees Jeongguk next.  “I won’t lie.”

And he doesn’t. 

When he gets dizzy with it, when the press of their bodies is too much, when Yoongi feels less warm and more ablaze he tells Jeongguk. 

He does.

(He doesn’t like it though, the way Jeongguk jerks away, the stuttered way he tries to apologize no matter how many times Yoongi tells him not to, the way he curls in on himself after, twists his sleeves over his fingers like he wants to hide from Yoongi— all of that hurts too.  It hurts a different way.)

“I don’t know why I hurt you.”  Jeongguk whispers, next to Yoongi but not touching, the two of them swinging, staring up at the stars.  “I don’t want to, I swear I don’t want to."

“You don’t.”  Yoongi says.  “Maybe the magic does but you don’t hurt, Guk-ah.”

Jeongguk gives him a look. 

“The magic is part of me.”  

“Well too bad.”  Yoongi says.  “Too bad, I think it’s the magic and not you at all.”

“Well then.”  Jeongguk's smile is a little sad, a little fond.

“Well then.”  Yoongi agrees, reaches out his hand.

Jeongguk stares for a moment and then links their pinkies.  

It’s not what Yoongi meant, but if it’s what Jeongguk is willing to give then he’ll take it.

 

 

 

 

 

“Jeongguk-ah?”  Yoongi asks one night when the fever is almost too warm in his veins. 

"Mmm?" Jeongguk hums, curled up next to him, laptop and Netflix forgotten at the bottom of the bed.

"Can I kiss you?"  Yoongi runs his hands through Jeongguk’s hair.

Jeongguk jerks back, his eyes dart open.

“Here.”  Yoongi says and touches Jeongguk’s cheek.  His fingers are trembling.  He pulls his hand away, takes a breath.  "I want to see something, I want to try something."

Jeongguk pushes himself up, curls small against Yoongi’s headboard, doesn’t speak.

shouldn’t have asked that

Yoongi overstepped.  He’s dizzy and exhausted and something near ashamed. 

 “m’sorry.”  Yoongi says.  “Shouldn’t have asked that, I’m sorry.” 

“No, it’s okay.”  Jeongguk breathes.  “Just— want you to but—”

Yoongi’s head swims.

“Do you promise you’ll tell me if it hurts?” Jeongguk whispers. 

“I will.” Yoongi looks at Jeongguk upside down from where laying on the bed, pushes himself to sitting, settles next to Jeongguk.

“Promise.”  Jeongguk says, eyes intent.  “Right then, right away, don’t wait, yeah?  You promise?”

“Yes.”  Yoongi whispers, legs crossed, close but not touching.  “Yes, I’ll tell you.”

“Then,” Jeongguk’s eyes flick to his knees then to Yoongi’s face, “then I— I want you to.  Kiss me, I mean.”  He sounds so guilty. 

(yoongi hates that jeongguk sounds guilty, feels guilty, about wanting to be touched)

Yoongi nods and waits for Jeongguk to relax a little, knees falling from his chest, fingers uncurling and releasing the cuffs of his sweater.  When he does, Yoongi shifts to his knees and leans in.  He hovers for a moment though, just for a moment, to give Jeongguk a chance to change his mind.  Even though it seems like something small, Yoongi knows this is something big. 

Jeongguk lifts a hand and tugs gently at the hem of Yoongi’s shirt, makes a small sound just at the back of his throat.

Yoongi kisses Jeongguk on the curve of his cheekbone, where his skin is flushed pale raspberry pink.  He stays close, so close that when he gathers his breath and speaks his lips brush Jeongguk’s skin.

"Did that make you sad?" 

He feels Jeongguk shiver.  

"No." Jeongguk whispers, his breath rustling the fine hairs by Yoongi's ear.  “No, didn’t— didn’t at all—"

There’s a thunderstorm inside Yoongi. 

“Can I do it again?”  Yoongi keeps his voice quiet so he won’t startle either of them. 

“Yeah.”  A little exhale, half a sigh.

Yoongi presses another kiss, lets his lips linger, lifts a hand to cradle Jeongguk's face, the other he slides to the back of Jeongguk’s neck.

(scared scared, yoongi's so scared)

He presses a line of kisses that follow the arch of Jeongguk’s cheekbone, rubs his thumb gently by Jeongguk’s ear.  He’s reluctant to pull away, dizzy and melted honey warm with closeness, but he pulls back a little so that he can see if the stars are in Jeongguk’s eyes or if everything is cloudy. 

Jeongguk’s eyelids are fluttering like he doesn’t want to close his eyes but can’t quite keep them open.  He sighs and falls back against the headboard, falls out of Yoongi’s hands, Yoongi’s fingertips dragging over his skin. 

Yoongi goes perfectly still, heart thudding uncomfortably under his jaw. 

"Are you sad, baby?"

"No," Jeongguk mumbles, "no, no, no.  I feel good," and then, like an afterthought, “don’t call me baby.”

“Okay,” Yoongi whispers, “okay, hyung won’t.”

Jeongguk hums, fits his hands around Yoongi’s waist, tentatively tugs him closer.  Yoongi follows the movement, lifts a leg over Jeongguk’s thighs, presses up on his knees, looks down at Jeongguk, the shadows of his eyelashes, the curve of his cheekbones, the gentle sun-warmed expanse of his skin.

Jeongguk’s eyes flutter open.

“Kiss me again?”  He murmurs, hands tight on Yoongi’s waist.  It clearly takes a little for him to ask, skin flushed and worry stark in his gaze.

Yoongi nods, tilts forward, watches Jeongguk’s eyes fall close. 

He kisses careful, marking constellations, tracing stars that aren’t there.  He kisses the curve of Jeongguk’s eyebrow, the outer corner of one eye, the beauty mark on Jeongguk’s cheek.  He looks at the freckle below Jeongguk’s lower lip but doesn't kiss there because that's too close to a kiss and Jeongguk didn’t say that was okay.  He lifts up and kisses Jeongguk’s forehead, settles in Jeongguk’s lap and ducks in to kiss right by his ear, the hinge of his jaw.

Jeongguk shifts under him almost restlessly, traces a hand up over Yoongi’s forearm, drifts his fingers against the moons, lets them fall. 

“Hyung,” he murmurs, “Yoongi-hyung,”

Before Yoongi can ask if Jeongguk feels sad, if the little sigh falling from his lips is sad,

“Again?”  Jeongguk whispers, lifting a hand to touch the bones of Yoongi’s wrist so lightly Yoongi thinks it’s more an echo of a touch than a real one.  “Hyung, if it’s okay I mean— can you— did it— does it hurt?”

“No.”  Yoongi breathes.  “Doesn’t hurt.”

doesn’t hurt, Jeongguk mouths like he’s testing the words

Yoongi wants to kiss the exact middle of Jeongguk’s lower lip, right where it's softest and fullest, right where Jeongguk’s teeth are now digging into it. 

He flicks his eyes back up to meet Jeongguk’s gaze.  

“You don’t feel sad?”  Yoongi asks.

“I’ll tell you if I do,” Jeongguk’s hand flexes against Yoongi’s inner wrist, “but I don’t right now.  I want you to do it again if it doesn’t hurt you.”

It hurts, but not the way Jeongguk means.  Jeongguk should be allowed to touch and not worry.  Be touched and not worry.  Jeongguk should have this always.  Always be able to let himself fall, to let himself melt, to open up and take and press and ask for and give.  It hurts that he can’t.

“It doesn’t hurt.”  Yoongi murmurs.

Jeongguk makes a sweet as cotton candy sound and shifts his hands back to Yoongi’s waist.

“Okay,” he murmurs.

Yoongi leans forward and kisses Jeongguk's cheekbone, drags his lips, kisses the corner of his eye then tilts his head and, without thinking, kisses the corner of Jeongguk’s mouth.  

Jeongguk’s hands clench and Yoongi freezes.

“Sorry.”  He whispers.  "Sorry, Guk-ah."

“S’okay.”  Jeongguk says after a moment.  He relaxes his grip, strokes his thumbs on Yoongi’s side.  “That was— okay, if you’re okay, just—”

“I’m okay,” Yoongi breathes but doesn’t do it again, doesn’t want to push.  He lifts and kisses Jeongguk’s cheekbone where there’s the afterimage of hurt, a little scar. He bends down, nuzzles into Jeongguk’s neck, lifts up and presses a kiss to his earring, the shell of his ear. 

Jeongguk makes a sound that sends everything in Yoongi spinning.  He wants to fall backwards onto the bed and pull Jeongguk with him, wants to kiss Jeongguk properly, open up to him, lick into his mouth, learn what he likes, what they like, how they fit together, what makes them both feel warm and good.  He wants wants wants.  He wants so much.

He pulls back and kisses the tip of Jeongguk’s nose instead, watches the grin flit across Jeongguk’s mouth. 

It sparks, touching Jeongguk like this, so long like this.  It doesn’t hurt exactly, but Yoongi feels like he’s sweating out a fever.  It doesn’t hurt exactly, but something inside Yoongi churns like he’s thrown something living into a lake. 

“Hyung,” Jeongguk says dreamily, hand sliding back to Yoongi’s forearm, thumb pressing into Yoongi’s waxing moon, a tiny contained flame, “hyung, call me baby again?”

Yoongi kisses each of the lids of Jeongguk’s closed eyes.

try to trust me 

“Okay baby.”

i'm trying to trust you

 

 

 

 

 

(time passes and—

jeongguk melts and—

so does the snow outside and—

 

 

yoongi melts too)

 

 

 

 

 

(google search, your name streaming online

google search, original japanese characters for love

google search, lonely solitude; longing for someone in solitude

google search, what does a norwegian forest kitten look like

google search, if someone tells you your bedhead makes you look like a norwegian forest kitten is that a compliment

google search, metaphors Keaton Henson

google search, can you fall in love in like two months

google search, how do you give someone the world

google search, normal human body temperature

google search, best mango rice near me

google search, should i break up with my boyfriend if he doesn’t like mango rice

google search, hyung you’re so rude i said it was good

google search, my boyfriend keeps stealing my phone and reading my search history and also he doesn’t understand that mango rice is not just good it’s GREAT what should i do

google search, why does reddit give such bad relationship advice

google search, best star viewing spots in seoul

google search, fuck u city lights i wanna see the sky

google search, last train time

google search, what happens if you have a fever for too long

google search, how do you tell someone you love them)

 

 

 

 

 

thank you for walking me home hyung
sorry i kept you out so late

i had fun, guk-ah

me too, hyung

well then

well then

soft pretty dreams, hyung

you too baby

don’t call me baby!

okay okay, hyung won’t

 

 

 

hyung?

yeah?

call me baby again

okay baby

 

 

 

 

 

“Hyung,” Jeongguk asks when they’re curled on Yoongi’s bed late one night, waiting for an unexpected late season snow flurry to calm before Jeongguk leaves, “can I see your tattoos?” 

Yoongi nods easily, pushes himself to sitting.  Jeongguk follows the motion, settles next to him with curious eyes and, suddenly, Yoongi is hit with a wave of nerves.  It’s been a long time since anyone’s seen his tattoos, anyone new, anyone who looks at him the way Jeongguk does, anyone who makes his heart beat sideways when just their fingers touch. 

He fiddles with the hem of his sweater before he lifts his arms up straight like a child would.

“Help me.”  He tells Jeongguk.

Jeongguk blinks and then laughs, grin cracking across his face, toothy and genuine.  Yoongi laughs too, feels his nose crinkle with it, and the tension sort of goes from the room—

until Jeongguk slides his fingers underneath the hem of Yoongi’s sweater and gently touches his bare skin.

“I can help.”  Jeongguk whispers.  His eyes are dark and questioning,

is this okay, does this hurt?

Yoongi shudders in an inhale, drops his arms so that he can press on Jeongguk’s hands through his sweater, press until Jeongguk’s palms are flat against Yoongi’s sides.  Jeongguk strokes his thumbs gently, keeps his eyes on Yoongi’s face as he does.  The pads of his fingers are soft.  His palms are broad.

feels good, Yoongi wants to say. 

He loops his arms around Jeongguk’s shoulders and Jeongguk scoots back to rest against the headboard, tugs Yoongi along with him.  Yoongi goes easy, straddles Jeongguk’s thighs, settles into Jeongguk’s lap, slides his hands up so he can touch Jeongguk’s neck, his jaw bone, the shells of his ears. 

Careful careful.

Jeongguk smooths his hands up Yoongi’s stomach, eyes intent, tracking for any sign of discomfort as his fingers roam Yoongi’s ribcage.  Yoongi knows his breathing is a little shaky, sounds a little off, but he can’t help it.  He watches Jeongguk open his mouth to ask if it hurts.  Yoongi doesn’t want to disturb this pretty moment with that question. 

“Feels good.”  He whispers before Jeongguk can speak.

“Oh.”  Jeongguk says on an exhale, leans forward and presses his face into the side of Yoongi’s neck, mouth open and warm and not a kiss.  Almost a kiss.  His hands tighten on Yoongi’s hips before he slides his arms all the way around Yoongi’s waist, pulling him close.  His arms are so warm, bare skin against Yoongi’s, and his mouth is so wet and shy that it sends a shiver up Yoongi’s spine. 

Yoongi tugs himself out of Jeongguk’s grip gently, just a little.  Lets Jeongguk’s hands settle back on his waist.  Jeongguk looks up at him, lip caught between his teeth.

“Feels good.”  Yoongi assures him.  “Just—"

Yoongi scoots back a little more, reaches down to the hem of his sweater so that he can pull it over his head, keeping his eyes closed for a second after, feeling shy, pale, exposed.

Oh,” Jeongguk breathes.

Yoongi opens his eyes and Jeongguk is looking at him, some sort of soft desperation, some sort of gentle that borders too close to reverence. 

“Gguk-ah,” Yoongi whispers, mouth dry.

Jeongguk lifts Yoongi up by the hips, slides his own legs off the bed so that he can set Yoongi down, push him onto his back.  His eyes trail over the ink on Yoongi’s skin, gaze soft and slow, tangible as a touch.

“Pretty,” Jeongguk whispers, after a moment, “pretty.”  

Yoongi doesn’t know if Jeongguk’s talking about the tattoos or him.

“Thank you.”  He whispers.

Jeongguk hums a little, shifts on the bed, lets his eyes trails down Yoongi’s body again again, gaze dark.

“You can touch.”  Yoongi whispers so Jeongguk does.  Trails featherlight fingers across the lines and the stars and the whole night sky.  His fingers ghost up to Yoongi’s face and this time he looks Yoongi in the eyes when he whispers—

“Pretty.”

—he thumbs at Yoongi’s lower lip.

He looks like he wants to ask so Yoongi shakes his head.

doesn’t hurt

“You can touch me.”  He tells Jeongguk, barely louder than a whisper, the pad of Jeongguk's thumb gentle on his mouth.  "You can touch me,"

—so Jeongguk does.  He tilts forward and presses a kiss to the star right under Yoongi’s collarbone.

Yoongi gasps, hands instinctively going to Jeongguk’s hair, grip maybe a little rough.  Jeongguk lifts up quickly but, when he sees the look on Yoongi’s face, the tight lines on his relax.

“Wanted to do that forever.”  He mumbles, sounding caught in a dream.  “Maybe since the first time.  So pretty, hyung.  Your tattoos are so pretty, you’re so pretty.  Wanted to kiss you then, when you were all wet and sweet and smelled like hazelnut.”

“Yeah,” Yoongi rasps, whole body alight alight alight, “yeah, would have let you, I— I would have let you— Guk-ah, please, will you do it agai— oh.

Jeongguk presses his mouth to Yoongi’s collarbones and then slides down, stopping to press kisses on stars, humming as he traces lines with his finger and then the tip of his tongue, hands splayed on Yoongi’s ribcage.  He trails open-mouthed kisses up Yoongi’s sternum.

“Hyung,” his lips trail across Yoongi’s jaw, “want to kiss you,” whispered like it’s a terrible secret, “want to kiss you for real.”

“I want that,” Yoongi speaks as loud as he dares, “but only if you want it, Jeongguk-ah.”

“Want to”—

Jeongguk whispers and doesn’t move,

—"hyung, really want to.”

Yoongi cups Jeongguk’s face with careful fingers,

is this okay?

and lifts up slow,

it’s okay

presses their lips together.  

Chaste and gentle and barely there. 

He draws back a little afterwards so that Jeongguk can pull away if he wants. 

Jeongguk nudges Yoongi’s nose with his own. 

Yoongi brings their mouths together again, lets the kiss last longer, is a little more daring with it, with the way he lets his mouth almost open to Jeongguk’s.  Then he falls back against the bed and waits to see what Jeongguk wants to do. 

“Hyung,” Jeongguk whispers, one hand staying tight on Yoongi’s waist, above the curve of his hip, Jeongguk's eyes fluttering open, dark and heavy lidded, “Yoongi-hyung,” the other hand sliding up to Yoongi’s jaw, the back of his neck to tilt his face as Jeongguk leans in, so close Yoongi can feel the warmth of his mouth, “hyung,” Jeongguk says.

Yoongi slides his hands into Jeongguk’s hair and Jeongguk takes it as permission, kisses him not soft and chaste but deep and wanting and warm—

so warm

—and then pulls back almost quick, drawing in a shuddery breath, searching in Yoongi’s eyes.

“Was that bad?  I’ve not kissed anyone in a long time.”

“Not bad,” Yoongi tells him, “very very good.  I’ve not either, not for a long time.”

“No?” Jeongguk asks.

Yoongi shakes his head, darts his tongue out to wet his lips, tries to think how to say do it again, please do it again, Jeongguk-ah

“Am I hurting you?”  Jeongguk’s hand dances on Yoongi’s waist; he presses his palm flat against Yoongi’s skin.  “Does it hurt, I mean?”

“No,” Yoongi says firmly, “no, baby, it doesn’t hurt.”

“Don’t call me baby,” Jeongguk murmurs, fingers tracing up from Yoongi’s hip, drawing new lines to connect the stars on Yoongi’s body.

“Okay, okay, hyung won’t.”

Jeongguk bends down and kisses him softly, once then twice.

(his lips are so warm)

“Yeah?” He whispers into Yoongi’s mouth.

“Yeah,” Yoongi whispers back, “yeah, hyung’s touching you, see?  It’s okay.”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk breathes, “yeah, okay.”

Jeongguk has stars in his eyes.  

“Call me baby again hyung.”

He has the whole universe in his eyes.

“Okay baby.  Kiss me again?”

Yoongi doesn’t get it.  He doesn’t get how someone could have stars in their eyes but there they are, endless unknown constellations dancing out of Jeongguk’s eyes and skin and fingertips and the soft pink of his mouth, everything about him bright bright bright.

Jeongguk kisses Yoongi again and again and again and something inside Yoongi boils over, his blood sings, he’s raw and exposed but it doesn’t hurt. 

It doesn’t. 

Jeongguk’s hands slowly trace Yoongi’s body, tripping over his hipbone, stumbling to his ribs, tracing up his sternum. 

It feels good.

Jeongguk’s mouth is against his, warm and pliant and soft and falling open,

touch me more, can you touch me more?

Yoongi presses a little closer, presses up and in a little closer, takes Jeongguk’s mouth the way he wants to, is amazed that Jeongguk lets him, that Jeongguk makes a pretty little sound above him and presses down like he wants more, wants more of Yoongi. 

Yoongi slides his hands under Jeongguk’s shirt, tugs at it, pants out,

“Off, Guk.  Want to touch you, let me touch you, baby.”

The sound Jeongguk makes is half a sob half a moan. 

He sits up so that he can pull his shirt off but Yoongi doesn’t want to let go, traces Jeongguk’s skin as it appears, tilting into Jeongguk, kissing up his neck and his jaw until his mouth finds Jeongguk’s again.  Jeongguk’s settles his hands back on Yoongi’s waist as Yoongi crawls into his lap, tilts Jeongguk’s face up toward his, kisses him good and hard and deep, catching Jeongguk’s lower lip to worry with his teeth, soothing it gently before he presses their mouths together again, nipping at Jeongguk's tongue, teasing and trying and promising and anything Jeongguk wants. 

Everything. 

Jeongguk’s hands tremble against Yoongi like he’s overwhelmed.

Maybe he is overwhelmed.

Yoongi’s overwhelmed.   

Yoongi’s on fire. 

Yoongi’s open flame.

He puts his hands into Jeongguk’s hair and tugs, slides his hands to cup Jeongguk’s face, then lets them trail up and down Jeongguk’s chest, skin skin skin,

see hyung can touch you, it’s okay,

eats up Jeongguk’s little moan, lets Jeongguk push him back to the bed again, kiss him breathless, eager, unrefined, so so good.  Jeongguk’s kissing Yoongi this strange mix of intense and careful, this strange mix of unsure and certain, this strange mix of unexperienced and knowing.  Yoongi lets him.  Let’s Jeongguk explore, touch, find out.  Jeongguk licks into Yoongi’s mouth like it tastes sweet and everything’s hot, a little close to unbearable but not bad, not too bad, Jeongguk’s hands skating down the side of Yoongi’s body, touching touching touching, touching in a way Yoongi hasn’t been touched in a long time. 

Yoongi feels feverish with it, with Jeongguk.  He wants Jeongguk closer to him, wants Jeongguk to touch him more, wants to touch Jeongguk more— 

“Baby,” he gets out, the word dissolving into a little moan as Jeongguk scrapes fingers over Yoongi’s jean-clad thighs, hooks them into Yoongi’s belt loops, smooths them over Yoongi’s bare stomach.  Yoongi trembles under Jeongguk’s touch, his whole body heavy with want, "feels good.” He tells Jeongguk, slides hands into Jeongguk's hair and tugs gently.

“Hyung,” Jeongguk pants, sounding wrecked, “hyung, please—”

touch me more

Yoongi runs his hands down, over the pane of Jeongguk’s back, his shifting muscles, the blades of his shoulders, around to touch Jeongguk's chest, then the small of his back, his waistband.  Yoongi trails fingers just under and then around so that he can thumb at the button of Jeongguk’s jeans, no real intent in the movement. 

Jeongguk inhales sharply, shifts down more into Yoongi, onto him, hands coming up to tangle in Yoongi’s hair, forearms planted by Yoongi’s head,

please

Yoongi slides his hands to Jeongguk’s waist and holds on, slides a thigh between Jeongguk’s legs, hears the stuttered exhale, feels the jerk of his hips.  Jeongguk shifts on top of him, just enough that Yoongi can feel him, that Yoongi lifts up too, that Yoongi aches to be touched more more more.  Jeongguk’s mouth is open and wet and warm against his, kissing him with something less than desperation but just on the edge of it, tinged with tenderness, with want, with please.  So Jeongguk, the way he kisses, bold and shy and loving and burning bright.  Yoongi arches up into him, into his pretty body, into the pretty way it feels, into all his pretty warmth,

feels good

Jeongguk tugs at Yoongi’s lower lip with his teeth, mimicking what Yoongi did earlier, seemingly delighted by the sound it coaxes out of Yoongi.  He does it again again before he fits their mouths back together, kiss dizzying and—

hot.  

Too hot?

Maybe too hot.

Yoongi’s head spins.

He lifts his hands, tightens his fingers in Jeongguk’s hair while Jeongguk trails kisses across Yoongi’s jawbone, the side of his neck.  Jeongguk lifts back up to catch Yoongi’s mouth with his own again and—

Jeongguk’s next kiss sears somewhere inside of Yoongi, something deep and hidden in him. 

Yoongi whimpers, jerks underneath Jeongguk.

Jeongguk pulls back quick like he’s been hit, slides off the bed, eyes wide and panicked, breathing shallow.  His lips are swollen and kiss-bitten and Yoongi wants them back on his, wants Jeongguk back on him, but Yoongi’s shaking just a little, just a little, just a lot.

That hurt.  It actually hurt.  Not like anything from before, but something deep inside Yoongi burning up, boiling water in Yoongi’s veins, the promise of all the other little hurts come to fruition. 

Yoongi doesn’t move.

Neither of them move.  

frozen, Yoongi thinks and wants to laugh or maybe cry, how ironic

Jeongguk looks at Yoongi and then says very very calmly,

“I’m hurting you.”  

“No,” Yoongi gasps.  The roof of his mouth feels a little raw.  Something inside him is steaming, cracking, evaporating.  

Jeongguk blinks hard.

“Don’t lie.”  He whispers, fists clenched.  “Don’t lie to me.”

“Sorry.”  Yoongi says, “sorry, I’m sorry.  I won’t lie, I won’t, I’m sorry.”

“You’re lying.”

“I won’t lie.”

“Don’t.”

“Okay.  Okay baby, okay.”

“Don’t call me baby.  Did it hurt?”  

Yoongi lifts his hands helplessly.

“Did it?”  Jeongguk repeats in the same even tone. 

“Yes.”  Yoongi whispers.

“I’m sorry.” Jeongguk looks like he might be sick.  “Hyung, I’m sorry.”

Yoongi feels nauseous. 

“It’s ok—”

“It’s not.  Did it hurt a lot?”

“Baby—”

“Don’t call me baby.  Did it hurt a lot?”

don’t lie don’t lie don’t lie

“Yes.”

“Does it still hurt?  Like right now, does it still hurt even though I’m not touching you?”

don’t lie don’t lie don’t lie

“Jeongguk-ah,”

Jeongguk makes a strange almost convulsive movement, flinching in on himself and away from Yoongi, trying to scramble to his feet, reaching for his shirt.

“I’m sorry, m’sorry, didn’t mean to, swear I didn’t, m’sorry, hyung— hyung, I’m sor—"

“No,” Yoongi says, “no, Guk-ah, no,” but when Yoongi reaches out to touch, Jeongguk’s skin is burning hot.  Yoongi’s fingertips and his palm sear, everything inside Yoongi boils.  It hurts enough that Yoongi yelps, pulls away.

Jeongguk sobs and everything is sparks.

“Sorry,” Jeongguk gasps, “sorry, hurt you, hurting you, m’sorry, didn’t mean to, hyung—" 

“Jeongguk,” Yoongi whispers, reaching out to him, “Guk-ah, it’s okay, just stop, just stop for a second, please—”

But Jeongguk doesn’t listen, can’t listen maybe, stumbles for the door.

“Guk-ah, baby,”

Jeongguk jerks like he’s been slapped.

“Don’t— don’t call me—"

Yoongi gets to him as fast as getting your heart broken.

“Jeongguk,” he manages to get out, “please—”

Jeongguk stills under Yoongi’s fingertips, crackling like a low fire, setting off sparks that fade before they hit the ground. 

“Why are you touching me?”  He asks, eyes wild and scared.

no one ever touches me

It hurts.

“Why are you still touching me?” A sharp edge of panic.

Yoongi doesn’t let go, can’t let go, won’t let go, unsteady on his feet, he just wants Jeongguk to calm down—

how to get him to calm down

—it hurts.

It takes all his effort because it’s not something Yoongi can do anymore but the pain sort of helps, focuses him.  He takes that and adds it to all his other pain and closes his eyes and finds the little whirlpool low in his stomach and tells himself,

magic is real magic is real magic is real magic is real

and presses his hand against Jeongguk’s chest and,

magic is real magic is real magic is real please it’s real

until it is real, just a little real, a damp mist in Yoongi’s room that will ruin half the things he owns.  He doesn’t care.  Water drips down Jeongguk’s face and soothes his skin and Jeongguk takes a very deep, very shuddery, breath, looks up at the ceiling like there might be a raincloud. 

There’s not one but—

“Oh,” Jeongguk whispers like there is, “oh oh oh.

He trembles under Yoongi’s fingertips—

or no

— Yoongi’s trembling against him.

“Want to,” Yoongi’s voice threads in and out of his own ears, a radio not tuned properly, “touching you because I want to, Jeongguk-ah.”

“Hyung,” hands touching Yoongi carefully, like he’s afraid he’ll set Yoongi on fire.  Yoongi’s whole body burns but it’s not the same, not the same heat.  “Hyung,” Jeongguk whispers.

Jeongguk fits strangely in his arms, holding himself away, so Yoongi hugs him tighter.  Pulls him closer.  Yoongi’s so dizzy, he thinks he’s swaying, he feels so hot.  Jeongguk feels so—

not warm?

Jeongguk makes a strange little sound and then melts.

Fits.

Isn’t hot.  Doesn’t feel hot at all.  

Yoongi’s terrified.  He doesn’t let go.  The world is spinning away.

“Hyung?”  He hears Jeongguk say.

“Sorry,” Yoongi slurs, hands tight on Jeongguk’s shoulders, “sorry, hyung can’t really do magic, I just need to sit— maybe to sit—”

He’s very dimly aware that Jeongguk catches him before he falls, hears him say, shaky but determined,

“Okay, hyung, okay.  I got you.”

 

 

 

 

 

It sounds worse than it is— was— is.  I’m fine.  It’s fine.  Besides, people get used to hotter temperatures, Yoongi tries to explain away, pops was all sparks and you got used to it, mum

Yoongi-yah, his mother sighs.

It was the same for you, right? Wasn’t it the same for you, mum? When you first started dating pops.

He knows his voice is desperate.

His mother is silent for a very long time.

Not like that, she says finally, voice kind but so sad, sweetheart, it was never like that.  

 

 

 

 

 

maybe we shouldn’t meet up anymore, hyung 

guk-ah

hyung

jeongguk

yoongi hyung

jeon jeongguk

min yoongi

we might accidentally see each other for coffee though
like this Saturday
at 3:30
for coffee 

hyung

guk-ah 

 

jeongguk

 

jeongguk-ah

 

i’ll be there if you want to talk
if you don’t come i get it
ill leave you alone, okay?
but ill be there
if you want to talk

 

 

 

 

 

Yoongi gets there first and waits.  And waits.  And waits a bit more.  

Jeongguk’s maybe we shouldn’t meet up anymore echoes in his head like it was spoken not sent.  

When the clock slips past 5:30 he feels sort of sad and small and outside it’s damp and dreary, a desolate grey.  He buys another coffee, adds hazelnut syrup like the sweetness will help this hurt less.  It’s too hot.  His mouth burns.  He sits.  Waits.  Closes his eyes and wants.

At 6:37 Jeongguk tumbles in through the front door and nearly throws himself into the seat across from Yoongi.

“Why did you wait?” He demands. “Why didn’t you just leave? Why have you just been sitting here, hyung?”

Because I’m falling in love with you. Because I think I love you. Because I love you.

“Because you don’t scare me, Jeongguk-ah.”

 

 

 

 

 

Jeongguk won’t let Yoongi kiss him anymore, barely lets Yoongi touch him, soft little glances of skin, each one accompanied by a quick inhale when he realizes what he’s done, eyes darting over Yoongi to see if he’s hurt. 

It doesn’t hurt, Yoongi tells him, Jeongguk-ah, it’s okay, you’ve touched me like that before and it never hurt, it’s okay.

“I have to go.”  Jeongguk says when Yoongi leans across the café table to touch his wrist, arm jerking away from Yoongi.  “Is it going to rain, do you think?” 

“Yeah.” Yoongi breathes, body shaking, fingers touching nothing at all, “yes, I think it is.”  

 

 

 

 

 

(Sweetheart, Yoongi’s mom says, 

Mama, I don’t know what to do, Yoongi says, please please don’t tell me what I already know, please mama I don’t—

Okay, his mother soothes, okay baby okay, calm down.

Mama, please, Yoongi whispers.

Oh sweetie, her voice a little broken, sweetheart, I don’t know what to tell you.)

 

 

 

 

 

“Relearn how to touch me, ‘gguk, it’s okay.”

(one fingertip than two)

Jeongguk touches him cautiously, fingertips then the pads of his fingers then, uncertainly, his whole hand. 

(tracing the phases of the moon)

When Jeongguk trusts enough to hold his hand again Yoongi’s whole body burns bright.

(Jeongguk’s still scared though, drops his hand quick every time)

(Yoongi lets him)

 

 

 

“It doesn’t hurt though, Jeonggukie.  Promise.”

 

 

 

 (don’t lie)

 

 

 

“I’m not.”

 

 

 

(not really)

 

 

 

 

 

(google search, can you become immune to something?

google search, exposure therapy

google search, exposure therapy magic

google search, exposure therapy magic success

google search, fuck everything

google search, please i just want to hold him)

 

 

 

 

 

“Does it matter?”  Namjoon asks.  “About fire magic and real magic and all that?” 

“No.”  Yoongi says.

“Of course it fucking matters.”  Hoseok snaps.  “Jesus.”

He’s gone before Yoongi realizes he’s going to be gone, the echo of his bedroom door half-slamming shut. 

Seokjin touches Yoongi’s knee lightly. 

Yoongi doesn’t open his eyes. 

He listens to Seokjin pad away, hears the soft knock on Hoseok’s door.

Yoongi can still feel Namjoon sitting across from him, the weight of his gaze. 

He opens his eyes. 

“It doesn’t matter, Joon.”

They look at each other until Yoongi can’t anymore, closes his eyes.

“Hyung,” Namjoon says, “hyung, I think it might matter.  I think it matters that you don’t think it matters.”

“I love him.”  Yoongi tells Namjoon.

“Yeah.”  Namjoon says.  “I get that.”

Neither of them speak. 

When Yoongi opens his eyes again Namjoon has gone.

 

 

 

 

 

hey baby?

yeah?


hyung?
what’s up?

nothing
just
i don’t know
never mind

fascinating

tysm
see you at 7 tomorrow, right?

yep!

♥ 

 

 

hyung?

yeah?

want me to call you?

yeah. yes, please.  

[gguk-ah wants to facetime]

 

 

 

 

 

“Everything’s flammable, when you think about it.”  Yoongi says.

Jeongguk rests his head on Yoongi’s shoulder.

The ocean crashes around their legs.

“Mmm.” Jeongguk says, not an answer at all.

“Does it hurt you,” Yoongi asks, “when we touch?”

The water is really cold.  

“Only because I’m hurting you.”  Jeongguk whispers.

So cold it burns. 

“You’re not,” Yoongi says.

Jeongguk doesn’t say anything for a long while.  Eventually he presses a kiss to Yoongi’s shoulder, sits himself up straight.

“Maybe I’m just not meant to have people touch me— touch me like that I mean.”

no no no no no

“Jeongguk-ah, c’mere.”  

Yoongi presses their foreheads together and holds on, finds Jeongguk’s skin, lets his lips and fingers drift, kisses the corner of Jeongguk’s mouth, kisses his bottom lip, thumbs at his earrings, scratches softly at the nape of his neck. 

He touches until Jeongguk pulls away shaking, looking at him in concern.

“It doesn’t hurt.”  Yoongi says firmly.

“But it could.” Jeongguk argues.  “It will.”

“Anything could hurt.”  Yoongi tells him.  “That’s not unique to us, Jeongguk-ah.  People get hurt all the time. Right now it doesn’t hurt.  There’s never any more guarantee than that.”

Jeongguk looks at him for a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

(this isn’t a thought experiment, hyung. you could really get hurt.)

 

 

 

 

 

“Hyung,” Jeongguk whispers, “I want to kiss you.”

Yoongi stills where he’s standing, looks at Jeongguk who’s tearing at a hangnail by his thumb in a way that Jeongguk doesn’t normally do.  In a way that Yoongi does though, when his nerves get the best of him. 

There’s a pause and then—

“Never mind,” Jeongguk squeezes his eyes shut, “want to but— shouldn’t.  Can’t.  Sorry.  I just.  Want to.  Want to kiss you, want to touch you.”

“Jeongguk-ah,” Yoongi feels so broken, climbs onto the couch and leans against the opposite arm as Jeongguk whispers to himself, 

no no no 

“I’ll hurt you.”  Jeongguk says.  “I’m still so scared to even let you hold me for too long.”  

“Jeongguk-ah,” Yoongi pleads, “you’re not going to hurt me.”

(he doesn’t think that’s a lie)

“I did though, hyung.” 

Yoongi doesn’t respond to that because it’s true.  They both know it’s true.  Yoongi doesn’t think it matters.  Jeongguk does.

“I don’t want you to if you don’t want to, if you don’t feel comfortable, so don’t take this as trying to make you okay?”  He waits until Jeongguk nods to continue.  “Jeongguk-ah, we touch.  We do.  And we touched before and that was okay.  Even if we have to be careful, we can touch— I’m not different than anyone else, okay?  Taehyung and Jiminie, they touch you, I’ve seen them kiss your cheeks, it’s the same.”    

“I don’t want to kiss them like I want to kiss you.” Jeongguk murmurs.

(yoongi’s heart thuds once, want to kiss you too, want to kiss you like you want to be kissed, baby)

“They would find that very rude.” He says instead.

“I almost hurt Taehyungie-hyung once.  Like— bad.” Jeongguk’s voice is measured and calm and terrible, “I fell asleep on his bed and—he knew I was tired so he didn’t wake me.  He just went to bed himself.  But he cuddles people during his sleep and— I don’t know why we’re still friends.  I don’t know why he didn’t run away.”

“He loves you.”  Yoongi says.  “Just like Jimin does.”

Jeongguk looks at him, expression blank.

“I love them too.” He mouths more than says, like he’s afraid of the words. 

“Jimin touches you.”  Yoongi says. 

“He always has sweater paws.”  Jeongguk whispers.  “Like disturbingly always.  He has no shirts that fit him properly maybe.”

“Wouldn’t that just make Jimin more flammable?” Yoongi asks.  “Or no, wait, you don’t set things on real fire.  Do you?”  Yoongi sits up.  “Wait, can you for real like not just the sparks and little flames and stuff?  Can you, like, create fire?”

Jeongguk frowns at him.

“Are you trying to comfort me?”  He asks.

“That was the plan, yes.”  

“Really bad execution.”  Jeongguk murmurs, but there’s a grin on the edges of his lips and his eyes are soft. He lifts his hands up, cups them in front of his chest and wiggles around so he’s sitting opposite Yoongi.

Yoongi holds his own hands out and Jeongguk looks at him—

“Tell me when it hurts.”

—and then puts his cupped hands in Yoongi’s.  Barely touching, a brush of skin.  

Yoongi doesn’t flinch.

Jeongguk takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and does something, Yoongi doesn’t know what, but it almost looks like it hurts, and then Jeongguk’s hands are filled with sparks, tiny sparks that look like glitter, like Jeongguk’s skin is has turned into sparklers, like Jeongguk is full of—

stars.

Yoongi wants to touch,

Without thinking he slides one hand up, reaches toward the sparks.  His mouth partsa little gasp, when one flicks over his finger, then another, then all at once like they’re alive.  They dance on his skin, warm warm warm, bright bright bright. 

Oh, Yoongi breathes, oh oh oh.

Jeongguk jumps, spreads his hands, and the universe disappears.

“You can control it like that?”  Yoongi asks, looking at his hand, the tiny pinprick burns.  He pulls his sleeve down over his fingers.

Jeongguk frowns.  “Not really, I mean, like that mostly I can, but it—” he looks a little wane, “I don’t know.  It’s not— it’s different.”

“But you can control it.”  Yoongi says.

“Hyung,” Jeongguk says, “hyung, not lik—"

“Maybe you can control it?”  Yoongi says. “All of it.  Like how hyung does.” 

Jeongguk frowns at the storm raging outside.

“This is not me, jackass.”  Yoongi huffs.

Jeongguk pushes Yoongi back quick and looms over him, brushes soft lips against his cheekbone.

Lightning lights up the apartment.

Jeongguk smirks.  “Okay baby.”

Yoongi makes a face at him.  

“Don’t call me baby.  You kissed me Jeonggukie.”

Jeongguk stills and then curls back, eyes glancing over Yoongi like he’s looking for marks.  

“It didn’t hurt.”  

Jeongguk reaches one finger out and Yoongi extends his untouched hand, watches as Jeongguk presses his finger into Yoongi’s palm the way he always does.  Like the increments make him feel safe about it, that there will be a moment to pull back before he hurts Yoongi. 

Yoongi hates it. 

Yoongi likes it when Jeongguk forgets to touch like that, falls against Yoongi laughing, curls into Yoongi’s side and presses close, drapes himself over Yoongi’s shoulders, forgets that he thinks he needs to leave space.  

“I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I know.”

Jeongguk’s fingers slide up, touch the dark ink of Yoongi's full moon.

“Control it.” Jeongguk mumbles. 

“Mmm,” Yoongi hums, watches as Jeongguk slides his fingers back down and presses three to the inside of Yoongi’s wrist.  “I can try too.  Harder, I mean, to counterbalance it or something.  We could try.”

“I try to control it a lot.”  Jeongguk’s voice is frustrated, right on the edge of tears.  “I’m really trying, I don’t mean to hurt you.”

Yoongi links their fingers, reaches for Jeongguk’s other hand, presses a little kiss to the swell of his veins. 

“I know.”  He tells Jeongguk.  “I know that, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that.”

Jeongguk makes a gentle sound of acknowledgement, of assurance, brings their clasped hands to his heart and breathes,

“Does it hurt?”

Yoongi lets him finish the question.  Doesn’t want to, already knows his answer, but he knows Jeongguk needs to ask.   

“No.  Warm, Guk-ah.  My ‘Guk-ah, you just feel warm.”  

Jeongguk’s face goes tight.  He drops Yoongi’s hands and tilts forward, nuzzles into Yoongi’s knee, presses a kiss to the seam of Yoongi’s jeans, doesn’t move for a long long time. 

“Jeongguk?” Yoongi breathes.

“Yeah?”  Jeongguk tilts his head up to look at Yoongi, little frown on his lips, brow creased.

“Call me baby again.”

Jeongguk makes a strange sad sound.  

“Okay baby.”

 

 

 

 

  

Pretty, ‘Guk-ah, you’re so pretty.

(and sweet and kind and good and I love you and it’s not fair, this isn’t fair)

Hyung too.

Can I kiss you?

Are you going to lie to me again?

(maybe)

No.

Liar.

I’m not lying.

 

 

 

He’s not lying.  It doesn’t hurt when they touch.  The thing that hurts is when Jeongguk says, 

“Why are you doing this to yourself, hyung?” 

 

 

 

 

 

(You should stop this, his mother says, you’ll hurt yourself and him, you’ll—

No, mama, I— love him and—

Yoongi, sweetheart, his mom’s voice sounds so broken, you should have broken up with him ages ag—

Yoongi hangs up.) 

 

 

 

 

 

“You should just leave me”

 

 

 

 

 

I love you, Yoongi says, 

the second longest five seconds of Yoongi’s life drag by and then Jeongguk cries blisteringly hot tears into Yoongi’s palm,

I love you too

so we’ll figure it out, Yoongi tells him and summons all the rain he can inside him, wades into the tides and reaches out, wraps himself around Jeongguk, feels Jeongguk sink into him careful, always so careful.

“Tell me when it hurts.”  Jeongguk whispers before he burrows into Yoongi’s neck like he’s looking for shelter, pressing a soft kiss to Yoongi’s skin, wrapping his arms around him tight.

“If it hurts.” Yoongi presses little kisses to Jeongguk’s hair and temples, wherever he can reach.

“When.”  Jeongguk says firmly. 

 

 

 

 

 

(jeongguk can touch things, all sorts of things, without setting them on fire.  

yoongi just has to figure out how to stop being kindling under jeongguk’s fingers.)

 

 

 

 

 

“Let me try something,” Yoongi says.

Jeongguk nods, tightens fingers on Yoongi’s wrist.

Yoongi closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, and looks at all the cold rushing water inside him.  It tugs at his feet with angry hands, tries to pull him down, in, under.  When he feels brave enough he lets it trip him, lets himself fall.  Sink.  His lungs burn.  He opens his mouth and breathes in, lets himself drown.  

When he opens his eyes everything is murky except for Jeongguk. 

Jeongguk glows bright bright bright.

“Kiss me?” Yoongi asks, feeling like he’s floating.  Sinking.  Maybe they’re the same. 

Jeongguk looks at him. 

“If you want to,” Yoongi whispers, “then please, if you want to.  Just once, Guk-ah.  Want to try.”

Jeongguk tilts forward, kisses him softly.  A chaste little thing.  Half on the corner of Yoongi's mouth.  Less than a kiss, more than a touch. 

“Again?” Yoongi breathes, “it’s okay, again?”

Jeongguk kisses the exact center of Yoongi's mouth, lingers longer.  His exhales are shaky against Yoongi’s lips. 

“More?”  Yoongi asks.  “More is okay, baby, if you want.  I’m okay.”

Jeongguk kisses him slowly, gentle tides, fading shapes of the moon, asking for permission and finding it. 

Everything feels languid and warm. 

Yoongi crawls into Jeongguk’s lap and Jeongguk stills under him and then relaxes, pulls Yoongi close, presses their bodies together.  His hand slides up the back of Yoongi’s shirt shyly, questioning. 

“Yes,” Yoongi gasps, pulling back, ducking down and pressing a kiss to Jeongguk’s pulse point, “s’okay.” 

Yoongi teases Jeongguk’s mouth open and then relaxes against him when Jeongguk slides a hand to the back of Yoongi’s neck, takes control.  Jeongguk’s kisses make Yoongi dizzy.  Jeongguk kisses curious, he kisses eager, he kisses urgently, he presses into Yoongi and traces the bumps of Yoongi’s spine with a touch so light it aches, everything about him is bold and reserved all at once. 

(their mouths hiss as they touch, damp fabric on flame)

They kiss until Yoongi breaks them apart with a gasp,

“Sorry, baby, m'sorry, it hurts a lit—"

Jeongguk pushes Yoongi away so quick that’s like being burned too.

(yoongi spends that evening feeling watery and warm, like he swallowed a lit ember, hot from the inside out.  jeongguk watches him with careful eyes. 

it doesn’t hurt, im not in pain, yoongi tells him.)

 

 

 

(he’s mostly sure this is true)

 

 

 

(it’s true, he thinks it’s true)

 

 

 

Jeongguk pulls Yoongi on top of them and Yoongi kisses into the pain until he can’t breathe. They sit, panting into each other’s mouths, a storm outside, a storm inside.  

“Does it hurt?”  Jeongguk’s fingers dance on Yoongi’s ribs.  “Hyung, did it hurt?”

(yoongi doesn’t like lying) 

“No.” 

Jeongguk kisses the inside of Yoongi’s wrist, slides his mouth up, flicks his tongue over the full moon.

“Liar.”  He whispers when Yoongi gasps.

 

 

 

(not lying)

 

 

 

(you’re not?)

 

 

 

Yoongi thinks he’s adjusting.  Or learning how to deal with it.  Or something.  Something, because when they touch he just feels—

lit up.

Jeongguk is still warm warm warm, still makes Yoongi warm warm warm, but it’s not unbearable, just sometimes, just sometimes it is.  

Sometimes.

But every time Jeongguk touches him Yoongi lights up.

bright bright bright

Sometimes Yoongi lets himself wonder why it feels so good.

Sometimes it just hurts.

(but that’s okay)

 

 

 

(maybe)

  

 

 

 

 

don’t lie don’t lie don’t lie 

 

 

 

 

 

 I love you, I love you, I love you 

 

 

 

 

 

(does it hurt?

a little, it’s okay, guk, it’s okay, it will take practice, maybe

i don’t want to hurt you

i know i know. think of cold things

that’s not how it works at all. oh my god. you think of cold things

im made of cold things

liar liar liar, you’re made of warm spring rain)

 

 

 

 

 

Jeongguk sighs, little smile playing on his lips. 

“Hyung.”  He whispers drowsily, “Hyung, c’mere.”  He doesn’t reach out for Yoongi but shifts over on the bed so that Yoongi can crawl in next to him.

Jeongguk’s body is soft and warm and pliant and just out of reach.

Yoongi shifts, crowds into him.  

Jeongguk asks— 

“Hyung, is it okay?”

—and Yoongi breathes out—

yes, ‘Guk, yes. it’s okay

—and Jeongguk presses their mouths together, presses Yoongi back into the pillows. 

Jeongguk kisses warm and wet and slow and devastating and—

hot.  

So hot Yoongi can’t breathe so he doesn’t.  He sinks into it.  Falls into the water inside him that’s the same color as all of Jeongguk’s brightest flames.  He sinks and sinks and sinks until he (drowns) finds somewhere cold.  

Yoongi pulls Jeongguk on top of him.

It doesn’t hurt, not really.  It’s just so warm, just so hot Yoongi’s skin crackles.  It’s so hot it tastes almost sweet, Jeongguk’s mouth.  It’s sun-kissed fruit, it’s Yoongi’s whole everything melting, evaporating, falling away. 

Jeongguk whimpers when Yoongi arches into him. Tastes like too hot coffee, like too cold ice, like everything good and bright and painful.  Jeongguk rolls onto his back, tugs at Yoongi, and Yoongi goes.  As long as Jeongguk will let him, Yoongi will go.  He slides his body half onto Jeongguk’s and slides his leg in between Jeongguk’s and tilts Jeongguk’s head back so he can scrape teeth over Jeongguk’s earlobe, his jaw, his neck, in the way Yoongi’s learning makes Jeongguk shiver.

hyung

Yoongi brings their mouths back together easily at Jeongguk’s urging, trails a hand down to Jeongguk’s waistband,

touch me more

He thinks of cool dark oceans and kisses Jeongguk and thinks of deep dark lakes and is kissed by Jeongguk and outside a storm rages and Yoongi thinks of ice and snow and sleet and hail and Jeongguk and his pretty hands and his pretty laugh and his pretty eyes and everything about him so gentle and warm. 

Yoongi’s ablaze.  

He pants into Jeongguk’s mouth, 

warm, guk-ah, you’re so warm, you make me feel so warm 

Jeongguk, brow furrowed as though in concentration, mumbles,

you make me feel cold

It sounds like a good thing. 

Yoongi thinks it’s a good thing. 

He looks at Jeongguk’s swollen red lips and damp skin from Yoongi’s hands and his dark wet hair tangled in Yoongi’s fingers and Yoongi presses his other hand down and asks,

is that a good thing, guk-ah, is that a good thing?

yes, Jeongguk gasps, hips kicking up into Yoongi’s palm, body lifting up as he noses into Yoongi’s neck.  He presses little biting kisses that burn an entirely different way, hyung, when we kiss— when we’re together— you touch me like I don’t burn you, like I’m the right temperature, you make me feel cold, you make me feel so good

Tugging at Jeongguk’s hair lightly until he brings his mouth back to Yoongi’s, lifting his hand so that he can slide it under Jeongguk’s waistband, touching skin, words whispered into the kiss like they’re a secret,

you make me feel good too, gguk

 

 

 

(i love you, i love you, i love you)

 

 

 

Jeongguk has the whole universe in his eyes and he summons fireballs, cradles them in his palms like they’re water, like they might spill, flames that burn so hot they’re bright blue, bright green, the color of the ocean on particularly sunny days. 

(yoongi wants to touch them, always always.

jeongguk doesn’t let him) 

Does it hurt, Jeongguk asks that night in bed, skating his mouth down Yoongi’s body, tracing constellations with his tongue, setting Yoongi alight.

No, Yoongi murmurs, no, it feels good.  Stop asking.  Don’t be afraid.  I’ll tell you.  Trust me.

Trust you, Jeongguk mumbles, kisses Yoongi’s hipbone, leaves a mark with his mouth, a dark planet.  He trails up to Scorpio, then to Cancer, then to Yoongi’s smallest star.  Jeongguk’s eyes are dark as he sinks back down, his chin resting on Yoongi’s hipbone, his fingers tracing the heavens.  I trust you, of course I trust you— but sometimes I think you feel pain funny or something, hyung.  Like how much you’re willing to accept things should hurt.  

Pain is just a thing you take with you, Yoongi strokes Jeongguk’s damp hair back from his forehead.

Jeongguk looks at him, expression unreadable—  

Until you can’t anymore, he whispers.

 

 

  

Trust me.

I do.

 

 

 

(do you?)

 

 

 

what’s this constellation, hyung?

made-up

it’s pretty

 

 

 

(“It’s pretty,” Yoongi whispered, reaching reaching, “it’s pretty” touching the flame just to see—)

 

 

 

(should you?)

 

 

 

hyung—

don’t lie don’t lie don’t lie

—do I hurt you?

(a question Yoongi can answer) 

no, pulling Jeongguk’s mouth to his, baby, no, you don’t hurt me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(liar)