Chapter 1: like a magnet
A fresh start somewhere new. It was something that Hoseok had needed more than he had realized. After things had gone wrong with his ex-boyfriend, Hoseok had just packed his things and gotten on a bus with a ticket to the farthest destination that he could afford to get to. Which was how he had found himself in this sleepy little New England town on the coast. He was not sure why he had chosen that town between all the others he could have gone to, but he had and after several weeks of living there, he found that he did not regret his choice. He had picked up a job at the bakery in town, working with a smiley, friendly young man named Youngjae that was a bit quiet until he had something to say. When he had something to say it was usually so silly or ridiculous or proof of how much of a dork Youngjae was that it made both of them laugh as they worked together.
Youngjae’s boyfriend, Jinyoung, was often in the shop. He was often seen reading while sipping a coffee that Youngjae made him, or he was grading papers; when he wasn’t peeking over at Youngjae and smiling fondly, anyway. He was really smart and kind, but he had a savage streak that caught Hoseok off guard the first time he had heard Jinyoung talking with their friend Jackson. It had caused Hoseok to freeze in surprise only to lose himself into a fit of giggles. Jinyoung had just smirked proudly and took a drink of his coffee while Jackson pouted. Hoseok did not know Jackson very well, only saw him a time or two (but Youngjae said Jackson was like that, super busy and flitting out of everyone’s lives at random intervals). But there, in the shop with Jinyoung and Youngjae, Hoseok started to feel like that sleepy little town was where he was meant to be - even if it still felt like maybe something was missing.
That was something that Hoseok did not think about at work, though, especially not as he took lunch orders for the couple he was leaving at the bakery so that he could run down to the diner down the street.
“Okay, okay, I’ll be back soon,” Hoseok said through his laughter as he shut the front door to the shop behind him as a subtle gust of wind blew some orange and yellow leaves along the ground at his feet. He glanced down at them and then started walking in the direction of the wind toward the diner only to pause when he found a small black cat sitting there. It watched him - or Hoseok felt like it was watching him - for several seconds before blinking slowly and starting to walk off. Hoseok shook off the strange feeling the cat had given him and kept walking.
He was almost to the diner down the street from the bakery when he noticed the cat on the other side of the street. It walked right up to someone that sat balanced on the railing of a walkway at the park that was over there, winding around the guy’s foot that still rested on the ground several times before sitting down next to his foot. He did not react to the sudden appearance of a cat, focused more on reading the book in his hands as some leaves fluttered down from the trees above him. He had several earrings in each ear, and Hoseok could see a flash of some rings on his fingers when he turned the page and the sleeve of the oversized button down shirt he wore fell down slightly. Hoseok had not even realized that he had stopped walking to stare at him until the guy was looking up at his direction. He seemed confused for several seconds, glancing down at the cat at his foot before looking to Hoseok again with a slow smile.
Suddenly realizing that he was standing in the middle of the sidewalk, staring at this guy across the street, Hoseok grew red in the face and he kept walking, swearing under his breath as he went. Youngjae was going to laugh so hard at him when he told them - if he told them. By the time that Hoseok had gotten to the diner, ordered lunch to go for him and the other two, and left the diner again, the young man from earlier was gone. The cat was still there, running around chasing some leaves that were swirling around in the wind, though it paused in its playing as Hoseok went by and Hoseok felt as though he was being watched again until the cat suddenly darted off across the park and out of Hoseok’s line of sight.
Hoseok was not too sure what to think about that, and he frowned slightly as he kept walking to the bakery. When he went inside, he was suddenly assaulted by the warm air from the shop’s heating system, the smell of the different baked goods they sold, and the coffee being brewed. Youngjae was talking with some customers over the display case, telling them about the different seasonal options they were featuring on special. Jinyoung was in his corner, grading some papers and glancing up at his boyfriend every so often. It was nice, familiar, and let Hoseok forget all about that strange cat or the guy with piercing eyes that had been at the park.
While Youngjae finished up with the customers, Hoseok started to unpack the containers their food was in. “Laura is going to bring us our drinks here in a few minutes,” Hoseok stated after the customers had left and Youngjae made a beeline to Hoseok, making a grabbing hands motion toward the food.
“Laura is a saint,” replied Jinyoung without looking up from his grading.
Not even two minutes later, the door was opened and a petite blonde girl came rushing into the shop, carefully kicking the door shut behind her as she carried three cups with lids - each one had one of the boys’ names on them. “Did you hear?” she questioned as she passed Jinyoung his cup of mint tea before going over to hand Hoseok a cup of Coke with no ice. “Jaebum is back. He brought Mark home.”
“Who are Jaebum and Mark?” asked Hoseok, putting a straw into the lid of his cup and taking a drink as he glanced between his friends. Somehow, he could not keep himself from remembering the boy at the park.
“They run the botanical shop across town.” Laura answered as she passed off the last drink - lemonade with extra sugar - to Youngjae. “They’re wi--”
She cut off when Youngjae elbowed her, clearing his throat with a slight shake of his head. Hoseok’s brow furrowed and he leaned against one of the counters. “They’re what?”
Laura and Youngjae seemed to be bickering quietly under their breaths, Hoseok could not tell what they were saying and he looked over to Jinyoung who sighed and lifted up his glasses to pinch the bridge of his nose. Then he let his glasses back into place as he rested his chin in his hands and looked at Hoseok. “We might as well tell you. Everyone else in town knows,” he stated. “They’re witches.”
Hoseok laughed, mostly in surprise at the unexpected statement, as he looked between the other three. “Right, yeah. Okay. So they’re into that whole wicca thing. That doesn’t exactly make them different than thousands of others around the country,” Hoseok stated with a shake of his head. He missed the looks the other three shared as he pushed himself away from the counter and started to focus on getting his food to eat his lunch.
The rest of the day continued by uneventfully after that. Jackson dropped off some maple candies for them to have before inviting them all to dinner with him and some friends. Youngjae seemed incredibly excited by the offer, while Jinyoung looked as though he was bored - but Hoseok recognized the sparkle in his eye as being one that meant he was actually looking forward to this. “I’m bringing Namjoon, and Mark is bringing Yugyeom,” Jackson explained as Youngjae set the alarm so they could head out of the shop.
“Who’s Yugyeom?” questioned Jinyoung, tugging his bag up onto his shoulder as they filed out the front door. He stopped and looked to Jackson while Youngjae locked up.
“Mark’s new boyfriend. Apparently he came back with Mark and Jaebum. He’s living with them.” Hoseok frowned slightly as Jackson explained. Mark and Jaebum were the friends they were going to go eat with? The same Mark and Jaebum that everyone had made a big deal about earlier? He was not sure what he thought about that - but free food was free food and his friends were insisting it was going to be a great night.
They walked together along the sidewalk in the opposite direction of the diner. The moon was bright and there were no clouds in the sky, though the wind seemed to have changed direction to be coming off the water on the opposite side of town. There was a chill to the air that blew leaves around their feet and Hoseok crossed his arms over his chest. He should have worn more than just a sweater that morning. The walk to their destination did not take too long and Hoseok soon found himself walking up to a large white house with lights on in every window. There were leaves strewn about, a couple of pumpkins for holiday decoration and as they walked onto the wraparound porch, Hoseok realized that there was an owl sitting on the railing of the porch. “Uh…” he pointed at it, but none of the others seemed to pay it - or the cats that ran by into the house when Jackson opened the front door - any attention.
“Come on, Hoseok,” Youngjae insisted as he grabbed Hoseok’s wrist and led him into the house.
The inside was cozy and warm, decorated with some fairy lights and fall leaf garlands around the living room doorway. The air smelled of different foods and spices mixing together in a pleasant manner. There were gourds and pumpkins decorating a white table in the hallway that Youngjae led Hoseok right past and into the large kitchen. It was probably the best kitchen Hoseok had seen in a home in his life, and he could not help but be in awe as he looked around. The countertops were marble and the sinks were stainless steel. The entire room was crisp and clean and wonderful, even if some of the fall decorations were a bit much for Hoseok’s taste. Youngjae let go of Hoseok’s hand, picking up one of the cups on the kitchen island and continuing on to another room where Hoseok could hear the faint sounds of laughter and voices mixing together as introductions were made and greetings held.
Hoseok stayed there in the kitchen, distracted by the fact that there was a black cauldron sitting in the middle of the island next to the drinks that had been set out, seemingly filled with whatever was in the cups. Hoseok leaned over slightly in order to try to see what it was, but he jumped when suddenly there was a voice near his ear saying, “It’s just cider.”
He turned around to see the man from earlier at the park stepping back from him with a soft smile on his face. He had exchanged the t-shirt and button down for a red turtleneck sweater that was a little big but looked incredibly soft and cozy. It was a deep red in color, and Hoseok found that it honestly looked really good on this guy. Hoseok realized he was staring when the corner of the guy’s lips twitched upwards slightly in the same sort of smirk he’d had on his face earlier at the park. Hoseok’s cheeks and ears reddened immediately as he cleared his throat a little. “What?” he asked, thankful that his voice seemed to work better than he had thought it would considering his embarrassment at having stared like he had. He could not help it, though. There was just something about the guy that seemed to make it difficult to look away. Hoseok was fairly sure it was his eyes.
“The drinks? It’s cider,” the other man explained, gesturing toward the cups and cauldron still sitting on the island. “Mark is ridiculous and insisted on putting the cider into that cheap plastic thing because of the “aesthetic” or something.”
“O-oh, right.” Hoseok watched as the other man reached forward to grab one of the remaining cups before he grabbed one himself and took a drink. “It’s good.” He smiled softly when the other man did. His smile was rather beautiful and Hoseok definitely preferred it to the smirk he’d already seen. “I’m Hoseok.”
“Jaebum.” He smiled before he took a drink out of his own cup. “Come on. We should join the others. I’m sure Mark would like to meet you, too.” With a nod and a smile of his own, Hoseok took another drink of his cider before following Jaebum into the other room.
The rest of the night went rather smoothly, Hoseok getting to know Mark and Yugyeom more than Jaebum. He seemed to stay to the side, quiet and observing the way that everyone mingled and talked and ate the dinner that Mark had ordered in for them. He had a fond smile on his face the entire time and eventually the cat from the park earlier jumped up onto the table next to where Jaebum stood. The cat rubbed against the side of his arm and he reached up to scratch the cat behind the ear while he watched Yugyeom catching Jackson in a headlock after Jackson had insulted him again.
The night eventually came to an end with Mark driving Youngjae and Jinyoung back to their apartment while Jackson and Namjoon left in Jackson’s car, and Yugyeom went upstairs calling out a goodnight to Hoseok and Jaebum. “Where do you live?” Jaebum asked Hoseok after the noise level died out when the others were all out.
“Oh, actually just a couple blocks that way,” answered Hoseok with a wave of his hand in the general direction of where his apartment was. “I told Youngjae I would call him when I got home. I like walking. It’s… relaxing.”
Jaebum nodded a little. “I’ll walk with you.” He grabbed a jacket and pulled it on before he grabbed a second one out of the closet, holding it out toward Hoseok in offering for him to put it on. Hoseok started to protest, but Jaebum just sighed and shifted his hold on the jacket so that he could drape it over Hoseok’s shoulders instead. “Come on.” Hoseok paused for a few seconds but smiled softly as Jaebum walked past him and then started to follow after, putting his arms through the sleeves of the jacket as he walked.
As they got outside, they started walking side-by-side. Hoseok let out a heavy breath and tilted his head up to look at the few stars he could see in the sky, minimized by the few streetlights that dotted the way. “Youngjae said you moved here almost two months ago?” Jaebum questioned as they walked, placing his hands into the pockets of his jacket. One of the cats from the house came scurrying up to walk next to him and he smiled smally at the cat before looking over at Hoseok.
“Yeah,” answered Hoseok with a slight nod of his head as he lowered his head to look forward again. “Yeah. I’m from Orlando, actually. I, uhm… needed to get away.”
Hoseok let out a heavy breath and laughed a little. “Yeah. That obvious?” Jaebum shook his head a little and Hoseok smiled at him though he knew that Jaebum was lying - or Youngjae had already told him. “I needed a change. That relationship had been a constant in my life since I was sixteen. Then he decided that he didn’t want to be with me anymore, that he wanted to… explore or whatever.” Hoseok shrugged his shoulders. “I think he was too scared to admit that he wasn’t in love with me anymore.”
It had been a hard choice, but ultimately, Hoseok felt like it was the best one. All of his friends were also friends with his ex and he didn’t want them feeling like they had to choose between him and his ex. There was no way for them to not run into one another, their lives were so entwined. Hoseok did not know how not to be Darren’s boyfriend. For so long, it had been HoseokandDarren that Hoseok had to learn how to be just Hoseok again. As he walked next to Jaebum, glancing up at the stars with a crisp autumn breeze around him that he’d never known back in Florida, Hoseok felt as though he was definitely on his way to that. “Ah, this is me,” Hoseok said as they reached the building that he was renting a room in. It was a small duplex; single bedroom and single bath with a barely fit for one sized kitchen. With it just being him there, though, it was rather perfect.
Jaebum nodded a little, smiling warmly in Hoseok’s direction. “Well, I guess I’ll see you around, then,” he said as Hoseok stepped up onto the single step that led to his door, fishing his keys out of his pocket to unlock it.
“Do you want coffee in the morning?” Hoseok found himself asking as he opened the front door before looking back to Jaebum. “I’m in charge of making the first batch of the day. You could, uh, stop by and tell me if it’s good. Youngjae says it is but I don’t really trust him to not be sparing my feelings.” It sounded completely like an excuse to see Jaebum again and Hoseok felt the tips of his ears burning. He should not have said anything.
Jaebum nodded, though, and Hoseok released a breath he did not know he was holding. “I’ll see you in the morning, Hoseok.”
It was not until Jaebum had left and Hoseok had taken off the jacket to hang up in his closet that Hoseok remembered the jacket wasn’t even his to begin with. He would just have to remember to take it to the shop in the morning and return it, even if there was a part of him that didn’t want to give it back. Which was something that Hoseok did not want to focus too much on since it was such a strange thought. Instead, he just focused on getting into the shower and changing so that he could get some sleep before going into work in the morning.
When Hoseok headed out for the bakery the next morning, it was still mostly dark outside. The horizon showed faint dark oranges with the beginning signs of sunrise. The air was still that morning, with a slight chill to it that seemed to make the leaves hang heavy on the trees as Hoseok walked along the sidewalk toward the bakery. The walk was not long, but it made Hoseok wish that he had thought to grab gloves on his way out the door. He had a scarf wrapped loosely around his neck and wore a military style green jacket on over his sweater and jeans that day. Jaebum’s jacket remained hanging up in his hall closest, forgotten about.
The lights were already on inside the bakery as Hoseok neared it, though the sign in the door still stated that the shop was closed. There was still a while before they had to open, but Hoseok knew that Youngjae was in the back already working on getting the first batches of morning favorites completed to put into the display case. Hoseok went in through the front door and called out a greeting to Youngjae as he unwound the scarf from his neck. He placed it and his jacket on the coat rack that was hanging on one of the walls next to Youngjae’s. Jinyoung’s was absent that morning. He must have had an early morning at the school, then.
Hoseok hummed absently under his breath as he started readying the different coffees the kept on hand for the day - their house coffee, a decaf version, and a flavor of the day. The one that Youngjae had chosen was already sitting out for him to start. It would go well with the treats that they were selling for the season. After a few minutes, Youngjae poked his head out of the back. “What song is that?” he questioned.
“Hmm? Oh… I don’t know,” Hoseok answered as he pulled out new packages of their to go coffee cups to fill the storage spots. “I think it played at the house last night when we were there? It’s been stuck in my head since.”
“Ah. Right, okay. Then it’s one of Jaebum’s songs. He put the playlist together.” Youngjae nodded and then ducked back into the kitchen. Hoseok followed after him to help finish up while the coffee brewed and they got closer to the time of opening, not that anyone would likely show up for at least a half hour after opening. In their sleepy, East coast town nobody ever really rushed about anywhere. It was such a different pace than what Hoseok was used to back home, but he found that he loved it the longer he loved there. “Get the sign for me, will ya?” Youngjae asked Hoseok as he carried a tray of muffins out to the display case, and Hoseok nodded in answer.
He brushed some flour off of his hands and made his way out to the front room, over to the front door to turn the sign in it. He then went back to the counter to help Youngjae place everything so that his friend could return to the back and put in the second batch that would likely be needed after the morning rush. Hoseok got the register ready, placing some extra napkins next to the register. The door opened then, and Hoseok looked up to see Jaebum walking into the shop. His hair was a bit ruffled from sleep, or at least what little bit he could see poking out from underneath the beanie that Jaebum was wearing, and he had on another sweater (that time a deep green color - it was unfair but Hoseok was sure he would look good in any color) with a leather jacket that was almost too big. It almost made Hoseok wish he had spent a little more time on his own appearance instead of the sweater and jeans he wore that were both a little too worn in to be on purpose. He looked more rumpled than put together, and he regretted that, even when Jaebum gave him a small, tired smile as he approached the counter. “Good morning, Jaebum,” Hoseok greeted. “Did you sleep well?”
“Yeah,” answered Jaebum before clearing his throat, his voice still a little thick from sleep as if he had just woken up moments before coming into the shop.
Youngjae quickly came out of the back once he heard Jaebum’s voice and stared at him incredulously for a few seconds before saying, “I didn’t realize that you could be awake at this time. You realize it’s not even seven yet, right?” Jaebum sighed and Youngjae chuckled. “I guess Mark sent you for the first round of coffee before you guys open back up, then?”
“Uh, yeah, sure.” Jaebum nodded a little and Hoseok smiled, ducking his head a little as he realized there was a faint blush to his face.
Neither one of them seemed to notice as Youngjae glanced between the two of them, a look of realization coming across his face then. “Oh. Right. Well, I’ll leave you to it, then.” He gave a quick mock salute and then went into the back, where they both knew he was likely texting Jinyoung to tell him about Jaebum being there so early. It was something that had not ever happened before, not that Hoseok was entirely aware of this fact yet. The two of them chatted for several minutes before Jaebum had to leave, taking with him the coffee that he insisted was really good and a chocolate chip muffin. Jaebum smiled as he pushed his way out of the door with his back against it, while Hoseok waved and said he would see him later. Hoseok greeted the customer that came in as Jaebum held open the door - and then Jaebum continued down the street to the shop that he and Mark owned down the street. As he passed a trash bin, Jaebum dropped the nearly full coffee cup into it and continued on his way.
After that, it became a routine; Jaebum would show up every morning that the shop was open for coffee and something for breakfast while chatting with Hoseok, he would leave to help Mark open the shop, and he would ditch the coffee along the way - the last point being something that Hoseok remained unaware of. The days grew shorter and the air grew colder, the town put out more and more fall themed decorations as they grew even closer to Halloween. Hoseok settled into his new life with his new friends (even meeting some of his friends’ friends like Yoongi and his boyfriend Taehyung, Jin and his boyfriend Jungkook, and Jimin who Hoseok clicked with super quickly and the two of them became the best of friends); and thinking about his past, the friends he left behind, no longer hurt as much as it used to.
It was on the day that he had come to that realization that he and Jaebum were walking side-by-side back to Hoseok’s apartment when Jaebum asked, “Do you want to see a movie with me Friday?”
It was not something new, seeing a movie with Jaebum that was. However the implication that it was more than just a movie was heavy in the air and it did not make Hoseok hesitant like he thought it might. He smiled, glancing down to his feet as he tugged his - Jaebum’s - jacket tighter around himself against the cool breeze off the nearby ocean. “I would like that,” he agreed, nodding his head with another shy smile that he directed toward Jaebum next to him. They reached his apartment sooner than he would have liked and Hoseok pressed a kiss to Jaebum’s cheek once they got there. “I’ll see you in the morning? Unless, I mean… Do you want to come in for coffee?”
“I could… have some coffee, yeah.” Jaebum nodded a little and he smiled almost shyly as Hoseok linked their fingers together before leading him into the duplex. Jaebum followed as Hoseok led the way to the kitchen, flipping on some lights as he went. He only let go of Jaebum’s hand once he reached the counter so that he could start to get some coffee ready for them. Jaebum stood silently, watching him for a few moments, seemingly debating on something before making up his mind.
He took a few steps closer to Hoseok and slowly, carefully placed a hand on Hoseok’s side. He waited for any sign that Hoseok did not want to be touched and when he found none, he placed his other hand on the opposite side and stepped in closer to rest his chin on Hoseok’s shoulder. “I have a secret,” he mumbled as he watched Hoseok pull out two cups for the coffee, smiling to himself as he felt Hoseok relax back against him.
It maybe was too fast or not fast enough, Hoseok could not decide which; but, something about having Jaebum right there felt like it was exactly where he was supposed to be. His heart was racing slightly and he was sure if he didn’t force himself to steady that his hands would shake as he grabbed the sugar. It felt like the most natural progression, one they didn’t really need to talk about or name - they had been dancing around one another for weeks, almost dating but not quite at the same time. But Friday… “What’s your secret?” As he asked, Hoseok turned around to face Jaebum, who straightened up enough to let him without removing his hands from Hoseok’s sides.
Jaebum shook his head a little, squeezing Hoseok’s sides and smirking when it made Hoseok squirm slightly. “I don’t like coffee.” Jaebum shook his head when Hoseok quietly repeated the statement, his tone voicing it as a question. “I don’t like coffee.”
“Not even mine?” Hoseok was teasing with the question, they both knew it from the faint smirk he had tugging on the corner of his lips.
Jaebum shook his head slightly again. “It’s awful. Tastes like eating dirt. Sorry.” Hoseok was the one to shake his head that time, leaning in enough to press his lips against Jaebum’s with a soft sigh through his nose. Hoseok swore as they kissed a slight breeze came through the apartment, though he knew it had to be his imagination. There were no windows open. (It was something that Hoseok would question later and Jaebum would just grin in response as he reminded Hoseok that he was a witch, to which Hoseok would laugh and just kiss him again). For that moment, though, Hoseok simply focused on the way that their lips slotted together in a way that nearly caused his breath to catch in his chest. It had been a long time since he had found himself actually caught up in something as simple as a kiss.
When he and Darren first started dating, there were constant kisses; small ones, long ones, chaste ones, deep ones, forehead kisses, brushes of lips against is cheek. Over the years of their relationship, such things became less and less commonplace to the point that they only ever kissed when they were going to have sex. Nothing about the kiss with Jaebum felt like it was a lead up to that - not yet, not that day but hopefully soon if the way that Jaebum’s fingers curling to press against his hips more and the way that Hoseok tilted his head just so to deepen the kiss ever so slightly was any indication. It was just a kiss - a simple, breathtaking, kiss that signaled the start of everything changing - but Hoseok felt like it was more of a promise of happiness, of a future there in that sleepy little town that he never expected to have.
Chapter 2: and the water
Every day gets closer to Halloween, and every day, Hoseok starts to like Jaebum just a little more.
Let's gooooo. Chapter 2. I hope you guys are enjoying this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
There were thick, dark clouds in the sky outside the bakery, and the wind outside could be seen making a mess of the town with leaves and debris. Hoseok frowned slightly as he took a slow drink of the caramel macchiato that Youngjae had made for him. Youngjae was sitting on an empty space on the counter, texting Jinyoung, who was on his lunch break at the school. The shop was filled with the scent of cinnamon and pumpkin and coffee - stronger than the other scents in the air from the other baked goods they offered. Most things were fall themed as they grew closer to Halloween. A favorite was a pumpkin spice cupcake with a spiced cream cheese frosting that was decorated to look like a ghost. Then there were the Harry Potter themed treats that they always sold out of quickly when school was let out for the day.
Youngjae glanced over at Hoseok and lowered his phone to his lap with a slight tilt to his head. “Are you okay, Hobi?” he questioned, using the nickname that Hoseok had gained somewhere along the line since moving to town. He did not know where it had started but he liked it.
Hoseok nodded slightly. “Yeah. I just… I’m not a fan of the rain,” he answered before smiling reassuringly at Youngjae. “How’s Jinyoung?”
“Ready for fall break. It’s just a four day weekend, but we’re going to go to Vermont. His parents have a cabin up there.” Youngjae’s earlier worries about Hoseok seemed to disappear as he focused on the upcoming trip, perking up and smiling as he idly swung his legs. “It’s beautiful with the leaves changing and everything. I’ll take a bunch of pictures.” Youngjae then seemed to realize something and he turned to look at Hoseok more fully. “Mark and Yugyeom are going to help you run the shop while I’m gone. Mark on Saturday, and Yugyeom Friday and Monday.”
“Sounds good, Jae,” replied Hoseok with a nod, reaching over to squeeze Youngjae’s shoulder. “Don’t have too much fun without us up there.”
“I’ll give you more details than you care to have.” Youngjae winked at Hoseok, and their attention was then turned to the door when it opened. Youngjae chuckled when he realized it was Jaebum, while it was Hoseok’s turn to perk up some. Youngjae hopped down off the counter and brushed off the back of his jeans before he focused on starting to clean up the seating area of the shop to give the two of them a little space.
Jaebum walked over to where Hoseok stood in front of the counter, saying, “Hi” before leaning in to kiss Hoseok - though it was really more like they were smiling against one another’s mouths. Hoseok carefully held on to his cup of coffee between them so that he didn’t accidentally spill any on either of them.
“Hi,” Hoseok replied when the kiss ended and he closed his eyes for a few seconds with a soft laugh when Jaebum pressed a kiss to his forehead before stepping away slightly. “Lunch break?”
“Yeah.” Jaebum nodded, rocking back onto his heels slightly before glancing over to Youngjae. “Do you mind if…?”
Youngjae didn’t bother to let Jaebum finish the question. He waved a hand slightly as he said, “Get out of here.” Hoseok smiled in thanks as he set aside the cup of coffee in his hands before going over to grab his - Jaebum’s - jacket off the rack on the wall. Jaebum helped Hoseok put the jacket on and they both purposely ignored Youngjae complaining about the two of them being disgusting. “I regret ever letting you two meet!” he called after them, the door shutting behind them muffling that couple of words of Youngjae’s statement. It was okay, though. They knew he wasn’t serious.
The two of them went to the diner down the street, taking a seat in the corner booth right next to one another. Jaebum’s arm was draped over Hoseok’s shoulders as they sat there talking until their food was brought to the table. Hoseok was not unaware of the way that people kept looking over at them, some curiously and others with obvious hesitation. Hoseok wanted to ask but found that sitting there with Jaebum, talking softly amongst themselves, he could not really bring himself to mind so much. At least for a while, though he grew steadily more uncomfortable with the glances in their direction the longer they sat there. “Everyone keeps staring at us,” Hoseok mumbled, turning his head toward Jaebum slightly so that his lips ended up brushing against Jaebum’s jawline - if Hoseok noticed the involuntary shudder that made its way down Jaebum’s back, then he did not say anything.
“It’s because you’re so beautiful,” replied Jaebum, chuckling when Hoseok hit his shoulder in response. He hugged Hoseok a little closer to his side, pressing a lingering kiss to his forehead before pulling away enough to smile at Hoseok. “We can go if you want.”
“We should get back to work, anyway.”
Jaebum nodded as he pulled his arm out from around Hoseok’s shoulders to pull out his wallet, ignoring any protests from Hoseok in order to place down enough money to cover both their meals plus a tip. The two of them got out of the booth they were sharing, Hoseok waved slightly at the waitress behind the counter that said good-bye to them before he took a hold of Jaebum’s hand as they headed toward the door. “Do they always stare like that when you’re in there?” Hoseok questioned as they slowly walked along the sidewalk back toward the bakery.
“Sometimes, especially closer to Halloween,” answered Jaebum with a nod of his head. “It’s like they’re expecting me to suddenly turn them all into pumpkins or something.”
Hoseok laughed with a shake of his head before stopping when he saw the bemused expression on Jaebum’s face. “Wait, you’re serious?” Jaebum nodded slowly, stopping walking in order to pull Hoseok close to him, the two of them standing face to face. “They seriously think you’re a witch?”
“I am.” Jaebum’s voice was kind and soft, but without a trace of laughter or any sign that he might be joking. He smiled slightly at the different expressions that crossed Hoseok’s features, ranging from confusion to disbelief. Not that Jaebum could blame him at all. If he did not know better, he would have thought it was all a joke, too. “Do you want me to prove it to you?” Hoseok nodded slowly and Jaebum nodded a little in turn. “Come over tonight.”
“If you wanted to take me home, all you had to do was ask.” They both laughed softly at the joke, and Hoseok smiled as Jaebum stepped forward, closer to him, and slid both arms around his waist, pressing yet another kiss to his forehead. It almost made Hoseok want to blush; he was not used to the random small signs of affection, not anymore. He could not say he hated it, though.
“Oi, love birds!” Youngjae shouted from somewhere behind Hoseok, making him turn slightly in Jaebum’s arms to see him leaning out the front door of the shop a couple shops down the way. “Hurry up and get back to work!”
Both of them laughed softly as Hoseok turned to face Jaebum again. “I'll see you after work?” he said, smiling when Jaebum missed in answer. Jaebum kissed him softly, lingering long enough to almost make Hoseok want to just pull him closer, but then he was stepping away with a smile - one that caused his eyes to crinkle any the corners and, wow, Hoseok really wished he had a camera. But he settled for just gently squeezing Jaebum’s hand before hurrying along to the bakery where Youngjae was still waiting with his head poking out of the door. Jaebum continued on past the bakery to the shop he owned and operated with Mark.
The end of the day did not come soon enough for Hoseok; but, eventually he and Youngjae made their way out of the shop, promising to talk later before Youngjae headed toward the school to go gather Jinyoung. Hoseok smiled to himself before he glanced up at the still-dark sky. It made him frown a little but then he continued down the street to Mark and Jaebum's shop. By the time he was pushing in through the front door, he was smiling again and his focus was immediately drawn to Jaebum who was restocking one of the shelves to replace what items had been sold that day. Mark was pulling the till out of the cash register, talking about how he was taking Yugyeom to some fancy restaurant in the city about an hour’s drive away and wouldn’t be back until late. “Hiya, Hobi!” Mark called when he noticed that it wasn’t just the two of them anymore. Jaebum smiled softly at him but kept stocking the shelves. “I’d love to stay and chat, but I’ve gotta go count this so I can get Gyeom.”
“That’s fine,” replied Hoseok with a slight shake of his head as he put his hands into the pockets of his jacket. “Have fun tonight.”
“Oh, I will.” Mark winked and gave a rather lewd smirk as he disappeared into the back room.
With another shake of his head, Hoseok turned his attention to Jaebum as he continued stocking the shelves. He looked incredibly handsome in the simple white button up shirt and black slacks that both he and Mark wore when on the job. Jaebum glanced over at Hoseok and smirked slightly before he focused once again on stocking the shelves. “Something I can help you with?” he questioned, obviously teasing Hoseok with the question.
Hoseok’s face flushed slightly, high on his cheeks, but he shook his head. “Do you want some help?” he asked before he walked over to Jaebum’s side when he agreed.
The two of them stayed there until well after Mark had left, stocking the shelves and just talking until Jaebum decided that they should go before they ended up staying all night. There was a slight mist falling as they walked away from the shop once Jaebum had locked up; and, Jaebum took a hold of Hoseok’s hand to quickly lead him toward the house. They almost made it, were only a couple of houses down, when the sky opened up and it started to pour on them. Hoseok let out an almost wounded sound; but, he squeezed Jaebum’s hand and started running when Jaebum did. By the time they made it to the porch, they were both laughing and Jaebum pulled Hoseok in close to him. He used his free hand to brush Hoseok’s hair back off his forehead. Hoseok was not a fan of the rain, but standing there with Jaebum he found that he didn’t quite hate it so much. “Are you going to kiss me or just keep staring at me?” Hoseok questioned, almost giggling when Jaebum looked rather sheepish at having it pointed out how he had been focused on Hoseok’s face, on the slope of his nose and the dimples in his cheeks when he smiled and…
Hoseok sighed through his nose when Jaebum leaned in to kiss him. If every rainfall ended up with Jaebum kissing him, with Jaebum’s arms wrapping around his waist before pressing him back against the wall near the front door, then Hoseok really did not think he would continue to dislike rainy days so much. Hoseok lost track of where they were, of what they were doing until somehow they ended upstairs in Jaebum’s room, jackets and shoes discarded somewhere along the way and the door shut firmly behind them. Some soft lights turned on across the room on the dresser near Jaebum’s bed and candles on another table in the corner flickered to life to brighten the dim room as they stood near the door, Hoseok’s fingers slowly working the buttons along the front of Jaebum’s shirt open as Jaebum’s lips and tongue and teeth made marks that would linger and darken along the side of Hoseok’s neck. Hoseok moaned lowly when Jaebum’s lips brushed over a particularly sensitive spot, pressing himself more firmly against him while nearly tearing off the last button in his attempt to get Jaebum’s shirt unfastened.
Jaebum chuckled and Hoseok huffed, pinching Jaebum’s side slightly only to let out a small squeak of surprise that mixed with a broken moan when Jaebum’s hands slid from his hips to his ass, squeezing him and pulling him closer at the same time. Hoseok pushed at Jaebum’s shoulder, almost attempting to shove him away, only to simply grab onto it when Jaebum lifted his head and brought their lips together again. Hoseok pushed Jaebum’s shirt off his shoulders before grabbing the hem of his own t-shirt to tug up and over his head, parting from the kiss in order to do so with some reluctance. He’d barely dropped it aside before Jaebum started leading him over toward the bed on the opposite side of the room. Jaebum’s hands were on his hips and Hoseok nearly stumbled a couple of times as he walked backward, but they both laughed as Hoseok hooked his index finger in Jaebum’s belt loop and drew him in even closer, kissing him once again. It had been a long time since Hoseok had been with someone that he felt like actually wanted to be with him , that did not make him feel like he could be any willing person in the bed and it would be just as good. Jaebum made sure that Hoseok knew how much he cared as they touched and kissed.
Hoseok had his hands covering his face as he moaned behind them when Jaebum had finally managed to get three fingers into him. Jaebum was between his legs, pressing open mouthed kisses with gentle nips and swipes of his tongue along the inside of his thigh while using his fingers to carefully work him open. Hoseok was practically shaking as he struggled to keep his breathing even. Rain continued to pelt the windows of the room but Hoseok did not even notice as he placed a hand on the back of Jaebum’s neck and directed him upward in order to kiss him again. Jaebum smiled into the kiss with a slight laugh when Hoseok let out a broken whine as he moved his fingers just right. “Please,” Hoseok’s word was more air than voice as he nodded his head slightly, nose bumping against Jaebum’s in a way that had them both chuckling. “I’m good. Really, please just…” He broke off with a whine when Jaebum purposely moved his fingers in a way to tease him even more, but then Jaebum was moving his hand away and Hoseok almost wanted to whine for another reason entirely. Instead, he grabbed the condom that had been grabbed to open it and help ease it on to Jaebum, leaning up to press a kiss to his cheek while doing so.
Jaebum turned his head to capture Hoseok’s lips with his own when he finally pressed in, muffling the moans that came from each of them. One of Hoseok’s hands gripped onto Jaebum’s shoulder tight enough that he was sure there would be marks left the next day, while Jaebum held himself off of Hoseok with one arm and the other hand wrapped around one of Hoseok’s thighs. Jaebum broke the kiss with a gasp, ducking his head to press his face against the side of Hoseok’s neck with mumbled words of praise that made Hoseok’s skin flush for an entirely different reason than it was already. They moved together at a steady pace, touching and kissing wherever they could. Hoseok let out a particularly beautiful moan as Jaebum shifted his grip on his thigh and held it a little higher, changing the angle of their movements slightly. When Hoseok found release, it was with one of Jaebum’s hands wrapped around him and the word “baby” tumbling off his lips so sweetly as he urged Hoseok on while Hoseok gasped and moaned sounding like the most amazing thing in the world, and Jaebum following soon after.
Hoseok laughed softly as Jaebum settled back down on the bed next to him, once he’d thrown away the used condom and gotten a washcloth to clean them both off with which he dropped aside next to the bed once they were. “What?” Jaebum questioned, smiling softly as he propped his head up on his hand, his other hand resting on Hoseok’s stomach, thumb brushing over the warm skin there absentmindedly.
Hoseok shook his head, wetting his lips before smiling up at Jaebum. “Nothing. Just… I’m happy,” Hoseok smiled again with a slight nod of his head. He then giggled out a laugh as Jaebum leaned in to kiss him, resting a hand on the back of his neck to keep him held close. Jaebum smiled into the kiss and Hoseok found that there really was nowhere else he’d rather be than right there with Jaebum even as the rain continued to pour outside, making the room appear darker than it actually was and cold air seeped in through the spots in the windows that did not quite seal fully due to the age of the house.
The two of them lay there together, sharing soft kisses and talking until they decided to get up and go to the kitchen to make some dinner. Jaebum put on some boxers and a pair of sleep pants, while Hoseok chose a pair of Jaebum’s boxers and a t-shirt that was closer to a dress from where it hit his thighs. It was incredibly distracting and Jaebum ended up spending more time kissing Hoseok and touching his exposed legs while having him sit on top of the counter. Dinner ended up being burnt, and they called in for pizza instead, but Hoseok found it was still one of the best nights he’d ever had, especially when the night ended with him falling asleep in Jaebum’s bed with the two of them wrapped around one another.
The following morning, Hoseok was rather reluctant to get out of the bed when his phone started to play the alarm in the pocket of his jeans across the room, but he got up and pulled out his phone to turn off the alarm. “Do you have to go?” Jaebum mumbled as he resettled on the bed, crossing his arms underneath the pillow that was under his head. It was still dark outside but there were still some candles lit around the room - they had not lowered in size at all, but that was not something Hoseok would notice until later in the day when he thought back about it.
“Yeah, sorry,” replied Hoseok with a saddened smile as he stepped into his jeans so that he could pull them on. “Youngjae needs help this morning.” Hoseok buttoned his jeans into place as Jaebum mumbled that he could borrow a shirt and that there was an extra toothbrush in the bathroom. Hoseok wanted to ask if that meant that Jaebum had anticipated him staying over, but he would ask later. He was already going to be late as it was. Hoseok went over to the bed, ducking down enough to press a kiss to the corner of Jaebum’s lips. “I’ll see you later.” He then ran his fingers through Jaebum’s hair, smiling softly when he saw the way that Jaebum’s lips twitched up into a smile before he hid his face in the pillow. Hoseok then got up and went to Jaebum’s dresser to pick out a shirt to change into, choosing a basic t-shirt before he went to the bathroom to finish getting ready.
Afterward, Hoseok rushed out of the house, grabbing his jacket off the coat rack as he passed it to pull on as he walked, missing the way that he hadn’t actually grabbed the front door handle but it still managed to close behind him as he stepped off the porch and onto the sidewalk. He swore under his breath as he shot out a quick text in Youngjae’s direction, apologizing and telling him that he was going to be a little late. It was cold that morning and Hoseok crossed his arms over his chest after he sent the text to combat the chill, wishing that he’d thought to wear a sweater or long sleeves instead. When Hoseok walked into the bakery, Youngjae came out of the back room only to let out a series of catcalls and whistles when he took in Hoseok’s appearance. Hoseok’s face got incredibly red and he groaned as he he hid his face in his hands. “Finally stayed the night, did you?” he questioned, grinning when Hoseok peeked out at him. “Proud of you. Not even mad you’re late now. Have some coffee then come help me. So how was it?”
“Oh my god,” groaned Hoseok, though he walked over to grab the cup of coffee that Youngjae had waiting for him on the counter. “I’m not talking about this with you.”
“Uh-huh, sure. Nice hickies.” Youngjae cackled as Hoseok’s eyes widened and he quickly put up one of his hands to cover the side of his neck he knew that Jaebum had been paying particularly close attention to.
After that, Hoseok started staying over at Jaebum and Mark’s house more and more regularly. Sometimes everyone would even wake up early enough for them to have breakfast before Hoseok headed into the bakery. Breakfast was always a noisy affair, between the cats that liked to walk around the dining room table, the flour fights Mark would get into with Yugyeom, and just the general haze of having only waken up, things were never quite quiet. Hoseok loved it, even if both Mark and Yugyeom teased him and Jaebum most mornings about how cute they were or making note of how thin the walls were. There was a moment of absolute silence once moment when Mark was complaining about it after Hoseok had simply shrugged and lifted up his cup of coffee to his lips as he leaned against the island with his elbows resting on top of it, speaking before taking a drink of the coffee. “But I thought you were a witch, shouldn’t you be able to fix that?”
It lasted only a few seconds before Mark was nearly doubled over with laughter, draping his arm over Hoseok’s shoulders to hug him close to his side while looking over to Jaebum as he said, “I like this one, Jae. You better keep him.”
“I planned on it,” Jaebum replied with a soft smile before taking a drink of his tea while Hoseok simply smiled shyly at the top of his coffee cup. Hoseok really could get used to mornings like that one.
It was still dark outside, only a few days before Halloween, when Jaebum carefully shifted out of the bed. He reluctantly let go of Hoseok, who was still soundly asleep. Jaebum stilled when Hoseok shifted and almost whined, but then Hoseok settled back down in the bed and Jaebum sighed softly. He pressed a kiss to Hoseok’s cheek and brushed his hair back out of his face, just watching him sleep for a few seconds before he grabbed Hoseok’s phone and turned off the alarm that he had set in it to automatically play each weekday. Jaebum then grabbed the note he’d written the day prior and hid in the bedside drawers, and he placed it on the opposite side of the bed on the pillow Hoseok wasn’t using. Then he grabbed a change of clothes, and went to the bathroom to get ready. Once he was changed, he stopped by the bedroom to make sure Hoseok was still asleep - lingering at the doorway for several long minutes. He almost wanted to just climb back into bed next to his boyfriend and go back to sleep; but, that would defeat the whole purpose of the day in the first place. Jaebum then left the room, quietly closing the door behind him.
When, Hoseok woke up a couple of hours later, there was a soft glow to the room and it was a lot colder than Hoseok was used to it being whenever he usually woke up; Jaebum’s arms were not around him as he had gotten used to since he stayed there more nights than he went home. Hoseok, still half asleep, did not quite register that was why it felt so cold as he groggily leaned up onto his forearms, glancing around a little. “Babe?” he questioned, voice thick with sleep. He cleared his throat slightly and looked at the other side of the bed where he noticed the piece of paper on Jaebum’s pillow. Hoseok’s brow furrowed slightly and he grabbed it as he lay back down fully, blinking several times as he tried to focus on the words in front of his face.
A slow smile formed on his lips as he registered what the letter was saying. It was telling him to enjoy a day off, that Jaebum had turned off his alarm and would be sitting in at the shop with Youngjae. Hoseok hadn’t had an actual day off since he started working at the bakery, not counting Sundays, which was a day the shop was closed. Hoseok sat the letter aside and he ran his fingers through his hair a few times. Then he got up in order to shower and change - opting to wear one of his own pairs of jeans that had worked their way into Jaebum’s clothing, and a sweater that belonged to Jaebum. It was deep red in color and it wasn’t until Hoseok was on the front porch, stopping to run his fingers over the head of the owl perched on the porch with with a soft smile on his face at the way Artemis the owl reacted to his gentle touch and a mumbled “Good morning, Artemis,” that Hoseok realized the sweater was the same one that Jaebum had worn the night that he and Hoseok had officially met. It made Hoseok smile as he stepped off the porch and made his way down the sidewalk.
It was a nice day, not too cool with a slight breeze. Hoseok might regret not grabbing a jacket later, but for right then, it was perfect. Hoseok smiled with a soft laugh as he noticed one of the neighborhood cats dart by playing with some of the leaves floating around in the wind. Hoseok thought her name was Cleo. She always seemed to be rather fond of Mark when they all hung around outside. The walk to the bakery did not take very long, and Hoseok smiled softly as he saw Jaebum inside through the window. He was chatting with one of the regular morning customers as he readied her order - a latte with a plain bagel and a thing of cream cheese. Youngjae could be seen on the other side of the shop on the phone jotting something down on a piece of paper. He was likely taking a bulk order for a birthday or Halloween party.
When Hoseok went inside and Jaebum saw him, the smile on his face became a little more honest and a little less forced customer service friendly - though Hoseok did not miss the look in his eye when he realized what Hoseok was wearing, that same glint he got in his eye each time Hoseok borrowed something from his closet. Hoseok made his way behind the counter as the customer left, immediately reaching forward to tug on one of the straps of the apron that Jaebum wore over his clothes with the shop’s logo on the front. “You didn’t have to do this,” Hoseok said, almost pouting even as Jaebum leaned in to brush a kiss to his cheek, just missing Hoseok’s lips.
“Did you sleep well, baby?” asked Jaebum instead of telling Hoseok that he wanted to or that it was fine. Hoseok nodded and slipped his arms around Jaebum’s waist to hug him close. Jaebum’s arms wrapped around his shoulders and he pressed a kiss to Hoseok’s temple. The shop had been overly busy lately with orders pouring in for holiday parties and classroom games and birthdays. Youngjae and Hoseok had seriously considered trying to find someone else to help out in the little shop that the two of them could typically run by themselves. After seeing the way that Hoseok had gotten to the house the night before and nearly collapsed into the bed, Jaebum had wanted to give Hoseok a chance to rest some more, so he took the opportunity to help out Youngjae and let Hoseok sleep in.
Hoseok mumbled something against the top of Jaebum’s shoulder, it almost sounded like another ‘thank you’ but Jaebum didn’t get a chance to ask Hoseok to repeat it before the front door opened and they both turned to greet the new customer, though Hoseok’s greeting died out on his tongue when he realized who was standing there - looking oddly out of place with his tanned skin, shorts, and flip flops as if it wasn’t almost winter outside. “Darren?” he asked, probably looking as surprised and confused as he sounded.
Chapter 3: finally found me
Dealing with ex-boyfriends, and Halloween is fast approaching.
Thank you everyone so much who has read this. I love you all. Please enjoy the last chapter of this story.
The air in the shop seemed to still and thicken. Hoseok’s arms fell from around Jaebum’s middle while the two of them and Youngjae watched the newest entrant into the shop; Darren looked a little lost and completely out of place. He scowled as he looked between Hoseok and Jaebum, twirling his keys around his index finger as he was often known to do - whether he realized or not that it was showing off the fact that he had a keyring for the very expensive car he had that would be sticking out like a sore thumb in town. Everyone that lived there had older vehicles, often trucks, that were slightly rusted from the salt in the air. Hoseok knew that Darren owned nothing but bright and shiny cars, always trading in for a newer, better version each year. “This is where you ran off to?” Darren questioned, his brow furrowing as he surveyed the shop, struggling to keep his expression neutral though Hoseok knew him well enough to know the fact that he was critiquing every little thing. “This shop is… quaint.”
“Don’t do that,” Hoseok insisted with a sigh, hearing the insult that was laced into the seeming attempt at a compliment. “It’s not Starbucks, but that’s why I like it. We make everything here, and it’s unique to this shop.”
“We?” Darren scoffed out a laugh and Hoseok frowned, leaning into Jaebum’s side when he felt Jaebum place a hand on his lower back. Hoseok did not know if Jaebum was sensing his discomfort or what, but he very much appreciated it.
Hoseok sighed a little and nodded, running a hand through his hair. “Yes, ‘we’. I work here, too.”
“Why?” The confusion on Darren’s face nearly made Hoseok want to run and hide elsewhere. He hated it. He hated how judgemental of everything Darren was, especially since he knew that often times, that judgement had been pinned on him, especially toward the end of their relationship. “Look, can we go talk?”
“I don’t have anything to say to you.” Hoseok said with a shake of his head. “I’ve already said everything I have to say.”
Darren sighed and almost rolled his eyes, taking a step closer to them. Hoseok felt Jaebum’s hand slip from his back to his hip, squeezing gently and drawing Hoseok in closer to his side. Darren eyed the two of them with obvious distaste. “He said he didn’t want to talk,” Jaebum stated. “I think you should go.”
“Uh, yeah, sure whatever. I wasn’t talking to you. Hoseok-” everyone in the room cringed at Darren’s painful mispronunciation of Hoseok’s name. It was not even a difficult name; but he had never quite got it right. It never used to bother Hoseok, he had been used to everyone saying his name wrong. Since being surrounded by the others that Hoseok had never once had to correct on pronunciation, it bothered him more than he thought he could rightly express. “Uh, just… I’m staying at the hotel. We’ll talk later.”
Hoseok felt Jaebum tense slightly, and he wrapped an arm around Jaebum’s waist in turn, pressing himself into Jaebum’s side even more. “No, we won’t,” Hoseok insisted with a shake of his head. “I don’t know why you’re here or what you hope to accomplish. You broke up with me.”
“Well, I made a mistake, didn’t I?” Darren rolled his eyes, making his previous statement seem rather pointless. “Who’s this?” He nodded toward Jaebum, acting as though he had not seen him standing there the entire time.
“Are you serious?” Darren laughed in disbelief at that. “Whatever. Just… like, come home. Everyone misses you. I miss you. I was at your parents’ the other day, and they said you haven’t come home once since you ran off in the middle of the night.”
“I’m sorry? Why are you acting as though me being here is some slight to you?” Hoseok let go of Jaebum then, moving out from behind the counter while crossing his arms. “You broke up with me. You decided to throw away years of a relationship because you wanted to go fuck around without consequence.”
“Well, yeah, but, like… you weren’t supposed to leave.” Darren’s expression was one of confusion, as if somehow that was information that Hoseok was supposed to have.
“So, what? I was just supposed to wait around for you to decide you wanted me again?” Hoseok idly tapped his thumb against his bicep as he stood there.
“Uh, I mean, yeah?” Hoseok pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed heavily as Darren took another step closer to him. “I thought you knew that, but then, you were just kinda gone. Kept expecting you’ta show back up, but you didn’t. S’been months now and it’s not funny anymore. Don’t know why you’re here of all places. Come back home. Everyone’s waiting for ya to get your head out your ass and come back.”
“Excuse me?” Hoseok’s arms dropped to his side and he stepped closer to Darren only to shove at his shoulders, making him stumble backward and swear as he did so. “Get out. Get the fuck out of here. Go back to Florida, Darren. I don’t want you here any more than you want to be here.”
“Go. Just- Darren, I’m never going back to Florida. I have a home here, I’m happy here; happier than I think I ever was there. I have a job that I enj-”
“You don’t fucking need a job.” Darren scoffed as he interrupted. “Jesus, you could buy out thi-”
“I love my job. I love doing something with my life besides fuck all that we did back there. So, no I don’t need to work, I choose to. My boss is my best friend and I want to be there for him.” Hoseok gestured over to Youngjae as he spoke, and Youngjae perked up slightly at that, smiling fondly at Hoseok and looking as though he was two seconds from vaulting over the counter to tackle him into a hug. Jaebum was impressed with his self restraint. “I have amazing friends, who… are a bit strange, but amazing nonetheless. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. They’re friends with me because they like me and not my bank account.”
Darren scoffed as he mumbled something that sounded like disbelief. “Darren, none of them even knew I didn’t have to have a job until you came in here, running your awful mouth again,” Hoseok informed him, rolling his eyes as Darren just looked doubtful at the words. “I’m not leaving. This is my home now, and you’re not staying. I don’t want you to stay.”
“I’m sure you’ll change your mind.” Darren shrugged his shoulders with a slow smirk, the one that Hoseok knew he always got when he was sure that things were going to end up going his way. “I’m staying at the inn. Come see me later.” Before Hoseok could confirm or deny (which, of course, he was going to deny that he would go) Darren turned and left the shop, not bothering to actually close the door behind him so that it swung back and forth slightly in the breeze from outside two times. Then, it suddenly swung shut - against the wind - with a snap.
Youngjae glanced over at Jaebum, who was frowning as he watched where Darren disappeared from view outside. Before Youngjae could say anything, Hoseok was turning to look at Jaebum, apologizing several times over. “What are you apologizing to me for?” he questioned, uncrossing his arms. “Unless you want to…” Jaebum’s brow furrowed slightly as he gestured toward the door.
Hoseok shook his head as he walked back around the counter. He walked up to Jaebum and pulled him into a lingering kiss, missing the mumbled excuse Youngjae made as he disappeared into the back of the shop. “I like you, a lot,” Hoseok said when he broke the kiss, smiling when Jaebum’s arms wrapped around his waist again, hugging him close. “You’re my boyfriend and I want to keep it that way, I mean, s’long as you want me, too.”
“Look, I’m happy for you both, really,” Youngjae said as he poked his head back out of the back room. “But we are open right now, so maybe like… hurry it along?”
“Yeah, boss,” replied Jaebum, smirking when Youngjae rolled his eyes in response. He then turned his head to press a kiss to Hoseok’s forehead. “Go home.”
“What? No. I-” Hoseok started to disagree, shaking his head a little but Jaebum cut him off with gentle kiss.
“Go home, Hoseok. I came in today to take over your shift, so. Go. Please?”
Hoseok sighed a little but nodded as he fiddled with the strap of the apron that Jaebum was still wearing. “Okay. Okay. I’ll… Come over for dinner tonight? I mean, you come over to mine?” He adored Mark and Yugyeom, loved spending time with them; but, that evening he really sort of just wanted Jaebum to himself.
Hoseok did not leave until Jaebum agreed to come over for dinner that evening, kissing him once more before heading out. He ended up meeting Namjoon down the street at the bookstore that he ran, picking up a couple new things to read while spending time with Namjoon as they sat in the mismatched chairs by the front windows. Customers came in and out of the bookshop, but Namjoon’s assistant, his friend Taehyung, took care of those customers since it was a slow trickle of business that day. Toward the end of the morning, just before noon, Taehyung’s boyfriend, whose name Hoseok learned was Yoongi, came striding into the shop. Yoongi was shorter than Taehyung, his hair dyed a mint color that contrasted with the all black clothing, nail polish, and slight eyeliner that he wore. Yoongi looked like a stereotypical witch, and he even wore a pointed black hat, though Yoongi informed Hoseok that was because his boss insisted that everybody in the office wear one throughout October.
After Yoongi left from his short lunch break visit (but not without kissing Taehyung to keep him from pouting), Taehyung came over and grabbed another chair to sit in a circle with Hoseok and Namjoon. “So, I heard your ex came to town,” Taehyung stated with an amused smirk, chuckling when Hoseok’s brow furrowed in confusion. “It’s a small town, doesn’t take long for word to spread, and your boy’s flashy red car is hard to miss.”
“He’s not my boy,” countered Hoseok, scowling as he idly picked at the price sticker on one of his books. “He broke up with me before I moved here.”
“Seems like he wants you back.”
Hoseok shrugged. “I don’t want him back.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Taehyung!” Namjoon snapped at Taehyung, sending him a slight glare while Taehyung held his hands up in mock surrender. “Ignore him. He likes poking his nose in where it doesn’t belong.”
Hoseok frowned with a shake of his head. “S’fine.” He crossed his arms over the books in his lap. “I’m with Jaebum, now. I really, really like him. I don’t…” Hoseok laughed a little, resting his elbow on top of the books and then placing his chin in his hand. “I was with Darren for so long, and I lost who I was in that relationship. I don’t really- I don’t want that again. And Jaebum is…” Hoseok laughed softly, a small but fond smile forming on his face as he lifted his head.
“You’re really gone for him, aren’t you?” Taehyung questioned, his voice softer than it had been during his last question. It made Hoseok realize that Taehyung’s earlier, almost invasive question might have been made more out of wanting to make sure that Jaebum was protected than an attempt to be nosy.
Hoseok laughed a little and nodded his head as he reached up with his hand to scratch the back of his neck. “Yeah, yeah, I guess I am.”
Later that evening, when dinner was finished and Jaebum had helped put away the cleaned dishes, Hoseok stood out on the balcony with one of his throw blankets wrapped around him and a cup of hot chocolate in one of his hands that was slowly growing colder while Jaebum paced in the living room, attempting to calm down his friend Seokjin who was panicking about something on the phone with him. Hoseok smiled a little to himself as he heard Jaebum sigh since he had left the balcony door open. “I’m not going to come over and help you with that,” Jaebum insisted. “Use concealer. S’not my problem your boyfriend’s a vampire.” Jaebum sighed heavily again; Hoseok could practically see him lifting his head to the ceiling and rolling his eyes even without looking back at him. “Ask Mark, then. He might have a salve to help. Good luck and good night.”
Jaebum hung up his cellphone and placed it aside with a groan before he made his way over to the balcony. “Crisis averted?” Hoseok questioned, smiling even more when Jaebum came up and wrapped both arms around him with a nod of his head. Hoseok leaned back against Jaebum’s chest and rested his head against the side of his boyfriend’s. “What was it this time?”
“Jungkook left a hickey high on Jin’s neck and he’s having dinner with Kook’s parents tonight,” Jaebum explained with a slight chuckle. “He wanted me to come heal it. He’s no good at healing. Something else ends up breaking.”
Hoseok hummed a little. He did not really know Seokjin or Jungkook - he knew them more in passing since Seokjin was often in and out of the house, to borrow this book or that ingredient. He was a witch, too, and often brought someone named Jimin that he was playing mentor to. If the heart eyes Jimin gave Seokjin were anything to go by, however, there was something more there than just mentorship. Hoseok did not ask, though. He did not really know them and thought doing so would be rude. If he was going to figure it out, then it would happen when it happened and not because he was nosy. “Are you going to go?”
Jaebum shook his head before pressing a kiss behind Hoseok’s ear, smiling slightly against his skin when he heard the way that Hoseok’s breath hitched in response. “I’d rather stay here with you. If that’s okay.” Hoseok scoffed out a laugh in response, reaching up with one hand to knock the top of Jaebum’s shoulder with the back of his hand. He took that to mean something along the lines of of course it’s okay . Jabeum smiled as he stood there, ducking down enough to rest his chin on Hoseok’s shoulder. “Let’s go to bed.”
“It’s still too early for sleep,” complained Hoseok, though Jaebum could hear the teasing tone in his voice. He knew that Jaebum was not suggesting that they sleep. The small smirk on his face as he turned his head enough to look at Jaebum while Jaebum stood up straight. “Unless you have other plans?” Hoseok grinned at the expression that crossed Jaebum’s features - he looked as though he was trying to figure out whether to laugh or roll his eyes - only to squeak a second later when Jaebum tightened both arms around him in order to pick him up just enough that his feet didn’t touch the floor and carry him backward into the house. They were both all smiles and laughter as Hoseok shut the door and they headed back toward his bedroom.
A few days later, the bakery didn’t open, neither did the shop that Mark and Jaebum ran. The library was only open until noon. The office Yoongi worked at was closed. It was Halloween. Halloween was a rather big deal around the sleepy little town that Hoseok had stumbled upon when he had left the only home he had ever known. It dawned cool with a slight haze, a picture perfect example of what Halloween in the Northeast should be. Every home and business in town was decorated to the nines to celebrate - but none of them were as impressive as the decorations that donned the home that Mark and Jaebum shared that seemed to have suddenly appeared overnight.
There were purple lights coloring the front of the house, cobwebs and cauldrons. Artemis continued to hang out on the front porch while the cats seemed to be even more energetic, running around the yard and chasing leaves as they were blown about. There were folding chairs and tables leaned up against the side of the house to be put out later, but what was most impressive was the large, solid black tree that suddenly appeared in the backyard to the side of the house as it did every Halloween. Hoseok’s brow furrowed a little as he stood in the kitchen, taking a bite of his cereal as he watched the tree; but, he relaxed a few seconds later when Jaebum came up and pressed a kiss to his cheek. He only mildly complained when Jaebum stole his spoon to take a bite of the cereal. “Are you going to help Youngjae or me and Mark today?” Jaebum questioned with his mouth full of cereal. Or, well, that was what Hoseok was assuming he had been asked.
“Youngjae has Jinyoung, Yugyeom, and I think Taehyung coming in,” Hoseok answered as he took his spoon back. “I’ll help you guys.”
“Great,” Mark said from the bottom of the staircase that ended there at the back of the kitchen near the side door, making both Hoseok and Jaebum turn to look at him. He smiled charmingly at Hoseok. “It’s going to be a long day, but totally worth it.”
That was how, a few hours later, Hoseok found himself out in the yard, placing candles around the grass where Mark instructed with Jaebum. People were constantly in and out of the house all day. Jin, Youngjae, Yoongi, Jimin, Namjoon, Taehyung, even people that Hoseok did not know or people that he knew tended to eye the house (or its inhabitants) warily whenever they passed. Everyone had smiles and laughs on their faces and there was just a lingering feeling of warmth and happiness despite the residual chill in the air from the wind off of the ocean. It was nearing nightfall when Hoseok was helping Jackson set up the tables and chairs while Mark and Jaebum were inside the house checking on some things, that Darren came strolling up through the yard, almost tripping over one of the cats as he did. Hoseok crossed his arms and he sighed inaudibly. “Can I help you with something?” he asked.
“I went by your job,” replied Darren with a slight scoff. "The sign in the window said you would be here."
“Okay?” Jackson eyed him warily from where he was slowly unfolding one of the last of the chairs, but Hoseok waved him off, silently insisting that he was okay. “What do you want?”
“Can we go talk?”
Hoseok sighed. He crossed his arms over his chest and stood up a little straighter. “Why? Why now? Why did you suddenly come after me? It’s been months, months . You didn’t care enough about me then to ask me to stay, so why are you suddenly here now asking me to go back to someplace that made me miserable?”
“You weren’t mis-”
“I was .” Hoseok dropped his arms only to wring his hands in front of him. “I hated my life. There was… there was nothing to it. Here, I…” Hoseok broke off with a slight laugh, smiling fondly as he watched Mark and Jaebum come out the side door of the house. Hoseok smiled a little more when Jaebum gave him a weak one, eyes darting between Hoseok and his ex. Hoseok then turned his attention back to Darren. “Here, I have a job that I love. I have something to do to fill my time besides running after you or partying. I have a family here.”
“You have a family i-”
“No. I have parents who couldn’t even tell you how old I am or when my birthday is. I appreciate everything they’ve given me and everything I’ve gotten to have because of them, but they’re not my family. My family is here.” Hoseok smiled fondly at Jackson, Jaebum, and Mark again, chuckling a little as Mark pointed fingers guns in his direction with a wink before continuing to help Jackson place the tablecloths on the tables. They were a deep purple with a black trim that would look beautiful with the candles that Hoseok knew Mark had to decorate them.
“What? These weird- Ouch!” Darren jumped as he reached up to rub his jaw, suddenly feeling a sharp pain in his teeth. When he looked up and over Hoseok’s shoulder, he saw the three men decorating the tables each smirk a bit as they continued to keep their focuses on what they were doing. He then focused back on Hoseok, who seemed to be hiding a smile behind one of his hands if the way his eyes were crinkled at the corners was any indication. Darren reached out and grabbed Hoseok’s wrist, ignoring his complaint while insisting that Hoseok should just come home with him.
In the length of time it took Hoseok to blink his eyes, Darren was suddenly flying backward several feet to land near the sidewalk in front of the house in a groaning heap. Hoseok turned to see Jaebum walking toward him with slightly narrowed eyes. “Babe…” Hoseok said with a slight sigh, almost seeming as though he was about to scold him.
“That wasn’t me,” insisted Jaebum, coming to a stop next to Hoseok while placing a hand on the small of his back.
“No, that was me,” they both heard, making them look to where Yoongi and Taehyung were walking along the sidewalk toward the house from the right. Yoongi looked rather bored, his arms crossed over his chest and the witches hat he wore on his head slightly lopsided. Taehyung walked next to him with an arm draped over his shoulders, wearing some sort of sparkly robe dotted with stars and constellations that almost seemed to move and twinkle like it was actually made of stardust that matched the hat atop Yoongi’s head. Darren sat up with another groan, rubbing the back of his head as he asked what happened, or he tried to anyway. Yoongi spoke right over him, instead. “I think it’s time you got into your car and left town. There’s nothing for you here.” Darren, almost in a daze, seemed to then get up only to stop after several steps after Yoongi said, “Hold on.” Yoongi then turned his attention to Hoseok. “Do you want him to remember finding you here?”
“Uhm…” Hoseok’s brow furrowed and he frowned as he spoke, leaning against Jaebum’s side. He wasn’t sure. Then, after several seconds where he could feel Yoongi’s gaze on him though he could not see it because he was too busy looking at Jaebum who told him it was his choice, Hoseok shook his head. “No.”
Yoongi nodded his head once, reaching up to straighten the hat on his head before pushing the sleeves of his black cardigan up past his elbows. He said some things that Hoseok could not hear over the distance between them, but then Darren just continued walking off without looking back once. Yoongi then nodded his head, nearly knocking the hat off center again. “There. He shouldn’t be a problem anymore. But Seok…” Yoongi sighed with a shake of his head, walking with Taehyung across the yard and back to where Mark was still decorating with Jackson’s help. “You dated that , really?”
“You’ve dated worse, babe,” Taehyung teased with a deep chuckle, tightening his arm around Yoongi’s shoulders for a moment as they walked.
Hoseok laughed softly and let out a heavy breath as he turned to look at Jaebum with a small smile. “Are you ready to go get changed?” Jaebum asked with a soft smile of his own.
“Changed? I didn’t bring a costume,” replied Hoseok.
“Mark picked something out for you. It’s… not really a costume. Just… you’ll see, yeah?” Jaebum moved his hand from Hoseok’s back to hold it out in front of him for Hoseok to take a hold of. With another smile and a gentle squeeze of his fingers, Jaebum led Hoseok into the house and up the back staircase to lead him to the bedroom they shared more often than not.
When they got into the bedroom, Hoseok saw there were two outfits already sitting out on the bed. He could hear the sounds of their friends coming into the house, seeming as though they were making use of the other bedrooms and bathrooms to change as well. He could hear the faint, muffled sounds of Youngjae’s voice in the living room - he must have just gotten there with the others. Hoseok crossed the room to run his fingers over a robe similar to the one that Taehyung had been wearing only with a different sort of starry pattern to it. “Jimin made it with help from Jin,” Jaebum explained as Hoseok’s fingers brushed against the stars, watching as they darted away from where his fingers pressed against the surprisingly soft fabric. “It’s a really thin cloak, but it will keep you warmer than any coat you can buy. There’s some other properties to it, but I stopped listening when Jimin was explaining.”
“It’s so pretty.”
Jaebum nodded as he worked on taking out a couple of the simple black earrings he had in, planning to replace them with silver ones. “You, Taehyung, Namjoon, Jungkook, Jinyoung, Youngjae each have one,” he explained. Hoseok hummed in acknowledgement as he picked up a small eyeshadow palette that was sitting on the bed next to the clothes. “Mark expects us to go all out with what he’s decided on. Though, I think Bam picked out the makeup.”
“Bam?” Hoseok placed the eyeshadow back down on the bed before looking at Jaebum. He smiled softly and crossed the room to his boyfriend’s side in order to help him with the earring he was struggling to put in.
“Mmhmm. He’s a friend of ours, but he’s in Thailand right now visiting his family.” Jaebum pressed a kiss to Hoseok’s shoulder in thanks once he finished with the earring. “Come on. Let’s get dressed before Mark comes to dress us instead.”
The two of them talked quietly, hearing the muffled sounds of their friends’ voices around them in the other rooms, as they got changed into the clothes that Mark had picked out. They were simple clothes, all black; Hoseok a t-shirt and some shorts that he complained about until Jaebum reassured him that he wouldn’t get too cold - that was why Mark had Jimin make the cloaks, after all. Jaebum had some black skinny jeans and a black long sleeved top that fell wide enough on his shoulders to direct attention to the black choker necklace and crystals on silver chains that he wore. Hoseok let Jaebum help him put on the makeup like Mark wanted it done - a dark smokey eye with a slight shimmer to it that matched the stars on the cloak. He could not help himself from giggling when he looked in the mirror at himself and caught sight of Jaebum back across the room behind him. “What’s so funny?” he asked.
“Nothing,” answered Hoseok with a shake of his head. “Just… like we look like very stereotypical witchy emo kid aesthetics from Tumblr or something. All the crystals and black and the clothes. It’s… Mark is really big on aesthetic, isn’t he?”
“You know it, doll,” Mark said from the doorway as he leaned against the frame, wearing the same outfit as Jaebum only with different crystals on. Hoseok had learned that each of them had their own set, individualized to their own needs. He did not know what the crystals represented or did, but he was only very slowly learning about it all. “You look great. Come on . Everyone’s here already.”
Mark pushed himself up from the doorway and gestured for them to follow him Sharing a look with Jaebum, Hoseok started to follow after Mark, holding his hand out for Jaebum as he passed. He smiled when he felt his boyfriend’s fingers link together with his own as they walked. Mark was not joking when he said that everyone was there, Hoseok realized as they went outside. The side back yards were filled with people in all different types of costume. The tables were filled with drinks and food along with some lanterns that helped to light the area. There was one table filled with what appeared to be different cauldrons of drink options, and another that had small vials of different colored liquids. Hoseok watched as a kid drank one and then ran off with giggles as her hair changed from brown to a bright pink. “It’ll fade back in about thirty minutes,” Jaebum mumbled in Hoseok’s ear as he pressed in close to Hoseok’s back, seeing where Hoseok’s gaze was.
There was a makeshift dance area right in front of the solid black tree there in the back yard, the area seeming a lot lighter than it should have been for the lack of lighting and the fact that the sun had long since gone away for the day. There was music and talking and laughing, and Hoseok smiled as he watched everyone from town mingling around the party. Taehyung, Namjoon, Jungkook, Jinyoung, and Youngjae were all dressed similarly to how Hoseok was and it was not until he saw them that he realized he was actually quite warm in the starry cloak he wore despite the cold wind and the fact he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. None of them seemed to be bothered by the cold temperatures either. Jackson, Yoongi, Jin, Jimin, Yugyeom, and of course Mark were all dressed the same way as Jaebum was. Hoseok wanted to laugh because it was so ridiculous and extra but made them stand out dramatically from all the commercial costumes that the rest of the guests wore. “Dance with me?” Hoseok asked, turning to face Jaebum with a smile, laughing when Jaebum sighed dramatically but led him over to where others were dancing, anyway.
Jungkook was dancing with Jimin, his arms draped loosely over Jimin’s shoulders while Jin watched the two of them with a fond smile that he tried to hide behind the black plastic cup he held in his hand. Jackson seemed to be struggling to get Namjoon away from whatever discussion he was having with someone that Hoseok vaguely recognized from around town, pouting at the fact that Namjoon wouldn’t pay attention to him. Hoseok rested his chin on Jaebum’s shoulder as they moved slowly to the music that was playing from somewhere - Hoseok had yet to pinpoint where it was coming from. He smiled to himself as they danced and he could see where Youngjae was sitting on Jinyoung’s lap at one of the tables, alternating between stealing food from his boyfriend and talking with the person sitting at the table with them. Yoongi and Taehyung were dancing as well, Yoongi grumbling something before pressing closer to Taehyung and hiding his face against the front of Taehyung’s shoulder. Taehyung just laughed and pressed a kiss to the side of Yoongi’s head, wrapping his arms tighter around Yoongi’s middle and spinning him around a couple of times; he then placed Yoongi back on the ground so they could keep dancing.
Mark and Yugyeom stood at one of the tables, handing out some of the baked goods that obviously had come from Youngjae’s bakery to some kids that were waiting patiently. The little girl at the front of the line thanked them with a giggle before she ran off to hide her face against the side of her mother’s leg. It was all so… normal and calm and amazing. If it wasn’t for that undercurrent in the air, that crackle and spark of magic that Hoseok had learned to distinguish in the air, it would be all too easily to think that they were just at a normal - albeit incredibly extra and stereotypically decorated - Halloween party. That was until Jaebum stopped dancing and mumbled to Hoseok to watch. He shifted his arms around Hoseok to simply hold his boyfriend pressed against his side as Hoseok looked around them while the lighting in the area suddenly dimmed out to the point that Hoseok could barely see in front of him. There was a sudden feeling of anxiousness and anticipation from everyone around them, making Hoseok wonder if this was something that happened every Halloween.
He looked to where he thought Jaebum’s face was only to laugh softly when he felt one of his boyfriend’s hands grip his chin gently and redirect his gaze where he wanted Hoseok to focus. Hoseok smiled and tilted his face downward to brush a kiss against Jaebum’s fingers. He lifted his head again, though, when seconds later a slight breeze seemed to go through the area and all the candles they had placed out before, and the ones that were on the tables suddenly flickered to life. “Oh…” Hoseok practically breathed out the word and then the candles were floating in the air above everyone’s heads, effortlessly lighting the area around them. There were cheers from people around them and the stars on Hoseok’s cloak seemed to shimmer and shine just a little brighter than they had before.
It was clear to Hoseok that those around them seemed torn over whether or not the whole show was simply a gimmick, or a subtle reminder that magic truly did exist even if, in that particular town, it was only being used for simple, beautiful things and was not something to be feared. He would have to ask the others later, but that was later. For that moment, Hoseok would much rather focus on what he was doing; he wrapped his arms around Jaebum’s shoulders to pull him close again, kissing him deeply there in the middle of the back yard, surrounded by their friends and the rest of the town, under a canopy of candles and stars in a moment that Hoseok never wanted to end and felt like it was the perfect way to celebrate finally finding a place where he belonged.