It starts with a little bit of rain.
Or, at least, it starts with Yoongi braving the rain and running up the block to Seokjin’s apartment, furiously punching the buzzer as he waits with his bag held over his head, a feeble attempt to protect him from this rain.
Seokjin takes a minute or so to buzz him in, the music from his apartment so loud Yoongi doesn’t quite hear what he says, but it doesn’t matter, because all Yoongi needs is the warmth the lift provides.
“You look awful,” Seokjin tells him as soon as Yoongi walks through the door, coat promptly discarded to the side. It’s soaked, and so is Yoongi.
He toes his shoes off and nearly trips over the landing in the process—and he would have, had it not been for two hands clasping tightly onto his, steadying him back up and right.
Looking up, Yoongi finds big doe eyes staring right at him, a smile so endearing Yoongi won’t mistake it for anyone else.
“Hyung, long time no see,” says Jeongguk, squeezing on Yoongi’s hand. He pulls Yoongi into the house, helping him out of his scarf and all the extra layers that have been soaked through. Hands Yoongi a towel that Seokjin throws to the back of his head, and helps him dry off, too, even offering to get him a blow dryer if he needs it, because the owner of the house isn’t helpful at all, is he?
“Nope, he isn’t,” Jimin says, taking a break from talking on the phone, the other boy sprawled on the couch. He throws a grin at Yoongi, who nods at him, his smile coming easy as he listens to Jimin prattle off on the phone, presumably at Namjoon, because there’s a knot in his brows and a flicker of annoyance in his eyes, but there’s also endearment, even when he’s practically hissing into his phone,
“I did give you the address—I dropped the pin, hyung, that’s the address. Click—click the thing, oh my god, yes, just click it—your GPS will help you. God, how is it possible—okay, okay, drive safe then, yeah?” Jimin whispers the last thing, eyes closed as he lets his phone clatter onto the small coffee table in front of him. “Joon’s lost,” Jimin says, matter of fact, and they all nod, because it’s what they’d expected, anyway.
Yoongi just rolls his eyes and Seokjin laughs that big loud laugh of his, voice all too chipper when he says, “He’s never going to make it,”
With Yoongi finally dry, Jeongguk tosses all the extra towels away and then pulls him into a hug, hard and fast with his arms tight around him, and god, like this, Yoongi notices just how tall Jeongguk’s gotten. How big he is now. This is what being away from friends does to you—makes you more careful of the changes, more attentive. It’s not bad at all, just that Yoongi feels a little sad to have been away from him for so long he’s starting to notice all these new things with him.
“Missed you, too, Gguk,” Yoongi says, patting Jeongguk gently on the small of his back.
Jeongguk lets him go, smile blinding when he asks Yoongi about his travels, his trips abroad, about getting to go to Fashion Week—Paris, New York, Milan, all of them.
“You’ve really gone to all the places, hyung,” Jeongguk tells him, a little wistful.
Yoongi just squeezes on his hand and shakes his head, “There’s no place like home, or so they say,”
“Or so they say,” Seokjin echoes, stepping back into the living room with a bottle of wine in one hand and a six pack of beer in the other. “Look, I’ve got the goods,”
“I thought we were eating fancy tonight,” Jimin’s pouting, Yoongi doesn’t even have to look at him to know that he’s pouting. It’s in his voice. Jimin’s pouting voice. “Since you’ve been gone for a year, hyung. You and Yoongi hyung—“
Seokjin rolls his eyes. “Of course not, I can’t afford to feed you leeches all the goddamn time,” but there’s a glimmer in his eyes that tells Yoongi that’s not exactly the case, because Seokjin can afford to feed an entire small town for the next ten years.
It’s just that, well, they haven’t seen each other in a while. All of them. Haven’t gathered like this in ages, all together.
Yoongi knows exactly what Seokjin means.
“Just like old times, huh?” Jeongguk says, all too happy anyway at the beer and the prospect of chicken and pizza in just a few minutes.
“Exactly,” Seokjin says, topping Jimin off with the wine. “Just like old times. Good old times, yeah,”
Good old times.
For the most part, anyway, which is why Yoongi nods along, because the old times may have been good, but life will always find a way to be better.
Take for example: now.
They might just be sat in the living room floor, reaching over each other for beer or wine or even makgeolli, but they’re together, and Yoongi’s missed them all so, so much, he doesn’t even want to admit it out loud.
He doesn’t even think he’s been happy in all the time he’s been traveling. There’s nowhere like home. Nowhere like being with friends.
Yoongi smiles quietly to himself, enjoying this moment. Trying to catalogue this in his mind, save it in a folder labeled important, ready to pull out when the storms get too much and the days are rough. Rougher, even.
There’s the sound of the buzzer ringing across the entire room, and they all look up at Yoongi, who was last to enter, and then Seokjin gestures with his hand to the intercom, a clear sign that he’s not dealing with that.
Probably Namjoon or the food. Or Taehyung—the younger boy did mention he’d be running late. Something to do with traffic and all of that.
Yoongi gets up, doesn’t bother checking who it is in the intercom, and just presses the button. They’ll know who it is in a few seconds, anyway.
“Who is it?” Jeongguk asks, passing Yoongi a can of beer.
“Dunno,” Yoongi shrugs, looking at the greying intercom, now. Too late to check. “They’ll be up in a few, I guess,”
He catches Jimin and Seokjin exchanging a look, not quite sure what it means—eyes a little bit narrowed, lips pursed. They don’t say anything.
Jeongguk doesn’t, either, and Yoongi just waits in front of the door, sipping on his beer.
When the door opens, Yoongi almost chokes on his beer, because that’s certainly neither of the people in his choices. Granted, there had only been three, but still.
Yoongi quickly looks over his shoulder to find Seokjin rooted on his spot, his smile already apologetic, both hands raised as if he’s ready to make it up to Yoongi anytime.
But it’s too late to even step away or leave, because there’s only one door in and one door out, and to leave means he has to get through the same entrance, through—through him, and god, if this isn’t a sudden wave of vertigo washing over him, then Yoongi isn’t even sure anymore.
His head feels extremely light, a dropping pin sensation in his stomach, dark spots dancing behind his eyelids. Yoongi holds it in enough not to drop his beer, because he’s got priorities, and dropping his beer will make him look like an idiot, too, and there’s no way he’s going to let that happen, not after—
Not after the years that have passed between them.
“Hyung,” it’s Jimin this time, standing beside Jeongguk to welcome the visitor, who lifts his head up to smile at the younger boys, as bright as Yoongi remembers it. Or brighter, even, because Yoongi’s memories are muted. Grey. They’re not quite as coloured like this. “We didn’t even know if you were going to make it,”
Across from him, Jung Hoseok laughs, that same nervous little laugh that he laughs all the time when he’s caught off guard, and shakes his head, “I missed you guys, of course I was going to come,”
But he looks at anywhere else besides Yoongi, at least, until he can’t avoid it, until Hoseok gets to the landing and Yoongi still hasn’t moved at all, the both of them staring at each other, quite literally three steps away. Close, so, so close, as they always have been—or, had been, in this case.
“Hyung,” Hoseok is the first to break the silence, the smile that plays across his face not quite as nervous anymore, but more foreign. A smile that Yoongi hasn’t seen before but a smile that he thinks he knows, anyway, because there’s a part of Hoseok that Yoongi thinks he’ll always know.
“Hoseok,” Yoongi manages to get out, voice coming out a little bit strained. He looks at Hoseok’s face, really, really looks at him. This is what four years does to a person—it changes them. Not completely, but enough for Yoongi to wonder if Hoseok’s always been taller than him. Enough to make Yoongi want to touch his face, just to check if it’s still as soft as it had been when they were twenty-one and twenty-two, fresh-faced and stupid, with a little fat in their cheeks and a burning flame inside their hearts. “Hoseok,” Yoongi repeats, because there’s nothing else he can say, standing in front of him like this.
“It’s been a while, hyung,” Hoseok tells him, and there’s a formality there that Yoongi’s never gotten from Hoseok. It almost feels like they’re two different people. Too changed to even greet each other properly.
“Yeah,” Yoongi murmurs, shoulders slumping, the energy rushing out of him all of a sudden. “I haven’t—I haven’t seen you in a while,”
In years. They haven’t seen each other in four years. But Yoongi doesn’t want to say it. Doesn’t want Hoseok to say it, either.
People say that time heals all wounds, but perhaps this time, time has healed it in a way that Yoongi doesn’t quite like. Glossed over the mistakes, the faults, the fights, glossed over the terrible breakup that they’d had back in university, with screaming matches and tears in their eyes, hurt and pain edged so deeply in the look on Hoseok’s face that Yoongi had dreamt about it for nights on end. Weeks of Hoseok crying just plaguing his nightmares.
Yoongi doesn’t want to think about that, now, not when this Hoseok is different. Taller. A little bit older. A little bit more grown up. Changed.
“It’s good to see you again,” Hoseok finally manages to get out, smiling at Yoongi.
It’s all well and good, if only Yoongi took Hoseok’s smile at face value. But he doesn’t, he can’t, because he knows what that smile looks like. What that smile says.
Hoseok is guarded, walls up high and towering.
And it might have been four years, but Yoongi’s heart still squeezes tightly at the sight of Hoseok. It’s a painful and tight squeeze. Yoongi thinks it’s what he deserves.
Of course, this is the exact same moment that the buzzer rings again, Taehyung and Namjoon’s voices loud and ringing across the apartment that’s still so quiet, everyone else just waiting. Watching with bated breaths.
“Let us in, it’s cold outside,” Taehyung says, raising a bottle of champagne. “For Yoongi hyung and Seokjin hyung,”
Namjoon peers into the camera, this time talking directly to Jimin, “The GPS didn’t work,”
Jimin mumbles something that Yoongi only vaguely hears.
“So now we just gotta wait for the food,” Seokjin says, rather lamely as he pads over to where the rest of them are waiting, Hoseok and Yoongi still facing each other, although with their eyes downcast, not wanting to actually make eye contact, because Yoongi can’t. Not when he thinks Hoseok hates him. Still hates him. Blames him for everything. Hates him. And who wouldn’t, after that breakup, really?
Hoseok hates him.
“Hey, sorry we took a while,” Taehyung says, voice faltering when he sees just what’s happening by the entryway. He stops so abruptly in his tracks that Namjoon runs right into him.
“What’s going on—“ Namjoon manages to say, but stops immediately when he makes eye contact with Yoongi. His mouth pops open and Yoongi shakes his head minutely, the smile that he manages to pull stiff, but it’s a smile, and it’s better than nothing.
“Well, then,” Hoseok says, smile turned to Namjoon and Taehyung. “Let’s get this thing going, yeah?”
Namjoon nods, although he still looks too shocked to function—not at the sight of Hoseok, but at the sight of Yoongi and Hoseok in the same room, because it’s been four years.
Four fucking years.
“Yeah—I mean, yeah, let’s, let’s go, we have champagne,” Namjoon gestures to the bottle in Taehyung’s hand, something that the younger boy had forgotten himself.
Taehyung snaps out of it, Jeongguk pulling him into the living room while Jimin does the same with Namjoon, their hands clasped together between them as Namjoon leans down to whisper something to Jimin.
“Hyung, if you’re uncomfortable, then I can leave,” Hoseok says, eyes staring up at Yoongi, wide and earnest. So, so clear, Yoongi thinks he can see the sky in them.
Yoongi shakes his head immediately, the string of no, no no spilling out of him before he can help it, because it’s been four bloody years since Yoongi was completely selfish with him, and Hoseok is still—Hoseok is still Hoseok. Kind, sweet, Hoseok.
“No, I should leave,” Yoongi murmurs, voice low.
“You haven’t seen them in a while, hyung,” Hoseok says rather gently it makes something inside of Yoongi ache. “You should stay,”
Yoongi musters up the courage to say something he hasn’t said to Hoseok in years. Something he should have said, then.
“I think we should both stay,” it surprises the both of them, Hoseok drawn back for a second, and Yoongi’s cheeks colouring, a dusty rose and pink at the sudden suggestion.
But there’s nothing else to do.
They have a breakup between them but their friends are family.
They’re still friends, underneath it all. Or, at least, they’re supposed to be.
Hoseok nods, says a small okay under his breath, and things might have changed. They might have grown up a little, and Hoseok might be guarded with him, and Yoongi might still think that Hoseok’s got all the right to hate him, but it’s a start.
Okay is a start, at least, for tonight.
The nightmares had stopped years ago, but they’re back in full force, now.
And it’s not so much as something terrible happening to him, no monsters or murderers or getting chased down. It’s just Yoongi in the same empty room, with a single lightbulb hanging over his head. He’s on the floor, legs crossed, and hands clenched on top of his thighs.
He is alone in this dream, as he always is.
Even with his eyes open, there’s nothing to see, so Yoongi keeps them closed.
There is no way out of this room unless he wakes up. Tonight, however hard Yoongi tries, he can’t wake up. Can’t will himself to startle awake. So he dreams.
He dreams of being locked in a dark room all alone.
And it’s not so bad until it starts, the sound of footsteps. Strong, steady at first. Close to him. As if it’s just right next to him. Gradually, they start to soften.
This is the sound of Hoseok walking away from him.
Yoongi had dreamt about it often enough after the breakup. It’s the first time in years that he’s dreamt of it again.
It doesn’t hurt any less, because it’s the only thing he can hear. Only thing he can do.
He’s forced to listen to the sound of Hoseok walking away from him, footsteps so light Yoongi isn’t even sure he’s still there, but he knows. He knows Hoseok will always be walking away from him.
Yoongi doesn’t know how long he’s slept, all he knows is that when he wakes up, he feels more tired than normal, the energy drained from out of him. There are dark circles under his eyes and his hands are starting to grow weak, vertigo hitting him as soon as he gets out of bed.
For a second, all Yoongi can think about is his nightmare. How hallow it still makes him feel. How incomplete.
Perhaps this is what true horror is—the sound of the one person you care about slowly walking farther and farther away from you, until you can neither hear them nor see their shadow anymore. It’s certainly more painful than waking up drenched in sweat after dreaming about Jason from Friday the 13th or some shit. Certainly more painful.
Yoongi tries to snap himself out of it, but the feeling stays with him the entire day. It follows him around like a phantom. He hasn’t felt like this in a long time, but seeing Hoseok the other night had brought him back to four years ago, when he was twenty-two years old and absolutely fucking stupid, who didn’t deserve Hoseok then, and who doesn’t deserve him now, either.
Being around him during dinner had been difficult enough, but watching Taehyung take care of him after one too many drinks had only served as a painful reminder of what Yoongi had lost—not just a boyfriend, but a best friend.
This is what happens when you’re stupid and selfish. This is what happens when you get too scared you fight instead of heal.
Yoongi knows this all too well, now.
Some things you just have to learn the hard way.
For what can only be a strike of good luck, work is cancelled for the day. The shooting he’d had lined up all pushed back to different times of the week. He’ll be working around Seoul for the next couple months.
Yoongi had been thrilled then, to be around his friends.
Now, with Hoseok back in the mix, he isn’t quite sure what to do anymore.
“You can’t ignore him forever, hyung,” is what Namjoon says when he shows up to Yoongi’s apartment sometime that afternoon, bringing tea and cupcakes and a few spreads that Yoongi had asked for a few weeks ago.
“I’m not ignoring him,” Yoongi counters, sliding the door to the balcony open.
The autumn air is crisp and sharp. Cold. It slips under Yoongi’s sweater and rests on his skin before it sinks right under and settles around his bones, keeping him cold inside and out. Yoongi doesn’t even mind. Can’t find the energy to do so anymore.
“I mean, not exactly, but like—you can’t just ignore what happened in the past,” Most of the time, Yoongi loves Namjoon.
Sometimes, he hates him, because Namjoon somehow manages to say all the things Yoongi doesn’t want to hear, but needs to hear, anyway.
“Maybe,” Yoongi murmurs, taking a drag of his cigarette.
Namjoon passes him a cup of tea, and out here in the balcony, with the rest of the city so many floors below, the people looking like ants, and the sky looking close, but still so, so far away from Yoongi’s outstretched fingertips, the world slows down.
It slows down enough for Yoongi to take a breath and close his eyes.
“I don’t wanna think about it now, Joon,” he admits, finally opening his eyes to look at Namjoon, who’s staring at him, consideration and kindness clear in his eyes, in his face. The smile that he offers Yoongi a gentle one.
“You’re in town for a while and Hoseok’s just established his own academy, so I think,” here Namjoon lets the news about Hoseok’s recent achievement settle around Yoongi. There’s astonishment and pride there, something that colours Yoongi red and orange, bright, bright, bright, and so different from the blues and greys that have washed over him all these years. “I think you have plenty of time to think about things,”
To act on things, is what Namjoon doesn’t say, but Yoongi hears anyway.
Yoongi takes another drag of his cigarette. Holds it for a few seconds too long until it burns his throat and leaves his eyes watery before he breathes it all out in a long stream of smoke.
“We’ll see,” is all Yoongi says, and that’s that for now.
Yoongi is out walking Holly when it starts to rain.
It’s funny how these things happen, how the rain can either drive you far, far away, or it can drive you even closer to what you’ve been dreading.
The rain this time brings Yoongi and Holly right outside a cafe, the small dog already barking at him to get a move on, even when it’s raining.
Yoongi bends down to rub behind his ears, trying for a smile, “Sorry, bud, but we gotta wait it out. Forgot my umbrella, and you don’t want an untimely shower, do you?”
Holly just barks, wags his tail, and Yoongi takes it as a no, I don’t, thanks for making reasonable decisions for the both of us! Which probably isn’t the case but Yoongi is the adult here—and the human capable of speech—so someone’s really got to take charge.
Behind him, he hears the sound of the cafe’s bell jingling and then a startled noise, quietly followed with, “Yoongi hyung?”
Yoongi doesn’t even have to turn around to check just who it is, because he’ll know that voice anywhere, he thinks. Will be able to hear him from miles away. Will be able to pick his one syllable note out from the rest of the crowd.
Hoseok stands right behind him, scarf looped around his neck, and a look of mild surprise colouring his face.
Perhaps Yoongi and Holly should’ve braved the rain and just made a run for it back home. They’re not too far away, now that Yoongi thinks about it.
“Are you okay?” Hoseok starts, shaking his umbrella out of his bag. Good, responsible, Hoseok. At least that hasn’t changed. “Oh—oh wow, is this your dog?”
Before Yoongi can even tell him that Holly’s in one of his moods, Hoseok’s already crouched down low to level with him, hand reaching out to pat Holly’s curly tufts of fur.
Hoseok smiles a smile that brings out the light in his eyes and the dimples in his cheeks. He smiles a smile that Yoongi realises he’s missed after all this time.
“Yeah, it’s—his name is Holly,” Yoongi says, tugging on Holly’s leash to stop the dog from jumping on Hoseok and knocking the both of them down into the pavement, where it’s wet and muddy because it’s raining—still fucking raining, Christ, the world just doesn’t want to do Yoongi any favours, does it?
“Holly, that’s a cute name,” Hoseok laughs this time, a little surprised when Holly paws at his hand and rubs his head under Hoseok’s open palm, clearly asking for head scratches and pats.
Hoseok gives in easily, and Yoongi just watches, fingers tight on the leash, and shoulders rigid because he doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know how to act around Hoseok. Not anymore, at least.
If Hoseok feels the same way, he’s making a more active effort this time around to mask it, as compared to their initial reunion a few nights ago.
Hoseok’s always been good with people.
And if something else hasn’t changed, then it’s that Hoseok can still read him, at least, to a degree, because when Hoseok straightens back up, the smile that he offers Yoongi is more apologetic than anything.
Yoongi just wants to take his face in his hands and tell him that there’s no reason for Hoseok to be looking at him like that, no reason at all, because Hoseok doesn’t have to. He doesn’t need to. Not for Yoongi.
But here Hoseok is, giving way yet again, and something inside of Yoongi tightens. Squeezes in the most painful way.
“Do you want to get some coffee?” Hoseok offers, gesturing to the nearly empty cafe behind them. “I can ask if they allow dogs, or if they’ve got a space for Holly,”
Yoongi wants to tell him no, that there’s no way he’s going to sit inside in a closed space with Hoseok to wait this rain out—not when Hoseok’s got his own umbrella and several places to be. But Yoongi doesn’t find the words. He falters in front of Hoseok and instead just nods his head rather minutely, because that’s all he can do. All he can try for today.
Hoseok takes Holly by the leash, their fingers brushing gingerly together for a fraction of a second.
Yoongi pretends not to notice, and Hoseok does too.
Together, they make their way back into the cafe, Hoseok charming the baristas into taking Holly in because it’s raining and there’s just no way for them to go on like this, and Yoongi waits in the sidelines, because he’s good at this. Good at the waiting game.
If there’s anything else that’s new about him, then it’s that he is more patient this time around.
But that doesn’t mean he’s more forgiving to himself. That actually takes a while, and four years is not nearly enough.
“You didn’t have to, Hoseok,” Yoongi tells him as soon as Hoseok sets down an iced Hazelnut for Yoongi—he didn’t even have to ask, just told him he’ll get them their drinks and came back with this. At this point, Yoongi’s not surprised Hoseok still knows his order. Perhaps Yoongi hasn’t changed all that much, then.
Hoseok sets a glass of iced tea for himself, and Yoongi realises that he’s intruding, that this just isn’t right, and he says it, too, “You were just here—I really don’t want to keep you,”
“Nah, hyung, it’s okay,” Hoseok looks over his shoulder to check on Holly, who’s busy being doted on by one of the baristas. “The rain’s starting to get really bad. I guess it was just good luck I ran into you,”
“Good luck, huh,” Yoongi doesn’t even realise he’s said it out loud until Hoseok coughs, surprised and taken aback by the sudden confession. Heat rises up Yoongi’s neck and settles around his cheeks in an instant, Yoongi wanting to be anywhere but here, god, please, please, please, just take him out. Take him away.
“I mean—yeah, I met Holly,” Hoseok passes it off as easily as that, though his smile is shakier than before.
This is the first time in four years that they’ve sat down like this.
Yoongi doesn’t want to stare, but he supposes there’s no other way around it without being mean or disinterested—and he isn’t, he really isn’t, it’s just. It’s difficult to look at Hoseok without remembering how hurt he’d looked that one night. Difficult to even talk to him because Yoongi’s an ass and he hasn’t forgiven himself and why should he assume that Hoseok has, too? It’s just difficult. Everything is suddenly so difficult.
“Hoseok, listen,” Yoongi starts, fingers wrapped around his drink. It’s cold. Too cold. But he doesn’t let go, wants his hands to be busy, to be occupied, because he doesn’t know what to do with them the same way he doesn’t know what to do with his eyes.
He looks at Hoseok this time, as in actually looks at him, and he finds that Hoseok’s already looking at him. The same eyes that have spoken about constellations and shown Yoongi the beauty of the skies. These are the same eyes, but also—they’re different. Hardened by time. Changed by the seasons.
“I’m sorry if I—if I disappeared,” Yoongi says, rather lamely. “If we haven’t seen each other in a while,” this is not good at all but the words are already out and it’s too late to get them back.
“I thought you didn’t want to see me, hyung,” Hoseok’s voice is quieter than usual, fingers steepled together. There’s no hurt or bitterness in his voice. He’s just stating a fact, but it still hurts, especially when Hoseok looks away from him, eyes downcast.
“No, Hoseok, I—“ Yoongi did want to see him. He tried. But it had been too late. Weeks too late when he realised. There’s no use telling him he was stupid, because Hoseok knows that, now. Instead, Yoongi just says what he wants, now, even if he gets shot down. Even if this all turns out to be a total wreck. “I—I want to see you again,”
And before Hoseok can assume different, he continues, tripping over his own words, stuttering, “I mean—I mean, I want to see you again like. With everyone. I just—I’ve been away for a while, and—“
Hoseok saves him from self-combustion with a nod of his head, his smile this time understanding, but guarded. Hoseok will always be guarded, but that’s okay. Yoongi had expected this.
“Okay,” Hoseok says, tapping his fingers on the side of his glass. “I’d like it if we tried,”
“Okay,” Yoongi repeats, feeling a little bit lighter. “Okay.”
Outside, the rain starts to slow down. But it’s still dark.
Evening comes much quicker these days, but at least.
At least there is an okay, now.
Things don’t necessarily get easier after that afternoon in the cafe, but they are more bearable, especially these past few days when all everyone wants is to see each other, because this is so rare, having everyone in the same place.
Yoongi shows up, he always shows up, and so does Hoseok.
It takes a lot of getting used to from everyone else, the other boys tiptoeing on egg shells around them until Yoongi and Hoseok themselves have adjusted enough to be bearable around the others. They don’t really talk to each other, but they also don’t not talk to each other. There’s no more ignoring, no more silences. When needed, they can talk, can interact. But it’s hardly ever needed, especially in a big group like theirs.
Hoseok takes a while to get back into the groove of things, too, but after a few weeks, he falls right into the same patterns as he always had with the younger boys, with Jimin, and Taehyung, and Jeongguk, the four of them as loud and as boisterous as ever, and Yoongi just watches as they laugh, dance, as they try to do everything they possibly can in one single night.
Yoongi watches them and he feels endeared.
Beside him, Namjoon does the same, and it’s strange, isn’t it, how things work out so well for some people, but so shitty for you. Namjoon catching Jimin as he trips and falls into his lap isn’t one of those things, because Yoongi had seen this coming all along, had wanted for this outcome.
He watches as the two of them giggle to each other, a little bit punch drunk and head over heels in love, and it’s cute. It’s wonderful. It makes Yoongi happier. If not him, then someone else. His friends. Always his friends.
Jimin insists on sitting on Namjoon’s lap, even when the songs have changed and the drinks are all gone. He insists on clinging onto Namjoon out of the bar, hands clasped between them. Jimin doesn’t let go at all, the smile on his face brilliant and beautiful and so, so in love, Yoongi wants to look away because it’s impossible to look at them for too long without feeling like he’s intruding.
“They’ve been this disgusting since the start of it,” Seokjin tells Yoongi, swinging an arm around his shoulders and bringing him close to his side.
Yoongi laughs, fond.
“It’s cute. They’re cute,” Yoongi says, walking behind them. He can hear them whispering, though the words are inaudible. Behind him, he hears Hoseok and Taehyung, too, both boys with their arms locked together, close. So, so close.
Nothing has changed with how they are with the other boys. It’s just—it’s just how they are with each other. But Yoongi is happy that they’ve reached this strange middle ground. If not this, then there would be nothing else. This is good. This is okay. This is safe.
Safe will always be okay, even when it’s not enough.
“They’re too cute,” Seokjin sniffles, and Yoongi knows what he’s on about.
Yoongi squeezes on Seokjin’s shoulder, a reassuring one where he doesn’t have to say anything else to know that Seokjin understands the gesture.
“That’s the thing when you’re happy, I guess,” this time, it’s Jeongguk who says it, falling into step beside Yoongi. “Everything’s too cute. It’s disgusting,”
Both Yoongi and Seokjin laugh at that, Yoongi spreading his free hand out for Jeongguk to take, tugging the younger boy to his side, hand squeezing around his waist, to keep him in place.
This is nice.
This is warm. Yoongi is warm with his friends on either side of him. Around him.
With the sound of Hoseok’s laughter behind him, muted and quiet because it’s late into the night.
This is safe and safe—
Safe is nice.
The nightmares still continue, and Yoongi spends more nights awake than anything, just staring up at the ceiling, too afraid to even close his eyes, because he can hear it so, so clearly. Hoseok’s footsteps as he walks away from him.
Perhaps this is his personal hell. Perhaps hell will just be you, alone in a dark room, listening to all the people who’s ever cared about you, and who you’ve cared about, eventually walk away from you.
Yoongi twists his fingers in the sheets and turns around so quickly he startles Holly awake beside him.
He’s restless the entire night. So restless that Holly gives up trying to sleep beside him. The dog jumps out of bed and pads to the corner of the room, settling himself away from Yoongi who clearly has zero decency when it comes to respecting his dog’s sleeping hours.
But he’s trying. Yoongi’s trying so, so hard, because all this lack of sleep and mornings spent practically zoning off and falling asleep into his cup of coffee aren’t doing him any favours. Work has started in full-force again and while Yoongi’s established himself enough to be able to deal with his schedule better, he’s still busy.
Perhaps being busy is a good thing, because it means he doesn’t have to dwell too much on everything that’s currently going on in his life—more specifically, Hoseok. Hoseok who’s back in his life but isn’t, at least, not exactly. It’s complicated. Yoongi had told Seokjin just that the other night—It’s complicated, hyung. And Seokjin had just rolled his eyes, thumped Yoongi on the back of his head, and snorted, Things are only complicated if you let it. Which is exactly what Yoongi’s doing, but hey, who’s keeping score?
If there’s any good that the nightmares have given him, then it’s that he’s got more time in the evenings. More time at three in the morning. He doesn’t exactly know what to do with all this time but at least he’s got time.
It’s a brighter-than-usual-for-this-Autumn-weather afternoon when Namjoon drops by his office.
“How are you?” Namjoon asks, noticing the dark circles under his eyes. “You’re not looking too good,”
Yoongi’s seen his reflection in the mirror. His complexion is absolutely pallid and he looks like he hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in ages, which is true, but still, it stings to have it pointed out.
He shuts his laptop close and stretches out languidly in his chair, hearing his joints creak and pop as he does so. He might have cracked a rib, too, at this angle, but Yoongi doesn’t care. He’s too tired to care.
“Your secretary says you’ve been falling asleep in here,” Namjoon takes one of the cameras Yoongi’s left out in the open and starts flipping through the pictures. “This is that new actor, isn’t it? These raws are pretty good, hyung,”
Yoongi only offers him a hint of a smile behind his desk. “What do you take me for, an amateur?”
To which Namjoon laughs, loud and barking, and absolutely alive. So alive it gives Yoongi energy, if only just a little bit. At least it’s enough for him to push out of his chair and stretch properly.
“Not really,” Namjoon sets the camera down and then joins Yoongi by the window. It’s a high-rise building and they’ve got a wonderful view of Gangnam up here. It’s expensive and exactly how Yoongi likes it, but it’s also—it’s also cold. Not just because it’s autumn, but because everything is always so, so cold, just like how the colours are always so, so muted. Blues and greys and everything dark and bleak.
It’s been like this for some time, now.
“Hoseok has this show for his kids on Friday, you should come,” it’s not even a question, more like a suggestion. A change for Yoongi to make amends. To try to fit himself back into the cracks of what had once been their friendship.
“I—I don’t really know about that,” Yoongi says, turning away from the window to look at his hands. He knows Namjoon has good intentions. Knows that all his friends want them to be okay. Because it’s awkward for them, too, but Yoongi had thought that things were better. That at least they, as a group were better this time.
And they kinda are, compared to how they were a month ago. Kinda isn’t too big of a difference, but it counts.
“I’m not really sure what to say to Hoseok, y’know,” Yoongi plops himself down on the couch, Namjoon following after him immediately.
Namjoon presses their shoulders together, leaning against Yoongi, quiet for a few moments too long, beats that stretch on for a lifetime until he says, “I don’t know if you remember, but I told you this before. I thought you and Hoseok were perfect for each other,”
A shallow laugh from Namjoon and something that sounds far too bitter from Yoongi. It’s ugly. It’s so ugly. Yoongi doesn’t even want to hear it anymore, but Namjoon soldiers on.
“Maybe perfect wasn’t the right word,” Namjoon continues, looping an arm around Yoongi’s shoulders.
Yoongi finds himself falling against him, comfortable and quiet and the whole world paused, for this second. For this moment.
“Maybe perfect is never the solution. I think you’re good for each other, is what I’m trying to say,”
This time, Yoongi leans away so he can stare up at Namjoon, an eyebrow raised, and a scowl on his face.
“Joon, we had an awful breakup, I would think you’d remember that part at least,” Yoongi doesn’t mean to make it sound biting, and it doesn’t, at least, he thinks so, but Namjoon folds his fingers over Yoongi’s shoulder and gives him a squeeze, anyway, as if to placate him. “I think the breakup destroyed us,”
I destroyed him. I destroyed Hoseok, Yoongi wants to say, but even that he doesn’t have the courage to actually say out loud, so he lets it settle on his tongue. It tastes like poison. Tastes heavy and cold and bitter. It tastes like everything that went wrong.
“Yeah, I guess it did,” Namjoon muses, sounding a little bit too far away. The only thing keeping Yoongi on this couch and not pacing around his office is Namjoon beside him, a comforting and reassuring warmth wrapping around him. “It wrecked you, too, hyung. You—you were a mess. Almost dropped out. Stopped eating. God, that was so—so fucking stupid, I don’t even know why you both went through all of that and still didn’t get back together then,”
“Because, as you pointed out, I was stupid,” Yoongi jabs at Namjoon gently, elbow against his chest. It doesn’t hurt, but Namjoon fake-groans anyway.
“I’d like to think you’re not that stupid anymore,” Namjoon says, giving Yoongi’s arm a gentle pat. “That you’re both better, now,”
“I don’t know,” is what Yoongi says, because he really doesn’t, and he’s not sure what it is he wants to do, what it is he wants to happen. He doesn’t know. Right now, Yoongi is only sure of two things.
First, that the sound of Hoseok leaving hurts more years after he actually left. That it’s the only thing that plagues Yoongi’s dreams, and that he still can’t sleep. Can’t stand hearing it every night.
Second, that he wants Hoseok. Some part of him wants him back in his life—or perhaps it’s always been there, a want that he’s carried in the innermost, darkest corner of his heart. A want that he’s been too afraid to say out loud, much less whisper.
This is all Yoongi is sure of, and even with this he isn’t brave enough to admit it to anyone else.
“I can’t just swoop back into his life, tell him—tell him I want in again, and then pretend like nothing happened,” Yoongi sounds frustrated this time, and it must be the lack of sleep partnered with how busy his day has been, with everything Namjoon’s said. Everything Namjoon’s making him say without actually asking him to. “It doesn’t work like that,”
There’s quiet for the longest time, Namjoon’s hand around Yoongi still warm, still heavy. It is a weight that keeps Yoongi tethered to the ground. Keeps him from floating away.
“So, you want Hoseok,” Namjoon says it slowly, like he’s testing the words out himself. “Before you bark, that’s what you said, I’m just repeating it,”
“I mean—not in that way. I don’t know, I just—want him back, you know,” Yoongi feels his anger deflating. Feels himself growing weaker. “I just want my friend back, and it’s selfish, and I know I don’t deserve it, but I—I want it, I think,”
“You both left after what happened. I don’t think either one of you ever got the chance to apologise,” Namjoon helps him up, hands wrapping around Yoongi’s wrist to pull him back up to his feet. “So do that first, yeah? Apologise,”
Yoongi looks up at Namjoon like he’s said the single greatest thing on Earth, and Yoongi doesn’t even know how it’s taken him this long to realise that, but it’s here, now. He’s here and Hoseok’s here, they’re both here, both back, and not once has Yoongi apologised to him.
Can’t bring himself to, because that means he has to apologise to himself, and Yoongi doesn’t think he’ll ever forgive himself for what he did to Hoseok. For what it’s done to them.
“It’s not that—“ but Namjoon cuts him off, hands squeezing around Yoongi’s wrists with enough pressure to snap him out of his own little daze.
“Easy, yeah, I get it, but try anyway,” Namjoon smiles, that dimpled smile of his that has the whole world falling to its knees. “Open hearts are hearts that are ready to heal,”
Yoongi hates that Namjoon’s starting on his little sayings, hates that Namjoon’s probably plucked that line straight out of his own book, but he takes it, anyway, because maybe this time Namjoon is on to something.
Open hearts are hearts that are ready to heal.
Yoongi’s heart has been lost at sea for the longest time, but he thinks that if it hasn’t drowned and sunk to the bottom of the ocean at this point, then perhaps there’s hope. Perhaps.
“You think he’ll take an apology after four years?” Yoongi allows himself to sound vulnerable this time, because it’s only him and Namjoon. It’s been the two of them for the past couple of years. Yoongi doesn’t even know what he would have done without Namjoon. He doesn’t even want to think about that, really.
“Hoseok’s a good guy,” is all Namjoon says, already making his way to the door. Before he leaves, he throws a look at Yoongi over his shoulder and continues, “And you are, too, hyung. You just need to be kinder to yourself.”
See, this is what happened, four years ago.
Four years ago, Yoongi and Hoseok had been Yoongi and Hoseok, best friends.
Four years ago, Yoongi and Hoseok had dated.
Four years ago, things had gone too fast, too quick, and all of a sudden Yoongi had felt like the boat was tipping over.
Four years ago, Yoongi had tried to save himself from sinking and in the process had left Hoseok out in the middle of the ocean, alone.
Four years ago, Hoseok had told Yoongi he loved him, and all Yoongi had said was, I don’t know, I—don’t know what to say, Seok. And that had been the start of the end. I don’t know what to do about this. About—you.
Four years ago, Yoongi hadn’t been ready to hear it. But maybe that’s the thing with love—it comes with no warning sometimes, and when it finally does arrive, you either open the door and let it in, or slam it right in its face.
Four years later, Yoongi regrets it. Has regretted it for a long, long time. Carried it with him all these years.
Four years later, all Yoongi wants to do is apologise properly. To talk to Hoseok, look him in the eye and say sorry, because he was stupid then, and he’s still stupid now, but if it counts for anything, then he’s sorry, he’ll always be sorry, and there’s no making up what was lost, what was broken, but he’s sorry, anyway.
Yoongi’s sorry because he realised weeks after the breakup that he felt the same, only it had been too late, and he was a thousand miles away from where they had once been, and Hoseok’s gone, too, and Yoongi couldn’t even look at any of his friends, not after what happened. So much had happened. So much is still happening.
It all happens at once, it seems, but this time, all Yoongi wants is to apologise, to tell Hoseok that he’s sorry about everything. That he’s sorry that he’s back and that it’s taken him four years since the breakup to actually get the courage to walk up to him and apologise.
But Yoongi doesn’t do any of that tonight.
Instead, he just closes his eyes and falls asleep on the kitchen counter, Holly pawing at his leg worriedly as Yoongi drifts into a dreamless sleep for the first time in weeks.
When he wakes up, Yoongi realises that not dreaming about Hoseok at all is worse than all the nightmares about him leaving. It’s worse not having him there.
“What am I going to do, baby,” Yoongi buries his face in Holly’s fur, arms coming around the small dog.
Holly just whines in his arms and Yoongi swallows everything else he wants to say and closes his eyes. He thinks he sees Hoseok in the dark spots that dance behind his eyelids.
“I don’t know where to even start,” Holly bumps his head under Yoongi’s chin, Yoongi scratching just behind his ear.
“Yeah, I know,” Yoongi says, when Holly finally settles on his chest. “I’ll see him tomorrow, maybe,”
That’s a big maybe, but Holly seems to support his decision, the dog letting out a sleepy little yip in Yoongi’s arms, burrowing closer up to his neck because it’s cold. Yoongi’s apartment is so, so cold.
Yoongi still isn’t sure, but at least Holly seems to be in support of him (and Yoongi doesn’t think that Holly’s only supporting him because it’s Yoongi who gives him treats and sings to him as they go out on their walks, no, he doesn’t think about that at all. Holly supports him because Holly is a good dog—the Best Dog—and of course the best dog only wants the best thing for Yoongi. Yes, that’s exactly Holly’s reasoning. Yoongi’s got it down pat.)
It takes him a little while to walk down the hallway of Hoseok’s newly established dance academy.
Actually, it takes Yoongi longer than a little while. He’s been standing just by the doorway, watching parents and children and everyone else saunter past him, talking excitedly amongst themselves about the upcoming show.
It takes him so long to gather up the courage to make his way down that by the time he finally takes that extra few steps, he feels someone else standing beside him.
“So, are you just going to just stand there or what?” it’s Seokjin who asks, an amused look on his face and an eyebrow raised at Yoongi. Seokjin knows exactly what’s happening but he doesn’t call Yoongi out on it.
Instead, Seokjin just takes Yoongi’s arm, loops it with his, and then drags him down the hall, taking a left on the first turn and leading him into the small theatre made specifically for the students’ recitals.
Seokjin doesn’t let go of Yoongi until they find their place beside Namjoon and Jimin, who look up at them with matching smiles and glitter in their eyes.
Yoongi sits right between Namjoon and Seokjin, both boys on either side of him to keep an eye out, just in case. Yoongi feels like they’re babysitting him, and it bothers him just the slightest bit, but then he realises that this is all his friends want of him—to be good, and okay, and nice, and happy, and safe, and safe may never be enough for all the things that Yoongi wants, will ever want in life, but safe is better than being lost out at sea.
“This is your first time here, right?” Jimin asks, leaning over Namjoon to whisper to Yoongi. “You should ask Hoseokie hyung to give you a tour, the academy’s actually pretty amazing,”
Yoongi has no doubts about it. Never had any doubts about Hoseok succeeding like this, because his passion then had burned so bright Yoongi felt warm just listening to Hoseok talk about it. Now, seeing the product of all his hard work and talent, his dreams—it almost brings a tear to Yoongi’s eye. Makes him choke up, if only slightly, if only for a split second until the lights dim on stage and they see the familiar pitter patter of one Jung Hoseok making his way to the podium, dressed to impress in a suit that from his seat, Yoongi can already tell looks good. So good.
Hoseok always looks good, Yoongi thinks. Always.
“Good evening, everyone,” Hoseok starts, the smile on his face brighter than the spotlight that shines on him. As he talks, everyone listens, completely enamoured by him, by his energy, by the light that he emits.
There’s no doubt that his students love him, but even the parents—the parents and the guests have all of their attention on him as he explains the purpose of this event, their very first event. As Hoseok talks about the students—from kids to teenagers, to young adults wanting to make it big in the industry. He talks about their dreams and their passion, about success and how it’ll surely come to them. He talks about it with a dreamy smile on his face, because this has always been his dream. This has always been the benchmark of success for Hoseok.
And Yoongi thinks about that, how they’ve both gotten everything they’ve wanted out in life—Yoongi has become the photographer he’s always wanted to be, and Hoseok has pursued dance in all the ways that he could. Has opened his own academy. Works with the best to teach his students. To give them a stage to showcase their talents.
This is the benchmark for them.
One can almost say, this is just the starting line for the rest of their life.
Throughout the whole show, Yoongi watches with renewed interest, absolutely endeared by the little ones who start the program off and impressed off his feet by the older ones who close it, everyone’s smile the same whenever the song ends and the lights turn brighter—identical smiles of pride and success that turn softer and warmer and so, so thankful when Hoseok gathers them all for a group hug by the end of it all.
Hoseok and his students and the different instructors, all gathered in the middle as the lights dance around them and everyone in the hall gets to their feet, showering them in applause and cheers that they so rightfully deserve.
Yoongi doesn’t even realise just how hard he’s been clapping until the end of it, when his palms are sore and his cheeks hurt from smiling too much.
“That was something else,” Seokjin says as everyone else is making their way out of the hall, ready to go home to their kids and their families and their friends, ready to celebrate the success of the evening. “Wish Hoseok had danced, though,”
“Sorry to disappoint,” it’s Hoseok, jogging his way up the stairs to their little group. He raises a hand up to greet them, looking exhilarated. Like he’s on top of the world. “Maybe in the next one. But I wanted to keep this evening for the kids, y’know,”
Yoongi nods, like he knows, and Hoseok catches his eye, throws him a smile that looks less guarded and warmer. More thankful this time. It does something to Yoongi’s heart. It always does something to Yoongi, whenever he smiles.
“Hyung, you made it,” Hoseok’s talking to him this time, eyes dragging away from Namjoon and Jimin to the side to settle on Yoongi.
“Yeah—yeah, I guess I did,” and Yoongi wants to ask if it’s okay that he’s here, that Namjoon had invited him, he wants to, but then Hoseok beats him to it and says,
“Actually, I wanted to invite you myself, but I didn’t have your number, and I didn’t know how to contact you, so I just—I just asked Joon to ask you,” Hoseok sounds like he’s running out of breath just talking, cheeks a little bit pink. “I’m glad you’re here,”
Yoongi swallows. Nods rather slowly and ignores the obvious look that Seokjin’s throwing him. It’s a little bit too much looking up at Hoseok like this. A little bit too much to be in the same room as him after the success of this evening, with Hoseok absolutely blinding. Shining so bright Yoongi can’t help but squint.
It’s all a little bit too much and Yoongi likes it, because Hoseok's always been a little bit too much.
Actually, Yoongi kind of loves it.
So he smiles at Hoseok. A real, genuine smile that curves along his lips and reaches his eyes. A smile that Yoongi hasn’t smiled in a while.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world, Seok,” and the name rolls off his tongue easily, like it has in the past, and Hoseok blinks at it, a little bit caught off guard, but then he throws his head back and laughs, and all is kind of right with the world for the first time in a long time.
They have dinner, just the five of them after the recital. Hoseok insists that they all come with him, says that he’s already planned a celebratory dinner with his instructors for another day, that tonight it’s just going to be him, and will they really leave him alone when he just wants to eat barbecue and perhaps drink soju.
Jimin calls him out about drinking and Hoseok just laughs as he leads them to the subway and out, until Yoongi finds himself in the familiar streets of Gangnam, where home is just a few short minutes of brisk walking away.
When he’d moved in here, Seokjin had called him an absolutel snob. “Only snobs live in Gangnam,”
“You live in Gangnam, you asshole,” to which Seokjin had just laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and eventually laughed so much he’d fallen off the couch.
Yoongi hates him a little bit, but loves him a lot more.
“There’s a good place here,” Hoseok tells them, taking them down a road that twists and turns, and there’s so many people at this time of the night. It’s Friday, everyone getting loud, filled with energy that only the weekend can bring. It’s busy with everyone being out and about, and Yoongi’s about to trip when he bumps into Hoseok’s back.
He takes a step back immediately, but instead of letting him apologise, Hoseok just takes a look at the crowd, at everyone being swept away or pushed aside, and reaches behind him to grab Yoongi’s hand, fingers locking around Yoongi’s wrist to drag him along behind him.
Yoongi follows, cheeks burning, and heart racing.
If any of their friends notice, they don’t comment on it. Nobody comments on it unless they want the whole thing to explode in their faces.
Finally, when the roads get less crowded and they reach Hoseok’s favourite barbecue spot, he drops Yoongi’s hand, offers a sheepish smile, and then pushes through the doors, asking for a table for five and maybe two bottles of soju that he won’t really drink, but will pretend to sip on anyway.
Yoongi sure as hell doesn’t spend the rest of dinner thinking about how Hoseok holding onto his hand—his wrist—like that had set a fire inside of him. Has made his hand so, so warm, Yoongi’s afraid the fire will start to travel from his hand up to his shoulders, until it consumes him completely. Yoongi definitely doesn’t think about that, but instead just offers some pieces of meat to Seokjin, who takes it happily and trades it by passing Yoongi a wrap that’s stuffed with rice and meat and maybe half of a pepper that Yoongi almost chokes on but doesn’t, because that would only amuse Seokjin.
And the drinks come, but they mostly go to Jimin, who knocks it back with every other wrap that he passes to Namjoon or eats for himself. Yoongi is far too tired to drink and Hoseok’s never really been good at drinking, so they sit this one out.
Instead, Yoongi just takes the beer that Namjoon passes him, sipping at the foam for a second before he takes his first big gulp. It doesn’t taste too good, but it sure as hell tastes like all the late nights years ago when this was all they could do. All they could afford. Barbecue and soju and beer and makgeolli after they’ve all pooled their money together for one single night out like this.
Now, Yoongi’s pretty damn sure Hoseok can open his own restaurant. He was more than capable when it came to buying his own damn building in the centre of Seoul, so Yoongi definitely has no doubts about that.
They’ve all changed so much over the years and not at all.
Perhaps this is what they mean about the passing of time. About the seasons. Perhaps it’s less about the weather and more about the people themselves changing, inside and out. Four years has passed since the breakup but Yoongi feels like the season has been the same ever since inside of him. Winter. It’s just been one long winter with bursts of warm mornings here and there.
“Hyung, you’re amazing,” Jimin offers a toast to Hoseok, and they all follow, one shot each, even Hoseok, who winces as soon as he downs it. Jimin refills his glass immediately, and Namjoon just looks at him with horror, mouth hanging open, one hand trying to steady Jimin’s as he asks for another bottle of soju.
“And you’re drinking too much,” Seokjin isn’t one to talk, his words coming out in a slur. He slaps Jimin’s hand away from the bottle and drags it to his side of the table. Tries to offer it to Yoongi who shakes his head because he’s not up to it tonight. “Well then, more for me,”
They’re both awful. So, so awful, Yoongi can’t help but laugh, even as he throws Seokjin into a cab and Namjoon and Jimin into theirs.
They’ll be fine, Yoongi knows, watching as Jimin’s head lolls against Namjoon’s shoulder, hands clasped between them. They’ll always be fine, Yoongi thinks again, watching as the two cabs drive away.
When he looks at Hoseok beside him, cheeks a bit red from the alcohol—even the smallest amount has him reddening like an apple, and it’s still cute. Still endearing. Hoseok’s never grown out of that, at least.—Yoongi wonders if they’re fine, and as if reading his mind, Hoseok tilts his head, mouth quirking up into half a smile, and says,
“You wanna take a walk with me?” it’s a bit too late for a walk, but Yoongi nods, anyway, quickly falling into step beside Hoseok. “You live around here, right?”
“We’re a bit farther away, but I guess I could walk home,” Yoongi muses, thinking it might take him maybe fifteen or twenty minutes to walk in this state.
“Okay, I’ll walk you home, then,” Yoongi can’t even tell him otherwise, can’t hail a cab right now because Hoseok gives him a look that tells him there’s no way around it, and that Yoongi should just go along. So he does. Yoongi goes along with Hoseok, and for the first few minutes, they walk in complete silence, the chilly autumn air blowing past them.
It settles around Yoongi, as it always does, but it helps a little bit in sobering him up.
Looks like it’s helping Hoseok just fine, too, because they eventually start to talk—
Yoongi asks about the academy. When it had opened.
Hoseok tells him two months before they met again at Seokjin’s apartment. He also asks for how much longer Yoongi will be in the country.
“Maybe until the first half of next year,” Yoongi admits, sweeping a look over at Hoseok. “I have a big project,”
“D’you wanna tell me about this big project?” Hoseok asks, a little bit of mirth in his voice.
Yoongi smiles. “Yeah. But not now. When it’s more concrete. When it’s ready,”
“I’ll hold you to it,” Hoseok says, voice warm in such a cold night.
Yoongi lets that settle around him, too.
When they’re just a few more blocks away from his building, Yoongi stops just under a streetlamp. Tells Hoseok that he needs to smoke, just a quick one.
Hoseok helps him light his cigarette.
Yoongi has to steel himself for what he wants to say next. Has to brace himself. So he takes a long drag, tightens his fingers into a fist, and then lets it all out in one breath.
“I’m sorry if I didn’t see you sooner,” Yoongi tells him, not wanting to look at Hoseok, afraid of what he’ll see if he does. “It’s not that I didn’t want to see you again, it’s just—I couldn’t see you, not after what happened. Not after what I did,”
His hand is shaking and he doesn’t even realise it until Hoseok taps a finger on it. Until Hoseok mouths, breathe, hyung, breathe.
And Yoongi does. He breathes. Throws his cigarette away and tries to breathe again, this time in one big lungful. The air is crisp and too cold for three in the morning. He takes it all in until he feels a bit lightheaded.
“I’m sorry this didn’t come sooner, too,” Yoongi says slowly, wanting this to be right. He doesn’t want to mess this up. It took him four years, surely that’s enough time to practice saying he’s sorry. “Seok, I’m really sorry for what I did then. I—I know this doesn’t count for much, but I regretted it as soon as I said it. Have regretted it all this time,”
Hoseok’s face is unreadable, lips pursed, and eyes trained on Yoongi. He doesn’t look particularly annoyed or pissed, but Hoseok’s always been great at that—looking like he’s one thing when he isn’t.
“Y’know, you broke my heart, hyung,” Hoseok says, with little inflection in his voice. “Kind of ruined my life after you left, too, because—“ and here he pauses, tries to catch himself. He doesn’t break eye contact, though, even when all Yoongi wants is to look away. “I didn’t want you to leave, is the thing. But you did, and it kind of messed me up after,”
And then once more he says, “You broke my heart,”
If leaving Hoseok then had hurt so much Yoongi had felt like he was drowning, hearing what Yoongi had known all along is a different kind of hurt. It’s the kind of hurt that will stay with him for a long time, perhaps even longer than all the time that he’s missed Hoseok.
See, hearing Hoseok tell him he broke his heart is like Yoongi taking his camera, pointing it at something, and the camera refusing to work. It is all that he’s had in these years, and now he thinks he doesn’t even have it anymore, not when he can’t see anything worth capturing through the viewfinder.
“You didn’t say goodbye, hyung,” Hoseok continues, looking like he’s on the brink of tears, and Yoongi hates it. He hates himself. Hates how it has come to this. How years later he’s still making Hoseok cry.
“I didn’t give you the goodbye you needed, Seok, I’m—I’m sorry,” Yoongi takes a step closer to him, wipes away the first tear that rolls down Hoseok’s cheek.
When Hoseok looks at him, all Yoongi can see is heartbreak so evident it hurts like a hundred knives to his back. This must be what it feels like to hold someone for the last time and realise that this is all you’re ever going to get. This is what the Earth must have felt like when the continents drifted farther and farther away from each other until Pangea ceased to exist.
“I don’t think I can ever forgive myself for what happened,” Yoongi continues, teeth worrying on his lower lip.
Hoseok isn’t crying anymore, but he does look hurt. All the walls are down and there’s no more reason for him to be guarded, not when Yoongi is open like this. Not when this is the first time Yoongi’s ever truly bared himself open to someone else.
“The difference between you and me is that I did, hyung,” Hoseok pauses, eyes shining with unshed tears. He doesn’t look too good. He doesn’t look too happy. He looks hurt, still, and Yoongi wishes he could wipe the pain away as easily as he’d wiped that tear from his cheek. “I forgave you after a while,”
“You really shouldn’t have,” Yoongi wants another cigarette. He wants to be holding on to something, so he isn’t picking on his hang nails. He wants something to do with his hands so he isn’t tempted to bite at his nails, even, and—
And Hoseok knows exactly what he needs because Hoseok tilts his head in a question, looks at Yoongi’s shaking hands, and then takes it into his own. Hoseok’s hands are cold from the night air but Yoongi welcomes it, anyway.
Hoseok wraps his fingers around Yoongi’s, gives it a squeeze, and continues.
“I forgave you before you even thought about forgiving yourself, hyung,” Hoseok murmurs, holding onto his hands, because without him Yoongi would have dug his nails so hard into the inside of his palms there would be scars the next day. He would have bled here and now, if Hoseok didn’t take his hands in his.
If Hoseok isn’t holding his hands, now.
“No, Seok, what I did—that was terrible, and I was terrible, and maybe I still am, and you don’t have to forgive me for that—“
But Hoseok shakes his head, folds his fingers around Yoongi’s, and offers a sad, watery smile.
“Yoongi,” He says Yoongi’s name like it’s the only name he’s ever said, and Yoongi listens, doesn’t say anything else, because when Hoseok calls his name, all Yoongi can ever hear is the sound of his own heart thundering in his ears. All he can see is Hoseok looking at him with eyes that aren’t supposed to be kind. “I’m really glad that you’re back,”
“I’m glad to be back, too,” Yoongi says, hearing the rawness in his own voice. He sounds like he might have been crying.
Hoseok touches a finger to his cheek, swiping at Yoongi’s own tear this time, and Yoongi realises that his eyes are getting a little bit blearier every time he blinks, and oh, he’s been crying. He’s crying, isn’t he? He is.
“I mean, it’s not perfect. This isn’t perfect, and it hasn’t been easy, but I really liked us as friends,” There’s a pause there, and all Yoongi’s brain can supply is, best friends, best friends, you were my best friend. We were best friends before I fucked it up. Hoseok squeezes on his hand again, and peers at Yoongi’s face, smiling a little bit too fondly at the sight of Yoongi trying not to cry, and god, Hoseok’s so, so beautiful, even when everything else is blurry and his eyes sting from the tears. Hoseok will always be beautiful the same way Yoongi will always be an idiot. “If we could try to be friends again, that would be nice. Really nice,”
Yoongi nods. He nods more eagerly than anything, and he wants to say, Anything, anything for you, Seok. Anything to make it up to you. Quickly followed by, You don’t need to, but—but thank you, and Yoongi doesn’t have the courage to say that at all, and what will Hoseok think if he does. He’ll think him more insane than normal, so he holds it all in and instead blurts out,
“I’d do anything for you, Seok,” and that’s clearly not any better than the litany of anything, anything, anything and everything in his head, but at least it’s something that gets a smile out of Hoseok, smile curving over his lips, eyes bright and glittering with all the stars that have hidden from behind the clouds tonight.
Slowly, Hoseok slips his fingers through the spaces between Yoongi’s, properly holding his hand, now.
Their hands are clasped between them and it’s such a good feeling Yoongi almost starts crying again because he’s held several other’s hands after Hoseok, but none of them have felt like this. None of them have felt like the sight of land after years and years out at sea.
None of them have felt like the guiding light of a beacon as he steers out of the rough waters of the ocean and into the arms of the harbour.
“You have to believe me when I say I forgive you,” Hoseok tells him, looking at their clasped hands. “What you did wasn’t okay. You know that better than anyone, I think, but it’s been years, and I’ve—I’ve had a lot of thinking done, and I forgave you, eventually. So now I think you have to forgive yourself, too,”
“I don’t think I can,” Yoongi’s voice cracks, and Hoseok must hear it because he’s back to looking into Yoongi’s face, the smile that he offers an olive branch.
“You can try,” Hoseok is gentle, he always is. Gentle hands, gentle eyes, gentle voice, gentle smile, and a gentle heart that Yoongi had taken in his own hands and crushed. “You can try and we’ll both move on,”
Here, Yoongi startles, eyes widening, because he’s only been back a short time. He—he doesn’t want to move, not anywhere, and certainly not on, and it’s selfish. Yoongi has always been selfish, but he says it, anyway, says,
“I don’t want to move on from you,” for the first time since Hoseok had taken his hand, Yoongi grips on to his tighter. Holds onto it like a man gripping tightly to a lifeline as he flounders out in the cold, dark ocean. “I want to stay this time, Seok. I want—I want us to be friends again,”
It’s a start, because you have to start somewhere, and Yoongi knows that this isn’t safe anymore, but he wants them to be friends again as much as Hoseok wants him to forgive himself. And it comes hand in hand, he thinks. Yoongi has always been a better person around his friends. Has always strived to be better with them. For them.
Hoseok is no different.
Yoongi strives to be better for him. Will always strive to be better, given their history, and he doesn’t mind. Life is a lot of hard work, and this—this is the least he can do, of course.
“Nobody has to go anywhere, I think,” Hoseok smiles, tugging on Yoongi’s hand so they can start walking again. It’s getting cold, but Hoseok’s hand in his is warm. Hoseok next to him is warm. Hoseok’s smile is warm. Hoseok is warm. “Move on from the hurt and forgive yourself. We can start again,”
“You were my best friend,” Yoongi admits, following after Hoseok.
This time, he knows exactly what his footsteps right next to Hoseok sound like. This time, his nightmares seem to be far, far away. This time, Yoongi feels at ease.
“Yeah, and you were mine,” Hoseok murmurs, bumping their shoulders together. They’ve stopped holding hands, but Hoseok’s warmth has lingered. “I’d like to have my best friend back, I think,”
And it’s going to be hard and nothing will be perfect anymore—perhaps nothing ever was perfect to start with, but still—but still Yoongi will try. They’ll both try.
Hoseok’s smile at three in the morning is brighter than the rising sun in a few hours time, Yoongi is sure of that. Because the sun may be beautiful but it has nothing against Hoseok, not when Hoseok’s warmth lingers hours after their conversation, when Yoongi is in bed and all tucked in. It stays even after Yoongi wakes up at eleven in the morning to the smell of peppermint tea and muffins, courtesy of one Kim Taehyung who had let himself in to his apartment.
“Good morning,” Taehyung greets him by the kitchen counter, “Hope you don’t mind,”
And Yoongi takes the muffin that Taehyung offers, takes his hand, and then pulls him into a hug that Taehyung immediately falls into, hands coming around Yoongi, holding Yoongi tights as he shakes, breath rattling out of him as he says, “Tae, Tae—I apologised. I told him I was sorry,”
“I’m proud of you, hyung,” Taehyung says, pressing a kiss to the top of Yoongi’s head. “I missed having you two around.”
They try to work things out, and everyone notices, because Yoongi and Hoseok aren’t exactly back to being completely fine and perfect with each other, but they are back to being Yoongi and Hoseok, even if the first few attempts need a lot of oiling, the joints still creaking. It takes a lot of adjustments, actually, a lot of working towards the same goal. Working towards each other.
But eventually, they get into the swing of things.
Eventually, they laugh, and bicker, and they argue for real, and it’s just like old times except that it isn’t, not exactly, but it’s nice. It’s miles and miles better than where they had been just a few months ago.
The dust settles.
Yoongi thinks he’s in a better place, too. One of the best places in the four years that have passed. He’s sleeping better, but he still dreams about Hoseok walking away, only this time, the sound of his footsteps never really disappear. He hears him walking, sometimes closer, sometimes farther, but he’s always there, always walking. Yoongi is just stuck perpetually waiting. But it’s better.
Things are better.
Life is better for everyone, it seems.
Taehyung has been getting modelling gigs left and right and Yoongi loves it, loves seeing the younger boy thrive, doing what he loves. He’s started to get into painting, too and it’s absolutely a thing of wonder to be able to see someone enjoying their craft and falling in love with something new, over and over again.
It’s during one of Taehyung’s photoshoots that Yoongi calls everyone who’s available up.
It happens only Hoseok is available, but that’s not a problem. They don’t make it a problem anymore.
“Am I going to see any celebrities?” Hoseok asks, stepping into the studio. It’s busy with models getting ready, staff and editors and directors, and everyone else in between just being all over the place.
Seeing Hoseok here, surrounded by some of the industry’s finest, Yoongi thinks just how well he looks. How he blends in perfectly, but stands out rather sharply, too, because Hoseok is beautiful, he really is, and if he wanted, he could get a career in modelling, in fashion. If he wants to, Hoseok can take the world by storm. Yoongi is sure about that.
They find Taehyung getting ready, fawned over by stylists and coordinators and the director himself, telling him just how he wants Taehyung to go, how he wants this whole spread to look, and beside him, there’s his manager, rubbing Taehyung’s shoulders, the smile on his face one a look of pride because everyone here knows that Taehyung’s worked hard for this, that nothing is ever handed to anyone on a silver platter. Nothing.
When he sees them, Taehyung gets up from his chair, opens his arms up for a hug, and Yoongi and Hoseok both hesitate, because he hasn’t done his shoot yet, but he’s already in full outfit and makeup, and there’s no way they’re getting yelled at just by giving Taehyung a hug, so they pat him on the shoulder instead and smile at him.
“Maybe later, Tae, when you’re out of the clothes and done,” Hoseok says, smiling all too fondly at Taehyung who lets out a cheeky little laugh.
Yoongi is dragged somewhere to the side by the director himself, who asks just how he’s been these past few weeks, if he’s up to anything, “How’s the exhibition coming along?”
“It’s coming,” Yoongi shrugs, because that’s all he can say. He has all the needed photos, maybe except for some few ones here and there, but for the most part, he’s got it down. Concept and theme and venue, and everything. The only thing that he hasn’t done yet is tell people, but that can come later. He wants to get it all ready before anything else. “I’ll see you at the opening, yeah?”
He gets a smile from the director, who throws a thumbs up too and says, rather enthusiastically, “You know we love you, Yoongi. Of course we’re going to be there,”
And it’s been fun, working in this industry. Yoongi loves his job and not a lot of people can say that. He realises just how lucky he is to be doing something he’s passionate about.
Looking at Hoseok standing off to the side, intently watching Taehyung as he starts his shoot, Yoongi thinks, not for the first time, of how lucky he’s gotten in life.
Halfway through, and with Taehyung back in hair and makeup, Yoongi and Hoseok sneak out for a little bit, Hoseok to prattle on about how interesting the whole process had been, and Yoongi to smoke.
He listens and watches as Hoseok talks with his hands, from all the models to the set design, to every little thing that he’d noticed, and it’s lovely listening to Hoseok, too, to watch the interest flit from his eyes to his smile, to watch his face bright with questions that he asks Yoongi immediately, too many at once that Yoongi raises a hand up to slow him down.
“I mean, if you want to see me, specifically, at work, then I have this trip in two weeks,” Hoseok’s face falls considerably when Yoongi mentions trip, Hoseok’s mouth turned down in an almost-frown that Yoongi wants to wipe away, and he realises his mistake quickly enough because he adds, rather sheepishly and with too much fervour in his voice, “I mean—Seok, it’s going to be in Jeju. You can come, if you want. It’d be—it’d be nice, I think. Only if you want,”
The sigh that Hoseok lets out is so audible Yoongi doesn’t even know what it’s supposed to mean, but Hoseok does look more relieved, now.
“I want to,” Hoseok says, smiling. “That sounds nice. All expenses paid trip to Jeju. Get that VIP treatment, finally,”
Yoongi rolls his eyes at that because he knows for a fact that Hoseok’s more than capable of paying for his own VIP treatment, but Yoongi doesn’t call him out on that bluff and instead just smiles back.
They stand in front of each other smiling for a while until Hoseok exclaims rather suddenly, “Why don’t you stop by the studio sometime this week?”
“That’s okay?” Yoongi asks, and he gets furrowed brows in return.
“Hyung, you have to stop asking if everything’s okay, because I’ll tell you if it’s not, and this—“ He gestures to the two of them. Whatever this is. Friends. “This is okay, yeah? You’re fine. I already told you—we’re moving to better things,” the together is unsaid but Yoongi hears it loud and clear, anyway, because he smiles. Feels his heart warm up and squeeze in all the right ways.
“Alright, I should have Friday free, then,” Yoongi says warily, poking at Hoseok’s cheek just to get the younger boy to drop the pout because it certainly isn’t doing Yoongi any favours—but it is doing Hoseok all the favours. God, anything. Everything. Whatever Hoseok wants.
“Okay,” Hoseok says, his smile much, much easier this time. Lighter.
Okay, Yoongi thinks to himself when Friday comes and he finds himself outside Hoseok’s studio. He just has to take a few steps inside, talk to the receptionist, and be directed to the room Hoseok’s teaching in. That’s all Yoongi needs to do, but it takes him ages to move, ages to even take the needed few steps into the building.
But he musters up the strength because Hoseok’s expecting him and Yoongi would be damned to let him down, so he walks up the steps, tells the lady behind the counter that he’s here for Hoseok, and she looks at him funny for a second before she nods, asking him to follow her because he’s in a class right now but he’s a friend so it should be fine, it should be fine, and—
And it’s fine, it really is, though the sight of Hoseok dancing in front of his more advanced students is definitely not fine, and while Yoongi hasn’t forgotten just how well Hoseok can dance, his memory has sort of glossed over the effect it has on him.
Yoongi finds a seat at the back of the room, everyone far too busy looking at Hoseok to pay attention to him. And with good reason, too, because there’s no way you can look away from him. No way Yoongi’s missing anything when Hoseok moves like water, every step clean and exactly to the beat. Hoseok isn’t only dancing, he’s performing, directing the music however way he wants. It’s an art form with him, and Yoongi realises it now, as he had realised it back then, so many years ago—the only thing that’s truly changed is that now more people get to see just how talented Hoseok is. How he’s truly mastered his craft.
The song ends quicker than Yoongi would have liked, but it ends to a room of applause so that makes it just the slightest bit better.
He watches as Hoseok talks to his students, tells them that he’ll be walking them through the routine tomorrow, and that class is over for today, all of that inspirational things that Hoseok’s good at, and before Yoongi knows it, everyone’s already left, leaving the room empty except for him and Hoseok, who’s towelling his hair off, still breathing rather hard from the performance.
Yoongi pads over to where he’s standing in front of the large floor-to-ceiling mirrors, trying not to let his eyes linger too much on Hoseok’s reflection, because it’s so obvious here, the room wide and bright and mirrors everyfuckingwhere and there’s no way Yoongi’s going to slip, no way he’s going to do something odd and strange and ruin it all and get caught. No way.
Instead, he says, “I think I cried,” because his brain-to-mouth filter is fucked, anyway.
Hoseok barks out a surprised laugh. “Shut up,” he says, and then, more sheepishly, “How was it?”
“Amazing, Seok,” Yoongi says, already feeling the smile creeping up his face. “Absolutely fucking amazing, I don’t know how you do it but—but it was great, yeah? You looked beautiful,” the last part Yoongi whispers, realising a little bit too late that perhaps he’s not allowed to say anything like that, not after what happened.
If Hoseok minds, he doesn’t show it, instead, he just ducks his head, cutting eye contact, and giggles. Actually giggles that cute little high-pitched giggle he does when he’s nervous.
“Yeah?” Hoseok asks, slinging the towel over his shoulder. When he looks up, Yoongi notices how his cheeks are pinker, more flushed. He looks like he’s blushing but it could also just be from the heat and from dancing a full routine like that, because there’s no way Hoseok’s blushing at anything Yoongi’s said. No way. “It’s nice having you here, hyung, it really is,”
It’s Yoongi’s turn to blush, if only just a little bit, “I can visit again, if you want,”
“I can teach you how to dance,” Hoseok counters, more playful than anything.
Yoongi immediately takes a step back, because he doesn’t dance. Looking like a complete idiot in front of everyone else? Yeah, that’s just not his thing.
“No, no, I’d rather I just watched,” because it’s nice watching Hoseok, completely in a trance as Hoseok commands every single piece of everyone’s attention. Yoongi doesn’t think he’ll ever look away from Hoseok dancing for anything, really.
“One day, Min Yoongi, one day,” Hoseok taunts, his laugh sing-song and melodic. “One day, I’ll get you to dance.”
Yoongi just shakes his head, a little voice inside of him already telling him to brace for it, because there’s only very little things Yoongi can say no to when it comes to Hoseok, and perhaps dancing is not on that list. Perhaps.
But for now, he just plops himself down on the floor, looks up at Hoseok, and says, “Well, show me another dance, then,”
Hoseok narrows his eyes at him, throws the towel somewhere to Yoongi’s side, and says, “Only because you asked so nicely.”
The trip isn’t bad. Actually, it’s great. They have a great time. The first half of the day Yoongi is too busy taking photos, but the beauty of not being confined to an indoor set is that he has all the liberty with his shots, with his direction. He’s working with three models today, all three with personalities so different they almost clash once or twice during the shoot, but Yoongi levels them with a stare, reminds them that they’re here on official business, and they all sink back into the swing of things. They all manage to get through the morning unscathed.
Hoseok passes him a water bottle as soon as Yoongi throws himself into a chair. He pulls his scarf tighter around his neck. It’s so, so cold out here in autumn. Even colder because they’re by the ocean.
Again, Hoseok prods at Yoongi’s cheek with the water bottle, and Yoongi offers a tired smile to him and takes it.
“Thanks, Seok,” Yoongi sighs, obviously tired.
Hoseok moves behind him, folds his fingers on either side of his shoulders, and starts to squeeze, applying gentle pressure every now and again as he massages Yoongi’s shoulders. Says it’s what he does for a lot of his dancers, that he’s gotten pretty good at it over the years.
“Is it good?” Hoseok asks, voice low. So close to Yoongi’s ear.
“Real good,” Yoongi sighs, sinking under Hoseok’s touch. Pretending that this isn’t weird—actually, no. He’s not pretending, not anymore, because it doesn’t have to be weird and it isn’t. Hoseok’s his friend again and friends do this, even if Yoongi still feels guilty and wrong. Even when all he wants is for Hoseok to get angry with him. Really angry.
But they’re in Jeju and the skies are clear and blue even if the ocean looks like it’s ready to start crying. It’s cold outside but looking up at the sky, it makes Yoongi think that perhaps the sun isn’t too far away, that the warmth is just around the corner.
“Anything else planned for tonight?” Hoseok asks, hoisting himself up on the table across from Yoongi.
“Nothing anymore this afternoon,” Yoongi admits, looking away from the camera in his hands to look at Hoseok. “You wanna take a walk?”
“A walk by the beach?” Hoseok asks, eyes glinting. “That doesn’t sound romantic or anything, sure,”
That sure as hell gets a colour in Yoongi’s cheeks. He sputters out a reply, but Hoseok just laughs that sing-song laugh of his and Yoongi is lost, drowning all over again.
Hoseok has a habit of setting the strongest waves against him only to pull him right back up to the surface of the ocean. Hoseok has that hold on him.
Yoongi wonders what he has on Hoseok—heartbreak, maybe. Friendship that will never be the same. Hah.
But he doesn’t have enough time to dwell too much on that, because his secretary calls them all over for a seafood lunch with everyone. It’s a noisy affair, with the models squabbling over each other and the rest of Yoongi’s staff laughing, celebrating the end of their two-day stint here in Jeju.
They could have finished it all within the day had the sun not been so downcast—and this is one of the downsides of filming outside. You end up relying too much on the sun. On natural lighting. But Yoongi doesn’t mind. He likes having free time in the afternoon. Wants to take that walk with Hoseok.
The coast isn’t too bad here, either. It’s beautiful and with everyone retreating back into the hotel where it’s warm and cosy, Yoongi and Hoseok slip into thicker coats, scarves wrapped more loosely around their necks, and venture out into the cold.
Yoongi takes his camera because if there’s one thing he’s missed from being apart from Hoseok, then it’s that he’s lost his number one subject. He’ll never say it out loud, but Hoseok had been his muse then. Every photo of Hoseok deserving of a spot on the wall.
He takes photos today, too, raises his camera up to his eye when Hoseok isn’t aware. Takes a few test shots, smiling way too fondly when he looks at the previews, when he sees Hoseok turning slowly, frame by frame, until he’s looking at Yoongi, face caught off guard at Yoongi taking photos before it morphs into a smile.
Hoseok looks good against the backdrop of the sky and the ocean. Hoseok looks like its where he belongs.
“Can I see?” Hoseok asks, peering down at Yoongi’s camera.
Yoongi shakes his head, “No, but I can take more pictures, if you don’t mind,”
“Only if you make me look good in all of them,” Hoseok teases, eyes glittering the same way the sun makes the surface of the ocean glitter, like there are little diamonds scattered just under the surface.
“You always look good,” Yoongi murmurs, more under his breath than anything. “Always beautiful, Seok,”
Hoseok doesn’t hear him, the wind whipping the words out of Yoongi’s mouth, taking them far, far away, maybe up to the skies. Maybe up to Heaven, if there’s ever one.
But the important thing is.
The important thing is not that Hoseok didn’t hear, but that Hoseok’s having fun. Head tossed back in laughter as he throws his shoes to Yoongi and braves the cold to step into the water. He shivers, lets out a shriek, “Hyung, hyung, it’s cold, Yoongi hyung,” and Yoongi actually lets his camera just dangle from his neck because he’s bending down to laugh.
Yoongi laughs so hard he starts to cough, cheeks hurting. Hoseok’s an idiot. He really is, and Yoongi loves it. Loves that that hasn’t changed, not in the least. Yoongi loves him, he—
Yoongi loves Hoseok.
The realisation comes to him as cold as the water Hoseok splashes at him, in retaliation for Yoongi just staring at him and laughing. It sobers Yoongi up quickly enough that he swipes Hoseok’s shoes out of the sand and tosses it back to him, says, “You’re going to get sick and Jimin’s going to kill me,”
Hoseok sniffles but puts his socks on, anyway, and toes back into his shoes. He jogs to catch up with Yoongi, bumping their shoulders playfully, laugh still lingering in his eyes and in his face while Yoongi is frozen on the inside, because a little voice in him had said that he might love Hoseok, now.
That perhaps he’s never stopped loving him.
“We should come back,” Hoseok tells him, mirth alive in his eyes and the stars blinking in all the constellations that have managed to settle in Hoseok’s gaze. “When it’s warm and I’m not going to die from hypothermia,”
“Yeah,” Yoongi agrees, feeling a bit too shaken, his brain like a truck speeding in a school zone, yelling, I love him, I love him, I still love him. I’m in love with him—and.
And Yoongi catches the look on Hoseok’s face, how open he is, now. Compares it to the first night they’d seen each other. How guarded he was then. How different he is, now. How it’s starting to look like the Hoseok from four years ago, but not quite. Yoongi sees all of that and he clenches a fist around the feeling. Takes his heart and shoves it deep, deep into the same room he always dreams of, where it’s dark and a single lightbulb swings over his head. Yoongi throws it in there, locks it. Destroys it.
There is no way he’s going to trade this for anything.
“Yeah, that would be perfect, I think,” Yoongi finds his voice again. Says it in a way that he hopes makes him sound stronger. “Bring everyone else?”
“I—yeah, we can,” Hoseok doesn’t sound as happy, but there’s a smile on his face at that, and for now, they leave it, the same way Yoongi leaves the sudden feeling of love, love, love somewhere deep and dark inside of him, hoping to never revisit it, but knowing that it’s hopeless. He’s hopeless with Hoseok. Around Hoseok. For Hoseok.
Hopeless the same way it’s hopeless to wish the sunset would last longer when you know it doesn’t work like that. Hopeless for them to wish for warmth when it’s starting to get late and dark, when the only light they have is from the moon that hangs high up in the sky and the stars scattered everywhere above them, blinking bright, brighter, brightest. Burning with the intensity of a star that’s long since been dead, but is still very much alive when you look at it from a safe distance like Earth.
Just like how Yoongi looks at Hoseok, knowing that whatever they had then has died, but he still can’t help it. Hoseok is burning, burning, burning, brighter, and beautiful, and Yoongi is hopeless.
He says as much when they manage to lay down one of Yoongi’s scarves into an impromptu mat, the both of them sat staring out at the ocean, the waves rolling against the shore, one quick kiss of good evening before it pulls away back into the sea again, as if to say, but I’ll be back, darling. And it does. It comes back again and again.
It comes back.
The same way Yoongi’s eyes always come back up to look at Hoseok, who’s already looking at him, an easy smile on his face.
There’s a very sudden shift in Hoseok’s gaze. His smile turning a little bit sadder, eyes darker, and the ocean breeze that blows past them feeling almost kind of bitter in how cold it suddenly is.
“Y’know, I found myself thinking a lot about you over the past few years. Missed you from time to time, I guess,” there is no hurt in Hoseok’s voice, though. Only a dazed wonder. “I kinda never stopped missing you, if it makes sense,”
Without even thinking about it, Yoongi says, almost immediately, “I missed you, too,” and then, once more, very quietly, “And I fucked up—I know I did, and I still haven’t forgiven myself but—but I’m trying, yeah? I’m trying, but it’s still here, and all these years I thought I wasn’t allowed to miss you, but now that you’re back I feel like I can, so I miss you all the time, still,”
Yoongi misses Hoseok even when he’s right next to him, looking at him like he’s waiting on a breath, on a whisper. Waiting for Yoongi to start praying.
Very slowly, Hoseok lifts his hand to touch Yoongi’s cheek. Let’s his thumb graze carefully over his cheek, the smile on his face one that takes Yoongi back to four years ago, when all they’d do in the early morning was stare at each other, Yoongi with his fingers brushing through Hoseok’s hair, and Hoseok looking at him with this same smile. A little bit in love, a little bit in awe. A little bit of everything.
Yoongi looks at Hoseok the same way, heart on his sleeve.
“What have we become, Yoongi?” Hoseok doesn’t mean for it to hurt, because it’s not supposed to, he doesn’t sound bitter, or upset. He just sounds like he genuinely wants to know, and Yoongi knows, he knows very well, so he shakes his head, closes his eyes, and lets the sound of the ocean tide rolling against the shore fill him, inside and out. Lets the cool sea breeze touch his cheek. Lets Hoseok cup one side of his face, gently cradling it in his hand.
Yoongi lets himself breathe.
“I don’t know,” Yoongi admits, because he’s got his heart on his sleeve and there’s no denying it, no hiding it at this point. “All I know is that I used to look at you and feel like I was drowning,”
Hoseok always held his hand, always kept Yoongi warm in winter, even before they fell into each other. Even when they were still roommates, laughing, bickering, harbouring secret crushes that they whispered to all of their friends. To everyone but each other.
“But then—Hoseok—god, Seokseok, you held my hand and it’s like you pull me out of the water every time. I still get that feeling, now,” Yoongi tears his gaze from Hoseok, looking at his hands. His empty hands.
Yoongi closes his eyes again and before he knows it, he feels Hoseok drop his hand from his cheek only to close it around Yoongi’s hand, fingers slipping through the spaces. It’s not perfect, because Yoongi’s fingers are too long, Hoseok’s too skinny, but it’s wonderful. It fills Yoongi’s heart until it’s spilling out, until his hands are shaking.
They’re shaking so much Hoseok tightens his hold around them, clasping at their intertwined fingers.
“Like this?” Hoseok asks, softly.
Yoongi doesn’t say it out loud, doesn’t say that he’s felt like he was drowning ever since he left. Ever since he came back and realised that Hoseok was gone. Gone, gone, gone. Yoongi doesn’t say it.
Now, he opens his eyes, swallows past all the words he wants to say, and smiles, rather sadly, but also relieved, too, because he’s coming back up for air again, breaking through the glittering ocean surface only to be greeted by the blue sky that stretches for as long as he can see. For as long as there is an ocean around him.
“Yeah,” Yoongi breathes, squeezing on Hoseok’s hand. “Just like this.”
Everything is totally fine and great, it really is, sure, Yoongi wants to jump into the nearest active volcano, but aside from that, he’s fine. His hands still burn from when Hoseok had held on to them, his cheeks dusted rosy and pink from how hard he’d blushed back in the beach, hoping against hope that Hoseok wouldn’t notice. If Hoseok did notice, he made no indication.
Perhaps this is what’s good about them. They can sweep things under the rug so easily.
Perhaps this is what’s awful about them, too. They can sweep things under the rug so easily.
Yoongi’s more than ready to retire after that long stretch of a day when he calls his secretary to ask for his and Hoseok’s room number.
She pauses for a second. He hears soft music filtering through the phone. Hears her start to pace, voice a little unsteady when she says, “But sir, you only booked one room,”
Yoongi’s fingers tighten around his phone.
“Okay,” he says, there’s still a way out of this. “Okay, right. But I told you Hoseok was coming, didn’t I? My room should have two—“
She cuts him off.
“No, you didn’t tell me he was coming,” it clicks, then, how Yoongi had arranged Hoseok’s trip himself. Booked the tickets and basically just fit Hoseok into the middle of his busy schedule, because this is Hoseok, and Yoongi will be damned if he doesn’t make time for him.
His secretary clears her throat.
“I thought you had set it all up,” she sounds like she’s seconds from apologising, and Yoongi stops her before she can. So she keeps going, instead, “I left yours and Mr. Jung’s luggage in your room. There’s—“
“Only one bed,” Yoongi says to Hoseok in the elevator, phone lost in one of his coat pockets, and face absolutely pale.
He watches Hoseok’s reaction in the mirror. It’s a mixture of surprise and a little bit of horror, quickly masked by nervous laughter.
Hoseok doesn’t say anything until they walk into Yoongi’s suite to find a king sized bed right in the middle of it.
There’s a couch in the adjoining room, and Yoongi offers it. For himself, of course, but Hoseok just toes off his shoes, walks over to his luggage, and starts rifling through it, dragging out his pyjamas and hair brush.
“No, no, I should take the couch. You have a busy day tomorrow,” Hoseok says, straightening up. He eyes the bed a little wryly.
“No, no,” this is going to take them all night, just arguing, insisting. Yoongi knows it. Hoseok knows it.
Which is why Hoseok just rolls his eyes, tosses Yoongi one of the spare towels, and says, “We’ll share. It’s fine, no big deal—if you don’t mind, that is,”
Yoongi wrings his fingers in the towel. Lets the weight of Hoseok’s words settle in his mind. In the back of his throat. Finally, Yoongi nods, a little stiffly.
“Yeah, yeah, that should be okay,” Yoongi is feeling a little punch drunk from the ocean breeze, but he’s completely sober. He is, although he supposes this whole sleeping arrangement may just be easier if he had been drinking.
Or worse, probably. Yoongi decides it might just be worse if they’d both been drinking. So this is, as Hoseok had said, no big deal. It’s fine.
Hoseok gestures for Yoongi to shower first, telling him not to take too long because he’s sticky from the beach and he’s pretty sure he’s going to be tracking sand everywhere he goes after that stint with the water, and it’s only because he wants Yoongi to settle in first that he allows him the first shower. Only, and not because he’s concerned or anything, wanting Yoongi to rest. Hoseok says as much.
Yoongi just rolls his eyes and calls out a distant, “Sure, whatever you say,”
“I’ll check the room out,” Hoseok says, as if there’s much of the room to check.
There’s none, but Yoongi indulges him, anyway. The day had been weird enough, their afternoon even stranger. There’s no reason for the evening to be as difficult. So Yoongi showers first, lets the water burn, burn, burn, warm, warm, warm, until it’s almost unbearable, and he turns it the other way around, cold water splashing down his arms and his legs.
Hoseok doesn’t take that long in the shower, either, and Yoongi most certainly doesn’t tease him about his purple pyjamas. He doesn’t.
“Seok, those are kinda cute,” Yoongi points out, smirking at Hoseok’s choice of sleepwear.
Hoseok rolls his eyes at Yoongi’s more than basic sleep-shirt, and says, “Namjoon gave it to me. As a present,”
Right. Because Namjoon’s the type of person who’d give pyjamas during your birthday.
Yoongi had gotten pink pyjamas on his last birthday, too.
“Anyway, scoot over, this is my side of the bed,” Hoseok throws his phone and the extra blankets and pillows on the left, and Yoongi promptly rolls over to the other side.
Yoongi also most certainly does not comment on how this had been how they slept before, too. Hoseok on the left, Yoongi on the right, until they’d both roll right over to the middle, hands and legs tangled, Hoseok burrowing close, close, closer, until he’s latched onto Yoongi, keeping him warm, warm, warm.
Yoongi’s cheeks burn at the memory.
Instead of thinking of that, instead of torturing himself with the mental image, Yoongi scoots back to Hoseok’s side of the bed—it’s huge. A king size is huge, even for two grown men.—and snatches the brush Hoseok’s holding, tells him to sit still, please.
“That’s nice,” Hoseok murmurs, leaning against Yoongi as he brushes his hair, trying to untangle the knots from the blow dryer. “Really nice,”
“This still makes you sleepy?” it’s not supposed to be a question, because Yoongi already knows, but a small part of him still asks because what if Hoseok’s grown out of it. What if.
Hoseok lets out a yawn, stretches a little bit, and grabs the brush from Yoongi’s hand. Lets it clatter on the bedside table, and says, “Yeah, it does. But it’s so nice,”
“It is,” Yoongi says, slipping under the covers because Hoseok’s getting ready for bed, languid and easy and glowing from the shower, the orange lamp in the room colouring him in, making him look warm, warm, warm. “Come here, then,”
Yoongi doesn’t expect Hoseok to come close, close, close, so close until there’s barely any space between them, but Hoseok does, crosses the little barrier between them, back against Yoongi as Yoongi combs his fingers through Hoseok’s hair.
They’re so, so close like this, Yoongi almost doesn’t breathe.
“This is okay?” Yoongi asks, carding through Hoseok’s hair, applying gentle pressure here and there to his scalp, because he knows Hoseok likes it. Will be asleep any second now, Yoongi is positive.
Hoseok yawns again, this time sounding much more tired.
“It’s perfect, hyung,” Hoseok’s voice is heavy, ready for sleep. Yoongi is, too, but he’ll stay up the extra few minutes just doing this with no problem.
Hoseok’s hair is like satin against his fingers. Smooth and untangled. In the morning it’ll be messy and kind of fluffy and Hoseok will look like he’s taken a bird’s nest and used it as a hat, but it’ll be cute. It’ll be cute and Yoongi will laugh, and that—that’s going to be in the morning. He has to get through the night, first.
There’s quiet for a few long moments, Hoseok’s breathing even, like he’s fallen asleep.
Yoongi draws his hand back, careful not to let his fingers catch in Hoseok’s hair, not to rouse him from sleep.
As soon as Yoongi settles back into his side of the bed, a little too close to the edge, just to give space between them, Hoseok shuffles, following Yoongi’s lead, moving a little farther away from him.
It doesn’t hurt, not really.
Yoongi thinks sleeping so close to Hoseok like that would have hurt more than actually sleeping on either side of the bed. So close and not being able to touch. Not being able to love him the way Hoseok’s always wanted. Needed.
The way Yoongi should have, four years ago, before he ran out like a coward.
But Yoongi isn’t any braver today, because he doesn’t say anything. Just closes his eyes and waits for sleep that doesn’t come quickly enough, not when Hoseok starts to talk again, voice sleep-heavy and dreamy, like he’s half in, half out of sleep. A perfect in-between.
“Hyung, tell me about you,” Hoseok says, tugging the blanket higher over his shoulder. “I wanna hear about the past four years. Wanna hear about how you’ve been doing,”
Yoongi can’t gauge what Hoseok wants to hear, what Hoseok needs to hear, because he’s faced away from him.
At the same time, Yoongi also doesn’t want to tell him that the past four years has been pretty lonely. It hasn’t been shitty, of course—he’s where he’s always wanted to be, but every bed had been cold, hands that held him too rough and sharp, lips that tasted bitter and awful and like melons, and Yoongi kind of hates melons. Only ever ate them during the summer because they’re Hoseok’s favourite fruit and kissing Hoseok after he’s eaten half the melon hadn’t felt as awful as kissing that man who’d had a melon-flavoured cocktail. Kissing Hoseok has never been awful. Not kissing Hoseok, on the other hand.
“Okay,” Yoongi says, because he thinks he’ll explode if he stays quiet, not knowing what to say, but also not wanting to stay quiet, not when his mind is going a mile a minute. “Okay, anything, then,”
Anything for you, is what Yoongi doesn’t say. Instead, he starts his little story, a little tired and a lot sleepy. The details are a bit mushed up together, but he tells it, anyway. Tells Hoseok where he’d gone that last semester in university—how he’d gone back home to Daegu, basically cried to his brother who kicked him out of the house after a few days of moping around. Tells Hoseok how he’d picked the camera back up months after the ordeal. Says that it had been the only thing that kept him going, then.
Yoongi tells Hoseok about all the traveling, too, about how he’d had to learn English and a little bit of French and how he hated it all so much, Seok, you have no idea, why couldn’t they learn Korean?
“Because you were abroad and the only Korean there, hyung,” Hoseok murmurs, voice muffled by his pillow, “You’re an idiot. Continue,”
And Yoongi does. Tells the story of how he’d tripped in front of a top model who, instead of laughing, had helped him up, and how Yoongi had thought that was what it felt like to be held up by god. Hoseok snorts a laugh at that, calls him an idiot, again, but it’s fonder this time, even when Hoseok sounds like he’s seconds away from sleep.
Even when Yoongi can tell that Hoseok’s already asleep, Yoongi continues, tells him the last part of the story. Of Holly, how he’d seen her at the shelter and fallen in love as quickly as he’d picked up the camera and known that it was what he wanted to do for all his life. Holly, Holly, Holly.
“I wonder if she’s okay,” Yoongi yawns, eyes heavy. “Wonder if Jeongguk is giving him all the cuddles,”
Yoongi falls asleep to that, to thoughts of Jeongguk taking care of Holly because Yoongi will most likely throw him down into a vat of toxic lava if he learns that he isn’t, but this is Jeongguk and Jeongguk takes care of everything that passes his hands, and Yoongi has no doubts about that, so he sleeps with an easy mind and a full heart.
Sleeps and sleeps and sleeps, and Yoongi dreams, too, he dreams, and dreams, and dreams about the open sea and the sound of Hoseok’s laughter as he splashes around in the water. It’s summer this time, the sky warm. Hoseok doesn’t shriek from the cold. Laughs, instead, invites Yoongi into the water with him.
Yoongi’s just about to join him when the sun hits his face too harsh and he opens his eyes to find himself back in the hotel room, with Hoseok right next to him, the younger boy having tossed and turned in his sleep that he ended up facing Yoongi.
Like this, they’re like two closed parenthesis facing each other. Like this, they’re so close, Yoongi feels comforted. Safe.
There’s still oceans between them but at least Yoongi can swim.
Slowly, Hoseok comes to as well, eyes blinking open.
“G’morning,” Yoongi murmurs, flicking a strand of hair out of Hoseok’s eyes.
Hoseok smiles at him, a little bit too bright for whatever time it is, and much, much brighter than the morning sun that’s managed to slip through their black out curtains. Hoseok’s always been brighter than the sun but still, Yoongi is caught off guard whenever it’s proven to him, time and time again.
“Morning,” Hoseok says, staring at Yoongi’s face, the smile on his face gentle. His voice is still sleep heavy and kind of rough but Hoseok’s smile is all easy curves and smooth, smooth sunshine. “Thank you for the story,”
“Anytime,” Yoongi’s voice is rough, kind of unsteady. “Breakfast?”
Whatever spell that’s fallen around them overnight is broken when Yoongi gets up first, rolling out of the bed and into his slippers.
Sleeping with Hoseok on the same bed hadn’t been as difficult or painful, but—but Yoongi had ached the entire night. He still aches, now.
“Breakfast,” Yoongi hears Hoseok say behind him.
When he looks over his shoulder to check on Hoseok, Yoongi most definitely doesn’t point out how he looks like a little baby bird with his messy hair and purple pyjamas. Yoongi doesn’t point that out the same way he doesn’t ask why Hoseok looks kind of disappointed at the prospect of breakfast.
Yoongi doesn’t let himself dwell too long on that because he thinks it’ll only fuck him up, and he’s already fucked them both up too much already. There’s no more room for anything else.
So instead, Yoongi does what he’s always been known to do. He sweeps it under the rug and hopes Hoseok doesn’t slack off on his part of the chores, too. It’s how they’ve always operated, and Yoongi will be damned if he ends up ruining whatever precarious friendship he has with Hoseok now, however strange the night’s conversation had been. However nice Hoseok holding his hand had felt.
Yoongi will take how they are now in the morning light. He’ll take this over not having Hoseok at all.
It’s not nearly enough because there’s too much inside of him, now. There’s love, love, love, and that’s not safe. It’s not going to be safe.
So Yoongi settles on this. On nice, and good, and safe. It’s what’ll get him through the rest of the day, even when he still feels like he’s drowning whenever he looks into Hoseok’s eyes. Even when Hoseok lets their fingers brush as they walk, ever so slightly. Even then.
The dreams start to change. Yoongi isn’t sure if it’s for the better, but they change, anyway.
No longer is he confined to the single dark room, hearing the sound of Hoseok’s footsteps drawing farther and farther away. No longer is Yoongi helpless and alone.
This time, he dreams about floating in the ocean. It’s warm and the water tastes sweet, which is odd, but it’s a dream, so everything is supposed to be odd. The sun is shining warm enough to keep him comfortable out in the middle of the ocean but not too warm that he starts to feel himself burn.
One dark room to start with and now the vast ocean, where he’s got all the room that he needs but nowhere to go, because Yoongi doesn’t see anything for miles and miles, so he just floats, lets the water take him where it needs to.
The sun seems to be moving in slow-motion, or perhaps it’s because this is a dream, everything languid and slow, except for the sound of the water. The ocean is still, relaxed. Asleep, even, but the sound that rushes through Yoongi’s ears remind him of a storm. When he’d visited the ocean with Namjoon, once, so many years back. Before university, before the biggest storm of his life.
They’d sat in the car and waited it out, but Yoongi had listened to the storm the whole time, how the wind had whipped at the trees and the water had crashed against the shore. It sounds like a fight.
That’s what it sounds like right now in his dreams. It sounds like the ocean is fighting and crying and perhaps crying while putting up a fight, but it looks—it looks like any calm afternoon, if Yoongi’s ever seen one.
He’s not quite sure if he’s more unnerved by the stillness of the ocean or of the storm that only he can hear.
Yoongi isn’t even sure if this is better than being trapped in the room, but the sun is a good change, and the sky—
The sky is bright and blue and so, so beautiful, Yoongi only hopes to be able to have the strength to float above the water for as long as he can because that means he gets to look at the sky more.
The only consolation.
Yoongi’s dreams have changed and he doesn’t voice it out to anyone, because they’ll look at him with sad eyes and smiles that are supposed to be gentle but only hurt because Yoongi doesn’t want to be treated like he’s something soft and fragile, like he’s going to break. He keeps it to himself, but Namjoon comments, anyway, because he’s Kim Namjoon, and not a lot of things pass him by.
“Hyung, you kind of look different these days,” Namjoon says, leaning back into his chair.
They’re outside, some quiet little pub that Jimin had suggested to them when they’d been caught with nowhere to go earlier. It’s nice. Jimin has good taste when it comes to bars, and pubs, and clubs. Jimin has good taste, period.
“If you’re just going to call me ugly, Joon, then save it,” Yoongi takes a sip of his whiskey-coke, lets the taste of it settle on his tongue for a while. It’s not too strong, not too heavy. Perhaps the bartender had added too much coke. Perhaps. But Yoongi likes this, kind of. Likes the sweetness that lingers right after he’s managed to swallow down the bitterness from the whiskey. It’s good. It doesn’t quite burn as much. Yoongi likes it, sweet things.
(Hoseok, Hoseok is pretty sweet, his brain supplies.
Yoongi tells it to shut up.)
“No, no, that’s not what I mean, shut up,” Namjoon snorts, rolling his eyes at him. “I mean—ever since Jeju. And I still don’t know what happened on that trip, but you look a bit different. Not—not physically, I guess. Just—you know, this,” Apparently, this means Namjoon gesturing to all of Yoongi, hand waving to his general direction. “This.”
“This,” Yoongi repeats, pointing to himself. “I still don’t get it,”
“What I’m trying to say is, you seem better,” Namjoon’s voice is smaller, like he doesn’t want to upset Yoongi, like he’s not sure if he’s speaking out of turn. “Not that you’ve been awful or anything, but just—You and Hoseokie, I guess. Better. I mean, are you two better?”
Huh, that’s one way of saying it.
Yoongi can say that they’re better. Friends again. Best friends, sort of, because Yoongi can talk to Hoseok again. Can open up to him, and Hoseok the same. They don’t need to be babysat anymore. They don’t need supervision. They can hang out together, alone, without it being weird or awkward. Jeju had been just that, except—
Except Yoongi had also kind of spiralled in Jeju, had wanted to drown, and drown, drown, only if it meant he could look into Hoseok’s eyes.
“Huh,” is what Yoongi starts with, because he’s not too sure, at least. “I don’t know about better, to be honest,”
“What do you know, then?” Namjoon asks, a certain forcefulness in his voice. As much as Namjoon is Yoongi’s friend, he is also Hoseok’s, and Yoongi can feel it, now, how protective Namjoon is of Hoseok, how he wants to be careful with his words but at the same time want Yoongi to be careful with his, too, because this is Jung Hoseok they’re talking about.
“I don’t know,” Which is honest enough, but certainly not enough-enough, so Yoongi tries again. “I kinda want him back, Joon,”
“No, I mean—I always wanted him back. Was a wreck when I left. Went back and he was gone. The past four years have been tough, you know it’s been tough, but it’s just—I want him, but I already have him now, y’know? We’re friends again. Isn’t that—shouldn’t that be enough?”
Yoongi stammers over his own words. Namjoon slows him down with a hand over his and kind, kind eyes that pull Yoongi back into the moment, telling him quietly to breathe, breathe, breathe, hyung, you’re fine, you’re good, thank you for telling me that.
“Does Hoseok know that?” Namjoon asks, because of course he asks all the right questions. Questions Yoongi doesn’t even want to entertain.
“No, because what if he hates me, Joon—tells me I’m stupid, and he’ll be right, but, like, what if I ruin this. It’s a good thing already, I think,” it’s a good thing, it’s a safe thing, and Yoongi supposes he can love Hoseok, anyway. Move on from the hurt and the pain but not from Jung Hoseok. “This is a good thing,”
“I think you’ll never know if you don’t talk to him about it,” there’s a little glint in Namjoon’s eyes that tell Yoongi that he knows something Yoongi doesn’t, and it’s driving him insane, wants to take Namjoon by the shoulders and try to shake the information out of him, but he doesn’t, of course he doesn’t, because he might be in love but he’s not crazy. At least, he doesn’t think he is.
“Do something about it, hyung,” Namjoon offers, a little quirk in his smile. “But you have to be sure of it this time. Absolutely certain,”
Yoongi thinks there’s nothing more certain than this—
That he loves Hoseok so very much and that he doesn’t want to hurt him, and he’s certain that it’s going to be painful, loving quietly, loving from afar, but he’ll take it over not having Hoseok in his life.
What Yoongi isn’t certain about is the look of disappointment so clear in Hoseok’s face the morning they woke up in Jeju, facing each other.
Yoongi isn’t sure what it had meant, or why their fingers had been tangled together. He doesn’t know what it means but he wants to know, he really does.
Feeling just a little bit more resolved, Yoongi swallows down the taste of whiskey that’s managed to crawl back up his throat and says, “I can do certain,”
Namjoon laughs, dimples flashing. He clinks their glasses together. “I trust you, hyung.”
Nothing gets done for the next few weeks, at least, nothing quite important or life changing, that is.
Yoongi is busy and so is Hoseok.
So is everyone, really, so they don’t see each other as much.
But they talk. God, do they talk so much, late into the night, Hoseok’s voice in his ear, just telling him about his day, talking about his students, about a dance move that he’s recently learned from this video game Jeongguk’s been playing.
Yoongi laughs at that, says, “You have to show me next time,”
And Hoseok laughs, too, and it’s the best sound to ever exist. “Okay, but you owe me a dance, if you haven’t forgotten,”
Yoongi hasn’t forgotten a lot of things.
Hasn’t forgotten how good Hoseok feels against him, arms around Hoseok, just holding him.
Hasn’t forgotten how holding Hoseok’s hand is enough to anchor Yoongi to this very plane of being.
Hasn’t forgotten that just by having him around, Yoongi feels much, much brighter.
Hasn’t forgotten the sound of Hoseok singing to the music as he dances, catching Yoongi’s eye from the studio mirrors.
And then a few thousand more, from four years ago. From a lifetime ago.
This seems like a second life, it really does, but at the same time, the weight of their history together is too much to just sweep under the rug.
Yoongi’s done sweeping things under the rug, so before they hang up, Yoongi breathes out Hoseok’s name, and says, “Seok, is it okay if I miss you?”
Hoseok’s breath hitches, then he chuckles, like he wants to play it off. “I can see you this weekend, hyung,”
“That’s not what I mean,” Yoongi’s grip around his phone tightens. Beside him, Holly shifts in his sleep. “I mean, is it okay if I kinda miss us?”
“Oh,” Hoseok’s voice is quiet. Yoongi closes his eyes, tries to imagine what Hoseok looks like, now. In bed, hair still a little wet from his shower, and cheeks pinched pink. “Is that what you mean?”
“Kinda,” Yoongi admits, because he’d promised Namjoon he was going to be certain. Honest. This is Yoongi being honest. It’s much easier to be honest when he isn’t looking at Hoseok in person, when everything is said through the phone and he can just hang up anytime he wants.
“Oh,” Hoseok breathes again, and then, after another second. “That’s okay, because I kinda miss us, too,”
Yoongi can taste the nostalgia in Hoseok’s voice. It’s spiced with just a touch of regret. He doesn’t blame him.
“I miss Jeju, too,” Yoongi adds, just because.
This time, when Hoseok says, “Me, too, hyung,” Yoongi can hear a smile in his voice.
“I’ll see you at the exhibition, yeah?” Yoongi asks, scratching just behind Holly’s ear.
“Wouldn’t miss it,” Hoseok says, this time Yoongi much more positive that he’s smiling, a sleepy eleven p.m smile that Yoongi can see whenever he closes his eyes. “If you have any more bad dreams, just call me. Anytime, it doesn’t matter,”
Yoongi remembers telling Hoseok about his nightmares a few weeks ago when he’d been asked just why he looked like an extra from The Walking Dead.
“I haven’t been having them anymore,” Yoongi assures him, lips curving into a soft, sleepy little smile.
“But you will if you do, yeah?” Hoseok pushes for it, anyway, and eventually Yoongi nods, says, Yes, Seok, I will. More than pleased with that, Hoseok says, “Okay. Okay. Good night, Yoongi hyung,”
Yoongi settles into his bed, pulling the sheets up. Holly doesn’t so much as budge, but it’s okay. This is more or less their nightly routine.
The last thing Yoongi hears before he falls asleep is the sound of Hoseok’s relieved sigh. Yoongi falls asleep with just the hint of a smile on his face. It is enough to chase away the raging ocean. This time, when Yoongi dreams of being out at sea, he hears only the soft chirping of seagulls flying overhead and the water as he moves along with the current. No more fighting, no more storm.
Yoongi wakes up with a smile on his face and the sun hitting him directly in the eye.
It’s not a bad day at all.
Everyone comes to his exhibition. Everyone.
His family and Holly are all present, his mother squeezing him into a hug so tight Yoongi almost breaks his ribs.
A lot of the people he’s worked with from the start are here, too, because it’s Min Yoongi’s—photographer extraordinaire—first exhibition. They ask him what his plans for the future are, and Yoongi just gestures to the gallery, tells them that this is his future, that this is the only thing he’s sure of, now.
He talks to someone from the press, too, who assures him they’ll be writing a spread about him, singing his praises, all of that. Yoongi tells them that they don’t have to hold back, that they can be honest. Yoongi has thrived off honesty and feedback, however critical it may be.
But they assure him that they love it, that they’ve bought some pieces, too.
Actually, everyone ends up wanting the same piece that it starts a bidding war that Kim Seokjin oversees himself, calling over a few of the people gathered to calm down, he knows just how to settle it.
“Deal with that,” Yoongi whisper-hisses to his secretary, who’s quite in shocked, too. She scurries off to stop Seokjin because nobody is supposed to be betting on anything, and god, Seokjin’s absolutely crazy but Yoongi loves him, anyway. Laughs when Seokjin tells his secretary that,
“Okay, okay, I’ll drop the bidding situation, but only if I can get this,” he smacks his credit card on the table and from where Yoongi’s standing, he can see just how horrified his secretary is at Seokjin’s suddenness. Yoongi just laughs.
Jeongguk and Taehyung catch him at the end of the long hallway, arms locked on either side of him as the two younger boys talk about how good the whole exhibition is, how Yoongi’s managed to hide everything from them for the past—past four years, if the dates on the photos are anything to go by.
Because this exhibition has been four years in the making, and only recently has Yoongi found the final piece for his gallery.
The final piece being a small photo of Hoseok in Jeju, the last wave of sunset washing over them as he crouches just by the shore, fingers reaching out to touch the cold sea water. Up ahead, the sky is dotted with stars and constellations as far as the sky can see. But Yoongi’s only ever had eyes for one thing.
“God, hyung, that’s so fucking cheesy,” Jeongguk teases, pointing to the small photo of Hoseok. This one isn’t for sale. Yoongi will keep this forever, he thinks. “Has he seen this yet?”
“No, he doesn’t know about it,” Yoongi admits, feeling the tops of his cheeks heating up.
“Wait ’til Hoseok hyung sees,” Taehyung chirps, leaning away from the photo to grin at Taehyung, his usual wide grin, a little boxy and a lot endearing. Yoongi pinches his cheek, and does the same to Jeongguk, too, just for added measure.
Behind them, a voice says, “Wait ’til Hoseok hyung sees what?”
Yoongi turns around slowly, Jeongguk and Taehyung on either side of him grinning way too big for kids who aren’t supposed to be up to anything.
“Hoseokie hyung, good to see you, but I—I gotta go. Gotta join Seokjin hyung’s bidding war,” Taehyung grabs Jeongguk’s arm, dragging him far, far away from them until all Yoongi can see are their shadows as they turn the corner into the main room of the gallery.
“Seokjin hyung started a bidding war?” Hoseok asks, taking a few steps to stand next to Yoongi.
Yoongi shakes his head, “Don’t ask. I just hope Sooah’s taking care of it before hyung starts throwing his credit card,”
Hoseok laughs at that, loud and booming and too big, just like him. He laughs until he notices just what Yoongi’s standing in front of. Until he realises what Jeongguk and Taehyung had meant when they’d said, Wait ’til Hoseok hyung sees this.
This being the photo Yoongi had taken of him from Jeju. Hoseok isn’t even looking at the camera. If you don’t know who he is then you won’t be able to tell it’s Hoseok.
But Yoongi knows who he is. His heart knows him very well.
“Oh,” Hoseok breathes, leaning in closer. “That’s a great shot, hyung. Wow,”
“It’s because you’re beautiful, Seok,” Yoongi says it rather easily. Found that being honest that one night had made him braver, if only to prepare him for this evening.
“Don’t lie,” Hoseok says, though he sounds a little bit flustered, blush creeping up his cheeks.
“No, I mean it,” Yoongi turns to look at him. Up at Hoseok’s face, eyes wide with surprise and mouth popped open into a little o. Hoseok looks absolutely beautiful today—hair swept back, just a little bit, and tie so loose he may as well not be wearing one. But he’s more dressed up than usual for someone who’d come from his academy.
It clicks, then, that Hoseok had dressed up for him.
Yoongi fixes the collar of his suit for him, readjusts his tie. “Look really, really good tonight, too,”
“Because the invite said black tie,” Hoseok doesn’t move away from him, which is good.
Yoongi wants to move closer, which is bad. So he stays where he is, hands dropping back to his side. “Black tie optional, or whatever, but thank you,”
“You don’t look half bad yourself, either,” Hoseok says, flicking at a stray strand of hair that’s managed to sweep across Yoongi’s eyes. Hoseok lets his fingers touch Yoongi’s cheek briefly. It’s warm. Yoongi wants him to stay. Wants to lean into him.
But he doesn’t, of course he doesn’t.
“Where have you two been?” Jimin somehow manages to wedge himself between them, appearing all of a sudden from out of nowhere. He gives them both a look that almost makes Yoongi shudder, and then says, “Hyung, we’re doing a toast. We can’t do it without you,”
And then to Hoseok, Jimin says, lips pursed, “Don’t let me down, hyung,”
Yoongi doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Looking over at Hoseok, it looks like Hoseok doesn’t know what Jimin’s talking about, too.
When Namjoon joins them by the end of the hallway, taking Jimin’s hand in his, and throwing both Yoongi and Hoseok a raised eyebrow, head tilted in the universal gesture of, What did he do? It looks like Namjoon doesn’t know, either.
Therefore, nobody knows just what Jimin is talking about, but that still doesn’t stop them from giving a toast, Yoongi’s entire family and Holly yipping happily along by his brother. Everyone raising a glass of champagne in his honour.
Hoseok touches their glasses briefly, smiles over the rim, says, “Congratulations, hyung,”
“Thank you,” Yoongi says, once to Hoseok directly, and then to everyone else, voice much louder. “Thank you, everyone,”
It’s a good night, it really is, even when you take into account Seokjin’s impromptu bidding wars that had resulted in Yoongi’s secretary being traumatised for life.
Namjoon and Jimin prove more useful than anything tonight but only because they physically managed to drag Seokjin away from the raised platform.
Jeongguk and Taehyung follow along happily, both holding two of Seokjin’s cards, each.
“You think he’ll sue us for identity theft?” Yoongi hears Jeongguk and Taehyung whispering to each other, looking over Seokjin’s credit cards.
“No, he won’t,” Hoseok tells them, winking. “He loves you too much,”
“He’ll probably burn everything you love, but he won’t sue you,” Yoongi adds, for good measure.
Taehyung grins up at him.
“You think we just set off two monsters with Seokjin hyung’s credit cards?” Hoseok asks when they step out of the gallery and into the garden.
They walk to the gazebo where it’s quiet and calm. There’s a pond just beside it and the sound of the splashing koi in the water is soothing. It’s nice, especially since the weather is getting a little bit warmer, too, winter finally seeing the end and spring just around the corner.
“I think we did,” Yoongi says, looking at the koi pond. “But like you said, hyung loves them too much,”
“Well, let’s hope that’s going to be the case after what they’re about to pull,” Hoseok’s laughter is like a quiet melody on this already wonderful night. Yoongi is riding on a high but he’s also grounded. Very grounded. He’s anchored, even, because Hoseok is here, and Hoseok is around him. With him. Yoongi lets himself bask in that fact, steels himself for what he’s about to say.
Because if not tonight, then when?
“I’m sorry,” Yoongi says, tearing his gaze away from the pond to look at Hoseok, who’s a little bit caught by surprise, blinking at Yoongi.
“About what?” Hoseok asks, already reaching a hand out to touch Yoongi.
Yoongi takes a step back, because he doesn’t think Hoseok holding his hand will help. He doesn’t think he’ll have it in him to say what he wants to say if Hoseok holds his hand, tells him it’s okay, that they’re okay right now. Yoongi just really needs to say this because he wasn’t able to the first time they talked. Had left the most important thing out, held on to it for months since, but kept it to himself.
But Namjoon had told him to be certain, and Yoongi is, now. He’s sure.
“I’m sorry I was too scared to be honest with you then,” Yoongi starts, hands clutched together. He wants to start picking at the skin of his fingernails. Wants to bite. Wants to hold Hoseok’s hand. But he also wants to focus on this, doesn’t want Hoseok to cut him off, because this needs to be said. “And I know you told me to forgive myself, and I have, but I won’t be able to fully until you know just how much I regret running out on you when you told me you loved me,”
“You chickened out on me, hyung,” Hoseok says, voice a little heavy, a little sad.
“I did, yeah? And—and I was a coward, Seok. I really was, but I’m learning how to be brave the same way I’m learning how to forgive myself,” Yoongi continues, looking up at Hoseok, who meets his gaze, unwavering, lips pulled a little too tight, the rest of his expression unreadable. “I just need to tell you this tonight, and if—if you decide that you don’t want to be friends anymore after, then that’s fine, but I’ve held this in for too long,” and Hoseok deserves to hear it, even if Yoongi’s too late. Even if it costs them this new second-life-kind-of-friendship.
Hoseok tilts his head to the side, a clear invitation for Yoongi to continue talking. But he also reaches both hands out for Yoongi, another open invitation for him to take.
This time, Yoongi does, fingers twining with Hoseok’s, palms pressed together in a holy palmer’s kiss that has Yoongi’s knees feeling weak. So, so weak, the same way he is when he looks at Hoseok’s eyes. Hoseok and his pretty, pretty eyes that hold the entire sky.
“Seok, I care about you so fucking much,” Yoongi squeezes on their joined hands. Feels the warmth that’s practically radiating off of Hoseok. Kind of smiles at that, if only slightly. If only a ghost of a smile, because he’s about to take a plunge and he’s not sure if it’s safe, but perhaps safe has never been the solution. A ship that’s safe is a ship that’s never left the harbour, and Yoongi needs to leave because his heart is out in the ocean. He needs to leave. “I couldn’t tell you then, but I loved you back, I really did. I know it doesn’t count for much now, but I—I loved you,”
And it’s really not supposed to count for anything because it’s too late, they’re both different people, but here Hoseok is, holding Yoongi’s hand again, saving him from drowning. Here Hoseok is, smiling at him, a smile that isn’t as sad. A smile that gives Yoongi just a flicker of hope.
“D’you think it’s too late, hyung?” Hoseok asks without any inflection in his tone. He’s just asking because he wants to ask, wants Yoongi to be honest, because Hoseok’s been plenty honest from the start. Yoongi’s realised that it’s his move, now. That it’s his turn.
This is him being honest. It’s been known that the brave have often ended up facing their untimely deaths, but it doesn’t matter. Yoongi is going to be brave, no matter the cost.
“Yeah, it’s—it’s late. This is four years too late, but you need to know that I loved you then and I love you now, too,” Yoongi’s voice quivers, eyes staring to sting. “I think I’ve always loved you, ever since we met. Y’know—y’know, you’re a cheeky little brat, yeah? But you’ve always steered me to the right places. You anchor me, too, and when the storms come, you hold me through it. You’re literally the sky above the ocean and without you I’d be lost. Have been lost when we were apart, and it’s my fault, it is, but you’re back and I’m not drowning anymore, Seok,”
And Yoongi’s starting to cry now and he hates it, he really does, because it blurs his vision and he can’t see Hoseok clearly anymore. Hoseok, who has the ability to stop the world. Who is the only thing Yoongi can focus on. Hoseok is sharp against the turning, blur of a world.
It will always be Hoseok, the same way Yoongi will always love him, one way or another.
“I think—no, I know I’ll always love you, even if it is too late, now,” Yoongi can taste the salt in his tears. It reminds him of sea water, and that alone makes him laugh, a little bitterly, a lot sad.
Hoseok doesn’t say anything, but he does slip his hand gently out of Yoongi’s hold so he can wipe at Yoongi’s tears, thumb stroking lightly over the top of his cheeks.
So they might have changed a little. Might have changed a lot. But this love—this love is still here, and Yoongi lays it all down.
“Do you really mean that, hyung?” Hoseok asks, thumb pressing gently into Yoongi’s cheek. He places a soft kiss there, too, and Yoongi’s heart almost stops, because it’s been so, so long, and he’s only dreamed of this.
Yoongi blinks the tears away, tries not to whimper when Hoseok kisses him a second time on the corner of his mouth, shy, a little unsure.
“I do,” Yoongi manages to say, because he’s braver, now. He’s changed, and so is Hoseok. “I loved you then and I love you, now,”
This time, when Yoongi looks up at Hoseok, it’s to find that his eyes are wet. His smile is, too, but it’s also the brightest thing Yoongi’s ever seen in his life and he’ll be fucking stupid if he looks away now, so he doesn’t.
Instead, Yoongi brings both hands up to frame either side of Hoseok’s face, thumbs wiping the tear tracks away.
Yoongi smiles at him, too.
“Good,” Hoseok whispers, way too low and way too quiet. It is just for them. A secret they can keep together. “Good,”
Hoseok bumps their foreheads together, holds completely still in Yoongi’s arms, and waits.
Waits until Yoongi finally, finally asks, “What does this mean, Seok?”
The smile Hoseok smiles is bright and cheeky and it’s absolutely everything Yoongi’s ever seen in the sky. “It can mean anything,”
Looking at Hoseok, Yoongi realises that it really can, because Hoseok—
Hoseok is everything the same way the sky is everywhere.
“Everything, then,” Hoseok confirms, closing the gap between them with a kiss, a soft, closed-mouth kiss that’s more a pressing of their lips than anything, but it’s a kiss, the best kiss Yoongi’s had in ages, and he kisses Hoseok back, fingers pressing into his cheeks gently, wanting to give back as much as he’s received.
Hoseok’s doesn’t pull away from him, instead just pulls Yoongi closer to him, arms going around his middle.
Yoongi buries his face in Hoseok’s chest, lets his arms circle Hoseok, holds him close to him. Anchors himself like this so he won’t float away. So he’ll stay. Always stay.
The seasons don’t change the same way that people do. When you keep something inside of you for so long, it changes you. It’s changed Yoongi. It’s made him a braver man. A forgiving man.
Summer quietly comes creeping around the corner, even when it’s still winter out. Even when the wind still makes Yoongi shiver slightly. But it’s doesn’t matter, not when it’s finally, finally summer inside of him.
Hoseok sways them around, humming under his breath, the smile on his face lovely.
Yoongi smiles against his neck, hold around Hoseok tightening as he closes his eyes, allows Hoseok to sway them around in the middle of the gazebo.
“I still love you,” Hoseok eventually tells him, when all is quiet and the only sound Yoongi can hear is the sound of Hoseok’s heart as it beats right under his ear. “I love you so, so much,”
And it’s a little bit late for Yoongi to realise that he’s close to tearing up and there’s no way to stop it this time, so he allows himself this one last good cry, blinks back the tears and then laughs, a little wet and sudden, “Are you seriously trying to get me to dance with you right now?”
Hoseok laughs with him, too, ducks down to kiss Yoongi’s forehead. “Thought you wouldn’t notice,”
But Yoongi does. He notices Hoseok all the time.
“I can’t believe this,” Yoongi says, looking up at him, wanting to touch, and kiss, and maybe just spend the rest of his days looking at Hoseok, wanting, wanting, and being able to do what he wants. What he’s always wanted to do. “I can’t believe you. There isn’t even any music,”
Here, Hoseok takes one of Yoongi’s hands, settles it on his shoulders, and then places his on Yoongi’s hip. His smile is immaculate and Yoongi’s heart gives a squeeze, because he’s weak, and perhaps it’s only a saving grace that Hoseok’s holding on to him properly this time, guiding him to move, or else Yoongi will just fold over and fall, fall, fall.
“There’s always music, hyung,” Hoseok says, pulling Yoongi along with him, getting him to move to the sound of the evening, to their mixed breathing, and laughter as they kiss again, cutting each other off to laugh because Yoongi can’t even kiss Hoseok properly anymore, not without smiling too big in the middle of it, and Hoseok doesn’t seem to mind, just tries to kiss the smile off Yoongi, tries to taste his laugh.
They fall in love again and again in the middle of the dance, and this—
This might just be Yoongi’s favourite song.
The thing is, they fit together so, so well. They always have, and now, Yoongi supposes that they always will.
Yoongi says as much one Sunday afternoon, the both of them lounging around Yoongi’s living room, with Holly napping between them.
Hoseok blinks at him, “Pardon?”
“I think we fit together really well,” Yoongi tries again, liking the taste of the words on his mouth. “The whole breaking up thing was terrible, but—Everything else. Everything else is a dream, Seok,”
“That’s so fucking cheesy,” Hoseok bites the bottom of his lip to stop his smile from spilling over. There are actual stars that are dancing in his eyes. Yoongi has never been more in love with him than in this one single moment. “Are you going to say something like we’re made for each other next?”
“Hey, I didn’t say that,” Yoongi raises both hands in his own weak defence. Hoseok leans above Holly to wrap his fingers around Yoongi’s wrist, tugging him forward. “You said that,”
Hoseok noses along Yoongi’s neck, lets his lips brush so tentatively over his, the first kiss that Hoseok presses on the corner of his mouth so tender Yoongi shivers. Hoseok definitely knows he’s shivering because Hoseok gently scoops Holly up and deposits him on the other side of the couch.
Yoongi lets Hoseok pull him into his lap, lets Hoseok settle his arms around him as Yoongi looks down at him, this angle absolutely exhilarating. Yoongi cups Hoseok’s cheek with his hand, watches in obvious fascination as Hoseok leans into his touch, into the warmth that Yoongi’s actually capable of giving.
“I did say it,” Hoseok presses kisses along Yoongi’s jaw, likes the way Yoongi shivers when Hoseok latches onto his collarbone and sucks a kiss there, tongue lapping on the oversensitive skin as Yoongi just lets out a soft little gasp, fingers finding purchase in Hoseok’s hair.
“It’s so cheesy nobody else should hear that,” Yoongi whispers, ducking down low to kiss Hoseok quickly on the top of his lip. Yoongi likes it whenever he does that because Hoseok gives him the same reaction every time, a slow blink and then a smile that has Yoongi’s heart doing somersaults.
“Nobody but you, hyung,” Hoseok says, bumping their noses together, his grin wide. Ear to ear. Yoongi loves that, too, loves how Hoseok’s eyes are basically half-crescents now, his dimples digging deep into his cheeks. “Only you get to hear it,”
Yoongi kisses the tip of Hoseok’s nose, likes that Hoseok’s slipped his hands under Yoongi’s sleep-shirt, settled them on his overheated skin. Likes how Hoseok’s rubbing smooth circles over his skin. Just likes the contact between them. Likes it so much.
“I really missed this,” Yoongi says again. Thinks that this may just very well be the last time he’ll get to say this, because there’s no other reason for him to miss this anymore, not when Hoseok’s back. When they’re back together. “I love you all the time, Seok, d’you hear me?”
Hoseok responds with a nod, that smile still so blinding Yoongi doesn’t even have any idea anymore how his retinas have managed to survive looking at Hoseok for so long.
“I know, hyung,” Hoseok’s voice is gentle. It sounds like a promise, just between the two of them. “I know, now.”
And it’s absolutely dizzying, being able to kiss Hoseok again. Like how it must feel when you get that first lungful of air after being underwater for so, so long.
Yoongi kisses Hoseok carefully, pressing their lips together. Likes the taste of Hoseok’s smile when he traces a tongue on the inseam of Hoseok’s lips. Yoongi doesn’t even dare to breathe, not wanting to miss out on this single moment.
Hoseok hums into the kiss, reminds Yoongi to come back for air, peppers kisses everywhere he has access to. Starts from the base of Yoongi’s neck and then under his jaw. Holds Yoongi’s face in his hands and kisses him on both of his cheeks, a hundred on each, until he reaches his forehead, Yoongi laughing now, because he’s ticklish and Hoseok still won’t stop, kissing him on his nose and on his cupid’s bow. Kisses him everywhere but his mouth and that’s fine, too, because Hoseok’s laughing with him and Hoseok can’t laugh if he’s kissing Yoongi on the mouth, and god, they’re awful, they’re so, so awful, but Yoongi loves it. Thinks he needs this as much as he needs air.
“This is awful,” Yoongi says it as much, because he’s a braver man, now, and brave men are honest, even when all he gets for his honesty is a nip at his already bruised neck. God damn it, Jung Hoseok. “You’re awful,”
“Baby, please,” Hoseok’s using that voice on him. Using those eyes. Looking up at Yoongi with heavy eyelashes and a smile so, so easy Yoongi thinks he can fall right into and never want to be picked back up again.
So Yoongi collapses on him, loses all the willpower he’s had to hold himself up and just lets Hoseok pull him into his chest, kissing the side of his head, and then his hair, the hand on the small of Yoongi’s back a reassuring weight.
Hoseok manages to slide a hand between them. Rests it on Yoongi’s chest, where his heart is supposed to be. Hoseok looks at Yoongi with those open sky eyes and Yoongi falls, falls, falls from the sky right into the ocean. Hoseok smiles at him, knowing the effect it has, and Yoongi smiles back at him anyway because Hoseok’s hand is hovering right over his heart and—and Hoseok has his heart. Has held it in his hands years and years ago, even before they started dating. Perhaps when they first met and the first thing out of Hoseok’s mouth instead of an introduction was, You have really big hands for someone so small.
“I love you,” Hoseok says and it’s like the room is suddenly flooded with light. Like winter has been pushed aside to make room for summer, skip spring all together. “God, it feels so good knowing I can say that whenever I want, now,”
Yoongi rests his hand on top of Hoseok’s, his smile matching his, because there’s no other way around it, not when Hoseok’s looking at him with everything good and bright and beautiful that the world has to offer. Not when he’s laying it all out for Yoongi to take.
So Yoongi slips his fingers into the spaces between Hoseok’s, lets their hands interlace, and then kisses him once, twice, three times for good measure on the mouth, each one lingering even longer than the last until they both pull away from each other a little hard of breathing.
“Love you,” Yoongi says, his turn to press kisses to Hoseok’s cheek. With every kiss that Yoongi presses to Hoseok’s cheek, to his dimple, the tip of his nose, and on that endearing heart-smile that he’s been so blessed with, Yoongi tells him.
Love you, a kiss on the cheek. Love you, a kiss on the nose. Love you, a big smack on the forehead. Love you, love you, love you, love you—Yoongi says again and again until Hoseok’s laughing, nearly toppling them both off the couch.
“Hyung, please,” Hoseok’s face is as pink as a peach and it’s so adorable putting Hoseok through this torture that Yoongi doesn’t stop, not until Hoseok manages to flip their positions around, not until he has Yoongi underneath him, Holly scampering off to his own bed because they’re both being unbearable adults in broad daylight. God.
Hoseok looks good like this, too, hovering over Yoongi. Looks good when Yoongi touches his fingers to his cheek and smiles. Looks good whenever Yoongi tells him he loves him, and Yoongi may have to live with the fact that he’s made Hoseok wait four goddamn years to hear it, but Hoseok also has to live with the fact that Yoongi’s all too used to saying it now that he just can’t stop.
“I really do, Seok,” Yoongi says, hands going around Hoseok’s neck, pulling him down, down, down, until their chests press together and there’s barely any distance between them Yoongi’s starting to see two of Hoseok.
“I know, baby, I know,” Hoseok says, pressing a kiss against Yoongi’s smile. “I love you, too.”
Winter officially comes to an end on the morning of Yoongi’s birthday.
Spring is still new, still waking up from her long slumber, but she’s stirring, and the wind may still blow a little bit chilly, but there’s no denying it—winter is over and spring is here, even though it’s been summer inside of Yoongi for a few weeks, now.
Seasons change but not in the same way people do, but that’s okay, because everyone changes differently. That’s the thing with change.
Yoongi has never been happier for change in his life, if he’s being honest.
And honest he is when everyone rolls in for his birthday in his apartment, Jeongguk and Taehyung falling to the floor to mock-wrestle with Holly, Jimin stepping over Jeongguk and almost tripping on the landing. Namjoon catches him, flashing him a dimpled smile when Jimin pouts at him, doesn’t stop until Namjoon gives him a shy little peck on the top of his lips.
They’re still so disgusting Yoongi can’t help but hate them so, so much, and at the same time also love them, because they’re not going to be growing out of that. Not even after several years of dating.
Seokjin comes with two bottles of champagne, the look he throws Yoongi one that already knows, and Yoongi doesn’t know just where Seokjin had gotten the idea but perhaps—
Perhaps it’s in everything he does, everything he is. The same way it’s everything around Hoseok, too, this change between them. Around them. This change in them.
And it’s not like they kept it a secret for any particular reason. They just kept it quiet because they wanted time for themselves, for each other. Just the two of them. It doesn’t look like they’d succeeded in keeping it under wraps too well because Seokjin claps Yoongi on the shoulder, presses a smack of a kiss on his cheek, and says, “Congratulations, Yoongi,”
Yoongi maybe wants to throw him out of his apartment and set Holly lose on him, but he doesn’t, because Hoseok just laughs into his shoulder and loops an arm around Yoongi’s middle, pulling Yoongi against him until they’re pressed back-to-chest, until everyone notices this and they all stand up, looking at them, eyes wide, and Taehyung’s mouth open in a big oh my god.
“No, what is that,” Jeongguk says, pointing to the two of them. “What does that mean?”
“Oh, wow,” Jimin says, gripping Namjoon’s hand tightly.
Namjoon peers down at him, “Are you crying?”
“Shut the fuck up, I am not crying,” but Jimin’s crying, eyes glistening with diamond tears and Namjoon is laughing at him while he wipes his tears and kisses the backs of his eyelids, telling him that he’s being ridiculous, that he’d talked about this with Hoseok the same way Namjoon had talked about this with Yoongi, and—
“Hold on, you what?” Yoongi startles, though not enough that he slips out of Hoseok’s embrace.
“I mean, you guys talked about each other all the time,” Namjoon says, immediately going to his and Jimin’s defence. “It just made sense that we compared notes after,”
“I hate you all so much,” Yoongi sighs, sinking back into Hoseok’s embrace, fingers playing with Hoseok’s, who just hums a silly little tune on the back of Yoongi’s neck, his smile so, so evident when he presses his lips to Yoongi’s shoulder.
“Ditto,” Hoseok says, if only to placate Yoongi. “But, like, not really. We love you! Oh, and someone please check on Gguk, I think he’s about to lose it,”
Jeongguk does lose it, the younger boy crying all of a sudden, cheeks flushed and hands trying so desperately to wipe at his tears.
Taehyung stops him, teases him about it, and Seokjin just ruffles his hair and laughs.
“That’s so adorable,” Seokjin comments, pointing to both Jeongguk and Yoongi and Hoseok, who are looking at everyone with a little bit of horror in their eyes because why are they crying, why are they reacting this way, why do they care so much and why does Yoongi love them so, so much, even though they’re all just a band of idiots?
Hoseok steps around Yoongi when he realises that there’s no stopping Jeongguk and Jimin. He walks over to them, brings the two younger boys into a hug, and just holds them, cooing at them to stop crying, “You’re being silly, why are you crying?”
Taehyung joins their little circle, too, latching onto Hoseok, his smile a little watery like he's about to cry but he’s barely managed to hold it in.
“Because Yoongi hyung hasn’t been to the beach in years,” Jimin says, glaring at Hoseok like it’s his fault. He glares at Yoongi, too, for good measure. Because it’s both of their faults. “And then you come back and you’re—you’re taking a trip to fucking Jeju, and now you’re back together, and it’s been four years,”
The look on Hoseok’s face tells Yoongi that Hoseok’s as shocked by the revelation as he is—and a small part of Yoongi had pushed that away, tried to forget about it, because there’s no use, there really isn’t, and he hadn’t even realised that Jeju had been the first in so, so long, but here Jimin is with his heart of gold and diamond tears. Here Jimin is with a love so unconditional for the both of them, he’s equally angry at them both.
“Jiminie, it’s okay,” Hoseok says, wiping Jimin’s tears away. He gives him a squeeze, too, and holds him close to his side. “We’ll go to all the beaches. With Yoongi hyung and—and everyone. We’ll all go. Swim in all the oceans we can possibly swim in. How does that sound?”
That sounds like an absolute dream, Yoongi nodding along, his smile a little bit whimsical because Jung Hoseok is silly and a little impulsive and they’re certainly going to go to all the beaches they possibly can, now, and Yoongi loves him. He really does.
“Sounds good,” Jimin finally agrees, flashing an unsteady smile that has Hoseok cooing even more, pressing a loud kiss to his cheek.
Hoseok kisses Jeongguk’s cheeks, too, and then Taehyung for good measure as well and it’s surreal seeing all of this again, having everything back.
Yoongi feels like he’s just stepped into a warm, warm house. Like he’s finally called, voice loud and carrying all throughout, that he’s home. Finally home.
When Seokjin puts the music on and they’re all a few drinks into the night, all eyes dry, and smiles bright, bright, bright, with cake cream smeared on Yoongi’s cheek that Hoseok licks away to the mortification of all of their friends and the delight of one Min Yoongi, the dust settles.
Hoseok pulls Yoongi to the middle of the living room. It takes Yoongi a few moments to understand what he’s trying to do, doesn’t really register until Hoseok guides Yoongi’s arms around his shoulders, both of Hoseok’s on either side of Yoongi’s hips.
They’re dancing again and Yoongi hates dancing but he doesn’t hate it at all when it’s with Hoseok, because Hoseok pours everything and then a few extra into dance. Whether it be in the academy, on stage, to just mess around in his own apartment while Yoongi makes them pancakes and Hoseok shimmies along to the morning show jingle, to this—
To him leading the dance, a slow and silly dance that feels all too tender, anyway, because the song is too soft, too slow, and Hoseok’s looking at him with the intensity of the sky right after the storm has passed.
“How the tables have fucking turned,” Jimin calls from the safety of Namjoon’s lap, one hand holding his nth glass of wine for the evening.
Namjoon just knocks their foreheads together and Jimin sniffles, mumbling something about being tired of getting called out for being so sickly sweet and disgusting all the time, and how he expects it even less now that Yoongi and Hoseok are no better, and—
And they aren’t better, they really aren’t, but it’s okay, Yoongi loves it, and Hoseok says it’s greasy and cheesy and it makes the both of them kind of shiver sometimes but it’s cute and most importantly, they like it, so they make it work.
Yoongi calls Hoseok the light of his life and then adds, or whatever, and Hoseok doesn’t let go of Yoongi in the morning, telling him that this is the best part of his day and he’s not going to be cheated on it, or whatever.
“See, babe, you’re dancing,” Hoseok grins at him, cheeky and a little bit too brave.
Yoongi knocks their foreheads together.
Seokjin’s recording the entire thing, pretending to sniffle from behind the camera for added effect. The smile on his face is fond, though, and so, so endeared.
“Don’t mind me,” Seokjin says, practically shoving his phone in their faces until Taehyung drags him away, arms locked around Seokjin, who just sways on the spot, pulling Taehyung into him for a dance that clearly doesn’t go with the sound but it’s a dance, anyway.
Hoseok laughs at that. Laughs at them, with them. Hoseok laughs.
Yoongi laughs, too, he laughs until the song changes and Hoseok tugs Yoongi closer to him, fingers twined with his, while the other rests warmly on Yoongi’s hip, thumb stroking over the sliver of exposed skin from his thin sweater.
From behind them, he can hear Jeongguk singing, too, the sound absolutely beautiful, because Jeongguk can sing, and Yoongi loves to hear him sing. Coupled with Hoseok’s soft, dreamy voice, Yoongi feels like he’s floating, way above water and practically in the clouds now.
He doesn’t even hear the actual lyrics, too busy looking at Hoseok, drowning, drowning, drowning, and then being pulled back up to the surface again and again every time Hoseok so much as flashes a smile at him, kisses him briefly on the cheek.
Yoongi doesn’t understand the lyrics until Hoseok buries his face in the crook of Yoongi’s neck and shoulder, whispering it to him now, again and again,
"Your ocean eyes," Hoseok whispers the lyrics against Yoongi’s skin. They’re just swaying on the spot, the entire Earth standing stock-still for this single moment.
Yoongi wonders if Hoseok can hear it—the sound of his heart as it beats too fast, and then slows down, feeling much more contented when Hoseok smiles against his neck, whisper-sings the rest of the song to Yoongi who holds him through it, arms around Hoseok with no intention of letting him go, not anymore.
This time, when Yoongi thinks safe, he remembers the feeling of Hoseok’s arms around him at night, back pressed against Hoseok’s chest.
When Yoongi thinks safe, he thinks of Hoseok’s hand in his.
When Yoongi thinks safe, he thinks of Hoseok, period.
Safe is good, safe is nice, safe is wonderful and beautiful and this time, safe is more than enough.
Tenderly, Yoongi frames Hoseok’s face in his hands, feels like he’s holding the world. His heart squeezes and his blood sings. He smiles.
Hoseok’s just about hummed the last line, the song changing.
Yoongi brings their foreheads together, fingers pressing gently into Hoseok’s cheek. With his heart on his sleeve, the ocean in his eyes, and the knowledge that Hoseok will steer him back home every time, Yoongi whispers, “We’ll explore the ocean,”
And Hoseok, with the sky in his eyes and all of the constellations mapped on his eyelids and the backs of his hands, strokes a thumb on Yoongi’s cheek, the gesture so tender it almost hurts. His smile is enough of a promise when he says, “Of course.”