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Forgiveness Starts With You

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Everything was still.

The leaves seemed frozen, not even the soft hairs that grew across its surface shivering in the air. The flowers that peppered the garden around him stood erect, not a single one hunching over in the darkness of the night.

But a movement shot from the left. A squirrel, racing across the grass, stopping every few feet to check his surroundings. All was good until he heard a footstep and someone came around the corner, provoking the squirrel to dash up a nearby tree.

It was Hoseok, bundled up in a thick long jacket with a scarf wrapped over his mouth and a hat with floppy ears hanging to his jaw. He peeked at the path ahead of him, his red nose feeling like an ice cube on his face.

He inwardly cursed at himself, kicking a rock beside his foot as he went. When he first thought of going to Yoongi's house, it seemed like a good idea. But standing at the threshold, staring at the doorway he used to own a key to, and not knowing who could possibly be on the other sideㅡit scared him.

Hoseok hated the idea of someone else sitting in the chair he had once claimed, snuggling up beside his ex-boyfriend, most likely sipping hot cocoa on cold nights like these with his old mug.

There, in the center of the empty park, Hoseok stopped. His dark boots came to a halt, even though he wanted to get home as quickly as possible. His jean-padded legs shivered in the cold air, but he stayed still.

And he screamed.

Even though no one could've heard it, and it was muffled by his scarf, it still made him feel a little bit better. Just feeling the fresh, crisp air rush into his lungs and feeling his throat go raw by how loud he suddenly screamedㅡit felt good. He needed good.

But just as quickly, the immense sadness threw itself back on his shoulders.

God, how he missed him.

Hoseok missed waking up and seeing his face first thing. He missed leaning over and kissing his nose, watching his expression crinkle at the touch and his eyes fluttering open. He missed the knowing smile that would always appear on his lips as he leaned back over, making their lips meet.

The feeling of his hands when he reached for him; soft, and warm, and gentle. His voice, humming along as his long fingers padded over the piano keyboard. And his smileㅡoh, his smile. His lips would pull back and he'd be grinning, the cutest, tiniest gummy smile of them all.

God, Hoseok loved every inch of him.

But he was no longer his. It haunted his thoughts every night, of how someone else had taken his place. That someone else made him smile in that way. But he deserved it. After what he did, and the pain he caused...

And not only to him, but the one he really called his. The one who's face haunted him every night...

No. For all of that, Hoseok didn't deserve anyone.

His legs, frozen and stiff from the cold, cracked as they separated, one reaching forward to take a step. But before the sole of his shoe touched the ground, a shrill voice calling his name split the air and he froze again.

He knew that voice.

Hoseok turned slowly, just as another figure ran into the clearing. It was him, pushing back his hair from his eyes and breathing heavily, still struggling to secure his jacket buttons from his rush to catch up.

He was wearing pajamas, silly little slippers hiding his feet and gloves that didn't fit him on his hands. A loose, thin scarf had been thrown around his neck, along with a flimsy hat that he had yet to put on properly.

"God dammit," Hoseok mumbled.

"Hoseok," the man gasped, catching his breath. "I-I saw you in the camera I have on the doorbell. I thought it wasn't you at first, b-butㅡ"

"Save it," he sighed. "I was heading home anyways."

"No, wait."

"Stop."

"Hoseokㅡ"

"God dammit, Yoongi!"

The power of his voice made Yoongi stop, his fingers frozen on the last button of his coat. Hoseok sighed at himself and approached him, reaching out and clasping it together.

As he adjusted the older man's outfit, he muttered, "It's too cold for what you're wearing. You needed something warmer."

"I had to hurry," Yoongi insisted quietly. "I needed to catch you."

"For what?" He asked, pulling on the man's hat. "We talked a month ago. I don't think there's anything else to say."

Yoongi stayed quiet, letting Hoseok straighten out what he wore. When he finished, he backed up to his previous spot, swallowing hard.

"Go home, Yoongi. Your boyfriend's waiting."

He didn't wait until the older man left. He simply turned on his heel and started his way out, tears picking at the edges of his eyes and his lower lip wobbling. He had him in his grasp again. He'd touched him. But Hoseok made a deal to himself, and he knew he didn't deserve Yoongi.

"I don't... have a boyfriend."

"What?"

He turned slightly, watching as Yoongi's eyes dropped to the floor, his badly protected fingers wringing. "I'm not with anyone right now. I haven't, since..."

Hoseok knew what he was talking about. He felt his breath hitch in his throat, choking on the crisp air in an effort not to let himself speak.

Relief rushed through his senses, but so did guilt. He had ruined any chance for Yoongi to fall in love again. Hoseok must've left him so, so broken...

"O-Oh," he mumbled. "Still, you're freezing. Go home and get warm inside."

Yoongi took a shivering step towards him. "No, Hobi, wait."

The nickname brought everything inside him to a halt, allowing Yoongi to approach, gripping Hoseok's jacket like a lifeline. He looked up at him, sadness pouring from his eyes and tears appearing at the corners.

"Y-Yoongi, stop," he whispered.

But he wasn't listening. The older man was reaching up, slipping a frozen hand to the back of Hoseok's neck and pulling him down. Yoongi stared into his eyes all the while, shutting his eyes tight and forcing a tear to fall.

Just as he pushed their lips together.

The warmth of his lips, even outside, sent a jolt throughout Hoseok's entire body. Immeadiately, his hands moved to familiar places on Yoongi's smaller bodyㅡone resting delicately on his waist and the other tangled roughly in his dark hair.

He knew it was wrong. He didn't deserve it.

But he missed it. He missed him. And he was no longer in control.

Yoongi suddenly pulled back, breathing heavily, his same breath puffing over Hoseok's face. "We need to get inside," he panted. "It's too cold. We'll freeze to death."

A shake of his head. "No. No, we shouldn't have done that. I-I need to get home." Hoseok snatched himself out of Yoongi's grip. "Go home, Yoongi. And forget about me."

"No!"

The shout was full of force, seemingly pushing back the cold and forcing it all on Hoseok. Shivers danced up his spine and he felt goosebumps parade over his skin.

"No," Yoongi repeated. A hand clamped down on Hoseok's arm. "You owe me this. Listen to me for a bit. And I promise to listen to you."

"B-Butㅡ"

"No buts," he insisted. "Please."

Honestly, even after so long, Hoseok still couldn't say no to that face. It was exactly what had gotten him in trouble so long ago, and yet, it still had a vice grip on his heart. And when Yoongi's eyes dipped down and he stuck out his bottom lip, it was like the grip was close to yanking his heart out of his chest for good.

"Fine," he breathed. "Fine. Where are we going?"

~~

"We haven't been here in a while, huh?"

Hoseok stared out the window, hoping that if he didn't react, Yoongi would figure he wasn't listening and give up. But he could see the older man staring at him in the reflection of the window, his eyes narrowed as he took a sip of his hot chocolate.

"Yeah," Hoseok agreed softly.

Yoongi's mug clattered as he shakily set it on the table. "You know, I wanted to apologizeㅡ"

"Don't," Hoseok cut him off, shutting his eyes tight. "You have nothing to apologize for. That was all my own fault."

"No," Yoongi cried quietly. "I knew what was happening, but I led you on. It's as much fault yours as it is mine."

He bit his lip, watching as cars raced past the little coffee shop. His heart was beating fast, feeling as light as an arrow, speeding him straight towards a heart attack. At least, that's what it felt like.

"I'm such a horrible person," he mumbled. "I got greedy. And... jealous, I guess. I couldn't take it anymore. I..." He turned his head, staring down at the white foam spinning in his untouched drink. "I'm a monster."

Yoongi didn't reply. He simply stared at him, a saddened look on his face.

Hoseok scoffed and sat back in the booth. "Stop. Don't pity me."

"What?" Yoongi replied incredulously. "I'm notㅡ"

"Yes, you are." He glanced away, his eyebrows furrowing. "If you wanted to drag me here as some pity party, then I'm leaving. I know the truth, and I don't need you to shove lies down my throat."

"What the hell are you talking about?" The volume of his voice had risen, shocking the whole shop into silence. Yoongi noticed and ducked his head, his voice lowering. "What is wrong with you? I haven't said anything."

"You don't have to! I can see it in your eyes!" Hoseok took an angry sip of his hot chocolate. "I can't believe I let you do this. I..." A sigh slipped from his lips, as hot as his drink. "I let you do anything, don't I? Even after all this time."

"Hobi," Yoongi frowned. "That's not fair."

"Well, I think it is. You know why?"

Yoongi stayed silent, staring. He was frozen, waiting for Hoseok to speak, but his expression showed just how terrified he was of his answer.

"Because I'm the bad guy. Not you, not Seokjin. Me. I did this."

And then Hoseok felt it. The beating inside his chest, threatening to rip his muscles apart and jump out all at once. It was fitting, wasn't it? He was already heartless, in an emotional sense. Might as well be heartless in a physical sense too.

It was only fair.

But he knew what it was. It wasn't anger or sadness, not even the feeling of betrayal. It was nervousness and anxiousness, both the result of the close proximity he held to Yoongi.

Even after all that time, he was still intensely nervous around the older man. He held such a grip over Hoseok, and he wasn't sure if he loved it, or loathed it with all his soul.

"Let me go," he pleaded. "Let me go home. It was a mistake to go to your door."

"Why did you?"

He stopped, looking up. "What?"

"Why did you come to my door?" Yoongi repeated, tilting his head. "We haven't physically seen each forㅡfor months. And then you suddenly appear."

"Because... Well, because..." He was fumbling on his own words, unsure of what to tell him. What could he say? That he was still in love with him and wanted to beg him to take him back? That he was sincerely sorry for all it went down, but he missed him? That he never even liked Seokjin anyway?

"Because, what, Hoseok? Tell me."

He sighed heavily, shutting his eyes. "Because I just wanted to see you, one last time. I just wanted to know that you were alright."

Yoongi didn't respond, so Hoseok was forced to open his eyes and glance up. He didn't expect to see Yoongi staring at him, a surprised expression on his face.

"Really? That's why you came?"

"Of course! Even though it was worse for him, that doesn't mean you weren't hurt by all of it!"

Yoongi looked down at his mug, rubbing it in between his hands. His gloves were off the the side, small and thin, holes peppered across. Hoseok still wondered why he owned such ratty things.

"You know I'm okay," he mumbled. "The only thing that hurt me was when you left."

Hoseok swallowed. "I had to. You know that. It wasn't fair for me to be happy with you, when heㅡ"

"Jin is happy, Hobi." Yoongi reached across the table, laying a hand over one of Hoseok's. "He is. He's dating a friend of mine. He's already moved on."

Hoseok didn't know how to react. He hadn't talked to Seokjin since that night, and he'd been completely cut off from everything, blocked on every social media they both owned. Hoseok wasn't allowed in Seokjin's life anymore. But he had already let it go, and had let someone else into his heart.

"That doesn't fix anything, Yoongi," he choked out, pulling his hand away. "Who cares if he's dating again? That doesn't make me a good person!"

"I didn't say that!" He insisted. "But you need to forgive yourself, like I forgave you!"

"Seokjin never forgave me! He's the one I'm worried about!"

Hoseok stopped when he realized just how loud he'd gotten, and the fact that he was now standing in the booth, curled over the table in an effort to shout louder at Yoongi. He flinched when a woman approached them, asking if there was anything wrong.

"No, I'm sorry," Yoongi assured her. "We are just having a serious conversation, and my friend here got a bit excited."

She left quickly, though she stared at Hoseok once he slid back down into his chair.

He rubbed his hands over his face, shutting his eyes tight. "You don't get it," he asked. "I made the mistake, and yes, we both got a bad end to it. But Seokjinㅡhe was torn."

"But he's okayㅡ"

"He's not okay. He will never be okay." Hoseok shook his head, peeking through his fingers. "You don't understand. He may look okay on the outside, but he'll always have the memory. It will forever haunt him."

He watched as Yoongi grabbed a sugar packet from the case beside them, picking and ripping at the edges. "How do you know that?"

"Because... I know him. God, I dated him for two years." Hoseok dropped his hands, looking up to stare at the ceiling. "Two whole years. He was mine for two years. He loved me."

"Did you love him?"

"Are you serious?" He asked incredulously. "Of course I did. I-I still do."

Yoongi ripped the packet open suddenly, the sugar pouring out onto the table. He cleared his throat, saying, "And then you met me."

"Don't do that."

"Do what, Hoseok?"

"Oh, no more nicknames now? You know what I'm talking aboutㅡacting like meeting you messed up my perfect relationship."

Yoongi pushed around the sugar. "But it did."

"It didn't!" Hoseok, in a fit of annoyance, took a large gulp of his hot chocolate, wincing at the heat as it burned down his throat. "Gah! Y-Youㅡ"

"Calm down," Yoongi frowned, reaching over to put a hand on his once more. "Breathe."

Hoseok slapped his hand away, scowling, "Does it look like I'm not?"

Immeadiately, he realized he'd said something wrong. Yoongi was looking down at his lap, his hands wringing in an awkward manner.

Hoseok grimaced at himself. "Sorry, I-I didn't mean to snap. I'm just..." He sighed heavily. "I just want to explain it all to you."

"So explain it, Hobi. I'm still here, aren't I?"

The younger man smiled half-heartedly. "Yeah. You are." He gathered his hands around his mug, holding it tight. "I was perfectly happy with Seokjin, okay? He was my first love, and I thought I'd be with him forever."

"And thenㅡ"

"Yes, yes; then I met you. But, you didn't ruin anything. You justㅡyou just opened my eyes, I guess." Hoseok bit his lower lip, thinking. "I was honestly surprised I hadn't met you before, seeing as how good friends you two were."

Yoongi laughed lightly. "That's because I was always hanging out with Namjoon, who used to be my roomate. That's actually, er, his new boyfriend."

Hoseok nodded. "Yeah. I remember that guy..." His smile was small and forced. "Anyways, what happened, happenedㅡyou got me. You worked your little... magic on me, and I fell in love with you."

"Yeah, but that wasn't myㅡ"

Hoseok waved him off. "I know. But still, it was all me. I was in a two year relationship, and yet I still blew it off for that one night. The one night where my life went completely upside down," he sighed. "What I wanted to explain was that no one should take blame for this, except for me. I had plenty of chances to call it off, or to completely forget about you. But I didn't. And because of that, I broke Seokjin's heart, it tore us apart, and I've been... like this ever since."

"And you can't forgive yourself?"

"Would you?" He stared into Yoongi's eyes, an intense look that he couldn't look away from. "Seriously, could you? If you were me, could you forgive yourself?"

"Well, I don'tㅡ"

"Exactly."

They fell into silence, Yoongi blinking in disbelief and Hoseok taking another sip of his drink, trying to drown out any words that Yoongi could possibly worm into his mind.

The older man was struck with helplessness. Nothing he was doing was getting through to Hoseok. And it wasn't that he thought what happened wasn't badㅡit was! It was horrible, and he knew that because Seokjin was one of his closest friends! It was terrible between the two of them for the longest time.

But like he'd said, Seokjin had moved on. He may never forget, but he did forgive enough to fall in love with someone else. Why couldn't Hoseok see that?

On the other side of the table, Hoseok was going through inner turmoil. His heart squeezed every time he thought of the broken, torn look on Seokjin's face when he walked in on them that night. It was the exact moment Hoseok realized how much of a monster he wasㅡhow much of an absolute asshole he had become.

Seokjin had never screamed as hard as he did that night. Sometimes, Hoseok still woke up in a crying, blubbering mess just thinking about the pain he caused.

"This is why I want you to forget it all and, especially, forget about me," Hoseok spoke up. "I want to leave it all behind, which means... leaving you behind.

"What?" Yoongi's eyes widened. "No! D-Do you know how long I've been waiting for you? I love you, Hobi! You can't just... leave me like this!"

"I can, and I will." Hoseok looked up to meet his eyes, his eyes already red and a tear slipping down his cheeks. "I have to," he cried quietly. "Can't you see that?"

"No, I can't," Yoongi whispered in response. "I really, really, really can't. BecauseㅡBecause there's nothing to worry about."

"Yoongiㅡ"

"No! No, let me talk. My turn." He slid out of the booth, moving slowly towards Hoseok's side. "Everything is okay now, Hobi. I knowㅡwhat you did was horrible and not at all okay. B-Butㅡ"

"Stop," Hoseok cried, covering his face. "Stop it. Stop talking."

"But," he continued. "Seokjin is doing better. He'll never forget, we know. But he's moved on." Yoongi climbed into the seat, sliding towards the younger man. Already, his eyes grew moist, his lip wobbling as he spoke. "Jin has moved on and I've gotten my life back together, but you're stuck. Please, let me help you."

"You can't," Hoseok whimpered, shying away from Yoongi's reach. "I deserve this. I don't deserve to be with anyoneㅡto be with you..."

"God, yes you do." Yoongi suddenly threw himself towards the younger man, cupping his face in his hands. "Yes, you do. Look at how much this has destroyed you; that means that you're a good person with a good heart. You didn't hurt Seokjin on purpose."

"Yoongi, I-I can'tㅡ"

"Please," he whispered, resting their foreheads together. "Please, let me love you."

He closed the distance between them, their lips locking in a rushed, tearful kiss. Hoseok still sobbed but he held tight to Yoongi, pulling him hard against him in an effort to hold onto his sanity.

Yoongi could feel his tears rubbing onto his own face, but he clenched Hoseok's face tighter. He had been craving his lips once again, yearning for the arms that were now wrapped around his waist. God, just to feel his stubble scratching against his own jaw made the wait so worth it.

But then he was suddenly pushed away, Hoseok scrambling out of the bench and running through the door. Yoongi, still in a daze from the kiss, was a little slower. But he pushed himself up and ran after him as quick as he could.

He broke through the door, about to scream for Hoseok once more, but the sound of sobbing stopped him.

Just across the street, Hoseok sat doubled-over on a bench, his head buried in his jacket and his scarf wrapped around his hair. His head was down into his arms, but his sobs reached Yoongi's ears easily and it pulled on his heart strings, seemingly yanking him to the other side.

Hoseok felt Yoongi sit quietly beside him, but he didn't move, keeping his face buried from the air. It felt hot inside his jacket, but he didn't dare reveal himself, knowing that Yoongi would speak.

He heard a rustle and then felt something brush his leg. The bench shifted and he heard Yoongi walk away, his shoes tapping against the cement of the sidewalk.

Hoseok glanced up and over his collar, seeing two letters balanced on his knee. They were both folded, but one was smaller, the color a little brown and faded. The other was a napkin and was, obviously, fresh.

The smaller one had a very delicate cursive Hobi on top, and the other had 'read Jin's first', so it wasn't very hard for Hoseok to decide.

He wiped his face with his sleeve and slowly opened the letter, not at all surprised to be met with Seokjin's cursive handwriting starting it out. His heart was pounding faster than a drum, but it was better late than never.

 

I expect you're reading this, Hoseok.

For days, I've been planning what I wanted to say to you. I had a whole monologue of what I was going to write. But now that I'm sitting here, ready to write, I'm not sure how to start.

I guess anywhere would be good. So, it'd be best if I began with myself.

It's been about a month since... we broke up. Sometimes, my minds forgets that fact, and I find myself missing you. Or I find something amusing, be it on social media or something, and my first thought is to show it to you.

Because, really, I'm used to that. I'm used to you, Hoseok. For two whole years, you were my home. My safe place. My life.

And, I can't believe I'm about to admit this but, now that's not true anymore.

I think... well, I'm not sure. In fact, I believe I'm still in denial. And a bit of shock. I keep imagining waking up in the middle of the night from this bad nightmare, and to find you beside me rousing gently to comfort me. But that won't happen, will it?

I didn't want to tell you this, but now that I have tears ruining my page, I might as well.

Even though it was months ago, I haven't stopped crying. God, I never realized how many tears I could produce but nowㅡit seems they never stop.

Although, I have had some comfort from Namjoon. Do you remember him?

Yoongi does.

And now, it seems I've run out of things to say. I don't know how to continue. I'm not sure what to say. Usually, talking to you is so easy. But I don't trust myself to speak to you right now. I honestly can't predict what would happen.

Which is why, to get this to you, I'll give it to him. Him being Yoongi, which is where I'm sure you got this letter from.

I don't know when you're reading this, though. Yoongi has been, and always will be, unpredictable, so he could be giving you this letter at my funeral, as far as I know.

Regardless, I've done a lot of thinking. And even though, yes, I haven't stopped crying, I've made a decision.

Maybe it's naive, or selfish because I want you back in my life. But I've decided to let it go. I won't get hung up on this. Yes, it'll be a whole two years I'm throwing behind my back. But to move on, I have to. So, what I'm saying is, I forgive you.

Because I want thank you. You, Jung Hoseok, gave me the best two years of my life, and I will never forget our memories and the laughs we shared. Although it's gone now, those will forever remain cherished memories. Thank you.

And with that, I think this is all I really planned to say. I didn't want it to be too long, since this was just a greeting and a goodbye. You know how bad I am at goodbye's.

Regardless, I hope you find some happiness. I know who you are and I know you're crushed by what you did, but please, forgive yourself at some point. Because one day, not now but in the future, I'll try and find you again. I don't want to let go of our friendship, so look forward to that.

But by then, I want Hobi back. Not a sad excuse of a Jung Hoseok. But Hobi, my best friend. So forgive yourself when you can, and meet me halfway.

So this is my goodbye. I hope to see you again one day. And, even though I sit here crushed, my mind refusing to leave you behind, I love you.

- Jin

 

By the time Hoseok finished reading, his own tears were falling from his eyes, dripping onto the page where Seokjin's had stained it. His hands were shaking, forcing the paper to copy their movements. All Hoseok could hear was the rustling of the page.

His words brought back so much to his heart. God, how was he allowed to forgive himself when he had left Seokjin so heart broken? It was worse than he thought.

He'd seen Seokjin cry before, but he has always been there to hold him. This time, he wasn't.

But then Namjoon appeared in his mind and remembered that they were together now. Most likely, he has been there in Hoseok's place to comfort Seokjin. The thought made his heart warm.

Still, what he had done was horrible. And Seokjinㅡhow could he forgive Hoseok? So quickly too, when he hadn't even forgiven himself.

Hoseok's eyes drifted back to his knee, to the napkin that fluttered gently in the breeze. He sniffed, wiping away his tears, before grabbing it quickly. He swallowed hard and then opened the napkin.

 

If you haven't, I suggest you read Jin's letter first . If you have, here's a choice . And I'm only giving you one, so decide now .

If you've decided to forgive yourself, come meet me back at my house . We can talk there .

If you haven't, well... I guess I have to let you go . I'll always wait for you, but you need more time . In which, this will be goodbye .

I'll stay up for another hour in case you come . Maybe I'll see you soon .

- Yoongi

 

His life was no longer simple, was it?

He had Seokjin who told him to forgive himself, because he had already done so. His ex-boyfriend who had already moved on and begged him to move on as well.

And then Yoongi, someone who loved him to death and had waited so long for him. Yoongi, who still waited, asking him to forgive himself as well.

But could he? Could Hoseok really forgive himself?

He stuffed the letters into his pocket and leaned back, staring up at the dark early morning sky. The stars, the ones that were left, twinkled at him brightly. It reminded him of the glow-in-the-dark stars Seokjin used to have on his ceiling back when they were teenagers.

Hoseok looked away.

Instead, his eyes drifted down, back to the coffee shop. He spotted a man gliding through the doors, rubbing sleep from his eyes. It reminded him of his early mornings for work, waking up to Seokjin still soundly asleep beside him. And he never forgot to leave a kiss on his boyfriend's forehead before he left.

God dammit.

Hoseok shut his eyes tight, pushing the balls of his hands over them. Everything reminded him of his time with Seokjin. For the months that passed, everything had taunted him.

But now, he had Seokjin telling him to let it go.

Maybe he should. Maybe this was the worlds way of saying, "It's alright. You've been forgiven. Start anew." Maybe he just refused to listen. Should he?

He felt his phone suddenly vibrate in his pocket and he pulled it out, squinting against the brightness of the screen.

It was from an unknown number, but after he read it, he felt like it was the final push he needed.

 

Hi. This is Kim Namjoon. And I know we don't know each other well, but... please, I'm begging you. Forgive yourself. Seokjin has been here crying since Yoongi's call. He misses you. Please.

 

At that moment, Hoseok realized he really needed to move on. He ran away in the first place to let Seokjin heal, but here he was, still causing him to cry. If moving on was what it took to make him smile again, that was it. He needed to.

Hoseok clenched his jaw before getting to his feet, sucking in a large cold breath. This was good, right? Moving on was good?

He stuffed his phone away, then leaving a hand in his pocket to feel for the letters tucked away. This was it. He was moving on.

But first, he had someone to meet.