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The Truth Inside the Lie

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Jung Hoseok loves weddings, but he is fucking exhausted.

He smacks a kiss on the cheek of his latest dance partner, a sweet-looking bridesmaid who's been too self-conscious to do more than sway to the beat, and she lights up before he moves away. Noticing without noticing, he watches her turn to her friends, happy and sparkling, and when another man moves in to her space she's a little more sure than she was before.

Hoseok smiles to himself, then looks for Namjoon, who is the groom, and somehow very hard to see when his hair isn't a ludicrous shade of pastel. His new bride had insisted on something more traditional, and Namjoon had bitched to Hoseok about it at endless length when she did. But Hoseok knows that Namjoon wants to make Eun-ji happy, that Namjoon thinks of little else once he steps outside of the walls of his entertainment company, and so Hoseok had taken him to the hair salon himself the week before.

Eventually he spots the couple in a throng of well-wishers, and Hoseok shoves his way through the crowd with smiles and little apologies until he's at Namjoon's side.

"Great wedding, man," he says cheerily, slapping him on the back. "A-plus work, would wed again."

Namjoon grins at him, and he looks a lot younger than he's been looking lately, most of the lines furrowed into his forehead smoothed out in relief. "Thanks," he says. "Your approval means the world to us."

"As it should," says Hoseok. "I bring good luck wherever I go."

Eun-ji sees him out of the corner of her eye and smiles suddenly. "Hoseok! Just who I was hoping to see. I need a favor."

Hoseok covers his mouth in surprise. "I didn't think it would happen this soon, but of course I'll run away with you. The timing isn't ideal, I suppose, but our love can no longer be denied."

It's a measure of her intensity that she doesn't even pause to berate him, though Namjoon swats him across the back of the head with a hand that's a little heavier than it needs to be.

"My coworker is sitting over at a table by herself, and she's not great with people," she says. "Can you go talk to her? Maybe introduce her around a little to some of Namjoon's friends? I'd do it myself but there's a thousand people here."

Hoseok rubs the back of his head and stops himself from mentioning that she was the one in charge of the guest list. "Of course. Hobi's on the case. Which table?"

Eun-ji lifts her head subtly, and Hoseok sees a serious-looking woman in a light green dress staring at her phone.

"Got it," he says. "You can count on me."

"Thanks," says Eun-ji. "You're the best."

"I know, right?" says Hoseok, and she gives him a hug before turning back to someone else.

Hoseok congratulates Namjoon again, then heads across to the lonely woman and draws her out of her technological world with a deft touch. He learns enough about her to figure out who she might tolerate, then drags her to a new table, citing the dangers of sitting facing westwards underneath a hanging paper lantern. Before long she's laughing alongside Namjoon's entire accounting department, busy cracking numerical jokes that Hoseok can only pretend to understand, and when he excuses himself with a cheerful wave he breathes a sigh of relief.

He dances with more people, not remembering the names, stopping for water breaks and casual conversations whenever he can. Eventually he needs a break from the unfamiliar and so he dances with Yoongi, his best friend, who's too busy staring at his boyfriend to focus on Hoseok's patient dance lesson.

"Hey," says Hoseok, snapping his fingers in front of Yoongi's face. "If you're going to shack up with a dancer for the rest of your life, you're going to need to know this shit."

"Fuck you," says Yoongi, swatting at his hand. "The only thing I need to know about dancing is that Jimin is better at it than you are."

Hoseok holds a pained hand over his heart, even as he moves inside the rhythm. "How dare you. After all we've been through together," he says. "I notice you don't deny where you'll be bunking the rest of your life, though."

Yoongi flushes and looks away, an uncharacteristic move that has Hoseok laughing despite himself. Yoongi's skill with music was only matched by his unskill with romance, and Hoseok is simultaneously pleased and horrified to see him spiraling into cozy domesticity with Park Jimin. Hoseok is glad for his friend, and Jimin is both a treasured member of Hoseok's dance idol group and the kind of happy, carefree person that Yoongi has always needed to balance out his self-created ennui, but Yoongi's moods move fast and don't stop for red lights, and it's a lot for Hoseok to keep track of.

So Hoseok dances with Jimin too, partially to annoy Yoongi and partially to check in, but Jimin seems happy, a little in lust and a lot in love, and Hoseok supposes that's good enough for tonight. He falls back into the music, because Jimin really is almost as good of a dancer as he is, and when the song is over he can only laugh when Yoongi shoves him away and takes Jimin back for himself.

Hoseok wanders away to the bar, grabbing more waters and trying to wipe his sweat away with napkins. Everyone knows him, and says hi to him, and waves him over, but he doesn't stop with any of the groups that want him. Instead he heads to the corner of the outdoor garden, where a fan turns lazily from side to side, and drops onto a bench with a sigh.

He reaches down and rubs at his knee, feeling a little twinge where he'd been over-enthusiastic, and he wishes he'd gotten some ice from the bartender.

The wind from the fan cools him out as he leans back and stares at the party, looking at all the little knots of people, trying to see the threads. The reception is going perfectly, waiters and guests dipping between each other in a weaving pattern that's chaos and beauty combined. The bridesmaid he'd danced with is spinning inside the circle of another man's arms, light and easy. Eun-ji's serious coworker is on the dance floor too, doing some kind of horrific half-stepping movements that have Hoseok both pleased and appalled.

And his friends are their own points of light, things that don't need him to intervene. Yoongi and Jimin are in their own world as they so often are now, turning around each other, and Namjoon and Eun-ji are holding court, the king and queen of this place, and they're happy too.

Everyone's doing well, and Hoseok relaxes, just a little.

A body settles onto the bench next to him and Hoseok starts, twisting to the side.

"What a lovely party," says Kim Seokjin. "Kim Eun-ji is a formidable planner."

"I think they'll put that on her tombstone," says Hoseok, turning away. His fingers drum on the back of the bench, keeping time with beat from the speaker above him, and he tries very hard to stay relaxed.

"Which she will undoubtedly design to perfection as her final act."

Hoseok laughs, but it sounds a little high to his ears. Seokjin isn't even looking at him, but Hoseok feels like he is, and he curses whatever magical voodoo is fucking with him recently, making his life this way.

Kim Seokjin is Jimin's friend, Yoongi's biggest enemy, and one of the most handsome men Hoseok has ever seen. And the hell of it is, none of that matters to him, really. Jimin is his protege but it doesn't matter who his friends are, and Yoongi is his best friend but it doesn't matter who his enemies are, especially since he's beaten Seokjin at whatever strange war they'd been waging for Jimin's soul. And as far as handsome men go, Hoseok appreciates a good-looking guy but he's always been into women, and he's never had cause to question the assertion.

But then Seokjin had kissed him at a dinner party, one of the best kisses of Hoseok's admittedly unadventurous life, and the memory has been swimming around in the murky recesses of Hoseok's mind ever since.

He'd hardly spoken to the man after, their social circles entirely separate, and Hoseok doubts that Seokjin even remembers it at this point. It had been a joke, or an object lesson, a response to Hoseok needling him for Yoongi's sake, and Seokjin had seemed completely aware that Hoseok was straight before it even started. For all he knows Seokjin is straight, too. And certainly the man could attract any person with functioning eyes that he set his mind to, which means he wouldn't want someone like Hoseok, so he obviously doesn't need to worry about it. At all.

Seokjin also seems entirely unaware of his discomfort. "How is your knee?"

Hoseok looks down at it, nonplussed. "Present and accounted for?"

Seokjin smiles, a cool movement of the lips that conveys no information at all. "I'm a doctor. I saw you favoring it. I wanted to make sure there was no injury."

"Oh. Yeah, it's fine. Just tweaked it a little last week. It's getting better. Thanks."

"You shouldn't overwork it," says Seokjin. "Rest, ice, compression and elevation are the keys, and there's a reason that rest comes first."

Hoseok quirks an eyebrow. "I've been dancing my whole life. I've heard the speech. Don't worry, I know what my body can take."

"But I expect you're no longer as young as you once were," says Seokjin. "One minute."

Without waiting for Hoseok to respond, Seokjin leaves, and Hoseok stretches out as he leans back further. Namjoon sees him through a break in the crowd and makes a concerned face at him, and Hoseok responds with his signature two thumbs up before Namjoon is swallowed up again.

"Here," says Seokjin, reappearing out of nowhere yet again, and Hoseok flinches away, banging his elbow against the bench.

"Jesus, are you some kind of wizard?" asks Hoseok, rubbing his elbow and wincing.

"Perhaps," says Seokjin. He holds out a glass filled with ice, then sits when Hoseok doesn't take it. "This is for you."

"Okay, but you're going to need to get another one for my elbow now."

Seokjin flashes a smile into the night. His suit is sharp, designer-label to Hoseok's discerning eye, and the crisp button-up is a nice complement to his perfectly white teeth. "Is that a true request?"

"No," says Hoseok. "It's what we in the business like to call a joke. It's a thing people say, to make other people laugh."

"Your ice is melting," says Seokjin mildly, and Hoseok takes it and presses it to the side of his knee with a huff of breath.

And then Seokjin does laugh, small and polite, and says, "Not there. On the top. I suspect it's your ligament that needs the soothing."

Before Hoseok can stop him, he reaches over and touches the top of Hoseok's knee, probing the top of it with delicate fingers. He has nice hands, Hoseok thinks idly, strong and well-formed, the hands of an artist. If he weren't creating uncomfortable tingles up and down Hoseok's leg with those hands, Hoseok would be able to appreciate them more easily.

"I won't pay you for a massage without the happy ending," he says, then stops, flushing.

But Seokjin doesn't answer, nor does he stop. "Yes, it seems a little tender. Keep icing it, and no more dancing for a few days. You'll be fine."

"No dancing? This is a wedding," says Hoseok, as though he's speaking to a small child.

"Ah, I wondered why so many women were wearing the same dress," says Seokjin. "Everything makes so much more sense now."

Hoseok laughs despite himself, then says, "Wait a second, aren't you a surgeon? You don't know anything about treating knee injuries."

Seokjin's fingers fall still on his knee, and he looks at Hoseok with another cool smile. "They still make you take all of the classes. In order to cut people open, you have to know what you expect to stick your hands into on the other side."

"Gross," says Hoseok, wrinkling his nose.

"Occasionally," says Seokjin.

A woman approaches them, smiling broadly, and Hoseok waits with curiosity to see which one of them she'll choose. Not that there's much of a contest, as she turns immediately to Seokjin. "Would you like to dance?"

To Hoseok's immense relief, Seokjin removes his hand. "I'm sorry, I don't dance," he says.

The woman's face falls, and she slides a sad half-step backwards. "Oh," she says, and she doesn't say anything else.

Hoseok waits for Seokjin to respond, to tell her that he supposes a dance won't hurt, but Seokjin says nothing else at all. When Hoseok looks at him, his handsome face is a smooth mask, features even and perfect and utterly devoid of any emotion.

Well fuck that. "I realize I'm a poor second choice," says Hoseok, setting down his glass of ice and standing up, "but I'd love to dance with you, if you'll lower your standards for a few songs."

She smiles at him, only a little less brilliantly, and says, "But you're injured."

"There's nothing to cure a man like dancing with a beautiful woman."

Her smile widens, and he links his hand in hers and follows her to the dance floor. He glances back at Seokjin in annoyance as he does, and the man doesn't look guilty at all. He's good-looking and well-tailored, but looking at him now, Hoseok can't feel even a hint of lingering attraction. How much of a dick does someone have to be to reject an invitation to dance at a wedding?

In fairness, Yoongi probably would, if he was in the wrong mood. But Yoongi at least has the grace to look like a homicidal homeless man at all times, repelling all but the most determined of dancers, whereas Seokjin dresses like a model and obviously uses skin-care products to within an inch of their life. So yeah. A dick.

Even more dickishly, Seokjin looks annoyed with him, like Hoseok is the one doing something wrong here, and Hoseok has no time for that. He turns back towards the woman, grinning at her until she's laughing, dancing under the stars. He forgets about his knee as he moves from partner to partner, and by the end of the night he's forgotten all about Seokjin, too.

"Stop making out and entertain me," says Hoseok.

Yoongi and Jimin detach from each other, Yoongi glaring and Jimin contrite. Hoseok just crosses his arms, waiting.

"Sorry, Manager Jung," says Jimin.

"You're the one who invited yourself over," says Yoongi.

"I'm bored," says Hoseok. "Namjoon's still off on his honeymoon, going out drinking alone on a Tuesday is sad even for me, and everyone else I know is busy. But, as my best friend you're required to hang out with me whenever I ask. It's in the contract."

"I knew I should have had a lawyer look that over," says Yoongi. "But here's a crazy idea - you could hang out at your place. Alone."

Hoseok sighs. "A man can only masturbate so many times before it's a medical problem. I'm too raw."

Yoongi throws a pillow at him and groans. "That's it, no more sex for the rest of my life. Jimin, I'm sorry."

"It's okay, I'll still love you," says Jimin sweetly. "Manager Jung, do you want to go over our new song's choreography? I could use help with the bridge."

"Jimin, you never need help with anything, but I appreciate your tireless efforts to convince me that you haven't outgrown my tutelage," says Hoseok. "Can we watch a movie? That way you guys can feel each other up but I can still pretend like you want to hang out with me."

"You're not going to torture him with dance?" asks Yoongi, eyebrows raised. "Are you okay?"

"My knee hurts. I think I'm dying," says Hoseok dramatically. "This could be my last night on this earth."

Jimin jumps up, hands fluttering. "I'll get you ice."

He runs off into the kitchen on light feet, and Hoseok laughs at his eagerness. Yoongi's eyes follow him fondly before focusing back on Hoseok. "You sure you're okay? You seem weird. And don't you dare say anything about your dick."

Hoseok shrugs. "I broke up with Yina over the weekend."


"Yeah. She was mad I didn't take her to Namjoon's wedding. She said it meant I wasn't serious about her."

"I mean, it kind of did," says Yoongi as Jimin comes back with ice wrapped in a dish towel and busies himself applying it to Hoseok's leg.

"I know, but it had only been like, three weeks. I'd feel worse if it wasn't so obvious that she was more pissed about missing out on all of Namjoon's rich friends than a night with me," he says, sighing. "Whatever. That'll teach me to pick girls up at bars."

"That's where you get 100% of your girlfriends," says Yoongi. "Every single one of them."

Hoseok brightens. "Then I'll turn over a new leaf! No more bar girls and in and out relationships. I'll find other kinds of girls. Coffee shop girls. Library girls. Train girls. Maybe it will help."

Jimin says, "You should try college campuses. There are lots of girls there."

"Now you're thinking, Jiminie. Yoongi, how bad does it suck that he's both the beauty and the brains in your relationship? You're really not pulling your weight here."

"Yep, he's slumming it with me, and he likes it," says Yoongi, running his hand up Jimin's back. "Want to pick the movie?"

Jimin shakes his head and settles against Yoongi's chest. "Manager Jung can choose."

Yoongi groans. "What have I done to deserve this? At least turn off the lights so I can take a nap during whatever fucking romcom he picks."

"As you wish, you fucking grandpa," says Hoseok, jumping up and dimming the lights, which dislodges Jimin's carefully applied ice pack. He readjusts it, then picks out the sweetest, sappiest movie he can find, grabs a nearby tissue box, and curls up on the couch.

Jimin and Yoongi are already a little lost in each other again, and Hoseok sighs. It's nice that they're letting him stay, he knows, especially given the particularly grumpy way Yoongi had reacted when he'd shown up. It's a measure of how much they care about him that they didn't simply slam the door in his face, but he still feels a little lonely down on his side of the couch.