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Strange Changes

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In all your life, you’d never known a greater suffering.

The agony of existence, unrelenting in its cruelty, made your heart ache and your eyes water with the welling of tears. Your pain seemed inevitable, inescapable, and the hopelessness of it all was enough to make you lament the poor hand you’d been dealt.

That or you deserved every bit of misery due to your own inability to say no when friends offered to buy you shots.

“Hangovers fucking suck…” you moaned, words slightly lost in the cushioned softness of your pillow and you winced as you lifted your head, the scent of your own breath as foul as your mood.

You had zero clue what the actual time was and you rather much didn’t care to consult your phone to find out, having no desire to learn how much of your Sunday you’d wasted in bed or reply to however many text messages you probably had waiting for you. Given that your skull felt ready to explode while your stomach was churning like you’d eaten a wet sock, dealing with people sounded like the exact opposite of what you really wanted to do, which was maybe die. Or possibly take some pain medicine and dare to nibble some dry toast. With a pitiful groan and a few minutes of trying to work up the motivation, you managed to force yourself out of bed, gracelessly rolling off the mattress with a loud thud and another disgruntled sound, blanket wrapped around you like a makeshift cloak. You clutched the material tight around your body, not caring how much it dragged once you maneuvered yourself onto your feet, having no doubt that you looked about as attractive as roadkill in your unshowered state. The lack of noise in the apartment indicated well enough that your roommate hadn’t invited any unwanted guests over and he’d seen you miserably hungover enough times that you found yourself lacking the capacity to care if you looked bad around him. He was pretty much the only person you usually cared to see the morning after a night of heavy drinking anyway.

“Hobi,” you whined out, scrunching your eyes against the brighter illumination to be found outside of your darkened bedroom, and you drew the improvised hood of your blanket shield further around your face.

You felt an immediate disdain for the sunshine and all its painful brilliance, pouting over the fact that Hoseok hadn’t at least closed the blinds a bit as he usually did whenever he knew you’d be nursing a hangover, and the reality that he hadn’t reminded you that he hadn’t done any drinking the night before. His alcohol tolerance had always been worse than your own and yours tended to be pretty pitiful, so the lack of proper darkness told you that he definitely hadn’t joined you in the regretful sorrow that came with over indulging. Usually, though, he had a way about being incredibly caring if he’d woken up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed while you felt like pure death, always leaving water and painkillers beside your bed. Sure, as your best friend, he could be completely evil by making jokes about the sorry state you were in and forgetting to use his inside voice, if he even had one, specifically to cause you pain, but he also made sure every time to fix you something easy on your stomach as well as give you all the hugs you could ever ask for. Hobi had as much been your ultimate hangover cure as you’d been his and the lack of his usual post-drinking thoughtfulness thus far had soured your already sour mood only a few steps past your bedroom.

“Hobi?”

Your voice retained its pitiable, whining quality as you called out for him, shambling like an extra on the set of The Walking Dead towards his closed bedroom door. You knocked a few times, leaning your forehead against it as you waited for him to answer, furrowing your aching brow at the silent moments that ticked by. A second round of knocks heralded much the same result, curiosity bidding you to turn the knob to take a swift peek into his room, finding it empty.

“Well…shit…”

Having no Hobi hangover cure made your pout deepen for a moment, closing his door to shuffle away from his bedroom in a nearly depressed silence, the kitchen your next goal once you’d closed the blinds to block out the infernal sunlight. It wasn’t as if you couldn’t weather the storm that was a hangover without your best buddy nearby, but it tended to be a less miserable time with his hugs and cuddles, not to mention the way he’d pet your aching head. Thinking on it made you feel incredibly spoiled by his past care, but it was some comfort to remind yourself that had the shoe been on the other foot, Hoseok would have felt just as bummed out not to have you around to nurse him while his body rebelled against him. After all, you gave a damn good neck rub and he practically lived for them, hungover or otherwise. You were sure once he came home from whatever plans he’d had that day that he’d be there to make his usual hangover jokes and give your forehead a good few smooches, the thought almost making you smile as you reached into the fridge for a bottle of water. The sight of various foods within had your stomach twisting, though you were relieved that the urge to vomit seemed to have abated with the previous bouts of sickness you’d endured that morning, reaffirming your decision to have a few pieces of dry toast.

You shoved two slices into the toaster, grimacing at the collection of crumbs surrounding the device that signified Hoseok’s most recent use that morning, flicking the dry bits about until your bread startled you once it popped up. It was tempting to spread a little jelly or butter across the toast, but you decided to err on the side of caution, moving to flop heavily into one of the chairs at the small kitchen table as you crunched your meager meal. Your stomach clenched, but your previous feelings of intense nausea seemed far away, and you had to admit that you felt mildly alleviated by the presence of food in your belly and cool water in your parched mouth as you sipped from a bottle pilfered from the fridge. Returning to bed was a tempting prospect after you’d hydrated and consumed something small, but one quick sniff at your own body had you cringing until your head hurt further, craving a little cleanliness as well as the soothing rush of hot water gliding over your aching body. Perhaps once you’d swallowed some medicine and washed up, you’d feel up to eating something with a little more substance or maybe Hoseok would return home to give you the hugs you so desperately craved.

Resolved to at least stay out of bed until you were smelling a little better, you headed into the bathroom adjacent from your room, tossing your blanket across the hall into your open doorway before you set out to bathe. By the time the bathroom had filled with steam, the water temperature at a perfectly soothing level of hot, you genuinely felt relieved, sighing almost happily as you scrubbed at your skin while allowing the tension in your body to slowly loosen. The medicine you took just before hopping into the shower would no doubt help with at least some of the remaining pain throbbing in your head, but every little bit of improvement was welcome and wonderful. You stayed in the shower well after you’d finished cleaning yourself, feeling utterly remorseless in using up all the hot water when you had the apartment to yourself, refusing to leave the comfort of the shower spray until it had finally started to grow a bit more tepid. You dried yourself in the tub, wrapping the towel around your body once you were no longer dripping and felt yourself nearly shivering at the temperature change, goosebumps creeping along your skin after you stepped out of the bathroom, shutting the door behind you as not to set off the touchy fire alarm due to the heat. You’d made no more then a few steps into your bedroom when you heard the front door opening, expression perking up as you looked past your doorway to see Hoseok coming inside, his face notably fatigued as he hooked his keys up and dropped his gym bag carelessly to the floor.

“Hobi!” you whined albeit a great deal more enthusiastically then you had earlier, making an immediate beeline for your roommate, arms outstretched.

You burrowed into his chest straightaway, without a stitch of concern for how sweaty he seemingly was, and you’d rushed to him so quickly that you’d missed the flash of near panic on his face just before your body met his.

“I missed you! I woke up feeling like death and you weren’t here to holler at me with that loud ass voice of yours or give me hangover cuddles!”

Hoseok didn’t respond right away, making a series of ‘uhms’ and 'ahhs’ rather than saying anything truly discernible, and you wondered for a moment why he’d suddenly become so inarticulate while struggling with how someone who had clearly just been working out could still smell so damn good. You wrapped your arms around his waist, cheek to his chest and eyes happily closed, opening only when you felt his hands almost awkwardly start to pat your back. It presented to you as an odd thing for him to do, something he’d never actually done with you before, and you eased back a bit to stare up at him in confusion, wondering why he hadn’t just hugged you back as he always had or for that matter why his eyes kept flitting from you to anywhere else.

“Hobi?”

“Uh, yeah. I…Jungkook and all…you know how he is! He’ll pester anybody he can to go workout with him if Jin isn’t in the mood. Guess it was just my turn. Whew! Am I sore!”

He patted your back a few more times before he settled his hands on your shoulders and slowly, carefully pushed you away from him. Another odd thing to do, one that had you cocking your head to the side.

“Yeah. Sounds about right. That shithead was the one who kept telling me to keep drinking last night, so I’m not gonna lie, I’m kinda pissed that he’s not hungover too. Though…I guess I can’t really get mad at him since he paid for all my drinks. If you’re gonna have a wicked hangover, it may as well be for free, right?”

“Uh-huh. Yeah. So, hey, uhm…maybe you should go get dressed?”

“Hm?”

You glanced down at your towel-clad form, not really seeing what was amiss when the towel had no holes in it and covered you from mid-thigh to chest, very little cleavage even visible. You’d wandered around the apartment in much the same on numerous occasions without your friend even batting an eye, sometimes so invested in a video game he’d been playing that he hardly seemed to care. Hell, there’d been at least two occasions he’d spied you walking through the apartment in little more than a tank top and a pair of panties, once to bring him a condom from your stash when he’d run out after bringing a one night stand home. Certain states of undress had become almost common between the two of you, so Hoseok’s apparent need for you to get dressed, while not unreasonable, seemed a little perplexing.

“You’re still a little damp. Don’t need to catch a cold after you’ve been hungover.”

“Oh! Yeah, good point! Geez, for a split second I was starting to think I looked really terrible or something like I was offending your eyes. Way to make a gal paranoid, Jung Hoseok.”

“Nope. Nope. You look great! I mean, fine! Just fine!”

Hoseok gave you a thumbs up while specifically seeming to avoid looking directly at you as much as humanly possible, his actions hardly matching his words. The desire to question what the heck was up with him and why he was acting so strange was strong, incredibly strong, but he’d made a damn good point about the cold temperature of the apartment and the lingering chill on your mostly bare skin had you craving the comfort of clean pajamas. That aside, if he had suddenly become uncomfortable for whatever reason with you being scantly clad then there was definitely no reason to be a jerk and disregard his feelings, no matter what the reason for the way they’d changed might be. You could just as easily probe for details once you had pants on, turning to head to your room where a fresh pair of underwear awaited you.

“YN!”

Drawing to a halt in your doorway, you shifted your body to ensure that only your head was poking out, trying to comfort your unexpectedly bashful friend while trying your absolute damnedest to figure out what his expression meant at that moment. He looked uncomfortable still, but also uncertain in some way, almost worried, and it only added to how utterly baffled you’d become.

“Do you remember anything?”

“About?”

Hoseok paused, rubbing a hand across the side of his neck, eyes darting around and away from you all over again, like focusing on even just your face had become impossible for him.

“Last night. What you said. Do you remember?”

“Hobi, I can barely even remember how or when we got home. I was annihilated drunk last night, so no, I don’t remember most of what I said. Why? Did I say something bad?”

“No. Nothing bad. It was just…It was…” He paused, sighing and running his fingers through the slightly curly strands of his red hair. “It was something. But, nothing. Forget I asked. It’s not a big deal.”

“Oookay?”

The way he’d stumbled over his words, his gestures, his body language and everything in between seemed to suggest that the something he’d referred to was far from nothing. If you’d said something to have gotten Hoseok so off-kilter than you could only imagine that it might have been bad, worry burying itself deep inside the pit of your stomach to take root, the heaviness you felt no longer tied to the lingering effects of what you’d consumed the night before. Something was surely wrong or at the very least off and you knew that the two of you would have to have a proper sit-down to discuss it, sort things out. In all your years of friendship, there had been numerous fights and disagreements between the two of you, but in the long run you’d always worked together to work them out. Sometimes it meant being mad at one another for a few days, not speaking to each other for a few hours, but one thing neither of you had ever been interested in doing had been allowing something negative to fester between you. Problems were better dealt with sooner rather than later and if whatever had happened had upset Hoseok to the point that even just looking at you felt difficult then the two of you desperately had to have a talk as soon as you’d gotten dressed.

It took very little time for you to throw on some clothes, dawning a pair of cozy sweats and a t-shirt you’d borrowed, or rather stolen with no intention of returning, from Hoseok years ago, tugging a pair of ridiculously bright polka-dotted socks onto your feet to warm you up further. Though you were faring better than you had been, the continued darkness of the apartment made you want to remain comfortable and you found yourself once again wrapped up in your blanket as you settled on the couch in the living room to await the return of your best buddy’s presence. Minutes upon minutes passed, far longer than you’d expected, and you almost debated heading back into your bedroom to snag your cellphone before inevitably deciding to just lay down across the whole couch, stretched out in a warm cocoon while Hoseok took his long shower despite the fact that you knew there’d been no hot water for him to enjoy as a result of your own greediness. Hopefully, that particular fact wouldn’t add to whatever upset you may have caused him to feel. Grabbing one of the throw pillows, you tucked it under your head and let your eyes close, listening and continuing to wait, the minutes ticking along until you inevitably found yourself half-dozing in the quiet living room.

Without a clock readily available, it felt hard to determine exactly how long you’d laid there, snoozing peacefully, when Hoseok’s bedroom door quietly came open. Had it not been for the familiar creak of the floor beneath his ginger footsteps then you might have missed his reemergence altogether, head lifting from the pillow to see him heading past the couch in the direction of the front door, a large overnight bag slung over his back.

“Hey,” you called out to him, noting the way he stopped and went still as could be at the sound of your voice. “Where are you sneaking off to?”

“I’m not sneaking.”

“Then what’s with you trying to ninja stealth your way out of here?”

“Trying to be a good friend who doesn’t wake up his roommate when she’s clearly taking a nap.”

“Oh.”

He had you there and you felt an immediate sense of shame for judging his sneakiness as something suspicious or perhaps telling in a bad way, sitting up as well as you could while essentially caught in a blanket burrito of your own making. You let out a few frustrated cusses, shifting around to free yourself enough to stand up, stumbling slightly as you stepped away from the couch. Hoseok turned towards you, hands shoving themselves into the front pocket of his hoodie, and you almost couldn’t help reading the action as a nearly standoffish gesture, one that made you feel like hugging him wouldn’t be welcome after how nervous he’d seemed earlier. You stopped at the sight, keeping a little distance between the two of you, eyes glued to his concealed hands for a moment while hoping your assessment was more paranoia than truth.

“So, I guess you’re going somewhere for a while?”

“Yeah. Jimin needs help with something he’s working on, so I’m gonna crash at his place for a few days.”

“Dance stuff, I’m guessing?”

“Pretty much, yeah.”

“Gotcha.”

He nodded and so did you, an awkward silence clinging to the air between the two of you, the distance which would usually have been crossed by now for a hug or a hair ruffle or some other comforting, familiar form of physical contact feeling somehow monumental. The questions you had, the concerns, felt challenging to voice despite your prior determination to sort out whatever had happened, unfilled blanks lingering in the unwelcome quiet. Had Hoseok been overly angry or frustrated it would have been a simple matter to just get things out in the open, start pestering him for answers about what you’d said or what had gotten into him since the night before. A somber, uneasy Hoseok felt a little more daunting somehow and you felt as of you had to genuinely build up the courage to start posing questions, prompted to finally relent to your own worries and curiosity when you caught sight of him glancing over his shoulder towards the front door. He seemed like he was practically itching to leave, to get far away from you.

“Hoseok, about that thing that you mentioned I said.”

“It was nothing, YN.”

“But-”

“Seriously, don’t worry about it. I mean it, YN. It was nothing.”

“Are you sure? Really, really sure that’s all it was? Cause…you’re acting off. Weird. And not your usual high-pitched sound effects, screaming at random kind of weird. More like a scary kind of weird.”

“For starters, I’m not weird. I’m hysterical and amazing.”

“Yeah, okay. Sure.”

Hoseok fixed you with one of his rare to occur yet nevertheless immensely intimidating glares and the look had your trap shutting in an instant. For as bubbly, cheerful, and energetic as the man could be, when he got to being serious or angry, he became a force to be reckoned with. He’d made it a point to let other people know that he couldn’t always be a ray of hyper sunshine and when he’d fallen into a mood, whether concentrating on something important or feeling irritated in general, nobody in their right mind dared to cross him. His smile could disarm anyone, but a sharp look could make anybody, even you, damn near cower.

Once he was satisfied with how well he’d quieted your apparently unwanted sass, he took a step forward and slung an arm around your shoulders, tugging you into him. The hold was loose and different, not the sort of close embrace that had long ago become so common between you, but it showed that he was trying to grasp for some sort of comforting normalcy regardless of whatever the hell was going on, whatever seemed to be troubling him. It was better than nothing, you supposed, but it also wasn’t the same and the stark difference in the light, unfamiliar embrace versus what you were accustomed to made you feel almost empty. You couldn’t even find the will to try hugging him in return, arms hanging limply at your sides.

“I’m tired,” he huffed against your ear, and to his credit, he sounded that way, voice low and troubled. “Last night was a long night and I slept like shit then I got dragged out to the gym. I’m just in a mood. Seriously, YN, just forget about what I said earlier and stop worrying. Things are…”

He exhaled and you shivered at the feel of his hot breath against your neck, the sensation trailing up and down your spine. You couldn’t tell if it was a good or bad feeling.

“Things are fine. I’m just out of sorts right now. So, I mean it. Nothing is going on.”

He let you go and you were sandwiched between a sense of missing his nearness while also being thankful for the absence of it when it had felt kind of wrong just then. Hoseok seemed to have nothing more to say on the matter, the way he turned back to the front door appearing to speak volumes about how much he wanted you to just drop things. The stubborn part of you wouldn’t dare to, convinced that things weren’t over yet, but the worried part of you who could feel the change in the air, the change between the two of you, felt too afraid to say anything else, standing silent and still as he opened the front door. Hoseok turned back to you as he stood in the doorway, waving a hand at you in a gesture of parting, and you could neither force a smile nor return the motion of goodbye.

“I’ll see you in a few days.”

“Okay. Tell Jimin I said hi.”

“Will do.”

He said nothing else, giving not a smile or another wave before he stepped out the door, and you wondered if you were being overdramatic about how almost final the click of it shutting sounded. You stood there for a short while, watching and waiting, maybe even hoping that Hoseok would come back with an explanation for the why of things he claimed to mean or signify nothing. You gave up when it seemed obvious that your answers wouldn’t be found that day, glancing around your dark, empty apartment with a frown.

“I’m too hungover for this shit right now.”

With a few more mumbled comments to convey your discontent to no one, you stalked back over to the couch to return to the safety of your cozy cocoon, determined to wrap yourself up and sleep off a bit more of your worries.

Hoseok would come home in a few days and perhaps by then he’d actually feel like being honest.

“Just a few days.”

- -

“It’s been over a damn week.”

You’d never been especially great at hiding your emotions and you knew well enough from the concerned creasing of Namjoon’s brow that your stress was as tangible as the scent of coffee hovering in the air. He wrapped his long fingers around his large coffee and lifted the cup to his lips, sipping slowly while you outright ignored your own beverage, condensation gliding across the cup’s surface in tiny rivers.

“What few texts he’s responded to have been short and damn near dismissive and I’d be pissed off if I wasn’t so worried. Joon, what the hell is going on?”

“I’m sorry to say, YN, but your guess is as good as mine. I haven’t spoken to Hobi at all the past few days, so I’ve heard nil about something being wrong with him.”

“Jimin said the same thing when I texted him about it. If Hobi’s been crashing at his place this whole time then you’d think he’d have vented a little.”

“Maybe he doesn’t want to talk about what’s bothering him.”

“Or maybe he swore Jimin to secrecy.”

You dropped your face into the cradle of the arms you’d folded atop the table, the muffled groan you released drowning out all the noise of the surrounding coffee shop for a time, misery and stress a bitter combination you’d been suffering for days. You felt Namjoon’s hand patting the back of your head, a gesture of comfort you wish you could’ve enjoyed, but found yourself unable to when it simply made you miss Hoseok more. He tended to be the person you turned to when you were weary of the world, when you were angry or sad, and while signs of care from other friends weren’t unwelcome, they simply weren’t the same. You wanted your best friend to come home as badly as you wanted things to go back to normal and the reality of not knowing how to have those desires fulfilled only made you feel the most ridiculous urge to cry.

“God, I hate this so much!”

Pushing yourself upright, you fixed the man across from you with a look that you were sure practically begged him for help even though he’d thus far been trying his best to give it to you, his reassurances sadly only going so far when you’d come to realize that he was as in the dark about Hoseok’s state of mind as you were. Typically, Namjoon was a wonderful person to turn to when it came to needing advice or perspective, but there seemed to be little he could say to make you feel better when he had no clue what the hell was going on.

“How drunk were you the last time we all went out, Joon?”

“Not very to be honest. It felt like a dick move to get wasted when Hobi was stuck playing designated driver and all.”

“So, if something strange had happened or if something had set Hobi off, you’d have seen it, right?”

“Well, I wasn’t with him the whole time we were out, YN. Jin and Tae dragged me out onto the dance floor a few times and I…may have gotten distracted for a little while.”

You squinted your eyes at him, leaning a little closer to peer at the steadily growing embarrassment settled on your friend’s handsome face, lips caught somewhere between a smile and a grimace as if he couldn’t settle on one expression over the other. The hint of shyness you saw told you everything you needed to know and for a brief, wonderful moment, you forgot about the confusion you’d been battling with.

“You hooked up with someone? At the bar?”

“I…might have?”

“Ohohohoho! Kim Namjoon, you player! Wouldn’t have pegged you for the getting frisky in public type! At least tell me you picked somewhere better than the bathroom.”

His eyes looked anywhere, but at you, mouth closing around the opening to the lid of his drink to take a visible pull from the caffeinated beverage.

“Ew, dirty club bathroom sex! You filthy, filthy man!”

“Like dirty house party bathroom sex is any cleaner!”

“…okay, fair point. Shutting up about it.”

Namjoon nodded, satisfied that he’d effectively thwarted your attempts to tease him, even if it had meant reminding you of past hookups you were perhaps not quite so proud of. You supposed, in retrospect, that everybody into having the occasional one night stand had to have at least one or two regrettable encounters carried out in not so stellar locations in their history. Hoseok hadn’t stopped teasing you for a good two days after that night once you’d realized, with no lack of horror, that you’d left your underwear behind in that fateful bathroom. You could easily picture the way he’d laughed out loud when you’d admitted as much during the walk of shame home, his eyes scrunching as he clapped a few times the way he sometimes did when he was particularly amused. You’d been embarrassed, mortified really, but even though he’d picked at you for it, he’d given you a hug to show a lack of true judgment and had even bought you a pack of underwear to replace what you’d left behind. They’d been granny panties, but the thought had still been appreciated.

Thinking back on that night, on another moment of shit-giving and care throughout your many years of friendship, only made your longing to see Hoseok again more pronounced. Every little bit of humor brought on by your harmless teasing of Namjoon fled as your sadness surged forth again, just as strong as before, and you hated how much your eyes burned as you thought of how much you missed Hoseok. Not seeing him for over a week while knowing that something was wrong, something that was likely a result of some sort of failing or offense you’d caused, made you feel almost heartsick. You’d gone through breakups which hadn’t been as painful as not knowing where your friendship with Hobi stood, frustration making you sip your drink to refrain from outright whining out your anguish, casting a pitiful look across the table.

“So, you really can’t remember me saying or doing anything that you think would bother Hobi? Nothing at all comes to mind?”

“YN, I don’t remember seeing or hearing anything, but I’m sure that whatever is going on isn’t what you think it is. I doubt Hoseok is mad at you.”

“I could deal with mad, Joon. I’ve dealt with mad plenty of times. I’d take one of our big blow-ups over him avoiding the hell out of me. He’s never done this and it scares me. If he wasn’t upset, really upset, or if I hadn’t done anything wrong then he’d at least be texting me back. We haven’t talked, not even briefly over text, in three days. For us, that’s not normal.”

You ducked your head, biting your bottom lip to stop it from quivering, feeling vulnerable and tired at the same time.

“I’m scared. I can’t even make myself text him now, because I just can’t deal with him trying to avoid talking to me anymore. It hurts too much. And if he does decide he finally wants to talk…I’m scared to find out why he’s been acting like this. What if it really is something awful?”

“It’s not. Whatever it is, whatever is bothering him, Hobi’ll talk to you about it when he’s ready and you two will work it out. Don’t beat yourself up like this, YN. Just…try not to keep choking yourself with worry and give it a little more time. I’m sure everything is gonna work out.”

“How can you be so sure?”

Namjoon reached across the table, settling both of his hands over your own, and you couldn’t help turning yours over to grasp at his, needing the contact while feeling immensely thankful for it. He gave a slight squeeze, the touch reminding you that he was here for you, that you still had friends to turn to even while things with your best friend felt like such a confounding mess. You dared to lift your head and found him smiling at you, returning it as best as you felt able to at that moment.

“Because, you two have been friends for far, far too long to not work things out every time. You guys have been a part of each others’ lives forever and I can’t see that ever-changing. You both care about each other way too much to ever let anything get between you. It’s gonna be okay, YN. Trust in that.”

“I hope you’re right, Joon. I really hope you are. Cause, as sad as it is to say, I feel like I’m losing my mind without him. Don’t know how I’d deal if we can’t fix whatever is happening.”

Hoseok didn’t simply mean the world to you. He was your world. The man was such an integral part of your day to day life and had been for so long that you weren’t sure how you’d cope with his presence fading out of it. You trusted him more than you’d probably ever trusted anyone, even the people you’d loved in the past. He was the first person you wanted to tell whenever something good had happened to you and the first person you wanted to turn to whenever your day had turned sour. He made you feel happy, made you laugh louder than anyone ever had, and you adored him even when he’d ticked you off. You’d never thought much of anything about notion of soul mates, but you’d always told yourself that Hoseok would be yours if such a thing might be real. He meant so very much to you and you practically ached with how much to missed him being around even though it hadn’t been all that long since he’d started crashing at Jimin’s place.

Talking with Namjoon had reassured you only a little, but you supposed it was better than nothing. If he thought there was a chance that things would turn out all right in the end then the only thing you could really do was try your best to believe him. It was better having that hope and clinging to it then making yourself worry constantly. Work that week had been taxing enough without the added stress of wondering how you’d potentially chased away the person you cared about most. The thought of your job had you glancing at your cellphone to check the time, instantly lamenting the fact that your lunch break had nearly come to an end. You pushed your chair back and stood, collecting your purse and your beverage while Namjoon moved to his feet, walking around to your side of the table once he’d seemed to realize that you were about to leave.

“Back to the grind?”

“Yeah. Thanks for having coffee with me, Joon. I appreciate you letting me vent and all.”

“Anytime, YN. Let me know how things go once you and Hobi finally have a talk?”

Namjoon opened his arms and you stepped into them, smiling despite the sadness simply because being held felt good after so many days without that sort of contact. You patted his back a few times in wordless appreciation, stepping back when you felt that the embrace had gone on for a comfortable amount of time.

“I’ll text you as soon as we sort things out. See you later.”

“Bye, YN.”

Pushing in your chair and checking to make sure you hadn’t forgotten anything, you gave Namjoon one last smile of parting before heading to the door of the coffee shop, making your way back to work with some hope that maybe being productive would offer a decent distraction from your thoughts.

Namjoon stayed put, watching through the windows until you disappeared from sight, and he flopped back down into his chair with a heavy sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose with the agitation he felt bubbling up within him. Stuffing a hand into the pocket of his jacket, he rifled around for just a moment until he’d gotten a hold of his cellphone, and it took a few seconds of thumbing through his contact list to find the name he sought. He listened to the ringing of the call going through for a brief spell before he received an answer, a familiar voice breaking through.

“Hobi, please tell me you’ve figured things out.”

He heard the other man exhale deeply through the receiver.

I have. You know I figured it out days ago. I just…I’m still trying to get myself to a point where I feel ready to actually…you know…confront everything head-on.”

“Normally, I’d suggest taking your time with this sort of thing rather than rush headlong into it, but at this point, I’m going to have to insist that you get the lead out. I don’t know how much longer I can lie to YN and pretend I don’t know anything.”

I know, man, I know. I’m sorry to put you and Jimin in this situation. I know it’s been kinda shitty. I just don’t want her to hear anything from anyone else. It has to come from me.”

“Do it soon, Hobi. I’m serious. YN is really freaking out over this. She looked like she was close to tears while we were talking about things just a while ago. She thinks she’s gonna lose you, that she did something horrible that’s gonna make you not want to be around her anymore.”

Fuck, really?”

“Really.”

Hoseok groaned, the sound loud enough that Namjoon had to pull the phone away from his ear for a moment, waiting until the line had gone quiet before he settled it back into place.

All right. You’re right. Maybe the best thing to do is just stop waiting to be ready and just go for it. I just hope she doesn’t end up wanting to kill me or something.”

“Can’t say that she won’t, but if she doesn’t remember what happened the other night then chances are that she’s gonna pull a you and need a few days to sort out how she feels. It’d only be fair honestly, since you’ve been keeping her on pins and needles the past week.”

I was afraid you’d say something like that.”

Namjoon quirked a slight grin, all his own worries and frustrations over the state of his friends and their relationship lifting for just a moment as he thought of the forlorn expression Hoseok had to be making at that moment. He took no joy in his friend’s suffering, but he couldn’t say that he hadn’t found some amusement in seeing just how equal Hoseok and YN were in terms of being not only dense as all hell, but also unbelievably caught up in one another. They truly were quite the pair.

“Get home soon, Hobi, and let everybody know how everything goes once you two have everything properly sorted, all right?”

He ended the call before receiving an answer, fairly certain that Hoseok would listen to his suggestions and finally bite the bullet.

“I wonder if this time next week it’ll be Hobi sitting across from me and freaking out about YN.”

Namjoon took a slow sip of his Americano, quietly hoping that two of his favorite knuckleheads would work things out swiftly rather then with any further drama. It was up to the two of them to sort through the mess they’d fallen into, but as a good friend, he could only sit back and watch for so long before he knew he’d inevitably have to intervene. If what he’d heard from Jimin was any indication, at least he knew he wouldn’t be alone in wanting to expedite a resolution.

- -

It was no shock to find the apartment empty by the time you got home from work, the silence becoming familiar enough that you loathed it all the more given what it stood for. In your teenage years, you could recall having dreamed of having a place of your own, away from your bothersome parents where you could come and go as you pleased without a word from anyone else. The idea had been less intriguing once you’d grown and gotten out into the world, learning just how difficult adulthood could actually be, bills a much less taxing sort of stress when you had a roommate to split them with. Living with someone meant the occasional frustration or bit of drama, as was typical when it came to sharing a space with another person, but you’d grown so accustomed to your home being filled with another’s presence that it felt alien to be by yourself for so long. The quiet felt like too much, a sort of void which seemed to want to swallow you up and magnify the sadness you felt every time you opened the door to find the lights still out. It made you want to be a little childish for a moment, to express your frustration in whatever dramatic and outward way you saw fit to, finding little reason to resist when there was no one around to witness your actions.

Ah, so there was one upside to Hoseok avoiding you like the plague.

You kicked off your heels until they went sailing across the living room, clattering to the floor with two spaced out thuds and you opted to ignore the immediate impulse you felt to move them to their proper place within the shoe closet. Work had been a tedious affair and your heart still felt heavier than you would have liked it to be, so the best course of action you could think of to improve your mood seemed to be doing whatever you wanted to, indulging in whatever laziness you ordinarily wouldn’t have expressed with your roommate around. With that in mind, you untucked your blouse from your skirt and set to work unbuttoning it, leaving it hanging open on your form as you made a beeline for the fridge, dragging a can of soda from its confines to happily sip a few mouthfuls of glorious, wonderful caffeine. In short time you had music playing, deciding to queue up a playlist of the most absurdly peppy tracks you find, not even caring if some of the songs weren’t your cup of tea so long as the apartment was no longer silent.

“What do I wanna eat?” you muttered to yourself, swaying your bottom to and fro as you bent over to peer into the fridge again, cataloging every item you found within to sum up some recipe worth using. “Maybe I’ll just order out. S'cheaper when I’m buying for myself anyway.”

Stating as much aloud sounded very much like a benefit to your solitary state of being, but you realized rather quickly that the joy you felt to save a few extra bucks lacked any real oomph. It’d always been rare that you fully fitted the bill for takeout because Hoseok preferred to split things. Anytime you’d ordered food for the both of you and he’d been short the cash to go in half or you’d simply surprised him, he always paid you back or treated you to something nice within a matter of days. You’d have been glad to buy a meal for two if it meant watching Hobi do that silly heart thing he’d always had a tendency to do whenever he got his hands on some churros.

“Son of a bitch.”

You shut the fridge door harder than was likely necessary, hearing the loud clink and rattle of disrupted bottles inside while feeling little remorse for anything which may have fallen out of place. It was just another mess to clean up later right along with your shoes in the living room and your relationship with your best friend, feeling the frown tugging your lips down as you scoured the kitchen drawers for the stack of takeout menus which had accumulated in the apartment over the years. You found them in short time, flipping through one after the other, waiting for your stomach to give you some idea of what you were in the mood for.

“Not Chinese…not pizza…”

Your tired muttering halted at the sound of a key turning in the door lock, head whipping in the direction of the front door immediately, watching in nearly shocked silence as it came open. Hoseok stepped inside, overnight bag slung over his shoulder, and you watched as his brows immediately shot up at the chipper music which greeted him, a brilliant smile nearly taking your breath away as he recognized the song.

“It’s so tasty! Come and chase me!” he started singing to himself straight away, shutting the door behind him, hips swaying as he bent forward to drop his bag to the floor.

“Jung!”

His head lifted, widening eyes locked on you standing just nearby in the kitchen.

“Hoooooseeeooook!!”

“Oh no.”

You stalked across the minuscule distance with a fire in your eyes that you could tell was recognizable if his nervous expression was any indication, your relief that he was home overwhelmed by the absolute fury you felt as a result of days of radio silence.

“You don’t call or text for three damn days and then you come home and start singing along to Ice Cream Cake and shaking your ass like you haven’t been ignoring me?”

“Uhm…YN, just a heads up, but I can see your bra.”

The fact that the observation was the first response he had amped up your annoyance tenfold and you let out a frustrated groan, arms practically floundering as you tugged your shirt the rest of the way off, balling it up to throw it to the floor as hard as one could possibly throw a small ball of soft fabric.

“There! Now you can see more of it! Big whoop! You’ve seen me in less anyway! Now would you just…Would you…Dammit, Jung Hoseok!”

You had a treasure trove of words to throw at him, much of them quite angry, and you stumbled over yourself to try and find the right ones to start with, lifting your hands to gesture wildly as you made sounds in an effort to begin the right sentence. As you looked at him, watched him stare at you with none of the unease you could recall him displaying the day that he’d left, eyes almost soft and affectionate, the ire inside you became swiftly wrapped up in everything else you’d felt, all the fear and sadness as you’d tried to determine the why of things. You wanted an explanation, deserved one for sure, and you hoped, deeply hoped, that his homecoming meant he was ready to work out whatever issues had befallen your friendship. Whatever you may have done wrong hadn’t really warranted being essentially left in the cold, punishing yourself for unknown grievances, and once you had a good idea what had happened, what you may have done to have hurt him or rubbed him the wrong way, you had every intention of making it up to him. You also had every intention of giving him the proper hell he deserved for shutting you out and scaring you for over a damn week.

“I missed you, Hobi, you dick! Do you have any idea how scared shitless I’ve been after you left? I was starting to think you’d never come home or talk to me again! I get being mad at me for something, but you’ve never pulled something like this! I mean, what the hell?”

“I’m not mad at you, YN. I was never mad at you.”

“Then I reiterate, what the hell, Hobi?”

You ached to hug him, missing the familiar closeness which had been such a common part of your friendship since its inception, and as if he could directly read your thoughts Hoseok moved forward, slowly pulling you against his chest. The close contact felt indescribable after so many days without it, making you feel like some sort of addict and you would’ve laughed at your own silliness were it not for how good it felt to be close to him again without any of the tension of that last embrace before he’d left. Hoseok’s arms wound around you completely, his lips pressing a kiss to your brow, and you relished the way his warm hands splayed across your bare back with no visible mind for your state of undress, no sign that it bothered him as it had seemed to last time. He felt amazing, the smell of him feeling more like home than the apartment, and your fingers gripped into the material of the t-shirt he wore to keep him close, almost afraid of the inevitable moment when he would have to pull away.

“I’m sorry, baby. I’m so sorry for scaring you. It was a dick move. It really was and you didn’t deserve it.”

His words were unbelievably soothing, but in a way confusing as hell and you felt your brow furrowing at the endearment he’d called you when he’d never once used it. On occasion, when you’d been feeling low, he’d called you something like 'sweetie’ or the like to try and help you feel soothed, but such things tended to be rare as your name was what he commonly addressed you by. The fact that he’d suddenly dropped a 'baby’ on you made you wonder just how bad he truly did feel for the way things had been over the course of the past week and in a way it made you suspicious of the possibility that he’d used it as a means to butter you up, lessen your wrath. You’d decided not to think much of it, let the term fly from your mind as soon as it had arrived, curiosity over it replaced by the wonderment which came as Hoseok lifted a hand to cup your cheek, his lips dotting a kiss to your temple before they lowered. His hand shifted to gently grip your jaw, tilting your head slightly so he could brush his lips along your cheek, the caress making you shiver for a moment and not due to the coolness of the air conditioning. When Hoseok leaned back his face was all smiles, his brown eyes looking down at you with his usual warmth and something else.

Something you couldn’t quite identify.

“We’ll talk and I’ll explain everything, but I need to know something first.”

“What?”

His hands fell to your bare shoulders, thumbs gently rubbing against them, drawing circles against your skin. It was a bit distracting a touch, but it felt too nice for you to bid him to stop, waiting to hear the question he had for you.

“Do you still not remember anything from the night before I left?”

“I mean, vaguely? I remember a few things here and there, but I dunno what you’re specifically looking for, Hobi.”

“Okay, let’s narrow things down then. Do you remember anything from after we left the bar? When we came home?”

“Uhm…”

You’d spent the past few days trying to recall what had happened that night, remembering hazy moments here and there, but nothing which had been especially telling in so far as Hoseok’s odd demeanor of a few days ago was concerned. As he posed his question, you attempted anew to piece together fragments of that evening, wishing you had a better recollection of arriving home that night. At best, you knew that Hoseok had practically carried you up the stairs and you had a vague idea that he’d helped you peel your shoes off before settling you into your bed, but nothing else especially noteworthy came to mind. You sighed, shrugging your shoulders at him to further get across how absolutely lacking your memory was.

“I really don’t remember much of anything. I’ve been trying to since you mentioned it the other day because I knew that it wasn’t nothing like you said…”

You gave Hoseok a pointed look and he at the very least had the decency to look properly sheepish.

“…but nothing seems to be coming back to me. You wanna enlighten me instead? Maybe it’ll help jar a memory loose.”

“Yeah. That’s probably for the best. First things first, though…”

Hoseok let you go, seeming almost reluctant to do so, and it far from escaped your notice the way his gaze lowered, eyes flitting down to your body and lingering for more than his customary few seconds. On the odd occasion that he’d spied you in much the same state of undress in the past, he had taken a glance now and again, but never for long, as if he’d felt ashamed or found it wrong to relent to the desire to briefly check you out. You’d always thought very little of such glances when they’d never lasted long and particularly not when you were just as guilty of checking him out for a short spell whenever he’d wandered through the apartment in little else than his underwear. It seemed like a natural thing to do regardless of the fact that the two of you were friends and admittedly his fleeting glimpses had been a bit of a boost to your confidence. Hoseok, after all, was one of the most good looking men you’d ever set eyes on and you’d always thought as much, so him looking your way when you had little on had always felt somewhat complimentary to you.

The way he looked at you at that moment, gaze taking a bit more time to trail over your visible curves while he quickly moistened his lips with a smooth flick of his tongue, seemed different. It was openly appraising, almost startlingly so, and you couldn’t decide if you felt shy from it or proud. He finally did glance away after a few seconds, grinning for a second rather than seeming overly embarrassed, rubbing a hand over his mouth as if to hide that flash of teeth, and he seemed to regain his train of thought.

“Not that you don’t look gorgeous, but it is a little distracting, so could you put your shirt back on?”

Hoseok bent to retrieve the aforementioned garment from the floor, turning it around in his hands a few times until he could hold it open for you to simply slip back into, and the oddness of the situation had you staring at him with a look that you knew conveyed how perturbed you presently were. You turned, sliding one arm into a sleeve with his help, and as the material slipped into place across your back you took a step forward, away from the brief brush of Hoseok’s fingers smoothing away wrinkles bunching up on your arms. You buttoned the garment in silence, ruminating silently on what he’d said and why he’d said it in the first place, confounded by his complimentary words. It wasn’t as if he’d never told you that you were pretty. Hoseok, after all, could be an incredibly encouraging person who loved to praise his friends, but what he’d said was a far cry from his usual platonic kudos. You in a state of undress being distracting to him was new, very new, and immensely different from the obvious unease he’d shown several days ago when you’d been in nothing more than a towel. The change was so staggering and so outside of the norm that you couldn’t quite decide how to react to it, heading into the living room to sit on the couch for the overdue talk the pair of you had ahead, Hoseok taking a seat on the edge of the coffee table before you.

He sat there, elbows braced over his knees as he leaned forward just slightly, seeming content to just take you in for a moment, studying your face with the tiniest quirking of a smile on his lips. You watched him look you over, smile growing until you noted a definite light in his eyes like he’d been searching for something found only in you and it had brought him happiness. The affection with which he regarded you felt so wonderful after how afraid you’d felt that your friendship had been ruined by some sort of drunken mishap, but it was strange all the same. There was a difference to it that you couldn’t entirely label and it gave you a feeling that things had changed in some way, one that you couldn’t immediately say was as bad as you’d feared. Hoseok didn’t leave you waiting long for an explanation, his hands reaching out to take hold of your own and when he saw that you were comfortable with it, made no move to pull away, he linked your fingers together. The gesture made something in your gut shift, made your heart almost seem to quicken, and you couldn’t quite decide why.

“I’ll admit that I was freaking out the day that I left and a few days after. I needed time to process things, I guess. But, you didn’t do anything wrong and I was never angry with you, YN. I need you to understand that before anything else. I’m sorry I made you think you’d upset me somehow.”

“I’m glad that I didn’t. I still just don’t know what you were freaking out about or why. I know it involves me otherwise you wouldn’t have disappeared for the past week, so what did I do? What happened after we came home from the bar that had you so messed up, Hobi? Did we…oh god, did we have sex or something?”

“No!”

Hoseok let go of your hands to start waving his own, shaking his head in near alarm at the suggestion.

“You were wasted! I’d never take advantage and try to have sex while you weren’t sober, no matter how much you asked for it!”

“Woooooah!”

You shot up from the couch in the blink of an eye, the implication of his words leading you into an immediate state of mortification, one potent enough to make your face feel like it’d begun to burn. You pressed your hands to your cheeks, feeling the heat in your own skin, and wishing it would turn to literal flames to spare you the reality of having to face what Hoseok had begun to unveil.

“I asked you to fuck me?”

“Yeah. Among other things.”

“Oh god, Hobi! I’m sorry! You know I didn’t mean it, right? I mean, of course, I didn’t! I was plastered! If I’d been sober I never would’ve asked you to have sex!”

“YN, you don’t have to freak out. It’s okay. Seriously.”

“I don’t see how it’s okay when it had you running for the hills as soon as you had the chance!”

The urge to pace had you moving around the room for a moment, choking on your own embarrassment as you fought to remember the moment Hoseok had spoken of, even going so far as to close your eyes in an effort to envision the drunken seduction you’d apparently tried to unleash on your roommate. It made all the more sense to you why Hoseok had seemed so out of sorts. How exactly was a person supposed to feel and act normally after their best friend had attempted a come on while heavily intoxicated? You could only imagine what had gone on through his head while you’d been suggesting sex to him that night or what he’d expected it to mean overall, willing to bet he’d worried that you might bring up the notion of sleeping together once you were sober. He’d probably been just as worried about your friendship being at risk as you had been while he’d been gone and though his return clearly indicated that he wanted to sort things out, salvage the relationship the two of you had, it did nothing to stem the growing tide of shame you felt for learning about your own behavior. You’d done plenty of embarrassing things while drunk, but asking your best friend to get into your pants was new and altogether unpleasant territory.

No matter what, you swore that you would never allow yourself to get that drunk ever again. If Jungkook or someone else offered to buy you drinks, you’d simply turn them down or at least learn to actually live within your limits. As you weighed your options, tried to determine what your new drink minimum would be for future nights out at the bar, Hoseok stood up from the coffee table to move towards you, still your continued pacing with the return of his hands on your shoulders.

“YN, believe me. It’s all right. It was all words and honestly, at this point, I’m glad you said what you did. If you hadn’t asked me to sleep with you and told me how you feel, it never would’ve given me a reason to confront things finally.”

“I’m sorry, wait and what? What did I say about how I feel and what is this about confronting things?”

“You didn’t just say that you wanted to have sex, YN. You told me how you feel about me. Asked me if I wanted to be with you, really be with you.”

His hands took to rubbing up and down your arms, trying to help you find some amount of calm, trying to sooth the mounting emotions which seemed to only grow in intensity at his words, especially when he said even more.

“And I do wanna be with you.”

“You want to have sex with me?”

“No. Well, yes, but not just that. I’m not talking about a friends with benefits kind of thing, YN. I wanna date you. Seriously.”

You pulled away from him in an instant, so quickly that it was as if the touch of his hands had shocked you when in reality it was his words that had so, floored beyond belief at the desires Hoseok had professed to having. All the questions you’d had before he’d come home had only doubled, filling your mind and mouth with inquiries and wonderings you found yourself struggling to voice despite the need to do so. Everything you knew you needed to ask him seemed to fall to the wayside in the wake of your own mounting panic and you hated, absolutely hated, that you couldn’t remember any of what he’d said you’d told him. Failed seductions and confessions of a craving for a different bond sounded bizarre and unreasonable to you while you were as sober as you were unsure of it all. It all felt too strange and like far too much to handle, the stresses of the past week having exhausted you against more, to the point that you wanted nothing more than to flee from what was happening. The need to sort things out together suddenly seemed to pale in comparison to the need to sort things out by yourself, in your own head, and you took a few steps back from Hoseok, holding your hands up to ward him away from following.

“I don’t remember saying any of that, Hoseok. And I was drunk anyway. People say all sorts of weird shit when they’re drunk.”

“They also say more honest shit when they’re drunk too, YN. Stuff they maybe wouldn’t have been able to say otherwise.”

For the first time since he’d come home, Hoseok looked afraid and you couldn’t say that you weren’t right there with him even if it may have been for totally different reasons. He started to move forward, but stopped himself as he looked at your upraised hands, seeming to think better of invading your personal space when you clearly weren’t up for it and you were thankful for that much. Even despite how every instinct made you want him close, still longing to make up for lost embraces and cuddling during his absence, the fact of the matter was that you were too anxious to allow those wants to come to fruition. You were too damn afraid of the desires he’d confessed to having, wondering if his were actually genuine or simply there as a response to what you’d claimed to need while you’d been drunk; opting to want a relationship to make things easier. Why deal with the awkwardness of your best friend admitting to wanting you while sauced when you could simply try for a relationship to avoid having a lasting friendship fall apart? It sounded like a logical answer and an illogical one at the same time, your brain and heart both starting to ache over the messiness of it all.

The conversation had begun to bring back memories you’d spent years burying, giving rise to old ghosts you swore never to confront again when doing so offered only the possibility of heartache. Images of a teenage version of yourself, recollections of old feelings you’d concealed for the sake of your own happiness, were rushing to the forefront of your mind and you didn’t want them there. You wanted them to remain locked away where they were safe and you could continue to exist as you had without any of the drama and sadness they could cause. With Hoseok standing before you, speaking of a chance for something you weren’t even sure he genuinely wanted, ignoring the past felt like a greater struggle you weren’t positive you could contend with.

All you wanted to do at that moment was escape.

“I don’t know. I can’t handle this right now. It’s too much. I need…I feel like I need air…space…something…”

You stumbled past him to the shoes you’d discarded once you’d come home, clutching them to your chest as you headed towards the front door, outright ignoring Hoseok’s first call of your name. You barely acknowledge the second as you slipped your feet into your heels, keys already jingling in your hand as you pulled them from your purse, eyes darting back towards where your nearest and dearest friend stood, looking so lost that it made you almost want to change your mind about leaving.

“I need to go for a little while.”

“YN, we still have a lot to talk about.”

“I know, Hobi. We can. We will. I just have to think.”

He opened his mouth with the start of a rebuttal that never came, lips closing in a grimace as he briefly tilted his head, seeming to think about what you were saying. His hands found his hips and settled there, one foot tapping a time or two on the floor before stilling completely, the slow growth of understanding looking to overwhelm his desire to convince you that you should stay.

“Okay. It’s only fair to give you that when I had the past week when I needed it. I don’t want you to just go out and wander around somewhere, though, YN. Could you at least go to another friend’s house and do your thinking somewhere that I know you’ll be safe?”

“Yeah. I will. I promise.”

You turned the doorknob, hearing the familiar squeak of the hinges as you started to step out into the hall, pausing on the threshold to give Hoseok one last look.

“I’ll come home as soon as I can.”

“I’ll be waiting.”

With a mammoth amount of control, you cast away the want to step back inside and into the waiting arms you knew would open for you, not looking back as the door shut behind you.

- -

Jimin seemed completely unsurprised to find you standing on his doorstep, staring at you quietly for a moment while he crunched on whatever snack he’d been enjoying before you’d come knocking. His left cheek briefly bulged with the presence of what he had been partaking in and you’d have thought him to be extra cute had you been in a better state of mind. The brunette smiled, seeming to already know and understand the reasons for your unannounced visit without you having to say a word, and he stepped aside in an unspoken invitation to come in.

“Thanks, Jimin.”

“No problem,” he responded, voice slightly muffled by his food, clearing with a quick swallow once he shut the door. “Honestly, I’m starting to get used to having company. As soon as Hobi left, Namjoon showed up.”

As if on cue, Namjoon appeared at the end of the short hall, heaving out a sigh so deep at the sight of you that it made his shoulders visibly rise and fall, stepping back to let you pass into the living room.

“So, I take it Hobi finally came home?”

“Uh-huh.”

“And things are even more of a mess.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Figured as much. Jimin.”

You sat down on the unoccupied couch, watching as Namjoon held out a hand in silent expectation, the younger man staring at it with a cool expression before he finally fished his wallet from the back pocket of his jeans. He slapped a few bills into the older man’s waiting palm, grumbling under his breath all the while, and you raised a brow at the exchange, waiting patiently for an explanation.

“I bet Jimin that you’d come here once you talked with Hobi. He thought you guys would sort things out on the first try. Obviously, since you’re here, he lost.”

“Nice to know that you two are having fun making wagers while I’m flipping my shit. Also, fuck you both for telling me that you didn’t know anything, cause I’m willing to bet that you did.”

The boys at least had the decency to show some remorse for their actions, Jimin’s expression apologetic and perhaps a little afraid in the face of your crabby tone, while Namjoon thought better of putting his earnings into his own wallet, holding the cash out to you in what you assumed was a peace offering. You snatched the crisp bills from his grasp and shoved them into your purse, still feeling beyond pissed that they’d lied to you despite having at least some understanding about why they likely had. In light of what you’d learned that day and what you’d been feeling, you could picture the mess Hoseok had been for the past week. If he’d been in even remotely close to the same state you found yourself in at present, then you could see why they’d made the decision to keep quiet, especially if Hoseok had asked it of them. It hadn’t been fair to you at all and your anger was far from unfounded, but you understood more or less. Even despite the part they’d played in your recent stress, Namjoon and Jimin both seemed sympathetic, expressions mirroring one another as they regarded you with growing concern. They moved almost as one, slipping around the cluttered coffee table to sit on either side of you, their focus looking to be on you and your needs. It was probably the exact same network of support they’d given Hoseok when he’d been there before you and you hoped they’d be able to help you as they had him.

Your body sank down into the couch cushions, half wishing their softness would swallow you up, and you waved a hand of dismissal when Jimin picked up his briefly forgotten bag of honey butter chips to offer them to you, appetite lacking despite your hunger from before. He withdrew the bag, reaching inside to snag a chip or two, and for a time the only sound prevalent in the room was that of Jimin’s quiet crunching, he and Namjoon alike seeming to wait for you to start speaking rather than launching into questions of their own. You appreciated that they were giving you the floor as it were and that they were giving you time to figure out where you wanted to begin, needing a little while to rifle through everything that you felt. What would happen to your relationship with Hoseok? Was everything actually fixable or had your bond been damaged beyond repair due to one drunken mistake you desperately wished you could erase? Why had he seemed so willing to try dating you to keep things from falling apart or had he been genuine about it? Had his friends convinced him that the two of you ought to hook up or had his apparent want to be with you actually been wholly his own decision? For that matter, what had even helped him reach such a conclusion when he’d never shown you any clear sign of having been interested in you in a romantic way? What had changed his mind about keeping your relationship a platonic one? One question came after another and another until you had so many to answer that you let out a whine of frustration, flopping back heavily as you covered your eyes with your hands.

“God, this is such a mess! What am I supposed to do about this?”

Jimin reclined back, turning his body to wrap an arm around you in a loose hug, his chin settling on your shoulder. It was an appreciated bit of closeness, a familiar gesture of comfort that you were glad to receive, but you couldn’t help how much it made you think of Hoseok, wishing that he’d been the one holding you in that moment despite how awkward that likely would have been. The contact almost made you want to cry, pressing your hands a little harder against your eyes until the feeling started to fade, blinking a few times against the spots dancing across your vision as a result of the pressure. Once it cleared away, you looked over at Jimin and then Namjoon, feeling so damn lost you almost couldn’t stand it, finally seeming to figure out where to start.

“Hobi said he wants to date me, but I don’t get it. Does he really mean that or did you guys convince him? How did he go from freaking out that I drunk propositioned him to being down to be my boyfriend?”

“It’s not like you strictly asked for sex, YN. There was more to it than that,” Namjoon began, shifting in his seat to face you, bringing one leg up on to the couch. “You can’t remember a word of what you said that night?”

“No. I keep trying, but I can’t. Everything about that conversation is just a blank. What did I say? Like, what were my exact words according to Hobi?”

“You told him that you loved him. Said you’ve been in love with him since you guys were teenagers.”

You looked to Jimin again, watched him as he pulled back from the way he’d been holding you to sit much the same way as Namjoon, nothing in his eyes joking or false.

“He said you told him you’ve wanted to kiss him since he took you out for ice cream the day your first boyfriend broke things off.”

“Did you mean all of that, YN, or was it really just the alcohol making you talk nonsense?”

The urge to lift your knees to your chest and hide your face against them was intense, but you fought against it given the skirt you had on, instead bunching your hands into fists against your lap as you remembered that day from so long ago and all the feelings you’d tried to forget since. Your friendship with Hoseok had been fairly new back then, a few months into existence, but the short time hadn’t seemed to matter. He’d turned into your best friend almost immediately and he’d become the one person you’d always wanted to turn to whenever you were sad, that fact shining true when you’d raced to his house the minute your first boyfriend had called to tell you that he wanted to break up. You’d been young and thought you’d experienced what first love was truly like, crushed by the reality that he’d only dated you to get into your pants, cutting things off once you’d lost your virginity to him. The feeling of being used had ached, left you devastated, and you’d sought out Hoseok as soon as you’d processed the information, covering his t-shirt in tears as soon as he’d pulled you into his arms. You could recall every sweet reassurance he’d told you and every threat of violence he’d made towards your ex, the feeling of his fingers stroking across your back as you’d let everything out until you’d finally felt numb.

The idea of going out for ice cream when your face was still puffy from sobbing hadn’t sounded so great at first, but you’d relented nevertheless, clinging to Hobi’s back as you both rode his bike to the ice cream shop he said he’d been going to since his childhood. Your sadness hadn’t abated for some time, not until a waitress dropped a massive bowl of ice cream on the table between you, filled to the brim with a multitude of different flavors and more whipped cream than any one person could ever possibly consume safely. You’d stared in baffled awe at the near tub of sweetness, wondering how in the hell Hoseok had the money for such a thing, only to laugh outright when he said his good looks had gotten the both of you a discount. The laughter had made you feel better and with a bit more time, a bit more sugar in your system, you steadily found your spirits lifting until the pain in your chest had dwindled to a dull ache. The two of you got nowhere near to finishing the cold monstrosity, but Hoseok hardly seemed to care, scooting over to join you on your side of the booth, an arm slinging itself over your shoulders as he let you lean into him. He’d kissed the top of your head for the first time that day, a gesture which eventually became common, but you’d realized as he stared at you with a soft smile and promised you that you deserved better than your creep of an ex that you almost wished he’d kissed your lips instead.

The feelings of yearning and so much more grew after that day, mounting until you’d come to the realization that you hadn’t found your first love in that stupid, horny teenage boy who’d only wanted you for one reason. You’d found it in Hoseok, the feeling of loving him startling you as it developed until you’d inevitably done the only thing you could think to do and tried to squash it with everything you had. Loving Hoseok had terrified you when the notion of scaring him away seemed like such a definite possibility. Hobi had been popular since you’d met him and had never wanted for dates or significant others, showing no clear sign that you might’ve been someone he’d be interested in pursuing. It became a herculean effort to try forgetting your feelings, to pretend that it caused you no pain every time he dated somebody new, but eventually, you managed to tamp the romantic fixation down, temporarily lose sight of it when you finally had your first relationship since your ex had dumped you. Dating other people had made it easier still until you’d finally forgotten that you loved Hoseok as more than a friend, happily able to classify him as someone you cared for in a strictly platonic sense. The years that had passed only made forgetting easier, made it seem as if those feelings had never even existed at all.

“I meant it,” you whispered finally, biting your bottom lip as every unwanted feeling rushed back, refusing to be forgotten or pushed away again. “I was in love with him. Really, crazy in love with him when we were teenagers and I didn’t want to fuck up our friendship because of it, so I just…made myself forget I felt that way. Pretended I never did. I thought…”

You lifted a hand to wipe at your watering eyes, but Jimin seemed keen to beat you to the punch, dabbing at the first visible trail of tears with a tissue before you took it from him to clean the moisture away yourself.

“I thought I was over it. I really thought it was behind me.”

“Is it?”

Remembering being in love with someone never necessarily mean that those old feelings still held true in the present, but even telling yourself as much or trying to felt like a glaring falsehood. You never wanted to lose your friendship with Hoseok, not when you cherished it and him so very much. He had become an integral part of your life, a person you weren’t sure you could or wanted to live without. Nobody made you laugh the way he could and there wasn’t a person in the world you could say that you trusted more with your secrets, save the one you’d never been able to share. Going home at the end of your workday hadn’t meant returning to an apartment, but stepping in through a door to hear him greeting you with open arms and a smile so bright it could’ve made the sun envious. You felt at ease whenever you could smell his cologne lingering on your clothes and sometimes you even mimicked his funny sound effects while you were doing something mundane. You had your life and Hoseok had been one of the biggest parts of it for so long that you never wanted that to change. Letting yourself accept that you did still love him meant putting everything at risk, but it couldn’t change that even after so many years of willful forgetfulness and different relationships, different loves, you still carried that same longing for more that you’d had as a teenager. Years and years of living together, making up after fights, helping each other during troubled times, had only made that love deeper.

You were aware again, aware now, and it wasn’t something you could immediately start ignoring once more, not after what your drunken confessions had started.

“No. I still love him. I really, really do.”

“Then tell him that again, YN. While you’re sober this time.”

“Well, does he love me? That’s what I can’t be sure of.”

“Didn’t he tell you he wanted to date you?”

“Yeah, but what if he doesn’t really mean it? What if he’s just…going with the flow because he doesn’t know how to deal with it any other way. He avoided me for a week, for crying out loud!”

“He was scared, YN. But, not because of what you’re probably imagining.”

Namjoon settled a hand against your shoulder as you looked to Jimin, trying his best to knead at some of the tension he felt there, and while it wasn’t as good as when Hoseok did it, you still appreciated that he was trying nevertheless. Your body did ache here and there from all the havoc your pent up stress and emotions had begun to cause. Joon’s touch seemed to be helped by the smile on Jimin’s face, the crinkling of his eyes too happy and sweet a sight to hint at the prospect of pain you were so fearful of. He was such an empathetic person that smiling would have been impossible for him if the situation at hand offered no chances of hope or happiness and for a few seconds, you let yourself believe that maybe things were going to be all right.

“You told him you loved him while you were drunk, so he couldn’t be sure that you really meant it and that freaked him out because he’s wanted to hear you say that forever. When he came over here, he was practically beside himself trying to get it together. Said he’d been holding on to feelings he’d had since he was a teenager and now they were going out of control again. Sound familiar?”

“Oh my god.”

“Yeah. There was a lot of trying to come to terms with still being in love with you, trying to figure out if it was worth going for because he didn’t want to lose you as a friend. Plenty of debating if you’d really meant what you’d said or if it was really just alcohol. Took him a few days, but eventually, he finally decided that he wanted to go for it. Then he just needed a few days to…ya know…actually work up the courage to go for it.”

“Oh my god!”

You gave up on trying not to cry, finding that happy tears felt worth shedding, and you let them fall with a smile, almost unable to believe what you’d been told. Emotions and wants and so much more that you’d carried the weight of since your adolescent years filled you up until you were warm, so elated you damn near felt unable to sit still. You rocked back and forth, laughing a little as you cried.

“Hobi really loves me?”

“Oh yeah. Dude is 100% whipped for you.”

“Jimin!”

He let out a startled giggle as you all, but launched yourself at him, hugging him tight as he fell back across the couch. You felt him shaking with amusement, his hands rubbing up and down your back as you laugh-cried into his chest, Namjoon chuckling somewhere behind you at the display you’d put on.

“Okay, okay! Save some of this for your boyfriend, YN!”

Namjoon’s comment had Jimin and yourself laughing harder, the man beneath you giving you a tight hug before he let go to give you a chance to sit up and you climbed off of him to sit back as you had before. Namjoon snagged a few tissues from the coffee table, holding them out between two fingers so you could dry the smears of wetness clinging to your cheeks, and you thanked him happily, almost unable to believe the level of joy that thrummed in your heart. You still had to speak with Hoseok about everything, still needed to hear everything from him directly, but the hope and promises your friends had given you made the idea of returning home suddenly so much more welcoming. You felt practically giddy and it was wonderful after how confused and full of sorrow you’d been since that day you’d woken up with a hangover. Hell, you could even feel your appetite returning, the sound of you blowing your nose doing nothing to muffle the eager gurgling of your empty stomach.

“I ordered Jimin and I some takeout that ought to be here soon. You’re welcome to have some if you’d like.”

“I really would, Joon. I’m starving.”

“Good. Once you’re done eating, though, I want you to take the advice I gave to Hobi this afternoon after we met for coffee: go home.”

It was advice you took no issue with following.

- -

You knew that you’d walked into a mess as soon as you stepped into the apartment to spy several empty bottles of beer resting on the kitchen counter. The silence which followed your arrival, the lack of a boisterous greeting or any greeting for that matter, let you know precisely what would be waiting for you as soon as you located your roommate.

“Oh Hobi…”

Unlike before when you’d returned home from work, you put your shoes away rather than chucking them across the apartment in a fit of agitation, locking the front door behind you as you padded barefoot from the entryway to the living room, flicking on the overhead light as you went. The illumination chased away the shadows which had clung to the space, letting you see a few more bottles settled atop the coffee table and a dazed redhead blinking his eyes against the sudden light.

“You’re home!”

Hoseok stood up as soon as he caught sight of you, hazy eyes suddenly widening, and it did not escape your notice how he faintly wobbled once he was on his feet. You made your way towards him, not wanting to let Hoseok move too much when he had clearly gotten himself drunk, hearing the clink of a few beer bottles being urged aside by his feet as he stumbled into you, the weight of even his slight frame nearly bowling you both over. You managed to keep the both of you steady, twining your arms around his thin waist as his wound around your back, his lips wet as he pressed a long smooch to the center of your forehead.

“I didn’t think you were gonna come back tonight!”

“Miss me?”

“Yup! Where’d you go? Jimin’s? It was Jimin’s, wasn’t it? He wouldn’t text me back, so it had to be Jimin’s.”

“Yes, I went to Jimin’s place. Namjoon was there too.”

“He wouldn’t reply to my texts either!”

“Well, I was keeping them both busy. Plus, they probably wanted to let you have a taste of what I went through for the past week.”

Hoseok’s head dropped to rest on your shoulder and he released a drawn-out groan, the sound so full of remorse you couldn’t help giving his back a few pats to try soothing him even if he probably had deserved a taste of his own medicine after the week of fearful wondering you’d had. You let him stay in place for a while, occasionally swaying as he leaned against you, arms seeming firmly settled around your body, and it made it feel like being close to you was the only place he wanted to be. It made you smile, relenting to the whisper of temptation which prompted you to lay a soft kiss on the side of his neck and the way he shivered in response had you feeling victorious. You liked feeling him react to you in such a way, even if it was something so small, wondering what other reactions you might be able to draw out of him with your touches in the future when he was actually sober.

“Hobi, why don’t you go sit back down and I’ll bring you some water? Don’t wanna wake up super hungover tomorrow right?”

“Are we gonna talk? We need to talk.”

“We do and we will. I promise. No running away this time. But, you clearly had a lot to drink, so you need to get some water in your system, okay?”

He nodded, but made no immediate move to let you go, so you took the initiate by slowly walking him backward, snickering when you felt him wobble and heard him groan at how disoriented he was. Miraculously, you made it to the couch without falling over and he gave you little trouble in sitting back down, though he visibly pouted once you were out of his arms. Unable to resist how cute he looked, you bent over to give his forehead a kiss much as he’d done to you a few moments ago and the way his eyes lit up, a damn near radiant smile flashing across his face, nearly made you want to forget talking to just cuddle him until you both grew sick of it.

Later,” you promised yourself, making way to the kitchen and not returning to his side until you had a glass of water in hand, setting it down on the coffee table.

You’d barely even begun to lower yourself to the couch before Hoseok caught you in his arms again, dragging you closer until you’d been led onto his lap, the man seemingly determined to cuddle you like he was afraid you’d leave again. Even if you’d wanted to move away, you doubted you’d have been able to find the will to do so when you’d missed being near to him, longing for his closeness in the time he’d been away. He may have been three sheets to the wind at that moment, but it felt wonderful to be in his arms without any further fear or uncertainty regarding your feelings or his, you hand settling against the back of his head to play with the red, curly strands of his hair as he settled his cheek against your shoulder. Hoseok let out a happy hum, contented by your touch, his arms growing heavy around your waist once he seemed to feel sure that you weren’t going to go anywhere.

“Missed you so much. Every day for the past week all I wanted was to be here with you even when I didn’t know if I should be.”

Hoseok turned his head to nuzzle the side of your neck, fingers gripping the material of your blouse like he couldn’t get close enough to you, and you indulged him still, staying silent as you let him get out everything he felt he needed to.

“I’m so sorry I made you feel like crap, YN. I never should’ve made you think I was angry. You know I’m not going anywhere, right? I’m never gonna leave you, okay? You mean so, so much to me. Everything. You know that, don’t you?”

He lifted his head to look at you, expression imploring you to believe in him and you did even without having to see how earnest he was trying to be, so very thankful for the better understanding you had of his feelings and your own after speaking with Jimin and Namjoon. You stroked your fingers along his cheek, loving the way he leaned into your touch so readily.

“I know, Hobi. I get that now and really, it’s okay. I’m not scared like I was at first, you know? I realize that you weren’t asking me out just because. I know now that you actually meant it, right? You wanna be with me?”

“Yes! More than anything. God, I’ve been in love with you for forever.”

Jimin and Namjoon had confirmed it, but hearing those words from Hoseok directly, even if he was drunk, made your heart soar to new heights. You’d been waiting to hear them for years, even when you’d made yourself believe that the part of you that wanted more from him had been dead and buried, and you wanted nothing more than to hear him say it again and again. Some small part of you was afraid that he’d be singing a different tune come morning when he was sober again and more coherent, but you had faith in his feelings as well as your own. You believed that he meant what he’d told you and you wanted to accept the happiness being offered to you without further uncertainty or fear. Hoseok would always be your best friend, but he could be more as well and you looked forward to seeing how much better your life with him would become without anything else being hidden from one another.

“Me too. I really, really love you, Hoseok.”

He was nearly beaming as you met his confession with your own and it warmed you up so thoroughly, so deeply, that you didn’t know that you could ever be sad again, wanting to wrap yourself in everything you felt for him and with him for the rest of your life. Hoseok laughed, the sound so happy and delighted you couldn’t help joining him, stroking his cheeks with your thumbs.

“So you’re my girl now? Finally?”

“Yeah. I’m all yours as long as you’re all mine.”

“I am. Now, pucker up! Kiss me, baby!”

Hoseok peppered your neck with quick, wet pecks that had you giggling, making his way up to your jaw and your cheek, creating a trail you could feel leading slowly towards your lips. Before he could kiss you properly, you scooped a hand around his mouth to deter him, and his muffled whine of disappointment had you snickering, dropping your hand with a shake of your head.

“Not yet, Hobi. I’ve been dreaming about kissing you since we were in high school and I’d rather us both be both sober when it happens, okay?”

“Really?” he asked, still pouting, but you refused to be discouraged no matter how adorable he could be when he wanted to.

“Really. Tomorrow, I promise. Now, come on. You need to drink your water before you go to bed.”

You decided to stay put precisely where you were, turning to reach for the glass you’d left on the table, and though he appeared remorseful about it, Hoseok let go with one arm so he could take hold of it, taking a few swallows of the cool liquid. He let out a deep exhale once he’d finished drinking, still holding the glass as he looked at you, lips quirked in that special way of his that made his dimples show. The appearance of them nearly made you want to go back against your insistence that the two of you refrain from kissing until tomorrow, electing instead to kiss his cheek before prompting him to have some more water. Hoseok did as you asked, appearing happy just being close to you, and even though there still seemed to be plenty to say, it felt good to do nothing more than enjoy one another’s closeness and company. Without further misunderstandings or uncertainty regarding the way the both of you felt, cuddling together on the couch for the rest of the night seemed like the only thing you truly needed.

He pulled you down with him once his glass had been emptied, laying with your frame snuggled against his, and though eventually you knew you’d have to get up to set your alarm, help him into his bed so he could sleep things off, you wanted to relish every second spent in his arms.

At least until you could be wrapped up in them next time.

- -

Why were elevators so damn slow?

The red numbers flashing on the overhead display seemed to take their sweet time-shifting, the downward descent steadily leading you to the ground floor feeling as if it’d been taking forever. The enclosed metal box had begun to feel like some sort of tiny purgatory, the double-digit numbers before your eyes looking akin to a quiet mockery when all you wanted was to see them reach one, practically desperate to find yourself on the first floor. You could hear the way your foot had begun to tap against the floor, restless and impatient, jostling motions traveling up your leg with every movement.

“Do you have to pee or something?”

“No.”

You gave your co-worker a sideways glance, Seon-mi’s expression slightly pinched with annoyance, and you could recognize the why of her mood readily enough, stilling your leg with a small sigh.

“Sorry. Just anxious to get home is all.”

“I could tell. You’ve been kinda distracted all day. Didn’t even notice any of the post-its I left on your desk.”

“You left me post-its? Shit, I’m sorry. They weren’t super important notes, were they?”

“Nah. Nothing actually work-related, so no worries. It was mostly just the usual office gossip and me making observations about Ji-hun’s butt.”

You snorted, brow raised and lips quirking, honestly thankful to her for having struck up a conversation to distract you from how mind-numbingly slow the elevator was going.

“You realize if someone from HR sees those kinds of notes we could both get in trouble.”

“S'why I snatched 'em up and threw 'em away once I realized you hadn’t. Besides, if Ji-hun and I haven’t gotten caught making out in the break room for the past two years then I doubt a post-it or two is gonna be the thing that gets me a stern talking to from the higher ups.”

“Love to live dangerously, don’t you?”

“As much as you’re about to love this sound.”

You heard the familiar ding of your floor being reached, facing forward with a relieved smile as the elevator doors pulled open to display the ground floor lobby you’d been waiting for. Gripping the strap of your purse a little tighter, you nearly raced beyond the threshold with a giddiness to your steps, hearing Seon-mi call after you as she followed. You slowed to a near stop, whirling around to face her, and she looked surprised by your sudden energy, as well as the clear happiness on your features.

“Sorry. Can’t stay to chat. Gotta get home so I can see my boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend? Ooooohh, I expect details come tomorrow, missy!”

“I’ll give 'em, I promise! See you tomorrow!”

Seon-mi let you go with no further questions and in truth you couldn’t say you were bothered by the idea of explaining things to her the next day, having discovered that day that being able to talk about dating Hoseok made you endlessly happy. He’d been deeply passed out that morning, unable to be roused for anything, and while it’d been a little sad not to be able to kiss him goodbye, falling asleep with the knowledge that he’d officially become your boyfriend had made rising for work a less tedious task. Of course, you’d spent all day long anxiously awaiting the end of the workday, but the monotony had been made tolerable by texting your friends the good news, nearly beaming during a coffee break when Jimin had told you about Hoseok’s elated messages once he’d woken up near noon, apparently in high spirits despite his hangover. You’d spoken to the man ever prevalent in your thoughts very little that day, but your joy had been well sustained by the series of hearts and kiss emojis he’d sent while you’d been having your lunch, giggling like a lovestruck fool when he told you he couldn’t wait for you to get home.

Rereading the texts kept you calm during the bus ride back to the apartment, doing your best not to irritate the passenger sitting beside you by bouncing your foot again, taking the occasional glance out the window to see how much further you might be from home. With every familiar passing landmark, your excitement magnified until you felt like a ball of energy ready to dart out of your seat as soon as you reached your stop, biting your lip against a delighted squeak when the bus came to a halt near your apartment building. Gathering up your things, cellphone stuffed into your purse, you made sure to not trip as you nearly danced down the stairs and out of the bus, heels clicking loudly as you rushed down the sidewalk towards the entrance of your building. The stairs up to the second floor hardly bothered you when you felt so amped up with excitement, swearing you hardly even felt winded once you reached the door to your apartment, and though you fumbled slightly with the keys, you were soon inside.

“Hobi?” you called out, having the presence of mind to slip out of your shoes before you moved further inside, setting your purse on the kitchen table as you passed it.

The door on the far side of the living room jerked open and your smile deepened as Hoseok stepped out of his room. He looked fresh from a shower judging by the notably damp state of his curly hair and the fact that he had on nothing more than a pair of baggy shorts, the towel he’d been holding dropping to the floor as soon as he set sight on you. His face lit up brighter than a street light with the coming of sundown, arms opening wide as he rushed over to you and scooped you up off your feet, spinning you around as he welcomed you home. You squealed, both in surprise and happiness at his enthusiastic greeting, closing your eyes to keep from becoming dizzy as he twirled you about, arms locking around his neck to hug him back. Your head felt as if it’d begun to swim by the time Hoseok went still and lowered you so that your feet could touch the floor again, but you were fine with the feeling when he didn’t let you go straight away, holding you in his arms in an embrace that felt better than any ever had. Your stomach fluttered and your heart thudded loudly in your chest, just the way it had in the past when you’d started a new relationship. This time, the delight you were experiencing felt stronger, so much better, because the man you held, the new boyfriend you’d just started dating, was the person you’d loved deep down for most of your life.

“How are you feeling? Okay or still all hangover gross?”

“I’m okay. I’m great, especially now that you’re home.”

“You sure? No headache or general feelings of wanting to die?”

“Nope. None. Kinda wanted to murder the sun when I first woke up this morning, but I slept it off. Good as new now.”

He held you as you held him, neither moving away for moments that seemed to last for ages, but it was a sort of near stillness that felt welcome. Hugging Hoseok would forever be one of your favorite experiences, something you wanted to feel last as long as it possibly could, and the present felt no different.

“So, just because I wanna be 100% sure now that we’re both sober at the moment, but…you love me back, right?”

You smiled and wondered if he could feel it against his neck, taking in a deep breath that was filled with the scent of the body wash he always used and a hint of his cologne, letting your fingertips trace up the length of his spine until you were sure he had goosebumps rising across his skin.

“I do. I always have, Hoseok. And, in the interest of further sober clarification, you agree that we’re dating now?”

“Yes. As far as I’m concerned we’re official as of yesterday. Probably would’ve been sooner if we weren’t a couple of idiots.”

“Hey, don’t insult me or my hot boyfriend like that.”

Hoseok laughed and gave you a little squeeze around the waist, leaning his upper body back so he could peer down at you, smile toothy as could be.

“Not about to get sick of hearing you call me that. Feels like I’ve been waiting to hear it forever.”

“Been waiting to say if forever, even when I tried pretending I didn’t want to.”

He looked at you with the softest eyes, fondness as prevalent as it had ever been, but warmer now that you could recognize the love in it, and it made you want to kiss him something fierce, smiling in a way which bordered on coy as you crooked a finger at him. Hoseok got the hint perfectly, needing no further prompting or words to beckon him to you, his eyes starting to close much as yours did and then, finally, he was kissing you.

Years of glimpsing Hoseok kissing other people, hearing giddy whispers from friends who had hooked up with him, had told you that your best friend was likely a fantastic kisser. He’d always been passionate in damn near everything he did, so you’d considered once upon a time that kissing was just another thing he tackled with zeal. You’d given up on the notion of ever knowing what it might be like, how he’d hold you or what he’d taste like, so years of leashed anticipation led you to melt against him the moment his soft lips touched your own. The first gentle brush, the slow peck which followed, felt like the sweetest greeting as if Hoseok was getting to know the fit of your mouth on his, taking his time exchanging one light kiss after another, until your lips naturally parted to invite him to deepen them. The touch of his tongue teasing the seam of your lips and slipping inside made you almost moan, hands finding their way into his damp hair to lightly clutch the deep red curls as he shared his taste with you, breath faintly minty like he’d just brushed his teeth. He held you tighter to him, a hand holding your waist to draw your lower body closer to his and the other held the back of your neck, showing that he had no desire to stop kissing you any time soon. You were more than fine with that.

“I always knew you’d feel this good, taste this sweet,” he mumbled between kisses, groaning at the next pass of your tongue stroking against his and the gentle nip of your teeth against his lip. “I don’t know how I went so long never getting to feel this with you.”

The sentiment was one you mirrored, feeling the longing expressed in his touches as much as they were carried across in his words, pressing a peck to the adorable mole he had on his top lip. The gesture made him chuckle, deeper and richer than his usual boisterous cackling and the sound made you ache for him in ways you’d refused to let yourself feel since high school. When he resumed kissing you, the hand at your waist gripping you a little tighter, like he wanted to hold you even closer, you craved the feel of it descending lower to grip your ass, heat burning within you at the thought of rocking into his groin. Years of fighting not to love him and at least two months since the last time you’d had sex made you feel needy for more of him, for every bit of himself he might be willing to give you that evening, all thoughts of taking things slow now that your relationship had changed falling to ruin in the wake of how badly you wanted him.

You reached behind yourself to take hold of his hand, leading it down until you felt his fingers splaying open across one cheek, and you moaned when he gave your backside a firm squeeze, hands trailing from his hair to his bare chest. His skin felt hot under your hands and you weren’t immediately certain if it was due to the shower he’d just taken or if it was because of what you were making him feel, gaining your answer when you felt him press his hips forward. There was a definite hardness between you, a telltale sign of yearning he was experiencing right along with you, and when you broke your mouth away from his, it was validating to hear him panting.

“I think now might be a good time to let you know that I’ve wanted to have you naked for years. Don’t suppose you’d be down for that, would you?”

“Baby, I’m pretty sure you can feel it, but I’m up for that right now. You sure, though? It’s not too soon?”

His concern was appreciated, but you couldn’t stop yourself from giggling at it, at his worry that you might feel that sleeping together now would be too quick. You kept your eyes on his, grinning like the cat who ate the canary as you slipped a hand between you, showing no qualms or shyness about reaching into the front of his loose shorts to cup his growing erection in your hand, enthralled by his rough exhale and the way his length twitched beneath your fingers.

“We’ve been avoiding this like a couple of chickens since we were teenagers, Hobi. I don’t think this is too soon at all.”

You closed your fingers around him, slowly pumping your hand on his hardening cock until you could feel Hoseok trembling, his eyes flying shut at the rise of gentle pleasure. His hips lightly shuddered, arching into the leisurely stroke of your soft hand, and you felt your panties grow damp with the experience of finally getting to touch him like this. He didn’t stop you for several minutes, letting you work your tight fist up and down until he’d become fully erect, practically throbbing beneath your fingers. He didn’t seem overly long or thick, but he felt perfect to you and you couldn’t decide where you wanted him next, whether it was your mouth or your pussy. When you swiped your thumb across his tip to find a bead of wetness dotting the tiny slit, Hoseok finally reached down to grip your wrist and tug your hand free, eyes lidded and lips smirking as he took in a deep breath to calm himself.

“Think that’s enough of that for now, gorgeous. Need you on me in a bad way.”

He looked down at the tight skirt you’d worn to work that day, seeming to take stock of it before he gripped the hem to yank the clingy material higher up your thighs, making it so much easier for him to lift your legs up around his waist, and you locked your ankles together behind his back as your lips met again. Hoseok weaved slightly as he moved forward, unable to see exactly where he was going when the two of you seemed unable to stop kissing even when it may have been a wise idea. He let go of you with one hand eventually, reaching down to search the environment around him, and when you felt him slowly starting to sit, you shifted your legs to frame his legs, straddling them as he settled down onto the couch. Hoseok’s hands were slow and sure as they trailed up the backs of your thighs, gripping the bunched up material of your skirt to lead it higher, letting it rest about your waist, and he let out a low groan you’d only ever heard on accident in the past. It reminded you of noises muffled by walls and closed doors, the sound of him seeking release on his own or with someone he’d brought home, and you felt the slickness of your core growing with the knowledge that he’d made such a noise just from seeing more of you bared to him. His thumbs grazed the edges of your panties, following them around to the curve of your ass and you bit your lip when he gave it a firm squeeze, leading your hips closer to his own.

“Come here, baby. Let me feel you.”

“Right here, Hobi?”

You shifted forward at his bidding, lowering yourself down until you could feel the hardness of his cock resting against your cunt, his length warm even though his clothing and your panties provided an ample enough barrier between you.

“Can you feel me well enough like this? How wet you’ve made me?” you asked him, rocking your hips slowly, and the friction felt so good when your clit was already so swollen even though he’d not yet touched you there. “I’m soaked for you, Hobi. You’ve made a mess of me and we’ve hardly done anything.”

He stared up at you, borderline smirking as he kneaded the softness of your bottom in his hands, arching his pelvis up to grind against you, increase the pressure until you couldn’t stop yourself from moaning at the pleasure that was just enough and yet somehow not.

“Didn’t know you liked to talk dirty, YN.”

“Don’t like it?”

“You kidding? I fucking love it. Want you to tell me everything you’ve ever wanted me to do to you, baby.”

You smiled, satisfied both by his encouragement and the way he rolled his hips beneath you, giving you a hint of what a dancer was capable of. You followed his rhythm, trusting that he knew the right way to move, and you were far from disappointed as the two of you rocked together, grinding your core to his cock until you were mewling with pleasure, letting your head fall back as he leaned in to nip at your throat.

“Thought of how you’d move for me like this, if you’d fuck me the way you dance. God, the way you can move your hips, Hobi. Do you have any idea how many times I’d cum around my fingers thinking about it, wishing I could feel you inside me?”

“Fuck, really?”

Hoseok’s hands found the buttons of your blouse, undoing one after another as you rode him, grinding his cock up against you hard, making your hips shudder at the pressure on your clit, wondering if he knew how to hit just the right spot or if it had just been pure luck. It was inconsequential in the end, your attention drawn to your shirt coming open, material sliding down your arms to rest caught on the crooks of your elbows, looking down to watch your boyfriend cup your bra-clad breasts in his hands. He pressed his mouth to them, groaning into your cleavage and turning to gently bite one soft swell, trailing the edge of your bra with his tongue as he reached behind you to work the clasp. You felt the tightness of the band loosening as he eased the hooks free with little difficulty, hands immediately moving back to your front to push your bra up, eyes utterly appraising as he took in the sight of your bare breasts for the first time, huffing out a soft swear to further show his approval.

“Have you thought about my hands here?” he asked, testing the fit of your breasts in his palms, thumbs ghosting across your nipples 'til their peaks hardened. “My mouth?”

“Both…thought about having your cock between them too…”

The shared fantasy seemed to get to him in the best way, his hips rolling with a bit more insistence, cock gliding back and forth against the concealed seam of your core, panties clinging to your folds so close with your wetness that you felt everything all the more clearly. The pleasure only grew when he sucked one of your nipples between his lips, the suction followed by a dizzying swirl of his tongue and you moaned out your disappointment when he leaned back to rest against the couch cushions. He looked almost lazy laying there, a smug sort of enjoyment on his face at the way you arched into his hands as he pinched both of your nipples, the pain light and giving way to sweeter sensations when the pressure abated, fingers flicking the tender buds until you felt the pleasure all the way to your cunt. One hand stayed there, seemingly glued to your breasts, the other descending towards your pelvis, splaying his fingers apart just above your mound. The outline of your pussy was as clear as that of his cock and Hoseok lowered himself a bit, shifting to ensure that your clit rubbed against the head of his length with every roll of his hips and your own, the two of you moaning and sighing at the bliss of it all.

“Can do this even better when I’m inside you, baby. Want that instead? Wanna move these panties to the side, so I can sink in deep?”

“Want it more than anything. Need it, Hobi.”

It was an exercise in self-control to make your hips still, especially when you knew you’d manage to cum if the two of you had kept up the grinding for a few minutes longer. The prospect of being filled by him, finally knowing how good he’d feel buried to the hilt inside you, was too tantalizing to resist and your thighs nearly trembled as you climb off of him to rush to the kitchen, not even bothering to take off the clothes still haphazardly clinging to your form. You tore your purse open in a hurry, spilling some of its contents across the kitchen table without a single care, leaving the stray coins and pens to stay there atop the wooden surface while you searched for a condom, letting out a sigh of relief when you came across the shiny packet you needed. Questing back to the living room, you paused just near the couch at the sight of Hoseok lifting his bottom to shimmy his shorts down his thighs, mouth almost going dry at the sight of his dick and how it curved towards his stomach, reddened with arousal while the head faintly shone with the slickness his shorts had smeared about. He caught you staring, smiling at you with an unequivocal mix of affection and lust, and you moved towards him again when he beckoned you with his hands, dropping the condom to the couch beside him. You stopped short of the arms he offered to you, bending to shimmy your panties down and off, leaving them on the floor as Hoseok sucked in a breath and leaned forward to still you with his hands on your hips. His eyes were glued to your sodden core, tongue gliding across his upper lip as he took in the sight of you, so puffy and slick already.

“Shit, look at this. You’re so wet, baby. I’m gonna slide right in, aren’t I?”

You felt his words against your heat, Hoseok gripping your ass to drag you closer, his tongue darting out to swipe along your pussy, getting a noisy taste of you. He lapped at the source of your slick, savoring the flavor of you with a groan you felt as much as you heard, and you nearly whined when his tongue drove up to your clit, teasing the tender flesh with a few wet strokes that promised so much pleasure to come if you let him continue. Instead, you grabbed his shoulders and gently urged him back, shaking your head as you rejoined him on the couch, walking your knees up along either side of his legs until you were close to hovering above his bare cock.

“We can go down on each other later, Hobi. Right now, I wanna cum on your cock.”

“My god, I think I’m gonna marry you someday.”

He laughed right along with you, looking happy as could be when you framed his face with your hands and gave him the softest of pecks, letting go as he reached for the condom to start opening the wrapper.

“Sex me up first. We can talk marriage after the orgasms.”

“Yes, ma'am.”

You waited anxiously as he rolled the sheath of latex down the length of his erection, surprised by the fact that you felt not even the barest stitch of nervousness as you watched him pinch the tip, looking up at you to signify that he was good to go. With past lovers, no matter how excited or turned on you’d been, there’d always been a tiny hint of anxiety about the first time simply for the fact that you never knew what you’d get, whether the sex would be good or awful. With Hoseok, even despite how new it was to be with him romantically, let alone physically, there seemed to be no doubt or fear, only a deep desire and anticipation that had your core clenching with readiness. You knew it would be amazing, better than even, and the fact that it was Hoseok waiting to be inside you seemed to make your confidence soar to new heights, hands resting on his shoulders as you walked your knees forward that last little bit until you could feel the tip of him nudging your folds. Hoseok gripped the base of his dick, taking a moment to tease the head against your clit until you were whimpering out your impatience, and when he positioned himself against your entrance with a groan, you readily began to lower yourself onto him.

There was the faintest burn to be felt with the first few inches, your cunt stretching after a few months with only your fingers to satisfy you, but it hardly ached and you welcomed the feeling of being filled by him finally, lowering yourself until you’d taken all of him that you could. He felt fantastic, your pussy gloving the length and girth of him so well, so perfectly that you didn’t think you’d ever want another cock inside you if it wasn’t his, the sense of completion which came with finally being so close to your first love almost overwhelming with how good it was. Hoseok seemed to marvel at the joining just as much, the eyes he’d closed to savor the first plunge opening to take in the sight of himself lodged inside you, gaze drawn up to your face so he could regard you with a pleasure-dazed smile. He whispered for you to come closer and you gave in, laying against him, chest to chest, as you shared a kiss that was slower and sweeter than the deeper ones you’d been exchanging as the intimacy began, the two of you finding happiness in wrapping yourself at the moment. It was like purposefully taking time and care to commit a moment to memory, the two of you on the same page in your desire to cherish what had come to pass even despite how intensely the pleasure of having him inside you had made you both feel antsy.

You sat up, still smiling as you braced your hands on his shoulders once more, felt his hands settle on your hips as his thighs spread apart, and you lifted up slowly until only the tip of him was still inside. Hoseok lifted his hips to meet yours as they came down, groaning at the way you squeeze him, and the friction of feeling every inch of his length easing in and out at a slow pace made you tremble from the sweet sensations. It felt good, right to take things slow at first, the two of you both working together to make one another feel pleasure, body adjusting further and further until the mild burn of your walls accommodating his size was gone, leaving behind only bliss with every thrust and drag of him within you. The room was filled for a long while with only the sound of your breathing and his, gasps and barely-there groans quietly exchanged as you worked on a slow rhythm, building up the pleasure you both craved until every inch of your cunt was tingling with sensation, sensitive to every possible touch. When need became more intense, too much to deny, your pace steadily began to quicken, until your heart was racing as you started to fuck yourself in earnest on Hoseok’s cock, the defined muscles in his abdomen visibly working as he pumped his hips up towards yours a little harder, a little faster.

Your wetness coated his prick, drenching it until he was gliding into you so smoothly it almost felt too good to be true, the wet sound of your core being filled up over and over matched by the meaty smack of your ass bouncing against his thighs with every downward stroke.

“Cock fills me up so good, Hoseok. Love how good you feel, how much you’re stretching me,” you told him, so breathless that you almost couldn’t get the words out.

Hoseok seemed to relish your words rather than mind them, grunting in response even while his eyes begged you to continue, wanting more of your voice.

“Better than anyone I’ve ever had. Never want another.”

“Only my cock, baby? Nobody else’s?”

“Only yours.”

“Mmm, fuck, yeah. Gonna give you this every day if you want it. Gonna eat you out and fuck you until you can barely walk to work the next day. Might even have you call out tomorrow just so I can spend the day between these beautiful thighs.”

“Make me cum and it’s a deal.”

Hoseok took those words seriously, bidding you to stop even though you didn’t want to. You whined to show your displeasure, feeling thwarted from an orgasm you were sure had been building, but you relented if only due to how promising his grin looked.

“Lean back on your hands. Want you to hold on to my thighs, keep your back arched and move, baby. S'gonna feel so good for you like that.”

Doing as he asked, you braced yourself into the position he’d requested, already having an idea what was about to happen as soon as you were situated and he gripped your waist with one hand as the other settled against your mound, thumb pressing down on your faintly pulsing clit. As soon as you felt certain your arms and your grip were steady, tethered firmly in place with the hand he clutched you with, you resumed your movements slowly, eyes rolling back when the first thrust had his cock curving just right against your g-spot, his thumb using the slickness coating your flesh to make smooth, gliding strokes against your clit.

“Oh fuck, that’s so good.”

Hoseok rolled his hips beneath you, continuing to work with your movements until every plunge you made down on to his length felt precise, his cock and his fingers hitting every spot you needed just the way you needed them to. You felt almost overcome with the pleasure, amazed by how well he seemed to learn what you needed, what you liked even though it was the first time you’d been with him like this, elated with the promise of so much more satisfaction to be gained in the future. You were wild with need, aching to cum as you felt your body tensing with the telltale signs of the sensations building up, a coil that wound up more tightly inside you with every passing moment. For a time you could hardly even hear the sounds Hoseok was making, lost to your own bliss, head thrown back as you moaned without restraint, crying out his name as much as you mumbled out how good he was making you feel, how much you couldn’t wait to soak his cock. Beneath you, Hoseok went wild seeking his own release, trying to bring you to yours, eyes glued to the sight of your pussy spread open by his prick, beads of sweat gliding down your chest to leave wet trails descending down the valley between your breasts. When you brought your head forward to look at him, expression utterly fucked out, you swore you almost couldn’t handle how sexy he looked as he watched you, brow pinched and lips parted as he groaned in response to every meeting of your hips.

You didn’t dare to look away, wanting to see his face when he came and wanting him to see yours, fighting to keep your eyes open as pleasure overwhelmed you, your pussy bearing down hard on the thickness of him as your orgasm took hold of you, sending gratifying shudders through your core to make your hips jerk wildly and without rhythm. You couldn’t follow an even pace or even match the way Hoseok continued to move, shaking with the force of your own satisfaction, the delicious pulse of the climax rendering you speechless. Hoseok never let up, thumb tirelessly working your clit, cock relentless with every motion, still plunging up into the heat of you, and when you seemed to be losing your balance he finally leaned forward to wrap both of his arms around you, pulling you to rest against his chest. His expression became more strained, his thighs tensing harder under your own as he fucked up into you a little harder, trying to find his own end, and you clamped down on him when he finally went still for a moment, groaning as his cock throbbed deep inside your body. You felt every single pulsation, felt the heat of his cum spilling into the condom, and you rocked your hips gently even against the threat of over-stimulation, wanting to make his pleasure and your own last.

It was exhaustion that finally prompted you to grow still, coupled with the need to catch your breath, and you sagged heavily into the warmth of Hoseok’s body, cheek finding his shoulder as his hands began a lazy up and down along your back. Lingering twinges and shudders passed through both of you for what felt like a long while, neither of you speaking when your mutual state of breathless yet satiated fatigue said everything about what you were both feeling. It was a comforting, happy sort of afterglow unlike any you’d ever experienced before and you found yourself smiling a little once you could breathe with a bit more ease, a hand coming to trace sleepy swirls against the shoulder opposite of your current pillow.

“Hey, Hobi.”

“Yeah?”

“I’m gonna call out tomorrow.”

You couldn’t hear his laugh, but you felt it in the way his chest shook against your own.

“Seon-mi is gonna be pissed. She was expecting new boyfriend details tomorrow.”

“Eh, she can wait a few days. We’ve got stuff to do.”

“Like each other, you mean?”

At that, Hoseok did laugh out loud, and you soaked in the sound of it like a plant eagerly taking in sunlight, liking the notion that sometimes that laugh of his would be just for you.

“Well, there is that. I was also kinda hoping to take you out at some point. First date and all that.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yep. Figured we could go get ice cream.”

You sat up straight, holding his face as you kissed every inch of it until Hoseok was nearly giggling with delight, your heart still thumping madly in your chest even despite how your body had calmed down. You liked the idea of him taking you to the sort of place he had all those years ago on the day you had first realized that your feelings for him were something more. It wasn’t as if things had been brought full circle, not when the two of you still had so many more experiences and so much time yet ahead of you, but it felt like something special, something right nevertheless to repeat history in a small way.

“Can you say it one more time, Hobi?”

He knew what you wanted even without further explanation, kissing your brow as he always had before reminding you that things were different with a kiss to your lips.

“I love you, YN.”

After years of being afraid to feel the same towards him, those words finally felt right.

“I love you too.”