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under neon lights

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Part-time jobs were difficult to find in the summer. Yoongi knew first hand the struggle of handing in applications and reviewing no response; he'd applied for fourteen jobs and got none of them. But fifteenth time lucky, he'd managed to get a job at an arcade. 


The hours weren't the greatest, and Yoongi hated that he'd have to deal with dozens of kids all day, but the pay was decent, and he really didn't have much other option than to accept, unless he wanted to apply to another fifteen places. So he spent his summer days under neon lights, in the arcade that smelled like a strange combination of sweat, candy and plastic, listening to nothing but screeching and obnoxious music.


The job was mostly boring. He was the ‘token man’, swapping money for the little plastic tokens that the machines took, and he also swapped the tickets people won from said machines for the prizes, all varying in value. The smallest prize being a rubber bouncy ball, the largest being a large animal plushie. He often had to deal with parents attempting to buy one of the prizes with money, having to explain that he could only accept tickets for them. Though sometimes he considered just accepting the money to get them to lay off. On a bad occasion, a kid would throw up after eating a little too much chocolate, and Yoongi would be given the awful task of having to clean it up. But that had only happened twice, he considered himself lucky.


From his counter, Yoongi had a good view of the ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ machine. Most people who played on it stumbled around awkwardly, stepping side to side, forwards and backwards. It was fun to watch people embarrass themselves, but after a week on the job, he saw someone play that was far from embarrassing themselves.


It was just one guy, around his own age, his hair dyed orange, he always came in a few times a week, and danced with an almost impossible fluidity, doing the steps like second nature, moving his hips like a snake. Sometimes, he'd seem to go in a trance and completely ignore the game, dancing to the music without doing the steps on the screen. He'd do this for about half an hour, then afterwards he'd go play some other games, and as he'd leave he'd always smile and wave goodbye to Yoongi.


He didn't even know his name, he hadn't even spoken to him besides swapping his money for tokens, but Yoongi had developed a small crush on this boy.


Three months passed, Yoongi working at the arcade nearly everyday, the highlights of his work days always being Dancer Boy’s visits, yet they never spoke to each other properly.


Until Yoongi bumped into him, literally, at the music store, causing them both to drop their CDs on the ground.


“Oh, sorry! I wasn't looking where I was going,” Dancer Boy apologised, quickly moving to pick up the dropped CDs, pausing to read the title, a small smile growing on his face, “Public Enemy? Elton John? Nice.”


He handed the CDs to Yoongi, who took them with a small grateful smile, hoping that his face didn't look as red as it felt.


“You work at the arcade, don't you?” 


“Yeah, you're the guy that's always on DDR?” Yoongi asked, Dancer Boy laughed, showing a heart shaped smile that Yoongi could swear made his own heart skip a beat.


“Ah… I’m on it a lot aren't I?” He smiled again and looked at the ground.


“You're the best on it of everyone I've seen. You're a dancer, right?”


“I am! Since I was a kid, all I've wanted to do is dance.”


“You’re really great at it, seeing you dance is always the highlight of my day. I feel like I should be paying you to see it.” Yoongi said.


“I’m glad you enjoy!” Dancer Boy smiled again, Yoongi’s heart leaping in his chest.


“Yeah! Uh…” Yoongi shuffled his feet, “Would you want to… hang out sometime? Outside of the arcade.”


“With you?” 


“With me! Yes!” Yoongi nodded quickly, feeling kind of like a fool, watching Dancer Boy’s reaction carefully.


“Yeah, sure, of course.”


“Cool, it's a date!” Yoongi spoke before he could process his words, his cheeks feeling like they were on fire.


“Oh - a… a date?” Dancer Boy seemed to freeze, his eyes wide and lips slightly parted in shock.


“Uh, shit- not a… unless you want it to be? I don't know. Okay, I'm gonna be quiet now.” Yoongi averted his eyes, looking at the CDs in his hands.


Another boy appeared from the aisle beside them, bounding forwards and tugging on Dancer Boy’s sleeve, drawing him away from Yoongi, “Hoseokie hyung, have you found it? We're gonna be late!” 


“Jungkookie! Yeah, I've got it. Uh- sorry, I've got to go.” Dancer Bo- no, Hoseok jumped into action, disappearing from Yoongi’s sight before he could even react. Moments later, the bell above the door rang, Dancer Boy ran away.


“Shit.” He swore to himself, “Think before you speak, Yoongi.”




The next night, Yoongi returned to work, watching the door nervously. Hoseok didn't always come every day, and Yoongi wasn't expecting him to after he'd left so quickly at the music store. 


Hours passed by, and then Yoongi recognised a familiar face. Park Jimin; a friend of Hoseok’s that sometimes came with him to the arcade, who was also the best friend of Kim Taehyung, one of Yoongi’s friends.


The boy always stood out, hair dyed a vibrant pink. Yoongi had once wondered if a bizarre hair colour was the requirement for their friend group, considering Taehyung had gone for a bright blue colour some months earlier. 


Jimin had walked straight over to Yoongi, planting his hands on the counter and leaning closer to Yoongi, a smile on his face.


“You asked Hoseok hyung on a date yesterday, right?”


“I did.” 


“He's not mad, not at all. Just he was kinda flustered after you said the d-word, and left before he could explain.”


“And what was he going to explain?” Yoongi asked, swallowing nervously.


Jimin leaned backwards, rocking on the balls of his feet, “It's not really my place to say. Look, as soon as Hoseok hyung is ready, he's gonna come by and explain it himself. I swear.”


“What if he's never ready?” 


The pink haired boy grinned, “He will be. He can't stay away from this place too long, there's something about it he just loves.”




For a few days after Jimin had spoken to him, Yoongi didn't see Hoseok in the arcade at all. The DDR machine was miserably desolate, and Yoongi eventually avoided looking at it altogether.


The weekend rolled round, and Yoongi was sick. Taehyung was covering his shift for him while he spent the entire day sleeping. At about four in the afternoon, his sleep was interrupted by the loud ringing of the house phone, forcing him to get up to answer it.


Yoongi hyung?”


“Taehyung? My shift doesn't end until six why are you calling? Did you break something? Please tell me you haven't.”


Hyung! I haven't broken anything! I have important news. ” 


“What?” Yoongi rubbed his eyes, still half asleep.


First off, since when did you know Hobi hyung?”


“Who the fuck is Hobi?”


Hoseok? Jung Hoseok? He’s friends with my boyfriend, Jungkook. They used to go to the same school and now they're in a dance group together with Jimin.”


“Ah, right. I don't know him, we’ve talked once and it ended kinda badly. What about him?”


“Well, he was looking for you today. I told him you'll probably be back next weekend.”


“He was looking for me? Shit. Jimin said he would want to talk to me at some point.”


“Yeah! He seemed pretty eager to see you, honestly.”


“Alright. Great. Thanks for telling me. You're supposed to be working, I’ll see you later?”


“See you later, hyung. Bye!”




Before Yoongi knew it, the next weekend had arrived and he was back to work. More stressed than he'd ever felt behind that bright blue counter. He distracted himself by rearranging all the displays on the shelves behind him, putting Super Mario figures into formation and organising pencils into rainbow order.


“Yoongi?” The voice he'd been dreading to hear interrupted him. He looked up from his work to meet eyes with Hoseok, who was holding a giant bundle of arcade tickets, “I, uh, wanna exchange these for a prize.”


“Right. Okay.” Yoongi nodded, taking the bundle from him and stepping over to the machine that counted them, feeding them into it one by one, thankful for every chain of tickets that were still linked together.


“So, I'm sorry for running away from you at the music store.” Hoseok rocked back and forth on his feet awkwardly, “I kinda panicked, took the first chance to get away that I saw.”


“It's fine. It's my fault really, I'm sorry for saying it was a date. I don’t even know if you're not straight -”


“God no!” Hoseok interrupted loudly, then after looking around, he said in a quieter tone, “I'm not straight, no way. I-I'm bi. Bisexual.”


Yoongi nodded, turning his head away to hide a smile, “Okay. Good to know. Well, same.”






They stared at each other for a few moments.


“So…how old are you?”


“I'm 19.” Yoongi answered.


“That means you’re my hyung, I’m 18.”


“You've got just over two thousand tickets.” Yoongi said suddenly. Hoseok jumped, eyes wide.


“Awesome! What can I get?”


“Anything, the most expensive prize is two thousand.” 


“Nice,” Hoseok took a moment to scan the shelves, then pointed to the top shelf “Can I have that kitten plushie, please?”


“Sure, one sec.” Yoongi reached up to the shelf, standing on his tiptoes, grabbing the grey cat in the middle, turning around to give it to Hoseok.


“You're cute.” He said, taking the toy from Yoongi, their hands overlapped for a moment, and he would be lying if he said he didn't prolong the moment intentionally.


“The cat?” Yoongi tilted his head.


Hoseok pouted, “No, you're cute.”


“Oh. Okay.” Yoongi breathed out, hoping the neon lighting hid how much he knew he was blushing.


Hoseok cleared his throat, rubbing the back of his neck, “So… I've kind of had a crush on you since you started working here. But I've never really had the guts to talk to you, so I started coming here more often, hoping one day I'd manage to gather the confidence to ask you on a date.”


“I started working here three months ago,” Yoongi said slowly, Hoseok nodded again.


“It took me a long time to get the confidence, and it's really only because of what happened at the music store.”


“Oh, wow.”




“Well, the answer is yes. It's a date.”


Hoseok released a breath he seemed to have been holding, the smile Yoongi had grown to love reappearing, “Great.

I'll call you.”


“You'll need my number first, Hoseok-ah.”