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Whisper Sweet

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The scratching of pencil on paper is encouraging, to say the least. Hoseok steals a glance over his monitor. The familiar scrunched eyebrows and pink tongue poking through pinker lips is even moreso. Maybe this time, something will come of all this effort and concentration. Speaking of concentration, Hoseok sighs as three more emails roll into his inbox, then presses his glasses - blue light filtering - up the bridge of his nose and prepares to send the most delicately-worded rejections possible.

We thank you for the offer, but Mr. Park is not accepting any contracts currently.

Is that too harsh? It's too harsh. His pinky rapidly jabs the backspace key.

Thank you for the kind offer. Our firm, including Mr. Park, have taken the time to review the contract, and unfortunately, we are unable to accept your offer at this time.

Ugh. Hoseok hates this. He needs to leave these doors open or Jimin might never get another contract deal again, but - but at some point, everyone is going to give up on him. There's only so many times you can be rejected before realizing the answer will never be yes.

Hoseok's eyes wander back to Jimin just as he’s balling up another paper and throwing it at the wall, which is actually just a wide window overlooking the Seoul skyline. Today the late spring sky is grey, overcast, and likely inspiring Jimin’s sour mood and lethargy.

"Jimin-ssi, really..." Hoseok groans. "Can you not?"

"My office, my rules," Jimin grumbles into his desk.

Hoseok stares at him.

Finally, sheepishly, Jimin peels himself off his desk and picks up the discarded drawing (along with five others from this morning alone) to place them very gingerly in the gleaming marble wastebasket, pointedly meeting Hoseok's eyes as he does so.

"Happy?"

"I'm just fucking peachy,” Hoseok says, smiling brightly. He lets his expression fall flat. “Except that I have fourteen freelance artists who want you to write for them and five pending contracts from RK and StarManhwa and I have to write rejection emails back to all of them."

"I would rather write those emails at this point," Jimin offers, skirting around Hoseok's desk to lean over his desktop and skim the emails. His button-up is open two buttons, revealing to Hoseok just a glimpse of smooth tan skin stretched over prominent clavicles. "Wanna trade jobs?"

"Wanna trade salaries?"

Jimin laughs. "Not a chance." He swings his arms around the back of Hoseok’s chair, hands landing on Hoseok’s shoulders, which he begins to gently massage. Hoseok sighs, relaxing back into the touch. Those small hands have so much power when they’re used like this; Hoseok may just melt into his chair if Jimin keeps this up. One hand wanders higher, thumb and forefinger digging into the muscle at the base of Hoseok’s neck, right where he feels a headache coming on, catching in the soft hairs there.

Another email notification catches Hoseok’s attention and he snaps upright, clearing his throat. "That's what I thought.” Hoseok pats Jimin’s hand on his shoulder, gently nudging him off. He spins in his chair to look at Jimin squarely. “But seriously, I think we at least need to humor these people a little. Let's go out with them, meet them, at least pretend we're considering their contract offers. Or they might stop sending them."

At this, Jimin swoons dramatically to the floor, his forehead to Hoseok's knee. "Oh god," he wails, "they're going to realize I'm a fraud!" He pauses, then snakes his arms around Hoseok's shins. "Actually. Good. It's about time. If you need me, I'll be crying under my desk. Is there any more agmabingsu in the freezer?"

Hoseok shakes Jimin off and stands up, kicking at Jimin’s octopus arms until he frees Hoseok’s legs. "Oh my god, stop being dramatic. And you can get your own ice cream, you baby."

"What do I even pay you for," Jimin grumbles, scooting on his butt across the floor back to his own desk.

"Answering emails. Cleaning out your voicemail. Doing your coffee runs. Picking up your dry cleaning. Booking your vacations. Making you get up in the morning."

"Okay, I get--"

"Organizing your desktop. Encouraging you. Putting up with your nonsense."

"But you don't even put up with my nonsense," Jimin grumbles, throwing himself back into his chair. (His fancy ergonomic chair, in cherry red, custom ordered by Hoseok himself at Jimin's request.)

"Exactly,” Hoseok says. “Get back to work."

"I hate you and you're fired."

"You're hilarious. By the way, we have coffee with the editor from Triple H in thirty minutes. And after that I'm dropping your car off for a wax."

"... I love you. Please never quit."

 

It's a good thing, at least, that Jimin is charming. If all else fails and Jimin never writes a good manhwa again, he’ll still have that - no rumors about a silver-spoon diva or sexual harassment scandal will sully Jimin’s career. The only person subject to Jimin’s diva side is Hoseok, but he can handle it. In fact, most days, he thinks he was born to handle it. And that’s the only reason Jimin releases his diva around Hoseok at all: because he knows Hoseok will throw it right back.

Jimin orders a hot pot of coffee and a plate of sweets before the Triple H editor and artist arrive, so by the time they do, all Jimin and Hoseok have to do is stand up, bow, and offer them cups. The women are intimidatingly well-dressed, not in traditional business clothes but in the kind of fashion Hoseok wishes he could pull off (and afford). Hyuna’s blonde hair is spun into space buns high on the crown of her head, her lipstick a deep red; the younger woman who Hoseok doesn’t recognize is more reserved with a black bob and pink overalls, but no less lovely.

“Hyuna-ssi,” Jimin says, charm on full blast. “It’s great to finally meet you in person! The mind behind Viper. Wow. Where do you get your inspiration?”

Hyuna beams behind her coffee. “I guess I watched a lot of horror films growing up. And of course I love reptiles. I had a lot of these ideas just swirling around in my mind, I just never had a medium to express them. Funnily, I didn't even read manhwa until I was in high school.”

“Do you think that influences your style?” Jimin swirls a spoon in his mug absently, honey-eyed gaze flaring across the table. The sweetness of it would make Hoseok nauseous if it weren’t so alluring.

“Oh, definitely,” she says. “Not to be prideful, but critics have mentioned how my manhwa don’t really follow traditional story arcs - I think it has a lot to do with the slasher films I grew up on.” She giggles. “And when I was signing on artists, I had them watch horror films so they’d understand what I wanted for my story. I mean, how could I have expected someone to draw Jiwon’s meltdown and the haunting scene like that if they hadn’t seen Whispering Corridors or Bloody Reunion?”

They all laugh, even though Hoseok is only pretending to know what they’re talking about. (Pretending is like, at least 85% of Hoseok’s job.) He has seen approximately one (1) horror movie in his life, Train to Busan, and that was only because Jimin forced him to watch it. He spent the first 80% of the movie hiding behind Jungkook and the last 20% sobbing. Zero out of ten, would not recommend. He’s sure the film has merits, but he would’ve had to see past the blood and zombies and death and screaming and terror to find them. Which he did not.

More pleasantries are exchanged, Jimin and Hyuna growing steadily more enthusiastic, and at last Hoseok and the younger artist, Youngmi, can get a word in edgewise.

“So, I know I’ve got a big mouth, but Youngmi is actually the one who proposed this meetup,” Hyuna says, throwing an arm over Youngmi’s shoulder.

Youngmi pinkens. “It’s all right, sunbaenim.”

“She’s the newest artist at Triple H but god she shows promise. She has some really cool character concepts and we’ve been looking around for a writer. We need help constructing a plot and making all the pieces fit.”

“That sounds super great. I’d love to take a look at some of your stuff, if you wanna show me.” Jimin smiles as Youngmi nods and places a file folder on the table between them. She flips it open to reveal a page of drawings.

Jimin specializes in slice-of-life with a twist, and it’s easy for Hoseok to tell why they sought him out for this project. Youngmi is fresh out of school, and her characters are all schoolkids with dark backgrounds: one character is a ghost, another is an ESP, another a shapeshifter. It’s exactly the kind of thing Jimin would do well. (If he could get over himself and his imposter syndrome and his writer’s block, which is looking less and less likely by the day.)

Jimin’s eyes gleam as Youngmi walks him through different character designs, including a security personnel ahjussi, werewolf by night, that Jimin finds hysterical and brilliant. His face is flush with excitement--this is the most energy Jimin has had for a project in months, ever since the final volume of his debut project, Whisper Sweet, concluded last year. Since then he’s done little more than lay on the daybed in his office and moan about the characters he misses and how Whisper Sweet was the peak of his career and he should quit while he’s ahead while Hoseok throws erasers at him and reminds him “You bought a 350-thousand-won drawing tablet with professional manhwa drafting programs to lie on the couch and never use it?”

It’s a hard knock life.

But this meeting gives Hoseok hope that Jimin’s slump will expire soon. Maybe what he needed all along wasn’t Hoseok’s many kicks in the rump, but more fresh-faced artists with new ideas - not that Jungkook, for example, ever helped. (“He just wants to do superheroes all the time. I don’t like superheroes.” “Yes, well, he told you that before you hired him as your primary artist!” “I like his art style!” “His. Art. Style. Is. SUPERHEROES!” “That’s not true! He did sports manhwa before me!” “He did a manhwa about a basketball player who moonlights as a superhero.” “Oh. Yeah. That’s right. I didn’t read it, I don’t like superheroes.”)

 

"Well," Hoseok says after the last of the coffee has been drunk and Youngmi has shared all of what she brought in her manila folder. "This has been great. Thank you so much for offering to partner up with us.”

"Of course!" Hyuna nearly sings. "Thank you for taking the time to meet with us. We're looking forward to hearing back from you once you make a decision. Oh, and - sorry, it's a formality, can you sign this real quick?"

It's a non-disclosure agreement. If Jimin doesn't sign onto the project, he isn't allowed to use any of the concepts Youngmi had outlined or share them with anyone. He obliges, then Hoseok signs as a witness, and they part ways.

"So that went well," Hoseok prompts, once they're on the subway back towards the office. The subway is never empty in this part of the city, but it's calm enough that Hoseok easily found a seat, and he’s confident enough that a quiet conversation won't bother anyone.

"Yeah," Jimin agrees. "Yeah, it did."

"So... You're going to do it, right? Sign a contract with them?"

"I dunno." Jimin deflates at the prospect of actually committing to the project. "I just... I don't think I can. I don't think I have it left in me."

"Are you kidding me?" Hoseok says. "This is what you've wanted for your entire life. You can't honestly tell me you wanted to finish your first series at 23 and never make another manhwa? I thought you wanted to make a career out of this."

"I do!" Jimin says. The subway lurches to a stop, not theirs but the one prior, and Jimin leans into Hoseok’s space with the force of it, the subtle warm aroma of his cologne hitting Hoseok all at once. "I mean, I did. I just don't think I'm cut out for this work." He worries at his lip.

"I know you miss Whisper Sweet. I get it. I really do. But... don't you want to do it again? Remember how in love with the characters you were, how you could throw yourself into a storyboard and stay up all night drafting without even realizing it?”

Hoseok remembers. Hoseok remembers staying up all night with him back in their older, shittier office more than once to hold his hand through storyboard drafts while deadlines loomed ever closer. He remembers buying coffee for their whole team on his own dime at 2 AM, back when he was the office manager rather than a personal assistant. He remembers carding his fingers through Jimin’s hair as he slept on the floor next to his desk, head pillowed on Hoseok’s lap. He remembers waking up with his cheek smushed against Jimin’s back, Jimin’s hair in his nose, both of them stale and oily and running on less money and fewer resources than they have at their expense now—but with so much more zeal and inspiration. Even at 6 AM, reaching the 22nd hour of work, Jimin had a fire in his gaze, a determination to do well. Now so little of that is left.

Hoseok says quietly, “You could do that again." We could do that again.

Jimin stares down at his hands. "I can't."

"Don't give me that. You can. Let yourself fall for new characters and a new world. Let go of Whisper Sweet."

"I'm not ready,” says Jimin as he crosses his arms and leans back.

"Too bad,” Hoseok says, opting for a tough love approach since the Encouraging Manager-Friend angle is getting him nowhere. “You're at a turning point in your career. You're young and have really only done one thing. Despite what you might think, you are ready to try something new. Test some boundaries. And you’re not going to get anywhere if you continue to mope around and mourn the conclusion of your first series."

"Hoseok-ssi," Jimin whines.

"Do you want me to lie to you?"

"Yes."

"Okay, then.” Clearly Hoseok’s tough love isn’t tough enough. Perhaps his ruthless love will be. “I think you should give up now. You're right, Whisper Sweet is the only thing you'll ever do. You're at the ripe old age of 25 now. Your life is practically over." (Okay, so, maybe it’s not a very loving approach at all. Hoseok doesn’t have time to name all his settings right now, leave him alone.)

"Hey, what the fuck."

"You asked for it. Literally."

"Yeah, but-"

"Listen, Jimin-ssi. If you don't let me talk to you that way, why do you talk to yourself that way?"

They roll into their station, and Hoseok hops up before Jimin, sputtering, can respond.

 

Hyuna asked for a response within a week, so Hoseok books the next seven days full of meetings with writers, editors, and artists. He does not send a single rejection email; instead, he carefully plans brunches, dinners, and drinks around all of Jimin's other plans, like staring angstily out his window and affectionately berating Jungkook’s artwork and skipping core day at the gym. Seven days and eight meetings. Jimin will probably kill him, if Hoseok doesn't die on his own first.

By day three, Jimin is exhausted. During the meetings, his eyes glaze over in a way only Hoseok can see - to all others, he looks attentive and present, but Hoseok knows that particular look. (It's the Meat stare. Jimin is craving bulgogi and it's all he can think about. Instead, he snacks absently on dried squid and sips at a beer.)

"So, we were thinking, you could write out a storyline for us.” The editor, a balding man in a stuffy suit, slides a page across the table - it’s a drawing of a black-haired boy surrounded by busty, generic women. “As you can see, we have character designs, not that we need much for something like this, but we want to make it different. We want the readers to put themselves into the story. Your slice of life angle… It’s really what we’re looking for. We just want to go harem with it.”

Jimin and Hoseok don't even have to look at each other to know they’re in agreement. Hoseok downs his hard lemonade as Jimin says, "That sounds really great, but I'm not sure I'm the one for this project."

"Oh, but we disagree... You're perfect for this.” The co-editor is flushed heavily, clearly not used to being told no, especially by someone so much younger than he is. He dabs his forehead with a handkerchief. “We love the work you did for Whisper Sweet. We want that dialogue. The side arcs."

"With all due respect," Jimin says, gently sliding the sketch back towards the editor, "I'm at a turning point in my career. I'm young and have really only done one thing. I'm ready to try something new, push myself to new places. Test some boundaries." He pauses, glancing at Hoseok, who wants so badly to roll his eyes. "Maybe a psychological thriller. Are you doing any projects like that?"

"Well… We, uh.” The editor flips through a file folder he has in his lap. “No..."

"Then I do believe we're done here," Jimin says. "Thank you very much, gentlemen. We'll be in touch if plans change. But don't wait on us. I'm sure you'll find the perfect writer for your project. Actually, Hoseok, do you have any business cards with you? I think Yoonji would find this project super interesting."

Hoseok smirks. "I sure do." Hoseok digs into his briefcase and pulls out a card.

Min Yoonji
Writer and Consultant
Gaze Media, Co-Founder

Kim Namjoo
Writer and Consultant
Gaze Media, Co-Founder

"They're... women?"

"Sure are.” Jimin winks. “You have a great night, Mr. Song." Jimin bows deeply, then Hoseok, and they slip out of the bar as quickly as they can.

Once they're outside and a safe distance from the bar, Jimin takes a long look at Hoseok. Jimin’s hair is so dark it usually looks black, but the yellow streetlights give it a warm brown hue. "Hyung, you're so pink.” Giggling, he palms Hoseok’s cheek in a way that most definitely does not help the flush. “What did you drink?"

The honorific nearly makes him stop in his tracks, all tender cheek caresses aside. It’s not that they aren’t close, but they spend so much time in a business setting that they usually default to more formal language - hyungnim or the suffix -ssi and sometimes sunbaenim, even when they’re bickering, which has earned them some strange looks over the years. Anyway, this cavalier term is rare between them. "Just a lemonade," Hoseok pouts. "Shush."

Jimin laughs. "Okay. But god, can we talk about that? Those guys... Their ideas were so bad."

Hoseok can't help but laugh along with him, at least partially because of how contagious Jimin’s laughter can be. "Yeah. They really, really were. I mean, harems, slice of life, whatever—but they just want a Gary Stu who spends dozens of volumes seducing a handful of Mary Sues. It's too bad you aren't helping them, because god knows they could use it."

"They are way too far gone." Hoseok stumbles on the sidewalk, and Jimin catches him with an arm around the waist. "And so are you. God. One lemonade, really?"

It’s probably his medication interacting with the alcohol, but he doesn’t say that. “I don’t drink much,” he offers with a shrug. It’s getting weird now, Jimin’s arm around his waist while Hoseok shrinks into himself, so he stretches his arm over Jimin’s shoulder and takes the support.

“Oh, I know.” Jimin has spent many nights on his office floor, drunk, while Hoseok stays sober and reminds him not to vomit on the carpets and to stop spilling beer everywhere.

Jimin’s arm is still around his waist, but it’s not any spectacle in the city on a Friday evening. So many people are drunk that no one looks twice at a coworker walking his buddy home, even on this quiet street. They’re walking towards the bookier district of Seoul, and everything is going to be closed by now - it’s nearly midnight, Hoseok realizes.

“Where are we going?” Hoseok asks.

“I dunno. Home?”

“You say that like we live at the same place,” Hoseok laughs.

“You could stay at mine,” Jimin offers, leading them down into the nearest subway station. “I don’t want you to have to find your own way home like this.”

“That’s really kind of you, but I’m fine,” Hoseok says. “Really. Just a tad tipsy.”

“Oh, hyung,” Jimin huffs, hard enough that Hoseok can feel his chest deflate with it. “You’re no fun. When was the last time you did anything on a Friday night?”

“A week ago,” Hoseok says, then erupts into giggles. “I watched a documentary about whales and ordered takeaway.”

“Oh my god, you are literally so boring,” Jimin teases, fingers wriggling at Hoseok’s side, not tickling but hinting at it. “How old are you, eighty?”

“I’m 26, thanks.”

Maybe Jimin hears a hint of bitterness or defensiveness or something in Hoseok’s voice, because he says, “I’m kidding, you know? I like documentaries too.”

Hoseok warms. “I know.”

“Hey, why don’t you come over, really? We’ll watch a documentary if you want, have some wine. You can have my guest bed. I should even have a new toothbrush somewhere.”

Hoseok’s breath sticks in his throat, and he blames it on the sweet lemonade he’d drank earlier. (The lemonade doesn’t explain the way his heartrate kicks up, but.) “But… I don’t have anything to change into,” Hoseok says weakly.

“I’ve got spare robes. Come on.”

Hoseok bites his lip, frantically trying to come up with another way to slither out of this. He’d decided a long time ago that this is not what their relationship is going to be. After the late-night incident he dares not even think about during daylight, he’d had to make that decision, and he’s stuck to it. Hence: “I don’t want to be a burden.”

“I mean…” Jimin looks over at him cheekily. “It’s not like I’ve got anything else to do. Unless you booked me for another meeting.”

Hoseok laughs and shoves Jimin’s face away. “No more meetings until Monday, I promise.”

“None? Not even a private one?” Jimin pulls Hoseok close when he says this, drizzling the sultry words right into Hoseok’s ear.

S-sunbae—sunbaenim, aish,” Hoseok squeaks, blasphemized, drawing away from the tickle of Jimin’s breath. “You’re drunk.”

Jimin laughs and nuzzles his nose against Hoseok’s jaw. “I know. Sorry.” He finally lets Hoseok go. “I get—weird, when I drink.”

“I know,” Hoseok chuckles. He’s been there for Jimin’s slobbery drunk nights, but he’s also been there for the scarier versions of drunk Jimin. The ones where Jimin’s chest flushes red and his inhibitions (few as though they already are) disappear entirely. The ones where Jimin wants to be touched, held—the ones where Jimin falls asleep with his head in Hoseok’s lap as he works, the ones where Jimin gets a little touchy, where Jimin offers massages and Hoseok never quite knows what to do with him.

It’s not that Jimin isn’t attractive. Actually, it’s the exactly the opposite: it’s that Jimin is attractive. It’s how Hoseok’s stomach drops out from underneath him when Jimin just brushes by him sometimes, how Hoseok is always thinking about the time Jimin got too drunk at an after-work get together and when Hoseok stood up from their table to use the bathroom, Jimin looked him up and down and said, “Oh my god, look at you,” and that, that has haunted Hoseok’s dreams and nightmares alike since then. It’s how Hoseok’s heart fell out of his chest when, one day on the way to a meeting, they found a stray cat and Jimin cooed at it until it jumped up into his arms. It’s how Jimin is so hardworking when he’s not in a slump like this, staying up all night to work, how Hoseok fell asleep on the office daybed one of those nights and woke up with Jimin’s jacket draped over him. And none of that includes the Thing, the Thing that happened that they don’t talk about.

Hoseok could probably handle the touches and flirting and closeness of it all if he didn’t like Jimin—he’d dealt with sexual harassment before, and he could do it again (not that he wants to). It’s exactly the fact that this is not sexual harassment that makes Hoseok hate it so much. Jimin is affectionate with everyone, yes, but not like this. He makes Hoseok feel special, needed, and that’s exactly what makes him hate it so much.

“It’s not a good idea,” Jimin concedes at last, finally accepting the hint he’d refused to take before, and Hoseok releases the long breath he hadn’t realized he was holding in the space between their words.

Hoseok tips his head to the side to look at Jimin. He just smiles, and tonight, that’s all there is to it. With a promise to text him upon his safe arrival home, Jimin lets Hoseok go with a final squeeze to his hand.

“See you Monday, bright and early,” Hoseok says, devilish grin plastered across his face.

Jimin groans. “I hate meetings.”

“I’ll bring coffee,” Hoseok promises, tugging his coat around himself closer as the subway—his subway—rolls into the station, whipping their hair around their heads with a wash of cool air.

 

It takes the entire week to wear down Jimin’s resolve, but by Friday, he and Jimin are on a conference call with Hyuna. While Jimin is flopped like a fried egg across his daybed, Hoseok has stolen his fancy red ergonomic chair and used his phone to dial up Hyuna. They’re going to sign the contract. Jimin is going to start working again.

“That’s great news!” Hyuna says, and Hoseok can all but hear her bouncing through the phone. “But there is… uh, something.”

Jimin silently shakes his head at Hoseok, eyes wide in panic, the epitome of commitment issues. Jimin, signing up for something in any way binding? Agreeing to literally anything without reading all the fine print, finding every loophole? It’s somehow even less likely than you think!

Hoseok ignores him anyway, as usual, tapping the tip of his pen against his pursed lips. “Sure! What is it?”

“Well… There’s a convention in Tokyo. Next week. We’re going, Youngmi and myself, and Hyojong of course. There’s going to be world renowned artists and writers there, doing talks and workshops and… Youngmi suggested it, actually. We think it’s the perfect opportunity to start drafting some stuff and talking specifics. Plus, we need to do some serious bonding if we’re going to make this work.”

“A convention?” This has Jimin’s attention, suddenly upright in his daybed.

“Yeah. Unfortunately we can’t sponsor you, since you’re not with the company, but we’d really like you to come. It’s not necessary, strictly speaking, but we’d really like it if you could make it.”

Ah. It’s business speak for “it is necessary but we’re not going to make it seem like it is because that’s rude.”

Hoseok hums, sly grin drawn across his mouth. “I think… we can make that work. Jimin-ssi?”

Jimin plays coy. “I’ll have to check with my financial advisor,” he says with a sigh. “Hoseok-ssi should be able to clear my schedule. Can we call you back at 4?”

“Looking forward to it, Jimin-ssi. Hoseok-ssi, I will forward you the information about the convention so you know what days to set aside. I’m really excited!”

As soon as they’re disconnected, Jimin leaps up from sitting and throws himself at Hoseok. “A convention!!!” He kicks the ground to spin them in the chair, but Hoseok plants his feet firmly on the ground, hands cupping Jimin’s biceps to steady him as well.

“I don’t think this is going to be like ComiCon.”

“But still!” Jimin whines. “The creative energy, the artists—we have to go.”

“We?”

“Who else would carry my luggage?”

Hoseok scowls.

“Oh my god. I have to call Yoonji!” Now Jimin is gripping Hoseok’s shoulders, shaking him in anticipation and excitement. “She’s going to want in on this. And Jungkook. Can we afford to cover all the travel expenses?”

“I’m not your financial advisor,” Hoseok reminds him.

“So? Call her!” Jimin is entirely too loud for how close his mouth is to Hoseok’s ear, his breath warm in Hoseok’s hair.

Hoseok leans back to look Jimin in the face. “You can use a phone, dumbass.”

Jimin sticks his tongue out. “Don’t be rude!”

“I’m not the one constantly barking orders!”

“You like being bossed around and you know it!” As soon as Jimin realizes what he’s said, he flushes dark red. “I mean—I didn’t mean. Ah.”

In the space of one breath, one moment, Hoseok realizes how close together they’ve drifted. He could, in theory, lean forward and catch Jimin’s mouth against his, make him shut up for once. Not that he wants to. It’s just a fleeting thought—Jimin’s lips, soft and glossy, are so close Hoseok can make out the tiny wrinkles in the pink flesh. Jimin’s chest swells with the rapid breaths he’s taking, probably from all the yelling; it couldn’t be from anything else, there’s nothing else to be all breathless about. It’s not like this is the first time Jimin’s thighs have been parted over Hoseok’s, straddling him in his office chair—

Oh. This is the part where Hoseok realizes what this would look like if anyone were to see them. If, god forbid, Jeongguk chose now to have a question about some character concept or which shading do you like better, no really hyung, which one, I can’t pick, please stop laughing at me.

Hoseok clears his throat, tightens his vocal cords and forces out a playful, “Wouldn’t you like to know?” so thin that just sinks in the heavy air between them.

Jimin’s gaze lingers a moment later, then he’s unhooking his thighs from around Hoseok and laughing, “Oh, ho ho, but I already do. Why else would you still be working for me?”

“That’s a great question,” Hoseok says flatly. “Must be all the benefits, like no take-home stress, regular hours, and being whined at by my fucking baby of a boss every day.”

Jimin smiles, bright and cheery, shit-eating, and Hoseok can’t help but feel like that smile might have something to do with why he’s still working here.