It’s odd, how things find themselves in the night, how things fall together in the dark. The room is illuminated only by the tiny lamp stuck to the left wall, and the gleaming screens before them. Soft beats, beating soft, beating clear. Yoongi taps his pencil against his knee. Hoseok fiddles with the mouse under his palm. They know this sequence by heart. They know this routine by heart, too.
Namjoon had fallen asleep much earlier, sprawled out across the couch, the old maroon coverlet that Hoseok had thrown over him earlier tangled across his limbs. The headphones block out his snoring just enough. It’s fine. They’re always fine.
“See,” says Yoongi softly, and Hoseok hits pause, tugging his earphones down. “The sostenuto—the sustain here. Sounds too boomy. We need to cut it.”
“But the depression’s on purpose.” Hoseok steals a quick glance towards Namjoon, before scooting the slightest bit closer to Yoongi. Their knees knock together lightly. “Remember? We put it in yesterday.”
“It doesn’t feel right,” utters Yoongi, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Let’s take it out.”
“You’re gonna put it back in tomorrow, hyung,” says Hoseok, a soft sigh punctuating his words, “I know you will.”
They’ve been here for a good five hours, now. Straight after practice, they’d bundled into the room, an odd assortment of coffee mugs from home and scribbled-into notebooks in tow. It’s nearly two in the morning, and Yoongi can barely remember the decisions he’d made three hours ago, let alone yesterday. It’s nearly two in the morning and all Yoongi can think about is their deadline, their next flight, and the way the base of his spine aches when he stretches his right arm too far.
The more Yoongi thinks about it, the more he realises that Hoseok is right. He’s probably going to ask to put it back in again tomorrow. “Fuck,” he says, for lack of anything better to say, and he drops his pencil with a soft clatter, leaning back in his seat.
Hoseok leans over, presses his face against Yoongi’s neck. His skin is warm against Yoongi’s, in the chilled air of the room. “You need to take a break,” he murmurs. Yoongi’s arm comes up to rest around his shoulders, fingers absently skimming across the hem of his sleeve. “We can fix it later, when Namjoon wakes up.”
The light on the wall flickers for the most minuscule of seconds. Yoongi shuts his eyes for a second, and just pretends that they’re alone, even though they’re not. Hoseok leans in closer, so warm and so real and right, right here, right now. Yoongi knows the door’s not locked, knows sleep can only take a person under so deep, knows nothing is ever safe. He pretends the soft press of lips against Hoseok’s head is nothing more than platonic.
But both of them know that’s not true.
“What if he wakes up right now?” asks Yoongi softly, “what if he sees us, right here?”
“It’s nothing he hasn’t seen before,” comes the whisper, and he’s right. They’ve been seen in much more compromising situations than this. Limbs tangled together across the couch one night in the dorms, Hoseok crowded up into Yoongi’s space against the kitchen counter, Yoongi with his fingers threading through Hoseok’s hair absently in the van. It’s nothing nobody hasn’t seen before. It’s nothing that nobody doesn’t know. They merely pretend that they don’t. For both their sakes. For all their sakes.
The game changes, though, when the night tugs its curtains down over the sky. Motions soften. Gazes meet much more often. Everything feels like it passes so much more slowly, at night. And Yoongi can’t help it, sometimes, can’t help the way he looks at Hoseok, and can’t help the way Hoseok looks right back at him, the same expression mirrored in his own.
But it’s fine. It’s always fine.
Hoseok shifts back up, and stretches languidly. “Come on, hyung,” he says, “ramyun break.”
“It’s two,” says Yoongi, snorting, “and it’s snowing.”
“Come on,” says Hoseok, a little more insistently, “we barely get any time to ourselves. Namjoon’s out cold, and everyone’s at home, and I’m sure we’ll be back under an hour flat.” His voice drops, a little lower, a little quieter than before. “Please?”
He always does. But the longing in his bones aches louder than his sense of caution, and it’s with a quiet hush that the both of them push their chairs under the table, grabbing their jackets and sneaking past Namjoon, making sure to not wake up with the creak of the door that shuts behind their heels.
The snow’s lessened, over the past couple of hours. Now, the sidewalks are simply framed in white, the city’s never-sleeping lights caressing the angles of the buildings around them. There are barely inches between them as they walk, but the space has never been more obvious, now. Yoongi’s hands tucked into his jacket pockets. Hoseok’s arms pressed to his sides.
Fear constantly reigns them in, but it is the same kind of fear that feeds their desire to step out of it. Hoseok’s hand slips, brushes against his elbow. The glance that Yoongi sneaks over is enough for Hoseok to know to say it, the way he always knows how. “We’ll just avoid all the streetlights,” he says simply, “there aren’t many people around, right now, anyway.”
“Yeah?” Yoongi sidles closer, and lets his hand fall out of his pocket. Maybe his lungs feel a little tight, right now. Maybe he’s just remembering what they’ve been training for, for the past few years, and what this could do to destroy all of that. Maybe he just wants to forget about that, for the slightest moment, for just this one hour. “Alright.”
Their fingers curl together, just the tips.
A couple of blocks to go, before they hit the nearest 7-11. Their hands slip closer with each passing second, fingers interlacing until the gaps between skin no longer exist, palms meeting. The ache in Yoongi’s chest does not subside, but he can see the corner of Hoseok’s mouth quirk up, the tiniest hint of a smile. It is enough to soothe.
“So,” says Yoongi, wanting to dispel the strange swirl in his gut, picking humour to do the job of creating a distraction, “did you con me into a date? Is this what this is?”
“Do you want it to be?” replies Hoseok, teasing. Their grip does not loosen, even when they cross from one corner of the sidewalk to another, hands hidden between layers of padding between them. “It could.”
“Romantic,” remarks Yoongi dryly, “instant noodles at two in the morning, in the coldest weather imaginable.”
“You got it,” quips Hoseok, and here it comes, that smile back in full force, now.
Sometimes, Yoongi wonders, just how he’d become so fond of Hoseok. So fond of everything he does, everything he is. The smile on his face. The bounce in his step. The way he says Yoongi’s name sometimes, all sleepy and nuanced and convivial. The fact that he’s even there, sitting there in that room, with him and Namjoon, placing plosives and vowels over explosive sounds for hours.
Yoongi clears his throat, and looks away, smiling despite himself.
Their hands draw apart when they reach the stark-white, brightly lit convenience store, and thankfully it’s empty, save a couple of college students browsing the aisles with their eyes half-closed, books under one arm. College entrance exams soon, probably.
“Chips,” calls Yoongi, floating away to the drinks section, “grab some for me.”
Hoseok makes a non-committal sound in the back of his throat, bending down to check out a packet of Pocky.
They end up at the counter, taking the only vacant seats as the two college students shuffle out with coffee in their hands. Instant noodles are godsend. Yoongi curls his hands around the large cup—or bowl, rather; he’d gotten the supersized one—and breathes in the warm scent of curry flavourings and monosodium glutamate. Godsend.
“Move,” says Hoseok, scooting closer, and he’s peeling apart the wrapper on a slice of cheese. Yoongi crinkles his nose. “No, really, I swear it’s better with cheese.”
“Gross,” says Yoongi, reaching for the bag of chips instead. “You keep telling yourself that.”
Hoseok pouts, and Yoongi wants to chuck a chip at him.
But this is nice. This is them, the two of them, bantering over a steaming bowl of noodles, a bag of chips, and coffee. This is them together. This is. It is.
The man at the counter is busy with his phone, leaning back in his chair behind the cash register. Yoongi supposes he won’t notice if they keep quiet, and keep their backs to him. He supposes he won’t notice when Hoseok glances around them, making sure there’s no one around, before pressing a lightning-quick kiss to Yoongi’s cheek, murmuring his thanks, for everything.
He supposes no one will notice, if he just looks at Hoseok like this.
Just for a night, just for a day.
They return the same way, hands tucked into each other’s, the cold wrapping their breaths together, the snow beginning to soak through their shoes, freezing their toes over. Yoongi lets himself indulge for once, indulge in the way Hoseok’s hand feels curled into his, easy and light and so very warm, despite the rest of their shivering selves. They only have to let go once, when a woman walks hurriedly past them, but the rest of the journey seems almost surreal.
Holding hands in public. Maybe, a year ago, Yoongi wouldn’t have dared even think about it. But here he is, and there they are, and here they are now, sharing the thumping of pulses.
They slip back into the room quietly. Namjoon is still asleep, now tossed and turned over to one side, facing the messy desk. Hoseok sets his things down, waits for Yoongi to do the same, before pushing him towards a corner near the door and shuffling into his space, rolling their foreheads together. “Hello,” he whispers, hands sliding up to cup Yoongi’s face, “that was nice.”
“Yes,” says Yoongi, curving his palms around Hoseok’s hips, tugging him nearer, letting Hoseok nudge their noses together. “It was.”
They kiss under the dim light, quiet seeking and fleeting brushes of thumbs over cheeks, lashes against lashes, palms splaying across skin, mouths warmer than anything else that could lend heat in the cold of the night.
And Yoongi can barely bear to tug himself away, but he does, and he says quietly, “No more of this, though,” and he knows Hoseok knows too, “we have to be more careful from now on.”
“I know, I know,” says Hoseok, still smiling, though. He always smiles. Even when he’s not alright. But it’s fine. It’s always fine. He presses his mouth to the corner of Yoongi’s lips, and murmurs, “We’ll be okay.”
They will. They always will be.
“Come on,” says Yoongi, and they separate, back to their own air, back to their own reach. Hoseok smiles that same way at Yoongi, one last time, before he’s bending over to wake Namjoon, tugging the coverlet off and knocking a knuckle against his temple. “Wake up,” says Yoongi loudly, “there’s coffee. And stuff to do.”
“Get up, or I’m drinking it myself,” says Hoseok cheerfully into Namjoon’s ear, patting his face, and Namjoon groans, rubbing at his eyes wearily. “Good boy.”
And this is them, yet again. When they find themselves in the night, when they fall together in the dark. Yoongi will point out the one part they just can’t seem to fix, and Namjoon will skitter a fingertip along the screen, voice rumbling with suggestions, and Hoseok will note it down, too-childish handwriting skirting across a legal pad. They will work until the sun knocks on their window, they will work until the kids tumble in to play, they will work until they are no longer allowed to.
But Yoongi will glance over, catch Hoseok’s gaze, and know.
They’re fine. They’ll always be fine.