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The memories of his past life come to him slowly. When he was four, he started to recall certain things his previous selves had loved when they were the same age. Four generations later, Hoseok is still drawn to the same kinds of toys that he played with before, albeit the toys now are far more advanced and less like a death-trap for a child.

At eight years old he was filled with the vague feeling of missing out on something. It’s when he reached ten that he remembered the child that he grew up with four lifetimes ago. The child’s face had flickered in his mind’s eye, the name at the tip of his tongue. Of course, by thirteen, he’d remembered practically everything about that child and felt an intense need to find him. But he’s thirteen and this life has brought him to Korea, of all places, so he’s not even sure if he was going to be in the same place (but don’t soulmates work like that? You find each other no matter what, right?)

When Jung Hoseok graduated high school and still found no sign of the boy – blonde in that life time with freckles that dotted his cheeks and green eyes that were so alive, and a laughter that could give the sun a run for its money with how warm it was – he was about to give up. He’d skipped four cycles, he was sure of it now. What if the other boy wasn’t going to be reborn in this one, then?

The thought of not finding his soulmate in this lifetime sucked and he reels at the feeling, hand going to the nearest sturdy surface to steady himself as he realises that this is the same exact feeling that the other boy had to live with for the rest of his life, for four lifetimes. It feels like the world isn’t even spinning anymore and every time he looks up, the skies are always grey and gloomy.

When they met four lifetimes ago, Jung Hoseok was positive that he was the one – that he would be the one in any lifetime. Even then they knew that they’d find each other after that first lifetime together. Except the universe had fucked up four times in a row and now Hoseok isn’t entirely sure if he’s even going to get his chance this time around.

So he spends the summer moping around, annoying the hell out of his best friend who keeps dragging him to a cookie shop (it’s the trend nowadays, these shops made entirely for people and their sometimes not quite healthy cookie cravings).

“I think the waiter’s a little bit alarmed at how I’ve been coming here the past two weeks straight and only been eating the same kinda cookie,” Hoseok sets a plate of vanilla and chocolate chip cookies while Jimin flutters around the shop, not sure what he’s going to be getting today.

The waiter – Jeongguk, from his nametag – comes over to set a mug of piping hot chocolate milk beside the plate of cookies. “On the house,” Jeongguk says with a little laugh. “You’re the only one who’s come for the past two weeks or so and ordered the same exact thing, we thought it was time we said thank you.”

 Hoseok, in what felt like years (it’s only been thirty minutes, really) grins, “If this is how you treat me after two weeks, I wonder what I get after the third week?”

Jeongguk blinks down at him, “You know, we have other flavours, too.” He says, a bit sheepish.

Hoseok shakes his head, “You don’t understand – “

“There’s no reasoning around this,” It’s Jimin who says it, coming back with a plate of oatmeal cookies infused with salted caramel. “But good luck trying to change his order, though. Also, don’t I get complimentary hot chocolate, too?”

Jeongguk shrugs his shoulders, “Nope, not today,” and he turns around with a little snicker.

Jimin just rolls his eyes, “I swear, if I didn’t love this place I would’ve left, that waiter gets on my nerves,”

“You’re just jealous you’re not cute enough for a free drink.” Hoseok drops two cookies into the hot chocolate and watches as the first one crumbles.

“I can afford a two-dollar hot chocolate!” Jimin all but proclaims, shoving the first cookie into his mouth.

“Hot chocolate for table three, gotcha!” Jeongguk calls, mistaking Jimin’s outburst with an order. Or not. The smirk on his face as he prepares the drink tells them otherwise, though.

Jimin groans, “I hate that guy.”

“If you say it louder he’ll hear and he’ll spit in your milk,” Hoseok warns, fishing a half-soaked cookie out of his drink. “Good luck.”

Jeongguk comes back shortly after and instead of leaving, he pulls up a chair and drags it to their table, setting a third plate of normal chocolate chip cookies in the middle of their table. “Hey, what’s up, I’m on my break now.”

“Nice, more free food,” Hoseok beams, hands grabbing for the cookies. He promptly stuffs one into his mouth and chews happily.

“You eat chocolate chip but order just that one flavour, what gives?” Jeongguk asks with a raised eyebrow.

“This is free and you’re supposed to appreciate the kindness from other people. Nobody ever threw out a plate of perfectly good cookies before so why should I start now?” Hoseok simply excuses himself with a second cookie. Jimin attempts to grab for one of Jeongguk’s and Jeongguk swats his hand away.

“Eat one and you pay for it,” Jeongguk says simply, a little hum in his voice. Up close, Hoseok can see Jeongguk clearly – he looks way too young to be in college but he’s quite tall so he assumes he’s just a bored high school senior or something with nothing to do but traumatise poor customers like Jimin.

“That’s not fair – “ Jimin says, trying to grab for the cookie that Jeongguk was deliberately waving in front of Jimin’s face. “Don’t be such a little – pain – in the – “

Jeongguk glares at Jimin at that, challenging him to finish what he was just about to say. “I’ll spit in all your drinks if you finish that,”

Hoseok barks out a laugh and thinks that this Jeongguk kid doesn’t seem so bad – correction, this Jeongguk kid is a riot and knows how to aggravate Park Jimin almost as good as Hoseok does. That’s an amazing feat.

“Jeongguk, your break’s not even until two hours – “ The voice sounds a little bit annoyed but mostly exasperated, “Have you been giving out free stuff again?”

Jeongguk jumps to his feet and makes a very dramatic stride back towards the counter where a boy who’s probably the manager of the shop stood just behind it. Hoseok gives him a quick once over – short, a mess of brown hair that curled at the tips, and a cup of coffee in his left hand.

“Hey, that guy over there has ordered the same exact thing for two weeks, I just thought it deserved praise,” Jeongguk excuses his recent waste of the business’s money as he gestures towards Hoseok. “Anyway, those two are always here most days, and they really like the cookies,”

“Right,” the guy says, nodding towards their table. Half his face is blocked by the dark sunglasses he wore but judging from the outfit, the cup of coffee, and his voice sounding like it needed more sleep than he’d got, the brunette was hungover. After a few minutes of shuffling behind the counter, he tells Jeongguk to “please work properly,” and leaves the shop.

After he’s gone, Jeongguk comes back to their table, “Wild night,” He muses, “Or not. I don’t know, I don’t care. Also, here, taste this! Mint cookies, they’re new,” He doesn’t wait for Jimin to answer or even grab the cookie, instead, Jeongguk pushes it into his face, the cookie hitting Jimin’s nose. “Oops, my bad,” And he gives off a cackle that sounds extremely mental for such a place. Hoseok decides then and there that Jeongguk wasn’t so bad.   

------

The next day, Jimin isn’t around to haul his ass out of bed because he’s out with his family, so Hoseok takes the time to find himself. By that standard, he sleeps in all day and wakes up noon the next.

Jimin isn’t around the next day as well but Hoseok decides that it’s good if he got some fresh air, felt the sun on his skin, and had a dozen of those vanilla chocolate chip cookies. So he sets out of home with that in mind, a certain spring in his steps.

Sure, just a month ago he’d almost been crippled with the realisation that he might just have to spend this lifetime alone, but he’s got delicious cookies that somehow fill that void so he figures he’s gonna be good for a few more weeks or so. It’s amazing just how much you can delude yourself into thinking you might just be alone for the rest of your miserable life.

When he steps into the shop, he finds that it’s quiet save for a couple near the window. He doesn’t pretend to be interested in all the other flavours, instead just goes to the shelf where the vanilla chocolate chips are.

“Wait, something’s wrong here,” Hoseok mumbles, staring at an empty shelf. He quickly turns around, eyes searching for Jeongguk to explain this terrible mistake, “Jeongguk, how come there aren’t any – “

But there’s nobody behind the counter and the couple by the window is looking at him real weird and suspicious because Hoseok is sounding like he’s one second away from having a mental breakdown over an empty shelf of his favourite cookies.

Okay, so he’s been stress eating and now that the only thing he’s grown to love in the past two weeks was out, he feels like the walls surrounding his life are about to crumble and come crashing down. Very dramatic over a cookie when there are practically dozens more around the shop but Hoseok has had a pretty shitty lifetime, thanks, what with his soulmate being out of commission and all.

“Hey,” It’s an unfamiliar voice that wakes him from his mid-day crisis, “Are you going to stare hopelessly at your hands the whole time or order?” It’s the brunette from the other day. He looks like he’s had a few more hours of sleep but he still sounds the same, his words almost a slur with how slow he’s talking.

“Can I crawl under a table and cry until they come back in stock?” Hoseok says, staring up at the other boy.

“Jeongguk’s lazy as fuck so I doubt he’s swept those floors thoroughly, they might be dirty,” The boy shrugs his shoulders. “But if you want, you can go cry under that table by the back so no one sees you,”

Hoseok sniffles, “Thanks, that’s really nice of you.” And to the other boy’s surprise, he actually moves to the table pointed out for him and plops himself rather dejectedly on the chair. “So when until the vanilla chocolate chip cookies arrive?”

He’s met with a raised eyebrow and what could only be a scoff, “We’re out for the whole day.”

Hoseok’s wall comes shattering down and his brain breaks into a million pieces while his heart tries to hold itself together. He’s so confused and feeling so much – he’s just having a really bad lifetime, okay? – that he lets out a small little noise, burying his head in his arms and sniffling some more. “Worst. Day. Ever.”

-----

Jeongguk finds him after what felt like five hours (only one hour has passed with Hoseok mulling over the difficulties of life and just how mean the universe could be to a poor soul like him) and before saying anything, the boy laughs. “So you noticed we’re out of the cookies?”

Hoseok looks up at him, a little bit accusatory. “If you’re hiding them in the back and saving them for yourself, I’ll kill you.”

Jeongguk raises both his hands in a little show of surrender, “Hey, don’t blame me. I guess he didn’t get to bake some today,”

He groans at that, curses the stars and all the moons that have aligned for this one horrible moment in time. “This is terrible. How could he not bake any today? Everything else is stocked besides my cookies!”

The waiter gives him a little shrug, “Dunno.”

“Wait, who bakes them?” At his question, Jeongguk only motions to the counter a little ways behind them where the brunette – who had on a beanie now to hide that mess of a hair – is sat down, flipping through a very thick book.

“No fuckin way,” Hoseok breathes, eyes squinting in his direction. “He bakes all these little pieces of heaven?”

“Yeah, he kinda owns the place,” Jeongguk starts to sweep around Hoseok’s table, “And he told me to clean around here cause you were going to spend the rest of the day on the floor.”

Instead of sweeping around, though, Jeongguk just leans the broom against the wall and sits down beside Hoseok. “I don’t know how that hyung manages but he shows up here every morning to bake,”

“Then why didn’t he bake any of my cookies?” Hoseok whines, feet kicking from under the table. “And who is he?” He’s a little bit interested now because the guy behind the counter certainly doesn’t look like he’s got the patience for baking – and cooking, too. And if he baked all of these then he came up with all the flavours too, right? It just doesn’t add up how that grumpy little man could bake all of these.

“Min Yoongi-hyung,” Jeongguk hums, breaking off a chocolate and mint flavoured cookie. He gives the other half to Hoseok who stares at it forlornly. “Well, this is his mom’s bakery but ever since they opened another branch, she’s been busy with that one. No time to bake for the two shops so she gave this one to hyung. I think he’s a culinary student, too.”

Hearing the sound of his name, Min Yoongi looks up from the book and stares at Jeongguk who’s doing anything but the job he was told to do. But instead of reprimanding Jeongguk, he just sighs and flips through the next page of his book.

Hoseok stares at him more intently this time and notices that the boy’s got really long lashes. Sort of pretty if he hadn’t just destroyed Hoseok’s life.

“That still doesn’t explain why my cookies are out,” Hoseok is a spoilt little child who may or may not need constant reassurance that his life isn’t just about to tip into a boiling pot of “fuck no”, but the only one who’s life was a little bit more crazy than his – Park Jimin’s – isn’t here and when he left the house, a mental breakdown was the last thing on his mind.

But here he is, slumped over the table and whining about his favourite cookies not being in stock.

“Maybe hyung was busy last night or he ran out of ingredients, I don’t know, what did he tell you?” Jeongguk is the worst waiter any business could hire and Hoseok doesn’t understand how he’s still got a job because now Jeongguk is helping himself to a full plate of assorted flavoured cookies and doing everything but his job.

“He said you’ll be out of them for the day,” Hoseok doesn’t even have any of the cookies that Jeongguk’s unabashedly stuffing his face with. Having a different flavour when he hasn’t had any of his favourites felt like pure betrayal and he isn’t living that kind of life.

So while Jeongguk eats and Min Yoongi sighs from time to time behind the counter over how he’s hired the most incompetent idiot ever, Hoseok just wallows in his unshed tears.

-----

A week has passed and the café is still devoid of Hoseok’s favourite cookies. He thinks it’s the universe conspiring against him to make his every waking moment a living hell. Even Jimin shrugged it off after their third trip saying that vanilla must be scarce this time around.

The last time he was at the café, though, staring hopelessly into his cup of coffee, Jeongguk had told him that by Monday they’d have them again, his exact words being, “Hyung says he’s not too busy next week anymore, so I’m sure he’ll have time to bake them.”

So when Monday came, Hoseok, whose spirit was already so low, rolled out of his bed and promptly fell on the floor.

Namjoon’s waiting for him in the kitchen, helping himself to breakfast Hoseok’s mother had prepared.

“Do you want coffee?” His mom asks as he walks into the kitchen. Namjoon gives him a little wave before proceeding to inhale his breakfast.

“No, I want my life back,” He plops down on a chair beside Namjoon and his mom sighs as she places a plate of toast in front of him.

“Don’t be so dramatic. Namjoon, tell him not to be so dramatic,”

“Don’t be so dramatic, it’s a wonderful Monday morning and this French toast is amazing,” His mother laughs and Namjoon lets out one of his signature chuckles – if there’s anybody who’s as good as scoring brownie points as Namjoon, then Hoseok would like to meet them.

“Wait, we’re not even supposed to have breakfast, I told you we were going to get some at the café – “ Hoseok pushes the plate away from him and bolts out of his chair. “It’s Monday! My cookies are back!”

Namjoon rolls his eyes, “Some people can’t live on cookies alone,”

Hoseok might just hate Namjoon right now because he’s ruining an absolutely exciting morning – he wasn’t so excited ten minutes ago but now as sunlight breaks into their kitchen window and he feels the warmth in his cheeks, he feels like today won’t be so bad, that it’ll be perfect, even. He’s had a breakdown every day the past week but today will be breakdown free, he’s positive.

So he drags Namjoon out of the house and they hop onto a bus, Hoseok hauling Namjoon’s ass on it as the boy refuses to leave the cosy kitchen and delicious breakfast.

Hoseok’s excited and expectant as he steps into the café, a grumbling Namjoon behind him. He spots Min Yoongi standing by one of the tables, an apron tied around his waist and his hair still messy with sleep. He raises a hand to cover his mouth as he lets out a yawn. When he spots Hoseok and Namjoon, he smirks. Well – Hoseok thinks the boy had smirked, but now he’s not so sure because the blank expression on his face as he addresses Hoseok’s entrance makes it hard to tell if he’d smirked or not. Yoongi looks like he’d just woken up and a little bit of a mess – his apron was white from the flour and his cheek had a smudge of chocolate. Hoseok won’t admit it to anyone but he thought Min Yoongi looked a little cute then.

“Vanilla chocolate chip!” Hoseok announces, foregoing an actual greeting.

“Hey,” Namjoon says, walking to the counter.

Jeongguk pops up like he’d just been waiting for a customer to creep up on. The smile plastered on his face is fake because his eyes look the complete opposite of happy. “Oh, it’s just you guys,” At their familiar faces, his terrifying fake grin falls and is replaced with a frown.

“Rough morning?” Namjoon mumbles, noticing the traces of flour in Jeongguk’s hair.

The boy groans, “You can say it again. I’ve been here since the crack of dawn helping Yoongi-hyung out with the baking,”

“Can’t you bake in the middle of the day or something?” Namjoon asks, a hand running through his hair. “What’s the difference?”

“Hyung won’t be in for the rest of the day so we made extra, just in case foot traffic increases,” He looks a little bit smug, though. Maybe because he hadn’t burned the whole building down.

Min Yoongi, on the other hand, looks like he’d exhausted himself just trying to keep the café from crumbling.

“I helped bake! Here, taste these,” He presents a plate of assorted cookies that look like someone had just stepped on them. Namjoon takes one tentatively and bites into it cautiously. “Swear they’re not poisoned or anything. But they taste good, right? Right?” He’s practically bouncing on the soles of his feet, looking all excited at having someone finally tasting his cookies.

Namjoon tries not to choke on how dry the cookie is. Min Yoongi had anticipated the situation already and pushed a glass of water towards him. Namjoon downs it immediately. He resurfaces with a thumbs up for Jeongguk, though, because the younger boy looked far too excited and pleased with himself to be let down by his cookie almost killing a man at nine in the morning.

The café shakes with a wail that came from the corner, and all eyes go to Hoseok who’s staring at another empty shelf. He turns accusingly to Jeongguk, a finger pointed. “You said you’d have them today!”

Jeongguk puts the plate down and furrows his brow, “Yeah, we had a whole tray prepared.” He turns to Yoongi, who’s breaking a cookie in two. “Where are they, hyung?”

“I ate them all,” Yoongi says nonchalantly, biting into the cookie.

“You – what - ?” Hoseok demands, his eyes wide. “Is that it?” He notices the cookie in Yoongi’s hand, drawing closer to the boy.

Before he gets to the counter, Yoongi stuffs the last bits of the cookie in his mouth and waits a little bit as he chews through the whole thing before speaking, “Yeah, that was the last one.”

Jeongguk’s eyes are as wide as Hoseok’s, “Hyung, that was a whole tray. What the hell?”

Yoongi shrugs, “I was hungry,”

Another desperate sounding wail from Hoseok, “Then bake some more!”

The shorter brunette actually scoffs, “As if. I’ve got places to be,” And with that, Yoongi crosses towards the door, giving Jeongguk a meaningful look before he goes. When he sneaks a glance over his shoulder, though, he looks at Hoseok and smirks.

Hoseok’s mouth gapes open and somewhere to his side Namjoon tells him to “please stop gaping like a fucking fish, god damn it they’re just cookies.” But Hoseok ignores him completely and collapses on a table.

His fingers clutch at his hair and he feels like his brain might break – again, yes – from the emotional trauma. “This is the fucking worst,”

Behind the counter, Jeongguk keeps on mumbling to himself, his words a little bit muffled but they sounded suspiciously like, “a whole fucking tray?”

-----

“I swear, that Min Yoongi hates me,” Hoseok is waiting outside the café, a phone pressed into his ear.

Jimin’s nervous laughter rings from the other end, “Are you serious?”

It’s seven in the morning on a Thursday and the café doesn’t open until nine but he knows Yoongi comes in early to do some last minute baking or help with the set up. So Hoseok waits outside, talking to Jimin as he tries to pass the time.

“Yeah, I went back yesterday and Jeongguk told me that he’d put a fresh batch on the shelf just before I’d arrived,” Hoseok says, squinting up at the sky. It’s awfully bright and he feels like shit so maybe if the universe cooperated for once, that’d be great. Rain would be a welcome right now. He continues, “But when I got there the tray just vanishes! And the day before that, he just emptied the whole tray in his fucking bag, Jimin. In a fucking backpack, he just dropped all the cookies in there while looking at me. And he was smirking, too! I don’t know what I did but that guy hates me,”

Jimin laughs again, more amused now. “Why would he go through all that effort baking them when he won’t even sell them?”

“I don’t know, it’s fucked up. He’s mean and hates me for some reason. And – hey, I gotta go. He’s just rounding the corner,”

“Wait, are you stalking him?” But Hoseok’s already ended the call and stuffed his phone back in his pocket.

He practically jumps in front of Yoongi. The other boy takes a step back, surprised. He blinks a couple of times, surprise replaced with annoyance now.

“What the hell are you doing here? We don’t open until two hours,” Yoongi says, shoving past Hoseok to open the door to the café. “Go away,” Yoongi says when Hoseok follows him into the café and to the kitchen. When they get to the kitchen and Hoseok has yet to dissolve into a pile of ash, Yoongi sighs. “I said go away. Leave,” He motions for Hoseok to leave, pointing to the door.

Hoseok doesn’t budge, just looks at him. He looks closely at Yoongi, tries to think about any possible reason the guy might hate him. “Have we met before?” Hoseok asks, genuinely curious. He observes Yoongi’s reaction, the way the other boy’s mouth turns down and how his brows furrow.

Today, his hair is tucked underneath a cap and the dark circles under his eyes don’t look as bad as usual. There’s colour in his cheeks and it looks like he’d had a pretty decent night’s rest. But he looks annoyed now, though.

“I don’t know,” His voice is curt and dismissive. He turns his back on Hoseok, pulling at trays and sacks of flour. “Go away.”

“I mean, I think this is the first time we’ve met, so I don’t understand why you hate me so much,”  Hoseok steps closer to him, peering over his shoulder. Yoongi takes out a roller and points it again at the door. “Why won’t you just give me my cookies?”

“Because I don’t have any ingredients for them,” Yoongi says simply as he starts to work. He gives Hoseok a less than gentle push with his elbow and Hoseok stumbles away, hands gripping at a table behind him to stop himself from falling. His mind is going a hundred miles an hour now just trying to think of any way he’d insulted Yoongi, if they’d met before or if he’d thrown up on him at a party – just what was it that’s earned him all this hate?

“They’re just cookies,” Yoongi’s voice comes out softer now, sounding less like he’d want to shove Hoseok into the oven. “There’s literally a dozen other flavours,”

Hoseok shakes his head and crosses over to the other side so he’s standing in front of Yoongi, “You don’t understand – they’re special,” Hoseok says, his voice almost breaking at the thought of how crazy he must sound. But it is true, the cookies are special and he is crazy. He hasn’t come to the complete realisation yet that he might just have to be alone for the rest of his life in this lifetime and the only thing that tethered him to the smallest block of sanity left in his mind was the cookies. Call him crazy, completely out of his mind and terribly dramatic but it’s true. All his mental breakdowns the past week was caused by the absence of the cookies he’d grown so fond of.

“And what do you mean you don’t have any ingredients, you had them since Monday but conveniently ran out of whenever I got here,” He gestures wildly around the room. “And yesterday you emptied a whole fucking tray in your bag! What was up with that?”

Yoongi pauses, looking up from the mixing bowl to stare straight at Hoseok. “Because,” He says it like it’ll explain everything and he even sneers at Hoseok, a glint in his eyes.

Hoseok grabs the mixing bowl away from Yoongi and slides it to the end of the table, “What gives?”

“Okay, that’s it. You need to get the fuck out,” Yoongi points a chocolate coated spatula at Hoseok and if it wasn’t for the chocolate he would’ve looked twice as intimidating and scary.

But Hoseok doesn’t leave, though, and just stares at Yoongi, eyes squinting. He tries to search in the deepest corners of his memory, desperate to remember if they’d met before because it’s just impossible for someone to hate him so much before they’d even been introduced.

“Seriously, have we met before?” This is the apparently the wrong thing to say because Yoongi looks insulted, lip pulled back into a sneer as he looks at Hoseok like Hoseok’s just set an orphanage on fire.

Their intense staring contest is interrupted with Jeongguk and another guy bursting into the room, their chatter stopping as they notice Hoseok and Yoongi.

“Gooood morning?” Jeongguk tries to test the waters. Hoseok lets out a breath and Yoongi pulls back the mixing bowl. “Oh, hey, Hoseok, why’re you here so early? Do you know you’re in the kitchen?”

“Yes, and he won’t fucking leave,” Yoongi seethes, glaring at Hoseok. He looks at the other guy beside Jeongguk and tilts his head, “Seokjin, tell him to leave.”

Seokjin looks bewildered, eyes darting first to Yoongi and then to Hoseok. “Um, hi,” he says with a nod of his head. “What are you doing here?”

Yoongi practically splatters chocolate everywhere as he throws his hands in the air, exasperated, “He’s being a fucking brat, that’s what. Thinks I hate him or some shit,”

“Hyung, just last week you said – and these are your exact words, so don’t blame me, - ‘That fucking piece of shit garbage, I hate his guts.’” Seokjin coughs into his hand and Jeongguk looks rather pleased with himself, hands behind him as he stood on the balls of his feet, observing the carnage.

Hoseok looks at Yoongi who is now standing very close to the knives set. “What the fuck?”

Seokjin,” Yoongi breathes, not even meeting any of their gazes. Seokjin lets out a sigh and first shuffles Jeongguk out of the kitchen before he walks over to Hoseok. He doesn’t give Hoseok a second to even ask what he was about to do, he just grabs Hoseok’s wrist and drags him out, leaving a seething Yoongi to stare at the depths of his chocolate batter

Back in the café, Hoseok rounds on Jeongguk, who still doesn’t look any less guilty after dropping that nuclear bomb, “Was that true?”

“Jeongguk, shut up – “ Seokjin warns, pointing a finger at Jeongguk.

But Jeongguk is the worst employee ever and does the opposite of everything you tell him to so of course he answers Hoseok and completely ignores Seokjin, “Yep, absolutely. He hates you, dunno why, though. Didn’t you just meet?”

A crash sounds from the kitchen followed by a lot of cursing that sounded awfully like, “fucking Hoseok,” and “dumb ass Jeongguk”.

Seokjin slumps against the wall, fingers rubbing at his temples. “Wow,”

-----

It’s the middle of the afternoon and Hoseok is still in the café. After the initial fiasco, Jeongguk excused himself for the next two hours saying his friend fell into a hole and that nobody else would come to his rescue so it had to be him or did they all just want his friend to die? At that point, nobody was bothered enough to stop the boy so that just left Seokjin and Hoseok in the café, the distant sound of Yoongi’s cursing occasionally coming through from the kitchen doors.

In the time that Hoseok spends moping around, he learns that Seokjin is the other waiter in the café that picks up on all of Jeongguk’s slack, which means he practically does everything.

He talks to Hoseok for a little bit, offers him a matcha flavoured cookie. It was a kind act but Hoseok declined the offer to wallow some more, still puzzled over how a guy could hate him so much and how it’s been ten days already since his last cookie and god, fucking Universe, do you hate me so much?

It starts to rain outside and he thinks he might’ve heard thunder clap from somewhere. That’s a yes from the universe.

“Yoongi isn’t the kind to hate someone he hasn’t met yet, that’s very…Odd of him,” Seokjin talks really slowly, afraid that if he talked any louder or faster that it might cause another one of Hoseok’s breakdowns.

“I swear I don’t remember meeting him anywhere,” Hoseok runs his fingers through his hair. He’d arrived at a rather desperate point already because he just can’t think of a reason why he’d offended the guy so much.

When Jimin drops by after lunch it’s only to laugh at him. “I think it’s time to quit,” Jimin says, poking his shoulder. “Come on, Jeongguk told me you’d been here the whole damn day. You need to eat? Or drink? Both?” He’s practically shaking Hoseok by the shoulders now, trying to emit a response from him. Hoseok stays on his spot, hunched over the table and face buried in his hands.

“Man, come on. I’ll treat you to lunch and drinks,” Hoseok doesn’t respond at all and Jimin groans as he gives up for the mean time. “Alright, alright, drama queen.”

The smell of freshly baked goods wafts throughout the café and when Hoseok looks up, it’s to see Yoongi holding a tray of freshly baked cookies, looking at a laughing Seokjin.

Yoongi sets the tray down on the counter and turns to Seokjin, hands moving animatedly as Seokjin laughs at whatever it is that Yoongi had said. Jeongguk returns at that moment and comes up to the both of them but as he draws closer, he slips on the floor and grabs on to the closest thing to steady himself – poor Seokjin – in the process pulling Seokjin down on the floor with him. Yoongi stares at the both of them sprawled on the floor and then laughs, eyes crinkling and head thrown back at the sight of them.

Hoseok’s breath catches in his throat and his heart might have skipped a beat, too. Time slows down and the whole world pauses as he watches Yoongi laugh for a really long time, fingers wiping at the tears in his eyes and not at all reaching a hand out to the two who’d fallen. Hoseok hears his laugh and the more he does the more familiar it sounds. It sounds sweet and certainly not something a guy that hates his guts for no reason could sound like but that’s what Yoongi’s laughter is – sweet and light and a little bit cruel, too, for not even helping his friends out. But his eyes are shining with tears from having laughed so hard and his mouth is quirked up in the first smile that Hoseok’s ever seen.

When Yoongi finally gathers himself enough to stop laughing, he helps out Seokjin who’d fallen again all on his own. Jeongguk is grumbling about how mean Yoongi is and how he’d laughed first and helped second.

“I knew I hired you two for a reason,” Yoongi says, turning away from them to pick up the tray of cookies he’d set aside earlier.

Yoongi is still smiling as he looks down at the cookies he’d baked and Hoseok can barely hear the rain outside as the first rays of sunlight filters through the windows, hitting Yoongi’s face. Hoseok is caught staring by Yoongi whose smile doesn’t falter when their eyes meet.

It feels like he’s just been struck by a bolt of lightning because Hoseok’s heart is racing and he shoots to his feet, mouth open in a silent gasp. He lifts a finger up to point at Yoongi and finds that his hand is shaking – his whole body is shaking, his heart beating so fast and so hard that it feels like it might just burst from its rib cage.

Yoongi’s smile softens, though, like he knows a secret and he stares straight at Hoseok, this time with an eyebrow raised.

Hoseok can’t find any words for a few moments, just stares at Yoongi, at Min fucking Yoongi, the one who’s been deliberately withholding his favourite cookies from him and hated him the second he’d seen him because Min fucking Yoongi knew at that instant just who Hoseok was.

It’s not just Hoseok’s hands that are shaking, his knees feel weak now and he can’t even hear himself think. Euphoria washes over him because it’s Min Yoongi, it’s his Yoongi – this is his soulmate, the very same one he’d had four lifetimes ago and promised himself to. The same soulmate he’d left all alone for four lifetimes and – oh fucking shit.

“It’s you,” Hoseok’s voice is breathy as he finally finds the strength inside of him to speak. He’s closer to Yoongi now; the only thing separating them is the counter. Hoseok stares at Yoongi, wonders how it took him so long to recognise him – to recognise his soul. But the way Yoongi’s eyes crinkled to half-crescents when he laughed and the way the side of his mouth quirked in a smile, they were all that Hoseok needed to know. When Yoongi laughed, Hoseok’s soul had sung for the first time in a very long while because he’d found him, after all this time.

He reaches a hand out to Yoongi, a smile on his face. “Fuck, it is you,” He repeats, fingers clasping around Yoongi’s wrist. The contact sends electric shivers down his spine and he knows Yoongi felt the same thing because Yoongi’s eyes flutter to a close for the briefest of seconds at the contact. When he opens his eyes, though, it’s only to glare at Hoseok.

Hoseok sees the boy he’d fallen in love with a lifetime ago and he breathes out a sigh of relief, because finally, he’d found him.

The dream-like illusion shatters because Yoongi rips his hand away from Hoseok’s hold and takes a step back. His eyes flare angrily and he scowls, “No, fuck you.” His voice is steady and cold but Hoseok notices how his hands are shaking, too. “You’re not going to get off this easy.”

The weight of Yoongi’s words don’t register until a few seconds later when Hoseok realises that he’s clutching at thin air.

Yoongi passes the tray to a very confused looking Jeongguk and turns to look at Hoseok with a rage in his eyes that, honestly, terrifies Hoseok. In a voice that’s barely above a whisper, Yoongi hisses, “Yes, we have met before,”

It feels like the storm clouds have gathered around him when Yoongi turns away from him. He hears the shattering of something precious and knows that it’s his heart breaking as he watches Yoongi walk out of the café, not even chancing a glance back.

It’s Jimin who draws him out of his reverie with a firm hand on his shoulder.

“Let’s go have those drinks,” Hoseok’s voice is hollow but instead of feeling extremely devastated, he only feels slightly overwhelmed and even a little bit happy. Relieved, definitely. Bright side to this nightmare of a day – he’d finally found him. His soul had soared and sung as Yoongi’s laughter washed over him. This is a weird feeling and his heart is still in pieces but his soul is more determined now.

But first, drinks are in order. So Jimin calls Namjoon and the two of them throw Hoseok a pity party that ends with the three of them getting very drunk.

Hoseok wrestles Jimin’s phone out of his hands and presses on Jeongguk’s name, waiting impatiently for the boy to pick up. When he does, he sounds a little bit pissed off – it’s nearly one in the morning, granted. “Send me Min Yoongi’s number and I won’t call you ever again,” Hoseok screams into the phone, startling a very sleepy Jeongguk into abiding by the request (Yoongi will force him to mop the whole café in the morning for it).

Namjoon is crashed on a couch and Jimin’s basically just given up on trying to get his phone back because he rolls on the floor and turns his back away from Hoseok and covers his ears, the logic that if he can’t see or hear Hoseok then he wouldn’t be a witness to the crime.

Hoseok doesn’t waste time calling Yoongi. It rings for a few seconds until Yoongi picks up, his “Who the fuck is this?” sleep heavy.

“Yooongi,” Hoseok practically sings out the name. He hears a groan from the other end and he quickly tells him not to drop the call or else he’ll track down where he lives and start yelling. Yoongi doesn’t, but he does tell Hoseok to go fuck himself and drive into a ditch after.

My Yoongi,” Hoseok breathes, his eyes fluttering to a close. He’s leaned against the wall, his legs splayed out in front of him. Much like that afternoon, his hands are shaking and all his nerves are on end. “I thought I’d never find you,” It’s a drunken confession, the sober part of him not even bothering to stop him at this point.

He hears a sharp intake of breath from the other end followed by Yoongi’s voice, awfully cold and haunting when he says, “You need to try harder.”

-----

Everything makes so much sense now that he knows just who Yoongi is. Every nerve in him is craving for the boy. But it’s not easy, not when Yoongi practically hates his guts, not even giving him the time of day. Two days have passed since that fateful incident and Hoseok is still without his vanilla chocolate chip cookies – but that’s not his main problem anymore, no, not when he’d found the love of his life again.

Okay, so maybe the love of his life is the problem. What gives, anyway? It’s not like it’s his fault Yoongi had been alone for four lifetimes. Did he really think it was easy for him after he realised he’d left Yoongi alone all those times? Hoseok had struggled with that, knew that he had a lot of atoning to do but thought that when they finally met, it would be sweeter than this mess. That he’d be welcomed with open arms and a warm hug.

He actually brought that up the other day when he’d snuck into the kitchen and Yoongi scowled at him, “Oh, poor Hoseok, it’s good to know you thought about how much it could’ve sucked for me being alone for so fucking long.”

“It’s not my fault, honestly,” Hoseok had said, voice pleading. “You think it was easy for me?”

Yoongi had just thrown him a rather terrifying look that immediately cut the conversation.

And that was the end of that.

Ever since then, Hoseok has been trying to get Yoongi alone, wanting to talk to him desperately. But whenever Yoongi is at the shop he’s either with Jeongguk or Seokjin and Hoseok just doesn’t want to scare the other two about the gravity of their situation right now. After the third day, he gives up and resorts to just texting Yoongi nonstop about giving him a chance and if they could please, please, please talk. He hasn’t gotten a reply in almost a week and Yoongi’s only picked up his calls so he could tell Hoseok to fuck off.

So when his phone beeps with an incoming message, the last thing he expects is one from Yoongi that simply says “okay”. Hoseok’s heart flutters in his chest (the pieces are slowly coming back together the more he sees Yoongi.) and he texts back immediately, saying he’ll be over in fifteen minutes. Hoseok doesn’t ask where Yoongi is because he already knows. He heads to the cafe, panting a little bit when he gets to the door because he’d practically ran for three blocks (why does this have to be so far from the bus stops?!, Hoseok curses).

The café is completely empty and the doors are locked. He tries to pry them open only to no avail.

“What gives?” He asks, in between pants, as Yoongi finally picks up the call. “Where are you?”

“Did you run to the café thinking I was still there? It’s almost midnight, what the hell would I be doing there?” But Yoongi sounds more amused than annoyed, his words coming out slower, more sluggish. He sounds like he’s been drinking. “I’m at the park two blocks down from the café, take a left and you’ll find it,”

“Don’t move,” Hoseok says before dropping the call. He decides to jog the two blocks it takes to get to the park, his heart racing as fast as he was running. He feels a new type of elation course through his every vein.

When he thought all those years back of how he would meet his soulmate, he’d pictured it out to be the most beautiful reunion ever. He had never expected his soulmate to actually hate him – is that even possible when you’re soulmates? Hoseok knows his faults but also knows that nothing was in his control so if Min Yoongi would just listen for five seconds then maybe he’d get his words across that thick skull of his.

He arrives at the park and sees Yoongi immediately. The boy is on the swing, feet digging into the sand. Hoseok knows that Yoongi can sense that he’s near because Yoongi looks up at him, eyes squinting as he tries to make out Hoseok’s figure in the dimly lit area.

Hoseok has so much to say to him and is more than ready to plead for forgiveness then and there – hell, he would’ve done the same if it meant getting his cookies back on the daily menu – but instead, what comes out of his mouth is a question that makes his voice break, “Do you really hate me?”

Yoongi’s face softens at the question but he doesn’t respond immediately. Hoseok notices that his cheeks and neck are flushed with colour and deduces that Yoongi may have had a little bit too much to drink. Normally, Yoongi would’ve cussed him out already.

“No,” Yoongi’s voice is tender, almost a whisper that the wind would’ve carried away with it had Hoseok not been listening closely. “How could I?” And his mouth twitches into half of a smile that clutches at Hoseok’s heart. He wants to reach for Yoongi now and bring him close to him, but this is the first time they’ve actually talked this long and this seriously that he fears any untoward actions would cause for the moment to just shatter. So he waits.

“I mean, I want to,” The Yoongi from four lifetimes ago had the habit of drawing his words out and speaking slowly. Hoseok smiles at the fact that the Yoongi today is the same, that, really, nothing much has changed.  “I’m just really fucking pissed at you, is all,” He doesn’t sound angry, though, just tired.

Hoseok takes the other swing and twists it around so he’s facing Yoongi, “Okay, and you have a really legitimate reason for being angry,”

Yoongi nods rather sluggishly, “Yes, so fuck you for leaving me alone.”

“I told you, it’s not my fault,” Hoseok thinks that arguing with him right now wouldn’t be such a good idea, instead, he reaches out for Yoongi’s hand and gives it a little tug, his voice much softer when he says, “I really fucking missed you.”

He’s amazed that Yoongi hasn’t ripped his hand away from him yet so Hoseok takes this as a go signal to grip on it a little bit tighter.

“What are you doing?” Apparently, that wasn’t the go signal at all. “I’m still mad at you. Like, really fucking mad at you. I ate a whole tray of those cookies in thirty minutes just so I could ruin your day.”

Hoseok groans at the memory, “You’re a real work of art,”

“And I wasted a whole ‘nother tray when I dumped them in my bag,” Yoongi continues, giving Hoseok’s hand a little pinch. “You’re terrible and – “ He yawns, eyes growing heavy from both the drink and the tiring day. “- this is it for tonight,”

He pushes himself off the swing and with a grace Hoseok didn’t expect from a slightly intoxicated Yoongi, saunters off to the park’s pathway. “Good night. Tomorrow I’m going to bake the cookies and drop them on the floor when you walk in.”

Hoseok watches him as he walks away, actually in awe right now.

When Yoongi reaches a street lamp, he turns to look over his shoulder to look at Hoseok. Min Yoongi doesn’t exactly smile at him but his mouth twitches and for now, Hoseok will count it as a smile and this whole night as a small victory.

He watches Yoongi’s retreating figure and allows his heart to go on beating like it’s just ran a ten kilometre race. Hoseok closes his eyes and swears that he hears his soul humming from inside of him.

-----

True to his word, the second Hoseok stepped into the café the next day, Min Yoongi fakes a cough and drops the whole damn tray of cookies right in front of him. Jeongguk stares at the pile of cookies on the floor and immediately looks at Hoseok in apology like, Okay, so apparently he still hates you.

“Bastard,” Hoseok says, looking at the casualties scattered on the floor.

“Oh, well, accidents happen,” Yoongi says in a tone of voice that sounded like what he just did was anything but an accident. “Maybe tomorrow, Hoseok.”

Hoseok gives up on the cookies for the mean time and sets out to think of ways to try and earn Yoongi’s trust again. Or at least appease his anger just the slightest bit because, honestly, four lifetimes has been too long for Hoseok and he just misses the idiot already, point blank.

Come the next morning, Hoseok is the one to greet Yoongi in front of the café, coffee in one hand and a pretzel in another. He hands it to Yoongi without saying a word, just offers a smile in greeting. Yoongi takes the coffee with furrowed brows and Hoseok takes that look as a thank you.

He follows Yoongi into the kitchen, humming to himself as he bites into the pretzel. Yoongi looks absolutely confused but not exactly annoyed so Hoseok just indulges himself in how smoothly the morning is going and stations himself beside Yoongi who’s taking out mixing bowls and trays, getting ready to start baking.

“Can I help?” Hoseok asks, staring at Yoongi. Yoongi’s caught off guard at the close proximity and at how intensely Hoseok is staring that he stumbles a few steps back, eyes narrowing at Hoseok suspiciously. “Please please please please, I’ll listen and not fuck anything up.”

Hoseok is staring at Yoongi with his eyes going as wide as they could get, lower lip pushed out into a pout.

Finally, Yoongi gives in with a sigh and a shake of his head, “Fine, whatever. I don’t know what you’re up to – “

“Oh, that’s simple. I’m trying to find ways to apologise and tell you how much I actually really need you right now,” Hoseok is unabashed and cheeky when he says it; grin on full force as he watches Yoongi’s cheeks flush the faintest pink. He feels a whole lot satisfied at the reaction he’d just gotten. “Also, you can teach me how to bake the vanilla chocolate chip cookies,”

Yoongi musters up a reply, mouth open to tell Hoseok that he can go make the cookies himself outside and far away from him but instead of telling the boy to get lost, Yoongi just ends up saying, in a very tired voice, “Alright, alright, whatever you want.” He’s a little bit flustered, inwardly berating himself and cursing his complexion for how easily he blushes and how obvious it is when he does.

Hoseok, on the other hand, is more than pleased with himself as he follows what Yoongi’s doing, taking out a bag of flour and setting it aside. Yoongi slides a tray of eggs in his direction and just tells him to crack at least a dozen of them and if he could please not get any of the shells mixed in with the batter than that’d be great, too, thanks. Hoseok does as he’s told, singing a little tune under his breath as he follows Yoongi and works beside him.

The first batch of cookies are in the oven now and Hoseok, who’d spent the last twenty or so minutes in complete silence save the humming and singing, finally turns to Yoongi who’s got a smudge of flour and cookie dough on his cheeks. He looks softer like this, Hoseok thinks, and again he asks himself how it had took him a week longer to figure out just who Yoongi was. Because the more time he spends with the boy, the more the connection between them strengthens. He wakes up every morning with Yoongi’s face in his mind and his need to be with him much more intense than the day before.

“So,” Hoseok starts.

Yoongi groans, “And here I thought you were going to be quiet the whole time,”

A huff from Hoseok and Yoongi actually smirks, “Okay, what do you want this time?”

“Can I ask you stuff?” Hoseok says, rounding the counter so he’s standing opposite of Yoongi. Every chance he gets with him, he wants to be able to really see him. Do soulmates skip the crush and being smitten with each other phase and just dive head first into crazy love or something? Hoseok wonders what kind of phase they’re on right now because it sure as hell isn’t looking anywhere close to all the romance books he’s read.

The only reply he gets is a dismissive wave of Yoongi’s hand, like even if he said no Hoseok would still push on. He’s right, of course.

“I know I’m a real dick and all – even if it wasn’t my fault – but I really am sorry,” Hoseok starts, his voice taking on a more serious tone. The grin on his face is replaced with a slight smile, looking absolutely open and contented just being able to talk to Yoongi like this. “How was it? I don’t mean being alone, because I’m sure it sucked not having me around,” He tries to joke only to get a scowl from Yoongi. “What I’m trying to say is I’m curious about who you were in all the lives I’ve missed,”

Yoongi is stunned into a deeper silence, his eyes completely fixed on Hoseok’s face. He blinks slowly, the gears in his head spinning as he tries to think, tries to remember everything that he was and how he was in the time that Hoseok wasn’t around.

“I was born into English aristocracy the first time,” Yoongi says it with a completely straight face and he hasn’t got a reason to lie so Hoseok accepts it – he’s floored, but he accepts it as the truth and urges him to continue. “Those corsets are from the deepest pits of hell and I’m relieved women these days don’t wear them anymore. Fucking death traps,”

“We’re you pretty?” Hoseok asks, his smile brightening.

Yoongi rolls his eyes like it’s the dumbest question ever, “Of course I was fucking pretty, you idiot. I was practically royalty and had dozens of men courting me,”

Hoseok had never thought about Yoongi getting romantically involved with other individuals that wasn’t him. Hoseok can’t even imagine himself holding somebody else’s hand right now, much less doing anything intimate with anyone else but Yoongi.

The look on his face is obvious that Yoongi catches on to it quick, his scowl dropping. “I waited for you,” he says, drawing out his words slowly. “I died an old hag, you asshole.”

Oh?

“I’m sorry,” Hoseok mumbles, and he truly does feel sorry. He feels heavy with the realisation that he’d left Yoongi all alone for so many years, probably wondering each day when he’d find him, if he’d find him. What kind of living hell was that?

Yoongi has a faraway look in his eyes but snaps out of it when he notices the change in Hoseok’s expression, “Hey,” He starts, voice coming out much softer, gentler, even. “You completely missed out the second time. I was a French painter,”

“Were you hot?” Hoseok does ask the most important questions.

In his attempt to lift Hoseok’s mood even in the slightest bit, Yoongi answers as only Min Yoongi would – with a scoff and raised eyebrows, “Don’t be stupid, of course I was.”

Hoseok wants to tell him that he still is – probably will be, no matter what kind of life he’d be reborn into.

“So did you spend it – like, alone?” Hoseok is sure that knowing won’t make him feel any better. He’s starting to feel like complete shit now. When you realise that you’ve let down your soulmate, the one person your soul was inexplicably and undeniably linked to, then you would feel more than just a little bit sad.

Yoongi looks at his hands, white from the flour, and then back at Hoseok, looking straight into his eyes. “The first two times, yeah. I had a few lovers the second time. Come the third, I was reborn into a sick body. I didn’t make it very long but I held out for a couple more years, trying to wait for you. Thinking how terrible it would be for me to die before you found me,” Yoongi gets a bitter little look on his face, recounting that particular memory. Hoseok feels like his heart might just tear apart at the seams listening to him. “The fourth time I started to get angry at you. I married some woman out of spite, thinking it’d all work out. I mean, she was nice and all, but,” he pauses, his face falling, like he thinks that he’s saying too much.

Hoseok leans across the counter to grab at his hand, giving it a gentle tug. “But what?”

This is the first time Yoongi has divulged so much of his past that even if it hurts the both of them, probably opens up more scars for Yoongi, Hoseok is still determined to listen.

Yoongi looks at their interlocked fingers, feels warm at Hoseok’s touch. “But it didn’t feel right.” He gives Hoseok’s hands a little squeeze and Hoseok’s heart skips a beat at that, in awe of Yoongi’s effect on him.

“Does this – does this feel right to you?” Because god fucking damn it, holding Yoongi’s hand feels like Hoseok’s finally been shown the secrets to the universe. It feels more than right, it feels like that’s how things should be. It’s amazing the things you discover and the emotions you feel just holding the right person’s hand.

He’s met with eyes that are wide and incredulous, Yoongi’s whole expression vulnerable. “Yeah,” Yoongi says, voice breathy. He closes his eyes and just holds onto Hoseok’s hand, allowing himself for the first time the crazy indulgence of giving in, of not being difficult. He’s waited four lifetimes for this so of course it’s going to feel incredible.

Hoseok doesn’t know how much time passes with just the two of them holding each other’s hands, but he knows that he could spend his whole life like this, just the two of them. Their little piece of wonderland is broken when the oven timer rings and the doors to the kitchen burst open, Jeongguk waltzing in, already talking before he even notices the situation.

Jeongguk stares at the two of them, eyes instantly going wide as he processes the situation. Hoseok and Yoongi are holding hands and not hurling curses at one another. “Is this – is this a dream? Or am I high?”

Yoongi drops Hoseok’s hand at that and sighs, “No, but you’re still an idiot.”

“What’s happening?” Jeongguk knows how to be annoying and pushy when he wants to be and right now he wants to be annoying and pushy. He walks over to Yoongi, his normally wide eyes narrowing as he tries to piece it all together. There’s a few seconds of complete silence where Hoseok and Yoongi are both just staring at Jeongguk who looks deep in thought and struggling with the inner workings of his mind. He looks like he’s about to hurt himself by thinking too hard. After a minute or so passes, Jeongguk just shakes his head. “I got nothing. I wish it was Seokjin-hyung who’d seen this, he would’ve explained things to me.”

Hoseok and Yoongi stare at each other, both astounded by how clueless Jeongguk is.

“Jeongguk, go sweep the floor.” Yoongi finally says, resigned now to whatever kind of speculation Jeongguk might draw up if he manages to strain his brain that much more.

Jeongguk gives the two of them one last meaningful look before he grabs the broom and exits the kitchen, muttering about what the two of them holding hands could possibly mean.

Hoseok lets out a breath he wasn’t aware he was holding and looks at Yoongi who merely shrugs. “Oh, your cookies are done.”

And all thought of Jeongguk possibly complicating things is pushed back to the farthest part of his mind as he runs to the oven and, no oven gloves and all, grabs the piping hot tray. “Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck,” Hoseok curses, dropping the tray on the counter and stumbling back, looking at his hands that are starting to grow red.

Yoongi is beside him, looking completely horrified. “Holy shit,” is all he says as he stares from Hoseok’s hands to his face, not knowing what to do.

Hoseok has tears in his eyes and he tries to push them back, doesn’t want to cry over how he’s possibly just given himself a first degree burn from being so stupid. Yoongi’s only idea is to run some cold water on the burnt area but grabbing Hoseok’s hands was moronic of him because now Hoseok is screaming and cussing him out – wow, it feels oddly pleasant being the one to cuss at Yoongi.

“This is your fucking fault, don’t blame me when you’re the idiot,” Yoongi’s voice is loud, practically close to rivalling Hoseok’s screams of profanity and “it hurts it hurts it hurts”.

But Yoongi manages to guide Hoseok to the sink and runs cold water on his hands, Hoseok whimpering softly as he tries his hardest not to tear up anymore. When he calms down, Yoongi gives his cheek a little pinch and says, “Brave, stupid little Hoseok,” and with tears glistening in Hoseok’s eyes and his hands still a little bit red (and a whole lot of hurt), Yoongi smiles. Full on, actual smile that makes Hoseok forget about the pain for at least three seconds just so he could pause his sniffling and smile back at him.  

“Does this mean you’ll feed me? Hoseok sniffles, looking at Yoongi who’s tempted to give Hoseok’s hands a rough squeeze at being so damn cheeky right after he’d just caused a minor accident for himself.

“Shut the fuck up,” Yoongi says, but he doesn’t sound the least bit annoyed now and the smile on his face looks almost fond.

Hoseok’s soul starts to sing and in the background, Yoongi’s soul sways with the rhythm.

-----

Operation “Win Back Yoongi’s heart or at least appease his anger” is starting to go a little bit smoother. Hoseok actually gets a cringe-like smile whenever he runs into Yoongi in the shop now as opposed to the usual glare. And whenever he texts, Yoongi replies. Well, he texts Yoongi every waking moment and sometimes they get really bizarre and absurd, though most of the time they’re just about random occurrences in his day. Yoongi’s replies are a variation of the following: “Why would I care about this?”, “Shame that bus didn’t run you over ^^”, “Stop flooding my inbox, I will report you.”, “One more text and I’ll block you on KKT.”, and “Don’t you have other friends to annoy?!”

But Hoseok’s personal favourites that have actually become a part of his days are the good morning and good night messages that Yoongi never seems to forget to send him, no matter how late it gets or how tired he is.

Hoseok is grinning down on his phone as he checks his phone, sure enough a text from Yoongi already opened. He rolls out of bed and notes that the clouds are looking a dark grey this early in the morning, so just to be safe, he grabs an umbrella and sets off for the day, stopping by to grab a pretzel before he makes his way to the café.

He hears thunder clapping just overhead and he shudders, hands rubbing at either side of his arms as he hurries his pace.

“Fuck,” Hoseok curses, feeling the first drops of rain. He runs the remaining one block, his umbrella opened but completely useless as the rain falls mercilessly upon him and everybody else out on the streets on. He bursts into the café and jumps when he hears lightning crack. It sounded way too close that Hoseok is actually starting to get a little bit worried now, bad weather and all.

“Yoongi?” Hoseok calls, scanning the café. It’s empty except for a few of Yoongi’s books scattered on the counter. He makes his way into the kitchen to find Yoongi just a few steps away from him. The windows are wide and the curtains drawn back so when lightning struck somewhere behind Yoongi, and the whole shop shook with the clapping of thunder, Yoongi shudders.

Hoseok is soaking wet and if it were any normal day he would’ve laughed the whole thing off and Yoongi would be calling him an idiot for running in the rain and not finding shelter but there’s a lightning storm currently taking place, each loud clap of thunder making Yoongi visibly more agitated.

Yoongi stands farthest from the windows, arms crossed tightly across his chest. Again, the shop is shaken by a crack of thunder somewhere near them and Yoongi is actually trembling, his nails digging into his skin as he tries to stop his hands from shaking.

Hoseok takes the few steps to cross to where Yoongi is and pulls his hands into his, gripping them tightly. He takes a deep breath, marvels at how warmer (and drier, too) Yoongi’s hands were but how they were also shaking, the boy clearly afraid of the lightning and thunder. “Hey, Yoongi,” Hoseok says, applying pressure on Yoongi’s hands in an attempt to relax him.

“Sorry, I just remembered I’m soaked, let me just wipe myself off,” Hoseok makes to drop Yoongi’s hands but Yoongi’s fingers clasp onto his wrists tightly, pulling him back. It thunders again and Yoongi, instinctively, digs his nails into the inside of Hoseok’s wrist. Hoseok bares with it, biting his lip as he looks at Yoongi, gaze never wavering. They lock gazes and Hoseok is determined to hold it, to try to find a calmer ground for Yoongi.

Rain falls heavily on the roof and the sky is completely dark now. Yoongi is gripping Hoseok’s wrists tightly and with every thunder and lightning, Yoongi’s breath becomes less ragged, his hands not shaking as much anymore. Hoseok carefully pries Yoongi’s fingers off of his wrists so he can hold his hands properly, their fingers laced.

Finally, after the rain lets up but doesn’t completely stop, Yoongi lets out a long and heavy sigh of relief. He doesn’t avert his gaze, though, and for a moment they both look at each other like that, their hands held. It feels oddly reminiscent of the first time they’d held hands in the very same kitchen, except this time, there’s no Jeongguk to disrupt the moment.

“You okay now?” Hoseok asks, voice soft and low.

Yoongi looks surprised at himself but he nods, “Yeah,”

Hoseok really wants to give him a hug right now but his clothes are still damp and he doesn’t think Yoongi will appreciate such a wet hug, so he settles for just holding his hands.

“I was really worried,” Hoseok continues in the same soft tone, smiling a little bit. “You looked catatonic.”

“Did I?” Yoongi mumbles, “Was I?” His cheeks are flushed and he feels embarrassed. At his age and he was still afraid of thunder storms?

“I don’t know, you tell me,” Hoseok turns their clasped hands over so Yoongi can get a look of the damage he’d caused to Hoseok’s wrists. He left clear fingernail-dent marks that were starting to look a little bit purple. It’s going to bruise, Hoseok thinks, but finds that he doesn’t really mind.

Yoongi actually draws back at the sight, “Oh, shit, Hoseok,” He pulls his hand out of Hoseok’s hold so he can run his fingers gently over the marks, eyes wide and mouth hanging slightly open, “Wow, I’m sorry.”

A short but genuine laugh escapes Hoseok and he shakes his head, “No, it’s alright. It’s okay, don’t worry about it.”

Yoongi still looks a little bit apprehensive and he opens his mouth to probably say that it wasn’t fine and that, god, Hoseok, you’re an idiot, just tell me it hurts already, but he’s cut off even before he starts to say anything when the whole café is filled with the sound of lightning cracking.

He looks so scared and it’s completely natural and Hoseok sure as hell isn’t finding it funny – maybe a little bit cute, but definitely not funny – so he does the only thing he thinks will calm Yoongi down and hugs him. Yoongi doesn’t protest Hoseok’s damp clothes and allows himself to  be drawn into the hug, his arms going around Hoseok. With every clap of thunder and crack of lightning his fingers clasp tighter on Hoseok’s shirt, face buried in his shoulder.

Hoseok grips just as tightly to Yoongi and for a second he notices how his nerves are on fire at their close contact and, god, his heart might have completely stopped beating from the shock, but he doesn’t say anything, just holds the other boy throughout the thunder storm.

The rain finally stops to a drizzle but they don’t let go, just stay completely still. Hoseok revels in the wonder of how beautiful it is to hold the most important person in the world while Yoongi realises, like a train’s just hit him at full speed, how much he’s missed Hoseok.

“Hoseok,” Yoongi is so close to him, his hair tickling his face and his voice just beneath his ear, “I really missed you,” He continues, and if it were any more possible, Yoongi tightens his grip on Hoseok and breathes out heavily.

Hoseok’s eyes are closed and for a brief moment he wonders if Yoongi feels his heart beating. They’re both pressed together so tightly that it’s not completely impossible. His pulse is racing and his head feels light but Yoongi feels sure in his arms and he feels absolutely right, like no one else would fit him. It’s as if his arms were crafted just to house Yoongi, his heart beating just so it could love him.

The world had never felt right before he’d found Yoongi and again he’s struck by the terrible realisation of how Yoongi had suffered through four lifetimes alone. His eyes are shut tight as he tries to prevent the tears because the last thing he needs right now is to start crying. But he feels immensely for the boy in his arms and is still extremely burdened by something that wasn’t in his control.

“I’ll make it up to you,” Hoseok finally says, his eyes fluttering open. He draws back a bit so he can look at Yoongi. “I know how hard it was for you. I mean – I can’t even imagine what it would be like without you for this life and you had to live through four,” He smiles at him, his hands running soothing circles down Yoongi’s back. “I promise I’m not going anywhere this time.”

Yoongi accepts that with a solemn nod, face extremely serious. “You better, or else in the next life I’m going to murder you myself.”

Hoseok lets out a nervous laugh, his hold around Yoongi loosening a little bit. “You’re fucking difficult,” He says with an incredulous shake of his head and a look on his face that clearly says that he doesn’t mind at all, and that little piece of shit that Min Yoongi is, he’s Hoseok’s problem now, not anyone else’s.

“I have a right to be,” Yoongi says, fingers pinching Hoseok’s back a little bit too harshly.

“Ow – that actually hurt,” Hoseok attempts to pinch him back for that but his hands grow weak when Yoongi chooses that exact second to graze his lips just against his, eyes hooded now as he looks up at Hoseok through his lashes. Hoseok’s breath hitches at how close they are and at how he can almost, almost taste him. Yoongi smirks, looking utterly sinful, and takes a step back, teasing.

But Hoseok’s hold on him tightens again and he pulls him even closer, grinning down at the devil himself before he kisses him. Yoongi’s smirk is completely wiped off of his face and is replaced with a smile and the first few seconds into the kiss is awkward because they’re smiling too much and their teeth keep clicking. They finally settle down to do it properly and Hoseok swears that this, this is exactly what heaven tastes like. Yoongi’s lips are warm and soft – absolutely perfect. Halfway into the kiss, Hoseok laughs, breaking away from Yoongi who looks up at him with a smile so warm and bright it could keep him toasty during the winter.

“God, I don’t know if it’s too soon because we’ve literally just met – “ Hoseok says with a grin, “But I hope I don’t scare you away when I say I’m kind of in love with you.”

He’s met with a raised eyebrow and a sneer, “Only kind of?”

“Okay, immensely in love with you,” Hoseok corrects himself, a thumb pressed into Yoongi’s cheek. “And you can torture me like the difficult little shit that you are and not say it back until you make me miserable first,”

Hoseok gets another pinch for that petulant little remark, and, looking like the idea doesn’t sound too bad, Yoongi says, “If you insist.”

“Alright, don’t be too excited, Satan.” Hoseok barks out a little laugh when he catches Yoongi’s expression – not at all pleased, no thanks to that comment – and presses a kiss to his forehead, both his hands now on either side of Yoongi’s face, thumbs pressing gently into his cheek.

Min Yoongi might be the living definition of the devil and Hoseok might just be a sinner but, god damn, the boy tastes like heaven.

They don’t know how much time has passed and they certainly don’t hear the café’s doors opening but they’re aware now of somebody else walking into the kitchen. Someone clears their throat in an attempt to get their attention. When they don’t, Jeon Jeongguk cusses.

Yoongi looks over Hoseok’s shoulder to glare at him.

“Don’t fucking curse, you’re ruining the mood,” Hoseok says, not bothering to look at him the same time Yoongi blurts out, “Did you just curse at me?”

“Hyung,” Jeongguk says, both arms raised in surrender. “I-“ He looks at the two of them still standing so close together, Yoongi’s arms wrapped around Hosoek’s waist in a hug and at Hoseok who’s too absorbed staring at Yoongi who’s pissed off at someone else that wasn’t him for a change. “- Please don’t fire me, I need money so I can feed my dog.” Jeongguk rubs his hands together, pleading Yoongi for his life now.

Yoongi motions for him to get the fuck out before he changes his mind and Jeongguk scampers out of the kitchen in a flash. They hear a loud thump just as the kitchen doors swing close and assume Jeongguk’s ran into the counter. “Had it coming,”

The whole time Hoseok hasn’t looked away from Yoongi’s face once, his hands still framing his face, just allowing himself the feel of finally getting to touch him. He can practically see the puzzle pieces fitting together to create this one picture right now.

“You’re staring too much. It’s creepy,”

“Oh, sorry, let me just rip my eyes out, that’s the only way to get me to stop.” Hoseok counters, sounding playful.

“That makes me want to gag. Do you hear yourself?” Yoongi looks completely harassed now as he drops his hold around Hoseok. “Please don’t make me change my mind,”

Hoseok barks out that all too familiar laugh again that instantly brightens up the room, “I’m sorry, can I kiss you again, please?”

Yoongi doesn’t answer him, instead he pulls him by the collar of his – still quite damp – shirt and practically crashes their lips together in a bruising kiss, Yoongi biting down on Hoseok’s lip so hard that Hoseok emerges from the kiss looking like he’d just been stung by a bee with how swollen his lips are.

He touches his bottom lip with a finger, cautious, and looks at Yoongi with a raised eyebrow, “Slow down, Satan. We’ve got time,”

Choosing that as an appropriate moment to interrupt, Jeongguk steps back into the kitchen, his eyes not meeting any of their gazes, his cheeks a little bit pink and his neck flushed. “Um, nice to know you’ve got a lot of time but the café opens in thirty minutes and there aren’t any cookies, but – “ He catches the look on Yoongi’s face and takes a tentative step back, “But I can just hang the ‘close’ sign and not bother you for the rest of the day.”

But Yoongi shuts that idea down and points to one of the tables where a few of the ingredients have already been laid out. Yoongi had probably gotten ready to start baking before the thunder storm started. Jeongguk moves to the table and grabs a mixing bowl.

“Vanilla chocolate chip cookies?” Hoseok says, bouncing on the balls of his feet, his eyes following Yoongi as the other boy rounds the room to gather other needed ingredients.

“Okay,” Yoongi says, for once not being difficult. “And wear gloves when you take hot pans out of the oven, please. This business can’t afford two idiots,” He looks at Jeongguk who’s whisking the eggs in top speed, definitely avoiding looking at them.

Hoseok shoots him a grin and starts on the first batch of cookies – his cookies. He’s going to eat that whole damn tray and no one’s going to stop him. – humming under his breath. He chances a glance at Yoongi who’s got flour in his hair again and a smear of chocolate on his cheek. He moves over to his side and is met with a glare.

“Bake your damned cookies if you want them so bad,” Yoongi says, pouring the first batch of batter on the pan.

Hoseok gives him a grin but not before he brushes his fingers lightly against Yoongi’s cheek, thumb swiping at the smudge of chocolate. He brings it to his mouth – it’s still swollen and red from Yoongi being anything but gentle – and licks his thumb clean of the chocolate, staring at Yoongi the whole time. Yoongi’s face reddens and he looks away, focusing on getting these god damned cookies done on time. Hoseok only laughs at his reaction, pleased with himself.

Who says you couldn’t have your cookie and eat it, too?

“You look really cute like that,” Hoseok says, gesturing to just how, in a span of fifteen minutes, Yoongi’s been covered in flour and looking like a complete mess, chocolate and caramel smeared on his cheeks.

Jeongguk, on the other end of the room, hiccups, his face, if it were any more possible, reddening even more. “Don’t mind me,” Jeongguk says into the cookie dough, “I’m not even in the room at all.”

There’s a shake of the head from Yoongi, his hand coming to cover his mouth as he laughs, amused now. Hoseok gets a kick out of it and moves over to Jeongguk’s side, one arm thrown around his shoulders. Jeongguk jumps at the contact and the both of them laugh even harder over how flustered the younger boy is.

Their eyes meet mid-laugh and they both feel it then, that intense connection that sparks a fire deep within their souls. 

Yoongi smiles, all soft, gentle and bright and Hoseok returns it with a cheeky grin, eyebrows wiggling suggestively.

“What an idiot,” Yoongi can’t look away from Hoseok when he’s looking so endearing and heaven be damned if Yoongi isn’t so fucking fond of him now.

And, honestly, he might be difficult, but Hoseok won’t have Min Yoongi any different, not in this life or their next.