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why don't you figure (my heart) out

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The thing about orgasms that Hoseok hates the most is that they tend to leave him feeling like he's melting into the furniture, boneless. For a guy in the dance department, flexibility's one thing, but the complete lack of control over his sluggish movements is a bigger pain in the ass than it's worth.

"I can't believe this," says Hoseok. When he gets no response, he reaches out to blindly bat at air until he smacks at something that sounds suspiciously like an ass cheek, and his bedmate grunts, displeased. "I said, I can't—"

"I heard you the first time," says Namjoon, irritably, from beside him. On a different day, Hoseok would scrabble around for a can of deodorant and spray at Namjoon's face in revenge, but he's too busy trying not to become one with the mattress to do more than crane his neck as Namjoon raises his head from Hoseok's pillow long enough to squint at him. "Believe what?"

"You just fucked my brain out of my ears," says Hoseok. He blinks at the ceiling. If he strains his ears, maybe he can hear the brain cells in charge of his motor skills crying in the distance. "Congratulations, I think you broke me."

Namjoon rolls his eyes, and tucks his face back into the pillow. Hoseok thinks of telling him that he may or may not have been rutting against it in frustration yesterday, but then Namjoon would probably scream and whack him with it repeatedly until he breaks something else, like Hoseok's dick. Hoseok's not taking any chances, not after last time.

"Whatever, drama queen," says Namjoon. He wrinkles his nose, and peels his face away from Hoseok's pillow. "This smells funny."

"You smell funny," says Hoseok, spitefully. He flexes his fingers experimentally, before curling it into a fist and punching Namjoon's shoulder. "More importantly, I can't feel my ass anymore."

Namjoon opens his mouth, but Hoseok beats him to it by covering his face with his palm. Because Namjoon is an actual child in a young adult's body, he licks at Hoseok's hand until Hoseok pulls away, disgusted.

"I'm fucking you next time," says Hoseok.

"Even better," says Namjoon. He stretches lazily in place, and wrinkles his nose. "You're a really bossy person in bed, you know."

"I'm discerning," says Hoseok. "There's a difference."

"Right," says Namjoon. "Like it even matters when you're balls deep."

"Why am I sleeping with you again," Hoseok wonders out loud.

Namjoon pushes himself up on his forearms, and gives Hoseok a long, considering look that makes Hoseok's stomach clench and his toes curl. "I could say the same for you," he drawls, and Hoseok shoves a pillow to his face in response.

If it were Jimin or Taehyung, they'd be quick to give back as good as they get, maybe even try to pretend-suffocate Hoseok with a pillow before offering him another blowjob or two for the road, but this is Namjoon, who's more alike Yoongi than he realizes. Within minutes, Namjoon is already dead to the world, snoring, and Hoseok gingerly crawls out of bed and into the shower because he's never been one for sweaty cuddling, eugh.

He doesn't bother to do more than dunk his head under the shower and half-assedly dump handfuls of body wash on his skin — as much as Namjoon keeps complaining to everyone that'll listen how much of a neat freak Hoseok is, he's really, really not as bad as Namjoon makes him out to be. It's just that in comparison to Namjoon, Hoseok is borderline OCD. Possibly also a raging histrionic. Namjoon should be grateful Hoseok's stuck around him for so long, really.

Namjoon's still asleep by the time Hoseok emerges from the shower, and Hoseok swats him awake and herds him to the bathroom because showing up for his next class in half an hour without even brushing his teeth and cleaning out his ears is disgusting and a bad habit Namjoon's mom had expressly commandeered Hoseok into checking. It's not that Namjoon's mom scares Hoseok or anything, but if their mutual interests happen to coincide, then Hoseok's not gonna say no to having free rein over Namjoon's life and using his mother as a threat to coerce him into doing his bidding.

He doesn't wait for Namjoon to finish taking a bath, because Hoseok's not Namjoon's boyfriend or, god forbid, his manservant, and they don't do the whole going-to-class-together thing that Jimin keeps dragging Taehyung and Jungkook into like elementary school kids, and anyway, Hoseok's class is on the completely opposite side of the campus. It would just be a complete waste of time to wait, especially if he's not getting paid for it.

Still, it doesn't stop Namjoon from poking his head out of the bathroom when Hoseok's tugging on his sneakers and tying up his shoelaces. Soap suds are still caking around his collarbones, and Hoseok pointedly does not. Look. Down.

"Can you get some instant noodles on the way home?" Namjoon asks, voice garbled from the toothbrush in his mouth.

Hoseok contends with a brief, irrational moment of irritation, before he purses his lips and straightens his back, gym bag slung over his shoulder. Namjoon blinks at him and continues brushing his teeth, a spot of toothpaste stuck to the corner of his mouth that makes Hoseok's fingers twitch at his side, if only because he wants to reach over and wipe it away with his thumb.

"Get it yourself!" Hoseok yells back, and shuts the door without locking it on the way out.

 

 

Namjoon's been Hoseok's roommate since the second semester of first year, when Namjoon's old one had bailed to go off to 'find himself' in a backpacking trip around Europe and Hoseok too exhausted with his daily commute to even bother putting up the pretense of sticking out one more semester of going back and forth to his aunt's place right in the outskirts of Seoul. Namjoon had been a friend of a friend of a friend, and while it didn't exactly endear him on first sight to Hoseok, at least he could blame other people if Namjoon had ended up as a crazy serial killer or a druggie that would pimp Hoseok's body out to the highest bidder for a quick fix, right?

("Your paranoia is scary," Seokjin had said, when Hoseok had voiced the thought aloud. Hoseok learned to quickly shut his mouth up after that.)

When he really thinks about it, it had been a painless process, moving in with Namjoon. He hadn't been as strict as Hoseok's other friends, who would rather put potential roommates under a grueling interview dissecting all the reasons they would never work out, like they were in some godforsaken dating game instead of a perfectly normal business arrangement involving real estate. All Namjoon had asked was if he could clean, cook and wake up at the drop of a hat, and Hoseok, in his confusion, had just nodded and let himself be fooled into signing the contract then and there.

In retrospect, it's a bad idea, considering that Namjoon pretty much treats him like a glorified slave, a replacement goldfish for his mother, or worse, his marriage partner. Hoseok's not too big a fan of obsessively cleaning, but he's not a filthy pig wallowing happily in its own mudpile, and he can (barely) cook a passable meal or two (as if they even have space), but the last requirement is a bit suspect. It's only when he wakes up to the sound of the fire alarm going off after Namjoon's octopus-like string of plugs and extension cords short-circuits that he realizes that maybe Namjoon's old roommate hadn't chosen traveling to search for his soul — he'd been out to save it.

Namjoon's a fire hazard, and an unrepentant one at that. Part of Hoseok feels reassured that Namjoon's not intentionally out to be an arsonist, but sometimes he wonders what on earth Namjoon would be doing with his life if Hoseok weren't around to douse the flames.

"Probably dead," says Yoongi, ominously, as he picks up a piece of fried squid from his dinner. He looks at the oil dripping out of the batter, and promptly dumps it onto Seokjin's plate instead. "Wait, no. Definitely dead."

"Eat your food, Yoongi," Seokjin chides, but pops the squid into his mouth anyway. He makes a soft, humming sound under his breath, pleased. "And if we're going to go into reasons why our roommates suck, I hope you're not thinking about throwing me under a bus just yet."

"Not while you're in earshot," Yoongi mutters, and Seokjin kicks him under the table, half-smile still pasted on his face. Yoongi doesn't even blink.

"Aren't we supposed to be talking about my problems?" Hoseok complains.

"Yes, because the world revolves around you," says Yoongi, rolling his eyes. Seokjin kicks him again, harder this time. "Ow."

"Ignore Yoongi," says Seokjin. "He hasn't been walked yet."

"Ha, ha, ha," says Yoongi. "And people think you're the nice one."

Hoseok tunes them out for a few minutes, looking down at his bowl of noodles. They're some Vietnamese brand, instant pho he'd gotten from the store on his way from his social science elective to Seokjin and Yoongi's shared flat fifteen minutes away from the campus grounds; in his gym bag is a couple of packs of it for Namjoon, who probably wouldn't even remember to pay him back. Bastard.

It's not until he's picking at his food that he realizes that it's gotten quiet, and he looks up. "What?" He asks. "Were you saying something?"

Yoongi opens his mouth, but Seokjin stuffs a piece of celery into it and nudges his chin to make him chew. "You have a weird look on your face," says Seokjin, to Hoseok. "What were you thinking about?"

"Like you even have to ask," says Yoongi, scornful even as he swallows down his vegetables. "There are only two times Hoseok makes those stupid glazed-over cow eyes, and only one of them involves Namjoon."

"I don't have cow eyes," Hoseok protests, before he can correct Yoongi on the number. Not that Yoongi even needs to know what he looks like when he's fucked out and riding an orgasmic high, nope. Yoongi would never let him into the apartment if he does. "Really, I don't."

"It's cute that you think that," Seokjin coos, "but you look so happy when you start thinking about Namjoon."

"Who says I was even thinking about Namjoon," says Hoseok. Seokjin and Yoongi just stare at him. "Okay, so maybe I was thinking about him, but not in that gross, sappy way you two are thinking about, and only because I'm fantasizing about murdering him in his sleep or ratting him out on his mother." Both of them are equally enticing options.

"His mom freaks you out," says Yoongi, dryly.

"You would cry if he died," says Seokjin.

"To be fair, Hoseok cries at everything," Yoongi points out.

"Right now, I'm crying inside," says Hoseok, mournfully poking at his noodles. They're soggy now. Damn it. "Bucket loads of it, enough to flood your apartment and kill all of you in your sleep."

"See, this is why Jungkook keeps insisting you're a depressing person sometimes," Yoongi starts, just as Seokjin pipes up with a vaguely insulting noise of agreement. "You should talk to Namjoon about keeping you happy. These domestic problems are a pain in the ass to deal with."

"If you want, I know a really good therapist for couples' counselling," says Seokjin. Hoseok drops his chopsticks onto the table, appetite dead and gone.

"What," he squeaks. "Why would we even go there?"

"You're right," Seokjin mulls. "I forgot you two were still 'friends with benefits'." He makes air quotes with his fingers, and Hoseok wonders if it's not just his appetite that's dead inside, but also his heart. "Are you sure you two aren't dating yet?"

"When did insulting my roommate turn into indulging into a delusional fantasy?" Hoseok wonders. Yoongi's right, it's Seokjin that's the dangerous one. No wonder Yoongi's so twisted. "And no, eugh, give me a little more credit than that. I like to think of myself as having taste."

"Denial's never a healthy option, Hoseok-ah," says Seokjin, sagely, and Hoseok gives up talking to people forever.

But only for, like, five minutes tops, because Seokjin makes really good consolation seaweed soup.

 

 

The walk home puts him in a stroppy mood, mostly because he misses the last bus and it starts drizzling halfway through. It's already bad enough that he's had to endure two hours of teasing courtesy of two of the biggest jerkfaces in the world that he calls his friends.

What he wouldn't give to be dating someone with a car right now, he reflects, stomping on a puddle and getting streaks of mud across the hem of his pants. Then he could text them and beg them to pick him up at the bus stop near Seokjin and Yoongi's flat instead of pulling up his big boy pants and braving the weather in his distressed state. He can't even count on his roommate to help him out, because Namjoon's probably too busy going through his readings for tomorrow or fapping off to a porno to even bother to check his phone. Hoseok's luck is seriously the worst, and Namjoon the winner of the Worst Roommate Award since forever.

If Namjoon were watching AVs, though, Hoseok would be so done with him. So done. Save for the times they go home for the weekends or the holidays, Hoseok basically forces him to keep up with his hygiene and provides him sustenance in the form of edible, non-burnt food on a near-daily basis. Hoseok is living with an actual child that shouldn't be trusted to make wise decisions in life, like, say: his porn choices, or anything outside academia. For a moment of genuine feeling, Hoseok manages to muster enough sympathy and pity in his heart for whatever poor soul manages to get stuck with Namjoon in the future, even if the sex is passable.

The thought of it manages to work Hoseok up enough that by the time he unlocks his front door and catches a shirtless Namjoon predictably going through Hoseok's hard drive with a hand down his shorts, Hoseok just thinks, fuck it, before dumping his gym bag on the floor and kicking off his shoes in short order.

"Welcome back," says Namjoon, not even bothering to stop palming his dick. "Did you bring me food?"

"No," Hoseok lies, but thinks better of it and tosses the plastic bag in his other hand to Namjoon. It hits Namjoon's shoulder, and Namjoon wrinkles his nose to pick it up but Hoseok's already clambering over him on the couch, trapping him in place. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Apparently you in a few minutes," Namjoon mutters, and yelps when Hoseok pinches his side. "What, I was just getting some me time!"

"Why don't you ever check your phone?"

Namjoon rummages around under the couch cushion until he finds his cellphone under one of the throw pillows. "Oh," he says, squinting at the screen. "Wait, what makes you think I even have an umbrella to bring with me?"

"I have five of them in my closet," says Hoseok.

"Again, I have no idea why you even think I would know these things," says Namjoon.

Hoseok jabs a finger at his chest, and Namjoon, the wuss, winces. "See, this is why no one's jumping at the chance to date you. You're the most insensitive person ever."

"My creative writing professor would beg to differ."

"Even older people exercise poor judgment on occasion," says Hoseok. "Stop deflecting, you're pissing me off even more! I can't believe you didn't drag your lazy ass out of bed to pick me up."

"My lazy ass was too busy getting acquainted with the couch."

"Didn't you just do that last Sunday?"

"It's a very comfortable couch," says Namjoon, primly. He curls an arm around Hoseok's waist, and the heat of his skin is the only thing that stops Hoseok from getting up to soothe his aching back and makes him come closer, searching. He looks a little too pleased with himself, and the way he strokes Hoseok's arm with his thumb should feel patronizing, but strangely, it doesn't.

"I'm still mad," Hoseok tells him, not at all appeased. Namjoon laughs, throaty and rough, and tugs him forward until Hoseok's nose grazes his cheek.

"So I take it angry sex is on tonight's agenda?" Namjoon teases, because he's an asshole like that.

"Shut up and let me touch your dick," says Hoseok.

Namjoon can't close his mouth fast enough.

 

 

Here's the thing:

It's not that Hoseok really needs to sleep with Namjoon, he really doesn't. It's just that it keeps happening all the damn time. The first few months they'd started living together, though, Hoseok could barely think about Namjoon half-naked without wanting to hurl the contents of his lunch into the throw rug his sister had given him as a housewarming present; he'd thrown more towels at Namjoon than at his own org mates at the dance troupe or any of his gym buddies emerging from the shower with their dicks hanging out combined.

More than Namjoon's disgusting habits, though, Hoseok had thought — still thinks of, on occasion — Namjoon as an abstraction, like some distant object too intangible to understand. As someone who spends more time wearing out shoes and arguing over choreography for practicals, the stack of readings and complicated problem sets scattered all over Namjoon's side of the room kind of intimidated him, and Namjoon's stony-faced silence during hell week barely helped.

Now, though, when he wakes up at six in the morning and squints down at Namjoon's face, open-mouthed and trailing drool all over his pillow, Hoseok wonders why he ever thought of Namjoon as anything but soft, even with his rough edges, or how he'd ever considered Namjoon intimidating by far, not when his snores sound more like a growling puppy. A puppy that hasn't been house trained yet, and Hoseok's the poor bastard that has to deal with all the miserable potty training.

He reaches out to touch the slope of Namjoon's nose, and pinches, hard.

"What was that for," Namjoon grumbles, rubbing his nose and throwing Hoseok a baleful look from his perch on Hoseok's study table. He hasn't let Hoseok come within a foot since the unwelcome wake up call, and now he's sulkily scrolling through 9gag on Hoseok's laptop in indignation.

"I couldn't help it," says Hoseok. "You just make me want to hit you all the time whenever I see your ugly face."

"Kinky," says Namjoon, though his scrunched-up face tells Hoseok exactly how he feels about it. "You should really look into going to therapy for that."

"Speaking of therapy," says Hoseok, rolling his eyes. He rolls to the other side of the bed and bats blindly at the air until his fingers scrabble at the arm rest of Namjoon's chair, "you should have heard what Seokjin-hyung said yesterday. He was being delusional."

Namjoon sniffs, but doesn't kick up a fuss when Hoseok drags his chair closer to the edge of the bed. "When is he never?" He scoffs, letting Hoseok prop his feet over Namjoon's lap. On reflex, he starts rubbing and kneading into the soft skin along Hoseok's ankle, and Hoseok hums under his breath, pleased. "The last time Seokjin-hyung latched onto a crazy idea, Jungkook ended up getting pulled into managing his mokbang account."

"Yeah, but this is different," Hoseok insists. He tips his head back and closes his eyes, as Namjoon works on the balls of his feet. Namjoon always gives the best foot rubs, even if everyone else complains that he doesn't do it hard enough. Hoseok's pretty much a wuss when it comes to inflicting pain on his own person, so Namjoon's the perfect wuss to bully into a free massage. "He asked if I was dating you."

"Who's dating who now?"

"Your mom," says Hoseok. "And me, because clearly I am a catch."

"My mom's dating you?" Namjoon pauses in stroking his calf, and Hoseok makes an unhappy noise at the back of his throat. "Ew. That's gross."

"Your mother loves me."

"My mom is married. And even if she weren't — which she would never — I wouldn't let you be my stepdad. That's super creepy."

"You're right, what was I thinking," says Hoseok, voice grim. "I could never let her know I've had your dick in my mouth."

"Can we please not talk about my mother when you're naked and getting hard?" Namjoon begs, sounding pained. He's laughing, though, and he touches Hoseok's knee, hand solid and warm against his kneecap.

Hoseok likes it when Namjoon laughs. Half the time he sounds like an awkward prepubescent kid when he does, and the rest of the time he just sounds like he's dying. Possibly getting strangled. Still, it makes Hoseok's lips twitch, with some unbridled fondness. He sits up and puts his hand over Namjoon's knuckles, suggestive.

"Maybe if you put those fingers to better use," says Hoseok, before he's clambering over Namjoon and pulling him in for a kiss that he means to come off as light, playful, but soon escalates into a bruising, searing kiss that leaves Hoseok's stomach coiling with want.

"Disgusting," says Namjoon, when they break for air, but he props his fingers atop the dimples of Hoseok's back to hold him closer and does exactly that.

 

 

In truth, Namjoon's not too bad a catch. He's smart, ambitious, and surprisingly reliable with or without motivation, and he's a comparably good dongsaeng even if he tends to be bullish when he doesn't agree with something. As much as Hoseok likes to poke fun at how all of his good parts can't possibly overshadow the bad ones, Namjoon, on paper, is a poster boy of an elite student with a bright future that no sane in-law would reject at first sight.

(At least, until Namjoon manages to do something incredibly stupid when left alone for long periods of time. Like, say, destroy his mother's rose bushes by letting his dumb dog loose and not bothering to supervise because he'd been too distracted sexting Hoseok on the side.)

It's not for lack of offers, either, because Hoseok knows a few underclassmen that tend to eye Namjoon a little too closely when they pass him in the hallways. Hoseok doesn't get jealous of them, because he's not in love with Namjoon or anything, no matter what Seokjin says, but it doesn't stop him from wondering if they'll still be interested if they know more about Namjoon beyond the intimidating image he puts up on campus. If they can even understand his complexities.

There's a contradictory nature to Namjoon that Hoseok learns to just take at face value — responsible enough to take charge of a team of volunteers at that government agency he'd interned in, but not enough to be entrusted with anything under four years of age. Can calculate how many joules of force the act of using a chopping knife given the values of mass and acceleration, but can barely tell which side to use in the face of a tiny onion and a chopping block. Emotionally mature enough to hold his sister's hand when she breaks up with her first boyfriend, but lacking in the sensitivity department when he jokingly tells her it's because she's been eating too much ice cream that she's getting fat. Prone to profound, pensive moments at one in the morning, contemplating the meaning of life and his existence over the pages of a textbook he hasn't really absorbed in over an hour. The coolest loser Hoseok will probably ever meet, if it comes down to his most fundamental parts.

When he fucks into Hoseok, though, Hoseok forgets all about that; he can't think of reasons why Namjoon sucks when the steady pace that Namjoon sets is making Hoseok see spots of white behind his eyelids, the sparks of electricity along his nerves resonating with each burst of light. The gnarled knot in Hoseok's stomach is back, building up into a crescendo of Hoseok's broken, ragged whimpers and Namjoon's own badly-bitten back moans, and his hands fist into the sheets, restless, unappeased.

The first time they had sex, they'd been awkward, fumbling and rutting against each other like hormonal teenagers, but with time and practice, Hoseok's managed to rub off on him enough that his thrusts are almost fluid, calculating, precise. He keeps Hoseok's hips trapped in place, pinning him down with his large, clumsy hands, and Hoseok can shove him away any time but he likes to give Namjoon the illusion that he's in control. At least it's better than the uncontrollable pounding in his ears, yelling at him to just do something.

Namjoon does him one better, and starts jerking him off, disjointed, at first, but eventually matching his thrusts. Namjoon's a dirty, dirty cheater, but the complaint dies in Hoseok's throat, gutted. His skin feels abuzz, afire, and it doesn't take long before his hips stutter when he finally comes.

His eyelids flutter open and close, unseeing. He can feel Namjoon trying to catch his breath, gusts of air making Hoseok shiver. "You're still hard," he points out, when Namjoon pulls out and rearranges their limbs until Namjoon's half-flopping over Hoseok, a sweaty mess that Hoseok doesn't have the heart to shove away, not when his skin is still vibrating with the aftershocks.

"Yeah," says Namjoon, head dipping forward to bury itself in the crook of Hoseok's neck and shoulder; Hoseok turns his cheek to let his mouth hover over Namjoon's skin, panting.

"Want me to use my mouth?" He offers.

Namjoon doesn't even open his eyes. "Mmm," he mutters, like the lazy ass he is, "later,"

Hoseok takes a brief moment to wonder if it's an insult to his skills in bed that Namjoon's more interested in cuddling now than getting his rocks off, but whatever; he huffs, and doesn't say anything when Namjoon tangles their legs together and presses a soft kiss to his jaw, tender.

It's that last bit that makes Hoseok wonder, idly, if he should be more worried that it doesn't bother him at all.

 

 

There's a stifling tension coiling in Hoseok's gut for weeks now, and it doesn't abate at all even with intense dance practices and mindless, sloppy sex when he and Namjoon have the time.

Not that they even have any time left anymore — Namjoon honestly couldn't give him more than a half-assed handjob inside the Faculty-only toilet at the Humanities building in between their overlapping classes at the same floor, and Hoseok hasn't managed to return the favor since Namjoon's midterms started and Hoseok's practicals loomed.

"This is why you don't have a girlfriend," Hoseok mourns, looking at his crotch. Beside him, Jimin peeks up from rubbing the sweat off his face with a towel, and looks confused.

"Who are you talking to?"

"My dick."

The confusion soon morphs into disgust. "I think that's why you don't have a girlfriend, hyung."

"Shove it in my face, why don't you?" He grumbles, and Jimin just looks pleased with himself. Asshole's just too busy being in delulu land with his boyfriend to even let mere mortals like Hoseok languish in the hell of singledom. "At least I'm not alone."

"Yeah, how's your thing with Namjoon-hyung working out for you?" Jimin teases, and Hoseok threateningly opens a water bottle and aims it at his face to get him to shut up. "I'm kidding, sheesh. No wonder Seokjin-hyung said you were touchy about this."

"You don't get to say anything," says Hoseok. "You were his ex."

"I think that gives me plenty of reasons to say a lot," Jimin snorts.

Hoseok rubs his knees, and doesn't say anything for a long, measured moment. It's always surprising and disturbing to Hoseok how Jimin can speak with nonchalance about Namjoon, considering that the day after their relationship ended Jimin had been an inconsolable wreck watching reruns of dramas where the main characters either died from a horrific and bloody accident or wound up never reuniting with their one true love. For the most part, though, Jimin's over it, though it does make Hoseok suspect him a bit whenever he and Namjoon argue over the dumbest things, like unreturned underwear or clothes still in each other's closets. They're kinda weird like that.

When Hoseok thinks about it, really thinks about it, Namjoon hasn't been on a date since that bizarre fling he'd had with Jimin that eventually fizzled off before the first semester of Hoseok and Namjoon's second year even ended. As far as Hoseok can tell, it's not even for lack of a healthy sex life that had driven them apart — god only knew Hoseok had been sexiled from the room for too many damn times that it almost made him feel guilty how relieved he'd been when the two had finally broken up.

If there had even been anything to break, Hoseok's mind supplies. Sex, food, and sleep, the three constants to Namjoon's idea of romance that it was no wonder that Jimin had bailed while he could still quash the flickers of feelings under his foot. Jimin had wanted the whole wine-and-dine, picnics-at-the-park, holding-hands-in-Hongdae shtick that Namjoon just blanched at and Hoseok found mildly disgusting, and Namjoon couldn't give him that, not in the ways other people could.

People like Taehyung, Hoseok guesses, even if Taehyung and Jimin spent as much time arguing over tiny, insignificant things as much as they pretended they weren't making out in the middle of class under the pretense of a bathroom break. Ugh.

"Do you ever wonder why Namjoon hasn't dated anyone after you?" Hoseok blurts out, before he loses the nerve.

Jimin doesn't pause in stretching, and Hoseok doesn't see whatever expression he has on his face as he bends to reach for his toes. "Why would he even," says Jimin, voice uncharacteristically solemn. "I was the best he ever had."

Hoseok doesn't know what kind of face he's making, but Jimin bursts out laughing, at that. He straightens up and sits on the floor, looking far too amused for his own good. "I'm kidding! Seriously, you don't have to be so crushed, hyung."

"I'm not." Really, he's not. For good measure, he repeats it, louder this time. "I'm not."

"Affected, then," says Jimin, rolling his eyes. "Whatever works for you."

"Why am I talking to you again," Hoseok wonders.

"Because I'm the only one who will commiserate with you when it comes to Namjoon-hyung's shit," says Jimin, patting his arm. "And because you're kind of a masochist."

"That doesn't even make sense."

Jimin shoves at him, and Hoseok pushes back; it degenerates into a puppy pile the minute Jungkook and Taehyung catch Hoseok yanks Jimin into a headlock, and Hoseok hates it because the damn brats always, always team up against him.

Face-down and cheek pressed to the hardwood floor of the practice room, Hoseok whimpers. Taehyung is doing a dorky celebratory dance that Jungkook jeers at and Jimin looks at with fond eyes, and whatever complaints Hoseok wants to voice out die in his throat, at that. He can't remember if Jimin's ever looked at Namjoon this way, a long time ago, but Hoseok can't imagine him doing it for anyone else other than Taehyung now.

The thought makes something in him clamp together, suffocating, and he frowns.

On his way out of the practice room, Jimin catches him by the doorway. He gives Hoseok a long, lingering once-over, from his red Converse high-tops to his ratty white t-shirt tucked inside his faded jeans, and smiles.

"For what it's worth, hyung, I don't think Namjoon-hyung needs to date someone to be happy," says Jimin. "He already has you."

 

 

Hoseok tries not to think about it, he really does. He doesn't think about it on his way home from school as he looks at his phone and wonders if he should call Namjoon to bring home pizza on his way home, or when he swings by a convenience store and picks up a fresh pack of breath mints, some deodorant spray for Namjoon, and a box of condoms even before their supply's run out. He doesn't think about it as he boards the train and feels around his bag for his iPod, only to come up with nothing but Namjoon's shitty mp3 player that doesn't even have a functioning repeat button anymore but still manages to outlive all of his gadgets combined, partly because Hoseok's been the one using it for months now, years even.

He doesn't even think about it when he unlocks their front door and dumps his keys in the bowl on the drawer, or even when he lines up his Chucks' beside Namjoon's boots. But he does start to think about it a little when he hop-skips his way to the bathroom as he tugs off his — Namjoon's — jeans, glances at their toothbrushes with the caps long since discarded and the bristles brushing in what might be the most unsanitary thing in the world if Hoseok didn't swallow more than he spat out every time he made Namjoon come in his mouth, and, okay, maybe his mind wanders a little bit more when he looks at their laundry in the hamper, all tangled up in one sweaty, stinky pile of fabric.

Fuck, he thinks, looking at the tiled walls as he pees into the toilet. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fucking shit.

Namjoon gets home a little under an hour later, a box of pizza under his arm and a smaller carton of those breadsticks Hoseok likes from the pizza place still piping hot. Hoseok doesn't bother to call out a greeting as he stares at his — their — closet, having spent the rest of his time trying to remember who owned what pair of pants, socks, and underwear and despairing over never really following through with his earlier threats of labeling everything with permanent marker. A good, sensible idea, and Namjoon had just made a face and distracted Hoseok by slipping his fingers past the waistband of his shorts like a filthy cheater of the lowest kind.

Namjoon seems to take his silence as surliness, and he's cautious enough to not say anything when Hoseok merely grunts at his careful inquiries about what on earth Hoseok has up his ass now, because it sure as hell isn't a bullet vibrator, for certain. And Hoseok, well, Hoseok doesn't really know how to tell Namjoon that his mental meltdown is all because of something Jimin said, because then Namjoon would just call him dumb and bop him on the nose and maybe laugh at him about it for hours, days, even — and then try to get him to actually use that sex toy Namjoon bought him as a joke for his last birthday.

So Hoseok just scarfs down his pepperoni pizza and watches shitty reruns of a drama on Namjoon's tablet, and by the time Namjoon's given up frowning at him and turns off the light, Hoseok's skin still feels like it's buzzing with tension and paranoia all in one. He feels a little too out of his depth, a little too small for his skin, and that sinking feeling of dread in the pit of a stomach just tightens up into a ball as Namjoon slinks under the covers with him and flings an arm over his chest, muttering about the heater being shitty even when it's, like, barely as cold as a week ago and Namjoon had just stolen his comforter and buried himself under piles of blankets. In his own bed.

He looks at Namjoon, whose eyes are closed and whose mouth is open and tracking spit all over his pillow. The ball in his stomach tangles, and then drops with the pang of warmth that's threatening to spill across Hoseok's chest, unfurling. His mouth twitches, and it's not from annoyance. He has to bite the inside of his cheek to stop.

Oh shit, Hoseok thinks, sitting up and turning the lamp on. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.

He smacks Namjoon awake, and tries not to hyperventilate enough to cough his lung out.

"Namjoon," Hoseok hisses, ignoring Namjoon's pained grunt. He hits his shoulder again, for good measure, and Namjoon makes a strangled sound. "Namjoon, wake up!"

"What is it?" Namjoon says — or, at least, tries to say. The best he could come up with is a muffled whussit? Trust Namjoon to be useless in the face of Hoseok's greatest epiphany and nightmare coming to life. Why does Hoseok have to be stuck with him, honestly?

Hoseok shakes his arm, until Namjoon opens an eye and bats at him in irritation. It's virtually painless, considering that Namjoon is barely awake enough to even muster the strength to really push him away if he wants to, and Hoseok takes advantage of his state to pin his hands down his sides. "Namjoon," Hoseok whispers, injecting as much panic in his tone as he could. It must work, to some extent, because Namjoon stays still, listening, "you have to answer me honestly: are we dating?"

Namjoon's expression turns flatter than Hoseok's bag getting crushed under the weight of Namjoon's readings and textbooks. "Hoseok," says Namjoon, "it's one in the morning."

He shifts to turn his body away from Hoseok, but a determined Hoseok isn't one to be deterred by outward displays of rejection, not when his mental peace and stability is at stake. "No, don't go back to sleep," he half-yells, half-sobs, "this is a life and death situation!"

Namjoon makes a strangled sound in his throat. He almost looks like he wants to cry as much as Hoseok does. "The only thing that's going to be dead is you if I don't wake up in time for my Physics midterm later," he warns.

"Namjoon."

For a few seconds, Hoseok thinks that Namjoon's managed to doze off again to ignore Hoseok's internal hysteria for good, what with how still and unmoving he is, but he eventually makes a frustrated noise at the back of his throat and turns to face Hoseok, peeking an eye open. "Didn't we already talk about this before?"

"No, that was Seokjin-hyung making fun of us, as usual," he retorts. "This is an actual crisis!"

Namjoon lets out an aggrieved sigh. "What crisis?"

"My internal crisis!" Hoseok despairs. He glares down at Namjoon, and jabs a finger at Namjoon's chest. "Are we dating or not?"

"No, we're not," Namjoon huffs. He pulls Hoseok back down to bed and pats his hip, calming. "Now calm down and go to sleep, please."

Hoseok has half a mind to yell at him some more, but the concentric circles Namjoon is making with his palm against Hoseok's skin is soothing enough to lull him to a false sense of security. "You're right," says Hoseok, laughing weakly. "I'm overreacting." The laughter starts to waver, and Namjoon's touch turns less placid, more concerned. "We're not…"

Hoseok blinks, as he glances around their room. At their shared bed, cluttered with books and mismatched socks at the base. At their shared study table, where the wires of Namjoon's chargers are all jumbled up with Hoseok's. At their closet, where Hoseok's jacket is draped over the hanger along with Namjoon's scarves. At their drawer, where a matching set of plastic toy rings they got as prizes from the from a cereal box lay after they jokingly put them on each other's ring fingers for a week straight before dumping it into the bowl where they put their keys, their watches, and other pieces of jewelry they own between the two of them in. 'Friendship' rings, they'd insisted, every time Yoongi made fun of them for it. He whimpers. "Oh god. It's even worse than I thought."

Namjoon sighs. "Now what are you talking about?"

Hoseok swallows the lump in his throat, and turns to face Namjoon's sleep-rumpled face. Hoseok doesn't know what kind of face he's making, but whatever it is, it must be serious enough for the annoyance is in Namjoon's expression to disappear and morph into concern. Namjoon's fingers skim past his hip, his waist, and up to his shoulder, firm. "What is it?" He asks, urgently now, and Hoseok sniffles.

"Namjoon," he says, a little woodenly, "I think we're married now."

 

 

Three fortifying mugs of instant coffee laced with alcohol, a screaming match and an angry I can't believe you woke me up in the middle of the ass crack of the night handjob later, Hoseok is bundled up in his comforter and sipping into a cup of tea to soothe his frayed nerves. Namjoon had forcefully taken his last batch of coffee after Hoseok's fingers couldn't stop shaking, and now they're both wide awake before six in the morning (a miracle) and trying to talk about feelings and their relationship (an even bigger miracle), or whatever. At this point, Hoseok doesn't really care anymore, too numbed by caffeine and the post-sex afterglow to even absorb everything Namjoon's saying.

"Think of it this way," Namjoon rationalizes, "You're probably just highly susceptible to suggestion. I mean, last time Taehyung told you to strip and go skinny dipping, you did just that."

Namjoon is kind of shitty at comforting people, because his idea of it is getting people to open up like some godforsaken psychiatrist. And Hoseok knows he means well, because he's brought out his thinking glasses, but they don't really help because Hoseok just keeps getting distracted by them and thinking about how much he really, really wants to hold his frames in place to keep them from slipping off of Namjoon's nose, and god, Hoseok doesn't need yet another damning bit of evidence to add to his case.

"I was drunk," says Hoseok, flatly. "I don't think that should be taken against me."

"We were at the beach. In the middle of winter. You stayed there for fifteen minutes." Namjoon rubs at his forehead. "The point is, your brain latched onto whatever bullshit Seokjin-hyung—"

"And Jimin."

Namjoon looks up, sharply. "Jimin?" He repeats, incredulous, and Hoseok hesitantly nods. Namjoon sighs, and continues. "— whatever bullshit Seokjin-hyung and Jimin were feeding you, and now you can't get it out of your system because we haven't fucked around in a while."

"It's because you're too hot when you're studying," Hoseok bemoans. He sets his cup of tea down by the drawer and flings an arm over his face. "Those glasses make you look smarter than you actually are, and you don't open your mouth."

"… you think I'm hot?"

"If I didn't think you were hot, would I have let you stick your tongue down my throat?" Hoseok demands. "And my ass, on more than one occasion?"

"Oh," says Namjoon, sounding far too pleased with himself. "Good to know."

Hoseok pulls his arm away and glares. Namjoon doesn't even look ashamed of himself for his fucked up priorities, just mildly amused and mostly pensive, the unrepentant asshole. "Stop changing the subject," he grunts out. "We should be talking about my pain here!"

"You woke me up at an ungodly hour and now I can't go back to sleep," says Namjoon, dryly, but doesn't really look as bothered as Hoseok knows he himself would be if he were in Namjoon's shoes. "If anyone's in pain, it's me."

Namjoon's right, though, even if he does try to keep his tone as light as he can to make Hoseok feel less bad about it, though it doesn't stop the instinctive guilt that makes Hoseok's shoulders slump. For all of his bad habits and seeming insensitivity, Namjoon can be careful, when Hoseok needs it most, like that time Hoseok's dog Mickey had gotten food poisoning half a year ago and Hoseok had wanted so badly to go home, but it had been the middle of finals week and the commute was impossible. Instead, he'd spent the entire night miserably thumbing through Snapchat updates from his sister, with Namjoon curled up against him in his PJs and patted his back every time Hoseok sniffled a little. The next day, Namjoon hadn't even called him out for crying, hadn't teased him like Hoseok had expected him to — he'd just nodded and said, "Don't worry about it. If your dog's anything like you, he'll be back to snapping at butterflies and barking at everything that moves in no time."

(And, okay, maybe Hoseok had hit him for that, but the sentiment still left him feeling only a little touched. But just barely.)

"Are you mad?" Hoseok asks, voice small.

"God, stop looking at me like that," Namjoon huffs. "Of course I'm not."

Hoseok's not too convinced, but Namjoon reaches out to ruffle his hair, like Hoseok's the younger one instead of the other way around. "Who else would put up with your mental breakdowns at," he pauses to check the time on his phone, "three thirty five in the morning?"

No one but Namjoon, probably, Hoseok thinks, and wonders why it's harder to laugh the thought away than before.

He musters enough false courage in himself to crack a smile at Namjoon, though, because Namjoon looks like he really, really needs it, and Namjoon doesn't say anything, just reaches out to touch Hoseok's face with the back of his hand, knuckles firm and solid against the swell of Hoseok's cheek.

"It's okay," says Namjoon, and sounds like he means it. "This doesn't have to change anything."

Namjoon's never really been a good liar, but Hoseok doesn't feel relieved at all.

 

 

They try to get back to normal — or as normal as they could possibly get — but normal is anything but the things they do every day, ever since they'd both thought it would be a good idea to try sucking each other's faces instead of just palming at each other's dicks.

They were in their second year, then, and Hoseok remembers it like he remembers all of Namjoon's habits; Namjoon hadn't been dating anyone weeks after the whole Jimin debacle, and had spent most of his free time playing video games with Hoseok, holed up in their room but mystifyingly not too torn up about it as Hoseok expected him to be. Then again, Hoseok had hardly been as close to Namjoon, then, and that was honestly the longest he'd spent in close quarters with Namjoon willingly, sleeping hours discounted.

It wasn't like they were expected to be, barely half a year into rooming with each other and Hoseok being caught in that tight spot between being a supportive roommate-but-not-friend versus looking Jimin in the eye and not feeling guilty by association about Jimin's puffy eyes and red, sniffling nose. Even as a freshman, Jimin had made it easy to like him, and it had been no contest to Hoseok at first where his loyalty would lie, Namjoon's crappy lifestyle aside.

Still, living in close proximity with someone meant that you had to make some effort into getting along, and the only solution Hoseok could think of was a therapeutic series of FPS games. They both weren't particularly competitive when it came to video games, but they were both bored uni students and there were only so many times you could venture into clubs with so little pocket money on hand. And besides, it was nearing hell week already, and Hoseok figured they could both vent out as much frustration as they needed. With the force of the button mashing Namjoon was doing, he sure as hell looked like he needed it.

A six-pack of beer later, Namjoon was already philosophizing about his failed non-relationship, even if Hoseok could barely see straight and was already shooting more at Namjoon than any incoming zombies. "It was just sex," Namjoon said, eyes glazed over as he hit the pause button, "but the way Taehyung keeps glaring at me, you'd think I broke Jimin's heart or something."

Uh, because you actually kind of did, you fucking douchebag, Hoseok thought, pressing the Z button — or tried to, at least. His damn thumb kept missing the right button on the controller.

Namjoon took no notice of him, and just downed the rest of his beer. "You'd think I hadn't done that brat a favor by getting out earlier than I would have wanted to."

"What do you mean?"

Namjoon set his empty can down, and Hoseok would have gotten on his case about coasters and water marks if he weren't so tipsy and confused. "Don't tell me you never noticed how Taehyung looks at him," he said, wrinkling his nose, like the thought of it was already enough to send him puking to the bathroom. Or maybe it was the alcohol, or indigestion. Hoseok could never really read him too clearly, in the first year of their rooming arrangement.

"Like what?"

"Like he wants to, I dunno, eat him alive? And then maybe cuddle him afterwards?" Namjoon shrugged. "They're kind of weird like that."

"I have no idea what that even looks like," said Hoseok.

"Like this," said Namjoon, scrunching up his face and trying to look grave and piercing, but only managing to look constipated. Hoseok laughed and kicked at him from his perch on the other end of the couch, and Namjoon's lips slanted into a crooked half-smile. "Hey, I made you smile."

"I know how to smile," Hoseok protested. "I smile all the damn time at school!"

"You yell at me about cleaning up my side of the room more than my mother does," said Namjoon. "I was starting to wonder if you really hated me that much."

"You're just hopeless," said Hoseok. "Who else would live with you other than me?"

Namjoon's laughter died in his throat. "Not Jimin, definitely," Namjoon said, not without a little bitterness, and for a brief moment, Hoseok almost felt sorry for him. Almost, until he smirked and waggled his eyebrows at Hoseok. "At least the sex was good, right?"

"How do you even live with yourself, you pervert," Hoseok wondered.

Hoseok blamed it on the alcohol, or on the broken air-conditioner, but the way Namjoon looked at him made him feel heated, stifled. Hoseok knew that look, mostly because he'd seen it on the few times Namjoon had a girl over at some point late last year and was trying to slip his fingers up her skirt on the couch, or when Jimin had come over in a tank top and a loose pair of shorts after working out at the gym and subsequently sexiling Hoseok out of their studio apartment, or even when Namjoon was watching porn on his side of the bed and muffling his panting into his pillow late at night, when he thought Hoseok was asleep and not just hard and wanting. Even then, Hoseok blamed the low, lingering attraction simmering in his stomach on that. It wasn't his fault, he thought. It was all Namjoon's.

"Want me to show you?" Namjoon asked. He put his controller down, and bent forward, close enough to graze Hoseok's ear with his mouth but far enough to pull away with a scoff and a chuckle if Hoseok felt like saying no. And Hoseok should have said no. He really, really should have.

But Hoseok turned his head, and felt Namjoon's breath catch in his throat. That had been the first mistake, kissing Namjoon. The first of many.

So now here they are, tiptoeing around each other even worse than the awkward initial weeks they'd spent sizing each other up in their freshman year, wary and prickly in all the wrong ways. Hoseok keeps second guessing himself every time he looks at Namjoon's curled up form on the couch, lazily flicking through channels with the remote, when ordinarily he would have just wormed his way against Namjoon and threatened to gut him if he fell off the sofa. 'Normal' is Hoseok dozing off to Namjoon humming under his breath and toying with the short strands of hair above Hoseok's nape, the TV a faint buzzing floating in and out of his consciousness. 'Normal' is Namjoon coaxing him to bed and failing, and eventually just tucking him in with a blanket that's too short that it exposes their feet and just gives Namjoon an excuse to tangle their legs together for warmth. 'Normal' is never saying goodnight to Namjoon, except in his mind, and in his mouth, when he presses a sloppy kiss to Namjoon's cheek. They'll probably never be able to go back, because they're too not-normal to remember what it's like, to be less than lovers and more like friends.

It's not just Hoseok, though; they're so off that Namjoon's chosen to vacate the premises and apparently hightail it to hide out at Yoongi's and Seokjin's, much to their disgruntled despair. Hoseok spends his weekends passive aggressively cleaning every surface of their room except for Namjoon's bed, even if a school of ants is probably living off the bits of chips on his sheets, and it only fills him with a brief sense of gratification before it morphs into something more miserable, depressing. Something like loneliness.

"You know what you need?" Taehyung tells him, decisively, as he watches Hoseok stab a straw into his cup of juice on their break. "A good, hard dicking, that's what."

Jimin nudges Taehyung's side, hard, and Taehyung grimaces but doesn't look too put out. "What Taehyung means to say," says Jimin, scowling, "is that you might need to explore other options."

"You don't get to tell me that," says Hoseok. "Last time you said anything, I freaked out and now I'm on the verge of moving out."

"You're not moving out, hyung," says Taehyung. "You wouldn't last a day without wondering if Namjoon-hyung's dead yet or not."

"I can!" Taehyung and Jimin just stare at him. "Oh, fuck you guys so hard."

"No thanks," says Taehyung, wrinkling his nose. "I'm not too big a fan of sharing Jimin."

Jimin throws him a look, the kind that makes Hoseok barf a little in his mouth because it's a weird combination of adoration and the promise of a filthy blowjob in the locker room that pointedly does not make Hoseok envious in any shape or form, nope. He flicks a potato chip at Jimin to drag him back to the land of sanity and misery.

"Seriously, hyung," says Jimin, "let me set you up. I know this really cute girl in my econ class that thinks you're kind of hot."

"'Kind of'?"

"No accounting for taste, that one, but we tried to make her see the light," says Taehyung, gravely. "I mean, considering you've been shacking it up with Namjoon-hyung since last year, you probably don't even remember what girl parts look like anymore."

Hoseok briefly wonders if it would be in bad form to remind his juniors that he and Namjoon do watch straight and lesbian porn on occasion, never mind that Hoseok had spent the last time trying to fuck Namjoon into the mattress than ogling at perfectly formed, possibly artificial breasts, but thinking about Namjoon just sends him into an even greater flurry of despair that has him clutching tighter at his drink and sipping loudly. Fuck Namjoon and his empty consolation of things staying the same — they're nothing but platitudes that won't get Hoseok to stop looking at Namjoon and thinking about certain dark, sentimental nothings that are best kept under lock and key, not when it's just sex.

"Okay," says Hoseok, tongue numb from his soda, or maybe just his thoughts. "Okay, I'm in."

"Great," says Jimin, beaming. "It'll be worth it in the end, I just know it."

Hoseok can only hope he's right.

 

 

Saturday swings by and Hoseok's tugging on an uncomfortable long-sleeved shirt with a collar and trying not to sneeze every time he comes within a few inches of the bouquet of flowers Jimin had shoved into his hands hours earlier. Flowers. Hoseok hasn't been on a date in so long that Jimin's already doubted his ability to deliver and anticipated the extent of Hoseok's incompetence. Hoseok's mildly insulted but mostly relieved, because Jimin's right: he doesn't know how to date anyone anymore, not after basically being in a non-relationship with Namjoon for almost two years and counting.

He grabs his jacket, wallet, and keys, then his hand hovers over a near-empty box of condoms. It's definitely assuming too much, but it's not even that thought that's stopping him. Hoseok wonders what it means, if he's too chicken shit to contemplate even sleeping with other people. If it should mean something, in the scheme of things.

Or maybe he's just overthinking, no doubt from Namjoon's bad influence. He sucks in a breath, and sets his jaw.

It's how Namjoon finds him, when he opts to come home for the first time in probably three days running, no doubt only for a change of clothes and maybe a shower to duck out again and frustrate the rest of their friends some more. Hoseok flinches and pulls his hand away from the box, and Namjoon's eyes track the movement, gaze sharp.

"Where are you going?" He asks.

It's an innocuous question, but it sounds more accusatory to Hoseok's ears than indifferent, and Hoseok bristles. It's this that makes his fingers dart out to pluck the condoms away from their bedside drawer and into his back pocket, decisive.

"I have a date," says Hoseok, with false cheer. "Don't wait up."

Namjoon doesn't say anything, just looks at him, expressionless, for a long, measured moment. Hoseok doesn't know what he's expecting, doesn't even think about the possibility of Namjoon not being entirely too overjoyed with the idea of Hoseok potentially getting some before he does, but the way his delayed, crooked smile protracts makes Hoseok feel something in his gut clench. Something like guilt.

"Have fun," says Namjoon, and ducks into the bathroom for a shower, leaving Hoseok at a loss for words.

Guess that's as good a blessing, he thinks, and it makes his mood drop even more. He doesn't know if he prefers the snit he's working himself up in over the anxious ball of stress he'd been not a few minutes earlier, but it follows him all the way to his date with Jimin's classmate at an Italian place half an hour away.

She's tall and vaguely pretty in a conventional way, and she'd probably be Namjoon's type, if Hoseok were honest. She likes hiphop and poetry, but she still laughs at lame jokes that Hoseok only manages to scrape out by thinking about all the stupid things Namjoon had told him a few times, jokes that Hoseok had only laughed at because Namjoon's fingers were poking at the sensitive taper of his waist, fluttering and teasing. Her chest size isn't too bad, not that Hoseok even stares, but she'd be good for him, maybe. He should set them up so they could get married and have adorable babies together while he'd spend the rest of his days poking at cold instant noodles and bemoaning his life.

He doesn't spend the rest of his date thinking dark, depressing thoughts, though, because if there's anything Hoseok isn't, it's an asshole on a rebound, and he tries his best to be responsive, to be a good listener, to flirt back, really, but there's no sparks, no fizzle, no warmth pooling in his gut when she leans over to hold his hand on the table. She's nice, but sometimes nice isn't good enough, and it's then that he realizes what a fucking idiot he is, to even be thinking about Namjoon when his date is probably infinitely better than he is. Still. You can't teach the heart old tricks, and he pulls his hand away with a wistful pang.

He doesn’t kiss her, when they part ways. He's had enough of mistakes, and she seems to understand it, because she doesn't press, doesn't expect anything else. No baggage, no commitment, no things to tie them down — things he should have had with Namjoon, until he'd felt too much, said too little.

The walk home is long and bitterly cold, but it's enough to clear his head for the rest of the night.

 

 

Namjoon's home when he gets back, curled up on Hoseok's bed and watching an American film on his tablet. There aren't any subtitles and Hoseok doesn't know enough English to follow the dialogue, but from the tear-stained face of the female lead and the way her love interest is scooping her up in a kiss under the rain, it's probably a cheesy romantic comedy. The crumpled up wads of tissue and Namjoon's sniffling is a tell-tale sign of it, with or without looking at the screen.

Namjoon scoots up, and rubs his eyes with the back of his hand. A good friend would make fun of him for it to get him to crack a smile, and an even better friend would pretend not to notice and just hand him a tub of ice cream or a mug of tea. Hoseok's not a good friend, though, so he squashes down the nagging thought of pulling Namjoon into a consoling hug, of distracting him with a peck to the corner of his mouth, pacifying. Instead, he puts his jacket down on an empty chair, and mechanically starts taking off his clothes.

"How was your date?" Namjoon croaks out, but he doesn't get out of bed. He sets his tablet aside and watches Hoseok unbutton his shirt and unzip his pants. Hoseok feels more than sees the weight of Namjoon's gaze as he bends to tug them off his legs.

"Fine," Hoseok lies, and considers changing into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt before thinking, fuck it, and crawling into bed with Namjoon.

Namjoon doesn't say anything, doesn't protest when Hoseok presses closer, practically naked except for his briefs and his socks, but he lets out a hiss at the buzz of static when his arm brushes against the slope of Hoseok's back; Hoseok folds into himself, as if to make himself smaller, but Namjoon has a way of making Hoseok feel like he's taking up so much space, suffocated. He can't breathe.

"What's wrong?" Namjoon asks, carefully. Hoseok buries his face into the crook of Namjoon's neck and shoulder, and sighs.

I should be asking you that, Hoseok thinks, but he just stares, unseeing, at Namjoon's skin. "Nothing," he says. Everything, he doesn't say. He fidgets, scratching at the hem of Namjoon's tank top. "She was too nice."

"Normal people would think being 'nice' is a good thing," says Namjoon. "You're actually a masochist, aren't you?"

Hoseok doesn't respond, just squares his shoulders and makes a move to pull away, but Namjoon's fingers are quicker to keep him still. "Sorry," says Namjoon, though Hoseok wonders if he even knows what he should even be apologizing for. "You know I'm shit at making people feel better."

"I know," says Hoseok, even if what he really means is, you're really not. The truth is, if Namjoon were an insensitive prick through and through, Hoseok wouldn't have lasted this long with him, with or without sex on the table. For all of Namjoon's clumsy attempts, he tries, he really does, and right now, he's still trying.

Of course, it doesn't mean he's not prone to fucking it up. "Was it the flowers?" Namjoon cajoles. "Did she turn out to be as deathly allergic to them as you?"

"I was not allergic to—"

"Please, the neighbors could hear you sneezing your ass off a mile away," he scoffs. He scrunches up his face, before something like enlightenment passes over his expression. "Was it because she didn't let you do it even with a condom?"

"Oh my god," Hoseok bites out, and a flash of fury rises in Hoseok's chest, pounding. "I didn't sleep with her on the first date."

"Good," says Namjoon, then thinks better of it. It doesn't make Hoseok not want to punch him in the mouth any less, and Namjoon should be grateful Hoseok's more or less an emotional mess to even bother. "Not because you didn't get any, you know, but because you never know if all these strange people have STDs or something."

He tries to shake it away, but he can't quite manage to keep the sullenness out of his tone. "Or something," he agrees, scowling at Namjoon.

After a beat, Namjoon squints down at him. "Do you want a blowjob to make you feel better?" Namjoon offers.

"No."

Namjoon looks stricken, off-kilter, but he looks a little more hopeful, less resigned. He probably thinks that the way Hoseok is completely still is a good sign, but Hoseok can't tell him his throat is clogging up and locking in place, incoherent; Namjoon's always been a touch better with words, but Hoseok's always been the one too full of emotion, and it's harder to voice out feelings when they're too rubbed raw, too real. Hoseok wonders if it's just his imagination that he's shaking. If maybe he can pass it off from the cold, from being stripped.

Namjoon's gotten too good at reading him though, after all this time. "Okay," says Namjoon. He waits for a while, mulling over something, before opening his mouth again. "How about a hug, instead?"

Hoseok lets himself be pulled closer, and he makes a soft, wounded noise in his throat. "Cold," he says, even though Namjoon's hands burn into his skin, searing. He licks his lips, and looks up at Namjoon. "I'm only letting you do this because I'm freezing my ass off."

"If you say so," Namjoon hums, and tightens his grip around Hoseok.

 

 

It gets a little better, after that. Namjoon finally stops treating Yoongi and Seokjin's flat as a sanctuary, much to their relief ("No offense, but if I have to wake up to more snoring, I'm going to punch Namjoon's balls so hard he'll never get to use it," says Seokjin, a side effect of too little sleep and too much exposure to Yoongi, clearly), and Hoseok actively tries to switch off whatever self-indulgent fantasies he has in the middle of the night because step one to resolving relationship issues is not sex, no matter what anyone says.

There's still some awkwardness there that they can't quite manage to get rid of, but it's not a bad kind of awkwardness. It's just new, Hoseok thinks, like they're trying to relearn each other's habits, their routines. Like they're trying to read each other a little better, with more pages added to their stories. Or whatever, Hoseok doesn't know. He's never been good with metaphors.

"Maybe you don't need to complicate things," says Taehyung, as Hoseok broods over it while they're working on a project at the library. Taehyung's long since given up trying to get Hoseok to concentrate over doing more than doodling Namjoon's name into the corner of his notebook and scratching it out with an eraser before repeating the cycle. "What's so bad about dating your best friend?"

"Namjoon's not my best friend," says Hoseok, making a face.

"Isn't he?"

Hoseok wants to say that his best friend is Jonghyup from high school, but they haven't talked in years since going to uni, and it's not like Hoseok spends more time with anyone else other than Namjoon. Namjoon doesn't know much about his childhood, or his woes as a student in middle school to high school, but Namjoon was there when Hoseok had to go to the hospital last year after a bad case of chicken pox and held Hoseok's hand when the itching got too much and Hoseok couldn't be trusted to keep his fingers from scratching at his skin. He knows what Hoseok's favorite food items from all their delivery menus are, and he knows how many beers or shots of soju Hoseok can take before he moves from the overly enthusiastic, stripperific level of inebriation to the sad, mope-y kind of drunk he eventually winds up being by the end of the night. He knows Hoseok's karaoke selections by heart, his exhaustive list of allergies, his phone numbers from two inactive sims and three perfectly functioning ones he uses for SNS, and all the kinds of expressions Hoseok makes when he Skypes with his dog via his sister, even the really gross kissy faces.

"Okay, so maybe he is," Hoseok huffs. Clearly, Namjoon knows too much, and Hoseok would honestly have to kill him if half of the secrets Namjoon has on him are ever brought up in public. He'd have to take them to his grave, if only to keep up the pretense of respectability.

But not enough, Hoseok thinks. He wants to tell Namjoon about how the scar on his hip that Namjoon keeps rubbing at, distracted, sometimes, is from a nasty accident involving his bike and a perfectly unmoving and innocent tree in his grandmother's backyard, and how when he was seven he'd given his first kiss to a frog because his sister had fooled him into thinking that fairytales had more grains of truth in them than he'd originally given them credit for. How in middle school, he'd gotten his heart broken the first time when the girl he liked was more interested in his best friend. How in high school, he'd learned he'd like boys just as much when a senior pulled him into the back of the art room for a kiss that lingered on his lips for hours after.

He wants to tell Namjoon everything, he realizes, as he stares at the empty page of his notebook, unseeing. The good parts and the bad ones, even. God, he wants to give Namjoon so much, if only he weren't such a fucking coward.

"Doesn't that make it worse, though?" He asks, swallowing. "Like, what if I lose him even more than I already am? It's only going to hurt when one of us screws up, and we don't exactly have the best track record of being relationship magnets."

Taehyung writes down something on his pad paper, and the only sound other than the low hum of the air conditioner and a neighboring student coughing into his book is the scratch of his pen against the paper. "You know, I thought the same thing once," says Taehyung, like he's talking about the weather instead of his own love life. "When I met Jimin at orientation week, I always thought he was kind of cute and had a really lowkey crush on him for a while, but the closer we got, the more it just felt weird to try to be anything else, because what if he didn't like me that way, right? What if I was just forcing my feelings onto him and pressuring him into something he didn't want?"

Hoseok nods, dumbly, more because he doesn't know what else to say. Taehyung doesn't seem to need much coaxing to go on, though, and he continues speaking without lifting his head from what he's writing.

"Then Jimin started going out with Namjoon, and I thought, that was that. I was disappointed, yeah, but it was mostly my fault anyway, and what kind of asshole would I be if I got spiteful and jealous just because I was too chicken shit to do anything? It's not like I was entitled to him or whatever, but…"

He bites his lip, and stops writing. "It still hurt, though," he says, "even when I wanted him to be happy. It doesn't make the feelings go away, just because you want it to. And I think that's when I realized it."

"Realized what?"

"That even when you think it's safer to not do anything, the truth is, that's the worst lie you can tell yourself," says Taehyung, "because the moment you know you can't see them as a friend anymore, that's the point that there's no turning back. Everything changes the minute you start thinking you want to kiss them and hold their hand whenever you hang out."

Hoseok blanches, and Taehyung looks properly chastised enough that Hoseok wonders if he looks as close to passing out as he feels.

"Not that I'm pressuring you into doing anything, hyung," says Taehyung, dropping his pen on the table and holding up his hands. "I mean, not if you're going to get performance anxiety out of it."

"I do not have performance anxiety," Hoseok protests, even though the gurgling in his stomach is telling him anything but. "I'm not Namjoon!"

"That's honestly more than I ever wanted to know about your sex life," says Taehyung, making a face. "But come on, just consider it, hyung: how bad could it really be to start labeling yourself instead of dancing around each other like idiots?"

"You're the idiot," says Hoseok, churlish.

"This idiot gets laid regularly without having complicated man pain thrown into the mix," says Taehyung, with a boxy grin. Hoseok throws a chunk of his eraser at him, and Taehyung yelps, tipping his seat back to avoid it. Hoseok does him one better and chucks his snapback at him for good measure.

"I'm serious," says Taehyung, peeling Hoseok's cap off of his face. "You should listen to your heart more, hyung. It's more honest than you give it credit for."

"Is that what you told Jimin when you asked him out?"

"Nah," says Taehyung, tipping his chin up in triumph. He looks as pleased with himself as Namjoon does whenever he has Hoseok on his knees, be it to clean under his bed or to suck him off in the back of an empty classroom during a shared break. "He did the asking, not me."

Hoseok's nose wrinkles, but mostly for show. "You do realize Jimin isn't a fountain of good ideas himself, not after he pushed me to go out on a blind date."

"I dunno," says Taehyung, scratching his cheek. "He got you to realize you didn't want anyone else but Namjoon-hyung, didn't he?"

Hoseok stares at Taehyung, and Taehyung shrugs. "Hey, he did say it'll be worth it, didn't he?"

"Your boyfriend is a dead man," says Hoseok.

"Try telling me that when you finally confess to Namjoon-hyung," says Taehyung. "Then I'll have to reconsider your threats. I'd miss Jimin a little if you killed him, after all."

"Just a little?"

"Okay, maybe a lot, but don't tell him I said that," Taehyung amends. "Now please stop doodling hearts into Namjoon-hyung's name and help me figure out what the hell a theoretical framework is supposed to look like."

 

 

If Hoseok were Namjoon, he would be sitting down and thinking long and hard about the pros and cons of a relationship with Hoseok. If he were Namjoon, he'd stick to logic and cold, hard facts, isolating his dick out of the equation long enough to focus. In all honesty, if he were Namjoon, he probably wouldn't even be thinking about it and just let Hoseok do the panicking for them both. But the point is, if he were Namjoon, it would be different.

Because Hoseok is not Namjoon, he prefers to think with his gut and rely on superstition, just to be belligerent. Fuck lists, fuck equations, fuck being rational — thinking's never gotten Hoseok anywhere useful with Namjoon, and neither has alcohol, he considers woefully, when he turns down Taehyung's invitation to go out and get drunk with Jimin and Jungkook.

There's no apocalyptic second coming, no torrential rain showers or threats of storm clouds in the distance to tell him what a disaster it would be to even consider moving forward with Namjoon. There's still some sun out, when he leaves Taehyung at the library, and the entire walk home is cloudless, quiet, even. Either it's the calm before the storm, or the universe trying to tell him otherwise.

He stops by a bakery and finds all of Namjoon's favorites still on the rack, freshly baked and piping hot. On his way to the train station, he finds a thousand won bill, and pockets the change. Some bubbly pop song is blaring from the speakers of the train, and it makes Hoseok's heart settle and his feet tap against the floor because if there's anything Hoseok's weak against, it's girl group choreography, damn it. Yeah, Hoseok thinks with clarity even through the pounding of his heart, the rush of music in his ears, the pleased flush spreading across his face and down, down, down. Yeah, this might not be such a bad idea.

— or maybe it's actually the Worst Idea Ever, Hoseok thinks, when he nearly falls flat on his face the minute he unlocks the door and nearly trips over Namjoon's backpack. Fuck the universe and its lies.

He can hear Namjoon singing from the other room, and Hoseok glares at the wooden floor. A teenager. He's living with an actual teenager. Hoseok should run while he still can, before he gets his karmic destiny handed to him on a silver platter. And yet...

He looks down at the paper bag of bread in his hand. Mostly uncrushed, but still edible and warm. Huh. Maybe the universe isn't out to get him after all.

He rights himself up, and hefts Namjoon's bag up onto his shoulder. "How are you such a slob," Hoseok yells as a greeting on his way to their shared room.

Namjoon's working on something on his laptop, but he spares Hoseok a brief moment to blink at him. Part of it is out of annoyance, but for the most part, it's confusion, through and through, because Hoseok hasn't exactly yelled at him in a long while ever since the awkward relationship limbo they've been fumbling through for a better part of the month. "It's not my fault if you don't look where you're going."

"Your bag was right in the middle of the entryway."

"Still not my fault," Namjoon scoffs, lip curling upwards in amusement, and Hoseok sincerely wants to hit him, and then maybe chase at the bruise with his mouth. He tightens his grip on Namjoon's bag, and dumps it on the floor.

"I'm throwing your crap away the next time I trip on something," Hoseok warns, flopping down on Namjoon's bed, long since unmade and unslept in since he's decided to shack up in Hoseok's what feels like an eternity away. The sheets are stale and honestly a little gross, but Hoseok finds himself tucking his cheek against the scratchy fabric anyway.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," says Namjoon, rolling his eyes.

Honestly, Namjoon should be glad Hoseok's suffering from a temporary bout of insanity and actually considering all the ways he can distract Namjoon without having to distract him with the prospect of sex. Hoseok's mildly disgusted with himself, because there's a lot of cheesy things he's imagined himself doing with a hypothetical boyfriend or girlfriend, but now that the veil of what ifs is gone and those thoughts are permanently infused with Namjoon's face, there's no backing out now. Might as well get this over and done with, he thinks, wistfully, but finds that it doesn't even make him feel sad, not even once.

More like: hopeful. Anticipating, even. He bites the inside of his cheek, and exhales.

"I think I wanna try dating you," he blurts out, apropos of nothing. He doesn't know how he manages to, not with how gnarled up and knotted his insides feel, but it's out before he realizes it. "For real, this time."

Namjoon's fingers still, on the keyboard, and he turns to look at Hoseok. He yanks off his headphones, and a tinny beat blares out of it, jarring in the relative silence of their room. Hoseok keeps telling him that putting his volume on too loud is going to end up destroying his eardrums someday, but Namjoon never listens. Worse than a disobedient child, really, and yet Hoseok can't imagine nagging at anyone else any other day.

"Okay," he says, nodding, like it's nothing, like he hasn't just made Hoseok go through an exhausting period of emotional turmoil.

Hoseok feels the swirling mass in his stomach sink like a tiny pebble into the ocean of his despair. "Okay?" He repeats. "Okay? Is that all you're gonna say?"

Namjoon squawks, as Hoseok gets up to smack him with a pillow; he shoves it at Hoseok's face, and Hoseok can faintly smell himself and Namjoon in there, the traces of it too intermingled for him to even know where he ends and Namjoon begins. He bats it away, letting it flop to the floor uselessly, and clambers over him, the computer chair creaking under their combined weight.

"What else do you want me to say?" Namjoon asks, but the irritation in his voice belies the way his fingers come up to settle at Hoseok's hips, keeping him in place. "First you insult me when you get home, then you skulk around like a pissy cat, and now you're telling me you want to date me?"

"You should be grateful I even asked, you little—"

"I know," Namjoon cuts him off, sounding less exasperated than he looks. "I never said I wasn't. Happy about it, that is."

Splotches of red dot Namjoon's ears, stretching to his neck. If Hoseok looks hard enough, he thinks Namjoon's eyebrow is twitching. "Are you blushing?" He asks, incredulously, even if all he wants to do is check his own face to see if it matches the color Namjoon's turning into, or if he looks as shell-shocked as he feels.

Namjoon's fingers contract, and for a second Hoseok wonders if Namjoon would push him off, but he just tightens his grip on Hoseok. "Somehow, I feel a little validated knowing that you suck so hard at trying to be romantic," says Namjoon, wistfully. "But mostly sad, because you're even worse at this than I am."

"Please, you wouldn't know romance even if it hit you in the face," says Hoseok.

"I know enough to help me get into someone's pants," Namjoon retorts. "I've gotten into yours, haven't I?"

"Only because we both think with our dicks and not with our hearts," Hoseok points out.

"True," Namjoon concedes. "But if we did, then I would be doing more than kissing you right now."

You're not even kissing me yet, Hoseok thinks, but the protest dies in his throat as Namjoon leans closer to stroke his cheek with the rough pad of his thumb. He lets it skim to his jaw, his chin, the jut of his lower lip, and follows its trail with his mouth, softly. It’s cloying and disgusting, but Hoseok can't help it when he huffs and melts into the kiss, his arms looping around Namjoon's neck and pulling him closer.

When they pull apart, Namjoon presses his forehead against Hoseok's, and they snicker like the two giddy, immature dorks Hoseok thinks they both are. There's a familiar curl of desire flickering in Hoseok's stomach, but it doesn't hit him as hard as before, doesn't compel him to get on his knees and tug at Namjoon's pants low enough so he can nose at his cock, because whatever sense of urgency he's had in trying to get under Namjoon's skin is now a slow, unfurling cover of satisfaction appeased by the broad grin on Namjoon's face, dimpled and pleased.

You make Namjoon happy, he thinks — hears it, more like, in Jimin's familiar voice, and there's no simmering irascibility that follows, not anymore. Just acceptance, and a little bit like hope.

"I'm still not buying you flowers," Hoseok insists. "You're not buying me flowers. More importantly, none of us are allowed to cook for each other, ever."

"We'd be the worst at grand gestures, really," Namjoon agrees. "We'd end up killing each other if we did."

"Why am I dating you again," Hoseok wonders.

"I don't know," says Namjoon. He bends to kiss Hoseok again, a small peck that turns into a lingering kiss, fond, "but I'll try not to make you regret it."

"You'd better," says Hoseok, and sinks into him, closer.