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often a sweetness

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The air-conditioned mail room is a great relief after being out in the oppressive the Seoul summer air. Hoseok swipes the sweat from his brow on the back of his forearm before crossing the room to his mailbox. His dog, Mickey, has the right idea: He plops down as soon as Hoseok leaves his side, his legs splayed out so he can rest his belly straight on the cold tile floor. Despite how filthy that floor must be, Hoseok half-wishes he could do the same. Instead, he pulls his keys from his pocket and, after finding his labelled mail key, opens his box.

Inside sit a couple bills, more junk mail, old magazine subscriptions from the tenant who lived in Hoseok's apartment before him, a few small packages he'd ordered online, and an envelope made of expensive cardstock. Hoseok frowns, turning the envelope over. It's addressed to Jung Hoseok and guest, and the return address is Hoseok's parents' home in Gwangju.

Oh. Oh shit. Hoseok knew Dawon's wedding was coming up, but he'd somehow forgotten about sending back his RSVP with a plus-one attached. Hoseok pushes his mailbox door shut with a jarring clang and only just resists banging his forehead on the metal in frustration. He must have sent his response back while he and Hyojin were still together. "Fuck," he mutters, spinning on his heel and marching back to the door. Grabbing Mickey's leash from where he'd tethered it to the doorknob, he makes his way over to the elevator. The doors open for him as soon as he hits the 'UP' button.

Heaving a sigh, Hoseok leans against the elevator wall, staring down at the reminder envelope in his hand. Hoseok and Hyojin dated for over a year, and they'd broken up only a month after he sent the invitation back to his sister. First introduced through a mutual friend, they hit it off right away; for all of Hyojin's apparent outer prickliness, she had a kind of softness to her that complimented Hoseok's well.

He fell for her almost from the first date, and for a long time after believed he could happily spend the rest of his life with her. He bought a ring and proposed, but she declined because their end goals in life were too different. As a result of that, they started to grow apart. Somehow the break-up was amicable, despite how serious it had become. Sometimes things just don't work out, even when two people still love each other very much. There were never any hard feelings, and they remained close friends afterwards. A few months after they ended things, Hyojin started seeing Solji, a woman she met through another friend. Hoseok couldn't be happier for her.

Now, though, he has to find someone else to bring with him. As the elevator stops on his floor, and Mickey leads the way towards the apartment, Hoseok frowns. If he goes to the wedding by himself, his aunt will try to set him up with one of her friend's daughters, and Hoseok does not want to go down that particular rabbit hole again. No, he can't go on his own. The other guests would talk. It would be better to have someone there with him, someone he enjoys the company of to help take the pressure off and make everything more fun... Someone like...

"Fuck no," his best friend, Min Yoongi, says flatly, sprawled out on his back on Hoseok's living room floor a few nights later. Empty beer and soju bottles ring his head like a halo. He has Mickey curled up on his belly, fast asleep as he trails absent fingers down the dog's back. "You should just go on some dumb dating site, I bet you'd find someone to go with in ten minutes, if that."

Hoseok pulls a face and almost makes the effort to smack Yoongi's shoulder, but decides it's too much trouble at the last second. That morning the air conditioning unit in his apartment broke down for the fourth time this summer alone and making any unnecessary movements only serves to make him crankier. His thin tank sticks to his sticky, sweaty skin in uncomfortable patches. He should just take it off and go sit in a cold shower for a while.

"My only sister is getting married, you jackass." The annoyance in Hoseok's voice comes out both rougher and louder than he intended, but at this point, he's just shy of too drunk to care. "I'm not bringing some random person I picked up off some website to her wedding." He turns his head to pout at Yoongi, turning up the dial on his cuteness. Yoongi, as ever, remains resistant. Hoseok doesn't understand why it never works on him, but it's been like this ever since they met in his first year of college five years ago. Giving up after only a few moments, Hoseok clicks his tongue against his teeth in frustration and scowls up at the ceiling. "I hate that you're immune to how adorable I am," he grumbles. "I can never get you to do anything I want, it's so unfair." Yoongi laughs out loud at that, and Hoseok smiles despite the disappointment churning in his gut.

They fall back into a comfortable silence, broken by Mickey's soft snores, the humming refrigerator, the electric fans Hoseok bought from a second-hand shop set up on the floor around them, and the couple arguing upstairs. Hoseok lets his eyes shut and imagines melting into the floorboards like an ice cube. Instead, he reaches out blindly until his fingers close around an unopened bottle. It's still cold, and he groans with indecent pleasure when he presses the cold surface against his overheated skin. Yoongi snickers and nudges him with his elbow. Hoseok peeks his eyes open to see Yoongi making a beckoning gesture with his fingers. Heaving a sigh, he hands the beer over and grabs another bottle for himself. This one's nowhere near as cold. Hoseok shakes his head, just his luck.

"Why don't you just ask Hyojin noona?" Yoongi asks, after a few more moments of relative quiet. There is a gentle fizz as he twists off the cap on his beer and he sits up just enough to drink without disturbing Mickey. Aa car door slams outside, sound traveling up four storeys to filter through windows thrown wide in hopes of tempting a non-existent breeze. The air is heavy and very still. Yoongi turns his head to look at Hoseok, the mouth of the bottle tipped against his upper lip. "She'd probably still go with you, you know."

Groaning, Hoseok covers his face with his hands. "No," he mutters. "That would just bring back so many complicated feelings. It's over, and it's good that it's over, hyung." His hands are too hot and he drops them back to the floor. "She's happy with Solji noona. I don't want to risk screwing that up somehow." With a grunt, he turns over onto his side and shuffles closer to Yoongi, despite the heat rolling off his body in waves. Sweat glistens at Yoongi's temples, his shirt plastered to his skinny chest. Hoseok knows down to the marrow of his bones that he would have a good time with Yoongi at this wedding. He always has a good time with Yoongi. Yoongi is the only person in the world that could make him forget that six months ago, Hoseok thought he'd be sending out wedding invitations of his own by now. He needs Yoongi to be there.

"Come on, hyung," he wheedles. "Yeah, you'll have to wear a stuffy suit and tie in the middle of August, and the music is gonna suck — but, get this." His most winning, customer service smile stretches across his face. Yoongi's lips twitch into a tired, pale imitation in response, like he can't even help it. "Free food and booze. Also?" Hoseok's grin curves into something more genuine as he practically feels Yoongi's resolve starting to crumble. "My sister's cute, single friends will be there, and they'll think you're a catch. I can bet at least one of them will want to hook up with you in a coat closet if you're into that." Yoongi closes his eyes and turns his head away with a groaned laugh. Hoseok shuffles in even closer to rest his chin on Yoongi's shoulder. "Help me, hyung," he says, in his lowest, huskiest voice. "You're my only hope."

Yoongi reaches up to cover Hoseok's entire face with his hand before pushing him away with a disbelieving snort of laughter. "Fuck off, fine," he says, and Hoseok does a ridiculous victory shimmy on the floor. "It better be fucking good booze," Yoongi mutters, "better than the shit you buy."