Yoongi can still taste their first kiss long after it happens. It’s all he writes about for months. But of all that he writes, the most fitting words of all were it tasted like I’d swallowed a million butterflies. They would not be still in my stomach.
“Is this just a nice way to say my breath tasted like a bug?” Hoseok asks, eyes scanning the scruffy piece of paper Yoongi had written on earlier. It’s barely a first draft, barely anything at all but Yoongi wanted to catch the words before they got away and an old receipt was all he had on hand at the time. Hoseok insisted on reading it, as he always insists on reading everything Yoongi writes even when it’s barely formed and ugly, because if you’re writing about me, I need to make sure you’re only saying nice things.
With all his apprehension swallowed and forgotten, Yoongi says “No, it’s a nice way of saying your breath tasted like a million bugs."
Hoseok laughs, even if it’s while he’s trying to flick Yoongi’s ear.
It’s going on 3 in the morning and Yoongi’s awake despite the ache in his temples and the way his eyes don’t want to stay open. He’s come to sit outside where the night air can lull him, curl around him like a blanket, its familiar smell comforting him like an old friend. There’s a chill in the air tonight, just sharp enough to keep his attention here; present. He can smell flowers when the wind blows. It feels out of place.
There are a dozen lights hung around his garden; little lighthouses in the distance. They don’t provide enough light to see, just to be seen. Hoseok picked them out; said if he wasn’t going to plant flowers, he needed something to brighten up his garden. Yoongi likes them though. They’re pretty, and if he squints hard enough he can pretend they’re stars.
Goosebumps ripple all over Yoongi’s skin as a cold breeze cuts through him. A cat cries somewhere far away. Yoongi holds his breath.
“What are you doing? You’re gonna catch a cold.”
Hoseok’s presence doesn’t surprise Yoongi. He looks barely conscious, with a blanket pulled around his shoulders, his eyes squinting to make out Yoongi’s figure in the dull light. Yoongi lets out his breath.
“You have to be up in a few hours, go back to bed.”
“You were gone. Didn’t know where you were. The bed was cold. Besides I’m not just gonna leave you out here. You might die of hypothermia.” Hoseok mumbles, petulant and barely making sense. He offers Yoongi his hand and pouts when Yoongi doesn’t take it, so he does, just to appease him. He didn’t realise how cold his hands were.
“I can’t be inside right now.” Yoongi says, trusting the veil of night to hide the shame on his face. He drops his eyes anyway.
“You’ll never get over your writer’s block if you’re exhausted. Just come in and get a few hours’ sleep, yeah?”
“Can’t sleep. That’s why I’m out here.”
“Don’t. Whatever you were going to say, just don’t.” After a beat, Hoseok’s warm hand slips out of Yoongi’s and he hears him pad back inside. Yoongi feels the guilt form in his stomach when he’s left alone again in the quiet of night. There’s a single bird chirping in the distance, cars somewhere even further away. It’s quiet, but the night is not empty.
There’s a dull ache behind Yoongi’s eyes, and he’s not sure why but it’s driving him crazy. The lack of sleep, the writer’s block, the cold, the loneliness. He feels like there’s a giant hole in the middle of his chest that he needs to fill, but nothing fits right. Nothing appeases his emptiness. He’s starting to feel like a mad man, a lunatic.
Suddenly there’s a weight on his back and he looks up to see Hoseok tucking a thick blanket around his shoulders, wrapping it around his body to cover him. He then takes Yoongi’s hand within his own and places a hand warmer in it, curls both their hands into a fist with his on top.
“If you insist on sitting out here, at least be sensible. You really will get sick, especially if you’re not sleeping.” Hoseok unwraps his hand from Yoongi’s and tucks it back inside the blanket. “I wish you would come inside and at least try to sleep but you’re a grown man and I’m not going to force you. Just… stay warm. Maybe go make yourself some tea. Don’t think too much or you’ll drive yourself crazy. And please come and wake me up if you need anything, ok?”
The concern on Hoseok’s features overwhelms Yoongi, but more than that he’s in awe. He’s always in awe of Hoseok, with his arms loose around Yoongi to give him the freedom he needs, but tight enough to remind him he cares. Enough to fill the hole in his chest. “I love you.”
Yoongi suddenly realises how cold it is. Hoseok puts his fingers into Yoongi’s hair.
“I love you too.” His hand reaches behind Yoongi’s head to grab the blanket and pull it up like a hood. He smiles, Yoongi can feel it when he kisses the crown of his head before going back inside.
The pages of his notebook are stingingly cold, and it’s too dark to see what he’s writing, but suddenly he writes.
Today the moon shines brighter on the blank spot in my memories
It swallowed me, this lunatic
Please save me tonight
Hoseok is inside, in his bed, sleeping soundly just like he always is. Just like he always does. He has become as familiar as the night to Yoongi, except he’s so much warmer, so much brighter. Like a lighthouse in the distance and Yoongi’s a sailor lost at sea.
Within this childish madness
You will save me tonight
Spring comes around in between a dozen downpours. It brings the trees back to life and coaxes the flowers into blooming again. The air starts smelling like pollen and cut grass, and the sun is shining just enough to keep you warm without a jacket.
Yoongi has never been more content.
There’s a nature reserve Yoongi loves that’s just a little too far away from where he lives to be convenient, but it’s quiet and unrefined and Yoongi likes it too much to mind the journey. Here, grass grows long and branches from trees reach out and obstruct the path as if to say this place is not for you or I was here first. He figures we all need to be reminded sometimes.
Yoongi walks a path of trodden grass that leads him up, down, up as the earth rises and falls in hills. At the top of the tallest hill he stops and looks around. He sees buildings and roads – a city – but beyond that, more hills. Beyond that, infinity.
In a far corner there’s a tiny lake that’s shaded over by trees for most of the day. The water is always calm, always still until the ducks return. Yoongi’s never seen any fish in the lake, but today he sees tadpoles, hundreds of them perfectly black like droplets of ink that fell in the water and started wriggling their way through the algae. Yoongi sits on the shallow bank and watches for a while.
When Hoseok’s text comes through it feels like a violation of the peace, even if Yoongi’s phone is on silent. He feels like he should apologise to the silence for disturbing it.
I happened to mention your name in a conversation with one of my dance students who is apparently really into poetry and she lost her mind
She was so excited it made me excited too I felt like I had a famous friend
I can’t believe you’re dropping my name in conversations to make your students like you
First of all that wasn’t what I was doing and secondly my students like me ANYWAY
If I was gonna name drop someone don’t you think I’d choose someone more famous? :/
Do you know anyone more famous?
That’s beside the point so listen how do you feel about helping me become the best dance teacher in the world?
Yoongi laughs, and it’s light enough to float above the tree tops.
I thought you students like you ANYWAY
They do but I want to be the best :/
What does she want?
Nothing but I thought I would surprise her with a hand written copy of her favourite poem from her favourite poet :-)
If you’re not too busy being famous that is :-)
Fuck off. What’s her favourite poem?
Tree Bones ? I think that’s what it’s called
You don’t even know the name? You’re a bad teacher AND a bad friend
Anyway I’ll write a copy remind me to give it to you next time I see you
…so I got the name right
Anyway thank you Yoongi I really really owe you <3
Yoongi slips his phone back into his pocket with a smile and pulls out his notebook instead. He turns to a fresh page somewhere in the back, one he can pull out, that doesn’t have the skeleton of a poem scribbled somewhere on it. He writes the title at the top of the page, then writes the first line. He knows it by heart. It’s his favourite poem too.
I am born now, and I will do this without you.
I pricked my fingers on all these roses I picked for you.
Don’t mind the blood stains on the leaves.
Yoongi doesn’t know what to say most of the time, but he always has the right words; that’s how Hoseok sees it. How a person could have so much to say and yet say so little he didn’t get at first, but now Hoseok knows Yoongi’s just careful. When you place such a value on every word you say, you stop throwing them around so carelessly.
Words have a price, Yoongi told him, but that price depends on a lot of things. Things like the words used and which order they’re used in and who wrote them. Sometimes that adds up to a lot, and sometimes that adds up to nothing, but words are never valueless. Even if they’re worth nothing, even if the price is zero, they still have value.
"Monetary price and like, sentimental value for example have no correlation,” Hoseok says, expanding on the thought Yoongi planted. He likes doing that; taking what Yoongi starts and finishing it himself just to see if their line of thought was going the same way. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. Hoseok doesn’t mind it either way. “I mean, you could have two plates in front of you - one chipped and old, the other silver and intricate and expensive - and if you were forced to choose just one, you might pick the old plate.”
Yoongi hums. “Why would they pick that over the more expensive plate?” Hoseok shrugs.
“Who knows? Maybe they ate their first meal from that very plate. Or maybe it belonged to their grandmother. Or maybe they just thought it had character.” He shrugs again. “People can be surprising.”
“You’d make a good writer if you put your mind to it.” Hoseok looks up to see Yoongi staring at him, lips curved the slightest bit. He laughs.
“Thanks, but I think I’ll let you do the writing and I’ll stick to dancing.” Hoseok drops his head into his palm. “My spelling is terrible.”
“I’ll let you borrow my dictionary.”
When Yoongi leaves Hoseok’s apartment that night, Hoseok doesn’t hear from Yoongi three days. He knows, without having to be told, that Yoongi is off somewhere writing, because if he was busy with anything else he would have called just to say hello or ask Hoseok how his day was or to tell him about the old woman he met on the train who said she was a witch. Yoongi doesn’t disappear like this unless he has something to write, something inside of him that’s urgent, that he needs to get down on paper but it needs to be right too, which is why it can take so long sometimes. Sometimes the right words are really hard to find. But Yoongi always finds them eventually and Hoseok knows until then it’s best not to disturb him.
Hoseok wakes up on the fourth morning to a messy bouquet of wild, hand-picked flowers on his kitchen counter. The bouquet is tied by a piece of frayed string with a note tucked behind the knot.
'Sorry I’ve been AWOL. You got me thinking, which got me writing. I hope you like these flowers. They don’t have much monetary value, but I think they have character. Text me when you’re not busy – Yoongi
P.S. Dawn was really beautiful today. Reminded me of you. Made me miss you a little bit less. xo'
Hoseok brings out his old vase to put the flowers in. It’s old and chipped and doesn’t match any of his other furniture, but the flowers fit in it perfectly.
“What do you do for a living?”
It’s cold by the river, with chilly wind stinging their ears and whipping their hair away from their faces. There is no hiding here.
“I’m a dance teacher.” The giddy sparkle in Yoongi’s eyes is half hidden by his eyelashes, but Hoseok still catches it. “What?”
“Nothing. I don’t know.” And Yoongi’s face cracks into a smile, though for one reason or another, Hoseok can’t find it within himself to be mad. “I don’t know what I was expecting you to say but that… that really wasn’t it.” He’s still smiling slightly when he asks “What kind of dance do you teach?”
“Street dance, hip hop- why are you laughing?”
Yoongi finally laughs aloud, though he hides his face behind the collar of his jacket. “I don’t know, I don’t know. I just never expected that to be what you said.”
Hoseok pouts, trying not to take it personally. “Is the idea of me dancing really that funny?”
“No no, that’s not what I meant. It’s just- it’s not every day you meet a dance teacher and it really caught me off guard.”
Hoseok shakes his head a little. “I’m a dance teacher Yoongi, not a clown.”
“I think I would have been less surprised if you had said you were a clown.” Yoongi sobers a little, though he doesn’t let the pointed sour look on Hoseok’s face deter him from his questions. “So you’re a street dance teacher. What experience level do you teach?”
Hoseok almost feels like it’s a trick question, and eyes Yoongi warily. “Beginning through to advanced.”
“Do you have your own school?” He seems genuinely interested now, and Hoseok relaxes a little.
“No, but I’m self-employed.” Yoongi’s patting himself down for his cigarettes but he’s nodding to indicate he’s still listening. “I just rent out a local dance hall for a few hours a week to host my classes in. I make enough money to keep my classes going and keep a roof over my head and food in my stomach so I can’t complain.”
“Do you enjoy it? Being a dance teacher?”
Yoongi’s pulled out a cigarette and is holding it between his lips, but his lighter won’t catch in the wind. Hoseok watches him spark it over and over. Yoongi looks over at Hoseok when he doesn’t answer the question. “What was your dream when you were a kid?”
“I wanted to be a dancer.”
“So how come you’re a teacher instead?”
Hoseok looks out across the river. There’s a little fishing boat rocking in the wind. Hoseok wonders what they’re doing so far inland. “Got an injury when I was 20. They told me I’d make a full recovery but that the lasting damage would mean I’d never be able to dance professionally.”
“I’m sorry.” Hoseok shrugs. He can see the way Yoongi’s looking at him out of the corner of his eye.
“It was a dark time. I’d sacrificed everything for dancing, y’know? I never really studied at school, I didn’t go to university, didn’t have any friends outside of my dance crew. I’d literally hung everything I had on this one hook and then the hook snapped off and everything I had hung on it fell. And I didn’t have anything anymore.”
Hoseok hears Yoongi trying to light his cigarette again. “How did you deal with it?”
“I didn’t for the first few years. Just… felt sorry for myself and spent a lot of time moping. But then I sort of came to the realization that just because I couldn’t dance professionally didn’t mean I couldn’t dance at all. I mean, I was recovered, I just couldn’t make a living out of it. So I went back into training to build all my skills and strength back up. It was hard at first, because it was kind of like I was practising and working so hard for no reason, but I got past that eventually. I remembered how much I just liked dancing, just as it is, y’know? No agenda.” Yoongi nods thoughtfully. “Of course, by the time I’d got back into training a lot of the people who I remembered being around had moved on, and there were a lot of young faces at the studio; a lot younger than me. And I don’t know how or why, but a lot of seemed to trust me without me really having to do anything. It was almost as if they looked up to me, you know? Maybe it’s just because I was older. They used to come to me and say ‘Hoseok, help me with my form!’ or ‘Hoseok, show me how to do that move you did earlier!’”
“And you helped them?”
“Of course I did.” There’s a look on Hoseok’s face that’s saying what a ridiculous question. Of course he helped them. Of course. “And once you help one, you have to help them all. And it got to the point where I was spending less time doing my own practise and more time helping the kids out with their practise that I started thinking ‘I should be getting paid for this’.” Hoseok makes a gesture with his hand as if to say here we are. “It’s fun. It’s hard work, especially doing everything myself, but I love it. The kids are so passionate. And watching them improve and learn is really rewarding.”
“That’s sweet.” The look on Yoongi’s face makes Hoseok suddenly feel a little self-conscious. It wasn’t five minutes ago he was laughing at Hoseok for his job, and now he thinks it’s sweet?
“It wasn’t my first choice, but in hindsight it’s just what I needed. My kids work hard. They motivate me to get out of bed every morning y’know? They’d kick my ass if I missed a class.”
Yoongi smiles. “It’s funny how things work out, isn’t it?” Hoseok hums. Yoongi turns back to his lighter, sparks it once, twice. It finally lights. “It’s not everyday day you meet a dance teacher.”
“It’s not every day you meet a poet with a nicotine addiction either.” Hoseok teases, wanting to lift the conversation a little.
“Actually, I would argue most poets have a nicotine addiction, if not something stronger.”
“Are you saying you’re just a run-of-the-mill poet? You’re not even unique in your self-destructive habits?”
Yoongi smiles around a cloud of smoke. “Afraid not.”
Hoseok huffs a sigh, looking out across the water. “Oh well. Guess we can’t have it all.”
Yoongi’s laugh lingers for a while.
Yoongi sits in the back of the dance studio with his notebook in his lap. He likes the way he can feel the floor vibrate beneath him when a dozen kids all stomp their feet in unison. It makes him feel like he’s a part of something bigger than he is.
The class is going through one last run through of the whole routine with Hoseok at the helm when Yoongi finally picks up his pencil to write.
Cracked-soles warm-up-stretches muscle-ache boy
Growing pains boy
Drum beat boy
The hall is empty when Yoongi looks up again. Hoseok is sat in front of the mirrors putting his things into his bag.
“Why’re you so quiet?” Hoseok jumps when Yoongi speaks; spooks like a cat then smiles.
“Didn’t want to disturb your concentration.” He zips his bag up. “What were you writing about?”
Hoseok’s smile widens but he rolls his eyes. “You need to find a new muse.”
“Why would I when I have the perfect muse right in front of me?” Yoongi asks, giving Hoseok obnoxious heart eyes.
“Flattery will get you nowhere.”
“Flattery will get me everywhere.” Yoongi holds his hands out, Hoseok pulls him up. “How do you feel about lunch?”
“I feel like you’re buying.”
“I feel like you’re wrong.”
“I feel like 90% of your poems can be attributed to me so I feel like you owe me.”
Yoongi tuts. “I need to learn to keep my mouth shut. All this poetry is going to your head.” Hoseok laughs so brightly.
“Never.” Hoseok throws his arm around Yoongi’s shoulder. “So where are you taking me for lunch?”
“Dating a writer must be romantic.”
“It's not.” Yoongi’s response is instantaneous; there’s no need for him to think about it. “Writers are sporadic and over emotional, especially poets. Actually, artists in general. At least those who are really committed. We're unreliable and selfish.”
“I used to date a guy who was trying to make it as a song writer who once stopped in the middle of sex to write down a riff he just thought of. Just stopped, got up and went looking for a pen. So I know first-hand how insufferable we are.” Yoongi’s eyes are wide, palms open towards him. “And the worst part is as much as it annoyed me, I would have done the same thing.” Yoongi twiddles his pen, shaking his head at himself as he turns his attention back to the notes scribbled in his notebook. Hoseok laughs quietly.
“Ok so you’re hard work, but you must feel so deeply.”
Again, Yoongi doesn't need to think, doesn't even look up from his notebook this time. Emotions just under the surface, so close- “Never about the right things. Never at the right time.”
“You're telling me if I were to date you - as a writer - you would have no redeeming qualities? That the bad would outweigh the good?”
Cut me open- Yoongi’s pen stops at that, genuinely thinking about it. “I guess there's always the chance that I'd write a poem about you, but I couldn’t promise it. Nor could I promise you would necessarily like what I had to say in a poem about you.”
“Wow,” Hoseok tucks his legs under himself, “you're really selling it to me.” Yoongi giggles, tipping his head back. Hoseok thinks about how comfortable Yoongi’s couch is. Probably more comfortable than his own bed.
“Listen, if you were to date a professional athlete you'd have to accept that they'd spend a lot of time training and travelling and would probably refuse to sit at home all weekend eating ice cream with you.” He shrugs. “Everyone has their pros and cons.”
“So what are your pros?”
“I am willing sit at home all weekend eating ice cream with you. I just might pull my notebook out half way through a conversation because I had an idea.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad.”
Yoongi shrugs. “Plus there's always the chance of art being created in your honour, but I promise, that isn't as romantic as it sounds.”
Hoseok sits up a little straighter. “No?”
“No. I'd much rather someone just made me a nice meal to show me they care rather than a poem or a painting. When it comes down to it, those things aren’t worth much.”
Hoseok crosses his arms on the arm of the couch, rests his head on top of them. “You take your art for granted.” Yoongi half-shrugs.
“Maybe. But I'm just being honest.”
Silence settles between them while Hoseok thinks and Yoongi goes back to writing. He crosses out his last line. Writes instead place your hand on my skin so you can feel it.
After a while, Hoseok says “Y’know, I make decent lasagne if you were serious about appreciating a nice meal.” That’s all it takes for Hoseok to have Yoongi’s full attention. Yoongi blinks then nods, soft smile on his face.
“And I write mediocre poetry if you really want to know what all the fuss is about.” Hoseok beams.
“Decent lasagne and mediocre poetry. Sounds like a match made in heaven.”
Something sparks in Yoongi’s eyes. “It's a date then.”
And they both laugh like they don’t mean it, like their hearts aren’t doing overtime in their chests. They just laugh and hope the other has the courage to bring it up again.
Hoseok’s sitting in the archway of Yoongi’s living room window when he falls in love with him; silhouetted by the headlights of a passing car, smoking one of Yoongi’s cigarettes with the window cracked. Yoongi sees him as nothing more than a black shadow against white light and he falls in love with him there. In the simplest of forms.
Hoseok doesn’t know Yoongi’s there in the room with him, and Yoongi doesn’t want him to know. He doesn’t want to break the silence. It feels too fragile. So Yoongi leaves.
Hoseok comes back to bed eventually. He doesn’t bother brushing his teeth to get the nicotine off of his breath, but its ok because Yoongi doesn’t ask. Doesn’t ask why he’s shaking either. Just makes room for him in the bed.
The next day Yoongi sees Hoseok’s silhouette every time he blinks. He spends the next 4 days writing about shadow puppets.
Hoseok never smokes again.
Running late is Hoseok’s specialty, it seems. He spent his whole life three steps behind everyone else because he spent too long staring at the flowers or counting the stars. It never used to bother him, but it seems like the older he gets the more impossible it seems to be able to catch up.
Five in the morning is a different world, a lonelier world. The sun’s coming up but it’s not quite bright enough yet so the lights are left on. The birds are awake and singing but their songs will be over before most people wake up. Time flows differently at five in the morning, and Hoseok is a different person too. A person who hasn’t been left behind yet.
He’s here because he couldn’t sleep, and coffee sounded like a good idea, though the fact that he had to travel half way across the city to get one when there’s dozens of coffee shops between here and there makes him a little bit bitter. Apparently people on his side of town don’t need coffee before 7am.
He has a class at 11, then again at 2 and though Hoseok would rather spend the day in bed pretending to sleep than teaching a hall full of rambunctious kids the fundamentals of isolation, he’ll still go. Still teach his classes, still smile at all the little victories.
God, he’s so tired.
Hoseok’s thinking about not thinking when the dead eyed waitress places another coffee onto his table. He opens his mouth to say that he didn’t order another coffee, but the waitress says “Compliments of that guy over there,” before Hoseok can say anything at all and gestures with her chin to a bleach blonde man sitting near the window, scribbling into a notebook. Hoseok hadn’t even noticed him.
The waitress is gone before Hoseok can ask her to thank the guy on his behalf. Hoseok watches him for a moment, hoping to catch his eye but he doesn’t look up to acknowledge Hoseok or check that the coffee got delivered. Hoseok taps the mug with his fingernails.
He waits for a break in the guy’s concentration, for him to put his pen down or stop to drink or to just look up for a moment so Hoseok can mouth ‘thanks’ across the room but it never comes. He just keeps writing and the waitress finishes her shift and the sun comes up. The cafe slowly gets busier. Hoseok has no coffee left and he wants to catch the train before it gets too crowded so he forces himself to get up and walks over to the guy’s table and says “Thanks for the coffee” even though the guy didn’t even look up and acknowledge Hoseok standing there.
When he hears Hoseok’s voice he finally looks up. Looks around like he’s not entirely sure where he is. “Oh,” he says, and then “you looked like you needed it.”
Hoseok lets out a laugh like a breath, too tired to be offended. “That obvious?” The guy hums.
“Would you like another?”
It’s bizarre, because the guy’s writing again and it’s obvious he doesn’t care one way or the other whether Hoseok has coffee with him, and it’s even more strange that Hoseok wants to say ‘sure’ and sit down at his table and ask this stranger what he’s writing and why exactly he felt the need to buy him a coffee. But Hoseok does the predictable, safe thing and says “Actually I have to get going.”
The man hums again. “Do you live around here?”
Hoseok blinks. “Uh… No?”
“So it’s unlikely that we’ll run into each other again?” Hoseok frowns to himself, confused and slightly uneasy and the sudden turn in conversation.
The guy finally stops writing and seems to think for a moment, before tearing a corner of one of the pages of his notebook off and starts writing on it.
“This is going to sound really strange, I know, but you have a very interesting, very inspiring face and if it’s not too weird or uncomfortable for you I’d like to get coffee with you again sometime. And by again I mean sitting at the same table, not on opposite sides of the room.” He hands Hoseok the torn off piece of paper. He must see the confusion on Hoseok’s face because he quickly adds “I should probably clarify that I’m a writer – like, professionally - and I was struggling with major writer’s block until you turned up so.” He shrugs. “I owe you.”
Hoseok looks at the note. It says weird coffee shop guy/Yoongi with a number scribbled underneath it. For a writer, he sure has bad handwriting. “I’m glad I could help, Yoongi.” They smile politely at each other, Yoongi gestures to the note.
“No pressure. Just… if you’re ever in the area again, y’know.”
Hoseok nods to himself. “I’m Hoseok by the way.”
Yoongi smiles. “Hoseok,” he repeats.
Hoseok takes a step back, holds the note up. “If I’m ever around, I’ll call you.”
Yoongi picks his pen back up. “Ok.”
Hoseok leaves just as the sun breaks over the top of the buildings.
Hoseok calls Yoongi at four in the morning four days later, when insomnia is eating him alive and everything but his ability to make rational decisions is wide awake.
Yoongi picks up on the third ring with a gruff “Hello?” He wasn’t sleeping, Hoseok can tell that much, but he doesn’t sound impressed either.
“Hi,” Hoseok says, with not even an ounce of shame. He doesn’t have the energy to be embarrassed. “It’s Hoseok, from the coffee shop. You brought me coffee the other day at like 6am?”
There’s some rustling on the other end while Hoseok realises that that wasn’t a very good explanation as to why he’s calling a stranger at four in the morning.
“I’ve gotta say I didn’t really expect you to call, let alone at a time like this.” Yoongi finally says, all movement on his end quieting.
“I didn’t expect me to call either.” Hoseok confesses, eyes slipping shut as Yoongi hums, low and gravelly at the end of the phone line.
“Then why did you?”
“Sleep deprivation.” Hoseok tells him simply. Yoongi chuckles. “Boredom. And a little bit of curiosity.”
“Curiosity about what?”
“The odd man who brought me a coffee because I apparently have an interesting face that inspired him to write.” Yoongi hums again, slightly higher than before. He seems to like to do that. “No one has ever told me my face is interesting before.”
“Well, interesting is a relative term.”
“You really are a writer.” Hoseok smiles to himself.
Yoongi scoffs. “I wasn’t lying.”
“So what were you writing, then?”
“When we met at the cafe the other day, what were you writing? Was it about me?”
There’s a pause, then quiet laughter. Hoseok finds himself smiling into the dark.
“Y’know, Hoseok, it’s not every day that I have random boys calling my phone at four in the morning asking me if I’ve written about them.”
“Yeah well it’s not every day I call random boys at four in the morning to ask if they’ve written about me, but here we both are.” Yoongi hums again. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“What I was writing about when we met?” Hoseok hums this time. “I was writing about how the tired sun went to a coffee shop for his morning coffee before he had to rise and brighten the day at dawn.” He takes breath. “See, a lot of people don’t know the sun is an insomniac. Needs a lot of caffeine to get through each day.”
Hoseok forces his eyes open. His eyelids are so heavy. “Sounds familiar.”
“You don’t see very many types of people in a cafe at five in the morning. There’s the insomniacs and the tortured artists and maybe the occasional super early bird office worker. So seeing the sun walk through those doors is pretty memorable. Especially when you realise he’s just another insomniac.”
Dawn is making the room start to lighten in front of Hoseok’s eyes, and he feels like he’s lightening too. “Sounds like I really did inspire you. I guess you do owe me a coffee.”
“As long as we don’t have to have this one before dawn.”
Hoseok makes a disappointed noise as he sinks into the sofa, but he’s smiling when he says. “If you insist.”
With tongues burned from hot coffee and their eyes still sticky from sleep, their first fight happens. Yoongi’s on day five of his particularly viscous bout of writer’s block, and Hoseok’s star dancer has been taken down by a nasty sprained ankle less than a week before their upcoming performance. Stress has its long fingers wrapped around both of their throats. It was only a matter of time before the pressure became too much.
Yoongi’s eyes are red rimmed, sleep evading him ever since day three of his writer’s block. Even caffeine barely touches his massive energy deficit. He listens to Hoseok talk but doesn’t hear any of it and it must be obvious because that, evidently, is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
“You’re so fucking selfish, do you know that?” And it’s Hoseok’s cursing that finally catches Yoongi’s ear, like broken glass dropped into a jar of honey. “I tried to be understanding, Yoongi, I really did. But your tortured artist act is really getting old.”
Yoongi blinks once, twice. “What are you talking about?”
“You, sitting there like you’re dead to the world. Like your problems are the be-all-and-end-all of your existence and that nothing anyone else is going through can even compare to your problems. Y’know, God forbid I ever have problems that I need help with because I’m not getting that help from you, am I?”
Yoongi hasn’t yet caught up with the conversation. “Hoseok, what-”
“No, you know what? Whatever.” Hoseok’s standing now, after slamming down his mug. There are two slices of toast is still on his plate, barely touched. “If you don’t want to listen to me when I’m talking to you, that’s fine. If you don’t think anyone else can have problems if you’re having problems, or if you think your problems are more important than mine, that’s fine.” He exaggerates the word fine in a way that makes it clear it’s anything but.
“I never said that.”
“You didn’t have to.” He snaps. The day had barely started; Yoongi hadn’t even had his morning cigarette and suddenly Hoseok is on him like a snake that’s been in the grass for hours waiting to strike. “You know, I thought a big part of this relationship thing was communicating and helping each other when they needed it but I guess that only applies when it’s you on the receiving end.”
“Hoseok, you’re being irrational.” Yoongi says, finally starting to catch up, finally starting to fight back.
“No, I think I’m being the opposite, actually. You just sit here with your woe-is-me attitude and don’t worry about me. I’ll figure things out on my own, just like I always have.”
When Yoongi hears the bedroom door slam, he knows better than to follow. When he hears the front door slam, he isn’t given a choice.
With almost five days of no sleep, a week of no writing and no word from Hoseok since their argument weighing on him, each making the others worse, Yoongi finds himself outside a hospital. He has no reason to be here, nor any intentions of going inside, but he wanted to show himself that it could be worse. Instead, all he seems to see are a dozen pregnant women with their miniature suitcases and a hand on their bellies, glowing in the way only a new mother glows. It offers Yoongi little comfort.
He’d been sitting there for no more than five minutes and two ambulances have already packed up and shipped off, with a third being prepared for a man in a hospital bed. He’s wheeled out of the main entrance by two orderlies. A man Yoongi presumes is his son follows two feet behind the stretcher, carrying three bags and a coat. Yoongi watches them until his eyes dry out. When he looks back, the ambulance is already gone.
An old woman sits down on the bench with him without a word – bleached blonde and wearing dirty gold. She introduces herself by saying I almost died in this hospital.
“Aneurysm. My husband thought I had food poisoning. A few more hours and I wouldn’t have made it.” She’s smoking languidly but makes sure Yoongi knows her attention is fully on him. “What are you here for?”
“Don’t know. I haven’t slept in five days.”
She makes a knowing sound around her cigarette. “Knock back a few whiskeys and you’ll be out like a light.”
A smile ghosts Yoongi’s lips. “I wish.”
She takes another pull of her cigarette. “You could always get someone to hit you over the head with something. Knock you straight out.”
“Don’t tempt me.”
“My husband’s here to have his cancer examined by a group of student doctors who might just save your life one day. We all have to start somewhere, I guess, and we get a free lunch so he doesn’t mind. Why are you here?” She asks again.
“I don’t know.” He has no other answer to give.
She stamps her cigarette out as she stands. “Go home. Hospitals are for the sick and dying, and you’re neither.” And without another word she’s gone.
Yoongi thinks it could be worse. And he goes home.
Even though they haven’t spoken in a week, Yoongi goes to Hoseok’s kids’ show. He sits all the way in the back, far away from the stage where it’s dark, where Hoseok can’t see him.
Despite the main dancer having to be pulled out less than five days before, the showcase is amazing. All the kids are beaming when they come onstage at the end to take their bows, but Hoseok is the easily brightest one up there. Yoongi’s never been prouder, and it’s never been more bittersweet.
“I think I overreacted,” is what Hoseok says walking into Yoongi’s house at eleven at night. Yoongi is sitting at his dining room table in nothing but a pair of pyjama pants, a shot of whiskey in one hand and a mechanical pencil in the other. He’d taken the old woman’s advice to heart. His exhaustion was driving him insane. The alcohol makes him a little less shocked by Hoseok’s sudden presence in his home.
“About you being selfish.” Neither of them move; Yoongi sat at the table, Hoseok standing in the doorway. “I mean you were selfish, but thinking about it, maybe I was too. We both were having problems but we just festered on them alone instead of trying to help each other.”
Yoongi wishes he was a little bit more sober for this conversation. He nods. Hoseok takes a step further into the room.
“I was so stressed and you pissed me off and I just snapped.” Hoseok somehow looks shy and fierce at the same time. It makes Yoongi’s chest warm. “Don’t get me wrong, being completely ignored like that is one of the most irritating things I’ve ever experienced-”
“I wasn’t ignoring you-”
“But I overreacted. I shouldn’t have taken everything out on you like that.”
Yoongi shrugs like it’s no big deal. “Water off a duck’s back.” He says, voice husky with alcohol and exhaustion.
Hoseok fiddles with his keys. “I don’t really think you only care about your own problems.”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me.”
A tight silence follows. Hoseok takes another step into the room, surer this time. “The performance went really well, despite everything.” His smile is proud; he still looks so excited.
“I know.” Yoongi says. Hoseok frowns in confusion. “I was there.”
Hoseok looks surprised, then he seems to go soft. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Didn’t want to ruin your big night if seeing me was just going to piss you off.” Hoseok looks mildly guilty, but Yoongi smiles at him. “The kids were incredible, even with all the last minute changes they would have had to do. I’m so proud of you.”
Hoseok shrugs coyly. “It was all their hard work.”
“But they couldn’t have done it without you. You worked just as hard as them, if not harder. Congratulations, Hoseok.”
Hoseok smiles, big and confident now. “Can we stop being mad at each other now?”
Yoongi reaches out his hand and offers it to Hoseok. “I was never mad at you anyway.”
Hoseok had to learn how to sleep in Yoongi’s bed. Fold the pillow over because every pillow in Yoongi’s house is thin as paper. Be aware of the gap in the curtains because at certain angles you’ll have nothing but an eyeful of orange light from the old street lamps. Share the blanket. Remember that he doesn’t have the whole bed to himself here. Get used to waking up with Yoongi’s leg tossed over his hips, trapping him to the bed.
He gets used to the weight of it surprisingly fast.
Mornings in Yoongi’s house either happen obnoxiously early or not at all. Either there’s orange juice and coffee and cereal and toast and fresh fruit or there’s nothing but mouldy bread and half a block of cheese. Either Yoongi’s ready for the world that day or he isn’t, and Hoseok kind of likes not knowing what the day has in store for him. It keeps him on his toes.
Today is somewhere in between. Yoongi has instant coffee but the milk has gone bad so they have to drink it black. Yoongi’s sitting on a dining chair with his feet pulled up as he chews on his thumbnail while his coffee cools.
“You’re like a stereotypical starving artist.” Hoseok comments from the doorway. “Dark eyes, black coffee, all curled in on yourself, biting on your nails. The only way you could be more cliché is if you were smoking a cigarette.” Yoongi smiles behind his thumb.
“Are you disappointed? Or are you into it?”
“I’m not not into it.” Hoseok shrugs, sitting down. “What are you up to today?”
“Meeting Namjoon for lunch. I’m sure he has lots of forms for me to sign. Very exciting.” Yoongi reaches across the dining table for a pack of cigarette. Hoseok pointedly rolls his eyes to which Yoongi smiles. “What about you?”
“Well I’m not having lunch with my agent so my day’s nowhere near as exciting as yours.” Yoongi kicks him under the table. “No, I just have one class today, since it’s exam time for the older kids. But apart from that, nothing much.”
Yoongi hums, lights his cigarette and reaches for his coffee. “Sounds more interesting than my day.” He brings the mug to his lips but stops short. “Hey, if you have nothing planned later this afternoon, do you want to come shopping with me?”
“Sure. What are you buying?”
“New pillows.” Hoseok’s eyebrows raise in question. He has to wait for Yoongi to swallow his coffee before he gets an explanation. “You keep folding mine in half and it’s driving me crazy so I’m just going to buy you your own. You can pick.” Hoseok isn’t given the opportunity to think about the depth of that gesture because Yoongi isn’t finished. “Plus I need to buy a new spare toothbrush since you’ve used the one I have so often we might as well call it yours and be done with it.”
“Next you’re gonna be offering me a drawer and my own key.” Hoseok says it like his heart isn’t pounding out of his chest at the thought of it.
“I suppose I could find a drawer for you somewhere but you’re not getting a key. You’d be too unpredictable with it. I would wake up one day to find you’d redecorated my whole place while I was sleeping.” Yoongi’s eyes go unfocused for a second before he shakes his head, like he wants to shake whatever thoughts he’s having away. “No, no key. But your own pillows and a toothbrush and maybe a drawer I can do.” Yoongi’s saying it like it’s normal breakfast conversation, like how sunny it is today or what their plans are. Not like he’s borderline asking Hoseok to move in with him. “Sound good?”
Yoongi makes it all seem so simple. No big deal. Whatever. Just a giant step in their relationship. “Sounds great.”
Yoongi smiles, puts his mug down so he can reach his hand out for Hoseok to take. “Good.”
It takes over a year of them being in a relationship and half a bottle of champagne for Yoongi to tell Hoseok that he can play the piano, and even then he doesn’t actually say anything. He just wanders off while Hoseok is entrenched in a debate about whether the arts are dying with Namjoon.
Namjoon secured Yoongi an amazing book deal for his latest poetry collection. All the contracts were signed today and now its official; Yoongi is going to be one of the youngest people ever to have a poetry collection published by a major publisher. Tonight they’re celebrating.
Hoseok doesn’t even register the piano at first, it’s just gentle background music while Hoseok politely explains that art isn’t dying, it’s just changed forms to adapt to today’s lifestyle and that just because kids aren’t aspiring to be the next Van Gogh or write the next Moonlight Sonata doesn’t mean that they aren’t keeping art alive in their own ways, Namjoon, don’t be so dense.
They’re forced to settle somewhere in the middle otherwise they could argue forever. Namjoon has very classic ideas of what art is and what it isn’t, while Hoseok believes art has no limits and is forever evolving. It’s not until the conversation ends and Namjoon is topping up their glasses that he really notices the music. He didn’t see Namjoon turn the stereo on.
“Where’s the music coming from?” Hoseok asks, reaching for his glass.
Namjoon gestures to the far end of the room where Yoongi is sat at an upright piano (it’s so neatly tucked away in one corner that Hoseok hadn’t even noticed it was there in the first place) with his fingers gently dancing along the keys and his eyes shut. The song that Yoongi’s playing is one Hoseok doesn’t recognise, but he plays it assuredly, knowingly. His fingers don’t falter, not once.
With alcohol dulling his self-consciousness, it takes Yoongi longer than usual to come back to his surroundings and sense the eyes on him, but when he does, he does so abruptly, leaving the melody hanging on an unresolved note.
“What?” Yoongi snaps, looking from accusingly from Hoseok to Namjoon and back.
“You never told me you could play.” Hoseok says. Not knowing something like this doesn’t upset Hoseok, it just makes him curious. Yoongi isn’t really a secretive person.
“I can, it doesn’t mean I do.” Yoongi says, something cold in his words. Resentful. His fingers go back to the keys and he quickly finishes his song mechanically, without the heart of his earlier playing.
“Yoongi doesn’t like playing the piano because the only reason he knows how to play is because his father forced him into lessons as a kid and he’s bitter about it.” Namjoon says, before bringing his champagne flute to his lips. “He hides his skill as an act of rebellion.”
“Thanks Namjoon.” Yoongi’s voice is hard, his gaze is icy. Namjoon shrugs, unfazed.
“You’re too enigmatic. Someone has to interpret for you.”
“Did I ask for an interpreter?” Voices are starting to edge higher, louder. Still, Hoseok can’t bring himself to intervene just yet.
“You asked for an agent, which is pretty similar in my opinion. Hoseok will be old and retired if he waits around for you to stop being so cryptic, so really I’m doing you a favour.” It hits a little below the belt, which is where Hoseok decides to step in.
“Come on Namjoon, that’s a little-”
“I’m always honest about the things that matter.”
There’s something honest and raw in those words that makes everyone in the room fall silent. The atmosphere becomes awkward. Namjoon gaze turns down, into his glass. Yoongi remains at the piano, hands curled into fists in his lap.
“My dad” Hoseok starts, not knowing where his voice suddenly came from but being a little too inebriated to stop it, “never wanted me to dance. Even as a hobby he thought it was a waste of time, but once I started becoming serious about it and wanted to make a career out of it, he told me it was stupid. He thought I was stupid; he said, ‘how are you going to make a career out of dancing? Are you an idiot?’ but I guess I wasn’t so stupid after all.” Hoseok can laugh at the memory now so he does, but he couldn’t then. “We all have things from the past that we’re bitter about, don’t we? And we’re all friends here, so maybe it’s best we don’t start picking at each other’s scabs, hm?”
There’s a few seconds of silence that drag before Namjoon says “I get it now – you two. I didn’t get it before, to be honest. I mean a poet and a dance teacher? How does that work? But Hoseok’s waters run a lot deeper than I thought.”
“You’re an asshole, Namjoon.” Hoseok says it out of pride rather than any real insult, then he downs what’s left in his glass.
“I’m not paid to be nice.”
“You’re not going to be paid at all at this rate.” Yoongi interjects, a hand over his face. “I think you should go easy on the champagne now, Namjoon.”
Namjoon knocks the last of his drink back as an answer, then sighs. “That was the last of the bottle anyway.” He stands, surprisingly sure in his footing. “I’m going to bed. Let yourselves out. Don’t make a mess.” And then he’s wondering out the door, down the hall and up the stairs.
The new silence falls between Hoseok and Yoongi as they both wait for the other to break it first.
“I didn’t know your dad didn’t want you to dance.” Yoongi speaks, voice quiet though it still feels loud. Hoseok shrugs.
“Old news. He’s over it now. I didn’t know your dad forced you to play the piano.”
Yoongi does his best impression of Hoseok’s shrug, though it’s nowhere near as easy or light. “Old news.”
“Will you play something for me?” Hoseok asks, and Yoongi is shocked before looking slightly annoyed.
“I don’t know. Anything.” And then “The prettiest song you know.”
Yoongi’s face softens. He turns back to the piano.
Hoseok always saw Yoongi as something untouchable. He was a poet; therefore he was more than what an average person is. More sensitive, more aware, more of everything in the way only an artist can be. They see things most people can’t see, and therefore their lives – Yoongi’s life – must be different to Hoseok’s; it must be inherently special in a way his isn’t. This was how he viewed Yoongi; he was on a different level, one Hoseok could never reach. No matter how much time they spent together or how normal Yoongi seemed to be, it was always in the back of his mind. We’re not the same.
But then Hoseok gets a text on a Saturday morning that says do u have a hammer and are u any good at building flat pack furniture and he thinks Yoongi’s kind of an idiot.
Hoseok turns up some time around midday with lunch and a hammer and has Yoongi’s new desk built within half an hour.
“Let me thank you,” Yoongi says, swaying idly in his new desk chair. “I’ll buy us some dinner. We'll order in though, I don’t feel like going out.”
“Yoongi, it’s barely 1pm. We just had lunch.”
“Then I guess you’ll just have stick around for a few hours, until dinner time.” There’s something in the way he says it that makes it seem like challenge, like he’s daring Hoseok to stay. “Unless you have other plans?”
“No, I don’t.” It’s the sad truth. Building Yoongi’s desk is the only reason he had to leave the house today.
“Then you’re staying.” Yoongi says and it’s not a question. “In the meantime, coffee?”
They sit in silence for an hour after they finish eating. Yoongi doesn’t like watching the TV (‘I get sucked in too easily, and if I get sucked in I’ll never get any work done’) so the screen remains blank all evening, and once Yoongi takes to writing by the window, Hoseok doesn’t really feel like talking anyway. All he thinks about is how strange it is for him to be where he is right then.
The sun had gone down a while ago. Hoseok had spent nearly all day in Yoongi’s apartment, doing not much of anything. And he should go home, but he has the strangest feeling that he doesn’t need to leave. Not yet.
“Hoseok,” Yoongi interrupts the silence, “can I be honest with you?”
Yoongi taps his pen against his notebook but looks straight at Hoseok. “Sure.”
“I could have built that desk by myself. In fact, I quite like building things. I built that bookshelf” and he points and Hoseok’s eyes follow his finger to a large, wooden, over-filled bookshelf, “from scratch. Sawed the wood and varnished it and everything. I didn’t need you to come over and build that desk for me. To be honest, you actually put a couple of the bolts on backwards and it’s been driving me crazy all day.”
Hoseok frowns, confused. “Then why ask me if I can build it for you?”
“I wanted an excuse to spend time with you. Even if it turned out you were a flat pack champ and it took you like five minute to build my desk, it’s five minute spent with you.” He shrugs. “The fact that I managed to con you into letting me buy you dinner is just a bonus.”
Hoseok is still confused, still frowning to himself. “I was wondering why you asked me to bring you a hammer when you didn’t even need one.” Yoongi drops his head when he laughs. “But then why didn’t you just ask if I wanted to hang out? Why lie?” Yoongi shrugs.
“I didn’t plan on telling you about it but I didn’t like lying. But y’know, now I know for next time.” And just like that he goes back to writing.
Hoseok sits there in the quiet while he lets everything that was just said sink in and realises Yoongi really is so much more than everyone else. But not necessarily in the ways he thought. And now he knows that artist and idiot aren’t mutually exclusive.
Hoseok wakes up too early on a Friday morning, damp with sweat and uncomfortably aware of his breathing. The world outside is still grey; still as quiet as the world can be.
He had a bad dream.
Hoseok has always been someone who had a lot of dreams. Most of the time they’re nonsense, as dreams usually are. Sometimes they’re a little unsettling and others he has often woke with the question what did that mean already in his mouth. But most of the time they’re forgotten by breakfast. Even the ones he wanted to remember.
His mother told him dreams about your teeth falling out mean you’re stressed. Hoseok has those dreams more often than he would like.
But his dream tonight was not a dream about his teeth falling out. This was a dream about his past, and about those in it. And it made him aware how different things are compared to when he was younger; how hopeful and happy he once was. When did he stop being like that? When did life get so bland?
The dream shook him in such a way that he just feels wrong, like he woke up and he didn’t fit in his body properly any more.
When ten minutes have passed and the tension in his chest still hasn’t shifted, Hoseok grabs his phone and taps out a message to Yoongi.
What do you do when you have a bad dream?
It’s barely five in the morning. He guesses he has a 50/50 chance of getting a reply. He hasn’t known Yoongi for very long, but he knows that Yoongi doesn’t work on a schedule. Yoongi is awake when he wants to be awake, works when he wants to work, eats when he wants to eat. Sometimes that’s at normal times, and he’ll have three meals a day and sleep for eight hours at night and work in between, and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes he texts Hoseok at three in the morning asking if he wants to go out for dinner. Sometimes Hoseok will call him at four in the afternoon and Yoongi doesn’t pick up because he’s only just gone to bed.
Hoseok hopes Yoongi’s awake.
Yoongi’s reply comes before long.
Depends. How scary was it?
Wasn’t scary, just not nice
Want to talk about it?
No, Hoseok writes, because the last thing he wants to do is to dwell on it. And then, Do you think dreams have meaning?
Yoongi’s reply comes a little slower this time.
I think they have meaning if you give them meaning.
Hoseok rolls his eyes at his phone.
It’s too early for this
No I’m serious. It’s like asking if palm reading is real or if star signs are accurate. You have to believe in them for them to mean anything. Same with dreams I suppose.
What do u mean
I mean if you think there are symbols or messages or meanings in your dreams then there are, but if you don’t believe it they cease to be there.
Have you been writing tonight?
I can tell
Hoseok thinks the conversation is over when he gets another text.
If you want a literal answer then ok it doesn’t sound too absurd to think that our unconscious brain is trying to give us messages in our sleep via dreams but I also don’t think dreams are signs or prophecies either.
Like it’s more like your brain going ‘you’re lacking this thing on a subconscious level’ than ‘your cousin is pregnant and the baby is a boy and I’m sending you a sign’ if that makes sense
Hoseok smiles to himself.
That actually makes a lot of sense and is way more helpful than what you said before.
Glad I could help. If you still can’t sleep because of this dream put the tv on something boring with the volume low.
On a rare day where Hoseok isn’t on the other side of town teaching classes and Yoongi hasn’t locked himself away in his office, they spend the day in the park.
Hoseok likes the exercise and Yoongi likes the fresh air, and they’ve both learned to compromise enough to make them both happy. Yoongi will let himself be lead around by Hoseok as long as they can rest in the shade of a tree afterwards. Hoseok will let Yoongi stop and admire the landscape as long they walk the long way to get there.
It’s a happy medium.
Yoongi sits at the base of a tree smoking while Hoseok lies in the sun, picking at the grass that lies under his hands. He’d managed to convince Yoongi to leave the notebook at home, just this once, much to Yoongi’s exasperation. He was convinced he was going to have an amazing idea come to him in their short trip out, one that would be life-changing, and as much as Hoseok loved and supported Yoongi, he knew he was just being dramatic.
‘Look, I’ll bring a pen with me just in case.’ Hoseok had conceded. ‘And if you suddenly have an idea that you absolutely have to write down, I’ll let you write it on my own skin, ok?’
Yoongi was convinced that if it came to that, the words would just sweat off of Hoseok anyway. Hoseok scoffed and told him to shut up, then put a biro in his pocket and tugged Yoongi out the front door.
Hoseok stretches like a cat in a sunbeam, letting out little grunts of satisfaction as he does so. Yoongi watches him, amused.
“What?” Hoseok asks, squinting over at him. “Why are you staring at me and smiling?”
“You’re like an oversized cat. Next you’ll be wanting me to scratch your ears and stroke your hair.”
“I’m not opposed to the idea.” Hoseok smirks, rolling over onto his stomach. “How’s your amazing, life-changing poem idea coming along?”
“Fuck off.” There’s no bite in Yoongi’s words.
“You’re so dramatic.”
“You won’t be saying that when I’m rich on dramatic poetry money.” Yoongi flicks his extinguished cigarette butt towards a nearby bin, but it falls short. “You’ll be saying ‘oh Yoongi, I should have listened to you when you said a writer needs to carry his notebook everywhere, how could I have been so foolish’.”
Hoseok sits up. “I don’t sound like that.” He says, frowning at Yoongi’s impression of him. “Anyway, who needs money when you’ve got love like ours?” They both laugh.
“Who’s the dramatic one again?” Yoongi smiles, then suddenly sobers. “Pen, Hoseok. Give me the pen.”
It takes a moment for Hoseok to catch up, but he’s quickly reaching in his pocket for the pen and handing it to Yoongi, who instead of taking just that, takes hold of Hoseok’s wrist and pulls his entire arm towards him.
For a while there’s only the sensation of the pen dragging across his skin and the sound of children playing somewhere across the park, but Hoseok doesn’t mind sitting still. Not when Yoongi looks so focused. Though he can’t say he expected Yoongi to take his words quite so literally.
When Yoongi pulls back and recaps the pen, Hoseok pulls his arm towards him and reads the sharp, smudged words.
We sit in the sun and I make daisy chains for you
to wrap around your heart like a noose
like a necklace
We sit in the sun and I make daisy chains for you
until my fingers are numb
“It’s pretty.” Hoseok says, skimming the words again. “What’s it about?”
“Nothing at this point.” Yoongi says, seeming to relax now. “It’s like a canvas that’s only had one colour painted on it so far. Who knows what the finished picture is going to be?”
Hoseok hums, reads it over and over. “Would you make daisy chains for me?” He asks.
Yoongi sits, fiddling with the pen. “I would if I knew how.”
“You don’t know how to make daisy chains?”
Hoseok stands abruptly, eyes fixed on a patch of daisies growing not too far away. He offers Yoongi his hand. “C’mon. I’m going to teach you.”
Yoongi takes his hand. Allows himself to follow.
The thunder starts at 1:47am. The lightning comes not long after.
Hoseok wakes up alone in their bed. It takes him ten seconds to register the white noise of rain, and another ten to realise how close it sounds. And then Yoongi.
Yoongi is sat by the bedroom window with the curtains pushed back and the windows wide open. He has his back to the room – to Hoseok – his focus instead somewhere outside. A flash of violet illuminates the sky. Yoongi becomes nothing more than a shadow.
“Yoongi,” Hoseok says, then clears his throat.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Yoongi asks, not even turning around to acknowledge Hoseok. Hoseok has to strain to hear him over the rain. “I’ve always loved thunderstorms.”
“They terrify some people.”
“So does the ocean. So do heights. It doesn’t stop the fish from swimming or the birds from flying, does it?”
Thunder rolls in the distance, like a stomach rumbling, like a building falling down floor by floor. The rain starts falling faster and another roll of thunder comes, this one closer, louder.
Hoseok’s bleary eyes see Yoongi’s silhouette turn, reach out a hand. Hoseok takes it, let’s it pull him across the room and into Yoongi’s lap.
“Can you smell it?” Hoseok breaks out in goose bumps at the sudden chill in the air. Yoongi runs his hand over Hoseok’s bare arms.
“The rain?” Yoongi hums. “Yeah.”
“Makes the world seem cleaner, doesn’t it?” he asks.
“I guess it does.” Hoseok glances out the window, sees the streetlights reflected in the puddles. “If it doesn’t stop soon it’ll drown all my flowers.”
Yoongi takes a deep breath with his nose in Hoseok’s shoulder. It’s a sound somewhere close to a laugh. “I’m sure they’ll be fine.”
“That’s easy for you to say; I grew those sweet peas from seeds.”
“Plants need water.”
“Water, not a torrential downpour.” Hoseok’s words are cut short by a deep yawn. Even with his eyes closed, he can still see the bright flashes of lightning. “Come back to bed.”
“When the storm is over.” Yoongi says.
“I’m not going without you.”
“Then don’t go.” It’s a convincing argument. Yoongi is a good alternative to the bed.
“If I fall asleep on you, will you carry me back to bed?”
“I won’t have much of a choice, will I?” He teases, hand finding Hoseok’s hair. It doesn’t take more than a few strokes to have him falling back to sleep.
“It’s good I’m not scared of thunderstorms, isn’t it?” Hoseok asks, speech muffled by Yoongi’s chest.
A flash of lightning illuminates Hoseok features for a split second. Yoongi is convinced no one has ever looked so strong and so delicate at the same time.
“Because I’m not scared of flying.” Hoseok says, voice already distant with sleep. Yoongi can’t decide if it’s nonsense or profound, what Hoseok just said. He finds he doesn’t really care either way.
The thunder stops at 2:27am. The rain carries on through to dawn.
Every breath you take has to has to be given back
so hold your breath because I’m not fucking losing you
I’m not giving you back
“An old friend of mine died today.”
The air has been still all day, like the earth is holding its breath. Everything is stagnated, including this conversation.
Hoseok didn’t sleep very well last night. When he woke up to the news, he knew why.
“Was it the friend that was old, or the friendship?” Yoongi asks. Hoseok looks up from his coffee look at him.
He stops biting on his bottom lip to ask “Is that what's important right now?” Yoongi shrugs, flicks his cigarette ash away with the breeze.
“What I'm asking is we're they old, this friend of yours?”
“No.” Hoseok shakes his head, taps the rim of his cup, “He was my age.” Yoongi nods while sucking on his cigarette.
“And how long had you known him?”
“We met in university.” Hoseok says, answering without giving the answer. “He was an artist who used to observe our dance classes for drawing references.”
Hoseok nods. “Yeah.”
It’s weird; Hoseok hadn't really thought about this friend in years so he never expected it to upset him much. Not that Hoseok’s heartless, it’s just that they never were that close after graduating; they still messaged each other occasionally just to keep in touch, but Hoseok can’t remember the last time they saw each other. “We were friends in university, y’know, used to hang out with each other. Never really were as close after that.” Yoongi takes another drag of his cigarette. “He only got married last year.” The smoke comes out of Yoongi’s nose in a long breath.
“What did he die of?”
“A routine surgery gone wrong. I don't know the specifics.” Hoseok sips his coffee. It's bitter and bland but he drinks it anyway.
“Do you believe in fate, Hoseok?” Yoongi asks, head completely turned in Hoseok’s direction now.
“Is this your roundabout way of saying everything happens for a reason?” Hoseok feels his temper is flaring, and while he knows it's not Yoongi’s fault, he can't quite find it within himself to hold it back. “Because if it is, don't bother.” Yoongi’s expression doesn’t change at all.
“I'm just asking if you believe in fate, Hoseok. That's all.”
“No. I don't.” Yoongi doesn’t flinch at Hoseok’s tone, doesn’t look away from Hoseok’s stare. “I don't think my friend was fated to die at 27 and make his wife a widow a year after their wedding and his parents bury their child. He was just” Hoseok spits the next word out, like he doesn’t even want it in his mouth, “unlucky.”
Yoongi nods like he’s taking everything Hoseok’s said into consideration. “Y’know no one said fate was fair.” A few taps to rid his cigarette of ash. “Or kind.”
Hoseok nods, agrees. “No. But I can't- I don't want to believe that something that cruel exists. It just… it doesn't make sense.”
“Not to us, no. But lots of things don't make sense to us. That doesn’t mean those things aren’t real or don’t exist.” Yoongi’s cigarette is almost burnt down to the butt now, but he doesn't put it out yet. “Do you believe in reincarnation?”
Hoseok raises his eyes from an old ring stain in the wood to look at Yoongi. “Like the Buddhists?”
“No, like energy cannot be created or destroyed; only changed from one form to another.”
Hoseok takes a deep breath, briefly closes his eyes. “Yoongi, you're really losing me here.” Yoongi’s cigarette has extinguished itself, but still the butt sits between his fingers like he hasn’t even noticed.
“I'm saying that according to that logic, your friend isn't gone. His energy has just changed forms.”
Hoseok’s picking at some split wood. “Is this you trying to be comforting?”
“Would you rather me spin you some lines about how he's in a better place and how he'll be gone but never forgotten?” Hoseok bristles, flicking away a splinter, ready to snap again especially with the way Yoongi has an eyebrow raised. “I'm just giving you some facts. If they comfort you, then good, if not,” and he shrugs like it doesn’t matter, finally flicking the cigarette butt away. Hoseok rolls his eyes, but his throat is tight.
“God knows what you'd be like if I was really, really mourning someone.”
“My shoulder is very good for crying on.” It sounds like a joke, sounds like Yoongi’s being a complete asshole but there's no humour to be found in his voice. Just sincerity. “I know since I'm a poet you’d think I’d have the right words to offer you right now, but I never can quite figure out what to say when it comes to things like this.” Hoseok nods, looks down into coffee. Yoongi deflates, taps his finger once, twice. “Hey Hoseok, I really am sorry about your friend. Fate really is cruel, to take someone like that.”
Hoseok hasn’t seen this friend in years so he didn't think he would cry about it, but something about the softness in Yoongi’s features and the sudden sincerity in his words crack though all the tension in him right there, right outside the coffee shop.
“He was so young.” Hoseok’s voice breaks and suddenly there's tears, and Yoongi’s on his side of the table now, pulling him close. And outside the coffee shop Hoseok learns that Yoongi’s shoulder is good for crying on and Yoongi realizes he doesn’t always have to have the right words and he shouldn’t pretend he does.
A breeze picks up from nowhere while the coffee goes cold.
It feels like they’re a million miles from home when it happens, quiet as a knife fight, gentle and warm, but unfamiliar houses always feel weirdly distant and Yoongi’s new place is big enough to feel lost in.
Hoseok’s standing on Yoongi’s new balcony with the city lying at his feet. There’s a thousand lights reflected in his eyes, and it's disbelief, that look on his face. Like he can’t believe he’s really here, really seeing what he’s seeing.
It’s then that Yoongi realises he wants to give Hoseok the world. He’ll serve it up on a silver fucking platter, hand pick the best bits even though he’ll give him the rest too; even all the broken and ugly parts. All Hoseok has to do is ask.
He wants to give him sweaters in his favourite colours and dawns in Hawaii and Sunday mornings and Friday nights and every song he’s ever loved on one never ending playlist. Yoongi wants to give him everything. Wants to pick the stars out of the sky so Hoseok can wear them in his hair.
“Are you seeing this, Yoongi?” Hoseok asks, eyes on the horizon. “Don’t ever let yourself take this for granted.”
“This view. God, Yoongi, this is… this must be like what the moon sees when it looks down at the earth every night.”
The words tumble out of his mouth so easily as if they aren’t the words a poet would spend a lifetime trying to find. Yoongi wants to tell him not to take that tongue of his for granted either, but instead he says “Do you want to go out with me sometime?”
Hoseok is blindsided. Yoongi looks into his eyes, into the thousands of lights within them and thinks warm bread bad champagne rain in the Amazon. He thinks of everything, all at once.
“You mean- you mean like a date or…?”
“Yeah like a date. Just some coffee or dinner or whatever.”
Hoseok’s bites his lip. Yoongi’s stomach turns itself inside out. “Can I pick where we go?”
It’s Yoongi’s turn to be blindsided. Of all the possible reactions, he didn’t expect Hoseok’s question to be his first one. “Sure.”
Hoseok smiles then, a little nervous. “Then yeah, Yoongi, we can go get dinner or whatever.”
Yoongi nods, realises Hoseok’s no longer looking his way and says “Good.”
Hoseok stares the city straight in its neon face and says “Good.”
And it isn’t the face of someone who needs to be given the world. It’s the face of someone who already has it.
In Yoongi’s opinion there is nothing more beautiful than the colour of the sky just after dawn. Whether it’s the soft grey forewarning of an overcast day or the deep orange of a fresh sun; in the crisp, clean air of a new day, everything seems better. Less tangled. Not as blurry. Like the dirt has been wiped from the windscreen and the road is so much clearer.
Yoongi has only been back to this cafe once since the first time he came here; it was a happy accident the second time, like running into an old friend, but now he actively searched this place out. Had to get the train back to his old neighbourhood, to try and remember how to get back to that 24 hour coffee shop he stumbled on by chance. Funny how much that place changed his life, but he never really gave it the credit it deserved.
He orders coffee, black, and sits by the window, as far away from everyone else as he can get. The overhead strip lights are still on inside, illuminating everything too bright. The sun hasn’t caught up to this side of town yet; it’s shut out by all the tall buildings, but the sky is steadily getting brighter and soon they’ll be able to turn the lights off, let the natural light overtake the room.
The coffee is bitter and hot but Yoongi drinks it anyway. He finds himself wondering if he can drink enough caffeine to drive himself mad; if that’s even possible, or if maybe he’s already too late.
He pulls out a brand new notebook, the pages all clean, the edges of the covers not yet fraying. Some artists love breaking in a new notebook – giving it stains and history and charm and creases – but Yoongi has always hated it. It’s always been cruel to him. Sad, almost. Like he’s making it dirty somehow, or like he’s desecrating every page with his words. Hoseok always says it a fresh start. A new journey. Where’s this one going to take you? he’d say. And he’d say it with such hope and conviction that Yoongi would just fall into it. Follow Hoseok’s lead on this new journey, wherever it’ll take him. Them.
He taps his pen against the first page anyway, fingers itching. There’s something right there, on the tip of his tongue. Something about pulling teeth or growing pains or the colour of bones but he can’t quite get it out. Like a popcorn kernel caught in his throat that won’t fucking shift.
He runs his fingers though his hair and pulls his hand back to see a dozen hairs caught in the spaces between his fingers.
I found your hair in my- no. He scratches it out. One line into a new notebook and he’s already ruined it. Maybe he should start writing in pencil instead. It’d make all his mistakes so much easier to hide.
Yoongi wonders what he’s doing really here.
Break my legs so I can finally bow to you
Wipe the stubbornness from my heart like a child with a stained face
Wear my rotten teeth around your neck-
Yoongi wonders when his writing got so dark only to amend his own thoughts. Again. When did his writing get so dark again.
Burn my body on an open fire
Pick my bones from the ash
Keep them in a box under your bed
So you can be buried with them when your time comes too
He reads over what he’s written. It’s something, which is always better than nothing but-
When did he run out of coffee?
The sun has barely risen higher since the last time Yoongi checked. He almost feels like he’s cheating time. Like the sun’s waiting for him to get this- this thing out of his system before it carries on with its day. Yoongi should tell it not to bother. They’re both just wasting their time.
The tall barista behind the counter has eye bags to rival Yoongi’s own. He wonders how many night shifts in a row she’s worked. He wonders if she was working that morning, when he and Hoseok both stumbled in here separately and left together in many ways, if not physically.
Less than a minute later Yoongi sees a man in a pressed suit and shined shoes and realises that the day isn’t waiting for him after all. Maybe the sun is just running late today. Maybe it had a lie in. It is an insomniac, if Yoongi remembers rightly.
Hoseok will be waking up soon, ever an early riser. He wonders how long it’ll take him to realise Yoongi’s not home. Will he go about his morning, brushing his teeth, making his breakfast before he realizes he’s not there? Or will he know straight away; will he be able to tell from the coldness in the bed that Yoongi’s been gone a while?
Yoongi thinks about trying to get home before Hoseok wakes up but it’s already too late. There’s no point rushing for nothing. It won’t bother Hoseok anyway, he doesn’t think. At least not too much.
He sits there for a while longer until morning is well and truly underway and Yoongi can feel the day starting to move around him. The people rushing through the streets, the earth turning on its axis. The world is moving on. It will not stand still for him.
Plant a rose bush in my rib cage
so a part of me will be beautiful always.
When spring comes and the flowers bloom
red as blood and soft as skin
think of me.
When you touch its thorns and bleed
red as roses and sweet as wine
think of me.
When his phone buzzes Yoongi startles, pen jumping across the page. The bottom of his ‘e’ extends up and to the right, turning the ‘s’ into an ‘8’. The first page of his notebook is truly a mess. He’d be angrier about it if the text was from anyone but Hoseok.
Where are you?
The cafe we first met in
On the other side of town? Why?
Yoongi doesn’t know why. Not really. It just felt appropriate. It just felt like he needed to go back to the beginning. Full circle.
Why reminisce when I’m right here in this cold bed all alone :(
Yoongi laughs to himself and suddenly realises that the darkness in the street has lifted, the sun drowning the street in its fresh light, illuminating every crack in the concrete. It illuminates Yoongi too. Shines light on every shadow in his heart.
It’s a new day. Another chance. A new beginning.
I’m coming home rn
Bring me in some breakfast on ur way home thank u love u
When Yoongi stands he’s a lighter man. Anything he doesn’t need is left behind; all his darkness, all his heaviness. He leaves it in his empty coffee cup for the tall waitress with the dark eyes to clean up. He hopes it’s not too much of a mess.
He tucks his pen and his new notebook into his pocket and walks outside. He takes a deep breath. It comes easier.
Yoongi swears he would defy gravity if it wasn’t for the ring in his pocket anchoring him down.