Hoseok met Yoongi on a warm summer’s day, when the heat had threatened to melt his bones and his days were so hazy and dreamy they blended together until he couldn’t tell when one day ended and another began. Yoongi had been leaning against a dirty wall in the alley just behind his apartment block, clutching his bleeding knuckles to his chest. Hoseok had only been out there to throw away the trash, but he’d chanced upon him and Yoongi had looked up at him, eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“You okay?” Hoseok had asked, eyeing his knuckles warily. His hometown, on the outskirts of Gwangju, is the quiet sort, where the biggest thing that happens is his neighbour’s cat escaping for the third time in a week. A stranger with bloodied knuckles and a terse, haunted expression to his face is not welcome in these kinds of close-knit societies, where the word of the grandmother at the end of the road holds more weight than their mayor.
“Yeah,” says the man. “Just peachy.”
Ah, as if the man couldn’t make things worse for himself. A stranger from a different part of Jeolla might have been accepted, but his voice has the rough tones of Gyeongsang. The people here are traditional, and tradition decrees that the tension between the people of Gyeongsang and the people of Jeolla, divided only by their minds, income and the large lake between them, must be kept strong as ever. Hoseok doesn’t care. He’s too young for the problems of the elders to bother him.
The man winces as he takes a step. “I should retire,” he mumbles, rolling out his shoulders. He looks up at Hoseok and smiles a little. “I’ll be out of here soon. Just passing through.”
There’s something in his smile that bellies trust. His eyes are pleasant, and they squint at the edges when he smiles. Hoseok has always been a very good judge of character, and as he stands here, facing the smaller man in the alley, the heat of summer hard on his shoulders and the drone of cicadas harsh in their ears, he thinks, what the hell.
Hoseok is a big believer that things happen for a reason.
“I’ve got bandages,” Hoseok jerks his head to the apartment building, watching the way the man looks quickly at the large garbage bin before up at the apartments. The garbage bin gives a loud thump. “And I’m not going to ask about that.”
“Good,” admits the man, smiling again. “Because I have no explanation.”
Hoseok had learnt, once he’d taken the man back to his parent’s apartment and put ointment on his knuckles that his name is Yoongi, and he’s a traveller who’s gotten into a bit of a pinch with a man who didn’t like his Gyeongsang accent.
“Daegu,” he says, sitting more upright, eyes bright. “Is very beautiful. In the autumn, all our flowers are in full bloom. I wouldn’t lose my accent for the world.”
Hoseok can understand that sentiment. He says, “maybe I’ll visit once.”
Yoongi smiles at him, bright and toothy. Hoseok would admit to buying into a little of what his people used to say about the Gyeongsang people, but Yoongi — Yoongi might change a lot of things. “Sure,” he says. “Call me when you’re there. I’ll bring you places.”
Yoongi had spent the rest of the day there, lounging around and watching dramas with Hoseok until it’d gotten dark outside, even in the summer blaze. One moment he’d been competing with Hoseok to see who could fit the most amount of tteok-bokki in their mouths, the next his phone had vibrated in his pocket and he’d shot right off the sofa. Hoseok stares at the missing lump, not realising he’s moved, before slowly turning his gaze. Yoongi is already putting on his shoes.
“Thank you for your time,” Yoongi says, scuffing his feet on the floor and rubbing the back of his head. “But my ride is here.”
Hoseok lets him go, of course he does. But as he hears the footsteps retreat from his block and the house falls into silence once more, his parents probably out with friends, he thinks, well, shit. Because if he didn’t know what it was like to be lonely before, he does now. He only knew Yoongi for a day, but he immediately becomes his biggest what if.
So when he gets the offer to pick up a teaching position in the center of Daegu, one his village doesn’t think he’d accept, he takes it up without thinking too much about it. He thinks of autumn flowers instead. He calls Yoongi just before he gets on the train, luggages at his side.
“Hello,” he says.
“Hoseok-ah,” replies Yoongi. He sounds breathless. “It’s been three months. I didn’t think you’d call.”
Hoseok feels something warm in his chest. “Well, I did. I’m moving to Daegu,” he laughs a little, high-pitched and nervous. “Did I think this through?”
“Are you on the train to Cheonan-Asan?” asks Yoongi. There’s the sound of shouting in the background. Yoongi can hardly be heard over the din.
“Yeah,” Hoseok admits. “It’s arriving in a minute.”
“Cool. I’ll come pick you up once you get to Daegu,” and he laughs. “Might be a little grubby, though.”
True to his word, Yoongi is there on the platform once his connecting train pulls into Dongdaegu station. He is kind of grubby. His hair is windswept and messy. He’s wearing a suit and an undone tie. The top four buttons of his white shirt are missing and his blazer is ripped along the back.
“Hello,” says Yoongi, after he hurries along the platform to stand in front of Hoseok, hands in his pockets, dumb smile on his face.
“Hello,” Hoseok says, after taking a deep breath once he observes Yoongi’s state of attire. Then he steps forward and yanks him in by his undone tie and kisses him hard — it’s more a smash of their lips together, hardly pleasant, but Yoongi smiles and curls his hands in Hoseok’s hair and well, that’s good enough for the both of them.
There’s a scar on Yoongi’s ear. He tells Hoseok it was from an accident while he was working as a delivery boy, and Hoseok likes to press kisses to it when they’re in bed, like they are now. It’s been four years since Hoseok moved to Daegu, and three years, six months, and seven days since Hoseok decided to save rent money and move in with Yoongi at his quaint two-bedroom apartment. It has mustard yellow curtains and potted plants in the windowsills, and Hoseok has regretted a great deal in his life but this — watching Yoongi throw their dog Holly kibble so that he’d jump up and snatch it out of the air, much to Yoongi’s amusement, is something he’d never regret.
Their first year of being together, Yoongi had gone almost weekly to Seoul for work, and it was easy to tell that whatever job he did, it drained the life out of him. In total, he would spend only about a week in Daegu every month, and each time he came home, knocking on Hoseok’s door at one in the morning, he’d look bone-tired and exhausted. So when Hoseok had opened the door at midnight on a Saturday night, he’s surprised when he’s greeted with Yoongi smiling at him and holding out a piece of paper in one hand and a set of keys in another.
Hoseok ushers him into the house, taking the keys from him. “What did you do?” He asks, fondly, ignoring the fact that it’s been two weeks since he’d last seen Yoongi.
Yoongi sags against him and nuzzles into his neck. “You know that empty store space next to the hardware store?”
“I bought a year’s worth of rent.”
Hoseok startles, and looks up with wide eyes. “You mean —“
“Yup,” Yoongi pulls back from him and laughs, the kind of unabashed, joyful, high-pitched laugh Hoseok has sorely missed. “Cafe Suga is finally in motion.”
Now, Yoongi has established himself well enough in the town such that he can afford to hire waitstaff and chefs and not physically be present at the cafe at all times. He uses his extra free time to lounge about at home, write his novel, pursue his photography.
“It’s— well, it’s mystery,” says Yoongi, when Hoseok first asks him what his novel about. “About a man who dealt with darkness but found the sun.”
“That’s awfully cheesy,” Hoseok scrunches his nose, but pats Yoongi’s head anyway. “I can’t wait to read it.”
It’s so refreshing to see Yoongi like this, so at peace. Sometimes, he comes over to where Hoseok is planning classes and helps him, teaches him a thing or two while he’s at it. And Hoseok has it all planned, really, when he’s going to ask Yoongi to marry him — not that they could, but there’s a meaning and purpose in asking anyway, in the idea that he could call Yoongi his husband. It takes him a whole six months to work up the nerve, but then he’s lying in bed with their navy blue sheets, and Yoongi’s head is pillowed on Hoseok’s chest, and the words just come to him.
“Yoongi?” Hoseok asks, running his hand through his hair.
“Will you marry me?”
Yoongi had startled, shot right off the bed. He’d looked at Hoseok and then leant down to kiss his forehead. “Of course,” he says, laughing, and it sounds like he says a lot more than of course.
All of these past events bring him to this, and that is Yoongi clutching a knife in his hands as he opens their house door at three in the morning. There’d been frantic knocks on the door and Yoongi had woken up pale-faced and scared. Hoseok had watched in stunned silence as instead of opening the door first, Yoongi picks up the butcher’s knife from their kitchen drawer and moves to the door to stand behind it.
“You’re odd,” says Hoseok, and Yoongi puts a finger to his lips and shushes him intently. Then he pulls open the door a crack — and then he yanks it open all the way, knife falling dangerously to the floor. Standing in front of their door, slumped against the railing outside, is a young man who cannot be more than twenty two years old. He’s pressing his right hand to his left shoulder, and his fingers are coated in red. So is the front of his white t-shirt — it’s completely spattered.
“Hyung,” he whispers, when Yoongi rushes towards him. “Hyung, hyung, please it’s —“
“Stop talking,” Yoongi growls, pushing him delicately into the house, and past a stunned Hoseok. “Where are you hurt?”
“Hyung, it’s Namjoon,” the man struggles, turning around to look at Yoongi desperately. The name has a startling effect — Yoongi drops his shoulders and all the blood rushes out of his face. Hoseok watches, completely bewildered.
“Tell me later,” Yoongi mutters, pushing him into the kitchen and pulling out their extensive first aid kit. Hoseok has always wondered why Yoongi had insisted upon it. “You first.”
“I said you first, Jeongguk. Do not make me repeat myself again.”
The boy quietens down, snapping his mouth shut and wincing at every motion. Hoseok doesn’t know what is going on — he has never heard Yoongi use the kind of tone he’s using now, all demanding and cold. He’s never seen this boy before in his life, and there is blood dripping down the boy’s arms and splashing onto his white tiles.
But he trusts Yoongi with his china collection, and so he trusts him with his life. Hoseok snaps into action, digging through the drawers for the scissors and walking over to this Jeongguk, who looks at him with wide eyes.
“Yoongi,” he says, firmly. “I’m going to cut away his t-shirt.”
“Good,” Yoongi says, looking at him with relief, like he’s thanking him for not freaking out. Oh, Hoseok will freak out, just not at this very moment. He’s compartmentalising. “I’ll get the stitches ready.”
“Hyung,” says Jeongguk, plaintively. “Part of the blade is still inside. ’S why I’m not bleeding out.”
Yoongi drops his needles and curses. Hoseok feels like throwing up. “Fuck you,” he complains, and pulls out a pair of tweezers instead. “You know I hate doing this.”
“I’m sorry,” says Jeongguk, though he doesn’t sound apologetic at all. Hoseok snips away his white t-shirt, revealing a well-muscled body riddled with all kinds of scars. At a first glance, Hoseok counts ten. There’s a nasty gash in his right side, and he’s dribbling blood all the way down his arms. Yoongi walks up to the man and his face falls a little. He presses his hand over his right pec, running his fingers delicately over a long, puckered scar that crosses the length of his chest.
“I shouldn’t have left you,” Yoongi says, following the scar with reverence and a hint of shame. Hoseok’s mouth twists. “I don’t recognise this.”
“Nothing to be done, hyung,” Jeongguk catches his hand with his good side and looks at him firmly. “Nothing to be done.”
Yoongi twists his face and pulls away from the boy, aiming the pair of tweezers at the wound. “Doesn’t look too deep,” Yoongi says, sighing with relief. He says, “this is going to hurt,” and carefully nudges the silver bit out of the wound.
Jeongguk is sweating, his legs swinging from where he’s been perched on the counter. He’s clenching his good hand hard around the marble countertop, and Hoseok watches him for a moment before stepping next to him and taking his hand.
“Easy does it,” he says, his voice the same kind he uses to help students who are panicking. “Take deep breaths with me, Gukkie,” he soothes, patting his shoulder and trying not to wince at the death grip Jeongguk has on his own hand. “That’s it. You’re doing great. Almost done.”
Jeongguk laughs, a breathless, pained sound that Hoseok never wants to hear again. “God, I see why hyung picked you,” and all his breath whooshes out of him as Yoongi crows triumphantly, holding a gleaming, red-stained silver shard up to the light.
Yoongi splashes antiseptic onto his wound, which Jeongguk swears at, and stitches him up with such carefully precise hands Hoseok wonders how many times he’s done this. Then he’s picking Jeongguk up and helping him to the sofa, where he arranges him with so many blankets and pillows Hoseok takes pity on the boy and helps him to move some away.
“Rest,” Yoongi tells him. “Tell me what happened when you’ve woken up. Did they follow you?”
“No,” says Jeongguk blearily. “Though you might see that someone got run over by a train on the news.”
Yoongi huffs. “Told you to stay out of the spotlight, Sea. Is that my advice being taken into consideration?”
Jeongguk laughs quietly. “To protect you I’d be on every newspaper in the world, hyung.”
Hoseok knows sincerity when he hears it, and he’s never heard anyone be more sure than this. He looks to Yoongi in a flash, his heart clenching — and sees that his face falls a little. He pushes Jeongguk’s hair off his face, and continues to pat his hair until he falls asleep.
“I need to stay up with him,” Yoongi tells Hoseok once the man is out cold, eyebrows knitted in worry. “I’ll explain everything — or, as much as I can, in the morning.”
Hoseok looks between the two of them. “I knew you weren’t normal,” he says, running his fingers through his hair. “But this —“
“I’m not a bad person,” Yoongi hastens to explain. “Please.”
“How much of what you’ve told me about you is a lie?”
Yoongi bites his lip. He has the decency to look ashamed. “I’ve never lied to you a day in my life.”
“No,” Hoseok looks towards his kitchen and decides to start cleaning up. He’s not going to be able to sleep tonight anyway, because his fiancé is sitting in their living room with the grey IKEA sofa and the mustard yellow curtains with another man. “You just never told the whole truth.”
Yoongi, and to a small extent Jeongguk, tell him in between bites of pancakes Hoseok cannot stomach but made anyway, that Yoongi used to work for Korean intelligence. Korean intelligence. His Yoongi, the one who fed Holly food from the table because he likes it, Hoseokie, his Yoongi, the one who read books and cried over the side characters dying, used to be a secret agent.
He doesn’t want to ask, but Yoongi tells him when he sees the look on his face. “I’ve never killed anyone who I didn’t have to, Seok-ah,” he says, and looks down at his shoes. “And I never don’t think of the people who I didn’t get to save.”
“So the time,” Hoseok asks, deliberately not looking at him, “I found you in the alley behind my apartment. What were you doing?”
Yoongi pushes pancake crumbs around his plate. Jeongguk shifts uncomfortably in his chair. “I was retrieving a stolen USB. The man in the dumpster had it.”
“Was that USB important?”
“It held nuclear codes,” Yoongi tilts his head and sighs. “It was very important, Seok-ah.”
There’s an essential question that hangs over them. Hoseok doesn’t want to ask him, but it is the elephant in the room. So he does. “Why did you never tell me?”
Jeongguk stands on shaky feet and bows to Hoseok before carefully making his way out of the kitchen. Yoongi looks at the white blinds on the windows and says, “because I didn’t want to burden you.”
Hoseok swallows thickly. “You wouldn’t have burdened me.”
“No,” agrees Yoongi. “But you would be afraid. Every knock on the door, I am afraid. There’s a gun under our bed, Hoseokie. It’s strapped to the mattress. There’s a pistol behind the painting in the living room. I know how to immobilise a man sixteen different ways with the Swiss Army Knife on the mantelpiece. I never stopped thinking somebody would —“
“And what if somebody did?” Hoseok slams his palms down on the table and Yoongi jumps a little in his chair. “What if somebody did come for you when I was not around, and I never saw you again? What if I found all these things you’re telling me after you’ve been missing for months? Who am I to think you are, then? A murderer?”
Yoongi gets up from the table and moves over to him, pulling Hoseok out of the chair and into a tight bear hug. “I’m so sorry,” he says, and Hoseok can feel his guilt in the beats of his heart. It doesn’t make it any less easy to stomach, but he loves him — and he loved him even though he knew he was dangerous from the start, with his bloodied knuckles and too easy smile. They’re going to get married — there’s an unofficial ceremony planned for a June wedding. Hoseok loves him.
“You need to go, don’t you?” Hoseok asks, and his voice finally breaks. “You need to save your friend.”
Yoongi’s arms tighten around him. “Yes.”
“Then go,” Hoseok pulls away from him and holds his face in both hands and kisses his forehead. “Get ready.”
Yoongi closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. “I —“
“Just,” Hoseok’s grip tightens momentarily, then he kisses him, hard and fast. “Just come back home,” he says when they part, with the desperation of everyone who has ever been left behind.
“I will,” Yoongi promises, with the conviction of everyone who has ever had to leave. “I will, I swear I will.”
Yoongi packs a bag that hour and throws things Hoseok has never seen before into it. He takes them out from various hiding places, places that Hoseok has never looked twice at, and stuffs it all into his bag before slinging it over his shoulder.
“Take care of him,” Yoongi gestures at the man sitting solemnly on Hoseok’s sofa. “He’s just a kid.”
“I’m twenty three, hyung,” says Jeongguk, rolling his eyes.
“He’s just a kid,” says Yoongi more aggressively. “I didn’t save your skinny ass just for you to snark at me. Tell Taehyung and Jimin I’m on my way. Seokjin hyung is waiting for me at the station.”
Jeongguk nods, cracking a small smile. “Sure thing, sir,” he mock salutes with his good hand. “Be safe, okay hyung? There’s more than me waiting for you to come back now,” and he looks over at Hoseok. “You have stuff you cannot lose.”
Yoongi laughs and nods. “Yeah,” he says. “I’m well aware.”
He kisses Hoseok before he leaves. He tastes like maple syrup and guilt.
Letting him go is the hardest thing Hoseok has ever had to do. The apartment falls eerily silent. Holly paws at the door, tired of their new visitor already, looking at Hoseok as though he had all the answers. He doesn’t. He just knows that there’s a pistol behind the painting of sunflowers in their living room, and there’s a strange boy on their sofa who reads books and laments about the loss of his gaming system.
At first, Hoseok detests him. Of course he does. His arrival is the one that spurred his fiance out of the door and into the early morning sun, and Hoseok is terrified he’s just let him go to his death without properly protesting it. But Hoseok is Hoseok, even without Yoongi around, and his brief moments of hatred never lasts long. So after the first day of cold conversation and one sided sneers, he breaks.
Jeongguk is sitting on their sofa, Hoseok’s dog in his lap. He’s staring down at the iPad in his hands, playing some sort of point-and-click game, but it’s hard to point and click with only one arm. He’s very good at pretending to be busy when Hoseok walks over, but his eyes take on the guilty, regretful tinge of someone who knows what he’s done, and Hoseok sighs.
“Jeongguk-ssi,” he says, sitting delicately down at the sofa, watching Jeongguk bite his bottom lip and say nothing. “It’s not your fault. Yoongi would’ve found out one way or another, and he would’ve left anyway.”
Jeongguk exhales and stops pretending to be invested in his game. “I’m still sorry,” he says. “I came in here and wrecked everything —“
Hoseok wrinkles his nose. “I’m not going to pretend to be okay with it,” he admits. “But blaming you won’t do either of us any good.”
Jeongguk finally meets his eyes and nods, unsure. Then he says, “do you want to know about Yoongi hyung? Who he — was?”
Hoseok chews his bottom lip. One part of him doesn’t want to lose this idea of Yoongi that he has — the gardener, the one who always remembers to water the plants on their windowsill and bought all the flower boxes that take up all the space on their balcony, but he knows that he has to find out more.
So he says yes, and Jeongguk casts about for where to begin.
“When I was fifteen,” he starts, playing nervously with his fingers. “I was kidnapped.”
Hoseok raises an eyebrow.
“I was being used as bait,” Jeongguk admits. “My father had an important deal in Japan, and the Yakuza did not want it to go through. They took me on the way home from school — it was winter, and everything’s quiet in the cold. I didn’t hear the men approach until one of their hands was on my shoulder.”
Hoseok bites the inside of his cheek.
“Apparently, I was kept as their pet in a Daegu storage room for a week, though it felt both longer and shorter than that. I don’t really remember much of it, but I don’t think they ever touched me,” Jeongguk looks at the black screen of the television in front of him. “Yoongi and Namjoon hyung were the ones to rescue me. I still remember. Yoongi hyung was the one who came to get me from my cell. He wrapped red-stained hands around the bars and grinned at me and said hello, kid, like that would explain who he was,” Jeongguk laughs, and Hoseok snorts. “He took me to the police station, insisted he couldn’t come in with me. Just told me not to tell anyone I came for him.”
Hoseok tilts his head, frowning.
“It took me three years, but I ran into him again by complete accident at a Busan port, where I’d heard rumours some dangerous people were using for drug storage. I was just standing there, like a deer in the headlights — and Yoongi hyung had to kill a man to save me. Scolded me proper and everything,” Jeongguk rests his head on the sofa cushions. “Said if I wanted to be a hero, I’d have to learn.”
“If you were fifteen —“
“He was only seventeen,” Jeongguk nods, shrugging helplessly. “I don’t know how he got into this business, or why, he’d never say. He was just there when I needed him to be,” he looks at Hoseok seriously. “With Namjoon hyung, they were the best duo the agency had ever seen. They toppled criminal empires and did overseas missions and they were incredible, really.”
Hoseok looks down at his feet. He suddenly feels really small. “Why did he stop? Why didn’t he tell me?”
Jeongguk scrunches his nose and looks younger than his years. “Because he loved you,” he says, and scratches his ear nervously. “He loved you very much. He kept this little card — he couldn’t keep a picture of you, so he printed out the word hope on a piece of card and kept it in his breast pocket.”
Hoseok swallows thickly. Yoongi — his Yoongi.
“People say he chickened out, or ran away,” Jeongguk’s voice gets softer. “But we know the truth. He just fell in love, and wanted out. Nothing wrong about that.”
Hoseok looks up at the ceiling. He feels simultaneously very insignificant and significant at the same time. “Tell me more about him. What kind of missions did he do? Did you join him on any?”
Jeongguk smiles now. “There was this one time, we went to Norway, and Namjoon-hyung forgot his passport.” He launches into the story, seeming to be grateful for the distraction, and time passes this way, with Hoseok both being forced to accept his Yoongi wasn’t as pure as he’d always thought, but at the same time, he was better than what he’d thought.
The days pass like this. Hoseok goes to school and does his best for his students, even when they try him. He comes home and makes dinner for the two of them, Jeongguk helping wherever he could, insistent he’s not crippled by his shoulder.
“How did you get that?” Hoseok asks on the third day, pointing at the bandages. “You never said. Well — you mentioned the train but uh—“
Jeongguk looks down at his shoulder. “Oh,” he says. “A man followed me at the Daegu station, so I took a train one stop away.”
Hoseok raises an eyebrow.
“He followed me, so I attacked him, but then he attacked me, and the knife just — ended up there,” he shrugs vaguely. “But I got the man to tell his superior I was headed to Busan before I knocked him out and left him on the train tracks.”
“Jeongguk!” Hoseok reprimands, smacking his hand with a spoon. “No leaving people unconscious on train tracks. What about the driver of the train?”
“Well,” snarks Jeongguk. “I was stabbed in the arm.”
Hoseok sniffs at him while Jeongguk laughs, and Hoseok wonders when he became so alright with all of this.
“Nah,” Jeongguk waves his hand and laughs. “Called in Jimin hyung. He’s our crime scene clearer. Can charm the pants of anyone to forget anything, it’s incredible. I didn’t leave him on the tracks.”
Hoseok nods. “Better,” he says. “Now eat your vegetables.”
The days pass. On the seventh day, Jeongguk throws a book at the wall and snarls at the ground. Hoseok understands the sentiment. His bed is cold, his eyes are heavy. That night, Jeongguk teaches Hoseok how to cock a gun, how to take it apart and reload it and oil it. He shows him how to stand with the gun, and tells him to be careful of the recoil.
On the eleventh day, Hoseok burns dinner and cries. Jeongguk wraps one arm around him and smoothens his hair, murmuring “it’s going to be alright,” into Hoseok’s ear. They’ve gotten quite close — there are some things you cannot share without becoming, in some way, connected, and one of them is the most important person in your life, walking out the door.
On the fourteenth day, there is a knock on the door. Jeongguk is reaching for the pistol from behind the painting when the knock speaks. “Guk-ah,” it says, and Jeongguk shoots from the sofa so fast Hoseok never sees him move until the door is opening and a beautiful man is stepping into the apartment. He has warm brown eyes and a gentle slope to his face, and is almost intimidatingly pretty.
“Taehyung,” Jeongguk breathes, and throws himself into his arms, unheeding of his barely healing wound. The man catches him and spins the two of them around, but standing behind Hoseok can see the guilt in his eyes.
“Don’t say it’s Yoongi,” says Hoseok desperately once they’ve parted, and Jeongguk bites his bottom lip hard.
The stranger runs his hands through his hair. “He’s at the hospital,” he admits, and Hoseok feels the air whoosh out of his lungs. “Idiot hasn’t lost his self-sacrificial streak.”
He drops the bottle of olive oil he’s holding, and it smashes all over his white kitchen tiles he’d just mopped that day.
“Fuck,” Jeongguk swears, both at the sound of the crash and the stranger’s words. He spins around to look at Hoseok. “Hyung—“
Hoseok realises, with a quiet sort of detachment that comes from too many things happening at once, that he’s cut himself on the glass shards, but he cannot be bothered to give it too much thought. All he can think of is that he let him go, and now he’s in the hospital.
“No,” says Hoseok, marching to the door and pulling his grey coat from the coat stand. “No. You’re not leaving me behind. I let him go once, I let him go right through my fingers without protest and I — I can’t believe you let me!”
Jeongguk protests, albeit weakly. The stranger — Taehyung — looks at him and pulls a small pistol out of his pocket. “Do you know how to use this? The funny bit on the end is a silencer. We’re only going to Seoul, but you — you best be safe.”
Hoseok takes it from him and slips it into his pocket. Safe. Safe in the way Yoongi isn’t. Safe in the way Yoongi wasn’t. “Let’s just go,” he says. He doesn’t recognise his own voice.
When they get to the hospital, the first person Hoseok sees is not Yoongi but a man with a serious expression on his face and a painful thinness about him. Hoseok has seen him once before, in a photo album Yoongi buried beneath their clothes. “He’s an old friend,” Yoongi had said.
The man sees him and walks right up to him before pulling him in for a hug. His shoulders are hard. Hoseok clutches onto him — this is the man Yoongi risked everything to save. “I’m Namjoon,” he introduces. “It’s all my fault, and I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” Hoseok finds himself saying. “You know how Yoongi is. Once he gets going — you can’t stop him.”
Namjoon pulls away from him and laughs, a short bark. “No kidding,” he agrees, and takes Hoseok’s hands. “This way.”
Namjoon pulls him through corridors and hallways that all look the same, all this painful, bright white. He passes doctors in scrubs and nurses scurrying about, until they arrive at a room.
“He took an explosion for a civilian,” Namjoon explains, before he pushes open the door. “Collapsed lung. Busted ribs. Shrapnel. Concussion,” and his expression sours. “Least the son of a bitch who did it is dead.”
Hoseok doesn’t know what to say to that. He’s never wished death on someone before, but he finds he finds cruel joy in the fact that the man who did it is dead. They should be dead. Namjoon pushes open the door, and Hoseok steps inside the room. He’s dimly aware of Namjoon saying, “he’s a fighter, our hyung. He’ll make it.”
Hoseok has enough time to wonder at what cost.
There are lily-of-the-valleys on the bedside table, but all Hoseok can see is Yoongi, lying motionless on the bed. He looks the same as he did when he left, but his eyes are swollen and bruised, his nose is broken, and he’s hooked up to dozens and dozens of wires. Namjoon closes the door quietly behind them.
Hoseok sits beside Yoongi.
“You’re a stupid man,” he says. “You’re a very stupid man.”
There is no answer.
“You’re a very stupid man,” repeats Hoseok, but his breath catches on the last syllable and he starts to cry.
After three days, Yoongi’s condition stabilises and he’s moved to the Daegu hospital. Hoseok visits after work and spends his days — and if he could his nights — there, until Yoongi wakes up on the thirteenth day, groggy and confused.
“What’s—“ he croaks, and Hoseok shoots up from his papers and looks at Yoongi, wild-eyed. Yoongi stares at him.
Yoongi is lost and confused and groggy but he sees Hoseok and he smiles. “Sunshine,” he says, his words slurred. “Hello.”
Hoseok laughs, he can’t help it. “Hello,” he says. “You’re home.”
“I promised,” Yoongi murmurs. His eyes cannot focus. Hoseok leans over him to press the nurse call button, and Yoongi catches his arm. “‘M sorry,” he says, his voice cracking. “‘M so sorry, Seokseok-ah.”
Hoseok presses the button then cradles Yoongi’s face in both hands. “You better be,” he says, in-between sniffles. “You better be, you stupid man.”
Yoongi scrunches his nose.
Hoseok laughs through his tears.
One day into Yoongi being awake, the nurse that usually comes in changes. Hoseok notices imediately, notices the way he doesn’t quite seem to know what is doing. Without thinking much — his senses are on high alert, his instincts blaring warnings — he pulls the small pistol Taehyung had given him out of his jacket pocket and points it at the man.
He cocks the gun.
“Against the wall,” he snarls. The nurse opens his eyes wide, his shoulders tensing.
“Hobi,” says Yoongi. “What are you —“
“I said, against the wall,” Hoseok ignores him. “Hands in the air.”
The man narrows his eyes, and does as he’s told. As he puts his hand in the air, Hoseok sees the silver flash and doesn’t think twice, he just points it at him and shoots. A silencer, as it turns out, is extremely effective. All he hears is a pip. The recoil, on the other hand, is a whole bitch, and Hoseok feels like his shoulder might get blasted to pieces. The man yells and drops to his knees, knife sliding from his grasp and under the bed. Hoseok had gotten him right in the shoulder.
“Thought you were a civi,” the man gasps.
“I am,” Hoseok hisses, keeping the gun trained on him. “Fuck,” he says. “Now what?”
Yoongi’s eyes are wide.
“Hit him with the butt of the gun,” offers Yoongi, so Hoseok does just that, and the man crumples to the floor.
Jeongguk nearly drops his ramen in surprise when Hoseok calls him to tell him he’s just shot someone, what should I do? He manages to send someone to clear up his mess — a nurse rushes in the door and stitches him up, then another one comes in — this man is pretty, small and ethereal, but he picks up the grown assassin like he weighs nothing and smiles at the two of them.
“Yoongi hyung, looking good as always,” says the man, bowing his head slightly. “Hoseok hyung, nice aim.”
Hoseok blinks at him.
“It’s always good to see you, Jimin-ah,” grunts Yoongi, and he looks a little fond. “How’s life?”
“Ah,” says Jimin, hoisting the man onto his shoulder. “Missing you, hyung. Though,” he wrinkles his nose. “If you’re just going to get hurt, I’d rather I never see you again.”
Hoseok blinks at him. “You should come over for dinner sometimes.”
Jimin raises his eyebrows. “Yeah,” he agrees. “I’ve got dozens of stories of cleaning up hyung’s fuck ups,” and he laughs. “Remember that time with the swimming pool floatie—“
“Stop talking right now,” Yoongi threatens. Hoseok can hear Jimin’s laugh even as he walks away and down the corridors.
Yoongi comes home a month after he’s been hospitalised. Holly goes nuts, and Hoseok does a little too. They celebrate with pizza and coke and Hoseok kisses Yoongi until they’re both breathless and laughing into each other’s mouths instead.
“I love you,” Yoongi says, as he watches Hoseok pick all the pineapples off his pizza. “I love you so much.”
Hoseok blushes, then he says, “I love you too, James Bond.”
Yoongi scrunches up his nose. “My code name was Agust.”
“August? What kinda lame as—ow! Stop hitting me! Yooongi!”
When the dust all settles, Hoseok will ask him how all of this started. Yoongi will trace circles onto his chest and tell him about Namjoon, about a letter and a friend in need and Jeongguk, his hands red-raw from the handcuffs.
"Don't ever lie to me again," Hoseok makes him promise. "Don't ever."
Yoongi looks up at him and smiles. "I promise I won't," he says. "I shouldn't have kept it from you in the first place. I thought you'd..."
Hoseok raises an eyebrow. "Leave you?"
"I thought about it," says Hoseok seriously. "But I loved you. I love you. I think—even—I think I always knew."
"Still," Yoongi mutters. "Shouldn't have lied to you."
"Then tell me everything," Hoseok says, and Yoongi bites his lip and nods.
But those are stories for another day. Right now, Yoongi is home, and the Secret Agent Gang visits for dinner every other week, and Hoseok is happy, happier than he’s been in months. It’s all right. They’re all right.