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Happy Friendship Time

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The Usual Bullshit

 

The front door of their shared apartment has barely, just barely swung closed behind Namjoon when Yoongi starts up with his usual bullshit.

"So," Yoongi says, eyes slanting small and amused over his coffee mug. He's wrapped up in a large blanket at their kitchen island with only his face peeking out. A hand reaches out from the blanket to poke at his phone. "It's 9:28 am, Saturday the 6th of April, in the year of our Lord 2018. Tell me again all about how you don't want to fuck Kim Namjoon?"

"Oh, shut up," Hoseok says, batting irritably at the mass of Yoongi-blanket before continuing past him on the way to the coffee-maker for a refill. "I don't. And keep your voice down, you know his apartment is directly across the hall."

"Uh-huh."

"I don't!"

"Noted." Yoongi taps something into his phone, and Hoseok looks skyward and wishes for a peaceful and sudden death. "Are you taking fucking notes on my love life on your phone?"

"No," Yoongi says, sipping his coffee. "That would be weird."

"You're weird."

"Cut it out, you two," Seokjin says, ruffling a hand through his damp hair as he steps into the kitchen. "Morning friend-o. Morning, baby." Hoseok makes a disgusted face, pretending to gag as Seokjin steps around him to kiss Yoongi on top of his blanket.

"Never call me that again," Hoseok says, shaking his head. "And ew, don't kiss in front of me. It's like watching my siblings kiss."

Seokjin cackles. "Do you watch your siblings kiss often?" he says, and even Hoseok has to finally crack a smile at the sound of Seokjin's familiar squeaky laugh.

"So cranky whenever we bring up Namjoon, jeez," Yoongi says, sipping his coffee and acting like he wasn't the one that started it.

Hoseok sighs, pouring himself a new cup and sliding onto the stool across from where Seokjin and Yoongi are now happily cuddling inside their little blanket-fort.

"It's just, you guys know what he's like, and--oh my god, I am about to slap both of you, keep your hands where I can see them, please." Hoseok snickers, leaning over to yank at the blanket. "I'm seriously about to ban blankets in the kitchen. Like, put it on the roommate contract and everything."

"Spoil-sport," Yoongi says mildly.

"I don't know what he's like," Seokjin says, acting innocent and for all the world like he hasn't been dating Yoongi for the last eight months and consequently watched Hoseok moon over Namjoon for the same period of time. He removes his hands from inside Yoongi’s blanket. “Tell me, Hoseokkie. Pour your little broken heart out to Seokjin-hyung."

Hoseok glares. "Don't be rude."

Seokjin throws his hands up in fake-exasperation. "Okay, yes, I have watched you stare longingly at him for like a million years, and I have listened to you cry drunkenly about how much you want his dick. But it's not like you've ever told me the reason why," Seokjin says. He gives Yoongi an arch look. "Or like either of you have ever explained why he's always over here on Saturday mornings."

"Oh, Jesus," Yoongi says, swiping open a new app on his phone. "You had to ask, didn't you? This is going to be long. I'm playing Stardew Valley while we wait."

"You are literally just sitting here drinking a pot of coffee," Hoseok says.

"It's the principle of the thing," Yoongi says. "Now tell him. Tell him about Namjoon's weird one-night-stand-hopeless-romantic thing. Because it is definitely weird," he adds, almost as an afterthought. "He's a weird fucking dude."

"He's not weird, he's wonderful," Hoseok says, and then resists the urge to slap himself across the face. "God, okay, you're right. I sound pathetic even to myself."

"Tell me," Seokjin says, nudging Hoseok's arm. "Tell old Seokjinnie-hyung and we'll have you bouncing on that dick in no time."

"Wow, my farm is so amazing," Yoongi mutters, sounding pained. "A whole 345 gold worth of parsnips this morning? Fantastic!"

"Okay, okay," Hoseok says, hiding his grin in his coffee. "Um. I'm not even sure where to start with Namjoon, really."

"You're in love with him," Seokjin prompts. "Continue."

"I'm in love with him and he's in love with everyone," Hoseok says, after a long moment. "That's how the whole one night stand thing started. I think."

"The what," Seokjin says. "I'm sorry. The what?"

"One night stand thing," Hoseok says patiently. "That's why he's--okay, look. If he's over here on a Saturday morning, that means he's...you know. That he's had someone over the night before."

"He writes them letters," Yoongi mumbles, shaking his head.

Seokjin stares at them in mild disbelief. "He what," he says again.

"He just gets attached really easily," Hoseok says, sighing. "Or, he worries that he will, but he's not looking for a relationship right now. So instead of waking up with them in the morning and having it feel all wonderful and romantic and him falling in love by accident over cereal or something, he... leaves them a letter. And then he comes over here and hides in our kitchen until they're gone."

"Long letters," Yoongi says. "Sweet, heartfelt letters. Like, the nicest fucking letters you've ever read, seriously. I read one once and I thought I was going to cry."

"You cried?" Seokjin says, sounding aghast.

"No," Yoongi says, rolling his eyes. "I thought about it. Don't twist my words."

"That's… wow," Seokjin says. He pauses for a moment, digesting the news. "That's either the most emotionally mature or the most emotionally fucked-up thing I've ever heard."

"Welcome to Kim Namjoon," Hoseok says, sighing. "So do you get it now? I'd rather...I'd rather spend time with him every few weeks and live across the hall from him and be his friend. I don't want to get my own letter."

"984 gold worth of cauliflower, fuck yes," Yoongi mutters to himself.

"I hate to admit it," Seokjin says, sipping his coffee. "But yes. I do see your point."

 

Sometimes It’s Magic

 

The problem with Kim Namjoon, as far as Hoseok sees it, is that he's perfect.

Well, okay. He's not perfect. There's that whole "thanks for banging me" love-letter thing which, to be fair to Yoongi, is really fucking weird. He's also kind of gawky. Fairly awkward. He can be really petty, like the time he almost reported one of their neighbors down the hall for a noise complaint. His moods can shift rapidly from day to day, in a way that Hoseok finds hard to understand or grasp.

But then he's just...also kind of magical?

Hoseok wishes he could pinpoint what makes Namjoon so wonderful, but it's like trying to find a needle on a sandy beach washed by the tide. Namjoon is sweet and funny and absolutely brilliant, even though he tries to hide it. He's thoughtful, like all the times he's brought Hoseok his favorite coffee to say thank you for letting him hang out for a few hours. He works at at an environmental non-profit and really actually cares about the rainforest and deforestation and the rising salinity of the world's lakes and ponds. He likes to donate to help animals that are, as Seokjin likes to put it, "aesthetically challenged", because he's worried that no else one will want to save them.

But maybe none of that even matters. Maybe it's just that Hoseok's chest feels so warm when he sees him, and that he actually laughs at Hoseok's jokes, real laughter, no irony or sarcasm in sight. Hoseok is used to being part of a team at work, and he excels at it, but when Namjoon talks to him he's so real and so honest that he makes Hoseok feel like the only person in the room. The only person in the galaxy.

Hoseok doesn't think of himself as particularly narcissistic, but it's just...nice. It feels like, for whatever reason, Namjoon sees him and understands him, and it's been so long since Hoseok felt like that with someone.

If that means forgoing his own apology-slash-love-letter just to keep Namjoon around in his life, well.

So be it.

Therapy Burritos

 

"Hey," Namjoon says, as soon as Hoseok opens the door the next Saturday morning. He's more dressed than normal. Hoseok frowns, taking in his actual clothing and actual shoes and actual lack of bedhead. He blinks.

"Um," Namjoon says. "Uh. Is this a bad time? I thought--" He holds up a bag of burritos, and Hoseok's stomach rumbles.

"Gimme," Hoseok manages, through his haze of sleep. They'd had a wrap party last night for the dance company's latest production, and he's still hungover. "Gimme the burritos, oh my god, I love you, fuck."

"Aw, I deeply value and respect you too," Namjoon says, smiling wide enough so that his dimples show.

"I was talking to the burritos," Hoseok says, tugging them out of Namjoon's hand and waving Joon into the kitchen. "But you can come too, I guess,"

Namjoon snickers. "Thanks," he says. "Where's everyone else?"

"They're at Seokjin's for the night," Hoseok says, beginning to unpack the food from the bag. It smells like heaven. His stomach growls. "Which, like, thank fuck. I was so drunk last night after the party, I would have been miserable if I had to come home and listen to them boning all night."

"Same," Namjoon says, sympathetically.

Hoseok frowns.

"It's Saturday morning," he says, suddenly suspicious. "You didn't…?"

"Oh," Namjoon says, his cheeks pinking. "No, uh. Not really? Tae came by, but he just slept over. I think he and Jungkook are exclusive now."

"Huh," Hoseok says, biting into the burrito and chewing thoughtfully. "You know, your love life never ceases to amaze and astound me."

"It's not really that astounding," Namjoon says. "It's, just. You know. I like to stay friends with people."

"Master, teach me your ways," Hoseok intones, through a mouth full of beans and rice. They've been over this, and it's one of the reasons Hoseok finds their friendship so fascinating, if occasionally depressing. If Namjoon falls in love too easy, Hoseok does the exact opposite. He doesn't like to fuck and run, because that's rude and he's a nice young man, but he always makes it very clear to his hookups that it's a one-night-only engagement.

"You stay friends with people," Namjoon says, frowning as he unwraps his own burrito. "Seokjin is literally banging your roommate. Has been banging your roommate for the past however-many months."

"Kim Seokjin is an exception," Hoseok says, waving a hand. "That was just… sex. I mean, don't get me wrong. It was really good sex. But Jin-hyung's...I don't know. Weird. He's a weird dude. He decided we were all friends and didn't give me a choice in the matter."

"And?" Namjoon is giving him this gentle look, like he really came over here with burritos just to hear all about Hoseok's current life crisis, and it's fucking Hoseok up. It's just fucking him up, because if he keeps talking he's going to end up spilling everything to Namjoon, about how he's accidentally in love with him and once Hoseok falls, he falls hard, and there's no way they could stay friends afterward, but Hoseok doesn't want to take away Namjoon's independence or force him into an exclusive relationship he doesn't want, and, and--

"Hoseok? Hobi. You stopped breathing there for a second." Namjoon's concerned face is growing exponentially more concerned.

Hoseok shakes his head. "I'm fine," he says. "I'm just. Thinking about stuff. Life. You know how it is."

"Wow," Namjoon says. "Very specific."

"Don't you give me that," Hoseok says, frowning as Namjoon goes to pull two mugs down from the cabinet and start making them both coffee. "You and your actual clothing and--lack of pajamas and your--your therapy burritos--"

"Uh, don't give me that much credit," Namjoon says, and that color is back again, high on his cheekbones, and Hoseok tries not to think about what it might mean. "I just really wanted burritos."

"Fine," Hoseok says, throwing up his hands even though Namjoon hasn't pressed the issue. He can feel his brain yelling at him to stop talking, but the words still spill out. "Fine. I'm just. I really like someone, okay? I really like someone and it's stupid and they don't want me and it's a terrible idea between us anyway and I'm cranky about it."

"Ouch," Namjoon says, sympathetically. "Someone at the company?"

"I… yeah," Hoseok says, beginning to panic as his brain catches up with his mouth. "Sort of. Maybe. Yes! Yeah. Definitely someone at the company. Yep."

"That sucks," Namjoon says. He passes Hoseok his mug of coffee over the table, and then sits back down again. "I'm. I may be in a similar situation." He grimaces.

"What? No," Hoseok says. "You? You get laid like, at least once a month. Who wouldn't want to fuck you?"

Namjoon looks slightly pained. "It's not just--I mean, I never---there's usually an emotional connection--"

"Fine, you 'emotionally connect' once a month," Hoseok says, air quotations and all. "Who wouldn't want you? I'll go find them and beat them up for you. That's bullshit." He takes an annoyed bite of his burrito.

"Well," Namjoon says. "I mean. That's the other reason I'm over here with burritos this morning. And the reason Tae and I only cuddled last night." He's drumming his fingertips on the countertop, looking suddenly terrified, which doesn't make any sense. Namjoon loves cuddling.

"You love cuddling," Hoseok says. "Why do you look like you're going to throw up? Was it like, non-consensual cuddling? Oh my god, did Taehyung non-consensually cuddle you?"

Namjoon sighs, leaning over and carefully placing his hand over Hoseok's mouth. "Stop talking," he says, gently but firmly. "You're being an asshole. Don't joke about that."

"...Sorry," Hoseok says, grimacing.

"And anyway," Namjoon says. "No. Tae isn't the problem. All cuddling was extremely consensual."

"That's good," Hoseok says, still feeling stupid. It's just--Namjoon knows everything. He's so smart, and so careful with his words, and he always knows how to gently call Hoseok or Seokjin or Jungkook out when they're accidentally being dicks and letting their mouths run away with them. Hoseok feels like an idiot.

"I'm sorry I'm an idiot."

"You're not an idiot," Namjoon says. "But, I, uh. I think I'm going to just...try celibacy for a while."

Hoseok blinks.

"Huh," he says, because he can't think of anything else to say. Then, "Wait, does that mean we have to stop hanging out?"

"I...was hoping not?" Namjoon says, and now he really is bright red and oh, OH. Hoseok gets it.

"Bribes!" he says, waving the empty burrito bag in Namjoon's face. "These were bribes! Burrito bribes! Oh my god, you little shit, you were bribing me because you thought I'd say no?"

Namjoon ducks his head.

"You're a dumbass," Hoseok says, fondly. He reaches across the table, gently flicking at Namjoon's forehead until Namjoon makes an annoyed sound and looks up at him. "Of course I want to hang out. You don't need an excuse."

Namjoon rubs the back of his neck, still awkward. "I was just...it's so nice coming over here on the weekends? I thought. I thought maybe, if you're not busy--"

"Spit it out, Namjoon."

"You'dmaybeliketohaveitbearegularthing."

Hoseok blinks. "What," he says, because he's a goddamn intellectual.

Namjoon takes a deep breath. "I thought--that you'd maybe--and we don't have to stay here, we could go out, sometimes--there's this really pretty park I've been meaning to go to, and this great restaurant I think you'd really like--"

"Oh," Hoseok says, and tries to ignore the flipping sensation in his chest. "Oh. You want to like. Have a standing…" Date, he thinks. No, wait, don't say date. "...Happy Friendship time?"

Namjoon presses his lips together, looking like he's trying not to laugh. "Yes," he says earnestly. "Yes. I would really like that."

"Well, damn," Hoseok says, all of his feelings swimming around in his chest, like he's a goddamn living fishbowl or something. This is a bad idea. This is such a bad idea. "Awesome. Sure. Let's get it."

 

Emergency Friendship Soju

 

Yoongi stares at him for a long, long moment.

" 'Happy Friendship Time'?" he says, eventually, holding his long fingers up to make delicate, incredibly sarcastic air quotes.

"I panicked," Hoseok says, wiping a hand over his face. "Oh, god. Where's the beer? I need more beer."

"I mean, I have soju in my bag," Jimin says, before he's violently shushed by Yoongi and given the death stare. "What?" Jimin says, giving the table an offended look. "Sometimes you need it on short notice."

"I'm pretty sure that's called alcoholism, Jiminie."

"The bottle isn't open, jeez," Jimin says, giving him an even more offended look. "It's for "Emergency Friendship Times'." More air quotes. "Like when your dumbass hyung does something incredibly stupid, and the only way to function is by drinking half a bottle of soju immediately. Like right now."

"Let me get this straight," Yoongi says. "In one (1) morning, while I was away at Seokjin's getting the best blowjob of my--"

"NOPE," Jimin says, almost loud enough to drown out Hoseok's yelp of, "HYUNG, WHY?"

"Okay, fine," Yoongi says. "While I was Seokjin's last night have a loving fucking game of Parcheesi--"

"You would." Jimin raises his eyebrow, as if daring Yoongi to contest the fact.

"If you don't let me finish I'm going to strangle you," Yoongi says, calmly, sipping from his giant glass of red wine. Hoseok considers pointing out that it's only two pm, but he's also considering asking Jimin for his Emergency Friendship Soju, so he decides to keep his mouth shut.

"Anyway," Yoongi continues. "In one morning, while I was away, you managed to not only accidentally confess your love to Namjoon without telling him it was about him--"

Jimin gives Hoseok a sympathetic look, and then slides the bottle of soju across the table.

"And now he's decided to be celibate, but he wants to take you on weekly friendship dates," Yoongi finishes. He gives Hoseok a deeply unimpressed look.

"Yes?" Hoseok says, hesitantly.

"You're a fucking idiot," Yoongi says.

"Accurate," Jimin says, nodding sympathetically in Hoseok's direction.

"What? No," Hoseok says, even though he's fairly certain his friends are right and that he is a total idiot. "It's--it will be fine! We'll. We'll bond."

"Oh my god," Yoongi says, groaning and rubbing at his forehead with his fingertips. "Jiminie-yah. Please explain to my colossal cockup of a roommate what's actually happening here."

"He's in love with you," Jimin says, patting Hoseok's hand. Then he pauses. "Wait. He's not aromantic, right?"

Hoseok frowns. "Not that I know of?"

"Okay," Jimin says. "Then okay, yes, you're an idiot. He's decided he wants to stop sleeping with other people, because he's in love with you. And then he asked if you could hang out every week, because--"

"Okay, okay, I get it, I get it," Hoseok says. "Except--no, that doesn't make any sense? This is Namjoon. He's very serious about that stuff. If he says he wants to try celibacy, I'm sure he really means it. He probably has...reasons. Deep reasons. Philosophical reasons." He gives up and unscrews the soju cap, taking a long slug straight from the bottle.

"Or he's in love with you," Yoongi says. "Why does no one listen when I talk?"

 

Happy Friendship Time, Week 1

 

"Namjoon," Hoseok says, staring out the window of the bus as they pass yet another not-particularly-familiar neighborhood in Yangjae-dong. "Kim Namjoon. Is this all a flimsy pretense to kill me? Because I promise you, Yoongi won't help you hide my body. He's a fickle little minx."

"No," Namjoon says, for what is probably the eighth time that morning. He's all wrapped up in a knitted hat and a hoodie and a light scarf, despite the fact that it's April. He looks adorable and his dimples keep peeking out and it's doing terrible things to Hoseok's insides. "No, I just don't want to ruin the surprise? I promise this isn't some epic murder plot. I'd make a terrible murderer."

"But what if you're only saying that so I won't suspect you," Hoseok says, leaning over and raising an eyebrow at Namjoon suspiciously. "You're all super smart and stuff."

"I'm not a murdere--okay, you know what, give me your phone," Namjoon says, sighing. "Wait, I ran out of hands. Can we trade? My coffee for your phone?"

"Yes," Hoseok says, trying not to snicker as he hands . "Also, thank you for not murdering me. I appreciate it."

"You're welcome," Namjoon says gravely. "Also, this is where we're going." Hoseok looks down at his phone as he hands Namjoon's coffee back.

"Yangjae Citizens' Forest?" he says. "Huh. I've definitely never heard of it. But--oh, wow. It looks so pretty."

"There are 10,000 trees and 52,000 shrubs in this forest," Namjoon says, earnestly. "Wait--okay, not 10,000 different species of trees. That would be insane. But there are 10,000 separate trees. Although trees can't really be separated like that, you know? That's just an artifact of how we think. Trees in a forest are more like micro-organisms of a macro-level living root system, you know? Just organisms that live on a different--um, a different--"

Hoseok stares. Don't tell him you love him, the voice inside his head whispers unhelpfully.

"...a different time scale," Namjoon finishes. "Trees, I mean. They live on a different time scale than we do." He's blushing. "Sorry. Did I get carried away again?"

"No," Hoseok says, too quickly. "No, I really like listening to you talk about trees. It's nice."

"Nice," Namjoon says, giving him a disbelieving look. "Is that just a synonym for boring?"

"No, I mean it's nice and it's comforting and I genuinely think all your tree facts are always really interesting and--"

Hoseok's saved from himself by Namjoon suddenly standing up and announcing "Oh, this is our stop!" and tugging on Hoseok's sleeve with his free hand. Their fingers brush as they exit the bus, and Hoseok tries not to think about it too much.

"Um," Hoseok says, once the bus has pulled away. "Okay. Wow." They're standing near the entrance to what looks like a gorgeous forest, shrouded in the last of the late-spring morning mist.

"See why I wanted to come here?" Namjoon says, as they start to walk forward. They both look up, enjoying the view of the tree canopy as they enter the park through a small pathway. There's a soft smile on Namjoon's face and Hoseok maybe, possibly wants to die. This was a terrible idea. He's barely an hour into Happy Friendship Time and he already wants to throw himself into the nearest tree trunk because Namjoon is too adorable to exist. "It's nothing fancy, I guess. It's just...supposed to be really beautiful."

"There's a lot of couples," Hoseok says, looking around.

"Oh," Namjoon says. His ears are red. "Are there? Huh."

"Yeah," Hoseok says. There's a few families, and down one of the pathways there's what looks like a children's park, but the vast majority of the visitors are couples--smiling, laughing, holding hands, taking each other's pictures. "Like...everyone here?"

"Huh, weird," Namjoon says. "Oh, wow, look." He's stopped in front of a small kiosk selling flowers; they're arranged in little bunches on the table, tied with ribbons and raffia. The ahjumma behind the table smiles at them as she works slowly and methodically, placing just the right blooms together. "These are so pretty. Although I always feel bad for the flowers, you know?"

"I do not know," Hoseok says, after a long moment spent trying to parse that one out. "Enlighten me."

"Well," Namjoon says, picking up a small bouquet of pink azalea flowers and sunny daffodils. "The flowers aren't growing anymore, you know? Like if they hadn't been cut down, they'd still be alive. So in a way, we're responsible for their deaths." He nods at the flower seller, setting the bouquet down on the table and reaching into his pocket for his wallet.

"Oh," Namjoon says, frowning. "Oh my--oh, shit. Oh my god. Do you have my wallet?"

"Right here, compadre," Hoseok says, rolling his eyes and pulling it out of his coat pocket. "You set it down on my lap when we got on the bus."

"Oh, thank fuck," Namjoon says. "Oh, uh. Sorry." He winces at the flower seller, who is now giving him a disapproving look for swearing.

"Ma'am, how much? For these?" Namjoon asks, very politely. 15,000 won and one minute later he's the proud owner of a new bouquet of flowers, and Hoseok is even more confused.

"You literally just said that cut flowers contribute to the, uh. Cruelty-towards-flowers-industry," Hoseok says, frowning as they walk away from the stand.

"Yeah, but I like supporting female-owned small businesses," Namjoon says. "Besides, these are pretty. Here, you take them."

"Me?" Hoseok says, swallowing hard. Namjoon's ears are aggressively pink. "Why?"

Namjoon shrugs. "You saved my ass and found my wallet."

Hoseok bites his lip. The flowers are pretty, the daffodils pale yellow and cream with pops of bright pink azaleas woven in between.

"Thanks," he says, tucking them into the side-pocket of his backpack. "Um. Really, thank you." He laughs, awkward and too loud, even though nothing is funny.

"Don't worry about it," Namjoon says, shoving his hands into his pockets. He's staring down at his feet like they contain the secrets to the universe. "Anyway. Um. Do...you want to go look at some trees?"

 

Happy Friendship Time: The Debriefing

 

"He did what," Seokjin gasps, scandalized, like Hoseok is telling him the juiciest tabloid gossip of the century. They're all clustered around a table at a restaurant far away from Hoseok and Yoongi's apartment so they won't run into Namjoon. Hoseok takes a large swig of his beer. He needs to be more drunk for this conversation. "He bought you what?"

"Flowers," Hoseok says, miserably. Yoongi coughs, sounding suspiciously like he's trying not to laugh. "But they weren't for me. Not really."

"Hoseok," Jimin says, very gently. He places his hand on Hoseok's arm. He and Seokjin have already split two bottles of soju between them, so he wobbles a little. "You are my bro. My pal. I love you. I might even, on a good day, throw myself in harm's way for you. Probably. But I would never, under any circumstances, buy you flowers."

"Yeah," Seokjin says, refilling their soju glasses. His hand is unsteady, and he's giggling. "That's like. He wants it, bro."

"He was supporting female-owned small businesses!" Hoseok says, the last few notes coming out in a wail. Yoongi slaps him on the shoulder, shushing him even as he loses some internal battle and bursts out laughing.

"He bought you flowers," Yoongi gasps, reaching forward for a swig of his whiskey. The bulgogi sizzles on the table, and Yoongi reaches for the tongs. "Oh my god. He fuckin' bought you flowers."

"Because I found his wallet!"

"Because he wants the D," Jimin says, raising his glass towards Seokjin as they down the shot together. "Oh my god. Wait! Wait, this was in this book I was reading. This fuckin'...this fucking mystery novel. It was like, Victorian? I think? Flowers totally mean shit!"

"Yeah," Yoongi says. "In this case they mean 'please let me touch your penis.'"

"They mean like, romantic shit," Jimin says, rolling his eyes. "Besides the dick-touching. They mean--oooh," he says, giving the rest of the table a saucy grin and reading aloud from his phone. "The azalea flower is a symbol of femininity and of softness; it is something that you would give a loved one."

"Ew," Hoseok says. "I'm not a girl. Also, what the fuck, there's no way he could possibly have known that."

"WAIT," Jimin says, his eyes going round. "Wait, holy fuck. Okay. You said it was daffodils, right?" At Hoseok's nod, he shakes his head, whistling. "Jin-hyung, you read this one. The rest of you won't believe me otherwise."

"There's a fairly low chance of me believing Jin-hyung's bullshit on a good day," Hoseok says.

Yoongi sighs. "Give me the phone," he says, holding out a hand imperiously. He sets the tongs down, then blinks in surprise as he takes the phone in his hand and scrolls down to find the entry on this screen.

"Uh," Yoongi says. "Okay. Um. Wow."

"I told you it means dick-touching," Seokjin says.

"Daffodils," Yoongi begins to read out loud, giving Hoseok an incredulous look. "A flower that symbolizes hope and the birth of new beginnings. In Victorian times it was said to mean 'You are an angel' or alternately, 'The sun always shines when I'm with you.'."

"Well," Hoseok says. "Well, fuck," he says, dropping his head into his hands.

 

Happy Friendship Time, Week 2

 

Hoseok should have known.

He should have known that when Namjoon told Hoseok to meet him at the Yeouido dock next to the Han River at Hangang Park, he'd come across something like this. Namjoon is sitting on the dock with a cup of shredded bread in his hand, surrounded by squawking seagulls, laughing in delight as they dive down to fight over the bread he's tossing out into the bay.

"Hoseok! Hey!" Namjoon says, smiling and waving to Hoseok through the shrieking din. He's not the only one feeding the seagulls--there's a sign near the river advertising cups of bread for a very reasonable price--but Hoseok is staying over here, thank you. Seagulls are terrifying. He had his hat stolen by one once, and he's never been the same.

"Hey!" Hoseok says, willing a smile onto his face. Great. This is fantastic. He'd already been slightly nervous at the prospect of a boat ride, but Yoongi had assured him that it would probably be a big boat, as there was no way Namjoon would be able to handle something as complicated as kayaking or wakeboarding.

(Which is fair, to be honest. Namjoon resembles a very large, very earnest baby giraffe on a good day.)

Either way, the boat the end of the dock is large, a huge steamer boat meant for tourists, with rows of decks and hundreds of life vests proudly displayed. It's probably fine. Hoseok probably won't die.

But.

But seagulls, though.

"You okay?" Namjoon says, standing up and starting to walk down the dock, towards Hoseok. The cup of bread is still in his hand, and a seagull sees an opportunity and dives for it. Hoseok can't help the shriek he lets out in response, or the way he possibly cowers under his hand.

"Hobi," Namjoon says, noticing Hoseok's sudden distress. "Hoseok-ah, are you okay--"

"LEAVE THE BREAD," Hoseok says, gesturing frantically, seeing his doom flying ever closer on seagull-shaped wings. "NAMJOON, GET RID OF THE BREAD!"

"What--oh," Namjoon says, his eyes going wide. Hoseok gives up on his self-esteem, and turns away, huddling into his scarf, before he's suddenly held close against a tall, warm body that smells a lot like Namjoon.

"I'm so sorry," Namjoon is saying, as he hugs Hoseok closer. "I'm--shit, I'm so sorry. I didn't know. The bread's gone. I threw it over the side."

"It's okay," Hoseok says, refusing to remove his face from Namjoon's neck. There might still be seagulls out there. He has to take precautions. "Um. I just. I don't really like seagulls."

"I can tell," Namjoon says gently.

"This is so embarrassing," Hoseok mumbles.

"Hey, it's okay," Namjoon says. "Hey. Don't be embarrassed. I, ah. I wanted you to come with me today because...well, I was scared to go alone."

Hoseok peers up from Namjoon's neck. He's very firmly ignoring the way that Namjoon is still loosely holding him around the waist. It's cold on the dock. They should definitely be huddling for warmth. Everything about this is normal. "What?"

"I've never been on a boat," Namjoon says, coloring slightly. "I realize that's ridiculous. I know it is. But I got real scared of Lake Park in Ilsan as a kid, you know? I fell in one day when I was four and like, I swear to god I almost drowned. Although both my parents will tell you I'm being over dramatic. But it felt like I almost drowned."

Hoseok blinks. "Oh," he says, straightening up and holding Namjoon tighter. "Oh, Joon-ah, that sounds horrible. But look, I promise--this will be safe! Look at it. It's huge. We probably won't drown. Like, 98% probability chance."

"2% seems like a reasonable amount of risk," Namjoon agrees, but his voice is a little shaky.

"Come on," Hoseok says, twisting his body around so he can squeeze Namjoon's hand. "Come on, you got this! You saved me from the seagulls. I promise we'll go on the boat together and I'll, I don't know. Throw you on a lifeboat in case the boat capsizes. Like Jack and Rose from Titanic."

"You'll be my Jack?" Namjoon says, grinning down at him shyly.

Kiss him, Hoseok's brain informs him, unhelpfully. Just kiss him. It will be fine.

"Yeaaaaaah," Hoseok says weakly, squeezing his hand again instead. Celibacy. Right. Celibacy means no kissing, right. Definitely no kissing. "Yeah. Totally."

"Okay," Namjoon says. "Then I'm glad I already bought your ticket." He digs in his pocket, handing a slip of paper to Hoseok after a moment. "But more importantly--guess what opened last weekend?"

"What?"

"The Banpo Rainbow Fountain," Namjoon says, and his eyes are sparkling. "We're going to go right by it."

"Oh my god," Hoseok says, immediately forgetting to be nervous. "Oh my god, that's so cool? That's so cool. Come on, come on!" Hoseok is so fucking excited. He's wanted to see this stupid fountain forever, ever since he saw a mockup of how it would look once it's open. He's been too busy with work to brave the crowds but this is perfect. How on earth did Namjoon know?

Namjoon follows him willingly down the dock as Hoseok tugs him along, rambling about how gorgeous the fountain is supposed to be, but then Namjoon stops just shy of the gangplank and takes a deep breath.

"Hold my hand really tight," Hoseok says, forgetting to be nervous. He just wants Namjoon to conquer his fear and get on this boat and see the fountain with him. It's a beautiful day and it's going to be gorgeous out on the water and Hoseok might be a little nervous around boats but that's nothing compared to what Namjoon went through. This is something Namjoon absolutely has to experience, and wants to experience, and Hosek is suddenly determined to help him get through it.

"Got it," Namjoon says faintly. "Yep."

"It's okay," Hoseok says. "One hand on the rope, okay? I've got you."

"Right." Namjoon's face is a little pale, so Hoseok darts in front of him, so he can walk backwards and lead Namjoon up the gangplank while holding his hand

"Gonna be okay!" Hoseok says, using the soothing voice he puts on whenever he teaches children's classes. "See, you're doing it!" Namjoon's hand is white-knuckled on his own.

"I'm fine," Namjoon says, looking right into Hoseok's eyes, sounding like he's not sure he believes it. "I'm totally...fine? Oh, we're already on the boat!"

"We're on the boat," Hoseok says, giddy and breathless, both from the feeling of solid wood under his feet and the overwhelming sensation of Namjoon looking deep into his eyes for an extended period of time. "And we're going to see the fountain, and--oh, oh wow, is there someone playing guitar?"

"It's the acoustic cruise," Namjoon says, pinking across his cheekbones, or maybe it's just the April winds. "I thought it would be nice."

"It's perfect," Hoseok says. "It's the perfect, um. The perfect Happy Friendship Time."

"Exactly," Namjoon says, holding on tight to his hand.

 

Happy Friendship Time 2: The Debriefing

 

"So what you're saying," Jimin says, having given up on his wine glass and just drinking directly from his bottle. "What you're saying is that you re-enactor--reanacteded--you guys were like that fuckin' scene from The Little Mermaid." They're all lying in Hoseok and Yoongi's living room, draped over various items of furniture. It's barely nine pm. Hoseok is very, very drunk.

"Oh my goddddd," Yoongi groans, rolling around on their carpet, holding his stomach as he giggles. "With the boat!! The rowboat!!" Hoseok wonders when the last time he vacuumed the carpet was, and then ignores it. It's not like Yoongi will give a shit. Hoseok is the only neat freak in this house, sadly.

"No," Hoseok says helplessly. "It wasn't like that at all. I think? It's been a long time since I've seen The Little Mermaid." This is a lie. He and Yoongi watched it last week, the both of them squished on their tiny couch under approximately sixteen blankets, with Yoongi railing about the erasure of queer drag culture when Ursula came on screen. They both cried when Ariel got her legs. Hoseok is hoping Yoongi is too drunk to remember.

"You guys watched it last week!" Seokjin yells, gesturing wildly. "Yoongichi called me crying! He never cries!"

"Shit," Hoseok says, hanging his head. He flops a hand out for the wine bottle, and continues flopping it emphatically until Jimin notices and puts the actual bottle in his hand. "Wait, guyssssss. He's right across the hall, don'tyell!"

"Did the frogs sing?" Yoongi giggles, from his place on the carpet. He's killed a solid quarter of his bottle of single-malt scotch. Hoseok suspects--no, he knows--that Yoongi is very much enjoying their weekly debriefing sessions, mostly because they always involve copious amounts of food, alcohol, and blankets.

"There were no frogs," Hoseok says. "There were seagulls. And the Banpo fountain. And a guy with an acoustic guitar, and oh, god, did I even tell you? Namjoon made friends with the family next to us and their toddler lovedhim--"

"What," Jimin says, affronted. "That's your job!"

"I know!" Hoseok moans sadly. "He's as good with kids as I am! What the fuck is that!!"

Their next-door neighbors--a quiet, bookish pair of girls who Yoongi swears are actually dating--bang on their shared wall.

"Sorry!" Seokjin yells back. "Gay crisis!"

"It's fine!" one of them yells back. "Just shut up for the next ten minutes, okay? They're gonna kiss!" Hoseok can hear the sound of Grand Prince playing in the background. Definitely an older episode, but Hoseok can relate. A good Tivo marathon is nothing to fuck with.

"That's fair," Jimin says, lowering his voice. "I've been waiting for Hwi and Jahyun to kiss for fucking ever."

"You watch it?" Yoongi raises an eyebrow at Jimin.

"You don't watch it?" Seokjin says to Yoongi, sounding horrified. He toes the bottle of scotch on the floor away from Yoongi's grasping fingers. "What have I been doing with my life?"

"God, I didn't even tell you about the seagulls!" Hoseok wails, lowering his voice after there's another banging noise on the wall.

"Aren't you afraid of seagulls?" Yoongi says, rolling over onto his belly to chase after his bottle of scotch. "You're like, terrified of seagulls."

"He was feeding them!" Hoseok hisses. "Like fucking Snow White or some shit! And then when I was like ohhhh, oh hellno, he--he put the bread down and came and--and--" Oh, lord. He's too drunk for this. Hoseok can feel the tears lurking at the corners of his eyes. "He came and hugged me! He let me hide in his neck and he's so tall and he smells really good and he rubbed my back," Hoseok finishes and oh, shit. Nope. He's crying. Being a happy crier is the worst.

"Oh no, baby," Jimin says, jumping up and stumbling over to Hoseok on the couch. "Honey, no, don't cry." Hoseok sighs and wipes at his face, hiding it in Jimin's shoulder.

"We're all fucking disasters," Seokjin says, looking around the room. "We are literally the definition of 'a disaster of gays' right now."

"A 'disaster of gays?' " Yoongi says, frowning.

"It's the collective noun," Seokjin says, laughing his odd, honking laugh.

"Give me the scotch," Yoongi says, sighing and rolling his eyes. On the couch, Hoseok sniffles as Jimin rubs his back and makes cooing noises. "Just shut up and give me back the scotch, asshole."

 

Happy Friendship Time, Week 3

 

Hoseok's day is not going well.

One of his favorite students slipped and fell that morning in dance class, and Hoseok just--he hates it when kids hurt themselves in his class, hates having to explain to their parents how Haeun needed to take it easy for the rest of the day or Sejun needed to go home and ice his knee so it wouldn't swell. They're his kids, goddamnit. He should have been watching closer, doing more. He can't shake off the feeling that he should have done something to prevent it.

The day just turned into a cascade of misery, one minor annoyance after another. Jimin was late to take over the front desk, so Hoseok was stuck there for an extra half-hour past his shift. There was a giant sale event in Myeongdong that drew out even the locals, so he fought past crowds to find the right bus. The first two had been so jam-packed he couldn't even dream of getting on.

That had made him late to his stupid hair appointment, the one that Jimin had been bugging him to make for months; afterwards, he was suddenly unsure if he'd really wanted this undercut in the first place. He'd originally planned on it to make dancing easier--less hair on his head was less hair getting sweaty--but what if Namjoon didn't like it? What if Namjoon--

And then there was Namjoon, and his evening not-date with Namjoon.

Their Happy Friendship Time was planned this week for the evening, to be at Namjoon's new favorite restaurant, and Hoseok's stomach hurt all day just thinking about it. And yet the aforementioned shitty day had left him rushing to get ready; his favorite jeans hadn't been clean; he'd left the house late, feeling awkward and miserable and still itchy from the remnants of the haircut on his neck.

Now he's staring down at a menu that's all in French, while Namjoon converses with their young exchange-student waiter in fluent Japanese.

"You speak Japanese?" Hoseok asks, trying not to sound like he's panicking as the waiter bows and walks away. "That's. Um, that's cool."

"I'm not great at it," Namjoon says, ducking his head. He's dressed nicely, a blue button-down shirt and a red sweater rolled up to show his forearms. Hoseok's own shirt has creases in it because he hadn't had time to iron, and he's got hat-hair from jamming a baseball cap on his head.

"She said she's just come back from studying in France, which is why she works here, because they get a lot of French tourists. But she was embarrassed about her Korean, and my French is pretty terrible, so…"

"How many languages do you speak, exactly?" Hoseok says, trying to digest this new information.

"Fluently, or…?"

"Uh," Hoseok says. "Enough to get around in. Functional level. I guess? "

"Hmmm," Namjoon says, sounding like he's having a very hard time coming up with the answer. Hoseok speaks exactly one language. What was he thinking, coming here, to this nice French restaurant with Joon? How on earth had he ever thought he was going to measure up?

"Five, I think," Namjoon says, after a moment. "I'm fluent in Korean, obviously, but also in English. I'm decent in Japanese. Okay in Chinese and French...my Russian is honestly terrible, but my--"

"Okay, I get it, I'm sorry I asked," Hoseok mutters. It's mean, and he knows its mean, but he can't help it. He wants to get up and run out of this restaurant, away from the muted, recessed lighting and stained glass windows and strange menu that he can't understand.

"Sorry," Namjoon's face says, falling. "I--um. You did ask?"

"I did," Hoseok says, sighing. He puts the menu down. It's not like he's going to understand it if he suddenly stares at it harder. "I'm sorry. I just. I've had an awful day. One of my kids fell in class."

"Oh no," Namjoon says, his eyes going large and round. "Oh no, are they--"

"They're fine."

"Thank god."

"Yeah, but it's so fucking stressful," Hoseok says, tugging a hand through his bangs. "And then downtown was mobbed, and I don't know if I even like my new haircut, and I didn't have enough time to get changed? So like. Sorry I look like an idiot, by the way." His tone is coming out sharper and sharper, to the point where he has to physically modulate it by the end of his last sentence.

"I like your hair," Namjoon says, looking down, rubbing at the back of his neck with one hand. "It's. It's very...is it weird if I say it's sexy?"

"I don't know, you're the celibate one," Hoseok says, trying not to sound passive-aggressive and failing. "Are you still allowed to find things sexy?"

Namjoon swallows. "I think you need some wine," he says gently, after a moment. He's trying to be nice, Hoseok can tell, but he can also read the way Namjoon's body language keeps tucking in, getting smaller and smaller as Hoseok turns more of his ire onto Namjoon.

Hoseok feels like a fucking asshole.

"I'm sorry," Hoseok says, rubbing his temples. "I'm not sure wine will be enough tonight. I think I need a brain transplant instead."

"Hey, you're okay," Namjoon says, reaching out and linking their fingers together. Hoseok stares down at their hands, fingers gently intertwined on the patterned tablecloth. "Everyone has bad days."

"I'm having the worst fucking day." Hoseok tries to smile, tries to make it a joke, but the joke won't come. That's the worst thing about Namjoon, honestly, is that he never falls for Hoseok's bullshit. He can always see through Hoseok's jokes right into his soul, and some days it's almost too much.

"We all have bad days," Namjoon says. He squeezes Hoseok's hand. His palm is sweaty, like he's nervous about something. Hoseok doesn't know what Namjoon has to be nervous about. He's handsome and he speaks five languages and he looks good in dumb hipster sweaters. Namjoon is magical and perfect and Hoseok doesn't know what he was thinking, having a crush on someone so wonderful.

"I'm a terrible fucking friend tonight," Hoseok says, instead of all the misery that's rolling around inside of him.

"No," Namjoon says, and he looks so earnest Hoseok can't decide whether he wants to punch him, or cry, or maybe cry while punching him. "No, you're...Hoseok, you're a really good friend. You're like, my--favorite friend?"

Hoseok blinks.

"I'm what?" he says, a little unsteadily.

"You're my--god, this is why I write letters," Namjoon says, laughing awkwardly at nothing. He presses his lips together, staring down at the table, and Hoseok can't breathe, because Namjoon just brought up the subject of letters, and, no. He wouldn't.

Would he?

"Namjoon," Hoseok says, swallowing hard. He takes a sip from his water glass, trying to calm himself down. He wills his voice to stay even. He's an adult. He's got this. "Please tell me you didn't write me a letter."

"But I did," Namjoon says, and he looks miserable, honestly, searching for something in his bag, muttering under his breath when he can't find it, and--

Shit.

Hoseok takes a deep breath.

Hoseok takes a deep breath, and tries to tell himself that this was always going to happen. It was. He should have expected it. He let himself get too comfortable. This was always the way it was going to end, and he needs to make his peace with that, but he knows, suddenly, that it's not going to go that way tonight, because Hoseok isn't just hurt.

He's furious.

"Okay, no, you know what, fuck that," Hoseok says. He places his hands carefully on the table.

Breathe, Jung Hoseok. Breathe.

"What?" Namjoon's eyes are large and so round and so confused. Hoseok reminds himself that his dance teacher salary doesn't cover broken French tableware, and that he needs to keep his shit together.

"I don't care what they told you in grad school," Hoseok says slowly, and he's proud of the way his voice doesn't shake, proud of the way it becomes cold and flippant and as cutting as the icicles still lingering on the street lamps outside. "I don't care what they told you about actualizing your feelings, or communication, or--any of that really."

"What?" Namjoon says, incredibly lost.

"Because you know what? Hiding behind your stupid letters just makes you a coward. At least I have the balls to face someone the next morning and deal with my feelings."

"Hoseok," Namjoon says desperately. "It's not--"

"Isn't it?" Hoseok says? "Isn't it though?" Hoseok gestures between the two of them. "This is so fucked up. You and your fucking letters. I like you so much. I really fucking liked you, but I was respecting your boundaries. I never wanted to get my own damn letter telling me that I was perfect and smart and beautiful but that, in the end, I just wasn't good enough.

"Because no matter how you sugarcoat it, that's the truth," Hoseok says unsteadily. His hands are clenched into fists now, and Namjoon's face is blank enough to be a mask. "That's what you're always saying in your letters. That whoever it is? Isn't good enough for you.

"So if I'm not good enough to even be your friend?" Hoseok says, feeling his voice start to shake. "Then Fuck. You." Hoseok grabs for his bag with shaking hands, slipping it over his shoulder. He feels like he's going to pass out, or throw up, or both. He needs to go somewhere. He's making a scene. He didn't want to make a scene, but he made one anyway, unable to keep his voice from rising even when he tries his best to contain his anger.

"Hoseok," Namjoon says, softly. "That's not what I--"

"Don't," Hoseok says flatly. "Just--just don't. I'm leaving."

"Okay," Namjoon says, just as soft. He won't, or can't, meet Hoseok's eyes. "Okay."

 

I'm So Sorry But It's--

 

Hoseok doesn't tell anyone what happened at the restaurant but somehow, they know. Seokjin and Yoongi take one look at him when he walks in the door that evening and immediately shuffle apart on the couch, making a space for him in their blanket nest.

"Oh no," Seokjin says, and his voice is too full of pity and kindness, and Hoseok just can't handle this right now. Of course they must know what happened. They knew he was out with Namjoon. They probably expected them to come home together. "Oh no, what--"

"I'm taking a shower," Hoseok says, short and terse. "Knock if you need me."

"Right," Yoongi says, and even he sounds concerned, and fuck, this is the worst day of Hoseok's life. Min Yoongi is audibly concerned about him. He wants to crawl into a hole and die.

Hoseok takes a long, practically scalding shower, but when it's over he doesn't feel any better. He just feels less angry and more hollow. He considers hiding in his room until the next morning, but his stomach is growling from the dinner he didn't eat with Namjoon.

Hoseok sneaks his way out to the kitchen, tip-toeing as quietly as he can in a giant sweatshirt and boxers and a pair of his oldest, comfiest socks. Yoongi hears him anyway, because he's a freak.

"Hobi," Yoongi yells, in a tone that suggests he's not fucking around. "Come in here. We ordered pizza."

"I'm--I'm not hungry," Hoseok says. His stomach growls as he says it, like the traitorous organ it is.

"Bullshit," Yoongi says.

"It's bulgogi," Seokjin says. "We bought you bulgogi pizza, get your ass in here, dickwad."

"Goddammit," Hoseok says, because he really does love bulgogi pizza.

There's a sound of a quiet scuffle, and then Seokjin's voice pops up again. "My use of 'dickwad' was meant in an extremely loving fashion!" he calls out, and, okay. Fine. Hoseok can suck it up and deal. His best friends bought him pizza.

He pads into the living room and almost walks face-first into Seokjin.

"You don't have to talk about it," Seokjin says, brandishing a slice of pizza at him right in the doorway. "But you do have to eat. Come here and eat this damn pizza."

"Were you planning on ambushing me in the kitchen?" Hoseok says, small and miserable

"Maybe," Seokjin says. "Maybe I was. You can't prove anything. Now shut up and eat your pizza, and then come cuddle with us on the couch."

Hoseok goes.

 

moon child

 

The first little scrap of paper shows up on Monday evening.

"You were right," Yoongi reads aloud, as he's tossing his coat off. "Um. Do I want to know what this is about?" He waves the piece of paper in Hoseok's direction.

"No," Hoseok says. He presses his lips together. "Give it here, please, hyung." It shouldn't matter so much. It's just a scrap of printer paper, with Namjoon's messy scrawl on it. Hoseok intends to throw it in the trash, but at the last second he finds himself curling paper into his palm.

"Stupid," he says out loud, as he shoves the piece of paper into his pocket. "Stupid, stupid."

-

The next scrap of paper shows up the next night, sliding under the door on Tuesday evening as Hoseok is sitting on the couch in his underwear, moodily watching wrestling reruns with Yoongi.

"Is that--" Yoongi says, but makes no move to stop playing Stardew Valley on his phone.

"I'll get it," Hoseok says. "You, uh. Keep farming those parsnips and shit."

"Pomegranates," Yoongi says, with great dignity. "I have an orchard now. Also, fuck you."

Hoseok picks up the little scrap of paper.

Sometimes cowardice is easier than telling the truth. But I think I've always been a coward.

Hoseok wishes his whole entire chest didn't ache so much, like someone had sucked out his organs and replaced them with sand. He feels heavy with it, weighed down to his bones.

"You're not a coward, Joon," he says softly, carefully folding the paper and slipping it into the pocket of his messenger bag, neatly hung up on the hook by the door. "You're not a coward. I'm just an asshole."

-

Wednesday brings rain, more rain that Hoseok can remember seeing for the last six weeks, and another scrap of paper. Namjoon's messy scrawl is neater this time, as though he'd very carefully practiced the words several times over before writing them down.

I shouldn't have said I was celibate. I shouldn't even have brought it up. I mean, I have been, but I told you for the wrong reasons. I was scared. I was scared and you said you liked someone else and I panicked. I didn't want to stop seeing you every weekend.

"Shit," Hoseok whispers softly. He brushes his fingers carefully over the handwriting, closing his eyes. It feels darker behind his eyelids than the Seoul night outside his window. "Fucking hell, Joon. I'm such an idiot. I'm so sorry."

-

Thursday. A light, clear day, temperatures in the low 50s, a spring breeze heavy with the scent of rain. Hoseok wishes he could enjoy it more, but all he wants to do is rush home and wait for the sun to set and see what Namjoon writes next. All he wants is for his whole entire heart to stop aching in his chest every time he thinks of the scraps of paper he's stored carefully in his wallet.

I wrote so many words in your letter, he reads that night. So many stupid words, trying to figure out how to ask you if you wanted to date me. So ironic, right? I could have just said it like that. I could have just asked you the very first time.

"You have to tell him," Yoongi says, from over his shoulder. Hoseok tries to yelp, tries to act offended, but he's off his game and they both know it. He sounds more like a small dog with bronchitis, but that's because he's possibly a little choked up.

"I can't," Hoseok whispers, staring down at the paper in his hand. "I was awful to him. I was--fuck, you have no idea. I said so much horrible shit. There's no way he's ever going to forgive me."

"Okay," Yoongi says, squeezing his shoulder.

"And he was trying to ask me out," Hoseok whispers. "Fuck. I'm such a fucking idiot."

"Maybe," Yoongi says, but it's gentle, paired with another light squeeze. "But forgiveness is a process. Maybe you guys just need to pass notes for a while."

"When did you get so smart," Hoseok says, frowning.

"When I started dating a model with emotional constipation and a heart the size of a supernova," Yoongi says. "A really gay, really soft, really loving supernova."

"Supernovas usually explode and kill everything around them," Hoseok says.

"Okay, so without that part."

"Fair," Hoseok says. "You know what. That's fair."

-

Hoseok spends all of Friday thinking about Yoongi's words, about the fact that maybe he and Namjoon just need to pass notes for a while. As though this is a two-way street. As though Hoseok has been writing back to Namjoon when in reality he's just been saving the notes and crying in the shower like an idiot and then pretending he's fine when Yoongi and Seokjin and Jimin make sad faces at him.

He tries to write several notes that day at work, and he ends up ripping them all up. He's well aware of the irony, that he blasted Joon for not having the courage to talk to him face to face, when he can't even get his shit together enough to write a damn note.

He's an idiot.

It takes him until past eleven pm that night, fueled by several glasses of wine and Jimin's encouraging texts. Just write what you really feel, Jimin had said, as though it was easy, but Hoseok does. He writes it over and over in a borrowed notebook of Yoongi's until he's certain that he's gotten it right, and then he carefully copies it onto a single piece of paper. It might be the most serious letter he's ever written. He's not sure if he likes that fact, or what it even says about him.

Namjoon,

I'm an asshole. I'm sorry.

You were right all along.

I'm bad with emotions. I was scared because I liked you a lot. Because I LIKE you a lot.

Fuck, writing this down is terrifying. I don't know how you do it.

But you were right. You were right all along, and I'm so sorry. I could write it a million times, but writing it doesn't make it true. It doesn't fix anything.

Please let me try again.

Hoseok

Hoseok doesn't give himself time to overthink it. He just sneaks out into the hallway, folds the piece of paper in half, slips it under Namjoon's door, and then runs back to his room and curls around his phone and calls Jimin.

"You do it?" Jimin says, picking up on the first ring.

"Yeah," Hoseok says, trying to breathe. His heart is racing. "Yeah. I did it."

"You're doing so well," Jimin says, his voice low and soothing. "So well, okay, Hobari? And now we just have to look up the flower thing for the second part of our amazing plan."

"Right," Hoseok says. "Oh god. I feel like I'm gonna throw up. Are feelings supposed to feel like this?"

"Sometimes," Jimin says. "That might just be all the wine, though."

"Okay," Hoseok says. "Because I feel like I'm gonna throw up."

"Honestly, that's like a 50/50 wine versus feelings chance right now," Jimin says, thoughtfully. "You need me to come hold your hair while you puke? I can be there in twenty."

"No," Hoseok says, trying to breathe deep and remember the instructions from that one free yoga class he took ages ago. Deep belly breaths. Imagine himself floating in space. Imagine himself--

"Please make a noise so I know you're not dead," Jimin says.

"I'm practicing my deep breathing exercises."

"Is it helping?"

"Not really."

Jimin sighs. "I'm putting my shoes on," he says. "Tell the makeout twins that I'm sleeping on your couch tonight. I don't need to walk in on any more naked dick today."

"You...wait, today?" Hoseok says, frowning at his phone. "What happened today?"

"I was going to tell you when you weren't trying not to hurl," Jimin says dryly.

"You know what," Hoseok says. "You know what. That's fair."

 

The Road to Hell is Paved with Sustainable Orchids

or

Happy Friendship Emotional Connection Time

 

"So," Hoseok says, nervously, the next morning at 10:43 am. He's standing outside Namjoon's door, holding a tiny purple orchid in a pot with moss and ferns, with a bemused looking Namjoon staring at him. There's a smile hiding in the corner of Namjoon's mouth. "So. It turns out! That it's really hard to find a hot-house florist in Seoul on two hours' notice while hungover."

"Hobi," Namjoon says softly, and oh, the smile is growing wider, but this is important. Hoseok has really important apologizing to do, and if he doesn't do it now, he might never do it.

"No, wait, okay, I need to--just let me finish," Hoseok says. His stomach is roiling. "Okay. So you read mystery novels, right?"

"Not really," Namjoon says, tilting his head in confusion. "Not really, no?"

"But you gave me those daffodils," Hoseok says. He swallows. "Did you--did you know what they meant? They meant something about love, and the sun, and--"

"The sun always shines when I'm around you" Namjoon says, looking down at his feet. He's blushing. "Oh. That. Yeah."

"Okay, so mystery novels, Victorian white people, they made flowers mean stuff," Hoseok says. "And you--you got me that bouquet, and Jimin figured out what it meant."

"I was just being dumb," Namjoon says, not looking up from his feet. "You weren't really--you weren't really supposed to know that I--"

"But it wasn't dumb," Hoseok says desperately. The little orchid waves frantically as Hoseok clutches it to his chest. "It was so fucking sweet, okay? And I just. Before I gave this to you, I wanted you to know that I tried." He thrusts the purple orchid towards Namjoon.

"It's so cute," Namjoon says softly, taking the plant and gently stroking one long finger along a leaf. "But Hobi-ah--I got your letter, you really didn't have to--"

"But I did," Hoseok says, biting his lip. "I thought I knew shit, and I didn't know anything at all. And then I got too drunk last night writing you that letter, and I'm so sorry it's purple, it should have been yellow, Jiminie said yellow means friendship but also new beginnings."

"It does," Namjoon says, looking like he's trying not to laugh at Hoseok's unexpected hungover earnestness.

"But purple was all they had," Hoseok says. "So I looked it up and it means like, royalty, and that's stupid. But it also means love and respect." He takes a deep breath because okay. Here we go.

Breathe, Hoseok. Breathe.

"I respect you so much," Hoseok says, softer now. God, this is awful. He hates feelings. Feelings can go crawl in a hole and die. He wants to sink into the floor. "You're just. You're such a good person, you know? You care about trees, like you actually care about them, you don't just lie about it because it's trendy."

Namjoon's blush deepens.

"And you were just trying to express your emotions the best way you could," Hoseok continues, and, oh god, he's going to throw up. This is horrible. How does Namjoon do this all the time? Have feelings and like, actually talk about them? Hoseok is never going to understand. "You weren't taking the easy way out."

"Hoseok," Namjoon says, softer now, hugging the plant to his chest with a wide smile.

"And I looked up the other stuff, okay? Ferns means, like, I don't know, fidelity or something, but it also means magic. And that's--that's kind of perfect. Because everything feels a little bit magical when I'm with you."

"Yes!" Jimin whispers, from somewhere behind him. "That's it! That's my boy, fuck yeah!"

"Jimin, WHAT THE FUCK," Hoseok yelps, turning bright red and whipping around to stare at the door of his apartment, where Jimin, Yoongi, and Seokjin are all peeking through a crack. The door slams shut.

"Oh my god," Namjoon says, sounding like he's just barely holding back a laugh. "Did they--did they all help you plan this?"

"Just Jimin," Hoseok says. "I'm not sure Seokjin can read."

"WHY YOU LITTLE FUCKING--" Hoseok hears the door of his apartment open again, Seokjin's agitated voice carrying through the crack, before Yoongi slams it shut once again with a whispered threat to Seokjin's manhood.

"Um, anyway," Hoseok. "Ferns! It means magic. And moss means...shit. Uh, something about maternal love, so maybe ignore that one." Hoseok winces. "I think I wasn't supposed to tell you about that."

"Rainforests!!!" Jimin hisses.

"Jimin, for the love of fucking---"

"We're done now!! I'm done!!" Jimin yelps, closing the door again.

"Anyway," Hoseok says. "Anyway. I wanted to get you a real...plant? And I wanted it to be alive, and growing. And preferably from the rainforest, because, you know, your job. But again, uh, I didn't really think that one through."

Hoseok pauses.

Breathes.

"Okay," he says, weakly. "Okay. I think I'm done. You can yell now."

"I'm not going to yell," Namjoon says, stepping forward, gently placing the little orchid on the ground. "But...Hoseok-ah. The letter was enough. Just you apologizing and saying you wanted to try harder was enough." He looks down at the little orchid. "But thank you for the gift. She's beautiful. I love her."

"Oh," Hoseok says, weakly. "It was?"

"We're all just trying our best," Namjoon says, leaning forward, linking their hands together. "Learning together. That's all we can do. Yes, it sucked when you yelled at me. But you made me realize that maybe I hadn't been doing my best, either."

"Why are you so nice," Hoseok says helplessly, his arms sliding around Namjoon's waist entirely of their own accord. "Why are you just...you're so nice. Do you ever get mad? Ever?"

"Oh, I'm super petty," Namjoon says. "Remember that neighbor? I got her fined last week."

There's a gasp to their left.

"Oh, thank fucking god," Hoseok's neighbors say, the cute maybe-couple who live next door to them. They're standing in the corridor, hands laden down with morning weekend shopping, holding hands. "She's so fucking loud, what the fuck?" And okay, they're looking extremely couple-y this morning, so maybe Yoongi was right.

The taller blonde one slaps the shorter one with brown hair. "We were being stealthy!" she hisses. "Hani, they're have a fucking moment!"

"Sorry!" Hani says, wincing. "Sorry, sorry! Just, um. Carry on! Be gay! Do crime!"

"I'm so sorry for my girlfriend," the taller blonde one deadpans, ushering Hani into the doorway of their apartment. "Thank you for complaining about that neighbor lady, okay, have fun, nice flower, goodbye." The door slams shut behind them, and Hoseok and Namjoon are suddenly left alone in the corridor again.

Namjoon stares at Hoseok for a long moment before they both give in and crack up, giggling into each other's shoulders. Hoseok sighs, the roiling in his stomach finally ebbing a bit, nuzzling his nose into Namjoon's neck mostly because he can.

"You always smell so good," Hoseok murmurs helplessly.

"You, um, you do too," Namjoon says, leaning in slowly, carefully, before pressing a tentative kiss on Hoseok's nose. It's so fucking cute that it makes Hoseok laugh all over again, and then he's leaning up, stretching up onto his toes so he can kiss Namjoon's blindingly bright smile. Namjoon allows it for a moment, soft lips sliding against Hoseok's mouth, and then he leans back, making a face.

"Sorry," he says, and it's only now that Hoseok realizes that Namjoon is definitely still in his pajamas. "Um. I haven't brushed my teeth yet."

"Go brush your teeth so we can make out," Hoseok breathes, already addicted to this feeling, to the pulse of Namjoon's heartbeat beneath his palms and the sleepy, sun-warmed smell of his skin. "I mean. Go brush your teeth so we can, uh. Emotionally connect, please."

"Oh, I am going to emotionally connect the fuck out of you," Namjoon says, raising an eyebrow.

"God, I'm going to climb you like a fucking tree in one of your endangered rainforests, do you even known how long I've been waiting to--"

"OKAY, SO OTHER PEOPLE LIVE HERE," Yoongi says, poking his head out into the corridor. "Other people who don't need to hear your weird dirty talk, sorry, Namjoon, but I've been listening to this asshole talk about your dick for at least six months--" He ducks his head back inside as Hoseok groans and balls up the receipt from the orchid and chucks it at Yoongi's face.

Namjoon just laughs, rubbing his big, warm hands up and down Hoseok's sides, and god, Hoseok wants to live here forever.

"So. Ready for some Emotional Connection Time?" Namjoon says, arching an eyebrow at Hoseok as he looks down at him, pressing a kiss to his forehead.

"So ready," Hoseok breathes, smiling as Namjoon reaches behind him, fiddling with the doorknob and pushing it open. "So, so ready."