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The Universe Needs More You

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Namjoon hangs a sign over their usual table that reads Philosophy Friday and Hoseok draws a penis on it.

He cackles when Namjoon shakes his head, then smiles his big Hoseok smile and says, "Just wanted to make my own philosophy clear."

"Your dick philosophy," says Namjoon dryly.

"The only philosophy that matters," says Hoseok.

He turns around to get a high five from Jimin, who's already giggling as he divests himself of his military-style peacoat, a thrift store find he won't stop bragging about. "Can I get a hey-o?"

"No, but you can get me a drink," says Yoongi, bringing up the rear. "A double, skip the ice."

Hoseok gives him finger guns and complies, weaving his way through the room with graceful ease. Namjoon doesn't watch him, but he can track his progress by the way people move out of his way, followed by a delighted "Jungkookie!" rising above the background noise when he gets to the bar. But the tracking's more reflex than anything and secondary to his examination of Yoongi, who looks absolutely terrible.

Admittedly that's a specialist's opinion, someone with a deep understanding of all things Min. Someone who knows that when Yoongi wears hoops instead of dangling earrings he's feeling overburdened, that when he refuses to allow even a hint of color into his wardrobe he wants to be invisible, and that when he leaves his coat on it means he's going to have one drink and go home to sulk alone. But Namjoon also knows that Yoongi always ends up enjoying himself if he sticks around so he says, "Rich guy still annoying you?"

"I don't want to talk about it," says Yoongi, his usual prelude to a monologue, and Jimin sighs and gets out his phone. "But he sucks. He sucks so bad, and if rich people didn't get their own police squads I would kill him and leave him in his stupid garden so that the worms could put him in the Circle of Life. Which is all I can think about because you know what his test is for the sound system this week? That fucking Lion King song. I'm installing speakers all over his rich guy house so he can blast Zulu to any room and hold up twenty five thousand dollar sculptures like they're lion cubs. Eat the rich, Namjoon. Eat the rich."

"Amen brother," says Hoseok, plunking down four drinks on the table with the ease of long practice. "Their asses taste great."

Yoongi doesn't bother to respond to that, taking his double whiskey in hand immediately. "I'm a fucking artist. I can identify an instrument in a mix in a second. I am in high demand, and this guy just wants Disney tracks piped into his shower for a sing-a-long."

"But you're getting paid well, right?" asks Jimin. "I wish I got paid well."

"Not enough," says Yoongi, glowering into his glass. "He's started with music jokes."

Hoseok stops messing with the straw in his gin and tonic and sits up straight on his stool. "I'm so ready for this."

"What do you get when you drop a piano into a mine?" asks Yoongi, in the tones of a man giving a eulogy. When they all look at each other and shrug, Yoongi takes a long drink. "A flat minor."

Hoseok and Jimin explode in giggles while Namjoon tries valiantly to keep his face straight. He's not sure he's succeeding by the way Yoongi's pouting. "Sorry. That's terrible."

"I know," says Yoongi. "The guys at the store promised this would only take two weeks and it's been a month already. He doesn't even care! Just keeps paying us more and more to do this stupid shit."

"I think you're jealous," says Jimin mildly, grinning at Namjoon when he kicks him under the table. "You want to be rich."

Yoongi inflates to twice his size through the trick of straightening his spine for once in his life. "Of course I want to be rich. Everyone wants to be rich, Park Jimin. And if I were rich I would be better at it than this guy. His house is like some kind of art warehouse, if art warehouses had more collectibles. But I'm not jealous. Just burning with the injustice of the world."

"Well of course you're burning, you're still wearing your coat," says Hoseok, hopping down and tugging at the buttons with efficient fingers. "Come on, off off off."

He says the last like an elementary school teacher coaxing a tiny child into doing something they don't want to do, but because he's Hoseok Yoongi still does it, grumbling the whole time. Hoseok winks at Namjoon when they're done, which Namjoon is almost immune to after three years, and Namjoon mouths his thanks.

The others keep arguing about the merits of piles of money, but now that Yoongi's in no danger of bolting Namjoon looks over the bar more attentively. He likes what he sees, a hit of joy that hasn't faded over the weeks. It's cozy and woody, with lots of natural light for Namjoon, clean lines for Hoseok, a good selection for Yoongi, and a young clientele for Jimin. It had taken Namjoon a long time to find a place with all of the requirements in this part of Seattle, close enough for all of them to get to and quiet and unique to boot, but they'd finally found it and now their formerly nomadic group has a regular hang out.

Namjoon likes the idea of that, too, a regular hang out, a place where he can go every week and see friends. The romantic certainty of Their Place, especially if it's a place with nice woods and good smells and framed abstract paintings all over the wall. Those are what he studies now, looking over them carefully while he sips his beer and thinks again that they'd chosen well.

The other reason they'd chosen it materializes in a cloud of smiles. "Good evening," says Taehyung, smiling even bigger when he sees their sign. He's gorgeous, and he knows it, and everyone sits up a little straighter under his gaze. "How is my hottest table doing tonight?"

"I bet you say that to all of your customers," says Jimin, batting his eyes.

"Yep, but with you guys I mean it," says Taehyung. His smile vanishes as he takes in their drinks. "Hoseok, are you trying to put me out of a job again?"

"Yoongi is always so thirsty when he gets here," says Hoseok with special innocence, and Yoongi coughs, then glares to cover his embarrassment. "Plus he wants to destroy the proletariat tonight so he needs fuel. Or the plebeians. Which ones are the rich ones?"

"Neither," says Namjoon. "Rich people don't really have a word."

"Down with the establishment," says Taehyung, pumping his fist in the air, and Namjoon laughs. Taehyung looks at him sharply and adds, "So did you find it? Your appetizer hinges on this, you know."

"I just sat down a few minutes ago," protests Namjoon, but he's just showing off now.

Taehyung grins and gets a little closer, leaning in to distraction flirt, like that will work on Namjoon when Jung Hoseok is already using up all of the available oxygen in the room. But Taehyung doesn't know that, because no one knows that, and Namjoon likes that they get to play this game every week.

"Clock's ticking," says Taehyung, tapping at his bare wrist as he quirks an eyebrow. He never wears a watch while he works, though his tan line means he has one, and Namjoon's never figured out why. "Impress me."

"That one," says Namjoon, pointing to a kaleidoscope of colored smears wandering in every direction until they wander out of the frame, like a captured piece of an alien landscape that only the imagination can complete. "It's turned 90 degrees to the right."

"Color me impressed," says Taehyung. He laughs as he moves to the wall and adjusts the painting back into its right place. "You're like Sherlock Holmes or something."

Jimin snorts. "He wore two different shoes yesterday and had to teach all of his classes like a less-fashionable clown. He didn't even notice until I told him. At lunch."

Hoseok cracks up, and Namjoon flushes even as he smiles ruefully. "I'm only Sherlock Holmes when there are flautas on the line."

"Got it," says Taehyung, writing it down on his imaginary pad. He's got an even better memory than Namjoon, and he never forgets an order. "What do the rest of you guys want?"

"Your phone number," says Jimin, like he does every visit.

"Maybe next time," says Taehyung with a happy smile, also familiar. "For now, how about something with calories?"

They get their usuals, Hoseok something full of fiber, Namjoon something vegetarian, Yoongi as much meat as he can handle, and Jimin a salad because he's going to be stealing the rest of their food all night. They catch up on their weeks as they wait, and Hoseok is in the middle of a story about his latest love of his life, Daniel, when Taehyung deposits the food and another round of drinks at their table.

"You really are the perfect man," says Hoseok, grabbing his dripping sandwich happily. "Kim Taehyung, please marry me. My mother would love for me to bring home a nice Korean boy for once."

Namjoon busies himself with his mac and cheese, then takes a long drink of beer to not look at Hoseok. He's used to this too, he reminds himself. The first time Yoongi had brought Hoseok around, a burst of sunshine across the grey sky of his life, Namjoon had hardly been able to speak in the face of him. Luckily it had been a party, a raucous gathering of just-graduated professionals drunk on steady paychecks and only moderately cheap booze, so no one had noticed his enchantment. And Hoseok kept being there somehow, falling into their unofficial Korean club with hardly a stutter, and now Namjoon is entirely used to the way he flirts with everyone but him.

"But if we got married you could never come back here," says Taehyung. "You know I don't date my customers."

Namjoon watches Yoongi and Jimin sigh in unison, fighting a grin, but that grin falls away when Hoseok says, "So I'm moving in with Daniel tomorrow. You guys up for carrying some boxes?"

They all turn to stare, including Taehyung who'd been about to move to the next table, and Hoseok's cupid's bow flexes in exaggerated surprise. "What?"

"Back up thirty steps," says Yoongi. "You're moving in with someone?"

"Not someone," says Hoseok, his voice unexpectedly snappish. "My boyfriend."

Yoongi, if anything, gets sharper. "That's worse. Didn't you once break up with a guy because he suggested that you combine suitcases on a trip to save baggage fees?"

"That was about hygiene -"

"And," continues Yoongi, relentless, "in high school when that guy on your soccer team said he loved you, didn't you switch to tennis the next day? Even though you were very out?"

Hoseok's nose flares. "I was young -"

Yoongi barely seems to hear him. "Your last boyfriend surprised you with a three-month anniversary dinner and you told him you were moving to Guam. You've been dating this Daniel guy for what? Two months?"

"Not that it matters what you think," says Hoseok, all traces of sun gone from his face, "but I love Daniel, and he's great, and he has a nice apartment so when my landlord said we didn't have a lease to go back to he offered it right away. Because he loves me too. So suck on that."

An unimpressed grimace settles on Yoongi's face. "All I'm saying is don't come crying to me a month from now when he wants to merge your sock drawers and you freak out about the life-altering implications of toe intimacy."

Hoseok's mouth drops open, the cords in his neck far too prominent, and before he knows he's going to Namjoon says, "I'll help you move."

He tries not to shrink as Taehyung's head whips to him from where it was bouncing between Hoseok and Yoongi like a spectator at a tennis match. Jimin laughs almost too quietly to hear, and Namjoon smiles lamely through the heat on his face. "You have to buy me pizza though. That's the only acceptable currency for this type of transaction."

Hoseok's mouth closes again, his breathing steadying back into a regular rhythm, and his lips turn up very slightly. Namjoon's breath catches when the smile solidifies, and turns tender, and makes Namjoon feel unique in the universe once more.

"Thanks, Joonie," he says, and Namjoon will do anything for him if it means he gets his name like that, in a soft voice like bells. He'll move him into a thousand apartments, or officiate his wedding, or walk into the ocean and drown if he can just get that, and the part of his brain that monitors these things knows he's a fool but the endorphins crowd it out. "Be at my place at ten? Is that too early?"

Namjoon shakes his head, and Jimin says he'll be there too in an overly cheerful voice, and Yoongi doesn't say anything at all as he finishes his drink. Taehyung offers a celebratory brownie, then practically sprints away from the table to escape them.

"Jimin, come dance with me," says Hoseok, because he'd declared the open space at the back of the bar the dance floor the first night they got here and he's so good that no one's corrected him. He hops off the stool and holds out his hand imperiously, and Jimin cuts a look at Yoongi before he complies.

They wander off, though no people who move like they do can ever be considered simply wandering, and they're almost immediately followed by a half a dozen other patrons because that's what happens when Jimin and Hoseok dance. Yoongi doesn't say anything for a long moment, then shakes his head. "I guess people are going to do whatever stupid things they want, huh?"

It should be a question but it isn't, and Namjoon shrugs. "It's hard to know where to spend your energy sometimes. But not everything is stupid just because it's not what you would do."

Yoongi laughs so hard he nearly chokes, and Namjoon watches with fond amusement as he hacks breath back into his lungs. It's never clear what Yoongi's going to find hilarious, but it's always nice when it happens.

When he's finally settled back into his usual form his eyes carry the ghost of crinkles around them as he says, "I would never hold myself up as the gold standard for good decision-making. I think daily about stealing all of that rich guy's shit, selling it, and fleeing to Korea to start my new life."

"But you don't do it," says Namjoon. "Intentions aren't actions."

Yoongi waves at the sign over their table vaguely. "Yes, yes, philosophical discussions are being had, good work. Someday we'll all be intellectual like you."

Namjoon frowns into his macaroni and cheese, and he's startled when Yoongi adds, "Sorry."

Because apologizing isn't one of Yoongi's strong suits, especially for things he wouldn't feel bad about, Namjoon almost feels his forehead to see if he's sick. "It's fine," he says instead. "Philosophy is a discipline, not a lifestyle."

"Not for that," says Yoongi, rolling his eyes. "For, you know."

And Namjoon goes so cold he thinks maybe he's the one who's sick, because this is a line that they don't cross. He and Yoongi have been friends for a long time, since college, since they'd been dorm neighbors with a shared hatred for their roommates that bonded them into an unbreakable unit. Yoongi was a spiky workaholic and Namjoon was a dreamy workaholic, and somehow that had sustained them for years.

Because they don't talk about anything personal.

They talk all the time about everything else - their tastes in music, their dissatisfaction with the campus vegan options even though neither of them were vegan, the things they remembered from their trips back home and the decadence of taking naps they shouldn't be taking. All of these things were in bounds and omnipresent, and Namjoon has spoken more words to Yoongi than maybe anyone in his life except his family.

But they don't talk about their inner landscapes. And they especially, especially don't talk about the way Namjoon feels about Hoseok. Yoongi's never acknowledged it even a single time, just like Namjoon never mentions the way Yoongi feels about Taehyung, and it's this balanced charge of electrons that keeps their atom spinning correctly. If they're about to ionize, Namjoon needs another drink.

"I don't know what you mean," says Namjoon with too much force.

Yoongi looks at him, a little embarrassed. "For the crack about eating the rich. That wasn't for you."

"Oh," says Namjoon, his heart settling back into its normal rhythm. That's good. That's fine. "I didn't think it was. And even if it was, I don't care."

And Yoongi smiles and goes back to watching Hoseok dance with slightly narrowed eyes, and Namjoon's trembling with the relief of a dodged bullet. His parents have money, and no one knows it but Yoongi because it's embarrassing in ways he doesn't like to examine. But it's impossible to think something that small would bother Namjoon here, when Hoseok's body is moving like it does. When he's laughing like that, and has so many people around him watching him do it, and Namjoon can't help but watch, too, even though it hurts.

A slap of hands on the table brings him back to himself with a violent start, and he sweeps an empty glass over the side in his surprise. Those same hands dart out to catch it, snatching it out of the air with impossible grace, and Jungkook's face lights up in a pleased grin when he deposits it back on the high-top. "I hear someone needs help moving."

"Hoseok needs help with way more than that," says Yoongi. "How's it going, kid?"

"Great," says Jungkook. "When's the moving happening?"

Namjoon chuckles, and Jungkook looks at him with his eyes that are almost too big to be believed. Namjoon's still not entirely convinced he's old enough to be a bartender, but the one and only time he'd brought it up Jungkook had tried to put him in a half-Nelson and that was one time too many.

"Jungkookie!" says Jimin, materializing in a cloud of sweat to jump on his back and cling. "You came out here tonight! You never come out to see us."

Jungkook shifts easily to take the weight, bouncing Jimin up higher. "I do so."

"Do not," says Jimin.

Jungkook opens his mouth and starts to twist around, and Namjoon hurriedly says, "Jungkook came over to see if we need help moving Hoseok."

"That's nice of you," says Hoseok, suddenly there and sweaty as well. A few drops roll down his neck, tracing the line of his clavicle like a trail of kisses, and Namjoon looks away. "But I think we'll be okay. I don't have that much stuff, just a few big things I can't lift myself."

"Oh," says Jungkook, his mouth moving into the suggestion of a pout. "Fine. But I'm really strong."

He drops his hold on Jimin's legs and flexes his biceps inside his huge sleeves, staring at them all aggressively. "Very strong," he adds, finishing his circle of intimidation with a glare at Namjoon, who nods helplessly. Jungkook doesn't stop, lifting his arms higher, clearly waiting for something.

Hoseok giggles, and so does Jimin, and Namjoon looks at Yoongi to see if he knows how to get them out of this. But Yoongi only blinks, so Namjoon reaches out and pats Jungkook's bicep gently. "Yep, very strong. You could move all of us without breaking a sweat."

Jungkook's glare melts into a happy smile as he finally puts the guns away and looks around. He stares at the sign over their table, then says suspiciously, "Is that a dick?"

"Oh my god," says Hoseok, gasping. "Joonie, you can't just go around putting dick signs up wherever you want. This is a family establishment!"

"It's a bar," says Yoongi as Namjoon tries to shut Hoseok up, and the bickering begins with hardly a pause.

By the time Jungkook has to go back to work, throwing a napkin on the table with his phone number on it, "for anyone who might need it," before he goes, there are three more penises and a lot of boobs on the Philosophy sign, and Namjoon thinks that there's nothing nicer in the world than this.