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Connecting Through Routine

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When it comes to being a university professor, Hoseok seems so intimidating at first because of his tattoos but once his students get to know him he’s their favourite teacher

And Jeongguk is really an underground fighter but he just tells people he’s a boxer since that's more legal than an underground fight club

But when he’s not fighting he’s helping various teachers with things like grading tests for extra cash

and that's how he meets Jung Hoseok.

Hoseok was running behind on grading papers because he had to deal with a bunch of issues regarding his daughter’s school. So, after talking to some coworkers he enlists the help of Jeongguk who it was pretty much love at first sight for. Not only was Hoseok a beautiful man but his smile was to die for. For hoseok, he never really thought about anything else outside of teaching and raising his daughter on his own. It was a common occurrence that his coworkers would have to force him out of the house when they all had a day off together so Hoseok could have some fun. And honestly, Hoseok was okay with that with doing nothing but spending time with his daughter. His daughter was the thing that shined the brightest in his life and he loved spending time with her, playing with her and making sure that she was well taken care of.

But the more he worked with Jeongguk on grading papers and got to know him, Hoseok couldn't help but fall for the long-haired fighter a little more each and every day. Because every day while they talked and got work done, Jeongguk was always telling Hoseok something about himself and in turn that lead Hoseok to telling Jeongguk about himself and eventually...about his daughter.

 

To say Jeongguk was a little heartbroken when he found out Hoseok had a daughter was an understatement. Because of course, he assumed that hoseok had himself a lovely wife.

Or a husband.

It was 2019.

So that night after finishing up with the grading he was tasked to do, Jeongguk went straight to the ring. It was the only thing Jeongguk thought he could in order to “safely” release the sadness that was slowly starting to bubble up in his chest. A sadness that if he thought about for too long would spill over into something that could be seen.

And Jeongguk wasn’t a crier.

In all the time Jeongguk had been doing work for Hoseok, the male had only been to the ring about two times. Jeongguk wholeheartedly felt like he didn’t even need to go because Hoseok paid him well and he was still using the money he won from his last major fight. Jeongguk rarely put himself into meaningless fights and at the moment, fighting did seem meaningless when he didn’t have to. Now that isn’t to say Jeongguk didn’t win the fights he did place himself in this time around but that that didn’t mean he came out unscathed. Not by a long shot.

From a cut lip and a black eye to his body being littered with bruises, the man could barely even walk from the sheer amount of pain that racked his body. And in that very moment, as he made his way outside after he was finished fighting, he knew he had fucked up. The realisation that he was in no position to show his face on the university campus hit him like a freight train. Jeongguk didn’t want Hoseok to see him as bruised as battered as he was. It was no secret that Jeongguk was a boxer, as far as everyone knew that was, but he never showed up to the university with visible marks. It didn’t matter if he won or not, Jeongguk refused.

And if he ever wanted to meet Hoseok’s daughter, he didn’t want Hoseok to think he was a bad influence. Because yes, even though he was heartbroken over the fact that Hoseok potentially had a significant other, he still wanted to be in the professor’s life.

~~~

Two weeks had passed by before Jeongguk finally decided to return to the university campus and to Hoseok’s lecture hall. No longer sporting a cut lip or black eye, he felt that he could hide what bruises remained well with a long-sleeved shirt and jacket. Over the course of those two weeks, Jeongguk would constantly receive messages from Hoseok asking him if he was okay and where did he disappear to but Jeongguk never answered. And slowly, the messages stopped coming all together as the two-week mark got closer.

He had his reasons for not answering and it wasn’t because he didn’t want to either. Reason number one was that he rarely used his phone when he was at home. Jeongguk was never home so the rare times that he did get to go home, he unplugged from everything. Phone included. Reason number two was that he wanted his heart to let go of Hoseok. At least a little bit.

Having unrequited feelings was painful and Jeongguk wanted to stall that pain for as long as he could.

~~~

Hoseok was sad, disappointed, and angry but that was all overshadowed by the amount of worry he felt with Jeongguk’s sudden disappearance. He tried to reach out to the younger as well as asked other professors if they had heard from Jeongguk but he had no luck. It wasn’t like Hoseok could just show up at Jeongguk’s place either as he didn’t know where the younger lived. And one night, after putting his daughter to bed, memories he suppressed made its way to the forefront of his mind.

It was those memories alone that told him to stop. Told him to stop asking around and sending messages. Told him to accept what was likely the bitter truth. Jeongguk didn’t want to be around him anymore now that he knows Hoseok has a daughter.

No one wanted a single parent.

When Hoseok was alone in his lecture hall, he still thought about Jeongguk and all the time they spent together. He didn’t want to though and simply wanted to blame all the emotions he felt on the fact that he was still behind in grading. Jeongguk had disappeared when they had just started making a decent dent in all the work that needed to be done. But that was a lie. When it came to all the grading that needed to be done, Hoseok was ahead of schedule. With the help of Jeongguk, they had gotten so far ahead in the grading that Hoseok was handing back graded assignment a day or two after they had been submitted.

It was because of this that Hoseok was forced to accept the fact that over time, he had developed feelings for the younger gentleman. That just made the truth of the matter that much more shattering. It wasn’t like Hoseok didn’t understand either. Being a single parent was hard. Being friends with a single parent was hard. Being in a relationship with a single parent was probably one of the hardest things ever. And he couldn’t even find it in himself to say that it wasn’t all bad because at the moment, that’s how it felt. It felt completely bad.

Hoseok was packing up for the day when Jeongguk had suddenly appeared in the lecture hall and when he saw him, so many emotions flooded his body. Happy that Jeongguk was back. Relieved that he was alive and well. Angry because Jeongguk had been gone for so long as said nothing. Lastly, there was a sadness that pulled at his heart the most. A sadness that came from knowing the probable truth about the younger male’s disappearing act.

Without even thinking, he pulled Jeongguk into his arms for a hug and while he felt him tense for a moment, he was happy the other was hugging him back just as tightly. This was okay. Right now, everything was fine. In that very moment, everything felt like it should have.

~~~

Jeongguk didn’t expect for Hoseok to pull him into a hug and it took everything in him not to wince from the pain that immediately shot through his body due to the lingering bruises. That didn’t stop him from hugging back though. It didn’t stop him from trying to convey just how much he missed the older with a simple hug.

Jeongguk didn’t have a good excuse. Jeongguk was also terrible when it came to lying but he wasn’t ready to tell Hoseok the truth. Not yet. There was too much riding on the truth. So, Jeongguk told Hoseok that he had gotten caught up with taking care of stuff with his manager. Even though in reality, he hadn’t talked to his manager in a week.

It was a lame excuse and he was ninety-nine percent sure that Hoseok didn’t believe him either but Hoseok didn’t press for more information. For that, Jeongguk was eternally grateful. When he’s ready, he’ll tell the professor the truth but until then a half-truth was okay. For now anyway.

It takes time. It takes a lot of time but eventually Jeongguk and Hoseok fall back into their routine. Everything was fine and it seemed like the incident was forgotten about. Some would probably think that Jeongguk was a teacher’s assistant with how often he was in the lecture hall helping out. It wasn’t apart of the job description Jeongguk had set for himself but when it came to Hoseok, he found himself not caring.

They fall back into their routine and everything is good. They enjoy each other’s company a lot and they’re happy. It’s only when two months pass that things change and at first Jeongguk isn’t sure if it’s for better or for worse. Hoseok brings his daughter in to meet Jeongguk for the first time.

When Hoseok walks in with her, Jeongguk is organising the handouts for the students as well as going through what needed to be graded later on in the day. Of course, being the kind of person Jeongguk is, he drops the stack of handouts in his hands as soon as his eyes land on Hoseok and his daughter.

“Oh shit- I mean fuck- shit I mean- oh my god. I am so sorry”

The little girl simply giggled as she watched Jeongguk flutter about trying to clean up the mess he made while Hoseok looked on with a fond smile, “Jeonggukie I want you to meet my daughter, Chaerin”

There was a lot a fumbling about from Jeongguk as he quickly cleaned up the mess that was made and introduced himself to Chaerin. In all honesty, it was a mess and Jeongguk made a fool of himself but it was worth it so see Hoseok’s smile and hear Chaerin’s laugh.

~~~

Chaerin was only five years old but she was a genius. At least that’s what Jeongguk thought. According to Hoseok, Chaerin was fluent in English and Korean (a special thanks to her mother and Namjoon for that) and could speak in full sentences when she was only one years old. The young sunshine child also called Jeongguk out on his feelings when Hoseok had stepped out to use the bathroom and it made him wonder just how obvious was he being if a five-year-old could figure him out.

After introductions, everything went smoothly. Jeongguk kept Chaerin entertained while Hoseok worked but of course this didn’t stop the two adults from conversing. Chaerin pretty much spent her time playing with and braiding Jeongguk’s hair but he didn’t mind. And while he wouldn’t admit it to anyone, if it wasn’t for the fact that Hoseok had a class coming in soon, Jeongguk would take a nap.

People playing in his hair was always the fastest way to knock him out.

Eventually, the trio had to tone down the talking as Hoseok’s class started to shuffle in. Without Hoseok even having to ask him, Jeongguk took Chaerin and moved to the back of the hall so they wouldn’t be a distraction the class.

And that’s how time passed.

Hoseok began to bring Chaerin to the lecture hall more often than not, most of the time taking his lunch break to coincide with the time Chaerin got out of school. And then Jeongguk and Chaerin started to become almost inseparable. When Jeongguk had to run to the library or to one of the offices to make copies, Chaerin was always with him. When Chaerin would get restless during Hoseok’s lectures, Jeongguk would take the little sunshine for walks around the campus.

Essentially, they just got along really well. Something that Hoseok loved even if he didn’t say it.

~~~

Despite how cold it was outside, the sun was shining bright and it a pretty much cloudless day. Sundays were training days. Sundays were the days where Jeongguk got his ass handed to him by his manager. This particular Sunday, he ditched training and currently stood in front of the door to Hoseok’s home, trying to gather the balls to knock on the door.

Jeongguk blamed no one but his manager for his nerves. Min Yoongi was a man of few words but when he did speak, it was never in Jeongguk’s favour. Never. It was a simple deal, if the day went well, Jeongguk could continue what he was doing. He could continue to skip matches, only fight when he wanted to, and keep a looser training schedule. If it went bad? Well, Yoongi was allowed to run through hell and back for all the training sessions he missed in favour of spending time with Hoseok.

The deal had only come up because Yoongi was still a bit pissed at Jeongguk for the fact that Jeongguk took on five different opponents without telling him and got injured on top of that. That night, none of Jeongguk’s team was around and things could have gone terribly wrong if Jeongguk had sustained worse injuries than the ones he had. So, Yoongi made Jeongguk promise to never do something like that again as well as pitched the deal.

So, once Jeongguk felt he had taken enough calming breaths, he finally knocked on the door and waited. When the door finally opened, Jeongguk was hit with Hoseok’s blinding smile, small arms wrapping around his legs, and the smell of food. For a moment, everything is perfect and for that specific moment, Jeongguk lets himself think about what it would be like to experience something like that every day.

That was until a woman who looked like Chaerin walked out of the kitchen, effectively shattering that fantasy right in front of his eyes.

"Hello! I'm Chungha! I'm Chaerin's mother." Her smile was just as bright and blinding as Hoseok's and he could definitely see why Hoseok fell for her.

"H-hi I'm Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk wasn’t mad. He had no right to be. But he was, once again, heartbroken. Jeongguk knew that there was someone else who had Hoseok’s heart yet that didn’t stop his own heart from continuing to fall for the heart-shaped smiles and random facts about the stuff he taught to his students.

"It's nice to meet you Jeongguk! Hobi here talks about you all the time and so does our little one here"

Chaerin simply grins as she motions that she to Jeongguk that she wants him to pick her up (which he obviously does, no questions asked). Once Chaerin is situated in his arms, he gives Hoseok and Chungha a weak smile. “All good things I hope.”

Jeongguk is trying. He’s desperately trying to process the fact that Hoseok and this gorgeous woman are together and have a kid. He’s trying to process that he has no chance with Hoseok at all. Jeongguk was well aware of the fact that he had feelings for Hoseok but it wasn’t until he was put in this position that realised just how deep they were. And now? It’s just painful.

Jeongguk also just wants to run. Run like he always does. He wants to toss himself into training with Yoongi and just forget about everything else. Even if it isn’t a permanent solution, he wants to forget about everything else for just a little while

“Always.” Hoseok hums, completely oblivious to the turmoil that was coursing through Jeongguk’s veins.

 

"Yes! I tell mommy and papa about you all the time Jeonggukie! especially when you let me play in your hair and pick me up from school!"

"What made you decide to pick her up from school?" Chungha asks, the smile on her face somehow getting wider

There's a small, real, smile on Jeongguk's face that's only there because of Chaerin, "Yes. Sometimes Hoseok’s lectures run longer than usual or he’s meeting with a student and can’t leave so I go pick her up." And then Jeongguk snorts when he registers the fact that Chaerin just called Hoseok papa. "Papa?"

It takes a moment but when Hoseok realises what Jeongguk is implying he quickly shakes his head, laughing a little bit, "No. Chaerin calls me daddy. Papa is her stepfather."

"Stepfather?"

Chungha herself then chuckles, "Yes. I'm married and he's on the way here now as we speak"

"But I thought-"

Hoseok couldn't hold back the smirk that made its way onto his face as he understood what Jeongguk was trying to say. "Chungha and I were never married and it wasn't until Chaerin was 2, almost 3 that we even became friends again"

Chungha was sheepish as Hoseok explained, "Yeahhhhh... I had done the cliché thing of leaving the baby basket on the doorstep and then fled. At the time, Hoseok was already established in life but I was only in my junior year of university. I didn't want to drop out to take care of a child so I left her with him. And no, I didn't go to the university that Hobi, here works at. We had only met up for a few times before I broke off things with Hoseok because things with school was getting hectic and I couldn't keep up with school and a relationship. It wasn't until later that I found out I was pregnant but I decided to keep the baby and just give her to hoseok afterwards"

Then Hoseok spoke up, "and then she showed up on my doorstep, late one night and actually stuck around after knocking this time around."

 

Jeongguk bit his lip nervously as looked between Hoseok and Chungha"And you weren't mad?"

"Oh I was furious but instead of lashing out, I made sure Chaerin was sound asleep before inviting her in, making her some tea, and had her sit down so we could talk."

"It was a very long talk and neither of us went to work the next day because we were still awake by the time the sun started rising but then after that things were okay" Chungha hummed.

"A few weeks after that initial conversation, I introduced Chaerin to Chungha and of course the two hit it off immediately. We had hangouts kind of like today and eventually I was comfortable with Chaerin spending the night with Chungha."

"Chungha, were you already married when all of this happened?"

"I wasn't married but I was dating my husband at the time. He was the one who actually convinced me to reach out. Because I wanted to see her and meet her but I knew I had to talk to Hoseok first and with the way I handled things, I didn't think I would be able to."

"I would like to note that I did meet her husband, then-boyfriend, before allowing Yuna to sleep over at Chungha's and Jimin is a pretty cool dude. He and Chaerin also got along really well which was what I was worried about."

It was then that Chungha’s husband finally arrived. "Pretty cool dude? I think I'm pretty awesome." Jimin said as he walked up the path to the house, clearly only hearing the tail end of the story. "Hello, my name is Jimin, you must be Jeongguk."

"Nice to meet you Jimin and yes that's me."

It was a little bit of a struggle but with the right movement, Jeongguk was able to move Chaerin into one arm and shake hands with Jimin using the other.

After shaking hands with Jimin, Jimin moved to greet his wife before greeting hoseok and handing the male a bouquet of flowers. "Sorry I'm so late, we had a difficult last customer at the shop. The flowers are from Tae by the way because he felt bad about keeping me even though he knew that I had to be here"
Hosoek simply shook his head as he took the flowers and ushered everyone away from the front door, claiming that they were letting out the cool air. And after that conversation, Jeongguk could feel like he could breathe again. Jimin was indeed a cool person and Chungha was a cool person as well. He actually found that he had gotten along with the couple really well and found them cute together

If Jeongguk was being honest with himself, he didn't want to tell Yoongi what happened while he spent the day with hoseok and his family. Not because he had a bad time. In fact, he had an amazing time and he wanted to keep that little piece of information to himself. Just for now. Because the time he had spent with everyone was really special to him.

And at the end of the night when he was the last to leave, after putting Chaerin to sleep and helping hoseok clean up the kitchen, he decided that he wanted to let Hoseok how he felt. He wasn't sure how the older felt but Jeongguk figured it would be better to brave the rejection now instead of later.

With enough wine in his system to give him the boost he needed, standing in the doorway of Hoseok's home, he grabbed the professor's hands and pulled him close, "We've only known each other for a few months and honestly they've been the best few months of my life. And in the time that we've known each other, I’ve fallen so hard for your smile, the way you talk, the way you dress, the way you get flustered when you get overwhelmed, and honestly just everything about you. It's only been a couple of months but I love you Hoseok"

Hoseok was quiet trying to process what Jeongguk had just told HIM. Probably a little too quiet for a little too long in retrospect because it was long enough for Jeongguk to start pulling away, an excuse already on his tongue.

Instead of letting Jeongguk pull away from him, Hoseok pulled him closed and crushed his lips onto the younger's. At the moment, Hoseok didn't know what to say. At the moment, Hoseok was at a complete loss for words

But there was one thing that he did know. He knew that he loved Jeongguk too and he would tell him as soon as he could. Not tonight. He needed to process everything first but as soon as the right time came along, he would tell him. When they finally broke apart, both of them had equally goofy smiles on their faces.

"Goodnight Jeonggukie, will I see you tomorrow?"

"Of course you will"

And with a final kiss, Jeongguk left to his car and hoseok watched him drive away.