Taehyung thinks he may be dying.
Okay, maybe not dying.
A slight panic attack maybe (a cosmic-sized mental breakdown)? He doesn’t know for sure, all he knows is that his insides feel twisted, and he wants to throw up.
Also, is there no air? Why’s there no air?
He looks up and the door seems to have grown ten times the size it was a moment ago (that can’t be normal, right?). He feels almost like Alice in Wonderland after eating from the wrong side of the caterpillar’s mushroom: he has shrunk while the world around him has stayed the exact same size. Taehyung knows that nothing had changed, that none of this is real, and all he has to do is reach out and turn the handle, but… he can’t.
He just can’t.
“I can’t do this.” The silent hallway echoes the words back as though confirming his statement.
Taehyung turns to leave and but remembers why he’s here, or rather, who made him come. He can’t go home. He’d have to face Jimin and explain why he didn’t walk through the door. A sigh escapes Taehyung’s lips and he realizes he’s trapped, stuck in the hallway between his oversized imaginary door and the exit sign. He stands for a moment trying to gather his thoughts, the play button having been pushed in the video player of his mind as his conversation with Jimin begins.
“I don’t wanna,” Taehyung whines and considers stomping his foot, but then Jimin wins for sure, and he’s determined not to let that happen (again).
“You need this, Tae. Do you want to be a doormat forever? How many more times are you gonna come home exhausted and depressed because of something that happened at work or with your so-called friends, all because you’re too timid to speak up?” Jimin hits the enter button and just like that Taehyung is registered for a (very creatively titled) How To Manage Conflict class.
“Doormats aren’t so bad; they keep dirt out of your house. Oh, and they come in cute designs, and—”
Jimin cuts him off, “And nobody takes them seriously. You are going to this class Taehyung, no more arguing.”
He should’ve stomped his foot (he would have gotten something out of losing).
The irony of being strong-armed, literally (Jimin wrestled him for the laptop) into a conflict resolution class because “you shouldn’t be forced to do things you don’t want to do Taetae” isn’t lost on him.
Taehyung stands alone, nervous (and possibly hallucinating) - forced, okay, sternly encouraged into something he really doesn’t want to do, but probably should, he turns once again to face the door and his fears. This time, the distance between the threshold and where he stands seems prohibitively far; the door is a tiny speck, the walls stretch high over his head, and he isn’t entirely sure he’s even breathing (and seriously, his imagination needs to take a vacation). He can’t do it - he doesn’t want to.
He’s not ready to face his issues.
His life’s not so bad. Lots and lots of people depend on him, need him. Like his boss who needs his nonfat, extra light, no foam cap. And his coworkers who need him to do all the crappy, menial things they don’t want to do, and - who’s he kidding? Jimin’s right. He needs this.
He looks at the door with determination in his eyes. He can do this. Taehyung puts one foot in front of the other and repeats the process till the door in view is the right size, and the path to get there is no longer impossible.
Now all he has to do is step inside… just step inside; that shouldn’t be so hard, right?
So very wrong.
It’s not that Yoongi hates his job. It’s not. He loves it actually; who wouldn’t? He gets to visit far away, exotic places like Milwaukee (don’t knock it till you’ve been) and deal with cranky, old people and screaming children, all while being locked in a big metal box at thirty thousand feet in the air. It’s a dream job. And he’s fucking good at it, most days.
Most days he can deal with the tiny spawns of Satan disguised as adorable children, who can compete with (and possibly beat) any Opera singer for depth and range. Most days he can deal with people asking for water, soda, or tea over and over and over again, like your least favorite song stuck on replay. Most days he can handle nagging, irate passengers demanding to be given a seat in first class because their legs don’t have enough room.
Well fuck, when you booked the flight it said economy, right? You fucking got what you paid for then! (Yoongi knows better than to say it out loud)
Most days he can manage it all with a sweet smile and years of perfectly honed, poignant sarcasm passed off as charming and witty banter.
But not that day.
The day that has him at this moment sitting in his car looking up at the big, appropriately-depressing, brown building. The day when the passenger in seat C4 made it her sacred duty to destroy his perfectly constructed façade and break him of his silence. The day that his coworkers now refer to as Tentacles Day.
The day started out normal enough. The flight attendants had boarded the plane sometime before the passengers for preflight setup, and to prepare the cabin for departure. Yoongi is in a relatively good mood; his self-weather forecast states: sunny with precipitation at fifteen percent (he’s a realist, no one’s bright twenty-four seven).
His current state is not just because this flight will be taking him home (he misses his bed), but also because a certain steward with thick thighs, pouty lips, and possibly the sweetest most sugary smile Yoongi had ever seen is working the flight as well. He’s been crushing on the younger man for quite a while but has yet to make a move. Yoongi firmly believes today is the day to change that. Today, his conversation will consist of more than “Hiya, good luck in first class” (or so he thinks). Today he will have a real conversation with Park Jimin, complete with sentences filled with nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and possibly past participles (if he’s feeling adventurous).
When the first ding of the call bell sounds, Yoongi willingly volunteers (no, he is not trying to impress his crush, but Jimin smiled at him; smiling is a good sign, right?).
The woman in seat C4 looks frazzled, as though she has just spent a million days on a deserted island and had forgotten what it was like to commune with others. A small child lay clinging to her chest sound asleep. And Yoongi feels a connection to the woman. He’s had more than one rough day.
“Can I help you?” He reaches over to turn off the call light.
“Yes,” her voice is sweet and Yoongi thinks maybe this will be a great flight after all.
“Can I trouble you for a glass of water?”
“No trouble at all, ma’am.” He smiles, “Is there anything else I can assist you with?”
“No, thank you.” She returns the smile.
Yup, a great day indeed! Yoongi almost skips to the kitchen area.
He returns to his seat after delivering the water and a cup with ice (he's feeling generous).
The second time the bell rings, he’s the only one available. It’s the same passenger and he likes her, so he answers the call.
“Can I help you?”
“Oh, it’s you again,” she smiles sweetly.
“Yes, at your service.” He reaches over and once again turns off the call button.
“Can I possibly bother you for some juice?” Yoongi eyes the half-full bottle of water but says nothing. Maybe she just wants something with flavor, she can’t be faulted for that.
“Absolutely. We have apple, orange, cranberry, pineapple, and grape juice.”
“Pineapple sounds delicious.”
“Coming right up.”
The third time the bell rings, Jimin aka Mr. Pouty Lips is in the prep area, and he's sitting so close Yoongi could smell the man’s mint flavored toothpaste as he chats with Hani about a band they both like.
“Oh, I’ll get it,” Jimin says as he jumps up from his seat.
“But you’re working First Class,” Yoongi blurts out (suave, Min Yoongi, suave). “I mean… Thank you so much for offering, but I don’t want you to get in trouble for not being at your station. I’ll do it.”
Jimin smiles his sweet-as-pie smile, and Yoongi’s heart does somersaults and back flips in his chest. But when his crush steps forward and puts his hand on his shoulder and says, “thanks, hyung,” well, Yoongi is pretty certain his heart just shimmied down his spine, fell out his butt, and is now sitting on the floor in front of him.
He catches Nani’s eyes as he leaves to assist the passenger, and she gives him a thumbs up in approval. He smiles.
“Hello, again.” She greets him first this time, “Can I trouble you for a cup of coffee?”
A collection of half consumed beverages is beginning to grow on her drop down tray, and Yoongi wonders if the woman has some rare sickness that makes her thirsty, like dry-mouth or diabetes. He assumes his disease theory is correct when, on the fourth call, she requests a cup of tea.
Yoongi can feel his mood slowly changing and the chance of precipitation has gone up to twenty-five percent. He pushes down the feeling and reminds himself: it's going to be a great flight. The fifth time she rings, she’s moved on to food items, and by the seventh call, she has every food and beverage item the plane carries on her tray, like a Denny's sampler meal.
Precipitation at forty-five percent.
And Yoongi is no longer smiling.
Precipitation is at fifty-five percent, and dark clouds are beginning to roll in.
The sound causes chills to run down Yoongi’s spine; he doesn’t even look at the seating chart, he knows who it is.
“What can I get you?" (This time). He asks matter-of-factly, and for the umpteenth time, he turns off the call button.
“Uhm, do you have a softer pillow?”
And Yoongi almost balks openly at the question, but he catches himself in time.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, we don’t," (This particular brand only comes in brick, this is not Bed Bath and Beyond, lady).
She smiles and nods, “Do you perhaps have a different blanket? I think she may be allergic to this.” She points to a red blotch on the child’s arm.
“Again my apologies, but we don’t," (Blankets only comes in itchy as hell).
As he walks back to the kitchen, he wonders how much trouble he’d get in if he actually said the things he thought.
“Wow, that’s like the eighth time she’s buzzed. Maybe she has a crush on you, hyung. Can’t say I blame her.” Jimin says while walking past him on the way back to first class.
The statement should have kept him going the for the rest of the flight, it should have. And honestly, Yoongi thought it was enough, he really did. It’s not every day your crush initiates flirting, and it was enough to get him to through the ninth and tenth calls (precipitation dropping back down to forty-five percent and holding). But, but… everyone has a breaking point, and the woman in C4 was hell-bent on finding his.
Mealtime ends without much fanfare; the attendants are in cleanup mode, clearing trays and getting the cabin ready for landing. Yoongi is walking through the aisles, one arm filled with cups and various items to discard, and in the other hand he’s carrying a plastic bag for the passengers’ garbage.
As he passes C4, the woman shouts at him, “Steward, please clean my tray for me.”
Oh, hell no she did not!
Precipitation at one hundred percent, with hurricane-force winds and flooding.
Yoongi snaps, he’d gone to her seat no less than ten times today. Ten fucking times! He’d given this passenger every single goddamn item the plane had to offer. She had rang the bell so many times Yoongi is sure he’s going to have nightmares about buzzers. He’d smiled and made small talk, he even cooed at her damn baby, he’d been more than accommodating, and now, now she wants him, with his hands filled to the brim with crap -- to clean her tray?
Is she blind, do I look like an octopus?
The words fly out of Yoongi’s mouth before he can stop them.
“Madam, I have testicles, not tentacles.”
That statement (true as it might have been) is the reason Yoongi is sitting in his car bemoaning his bad luck. His boss having enrolled him in a How To Manage Conflict class. In all fairness he had been given a choice, “It’s either this or a two-month suspension, you decided.” He chose the class, he can’t afford not to get paid.
Yoongi gets out of the car, grabbing the brown paper bag from the passenger seat. He’ll need liquid courage and his mom’s kimchi if he’s going to make it through the next hour and a half.
He walks into the building and heads to the elevator. As he exits on the third floor, the first thing Yoongi sees is a tall, lanky (man, boy?) male, standing in front of the classroom door having a silent conversation (it seems) with himself. The man looks like he wants to run away and throw up and seems to be frozen in place, a few inches from the meeting room door.
Yoongi walks towards the door, trying not to make eye contact. Oh no you don’t, kid, crazy is what got me here.
But despite his best efforts their eyes meet, and Yoongi realizes (none too soon) there’s no escaping when the man states while staring at him with frightened eyes, “I don’t think I’m going to make it.”
And then… then lanky boy/man throws up like a scene from The Exorcist.
And Yoongi thinks to himself.
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