His knees and thighs were killing him and he was sure that he’d stayed long past the point where this was appropriate. But his girlfriend was cheating on him right in front of his own face. Namjoon felt like, between the two of them, that was probably the more inappropriate activity to be engaging in.
“What are you doing?”
Namjoon startled so hard that he fell over onto the damp grass.
“Please don’t misunderstand.” He gathered himself off the floor but he didn’t stand up. He just returned to his previous crouching position, knees and thighs aching at the renewed, familiar strain.
Looking up, mortification already spread to every part of his being, he tried to further explain himself. He didn’t have to look up very high to see the person’s face. The night lights coming from behind and above them cast enough shadows over the stranger’s face that Namjoon couldn’t tell what he looked like. From his tone and his body language, though, Namjoon could tell that he wasn’t aggressive or even in any hurry. Just curious.
“This is gonna sound weird, but do you mind getting down here? I don’t want my girlfriend to see you.”
The stranger hesitated for a moment. Namjoon expected him to dismiss him and go about the rest of his evening. Instead, he walked over and began crouching down behind the bushes, too. If Namjoon wasn't in acute emotional agony, he might have noted that the stranger smelled good. Like a kind of ancient tree where woodland creatures found safety and made honey or something. But most of Namjoon's attention was elsewhere.
“Thanks, man, I really appreciate it,” Namjoon said without looking over at the stranger. “My girlfriend is the one in the blue dress over there.” He pointed at the glass windows, at the table where his girlfriend―former girlfriend, now―sat clasping another man’s hand.
The sick feeling in Namjoon’s stomach churned. He didn’t know if the person beside him could hear how much his voice had been shaking. She hadn't been clasping the man's hand a few moments ago. For the millionth time tonight, Namjoon wondered how long this affair had been going on for. As long as he suspected? Longer?
He tore his gaze away from the sight before him and looked over at the stranger to tell him that they could get up now. He’d seen enough.
Except the stranger wasn’t moving. He was staring straight ahead, transfixed on Namjoon’s girlfriend. Or at least, it looked like he was staring at Namjoon’s girlfriend.
“Do you know her?” Namjoon asked. He had a wild thought that maybe she’d been dating this person as well, and he, too, had just found out that she’d been cheating on him. He looked just as devastated as Namjoon felt. Just as betrayed.
“No,” the stranger said, and it was soft. “The guy she’s having dinner with is my boyfriend.”
Namjoon felt his head whip back around to face that damned table, seeing the whole scene in a new light. How poetic that two betrayers would find each other in the night. Did they tell each other about their elaborately woven lies? Maybe this was the one place they found honesty in the deceitful worlds they created for themselves.
If he wasn’t in so much pain, Namjoon would have found this vaguely endearing.
“How long have they been on the date?” his companion asked.
Namjoon looked over at him. He saw this stranger in a new light, too. “It’s been about thirty minutes.”
There was a beat of silence before the stranger asked, “Why did you stay so long?”
He still wasn’t looking at anything but his boyfriend, mouth open just a little. Like he was still too shocked to remember to close it. Namjoon could see his face better now that he was closer, but found himself wishing that he couldn’t. His pain was too easy to observe and too hard to look away from.
“Because I wanted to make sure. The person that I love...that I loved…” Namjoon didn’t know which one it was right now. He saw the stranger finally rip his own gaze away from the restaurant to look at him. “I didn’t want to think that someone I trusted would hurt me like this. Or that she would do it so easily or so often.”
Namjoon shrugged and folded his arms around his body. Deciding to give up on squatting, he let himself fall back onto the grass again. He didn’t want to keep talking. He could feel himself already bursting at the seams and he would rather do it in the privacy of his own space where no one could see him cry.
The stranger mimicked his pose and sat down. There was a stretch of silence where they were both just absorbed their current life situations. If Namjoon wasn’t feeling so shitty, he might have found the soft glow of the night surrounding their shadowed forms beautiful.
“Me too,” the stranger said after a while. Namjoon looked over at him, but he was staring down at the tops of his knees. He was much smaller than Namjoon was. He folded together kind of gracefully. “It took me such a long time to accept that he loved me. I didn’t think that anyone ever would.”
Namjoon’s heart kicked in his chest. How had his own thought process paralleled this stranger’s so perfectly? “But he did. I thought it was a small miracle.” The stranger laughed and it sounded pained. A little bitter. Namjoon didn’t blame him, he was feeling more bitter than anything else, really. “I thought I was so lucky to have him. I ignored every single sign.”
In a way, he didn’t seem to remember that Namjoon was sitting beside him. “Tonight has opened my eyes, though. Wrenched those fuckers right open.” His words were angry but the small shake of his head was sad. “I’m such a dumb piece of shit.”
Namjoon punched against the grass beside him, the sudden adrenaline rush masking any pain. The stranger looked over in alarm.
“No you’re not. Do you hear me―” Namjoon cut himself off. “I’m sorry, what’s your name?”
“Do you hear me, Yoongi? This isn’t your fucking fault. You didn’t do anything wrong by falling in love. Love is one of the most beautiful things you can experience about this rancid, pungent existence of ours.”
Yoongi was nodding. “Life really does stink.”
“It does! But you got to fall in love. That wasn’t wrong of you to do. ” He felt hypocritical for telling Yoongi not to blame himself for this. Namjoon felt like his own relationship had fallen apart because of him. “I got to fall in love, too. And...and that wasn’t my fault, either.”
Abruptly, Yoongi rose off the floor to point at their formerly significant others. “Yeah, it’s their fault.”
Namjoon climbed to his feet too, feeling propelled by Yoongi's words. “Yeah!”
“I’m gonna throw a brick through this restaurant window!”
“No.” Namjoon lurched forward and awkwardly grabbed Yoongi by the shoulders.
Yoongi started laughing. It sounded a little manic, but maybe Namjoon was just hearing things.
“Alright, wanna get wasted instead?” Yoongi asked.
Maybe it was the combination of the look of pain still in Yoongi’s eyes and the pain still in Namjoon’s chest. Or maybe it was the fact that their exes had definitely heard them making a ruckus and looked over―which meant that now they knew that Namjoon and Yoongi knew about their affair. Or maybe it was because Namjoon and Yoongi now had no time to process this alone before their respective domestic confrontations came to a head. Whatever the reason, Namjoon didn’t hesitate for a moment before saying yes.
The front door banged open. Startled, Hoseok looked up from his youtube video expecting a burglar. Instead, grunting from underneath the arm of some half-unconscious stranger, was his very late, very pink roommate.
“Help me with this beanstalk,” Yoongi said through gritted teeth, almost dropping the guy.
Hoseok got off the couch and walked over to get under the drunk dude’s other arm. They worked together to get the beanstalk to the couch and lay him on his side. Once all his various loose limbs and appendages had been arranged properly, Hoseok straightened to glare at Yoongi.
“And what the fuck is this?”
Yoongi dragged his feet to the kitchen and got himself a bottle of water before answering. “We got drunk together at a bar. Couldn’t find a driver’s license in his wallet. I remember him giving his ID to the bartender, but I couldn’t find that either. I guess he must have dropped it.”
“Why did you get drunk with him?”
Yoongi placed the plastic bottle on the counter top, the crunch of the plastic loud and unceremonious. “Remember Hyunjoong? My boyfriend? Promised to love me forever and ever and ever?”
Hoseok didn’t like the sound of this. “Oh no.”
“Ohhh, yes.” Yoongi was definitely drunk, words more slurred than usual, tripping even as he stood perfectly still. He got sillier when he was drunk, too, swishing the water bottle around like it was a sword. At least he'd remembered to put the cap back on. “Totally cheating on me. I was walking by the restaurant where he first took me, you know, to dip in the shit? Remember that he loved me and to stop tripping and being all,” he looped a circle around his head with a finger, “pa-ra-noid.”
He shuffled over to their sectional and plopped himself down on the couch that didn’t have six feet of dude laying on it.
Yoongi pointed at said dude. “That’s when I met him. He was crunched behind some bushes like a gnome. He asked me to spy on his girlfriend with him, which I was curious enough to do, until I saw Hyunjoong. Namjoon didn’t know about him, he was telling me about his girlfriend. Who was what? Hyunjoong’s date.”
Hoseok had to take a seat. “Fuck.”
Yoongi nodded. “Yep. Isn’t that cool? Not the part where both our lives were ruined, obviously. Just that. I don’t know. That we met. That was cool.” Yoongi sighed, sounding sleepy. “So we both got smashed. It was great. I cried like three times. I think he cried, too. I couldn’t really tell. We shit talked our exes." Yoongi started slowly drooping to the side. "I called Hyungjoon and told him, firstly, that we were done, secondly, that he was a bitch, and thirdly, that I hoped he enjoyed his stupid fucking samgyupsal. He already knew that I knew about the samgyupsal. But it was still great.”
Yoongi’s head was on Hoseok’s shoulder at this point. Hoseok lay his head on top of Yoongi’s. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m just...gonna...”
He went to sleep. Hoseok did his best to rearrange Yoongi so that he was laying on the couch, too, adjacent to Namjoon. He took a moment to regard the contrast between them. Namjoon was on the bigger sofa, and Yoongi was on the couch, but neither of them were fully situated; arms hanging off and feet dangling.
After he got ibuprofen and two glasses of water to put on the coffee table, Hoseok took a seat on the floor in front of Yoongi. He wanted to keep watch over them to make sure that they didn’t throw up and end up choking on it in their sleep or anything.
Hoseok had always gotten bad vibes from Hyunjoong. Hoseok got bad vibes from everyone Yoongi dated, though, so this time, he hadn't said anything about it. Yoongi had never told him that he suspected him of cheating. Hoseok was angry, but mostly he was sad. He knew it couldn't compare to what Yoongi was feeling.
He stroked Yoongi's sleeping head, taking the liberty to unfollow, block, and delete things related to Hyunjoong from Yoongi's phone. Hoseok knew Yoongi. Yoongi was strong, and he'd get through this. He looked over at the beanstalk. Hoseok didn't know this person at all, but he was sure he'd get through this if he had Yoongi by his side.
Hoseok had work in the morning, so he went to bed two hours later. Yoongi and his new friend slept through the night without incident.
Namjoon blinked his eyes open to the distant sound of someone vomiting. Instantly, he closed his eyes again, willing the spinning to go away. There was a seventy percent chance that he was going to be joining that person if he started moving right now, but thirty percent of his chances said that if he laid here, if he just laid here, he might make it out of this alive. He focused as much as he could on keeping really really still.
The sound of a particularly hard wretch alarmed Namjoon enough that he jerked toward the sound. And all his plans immediately fell apart as he felt his stomach clench around last night’s mistakes. He ran unseeing toward the sound of the vomiting, managing to regain enough of his senses at the last minute to projectile vomit directly into a toilet bowl.
The person who’d been previously hunched over the porcelain receptacle moved out of the way in time to avoid getting Namjoon’s guts in their hair. Namjoon fell to his knees and held on for dear life as his stomach flipped upside down, launching its contents out of his mouth at full force.
It felt like he’d been throwing up for hours. The whole thing became an amalgamation of gut-wrenching sensation, his body trying to expel the poison he spent the better part of last night pumping into his body. He was puking out of his eyes, his nose, his mouth, his mouth’s mouth. His head throbbed with each clench of his stomach, headache thumping against his temples every time he emptied out into the toilet. Every time he tried to sit back and gather himself, some demon would grab him by the guts and squeeze, yanking him back over the toilet bowl.
Through his burning eyes, he vaguely registered the person he’d rudely interrupted slowly drag themselves into the bathtub, groaning and aching loudly the whole way there. If Namjoon wasn’t so busy throwing everything he’d ever eaten back up, he might have asked this person if they were okay. But the smell of their combined vomit, the screaming headache behind his eyes, and his body’s determined treason was keeping him a little preoccupied.
At some point during his exorcism, he felt something lick at his hand. He glanced out of the corner of his eye to find an apparently concerned black cat trying to clean him up. Namjoon smiled down at his vomit.
"I like your cat," he said.
There was the sound of a shower curtain being pushed back. "That's not a fucking cat," came the agonized reply, the shower curtain releasing.
Namjoon flinched away from the beast beside him so hard that he knocked his head against the sink above him. Instantly, in his mind's eye, he was being licked by a giant rodent or snake or some unnatural combination of the two. The demon inside him was now outside and preparing to attack. The sound of pained laughter made him open his eyes. All he saw was a black cat jumping into the bathtub.
"No, I mean." The laughing stopped long enough for a hand to reach down and pick up a slipper. The hand threw it. The cat flew out of the bathtub like it was being chased. Namjoon flinched again. A moment later, through vision that was kind of blurry and swimming, Namjoon saw the cat return with the slipper in its mouth. It placed it down, sat back, and waited. "See?"
When the cat realized that the bathtub person wasn't going to throw the slipper again, it came back over to Namjoon. Just in time for him to bend over the toilet bowl and vomit. The cat licked him again while Namjoon used his other hand to flush. He was going to thank the cat, but he couldn't stop hurling long enough to speak. So he settled for vaguely petting the cat with his shaking free hand.
Some unspecified time later, his body realized that it physically couldn’t keep vomiting. Spitting bile into the toilet and reaching weakly for the flush, Namjoon slumped back against the sink pedestal―jumping when the cold ceramic met his back. All his muscles were aching and he was exhausted, but at least he could talk now. The cat climbed onto his lap like it owned the place.
“Hey,” he said, voice in ruins. “Yoongi right?” His mind tried to supply him with memories of last night, but the headache insisted on screaming louder than the flashes of imagery. He opened aching eyes to get a visual of the person he vaguely remembered.
“Yeah,” Yoongi replied, sounding worse than Namjoon felt. “Can you, like whisper or something? I’m literally on my death bed.”
“You’re in a bathtub.” And Namjoon was on the bathroom floor. One he didn’t have plans to move off of anytime soon.
Yoongi gave a weak wave in response, one Namjoon was going to interpret as whatever. “Did you call in sick to work?
“Nope. I started throwing up the moment I opened my eyes.” That looked like it was over now, though.
A weak laugh. “Nice. My nausea ripped me out of bed at 7am, can you believe? At least it’s Friday. I’d call whoever for you, but as you can see.” Yoongi gestured to his body and the bathtub at large.
“Yeah, same. It might be a while before I’m functional again. Hope you don’t mind.”
“Nah, take your time. You can shower here, too, if you got any vomit on you. Or if you didn’t. Vomit doesn’t have to be the deciding factor. I think I have food, but I’m not making it. I’d rather die than eat anything right now.”
“That’ll be a hard pass for me, too. And thank you.”
Yoongi gave another noncommittal wave. There was a beat of silence before either of them spoke again. Namjoon felt the real weight of last night’s events settle over him. The main reason the two of them were in this bathroom right now. The reality that when he left Yoongi’s apartment, he would be returning to a life he didn’t understand. Without the person who had only pretended to love him.
Why did that thought leave him feeling so lonely?
“This fucking sucks.” It was what Namjoon was thinking, but the words didn’t come from his mouth. He stayed quiet and pretended like he didn’t hear the tears in Yoongi’s voice. “Who cheats? Why didn’t he just fucking break up with me? Why keep...why? Just to make me look like an idiot? I feel so fucking…” Yoongi cut himself off with a frustrated huff. “I hate this.”
“You’re not an idiot. Not for believing someone who said that they loved you actually,” Namjoon swallowed. “Actually loved you.”
There was another stretch of quiet. Namjoon started to feel self-conscious about what he’d said, about trying to tell Yoongi how to feel about this.
“You said that last night, too." Yoongi took a breath. "So are you applying that same logic to yourself?”
Namjoon stopped twisting his fingers, taken aback by the question. Now he was the one stretching the silence and as he thought about how to answer that. He went for honesty. “Not really. I keep trying to think about what I could have done to...to have been enough. About what I did to make her cheat. All the things I didn’t do right. How I probably deserve this.”
He adjusted himself against the pedestal and brought his knees up to wrap his arms around them, the cat jumping off him to paddle out of the bathroom. He felt hypocritical again, for trying to convince Yoongi not to blame himself. Especially when that was the only thing he could seem to do. Want to do. He felt exposed, on top of all that, but...he didn’t feel alone in that vulnerability. They were going through the same pain after all.
He heard a shuffling from the bathtub, Yoongi groaning as he moved positions, his joints cracking loudly. “You don’t deserve this. Your girlfriend is a dick.”
Namjoon looked up from the tops of his knees to where Yoongi was now facing him. “What the fuck is that?” he blurted without thinking.
Yoongi smiled from underneath the cloth wrapped around his eyes. “It’s my tshirt. I get ridiculous light and sound sensitivity when I’m hungover. And please,” he tapped his ears, “don’t yell at me. That’s just mean.”
“Sorry,” Namjoon said more quietly. “I was just startled. You look like a patient coming out of eye surgery.”
“I mean, considering the way I feel, I might as well have had my eyes spooned out. So you’re not off.” Yoongi folded his arms over the top of the bathtub and laid his head down on them. He reminded Namjoon of a mermaid for a second, the one that the protagonist finds and keeps in their bathtub to keep from drying out. “How long were you and your girlfriend together?”
“Two years. My longest relationship yet. I thought she was going to be the one.” Namjoon laughed at his own naivete. “Literally just because she’d stuck around for as long as she had. I’m so pathetic.”
“Okay.” Yoongi held a hand up. “No shitting on yourself about this. Can we make that a rule? No matter what the voice in your head―the voices in our heads―say, this wasn’t on us. We didn’t cheat. No shitting on ourselves.”
“That’s going to be a little difficult for me to get used to, but,” he nodded. “Deal.”
Yoongi nodded as well, holding his pinky finger out. Namjoon groaned as he shifted himself to his knees, taking a few tortured crawls forward. Yoongi stretched his finger further out as soon as he heard Namjoon struggling. Namjoon almost made it, he did, but everything hurt, and it hurt so loudly, that he stopped.
“No, I can’t, I’m―”
“Yeah,” Yoongi replied, settling himself back into the bathtub with a groan of his own. “Air pinky,” he said instead.
Namjoon crawled back to his nook, dizzy and disoriented. He held his pinky out in Yoongi’s general direction, burying his face against his knees. “Air pinky,” he said, before locking his finger in the air. “Ughhh, I’m gonna throw up again.” He was fighting his gag reflex, doing everything he could to stop from activating the retch.
“Feel free,” he heard Yoongi say just before Namjoon lost the battle. He lurched over the toilet to hurl nothingness from his empty stomach, the seize painful.
“Ugh. I hate vomiting.” He settled back and brought his knees up again. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “So what about you? How long were you and bae together?”
“Ex bae. Three years.”
“Oh shit. Sounds serious.”
Yoongi nodded. “I thought so, too.” He shook his head. “What a cunt. I’m going to slash his tires. Will you come with me if I go to slash his tires? It can be an adventure.”
“Are you serious?”
“About slashing his tires? Absofuckinglutely. You don’t have to come if you don’t want to, but it might be cathartic considering he’s the guy your girlfriend cheated on you with.”
Namjoon thought about it. “And it’s not like I can get revenge on my own girlfriend.”
Yoongi’s head tilted in question. “Because she’s a girl?”
Namjoon nodded even though Yoongi couldn’t see it. “I’m not into the whole...men’s violence against women thing. I’d rather just break up with her and be done.”
Yoongi leaned his head back down on his arms. “All the more reason for you to fuck my boyfriend up with me. If I get caught, and god I hope he catches me, I won’t name you as an accomplice.”
Namjoon laughed to himself. He felt less dizzy as they talked. “Well in that case. Alright.” It wasn’t like he was against Yoongi getting his own catharsis. “How are you gonna break up with him?”
“I already broke up with him. You were there, but you probably don't remember." Namjoon shook his head as gently as he could. "For good measure, though, I'm going to spray paint that he’s a big fat cheater all over his car. Um. And I think that’s it? Probably text him another fuck you. I’m not quite sure how to go about this, actually. I want him to be held accountable, but I also just want to move on and be done with everything that has to do with him.”
“Yeah, me too. But I think I wanna meet her somewhere and then ask her to give me space so I can get my stuff from her place.”
“Fuck, you guys were living together?”
“No, but we might as well have been. I’ve got a bunch of clothes and personal belongings there that I don’t want to have to replace.”
“You don’t need to meet up with her for that. Do you have a key?”
Namjoon nodded. Then he remembered that Yoongi couldn’t see him. “Yeah.”
“Well, there you go. You can get your stuff asap, the tire slashing adventure can wait. If you really want to break things off face-to-face, I don’t mind sitting nearby you guys to keep her from getting in your head, weak and susceptible as you are.” Yoongi paused. “Do you want to get back with her? Because…” He shifted uncomfortably. “As stupid as this sounds, I think I’d get back with Hyunjoong if there wasn’t anybody to hold me back.”
“Yeah,” Namjoon replied. “I think I was in love with her. I’d be lying if I said there isn’t a big part of me that just wants to forgive her so that we can be together.” The admission made him feel cheap, somehow. Like he was okay with being used as long as he got to keep pretending like someone loved him.
“Let me ask you this,” Yoongi said. “Are you okay with cheating? At all? Do you think there are exceptions?”
“No, I’m not okay with cheating. I think there are exceptions under very certain circumstances.” Yoongi was nodding along. “But I don’t think those circumstances were present last night.”
“Damn, you sound like a lawyer.”
“Almost went to law school, actually. But I wasn’t okay with the idea of having to defend clients I knew were guilty―who could tell me they were guilty, or worse, unremorseful―just because a firm told me to. Plus, I hated college, it's why I dropped out.”
Yoongi laughed under his breath. "I never fucking went." The tone of his voice made Namjoon smile. "Let me ask you something else then, defendant.”
“Plaintiff. Defendant would be the accused.”
“Okay, plaintiff. Have you ever cheated on your girlfriend? Would you have ever considered cheating on your her? Did you ever come close? Why or why not?”
Namjoon was a little startled by the directness of the questions. “You should have been the lawyer.”
Yoongi shrugged. “I’m just good at talking.”
Namjoon laughed. “That’s almost half of it.” He adjusted himself so he was sitting a little more upright. Took a small breath. “No, I’ve never cheated on her. I’ve never considered cheating on her, and I’ve never come close. I don’t like to break my promises, and our relationship seemed like a pretty big promise to me. She’d chosen me, and I’d chosen her. I hadn’t conducted that agreement with anyone else. It just...didn’t seem. It wasn’t on the table. That wasn’t like, an option for me, going in.”
“Let me ask you a few more things, Namjoon.” Something about the new tone of Yoongi’s voice had Namjoon bracing himself. “Are you in pain?” Yoongi’s voice was quiet. “Would you want her to be in the kind of pain you’re in right now?”
Namjoon stared hard at the floor. “No.”
“Would you want me, a complete stranger, to be in that kind of pain?”
Yoongi nodded. “But do you want me to be?”
Namjoon let out a heavy breath. “No.”
“I don’t want you to be in this pain, either. I don’t even know you. Do you think that the people who love us―claimed that they loved us, whatever―do you think they should maybe feel the same way about us?”
“I watched a TED Talk once about cheating, and the lady said that people don’t cheat to hurt the other person. They usually have some unfulfilled need or curiosity and that’s why they do it. They still claim that they love the people that they cheat on.”
“No offense, but I don’t give a fuck about TED Talk lady. When I love someone, I do everything I can to make sure I don’t hurt them. In even the tiny, insignificant fucking ways. Hyunjoong liked dried mangoes. I mean, still likes. He’s not dead. Well, he’s dead to me.”
Yoongi held a hand up like he was physically pausing his own ramble.
“I made sure to grab some for him every single time he had a bad day at work. Every single time. Because it cheered him up, and his happiness was my happiness. I didn’t mind going out of my way on the drive back from work to get him some because I fucking cared about him. I wanted small happinesses for him as well as big ones. Cheating is selfish as fuck, it’s cruel, and I’m furious. I’m angry. He failed, and because of him, I have to feel worthless? Like I’m not even worth remembering as he fucks some other?”
Yoongi started to get to his feet in the middle of the bathtub. “He’s a cunt. He can choke, and he doesn’t deserve me. Your shitty girlfriend doesn’t deserve you either. If you want to get back with her, you can, I don’t control your CPU. But you deserve to be treated better than that.”
He started unraveling the shirt from around his eyes. Namjoon made his way to his feet, too, feeling shaky and kinda unstable. It wasn’t entirely because he was so badly hungover.
“Fuck it’s too bright. It’s too bright, I wanna die.” Yoongi hung the shirt on the towel rack beside him. His hair was standing up in funny places, dark circles prominent under his sleepy, blinking eyes. He definitely looked like he'd spent the better part of the morning vomiting, and Namjoon would bet he looked the same.
“I’m gonna take a shower.” Yoongi rubbed at his eyes. “Um, you’re welcome to my painkillers and whatever else you need. You can shower after I’m out, but I’m tired of smelling like vomit from two hours ago.”
“Yeah, lemme get out of your way.” Namjoon bent slowly and grabbed the trashcan from off the floor. “I’m taking this hostage. Just in case.”
Yoongi smiled to himself. The look was strangely endearing on Yoongi's exhausted face. Namjoon shuffled out of the bathroom and left Yoongi to his shower.
Moving was agony, Namjoon hated moving. The whole time he was taking his slow, careful steps, he wanted to face plant on the floor and be done having legs. The cat weaving in and out between his feet wasn't helping either. The dizziness was back. It wasn’t as powerful as it had been when he first woke up, but still, when he stretched himself out on Yoongi’s couch, his whole body throbbed in relief.
The cat jumped onto the cushions beside him, and then started walking across his back. It felt kind of nice, actually, until it launched itself off Namjoon's body onto what he was guessing was the edge of the couch. "Ow," Namjoon huffed in surprise. Those tiny paws left imprints behind that ached.
Yoongi’s words pushed themselves into his mind as he waited for his body to find new equilibrium. He’d never heard logic used to explain such emotional complexities to him before. Whenever Namjoon tried comforting himself, he always felt like he was lying to himself. Playing an elaborate game of smoke and mirrors where the end goal was some weak attempt at excusing all his shortcomings. It never worked, no matter how many times he repeated words like “you don’t deserve this” to himself.
But Yoongi...was right. He was absolutely right. Namjoon didn’t want Nara to be in any kind of pain. At least he hadn't before. A selfish part of him wanted her to know exactly what this felt like so she wouldn't cheat again. But even now, he didn't her to be in any pain that he was responsible for causing. And he definitely didn’t want Yoongi to be going through this. He didn’t want anyone to feel like this.
He turned over to his side, facing the wall, when he felt the tears prick at his eyes. He remembered crying last night. Yoongi was there, and Namjoon didn’t remember if he had been crying, too, but he knew he’d definitely seen Namjoon cry. That was probably why all the details in his memories were so iffy, it was all just one big crying blur. But even so, Yoongi hadn't treated him like he pitied him or thought he was weak for crying.
There was something safe about this moment, in this place. Namjoon let the tears come.
He had told Yoongi that he wasn’t an idiot. For believing that his boyfriend loved him enough not to hurt him. But Namjoon couldn’t help feeling like an idiot. For falling in love with someone who didn’t care about him. For opening up in ways he’d never thought possible...only to know that none of it mattered. He was still a monster unworthy of love or respect. After all he’d tried to do in his life to feel human. To let people in, to allow himself to feel love. He hadn’t been loved after all. And like a complete idiot, he’d taken a chance on the contrary and believed that he had been. The biggest parts of him still whispered that somehow, he deserved this.
But even if he was a hideous, unlovable monster in the end; even so. Namjoon found himself thinking that...that he didn’t deserve to be cheated like this. Nara had been free to leave him all along. If she was that unsatisfied with the relationship, she should have just left him. He wouldn’t have done this to her. She should have just left.
Yoongi opened the bathroom door, letting all the steam wash out from behind him. He was confident that Namjoon wouldn’t be able to tell that he’d been crying in the shower. Once Yoongi spotted Namjoon through squinted eyes―curled up on the couch, Playdough mirroring his pose right above him on the edge of the couch―he cleared his throat.
“You’re good to go in the shower.”
Namjoon slowly uncoiled himself from his ball, long limbs looking heavy. “I’ll set some clothes out for you if you’d like.” Namjoon took his careful time getting to his full height. He had walked over to stand in front of Yoongi by the time he started his next sentence. “I’ll see if Hoseok has anything for you to fit into. It’ll have to be baggy, but he’s also pretty skinny. It might be a lost cause.”
Namjoon scratched the back of his head distractedly. “That’s okay, I have my hoodie with me. I don’t care if whatever you have is tight underneath.” He shuffled miserably to the bathroom.
Yoongi nodded, and as soon as the bathroom door closed, he started looking for a pair of sunglasses. He’d have to invest in some thicker curtains in the future, this was ridiculous. He found a pair on top of his bookshelf, almost tearing up in relief the moment he got to block out the sun and all its obnoxiousness. The only clothes he found that would be able to fit on Namjoon’s body were an old tshirt of Yoongi's that had, technically first been Hyunjoong’s, and Hoseok’s baggiest pair of shorts. He set them out in the living room and went to get as dressed as he could manage, settling for a tank top and some shorts of his own.
He kept the towel wrapped around his head and grabbed a robe before returning to the living room. Before he could lay himself blissfully across the couch, Playdough started screaming at him.
"Can't you get your own breakfast?" Yoongi muttered, getting up and shuffling over to the kitchen. "It's time you gained some independence, you're not a kitten anymore." As soon as Yoongi was within sight of Playdough's food, the damned dog started going batshit.
Yoongi almost tripped over her because she wouldn't stop jumping or sprinting around him. "Okay, okay, you see me doing it. Can I do it?"
Yoongi mocked her. "Mrrm." Meorm. "Meorm." Mrrrrw. "Mrrrrw." Mewrrrr. She was getting annoyed. Now she knew how he felt. "Mewrrrr." He could only fill her bowl at human speed, and that was apparently just too slow for her. "Okay, seriously?" Yoongi straightened with the cat food in his hand. "Sit." His cat sat, but she wouldn't stop yelling. She started inhaling the food the moment he told her she could eat. Yoongi felt bad as he went to fetch her a fresh bowl of water.
"Didn't our Hoseok feed you, baby?" Then Yoongi realized that Hoseok was probably the reason for the waters and the painkillers on the coffee table. He must have stayed up to watch over them. Yoongi frowned, petting Playdough as she ate. "I'm sorry. Sometimes grown men have to get stupid wasted, you know?" He only got the sound of wet chewing in response. "Yeah, you feel me."
He stood up and made his way to the couch. Dropping his weight onto the welcoming cushions, he let out an ecstatic groan as his whole body sang. He totally planned on getting up after five minutes or so, making some ginger tea, ordering some miso soup. He totally did. But the next thing he heard was the sound of the bathroom door opening. Yoongi cracked open eyes he didn’t remember closing to find a cloud of steam washing over Namjoon from behind him as he stepped out.
“Shit. Looks like I passed out,” Yoongi said, slowly walking on his hands to a sitting position. He felt much better already. Sleep, the eternal remedy.
“I feel that,” Namjoon replied. “I wanted to lay down the whole time I was showering.” His hair was more wet than dry, the damp strands in his eyes dropping water onto his nose.
“I set some clothes out for you,” Yoongi said, letting his body fall sideways. Laying down was always better than sitting up anyway. Namjoon walked over to the couch and picked them up. “You can go into my room to change.” Yoongi pointed to his room.
“Thanks.” Namjoon hesitated. “You sure your roommate won’t mind me wearing his clothes?”
“The tshirt used to be Hyunjoong’s.” Yoongi watched a water droplet make its way down Namjoon’s bicep. “And Hoseok never wears those shorts anyway.”
“Cool.” Namjoon started to walk away. Yoongi snuggled further into himself to get more comfortable.
“Hey, I was gonna order us miso soup? Do you eat that or are you allergic or anything?”
Namjoon’s response was muffled. “I hate miso, actually. So yes, I'd say I'm allergic. Chicken noodle is fine, thanks.”
Yoongi nodded. “Chicken noodle it is.” He should probably get up and grab his phone to place the orders. Yoongi's body stayed right where it was. He’d just ask Namjoon when he―the sound of Namjoon’s feet across the carpet came just in time. “Hey, Namjoon, do you mind grabbing my phone off the kitchen counter over there?” Even drunk, Yoongi always put his phone in the same place to charge.
“Yeah, no problem,” Namjoon said as he came into view. He looked like he was drowning in his outfit, tshirt and shorts going further past where they were supposed to end on his body, baggy around his shoulders and knees. “Wait.” Namjoon started patting himself down. “Uh…” He walked over to his hoodie and dug into its pockets. “Shit, I lost my phone. And my wallet.”
“They’re on the table by the door.” Namjoon looked up from his hoodie in question. “You straight up walked away from them on the bar counter last night. Do you do that a lot?”
Namjoon looked sheepish. “Kinda.” He walked over to the front door. “But not on purpose, obviously.” On his way back, he stared down at his phone while he unlocked it.
“Hey watch out for the―”
Namjoon bumped into the corner of the kitchen counter. “Ow, fuck.” He clutched his side and moved out of the way, carrying on like nothing happened. Grabbing Yoongi’s phone for him, he shuffled back to the couch to give it to him. The look on his face darkened as he read whatever notifications he’d gotten overnight.
“Did she text you?” Yoongi asked, unlocking his own phone to find a text from Hyunjoong. “Aww, my snake texted me, too.”
“What does his say?” Namjoon sat down, placing his elbows on his knees.
“'Please let's talk about this.'” Yoongi laughed. “Fat chance, asshole.” Yoongi looked up from his phone. “You?”
“‘Goodnight baby.’ Kissy face.”
“Kissy face? That’s fucked up.” Yoongi closed out of his messages and dialed the number for his favorite restaurant. They had good ginger tea, too, how perfect.
“Yeah. I’m starting to doubt every single kissy face she ever sent me. But I guess she didn't see me outside the restaurant last night.” Namjoon flung his phone aside and grabbed his hoodie. After pulling it on, he assumed Yoongi’s fetal position across from him on the sectional.
“...Aren’t you gonna dry your hair?” Yoongi had tried to ignore it, but now Namjoon was wearing a hood over his head. He was stewing in his own dampness.
“It’s dry,” Namjoon replied, bewildered. “Aren’t you gonna take your towel off your head?”
“No? It’s warm in here.” He pressed the call button and held the phone to his ear. After he placed their orders, he hung up the phone. “It has been done. That miso’s gonna steam clean the grime right off my soul.”
“Miso’s nasty. And I’m paying for this.” Yoongi’s eyebrows rose. “Don’t think I don’t remember you paying off our tab last night.”
Yoongi shifted uncomfortably. He didn’t like making a big deal out of things like that. “I mean, if you insist. What else do you remember from last night? All I remember is crying about how much I loved Hyunjoong.”
“Yeah, same. But obviously not about Hyunjoong. Um…?” Namjoon looked like he was trying to remember. “Lots of drinking and moping. We were pretty embarrassing. I think you told the bartender what was going on. Thank god it was after the bar had mostly cleared out for the night.”
Yoongi remembered that. “I feel like she had a right to know. We were getting tears all over her shot glasses, chin deep in our feelings. Plus she obviously thought you were cute.”
Namjoon’s lips lost their amused curl. “Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be ready for all that for a while.”
Namjoon sputtered. “Yeah, even that. It just. Feels weird. Like I’m cheating on her. Even though, you know. She cheated on me. I don’t know. Being human is weird.”
Yoongi had to agree with him there. Even after his outburst about deserving better or whatever, he wanted to call Hyunjoong and talks things out. Hear his side of the story. Work through this, give him a chance. Yoongi felt a flash of irritation at his own stupidity. He grabbed his phone and texted Hyunjoong.
“Are you texting him?” Yoongi nodded. “What are you gonna say?”
“That he should never contact me again. Just in case I get reckless.”
“Yeah, I can relate.”
“Are you gonna break up with yours?”
“Yeah,” Namjoon replied. He’d hesitated.
“It’s okay if you’re still in love with her. That shit isn’t gonna change overnight.”
Namjoon shot him a look. “Same to you.”
Yoongi looked away as Namjoon reached for his phone. It was a strange feeling, having someone speak for the other side of his complicated feelings. Yoongi could only loudly express his anger. It felt nice that Namjoon could acknowledge the other things that Yoongi felt about this situation without Yoongi needing to say it. Because he didn’t think he could if he tried.
“She replied,” Namjoon said, sitting up in alarm. Yoongi waited for him to read the reply out loud, but all Namjoon did was stare at his phone screen like he was lost. Yoongi braced himself. Namjoon stretched his arm out to give Yoongi his phone without a word.
When he read the reply, Yoongi sat up slowly. “This is...fucked up.”
it’s okay, you’re bi right? you would have cheated on me sooner or later with a guy anyway. i think you’re really just afraid to admit that you’re gay
“This is fucked up.”
“Nah,” Namjoon said, laying down on his side, the motion looking defeated. “This happens all the time. It’s...I’m not surprised.”
“How long ago did you come out to her?”
“A year...? Yeah. I thought she understood.”
“She had a whole year to ask you questions about your sexuality? A whole year to, I don’t know. Read a fucking article? Anything? Is she a straight girl.”
“Yeah. My fuck up, I guess.”
“No,” Yoongi said. “You can’t help who you fall for.” It didn’t seem like Namjoon wanted his phone back, so Yoongi put it down on the coffee table. The battery was dying anyway. “I mean. My boyfriend is bi, too, and he actually is a cheater. The irony of her life, huh?”
Namjoon only managed to give him a weak smile.
It felt good to talk all this shit out with Yoongi. Namjoon didn’t know what he’d do if he had to deal with all this alone.
He’d felt a little taken apart by Nara’s last text. He still hadn’t responded, and he didn’t know if he ever would. After they’d eaten, and their bodies and brains weren’t spinning and aching and generally miserable, Yoongi had a fight via text with Hyunjoong. Namjoon gave helpful comments and suggestions as he waited for his own phone to charge.
Hyunjoong wasn’t ready to accept that Yoongi was done with him. Yoongi didn’t give a shit, for the most part. Every once in awhile, though, Hyunjoong would send a text. One that was specifically designed to get past Yoongi’s defenses. And when that happened, Yoongi would give his phone to Namjoon without a word, letting him text back whatever he wanted.
Namjoon had been pretty angry about all the emotional manipulation shit, so all his replies had been increasingly creative variations of the words “fuck off”. Yoongi was right. It was cathartic.
After that, they’d talked about all the possible things about each other’s exes that could’ve drawn them to each other. Yoongi talked about Hyunjoong’s smile. Namjoon talked about Nara’s eyes. It felt good. Namjoon didn’t have to wonder what it was about him that was lacking so much that Nara had looked elsewhere for it. They showed each other the pictures on their phones of them before promptly deleting them.
The game got especially exciting when Yoongi started shit-talking Hyunjoong. Basically giving an oral expose on his myriad failures as a human being. Namjoon did the same. Then they talked about feeling guilty about the shit-talking. Together, came to the conclusion that their exes didn’t need their protection anymore. And they had the right to be angry.
By the time Namjoon was slipping on his shoes, he almost felt like a entirely new person. Like he’d scrubbed off all his dead cells until he was only left with new life underneath. He was smiling wide, when a mere twenty-four hours ago, he didn’t think that he would ever be capable of such a thing again.
“Thanks for today,” he said, turning to Yoongi. He’d never slipped out of the robe, but he’d taken off the head towel hours ago. His hair was frizzy, standing up in weird places. But his smile was genuine when he returned Namjoon’s.
“No problem,” Yoongi replied. “Same to you. Text me whenever you feel the violent urge to forgive your ex.”
Namjoon laughed. “Same to you.” He felt awkward reaching for a hug. He didn’t usually hug strangers, but Yoongi didn’t feel so much like a stranger. He was his comrade. A small comrade, with tiny shoulders and a weird cat.
On the taxi ride back to his place, Namjoon felt less like the world had ended around him. He felt more like he was on the path to a finding a better one.