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All These Sleepless Nights

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If Yoongi had to choose one thing that he really, truly hates, it would be writer’s block.

Sure, he hates racism, bigotry, injustice and all the other Big, Horrifying Names even more, but he’s only one tiny (literally tiny, which is another thing he hates but that’s neither here nor there) human who can’t exactly do much about those, so he focuses more on the things closer to him, amuses himself by making a mental list of things he would get rid of if he could. And writer’s block takes the entire fucking cake.

Screw missing the bus by a minute when he’s already running late, screw insomnia and screw realizing that he’s out of milk after he already put cereal in his bowl. Writer’s block is worse than all of those combined, it’s like having an itch that he can’t scratch, a hunger that he can’t quite satiate. There’s nothing worse than having words stuck in his head, all tangled up together, and desperately trying to get them out only to find himself unable to do so the second he sits down in front of his laptop.  

He’s pretty sure that he will soon go blind from staring at the pristinely white screen of his Word document.

Having writer’s block is, to put it simply, fucking annoying.

To make matters worse, writing is his source of income. It’s not the only and definitely not the main one, but it still means deadlines and obligations, and Yoongi is terrible with those even without an imaginary ax hanging over his neck.

Which is probably why the usual route he takes to the restaurant where he’s supposed to meet Namjoon feels more like a trip to the gallows than anything else.

He stops in front of the building, takes a deep breath, and pushes the door open. The second he steps inside, he’s immediately greeted with cheerful hellos from the staff. Calling the place a restaurant sometimes feels like a stretch because it’s one of the tiniest, hole-in-the-wall ramen shops Yoongi has ever been to, but he adores being there. The waiters are always friendly, the food is great, and at this hour there are barely any customers around.

And that’s a plus, considering how a murder might take place here very soon. Fewer people, fewer witnesses.

Yoongi orders his usual and makes small talk with the cashier, discussing the weather and nodding gravely when the cashier starts telling him about how business is bad this time of the year. He picks up his bowl and carefully makes his way over to the table he and Namjoon have christened as theirs.

Namjoon is already sitting there with a book propped open by his bowl. He quickly closes and stuffs it into his bag when he notices Yoongi looming over him.

“Yoongi, hey!”

Yoongi pats his shoulder in a greeting and sits down on the opposite side of the table. Namjoon does a little wave, the dimples that always cause people around him to swoon making an appearance as he grins at Yoongi.

Namjoon doesn’t go for the jugular at first.

Even though they talk pretty much every day, whenever they see each other they still make sure to update each other on the small things going on in their lives, slowly working their way towards the big stuff. So at first Namjoon asks him about his parents, listens to Yoongi’s story about his neighbours throwing a party on a Wednesday evening like the assholes they are, and tells him about the small bookstore he discovered just this morning. It might seem innocent, but Yoongi knows him too well to fall for that. Namjoon is slowly but surely moving onto the big stuff.

Today Yoongi really hates the big stuff.

“So how are you, work wise?” Namjoon finally asks. “Any new ideas you might want to share?”

And here it goes.

Yoongi scowls, slowly chewing on the piece of meat. Namjoon is his agent-slash-best friend (slash-nanny, as Namjoon loves to point out) so he can’t really blame him for asking, but it still makes him drum his fingers on his thigh, his legs bouncing under the table.

“Not really, no,” he mumbles, hoping that it would be enough for Namjoon to drop the subject.

It’s not.

“Fuck, man,” Namjoon sighs and Yoongi tries not to focus on the note of concern in his voice but the pang of guilt he feels when he hears it is still like a punch to the guts. “I’m not sure how long I can keep bullshitting the company, you know? It’s not that I want to pressure you or anything—“

“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry, I just... I’ve been in a real writing slump lately,” Yoongi says.

“You might try doing dishes more often,” Namjoon says between bites of his egg. “Agatha Christie once said it’s perfect for coming up with murder plots.”

“Yeah, actually I’m pretty sure I might be doing fewer dishes very soon,” Yoongi mumbles into his bowl.

Namjoon’s eyes go wide as the meaning behind what Yoongi’s said sinks in. He waves his hands frantically as if trying to make to make the echo of his own words disappear.

“Oh, shit. Yoongi, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—“

“It’s okay, don’t worry about it,” Yoongi cuts him off with a shrug. “It’s fine, really,” he adds when Namjoon keeps glancing at him with a look in his eyes that makes Yoongi think of a dog getting smacked on its nose with a newspaper. “I’m fine. It’s all fine. Anyway, thanks for the tip. Maybe I’ll drop by your place and do your dishes one day.”

Namjoon smiles at him sheepishly with a nod. He jumps at the opportunity to change the subject and he starts talking about how Yoongi could follow into Agatha Christie’s footsteps and go on a trip to find inspiration, and that leads them to share stories about the worst traveling experiences each of them had.

Yoongi still feels guilty for having Namjoon both worry and stick his neck out for him, so even when they walk out of the restaurant after finishing their meals and part ways, he keeps wondering if he should perhaps hire a ghostwriter and give up his artistic integrity to make it up to his friend. Namjoon is probably the only person worth doing that for.

It’s only when he gets on the subway and notices a familiar face that his thoughts finally turn somewhere else.

It’s not the first time Yoongi sees him. The familiar though still strange man must live somewhere near the station because Yoongi sees him quite often, rarely around the same time of the day. It’s not like he’s looking, searching for him, but the man always catches his eye. It’s not exactly difficult because a, Yoongi loves watching the other passengers as long as he doesn’t have to interact with them, and b, there’s something about the man that makes him extremely pleasant to look at. He stands out from the crowd of the people around them, always dressed in colorful, slightly extravagant clothes. He always has a book in his lap, focused solely on the words on the pages, and he’s always gasping or chuckling to himself, completely unaware of doing it. His reactions make Yoongi and the passengers nearby share looks of amusement with each other, hiding smiles behind the turned up collars of their coats and jackets.

He allows the river of passengers to pull him in and he floats closer to the man, stopping right next to him.

Thanks to the crowd around them, Yoongi can finally get a better look at the book in the man’s hands. He furrows his eyebrows when he realizes that something about the cover looks familiar, and he cranes his neck at a weird angle to make out the title. The man shifts, raising the book, and Yoongi squints, subtly trying to get even closer, when it hits him. Oh fuck, this is his book, the last book he wrote before his big writer’s block crisis, why the fuck

“Is this better?”

Yoongi flinches, looking up from the cover to see the guy watching him, his eyebrows raised. He doesn’t seem angry or irritated but Yoongi still feels his cheeks heat up with embarrassment.

“Oh, sorry, I just… Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude,” he mumbles in the direction of the guy’s feet. He braces himself for the stranger to start yelling at him but when for the next few moments nothing happens, he musters up his courage and glances up.

The man is smiling at him, a big, box-shaped grin that makes him look at least a good few years younger. He is probably younger, Yoongi realizes. He looks like he’s in his early twenties and Yoongi has half a mind to simply apologize and scoot over, move to the other end of the train, but the stranger doesn’t let him.

“Ah, it’s fine, I read over people’s shoulders all the time,” he says, winking at Yoongi confidentially like they were now bound together by a shared secret. He taps the spine of the book and asks: “Do you know this one?”

Yoongi, obviously, panics.

He never got used to people actually reading his books. Sure, his closest friends and family knew that he was an author but this, this is different. Writing, no matter about what, always felt so intimate to him and having strangers be able to read his thoughts was horrifying enough for him to publish under a pseudonym. Talking about his own book with someone he doesn’t know is simply surreal.

“No,” he says, and because it feels slightly rude to leave it at that, he adds: “Is it any good?”

“Um, it’s only the best book ever written by the best author ever?” the man says, sounding so scandalized at this display of lack of knowledge that Yoongi can’t help but chuckle. “Seriously, you’ve never heard of Agust D?”

Yoongi shrugs. “Doesn’t ring any bells.”

The man gasps, placing his hand over his heart, and for some reason, Yoongi finds the gesture so endearing that he decides to tease him a bit more.

“August Dee…” he says slowly. “that sounds like a name of someone who writes bad erotica or cheesy romance novels.”

“Dude.” the man sends him a look that is half stern and half offended. “First of all, it’s Agust D. And second, you’re not even kinda close. He writes thrillers and mysteries, and the plots and twists he comes up with are something else. His books are always top notch, like the last one?” he whistles, his eyes sparkling with excitement. “I finished it in one go, had to pull an all-nighter because it was so damn good I just couldn’t put it down. Almost fell asleep at work the next day but hey, it was so worth it.”

Yoongi huffs a laugh.

“Alright, I believe you.”

The man tilts his head, squinting at him as if he was making a judgement call on whether or not Yoongi truly meant it.

“No,” he finally decides. “I don’t think you get it. Okay, look.” he takes the bookmark out from between the pages and he hands Yoongi the book so ceremoniously that one could think it was an ancient artifact. “Take it, read it and you’ll see.”

“Oh, y-you don’t have to—“ Yoongi stutters, but the man cuts him off, standing up (why the fuck is he so tall? ) and raising his palm.

“I’m not giving it to you forever,” he explains. “I’m just letting you borrow it, yeah?”

“B-but—“

“It’s my stop, gotta go! I hope you’ll like it!”

Before Yoongi’s brain manages to come up with a way to stop him, the man waves at him and jumps out of the train with a short see you. Yoongi stumbles forward, trying to follow him, but the stream of passengers getting onto the train pushes him back and the mysterious stranger disappears into the crowd.

Yoongi climbs onto his tiptoes, trying to catch a glimpse of him, but it’s useless and soon the door closes, the train with a screech that turns into a low, steady hum as Yoongi is left to stare at his reflection in the window.

What the fuck. Yoongi glances at the book he’s still tightly gripping in his hand. So what does he do now? He wasn’t exactly expecting that meeting a fan (and God, it still feels so weird to think about that, about having fans) would end up with him getting a copy of his own book. How is he supposed to give it back, what if he never sees the guy again? Oh well. He has other things to worry about. He shrugs and stuffs the book into his bag. He can always donate it to a library, he decides, and pushes the thought to the back of his mind.

The rest of his journey back home remains uneventful. He walks into his empty apartment, makes himself a cup of coffee, his ears buzzing with the silence he’s still not quite used to, and sits in front of his laptop, ready to torture himself by staring at the screen until his coffee gets cold.

His phone starts ringing as soon as he decides, after a few excruciatingly long minutes, that maybe he should just take a nap and suffer later, when he’s more energized.

He reaches into his bag to take the phone out but when his fingers graze across the cover of the book, he freezes. He completely forgot about the subway adventure and now it came back with full force, his stomach doing a backflip as he answers the phone and presses it to his ear with his shoulder to fish the book out of the bag.

“Hi, mom,” he says, his own voice startling him thanks to the silence in the apartment.

“Sweetie, I just wanted to ask if you and Hyojin want us to bring you anything from Italy?” his mother chippers. “Our flight is in a few hours and— oh wait, did I tell you about that dinner party your cousin threw last week?” she asks, the previous question already forgotten. “She wore this beautiful dress and—“

The rest of her sentence fades away into white noise as Yoongi starts flipping through the pages of the book in front of him.

There are messy notes written on the margins and while Yoongi can’t make out some of them, the ones that he can read are… interesting, to say the least. Some of them don’t make sense to him and some seem to be referring to other books and authors. There are a few drawings too, tiny little doodles of people and animals, and they’re so adorable that Yoongi almost starts cooing.

He notices that the stranger underlined some of the sentences and he can’t help but wonder why. Did the man mark the parts that could help him figure the mystery out or was there another reason, was there something in the words that caught his attention? Yoongi can’t tell, even as the author. Some of the underlined passages are hints, foreshadowing what’s going to happen next, but some are unrelated to the mystery, seemingly random. Somehow the stranger managed to pay special attention to the parts Yoongi was exceptionally happy with.

What the hell.

He flips to the first page and there, written in that endearingly messy handwriting - Kim Taehyung. Yoongi mouths the name to himself, trying out how it would roll off his tongue. He barely notices that his mother stopped talking and he quickly makes up an excuse, telling her that he’s outside and his reception is horrible, and he hangs up after exchanging their goodbyes.

The book feels weirdly heavy in his hands.

He carefully puts it down, next to the keyboard, opens the Word document and stares at the blinking cursor.

And then, for the first time in months, he starts writing.