"Hoseok hyung... I don't think this is a good idea..."
Hoseok turned to Jimin, who was toying with the necklace their mother had given him before she died. He turned back to the party around them and gulped.
Yeah, this definitely wasn't a good idea.
It wasn't their fault. Of course not. They were forced to get out of the house by Hoseok's "friends," who only spent time with him because they wanted to be closer to Namjoon. While Namjoon had the brain, popularity, looks, and status already in his first year of college, Hoseok was just the middle man that was lucky enough to acquaint with Namjoon when they were younger.
Hoseok's mind wandered to the memory of when he first met Namjoon. He smiled fondly, thinking of the time when he stood up for Namjoon, who was bullied for being too smart, too lanky, too witty, and not popular. He remembered how he was the only one who approached the younger boy and ask to eat lunch with him. Namjoon, who was so confused and flustered at the time, shyly agreed to the boy who was known to be too happy and too loud. They were an awkward pair together, which made them the perfect duo up until high school and insecurity came knocking at their door.
While Namjoon was soon recognized by many individuals for his hypnotic looks, deeply configured thoughts, and reputation for working closely with one of the biggest company in all of South Korea, Hoseok continued to be perceived as annoying, loud, and obnoxious to the ones around him. It didn't help that he was poor, for his deadbeat father had wasted their money on alcohol and gambling. What's worse was that his mother had shown up at his doorstep when his father died, only to tell him that she had stage four cancer (he didn't even know what cancer she had) and that he had a younger brother named Park Jimin.
His mother divorced his father, left him with his alcoholic and gambling-addict father -- who had full custody of Hoseok, remarried another man, and had another child. All of this happened starting at the age of three. Hoseok was not made aware of any of these events until afterwards.
Of course, he wasn't supposed to complain. Last time he did, he laid on the kitchen floor unconscious in a pool of his own blood, all because his father decided that throwing an empty bottle of soju was a good way to silence his son's accusations of "not having enough time for his only son."
Hoseok may or may not have blamed himself for that incident.
That's why, when his mother had shown up at his door with Jimin, he smiled at her and said, "It's okay."
That's why he told his mother, "I'll take care of him. Don't worry."
And that's why he was stuck taking care of his younger brother, who he didn't know existed until he was in his last year of high school.
It wasn't that he minded taking care of Jimin. He just wanted to be aware that he had an actual fucking sibling before his poor excuse of a mother passed away.
And apparently, Park Jimin always knew he had an older sibling named Jung Hoseok -- curtesy of their mother.
Hoseok didn't realize that his fond smile had turned into a frown until he was brought back by a shy tug at his shirt. He looked towards the reason for the tug, who unsurprisingly had been Jimin.
Scared Jimin, actually.
Which caused Hoseok to frown even more, but this time in worry.
"Hey," Hoseok called out to Jimin, "What's wrong?"
"Hyung..." Jimin sputtered, "These guys have been staring at up weirdly." Jimin then proceeded to point at the group of third year college students just across from the two brothers, who had indeed been eyeing them and whispering to each other.
"Jimin, it'll be alright. They're harmless. I know them."
"A-Are you sure, hyung?"
Hoseok paused for a brief moment before smiling and reassuring Jimin ("Of course, Jiminie!").
Hoseok didn't want to worry Jimin. What he said was only half the truth: he only knew them.
They weren't, however, harmless. They were very harmful.
Trying not to visibly panic, Hoseok calmly turned to Jimin and smiled, "You know what? Why don't we ditch this boring party? You with me?"
Jimin had to strain his ears in order to hear Hoseok over the loud music. After processing his hyung's words, Jimin shyly smiled and nodded, eager to leave the loud and crowded space. Hoseok sighed in relief, although Jimin didn't catch it, and protectively placed an arm around Jimin before tugging him towards the front door.
But just as they were about to exit, a figure stood in front of them. Behind them, hands were suddenly placed on their shoulders. Jimin and Hoseok jumped at the unexpected contact before realizing that they had just been blocked from
escaping going outside. It took them a while to realize that the people stopping them, who had somehow managed to surround them as well, had been the third year college students that were eyeing them.
The guy blocking the entrance stepped forward, looking Hoseok over, before cockily addressing him. "Hey... Hunseok?"
"Ah, yes. Hoseok. RM's friend, huh?"
"Perfect!" The two brothers heard laughter from the ones' surrounding them before the guy continued. "Want to talk?"
"A-Actually, we have to go! Y-Yeah... W-We're l-late f-for... uhh..."
"Oh, don't bother! Here, we'll even buy you two a drink!"
In Hoseok's mind, the guy seemed a little too ecstatic. His gut was telling him to flee from the situation and bring Jimin along.
But... free drinks... The two brothers barely had food at home, much less something to drink. They came to the party in search of food, but they were disappointed with the fact that there were only drinks only suitable for adults. Jimin wasn't allowed to drink, since he was still in high school. Hoseok vowed to never drink, after he witnessed his father in all of his drunken glory.
And one look at Jimin told Hoseok that he was quenched from thirst. More than once did Jimin's stomach roar (yes, roar) back at home because they needed to save for the entire month until Hoseok got his next paycheck.
Maybe Namjoon could help...
Hoseok cried on Namjoon's shoulder, sobbing out uncontrollably. Namjoon looked over at the grave of his best friend's parents, who were lying next to each other ironically. In his head, Namjoon could only curse at the two dead bodies and scoff, "They separated when they were alive, only to be brought back together when they died."
Of course, Namjoon didn't say this out loud. He didn't want Hoseok to cry even more. Hoseok didn't need to suffer so much just from hearing that selfish statement. All Namjoon could do was comfort his ride-or-die partner in his grief, even if it was at the foot of the two graves both teenagers hated dearly.
"Namjoonie..." Namjoon perked up at the muffled voice of Hoseok. "Please... don't leave me like they did. Y-You're the o-only one I have l-left..." More sobs erupted from Hoseok, which only caused Namjoon to embrace the crying teen tighter and will his own tears to go away.
Namjoon couldn't believe that he was going to do this to his only true best friend...
Suddenly, Hoseok pulled away and sniffled. He stood up straight and blinked away the continuously falling tears from his eyes. The grief-stricken boy cleared his throat before saying in a raspy voice, "I... N-Namjoon, I-I have somet-thing to t-tell you... I- No, m-my mom remarr-arried and I-I j-just found out th-that I have a y-young-ger bro-"
"Hoseok, I'm leaving!" Namjoon interrupted.
Hoseok stopped mid-sentence and looked over at his friend in shock and betrayal. The tears that he had successfully stopped had come back.
"The company said that I needed to transfer over." Namjoon sighed, watching Hoseok's reaction carefully before continuing, "I'm sorry, 'Seok."
Hoseok looked away from Namjoon. "I see."
"Hoseok, it's not like that!"
"Really, Namjoon? Is it really not like that?"
"Yes, I promise! What makes you think tha-"
"Don't worry, Namjoon. I won't judge you. Everyone else hates me and wants to stay away from me. It's about time that you move on, too."
"'Seok, no! I swear to God-"
"You're an atheist, Namjoon. You can't just swear to God like that."
"I- Okay, you got me there, but I-"
"Just go, Namjoon."
Silence filled the cemetery. Namjoon stared at Hoseok's back, while Hoseok hid his tears away from Namjoon.
"'Seok, I can't really emphasize how much you mean to me. I'll still be there for you. Just come to me if you struggle financially or... or anything, really! I'll help! I'll support you! I won't judge! I never have and never will! Hoseok, I-"
"Namjoon. Just. Go."
Hoseok's voice had cracked, which he cursed himself for. Namjoon stopped his rambling and sighed. Hoseok waited for Namjoon's footsteps to retreat and go farther away from him before he broke down. He was left sobbing at the foot of his parents' tombs, only to return home to his younger brother sleeping on the tiled floor, waiting for his hyung to get back from the cemetery.
No, Namjoon left him. He would never help.
If Jimin could get something to drink now, Hoseok's mind had figured, he won't suffer from hunger.
"Alright," Hoseok sighed, "Just one drink."
The guy who had blocked them from exiting had started to smile at his response, but something in that smile told Hoseok's gut to leave at that instant.
If only he heeded...