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And then there were two

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Heart pounding, trembling fingers slowly straighten out the blazer that feels so foreign on his small frame. His new shoes squeak against the floor in the empty dark hallway. Pausing outside a doorway he takes a breath so deep it could fill his lungs for the rest of the day, and counts to 20 before sliding the door in front of him open.

20 pairs of eyes in curious faces dart towards him, taking in every aspect of his appearance, the crispness of his white shirt, the way his tie sits exactly 7 stripes long, as per the uniform guidance, the hem of his trousers touching the tops of his shoes and the way parts of his hair look a slightly different shade to the rest – the hair dye his mother forced on to his head two weeks ago failing to cloak the blue flashes hiding within his black hair.

“Ah, Min, welcome.” a voice calls from the front of the room, his eyes dart away from the other students to the teacher sat lounging behind a desk; a lazy wave of the hand directs Yoongi towards his new desk.

Settling into the hard wooden seat, Yoongi begins pulling his new books out of his bag, taking his opportunity whilst the class is still in a state of chaos he glances towards his new desk mate.

A boy, not too much younger than Yoongi himself, sits to his left, chewing on his pen so ferociously it looks as though it could explode any moment. To his right, another boy sits, looking as though he would rather be anywhere but sat listening to the girl next to him talking about the newest school play.

“Jung Hoseok,” a voice says, breaking him out of his own head. Turning, he sees pen boy grinning at him and twisting the aforementioned black pen around in his hands.

“Yoongi,” he replies, trying his best to sound nonchalant and disinterested. He eyes the boy up and down, the regulation tie was nowhere to be found, his frayed blazer hangs gracelessly off his chair behind him. His messy brown hair parts down the center and hangs just above his eyes.

“Do you think you can rhyme cock with sock or is that too expected?” Hoseok asks innocently, eyes alight with mischief.

“Um, no… I don’t think so?” Yoongi replies somewhat at a loss of how to correctly answer that question.

“That is exactly what I was hoping you were gonna say Min.” Hoseok says, scribbling something down on the pad of paper in front of him and resuming his previous activities of chewing on his pen.

The rest of the class passes by in more or less of a blur, Yoongi learns the boy sat to his right is named Namjoon, the girl next to him, his girlfriend, Hae-Won. He also quickly learns that Hoseok, although the class clown, is one of the most focused teenagers he has ever come across. Mr Lee, the teacher, he discovers, takes no prisoners, if you can’t keep up, you get out. By the time the period has finished Yoongi feels as though he has completed a full school day.

He walks to his next lesson – geometry – with Namjoon and Hoseok, who, on the way introduce Yoongi to Jungkook, Hoseok’s cousin, the two had apparently been raised like brothers and spent every moment possible together.

Jungkook was quite unlike anyone Yoongi had ever met before, quiet and shy but at the same time exuding such an air of confidence it was hard to pinpoint the boy’s exact feelings. His dark hair hung low over his forehead, hiding most of his eyes but that didn’t stop his smile from beaming out, Yoongi supposes it must be a family trait.

People line the walls on their walk to the next class, all staring at the new kid, all shoving each other to ask him the question burning on everyone’s lips, running around tirelessly in everyone’s brains. So, Yoongi does what Yoongi had grown best at doing, he kept his head down and his mouth shut.

What had happened was none of their business.

It was no one’s business but his.

A storm falls over the school throughout the rest of the morning, casting all classrooms in a dark haze, rain pounds against the window, a lullaby to anyone listening. It seems just as the voices in his head are getting too loud and the walls are closing in just that tiny bit too much the bell rings, dragging him out of the room and his head.

He had never considered eating lunch with anyone but himself but when he spots Jungkook lounging on the wall outside his fourth period social studies class, he can’t help but release some of the breath he had been holding in, tension slowly releasing from his hunched up shoulders.

“Coming to eat?” Jungkook asks as Yoongi approaches, hands fiddling with the sleeves of the sweater he wears under the navy blazer. He nods in response and follows Jungkook in silence to the cafeteria. He quickly spots Hoseok, Namjoon, Hae-Won and a few other people he didn’t quite recognise. As they approach he hears Hoseok dramatically reading out a poem from the notebook he had been scribbling in all first period.

“Oh sweet Mr Lee, You smell like pee, You’re such a cock, You jack off into a sock, Oh Mr Lee, Please go and die in the sea.”

At the end of the poem a wave of cheers flow through the rest of the table, Hae-Won punches the air and Namjoon quickly joins in.

Jungkook sits at the end of the table and Yoongi places himself next to him, eager to blend into the crowd and avoiding the questioning eyes once more. However, that’s not always the easiest when you’re the new kid.

He feels an arm wrap around his shoulders and turns to face a ratty faced boy with a haircut vaguely reminiscent of North Korean regulation haircuts.

“Is it true Min? What they say?” The ratty faced boy asks, far too close for Yoongi’s liking. At the blank faced stare he receives back the boy continues, “About your dad?”

“Oh fuck off Jaewon,” a new voice spits. Suddenly, the arm around Yoongi’s shoulders slithers off and Jaewon retreats back to his own table, pouting and licking his wounds.

Yoongi’s about to look up and thank his savior when a piece of paper is slammed on the table in front of him, a tanned hand splayed across the page, holding it to the table.

“Guess who got the fucking lead!” The voice bellows out and the whole table turns to face the new presence at the table.

The hand leaves the paper and Yoongi sees it’s a cast list, the top name on there, ‘Kim Taehyung’.

Cheers of congratulations go up and plans are immediately made to go out and celebrate. Yoongi looks, for the first time, at the being the voice emanated from.

From that moment, Min Yoongi knew he was fucked.

Chapter Text

Kim Taehyung, Yoongi finds, is hard to get out of your mind.

He knows it’s not right, that he doesn’t deserve it, but even the nagging thoughts aren’t enough to dispel the floppy hair and wide grins from his mind.

His last three lessons pass by uneventfully, he meets the other two boys sat with Hoseok at lunch in the breaks in between lessons, Jimin, a boy only slightly taller than Yoongi himself, with piercing eyes that see deep into the soul and plump lips that curve into the most beautiful smile. Seokjin, he learns, is only marginally older than Yoongi himself but makes Yoongi look 12 years old, his striking white blonde hair set him apart from the rest, a shining star in the darkness of the sky. Quickly he finds it’s a running joke amongst everyone to poke fun at the amount of time it takes Seokjin to get his hair done, only to, without fail, have abusive insults hurled right back in their faces – Yoongi finds himself marveling at the creativity of Seokjin’s insults.

That evening, after all classes and mandatory study is over, Hoseok and Namjoon wait for Yoongi, ensuring he finds his way home safely now the blanket of night has fallen over them.

On his way home, only the wind to keep him company Yoongi lets his mind wander.

He imagines soft, tanned hands holding his own, a grin hidden behind a muffler. He imagines soft whispers in his ear as hands roam over his body and the promise of forever hidden within the deepest brown eyes. His hand clutches at the air as he longs, so desperately, for someone to be there, to hold him when the pain is too much to bear in the dead of night.

Two girls cycle past, scarves blowing behind them and yells lost to the late night wind, the epitome of free. Yoongi watches as one breezes by the other and loses balance when turning to laugh. Breath lodges itself in his throat until she regains her balance, her smile illuminated by the yellow glow of the streetlamps.

The girls continue on their way and leave Yoongi alone with his thoughts once more. No cars pass him, no animals venture into his path. He looks around at the fields surrounding him and tries to imagine his ancestors farming in them, their hats blown off in the wind, skin weather beaten and tanned. Then, Taehyung springs to his mind, maybe their ancestors knew each other? farmed alongside each other, a promise shared that tomorrow will be better, that each morning holds new possibilities.

Before long he spots his run down house begin to take shape, the old gate swinging on it’s hinges, playing games with the wind. The house had been in the Min family for generations, due to be passed down to his mother, that is, before she was whisked away to live a lavish life in Seoul with his father, where the house was left to rot and age ungracefully.

He toes off his shoes and steps through the sliding doors, a white cat immediately curling around his legs, purring as though he were the first human it had seen all day.

“Mama?” He calls out into the empty darkness. “You here?”

Silence is the only reply he gets. Flicking on the lights in their living room he gets no shock at what he sees. Liquor bottles line the floors, photo albums strewn around, and there, in the corner, hunched over an old sweater of his, is his mother.

She’s as beautiful as ever, her long black hair still tumbles down past her shoulders, her cat like eyes impossibly big and her heart still as pure. Except now her eyes don’t shine quite like Yoongi remembers, her words slur thanks to the ever present alcohol in her system and her nights are no longer spent peacefully, instead she tosses and turns and cries out for Yoongi in her sleep.

Gone is the mother he remembers from his childhood.

Only her shell remains.

“C’mon mama, bed.” he instructs, his heart clenching a little when she looks up at him, a perfect imitation of a broken child. He helps her up and wraps her arms around his shoulders. It’s not hard to carry her anymore.

He can’t remember the last time he saw her eat.

“Did Auntie come today?” he asks, spying the basket of fresh lettuce left on the kitchen side.

A grunt is all he receives, but that’s enough. He’ll take it for now. He weaves around the bottles and the photos, careful not to trample any and ruin his mother’s safe haven. He spots a baby photo of himself tucked under a door frame and makes a mental note to pick it up when he cleans later.

Finally he finds himself in his mother’s room, settling her down into bed he strokes her hair as she watches him, unshed tears glistening in her eyes.

“I know mama,” he whispers soothingly to her.

“Yoongi, I’m sorry,” she whispers back, her hand clutching his. “I’m so sorry this is happening to you.” The tears finally spill and Yoongi simply wipes them away with the pad of his finger.

He doesn’t respond. Doesn’t know how, so he just keeps stroking her hair until her eyes finally drop shut and her tears stop flowing.

Making his way back through the lounge he stoops to pick up a mostly full bottle of soju. Tucking it into his pocket he sits on the steps outside his modest house. The bottle finds its way to his lips once, twice, three times before he notices someone stood next to the rickety old fence.

“Yoongi?” the person calls out.

Yoongi looks up and all the air gets punched out of his lungs, for there stood Kim Taehyung, his face lit by the moonlight, an ethereal glow around him.

“How long have you lived in the old Lee house?” Taehyung asks, eyeing the decaying property. “No one’s lived here for years, not since Mr Lee died.”

“It’s uh… my mom, she’s a Lee. Mr Lee was… my granddad.” Yoongi awkwardly mumbles out, regretting the alcohol burning through his system, that thankfully Taehyung hadn’t noticed in his shaking hands or was too polite to mention.

“Oh!” Taehyung exclaims, recognition alighting in his eyes. “So you’re the prodigal grandson. I shoulda known!”

Yoongi simply nods, his face burning from embarrassment.

“We should walk together from now on, it’s a long old journey on your own!” Taehyung says

Yoongi nods, maybe a bit too enthusiastically, and there it is, the smile that had been floating around his head since the first time he saw it that very same day at the lunch table.

“Hey, one more thing Yoongs?” Taehyung asks, taking Yoongi aback by the sudden introduction of a nickname.

“Don’t… don’t do that again. Please.” He asks, motioning with his head towards the alcohol bottle, warm from Yoongi’s grasp. “I’m only the house across the next field. Come over some time. Bring your mom too.” he offers, and, without another word Kim Taehyung is off over the field and out of Yoongi’s eyesight.

Slowly Yoongi lifts his heavy feet and sets to work cleaning the vegetables left on the doorstep by the kind neighborhood aunties.

Chapter Text

Bleary eyes survey the world around him, dust mites filter through the breaks in the curtains, early morning sunlight bringing the promise of a new day.

He rolls over and sees his mama curled into a ball next to him, her already small frame looking even smaller under the bulk of the winter duvet. Brushing the hair out of her mouth and behind her ear he can’t help but to feel a sense of responsibility at the state of her.

Barefoot he gently pads over the damp patch in the carpet and places the cleaning supplies back into their usual place in the corner of the room. Without waking his mother he slips on his school uniform, shirt crisp and shoes polished.

Medicine lines the counter tops, each a different remedy for a different ailment, he curses when the first packet is out of date, and the next, and the next. Stomach dropping, he realises the date on all the packets of medicine have passed.

Hearing his mama moving around in the room above him he becomes more frantic in his search for medication within date, packets hit the floor, one after another after another, tears sting his eyes but he refuses to let them fall, he just needs to find one packet in date, just one, he searches behind jars in cupboards, within utensil pots, praying for one solitary pill to make itself known.

Footsteps begin descending the stairs, the quick steps matching the racing of his heart.

“Yoonie? Yoonie what’s wrong?” His mother’s panicked voice rings around the kitchen.

Looking down at the crushed pills in his hands he finally lets the tears break free, sliding down his face and into the mess below him.

“Mama… I… I’m sorry, I’m sorry mama. I couldn’t find any, I’m sorry,” He hiccups.

“Shh, it’s okay baby, it’s okay, It’ll be okay.” she soothes, quickly appearing at his side and bundling him into her arms, he lets the soothing motion of the circles being rubbed into his back take over his mind, silencing the voices in his head screaming that he fucked up.

“C’mon Gigi, I’ll clean this up, there’s someone waiting for you outside.” She whispers, eyeing the mess surrounding her.

“Mama, I’m sorry.” He whispers back

“It’s okay baby.” She says, ushering him out the door and towards the fence.

And there he was, Kim Taehyung, in all his glory, not a single hair out of place, leaning on the fence without a single care in the world. His shirt shines in the early morning sunlight, slightly blinding Yoongi, he fakes shielding his eyes from the brightness; using it as an excuse to wipe the lingering tears from his eyes.

When he elicits a laugh from the ethereal being stood at his fence though, he feels his heart lighten a fraction.

“I love you Yoonie, be safe.” His mother says from behind him, her soft voice being carried by the wind blowing around him, wrapping him up and sending him off with a gentle embrace.

“Morning Min!” Taehyung exclaims as Yoongi nears him, his smile beaming almost as bright as his shirt.

“Ready for another day of Mr Lee and Jaewon?” he asks, already moving away from the gate, seemingly gliding with every step.

“Oh, as ready as I’ll ever be,” Yoongi replies, mustering up as much enthusiasm as possible.

Although, if Taehyung’s snort is anything to go by it’s not nearly enough to be convincing.

The walk to school with Taehyung was shrouded in silence, neither feeling the need to talk unless to point out stupid looking clouds or to recite a corny joke they had heard somewhere before.

“Uh, hey, Yoongi?” Taehyung asks just as they near the school gates, Jimin and Jungkook slowly coming into view, both plastered to the phones in their hands, only interacting to show the other something stupid.

“Yeah?” Yoongi replies, curiosity lacing his tone.

“My grandma said she’ll take your mom some food tonight, you don’t have to worry.” Taehyung mutters, not looking up from the floor.

“I’m sorry?” Yoongi asks, incredulous.

“It’s just…” Taehyung starts.

“What did you tell her Taehyung? We’re fine. We can look after ourselves.” Yoongi interrupts, anger flooding his body.

“Yoongi?” Taehyung says, his voice coming out feeble and weak.

“You met me yesterday Taehyung, this isn’t what normal people do.” Yoongi spits, stalking away from the other boy, pushing past Jimin and Jungkook who greet him with nothing but smiles.

“It’s what people fucking do here Min Yoongi, we look out for one another!” Taehyung shouts after him, drawing the attention of everyone around.

Yoongi doesn’t care, doesn’t care about anything except the burning in his eyes and the vomit climbing up his throat. Storming past the school entrance he continues walking until his feet are covered in blisters and there is no one around except the bugs and the animals flitting through the fields surrounding him.

Finding a secluded spot away from any prying eyes that may venture down the beaten track between fields Yoongi sinks to the floor and lets the vomit climbing up his throat out, staining the grass beneath him.

Lying back he watches the clouds pass over him, slowly darkening with the sky above them. He’s unaware of the time, uncaring about the cold seeping into his bones, the dampening grass underneath him or the fact that he’s just completely fucked everything up for himself with the only people that have ever shown him they care.

“Yoongi?” A voice calls out in the distance.

He closes his eyes and lets the voice wash over him, sure they’ll give up soon.

“Yoongi?” The voice calls again, and again, and again, each time growing louder and closer.

“Shit. Shut the fuck up. Are you trying to wake the whole village?” Yoongi shouts back to the voice, gaining a yelp of surprise in return.

Within a few minutes the all too familiar face of Jung Hoseok leers into his eyeline.

“Good evening Min, fancy explaining why the fuck you’re out here?” he asks, settling down into the grass next to him.

There’s something so familiar, so trustworthy about Hoseok that Yoongi finds he can’t quite hold anything in anymore and the all too familiar rush of tears stream down his face.

“Hoseok, if I tell you something you have to promise not to treat me any differently.” Yoongi murmurs, feeling Hoseok’s eye’s on his now tear stained face.

“It’s about my dad, and where he is.” He continues.

Chapter Text

Weary legs drag Yoongi back to his house on the outskirts of nowhere, the darkness of the house is no longer a surprise to Yoongi; as he steps through the door he prepares himself for the worst.

“Mama, I’m home.” He calls through the vast darkness.

Silence is his only answer.

“Mama?” He calls, a bit louder this time, poking his head into the kitchen he sees the mess he made earlier completely cleared and the kitchen looking cleaner than it ever had, gone are the pots and pans that line the counter tops all week long until Yoongi has a chance to wash them at the weekend.

The cat’s feeding space is free from the plethora of bowls that inhabit the space, instead simply a water bowl and a food bowl remain. He ventures into the lounge at the back of the old house, only to find that vacant as well. He feels the panic rising in his lungs, his knuckles clench and he feels his nails begin to dig into his palm. Using the pain to keep him grounded and rational he begins searching the empty house.

Reaching the bedroom his heart is in his throat, cautiously he slides the door open, only to find this room empty too.

The terror climbing into his heart calms down however, when he spots a note on his pillow.

Mrs Kim from over the field invited us over for dinner Yoonie, come over when you’re back from study.

I love you,
Mama

“Oh shit.” Yoongi murmurs to himself, visions of his last encounter with Taehyung flashing through his head.

Dragging himself over to the wardrobe he peels himself out of his uniform and shrugs on a worn black oversized hoodie and black jeans, unintentional rips throughout them. Making his way to the kitchen he forces himself to put the black sneakers on his feet, eyes scanning the kitchen he notices the neatly stacked pill packets and he breathes a slight sigh of relief.

Exiting the house he begins the journey over the field to the dimly lit house on the other side, he’s vaguely aware of a figure outside, backlit from the warm lighting coming from inside.

Cursing, he notices the state of his sneakers, mud covered and soggy. He lifts his head towards the sky to distract himself and tries to count the stars, his breathing matching the rhythm of his feet hitting the damp grass.

After 396 stars he begins hearing a sound he hadn’t heard for years, his mothers laughter.

Pausing where he stands he takes in the sound for a while, a smile of his own finding it’s way upon his face.

“You are allowed in you know,” Taehyung calls from his place on the porch, bitterness lacing his tone.

“Taehyung!” Yoongi exclaims, startled out of his daydreaming.

“They’re all waiting for you.” He says, voice now devoid of emotion. He turns to start moving inside the house.

“Wait, Taehyung.” Yoongi calls out to him. “Didn’t my mom wonder where I was?” he asked when the other boy turned back to face him.

“No, I covered for you.” Taehyung responds.

“Shit, thank you! Look, I’m sorry for-“

“Don’t.” Taehyung snaps, “I don’t care Yoongi, yes, I covered for you, that doesn’t mean I’m not fucking pissed though.”

Taehyung storms back into the house and Yoongi is left feeling slightly embarrassed and ashamed of his actions.

Following him back into the house Yoongi is overtaken with the life inside the house, even though only Taehyung and his grandma inhabit the house pictures of relatives – or so Yoongi assumes – line the walls, every surface is covered in knitted doilies and tablecloths.

“Yoongi!” Taehyung’s grandmother calls from the Kotatsu on the floor, his mother turning to beam at him from her space opposite, face slightly flushed from the warmth underneath.

“Hello Auntie,” He greets, taking a seat at the table opposite Taehyung, fitting his legs under the table and immediately feeling the warmth seep into his bones.

“Mama,” he smiles warmly, his way of greeting her. She reaches across and touches his hand comfortingly.

For the rest of the night, Yoongi feels Taehyung’s eyes on his face and he fears the glare will be imprinted on his cheek by the time they say their goodnights and head back across the field.

“Yoongi, you must visit with Taehyung more often, it’s been a treat having you.” Taehyung’s grandmother calls as they pass through the gate.

He chances a brief look back at Taehyung, who avoids making eye contact, simply staring past Yoongi at the field of cabbage.

“Of course Auntie.” Yoongi replies, waving at both Taehyung and his grandma as they slowly disappear out of sight.

 

Yoongi wakes the next morning, avoiding the damp patch of carpet with his socked feet, he puts the cleaning supplies back in the corner where they live.

After eating and dressing he makes his way back across the field, backpack bumping on his back with the force that he is walking, his feet no longer squelch, the early morning sunlight hardening the ground.

He finally reaches the gate of the house just as Taehyung is being rushed out of the front door, tie hanging loosely around his neck and blazer slung over one shoulder, he hops as he tries to slip his shoe on to his foot.

“I told you to get up Kim Taehyung and now look, you’re going to be late.” his grandmother scolds, gently pushing him so he hurries up down the two steps towards the gate.

“What the fuck are you doing here?” Taehyung whispers to Yoongi as he gets to the gate, just out of earshot of his grandma.

“I know it’s not gonna make up for me being a dick yesterday but, I’m trying.” Yoongi says to him, tone apologetic.

“You’re an idiot Min Yoongi,” Taehyung says, “But holding grudges is bad for the soul so I forgive you.” He continues, a smile slowly spreading over his face.

“From now on we have to walk together every day before and after school, okay?” Yoongi says, heart in his throat at the smile Taehyung throws his way.

“Deal,” Taehyung replies, shoving Yoongi slightly and running ahead.

“Oh!” Taehyung shouts, turning to face Yoongi, still walking backwards. “I have rehearsals tonight, can’t walk back with you.”

Yoongi just smiles and nods, deciding he would wait for rehearsals to be over.

He would wait forever for Taehyung.

Chapter Text

Low morning sun blinds Yoongi as he runs down the path, backpack bouncing and hitting his back with every step he takes. Breath curls around his head like smoke from his heavy exhales.

Slowing down he risks a look over his shoulder, waving to his mama from her spot in the window.

“Three weeks Min Yoongi, that’s how many days you’ve been late. Three whole weeks.” Taehyung laughs from his place on the other side of the fence and Yoongi finds his feet stopping in his place, not being able to decide if it’s the fact he’s still half asleep or if Taehyung really is that beautiful when he smiles.

Taehyung nods his head towards, and starts moving down, the small dirt track leading away from Yoongi’s house, his long strides leaving Yoongi running behind.

“Tae,” He calls breathlessly, “Slow down. Please!”

Taehyung simply laughs in response, slowing down just enough for Yoongi to keep pace. They settle into a comfortable silence, as they do most mornings, and evenings. Yoongi looks around them at the auntie’s in the fields beginning their day’s work, their skin tanned and tired. Taehyung waves at them as they pass, laughing when they scold the two boys for being late to school.

“So, what’s the reason today? So far we’ve had lost shoes, cut fingers, oversleeping, feeling ill, lost mom, pyjamas –“ Taehyung begins listing before Yoongi barks out a laugh at the boy counting off the reasons on his fingers, tone becoming comical.

“I didn’t sleep, I seemed to fall asleep only for my alarm to go off not a minute later!” Yoongi explains, exasperated.

“Hobi’s been blowing up my phone, he doesn’t want to be late for Lee’s class,” Taehyung explains, and, as if on cue, his phone dings with a new text.

The two’s eyes meet and, in a silent agreement, they pick up the pace.

-

“Is there gonna be a single day when you two aren’t late?” Hoseok exclaims animatedly as the two arrive at the school gates.

“You know you don’t have to wait for us every day, you can go in?” Taehyung says, fake boredom lacing his tone.

“Fucking rude. Try to do one nice thing and this is how I’m repaid.” Hoseok says, hitting Taehyung on the arm.

“See you later Yoonie,” Taehyung says, smiling at the boy over his shoulder, ignoring the battering he is receiving from Hoseok.

“Bye Tae,” Yoongi says, smiling after the other boy.

“Bye Tae,” Hoseok mocks when Taehyung is out of earshot.

“Fucker,” Yoongi mutters under his breath before stalking off towards their first class of the day.

The majority of the morning passes in a usual fashion, Yoongi and Hoseok are reprimanded for being late to class, Jin spends all next period showing Yoongi photos of his sugar gliders whilst Jimin preaches why it’s not right to keep them as pets. Third period Yoongi is on his own, he dozes behind textbooks and drums melodies on his table.

Just like every single day for the past three weeks at this school someone is waiting for him after his third period class, today, it’s Namjoon and Hae-won, their hands entwined together. They lead the way to the cafeteria, commenting on the bags under Yoongi’s eyes and how he needs to sleep more often.

Once in the cafeteria Yoongi slots himself in between Jungkook and Jimin, the former passing him an ear bud to listen to. It’s a system the two had begun when Yoongi had grown weary of the whispers surrounding him. So, every day at lunch, Jungkook passes an ear bud to the elder to block out the gossip.

Taehyung had begun to eat lunch with the drama kids, a perfect time to run their lines for the upcoming production. Yoongi thinks no one can resist Taehyung’s charm, he watches more and more people get drawn to the boy, hanging off every word leaving his mouth, laughing at every poor regurgitated joke. He’s started testing out the jokes on Yoongi in the mornings and Yoongi can’t help but to feel a spike of jealousy at hearing the same jokes told to someone else.

Closing his eyes he lets the music pulsing through the one headphone take over, leaning on his hand he blocks out the sound of the world, ignoring the wave of laughter that comes from the side of the room that Taehyung is sat in, no doubt he’s showing off some weirdly charming skill or doing stupid accents.

He feels Jungkook tense beside him not a mere second before he feels an arm slip around his shoulder and the ear bud being pulled out, the noise of the real world resurfacing.

“So Yoongi,” an unfortunately familiar voice begins, “I heard mommy has a bit of a drink problem, that because of daddy?” Jaewon snides.

“Oh don’t you have anything fucking better to do with your time?” Jimin snarls, pushing Jaewon’s arm from around Yoongi’s shoulder.

“Why don’t you mind your own business Park?” Jaewon retorts, standing over the seated boy.

Namjoon stands out of his seat on the other side of the table, Jin hot on his heels, all thoughts of food pushed to one side, annoyance taking pride of place over anything else. Yoongi feels multiple pairs of eyes watching the build up from around the cafeteria. Suddenly, Jungkook stands from beside him, towering over the other boy.

“You looking for a fight Kim Jaewon? Carry on and that’s what you’ll fucking end up with.” He says quietly, threateningly.

“Kook,” Hoseok’s voice calls across from the table and immediately Jungkook backs off, Hoseok standing to take his place.

“Walk. Away.” He growls lowly at Jaewon.

Jaewon begins to walk away, but seems to think better of it, turning to spit in Hoseok’s face where he stands.

The last thing Yoongi sees is Taehyung shoving Jaewon, pure rage etched into all his features.

Briefly he wonders when Taehyung had got across the cafeteria. Then, Hae-Won screaming his name.

Then, only darkness.

Chapter Text

Rhythmic bumping stirs Yoongi from the darkness swimming all around him, right hip bumping on something metal and quiet trot music infiltrating his ears. With a groan he sits up, only to lose his balance and slip off the back seat of the car, his head bouncing off the seat in front.

“Stay lay down, it’s best if you just rest,” a voice says from the front of the car.

“Auntie?” Yoongi asks as they go over a pothole, nearly falling out of his seat once more.

“Put your belt on if you’re going to sit up, this road is useless,” she says, swerving to miss another pothole, cursing quietly when the car still hits it.

“What happened? The fight?” he asks, confused.

“You passed out, you need to sleep more Yoongi, it’s not healthy being up most of the night.” she begins, glancing at him through the rearview mirror, sympathy furrowing her brow.

“Those stupid boys, all fighting like wild dogs, I thought I had brought my Taehyung up better than that.” She mumbles, waving at the same people in the same field that Taehyung had earlier on in the day.

Yoongi rests his head on his hand and watches the world pass by past him, the cold winter day not enough to deter the farmers in their fields, shivering at the thought he pulls his coat tighter around his small frame. In the front of the car Taehyung’s grandma sings along softly to the music crackling out of the old car speakers.

“What is this Auntie?” he asks intrigued by the lyrics of the sad song.

“Song Sohee,” she simply answers and continue singing along, the lyrics of heartbreak and loneliness striking within him.

They turn past Yoongi’s house and continue around the dirt track, pulling into the small shed next to Taehyung’s house, his grandma parks the car and helps Yoongi out, leading him into the house and going back to close the shed door and gates leading up to the house.

Awkwardly standing in the entrance to the house he looks at all the photos lining the walls, photos of Taehyung as a baby, as a child, and recent school photos. There are photos of two people, a man and a woman, Taehyung is with them in some of the photos but they disappear as Taehyung begins to get older.

“They died when he was young. His heart still isn’t healed from losing them.” Taehyung’s grandma explains from behind Yoongi, a comforting hand resting on his shoulder. All the air rushes from his lungs and the familiar sting of tears appear behind his eyes for the child in the photos, the child who had loved oh so deeply but lost his everything.

“Your mama was up all night too so I said I would bring you here so you could rest.” Taehyung’s grandmother explains, leading Yoongi through the house littered with memories.

“Rest in here,” she says, sliding open a door, to what Yoongi assumes is Taehyung’s room.

“I’ll be in the kitchen, do not hesitate if you need anything, we need to keep your strength up.” she instructs, heading out the door and sliding the door shut behind her.

Taehyung’s room is nothing out of the ordinary, it’s like every other house in rural South Korea, dark wood floors, dark paneling on the walls and a window overlooking the field behind the house. He feels like he shouldn’t be allowed in, like he was snooping in some way, multiple pairs of eyes from the kpop posters lining the walls watching his every step, every breath. Removing his blazer and slippers he makes his way over to Taehyung’s bed and lies atop the green comforter, too shy to get into the bed and relieve the chill from his bones.

From his place on the bed he surveys the room, pens and notebooks line the ageing oak desk across the room, schoolwork strewn across the surface, text books littering the floor, all opened to a different page. A framed photo of the six boys stands on the bedside table, each of them in summer clothes and wearing grins across their faces, they look younger and more carefree, like they had all the time in the world to achieve whatever they wanted. The world was theirs, nothing could stop their dreams from flying.

Rolling over he closes his eyes and lets the sweet surrender of sleep wash over him, settling his ever-present nausea for a brief period of time.

-

He’s not sure how much time has passed when he wakes but the room has grown into darkness and he clambered under the comforter in his sleep, no doubt seeking the warmth the room cannot provide. Rolling back over he spots another, messier, blazer thrown over his own, another school tie next to his on the dresser and a brown backpack on the floor next to the desk.

Laughter floats through the house into the bedroom and Yoongi slides out of bed, feet finding purchase on the floor, and follows the noise of laughter, before he can reach the room though Taehyung calls Yoongi to him from his place on the porch. Wrapped in a blanket and thick coat Yoongi makes his way out, toeing on his shoes on the way.

Sitting next to Taehyung on the small step he lifts his head to the sky, counting the stars.

“How you feeling now?” Taehyung asks.

“Better, thank you.” Yoongi replies, finally looking at Taehyung for the first time since lunch, noticing the split lip and the cut on his cheek.

“Tae, shit.” He whispers, reaching up to ghost his fingers along the cut on his cheek. He feels Taehyung’s eyes on him, watching him intently.

“Yoonie,” Taehyung whispers, “I’m sorry about what he said, I’m sorry I wasn’t there to make him shut up,”

“Tae, it’s fine.” Yoongi whispers back, afraid to shatter the moment.

Slowly, the two begin closing the distance between them, heads angled towards each other. Yoongi will never be able to tell you whether it was the adrenaline from remembering the events of the morning or the cold weather that made them crave each other so intently in that moment.

Of course all good things must come to an end though.

Screams of laughter come floating through from the house and both boys snap out of whatever haze they were in, Taehyung quickly pulling away and standing.

“Your uh… your mom came over to eat.” He laughs awkwardly before disappearing into the house.

“Fuck!” Yoongi curses quietly into the night, shaking the memory of how warm Taehyung’s breath had been against his lips.

Chapter Text

For two weeks Taehyung has been avoiding him, avoiding everyone.

He sits with the drama kids all lunch, never once glancing back over at the table he once sat at, Yoongi’s walks to and from school are lonely and long, excuses about early morning and late night rehearsals slowly washing over him, all blending into one. Whenever Mrs Kim invites the two over to eat Taehyung is never there, always out with Jimin or Hobi and Jungkook.

Slowly, the tearing of his heart stops and the scraps begin to meld themselves back together. Yoongi blames himself, if he hadn’t gotten so close to Taehyung that night, maybe they would all still be friends.

On the rare times Yoongi has turned up to lunch and Taehyung has been at the table he makes some excuse to whoever he’s with and sits outside on one of the benches until the bell for next period rings, the cold chill of the wind making it’s way into his bones no matter how tight his coat is pulled around him or how low his hat is over his head.

He watches countless girls approach Taehyung, only to leave with their hearts broken, letters of love scrunched in tiny hands, tears hidden behind long bangs.

Slowly Yoongi settles into his new routine, blocking out the world, blocking out the part of his heart that yearns for one pair of hands to hold his, one pair of eyes to look his way.

One pair of lips to touch his.

Snow begins blanketing the ground and exam preparation starts, no one sees much of anyone anymore, each lunch spent cramming information into their already crowded minds.

On one of the rare lunches the boys spend together Hoseok looks over towards the drama table and lets out a low whistle.

“Damn, whatever Tae’s done to his hair is working for him.” he says, the other five boys immediately whipping their head around into the same direction.

There, in amongst a sea of black hair is Taehyung, golden hair waving and parting down the centre, an angel amongst mere mortals.

“It’s for the play,” Jin says around a mouthful of rice. “He has permission for it to be dyed just for the length that the play is running,”

“Wait, if you’re not allowed dyed hair…” Yoongi trails off, looking at the white blonde mop sat atop Jin’s head.

“Those who have money can do as they please. His dad basically keeps the school afloat with his donations,” Namjoon explains without even looking up, hand scribbling notes into a worn notebook.

“Oh,” Yoongi says, hand automatically reaching for the strands of hair, once dyed an electric blue, now covered over messily by a cheap black dye.

Halfway through blowing on a spoonful of soup he begins coughing, regretting sitting out in the cold for so long the past few weeks. The coughs rack his short body and all eyes at the table turn to him; he’s vaguely aware of another pair of eyes on him from across the cafeteria.

“You okay Yoongs?” Jungkook mutters, lightly tapping the smaller boy on the back in the hopes that it would dispel some coughing.

“Yeah, still not got a bed at home, been sleeping on the floor,” He explains, coughing ceasing for a while. He rests his head in his hands for a while to stop the world from spinning quite so much.

Reaching into his backpack he pulls out a small blister pack of medication and smiles a small smile at the other boys as he quickly pops a pill into his mouth and washes it down with the warm water sat on his lunch tray.

“There, that should keep me going,” He says, trying to sound lighthearted.

“C’mon Yoongs, I’ll walk you home,” Hoseok offers, standing and gathering his bag from under the table.

“And just how are you gonna do that?” Yoongi laughs, “I’ll be fine, seriously,”

None of the boys look happy about his statement but none of them have time to dispute it before the bell rings, bringing them back to the world of geometry, equations and grammar.

Yoongi chances a glance to where Taehyung sits, only to find the other boy intensely watching him, something hidden behind his eyes. Yoongi forces out a small smile and dips his head back down to watch the floor as he walks, feeling Taehyung’s eyes still on him as he leaves.

The day passes by in a blur and Yoongi says his goodbyes to his new friends and begins his long trek home, head filled with homework and chores.

Suddenly a scarf is wrapped around his neck, so large it covers the bottom half of his face, the smell is melancholy and he feels his heart squeeze at it.

“Stop sitting in the cold,” Taehyung mutters from behind him.

“Stop avoiding me,” Yoongi replies, keeping his eyes straight forwards, watching out for any patches of ice he could injure himself on.

“I’m not, I’m –“ Taehyung begins.

“Busy, yeah, I know.”

“Yoongi, I’m sorry.”

“What?” Yoongi asks, stopping and spinning around to face Taehyung.

With his hair dyed and styled differently Yoongi feels as though he no longer knows the boy stood in front of him, he is almost a stranger, a thought that makes Yoongi feel sick to the stomach.

“I’m sorry for what happened that night, what almost happened.” Taehyung says quietly, staring at the floor and seeming rather small.

“Tae what are you talking about?” Yoongi laughs.

“On… the porch?” Taehyung asks, confusion lacing his voice.

“Oh shit, did something happen?” Yoongi asks, “Tae, whatever I did I’m sorry, I was half asleep, I don’t remember anything,” He continues, tone mildly horrified.

Relief floods Taehyung’s features and he shakes his head before continuing walking past Yoongi.

Yoongi just stands and watches him go. It’s easier to be friends with the other boy and pretend to not have feelings for him than to not have him in his life at all. He’s just glad Taehyung bought his crappy acting.

But he always was a good liar.

Those with secrets always needed to be.

Chapter Text

“Min Yoongi!” Hoseok calls through the house, voice muffled from the shower enclosing Yoongi.

Closing his eyes he leans his head back, face into the stream of the shower, warmth soaking into his skin. He washes his hair, nimble fingers massaging out the tension from retaining useless information that he will probably never need again.

Finally switching off the shower he grabs a towel from the heated rail and wraps it around his waist, shivering when the cold air hits his naked body. From the kitchen he can hear the muffled voices of Hoseok and his mom talking, both bright sparks in his dull life.

He creeps into the bedroom, his plan to go unnoticed failing when he trips over the cat lounging in the winter sunlight streaming into the hallway.

“Shit,” he curses softly, righting himself and grabbing his towel to stop it slipping down his waist.

“Fuck me, you’re skinny,” Hoseok says from behind him, causing him to jump a mile into the air.

“I don’t put on weight easily,” Yoongi shrugs, trying to play off his earlier fright.

Hoseok just shakes his head, a warm smile on his face and pushes Yoongi towards the bedroom before heading back off towards the kitchen, soft laughs floating out from both inhabitants.

Staring into the half empty wardrobe he tries to assess what his outfit choice for the day would be. The local fair had rolled into the town 20 minutes away and all 7 boys (and Hae-Won) had decided they were allowed one day to just be kids again, forget all the entrance exams coming up and the pressures of society, this day was theirs to ride the teacups and play stupid strong man games.

Yoongi pulls out the oversized black hoodie he had worn to Taehyung’s the first time he had been over and slides it on over ripped black jeans. Throwing the towel over his head he dries his hair the best he can, eyes peeking out of a damp fringe he watches his own face, fingers lifting to trace the bags under his eyes and the sallowness of his skin. He dips his head, to avoid looking at himself, to distract himself from all going on around him.

Pulling socks out of his drawers he smiles at the dinosaur pattern lining them and slips boots on over them, leather worn and faded but comfortable, a winter has yet to pass that these boots haven’t been loyal to his feet, keeping him upright in even the iciest of conditions.

He slips on a maroon beanie over his still damp hair and wraps Taehyung’s scarf around his face, smell of the other boy still lingering in the fabric, before pulling a thick coat on over his hoodie. Gloves come to lie on his hands and he exits into the kitchen where Hoseok and his mother sit, mugs of coffee in their hands, gossiping like two old women.

Yoongi stands and watches the scene, heart full and warm from watching two people he loved getting on so well. That is, until Hoseok spots him and begins laughing at the amount of clothes on his small frame.

“You said it yourself, I’m skinny, I get cold!” Yoongi says, tone defensive and he’s just glad the scarf is hiding the lower part of his face so his pout can’t be seen by the other boy.

They exit the house, arms linked, other arms waving madly at Yoongi’s mother from her place at the window.

“You know Hobi, it feels as though I’ve known you forever,” Yoongi says dreamily, arm tightening around Hoseok’s.

“You’re not getting all sentimental on me now are you Yoonie?” Hoseok laughs in response as they begin over the field towards Taehyung’s house, boots crunching the ice lying upon the mud in-between cabbages.

“Fuck off,” Yoongi says, pout only half fake.

“Look, Yoonie, I know you’re madly in love with me but you already know my heart belongs to Seoyun from class 6.”

“You’re an ass,” Yoongi laughs at him, spotting Jimin and Namjoon turning up to Taehyung’s house, both as equally bundled up as Yoongi.

“You’re gonna be cold,” he laughs at Hoseok, scrunching his nose when the other boy begins to make whining noises, trying to get Yoongi’s scarf off him.

“Shut up! I can hear you from half way across the field,” Jimin shouts from his place on the porch, arms wrapped around himself for warmth.

Both Hoseok and Yoongi laugh, beginning to pick up their pace when everyone else exits the house, Namjoon and Hae-Won wearing matching puffa jackets and bobble hats, round wire glasses perching upon both their noses.

Upon arrival on the other side of the field Hoseok pinches both their cheeks in between their fingers.

“Ain’t you two the cutest,” he coos, heavy dialect slipping out within his speech.

They laugh and swat his hands away, making their way towards the bus stop a few feet away, hands entwined and feet matching steps.

The last to exit the house is Taehyung and Yoongi waits for him to bid his farewells to his grandmother before joining him walking behind Jimin, Hoseok and Jungkook, all loudly arguing about the first ride they’re going to go on.

“How’re you feeling now?” Taehyung asks, blonde hair poking out from under a black bobble hat and poking into his eyeballs. Yoongi just nods in response, his mouth too cold to form words.

Finally reaching the bus stop they all huddle close together for warmth, Taehyung blowing on his bare hands to keep them warm.

“Where the fuck is this bus? I’m freezing my tits off,” he exclaims, looking down the road for any sign of the bus.

Yoongi slips off one of his gloves and hands it to Taehyung, shoving his bare hand deep within his pocket, trying to keep as much warmth as possible. Taehyung slips the glove on and after a while of staring at the side of Yoongi’s face reaches into Yoongi’s pocket and winds their bare hands together.

Yoongi thinks if the bus came and ploughed him down this instant that he would die happy.

Chapter Text

The journey to the theme park is cramped and boring, the bus is full of screaming children, all excitedly waving around light sticks, their mothers trying to quieten them down with promises of cotton candy and candied apples.

Yoongi, Jimin and Hae-Won find seats whilst all the others stood, their argument that the three smallest had to sit otherwise they would get lost in amongst all the children. grumbles emanated from Jimin and Yoongi whilst Hae-Won just giggled musically.

Taehyung’s figure loomed over where Yoongi and Jimin sat the entire way, protecting them from being caught in the pushing and shoving every time someone wanted to get on or off the bus. Yoongi stares at his one gloved hand the entire time some girls from school try to giggle and flirt with Taehyung, the latter either completely oblivious to it all or just very good at pretending to be.

Finally they arrive at the next town over, the lights of the fair illuminating the closest bus stop. The 8 of them wait for the bus to empty out before exiting themselves, thanking the bus driver they each, in turn, step out into the freezing winter night, snowflakes beginning to fall around them, landing on eyelashes and dancing past towards the floor.

Jungkook and Jimin scream and dance around in the snow, the lights from the fair flashing on their faces, illuminating their childlike glee; Yoongi cant help but smile when Taehyung joins them, spinning around with his tongue out, trying to catch as many snowflakes as possible.

“Not joining them?” Hae-Won asks softly from her place beside Yoongi as she watches Namjoon showing Seokjin all the snowflakes he caught on his gloves, her eyes full of fondness, and something else Yoongi couldn’t quite place, sadness maybe?

He just shakes his head shyly in response.

“I don’t like the snow,” he says after a while, shaking his head as Hoseok screeches past him, ducking under the cover of the bus shelter.

“Too cold?” She asks, finally turning to face Yoongi.

“Too many bad things happen in the snow.”

“But so many beautiful things, too.” She replies, following Yoongi’s eye line to Taehyung.

The two don’t speak for a while, Yoongi pulling his hat down lower over his face and burying his hands deeper into his pockets, tight fists clenched.

“Oi, are we standing here all night or are we actually going to the fair?” Hae-Won finally screams at the boys, all stopping and staring at her, looking like deer’s in headlights.

She laughs, links her arm with Yoongi’s and begins moving towards the fair, running footsteps following them.

They make it to the fair in a few minutes, pay their entrance fee and step foot into the magical land, fairground music coming from every direction, sweet scents of food stands wafting over them. Yoongi chances a glance at Taehyung and his heart squeezes at the sight of the other boy, eyes wide in childlike fascination.

Yoongi feels himself reach out to take Taehyung’s bare hand once more, just to pull it back and hide it in his pocket once again when the girls from the bus come running over, asking to join their group. The others, seeing no problem willingly oblige.

Skulking over to Hoseok Yoongi furrows his brow and leans into the other boy who simply laughs sympathetically and ruffles Yoongi’s hair under his hat.

“C’mon, let’s ride the carousel,” Hoseok says, trying to move with Yoongi attached to him like a sad koala.

“Hobi,” Jungkook whines, making puppy eyes at his cousin, “You said you would come on the rollercoaster with me,”

“Not gonna happen Kook,” Hoseok laughs, vague terror hiding within his words.

“Jin,” Jungkook whines as he spins away from Hoseok and Yoongi, towards the eldest of the group, who in response, pretends to karate chop Jungkook’s neck, distracting the youngest from whatever he was about to complain about.

Hoseok and Yoongi head to the front of the pack where they could lead the rest of them away from the rollercoasters and towards the carousel. Everyone following like sheep.

“How you feeling now?” Hoseok murmurs to Yoongi, his eyes continuing to stare forwards.

“Why do people keep asking me that? It’s just a cold, I’m fine.” Yoongi replies petulantly, ignoring the stare he receives back from Hoseok.

“I want the green one,” Jimin shouts, running past and jumping on the stopped carousel, arms winding around a green horse.

Shouts of colours and running teenagers follow Jimin, Hae-Won and Namjoon sharing a multicoloured horse and Seokjin clambering upon a chicken, Jungkook hot on his heels. Hoseok yelps as all the horses on the outside begin to get taken up and run to secure a blue horse named “dreamer”. The girls from the bus are next to follow, all squeezing into a carriage.

Yoongi doesn’t really care what horse he gets and simply saunters towards the ride, certain the others wouldn’t let it start until he got there. He’s vaguely aware of someone else beside him but assuming it to be a stranger ignores them.

A large gloved hand winds itself around his wrist and begins pulling Yoongi towards the carousel.

“C’mon slowpoke,” Taehyung laughs, his hat almost falling off with how energetically he runs.

They make it to the carousel and clamber upon the last horse on the outside. Yoongi isn’t sure why they’re sharing a horse but he finds he can’t quite find it in himself to complain when Taehyung’s arms wrap around his waist, keeping them both secure on the horse.

The music starts up and they begin winding round and round, the outside world passing in a blur, the carousel is in it’s own world, nothing can get them whilst it spins, the music bringing back innocent memories, Taehyung’s laughter echoing in his ears.

He can’t remember the last time he felt this free.

Throwing his head back to lean on Taehyung’s shoulder he closes his eyes and lets the dizziness overtake him.

For the 2 minutes that the ride takes place he forgets everything, all the pain, all the heartbreak waiting for him once the ride finishes.

For the first time in a long time he feels happiness.

Just pure happiness.