Actions

Work Header

12.4 Letters

Chapter Text

In the week prior, a nervous looking new kid arrived on scene. He took the bed next to Hoseok’s, and introduced himself as Taehyung.

“Excuse me, do you know a Hoseok and a Jimin?” He asked.

We nodded. “That’s us,” I replied, giving a strained smile.

Taehyung gave the back of his neck an anxious scratch.“They, uh, they said you were supposed to show me around.”

Hoseok and I exchanged glances.

Babysit? He mouthed.

I nodded.

He sighed, spinning in his wheely chair to face Taehyung. A thin-lipped, but dimpled smile appeared on his face. “Welcome to Dorm L4!” He raised his arms, gesturing to the room, before folding them back in his lap.

“It’s, uh, good to be here.” Taehyung faltered.

Hoseok scoffed. “No, it’s not.”

“As you already know,” I butted, “there’s a boys’ side to campus, and a girls’ side. Don’t go looking for the girls.”

If you weren’t paying attention, you may have never even known the girls were there. We saw them, sometimes. Caught faint glimpses of their skirts. Hoods quickly upturned to cover swishing ponytails. Never anything more. If the professors caught us staring, we’d be sent to write lines.

Taehyung nodded, clinging to the bag strap slung around his torso.

“In my three years here, I’ve never once spoken to a girl my age. Which is strange, considering the reason I was sent here in the first place.” Hoseok frowned, folding his arms. “I mean, wouldn’t they have wanted me to learn to like girls? Apparently not, considering we treat them like cryptids.”

I cleared my throat. “Anyways, Taehong-”

“-Tae hyung .”

“Right, sorry, Tahonk. You’re level G, right?”

He nodded.

“This is level L4. Do you, uh, see the problem here?”

“They, uh, they said I was supposed to stay here for a while,” he gulped. “Something about G being full.”

I glanced at Hoseok. He only shrugged.

I stretched out my neck and scratched behind my ear. “Alright, then. Well, you’ve already put your stuff on the bed there,” I pointed to his suitcase, sitting atop the bare mattress. “If you need any help unpacking, or, uh, whatever, just… give us a shout.”

Taehyung smiled faintly. “Thank… thank you.”

I smiled back. “No problem.”

 

~~

 

The first day of class with Mr. Kim Taehyung was a bit hectic. Luckily, they just so happened to place him in all of my classes!

Hoseok had snatched the timetable from the poor kid’s hands in the morning, shouting a quick whaddya got there? before taking the liberty to find out for himself. His brows furrowed as he scanned the page. “Hey, this looks just like…”

The grin that spread across his face as he shoved the paper back into Taehyung’s chest was immensely irritating .

“Well, looks like you’re stuck with Jiminie for the day!” He beamed. Ignoring my sputters of protest, Hoseok grabbed his bag and dashed out the door to breakfast. “See ya!”

“Hold up!” I demanded, stomping over and grabbing the timetable for myself. Taehyung probably babbled in protest in the background, but I was too focused on the paper. Shaking my head in denial, I shoved a hand into my pocket and pulled out my own schedule to compare.

Advanced Chemistry. Math. Gym. Lunch. English. Study Hall. Physics.

Heaving a great sigh, I handed the sheet back to Taehyung. “He’s right - we’ve got all of our classes together.”

“Oh…” Taehyung murmured, rubbing the paper between his fingers. “Sorry.”

I blinked at him. “Sorry? No, no, no - why are you sorry? You didn’t choose the timetable. Plus, I - I don’t really mind.”

Taehyung bit his lip and bowed his head, saying nothing.

“Hey, listen, it’s-” I stammered. I reached out to touch him, but quickly played it off as brushing back my hair. “Let’s just head to breakfast. Do you have everything?”

He looked up at me from beneath his mop of hair and nodded.

I tried a smile. “Great. Let’s get going.”

We were the last to leave the dorm. The heavy slam of the door caused both of us to flinch. Hesitantly, we laughed it off.

We sat across the table from Hoseok the Betrayer, squished between two underclassmen. The former at least had the decency to wait for us before eating.

‘Breakfast’ today consisted of ‘scrambled eggs’ and ‘toast.’ The only thing I trusted to be real was the water in my glass. Well, mostly trusted.

Taehyung stared at his own plate hesitantly.

“What’s wrong?” I asked around a mouthful of ‘toast.’

He blinked at me. “Hmm? Oh, nothing, I just - these eggs, they’re very… bright.”

I sniffed, chewing thoughtfully. “Think of it as, uh…” I paused, waving my fork in the air. “I don’t even know, man. I have no way of consoling you through these eggs. I just recommend you eat them.”

Taehyung nodded, stabbing into the painfully yellow meal.

Hoseok did the same. His eyes widened.

“What?” I frowned.

“Remarkable…” Hoseok murmured. “They taste… of nothing! It’s as if…” He paused, as if giving it great thought. “As if I weren’t even eating.”

“Whatever,” I shrugged, shoving more of the unsettling neon into my mouth. “It’s better than nothing.”

“Are you sure about that?” Hoseok asked. “It’s like the La Croix of food.”

Taehyung smiled, eyes crinkling.

The three of us split, Hoseok heading in the other direction as Taehyung and I made our way to Chemistry. The walk was long, and I decided to make some awkward conversation.

“So, what’re you in for?” I asked, grabbing the straps of my backpack.

Taehyung did the same, but in more of an anxious gesture. “Oh, uh…” He scratched the back of his neck. His next words appeared to be chosen with caution. “I’m… like Hoseok,” he said.

“Ah,” I nodded slowly. “You’re not alone in that. There’s a lot of guys here who are, uh, like Hoseok . Just… don’t talk about it, alright? You’ll get in trouble for even mentioning it.”

Taehyung nodded thoughtfully.

I gave him a slap on the shoulder. “Alright, better get to class. Mrs. Petty hates when students are late.”

“Hold up.” Taehyung stopped in his tracks. He snickered, “Mrs. Petty ?”

I sighed. “Yeah. Fitting name, too. Now, hurry up, unless you wanna get slapped over the knuckles with a ruler.”

He frowned. “Wait, they’re allowed to do that?”

“Allowed?” I snorted. “It’s encouraged. Now, for the millionth time, hurry up , or I’m going without you, Honk.”

“Coming, coming!” He huffed, waddling along beside me.

 

~~

 

It was really unfortunate, actually, that the property was so nice.

We had ponds, and woods, and the buildings were so elegantly built, all dark wood and large windows. It really distracted you from the all the horrible goings-on just out of sight.

One of these horrors was Mrs. Petty’s advanced chemistry class.

“Welcome to class, boys, it’s a joy to see you all today! Let us-” Mrs. Petty’s chalkboard scratching was interrupted as Taehyung and I shuffled into the doorway.

She turned around and faced us, hands folded. I bowed my head lowly, elbowing Taehyung to do the same.

“Well, well, what do we have here?” She croaked in the voice of a 62-year-old chain smoking homophobe. “Mr. Park, have you brought a friend?”

I cleared my throat. Head still low, I raised my eyes from the floor to meet her stare. “This is Kim Taehyung. He’s a new student here.”

Mrs. Petty pursed her lips. “Yes, so I’ve been told. I see you’ve been charged with showing him around?”

I nodded briskly, returning my gaze to the floor.

“Hmmf,” she paused for a few seconds. I could see Taehyung quivering in the corner of my eye. Finally, she spoke. “Get to your seats. You’re lucky to have an empty desk right next to your mentor, Mr. Kim.”

I gave a quick bow before skittering to my desk. Taehyung plopped into the seat on my right, shuffling in anxiously.

“Right. Now that everyone is present and accounted for, let us begin our lesson.”

And so class droned on and on. The clock on the wall ticked aimlessly in the background, counting down the infinite seconds until next period. I tapped my foot, clenched my jaw, drummed my pencil, and clicked my pen. Mrs. Petty droned on and on. That was what she did best, after all.

About halfway through the period, when the class was silently working, I noticed Taehyung staring at something out of the corner of my eye. I looked up curiously. He appeared to be fixated on the chalkboard.

I scribbled a message onto my paper, quietly tearing it before glancing at Mrs. Petty. She was occupied at her desk, shaking her head disdainfully at someone’s homework.

I gave Taehyung a tap on the shoulder, handing him the slip.

What are you looking at? I asked.

He blinked at me for a moment before leaning forward against his desk, scribbling. He returned the scrap to me with a bite of his lip.

I unfolded the paper.

The boy, it read.

I frowned, tilting my head at him.

What boy? I mouthed.

That one! He returned, cocking his head in the direction of his fixation.

I squinted in that general vicinity. I felt my jaw drop as I realized who that one was.

Him?! I demanded in aggressive, mouthing silence.

Yes, him! Taehyung replied.

I gave a silent groan, grabbing the paper and aggressively scrawling another message. Don’t look at him!!!

I basically threw the note at Taehyung, who caught it with faltering hands. He pulled it open, then glared at me with a pout and furrowed brows. With equal fury, he grabbed his pen and wrote me a response.

Why not?????

Because I said so! I mouthed.

He cocked his head and mouthed, What?

Because I said so! I repeated, enunciating heavily.

Snatching his own paper, he wrote out a question.

Because bread dough???

I groaned, audibly this time. Mrs. Petty glared up at me from beneath her tiny bitch-ass glasses. I gave her a tight smile.

Talk. Later. I mouthed to Taehyung.

He nodded, and we returned to our work. I glanced up a couple of minutes later to see him staring up at Namjoon again.

I sighed. This was going to be a tough semester.

 

~~~

 

The ear-splitting ring of the bell brought relief like no other.

I snatched Taehyung by the sleeve and dragged him into the hall. Students flowed around us like a school of fish.

He massaged his shoulder, pouting. “Ow!” He complained.

“Don’t look at that boy!” I hissed.

“Yeah, what’s that about?” He challenged. “That your ex or something?”

It was all I could do not to slap him in the face. So, instead, I punched his other shoulder.

“Ow!” He wheezed, switching his hands over to rub at the fresh injury. He gave me a glare. “That’s going to leave a bruise.”

“What happened to the sweet, shy Taehyung that walked into my dorm last night?” I demanded.

Taehyung clenched his jaw, heaving a great sigh. “Just tell me what’s up with that guy.”

“He’s bad news,” I explained. Glancing left and right, I noticed the halls were beginning to thin. Swallowing nervously, I adjusted the straps on my shoulders. “Let’s get going, we’re going to be late.”

“Wait, no!” Taehyung called, waddling after me as I power walked to class. Out of breath, he huffed, “You’re going to need to give me a bit more than that.”

I rolled my eyes, looking away. At this point, the halls were completely empty. I chewed my lip thoughtfully.

After a moment of silence, I turned and met his eyes. He looked like a fucking puppy.

I sighed. “Later.”

Taehyung grinned.

“Right now, we have to hurry, or Mr. Cockburn’s gonna decapitate us.”

His footsteps stopped abruptly. A noise similar to what it would sound like if a cat imitated a garbage disposal came out of his throat. “Mister…Cockburn ?” He gasped.

I spun around to see him a few feet behind me, stopped in his tracks. His lips were tight, eyes wide and watering - he looked like he’d just eaten a lemon.

I opened my mouth to scold him, tell him to walk on.

Instead, I gave a loud, raucous laugh.

Taehyung spit out the howl he was holding in, clinging to the wall for support. I stumbled forward, trying to grab him, but, instead, fell to my knees.

He tumbled consecutively, nearly falling on top of me. We lay on the ground, heaving and cackling, until Mrs. Petty emerged from her classroom to yell at us.

“Mr. Park! Mr. Kim!” She howled. “What in the world is so funny?!”

I rolled onto my back, trying desperately to remember how to breathe.

“Mister… Cockburn !” I weeped.

Petty groaned. “For heaven’s sake, get up!” She commanded. “Both of you!”

Taehyung struggled to his feet obediently. I, on the other hand, was unwilling to let go of this gagging fun.

Petty, as per usual, was not having it.

Stomping over with the fury of a 5’2 arthritic she-devil, Mrs. Petty raised her leg and pounded me in the waist.

Taehyung jumped back, horrified.

“Get up!” She boomed.

Finally, I yielded. I staggered to my feet, wincing and clutching my side.

“What has gotten into you?” She sneered.

I hung my head lowly, staring at my feet.

“I should tell the Headmaster to forget about reviewing your file.”

My head snapped up so quickly I could’ve gotten whiplash. “No!” I begged. “Please!”

Taehyung stared from the corner.

Mrs. Petty cocked her head, folding her arms. She tapped her foot impatiently. “You’re skipping class, Mr. Park.”

Taehyung spoke up meekly. “W-we weren’t-”

I shot him a look.

He peered back at me nervously, shutting his mouth.

“This isn’t your fault, Mr. Kim.” Mrs. Petty reassured in the least reassuring tone possible. “It is entirely Mr. Park’s responsibility.”

“But-” Taehyung stuttered.

Petty raised a hand. “Mr. Kim, please. I’m not in the business of punishing those who are innocent.”

Yeah, right .

Turning back to me, she sniffed pitifully. “I think it’s time we demote you, then, Mr. Park.”

A shiver ran down my spine.

“Level G.”

“No, it was my fault!” Taehyung insisted. Swallowing, he bowed his head. “It… it was my idea to skip class. I… I was trying to convince Jimin to join me.”

“Then why were the two of you rolling on the floor like dogs?” Petty inquired.

“I, uh… I tickled him.”

Petty blinked. “You… tickled him?”

“...Yes. He was going to tell you that I was skipping, so I… tickled him. He… tickled me back. It was self defense.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Mrs. Petty sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Fine then. Mr. Kim, since you are a first time offender, I’ll let you off easy. 1000 lines, by the end of this week. You’ll have detention at lunch for the next three days, so it should be plenty of time. Mr. Park, same for you. I appreciate your integrity, but you were incredibly disruptive with your laughter. Now, get to class.”

“Yes, ma’am.” We both obliged.

Waiting until Mrs. Petty had gone, I ran to Taehyung and swaddled him in a suffocating bear hug. “Thank you,” I whispered, squeezing my eyes shut. “Thank you, so much.”

He stood stiffly, and I worried if I was making him uncomfortable.

Hesitantly, he wrapped his arms around my waist. “Any time.”

 

~~

 

Our entrance into second period was mildly more embarrassing than that of first period.

For one, we were a solid ten minutes late.

Taehyung and I stood in the doorway quite similarly to the way we’d stood that morning.

Mr. Cockburn cleared his throat. “Gentlemen. You’re late.”

“Yes, sir.” I confirmed prudently.

He fiddled with the ends of his straight, thick moustache in what was intended to be an intimidating gesture. Instead, he looked like he needed to be sent back into the 80s.

Did you forget your shoulder pads at home, Mr. Cockburn?

He nodded briskly to Taehyung. “Who is this?”

“This is Kim Taehyung, sir. He’s a new student. I’ve been charged with showing him around.”

“Yes, and I see you’ve made a good job of it, considering you’re late , Mr. Park.” Cockburn shook his head, clucking scoldingly. He gave us a dismissive wave. “Whatever. Get to your seats.”

“Yes, sir.” I leaned to Taehyung and whispered, “Cockburn’s not that bad. He just hates when you’re late.”

Taehyung nodded slowly. “Right.”

Cockburn returned to his chalkboard. “There should be an empty seat right in the centre, Mr. Kim.”

As Taehyung walked to his desk, I made glaring eye contact with Kim Seokjin.

Well, I was glaring. He was just looking at me. It was worse that way.

“Mr. Park,” Cockburn coughed, back still turned. “Your seat, please.”

“Yes, sir.” I sniffed, moving to sit.

I broke eye contact with Seokjin to glance at Jeon Jungkook, sitting next to him.

My blood boiled.

He was staring at Taehyung!

No. I declared in my head. You are not doing that!

I clenched my jaw. I couldn’t help but think about the way those idiots were sitting. Seokjin, leaning back, legs wide, elbows resting on the back of his chair, as if he were the most powerful person in the world. Jungkook, with his head cocked, looking Taehyung up and down like a serial killer assessing his next victim.

By the time I returned to reality, Mr. Cockburn had written a blindingly complex equation spanning the entire chalkboard. My classmates stared ahead, gaping at the display.

“Who wants to solve this for the class?” Cockburn offered. “Hmm?”

Dead silence.

“Alright, how about… Mr. Park!”

I felt my jaw drop. “Uhh… I’m not sure I can solve this, sir.”

“Well, of course you can, Mr. Park! Unless, of course, you weren’t paying attention.”

“Of course I was!” I sputtered.

“You know, it’s always very important to pay attention in class. But, if you weren’t, I’d be happy to call on someone else. Perhaps Mr. Mathers? Mr. Jeon, maybe?”

I heard snickering behind me in the direction of the latter.

“No, no, no!” I chuckled nervously, rising from my seat. “I’ll, uh… I’ll solve it, Mr. Cockburn.”

“Marvellous!” He smiled, handing me the chalk. “Go ahead.”

I must’ve stood there for at least five minutes, writing and erasing until my hand was dustier than Mrs. Petty’s pores.

Finally, I came up with the answer. Standing proudly, I announced, “Eight hundred and seventy-two!”

“Hmm… not quite.” Cockburn waved me back to my seat.

I scowled at the losers at the back. Seokjin smiled back at me innocently. Jungkook tried to get his pencil to sit on his upper lip like Cockburn’s moustache.

I slumped back in my chair, feeling defeated.

I felt Taehyung tap me on the shoulder, and craned my neck to face him.

He grinned reassuringly. “You did good!” He whispered, flashing a thumbs up. “I never would’ve stood up like that.”

A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth. “Thanks,” I mouthed.

Mr. Cockburn stood proudly at the chalkboard.

“Be prepared to witness the most beautiful mathematical feat in all of mankind!” Cockburn declared. “Drumroll, please, Mr. Kim!”

“Uh, which one, sir?” Seokjin asked.

Cockburn sighed. “Either of you.”

Seokjin nodded tersely and began pattering his desk.

Mr. Cockburn spun around and wrote the answer excitedly. When he turned back to face us, I was literally the least intrigued I’d ever been.

Jungkook dropped his pencil, squinting at the board. “ Four? ” he droned. “The answer is four ?”

“Yes!” Cockburn beamed, waving his chalk inspiredly. “And here’s why!”

“Well, at least Jimin was close .” Seokjin teased, eliciting laughs from our classmates.

“Mr. Kim,” Cockburn warned.

“What?” Seokjin cooed. “Your words, sir, not mine.”

I clenched my fist in frustration.

Taehyung squeezed my shoulder with his hand. “It’s okay,” he muttered. “He’s not worth it.”

Taehyung’s hand lingered for a moment, as if he was unsure what to do next. Slowly, he pulled it away.

I glanced over at Jungkook, who, unsurprisingly, was glancing at us, too. We maintained eye contact for a couple of seconds before he sniffed, returning his gaze to the chalkboard.

I did the same.

“Alright, class, take out your textbooks and turn to page 352.” Cockburn instructed. “This next lesson’s gonna be a tough one. Mr. Park, I trust you’ll get Mr. Kim caught up accordingly?”

“Yes, sir.” I replied.

“Good,” Cockburn rummaged through the drawers of his desk. “I knew we gave you that study hall for a reason.”

 

~~~

 

Taehyung cleared his throat, shuffling his feet. I began to wonder if it was a nervous habit of his to grab his backpack straps that way.

I blinked silently up at him as he surveyed the room. He let his mouth fall open for a moment before speaking.

“So… this is detention?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Yep,” I confirmed, making my way to a desk.

“It… just looks like an empty classroom.” Taehyung observed, taking a seat beside me. Even the thump of his bag as it hit the ground sounded cautious.

“It is,” I affirmed again, reaching down and pulling out my pencil case.

I twirled a #2 between my fingers as Taehyung asked, “Where’s the teacher?”

“He’ll be here in a second,” I stuck the eraser between my teeth. “Cockburn usually stays in class to help the students who are struggling.”

“Cockburn’s our supervisor?” Taehyung cocked his head.

As if on cue, a thick moustache entered the room. Behind it, a man’s voice appeared to talk. “Sorry I’m late, boys, I had some work to attend to.”

The moustache’s legs made their way swiftly to the desk, allowing the moustache’s arms to plop their hefty cargo of books onto its surface. The legs then moved onwards to the chalkboard, as the hands deftly snatched a piece of chalk and began writing.

When he finished, Cockburn stepped aside and plopped into his desk chair. Folding his hands behind his head, he gestured to the board. “Welcome to detention, boys.”

The chalkboard read, I will not be disruptive. I will not skip class.

Taehyung nodded to the writing. “What’s that?” He asked in a hushed tone.

“Oh, we have to write that,” I whispered back. “One thousand times.”

“One… thousand times?” He groaned.

“Yup,” I sighed, settling into my chair. “Get comfy.”

Cockburn cleared his throat. “You boys got paper? Pencils?”

I stuck my #2 into the air. Taehyung did the same.

“Good,” Cockburn sniffed, clicking a pen. “Get working.”

I pulled out my notebook and flipped to an empty page. Sighing deeply, I put graphite to paper.

I will not be disruptive. I will not skip class.

I will not be disruptive. I will not skip class.

I will not be disruptive. I will not skip class.

I will not be disruptive. I will not skip class.

After about twenty minutes, a droning noise began to grow from the front of the class. It started off soft, barely noticeable. Quickly, it advanced into a great, booming snort.

Slowly, I turned my head to my left, glancing to Taehyung, who was already squinting at me for answers.

He mouthed, “Is he snoring?”

Soundlessly, I shrugged, “Yeah?”

I angled my head towards Cockburn’s desk, pursing my lips. Sure enough, there he sat, snoozing away.

At this point, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

“Oh, you’ve gotta be kidding me,” I hummed. I shook my head scoldingly, leaning back in my chair.

“Do we… keep writing?” Taehyung asked.

“Well, duh,” I muttered, scratching away at my paper. “We have detention every lunch until we’re finished writing.”

“Oh,” Taehyung murmured.

“Yeah, so get to it.”

The room was silent once more, save for Cockburn’s restful roaring.

I felt a finger tap my shoulder. Jumping, I hissed, “What?!”

Taehyung rubbed his arm nervously. “I’m sorry,” He murmured.

I blinked at him. “What?”

“I said, I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, no, I got that. For - for what?”

“For getting you detention.”

I snorted, quickly cupping my hand over my mouth. Shooting a glance at Cockburn, I found he was still comatose. I let out the breath I’d held involuntarily. “You didn’t get me into detention. Well, okay, yeah, maybe a little. But you also saved me from demotion. You really risked your ass doing that. You shouldn’t apologize.”

All he said was, “Oh.”

“Yeah.” I paused, turning back to my paper. “It got me wondering whether I’d do the same for you.”

The silence returned yet again, broken by an occasional cough or sniffle. The monotonous snoring and scuffing of our pencils were white noise. Just outside the room, a pair of high heels clacked with purpose against the hardwood floor.

After a period of time, I noticed that mine was the only pencil scratching. I looked over at Taehyung. To my alarm, he appeared to be crying.

“Taehyung?!” I whispered in dismay.

He didn’t look up. He sat, shoulders hunched, hair just barely covering his eyes. I could see he was staring into his lap, where his hands lay folded. His face was wet.

The sniffling accelerated momentarily before coming to an abrupt halt. He raised a finger to wipe at his eye. “Sorry,” he murmured, still not meeting my gaze. “I guess it just didn’t really hit me, yet, that I was… here .”

I swallowed. All I could do was stare at him.

He sniffed a couple times more. With a swallow and a clench of his jaw, Taehyung picked up his pencil and continued writing.

With a moment of hesitation, I turned back in my chair and gripped my pencil tightly in my hand. The paper before me seemed false, as if the whole scene was a Hollywood set, or a lie, boldly constructed with the purpose of making me afraid. The feeling permeated the walls of the classroom and settled over the school grounds, alleviating itself only when I found the courage to speak.

“Namjoon.” I mumbled.

“What?” Taehyung hummed, eyes remaining on his work.

“Namjoon.” I cast him a sideways glance. “The boy you were staring at in first period. His name is Namjoon.”

Now, I could tell that I had his attention. He paused, raised his eyebrows, and seemed to consider it for a moment before twisting to face me. He leaned his upper arm against the top rail of his chair and rested his chin in the palm of his hand. His face was expressionless.

“Why didn’t you want me to talk to him?” He asked nonchalantly.

I paused, taking a deep breath. “It’s a very long story, and I’ll tell you the rest of it later, but… do you remember those boys from second period, Jungkook and Seokjin?”

Taehyung nodded.

“They used to be friends of mine, along with Namjoon. We were one big friend group. Hoseok, too.”

Taehyung shifted in his chair, switching his gaze to the floor for a moment before looking back me. He traced his lower lip with his pinky, pondering. “Then what happened?”

“Then…” I chewed the inside of my cheek, taking another deep breath. “Well, it’s not really my story to tell, if I’m honest. Maybe it is. I dunno.” I shrugged. “We had a bit of a… falling out, I guess you could call it. There was an argument.”

Taehyung hummed. “So it’s them three now, and you and Hoseok?”

I sighed. “Yeah. Them three, and… me and Hoseok.”

Taehyung sat up straight again, fiddling with his thumbs. “Are they bad guys?”

I took a moment before shaking my head. “...No. They aren’t bad. They just do bad things.”

“Bad news?”

“Bad news.”

I jumped in my seat at the sound of the bell. Had an hour gone by already?

Mr. Cockburn snorted and snuffled and startled awake. He blinked at us groggily, as if trying to remember who we were. “Right. Boys.” He scratched at his moustache absently. “Fourth period. Get to class.”

“Yes, sir.”

Taehyung and I packed our things, exchanged a glance, and left.