“Mrs. Min, hello, I’m glad I could catch you…...Yes, in fact, this is about him…...Mrs. Min, understand, I’m sorry but this kind of behavior isn’t tolerated, not at an institution like Hyun Lee…...Yes ma’am, I understand. The war has...well, affected everyone in some way or another…...Yes, I understand that his situation is a bit different but that still doesn’t excuse his behavior. We can’t have students react so...aggressively to something as simple as a question…...No ma’am, it was not provocative, she was only asking for attendance…...Yes ma’am, I’ll let him know ma’am, he’ll be waiting in my office for you.”
“So, what do you think?”
“You must pay your photographer well cause this place looks like shit compared to the pamphlet.”
Kim Namjoon laughs at that, a deep kind sound.
“Can always count on you to point out the good things in life.”
Min Yoongi grins, shouldering his bag “What can I say, I’m a glass half full kinda guy.”
Namjoon laughs even harder at that “You’re a fill up my glass or I’ll shoot you kind of guy.”
“Hey, now I don’t appreciate that. That’s what we call a stereotype, I’m sure you’ve come across the word, what with your degree and all.” Namjoon rolls his eyes “--Oh wait, you don’t have a degree, you dropped out. How could I have forgotten.”
The two turn to each other, all smiles, and Namjoon pulls Yoongi into a hug “It’s good to have you back.”
“It’s good to be back.” and Yoongi’s only partly lying.
When they part Namjoon sighs and gestures to the large cement building “So this is the inmate’s quarters, where they get their medications, play games, and sleep. The whole shebang.”
Across the top of the cement building there are black block letters reading GWANGJU REHABILITATION AND REENTRY.
“And this,” he turns and then points at a relatively small red brick building “is the dorm for the on sight medical and security staff. Which is you,” he pauses “and me. And an old man named Dongwoo but let’s not talk about him. I think he’s on his way out, anyway.”
“Oh? He’s retiring?”
“No, he’s just in his nineties.”
Yoongi can’t help but laugh.
“Ah, home sweet home.”
“Hey, this ain’t no bed and breakfast, Min. This is your job.” Namjoon says with mock severeness.
“God, don’t remind me. Let me be delusional for a few minutes.” Yoongi says, shutting his eyes dramatically.
“A delusional psychologist, how ironic.”
“Maybe not as ironic as you think.” Yoongi says, one eye wrenched open to greet Namjoon.
Namjoon rolls his eyes “Y’know actually the inmates set up a little drama troupe that you’d be perfect for.”
Yoongi laughs as he shoulders his bags “Maybe that’ll be the way I get them to trust me. Y’know a rehabilitation psychologist is useless without trust.”
Namjoon shrugs and grabs the small box containing the few possessions that Yoongi owns.
“Well I can’t say anything for a fancy doctor like you, but, as head of security, that’s how I got them to trust me.” he says with a wink that makes Yoongi laugh.
The two lock up the car and make their way to the small living quarters. Yoongi doesn’t know what it is, maybe it has something to do with the cement building or the familiar heavy weight of the army surplus bag on his back, but the whole situation feels a lot like the first time he ever entered a base. But this is not a base and, frankly, Yoongi has nothing to complain about.
Yoongi has one thing to complain about: the inmates. Now Yoongi is aware that the inmates are his patients and that his patients are his entire purpose but Yoongi had really underestimated the difficulty they would pose. Soldiers give everything to you point blank, there’s no time to waste and there’s something about war that encourages people to open up. Inmates, on the other hand, have every reason to keep quiet; they’ve not only got the nation against them but even the dorm buddies they sleep next to want them gone.
Yoongi tips back in his chair, the rickety front legs just hovering over the floor, before letting them drop with a resounding click as the next patient is brought through the door. As per usual, he’s clad in the electric blue button prison uniform, the numbers 7148 printed across his left chest. It reminds Yoongi of his own uniform, except the thick threaded hangul reading Min is replaced with a number.
It’s interesting, how similar yet drastically different the two are.
Yoongi waits until the younger man is seated, until the guards have left and shut the door behind them, before he begins. He pulls out a pack of smokes and flicks his lighter on, gaze leaving the patient as he lights a stick.
“Did you wait till I was in here to do that.” there’s no question to it but there is a thick accent that Yoongi vaguely recognizes. Daegu dialect but a little more country than he’s used to.
“Did you like living on a farm.” he responds, the same tone.
The patient blinks for a moment “It was alright.” a pause “A lot better than here.”
Yoongi finally gets a good look at the patient as he leans onto the table slightly, letting the cigarette burn in his left hand. He’s tall, taller than Yoongi that’s for sure, with a deep tan that’s probably come from working in the yard outside. His hair is shaggy, waves curling around his ears, and sat in the middle of his tan face is an impeccably straight nose. He’s attractive, all right, but that doesn’t really catch Yoongi’s attention, what does is the set of eyes staring unwaveringly at him; they’re almost...cloudy. Well, they’re brown by all objective means but Yoongi thinks that if the patient were described in a book or if an artist were to paint his portrait there’d be a unanimous agreement that they’re --
“Why do you keep writing the word cloudy into the desk?”
Yoongi feels a slight jolt and finishes writing out cloudy because he has to before pulling his hand into his lap with a sniff.
There’s a pause before Yoongi stands and walks to the window “That’s interesting, you can read my handwriting upside.” he turns to face Taehyung “Well, handwriting that’s not actually handwriting. My not handwriting handwriting.”
“Air writing.” the patient supplies and Yoongi can’t help but glance at him because, yes, that’s exactly what it is “Why aren’t you smoking your cig?”
Yoongi chooses to ignore this “What’s your name?”
“You have my file.” he responds not even a beat later, as if he was expecting the question.
Yoongi sighs and snuffs the cigarette out in the ashtray on his desk before sitting down.
“I find that a little weird. It’s no way to start a relationship; me knowing everything about you and you knowing nothing about me.”
The patient scoffs “I know that you’re military. I know that you don’t actually smoke but, I’m guessing, use it as clout with the inmates. And I know that you’ve got little tics. Echolalia? Oh, and I have a very strong suspicion that you watch too many Robin Williams movies.”
There’s a pause.
“My name’s Kim Taehyung.”
Yoongi sniffs again before drawing in a closed tooth breath “Alright, you got me, Captain Min of the the 71st Surgical Hospital Unit at your service. And you’re right I don’t smoke,” he says pulling the pack of smokes from his pocket to toss them on the table “And I’ve got a plethora of tics. Not echolalia, though. As for the movies, well...I have a strong suspicion you read too much Sherlock Holmes.”
Taehyung laughs at this, a deep yet naive sound. It shocks Yoongi, really, he just sounds like a kid. What’s a kid doing in prison?
“71st, huh, kinda like this old thing.” he says, gesturing to the prison ID 7148 on his uniform.
Yoongi momentarily raises his eyebrows at this as if to say: I suppose one could make that connection but, really, Yoongi feels his earlier notion of this place is too familiar to be strengthened.
“What’re you doing in prison?”
“Why do you write words into your desk?”
Yoongi blinks and nearly laughs “Sorry, I didn’t realize you were the therapist here.”
“Sorry, I didn’t realize you cared about that dynamic.” he says with the same drip of sarcasm “What happened to: it feels a little off, Tae, we can’t grow a loving relationship if I follow the military medical doctrine ingrained into my poor obsessive compulsive brain. ”
There’s another pause.
“Did I get it right this time? OCD?”
“Do you go by Tae?”
“Is that why they discharged you?”
Yoongi freezes at this, feels his body slightly numb as something jerks in his stomach. When he glances up he sees Taehyung looking by all means and purposes unaffected by the situation but a closer glance at those eyes, those cloudy eyes, he looks...excited. Like he gets off to outsmarting others.
“Time’s up.” Yoongi mutters and he doesn’t know why he says it because he knows time’s not up.
Across his thigh he writes time, time, time and makes the t’s curl a little at the end.
“Yowza, I didn’t think that’d strike such a chord.” Taehyung responds, giving no indication of moving “C’mon Doc, we’ve still got fifteen minutes.”
Yoongi takes a breath “What’re you in here for?”
Taehyung’s gaze falls with a swallow “I don’t wanna talk about it.”
Yoongi gives a humorless laugh “You don’t get to do that, not after you’ve dissected me in my own office.”
Taehyung’s lips quirk at this “That’s funny, you still talk like an army doctor.” Yoongi eyes flutter shut with a sigh, Taehyung’s quiet “ Dissected...cute. ” mumbling in the background.
Yoongi went to school, Yoongi got his doctorate for Christ’s sake, to handle people just like Kim Taehyung. Their whole tactic is: deflect, deflect, humor, deflect. This really shouldn’t phase Yoongi, he shouldn’t phase Yoongi. But, then again, that was before, well, the war. The war that they shouldn’t have even been in cause Korea had no business in that part of Vietnam; no foreign force did, really. And most of all he shouldn’t have been there, him with his sweet face and sweeter lips, he wasn’t meant for battle, he wasn’t meant to--
“Why do you keep mentioning that?” Yoongi asks just to say something, just to ground himself a little bit.
He’s still got his eyes shut so he can’t see Taehyung but he can imagine that that excitement, that weird cloudy excitement, is still pooling in his eyes.
“Farm life was pretty quiet.”
Yoongi pauses at this before slowly opening his eyes. Taehyung’s sat as he was earlier but Yoongi was wrong, he doesn’t look as excited as he looks...well, curious, more than anything.
“Tell me about it.”
“Farm life was quiet. You had your routine: school, chores, sleep. It was a mix of luxury and survival because on one hand you were free of the social plagues found in the city. No political disrupt, there was an emphasis on tradition, relatively low suicide rates. But on the other hand you were doing hard labor every day, living meal to meal, and this left you very isolated. There was no time to visit Sunjin down the road when you were low on firewood, there was no time to go to baseball practice when you had to make dinner for your siblings cause your dad was out on...Well, whatever, it was quiet. Suffocatingly quiet.”
“You father, tell me more about him.”
Taehyung licks his lips and scans Yoongi’s face “How old are you?”
“Twenty-eight. How old are you?”
“Twenty-five. Are you married?”
“Have you ever been in love?”
Taehyung blinks at this, like he doesn’t believe it.
“Y’know lying is no way to build a relationship.”
Yoongi sighs “Fine, yes.”
“What happened to her?” he pauses and, when Yoongi doesn’t respond, Taehyung’s lip curls up “Him?” Yoongi blinks at this “Okay, him, what happened to him?”
“How bout this, you tell me about your father I’ll tell you about him.”
Taehyung bounces slightly in his seat “I’m down.” he smiles “My dad was a single parent. My family left my mom when I was four because she had some drug issues and had been embezzling money from the family fund to fuel her addiction, so my dad figured it was Time To Leave. He worked a lot because I had three little brothers so he was almost never home. Sad right? Absent mother, absent father. The last psychiatrist told me that’s why I have trouble making emotional connections.”
There’s a pause.
Yoongi holds Taehyung’s gaze for a few moments before glancing away “In war they have something called battle buddies. Kind of the you look out for me, I’ll look out for you mentality. Mine was,” Yoongi sighs “was just a damn kid. Just barely legal to drink, y’know.” he says with a small smile “But he was so full of energy and enthusiasm, of, of life . Until he wasn’t. It was the night before we were set to raid a small village in North Vietnam. Run of the mill gang rebellion but it still need to be quelled, y’know. He was in my bunk. It was a thing we did because back home he always slept with his little brother and I wanted to give him any sense of safety that I could cause that’s just so hard to find out there.” Yoongi doesn’t know why he’s telling Taehyung this, why he’s going this deep “I remember he…” turned over and stared into my eyes, breathed across my lips, and begged me to kiss him, to touch him, because that’s how you get in battle. You get so wound up and you need some sort of release and-- “he told me that the war was getting to him,” You drive me crazy hyung, you drive me so fucking crazy “and he made me promise to protect him.” H-hyung, he stuttered, biting my lips and grinding down as he straddled my thigh, don’t let go. And I didn’t, I grabbed his hips and pulled him closer. For once in that godforsaken place, we felt at home. “He died the next day. MK-19 rickashay.”
There’s a moment of silence.
Taehyung clicks his tongue but stands “Seeya Doc.” he mutters, face void of any of the pleasure Yoongi’d witnessed earlier.
Yoongi presses a little button that buzzes the guards in and Taehyung is wordlessly taken away.
There was a definite contrast between Taehyung and the inmates he’d spoken to earlier. The others were guarded because there was almost a sense of betrayal, that their state betrayed them and that’s how they ended up in prison but with Taehyung, there was just...resignation. It reminded Yoongi of an Artistotlean teaching in which man should recognize that if he breaks the law, regardless of whether the law was unjust itself, he should accept punishment because he committed the crime with full knowledge of the consequences. This was taught primarily because the Roman justice system and its laws were not morally sound but Aristotle also understood the importance of government and the power it needs to hold for it to run properly. He basically said Yeah, go protest or something and then, y’know what? Go to jail for it to really show them you mean business. Make ‘em think you’re one scary motherfucker.
This all intrigues Yoongi, perhaps Taehyung is social renegade? That he’s done something for the greater good of Korea and is now serving time because the government isn’t ready to accept changes. Hell, it’s nineteen seventy four, Korea just took its troops out of South Vietnam, of course the government isn’t ready to do jack.
Yoongi decides that it’s okay to look at his folder this once, Taehyung even asked him to. So he flips open the weighty manilla folder and finds--
Bruises, pages and pages of just bruises. Bruises on shoulders, bruises on ribs, bruises on backs. Yoongi flips through quicker, the purple-blue blurring his vision just trying to find a page that isn’t bruised. When he finally settles on the last page there’s a mugshot of Taehyung with a bruised eye.
Yoongi immediately feels a pair of arms wrap around his waist and is overcome with the smell of oranges. Hoseok had always smelt like oranges.
“God it’s been so long,” Hoseok says, pulling back from Yoongi just enough to see his face. He keeps a strong grip on Yoongi’s hips “You look good,” he pauses with a small smile as he looks across Yoongi’s features “you look really good.”
“It’s only been a year.” Yoongi says, laughing and pulling away to close the door behind Hoseok.
“A civilian year, those drag on.”
Yoongi hums at this; it’s true, a year at war can feel like a month and a year in civilization can feel like a lifetime.
“How’s the squadron?”
Hoseok shrugs, taking a seat on Yoongi’s couch. He’s always been like that, one to make himself at home regardless of where he was. Yoongi supposes that’s how he’s been able to stay so positive despite it all.
“Everything’s pretty much the same. Jimin got more annoying.” they both laugh at this as Yoongi grabs two beers and pops their caps off “I think you had some mind control over him.”
Yoongi smiles and passes a beer to Hoseok “I think you’re just too lenient with him. What’re you now, a Major?”
Hoseok’s eyebrows dart up as he takes a long drink from his beer. Yoongi takes that as a yes.
“Major Jung. Has a nice ring to it.” he sits on the couch and faces Hoseok, propping his head on an arm leaned against the back of the couch.
They momentarily stare at each other, Hoseok licking the tangy beer off the insides of his mouth and Yoongi taking his first sip.
“Why’d you invite me over.”
Yoongi snorts at this “What, we get shot at together but suddenly it’s weird if I wanna invite you over?”
Hoseok shrugs “After a year of virtually no contact, yeah, it kinda is.”
Yoongi sighs “I needed space. I was discharged, it wasn’t like I wanted to leave. I needed time and frankly I was embarrassed.”
There’s another pause where they both take a sip of their beers.
Hoseok lets his gaze fall and faintly smiles “Remember when you almost got hypothermia.”
Yoongi lets out a small laugh “Yeah, you held me all night until I was back at a normal temp.”
“And you know why I did that?”
Yoongi sniffs noncommittally “I’d die otherwise.”
“Yeah, and I didn’t want you to die. Y’know why? Because I care about you.” Yoongi watches Hoseok over his bottle as he takes another sip “I’m not gonna be upset because you cut us off but I will get upset if you keep doing it. And then I’ll egg your house. And your car.”
“Huh,” he lets out a little laugh “deal.” Yoongi mumbles, finishing off his beer. How quickly did he drink that? He doesn’t have time to ponder it for long before Hoseok is scooting closer.
“Yknow, we really missed you. I really missed you.”
Yoongi sets his bottle down and so does Hoseok, which, he notices, is also empty.
“I missed you too.” Yoongi almost whispers.
Hoseok looks down with a shy laugh and places a hand on Yoongi’s knee, on the leg closest to his own.
“I really thought you hated us.” which Yoongi knows means I really thought you hated me.
“I think I just really hated myself.”
Hoseok looks up at that and Yoongi knows, Yoongi just knows what the question on his tongue is. About whom the question is. So Yoongi beats him to it.
“Hobi, I want you to kiss me.”
Hoseok freezes, his brows knitting together “Yoongi--”
“I know you like me.” Yoongi says softly and Hoseok glances away, cheeks reddening “Hobi, please .”
Hoseok looks up like he’s unsure but Yoongi knows he’ll give in.
“ Please. ”
“Okay, okay.” he whispers before hesitantly leaning forward and pressing his lips into Yoongi’s.
Hoseok tastes like beer and mint and Yoongi sighs into the kiss, pressing forward harder. Hoseok reacts well, bringing a hand up to curl around the side of Yoongi’s neck, matching his pace and intensity.
“ Yoongi. ” Hoseok groans into the kiss.
Yoongi hums in response, fingers going to play at the hem of Hoseok’s shirt, gasping when Yoongi’s cool fingers slide up the bare skin of his sides.
“You don’t,” he stutters when Yoongi moves to kiss at his jaw and neck “don’t know how long I’ve wanted this.”
But Yoongi does and, if he’s being honest, that’s why he invited him over. Yoongi knows Hoseok’s gone for him. Maybe this makes Yoongi a bad person, Yoongi doesn’t know, his sense of morality was numbed after everything that happened.
Yoongi latches on to Hoseok’s neck and feels a swoop of arousal in his gut at the moans it elicits.
“How's that one Elvis song go? A Boy Like Me, a Girl Like You?”
Hoseok lets out an airy laugh “You did not just call me a girl.”
Yoongi pulls back, hands tangled in the back of Hoseok’s hair “And what if I did?”
Hoseok gazes at Yoongi, pupils blown and lips wet “Why are you doing this?” he whispers.
Yoongi glances away and swallows but can’t bring himself to say anything.
Hoseok leans forward and captures Yoongi’s lips in a slow, soft kiss before pulling back.
“You can’t just ignore him. You can’t try to forget him by occupying yourself with another warm body.”
And that , that stings, because it’s true and Yoongi knows it must hurt Hoseok.
“It’s, it’s not that.” Yoongi finds himself stumbling out.
“Then what is it?”
Yoongi lets his gaze travel across Hoseok’s face. Hoseok had always had a soft spot for Yoongi, right from the moment that they had met at the detachment. Yoongi never said anything but it would’ve been hard to not notice the way Hoseok watched him when he thought he couldn’t see him, or the way Hoseok always made sure Yoongi’s canteen was full of water, or how Hoseok always volunteered for a mission he thought Yoongi would be on.
“You were always there. And that, that night...”
And it’s Hoseok’s turn to glance away. The night after the Vietnam mission Hoseok had shown up at Yoongi’s bunk, red eyed and drunk. He confessed right then and there but Yoongi couldn’t take it. It’s that Busan boy isn’t it. Yoongi didn’t say anything but that was enough confirmation.
“That night was a mistake, I was drunk.”
“But, but, ” Yoongi chases, settling forward as Hoseok goes to grab at Yoongi’s hands behind his head “what if it wasn’t.”
Yoongi doesn’t know why he’s doing this, why he’s going so far, why he’s so desperate .
Hoseok pauses and a look of genuine sadness crosses his features “ God, I wish it wasn’t.” he whispers.
“Then please,” Yoongi can’t imagine how needy he looks “please, just kiss me.”
And so Hoseok does. Yoongi doesn’t know if it’s because he was moved by Yoongi outburst or if he frankly is just tired of pining, but Hoseok kisses him more fervently than he’d expected.
“Hobi, I,” Yoongi mutters in between kisses, leaning back on the couch and letting Hoseok straddle him “I want you.”
“Are you sure?” he asks, moving down to suck at Yoongi’s neck.
And so the scene unfolds in a way familiar to Yoongi. Hoseok rolls his hips down, the friction between the two sending waves of tingling pleasure throughout his lower stomach. Their lips are desperately clinging to each other and Yoongi is pretty sure Hoseok is whispering things about how pretty he is or how much he’s wanted this. But Yoongi’s having a hard time hearing him, in fact he’s having a hard time hearing anything. A quiet ringing that’d been nagging at the back of Yoongi’s head is suddenly growing and before long the room is shifting. Like he’s got vertigo except he’s lying down. He opens his eyes to get a grip and that’s when he sees it: that nose, those eyes.
He jerks back and doesn’t realize his hands are on Hoseok’s shoulders until Hoseok is pulling up and--
“Yoongi, are you, are you crying?”
Yoongi blinks and Yeah, yeah, I guess I am.
“ Oh Yoongi. ” he hears Hoseok mutter and then he feels Hoseok’s body wrapped around his.
And that’s when Yoongi lets out a choked sob. The weird thing is that he doesn't even feel like he’s crying. It’s like he’s watching himself being held by Hoseok and that body, that skinny lifeless body, that’s who’s actually crying.
“It’s him isn’t it.”
Yoongi nods into Hoseok’s shoulder.
“You’ve been working here for three months and you mean to tell me you still haven’t seen Dongwoo.”
“It’s not my fault he’s an elusive little maintenance man, Joon. Actually, scratch that, I’m willing to bet he hasn’t even left his room since I’ve gotten here.”
“Cause he’s dead.”
“Correctomundo. Decayed limbs and everything, probably no difference between him and the chair he gave out in.”
“God, you’re morbid, y’know?”
Yoongi and Namjoon take a seat in the large cafeteria that the staff and inmates share. It’s plain with subdued blue walls and light wood flooring, but it’s large and functional. Kind of like a pediatric waiting room for giants.
“The patients seem to like it.”
Namjoon raises his brows “Your morbidity?” he asks around his fries.
“That’s a first.”
Yoongi sucks in a breath then licks around his teeth “Doesn’t change much. Still the most closed off sons a bitches I’ve ever known.”
He lazily glances at the tables behind Namjoon, who’s sat across from him, gaze momentarily stopping over each face. Junha, the elderly baker who beat the man who raped his daughter; Kitae, the nineteen year old kleptomaniac who pickpocketed the wrong person at the wrong time. And then perhaps the most intriguing patient he’s come across: Taehyung, the kid who murdered his abusive father.
“The inmates are always like that. At first, at least.”
“Why do you call them inmates, this is a rehabilitation center, not a prison.”
Namjoon wipes his lips “What’d you rather call them?”
Namjoon’s gaze falls to his plate and his lips stretch into a smile “War changed you, Yoons.”
“Yeah? And what about it.” Yoongi can feel himself getting defensive but he can’t help it.
War is a fickle thing. It’s for one, not a thing. Yes, in the grammatical sense that war is a noun and, as such, dictionarilly-certified as a person, place or thing, is neatly compartmentalised under thing, but, frankly, in the experience of Yoongi and everyone who’s ever been enthralled in a war, knows that arbitrary grammatical functions don’t cut it. But it is safe to say that living through a war is like giving a controllable piece of yourself to everyone. Controllable because everyone has the ability to get a rise out of you with just the mere mentioning of it.
“Nothing bad, don’t worry,” Namjoon reassures, feeling the tension thicken “You’re just...different. I like it though.”
Yoongi doesn’t respond, just continues to glance around the cafeteria as he half heartedly eats his meal. He glances until he reaches Taehyung again but quickly pulls his eyes away when he finds that Taehyung has ceased eating, choosing to watch him instead.
“Joon, have you ever been in love?”
Yoongi doesn’t know why he’s asking this but he does anyway, gaze fixated on the pasta in front of him.
Namjoon sighs through his nose “Yeah, loads of times. You know me, I’m a hopeless romantic.”
“So you don’t think love is an exclusive emotion.”
“Like you can only truly love one person throughout your entire life? Nah.” Namjoon’s lips scrunch slightly as his eyes trail up in thought “I mean, okay, maybe yes you can, if you’re extremely lucky and find someone you love forever who loves you back before you’ve ever been able to experience the emotion before. But, if you’re normal, you’re going to fall in and out of love countless times.”
Yoongi grunts “Doesn’t sound like the musings of a romantic to me.”
Namjoon lets out a short breathy laugh “Well, tell me this: how many times have you been angry?”
Yoongi shrugs “Ever? Countless times.”
“And what is anger?”
Yoongi pauses and then nods “Okay, yeah, I get it. Anger is an emotion and so is love so functionally they must work the same.”
Namjoon points his index finger at him around his Cola can “Precisely. Humans are just the ones who’ve created a culture around this emotion.”
Yoongi pauses, makes a move to speak, thinks better of it, then makes a move to speak again, “What if something happens in response to an emotion. Y’know like, with conditioning, if you teach a rat that picking red gets it shocked it’ll eventually choose green, do you think that works the same way with love?”
“I’m not sure what you’re getting at.”
“Do you think someone can be conditioned to respond to love in a specific way?”
“Well, studies show that glucose levels increase in domestic abuse victims when exposed to yelling or loud-”
“That’s not what I’m asking, Joon,” Yoongi interjects frustradely “I don’t give a shit about what goes on in the bloodstreams of domestic victims.” he looks up at Namjoon and sees something click in his eyes.
“Oh.” he’s quiet for a moment “I think...love is over thought. As much as I try to quantify it, it just can’t be. It happens when it happens and how we respond to it will be different every time. And just because something happens,” he pauses to make sure he can catch Yoongi’s eye “to us or, or to the one we love, doesn’t make any difference in a person’s capacity to love. You lose a loved one, not the ability to love itself.”
There’s silence in which Yoongi can hear his own heartbeat.
“Fun fact, did you know that there’re theories arguing that we’re just socially indoctrinated to enjoy things like kissing.”
Yoongi lets out a relieved laugh as the tension leaves his body “Okay now you just sound like a frustrated virgin.” he replies, throwing a few fries in Namjoon’s direction.
“I was seven the first time my dad hit me.” Taehyung glances down and Yoongi can see him lick over his teeth through a closed mouth “Sometimes I wish he had started earlier because everyone says seven is the age of reason, when you’ve been exposed to society long enough to determine what is right and wrong. I knew what he was doing was wrong and that just made things so much worse. Maybe if I had been four I would have grown up thinking it was okay and a burden would have been lifted.”
Yoongi and Taehyung are in Yoongi’s office like they normally are except this time they’ve pushed the two chairs up to the open window, facing out to look onto the semi green, semi dead lawn. Taehyung had asked for this, said watching the wind calmed him.
“But you don’t envy your brothers do you? You aren’t glad that they were beat when they were four were you?”
Taehyung lets out a short humorless laugh “No, I don’t envy them. But then again they weren’t beaten. I don’t know, though, I think having to live knowing someone you love is being hurt is a whole other kind of torture.”
Yoongi unwillingly thinks back to Jungkook. He can’t help it, intrusive thoughts are a side effect of war. He remembers the first time Jungkook got hurt. It was totally innocent, he was just hiking.
“Kook-ah you need to be more careful.”
But of course Jungkook just regarded Yoongi with the carefree mischievous smile unique to only him “What, are you worried about me, hyung?”
Yoongi glanced up from Jungkook’s bloody knee “You wish, Jeon.”
Jungkook pouted “Aw, what happened to Kook-ah.”
“Maybe I’ll call you Kook-ah when you stop getting hurt.”
“This is the army, hyung, it’s kind of part of the deal.”
Yoongi rolled his eyes, standing up from where he was bandaging the younger’s knee “There’s a difference between getting shot and breaking your leg because you decided to hike in flip flops.”
“I didn’t break my leg.”
“Semantics, now go clean up the tools you got bloody.”
“You’re thinking about him, aren’t you.”
Yoongi sighs a deep sigh, the kind you can really feel in your chest “When am I not.” he mumbles.
Taehyung shifts his chair at that, so that he’s facing Yoongi “Let me take your mind off him.”
Yoongi turns his head to look at Taehyung and glances up and down at his apparent excitement “What'd ya have in mind?”
“I don’t show many people this place, y’know.”
Yoongi looks up and, well, around.
Taehyung’s brought him to --”What is this place, Tae?”
Yoongi doesn’t see it but Taehyung faintly smiles at the nickname “Layman’s terms or Taehyung’s terms?”
Yoongi glances back at Taehyung with a small laugh before returning to his gawking. Yoongi’s learned that this is just typical Taehyung. In the first months of knowing him he’d assumed this was a character developed to help buffer the real Taehyung from reality, a coping mechanism of sorts. Turns out this is just the kind of person Taehyung grew into after the prison system taught him to stop caring about what others thought of his behavior.
“Well it’s most certainly a tree.”
Yoongi laughs because this much is obvious. It’s more so everything underneath the tree that intrigues Yoongi: the light pink flowers that compliment the rich green of the leaves, the lights strung throughout the branches, the golden glints of delicate wire sculptures spread throughout, all under the overhang of a tree that reaches the ground in a nearly full circle to encapsulate the area in a coziness that immediately eases Yoongi.
“But I’m certain it’s also magical.”
“What, too jaded to believe in magic?” Taehyung asks playfully, sitting down in the ever so green grass, careful not to crush the flowers.
He leans over and picks up one of the wire sculptures, this one’s of a rabbit.
Yoongi sits down across from Taehyung and studies the creation. It’s objectively a bunch of overlapping lines and shapes but somehow it’s unmistakably a rabbit.
“Do you make these?”
Taehyung nods “Yeah, was actually how I got into the rehabilitation program. They said it changed me.”
Yoongi breathes a short laugh “Sounds like me. Apparently I changed and suddenly I’m here.”
“From the war?”
“Do you miss it?”
This makes Yoongi pause for a moment. Does he miss it?
“I miss the people. Had some good buddies, Hoseok, Jimin...You would’ve liked Jimin. Him and I were cadets together at university and commissioned to the same branch. We thought it was fate or something. Haven’t spoken to him in probably a year and a half.”
Taehyung sets the sculpture down and looks at Yoongi “Why not?”
Yoongi sniffs more to give his face something to do under the intense gaze of Taehyung than anything “Don’t really know. I’m scared I guess.”
Taehyung nods “I know what you mean. I’m scared too. I haven’t spoken to my brothers in,” Taehyung pauses and it’s obvious he’s doing mental math “wow, five years.”
“Really? That’s surprising, from what I’ve gleaned y’all were on good terms. Real good terms.”
Taehyung smiles “You’ve gleaned correctly, Doc, I guess that’s why I’m so scared to talk to them. They only knew me as angry Taehyung. The one who used to push kids at school and steal from the old man’s shop on our street. They loved me because they knew what was going on but that doesn’t erase what I’ve done. I guess you could say I’m ashamed.”
They’re content in each other’s silences for a moment as Yoongi studies the dozens of golden sculptures.
“I bet, no, I know, they’re proud of you.” Yoongi says, picking up the rabbit sculpture “Look what that bully did, what that good for nothing punk whose daddy beat him made,” he holds the sculpture up and the twinkling lights in the branches reflect off it and Taehyung was right, “It’s magic.”
“Joon, I’ve got an idea.”
“If this is another plan to lure Dongwoo out, I told you last-”
“No, no, listen to this, I think it’s a good one.” Yoongi says hurriedly, sliding into Namjoon's tiny office.
It’s right at the front of the main building and is about the size of a small bathroom with little open gaps where barred windows used to be. Namjoon took the bars out because he found them contradictory to the message the rehabilitation center put forth.
“Alright, I'm all ears.” he says with a smile, aware of the excitement practically buzzing off Yoongi.
“Let’s hold an art show.”
Namjoon's eyebrows furrow “An,” but then his eyes open in positive contemplation “ art show . Okay wait I think I can get on board with this.”
He immediately turns and flips through a tattered book on his desk, searching for something. “Ah, perfect! Check this out,” he points at a small square representing June twenty forth. Inside the box typed letters read REGIONAL INSPECTION .
“Regional inspection, what’s that? Some kinda government thing?”
Namjoon spins excitedly in his wheely chair to face Yoongi “Kinda, it’s the reentry evaluation date. Some Gwangju officials come and evaluate the patients expected to be released this year. It’s the perfect time to hold an art show! It gives everyone about a month to come up with some pieces and it would look great for the officials.”
A genuine smile grows on Yoongi’s face “I think we’ve got something here. Do you have a list of the patients expected to be released this year? It might be good if I personally mentioned this to them in our next session since it’s most pertinent for their release.”
“Uh,” Namjoon mumbles to himself, turning back around and rifling through some papers “Yeah, here.” he says, pulling a few stapled sheets from underneath a stack of folders.
Yoongi glances through the names, looking for a specific one. His smiles stretches farther.
KIM TAEHYUNG REENTRY EVALUATION 1974 JUNE 24 13:00
“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there's the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil”
When Namjoon had mentioned that he was in the center’s drama troupe, he wasn’t joking. He’s not only in the troupe but plays just about every side character. Something about there not being enough members and Namjoon wanting to give the patients the starring roles.
“I’m helping them, Yoons.”
Yeah right, Yoongi thought. Namjoon had always had a flare for the dramatic. Taehyung’s, unsurprisingly, also on stage.
“So wait you’re telling me you recruited Joon for the drama troupe.”
“Oh no, I just started the troupe, Doc. He found his own way to us. Weird one, that guy is.”
Taehyung’s not an Oscar level Hamlet but he’s also not particularly bad, one could say the best on stage but Yoongi thinks Namjoon’s Ophelia might give him a run for his money.
After the play’s over, Yoongi can’t suppress his laugh when he finds Namjoon backstage, covered in makeup and dolled up in a period style dress.
“Excuse me, sorry, I’m looking for my friend Kim Namjoon. Have you seen him? Yea high, ugly motherfucker with big lips and ears?”
Namjoon scowls at him “Ha, ha. Very funny. I’ll have you know your jokes are rooted in internalised sexism. Just say you think I’m hot and go.”
This makes Yoongi laugh even harder and through his squinted eyes he can make out Namjoon’s smile.
“Doc!” Yoongi stops mid laughter and turns to see Taehyung excitedly jogging to him.
Upon closer inspection he’s wearing black velvet pantaloons, a lace up white shirt, and his face is…
Taehyung smiles and Yoongi feels his stomach lurch. Yoongi knew that Taehyung was a generally attractive guy but, made up like this, Yoongi can’t believe he’s not in the presence of a model.
Taehyung’s smile slowly fades when he notices Yoongi’s stillness “Wait, what. Is something up? Don’t tell me I actually stabbed Polonius.” he says, quickly looking to Namjoon.
Namjoon shakes his head, faintly smiling at Yoongi “Nah, nothing bad happened. Speaking of Polonius, I need to go help him get outta his corset. Come catch me later, Yoons.” he says before turning with a wave to leave.
“Yoons?” Taehyung says, turning back to Yoongi who, at this point, has recovered from whatever temporary shock had overcome him “Is that your nickname?”
Yoongi gives a short breathy laugh, hand coming up to absentmindedly scratch his ear “Yeah, Joon’s been calling me that since we were young. Bastard.”
Taehyung tilts his head at this and Yoongi glances across his features, at the way the light bounces off of them “How long have you known Officer Kim?”
Yoongi smiles at the title “Well, way before anyone called him Officer,” he glances over his shoulder and sees Namjoon struggle to pull a particularly pudgy man out of a tight corset “We were neighbors. Practically born together. He’s still the same though, always had a righteousness to him. He was the kid who asked the teacher about her day and actually cared, who gave his money to the grade schoolers so they could get candy in the summer. Genius, too, got everything just like that.” he says with a nostalgic look, remembering how Namjoon would tirelessly stay up to help Yoongi with his geometry or eighteenth century reading “But his family was dirt poor so he never got past high school. When I joined the military I told him to come with me ‘cause they pay for things like that but, like I said, he’s righteous, and stubborn as hell. He didn’t believe in the war so wouldn’t fight in it.”
“But you believed in the war?”
“I believed in my dad.”
“Your dad?” Taehyung prompts, sitting on a worn couch placed behind the stage for the actors during rehearsals. Yoongi follows him.
“Yeah, he died in the Korean War. I was eight or something and it made a huge impact. I think I’ve blocked most of it out but my mom said I started causing trouble at school and was lashing out to teachers. Lost most of my friends ‘cause no one wanted to talk to the kid whose dad died or, they were, most likely, grieving lost ones themselves. Namjoon stayed with me, though. His dad wasn’t drafted ‘cause he’d lost a hand in a mulching accident. I calmed down but not without some weird desire to carry out his legacy. Bullshit stuff only an angry boy could think up.”
“I remember the draft. My dad wasn’t put through because they found liver damage. They predicted he wouldn’t live long enough to see battle. They were wrong though.”
They sit quietly, lost in their respective memories, until a grinning Namjoon rushes over, corset in hand.
“Sweets to the sweet, am I right?”
Staring at a blank sheet, Yoongi can’t, for the life of him, think of what to write. What do you say to someone you used to share a bowl with every day, used to stay up all night practicing drill with, to someone you haven’t spoken to in a year and a half.
Surprise, it’s me!
No, no, who the hell would write that.
I know I’m the last person you probably expected to hear from but that’s how our friendship always was --unexpected. I want to apologize, I know that I’ve been a shitty friend and, if I were you, I’d probably rip this letter up and then burn it for good measure. You might know that Hobi and I met up about six months ago and, if he told you anything about it, then you know that I hadn’t been coping too well. It was a rough year. I saw him everywhere, Jiminie, everywhere. He was the cashier at the coffee shop, he was the voice on all the radios, he was alive every night in my memories. I thought getting away from the army would help but he wasn’t just a kid in my platoon anymore. He was laughter, cold beer, chocolate, soft pillows, flip flops after five pm, and green tea on the base roof at sunrise. My mom always said that, when I fell in love, the person would become synonymous with life so it made sense that, when he died, my world did too. You have to believe me that I wasn’t in my right mind when I left. And then these past few months I’ve just been scared. Really scared, Jiminie. At first I thought it was that I was scared that you and Hobi would cut me off the same way I did. But I think I’m scared of y’all dying too. I didn’t want to go through Jungkook again so I figured that if I cut myself off, and y’all died, it would hurt less. But I think living without y’all is hurting more. I’m not just writing to apologise though. This friday, 24 June, the rehabilitation and reentry center I’m working at in Gwangju is holding an art exhibition for the patients. It would mean a lot if y’all could come. I know y’all get June and July off, so here I am begging. Let me make it up to y’all.
“You mean to tell me that you haven’t decided which piece you’re submitting when the exhibition is,” Yoongi glances at his watch “in less than an hour.”
Taehyung scoffs “You obviously don’t understand the artist’s process. Expected from a science major.”
“Alright Bob Ross, since my degree apparently nulls my opinion,” Yoongi trails off, turning to leave.
From behind Yoongi feels a hug that wraps around even his arms, effectively pinning him in place.
“Don’t leave, I was just joking.” Taehyung’s soft voice is close to his ear.
Yoongi doesn’t know when this happened, when Taehyung got touchier and more comfortable around Yoongi. Yoongi dramatically breaks free from Taehyung and turns to look back at the sculptures.
“Hmmm...I guess the bird one is pretty cool.”
“You think so? Me too. Bird’s are...metaphorical.”
“Metaphorical.” Yoongi repeats and for some reason it feels right.
The art exhibition goes better than Namjoon and Yoongi could have guessed. Something about unrestrained art really encouraged the patients to open up, not only in Yoongi’s sessions but in their submissions. Alongside Taehyung’s stunning wire bird, there’re several landscape paintings, a disorienting mash of colors that the patient insists is abstract art and not a result of his disinterest in the subject, and a particularly realistic painting of Namjoon clad in his security uniform. Namjoon practically melted when he saw it.
“Is this me? Oh my god,” then, with touched tears in his eyes, “Are my lips really that big?”
The Gwangju official shows up just as scheduled, at one in the afternoon and Yoongi can’t help but note his neatness. He’s a tall, broad man, just bigger than Namjoon, and is decked out in a starched suit and tie. Across his head is a styled cropped cut, very professional yet handsome.
“I’m Dr. Kim, but I hate titles so call me Seokjin,” he greets with a slight bow “And you must be Officer Kim, the mastermind behind this facility! When I tell you that we’re all fighting at the office about who gets to come here each year, I’m not exaggerating. This place has notoriously high rates of reentry so it’s less, y’know, depressing than going somewhere where everyone gets rejected. What model do you use? I’m betting it’s the one they use in Gumi city. Wait, is that a bird?” he says distractedly before turning and leaving Namjoon and Yoongi.
“Someone likes to talk.”
“What’d ya expect, he’s a city boy.”
“I like him, though.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Yoongi freezes at the voice. God, does he know that voice.
When he turns he expects to see anger but is surprised to see Jimin with eyes full of tears.
Before either can say anything, Jimin’s rushing forward to pull him in a hug.
“What happened to you?” he whispers into the hug so that only Yoongi can hear.
When he pulls back he looks Yoongi up and down, hands resting on either of Yoongi’s shoulders, and there’s a distinct sadness in his gaze “God, I remember when you had the best roundhouse kick on the base.”
Yoongi smiles, knowing that that’s Jimin letting him know that he’s worried about his weight loss without right out saying it. Jimin’s always done that, subtly conveyed his thoughts to avoid being abrasive.
Jimin pulls him into another hug before sighing “Okay.” he says with a smile.
And Yoongi knows he means it.
“Hobi.” Yoongi says with a smile, noticing that Hoseok’s still lingering by the door.
Yoongi walks past Jimin and pulls Hoseok into a hug.
“I want to apologize.” he says quietly to Hoseok, holding him tightly.
“Don’t,” Hoseok says and there’s a sweet softness to his voice “It’s okay, really.”
When Yoongi pulls back he can feel tears welling in his eyes.
“Who wants to see some art?”
“And so then, Yoongi and I are there, in the kitchen, and I’m like ‘With that apron?’ ” Taehyung leans forward into Jimin as they laugh over another story.
Yoongi knew they’d hit it off. What he hadn’t expected was Hoseok and Namjoon to attract like magnets in a 4th grade experiment.
“Yeah, this is where I work,” Namjoon sniffs with a perfectly veiled guise of unaffectedness, leaning by one of the open windows of his office, “It’s whatever.” he shrugs.
Hoseok leans into the window to grab at something “What’s this?”
“Wait, no,” Namjoon says, any attempt at being cool gone as he hurriedly tries to avoid Hoseok’s imminent damage, “that’s, uh, my Captain America figurine.”
Yoongi snorts as he turns from the two to be faced with Seokjin.
“So you’re the resident psychiatrist?”
“Ah,” Seokjin says importantly “very nice. You’re doing great work here. I heard you set this all up.”
Yoongi grunts an affirmative.
“What inspired it?”
And Yoongi can’t help but look to Taehyung. The answer’s obvious.
“The patients,” Taehyung “showed great potential,” Taehyung’s an artistic genius “so it felt criminal to not give them a platform.” I swear to God, I’m not being biased or anything, he’s, like, really good.
“Dr. Min, I think I’m ready to begin conducting my evaluations. Starting with…” he trails off flipping through the papers on his clipboard “Kim Taehyung. Have him come to the agreed upon room in ten minutes. I just need to set up.”
As Seokjin walks off, Yoongi feels his heart rate increase. It’s been a while since he’s felt nervous for another person, a year and a half to be exact.
“Tae.” he calls, walking toward Jimin and Taehyung.
“Yeah, Yoons?” Taehyung replies brightly.
Jimin tilts his head at this and mouths the word ‘Yoons.’
“Dr. Kim’s waiting for you.” there’s a pause where they both stare at each other, the situation settling over them “It’s time for your evaluation.”
Before Yoongi can say anything else, Taehyung’s pulling him into a hug.
“Thank you.” he says softly into Yoongi’s ear before pulling back, giving a small smile, and walking past him to the room in which Dr. Kim is waiting.
Yoongi tries to swallow but finds his throat dry.
“Yoons?” Jimin repeats from behind Yoongi.
Yoongi turns to see Jimin with raised brows “I thought you hated that nickname.”
“I don’t.” Yoongi says plainly “Joon always calls me that.”
“Yeah, and that’s why you never let us call you that.” he pauses momentarily “Well, most of us.”
“You can say his name.”
“We miss Jungkook too.”
Surprisingly the sobs don’t come “Yeah, I know you o."
“We all coped in our own way.” he sighs “For me it was gun practice. I thought that, if I could just shoot one of those damn guns better, I’d be able to protect more people. For Hobi,” they turn and see Hoseok and Namjoon enthralled in some conversation, one that is no doubt uninteresting to everyone else, “he went out a lot. He wouldn’t tell me where but I knew he was going to the club, the gay one south of the base. I can’t tell you how many nights I waited for him to come home only for him to stumble in at three am, red eyed and drunk. God, it was killing me Yoongi. I couldn’t see why he was doing this to himself until one night he snapped, yelled about how I was no different. I was bruising my fingers from all the recoil, I didn’t realize it but he was right. We were both hurting ourselves.” Hoseok glances over at them in that moment, just a quick glance directed at Jimin, and Yoongi could read that look from anywhere.
“He’s in love with you, y’know.”
Jimin smiles “I know.”
“And you’re in love with him?”
Yoongi turns to Jimin and doesn’t need an answer.
“Hardships brings people together, Yoongi. But you would know all about that.”
Yoongi glances down at this “You’re talking about Taehyung, aren’t you.”
“Taehyung and Jungkook are like veins of the same plant, y’know. Both got those bright eyes full of curiosity and wonder.”
Yoongi doesn’t say anything but continues to stare at the floor between them. He knows Jimin’s right.
“Keep this one close, alright?”
He knows, he knows, he knows.
He knows but, as Hamlet said, conscious doth make cowards of us all . It’s long after the evaluation that he finds Taehyung in the moonlight under that tree, laying in the pink flowers.
“He passed me.” he says, smiling up at Yoongi.
And of course Yoongi had been happy so, when Taehyung pulled him down to lay next to him in the flowers, he didn’t fight.
Taehyung leans up and props himself onto an arm. Taehyung, with his electric blue uniform, in the pink flowers, under the green foliage and golden light, it’s positively magical.
“Yoongi,” Taehyung says quietly, glancing back and forth between Yoongi’s eyes and lips and moves his face closer hesitantly “ Shall I lay in your lap? ”
Yoongi breathes a laugh against Taehyung’s smiling lips “ Ay, my Lord. ”
The kiss is delicate, just like Taehyung’s golden sculptures but instead of metal there’s a softness that tastes like the cafeteria mango juice and smells like flowery dryer sheets.
Taehyung deepens the kiss and suddenly flavors of mint chapstick and sounds of Taehyung’s soft breaths fill Yoongi’s senses. He vaguely feels it when Taehyung straddles him.
“God, Doc, you don’t get what you do to me. I swear it’s, it’s,” Taehyung, says, pulling slightly to let them breath “you’re an alien. I’ve decided it.”
Yoongi laughs but quiets when he looks Taehyung’s face over, his silhouette outlined in gold, his hair ruffled. It’s uncanny.
“It’s uncanny.” Yoongi repeats his thoughts.
Taehyung’s smile sobers slightly.
“You look, you look just like him, Tae.”
And that’s not totally true but it might as well be. The same boyish looks, the lights of the trees mirroring the ceiling lights of their bunk.
“You look just like him.” he softly repeats before pulling him down for another kiss.
But Taehyung jerks away.
“Who am I?”
Yoongi furrows his brow “Taehyung.”
There’s a pained look across his face “Are you sure about that.” his voice is so soft though.
Yoongi nods, not wanting to understand what Taehyung’s getting at.
Taehyung rolls off of Yoongi and the two lay there, staring up the tree before he faintly hears Taehyung get up and walk off.
Months pass, the summer ends, and with that Hoseok and Jimin are stationed far away with promises to write. Namjoon goes back to whatever it is he occupies himself with and Yoongi stagnates. He still meets with the patients but, after Taehyung was discharged in early July, it’s become harder for him to connect. Which is how Yoongi finds himself, sitting outside his living quarters, enjoying the crisp September air. He’s been doing this a lot in his free time, sitting and thinking.
“Aren’t you supposed to be working?”
He turns at the unfamiliar voice and nearly falls out of his seat. Standing in front of him, in a dark red plaid button up and corduroy hat, is Dongwoo.
“Dongwoo-ssi.” Yoongi says hurriedly, standing up and bowing.
“Eh,” Dongwoo says with a dismissive wave, pulling a chair up to Yoongi “Enough with that. What, I can’t be more than five years older than you, huh?” he says with a mischievous smile.
Yoongi smiles and sits back down “Where’ve you been.”
Dongwoo points back to his little red brick building, one that’s identical to Yoongi’s “Hate the summer, the heat’s dreadful.” he says plainly, as if that’s enough explanation as for why he didn’t emerge for months at a time.
There’s a pause before Dongwoo checks his watch “What’s a young man like you doing here on a Saturday afternoon? You should be out.”
Yoongi sighs “I don’t feel that young.”
Dongwoo laughs at this “Mentally elderly.” he laughs again “I wish I had your problem. It might be hard to tell but I’m physically old, you see.” he points at his body as if it were an exhibit of old age set in a museum to show the youth what they’re to become “But mentally,” he points at his temple, “I’m young enough to still make the draft. That’s how age works, you’re alive when your body wants you to sit still and you’re dead when it’s ready to move. There were only a few things that could get me moving when I was in my thirties. Ya got a girl?”
Yoongi chews the inside of his mouth momentarily “I had someone. Things, uh, didn’t seem to work out too well.”
“What kinda talk is that? Things didn’t seem to work out too well. Well what happened for Crissake?”
Yoongi sighs “I messed up. I was still hung up over someone from when I was younger.”
“So you’re telling me the problem was you? She didn’t hate you or nothing?”
Yoongi stares down at his lap, this whole conversation is quite depressing, actually “Nah, nothing like that.”
“Well then what’re you sitting here for?” he says loudly, causing Yoongi to slightly jump “If she don’t hate you and you don’t hate her, then why’re you here? You realized your mistake, now fix it.”
Yoongi looks at him incredulously, “I don’t think it’s that easy, Dongwoo-ssi.”
“The hell it isn’t! It’s as easy as simple maths: one mistake minus one apology. They cancel each other out then you can go back to living.”
Yoongi looks out over the lawn and watches the blowing of the trees and finds that Taehyung was right, as always, as watching the wind calms him.
Yoongi glances down once more at the address scribbled in his notebook and sighs. The bumping of the train blurs his vision occasionally but the line stays seared into his memory. After talking with Dongwoo, Yoongi searched through Namjoon’s records detailing where all discharged patients were residing as they were currently in a three month watch period. It was implemented by Yoongi, before he’d even really known Taehyung, as a precaution to ensure that there were no relapses once fully submerged back into civilisation. That’s how Yoongi found himself on a train to the historic part of town. He wasn’t sure where Taehyung was staying but a flip through the local newspaper had a new art studio dubbed Magick plastered across the front page and knew where to start looking.
Yoongi leans his head against the window of the train and watches as rain drops drip down the pane. He breathes in and for the first time, realises that the rain doesn’t remind him of Jungkook, in fact, it doesn’t even remind him Taehyung. It reminds him of wet grass and blooming flowers and thinks that maybe it’s a metaphor.