Yoongi can't quite open his eyes, painful and annoying like he went to the beach. Just as he hates the beach he hates feeling like he got sand into his eyes. Painful to move the eyeball, painful to lift his eyelids. He tries just one, shuts the other eye, starts to see the light. It's not a strong light, just the lightest shade of orange from the sunset entering through the window.
The broken window. His broken window. His only window, now broken.
Yoongi doesn't speak, because it's kind of painful as well, but thinks it's fine. Sarcasm, obviously.
Those guys broke his only window and knocked over his only table. His precious only table with his precious only chair, and realizes the amount of magazines he had stacked on top, because now they are all scattered on the floor. Torn papers, newspapers, letters, advertisements, any sheet he has happened to bring here for some unknown reason.
He can't see it, he didn't open his eyes yet. Nevertheless, before they turned his face into a Jackson Pollock painting with their knuckles, Yoongi witnessed how those guys broke his only window and threw his table to the floor, how all the papers inside his trailer flew along with all the limited furniture around.
Yoongi sighs, so deeply it takes him a moment. Then he spits, and tastes like blood. He's sure it looks like blood.
This is totally fine.
Everything around him is fucked up, he's so fucked up. But he is alone, at least, and has time to reconsider. He has time to think and reflect, to meditate, he has time to have an out-of-body experience, to reach nirvana or whatever mystic stage he wanted to reach right now.
He has all the time in the world because he is literally tied at his hands and feet to his other only precious chair, in the middle of his trailer. Thank God he still has his pants on.
He really has all the time in the world, but he's getting nervous. Okay, everything is fine, those guys have left, he is technically calm sitting in his chair, in his own trailer, but he really doesn't want to be like that. He hates it. Who wouldn't.
Yoongi wants to get up, Yoongi wants to look at his face in the mirror. He wants to clean the blood from his chin, he wants to pour alcohol on the wounds because, yes, all this time his face has been freshly beaten and warm and almost not noticing the pain, but now his body is getting cold and the bastards are starting to sting on his cheekbones.
He can not spend the rest of the day tied to his chair in the middle of his trailer, he has to move. They could realize that he is not dead, they could come back. They could—
Steps. Not too close, but not too far. His eyes hurt like hell, but Yoongi has already opened them.
The steps continue making a noise, again, again, small steps, slow, or shy, he can not differentiate. He is literally chained to the floor of his trailer and dripping blood, his ears should not be in their best condition either. Quickly he looks everywhere, at the small bookshelf on the left, at the sofa, the material completely torn; at the table knocked down. He's sure his knife was on the surface, now it has to be somewhere on the floor.
If he could move, just a little. If his neck didn't hurt as if he had just been beaten.
The steps stopped long ago. So either his ears are really fucked up, or that kid in front of him has been walking with angel feet to the door of his trailer.
It's too late. A person is blocking the entrance, the only entrance. Standing, looking at him, with his hands in the pockets of his yellow jacket.
But he is so young. Those guys were not that young. Those guys were not young at all. Those guys wouldn't take a kid like him with them.
The voice that just came out of Yoongi's throat is not his. It's broken. He clears his throat, spits again. Yes, it looks like blood. There is blood in his mouth.
That kid looks, and keeps looking. With big eyes, but not surprised. More like curious. That young man is standing still on his door and looking at Yoongi like he's a rare bird.
"What are you doing?" Asks.
Has the audacity of asking. Yoongi frowns, for more than a while, blinks painfully a couple of times and looks around. Looks down, looks at his lower body, looks at himself all beaten up and tied to one of his two only precious chairs in the middle of the messiness of his trailer.
"What the fuck you think I'm doing?" Replies Yoongi.
Not weaving a scarf, neither taking a cup of tea. Comfortably reading a book? Not at all. What the hell is he going to be doing. Yoongi tries to move his chair a little, a little push with the strength of his body. But it's useless, he's also attached to one of the metal bars that act as pillars of the structure of the trailer.
"Dunno, that's why I'm asking," the boy replies. His voice is so stupidly innocent that irks Yoongi more than the sharp pain of his left eyebrow.
"And it's the stupidest fucking question I've ever heard."
At first he had just poked his head out of the metallic door, then a little more forward to fully enter the trailer. The boy keeps watching the worst moment of Yoongi from his position, with little or no will of leaving him alone again.
That's a good thing, if it wasn't for that boy has his hands in his pockets as if he was grabbing a knife or a gun. Or as if he simply had no intention of helping Yoongi.
"I mean," he says. And his voice is still innocently normal. Yoongi scoffs, just a little to the side. "Maybe you're into a weird kind of sexual game, I don't know you."
This time Yoongi fully scoffs though.
"Are you really serious?" Says, and moves his head violently, to both sides, trying to get rid of the response and something like a fly that has entered through his only broken window and now won't leave him alone even when trying to sit calmly in the middle of his trailer. "Look, if you don't know me what the hell you're doing here and talking to me in the first place."
"Because I was, just—"
The boy keeps his mouth open, but the words stop coming out of his vocal cords, ending in a weak and stuttering sound. He looks back, towards the road from which he has come, looks outside the trailer as if Yoongi could see what he's seeing.
That doesn't matter, Yoongi knows perfectly what is on the outside of his house. They are in a large empty space dedicated to the abandonment of wrecked vehicles and pieces of damaged trucks. Yoongi knows what that boy is seeing right now, he knows where he has walked in to reach there. He knows the courage he has had to get into that crappy trailer.
"Yeah, you're right, better if I'm leaving."
On that, Yoongi keeps thinking. That kid is not ragged, he is not dirty. His jacket is intense yellow, his hair only messy by the wind. That kid doesn't look like someone who should walk around a place like this.
That kid doesn't look like someone who should be exchanging a single word with Yoongi. And that kid stops, turns his head towards Yoongi at his request, although he was about to leave the trailer.
"Can you untie me first?" Asks Yoongi. And clears his throat again. Swallows and still tastes like blood. "I need to pee."
It is not fast either. He can feel the boy's breathing more than an answer, a physical or oral one. He looks at him, looks at Yoongi who looks at him as well, from below, stupidly sitting with his hands to his lower back, aching after hours tightened by that duct tape.
The boy doesn't move. The boy just opens his mouth, just a little, to suggest.
"Please?" He says. Innocent voice. Maybe not so innocent.
Yoongi huffs in response, so loudly, more tired now than if he had continued alone all this time. So close to liberation and yet so ridiculously far away.
"Fuck, come on, kid, untie me."
"Okay, have a good day."
Another big snort comes from Yoongi's patience, this time through his nose. He presses his lips, lowers his eyes to the ground because he can not believe that he is asking something like that to a dumb boy that has happened to go through his trailer at his worst moment.
Yoongi clenches his jaw.
"Can you untie me, please?"
And the dumb boy curls up the corner of his lips.
Yoongi is going to protest, but throws the resignation in a sigh instead. He licks his lips, having a perfect view of his shabby boots, also attached to the chair legs.
"Yes, you should."
The boy takes a step forward.
"Because you must help a fellow citizen when he is in trouble."
"What if you're a criminal."
"I am not."
"That's what a criminal would say."
"I'm fucking tied to this chair, don't you see?"
"A criminal is surrounded by criminals and ends up tied in a chair and with his face—"
"Please, I'm not the bad guy here, okay?" Yoongi cuts off, slowing the pace of the conversation. "I'm just a victim. And my bladder is going to explode at this point."
The boy's steps have stopped, but his words too. He shrugs, and his yellow jacket looks two sizes bigger than his then.
"You won't hurt me if I untie you?"
Yoongi shakes his head down, harshly like a child after a tantrum.
"I just want to goddamn pee and wash my face," he says. And narrows his eyes, closes them, throws his head back until it is hanging from his shoulders. "I must be looking horrible."
They're shy at first, the step that the boy takes, but immediately he is letting out a chuckle at Yoongi's comment.
"Yeah, you do."
Finally he gets closer, more confident, tilts his head and glances down behind the chair. Indeed Yoongi is tied, his wrists surrounded by duct tape, tight and swollen. His ankles too, completely attached to the wood.
"There must be a knife under those magazines, or under that table."
Yoongi looks up at that boy surrounding his body trying to access to his bonds. He nods, turns around and quickly starts looking for the little blade on the floor. It doesn't take long until he finds it somewhere, and holds it tightly in his hand.
That penknife has been with Yoongi almost all the time of his life. Since he remembers that he was alive. Since Yoongi left home, since he first had to find a place to live apart from society.
The boy approaches again, bends down in front of him and grabs one of his ankles, cuts the tape and runs to the other. Suddenly everything is huried, as if there was a timer on their heads. Yoongi throws his head back in silence, to the side. Tired. Looks at his only broken window, and some bad feeling hits him again in his lungs.
"It's not easy to break," the boy mumbles. He is taking longer in this leg.
"They knew what they were doing," Yoongi replies, not really wanting to enter the conversation.
When the boy finishes he crawls behind the chair, tries to find the angle to reach Yoongi's wrists with both hands. It's tricky with the metal bar in the middle and the furniture behind. He decides to get up a little instead, bends over Yoongi's chest and wraps around his waist with one arm to grab the tape properly.
Yoongi was not looking at him, and he is not going to look now.
Deviously he begins to tear the tape, a sandwich of centimeters and centimeters of material around his thin wrists. Yoongi can feel the slight swinging of the job, as if that boy was trying to light a fire on his back.
"I'm Jeongguk, by the way."
Yoongi's not really looking, because if he tilts his head down the position would be a bit awkward, but he can smell him. Yoongi can smell Jeongguk, and he doesn't smell like the streets. He smells like a home, one with a washing machine. He doesn't smell of canned food, doesn't smell of gasoline and dust.
The boy smells good, actually. Yoongi inhales and he can say that Jeongguk is so different from Yoongi.
Eventually the tape breaks. Jeongguk pulls it carelessly and takes it off Yoongi's skin, making him grimace. After so much time he huffs in relief. Jeongguk steps back and Yoongi moves his shoulders, brings his hands to the front and moves them too, shakes them, painfully numb.
"Thank you," mutters. Small mouth. His hands reddened and swollen by enduring the pressure for so long. "I'm Yoongi."
Lethargically Yoongi starts to move, gets up from the chair in the most lamentable way. He is, inside and out, lamentable. His lips, his cheeks hurt. His sides, his ribs, his chest when he breathes. Those guys have done their job well, they've left him conscious enough to see each of the blows but stunned enough not to be able to defend himself.
Now everything is over, that's what Yoongi wants to believe. At least he can wash his hands and face, drink a glass of water, if there is any left in his kitchen.
Without looking back Yoongi first goes to the bathroom. He finally evacuates his bladder, and the time it lasts, supporting himself on the wall with his forearm, it's a moment for him to think. Maybe he should leave now. Leave all of this behind. Maybe this is a inflection point, maybe Yoongi should reconsider to start a new life away from the one he built with so much effort years ago.
Yoongi zips up his pants and washes his hands. The small bathroom mirror only has a crack on one side. He can see himself, sees his face, sees the cut of his lip and the bruises on his cheekbones. See his purple eye. He sees his hair so messy, stuck to his forehead with sweat and blood. Surely some of that blood is not even his. His mother never said nice things about him, yet he thinks it was true when she used to say that Yoongi had a tough head.
Both, literally and metaphorically.
Yoongi opens the tap again and wets his face, closes his eyes while he keeps splashing water on his face. Tries to sink, tries to submerge in the water and not come back to the surface ever again.
He doesn't endure too much though. Immediately he is opening his mouth, taking a breath. He is not sure if those thugs will return for today, but most likely they really think that Yoongi is dead. Otherwise it wouldn't make sense that he was here now.
Carefully Yoongi dries his face a little, lets the drops of water that have been hanging from his bangs fall to the floor, and gives a big sigh before returning to his newly decorated trailer. But Yoongi is not alone.
"What the fuck are you doing here yet?"
That kid is still there. Jeongguk is still there, in the middle of the place.
"You don't have anything better to do?" Yoongi asks, giving him his back. "Get lost already."
But there is no real movement. Yoongi raises his head and looks around at the precarious situation of his trailer. His house. His only place in the world and now completely shattered. He closes his eyes, inhales, exhales, twice, opens his eyes again. Tries to face that all this has been his own fault, and now he will have to start from scratch.
He starts on the couch. Drags the sofa until it is attached again to the wall. Not literally, because those thugs have torn the structure off the wall, but close enough. Afterwards Yoongi comes to the table, to his only table now overturned on the floor, and grabs it by the bottom.
Quickly Jeongguk bends down, helps him, both raise the table with little effort. Yoongi clenches his teeth though, endures a complaint of pain.
"What happened here?"
It's not as if Yoongi had changed his mind, not as if he wanted to enter the conversation this time. Jeongguk finishes placing the table in its original place and bends down again, collects some magazines, gathers some papers scattered on the floor.
"Someone really doesn't want me to live here."
"Wait, you live here?"
Quickly Yoongi turns his head down, looks at Jeongguk, who frowns holding up a weird, mocking smile.
Yoongi rolls his eyes.
"I mean, this place is horrible."
"Have you entered here just to shit on my house?"
"Then shut up," Yoongi says, and grabs the chair on the floor to lift it up again.
More complaints come out of Yoongi's mouth in the form of little grunts, words chewed as he keeps trying to collect all the things that were once —not too neat— but intact and placed along the place. At least he's alive, he thinks. And still has his twenty fingers, though his entire body hurts like hell.
He bends down a little, picks up a couple of dishes, puts them on top of the counter. One is broken, the other at its limit of breaking. The rest are just pieces of pottery on the ground. Yoongi lets out a big sigh; he can not help it anymore. Everything is broken, he will have to live with that.
He bends down again, hisses, notices how Jeongguk is crouching too. How that guy is picking up things from the corners and putting them on his table as if he even knew what he's doing, what's all of this.
He doesn't know, he has no idea where he has gotten in. The only one who knows what all this is, what happened, is Yoongi, and until he dies he is the only one who will know.
"Um," Jeongguk mutters.
What Yoongi left behind was his family, or what was supposed to be one. What Yoongi picked up in that place, despite living as a stray dog, was his dignity.
Jeongguk presses his lips, shuts up before speaking.
"You— you need help?"
It's a quick response even though Yoongi is letting Jeongguk help already. But Yoongi really doesn't want help, not again, not from that kid. Not from a stranger. In this place he has some contacts, he knows some people, but they are all strangers to Yoongi.
"I mean, looks like you are suffering," Jeongguk answers.
He is, certainly. Yoongi feels that all his bones hurt, that all his joints make an awful sound with every movement. He feels that the blood in his head is still burning, and that at some point he might faint.
"Fuck, I'm just— this is not my best moment as you can see," Yoongi grunts, huffing, looking everywhere trying to evade the boy's eyes, but all sides of his trailer are a mess. "And I'm so fucking stressed."
And just as he thought, at that moment Yoongi feels that his words come out with greater difficulty. That every time he tries to talk he has to squeeze the brain so much that he is getting dizzy.
"They have screwed up my house, how you want me to feel."
Carelessly Yoongi drops himself on the couch, all his weight like a dead body, closes his eyes in the biggest sigh. His head throbs, his brow; he closes his tight eyes as he feels that something inside could explode at any moment.
He hears, however, a couple of steps forward.
"I was talking about your face." Jeongguk's voice is still innocent, but this time not so playful. More like real innocent. "You're bleeding. I can get you some band-aids if you want."
There is a long silence of weariness and sarcasm afterwards, until Yoongi breaks it with a loud snorted laugh.
"Some band-aids," he mimics, and he brings his hand to his forehead as if that could allay the pain in his head. "Some band-aids ain't gonna fix shit."
"Or some bandages," hurries Jeongguk. More steps sound, shy, until his voice is closer to Yoongi. "Or a wet cloth."
And this is so ridiculous, and stupid, and useless, and Yoongi is so in pain, but he can not help but smile. Just a little, the slightest movement of his lips, not ironic this time. This situation is so fucked up and this boy keeps talking so innocent and naive and Yoongi can not help but smile for where he has gotten himself into. This kid has no idea.
"Do whatever you want, Jeongguk."
Jeongguk really does whatever he wants. Yoongi doesn't even open his eyes, but hears how the steps move away until there's no sound of feet around. Jeongguk really left, to look for something, anywhere. Yoongi doesn't really care. Yoongi can't care less now.
In fact, even if his company is not too upsetting and the boy is only helping, Yoongi wants, really wants to be alone. He wants to be able to close his eyes for good, he wants to sleep, he wants to not have to listen or feel anything around him. Much less a stranger, that Jeongguk.
Jeongguk. And Yoongi said his name as if he had said it before. Do whatever you want, Jeongguk. And Jeongguk nodded, or so Yoongi supposes. As if they were friends, as if they hadn't just met each other. At the worst moment —one of the worst— of Yoongi's life.
Time passes, slow, heavy for Yoongi. He doesn't know if a few minutes, if a few hours. For a moment his spacing out will be blended into a blackout, or something like that, traveling between consciousness and unconsciousness as his head throbs hot. Something may be leaking, blood from his open wounds, or sweat, or a leak in the roof of his trailer. Yoongi opens his eyes a little, and minutes, or hours, have passed, but he is no longer alone.
He is no longer calm, someone slowly forcing him to return to the real life with a gentle tapping on his shoulder.
Yoongi takes air. Holds it for a moment, releases it. Takes aire again. He was so nicely dying in his dream just seconds ago.
"I can tell."
"I brought stuff for you."
He didn't remember that his eyes hurt. Not as much as the beginning, but his whole body hurts, any minimal movement, any sudden attempt. Yoongi opens his eyes and finds Jeongguk. He is stretching out his hand, showing him a couple of packages and a plastic bag full of cotton balls. Yoongi narrows his eyes, trying to look for comfort.
"What is that?"
"Band-aids and cotton balls," he says. "I've seen a bottle of vodka around here somewhere, I guess that can help."
He doesn't give Yoongi time to respond, quickly getting down and digging in the messiness of the place. Yoongi takes a breath again, tries to sit up on the couch. On his table now there are band-aids and cotton balls. On his floor, a boy with a yellow jacket.
"Where have you gone?"
There is certainly a bottle of vodka under the short counter of what the trailer kitchen should be. Jeongguk grabs it, shakes it, not a big amount of liquid to throw a party but enough to pour it into Yoongi's face.
Yoongi doesn't take his eyes off him; heavy, black, not at all. Not when Jeongguk turns around and faces him, shyly looking for a place to place himself to reach Yoongi without invading his space. And because surely it will not be so easy to be close to an unknown guy who lives in a dirty trailer and just received the beating of his life.
Jeongguk grabs the cotton balls, sits next to him on the uncomfortable wall couch.
"Where did you get those?" Yoongi asks.
The plastic bag now open, Jeongguk delicately sticking his fingers in it to get a ball of cotton. He doesn't look. He just shrugs.
A couple of new packs of band-aids, a whole bag of cotton balls. Nothing you can find lying on the road, in an alley on the street. He definitely has not found them.
Jeongguk presses his lips, bites them. Uneasy. He doesn't look. He just soaks the cotton in alcohol. But he doesn't proceed to heal Yoongi. Jeongguk hands the thing to Yoongi instead, holding his heavy gaze and his arched eyebrow. Yoongi was not willing to be touched, but he was not interested in healing himself either.
After a few long seconds he accepts the wet cotton, and when he grabs it the alcohol slips down his fingers to the joints of his hand.
"How old are you, Jeongguk?"
It's an easy name to pronounce, at least for Yoongi. It comes out of his mouth alone, slips through his tongue as if it were familiar. Jeongguk grabs his own thumb before answering.
Yoongi pulls the cotton towards his face, towards where he foresees there will be a cut, on his cheek, and squeezes, and hisses, and squints his eyes because it hurts like hell.
Jeongguk doesn't look. Jeongguk remains with his head down.
"You're not from around here, right?"
Jeongguk doesn't say anything, just shrugs.
"This place is pretty lonely," Yoongi adds.
This place is practically his. Nobody lives here more than him, more than other homeless young guys a few hundred meters away, more than other people who have decided that life is not what their families gave them at birth.
"I live in this city," finally speaks Jeongguk.
And this city is as vast and extensive, as endless as the borders. Yoongi squeezes again, and the liquid dripping to his legs is transparent and red. It doesn't hurt anymore, but it's annoying. Upsetting that he must be healing his wounds with cotton, like a child who has fallen off their bicycle.
"But not near here," Yoongi replies.
Yoongi no longer remembers the first day that he rode a bicycle. Yoongi has got rid of those memories.
Of course not. Jeongguk does remember his first toy. Jeongguk smells like softener and hair conditioner. That's why Jeongguk doesn't belong here.
"What are you doing here then?"
Yoongi squeezes, and hurts, liquid slides down his face, and he drags the cotton, collects all the blood and excess of skin and swears to the demons in his mind not to say it out loud. Jeongguk is twenty years old, but he is already desecrating his pure image too much just by sitting next to Yoongi.
Jeongguk doesn't look. Jeongguk doesn't say anything. Jeongguk prefers to look at the untied laces of Yoongi's shabby boots. It's silent, but that eventually ends. Jeongguk looks up, Jeongguk smiles. Yoongi knows that he doesn't belong here, but also knows that the cotton with which he cleans his face it's been stolen.
And Jeongguk's smile is big, impossibly wide. Like a sudden happiness. Like a feigned delight.
"I wanted to see this side of the city."
Like a painful memory. It had been a long time since Yoongi didn't feel something weird inside him.
It is okay, because it has to be. Because Yoongi wants this kid out of his house, sooner or later. Because he has no time to waste it with anyone else.
Because it's been hours and he's still here with this kid that he doesn't even know and doesn't care about and he's just taking up room of his trailer. But his head hurts, a lot, burningly throbs. Yoongi doesn't have the strength to deal with anything now.
It has to be visible in his appearance. He has stopped dabbing his face with the cotton, the blood already dry, stuck to his cheeks like mud. When Yoongi realizes himself his head is leaning against the wall, his arm hanging down, tired and annoyed at the same time.
"You look worse than before," Jeongguk murmurs. "You have a fever?"
Silence doesn't seem to be an answer for the boy. Jeongguk opens his eyes to Yoongi, tilts his head a little, observes him conscientiously as if looking at a mathematical equation. Then he raises an arm, the back of his hand, brings it closer to Yoongi's face until he's almost touching his forehead.
"I'm fucking fine, I said." But Yoongi stops him, grabbing Jeongguk's wrist just before he can touch the tiniest molecule of his skin.
He doesn't let go, grabs him for a moment, squeezes, regaining a strength that he didn't have since this morning, but at the moment he has to let him go. Jeongguk is not small, he is not so young, he does not seem stupid. But Yoongi is not the kind of person you want to meet at night in an empty alley.
He knows. Yoongi knows it, and after finding him in this awful way it's normal for Jeongguk to be shaking at his grip.
"Sorry, it's just—," he mumbles, lets go of Jeongguk and look with his eyes for the red painted cotton that has fallen by the sudden movement. "Can you leave already?"
Jeongguk has nothing to say. Jeongguk has nothing to do there either. Yoongi just wonders why the fuck he's been still there all the time.
And it's already night, and there is no light in the place other than an old street light at the beginning of the bridge that acts as a roof, and this place is so lonely and dangerous. But Yoongi really can not deal with anything, anyone now. He really should not let anyone get into his life. He really doesn't want to have anyone to think about.
Jeongguk gets up, and Yoongi hears it. He has already closed his eyes again. His footsteps sound on the floor of his trailer, moving papers and pieces of glass as he opens his way to the small door. Yoongi could recognize those steps now. Yoongi recalls the awful, heavy steps of the guys who visited him before, and this is nothing like that.
"Goodbye, Yoongi hyung."
Neither the farewell is the same. Before there was not even a farewell. Yoongi recalls the voice of Jeongguk just seconds after he leaves. Yoongi doesn't even remember the last time someone told him goodbye.
The next morning is the next afternoon instead. Yoongi is not sure if he was asleep all the time, maybe he lost consciousness at some point of the night. Maybe he really had a fever, maybe the vodka on his wounds penetrated into his blood flow and left him knocked out. The only thing he is sure of is that he is awake now, just because his body hurts again like a bitch.
Lethargically he goes to the bathroom, takes off his clothes and leaves them lying around. His trailer is turned into a dump, a couple of bloody clothes are not going to make much change. At last after many hours sweating and bleeding Yoongi enters the shower, and waits, standing still, under the relatively warm water to have a layer of his skin come off completely. Not literally, but he can feel it. As if a part, a minimum part of the worry and pain went through the drain of the shower thanks to the water.
The memory of the blows, the sound of the cracked knuckles of those guys. The creak of his bones, the pain of his lungs. Yoongi remembers waking up bleeding. Yoongi remembers a kid coming through the door. Clean, nice hairstyle. With a yellow jacket, two sizes bigger than his. Yoongi remembers the name of Jeongguk and can not help but wonder who was he, and what he wanted.
The air is not too cold in the afternoon. Yoongi puts on a pair of pants, the only ones he has left. His old pants are full of blood and dirt, and he's not so sure he can remove the stains. It's not like he had a job interview tomorrow. It is not as if he wasn't judged just by his wild bangs and the scars of his skin.
In the ruckus of his trailer he finds his packet of cigarettes, trampled, from which he can save half a cigar. It's fine, he thinks. All this is fine. Everything could be worse; he could be dead. Those thugs could have overturned his trailer and he would now have to live upside down, at most.
The air is not too cold when he goes outside, to the small balcony before the stairs to the ground. He still has drops of water on his bare chest, refreshing him each time the breeze touches him. Yoongi lights his half-cigar. And there is something else in front of his trailer. After that overturned truck, behind its great heavy wheels scattered on the ground. There is a cat scampering around, playing with a shadow. There is a black and white cat, and a boy with a yellow jacket.
Yoongi takes a long drag on the half cigar, frowns. Observes from the distance, in silence, so the smoke escapes from between his lips and is lost somewhere in the atmosphere.
The boy is Jeongguk, and his hair is still shiny and perfect. His clothes clean, his cheeks red by the effort and the morning-like breeze. Yoongi looks at him for a long time, and hears him laugh. Slightly, weak voice to the cute actions of the cat. It sounds nice. Kind of. The laughter of someone, the innocent and pure laughter of someone after a long time for Yoongi. Maybe after never before.
Jeongguk says something to the cat, some nice words, and unconsciously the corner of Yoongi's mouth curls up. It's been a while since Yoongi has seen romantic dramas, movies. Yoongi didn't live, has not even imagined for a long time what it's for someone to tell you something nice.
The truth is the boy doesn't really belong to this place. But perhaps he gives a nuance of light that no one else has given until now.
Jeongguk turns around, turns his head quickly like a fawn. The cat tenses, dilates its pupils.
"The cat," Yoongi exclaims, rests his forearms on the railing. They are alone, but the site is quite empty. His voice gets lost, along with the smoke of his cigar. "It's yours?"
"No," Jeongguk answers. He looks at him again, the little animal looking at his fingers now a bit scared. It's a cat not too big, maybe still the young of another cat. Jeongguk shrugs. "I found him and followed him."
He looks too unconcerned, too happy for what he is doing. Yoongi has never had much interest in cats. He has never had much interest in anything in general since he got this living, but Jeongguk's smile, showing his front teeth in that endearing way, doesn't correspond to the simple act of petting a stray animal in a dump like this area is.
Nor does this kid correspond with this place, with Yoongi himself. Nor does it correspond that he is speaking to him as if they were friends. They can't be, they are not even living in the same world. A boy like him shouldn't have returned to a place like this.
Yet Jeongguk still shows that tight-lipped, big, naive smile again.
"How are you feeling today?"
And also, Yoongi has really has nothing better to do now. Yoongi gives the last drag on his half cigar, drops it to the soil under him. He rubs his hands, curves his mouth downwards in indifference. Jeongguk keeps playing with the cat, a gray cat; the face thin and sharp, with a big, funny dark mole in its little button nose.
"Fine. Nothing that I can not stand," Yoongi replies.
Yoongi can stand it, because if he doesn't do it he would not have a life. But the truth is that everything hurts as much as in the first moment he saw Jeongguk.
"You look better," says the boy, getting up and turning his body towards Yoongi's balcony.
The cat surrounds his legs, brushes its tail on his tibia, and finds its way to another place. That's somehow true. Yoongi looks better after a shower, looks better with clean clothes.
"You didn't use my band-aids, though."
"They aren't!" Jeongguk replies. And takes other steps forward, he gets so close to the trailer that he has to raise his head to talk to Yoongi. "Those cuts are going to get infected if you walk around without protecting them."
"I've lived all this time without band-aids, I think I know how to take care of myself."
"But the place is so dusty," says Jeongguk, looking around. "Dirt could get into your open wounds and they could get dark and leak pus and—"
"Okay, okay, I'll put some fucking stickers of those on my face, happy?"
And Yoongi doesn't know Jeongguk, nor his intentions, nor his emotions and facial expressions. But for the wide smile on his face he could tell he's actually happy.
"You will thank me," he tells Yoongi.
And the next time he sees Jeongguk is inside his trailer. The boy is placing the furniture in its place, and most of the floor already empty. It's a shame, the small amount of plates and glasses that Yoongi had now are practically disappeared. Hardly a plate and a glass have remained, and because they were next to his bed since the previous dinner.
Silently Yoongi puts on a T-shirt. Looks around, looking for something. He can already give up everything he remembered from his mobile home, he should if he doesn't want to have nightmares at night, but he really wants to find that thing. And in the most silent way possible as well Jeongguk tidies up the place.
Yoongi still doesn't know why he is still here. He wonders what motivates Jeongguk to come back, what motivates him to waste his afternoon helping him clean his house. He wonders why he seems happy with that job.
"Since when are you living here?" Jeongguk asks.
Yoongi looks inside the drawer of the small table, but it's empty.
"I always lived here."
He looks inside a broken vase, inside a case of glasses. Looks behind the bed, looks under the mattress.
"And why are you alone?"
Yoongi looks at all the damn places and can not find what he's looking for.
"Because I'm fucking alone, does that matter so much?"
His voice is loud, annoyed. Yoongi stops and gives a sigh to calm down. Usually he is not grumpy. He doesn't need to be because, usually, theres is no one around him. And if things don't go well for him, he lets out some swearings or kicks some old junk from the outside for himself only.
"Are you looking for something?" Jeongguk asks, big eyes.
And bright, like his hair. Yoongi shakes his head, but then shrugs.
"I had this thing that I really liked and I want to have it back."
"What is it?"
"What kind of gift?"
"Tell me, hyung, so I can help you find it."
Yoongi stops completely, and swallows. He is tense, because it seems that it has really disappeared. Because it's been a long time, maybe always, since someone called him hyung. Yoongi looks towards Jeongguk and Jeongguk looks towards Yoongi.
"Help me with the band-aids instead."
Jeongguk's confused face is quickly changed to a more relaxed and excited one.
"Oh, right," he says, and quickly gets the pack of band-aids from the table. "Sit down."
He doesn't have to do it, but he prefers to sit down and let that kid fill his face with strips of colors than keep talking about his life. He prefers, just for a moment, to stop thinking about his own things. Yoongi prefers to listen to someone else's voice and thus forget that most likely he has lost his gift forever.
Jeongguk gets in front of him, grabs a band-aid and removes the plastic cover. He looks at Yoongi for a slow moment, from above, at his face full of cuts still bright red.
"Did you heal the wounds yesterday?"
Jeongguk giggles, just a bit. He brings his fingers to Yoongi's face. They're warm. Yoongi really doesn't remember the last time someone touched his face, except for those who wanted to break it yesterday.
"No, you didn't."
Gently the boy puts the first band-aid, in one of the cuts above one eyebrow. Yoongi is sure that one was made when they unintentionally threw him to the floor along the chair. Jeongguk turns around, grabs another band-aid, removes the plastic cover.
Yoongi keeps his eyes up, looking at the minuteness and delicacy of Jeongguk's movements. For a moment he forgets if he had to respond to something, but Jeongguk starts talking again.
"This is a mess, why you didn't disinfect the cuts?" Jeongguk says, clicking his tongue.
He disappears a few seconds to reach the only glass of Yoongi in the kitchen counter, fills it with some water and takes the bag of cotton balls from the table. Yoongi doesn't complain, he is fundamentally silent. Seeing how Jeongguk takes the liberty of cleaning the cut of his cheek with water before putting on the band-aid.
"Look how you got this here," the boy says, and licks his lips, focused on not hurting him. "How old are you, five?"
Yoongi really can not stop looking up. There is something different that he can not quite understand. Jeongguk looks clean, looks healthy, looks really good. Looks happy. He looks in a way that he should not be looking right now. Jeongguk looks like he should leave that place and never come back, but he's still there.
"I'm twenty-five," Yoongi murmurs.
Gently Jeongguk runs a finger over the band of his cheek, making sure it is well attached.
"I thought you were younger," Jeongguk ends.
He turns around and picks up another cotton ball, soaks it, presses it against the little wound on Yoongi's lip. The white material quickly turns red. Jeongguk looks into his eyes. Yoongi looks away.
"So you call me hyung just because—"
"Because even so you look like a hyung," the boy replies. He smiles, just a little, and brings his fingers and the cotton back to his lower lip again. "You know. You have this aura."
Maybe it's because he found him dirty and full of injuries after a beating. Tied to a chair, with his hair tangled and his clothes torn. Maybe because this place is not the most childish one. Yoongi thinks maybe it's because he never had a child's aura, because he was never allowed to be a child.
"I'm not going to put a band-aid on your lip, okay? It would be too annoying."
Maybe Jeongguk thinks that because he has never seen anyone like Yoongi.
"Why did you come back, Jeongguk?"
Maybe Jeongguk is healing his wounds now because he doesn't know what this world really is. For a moment the boy remains silent. He takes the cotton, wets Yoongi's temple. Swallows, thickly. Then he shrugs.
"I was just following that cat."
Yoongi doesn't say anything. Yoongi just looks up, towards the innocent face of Jeongguk. Maybe he's here because he knows exactly where he got himself. Maybe he needed space. Time, or a change. Maybe Jeongguk needs to get away from certain people. Or maybe Jeongguk is simply more similar to Yoongi than he should.
He yawns. He stretches, almost yawns again. Dries his eyes with lazy tears. The days pass and nothing new moves around him. No news of those guys, no news of who sent them to hit him. There is no news and it is a bit strange, but that gives Yoongi time to put all his things back together and rethink of his new life.
Yoongi stretches, harshly, and the bones and joins of his back creak. In spite of everything, he could not move from here. His mobile home works, of course, that trailer has been parked there for longer than he can remember but still has automotive use.
The bad thing, though, is that those guys punctured one of the wheels, primarily to prevent Yoongi from escaping. They did well. If he could move that beast he would have done it even if it was only a few meters ahead.
Yoongi yawns again, and swallows, wets his lips, rubs his hands. He is not an expert in engines, he does not have much knowledge about cars or parts of vehicles, but the experience has given him enough capacity to know how to fix things, to know how to change the tire of his trailer.
This place is almost a car cemetery. Here he has everything he needs, and for free. Sometimes living in the street has its advantages.
Half an hour later Yoongi sits in front of the wheel, on an empty bucket of paint. Spreads his legs and bends down. The trailer is elevated just enough to be able to get the wheel out of the structure, but it's a hard work and he needs a lot of patience.
It doesn't take more than fifteen minutes for him to be wiping the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand.
"You're going to stain your T-shirt."
Yoongi stops, tilts his head, huffs and turns the monkey wrench. He will stain his T-shirt, as will his face. He knows that every time he tries to clean the sweat from his cheeks black oil sticks to his skin like ash.
"At least roll your sleeves up."
The minutes pass, and the heat increases. It's not a warm day, not even a warm season, but the effort and tediousness of having to fix something that someone else has broken causes Yoongi's body to give off fire.
"Why would you put on a white T-shirt?"
"Can you shut up now?" Yoongi chews.
And huffs again, this time out loud. He drops the wrench to the ground, resigned, goes to put his dirty hands on his knees but thinks better and looks for some room in the bucket of paint to support himself.
That kid has not stopped showing up there all these days. Happy face, bright hair. Big eyes, that same yellow jacket. Jeongguk smells like fabric softener and scented candles, but his clothes remain the same from the day Yoongi met him.
"I just try to help," he says. And he approaches, gets closer to Yoongi and the wheel and the dark dirt that surrounds him. "See, you've already been spotted."
"This is the only clean T-shirt I've got, okay?"
Yoongi says it, chews it with rage. Not because the kid is tiring, but because that is true. Because that has to be true. That T-shirt is his only clean T-shirt, of his six T-shirts in total. Five, now that one of them is full of dry blood and he will probably never be able to leave it as before.
The silence lasts. Not uncomfortable, rather of acknowledgment. Yoongi is aware that he doesn't have a large closet, that he technically doesn't have one, and knows that Jeongguk has to have a vague idea that money and belongings are not his potential.
Jeongguk remains silent, but approaches. He crouches next to him, next to the bucket, looks carefully at the work done so far on the wheel. If Yoongi wants to get the wheel out of there he's going to have to really get stained.
"You could have used a dirty one if you were going to soak in oil," suggests the boy.
Yoongi can have six —five— shirts, but he doesn't want to be just a beggar. Although he has hardly any money, even if he has to make a living in the most primitive way, Yoongi will not wander the streets with dirty clothes and hair full of dirt. He has still his dignity. He chose this world.
Jeongguk turns his body, still crouching. He points his finger at Yoongi's forearm, the largest black spot on his skin. He brings it closer and takes a bit of the sticky black stain as if it were butter. Afterwards, he doesn't leave Yoongi time to understand what he is doing. Jeongguk raises his hand and brings it to Yoongi's face, and calmly brushes his finger along the tip of his nose.
Yoongi looks at him, looks down at his nose, at the finger that has just touched him. Towards the amused face of Jeongguk, towards the growing smile of his mouth.
"Look, hyung," he says. And bites the smile, unintentionally catching his lower lip with his slightly protruding front teeth. "Now you look just like the cat."
For a moment Yoongi can tell he is speechless. Not because a stranger has just stained his nose with car oil. Not because Jeongguk is mocking his face. But because, in this situation, in this place, with messy hair by the wind and wearing the same jacket for a week, Jeongguk is finding joy in such a small thing.
Yoongi doesn't smile back, because it's not funny. But thinks, and feels that something with this boy is still not right.
"Are you going to continue messing around?"
Annoyed Yoongi cleans the stain from his nose with the back of his hand, trying to remove the dirty sweat from his face. Jeongguk is not really bothering him. Jeongguk is simply... there. Jeongguk is there and nobody should be there.
"I want to help," the boy replies, and hugs his knees on the ground. "What I can do?"
"Nothing." Not only because Yoongi doesn't want to work with anyone, but because he wouldn't know something as hard as changing the huge wheel of a trailer. "Stay away."
"But I want to—"
"Then go around, play with the cat, I don't know. Just let me work."
Jeongguk never really bothered him, he just burst into his life without him asking. In his trailer, in his things. In his garden of dirt and dust. Not too convinced Jeongguk sighs, looks back at the wheel, then at Yoongi. He gets up, puts his hands on his waist. Yoongi tries to ignore his presence. Grabs the monkey wrench again.
"I can do the laundry."
"Because I say so."
"But hyung, I promise you I know how to do it."
Yoongi stills his hands, squeezes the metal bar.
"Can you be still without touching my things for a moment?"
"I just want to help."
"I don't need help."
"That's what you think," says Jeongguk. He turns around, looking for the cat with his eyes. "I thought I didn't need help with math, but I kept failing even though I studied a lot every time."
Yoongi frowns at the wheel, stills for a moment before letting out an ironic snort.
"In high school."
In the breeze a whine sounds behind the sleeping trucks in front of the trailer. More like a meow, the one of a small cat. Yoongi looks to the side, raises his eyes a little towards Jeongguk. Yoongi does remember his high school days, although he really wanted to not do it.
"Screw high school."
Maybe not the subjects, not the tests, but Yoongi perfectly remembers the teachers. The classmates, all the people who judged him without having a fucking idea of his personal struggles and how difficult it was to live for him back then.
"I passed all my subjects," Jeongguk replies, grabbing his own thumb. "Although my brother had to help me with math."
Yoongi has buried it, all that old time, but there are still remnants of pain on the surface. Every time he thinks of his family, of his brother. Thinks that, once, there was someone who looked after him. That Yoongi once ate the food that someone else cooked. He buried it deep and never thinks about it. That's why he doesn't want to have anyone around him.
But, sometimes, just sometimes, he could really miss a company.
"Don't touch my other things, okay?"
Inadvertently an excited smile is drawn on the lips of Jeongguk when he takes that as an approval. Immediately he is taking quick steps towards the metal stairs of the trailer.
"I'll leave your clothes looking like new."
"Don't touch my other things!" Yoongi exclaims, he repeats, before seeing how Jeongguk disappears inside the trailer.
Yoongi is not sure if it's a good idea. Letting that boy walk around his house. Let him certainly touch his things, look for the detergent, let him see everything he has. Let him stay close to him, let him speak to him, to share these little moments. Resigned, Yoongi grips the wrench again, places it on one of the large screws of the hubcap. Yoongi is not sure if it is a good idea to be minimally close to Jeongguk.
It's almost night when Yoongi throws the last metal piece to the ground, making a dull thud as it falls. It's not really nighttime, but under that roof of the bridge that covers half of the trailer everything darkens before time. Yoongi allows himself a few minutes to compose himself, to rub his aching hands. To look at his work half done, the work of two specialized men that he is doing alone.
He is no longer in a hurry. A week has passed. If those guys had wanted to kill him they would have come already. Or maybe they are waiting for something else.
Jeongguk is there. Yoongi can't see him, but can hear him. He has heard him walk out the door with a tub of water, he has heard him go by behind him. He has heard him, excited, carrying those liters of water and wet clothes to the back of the trailer. He has heard him place the strings, he has heard him take out his clothes one by one and squeeze them between his hands.
Yoongi has never done such a large laundry, even though the most he can wash are six —five— T-shirts, three pants and his underwear and socks. For a moment he feels a chill at the thought that Jeongguk has washed his underwear and socks.
The cat keeps meowing from somewhere behind the trucks. Yoongi looks up, still sitting in the bucket, but can not see more than the big body of his trailer. Lazily he gets up, his arms and hands stained, full of grease and dust. His shirt, an insult to Jeongguk.
"I finished, hyung."
He really finished. Yoongi takes slow steps towards where Jeongguk is, in front of a row of wet and bright dark clothes, hanging like heavy curtains in the wind of autumn. It's really the first time, maybe ever, that someone touches his things.
"Did you broke something?"
"I haven't touched anything."
"And the detergent?"
"I kept it in its place."
Yoongi narrows his eyes.
"And the inside is—"
"Everything is neat and clean, I promise."
It's weird, and contradictory. Yoongi doesn't like that this is happening, that there is someone who is touching his things, that there is a kid who is washing his clothes and picking up the mess of his house when he has not even asked for it. But Jeongguk is there, in front of him. Wearing a yellow jacket two sizes bigger than his.
"See, hyung? I told you I knew how to do it."
And his face is flushed, and his hands are red and wrinkly, and his pants are wet with soap and water, but he is still smiling. Jeongguk is pleased to have taken more than two hours to do something that, surely in his home, would have taken only ten minutes. The cat meows, and Yoongi looks back. Maybe this is how it feels when you have a little brother.
"Go and clean yourself a bit, come on," he mumbles. The cat makes noises, but he never lets himself be seen. "Before I shower."
The excitement to do something to get the recognition, to be followed, to be bothered by someone else's positivism. Yoongi was the youngest at home, but he never feel like a brother.
When Yoongi leaves the shower Jeongguk is still in his trailer. Sitting on the couch, carefully, as if it could break away from the wall again. Looking at his fingers, playing with them on his knees. Yoongi had dressed in the bathroom because he knew that Jeongguk would not leave so easily.
"You have nothing better to do?"
His bangs are a little wet because Jeongguk washed his face before. He shakes his head, his yellow jacket blown up from his sitting position. The kid looks like a chubby duckling looking at its reflection in the water.
"Don't you prefer to go for a walk or— play video games or something?"
Yoongi leaves the towel hanging on the horizontal metal bar near the ceiling, waiting for it to dry soon. The trailer is not particularly small, but not large enough to have excess of belongings.
Jeongguk doesn't answer. Yoongi knows that he has shrugged instead.
"You don't have friends?"
And he also knows that the boy will not answer that. Yoongi approaches the kitchen, turns his back to Jeongguk. There is not much food, some cans of meat with tomato sauce, peas with carrots and leeks, peaches, insipidly spiced beans, plain rice. Unless Yoongi is lucky and can get some extra money in the auto wrecker, Yoongi will only taste untasty food.
He opens one of the cabinets on the counter, and something sounds then. Something that is not caused by him, something behind him. Yoongi turns his head and sees the boy with big, round eyes, staring at him. Silently, holding his breath. Yoongi turns his body. Jeongguk has hear it as well.
That thing sounds again.
"You got the fucking cat in my trailer?"
But the thing is literally meowing, and it's ridiculous.
"He was alone and lost."
The kitten sticks his head out of the opening of Jeongguk's jacket, trying to break free from his prison of yellow fabric.
"Cats are solitary, they aren't lost."
"But he was following me—"
"Get him out, Jeongguk."
"Take that thing out of my trailer."
Jeongguk is going to protest, another but something, but the cat anticipates and meows again. Weak, childish, a whine rather than a complaint. Jeongguk's eyes shine, worried and excited at the same time. Yoongi clicks his tongue. Yoongi can't believe he's doing this.
"Here is only room for me, and you've even brought in another guest," he says, supporting his ass and the palms of his hands on the counter. "Besides, that cat is stray, he'll be full of fleas and ticks and dirt and fur and—"
Certainly Jeongguk's eyes are big and round. Yoongi stops talking for a moment, and the seconds he takes to retrieve the words pass by looking into Jeongguk's eyes. To his gaze, innocent and helpless, but survivor. Jeongguk shouldn't be there, with a stray cat under his jacket. Jeongguk shouldn't be with Yoongi, he should be with his mother eating steak at an expensive downtown restaurant.
But that kid is there. In his crappy trailer, sitting on his crappy couch, washing Yoongi's crappy clothes because he really has nothing better to do. Because Jeongguk has no friends, because he doesn't have coins for the arcade. Because, surely, Jeongguk is as alone as Yoongi.
"Okay. I'll get the kitty out now," the boy says. And lowers his head.
After all, there are many people who are alone in this world, and Yoongi is not going to be friends with everyone. He doesn't have to invite a runaway kid in, nor his stray cat. But he's, somehow, different. Jeongguk is looking so oblivious, so bright to be in this state. So excited to be wandering around the streets.
Jeongguk doesn't get up, but Yoongi's impassive gaze doesn't change either. The boy is going to do it from one moment to the next, he's really going to take that cat out of his trailer because Yoongi is not going to be flexible. He never was, he will not be now. But a growl of guts makes him look up. A growl of the sky's guts. The roar of the clouds, over the metal roof of the trailer, over the stone roof of the bridge.
"What is that?"
"Storm," Yoongi replies.
Maybe it's not a storm, maybe it's a big truck passing over them. Maybe it's the sound of the cylinders crashing into the container, pieces of a crane falling against themselves because of a curve of the road. But it is, a storm, when little by little droplets of water flood with a pleasant and dangerous sound half of Yoongi's dust garden, car cemetery.
Jeongguk doesn't get up, he doesn't kick the cat out, but that's not what Yoongi is worried about right now.
He lowers his eyelids and gives a deep sigh because the rain has started to get worse and now the drops sound like streams of water from a hose. Quickly he walks to the door and goes out, down the stairs without looking and without being careful to slip on the wet metal. Then Jeongguk understands, and opens his eyes even more, if that's possible, before leaving the cat on the couch and running towards Yoongi.
It's just five T-shirts, a couple of pants, his underwear. But everything that is hanging and drying on the ropes in the back of Yoongi's trailer is now in the middle of a whirlpool of air and water. Yoongi tries to grab the garments one by one, taking care that nothing falls to the ground, but one of his T-shirts ends up crashing on the wet soil.
"Sorry, I'm sorry," Jeongguk says, voice nervous and muffled by the rain, "I didn't know, I'm sorry."
Yoongi doesn't answer, just focused on trying to pick up everything as soon as possible to be able to enter the trailer. With the help of Jeongguk they can pick up all the clothes, a pair of socks also filled with mud, the wind of that area not running precisely free of dust.
Jeongguk closes the door behind him when they finally enter the trailer, leaving all the wet clothes on the table and the papers.
"You already said it."
"But I'm really sorry."
"Saying it will not change anything."
Jeongguk swallows thickly. Looks at Yoongi's spoiled clothes, sees how they both are now all wet and with their boots full of mud for having to go out in the rain. His fault. Jeongguk feels such impotence that he could cry.
"I mean," adds Yoongi, clearing his throat. "Stop saying sorry, because this is nothing." He picks up the clothes, puts them together in a fabric ball and throws them next to his bed. "It's just clothes, I can do the laundry tomorrow again."
"But it was my fault—"
"Seriously, Jeongguk," Yoongi cuts him. And it's weird, because Yoongi is sure that he has never said the name of the same person so many times. "It's fine. I don't have anything better to do anyway."
He has, and he doesn't have at the same time. Yoongi has nothing to do in his life, just look for a living. He doesn't have a fixed job, he doesn't have anyone to be responsible of, he has nothing more to feed than his own mouth. Even so, he is never calm.
He spends his days looking for pieces of cars that still work to take them to the auto wrecker and earn some money, helping the people that look for a dirty job, and other shady deals that he doesn't want to remember. Even so, Yoongi doesn't really care that his clothes have gotten wet and dirty again. Not as much as Jeongguk's sad eyes, sitting slowly on the couch again, as if he had done something really bad.
Yoongi clicks his tongue, turns around. He doesn't want to look at Jeongguk. Doesn't want to have the slightest feeling, the slightest sensation that he owes that boy a consolation. At the end of the day Yoongi doesn't know anything about him. There are many homeless people in those streets, many people who might need Yoongi's help and he doesn't have to give it for free.
"Are you hungry?"
But when he picks up the can of food that he left in the counter, when Yoongi pretends to read the label, the question automatically leaves his lips. He looks over his shoulder, and he can not help it anymore. Jeongguk is behind him, sitting inside his big yellow jacket, looking at his dirty boots.
Jeongguk doesn't answer, Jeongguk just shrugs. As if he was the one who insisted on washing Yoongi's clothes, wasting the little detergent he had to be spoiled by the rain.
"Hey," Yoongi insists, and turns around to face him and the cat, with the can in his hand. It's not the best he can offer someone to eat, but it's the only thing he has. "You like meat with tomato sauce? If you're hungry, we can share this."
The cat meows, but Jeongguk still says nothing. He doesn't move, he just bites his lower lip. He just nods, slow, suddenly shy. Yoongi has looked back and he can not help it for good. Because the storm sounds ugly outside, and because through the badly sealed window the air that enters the trailer is wet and icy.
Because if Jeongguk is really a lost kid, he won't have a place to eat, or anything to eat at all. Because maybe Jeongguk doesn't eat, and if he does, hell knows what. Because Yoongi had to do horrible things when he first ran away from home, because he knows how hard, and how much courage you must have to really follow your heart in something like that.
He would offer him another plate, but Yoongi only has one. Yoongi would really offer him a lot of things now because, although he knows that he should not give himself to anyone, Yoongi has never seen anything like Jeongguk. Although he suffered like the most miserable motherfucker, Yoongi has never saw real sadness until he's seeing it in Jeongguk.
After so much joy in the boy's eyes, the contrast is so distasteful.
"Where are you sleeping at?" Yoongi asks too.
And as expected, the shy silence of Jeongguk is his answer. But it's not really a shy one. It's a disappointed one. Disappointed of himself, of the words that Jeongguk could say but he doesn't want to admit.
Yoongi takes a breath, slowly, and sighs as slowly. He should not be doing this. He is going to regret tomorrow.
"You can crash on the couch for tonight." He will regret in a few hours. "It's raining like hell."
But, in addition to independence and zero sense of human responsibility, Yoongi has a conscience that would hammer him if he lets Jeongguk leave now. He has a part of his brain that is already trying to make him feel bad every time he sees the boy sitting on his couch, with his wet yellow jacket and his bangs stuck to his forehead by the raindrops.
"I like meat with tomato sauce," Jeongguk says at last, but doesn't raise his head. "I like everything, actually."
"That's a good start."
Yoongi swallows and feels better. He turns again to continue cooking, or whatever is called to heat the canned food in a pot. It's a good start because Jeongguk has to accept anything better than nothing. He has to accept that there is no longer a video game console, a closet full of clothes, or a real house. He has to learn to look for his own home wherever he is.
Yoongi doesn't really want to, but the corner of his lips curls into a subtle smile when he hears Jeongguk's voice behind him. If Jeongguk is really like Yoongi was, he can teach him what nobody taught Yoongi back then.
He's definitely not used to this. To the company, not at all. But much less to this kind of landscapes. These pictures, a mundane situation like this, not even the slightest fantasy. Yoongi never had the need, the real need. He had other reasons to be isolated, he barely could properly meet anyone.
Nor he even wanted to. Yoongi decided to live his life alone, and that's been the best all this time. He didn't had the need to be near someone, and yet doesn't have the need now. Yoongi believes.
But just this image, this is surprisingly precious to be wasted. Yoongi left behind all the material things when he ran away, but now, he craves for a camera to capture the moment. The only beautiful thing among these metallic walls is lying in his couch.
Yoongi sips his coffee and worries because he might be noisy and wake Jeongguk up. And thus the precious scene would vanish. The boy on his wall couch, surely not even comfortable, but looking so peacefully asleep. So pure, so clean, so natural and innocent. All these things Yoongi can never find here.
He sips again, the liquid is not hot anymore. Yoongi has been staring Jeongguk for so long his coffee got lukewarm, but that doesn't really matter now. Not today, not in a moment like this, because Yoongi's definitely not used to it. He hated people. He still does. This is just a break. Definitely, people don't look this gorgeous.
Jeongguk flinches. Just for a second, in his dream, but Yoongi has already dropped his plastic mug to the table just in case.
And he doesn't really care about him, but it's just instinctive. There's still some part of human inside of Yoongi as his belief.
Jeongguk scrunches his nose, shuts his eyes. As if an invisible fly is invading his peaceful sleeping space.
Yoongi was enjoying the view, truly. It's something somewhat irrational what keens to waking him up. Probably the boy just tripped on a sleep stage, a bad dream. Some annoying sound, or the warm light of the broken window it's being rude against his soft eyelids.
The coffee looks so cold now. Yoongi eyes it, realizes he's been stupidly staring at a stupid boy sleeping in his couch, one of the things he would never. Realizes he needs to stop trying to alleviate the pain of his ribs with strong painkillers.
"Jeongguk," says, louder. And this time his eyes go to the wall. "Wake up, it's late."
It's not really late, but Yoongi wakes up with the sun. Just like an animal.
"I want to sleep more."
"Come on, Jeongguk."
"I'm on vacation."
"What— no, you're in my couch so wake the fuck up."
Jeongguk inhales, holds the air. Stretches his arms as much as he can in the little space of the couch and releases the air slowly, complains, whines. Yoongi has to scoff, has to turn his face to his shoulder.
He's not used to this, at all. To the face of the candidness. To the sinless, angelic squirming of someone who is trying to open their eyes in the morning. Yoongi is not used, and now, seeing Jeongguk like this, trying to hide himself under that big yellow jacket because it's too cold for his warm, sleepy body, moves something inside Yoongi he didn't know he ever had.
Yoongi doesn't stop looking at the black sleeve of his own T-shirt. He grabs his mug, rescuing normality.
He's not being an asshole because he really wants to. Jeongguk opens his eyes, and looks at him, though Yoongi can't really make eye contact. If Yoongi is treating him like everyone else it's because he's definitely not used to this, and this boy can't definitely stay for any longer.
"Do you have chocolate milk?"
"I have coffee."
It's not cold, not for Yoongi who has been staring at that kid sleeping for half an hour, but certainly a little, almost imperceptible breeze of cold air peeks out through the slits of the broken window. Jeongguk shrinks, hugs himself under his jacket when he finally gets up and sits on the couch.
"Not even that cheap brand from the convenience store?" He talks, and pouts, rubbing his left eye with his knuckle. "You know, the one with the pink bear on the label."
"I have coffee, Jeongguk," Yoongi states. Tries to take a drink of his own but now it is unsatisfactory. "Coffee and water, you can choose."
Yoongi's mouth stays closed as he sees Jeongguk getting on his feet. Just a mug of coffee may look boring, but it's what he can afford. There are a couple of things that Yoongi keeps as basics since he started living there, and those are instant coffee, cigars and beer. The first one is for a better beginning every day. The other two for an easier way down to drop dead.
"Where can I drink it?"
There's no need to look around, there's no liquid container in this trailer more than one glass, the pot and the mug Yoongi's using right now.
His coffee is so wasted already anyway.
"I'll wash this one for you."
Thank God those guys tied Yoongi up to a chair so now there are two of them in the trailer. Yoongi hears Jeongguk dragging the other chair to the table and sitting in there, silently waiting for Yoongi to prepare his breakfast. He doesn't want to be used to this. Yoongi has food for one, supplies just for himself. He can't be feeding every lost kid that knocks on his door.
But at the end, here he is. Handing his own mug with his indispensable coffee to that first kid that didn't even have the gesture of knocking.
The plastic mug stops at the table, and Jeongguk looks at it, hesitant, but eventually he grabs it with both hands. White little clouds come up from the rim of the mug. The liquid is hot, enough for the boy to get warm, although that's not what Jeongguk is worried about.
Yoongi sits in front of him, and silently looks at him. Jeongguk takes the cup, brings it to his face. Looks inside, smells the content. Afterwards, he takes a drink. And quickly he makes the ugliest of the grimaces.
"What now," Yoongi grunts.
Jeongguk can't help but shut his eyes, watery and stinging.
Yoongi can't help but roll his.
"I don't have sugar."
"In my house we always have chocolate milk and pastries and sweetbread and cereal and watermelon for breakfast."
"Well, this is not your fucking house," Yoongi replies, cuts him off before he finishes speaking. "It's mine. So you can take bitter coffee or the way out."
It sounds rough, just like the raspy voice Yoongi has when he wakes up. He's been in silence all this time, just sipping his coffee, and looking at a boy sleeping on his couch. Jeongguk stares down, and grabs tightly the plastic mug. There's no response, there's no choice. Jeongguk nods, and drinks again, holding the disgust on his face as he swallows.
Yoongi snorts, weakly to the side. It's just sugar free coffee, yet Jeongguk seems to be swallowing nails. And his face so sad it's almost comical.
"Sorry," mumbles Yoongi, playing with his thumb. "I just— I don't have anything else to give you."
"Oh, no, it's fine." Jeongguk hurries, and Yoongi almost ironically laughs again. "I was just suggesting. In fact this is..." Jeongguk pauses and grabs the mug up, looking at the inside. "This is so you, isn't it."
Dark and bitter. And cheap. Jeongguk's eyes still sparkle from the faint watery layer that emerges every time he tries to drink. Yoongi finds them. Big and round, looking at him. If he thinks about it, Jeongguk is right. Yoongi is nothing more than a dark, bitter and cheap person now. It's so true that Yoongi really laughs again to himself.
"Where's Yoongi, by the way?"
Jeongguk lifts the mug again to sip, but stops before it touches his lips even.
The coffee rests on the surface of the table. It's starting to get cold, just as Yoongi's previous coffee. Yoongi would never have thought that one day he would have to pour two whole cups down the sink.
"You named the cat after me?"
"He looks a lot like you," Jeongguk states, nodding. "You don't like it?"
"I mean." Yoongi wets his lips. "Just name him Whiskers or Mr. Tinkles like normal people do."
"Normal people don't do that."
"What normal people don't is call their pets as themselves."
It's so dumb, and so useless this conversation. But Yoongi finds himself involved on it already, almost annoyed by the fact Jeongguk is rejecting his argument. Yoongi would never have thought that one day he would be arguing about cat names with a kid on his trailer.
"Where is he anyway?"
But Jeongguk is still there, after spending the night on his couch. It's been days since his life has changed so much, slightly but so different for Yoongi.
His life has changed to the point that now he has to worry about a fucking stray cat.
"The fucker was meowing and scratching everything," Yoongi clarifies. "I guessed he wanted to pee, so I opened the door for him."
Jeongguk's expression changes, from a panicked one to a calmer one. It's been just a couple of weeks, but that little animal is always around the boy. Everytime Jeongguk comes back to the trailer, to annoy Yoongi asking about his already scarred cuts, or just random stupid questions that make him snort sometimes.
Yoongi doesn't really like cats, but if he is totally honest, it's kind of comforting sometimes to see Jeongguk petting the kitten. Just a lonely soul caring about another one.
"Well," Jeongguk pouts. And grabs the mug, sips again. Scrunches his nose as he puts on the ugly face of disgust. "I'm sure he'll come back. As he always does."
He should give up the coffee, but keeps trying. Yoongi doesn't stop him. Yoongi is not going to take care of any soul. The sunlight enters more strongly, matching the small lamp in the kitchen, and reminding Yoongi that he can not waste all his morning watching a kid suffer with his coffee.
"I have to go and do some things now."
It's difficult to move. Yoongi is aware of what is happening, of the change, and will not allow it. But now he rests his chin in the palm of his hand, spends a few seconds in staring back at Jeongguk. Sees how he blinks quickly after swallowing the cold bitter coffee, sparkly, watery eyes always so receptive.
"Can I help?"
"Gotta go to the junkyard," says Yoongi, without moving his face an inch. "I ran out of gas for the generator. But the place is far away."
Jeongguk licks the remains of coffee from his lips, and shakes his head.
"I can help."
He really can not. Jeongguk has nothing to do in that place, doesn't even know what Yoongi is going to do. He doesn't know how to move around those places, he doesn't know how to deal with those people. But for a couple of weeks, now everything is slightly different. And maybe the Jeongguk company is a little appealing today.
"Then finish your coffee and wash your face."
Jeongguk looks at his drink. Presses his lips, stone-faced. Yoongi knows he's hating it, knows he won't say anything about it and will drink instead. But he's not here to protect the boy either.
It's already high noon when they arrive the junkyard. The path was silent, having for a whole kilometer the kitten following them, though he had to give it up and come back when they reached the highway to cross the last neighborhood, if it can be called like that.
It's autumn, but the weather varies so much down there. Yoongi can wake up freezing inside the trailer, or sweating. He can swear out loud because he has no more coats to put on when it's raining, but he can be huffing, tired by the heat after walking a few kilometers out of town as well.
Jeongguk follows him, like a puppy, carrying one of the empty five-liter jugs that Yoongi has entrusted to him.
"Have we arrived yet?"
"What do you think."
There is nothing around. Literally, nothing. A vast desert of dust and gray clouds. A great road behind them, roaring every time a car passes by. This is as far as Jeongguk has been from his home, that's for sure.
"How much left?"
"We're almost there."
"You said that a few minutes ago."
"Because you won't stop asking the same thing."
"Because you won't tell me the truth."
Yoongi suddenly stops. He turns around, gives him a look. A serious, annoyed look. Jeongguk smiles in response, pressing his front teeth on his lower lip.
"Just kidding," the boy says, and quickly steps forward. "It doesn't bother me to walk."
It should not bother him, Yoongi knows that. His trailer is practically at the end of the city, the nearest residential area is still far enough to not want to get close. If Jeongguk walked that much under the road bridge it was because he was very bored or very desperate.
Eventually, however, they reach the entrance of their destiny. It's a large place, a fenced area full of towers and towers of broken car pieces, other appliances and utensils, all kinds of recyclable garbage and junk people wanted to get rid of. Both enter the main path, finishing in a little booth from which comes a raspy sound, radio music. There's someone in there, resting his feet on the windowsill.
It's autumn but in that place is difficult to breathe, a sudden flying heat, like they are in the middle of a big barbecue. Jeongguk looks around, big, wide open eyes, because something moves around. Maybe a bird fixing its nest, or a bunch of stray cats hunting rats.
"Stay close. Don't move away from me."
Yoongi accelerates the pace. Jeongguk looks at him, frowns, and turns his eyes to the pile of cars they are passing through.
It's not animals what sounds but more people. Workers, it seems, transporting pieces or resting on them. It's so different, and Yoongi knows it, because back then it was so different for him too. They walk towards the booth, receiving in advance a brief look from the man who waits sitting inside. It's weird; the place is so lonely, but little by little the surroundings start to have eyes that bother Jeongguk.
"Who is the kid , Yoongi?"
Little by little he finds the place full of hidden people. It's a voice from behind. Yoongi doesn't flinch, doesn't answer. Just keep walking forward, carrying one of the five-liter empty jugs.
"Maybe we have some work for him."
"The kid is my kid," Yoongi finally stops, finally replies. Turning his head just slightly so he can see the shadow of Jeongguk next to him. "So leave him alone."
And just as fast he resumes his steps. Jeongguk walks closer this time, not wanting to look back.
"Damn. Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed," that guy comments.
They both ignore him once more. They are not exactly scary people, but Yoongi told him not to go away, and if he said that it's for a reason. Eventually they reach the booth, and the man in there lowers the feet of the sill, greets Yoongi with a grunt.
Jeongguk can hear those guys looking at him from behind. They are laughing too. Perhaps of their own jokes, but now he feels that his surroundings focus on him.
"Fill ten liters," Yoongi talks to the man, putting his hand in his pocket. "And hand me some cigarettes."
He pulls out a roll of bills, counts them, takes some of them, so carefully. Maybe there's not much money in there, but Yoongi treats them as if they were real gemstones. There are not too many opportunities for him to keep something like that in his pants. There are not many opportunities to earn it honorably either.
Something keeps sounding behind, this time closer. It's almost touching Jeongguk when the voice of the guy from before sounds again.
"What's your name, boy?"
He can not really know if the intentions are honest or if the man is mocking him. Jeongguk remains impassive, looking at the booth, at the quick hands of Yoongi picking up the jug and bringing it to the gasoline hose offered by that vendor. Yoongi has not told him not to speak, but Jeongguk is sure that it was implied from the moment he told him not to go away.
"You have no name? I won't bite you." The voice continues, and it's getting closer. So ugly, breathing behind his back.
But then there's another one, talking aloud from one of the junk towers.
"He didn't tell you he has a gun?"
"Come here, Kook-ah."
Jeongguk does so, walks toward Yoongi, who doesn't even lifts his chin to look. He just hands him the jug he was carrying, ready to be refilled. Yoongi never called Jeongguk like that before, and he's sure he's not being just nice now. He's sure if Yoongi doesn't say his real name is because he doesn't want the others to know it.
Those men are older than him, older than Yoongi; maybe ten, twenty years older. But, somehow, Jeongguk feels safer by Yoongi's side. And, somehow, he was going to ignore what that man just said.
"Yoongi didn't tell you he killed a guy?"
"Fuck, Seokja, stop the bullshit," cuts, almost growls Yoongi. Yet he doesn't look back.
He keeps grabbing the jug, carefully not to pour outside a single drop of precious gasoline. And moves his head a bit, stares at Jeongguk when that Seokja guy starts laughing, resuming the mocking conversation with the others. Jeongguk's eyes are big and concerned. Yoongi shakes his head at him, slowly, giving him an answer.
The remaining seconds until he fills the five-liter capacity are overwhelming.
And the next few minutes, the time that Yoongi takes to pay the booth man and close tight the jugs, resound like strong heartbeats in the chest of Jeongguk. Because Yoongi is so serious, and doesn't even look at him when Jeongguk comes over to pick up the jug that he brought here, now five liters heavier.
But the guys keep talking, they keep asking Jeongguk things, they keep laughing and calling Yoongi names as they leave the place. Jeongguk doesn't want to move away from Yoongi, but that's not enough.
Even if carrying five liters is not as comfortable, Yoongi grabs Jeongguk's hand, drags him so they can walk faster, and leave that place sooner. And suddenly the clouds are so dark it seems like it's already nighttime. Seems like another storm is coming.
The junkyard was far away from the trailer, but now it feels even farther. By the time they have walked enough they have separated, acting like nothing happened. The path is the same, a bunch of thousands steps crossing that desert of yellow dust until they reach the highway. Afterwards, more hectares of land, more roads, more lost streets on the outskirts of the city.
Jeongguk follows Yoongi like a puppy, this time with his eyes wide open. It's still early because for them, any time of the day is early. The sky darkens and cats meow from their hiding place.
There is, however, an incessant murmur in Yoongi's head. An annoying fly of bad thoughts that overwhelms him. Shaking his bangs he huffs, switches hands so the weight of the jug is now on his left. This is a path he has done many times over the years, and even then it is always so irritating. The heat or the cold, the long road. The mean looks, the words, the unpleasant presence in that junk place.
"It was not true, right?" Jeongguk talks after almost an hour. "What that guy said."
They hear a human voice after almost an hour. Yoongi somehow missed it. Missed listening to something nice.
"What do you believe?"
It's half irony, half an honest question. Yoongi could have said directly no, but he has left doubt in the air, doesn't even know why. For his stupid fixation of trying to look indifferent, and unpleasant so people don't want to approach him. So Yoongi does not have to take care of anyone, or worry about anyone.
But this is so different, since a couple of weeks ago. Jeongguk could believe that Yoongi is everything that guy said and get scared, and after all the boy has no one else to trust. He could scare Jeongguk, and he could really leave. Leave and never come back. But that's what Yoongi wanted from the beginning. That's a good thing, right?
Something hurts, deep in Yoongi's chest.
But Jeongguk doesn't want to hear anything. Yoongi is silent when he notices Jeongguk's hand again grabbing his. Dirty, sore from having been carrying five liters of gasoline for almost an hour. Yoongi looks towards Jeongguk, but Jeongguk is looking forward.
"I don't like those guys."
His voice is as innocent as the first day he poked his head through the small metal door of Yoongi's trailer. Pure, sincere. Jeongguk is sincerely saying that he does not want to go back there if it is not necessary. And Yoongi tightens the grip. He squeezes his hands and interlaces his fingers with those of Jeongguk, so walking is easier.
"I don't like them either," replies.
When Yoongi told that man to get out, he was trembling. He really hates going to that place. He hates everything around him, he hates his world, even though he decided to live that way. If Jeongguk has been scared of them, Yoongi has been scared for years.
Yoongi inhales, air and smoke and fire. Holds his breath for a few thousandths, and calmly exhales until painting the oxygen of carbon dioxide. It is one of his mornings, of those mornings where he wakes up in pain. Without really knowing why, his muscles tense and his head throbbing as if someone had hit his skull while he was sleeping.
On those mornings Yoongi gets out of bed, goes straight to the shower. He shakes the towel in his hair until no longer drops fall by his temples, he brushes his teeth, puts on his pants and goes outside. To his dust garden, to the parade of cars that he can not see but can hear over him.
Yoongi takes one long drag to his cigarette, and paints white clouds again.
The eyelids of Yoongi drop as the smoke gets in his eyes.
"Aren't you cold?"
It's the same voice, over and over. Weeks ago Yoongi had almost forgotten how real people sounded. Until the beating. Until a kid entered his house.
"Not yet," Yoongi says.
It is cold, the cold breeze of the autumn morning almost freezing his bare chest. But it's so comforting. So refreshing, after the hell of his bed. If Yoongi looks back, he finds Jeongguk with the same big, yellow jacket, holding the cat in his arms. They are not so close to the trailer. The boy has had to carry the cat for a while.
Yoongi actually turns his head this time, his body, just the necessary so he can look at Jeongguk properly. His hair is messy, his cheeks are rosy. Yoongi left him sleeping on the couch barely twenty minutes ago, and Yoongi, the cat Yoongi, went out with him.
Deliberately he leaves the cigarette resting on his lips, and stretches an arm to the cat. That little thing has been showing up since Jeongguk started doing it. Yoongi raises a finger and gets it closer to the head, but just ten centimeters away the cat's ears bend down, his pupils dilate, and his body sticks defensively to Jeongguk's chest.
Yoongi scoffs, turns back. A bit of ash falls on its own to the ground. He doesn't like cats anyway.
"Don't hold him like that," he mumbles to Jeongguk, taking the last drag before throwing away the butt. "He's dirty."
"I'm dirty too."
"You are a person, you can take a shower."
"Yoongi cleans himself a lot too."
A heavy sigh escapes from Yoongi as he closes his eyes again. This should not even be happening. He offering a shower in his shower to a stranger. He letting that stranger to continue to sleep on his couch, as if he didn't have enough problems when he was alone.
"Don't call him by my name, it's— it's weird."
But the days pass, and Jeongguk is still here. By his own will and because Yoongi is allowing it.
"We can call him Yoongi Jr."
That's why Yoongi thinks it's useless to resist. That his life has changed, that now he has a partner. A little Robin, during these moments of doubt just in case those guys come back for him. At least Yoongi will not be alone if they decide to return to finish what they couldn't finish that day weeks ago.
"Um," Jeongguk hesitates.
The cat has begun to purr as Jeongguk is stroking behind his ear.
"Can we eat something?"
At least Yoongi is not alone when he eats. Now he has a permanent guest, who eats his food, who messes up his only plate with him. Yoongi should consider getting another plate and another glass.
"Yeah. Let's go inside."
There is rice. Plain, white, lonely rice, just like the previous night, just like most of the time. But it isn't really bad, no since long time ago. Yoongi learned not to seek enjoyment in food, as in many other things of his daily basis. Yoongi quickly learned to appreciate the immaterial world, peace with himself, or war with him, but just him alone.
All this is much more than he can afford, and still retains it. His trailer, his uncle's old trailer, which has accompanied him throughout his life more than anyone.
The clothes with which he left home, his razor.
"I left a little of yesterday's leftovers in Yoongi Jr.'s bowl by the way," Jeongguk comments.
Yoongi leaves the plate on the counter, and touches his chest, over the clean T-shirt he has put on. There was something hanging before, but now is gone.
"Yoongi Jr.'s Bowl."
Yoongi is in a good mood today. Last night and the nightmares were horrible, but the cold morning air has calmed him down. He calmly takes the rice dish and leaves it on the table in front of Jeongguk.
"And since when do we have a cat bowl?"
Jeongguk is the first to try the rice. It is still so hot, carefully he takes a bit with the chopsticks, shapes his lips as an o and bows so the steam leaves the food.
"I found one," he says before putting the portion into his mouth.
Yesterday there were almost no leftovers. Yoongi stares at Jeongguk's first bite, and realizes why the boy has been leaving a bit of his food everytime they eat. Realizes he doesn't really know where Jeongguk goes everytime Jeongguk leaves the trailer.
In silence they eat as much as they can. Yoongi doesn't give a shit about the cat's feeding, as surely as the cat won't give two about the people that feed him. Yoongi is not living on charity. Stray cats know how to make their own living. But also it starts to be somewhat concerning the things that Jeongguk does behind his back.
Twenty minutes later the boy is sitting on his couch. Yoongi has managed to fix the small television that hung from one of the corners, as small as the plate where they eat, but still working. Jeongguk gets up and presses one of the buttons.
"It doesn't change the channel."
"It has no more channels."
Living alone has its advantages. Only one plate is so simple to clean. Only one bed to easy to make, only twelve square meters are so simple to sweep.
"So just one channel?"
"Yeah. Just one channel."
Yoongi is even surprised of that television is not a black-and-white one.
"How can you have a television with only one channel?"
"You should thank at least there is a television."
"Yeah but this is almost nothing," Jeongguk replies, coming back to the couch. "I have my own television in my room, and it's even bigger than the one from my living room."
The tap stays open a few more seconds although Yoongi has finished cleaning. There are, sometimes, some comments like these, which he has decided to start ignoring so they will disappear alone. But the bitter sensation is inevitable. Yoongi inhales and closes the tap, dries his hands in silence. He doesn't ignore Jeongguk, he simply isn't the one to raise him.
"Hyung. Where do you come from?"
The only television channel has remained as a soundtrack, like the sound of an old radio.
"How was your first house?" Jeongguk asks.
Lethargically Yoongi turns to him. He is sitting, underneath and inside his yellow jacket. Still looking at the small television screen, waiting for something good to appear behind the glass. Or enthralled in technology after such a long time without it.
"This is my first house," Yoongi replies.
Both know that's not true. But they both know what Yoongi means too.
"What did you used to do before?"
"I don't know."
"Before living, here," Jeongguk clarifies, even if it's not necessary, "you're not so old, don't you remember?"
Another sigh is escaping from his lips before the boy finishes speaking. Yoongi remembers it, unfortunately, he remembers his other life, his other house, his other family, he remembers even his first dog. But he just doesn't want to. He doesn't want to talk it, he doesn't want to think it. He doesn't want to have to stir his own shit again after so long because the stranger who entered his trailer has no more channels on the television.
"And your first house didn't—"
Jeongguk had not looked at Yoongi until now.
"Why? I was going to ask if your first house didn't have—"
It's a lie if Yoongi says he doesn't fear things. It's a big lie if Yoongi says he's not scared.
He is lying every time he cuts off Jeongguk, every time he changes the subject. Every time he answers rudely, every time he leaves Jeongguk looking at the ground.
This is one of those times. Jeongguk seems so small if he is not smiling. He looks so helpless if he isn't talking, looking at all the things around him, running after the cat. Yoongi doesn't want to feel guilty because if he cuts Jeongguk off, makes him change the subject or replies rudely to him. Yoongi knows that neither this kid nor anyone in the world can interfere in his life.
"And take a shower already, before the fleas start eating you."
It is so bitter to speak now. Yoongi clenches his teeth when he talks, trying not to look at Jeongguk so it's not uncomfortable. At the boy who is sitting on his couch, inside that big yellow jacket, looking at the floor because he has screwed up again. Because Yoongi has not let him be honest again.
He is so bitter but he cannot feel guilty, he must not. He shouldn't raise him either, but Jeongguk is looking dirty. His face, his clothes. Jeongguk keeps silent. An ugly pressure is growing in Yoongi's chest and Yoongi shouldn't feel it.
"Come on, take a shower."
Besides, Yoongi's voice softens. He is all those things because he needs to stay away from people, but now, there are times when his chest really hurts. There are times that Yoongi just wants to be alone, but looking at Jeongguk's sadness really does something. The boy is not supposed to be here in the first place. Yoongi is supposed to be calm and alone, not worrying about a stranger's hygiene.
Jeongguk stands up, shy, still looking at his sneakers. He is not a stranger anymore, for better or worse. His messy hair, his peachy cheeks greeting him every morning. Without realizing it, Jeongguk has begun to become another part of Yoongi's place, and that has to end at some point.
The silent moment becomes awkward. Now that he is looking at Jeongguk, wasting his minutes before showering standing still in front of the bathroom door, he realizes that he has never really seen Jeongguk shower. Not literally, but Yoongi never knows when he has showered. Those times suddenly Jeongguk goes outside to look for Yoongi, suddenly he with his bangs wet, revealing he took a shower.
Jeongguk bites his lower lip now, turns his body, turns his back on Yoongi. Maybe he is really shy and doesn't want Yoongi's presence in front of him. Maybe that's why he unzips his jacket so slowly, hiding everything he can behind the bathroom door. Yoongi scoffs, and looks to the side, resting his ass on the table. That's why he can't live with anyone, his bathroom is so small that he can barely undress properly inside.
But it's not just that. There is something else, Yoongi sees something. Yoongi can't help looking at Jeongguk while he's undressing, see something, and then his good mood, if there was anything left, now disappears completely.
"Is that blood yours?"
Jeongguk's face can't be seen, but it's so clear he clenches his jaw. How he stops, with the yellow jacket in his hand. It is so clear that he was not sure if there were red spots on the back of his shirt as well. Jeongguk doesn't question it. He shakes his head, timid. He stops and denies, freezes, lets Yoongi see the dried blood of the back of his white T-shirt.
"What happened, Jeongguk?"
He doesn't expect an immediate response, and neither does Jeongguk give it to him. Jeongguk doesn't even look back, he just waits frozen in his place, with his jacket in his hand and his shoulders shrugged. Yoongi knew something had to push him out of his house the day Jeongguk appeared through the small metal door of his trailer.
Yoongi knows that something had to happen for Jeongguk to run away. Yoongi knows that something had to happen so Jeongguk wouldn't want to go home anymore.
"You can tell me, I'm not gonna judge you."
Yoongi knows Jeongguk is not an innocent kid. Knows, very well, that he stole, he slept in the street, he probably tricked people to keep freely wandering around. But Yoongi's not sure of what his previous life was like. Yoongi's not sure of what he had to live. What Jeongguk was, still is capable of.
There is no more time to ask anything because Jeongguk leaves. He turns around just to run to the door, glazed eyes, reddened lips for biting them or maybe for being about to cry. Yoongi swallows his sigh and lets him go, still with his ass resting on the surface of the table.
It is not something he has not lived before. Not with someone else, but with himself. The disappointment of doing something he never thought he would have to do. It's not the first time Yoongi sees someone the face of desperate, nor is it a surprise for him to see that the front of Jeongguk's T-shirt when he turns around is even more stained with dried blood.
The only thing that Yoongi cannot control is that thing that presses his lungs, a weird, aching sensation when breathing. It's that boy and his damn habit of implying that everything is going well. His serene and happy expression, his little, cute actions that don't seem to keep anything bitter behind.
And that is why Yoongi hears himself giving another sigh, even bigger, even deeper, and even more resigned. Rubbing his forehead with his still cold and smelling like soap hand.
It is not the first time that Yoongi has seen someone disappointed and embarrassed of himself, but Yoongi did not have to deal it with anyone in front of him. And maybe he shouldn't care about Jeongguk, he must not. But everything has changed since he arrived and cut his ties. Jeongguk is alone, and only Yoongi can at least get close to knowing what's going on with him.
Jeongguk may not be able to stay in this trailer with him forever, but even if Yoongi won't be honest, the boy basically saved his life. Apart from food and shelter, Yoongi still owes him some comfort.
More minutes have passed than intended when Yoongi decides to go after Jeongguk. The boy is not far. Although the place is abandoned and has no door, there is nowhere to go. Yoongi spots him about a hundred meters from the trailer, sitting on a truck tire semi buried in the dust. On his back, wearing only that white shirt. It is almost strange. It is, certainly. As Yoongi approaches, he wonders if Jeongguk never took off his jacket before for that very reason.
As Yoongi walks towards him he wonders if that is why Jeongguk never showered in front of him. He wonders for how long those blood stains were there. The cat meows somewhere in the rubble. Yoongi doesn't even bother looking.
"Hey," Yoongi starts.
Jeongguk is hugging his knees because the tire is not really a high enough seat. And in silence his answer is lost. Yoongi is going to sigh for the fifth time but contains it instead. He is not willing to fight a kid's tantrum, but he also doesn't want to be an asshole with Jeongguk now. Although he won't be honest Yoongi would have liked someone to care about him back then.
"Can I sit on your tire?"
Jeongguk looks down at the tire. It is a truck wheel but there is barely room for his ass, much less for them both. Jeongguk actually smiles a bit. Then he nods, and drags his ass to the side so Yoongi can at least rest his on the rubber, next to him.
"Don't run away from me."
"I told you I wouldn't judge you."
"Then why did you run away from me."
Jeongguk swallows and Yoongi can hear it. He's looking at his not so white sneakers, feeling helpless for something that Yoongi is not causing. He knows that feeling. Yoongi knows all the bad feelings in this world.
"I— I didn't."
"Just don't wanna talk about it."
And it's not because Yoongi feels really curious of Jeongguk's life, or because his perception of him will change.
"I can help you."
Yoongi insists because he can help him. Maybe he doesn't want to, maybe he shouldn't. But Yoongi knows that right now nobody can help Jeongguk more than him.
Jeongguk sighs, as much as Yoongi. He is nervous, his heart sounds under his ribs, not fast but powerful. Yoongi can hear every part of his body now that he is not hiding under that big yellow jacket.
"You can not."
Yoongi actually smiles a bit.
He was also stubborn back then. He was vain, and balky, and thick. Yoongi was all that because no one could help him. Jeongguk bends down to tie his shoelaces. They were not even untied.
"Things are not going well at home."
At the first statement Yoongi remains passive, and silent. He is not a psychologist, he is not a therapist, he doesn't have to really help him with his struggle, but maybe he can find out what Jeongguk needs. Return to his family, going to the hospital, a specialist. The police.
"My mother is very nice, though," he continues, small mouth when speaking. Sometimes Jeongguk seems so small he doesn't look like his true age. Sometimes Yoongi is even scared of what Jeongguk could really be. "My mother always wanted to help me. But he was different. He started to stop being nice. He was nice too at first."
Jeongguk finishes tying his shoelaces, then fiddles with the other sneaker. Undoes the laces and tie them back slowly, carefully as he speaks.
"And my mother stopped worrying about me. She was all ‘he wants the best for us, he tries his best, just listen to him, do everything he says Jeongguk, don't talk to him like that Jeongguk, stop talking Jeongguk.’ "
There is nothing more to tie, there is nothing more to fix. Jeongguk swallows and Yoongi can hear it so close. He is sitting next to him very close. He can notice that Jeongguk's heartbeats have to be painful.
"But he was still acting so mean and again and again and she was still so blind and he would continue to take advantage and I was so scared and— one day he— his face was so red and he was carrying a—"
He stops himself. The beats are so strong that they even hurt inside Yoongi's chest.
Like a puppy he turns his head towards Yoongi. His eyes are big, much bigger now. Much brighter, much darker. Much more lost.
"The blood is yours?" Yoongi asks again, louder and clearer.
And those eyes don't even flinch. Jeongguk shakes his head, and his lips purse, red and tender and scared.
Yoongi won't be honest and won't admit that he has not lived through all the bad stuff. He will not say that he is still so afraid of so many things, of people. Of what people can do and what he could do himself.
The cat meows from somewhere and Yoongi wants to shout at him.
"He was your father?"
That wouldn't change anything anyway. Yoongi can not help to erase the past, good or bad. He can not help to free Jeongguk from what they have done to him, of what he has done. Real father or not wouldn't change anything, but when Jeongguk denies again, a little pressure is deflated, relieved, inside Yoongi's chest.
He doesn't want to stir his own shit nor does he want to stir that of others. Yoongi is living in that trailer because he tries to escape his past, just like Jeongguk. He said he wouldn't judge him, and said he could help. Yoongi can't return the blood from his shirt to the owner, but he can throw away the clothes.
"Do you want to go out with me?"
Yoongi has to swallow, thickly before rephrasing the question. His chest pain is not normal. That he feels the clench of another person in his own heart is not normal at all. But everything is so different since Jeongguk appeared in his life.
"Do you feel like, I don't know," he tells Jeongguk, "going to the arcade, have some popcorn and coke?"
Of course it's not the best time to think about doing something like that, and of course Yoongi is who doesn't feel like it. And, above all, of course games and snacks is the only thing that Yoongi was not willing to spend the little money he has in the small tin box under his bed on.
"Why do you say that?"
Jeongguk asks, Yoongi is the one who looks down now. It's stupid, but somehow Yoongi just wants Jeongguk to be cheerful and complainer again as before.
"Do you want or not?"
"Yes, yes," Jeongguk quickly replies, blinking a couple of times, "yes, I want to."
If Yoongi manage it properly, they can continue to have some money for the whole week. He, he can continue to have money until Sunday. They don't have to spend so much time in that place, just a soda, just a couple of games, just a little while to forget all this. The blood, the man, the family. Only the necessary time for Jeongguk not to feel uncomfortable anymore.
"Then go and shower, come on," Yoongi suggests, tilting his head towards his trailer, watching Jeongguk stand up. "Leave your dirty clothes on the floor, I'll take care of that."
It doesn't take so long, it never does. Yoongi leaves a time until Jeongguk enters the trailer, time which he assumes the boy will have showered. He can't really clean the blood stains, he knows it well; before five T-shirts Yoongi had many more. Jeongguk can say goodbye to his white T-shirt forever.
Even so, once inside the trailer Yoongi opens the small closet next to the bed. There are three plain T-shirts, some pants. Underwear, spare laces for his boots. There are old things there, there is a shirt too. A plaid shirt, white and reddish, forgotten. The sprinkler stopped pouring water a while ago. Jeongguk does not take long to shower because water is scarce.
And when he gets out, wrapped in a towel, he's not looking so shy.
"Are you finished?"
Short steps walk out the bathroom, damp and fragile. Yoongi tries not to look.
"I've got a new shirt for you."
"It's nothing special," Yoongi says, looking sideways at Jeongguk's bare knees, "and it's not even, like, really new, but you know."
He looks so small sometimes, but in spite of everything Jeongguk is twenty years old. Twenty fucking years old yet Yoongi feels that he should worry about him as if he didn't know how to take care of himself.
"I think it'll suit you though."
"Thank you," Jeongguk says, honest.
It's just sound, Yoongi keeps his eyes on the floor. He walks back and doesn't even look up to walk. The trailer is so small for they two, he can feel the warmth that Jeongguk's just showered body still gives off. Can feel this can be awkward too for himself.
"Yeah. I'll wait for you outside."
And so he leaves, and closes the small metallic door when he does.
If he thinks twice this is not something he has done before, to allow someone enter so freely in his trailer. Let someone be naked inside, taking a shower, borrowing his clothes, eating, sleeping, living. Yoongi palpates the back pocket of his pants and picks up the pack of cigarettes.
There are not many left, he has to ration out the pack for the whole week. And under normal circumstances he would not smoke a cigarette at this time, but there is something that is getting him nervous.
It's been a while since he went up to the city, not to take a walk at least. He used to wander the streets at sunset when he first started living by himself, enjoying the sound of loneliness between the noisy streets and loud people, but he quit doing that a long time ago. Yoongi would say that he's a kind of countryside person, if there was any countryside here, and not an endless terrace of sand and dust.
He has not approached the normal urbanized civilization for a long time. Yoongi has not been in a normal, busy bar for a long time, with normal people and waiters and music and families and laughs. It's been a while, maybe never, since Yoongi went out with someone. And that is getting him stupidly nervous.
Much more when the small metal door opens, and Jeongguk leaves the trailer. Radiant, freshly washed, kind of wavy hair, hot peachy cheeks from the inside. Wearing Yoongi's plaid shirt. Wearing a shy smile that Yoongi missed.
"Sorry, I've been slow."
"No— no, it's okay."
Yoongi throws the cigar almost untouched to the ground. He is looking so different from just half an hour ago that it is moving. The boy closes the door behind him and goes down the stairs, shy, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans, his yellow jacket clumsily wrapped around his arm. He looks good.
"You look good in that shirt."
Yoongi didn't intend to say it so openly, but he hears himself before his reasoning. He has to be honest, Jeongguk is twenty years old and such a handsome boy.
More handsome even when his face is flushed and not because he just woke up. Yoongi presses his lips, but the smile that sprouts on his face inevitable. He really missed seeing something nice again.
An image so comforting that Yoongi doesn't even know if he has lived it before. But he likes it a lot, he can't stop looking at Jeongguk.
"So, where is that arcade you said?"
"Not too far from here," Yoongi responds, turning his head to his side as Jeongguk stands next to him to keep his eyes on his face. "We will return at dusk."
"I'm kind of excited, you know." Jeongguk talks as they start walking, passing under the great highway bridge, gradually climbing the path that takes them to the first neighborhood and from there to the first contact with the city. "I don't remember the last time I went to one of those places."
Yoongi does not remember either, because he never was. Never had the interest, nor the friends.
"You seem like the guy who likes video games."
"I like them," he replies, "I have a lot in my house. But I didn't go out during high school."
Not too long ago, weeks since Jeongguk walked in his trailer, since he's sleeping on his couch, but Jeongguk really doesn't say anything sustainable about his life. He speaks randomly of his days at high school, mentions the color of the blanket of his bed, jokes about people he has bumped into in the street. Yoongi doesn't ask, but it's been weeks and he only knows the Jeongguk that appeared through his door.
"I've never been there before, actually," Yoongi comments. "In that arcade."
Yoongi shakes his head at those big eyes, and finally stops looking at Jeongguk to look at the road instead.
"I've never been to an arcade."
"And how do you know it?"
In fact, although Yoongi is now practically secluded from ordinary society, Yoongi knows the streets of the city better than many of the citizens. They have been heavy, long years of looking for a life. They have been difficult, cold months entering anywhere, doing anything to gain some bills.
"I did some work there."
Jeongguk swallows before speaking, harshly, and his voice changes.
It can really be anything, although Yoongi won't admit it. Not because he is really ashamed of himself at this point, but he is ashamed now in front of Jeongguk for the things he had to do back then.
"I helped to paint the facade of the property."
Thank god that job wasn't one of those jobs.
It's still early, but the sky is cloudy and it seems that it's later. The mood is good, but there is something bitter that occasionally comes to the surface. Jeongguk never seems to judge him, even though he complains about his lifestyle, he is really honest with Yoongi. Even so Yoongi fears.
"Do you like sports, Jeongguk?"
Yoongi changes the subject. He doesn't care what others think of him, but there is something that has changed with Jeongguk.
"I like them, but I never really got to practice any."
"Well, there's a basketball court around here in this neighborhood," Yoongi says, pointing to one of the streets on the left. "People are not bad, you can come and play for a while."
Yoongi has not been going and playing for a while since long ago, but it can still work for Jeongguk. He seems like a boy with vitality, and he doesn't deserve to spend his days fixing the trailer's joints, doing laundry and staining his sneakers with mud.
"I don't know, I'm not too good at making friends," Jeongguk responds.
"You don't have to be friends necessarily, just play with them."
"I'm not too good at getting close to people."
"You entered my house without knowing me."
"I thought there was no one inside."
Yoongi should have that moment blurred, like many of his beatings moments, yet he still remembers the sound of Jeongguk's steps and his voice appearing out of nowhere.
"And what were you supposed to do in there, huh?"
After all, although Yoongi knows the Jeongguk who lives in his trailer, he really doesn't know why he is living there even.
"I don't know, I was just curious."
And after all, having this useless conversation is something that Yoongi has already learned. Jeongguk won't tell him, and Yoongi almost guesses. He wants to think that the day Jeongguk arrived at his trailer is the same day he left home, and that he didn't have to spend many more days sleeping in the street.
Although the blood now changes everything. That man, the memories that Jeongguk has. If he ran away from home for that reason, then that same day that Jeongguk untied Yoongi his shirt was already stained red.
"Around this corner," Yoongi turns, quickly entering a crowded street.
It's so strange, so new again to get into the city. So weird to be walking next to someone who is wearing his own old plaid shirt.
Many steps of similar conversation bring them closer to their destination. The site is not too big, but nothing that doesn't surprise Jeongguk. He is literally with his biggest smile when they enter, with his eyes full of stars. Yoongi looks at him and Jeongguk bites with his front teeth the smile on his lower lip, excited and looking so happy.
He may not have too much money to spend, but for now getting up this morning was worth it.
"What do you want to do first?"
"You like that?"
"Who doesn't?" Jeongguk answers, looking everywhere for car games. "Air hockey is fine, but sitting in front of that wheel, you can almost feel that you're in a real racing car."
His voice mixes with the music and sounds of the games as Jeongguk walks to the machines leaving Yoongi behind. People go everywhere, laugh, shout, compete with each other. The neon lights, the flashes, the shots; It is an scene to which Yoongi really doesn't belong, but he doesn't feel uncomfortable either. Jeongguk looks happy, and for now that helps.
"Hyung," he shouts from a distance, pointing to two empty car seats in front of two large screens, "how about this one?"
"Choose the game you want."
"I choose this then."
Yoongi approaches and puts his hand on one of the seats. It's a hard and bright material, like new, surrounded by lights and music and voices of actors that barely differentiate in the racket. It is not so cheap to start playing. Yoongi looks at the start signal of the machine and feels that he really appreciates his money.
"Hey," he says, his eyes on the red LED, "what if you go for something to drink first?"
"And popcorn, you said?"
Yoongi doesn't know whether to start regretting all this. That's why he refuses to look at Jeongguk and his problematic innocent face, just in case.
"Yeah, sure, popcorn too."
It's all so different, so fucking complicated. Jeongguk takes the money Yoongi gives him and jumps towards the bar. It had been so long since Yoongi had no interest in anything, in doing something good for someone. Interest in doing something good in general. While he makes sure that he has enough money to play a couple of games in this racing place Yoongi feels that it has been so long since he was this way.
Benevolent, receptive. He didn't have the need, he literally lives alone. He coexists with himself, day and night. But now everything has changed, just a few weeks ago, or more, Yoongi lost count of the days. Now he opens the can of food for two, makes rice for two. He resigns and holds conversations. He works and lets someone else help him.
Jeongguk is picking up the order. He looks so happy, so euphoric almost, and that makes Yoongi want to do all this. It has been so long since Yoongi felt anything good inside, and now, somehow, although there is still an inner little voice in his head that tells him that he should not trust anything good that could happen, he wants to comfort Jeongguk for today.
There will be fewer bills when he get home, at most, but he may not have nightmares tonight. Yoongi would end up spending his money on something worse, for sure.
Jeongguk was picking up the order but he doesn't come back. Yoongi turns his gaze to the bar, now the waiter attending the next person in line. Jeongguk is not there, but neither is he coming. Yoongi keeps the money in his pocket and looks around, searches along the road of people for the boy with the cokes and the popcorns. It's a bitch, when you're looking for someone among the people and it's precisely when your sense of sight suddenly doesn't work.
Yoongi ends up spotting him, long and, strangely suffocating seconds later. But Jeongguk is not alone.
The image is taking shape as Yoongi walks towards them. There are three boys, about the age of Jeongguk, forming a line in front of him as if Jeongguk was the show. The arcade soundtrack and the people talking make Yoongi barely hear the conversation even when he's close.
"Do you know she keeps paying your enrollment?"
"And your whole family thinks you're dead."
"That's not true!"
Jeongguk's voice is high-pitched, tightly squeezing the popcorn so that none falls to the ground.
"My mother was so worried and doesn't even know you."
"But— I have nothing to do with your family."
"Everyone in class says that your stepfather killed himself because of you."
Yoongi's intrusion cuts the conversation for a moment. He puts a hand on Jeongguk's shoulder and feels how he tenses under him, bristling, like a cat. Jeongguk does not look back. He can't look away from some indefinite place between those boys' shoulders and faces, without having real eye contact. But Yoongi does.
He looks at one of them when they look at him. Still slight scars on his face, not too fancy clothes, not to perfect hairstyle. Those boys look at Yoongi and their eyes on Jeongguk change drastically.
"This is what you have become now? You're a homeless punk now? Then go to the police and say the truth so this bullshit is over."
It doesn't really offend Yoongi, because he really looks like that, whatever it is for those guys. He has been called worse things, he has been insulted and spit. He is, still, feared and disappointing, and somehow he lives and deals with it. But it is so different, so difficult if they are saying that to Jeongguk.
Even more so if Yoongi can feel that Jeongguk is scared of those guys. Jeongguk says nothing, remains still, tense, slightly moving his lips as he tries to say something but he has no words to reply. Just embarrassment, just awkwardness.
"Come on, say something," the guy says, but this time he takes a step forward, this time he not only speaks but raises a hand and slaps Jeongguk in the face.
Not an actual slap, more like a push. Not something that hurts, not something that makes Jeongguk more than feel ridiculous, just an awful gesture to get his attention.
"Hey," Yoongi says, gets their attention.
Yoongi doesn't want to get in trouble. He doesn't want to get anywhere, much less getting involved in other people's issues, but he's not an idiot either. And his instincts work perfectly.
"We're leaving this conversation, okay?" Yoongi tries to put an end, serious.
His left hand is grabbing Jeongguk's shoulder, but the boy still doesn't move. The eyes of the other guys now are placed on Yoongi again, each one with a different expression on their faces.
"I am not talking to you, man." The guy tells Yoongi. Now, the step forward is towards him.
"You are talking to Jeongguk and I am with Jeongguk," replies Yoongi.
Everyone around them is still so oblivious, so loud, so cheerful. One of the guy's friends speaks to him behind his shoulder.
"Dude, don't mess with him."
"Why, do you think he is a thug?" The guy answers, eyes fixed on Yoongi. "I have to be scared of a guy of his height just because he looks like a criminal? Fuck me."
He's almost Yoongi's height, but he guesses the point. Yoongi doesn't want to get in trouble and he doesn't usually do it. He, in fact, never initiates them. If he has ever had problems, if he had problems with those guys on his trailer, it's because they went to look for him.
But it's true that problems only came to him, to Yoongi, not to anyone else under his responsibility. It's true that Yoongi has had to deal with his problems, but not with anyone else's. Not with Jeongguk's.
"No, I'm not listening to you," the guy replies. "I am talking to the boy who killed his stepfather."
It's too fast for Yoongi to realize before it happens. He listen to the words, clenches his teeth around the sound. Looks at Jeongguk, just slightly to the side, looks at him to make sure he's taking it easy, to make sure it doesn't really hurt him. But it does, sure it does. It's too fast for Yoongi to stop Jeongguk before he shuts that guy up.
With his fist instead.
"Hey— Jeongguk!" Yells Yoongi, and tries to grab him before it happens, but it happens.
The ice cubes crash against the shiny floor, the sparkling liquid, a rain of sweet popcorn against the face of everyone who is watching.
"What the fuck you think—"
"Shut up, you know nothing!" Jeongguk shouts, suddenly too wrenching.
He pounces on that guy and they try to charge back but he's almost unstoppable, blindly enraged against the guy who told so. He doesn't really hit him anymore, he grabs the guy, his clothes, tries to push him out of his sight, or shove him, get into a fight, Yoongi isn't sure, everything is too fast and Jeongguk too aggressive.
"Jeongguk, Jeongguk, hey, stop," Yoongi tries and finally grips his arms back, keeps him against him as he manages to separate the both of them, and so Jeongguk from the group. "Fuck, stop."
They are not alone in this place. They are not hidden, they are being judged by thousands of eyes, scared and disappointed faces of families and teenagers. They have been isolated in an empty circle among the crowd and several workers are approaching to end the brawl or kick them out.
"You don't fucking—!"
"Jeongguk, listen to me."
Yoongi knows that it is a matter of seconds that they have to run away, or apologize, maybe give them some money, maybe they have broken something, maybe they have pushed someone during the fight, maybe he has to stand up again for things he wants to stay away from.
"But he is not— he is lying—!"
Yoongi knows that although Jeongguk is hyperventilating, writhing under his hands, he has to stop him and get out of there.
"He doesn't fucking—" heaves.
His hands grab the boy's face, keep him staring into his eyes, at Yoongi's friendliest possible expression for the moment.
"Fuck, Jeongguk, calm down, okay?" Yoongi repeats, again and again to the rhythm of the babble of Jeongguk, who could come out again after that guy, or burst in tears instead. "Are you calm?"
His head is trembling, his whole body. Yoongi presses his thumbs on his temples.
"Are you calm, Jeongguk?"
"Yes," makes him say, the world chewed, so tight.
"I want you to be really calm."
He's not, but could be worse. Jeongguk's voice is tight, Yoongi's palms squeezing his face to keep him steady looking at him only. People speak so loudly behind them, the voices of the other boys, the laughter, the criticisms, the workers trying to get their attention.
"Let's go now," Yoongi orders.
He doesn't give time to anything else, he doesn't have time for Jeongguk to move on his own, Yoongi grabs his wrist tightly, painfully, and makes his way through the people towards the exit. Too many lights, too many looks, too many voices of the workers behind them to blame them for what has happened.
Yoongi arrives at the exit door and pushes it and takes a big breath of polluted air as he feels that the world starts to fall as low as back then.
His grip is strong and painful and Yoongi knows it but he doesn't care, he keeps walking, running away.
He just wants to get somewhere in the street where there are none of those people watching him. He just wants to go back to his hiding place, to his trailer, to his solitude, Yoongi doesn't want to go through insults and beatings and scars again.
Yoongi is so scared.
His steps stop abruptly. They are so far from the arcade that the street is almost empty. And his fingers so sore, Jeongguk's face so reddened when he looks at him. His cheeks wet because he has shed tears.
"Sorry— I didn't mean that."
He didn't want to silence Jeongguk, but the remorse of his head. Yoongi was so used to pain, physical and mental suffering, to blows, to burns, to the cracked back of his hands, to the painful nerves in his head. He was so used to it but since Jeongguk arrived now everything is so fucking difficult again.
"No. It's me who's sorry," Jeongguk tells him.
A ironic laugh scapes Yoongi's mouth, between his teeth. He rubs his forehead, pushes Jeongguk towards the wall so they move away from the middle of the sidewalk. It's still early, they got to do nothing in that place.
"Why would you be sorry, Jeongguk. Those guys were mean to you."
"But—," Jeongguk is not looking up, as disappointed of himself as scared to close his eyes because of them tears will continue to flow. "I dropped the popcorns to the floor."
"Fuck the popcorns."
It's still making a loud sound, the heartbeat of Jeongguk through his ribs and clothes. Yoongi can hear them, feel them in time with his own racing heart. He has seen himself in many situations like that, Yoongi has seen himself in arguings, in fights, in hard and harder scenes, but never from that perspective. He doesn't know Jeongguk's life before he reached his trailer, but he didn't want to see the Jeongguk he knows involved in something like that.
And he is not responsible for the boy, and he doesn't even have to care about him, and he might simply not have come to the arcade in the first place.
"Just forget it, okay?"
But his life is so different since Jeongguk exists in it. Stupidly, and awkwardly.
"Okay?" Yoongi insists.
Jeongguk nods, crestfallen. That could have been just an argument, but they both know that what that guy has said is important to Jeongguk. True or false, any of those things no longer really matter. The Jeongguk that entered his trailer is now Yoongi's business, and no one else's.
The way back home begins minutes of silence later, and remains equally silent. Longer than the way there, colder. The sound of cars is louder, the noise from the construction sites even more irritating. Yoongi looks at Jeongguk a couple of times to check that he is still there, walking beside him. And tries not to, but blames himself for the stupid idea of an arcade would heal Jeongguk's wounds.
They are even deeper now. They are bleeding after those guys rub them open.
Time passes slowly, but the days begin to be darker, almost nighttime all the time. Winter is ahead. The worst moments Yoongi has lived have been in winter. For the overwhelming heat, he has a small battery fan in his trailer. For winter, he has nothing but a blanket and body heat. And his loneliness, is sometimes so heavy during the coldest season.
And it is certainly cold when they get there. Under the highway bridge, under the sound of cars that seem to flee from the city. Jeongguk hasn't opened his mouth all the way, neither did Yoongi.
"I told you to forget it."
The interior of his mobile home is now quieter than ever between word and word, considering that Yoongi lived alone.
"Then what the hell is going on."
What is happening is that Jeongguk is sitting on his couch. Happens that Yoongi threw himself on his bed, too early to sleep but his stomach too tight or to get anything inside. It happens that the boy still doesn't speak, after having been more than half an hour in silence, and that Yoongi begins to hate being so alone.
The cat meows from the outside. Jeongguk ignores him. Yoongi tilts his head up to look at him.
"So why are you mad at me?"
He is completely looking like he is mad. Yoongi clicks his tongue, gives a great, slow sigh. Before all this he just sighed for him. He just had to deal with his problems, he just had to think about how miserable his own life was.
"It's just— you're an idiot."
The statement causes Yoongi to raise his eyebrows, fallen eyelids. Rather amused.
Yoongi ends by getting up, looks at Jeongguk sitting on the edge of his bed instead. The cat keeps meowing, as if he feels something is happening inside.
"Because you paid for the popcorn. And the coke. And I spoiled everything and we couldn't eat any of those and, you took me to the arcade and I— those guys—"
It's a loud, sarcastic laugh, rather a scoff, which interrupts Jeongguk. Yoongi feels so good for being here finally in his trailer, alone, with Jeongguk, and not in that ugly street, full of strange and ugly people. Full of things that can hurt Jeongguk. That would be certainly quite annoying.
His voice is small. He looks so small inside his big yellow jacket when he sits; grabbing his own fingers, looking at his socks. At least he has the decency now to enter the trailer as if this is a house. At least he has nothing to hide underneath it.
Yoongi thinks that his neck should hurt from muscle tension, because of the tantrum. Because the disappointment. It takes a few long seconds, but Jeongguk ends up forgetting his feet to lift his head. And what he finds is Yoongi's face, serious, lazy, and his hand stretched out towards him.
A hum, and a silent nod. Perhaps that's not even a solution, actually it is nothing, just a distraction, just to change the subject. But Jeongguk gets up from the couch. And Yoongi thinks Jeongguk's hand fits so well with his as their finger unintentionally interlace. His palm so soft, compared with Yoongi's rough, ripped ones.
"Seriously, forget it. I don't care, it wasn't too much."
It was a lot for Yoongi to waste it that way, and maybe he care about it tomorrow, but now Yoongi is telling the truth. Jeongguk gets closer, and Yoongi has to shift on the bed so they both can lay. Slowly, before he has to let his hand go. Jeongguk doesn't seem to really forget the issue, but his face kind of changes. He takes off the jacket, drops it and stills against the edge of the bed for a little, looking down, at himself and his borrowed shirt.
Yoongi thinks he has to get him some pajamas. As well as he did with Jeongguk's toothbrush and underwear. Yoongi thinks that, at this point, he should already consider that Jeongguk actually lives there, therefore he should have his own few belongings. They return to silence, but it is a much quieter silence. It's a silence that invites comfort and relaxation.
They lie quietly, staring at the ceiling, and somehow Yoongi starts feeling sleepy. It's dark outside but it's early to sleep, yet everything is turned off. The cat went silent long ago. Jeongguk's breathing became peaceful from the moment he put his head on the pillow.
He, certainly, fell asleep. It's even darker when Yoongi opens his eyes, a sudden noise in his mind. He has no more clocks than his old watch and the sky. Right now he doesn't know what time it is, and although years have passed through his unconscious mind he has slept only forty minutes. Yoongi sighs, almost thrilled, overwhelmed at having woken up.
Jeongguk is still at his side, in a fetal position in his bed, asleep too. It wasn't time to sleep but they didn't want to continue living that day, as a nonverbal contract. Even so it is weakly illuminated, clear enough inside to see the situation. And Jeongguk. If Yoongi had been told that he would have a runaway kid sleeping in his bed just a month ago, he would certainly have laughed.
Because he is, certainly, asleep. Yoongi yawns and rubs his eyes for a moment, then puts his head on the pillow again, in a more comfortable position. Big open eyes now he's aware he is awake. Lying facing Jeongguk now he knows the boy is asleep.
A twenty-years-old runaway kid, sleeping on his blanket. Wearing his old plaid shirt better, much better than he does. Reddish, white, soft tones. Buttoned almost to his neck because he has nothing else to put under it. Yoongi should get him a new white T-shirt too. Yoongi could get him many things now that Jeongguk is living there with him, he doesn't really care.
It's not a matter of money, just finding some job to get it. He has already done it many times for himself, and for the only thing that has served is to feed him and get him high enough to sleep. Now he could make something else, something good. He can fix a lost life, he can make Jeongguk happy with so little; Yoongi lost that feeling a long time ago and now it seems that somehow it grows inside him again.
Jeongguk looks calm. With his eyelashes brushing his cheeks, puffy against the pillow. His bangs falling gracefully down his eyebrows. His hair has grown longer since he first stepped on this place, Yoongi can remember. Yoongi fundamentally remembers all the moments he has spent with Jeongguk now. It's the only thing that doesn't bother inside his head.
He is something nice for Yoongi, after so long. His face is nice, his expression of tranquility. His presence, having Jeongguk next to him, Yoongi kind of likes it. He likes it. He likes to see him, he likes to talk to him, he likes it when Jeongguk addresses him. Hyung this, hyung that. Look, hyung, what I found. It's so precious everything he says along the day. So precious the way he speaks words.
Yoongi takes a paused breath. Jeongguk is so precious himself. The way he can now open his eyes wide, and appreciate beauty within this gasoline and dust dump. He appreciates Jeongguk's presence, and Jeongguk seems not to mind about Yoongi's either.
The air stops running through his lungs for a thick second. Yoongi really wouldn't mind to get closer, and see him better. He could tell what the real color of his lips is right now. He could get really close, and share that peaceful breathing. He could rub his nose with his, could feel his Cupid's bow. Yoongi could do something else. He could kiss Jeongguk and remember how, after so much time. Yoongi could let Jeongguk remind him how to kiss.
"Are you watching me sleep?"
Yoongi hears his heart stop.
"You were looking at me."
"Yeah, I'm seeing you."
"It's just—" Yoongi clicks his tongue, pretends to be annoyed even though his heart is so petrified that no organ of his body is working properly. "You— you were with your eyes open, I thought you were looking at me for a second."
"Really? Do I sleep with my eyes open, hyung?"
Jeongguk was supposed to be asleep. Yoongi was not supposed to be thinking those things while Jeongguk is awake. He shouldn't be thinking about Jeongguk like that in the first place.
"The hell I know, just go sleep again."
It's so fast when Yoongi rolls, turns to the other side, joining his legs and body in a knot of shame. The color of his cheeks must be dark, thank God neither Jeongguk nor himself can see him.
"But that's weird, I didn't know." Jeongguk keeps talking from behind. "Nobody ever told me that I had sleep habits."
"Forget about that too."
"I was asleep I think, I woke up at some point but I did not open my eyes consciously."
It's so embarrassing that his voice is so serious looking for a defense. Although Jeongguk doesn't think he's weird, even if he keeps babbling over his eyelids. It's so embarrassing now the simple fact that Jeongguk is in his bed, and that Yoongi is trying to sleep next to him. He knows he's not going to be able to do it for many hours.
And, certainly, the minutes go so tortuously slow. Yoongi can't hear the ticking of his watch but feels it like a pounding in his chest, second by second. If he could at least have his body relaxed for a moment. If Yoongi had been told that he would have been thinking of kissing that runaway kid, he would certainly have laughed a lot.
Jeongguk's voice is smaller, and weaker, as if trying to sleep already. Behind Yoongi's back, and every time, closer. It lays against his back, warm, a whisper. But they are alone in the trailer, there's not more sound than themselves.
"I don't care if you look at me while I sleep," Jeongguk finishes. Whispers. Makes sure Yoongi knows.
Yoongi won't be able to sleep for hours, and his body is so tense. But pretends he's asleep already.
It's kind of overwhelming, and still so hot inside the trailer because now there are two people breathing the same air. But it's not so bad to wake up, not so painful. Yoongi just fell asleep fours hours ago, nevertheless he feels rested. He feels almost content when he wakes up, and hears, feels Jeongguk is sleeping by his side. Behind his back, just as he left him. Yoongi slept so few hours his body didn't even move an inch.
His rutin, even so, does not change. This already changed enough when a certain boy entered his trailer on a bad day. Yoongi, like every morning, gives a big sigh in his bed, this time looking at one of the walls. He rubs his face with his hands, makes a superhuman effort to get up from the mattress.
He takes off his shirt, washes his face and wets his neck, his hair. Goes outside, hears a cat meowing. It has been relatively few days, but a second eternity for Yoongi. A second path, a second chance. Yoongi lights his morning cigarette, lets the tar and carbon monoxide dye his lungs. If he had been told a month ago that he would ever be thinking about this, the Yoongi of the past would have laughed. But now he feels almost excited.
Feels nice to think about a changing course. He thinks about asking for help for once, let himself be helped. Yoongi is thinking about finding some new job, thinks of something clean enough not to talk to those junk guys again. Yoongi thinks that maybe Jeongguk could really work for some of those jobs too. He got it much earlier, and much more apathetic. Jeongguk still wants to live, and unconsciously he is giving life to Yoongi too.
Yoongi takes a drag on his cigarette, and thinks about getting a new towel. Thinks about the color of the new mug. He thinks he will have to give up half of his alcohol bottles to save some money, and that doesn't bother him so much now.
Thinks of Jeongguk when the red hot end of the cigarette touches the soil in the ground. Yoongi thinks he really wants the boy to be awake, and so he goes back to the trailer.
"Good morning, hyung."
His voice sounds so low and lazy and warm. At first Yoongi felt so relaxed, but when he goes inside and Jeongguk greets him he has to blink and move his look away. The stupid thoughts of the previous night are still present, though not of his own free will. They were impulsive, and maybe they should stay locked up in the farthest side of his mind. Jeongguk's puffy cheek against the pillow. His long eyelashes, his peaceful breathing. The shape of his lips. The vague possibility of tasting them.
Maybe out of shame of his own life, maybe because he wasn't really interested, but it is the first time in all these years that Yoongi has someone in his bed. If he is honest that's not really the way he imagined it would be.
"Have you had breakfast? I'm hungry."
In the dark Yoongi puts on his shirt, Yoongi sighs and hides it.
It has been the same every day, the same voice and the same question. Back then, it was annoying, then it became pleasant. Now, Yoongi tries it doesn't get him nervous. Yoongi tries to take advantage of the hopeful feeling he woke up with this morning, tries to push away other darker feelings. Tries to treasure Jeongguk the way he deserves.
"I can go get something for you."
"What you have here is fine," Jeongguk replies, still rubbing his eyes from the bed.
Blue light enters through the window when Yoongi pulls away the small curtain.
"I only have coffee."
Automatically, and at the sound of the lazy movements of Jeongguk Yoongi works in the kitchen, at the small counter with sink and stove burner.
"You don't like coffee."
He heats water, fixes his eyes on his hands, he cleans the surface of the counter as if it was dirty.
"I want to get used to it."
Jeongguk really doesn't deserve anything bad. Yoongi felt so bothered, he felt invaded and annoyed when the boy used to show up back then. He wanted to be alone, isolated, he needed it, he needed his life to remain static and calm because it was the only good thing he had. Now, Yoongi, really sees another path.
"We can get chocolate milk if you prefer."
"Seriously, I want to get used to coffee." Jeongguk gets up, Yoongi doesn't move his face. He can glimpse the little steps of the boy, from the bed to the hallway where the kitchen is. "It's so cool when you drink it."
Yoongi can see that he is still wearing his plaid shirt, and makes him want to smile.
"It's not cool, it just keeps me a little more awake."
"It is, you look cool."
"Do I look cool?"
"Yeah. You always look cool."
An ugly and incessant whistle lets them know that the water is already hot. Yoongi stops for a few seconds, grimaces before pouring it into the mug.
"I thought this place looked horrible to you."
It has only been days, weeks, but it has been an eternity for Yoongi. It has been a whole accumulation of sensations, of conversations. New data in his head. He has only spent a few weeks with Jeongguk but he has memories with him already.
"It's comfy. And kind of... cute. If you don't demand much."
The Yoongi of the past would really be surprised, and perhaps disappointed. The Yoongi of the present cannot avoid give himself up to Jeongguk, can't help but curl his lips up, the slightest. The mug fills, black and hot, spitting steam in front of Yoongi. None of this is cool. Neither drink cheap coffee, nor his home, nor his appearance. Nothing Yoongi does, has to do is cool, nothing Yoongi lacks is cool.
"I'm trying to compliment you, idiot." It has been only a few seconds, but Jeongguk's voice is so close when Yoongi realizes. It's literally by his side. Jeongguk has walked towards Yoongi, and now rubs Yoongi's T-shirt with the sleeve of his shirt. "But I mean it. I like it here."
A gentle hand slips around his waist, between his arms, grabs the mug and brings it to Yoongi's only table. His body is completely frozen for a moment. Yoongi is not used to this, he never was. He never had the opportunity, not even in his childhood, nor a chink in his memories. He has been called many things, but never something like that. Jeongguk sits down, and takes a sip, Yoongi can hear the sound of his throat swallowing. Hard, because it is bitter. Yoongi has been called many things but nobody has ever wanted to compliment him.
"Do you want to share the coffee?"
Yoongi feels really good today.
"We should get another mug," Jeongguk suggests.
"Yeah, we should."
Even so, Yoongi doesn't turn around, his palms against the counter. There is something in Jeongguk, something he had never perceived before. There is something in his voice, something in his eyes, in the color of his cheeks. In his actions, in his words. There is something that somehow overwhelms Yoongi, if he looks at Jeongguk for a long time. Something he didn't know could happen, because it never happens. Something that Yoongi is not willing to face, and something he has to stop before it's too late.
The image lasts only thousandths, when he finally looks back, but Yoongi will keep it in his memories forever. A boy sitting in his chair, a boy drinking his coffee. The same boy who has been sleeping in his trailer for so many days. The same boy who stares back when Yoongi says his name, big and bright and attentive.
"Thank you for yesterday."
His voice is innocent, soft, like the first day. Like the first time Yoongi saw him, like the first words Jeongguk said. He knows that he is not. He knows that Jeongguk has not had the best life, he knows that he has done bad, possibly horrible things. He knows that Jeongguk is just as innocent as himself.
Even so, Yoongi also knows that this is the real Jeongguk. Not his old house's, not his school's. Yoongi knows that he knows the real Jeongguk, because, one day, that one ran away and entered his trailer. The image is so precious to him, and will live a lifetime in Yoongi's mind. But it only lingers in reality barely thousandths, only until they both hear a noise outside, and this time it is not a meow.
"What is that?" Jeongguk asks.
It's a sound that Yoongi has already heard before. Knows well what it is. Yoongi takes big steps and locks the door.
"Get your shoes. Don't move until I tell you."
"What is it?"
Yoongi stills in his place, doesn't move a finger either, not an inch of his body, just his pupils inside the cavities of his eyes, from side to side, trying to concentrate, focus on something. Another noise sounds, and this time it's clear what it is. Jeongguk almost jumps out of the chair when he realizes that someone from outside has just hit the trailer. Hyung. Yoongi silences him before the word comes out of his mouth. He has to make sure they can't hear Jeongguk.
"There's a trapdoor," he says, so quietly, still so slow, pointing to one side of the room, "under the bed." Heavy steps sound from the outside, surrounding the trailer. Yoongi turns his head slowly towards Jeongguk, holding the most calmed of his faces. He takes just the necessary steps to get closer to him, and grabs a wooden box from the shelf next to his side of the bed. "Move the bed and get out the trailer in silence."
Another big knock sounds, this time against the door. And his name. Min Yoongi, voices shout, open the door Min Yoongi, they repeat. Yoongi feels he has no air in his lungs, he feels they are going to know about Jeongguk. Feels that he should have been aware of this.
"Go down the trapdoor."
He just tells that to Jeongguk, and hands him the wooden box, presses it against his ribs.
"But—, you— and, what I—"
"Go down the damn trapdoor and stay there hidden."
They are not respectful knocks, those people don't tend to be polite. They do not intend to ask permission to enter, they know they can do whatever they want.
The metal door holds closed while Jeongguk runs to move the bed, making a small square door appear on the floor. The blows continue, the shouts, the names, the insults, the insistence, the lack of patience. Yoongi looks at the door handle, at the bolt he hopes to endure the violent movements.
"Get the fuck out of there Min Yoongi!"
He heard that voice before.
"Open the fucking door you fucking faggot!"
He heard the blows, the heard the rough breathings.
"We gonna kick this shit down I fucking swear!"
Yoongi was nervous when it happened, and when it happened a second time, that one even worse. But this time, Yoongi is not really nervous about him. This time it could be much, much worse if those guys know there is someone else with him. Yoongi watches Jeongguk open the trapdoor, watches him lower his head and find what's underneath.
The tires, the gas and water tank, the cylinders, the rears, the hydraulic converter. A way out, the soil under it.
"Make sure they don't see you," whispers Yoongi.
And they yell his name, they yell other things. They bang the metallic wall, they kick the door, they curve the material.
"Are you listening to me? Make sure they don't hear you."
"Fuck, I'm listening."
"Go and close the trapdoor."
Yoongi grabs the bed, ready to place it over the square slit, forces Jeongguk to close it. The incessant noise doesn't stop now either, and something else sounds, like a screw falling to the floor, most probably from the bolt. Yoongi takes a breath and holds it tight in his lungs. He just needs Jeongguk to disappear from the scene.
It happens so fast. The bed dragging on the floor, the door abruptly opening. Yoongi on his knees, the boots of the guys staining of mud and dust the clean floor of his trailer. There is no oral greeting, just a punch in the cheekbone, one of many more. Yoongi stops listening for a few frightening seconds, a horrible ringing leaving him momentarily deaf, but prays that Jeongguk has left the trailer.
"You think I'm a fucking asshole, is that so?" One of them says.
Yoongi prays that it is fast, even if it's painful. Prays that those guys break his face if that makes them leave as soon as possible.
"Living nicely as if nothing had happened? As if I wasn't going to be watching?"
Another punch arrives but this time at his ribs. Yoongi has regained his sense of hearing by then, and coughs, slowly, so hard, so difficult. He should have left when he had the chance. He should have fix the tire and get some fuel, he should have driven away before Jeongguk and the cat came back.
"Take him out," says one guy to another. Yoongi is no longer watching.
Between two of them they lift him, barefoot, drag him through the trailer until they reach the door, and carry him down the stairs. Yoongi already hears, but his head is still somewhere else, still trying to stay conscious. There have only been two hits, but the hits in the movies hurt much less than in real life. Little by little he manages to breathe normally, so Yoongi can check there are four of those men.
His socks are full of dirt when they lift him and press him against the wheel, the blow he receives on the head against the metal wall leaving a loud sound.
It is a suggestion, rather an order to the other guy who walks around. The other goes down the stairs to the ground, stands again in front of Yoongi again.
"I'm going to fuck your life until I get the double of what you tricked me, you get that?"
Another sudden blow comes to one of Yoongi's sides, not even ordered. The guys who hold him are hurting him so bad, Yoongi is hung from his own shoulders twenty centimeters off the ground. But he is alone. They think that he is alone, and is now the only thing that occupies Yoongi's mind.
"You are going to see my fucking face and my fist in your nose until I get my damn money back."
They think that there is no one else with him, that nobody has stepped on this place. Yoongi doesn't even want to imagine what those guys would do to Jeongguk if they found out. He doesn't want to imagine what they will do to him, but inevitably he already knows. That's why is useless to talk, useless to say a word.
And somehow that annoys the guy equally, because after the worst of his faces he punches Yoongi in the face, causing his other cheek to crash against the trailer wall. Something is already broken, his skin, some bone of his face. Yoongi presses his lips as he tries to breath. Runs his tongue over the edge of his teeth, hopes it is not a molar what broke.
"I can't find anything."
"I can't find shit here."
It really takes him to another place, his mind, the sound, the vision. Yoongi takes a deep breath and tries to return, tries to lift his head. Tries to open his eyes, tries not to look to the side, to the other wheel, under the trailer. Tries to make Jeongguk go unnoticed.
"Turn everything upside down."
"I did, but there's no fucking money in there."
The guy's growl is so ugly, so loud, it makes Yoongi stay conscious. He is not having fun with this, he is as fucked up as Yoongi is. He may also have someone to beat him up if he comes to his place empty-handed.
"Where is the fucking money, Yoongi."
But Yoongi won't speak.
"Where is it, give me the fucking money!"
Both know that he will not. Yoongi looks the guy in the eye, and spits in his face, mostly blood. Yoongi will not say a single word. They will not find the money. They will not find neither the wooden box nor Jeongguk.
Another punch, and a couple of birds fly after the trailer with the sound of the clumsy fall. The thugs let Yoongi fall to the ground unintentionally, adding damage to the blow. He writhes on the ground, tries to get up but is useless, his face full of blood and sand, open wounds and dirt. The guy kicks him, once, twice, Yoongi closes his eyes.
He has already lived this. He is used to the bad taste in his mouth, to the laughter and the shouting, to the insults, to the rage. Yoongi is accustomed to pain, helplessness, injustice. Yoongi is used to being afraid. Afraid of sleeping at night, afraid of opening the door. Fear of people, of everyone he sees, everyone who speaks to him.
He was so afraid until a boy with a big, yellow jacket appeared through his door.
"What do we do now?"
There is no money, or anything valuable in his trailer, Yoongi knows it too. They could tear down the place, they could break everything and still they wouldn't get what they want. That's why they left him breathing last time, that's why they didn't let Yoongi drive away from here for a while.
The guy doesn't growl anymore. The guy laughs, tired, disappointed and so arrogant, so horrible his face when Yoongi opens his eyes to him.
"I'm tired of this rat."
And there is something Yoongi is not used to. Something he didn't see before, something he didn't hear before. The guy searches with his hands in his pants, in the back pocket, and pulls out a large knife that is almost impossible for it to have been hanging there without being seen.
"You gonna kill him?" One of them asks.
They speak quietly, as if it is nothing. Yoongi listens quietly, as if it is nothing. He is not used to it, but he cannot fear more than he already does. Silently the guy looks at the knife, then looks at Yoongi from above. Dirty, bloody, beaten, as they always see him. So small on the ground, so helpless yet so silent and stubborn. The guy looks at the knife and grabs Yoongi's hair to lift him harshly towards him. Yoongi hears his own heartbeats inside his ears.
The place is silenced by another voice. Weaker, smaller. A voice that none of them knows, only Yoongi.
"Please," Jeongguk says. Pleads. "Don't do that."
Yoongi closes his eyes tightly, so much that they almost sink forever. He could cry, but the only liquid inside his body now is dark red. He should not be seen. Jeongguk should not be in this place.
"Who is the kid now?"
"What the fuck?"
"Jeongguk, run!" Yoongi tells him.
His voice is so weak but still so clear to Jeongguk.
"Hyung, they are going to—"
"No, they won't, just run!"
One of the guys leaves Yoongi and approaches the place where the voice comes from, the place where Jeongguk has been hiding all this time, witnessing the scene. Witnessing the blows, the kicks, the blood, the insults.
"Who is he?!"
"Fuck, Jeongguk, run!"
"I said run!!"
The guy lifts Yoongi up tightly by the hair and punches him before he says anything else, before Jeongguk starts running from his hiding place towards the highway bridge. He surrounds them and one of them starts chasing him, too heavy to reach the head-start of Jeongguk.
"Run!!" Yoongi can repeat, as his last breath, echoing in each of the dead trucks in front of his trailer. "Run and don't fucking come back!!"
It's a kick in the head what silences his yelling. Yoongi loses consciousness for a few seconds, before hearing the guys run after Jeongguk, before they realize that the boy is carrying something under his arm. Yoongi treasures that image, and keeps it forever in his mind; Jeongguk running away from the trailer, with his yellow jacket, with his own plaid shirt under it.
"What the fuck are you doing, just catch the kid!!" The man shouts to the others against the air.
Jeongguk is so obedient. Jeongguk obeys Yoongi and keeps running, although he knows he could take those guys away from him. Yoongi is sure that Jeongguk knows that he could simply give them the box with the money, and maybe those guys would leave, but he obeys his mumbled request instead.
He was also sure that they wouldn't reach him. Yoongi knew that Jeongguk is agile, he knew that he is not an idiot. Yoongi knew he would find a way to hide again, and that those guys never would get the wooden box with the money. Jeongguk is so obedient and Yoongi knew he would run.
Another kick comes before Yoongi can realize, dull, his body already numb for so much pain. He is about to lose consciousness. What Yoongi didn't know is that Jeongguk wouldn't stop running. But he wouldn't come back either.