A game of fighting using one's fists in a roped square ring
It was a particularly gruesome fight.
Taehyung's opponent had been almost a head taller than him, and nearly twice his size.
He closes his eyes, feeling the flood of emotion take over his senses,
The cheer of the crowd,
The buzz of the commentator.
The adrenaline in his veins,
The bell rings and he gets up to face his Goliath.
The man in front of him smiles, his mouth impossibly wide, teeth blackened and jagged.
Taehyung leaps forward, putting all his power into his fist and swinging, hard .
Taehyung loses the game.
" Ouch !"
Taehyung winces when Hoseok applies the disinfectant on his face.
Hoseok clicks his tongue in annoyance.
"Stay still, just a few more minutes to go."
It's impossibly painful, the way Hoseok dabs the Dettol soaked balls of cotton into his skin, the cuts, burning with the sting of the phenolic compounds.
It hurts so much.
But no pain can even begin tocompare to the pain of having Hoseok so close to him, within arms reach, but not able to touch him.
It's not that Taehyung CAN’T touch Hoseok,
It's that he shouldn't.
Taehyung lost that right a long time ago,
The same night he acquired his massive debt towards the nurse.
"Tae, how are you going to repay me if you keep losing your matches like this?"
Hoseok clicks his tongue for the umpteenth time since he began patching Taehyung up,
Taehyung lets out a shudder when Hoseok leans into his space, reaching for the gash on Taehyung's forehead.
Taehyung has to close his eyes and bite his lips so as to not pull Hoseok into his arms and join their lips together.
Like he used to do, only a year ago...
Hoseok sees blood on a daily basis,
It's part of his job.
It would be quite bothersome if he were to feel bothered by the wounds of all his patients,
,But the truth is he never is.
No matter how severe they are, no matter if they come in absolutely torn up and dripping blood,
Hoseok is always fine.
It's only Taehyung who makes him feel this way,
It's only Taehyung who makes him feel like there's a block of lead lodged in his throat that refuses to come out.
It's only Taehyung who makes his fingers tremble as he unrolls the gauze.
It's only Taehyung who makes him want to bend down and kiss the cuts on his parted lips
And it's only Taehyung who makes him wake up in a cold sweat, because even in his dreams, he cannot escape the bloody cuts on Taehyung's body.
And the truth that he-- Hoseok-- is the only reason why Taehyung continues to visit his infirmary in torn clothes and a smile stained crimson red.
"Jung, this needs to stop. He's coming every single day, and he's always a bloody mess! It's against hospital policies. You're going to get caught."
Hoseok takes in the panic resting on Doctor Seokjin's features, the older man is the only one who knows about Taehyung.
Seokjin only knows because Hoseok is his nurse, and because every timeSeokjin walks around looking for him, he's almost always stitching up Taehyung.
It was expected when Seokjin confronted him with why he was nursing someone who hadn't registered at the counter, or seen Seokjin himself.
"That's Taehyung, he's my childhood friend."
It's true, Hoseok has known Taehyung since before he has known himself.
He's a boxer."
That's true too. In dingy cellars consuming the shady parts of Seoul where Taehyung wears red tattered boxing gloves that he flings about to defend himself.
"He's poor. Please, let me do this."
That's the biggest truth Hoseok has said so far.
Kim Taehyung is poor because he has a debt.
He has a debt towards Hoseok.
Seokjin is still understanding, even though he occasionally reprimands him and tries to dig out more information.
Although it annoys Hoseok to no end when Seokjin pries too much, and it hurts when Seokjin asks him,
"Are you sure that's all there is between you too?"
"Why do you ask that, Doctor Kim?"
"He looks at you a lot like how a lover would."
"Hyung, I love you. I love you so fucking much."
"One more kiss, please. Just one more?"
"God, you're so gorgeous. How did I get so lucky with you?"
"You feel so good, hyung. So warm."
"Hyung, I'm so sorry."
Hoseok's breath catches and he closes his eyes for a moment before he dismisses Seokjin and leaves.
It still hurts every time he remembers it.
It still hurts when he thinks of how he had the world in his hand.
Only for it to fall apart and slip through his fingers.
Taehyung counts the bills, taking in the rustling sound.
He smiles before he bids the man at the prize collection booth farewell.
Taehyung walks out of the alley, hearing the roars of the crowd echoing behind him.
There's another match going on,
The sky is gray, it's going to rain any second now.
Taehyung sighs, pulling his hoodie up to cover his head, pushing his hands into the pockets of his jeans.
He picks up his pace, kicking at the pebbles in his path.
He has somewhere to be,
He has something to do,
He has someone to see.
He walks, looking up at the sky, watching as the clouds turning gray.
Taehyung can make his way to his destination with his eyes closed,
He's been there too many times to count.
He walks up the familiar stone walkway, pausing at the entrance of the elevator, tapping his shoes on the pavement, and waiting.
It doesn't take long, there's no one else in the lift except for Taehyung,
But it makes him feel stuffy, inadequate.
It's funny because the tiny changing room in the fighting arena, that smells of pungent sweat and dirty socks is something he's grown so accustomed to.
He heaves a heavy sigh when the doors finally opens, as if he'd been waiting eons.
As if he's been waiting eons just to step outside and walk to the door, three apartments down the line.
As if he's been waiting eons to ring the doorbell and hear the familiar patter of feet walking towards him.
As if he's been waiting eons to see Hoseok, even though he only saw him yesterday...
Hoseok opens the door, and stands back to let Taehyung into his apartment
Taehyung has to look away from Hoseok's slim frame, drowning in his white oversized t-shirt
He has to look away from Hoseok's wet hair, dripping droplets of water onto his shirt and making it transparent.
He has to look away from Hoseok's red lips, stained at the corners with something brown, meat gravy perhaps.
Taehyung wants to lick it off.
He chooses instead to fist his hands in his pocket and make his way into the warm confines of Hoseok's home.
When Hoseok shuts the door and turns around, Taehyung pulls Hoseok's hands forward,
He grasps them in his own before he takes out the wad of cash he'd been given just a while ago.
"Here hyung, I won today.
It's not much.
I'll make more-- I'll make it all."
So much cash.
It spills out of Hoseok’s delicate hand.
Hoseok flips through them, watching the man on the notes smiling plastically.
He smiles ironically, before looking up into Taehyung's eyes.
He chooses to ignore the longing in his eyes,
Hoseok takes half and gives the rest back to Taehyung, pushing it into his reluctant hands,
"I'm not so heartless, Tae.
I'm not so heartless that I'll take all your money."
Hoseok smiles again, purposely making the twist of his lips pinched and condescending.
"I'm not some monster, to steal your livelihood.
I only want my share."
He doesn't say that there is a perverse pleasure he takes in knowing that Taehyung is tied to him, at least in this way.
Even so maybe, Hoseok sometimes wishes this arrangement between the two of them never existed in the first place.
Taehyung reluctantly accepts the money.
His face is strained, his lips caught between his teeth in a vice grip,
He's so close to Hoseok.
Hoseok smells the same as he used to before.
Like this, when he's not in the hospital, Hoseok smells like honey and vanilla.
He smells like home.
Taehyung wants to grab onto Hoseok's hand and pull him into his chest,
He wants to hold him right, and beg for his forgiveness.
Taehyung has been trying so hard,
He's been hurting,
He's been bleeding and breaking everyday for Hoseok.
He wants to beg for mercy,
For it all to stop.
Instead, he nods his head curtly, whispering a soft thank you before he turns around and walks away.
It takes him more strength than he's had to muster even during his toughest battles against the strongest opponents to just walk away from Hoseok in his home.
It's always been hard to walk away from Hoseok.
Because once upon a time,
Hoseok was always walking towards Taehyung...
The room echoes with the sound of Hoseok's sobs,
Broken, muffled and wet as he wails into the pillow.
Taehyung stands by the side of his bed, hands clenched at his sides, nails digging into his palms, deep enough to draw blood.
The sobs are ceaseless,
Taehyung wants to sob too.
"Hyung, I --"
Hoseok screams. He howls in agony.
Taehyung watches him fist his sheets, white sheets with tear stains by the head.
"Fucking fix this, Tae.
You did this to me.
He cries once again.
Taehyung gulps down his own tears, watching Hoseok cry silently, his body turned away from him.
Taehyung reaches over to hold his back, before he stops
His hands were shaking,
He pulls them back.He doesn't have the right to touch Hoseok anymore,
Not after what he did.
"I'll make it up to you, hyung
I'll pay you back."
"I'm so sorry, hyung..."
Hoseok takes the blood test of a patient, humming absentmindedly as he thinks about how he hasn't seen Taehyung in a few days.
The last time Hoseok saw him was at his house,
The boxer had come home to give him the money.
Hoseok's hand stutters and the patient yelps in pain
"Where were you sticking that thing?"
Hoseok apologises profusely, taking extra care with his job and ensuring that he doesn't daydream anymore.
When all's said and done, and he's alone in the little infirmary, Hoseok lets his mind wander to what happened only a few days ago.
10 k won.
It's not that much really,
It's just a chip in the block.
But it's a lot for them-- for Hoseok and Taehyung,
And Taehyung had given it all to Hoseok.
All his money,
All his hard-earned livelihood.
Hoseok thinks about how that money is stained with Taehyung's blood
Was taking this the right thing to do?
"You fucking did this to me.
Hoseok closes his eyes and inhales slowly,
It still hurts to think of the past.
He lets out a shaky breath, before putting on his white coat and walking out towards a new set of patients.
It makes his heart twist how he simultaneously wants to see Taehyung, but also doesn't want him anywhere in the vicinity of the hospital.
In spite of all that's happened, he doesn't want Taehyung to be hurt.
It hurts Hoseok just as much to watch, even when he's the one patching things up
"You don't wear as many bandages as you used to, only a few days ago."
Taehyung pauses in the middle of packing his things.
He turns around to look at the man who stands, leaning against the door, cherubic face twisted in curiosity.
"What do you want, Jimin?"
"I'm just stating my observations.
You always used to rush off after your matches, by yourself
But the next day, your wounds are dressed and even though you're hurt, you look happier somehow.
It's mind boggling."
Taehyung feels uneasy again,
"What do you mean?"
Jimin sighs, slumping against the frame of the door,
"These days, you've been winning more matches.
You've found your own game plan and it's working.
Which is why you don't get hurt as much."
Jimin looks straight into Taehyung's eyes
"But in spite of being much better off and actually winning for a change,
You look so sad.
"And what's worse is that I can tell how even though you used to be torn up and bleeding back then, you were still somehow happier."
Taehyung clutches his backpack, his knuckles turning white with his deathly grip.
“You were somehow happier.”
He chuckles brokenly.
He really was happier a few days ago, when he was a loser trying to make ends meet,
His guts punched in and his heart slammed down.
But of course, he was happier.
He was happier because he was always being put together by Hoseok's delicate fingers, his soft delicate touch burning into Taehyung's skin.
He was happier because at least in near death, he could have Hoseok next to him. He could have Hoseok holding him.
Even though Hoseok is the star of all his bad dreams and his living nightmares.
"Stay in your lane, Jimin.
Mind your own business."
Taehyung bumps into Jimin's shoulder before walking out.
He slams the door shut and makes his way back home.
At the intersection, he stares long down the road that leads to the familiar brick house,
The road that leads to Hoseok.
Hoseok is surprised to see Taehyung again, this time without any wounds on his body
He ushers Taehyung into his infirmary.
Hoseok looks into Taehyung's eyes,
There's no blood, no wounds,
Hoseok chooses to ignore how his heart skips a beat at how gorgeous Taehyung is.
"Tae, you’re so handsome."
"But hyung, you're beautiful..."
"Tae, are you okay?
What’s wrong? You look fine."
Hoseok places one hand on Taehyung's shoulder and brings the other up to cup his face, tilting it to search for any wounds or bruises.
Taehyung gently pulls off his hand, startling Hoseok and making him yelp in surprise.
Taehyung's voice is raspy,
"I'm okay, hyung. I've become better.
Haven't lost a single match this week."
Hoseok pulls his hand back and rubs it, unconsciously treasuring Taehyung's touch.
Then why are you here?"
Taehyung gulps when Hoseok looks up in confusion.
There is a look of absolute confusion in his eyes, they're blown wide and they sparkle with something Taehyung has long associated as being the shine of Hoseok's soul.
He moves closer to the nurse, invading his personal space.
I missed you."
Hoseok's breath catches,
Taehyung is right in front of him,
The infirmary smells of disinfectant and chemicals,
But it also smells like Taehyung.
Taehyung's sweat, a reminder of what he was doing before coming to see him,
The smell of Taehyung's shampoo, a faint strawberry scent,
Everything smells like Taehyung.
And Hoseok feels himself drowning.
He remembers how barely a year ago, he had let himself be willingly engulfed by Taehyung- his touch and his warmth.
He also remembers the consequences.
…………………….Two years ago…………………….
"Hyung, come watch me tonight.
I have a match against last year's champion trophy runner up."
Taehyung pulls Hoseok's hand, urging him to cheer for him that night.
"I've been in a really good form this past week, hyung.
Want you to see me win."
Hoseok doesn't like watching Taehyung's matches,
He doesn't like it because Taehyung, irrespective of whether he wins or loses, always gets hurt at least a minuscule amount.
And no matter how level headed and objective Hoseok is
No matter how much he's practised as a nurse-
He’s never really prepared for when Taehyung is hurt...
But Hoseok goes anyway
It's not his first time to watch Taehyung defend himself against opponents significantly bigger than him, older and stronger.
And it's obvious from the moment he takes the reserved seat seat in the dingy stadium just for him, that Taehyung--
Taehyung will lose.
And he's right...
Two hours later, Hoseok is cleaning Taehyung's wounds after kissing them.
Sometimes, Taehyung wins.
It always leaves Hoseok feeling more than a little uncomfortable whenever the gong rings for the match to begin.
Taehyung flings his bottle of water away, the liquid spilling out in a spray as it flies outside the ring.
Taehyung charges towards his opponent.
Today, the man who flings his punches at him is lean and not as intimidating as the ones he usually faces.
But Hoseok is still terrified.
His heart clenches in fear, his hands clenched together as he prays for Taehyung's victory,
The first punch lands on Taehyung and nearly blows him away,
Taehyung spits, trying to balance himself on wobbly knees before he delivers a punch just as brutal as the one he received.
Taehyung is light on his feet, he bounces slightly, dodging his opponent's every blow
But the match is far from being an easy win.
His opponent catches him off-guard with a counter and punches him in the gut,
The stadium gasps in shock.
The referee blows the whistle and Hoseok watches Taehyung drop to his knees,
He watches Taehyung's face twist in utter pain.
The referee issues his opponent a warning and a penalty before bending down and checking if Taehyung is good to continue.
Hoseok's wet eyes are transfixed on Taehyung,
"Say no, please," he whispers.
"Please, say no."
But Hoseok is far from surprised when Taehyung nods his head and rises on his feet as
He makes his stand, spine straight, boxing gloved hands out in a defensive position.
Eyes burning wild with sheer determination.
And Hoseok knows--
He knows that this is going to be another one of those matches.
The kind of match that's going to hurt,
The kind of match that's going to put constellations of wounds and scars on Taehyung's golden skin.
The kind of match that will only add to Hoseok's nightmares.
And when the cursed bell rings, loud and shrill, making the entire arena erupt into thunderous applause,
Hoseok holds his breath and wishes he could just fast forward to when they would be back home, this match left behind, like any other of Taehyung's matches.
Taehyung lands several critical punches and Hoseok should feel relieved,
But he's not.
He’s not because Taehyung is still being attacked- he will continue to be, as long as the match isn't finished.
Hoseok wants to look away, like he does every time he watches Taehyung fight.
He wants to look anywhere but at the arena.
Where the love of his life is struck with one blow after the other, little red patches littering his body in bruises that were sure to bloom blue black in a matter of days.
It's a rocky start but Taehyung somehow managed to turn the match around, overpowering his opponent and delivering punch after punch in the most acute target areas.
Hoseok can't take his eyes off him, even though he really wants to,
Because this is wrong,
This is painful.
Hoseok feels sad because it's truly unpleasant to watch Taehyung beat the other man to a pulp, even though it's still infinitely better than the opponent slamming his mitted fists into Taehyung.
Taehyung wins the match.
His face is splattered with cuts and bruises and a sprinkling of what Hoseok suspects is his opponent's blood,
he stands tall, panting and heaving in his exertion, mouth pulled into that signature box like smile of his .
Even now, with the referee pulling Taehyung's hand up in victory and the whole crowd going berserk with their applause, Taehyung's eyes still search for Hoseok.
They still search for him between the hundreds of people that are seated before him.
When Taehyung finally finds Hoseok, his nose crunches up and Hoseok can almost hear him giggle, his smile growing broader and eyes forming tiny wrinkles at the sides,
Taehyung is looking at him with so much glee.
Because he won the match,
And he won it in front of Hoseok,
And that's why Hoseok smiles.
His mouth pulls up against his will, forcing himself to display a happiness that he does not feel.
Hoseok’s happy for Taehyung, he's so happy that his boyfriend won.
But all the blood, sweat, and tears on his hands and on his opponents as well--
Was it really worth it?
He swallows his feelings down,
And smiles back…
Backstage smells of sweat and alcohol and he wants to gag.
He makes his way towards the locker room, waiting outside for Taehyung to come out,
He's surprised when he sees a tall bulky man makes his way towards the door.
The man's face is twisted in fury and his arms are flexed,
The man grazes by Hoseok, making him nearly topple over in fright.
The man flings the door to the locker room open and barges in,
Hoseok places his hand on his chest and looks behind him, at the intimidating man who stomps into the room, bringing chaos in his wake.
There are screams of protest from the few other users, someone even rushing forward to reprimand him.
But the man pushes them all aside, looking around for his target,
His eyes glint when they zero in on his target.
Hoseok looks towards the direction of his anger,
And his heart sinks.
The man sprints towards Taehyung, who is bare-chested and stands in shock.
The man pounces on top of him, pinning him to the ground,
He shakes Taehyung, banging his head against the concrete floor.
"You fucking piece of shit. How dare you pull such a stunt?"
He draws his hand as far back as he can and rams it into Taehyung's face
Taehyung, fortunately, manages to wiggle about and the punch lands on the floor
The man doesn't let up though
He screams as he tries to deliver more punches
"You fucking hurt my son, he's fucking bleeding!"
Hoseok wants to run towards them,
He wants to fling the man away,
He wants to protect his lover from this man and from the rest of the world.
But his knees buckle and he falls to his feet, tears slipping down his face in absolute fright
Hoseok watches the man being pulled away and Taehyung being helped up.
He shuffles messily onto his feet and runs towards him,
Tae. Tae. Tae."
Hoseok sinks to his feet and places shaky hands on Taehyung's cheeks.
"Oh my God."
Hoseok rubs his thumb against a fresh gash, fresher than the cuts and wounds from a few hours ago.
His fingers tremble and Taehyung brings his hand up to clasp it,
Taehyung closes his eyes and whispers softly,
"I'm okay, hyung.
Hoseok sobs as he leans towards his lover.
"I'm fine," Taehyung kisses Hoseok's forehead, and nuzzles into his neck
Hoseok pulls back and looks deep into Taehyung's eyes,
Tae, what was that?"
Taehyung winces, and Hoseok wonders if it's from physical pain .
"This-- It's pretty common here, hyung.
Underground boxing is like that."
Hoseok's heart sinks.
He barely registers the people around them ushering the man away.
Someone calls for Taehyung, saying something about going to the police station.
Taehyung smiles before he leans over and pecks Hoseok on the lips. Comforting.
He shifts to get up, yelling that he'll be there in a second.
But suddenly, Hoseok pulls his hand, stilling him in his movements,
"What do you mean it's like that?"
Taehyung looks solemn,
"This is just something that comes with my job."
Taehyung sighs before he frees himself from Hobi's grasp,
"Don't worry though, it doesn't get much worse than this."
Taehyung's hands are warm against Hoseok's skin,
The heat permeating into his very bones.
He suddenly misses how Taehyung would hold him, burning his touch into Hoseok's body, scorching trails in the wake of his lips.
His hands digging into Hoseok's flesh as Taehyung made him fall apart,
He remembers how once upon a time, he would melt at the smallest of Taehyung's touches.
Now, it made his heart freeze up,
He pulls his hand away, taking a deep, shuddering, breath.
"You miss me?"
He feels his throat clog up with the intensity of his emotions,
He wants to say he misses Taehyung too.
He wants to jump into his arms and meld their lips together,
He wants to mend things and love again.
"You miss me?"
Hoseok steps back, his body suddenly cold now that Taehyung wasn't touching him anymore.
"You miss me?"
Hoseok smiles, gauging how broken it truly is by the way it’s reflected inTaehyung's obsidian irises.
"You miss me?"
His throat feels more and more parched with every word.
"You have no fucking right to miss me,
Not after what you did to me."
He walks past Taehyung, his heart breaking into two.
"Don't come to see me, unless you need it."
He turns back at the door to deliver a parting blow to Taehyung, whose face is already a picture of complete heartbreak.
"There's no point missing someone you've already destroyed."
He sees Taehyung's soul crumble through the depths of his dark eyes,
He also feels his own spirit crash and burn.
Fighting (For You)