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exhausting routine

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Jisung doesn’t need sleep.

He knows that for sure- with the flooding of vibrations throughout his veins, the pounding behind his eyeballs, and the staticity thrumming up to his fingertips, the last thing he needs to do is sleep. No, there’s a song he needs to finish. And a song after that, and a song after that, and, hell, why not start a new song? He isn't sure what time it is. It doesn’t matter.

Beyond the small voice whispering “you’re going to get four hours of sleep”, Jisung is only focused on the repeated tap-tap-tapping of his keyboard keys. The ticking of the clock, the clicking of his fingernails against the desk, the thrumming of the fan; all of them are rendered obsolete by how loud his mind is. Jisung doesn’t need to sleep.

He needs to finish this measure. This next measure.

Wait, different lyrics would fit better here. There's a phrase that would fit perfectly in the next measure, simple and obvious and unique. Jisung’s sure it exists, but he can't remember it. There’s a sensation of it brushing against the back of his mind, an obscure notion, unclear.

His fingers are tapping into Google already, searching up something nonsensical in a quest for something made up. No good results.

But, wait, that’s a psychic website about energies, which reminds him of that ad for psychic services he watched on YouTube a month ago. That brings him to YouTube, tapping into the search bar and clicking open a video on the methods of psychics. He watches the full ten minute thing. Then a few more, just for good measure. Jisung looks back at the clock again, and it’s four a.m.

Clocks remind him of the song he was working on. He spins his cursor around and goes back to dragging in soundbytes.

A continuous loop of monotonous, meaningless tasks- ones that he shouldn’t even be working on. Jisung has a different song entirely due in a couple days, he knows that. He’s entirely too aware of it, stressed within an inch of his life. He doesn’t want to do it. It doesn’t snap with his brain, doesn’t give him the waterfall of energy he gets when doing something stupid and unproductive. Lego pieces, puzzle pieces, the segments of a cube aligning just right and smoothing out the hills and valleys of his thoughts.

He feels that rush right now, letting his fingers finally tap away at something with full energy. Jisung knows he’ll crash after this, can already feel the languidness sticking to his skin. He doesn’t focus on that, and instead focuses on words. Words he can do.

Words aren’t tangible, don’t have a deadline. Jisung lets them trail from his hands, dangle from his fingers on days he’d do anything rather than work. Stick to his nails as he’s cleaning his room, watching more videos on his phone, anything to divert his attention from their presence. They never leave him alone, but are inches away from connecting. On days like these, they work, and Jisung gets a week’s worth of songwriting done in one night.

The other boys think he’s a procrastinator. Jisung only knows that he physically can’t do work, doesn't feel the urgency to complete that other people seem to. He’s not too aware of the distinction, though. That’s just how he is, how he’s always been. Stressed out, piling work on top of himself before cranking it out in a few hours. It’s not harming him, right?

He tugs at his collar. It clings to his neck. His phone buzzes against the desk. His keys clack mechanically. The long tones ring out from his laptop speakers. Jisung can’t breathe.

He can’t breathe until his brain lets him rest, because as per usual, Jisung has no control. His mind does.

Passively, Jisung wonders if he has a small mouse steering his brain like a giant mecha robot. Now he wants to watch Pinky and The Brain. He tries to find an episode on YouTube.

JYP says Jisung’s drive is like a superpower, and expresses his awe at his lightning speed songwriting. Jisung doesn’t bother to say that it’s also what makes him spend days in bed, what makes him scream and throw things, what makes him incapable of expressing the simplest of emotions.

A superpower. How ironic.

His phone is still buzzing. He picks up.

“Hello?” Jisung asks.

“Where are you?” Chan is worried.

Jisung has taken to chewing on his necklace, feeling his cheek grate against the surface. It’s textured from use, rubbery star worn out in its center.

“The studio?” Chan asks softly, having heard the clicking of the mouse and muffled music. 

Jisung gets distracted by the beats again, clicking more rapidly and surely. “I’m going to come get you, okay?” Chan asks, but that’s in the background. Jisung hums and drags in more soundbytes, red eyes trained on his computer screen. He notes distantly that Chan didn’t hang up.

One second later, there’s a knock at the door. Jisung doesn’t move, just switches tabs to the other track he’s working on and swirls his mouse. “Hannie?” A soft voice asks. Jisung clicks his mouse twice, feeling the weight of the plastic beneath his fingertips. 

He chances a look at the clock- 5:30 a.m. A hand settles on his shoulder. Jisung looks behind him, and Chan, Minho, and Changbin are staring at him. He quickly goes back to the computer program, skin buzzing with the heat of their attention on him. “We gotta go home, Jisung,” someone whispers. Jisung nods distractedly, leg bouncing more and more frequently.

An arm reaches past him to grab his mouse. Jisung lets it, watching his work be saved and closed. He begins to scratch at the outsides of his arms. His work was stopped. The space behind his temples throbs, vision pulsating and distorting his desktop.

His breathing gets faster, and someone spins him around in his desk chair. Eyes, stuck to his face, flitting. Bouncing. Tapping. Working.

Jisung is pulled against a chest, feels their heart beating a little too fast by his ear. He taps their arm in time, sucking in breaths. “You can go home, Sungie,” they whisper, and Jisung nods. He can. But it seems impossible.

A hand presses into his back, rubbing it in circles. Jisung feels the exhaustion set in further, languidness dripping into his bones and dragging his muscles down. His muscles loosen. He’s picked up, head perched on the person’s (Changbin’s, he realizes) shoulder, blank eyes staring back at Chan and Minho. 

Minho reaches forward to try and pat Jisung’s hair down, while Chan is on the phone with someone. Probably the manager, Jisung realizes. He’s no stranger to the fact that if he stays up too late, practice is cancelled the next day. If he had the consciousness to care, he’d feel guilty, but he simply hangs like a deadweight onto Changbin, eyebags throbbing and ears ringing. “Songs, Hannie?” Minho asks.

Jisung mutters, “Three,” and lets Minho bite his lip in worry. They both know that the limit is two before Jisung is stuck in bed the entirety of the next day, tangled in his sheets with vacant eyes. It’s a blessing, really, that they have nothing important the next day. At least, not that he knows of. It’s hard to think.

He knows that the same cycle is going to continue next week. Stacking up piles of work like the messes in his room just to buzz through them in a few hours, left hollowed out. Another thing Jisung knows is that his friends are going to be right there to drag him out of all of the words, pick him back up. 

He tilts the side of his head into Changbin’s neck, ear pressed up close to his heartbeat. All he has to do tonight is sleep, then it'll be tomorrow. And that's good enough.