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spend my days locked in a haze (tryna forget you, babe)

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hoseok wipes his nose on his sleeve and wraps his fingers around the steering wheel, attempting to drown out the bullshit going down in his head with the music blaring on the radio. it doesn’t help that the station playing is one of namjoon’s favourites, that the music currently assaulting his ears is the kinda thing hoseok would’ve put on a mix-tape for him.

he bypasses a sign reading ‘now leaving seoul’ and his stomach flips. if there’s one good thing about this entire situation it’s that he never has to go back to that shit-hole ever again, he can start over in a new town, where no-one knows who he is, no-one knows his past or his insecurities. a new life. a good one.

‘we’re not going back,’ he whispers to himself, voice shaking. ‘we never have to go back.’

hope’s asleep on the passenger seat, she’s always been quick to adapt to situations, grown accustomed to it through years of hoseok’s rushed decision making. all his shit is loaded into the back-seat, bags strapped in to the tray of his shitty truck. he drives aimlessly, his goal had been to get out of seoul, but past that he has nothing. he’s not reading the signs, doesn’t know what city he’s currently sliding into, doesn’t really care.

as long as it’s not seoul, he doesn’t give a shit.

he passes a dark lot, stacked to the brim with cars, behind it he sees a dank club, with shady looking people loitering against the walls, some girl in stiletto heels throwing up into a dumpster. the club is a dump, rundown with flickering neon signs that promise a good time.

hoseok could use a good time round about now.

he pulls into the lot, parks his shitty truck between two equally shitty cars and glances at his reflection in the rearview mirror. he digs around in his bag and pulls out the make-up he used for dance recitals and applies it sloppily, because his hands can’t stop shaking. he musses his hair with gel and dries his eyes long enough to touch them up with a hint of eyeliner.

he looks like shit, but half an hour from now he’s gonna be completely fucked up so it’s not like it matters.

he scoops hope up in his arms, carries her round the back of his truck and places her in the tray. she should stay there til morning, or at least be there by the time hoseok gets back. he staggers up to the door and wedges through the crowd til he gets to the bar.

one shot in and his hand’s are still shaking, two shots and he’s still biting down on his tongue to keep from crying. he just wants it all to stop. he keeps going. by the fourth shot everything’s a dull, pleasurable roar and the sixth one has him dancing, stumbling to the beat and he is fucked, delightfully, irrevocably, fucked and it’s all he could ever want.

he staggers around the dance floor, flitting from partner to partner, male, female, whatever, he doesn’t care, it’s all good. he’s grinning so big he thinks his teeth might shatter but the alternative is bawling his eyes out and if he starts again, this time he might not stop.

the concept of time gets a little fuzzy after that. he remembers a girl working her tongue up the length of his neck, mouth warm and wet on his flushed skin. he keeps tripping over his feet, grazes his elbows on the floor. there was a pill at some point, placed on his tongue and it makes everything swirl and writhe, it’s great. a guy man-handles him around the bar and hoseok shrinks away at first but the guy nips at his jaw, all tongue and teeth and it gets hoseok hot so he goes along with it.

his touch is bruising, possessive. hoseok’s surprised when he doesn’t hear something crack once he’s forcibly shoved into the club’s bathroom, back colliding with the basin. alcohol numbs most of the pain. he wishes it didn’t. the guy makes short work of hoseok’s pants, pulls them down to his knees and does the same for himself.

a thumb wedges it’s way past hoseok’s parted lips, presses down hard on his tongue. the man watches him with a hooded gaze, choking on a moan when hoseok hollows his cheeks and sucks.

‘you like that, pretty baby?’ the stranger’s voice is rough, sultry, but the words bring hoseok’s thoughts to a stand-still.

namjoon had called him that once. pretty baby.

it had been a joke, of course. a little jab to throw hoseok off-guard and it had. he’d flushed beet red and after being sure he’d gotten the tone mesmerised, saved the low, teasing rumble for some other time, he got the fuck out of there, ignoring namjoon’s gleeful laughter following him out the door.

hoseok doesn’t know what the context had been, but what he does know is that he doesn’t want anyone calling him pretty baby ever again.

so he bites down until he tastes blood. the guy cusses, wrenches his thumb away, and smacks hoseok so hard he sees stars.

the guy leaves after that. the loss of contact accentuates the curdling feeling of loss in hoseok’s chest. the sickness bubbles up a little after that.

his cheek hits the toilet seat and he lunges, coughing up transparent sick into the bowl and everything burns. his eyelashes are knotted by salted tears, present even when he’s too numb to remember what sadness feels like anymore. he crumples, hugging the bowl, because the world’s starting to spin and he needs namjoon to come and stop it, but he fucked that up along with everything else in his life and namjoon isn’t around to save him this time.

he crashes in the bathroom stall, last thing he recalls is a splash of graffiti backdrop and the throb of his head.

 

--- 

 

from: joonie ♥

01:14 where are you
01:38 your stuffs all gone i checked your room its not there
02:01 are you coming back
02:26 hoseok
02:29 youre coming back right?

 

--- 

 

ten days spent travelling from town to town, getting fucked in more than one way has it’s repercussions, such as drilling migraines and the constant acidic taste of sick in his mouth, but hoseok thinks he’s getting better at dealing with the brunt of them, can even wake up now without praying for death.

when he wakes up this time, it’s to the smell of kerosene and a pounding headache, in the back of a stranger’s van. said stranger, a guy possibly the same age as hoseok, is staring down at him. hoseok doesn’t have it in him to jump, just blinks blearily and groans, rolling onto his side. his mouth tastes like shit, his breath must be something rancid and here he is stinking up cute stranger boy’s van and he’s smiling, like it’s no problem at all.

‘you’re awake!’ the boy cheers and his voice is way too loud. torture for hoseok’s oversensitive eardrums. ‘for a second i thought i was gonna have to call an ambulance.’ he frowns, leaning in close to hoseok’s face. ‘are you okay?’

‘peachy.’ hoseok says rubbing his temples. he’s glad the stranger has the van’s windows covered by blankets. he’s pretty sure he would melt in the path of direct sunlight right now. he groans as he sits up, feeling his insides lurch in the process. he swallows back bile, he doesn’t want to vomit in cute stranger boy’s van.

‘did we do anything?’ he doesn’t really care if they did, but this guy is looking at him with something like affection in his eyes and hoseok doesn’t want him getting the wrong idea.

cute stranger boy surprises him by shaking his head.

‘nah,’ he says, still smiling. ‘you were wasted.’

hoseok pulls a face at him. ‘so?’

‘so,’ the other draws the word out, soft features creasing in a frown. ‘you don’t fuck people who are wasted, no matter how much they say they want it.’

hoseok groans, burying his throbbing head in his hands. ‘oh god. i didn’t, did i?’

‘beg?’ the stranger says. ‘yeah, you did. got to your knees at one stage and tried to unzip my fly and when i wouldn’t let you, you just started crying really hard. so i took you here. you didn’t calm down til you passed out.’

hoseok would be mortified if emotions were a thing he could feel right now. at the moment all his body knows is queasiness and drilling headaches.

‘i am so sorry.’

‘’s’cool, i can pretend i didn’t see it, if you want?’

‘please do.’

‘done.’ he grins and it’s not a bad smile, hoseok supposes, nice even. ‘my name’s jimin.’

‘hoseok.’ something clicks in his recess of his mind and he turns, fumbling for the sliding door. ‘ah fuck, i gotta feed my cat.’

jimin frowns and shuffles after him. ‘i don’t think you can even stand right now.’

‘don’t care,’ hoseok mumbles, wincing when he manages to pull the door open, the light is blinding, scalds his eyes as effectively as bleach. he trips out the door and lands forcibly against the car parked next door. ‘gotta feed her.’

‘then i’ll come too!’ jimin says, scrambling out of the van to join him. ‘i like cats, they’re cute.’

hoseok shrugs, the guy’s attractive and he’s never opposed to company. ‘knock yourself out.’

jimin is parked in another lot from hoseok, this one is filled with caravans and vans, a few people are crashing in the trays of their trucks, smoking cigarettes as they stare up at the cloudy sky.

‘you’re a traveller?’ hoseok asks.

‘yep! i’m in a fire troupe!’ hoseok nods. that explains the smell of kerosene in the van. ‘we travel the country putting on shows.’ he looks at his feet, kicks a pebble down the beaten path. ‘i saw you dancing last night, you were good.’

hoseok’s cheeks warm. he looks away, spotting his car in the distance. ‘i dance better when i’m sober.’

‘i’d like to see that sometime,’ says jimin, voice a little low. 

is jimin flirting with him? hoseok is pretty sure jimin is flirting with him and he is not sure how he feels about it.

in any case, he gives jimin a smile that would probably look sexier if he wasn’t being bludgeoned by this fucking hangover and shrugs loftily. ‘maybe you will.’

he gets to his truck, finds hope perched in the tray, yowling her disapproval at him for being late. he hushes her, and digs around in the back seat til he finds her biscuits.

‘that is not a cat,’ jimin states behind him. ‘that is a mountain lion.’

‘ha, ha,’ hoseok says dryly, pouring biscuits into hope’s food bowl. jimin watches him the whole while, staring wide-eyed as hope makes short work of the food.

‘do you need a lift home?’ jimin asks and the concern in his voice is oddly touching. hoseok had known travellers were nice, but he’s never really had any experience with that first-hand. ‘i don’t think you’re okay to drive. you look really out of it.’

‘don’t have a home,’ hoseok mutters. he’s feels a pang in his chest, wants to pull his treacherous heart from his chest and stomp it into the ground. he’s supposed to be over this.

‘you’re a traveller then, like me?’ hoseok shakes his head and ignores jimin’s wince. ‘oh jeez, you aren’t some runaway teenager are you?’

hoseok rolls his eyes. ‘i’m twenty-one.’

‘oh!’ jimin says. hoseok turns to him, eyebrows raised, because that’s not pity in his voice or discomfort and it’s really strange. by now, people are levelling him with pitiful looks and trying to apologise for broaching a ‘touchy’ topic.

but jimin just beams at him, eyes alight. ‘you’re a hyung then!’

hoseok blinks, processing, processing, then: ‘i guess i am.’

‘well, hyung,’ jimin says, leaning against the rim of the tray, head propped up by his hand. ‘if you’re not occupied with anything, maybe you’d wanna tag along with us for a little while?’ he waves his hand in the general direction of the other lot. ‘i promise it’ll be fun. maybe when you’re feeling better you can show me your sober dancing.’

hoseok blinks, surprised at the offer. jimin must be out of his mind proposing something like this, having known hoseok for what can’t be more than a few hours (and not a pleasant few hours either, if what jimin says is true.) he looks for the pity in jimin’s eyes, really looks for it, because why else would he want hoseok around if not for some do-gooders sense of achievement?

but he can't see a slither of pity and even if jimin happens to wear a mask similar to hoseok's, the elder is reluctant to turn him down. he’s lonely. so fucking lonely, and any company that wants to hang around long enough past the point of a quick fuck would be welcome. and jimin seems nice to boot, a rarity out here.

if you don’t like it you can leave, hoseok tells himself, just drive off again. what’s stopping you?

‘you can meet everyone first if you like,’ jimin says quickly. ‘there’s ten others. i think a few of them went to a nearby cafe for breakfast. they’re all really nice! you can make up your mind whilst we’re there.’

hoseok’s already made up his mind, but he nods along anyway. doesn’t want to scare jimin off by sounding too eager.

 

---

 

from: joonie ♥

03:14 where are you??
03:37 hoseok come on where are you
04:02 im getting worried can you please tell me where you are
04:06 i need to know youre ok
04:23 please?
04:23 hoseok please?

 

---

 

they end up travelling together a lot longer than hoseok anticipated. he spends the first week as something of a groupie for the fire-show, until the leader of the troupe sees him dance and tells jimin to train him up so he can join.

hoseok is elated. he’s had a job dancing before but his co-workers mainly kept to their own devices. the fire troupe is different. they’re friendly, they make jokes with him, incorporate him into their conversations and as the weeks go on, the camaraderie takes on the appearance of a tight-knit family and the feeling is amazing, better than hoseok ever could’ve imagined.

jimin and he get close, to the point of spending almost all their spare time together as well as  the fire lessons. he finds out that jimin is as nice as he first came off as, but that his morals are different from what hoseok was used to with namjoon.

he cares a lot, no question, and would probably listen to hoseok if he were to ever divulge all his secrets, but he’s also content to leave hoseok to his own devices.

namjoon was more or less the same, he never stopped hoseok from drinking or taking drugs, but there was always that quiet concern and judgement paving behind it, and when he’d find hoseok, the first thing he’d ask would be variations of ‘are you okay?’ or ‘are you hurt?’

jimin isn’t like that. he plays hoseok’s game better than namjoon ever did.

jimin will come in grinning at hoseok after a night of the elder screaming his throat raw at demons no-one else can see. he’ll say chipper, dismissive things like ‘last night was fun’ or ‘ready for round two?’ and hand hoseok a bottle of soju or a cigarette. it doesn’t hurt jimin to pretend things are okay, doesn’t make him uncomfortable in the slightest. hoseok never knows whether to be relieved or not at his instant dismissal.

hoseok’s introduced to jin and taehyung at some party at daegu, hoseok likes them both, taehyung’s fun and affectionate, he and jimin are the same age and pretty close from what he can tell. jin is all-knowing and ever watchful, not the first to notice when something’s off (that title goes to jimin) but always the first to act on it. they talk about this festival called sanctum and the fire troupe leader, hobeom, says they’ll be performing there and he wants hoseok to put something on for it. he has two months to prepare and he's ecstatic. 

on the second night of them knowing each other, hoseok takes a pill and blacks out for a bit. when he wakes up, he’s in someone’s caravan with his back pressed against the locked door. he finds jimin asleep on the grass outside, one arm draped lazily over his eyes. hoseok wonders if he’s been out there all night, trying to coax hoseok out unsuccessfully. he looks up when the door clicks shut and smiles warmly at hoseok before asking what he wants for breakfast.

later that day, in hushed conversations, hoseok overhears jin call jimin an enabler and jimin laughs before agreeing.

‘life’s about the journey, hyung,’ he says. ‘if i spend all my time telling him what he should or shouldn’t be doing the lessons lose their meaning.’

‘he could seriously hurt himself,’ jin hisses and guilt seeps under hoseok’s skin.

‘i won’t let him do that,’ jimin says. ‘but i won’t coddle him in bubble-wrap either.’

hoseok thinks things might be easier if he could love jimin and jimin could love him in return. but namjoon’s presence haunts his dreams and hoseok’s too broken to be loved.

 

---

 

from: joonie ♥

19:54 are you ignoring me
19:56 probably
19:57 that was a dumb question
20:16 i miss you

 

--- 

 

the first time they fuck, actually fuck without jimin claiming hoseok’s too drunk or high, is after hoseok’s first official fire performance at sanctum. jimin tells him he looked amazing and with that rush of post-performance adrenalin, hoseok kisses him hard, breaking it only to tug his shirt over his head.

the kiss leaves jimin breathless, he stares up at hoseok with a sparkle in his eyes and a wry smile.

‘you’re using me as a rebound,’ he says amusedly and hoseok swallows.

he’s never mentioned shit about namjoon, only that they were good friends and that hoseok had relied on him a lot. but jimin is more observant than the average person and it is possible that hoseok’s let some stuff slip a couple times when he wasn’t quite in control of his mind, but jimin’s never brought anything up like this before.

hoseok feigns nonchalance and shrugs. ‘i guess?’ this doesn’t really count as a rebound, namjoon and he were never together in the first place. ‘is that okay?’

‘sure. if you’re okay with it. but sleeping with me isn’t going to make you feel whole, hyung. i'm not the thing you need. i’m not going to fix you.’

fix him. right.

because hoseok’s broken.

when he next kisses jimin, he closes his eyes so he doesn’t have to see the knowing glint there, doesn’t want jimin to know he’s pegged this curdling feeling residing in the pit of his gut. he doesn’t like to be known. it makes him vulnerable. but his mask just keeps sliding off and jimin sneaks a peek at him. 

so he keeps jimin distracted by sucking bruises into his neck, unbuckles the belt to his jeans whilst jimin fumbles for his own without breaking for air. hoseok shoves his pants midway down his thighs and jimin does the same. hoseok preps himself, rushed and hurried, moaning shamelessly as he grinds against jimin’s thigh. he hates the way the other stares at him, that haze of lust doing nothing to cover that stipulation of knowing.

he fucks down onto jimin hard and fast to the point that jimin actually tells him to slow down, voice wrecked, yet uneasy. the sex is rough and rushed and loud and despite all of jimin’s sweet words of him doing so well and looking so pretty, hoseok feels filthy. feels sick.

jimin groans his release and reaches for hoseok’s cock, stroking quick, fluid movements until hoseok’s vision turns white.

he doesn’t picture namjoon’s flushed face when he comes.

he doesn’t.

he swears it. 

 

---

 

from: joonie ♥

03:55 just tell me youre not dead
03:56 i promise ill leave you alone after that
03:59 i just need to know youre not dead
04:14 im scared

 

--- 

 

‘why do you still have that thing?’ jimin asks him, walking into their shared caravan to see hoseok fiddling with the phone namjoon gave him for his twentieth birthday. ‘i find you staring at it every other day, but you never send anyone anything. just stare at old texts.’

and maybe it is kinda weird. hoseok keeps it charged whenever he has the chance to use an outlet but he has yet to send a single text.

‘i’m thinking on my reply,’ he tells jimin without looking up.

jimin snorts. ‘for six months?’

‘yes,’ hoseok says and it’s the first time he’s let the chipper charade slip when he’s fully sober. he looks up at jimin, an eyebrow cocked in a challenge. ‘problem?’

jimin shrugs and walks off, leaving hoseok to deliberate.

 

---

 

from: joonie ♥

18:00 i thought i saw you today
18:01 started screaming your name people thought i was mental
18:03 i couldve sworn it was you
18:04 i wish it had been you

 

---

 

jin is committed to his role as the camp-mother and is generally quite reserved, despite his friendliness, so hoseok’s more than a little surprised to find him stretched out beside him, giggling something fierce as he takes another hit from their shared joint.

‘so, who are they?’ jin asks once his fits of giggling have subsided.

hoseok takes his own fleeting drag, before stubbing the light out in the damp grass. ‘who?’

‘the person you’re in love with,’ jin says and hoseok stills. he can't be that obvious. how the fuck could jin know without anyone telling him? ‘you never talk about them.’

‘i’m not in love with anyone.’

‘mmm,’ jin says, lips curving into a smile. ‘you’re lying to me.’

irritation curdles in hoseok’s gut and he figures jin must have got the brunt of the high, because he doesn’t feel relaxed in the slightest.

‘was this your plan?’ hoseok says. ‘get me high so i’d be inclined to talk about him?’

‘him?’ jin says innocently and hoseok colours, cussing himself. ‘i don’t remember what my intention was. i think i just wanted to have a good time. and talking about love is a good time. it’s beautiful.’

hoseok’s never thought it was beautiful, not even for a second. he thought namjoon was beautiful, but that’s different.

he remembers realising the extent of the feelings, how his heart had kicked up in pace when namjoon had laughed at some stupid video and the thrill that had shot through hoseok when he was levelled with those smiling eyes and dimpled cheeks.

he remembers the self-loathing eating him alive the nights that followed, the nights staring at the ceiling, wishing he could stamp the feelings into the ground but they’d just rekindle the second namjoon so much as looked at him.

he remembers waking up in namjoon’s room after the younger had collected him after some drugged up episode. he remembers clinging to namjoon’s side, how he’d been hard in his jeans and flushed for breath and how namjoon had slept on, blissfully unaware even as hoseok pried himself out from under his arm and into the bathroom. he remembers staring at the mirror and wanting to shatter his reflection.

‘you travellers are all nosey,’ hoseok accuses, pushing aside the corroding feeling of hollowness inside his stomach. he doubts he’d have gotten away with the informality if jin had been sober, but high-jin let’s it slide with a snort.

‘you’re a traveller hoseok,’ and then he starts giggling all over again.

 

--- 

 

from: joonie ♥

01:13 please be ok

 

---

 

jungkook once drew a picture of yoongi around a campfire, when he was looking off into the distance. jimin took one look at it and told the younger to title it ‘lovely and lonely’ because ‘that was yoongi.’

it stuck, but they’d never tell yoongi that.

hoseok doesn’t know about the ‘lovely’ aspect of himself, but he does know about the lonely, so maybe that why he seeks yoongi out.

‘cigarette, hyung?’

yoongi crinkles his nose and shakes his head, the chain-link fence they’re leaning against jingles at the movement. ‘don’t smoke. tastes like shit.’

hoseok shrugs his shoulders and carefully lights the smoke, trying not to make his dejection too obvious. 

min yoongi is lovely and lonely and with his pretty face and prickly demeanour and he seems content to stay that way, only ever let’s a handful of people into his little bubble. he doesn’t care about hoseok, or many people for that matter, but he puts up with the younger for taehyung and jin’s sake.

hoseok dangles the cigarette between his fingers, lets the burning tip hover an inch above his own forearm. he stares at the smooth, tanned skin there, imagines what it would look like, marred and puckered. ugly.

it’s then that yoongi rips the cigarette from his fingers, and takes a long drag that ends with a fitful cough.

hoseok tries to blow off his alarm with a grin. ‘thought you didn’t smoke.’

and yoongi just levels him with this look, still racked with coughs. he shakes his head.

‘don’t you ever think about something like that again,’ he tells him, voice raw. ‘you’re too bright for that shit.’

he drops the stub to the ground and stamps out the light, along with any thoughts hoseok had about him not caring.

 

---

 

from: joonie ♥

07:26 i’m sorry.

 

---

 

hoseok stares at the screen for a considerably long time, until the words imprint themselves on the back of his eyelids. he opens the window next to his head, still staring, and let’s the wind tousle his hair.

then, before he can think himself out of it, he sticks his hand out into the frigid air and drops the phone to the ground.

he takes a deep breath in, expecting the weight of what he's just left behind would do something to ease the jagged vice around his lungs. 

it doesn’t.