Sometimes suffering is just suffering.
It doesn’t make you stronger. It doesn’t build character.
It only hurts.
- from COMFORT FOOD by Kate Jacobs
Spring sets the sun later each day; Yoongi hums out the large cafe window at the thick clouds concealing the late afternoon sun, sitting rain-heavy above the grey buildings. With the memory of weekend sunshine still lingering, rays embedded like gemstones, bright and sparkling just below his skin, Yoongi thinks the clouds are not too bad. Bearable. Every once in a while the sun peels back the pale mess and filters through, weak and magical. Yoongi lets the feeling settle.
That song ends and the next is one he likes, and the coffee is hot enough to burn his throat and heat the rest of him. It's the first thing he's eaten all day and his insides light up.
It's near empty in the coffee shop, the streets outside quiet and hushed eerily, wonderfully. Yoongi's favourite chair is next to the window, a midrise barrier sheltering the table and armchairs a little from the rest of the patrons. It's occupied at the moment, by someone who is not Yoongi, but he doesn't mind. For once, he is fine sitting somewhere else; fate will work with him at some point, he's sure, will free the table just as he finishes paying. Today is just not that day.
Yoongi loves being alone in public; the casual, pleasant dealings with the baristas, the awkward, strangely genuine smiles when strangers lock gazes, the people and spaces, noises and silence.
Silence. Yoongi's face falls where it wants and he lets it. Of his body he feels both hyperaware and softly distant; for once, his feet are still in their battered boots. No nervous tapping. No shaking legs. Yoongi breathes like he's been stuck up a mountain for years, just rediscovered oxygen. He's not cold, either, even with spring's chill lacing the roads and biting at the fresh leaves, not inside, with his little hands around his mug and his coffee, burning bitter on his tongue. When Yoongi's toes bounce this time it's to the beat of the music; his lips hint at a smile.
He has a crick in his neck but he cracks it, sharp and mortal in the calm, and the pressure is relieved. His book is splayed across the table, spine broken and pages lovingly tattered. Yoongi thinks that if he could spend every day sinking into coffee shop sofas, reading novels, books on philosophy and psychology and history and high fantasy, mug brim-full of coffee, hot chocolate, tea, then maybe he would be happy.
As it is, time ticks on.
Loathe to leave his warm spot in the window, Yoongi waits. He waits until the baristas tuck the chairs in and turn the machines off and restock the shelves and send him side-glances. They smile when he catches them, tired, hardly enthusiastic, but Yoongi trusts those smiles. Even when Yoongi finds it hard to trust anything.
The tip of his tongue still stings from the first burning sip. Outside, the cloud cover remains. A little boy runs past, parents weary and loyal in following.
The thought of returning to that small apartment, those white ceilings and cold sheets, the thin walls and people shifting, sparks fear, horror behind his ribcage. He tries not to linger on the feeling, but it's hard. It's all a little too hard.
He's whining again, of course.
Yoongi stands and sways as blood plummets to his feet and his low blood pressure works against him. For a moment, as the world blurs and his heart stammers, Yoongi feels at peace.
Then the song ends, and he must go.
Later, he sits with Seokjin on the balcony of Seokjin and Namjoon's little flat. The clouds are warm now, an odd mix of dark lined with gold as somewhere the sun sinks below the horizon, somewhere hidden. Still, the air has never felt more like a regression, and Yoongi is grateful for Seokjin's arm, hot against his through the layers of jumpers and shirts, under the thick blanket Namjoon had chucked out after them, muttering about sentimentality and colds. Rust cracks the white painted railing, flecks breaking off when Yoongi's nails pick at them, falling like large snowflakes onto the wooden planks. Yoongi reckons they're about five unfortunate seconds away from caving in.
Seokjin tries to start conversation but Yoongi cuts him off with abrupt, curt words until he gets the hint and shuts up. Even that small interaction leaves Yoongi agitated, his pulse pattering and leaping, beating hard against the skull above his ear. He sucks in the cold through his teeth.
After a while, Namjoon saunters out, knees brushing the loveseat Yoongi and Seokjin are snuggled up on, too close on the crowded balcony. Seokjin tenses in the cigarette smoke and Yoongi would offer him comfort or something, but he doesn't want to. He's too still, too tired, too resigned. Namjoon notices, though, in the disconcerting way he always does when Seokjin is involved, and when he plucks the fag from his mouth, his lips press together until they're white. Yoongi wishes he would go and leave them alone like before; Namjoon offers him the cigarette, and he takes it.
No, he hasn't seen Hoseok recently. Has he been ok? He had that...showcase thing, right?
At long last, Yoongi finds the questions he wants, ones that shelter him and unlock Seokjin's lips; he leans away and twists slightly to hide his face as Seokjin's updates melt into the background. He wants to listen but the smoke fills his lungs and his brain spills into all the remaining spaces.
He's consumed by the image; the split-second when Hoseok looked disappointed in realising Yoongi wasn't in the crowd. Don't worry about it, though, he's over it, don't worry, Yoongi, Seokjin assures. Namjoon just nudges Yoongi's skinny knees with his own and Yoongi gives everything not to shrink back from the reproach.
Seokjin's talking about Jimin's latest dance routine or something, a relatively safe topic within the minefield of Yoongi's interactional capabilities, but Yoongi's stomach is so sick he can't hear anything, the awful, rotting feeling overflowing into his limbs, curling them in closer.
Yoongi? Seokjin's hands are sticky and cold and Yoongi doesn't know why he thought visiting anyone would be a good idea.
He recognises, somewhere in his mind - somewhere hidden - that they love him. Namjoon steadies him when he wobbles as he stuffs his small odd-socked feet into his boots and they both share a look at Seokjin's broad, blanketed back, hunched up and shivering, before Yoongi slings his bag over his head and lets the door click shut behind him.