Taehyung disappears sometimes.
Jungkook always knows where to find him.
Taehyung is so bright, so inexplicably and perfectly bright that Jungkook is sometimes taken aback when all of a sudden he isn’t. To begin with it was hard to believe that Taehyung, the boy made of smiles and sunshine, who could tell Jungkook that he talks to woodland animals and Jungkook wouldn’t bat an eye, gets sad too. Of course he does. He thinks that maybe it’s because Taehyung cares so deeply, so personally, that it get’s too much occasionally. Jungkook tells him that he has the right to feel sad, to break down, and Taehyung knows. But it’s still hard. Much like everything else about Taehyung, everything he does, he does fully, with his whole heart. When he crashes, he crashes hard.
Sometimes he gets quiet, places usually filled with loud laughter and singing are suddenly empty. He notices the fastest at the store. Jungkook will catch him staring blankly at the spice section. Jungkook tells them they already have enough spices at home. Taehyung already knows, he wasn’t really looking.
Sometimes its silent, secret, unknown. Jungkook finds him crouched in the bathroom late, late at night. These times are the ones that scare him, Taehyung holding back the tiniest chocked sobs, seemingly afraid to make noise. It scares him because he wonders how many nights have passed where he hasn’t woken up, the sobs to quiet, the air-con too loud. Jungkook lifts him off the tiles and holds him under the heat of the shower until the pain washes away a little, rubs circles into his scalp, waits until the sobs come out loud and unhindered. Waits until they echo. Taehyung will ask him why he cares, and he already knows, but Jungkook will smile and press kisses to his hair.
Hyung, you do the same for me.
Sometimes it’s bitter, Taehyung will belittle himself, pull his own hair, and rip into himself like he thinks he deserves it. He’ll get angry, so angry, Jungkook never knows why. Jungkook tells Taehyung that he doesn’t deserve it. Taehyung, deep down, already knows.
Sometimes it comes in insecurity, Jungkook catches him deep, so deep in thought. Taehyung never has to ask, but Jungkook reminds him a little more often how important he is, how loved he is. He’ll take him apart with his fingers, worship each piece, watch the warmth come back into Taehyung, the numbness in his fingertips disappear. Jungkook says I love you, I’m here, and Taehyung already knows. But sometimes it’s not what he doesn’t know; it’s what he needs to hear.
Sometimes it comes as fear, the fear of losing, the fear of everything disappearing. Taehyung holds so much so close to his heart that there’s so much more to lose. Jungkook will hold him hard enough that when he lets go, Taehyung will still feel it, will let Taehyung mark him up, love him so intensely that the bruises remain. Jungkook doesn’t let him forget, and if he does, makes sure he remembers.
Sometimes it’s numb, Jungkook will take Taehyung’s hands and hold them to his heart to let him feel it beat, let him feel the life course through the younger’s body, remind him that he’s alive. Sometimes he’ll wrap both of Taehyung’s hands around a tub of ice cream, wait until the cold cures the numbness. They’ll cry together until it turns to laughter and Jungkook will tell him that it’s okay. And Taehyung knows, of course he does, but Jungkook lets him feel it too.
Sometimes it’s fast, flies under his radar, Jungkook won’t notice until he’s holding the other boy as he sobs, cries like he’s mourning something. And maybe he is. Jungkook will ask hyung, what do you need and Taehyung will just hold him tighter, dig his fingers into Jungkook’s shoulder blades and not say a word. Taehyung wants to say you, just you but he doesn’t. Jungkook already knows.
Sometimes it’s slow, starts with a bad day at work, then another, and another after that. Taehyung will get tired of being exhausted, come home more and more distant. Jungkook will kiss the life back into him, hold him until he can breathe again, and sing him to sleep. Taehyung let’s his voice wash over him in waves, each note sweeping him deeper into sleep, and closer back to home.
Sometimes it comes while they sleep, Jungkook will wake up to an arm on his shoulder and a soft voice saying wake up, I don’t want to be alone right now. Jungkook will hold him under the glow of moonlight, promises himself that he’ll never let Taehyung feel alone. Taehyung never apologies anymore, no matter the time of morning when he rouses Jungkook from sleep. Jungkook tells him that he shouldn’t apologize, ever; he’ll always be there. Taehyung knows.
The first time, Jungkook didn’t know what to do. He felt the elder slipping through his fingers like silk or sand, little by little. Watched him disappear slowly into his own head, leave Jungkook alone and grasping at threads. Left both of them alone but together, and so, so helpless. Jungkook wanted to hold him by the shoulders and shake him, yell at him, beat against his chest until he felt something. But he was afraid that Taehyung might just stare. Instead, Jungkook held him, waited until he focused, waited until he could hold Taehyung in his arms and know that he felt it. Whispered reassurances to him until he knew that they were heard.
Later, Jungkook asked where do you go, hyung? Taehyung had tilted his head up to whisper in Jungkook’s ear. He couldn’t tell him what he feared, where he went, but told him where he wished to be instead.
Taehyung disappears sometimes; Jungkook can look him in the eye and not find him completely. He can’t truly understand what scares him, what waters the hedge of fear that distances Taehyung from him, what keeps him up at night. But he always knows where to go to find Taehyung, and he always knows what to do when he gets there. Because no matter how or when or why it happens, Jungkook never leaves him there alone.