Yoongi finds it hard to concentrate lately.
He’ll find that in the middle of paying for a pack of ramen at the convenience store, or during his morning lectures, sometimes even when he’s hanging out with his friend Hoseok, and especially at night when he’s in his bed trying to sleep, his brain seems persistent in drifting and wandering off for miles. He can’t stop thinking about the human body and how it is so intricate yet so frail. About the brain and all it’s weird electrical thoughts. He thinks about veins and how they run through your arms like puppet strings. Like wires keeping you together. But most of all, he can’t stop thinking about hearts.
Hearts are such fragile things, Yoongi thinks.
Maybe if humans were a little more strategically designed. Maybe if hearts were a bit more sturdy. A bit more solid, less like paper. Protected by something stronger, like a metal cage, rather than a flimsy set of rib bones. Maybe then, things would have turned out differently.
“Hey man,” someone behind him nudges his shoulder and Yoongi is snapped out of his thoughts as he looks up to find that nobody’s standing in front of him in the line anymore. “That stall is open.”
Yoongi is confused for a second because it seems like the doors to all four stalls in this ridiculously small bathroom are closed until he realizes the guy behind him is referring the very last stall that somebody must've just walked out of. And Yoongi internally groans. Because, he isn’t a clean freak by any means, but everyone knows that stall is just plain disgusting.
He walks inside anyway and turns the lock only to be surrounded by writing on every wall. Written on almost every spot of the discolored walls are notes in obnoxious black ink. Everything from ‘ follow me on insta I follow back’ and ‘ when's the last time u pooped?’ to inspirational quotes like you don't belong to the world, the world belongs to you’ and even a sad declaration of ‘ I don’t have any friends.’
Yoongi finds it so hard to focus in the overwhelming stall. And it’s such a crude thing to focus on, peeing, but lately Yoongi’s trying to prove to himself that he can pay attention. That he can concentrate without his strange mind coming up with random questions about his body. Wondering about things like skin and bones, neurons, his nervous system. Even things like breathing. Things that are so familiar yet unfamiliar enough for Yoongi to always suddenly become hyper aware of his body when he gets too caught up in these thoughts.
Like he expected, he finds himself mindlessly drifting off. But not to body parts. Rather of fleeting memories of his childhood. Of simple things like eating dinner with his family or watching Sailor Moon with his little sister, Jiwoo. And slowly but conspicuously, he can feel guilt start to creep its way through his veins. Getting comfortable in his bloodstream. He hates the feeling.
And, like the dirty bathroom stall is reading Yoongi's guilt-ridden mind, he realizes he’s staring straight at a note that says
‘ what’s something you’ve never told anybody before?’
There are a couple silly replies underneath but yoongi isn’t paying much attention to those because there is only one thing on his mind.
And he doesn’t know why he’s decides to reply because the neatly written note near the top right corner of the stall could have been written years ago, and his reply would most likely never be seen or cared about. But he decides to anyway.
Maybe the note is a sign from the universe that he finally needs to get this off of his chest? So when he’s done using the bathroom he turns around and quickly grabs a sharpie from his backpack, mindful of the line of people outside.
Under the last answer to the note, he writes:
I feel like it was my fault
He’s about to write more. Add on the unclear sentence but it’s like he’s frozen and can’t think of any words that will explain the way he feels properly.
He’s always been bad at conveying his thoughts.
He quickly caps the marker, puts it back and walks out of the stall to wash his hands and leave because it’s starting to feel suffocating in the overcrowded campus bathroom. After holding it inside for so long he should feel lighter knowing he wrote it down, but instead he just feels worse. Like he’s finally admitting it to himself.
As he’s walking down the hallway, he tries to forget about the bathroom wall by thinking about getting to lay in his bed all weekend after a full week of lectures and end-of-semester projects. It sounds like heaven.
It’s right then that he feels his phone vibrate. And when he takes it out, he answers right away when he reads the caller ID that says; Hobi
“You’re going to a party with me later,” Hoseok is already saying before Yoongi can even greet him properly. “No watching anime alone in your room tonight. I’m not allowing it.”
Hearing his friend, Hoseok’s, voice instantly makes him smile. Even when he’s being demanding his voice still sounds pleasant somehow.
“Hobi, come on,” he whines because as much as he loves Hoseok, the friend who has been with him since freshman year of college, when Yoongi felt completely alone for the first time in his life, he hates going to parties with him because Hoseok always ends up getting wasted and doing something that will either embarrass himself, Yoongi, or the both of them. Also, he would much rather stay home and start the next anime on his list. The list he has of all the animes Jiwoo used to love so much. “Watching anime is how I de-stress.”
Yoongi thinks if Hoseok knew the reason why anime calms him down so much, he would be more sympathetic. But he doesn’t. At this particular point in time, nobody does. It’s another secret he keeps deep inside. Locked in a cage right next to his heavy heart.
“No,” Hoseok says in that stern yet enjoyable voice of his. “You’re coming to the party with me.”
“No,” Yoongi just continues to whine. “Hobi please don’t do this to me, c’mon.”
“I’m forcing you. You need to get out more.”
Yoongi wants to reply that he gets out everyday to go to classes, lectures and study groups and maybe he just wants to spend the weekends alone, but before he can say anything, Hoseok hangs up the phone.
And instantly, Yoongi’s knows it’s going to be a long night.
This time, Yoongi’s distraction is not his own fault.
He hasn’t gotten any drinks yet, so he stands awkwardly with a group of Hoseok’s friends from his dance team as they talk about some pop group’s new album that apparently just came out and argue over what the best song on it is.
But he’s barely listening to whatever Hoseok is saying about how ‘the choreo in the title track didn’t match the vibe of the music at all’ or any other comments he’s making about the music because he’s too focused on a boy in the far corner of the room. Sitting on the top of a small bookshelf literally reading .
At a party.
Yoongi is confused partly because how is he focusing on reading when the music is so loud that Yoongi can barely hear his own thoughts? And he looks so calm and unbothered. Doesn’t he feel awkward? Yoongi would feel at least a little awkward reading a book in the middle of all the wild dancing and drunk shouts.
“I’m going to get a drink,” Yoongi says as an excuse to leave, although nobody really hears him or pays him much attention, too busy spreading out to start the dance battle they’ve decided to have. Yoongi rolls his eyes at how much they’re all trying to impress Hoseok and walks over to the boy engrossed in his book.
“You know it's Friday, right?” Yoongi says as a song that was playing comes to an end. The boy looks up. “You’re supposed to procrastinate on your reading assignments until Sunday night like every other student does.”
The boy looks confused for a second but then quickly raises his eyebrows in understanding. “Oh, I’m uh actually reading by choice.” He chuckles cutely and Yoongi is taken aback. Yoongi knows he should focus on what the boy is saying rather than being distracted by his face but the boy in front of him right now is beautiful . And that’s an understatement. Yoongi has the sudden urge to run his hands through the boy’s soft looking, brown hair.
“My friend kind of forced me to come here. Said I need to get out more,” the boy says.
Yoongi is tempted to say something stupid like I think you’re really pretty or We must be soulmates because my friend forced me to come here too. And he used those exact words , as if that’s a perfectly normal reason to think somebody is your soulmate.
“What’s your name?” Yoongi asks, enamoured.
The boy is about to say something but right as he opens his mouth, another loud song suddenly bursts from the speakers and Yoongi stumbles forward as a girl and her friend push past him and yell something like “ This is my song! ”
“What?” Yoongi tries to yell over the music but it’s like the person controlling the music doesn’t want people to be able to talk. Or even think. The bass is so loud Yoongi can feel it throughout his body. Heart beating to the same rhythm as the rap song.
The boy doesn’t reply but rather grabs Yoongi’s wrist and the untouched cup that was sitting next to him. Yoongi lets himself be dragged all the way to the end of the living room and around a corner. The boy seems so familiar with the place as he walks down the hallway that Yoongi wonders if he lives here. He doesn’t seem like the fraternity type.
The boy opens the door to the room at the end of the hallway and brings Yoongi inside. He turns on the light, shuts the door as the music outside fades to a much more quiet level in the background and goes to sit in the desk chair against the wall, propping his feet on the desk. Yoongi just stands awkwardly by the door.
“Ah, much better,” the boy says and leans back, placing his book and drink on top of a chemistry textbook on the table. “I’m Taehyung. You go to this university, right?”
“Um yes,” Yoongi says as he goes to sit on the bed. Yoongi notices that their school mascot and school colors, white and blue, are on almost every item in the room, which just verifies that this is definitely a frat house. The room is tiny, though, so automatically him and Taehyung are sitting close to each other. And Yoongi is thankful for this fact because Taehyung is even better looking up close. He’s wearing a black button up shirt and black skinny jeans. He has on makeup that makes his big eyes pop and he's wearing lip gloss. Yoongi can’t seem to stop staring at his face. But maybe that’s a good thing. Because focusing on his face is at least focusing on something . “Why did you bring me in here?”
Taehyung shrugs. “I don’t know. It was too loud out there.” He grabs his drink and takes a sip. “And I’m trying to like make an effort to make more friends and stuff.”
Yoongi can relate.
“Because you want to make more friends or because that one friend told you that you needed more?” Yoongi asks.
Taehyung glances at him and puts his drink down again, legs still propped up on the table.
“You know, that’s a good question,” Taehyung says, crossing his arms. “This is actually his room, though, so we can’t talk trash about him here.” Yoongi chuckles.
“Let me guess,” Yoongi says, pointing to his book. “Literature major? You guys are like fucking aliens, I swear.”
Taehyung looks genuinely taken aback as he brings his legs down from the desk and puts his hand over his heart in mock offense. It makes Yoongi think of another time and space. Of somebody else's heart. “Excuse me? At least I’m not a math major.”
“Good point.” Taehyung hands him his drink and Yoongi accepts it to take a sip, surprised to find out it’s only soda. Orange soda. “Who’s your favorite author?”
“No, you can’t just ask a literature major that,” he whines and Yoongi usually finds whining annoying. But for some reason, with Taehyung, it’s cute. “Um, what genre?”
“I don’t know, like,” Yoongi’s brain goes blank and he’s thinking about how it always seems to go blank at all the wrong times. Stupid neurons, always so undependable. “What is there? Uh sci-fi? Romance?”
Taehyung laughs loudly at Yoongi’s lack of genre knowledge and he can feel his heart fluttering at the sound. Skipping a beat. So engrossed by the lovely sound that it forgets to pump blood to Yoongi’s other organs for a second. And Yoongi is dramatic but his heart doesn’t usually flutter, because it’s always been too unbearably heavy to do so. Sometimes he can feel the muscle weighing him down.
“Well I actually don’t read too much sci-fi. But I am a sucker for romance novels. Have even stayed up entire nights reading them. But so many of them are bad! Like half of them are unrealistic, which is kind of understandable because it’s fiction. But at the same time there has to be the perfect level of cheesiness and realistic-ness, if you know what I mean? If there’s not the correct balance, the book can be hard to read, or just plain boring.”
Taehyung continues to talk about his love-hate relationship with romance novels for so long that after a while Yoongi forgets that he’s even at party. It feels like him and Taehyung are in their own little world for a while because for the first time in a long time, Yoongi isn’t thinking so much about his sister and his family. About body parts. In fact, he has no trouble focusing on what Taehyung is saying. Every word that comes out of his mouth is so intelligent and captivating. And clear. Yoongi is almost jealous at how good he is at expressing his thoughts.
And his voice .
Hoseok’s voice is pleasant but Taehyung’s voice is soothing. His deep, timbre voice reminds Yoongi of drinking hot chocolate on cozy winter nights. Of watching a movie under a million blankets on a rainy day. Those subtle things that make life feel full and content. Even if just for a little while.
Listening to him speak, Yoongi has never felt more grounded in his life. Never felt so calm. And although he may never see the stranger again after tonight, he finds that he feels a little lighter around him. Like he weighs a little less. And he doesn’t necessarily know if that’s a good or bad thing.
“What?” Taehyung says. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
Yoongi, now laying down, realizes he’s just been smiling at Taehyung with his chin propped in his hand, the whole time he was talking. Not even nodding or acknowledging what he was saying. But before he can answer, Taehyung is already speaking again.
“Oh! I never asked what you’re majoring in. That was so rude of me, sorry.”
Yoongi wants to tell him to keep talking about himself. That he wants to keep hearing him speak and maybe fall asleep to his voice. Just for tonight.
“Um.. general studies?” Yoongi says it like he’s confused, because maybe he is. Maybe he’s been confused since his freshman year of college.
Taehyung’s eyebrows raise. “General studies? What’s…” he seems like he doesn’t want to be rude by asking what the fuck is a major in General Studies? And why would anyone want to major in a such an elusive thing? But because Yoongi doesn’t know how to tell him that he’s just as confused as Taehyung is, that he feels aimless sometimes, he just chuckles awkwardly.
“Yeah, I had a hard time choosing. I’ll just leave it at that.”
“Okay,” he says, voice suddenly softer. “Fine with me.”
Yoongi looks up from where he had started to play with his fingers to see that Taehyung is giving him a warm smile like he’s looking through Yoongi’s eyes and straight into the organ that pumps his blood. Is it possible for something to calm you and make you nervous at the same time? Can your body be ambiguous in that way?
And Yoongi doesn’t consider himself a lucky person at all, but after meeting somebody like Taehyung, at a party he almost didn’t even attend, he wants to say thank you to Time for lining them up so perfectly.
That night, when Yoongi is carrying a blacked-out Hoseok back to his car as the last of the party goers are heading home, he would usually be annoyed. Would usually curse at Hoseok and ramble on about how he shouldn’t have even come. But tonight he says nothing, because for once he doesn’t regret coming. And the thought of Taehyung is enough to keep him smiling.
Yoongi is in shock for two reasons.
One, he can’t believe that he’s somehow in this foul smelling, nightmare of a bathroom stall again. And two,
somebody has actually replied to his note.
Yoongi stands in front of the toilet, staring at the note that he had completely forgotten about until today when he came to use the bathroom after his morning lecture. This time when he came in there was no line. In fact the bathroom was empty.
The reply says;
‘ What was?’
It sits right off to the side of Yoongi’s ‘ I feel like it was my fault, ’ connected by a hand drawn arrow. And Yoongi hates how much the innocent question fills his brain with thoughts of hearts. And more hearts. Of organs. Of bones. Of skin and bones. Of collapsing. Disappearing. Scary things that bring up thoughts he tries so hard to keep deep down. Thoughts that make his legs feel weak all of a sudden.
He upcaps the marker in his hand, after five minutes of thinking about what he should reply. He looks around to make sure nobody is watching him, but then chastises himself for being so anxious because he’s in a stall and nobody can see him in here. Yet he feels like he shouldn’t reveal something so significant in a bathroom . And to a random stranger. But he does, because maybe he’s scared of what may happen if he keeps it inside any longer. Can hearts explode? Like bombs?
‘ My sister’s heart failure. I feel like it was my fault for not being there enough, or in the ways that I should have been, ’ he writes underneath the little note off to the side.
And suddenly he wishes he was Taehyung, because maybe if he read so many novels. Maybe if he had actually read his assigned books in high school instead of bullshitting his way through. Maybe if he was smarter, he would be able to properly write down his feelings on this stupid, disgusting bathroom wall.
After he’s done, he washes his hands in the silence that is so prominent it feels as if it’s almost strangling him. He doesn’t look in the mirror, because that would make this moment more real than he would like it to be.
When he walks out of the bathroom, he doesn’t look back.
The next time he sees Taehyung, Yoongi is sleep deprived from trying to finish the last of his assignments from the literature section of his major.
He had been reading the third chapter of The Great Gatsby but couldn’t seem to get past the first line without getting distracted. He was considering maybe taking a break and procrastinating more by watching some anime right when he received a text from Hoseok asking him to come to the movies with him and some of his friends.
And although he hadn’t necessarily felt like meeting some of Hoseok’s over-energetic dance team friends at the moment, he would have much rather been with Hoseok than there in his room trying to focus on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s over-descriptive, entirely too long paragraphs. Talk about run-on sentences. His seemed to just keep running and running forever.
So here he is, eyes feeling like raisins as him and Hoseok order concessions. Yoongi’s wearing his large, oversized bomber jacket that almost reaches his knees, and is leaning on the counter as Hoseok pays for a large popcorn. He uses the excuse that they’re going to share it, even though Yoongi knows Hoseok’s just going to eat the entire bucket. Says the butter is addicting.
Yoongi just buys a large slurpee. Always blueberry flavored.
And they’re waiting on their popcorn and drinks, Yoongi whining about how they shouldn’t have picked an action movie because action movies are boring, when someone behind them shouts Hoseok’s name.
“Oh hey! Took you guys long enough. It’s ten past eight, the movie’s probably started by now,” Hoseok says as they approach. And Yoongi is unprepared when he turns around.
There, standing in front of him is Taehyung from the party he attended two weeks ago. He’s wearing no makeup and his hair falls messily in front of his face, yet he’s wearing an expensive looking leather jacket over a white button up and plain black tie, black jeans, and black boots. Way too dressed up for something as casual as the movies. But Yoongi loves it. Loves how unafraid he is of standing out. It’s inspiring, in a way.
“Yoongi, this is Jimin, one of my friend’s from the dance team,” Hoseok says, pointing to the guy beside Taehyung who is dressed casually like the rest of them. He smiles and instantly Yoongi knows he won't feel uncomfortable around him. “And this is Taehyung.”
He almost wants to drop to his knees and say thank you to Hoseok. Say thank you so much for knowing Taehyung so that I can see him. Talk to him again.
Taehyung chuckles like he’s thinking exactly what Yoongi’s thinking; It’s funny how the universe works sometimes or something like that.
“We’ve actually met before.” Taehyung says.
“At that party,” Yoongi adds, still looking at Taehyung and smiling at the memory.
Hoseok raises his eyebrows, like he can see something in Yoongi that nobody else can. “Taehyung was there? Wow, he never goes to parties.”
“Hey! I go to parties all the time,” Taehyung argues, though Yoongi has a hard time believing him.
“Name the last time you went to a party. And the one you met Yoongi at doesn’t count.”
They continue to argue about it until they go into their theater to find that the movie has already started. They rush to their seats, although almost all the seats are empty (It’s a Wednesday night) and Yoongi ends up sitting next to Taehyung.
“If I catch you reading at all during this movie, I’m telling,” Yoongi whispers to Taehyung, leaning in so he can hear him.
“I wont, I wont.” He lifts up his hands in mock surrender. “I even left my book at home.”
“What book?” Yoongi doesn’t know why he asks. Maybe it’s because some part of his chaotic brain just knows that he needs to hear Taehyung go on one of his long book rants again.
And even though Yoongi hates reading and writing with everything he has, he wants to write a poem about Taehyung. About his expressive, shining eyes as he mimics the characters in his books, or his silly hand gestures when describing a plot to Yoongi, or the cute way he scrunches his nose just the tiniest bit when talking about the little things authors do that he hates. Because all of these things are so uniquely Taehyung that it makes Yoongi’s stomach feel weird. Makes his head feel woozy with something akin to adoration. Makes his heart pound faster. Makes his body react in weird, nonsensical ways yet he isn’t even aware of it. He’s not thinking about it or questioning it.
Because even with the yelling and crashes and chaos on the big screen, all he can focus on is Taehyung.
They end up whispering about the book that Taehyung’s reading and why it’s so good throughout the entire movie. Jimin and Hoseok shush them multiple times but Taehyung always eventually ends up whispering again, like there’s something inside of him that can’t be contained. Yoongi doesn’t want him to keep it inside. He never wants that spark, that fire inside of Taehyung to ever die down.
He wouldn’t mind being consumed by it.
And by the end, when they’re outside shivering in the cold, winter air, and Jimin and Hoseok are discussing the movie, Yoongi realizes he doesn’t remember much of it at all, too busy being held captive by a very captivating Kim Taehyung.
And for the first time in his life, he thinks maybe distractions aren’t such a bad thing.
It’s kind of funny, actually.
It’s funny how Yoongi keeps finding himself back in this bathroom in the literature department of the university. It’s been about two months since the back and forth notes between Yoongi and the mysterious bathroom boy started, and by now their conversation has spread onto the other wall, some notes having been written right over other ones.
Yet, he hasn’t told anybody about it. Not Hoseok. And not even Taehyung, who he’s gotten so close to over the last month. They text almost everyday, and when they’re not texting they’re either hanging out in Yoongi’s dorm watching the new anime they started together; School Rumble, or they’re in Taehyung’s dorm as he tells Yoongi about all the different books on his shelf and why he likes each one. They had an agreement that there was no book talk allowed at Yoongi’s place and anime was prohibited at Taehyung’s. Although Yoongi often wants to give in and let Taehyung talk about whatever he wants, he had mostly made the rule because Taehyung wouldn’t let him watch anime at his dorm.
(“And this one is about a girl,” Taehyung explains, standing near his crowded, white book shelves that have fairy lights strung over them. Yoongi lays on Taehyung’s bed, leaning on his crossed arms against the pillow as he watches Taehyung gesture wildly, and it’s freezing in his room but the only reason he isn’t under the covers is because Taehyung insists that getting under the blankets in clothes you wore to class is not something normal, sanitary people do. Yoongi doesn’t disagree but he still doesn’t necessarily care.
“And she witnesses someone die from getting hit by a drunk driver, then when she goes to sleep and wakes up she re-lives that same day over and over. And each time, she tries to save the person who died but she always fails. So she gives up for a while, but then eventually-” Taehyung’s eyes suddenly find their way to another book on the shelf. “Oh look! The Alchemist.”
Yoongi has the urge to laugh at his inability to stay on one book for too long, but he just smiles even wider than he already is because he finds it so endearing. He’s so interesting to listen to that Yoongi knows he’s boring in comparison.
“I would tell you about this, but you’ve probably already read it. Everybody has,” Taehyung says, already about to put the small, orange book back on the shelf and pick up another one.
And doesn’t Taehyung know Yoongi by now? He doesn’t read . At all.
“The alcha- what?”
Taehyung turns to look at him and he has the funniest expression on his ever-expressive face. Yoongi can’t help but burst into laughter but Taehyung just scrunches his face in annoyance.
“Oh my god. No. Yoongi, no!” he says, in such an overdramatic way that Yoongi can’t help but roll his eyes. “Don’t tell me you haven't read The Alchemist.”
“Well you haven't seen Naruto so I guess we’re even.”
Taehyung scoffs and looks at Yoongi with an incredulous expression on his face. He knows he’s broken the rule of not bringing up anime in Taehyung’s dorm but seriously, what has anime ever done to Taehyung to deserve this kind of loathing?
“I can’t believe you’re comparing literature, literally a form of art, to anime.”
“Excuse me?” Yoongi sits up so suddenly that he feels himself get dizzy. “Anime is an art form.”)
Now as he stands in the bathroom, he doesn’t feel as light.
‘I feel like it was my fault’
‘my sister’s heart failure. I feel like it was my fault for not being there enough, or in the ways that I should have been’
‘why would it be your fault that your sister’s heart gave out on her?’ That one is halfway scratched out, like the person wanted to take back what they wrote, but just apologized instead.
‘wait, that sounded insensitive sorry :(‘
‘she has some mental issues, apparently they were so bad that it became a physical problem’
‘what kind of mental issues? and how could they become physical?’
‘you wouldn’t understand’
‘try me. I want to give you advice but you’re so vague’
‘well this is a bathroom’
‘so it’s the perfect place for all of your secrets. tell me’
As Yoongi reads over the conversation for the millionth time, he feels himself beginning to shake. Because he hasn’t said the words in so long. And this is just writing them down, but somehow it feels just as hard. It feels like all the people who ever wrote anything on this wall are watching him. Listening to all of Jiwoo’s secrets. All of Yoongi’s even deeper secrets.
‘ she has anorexia, ’ he writes and he hates the ugly word. The one that changed him and his family forever. ‘ I feel like I’ve lost her and I don’t know what to do. I just want my best friend back. ’
He feels pathetic for talking about this to a stranger on the wall. So absolutely pathetic, he can feel the tears on his face before he even realizes he’s crying. Everything he’s been trying so hard not to think about hits him all at once, like a freight train. Like a freight train hitting an almost weightless body. One that’s already been trying so hard to stay standing.
All the memories come back. The ones where Yoongi was only a senior in high school, excited to graduate. To go to the highly acclaimed Seoul University. When Jiwoo was only in the eighth grade. When she first showed the signs. Symptoms, as the doctors liked to call them.
His family had thought it was only a phase. But she’d been to therapy and even stayed at a psychiatric hospital for weeks only to go back to her bad habits six months afterwards. It’s been years but somehow it never went away like they all expected it to. A couple months ago, she had been rushed to the emergency room for heart arrhythmia. Yoongi can say confidently that it was the worst day of his life. Or maybe not the worst, but definitely the scariest. Getting the call from his parents, he thought maybe his heart was stopping as well.
Even now, at nineteen years old, Jiwoo is in a rehabilitation center once again. One for adults. But she doesn’t let any of them visit her, not even Yoongi. And he’s not going to lie, it hurts. It feels like punches to the heart. Maybe a knife in the back. Because Jiwoo and him had been so close growing up. Even having a four year difference in age, they told eachother everything. On weekdays, Yoongi would hurry back from middle school to watch the next episode of Bleach that came on the little T.V. in their basement with Jiwoo. His sister whining whenever Yoongi would forget to bring slurpees back for them to drink while watching it. Blueberry was her favorite. They would tell each other secrets at night in the room that they shared together. They even had a little club they called The Min Club where they would sign in on a little piece of paper they always lost and sit in the living room, pulling their “anonymous” questions from a box and giving advice to each other. And when one of Jiwoo’s friends, Mina, tried to join, they both denied her. Said it was for family members only. Looking back on it, it was pretty dumb. But Yoongi wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now she’s closed off. Doesn’t even call. Yoongi hasn’t seen or heard from her in months. The one who was always there for Yoongi when he couldn’t turn to any of his other friends. The one he trusted with anything. She was Yoongi’s best friend and suddenly one day, she was gone.
Yoongi’s sitting on the bathroom floor now, right in front of the black toilet, head in his hands thinking about how he feels so lost without his sister. He would normally be too grossed out to do this, but right now he’s too busy thinking about disappearing hearts. He wants to tell his sister that he feels like a ghost, just like how she seems to have become. Wants to scream “ I’m twenty-three but I have no idea what I’m doing with my life and I need your help. ”
He stands up quickly, and impulsively scribbles out what he just wrote, because Jiwoo is so much more than her eating disorder. Yet, nobody who reads this wall will ever know that. But even with lines through the words, you can still see what they say.
And he realizes it all really just comes down to him being scared. Because even when she is miles and miles away in a facility that is supposed to make her better, Yoongi is perpetually in a state of worry for her. And the inevitable question permeates his brain, constantly bouncing around up there: will her heart become too weak to go on? Or rather, will it become too heavy for her that she will simply collapse under the weight?
And although Yoongi and Jiwoo are different in so many ways, Yoongi thinks. Jiwoo and him are a lot more familiar than he ever realized.
“I’ll try not to give too much of my interpretation, but I think that’s what your professor may mean when he says ‘old money’ and ‘new money’ and how it affects the way the characters show their love for-” Taehyung pauses and it makes Yoongi snap out of his daydreams. His daydreams of bathrooms. A certain bathroom. And a certain anonymous person.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Taehyung says for the third time tonight. “You really do seem distracted.”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Yoongi says again, picking his pencil back up to get ready and take more notes.
When Yoongi had called Taehyung to come over earlier and help him with one of his last assignments, Taehyung easily agreed. And the study session would actually be going very well if Yoongi could stay focused. This is the first time he’s been so unable to focus around Taehyung, but he can’t help it. He feels so far away from him right now. Taehyung knows almost nothing about him other than the fact that he’s obsessed with anime. And he doesn’t even know why he likes anime so much.
What would he think of Yoongi if he knew more about him? About his sister? Would he treat him differently?
Taehyung sighs loudly as he closes his copy of The Great Gatsby and sets it on the cluttered desk they’re sitting at. It’s meant to fit only one chair, but Taehyung and Yoongi squished two chairs next to each other the best they could and are now sitting very close. Knees touching every once in a while.
“Look,” Taehyung says. “I know we’ve only known each other for a couple of months now and we don't really know anything about each other but...well, you can trust me.”
And, despite being a closed off person, he really does feel like he can trust Taehyung. He wants to tell him everything. How he feels guilty. How he fears he may be disappearing. How he feels like he’s carrying the weight of more than one world on his shoulders.
Maybe this is the part where Taehyung gets tired of Yoongi’s pad-locked personality. Because Taehyung tells him everything, like a wide open book, yet Yoongi gives back nothing in return.
Sometimes he wants to ask Taehyung stupid things. Something like, will you leave me too?
But Yoongi changes the subject because he can feel his hands starting to shake.
“Are you fucking serious?” Yoongi says, putting his pencil down and pushing his notebook away. “Taehyung, I know you better than you know yourself ”
And just like that, the air isn't so tense anymore. Questions being swept under the rug so easily it’s almost funny.
“Oh yeah? And what makes you think you know me so well Min Yoongi?” Taehyung says, looking suddenly amused.
Yoongi loves the way his name sounds coming out of Taehyung’s mouth.
“Well I know that you love reading so much and that you want to be a writer but you never write anything because you’re too scared of it being like.. not legendary or something. You want to be remembered. Not just another forgotten author. And I know one of your favorite authors is Ernest Hemingway because he’s forward and straight to the point and says everything clearly so that you’re never left without answers. I know that you hate Nathaniel Hawthorne’s writing because he’s ambiguous and abstract in his books and uses too many, what do you call them? Double entendres or something. And you like when you can debate over books but you absolutely hate when too many things are left open to interpretation.” Yoongi is about to say you’re not the only one who hates being confused , but he holds himself back. “I know that your favorite genre is romance. That reading was your favorite subject since elementary school and that you knew you wanted to be a writer ever since you were in the seventh grade. I know that all your clothes are either black or white, that you hate anime, and that your favorite drink is orange soda.” Yoongi finishes, and looks up from where he had been counting the things he knew about Taehyung on his fingers. “I have you entirely figured out, Kim Taehyung.”
Taehyung is just staring at him in what seems to be shock. Yoongi feels heat rising to his cheeks out of embarrassment, and he looks down at his paper again, pretending to read over the notes. But then he suddenly remembers his sister’s words from one of their Min Club meetings when he was just a junior in high school and Jiwoo was only a socially anxious yet smart little seventh grader.
‘ Go after the things you want Yoons. You deserve it. ’
He thinks about her cute little smile and realizes he hasn’t seen it in years.
So before he can even think about it, he leans over and gives Taehyung a quick peck on the lips. It happens so fast that Yoongi’s brain is already scrambling to remember it not even a second after Yoongi’s mouth leaves Taehyung’s.
“Sorry,” he says before Taehyung can say anything. Because if Taehyung says anything that will, again, make what he just did real. And he wants it to be real but at the same time he thinks he may not be ready. For what? He doesn’t know.
“Don’t apologize,” Taehyung says, and Yoongi’s not looking but it sounds like he is smiling.
“Stop making it awkward,” Yoongi chuckles, still staring down at his paper where the words suddenly seem jumbled. “Say something. Nevermind, don’t say anything. Let’s just finish this assignment” Why does it feel like he’s panicking while Taehyung is so calm? And why is he panicking in the first place? It’s not like he’s never kissed anybody before. But his legs feel like jelly. He feels a little lightheaded and there’s that funny feeling in his stomach again. Why does his body seem to do such fantastical things when he’s around Taehyung?
“Okay,” is all that Taehyung says, in that gentle, understanding voice of his.
And they do. They study, and when they’re done they get comfortable under Yoongi’s blankets and start the next season of School Rumble. And they say things. Don't say some things. Are quiet and loud in all the right and simultaneously wrong ways.
The next morning is when everything changes.
Or maybe nothing changes. Maybe it’s up to interpretation, like Taehyung always likes to say.
Yoongi is walking Taehyung to his morning class like he always does on Mondays. Although he despises waking up early, he'll do it if it means getting to stay by Taehyung's side longer.
Can a body become dependent on another one? And is that a good or bad thing? Yoongi isn’t so sure.
They're walking past the bathroom right as Taehyung apparently needs to pee.
“I don’t get it, he always gets a better grade on his essays than me and then wants to rub it in my face. And I’ve read some of his papers, they’re not even that good. Like, we get it, McMurphy failed to escape a mental institution and ended up becoming like the rest of the patients. But why did he fail? And what does it really represent-”
Taehyung is talking about Hyunmin, a student in his American Literature class that Taehyung seems to be in constant competition with. Of course Yoongi thinks Taehyung’s writing is more sophisticated and just better overall - but he may or may not be biased.
In the middle of his sentence, Taehyung pauses like he’s just remembered something. Yoongi watches in a panic as Taehyung says, “Wait, I need to use the bathroom.” And throws away his now empty can of orange soda as he heads towards the door.
But of course Yoongi tries to convince him to use a different one because there are secrets in that bathroom. Secrets that Taehyung doesn’t know about.
“Hey, your class starts in like five minutes,” Yoongi says, panicked. “Maybe you should use the one upstairs.”
But Taehyung is already going inside, and like a lost puppy, Yoongi follows him.
Normally, the scent of cleaner mixed with the faint smell of urine and rusty tap water would make him gag, but he barely notices because he’s too busy watching his worst fear literally come to life as Taehyung walks right into the last stall in the restroom where Yoongi’s heart is splattered on the wall for anyone to see.
And Yoongi should calm down because there’s no way for Taehyung to tell that it’s Yoongi’s notes on the walls, right?
Why did he write those things anyway? He should have never responded to the stupid note in the first place.
Millions of thoughts are running through his head as he tries to distract himself by fixing his hair in the mirror. But no matter what he does, it seems there’s always one strand out of place. He feels his heart beating fast like it’s a child that’s had too much caffeine. And looking at the reflection of his eyes, he swears he can see them shaking.
The body and all it’s different systems are so weird . Things like goosebumps, the fear of the dark, and the well-known fight or flight response all originated in the body and brain with one common goal: to protect humans from physical danger.
Yet here Yoongi is, shaking with anxiety over some words on a wall. He hates it. Hates his body for it. And he hates how dramatic he is but he can’t help but think about how his body sometimes feels like a prison. Like a punishment.
Guilty as charged.
“Leaving your mark on the infamous wall?” Yoongi asks as he hears a click, like Taehyung is uncapping a marker. He tries not to let the anxiousness in his voice show.
“Something like that,” Taehyung mumbles.
Every second feels like a year and and Taehyung’s taking so long to write whatever dumb shit he’s writing on the wall. Probably a quote from one of his favorite books; Pride and Prejudice. That stupid line about how Mr. Darcy ardently admires and loves the main character.
But the fear prevails that he may be reading Yoongi’s notes. And it’s not like he’s confessed to murder on the stall or something but before Jiwoo developed it, he had always associated eating disorders with freaks. Weirdos. And Jiwoo isn’t one, but how could Taehyung know that? Would he be scared away? Or worse, would he undermine her pain and say that she is choosing to be that way?
Yoongi hates uncertainty. Hates it so much that before he can stop himself, he goes to the stall and opens the flimsy door so abruptly (of course he would leave it unlocked) that it almost hits Taehyung. They can barely both fit inside, but Yoongi goes in anyway to find that Taehyung is in the middle of replying to- his note?
Taehyung turns around to face Yoongi, surprise and dread written all over his face. The space is so small that they’re only standing a couple inches apart.
Yoongi glances behind Taehyung and sees words written underneath his last note. It reads ‘It’s not y-’ But it’s unfinished and Yoongi is too shocked to try and guess what he was going to write.
He looks at Taehyung only to realize he doesn’t look surprised anymore. He’s biting his lip and his eyes are wide like he’s worried.
“I don’t know what to say, Yoongi,” he says and Yoongi realizes maybe he wasn’t the only one trying to keep his voice from shaking. “What do you even say to someone like this? I just want to help.”
“No way,” Yoongi says, and he never expected to meet the person behind the caring bathroom notes, but this moment is unexpectedly anticlimactic. “ You’re the mystery bathroom boy?”
Taehyung looks confused for a second before his eyes widen in realization.
Yoongi just chuckles because how is Taehyung always there for him? Even when he isn’t aware. Even behind scribbled words and bathroom walls, he was somehow there for Yoongi.
“Y-You’re-” Taehyung points at the messy words on the wall with his marker, but doesn’t finish his sentence before he pulls Yoongi into a tight hug.
He usually doesn’t like hugs, but with Taehyung he does. It just feels right. Taehyung is warm and solid in all the right ways and he’s there . And even though it’s winter right now, his hug feels like summer bonfires at the beach as you watch the sunset or eating melted ice cream with your best friend on the first day of summer vacation.
And as Yoongi hugs him back and even tucks his face into his neck, he keeps telling himself not to cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Because that would be dramatic and nobody wants to seem like they’re begging for attention. But he’s overwhelmed because, in the silent, unpleasant bathroom stall, there’s a certain understanding between the two of them that he’s never felt with anybody else. No confusion. No double entendres. None of that.
Just a quiet understanding.
One that says, ‘ I’m scared too. I’m terrified just like you. I’m scared of not being enough the same way you’re scared you weren’t enough. ’ One that says, ‘ It’s okay to be afraid. When you’re feeling alone, I’ll be your best friend. Your lover. And everything in between. ’
It’s like he can feel the tension in the air from earlier dissipating.
When they pull apart Yoongi wants to say something because he feels like he should, but he doesn’t know what. I like you? I may even love you? But again, that’s dramatic.
When they quietly step outside the stall and walk outside the bathroom there is someone washing their hands at the sink who must have come in without them noticing. They recieve a weird look from the boy, but neither of them pay him too much attention.
And Taehyung is beyond late to class but he decides to go anyway, giving Yoongi one of his looks as he walks into the classroom. Says a light “see you soon” that Yoongi holds on to.
He plans on going home to take a nap or work on some assignments, but he ends up just waiting for Taehyung outside his class the entire hour and a half, doing what he does best; thinking.
Of Jiwoo and how she’s doing. Does her heart still hurt? Does she look the same way she looked when he saw her at the hospital? Are the other patients treating her well? She had always been popular in middle school, albeit a little shy. Made friends very easily.
He thinks about anime and how he wants to watch some with Jiwoo when she gets released. Just the two of them. Wants to feel like a kid with her again, even if just for a couple hours.
He thinks about fear, and how maybe he needs to start doing things even when he’s scared.
So when Taehyung walks out of his classroom after it’s ended and spots Yoongi leaning against the wall, Yoongi just says, “I want to go visit my sister.” And Taehyung, in that strong yet soft voice of his replies, “Okay.”
You haven’t seen her in five months? Why?” Taehyung asks from the passenger seat of Yoongi’s car as they’re about to arrive in Jeonju to visit Jiwoo at the Bloom & Grow Recovery Center . After an hour and a half of them driving, Taehyung has his chair reclined all the way back, his shoes off, and his feet up on the dashboard even though Yoongi keeps telling him to put them down. He only listens for a little bit before putting them back up again.
“Because I’m dramatic as fuck and it’s always made me emotional just thinking about visiting.”
“You’re not dramatic, Yoongi.” Taehyung sighs. “Your feelings are valid you know. Your fears are too.”
Yoongi looks out the window to avoid eye contact and spots the recovery center a couple blocks up. It looks almost like a big house, rather than a hospital like Yoongi imagined.
“I just always thought she went to a center so far away because she didn’t want any of us to come visit her. I still do,” he says after they’ve parked the car and are getting out.
“I’m sure she’ll be glad to see you,” Taehyung says, but even he sounds uncertain.
When they walk in and go up the the reception desk to ask to visit Jiwoo, he’s mostly expecting the young lady behind the computer, with a name tag that reads ‘ Mina ’ to say something silly like family members are prohibited or worse, that Jiwoo doesn’t allow visitors at all. But instead, she just smiles and asks for their names.
Once she hands them each a name tag and leads them to the visitor room, she says, “The group therapy session should be ending soon, so she’ll be here in a little bit.”
They sit down at one of the fancy, marble tables in the large room where there are only three other families. Even with Taehyung sitting beside him, Yoongi feels anxious because what do you say to your sister who you haven’t seen in almost half a year? He knows what he wants to say; ‘What happened? What happened that year in eighth grade to make you this way?’
Somehow the thought of her eating disorder being caused by a specific event would make him feel a little better. Like maybe it could have been prevented. Something that wasn’t supposed to happen.
Are we more than our bodies? Do they determine who we are?
Yoongi doesn’t have time to ponder the weird questions before he hears a soft voice say, “Yoons?”
He looks up from where he was fiddling with his fingers, to see Jiwoo standing there in sweatpants and her Sailor Moon t-shirt from high school that has the letters ‘MOONCHILD’ written across the front with a picture of the main character, Usagi next to it. It’s hard to tell, but he notices that she’s not as thin as the last time he saw her.
“I can’t believe you’re actually here right now. I almost didn’t believe Mina when she told me you were here to visit. Who’s this?” She asks, smiling. But Yoongi knows his sister well enough to know it’s not her real smile. But at least she’s trying. So he’ll try too.
“This is Taehyung,” he says as Taehyung bows and Jiwoo bows back. “My…friend.” Yoongi says, uncertain. What are they anyway? Calling him a friend seems unfitting, but it’s not like they’re dating or anything. Right?
“I’ll wait over there so you guys can talk,” Taehyung says, touching him gently on the shoulder.
And Jiwoo and him are awkward at first. Lost for words. Yoongi is stuck wanting to ask something like ‘Are you okay?’ or ‘Is your heart gonna be fine?’ But it seems like a shaky subject, so they just talk about things that aren’t so heavy. They don’t talk about how the food tastes at the facility or how much she weighs or what the therapists are saying about her case. They talk about things like the other nice girls in her dorm, how Jiwoo talked with their parents over the phone recently, what Yoongi is planning to do when the semester ends. They even talk about Taehyung a little, Yoongi trying his hardest not to blush and be too obvious.
It’s just small talk. But it’s progress. And when Yoongi and Taehyung are getting ready to leave, Jiwoo leans in for a hug.
“I missed you,” she says and Yoongi can feel himself getting dramati- well, emotional. He can feel himself getting emotional. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. “Don’t leave me for so long again,” she whispers.
“I won’t,” he says and he can see Taehyung from the corner of his eye watching them with a smile on his face.
After they arrange a time when he will visit again, Yoongi and Taehyung walk back to his car and drive straight to the frozen yogurt place they passed on the way to the center, because Yoongi suddenly feels like frozen yogurt. Blueberry flavored.
They decide to eat along a lake they find near the yogurt shop that has a lot of evergreen trees and a huge playground next to it, crowded with a bunch of kids.
It’s only five, but the sun is already starting to set. And Yoongi shivers as he eats another spoonful of his frozen treat and swings his legs against the ledge.
It’s silent for a while, Taehyung and him enjoying the scenery in front of them until Taehyung speaks up.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m losing myself,” he says suddenly, looking into his cup of yogurt with a downcast expression on his face. Yoongi doesn’t like it, he likes it best when Taehyung is smiling. Or laughing. That’s when he’s the most beautiful, although he’s really beautiful all the time.
And what does he mean? How can someone like Taehyung, someone always so steady and so sure feel like he’s losing himself? Yoongi wants to say he’s always been jealous of how Taehyung just knows that he wants. He’s known that he wanted to be a writer ever since he was in middle school. Yoongi is twenty three, about to graduate, and feels more lost than ever.
“I feel like I never even had myself,” Yoongi replies.
Taehyung looks at him. “Well, what do you enjoy doing?” Taehyung asks because somehow he just knows what Yoongi is talking about without him having to explain - like they’re connected in more ways than one. Maybe they are.
“I don’t know,” he says, setting his now empty frozen yogurt cup down. “Trying music sounds interesting to me but it always seemed like such a silly thing. Something I wouldn’t think of as a career, you know?”
“Try it. You might end up discovering that you actually love it.”
“Okay, but I don’t think I’ll ever love anything as much as you love books,” Yoongi says as he sticks his leg down a little further and splashes the water with the bottom of his shoe. “And I don’t think you’ll ever love anything as much as you love books either.”
Taehyung laughs and Yoongi smiles almost automatically
“I think there’s something else I may love as much as books.”
Yoongi’s heart beats faster at that because, not to assume things, but what would it be like to hear someone like Taehyung say ‘I love you’? Could he love someone like Yoongi? He blushes hard at the thought.
Because although he is bad with feelings, if you asked him how he feels about Taehyung and his soft brown hair and big eyes. About Taehyung and his habit of being loud and standing out unapologetically. If you asked him how he feels about Taehyung and his immense passion for books and all things literature. Well, he might just say something stupid like ‘I love him with all of my heart.’
And speaking of hearts, Yoongi decides to let his out of its cage. Even if just for a little while.
“Hey can I do something?” Yoongi asks.
Taehyung looks up at him from where he had been eating the last of his coconut yogurt. “Sure.”
There, in front of the nameless lake in a city miles away from Seoul as the sun sets against the water, Yoongi kisses Taehyung with something akin to passion.
Taehyung is taken by surprise and nearly drops his cup, but eventually puts it down to place his hands on Yoongi's neck. And as Taehyung kisses back and Yoongi bites lightly on his soft lips, he’s thinking about how he wants to kiss Taehyung forever. Because it feels safe. Right. Feels like weights lifted off of his shoulders. Off of his chest.
Yoongi finally pulls apart from Taehyung after a while and tries to control his breathing.
And Yoongi discovers that not only does it feel like the pain of the heart he never thought would stop hurting is finally starting to lessen, but it’s also a little easier to breathe now.
There’s a feeling in the air that both of them can sense. It’s like the feeling of waking up the morning after your high school graduation. It feels like attending your first wedding as a kid and seeing two people so in love that they want to start a life together. It feels like new beginnings.
He can feel hope blooming inside of his chest, because as long as he has Taehyung, he thinks maybe he no longer has to worry about carrying the weight of his heavy heart alone.