Shit, is the first word that comes to Yoongi’s mind when there’s a sudden drop in what was meant to be a short elevator ride down the apartment building. Yoongi was just about to go to the corner store to pick up dinner. The lurch is sudden, accompanied by a similar feeling in his gut, and the loud drag of the elevator car as it screeches to a halt is too much for Yoongi to handle, a half-shout leaving his lips before he even comes to terms with what’s going on.
“Fuck,” Yoongi says, when the lights flicker and dim. The lights of floors 7 and 8 blink back at him in the low lighting, and Yoongi is cursing all the gods he knows under his breath before he remembers that he hadn’t been alone in the elevator.
“Oh god,” the other guy says, and Yoongi looks at him for the first time since getting on from a different floor. He looks terrified, maybe a little more than Yoongi thinks he should be, but Yoongi can’t deny the little lump that forms in his throat from the sudden bout of nervousness that hits him.
Yoongi sighs. There goes his evening trip to the convenience store for his usual microwavable dinner. “Kid,” Yoongi says, and the other guy’s eyes snap up to him as if seeing Yoongi for the first time, “Don’t freak out. We’ll just press the emergency button and things will be fine.”
The other guy seems to calm just a little bit at that, though the wariness is still evident on his face. “Yeah. Yeah it’ll be ok! Just fine! No worries at all.” He says, breath coming a little short with each word he gets out. With his index finger, he jabs at the emergency button a few times, quick punches to the elevator keypad, and Yoongi refrains from smacking his hand away from it in annoyance.
The building manager’s voice crackles into life within the elevator car. “What’s going on there?”
“We’re stuck,” Yoongi says into the intercom, before the other guy can even cut in with a pained wail or some other nervously babbled cry for help. “Between floors seven and eight, and in the elevator closest to the wall.”
There’s a thump, and Yoongi watches as the other guy slumps against one side of the elevator, bulging backpack dropped haphazardly on the floor. Yoongi puts his finger to the intercom button again, “It would really be appreciated if you could get us out sometime tonight.”
There’s a moment of static, then the building manager is mumbling an ok, and the line goes quiet. Yoongi almost enjoys it, would be enjoying it, maybe, if not for the panicking man next to him.
“I’m Yoongi,” he offers instead, and he gives the other guy a curt nod out of courtesy more than anything else. If he was going to be stuck in an elevator with this guy for the next few hours until the building manager gets the technician in, he might as well attempt to be civil and as nice as possible so that neither of them get too freaked out.
“Taehyung,” the other guy says, and he shuffles a little bit closer to Yoongi, tiny steps at a time, as if taking in longer strides across the floor would upturn the balance of the elevator car and send them crashing to their doom. Yoongi leans back against the opposite wall and raises an eyebrow at him.
“Not very good with small spaces?”
Taehyung shakes his head so vigorously that his head pretty much becomes a blur of hair in front of Yoongi’s eyes. “I’m not good with considerably dangerous situations. I mean, I am but sometimes I’m not, and this is one of those times.” Taehyung says, and Yoongi notes the slight tinge of a Daegu accent seep through in Taehyung’s slight panic.
“You’re not from this building, are you?” Yoongi asks. The building is considerably small, and not considered prime real estate what with how old it is, and Yoongi thought that he at least knew every one of the residents if only by sight alone.
Taehyung shakes his head again, and Yoongi is reminded of an old family pet drying himself off after a shower. Except instead of a wet dog, there’s a grown man in front of him, and instead of his family apartment’s bathtub, he’s stuck with Taehyung in a broken down elevator car. Still, it would probably be cute if Taehyung weren’t so tightly strung.
“I’m sorry to tell you, but this happens on a regular basis, here,” Yoongi hums, and Taehyung almost pales a little bit before his whole demeanor changes.
“I know!” Taehyung all but blurts out, and Yoongi is just a little taken aback by his sudden outburst of what almost seems like excitement. “This isn’t the first time I’ve been stuck, but most times it’s been with Jiminnie!”
Yoongi raises his eyebrows at that. “You’re friends with Jimin?”
“Yep!” Taehyung nods enthusiastically. Yoongi almost wants to turn away because the motion is so fast, Taehyung might as well be going for the world record in head banging. “Best friends since our first year of high school. Are you my hyung then?”
Cute, Yoongi thinks, and he gives Taehyung a nod. Jimin lives in the apartment directly below his, which is probably why Yoongi has never seen Taehyung before. Jimin is friendly and overeager to get to know people, but they have a comfortable enough friendship that consists of loaning each other dvds and exchanging new ramyeon flavors a few times a month at midnight. Yoongi watches Taehyung shift his weight and bounce on his feet, and it’s not at all hard to imagine that the two are friends, and best friends at that.
Taehyung slumps back against his side of the elevator car and lets his head fall back with a thunk, and Yoongi winces at the sound. Well. Maybe Taehyung is just a little… stranger than he’d expected Jimin’s best friend to be.
Not that strange is necessarily a bad thing, that is, Yoongi ponders, as Taehyung reaches down for his backpack and for the zipper.
“Hyung!” Taehyung calls, and Yoongi suddenly has some kind of cooking utensil—at least he hopes it’s a cooking utensil—shoved in his face, barely an inch away from his nose. “Look what I got from the store earlier!”
Yoongi hesitates. The smell of brand new silicon coating fills his nose. “A.. spoon?”
“Nope. You’d think it was a spoon, but it’s actually a spoon and spatula mix, a spoon and spatula hybrid, in fact! It’s a spoonula!”
What the fuck, Yoongi thinks. “I see,” he says instead, and wonders how many other half-assed companies have released shit like spoonulas and managed to bag customers as willing and gullible as Taehyung to keep the cash flowing in.
Taehyung gets all up in Yoongi’s space then, a seemingly permanent beam on his face—Where did all the previous panic go?—and from close up Yoongi can see the pores on Taehyung’s face and the blackheads in his nose, the blemishes under his left eye probably a result of a breakout a week back or so. Yoongi suddenly can’t remember the last time he’s shaved, and he lifts a hand to his own face to scratch at the stubble breaking the skin of his jaw.
“You’re too close,” Yoongi says calmly, when Taehyung starts poking at his chin with the spoonula. If there’s anything Yoongi expected to happen on this day, getting prodded with a silicone spoon by his neighbour’s best friend in a broken down elevator is definitely not one of the possible scenarios that has previously played out in his head.
It’s probably the wrong thing to say—scratch that, it’s definitely the wrong thing to say, because Taehyung goes from excitable puppy to terrified kitten in a matter of seconds. The expression shifts on his face, and Yoongi is suddenly standing across from a Taehyung who starts rambling about oxygen levels and the optimal way to brace for impact if the elevator car were to fall.
“Oh my god,” Taehyung whines, bringing his hands up to cover his face. He drops the spoonula when the handle almost pokes his own eye out. “We’re going to die.”
“We’re not going to die,” Yoongi says, amused despite his own conscience telling him that he should be offering some kind of comfort to Taehyung. Yoongi has never been that much of a people person, especially not with people he’s just met, and Taehyung’s mood whiplash is just a little too much for him to handle sensibly.
Taehyung’s hands drop from his face. “Hyung, we’re going to run out of oxygen.”
“There are vents, Taehyung, and the doors aren’t a hundred percent sealed shut—”
“Hyung, we need to breathe the same air to conserve it!
Yoongi doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into. “...What.”
Taehyung just nods as if he’s had the most amazing epiphany ever. “Do you think that if we stand real close, we could conserve our oxygen supply by breathing the same air?”
“We’re already breathing the same air though—”
The lights flicker a little in the elevator car, and a curse has barely left Yoongi’s mouth when Taehyung launches himself at Yoongi with a muffled scream into his neck.
There’s quiet for a moment after that and Yoongi is at a loss for what to do. Taehyung is clinging, and when Yoongi tries to jostle him off, all he gets is Taehyung whining into his ear. Yoongi really, really doesn’t want to have to talk Taehyung through this entire situation—hell, Yoongi doesn’t even talk to his friends much unless he’s answering them telling them he’s is in fact still alive, asking them to feed him, or going after them to give him back money they’ve borrowed from him.
Yoongi hesitates for a little more before he lifts one hand to pat the back of Taehyung’s head awkwardly. There’s a split second when Taehyung seems to relax, shoulders sagging slightly, and then he’s jumping back from Yoongi so fast that Yoongi is the one who gasps for air, shocked.
“I’m sorry, hyung!” Taehyung exclaims, and Yoongi wants to drag a hand over his face in frustration. Yoongi is about to beg Taehyung to possibly stop his mood changes when he realised Taehyung isn’t even looking at him anymore, rummaging and pulling stuff out from his bag. It’s after Yoongi watches Taehyung take out a half squashed roll of kimbap, measuring spoons, and a pack of ziplock bags before Taehyung finally seems to find what he’s looking for, a little plastic container wrapped in a plastic bag.
Yoongi eyes it warily. “What’s in the bag?”
“Mealworms!” Taehyung shouts happily, getting the container out and opening it to show Yoongi the wriggling mass inside it. Yoongi presses himself up against the wall behind him, shocked not by the sight of them but by of the stench.
“Taehyung, you shut that damn thing right now, please.”
Taehyung hums and closes the box before stashing it in the plastic bag and in his backpack once more. Yoongi has no idea why he was even subjected to the view of the mealworms Taehyung has been keeping in his bag this entire time.
Taehyung glances up at Yoongi then, probably seeing the half stricken expression Yoongi is sure is still on his face, and offers some kind of explanation. “Oh! The worms aren’t for me, they’re for soju!”
Yoongi’s brain can’t really process that, so he just repeats Taehyung’s last line with as much incredulity that he can muster within him. “They’re… for soju.”
“Not the drink!” Taehyung zips his bag up, and the smell is somewhat contained again, thought Yoongi is sure that it still lingers in their now contaminated oxygen supply. “They’re for Soju, my pet parrot!”
Yoongi is sure that the world is conspiring against him in some way now. Also, he’s sure that pet parrots should never be fed mealworms ever. There are probably restrictions as to what parrots should and shouldn’t eat, and Yoongi vaguely remembers Hoseok telling him that worms or any form of live protein should be avoided.
For now, Yoongi just sticks Taehyung with a simple question. “Why did you name your parrot Soju?”
“Well!” Taehyung says, making himself comfy and sitting cross-legged on the floor. He motions to Yoongi to do the same, and Yoongi pauses for a moment before joining Taehyung. “I got Soju from a pet shop that had had him for a long time because no one wanted to buy him. The pet shop owner wouldn’t tell me why, but I found out after I got him—and for a discounted price at that!—that there was only a single word that he could and would reply with when spoken to.”
“Lemme guess,” Yoongi says, “the word was ‘soju’?”
“Bingo!” Taehyung laughs, then he makes a sound that Yoongi thinks is an attempt at a gameshow’s right answer buzzer. “So instead of naming him anything else, I decided that Soju would be a fitting name, and now whenever anyone comes over, I show off and ask him: ‘What’s your name?’ or ‘What is your alcoholic beverage of choice?’ and he answers ‘Soju’! So it’s a win-win situation for all of us. I get a cute and smart pet, and people think that I’m cute and smart too.”
Yoongi agrees a little with the cute, but not so much about the smart aspect of Taehyung at all.
“Ok,” Yoongi tells him, trying to look as caring as possible, “that’s really cool Taehyung, but I have to tell you from my friend’s experience of working part time at a pet shop that feeding mealworms to your parrot is a mistake.”
Taehyung’s mouth falls open. “What?”
“That’s right,” Yoongi continues, “if parrots eat the worms whole without properly chewing on them, the worms could harm them if they go down live.”
Taehyung gets up abruptly, knees wobbling, and then he’s half sprawled across Yoongi again, holding his hands and looking into his eyes. “Hyung, you’ve just saved Soju.”
Yoongi tries to look everywhere else but Taehyung’s face in that very moment. He really is too cute, hair flopping over his forehead and eyes shining in genuine gratefulness. Taehyung has been nothing but honest in the hour or so that they’ve been stuck together, and Yoongi has never met anyone as open about their life as Taehyung has.
Taehyung sits back, and Yoongi turns to look at him again now that there’s about a foot of space between their faces. “Hyung,” Taehyung starts, “I have to repay you somehow. You’ve just saved my best friend!”
“I thought Jimin was your best friend,” Yoongi snorts, more out of mirth and not unkindly.
Taehyung waves a hand in the air. “Details! Jiminnie is my human best friend, and Soju is my animal life partner. You could be my best friend too, hyung! I don’t have much that I could repay you with, but I can always offer friendship!”
Yoongi bursts out laughing at that, and it finally dawns on him that he hasn’t had a good laugh with someone, been truly happy over someone, in a long time. “Ah,” Yoongi gets out, almost a wheeze, “Taehyung, you’re a strange one, aren’t you.”
“At your service!” Taehyung just gives him a mock salute, both hands going up to his hairline and palms facing downwards, more like a roof over his face, and Yoongi just chortles again.
Taehyung seems to beam at Yoongi’s laughter, no matter how hard Yoongi tries to keep it in by shoving his sleeve against his own mouth and trying to cover it up with a fake coughing fit. Yoongi grows progressively more wary but also more curious the wider Taehyung’s smile gets, and it’s when Taehyung finally opens his mouth that Yoongi braces himself for whatever comes out of it.
“Hyung, let’s get this friendship started. This can be my elevator pitch, get it? Because we’re in an elevator. Let’s play 20 questions!”
Yoongi is the last person who wants to get personal in an elevator. “No.”
“Great! I’ll go first, then. Truth!”
Yoongi tries not to laugh again and fails, though he’s the furthest away from miserable that he could possible be. “Taehyung, I’m sure that’s not how it works—”
The elevator car lurches into motion then, and Taehyung and Yoongi both leap towards each other in surprise, screams leaving their mouths.
They’re still hugging when the elevator door opens to the lobby area of the building, and Yoongi opens his eyes to see Jimin staring at both of them with his eyebrows raised.
“Taehyungie, we were supposed to go to dinner an hour ago—you said you were just getting your mealworms! And Yoongi-hyung. Hi. This is the least likely friendship I would have ever expected to see when the elevator doors opened.”
Yoongi extracts himself from Taehyung and pats his hair down. Taehyung just pouts at Jimin. “Your elevator broke down. Again.”
Jimin sighs. “I know, sorry. I hope you haven’t filled Yoongi-hyung’s brain with embarrassing stories about me from highschool in the past hour.”
“Well, no,” Taehyung says, getting up and brushing his pants off before holding out a hand to Yoongi. “Or should I say, not yet? Yoongi-hyung, want to join us for dinner?”
There’s a wicked gleam in Taehyung’s eye that Yoongi decides that he likes. Taehyung is noisy, noisier than Jimin even, and Yoongi isn’t used to it—the questions, the prodding for conversation, the sheer volume of Taehyung and everyone of his openly verbalised thoughts
Still… Yoongi looks at the casual smile on Taehyung’s face, all gums and teeth, and he thinks, maybe, just maybe, getting used to Taehyung wouldn’t be too hard at all.