Left alone in the bathroom, Min Yoongi sank down to the floor, his back leaning against the tub. He stared at the door somewhat blankly, unsure of how he’d even gotten here. The day had started like any other. He’d woken up, gotten dressed and made breakfast. It had been good. Minhyuk had even smiled as he ate, complimenting Yoongi’s cooking. Then he’d kissed Yoongi on the cheek and left for work. Yoongi had spent the rest of the day cleaning and doing chores, as he always did. When Minhyuk had asked him to stay at him rather than working, he’d had trouble finding things to do at first, but over the years he’d learned just how many things had to be done in a household on a daily basis. So he’d kept himself busy, then gone out to get groceries for dinner. Minhyuk didn’t like to eat the same thing twice in a row, so Yoongi had to make sure he was always keeping his recipes varied and his fridge stocked.
Everything had been going fine.
Then he’d gotten stuck behind a woman at the check out. She was yelling, upset about the prices of her goods and the store not accepting her coupons. It was a simple matter, but she’d caused a scene, making it so that every cashier in the area was distracted and moving slower. It had only delayed him ten minutes, but it was enough. When Minhyuk had arrived home from work, Yoongi had been in the middle of plating their dinner, still in the same clothes he’d been doing chores in. He’d known right away he’d made a mistake, he always did, but that didn’t matter. Yoongi had tried to apologize, but that didn’t matter either. The first blow had split his lip, the second bruising his eye and cheekbone. When he fell, a well-placed kick had bruised his ribs. He knew they weren’t broken from experience, so he was thankful for that at least.
Yoongi was used to this by now, it was more and more common. He just kept making mistakes. Over and over. Even though Minhyuk tried to teach him how to do it right. But then it’d stopped. It never stopped. In confusion, Yoongi had looked up, knowing Minhyuk liked when he looked at him. Minhyuk had looked down at him and shaken his head, then muttered something and walked away. It had taken Yoongi a solid minute to understand what he’d said.
You’re not even worth it.
Just like that, he was nothing. Less than nothing. They’d been together for four years, ever since Yoongi had graduated university and moved back home, and now he was just nothing. Yoongi had spent a long time sitting on the kitchen floor. He’d heard Minhyuk leave, probably going out to drink with his friends, but he didn’t move. Yoongi had spent the last four years doing everything to be the man Minhyuk needed him to be and after all this time, he’d failed.
You didn’t fail, you did everything he asked! You turned down that job offer, you cook and clean, you do that thing he likes that you hate, you do everything. Why is it your fault?
Of course it’s my fault.
WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS, HYUNG? PLEASE, JUST COME BACK TO SEOUL WITH ME, PLEASE!
Yoongi had blinked and shuffled to his feet. Mindlessly, he’d moved about the kitchen, cleaning up the dinner no one had eaten and made sure everything was impeccable. Then he’d packed as much as he could fit into the only travel bag he had and walked out of the apartment. It hadn’t been until he was sitting on a bus to Seoul that he realized what he’d done. At first, he’d panicked, planning how to explain his absence to Minhyuk after he’d clearly been told to never leave without permission. Then an odd sort of calm had washed over him and he’d relaxed into his seat. He had left and that was that.
Now, sitting on Jimin’s floor, he knew what had changed. He’d always assumed that Minhyuk loved him. That he was trying to make their relationship the best it could possibly be. But if he wasn’t worth it, then what was keeping Minhyuk from getting rid of him? He’d gotten close, once. But that had been an accident. Yoongi had slipped while running away and hit his head. He lied to Jimin about that, told him it was a broken rib, but it had happened. And that was when he claimed to love Yoongi. Whatever sense of self-preservation Yoongi had left made him stand up and flee. Made him smash his cellphone just outside their shared apartment in Daegu. Made him seek out Jimin, the only person who stayed by him through all his years with Minhyuk. The only problem now was he didn’t know what to do. He had no job, no money. Nothing. He had nothing.
“He’s been in there a long time and the water never started,” Jimin worried, biting his lip as he paced the living room.
Taehyung glanced up and nodded. “You should check on him. His mind must be a mess right now.”
“Right,” Jimin agreed quickly, heading straight to the bathroom and knocking quietly. When there was no answer, Jimin’s panic skyrocketed. “He wouldn’t— HYUNG?”
“Back up,” Taehyung said firmly before dropping down and using a small coin to unlock the bathroom door from the outside. It wasn’t a very good lock. Which, any other time would be a bad thing, but Taehyung thanked his lucky stars now as he pushed the door open. Inside, they found Yoongi curled up on the floor, his cheek pressed into his own forearms where they rested on the side of the tub.
Jimin visibly relaxed. “Oh thank god.”
“He’s okay, Jiminie.”
Nodding, Jimin moved closer, brushing Yoongi’s hair away from his face before looking back at Taehyung. “Can you carry him to the spare room? You’re stronger than me.”
“No,” Taehyung refused, shaking his head, “he’s never met me before. The last thing he needs is to wake up with a strange man carrying him. Wake him up gently and guide him to bed. We can talk more and you can introduce me tomorrow.”
“Okay,” Jimin agreed, shoulders drooping again. Taehyung knew this was hard for Jimin. He wasn’t used to thinking about the possible perception of his actions in a situation like this. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately given the current situation, Taehyung was. Without further comment, Jimin picked Yoongi up slowly, his lips trembling when he realized just how light Yoongi was. “He’s lost so much weight.”
“We’ll fix that,” Taehyung promised quietly, trailing behind Jimin as he carried Yoongi to the room for moral support. He hung back as Jimin placed him in bed and tucked him up, then retreated once Jimin did the same. They’d barely made it back to the living room when Jimin broke down, dropping to the floor with his hands covering his face. Following him instantly, Taehyung wrapped Jimin in his arms and spoke gently. “It’s okay, Jiminie. It’s okay.”
“It’s not okay. He could have killed him Tae. Killed him. And I didn’t do anything.”
“You’re doing something now,” Taehyung reminded him. “You can’t help people in these situations unless they want help, Jiminie. I’ve told you that before.”
“I know but he’s my best friend, Tae. I love him so much,” Jimin sobbed out, his whole frame shaking. Taehyung nodded sympathetically, rubbing Jimin’s back in comfort but didn’t say anything further. Jimin had been holding it together ever since Yoongi had shown up, hell, since he’d first figured out what was going on, so Taehyung didn’t fault him his tears. Instead, he stayed with him until there were no tears left, then brought him to his room and tucked him in, much the same way Jimin had done to Yoongi.
“Everything will be okay, Jiminie. I promise.”
When Taehyung awoke the next morning, Jimin was curled around him, his face pressed against Taehyung’s back. He hadn’t meant to spend the night in Jimin’s room, but the smaller man had asked him to stay and he supposed he fell asleep. That wasn’t unusual for him. He could sleep pretty much anywhere.
Detangling himself from Jimin, who only groaned and rolled away, Taehyung stumbled out of the bedroom towards the kitchen. He was barely conscious, his eyes still mostly closed and hair a mess, but he wanted water so he headed there first. Not expecting anyone, Taehyung jumped a bit when he saw Yoongi sitting at the kitchen table, a fancy breakfast spread out in front of him. He was dressed, wearing a nice-looking shirt and what he assumed were jeans based on what he could see of Yoongi’s leg. Just as startled, Yoongi looked up at him blinking quickly before clearing his throat. “I made breakfast for you both.”
“I-I see. Thank you,” Taehyung mumbled, still staring at Yoongi’s face. The bruises were gone. Well, not gone but covered up. If Taehyung hadn’t seen them, he wouldn’t know there were there. Even the cut on his lip was covered, though it was easier to spot. It was then that Taehyung realized what Yoongi was doing. Out of habit, he was following the same routine he had at home: making himself pretty and cooking breakfast. Taehyung felt a crushing sensation in his chest accompanied by a distant memory, but he shoved it down. “It looks delicious.”
“O-oh, thank you,” Yoongi replied quickly, then cleared his throat again and stood up. “We didn’t, um, get introduced last night. I’m Min Yoongi.”
“Kim Taehyung, people call me Tae.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Yoongi said quickly, probably more out of habit than anything else. “I’m sorry to intrude.”
Taehyung shook his head. “You’re not intruding. I like having company. Especially company that cooks. I’m a disaster in the kitchen. Jiminie only lets me watch.”
Yoongi smiled slightly, which Taehyung took as a win, even as his fingers worried the edge of his shirt, a clear nervous twitch. “You can’t be that bad.”
“Oh, I am. Trust me. I personally think I just need some instruction, but no one will show me,” Taehyung complained, tilting his head as he thought about it. Though he was conversing casually, he was watching Yoongi’s reactions, making sure he was comfortable with the extended conversation. He was still playing with his shirt, but every now and then, he’d look up at Taehyung’s face. Never his eyes though, always just to the right or left of his face.
“Some people just need guidance,” Yoongi agreed softly.
“Maybe you can show me,” Taehyung suggested but quickly changed the subject when he saw Yoongi tense, “but first, I’m going to go wake up Jimin so he can come to eat your delicious meal.”
“No!” Yoongi burst out, then curled back. “Sorry, um, yes, of course.”
Taehyung didn’t respond for a moment, just scanned Yoongi’s face and body. He wasn’t looking up anymore, and his shoulders were curled in defensively. Taehyung thought back to the way Yoongi had been waiting, his hands folded neatly at the table. He hadn’t made any noise while cooking either. Taehyung held back a sigh. “If I don’t wake up Jiminie, he’ll sleep through work. I’m allowed to wake him up.”
“O-okay,” Yoongi agreed, nodding. He didn’t comment on Taehyung’s assumption, which he took as confirmation. Yoongi hadn’t been allowed to wake his boyfriend up before.
“Be right back,” Taehyung told him before heading back to Jimin’s bedroom. He closed the door behind him and shook Jimin awake violently. Usually, he’d be more gentle but not today. “Wake the fuck up.”
“Ugh, can you not.”
“You will get up and you will come out to the kitchen and eat the meal Yoongi-ssi made for us. You will compliment him on how good it is and tell him you are thankful, do you understand?”
“He made food?” Jimin asked, finally sitting up. “Why did he do that?”
Taehyung sighed. “It’s his job.”
“Before. He said he got those bruises when dinner was late right? I’m assuming cooking was his job. When I woke up he was sitting at the table, waiting quietly. He’s fully dressed and all his injuries are completely covered.”
“What? Why? He doesn’t need to do that here!” Jimin practically yelled, a mixture of disbelief and anger in his voice.
“I know, but you need to let him!”
“He’s not our slave! We’re trying to get him out of this, Tae, not switch the people he does it for!”
“Yes, I’m aware,” Taehyung snapped, “but he’s left everything behind. He’s falling back on what he knows. We have to do this slow or he’ll break, Jiminie. Okay? This is clearly what he had to do before, so let him do it. When he’s more comfortable, we’ll make small changes okay?”
Jimin rubbed his face, feeling more tears well and spill over. “I hate this, Tae. I hate it so much. I just want him to be okay.”
“He will be, but it will take time,” Taehyung reassured him, pushing himself up. “I got him talking to me. He even smiled once.”
“He smiled?” Jimin asked, looking up with blurry eyes.
“He did,” Taehyung confirmed. “Your hyung is still there, Jimin. You just have to find him, okay?”
“Right. Okay. Let’s go,” Jimin decided, throwing himself out of bed and darting out of the room. Taehyung watched him go, a sad smile on his face, then followed after. He could hear Jimin raving about the food already and when he finally entered the kitchen he was greeted with a sight that gave him hope for a man he barely knew. Jimin was wrapped around Yoongi, his face pressed into his back, just like it had been pressed into Taehyung’s less than a half-hour prior. And Yoongi? Yoongi was smiling. It wasn’t a big smile, nor was it particularly happy, but it was genuine and Taehyung figured that was as good a sign as any.
“What are we waiting for? Let’s eat!”