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Yoongi is a ghost drifting in and out of the city. He feels almost like a part of an abstract painting. He is becoming the red brick of the lonely city he lives in. He can hear the hum of engines buzzing in his ears and smell the smoke. Sweet and intoxicating. It is nothing like the pictures he takes. There is no truth in his eyes when he half closes them and squeezes down. There is beauty lingering in the stills of naked boys and the sleeping city. Black and white romance. It looks so much better in his head.

They are beautiful, Yoongi thinks, drunk past midnight as he fiddles with his camera and smiles emptily at his subjects. They are splayed on his bed sheets. Flat surface beauty not art in themselves. He is trying to make them into something they’re not. Their pale skin tastes better on his tongue than photographs. It takes the night to clear his head. There is only his bed that is stained with aftermath and littered with electronics.

I know you’re there. He doesn’t answer. Not until he’s had three cups of coffee and a shower and then he texts Namjoon back with a “hey” and two overexcited emojis.

It hurts to lie, even though it never reaches past his skin.

Can I come over?

Yoongi takes a look around. A sharp “no” declares itself inside the walls of his mind.

No.

It’s one word and it feels like everything.

The usual then?

Namjoon never questions him. Not like his other friends. Namjoon understands. He has his own shit slaughtering his head.

Yoongi meets him, them, at a bar they frequent too often. It’s almost as familiar as his apartment walls. He doesn’t want to drink, not when he feels like this, but he does anyway. Taehyung talks him into it. It’ll be fun. It doesn’t seem like fun when the room is spinning and his head is throbbing and all he wants to do is grasp the cool seat of a toilet and empty the contents of his stomach. It seemed like good idea two hours ago. A voice reminds him. The bar is slow and cool. His skin a shade of blue he’s never seen before under the lights. His eyes belong to him for a second. This stranger that screams familiarity before disappearing into the crowd.

“Are you alright?” Yoongi swears he hears Jin ask.

Yoongi nods, “Just had too much.”

The outside air is a relief.

Yoongi sees him. This kid, can’t be more than fifteen, with his hoodie up and his hands buried in his pockets and the pavement eating into his sneakers. Ripped skinnies, oversized sweatshirt and beanie that look like more money than a kid like him could afford to buy. Broke down eyes, dark circles, an unwillingness to smile.

“Hey kid you should go home to your parents,” Jin says.

“Hey pretty baby,” Jimin smiles, voice laced with alcohol, when the kid doesn’t reply.

“Leave the kid alone,” Yoongi says. A sharpness to his tone. There is something about the boy… The way he moves, the way he replies with his eyes. He himself is art and Yoongi wants to study him.

“Go on ahead I got this,”

“Are you sure?” Jin asks. Tense. That’s how Yoongi would describe Jin. Not that he’s much better.

“Seems your type,” Hoseok teases. “Have fun–” Yoongi hates that smile. That fleck of fire in his eyes that flickers out into the dark of his unsaid words.

“Come on I’ll take you home. Where do you live?"

"Nowhere, everywhere,” Lips licking up into a smirk, “I could live at your place for the night… that is what you want isn’t it?"

It isn’t surprising. Yoongi knows these type of kids. They have no family, at least not any they can return to. They do what they have to.

’"Don’t waste much time do you?"

"Why would I?” His eyes seem to dance. They are black and cold and Yoongi wants to swim in the depths. They are like the night sky above. Heavy with pollution and lacking the pale caress of his smile. There is daylight in his smile.

Yoongi stays quiet. There is enough sound under the gaze of the stranger’s eyes. The walk back is brisk as he soaks in his features. His eyes digging under the surface of his almost flawless skin. It’s immaculate, really, and Yoongi wants to drag his tongue down the nape of his neck and suck his flesh into his mouth. The taste of him fresh on his tongue as he presses his fingers into his skin until they leave marks. He isn’t even in his bed and he can already hear the sounds he makes when he comes.

“What’s your name?” Yoongi asks when they reach his place. He twists the key to his lazy apartment that smells like unwashed clothes, sex and alcohol. It’s a familiar smell. Almost welcoming.

“Jeongguk,” The boy answers.

It’s a nice place, Jeongguk decides. Black and white furniture against the offset of brick walls. No trinkets, no family photos, no “personal touch.” Jeongguk doesn’t expect anything different. He’s used to this. He probably has another place. A much nicer place with a wife and kid and walls that are littered with evidence of a life. This place has no memories. This place only smells like loneliness and that is the nature of his business.

“You’re freezing–” Yoongi says, voice light and it shouldn’t be, as he extends his hand towards him. His fingertips almost touch his shirt. “Clothes, I’ll wash them.“

Jeongguk strips in front of him. Yoongi’s eyes roll down his body like beads of water. He hands Yoongi his jeans and hoodie.

“Tomorrow,” Yoongi says when Jeongguk inches towards him with intent in his eyes.

“I could be gone tomorrow.”

“You don’t have shit tomorrow, you just have me.”

It’s true, but Jeongguk just smiles with his eyes. Yoongi is pretty and kind and doesn’t have to pay for it and yet Jeongguk knows he always pays for it.

“You can sleep on the couch.”

Chapter Text

A haze nestles in his bones. Exhaustion, drunkenness, loneliness, the lack of another beside him. (Warm breath against his skin, fingers treading through his, a light sigh of his name like it's nothing more.) It's a physical ache and it disgusts him. His fingers grip in the sheets. Cold, clean sheets. There's something sterile and empty about his apartment even though there's a stranger sleeping in it. Yoongi isn't sentimental. Any part of him that was had been killed off long ago.  

"You were tossing and turning," Comes a voice. It's soft and steady and lacks the fog of sleep. Yoongi doesn't say anything. At first -- he lets fingers brush back the hair that has matted itself to his forehead and rest against his nape.

"What happened to the couch?"

"I couldn't sleep,"

"Did you try?"

In the dark he can see him smile. Beautiful. He thought that the second he laid eyes on him. The sentiment made his gut burn.  

"I did try." He sounds older than he is. The street has grated on him. He isn't tough. He has a smart mouth and that's it.  

"Did you have somewhere to go before I came along?"

"I saw you first."

"Where?"

"In the bar, you looked lonely." Yoongi had felt someone watching him. The way he watched people. Photographed them with his eyes. Pictures can be burned, torn, lost, but memories... those never really die.

"Those guys... they're your friends right?"

"Yeah,"

Yoongi can't remember having a conversation with someone. In bed, at three in the morning.

Jeongguk is full up on stories, every lonely drunk has spilled their guts to him. Ink courses over his skin. His memory palace is bombarded with shadows. They bleed into the black river of his sleep. Ghosts have their place, but the shadows of other people's lives is a shard of glass. It cuts up his insides. He has so many stories he forgets his own. It is his catalyst.

He drifts into sleep. There is something comforting about the stranger in his bed. His presence that lulls or maybe it's the booze.  

Jeongguk trails his fingers down his shirt. He can feel his skin through the thin fabric. Warm and sticky and itching for contact. His touch rests against his lower stomach. He has his nose against his ear and his breath tickles. His lips trace his jawline. Precursor to a kiss. His fingernails press into his skin as his lips meet his. His tongue twists into his mouth like a knife. This is a snatch of intimacy.

"What are you doing?" It comes as a whisper and Yoongi was so much surer of himself before the night fell.

"My job," His fingers curl under the band of his pants.   

"Don't," Yoongi takes his hands into his own and holds them still. "Just sleep."

Jeongguk doesn't sleep.

Yoongi tucks into his side. His thigh against his. His fingers curl around his wrist tightly like he's afraid he'll leave. Jeongguk tries to forget the choking sounds he made. He sounded so small and desperate and now Jeongguk can see it in his sleep.  

Jeongguk is thankful for the dark and that Yoongi tastes like alcohol and won't remember this. For his own sake.  

"What?" Yoongi just asks the next morning. Sharp, incision tone.
 
Jeongguk just smiles, 'Nothing.'  

"Can I ask where you're going?"

"No."

"Just stay here."

"...I don't exactly have anywhere else to be." That isn't true. He can go anywhere. He doesn't belong to anyone or thing. It's freeing really, not having a home, but he has walked down the same streets too many times, even they have started to reek of familiarity.    

"You can eat what's in the fridge..." Yoongi says, opening the fridge for a mental-check. Beer, Chinese takeout he should probably throw away, beer, something Jin brought over in Tupperware that looks quite alien after sitting untouched for a month, and more beer. He keeps the good stuff top shelf. "Call for pizza, number's on the fridge."

"Yeah I think I can handle that."

"Here's some money for the pizza,"

"I have money," Jeongguk says as Yoongi counts hundred dollar bills in his hand.

"Wow, pizza's gotten really expensive."

"What are you paying me for?"

"Your charming personality,"

"I do have a charming personality," He smiles. Sunny-side-up.

"And Jeongguk? Don't drink all the beer."   

Drinking is easy.

Drugs are easy.

Love is easy.

Yoongi falls through addictions. He tried being sober once, didn't like it. After awhile Namjoon got tired of him not turning up to meetings. He ate the free cookies and listened to the sad bullshit stories of "my daddy didn't love me" and "my girlfriend left me." It was a circle-jerk without the the relief of coming. Namjoon didn't have to be an addict to know drinking felt good. Better than good. Great. And drugs. Drugs felt fucking amazing. The need to escape was what made drinking and drugs and sex as addicting as they were. For people like Yoongi anything was better than having to sit alone with only his thoughts for company.

Namjoon is a good friend. Probably his best friend. He doesn't feel as bad about all the times he let him down when on the bar stool next to him knocking back shots. Yoongi tells him, "Recovering alcoholics make terrible friends, they can't drink!" They drink to that.  

It's the the same thoughts, the same feeling that drives him. The only thing that changes is the view.

Smoke furls out of his mouth slowly. He rarely inhales. He just likes to watch the smoke drift out from between his lips. It's like he's watching a movie of himself in black and white. His nose crinkles at the sharp, unmistakable smell of fire. His lips tingle and the whiskey washes back the taste of ash. He's burning his kingdom down.

"You're still here." Yoongi remarks upon being greeted with the sight of photographs spread out on his bed and Jeongguk slouched over them.

He's used to coming back to an empty apartment. His things in their proper place, only silencing answering him. Not this.

"Didn't anyone ever tell you not to go through other people's things?" Jeongguk just looks at him vacantly. He must of have missed that lesson along with, "don't talk to strangers." Certainly don't go home with strangers.

"You're a photographer."

"Very deductive."

"Why don't you take pictures of yourself."

"I didn't go to film school to take selcas."

"Are these friends of yours too?" Yoongi feels as naked as the boys in the photographs. There's something razor-shape about the way Jeongguk looks at him. It cuts away his layers.

"I have a lot of friends."

"What are you paying me for? That was an awful lot of money, I could have left--"

"Why didn't you?"

"Told you, I have nowhere else.. I'd rather be." Jeongguk smiles. He's good at that. Burying words with that treacherous smile of his. A pretty face can get away with anything.  

"You a runaway?"

"You want my back story?" Jeongguk has the camera on his lap. It's comforting almost like holding a weapon. It has its own power. Jeongguk can see how people get attached to possessions, let them own their lives. They are a security. "I'm not that interesting."  

Jeongguk picks up the camera and points it at Yoongi, "Bang."

"Be careful with that, it's worth more than you."

"Do you think we're more ourselves in or out of the photo. It's a piece of us, but not at the same time. We're trapped in there, frozen."

"I don't philosophize I just take pictures."

"You're prettier in front of me."

Yoongi doesn't remember being called pretty let alone thinking it of himself when he looks at his reflection.

"Give me that." His hands feel empty without a camera, phone... a bottle.  

"It's just a bad picture." Yoongi says and presses delete.

"I'm sorry I went through your things."

Yoongi shrugs, "It's alright."

He lifts the camera and Jeongguk is under the scope of the lens. Yoongi is himself with a camera in his hands. It is his shield from the world. His clothes are baggy and his hair his is in his face, but he looks beautiful. He doesn't have to try. He is magnetic. Everything is drawn to him.

"I want you to.. pose for me."

"You want to take pictures of me?" Jeongguk asks curiously.

Yoongi doesn't ask if it's okay he just nods. Everything is okay with Jeongguk. It has to be. No is a word that never touched his tongue.

Instinctively Jeongguk sinks back against the bed. His eyes spell enticement and submission. He knows how to turn it on. He poses even when there are no cameras on him. A stranger's gaze is enough to break from his skin and bring out a slight smile. His hair contrasts against the white of the pillowcases. Yoongi runs a finger across his jawline and tilts his chin up. His skin is like honey.

"You could be a model."

"Usually guys just want to fuck me."

"Take off your clothes." Yoongi doesn't watch him undress.

"You going to jerk off to these?"

"Just stay like that and shut up,"

"You ever done this before?" Jeongguk asks as Yoongi frames him. He combs his hair with his fingers and pushes his head back. He's used to being touched, pulled at and pushed against, but Yoongi's touch is cold -- surgical. Yoongi pushes his clothes onto the floor and sits lopsided on the edge of the bed. In this light Jeongguk can look subtle.

"Paid someone to model for me?" Yoongi knows he isn't talking about modeling, but he asks the question all the same. Some things need pretense. He needs his illusions to cling to.

"If that's what you want to call it." Jeongguk catches his hand in his and holds it to his face. His palm is hot and sticky, pulsing against his skin. He slides his hand down his chest and between his thighs. "You're hard again."

Jeongguk kisses him, "I'm doing this because I want to."

Yoongi says his name slowly.

It isn't a warning. It's need. Jeongguk runs his tongue over the rim of his ear before sucking his lobe into his mouth. The tip of his tongue presses against his skin. His teeth follow the path his tongue has made. Down his throat and collarbones. He kisses every inch of exposed skin. His kisses are tender and slow. He doesn't kiss like he's been taught to. Fevered and angry like white hot marks against his skin. There is no impression of violence in him. He pulls his shirt over his head and kisses him from his sternum to his naval. His fingertips press against his thigh. He palms at his cock through his jeans. The way he looks up at him just makes him harder. Long, thick eyelashes framing his dark brown eyes. They pull him in and it feels like drowning.

"Condom," Yoongi motions to the bed stand.

"I'm clean,"

"You'd let me fuck you without a condom?" The silence nauseates Yoongi. It swells in his stomach and clatters around with the guilt and need. His stomach is tight and gnawing. "You're even stupider than you look and that's saying something."

Jeongguk rips open the packet with his teeth and slips it on his cock. His hands press down on his hipbones. He is milk skin and red hair bleeding into the bedsheets. Yoongi lets his eyes fall over his form. Jeongguk is like the sculptures at museums, carved from marble. He swallows, his name on his tongue, the shards of guilt in his throat he swallows it down.    

He runs his fingers through his hair and pulls Jeongguk against him. The tip of his tongue teases his mouth open. He kisses him until they're sucking on the same air. Yoongi pushes him down so his stomach is against the bed. He licks over the curve of his shoulder blade and trails the freckles that pepper his skin. His fingers curl in the bedsheets. He pushes his hair up -- dark twined between his fingers -- and kisses his nape.   

Sex is an impulse. It beats, as alive as the blood coursing through his veins. He can feel it under his skin and at his core. Baseless, primal, devoid of love, but it isn't an act of cruelty. He could take his throat in his teeth, but he doesn't. He doesn't mark him as his. That would be like leaving dirty fingerprints on the mannequins in a store window.

After they fuck Jeongguk takes a picture of him. He's vulnerable. Without his camera and his clothes he is stripped less than naked. Raw. Jeongguk never armed himself, not even his skin protected him.  

"Delete that."

Jeongguk smiles hazily. "I will."

He curls into him. His breath lengthens against his shoulder. It almost feels like he's exhaling for him. They both have their rituals. Yoongi will reach for a cigarette and Jeongguk will reach for his clothes, but they just lie there and he's okay with that. 

Chapter Text

The cold October air makes Jeongguk nestle deeper into his side. It's the smell of him he's become attached to. Cinnamon and honey under that waft of alcohol. It gets him to sleep faster than anything. He has the blanket mostly to himself and his nose pressed against his neck. Content with the stranger sleeping beside him. Jeongguk only stirs when Yoongi tries to untangle his limbs from his. Freelancing has its benefits. Sleeping in being one of them. Jin, a morning person, has on more than one occasion gone on about how mornings are great for productivity and induce a feeling of well-being. Jin is too vain and Yoongi is too nice to say, "Tell that to your eye bags."

In the afternoon when Yoongi finally wakes he studies the boy sleeping next to him like he's still in art class. His eyelashes long and heavy with dreams. Sleep dust in the corners of his eyes and a smile forming himself as he stretches out like a cat. He has long arms, broad shoulders, and almost a foot on Yoongi, but his skin is composed of the most gossamer fabric. His body whines around his. Leg between his and fingers entwining in his like thread. In the half-light of morning and afternoon he still looks like the summer months and not the mental gray fog that enshrouds them now. Jeongguk kisses him, morning breath and all. Yoongi drinks in the feeling of his tongue and his fingernails notching in his skin. They stay like that until the clock ticks past 1:30. His mouth is itching for something other than the taste of Jeongguk. "Breakfast of champions." A note of defensiveness in his voice as he drinks out of the bottle.

"What about me?" Jeongguk asks, sluggishly dragging a comforter around his naked body. He hugs Yoongi from behind, watching his Adam's apple bob up and down greedily at the last drops of whatever rut-gut he's drinking. He chin digs into his shoulder and his breath comes warmly against his ear. Yoongi runs his hand up his thigh to linger at his fingertips before pulling away.

"You," Yoongi drawls. There's a pleasant lilt to his voice that wasn't there before. "Can eat cereal. Isn't that what kids today eat?"

They eat breakfast in mostly silence until Yoongi tells him, "Get dressed, we're going out."

"What for?"

"My clothes..." Yoongi smirks, looking at how snug his clothes are on Jeongguk. "No fit."

"What are you doing?" Yoongi asks when Jeongguk goes to hold his hand.

Jeongguk just smiles a smile that has been rehearsed in the mirror. Yoongi wonders what his real smile looks like, if it's as sweet as his tongue pressed to the inside of his mouth. "I know we're not boyfriend and boyfriend... It's cold, I wanted to hold your hand."

"No one's going to care Yoongi." He hates the way his name sounds on his tongue. Too familiar and cocky.

"You're like old enough to be my dad anyway." Jeongguk teases.

The streets are mostly empty, everyone either drunk in bed or at work--knocking back coffee like soju shots. They take metro to Myeong-dong where Yoongi does the majority of his shopping. Jeongguk is easy to shop for. He doesn't complain what Yoongi dresses him in, even looking at Yoongi with kid-like admiration when glancing over the price tag. Half the clerks exchanging shy smiles would give him the clothes for a bargain if he asked, but Yoongi isn't a bargaining man.

 

---

 

It's late afternoon and fatigue has begun to seep into his bones. His bed a fantastical thought even though his sheets aren't clean and there's clatter at the foot. There comes a knock on the door. It's as familiar as a stomach ache. Yoongi mutters under his breath, "So much for my nap."

He's doesn't look through the peephole he just unbolts the lock.

"Is he living with you?" Namjoon asks (no hello, no warning to his interrogation) even though he knows the answer to that question. He's been by his place already, seen the kid settling into the comfort of home life (or at least not his default setting of running away.) There is a half lit flame in his eyes and Yoongi wants to lean in and blow it out. "I didn't know you were in the habit of taking in strays."

Yoongi smiles, "What can I say I'm a humanitarian."

Namjoon has this stance like he wants to come in or say more, but he just stands there in the door frame drumming his fingers against his jeans. "I hope you know what you're doing."

Yoongi's seen Namjoon this before--scared, restless. You're not going to lose me. He says, but doesn't say. His eyes quiet and searching. Namjoon moves away from him, but they're still three inches from each other. Namjoon sees the kid shift from his position in bed, dressed in an oversized t-shirt and Abercrombie & Fitch boxers, and move towards them almost as if to take his place at Yoongi's side. Namjoon's half down the flight of stairs before Jeongguk asks, "Who was that?" His voice too empty not to know.

"No one."

Yoongi likes his coffee with sugar and cream, but this morning he takes it black, no sugar. The bitterness tastes like how Namjoon had looked at him.

"You want to go out later?" Yoongi asks, not looking up from his cup of coffee.

"We've already been out."

Yoongi looks at him, a dull honey smile coming over his face. "Out out."

"Oh." He phases. "Whatever you want."

Jeongguk rests against his back and breaths out a sigh. He wraps his arms around his neck like a bow. He watches Yoongi stare into his coffee. Yoongi taps the spoon against the edge irately. No sugar or creamer to swirl. Yoongi has an edge to him that makes him look like he's about snap, but never does. Jeongguk isn't sure he wants to be there for when his hands itch for something to break.

"Come here." Yoongi says lazily, even though Jeongguk's hanging off of him it's not close enough.

Jeongguk moves to sit in his lap. It feels like they're about to teeter off, but Yoongi's never been more content with gravity.

 

---

 

The music is too loud --it makes Jeongguk cling to Yoongi-- and the lights dancing over his skin leave him nauseous. His hands find their way into Yoongi's. Jeongguk, despite his flirty smile and his shimmery gold eyelids, is not a party boy. He can smirk and look almost edible in the neon haze, but there is fear beating in his eyes. Hands and tongues caress in the passing of Molly, the repetitive music licks at the inside of his head until he is dancing along, his skin is hot with need.

"Aren't you a little young to be in here?" Jin asks when they take their seats, clearly more concerned about underage drinking than underage sex.

"Fake ID." Jeongguk smiles toothily. He drinks his rum and diet coke absentmindedly, making a face at the slightest sting of alcohol. Taehyung hides his laugh with his hand.

"Suga's got himself a sugar baby." Namjoon announces, slinging his arm around Yoongi (drink in hand.) Sloshing dangerously close to Yoongi's leather jacket. Yoongi doesn't try to wiggle out of his drunken embrace, he just lets Namjoon hang off of him until he gets bored.

Yoongi knows what he's doing.

He's trying to protect him in his own fucked up way. Yoongi's been here before and when it went to shit Namjoon was the one with the broom and dust pan sweeping up all his broken pieces. "It's not going to go to shit." He swears and Namjoon just nods.

"Dance with me?" Jeongguk looks at him like a child --a hint of a smile and big, expecting eyes.

"I don't dance." It's more a matter of not being able to dance. Yoongi shifts in his seat. His drink has become to taste like fire, gnarling at his stomach with orange and red kissed flames. Tonight he will still feel its fingers twisting in his insides.

Jeongguk pouts at him, but gets up anyway. He downs the rest of his drink and heads out to the bejeweled dance floor. Under the flashing lights everyone looks like a star. Yoongi still remembers how hard he had squeezed his fingers.

It isn't long before Namjoon is upon him. His breath coming hot against the shell of his ear. Jeongguk can feel his split second decision not to put his hands on him with Yoongi looking at them. "How much for a go?"

"What?" Jeongguk asks. He has the look of a dog struck by a newspaper and Namjoon can't help but marvel at that.

He repeats, "How much?"

But before he can say anything Yoongi is there.

"Your knight in shining armor." Namjoon mouths and Jeongguk wants to choke on the hurt and heavy alcohol on his breath.

"I don't share." Yoongi warns, hand on Jeongguk's hip. His thump pushing up his shirt and circling the skin there. Namjoon finally gets it. Yoongi's hands are rough, calloused and clumsy. They move up and down Jeongguk like rain painting an alleyway. His head is already fucked, but the possession in Yoongi's eyes makes his breath hitch in the back of his throat.

It's like they're alone again in his studio apartment. Only the whine of ceiling fans for company. His fingers curl in the fabric of his shirt and he pulls him to him. Skin on skin and the rush of his pulse, it sets him on fire. Yoongi moves awkwardly, his breath coagulated in soju and the tightness in his stomach. Jeongguk has the look to kiss him right there (his forehead pushing against his and his eyes narrowing in on his lips.) And Yoongi wants him to. He wants him to kiss him in front of his friends, in front of Namjoon, in this dank bar. Yoongi hates dependency --even as an alcoholic-- the need he feels for Jeongguk he has never felt before. It feels like hands are squeezing his throat and he only wants to beg, "Harder." Yoongi has never begged. He has to pull away before he gets any harder.

Yoongi takes his hand and leads him off the dance floor. Back to the bar. His comfort zone. He downs another shot.

 

---

 

On the train back Jeongguk sits with his thigh touching his. The ride isn't long enough for him to look out the window like a brooding teenager so he looks at Yoongi instead. Jeongguk keeps his eyes on his mouth and nudges his head with his. Yoongi, blindfolded by his intoxication and tipsy topsy words, is as desperate to meet the heat of his lips. If not more. It not more. It not more. His eyes are the ocean. Yoongi is at the bottom, swimming with the fish and murky waters. He wants to open his mouth wider, but he's afraid of drowning. "Yoongi," Jeongguk says his name like it's sacred. Yoongi pictures him sliding down the length of his body. Down on his knees at the altar of him. His mouth wasn't made for taking confession.

They're already entangled when he gets the door open. His tongue down his throat and his hands under his clothes. Yoongi just wants to get him naked and between his 3000 thread count sheets, but they don't make it to the bed. His fingers are a river that lap at the shores of his skin. Glazed sugar and toffee. Yoongi runs his hands up his toned abdominal muscles to his nipples. He pinches them until they're hard and hot against his fingertips. His arousal evident by the sounds he makes (and his erection pressing against his thigh.)

He keeps kissing him--inhaling his exhale and making him pant and moan into his mouth. His lips, red and raw, cry out for Blistex. He wants the taste of medicated mint between them. Jeongguk shimmies Yoongi's skinny jeans down his thighs and pulls his shirt over his head. His clothes are more casual than the ones he bought Jeongguk today, but they suit him. He piles their clothes together in one big heap. His skin is bone white under the kitchen lights. 

Jeongguk lifts him onto the counter. He kisses him again, softer this time. He wants something. He looks at Yoongi through half-lidded eyes and a silken smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. --Can I fuck you-- the words he'll never outwardly say. Yoongi's only done this with Namjoon. Namjoon, who's had much more experience fucking guys and is much gentler when it comes to the comfort of his best friend, but he nods. Jeongguk pushes him back against the granite surface. It's cold, but his skin is abuzz with desire and alcohol. His fingers are wet with saliva, but they aren't gentle. Yoongi doesn't want him to be.  

He fucks him with the condom in Yoongi's back pocket. He doesn't touch him, he doesn't even let Yoongi get himself off. He holds his hands tightly, fingernails leaving indentions in his knuckles. Yoongi pushes his hips up off the counter to meet his thrusts. He lulls his head back and lets his mouth fall open--moaning out his name and fuck.fuck.fuck. Yoongi thinks, maybe, he's the whore for how much he likes being used. Jeongguk leans down and kisses him, biting his bottom lip until Yoongi lets out a low whine. "Stop," Is not a word his tongue knows. Jeongguk thrusts into him roughly. He lets go of his hands and grips his hips.

Jeongguk comes hard, shoving his cock deep inside Yoongi. Going against his own rule Yoongi wishes his cum was seeping out of him. He wants to feel his warmth. Yoongi runs a hand through his hair and breathes heavily. His cock is throbbing and all he wants is for Jeongguk to touch him. Finally Jeongguk touches him. He caresses him shyly, even though Jeongguk is anything but shy. Jeongguk is young and eager and hungry even after having just come. He doesn't give him a moment to come down.  He pulls him up off the counter and dances him back against the refrigerator. It's even colder than the granite against his ass.

Jeongguk has such a pretty mouth. Yoongi traces his lips with his thumb. 

"Get on your knees."

A street boy in designer clothes with a smile as soft and pure as snow now wears a wolf's grin--teeth dripping with primal hunger. Jeongguk lowers himself onto the floor, kissing down his naked body as he does so. The kitchen tiles cut into his knees.

Jeongguk presses paper thin kisses to the hollows of his hips. His fingers pressed against his windpipe and his teeth had playfully nipped at his earlobe, but he hadn't marked him. Jeongguk licks at his pale thighs and bites down. He leaves an imprint of his teeth on his skin. Tomorrow Yoongi will still be wearing Jeongguk on his skin. Jeongguk takes him into his mouth slowly. He looks up at Yoongi, watching him relax now that his lips are wrapped around his cock.

He grips his ass as he deep throats him. His fingers leaving red lines in his skin. Yoongi pulls on his hair as he nears release. His breath coming out in gasps. He comes messily, spilling out of Jeongguk's mouth. Jeongguk licks at his lips and wipes away the excess with the back of his hand. Yoongi ruffles Jeongguk's hair. It's the best sex he's ever had, paid or unpaid for. The kind where he wants to light a cigarette and delve into existentialist shit. They're not naked and breathless in the sheets, they're still going.  Jeongguk's hand wraps around his cock and he asks huskily, "You think you can get it up for me again?"  


Chapter Text

Yoongi thinks he loves him. This kid, tucked into his side, who sleeps like he is entrenched in another world has taken his heart out of the ground. It is covered in dirt and pulses faintly, but in his hands it begins to beat again. Louder and louder like a marching band. Yoongi runs his fingers through his hair gently and presses a kiss to his temple, thankful he's a deep sleeper. Yoongi gets out of bed uncharacteristically early. 8 a.m. reads the small digital clock on the coffee table. There is no sense of well-being (Jin-hyung is a liar.) Only a familiar emptiness breathing in place of the love he had felt for the boy still sleeping soundly in his bed. Every morning is eerily more distant than the last like sand slipping through the cracks between his fingers. He barely remembers the feel of sand, the smell of the ocean. Jimin stopped going, and consequentially taking him, saying something about not wanting to be a Busan boy. "But your accent is too cute Chim Chim." Hoseok had cooed. His eyes were closed in a smile, but Jimin had mouthed, "Stop calling me that." Everything recedes with the tide.

With a sigh he looks out on the city, awash with gold and red. It is the colour of the leaves he was so fascinated with as child. Yoongi watched them fall, caught there beneath the traffic of a thousand feet. Their beauty lost in the favor of blossoms and flowers. He traced their veins with his fingertips. They were delicate, cracking and making a mess of the inside of his pockets. His father always looked so disappointed with him. Autumn still breathes some life into him, not like winter... In the winter he lies in his blankets, heater on the highest setting and remembers the taste of pumpkin and apples, cinnamon sugar on his tongue. On the crowded street below him everyone is still waking up, drinking their overpriced coffee and flipping through their phone to check the headlines. Business suits, pencil skirts and heels. A swarm of black. Among them he is a ghost. Yoongi's never had a job. Not a proper one. He rapped with Namjoon underground when he was teenager and interned at a media printing company, but nothing had ever stuck (or paid the bills.)

"Why don't you get a real job?" His father had told him in not so many words. Yoongi had tried. He worked a "real job" for two or three weeks until the customers started to complain about his attitude. His tone, his dead eyes, the way he just couldn't grate his teeth and say, "Thank you have a nice day." Smile more wasn't in the job description.

Now he's a photographer. Yoongi wants to laugh. He's just some asshole with a fancy camera. He catches a glimpse of Jeongguk on his way to make a cup of coffee -- still asleep (he can't hear the whirling in his head.) Jeongguk must love sleep as much as he does. Yoongi wants to be asleep beside him or better yet in his dreams, kissing his lips raw and pulling down his pants. Coffee can wait another minute. He's drawn back into Jeongguk's atmosphere. Yoongi traces his finger down his spine, feeling every bump. His skin is beautiful -- everything about the kid is beautiful, perfect even.

Yoongi gets his camera and takes pictures of him. Nothing about it feels wrong, because this is art -- he is art. Like this... unposed, asleep he is pure. When Jeongguk is awake, lining with his eyes with black and putting on a smirk that could take on the world something inside him turns off. Yoongi still hasn't seen the same look when he first laid eyes on him. The same... need. It was a multitude of emotions bleeding into one. Like watercolour. Loneliness, hunger, fear. It was like a wild animal was looking at him and not a boy. Jeongguk wore all his sins on his skin.

He dresses in jeans and a Supreme hoodie. Under his cap and hoodie he feels safe. He puts on his Nike sneakers. 'Nikes on my feet make my love complete.' He hums to himself and grabs his keys. He thinks, maybe, one day he'll make a spare for Jeongguk. 

 

---

 

"Yoongi, how much do you know about this kid?" Yoongi is tired of having the same conversation. The drink in his hand doesn't make Namjoon's words go down any easier.

"Why are you so jealous? Why can't you let me be happy?"

Namjoon lets out a laugh as dry as the autumn leaves. He looks more hurt than anything. Yoongi never wanted to hurt anyone, least of all his best friend. Yoongi can't tell him he's in love. He can't tell him anything. They're sitting shoulder to shoulder at the bar, but there are miles between them.

"They have rates, they have clients, they have..." His tongue stilling, suddenly not the expert on prostitutes he thought he was.

The air has grown pungent with tension. The space between them resembles a frozen lake, cracking and cracking until one of them falls through.

"Something about him isn't right." Namjoon says the words softly, hoping that Yoongi truly hears him, but with his fingers wrapped tightly around his empty glass and his eyes on the bartender Namjoon doubts he has heard a single word.

"Maybe he likes me." He sounds more like a kid than the one he's fucking.

"Sure Yoongi."

There is a tightness in his chest as he watches Namjoon walk away from him again. Yoongi feels small, sitting in the bar with the mahogany wood and glass cabinets. The bottles glisten under the lights. He feels more lust for the taste, the feel of the neck of a bottle in his mouth, but mostly for what they do to him --this beautiful spell of forgetfulness-- than for Jeongguk's skin. 

Outside the sun has gone down. Yoongi catches a glimpse of the sun setting when a guy asks him to join him for a smoke. He doesn't smoke, but he takes the cigarette from the stranger nevertheless. His fingers brushing his. He isn't as pretty as Jeongguk, not by a long-shot, but his hands are warm and he wears the perfect shade of kiss me pink gloss. The metropolis is embraced by his favourite colours. Black and gray.

It takes him awhile to get home. Yoongi pictures Jeongguk pacing, sitting on the edge of his bed. In his fucked up headspace Jeongguk is waiting for him. He wants him to be full of him when he isn't inside him, when his cock isn't down his throat he still wants him to be choking on him. He fumbles with his keys loudly. He isn't drunk enough to not know which key it is or to risk pissing off his neighbors, but he half expects Jeongguk to open the door for him. Jeongguk doesn't.

Jeongguk is sitting on a kitchen stool, eating leftover pizza and having one of his beers. Jeongguk had really wanted soba noodles, but beggars can't be choosers. Food is a rare commodity in Yoongi's fridge. Jeongguk looks between him and the clock on the wall before sliding off the stool and giving him a hug.

"I missed you." And he means it. Jeongguk can smell his addiction on him. He reeks of booze. And addictions that aren't his: cigarette smoke. There are notes of a cologne that isn't his. Jeongguk hugs him tightly. More possessive than intimate. Yoongi leans against his warmth.

"I'm not in the mood." Yoongi says when he tries to kiss him.

Jeongguk shrinks back.

The theme of the day is hurting everyone he loves. His mouth is dry and he could really use a beer, but he settles for Jeongguk. 

Yoongi reaches out to him. Come here. Jeongguk hasn't learned yet. He just comes back to him.

"I didn't mean that." Yoongi hushes.

"What did you mean?" An edge to his voice.

"I mean... I missed you too."

"Did you? What'd you miss about me?

Yoongi can't answer. Everything.

"My mouth?" Jeongguk smiles, snakebite. Yoongi nods, eyes closing. Jeongguk pushes him against the wall. It hurts, but he doesn't say anything. He doesn't want to suck him off, not that he doesn't love the taste of him, but because he wants to fuck him. He wants to fuck him until only his stench remains on his skin, until his name is a sob in the back of his throat. 

Jeongguk slips down his body like soap. He nudges him through his underwear with his tongue. His boxers becoming dotted with precum. Jeongguk smiles playfully up at Yoongi. His eyes not veiled by eyelashes or half-closed, but staring into his like he owns him. It seems like a half hour since he got on his goddamn knees and is now letting his cock breathe. He thumbs the slit of his cock roughly before pinning his hips to the wall. His tongue now, finally, licking up his length. He pauses, mouthing at him like it's his first time giving a blowjob, to look at Yoongi again. Yoongi would smack the coy smile off his face if he didn't have his lips wrapped around the head of his cock.

This game he's playing. Yoongi isn't sure who's leading.

"Who are you thinking about?"

"You." Yoongi breathes. You, always.

He takes him into his mouth like he's taking commission.

 

---

 

His skin is starlight and honey. Jeongguk wants to pull him apart and watch his blood drip down his delectable collarbones and onto his bony chest and into the recesses of his rib cage. The snow is beautiful, but with blood dotting it he can't tear his eyes away. Yoongi bruises easily and the ones Jeongguk left on his thighs will last him weeks. Jeongguk lets Yoongi undress him. He wraps the binds around his wrists tightly. 

"Do you trust me?" Yoongi asks. His eyes liquid chocolate, held too close to the candle flame. Jeongguk sees himself in them, lust licking across his skin. He would let Yoongi do anything to him. Jeongguk nods.

Yoongi ties him to his bed frame. He lies on his stomach, breathing softly. The sheets are warm and smell like vanilla and lavender. Jeongguk thinks it's sweet that Yoongi does the laundry for him. In the natural lighting Jeongguk is beautiful. Always beautiful. He has thought that thought over and over again and said it less than once. His hair like dolls-hair, spilling into his eyes. Yoongi runs his hand over his shoulders, his spine, his Venus dimples, his ass. His body carved from marble, full of light and every inch reaching for him. His fingers grip his ass and leave his skin white.

His hand slowly peels away from his sticky skin and comes down hard. Jeongguk chokes on the word. Again. His throat is dry and itchy and his heart drums loudly, the sound coming as irritatingly as nails on a chalkboard to his ears. "Again," He cries. Yoongi spanks him until he is hard and begging. His skin is red and weeping, but he aches to say, "Again, again, again," until his skin is wilted and he is coming in the sheets. Jeongguk bites at his lips, still raw from kissing him. His fingernails dig into his palms, desperate to wrap around his cock and get himself off. 

"Do you like this?" Yoongi asks, dragging his tongue over his shoulder blades. Jeongguk strains against his binds to grind back against his erection. Yoongi smirks, "I'll take that as a yes."

 

---

 

It’s a different kind of high. Being with him. Like this. They're covered in post-sex sweat and Jeongguk presses himself too close. Jeongguk wants to straddle his lap and push himself into his space, but he settles for brushing his lips over the shell of his ear. Yoongi is sensitive there. Yoongi bites his tongue, a moan held between his tongue. Arousal twists like a hot knife in his stomach. 

"Stop," Yoongi says dryly. Much to Yoongi's surprise, and relief, he doesn't touch him again -- only laying his heavy head on his shoulder. They sit in the silence, no TV, not even the whirl of a space heater. It's old like everything else in Yoongi's place. Jeongguk can hear his heart. It's the only sound he wants to hear anymore. Jeongguk likes the idea of them being together a little too much. The feeling in his chest is raw like a new wound. He has rubbed the skin off. He wants it to scar. Scars are like a Polaroid of people's hearts. A multi-billion dollar industry on healing what never never truly heal.

Yoongi sighs when Jeongguk breaks the silence.

"Your friend..." His voice comes hushed, cotton at the back of his throat. "Namjoon, were you and he?"

"Together? Yeah." Together doesn't begin to describe what they had, but he settles. His tongue is too acquainted with poison to hesitant.

"What happened?" Jeongguk is too curious.

'Didn't anyone tell you, curiosity killed the cat.' Yoongi wants to curl his fingers in his thick head of hair and bite against his skin. 'And then it came back.' Jeongguk would stick out his chin. Challenge accepted. He has as much fire in him as Yoongi does. More. 

"Sorry."

It's not what he wants to say.

"Suga?" Jeongguk says and that, somehow, makes Yoongi smile. Jeongguk wants to make him smile forever, but he knows that smile isn't for him.

"That was my name when... Namjoon and I were partners in swag. He came up with it."

"Sweet as sugar."

Yoongi laughs. "Because I'm pale. I'm not sweet."

"I think you are."

Yoongi doesn't remember being fifteen. He can't tell if he's particularly good at his job or if maybe he's in some sort of love with him too. Yoongi supposes Jeongguk doesn't exactly know what it means to be fifteen either. He spent his childhood between homes and making friends with stray cats instead of classmates. Yoongi wonders what's wrong with him. Normal people don't fall in love with a fifteen year old, but he isn't normal and that's the crux of all his problems.

 

 

Yoongi goes from sweet to sour in a matter of seconds. When he's had a few or is tired or or or it's always some excuse. Jeongguk swallows them all like a pill. The bitter taste sticking to his tongue, but he still smiles. His anger builds like a storm. The sky darkening and the ground soaked with the smell of rain. Jeongguk used to be afraid of storms, but now he just wants to see the sky alight and to hear the crack of lightning even if it's across his skin.

Jeongguk had listened in silence to Yoongi rattle on about the "glory days" with Namjoon.

"You're not old."

Yoongi ignores him.

"Haven't you had enough."

Yoongi ignores that too.

The IKEA coffee table is a mess of Chinese takeaway and empty soju bottles.

Jeongguk watches Yoongi the way Yoongi watches people -- on the streets, in bed he's taking photographs with his mind. He's never really there. And when he is he's stumbling through. Half in the bag and his eyes empty, like he'd rather be anywhere else.

"Who are you thinking about?" The words come familiarly to his tongue. His tone is possessive, gnawing at Yoongi, despite his soft voice. Hearing Yoongi talk about Namjoon had pulled at Jeongguk. Long, pointed fingernails scratching at him and making his jealous side surface. Jeongguk slides his hand down his thigh. It makes Yoongi jump. His body isn't a stranger to his, but with Namjoon pressed behind his eyes and the last song they ever wrote together playing in his memory, it makes everything fracture.

Yoongi snatches his wrist up in his bony, calloused hands and holds it too tightly. Jeongguk is too comfortable in his touch to take it as a warning.

You. Always. It isn't a lie, even with Namjoon's voice in his head he is thinking about Jeongguk. A smiling face in the crowd listening to his rap. But Yoongi doesn't say anything, he just looks at Jeongguk. Yoongi's eyes are dark. It's not the colour, but the intent in them.

"I just wanted your attention." He sounds like a kid. Yoongi has to remind himself he is a kid. With his pretty mouth, half a foot on Yoongi, and broad shoulders.

"Do you still want my attention?" Yoongi grips his jaw. He brushes his thumb over the scar on his cheek too softly for how hard he is holding his jaw. His flaws are what make him perfect.

Jeongguk nods, more intrigued with how far Yoongi will go than scared.

He's taller and stronger than him, but he doesn't resist. Even without the binds Jeongguk is obedient. Yoongi runs his hands down to his nipples. They're sensitive, like Yoongi's ears, the lightest touch breathes fire across his skin. He pinches his nipple between his thumb and index finger. Jeongguk moans, unhinged.  

Yoongi bends him over the arm of the couch and pulls his charcoal grey sweatpants down. Yoongi doesn't know why Jeongguk bothers to wear clothes for how often he's tearing them off of him, littering his apartment floor until he can't tell which pair of underwear is his or Jeongguk's. Jeongguk wears the colour red so well. His skin, flecked with bruises and fingerprints, begs to be kissed, but this isn't about sex. This is about something much more primal. He wants to do terrible things to him in the dark. It's never dark enough for what he wants to do to him. 

His fingers knot in the upholstery. Anticipation beading down the small of his back. 

Yoongi half wishes he could wash the longing off his skin, but Jeongguk has burrowed inside him (and reached a place he didn't think existed.) His fingers tremble around his heart. Yoongi wants him to squeeze as hard as he's squeezing his throat. Squeeze until his heart stops. 

He fucks him roughly, pulling his hips to him and gripping his already raw skin.

"Yoongi, it's too much."

"Stop,"

But he doesn't stop. He's not going to stop, no matter how much or prettily he begs.

The hand around his throat cuts him off.

Jeongguk bites down on his knuckles. It doesn't dull him to the pain, but it stops the tears that are threatening to spill down his cheeks. Jeongguk pushes back against him, meeting his rough thrusts. It isn't give and take with Yoongi. Yoongi takes and takes and takes until there's nothing left. And Jeongguk would have given him everything. Jeongguk wants him to choke him, to pull his hair, to suck bruises into his skin. He wants him all over him. No... needs.

Somehow want has turned to need.

And there's always a please at the end.

Yoongi's voice comes hushed, and warm, against his ear. "Make yourself come. Make yourself come for me, baby."

Jeongguk comes all over his hand and the couch. Yoongi wrinkles his nose. Cum stains are a bitch to clean. Jeongguk doesn't move, he just stays there shaking. Through his spotted vision he stares at the couch cushions, every small detail revealing itself to him.

"You fucked out?" Yoongi pulls Jeongguk to him, his hands always gripping too hard, but he can't feel it.

"I asked you to stop. Why didn't you stop?"

"I'm sorry." A hundred apologizes can't take back what he did, but that doesn't stop him from saying it. Softer every time. 

"I'm sorry." Yoongi kisses his tears away. "I love you."

"Don't say that." Not now.

"Did you hear what I said?" This is more than the booze talking. He's scared, he's scared of losing him.

"Come here."

His voice takes on a sharper tone, "Come here."

"Or what you'll hit me? You really think you can do anything more to me?"

"More to you?" Yoongi laughs. "I fucked you. That's what I pay you for."

They both know that wasn't fucking.

"You got off didn't you?"

Jeongguk hates himself for the sting of tears that come.

"What do you want from me? More money?"

"I want you to stop. You're hurting everyone... You're hurting yourself." Jeongguk says, looking at Yoongi now he thinks maybe he doesn't give a fuck about anyone else.

Jeongguk really doesn't want to be touched, much less held. Anger is spit firing in his stomach, but he lets Yoongi in (again.) His arms enveloping him like the sleeves of his favourite sweater. All Jeongguk can hear is his heart. Beating so fast and scared. 

"I care about you." Jeongguk manages. He lets Yoongi kiss him. His hands clenching into fists to keep from pushing him away.

 

 

"Don't go." Yoongi almost says 'please.' His fingers brush against his soft sheets. He has no memory of crawling into bed or changing into clean clothes. His hair is damp from the shower. He doesn't remember that either. 

"If you get sick there's a bucket by your bed."

Chapter Text

Yoongi wakes up and wishes he hadn't. His eyes are slow to open, everything is too bright. He wants to turn off the sun. The warm light streams through his curtains and illuminates him in white. He doesn't want to see himself. He lies there like it's already winter. Under a single blanket he's cold, but at least he can block out the light. It's cold because he can't feel anything other than his head which feels like a dumbbell. He's been hang over before, many times, but the pain still makes him push his head into the pillows. He bites down to stifle a barrage of curses.

"Jeongguk." His throat is dry and scratchy. The air he breathes feels like sand.

"Jeongguk." He says again, but no voice answers his.

He gets up.

Well. He tries. His body shakes and a couple times he sits back down.

His apartment is clean. Cleaner than it's been in awhile and there's food in the fridge. There's no alcohol, not even empties in the trash. He used to wash out the empty bottles to get the last drops.  

"Hey."

Jeongguk doesn't say anything. It leaves his skin cold.

"Looking for something?"

"Yeah. Water."

It's a lie and Jeongguk knows it, but Yoongi still fills a glass and gulps it down.

"Why are you still here?" Yoongi asks, it's the only question he has any right to. Not the ones burning on his tongue... Where'd you go, who'd you stay with? He is a fire burning down. Red's never been his color.

"Isn't it obvious?"

"No."

Jeongguk plays with his fingers, twisting a hangnail until it's bloody. He stuffs his hands into his pockets to keep from doing anymore damage. 

"Because I love you, asshole." He adds much more softly.

Maybe this is what Yoongi had felt. An anger exploding behind his eyes. He doesn't know why or how he loves him, but he says it and he can breathe again. It's like he'd been holding himself under water. His lungs waterlogged, his skin blue.

"Don't." Jeongguk says when Yoongi tries to kiss him. His hands push against his chest weakly. Yoongi still gets close, wrapping his arms around him and burrowing into the crook of his neck. His breath is warm and soft against his skin. He has scars everywhere Yoongi touches.

"Is this okay?" It's only okay because he doesn't know how to breathe without Yoongi. It used to be simple, inhale, exhale, but everything has become hard when Yoongi isn't there--wrapping around him, sinking into his space, like it's instinct. Jeongguk thinks that's it. He loves him because it's easier than not loving him. His skin, his smell, his apartment it's become home for him.

Jeongguk nods.

Yoongi is the most addictive drug that's ever coursed through his veins.

---

Somehow having a party here doesn't seem like the best idea. All he can see is the wreckage he caused. The knocked over bottles and Jeongguk looking up at him with tears prickling and his lips trembling out the words, "Why." 

Yoongi feels his heart lurch in his chest and his stomach churn over the scene. It didn't feel like his hands grabbing and pinching into his skin. He had treated him like a plaything, batting him between his paws. All he had felt was lust. Lust for his flesh, his desire. He had wanted to hurt him. Standing in the middle of his apartment he feels like a stranger to himself. 

His phone buzzes.

It's Jimin.

[You doing anything special for my birthday?]

Guilt is a rich metallic taste on his tongue.

I love you.

It didn't change anything between them. It certainly didn't fix anything, but he said it and Yoongi drank it down.

Not long after Yoongi got him relaxed in his arms is he unwrapping himself from him and stepping back to look at Yoongi. A slow blink sweeping him up. Yoongi swims in hoodie, even his skinny jeans are baggy in the ass. He hasn't been eating. Soju doesn't count. Jeongguk has long eyelashes and in his eyes is everything. They're not like the night sky, but that of the ocean. Obsidian dancing under the heat of the kitchen lights. No matter how long he stares into their depths, they never tell him anything. 

---

B-Wolf wears his beanie down over his eyebrows. It's his way of hiding from the world. He's around Yoongi's age, but doesn't act like it. Jeongguk grew up with him. They were friends once, but their world didn't make for friends. Too long and everyone ended up an addict or with a knife in their back. The air is dry and dusty, but he sucks it down. It stills everything between them. Between the silence and his nervousness. Jeongguk only knows how to dig his hands deeper into the pockets of his hoodie.

"Is this all of it?" He has his hood up over his beanie, his head sticking out like a turtle. He runs his fingers over the money. Jeongguk can remember when there was something other than green in his eyes.

"It's all I have."

"He's paying you isn't he?"

Jeongguk nods.

"So what's the problem? We gave you an easy one, everyone knows how fucked up Yoongi is... how easy it is to guilt him."

"It's not like that."

B-Wolf looks at him and he feels small, smaller than when he's in bed naked and it's 3am and he can't sleep. The walls echo back his emptiness. B-Wolf, he knows him as Inho (but doesn't dare call him that), smiles. It's more of a smirk really. Blood running down his crooked teeth.

"Don't tell me you're in love." He pockets the cash and licks his lips. He's pretty, in the way abandoned buildings, hospital walls, and bones are. So garishly clean, haunting almost in their fragility. That's not the kind of pretty Jeongguk likes.

"You're a whore and he's a mark." He says.

I'm not a whore.  

"You're a whore and he's a mark." He repeats.

"You're so fucking naive."

"Get more money." B-Wolf comes closer to him. Once Jeongguk could taste snowflakes melting on his tongue and how sweet he had tasted, when their hands were small and cold and stupid in the snow and smiles had dazzled their faces, but all he feels now is the goose pimples crawling over his skin. Childhood had ended quickly for them. "You don't need me to remind you what'll happen if you don't."

Jeongguk can't get away fast enough.

He shakes, he bounces. He pulls his hoodie up. Everything feels like it's closing in on him. The gray structures, the faces (lit up in cigarette frames), his habits. He chews at his fingers, making his short nails even shorter. He can feel the skin bleeding into his mouth.

Jeongguk can't get warm. He hasn't scored in awhile, but he still has his contacts. He keeps his hood down and his eyes even lower. He knows that one wrong look will get him killed or worse. His back is too familiar with the brick walls. B-Wolf had ended a few of his fights, the rest he had learned to take. He gets lost in the sea of the crowd. Like he isn't there at all. When he's fucked up even the bad is manageable.

He comes home. The lights are off and the room feels heavy. His fingers panic for the light switch.

"Surprise!"

"Goddammit Jeongguk." Namjoon sighs. 

"Sorry." 

"Turn out the lights. Come here, come here." Yoongi gestures.

"We're having a surprise birthday party for Jimin." Yoongi smiles, gums showing. Jeongguk hasn't seen him that happy ever in his time of being with him. 'I got that part.' Jeongguk says, but doesn't say. 

"You okay?"

"Yeah, you just surprised me is all."

"Everyone be quiet I hear someone coming..." Yoongi elbows Taehyung in the ribs. It shuts him up for a minute.

An hour in and everything is going fine. That's a record for the seven of them. Taehyung hasn't started offering party favors and Jimin hasn't finger-licked the icing off the cake yet. It almost seems too easy. Yoongi's apartment is small even when it's the two of them. Jeongguk sits too close, his skin itches for contact... for another drug and Yoongi is the best one. Whatever kind of fucked-up he is, Yoongi is too. Yoongi scouts away under Namjoon's slow dancing smile. Namjoon seems to accept it. That he's lost Yoongi, that this is Jeongguk's couch now, that he has ownership on everything in this apartment including Yoongi, especially Yoongi. To Jeongguk that's a smile, it's victory, to Yoongi it's a knife sliding into his ribs.

"Are you high?" Yoongi asks almost as a joke, but then (looking at Jeongguk and how squirrelly he is) he asks again more seriously, "Are you high?"

Jeongguk doesn't answer him, doesn't even look at him. He feels like a bad kid with his hand in the cookie jar, but this is much much worse.

"Taehyung did you give him drugs?"

"No." Taehyung lulls, his face pressed to close to Hoseok's. Yoongi narrows his gaze.  "No, I swear. Scout's honor."

Drug dealers honor. It's all Yoongi's got these days.

"Who gave you drugs?" His voice is sharp.

"I don't know. Some guy."

"Some guy?"

"Yeah some guy."

"Drug dealers don't exactly have business cards."

"I do." Taehyung says cheerfully.

"Why... you're not a drug user."

"Chill out Yoongi it's not as if you've never done drugs." Namjoon sighs. Yoongi doesn't expect that from him.

Yoongi wants to snap. He wants to crack open the six pack that's sitting in his fridge, waiting for him, he wants to dig his fingers into Jeongguk's arm, but he doesn't.

"Let's just fucking get through Jimin's birthday."

---

"I'm sorry I ruined your party."

"You didn't ruin anything." Yoongi reassures.

They sit on the bathroom floor with their thighs almost touching. Jeongguk thinks of the train... (of how badly he had wanted to kiss Yoongi and curl his fingers around his) now his mouth is full of nausea. There isn't enough mint toothpaste to get the feeling out. He had been stupid to think anything with him could last. Maybe he was naive.  Jeongguk presses his hands to his temples. He lunges forward periodically, to grip the toilet seat bowl and retch the contents of his stomach. Slinking back against the wall where Yoongi sits when he's done. Yoongi runs a warm washcloth over his forehead. 

"How do you do that?" Jeongguk asks.

"What?"

"Make it so easy to forgive you." Jeongguk rests his head on his shoulder. His hand is so close to holding his. He loves his hands. It was one of the first things Jeongguk noticed about him, after his voice and gummy smile. He seemed to always be folding into his hands and pressing kisses to his knuckles. 

Jeongguk feels so small next to Yoongi, even though he was in the same place less than twenty four hours ago.

"Do you remember much of last night?" The nausea stopping to get the words out.

"I'm sorry I hurt you." Yoongi swallows.

"Not that part." After. From the look on his face he doesn't, only Jeongguk remembers. "You kept crying and throwing up, Yoongi I thought you were going to die."

"That explains why I look terrible," Jeongguk doesn't laugh.

"For fuck sake Yoongi." Jeongguk 'helps' him into the shower, pulling his sweater over his head and making sure he doesn't trip over his jeans. Yoongi can barely stand up. He slides down the shower wall. Hands in face. All he can taste is sick. Jeongguk meets him there, slumping against the wall fully clothed. He rubs his back when he pukes and keeps the water out of his eyes.

"You took care of me?" Yoongi runs a thumb over his face; the ache behind his eyes and in his throat numbs, every one of his atoms strains to meet his. He kisses him, slower, gentler than he's ever kissed him before. "Even after... what I did."

Jeongguk doesn't feel like a whore, Yoongi doesn't feel like a job. He just feels like a kid in love.

"I love you."

"I love you too, kiddo."

"Can you not say that. Kiddo."

Jeongguk can see how sorry he is, but he doesn't want an apology. He wants him to say it again and mean it this time.

"I love you." Yoongi mouths against his lips. Yoongi doesn't mind the taste of sick when it's him.

"I want you so much." Need is apart of it always. Unspoken. 

"I can't." It's not a word Yoongi uses often. 

"I forgive you."

"I don't forgive me." Yoongi says, heart in mouth like a rabbit. "I don't trust myself with you."

"Just let this be enough for now. Trust me, I want to too. I want you too." Need.

He kisses every inch of his face, his eyelashes, the mole on his neck.

---

They lie in bed with their clothes on. Yoongi doesn't think he's done that with anyone. Jeongguk plays the hem of his Henley. Yoongi can feel his fingers, cold and bumpy, against the pale of his belly. 

"When did you first have sex?" Jeongguk asks, glutton on curiosity.

"Am I your first?" He laughs, it feels like honey clinging to him, when Yoongi doesn't answer.

"No."

"Namjoon?"

Yoongi nods.

"Did you love him?"

Yoongi remembers the late nights with Namjoon. They were so drunk on music and each other they couldn't wait to get back home. They fucked on the floor of the studio. Namjoon was always gentler than he would have liked, kissing him until his lips were red and his fingernails were digging into the floorboards. He pressed into him, his fingers cold and sticky with lube. Namjoon angled his hips up. Yoongi could be flexible when he wanted to be. They fucked like they were each other's favourite drug. They weren't. Yoongi breathed his exhale and ran lines down his back and meet his thrusts, hungry. After he lay there, wrapped in his arms and counted his eyelashes. He didn't need a blanket or a pillow or alcohol, he just needed him in that moment. 

"I thought I did."

"But you love me?" Jeongguk smiles.

"Mmhm." His voice is so soft. Jeongguk wants to fall asleep in it.

Jeongguk leans up and kisses his nose.

"Would you love me no matter what?"

"Jeongguk you're..." Fifteen, a whore, god knows what else. "I should think that goes without question."

"You're wondering how many people I've been with?"

Yes. 

"What was your first like?"

"Some guy,"

"Is this like the drug dealer story, some guy you don't remember.."

"There's been so many," He teases.

Jeongguk can't see his face, but his head is resting on his chest and he can hear his heart tighten around the questions: if he'd like them as much, if they'd been gentle, if they had hurt him like he had. How many... he doesn't have a right to that answer.

"I've never been with anyone else.. just my first and you--" All his thoughts end in 'and you.' Yoongi is his constant. 

Yoongi should be happy, he should be more than happy. He should be delirious, but he isn't.

Chapter Text

"Okay." Yoongi says, after he's calmed down. It's all he can say. Okay. 

It sounds so flat and weird, but it's all that's left between them. Cold has entered Jeongguk again. The drugs have long since worn off and all he can feel his absence. His hands, his skin, his bones can't stop shaking and bouncing off the walls. He digs his fingers into his palms.

"Yoongi," He says, once, twice. His name is not for comfort. He's not midnight reruns of his favourite TV show. He's not nicotine or booze or crystal. He's just Yoongi and he's his favourite thing. It takes everything he has not to reach out to him. He's got enough bruises from sex with him and eye bags from sleepless nights.

"I'm not a whore." It almost sounds wrong, because everyone's a whore. For money, for love, for position. I'm not a whore in the way you think I am.

Yoongi shifts under the scope of his gaze. 

"I needed money... And you were easy. I watched you for awhile, with your friends and liked the way..." Fuck. Jeongguk doesn't know how to explain it. How he had watched Yoongi the same way he watched him under his lens. He just feels the remnant of sick from hours ago, but none of the high. 

"How is that any different from being a whore?" Somehow more caught up on that detail than what he is saying.

"Because I used you."

"We used each other."

"I owed... owe money to guys you don't want to owe money to."

He has a 'how is that my problem' air about him. It smells like cheap booze and city pollution, but that's how he always smells when he hasn't showered. 

His phone buzzes on the counter top.

The conversation stills, the boy in front of him becomes another tourist in his life. Someone that is going to go away, disappear into the background noise.. someone he doesn't have to worry about missing. This this is, "it." Big inhale. His big break. And finally he can stop hearing about money from Namjoon.

 

"If you need money," He offers.

"I don't need your money," It comes out rougher than he wants, "Taking pictures of naked boys for old perverts pays the bills." 

"You should come back... to the underground, everyone misses you," He cuts off. "I miss you. You were good, I was better with you."

Namjoon is trying to sweet talk him.

Music hadn't been any good for Yoongi. It had made him feel too much.

 

[ when can you get out here ]

[ next flight ]

"Where are you going?" Jeongguk asks, his throat dry. Some kind of plea in his voice. (take me with you.)

"L.A."

He's been to L.A. before, with Namjoon, when they were trying to sell their music like hookers on the street. Music didn't sell, but sex, but underage... always did. L.A. is like alcohol, but not. It's colder somehow. More like nicotine. The queue of people sleeping in the airport and waiting in lines, checking their watches anxiously, the puff of a sigh and the relief that hit them like a fix. It wasn't much different from the rush-hour on the 수도권 전철. People going somewhere in a hurry like their lives mattered --only sometimes it did-- people dreamed in L.A., people died dreamless in Seoul. The hot blood of L.A. made him feel like he's not so fucked up. He knows he is.   

"That's far..." Is all he can think to say.

"Very."

Panic sets in when Yoongi gets his coat (he won't need it in L.A. but he takes it out of habit) and looks back at him. Jeongguk looks smaller somehow. Like he's driving away from a car accident.  

'You're leaving me. Here, alone.' Jeongguk doesn't say it. Doesn't have to. He's the puppy he's kicked too many times, on his doormat with broken legs and sad eyes who still licks at his hands.

"Just stay inside."

The flight to L.A. is long, absurdly long between an American who won't shut up and a mother and a newborn, the brat as much of a whiner as the American -- especially for something that could have been done over Skype, but they had wanted to meet face to face. Shit fuck maybe Namjoon was right. Maybe this was illegal and wrong and the police wanted to meet with him maybe, but he just gets shit faced. It's what he's good at. His back is stiff from sitting too long. He drinks the overpriced baby bottles of vodka -- Tito's homemade shit -- while staring out the window. Up high there is nothing, but clouds. He listens to different conversations drift in and out of hearing range until he falls asleep. It's nice, finally getting some sleep. He yawns into it like it's a distant memory and he's hesitant to visit it.

City lights gleam in the distance. It looks like stars as he floats higher and higher. Blue, red and gold blurring. His heart dwells in a place with no lights. The parts of the city that looks black from way up. A different city, no one who knew him, nothing of substance around for miles. He smiles. Yoongi feels nothing, but the silence of his absence. It is a heavy weight pressing down on him. He feels it in his shoulders like a backpack overfilled with all the unnecessary shit in his life. It drags him down. He just wants to sit down among the tourists in his life. They whiz past him. He can't find a bar fast enough. He drinks an overpriced beer and flicks through his phone. An app for everything. A phone that does his thinking and his feeling for him, everything is computerized.

He gets a text message from Namjoon.

[ come home... the kid misses you ]

It would be sweet if he wasn't so nauseated.

The meeting goes well.

Thirty-year-old men in suits acting like they're not in the business of porn and questions like, "You ever think about doing film?" and, "Are you really over twenty.."  

Something about their eyes is predatory.

He feels emptier getting out (there wasn't much left on the inside anyway) and his skin aches everywhere.

"Think someone should take pictures of you," One of them says after. He has a James Deen look about him, fitting considering the industry they're in.

"Bet you have a pretty dick too." Yoongi smiles up at him. His eyes are pale blue, they should be pretty, but they're not. His skin is darker than Jeongguk's--it's not honey, brown sugar melting on his tongue--it's just tan.

The motel has a creepy receptionist and the room smells overly floral like it's trying to cover up dead bodies. 

He doesn't kiss, he doesn't dig his fingers into his skin or breathe his name -- which he couldn't if he wanted to, he doesn't remember it between the beers and the spliff they had passed a little too eagerly (to kill the silence.) John or David. Some Middle America name. Yoongi strips and tells him to too, he doesn't take note of his body. He's not going to go in his camera roll. Doesn't pad his fingers over his lips or look for something in his eyes. It's just fucking. 

"Jeongguk." He moans into the sheets, coming around his cock. 

"Who's Jeongguk?" He asks too casually.

Yoongi doesn't answer. He just takes the cigarette from between his fingers and inhales deeply.

He wakes in the night with his cock hard and his high gone. His head is fucked up and not in a good way. His warm hole is gone, left for another late night booty call, he just has his hand. Jeongguk floods all his senses and it feels like drowning.

Yoongi doesn't even need the pictures on his phone. They're not like the ones on his camera, but somehow he likes them more. They're more intimate. Jeongguk is always beautiful even when he's shying away and play bites at the fingers that tell him to come closer. Yoongi runs a hand down his skin. It doesn't feel like his fingers, the touch all wrong -- he can almost feel him there, in bed beside him pressing his weight against his body. His lashes are thick and his lips part to kiss the ghost of his need. Yoongi wraps his hand around his cock and strokes up. All he can see, smell, feel is Jeongguk like a phantom limb. It's still attached. He pushes his head back into the pillow and his hips off the mattress. His tongue scrapes over his teeth.

Jeongguk. Lust is tight and pained in his stomach. He bites it to keep the low whine that's building in the back of his throat from slipping out. It's not that anyone would hear him except for maybe the poor fuck sleeping in the next room.

His skin is hyper sensitive, blushing pink and throbbing with every barely there touch. Desperate and horny even though he's come once tonight he licks at his fingers to work them inside his ass. Shame hot in his face as he jerks himself off faster.

He comes, half moaning-half sobbing his name. He stutters through his orgasm and stares up at the ceiling fan and country white walls. Everything is cold and cheap and smells of melting plastic. He can feel every sound; the hum of the mini fridge, the buzz of the lamp, the rustling of the sheets. It's like bad post-rock music.

He doesn't fall back asleep.

[i think you should come home.]

Yoongi doesn't ask. He's sick of L.A. anyway.

The scene in front of him is a "fuck you" if he's ever seen one. His apartment is in shambles. Books, glass, everything is on the floor. Gravity's a bitch like that. The mattress and couch cushions overturned -- anything he had of worth, which wasn't much, gone.

"What are you doing?" Yoongi asks Namjoon who not only looks, but is more upset than he is.

"Calling the police," Namjoon says like it's the most obvious thing ever. 

"Don't." Yoongi has to cancel out of the call for him.

"Yoongi your place is," Fucked.

"I've been meaning to redecorate anyway." Yoongi sets his laptop bag down, thankful he took his laptop and camera with him, and doubles up his jacket. It's raining and that's the least of his problems.

"Where are you going? You just got back..."

Yoongi can't explain it to Namjoon, that it's his fault. That the kid could be dead or worse, and Yoongi had left him alone.

He knows the streets. He used to own them. Half the kids were scared of him, the other half ran with him. His music played in their ears, his name danced on their tongues. Pink lights play over his pale, goose pimple skin that aches for skin on skin or a needle -- there's enough of both. Boys with long hair and lip stain kisses. Boys with pretty smiles and deader eyes. Boys that look like him, gold skin, dark hair and shit talking mouths. They smile at him like they're on display. He feels his throat tighten. I'm not a whore. He had said, but Yoongi sees him in the eyes of every kid there. Yoongi can't get away fast enough. He twists down another alley. Rainwater squishing in his sneakers. He remembers being one of them. Standing in the streets, rapping, trying to get anyone to notice him. Raw voices drone into his head. He feels pity now, but back then it had been his addiction.  

He doesn't know how much time has passed only that he's soaked to the bone and can't feel his toes. He goes back to his apartment, his landfill. He's the only thing that's not buried.

Fuck. He exhales. He doesn't begin to clean up, he just kicks at his refrigerator like he's a five year old having a tantrum. Pain stabbing at his toes before he can sink down onto the floor and bury his face in his knees. He hasn't slept in 24 hours.

"Yoongi," He thinks maybe he's dreaming his voice. The persistent knocking jars him awake.

Yoongi unlocks his door and opens it halfway. They don't say anything, tongues sticking and eyes drinking each other in. He has no words other than -- 'I missed you' and 'thank god you're okay,' but everything is at the bottom of his stomach.  

"I don't have anywhere else to go."

Big surprise.

"You should have thought about that before trashing my apartment." Yoongi wants to be angry, but he's more angry with himself and the sick worry he's felt for the past few hours makes him sound like a nagging parent.

"Sorry." Jeongguk offers. Sorry doesn't begin to cover it.

"I'm sorry... I had to, he was going to come after me. Still might you don't really have much in the way of valuables. " Yoongi marvels... this kid still getting his digs in.

"Who was going to come after you?"

"A guy I owe money to, I stole something of his. Drugs." Fear is bursting in everything he says.

"I'm sorry," Jeongguk breathes. "I wanted to tell you."

"So you're not a whore, you're a junkie. Big improvement."

"I don't use." Much. "I was going to sell them."

Sitting with him on the floor of his wrecked apartment Jeongguk feels like this is home or at least the closest he'll get to it.

"Why do you look as bad as I do?" Jeongguk almost laughs. Yoongi doesn't pull off drowned rat chic.

"I was out looking for you,"

Jeongguk doesn't ask why. He knows why, because he loves him or feels guilty or whatever else Yoongi feels in his own fucked up way. Yoongi doesn't melt into his touch even though he's ached for it because it's different now.

"Did it make it easier when you were paying me? To fuck me, to love me because you thought when you stopped I would go, that it wasn't real. I was just your little fantasy."

"I'm still your whore." Jeongguk straddles his lap. His presses his tongue to his lips, licking at his taste. He grinds down on his hips.

"Stop." Yoongi pushes him away.

On the plane all he thought about was touching him, kissing him, fucking him, but now he's here and all he can do shove him onto the floor. Jeongguk pulls his knees into his chest and wraps his arms around himself. Fucking him he hadn't looked fifteen, but now he really did look like a kid. Something like guilt gnaws at him. Yoongi is too tired and sober to do guilt. 

"How was L.A.?" Jeongguk asks like they're two normal people having a normal conversation. Yoongi wonders how many times he's done that, deflected. If abuse is so every-day that it doesn't phase him.

"Good." Yoongi says. He can't say he got fucked and came thinking about him. He can't say he missed him so much it felt like asphyxiating. 

"What's it like?"

"Filthy."

Chapter Text

Jeongguk runs and runs. The city is a crime scene. Yellow and red lights blur his vision and sirens haunt him. He's a dog, running as fast as he can. Blood is laced and cracked on his skin. His fingernails, digging into his palms, pierce his skin. He doesn't realize how hard he's clenching his fists until there's blood sticking hotly to his fingers. All can he remember is how Inho had looked at him.

He wonders if he really would have killed him. That look. His eyes burn like the black sun and lips, dry and bone white, arch into a smile. His smile as much a ghost as he is. 

Maybe. In the moment. Jeongguk wishes he had.

He keeps running. It's like a drug that's keeping him alive. The first and the last. His sides burn like alcohol making it hard to swallow, but he always does. Jeongguk can hear his rib cage echo with how fast his heart is beating. His heart is a jack rabbit in his stomach bounding on springy legs into his throat. Jeongguk wants to puke it up onto the filthy streets he's running. It never did him any favors. The drugs in his worn backpack - denim tearing, one strap broken, and the zipper sticks (like everything else in his life it's a piece of shit) -- whisper to him. Chatter chatter in his brain. It's never been quiet in there, but now it's screaming. They want to tempt him into some dark alley or abandoned building and make shoot up because that'd be so much easier. He's not an addict or at least that's what he likes to tell himself.

Jeongguk hadn't been thinking when he had grabbed the drugs, shoved them into his bags, and ran. He hadn't been thinking when he had shot Inho in the knee. If he had he would have shoot him in the head, but Jeongguk isn't a killer. He would have kept the gun instead of throwing it in the river, but he doesn't think. He just runs. It's what he's good at. It's what he's been doing for as long as he can remember. Scraped knees and city soot not washing off his skin. He's fifteen, but he's not a kid. He hasn't been a kid since he had a hand raised to him and learned no one was going to save him.

The money doesn't get him far. No one in the city wants to buy from him. They know better. They know who the drugs belong to and dealing from Jeongguk will get them dead or worse. Jeongguk should have taken the train and gone somewhere else (anywhere else.) He should have run further. His life is should haves, but he's a creature of many habits. Nobody ever really smiles here, but he loves the the way the sun fractures on the water banks. The city is made of glass and steel. Its filth clings to his skin and he can't get clean.  

Hands reach out grab him so fast his world tilts. They shove him against a wall. There's a tremor. The glass sounding its complaints. It's an old building and it whines like one, but his body just leans into their touch. He's good at taking a punch, but they've been told not to hurt him (just to restrain him.)

He knew he wouldn't get far. Not with a bag full of drugs. Not in this city. 

There is no home for him or safe place. People like him only live so long. If it can even be called living. It's a turn up the music and bury your head world. Inho had been his four walls for awhile. Jeongguk comes back to him when the sun came up and the drugs wore off every time. His arms some kind of fucked up heaven (even when they were wrapping around him too tightly.) He lays his guard down to sleep. It isn't hell he lives in. It's just monotonous. Mind numbing boredom so that the sadness and the hurt seem desirable. 

--the spark of a lighter--

And the waft of smoke. He knows it's Inho before he sees him. 

"Are you going to kill me?"

"You should-" Jeongguk says before Inho can say anything. 

There's the glint of a smile in his eyes. 

"You were my family and you betrayed me... Jeonggukie, I raised you." His voice almost mocking. Inho doesn't do "hurt." In all the years Jeongguk's known Inho he's never seen him break. Inho's small-framed, fragile looking almost, but he isn't glass. Nothing breaks him. 

"Death's too good for you," He takes a drag from his cigarette.  

"I wanted out." It's not an apology. Jeongguk's not going to apologize. It wouldn't do him any good anyway. 

"You should have shot me in the head Jeonggukie because you're never getting away from me." He leans in, smoke making Jeongguk's eyes tear up, "You think you're better than us, you're too good for us, but you'll always be like us... like me. A street rat, a nobody. No one will give two shits if you die."

Jeongguk knows everything's a negotiation. Inho would have killed him already if he didn't want something. 

Dark eyelashes, darker eyes, "...What do you want from me?"

He smiles.  

 

"You were screaming in your sleep-" Yoongi is still holding him. It hasn't even been that long since the last time he touched him, but Jeongguk aches with longing. Somehow even a taste licks at his skin like a flame and he carves. His body curving up into his touch, his skin adhering to his.  

"I do that sometimes." Jeongguk thinks about breathing Yoongi's fragrance deep inside him, but it's too early to be high. 

"You okay?" It's a stupid question. One Yoongi personally hates, but he asks it anyway.

"Yeah.. is there coffee?" It's Yoongi there's always coffee, but on a morning full dumb questions it doesn't hurt to ask.  

"It'll stunt your growth." Yoongi smiles.

"I'm taller than you already."

"Brat." 

Jeongguk smiles too. 

It's weird how normal it is with Yoongi sometimes like he's known him for a lot longer than he has. They drink coffee in silence and Jeongguk helps Yoongi make breakfast. It's a clean out of Yoongi's fridge -- the food Jin brings over so he doesn't starve. Leftovers and takeaway. Jeongguk doesn't really want breakfast at 10am, but they make it together (mostly Jeongguk makes it because after twenty-three years Yoongi hasn't learned how to take care of himself) and Yoongi smiles. It makes him hungry, even if it's not for food. 

 

"Don't get drunk tonight."

Okay. It's silent, but Jeongguk hears it. 

Yoongi looks at him with sawdust in his mouth and nothing but his reflection in his eyes and Jeongguk has never loved anyone more.  

 

Jeongguk doesn't know how to answer when Yoongi asks, "Are you happy?"

Happiness isn't smiling and laughing. It's something no one can see. It's Jeongguk waking up before Yoongi and listening to his heartbeat. It's the quiet morning (the sky, rust, burns to gold.) It's when he's too drunk or tired to remember what Yoongi does to him, what they do to each other. Happiness is when he's too fucked up to care. 

The cold cuts through his leather jacket and bites at his hands like a memory that hasn't grown softer with time. It sharpens its edges. 

"I'm happy like this." Jeongguk says. It's simpler than all the shit that's going through his head. He slips his fingers through Yoongi's and brings his hand to his lips to kiss his knuckles. Jeongguk can feel Yoongi smile. Slowly, brokenly, like he's trying to remember how.  

Yoongi looks at him like he's going to say something. (I  don't deserve you.)  But he just holds tighter onto Jeongguk. His fingers laced around his like string.    

"I'm happy with you." Jeongguk smiles, "Happier when we're somewhere warm."

Yoongi laughs and Jeongguk swears it's the most beautiful sound he's ever heard.   

They smoke weed on the balcony at a party they lost interest in hours ago. Rich old assholes checking out his ass all night and over-priced alcohol. It's the opening of Jin's art gallery and Yoongi couldn't say no. Smoke dances beside the white vapors of their breath. Yoongi has his arm around Jeongguk and it's warm, almost. The city is too polluted to see the stars. The only stars Jeongguk knows are in Yoongi's eyes when he's kissing him. They breathe same poisoned air.  

"Your friends are really drunk." Jeongguk laughs when Hoseok and Taehyung tug on their sleeves and try to get them to come back inside. There is an innocence and a beauty in them. It's not youth. Youth fades, it's innocence and everyone wanted a taste. Yoongi forgets that Jeongguk's younger than all of them because his voice is so calloused and broken. "I love your friends." 

"Yeah... think they're a little in love with you too." He doesn't know what to do with his hands when they're not touching Jeongguk. "But they can't have you because you're mine."

"Yoongi," Jeongguk looks down. They say not to look down. Up here everything looks so small and insignificant like ants and his feels his stomach tighten with all the ineffable things he needs alcohol and drugs to even think. "I think you're a little drunk yourself." 

"Haven't had a drop all night like you asked," Sober Yoongi. It's not something he knows, but he likes it. He could get used to it and that's the scariest thing because Jeongguk knows not to get comfortable. He's constantly running. 

Jeongguk hasn't properly touched him because Yoongi's fire and if he touches him he's set aflame, but fuck he wants to kiss Yoongi-- his hands grip his face, lips and tongue licking like a flame into his mouth he presses him into the railing of the balcony. Sixteen stories up and it isn't as high as Yoongi makes him feel.  

The words come softly against his lips, "Can we go home?"

'Home.' Jeongguk never thought he would say the word and mean it. Home isn't his apartment. It's Yoongi. The way he looks at him. His eyes reach right beneath his skin and touch his organs. His lungs, his heart.  

The rings of Saturn on his fingers burn into his skin and he tastes the ghost of every angry kiss on his lips. 

 

"I missed you." Yoongi keeps saying. It's the truest thing he's ever said. I missed you (so much.) The words don't begin to compare to the grief and guilt cutting him up and the emptiness that seeped like honey into every crack. He's smaller than Jeongguk, but he holds him so completely. His arms wrap around him and swallow him up. It makes Jeongguk feel safe. His fingertips brush over his skin and cradle his face. It's the softest he's ever been with him.

"Be rough with me." Jeongguk kisses him again, "Make me feel.. I can't feel anything unless you're hurting me." 

"You deserve better."

Maybe.

He doesn't. But Yoongi makes him think maybe for the first time in his life. Maybe he doesn't deserve being hurt.  

Jeongguk is the ash falling off his cigarette and onto his bed sheets, the smoke he breathes in with a smile.  

Yoongi finds god in the way he smiles. Slowly the light chases away the shadow in his eyes. Shyly like a boy who's done wrong and wants to be caught, but there is nothing shy about the way he straddles his hips and rides him until they are both spent and sweat is clinging to the small of their backs, limbs entangled, no line between where Yoongi ends and Jeongguk begins. There is nothing shy about the way he kisses. Filthy, tongue sliding against his. Bruising, he sucks and bites. Yoongi tastes blood in his mouth. Too sweet to be his own.     

Neither of them are religious, but Jeongguk sinks to his knees and takes him into his mouth like he's taking commission and Yoongi worships his body. Hands in his hair, eyes shut he recounts every inch of him like it's imprinted under his skin. The memory of him flows like the blood in his veins. It's the only thing keeping him alive.   

Yoongi loves his thighs. The way they look in jeans, the way they straddle his lap, the way they bruise under his hands. He loves his thighs. When he's spreading them, when they're trembling and wet with sweat and cum, when he sits back on the balls of his feet and looks at Yoongi. Yoongi's never seen anyone look so smug and satisfied with a mouth full of cum.  

'When.' It's his favourite word with Jeongguk because it's never ending. Jeongguk is a line of poetry tattooed on his skin.  

The kitchen tiles cut into his knees. Patterning themselves in his skin.  

Jeongguk trails his fingers over his skin. His thumb brushing semi-circles over his thighs and hips. He licks up and down his length. His fingertips kiss his pale thighs. The light touch of his fingers always a precursor to everything he wants to do to Yoongi. His eyes rake over Yoongi like morning light. Gold dancing up his body. He watches Yoongi through his eyelashes. Watches his head tilt back and his lips part. Jeongguk doesn't need drugs or alcohol with Yoongi. He just needs him.   

He wraps his lips around his cock. Jeongguk grips his ass and pulls him into every thrust of his mouth. He hits the back of his throat, but it only drives him further. Yoongi's fingers curl in his hair. He has a habit of pulling too hard. Jeongguk smirks when he does. Yoongi tugs at his hair and face fucks him. His breath comes faster and raspier until he's coming down his throat. Jeongguk licks at the cum at the corner of his mouth and smiles. Jeongguk kisses up his stomach, his bony chest, and throat to catch his lips. The kiss they share is the kind only lovers know.   

"Take care of me," He means every sense of the word.  

Yoongi nods, "It's all I want to do."

"I want you," 

"So much," Jeongguk finishes for him.

Already breathless and needy.

Yoongi bites at his neck. His tongue licks over the angry, swollen skin. His cock is hard and leaking through his boxers, but even when Jeongguk is on top Yoongi is still in control. He marks him, he owns him.  

"Fuck me." 

Yoongi smirks, "Not yet." 

Suck. His eyes say. Jeongguk parts his lips and lets Yoongi push his fingers into his mouth. They run over his tongue, his teeth, the roof of his mouth. The way he looks at him. Like he wants to pull him out from the inside. Like he wants to kill him. Jeongguk would have let him. 

His fingers pump inside of him

Jeongguk makes the best sounds. Lithe like his body, voice a sea that trembles and breaks inside his mouth. He moans and begs and sings his name in the softest voice. It's beautiful really.  

"Can you come from this? Without needing my cock like the cock-thirsty slut you are." 

Jeongguk smiles because he loves when Yoongi talks to him like he's less than nothing. 

"I can come from thinking about you." His eyes draw Yoongi in. He's magnetic and he sticks to him. He's fire whiskey and he chokes on him. Jeongguk kisses him harder, lips pressed against his flushed skin. His tongue trails his jawline to suck in his earlobe. He licks and sucks at his piercings. Fingers still inside of him. 

Closer. His stomach presses against his. Just spit and his fingers and it feels like he's breaking.

"Do you want me inside of you? Do you want me to fuck you?"

His palm ghosts over his cock.

Jeongguk wants to say no, but all he can say is yes.

His thighs tremble and lust is clenching like a fist in his stomach. Jeongguk grinds down into the heat and fullness of his fingers. He white-knuckle grips the kitchen counter as Yoongi fingers him. It's never been anything more than sex with Yoongi, but somewhere that has scarred his body and made his fingers know every shape and length of the white, dead tissue that marks him.   

"Yes," Jeongguk practically sobs. He's a wreck and Yoongi hasn't even fucked him yet. 

The feeling of his lips underneath his fingertips. Trailing kisses down the curve of his neck and the dip of his collarbone. All the poets died long ago, but if there was ever ink in his soul he would have written sonnets about how his lips are the perfect shade of pink and eyes are the ocean at sunrise. Yoongi loves booze, he loves cigarettes, he loves Jeongguk -- they are poison killing him slowly. He is committing a slow suicide and he loves it with every smoke-filled kiss. He never wants to stop kissing him.

"I love you." Yoongi mouths. Jeongguk smiles into his kiss. His lips brushing against his, a ghost that has found its lover. He draws out a moan from Yoongi. There are never any closed eyes with them or hidden moans. They watch each other (hungry, depraved.)

Lips and tongue and teeth. His fingers tangle his hair. His hands brush up under his clothes and between his thighs. Cold and rough. It's all Jeongguk ever wants to feel. Used.

Yoongi writes love songs on the canvas of his skin. He uses his teeth and his fingernails to paint him red. His skin rises, irritated, against the flat of his tongue. His fingers grip and pull at his skin. They're never close enough. Inches separates them. Skin and bone marrow and blood. He wants to turn him inside out. His fingertips leave bruises Jeongguk will find tomorrow in the shower. He runs his fingers over them. They don't hurt, not when Yoongi makes them and not when Jeongguk pushes down on them. They never fade before he wants more, before he asks him to slap and choke and fuck him so hard it bruises his thighs. The milky way is painted on his skin. Purple and green bruises, blue and red hickeys, red down his back from his nails. 

"Fuck me." Jeongguk 

"What that fuck do you think I'm doing," 

"More." Jeongguk thrusts up into him, "Fuck me harder."   

"It'll hurt you." His thumb presses hard into the slit of his cock. The pads of his fingers calloused and harsh as he smears pre-cum down his cock and jerks him off.

"I want it to." Hurt me.  

"Fill all my holes." Jeongguk doesn't care what he's filling him with. Hate, resentment, guilt. He's hurting him. His fingers gripping him tight, fingernails leaving crescent marks, like he needs to feel something too. Jeongguk thrusts up into him and watches as he comes undone. So close to coming from the way Jeongguk jerks his hips. Jeongguk's empty and Yoongi's empty too, staring up at the kitchen ceiling and feeling nothing as Yoongi fucks him, and maybe just maybe that's what love is. Yoongi fills him with his cock and his cum. Jeongguk can't see straight and his mouth falls open to moan his name. 

Hand around his neck and the edge of the counter he comes in the space between their bodies. 

Jeongguk looks good like this. Hair fucked up, skin glistening with sweat, eyes lit. High off him. Beautiful (always beautiful.) Yoongi presses paper thin kisses to the hollows of his hips. He kisses him slowly like he's feeling his skin for the first time. He tastes him. The cologne he masks himself in doesn't cover up the cigarette smoke, sex or alcohol and the old leather jacket Yoongi always wears. Photographs last. Memories get eaten away at but his camera can't even do him justice. His eyes take him in like a slow breath.

They lay there. Yoongi on top of him he breathes and draws lazy shapes in his skin. He's dizzy like he's drunk too much.

That's the thing with Yoongi. He loves him. Love's the worst drug of all because it makes him think. He thinks it can change, he thinks he'll react differently, but it's always the same. He likes it when Yoongi's too tired to move and lets him hold him. Sweat and cum between his thighs and the granite of the kitchen counter is sticking to his sweat skin he needs a shower like Yoongi needs a rehab clinic, but he stays there, arms locking around his body, because addicts need their addiction. Yoongi's a burned out building, nothing can last with him, but when they're lying there in silence Jeongguk can forget they're too fucked up people. 

 

 

Inho finds him again. 

"What are you going to do? Kill me. You've done the worst already." He exhales, so softly, so comfortably because death's the only thing that doesn't scare him. Inho's too small for the winter jacket that hangs off of him and his ripped jeans. Dark hair, darker eyes, milk skin, waif-like in that he's similar to Yoongi, but Yoongi still knows how to smile.  

"I didn't do that. That's all on you, Jeonggukie. You liked it. You liked the attention. You liked the nice clothes. You liked being fucked like a whore." 

Jeongguk swallows. He isn't wrong and by his smile he knows it. 

It feels almost like Yoongi (like anyone who's ever hit him) when Inho pushes him up against the wall. He loves Yoongi's hands the most because Yoongi knows his body like a language. Like a poem. Like braille.

Jeongguk sighs into his touch, even though it's rough, it's like a kiss to him. Inho lets go in disgust and Jeongguk laughs. He's learned a lot from them. Inho and Yoongi. 

"What are you going to do to me that hasn't already been done." Jeongguk runs a hand through his hair.

"I'm going to help you." 

He presses a gun into his hands. 

Chapter Text

Jeongguk doesn't need a gun to kill him. He's thought about it before (holding a pillow over his face and smothering him, wrapping his hands around his throat and squeezing so tight it leaves him still in his arms, douse his apartment in alcohol and light a match.) They're playing with fire every time. It's more than pretty bruises and crescent-shaped marks. He's bursting blue, but he wants to be red. He scratches down his back and grips his hips, but leaves his face unmarked.

Jeongguk's spent his life being called perfect. The word cracking like a scab. His body is perfect, if not a little lanky. His skin, not pale, not tan, but sun-kissed. He has no scars, not that can be seen, and his eyes are honey and molten gold.

Guns are dangerous and make people do stupid things, but just knowing it's in his tattered bag makes him feel safe. He sits on the bathroom floor with his legs folded under him for hours. His legs have gone numb, the tiles printed on his skin, but he can't feel the cold. He can't feel anything, but his insides (gnarled, hanging out of him.) He can't stuff them back in and shove them down and breathe. Jeongguk keeps trailing his fingers over the gun. It's a small piece. Pretty, almost, like smoke and glass. He gets to his feet and meets his reflection. There are dark bags under his eyes, he doesn't remember when he last slept, and his lips are red from biting them. He can taste blood on his tongue. The rusted metal taste becoming less sharp. It's not something he wanted to get used to, but the habit's been with him since he was small and his oversized hand-me-downs were falling off his shoulders.

Jeongguk holds the gun to his temple. The thought of pulling the trigger doesn't upset him. Dying is something he's never been scared of. It's a part of him (like Inho, like Yoongi, like everyone who's hurt him, like anyone he's ever loved.) It lives under the surface of his skin and breathes in his blood. The muzzle kisses every inch of his face. Its caress is familiar. Not like Yoongi's. Jeongguk would recognize him blindfolded. He's the first note of a song, a line of poetry he's read so many times it's under his fingertips. But like his own. Cold, unnerving, violent.

He sits on the edge of the bed.

The gun tucked away in his backpack and his legs regaining feeling.

Jeongguk can feel his eyes on him; he can feel every shift in Yoongi, the drying of tears on his cheeks, the hunger in his tongue for the taste of the fire-whiskey of his kiss, the way he looks at him like he's prey, but Jeongguk's a wolf too. Through sleep-filled vision Yoongi sees Jeongguk sitting there. He's alone in the bed even though they're feet away from each other. There's an ocean between them and the salt stings at all his wounds.

"Come back to sleep." Yoongi mumbles.

His fingers reach out and touch his skin like a razor blade, the bumps of his spine, the dimples of his back, the freckle he's kissed a hundred times. Jeongguk is perfect and it's not just his body. It's the way his body fits with his, the lilt of his voice when he says, "Please."

Jeongguk settles back in the bed and lets Yoongi throw an arm over him.

'Mine.' His body cries out.

He thinks it's funny how Yoongi exchanges one habit for another. Alcohol, smoking, him. Next to Yoongi he feels like he's buried beneath the earth and his rotten body is swarming with worms. Grass stains on his jeans, sun in his hair, and smoke burning his lungs. He's cold even under blankets, the hottest shower, his arms. He's lived too fast, too hard for his fifteen- almost sixteen- years. His fingers too close to the flames.

"I love you."

Jeongguk breaths in the warmth of his words. Yoongi could say it a thousand times and he wouldn't tire of it. He could say it a thousand more and it wouldn't be enough.

"You're shaking," He pulls at his skin, trying to crawl in, "Take off your clothes."

"I don't want to," Jeongguk runs his fingers through his hair and trails his thumb over his brow-bone (it's frightening that Yoongi is still beautiful at four in the morning when the streets are dead and there are ghosts haunting their sheets), "Can we just sleep."

Yoongi sleeps longer than Jeongguk. He always does. Jeongguk flips through the phone Yoongi got him. He has fuck all to do on it because he has no friends and social media is a bukkake party. Most of the time he just watches Yoongi sleep, even if that's borderline creepy. Yoongi is a deep sleeper. A lightning storm couldn't wake him. Jeongguk trails his fingers over his skin. Milky, snow, powered sugar white (a deep breathe could blow him away.) Yoongi bruises easily, heals slowly. Goose-pimples and veins. His skin is a map of everywhere Jeongguk has kissed him. His fingertips run up his body like he's coal and Yoongi's a canvas. His rib cage breathing in and shrinking, he has butterflies and birds trapped in there. They sing and flutter and make him sick, but not as sick as the second heart he has beating in his chest. His stomach is hollow, skin stretched too tight over bone, and makes hungry, animal growls, but Yoongi never feeds it. He just drenches himself in alcohol. Jeongguk worries. He doesn't mean to, but he does. He worries even when Yoongi has his heart swallowed. Jeongguk wishes he were food so Yoongi would have some substance in him other than liquid.

They lie in bed doing nothing. They fuck and smoke and watch bad TV and eat and sleep, mostly sleep. Yoongi is too fucked up most of the time to do anything. Jeongguk doesn't know how he keeps the place, but he does and it becomes some sort of home for Jeongguk. He's never had a home. He's always been an orphanage, foster-to-foster parents, living on the street kind of kid. He's older now. Sixteen. He feels the age in his bones.

His hands are more mature and his eyes are hesitant to smile. He finds scars and bruises he doesn't remember Yoongi making, he finds himself smiling close-mouthed, and talking softer, but Yoongi still kisses him and moans, "Perfect."

There's that word again. Yoongi doesn't need a camera to capture his beauty and Jeongguk doesn't need to pose. He's raw and naked under his gaze in the morning.

Sometimes it's so good with Yoongi. Jeongguk doesn't know if it's because he's grown used to waking up to his face every day or because he loves him more, but Yoongi's gotten more beautiful. He doesn't know if there's a "deeper in love" with Yoongi because he's already drowning.

That's what love is. It's feeling so much he wants to die and then feeling nothing at all like snow on the ground that melts in the morning.

Sometimes that's all Jeongguk remembers with Yoongi. The waking up and the going to sleep, whether he woke up with a headache or wanting to die, whether or not he went to sleep tired, fucked out (fucked up), drunk, high... sober. Jeongguk doesn't remember the last time he went to bed sober. He needs something more than Yoongi's arms around him to get through the night. He needs something to sleep and not dream the same dreams that make him sit up in bed and want to dig his fingers into his eyes.

Yoongi's always good at giving him that something.

It's like he knows. It's like they're the same.

Jeongguk can't explain it. When Yoongi's inside of him he feels like he can breathe, even when his hands are tightening around his throat, especially when he's choking him and leaving indents in his skin. It's a noose and the knot gets tighter and tighter.

"Do you love me?" Yoongi persists. It's not the first time he's asked that night and it won't be the last. Yoongi kisses him like his life depends on it. He's spinning off gravity, crashing into him, his hands tearing into him. He presses drunken kisses to his temples, his eyelids, his lips, his neck. He sucks red, angry kisses into his flesh. Jeongguk wishes he would eat him already. He's taken so much of him.

Yoongi asks again, "Do you love me?" 

He sounds more and more desperate every time. He's not asking, he's begging. 

His voice is a cathedral Jeongguk prays in. Down on his knees with hands clutched. He tilts his head up to look at him- a masterpiece like the Sistine Chapel ceiling, his stained glass windows, and honeyed hymns- Jeongguk can only breathe him in and hope he doesn't choke. He's the only religion he's ever known.

"Yes," Jeongguk breathes.

They're naked in bed and not just in the sense that their clothes are all over the floor. Tomorrow Yoongi will put on his underwear mistaking it for his own and Jeongguk will wear Yoongi's too-small sweater to feel close to him. They dress themselves in layers of clothes like armor and put on accessories that tell their personality, but beneath each other's eyes they're naked as they came. 

 

"I love you." They used to say it almost constantly, but now it feels desperate and hollow. Said out of fear of the silence. Jeongguk cries when he leaves him alone in the apartment when Yoongi is away on "business." He pulls the blankets around himself and sleeps the day away. He draws in his name like a soft inhale, "Yoongi-ah."

He checks his phone a half dozen times, but Yoongi doesn't belong to him. He belongs to the city, to black and white photographs, to an empty glass echoing only his reflection.  

Jeongguk is seventeen now. Almost too old to make homes out of people, but he buries himself in Yoongi- his clothes, his smell, his voice- and prays to never be unearthed.

 

"Do you feel safe with me?"

By your side is the only place I feel safe. Jeongguk thinks about saying, but it's too early for heavy so Jeongguk just says, "Yes."

Yoongi knows. He always does. It's like some unpayable debt Jeongguk owes him for being able to detect any slight change in his voice or behavior. He reads him naked and raw like he's known him for years.

Jeongguk tightens his grip on his hand when they go out. He always feels scared -- of Inho finding him, of what people think, of himself. Everything's easier when it's just Yoongi and his apartment. Jeongguk can feel himself becoming a hermit. It's so easy with the world at his fingertips and every song distracting him from bad thoughts.

Yoongi squeezes his hand. It's like lacework. Their fingers fitting together perfectly. His fingernails indenting in his knuckles.

He leans in and whispers, "No one's going to hurt you I won't let them."

Jeongguk wishes that were true.

 

There's no safe or stable with Yoongi. He's like a drug. Jeongguk never knows if he's going to leave him dead in some alley or strung-out in the hallway, slumped against a wall with his spine curved and his vision going in and out. His eyelids sticky and resistant to the light. Everything's so much better with his eyes closed. He can't see the pitying looks, he can't hear every half-word of concern, he can only feel his blood crying out for the next hit. His skin is hot and cold at the same time.

Namjoon looks at him like he's something to be pitied (like a dog with cancer crawling off to die.) It's that look that tears at Jeongguk.

Sometimes Jeongguk thinks that's all he is... Something for Yoongi to fuck until he gets bored. Jeongguk can't say he deserves "better." Yoongi should treat him as his toy. He should grab him and abuse him when he feels like it. Jeongguk knows there's nothing better or different for him. He always seeks out the abuse, but there are seconds, maybe fragments of seconds, when Yoongi looks at him and Jeongguk can feel the intensity of his love. And so Jeongguk stays. Happily.

Whatever childhood is left in him dies with Yoongi.

 

It's almost melodious how softly Yoongi asks, "Do you feel safe with me?"

They walk in the open streets that stare him down and he holds onto Yoongi's hand like it's life itself. 

Jeongguk's never really been afraid of Yoongi or Inho or anyone. He's more afraid of himself, of what he might do, but he's just too much of a coward to do anything. It's so much easier to do nothing. He let his life slip through his fingers like the grains of sand on Gwangalli Beach. The sea always called to him, but he drew further away from it.  

The city has no colour. It's as grey and monotonous as the sky he's grown tired looking up at every day. Sometimes he sees flakes of blue and yellow peaking through, but it's rare -- more dependent on his disposition than the weather in Seoul.  

Yoongi holds his hand tight like he's a child, scared he'll wonder into traffic or that he'll fall. He's there to catch him if he falls, but Jeongguk's always falling into Yoongi. He's never had a problem off-balance. His center has always been his hands around his throat. Tight, tight. He draws him like a bow to his chest. An arrow quivering, he's a weapon and an instrument, but he can be broken in two. They need each other to be violent.  

Jeongguk is used to being grabbed or squeezed too tightly like a rag doll, but it still sets off sirens in his head when he feels two heavy hands on his shoulders. They press him against a shop window. This isn't a club or a bathroom stall. Jeongguk's used to being treated like property when it's sex, but he's just walking. He's another nameless, faceless passerby on a shit street of Seoul that smells too much like fish.   

"Woah what the fuck dude get your hands off my boyfriend." Yoongi says. 

Boyfriend. Jeongguk half-smiles because it's the first time Yoongi's used that word. It's the wrong time and the wrong place for sentimentality, but he smiles and it gives him a black-eye. Yoongi, is for all his bravado, not the type to ever pick or win fights. He's a bullshitter -- not a lover, not a fighter. A bullshitter. He can play poker with the best of em' and it's really a sight to see, but Yoongi in a boxing ring is a sure way to lose money. 

Jeongguk however knows how to fight, every time he got into a squabble with a bigger kid Inho would say, "How many times are you going to let him hurt you?"

It's a landmine of a question and Jeongguk has his body parts scattered everywhere. "As many times as I let you."

Jeongguk lets him hurt him because Inho's nice. He buys him ice cream when the sun's hot and his hands are calloused and lets him sleep in his bed when nights were cold and empty and all he does is miss the family he never had. It's the first time Jeongguk can remember being close enough to someone to hear their heartbeat. Inho knew what he was doing to him. He was forming a bond, an artificial womb and Jeongguk lived in him with his insides knotted and tangled (tight around his heart.) His fingers always squeezed twice as hard.  

Inho used to leave him to fight his own battles. Jeongguk had learned to either take a punch or to throw one.

"Are you okay?" Yoongi asks when they're lying in bed together and Yoongi has nursed his wounds with brandy. Jeongguk's mouth goes numb around the lips of the bottle and from how persistently Yoongi kisses him.  

Yoongi asks like the answer is the only thing that matters. He asks like his own "okayness" hinges on what Jeongguk says. Jeongguk's never been needed by anyone, but sometimes Yoongi looks at him- especially when it's late and he's had a few- and Jeongguk thinks he needs him too. He's another crutch and Jeongguk would let Yoongi break him if it meant he could smile a little brighter.   

Jeongguk's never okay, but he assures him with a soft, "Yeah."     

 

"Where'd you learn to fight?"     

Jeongguk looks at Yoongi with his mouth askew and his eyes heavy, "Does it look like I know how to fight?"

"I saw the other guy," Yoongi laughs softly.

There's more desire than fear in his eyes. It's the same look Jeongguk gives Yoongi every time he grabs him too hard or presses bruises into his skin like his body is a canvas and Yoongi is bleeding all over him. 

Jeongguk encircles Yoongi's thin wrist in his hand and guides his fingers to his lips. He brushes a kiss against his fingertips, the joints of his fingers, and his knuckles.

Jeongguk's gentle with him. He knows he can break Yoongi easily. He knows that Yoongi's already broken and holding himself together with alcohol and drugs and -- Jeongguk likes to think he helps. He helps hold Yoongi together even if he means he's the one getting hurt.  

Yoongi eases into Jeongguk's lap. His forehead tilts against his and he kisses him lazily. 

"No one's going to hurt you," It's easy to believe Yoongi when his arms are locked around him and he's burying his face in his neck. His skin hot and suffocating against his nose and mouth. Inhale, inhale. Proximity is another poison. One Jeongguk loves to breathe deep into his lungs. "I won't let them."

The familiarity of his words are a weight around his neck.

 

"I feel safe with you." The words feel funny like the flat edge of a blade. It's hungry to cut his mouth up and be coated in his blood. Jeongguk shouldn't feel safe with Yoongi, but he does or at least as close as he's going to get to 'safe.' It's like closeness. Jeongguk can feel it becoming less and less every time Yoongi kisses him or presses his weight into him or brushes his hand between his thighs. Maybe the right words are: 'I feel safer with you than alone' and 'I feel less alone with you than without.' They are no absolutes with them.  

They get coffee and breakfast sandwiches at McDonald's and shuffle through the pedestrian traffic. Business suits, dead eyes, and an attitude that could even sober up Yoongi. It's early, too early for them, but Yoongi's determined to get out of the apartment and away from editing every now and again. Jeongguk really can't blame him. He's tired of it too. The apartment gets stifling and his mind becomes white-noise. He begins to create his own fires.

His backpack is heavy and his jeans feel dry, chaffing against his legs in the summer heat. Everything passes too quickly between them. People say that's happiness. 'Time flies when you're having fun.' But Jeongguk doesn't remember time passing at all. He remembers nothing. (Close to nothing.) 

Jeongguk remembers Inho pressing the gun into his hands. He remembers it every night when he goes to sleep. It's still there. As alive and beating as any heart. He can feel its heat against his temple. It presses itself into his skin and leaves a mark, but he can't pull the trigger. It's in his bag, always, as a precaution. It's not to protect himself from Yoongi. He'd never hurt him. 'You don't hurt the people you love.' Or at least that's what he recites to himself in the bathroom mirror when his fingers itch for the gun.

It's not to hurt Yoongi. It's to remind himself that he's still alive.   

Yoongi doesn't ask a lot of questions. He doesn't ask where he came from or who he's been with or why he can't talk sometimes. It's not that he's not interested it's that he knows talking about it never helps. It's like they're strangers and not entitled to the privacy of each other's lives. It's like they've known each other long enough to know the answer won't change anything between them. They fight each other's demons the only way they know how, by inviting them to dinner and pouring a drink. They're too comfortable with the uncomfortable to stop or to ask if they're good for each other (they're not.) But that won't stop them.   

"The guy I used to run with-" His words are fragmented and he's not even drunk, "I'm scared he's going to kill me."

If I don't kill you first, 

"Can we just go somewhere? For a short-while?" 

"You want to run?" 

Jeonggku nods. He's not used to staying in one place for long or having a routine, but with Yoongi's there some sense of stability. It's more than Yoongi being an adult. It's that he cares about him in his own fucked up way. He takes care of him even though he has no reason to. Jeongguk guesses that's love. 

He looks up at Yoongi through his long eyelashes and knows the answer is 'no.' He feels his heart race miles out of his chest and wants to spring off the couch and run after it, but Yoongi presses a soothing hand to his cheek before Jeongguk can do any such thing.   

"The problem with running is that you never stop." Yoongi brushes his thumb over his dimples and bottom lip and smiles as he feels Jeongguk relax. 

"You know I'd do anything for you right?" 

Jeongguk knows what Yoongi's implying. He has the same look in his eyes he gets when he's mad drunk and pressing his fingers into Jeongguk's throat. 

"I know."  

 

"Inho," Jeongguk tells him his name. He tells Yoongi everything. 

(Minus the part about Inho giving him a gun and more or less telling him to kill Yoongi.) 

Yoongi repeats the name slowly, "Inho." 

"I don't want any secrets from you." The gun in his backpack is bad enough. He can feel its weight press into his hands and leave indentations on his skin. It's between the lines of his palms and old callouses like a shadow.  

"What do you want to do about him?" Yoongi plays with his hands, picking at the skin around his fingernails, until Jeongguk stops him. It's nerves and Jeongguk's never really seen Yoongi nervous about anything. He plays everything off coolly, but looking at him now he's different and Jeongguk doesn't know why. 

"I want him to leave me.. us alone."

Us. This was never supposed to be anything between them- Yoongi was a mark and Jeongguk was his subject- but now it was the only real thing they had in their lives.

 

"This is really where you used to live?" Yoongi asks. 

Jeongguk nods.

To Jeongguk the scaffolding and the smell of garbage isn't much worse than the ticky tacky apartment complexes and the smell of air fresheners. Shit is shit no matter how nicely it's dressed up. It's dark, not even moonlight or the city's glow to guide them, but Jeongguk seems to know where he's going. One doesn't forget their first real home. Its smell, its "feel" (splinters and coldness). It's a place between the cracks where kids fall and no one notices or gives a shit. The only way to stay "alive" was to sell yourself or drugs or to kill for a living. Getting out with all your parts intact wasn't an option any of them had. Jeongguk was one of the luckier ones.   

Yoongi mutters something that sounds like 'sorry.'

Jeongguk doesn't know know why he's sorry. Maybe out of guilt. 

 

They find him in some abandoned building that could have been a church at some point. Inho's more a creature of habit than Jeongguk is. Inho doesn't say anything. He doesn't even look surprised. He does however look disappointed. Inho pushes himself up from where he's sitting and strides toward them. He's not afraid. He's never been afraid not like Jeongguk.

"Jeongguk," Yoongi says softly. It's a whisper almost, but Jeongguk feels the weight pressing down on his shoulders.

"You never did learn to fight your own battles." Inho doesn't look at Yoongi, instead he looks right through Jeongguk. It makes his bones chatter like teeth on a cold night. The sight makes Inho smirk. Jeongguk thinks how small he must look. Even with his leather jacket, brand name jeans and expensive haircut he's no different from him.

"Shut up." Jeongguk has never heard Yoongi sound crass. It feels like sandpaper on his skin.  

"Did you come here to kill me because we both know you don't have the balls," He antagonizes.

"I said shut up," The words and his bothered tone make Inho smirk more, "Jeongguk what do you want to do with this prick?"

Jeongguk doesn't answer. He draws into himself and steps away from Yoongi.

"Looks like it's just you and me."

Inho doesn't put up a fight. He lets Yoongi hit him and again until he's on the ground. Yoongi doesn't let up.

Jeongguk can feel himself growing more distant like he's watching them from a small TV, but the sound of Yoongi saying his name hits him like an eighteen wheeler.  

Yoongi looks at Jeongguk, "Come here."

"He treats you like his bitch," Inho laughs. Yoongi kicks him again to shut him up, but he only laughs harder. Blood is pouring over his lips and teeth. Jeongguk watches the fire glinting in his eyes die a little more with every kick.

No one looks tough or bad when they're getting the shit beaten out of them. 

Jeongguk swallows heavily, but comes to stand beside Yoongi. Jeongguk almost feels bad. Inho is like a dog that has bitten him repeatedly, but his whimpers and whines and sad eyes tear Jeongguk up inside. He feels like he's the one kicking him. He feels like he's breaking his ribs and making every breath difficult, but all he's doing is watching. It's worse somehow... doing nothing.  

He can hear Inho's voice in his head, "What kind of pussy can't pull the trigger?"

Jeongguk had asked himself silently in the mirror. He feels his throat tighten and his fingers itch, but there's nothing in his hands.

"Stop it Yoongi-" He pulls at his arm, "He's had enough."

Yoongi shoves him off, "I say when it's enough." 

Yoongi has never been practically violent with Jeongguk. At least nothing that Jeongguk couldn't take or hadn't asked for, but the Yoongi in front of him, kicking at Inho, is like a stranger. He should be afraid. He should be terrified, but all he feels is a sick sense of gratitude.

'Shoot this motherfucker.' Inho twists his face, covered in blood, to look up at Jeongguk. After all this time Jeongguk can still hear his voice close to his ear as if he's curled up by his side. It's not that he hates him or wants him dead- Jeongguk isn't a killer- it's that he's tired of running. He sees every memory he shared with him like home videos playing in his eyes and snaps. His foot jerks out to kick Inho in the face. His head shoots back and blood continues to pour from his nose into his mouth. Jeongguk wants him to drown on the taste. It doesn't feel like him doing it. He wonders if this is what Yoongi feels like. A stranger in his own body acting violently. He wonders if this is really who they are.  

 

Jeongguk can't stop kissing him. He laces his fingers through his hair and pulls Yoongi's thin body against his. He's small, but burning with fire. There's a rage to him that's white-hot. It keeps him alive. His knuckles are cracked with blood and swollen- Yoongi is in no hurry to bandage or ice his wounds- so Jeongguk presses his lips and his tongue to his cuts and licks him clean of blood. His lips, his nose, his eyelashes brush against his hot skin in butterfly kisses. He stops kissing his fingers and his knuckles to taste his lips again. 

He's in perfect control, leading the kiss and pushing the small of Yoongi's back into the kitchen counter top, because Yoongi's wired under his skin and knows Jeongguk doesn't do anything without his go ahead.  

 

"My overall everything, my complete self-" Jeongguk whispers, "I don't feel like a person without you."

He's so drunk he won't remember this, but Yoongi will. The words echo and break inside his mouth like some terrible wave crashing down. It's all one sea, his salt veins running from him to Yoongi. 

Yoongi runs his fingertips down his body. Jeongguk is the sculpture he molds. Yoongi's not an artist, but his hands are shaking and bloodied. Only Jeongguk can still him. His knuckles are swollen. He can still feel bone beneath his hands. The purest white he's ever seen. He leaves a trail of blood wherever he goes. It's not his and it's not Jeongguk's and he wishes it were. 

 

Yoongi doesn't ask where he got the gun from. He knows. He knows he got it from Inho. He knows a bullet's meant for him. That should scare him, but it doesn't. He's more intrigued than anything and a maybe a little cold-- 

Jeongguk trails the muzzle along his jawline. Its kiss is hard (all teeth and no tongue.) 

Yoongi hesitates by pulling away from him slightly. It's not as if he hasn't thought about doing worse to Jeongguk.

"It's not loaded." His voice is soft and sweet like honey. Words that dark shouldn't sound so good, but everything sounds good in Jeongguk's mouth.

Jeongguk leans in for a kiss (a real one and not the mouth of a gun nuzzling his throat.) Yoongi cups his face in his hands and kisses him harder than Jeongguk could ever hurt him.

Yoongi sucks on his already swollen lips and leaves crescent-shaped nail marks in his shoulder blades. He grips him and pulls him closer and Jeongguk cavesHe always does. He crawls into Yoongi's lap like he belongs there. Yoongi's smaller than him, especially after Jeongguk's recent growth spurt, but Jeongguk always finds a way to make their bodies fit perfectly together.  

Jeongguk tilts Yoongi's head back and breathes in his beauty, his warmth, the very earth of him. He's so beautiful and never takes pictures of himself. Jeongguk doesn't know how long memories last, but he hopes when his eyes are closed and his head is foggy he always remembers Yoongi how he is now- vulnerable and barefaced and not making a sound. Jeongguk kisses the bridge of his nose and pushes his hair out of his eyes. It's dry like straw and still smells like his shampoo from his morning shower.    

"Open your mouth for me." Jeongguk says almost inaudibly, but Yoongi hears him- he opens his mouth and lets Jeongguk brush his fingertips and the the gun inside his mouth- cold metal running against his tongue like a river that wants to drown him.      

Yoongi rarely obeys. He's always one to say no or ask questions or just fuck off somewhere quiet when Jeongguk's being a teenager... But with Jeongguk grinding on his lap and fucking his mouth with a gun all he can do is let is head fall back and his eyes say, 'Yes.' 

The sight of Yoongi with his lips wrapped around a gun makes his dick twitch. The thought of Yoongi obeying him engraves itself into his drunk and hazy head. Jeongguk doesn't think he could ever forget this.   

"Can I fuck you?" 

Yoongi nods almost too eagerly. 

 

"Yoongi-" Jeongguk hesitates, "That's so, you're so hot." 

Jeongguk watches Yoongi suck and lick the gun before he takes Jeongguk's hand and guides it down his sternum and sinewy-soft stomach. He tugs at the drawstring of his sweatpants to pull them down around his thighs. Yoongi gives a little nod of permission before Jeongguk follows the path his fingers and palm made. The coldness of the gun makes Yoongi suck in a breath. Jeongguk caresses his thighs and the outline of his dick with the gun. He doesn't need to feel the heat of his own skin or look down to know how hard Yoongi is.  

He knows from the need in his eyes. From how his thighs are trembling, to the little breaths he makes.

Jeongguk knows him like a language he's been studying from birth now.



"Hurts?" Jeongguk asks, tip of the gun pressed inside of him and his mouth sucking a bruise into his neck.

"No." Yoongi exhales. His eyes half-shut. He likes it when it hurts. He likes it when he leaves marks. Yoongi likes to see evidence that they were together when he can't remember. He likes standing in front of the bathroom mirror in the morning and looking at the angry hickeys Jeongguk has left him with. He likes it when he's too fucked up to push him away and he can't remember telling Jeongguk to do worse to him (as bad as he'd do to him.) They damage each other and say, "Thank you."

"Would you let me hurt you?" The answer should be obvious for all the times he has hurt him but Yoongi asks anyway. 

"Yes." Jeongguk sighs into his chest, "I'd let you do anything to me."

"Would you let me kill you?" Intent making his dark eyes glitter like gold. 

Jeongguk nods.

It feels like he's falling through the earth. 

 
Yoongi doesn't need a knife to cut him or binds to chain Jeongguk to him. He's his and his alone and he never wants to be anyone else's.     

"I don't like it when you take pictures of me." Jeongguk says when Yoongi goes for his camera. He's naked and too fucked out to really do anything to stop Yoongi who straddles him and points the camera at him. Behind the camera Jeongguk can see Yoongi smiling. It's like he comes alive when he's behind that thing.  

"But you're so beautiful baby," Yoongi hushes. 

"Don't call me that.. Justin Bieber's voice is going to be in my head-" Jeongguk laughs. It's so full of innocence Yoongi can taste it. His innocence is fragmented and disappearing, but there are moments when it's poignant against his tongue or ringing in his ears and Yoongi shutters like the camera lens that captures Jeongguk perfectly.

Underneath him he's still. His fingertips resting against Yoongi's bare thighs and his hair in his eyes (he needs a haircut again.) 

"Baby baby," He sings. 

Yoongi kisses him to shut him up. He mouths "hush" at the corner of his soft lips, but it only makes Jeongguk sing more. He has a pretty voice. Maybe in another life he could have been a singer and Yoongi could have listened to him on the radio and daydreamed about fucking his mouth. His tongue licks at the curve of his smile. Yoongi wants to remember Jeongguk smiling, really smiling (eyes lit up and teeth showing like he wants to rip the skin from his bones.) Yoongi traces every inch of him- between the alcohol, the drugs, the monotony of his days he barely remembers anything- but he wants to remember Jeongguk. 

He holds his hand tightly. The spaces between their fingers disappearing and his thumb circling over his palm. He follows his veins and lines like a fortune teller. He knows nothing of the future. 

"Baby," Yoongi pauses. 

He puts his camera aside carefully like it's the only thing that matters to him. 

"What do I have to do to get you to be good?" 

"I'm not good?" His eyes big and sad like a puppy that's been scolded. Yoongi could drown in their depths. 

"You are," Yoongi placates. It seems more like assurances to get him to be quiet than anything else. 

Jeongguk tolerates it. He hates being treated like a kid, but he knows he still is. He's almost eighteen now, but all that just seems like a number. Birthdays just seem like something happy people do. People who want to remember or need to pretend. Jeongguk's never needed that. He can remember. He can remember the days bleeding into each other and how he isn't as young or perfect as he used to be.

He presses his whole body against Yoongi's and waits for assurances and affirmations that he's still as good as when they first met. 

 

"Are you going to get tired of me?" Jeongguk asks. He's hiccuping on night insecurities and all he can do is drive himself further into Yoongi's arms.   

"No." Yoongi answers. His eyes are closed and he doesn't move, but he's as awake as Jeongguk. His eyes want to search up into the apartment ceiling for answers he'll never have.   

"Promise me-" Jeongguk asks. 

"I promise." Yoongi kisses him and it tastes like rose wine. Like the sweetest poison.

Chapter Text

"Are you bored of me?" Inho looks up almost pleadingly at Yoongi, "Are you going to get bored of me?"

Yoongi answers the same: a gentle, "No."

Inho never asks him to promise. Promises have never meant that much to Inho. It's more the tone of Yoongi's voice or the soft curve of his smile that convince him. He isn't as young or as pretty as the others, but Yoongi loves the contrast of his dark brown almost black hair and the burnt amber that fleck his eyes.

They lie in bed tracing each other's skin. Yoongi breathes in his warmth and murmurs against the shell of his ear all the things that he has told the others. It doesn't sound like lies. Not even to his own well-trained ears. Yoongi wonders if the words- "I love you", "You're beautiful" or "I promise"- have ever been true. Now when he says them they taste like watered-down whiskey on his tongue -- easier to swallow, but harder to get drunk.

The camera is tucked away. It is a record of every relationship he has ever had except it only shows the parts of a relationship people want to see. The sex and part of the intimacy. When Yoongi looks at them- everyone he has thought worth fucking and saying I love you to- he doesn't see them. He sees an opportunity, a beautiful picture, a part of himself that had died years ago, but he doesn't see them.

And then he sees Jeongguk and he is everything Yoongi has never been -- he is all the broken not-there parts of Inho. Innocent and kind and good- too good for Yoongi too good for anyone- he makes the most beautiful art.

Jeongguk. An angel sent to him. His masterpiece. 

He never looked back.

 


There’s a certain sickness to Yoongi that Jeongguk's grown accustom to. He drinks it in with the morning sun and his cup of coffee.

Jeongguk picks up the clothes from the night before- scattered around the apartment like decorations- he does the dishes and makes new ones with a breakfast neither of them have the stomach for and makes idle talk about the weather and plans for the day.

Midday Yoongi is drunk and slurring "I love you's" to fill the emptiness he feels. He's already puked up the only nutrition he's had in days. The floor is sticky and cold against his bare feet. The bathroom floor has become almost as familiar as the bedroom ceiling he looks up at every night when he can't sleep. Jeongguk rubs his back and pets his hair and keeps him company whether on the bathroom floor when all he can feel is his insides twisting or in bed- their skin doesn't even has to be touching for Yoongi to feel his presence- soundlessly. Yoongi doesn't really know what he'd do without him. He doesn't want to find out. Jeongguk doesn't know where Yoongi's addictions end and his begin. 

Yoongi's friends are Jeongguk's friends. They treat him more or less like he's always been with them. Occasionally Jeongguk finds himself wondering what it would be like to have a life outside of Yoongi's circle, but that interest quickly vanishes when he gets a snide remark about his hair or sees how people look at him when he goes to reach for Yoongi's hand.

"My little strawberry." Yoongi calls him- there is so much love in his voice it courses over Jeongguk like a wave (salt water fills his lungs and stings at all the wounds Yoongi has caused over the years) - and kisses his forehead like he can settle all his jangled nerves with the brush of his chapped lips against his skin and meretriciously enough it does. Even when Yoongi's the one hurting him he brings him back to shore.

It feels like drowning. Jeongguk has stitches in him from where Yoongi got his meat hooks into him and he forgot what it felt like to be alone. When his words aren't at his throat he still feels him like his own breath billowing out into the cold air in white puffs. The bed can be empty and cold, but Jeongguk trails the palm of his hand over the sheets imagining where Yoongi's skin rises and falls.

He doesn't know how to breathe unless Yoongi's breathing into him.

 

Jeongguk takes the world like he takes his coffee- black with two sugars- sweet but not too sweet with the taste of bitterness. It's too strong the first few sips, but he gets used to it. Jeongguk does things how Yoongi does them. He's never know anything different. The caffeine gets him through the first few hours of the day before he's looking for something else. He's become an addict himself with every emotion becoming duller. His blood beats dark and heavy to feel something other than his own mortality. Jeongguk feels naked when he's without Yoongi. When he walks down the streets he can feel everyone looking at him. It's like he doesn't have any clothes on- any skin- he's just red vines and bone. His blood is running onto the hot pavement and his guts are hanging out and everyone is staring, but not doing anything to help. He can feel their kerosene eyes looking right through him and hear them whisper among themselves like snakes.

It only makes him want to stop at every bar he crosses paths with and get shitfaced. The sick twisted-up smiles become less of a sharp pain in his side and more of something he too can laugh at. When his face is numb, his emotions a dull blade, and his words are slurred he feels like apart of the joke. Alcohol's warmer than any blanket. It's a lover who makes his body sing with the brush of his lips, it's the most comforting song he's ever heard. And Jeongguk gets it. He gets why he isn't enough. He's not Yoongi's favourite poison. Booze was there for him long before he was.

When everything is wrong it tells him gently it's going to be okay.

It's not always stares or whispers sometimes guys will pay for his drinks or slide their hand over his thigh.

With a smile that makes his blood go cold the older man says, "Hey kid."

"I'm not a kid I'm eighteen-" Jeongguk announces rather proudly.

Thick framed glasses and whiskey breath smiles caustically, "You still have that baby face."

There's something about the way he looks at him- like he has already formed an opinion about him even though they've only said a few words- it makes Jeongguk need a stronger drink.

"I usually like 'em younger, but for a cutie like you I don't mind."

Jeongguk licks the last drops of alcohol off his lips and sets his glass down a little more loudly than necessary. "Sorry I'm not interested."

"You seemed to be interested in those vids?" The words or the way they drip from his lips make Jeongguk jerk back his head like he's been struck.

"What?" Is all Jeongguk can say because he really has no fucking idea what this "gentleman" is talking about.

"You know," His voice darkening as he savors his whiskey, "The ones where you're sucking dick like your life depends on it."

His hand still on his lap he gives a tight squeeze, "You got the kind of lips that give men all kind of ideas."

Jeongguk is quiet now. His lips not even opening and closing like a fish that's flapping about on the dry earth. He's so used to the sea and the salt in his veins and now life is draining out of him like the colours in his cheeks.

"You really don't know?" There's a lull of quiet that makes Jeongguk feel almost like he's alone, but then the man's chapped lips part to say, "You're famous baby."

His tone as oppressing as the smokey, dimly lit bar with its mahogany furnishes. Its dark- but not enough that he can't see every eye on him glinting up like stars- but the red light-esque glow to the room illuminates Jeongguk's skin. He's gone sickly pale. There's a cold film of sweat sticking to him. They've got their poison-dipped nails in him. And Jeongguk feels sick. Not sick like he can't hold his drink and is going to sink from his bar stool onto the hard floor, but sick -- the laundry piles up on top of the kitchen table and there is no place to eat and the dishes in the sink go unwashed and flies begin to circle and the only view he knows is the bedroom ceiling.

Jeongguk wants to dissolve like the last drops of alcohol on the bottom of his glass. The room is spinning, but Jeongguk pushes himself up. He throws down a tenner for the drink and leaves hurriedly. It's more an escape than an exit. He shoves open the door and greets the gush of wind with a pained grimace.  

Everyone sees him as something he's not. He doesn't have any clothes on in their heads- and if he does he's taking it off slowly letting the inches of fabric peel over his skin- he's bent over moaning. He's a plaything. He walks and walks like he used to. The minutes and hours tick away in his head as the city grows more quiet. In the city there are no stars: all the dreamers go to sleep to the sounds of the radio and to the warmth of memories. The city lights that used to comfort him now crowd him out. He wants the thick blackness to cover up all the things he's done. He flinches at every passerby coming close enough to him to bump his shoulder. Head down, hoodie pulled up, the dry taste of alcohol at the back of his throat. It's not enough to make him feel like a ghost he's just dead in his skin- drifting through the noise- and every memory cuts through the layers he's put up.

He's got his own key and his drawer and his own art up on the walls. Yoongi's made a space in his life for him, but Jeongguk's got holes in skin from every place Yoongi's touched. For once he's glad that Yoongi isn't home. Jeongguk needs the space and quiet to calm down. Pacing back and forth and rifling his long, cigarette fingers through his hair isn't exactly the definition of "calm." He twists open a beer and downs half a bottle. Imported, he thinks, from the taste of it. Jeongguk doesn't look where he's going anymore. He just feels everything a little less every day and even that is too much.

Jeongguk looks around and lets out a low sigh. Of course the camera is gone. Wherever Yoongi goes, it goes, but his laptop is sitting on the bedroom. His heartbeat echoes through his skull as he wakes it up. Internet search after internet search doesn't reveal anything. The internet is truly for porn. It takes him awhile to find anything, but eventually the slow sludge through password-protected and deleted files turns up something or rather a lot of things. Things he had hoped wouldn't be there. Things he didn't remember doing because he was high or drunk or blissed out from a good fuck. Jeongguk's always felt uneasy getting his picture taken, but watching himself- when he didn't know he was being filmed when Jeongguk thought it was just them when he wasn't posing when it was just for Yoongi- he feels violated. It's like a knife has been taken to his skin and peeled back layers until the nauseating white of his bones is showing. 

Jeongguk goes crazy in his own head. 

Sitting with the lights out and his eyes glued to the screen and his mouth going dry around the taste of warm beer and the need- as innate as breathing- to destroy.

'Inho. Did you know.. did you know this whole time.' 

It was never about the money. 'You wanted me to suffer like you had. You wanted him to do what did to you to me.' 

'I’m not even here, kid.' The voice in his head says. 'I’m dead."

'Remember you killed me.' He says mockingly.

The thing is Jeongguk doesn't remember. He doesn't remember most of that night except the blood on his hands and how hot his skin had felt and that Yoongi had pulled his hair when he kissed him and told him he loved him. Jeongguk had smiled and laughed against his soft lips. He said the words back habitually. Yoongi was a drug. He had shot him up his veins and forgotten how anything else felt.   

The sound of the door opening and footsteps doesn't make Jeongguk look up. It's only the sound of his voice after the third time of saying his name. 

"Jeongguk are you alright you look-" Sick. Jeongguk doesn't know how long he's sat curled up in the sheets watching videos of himself in every position, compromised, but it must have been awhile because there's an empty pit in his stomach and Yoongi's home. He's staring at him like he knows. He knows he's done something wrong. He's known for months, but now that he's been caught the floor's dropping out from under him. 

"Where do you put these? I want to know. How many people have seen this..." Jeongguk asks softly. He feels disconnected from everything: his body, the sharpness of his emotions, Yoongi. He just feels numb. 

Yoongi doesn't say anything for awhile. Jeongguk can see he's trying to think of something to say that will make everything better, but there's nothing to say so he sits down beside Jeongguk and brings up a website. Pictures and videos and audio clips. Mostly of him, but there are others too. He wonders if Inho was the main star before him and if Yoongi told him the same things. The kind of things that were supposed to matter when said in the dark. And more morbidly if Yoongi would kill him too like he always said he would. 

Jeongguk swallows heavily trying to get down the sick he feels burning in his throat. He closes the laptop when he's had enough. He wants to feel angry. He wants to feel a flicker of something other than nothingness for Yoongi who's sitting too close to him and looking at him with an expression Jeongguk can't understand. He's never seen it before on Yoongi.

"Did you think I'd never find out or did you just not care?"   

"How do you think the bills get paid? Your clothes, the food on the table, the booze you're always sucking down-" It's just like Yoongi to rationalize it.

"You made me into a whore." The word acidic on his tongue. It's different now and Yoongi's too broken to understand that. It's wrong and it's sick and it was private. It was for him. Not for the world. He didn't want to be shared. 

"You were always a whore." Yoongi says.

The words feel like razor blade cutting a vein and making his skin spring with joules and joules of his blood: a river becoming an ocean. Red was his favourite colour and he wore it like his favourite lipstick when blood coated his lips from when Yoongi kissed him too hard. The tang of blood a familiar taste to them both.  

"Where's my gun?" Yoongi doesn't answer. He's afraid (or as close to afraid as someone like Yoongi can feel.)

Panic glazes over his eyes.

"Are you going to kill me?" Yoongi asks. 

"I would never do that. I would never fucking do that because unlike you I wouldn't hurt someone I love." Jeongguk says.   

'Love.' It tastes so bitter on his tongue like grapefruit without any sugar and it sounds even worse- strangled and ugly coming out of his mouth- but Jeongguk says it anyway.

The words don't reassure Yoongi because after all to Yoongi "I love you" has always been a form of manipulation.

"You loved Inho didn’t you?"

Jeongguk smiles sadly- tears in his eyes where there used to be stars- and kisses Yoongi for what he hopes for both their sake is the last time. The kiss tastes like gunpowder and smoke. His tears run down his cheeks into his open mouth and he tastes the heat of Yoongi- the fire that once warmed him now burns- before the slamming of the door echoes and leaves Yoongi alone with all his demons.

Chapter Text

Jeongguk cries himself to sleep (or as close to sleep as he's getting tonight.) He cries until he thinks he has no more tears and then he cries some more. His tears are hot and sticky- pillow soaked and face red and itchy- it makes it even harder to sleep.

He rubs at his face angrily. Stupid. He chastises.

Sad doesn't begin to describe what he feels. He feels hollow like his insides have been carved out and his memories are faded like they happened to someone else. He hearing about them or watching like his life was playing on TV.

'Wouldn't that be something.' Jeongguk thinks, 'It'd have to be an X-rated movie.'

He's on a couch the couple who generously let him stay with them probably fucked on not hours ago. High-end pharmaceuticals go a long way with potheads. He hadn't planned on spending the day in some shit hole apartment getting high, but there were worse ways to silence his thoughts.

'It's like you never got rid of me, kid.' Inho mocks. 

At night when adrenaline's worn off and he's too tired to change out of his clothes the voices in his head are too loud to drink away.

'You're never getting out of here.' Now Jeongguk knows here is a figurative place. He can run and run, but he stays still (trapped.) He bangs against the wall with his fists like he's a child again. It's not that no one can hear him it's that they don't care. Jeongguk never really outgrew his hand-me-downs. He was only a bigger kid with prettier features and when "fuck you's" were spit-fire in his mouth and his eyes were molten gold flickering his rage people shrank back a little, their smirk dispensing and probably thought something like this: maybe I shouldn't be fucking with someone twice my size. Knowing how to fight had gotten him out of trouble more times than in it. That was the one and only thing he could thank Inho for. 

'You really think I was that bad. You have no idea how bad people can be.'

This is what going crazy is like.

The noose of his guilt becomes tighter and tighter. It's a rope around his neck that scratches and makes him gasp unlike the hands he loved- the ones that made him moan and dig his fingers into Yoongi's shoulder blades and hurt him when he asked and made his stomach knot from need. There are ghosts in his head that sneer and watch him struggle to breathe.

Thoughts- that he can't outrun or out drink- thoughts, that want to kill him, thoughts that have their own voices. Some sound like Inho, others sound like younger versions of himself while others sound like Yoongi. They swim in the midnight pool of all his fears and insecurities- gathering like sharks at the first drop of blood- and he's drowning.

The small room is lit up from a text message.

I loved before I met you and missed you before you were gone.

2:02 AM

Sentiment bites at his tongue and draws the blood into his mouth only to spit it back and Jeongguk swallows like a good boy.

With Yoongi- it just had to be a few words or a smile- and Jeongguk would feel himself fading like he was half way through a bottle. The air didn't have to thick with smoke and sex for him to feel like he was floating. His body became more an abstract thing as he sank into his touch. It was the best high being with him.

His breath against his skin, lips parting to whisper around the shell of his ear as his arms enveloped around him, "You're too good to be good for me."

The roughness of his voice swallowed him.

Only now Jeongguk understood what he meant.

He took him like a drug.

Jeongguk would like to say his phone and jacket are all he has left of Yoongi, but he has memories that don't let him sleep at night and every inch of his skin still remembers how his hands and tongue feel. He's still his. The ridges of his teeth, his fingernail marks, the taste of him down the back of his throat. Jeongguk carved out pieces of himself to fit Yoongi. 

I was never scared to die until I met you and then even the thought of leaving you was too much.

2:10AM

Stop. Yoongi.

"Just stop." He says out loud. He thinks about texting him: Leave me alone! But Jeongguk knows Yoongi. Ignoring him hurts him so much more.

Yoongi doesn't know how to let wounds heal. He picks and picks at them until he's nothing but a scabbed over mess.

Jeongguk showers two-three times trying to get clean of Yoongi. He showers until the water runs cold. There's so much blood inside of him that screams to come out and circle down the shower drain. There's something cathartic about watching your blood run down the the veins of your arms. Jeongguk doesn't have any real scars (childhood scrapes he doesn't remember.) His body is unmarred when his insides are mangled from the things people have said to him, how they've looked at him- and worse how he's twisted them around him and worn it as armor.

Perfect is such a fragile word in the right mouth. 

It's the only word he wants to hear when he's face down in bed and inhaling a mix of cologne, sweat and sex.  

When Jeongguk is fucked up Yoongi's voice washing over him is the sweetest language he knows. It's his words that pull him apart and rearrange his insides to match his own. Yoongi meant to poison him and he had succeeded. He was addicted and every memory of Yoongi fed into his bloodstream. Morning's light gently kissed the visible bones of Yoongi's back and flickered through his red-blue-green-gray tresses (his hair changed like the seasons.)1 Rainbow hair angel that kissed his eyes and held him in his eyes and made him feel like a person. That was how he wanted to remember Yoongi. That was how he wanted to remember 'them.' 

Jeongguk slides down the shower wall and rests his head in his hands when he hears his phone. He knows it's Yoongi and instinct tells him to pick it up. He used to always answer his texts or calls the second he got them. He practically waited for them. The cold water makes him shiver and pull inward- arms over knees, limbs folded in like papier-mâché. What a sad sight he must make. Like some animal that just gives up its fight and lies down to die. He's not angry. He's not even sad. He's nothing.

Later, after he's found the energy to drag himself off the shower floor and wash the soap off his skin he towels off and dresses. He checks his phone reluctantly. The unanswered voice and video messages piling up. Jeongguk doesn't open them, but he doesn't delete them either. 

Jeongguk. 

Help me come.

2:57AM 

It's just his name. Not even the sound of Yoongi saying it- drunk, alone, sad. He can't hear him or smell him or see him, but he can remember everything. Jeongguk knows how he'd look at him and touch him. They needed each other and it made every kiss, every brush of fingers over his skin, every ache that much more. It was like Yoongi breathed air into his lungs and reached into him, hand around his heart, and pumped blood through his body. 

'I miss you.' He types, his thumb hovering over send, before he presses delete. 

He feels so small and weak. 

"You're an addict." Inho chimes in.

"I know." The confession to no one- the dark room, the ghosts in his head- breaks him. He stops crying. His eyes are swollen and throbbing and tomorrow he will hide behind sunglasses. His throat is raw. He knew if he spoke his words would be shaking. His chest feels heavy. He's carrying around too many memories. He can't forget. He won't let himself forget because if he's being honest and he has a nasty habit of being honest with himself those memories are all he has. Jeongguk presses his head back into the pillow and closes his eyes. Sleep won't come, but the softness of the sheets evokes the memory of lying in Yoongi's arms. Yoongi is his first and last thought when he wakes up, bleary-eyed in the late afternoon heat when his throat is still parchment from a night of drinking and smoking, and when sleep depreciation takes over and drags him down wherever he stands.


Yoongi comes to the thought of Jeongguk’s pretty mouth taking his cock. Jeongguk would look up at him from under his thick dark curls of hair and smile. His tongue sliding against his length tasting the pre-cum that was sticking to the slit of his cock. On his knees, getting red and bruised, his eyes becoming wet Yoongi knotted his fingers in his hair and fucked his mouth deeper until he was coming. His fingers curl in the bed sheets now. They’re cold without Jeongguk sleeping besides him. He rides out his orgasm coming in his briefs and not all over Jeongguk’s face.

Jeongguk always looked proud. Not cheap, not ashamed, proud- lips curling around the head of his cock into a smile. He’d smirk and moan and let the last of him spill down his chin. 

His own hands aren't enough. They're too small, too calloused- bony and veined- but all he sees in himself is flaws. Filming himself now instead of Jeongguk he shudders and turns away. Yoongi's hands tremble and he sucks in his stomach and sticks out his collarbones. He tries to find the beauty he saw in the anatomy of all those boys that litter his memory card and finds none. He is black tar lungs and bleached hair and too much coffee. 

There’s a slipstream in his blood where Jeongguk used to touch him. They’re codependent. Breathing for each other even with hands grasping at their throats. His hands know him better than his own- the shape of his body, the lines of his hands, the hollowness of his face when sleep eluded him- like he was always a part of him. It’s something more than the phantom pain of a missing limb. Yoongi brushes his fingers over his skin and there’s an ache everywhere.

The bottle finds his mouth. It's his medicine. He's tired and doesn't remember where he's been or what he's done. The night air catches on his skin like some distant reminder of his touch. 

His cigarette is burning up. The flame getting closer and closer to his fingers. He used to listen to the city waking up, but he can't hear the city anymore. Either the city has gotten quieter or his head has gotten louder (fat money on the latter.) Yoongi never liked the silence. It was a dangerous place. His thoughts eat him alive. 

Yoongi's half asleep when he gets a text.

He has Jeongguk saved on his phone as baby. It used to make him smile, but now it makes him sad.

I want to forget you.

3:38AM

Yoongi can see Jeongguk- lying on his side with his hair messy and his lips red from biting them. He always did that when he was worried. Yoongi would place his hands on his shoulders and wait for Jeongguk to look up at him with those puppy-dog eyes of his and he'd kiss him hard. Yoongi wanted to possess him. Every mark on Jeongguk had to be from him.

Want to. It's funny, but it seems that's how all his sentences begin. Want to stop drinking. Want to be better. Want to...

He runs through empty after empty thought trying to come up with something other than all his wants. He's going out of his skull with what he wants, but all he needs is Jeongguk.

That's the last thing you want. 

Yoongi texts back.

Every message reeks of desperation.

He doesn't fall back asleep. He waits for Jeongguk to reply, but he doesn't. Yoongi's got a bad habit of catching his phone- pressing his face up against the screen and staring down his reflection, but now it just mocks him. 

You need me.

The truth was Yoongi needed Jeongguk. He needed him to keep him stable. Yoongi thought that if Jeongguk needed him he wouldn't be able to leave. He trapped him- emotionally, financially, physically. Someone as bright and beautiful as Jeongguk would never stay with him otherwise or so Yoongi thought. He didn't understand love. He understood desire, ownership, obsession, but not love. It was the softest of things. 


Jeongguk still has Namjoon's number. Occasionally he'll even get a text or an invite from Taehyung to one of his rich friends' parties. Jeongguk never goes of course, but it's the thought that counts. Months later and he's still apart of Yoongi's life somehow. He wonders if it'll always be that way or if the goodbye is supposed to hurt this much.

“Did you know?” Jeongguk asks.

When he doesn’t get an answer he asks again (his voice much harder), “Did you know about Inho? About the others before me?”

“Yes.” Namjoon says.

It’s not the answer he wants, but the answer he knows as true. Jeongguk nods.

Namjoon doesn’t offer an apology. He knows they’re useless.

"Do you still want to be with him?" Namjoon looks over at Jeongguk who's leaning against the door frame in a too big hoodie like some post expressionist teenager getting off on everyone's bad habits. They both know he's too old to be feeling sorry for himself or apathy like "shit happens" or "I don't care's" when Jeongguk cares more than anyone.

"He'll never get better." Namjoon says when Jeongguk falls silent, "I've known him a lot longer than you have." 

The words make Jeongguk feel small... insignificant like nothing he says or does matters and he supposes, bleakly, it doesn't.

Tiredly Jeongguk says, "I know that."

 

It's not that Yoongi has moved on or forgotten about Jeongguk in the slightest, but he has stopped checking his phone as often for a text so when he gets a message from Jeongguk he stares at it for a few minutes in public-  mouth open like a dying fish. It's embarrassing to say the least.

The text reads: Let's meet... That coffee place you like.

And so they meet at the coffee shop like they're old friends. There are plenty of people around- not like Jeongguk is afraid Yoongi would hurt him. He’s more afraid of what he would do. Besides… the coffee's good here. It’s almost like the mornings with Yoongi. The window open, the smell of fresh coffee filling the apartment Yoongi would offer him a cigarette and mindlessly run a hand through his hair and smile. It lifted Jeongguk from his thoughts. The sheer glimpse of seeing Yoongi happy and having something to do with that happiness was enough for him.

"Hi." Yoongi says awkwardly.

Jeongguk watches him from over his coffee cup. It's nice seeing him again. No. More familiar than nice.  

The last few months of his life he hasn't known that.

Yoongi orders food for the both of them. Jeongguk tries to refuse, but Yoongi says something about him being "too skinny" so Jeongguk grimaces and accepts. He's never had much success telling Yoongi what to do. 

He eats.

"You have to eat." That's what he's been told since he was young. All Jeongguk's ever felt expired. Like youth was something that slipped through his fingers. He couldn't hold on even when his grip left fingernail marks.

"Why." He wanted to ask.

To grow.

But he's grown taller than boys older than him.

To survive.

But he had to do so much more to survive. He had to do things he was ashamed of. Things that followed him into his bed and haunted his dreams. 

So he eats out of a habit.

He eats even when it tastes like nothing and every bite makes him want to throw up.

"Jeongguk." Yoongi says. The name like morning lilting on his skin. Yoongi thinks better of putting his hand on Jeongguk's arm and waking him from whatever thoughts plague him. 

"Sorry." Jeongguk mutters. "Suppose I'm not the best company."

Yoongi shakes his head and smiles. They sit there- coffee and food both cleared away, a gentle breeze between the two of them, and enough history it could fill a textbook- and all that remains is silence.

"So what is it you wanted to.." Yoongi clears his throat, "Why did you want to meet?"

"It's stupid," Jeongguk smiles like he used to when he was uncomfortable, "I wanted to see how you were." 

"Oh." Is all Yoongi can think to say. "I'm good."

He isn't. Yoongi's never been good in his life. He doesn't know what that means. He's something and he isn't quite sure what that something is, but it keeps him moving.

"You?"

"I manage."

"If you need money I-"

“We’ve been down that road before.” Jeongguk says.

Yoongi reaches into his back pocket and takes out a pack of smokes.

Cigarette between his lips he says, "I miss you."

It blows through Jeongguk like he's wearing nothing and the wind is fast and cold. 

Yoongi breathes out- cloud of nicotine in Jeongguk's face- and all Jeongguk can think is: beautiful. He's beautiful.

They exchange one bad habit for another. Cigarettes, booze, each other, but sitting across from him inhaling his smoke Jeongguk knows Yoongi was his worst addiction.

'What is it you miss?' Jeongguk wants to ask. 

Yoongi just looks at him- searching his face for the innocent boy he used to know- but they're strangers to each other on a street where everyone keeps their eyes down and their hoodies up.

The low-noon sun paints shadows against the wall. They stand so much straighter than them.

He can't swallow. He's gone hoarse like he's been choked. The words catching up to his feelings, mangled gut-instinct things that reek of so much desperation it could be heard over a bad phone line, "Everything."

It's one word and it leaves him like a bad hangover.

His head hanging over a toilet bowl and his legs going numb, skin sticking to the bathroom tile. He's too nauseous to move, but not enough to bring himself to throw up. He can never get sober of him.

It makes him sick. But he misses him too.

"Jeongguk," Yoongi says again. There's everything in the way he says his name- an apology, the softest "I love you."

“I didn’t want you to be happy. I wanted you to stay with me and I knew if you were happy, truly happy you wouldn’t need me.”

Nothing Yoongi says surprises Jeongguk. It doesn't even make him sad. He's just numb.

"I was happy." Jeongguk looks up at Yoongi. He lights another cigarette and hands one to Jeongguk. Their fingers touching briefly. It's like a match that sweeps fire across his whole body. His skin is a map of everywhere Yoongi's ever touched him and he aches for his hands.  

Jeongguk wishes he could waste this whole feeling off of him.

"Got a light?"

Jeongguk shakes his head no and Yoongi leans in and lights up for him.

"I loved you. I loved what to did to me, how you made me feel, but I was feeding your addiction- and you were mine. I know why you did what you did to me. You use everyone until there's nothing left and hope to high fucking hell they're too broken to leave you, but I didn't want to be broken with you."

"Loved?" Yoongi asks.

"Don't make me say that." Jeongguk's voice shakes. Still do.

"You kill what you love to keep it with you. So it can never leave."

Jeongguk smiles sadly.

"Do you remember when you got drunk and threw up everywhere and I took care of you?"

"We had a few nights like that." Yoongi chuckles before saying, "I remember."

"There was something in your eyes that reminded me of a storm over water- something horrible and devastating like you weren't sure if you wanted to rip me apart or kiss me, but I couldn't look away and I thought... this man that I love I'd give him anything."

"You weren't the one who changed. I was."

"Are you sorry?" Yoongi asks. He looks the closest Jeongguk's ever seen him to crying. Eyes bloodshot and lips pale as his skin.

"For what?" Jeongguk knows.

"For everything."

"Not for you. Not ever."

 

 

 

 

 

1. Yoongi said it was because he got bored easily, but Jeongguk knew it was more than that. His hair was the one thing he could easily change about his appearance. Yoongi hadn't always been that way, but he became more serious- more controlling like if he could look a certain way he would have control over certain things. He thought Jeongguk was one of those things.

Chapter Text

[ 11 ]

 

Jeongguk watched the day pass. He hadn't been awake most of it and now the caffeine hitting his bloodstream and the pale blue sky was turning into a pastel painting. Jeongguk had never been one for the art museums Yoongi dragged him around, but like a puppy that followed loyally at his master's heel Jeongguk was more than content to watch Yoongi light up as he explained what the paintings meant. Jeongguk liked to think they meant nothing. Why couldn't it just be a pretty picture, but Yoongi didn't think like that.

Memory was a ghost with teeth. He was numb from it. So much so that his skin had half-moon indentations from his nails gripping too hard. He didn't remember doing that. The pain was too dull to snap him back to reality. His hands were incapable of hurting himself too badly, but he had always been good at seeking it out. He could see it in their eyes. The men that drowned their sorrows in bouts of cigarette-laced drunkenness and smell of his skin. There was a need to lose themselves (even if for a minute). They taste like black licorice when Jeongguk tried to kiss them.

"I don't do that."  They bring up the ring on their finger out of defense.     

Jeongguk was wiry. Flowers didn't grow from his rib-cage and his skin wasn't bathed in honey. He wasn't that perfect boy Yoongi captured under his lens anymore. He flicked his cigarette. There was a bad taste in his mouth that had lingered for days. This was the only way to survive: feeling nothing. 

When he thought of Yoongi it was a flash-flood of emotions. He prolonged the goodbye just to feel something, anything, because it was better than the sinking nothingness. It wasn't romantic to feel the cold dance around his fingertips and eat away at his flesh as his eyes stared unblinking at his reflection. He dug his fingers into his pulse to remember he was still alive. It thrashed only when he thought of doing terrible things--not when he runs, not when his face is pushed into the bed and he's biting at the sheets and his hips were being bruised, not even when he's fucked up. But only, only when Yoongi entered his thoughts. 

He was numb. He understood the look Yoongi gave him now. Yoongi would switch between moods- gentle to cold like the winds. His words hurtful and sharp, but not as sharp as his hips pinning Jeongguk against the kitchen island. Jeongguk watched the flicker in his eyes. Intrigued how far he would go. A play of shadows darkened his face even when he smiled.

Yoongi looked at him like a bottle of bourbon. Mix of anger and lust in his eyes. 

Jeongguk stepped in from the balcony when he heard the news.

A man late in his thirties announced, "Body of a nineteen-year-old male found."

He froze.

“Yoongi.” He called. Not texts.

“Did you see the news?” He asked, somehow sure Yoongi knows.

“They’re not going to find anything-” Yoongi paused, “I made sure of that.”

“What did you do?”

“I did what needed to be done.” He hung up.

"Who were you talking to?" An older man's voice disrupted the silence.

"No one." Jeongguk said too quickly for him not to notice, but he said nothing.

It wasn't a lie. Yoongi was no one.

Jeongguk didn't remember how many men he had been with since Yoongi. He didn't remember their faces or their voices or how it made him feel when he pulled out their wallets. All he saw when he closed his eyes was Yoongi's face. All he heard was Yoongi's husky voice. All he felt was his teeth against his skin.

The man he was staying with was older. Quite a bit older than what he was used to, but he was nice.

That night Jeongguk drank his wine before dinner and played with his food like a bratty kid, but the man didn't say anything. He was quiet and Jeongguk hated the silence. All his thoughts found him there. 

"Not hungry?"

Jeongguk smiled slyly, "Not for dinner."

The older man read the look on his face silently and resumed eating.

It was a nice place. Japanese in its minimal design, but still cozy in a faux-personal way. Rugs and throws and a few framed pictures of distant places neither of them had been to. It reminded Jeongguk of Yoongi's place (it reeked of solitude and four a.m. nights). They sat opposite each other in mostly silence or mundane conversation and ate a nice meal of sesame green beans and han-u beef and Jeongguk couldn't but think he had no fucking idea what to do with nice. He had never had nice.

Jeongguk slipped free of his sneakers—he thinks they're Adidas—and ran his foot up the older man's thigh. He watched his porcelain-stern expression split into parted lips and listened to the throaty moan that filled the silence. It was a song that called his blood to the surface. Jeongguk rubbed his erection through his slacks. His toes tracing the line of his cock. Jeongguk smirked at the control he has--he was barely touching him--and he was still leaking precum into his boxers like a teenager. His fingers wrapped around Jeongguk's bare foot and set his foot down. It made Jeongguk whine. He was hungry for any power he has even if it meant getting on his knees. 

The man pushed his chair away from the table and unbuttoned his pants.

"Crawl." He said.

He freed his erection from the tightness of his pants and said in a low voice, "You want this?"

Jeongguk nodded.

He crawled over to where to older man sat and nuzzled his outstretched hand like a pet. The cold of the wood floors made his skin harden like armor even through his jeans.  

He waited as if either of them have any real control over the primal urges they felt coursing through their veins.  Candlelight spilled over the scene like they were on a movie set and all eyes were on them. It wasn't an unfamiliar feeling--an uneasiness gathering in the pit of his stomach when the red light came on. He could feel it in the air (the change in temperature between them, the absurd inability to draw in breath quite as naturally as before). Yoongi became distant or more accurately he slipped from the gaze of a lover to an observer. Only touching him to rearrange his body or to brush back a strand of hair.

The other held his head down until his cum was filling his mouth. He chin was covered in cum and slobber and his eyes were wet with tears that threatened to spill like white sea foam onto the shore of his cheeks. Jeongguk felt himself being cleaned up, his hair being played with and his bottom lip lined with a gentle kiss of finger pads. His legs were beginning to go numb from sitting on them and he couldn't remember the taste of the wine before. All he could recall was the taste of cum coating the back of his throat and all he felt was numb.

"Don't miss a spot or you'll have to lick it up off the floor." His tone made Jeongguk ache. Not for another drunken kiss or a hand against his thigh, but for sleep and the dreams that pressed themselves into his eyelids. There he didn't feel anything. Not even the emptiness that followed like a ghost.

The man ran a hand through his hair once more before saying, "Get undressed. Fold your clothes neatly. Lie down on the bed."

"On my back or on my stomach?" Jeongguk asked.

He took one look at him, noting how subdued and obedient he was when he had had his pretty mouth fucked and said, "Your stomach."

Jeongguk was good at following orders, his fingers already curling in the bed sheets for what was to come.

He spread open his ass with his fingers and squeezed out lube. Cold dripped inside him. He massaged it in, rubbing against him and coating himself in the process before pushing in. It was the good kind of pain. One he had gotten used to. One he occasionally allowed himself to enjoy, but was never violent enough to make him flinch or stop and think: "Is this man going to kill me?" Not like Yoongi. Never like Yoongi.

"Hurt me, please." His voice was soft like a candle flame drowning in wax.  "I’ll be so good for you. You’ll see, just hurt me."

His eyes, heavy lidded, flickered in the dark as his voice curved needy, "Please. Hit me."

"No." The older man said.

The word stung, but not the way Jeongguk wanted it to. 

"Come on. Why can’t you just give me what I deserve."

"What’s gotten into you?" His thrusts slow. His fingers untangled from his hair and rested on his face. His thumb circled his bottom lip lovingly. Jeongguk tongue darts out and licks up the length of his fingers. He sucked them into his mouth. His eyes were cold and dark like an animal that had been hit too many times, but still slinks up to its owner out of habit. It wasn't love or loyalty. It was the sinking reality of having nowhere else to go. He was still a pet, albeit a well-treated one.

"I’m not going to hurt you no matter how many times you ask."

Jeongguk sighed. His body tense from the release he wasn't getting. He closed his eyes and thought of Yoongi—his pretty hair sticking to his skin after he stepped out of the shower, his pretty lips (pink from biting them), his pretty everything. Nothing quite got Jeongguk off like the memory of Yoongi. It wasn’t always violent with Yoongi, sometimes it was soft and gentle and loving even, but it was the times when Yoongi was drunk and would pull at his clothing that Jeongguk remembered most. He was bigger and stronger than Yoongi, but he never really had any of the power Yoongi did. He'd mark Yoongi's pale skin and get a slap or try to initiate sex, but upon hearing a tired sigh from Yoongi stopped.  

A hand pressed against the small of his back stirred him from his reverie. The man dug his fingernails into his skin as he neared his orgasm. Jeongguk habitually arched his hips up off the bed to meet his more and more desperate thrusts. He came inside him with a muted moan. Jeongguk let his body sink back into the mattress as he felt him running down his thighs. He became more and more sober as the heat of lust lifted from his skin. 

"I'm not paying you to think about other guys." He said when he was collected enough to feel comfortable to let Jeongguk look at him again. He had an air about him that made him act above everyone else, but Jeongguk knew it was shame that made him act as such.  

"Just the one." Jeongguk gathered his clothes off the floor and quickly dressed. He was out the door before the other could say anything. The door slammed behind him like some reminder of a past life.

He got blink drunk. Club lights bathed his skin in neon colours and the alcohol burned (going down and coming up). In the sea of bodies, dancing against each other to the deafening mix of American and Korean electronic music Jeongguk lost himself. Here he was no one. Here the music was so loud he couldn’t hear the almost constant dialogue in his head. At some point Jeongguk got bored of dancing and took a seat at the small bar.   

Some guy was talking to him, obviously trying to get lucky, but Jeongguk didn't hear a word. The emptiness Yoongi had left him with made him feel like he was never really there. He had tried living. Getting up early every morning and letting the shower wash off the grime from the night before, getting dressed and making breakfast like every other person out there. Functional, but not alive. His fingers trailed over the callouses of his hands, his ragged fingernails, and the bitten skin around them—nails digging a little more at the torn skin (and tearing at the pink, healthy skin that was supposed to be there until a thin layer of blood bubbled up in its place). He didn’t know what to do with his hands when they weren’t holding Yoongi’s. It was like Yoongi without a cigarette. He looked wrong somehow.  

His hearing focused back in, past the loud club music, past the static he heard when he drifted off into Jeongguk-land (that’s what Yoongi used to call it). “Hey kiddo,” Yoongi would say, pressing a kiss against his cheek and bringing him back to reality or some version of it.

“I don't do drugs. I don't do alcohol… well within moderation. I do sex.” Couple minutes of listening to this guy and Jeongguk was tired. 

Something told him he wasn’t supposed to be here. Nothing ever good happened at clubs. But Jeongguk was never looking for anything good.

“Good for you.” Jeongguk said dryly.

He made a face like he was offended, but is deep enough in the bag to let it slide.

“Heard you took the edge off.  How bout I buy you a few rounds?”

“There are plenty other bodies in this place. Bother one of them.”

“Is that what I'm doing? Bothering you?”

"Yeah." Jeongguk wasn't the type to get bothered. Not by this. After all this was what he was good at. Getting attention and living off the buzz it gave him, but the day had worn at his thin layers and not even the alcohol he was at this point pounding was helping.

Jeongguk shrugged off the hand that was caressing his shoulder in the way that said, “Hey, why don’t we go somewhere else?”    

“Get off me.” He slurred into the bottom of his glass. Through the whisky glass the world looked honey-coloured and sweeter than it was. Yoongi lived in a shot glass. Intoxication edged by intoxication. This was point where his fingers would begin to itch for a cigarette and he’d lean clumsily off the barstool and give Jeongguk a kiss. To which he’d reply, “Cute.” Before obligatorily joining Yoongi outside for a cigarette even though he didn’t smoke.     

“Hey what’s your problem?”

“My problem?” Jeongguk asked.

“I bought you a drink? You could say thank you,”

“Thank you.” Jeongguk said too loudly for the underlying sarcasm in his voice not to be heard even with the thumpa-thumpa music playing. By the look on his face he wasn’t taking no for an answer.

The guy, let’s call him KHH-WANNABE (with his white Adidas and ripped jeans and snapback that said something in English as if that made him “cool”) was now holding onto Jeongguk’s thigh tightly as if rubbing his fingers into his shoulder wasn’t enough to make every inch of his body crawl with the feeling of spiders. Jeongguk had never gotten into a barfight before, but there was a first and last time for everything. He took KHH-WANNABE’s hand into his sweetly, tracing little lines and shapes into his soft palm, before twisting it until he was grimacing in pain.

“Okay, okay.” He said so Jeongguk would relax his grip. It was a mistake because what happened next was a blur. Jeongguk shot his hands up to block his face out of instinct. He was a good fighter thanks to Inho and his time on the streets, but his head was so fuzzy with alcohol he almost fell off his barstool. In the moment of disorientation, the Adidas-wearing-shitstain connected with his eye bone. Being hit in the face had a way of sobering one up.     

“Don’t make me call security.” The bartender said in a flat voice like he had seen this too many times to care. Pain licked across his skin like a flame. It might have been the adrenaline or the sheer fact that Jeongguk was sick of being treated like property, but he didn’t heed the bartender’s warning. Instead he swung a punch that judging by the cracking sound it made was a little too forceful. Blood stained his teeth and upon the sight Jeongguk felt his veins rush with an inexpiable sense of joy.     

He heard an exasperated, “That’s it!” And knew it was time to go.  

Getting out of the club erections pressed against thigh, drunk words twisted like anxiety in his stomach and he felt himself clenching his already bruised hands into fists. He dug his nails into his skin to steady himself as he waved in and out of the sea of bodies. Hands bursting with pain and skin cracked with blood he reached the exit sign and pushed the door open to have his lungs flooded with cool air and his skin bathed only in the pale glow of moonlight. 

His heart was beating in his ears and even though the sudden rush of night air calmed him enough that he unclenched his fists into their more natural state of fitting in his pockets there was still an uneasiness that wouldn’t leave his bones. It was like a weight that dragged him down into a dark pool of introspection he had waded through too many times to count. Jeongguk remembered a different life. One where he was a very different boy. He was almost twenty, but wearing the oversized clothes he had bought so he could wear it for the next few years as he grew he still felt like a boy. Life had been cruel and unusual and worn away at the person he once was. 

"Do you ever feel like a whore?" Inho asked.

Jeongguk was wearing the Nike jacket Inho had bought him for his fourteenth birthday. It was the nicest thing he had in his closet though that wasn’t saying much as most of his wardrobe was hand-me-downs from Inho. It was hard to find clothes that fit him. He grew fast and tall—already matching the height of kids’ years older than him.

“We’re going to have to do something about that,” Inho said, tugging on the collar of his shirt and noting the tightness. Inho was all skin and bones, knees that knocked together and sinew thinly veiling his fragileness. All his clothes looked like the billboards of Abercrombie models with their skin-tight jeans and whatever the fuck was cool in the New York minute it took for it to change. Jeongguk could see his skin glow in the moonlight and his veins singing through the paleness of his skin like mermaids under the blue, blue sea he only knew in his dreams. Jeongguk blamed himself for Inho’s thinness. Inho wouldn’t eat unless Jeongguk had enough and enough meant more than Inho.

“Come on eat, we don’t have all day.” Inho would always say when Jeongguk gave him a guilt-filled look. The next day Inho draped a brand-new jacket over his shoulders. It didn’t bunch up or have holes in it or smell of cigarettes. It was all his.

“Happy birthday, little brother.” Inho whispered. Lips brushing against his ear in a lazy kiss.

Jeongguk could have just said, “Thank you.” But that wasn’t the style of fourteen-year-old Jeongguk who only knew stories about how bad life could be. He clasped his hands between his and pulled Inho into a hug that rocked them both. Jeongguk buried his face in Inho’s neck and breathed him in. Skin against skin, every trace of the day could be tasted on the tip of his tongue and heard on the tired slur of his words. Inho felt so small in his arms, but Jeongguk still felt sheltered like a child lost in the nostalgic smell of home. Jeongguk couldn’t remember feeling as happy as he had in that moment.    

Do you ever feel like a whore?

Jeongguk let the words echo. He dug his hands into his pockets, fingers pulling at the fleece. The jacket still fit, but now it smelled like the city and had tears at the ends. Inho would have never asked a question like that when he made sure Jeongguk had enough to eat or spent money they could have saved on new clothes for Jeongguk. Something had turned dark inside Inho. It made Jeongguk draw away from his touch and watch how he pressed his lips against the bottle of cheap liquor and drank until he passed out.

The worst part was Jeongguk didn’t know what it was.

Jeongguk didn’t want to think that this was them now.

Jeongguk didn’t answer. What was there to say besides a quiet, “Yes.” It made his teeth grit how much yes. The moment anyone had done anything for him he felt owned and trapped and scared, but all he had done was say thank you and asked for more in little ways that never really felt like asking until eyes were on him expectantly. The question felt like a gun pressed against his temple. It could blow out his brains and kill him and that would better than answering. Taking off his clothes and staring up at the ceiling he focused on the peeling paint or the colour of the walls or the whir the electricity made. The details were imprinted in his mind and he was sure no one else noticed these things, but he did. After he remembered how long it took to wash the shame off his skin (the water had gone cold and his fingertips were pruned and when he turned the water off the faucet dripped.) The sound stayed with him like the feeling of being touched and how uncomfortable it had been the first few times. The shame couldn't be washed off. No matter how long he showered or how hard he scrubbed or how hot the water was. He could never feel as clean as before. He just got used to it, but even then it kicked back into his memory sometimes. He only found some peace with another drink or cigarette. This was the sickness he now understand had infected Inho and Yoongi and men like them. He was now one of them now. He was worse.

The words crisscrossed his skin like dull razorblade scars. Pulling and fighting against his skin. Do you ever feel like a whore?  It didn’t sound like a question anymore, but an acquisition. He felt strung up and burned on the cross. With the full feeling of cock inside him—taking off his clothes and burying his face in the sheets for money Jeongguk felt more of a substance than a person by a day. It was a way of surviving like the way Yoongi lost himself in cigarettes and booze and the feeling of his skin. (Being a whore) It wasn’t supposed to be something you got used to, but you did and you liked it. Jeongguk’s hands grasped for skin like the men he fell for grasped for their addictions—tobacco, alcohol, the taste of his skin, the lust bleeding over their lips when they knew they owned every inch of him. Jeongguk ached for something he knew how to give. Something he was good at. Something that should have come naturally, but never did. Intimacy. It was something so sought after, so hungered for men would have sold their souls. The conversation over dinner after years of marriage, the eyes met over chores, the soft kiss in the morning to rouse a lover grew empty. That kind of love was invented by admen. Society had a way of making everyone and thing a commodity.  

He was a whore in happiness. In louder and louder music, in the finer clothes he felt against his skin, in the way his body was touched and how he was kissed and promised love even if he wasn't real. Even if none of them knew how to love. It was something and Jeongguk wanted to feel anything so badly.                                                                                            

“Yes, I do.” He breathed into the silence of the night when there was no one there to witness him lighting one of Yoongi’s cigarettes.

Acceptance was the worse medicine.

 

Chapter Text

 [ 12 ]

LOST IN MEMORY, Jeongguk wandered for what seemed like hours. The city and every place he had been with Yoongi—bars, cafes, the dark alleyways he used to be afraid of until he met Yoongi and felt his porcelain-soft-ink-dotted fingers (he had the most beautiful hands and any poetry that spurred into Jeongguk’s head could never do them justice) curling around his and felt completely safe, and nothing streets with only the gentle reminder of cherry blossoms from the season before—clung to his skin like a ghost. He remembered every emotion Yoongi had ignited in him for the first time. Before him it was like he had never heard music or seen colour or experienced anything really at all as sad and naïve as that sounded it was true, but after Yoongi did what he did and faded from his life like a bad dream Jeongguk burned to go back to when being numb felt right. Before he knew he could feel any other way.

He walked his feet off trying to find some part of the city that wasn’t corroded in memory, but even the fucking air smelled like Yoongi (cigarette smoke, leather and sex).    

Finally, he came to it. A tall white building that looked like so many other buildings in the area. At the very top there was roof garden with lounges and chaises, but he never got that high. It was the last place he should be, but coincidently the only place he had to be. Not too far off there was an alleyway outside a club that he remembered like the lines in his palms. Yoongi had pressed him against the brick wall and kissed him like nothing else mattered and in that moment nothing did (not the electronic music coming from the blustering bar-restaurants, not the lux model cars speeding through the lights, not the cold fighting through their jackets: Yoongi’s eyes were dark pools that reflected Jeongguk’s own and in them he found love. The peace Jeongguk had once felt in the coagulated heat of ambition and loneliness the tall glass buildings breed and the sickeningly sweet juxtaposition the milieu of parks and shrines and quirky sidepaths tourists never found gave off had all pattered out into resentment. At night everything was more tolerable. There was barely anyone on the streets. They were either safe in their beds or tucked away where he didn’t have to see or deal with them, but it wasn’t night anymore. Another morning was upon him and that too bright, too happy sky reminded him that he hadn’t slept and that this too was maybe a mistake, but Jeongguk was here now and all the echoes of his other lives moved him forward—passed the staff that lifted their heads as if to say he didn’t belong there, passed the elevator and its too many buttons, passed the white hallway until he came to his door. He took a breath or a few hundred and knocked twice (hoping in the back of his mind that Yoongi wouldn’t be there).   

Jeongguk was surprised by how quickly Yoongi answered especially given the early hour and that it was Yoongi.  

“What are you doing here?” Yoongi asked through the crack in the door.   

It was weird seeing him again like this. Jeongguk hadn’t been back since the breakup and any time he had seen Yoongi had been on neutral ground where Yoongi could take the time to collect himself and make it look like he hadn’t been drinking all day.               

“I came to say goodbye.” Jeongguk said a little too softly to be heard in the long hallway but by the look on Yoongi’s pale face he knew he heard him.

Yoongi made a sound which could have been interrupted as, “Mm.”

He opened the door enough for Jeongguk to push through and take in his surroundings.

The apartment hadn’t changed much in the years he had known Yoongi. It looked depressed. Yoongi rarely let the light in. Yoongi was between-everything. He kept his memories on his laptop, his phone, his camera. Those were the closest thing to the truth. To knowing Yoongi because he wasn’t like other people or what other people were supposed to be like. Magnets on the fridge, useless things collected from vacations, pictures of friends and family. Yoongi didn’t talk about this family. At this point Jeongguk wasn’t even sure he had one. And his friends had started to come around less and less like they were afraid this place was going to infect them. Yoongi stood in front of the fridge like he was going to offer him something. If it was still Yoongi’s place Jeongguk knew there’d only be beer in the fridge and top shelf in the cabinets. Yoongi’s eating was disordered to say the least. If it didn’t come out of a ready-made box or a snack cup he couldn’t be bothered.   

After what seemed like a while Yoongi asked, “Can I get you anything, water, a coffee?”

A flat "no" was enough to make Yoongi shrug and sit down.

Sitting in Yoongi’s depressing apartment on his depressing sofa he was flooded by conversations he had replayed in his head and recited to the bathroom mirror, but now Yoongi was across from him and the words felt so much coarser in his throat.

He started with the black tar-pit that was eating away at him: Inho.

"Do you regret what we did?" Jeongguk asked.

"He was never going to let you go." Yoongi said as if somehow that made everything okay, but Jeongguk knew Yoongi as well as anyone could know Yoongi and by the way he wasn’t looking at him he knew that he felt something. Guilt. They were both murderers and in that silent confession Jeongguk wondered how many people Yoongi had killed. There were so many deaths a person could experience and not all of them fast or violent or requiring a burial, but a death so clean it was nauseating. Inho, the only family Jeongguk had knew, was dead long before they had killed him and so was Jeongguk in some way—before he had been fucked for money or had blood on his hands or become a fantasy for everyone to jerk off to online he had been good. Just like Inho.  

"He loved you.” His lungs swallowed down the words like smoke. Someone else had loved his Yoongi. Someone else had been used and hurt by his Yoongi. That truth made him feel so small he felt like he could disappear.  

"Not like you." There were so many other things Yoongi could have said, but that one hurt Jeongguk the most and that was why he said it. "No one ever loved me like you did."

Jeongguk looked at his hands folded in his lap and thought how strange and out of place they looked without Yoongi’s much smaller and more delicate hands in his. He thought how sad it was that this almost-stranger was so far away from him even in the same room and how it had always been that way. Yoongi was always somewhere else. “Yes, I loved you, but it wasn’t enough, was it?”

Yoongi didn’t say anything. He knew there was nothing to say. He let Jeongguk have his anger, his sadness, his everything he had come here for.

“What we had was private. It was ours. Yours and mine and I don’t know what that meant to you, but it fucking means… meant something to me. I want to know why. Why couldn’t you be happy with me?”

“Just tell me why.” His voice broke, “Please tell me why.”

Yoongi had a look on his face that said, “Go on hit me. Yell. Throw something.”

But that wasn’t Jeongguk.

“I thought you loved me. I really did and I know that’s fucking stupid Yoongi because you don’t love anyone.” Jeongguk kept looking at Yoongi like something would break inside him and spill out all the things he needed to hear, “You love booze, cigarettes, this shitty fucking apartment that wouldn’t even be so bad if you gave a shit and your art, but people… they’re just something to use. Something you can’t be bothered with until they serve some purpose.”

“You pretentious-shit, you act like you know something everyone else doesn’t when what the fuck have you been through?” Yoongi hadn’t moved, not even to take a drag from his cigarette. The smoke drifted from his skinny fingers to dance in wispy lines around his face. There was a sad beauty to it.

“You’re not an artist Yoongi.” It was the ugliest thing he had ever said to Yoongi—to anyone. “You’re a thief."

How many like him had there been? Jeongguk wondered. Looking back on those memories where he had been happiest he wondered if it had been real to Yoongi or if it had just been for his “art.”

“I did love you.” Yoongi looked at Jeongguk with the most gentle and sincerest of looks. That was the special kind of monster Yoongi was. He had a way of making people feel whatever they needed to feel in the moment with a single word or touch or with the intense gaze of his deep brown eyes. “That was never a lie.”

 “Then why’d you fuck it up?” His cheeks were wet with tears he should have cried out months ago, “I would have loved you forever.”

4 a.m. mornings when he couldn’t sleep he would watch Jeongguk sleeping soundly, half his face buried in the pillow and his hand on Yoongi’s bicep, and think he really loved him, but he’d lie there and never feel the same contentment Jeongguk felt to sleep so peacefully. Everything about how Jeongguk loved him reminded him how broken he was.  

“Because I’m broken.” Yoongi admitted, “You’re right Jeongguk. I can’t love anyone, not like you want or deserve. Is that what you wanted to hear?”

The lost in Jeongguk’s eyes urged Yoongi into desperation, “You shouldn’t have come here. You’re not going to get anything you haven’t gotten and I’m not going to change or be anything you can stand to be with.”

“I just needed to know.”

“Know what?” Yoongi asked.

“If it felt different being with you.” There were no past tenses with them. They could try to deny it. Other lovers and time apart, but that love was still there. It wasn’t the same, but it was like a limb. Even if it was rotted and cut off it ached in the night and they reached for it. They were apart of each other.

“And does it?”

“No.” Jeongguk whispered.

“"I can't live without you. I tried. I tried so hard, but I'm another one of your addictions. The worst one."

"The worst one." He repeated.

“You’re scaring me.” Jeongguk said when Yoongi looked hungrily at the bottle Jeongguk held guardedly in his hands. He knew he couldn’t stop Yoongi from drinking. Not even for one night, but that didn’t mean Jeongguk was going to let him have it easy. He came towards Jeongguk. Inch by every slow inch Jeongguk felt his skin become covered with goose pimples out of fear. Of what he didn’t quite know. It wasn’t like Yoongi hadn’t hit him before.

“It's my medicine.” Yoongi said sloppily. His fingers curled around the bottle and yanked it out of Jeongguk’s grasp.

Jeongguk wished he could have been Yoongi's medicine. 

The alcohol didn’t help, nor the cigarettes or sex or any of his other addictions. It just made him emptier and that emptiness had a way of infecting everyone else.

“But I can’t live with you either.”

“What do you want?” Yoongi asked knowing he could never give Jeongguk back what he had taken from him: his innocence, his trust, his love. His eyes had become dark and hungry and he had moved closer to Jeongguk so that he could almost taste his skin. Jeongguk felt himself falling back into Yoongi and that version of himself that let Yoongi do whatever he wanted.   

“I want it to stop hurting.”

Yoongi straddled his lap. Silently saying, “I can do that.”

There was one truth they both knew in their heart and that was: nothing would fix them, but that didn’t stop them from being human and doing what humans did best—lying to themselves.

Being this close to Yoongi was like a drug.

Yoongi kissed him and Jeongguk felt his body come alive.

Chapter Text

[ epilogue ]

THERE WAS SOMETHING about the way Yoongi was kissing him that made it feel like the first and last time -- Yoongi was kerosene and Jeongguk was the match. The smell of smoke and faded taste of alcohol made Jeongguk feel like a teenager again: nervous and excited at the same time. His body writhed underneath Yoongi’s. The slightest touch and Jeongguk was his again. He melted into the heat of his body. He had ached for him. Night after boring night and now with Yoongi pressed up against him he felt like a recovering addict. Everything was so enticing when you had been denying yourself the only thing you wanted (needed). The first drag danced into his lips and caressed his lungs, the rush of nicotine beneath his skin, the feeling of his fingers on his neck and he was gonegonegone. His head was telling him, "Push him away. This is wrong." But his body was on fire with the need to be kissed and bruised by his pretty mouth.

[Stop]

"Do you want me to stop?" Yoongi's voice hitched, "Tell me if that's what you want because it's taking everything I have not to throw you down and fuck you."

"No." Jeongguk breathed, "Just kiss me."

Jeongguk felt Yoongi smirk against his lips and pressed a much softer smile into the feeling of his skin. Yoongi's lips were the only lips he had ever wanted to kiss. He kissed him softly, he kissed him roughly, his tongue licking against his, he kissed every inch of his face and beyond -- trailing his jawline with the tip of his tongue, taking his earlobe into his mouth and sucking until Jeongguk let out a delicious, "Ah." Yoongi took his hands into his and ran his lips over his fingers, lacing them together to take a moment and breathe Jeongguk in. He was making love to him with eyes and lips and fingertips.

It always felt different with Yoongi. Maybe that was how it was supposed to feel when two people were in love. When they were right for each other.

Jeongguk fell in love with the blood vessels and stretch marks that circled around his pale hips, the intenseness of his eyes, the way he clung to him in the thick of the night when their skin was shining with sweat and their lips were red and swollen. Jeongguk buried himself in Yoongi until he couldn’t breathe. 

"God." One word and it said everything, "I missed you."

Jeongguk arched up into him.

He missed the way he tasted and sounded, he missed his hands taking him apart and driving him insane, he missed his cock inside him.

Yoongi lifted his arms up and peeled off his white t-shirt to reveal sharp collarbones and skin the colour of whiskey -- the boy he had first laid eyes on in near blackness, the boy he had taken so many pictures of he couldn't ever forget him even if he wanted to, the boy whose soul he had tarnished -- and thought what he had always believed: someone as beautiful as Jeongguk couldn't be real. He couldn't be in his apartment or so completely his. Yoongi didn't deserve that. Jeongguk turned his head to capture his lips again, calling him back to him. 

"Baby," Jeongguk couldn't remember the last time Yoongi called him that.

It all came back to him. What it felt like to be a person when the melancholy lifted from Yoongi's voice and his eyes softened and Jeongguk knew he wasn't thinking about anything but the feeling of his skin against his. They both needed this.

Yoongi slide down between his legs, onto the floor and undid his jean buttons. He watched Jeongguk's eyes half-close with anticipation. Yoongi pulled down his pants slowly, drawing out the feeling of fabric against his skin. He folded his jeans and laid them on the glass coffee table that wasn't too far from where he was sitting and smiled at the now naked Jeongguk who sat on his couch.

Jeongguk cupped his face and kissed him breathless. He sighed into his mouth, "Fuck me."  

"I want you to fuck me on the floor."

He slipped to where Yoongi was -- the cold, hard, unforgiving floor and pulled at Yoongi's clothes roughly. "Come on." His movements said.

Naked Yoongi laid on top of Jeongguk and brushed back his hair sweetly. He trailed kisses down his face and body, his tongue danced around his nipple and lingered on his naval, sucking and biting at where his skin was paler until it was kissed with pink. His lips and fingers traced every freckle and childhood scrape. It was like Yoongi was exploring his body like it was the first time. Of course, it wasn't. They knew the first time they fucked reeked of a darkness they both carried in their veins, but Yoongi touched his body like an apology. He kissed his thighs, teasing the tip of his cock with the barest touch of his lips before running his tongue up and down his length. Jeongguk curled his fingers in Yoongi's hair. It was a different colour every month. It was a wonder Yoongi wasn't bald yet.

The pleasure, the ache he felt for Yoongi's lips and hands and cock -- the fantasy he had of him -- made tears burn in his eyes. Yoongi pressed his tongue inside him, licking at the sensitive nerves until Jeongguk broke.

"I need you inside me." He mouthed. "I need to feel close to you."

Sex wasn't pretty. It was messy, it was sweaty, it was even painful, but all of that seemed to disappear in the moment. Yoongi wet his fingers and pushed them inside. He relaxed Jeongguk with gentle strokes against his prostate before lining him up and filling him.

Jeongguk thought about saying it. “I love you.” Jeongguk always felt like saying it. Like a prayer. It was the one thing he believed to be true, but he didn’t need to say it. Yoongi knew.

Yoongi looked like a man possessed -- hungry for the taste of his skin and his little moans. He rolled his hips to the rhythm of his breaths, thrusting faster when he was close until Jeongguk felt himself being filled. Jeongguk thought he'd roll off or lie on him to catch his breath, but he ran his open mouth down his chest until he was between his thighs again. Yoongi's pretty face between his thighs was always a welcome sight. He took his cock in his mouth like it was the only thing he wanted. Jeongguk's eyes rolled back in pleasure... In the fantasy Yoongi was delighting him in. He winded his fingers deeper in Yoongi's too blonde hair and pushed his head down to take more of his cock.

When he was done Jeongguk licked the cum off his face, kissing him and laughing softly. "You're exhausting."

"I know." Yoongi sighed.

Sitting there undressed even the thought of cleaning up or getting dressed or moving from that spot was too exhausting.

“I love you.” Yoongi said on the kitchen floor.

His naked skin had imprints from the tiles.

Yoongi had forgotten how many times he had said those same words. It must have been hundreds. Maybe more. He said them to make people stay, he said them as a goodbye, he said them like a confession when he came, he said them until they became meaningless.  

“I can’t feel it.” Jeongguk said plainly. He wasn't sad, he was just numb.  

Jeongguk understood now, the emptiness Yoongi felt. When Yoongi was kissing him or inside him he felt good. He felt like he could be happy, but the weight of needing a high after a high -- of any kind -- came so fast now. It was never enough.

Jeongguk got up first. He got dressed. He had come here to say goodbye, but every time he looked at Yoongi he felt himself slipping back in love or whatever fucked up thing he felt for him. It shredded him how hard Yoongi made everything. One word, one look or fucking touch and he melted. It was so much easier to let himself be controlled by him. It was so much easier to be an addict. 

Jeongguk's heart sank when he looked back at Yoongi still sitting on the floor. The feeling of knowing he'd never see him again swelled in his rib cage.  

"I'll miss you." Yoongi mouthed. It was cruel how pathetic he looked (manipulative).  

"I miss you every day and I think I always will, but I miss you even when I'm with you and that's the problem."

"I know baby." I'm broken.

Yoongi hadn't moved. He didn't try to stop him. Part of Jeongguk wished he would (so much of him wished he would). But he knew if he stayed it'd kill him. 

"Goodbye, Yoongi."

 

--fin--

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

[14]

(alternatively the original ending)

 

Jeongguk didn't know what he was doing here. It wasn't to say goodbye. He knew he could never say goodbye to Yoongi. There were no beginnings or endings with them. It was all one big circle back to where they had started -- nothing. They were codependent and symbolic and sick and their "relationship" was built on lies and money and sex.

Namjoon had warned him. Hell, every single one of his friends had warned him in some way at some point, but Jeongguk being a stupid-fucking-trusting kid had thought he was special, that he was different, that he could change Yoongi, that he could domesticate him. 

Even with Yoongi out of his life, he still was his life. Entangled in his memories, thoughts, his body when he wanted to jerk off.  

Being in love with Yoongi was a headache. A bad one, that throbbed behind his eyes. It never let up, no matter how much medicine he took. He got used to it eventually and wasn't that just fucking everything—Yoongi became a dull ache like a hangover or every slightly irritating thing, but then something would remind him and Yoongi wasn't just a dull ache he was a hurricane in his head. That was Jeongguk's definition of being alive: the hurt he felt.

"You still want to be with him, don't you?" Namjoon asked.

Jeongguk had a lot to say about that, but it all came out was, "Yes."

Jeongguk had asked Yoongi about Namjoon once. He had hoped that Yoongi would lie and say it was Namjoon's fault or at the very least it had been mutual, but he had been honest that day. 

"What happened between you and Namjoon?" He had asked naively.

"I happened." Yoongi said plainly.

Back then Jeongguk didn't understand. He had seen Yoongi as perfect. Like a child, he had forgiven him. For every mean thing he had said, for every slap, for every torn pair of underwear or ugly thing he had done to him, but now standing in front of Yoongi (in his apartment he wondered how he could afford because Yoongi wasn't money, he wasn't any different than the people he had known his whole life) he saw Yoongi for what he was, a user. 

When no one else in the world had cared about him, Yoongi had. He had made him feel special like countless others before him. He had made him feel like the only one. Jeongguk's life had never been his own. First Inho then Yoongi. When someone gave you a life, it wasn't truly your own. You owned some part of it back. He was still paying.

Jeongguk wanted him to feel the hurt he had felt. He wanted Yoongi to watch him die.

It hadn’t all been bad. He had been happy with Yoongi, he had thought Yoongi had been happy too. He looked it sometimes. When they were out of the apartment and he smiled at him, when they walked the streets and Jeongguk felt connected, grounded even when there were no words spoken and their skin wasn’t touching. He was happy when Jeongguk woke up first and laid across his back and told him he loved him, but happiness didn't mix well with Yoongi. It was true what they said: an artist couldn't be happy. 

"I was a kid, Yoongi." His voice was full of loss, "I would have let you do anything to me. I did let you do anything to me. I let you fuck me, I let you rape me, I let myself forgive you for everything. I just wanted you to stop hurting me."

Yoongi said his name softly and reached out a tentative hand to brush away his tears. He said his name even softer like a memory of a more peaceful time. Yoongi's voice always calmed him when he couldn't sleep. When he kept pacing around the apartment Yoongi would take him by the hand and lead him back into their bed and talk about nothing until he fell asleep. He could be so sweet sometimes. That was what hurt the most.

"Why did you come back here?" Yoongi looked so tired and run-down,  "You know we're no good for each other. You've said it yourself." 

"Because," He said like that explained everything, "Because all I can think about is you touching me, kissing me, fucking me. Is that what you want to hear? That I sill love you? That I never stopped? I couldn't even if I wanted to."

His cheeks were itchy with tears and his lips trembled around his words. He sounded like a kid — five foot nothing, bowl haircut, stick-thin in a sweater that covered his hands and not the young man he was. Desperation bubbled in his stomach and pushed him forward.  

He kissed Yoongi. It was sloppy and fast and all he tasted is salt.

Yoongi pushed Jeongguk away gently. Hands flat against his chest and looked at him, "No."

"I can't live without you. I tried. I tried so hard." He didn't know what to do with his hands when they weren't curled around Yoongi, every word ended and begun with him.

"But I'm another one of your addictions. The worst one."

"The worst one." He repeated.

"I just want to feel something. Make me feel something."

"Was it worth it, Yoongi? Hurting me, betraying what we had...do you need to humiliate and ruin a person so much that you erase them and all that's left is a shell that doesn't know how to pick up the pieces without you? Does that make you feel powerful?"

"I regret it. What I did to you was wrong, but that's not why I regret it. You're the one thing in my life that felt different...you surprised me and you keep doing it every time to come back to me."

Jeongguk laughed brokenly. Such a sad sound coming from a beautiful boy.

"That's how broken I am, Yoongi. I keep coming back because I don't know what else to do."

A buttery light had filmed over them and Jeongguk could feel the sunlight caressing the bare patches of his skin. It was too pure, too clean for the scene playing out in the kitchen-dining room.

"You are good enough." Yoongi kissed his face. Slow kisses against his cheeks. He held him up from crumbling.

"Then why does everyone hurt me?" All he wanted to feel was the slow pain of a blade, cold metal meeting his veins meshed with strings of dark red. 

"I don't know baby. I don't know." He whispered, his mouth pressed up against his neck.

The blood came thicker and hotter, running out of him like a river that had been held back by a dam for years.  He didn't listen to Yoongi, all he felt is him holding him. 

"I want it to stop hurting and you say something and I'm back in love. Because it's you, it's always you."

The taste of his tears were prominent on his tongue.  Jeongguk looked so devastated in his eyes. It was like some kind of sacrilege and they were the only two followers, on their knees, mouths open, eyes shut. Yoongi wiped the tears from his eyes. There was so much emptiness there. Empty space he had left. 

Yoongi kissed his cheeks. They were cold now. He combed his fingers through the dark tresses of his hair and he tasted salt on his tongue. He was beautiful, even in death, especially in death. Still like a doll. Yoongi had been killing him for so long, his tears dried up from sobs he kissed his lips for the last time. His baby, his boy, his favourite still and cold beside him. 

He remembered the gun in his bedroom drawer. The nights he held it in his lap and ran his fingers against the cold metal, a gun was too quick. Too painless. The blade was too messy. He deserved something painful. Fire. The flames would cleanse him and in the wreckage there'd be nothing left. No one could find him, his beautiful boy soiled and dirty. They wouldn't find anything, but ashes.

He thought about that teenage angst quote about love. "He said he took pictures of what he loved, but he never took pictures of me." But all Yoongi did was take pictures of him. He struck up a cigarette, lighter fluid laced throughout his apartment and sat beside him.

"Sometimes all I did was think about you." He breathed in deeply. Cold before the fire reached him. He had dreamed of this, the fire, the smoke, the sounds of nothing, but then he always woke up.