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Namjoon was weird in the way he “woke up with a start.” He didn’t do the normal, quick and sharp inhalation or jerk of his body into a sitting position as his eyes moved to and fro. Usually, he kept his eyes closed and body tense and still as his insides churned to butter. In those senses, he wasn’t a very outward person, not unless people wanted him to be…but who would want that?
Namjoon tried to move his head up, only having a few minutes of lasting strength before it crashed back down to the neck pillow he used as a normal pillow. He was trying to see where Hoseok was, knowing he was lingering somewhere in their man pile. Namjoon thought at one point the pile was just for safety and warmth in the cold, but now he saw it as more of a tradition.
Namjoon could feel the memory coming to fruit, manifesting somewhere in his temporal lobe, a memory of Hoseok.
This is our chapter, he thought.
“Don’t go too far Jimin,” Namjoon ordered, watching his friend closely as he was mid-run, groaning and collapsing on the sand instead. Namjoon turned away to go back to looking for crabs and fish, slushing around in the water. He shivered, the old breeze they knew once becoming something more distant and, well, cold.
Very, very cold.
Hoseok watched as Namjoon’s head turned away, turning to watch Jimin as he laid in the sand. “Where were you going?” he asked, catching Jimin’s scattered attention.
Jimin shrugged with only one of his shoulders, his wispy hair covering parts of his forehead and leaving the rest open for tanning. It seemed like Jimin and Yoongi were the only ones not tanning violently, not that it mattered anymore as the sun became less and less bright. “I wanted to help Jeongguk and Tae hunt.”
“Oh, well then go.”
“Well, I mean Namjoon—”
“Don’t worry about it,” Hoseok interrupted him, helping him up. “Go and help them, Namjoon and I got it.” So Jimin went, not thinking thrice about it.
Next thing Namjoon knew, Jimin was gone and Hobi was asking what needed to be done. Joon sighed, nearly choking the fish in his hand to death. “Hobi,” he spoke gently, carefully selecting his words. “That bag is full of fish,” he pointed toward the book bag, indeed, full of fish. He then pointed to two, bulkier book bags next to it. “And those are full of rocks. And we have to walk over a mile to get to the cliff to then deliver said necessities.”
Namjoon thought about saying, I love you, but you are not what I need right now.
“I need Jimin, not you,” was what came out, Joon trusting that the hurt in his eyes would fade eventually. “Oh,” Hobi said. “Sorry.” Namjoon was getting ready to say it was fine when he kept on. “Guess I’ll just have to pull my weight then, as long as you don’t overdo it.” He held his hand out to Namjoon, still standing in the freezing water. “Come on, it’s too cold for you in there.”
Namjoon wanted to slap the hand away, but he knew he wasn’t better than that, there had already been two incidents to use as evidence of that. Instead, seeing Joon’s hesitance, Hobi turned his hand into a fishing pole, trying to mime-rope Joon back to shore. “Oh, oh!” he shouted. “I think we got a big one here!” The corner of his face lifted as Hobi pretended to struggle. “Come on! So close!” With a rather boring and non-fish-like response, Joon stepped out of the water and onto the warm-in-comparison sand. Hoseok let his breath go, fake-panting as he clutched his knees. “Phew!”
“Shut up,” Namjoon said, pulling him closer as they walked back to the bags, picked them up, and made their way back to camp before the sun completely set.
“Ah,” Namjoon held back a curse, sucking on his bleeding finger. Jimin and the others were gathered around the fire as Jeongguk cooked the fish. Hoseok turned away from them and looked toward Namjoon as he slaved away, taking the rock out of the bag and scattering them around their half-built structure for easy-use in the morning.
He didn’t hesitate to get up and—
“No, I got it,” Namjoon said before Hobi could even offer his help.
“If I’ve learned anything,” Hobi started, picking up two rocks. “It’s that just because you’ve got it doesn’t mean you can’t get it better.” Namjoon didn’t say anything in response to that, Hobi walking away to spread them. “He’s too much,” Joon muttered to himself, finishing up before Jimin cheerfully called them to the fire.
“We should really build some chairs,” Jimin noted, and Namjoon took it into account.
“I could work on that,” Kookie noted, biting into his fish as he passed the rest around. Jimin added a, “I’ll help.”
Namjoon grunted, pointing a finger at the short, soft-spoken man who had ditched him. “You’ve proven today that you’re not even capable of helping me move rocks.”
Jimin was flustered at the attack, quickly coming back with, “But Hobi said I could go help Kookie and Tae.”
“Well Hobi’s not in charge, is he?”
Namjoon didn’t mean to say that, and the others weren’t meant to hear it, and the air wasn’t meant to hold it, and Namjoon wished that he hadn’t let it. Hobi seemed especially taken aback, eyes watching Namjoon in a way they never had before. Namjoon was about to take it back when he heard this as a response:
“No,” Joon looked up at Jimin when he answered, surprised at his bowed head. “He’s not.” Namjoon was now surprised in general, never thinking to look around at the others. Kookie, Jin, everyone not only staying silent—submissive—but seemingly nonchalant in what was an unsaid truth around there for everyone…
…everyone except Hoseok.
“Wait, so we’re just going to…not acknowledge that?” Hobi looked around at his new friends, knew they would always have his back.
Not this time, not with Namjoon. Hobi didn’t necessarily need to have the conversation with them to get to the conclusion—
“Acknowledge what?” Kookie asked, looking up suddenly. “I didn’t do anything.”
“No, I mean the fact that Namjoon just made himself the leader.”
No one said a word in response, unsure what to say.
—that Hobi saw Namjoon a little different than everyone else did.
“I mean,” Hobi went on. “I personally don’t think we need one at all.”
“Then who’s going to plan everything out?” Namjoon jumped in, not wanting to argue with being named the leader, but surely welcoming an argument on a leader in general. “Who’s going to ask what’s needed? Who’s going to organize everything?”
“We can work together for that, oligarchy style,” Hobi said back, this new look of disapproval—Namjoon could name it now—surfacing on top of his iris’. “I mean who died and made you king?”
Namjoon couldn’t help the smirk that came onto his face, scoffing with a little jump in his shoulders. “You don’t know the half of my job,” he told Hobi. “No, you don’t get it even a little bit.”
“Well if I don’t, then show me.”
“Pardon?” Joon asked.
“If I don’t get the ‘crucial importance’ of being a leader then please, show me.”
Hobi felt annoyed for the first time in a while, trying so hard to grab Namjoon’s eye contact, something he didn’t want to give away. Finally, he did, realizing just by that one glance how serious Hobi was. “Okay fine, shadow me for a day, or a week…or however long it takes you to realize that you’re wrong.” Namjoon smiled not sweetly, but bitterly, he himself hiding a serpent behind those eyes. “But it’s getting pretty cold here, Hope.” Hobi welcomed the new nickname with open arms. “…Maybe too cold for you.”
After eating was over, they walked down to their sleeping spot. Walking single-filed line through the woods, latching onto each other’s shirts for safety, Hobi leaned in toward Namjoon and whispered. “I guess since I’m officially leader-shadowing, I get to sleep in the middle of the pile like you always do.”
Joon did a sort of half-snort, half-scoff combo in response to Hobi. “Hope, I do not—” But the more he thought about it, the more he realized that it was true. He did sleep in the middle, not that anyone ever complained about it. “Whatever,” he mumbled, Hoseok celebrating his won battle, but not yet won war.
Hoseok enjoyed sleeping near the middle, unaware of the new perspective it brought on. He had allowed his mind to step out of his body long enough to look over the pile of people they had built in their sleep. It wasn’t a simple head-to-toe circle with Namjoon curled up like a babe in the center. It was more like legs intertwined or some lying independent as the outer layer of their pile, while the majority of heads lead up and into Namjoon’s waist, Tae specifically and usually always the one straddling poor Namjoon’s legs while Jin lied closer to Namjoon’s head. Now, as Hobi could envision, there was another body curled up in the center, like the tail to Namjoon’s Curious George, hanging slightly off center but at the same time used for balance.
He liked that idea.
Namjoon giggled as he pushed the swing harder, making Hoseok go even higher. His hat flew off, something that hadn’t happened before. Instead of reasoning that the strong winds and loose nature of how he wore his hats weighed in, the two boys thought it must have meant he was going super duper fast.
The whistle blew.
Recess was over.
Joon and Hobi ran towards their teacher, getting in line to go back to class. “That was so cool!” Joon exclaimed. “Next time, tomorrow, we can go even higher!”
“Joonie!” Hobi stepped in front of Namjoon and gripped his shoulders, shaking him with both hands and huge, excited eyes. “We’re gonna go so high, we’re gonna FLY!”
Namjoon gasped, his own eyes widening with excitement. “Really!?”
“Inside boys,” the teacher said, ushering them into the classroom. But even then, Joon couldn’t pay attention anymore in class, his little brain to wrapped up in the idea of flying. As soon as the bell rang, Namjoon ran over to Hobi and said, “How are we gonna fly?”
“Duhhh,” Hobi elongated as he packed his book bag. He put it over his shoulder and ran out of the building with the other carpool kids—Joon included. “When you push me high enough, I’ll fly off and then I’ll SHOOT up into the sky like a rocket!”
Namjoon nearly squealed in his excitement, so wrapped up that he didn’t spot his mom’s car in the car line. “Bye Namjoon!” the teacher said, practically pulling him away from Hobi. They hugged and said goodbye before Joon disappeared into his car.
“Mom!” he shouted at his mother as she pulled off. “Me and Hobi are gonna fly tomorrow!”
She chuckled. “How are you going to do that Joonie?”
“Well, I’m gonna push him really hard on the swing and then he’s gonna shoot into the air like a rocket!” Instead of telling Joon it was a bad and impractical idea, her mind went somewhere else. “Well…then you’re not going to fly.”
“What?” Namjoon said, those excited eyes dimming. “Why not?”
“Well if you’re pushing Hobi, then Hobi’s going to fly…not you.”
Joon was ready to use his 10-year old knowledge to debunk her, but he couldn’t bring himself to it…because everything in him knew that she was right. “Oh,” was all he said, slumping in his seat. “Okay.”
She quickly tried to cheer him up. “But that’s okay, gingerbread! If you ask Hobi, I’m sure you two can take turns flying.”
Namjoon just nodded but said nothing.
Hobi liked the new positioning a lot better when he was sleeping, unhappy with how soon he had to be conscious again. Namjoon wouldn’t stop poking him, refusing to hiss his name in fear of who it might wake. Hobi understood that much as he slid himself into a sitting position as quietly as he could. As soon as the blanket slipped from his bare arms, he felt the cold morning on his skin as it spread shivers to the rest of his body like a ripple in the water.
Now that he thought about it, he had been shivering all night.
Joon ushered for Hobi to get up and so he did, carefully stepping over Yoongi and side-stepping Kookie to get to Namjoon now on the outskirts. He just started walking then, Hobi too tired to tell in what direction. Eventually, they found themselves on top of the hill again, Namjoon shuffling with bags and suitcases when Hobi finally asked, “What’re you doing?”
“It’s Sunday,” Namjoon pointed out. “I’m cooking.”
“At…?” Hobi didn’t have Kookie around to check his watch, so he tried to figure out when he usually woke up and how many hours off his body was feeling. “…Seven in the morning?” The sun was barely in the sky, a dream-like tint falling over them.
“We gotta move today, get this ‘house’ enclosed at the least, move the blankets, gather more food.”
“…I told you yesterday,” Joon said, looking offended. “Whatever, just…” He cut off, seemingly too wrapped up to finish his thought. Hobi left it there too, reaching down to grab a fresh bundle of sticks, yelping as Joon slapped his hand away. “You’re shadowing, remember? No working.” Joon lifted the sticks himself, throwing them in a pile. He grabbed a cigarette lighter one of the passengers had been holding on to, sparking it before lighting the wood. “I need to do this myself.”
After breakfast was made, Namjoon slid the cooked meat and fresh berries into the still open parting of their half-rock, half-stick hut. He then started walking away, Hobi managing to stay on his tail.
His eyes were still in a tired state, but it didn’t take long before Hobi noticed, “This isn’t the right way to get back.”
“It’s a faster way to get back,” Namjoon noted, shoving the branches away like they didn’t matter.
“If it’s faster, then why don’t we all go this…” Hoseok looked down at Namjoon’s legs as his companion hissed, scratching angrily at the reddening scars and cuts and bruises laying a map across his skin. Even his dirt-covered hands seemed stained with more than just dirt. “…way.”
“A little too risky,” Joon responded, pushing sharp vines away to make way for Hobi, pulling his foot out of it. It was like the first time Hobi was noticing any of these things, reaching a hand out to steady him as he wobbled. “Hobi,” he turned to Hoseok, warning him with his eyes. “No intervening, just watching.”
They continued down the dangerous and sharp path until Hobi saw the bushes and puddles that cut and dug into them and then the clearing where their tree sat with blankets and other soft things strewn around it, bodies included. But now those bodies were up and about, watching as Joon and Hobi approached. “Where were you?” Jimin asked, his voice soft as some of the sleep still resided in his body.
“Just making breakfast,” Joon answered, kicking Kookie’s back so he would get up. “I know it’s getting colder, I just wanted to make sure everyone got their warm or…” He looked over at Jin shivering against the tree. “Warm enough. Come on.”
Hobi, in his own slowly fading fatigue, had no idea that Namjoon had brought as many jackets as he could find from Fire Hill. He passed them out, Hobi just standing there cold and astonished at his friend’s initiative. Kookie, still not awake, was pulled to a sitting position by Joon. His eyes were still closed and mouth still ajar even then, Joon sighing as he realized he wouldn’t be getting up any time soon. He draped the skinny running jacket over Kookie’s shoulders and looked back at Hoseok, walking over to him. “Here.” He handed him his own purple, thin jacket that probably wouldn’t fit him, Hobi just looking up at him. His hand acted like the jacket was miles away, taking forever to get there. Hoseok knew there would be some defeat if he took it, and Namjoon knew it too, shoving the jacket in his hands rather than waiting for him to take it.
Namjoon gave, he didn’t wait for things to be well received.
“Can you please get Kookie up?” he asked of Hobi, and Hobi was quick to argue. “I thought I wasn’t supposed to help.”
“You’re not,” Joon said simply. “Unless I tell you to, as the leader.” He smiled sweetly before gathering the others now wrapped in cloth and ushered them to the trail to work on enclosing their mini-home. Hobi didn’t have an easy time getting Kookie up, trying to pick him up and then realizing it would be easier to just leave him there. Joon realized how badly Hobi was failing and went over to Kookie himself. “Allow me.” His foot dug about a centimeter under Jeongguk’s limp arm, remaining there as he stared down at the gentlemen. It wasn’t long before Kookie noticed the silence and peeked up at whoever it was. Seeing Namjoon there, he groaned but eventually got to his feet. Namjoon grabbed the jacket he had left on the ground and put it on the maknae’s shoulders as he stumbled after the others.
“Now what?” Hobi said, looking at Namjoon now as he watched them all go. “Now…” he answered, waiting for them to be out of sight before turning to the messy pile of sheets and blankets. “I gather these and move them.”
“You mean we?” Hobi tried to correct, even after Joon shook him off and got to work folding the sown, thick cloth. “No, Hobi, I mean me. You need to go up and help them finish the house before we all freeze to death tonight.”
Hoseok knew he shouldn’t have, but he couldn’t help but look at the challenge Joon had made for himself, seeing the large and ever-growing array of collected blankets, comforters, neck pillows, and other soft objects hidden in the suitcases…the large array that Joon was currently trying to tame. “Are you sure?” he asked despite knowing what the answer would be.
“Yes, Hobi, go.”
Hobi hesitated, but eventually did leave, doing good for about twenty seconds before he realized what he was doing.
Charging back down the path, Hobi began to angrily pick up blankets, not caring if they were folded or not. Joon straightened up, looking down at Hobi’s bent back as he collected things. Half of him wanted to roll his eyes and tell him to leave while the other “irrational” side of him wanted to smile and say “thank you.”
He didn’t say anything, that small sliver of indecision shining through as he just continued to fold and collect the sleeping material. With Hobi’s help, it was done twice as fast. Their hands were full on their way back, their minds too as both parties waited for the other to say something.
Hobi expected a “Thank you” from Joon but didn’t get it.
Joon expected an “I’m sorry” from Hobi but didn’t get it.
Expectation was one of those things they defied many times with each other.
Back on Fire Hill, there were more expectations to defy, specifically from Namjoon.
Hoseok’s would come later on, but in this moment Hobi could at least try to understand what made Joon react the way he did. They could hear the commotion down the hill easily, but the words hadn’t formed until they were on top, shocked to hear Jimin’s usually soft but now hostile voice clashing with Tae’s usually reserved but now assertive voice. Other voices were also in the mix, but none seemingly so different as those two.
“I told you, specifically, not to stack it like that!” Jimin yelled at Tae, Tae trying very hard to pretend that he didn’t care that he was being scolded.
“I told you that I didn’t hear you!” Tae said back, unaware of how loud he was being. “I was trying to do it quickly, why are you screaming!?”
“I’m not screaming!” Jimin screamed.
“Stop!” Yoongi yelled at Jin and Jeongguk as they tried to re-solidify the wall that had fallen. “You’re going to make it worse!”
“Do you have a better idea Yoongi?” Kookie asked sarcastically. When Yoongi remained red in the face and quiet, Kookie went on and said, “Yeah, I thought so.”
Hobi had to calm himself down after that, not expecting the screaming to be so close this time, only hearing it from a distance from Jimin, Yoongi, and the others. But now it was Namjoon’s turn to yell, to shout, to scream. They turned to him, the yelling stopping as they stiffened. Guilt-ridden faces looked at their—
—Hobi didn’t even think it, knowing as soon as he did it would be the end of their war.
It was all too quickly that Namjoon calmed down, taking a deep breath as he did. He nibbled the skin on his finger, thinking as he stared at the ground. “…I’m not going to ask what happened,” he said more to himself than to the others. “…Just please, try to fix it.”
Yoongi, the bravest of them all, told Namjoon the truth. “We will but…it won’t be done before—”
“—Sundown, I know,” Joon responded, dropping the blankets as he shut his eyes. “Just…get as much done as you can. I’m going to go look for more…blank—Okay, good. Make sure you guys eat.” He pointed to the already cold food around the fire that had barely been touched…barely been touched.
They went straight to work, Hobi noted, pondering it for a moment before realizing that Joon was already heading back down the trail.
“Wait, Joon, Joonie!” he called out, stepping out in front of him. Knowing what he would ask, Joon held his hands up and pursed his lips, stopping Hobi now in his tracks.
How quickly they could switch roles.
“Hope, I’m great.” Hobi looked on with concern. “No, really I am so so good! I’m…fine.” Hobi still looked doubtful. “No, really, I’m okay.” At that point, Joon just walked past him, Hobi following closely behind him.
The two entities rushed down the hill beside the waterfall towards the suitcase haul, Namjoon hoping there would be more blankets or jackets there to keep them warm in case their half-made structure failed them. They could hear the water falling right beside them on their left, Hobi feeling like if he honed in too much on the sound then he would forget he wasn’t fluid and tumble as the water did, willing to break every bone to feel that freedom. He had to consciously remember where the ground was, blocking the sound out. Joon didn’t have the same problem, rather he had to get out of his body to even keep moving and not—
“Namjoon!” Hobi called, rushing over to Joon as he skidding a little down the hill before halting in an unconscious mess.
Hobi turned him over, pulling his shoulder back to see his dirt-covered face, his mouth and eyelids barely ajar, only enough to see the thin white line of his eyeball and just a tease of his tongue. A strangled whine came out of him, his body just then relaxing from its constant uptight state. Hobi relaxed then too, getting to work.
It wasn’t until hours later that the tension pumped back into Joon’s body and he filled like a water balloon, doubling over and pushing all of the unneeded ease out with a sharp jolt of his stomach, vomiting below. Joon held himself, shivering as the warmth also left him and he was left in the bitter cold. It didn’t last long as the extra layer of cloth draped over his shoulders and tucked him in, Namjoon close to falling back into deep sleep.
But he didn’t, now too conscious of himself to be anything less. His eyes fell upon the figure before him, seeing Hoseok’s breath. The sun was no longer shining on their faces, that slither of warmth now stripped from their bodies and replaced with an endless cool, the old cool now straight up cold.
“What…What happened?” Joon breathed out, seeing his own breath as well. “Where are we?” Looking around he could tell that they were still in the forest, Namjoon with a distance memory of falling on his way down. He didn’t really need the answer, knowing exactly what had happened: He passed out at the worst possible moment.
“Crap,” he cursed, trying to get up.
“Oh absolutely not,” Hobi said, pushing him back down to the floor. Seeing all of the specific worries in his eyes, Hobi explained. “I went and got any more blankets and jackets that I could find at the pile site and sent them back to the Hill. The others got the collapsed wall back together and are working to finish it.” His friend dug into his coat pocket—still the purple one Joon had given him—and pulled out a kiwi. “Here.” He also brought out a half-full water bottle from behind his back. He didn’t let Namjoon reach up and take it, pressing the kiwi to Joon’s slightly parted lips. He let the fruit in and bit into it, chewing slowly as he still tried to process this. “Hobi…” He wasn’t really sure what to say, a panic having risen and risen and risen inside of him since they had landed on this island. It was gone now, surprisingly not interested in how angry he was for falling, for being too weak to keep going, for being too dumb to slow down, for Hoseok not waking him sooner.
Why? Why am I not mad?
Namjoon thought about that very question as he went—more so fell—into Hobi’s chest. He was unbelievably tired, too tired to argue and too tired to fight himself. Hoseok didn’t take long to wrap himself around him, pulling Joon in tighter. “I just…I just want to stay here fore—”
Namjoon couldn’t get enough air into his lungs to finish his sentence, lacking the regulation. He hadn’t had this much trouble breathing since back before the island. He remembered how scared he was. His doctor tried to prescribe him Quetiapine and he had an allergic reaction to the me…
“Oh my God…” Joon’s grip on Hobi loosened, or more so the other way around. He looked his friend in his frantic eyes. They realized what they realized at the same time, Joon reacting very differently than Hobi as Hobi tried to hold him tighter. “Oh my God!” Joon pushed him off, realizing how bad of an idea that was when he began to feel dizzy. “You…you drugged me?”
Hobi didn’t even deny it, the bottle of pills falling out of his pocket and onto the forest floor. Just looking at it, Joon felt sick to his stomach, like he was going to throw up a second time. “Joon, wait—”
“Hoseok!” Namjoon yelled, willing himself to his feet. “You put pills in my food and gave it to me! I-I don’t even remember eating anything!” He started walking away, Hobi remaining where he was until he could find a valid argument. “Namjoon…” Hoseok called, watching him with fear as he got farther away. He finally got up and followed. “Namjoon, hey!”
“Namjoon, hey! Come on!”
Namjoon was pulled up against his will towards the swing from his comfortable sitting position on the playground set.
Hoseok sat on the swing set and started its back and forth motion on his own, urging Namjoon with his eyes to push him. Joon sulked as he did, getting behind his friend and pushing him forward.
Namjoon kept thinking about what the swing seat would feel like under his own butt.
He was high already, Namjoon realized, his small body now blocking the sun.
He was almost there, Namjoon could feel it. It was almost as if his own butt was slipping from the rubber seat.
“Higher! Higher! We’re about to fly Namjoonie!”
No, Namjoon thought. You’re about to fly…
“…Without me.” Namjoon didn’t move in time before the swing came back down to hit him in the jaw, making his tongue bleed as he stumbled and fell apart. “Joonie!” Hoseok called, jumping off the swing and landing. He ran over to his friend, holding his hand. “Are you okay?”
Namjoon just nodded, knowing if he opened his mouth too wide and Hobi saw the blood, he would run and tell the teacher. “Just…” Namjoon stood up by himself, without Hobi’s support, without Hobi. “…fly on your own.”
Namjoon walked away and never came back to the swing sets.
The memory haunted Hoseok, but he had to shake it off…resolve it…or nothing would ever get done on the island.
He caught up to Namjoon a lot faster now that he had a reason to, a drive in his bones that made him want to…it also helped that the drugs were still in effect as Joon wobbled away. His legs gave out very quickly, collapsing back onto his knees as he breathed, wishing there was more in him to vomit.
“Joon,” Hobi repeated, falling in front of him. “Please listen to me, I never meant to hurt you.”
“Then why didn’t you let me swing!?” Hobi, realizing that Joon was bringing up the memory, had a quick defense.
“Joon, you never asked me,” he argued back.
Namjoon shook it off. “I shouldn’t have to ask my friend to push me on the swing. Admit it, it didn’t matter what I would say back then. ‘Hobi, let’s go down the swing.’ ‘Hobi, let’s play on the monkey bars.’ ‘Hobi, let’s go play with Jin.’ No, it was always about you and those stupid swings! I was never part of that!”
“Don’t be so over-dramatic, it’s a swing set for ten-year-olds!” Hobi yelled back, sure now that the others could hear them from this far away. “Why did I have to be the one to tell you what to do—!?”
“BECAUSE OF WHAT JUST HAPPENED.” Now Hobi was sure the others could hear those words perfectly. Namjoon felt more energy leave his body, wondering exactly what Hoseok had given to him. “Hope, you literally just drugged me so I would stop working as much, or at least that’s what I assume you were thinking. You…you play with my head and make me calm when I shouldn’t be, Hobi you’re the problem!”
Hoseok was the king at not responding right away, Joon surprised at how much time he took to think up what he considered stupid ideas. “I’m not trying to be.” He took his right hand and pulled at his hair, scratching the dirt away. “I just don’t want you to hurt as much…as I do.” His breath at the end fell off quickly, no more air coming through his nose or mouth to regulate himself. His arms ached as they hugged his body, wanting so badly to touch another, to console another, to be consoled. “I…need you,” Hobi’s octave dropped as well, his body was the only thing left to go. “Because I don’t know what my role is without it. I’m not supposed to feel this awful all the time I just want to feel…God!” Hobi took the pills out. “Why do we have to be side when pills make us happy?” Hoseok’s arm moved suddenly. Namjoon blinked at the thrown bottle, still twitching since it was in his viewpoint still. He knew Hobi was making a point, but he also wished he had made a farther one. “Just be happy!” In the end, that was all he really asked of him.
And Namjoon wanted to give him that…but he couldn’t give him everything. “Hobi,” he started, picking out the right words. He looked at the sky and sighed inwardly, biting his nail. “That’s not that easy for me. I can’t just be happy because my dopamine levels are stimulated…and I can’t just be happy because you tell me to.” Hobi nodded like a scolded student for a terrible paper. “…But you calm me down,” Joon admitted, thinking back to that first night on the wing when they crashed. “You really calm me down.” Namjoon half-walked, half-stumbled over to Hoseok, pulling him into a tight hug. “And I hope that makes you happy.” Hope smiled a bit, gripping him back.
It did make him happy.
“Namjoon!” Jimin ran up to him eagerly, Joon impressed at how much of the hut they had fixed. Jimin was wearing three different jackets, puffing him out as he touched Joon’s arm. “Are you feeling better? Hobi said you went on a walk?”
Joon wanted so badly to tell him what actually happened, to leave him and the others with whatever stigma be could build against Hoseok, but…
“Yeah, I’m better,” he answered simply, the others crawling out of the fat opening they had left in the tube-like hut. “Guys, if you have any other disputes or fights or personal problems…” It pained him so much to say. “Go to Hobi instead of me. I think it’s important to…dilute certain responsibilities.” He nodded for about three solid seconds, trying to accept it himself. No one said anything, expecting him to say more. “Now let’s get inside before we freeze to death.”
They got moving, Hobi and Joon the last to crawl in. The wind howled outside of their little home, Joon relieved that the heat stayed in and didn’t flow out. They were situated at the end, farthest from the opening, blankets draped over their skin. Hearts lowering and minds growing unconscious, Hobi spoke softly to the taller body lying next to him. They weren’t in their usual circle anymore, but a straight uptight line; body-to-body. “Again, I’m sorry about what happened.”
Namjoon’s eyes were closed, but his mind was still conscious and his heart was still pounding. He had slept long enough. “I forgive you,” he replied, his own voice soft. “Just…” Joon’s hot breath made Hobi’s cheek warm up from the cold. “…Don’t drug me again, okay?”
Hoseok tried to remain as still as possible as he pushed the pill bottle into his jacket’s pocket, out of sight, but still in mind.
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