His eyes shot open as he sat up in bed, his head pounding. As his fingers reached to massage his aching temples, the beeping of machines caught his attention. His eyes widened as he scanned the room, the strong scent of antiseptics reaching his nostrils. Where was he?
He opened the bottle and popped a handful of pills in his mouth.
He groaned as pain radiated through his skull.
Alcohol burned his throat as he swallowed the bitter liquid down.
He swung his legs off the bed, his eyes screwed shut.
His vision blurred, drowsiness clouding his mind.
“Ugh. Please stop,” he whispered, clutching his head.
A distant cry echoed in his ears. He felt hands on him, and everything went black.
“Just stop,” he cried. His eyes flew open when he heard a bitter chuckle. Before him stood a pale man with a round-shaped face, thickset brows and dark eyes fixed on something behind him. Curious, he shifted his gaze in the same direction and let out a horrified gasp.
On the bed was a lifeless body covered with a pure white sheet. Tubes traveled up his nose, and multiple wires were attached all over him.
His own body lay there before him. He froze as he stared at his body in disbelief, his mouth slightly open, his heart pounding against his chest. What is happening? he thought. Why am I lying there? What the heck is going on?
“This is what you wanted, isn’t it?” the stranger asked through gritted teeth, snapping him out of his thoughts. He whirled around to face the shorter male, who chuckled bitterly. “The alcohol. The pills. The choice to give up and end your pain. Sounds familiar, Taehyung?” the man asked, a hint of disappointment in his voice.
Someone was screaming his name. He felt hands on him, a voice begging him to open his eyes.
Taehyung let out a pained cry, stumbling backward as pain shot through his skull.
The feeling of not being good enough, of being a burden to everyone around. The longing for it all to end.
“Make it stop,” he cried, clutching his head in his hands.
The alcohol burning his throat. The pills in his hand. The letter he left. The tears he shed. His parents. His sister.
A sob left his lips as he sank to the floor, tears blurring his vision. “A-Am I dead?”
“Not yet,” the man replied, his gaze softening. “You’re in a coma.”
“W-What are you?”
“I’m Min Yoongi. . . a lost soul.”
“A lost soul?” Taehyung asked, swallowing a lump in his throat and looking up at Yoongi with teary eyes.
“Each of us has a certain life period we are supposed to complete. Messing with that period leaves your soul stranded here on earth till it is complete,” Yoongi explained with a small sigh before shifting his gaze to the window.
“What happened to you, Yoongi?”
“Call me Hyung. I took my life a few years back.”
Yoongi’s eyes met his, and Taehyung was taken aback to see the amount of pain in them. “Why are you here, Hyung?”
“To stop you from making the same mistake I made. You still have a choice, Taehyung. Look at me. Is this what you want? To become a disturbed soul like me?”
Taehyung looked away, unable to see the pain in Yoongi’s eyes and fixing his gaze to the cold floor instead. “I just want peace.”
“There’s no peace here. Look at me. Is this your definition of peace? I know you see the pain in my eyes. This is nothing but torture.”
“Hyung, I can’t. . . I don’t want to live. I chose this. I’m not good enough. I’ll never be good enough. I’m just a waste of space,” Taehyung cried, wrapping his arms around his knees.
“Taehyung, listen to m—”
“No, Hyung. You don’t understand. I feel like I’m drowning. I feel so suffocated all the time. I feel like a burden to everyone around me. I—”
“Taehyung, stop and think. Think of your parents who raised you, your friends who love you. Think of the pain they’ll feel if you give up today,” Yoongi pleaded.
“They’ll cry for a day or a week, but they’ll be fine. No more will they have to deal with someone like me.”
“Do you even hear yourself right now? How selfish can you get? Is this how you repay your parents for all they’ve done for you over the years? Your mother spent nine months eagerly waiting for your arrival. Your father would probably have announced your arrival to the entire world if it were possible.” Yoongi growled, grabbed Taehyung by the arms and shrugged them to look him straight in the eyes.
Taehyung sobbed. “I was a mistake. Please, I—Don’t make me go back there. I can’t. It hurts too much.”
“I understand what you feel. I’ve been there myself. But trust me when I say that this pain only intensifies here. There’s no peace. Unlike me, you still have a choice. Make the right one, or you’re going to spend the rest of your life in regret like me.”
Taehyung shook his head violently, tears pouring down his cheeks. “I can’t go back. I can’t live. I’ve made my choice. I’ve chosen to leave all this behind,” he gasped out, pain shooting through his chest.
Yoongi’s eyes widened as he grabbed the boy by his arm. “Taehyung. Don’t say that.”
“Hyung, I-I can’t do this anymore. Please just—”
“STOP,” Yoongi shouted, breathing heavily and Taehyung saw fear in his eyes.
“Don’t speak. Don’t say a word. Just listen to what I have to say,” Yoongi pleaded, his voice shaky. Taehyung nodded slightly. “The choice is all yours. Whatever choice you make I will not stop you. But first, you have to come with me. There’s something I want you to see. After that, you make your decision. Am I clear?”
Taehyung stared at him for a few seconds before nodding. Yoongi’s chest tightened, and he closed his eyes, taking a deep breath.
Fifteen minutes later, Taehyung found himself walking beside Yoongi in a park, cherry blossoms on either side of the footpath, but Taehyung’s mind kept replaying the scene he came across as he walked through the hallway of the hospital with Yoongi.
His mother’s face was swollen as she begged the doctors to save her son. His father’s eyes were bloodshot as he held her, unable to speak. His sister seemed to be staring at the wall, her eyes stripped of all emotions. Jimin, his soulmate and best bud, stood there, sobs wracking his frame, and in his hands was a piece of paper. Taehyung’s suicide note.
Yoongi suddenly came to a stop, and Taehyung stared at him, waiting for him to say something. But Yoongi remained silent, his gaze fixed on the swings.
Yoongi outstretched his arm towards him. “I’ll show you. Hold my hand.”
Without another word, Taehyung placed his hand in Yoongi’s. Yoongi let his eyes fall shut, and Taehyung felt a warm sensation spread through his body. A translucent figure appeared before him. Taehyung realized the figure was none other than Yoongi. He turned to stare at Yoongi with a look of bewilderment.
“My memories,” Yoongi whispered, his eyes refusing to look away from the translucent scene playing before him. Another male appeared beside the translucent Yoongi, a heart-shaped smile lighting up his face. He looked beautiful. The affection and love in his eyes warmed Taehyung’s heart.
“Hoseok,” Yoongi whispered, fondly.
“He looks angelic,” Taehyung said.
Hoseok’s laughter echoed in Taehyung’s ears, and he couldn’t help but smile. The fondness in Yoongi’s eyes as he watched the memory almost made him tear up.
Yoongi flashed him a gummy smile, shaking his head slightly at his boyfriend’s childish behavior.
“Hyung, come on. Give me a push. Please.” Hoseok pouted as he sat on the swing.
“These swings are meant for children, not adults,” Yoongi pointed out, and Hoseok whined.
“Yoongi, I’m still a kid at heart, you know?”
“Of course I know. I’m the one dating a kid after all,” Yoongi said as he walked towards Hoseok.
Taehyung’s eyes widened. Hoseok was Yoongi’s boyfriend?
“You make it sound like it’s a bad thing,” Hoseok cried, pouting.
Yoongi chuckled. “It’s not. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. You’re my little ball of energy.”
“And you say I’m cheesy.” Hoseok laughed.
“You are. I’m just honest,” Yoongi retorted with a smirk and Hoseok playfully punched his arm.
“You guys made a cute couple,” Taehyung said. Yoongi turned towards him, tears in the corners of his eyes, his grip on Taehyung’s hand tightening.
“Hyung,” Hoseok whined, pouncing on Yoongi’s back. Yoongi let out an “oof” at the sudden added weight.
Yoongi chuckled. “Hoseok was literally a kid at heart. He was the most energetic person I’d ever met. What caused him to fall in love with me is something I’ll never know.”
“What are you doing?”
“I don’t want to walk. I want a piggyback ride.”
“A piggyback ride? What are you? Five?” Yoongi shook his head fondly.
“No, your boyfriend.” Hoseok laughed, and Yoongi couldn’t help but smile.
“Exactly. I’m your boyfriend. Not your babysitter.”
Taehyung chuckled. Yoongi looked so young, so happy, his gummy smile lighting up his face whenever Hoseok did something silly. It was cute.
“My parents were never there for me, never supported me, but Hoseok did. I suffered from depression, but Hoseok. . . he was my happy pill. He was always there for me when I needed him. I felt like I wasn’t good enough for him. I felt like he deserved better, not someone who burdened him,” Yoongi began, as he watched the memory of Hoseok kissing him under a cherry blossom.
“Hyung,” Taehyung whispered, his face falling as he saw Yoongi’s face.
“I made a choice. I thought by doing so, Hoseok could finally move on and find someone better. If only I knew,” Yoongi said as he let go of Taehyung’s hand. The memories around them faded.
They walked down the street in silence. Taehyung didn’t know where they were heading but there was something that kept bothering him: Where was Hoseok now?
Yoongi stopped in front of a small house and walked through the wall, Taehyung close behind.
“This was our home,” Yoongi said, his face falling at the sight of cobwebs at every corner, the furniture lined with a thick layer of dust. A dusty photograph of Yoongi and Hoseok sharing a kiss, a Christmas tree in the background, little stockings lined near the fireplace. Yoongi reached up to wipe the dust off the photo frame, but his hand passed right through it. Taehyung felt his heart clench as Yoongi let out a bitter chuckle. “I can be so stupid at times.”
“You’re not, Hyung,” Taehyung protested, frowning slightly.
Yoongi turned to Taehyung, his eyes stinging slightly as he reached forward to take his hand. At the contact, Taehyung shifted his gaze to look straight into Yoongi’s tear-filled ones.
“I want you to see this. As much as I hate this memory, I need you to see it.”
Taehyung felt his heart pounding against his chest as he felt the familiar warm sensation spread through his body. A translucent figure appeared, and Taehyung let out a horrified cry, his eyes widening as he stared at the scene before him in horror.
Hanging from the ceiling was Yoongi’s lifeless body.
“I’m home,” a voice called as the door creaked open, and in walked Hoseok, unaware of the gruesome scene that awaited him.
“I made a cowardly decision to end my life because I was too afraid, too insecure. I was blinded by my pain and wasn’t thinking rationally,” Yoongi said.
Taehyung’s heart pounded as Hoseok came into view.
“Yoongi-Hyung, I ordered pizza. It should be here soon. Let’s have a movie marath—” Hoseok trailed off, quickly paling as his eyes landed on the lifeless body before him. A blood-curdling scream escaped his lips.
Taehyung’s heart clenched as Hoseok frantically try to free Yoongi’s body, before lowering him to the ground. He watched with teary eyes as Hoseok started shaking Yoongi violently, begging and screaming for him to wake up.
“Yoongi, Y-Yoongi, please. Please, baby, please. Open your eyes for m-me. Please don’t leave me. Yoongi, please.”
Taehyung wanted Yoongi to wake up and say it was some kind of sick prank, anything that would comfort the grieving boy, although he knew it was highly impossible.
Hoseok held Yoongi’s head in his lap and cupped his face, his tears falling on Yoongi’s pale skin. He completely fell apart in a matter of seconds.
Unable to bear it anymore, Taehyung pulled his hand away, and the memory disappeared. Yoongi’s body was shaking with silent sobs, so Taehyung pulled him into a hug, allowing him to cry into his shoulder. They stayed like that for a few seconds before Yoongi pulled away, his eyes bloodshot, his cheeks and nose pink.
“I thought the same thing you did. That he’d cry for a day, a week, a month, and then he’d be fine. I thought h-he’d move on,” Yoongi choked out, breathing shakily. “Let’s go.”
Taehyung blinked back tears, refusing to break down. “Where?”
* * *
As Taehyung looked at the tombstone before him, his heart felt heavy, strange. He’d just met Yoongi a few hours ago, yet seeing his name engraved on the stone made his heart clench.
“Hold my hand, Taehyung,” Yoongi said, his voice a bit hoarse.
Maybe it was the pain in Yoongi’s eyes or the desperation in his tone that caused Taehyung to trust him. Placing his hand in Yoongi’s, he watched Hoseok enter the graveyard.
Taehyung’s face fell at the state Hoseok was in. His eyes were bloodshot, and his face was sunken in. He looked as though he hadn’t slept in years.
“This was four months after my funeral,” Yoongi whispered, his lower lip trembling slightly.
Gone was the beautiful heart-shaped smile that once lit Hoseok’s face. There was no sign of the little energetic ball he once was. Taehyung bit his lip and blinked back tears that threatened to fall.
Hoseok fell to his knees before Yoongi’s grave and hugged the tombstone, tears streaming down his face. “Yoongi. C-can you hear m-me? C-come back please, baby. My heart is aching so bad. I miss you. I can’t live like this. You were my hope. You were the one who kept me afloat. And now, you’re gone.”
Yoongi harshly rubbed the tears away with the back of his hand. Hoseok’s pain-filled sobs echoed in Taehyung’s ears.
“Do you know what it’s like, Taehyung? Watching someone you love fall apart in front of your eyes, unable to hold them or comfort them or tell them you’re here?”
Taehyung couldn’t speak as he watched Hoseok rock himself while he sobbed against the stone. He felt a tug in his chest. “W-Where is he now?” he asked.
Yoongi let out a shaky breath. “I’ll show you.”
* * *
Taehyung’s eyes took in the building before him before he stared at Yoongi in disbelief. “T-This is—”
“A mental institution, yes,” Yoongi finished.
Yoongi held Taehyung’s hand and led him through the passageway. Taehyung caught sight of a man sitting, staring out the window. His face was pale and sunken in, and his fingers played with the hem of his shirt. Taehyung watched, his heart pounding, as Yoongi walked towards the man.
No. No. No. That cannot be.
“Don’t you remember him? He’s Hoseok,” Yoongi whispered, tears rolling down his cheeks.
Taehyung shook his head slightly, not willing to believe the man before him was the same man whose laughter was contagious, whose smile lit up the entire world, whose energy was equivalent to that of a child.
“Look at him, Taehyung. I did this to him. I made a choice. I took away his smile. I took away the life he had. Because as much as he was my hope, I was his and I never realized that. I watched him every day, watched him scream himself hoarse, watched him beg me to come back, watched him shatter right in front of my eyes. I couldn’t hold him. I couldn’t help him. And there’s no one else to blame but me,” Yoongi said, his voice gradually getting louder.
A tear slipped down Taehyung’s cheek. The pain was unbearable, but he swallowed the fist-sized lump in his throat. He wanted to comfort Yoongi, but what could he say? So he watched him breakdown as he reached to hold Hoseok’s hand only for it to pass right through. Taehyung looked away as Yoongi’s heartbroken sobs filled his ears.
“You have a choice that I didn’t have. When I chose to give up, that was it for me. But you, you have a decision to make. You can choose to give up or live on. Look at me. Look at Hoseok. It doesn’t just affect you. It affects everyone who loves you. Hoseok couldn’t cope with the pain, and look where he is now. My beautiful angel has forgotten how to smile,” Yoongi said in a hoarse voice. Taehyung squeezed his eyes shut, his heart clenching painfully. “We are so blinded by our pain that we forget to think of the people who love us. You don’t know the amount of value you hold. You don’t know how important you are till it’s too late. I’m asking you, Taehyung, to stop and think. Think of your parents, your friends. Giving up is the birth of regret. Nothing good ever comes from it.”
Taehyung looked straight into Yoongi’s pain-filled eyes, and his face crumpled. Harsh sobs wracked his frame as he rushed forward and buried himself in his chest.
Yoongi reached his hand and placed it on Taehyung’s back, rubbing comforting circles. “I know you’re scared. I know you’re hurting. But I promise you, your pain won’t last forever. If you give up now, you will hurt everyone. You’ll leave a void in their hearts, one that will never heal. Is that what you want? Or will you choose to live for those you love?”
“I-I’ll do i-it,” Taehyung cried, face still buried in Yoongi’s chest, and he heard Yoongi let out a relieved sigh.
Pulling away, Yoongi wiped away his tears. “Hush now. Don’t cry.”
“Hyung, one day you’ll meet Hoseok again,” Taehyung said softly, but Yoongi’s face only fell.
“I wish,” he said bitterly, and Taehyung frowned. “There’s no paradise for disturbed souls. Once our life period is complete, we’ll fade away as if we never existed in the first place. My Hobi will be in paradise, but I won’t be able to meet him.”
Taehyung’s heart fell. What was he supposed to say? How was he supposed to comfort him?
Yoongi gave him a watery smile. “It’s alright. I made the choice and now, I’m facing the consequences. Taehyung, it’s time for you to go. Your family is worried about you. I don’t want to see you here ever again. Am I clear? You, Taehyung, are going to die as an old man in bed when your life period is complete. You hear me?” Yoongi’s gaze shifted to Hoseok, who whispered Yoongi’s name in disbelief before wailing. A nurse rushed in and sat beside the boy, trying to comfort him. Yoongi took in a shaky breath, his eyes red as he turned to face Taehyung. “Taehyung, it’s time.”
Taehyung nodded and reached forward, his arms wrapping around Yoongi’s as he choked on his sobs. “I don’t know what to say. I’m going to miss you. I love you, Hyung.”
Yoongi chuckled weakly, wrapping his arms around Taehyung. “Yeah, yeah. I love you, too.” Taehyung felt a tug in his chest as Yoongi pulled away. “I’ll be watching you, kiddo. Go and make me proud.”
Taehyung tried to hold Yoongi but his body began to fade, his vision blurred, and everything went black.
* * *
The beeping of monitors pierced his ears as he came to. He felt a hand holding his and squeezed slightly. A cry of relief echoed in the hospital room. Taehyung’s eyes fluttered open to meet his mother’s bloodshot ones.
A sob escaped her throat as she pulled the boy into her arms, her fingers ruffling his hair. Her tears drenched the material of his shirt, and he closed his eyes, soaking in the comfort.
“Thank you so much, Dr. Kim,” he heard his father say, but he didn’t look up. He felt another pair of strong arms wrap around him.
“What happened to soulmates sticking together till the end?” a hoarse voice whispered, and Taehyung’s eyes flew open to look at Jimin. His eyes were red, his nose pink as he brushed the strands of stray hair and tucked it behind Taehyung’s ear. “I—Have I not been a good friend?” Jimin asked, his eyes welling up.
Taehyung shook his head immediately. “The exact opposite. I haven’t been a good friend.”
Jimin rubbed Taehyung’s back and kissed his forehead. “Never again. Please.”
“I promise.” Taehyung scanned the room and spotted his little sister, sobbing into her hands. Jimin looked in the direction of Taehyung’s gaze, and his eyes softened. Walking over to her, he pulled the girl into his arms, kissing the top of her head and whispering words of comfort in her ears.
Taehyung felt his eyes sting. He couldn’t believe how selfish he’d been. Looking at his family in such pain made his heart clench. If it wasn’t for Yoongi, he’d probably have ended up a disturbed soul. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he buried himself in his parents’ embrace. His emotions were all over the place. He looked over to the corner of the room where he first saw Yoongi, his heart clenching as he longed to see him again. But he knew that Yoongi was watching him, and he was determined to make him proud.
Thank you, Hyung.
* * *
A Month Later
“Hoseok-Hyung. There’s someone here to see you,” a dark-haired nurse announced, flashing the man a bunny smile, his doe eyes watching the unresponsive male before shifting his gaze to the man standing at the doorway. “Come on in.”
“Hoseok-Hyung, Kim Taehyung is here to meet you. Aren’t you gonna say hi?” the nurse asked, running his fingers through Hoseok’s hair. Hoseok remained silent, his eyes gazing at the view outside the little window. The nurse sighed as he turned to Taehyung. “I’m sorry—”
“It’s alright, Jungkook. Could you give us a moment please?”
Jungkook nodded, giving the man a small smile before leaving. Taehyung knelt before Hoseok.
“Hoseok-Hyung, I know you don’t know me. I didn’t either till I met Yoongi-Hyung.”
“Yoongi,” Hoseok whispered, his eyes widening slightly. “My Yoongi?”
“Yes, Hyung. Your Yoongi.”
“Where?” Hoseok asked like a curious little kid.
Taehyung swallowed the lump in his throat as he took Hoseok’s hand in his, rubbing soothing circles onto his skin with his thumb. “He’s right here, Hyung,” he said softly, pointing to Hoseok’s heart.
“Here?” Hoseok asked in wonder as he mimicked Taehyung’s actions, pointing to his chest.
“He loves you, Hyung. He’s right here watching you. He never left your side.”
A small smile spread across Hoseok’s face as he squeezed Taehyung’s hand back. “Hobi loves Yoongi, too. Always did, always will,” he whispered, his lower lip trembling. Taehyung reached forward, pulling Hoseok into his arms, rocking him gently.
Unknown to the two, a pair of teary brown eyes watched them, a sense of pride filling him. “Always.”