Again, like clockwork, pages of a diary flipping back over to the start of the entry.
The first trip brings back nothing. Neither do the second, third or fourth ones. At the thirteenth, one week on, he's more dead than alive. Not that he'd admit it.
"You've got to take a break," Hoseok croaks. Jungkook resurfaced at two forty seven in the morning, and now he's strapping back in after a glass of orange juice and a biscuit.
"Sure," Jungkook smiles at him, but they're both tired. Some days it feels like his blood's reduced to oxidized sludge that needs flat escalators to get to his stupid, slow heart. Pump, release. Pump, release. "Maybe another time."
Hoseok blinks, expression showing he's barely registering a pixel right now. "Jungkook," he protests, half a minute late, but Jungkook's already pressed the tip of the syringe to his wrist and turned the dial.
The fourteenth trip starts out the same. He'd say he has a feeling that this time he'll work it out, but then he gets that feeling every time. It's okay, though, it doesn't matter right now.
Jimin used to tell him the reason he got so good at math in middle school was because his father would make him go through the entire's year worth of workbooks at least thrice during the summer. Just over and over again. He didn't care if Jimin made mistakes. "The point was the concept," Jimin said. "Enough practise and I'd practically absorb the concept. And then I'd be able to recognize and apply that abstract shit anywhere it was possible to recognize and apply it. It didn't matter then, see, it mattered in the big picture. Long run."
Yeah, that. It's okay if it's the fourteenth and that with what he's got so far to show for it he may as well have been on the zeroth. He's got to look at the big picture.
The concept is the point. The grandfather clock ticks in the living room, and the living room he's in is in the same state of ruin after a panicked escape attempt that he leaves it in. Or maybe it had been a fight. Post-fight. The carpet gives under his bare feet. He'd stopped berating himself on the not having woken up just one minute earlier by the seventh visit, if only because Yoongi had drilled into him how their supplies wouldn't last for fucking ever and they were running on limited time.
Yoongi probably also meant to add that their already running of time was also something to consider. Just a brilliant glowing thought. Another take on the shitty reality of things. But he'd held his tongue, and Jungkook's pretty damn grateful. Saved maybe eight hours of them going at each other's asses. They'd done it before, although the problem had been considerably more trivial before. Maybe laughing gas, or Hoseok's pills. Jungkook doesn't remember now, doesn't care.
Get a hold of the concept tight enough, and he could apply it anywhere. Jimin's always been better at finding, though, something whispers, like the nasty little voice in his head that it is.
"Fuck Jimin," Jungkook says, under his breath. He's in the doorway of the kitchen, and he remembers arguing with Taehyung here over some shopping trip. Or getting Namjoon a booger green dildo for his birthday. Something, no doubt, and Taehyung had brought Jimin up, and Jungkook had said, fuck Jimin, and Taehyung had started laughing. Jungkook didn't know what at, until Jimin nudged Jungkook's shoulder with his chin and leered, that's the idea, and Jungkook could not stand either of them so he went to the bathroom. Resolutely did not jack one off because he was almost twenty, which was six years on from fourteen, which is the only acceptable age to beat it at such slight provocation.
"Yeah," Jungkook says now, hoarse and a little angry, but absentminded for the most part. He's just talking to himself, some semblance of company as he tries to comb through this cesspool for a sign, some hellforsaken hint. "That's always the idea, but you're taking your time showing up at the moment."
Then he chances to look out the kitchen window. Curses. First time in fourteen tries, now he looks out the damn window.
There's nothing but a line of trees in the backyard, and they're right out by the kitchen. Jimin likes the rustling and the stray leaves that fall on the tap's head and float near the drain. No one else does.
Jungkook sees the branches shaking. There's no wind. He makes a frantic leap, bracing his knees against the sink and forcing his head and arms out the window. Looks ahead, sees nothing, looks down. A scratch in the dirt, a fresh, wavering line. A rope just slithering out of sight, like a snake's tail.
Then he hears the grandfather clock ticking from the living room, louder and louder. No, he thinks. Not just when I -
"That's it," Hoseok's voice is considerably more awake than last time. "I've turned the damn machine off now that your ride's over."
Jungkook sits up, groggy and out of focus.
"What d'you think, huh?" Hoseok says, pitch getting strained and frustrated. "I can keep making more drips twenty four seven? The process takes a second? Machine's not gonna go in overdrive, melt into itself and leave you dead forever?"
Jungkook shakes his head. Dog out of water. Everything's shifting together and he's starting to feel cold.
"Look at you," Hoseok sighs, and Jungkook finally squints up at him. "Dead on your ass. What, you think I'm gonna throw you out there again in a minute? Gonna lose you, too?"
His neck aches. He wants to tell Hoseok Jimin isn't lost, but then Hoseok will just smile and say, oh, yes, he isn't lost, he's missing, and that's a very big difference. He won't mean a single word and it'll just make everything more rancid than it already is. Fine. So he won't. But his neck aches. Maybe he really should pay attention to those pamphlets Yoongi keeps shoving onto his desk. Economy? Ergonomy? Ergonomics? Jungkook hunches his shoulders and stretches his legs.
"Listen to me," Hoseok says. "You shitty mule."
"Hey," Jungkook gets off the chair, wincing a little. "No, I'm listening. Just."
"Tried to talk to Taehyung last and he said yeah, but, and now you're saying no, just." Hoseok makes his way over, doesn't bother completing his point. There's a freezing hand on Jungkook's forehead, and a hiss. "Told you. You, Yoongi, but who's gonna fuckin' - "
"I'll be okay," Jungkook sighs, but his breath is hot in his own mouth and man, suddenly his knees don't feel so good. Knees, stomach. Thighs shaking and his calves not working. "Not gonna go back for a bit," he promises, trying to go for reassuring. Hoseok's hand on his back, now. "Figured something, almost. Gotta check th', th' trees, hyung. Y'know. Th' dirt." Things getting dim, his ears ringing. He stumbles, brain starting to go beddy bye.
"The point was the concept," Jimin's saying, in his head. And Jungkook's really trying, he's trying hard, maybe not his best, if it was his best he'd be getting results, if this was his best Jimin would be back and -
The point maybe for Jimin was the concept. But Jungkook's starting scratch. Jungkook's point is, what is the fucking concept in the first place.
Time, he thinks, curling in on himself. Hoseok shushes him somewhere far away, vaguely consoling. Need more time.
"That's the idea," Jimin laughs in his ear, before it's lights out and he hits a bed and the only words his mind can dredge up are, Miss you. More time.
tagging laughingvirus~! you're next <3