Bad habit.

The Selfishness of Our Hearts.

Jonghyun had been slouched in front of the TV for days now. Not that he was paying attention to what was going on the screen; he only needed the noise. His boyfriend barely around anymore, this was his only distraction. It had been the easiest choice, but definitely not the best. It hadn’t stopped his mind from wandering in places he wished it wouldn’t go.

The truth was that as much as he was mad at his parents, he couldn’t bring himself to just hate them. The thing he had most wanted in his life was to fix things with them which was why he had agreed to give them a second chance given the opportunity. But being rejected for a second time was devastating. Despite himself, he had cried several times and found himself back to a low which he hadn’t experienced in years.

So as he carelessly went through the channels, all that was going through his mind was self-hatred. He hated himself for being the way he was, for disappointing his parents and for letting himself go because of that. He hated himself for being so weak. 

An hour later, he was still in the same spot, but his restless mind had numbed down due to drowsiness. He was half asleep when the front door opened. The noise found his ears and he shifted into a more straightened posture.

Key walked into the living room and stopped at the sight of him. ‘Again?’ he sighed.

‘There are some really interesting programs at this hour,’ Jonghyun explained nonchalantly. He knew his boyfriend wouldn’t buy it, but he wasn’t going to talk about the real issue.

‘Seriously, Jjong?’ Key crossed his arms. ‘You’ve been sitting in front of that damn television for days now and I know it’s because something happened so you better tell me what it is now,’ he snarled.

Jonghyun just stared at him, considering whether or not he should open up.

‘Nothing happened,’ he finally said, directing his gaze back to the screen. He hated lying, but he didn’t want to talk about it nor add to the other one’s problems.

‘You are so frustrating sometimes,’ Key huffed.

Jonghyun didn’t answer. His hand was wrapped around the remote control as he increased the volume. Unfortunately that didn’t save him. A few seconds later, the voices were silenced. Key had taken the remote from him to turn the television off.

‘How dare you try to ignore me?’ he exclaimed with rage.

A sigh left the older one’s lips. ‘Kibum, just let it go please,’ he pleaded.

‘Oh right, because nothing happened...’ Key scoffed.

‘Exactly,’ he retorted.

‘What the , Jjong?’ His anger was palpable. ‘We’ve never hidden things from each other. Since when did that change?’

Jonghyun suddenly felt guilty. ‘I’m sorry,’ he just said.

‘But you’re not going to tell me what’s going on,’ Key concluded.

 Silence confirmed his assumption.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The house was silent, except for the faint sound of a liquid being poured. Jonghyun was at his fifth drink of the night. With a hand around his glass and the other around the bottle, he felt a little less alone. Alcohol was his friend tonight, just like it had been many times before when he knew of no other way to cope.  At least that had changed for some time when he had met Key, but the catastrophic reunion with his parents had triggered his bad habit. He needed to numb the pain.

And he did as every sip he took brought him closer to a mellow state. No matter what ran through his mind now, there was no feeling. No pain, no joy, nothing and it felt good. So he kept pouring and he kept drinking until it made his head swim and his surroundings started to blur. The bottle was almost empty when he heard his phone ring.

His clumsy hand dropped it once before he could finally answer the call. ‘Hellloooo?’ he trailed.

‘Hey,’ a soft voice said.

Jonghyun smiled. ‘Jinkiiii,’ he voiced in the same tone.

‘Are you okay?’ the blonde asked.

‘Yeeess, I’m to-totally fiiiine.’ A laugh escaped his lips.

‘You sound drunk.’

‘Ooooh nooo,’ he mocked.

‘Where’s Kibum?’

‘He.... left...’ Jonghyun slowly uttered.

 ‘Left? What do you mean?’ Jinki asked, sounding a little panicky.

 Jonghyun closed his eyes and sighed. ‘I don’t know...’

Noticing how far gone the other one was, Jinki knew he wouldn’t get a clear answer.

‘Don’t move. I’m coming,’ he simply said before hanging up.

Jonghyun stayed on the line a few more seconds, confused. He finally let his hand drop to his side, releasing at the same time the cell phone from his grip. He rubbed his eyes, suddenly feeling weary.  

Eyes half closed, he barely had the strength to pour what was left in the bottle into his glass. His numb state was slowly wearing off. That wasn’t anything new. The pleasant sensation he would feel when he’d drink had always been fleeting. It didn’t take much to bring him back to reality. That’s why he always needed to drink more.

His eyes finally shut completely as he waited. He could feel himself being dragged into sleep, but the sudden sound of the doorbell had him instantly alert. Even so, the alcohol still made his movements clumsy. He bumped into furniture a few times before he was finally able to reach the door.

He opened it. Jinki was standing there with a serious expression on his face. Wasting no time, he entered the house and closed the door behind him. A quick look in the younger one’s direction had him saying, ‘You don’t look so good.’

Jonghyun didn’t answer that. Instead, he downed his drink and walked away. Jinki followed, after taking off his coat and boots, only to see him taking out another bottle.

‘No way.’ Jinki took it from his hands. ‘Don’t you think you’ve had enough?’

‘I need more,’ Jonghyun replied. ‘Give it back,’ he added feebly.

‘No,’ the blonde reiterated as he put it down on the counter.

Before he could protest, he was dragged back into the living room. A slight push had him fall down on the sofa.

Jinki sat across him. ‘You shouldn’t have drunk so much,’ he scolded.

 Jonghyun rolled his eyes. ‘You’re no fun.’

‘Well, so be it,’ he said with a laugh. It didn’t last long as his face turned serious again. ‘Why did you drink so much?’

‘Because I was tired of feeling,’ Jonghyun admitted.

A sigh left Jinki’s lips. ‘You know that’s not the solution. It never lasts.’

‘But at least for a moment, I feel better...’

‘Jonghyun... don’t let what happened destroy you,’ Jinki pleaded.

The younger one ran a hand through his hair. ‘I’m just tired of dealing with this pain. It’s to-‘

He stopped as a sudden wave of nausea took over him. He knew what would happen next so he immediately made a run for the bathroom. His head hovered over the toilet for minutes as it all came out. And suddenly, he felt a hand massaging his back. As he finally caught his breath, he said, ‘Leave me alone,’ before going through the same ordeal again.

Still, Jinki’s hand remained on his back. When it was finally over, he flushed and got up on his wobbly legs. Too embarrassed to look at the other one, he just walked over to the sink and freshened up.

As he wiped his hands on his towel, he could feel the tears coming. He bit down on his lip, trying to keep it in, but it was no use. They fell down his cheeks and he turned away, not wanting the other one to see him.

But Jinki saw and swiftly turned him around before wrapping his arms around him. He held him tight so he couldn’t escape and it was all it took for him to let go. He cried against his chest, forgetting every last bit of pride he had tried to hold onto.

‘I’m so pathetic,’ he sobbed.

‘No, you’re not. It’s okay to hurt, Jjong,’ Jinki reassured. He pulled back from the embrace. ‘Come on, you should sleep.’

Jonghyun gave a slight nod before he followed him out of the bathroom.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Jinki looked at the hour. It was starting to get really late, but he wasn’t going to leave until his brother came home. He paced back and forth for a few seconds but stopped as his eyes caught the bookshelf. He walked over to it, letting his eyes trail over the titles. He winced as he saw his own amongst the others. He briefly considered taking them before completely dismissing the idea.

After a while, which to him seemed like an eternity, the front door opened, revealing his brother. The latter looked tired, but surprise enlightened his features as he saw the blonde looking at him.

‘What are you doing here?’ he exclaimed.

‘I was waiting for you,’ Jinki simply said.

Key put down the bags he was holding and closed the door. He walked up to his brother.

‘What’s going on?’

‘Can’t I just drop by?’ Jinki asked playfully.

‘Yes, but you wouldn’t at this hour and never unannounced,’ the brunette replied.

‘True... Where were you?’ he suddenly inquired.

‘I bought some clothes,’ Key answered. ‘I needed some distraction,’ he then added.

Jinki frowned. ‘From what?’

The brunette crossed his arms. ‘Jonghyun hasn’t been acting like himself lately and I confronted him about it earlier, but he wouldn’t open up,’ he explained.

‘Oh,’ Jinki intoned with discomfort.

‘Oh?’ Key echoed. ‘Do you know something that I don’t?’

‘Um... He should tell you not me,’ Jinki shyly said.

‘No, you’re going to tell me now,’ the younger one ordered.

The blonde finally complied. ‘He went to his parents’ house the other day.’

‘What?’ the other one voiced loudly. ‘He hasn’t seen his parents in years,’ he continued with a tone laced with disbelief.

‘Yeah, well, his mom left him a message and he called me...’

‘Since when have you two become so close?’ he uttered with a scowl.

‘I... we aren’t... It’s just... You were busy and...’

‘Oh, so you just went to see him without giving me a call?’ Key interrupted.

Jinki sighed. ‘I’m sorry, Kibum. But that’s not important right now. Your boyfriend was a complete mess tonight and if I hadn’t come here who knows how far he would’ve gone.’

‘He was drinking?’ the younger one guessed.

‘Yes.’ Jinki cocked an eyebrow. ‘So this has happened before?’

‘Not really, but he told me once that he used to have drinking problems.’

‘Well you should get rid of those bottles and take care of him. He’s not okay,’ Jinki indicated.

‘I can take care of my boyfriend just fine,’ Key retorted.

Jinki glared at him. ‘I should go,’ he said.

‘Yes, the other one agreed.

The blonde walked towards the entrance. As he finished putting back on his boots and coat, he turned around.

‘Please call me to tell me how he’s doing,’ he demanded.

And then, he was gone. 

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