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Okeydokey, finally get to get this chapter out, though scheduling is still not working. So, you get an early morning gift. Guess I should be grateful I can post at all. So here's the next chapter. I hope you enjoy. I'll still post the next chapter on Saturday.

This is the third branch chapter, so I'm not going to say much on it. This is Hoseok's branch, as you could probably see.

Thank you to all of you who are reading, liking, clipping, following, and commenting.
Disclaimer: Many of the characters aside from BTS are made up and BTS themselves are not BTS in this story. And, of course, I don't know the BTS boys personally so their personalities are probably mostly fictional.
Italics are finally now available, so no more { }.
Please let me know if you would like to be tagged or untagged.

Beginning: Chapter 1
Warning: May contain mild language. Slight trigger warning for the usual.

SooJin POV

As soon as we finished our sundaes, Hoseok had to go back to work. I continued to try to keep myself entertained until everyone, including my parents, visited after work. Jimin was unable to come, apparently due to some issue at work. I didn’t hesitate to guess that he wasn’t too bothered by it. Everyone who was there, though, expressed their congratulations on me getting most of my bandages off. Jungkook joked that it was nice to know I wasn’t an actual mummy. I told them about how I was hoping to start PT in two weeks. Jin and my parents were nervous about me starting so early, but I informed them that the doctor wouldn’t let me do it until I was cleared. That seemed to set their minds at ease.

The weeks leading up to my first PT session was more of the same. I knew I wouldn’t be ready to go home for a long time, but it was already taking a toll on me. I looked forward to starting the PT. The sooner I started, the sooner I would get better, and the sooner I could get out of the hospital. The guys and girls would visit me and my parents came by almost every day. My mom even stayed over a few nights when her work schedule would allow. Hoseok and Taehyung continued to visit me during their breaks and Jimin continued to avoid me when he visited. It frustrated me that I couldn’t ask what was wrong. Hoseok seemed to be bothered when I would ask him about it so I changed to asking Taehyung. Taehyung said that Jimin was fine, that he was just busy with work. I didn’t believe him.

I was excited and anxious on the day of my first PT session. The doctor had cleared me (by a large margin, he said) to start. I was informed that the PT sessions would likely be very taxing and painful. In order to get my legs used to the action of walking, I had to be strapped into a sort of vest harness that was suspended from a track in the ceiling. I would also have a walker with me. This would completely control my balance and allow the physical therapist to “remind” my legs and brain how walking felt. Since I had still-healing ribs and various other accident-related injuries, the process would be fairly painful.

Their assumptions were 100% correct. I was in pretty bad pain starting from the beginning. But just a look at Hoseok and Jin (who insisted on being present for at least the first one) was enough to get me to push through it. I technically did barely anything for the session, but by the end, I was wiped out. The two of them didn’t wait for the aide and helped me into bed themselves. I was out even as my head barely met the pillow.

Hoseok continued to be with me for my next sessions. There was one session where he had a meeting so Taehyung came in his place. I didn’t want to be rude and ask Taehyung why he hadn’t come to the others, but I was pretty sure I knew the answer. I just wanted to make sure. Like he could read my mind, Taehyung teased me relentlessly throughout the session about how I should pretend that Hoseok was watching or that Hoseok was the one helping me instead of the therapist and other similar things.

I apologized to the therapist but he just laughed it off and said that even pretending that the one we loved was there was enough for people to improve. Taehyung burst out laughing and I quickly had to correct the therapist about how Hoseok was just a friend. He smiled and gave me a peculiar look before shrugging and continuing the session.

At the end of the week, I was exhausted but feeling a lot more confident. Though I couldn’t move forward yet, I was able to, with a lot of effort, move my foot up and down on my own. During my bored times, after everyone would leave for the night, I would maneuver myself to the side of the bed and practice moving my legs up and down. Not only did it kill my boredom, but it also helped me to speed up my recovery.

A week and a half more of that and I was able to walk around the track without the therapist’s help, albeit slowly. The harness had been adjusted so that it only helped keep my balance, not keep my hold my weight. The walker was removed. The ortho doctor said that I was ready to move to the next step. With the help of a pair of hip-high parallel bars, I would try to walk without the harness. The bars would help me with my balance on the sides while allowing me to practice balancing forwards and backwards.

I was happy to have Hoseok with me on that first session. He waited at the end of the bars. Without knowing it, he made himself my goal. And it pushed me to try harder. The therapist stayed close, one hand just behind my back, to make sure I didn’t fall. The therapist had to keep fixing me upright and telling me to slow down. He told me I was forcing my body to go faster than my legs were able to compensate. He told me I did great, but by the end of the session, I felt defeated. Why couldn’t I walk? Walking is easy. Why was it so hard for me?

Hoseok took me back to my room. I waited until he left before I broke down crying. Apparently I hadn’t waited long enough. I had just started crying when the door opened again.

“Sorry, I—Are you okay?!” Hoseok ran to me. I tried to cover up my tears, but it was far too late for that. “What’s wrong? Are you in pain?” I shook my head, keeping my eyes down. I froze when I felt the bed shift from his weight. His arms wrapped around me and he pulled my head to his chest. I started shaking worse, trying to keep my tears in. “What’s wrong SooJin-ah?”

I shook my head. “N-n-nothing,” I managed to say. “I’m just stupid. There’s nothing wrong with me except me.” He arms tightened around me. I felt safe, secure... loved.

“There’s nothing wrong with you. The doctor said something like this might happen. He said it’s natural for people who went through traumatic experiences to feel like this. Helpless, useless, hopeless. But I promise you, you’re doing amazing. You’re not helpless. The doctor said you’ve already cut your recovery time in half. You’re amazing. You keep pushing and pushing. You’re not useless. The nurses don’t even really know how to help you anymore because you’re doing pretty much everything yourself.

“And you’re not hopeless. You have us. You have your brother, your family, your friends... and you have me. If you’re ever feeling hopeless, let us be your hope. I’ll be your hope. Okay?” I broke down crying. “No—I—don’t cry. I didn’t mean—please—“

“Thank you,” I murmured into his chest, gripping his shirt tightly. I didn’t think he heard me until I felt his arms adjust to hold me more firmly. He didn’t say anything; he simply laid his cheek on my head and let me cry. I knew I should let go. He had work to do, I was ruining his shirt, and I was taking advantage of his kindness as a way to get close to him. But I couldn’t let go. Before I knew it, I fell asleep.

I woke up later, Hoseok’s embrace no longer keeping me warm. I looked next to me and saw the bed empty. I looked around the room. Taehyung was sitting on the couch, typing away on his laptop. He somehow sensed that I was awake because he immediately looked at me.

“You’re awake,” he said, a small smile on his face. I nodded and rubbed my eyes. I could tell they were still swollen from crying. “Hyung was here until just a little bit ago. He had a meeting but he didn’t want to leave you to wake up alone. I figured you might not like it if you woke up with me in your bed so I hope you don’t mind if I just stayed over here.” I chuckled. Still a brat. His expression turned serious. “Are you okay?”

“What... what did Hoseok tell you?”

“He said that this last session was really hard. Why? Was there anything else?” I shook my head. Maybe a little too quickly judging by the suspicious look Taehyung gave me.

“Thank you, Taehyung.” I laid back in bed.

“What for?”

“For being here for me. All of you guys. I don’t know what I’d do without all of you. I don’t even want to think about it. Sometimes... sometimes I do—think about it, I mean. And it’s never a nice scenario. So... thank you. You teasing me makes me feel like part of this big family. You’re a good kid. Even if you don’t always act like it. I’m grateful.”

Taehyung smiled and stood up. He almost seemed like an older brother when he petted my hair gently and kissed me on the top of my head. “I’m glad you’re here as well. All of us are. Everyone’s been doing better since you came into our lives. Especially my cousin.” I looked away. “No need to be shy. Both of you are unwilling to believe that the other person likes you. Even if most of the rest of us are pretty certain.” I continued to avoid looking at him. “Jimin’s involvement in all of it has us all confused as well. I don’t know 100%, though I’m pretty certain, where your heart lies. But... I know... Never mind. I’ll let you two figure it out. And the sooner the better.”

I stuck my tongue out at him. “I still don’t know what you’re talking about... but thank you for making me feel better anyway. I’m sure you’re busy. You can go back now. Thank you for being there when I woke up...”

“I don’t think hyung would like it if I left.”

“You said he didn’t want me to wake up alone. I’m awake now. So you can go back to your work. I’ll be fine waiting for everyone else. Don’t worry about it.” Taehyung looked like he wanted to stay. But now that he was this close, I could hear the constant buzzing of his phone. “Don’t pretend you aren’t busy either; I can hear your phone.” Taehyung chuckled and ruffled my hair.

“Alright, alright, you win. I’ll be back after work. Make sure to rest up, alright?” I hummed in agreement and smiled. He smiled back, closing his laptop. “Okay. See you later, noona.” I waved as he left.

After he left, I still felt down, but it wasn’t nearly as soul crushingly powerful as it was before. I was determined to try my hardest so I could get out of the hospital. And go back home.
Another few days and the sense of being lost waxed and waned. I improved a lot on the walking bars and could now walk almost at the same pace as I did on the harness. The doctors and everyone else was very pleasantly surprised at my progress. They didn’t realize how desperate I was to leave. I wanted to go home so badly, but I knew I would be a burden that they would not be equipped to deal with yet.

One of those days was one of my most embarrassing days yet. I had been walking between the bars, focusing on each step I took. I felt the sudden urge to look at Hoseok and I did just that. He had given such a bright smile that I couldn’t help but return. In doing so, I also lost focus on walking. I didn’t lift my foot high enough and tripped on the carpet. I felt myself fall and clenched my eyes shut, waiting for the impact. It came, but it was a lot sooner, and softer, than I expected.

I opened my eyes to find someone’s neck in front of me. I turned my head and saw Hoseok’s face only centimeters away. I felt myself blush furiously. But I couldn’t move. I was at an awkward angle that forced all of my weight to rest on my chest pressed against his. My neck was at an uncomfortable angle. I felt arms wrap around my abdomen and shoulder and carefully pull me back. Hoseok stayed on his knees a few seconds longer before joining the therapist and me in standing.

The therapist kept asking if I was okay and apologizing for not having braced me at the front. I told him it was fine that it was my fault, etc. But I barely heard the words I was saying. All of my thoughts were focused on Hoseok. That scent, those eyes, those lips...

Hoseok coughed and looked away. Then I felt really embarrassed. He probably saw me staring and it made him uncomfortable. Fortunately, he took his place back at the end of the bars, as if nothing had happened. It kind of hurt. The rest of the day was uneventful.

Narrator POV

Jimin, even though he had been pretending to be completely disinterested in what was happening with SooJin, he had actually been keeping a close eye on her. At first. But he saw the looks that passed between her and Hoseok. He saw the way she tried to hide her blushing or pretend she wasn’t hanging on his every word. She was in love with Hoseok. That made things both easier and harder for Jimin.

He couldn’t resist going to see her though. He showed up at one of her PT sessions and hid in the back. She never saw him. And when he saw the smile on her face when she looked at Hoseok, it broke his heart further. And when she tripped and Hoseok caught her, it killed him. At the same time, he felt relieved. She deserved to be with someone who could take care of her. Before the accident, he had thought that maybe he could’ve been that person. But he should’ve known better. Hoseok would take care of and love her. Of course, that didn’t mean that Jimin didn’t feel like he was being torn apart. He left and promised himself to never do it again.

The next week, the doctor started SooJin on a walker. It was only to be used when someone, preferably a staff member, was there with her. The walker would provide her with support while she walked. The doctor told her that if she did well, then maybe in another week, she would probably be able to start using crutches. Another week or so after that and she would probably be able to move onto the forearm crutches. There would be less support with those crutches since they only went up to hip level.

For sessions though, the therapist starting having her try to walk without the walker or crutches. He used himself for support and carefully helped her walk around. By the third session of that, she was able to move faster. At the fourth session, the doctor was pleasantly surprised to be able to clear her to move on to the crutches. He told her and the others that he was amazed at her recovery speed. But it wasn’t enough for her. She wanted to hurry and get better so she could leave. The small feeling of suffocation only grew the longer she stayed in the hospital, even with everyone visiting her. She was only barely able to hide it.

Hoseok and Taehyung were both present for the fifth session. SooJin was wiped out after it, but she insisted on walking back to her room, not using the wheelchair. The therapist offered to walk her, but Hoseok said he would gladly do it. One hand on her waist, the other holding up her left hand for support, SooJin’s heart raced wildly. It even helped to stave off her exhaustion. At least for a while. The walk to her room was mostly quiet since SooJin needed to concentrate on walking (though Hoseok was already enough of a distraction).

Taehyung kept the wheelchair ahead of them, close enough that they could call for him if they needed the wheelchair, but far enough to give them space to be together by themselves. Hoseok let the silence continue, simply appreciating being able to hold SooJin so close to him. He knew that she was struggling, but he also knew that she wanted to keep pushing. Halfway to the room, however, he felt her shaking suddenly become severe.

“SooJin,” Hoseok said quietly. “Let’s call for Tae. You’ve already had a PT session and you’ve made it this far as well. You should be careful to not push yourself to much.”

“No. I have to do this,” she responded through clenched teeth. The pain was really bad. But she would keep going until she collapsed if that’s what it came to.

“I know you want to get better, but if you push yourself too much, you’ll just make it worse. It’ll make it take longer.”

SooJin froze. That’s exactly what she didn’t want. She looked turned to Hoseok. He could see the desperation in her eyes and it worried him. “I have to get better. I can’t stay here anymore. I feel like...” she looked away. “I feel like it’s sucking all the happiness out of me. It’s taking the ‘me’ out of me. I feel less and less like the self you guys have helped me to be every minute I’m here by myself. It feels like I’m suffocating...” Hoseok stared at her, his eyes growing wider the more she talked. He knew that everything had to be hard for her, but he didn’t realize how bad it really was.

SooJin continued, unable to look at Hoseok. “I told you about those... bad thoughts. And how they pretty much disappeared after I met you guys... The longer I’m here, alone, the louder those thoughts get.”

Hoseok remembered about what the doctor said about her past. He stood in front of her. “Why didn’t you say anything before?”

SooJin continued to avoid his eyes. “Because... I’ve caused you all enough trouble as is. You guys come here after you’re wiped out from work every day. My brother also comes in the morning. You and Tae moved your workspace to be here. I can’t... I can’t... I can’t ask for more than that.” Without her permission, tears started to drip down her face. “That’s why I have to get better. The doctor said if I go home now that it would be too much for anyone to take care of me. I can’t ask anyone to set time aside for me. I won’t do that. I can’t take a shower on my own, I can barely use the bathroom on my own...”

Hoseok tried to think of a solution. SooJin couldn’t stay at the hospital any longer. It was obvious that the seclusion was taking too much of a toll on her. But she couldn’t come home. None of them would be there during the day, SooJin would definitely not allow anyone to stay home, and he knew that she wouldn’t want to cause more work for the maids whom she had befriended. And then he thought of something.

“You can come home!” Hoseok said happily. SooJin looked up at him in confusion. Had he not heard anything she said? He started talking, his speed going faster the more he talked. “There’s a way. We can bring the hospital home! There’s people called home health aides. They’re like nurse’s assistants, but they’re specially certified to take care of people at home. We can hire one to take care of you during the day and at night, all of us will be home. It’s not like there’s any special care you need, you’re pretty much all healed from your surgeries. The aide can help take care of most everything during the day and then at night, one of us can help you get ready, get to the bathroom, help you on the stairs, whatever. We can do this, SooJin-ah!”

As his words settled into her brain, SooJin’s expression changed from despair to hope. “R-really? There’s something like that?” Hoseok nodded emphatically, a smile practically splitting his cheeks open. His smile was contagious and SooJin caught it. Her heart raced. “Is that... ok?” Her smile started to slip as she thought about how much more of a burden she would be.

“Don’t do that,” Hoseok told her sternly, taking her by surprise. “I can practically see the thoughts in your head. You’re not a burden. You’re our... family. We’d do anything for each other. And you’re part of it. Let us help you. Please... I can’t—we can’t bear to see you like this...” SooJin felt herself falling deeper into his spell. She couldn’t say no. She looked away and hesitantly nodded. “Really?” Hoseok hugged her and SooJin felt her heart skip a beat.

“Y-y-yeah. I’d like to go... home...” Hoseok pulled away and smiled again. He had missed having her at the house. Even though he got to see her while he was at work, it saddened him to know that he’d be going home and she wouldn’t be there. It was then that Hoseok noticed she was still shaking.

“Let’s get Taehyung over here. I’ll talk to some of my staff about recommendations for aides. I promise, we’ll find a way to help you come back home.” SooJin smiled again. Hoseok called for Taehyung who came back with the wheelchair. After helping her into it, they went back to her room. And just like her first day, they didn’t wait for a nurse to help. Taehyung made sure to let Hoseok help her by himself. SooJin’s cheeks were dusted with pink when Hoseok picked her up bridal style to put her in bed. When he laid her on the bed, it took all of her willpower not to pull him down with her. She reluctantly released her arms from encircling his neck. She wanted to stay awake to talk to them more but sleep claimed her in less than a minute.

Hoseok and Taehyung watched her fall asleep, smiles on their faces. Taehyung turned to Hoseok. “It’s you,” Taehyung said quietly. He was pretty sure nothing would wake her, but he wanted to be careful. “It’s definitely you she cares for.”

“I’d like to think so... she asks about Jimin a lot though, doesn’t she?” Hoseok wanted to believe that all the interactions between himself and SooJin indicated that she really did care for him as more than a friend, but he was afraid of assuming anything. While he was confident in many aspects of his life, SooJin’s feelings for him were something he couldn’t seem to feel confident about. He was scared of losing her friendship if she didn’t feel the same. But he wasn’t sure how much longer he could bear to stay in that limbo.

“Of course she does. He’s her friend. She’s worried about him because of his behavior. We all are. But she’s the only one who has to get her information from other people. That’s why. I’m positive that her feelings for you are more than just as a friend.”

“I hope so. But being positive isn’t the same as knowing for sure. I can’t risk everything...”

“If both of you feel that way, neither of you will ever go anywhere.”

“I know... I’ll just... have to wait and hope that the right timing comes up for us.”

Taehyung sighed as he watched his cousin watch the girl he loved. Love was so complicated.


And cut! Jk. So, there was some cute stuff and some sad stuff. I hope it was all okay. And isn't that how it is? If both people are too afraid to take the first step, they'll be stuck in limbo forever. I feel bad for them. But I think they're so cute together, right?

Okay, well, I'll see you guys on Saturday for the next chapter. Peace!

Thank you @Mavis2478 for the story.

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