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Futile Devices

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Jungkook peeked through the studio windows until he found the right room. He could see Namjoon silhouetted against the bright glow of the computer screen, hunched forward like he could barely see. It felt awkward to interrupt him while he was at work, especially when he’d been holed up in there all night. But Namjoon had texted and specifically asked Jungkook to come by, so he supposed it was alright. He raised his hand and knocked, soft and polite.

No response.

He knocked again, much harder this time, and Namjoon spun around. The sound proofing blocked his voice, but Jungkook could see him smiling and waiving, calling him inside. He opened the door just enough to poke his head in and glanced around at all the equipment and the skateboards and posters mounted on the black walls. “Hi, hyung…”

“Hello, Jungkook-ah!”

Jungkook nearly jumped out of his skin when he realized that Jin was sitting right there, reclining on the leather couch against the near wall. There were notebooks and papers scattered around him and a large text book was propped up against his knees.

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t know you were studying in here,” Jungkook blushed and started backing out.

“No, no!” Jin waived away his apology. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Hyung’s just keeping me company,” Namjoon said, beckoning to Jungkook with a hand. “I wanted to see you about something. Come in.”

“Okay.” Jungkook stepped fully into the room and took his place in one of the big rolling chairs at the console. Rubbing his sweaty palms over his thighs, he looked up at Namjoon with a little smile and asked, “What’s up, hyung?”

“Should we do a log?” Namjoon asked brightly, reaching his hand up to turn on the camera.

“No, don’t!” Jungkook clutched at his shoulder to stop him. His mind flew everywhere at once. He hadn’t prepared anything to say and his hair was flat and greasy from practice and he had a pimple on his nose and…

“Ah, I’m just teasing you. I look terrible anyway,” the older boy gestured up at his fuzzy bush of hair.

“Don’t say that,” Jungkook said quietly, almost a whisper. “You always look cool.”

“No, Jin-hyung is the one that always looks good.”

“Eh?” Jin called from behind them, his nose still buried in his book and hardly paying them any attention.

“You look good, hyung!” Namjoon repeated, raising his voice.

“Oh… thank you…”

While Namjoon suppressed a giggle, Jungkook glanced back at Jin and considered him for a moment. Even doing his homework, he looked like a fashion model, long legs draped elegantly across the couch. He was completely absorbed in his book, blinking hard in that funny way of his. As he read, his lips moved ever so slightly, like he was saying the words out loud to himself. His lips were so… Before Jungkook could finish his thought, Jin seemed to notice him staring and his eyes flicked up. Jungkook whipped back around to face the computer.

“Okay, so no video log,” Namjoon said. “But Pdogg-nim gave us a new track and I thought you might want to help me write something for it. Hmm?”

“Write something?”

Namjoon laughed again. “Don’t look so scared, Jungkook-ah. You’re the most talented kid I know, so you can definitely do this. If you have something you want to say, you have your chance now.”

They stared at each other for a second, Namjoon nodding and Jungkook feeling a slow, disbelieving smile spread across his face. “You mean like write lyrics?”

“Yeah! Like lyrics. Like some sick rap lyrics.”

“Yeah!” Jin randomly shouted behind them.

Jungkook glanced back at Jin but Namjoon just kept talking. “Ignore him. Jungkook-ah, do you want to rap on the album? Show the world what you got?”

This was new. Jungkook could believe that they wanted him to be a main dancer and he was getting used to the idea that they liked his singing too. But now rapping as well? His eyes searched Namjoon’s face for any sign that it might be a prank, but it wasn’t there. He was beaming, encouraging, proud. Jungkook saw visions of himself reflected in Namjoon’s eyes, dressed in black and red with gold chains and tattoos, looking even cooler than G-Dragon. Jungkook smiled.

“Yes, I definitely want to rap on the album.”

“Alright!” Namjoon shouted. “Awesome! I love the confidence. Let’s do this.”

He was just about to hit play on the track when a different song started playing quietly in the background. For a split second, Jungkook thought he was going to be rapping over Drake’s new single, but then he realized it was Jin’s ringtone.

“Ah! Excuse me,” Jin pushed the book off his lap and jumped up from the couch. He gave a small, apologetic bow to the boys and stepped out of the room. Before the door closed behind him, Jungkook could hear him answer the phone and say, “Hello, Jiyeong-ssi! How are you?”

Once he was gone, Namjoon shook his head ruefully and went to start the track again but Jungkook was too distracted. “Who is Jiyeong?”

“Jiyeong?” Namjoon echoed absent-mindedly. “Some girl at the university who confessed to him. No wait… that might have been Eunji. I can’t keep track.”

“Oh,” Jungkook said carefully, trying to keep the hurt from showing on his face. Out of all of the members, Jin was closest to Jungkook, wasn’t he? After all, Jin never invited any of the other members over to his parents’ house for dinner. Only Jungkook. So then why was Jungkook hearing about this Jiyeong and Eunji business from Namjoon? Did Jin think Jungkook was too young for that kind of talk? What else was he not sharing?

“He’s going to have to cool it with that stuff. And you, too!” Namjoon was still talking.

“What?”

“Don’t give me that innocent face, Jungkook-ah,” Namjoon shook his head, laughing. “Jimin told us about all those girls swarming around you at your graduation.”

Through the window in the studio door, Jungkook could still see Jin pacing right outside, smiling and nodding as he spoke into his phone. When he noticed Jungkook watching him he pulled a face, puffing out his cheeks and crossing his eyes.

“But seriously,” Namjoon continued, “All of that will have to stop when we debut. Like PD-nim said, we have to project the right image to our fans. I mean… I might not be pretty like you and Jin-hyung and Tae, but we all have to make sacrifices now.”

“Okay,” Jungkook nodded. “I was never really good at dating anyway.”

The older boy gave him a long look, his lips pressed together in a funny little smirk, then he smiled broadly. “Okay, Jungkook-ssi. Maybe we can work this into our lyrics.”

“We’re going to rap about not dating?”

“No!” Namjoon laughed. “No, that would sound… not right. We don’t want people to think we’re lame. We want to tell them that we’re working hard on our music and we’re gonna take over the world. We gotta get respect, you know?”

A grin spread across Jungkook’s face as he listened to him talk. This was always fun to watch, when Namjoon faded into the background and Rap Monster took over. His voice got lower and raspy and he started gesturing emphatically with his hands. It reminded Jungkook of why he decided to sign with Big Hit in the first place, that promise of transformation into something extraordinary and powerful. That feeling that he could unleash another person hidden deep inside himself.

“That’s what this track is all about. Showing them that we go hard . That we’re going to do what nobody has ever done before,” Namjoon said, hitting a button on the computer and starting up the song. It was frenetic, a flurry of high-pitched electronic notes tapping out an aggressive melody. His head started bobbing and his jaw stuck out in that way it did when he was really feeling the music. Then he started growling along, “What… What… What… We are bulletproof!

Heart pounding in his chest, Jungkook nodded along to the beat. He could almost see it now. Sharp choreography, fierce outfits, and darkness all around them. And then Jungkook would step up into a spotlight, open his mouth, and spit fire.

“So this right here is gonna be your verse,” Namjoon clapped him on the shoulder. “What do you want to say?”