For some reason people seem to think that people who are kind and happy are weak. It could just be because they are jealous or because they simply think that people who smile can’t have gone through something terrible. That they can’t be going through something terrible, because how can you possibly smile when you’re suffering?
Seokjin asks himself that every day. He keeps putting on his mask of confidence because if he didn’t, he’d fall apart. If he didn’t then who would make sure that the others were okay? Who would make sure Jimin didn’t slip into his old bad habits, who would drag Yoongi and Namjoon out of the studio to eat and relax, even for just a little while? Who would make sure Taehyung and Hoseok don’t get left on the side in the commotion of their hectic lives? Who would keep Jungkook from being overwhelmed by the pressure of being the golden maknae? So Seokjin puts on his mask, and he smiles so the others have the freedom of crying. Even when they all fall apart, Seokjin knows that he’s the only one who can put them back together.
It’s been getting harder though. As the fans keep sending hate his way and as the pressure of doing better comes from the managers. It was only a matter of time before his mask would shatter. Seokjin was trying to keep it at bay for as long as possible. He just needs one night alone, to fall apart and then he’d be able to start the cycle anew. But being on tour, constantly surrounded by everyone was making it difficult. He knew if he said he needed alone time the others would worry and he just couldn’t have that.
“You’re on in five minutes!” a staff member called out and Seokjin snapped out of his thoughts and got ready to go onstage.
The concert went well. He didn’t mess up the choreography and he hit his notes but he couldn’t be proud of himself. He’s so disgustingly average . He watches his members clap each other on the back, basking in the afterglow of the successful show, and they deserve it. These small moments of euphoria is what makes it all worth it, if only Seokjin could be part of it. It had been so long since he’d been part of it, he doesn’t really remember when it started, just remembers that it did. He still laughs along with the others, he briefly wonders if they notice that his smiles no longer reach his eyes. That his laugh isn’t as loud as before, oh who was he kidding, they’re probably happy that his annoying laugh doesn’t last as long. They’d be better of without him there, everyone would be.
He shakes his head, not the time for those thoughts. He’ll save those for his shower tonight. He’s slightly worried, they’re becoming more frequent and he believes it now. Usually he’d be able to push it away, convincing himself that he’s needed but he’s realising he’s just lying to himself. He distractedly follows the others to the car jokingly calling shotgun, using his age as an advantage. He doesn’t want the others to see his face, not when his mask is ever so slightly slipping.
“Let’s go out tonight!” Hoseok suggests, “We’re only travelling tomorrow so it won’t matter if we’re hungover.”
The others excitedly agree, “I think I’ll pass,” Seokjin says with a soft smile, “I’m really tired, but you have fun.”
“Hyung please,” Seokjin can hear the pout on Jungkook’s voice, “at least come out for dinner, then you can go home.”
Damn, why does he have to be so cute. Seokjin agrees but as he’s standing in the shower he can already feel himself slipping. They’ll have more fun without him there anyways. He shakes his head, he already promised and he can handle a couple more hours. They meet in the lobby of the hotel and make their way to a barbeque restaurant together. Seokjin listens halfheartedly to the youngers excited chatter and banter.
He should have stayed home. That’s the only thought running through his mind as the food is brought in. It looks tasty and he wants to eat it all but he’s on a diet. Not that the others know, they’d probably protest. Namjoon immediately calling to scold their managers. So he eats to not worry the others, he’ll work out when he gets back to the hotel despite his body already aching. When the dessert comes in Seokjin feels sick. He looks down at his body and can see the rolls on his stomach. He shouldn’t have eaten, no amount of working out tonight will get rid of his fat, his ugly, disgusting fat. He excuses himself to the bathroom and practically runs there.
He enters a stall and his fingers are already in his mouth, forcing himself to throw up the shit he just ate. Stupid, so fucking stupid! His role is a visual and he can’t even keep up his physique. He curls his hand into a fist and presses his nails into his palm. Pain helps ground him.
Fuck, why was Jimin in the bathroom. Did he hear him throw up? Damn this isn’t good.
“Hyung? Are you okay, are you sick?”
“I’m fine.” Seokjin quickly flushes and steps out of the stall with a smile on his face and walks to the sink.
“I heard you throw up,” Jimin insists, “are you sure you’re not sick?”
“I’m fine,” damn it, Seokjin didn’t mean to snap at the younger man, “I’m going back to the hotel, I’ll see you tomorrow at breakfast.”
And with that he left, stalking over to their table. He quickly said goodbye to the others and grabbed his coat. Just a little bit longer, then you’re safe, then you can break down.
Jimin took a moment to gather his thoughts. Their eldest hyung just made himself throw up, why would he do that? He shook his head, of course he knew why. Seokjin has an eating disorder, not unlike the one he helped Jimin get better from. He took a deep breath, no need to get angry at the hypocrisy of it all. God who knows what else he’s going through, he’s a fucking actor, constantly smiling, making sure that the others okay. It shouldn’t be surprising that he’d hide this from them, they’ve all noticed that he’d been acting strange but just put it down to stress. They should have known better. Jimin should have known better.
“He threw up.” Jimin said when he reached the table, he continued when he saw the others confused looks, “Seokjin-hyung made himself throw up in there.”
“What are you talking about?” Hoseok asks, still looking confused.
“I think hyung has an eating disorder.”
They quickly gathered their things, payed for the food and went back to the hotel. Luckily Namjoon had extra keys for all their rooms. They still knocked on Seokjin’s door but let themselves in when it became apparent that he wasn’t going to let them in.
They could hear the shower running when they entered the room. Jungkook felt wrong about storming in like this but he trusted that his hyungs knew what needed to be done. Yoongi ripped the bathroom door open without hesitation and Jungkook lingered in the back as the others entered the bathroom. But he still saw everything.
He saw his eldest hyung, the man who was always willing to goof of and laugh with him, curled up under the stream of water from the shower. He was still wearing clothes and his wet shirt clung to his body like a second skin and Jungkook was horrified to see how much the eldest hyungs ribs stuck out. With his arms wrapped around himself, he looked so small, so frail. Seokjin looked up at them and Jungkook felt like his heart was split in two, he looked so broken. His eyes were red, it was obvious he was crying even if you couldn’t make out the tears.
“Oh hyung.” he heard Yoongi sigh.
Jungkook could only watch as he turned off the water, which must have been cold judging from the blue tint of Seokjin’s lips. Seokjin’s skin was unforgivingly cold, his teeth chattered in his mouth relentlessly and uncontrollably and his incessant shaking only served as another reminder of how cold Seokjin was. Yoongi stepped into the shower and sat down next to Seokjin, ignoring how he himself got wet, as he pulled the older man in for a hug.
“Please leave.” Seokjin’s voice was so weak, so broken.
“No, you shouldn’t be alone right now.” Taehyung insisted.
“I shouldn’t even be here.” Seokjin muttered.
“You’re right,” Namjoon said, walking forward with a towel, “let’s get you out of here, into some dry clothes.”
“No. I shouldn’t be in BTS” Seokjin clarified, making no move to get out the shower
“What are you talking about?”
“I bring everyone down. You don’t need me. No one does.”
Jungkook’s heart wasn’t just in two pieces anymore, it was completely shattered. How could he not have noticed? It seemed so obvious now. The way he’d been skipping out of their celebratory activities. The way his smiles seemed to be slipping off of his face faster and faster each day.
“That’s not true.” Jungkook said, stepping into the shower as well, kneeling in front of his hyung, “We all need you. So much. And I’m sorry that we made you feel like that’s not true.”
“Don’t be sorry. You haven’t done anything wrong, any of you.”
“Yes we have,” Yoongi said, “We should have noticed. We should have helped you earlier.”
“That’s not your job.”
“Maybe not, but it’s our responsibility.” Namjoon wrapped the towel around Seokjin, “BTS is a family and family takes care of each other.”
That seemed to set him off, because a sob escaped and then the tears came, full force. Jungkook could only watch as Yoongi pulled him to his chest, rubbing calming circles on his back.
“We’re here for you, you hear me hyung?” they could see his head bob slightly in a nod, “You’re not alone and we’ll get you through this.”
“You’ll be okay.” Jungkook said softly, reaching out to hold his hand, “You’ll be okay.”