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          He rarely sleeps in his room in the dorm anymore, as the couch in his studio feels more at home to him than his own mattress does. Perhaps it’s simply the permanent body indent that he falls into so perfectly, like he’s meant to live and breathe and sleep and dream and die in that tiny space as it some days feels like he is.

          But on the occasional nights, or early mornings, that he does make it home, or on the even less common days he has off completely which includes his mind giving him a break, too, he falls into his bed like hugging an old friend.

          And just like a hug, he doesn’t linger for long.

          There’s always something that has felt a little off about his bed, after all.  About sleeping in the dorm.  For some reason the place he has come to call home feels incomplete.  Something is off about having a roommate and then being in a room alone with nothing but a bed smushed up against a window, a bed big enough for two, and such a lack of clutter that it barely looks lived in at all. Something always keeps him up.  Or someone wakes him up.

          And lately it’s been Namjoon.

          He is known for sleeping at any time and in any space, but that’s what sleep deprivation does for you.  And when his mind quiets enough, it really is as easy as closing his eyes to feel himself drift off.  But his group mates, his best friends, his practical brothers, have known for years that he doesn’t like being disturbed when he is sleeping.

          The maknaes learned it the hard way, messing with his nose and hair and poking him and singing too loudly by his ear to see what would wake him up.  He never cared if a camera was on, as it usually was; anyone daring to wake him up deserved to be kicked and thrown out of the room and cursed at.  They had to learn their lesson somehow.

          The hyungs seemed to just know instinctively to stay away, and even when he shared a room with Seokjin, the best roommate he ever had the privilege of having, they stayed in their own space, on their own side.  That was probably why they were such good roommates.  On stage and in interviews and in front of fans and cameras, Yoongi know his body really isn’t his own.  It’s to be poked and prodded, dolled and dressed up however the stylists and makeup artists want it.  It’s there for the other boys to hang on and lean over and hop around and lift up whenever Jungkook is feeling extra hyper, which is often.  Yoongi knows this.  The boys know this.

          But they also know that at home Yoongi doesn’t like to be touched.

          It’s not that he doesn’t like to.  But he’s not like Jimin or Hoseok or Taehyung or even Hoseok.  He certainly isn’t clingy, and he just doesn’t desire to show his affection through physical touches.  Everyone knows this.  There’s nothing wrong with this.  At the most, he’ll try to get someone to hold his hand or just straight-up ask someone, but even then it rarely happens at home.  He tends to need the help calming down after rushing through an airport or talking to a reporter or rushing past a wall of screaming fans, so the hand holding happens back stage or in the car while in route to their next stop. Everyone knows this, too.

          Everyone knows that out of all of them, Namjoon shies away the most from being touched and touching others.  The amount of times he’s awkwardly patted Jungkook or Jimin on the head when the younger was crying over some tiny mistake he had made almost makes Yoongi wince because he can see it all so vividly, the pained looked on Namjoon’s face making him want to laugh.

          He knows that it’s more than that, that Namjoon is always hiding more pain than any of them can understand.  That he is trying to say so much and reassure everyone so well with a simple word or touch.  They all know.  They all know that if Namjoon initiates a hug or, on even rarer occasions, hand holding or cuddling on the couch or, well, Yoongi can think of only one time the man has ever given him a kiss, the softest one on his forehead as they sat in the Genius lab—shit, he was so ridiculously smug he hated himself sometimes for it—and cried as they tried to figure out how to all stay together, tried to work out whether they should all stay together or not.  Yoongi knows for Namjoon to reach out in such a way means he is desperate; desperate to make sure someone understood how much he cared or desperate for help without really knowing how to ask for it.

          Yoongi knows.

          So Yoongi does not roll over and push the guy off his bed when he wakes him up.  He doesn’t tell him to go away.  He doesn’t groan or whine or question it.  He doesn’t say anything, in fact, and tries to keep his breath normal as if he wasn’t awake, because he has no memory of the last time Namjoon ever crawled into his bed.

          They had sat together occasionally, sure, though it was usually on Namjoon’s bed, and usually Yoongi was trying to talk to him about a new song while Namjoon was trying to read a comic.  A few times before Yoongi was completely under the covers Namjoon would come and sit on them, running through the next day with him or asking him a question about a lyric or posing a ridiculously philosophical bullshit proposition that would keep Yoongi awake for longer than he would have desired.  But no one came to Yoongi’s bed for cuddles or warmth or affection or even closeness.

          They went to Taehyung, first, or Hoseok, and “they” was usually Jungkook and Jimin.  Occasionally Seokjin would seek someone out, but never Namjoon.  Everyone knows.

          Everyone knows Namjoon stresses too much.  He carries too much responsibility on his shoulders. They’ve known from day one that, despite his age, he was really mature.  It’s why they have always tried to pick up the slack in other areas. Seokjin has cooked, Hoseok has taught them dances, Jimin has comforted everyone, Yoongi has written and produced and handled the stupid question, Taehyung has kept them humble, and Jungkook has made them laugh.  They have always done what they can, even if they feel like it’s never enough.  Yoongi feels like it’s never enough, but Namjoon never complains, not even when his head is splitting from translating all day and his introversion is screaming for peace and quiet and alone time and his nerves are shooting through him, making him a little cranky but still so, so poised and in control.

          He’s the best leader they could have.  The only one who could have held them together for so long.  Everyone knows.  Yoongi knows. And that’s why he always makes sure to give Namjoon whatever the guy wants and needs, especially if he manages to ask for it.

          He doesn’t usually, some unspoken request on his brow that Yoongi, or Taehyung, and sometimes one of the other guys, can pick up on.  The signs are pretty obvious now.  So Yoongi feels bad for not noticing sooner.  It’s just another reason why he doesn’t turn around. Because if Namjoon wanted to wake him up, he could, and he would.  Namjoon knows, of all the boys, Yoongi is the least likely to get mad at him if he wakes him up.  He’s had to over the years a lot, after all, as they’ve needed to gather or go on stage. Yoongi can’t get mad at him for it, so while he doesn’t know why Namjoon didn’t purposefully wake him up, he stays quiet because, for whatever reason, Namjoon didn’t intend to wake him up.

          Yoongi knows because Namjoon says his name several times.  First, it’s just curious, a soft whisper, a barely there “Yoongi?”  The second time it’s a little louder, a little more concerned and cautious, “Yoongi?”  And the third is no longer a question, simply a declaration, like Namjoon is confirming who he is lying behind, whose back he is staring at and speaking to, “Yoongi.”

          He stays still and doesn’t respond to any of them, not even when he has to lie when he doesn’t answer the soft,

          “Are you asleep?”

          Normally he would grunt at such a question, or bite back something sarcastically like “I’m not anymore” or “I sure wish I was, but someone over here—” but instead he lies still and continues to breathe deeply. He keeps his eyes shut, wondering what Namjoon is doing.  He isn’t worried; one time Namjoon had run into his room bursting the door open because he couldn’t get the alarm by the front door to stop going off, but apart from that Namjoon knows to not spook Yoongi and choses to always, always deliver even the worst news in the calmest way possible.  He could tell Yoongi Min Holly had died and Yoongi would probably still barely feel his heartrate increase until the news actually sunk in.  Compare that to Hoseok, who announced everything, whether good or bad, like the apocalypse was coming, and Yoongi much preferred Namjoon’s announcements and warnings, his bad news and good news.  Yoongi loves Namjoon’s soothing voice, not quite as deep as his but full of so much; so much knowledge and comfort and thought and meaning.

          It’s odd to hear it sound so small and quiet, but Yoongi doesn’t turn around.  He keeps his eyes shut and just listens, because Namjoon is usually he one who listens. He listens to the boys complain and whine and share their frustrations.  He listens to the managers so he can relay messages and changes to the boys.  He listens to the fans in Korean and English, in writing and in person.  He listens and sees and understands so much Yoongi doesn’t know how he can take it all in. People don’t listen to him enough. Yoongi knows he takes him for granted too often.  They all do. They all know this.  Even the fans do.

          So Yoongi wills himself to stay awake so he can listen to whatever Namjoon is telling him, all the while knowing he is going to have to pretend he doesn’t hear it because Namjoon thinks Yoongi is asleep.

          “I just don’t know what the point is sometimes,” he hears, and he almost just gives up right then.  He could fake waking up now.  That would be normal and not suspicious.  Another breath, though, and he waits.

          “I mean, I know there is a point.  I know it’s just me being tired, probably, and exhausted, and worried about the comeback, but I also know there’s always that thought at the back of my mind, you know?”

          Yoongi knows.  They all know.  You can have as many excellent and amazing reviews and fans and days as you want, but sometimes just one bad morning, one nasty remark, one bad experience, one bad encounter can sour all the rest.  Can make you question every other good thing you’ve ever had in life.

          “It’s like, I know everything will be alright. Whatever that looks like.  I know this won’t all last, and that’s okay.  I know it will be hard to lose it all one day, or to see the numbers go down again, but I’m just afraid.  What if, even though I say it won’t matter, when it comes down to it, it does?  If I’m still so worried now when everything is going so well, how will I be okay when things get hard again?  How will you be okay?”

          The pause Namjoon makes makes Yoongi want to turn around.  He can already picture Namjoon staring at his back in concentration.  He knows, if he was Jimin or Hoseok, Namjoon would probably reach out to pat him now, to offer some sort of physical reassurance that he would be okay.  Because everyone knows, of all of them, Yoongi has to be taken care of.  He tries his hardest to not let it show, to not let his own problems hinder the others, but some days he can’t control himself. He can’t help how all of the negativity battling in his brain spills out like blood from his internalized wounds. He hates those days the most even though he knows he shouldn’t let the shame and regret linger anymore, because the boys get it now.  They get him now.  But still, Yoongi knows Namjoon worries about him.  He knows he wishes he didn’t so much, because Namjoon has plenty of other things to worry about, but just like he can’t having down days where even smiling in his studio is a chore, he knows Namjoon can’t help worrying over Yoongi. It comes with the territory, Yoongi knows.  Comes from living together for so long, from being best friends, from working late hours into the morning on nothing but coffee and hopes of one day being successful enough, from loving each other.

          “We’ll be okay,” Namjoon says quickly.  He’s recovered from whatever trail he was about to go down on, apparently, and Yoongi can almost hear him smile, that forced one he hates to see, and he gets up from the bed without another word.

          Yoongi doesn’t go back to sleep and gets up an hour later to go to the studio.  He checks that Namjoon’s door is closed and his light is off before he does, though, because he can at least do that.

 

          He tries to pay more attention the next day and the following week, but Namjoon is so good at keeping the peace, at remaining unshaken that everything returns to normal so easily and quickly that he forgets about what happened.  He wonders some nights when he starts awake or needs to get up to pee if he had dreamt it, if he was having some stress dream like he has before a big comeback like the ones he used to have before the first day of school.

          But then it happens again, and Yoongi keeps still, though he can’t help but wonder if Namjoon has been coming in every night to talk to him but he just hasn’t woken up every time.  He wonders how much the guy has said to him when he was unaware. Wonders if the words have sunk deep into his conscious or have just bounced back onto his leader and best friend, onto Namjoon who is only trying to relieve some of the pressure he feels by telling someone else what is on his mind.

          And Yoongi knows.  They all know.  Namjoon has a therapist.  He sees her whenever they’re in Seoul.  Yoongi has one, too.  And there’s another one on staff for when anyone seems particularly stressed or depressed or wound tight.  Namjoon could easily talk to her instead of Yoongi.  Yoongi knows, then, that Namjoon doesn’t actually want him to hear what he’s saying, and he almost turns around again, something deep within him telling him he would never and should never threaten Namjoon’s trust like this.  The momentary embarrassment Namjoon might feel if Yoongi just turns around now would be better than the feeling of betrayal he will surely have if Yoongi reveals later that he was listening all along.

          And yet he doesn’t turn around.

          Again, Namjoon says his name three times, each time with less curiosity and more determination.  Once he’s sure he is asleep, which he isn’t, Namjoon sighs heavily.  He’s closer to Yoongi than he expected, even though he can feel himself dipping a little toward the middle of the bed from the man’s weight, because he can actually feel the puff of air through his covers, hitting his back like the weights Namjoon is about to drop on him.

          “I just hope that they get it this time.  I wish, sometimes, that we could just be straight forward.  I’m tired of all this faking, hyung.”

          Yoongi has always thought the word has sounded weird coming from Namjoon.  He is older, sure, but he looks up to Namjoon both literally and figuratively.  He knows he is Namjoon’s anchor sometimes, even though it’s Seokjin Namjoon prefers by him in interviews.  It’s him he comes to for music and group advice.  He knows Namjoon values his contribution and makes an effort to praise him excessively in public and private to make sure he knows how valuable he is.  But he sees him as an equal in so many ways that the word feels odd coming from Namjoon’s mouth.  Seokjin loves being called hyung and takes every advantage to hear the word from all of their lips, but Yoongi doesn’t care if everyone is formal with him or not.  They have been through so much together, have cried huddled together and have seen each other naked on more than one occasion, that he doesn’t feel above them in any way.  In fact, he sometimes feels below them, especially Namjoon.  He’s glad he’s shorter, most days, because it helps him have another reason to look up to the guy who is so young and yet so mature. Yoongi isn’t sure why Namjoon feels the need for the formality if he doesn’t even think he’s listening anyway, but whatever Namjoon needs, Yoongi will let him have.

          “I mean, we keep going on and on about being genuine, and we want to show everyone how real we are, about how we fall and mess up and cry, and yet we haven’t shown them.  I mean, can you imagine if we did?  People can’t even date without it being called a scandal.  What’s bad about that?  What’s bad about having emotions?  I know nothing is.  I know we’re trying to spread that message around, but everyone is still so against it that I don’t know what the point is.  I feel.  I feel like a hypocrite, Yoongi.”

          The word makes Yoongi curl up a little unintentionally, and he freezes when Namjoon stops, afraid the man knows he is awake, but Namjoon doesn’t say anything about it.  Yoongi knows Namjoon is talking about their fans, but also about reporters and their society and culture and country as a whole.  About the world, in fact.  They’ve written enough songs about masks and about being their true selves and have given enough interviews about the struggle to present themselves authentically that Yoongi knows exactly what Namjoon is talking about.  Perhaps that’s why it’s so easy to just listen and not respond.  Namjoon already knows Yoongi knows.

          “I worry,” Namjoon starts again, this time so quiet Yoongi barely hears him, “that one day they’ll see me for who I really am and just drop me.  Drop us. Like one day I’ll just finally not get up to accept an award because I don’t know what else to say, and they’ll know I’m a terrible leader and a worse person who’s been lying to them for years. I’m worried about the day they find out Jimin and Hoseok are dating people.  I’m worried about their relationships not working out because our fans won’t let it.  Or someone won’t like it.  And how can we do that?  How can we preach one message about loving ourselves and others only to restrict ourselves from doing so?  How can we lie so blatantly to our fans?  They have to know, right?  Surely they know.  Why do they still like us, then?  Why do they put up with our shit?”

          It’s because they love us, Yoongi wants to say with a slight eyeroll, because Namjoon must know.  Namjoon must know how much everyone loves him.  Namjoon is a literal genius, unlike Yoongi who only wishes he was and only feels like he is on good days but only concerning music, so he must know that their fans, at least most of them, know they are all only human.  Most must know that they do a lot of things they say they don’t or do a lot of things that they don’t share with their fans.  Namjoon must know it doesn’t make them fake or hypocritical.  Just human.  Yoongi knows. Everyone knows.  Namjoon must know.

          So he doesn’t say anything, and Namjoon leaves a few minutes after, the question left unanswered in the air between them.

 

          Nothing else changes, except Yoongi finds himself coming home before Namjoon most days, a habit that has never happened in their nine years of knowing each other.  Sure, it happened occasionally, but never intentionally.  Now Yoongi gets into bed and waits for Namjoon, often falling asleep regardless, but his body is on alert now, so he wakes up as soon as there is pressure behind him, as soon as he hears Namjoon’s soft call of his name almost hovering above his head.

          He almost smiles, but he doesn’t.  He knows he can’t.  He can’t give the secret away.  So he even resists squeezing his eyes shut tighter when Namjoon lies down behind him and says his name two more times.  He has to wait a bit longer than normal for Namjoon to start, and he almost worries that knows or suspects, but he stays patient.  Of all the boys, Yoongi has always been the most patient, and Namjoon must know this.  It’s probably one reason why he comes to him to talk when he really needs to.  But Yoongi realizes why his friend has hesitated so much tonight the second he starts, some small hitch to his voice, something catching in his throat before he even starts that makes Yoongi want to turn around and scare the sound away for good, tell it it isn’t welcomed and doesn’t belong and needs to leave Namjoon the fuck alone.

          But he keeps his thoughts to himself and presses his knees together harder, squishing his hands in between them to give himself something to do instead.

          “It’s stupid,” Namjoon sighs, not quite crying but on the verge of it.  “I’m stupid. This is all so stupid.  I just.  What’s the point of all of this if I have no one to share it with?”

          This, above everything else, makes Yoongi’s breath finally stop flowing normally, but he covers it up as quickly as possible by pretending to shift in his sleep, hearing and feeling Namjoon stiffening behind him. Because Namjoon does have someone to share “it” with.  He has six someones, in fact.  But Yoongi knows he isn’t talking about that.

          Yoongi knows, they all know, that of all of them, Namjoon and Taehyung are the biggest romantics.  The most hopeless, really.  While Taehyung prefers romantic films like The Notebook—the sappiness makes Yoongi cringe, really, and he can’t understand how that film makes people cry—Namjoon prefers reading books and comics to get his fix.  Yoongi doesn’t know what the guy reads, because he’s never made time to read any of them, but he knows they make Namjoon’s heart soar or something, make butterflies in his stomach and give him unrealistic expectations that one day he’ll find someone just right for him.

          It’s been hard, honestly, over the years watching the guy flirt with girl after girl and then woman after woman.  He comes across as a natural charmer, but Yoongi knows the insecurity behind Namjoon’s words and actions.  He knows the man fears rejection.  Every sane human does, obviously, and Yoongi certainly hates when he’s not accepted by someone, but it doesn’t bother him as much as it bothers Namjoon.  Because Yoongi can look around at the six other guys who always have his back, he can look at Namjoon if no one else, and know that that is all that matters.

          Namjoon, however, despite being surrounded by people who love and care for him, despite having millions of adoring fans, despite being praised and recognized globally, still longs for that one person.

          Yoongi doesn’t quite get it.  He’s not sure what Namjoon needs or thinks he needs that he isn’t getting.  Intimacy?  He knows it’s not just a physical ache Namjoon is talking about.  It’s easy, after all, to attend to your physical needs as a guy, even as an idol whose every moves are being watched.  There are plenty of options and, if nothing else, locks on their doors these days.  But Yoongi knows Namjoon is a lot like him in that regard, and Namjoon requires closeness of another kind.

          He almost wants to turn around and just tell the guy that he can share things with him.  That he is sharing with him.  That he has and will continue to do so.  Yoongi almost rolls over and asks Namjoon what he means specifically, but Namjoon must have gotten spooked by his movement early, because he is slinking out of the bed without another word.

          And Yoongi wishes he had just shared a bit more before he left.

 

          It’s cheesy, Yoongi knows, but he also knows it’s true.  For all of his reclusiveness, for all of his anti-socialness, for all of his introversion, he knows man is not made to be alone.  He knows, while he hates being disturbed while he works, he actually prefers when Jungkook is sitting quietly on the couch behind him, working on studying English or editing a video.  The kid has his own studio now, though, so he rarely comes into Yoongi’s anymore, and while it doesn’t bother Yoongi, he does miss the mere presence of another person some days, especially when he finally gets something right or can’t get anything right and turns around to share his excitement or disappointment only to see no one.  Yoongi thinks he gets what Namjoon means, then, about wanting someone around to share things with.  But Yoongi has never really had to think about it, at least not for the past nine years. If he ever wants to share anything with anyone, he has always gone to Namjoon first and sometimes only.

          Namjoon is his someone, he realizes.  

          It doesn’t mean much.  It’s nothing revolutionary.  Yoongi just knows it.  He’s known for years.  But because it is so normal, so right, he tries to think about what it would feel like to not have that secure feeling in his chest, in his heart, in his soul and mind and very being, but he can’t even get through his imagination what that would feel like because the pain and awfulness and loneliness makes him frown immediately, so much so that he gets up out of his chair and hurries—he doesn’t hurry anywhere if he can’t help it, so he must look like a waddling penguin—down to Namjoon’s studio, barging in the door without even knocking because that’s just how things were with Namjoon.

          “Oh, hyung.  What’s up?” Namjoon says immediately, turning around with his headphones half on.  Because of course he’s there when Yoongi came looking for him.  He always was.  Yoongi knows this.  But Yoongi finds himself only staring at his friend because he doesn’t understand why Namjoon doesn’t feel the same back.  Because Yoongi is there for Namjoon.  He would and will and has and does make himself available whenever Namjoon needed and needs and will need him.  He is Namjoon’s someone, isn’t he?  Why doesn’t Namjoon know—

          “Shit,” Yoongi says when it hits him.  Perhaps Namjoon has been wanting him to wake up. Maybe he’s been waiting for him to turn around.  Maybe he wants him to hear him, and this whole time he hasn’t known that Yoongi was hearing him.  He was always hearing him.  And he always would.

          “What’s wrong?” Namjoon says back, a frown on his face as he makes to stand up.

          “I—” Yoongi starts but can’t finish.  What is he supposed to say?  Telling Namjoon something he must already know feels belittling.  But if he doesn’t know…if Namjoon doesn’t know something that Yoongi does…it seems impossible, and Yoongi refuses to think he is smarter than his friend.  “I forgot what I came in here for.”

          “Oh,” Namjoon says, visibly relaxing to the point where a little smile appears on his face like he’s about to tease Yoongi but knows he shouldn’t because he’s made the same mistake plenty of times.  There’s always too much on his mind, and Yoongi isn’t sure how either of them slosh through all of their thoughts to make sense of any of them even half of the time.

          “Well, if it’s important, you know where to find me,” Namjoon says before turning back around, and Yoongi already has his hand back on the door handle, but he opens his mouth one more time to rush out,

          “You know where to find me, too,” as if Namjoon needs reminding.

 

          He doesn’t.  He climbs back into Yoongi’s bed that night, just a few minutes after Yoongi got into bed himself.  If he was anyone else, Namjoon would probably just assume he was still awake, because most people couldn’t fall asleep so quickly, but, like Yoongi has said before, sleep deprivation can do that to a person.  But Namjoon knows Yoongi can fall asleep within seconds.  They all know, because almost all of them can do the same, and will if the circumstances are right.

          So Namjoon says Yoongi’s name once. Twice.  Three times.  His voice sounds closer but not louder, somehow even quieter.  But he feels closer.  Or Yoongi isn’t as close to the wall as he usually is.  Whatever the case, Yoongi can almost feel his body heat. The guy has always run warm.  Seokjin does, too, and Hoseok, another reason the younger ones love to cling to them so much.  Yoongi knows his lack of body fat and weight in general attributes to his chill and why he loves over-sized sweaters and pants, always pants, especially whenever they go outside.  It’s not even a cold night, and his AC isn’t even on, so he has no reason to want Namjoon’s heat closer to him, so he grips his sheet a little tighter as Namjoon settles behind him, seemingly content that he hasn’t woken him up.

          “Do you feel content even when you don’t feel happy?” Namjoon begins with for some reason, and Yoongi answers in his head so he doesn’t burst out an answer—Yes, sometimes; why do you ask? Do you?  What’s wrong? Tell me, Namjoon, why are you here? What can I do?  Tell me. “There’s this difference, right? Between happiness and joy.  I think you told me one time, something about depression, how even when you feel down you can usually find something to keep you going.  Obligation, mostly, or fear.  But your love of music mostly, right?  I guess I’ve just been thinking lately that I’m not sure most days what it is that’s keeping me going. Obviously I want to make everyone happy.  I mean, I know I can’t,” Namjoon softly chuckled, more half-heartedly than anything else, the sound sad and not deserving to be classified under a laugh.  

          “But letting our fans down…I can’t fathom that. I know I will.  I have.  I do. And at the end of the day, that’s okay, as long as I don’t let you all down.  As long as I don’t let you do.  Or myself,” Namjoon rushes, not giving Yoongi time to think about what he said. “I just wonder if that’s healthy. Is it okay, at the end of the day, to need the approval of others so much?  I know it isn’t.  It can’t be. It can’t be, because if it was, I wouldn’t feel like this.  I wouldn’t—”  The words seem to get stuck in Namjoon’s throat again, and Yoongi absolutely hates everything about the situation.  

          He hates that he isn’t sitting up.  He hates that the light isn’t on.  He hates that he is pretending to be asleep while Namjoon is fully awake.  He hates that they aren’t looking at each other, aren’t actually having a conversation. He hates that they’re in the same room but it feels like he’s just the wall and Namjoon is just some faceless entity behind him.

          “I—I was reading something the other day,” Namjoon finally says, his voice even quieter now.  And of course he was reading something the other day; even if it’s just a comic, Namjoon reads something every day.  Even if it’s just lyrics or their lines for an interview, Namjoon is always reading.  “And it just got me thinking—” Of course it did, Yoongi thinks again with another internally eyeroll.  The second Namjoon isn’t thinking is the day he will be dead, probably.

          “How, well—”  And this is new.  Namjoon stuttering or struggling with his words to Yoongi isn’t normal.  Sure, he’s rambled before and not made much sense, but he’s at least spilled out his words and then sorted through them.  But the hesitation in his voice concerns Yoongi. And not for the first time, he almost turns around, but Namjoon opens his mouth again, so Yoongi stays still.

          “I don’t know if I actually need it, or if it just made me think of it more, and therefore I think I need it.  You know, what came first, the chicken or the egg?”

          Yoongi not only has no idea what Namjoon is referring, but he also doesn’t give two shits about what came first; you can eat either.

          “It’s just, I mean, if no one had mentioned it, would I have known?”

          Yoongi has no idea.  Yoongi does not have any idea what Namjoon is talking about.

          “And it could be totally wrong, but I don’t know how I’m supposed to know unless I try, you know?”

          No.  Yoongi does not know.  In his frustration, he groans, just a little, but it’s enough.

          “Yoongi?” Namjoon says, the name more of a sucking in of air than anything else.  Cursing internally, Yoongi goes still, but the damage has been done.  “You awake?”

          He is, and he will be the rest of the night, especially since Namjoon doesn’t seem ready to risk it as he slinks off again before waiting to confirm whether Yoongi was faking or not.

 

          Whatever Namjoon was talking about, he doesn’t bring it up the next day.  But Yoongi knows Namjoon.  He knows all of his tells, so he knows the slightest curling of his shoulders and the smallest dipping of his head is enough to raise all of Yoongi’s alarms. He knows something is wrong, but he also knows if he asks Namjoon around anyone else what is wrong the guy will pretend like nothing is—the only time Yoongi was successful in getting Namjoon to admit what was wrong was when he finally confessed he was afraid he wasn’t going to be able to perform that night, and they had dealt with it together, the two of them, and the other five, and the managers; they had helped—so he tries to corner him.  Not in a threatening way, but he just needs to get him alone.  But getting any alone time, even with just another member, is nearly impossible these days.  He can’t even sneak away to the bathroom with Namjoon, so he fails the first day to ask.

          And the second.

          And the third.

          As the week continues, Yoongi grows frustrated, because while he is patient, if something is wrong he wants to deal with it. He’s a fixer, above all else, and Namjoon hasn’t come back to his bed, at least to his knowledge, and he doesn’t know what is wrong while something clearly is.

          So by the time Namjoon finally cracks his door open he has to try extra hard to pretend to be asleep because he’s been lying awake for hours trying to figure out what’s wrong.

          Asking Namjoon over text or even over the phone had been out of the question from the beginning, Namjoon hated one while Yoongi hated the other, so he tries to relax when Namjoon says his name.  He’s doing it from his doorway, though, like he’s extra cautious, and Yoongi feels himself growing impatient.  He needs to know now what is going on.

          His name comes from the edge of the bed a second time, and he stays still, his eyes shut and breathing slow.

          A knee presses into the bed before another one does, and Namjoon calls out softly, still inquisitively for Yoongi again. He hasn’t laid down yet, and Yoongi tries not to worry about it.  He tries to just wait patiently for his friend.  For Namjoon.

          “Yoongi?  Are you awake?” Namjoon says for a fourth time, and when Yoongi stays quiet, Namjoon sighs a little.  Perhaps Yoongi should turn around tonight, just this once, but Namjoon takes a deep breath and, while his voice is still a mere whisper, it sounds like he’s throwing a warm blanket over Yoongi, his words falling heavily on him, and he staggers a little under their weight.

          “Okay, this is really, really stupid.  I feel so, so stupid.  You’re definitely going to laugh at me when I finally admit all this to you one day.  When you’re awake.  But. Well, I thought it would be easier, I guess.  It’s just. God.”  Yoongi feels and hears Namjoon stall, his head tilting back as he takes a deep breath again and stares up at the ceiling instead of down at Yoongi, and nothing about any of this is making Yoongi feel good or relieved or less worried.

          “I’ve just thought about this over and over again. I’ve thought that if I just came in here, you might freak out.  But then I thought that you might think nothing of it.  Or you might think more of it than you should.  Like I’m clearly doing.”

          What? What are you talking about, Namjoon?  Yoongi wants to scream.  He wants to shake his friend’s shoulders and make him just look him straight in the eye and tell him at this point.  He wants him to feel comfortable telling him anything at anytime and anywhere, especially now, with no one else around, where no one else can hear him.  Yoongi has to know.  Everyone else does not need to know.  But Yoongi has to.

          “I know you won’t,” Namjoon says softly, his head clearly lowered, his words mumbled into his stupidly broad chest that Jimin loves falling into when he pretends to lose his balance when he’s laughing—how people buy that the ballerina among them is that clumsy is beyond Yoongi.  “You won’t reject me, not really.  So I’m trying to have no expectations.  But I’m human.  So that’s impossible.  And I know you.  So I do expect you to act a certain way.  But I’m just afraid that still, even with all of that, even after all this time, you’ll push me away.  Because I really shouldn’t ask.  At least, the world tells me I shouldn’t.  So I don’t know if I should.”

          Ask me what, Namjoon?  God damn it, spit it out, Yoongi groans internally, trying his hardest to not move and just let Namjoon get there on his own time, in his own way. Yoongi knows.  Everyone knows that Namjoon thinks so differently, so above all of them, that his greatest feats are when he can dumb himself down to their level, when he can talk like an “average,” “normal” person, someone who isn’t a literal genius.  Why he can talk so smoothly to interviewers and the other boys when they’re backstage but can’t seem to form a complete sentence with Yoongi now stirs something unsettling inside his stomach, and Yoongi wants the unpleasant feeling gone as soon as possible.  He needs Namjoon to hurry up.

          “Some days when I go off into a corner, I want you to follow me,” Namjoon mutters so quietly, too quietly, a spilled confession that Yoongi needs to have repeated.  “Which is stupid.  Unnecessary. I’m a grown man.  You have your own things to do.  I don’t need you to, like, I don’t know, be there for me when I have the slightest insecurity.  I thought at first that it was just something small, or weird, I don’t know.  I thought it would go away or get better, but every year it’s gotten worse.  I feel…I feel more and more distant, and more and more, I don’t know, God, needy?  Pathetic?  I almost asked you, the other day when you came in my studio, I almost asked you to stay. For no reason.  I just wanted, I don’t know,” Namjoon sighs again, going silent again as he thought.

          Yoongi was thinking, too, and thinking so hard that he didn’t even notice his eyes popped open.  He stared so intensely at his wall that he thought he might develop laser beam eyes.  He didn’t know if anyone specific had actually told Namjoon that he was being, what? “Pathetic” or “weird” for wanting, what? Yoongi nearby?  To spend time with him?  To have him comfort him?  Wasn’t that what friends were for?  Members for?  Wasn’t that what Yoongi had been doing for Namjoon and Namjoon had been doing for Yoongi for years?  Had Yoongi done something to make Namjoon think he was annoying or weak for wanting to hang out with him?  Had he told him too many times that he didn’t want to walk to Han River?  Did Namjoon actually think Yoongi didn’t enjoy spending every second he could with him?  Surely Namjoon knew that Yoongi couldn’t imagine not having Namjoon around, couldn’t imagine wanting to spend his time with anyone else as much as Namjoon.  Everyone knew, didn’t they?

          “So either I try and it goes away.  Or I try and it gets worse, like I’m some drug addict. Or I try and it gets better.  I only want one of those options, though, and it’s up to you.  So I’m just afraid.  I’m afraid, hyung, and I don’t know what to do.  And usually, when I don’t know what to do, I talk to you.  I ask you.  But with this, I—” Namjoon stops again, and Yoongi simply can not take it anymore.

          He turns around slowly, trying not to alarm the guy still kneeling on his bed, and even closes his eyes again.  Namjoon retreats just a little but tries to play it off, a smile in his voice when he whispers again,

          “Yoongi?  You awake?”

          “I was,” Yoongi mumbles, still trying to plan everything he wants to ask and say and confess and admit back before he opens his eyes.

          “Sorry for waking you,” Namjoon says, already starting to back off the bed.

          “Namjoon, wait,” Yoongi says, clearing his throat and opening his eyes to look up at the man finally.  There’s something different, always, about seeing Namjoon at night with his sleeveless shirts that hang so low on his chest and arms that Yoongi sometimes wonders why he wears one anyway.  Plus, the way he’s sitting, one leg already off the bed and one curled up under him makes him look small, or, young, as Namjoon is still a tower compared to Yoongi, especially while he’s sitting above him.  His head is cocked a little and his eyebrow is raised because of course he’s giving all of his attention to Yoongi now, his own problems already being pushed aside.  Yoongi has no guarantee that Namjoon will tell him now, will answer him, will ask for whatever he was going to, but he has weaseled many a secret out of the guy before, because while he’s patient, Yoongi is also stubborn and a little scary when he wants to know something, and he usually gets what he asks for and desires, so he fishes his hands out of his covers to reach his hands out to Namjoon, one barely touching his knee.  He finds it easier to look at his fingers than up at his friend, so he does, though he’s not sure if it’s more for himself or for Namjoon’s dignity.

          “What, uh, what were you going to ask me?”

          “What?” Namjoon says, blinking once before pressing his lips together.

          “What were you going to ask me?  Just do it, yeah?  You know I’ll say yes if I can, or I’ll talk you out of it if I think it’s a stupid idea, yeah?  But just trust me.  I may not be as smart as you, but you know I give good advice, so just tell me.”

          “You—” Namjoon says, his knee moving away from Yoongi’s fingers enough for Yoongi to rush to sit up, his fingers reaching out again.

          “Namjoon, hold on.  Don’t freak out.”

          “You, I—” Namjoon stutters, his cheeks glowing even in the dark.

          “Oh, come on, don’t be embarrassed.  It can’t be that bad.  Come on,” Yoongi prods softly, not wanting to tease or scare him. “I just need to know, yeah?  You can tell me anything.”

          “I know,” Namjoon sighs, looking down and sitting back fully on the bed.

          “Then come on,” Yoongi sighs back, sitting up completely so he’s by Namjoon.  He knocks his knee against his friend’s and then waits, because since Namjoon hasn’t run away Yoongi knows he’ll tell him now.

          “I just—”

          “Spit it out, rap it or something,” Yoongi almost jokes, and the tiniest of smiles appears on one side of Namjoon’s lips because it’s a stupid idea, absolutely ridiculous, and Yoongi is glad Namjoon doesn’t comply completely but does finally say something, anything.

          “I want you to hold me.”

          “You’re kind of heavy, Joon,” Yoongi says seriously, noticing immediately the way that Namjoon sighs and sinks into himself a little. “I mean, wait.  What do you mean?  You don’t mean pick you up, do you?”

          “No, of course not, that’s stupid.”

          “Well, excuse me.  So, then?”

          “Just,” Namjoon says, flopping his arms on his legs before leaving them both on his knee, his fingers almost touching Yoongi’s. Namjoon’s even seem to twitch and reach out a little, so Yoongi finds himself doing the same until they’re touching like some Michelangelo painting, though Yoongi’s not sure who’s Adam and who’s God in this situation, just that they’re touching and something is being created, started, decided between the two of them.  “Just want you to hold me.”

          “Oh,” Yoongi says slowly.  Carefully.  “Is that all?”

          “Is that—” Namjoon stammers, looking up finally to see Yoongi smiling gently at him.  “That’s—it’s.  It’s a lot. I know you—I mean, I don’t—”

          “It’s not that big of a deal, yeah?  Lie down, okay?”

          “Oh.  I mean, I didn’t mean—”

          “Namjoon.  Lie down, please,” Yoongi says, moving away to give the guy room.  He even tries to lift up the covers, and Namjoon has to get off of the bed completely before he can crawl properly into the bed.  He lies down on his side, obviously still tense, and Yoongi finally does roll his eyes at him as he lies back down beside him. Pushing gently on Namjoon’s shoulder, he tsks slightly.

          “Roll over.”

          “I—” Namjoon starts, but Yoongi only raises his eyebrows, and Namjoon rolls over, curling up a little.

          “I thought you were going to ask me something much weirder, honestly, you were freaking me out,” Yoongi sighs as he pulls the covers back over them.  It takes him a moment to get comfortable, and he’s not quite the right size for being behind Namjoon like this, so his arm is more on the man’s stomach than his hips by the time Yoongi fits his head on his friend’s shoulder.  He can tell Namjoon is still tense, and he eases back just a little to give him some space, but Namjoon finally moves his hand to Yoongi’s, keeping him close, so Yoongi relaxes as he feels Namjoon do the same.

          “Why didn’t you just ask me sooner?” Yoongi whispers once he’s comfortable again, and now that Namjoon is secure, he feels fine asking, because the guy isn’t going anywhere.

          “Why didn’t you wake up sooner?” Namjoon grumbles. With a scoff, Yoongi pokes him once, Namjoon immediately flinching and kicking his shin in retaliation.

          “I was awake the whole time, you ass,” Yoongi says, only wincing when Namjoon stills again.  “I mean.  I should have said something earlier.  But, yeah, I’ve been awake most of the times you’ve been talking to me.”

          “Oh,” Namjoon says dumbly, even though nothing he says is dumb.

          “Yeah.  Sorry I didn’t say anything sooner.”

          “It’s okay.  I think I knew,” Namjoon admits, making Yoongi hum.

          “Yeah?”

          “Yeah.  I mean, maybe I wanted to pretend you weren’t.  It was easier that way.”

          “Joon,” Yoongi sighs, turning his friend over a little so he can look him in the eye.  “What’s the big deal?  You want a hug?  I’m here to give you a hug.  Any of us are.  Anytime, yeah?”

          “Yeah,” Namjoon says, though Yoongi knows, he just knows, that that’s not all.

          “What is it?  Please tell me.”

          “Do you—do you remember what I said about wanting someone?” Namjoon whispers, his eyes darting all over Yoongi’s face. Yoongi simply nods, remembering that particular night well.  But Namjoon doesn’t say anything else, and his eyes move less and less until Yoongi can tell he’s about to look away and pull away and move away and—

          “Wait,” Yoongi says, bringing up his hand to stop Namjoon’s head from moving.  An extra precaution, really, and Namjoon instantly looks so uncomfortable with Yoongi’s fingers on his cheek that he removes them, not sure why Namjoon’s frown only grows when he does.  “Namjoon, you know I’m here for you, right?  Whatever you need, I’m here.”

          “I know,” Namjoon says, but it sounds petulant and stubborn and upset.

          “Namjoon, I don’t understand.”  Yoongi resists sighing because he must.  But he is tired.  So tired.  And he knows Namjoon is, too.  “I need you to pretend I’m stupid, you know, like you have to pretend so often, and explain to me what you’re talking about.”

          “You’re not stupid, hyung,” Namjoon mutters, looking away briefly before frowning up at Yoongi.  Yoongi merely cocks his head and gives Namjoon a pressed lip dumb smile that he knows makes the other laugh and relax usually.  “Okay, maybe you look stupid when you make that face,” Namjoon smiles, poking Yoongi’s cheek that he purposefully puffs out so it can deflate, and he purposefully spills all of the air back into Namjoon’s face, making the guy cough a little and swat at his face playfully.

          “Come on, I want to know,” Yoongi encourages him again, trying not to poke him into submission.

          “I want someone,” Namjoon begins, “to trust and know is there for me.  To, I don’t know, love.”

          “Okay,” Yoongi says slowly.  “Am I not that?  Don’t you trust me?  I’m here for you, you know.  And I love you.”

          “I know, I know, hyung, but,” Namjoon says slowly, finally looking back at Yoongi.

          “Oh,” Yoongi finally says when he gets it.

          “Yeah,” Namjoon mutters.

          “Oh,” Yoongi says again like an idiot.  “Oh, Namjoon.”

          “Yeah,” Namjoon sighs, trying to weasel his way out of the bed, but Yoongi, despite his smaller frame, isn’t about to let him get away, so he does the only thing he can think of.  He grabs Namjoon’s shirts and climbs on top of his hips, both actions making Namjoon still and squawk a little.  This is important.  This is what he should have said the other day when he burst into his studio.  He has to know.  “What’re you—” he says, his hands raised like that little kitten Yoongi has watched too many times in the video being tickled.

          “Shut up.  I’m going to talk now, and you’re going to listen.  You can pretend you’re asleep, if you need to.  Don’t look at me, if that makes it easier, but listen to me, okay?”

          “O-okay,” Namjoon whispers, lowering his hands until they’re barely brushing Yoongi’s legs.

          “I’m an idiot, you know this.  Even though I’m also not.  Just like you’re an idiot but you’re a genius.  Everyone in the world is an idiot, okay?  Now that that’s established, let’s address how you think you’re pathetic for asking me to hold you.  You’re not.  You’re not,” Yoongi says fiercely when Namjoon’s mouth starts to open.  “Do you think I’m weak or pathetic when I ask someone to hold my hand after getting overwhelmed?”

          “Of course not!” Namjoon says quickly.

          “So, see?  You can’t be for asking something similar.”

          “But hyung, it’s different.”

          “How so?”

          “Because you—you’ll ask anyone.  I just—I just want to ask you.”

          “Oh.  Okay, okay,” Yoongi nods, everything still becoming clearer by the second.  “Okay, I get that.  I mean, I think I get that.  Look, there’s nothing wrong with only wanting to ask me, okay?  You hear me?  That just makes me special.  And I mean, who can blame you?  I’m pretty awesome,” Yoongi said, puffing his chest out a little, enough for Namjoon to pinch his thigh.  Swatting his hand away, Yoongi puts his hand on Namjoon’s chest and shakes a finger at him.

          “Correct me if I’m wrong, yeah, but maybe it’s just because you trust me, maybe more than the others.  You’re just more comfortable with me than the others, even if just by a little.  Am I right?" Namjoon nodded gently, his lips pressed together and his eyes fixed on Yoongi’s face.

          “Okay, I get that.  You know that I trust you, too, right?  More than others.  You know I come to you first for, like, everything, right?  That I’d rather talk to you than anyone else about everything, right?  You know this, right?”  Another nod, smaller this time, but still evident.

          “Okay, so you know how we push people away that we care about the most?  You go to a corner instead of just asking me to follow you?  Do you think I can read your mind?  I don’t know what you want all the time.  If you’re afraid of me saying no, I can get that.  Asking for anyone to just hold my hand takes a lot, you know?  It always makes me feel, well, as you put it, pathetic.  But I know it’s not.  So you’re not pathetic.  Okay?”

          “Okay,” Namjoon says quietly.

          “Okay,” Yoongi says, putting a little pressure on Namjoon’s chest before lifting himself off of him, but Namjoon’s hands finally move, both of them grabbing Yoongi’s hips with enough force to keep him still.

          “Can you just, just for a minute, stay?”

          “Sure,” Yoongi smiles, easing back down on Namjoon’s hips.  The man looks infinitely relieved under him, but he still starts to move his hands, so Yoongi takes them both in his and twists their fingers around each other until they’re fitting together.  He raises them up in the air a little as if they were making an archway for someone to pass under before bringing them back down in front of him, resting on Namjoon’s chest.

          “I know you’re going to say yes, but can I ask a question?” Yoongi hums as he watches Namjoon’s face soften.

          “’course.”

          “When you say someone,” Yoongi says gently, “do you mean me?  Or just, I don’t know, someone in general?”  Trailing off, he waits, because he knows now, he knows what Namjoon has been trying to say, but he needs Namjoon to know that he knows, and the only way Namjoon will know is if he tells him.

          “I wish, I want,” Namjoon says, his breath sounding ragged, “yes.  Yeah.”

          “Is it not?  Am I not?  Why am I not your someone?”

          “You—you’re—I mean, I figured I should talk to you about it first—”

          “What, while I was sleeping?” Yoongi teases, unable to stop himself, grateful when Namjoon frowns a little in slight annoyance.

          “I mean, you get what I’m saying, don’t you, Yoongi?”

          “Of course.  I’m not a genius, but, Namjoon, you’ve been my someone for years.  Surely you knew this,” Yoongi says simply, watching as Namjoon’s mouth opens a little, the shape of an “o” speaking volumes and certainly more than Namjoon is verbalizing.  

          “Is that—are you really okay with that?  Do you, I mean, do you really know what I mean?”

          “Namjoon, I never know exactly what you mean unless you tell me.  Do you want to hug me?  Date me? Kiss me?  Marry me?”

          “I,” Namjoon sputters, his eyes so wide Yoongi can’t help but cackle a little.  “No, no, I just—”

          “Just want me to hold you?  Want me to be your someone until you find someone else?”

          “What?  No, I don’t want to find someone else,” Namjoon huffs, and Yoongi feels his own smile soften.  “I mean. Hyung, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, much less the year after that.  But there’s this tear in me, this void that makes me feel so raw and empty and sad, and whenever I take the time to think about it, my thoughts just come back to you, and I just want to be near you.  I think I might be—”

          “Oh, Namjoon,” Yoongi says, unable to stop himself from cupping Namjoon’s face again.  He thankfully doesn’t flinch this time but actually seems to sigh a little and lean into it.  While Yoongi’s never said it, he has always assumed Namjoon has known for years like he has known for years, but he supposes he should take his own advice.

          “You know I love you, right?” Yoongi breathes, watching again as Namjoon’s eyes spring open and get comically wide.  His head barely shakes, but it’s enough for Yoongi to sigh and tap his thumb on the guy’s cheek.  “Idiot,” he whispers, though it’s more to himself than to Namjoon. “I kind of thought you felt the same. But I guess I’ll never know—”

          “I do,” Namjoon blurts out like he’s afraid Yoongi’s teasing was serious and he was about to leave him in the middle of all of this.  “I do love you, Yoongi.”

          “Okay,” Yoongi hums, letting go of Namjoon’s other hand to press his own against his chest as gently as he can.  “Do you feel better now?  Does it feel better?”

          “I always feel better when I’m with you,” Namjoon mutters, his cheeks slightly red.

          “Sap,” Yoongi says, tapping his chest softly before rubbing his thumb back and forth over Namjoon’s shirt, the material getting bunched up and caught in between his fingers more and more.

          “Guess you’re just stuck to me,” Namjoon says so annoyingly that Yoongi groans and actually swats at him again, rolling off of him before Namjoon can protest.

          “Either get out or let me hold you.  I’m tired,” he grumbles, glad when Namjoon’s back is turned so he can hide his smile.  He knows Namjoon is smiling too even though he kicks him a little too hard as he settles back against him.  It feels right, now, better, even, when he wraps his arm around him again and breaths into his neck so closely that Namjoon shivers and raises his shoulder to try to get him to go away.

          “Yoongi,” Namjoon says after a moment, “you asleep?”

          “No,” Yoongi huffs, intent to never pretend to be so again as long as it’s Namjoon asking.  “Because someone keeps trying to talk to me.”

          “Should I—should I tell everyone?”

          “Do you want to?”

          “I feel like I should,” Namjoon says, and Yoongi only attempts to hold him tighter.

          “I hear you.  But that doesn’t mean you have to.  I know.  Isn’t that enough?  Everyone doesn’t need to know.”

          “Yeah, yeah, that’s enough.  You’re enough,” Namjoon sighs again, finally closing his eyes and relaxing.  Yoongi knows Namjoon well enough to know it won’t be the end of their conversation. Yoongi knows Namjoon will probably freak out in the morning, or even in the middle of the night.  He knows he’ll shy away when he wants Yoongi around more than anything or anyone else.  He knows he’ll continue to expect Yoongi to just know.  And he does know.  Yoongi knows. And now Namjoon knows he knows. So that’s enough.  That will be enough.

 

          Yoongi has been sleeping in the dorms more. Everyone has noticed.  Namjoon hasn’t been sleeping in his own room. Everyone knows.  But if Namjoon, who is everything to so many people, has found someone to ease his burdens, to share his secrets with, to let himself relax around, to finally sleep next to, to love and be loved by, no one has to know. Because Yoongi knows.  And Namjoon knows.  And that’s enough.  That will be enough.