Jimin was the first to notice it.
‘It’ being: Joonie loved being cute and treated as such.
On one of their fleetingly rare days off, they went shopping; while their stylists do an amazing job at dressing them up and making them look their best, sometimes they just wanted to cater to their own styles and wear what they wanted.
So, clad in the classic hats-and-sunglasses combo (that somehow almost always worked), they clambered into a taxi together and headed for Starfield COEX. Jungkook offered to drive, but they were all pretty tired and didn't want to ask that of him.
It was when Jimin exited a changing room in an oversized canary-yellow sweater and pink shorts, he noticed it.
Everyone cooed and he shot them a blank, unimpressed stare in return.
"Our adorable Jiminie looks good in anything!" Hoseok declared, grasping at his heart and collapsing off the sofa.
"If that's the case, can we have one shopping trip where I can try on suits rather than..." He waved his sleeves that fell past his hands, flapping them like awkward wings.
"It just suits you, Jimin-ssi," Jungkook teased. "Just like how Tae only looks good in Gucci; Yoongi-hyung in his try-hard Agust D gear; Namjoon in those CEO-suits that make fans call him 'Daddy'--"
Namjoon groaned and buried his face in his hands. "Do not," he mumbled, muffled by his palms.
"I'd rather that than 'baby'," Jimin muttered. Truthfully, he didn't mind it; it just got a bit too much after a while. He was cute, sure, but he was certainly capable of the opposite.
Namjoon's eye appeared between his fingers. "Just--sometimes, y'know? I wouldn't mind 'baby' instead." He coughed.
The others tuned out of their conversation at this point, debating between pieces for everyone's next outfit to try on, but Jimin had his gazed fixed firmly upon Namjoon. Maybe he stared too long, because Namjoon's cheeks were filling with colour and he ran a hand through his hair--a nervous gesture. He glanced away at the others, clearly avoiding Jimin's eyes, which... was quite telling. If it had just been a flippant comment, why was he getting so flustered?
"Joonie-hyung," Jimin chimed, smiling when the older man looked at him, still flushed. "Can I pick your next outfit?" He clapped his hands together. "Please?"
Namjoon blinked owlishly, clearly having expected teasing, and then shrugged. "Yeah, if you want." He looked towards the blazers before dropping his gaze to his phone.
Jimin hummed as he passed by the blazers and button-up shirts to explore more sweaters. He glanced behind him, but Namjoon was transfixed by his phone now, so Jimin allowed himself time to assess the clothing racks. A kaleidoscope of colours littered the shelves, but he was immediately drawn to the pastel pink peeking through a stack of sweatshirts.
He tugged it out to take a look and was certain he wouldn't find anything better suited than this: cotton candy coloured with long sleeves which, at the end, had a couple white stripes at the bottom. There was one white pocket on the chest with a little tiny peach decal stitched in pink.
He pictured Namjoon in it, the long sleeves falling past his knuckles, and slung it over his arm. Maybe Namjoon would laugh at it, find it ridiculous, but... Jimin had a feeling he'd like it.
Lightwash blue jeans with rolled up hems, a pair of pink socks with soft blue stripes, and a white pair of sneakers joined his pile to form Jimin's outfit for Namjoon. He stared at the jewellery for a long while but found himself scoffing at all of it. It was far too gaudy; he could order Namjoon way better accessories later.
(Then he stopped and wondered if he was a snob, decided that yes, he was a bit, but he'd earned that right and didn't really care.)
Everyone looked up when he arrived back at the changing rooms.
"Took you long enough," Yoongi mumbled, chin propped up in his hand. "Did you go to another store?"
"I wouldn't be surprised," Taehyung said. "Jiminie always likes to win at our shopping trips." He paused, smiling with faux innocence. "Not that there's any chance of beating me, but it's cute that you all try."
Jin smacked the back of his head. "Cockiness isn't cute, Taehyung-ah." He looked around the room, at everyone's piles of clothes in their laps. "Well, give the clothes you chose to whoever you chose them for and let's try them on already!"
They traded piles -- and Yoongi nearly toppled over with the amount Taehyung dropped in his arms -- and Jimin tried to swallow the nervousness as he passed his to Namjoon. Would he notice the colours and scoff and refuse to try it on? Would he laugh? Would he tell Jimin it'd suit him better?
But he didn't seem to notice anything and just smiled lopsidedly at him. "I did yours too," he said, sliding a rather monochromatic stack over to Jimin.
It was totally white, he realised, reigning in a sigh. Probably more cutesy stuff he'd have to pretend to like. But maybe if Joonie likes his unexpected outfit, he'll realise I might like something different too.
"Great!" Jimin exclaimed a little too loudly. "Let's try these on, then!"
They all disappeared into different fitting rooms and Jimin slug everything up on separate hooks before grabbing the first item.
Unfurling it, he was greeted by the sight of a blazer and, yes, it was white, but the collar contrasted it with a bold red. He stroked the crimson and raised his brows; it was silk, while the rest of the blazer was wool.
My, my, color blocking and crossing materials. How adventurous, Joonie.
He grabbed the shirt next, curious now that he knew he wasn't being dressed in the typical cutesy fashion, and realised he'd been wrong before: the outfit Namjoon chose wasn't monochromatic at all; along with the bright red collar on the jacket, the blouse was a forest green with gold buttons.
He pulled it on, then the blazer, and finally tugged the slacks that went with it. They were white too, but folded at the bottom to reveal red-and-green plaid lining. He went to grab the white socks, only to belatedly realise when he touched the soft fabric that it was actually a neck scarf. Colour me surprised, Joonie-hyung , he thought, slipping it around his neck and tying a knot to secure it. Finally, he slipped on the white converse with a soft snort (because only Namjoon would pair this sultry stylish suit with sneakers) and looked in the mirror.
He was used to every type of style, really; couldn't not be, after the myriad of music videos they'd filmed and award shows they'd attended, but... everyone tended to slap the 'cute' label on him; he was just used to dressing that way too. But this--this was... different. He felt like the CEO people thought Namjoon looked like.
And honestly, Namjoon called him "cute" almost as much as their fans did, so he was caught off-guard by the outfit their leader chose for him. He couldn't have known Jimin was a bit bored of the big sleeves and pastel jeans; he hadn't said anything about it. And yet...
"Did Namjoon-hyung get you bondage gear or something? You're taking ages, Jiminie!" Taehyung called, startling him out of his reverie and, oops, how long had he been staring at his reflection?
He pulled the curtain away and stepped out to see Jungkook pressing himself against another door.
"Are you harassing someone, Kookie?" Jimin gasped.
Jungkook unfurled himself from where he was trying to see over the top of the door. "Only Namjoon-hyung," he said. "He hasn't come out yet either--oh, wow, Jimin-hyung." Jungkook's eyes widened as his gaze swept over him. "You look good."
Everyone ceased their conversations to look up after they heard that.
Hoseok slowly pulled his eyes off of his phone. "Oh, Chimchim, cute--" He cut himself off when he actually saw him, then whistled lowly. "Actually, you don't look cute. You look hot."
"Joonie picked it out," Jimin said, lips curving into a smile. "I love it. Don't you wanna see how it looks, hyung?" he asked the closed door.
"Uh. Yeah, I. I do, just." A small huff. "I look..." He trailed off, which was unusual; Namjoon wasn't one to struggle for words.
"Aww, c'mon, Joon-ah," Jin prompted, "if Jiminie chose your outfit, I'm sure it looks good. Just be glad you didn't have to pair up with Kook-ah."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Jungkook asked. He didn't sound offended at all as his eyes dropped to the outfit he'd chosen for Jin. It looked like three shirts had been stitched together; a real Frankenstein's monster of a shirt. His pants were khaki joggers that clashed horribly with the tri-coloured top.
The door clicked open and Namjoon shot them all a thin-lipped, awkward smile with wide eyes. "You can laugh," he told them, raising a hand to rub his neck, then flicking his wrist to get the sleeve out of his way because it was two sizes too big. When he dropped his arm again, abandoning the gesture, the sleeve fell past his fingertips and, god, it was practically a dress; it reached Namjoon's mid-thigh and, although he was clearly taller than the others, he somehow looked so small in it.
"Oh my god, cute," Jungkook blurted out.
Namjoon turned red before shoving Jungkook. It must've been a gentle push though, because Jungkook didn't even budge.
"Don't blush, Joonie-hyung, it clashes with your cute pink sweater," Jimin admonished, which only made him blush more. Jimin had to press his hand against his mouth to stop the 'awww' that was bubbling up. God, there was just this coil of pressure bubbling up inside of him that made his palms itch. He wanted to hug Namjoon.
"Namjoon-hyung looks adorable like that," Taehyung said, unlocking his phone and holding it up to Namjoon. "Pose, hyung!"
Namjoon struck two peace signs and shot a dimpled smile with crescent-moon eyes.
"Cuuute," Taehyung cooed as he snapped photos.
Jungkook sidled up behind Namjoon and grabbed his arms, lifting them up and letting the sleeves flop over his hands. "So cute," Jungkook breathed. Namjoon ducked his head, ears bright red.
Jimin hummed, smirking to himself. It seemed he was right: Namjoon really did like cute things.
"Guys, stop..." he mumbled, looking a little overwhelmed.
"Taetae, take a photo of Jiminie and Namjoonie together!" Hoseok exclaimed, hopping over the sofa.
Jimin beamed as he pressed up next to Namjoon and slipped an arm around his waist, feeling Namjoon jolt beneath his touch. "That looks adorable on you, Joonie-hyung." He beamed.
Namjoon laughed, a little breathless sound. "You look good too, Jiminie," he said in lieu of responding to the compliment. "Do you, uh. Do you like what I picked?"
"I love it!" Jimin grinned and Namjoon smiled back. He felt the older man relax a bit against his arm. "I thought you'd pick out something... well, cute."
"I thought you'd appreciate a change." Namjoon shrugged. "And yeah, yeah. I thought you'd pick something more..." He waved a hand.
Jimin tilted his head. "I thought you'd appreciate a change," he parroted.
Namjoon laughed and looked down at his pastel outfit, smile softening and cheeks flushing. "I did," he mumbled, quiet enough that Jimin knew he wasn't supposed to hear it.
And, really, if Joonie wanted cute things, Joonie would get cute things.
He squeezed him closer and delighted in the almost-but-not-quite-inaudible "mmph" noise that got stuck in Namjoon's throat.
Jungkook was the next to realise.
"Jin-hyung, get over here! We're starting the race!" Namjoon called.
Jungkook slung Jin over his shoulder to carry him into another room while cameras tracked their every movement for the next episode of Run, then deposited him smoothly beside the others.
He looked up just in time to see Namjoon's eyes flicker away. Huh, okay.
"Okay, guys, we're having a race," Hoseok declared. "It's also a test of strength, though: carry someone to the other side, but then the other person has to carry the first one back."
"Oof, hope Yoongi-yah doesn't have to pair with Joon-ah." Jin chuckled.
Namjoon gave an awkward little laugh, but Yoongi snorted. "Please, I could carry Joon-ah."
"He's like a beanstalk to you," Taehyung said. "No offense."
Namjoon was looking elsewhere like he'd stopped listening to the conversation, but he was nibbling on his bottom lip and his shoulders were raised in a tight straight line.
Jungkook wasn't totally sure, but... "Can I pair up with Namjoon-hyung?" he asked over the buzz of conversation.
Namjoon blinked at him, but didn't show any surprise other than that. Jungkook wouldn't have noticed if he hadn't been looking for it.
"It's your funeral," Jin joked.
Namjoon's laugh sounded forced to Jungkook's ears.
"Just 'cause Jin-hyung has the strength of a toddler," Jungkook scoffed.
Jin gaped. "Rude! Yoongi-yah, did you hear--?"
"Maybe tell him off?" Jin demanded.
"Can't punish the guy for being right." Yoongi shrugged.
Huffing exaggeratedly, Jin ambled over to Hoseok while Jungkook ambled up to Namjoon with a small smile. "Do you mind, hyung? Being my partner?"
Namjoon scratched his neck. "'Course I don't mind," he said, slinging an arm around Jungkook's shoulders. "Just--you sure? You'll probably lose if you're with me." He chuckled. "Y'know, 'cause of..." He waved a hand around himself. "All this."
Jungkook tilted his head. "Remember the reason I joined BTS was because of--" He gestured to Namjoon. "--all of this."
Namjoon covered his mouth and laughed, eyes crinkling. "Oh my god."
Jungkook beamed. "Let's do our best."
After listening to the rules, everyone rushed to the starting line and jumped on each others' backs. Namjoon slid his hands beneath Jungkook's knees as the younger man clambered on his back.
Jungkook knew he was heavier than last time he'd jumped on Namjoon, so he was surprised that he made no noise of protest.
"I'll try and win this leg of the race," Namjoon whispered as Taehyung called a countdown. "So maybe it'll make up for the next part."
Jungkook didn't get why Namjoon was so sure they'd lose. Did he really think Jungkook couldn't lift him? He'd done it before...
But had he, though? He remembered grabbing almost all of the others and carrying them somewhere else, but now that he thought about it, he couldn't recall doing it to Namjoon.
He was pretty sure it was because he was low-key scared of him in the past; now it was probably a respect thing. But Namjoon looked so put out when Jin-hyung joked about no one being able to do it...
"--two... one... go!"
Namjoon propelled forward, long legs carrying him further than the others. Jungkook chanced a glance behind them: Jimin was closest, with Yoongi on his back, while Hoseok and Jin were a little behind them; Jin kept sliding down Hoseok's back, by the looks of it.
Namjoon's sharp gasp forced Jungkook's attention back on him. Namjoon bent over a little to let Jungkook off and, oh, damn, he'd gotten them to the first line fast.
"Quick, hyung, get on." Jungkook knelt down and glanced back.
Namjoon's face was twisted in a grimace as he gingerly wove his arms around Jungkook's shoulders and pressed up against his back. "Sorry if I'm too heav--"
Jungkook stood--and bolted.
Namjoon squeaked and grabbed fistfuls of Jungkook's shirt. Jungkook breathed a laugh at his reaction, then winked at a gaping Jin and Hoseok as he dashed past them.
"How the f--"
"Jin-hyung, we're filming, don't swear!" Jimin admonished from his perch on Yoongi's back as they jogged past them.
Jungkook passed the finish line first, as he'd anticipated, and turned his head to grin at Namjoon. "We did it, hyung!"
"Ah--wow, uh. Yeah. Good work, Jungkook-ah." He paused. "You... you can put me down now." He chuckled. "This must be hurting your arms."
"Not really," Jungkook said, but gently let go of Namjoon to let him slide off. "You're not that heavy, you know." He turned to smile at him, immediately faltering when he caught the bright blush dusting Namjoon's cheeks.
Did... did he like being carried that much?
Yoongi gasped as he crossed the finish line, dropping Jimin almost right away. He dropped easily to his feet and muffled a giggle behind his hand. "Yoongi-hyung needs to work out," he said.
Yoongi batted his head.
Jin was practically limping over the line, a bored Hoseok propping his chin up in his palm, elbow resting on Jin's shoulder.
"The strength of a toddler," Jungkook reiterated.
Jin smacked his back with a huff.
"Namjoon-hyung and Jungkook-ah are the winners, obviously," Taehyung piped up. "Congrats, guys."
"What do we win?" Namjoon asked.
Taehyung shrugged. "A sense of self-satisfaction?"
"Not receiving a penalty is the real prize," Hoseok mumbled solemnly. Jin landed a heavy hand on his shoulder, just as glum.
Jungkook rounded on Namjoon and snaked his arms behind his shoulders and beneath his knees, then yanked him up. Namjoon looked too shocked to even make a noise. "We did it, Namjoon-hyung!"
Namjoon barked one of those too-loud laughs he did when he was embarrassed, the tips of his ears flaring red as he did. "Oh my god--we get it, Kookie, you're strong! You can put me down now." He'd normally look away at that point, but there were still cameras and he clearly wasn't sure where he could safely avert his gaze to.
"I'm not just trying to prove my strength, hyung - everyone knows about that already," Jungkook said quietly with an impish grin. "I just felt like manhandling our cute leader."
Namjoon sputtered and hid his face behind his hands--for a grand total of two seconds before he grabbed Jungkook's shoulders again to steady himself.
Jungkook caught Namjoon smiling to himself for the rest of the day.
Jin realised next, partially thanks to Jimin and Jungkook.
Jin didn't have to cook anymore, but he liked to anyway, sometimes. So it was when he was pouring over pancakes that Jimin and Jungkook flung the front door open and called out in a sing-song voice, "Namjoonie-hyung!"
Jin stared at them. "It's only nine, you know. No one has to be up for a couple hours--in fact, why were you up?" His eyes dropped to the laden bags they were holding and he cocked an eyebrow. "You've been shopping?"
Namjoon poked his head around the doorway, blinking sleep out his eyes. "Wassup?" he slurred, hair pushed up in more than one direction, an indent of the pillow marring his cheek.
"Aww," Jimin cooed, chuckling with an eye-crinkling smile. "Joonie-hyung looks so cute when he's just woken up."
Jin raised his eyebrows again, huffing a laugh. "Cute?" he echoed. He won't like that, he thought, glancing back at Namjoon, who--was blushing.
"Guys..." Namjoon admonished weakly, rubbing at a flushed cheek. "C'mon, what's up? We have a rare free morning and I planned to sleep through it."
Jungkook jostled the bags they were holding. "We got you something!"
Namjoon blinked slowly, like he was struggling to process everything.
Taking pity on the half-asleep man, Jin grabbed the teapot and poured some green tea into an earthenware cup--Namjoon's favourite. "Joon-ah, here," he said, sliding it over the countertop.
Namjoon glanced at him and smiled, sidling up to the counter and dropping into a stool, wrapping his hands around the cup.
Jin noticed he tugged his sleeves down over his hands. "You cold, Joon-ah?"
"Huh? No." Namjoon cocked his head, keeping his sweater paws fixed around the cup.
"Joonie-hyung!" Jimin exclaimed, already fed up with waiting. He flung his arms around Namjoon's neck and squeezed him into a hug. "We want you to check out the stuff we bought you!"
"God." Namjoon took a long drag of the tea before heaving a relieved sigh. "Okay, but I haven't got you guys anything..."
"Can't we just get you presents sometimes?" Jimin clearly wasn't expecting an answer, more preoccupied with extracting products from the many logo-emblazoned bags strewn across the floor. He pulled out a grey--dress? At least, that's what it looked like to Jin. Jimin held it up to Namjoon and nodded in approval. "Okay, put it on."
Namjoon took it gingerly. "Shouldn't I... comb my hair? And stuff?"
Jimin's hands landed on his shoulders and he jumped, eyes wide.
"No, your messy hair is perfect for this," Jimin said.
Namjoon made a face, but shrugged. "Okay." He pulled off his Ryan pyjama top.
"Oh, and take your pants off."
Namjoon stared at him and quirked a brow. "At least buy me dinner first."
"Pyjama pants--not your boxers." Jimin wiggled his eyebrows. "Unless you want to."
Namjoon snorted and rolled his eyes, but tugged off his pyjama bottoms, folding them neatly.
Jin muffled a snort behind his hand; Namjoon often just tossed his clothes into something vaguely resembling a pile, but he took care of his Ryan pyjamas like they were precious. It was kind of sweet.
Namjoon pulled the maybe-dress over his head and promptly got stuck. Jungkook laughed and helped him fathom out the maze of fabric, finally popping his head through the top, and--
Jin was prepared to laugh at him, but... he actually looked sort of... cute.
The sleeves drooped past his fingertips and the hem rested a few inches above his knees. He hadn't taken his socks off; one of them was tugged up to mid-calf while the other sagged by his ankle. Jungkook took the liberty of pulling the hood over Namjoon's head, and it--oh god, it had little koala bear ears sticking up on top.
Jin made a strangled noise and Namjoon's face flared red.
They all looked up at the sound of a low whistle to find Hoseok in the doorway, grinning like a hyena. "Looking hot, Namjoonie," he said with a snicker. "You and Jiminie swapping roles again?"
Jin snorted. "Rapper Jiminie and dancer Namjoon-ah." He sniggered. "Joon-ah's been practising his aegyo just for this."
Hoseok laughed. "Do you dress up like this and practice in the mirror, Joonie?"
Jungkook and Jimin glowered at them, which--was unexpected. Jin expected them to join in, tease Namjoon a little - but then, the maknae were all weirdly respectful of Namjoon.
"It suits him," Jungkook said, reaching up to squish the bear ears.
"Yeah, the adorable dress fits our hard leader perfectly," Jin said between giggles. "I can see the headlines now: K-Pop band BTS's leader - from Daddy to Daddy's Baby Boy."
Hoseok exploded in a fit of laughter.
Namjoon tore himself from Jungkook's grip. "This is stupid," he muttered, grabbing the hem to pull off the long hoodie.
"What? Hyung, you look so cute!" Jimin squawked, grabbing Namjoon's hands to stop him.
"I don't," Namjoon snapped. "I--you look good in stuff like this; I just look--" He cut himself off, cringing, and yanked it off, thrusting it into Jimin's arms. "Thanks for thinking of me, guys, but--" He shook his head jerkily. "I can't be like you." He looked up to see Jimin's face fall and he grimaced, shoving past Hoseok to escape the room.
Hoseok blinked, then turned to the kitchen's other occupants. "Did... I say something wrong?"
Jungkook rolled his eyes and Jimin snorted. "What do you think?" he snapped, then rounded on Jin. He looked ready to shout, embers burning behind dark eyes, but his voice was hushed when he said, "Namjoon-hyung's experimented with feminine clothing before--you've even taken a Kim Daily photo for him wearing a skirt, so why would you mock him for this?"
A wave of nausea rolled in Jin's gut. "Shit," he said. "No, I--that's not what I--"
"It wasn't that!" Hoseok exclaimed, eyes wide and face pale. "We were just teasing--because, y'know, the koala bear thing, and..." He gestured awkwardly, face pinched.
"You guys need to apologise," Jungkook said, brows heavy with disappointment, and Jin winced when his eyes landed on him. "Jin-hyung, you were kinda rude to him during the race the other day, too."
He balked. Was he? He filtered through the film of his memory but found nothing.
It must have shown on his face, because Jungkook huffed and told him, "You were saying anyone would be unlucky to partner with him, 'cause no one could carry him."
Jimin grimaced at that.
Jin grabbed the edge of the counters, biting the inside of his lip. "I..." He looked away, then tossed his spatula aside and turned off the stove. Grabbing the tea he'd made and the hoodie Namjoon tossed aside, he bolted past the others.
"Hyung, the food--"
"Who cares? I'll make more later!" he called, already barrelling down the hallway and nearly running into Namjoon's door. He knocked before he could stop to think about it.
"Namjoon-ah? It's me." Because knowing it was Jin would definitely make Namjoon open up. "Can I come in?"
A pause. Then the doorknob twisted and the door creaked open. He stepped inside and shut it behind him, and Namjoon was already back at his PC, pouring over a soundtrack, headphones half-on. Jin glanced over his outfit: he'd changed into a grungy grey sweatshirt and the baggiest black joggers he owned, a very Mic Drop look. He usually wore that sort of thing when he was sick or too tired to bother putting an outfit together.
"Joon-ah..." he started, trailing off because, well. What should he even say?
He must've paused too long because Namjoon spun around in his chair, face carefully blank. "What's up? You need something?" He glanced down and grimaced when he saw the grey fabric in Jin's arms.
Jin set down the teapot and cups and then unfurled the hoodie. "Hey... Hobi and I were just kidding, Joon-ah--"
"Oh, that? Yeah, I know, don't worry about it." Namjoon tugged his other headphone back over his ear and turned to his screen again.
Jin gently pried it off and forced a faux-offended huff when Namjoon scowled at him for it. "Listen to your hyung, Joonie."
Namjoon rolled his eyes, but removed his headphones and spun around to face him. "What is it."
"Just--" He grimaced, forcing himself to meet Namjoon's eyes. "I'm sorry. I was just teasing, but I was being insensitive."
Namjoon shrugged, picking at bobbling bits of fabric on his pants. "Don't worry, I'm a big boy - I can take it."
Jin hesitated for only a second. "But you looked like a baby boy in this," he hazarded.
Namjoon's eyes widened and he choked on his breath before barking a higher-than-usual laugh.
Jin grabbed one of Namjoon's hands and pried his fingers apart, pressing the soft hoodie into his grasp. "Why don't we do a VLive? You can wear this and I'll grab my alpaca pyjamas."
Namjoon stared down at the hoodie and chewed his lower lip. "Aha... I dunno, Jin-hyung. I don't think ARMY would wanna see me in this... Everyone kinda expects, well... something else from me." He stared at the koala hoodie, squishing the ears.
"You're joking, right?" Jin said. Namjoon looked up, wide-eyed, so Jin whipped out his phone and searched namjoon cute on YouTube. He leaned against Namjoon's desk and bent over to show him the feed, scrolling down videos of cute moments compilations, videos showcasing the duality between his sensuality in his RM persona versus his goofy moments as Namjoon, and even just videos of him with crabs. "ARMY recognise your cute side too, Joon-ah." He carded his fingers through Namjoon's hair, biting back an 'awww' when the younger man leaned into it.
"I just--" Namjoon aborted his words, grabbing fistfuls of fabric and ducking his head.
"What is it, Joonie?" Jin prompted, still running his hand through soft white-blond hair.
Namjoon leaned against him and he guessed he was forgiven. His hand in his hair dropped to fall onto his shoulder, rubbing soothing circles into it. "I love being a rapper," Namjoon said, almost too softly to hear, "but I feel like--sometimes I have to act tougher because of it." He huffed a breath through his nose. "I've tried unlearning that behaviour; I know it's unhealthy. I used to think that way when I was underground--couldn't like anything but black clothes, gold chains, and branded shoes or you were gay." He snorted. "And--I mostly have. Gotten past that, I mean. But... I don't know. In music videos I've gotta drink gross shit and pretend I like it, act like I'm all hard and--" He shook his head and sighed sharply, pulling away from Jin's hand. "Some days I'm totally cool with that - and some days it's the opposite of what I wanna be."
He looked up at Jin for a second, eyes a little too big and too shiny in the low-light of the room, and then he dropped his gaze back into his lap.
"Sorry," he muttered. "Didn't mean to spill all that on you."
"No, Joon-ah, it's okay," Jin said, an uncomfortable weight settling in the pit of his stomach. "I know I can act childish at times, but I'm still your hyung. You can tell me anything." He tilted his head, trying to catch Namjoon's eyes. "I really am sorry for teasing, Joon-ah. I should've paid more attention." He paused. "You do look good in skirts, by the way. Jungkook is right about your thighs."
Namjoon choked, cheeks flushing pink. "I, uh--"
Namjoon looked seconds away from combusting, so Jin took pity on him and switched topics. "But really, Namjoon-ah," Jin went on, grabbing him by the shoulders and waiting until he looked at him. "You can wear whatever you want. None of us will ever think differently of you."
Namjoon sighed. "The fact that you have to say that proves that it would."
"Actually, sometimes you just need to hear it." Jin smiled. "Anyway, I judge Taehyung-ah all the time over his inability to dress himself in anything but Gucci."
Namjoon huffed a laugh, but shook his head. "It's... not the same thing."
Jin softened. "I know," he said, rubbing Namjoon's wrist. "I am sorry, Namjoon." He kept his eyes pinned on him. "I never meant to make you feel like anything less than you are."
Namjoon smiled at him. It was a tiny bit shy and a lot soft, and he was half-hugging the hoodie close to himself. "Thanks, hyung."
"I'm gonna whip up more of those pancakes. It's meant to rain today, so why don't we stay in and watch something?" Jin stood up, patting his jeans to give his hands something to do.
Namjoon's eyes flicked over to his screen.
"You and Yoongi-yah will have all day for that," Jin said, rolling his eyes fondly. "For now, come spend some quality time with the family. Besides, it looked like Jiminie and Kook-ah had more in their bags and I need to know what."
Namjoon chuckled and turned to save his files. "Okay, be out in a sec."
Jin smiled and turned to the door.
Pausing, he turned to shoot a questioning glance at Namjoon. His curiosity shot up when his dongsaeng laughed nervously and rubbed his face. "What is it?" he prompted.
"Um." He stared at Jin’s ear instead of looking him in the eye, then shook his head. "Nah, nothing, be out soon."
"Joon-ah… you can tell me. I won’t make fun of you, I swear."
Namjoon met his eyes again, finally, and turned red before chuckling again. "I, uh. I know I’m… kinda hopeless at cooking and stuff, but…" He trailed off, starting to pick at his nails.
Jin blinked. Does he… want to help? He looked so shy, fiddling with his fingers and ducking his head to hide his blush. Jin softened. "You wanna help me make pancakes, Joon-ah?" he offered.
Namjoon cleared his throat and gave a one-shoulder shrug like he didn’t care either way. “I mean—only if you need it. Otherwise, I’ll finish my thing—” He turned to gesture at his project and his hand hit a (thankfully empty) water bottle, which he scrambled to catch.
Jin snorted. When Namjoon scowled at him, he only laughed harder, which eventually made Namjoon burst into a quiet fit of chuckles. “You’re a danger to humanity,” Jin finally said. “C’mon, cook with me so I can keep an eye on you.” He cocked his head to the door and headed out.
Namjoon must’ve hurried to save his project and turn off his PC, because he bolted out of his room to catch up with him. “You said we’re making pancakes?”
“Yep,” he replied. “Plus we’ll dig out some snacks. It’s a rainy day, so I figured we’d have a movie night.”
They reached the kitchen and he started mixing fresh ingredients together. Namjoon hovered nearby, watching him intently.
“You wanna try?” he offered, procuring the whisk.
Namjoon took it gingerly and started stirring with awkward little motions. “Hey,” he said, not looking away from the mixture and, really, the level of concentration he was pouring into something as simple as pancakes was really sweet. He put his all into everything, didn’t he? “Can we make them into shapes?”
Jin blinked. “What, the pancakes?”
Namjoon nodded, still whisking. He was getting the hang of it; his movements were becoming less stilted.
“Mm, yeah. We have some moulds for when we bake biscuits and stuff,” he said, bending down to rifle through the correct cupboard. “Oh—or you can, like, use something with a nozzle to make lineart, then pour the batter into it.”
“Can we try that?” Namjoon asked in a rush.
Jin looked up to see the younger man staring down at him with wide eyes. He chuckled. “Yeah, we can,” he said, grabbing the equipment for it. He glanced over Namjoon’s shoulder. “The mix looks good, you can stop now. We don’t want to over-mix it.” He grabbed it and poured some of it into a bottle, Namjoon’s gaze following him all the while. “Turn on the stove, Joon-ah?” When he did, he slid a pan on top of it, and Jin passed him the batter-filled bottle. “Okay, now just squeeze it out into the lines you want and we’ll fill it with the rest in a minute.”
Namjoon stared at him, wide-eyed. “I’m—I’m doing it?”
“Didn’t you want to?” He raised an eyebrow.
“Um. Yeah, I guess, but.” He glanced between the pan and Jin. “I’m me?”
Jin rolled his eyes. “It’s literally in a bottle, Joon-ah. Don’t worry so much, just draw something!”
Namjoon stared at the bottle, gaze hardening, and gave a solemn nod. He takes everything so seriously , Jin thought, chuckling quietly. He turned to pour little extras into bowls (chocolate chips, mixed berries, banana slices, lemon juice, and sugar) to add to the pancakes, then glanced at Namjoon’s progress. He’d already poured the batter in to fill whatever he’d drawn.
“You can probably flip it now,” he suggested.
Namjoon’s shoulders tensed, then he turned to offer Jin the spatula. “Can you?”
He laughed, ruffling his hair. “I’ll do this one, you try the next one, yeah?” He grabbed it and flipped it over—then made a weird strangled noise in the back of his throat. Namjoon drew RJ, Jin’s BT21 mascot. It wasn’t perfect; spilled out a little too much at some of the curved edges, but he recognised it right away.
“Is it really bad?” Namjoon laughed nervously. “I’ll eat that one if—”
“Noit’smine,” he said quickly.
Namjoon let out a quiet hum. When Jin slid RJ onto a plate, Namjoon grabbed the berries to turn into his necktie, and chocolate chips for his eyes and hoofs.
Jin clutched at his heart. That’s too precious, oh my god. “Here,” he said weakly, holding the bottle of batter up, “you wanna do another?” Namjoon grabbed it eagerly, eyes sparkling, and began drawing the outline of Shooky. “You gonna do all of them?”
“Mmhm,” Namjoon replied distractedly. “Then you can make actual edible pancakes.” He shot Jin a dimpled grin and he had to turn away for a moment.
“Kim Namjoon, you’re so sweet,” he choked.
Namjoon nearly dropped the spatula.
Several minutes later, all the mascots had been transmuted into pancake form (including Van), and Jin also made a large batch of regular pancakes, as well as a smaller bunch of fluffy ones that had meringue mixed into them. They wobbled when he deposited them on a plate and Namjoon stared at them in awe.
“I’ll teach you how to make those ones if you want?” he offered and Namjoon’s head shot up, smiling sheepishly after realising he’d been caught staring.
“I’d like that.” He beamed, nose crinkling.
Jin ruffled his hair again and grinned when Namjoon blushed despite rolling his eyes. “Ah, my cute dongsaeng.”
“Oh my god, shut up, hyung,” Namjoon mumbled, batting his hand away. “I’m part of the ‘hyung line’ too, you know.”
“Yeah,” he agreed, grabbing snacks out of the cupboards to add to their movie night feast, “but you’re the maknae of it.”
He looked up just in time to see Namjoon’s dimpled smile before he turned away. Ohh, he liked that.
“Can you take the pancakes, Joon-ah?” he asked, beckoning him to go first because—well, he kinda wanted to see him get flustered when everyone realised he’d drawn their mascots.
Only Yoongi (whose eyes were closed) and Jimin (who was scrolling through his phone) were in the living room when they got there, so he set down the myriad of snacks across the table (which would definitely be blanketed in crumbs within the hour) before shouting: “Oi, kids! Your favourite hyungs have got food for you!”
“Coming!” three voices chorused.
Taehyung bounded down almost right away, one earphone in and hands clutching his Switch. He slid on the other end of the sofa, not looking up from his game. Hoseok followed in a cacophony of thunderous footsteps that probably woke up all of Seoul, jumping in between Yoongi and Taehyung. Yoongi grunted and cracked an eye open to shoot him a Look.
Jin rolled his eyes. “Where’s Jungkook-ah?”
Taehyung and Hoseok shrugged, enraptured in whatever they were both doing.
“Shall I go get him?” Namjoon asked, already stepping forward. Jin stopped him with a hand on his chest.
“You sit,” he ordered.
Namjoon blinked owlishly, then shrugged and grabbed the free chair.
“Oi, Jungkook! Namjoon made pancakes for you!” Jin shouted.
Namjoon sputtered, leaping up. “ Jin-hyung —” he squawked, turning red, but was cut off by Jungkook dashing into the living room and slamming into Namjoon’s back. He let out a little ‘oof’ and Jungkook caught him around the waist.
“Oops, sorry, hyung,” he said.
“I wasn’t even going to fall, but okay.” Namjoon laughed, still flushed.
“You made me pancakes?” Jungkook demanded.
“He made everyone pancakes,” Jin put in.
Everyone looked up from their devices, eyes shooting to Namjoon before dropping to the pancake stacks towering over the popcorn bowls and kaleidoscope of other junk foods on display.
Namjoon rubbed his neck. “I only made the BT21 ones,” he said around shy bubbles of laughter. “Jin-hyung made all the actually-good ones.”
Taehyung grabbed a plate and grabbed the Tata pancake. “I want to preserve it forever,” he said, then looked distraught. “But I also want to eat it.”
“They’re pancakes, Tae, you’re meant to eat them,” Namjoon said gently.
“You put strawberries around them,” Taehyung marvelled. “And gave them a banana for lips.”
“Okay, while Taehyung discovers his new sexuality,” Hoseok cuts in while Taehyung continues mumbling about all the details on his Tata pancake, “I’m trying my Mangie!”
“Cannibalism,” Yoongi muttered around a yawn, but stretched languidly and leaned over to take his Shooky one. He stared at it for a while.
Namjoon laughed. “Yeah, they’re pretty bad, but—”
“So cute,” Yoongi breathed.
Namjoon buried his face in his hands.
The others all took their especially-made-by-Namjoon pancakes too, lathering him in praise as they did, and eventually Namjoon groaned and retreated back to his chair to smush his face into a cushion.
“Tastes amazing,” Jungkook said softly, beaming. “You’re the golden hyung.”
“Um—?” Jin interjected.
“You can be bronze,” Jungkook said to Jin, shooting him a teasing smirk.
“Brat,” Jin said fondly, giving him a soft shove.
“Can we watch something now?” Namjoon mumbled, staring at the TV even though it was off.
“Joonie’s embarrassed,” Jimin cooed.
Taking pity on his friend, Yoongi grabbed the remote and said, “I recorded this ages ago. I’ve wanted to watch it for weeks.”
“You’re the golden hyung,” Namjoon told him, laughing shyly when Yoongi sent him a little grin.
Jin ended up perching on a large cushion on the floor, nestling his own bowl of popcorn in his lap. Fifteen minutes into the movie when everyone was caught up in a debate, he felt a little tap on his shoulder. Craning his neck backwards, he found Namjoon smiling shyly at him.
“Thanks for letting me make pancakes with you, hyung.”
He inhaled his next piece of popcorn and choked, forcing everyone to miss the next ten minutes of the movie.
Hoseok was next, which had a lot to do with how much he felt bad about making fun of Namjoon the other day.
(He’d spoken to Jin—the sneaky fucker, already having apologised. Hoseok had planned to do it as a pair because he found that sort of thing awkward, but alas. Here he was, spending the entirety of his day wondering how he could outdo forgiveness-through-baking, and was coming up miraculously short. Unsurprisingly.)
“Oof,” he wheezed when a sharp elbow dug into his side. He shot a pout at the perpetrator – Yoongi – and rubbed his side. “Any reason you’re trying to injure me?”
“Because you’re spacing out,” he replied as if that justified it. “You and Joon-ah are on the same team. Wake up.”
“Same team?” He blinked, looking up. Oh, right, they were filming another episode of Run—at a fairground. He’d somehow totally missed whatever the task was, but hopped over to Namjoon obediently. He felt a little awkward after the other day, but this was as good a time to make up for it as any, right?
(Not really; he’d wanted to do something a little more grandiose than just losing a challenge with him and mumbling an awkward apology that Namjoon would probably wave off despite still being upset.)
“I love your outfit today, Joonie,” Hoseok heard Jimin say when he got closer. “Can I just tweak something though?” Namjoon shrugged and nodded, looking amused because he’d let Jimin do anything. Jimin smiled like he knew that, and adjusted Namjoon’s loose t-shirt so it was close to slipping off his shoulder, then untucked it from his jeans so it hung low on his hips. “There we go.”
“Cute,” Hoseok said before thinking about it.
The other two looked up. Namjoon chuckled and rubbed his cheek while Jimin’s lips twitched into a smirk. “Isn’t he?” he cooed, reaching up to pinch his face.
“Jiminie,” Namjoon half-whined, glancing around to see if any cameras were around. They were still setting up, so he let himself pout. “You’re touching my face too much, you’ll mess up my skin.”
“Your skin is gorgeous, Joonie, don’t worry,” Jimin assured him, but let go after patting his cheek a couple times.
“Go get your own Namjoon, I’m his partner for this.” Hoseok stuck his tongue out.
Jimin folded his arms, but giggled. “There’s only one Monie though!” he whined, shooting Namjoon a wink. “Good luck, hyungies~” He drifted over to Jin, who Hoseok assumed was his partner for this. He really hadn’t been listening. Speaking of which…
“So, uh, what’re we doing?” he asked, rubbing his neck. “I kind of… wasn’t listening at all.”
Namjoon snorted. “Bold of you,” he said, tugging his sleeves up only for them to fall over his knuckles again. “We’re just racing go-karts, but if we get bumped three times, the kart stops and we’re out.”
“Oh, we’ll do fucking great,” Hoseok said, grabbing Namjoon’s arm. “Let’s get the purple one—Tae will think it’s the only one with good luck so he’ll sulk about not getting it.”
“Mind games, Hobi? I’m surprised,” Namjoon said around laughter, letting himself be dragged.
“You are?” he asked, hopping into the kart.
Namjoon rolled his eyes and slid in alongside him.
“Hey! You took the purple one!” Tae shouted from within a green kart, brows knitted together.
Namjoon laughed and turned to Hoseok, who grinned back.
“Okay, guys! Get ready… get set… GO!”
It was over almost as quickly as it started: Yoongi and Tae, unnervingly competitive, immediately rammed their kart into Jimin and Jin’s—only for Jungkook, in his own kart, to crash into theirs from behind while they were surprised. Namjoon and Hoseok shared a highfive for having remained, blessedly, out of the fray.
“Best of three?” one of the directors piped up. “Because you guys ended that in a solid minute and we need, like, ten more minutes of footage.”
Yoongi cracked his knuckles. “Best of three,” he agreed, staring at Jungkook.
It ended up being a best-of-five because they all dogpiled into a crash as soon as cameras started rolling the next couple times. Namjoon and Hoseok focused primarily upon avoiding incoming-Taehyung-and-Yoongis, because those two were fucking fierce about this, for whatever reason.
“Left, Hobi, go left!” Namjoon squawked.
“Okay, okay!” He slammed on the accelerator and swerved left, narrowly avoiding being smashed into by the green kart. Namjoon jolted right after the hard turn and Hoseok grabbed him without thinking, tugging him closer so he couldn’t hurt himself somehow. Namjoon shot him a smile, only to pitch forward into his side when they did get rammed into by another kart. “Careful, Joonie!” He glanced back to find a grinning Jungkook waving at them, before he reversed and rushed into Jin and Jimin’s kart.
Might as well take advantage , Hoseok thought. “Time for some sweet vengeance, Joonie,” he said, zipping forwards to bump into Jungkook from behind.
(In the end, they spent most of their time avoiding the murderous-pair-in-the-green-kart, otherwise known as Yoongi and Taehyung, so while they avoided getting hit, they also didn’t bump into the others enough to garner many points.)
“The pair that hit others the most were Taehyung and Yoongi,” Jin read out after a director passed him the results.
The two men in the green kart fistpumped.
“The pair who took the most hits were—oh, it’s a tie. Taehyung and Yoongi, and Jimin and me.” He highfived Jimin.
Jungkook laughed. “Hyung, that’s a bad thing.”
“And yet it’s our names on a card, not yours,” Jin retorted.
“Jin-hyung, keep reading,” Hoseok called. “Who won overall?”
Jin looked down at the paper, paused, then tossed it aside. “Never mind, we’re all losers.”
Jimin grabbed it and laughed. “Jungkookie’s the winner: he hit Yoongi-hyung and Tae six times, Jinnie-hyung and me four times, and Hobi and Joonie twice, and only got hit once himself.”
“Must you be good at everything ?” Jin snapped, but broke into little windshield-wiper-giggles right away.
Jungkook beamed. “Yep.”
“Jungkook-ah, since you won, you get to pick who takes the punishment,” someone from behind the cameras called. “Whoever you choose has to take on the Haunted House together.”
Hoseok sniggered. Obviously he’ll pick Yoongi and Tae—
“Hobi and Namjoon-hyung, get ready.” He grinned at them, eyes crinkling.
“Wait, what?” Namjoon and Hoseok echoed simultaneously.
That was how Hoseok found himself trailing behind Namjoon into the Haunted House, the others all cackling behind them like the evil bitches— witches they were.
“Bitches,” he mumbled.
A sudden shriek from up ahead had him plastering himself against Namjoon’s side.
“Oh my god, we’re going to die, Namjoonie!” he wailed. “I’m too young to die. I haven’t done enough yet. There’s so much more I need to achieve, I wanna leave a legacy, I wanna make a new mixtape—”
“You’ve accomplished a lot, Hoseok, I’m sure everyone would be proud of you,” Namjoon said absently, doing that thing where he sounded like he hadn’t been listening but somehow knew exactly what you said. “Oh.” He blinked and turned to him. “You wanna make a new mixtape?”
“Yeah,” he agreed faintly, glancing behind him worriedly. “It’s gonna be a Jungkook diss-track.”
Namjoon’s soft kekeke broke the heavy feeling of impending doom a little, somehow lightening the atmosphere like he’d blown away thick clouds.
Then something dropped down in front of them and—
He screamed. “Oh my god, holy—god, we’re gonna die, Namjoonie, we’re going to die, oh my god, get us out of here please— ”
Namjoon grabbed his hand and thread their fingers together to drag them forwards. “Just look at the floor, Hobi,” Namjoon said, “and follow me.”
So he did, because Namjoon’s advice was always gold dust. Hoseok watched his feet as they wandered the dark halls, flinching at the screams and creaks and sudden shadows that darted past his peripheral vision.
But he bumped into him when he suddenly made a little noise and staggered back. “Namjoon?”
And then he realised Namjoon’s hand was just as clammy as his own, his shoulders were shaking almost-but-not-quite-imperceptibly, and his breathing was just a bit quicker than it should have been.
“Namjoonie?” he coaxed, squeezing his hand. “Want me to take over?”
Too-wide eyes shot back to meet his, shining under green-and-purple lights, and he swallowed thickly before offering Hoseok a little smile. “Nah, it’s okay, I can do it,” he assured him, squaring his shoulders before setting back off with long strides, tugging Hoseok along.
(And, oh. That’s what he did when they had to go up on stage an accept awards: he’d take a steadying breath and steel himself and keep his chin held high like he was fighting against something pushing him down, and he must be nervous every time. But he did it anyway.)
Hoseok squeezed his hand again and then jogged up beside him, grinning at his questioning glance. “I can too,” he said, then glared at the ceiling. “Hear that, ghosts? We will fight you!”
“Please don’t challenge the ghosts to a fight,” Namjoon said.
After a dozen more jump-scares and one attempt to find an escape route through a Fire Exit door, they staggered out the other end to find the other members folding over from how much they were laughing.
“You looked so scared ,” Jin squeaked through cackles. “I’m going to buy photos to remember this.” He wiped his ears, tears of mirth in them, and headed off to the booth because he was literally about to go and buy photos of Namjoon and Hoseok looking five seconds away from pissing themselves.
“Me too,” Jungkook chimed in, “I love memories.”
“I hate you all,” Hoseok said in the same friendly tone, “and want memories of none of you. BTS? Worst time of my life, would not recommend.”
Namjoon smacked his arm gently.
“Not you though, Namjoonie, you’re the best part of this,” he assured him, going to pat his shoulder—then laughing when he realised their hands were still clasped together. “Oh, uh. Namjoonie?” He raised their joined hands.
Namjoon blinked a few times before his eyes widened and he let go, ears turning red as he laughed. “Oh, sorry, man,” he said.
Hoseok tilted his head, but then the directors were telling them they could check out the arcade if they wanted; the marketing team still needed some photos of them, after all. So, after Jin and Jungkook returned having actually bought those photos like the chaotic-evils they were, they meandered over to the arcade together.
Tinny, almost-too-loud 8-bit music blasted from every direction while gaudy neon lights illuminated the interior. They hopped on some driving games together, messed around on DDR, then separated when Jungkook and Taehyung wanted to play some shooters, Jin and Yoongi took on a fighting game, and Jimin returned to the siren song of DDR. Hoseok went to follow, then faltered when he saw Namjoon pressed up against a claw machine by himself. He shot a glance at Jimin, who’d already started competing against one of the film crew, before wandering over to Namjoon.
He arrived in time to see his hyper-focused leader slip a coin into the slot, then grab the joystick to jostle it over to whatever plushie he’d set his eyes on. His gaze was intense: mouth drawn into a thin line, brows furrowed, eyes not straying from the claw. Fleetingly, Hoseok wondered if he was calculating the trajectory or velocity or something to snag a plushie perfectly—but then he dropped the claw and grabbed thin air.
“ No ,” Namjoon told the machine, and Hoseok snorted. Namjoon looked up, wide-eyed, then laughed. “Oh. Hey, Hobi.”
“Hey,” he said, sidling up to him. “Can I try?” he asked, even though there were two more rows of claw machines. Namjoon shrugged and moved aside, folding his arms and leaning against a table—then nearly falling over when it moved. He stumbled to his feet and looked at it like it betrayed him. “Oh my god, you klutz.” Hoseok laughed. “Stand up straight and tell me which one you want.”
Namjoon stared for a second. “Uh—I don’t. It doesn’t matter, I don’t care which one, I just wanted to win something,” he said, but then stared right at a Snorlax plushie.
Hoseok shook his head, trying not to laugh, and slid a coin in the slot. He heard Namjoon’s sharp intake of breath and suddenly knew: he had to win that Snorlax.
Staring at the claw, he dragged it across to the right, glancing at the space between it and the plushie, and dropped it. It wrapped around Snorlax’s ear—then pulled it up. It slipped from the claw’s grasp and Namjoon pressed himself up against the glass, but then it shakily held on as it ambled back to its starting position, dropping Snorlax into the hole.
Hoseok went to grab it, then held it out to Namjoon, grinning. “You can have this, Joonie,” he said, then tugged it out of his reach when he immediately went to grab it. Namjoon stared at him like he’d stepped on a baby crab and he fought back the urge to laugh. “You can have it,” he repeated, “if you say: thank you, hyung.”
“ Hyung ?” Namjoon sputtered. “We’re the same age—”
“Oh, okay.” He shrugged, spinning Snorlax by its arm. Namjoon stared at it. “Maybe Jimine will want it then. Good luck with the claw machines, Namjoonie.”
“No, wait. Uh…”
He turned back, inclining his head, but his teasing smirk disappeared when he saw the bright blush across Namjoon’s face. He was rubbing his arm and looking at Hoseok’s shoulder instead of at his face, clearly embarrassed, and he felt like a dick. He’d come out today with the intention of apologising to Namjoon for being insensitive the other day, and now he was doing it again. “Namjoonie,” he said, softer now, “here, you can have it. I was just kidding.”
Namjoon looked at him, then at the plushie, and slowly wrapped his hands around it and tugged it against his chest.
Ah, my heart, thought Hoseok.
“Uh…” Namjoon glanced at him again, turning even redder. “Th—” He coughed, ducking his head. “Thank you, hyung,” he choked out, then bolted past him to duck into the shooter-game booth with Jungkook and Taehyung.
Hoseok stared into space for a while, heart thumping in his chest.
Oh my god, he called me hyung. He crashed to his knees, barely noticing Yoongi climbing over him to get past. That… was so cute?
Yoongi knew to an extent, but sometimes Namjoon inadvertently reminded him.
He jumped when his phone blared and glared at it, as if that would stop the alarm. When it didn’t, he groaned and peeled himself out of his chair to stagger through his minefield of a room and turn it off.
Reminder: go to bed hyung!!
A reminder tapped out by Jimin in one of the many instances he got ahold of Yoongi’s phone. He scoffed and slid it off, then sunk back into his chair and restarted the audio. He was about to tug his headphones back on when someone knocked on his door.
He took a deep breath but, since he was in a good mood, swallowed back the loud groan and instead called a lazy, “Come in.”
He expected Jin to slide in with a you missed dinner idiot so here it is or Jimin with a I knew you’d ignore my alarm so I’m here to guilt you into sleeping bitch or even Taehyung with a grin and a I can’t sleep and I knew you’d be awake so can I play [insert video game here] until I crash on your floor? but instead there was only silence when his door opened.
Oh, Joon-ah , he thought, because Namjoon was the only one who wouldn’t always enter with a remark. He kept his headphones around his neck. “Hey, Joon-ah,” he greeted. “You been writing lyrics tonight?” He paused, but didn’t get a reply. Shrugging it off, he continued, “I started this track two days ago but keep getting stuck at the bridge. I’ve tried about twenty variations, but nothing sounds good.”
He kind of anticipated a well let me hear it then , or fuck off, I bet it’s great , but got nothing. Concerned now, he swivelled his chair around, expecting to see Namjoon perching on his chair or bed like he usually did when he broke into Yoongi’s room. Instead he was still loitering at the door, staring down at the floor.
Frowning, he asked, “Joon-ah?”
He tossed his headphones onto his bed and padded over to his friend, cocking his head to lean into his space and make eye contact. “Namjoon,” he said.
Namjoon blinked slowly, like he was half-asleep, and Yoongi fleetingly wondered if he was actually sleep-walking. (They’d have to bubblewrap the apartment, if that were the case.) But then he finally made eye contact with Yoongi, before looking away just as quickly.
That… was unusual. Yoongi–was kind of worried. “Namjoon-ah? What’s up?”
Namjoon shook his head.
He huffed, at a loss. “You wanna listen to my track…?” he asked, if only to offer a distraction.
After a few seconds, Namjoon nodded. Yoongi moved to slide back into his chair but staggered to a halt when a grip on his hoodie stopped him. He glanced back, raising his eyebrows.
Namjoon blushed and looked down at his feet. “Can. Can you…” He bit his lip and huffed, brows knitting together, then let go and shook his head. “Never mind.”
And Yoongi had no idea what to say, so he just nodded and sat down. Namjoon perched on his bed, holding his legs up to his chest and folding in on himself, like he was trying to get smaller. He realised, belatedly, thanks to the pitch-darkness of his room, that Namjoon was wearing that huge koala hoodie Jimin and Jungkook bought him recently and fluffy white socks that bundled at his ankles because they were too big to stay rolled up.
Clearing his throat, he passed Namjoon the headphones, which he took without a word. He hit play and watched Namjoon’s face as he listened. (He couldn’t used to do that, too worried about the initial reaction; the visceral moment of real emotion which could make or break the song, but they’d exposed their work to each other, opened their hearts so many times, there were no barriers left here. He could handle critique—could even handle rejection, if his work was that bad, but that became a rarer thing as time went on.)
Namjoon shut his eyes and listened to the entirety of it. He didn’t move for a while, but eventually started bobbing his head and humming with it. His lips moved in silent, half-formed words, like he was already composing lyrics in his head for it.
When it ended, he slipped the headphones off and passed them back.
Yoongi raised a brow. “So…?” he prompted.
“‘S good,” Namjoon mumbled, which. Was not a very Namjoon thing to say.
He snorted. “So it’s shit,” he translated. He must’ve misread the signs, thought Namjoon had been enjoying it enough to write for it. “You can just say so, Joon-ah. You know I can take it.”
“I mean it,” Namjoon said softly, sounding—sad.
Yoongi blinked at him. It was hard to see him well in the darkness of Yoongi’s studio; the only light was the dim glow from his computer screen, bathing Namjoon in a faint blue-white outline. But he looked up and his eyes were too shiny for it to just be a reflection.
“I really like it,” he added when Yoongi didn’t speak. “‘M sorry.” His breath hitched. “I wanna write for it, I like it, I just—” He waved a hand and dropped it, then buried his face in his knees. “I don’t feel good right now, Yoongi-hyung.”
Yoongi opened up an old playlist and started the music on a low volume, then gently slid the headphones back over Namjoon’s ears. He twitched. “Hyung… you need these to work—”
“I’m done,” he said. “My alarm went off a minute ago and Jiminie left me a reminder to sleep, so. I was stopping here anyway.”
(He hadn’t been, but he was now.)
“You’re going to bed?” Namjoon asked, muffled into his knees.
“Yup,” he said. “Like the good influence I am.”
Namjoon uncurled from his position, not meeting his eyes. “I’ll. I’ll head back to my room then.” He swallowed, Adam's apple bobbing. “Thanks for letting me listen to your song, hyung.” He grabbed the headphones, but Yoongi’s hand stilled him.
“Joon-ah,” he said, exasperated, “just sleep here.”
Namjoon looked up at him, thick tears teetering at the bottom of his eyes. “Can I?” he whispered thickly, breath hitching.
Yoongi softened, sliding onto the bed and yanking Namjoon down to tug him into a loose embrace. “Of course, idiot,” he said softly.
Namjoon’s breathing sped up a little. Yoongi rolled him over and pulled his face into his shoulder. Namjoon tensed up like a bowstring, and Yoongi slid the headphones back over his ears and started rubbing his back.
He felt wetness seep into his shirt but just kept hugging his friend, half-listening to the music that escaped the headphones. The playlist finished and restarted before Namjoon finally sniffed and raised a hand to rub at his face, as if it wasn’t obvious he’d been crying.
Yoongi huffed. “Don’t say sorry,” he admonished. He paused, hesitant, then thought fuck it and asked, “Wanna tell me what’s up?”
Namjoon went quiet, so he dropped it. They never pushed each other which, honestly, was sometimes what they needed. Yeah, it was good to let shit out, but Yoongi and Namjoon weren’t the kind of people who always needed talking to be an outlet. Sometimes they just had to lock up in their rooms and write or make music until they bled out everything that was bothering them. Sometimes that was enough.
Sometimes it wasn’t.
“I don’t… I don’t even know.” Namjoon huffed a weak, self-deprecating laugh.
“That’s fine,” he said, nuzzling into Namjoon’s hair. He’d washed it earlier and it was soft, free from product, and smelled like peaches.
“It’s not,” Namjoon mumbled, voice cracking. “My life is so good, I know it is. I have nothing to complain about or be sad over. I’m doing what I love; I have such great friends around me; our fans are so supportive and kind; I don’t have to worry about money or food…” He shook his head, burying deeper into Yoongi’s shoulder. “But sometimes I’m just so fucking sad I can’t breathe,” he croaked, voice cracking. “Sometimes I don’t know if I can go on stage because part of me thinks: this is all pointless. Nothing matters. In a hundred years, nothing I’ve done will matter.” He made a strangled noise and Yoongi hugged him tighter. “I shouldn’t think that way,” he said thickly, “I’m meant to be a good influence and a leader and I tell people to love themselves but I—” He choked on a sob and a fresh wave of tears soaked Yoongi’s shirt.
He let him cry, just holding him as his body wracked with sobs he tried to hold back. “Joon-ah,” he mumbled slowly. He wasn’t good at this. He could write songs together with his members, but this sort of thing? Finding words in moments that felt like they could shape someone? He didn’t want to choose the wrong thing. “Everyone matters,” he said. “Everyone makes differences, just in their daily lives. Someone buying someone else’s groceries when they’re short on cash. Someone tipping a waitress a little more. Someone helping a parent carry their pram off a bus… all those things matter. It might do something small, like brighten their day,” he said, “or it might be just the thing they needed to keep going and not give up. Just someone being kind.”
Namjoon made a little noise to show he was listening.
“You make a difference, Joon-ah.” He squeezed him. “Your lyrics make people feel heard. Validated.” He paused. “We’ve got a fuck ton of hate before. I know you know that,” he said, before Namjoon could make a derisive comment. (Honestly, what hyung had he learnt his sarcasm from?) “People have said we don’t look like idols, that we’ve betrayed our roots, that we can’t write for shit.” He scoffed. “So fucking what? Even if we don’t look ‘how we should’ or write how they want us to, we’re the most successful pop group in Korea for a damn good reason: because we’re fucking great at what we do.”
He felt Namjoon shift and loosened his grip a little. Namjoon pulled away enough to look at him with red-rimmed, watery eyes, but there was a tiny half-smile there too. Yoongi smiled lopsidedly back and brushed Namjoon’s hair out of his eyes.
“You can’t know what legacy you might leave in a hundred years, but honestly? Who cares?” Yoongi said. “It’s what you do while you’re alive that matters, Joon-ah. Be the best you that you can be, that’s all. You don’t have to change the world.” He breathed a little chuckle. “But people have said BTS have changed their worlds,” he amended, “and who are we to tell them otherwise?”
Namjoon’s eyes sparkled.
“And Joon-ah,” he said softly, watching Namjoon’s attentive eyes bore back into his, “it’s okay to be sad. No matter who you are or what you have—we’re all human. You can be sad. Don’t beat yourself up over it.”
Namjoon’s lip quivered even as he smiled at him.
“You don’t have to smile if you don’t want, stupid,” he said fondly.
“I know,” he mumbled, then squirmed even closer to bury his face in Yoongi’s chest. His feet were probably off the bottom of the bed, he was lying so low, but it felt good holding him like this and Yoongi didn’t want to let go.
They lapsed into a comfortable quiet, the only sounds being Namjoon’s somewhat-shaky breathing and Yoongi’s PC buzzing. It reminded him of their early days, crammed in their shared studio, throwing ideas at each other and getting distracted just as quickly.
He felt himself drifting off to sleep when he heard Namjoon whisper, “Love you, Yoongi-hyung.”
And he knew Namjoon only said it because he thought Yoongi was asleep, so he stayed quiet, remained loose-limbed until Namjoon slowly went lax against him and soft snores escaped his nose.
Smiling, he buried his face in Namjoon’s hair. “Love you too, Joon-ah.”
Taehyung knew since he’d returned home late one night and Namjoon, mostly-asleep, had grabbed his hand and said, “oh, you’re back,” and wouldn’t let go.
He’d been shocked then, but thinking back, he wasn’t sure why. Namjoon’s cute side has always been there; he was just too shy to show it in the beginning. It’d slip through in moments where he got carried away when they were having fun and he forgot about his serious persona, but then he’d notice cameras and would stop smiling and laughing. It was obvious even when he refused to do aegyo; he said it wouldn’t suit him because he was too ‘manly,’ but he was clearly just embarrassed about it and seemed somewhat awestruck whenever Jimin did it. (Taehyung had caught him practicing in their room when he’d come back early sometimes, and he’d try to laugh it off but the blush wouldn’t leave his face for hours.)
Honestly, he was surprised so many of the others were only just now realising that Namjoon liked being cute.
He sidled up behind Namjoon as Jin and Jungkook wandered to the front of the stage to entertain fans, and he wrapped his arms around his waist.
Namjoon made a soft noise but instinctively sunk into the hug.
He always did that, now: relaxed into hugs like they were water and he was parched for it. He didn’t used to; they all used to think he didn’t like them. Around their debut era, sometimes the maknae would go in for hugs and he’d let them, but he’d never return it. Not properly, anyway. He’d sometimes tap their arms or give a half, one-armed almost-hug if they looked like they needed it, but he’d mostly just stay still and let it happen.
But he loved hugs. He still wasn’t big on parading it in public, but that was no longer because of this false image he had to portray and more just because he didn’t feel the need to show affection that way. Still, he was better than he used to be; he wouldn’t shy away or freeze up. Instead, he’d melt into it like ice meeting fire.
He almost never instigated them, but he was definitely receptive of them. Taehyung took full advantage of it, slipping his arms around him during down-time on stage, or during pre-show pep-talks where Namjoon hyped them up but looked like he needed it himself too, or just on their days off when he joined him on long walks and they’d stop to stare at something and it’d get cold enough to find an excuse to do it.
Because Namjoon seemed to need excuses.
Even though the others had all started noticing Namjoon’s love of cute things, they’ve been more upfront about it: they loved popping in on Namjoon’s VLives with accessories for him to wear throughout them (primarily consisting of headbands, many of which had animal ears attached), they’ve started mixing their clothes up “by accident,” so Namjoon would stumble to breakfast wearing one of their shirts instead, and all of it makes Namjoon fluster and smile.
(But it’s still not enough.)
When Jungkook and Jin were finally finished with their little skit at the front of the stage, they all took turns to bid ARMY farewell before stepping off-stage and heading through to the back. They were all coated in sheets of sweat, all panting for breath; it had been a long day, and they still had so many stops on their tour ahead of them.
Taehyung collapsed onto the sofa and threw his head back, letting his eyes fall shut. He was exhausted.
The sofa dipped beside him and another thigh pressed against his. He tugged his leg away because he was too hot, but then the other source of heat stuck to him again. He cracked an eye open to find Namjoon next to him—looking at him. Namjoon startled but smiled awkwardly before averting his gaze, fingers drumming against his knees.
“Feeling okay, hyung?” he asked.
Namjoon nodded. “Yeah,” he said, “you?”
“Tired,” he admitted.
“Ha.” Namjoon ran a hand through his hair, then grimaced. “Yeah.”
Namjoon shook his head. “Just the gel,” he said. “My hair feels gross. I just wanna shower and sleep.” He sighed, the sound rattling.
Taehyung felt a little tug in his chest. He wove an arm around Namjoon’s shoulders. “You can nap on my shoulder ‘til we have to go if you want,” he offered.
Namjoon stiffened for only a second before crumbling against him, sinking into his side and exhaling softly.
After they got home, they all went to wash and change out of their uncomfortable clothes. Taehyung was drying his hair with a towel when he traipsed back into his room, only to find Namjoon propped up against the wall with a book in his lap.
Dark eyes flickered up from the book to meet his gaze. He smiled, a little shyly, and shut his book. “Taehyung-ah.”
Taehyung dropped onto the bed beside him. “Wanna watch something together?” he asked.
Namjoon smiled, dimples denting his cheeks. “Sounds good.”
So Taehyung turned on something they’ve seen a hundred times before, and a chorus of old inside jokes spilled out and they ended up collapsing in fits of giggles every few minutes. Four episodes in, Taehyung said, “We should probably sleep, hyung.”
“Yeah,” Namjoon mumbled, but made no move to leave. He started picking at some bobbling fabric on his shorts, not looking up.
Taehyung turned the volume down low and slunk over to him. “Namjoon-hyung?”
Namjoon’s shoulders tensed, almost imperceptibly. “Yeah?”
“You wanna stay here tonight?”
Namjoon’s eyes widened and he looked up. He barked a laugh that was too loud in the quiet of the room. “Ah, uh… nah, man, that’s all right. I’m…” He trailed off, still not moving.
Taehyung breathed a small chuckle. “It’s okay,” he said, “if you want to stay. You can just ask.”
Namjoon blushed and ducked his head. “Ask…” he repeated, like he was mulling over an equation.
Taehyung nodded patiently, then started flicking through the pages of Namjoon’s book while he waited—until a soft tug on his sleeve stopped him. He glanced back up to find Namjoon still flushed all over, staring at another corner of the room.
“Tae…” he said slowly, “can I… uh…”
“What, Joonie?” he coaxed, setting the book on his nightstand.
Namjoon tugged his sleeve again, then dropped his hand and huffed. “It’s—nothing, never mind.” He pushed himself up with his arms and slid off the bed, but Taehyung grabbed his arm and yanked him back, making him fall ungracefully into his lap. “Tae—” he cut himself off with a squawk when Taehyung slipped his hands under his shirt and started tickling his sides. “T-Tae, no, oh my god, stop !” he choked out between laughing.
Taehyung chuckled against the back of his neck. “Only if you tell me what you were gonna say!”
“Oh my god—I was just gonna ask you to hug me— stop tickling !”
Namjoon gasped for breath, still gasping around breathless little laughs. “You can’t treat your hyungs that way,” he admonished, turning his head to scowl, but it broke into a smile right away.
Taehyung beamed back. “You won’t stop me,” he chimed, then cocked his head. “You comfy there?” he teased, because Namjoon was still nestled in his lap.
Namjoon blinked like he was confused, then looked down and turned red again. “Oh, shit, aha, sorry—” He tried to stand, but Taehyung wove his arms around his waist to hold him in place. “Uh, I can’t get up.”
“Because I’m hugging you.” Taehyung squeezed him.
Namjoon made a weird noise before laughing again, still a bit breathless. “I. I was kidding, Tae, you don’t have to—”
“I love hugging you,” he said, nuzzling his neck. “I’ll hug you any time you want.”
He made another choked little sound but started squirming, so Taehyung relinquished his grip around his waist, expecting him to stand and laugh it off and leave. But Namjoon just turned around and tackled him in a hug, weaving his arms around his shoulders and tangling their legs together, burying his face in Taehyung’s shoulder.
He blinked, taken aback, before wrapping his arms around him too. “You’re so cute, hyung,” he said, chuckling.
He nodded like that meant something and held onto Namjoon until he felt him go lax. I’ve gotta brush my teeth , he thought, trying to extract himself slowly from beneath the other man. He managed to slip out, just barely, biting his lip and smiling when he heard the little whiney noise he made. He brushed his teeth quickly and came back, not even managing to lie down before Namjoon grabbed his hand.
“Don’ go,” he mumbled, barely opening his eyes.
Taehyung tugged him back into a loose hug. “I won’t,” he promised.
Namjoon nodded weakly against him and sunk lower into the bed until his head was resting on Taehyung’s chest and his feet were sticking out the bottom.