With a yawn, Yoongi stretched out his limbs, groaning at the pain of his tired limbs protesting the movement. He was sore from falling asleep immediately after dance practise, against the back mirrors, without doing his cooldown stretches. There were aches along his thighs, along his calves and even muscles in his butt that he wasn't quite aware he'd possessed. He knew that they would only get worse after he went to bed and was woken up again in the morning by their manager, who would be angry and rushing them as per usual, and Yoongi silently cursed Hoseok for not waking him up when the dancer had left.
He wasn't quite sure when the other boy had finally departed the studio, however, so Yoongi didn't pick up his phone to flood Hoseok with annoyed messages like he wanted to, just in case Hoseok was already asleep. There was no point in waking up Hoseok with his messages, because dealing with a grumpy Hoseok tomorrow would not be good. Pissing off their moodmaker in general wasn't a good idea, and Yoongi had been doing enough of that lately with his overly passionate fanservice in front of the camera. He knew that while Hoseok was no stranger to the labels of their job, he got frustrated at how much of it Yoongi faked for the camera, wishing hat Yoongi would be more affectionate in private or at least attempt to make the contrast between how they acted on and off camera more subtle.
Sometimes, Yoongi wanted to call him a hypocrite, but he decided that that conversation was best left for another point, long time in the future, when Jin or Jimin were there to act as a defuser. The mask of J-Hope over Hoseok's face was just as strong as the mask of Suga over his. The only thing was that Suga had no problems with Min Suga being a mask, while Hoseok actively wanted to be more like J-Hope, the eternal hope that he preached thoroughly to the fans.
Yoongi wasn't sure how to phrase that there was no need for Hoseok to be J-Hope, because frankly, J-Hope got annoying sometimes as well, but he figured that saying nothing was better than pissing off Hoseok even further, with something that would be too accusing. He hated how his words got caught in his throat sometimes, how there were days when nothing would sound right, or feel right or even look right, the days where Yoongi could do nothing but hurt people.
He didn't know how the others dealt with it sometimes. It was easier to bottle it up, and talk about it later in carefully portioned segments, which had been reworded one thousands times since the notion had first appeared in his head.
With a long-suffering sigh, he grabbed his bag, slid the hoodie over his head (ignoring how gross the warm fabric felt against his sweat-damp shirt) and locked down the dance studio behind him.
He felt refreshed though, in a way he didn't usually feel however, a sort of haze of happiness and alertness that he honestly had experienced since their last one week vacation, where he'd spent two consecutive days asleep, much to the worry of his elder brother. It was perhaps a sign that he really needed to sleep more if a small nap had managed to invigorate him like this, but that was something that Yoongi didn't really want to think about. When sleep became a liability in an industry that constantly demanded more and more and more, he had to curb the urge.
Still, he mused that he was allowed to enjoy this temporary sensation of peace and contentment. He trailed down the darkened corridor, taking a few moments to appreciate the sight of Seoul's lights, still glowing and illuminating the night. Unfortunately, there were still portions of his view blocked by a pesky internal reflection, and Yoongi suddenly frowned. The rest of the actual employees of this building were long-gone, most of the coordi-noonas practically tripped out of the door come 8pm.
Yoongi walked down their corridor and sighed as he came towards the half-ajar studio. Of course. His mouth was open and ready to berate Namjoon for being a damned fool and not sleeping earlier, when he paused. Namjoon was not actually slumped over the desk, passed out over his lyrics, like was the case on most days past 3am. Instead, he was staring at the wall, a vaguely dazed look on his face, and red rimmed eyes that looked a little too familiar, from long days of training and after concerts. His hoodie was disheveled and the back of his hair was sticking up, as if it had been squished at an awkward angle.
"Namjoon?" asked Yoongi making his words more gentle and soft.
Namjoon looked towards Yoongi blankly, and his eyes were still distant, void of any real recognition and for a moment, Yoongi felt a sharp spike of fear and pain in his chest. He dashed forward, but before he could start checking Namjoon's pulse and temperature, Namjoon's eyes cleared up a little, looking less glassy and more like he was a real human.
"Hyung." Namjoon acknowledged as Yoongi stopped, mid-step. "Hi."
"Hi." Yoongi said, carefully, "Is that all you have to say at 3:45am?"
Namjoon spun around in his chair and gestured at the screen. "I finished." he said, simply, voice still sort of hollow and Yoongi stared a Namjoon for a few dumb moments before he realized why Namjoon looked so empty.
He walked forward to the computer and pressed his hands into the mouse, as he stared at the eight new songs in their joint album with Hoseok, of self-produced songs to show P-Dogg and Slow Rabbit, all with titles that sounded stupid now, but were probably hits, just like the last two title tracks that Namjoon had composed. "Eight?" asked Yoongi, voice somewhat strangled as he turned back to Namjoon. It took a couple of moments, but Namjoon grinned proudly up at Yoongi, blinking a little in surprise as Yoongi scowled back at him, a mixture of annoyed, envious and entirely frustrated.
The lack of words, the look in his eyes and the sudden new abundance of songs was enough to tell Yoongi exactly what had happened to Namjoon. "Christ, you big baby." Yoongi grumbled as he turned to the corner where Namjoon's things were messily stacked, and started gathering them, noisily "Can't even deal with creative crash properly, you little shit."
Creative crash was a common occurrence sometimes in their world. Not so much for Yoongi, who didn't really work on the modus operandi of voiding out his brain when inspiration struck (mostly because inspiration had never been a bright flash of light for him with fully formed anythings. Yoongi's inspiration consisted of vague foggy ideas floating around in a murky, polluted river that Yoongi had to fish for, rolling up his pants and greasing up his elbows to catch and skin and bring to life) but common among others. He knew that Donghyuk, Hyosang and even Hoseok to an extent, suffered the same problems, the problem of being numb after they finished a track, after putting everything together that had been plaguing them and being left with a huge gaping sense of loss and relief and worry that overtook the space where their idea had been before.
It was an idea unfamiliar and unusual to Yoongi, but Hoseok had talked about it one day, after finishing One Verse and knowing that it had been the song. Yoongi was envious of the knowledge of contentedness, of surety that came after the initial confusion of creative crash. He'd never know when his songs were finished, and deadlines imposed were one of the only reasons he'd ever finished his songs for bangtan albums. His own mixtape had been delayed by two years now, and he knew that time would just continue to elapse, because his main title track never felt right, never felt complete, never felt ready to have words giving form to it. He yearned for something like this, something to definitely tell him he'd done well, but well. Yoongi didn't operate in the way that Namjoon and Hoseok did.
"Come on, upsi-daisy." Yoongi said, yanking at Namjoon's spidery limbs, groaning with the weight of Namjoon over his shoulder. Namjoon wasn't all that much taller than him, not even a head taller, but sometimes, he looked very gangly and blessed with far too much substance, here, with his chest pressed against Yoongi's shoulders and his head barely upright against Yoongi's. "God, this is worse than when you're drunk, get your shit together."
Frankly, Yoongi hated drunk Namjoon, whose pretentious, fake philosophical bullshit got even worse as he started spouting riddles from Lord of the Rings or Japanese poetry, and couldn't even be cheered up by the sight of Taehyung doing the nae nae on the noraebang table (seriously, who who wouldn't laugh at Taehyung doing the nae nae on the noraebang table?), but this helpless Namjoon was infinitely worse, because despite all of his inability to cook or do basic household chores, Namjoon was very aware of himself and almost always in control, something that Yoongi appreciated about the younger man. This was perhaps worse than drunk Namjoon, because at least Yoongi only had to deal with drunk Namjoon when he himself was buzzed by the presence of soju in his veins.
"You don't need to carry me, hyung." Namjoon said, pushing himself more upright and attempting to unwind himself from Yoongi. "I just need a second." he said, and his words were a little slow, as if he had to think about them and Yoongi rolled his eyes.
"Yeah right. Last time you said that, we were here until morning. Come on, let's get your ass to bed. You'll feel better in the morning." This wasn't his job. His methods of taking care of people were subtle, understated and not enough for people to notice. But frankly, Yoongi didn't think Namjoon would recognize a metaphor if it walked in front of him and started twerking in converse high, which meant that Yoongi was forced to resort to this.
"I feel pretty good right now." Namjoon murmured, as Yoongi started to drag at his wrist and pull him out of the studio. Despite his words, there was little protest in his actions, to Yoongi manhandling him out of the stdio, turning off the lights and locking the door. Probably some part of him recognized that Yoongi was right and that he wasn't amazingly coherent right now.
"Were they good? Your eight songs?" asked Yoongi, quietly, as they stood in front of the elevator door, faces illuminated only by the right of the small neon floor display, beeping as the elevator rose higher and higher.
"Yeah." Namjoon said, quietly, "Some stuff about hypocrisy you might like. There was a really neat beat I was thinking of the other day and it just sorta clicked today and then one song turned into another--"
"Until you had eight." Yoongi said, before clicking his jaw shut. He had to stop himself from interrupting people, Seokjin hated it, and most everyone only barely tolerated that habit. But Namjoon didn't mind, just smiled up at Yoongi, the dimples in his cheeks pulling inwards.
"Yeah." he said, softly, "I've never done that before. Like...one or two perfect songs in one writing sessions is okay, but never eight all in one go. I feel like...empty. But in a good way. Like after a concert, when you've finally taken a really long piss--"
"I don't want to know." Yoongi said, elbowing Namjoon hard, as the elevator doors opened, and he relished in Namjoon almost tripping over, a laugh caught in his throat and an expression of lazy delight etched over his face and the loose set of his shoulders. It was rare to see Namjoon anything but tense, anything but hunched over to make himself seem a little smaller, rare to see him unabashedly smiling in just Yoongi's presence.
They got along well enough; six years together did that to them, but there hadn't been many moments for Namjoon to turn around to Yoongi and shine at him like Yoongi put the stars in the sky, not when their joint experiences and struggles together were of tense squabbles over everything music related and collapsing back on each other's beds on the days when there had been too many trainees in their tiny dorm (god Yoongi was glad they'd moved out of that dorm, it had too many memories lurking amidst all of the mess) and going out at 2am to eat cheap ramen at the grocery shop across from the Big Hit building, being as polite to the tired college students who manned the microwave as possible. It was a nice surprise, to have Namjoon so pliant against him and happy.
"Hey." Yoongi said, as the elevator doors opened again, on the ground floor, "Well done. I'm proud of you, Joon-ah." he said, softly staring down at their feet. "I really do hope they use them on the next album."
The cold air, as they stepped out into the lobby and the outside world seemed to rouse Namjoon from his hazy state a little, and he straightened up a little more, and stared at his hands like they were entirely foreign to him. Yoongi waited for him, patiently, tapping his foot against the pavement. "Is it really okay, Yoongi-hyung?"
"Why wouldn't it be? The more self-produced songs on our album, the better mediaplay we get." Yoongi said, as he started to walk down towards their dorm. Technically, they could probably afford cars with the money they'd been racking up recently, but Yoongi saw no purpose in buying one and neither did the others. Their manager still drove them to schedules and the only time they didn't have schedules and travelled was to the hair salon, to the Big Hit building or to the airport, to return home to Daegu, and it wasn't worth buying and maintaining a car for that. Even if his feet sometimes ached, it was probably still worth it.
"But..." Namjoon looked terrifyingly open and young here, under the stars and Yoongi was briefly aware that neither of them had facemasks or hats on, which made them perfect targets for any Dispatch reporters who could have been lurking. "Is that what you wanted? To have title tracks?"
Yoongi shrugged, languidly, and tried to not let the slow pit of resentment in his stomach rise up to his throat. It was irrational and stupid and the sort of thing which would ruin their bond as a group. He'd watched the Jeongguk-Minwoo episode with Jimin, and Shinhwa's words about personal greed had left a very slow lasting impression in his bones, the sort of thing he'd have to mull over further in the sleepy haze before he dropped into the land of dreams, but something he knew to be intrinsically true. "Yes." he said, bluntly, after a while. "But it's not your fault if I don't make the cut, is it, Joon-ah? So stop worrying. You're supposed to be enjoying your creative crash, geez."
Namjoon smiled, faintly, and swung his arm over Yoongi's shoulder again, grabbing his bag and his hoodie from there, with a little more strength. The hunch was starting to come back, and Yoongi observed it, with a small frown. "I can't enjoy it unless you're happy as well." he said, seriously, and Yoongi's heart swelled for a few moments, at Namjoon's support and he couldn't help but grin back at Namjoon, with the gummy grin his fans loved, and the one that made Yoongi feel younger, just by using it.
"Say that on broadcast, why don't you?" Yoongi said, grumpily, and Namjoon laughed, lowly.
"We're not the popular ship among fans, hyung." he said, easily, "I don't have to show affection on stage to anyone except Jin or Jimin. Besides, you need real affection off stage sometimes. Humans aren't mean to be lonely."
"I thought that was whales." Yoongi said, quirking his eyebrows at Namjoon, who just grinned back.
"Whales too." he responded amiably. "But whales were always a metaphor for humans." And okay, if Namjoon could talk about metaphors, he was out of his crash, and Yoongi didn't have to baby him anymore, nor have to tolerate the solid weight of Namjoon's long, muscled arm pressing down against his sore shoulders.
Somehow though, he didn't worm his way away from Namjoon, as their dorm drew closer, let Namjoon's arm stay there, let his weight and his comfortable warmth at Yoongi's side stay close. Let the distance between his face and Namjoon's smiling, goofy face stay close together. "Whales are shitty metaphors for humans. We're far more destructive and here was way too many of us, instead of not enough."
"For someone as short as you, maybe it's not the right fit." Namjoon retorted, easily, and Yoongi cursed, darkly, reaching forward to twist Namjoon's nipple and bully him into submission. Namjoon ducked out of the way, and promptly tripped over the first rung of the staircase up to their dorms. Yoongi winced, in sympathy as a loud clanging sound reverberated off the walls, and Namjoon's limbs sprawled against the dirty pavement looked even more gangly and useless.
"You dork, what the fuck are we gonna tell manager-hyung, huh?" asked Yoongi crouching down to turn Namjoon over, carefully, wincing again as he saw the size of the scrape across Namjoon's elbow, as it slowly welled up with blood. Namjoon looked even more dazed than he had when Yoongi had first walked into the studio and stared down at the scrapes along his arms with a sort of vacant gaze.
"That I got hurt?" asked Namjoon, and his voice sounded smaller in that moment, and Yoongi exhaled. Patience was a virtue, even if it was long past 4am, and they had to be up again at 8am tomorrow.
"God, get up." Yoongi said, holding his hands out to Namjoon, carefully, "Let's get you fixed up, I know hyung keeps bandages and gauze in the kitchen after Taehyung sliced his fingers open with a knife, so we won't even wake them up."
Namjoon accepted Yoongi's hand after a couple of moments, and his eyes looked more watery as he pulled himself upright, and Yoongi was suddenly reminded of how swollen and red-rimmed Namjoon's eyes were, from something more potent than exhaustion. Yoongi waited until they were safely inside the dorm, and had kicked off their shoes and had forced Namjoon to sit down at the table, before he started talking.
"So, any reason you were crying, despite managing to create eight perfect songs?" asked Yoongi quietly, as he poured out some antiseptic and started to dab it on Namjoon's skin, pointedly looking away from how Namjoon's eyes definitely looked more watery than they had before.
Namjoon looked down at Yoongi, mouth opening a little, like a dumbfounded fish, and Yoongi couldn't help but smile fondly up at Namjoon. "Wait, when did you become psychic like Hoseok-ah and Jin-hyung?" he demanded and Yoongi reached up to tap against Namjoon's swollen eyebags, with a small smirk.
"You need to eat less ramen if you want that to go unnoticed." he said, softly, as he tossed the now-bloody rag onto the able to clean up later, stopping to measure out the gauze instead. "Did you get emotional over the songs?"
"Sorta." Namjoon said, with a low shrug, and there was something furtive in his gaze as he dutifully held up the gauze to his wounds, while Yoongi unfurled the bandages. "It's...complicated. Maybe you'll get it when you hear the songs." he said, lowly. "It's like related and not. But I guess you could say the same for anything in the world, like that six degrees of separation theory, that we're linked to anybody in the world like that. So I guess all idea must be linked. Maybe more degrees of separation, but enough that every idea could just join together in a web of ideas. But then that's just the internet, and things like search functions have been made easier because of that--"
"You're changing the topic." Yoongi said, as he started to wind the bandages across Namjoon's elbow, carefully. He knew how Namjoon's tangents usually went, and they were never this jumpy, that wasn't Namjoon's schtick, that was all Taehyung. Namjoon's rants delved deep into a topic, to the point where it felt like nothing else about a topic could be said, he didn't jump between scenarios like a rabbit on steroids. "You can't fool me, we've lived together for six years."
"Seven now." Namjoon said, quietly.
"Seven." agreed Yoongi, meeting Namjoon's gaze, and feeling his breath catch in his throat. It wasn't like Namjoon was closed off about what he felt for the world and for people, but it wasn't usually like this, not like how Yoongi could read Taehyung and Jeongguk. There was something indescribably yearning and wistful in his gaze as he looked down at Yoongi and Yoongi wondered, for a moment, whether he could hide this Namjoon, wrap him up in cotton wool and hide him from the world, from reporters, from even the rest of their bandmates, to keep for himself, for even a little while longer.
He pulled his gaze away from Namjoon's furiously, before he could let his thought process finish, before things could go oh-so-wrong, and tied the knot to the bandages tightly, making sure to secure it well. When he dared to look up again, Namjoon's expression was tighter.
"Goodnight hyung." he said, rising up, his words on auto-pilot. "Thanks."
"Yeah." Yoongi said, lamely. "Sleep well. Don't trip again."
Namjoon shuffled away slowly, with a nod of acknowledgement and made his way to the bathroom, navigating past their numerous coast and shoes everywhere. Yoongi watched Namjoon leave, back fully hunched over, and shoulders tense again, and mused that he understood Hoseok a little better now. Some moments of intimacy were best here, away from the cameras, in the pitch black of night.