Seokjin’s parents often joke that he was born a lover, not a fighter. He came into the world already half-in-love with everything, and in the twenty-something years since then he’s stumbled, crashed and hurtled the rest of the way down. He loves nature. He loves cities. He loves films. He loves music. He loves food. And, perhaps more than anything else, he loves people – loves what he can learn from them, loves their uniqueness and the surprising ways in which they’re more or less the same. So being thrust into a music group with six other (amazing) guys wasn’t an entirely world-changing experience for him, but it was a welcome one. He loves them with the devotion of an astronomer gazing at stars in the middle of the night, when it’s too dark to see anything else.
It’s just – he wishes it was a bit more reciprocated, sometimes.
Look, okay, Seokjin’s not dense. He knows his bandmates care about him. But they care about him the way people care about pencils, taking them for granted until they’re lost, broken, or too worn down to ever use again.
He doesn’t get discouraged by it that often. He tries to reason with himself when he does. He tells himself the obvious facts: they don’t compliment him behind the scenes because they think he’s already the Grand Enlightened Master of Confidence, that’s all. (And hey, most of the time they’re not wrong there.) They don’t offer to help with cooking or cleaning because they have ultimate faith in his cooking and cleaning abilities. It’s fine. It’s cool.
Except that sometimes it’s sort of... not.
Today has fallen into that category of sometimes. He’s not sure what went wrong, exactly, but it’s seven p.m. and he’s curled up in a corner of the sofa in their shared apartment, trying to work out what people are actually supposed to do to take care of themselves when they’re sad. He feels stiff and oddly spaced-out, like the room lights are more dominant than everything else around him. The television is on, volume on mute, and he wonders if the characters on the screen are saying anything significant. They probably are and no one cares.
Seokjin sinks deeper and deeper into the cushions. He’s startled out of his reverie when there’s a sound like somebody running up stairs, and then Jimin crashes through the front door.
“Fuck you,” Jimin spits.
Seokjin jumps, startled. For a moment he thinks Jimin is talking to him and wonders what he’s done to deserve such a smack down. Then Hoseok stumbles through the door after Jimin. Hoseok’s face is curled up in that expression it wears when he’s on the brink of tears.
They both have bags under their eyes and sweat shining on their foreheads. Seokjin cringes when he tries to guess how long they’ve been practising. He hasn’t seen them since yesterday morning.
“For the last time, I don’t know where the USB stick is, Jimin,” Hoseok hisses, “I gave it back to you.”
Jimin clenches his eyes shut and runs his hands through his hair. “No, you didn’t!” he shrieks, whipping around and poking Hoseok in the chest. “You didn’t! I would remember! That had all my new choreography notes on it, hyung. They’re all gone.”
Hoseok blanches. “I gave it to you this morning! It’s probably not even fucking lost; we can look for it –”
“Where? On the moon? I’ve looked everywhere.” Jimin scowls, voice quivering. “Do you know what else was on that USB stick? Yoongi-hyung’s project file for his new song. He’s never going to trust me with his stuff again.” Jimin says this last part like he’s heralding the apocalypse.
(Seokjin is surprised and a little curious as to how Jimin even acquired one of Yoongi’s USB sticks in the first place. To Seokjin’s knowledge Yoongi hasn’t trusted anyone with any of his items since December 1943. But hey, y’learn something new every day.)
Hoseok rolls his eyes. “Oh, come on, you know he makes a hundred copies of everything.”
“I’ll make a hundred copies of you!”
“That doesn’t even make sense!”
“We’re not friends anymore! Does that make sense?”
It’s a petty fight. But Jimin and Hoseok fighting is just not a thing that happens. They’re both too sweet and way too sensitive to have a confrontation of this magnitude.
There’s a first time for everything, it seems.
Seokjin’s not really in the mood to get involved, but as the eldest hyung he’s sort of obligated to in these situations – especially when Namjoon is out at the studio, like tonight. So in the spirit of all great mediators, Seokjin clears his throat and steps forward.
“Uh... hey, guys? We have plenty of time to look for the USB stick tomorrow. And Jimin, I’m pretty sure Yoongi made copies of your choreography notes as well. Why don’t you two cool off and get some rest?”
Jimin and Hoseok both jump upon realising that Seokjin’s been in the room the whole time. They spin towards him with the terrifying spinning power of dancers. “Stay out of this!” they snap at him in unison.
Both boys look shocked for a moment, staring at each other with mouths slightly open. Then, inexplicably, Jimin giggles. Hoseok starts giggling along a second later.
Seokjin gapes. He’s fairly sure he didn’t sign up for this. Jimin gives Seokjin a pitiful look. Hoseok sighs and pats his shoulder. “Sorry for the disrespect, hyung. But you really shouldn’t listen in on other people’s private conversations. It’s all resolved; it’s fine.”
Seokjin finds his voice. “Maybe you shouldn’t have private conversations while screaming at the top of your lungs in the living room, then.”
Jimin snorts, eyeballing him critically. Seokjin doesn’t like to admit to being intimated by people younger and much shorter than him, but he can’t help it. They can be utterly vicious sometimes. “Geez, hyung, don’t be so touchy,” Jimin says snidely. “Come on, Hobi-hyung.” He links arms with Hoseok and they frolic back to their shared bedroom, the best of pals again.
Yeah. Seokjin definitely didn’t sign up for this.
Seokjin makes a snack and tries to comfort himself using the power of Deductive Reasoning. Jungkook is a dancer. Jungkook is a good person. Therefore, not all dancers are bad people. Seokjin has plenty of friends – some dancers, some not – who are kind and who appreciate him. Being scorned by Jimin and Hoseok is clearly not the end of Seokjin’s entire social life.
Feeling only slightly mollified, Seokjin staggers back to the room he shares with Yoongi. He slips through the door and just stands there for a moment, trying to regain his bearings. He looks down at his feet. He’s still on planet Earth? Okay. He checks his reflection in the mirror, making finger guns. He’s still charming and cute? Okay. He can do this.
Yoongi looks up at him and grunts. “Close the door. I don’t want any brats coming in.”
Seokjin closes the door. “Me too, to be honest,” he says wanly.
Yoongi laughs, looking up from his work with raised eyebrows. His eyes sparkle with the delight of someone who’s just heard their Token Nice Friend say something mean. He closes his laptop and crawls to the edge of the bed. “What’s up?”
Seokjin sighs and dumps himself on his own bed. “I think I’m disappearing. Or everything else is disappearing. I don’t know. I think it’s probably me, though.”
Yoongi looks at him blankly. “Did Namjoon infect you with quack philosophy disease?”
Seokjin groans. Yoongi laughs. “Sorry.”
Seokjin shrugs. “It doesn’t matter. By the way, do you have a copy of Jimin’s new choreography notes?”
Yoongi snorts. “Hyung, I have a copy of Park Chanyeol’s essay about ferrets from 2005. Of course I have a copy of Jimin’s new choreography notes. But seriously, what’s up? Don't say it doesn't matter. It does matter.”
Seokjin fusses with his blankets until they’re comfortable. “Jimin and Hoseok were yelling at each other. Yes, really,” he adds at Yoongi’s incredulous look. “Then I tried to be a nice responsible hyung and calm them down. Then they yelled at me. Then they bonded over the shared experience of yelling at me and now they’re friends again. Nothing’s fair.”
Yoongi guffaws. “Wow, hyung,” he says drily. “You really make the world a better place.”
Seokjin can’t tell whether Yoongi’s being sarcastic or not, but for some reason the remark really stings. He mumbles incoherently and slinks further down under his blankets.
Yoongi hums and ruffles Seokjin’s hair. “Get some sleep, okay? You’ll feel better tomorrow.”
Seokjin doesn’t know if that’s true. But when Yoongi turns off their bedroom light and slips out quietly, padding to the kitchen, Seokjin decides to take his word for it.
Seokjin wakes up to the sound of voices in the kitchen. He shuffles out in his pyjamas and cardigan. All the boys are sitting around the table, finishing their breakfasts. “Good morning,” Seokjin greets them through a muffled yawn. He plops down in between Namjoon and Taehyung. He notices with a start that everyone is already dressed. There’s something oddly bright about their outfit colours – an intensity of saturation that’s echoed by the pot plants lining the windowsill (Seokjin’s, of course) and the pile of books strewn across the table (Namjoon’s, of course). “Thanks for waking me up, guys,” he mutters.
Yoongi stands up and paces around. There’s a grim frown on his face. “I don’t like this.” His voice sounds off. Seokjin wonders if he’s getting sick.
Hoseok bites his lip. “Maybe he just went to the photoshoot ahead of us?” Seokjin frowns. Hoseok’s voice also sounds a bit off, like it’s been thrown into an equaliser and had the reverb boosted just slightly – just enough to sound wrong.
Yoongi huffs. “Why didn’t he tell me, then? And why did he leave his phone behind?”
Seokjin blinks. “Who are you talking about?”
Yoongi ignores him. He looks at the other boys imploringly. “Did Jin-hyung really not say anything to anyone?”
They shake their heads.
Seokjin frowns. “I just said something. I said several things, actually.” Yoongi still doesn’t glance at him. Seokjin waves a hand. “Hello, Earth to Yoongi.”
Suddenly, Jimin pales. “Oh, no.”
Namjoon raises an eyebrow. “What?”
Jimin glances helplessly at Hoseok. “Is this because we were mean to him last night? Maybe he’s upset with us. Maybe he ran away.”
Seokjin scoffs. “Don’t be silly. I’m not a child.” No one looks at him.
Namjoon chuckles. “He’s not a child, Jiminnie. Don’t worry, he probably just went to the photoshoot ahead of us and forgot to take his phone.” He glances at his watch. “And we need to be at the shoot in thirty minutes. Let’s go, everyone.”
Mystifyingly, they all get up and leave without saying a word to Seokjin. He swears and follows them outside, pulling on his sneakers as he does so.
Jungkook trails behind as the group head down to the van. Their driver is already there, waiting for them. Namjoon and the driver chat for a bit while the others pile into the van. Seokjin sidles up beside Jungkook, who lags behind looking forlorn. “Jungkookie,” Seokjin tries. “Is this some weird prank? You know I’m here, right? You wouldn’t ignore hyung?”
Jungkook doesn’t respond. In fact, he doesn’t seem to hear or see Seokjin at all. Seokjin reaches out to touch Jungkook’s shoulder and finds that his hand passes right through.
“Fuck!” Seokjin jumps back. He looks from Jungkook to his hand to his shoes, which he had no trouble grabbing just minutes ago. He tries to touch Jungkook’s shoulder again, with no luck. Then he swipes at Hoseok’s head. Again, his hand passes right through.
“Holy shit.” Seokjin starts patting his body down. “Am I a ghost? Did I die?” He gasps when Jungkook starts closing the van door and the driver ignites the engine. “Holy shit!” He jumps through the door at the last minute and does an odd tumble across Jungkook’s lap, then Jimin’s, then scrambles into the back and sits between Yoongi and Taehyung.
Seokjin holds a hand over his racing heart, sighing. “What a day.” After he’s slightly calmed down, he realises he’s just sworn multiple times in front of his dongsaengs. “Sorry,” he says automatically. “I think Yoongi’s potty mouth has been rubbing off on me.” No one responds. “Wait. You guys can’t hear me.”
He pauses. “You can’t hear me,” he says again. “You can’t hear me or see me. You don’t know where I am.”
And then he’s legitimately fucking terrified.
His friends literally cannot hear or see or feel him. Maybe his family won’t be able to, either. This is the kind of thing Seokjin used to have nightmares about. He used to watch the news with his parents and wonder how many people have just disappeared. He thought about their families and thought about his own family and what it would be like to watch them trying to cope without him; without the knowledge of where he was. And now it’s happening – it’s happening. He’s here but he’s not here in the right way. He’s missing from the corporeal universe, like a ripple missing from a series of miniscule waves in a pond. It’s probably not enough to disturb the whole ecosystem, but it’s enough to be wrong.
Seokjin proceeds to have a small meltdown. He leans forward, suddenly feeling like there’s too much oxygen but not enough of it. “Okay,” he commands himself, voice shaking through ragged breaths, “think about this.” He drums his fingers on his knees. “Namjoon,” he says to the group at large, “what do I do?”
Namjoon doesn’t respond. None of them do. Seokjin buries his head in his hands and groans. He throws himself back in time, trying to recall everything Namjoon’s ever said to him. He recounts late-night conversations about the holographic model of the universe and the sleeping patterns of reptilian predators and about how there are places in the world where apes have recognised legal personhood. Roses attract aphids, which in turn attract ladybugs. Taoists believe that harmony is maintained by going with the flow, not against it. On planets with large amounts of liquid methane, unicellular organisms would probably be huge. There are clues everywhere. The problem is that people are just looking at things all wrong. Seokjin sifts through all of it, desperately trying to find any possible source of information about what’s happening to him right now.
He comes up blank.
The members are oddly quiet as they’re driven to the photoshoot. Seokjin almost coos when he realises that they’re worried about him. But they should be worried about him, because he’s invisible. And inaudible. And potentially a ghost.
Seokjin looks at Yoongi. “What should I do?” he says plainly. But he knows what Yoongi would say: if something goes wrong, you just need to try harder. Yoongi says shit like that all the time.
It doesn’t help.
At length, Seokjin turns to Taehyung. “Tae,” he says lovingly. “You can see and hear me, right? Notice your ghost buddy hyung? Please, Tae. Please. If anyone in this mainstream-ass idol group is an indigo child, it’s got to be you.”
Seokjin closes his eyes and tries to direct of all his anguish and confusion directly at Taehyung. It’s a horrible thing that he would never do to his empathic dongsaeng under any other circumstance, but right now it’s all he’s got. He tries to label all of his emotions with Seokjin, Seokjin, Seokjin, hoping it will alert someone to his presence.
Taehyung continues gazing out the window dejectedly. Seokjin sighs.
He’s so done.
“I lick my feet,” he announces. No one bats an eyelid. “No, Rose and Jack couldn’t have both floated on that door, you uneducated brats. It’s about buoyancy, not just surface area.” Seokjin was expecting Jimin to at least twitch at that one. But nothing. Seokjin leans forward, getting right in Hoseok’s ear. “Do you want to know how I know that? Because I’m better friends with Namjoon than you are.”
Seokjin sits back. They’re literally not reacting to anything he’s saying. There’s no drawn out ‘oooooh’ from Taehyung and Jungkook, no cackle from Yoongi, no deep rumble of laughter from Namjoon, no titter from Jimin and no screechy faux-upset protest from Hoseok.
“Okay,” Seokjin says out loud. He’s still a bit panicked. He still needs to figure what on Earth is going on. But fuck it. He could have some fun with this. “God is female,” he declares. “Strawberry ice cream will always be better than chocolate ice cream. Hoseok, we know you get your puns from the internet. Taehyung, for goodness’ sake, Jimin doesn’t like it when you cut his sandwiches into little triangles. It reminds him of the time he failed geometry.”
Seokjin pauses, waiting for a reaction. There’s none, so he keeps going. “Jimin, I don’t want to wash your socks anymore. I’m going on strike. Namjoon, yes, the market for philosophical stationery is way too small to even consider investing in it. I mean, Kant-themed calendars? Really? Yoongi and I have a rock collection with rocks named after each of you. One time when Yoongi was really mad at all of you guys, he buried the rocks in the park. You all came down with the flu the next day and I convinced Yoongi to unbury them just in case he’d inadvertently casted some weird spell on you, but a dog came along and stole Rock Jungkook. Yoongi tried to save Rock Jungkook but the dog nearly bit his hand off. So we let Rock Jungkook go. We never got a new rock for you, Jungkook. We just wrote your name on Taehyung’s rock. So now you guys share the same rock. I’m sorry.”
Seokjin feels light and a little bit breathless after getting so much off his chest. “Also, I don’t like it when you guys don’t help me with the housework. And I don’t like it when you guys tell me shit and then ask me to keep it a secret from the rest of the group. And... And I really don’t like a lot of things, actually.”
Huh. Seokjin sits back in his seat. He looks around at the other guys, who are all either listening to music or murmuring quietly amongst themselves. They didn’t hear a word of his ghostly little confession session. That was the point of it.
But Seokjin is shocked at himself. I don’t like a lot of things, actually. Is that really what he thinks?
By the time the group’s morning photoshoot is drawing to a close, Seokjin has decided that something is Seriously Wrong.
The rest of BTS have reached the same conclusion. But the thing that they think is wrong is not the thing that’s actually wrong, and Seokjin’s throat is hoarse from the sheer amount of times he’s tried to yell that at them.
When the boys and their manager arrived at the shoot location and realised that Seokjin wasn’t there, everyone panicked for half an hour before the photographer got annoyed and started proceeding with the shoot. They had to rearrange a few of the details, but it went ahead almost on schedule. Meanwhile, the manager called Seokjin’s parents, then his brother, then a few of his friends and finally called the police.
Yes. The police. For all intents and purposes, Seokjin is missing.
It’s time to get stressed.
Seokjin wanders around the shoot location, kicking things, muttering things and trying to grab people and cry in their faces. He's been noticing little inconsistencies. For example, he can pick up rocks when no one is looking, and he can take his cardigan off and put it back on. He could probably get naked, but he doesn’t want to do that. He can even pick up props and camera gear as long as he’s not in anyone’s field of vision when he does so. He moved the camera and tripod around a few times while everyone was on break, trying to get noticed. But then Jungkook and Taehyung got blamed for it. The photographer yelled at them for two whole minutes. Namjoon tried to smooth things over, promising it wouldn’t happen again. After that, Namjoon kept a close watch on the camera. Seokjin tried to pick it up while Namjoon was staring at it, and his hands passed right through.
So in summary: Seokjin is invisible. He’s inaudible. He’s mostly immaterial. But he can touch some inanimate objects some of the time, on the condition that he’s not alerting anyone to his presence as he does so.
How very fucking helpful.
After lunch, the next thing on their schedule is separate interviews. Taehyung, Namjoon and Yoongi are going to a radio station downtown, while Jimin, Jungkook and Hoseok are doing a short television segment nearby. Afterwards they’re all going straight to the police station to fill out reports about Seokjin. All Seokjin knows is that he’d be worried sick in their position. If one of them was missing he’d be so, so scared.
Seokjin tags along with the radio group, because he’s too unnerved to hang around the currently more emotional television group. Jimin has been crying for two hours straight, Hoseok has gone white and jittery and Jungkook keeps saying that he misses his hyung. If Seokjin could be heard right now, he’d demand that their schedules be cancelled for the afternoon – obviously they can’t perform like this.
But he can’t be heard. So he climbs into the second car next to Namjoon and ever-so-sneakily puts on a seatbelt. It stays secure, to Seokjin’s immense relief. He doesn’t want to think about the danger that he’d be in if they crashed and no one knew he was there.
Seokjin is not equipped to deal with a crisis like this.
“What would you do if you were in my situation?” Seokjin asks Namjoon. Talking to Namjoon calms him down, somehow. “You’d try to figure out how this happened, first, right? And then you’d work out the solution from there. But maybe you’d understand it more than me. I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m doing, honestly.” Namjoon doesn’t look at him. Seokjin sighs. “But you’re not in my situation. I’m alone.”
Yoongi is riding shotgun. On the other side of Seokjin, Taehyung is fidgeting with his jacket sleeves. Seokjin shifts position and lays his head on Taehyung’s shoulder. “I wish I could talk to my parents,” Seokjin murmurs. “You miss your family too, right, Taehyung? You probably understand how I feel the most, right now.”
Finally, Seokjin reaches forward and rests his hand on Yoongi’s shoulder. “Lend me some of that fierce determination, hey, Yoongi?” He squeezes gently. “We’ll work this out.”
Yoongi shivers. Taehyung shuffles in his seat. “I don’t really feel like he’s gone,” Taehyung says suddenly. It’s quiet, but it breaks through the heavy silence.
Yoongi nods. “Me neither, actually.” Namjoon hums in agreement.
So Seokjin spends the rest of the car journey trying to comfort them. He cuddles Taehyung, chats to Namjoon and tries to be steady for Yoongi so that Yoongi won’t be the only one. He loves. He offers comfort. This is what he does. It's what he knows how to do. For better or worse, this is his default.
Outside, it starts to rain.
The storm pelts down, but inside the radio station the air is warm and the windows foggy. Seokjin curls up in a corner of the room and watches his friends as they go on air. They’re good at pretending things are fine. Namjoon is ready with management’s prepared explanation for Seokjin’s absence. Seokjin is sick at home, Namjoon says, and they really hope he feels better soon. “We miss him a lot,” Taehyung adds.
After that it’s the usual – predictable questions, a few games and the members discussing their various projects. Then the conversation turns to fans. Yoongi gets this steely look in his eyes – the look he gets right before he’s about to say something that makes everyone else uncomfortable.
It's the look that Seokjin knows he should feel embarrassed by, but that he’s unfalteringly proud of.
Yoongi clears his throat and moves closer to his microphone. “I’m glad we have this opportunity to talk about the fans today,” Yoongi says. Seokjin sees Namjoon shoot Yoongi a questioning look. Yoongi stares back for a second before he continues. “You see, a lot of the fans ask me about self-love. And I think it’s an important topic. It’s important to surround yourself with people who love you, but it’s also important to love yourself. Reserve a little bit of space in your heart for yourself. For example, we all love Jin-hyung. He’s one of our best friends and we need him.” The rain starts pouring down harder, so Yoongi speaks a little bit louder and slower. “But there’s something more important than the fact that he matters to us – and that’s that he matters, in general. He’s important and worthy by virtue of being himself. And this goes for everybody. On an emotional level, everyone needs to feel appreciated by others. But on an identity level? You don’t need recognition from others. You only need recognition from yourself.” Yoongi pauses. “I’m just using Jin-hyung as an example, because he was a bit down last night. But I hope that everyone listening takes this to heart. You are loved. That’s a given. You don’t need to worry about it. But what matters the most is that you love yourself.”
Yoongi sits back with a satisfied expression on his face. The MCs nervously thank Yoongi for his insightful words and change the subject. Taehyung and Namjoon are both gawking at Yoongi. Seokjin’s not sure whether he wants to barf or cry.
He settles for crying just a little bit and runs over to hug Yoongi. “Thanks,” he mumbles into Yoongi’s shirt, though he knows that Yoongi can’t hear or feel him.
The interview continues. Seokjin goes to the windows and, using his finger, he writes ‘thank you’ and draws a little heart on the foggy glass. He steps back, studying the raindrops and the view of the city behind his unseen note of gratitude. Then he wanders out of the broadcast room and goes downstairs, figuring that there’s not much he can do now except wait this out.
Seokjin heads outside into the rain. His cardigan is soon soaked through, but no one can see him so he supposes it doesn’t matter. There’s a vending machine in the lobby of a nearby building, so Seokjin fishes some coins out of his pocket and buys himself a chocolate bar. He hasn’t eaten all day, he realises. He’s fucking hungry. He wolfs the bar down and buys another. He buys a water bottle and sculls that, too.
Satiated, hydrated and feeling slightly better, Seokjin turns and heads back towards the radio station. He savours the wild feeling of being outside in the rain without protection. He savours the taste of the chocolate bar and the thrill that comes with knowing he could get away with so much while he can’t be seen. He’s still presumed missing, his friends are still upset and it’s a problem. But it’s got to sort itself out eventually. In the meantime, Seokjin’s hungry and he’s got to take care of himself.
Seokjin walks back through the doors of the radio station and crashes straight into a teary-eyed Yoongi.
Yoongi staggers back and stares at him. “Holy fucking shit.”
Seokjin freezes. Huh. He’s apparently not invisible anymore. He hastily swallows the mouthful of chocolate he was munching on. “Um... hi?”
Yoongi explodes. “Where the fuck have you been?!”
“I love you.”
Yoongi half-scoffs, half-sobs and throws himself at Seokjin. “That’s not a fucking answer.” Seokjin rubs Yoongi’s back while Yoongi just cries. He’s so small like this that Seokjin has to stoop slightly. It’s a little bit awkward, but Seokjin realises that with his arms around Yoongi’s shoulders he can still eat his chocolate bar. He happily takes another bite.
“Mm. Rice crisps.”
Yoongi sniffs, wiping his eyes. “Are you even for real? I just made a fucking speech about you on national fucking radio and now I’m here crying my eyes out after you’ve been missing all day and you’re eating a fucking chocolate bar?”
Seokjin frowns. “I’m hungry! I haven’t eaten all day.” He holds the bar out to Yoongi. “Want some?”
Yoongi shakes his head, sobbing again. “I’ll buy you a fucking buffet, for goodness’ sake. Where were you? You’re soaking wet. You’re going to get sick. Did you write that message on the window? What the fuck am I saying; you couldn’t possibly have written the message on the window –”
“The one that says thank you with the love heart? Yeah, that was me.” Yoongi gapes. Seokjin grimaces. “You’re not going to believe this, but I woke up invisible this morning. I’ve been with you nearly all day,” he says candidly. Yoongi still doesn’t speak so Seokjin smiles. “I heard what you said about me on the radio. That was really nice. Thank you.”
Yoongi groans, closing his eyes. “I’m glad you liked it, at least. Management is going to box my ears off for saying something so weird.” He frowns, peering up at Seokjin. “You really expect me to believe you were invisible?” His voiced is laced with doubt, which is admittedly understandable.
Seokjin shrugs. “I mean, I don’t really have any other explanation. You know I wouldn’t just run away.”
Yoongi sighs. He pinches the bridge of his nose. “Okay. But we need to come up with something else to tell the police, you know.”
Seokjin is surprised that Yoongi just accepts his story, but he goes with it. “Maybe I sleepwalked to a really dodgy part of the city and couldn’t find my way back. But then I saw the radio tower in the distance and walked here.” He shrugs. “The company already knows that I sleepwalk when I’m stressed. And it’s not as if they don’t already think I’m kind of incompetent.”
Yoongi frowns. “You need to stop telling yourself shit like that. No one thinks that.” Seokjin shrugs again. Yoongi sighs. “Anyway, that story is a little more feasible, at least.” He looks him up and down. “And you are still in your pyjamas. Okay, we can work with that.” Yoongi studies Seokjin for so long that he starts to feel uncomfortable under the gaze. “Why did you turn invisible, though?”
Seokjin bristles. “I didn’t do it on purpose!”
Yoongi shakes his head. “No, I know, but... there must be a reason.”
“I wish I knew.”
Yoongi clicks his fingers. “You said you felt like you were disappearing.”
“Last night. What did you mean by that?”
Seokjin recalls the conversation. “I... honestly don’t know.”
Yoongi ends up calling the police and telling them he’s found Seokjin. He delivers the sleepwalking story with ease, while Seokjin sits beside him in the radio station lobby munching on a sandwich that Yoongi bought him. Then Yoongi calls management and tells them the same thing. When Taehyung and Namjoon are finally finished with the radio interview (it wasn’t actually over when Seokjin got back – Yoongi had just taken one look at Seokjin’s window message and fled from the room in tears) they trudge downstairs and are met with a sheepish-looking Seokjin and very relieved Yoongi.
“Jin-hyung!” Taehyung gasps, flinging himself into Seokjin’s lap and crying into his shirt. “Where were you? We were so worried!”
Seokjin meets Yoongi’s gaze. “I... had a sleepwalking incident. I wound up in some weird area of the city. Long story.”
Taehyung sniffs. “You’re going to have to tell me the real story eventually, hyung. But I’m just glad you’re back.”
Namjoon claps Seokjin on the shoulder. “Me too. Don’t ever do that to us again; do you hear me?”
Seokjin smiles through inexplicable tears. “I hear you.”
They all end up going to the police station anyway, for paperwork reasons – after all, a missing person case had been filed and needed to be closed. They find Jimin in the waiting room with a juice box and a blanket around his shoulders. He jumps up as soon as he sees Seokjin and barrels full-speed into his chest.
Seokjin gasps. “Hyung!” Jimin cries. “I’m sorry for being a dick last night. I love you. They said you sleepwalked somewhere and got lost! Are you okay? I’m sorry, you’re the best, I’m really sorry, I missed you so much, Jungkook’s in the bathroom and Hoseok’s getting tea, you can have some of my tea...” Jimin’s face screws up.
Seokjin coos. “Hey, sshh. I’m fine. Everything’s okay.”
When Hoseok gets back with tea, he takes one look at Seokjin, sets the tea down on the waiting room’s low coffee table, and takes off his jacket. Then he peels off Seokjin’s still-wet cardigan and puts his own jacket around Seokjin’s shoulders instead. He smiles, but it’s clear that he’s trying not to cry. “It’s good to have you back.”
Seokjin is about to reply when he suddenly receives a lapful of Jungkook. “Hyung,” Jungkook says simply. He clings and clings and doesn’t let go until it’s time to go home. Seokjin calls his family to assure them that he’s fine. After hours of being fussed over he almost feels like he was genuinely gone for a while, even though he’d been with his friends all along.
At the end of the day, Seokjin trudges back to his bedroom and flops on his bed. Yoongi takes off his headphones. “You alright, hyung?”
Seokjin sighs. “I’ve been instructed by the company to see a doctor about my ‘sleepwalking problem’. On the plus side, I’ve got tomorrow morning off.”
Yoongi smiles and crawls onto Seokjin’s bed. “Me, too.”
Seokjin quirks an eyebrow. “Really?”
Yoongi nods. “I told management that I want to keep an eye on you.”
Seokjin snuggles into his blankets. Then, on second thought, he offers Yoongi a spot under the covers. Yoongi clambers in beside him. “And do you?” Seokjin asks.
Yoongi barks out a laugh. “Right now, I don’t particularly want to take my eyes off you ever again.”
Seokjin hums in agreement. “Well, I am quite handsome.”
Yoongi snorts and flicks him on the shoulder. “I meant because you disappeared! We need to fucking figure that out, by the way.”
“Tell me if you ever feel like that again, okay?”
“Okay. I know.”
“Maybe we should figure out some kind of code for if it happens again.”
Seokjin nods. “Well, writing on foggy windows seems to work.”
Yoongi stares at him for a moment. “You’re sweet, you know,” Yoongi says eventually.
Seokjin laughs. “Pardon?”
“I mean, you didn’t think I would see that message, right? But you wrote it anyway. You’re always doing kind things for us, even when you think we won’t notice.”
Seokjin clears his throat awkwardly. “Well, yeah.”
Yoongi hugs him. “I meant what I said on the radio today,” Yoongi murmurs. “I hope you realise how wonderful you are. You make everyone in the room feel better just by being there. Before I met you, I thought it was only music that could do that.” Yoongi sniffles and then laughs, embarrassed by himself. “It sounds ironic, but I don’t know how we would have gotten through today without you.”
Seokjin squeezes Yoongi back. He isn’t sure what to say, so he settles on a heartfelt, “Thank you.”
“Anytime,” Yoongi whispers in response. Seokjin feels adoration spilling from Yoongi like sound waves. And if he pays attention, he can feel it pulsing deep within his own heart – an endless source that’s as much there for him as for anyone else.
Seokjin’s parents often joke that he was born a lover, not a fighter. They’re right. And lying here, burrowed safely in the blankets with his best friend beside him, Seokjin’s infinitely glad about that.