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(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding

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“I hope you realise how lucky you’ve got.” Song Hobeom - thirty eight, verging on pouchy, dark suit and hair a knife-edge away from funereally severe - pauses halfway up the wide, glossy staircase and fixes Seokjin with a beady black gaze which twinkles just enough to stop Seokjin’s stomach from dropping into his new shoes (shining Italian leather, worth more than the rent on his old apartment for an entire year). Despite facing this question approximately four times a day for the last two hectic weeks, ever since he first clapped eyes on Hobeom’s ironic clam-shell of a face, Seokjin still has no idea of how to respond to it.

He settles, like every time before, with a, “Yes, sir,” which makes it sound like he’s swallowed one of his cufflinks. Hobeom’s gaze rakes him down and back up again, and he clicks his tongue a few times. It might be at the stubborn lick of hair Seokjin couldn’t wrangle into lying flat on his head, or the way his eyes are nervously blown so wide that they’re trembling at the edges, but if he finds fault with anything he kindly refrains from saying so. Seokjin appreciates it. The two weeks of rigorous training he’s just gone through has blasted his self confidence into rubble, and they’re only a few feet away now from the beginning of a whole new life for him. He’d like to start it off with at least a shred of self-respect.

“The Min family have a great deal invested in their children. Ensuring their happiness and security is one of the paramount concerns of the team here. From today, this will be a direct responsibility for you - and please bear in mind that in normal circumstances, you wouldn’t even be hired to guard their pet cat.”

“That’s enough, Hobeom.” This comes from the patriarch of the family himself, already at the top of the stairs and waiting for the two of them to follow. He’s not what Seokjin would expect a business magnate to be - small, with a round, gentle face and a steady voice still thick with the accent of his home city. He looks almost out of place in the middle of this gilded granduer, like he’d be more at home in a tapestry armchair with a house plant for company. He looks past Hobeom’s square shoulder with a smile, and Seokjin’s stomach settles a bit. “Our young man comes to us with the highest credentials. You were only a few years older than him when you started with us.”

Hobeom does an interesting thing with his eyebrows which manages to express acceptance, scepticism and amusement all at the same time. “I just want to ensure that Seokjin knows what he’s agreeing to.”

Something in the curl at the corner of his mouth makes Seokjin’s stomach start to sink again. He’d read his contract thoroughly, from back to front. He’d asked whenever he came across a phrase he didn’t understand. He had everything straight and clear in his mind. Why is Hobeom smirking like he knows something Seokjin doesn’t?

The answer comes in a rustle of bedsheets, the flip of a glossy magazine from one limp hand to the plushly carpeted floor, and a derisive smacking sound as Min Senior pushes open a bedroom door and announces their entry.

“Seokjin, this is my son,” he says, “Yoongi.” There’s silence from the hillocks of cream-coloured duvet peaked on the enormous bed. The magazine lies face-down on the carpet; Seokjin recognizes a young film star on the front cover, pressed close to a shadowy male figure with pixels blurring his face. “Yoongi,” the older man says again, with the carefully diplomatic tone of a parent who lost patience about ten minutes after the birth of his child and has never quite regained it. “Sit up and meet your new gua - companion.”

“My new babysitter,” someone drawls from the centre of the bed. The voice is thin and mocking and so thoroughly drawling that Seokjin gets a distinct feeling of sliding helplessly down the slimy moss on a cliff wall. The duvet hushes and pishes as Yoongi flops over and sits up, enough that a pale, pointed face becomes visible in the midst of the mounds. The glimpse Seokjin catches shows him scornful eyes and a sneer which encompasses the entire face. He hasn’t ever seen sneering eyebrows before, but Min Yoongi has them.

The sneer remains visible for about thirty seconds before Yoongi collapses back onto his bed, cuts a loud scoff up to the ceiling, and waves one thin hand in his father’s direction. “No, thanks.”

“Yoongi,” his father says again. He’s clearly perfected the art of saying his son’s name in a way most likely to force him to listen. “Remember what we spoke about.”

Seokjin’s heard enough of the story to know what Min Senior might be referring to. The little Hobeom told him on the car ride over was that Yoongi was his own age - getting too old for a bodyguard who would follow his every move, and beginning to feel stifled by the constant attention. “The family thought it would be nicer for him if they hired someone he could talk to. I guess the kid’s been getting lonely - he’s not allowed out much, not since that first abduction. They want a kind of cross between a valet and a guard. You happen to have all the relevant skills, and be in the right age bracket, so I hope you realise how lucky you’ve gotten.”

Seokjin looks at Yoongi. He’s heaving himself upright on the bed, like moving his thread-thin frame commands a huge amount of effort. His face is pallid and pissed off looking, with a cross little furrow between his eyebrows and his small mouth pouted out, like it doesn’t know any other way to be. He’s wearing a thin white dressing gown, monogrammed in gold thread on the pocket, and one red and gold signet ring the size of his nose. He’s barely looking at Seokjin from the corners of his half-lidded eyes. His expression is somewhere between revolted - in the manner of someone who’s just accidentally eaten a mouldy piece of bread and is contemplating their own teethmarks in the greenish fuzz - and bored, in the way someone stacking shelves at a supermarket is bored.

“Well. Hello Mr. Muscle,” Yoongi drawls. His father breathes out through his nose hard enough to extinguish a small fire; the sound of Hobeom restraining his eyes from rolling is almost audible behind Seokjin. Seokjin himself, he looks from the diamond earrings catching the sunlight through the colossal slanting window, to the curl of Yoongi’s upper lip, and it begins to dawn on him exactly how lucky he’s gotten.

Min Senior closes the bedroom door behind himself and Hobeom. His, “I’ll leave you two to get to know each other,” hangs in the air as the most jarring, futile expectation perhaps ever expressed in human history. Yoongi, still cross-legged like a genie on his bed, looks like he’d be more prepared to get to know the dirt under his own toenails than Seokjin. Seokjin, for his own part and as unprofessional as it might be, feels little more towards his new charge than a violent desire to throw things at his pinched, supercilious expression. He can understand very well why Yoongi needs a bodyguard so much.

Neither of them say anything for a good few minutes. Seokjin can see the cogs turning behind Yoongi’s eyes, sleepy as they may be, as he sizes him up, and he musters every inch of stoicism he developed in his training academy and keeps a poker face. He thinks he has the advantage, if only slightly; he’s been chosen and employed for this role. He’s being paid to be there. Yoongi, however much money he may have at his disposal, has no choice but to be there. He’s going to have to get used to Seokjin - not the other way around.

(Weeks later, Seokjin will look back on this state of mind with sheer wonder at his own stupidity - as if he’d thought Yoongi was some kind of spoiled house pet who only had to be cossetted into obedience.)

The bed creaks a bit as Yoongi settles himself more comfortably. Seokjin’s new shiny shoes squeak when he brings them neatly in line, folding his hands in the stance he’s been taught. He wishes he had some dark glasses to hide behind, but in their absence he tries to level and steady his gaze, keep his eyes on one spot so he won’t be distracted by the opulence around him, by the height and breadth of the bed Yoongi’s lounging in, by the tangle of technology a few feet away from him, each piece of which looks like it costs enough to feed a family for months -

And then he sees Yoongi’s narrow eyebrows flicker, and his eyes perform this slow, sticky blink like a snake sighting its prey. The already familiar smack of the lips sounds in the space between them and Yoongi tips himself off onto one side, propped on his elbow, deceptively casual.

“You’re kind of cute.” He deploys his first strike with studied nonchalance; sweeps his eyes over Seokjin’s figure again with a glance that comes close to approving. Seokjin might be green, but he’s not naive. He holds himself in, waits for the knife to twist. “You’d be cuter if it weren’t so obvious that that’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever worn.”

It’s a cheap first shot, but Seokjin has to acknowledge it. He knows he’s still a bit clumsy in the perfectly tailored suit, still stepping with care in case he scratches the shoes that would have cost him every wage packet he’s ever earned in his life. Yoongi comes from money. He doesn’t. He’s almost disappointed; he’d expected something more original. He hopes the way he blinks in response and slants his eyes off to a corner of the ceiling looks suitably unintimidated, but if it does Yoongi barely has to twitch to shake it off.

“How much are they paying you for this child minding gig, anyway?” The silence begins to ring every time Seokjin keeps his mouth shut. “Probably not enough, considering all the extra shit they’re expecting. You know, how you’re meant to be my,” and Yoongi flicks his fingers in the slowest, most sarcastic air-quotes Seokjin’s ever seen, “‘personal aide’.”

“Apparently you’re too old for a bodyguard now,” Seokjin says. He tries to layer on the sarcasm, looking over Yoongi’s skinny frame and sneering, teenage face. It’s hard for him to believe that there’s only a few months between the two of them.

“Is that what they told you?” Like something’s got him interested Yoongi leans forward, one hand tracing patterns on the sheets, and his canine teeth show in the closest Seokjin can imagine him getting to a smile. “Nah, that’s not it. They just couldn’t get anyone to stick around.”

Seokjin’s throat is sticky, and the mouthful of spit and air he swallows down almost chokes him. “Then I hope I’ll succeed where they’ve failed.”

Yoongi folds his lips, lays one hand over his heart, and turns his eyes to the ceiling as his face assumes an expression of such mocking piety that his eyes almost tear up. “Such dedication to one’s work. God I admire your ethic. I can see you’re just dying to get started with this job.” His expression sours faster than milk in the sun. He falls backwards into the pillows, crucified against the sheet under the weight of his own colossal boredom, and one hand outstretched to indicate with a tapering finger the dresser across the room. “There’s your first task.”

The dresser is of course stuffed with clothing so expensive that Seokjin’s afraid to touch it, and wrecked so thoroughly that someone might have released an angry ferret into one of the drawers. Seokjin looks between it and Yoongi’s sprawled figure on the bed, just the tips of his toes visible in the expanse of duvet. Arranging someone’s dresser might not be the ideal way to earn a wage, but it still beats staring down the barrel of a gun.