Jinwoo had become intimately familiar with rooftops over the previous months, his old habits of slipping out of the dorm, leaning across the balcony and letting the smoke unravel the tension that would wind tighter and tighter within him until he felt as though he could snap, was no more. He had rules now, fans to perform for, fans to cherish and keep his bad habits hidden from.
So instead, he was given the rooftops and a strict set of rules. He was not to smoke directly before a fan meet, lest they smell the nicotine. He was not to smoke in any possible fans line of sight, he was not to smoke around the minors nor the vocalists. He was to wash his own clothes and keep their outfits free of the unfortunately penetrating odor.
All these rules led to him collecting cologne and carrying it with him wherever he went, their scents sometimes overwhelming in order to disguise the smoke beneath it. Their manager conceded that an overpowering cologne was more welcome than the intruding smell of cigarettes.
It also resulted in his only safe place being on the various rooftops of the multitude of broadcasting buildings they visited, often desolate and neglected, filled with only whirring fans and vents. While the others rested for the brief moments before the make-up artists and cameras would appear, Jinwoo would slink up to the roof, beaten cigarette packet buried in his pockets, fiddling absently with the lighter as he kept his head ducked low.
He’d created a comforting routine, a quick smoke on the rooftop, gather his senses, calm his nerves, return to his group and calm their nerves in turn. It worked well, he was calm and collected and prepared to face any unexpected misfortunes.
One such day, as winter was creeping up behind them, dusting the ground with snow and subtly icing their bones, he opened the familiar metal door only to be greeted by the panicked face of one Min Yoongi, cigarette dangling in his loose grip by his side.
“Oh! I’m so sorry, I’ll just go, I’m sorry!” Jinwoo rushed, slamming the door closed once more and immediately retreating down the dark staircase. He made it halfway to their dressing room before he couldn’t stand the itching in his fingertips any longer, he needed that cigarette and needed it right now.
Bounding back up the stairs he knocked lightly on the door before once again pushing it open, Yoongi still stood with his thighs resting against the concrete edge, his head turned to face the now open door.
“Again, I’m really sorry but,” Jinwoo paused to withdraw the pack from his hoodie pocket, “I need to.”
Yoongi swiped his lips with his tongue briefly, before offering a swift nod and turning to face the city once more. Jinwoo let out a shuddering sigh of relief, his hands shaking as he lit the cigarette now dangling between his lips.
They smoked together in silence, opposite ends of the rooftop, hyperaware of the others presence. So much so that the nicotine flowing through Jinwoo’s system didn’t ease his tense shoulders. Yoongi left before he did, Jinwoo having lit a second cigarette in the hopes his nerves would settle if he doubled the usual dose.
And thus began the horrifically awkward relationship between Min Yoongi and Park Jinwoo. Both harboring a potentially lethal weapon to wreak havoc on either of their careers. Jinwoo spent the entirety of the day and much of the night that followed tapping at his thighs, wishing he had expressed the importance of maintaining secrecy with Yoongi when he had the opportunity.
If his unfortunate habit was revealed to the public eye in anyway, the cute, innocent, boyish image that he had worked tirelessly to create would be in tatters. Yoongi could restore his image, in fact the smoking might even improve his rough around the edges persona. Jinwoo could not.
“Just quit.” Myungjun offered followed by a long slurp as he swallowed the steaming noodles before him, Jinwoo huffed.
“It’s not that easy. Last time I tried to skip a day I was ten minutes late to the fan-meet because I couldn’t stand it anymore and went through half a pack in one go.” Jinwoo whined, resting his head on the table.
“Get those patches, or the gum, or the fake ones. There’s plenty of ways to get off it. It’s bad for you anyway.” Myungjun said, chewing audibly, taking in the T.V behind Jinwoo’s head more so than Jinwoo himself.
“But that’s not the issue right now, the issue right now is that Min Yoongi knows I smoke and he could be telling half the world by now. Fuck, he could be writing lyrics about it.” Jinwoo moaned, Myungjun snorted.
“Min Yoongi. Suga. Agust D. Will never, ever , write lyrics about you .” Jinwoo pressed his lips together, opting to look down at the streets illuminated by the many street lamps and glowing shop windows.
“But, aside from that. It’s not that you can’t quit, it’s the you don’t want to.” Myungjun said, tipping the carton up to his lips and hiding his eyes from the young leader, gulping down the flavoured remains of his ramyeon.
“Yes, you’re right. I don’t want to and I shouldn’t have to. I wouldn’t have to if Min Yoongi was like every other idol and smoked in the privacy of his own dorm.” Jinwoo raved, ignoring the mildly scathing glance Myungjun sent his way.
The elder pushed away from the table, empty carton in hand, “Well, there’s nothing you can do about it now.”
“No. I guess not.” Jinwoo sighed, Myungjun placed a warm palm atop his head and ruffled his hair slightly.
“Exactly, so stop worrying about it. I doubt he even cares what you do. He’s Min Yoongi.”
The following afternoon Jinwoo pushed open the door hesitantly, sticking his head out first and scanning the roof top before letting his shoulders drop with a sigh and pushing the door wide open. It was empty. No staff, no reporters, no Min Yoongi. If he had known smoking was going to be this stressful he never would’ve started in the first place.
Pulling his cartoon from his hoodie pocket he slid out the final cigarette contained within, during promotions his smoking habits increased dramatically. It had become a tradition he couldn’t abandon, his heart racing when they arrive later than usual to a broadcast station shortening the time they have to prepare and thus, threatening his smoke break.
It was cathartic, “It’s like meditation.” He’d explained to Moonbin one afternoon when the younger boy had asked him to quit, “Same principle. Breath in, hold, breath out. It’s just a little more chemically infused.”
“It’s harder than just breathing in and out though.” Moonbin huffed, Jinwoo swiftly slapped the back of his head.
“I don’t want to know how you know that but I never want you to touch a cigarette again for as long as I live.” Jinwoo warned sharply, leaving Moonbin pouting and rubbing his head but nodding all the while.
“It was gross anyway, I don’t get why you like it so much.”
“I’m not smoking for the taste Binnie.” Jinwoo sighed, flopping back onto the couch and lifting a hand to ruffle Moonbin’s carefully put together hair.
When Moonbin had slipped off into his shared room with Eunwoo later that night Jinwoo had sucked down an extra cigarette on rooftop, if any of his members started smoking, especially the minors, he’d fling himself of the rooftops he cherished so dearly. Smoking was a mistake he had to keep making, but he wasn’t going to let any of them even think about starting.
The creak of the metal door swinging open yanked Jinwoo from his daydreaming, he instantly dropped the cigarette from his lips and ground it into the concrete at his feet, trapping the smoke he’d inhaled firmly in his mouth. The taste quickly becoming rancid. He turned to look at the new entrant, Min Yoongi’s mildly displeased face allowed him to breathe out heavily, the smoke billowing from between his lips and out into the chilled air.
“Sorry.” Jinwoo apologised, bowing slightly as Yoongi wandered out onto the roof, closing the door firmly behind him. Yoongi only nodded in acknowledgement, settling only a few meters away from Jinwoo, as opposed to their previous distance of the entire width of the roof.
The twitching, shuddering, feeling began to creep up Jinwoo’s spine as he realized he hadn’t been anywhere near finished with his cigarette when Yoongi interrupted him, he reached back into his hoodie pocket for his cartoon only to re-discover the utter emptiness it held.
Jinwoo could only stare for a moment, panic whirling through his head. He wasn’t anywhere near as calm as he’d like to be, as he needs to be. There’s a point, about two thirds of the way down his cigarette, when his mind stops and his heart slows and a sense of calm and peace washes over him. Without it he ends up panicking, and when he panics his mind becomes clouded with possibilities and doubts that stop him from focusing on the steps and movements of his members, he falls out of time and his presence on stage lessens greatly. He always ends up chain-smoking in the end, his attempt to flush out the panic that had only manifested without his crutch.
“Here.” A gruff voice offered, a slightly bent cigarette between his two, faintly yellow, finger tips. Yoongi had moved closer, his cool eyes regarding him carefully as his hand, which occasionally shook, was outstretched towards him.
“Thanks.” Jinwoo replied, knees slightly weak but his need for the nicotine overwhelming his usual manners, as he attempted to snatch the rolled paper from his hands.
“It’s not free.” Yoongi said, withdrawing his hand, his eyes hadn’t changed but his lips had quirked upwards, a smirk threatening to break free.
“Huh? Yeah, of course not. I’ll give you one next time I see you.” Jinwoo promised, his voice on the edge of frantic. He didn’t have much time left, he could feel his phone vibrating against his thigh as his usual alarm to remind him to return downstairs went off.
“Good.” Yoongi agreed, dropping his hand back down and allowing Jinwoo to take the cigarette from him, his unsteady hands requiring him to flick at his lighter a few times before it let out a flame.
The silence that had encompassed them during their last meeting returned, but Yoongi didn’t move from his spot, and the unexpected panic that had overwhelmed Jinwoo forced him to forget the awkward atmosphere that should have been reoccurring.
Jinwoo left first, having no time to slowly appreciate the feeling of calm washing over him, the chemicals did the job for now but he knew what would happen later but for now, it was enough. Jinwoo only bowed as he left and Yoongi did the same, the perks of fame is performing later thus having more time to smoke. Astro will succeed, Jinwoo craved that time like a child craved his mother.
“What took you so long?” MYUNGJUN asked, lips pursed as his adjusted the mic to sit closer to his mouth.
“Min Yoongi.” Was all Jinwoo had to say in reply, already flinging off his hoodie and pulling out a random cologne from his bag, hoping it would be strong enough to cover the rather thick scent that had settled on him. He couldn’t really smell it anymore, he relied heavily upon the noses of his group members.
“You smell like an ashtray.”
Jinwoo just wished they were a little kinder with their words.
“I have my own.” Yoongi refused, looking down at the cigarette pinched between Jinwoo’s fingers, ignoring the younger mans puzzled expression.
“But, you said I needed to pay you back?” Jinwoo replied, his voice suddenly shaking. He wished he’d never met Min Yoongi on the rooftops, he wished he didn’t smoke, so far it’s only caused more stress than it’s relieved.
“Yeah, when I needed it. I don’t need it right now.” The other man gestured carelessly towards the cigarette with one hand whilst sliding a fresh one from his pack with the other, fingers working quickly to flick it into position.
“So I’m indebted to you until you forget your smokes?” Jinwoo questioned, the timidity of their first meeting was slowly wearing off, the longer Jinwoo spent around Yoongi the more he realized he was incredibly frustrating.
“Do you forget them often?”
“No. I never forget them.”
Jinwoo huffed, crossing his arms tightly and pouting out at the bleak skyline, “So how am I supposed to repay you then?”
“I guess you’ll have to think of something else.” Yoongi answered and brought the unlit cigarette to his lips, shielding the tip as he lit it lest the wind snuff his flame.
Jinwoo licked his bottom lip before clamping down on it with his teeth, he had nothing to give to a man who’s been receiving first place in every music show they participate in, who’s released a mixtape that Jinwoo listens to religiously at the gym, and who never forgets his smokes.
He’d even gone to the lengths of finding the same brand, a brand he didn’t particularly like but is now stuck with until he finishes it, because rookie groups lose more money than they make. And now the man he’s bought the pack for won’t even take his offering.
“Smoking doesn’t suit you.” Said man spoke up, gesturing at him with the hand that held his lit cigarette, the smoke trailing behind.
“Sorry?” Jinwoo questioned, he wasn’t sure this begrudging partnership on the rooftops was going to work out, he supposes this is why they say ‘Don’t meet your heroes’. They may turn out to be confusing, irritable, assholes.
“Your cute concept, it doesn’t seem right to have a heavy smoker for the leader of a group that sings about hide and seek.” Yoongi elaborated, not looking at the younger man and missing the baffled expression that crossed his face.
“We’re singing about confessions now but aside from that, we’re not our concepts.” Jinwoo answered, flipping open his carton, Yoongi huffed a quiet laugh.
“No, I guess not. It still seems weird. Isn’t half of your group under-aged?” Jinwoo nodded in response, his mouth occupied as he flicked at his lighter, willing it to ignite.
“Here, use mine.” Yoongi’s silver lighter appeared before his eyes and Jinwoo shook his head, holding the cigarette between his teeth as he spoke with a lisp.
“I already owe you a smoke you’re never gonna use, I can’t have a lighter on that list too.” Jinwoo reasoned, still fiddling with the lighter.
“You won’t owe me,” Yoongi assured, forcing the lighter further into his line of sight, “Just take it.”
“Fine.” Jinwoo gave in, stuffing his own lighter back into his pocket and taking the much slicker lighter from Yoongi’s cold hands, “Thank-you.”
And thus continued possibly one of the most exhausting weeks of Jinwoo’s life. For a man who exuded a stand-offish air when disturbed, he was surprisingly annoying and lively when isolated on a rooftop with no-one else to talk to. From his mixtape, Jinwoo had assumed he’d prefer his solitude however every conversation shared between the pair had been initiated by the older male and it didn’t seem as though he had any intention of stopping their brief chats over a smoke.
“So, they allow you to smoke or do you have to sneak away?” Yoongi asked one morning, tapping his ashes over the edge.
“I’m allowed to, but there’s no smoking in the dorm, or in the studio, or in the offices, or on the office roof, or on our balcony anymore cause Moonbin likes to keep window open.” Jinwoo answered, “But what about you? I haven’t seen any articles about your bad habit.”
“I don’t have to hide it exactly; I’m just advised against advertising it.” Yoongi replied, shrugging, “I don’t really want the world to know either.”
“Fair, I just wanna smoke on the street for once.” Jinwoo sighed, “I’ve never been able to just smoke as I walk it’s always huddled outside feeling cold and ashamed.”
“You should just quit.” Yoongi laughed, gaze set once more on the city skyline, “If you’re so ashamed of it.”
“I can’t quit now. It’s been 5 years since I started, it’s too late to quit.” Jinwoo reasoned, his phone had begun to vibrate in his pocket, he sucked the remains of his cigarette into his lungs before dropping it to the floor and crushing it with the ball of his foot.
“How are you going to repay me?” Yoongi called as he opened the metal door.
“You owe me for that smoke, it’s our last day of live performances.” Yoongi continued, “So, how are you going to repay me?”
Jinwoo froze at the doorway, he’d thought that perhaps their debt to each other had been forgotten, that Jinwoo could wait until a day in the far future when he comes across Yoongi and he’s without a smoke. He should’ve known that would not be the case.
“I’ll buy you a drink. Next time we both have a rest day; I’ll buy you a drink.” Jinwoo offered, Yoongi nodded in admission and reached into his back pocket, withdrawing his phone and beckoning at Jinwoo to come closer.
“Give me your number, I’ll text you when I’m free.” Yoongi said, passing the phone into Jinwoo’s hands after he’d entered the passcode.
If Moonbin were here, he might have been crying, Jinwoo considered as he entered his number. He faltered when it came to writing his name but settled on ‘Jinjin – Astro.’ He couldn’t assume he was the only Jinwoo Yoongi had ever met, nor could he assume he’d even remember who ‘Jinjin’ was. They only spent a week together, smoking on a variety of rooftops. It wasn’t as if he was making lifelong connections with him.
“I expect you to follow through with this.” Yoongi said as Jinwoo turned to leave once more, “I’m looking forward to it.”
“Me too.” Jinwoo replied, a grin appearing on his face as he finally slipped through the metal door and down the staircase. He was going to be late again, he’d been late frequently since Yoongi started appearing on the rooftop and the managers were getting antsy with him.
His phone buzzed once more on the way down.
unknown number [11:27am]: this better be the right number
Jinjin [11:27am]: of course it is
Yoongi [11:27am]: good.
Promotions flashed past, faster than they had any right to be. The preparation for the album had felt too heightened, too long, for such a short promotional period but as he looked back Jinwoo realized he’d spent over two months travelling from building to building, performing, meeting fans, and appearing in variety shows.
And yet, having been a little under 2 months since he’d exchanged numbers with Yoongi, Jinwoo hadn’t heard a word. He knew he was busy. It was well known that BTS didn’t have enough time to breathe sometimes let alone text their unofficial week long smoking buddy. And it wasn’t as though Jinwoo had made any attempt at conversation, sometimes he’d open the contact and stare at the set of numbers in disbelief, but the desire to make contact had never fallen on him with such strength that he felt he had to form a message and send it.
Awards season was rolling around, the ache left by promotions ending was quickly re-filled with the news of their coming appearances. The awards they were nominated for, the famed awards he had watched so many before him claim with insightful speeches and tears in their eyes. And this year, he would be attending them.
But first, they had to watch the MAMA awards. They’d received a phone call earlier in the week that their presence wouldn’t be necessary, they hadn’t won the award and there wasn’t going to be a dedicated performance for Rookies. It suited the company fine, Hong Kong was a feat to reach on short notice and what with half the group being made up of minors, it wasn’t very plausible to begin with.
Jinwoo still felt a bitterness settle in his stomach, but it was something he could swallow. It wasn’t the end of the world, only the beginning.
Sanha was less reserved about his complaints, “Why couldn’t we just sit there? I’d be happy to just sit and watch.” He grumbled, laying with his legs outstretched across MYUNGJUN’s lap. The eldest of the group was dozing against Moonbin who was watching attentively each time any group he recognized appeared on the screen.
“Maybe next year Sanha.” Jinwoo said, slapping his hand down on the taller teens legs, shaking them lightly in what he hoped was a comforting manner.
“Next year’s so far away though.” Sanha groaned, closing his eyes as the camera panned across the audience, willing himself away to be among them.
Eunwoo and a manager slipped through the front door as they were talking, Eunwoo’s head dropping as he passed them and practically fell into his bedroom, stripping as he went. Jinwoo frowned, groaning as he stood to follow him but their manager waved him off.
“He’s just tired, let him shower first.” He urged, waving for him to sit and continue watching the awards. Their manager didn’t have much of an interest in who won awards if it wasn’t them, his loyalty was admirable but baffling, and he disappeared into his own room.
“It’s getting late and we have an early morning tomorrow.” Jinwoo sighed, gaze landing on Rocky who was falling asleep against the wall, waiting for their couch to be free of people so he could sleep properly.
“I can’t sleep until I know who wins the Daesang.” Moonbin fought, inching off the couch as a new set of announcers appeared on stage, causing MYUNGJUN to startle awake, swallowing heavily with his dry throat.
“It’s almost 1, we got off early so we could get up early tomorrow Binnie.” Jinwoo sighed, he didn’t want to admit that he was also eager to know the results, that in the off chance BTS win he could use it as an excuse to send a congratulatory text. Maybe, finally, start a conversation between them.
“Come on Jinwoo, it’s not that late.” Myungjun argued for Moonbin, his eyes half-lidded with sleep. The group claimed he mothered them too much but this was exactly why, they were like children arguing that they aren’t tired when they were napping in the mothers’ lap moments earlier. If he didn’t mother them they’d never sleep.
But he was curious, and he wasn’t all that tired himself. And if Rocky wanted to sleep so badly he did have a bed, he just preferred the couch. He let his shoulders droop and waved his hand in the direction of the T.V in a lazy admittance that he had given in.
Eunwoo appeared moments later, clad in old tracksuit pants and a t-shirt, slowly being soaked around the collar by his still dripping hair. Somehow, he still looked good. Jinwoo could never understand how he managed it, with red cheeks and eyes that were practically slits as he tried to keep himself awake.
“You sure you don’t want to sleep man?” Jinwoo asked as Eunwoo dropped into Moonbin’s previous position beside Myungjun, tilting his head back and resting his eyes.
“Mhm, I wanna know who wins.” Eunwoo mumbled, his relaxed position saying otherwise.
“Stop mothering and enjoy the show Jinwoo.” Myungjun muttered, pushing at him over Sanha’s legs, a smirk on his tired lips.
“I’m not mothering, I’m just showing compassion and concern for my group members.” Jinwoo replied, grinning at Myungjun when he snorted.
“Shut up, they’re announcing the daesang.” Moonbin hissed, Myungjun’s coughed laugh caused Moonbin to utter a quiet, “Please.” But his attention was fixed on the screen, the nominees being displayed as the hosts read their names from a card.
When ‘BTS!’ was called out, the cheers of the crowd filled the events building just as Moonbin’s cheers had awoken Rocky and startled Eunwoo from his state of near unconsciousness. The almost nineteen-year-old yanked Sanha from his position on the couch and onto his feet.
“They won!” He crowed, laughing. Their managers head appeared around his door, watching with amusement as Moonbin spun their unsuspecting youngest around the small communal area.
“Shut up! They’re making their speech.” Rocky called, Moonbin’s euphoria drowned out any feelings he would have against Rocky speaking down to him in that moment despite their age gap and he quickly fell to the ground, crawling to be closer to the screen as Namjoon began his speech.
Jinwoo couldn’t tear his eyes from one person in particular, who had buried his face in his hands and turned to the comfort of his members. Something in Jinwoo’s, typically fragile heart, broke at the sight of the man whom he had assumed was untouchable sobbing in front of hundreds of thousands of people. He had to swipe at tears of his own, building up in the corners of his eyes, he didn’t try and hide them and already Myungjun’s hand was in his hair, shaking his head roughly and laughing loudly.
“Jinwoo, you can’t cry at other people winning now. You’ve already established your place as the crybaby of the group you don’t have to keep proving it.” Myungjun laughed, giving his head one final shove before pulling him in for a brief hug.
“I can’t help it.” Jinwoo sniffled, Moonbin was also ducking his head, wiping at his eyes viciously willing away the tears. He wasn’t one to cry alone but he was empathetic, the moment someone else began to cry tears would well up in his own eyes. Rocky had already shuffled over beside him, bumping shoulders with him every now and then.
As BTS left the stage, Jinwoo regained himself and began ushering his members into their respective bedrooms. Any complaints that arose were quickly crushed with Jinwoo’s stern, red-eyed, stare. In the end only Myungjun was left on the couch, daring Jinwoo to usher him into a bedroom.
“I’m going to the roof.” Was all Jinwoo said, rubbing his face with a tired hand, Myungjun sighed.
“You really should quit that.” He said, slowly rising from his seat on the couch and moving towards the front door.
“You know I can’t,” Jinwoo watched as Myungjun stuffed his feet loosely into his shoes, a thick coat already draped over his shoulders, “What are you doing?”
“Coming with you.” Myungjun shrugged, fiddling with the lock at the door as he waited for Jinwoo to join him.
“You’re not taking up smoking.” Jinwoo pressed, snatching his coat from the chair it was slung over and shuffling over to the shoe pile that had formed at the front door.
“No, I’m not stupid.” Myungjun sneered playfully, tapping at the handle, “I just want to keep you company.”
Jinwoo nodded, humming as he did so, he ensured the door behind them before they began their wander up to the rooftop. The stairs were always horror movie worthy at this time of night, but their lift had been out of order for a month now and Jinwoo didn’t think there was any intentions of fixing it.
“Why’d you want to join me? You never join me.” Jinwoo asked once they’d reached the chilly night air, he was already fiddling with his carton.
“You don’t smoke before you sleep unless you’re upset about something.” Myungjun said, dropping onto the concrete barrier and swinging his legs over to the other side. Jinwoo felt his heart drop into his stomach at the sight of Myungjun dangling over the edge but kept himself from dragging the older man back. He wouldn’t appreciate the mothering now, not when the eldest was attempting to mother him for once.
“I’m not upset, just overwhelmed.” Jinwoo said, flicking at his lighter absently, he didn’t particularly feel like a smoke now that he was up here beside Myungjun but his fingers worked automatically.
“By what? BTS winning? That’s a weird thing to be overwhelmed by, Jinwoo. There must be something else.” Myungjun pressed, titling his head back to look at Jinwoo, the new position sent another wave of anxiety through Jinwoo.
“You’re gonna fall.” Jinwoo said instead, dropping down to rest his back against the concrete, hoping Myungjun would follow him down. The eldest member did, his legs swinging over his head as he moved back to sit beside him.
“You’re not overwhelmed, what’s wrong?”
Jinwoo released his first breath of smoke heavily, face angled away from Myungjun as he did so, “I’m nervous.”
“About what?” Myungjun’s hand rested on his knee, his thumb moving in slow circles, soothing him faster than any amount of nicotine could.
“I want to text Yoongi congratulations but I don’t know how.” Jinwoo admitted, dropping his head to his knees. Myungjun’s hand immediately dropped and he heard the elder man groan.
“That’s all? Are you kidding? You’re so dramatic sometimes Jinwoo, I can’t believe you.” Myungjun whined, slumping back against the wall and crossing his arms.
“This is serious! He just sobbed on national television, what am I supposed to say to that?” Jinwoo wheedled, looking up at Myungjun through his eyelashes.
“I don’t know, just say, ‘Congratulations Yoongi-hyung!’ It doesn’t have to be a declaration of love.” Myungjun offered, pushing up on his knees as he rose to his feet. He swiped at his pants wearily, “I’m going inside. I can’t believe I was worried about you.”
“Thank-you,” Jinwoo called at Myungjun’s retreating back, “I knew you loved me, deep down.”
Myungjun swiped at the air, “Of course I do, idiot.” With the final call of, ‘idiot’, Myungjun slipped through the door and made his way down the poorly lit staircase, leaving Jinwoo alone with his phone and a text to send.
It took two smokes and quiet, personal encouragement session for Jinwoo to tap on Yoongi’s contact and form a new message. The message itself took a solid twenty minutes to complete, constantly being erased and re-written, often the only difference being a small grammatical change or a slight difference in the wording.
In the end he couldn’t stand looking at his screen any longer, agonizing over something that Yoongi would likely never read nor reply to. He decided simple was best, simple and neutral and as though he was literally anyone else in the idol world with an acquaintance who just accepted one of the biggest awards of their career.
Jinjin [1:30am]: Hey, congratulations! You worked hard!
What he didn’t expect was an immediate response.
Yoongi [1:30am]: Thanks, wanna come to the after party?
Jinjin [1:32am]: In Hong Kong??
Yoongi [1:32am]: Yeah. Obviously.
Jinjin [1:35am]: Sorry, I’m in Korea, I can’t.
Yoongi [1:35am]: shame, you still owe me that drink
Yoongi [1:36am]: night
Jinwoo clutched his chest, his heart beating a million times per second and his hands shook as he dropped his phone and replaced it with a pack of cigarettes, already yanking out his third for the night. Minutes later he was flinging himself down the stairs and punching Myungjun awake, shoving his phone in his hand. All the other man had to say was unenthusiastic, “That’s great Jinwoo,” before he was dozing off again.
Jinwoo spent the next day pinching himself to keep his eyes open, tired from the hours he spent putting his phone down and attempting to sleep only to roll over and open his phone to stare at the messages, over and over again.
Jinwoo hadn’t quite realised how dull awards shows could be when you were expected to attentively watch each and every group perform. He hadn’t realised to the extent in which he relied upon snacks and idle chatter to struggle through to the end of an awards show. What made matters worse was that he hadn’t been able to smoke since they’d arrived and they was performing in a little under half an hour.
“Can’t I just sneak up to the roof? Surely there won’t be anyone there. Not now.” Jinwoo pleaded with the manager, hands gripping the older man’s shoulder tightly as he begged.
“Absolutely not. There are cameras everywhere tonight.” Their manager swiped the pack from Jinwoo’s blazer pocket, slipping them quickly into his own, “I’ll give them back when we get back to the dorms.” With that he left to attend to the other members being ushered into a dressing room to prepare for their stage.
Jinwoo managed three steps in the same direction before he found his phone in his hand, fingers typing out an S.O.S message he felt pathetic to even need to send.
Jinjin [10:32pm]: Hyung, I need a favour. Our manager took my pack but I need to smoke. Please, I need this.
Yoongi [10:33pm]: Where are you?
Jinjin [10:33pm]: Bathroom near dressing room 5.
“This is a little bit pathetic.” Yoongi muttered, overlooking Jinwoo perched atop the toilet, desperately sucking the last breaths from the cigarette in his fingers out the slit of a bathroom window.
“I know.” Jinwoo answered in a whine, clambering down from his position and dropping the arse onto the toilet, he let his head thump against the stall wall.
“You really should look into quitting; this is really sad.” Yoongi continued, his back pressed against the cool tiles of the bathroom. Jinwoo reached forward to flush the toilet, pulling a toothbrush out from his suit pants pocket and slathering it in toothpaste.
Through his hurried brushing Jinwoo gargled out, “You would be just as bad.” Before replacing the brush inside his mouth and scrubbing harder, he was sure his gums would bleed and so long as they bled now and not on stage, he didn’t care.
“I would be,” Yoongi admitted, “but I wouldn’t be forbidden from smoking in the first place. “Clearly this isn’t working out for you.” Yoongi appeared behind him in the mirror, regarding him carefully as he spat out a pink tinged glob of toothpaste.
“You’re just as bad as my manager.” Jinwoo spoke through a thick layer of toothpaste once more, eyes narrowing in on Yoongi whose expression never moved beyond neutral.
Yoongi didn’t offer a reply for a few minutes, waiting for Jinwoo to finish brushing his teeth and smothering himself in heavy cologne before he spoke again, “Meet me after the show, there’s an after party that I’m being forced into.”
Jinwoo laughed, wiping at his lips for any leftover toothpaste, “I’d love to but I’m the leader of a group made up of children.”
“You have managers for a reason.” Yoongi pressured, “And you owe me a least two drinks now.”
“I’ll ask.” Jinwoo complied, leaning back against the sinks and hoping there wasn’t any water left on the edges, “He’ll probably say no, but I’ll ask.”
With a scoff Yoongi walked towards the door, pushing it open, “Rookies. I forget how restricted you are.”
Jinwoo didn’t bother following him, knowing that in a matter of minutes his phone would be lighting up with texts from their managers, Eunwoo and Myungjun. He hoped he didn’t stink too obviously of cigarettes but based on their managers pursed lips and frustrated gaze, he would say he reeked of it.
They ended up winning an award that night, an award that Jinwoo didn’t really consider ever receiving. He’d always assumed they notified the winners, just as they notified the losers. He’d received that phone call a dozen times over, ‘Unfortunately you were unsuccessful, work hard!’. When he received no such call but instead an invitation, Jinwoo prepared a speech he didn’t expect to use.
“Manger,” Jinwoo tried as they were departing, spotting Yoongi across the crowd of idols being shoved out the doors as discretely as possible. At that moment Moonbin’s arm draped around Jinwoo’s shoulders, pulling him into a one-armed hug. Ahead of him Sanha caught his eye, bouncing as he walked, head turning in every direction as he took in some of the idols he’d never seen in person before. Rocky clutched onto the younger boy’s shirt, directing him through the flood of people while also keeping himself attached to at least one member. Behind him Myungjun and Eunwoo’s hands were linked, the younger afraid that their eldest would be swept away in the tide of people.
“Yes Jinwoo?” The manager replied, voice strained as he pushed his way through, phone pressed to his ear trying to contact their driver.
He took in his group members, all of which had worked with such vigor to achieve all that they had since their debut. Together, they’d been awarded something precious and he could tell by their faces, bright and wide-eyed despite the hour, despite the knowledge that they’d be thrown back into practice the minute they awoke the following morning. He knew he didn’t want to leave them.
With a final glance at Yoongi Jinwoo shouted over the rabble, “Never mind!”
He’d have plenty of time for after parties, preferably when he can drag more than two members along with him. Right now it was time to celebrate with his makeshift family. Yoongi could wait a little longer.
As they were travelling home, Sanha’s head resting on his shoulder, Jinwoo’s phone buzzed.
Yoongi [1:47am]: Congratulations
Jinjin [1:47am]: Thank-you! I’m sorry I can’t make it
Yoongi [1:48am]: drinks. 4 th of Feb. you’re buying.
Jinjin [1:48am]: deal
“You didn’t tell me you had Suga’s number.” Sanha mumbled into his shoulder, eyes barely open.
“Go to sleep.” Jinwoo said, patting the youngest member’s knee, “I also didn’t tell you I had chicken for dinner two nights ago.”
“You what? Without me? Hyung! ”
Jinwoo checked his phone for the hundredth time that night, eyeing the time as it ticked over to 11:30, thirty minutes after their agreed upon meet up time. He’d arrived at the bar three minutes past 11 fearing that he’d been forcing Yoongi to wait for him. The relief he felt when he couldn’t find him amongst the other patrons quickly disappeared as the time stretched on and still the older rapper failed to appear.
Beside him, Myungjun slumped against the wall, sipping at his drink, “Seriously, if he doesn’t show up soon we’re going to karaoke.”
“I’ll give him until quarter to twelve, if he doesn’t at least text me by then, we’ll go.” Jinwoo allowed, pouring Myungjun another shot of Soju who tipped it back, handing an empty glass back to Jinwoo which he refilled.
“I better get a beer before we drink all of this.” Jinwoo gestured at the now half empty bottle before calling over the nearest wait staff.
“Make that four.” A new voice interjected, sliding into the booth seat opposite him as Park Jimin sat opposite Myungjun, smiling politely.
Both Myungjun and Jinwoo startled up and into a bow, Jimin’s laughter filled the small booth as he urged them to sit down again, “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Jimin, this is Jinwoo.” Yoongi introduced, already reaching to fill the empty glasses sat on the table.
“Yoongi, Jimin, this is Myungjun.” Jinwoo answered in turn, pushing at Myungjun’s shoulder lightly and grinning at the newly arrived pair.
A fresh wave of drinks hit the table, not allowing for an awkward silence to overwhelm the table as the prospect of alcohol warmed the newcomers, their shoulders slumping as they settled into the plush booth chairs. The conversation flowed easily, chatter about recent promotions and awards shows, congratulations celebrated with multiple rounds of drinks.
An hour since their meeting, Jimin placed his hands firmly on the table, his slightly sweaty palms sticking to the polished wood top as he leaned forward, “So, Jinwoo. I hear you’re a smoker.”
Jinwoo startled, “Uh, yes. I am?” His eyes darted around the room, taking in the variety of faces invested in their own, private conversations. He’d developed a keen sense of paranoia over his years of hiding, the necessity to disguise his filthy little secret only increasing as time wore on.
“Ah, I hate newbies with smoking habits.” Jimin huffed, his head tilting as his eyes swept over Myungjun’s slumped frame. The elder man had let his head fall on Jinwoo’s shoulder, eyes fluttering as he fought back waves of exhaustion.
“Are you a smoker Myungjun?” Jimin questioned, his smile kind when Myungjun shook his head, nuzzling further into Jinwoo’s neck.
“No. I’m not stupid like him.” Myungjun continued, voice as thick and heavy as his limbs, sunk into the leather seats.
“Oh good. Yoongi’s been itching for one since we arrived, I hate standing out there with him but I usually prefer second-hand lung cancer over being alone.” Jimin grinned, Yoongi swung his legs out of the booth and pushed himself to his feet. Jinwoo followed close behind, smirking at Myungjun’s whine as his head hit the soft seat.
“So, Myungjun. How long have you been singing?”
“They’ll get along fine.” Yoongi muttered with a grin, weaving through the densely packed bar to reach the back entrance, fiddling with his pocket as he walked, head occasionally twitching back to catch a glimpse of the shorter rapper behind him.
“Myungjun gets along with everyone.” Jinwoo laughed in reply. He’d always envied that trait of his. The second he sat before the mirror in the morning the make-up artists were striking up conversation. His face exuded chatty, friendly and warm; even at 4 in the morning.
Yoongi flipped open his carton, sliding one out and between his forefingers before turning on Jinwoo and placing them against his lips. Jinwoo couldn’t refuse without letting the cigarette fall to the ground and so, pursed his lips around the fresh, slightly bent, cigarette while Yoongi’s lighter sputtered into flame.
“Aren’t you nervous?” Yoongi questioned, flame achingly close to the tip of his cigarette, Jinwoo’s head gave the slightest shake, eyes fixed on Yoongi’s unfocused own.
“Scared? That you’ll be caught? That you’ll drag your group down before you even got a taste?” Yoongi continued, teasing, his lips arching into a smirk.
“You should be.” With that the tip was alight and Jinwoo breathed deeply, lungs filling with nicotine, his cold fingers warming as each second passed. Yoongi lit his own, watching the younger man with unfocused eyes, wandering down his face from his eyes to his lips. The older rapper had always been a little quiet but when he was tipsy, he was almost mute. He liked to watch instead, with distant eyes and faded smirks, teasing bouts of quiet laughter. Jinwoo was the complete opposite, his laughter grew louder, bordering on hysteria in some moments, his eyes filled with tears and his cheeks ached from the constant grin.
The cold seemed to sober them both, focused intently on keeping themselves from violently shivering rather than the feeling of warmth washing over their skin and settling in their stomachs, a burn trickling down their throat. The cigarettes did little but warm their fingertips as it continued to smolder.
There was a flash, sudden and violating, at first Jinwoo had thought it to be lightening, his head tilting upwards in search of the thick, grey clouds that typically accompany a flash of lightening, waiting for a roll of thunder that never came. Instead, there was a second flash, and a third, the space between them growing shorter as Jinwoo squinted into the darkness, the flash burning his eyes as his foggy brain tried to latch onto the severity of the situation. Trying to breakdown each moment, each piece of information that was floating through his brain and place it into order.
There was a flash but it wasn’t raining and he could still see the hint of stars through the smog polluting the sky, the air was more so dry than it was humid, his fingers were raspy as they rubbed against each other. He was smoking. That’s always dangerous. He was smoking, outdoors, and across from him was Min Yoongi and there was a flash that wasn’t lightening.
It was a camera flash, and it was still going. Faster and faster, he could hear the clicks as each flash burned his eyes, the bursts as they capture rapidly the scene before them. He was with Min Yoongi, a little more than tipsy, with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. In public.
Jinwoo snatched the cigarette from between his lips swiftly, flinging it to the ground and stomping it into the gravel beneath him. His eyes wide and his vision altered by the dots of light swimming on the sidelines, Jinwoo stared into the eyes of Min Yoongi, the eyes of a man who was staring back with a mirthful smirk.