Everyone knows Runch Randa even though he’s only 16—hell people have known him since he was 13. People call him a little shit for his flow, his natural talent bursting at the seams, his fanbase growing every single day. No one can deny that he’s a good (even great) rapper. They say that if he gets picked up by a company, one that will let him showcase his talent, he could break America.
And everyone knows Gloss because no one else can match his beats. They call him a genius composer because everything he makes gets stuck on loop in your head, and no one can really pinpoint what it is. He gets at least ten messages a day telling him he should sell his compositions to some big company, saying that he’d most definitely make it big. He turns down all of them because his music is his own, and he wants to choose who he gives it to, someone who will do it justice.
Namjoon groans as he slumps down into his chair, rubbing his eyes. School had been a hassel, like it’s always a hassel. It’s corridors flooding with smalltalk and chatter, white noise and dark hair, cell-phone charms and band-aid covered wounds from fights for dreams and good grades that no one really talks about. It’s pretending to care about things he doesn’t and smiling through it all, but at least if he gets good grades, his parents let him do what he wants with his free time.
He turns on his computer and taps the small mic-set he’d gotten himself for his birthday at age 12, and flips open his notebook, one side covered in calculus, the other in lyrics, bleeding through the grided numbers and figures like life bleeds through fingers. He grins—he came up with some good shit today.
He logs onto Jungle Radio Forums and checks his messages. People telling him he’s great, people telling him he sucks, an audio sampling from Gloss—oh. He back tracks and downloads the audio, letting it play on his computer. It’s good, as per usual. He glances over the lyrics on his calculus notebook and sets up his recording gear.
Five hours later, he shoots Gloss back a message with his rap over the original beat.
It takes ten minutes for Gloss to message him back. Dope as usual. Glad you liked the track. We should collab more.
Namjoon sends back a—we should! Dunno why we haven’t yet! Think im gonna refine this a bit more and post it up. I’ll cred you no worries. Then he scrolls through the comments on his most recent tracks, makes note of the good critiques, and gets back to work.
It’s 11:30PM when his phone goes off—it’s Yoongi.
“Sup.” Namjoon picks up, slumping face down into his bed, eyes so tired they feel itchy.
“You haven’t eaten yet have you.” It’s not a question, it’s a statement.
“Nah, I just had a 12 course meal.” Namjoon grins. Yoongi always knows.
“Good, then come out to KFC with me. I’m starved.”
“I just told you I had a 12 course meal,” Namjoon says, his voice slightly muffled as he turns his head to stare at the mic and equiptment clustered on his desk, the smattering of scrunched up papers all marred out by sharpie, the pile of notebook on his bedside table.
“And I’m telling you that I want some fucking KFC chicken.”
“Alright, alright, Grumpy shit, I’m gonna grab a coat.”
“Hurry up, I’m freezing my dick off out here.”
Namjoon blanches as he gets up from his bed, “You’re outside my house?”
“Why the fuck else would I be calling you to come out?”
Namjoon tries to think up a retort but instead, he just sighs and laughs, shaking his head and grabbing his coat. “Be down in three.”
“I’m counting.” Yoongi hangs up.
Namjoon is outside in 2.5 but Yoongi scowls at him anyway, “My nuts are about to come off.”
“Not like you’re gonna need them anyway.” Namjoon rolls his eyes and it earns him an attempted jab in the side, which he deftly dodges, dancing out of Yoongi’s reach, laughing too loudly.
“Like you’ve had anymore experience than I do.” Yoongi rounds the corner of the street and beelines for the bright red KFC sign.
“You don’t know me, you don’t know my story,” Namjoon says in faux offense, “I’ll have you know I’m pretty well known in the underground rap scene.”
“Right, and I’m the King of Austria.”
“You wish, at least then you’d get some chicks—”
“I will literally cut off your dick.” Yoongi shoots him a look and Namjoon puts his hands up in a classic gesture of surrender as they both reach the KFC across the street and hurry in, the scent of fried chicken making Namjoon’s stomach groan. Yoongi cocks an eyebrow.
“Did you even have lunch?”
“Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t—”
“You’re never gonna make it big if you starve yourself to death before you turn 20.” Yoongi turns around to order and Namjoon smiles, feeling a warmth well up in his chest as he watches Yoongi jerk his head back towards Namjoon with a and this one will have the 12 piece. He eats like a starved vulture.
“Thanks for that beautiful analogy back there,” Namjoon says, voice dry as they pick up their food and settle down into a corner booth.
“You’re welcome, I thought it did you some justice.”
“Fuck you.” Namjoon takes a large piece of fried chicke and shoves it into his mouth.
“Don’t make it weird.” Yoongi takes a bite of his sandwich and shrugs as Namjoon flips him off.
There’s a slight break in the conversation as Namjoon finishes his fourth piece of chicken and wipes his mouth on a napkin.
“I’m thinking of auditioning for BigHit.”
Yoongi blinks at him over the half-eaten sandwich and when he finally takes a bite, he takes his time chewing and swallowing before answering.
“Would they let you write your own raps and stuff?”
“They said they would.”
“Did they say how long they were gonna let you write your own raps till they start making you sing those shitty, croony love songs?”
“They said I’d get artistic freedom the lyrics of my music.” Namjoon shoves another piece of chicken in his mouth and chews too fast. Yoongi sets down his sandwich and laces his fingers.
“Actually, BigHit reached out to me too.”
“Damn, did they tell you you could do your own thing too?”
“Yeah, told me I could produce my own songs and stuff. I dunno though, doesn’t feel right somehow. I’d still have to hand over my music, yknow?”
“Yeah,” Namjoon leans back in his seat, regarding the last couple pieces of chicken.
They spend the rest of the night wandering through the streets of Seoul, neon lights soaking the streets in a kind of eternal day that not even night can break, the kind of endless day that dreams are built on and shattered over.
Two weeks later, and three Runch Randa x Gloss collaborations later, they decide to meet up in person and just chat about music. It’s well overdue, people on the board had been talking about them as a duo for ages.
Yoongi comes over after school that day.
“Gotta leave early though, meeting someone.”
“Oh~ is it a date? Didn’t know you had it in you hyung, good job.”
“Shove a pole up your ass Namjoon, it’s not a date.”
“Ah, thank god, I was worried I had to call up some poor girl to warn her about your weird kinks.”
“What the fuck, you don’t even know anything about my kinks.”
“So you’ve got them.”
“Fuck directly off Kim Namjoon, why do I even bother with you?”
“Cause I’m your only friend.”
“One more word and I’m leaving.”
“You can’t, you’re borrowing my history homework to copy cause you fell asleep in class again.” Namjoon takes a long sip of his iced tea if only to watch Yoongi sputter.
After Namjoon is duly satisfied with Yoongi’s reaction, he sets down his iced tea, “I actually have a meeting today too.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve gotta girl.” Yoongi rolls his eyes so hard Namjoon fears they might never unroll out of his head.
“Nah, but you wouldn’t know if I had one, would ya.”
“As if, I’d be the first to know.”
“Yeah? Why’s that?”
“Cause I’m your only friend.”
“Aye,” Yoongi grins and does a small victory dance from his place on the ground, leant up against Namjoon’s bed.
“But for real though, I gotta thing, so I’m gonna kick you out.” Namjoon sits up and nudges Yoongi with his foot.
“I gotta go too. I’ll give you your homework tomorrow in class.” Yoongi checks his watch and shoves Namjoon’s notebook into his hell pit of a backpack and shoulders it. He’s out the door in three minutes flat, tossing a couple well-placed insults over his back, Namjoon letting him have them because he had more important things to worry about. Like this meeting with Gloss. And as weird as it sounds, it does kind of feel like a date, because no matter how hard he tries to rationalize, he wants to impress Gloss. He has a lot of respect of Gloss’s music, and the raps that he did put up weren’t half bad either.
So he fusses with his hair in the mirror before picking his favorite pair of jeans and pulling a clean hoodie over his head, stepping into his Adidas and heading out the door for a local coffee shop.
When he gets there, he scans the booths along the walls. Seems like Gloss isn’t here yet—he said he’d wear something red and that Namjoon should too.
He takes a seat by the wall and orders a large latte.
Ten minutes later, he spots someone sporting a bright red snapback coming through the door of the café, but he knows that figure, in fact he knows it much too well.
“Namjoon?” Yoongi freezes as he sweeps the small café.
“What are you doin—” they both freeze as the realization hits.
“Fuck, are you Gloss?”
“You’re Runch Randa?”
There’s a stunned silence before they both burst into a fit of laughter, Yoongi slumping down in the seat opposite, grabbing the hat from his head and slamming it down on the seat next to him. Then, Yoongi pins Namjoon with a look.
“What kind of dumbass name is Runch Randa anyway? Fuck…”
Namjoon scoffs, “One that’s better than Gloss, what are you, a hair commercial?” He mimicks the movement of tossing back his hair as Yoongi narrows his eyes.
“So now what?”
“Right… now what?” Namjoon asks.
Another silence. Another bout of endless laughter and it isn’t till they’ve both calmed down that Namjoon speaks.
“Y’know I would have known it was you if you didn’t normalize the living daylight outta your voice.”
“As if—you definitely lower your voice to make it sound like your balls have dropped all the way.”
“Man, think of all the collabs we could have done,” Namjoon says, grining at the waitress as she sets his drink in front of him and turns to Yoongi. He orders a caramel macchiato and kicks Namjoon under the table when he almost chokes on his drink at the order. Girlie, but fucking great.
Yoongi turns after he finishes his order, “Think of all the collas we could do from now on though.”
“That’s true.” Namjoon nods, tracing the rim of his now foam-covered cup.
“You look like you’ve just aged 60 years—wipe your face you animal.” Yoongi shoves the stack of napkins towards Namjoon as he makes a deliberately ugly face back at Yoongi. Yoongi makes a face back just as the waitress comes back and Namjoon laughs into his cup at the sudden change in Yoongi’s expression as the waitress sets down his drink. They both stay silent till the waitress is well out of earshot.
“Awesome, now she must think we’re stupid.” Yoongi takes a too-large sip of his macchiato and almost burns himself. Namjoon is howling.
“Wouldn’t be too far off the mark.”
And this time, the silence thickens, the both of them staring into their own cups.
“I’m thinking of auditioning too,” Yoongi says, finally, finally, and Namjoon’s heart skids.
“Yeah… figure that if I wanna really continue doing music, can’t just keep making beats in my basement and keeping them to myself. And it’s better than selling out to a one of those huge companies.”
“I think so too,” Namjoon nods. And then, “We should audition together. Be a part of the same group or something.”
Yoongi quirks an eyebrow at him, “You think we could? Like… make it into a group and all?”
“I mean… what’s the worst that could happen? We don’t make it and we’re back to making beats in your basement, me recording in my bedroom. Or we could get somewhere, get an audience and people who want to listen, who don’t know about Jungle Radio boards.”
Yoongi is nodding, mulling over thought.
“Yeah… that’s true.”
Yoongi grins, a new kind of light in his eyes, “Let’s fucking do it.”
“Hell yeah,” Namjoon grins too, too wide and they clap their hands together, palms sliding, pulling back and wiggling their fingers, a kind of secret handshake of sorts that isn’t so secret anymore.
“Then we’ll be able to do collabs all the time,” Yoongi says.
“They won’t be collabs if we’re in the same group, you dipshit.” Namjoon laughs as he stands up and puts a bill on the table. Yoongi puts down his half and they make their way from the shop, shivering slightly as they’re greeted by the cool of the autumn air. Yoongi huffs; he’s never been one for the cold.
“Let’s go to my place,” Yoongi says, jerking his head towards their left, “We need to come up with a good audition.”
“Yeah, gotta be the best yet.” Namjoon nods, following after Yoongi as they set off, the chill nipping at their cheeks, flushed and excited, full of a hope only the youth can remember how to feel. A depthless fearlessness that takes over the whole of the body and mind, channeling into devotion and passion for something that they both share.
“Don’t worry,” Yoongi crackles his knuckles, “It will be. Just try to keep up.”
Namjoon rolls his eyes, “Oh, sure thing Gloss.”
“You know what, Runch Randa?”
They catch each others eyes and laugh, shoulders nudging, their breaths spiraling towards the sky in reams and reams of endless, unbreakable dreams of the future, whether bright or dark, at least they’d have each other.