The song suddenly stops and the members follow. The only sound remaining is heavy breathing in the large practice room.
Jimin takes a deep breath as they all listen to instructions on how they can make the choreography better. He pushes his sweaty hair away from his forehead, and the slight movement makes his bones whine. His stomach clenches tightly as his vision blurs. He closes his eyes, trying to stay steady as his heartbeat thunders in his chest.
When his dizziness disappears slightly, he opens his eyes. Hoseok is talking about something and Jimin realises sheepishly that he hasn't been paying attention. He glances around and finds Yoongi standing in the back, watching him with concern etched upon his face. Jimin attempts to smile but it comes out weak, even to him.
Hoseok demonstrates something and Jimin watches, trying to memorise the new steps. If he learns them quickly enough, maybe he can go home for a couple of hours to rest.
It quickly becomes clear that he can't. Their comeback is in a couple of weeks and they need to be done with so many things today. So, they stay up to work on it, taking short breaks every now and then, until they are all drenched in sweat.
Yoongi brings dinner since all of them are too tired to go home, and they quickly dig in. Jimin takes a couple of bites, chewing slowly, fighting against his protesting stomach. He waits until Tae says that he is full before he stands up, murmuring something about washing his hands and changing his clothes. He passes next to Yoongi who is frowning at him, but leaves before any of them can protest.
He stays up the next day to work on the choreography. He is at the centre or the front line for most of the dance, and he can’t afford to make any mistakes. He can’t afford to be anything but perfect.
Jeongguk comes up behind him, wrapping his arms around Jimin’s stomach and resting his chin on his shoulder.
“Morning,” he says lazily, eyes half closed, hair sticking out everywhere. “When did you come back?”
“A couple of hours ago.”
“Did you get any sleep?”
“Yeah,” he lies.
Jeongguk mumbles something incomprehensible and closes his eyes.
Jimin waits a couple of moments but Jeongguk doesn’t move. “Are you just going to sleep like this?”
“Yes,” comes the swift reply as the maknae adjusts his head so he could be more comfortable.
Jimin shakes his head just slightly so as not to hit Jeongguk and continues to comb his hair.
Jeongguk tightens his grip on his stomach, and Jimin almost can almost hear his thoughts as his fingers come to touch his rib cage.
"Jiminie,” Jeongguk starts, opening his eyes.
Jimin sighs. He really doesn’t need a lecture about how much he’s been eating right now. He appreciates the concern, but Jeongguk just doesn’t get it. None of them do.
“We have a meeting in an hour,” Jimin interrupts. “You should get dressed.”
Jeongguk stares at him through the mirror in front of them but Jimin pretends not to see it, busying himself with his hair and clothes until Jeongguk reluctantly lets go and leaves.
Jin is talking to the fans in his latest Eat Jin episode while Jimin fumbles with the camera in front of him. He starts opening the boxes containing food and Jimin finds himself distracted, his mouth watering just from the sight. He can't remember the last time he ate a full meal.
Jin catches him staring and Jimin curses internally. Jin smiles to him, offering a bite, and Jimin can't say no to his hyung; he can't make him worried. So, he plasters a smile on his face and takes a small bite, savouring the taste.
His stomach twists painfully, paying him back for the diet he has been on. Jimin focuses on the camera and tries to keep his mind off the food, thinking instead of all the extra workout he will have to do if he eats more than he should. He can't gain any weight again.
But Jin doesn't stop. Every now and then, he offers Jimin to eat too, and Jimin takes a couple of bites. Sometimes just to please Jin, sometimes out of weakness. And he hates himself with each one.
An hour later and he finds himself on the bathroom floor, throwing up everything he's eaten all day. There isn't much left but he stays there, coughing, blinking back his tears as he desperately tries not to make any noise.
He hears sharp knocks on the door, followed by Namjoon’s muffled voice. “Jimine? Are you okay?”
Jimin turns on the shower, letting the water drown the noise. “Yeah. I think I ate something bad.”
“Are you sure?” Comes the skeptical reply.
“Yeah. I’m okay, really. I will just take a shower.”
He waits till the footsteps become distant before taking off his clothes. He closes his eyes and lets the cool water rush down his body.
Jimin rests his head against the wall, giving up on sleep. He is so tired, but he can’t sleep. Hasn’t been able to for days now.
Maybe he should go. Leave all of this behind. He can’t take this anymore.
He stays like this for god knows how long until he hears someone approaching.
“You okay?” Tae asks softly.
He opens his mouth to answer but his throat closes up stubbornly. He chokes up on so many things he wants to say.
Tae sits on the bed in front of him, putting his hand on his arm. Jimin can’t stand to look at his eyes because he knows what he will see there.
“No, I’m not.”
They postpone the comeback without giving a clear reason. His brothers say that they all need this, that it isn’t his fault, but Jimin doesn’t believe it.
He starts going to a therapist. He looks at him with indifferent eyes and asks him questions. Answering is harder than he thought.
The other members treat him just the same while he recovers, and he is grateful beyond words, but he hates the concerned looks, that everyone had to stop their hard work because he isn’t strong enough.
He spends nights scrolling through Twitter and the fancafe, ignoring the few bitter and hateful comments and focusing on the supportive ones, holding on and telling himself that he will eventually get better, that he won’t disappoint his fans again.
He busies himself, going with Namjoon, Yoongi, and Hoseok to their studios, listening to the songs that they are working on. He watches anime and films with the others, ignoring the restless feeling; the feeling of not doing enough, never doing enough.
A month passes. People wonder where they are. The others try to hide it, but it isn’t like they can hide all the articles and spreading rumours away from him.
He wonders where it all went wrong; when his dream of becoming an idol turned into a nightmare.
His parents keep calling, and one day he goes to visit them alone. His mother hugs him as soon as she sees him, tears running down her cheek. He swallows the lump in his throat and hugs her back tightly.
He spends a couple of weeks there, his brothers calling him every day. They stay up with him when he can’t sleep and fill his messages with everything from ridiculous videos to ugly selfies.
Yoongi mentions that he wrote him a song, and Jimin has to stop from replying in fear of crying right then.
Two months later, he goes back to his second home. The boys throw him a welcome party.
“The house was getting too quiet,” Namjoon says, ruffling his hair.
“You say that as if it was a bad thing,” Yoongi says.
Later that night, they go to Yoongi's studio. Jimin listens to the song every night to help him sleep.
The room is quiet except for their rapid breaths. Their manager congratulates them for finishing their promotions. Jimin wipes his sweat and smiles.
When their manager leaves, Yoongi and Namjoon disappear to change their clothes. Jin and Jeongguk lie on the ground, not bothering to do anything else. Tae sits on a couch next to Jimin, his eyes closed, already asleep.
Hoseok flops down next to them. “That was fucking exhausting.”
Jimin nods, taking a huge gulp from his water bottle. He knows that their schedule won’t remain free for long, but he will enjoy it while he can.
Hoseok steals his water bottle. “You did great, by the way.”
Jimin smiles. “You too, hyung.”
He sees hesitation flicker on Hoseok’s face before he asks quietly, “How do you feel?”
“I’m better,” he says after a moment. And for once, it is true. He isn’t ‘good’, not quite. But he is better. A lot better than before.
Hoseok nods, his lips stretching into his usual brilliant smile, and Jimin for once thinks that he won’t have to lie about this again.