Seokjin is MCing a chat show on his own by the time he’s twenty-five. It’s something his agent penciled in out of desperation when the ratings for Love Among the Stars began climbing down, and for a rocky couple of months Seokjin sucked. Adding food into the format had been a stroke of genius that came later. Now, about one year in, he still sucks but he’s comfortable enough about it that he’s got a reputation for helping high-strung idols let loose without losing their dignity.
“Today, to celebrate their Show Champion victory, we have Red Velvet with us! So I thought, to make it extra-special, we’d have red velvet cake today, making today’s theme red velvet overload.”
The audience chuckle along, and Red Velvet groan good-naturedly. They've been on before-- they know how the show works, and Seokjin’s exaggerated flirting and insight always fits well with their concepts. They all look great sitting together.
“Ah, oppa,” Seulgi sighs, smiling and sinking into the chairs that were just squishy enough to be comfortable. “Your face is a trap to hide how lame you really are.”
They’d had a rundown with their managers earlier about what was acceptable and what was not-- Seokjin is supposed to linger on their new single, delve into some embarrassing childhood videos the production team found, and ask about the rest of the album. He’s also allowed to have ‘a little, not too much’ chemistry with Seulgi, who laughs at his jokes the most. He likes them all a lot but work is work; all he genuinely looks forward to is the food.
He mock-scowls and takes his first bite of cake. It would go well, he thinks.
“It’s all over Twitter,” Lee Jaehwan says. He’s propped against Seokjin’s counter, scrolling through something on his iPad as Seokjin gets his makeup removed. “There’s like a thousand screenshots of Seulgi’s face when you made your moo-ha-ha joke. And they’re really loving the blond hair.” He pauses. “Really loving it.”
“Good,” Seokjin says distractedly. Most of his fashion choices are made by Jaehwan, who’s one of the more hands-on managers in the game, going as far as to dye his hair the same shades as Seokjin every new season. He also puts Seokjin in tight tight leather pants every now and again. When Seokjin had complained he’d said, “The goofy best friend image is well and good but South Korea needs to remember you’re a heartthrob, Jin.”
“I thought that’s what my whole acting career is for.”
“No, dumbass, the acting is you getting the girl. This is where every girl in the country realizes they want you.” He puts a hand on Seokjin’s shoulder. “Trust me son. I know what I’m doing.”
“You’re the same age as me,” Seokjin grumbles, but lets it go. Jaehwan is more than a manager-- more than a friend, sometimes, because he knew Seokjin since the grimier parts of his career, knew some of his biggest secrets. He’s funny and he adores Seokjin to pieces and Seokjin got on with him like a house on fire.
Jaehwan scrolls some more. “Oh, and they really liked what you said about aegyo. Some shitheads are crying about how it’s the foundation of girl groups but nearly everyone agrees that forcing them to do it on shows is ridiculous.”
“Is it going to get you in trouble?”
“Oh, Jinnie, no,” Jaehwan says, eyes softening. “We’ll be fine. Junghwan will fuss but you know how he is, he likes to think the whole world’s burning and only he’s noticed. Will you be okay? You have a promo shoot in an hour.”
Seokjin shrugs. “Yeah,” he said. “No big deal.”
He’s exhausted all the time. When he was younger he liked keeping busy, feeling wanted from every direction but being this overbooked probably wasn’t the sign of a healthy career and he’s kind of over it. Jaehwan has standing orders to politely turn down every offer except movies, and only movies from independent filmmakers. Even approaching burnout, he’s still in love with the idea of being in something to act.
His apartment reflects this-- it’s the kind of place he’d dreamed about, from the charming pink-and-grey minimalism to the row of awards on the cabinet. Five identical trophies, the most popular actor for five years running. He’s come a long way.
(He hasn’t moved an inch.)
He goes straight to bed and curls up in the dark with his phone. His selca at the shoot was gaining likes still, on the way to being his most popular one. Jaehwan was right, the fans do love the blond hair. They’re bubbling over with praise on social media and there’s a lot of girlish screaming and keysmashes that make him smile at the screen. People are quoting what he said about letting girl group members be girls and there’s some hype about his next Eat Jin with Mamamoo.
He reminds himself to read up the info the producers sent him about the group later and loads some of Mamamoo’s previous variety appearances. They’re catchy and outspoken and talented, lined up for a Daesang in the near future and there’s a strut to their walk that shows they know all this. Seokjin thinks he’d like them all a lot.
He falls asleep watching them call Moonlit Waltz their favorite drama and wakes up with a crick in his neck. Business as usual.
Mamamoo are super giggly, and perhaps the best guests Seokjin’s had in his entire career. They were a good choice, Seokjin thinks fondly as the segment about their album winds down with a lot of laughter from the audience. They weren’t afraid to say anything risky and he had good chemistry with all of them. Their manager behind the camera keeps shaking her head but she’s smiling like she’s used to all this, them being giggly girls, pretending to swoon each time Seokjin blows a kiss.
He makes a nice transition from giggling at their antics to their celebrity crushes (they all reply with his name, what precious, precious girls) to what the production team’s notes tell him is something of a running gag when it comes to Mamamoo:
“So with your drama crushes out of the way,” he says, leaning forward and flashing a wink at the camera. “Let’s talk about your musical crushes.”
“BTS!” they all chorus with big smiles.
Seokjin laughs along. “It looks to me,” and the screen shows clips of them dancing to BTS choreo, “like you girls have it bad.”
The audience eats it up. They love mentions of other groups and there’s at least a small minority of BTS fans in any gathering.
“We respect them a lot,” says Solar, dimpling at him. “Their music is amazing. And their charisma.”
“Their dance,” sighs rapper Moonbyul, who Seokjin knows is Mamamoo’s dance lead.
Seokjin nods along, but at the end of their outburst he gives them his cheerfullest grin. “But here’s the real question: who’s your favorite?”
The girls light up. They were looking forward to this question, Seokjin realizes. They’re so open it’s refreshing.
“Park Jimin!” Hwasa and Solar shout, and look at each other, and laugh.
“Rap Mon sunbaenim is seriously cool,” Moonbyul mumbles.
Wheein looks at all her group members like she’s never seen them before.
“Min Yoongi,” she says, incredulity so strong her satoori slips through. “Suga? Hello? Did you guys forget him or what?”
The others pelt her with cushions, laughing at her disbelieving expression. Seokjin hams up his sympathy as she pretends to cling to him and says, “There, there. Why do you like Suga-ssi so much, Wheein-ah?”
“Because he’s perfect, oppa,” Wheein says earnestly. “He’s the kind of guy you can go for walks in the beach in the sunset with. He’d make you breakfast! And he’s got good taste in drama as well, so we could talk about that. We could talk about you, Seokjin-oppa.”
Seokjin makes unplanned eye contact with Jaehwan and mouths, what the fuck. Thankfully, the focus is still on Wheein, who’s still talking: “His favorite drama is Moonlit Waltz so we could probably watch it over and over.”
Seokjin smoothes the tension from his face. “Sounds to me like the perfect date,” he says, and beams.
“How did we miss this,” Junghwan is fuming. “Whose fault is this, because I damn well know it wasn’t mine.”
“The interview was pretty recent,” Jaehwan says. “It says November, before the last BTS comeback. I’d say the timing was ideal.”
“Be that as it may, our source shouldn’t have been a random idol from a show when we finally have a shot at booking BTS,” Junghwan says. Eat Jin has been trying to book them since they made it big, but so had every other show in the business including Bakhyun and Chanyeol’s shriekingly popular Weekly MV. Everybody wanted a piece of Bangtan. “Good job covering up, by the way, Jin. It’d have looked bad if you had a fan as high-profile as Suga and didn’t know about it.”
“Which one is he, again,” Seokjin asks, because he honestly keeps forgetting. The only music he listens to are his guests’ and his obligatory BTS knowledge that came from not living under a rock the past five years didn’t include the members’ faces.
Junghwan is rolling his eyes before he finishes the question. “He’s the rapper. Not the lead, but the popular one. Got a reputation for being as hardcore as it gets.”
“Hm,” Seokjin says skeptically.
“I know, I know,” Junghwan says. “Hardly the profile of your typical Moonlit Waltz fan. But we all know that interview was legit, so he definitely said that his favorite character of all time was yours, and he seems at least a little familiar with your other work. This could be our chance, flower boys.” His eyes were shining. “This could actually work out.”
“So, what do you think?” Jaehwan says, pilfering through Seokjin’s cabinets for a snack. “Is he your type?”
“Min Yoongi,” and there’s a definite tone in Jaehwan’s voice now, and it makes Seokjin look up from the script he’d been studying. “He’s definitely not in the teenage girl demographic of your fans. That leaves one other option. So, do you think…?”
“I don’t know,” says Seokjin. “He’s probably a casual fan.”
The look on Jaehwan’s face says he’s not buying it. And to be honest, Seokjin isn’t, either. When someone asks your favorite character no one says the name of the male lead from a well-produced, but ultimately saccharine romance drama that ended seven years back. And judging by his other answers, he hadn’t been joking.
“How much time left?” Jaehwan yelps suddenly, after the silence had grown meaningful.
Seokjin starts. “Two minutes.”
“Shit shit,” and he’s scrambling to set up the cameras while flapping a hand at Seokjin to load the V App. “Where’s Junghwan? He said he’d be here at eleven-thirty!”
Seokjin checks his phone. “He’s stuck in traffic. He’s asking us to do it ourselves. A bunch of crying emojis. Then he says the opportunity’s too good to pass up.”
“True,” Jaehwan says. “There’s no way we can wait till their next comeback.”
The red light on the camera blinks on and Seokjin beams at the lens. “Hello! Ah, it’s late. Five minutes to midnight, I hope everyone’s snuggled in and ready for the big event. There’s over a thousand viewers already! Wow, amazing. Leave a lot of comments! Are you excited? Five more minutes till BTS’s newest MV for Spring Day is released! Lets watch it together!”
Jaehwan taps his phone screen. Seokjin squints. “Oh, someone has said, Jin-oppa, what did you think of the teaser? I thought it was amazing, amazing, amazing. The song has a nice hook, and the boys looked really handsome. I think it will be as catchy and intense as Fire. Ah, I seriously love Fire. Fire!” He does a little dance and applauds himself. “Oh gosh, two minutes left!”
Behind his phone, Jaehwan looks proud of him for remembering all the BTS information they’d crammed the past few days. Fighting, he mouths.
“Okay, I’m on the homepage. It’s not there yet. Is everyone else ready? Oh, you’re leaving lots of hearts. Here’s a heart from me as well!” He blows a kiss. “And right on time, here it is! BTS’s Spring Day! Wah, I’m excited!”
“The aesthetics are great,” Seokjin says, trying to force a smile for the fans watching. “Oh, the chorus is coming up. I--”
“Oh my-- Jinnie, wait, are you--” Jaehwan says, reaching for him from behind the camera.
“I really love this MV,” Seokjin says. He won’t know till Jaehwan tells him later that he has tears rolling down his cheeks. “I love it so much. It’s beautiful.
“I just didn’t expect it to be such a sad song.”
Jaehwan jokes that Love Among the Stars is Junghwan’s baby. It’s certainly not either of theirs-- Jaehwan and Seokjin are notorious drama snobs. Still, it’s Seokjin’s longest-running drama yet --close to two hundred episodes of his and Ahn Heeyeon’s excruciatingly slow burn romance-- and it’s been perched precariously since its first episode in the coveted 7pm slot. The plot’s not as good as Moonlit Waltz, but it’s not too tiring and it’s a good way to keep himself in the public eye until something a little more fulfilling comes along. In theory.
“I saw your interview with Mamamoo,” Heeyeon says after the shoot, looking as tired as he feels with her makeup off. “They’re hot. I really like them.”
“You’re a fan?”
Hani gives him a wicked little smile. “Sure. Not as much of a fan as you are of BTS, though.”
“Ugh,” Seokjin says.
“What are we talking about,” and their cinematographer Amber begins pulling Seokjin’s hands away from his face, peering up at him, smile huge. “Ah, your face’s so red! Are you crying? Is this another of your Spring Day moments? You’ve been on this show way too long, it’s made you all sensitive and shit.” She strikes a pose: both hands over her face, back arched, face agonized. “I miss you,” she hisses. “Even when I’m looking at your picture, I miss--”
“Quit it,” Hani snorts, pushing her away. Amber subsides amiably, pulling Hani in for a side-hug before giving her the softest look.
Seokjin had always wondered about these two. One of the reasons he said yes to Stars was to meet them.
“Jin,” Hani says. He snaps his eyes away from where they’re touching, too intimate for work friends. “Jin, I know the BTS interview is a big deal. I’m happy for you.”
“Hope you kick ass today. If you feel like crying, remember,” Amber says and makes a duck face, screaming, “snowflakes fall down, get further away little by little--”
Amber and Hani shout together, “I miss you!”
Seokjin hears them burst out laughing as he bolts. “Seokjin, fighting!” calls Amber.
He waves. His smile is huge. He has a good feeling about this.
“They’re late,” Junghwan frets.
Seokjin wrings his hands a little, too anxious to form words. Things usually hit him slowly, and it wasn’t till he saw his makeup noona fussing about his eye bags that he really got that he’d pulled off a miracle to get BTS to come to their relatively new talk show as their first TV appearance post-comeback.
“Your reaction video just hit nine million views,” Jaehwan says from his perch on a burrowed director’s chair. He looks so casual Seokjin wants to hit him. “The MV is at seventeen mil. Forget accompaniment, you’re officially their competition for popularity now.”
“I’m going to throw up,” Junghwan announces.
Jaehwan gives him an amused look. “What, why? It’s fine. So they’re a little late, it’s not like we don’t know what they do and don’t want to talk about in minute detail, anyway. I don’t even message my girlfriend as much as I’ve messaged Kim Seijin this past week. If he wasn’t three times my size I’d ask him to fight me.”
Seokjin snaps his fingers in front of his contemplative expression. “Not helping.”
“My point is that you got this, Jinnie,” Jaehwan says, smiling up at him easily. “A little traffic won’t get in the way of the perfect interview you’ve been practicing so hard for.” His phone chirps and he perks up. “They’re at wardrobe right now so you won’t have to start without them. Positive, positive, think positive.”
“No time for a run-through,” Junghwan says in a dead voice. “If you fuck it up it’s not like you’re blowing the interview of a lifetime or anything.”
Jaehwan pats his back with cheerful force. “Yah, someone might take you seriously, you know! Someone might think you didn’t have enough confidence in our Jinnie’s talent!”
“I’ll be fine,” Seokjin blurts. “I got this.”
“Go,” Junghwan says a little tremulously. He makes himself smile too, even though it kind of cracks at the edges. “You’ll be amazing.”
Seokjin walks out to the audience applause in a daze. It’s buzzing-- the whole studio is literally buzzing with excitement, and he has to take extra care not to rush through his rehearsed lines or fumble his ad libs. He paces out the greetings. He throws out hints. When the walk-in music begins to play in the background (the production team had chosen Fire) he relaxes his face into his best smile and says, “Finally, it’s what we’ve all been waiting for: time to introduce my guests. Come on out, Bangtan Sonyeondan!”
They hit like a bullet to the chest. They’re not a lot younger than us, Jaehwan had said but the boys who walk in are like youth itself, explosive and vibrant and the energy of the room reaches a fevered pitch. Seokjin had spent all his breaks and free time reading up on them and watching old videos but he’d been so, so underprepared for…this, how stunning they all are. Nothing he had seen in the last two weeks warned him about Rap Monster dimpling sweetly at him, Jimin and J-Hope linking their arms with his, V hyping up the crowd, or Jungkook and Suga bringing up the rear looking like they were airbrushed in from a fashion magazine.
Their concept for the comeback has seemed casual so far: they’re wearing colorful comfortable clothes with no easily discernible rhyme or reason, that fit bizarrely well with the theme and haphazard vibe of Eat Jin. Seokjin’s good feeling grows.
“We match!” is the first thing V says after they greet the audience. The first thing he does is tug at his T-shirt collar and point at Seokjin’s, grinning big and spinning to show off to the cameras. Seokjin laughs and does the same. He’s usually uncontested as the handsomest person in the room but Kim Taehyung is gorgeous. He’d have to work extra-hard to keep the audience attention today.
“Ah, it’s fate, it’s fate,” Seokjin says. “I, Eat Jin am lucky enough to have global superstars BTS with me tonight, and they’re here after a long and successful year where they dominated the charts. So if I were to ask you, what was the highlight of the past year, what would you say?”
They’re settling into the fluffy chairs, eyes inquisitively fixed on Seokjin’s. They’re seated in pairs like they have since debut-- V and Rap Mon hugging pillows to themselves, J-Hope and Jimin with their legs tangled and on the furthest corner of the studio, almost out of camera shot: Suga and Jungkook.
This part, Seokjin had been dreading. Even though Jungkook’s smiling, even though Suga was what brought them here in the first place. Suga’s concept seems to toe the line between being quiet and being too cool for school and Seokjin’s got a terrible history of getting tongue-tied around guests that were genuinely hardcore--
Suga smiled at him. Shy, a little awkward and a lot earnest.
“Suga-ssi,” Jin found himself saying, sighing. “Suga-ssi, is it okay if we start with you?”
They’re a kaleidoscope of personalities. Jimin plays along as beautifully as Seokjin knew he would. He gets a feel for how Seokjin wants the show to go and laughs at his jokes and protests that the dad jokes are hurting his pride. He’s vocal and empathetic and devastatingly cute, pretty much an MC’s dream come true. The rest follow his lead after a squeaky start of trying to decide whether to politely laugh or groan at his jokes. They become animated very quickly after that: V and J-Hope prove themselves intuitive and entertaining, Rap Monster is up for anything, and even quiet Jungkook turns out to have a whip-sharp sense of humor.
The only problem, then, is Suga.
“What even was that,” he sighs when Seokjin, V and Jimin are giggling at something Seokjin said. “That’s not funny, what are you laughing at?”
Seokjin fights hard not to frown. “It is, though. Burgundy!” he claps a little, smiling. “It’s a good joke.”
Suga stares at him. “Ah, it’s really not,” he complains. There’s a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth and Seokjin can’t tell how much of it is showmanship and how much is real. He’d thought they’d had a connection. He watches that smile sputter out and die and thinks, figures.
“You have a better one then?” he says, even though the production team is making frantic gestures to move on.
Suga shrugs, and Jimin pipes in: “Yoongi-hyung hates fun, don’t mind him.” He winks. “He doesn’t want you to know he stays up every night watching Love Among the Stars.”
“It’s seriously annoying,” Jungkook says, showing his teeth in a wide grin. “The light from his laptop keeps me up when I’m trying to sleep.”
“Ugh, these kids,” says Suga, poking a finger into Jungkook’s cheek. “Don’t you keep me up every other night playing video games, hm? It’s payback, that’s what it is.”
“So the maknae and the eldest room together?” Seokjin asks. They’re cute. Not up to V and Jimin’s level when it comes to casual skinship but they fit together well. “What’s that like?”
“Cramped,” Suga complains, and Seokjin has to hide his laugh inside a cough. Suga sounds grumpy. Why hadn’t he been this grumpy on the other shows? It’s unique, it’s adorable. “He keeps dumping all his stuff on both of our beds. He’s a million feet tall and he keeps bopping me on the head when I’m in the way. He never sleeps.”
V, laughing, reaches over to high-five Jungkook. It turns attention away from Seokjin, who knows he’s smiling way too brightly at Suga, sparkling. Suga, who finishes grumbling and looks at him through his lashes like he’s nervous of what Seokjin thinks of him.
Seokjin thinks he’s wonderful.
“Sounds awful,” Seokjin says. “I’m a very quiet person, too. My old roommates used to complain I turned in too early.”
“Ah, another grandpa,” Jimin sighs, squirming away when Seokjin bats at him with a pillow. “You know, you’re nothing like that guy you played in Moonlit Waltz in real life, hyung. What a letdown. Who let such a nice face get such a dorky personality?”
Seokjin hesitates. In that pause, Suga pipes up unexpectedly: “Isn’t it better this way? Saying what you think instead of pretending to be perfect?”
Rap Mon shakes his head, smiling. “It’s rare for Yoongi-hyung to be this defensive.”
“Fighting, Suga,” Seokjin says. “You have a standing invitation to my place to be quiet and watch all my dramas with me.”
The look he gets makes a prickle of something warmly unfamiliar shiver in his chest.
“Yeah,” Suga says in a low, low voice. “I might just take you up on that.”
Seokjin lets the silence drag on for an embarrassing, exhilarating few seconds.
Fan questions, reads the prompter, and Seokjin hastily lunges for the board just off-camera. His ears feel warm.
“Your fates are in your hands,” he says, a little unevenly. “It’s time for BTS to choose questions and answer them. All of these questions are ones we got through the Eat Jin Twitter last week. V-ssi, would you like to start?”
“Mine is the, um, the username is NariNamojoon,” V says. “They’re asking--wait.”
“Start over,” Jimin deadpans.
V obliges, laughing. “Username NariNamjoon is asking us about us getting sick and telling us to eat well and be healthy. Actually, this is probably about Rap Mon-hyung twisting his wrist at practice.”
“Or Suga-hyung and Jungkookie,” J-Hope reminds him. To Seokjin he says, “There was a virus going around the dorms some time back and Suga-hyung and Jungkook got the worst of it.”
“Sounds to me like you’re all very accident-prone.”
“Rap Mon-hyung is,” Jimin says without batting a lid. “Otherwise it’s because Yoongi-hyung and Jungkookie work too hard.”
Rap Monster hangs his head. Seokjin chuckles at him and says, “It’s important to take care of your health. At the end of the day what we do is less important than than being able to see others benefit from it.”
The maknae twitches. Suga, beside him, says in a rough voice, “We’re doing this so we can be remembered. It’s not something casual that we do for fun. We’re going to go down in history.”
“And how will you know that, Suga-ssi?” Seokjin says. He smiles, even though Suga is scowling, even though there’s a spark behind his eyes that makes Seokjin want to put his hands all over his body. “Think about it like this. There’s a man who plants a thousand trees and dies. People talk about him, people follow his example. But at the end of the day all he did was plant a thousand trees and die and if he planted a thousand and one trees he’d have made a bigger difference. ”
BTS are watching him, slackjawed and blank-faced. “I’m sorry,” he says, flustered. “I’m not explaining it very well.”
Jungkook, who is sharp and sure, gives him a tentative smile. “Do you mean that there’s always more to be done even if we think we’ve done a lot, so we have to stay healthy to accomplish that?”
“Yeah. There’s always one more tree to be planted.”
Suga cocks his head, just a bit. He’s really attractive, with that tilt of his chin and those dark-sharp eyes. He bites his lip and Seokjin takes in a quick, shocked breath. His mouth goes dust dry.
He reaches for his water and pastes a smile on his face. “J-Hope-ssi,” he says. “J-hope-ssi, what question did you get?”
When Seokjin wraps up the show, he feels good about it, considering. BTS’s managers had swooped in like a flock of birds and marched them away but their big smiles and the waves they threw over their shoulders said they’d had a good time. The last of the audience trickles out to mob them as they exit; Seokjin unpins his mike and swaps congratulations with the crew.
Then he goes back to the dressing room to find Jaehwan and Junghwan tapping away at their phones, mouths pinched in concentration. His mood drops.
Jaehwan looks up and gives him a look that says he’s a dumbass. “What do you think, Seokjinnie.”
“It was good,” Junghwan confirms a little faintly. “You know how Jaehwan says every show was your best? Well this time it actually applies. Hashtag BangtanJin is trending in four different countries. And, for some reason, so is hashtag perfectroommate. Hm.”
Seokjin’s heart lurches. “Is it about me and Suga?”
“Nice job keeping his interest,” Jaehwan says with a big thumbs-up. “He looks like he’d rather get shot in the balls than do variety most of the time. Guess the team really came through with a plan for once.” He sees Seokjin’s look of utter incomprehension and begins to frown. “Unless… Jinnie, none of that was scripted?”
“You just flirted with Min Yoongi off the cuff?”
Seokjin shrugs again.
Junghwan snorts at Jaehwan’s bemused expression. “What do you expect, he’s the number one flower boy in Korea right now. You think he can’t ad lib a little seduction?”
“Seduction? What are you guys talking about?”
“You’ll understand one day,” Junghwan dismisses as Jaehwan coos about baby growing up. “We’ll go over the impact after the team does their thing, but it’s looking good. Seriously good. We’re about to leave Baekhyun and Chanyeol in the dust.”
Seokjin hums without listening.
He hadn’t got to talk to Suga after the show but he’d moved towards Jin like he’d wanted to, his eyes holding something quiet and soft in them. It made Seokjin smile and sigh and step forward before the managers guided them both aside. There had been something, Seokjin thinks. He’d felt it and Suga had felt it too.
He hopes they meet again.
Seokjin swears by medical masks and caps and hoodies, though a lot of the celebrities he knows say that they’re a good way to not go unrecognized in public. He gets stopped a few times by fans on his way to the supermarket, sure, but a peace sign selca is usually enough before they part ways. Inside the supermarket it’s even easier to pass by unnoticed; no one actually pays enough attention to notice that the guy buying soap at the hygiene aisle has a familiar face.
Or so Seokjin had thought, before he sees someone in all-black putting a watermelon in his trolley and his mouth startles into life without permission: “Suga!”
All the shoppers around them are middle-aged; they make disapproving faces, but not a fuss. Seokjin inclines his head, apologetically, once and pulls down his mask to smile at Suga.
Suga’s mouth curves. “MC-nim,” he says, the rumble of his voice low and familiar.
“Call me hyung,” says Seokjin.
“We don’t usually shop here,” Yoongi says, handing Seokjin a box of cake mix, smiling when he puts it back. He’s wearing so many layers that Seokjin’s worried he might topple over. “There’s a place closer to the dorms than this but they didn’t have the shit Hobi needed.”
Seokjin says, “Is Hoseok-ah in charge of the kitchen?”
Yoongi thinks about this with a frown that Seokjin wants to rub off with the pads of his thumbs. “Maybe? All of us hate cooking, but his is the most edible. Not up to your level, of course, hyung,” he adds, glancing at Seokjin through his lashes.
Seokjin laughs, delighted. “You do watch my show, then!” When Yoongi’s eyebrows rise, he coughs into his hand. “I mean-- sometimes I make the food on Eat Jin, so--”
“I know,” Yoongi interrupts. “Did you think I was lying when I said I was a fan?”
Seokjin half-combusts, too aware of how close they’re standing, his own reddening cheeks and Yoongi’s slightly upturned face. “Cooking is a good skill to have,” he murmurs, changing the subject.
“Yeah,” Yoongi says, gentle. “Yeah, it is. Do you cook a lot, at home?”
Seokjin thinks back to his empty apartment, the pots and pans he bought with his mom and never got to use. “I’m too busy these days,” he says. “My mother’s the one who taught me to cook, and she told me that half of the joy of cooking came from making something to share with someone else.”
“It’s good to do things for your own sake,” Yoongi hums. The store isn’t that crowded --it’s a weekday, and they’re far from the microwave meal aisles popular at this time of night-- but they walk close together, the material of their jackets brushing together as they nudge their trolleys at a snail’s pace. “I mean. Just because it’s good to be with people and enjoy their company doesn’t mean it’s not okay to be alone for a while.”
Seokjin closes his eyes and tries to imagine it.
“You’re really wise, for someone so young,” he teases.
When he opens his eyes again Yoongi is trying not to look like he’s smiling. “I’m not a lot younger than you.”
“Four months, actually,” Seokjin says. Yoongi gives him a look and he chuckles and protests, “It was in the file your managers sent me. Don’t blame me for doing my job.”
“So you cross-checked your age differences with all of Bangtan?”
“Not all,” Seokjin says, and fuck it, now there was no denying he was flirting, and that it felt good. Good to have Yoongi’s undivided attention, good to see the way he kept looking at Seokjin’s lips when he spoke.
“Just you, Yoongi.”
Yoongi stops in his tracks. His pupils are blown, his face frozen in perfect shock. “Jin-hyung,” he says, clears his throat, and tries again: “Seokjin-hyung. Would you like to go to dinner with me?”
“I’d love to,” Seokjin says immediately. So much for casual. “But, um. Don’t you have to deliver those to the boys?”
Yoongi blink-blinks, like he’s just remembering the existence of his group.
“Yeah,” he says. “Yeah. And I promised to eat with them tonight. Shit, I can cancel and--”
“No,” Seokjin laughs, poking him in the chest. “Don’t cancel on them, I don’t want to worry about them showing up at my door with knives and pitchforks. Go spend time with the family.”
“You should give me your KKT, then,” Yoongi says boldly. “So we can reschedule.”
“You really like dinner, don’t you?” Seokjin laughs as he takes his phone.
He almost doesn’t hear when Yoongi murmurs, “I like something, alright.”
Amber says, “Among us walks the undisputed king of idol stalking. Bow down to his skill.”
“Hm?” Seokjin says. Ninety per cent of his attention is on his phone, where Yoongi had sent him a sleepy-eyed selca-- captioned, working this early means you’re not human, hyung. It was ten in the morning and he was still cocooned in blankets, somehow looking tireder than he’d been when he’d wished Seokjin a good night.
“I said, teach me how to stalk someone so well he falls in love with you,” Amber yells, hanging on Seokjin’s neck like a limpet. “Jin-oppa! Yah, Jin-oppa, does Min Yoongi know you only like him for his sweet sweet lyrics? I miss you--”
“Don’t start,” Seokjin complains. He raises his phone. “Come in for a selca if you’re not doing anything.”
He snaps one before Amber can make a suitably ugly face and sends it, ignoring her hey not cool, Oppa! He gets called away for shooting immediately afterward, and it’s not till his next break that he checks Yoongi’s reply. It’s surprising.
Min Yoongi BTS
Is that Amber Liu?
You know her?
Min Yoongi BTS
Her IG has a lot of location pics from Love Among the Stars
You seem close
That’s a good thing!
It’s good to have friends.
Like you two
Ugh I’ll just stop now
Yeah she’s close
If you’re following her on IG haven’t you seen her pics with her girlfriend?
They’re not trying to keep it secret or anything
Min Yoongi BTS
is that…not ok with you
Min Yoongi BTS
IT’S TOTLLAY OK
LIKE SO MCHU OK
It’s totllay ok huh
That’s a lot of ok
Min Yoongi BTS
you’re doing that clapping thing aren’t you
stop laughing at me
Min Yoongi BTS
so everybody knows about them?
Amber and her girlfriend?
We watch each other’s backs
and mind our business
and everyone else minds theirs
Min Yoongi BTS
Min Yoongi BTS
hyung are you free for lunch btw
“That’s new,” Seokjin blinks at Yoongi once he’s within speaking distance outside the restaurant. They’d decided to meet in a Japanese buffet place Yoongi had frequented as a trainee and it was just a few streets down from where Seokjin had been filming.
Yoongi brought his hand up to his hair and touched one of the blue streaks self-consciously. “Is it weird? It’s for the new single.”
“No, it’s,” Seokjin clears his throat. “Um, it looks good.”
Yoongi nods. “So this place is pretty great,” he says, gesturing Jin inside. “Me and the kids used to come here all the time before we got, you know.”
“Ugh, hyung, don’t be like that,” Yoongi says, and Seokjin pouts, his eyes dancing. “All I’m saying is, uh, I know you said you were okay with this but there seriously will be a bunch of photos on Twitter tomorrow morning.”
“Yoongi,” Seokjin murmurs, thrilled at the way Yoongi shivers a little when he says it. “I’m used to it. It’s fine.”
Yoongi nodded, firmly this time.
“Ah, it’s been a while since I had sashimi,” Seokjin says, once they’ve sat down at their table for two with their plates. “My manager and my agent usually go out with me to eat but they’re not fans of Japanese food.”
“Hyung, selca,” Yoongi says and snaps once quickly, and shows it to Jin. They look cute together. Putting his phone away, he says, “I don’t come here anymore, either. There’s a Korean barbecue place nearer our new dorms and it’s just easier to go there.”
“There’s supposed to be a drama coming up about foodies falling in love at a restaurant,” Seokjin recalls. “I was offered a role. The script sounded interesting, but the plot is, well.” He plops some sushi in his mouth. “I heard Hyunsik got it. He’s in it with Hyuna, I think.”
“I’m not a big fan of drama,” Yoongi admits quietly.
Seokjin raises his eyebrows.
“It’s just. Your face,” Yoongi says, and flushes all the way to the roots of his hair. “I saw Moonlit Waltz playing on one of the common room TVs when I first came to Seoul as a trainee. And I thought, he’s really handsome, and I started watching it on my laptop in my room whenever I was too tired to deal with everything.”
Seokjin is struck, suddenly, by Yoongi young and worn out and alone, watching his drama in the dark. Reaching for the newest episodes and curling up his aching body. It makes him terribly sad. It makes him want to set his chopsticks down and squeeze his hand.
“Oh,” he says. It doesn’t feel like the right thing to say, even though everything with Yoongi so far has felt comfortable, fitting, right. He adds, finally, “That makes sense. Spring Day is such a lonely song.”
“There’s a lot of the bullshit we all went through when we were trainees in the lyrics,” Yoongi says. “None of us were…unharmed by it, I guess. But that’s over now, and we’ve found each other as a group. It’s just nostalgic to think about. Does that make sense?”
“It made sense to me,” Seokjin says, and smiles. “But everyone on the internet knows that.”
Yoongi smiles back. “You know, the kids were so sure you were faking it. We watched that video a thousand times, trying to tell for sure.”
“What about you, Yoongi?”
“I knew,” he says, like it’s the simplest thing in the world. “You looked exactly like I felt when I watched Moonlit Waltz. I knew you got it.”
"Yeah," Seokjin says, voice soft. He gives into the urge and puts his hand, briefly, on top of Yoongi's and confesses, "I get it."
Yoongi's lips part, just a fraction, as he looks at Seokjin like he'd just watched him hang the moon. "Hyung," he murmurs. "If you're not serious-- if you're just flirting for the sake of it--"
"Yoongi-yah," Seokjin says, and something about how his voice breaks makes it embarrassing,embarrassing-
And Yoongi's face breaks into a blinding grin.
“Hashtag perfectrroommates is trending again,” Seokjin says, reading a text from Jaehwan. “What did you do.”
Yoongi blinks open one eye, sprawled on the couch in Seokjin’s apartment since the rest of Bangtan had finally left. “Me? Nothing.”
“This doesn’t look like nothing to me,” Seokjin says, going through Yoongi’s Twitter, his eyebrow twitching when his own face explodes from the screen. He hadn't even known there were so many leaked images from his upcoming movie. “Is BTS having a slow season?”
Yoongi grins at him. “Come on, you’re excited too, hyung. I know you weren’t happy about how Love Among the Stars was going, but this is it. Your platform finally matches your skill.”
Seokjin says, “Stars wasn’t bad,” but it’s weak.
Yoongi shrugs. “It was okay. That’s baseball, hyung. Sometimes you go big, sometimes you wait for an opening. A role that might not win you a Grammy isn’t the end of the world when you know you’re meant for bigger things.”
Seokjin rolls his eyes. “I’m never winning a Grammy anyway.”
He blinks as Yoongi sits up, pushes his feet underneath him and takes Seokjin's face in his hands.
“Don’t say that,” Yoongi says, oddly fierce, and Seokjin’s comeback about how Grammies were for musicians die on his tongue. It always takes his breath away when Yoongi wears his heart on his sleeve like this. “You can do anything you set your mind to, Kim Seokjin, don’t you dare start believing that you’re just a pretty face. You’re smart and brilliant and funny and talented, there’s nothing you can’t do. Hear me, huh?”
Seokjin just stares at him. Yoongi has his large warm hands cupping his face, glowering down at him with a look of pure, bleeding honesty and it feels like his whole life is shifting and adjusting, making space for Yoongi to nestle against his heart.
Seokjin was so, so in love with him.
“I’m your hyung,” he says, and brings Yoongi’s face down for a kiss. Yoongi presses back urgently, his fingers stroking along Seokjin’s cheekbones, moving forward till he’s straddling Seokjin’s thighs.
“You’re four months older,” Yoongi corrects, pulling away to smile at him with intent. “And like you said, I’m wise for my age.”
“What would I have done without you, Yoongi-yah,” Seokjin says. He’s only half-kidding.
“Waited,” Yoongi says. He’s smirking like he thinks he’s so slick, and Seokjin can’t help smiling back, caught up in the moment. “I’d have found you somehow.”