“I was living a lie concealed deep within myself.”
Herman Hesse, Demian
June 2016 - Dongdaemun
They came home to South Korea from Scandinavia, bounced immediately to Osaka and Tokyo, and then whisked off to France for KCON. They scarcely had time to brush their teeth much less hold group meetings before returning home again, and besides, Yoongi had begun to reconsider his thoughts on the matter altogether. He's always been a Live-and-Let-Live kind of guy, and if Namjoon or Jimin and Jungkook want to cling to their secrets, then it's no business of his or anyone else.
Oh, but that is until today...
Yoongi perches left of center stage at the fansign table, Taehyung on one side, Seokjin on the other. Taehyung's immersed in a conversation with a fan about anime, and Seokjin's doing his best to grin through his neck injury pain. Namjoon redirects most of Seokjin's fan interaction to himself while Hoseok, at the far end of the table, gallops around on a wall-eyed stick-pony someone gave him as a gift.
Which leaves Jimin and Jungkook largely unsupervised at the table's center, and they seem incapable of keeping their hands to themselves.
Not just their hands. When Yoongi leans back to catch Namjoon's eye, he sees that Jimin's hooked one of his legs over Jungkook's. He's practically sitting in the maknae's lap, and they lean so close that Jungkook's hair is tickling the side of Jimin's neck. This has gone on long enough that a gaggle of fans has congregated in a tight little knot, patiently waiting for their turn.
Neither Namjoon nor Seokjin looks up from the ring of fans in front of them. But Hoseok meets Yoongi's gaze. Distressed, he mouths, “What are they doing?”
“Fuck if I know,” Yoongi mutters. He feels a thump on his elbow and turns to peer down into the beaming face of the fourteen-year-old anime fan who had been, until that moment, talking with Taehyung.
Yoongi chats briefly with her, signs her photo card, and sends her to Seokjin. Then he excuses himself to meet Hoseok behind the table. As they inch their way along the narrow space behind their seats, Jimin and Jungkook engage in what might be thumb wrestling, but looks suspiciously like holding hands.
Hoseok whispers to Yoongi, “The staff have tried getting their attention, but—”
“—Yeah, they're oblivious,” Yoongi says tightly. “Might as well be in an empty room.”
“We have to do something,” Hoseok says.
“Yeah, I get that,” Yoongi says, then adds in a whisper. “But we can't out them.”
“No, but they can out themselves,” Hoseok mutters. “They're on the verge of doing it right here in front of everyone.”
Jungkook mutters something into Jimin's ear. Jimin convulses with laughter, his face blushing to a delicate shade of cherry blossom pink. Neither boy seems to even notice that someone's hovering mere centimeters behind their backs.
Yoongi taps Jimin twice on the shoulder. Jimin blinks up, owl-eyed and smiling, to find Yoongi and Hoseok scowling down at them.
“Hi, hyungs,” Jimin chirps.
Hoseok's smile never falters. “There are some people here who have waited a long, long time to see you,” he grinds out through his teeth. “Perhaps you should pay attention to them?”
Jungkook clears his throat. He and Jimin part, slowly, reluctantly, and Jungkook shifts toward their fans.
Jimin has the decency to at least look sheepish as he breathes out his reply. “Sorry,” he murmurs. “We were just talking.”
Namjoon cranes his head in Yoongi's direction. “Everything okay?” he asks.
Yoongi steps between him and Seokjin, bending to whisper into Namjoon's ear. “I think it's time we had our little meeting,” he says.
Namjoon scrubs the back of his neck. “Today?”
“If you don't mind.”
Emotions flicker across Namjoon's face. Yoongi understands his hesitation; Namjoon has secrets, too. But they needn't figure into the equation since Namjoon's secrets aren't nearly dry humping in the middle of a fansign event full of teenage girls.
“All right,” Namjoon agrees. “We'll meet upstairs before security clears us out of the building. Okay?”
“Fair enough,” Yoongi says.
But as he steps around Namjoon, he finds that Seokjin has moved into Yoongi's seat. Taehyung massages Seokjin's neck, an act that Seokjin enjoys with an almost feline expression of bliss upon his face.
Yoongi takes Seokjin's vacated seat and presses his fingers to his temples. He wonders when he became the person in charge of couples policing and resolves to resign the position the moment this evening's meeting adjourns.
“We can't go anywhere these days,” Yoongi exhales. It's not so much a complaint as an observation of fact. “Remember when we could all go out for a meal or a coffee whenever we wanted?” He stands at the window, peering down into Dongdaemun Design Plaza at the crowd of fans that refuses to disperse. “I mean, we were chased by sasaengs in Sweden of all places.”
When no one responds, he angles away from the sweeping view to find that he's still addressing an empty room. Empty except for Seokjin, who dozes on a plush green sofa pushed against the far wall.
Yoongi sighs. He checks his phone. If they're going to get this meeting done, they have roughly twenty minutes before the cars arrive to take them their next destination.
But oh no, they all had to have coffee and pastries from the catering carts downstairs. Everyone except for Seokjin, who has spent the afternoon bumbling around in a painkiller haze like an expensively-dressed zombie.
The others – minus Jimin and Jungkook, who are, arguably, the reason for the meeting in the first place, and without whom, the meeting cannot start – trample in three and a half minutes later, Namjoon in the lead with two cardboard carriers filled with iced Americanos.
Yoongi looks to Hoseok, arms splayed in a gesture that conveys, What the fuck?
Hoseok glances around. “They were right behind us,” he says. Taehyung joins him in the corridor to search for their missing members while Namjoon uses his booted heel to wrangle a coffee table over to the sofa where Seokjin is slowly fluttering awake.
Namjoon passes a coffee to Seokjin. “You all right?” he asks. Seokjin shrugs and immediately regrets it.
Another three minutes lapse before Hoseok and the maknaes bustle into the room flanking Jimin, who cradles a box the size of a suitcase filled with every kind of pastry known to man. They talk excitedly over each other, oblivious to their time constraints, when Namjoon finally calls them all to order.
“All right, everyone,” he says. “We've got about thirteen minutes before the cars arrive—”
“—They're already arriving, hyung,” Jungkook interrupts. He's scrolling through messages with one hand while digging through the pastry box with the other.
“So let's hurry,” Yoongi says, waving them all onto the sofa. Jimin slides the box onto the low table with a flourish and then beams as the others descend upon it.
“I did good, didn't I?” Jimin says proudly.
“Very good, Jimin,” Hoseok agrees, peeling a bear claw from the pile. “This is very good.”
Yoongi sucks air over his teeth, and everyone pivots slightly in his direction. He has to admit he kinda likes that, so he presses his advantage, cutting straight to the topic at hand. “All right, so Jimin and Jungkook have something they would like to tell the group. About each other.”
Jimin gleams at him, all round-cheeked chastity. “No we don't, hyung,” he says. And he laughs. He actually laughs. Then he knuckles Jungkook's knee, and Jungkook pops to attention, like he's been caught searching for porn on his phone.
“Um, yeah,” he nods. “We don't have anything.”
Thank God for Hoseok, who gives them a narrow glare of scrutiny. “You told us in Finland that you—”
Jimin hisses, dismissively. “That was,” he shrugs. “I was just... being... y'know, silly.”
Yoongi puts his hands on top of his head. “Silly?” he asks. “You were being silly?"
Jimin brushes a hand through his bangs. Beside him, Jungkook proceeds to strip his nails to the quick with his teeth.
Taehyung leans over to punch Jungkook's thigh. Around a bite of chocolate croissant, he says, “Can you believe they thought you two have—?”
Jungkook meets Taehyung's eye, and Yoongi witnesses as the realization unfolds between them like a poorly-constructed origami crane. Jungkook, who sucks at lying, gives Taehyung a weak grin and Taehyung, who hides nothing, responds with an expression that's half-wounded and half-disbelieving. Taehyung, his mouth agape, twists toward Jimin, who shuts him down with a minuscule shake of his head.
Which tells Yoongi two things: One, Jimin and Jungkook are lying. And two, they haven't told Taehyung.
Namjoon quickly intervenes. “Look, guys, this is a safe space. If you have something you want to tell, you can go ahead—”
“—Yes,” Yoongi says, squinting pointedly at Namjoon. “If any of us has anything to share, now is a good a time to do that.”
“Fine, I'll go,” Namjoon says. He sets his coffee aside and dries his palms on his knees. “I was dating someone. Her name is Amica. She's an International Business student at Hongik.” Only Hoseok has the chance to offer congratulations before Namjoon cuts him off. “But I ended it,” Namjoon says. “I can't focus on anything outside of us right now, and it wasn't fair to her. So... I ended it.”
“Fuck, man,” Yoongi says. “I'm sorry.”
Namjoon nibbles his thumb. “Yeah,” he sighs. “Thanks.”
They're quiet a moment as they each process this news. Neither Jimin nor Taehyung will meet anyone's gaze, and Seokjin still looks about as dazed an unearthed mole. Hoseok gives Yoongi a look that says, Well, you tried.
Which makes Yoongi question his reasoning behind trying in the first place. He arrives at the conclusion that it doesn't matter whether or not Jungkook and Jimin are banging behind the scenes (which they totally are; he and Hoseok did not imagine Jimin's confession in Finland). What matters is that they behave themselves in front of cameras and fans...
Jungkook disrupts this line of thought by announcing that their cars have arrived and security is on their way up to collect them.
Yoongi rasps out a sigh like a deflating balloon. “Are you kidding me right now?” he asks.
Jungkook tilts his phone to show the notification, as a means of answering Yoongi's question.
Namjoon seems relieved. “Next is our Festa Photo Shoot, everyone,” he says, getting to his feet. “Time to celebrate our third year together.”
“Wow, three years,” Hoseok crows, clearly eager to leap onto the cheerful train.
But this business with Jimin isn't over. Yoongi knows it, as does Namjoon, and, judging by the troubled set to Jimin's brow, he knows it, too. They're too busy to deal with it right now, but Yoongi guesses they're probably too busy to do anything else. So the discussion will have to wait until the next time they can carve ten whole minutes to themselves.