Jeongguk rose to fame after some random videos of him spastically dancing on YouTube caught a lot of attention (filmed by his friends most likely because Jeongguk literally couldn’t be bothered to upload things like that when he could just as easily be combing through Twitch to find the top Widowmaker streamers online, but whatever). He actually had incredible natural dance skills and before long, he was coerced to joining a friend at an anonymous audition. For the first few rounds he was a saucer-eyed shy baby who had literally no idea what he had gotten himself into, but he noticed most of the judges appeared honest and compassionate enough to the people who went before him. He mustered up all his bravado, and thus the judges watched him sing his heart out to My Heart Will Go On, then immediately after blast through impromptu choreography to Bang Bang Bang that was actually somehow godly. Needless to say everyone was a bit scared of this strange, boisterous child, but flash forward two years after a bit of training and refining and here he is! Ready to debut, the solo idol Jeon Jeongguk is born again as ‘Seagull’ (his management team spent days trying to persuade him to consider a different stage name, but Jeongguk was a man on a mission to prove seagulls could be badass, too).
Cut forward another two years and Seagull has made a great name for himself. His album sales raised impressively with time and his choreography was always a crowd pleaser - he even had his first taste of collaboration with a few other big names. All in all he was on the path to success, and the public didn’t seem to mind his more quirky sides. Behind closed doors, however, it’s a bit more melancholic. Jeongguk’s company had ensured his health and happiness would be priority numero uno, but as time went on and sales became more important, that didn’t prove to be the case. His stylist team constantly berated him for his immature behavior backstage at award shows and music banks, he was belittled and told to act like a robot since he clearly couldn’t act like a normal human. His managers would scold him for staying up too late playing games online with friends from back home whom he hadn’t seen in literal years. Even his personal manager constantly shot him the signature ‘disappointed glare’ every time he even snorted too ugly or cracked a hilarious expression as a response to a question in a serious interview. It seemed no one on his team wanted him to ever just cut loose and be himself. As the months went on like this, Jeongguk felt himself withering into a dull shell of an idol.
Enter Park Jimin. His backstory is a complex blur of underground clubs, shady-at-best modeling networks, and finally beautician school once he realized he needed solidified experience in at least one particular field to start making a name for himself. Don’t get him wrong, Jimin would basically always rather himself be the one in the spotlight being pampered and preened - unfortunately, he’s got bills to pay and he’s trying to set up a stable living before he nosedives back into the rickety world of modeling. He found that he loved learning all the best makeup tricks and beauty hacks all through secondary school, and he knows how to execute them on himself perfectly at this point. Trouble his, he likes the challenge of applying this same level of beauty to a third party victim. Thus, he finds himself at the top of his class at graduation with all of his teachers and peers commending him in all fields: makeup, nails, hair, skincare, facial treatments, hair removal - you name it and Jimin can do it on anyone.
His BIGGEST challenge, however, comes in the form of a fantastic vocational opportunity. A well-known music company offers him a senior stylist position even despite his lack of professional experience beyond school. Needless to say the offer shocks him, and the clients he’d be tending to are obviously kept anonymous over the email. Fueled by his passion for beauty and his crippling bank account from his last Sephora haul, Jimin accepts and is being trained by the company’s other stylists and managers the following week. He learns the ins and outs of the big, glamorous events he’s always dreamt of attending. He memorizes the transportation schedules and the necessary equipment he’d need to have glued to him at all times. He demonstrates his talent on a few trainees and dazzles the entire team with how quick and effortless his makeovers happen, and he positively glows under all the praise for his skill. The only thing he has yet to learn in these two weeks of orientation is who he’ll actually be assigned to - a detail the company has kept intentionally hush on.
Finally the end of the month rolls by and Jimin’s supervisor informs him that his idol will be attending a very small but important award show. His other stylists will not be joining him (due to “scheduling conflicts” that Jimin absolutely does not buy) and he will be the only stylist assisting the idol for the evening - this includes pre-show and mid-show costume changes. Jimin packs his bags from the company building with everything under the sun, since he’s been given free rein over the concept of this idol for the red carpet. He waits dutifully in the company dressing room until 3 minutes before their destined meet-up time, his young idol walks in. Bare-faced and puffy and visibly defeated, Jeongguk trudges his way into the room and wipes at his eyes pitifully. His hair is flat and notably fried from years of heat damage, his skin looks lackluster at best from visible exhaustion, and his eyes have almost a matte glaze over them as he wearily scans the room for his “new up-and-coming stylist that would finally whip him into shape”. His three previous senior stylists had all quit or walked out from frustration at Jeongguk himself. They were all at least 12 years older than him and empathized with him on next to nothing - just demanded that he adhere to their rigid hair- and skincare regimens and put on his best idol smile whenever a camera was around. He had abandoned hope for any and all future stylists to care for him anymore than his previous associates had.
Jimin gets the surprise of his life as he looks the young boy over. He knows Jeongguk - of course he does, he doesn’t live under a rock - and he knows how gorgeous the boy is when he’s all powdered and posh. The sad excuse for an idol that stands before him, blinking at him owlishly and almost timidly, is nothing like the mighty Seagull he’s seen before.
“Boy howdy, do I have my work cut out for me.”
Jeongguk visibly stiffens when Jimin speaks and when he’s done appraising the young stylist. He’s actually quite astonished at how breathtaking the man is, and how his age seems to be significantly younger than the company standard. Regardless, he keeps a guard up, “Excuse me? Does that mean you’re doing my makeup?”
Jimin can’t help but cover his mouth with a dainty hand and laugh softly at the pure confusion written on the others face. “No, darling, it means I’m redoing your entire existence. Makeup is the least of your concerns.”
Even though the words appear abrasive, Jeongguk watches the fire light in Jimin’s eyes as he appraises the idol like a piece of meat. He can tell the man means business and he understands that he looks like a literal piece of shit these last few weeks, so he silently lets the stylist circle him like a predator and pick out his blemishes and flaws. He watches Jimin tally them up in his head and squint at the parts that need extra finesse. Jeongguk is aware that he is a trophy meant to be polished until he shines again, at least long enough to last each event. He knows Jimin has a job to do and that is that.
After a few more seconds of studying, Jimin tuts softly and motions Jeongguk closer to him. His eyes narrow a fraction as he really takes in the faded acne scars and weary lines around the boys face. He lingers on the still-resigned look in Jeongguk’s eyes, and he can’t help but dwell on how truly young and tired the boy looks. Maybe he wasn’t meant for so much limelight.
The intense eye contact has Jeongguk itching to jump and run as far and fast as he can, but years of conditioning numb his response and he lets Jimin finish. After what seems like an unprofessional amount of staring, Jimin’s features soften to an unthreatening smirk. He reaches a (small, wow so small!) hand out to Jeongguk’s chin and angles his face down so they’re completely parallel to one another. Jeongguk finally appreciates the gravity of Jimin’s height and stature: only a few inches shorter than him but notably toned in his skin-tight dark T-shirt. His chubby, stout fingers smooth up from his chin to the skin of his left cheek, and Jimin hums faintly as his eyes track the motion.
“You’re actually not hideous, you know. You don’t need that much work, but I’m going to make a star out of you yet, pretty bird. I’m Jimin and it’s a pleasure to work with you.” As he finishes his introduction, his hand drops from Jeongguk’s face and instead reaches out to grab and shake his right hand before Jeongguk’s brain has actually caught up with the social custom to reciprocate. Their hands stay locked for a beat longer as Jimin smiles demurely up to him and then gestures for him to take a seat before one of the large lit mirrors.
As he sits obediently and sees Jimin in his periphery gathering a handful of tools, he finally registers the sincerity in the man’s voice as he complimented him. He made sharp mental notes to remember the moment and the way Jimin’s eyes had curved and squinted so beautifully. He felt a tiny warm ball of goo floating around in his torso and he let himself chuckle at the strangeness of it all. Jimin caught the noise and stalked over in front of the quiet boy, quirking a brow in question to the sudden laugh. Jeongguk immediately stifled the noise and pursed his mouth, eyes shooting to the floor out of habit when he was scolded. Jimin, of course, catches the reaction and finds himself even more intrigued by this enigma of an idol before him.
He says nothing, however, and proceeds to doll Jeongguk up to his own personal standard. Careful, gentle application of the finest lotions, the softest shades of eyeshadow, the creamiest lip balms, even going so far as to trim and buff the boy’s nails while a layer on his face dries. Through it all, no words are exchanged, but Jimin had turned on his very own classical music playlist in the background to calm his mind through the work. Jeongguk initially found the songs dark and out-of-place, but as the minutes ticked by he too allowed the din of his brain to shush and just appreciated the lull of the violins and the gentle tips of Jimin’s fingers as the shifted his face every which way. His tiny hands hold Jeongguk’s own gangly fingers so carefully as he worked on the nails, and he couldn’t help but follow the work with his eyes. Usually he’d be ass deep in some YouTube montage with his earbuds firmly tuning out the rest of the world by now, but the thought of whipping his phone out hadn’t even crossed his mind. He acknowledged the peace of the room and let his mood harmonize with it, trying to prepare himself for the night to come.
Lastly, Jimin began on his hair. He stood behind Jeongguk and appraised the mop through the mirror, frowning slightly at the feel of it in his hands as he fluffed and mussed it. Jeongguk’s giant eyes locked onto his own, clearly catching the displeasure on his face, and his skittish nature resurfaced. He looked up pleadingly at the man and pouted ever-so-slightly, “I know, I should do the hair masks more. I swear I never straighten it myself outside of work - the last time I tried, I somehow managed to burn my cheek and that was even worse!”
Jimin blinked curiously at the outburst, shocked at how many words he’d spoken so quickly to shatter their peaceful atmosphere. He caught on to the frantic apologetic tone, and the resignation written all over his face as he spoke.
“...Do you think I’m going to yell at you for this?”
Jeongguk had the audacity to blush slightly at the way Jimin spoke, like questioning a moron. He stayed silent.
Jimin sighed, and began pumping dollops of product into his hand before skillfully and carefully working it through the boy’s hair in chunks. “I highly doubt you’re the one begging to get these locks curled and straightened every other day. Not to mention the bleach, dye, mousse.. every other chemical under the sun. An industry standard, I’m afraid, and a hazard of the job.” His short fingers pressed into his scalp in a soothing rhythm, for so long that Jeongguk began to wonder if there was even any product left to be massaged in or if he was just doing this idly as he spoke. “I’m no stranger to dead hair. I’ll bring a jar of my Argan oil mask next time, you can come early if you want me to set it for you, or I can show you how to do it at home. It smells like literal heaven, too, so I think you should enjoy it.” As he finished speaking, he trailed his fingers through the long brown locks one last time before pulling away to plug in a straightener and fish out his bottle of heat protectant. Jeongguk’s mouth hung open ever so slightly at the softness of it all. He felt phantom baby fingers dragging down his scalp and to his temples long after Jimin started straightening out pieces of his hair.
“Thank you, Jimin-ssi. I promise I’ll do the mask.”
Jimin grinned and kept his eyes on the hair in his hands, “You can call me hyung, baby bird. I’ll take care of you from now on.”
Jeongguk looked like a full-course meal at the red carpet, and everyone picked up on the twinkle in his eyes that had been missing since his debut days.
Flash forward months ahead, and Jimin and Jeongguk are nigh inseparable. Literally. Because Jimin quickly realizes that the boy is a walking catastrophe and will injure himself in the blink of an eye. It’s like what they say about babies and toddlers, that they’re literally always just looking for ways to accidentally kill themselves. The same can definitely be said for the idol boy. He takes to showing off for Jimin whenever and wherever he can, whether it be by jumping up on precarious ledges and doing (admittedly impressive) handstands and back folds, or by proving that he can stuff 27 medium-sized marshmallows in his cheeks before he chokes, or even by impersonating an operatic singer that comes on their classical music shuffle one day and parading around the dressing room belting out a vibrato that could shatter glass (before he inevitably bonks his head on an open cabinet door and almost blacks out, still grinning from ear to ear at his own antics). Jimin takes it all in stride and the company is so thankful for it. He tuts at the boy and reprimands him when he literally almost kills himself, but beyond that he allows the shenanigans - even maybe welcomes them. The boy is still an enigma (wrapped in a very handsome package) but he has successfully broken up the monotony of Jimin’s dull life and shown him how sincere and bright a human can be even when drowning in the glitz and glitter of it all. Jeongguk’s next handful of public appearances make all the headlines: his hair looking shinier than ever, his skin glowing like a fairy, his makeup matching his wardrobe to a T. All the media coverage has Jimin so damn smug he barely knows what to do with himself.
His goal when breaking into idol beautician territory was, initially, to feed upon the success of making some nameless idol who they were. For crafting them and molding them into this sculpture, a true representation of Jimin’s mastery. But with Jeongguk, Jimin knows that he can’t take credit for making any piece of him. He didn’t create the gigantic, dazzling smile the boy charms the world with. He didn’t hand-craft the gleam in those giant roaming eyes as they scan the paparazzi. He didn’t sculpt the heavenly cheekbones or physique the boy was blessed with. But, he does know that he can take credit for putting it all out there. He’s no fool: he watched back hundreds of Jeongguk’s previous appearances. He studied the boy’s past looks and memorized his style choices. During it all he paid close attention to the apparent sadness in Jeongguk’s eyes, in his overall demeanor, as his career progressed. Compare it to the boy now and they’re like night and day.
Jeongguk no longer ducks his head in anticipation of a slap to the skull, he no longer averts his gaze after a particularly boisterous laugh, he doesn’t shy away from answering interview questions honestly and freakishly. He talks rampantly about his love of science fiction movies and the terrible CGI in them, but also about how he still has nightmares that the shitty 80’s monsters are going to come for him in the dead of night. He raves to fellow idols about his recent high score on a gaming cabinet at a local arcade to his apartment, and chuckles warmly at their concerns that he shouldn’t go out in public so freely. He talks Jimin’s ear off every single day about his growing list of Guinness records that he’s already broken, and about how one day soon he’ll send the document in for official judging so it gets considered for next year’s book.
Jimin watched Jeongguk scrape his arms to hell landing from a daring stunt he insisted on doing. He teases the boy demurely while he tends to the wounds, and he is sure to ruffle his (delicious smelling) hair every time after they’re done. He lets Jeongguk throw him up in the air like a rag doll in glee after a daesang win, and allows himself the smug joy of being the center of this muscle pig’s attention in the grand moment. He tends to Jeongguk’s skin softly and slowly while the boy snoozes in the chair backstage, hums under his breath a Vivaldi melody since their speaker is back at the company headquarters and he knows Jeongguk loves having the music to calm him before he performs, even if it’s in his dreams. He gets unnecessarily (and unprofessionally) close to the boy’s face while he dabs on finishing touches of shadow and concealer, meeting his intense owl stare down without backing down. He laughs out loud when Jeongguk finally breaks their eye contact in favor of sneezing so hard he shakes the table next to them. He grows so accustomed to the boy’s free spirited ways that he finds himself dreaming of goofy laughs and crinkled eyes every single night.
One year later and Jeongguk’s busy filming in the intense summer heat for a new vacation commercial. The theme fits the smoldering weather, and Jeongguk is visibly pouty at it all. He laments to Jimin how, one summer, it was so hot that he laid out in their backyard and let ice cubes melt on his chest just because he could. Jimin stores the mental image (and the notion that Jeongguk could be potentially into some interesting temperature play kinks..) away for further study. “I’m serious, hyung, you would have melted into a cute little puddle of cheeks from how hot it was that year.”
“You know I was probably alive and also in the same area of the country as you that very same year, right dumby?”
Jeongguk is rushed away to film clipped segments of him “enjoying” the summer amenities while Jimin carefully reorganizes his makeup kit.
A junior stylist the company borrowed to assist in the commercial shoot walks up to Jimin and smiles at him in good nature, greeting him brightly, “Jimin-ssi, it’s such an honor to work with you! I had heard so much about the man who single-handedly turned the infamous Seagull into a proper peacock.” The man laughed at his own words and Jimin furrowed his brow slightly, continuing to stare down at his brushes. “I don’t know how you did it, but you really turned that weird kid around.” He looks over his shoulder to Jeongguk a couple yards away, sitting on a railing and being photographed eating a popsicle. Jimin’s eyes harden a fraction. “I mean it, so impressive! He’s like a new person. An actual idol, finally.”
Jimin slams the lid of his case shut and finally turns around to appraise the man. Boring, ugly hair, hideous age lines and a crumpled dress shirt.
“Oh, how rude of me! I never even introduced myself. I’m Sungw-“ Jimin places one dainty finger over the mans lips to quiet him before he finishes. The man shoots him a perplexed look, but doesn’t make to remove the finger.
“Shh, shh, stupid man. I do not care to hear your name. In fact, I don’t care to hear any more words come from your stupid mouth.” The man’s eyes widen in shock, but he stands there and takes it like an awestruck deer.
Jimin finally backs his finger away and instead points it towards Jeongguk, still blissfully ignorant to the encounter but now leaning back haphazardly on the railing in a balancing act that has his photographer sweating bullets.
“That boy over there is the only human on this planet worth my time, and you are not him. You will never be him. You will never speak to him, you will never be in his plane of existence because you are a lousy little speck drifting by in this universe. I do not have time for specks, and neither does he. Good day, stupid man.”
Jimin turns his body sharply and flips his hair, strutting towards Jeongguk and leaving the stylist behind him in an existential crisis. Jimin hears the photographer muttering nervously to Jeongguk as he approaches.
“Ah, I just don’t know if that’s safe, Jeongguk-ssi..”
Jimin stands next to the boy still seated carelessly on the railing, craning his head down to look at the idol as he cheekily meets the stylist’s questioning gaze.
Quirking one eyebrow, Jimin finally cups one of his hands and holds it under Jeongguk’s sealed lips, “Spit it out, Gukkie, let the nice man do his job so we can get out of here.” Jeongguk pouts minutely but peers up at Jimin like he holds all the stars in the night sky. His eyes are huge and beautiful, full of his shining personality.
Jeongguk dutifully snakes his tongue to the back of his mouth and opens up to produce a globbed up plastic wrapper perched on the edge of his tongue. Jimin grabs it without hesitation and doesn’t so much as scrunch his nose at the feel of the crumpled plastic coated in saliva.
“Good boy. Now finish taking your pretty pictures so I can give you your neck massage.”
Jimin turns around and starts his way towards his work bench when he hears the bright reply, picturing the boy’s 1000-watt smile clear as day, “Yes, hyung! Ya boy’s on it!”
Jimin smiles warmly to himself. He would give that boy the world on a silver platter, even if it meant remaining in the shadows of his success for the rest of his life. Just so long as he kept looking at Jimin like he was his entire world. (Jeongguk would, in fact, literally always look at him that way).