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things we turn away from

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The doorbell rings, announcing to Jimin what he's been looking forward to all day. He mutes the tv and hops up to check the video door monitor and sure enough, shifting around in front of the door is his tall massage therapist.

“Hi Namjoon, come on up,” he greets, pressing the button to unlock the door. He smiles, watching a moment as Namjoon jerks uncertainly between responding to the speaker and pushing through the door that's clicked open.

He sits back against the sleek leather sofa that overlooks the city spread out below his top floor suite. It was a comfy couch, despite the minimal design. Everything was comfy in his suite, he had the money to make everything just right, not having to sacrifice comfort for design. And yet, he never quite felt comforted.

One month into his weekly massages with Namjoon he had realized a big, awakening realization. Sure he was a highly skilled massage therapist, and sure his muscles appreciated it, but that wasn't why he looked forward to it so much, or why he slept so well the night after. It was touch, careful, tender, attentive touch. All over his body, steady and gentle and intense in turns until he has completely let go.

He had his massage therapist that followed him from concert to dance practice to concert again, but that wasn't the same. That was practical, medicinal, blunt, rushed elbows in his shoulder backstage or in between hair and makeup.

The door chimes and Jimin leaps up from the couch to answer it.

“Hi there!” he chirps, and chooses not to wonder why he drops his controlled exterior around Namjoon.

Namjoon ducks his head as he says hi, somehow nearly tripping over the small bag he's holding when he walks inside.

At first, he'd assumed Namjoon was shy and awkward because Jimin is famous, just like everyone else. But after two months, he's started to think it's just his personality.

Jimin leads them back to the usual extra room, warmly lit with recessed lights and muted floor lamps. It was supposed to be a meditation room, not that he ever does any meditation. He does, occasionally on nights when he feels ready to quit it all, come in here and lay on the massive fluffy rug in the center of the floor and stare at the gentle reflection from the stone fountain dappling across the ceiling.

One entire wall is a ceiling high living bamboo display, the massive cushions in the corner are soft. It's a nice room but it never quite seems to serve its purpose until Namjoon is in here and the massage table is pulled from the closet.

Jimin always ends up rambling about the most random little things while Namjoon sets up the massage table, securing the head rest and clips underneath and spreading the sheets and towels smoothly over top. Namjoon always smiles, a serene, real smile that reaches his eyes and makes his dimples pop. Never says much in response though, just lets Jimin ramble. Being professional, Jimin guesses.

“Alright, all set,” Namjoon announces, checking the head rest again. “We'll start face down today. I'll step out, go ahead and undress to your comfort level, fully undressed is most effective since we'll be doing hip work, but as always it's your choice.”

Jimin nods and begins unbuttoning his shirt already. He knows this speech well, always prefers complete nudity, nothing in the way of Namjoon's hands and his skin.

He climbs up on the massage table and wiggles under the sheets, face smushed into the ring of the head rest. A soft knock at the door and he calls out “I'm ready!”

He loves this part. Face buried in the rest, he only can see a half-foot strip of hardwood floor beneath him. The world becomes reduced to receiving sounds and touch.

Soft shuffle of Namjoon to the stereo before soft classical guitar filters through the room, a zipper squeaks as Namjoon reaches into his bag for massage oil. There's the hyper-aware anticipation as for a moment, there is no sound, no touch, only wondering wildly what Namjoon does in that moment.

And then, the gentlest weight of his hand on Jimin's shoulder through the sheets as he walks around the massage table. It's his favorite part of the whole thing, arguably. A small gesture, don't be startled, I'm here, I'm still here.

He senses Namjoon walking to his right side and the sheet is pulled down neatly to just below his waist. “As always, if the pressure is too much or anything is uncomfortable, let me know.”

Jimin nods, basking in the soft voice and big hands just dragging up and down his back to warm up.

He hears the little pump of oil and small slick sound of Namjoon warming it in his hands and takes a deep breath.

Slippery and warm, Namjoon's big hands glide up his back in earnest now, digging into his overworked muscles in big, wide strokes.

Jimin heaves a huge sigh of contentment as thumbs dig into the spots between his shoulder blades that never seem to let go.

“Pressure okay?” Namjoon asks, kneading at his shoulders, laughing softly at Jimin's happy hum in response.

It's so nice, letting his mind go like this. Different from the way it wanders as he lay in bed at night, running from worry to plans to anxiety about plans. Now, the work of Namjoon's hands scoops his focus out of his head and holds it gently in his palms, kneading and rolling and rocking his elbow gently into tense muscles.

His hands are always incredibly warm, gentle coals against his skin. He's so careful with draping the sheets, folding it down or over just enough to expose only the bit of skin he needs to massage, tucking it firmly around him.

He'd told him their first session, “I want you to feel safe with me, secure at all times,” after Jimin had asked why he goes through all the trouble with the sheets.

It works, he does feel safe and secure. It also produced another feeling that took him a few weeks to realize; it made him feel precious. Each bit of him carefully revealed to the cooler room air, other parts carefully tucked in securely as if he was too much to be shown all at once.

Silly, considering he was adored by thousands and thousands of fans, but the feeling just wasn't the same.

“I'm gonna uncover this whole left side, if that's okay,” Namjoon says softly, waiting for the nod from Jimin. He lifts the sheet and folds it over straight down along the line of his spine, left side exposed from his shoulder down to his toes.

“I'm gonna work on these glutes and around the side here, where they insert into the front of your hip,” he brushes his fingers firmly along the areas he's speaking of.

“You're always pretty tight in here so I'm gonna go in pretty heavy. But if it's too much, tell me.”

Jimin nods again and just wishes he'd get on with it.

At first it feels good, Namjoon's elbow digging gently into his ass cheek. And then, just as promised, the intensity jumps way up. Jimin reminds himself to breathe and wonders what it means that he thinks the pain feels amazing.

“You good?” Namjoon asks, moving to grind the flat of his forearm down the back of Jimin's thigh.

“Yea- aahh!” he growls and laughs. “Wow right there- all there is-”

“Is it pain or a burning feeling?” Namjoon asks, softer fingers massaging the flesh of his ass as he waits for an answer.

“Burning, yeah.”

“Good,” Namjoon answers, and does it again, chuckling as Jimin yells and whoops and laughs at himself.

“Good fascia release,” Namjoon grins, soothing thumbs back up his thigh in little circles.

And then the thumbs are jammed up against the bone at the base of his ass, making Jimin struggle not to writhe around.

“I think you have an imbalance in the little muscles that attach at this bone and wrap around to the front. That can cause pain and tightness up here, too,” Namjoon explains, caressing Jimin's middle back, so gentle in contrast to what the other hand is doing.

Jimin tries to ignore how incredibly close Namjoon's fingers come to sinking into the crevice of his ass, or how Namjoon's thumb might feel if it was sinking into him a few inches over.

Namjoon moves down to knead at his tight calves and feet before neatly folding the sheets longways to expose and repeat the whole process on the other side.

By the time Namjoon asks him to flip face up, Jimin is practically existing in another dimension. Eyes adjusting to the light of the room, he catches Namjoon's eyes and gives him a contented little kitten smile.

He smiles back and tucks the sheets up beneath Jimin's chin, smoothing the sheets firmly against his chest and stomach.

“This is my favorite part,” Jimin hums when Namjoon holds Jimin's head in his hands, massaging at the back of his neck and stretching it side to side. He gently places his head to the side, massaging up the side of his neck in quick little motions before swirling his thumbs against his ever-clenched jaw.

“Wait, this is my favorite part,” he insists. Namjoon has all his fingers wrapped around Jimin's skull, scratching along his scalp and pressing finger tips into certain points along the center and above his ears.

“God, or this,” he sighs when Namjoon takes his earlobes between his fingers, pulling and massaging his way gently upwards.

“You've said that five times tonight,” Namjoon laughs quietly, moving to knead at the surprisingly tight muscles of Jimin's chest.

"I meant it every time," Jimin giggles.

Namjoon just smiles and folds and tucks the sheet, revealing this arm to massage, and then the other. When he get's to Jimin's hands, spreading his fingers wide to massage across his palms, Jimin groans in contentment. Namjoon's hands are so ridiculously warm around his, and Jimin's arms are so limp, bending however Namjoon bends them.

The one time Jimin nearly blushes, every time, is this. Namjoon weaves their fingers together, and firmly, gently, they hold hands. Yeah, they're holding hands just so Namjoon can shake out his wrists, but still. It feels so...intimate.

He lets Namjoon tuck his arm back down at his side and smooth the sheet back down over him. Namjoon stands, fingers caressing down Jimin's chest and stomach, an innocent gesture, maintaining contact. It comforts Jimin more than he could even explain.

No one ever touches him. It's always, don't touch fans, don't let fans touch you. Polite bows to other celebs, to backup dancers, to CEOs and assistants. Not enough time to see family or friends who might hug him or squeeze his shoulder affectionately. His stylist is the only one who touches him every day, and that's rushed and brusque. Not like this, not gentle, firm touches to say I'm here, you're here. Grounding touches, not massaging to work out tight muscles, just human touch.

It's a realization that he can't quite look away from, and one he can't do anything about. He notices it everywhere, and by proxy or in contrast, thinks of Namjoon in a hundred places and moments throughout his week.

"Jimin?" Namjoon's soft voice floats on the quiet music. "I'm gonna uncover this area and work on the front hip area and thigh, is that okay?" He stretches his hand over the area of leg he speaks of, firm grasp stopping just above his knee as he waits.

"Of course," Jimin agrees, too utterly relaxed to feel shy about the way Namjoon gingerly folds the sheet back to just barely keep his dick covered. He doesn't feel shy about his body anymore anyway. He knows how he looks, knows how hard he worked to look that way.

"Is this okay?" Namjoon asks, tucking the sheet tightly beneath Jimin's thigh to keep it secure. “I'm gonna put your hand on the blanket on your stomach to keep it in place.”

Jimin nods and smiles at Joon picking up his hand and placing it just so, really not caring if Namjoon sees his dick or if the world around them collapses. He feels so good, unreal, warm and smooth, but Namjoon's hands are warmer, smoother now that he's added more oil.

He smears it down Jimin's thick thighs and up the front of his hip toward his belly button. "Now, this I know is not your favorite part," Namjoon chuckles. "Let me know if it's too much, though. It's good if you can allow me to penetrate deeper here, but real pain is counterproductive; it doesn't help to try to be a tough guy or whatever."

It's always painful, the front and side of his hips here, burning and protesting as Namjoon's hands sear deeper into the tissue. It always leaves bruises. He never tells Namjoon. Instead, he admires the finger-sized blooms of purple in the mirror for days after.

Jimin had always bruised easily, and in complete honestly, it didn't hurt too much. It hurt just enough. So he takes deep breaths to let Namjoon in deeper, and laughs through his yelps of pain so Namjoon won't stop.

Namjoon eyes him carefully, thumbs digging along the line between his crotch and thigh, fingers pressing around underneath and finding muscles Jimin never even knew he had in the deep inner corner of his glutes. For some reason, it always makes Jimin shy to feel the how squishy all the flesh of his ass and thighs are from this position, smushed beneath his weight. Namjoon's hand wiggles just below his crotch to get the "inner gluteal muscles that connect your groin muscles," going on to explain that if they do too much of the work when walking or dancing, an imbalance is created and et cetera et cetera.

Jimin barely listens, willing himself not to get a boner, trying not to think about Namjoon's big, oiled hands moving a mere inch upwards and working his dick that well too.

 

“Okay! We have five more minutes, which of your favorite spots do you want me to go back over?” Namjoon chuckles, a low, airy sound. He smooths his hands firmly up his legs on top of the sheet, up his stomach and chest and down his arms, squeezing his hands before starting the motion all over again like a rolling hug.

Jimin sighs in contentment, wishing it was acceptable to ask for this for the next five minutes. He could, really. He's paying out the ass for this, after all. “Head, maybe?” he finally decides.

When it's finally all over, Namjoon's touches getting lighter and gentler, sending Jimin off on dreamy clouds of bliss until he finally stills, keeping his hands cupped around Jimin's head from behind. Thumbs brushing softly over his temples, Namjoon leans down just a bit and murmurs, “That's it for today. Take your time getting up, and crack the door open when you're ready.”

He stretches his body long like a kitten, laying content in the remnants of Namjoon's hands and voice, layers and layers of warmth and loose comfort. He shuffles over to his fluffy robe and ties it around his waist, stretching again before opening the door and sitting on the edge of the massage table.

As always, Namjoon knocks on the door even though it's been opened.

“I'm good,” Jimin calls, eyes still heavy with something better than sleepiness.

“How do you feel?” Namjoon asks, pulling out his iPad to take notes as always.

“Soooo good,” Jimin purrs. “Whoever your significant other is, they're the luckiest,” he jokes. He doesn't know what drove him to say it, why he's curious about someone that has nothing to do with his busy life.

Namjoon chuckles, a goofier sound than when he's massaging. “My ex was too ticklish, I couldn't even grab his shoulder without him squirming away like I had the power of death, or something.”

“What a waste,” Jimin chuckles.

Namjoon asks him if there were any particular areas he wants worked on in their next session, any particular sensations he notices now, taking notes and nodding thoughtfully.

Snug in his robe and dreamy still, Jimin walks Namjoon to the door thanking him profusely, shaking hands and thinking how awfully formal it felt mere minutes after Namjoon's hands were caressing the most private areas of his bare body.

He flops immediately in his big bed, closing his eyes against the dark. He didn't miss what Namjoon had said. “my ex, his shoulders”, he. The wondering grows bigger in his mind, did Namjoon like what he sees when he massages him? If he's attracted to men and surely... surely Jimin is attractive? Does Namjoon imagine what it would be like to say to hell with his meticulous privacy sheets and spread Jimin's ass wide as he massages it? Would he fuck Jimin senseless right there on the massage table? Would he let Jimin fill his ass instead? Turn that low, soft voice into high whines and-

Jimin sighs, dick hard beneath his robe now. Seriously inconvenient in his sleepy, boneless state, but he's got himself so riled up already. He fumbles around for his lube, and it doesn't take much time at all to get off on the thought of Namjoon relentlessly fingering his ass.

 

 

The next week was less busy than others, practice every day and the gym as usual, but only a photo shoot and a meeting besides that.

He went shopping on Tuesday, got drinks and dinner with another idol friend Wednesday night. Shopping was always fun, and Seokjin was always hilarious, drunk or sober.

But the realization plagued him all week: no one ever touches him. Once he saw it he can't un-see it. The attendant at the Versace store gingerly adjusted his collar as he sized himself up in the mirror, fingers taking great care not to touch his skin. The backup dancers at practice all slapped each other's backs or hung off their shoulders in between songs, but Jimin got conversation and waves goodnight. They were nice, friendly even, but Jimin was in a bubble. Even Seokjin, one of the friendliest people he knows, gave him the kind of hug goodbye where your chests don't touch.

He booked Namjoon a day early just because he could.

“Hi Namjoon!” he greets brightly at the door, Namjoon, in the same white polo shirt, a bit wide eyed at the door flying open so soon.

Chill, Jimin, don't be weird. He pushes away the dirty fantasy he got off to last week. And maybe one other time last night.

The massage begins as it always does, face down and sensory deprived, all his attention moving to exist solely in the spots where Namjoon touches, in the cool brush of sheets and pain of his muscles protesting Namjoon's work.

“I'm going to uncover this area here, okay?” Namjoon speaks up as he does every single time, hands smoothing from his low back to his knee.

Namjoon carefully uncovers one whole side of his body, tucking it under Jimin's thigh. “I'll secure the sheet here, so you're safe,” he says, voice hushed and warm.

And he does, he does feel safe, he realizes. Blissfully safe, totally given over to Namjoon.

His muscles sing and protest as Namjoon digs into oiled flesh, and today more than other days, Jimin is hyper aware of how his ass cheeks pull apart as Namjoon kneads at them. He wonders how much is exposed despite Namjoon's careful sheet draping.

He's as hazy and limp as always by the time Namjoon has him flip over onto his back. But this time he finds himself inexplicably itching for conversation.

“How long have you done massage?” he asks, heavy eyes not lifting as Namjoon's fingers knead at his neck.

“Five years,” Namjoon answers from behind him. “I kinda always knew it's what I wanted to do, how I wanted to help people. I tried to follow the 'real job' path like I was expected to for a while, but...” He's quiet and then laughs like he remembered something.

“I did professional cuddling for a while on the side too,” he brings it up hesitant, joking, like maybe Jimin doesn't know what it is, or will laugh if he does.

He's right on one count, Jimin's really not sure what it really is. He's heard the term, but only as an odd kitschy step down from prostitution.

“Still do, sometimes...” Namjoon trails off.

“Professional cuddling?”

A hum in Namjoon's throat. “It's what it sounds like, cuddling for money,” he laughs. “But really, it's so much more, or it can be. Listening, stretching, pampering, whatever the person needs to... to feel human, appreciated. It's not as stupid as it sounds.”

No doubt, Namjoon has gotten shit for it before to sound so defensive. But the rush of exhilaration is like nothing Jimin has felt in years.

His head cranes back to look up at Namjoon before he can stop himself. “Can we- can I- can I pay you for that?” he asks.

There's genuine surprise in Namjoon's eyes, but he tries to hide it. “You, you- um. You want- yes, yeah of course,” he recovers himself. “In addition to your weekly massages or-?”

“Hell yeah,” Jimin scoffs. “I'm not giving this up.”

Namjoon's soft laughter settles over him. “Okay.”

The massage continues on, Namjoon moving slowly downwards, stopping to stretch and rub his chest muscles before working at his arms. Jimin closes his eyes to enjoy it, but he's buzzing on the inside.

What would cuddling with Namjoon be like? What would they do? Would it be weird? Great? He tries to imagine the gentle, professional hands working at his tight thigh muscles just holding him. Would it be awkward or amazing?

The thoughts melt away when Namjoon finally makes his way to his feet, deliciously perfect pressure after a week of dance practices.

Jimin pulls his robe tight and lets Namjoon back in the room after they're done, sleepy like a kitten who has been pet for an hour and a half.

The iPad is pulled out again, Namjoon asking about any pains or sensations. Jimin answers, legs swinging off the side of the massage table.

“So, the cuddling. Do you want to start next week?”

“Yes,” Jimin answers immediately, sitting up straighter.

“Okay,” Namjoon smiles. “Let me take notes for that,” he switches to an empty note. “What are you looking to get out of it?”

Sometimes, Jimin is more cunning than anyone he knows. Other times, with his defenses worn down, he's so honest he's frightened of it later, worrying over how to absorb the honesty back into his carefully smoothed image.

He stares down at the floor between them, dark silky hair falling forward. “Um. No one ever touches me? No one... no one ever touches me,” he repeats, trying to laugh, not sure why it came out as a question.

Namjoon just nods, great sympathy in his eyes. Jimin almost hates himself for a moment, rich in his expensive penthouse, everything he could buy for comfort and enjoyment, yet here he is whining because he can't get a hug.

“It's important, you know,” Namjoon says softly, as if he could hear his thoughts. “Human touch. Without it, we start to feel less human.”

Jimin nods. “I feel like... I belong to everyone but no one... like I'm just put in a glass jar and everyone admires me and owns me but no one- no one touches me.” He tries to keep his voice even.

I can't imagine how hard that must be.” Jimin looks up at him. There's nothing but real, serious sympathy there. “All of us, I think, need human touch, but to experience that lack in such an odd, unreal way,” he shrugs like it's beyond words.

It's that, that makes Jimin want to cry. He'd been telling himself it's not that bad and brushing it off for so long. But here's Namjoon taking it so seriously, looking hurt for him.

“Is there anything else you want to do during your session? It can be anything that makes you feel at ease, happy, relaxed, alive, whatever.”

Heels bouncing off the bar of the table he hmms but truthfully all he can think of is Namjoon hugging him for a solid hour.

“It can always change, if you think of something. We'll just go with the flow. Is there anything you don't want to do or don't like?”

He shakes his head. Namjoon's already touched him just about everywhere. “I don't like mangoes. Or licorice,” he answers playfully.

Namjoon chuckles. “No mango licorice parfaits, noted.” They both shiver and fake gag at the notion.

“Alright, that's it, I'll see you next week then.” Namjoon stands, and it seems weirder than ever not to hug him goodbye at the door, knowing they have an endless scheduled hug for the next week.

His apartment returns to the solitary quiet, but the sleek furniture and soft lighting seem more vibrant than usual, anticipation brightening up the corners of his life.