The music starts playing and the curtains open to reveal the audience on the other side. Everyone starts singing and Yoongi does his best to smile.
He does not know all the lyrics to ‘Music Is My Life’ and he did not make it a point to know since he isn’t going to have a solo part in it anyway. That went to their vocal line sans Seokjin. Seokjin who is standing right next to him while at the same time not really next to him next to him. There is a good six inches between them partly because Seokjin is going to have to move quickly after the song ends to reach his appointed spot on the stage- being a quarter of the MC line for the first half of the night- but mostly because Yoongi cannot bear to be so close to him, or rather, too close to him lest he lose it altogether.
He is a man who is a master of his emotions, if emotions are meant to be bottled up and stored away, never allowed to see the light of day until things are too late and everything is a cacophony of infinite proportions. He wonders how in the hell he survived life for as long as he did. He does not ponder further because the camera is on them now and he has to remember to look like he isn’t being troubled by anything, especially not something that is related to the one person who is literally beside him. He ignores the constant side glances that said person is throwing at him.
Taehyung, Jungkook, and Jimin sing their part. He shakes his head with the beat, smiles a little like he’s having the time of his life. He turns to the screen, tapping his foot to the rhythm and to the restlessness that came with being the center of attention. He puts his microphone to his lips when the camera pans out to all of the artists on the stage and he silently releases the breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding.
He continues the charade, reading/singing the lyrics on the teleprompter. He nudges Namjoon and laughs, a show to whoever in the audience (his stans mostly) might have their eyes trained on him. Only the bridge and the final chorus were left of the song; he thinks he can actually pull this off. He does not notice Seokjin put his hand in his pocket like he was checking something and take it back out when he is sure that that something is still there. He fails to observe Seokjin stand straighter and tighten his hold on the cue cards. He disregards the tingling in his hand, fighting the urge to put it on the back of Seokjin’s neck and rub circles with his thumb to assure him that he will do great. He misses when the song ends and puts his microphone down a beat late.
Seokjin looks at him then, an expectant look on his face. Yoongi knows what he’s asking for. They’ve done it so many times and he desperately wants to give it to him but he’s stubborn so he doesn’t, and Seokjin’s face goes blank but only after it becomes disappointed. The hand he had out for Yoongi to squeeze drops to his side as he schools his features into something more charismatic, more appealing to the masses. The lights on the stage dim and Seokjin turns to leave. Yoongi swallows the regret that is pushing his voice to call out for Seokjin. He does not say anything. Seokjin does not turn back.
“KBS Gayo to Yoongi-hyung! Helloooooo!”
Taehyung waves his hand frantically in front of Yoongi’s face and he is more than tempted to swat it off like a fly. Instead, he sighs deeply and says ‘what’ with the most deadpan expression he could manage, his display of emotional constipation only a few moments ago notwithstanding.
“We’re betting on Jin-hyung’s heart event. 20,000 won. I say he goes with the single heart and a kiss to Chanyeol-sunbaenim. Kookie says he’ll do the heart confetti.”
“He’s doing the heart confetti.”
“What? No he-“
Taehyung does not get to finish what he had to say because it was Seokjin’s turn to introduce himself. Like Yoongi predicted, Seokjin shows a single heart to the crowd before throwing it over his head, letting all the other hearts hidden behind the one heart to scatter and fall around him like petals. Taehyung groans as Jungkook grins and gloats at him. The audience laughs and eats up the short amount of fanservice that Seokjin had offered.
Normally, Yoongi would cringe inwardly at his hyung’s extraness but he lets the faintest of smiles make its way onto his lips this time. He would never admit it out loud but he actually finds Seokjin’s heart events extremely endearing. It shows how much love he has for ARMY and how dedicated he is to put a smile on their faces. He usually does not tell the rest of the members what he has planned especially during concerts.
“So that everyone’s reactions would be genuine,” Seokjin said that one time Yoongi tried to find out what the older had prepared. It ended up becoming something that not only their fans looked forward to but also something they, as members, anticipated. He managed to come up with something different every time and Yoongi would be lying if he didn’t say he admired that a lot. Actually, he admired a lot of things about Seokjin.
Sometimes, he admired him from afar like when Seokjin would be recording a song and he’d be sitting in the studio. Seokjin would sing the note effortlessly and the producer tells him they will be using that cut. Yoongi’s chest would swell with pride. Or when Seokjin would still be in the practice room even after everyone else has gone home and he’d be passing by to get a coffee for himself. Seokjin would practice the steps he was having trouble with and he would not stop unless it looked perfect. Yoongi would forget his coffee and stand by the door to watch.
Other times, he admired him closely like when Seokjin would fall asleep first during their movie marathons and he’d notice when he hears light snoring. Seokjin would have his mouth slightly ajar and his eyebrows furrowed together. Yoongi would count the eyelashes that grace his cheeks and brush the hair away from his forehead. He would lean in and gently place a kiss on Seokjin’s temple before putting a blanket over him.
He admires Seokjin for the big things and the little things. He admires Seokjin so much it blossomed to love before he even thought about the possibility. How he starts gravitating towards him when he’s uneasy. How he’d ask for hugs when he’s sad. How he wants to let him know first when something good happened. How he wishes for him to be safe and healthy and happy. How he doesn’t think life would be as worthwhile if he leaves. How he’d miss him if he leaves. How lost he’d be when he leaves. Seokjin broke the news to him last night.
“But you can’t just leave, hyung! We have an album to prepare for; promotions have been planned well into next year!” Yoongi shouts, his voice reverberating inside Genius Lab.
Seokjin is sitting calmly on his couch, watching him pace back and forth. “I have to, Yoongi. You know I have to.”
“But why now? You can’t leave now!”
He tries to reason but Seokjin just looks at him. The older’s face looks tired and Yoongi knows the decision is final but damn him if he doesn’t try.
“Please, we need you here. I need you,” his voice drops to a whisper and he stops pacing. He can feel tears form in his eyes and it takes all his willpower to keep himself from crying.
Seokjin reaches for him and he allows himself to be held. He straddles Seokjin and rests his head on the crook of his neck. He knows he looks like a giant baby; he’ll feel mortified later. What matters to him now is how Seokjin is so warm and how he smells of citrus. How their bodies fit each other perfectly like the pieces of a puzzle. He clutches onto the front of Seokjin’s shirt and begs, “I don’t want you to go.”
Seokjin kisses the top of his head. “I’m sorry.”
Yoongi enters their dressing room last. The adrenaline from their performance finally leaves his body completely and he slumps down in the nearest chair he could find. It had been a long night. What with the preparations for their set and the accompaniment of an all-live band, he was more than excited to prove a point to all of those who accused them of lip syncing. He did the best that he could; he ad-libbed his part in Cypher, exerted the most effort he has ever done in his dancing, served a lot more swagger and attitude because they were BTS and they did not deserve to be discredited after all that they had worked hard for and all that they had been through.
He likes to think of it as a big ‘fuck you’ to those who continue to condemn them for no particular reason other than to condemn them. He could never understand their sense of irrational hatred. But he knows that it is a lost cause to try and convince them to think otherwise. The only thing he and the other members can do is to do is to stay true to themselves and to continue making music that speaks to people. That is how it was when they started and that is how it will be when they decide it is time for the end.
“The end, huh?” A small frown crosses his lips as he remembers the conversation from last night.
He was not expecting Seokjin to tell him anything of that sort when he entered his studio. To be honest, he had forgotten all about it. ‘He chose to forget it,’ his mind supplies for him. Who would blame him though? The group losing a member is not exactly a thought process he or any of the other members are willing to entertain. It would be like losing a limb because you intentionally cut it off. He hates the thought of it. Despises it. Loathes it.
But Seokjin, he just accepted it like fate. He did not fight it. He did not question it. It actually seemed like he had been expecting it. He welcomed it like an old friend. Yoongi feels betrayed. They were supposed to be all in this together. They were supposed to be a team. They were supposed to be Bangtan. But how can they do that if one of them was gone?
“I’m sure the mirror is sorry for whatever it did to you.”
A pair of hands gently squeeze his shoulders and he stops glaring at his reflection to glare at Seokjin’s instead. The bastard smiles warmly at him making his stomach do twenty somersaults. The audacity. Yoongi narrows his eyes and scoffs.
“I really don’t think the mirror gives a shit.” He stresses the last word, enunciating the ‘t’ loud and clear.
Seokjin does not stop smiling though he squeezes Yoongi’s shoulders a lot less gently.
“That’s a bit too harsh, don’t you think?” he asks.
Yoongi purses his lips. “Nah. I think the mirror wouldn’t have agreed so easily, if it did.”
Seokjin’s left eye twitches. “We are not going through this again, Yoongi.”
“This isn’t about us. It’s about the mirror and me.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake. The mirror didn’t have much of a choice.”
“The mirror doesn’t know that.”
“Yes! It does!”
“How could it have known if it never tried?!”
On the other side of the room, five pairs of eyes watch the exchange with a mixture of worry, confusion, and exasperation.
“I really thought they were finally going to make up,” Jimin sighs, resting his chin on his palm.
“Same,” Taehyung echoes. “Guess it’s not always sunshine and rainbows in Couple Land. Hand over the 50,000, Kookie!”
“Hey, hey.” The youngest evades Taehyung’s hand, standing up from his chair. “The night isn’t over yet, hyung. Don’t get cocky. Our dads’ love will stand against all odds.”
“Love isn’t real, kid.” Taehyung deadpans but drops the matter opting to watch Yoongi and Seokjin who have started to squabble in whispers.
“I don’t get it though.”
Hoseok takes his eyes off from the scene and turns to Namjoon who is deep in thought.
“What do you mean, Joonie?” He asks.
“What did the mirror do?”
The lights in their room are turned off. Guilt turns relentlessly in Yoongi’s stomach and he has to take a deep breath before turning on the light switch. Eomuk and Odeng stir in their cage at the sudden flash of brightness. He recoils at their cries and rushes to dim the lights down. He instinctively turns to the human-shaped lump on Seokjin’s bed expecting a berating. The lump does not acknowledge him nor the noisy sugar gliders. His heart sinks. Making as little noise as possible, Yoongi heads straight towards his roommates’ pets, crouching in front of their cage to see if they are okay.
The sugar gliders are moving around the bottom of their cage, obviously frazzled. He still has difficulty identifying them but he thinks Eomuk is the one moving back and forth from one corner of the cage to the other and Odeng is the one circling the middle of the cage. He should not be thinking that their panic reminds him of Seokjin sometimes but it does and he smiles before cursing himself for being a shit boyfriend and a shit human being in general.
He takes a seat on the floor, crossing his legs, and pulls open the cage door. He reaches for Odeng first, scooping the sugar glider carefully into his palms and rubbing its head gently to try and calm it down. The sugar glider gradually stops crying and Yoongi can feel its heartbeat even out. He does not think he will ever get used to that, being able to soothe Eomuk and Odeng. The first time he approached the little things, they practically ran to the edge of their cage. Seokjin had to assure him it was not personal and they were just getting used to everything. He was advised to wave at the two from a distance they deemed safe as they were still testing the waters; once they were used to it they could move on from there.
It was vital that the sugar gliders get used to him since he is Seokjin’s roommate, among other things. It would have been such a pain if he could not even enter his own room without alarming his roommate’s beloved babies. Seokjin is not letting them go and changing roommates is out of the question. Thankfully, everything worked out in the end and now he is tasked to feed the children from time to time. He is living the life. But really, he finds the sugar gliders endearing and he would probably put them second only to his own baby, Holly. He misses him.
“Go to sleep now, Odengie,” he coos at the sugar glider before placing it in the sleeping pouch.
He reaches for Eomuk next, who had stopped pacing and resorted to clinging to the bars of the cage. He rubs a finger on Eomuk’s head just like he did with Odeng and soon enough the sugar glider calms down. He places it in the sleeping pouch as well before closing the cage door and standing up.
“You mixed them up again.”
He jumps at the voice, cupping his hands over his mouth to keep himself from screaming and scaring the sugar gliders for the second time that night. He turns around and faces Seokjin who is sitting up on his bed, blanket over his shoulders. He didn’t even hear Seokjin move because he was so enamored with the sugar gliders. Yoongi’s chest clenches and he offers a small smile. Seokjin returns it with a smile of his own as he pats the bed, signaling Yoongi to go to him.
“I thought you were asleep,” Yoongi starts as he climbs onto the bed. Seokjin inches a little to the side to make room for him. They lay down together with Yoongi on his back and Seokjin on his side facing Yoongi.
“You know I wasn’t.”
Yoongi hums in agreement before closing his eyes. “You were angry with me.”
“I still am.”
“And you have every right to be.” Yoongi turns to face him.
Seokjin’s lips are drawn into a pout and Yoongi wants nothing more than to kiss it away. He really could just close the distance between them and breathe in the familiar smell of citrus he loved so much and missed so dearly despite it only being a day since he was last embraced by it.
So he does.
Seokjin’s lips were soft against his. His eyes slowly flutter shut and his heart skips a beat. Seokjin is warm like he always is and Yoongi shudders under his touch when he cups his face. Yoongi feels it on his lips when Seokjin smiles. Then Seokjin is kissing him back and the butterflies in his stomach go into a frenzy. He clutches the front of Seokjin’s shirt, wanting more, needing more. Neither of them let go. Seokjin wraps his hand around the back of Yoongi’s neck and Yoongi kisses him deeper. He kisses him again and again and again until they both run out of breath. They pull away at the same time and Seokjin presses their foreheads together. Yoongi takes Seokjin’s hand in his and interlace their fingers.
“I’m really sorry for how I’ve been acting, hyung.”
“You’re forgiven, Yoongi-chi.”
“It’s just… I’ll miss you so much when you leave. It’s… I… I don’t know what I’ll do when you’re gone.”
Seokjin squeezes his hand. “Just keep doing what you’re doing. My absence won’t change anything.”
“Yes, it will.” Yoongi pulls back, looking Seokjin in the eyes. “Everything will change. We’ll be down to three vocalists instead of four. The choreography will be designed for only six people. The kids will have to sing your parts and I will become the eldest. I can’t cook as well as you do, hyung! I don’t know what words to say when the others are down. I don’t make lame-ass jokes that make people smile. I can’t come up with heart events that will make ARMY happy. I can’t replace you. No one can replace you.”
Seokjin’s eyes soften and he pecks Yoongi on the nose once. “You’re such a worrywart, Yoongi. I won’t be gone forever. Military enlistment is only for a maximum of two years. I’ll be back soon enough.”
“Two years is still a long time. You’ll be gone for seven-hundred and thirty days. That’s a lot of days, hyung! We’ll have to have comebacks without you. We’ll have to perform concerts without you. But we can’t be Bangtan without you.”
“I know. I’ve thought about that way more than you think.” Seokjin smiles at him but it is sad. “We all have to go enlist. It’s our duty to our country and we can’t escape it. I’m just the first to go. I know that my position in BTS has always been questioned even up ‘til now. I know people say that this group will be better off without me and it hurts but I’ve chosen to ignore them because I know that ARMY will stand by all of us.
“You don’t have to worry for me. You just have to promise me that you will all do your best especially when I’m not here. That’s how we’ll make people remember Bangtan. That’s how we’ll make them never forget us. I might not be here physically but I will always be with all of you.”
At the moment, Yoongi feels small. But it was not the small that felt inferior. It was the small that happens when you are next to someone so great you cannot help but feel astounded by their existence. Seokjin has always been wiser than all of them. He understood life in a way that some of them forget it could be. He comes off as goofy nowadays but it was way better than when he was just polite and distant. Yoongi knows that that is because Seokjin went through so much to get to where he is now and everything he has learned shows through his actions and his beliefs.
Yoongi finds himself smiling. Seokjin puts an eyebrow up.
“What’s got you smiling like that?”
Yoongi notices Seokjin’s ears go pink before he hits him square on the arm.
“Yah! You can’t just pull something like that! We were having a heart-to-heart.”
Yoongi knows he shouldn’t but he can’t help himself.
“But you already have my heart, hyung.”
The series of slaps on his arm was worth it and he finds himself shaking with peals of laughter. Despite the pout on Seokjin’s lips and how his back was now turned to Yoongi, the red tinge on the tips of his ears that is now also prominent on his neck assured Yoongi that they were more than fine. He proceeds to wrap his arms around Seokjin’s waist and hooks his chin on the older’s shoulder.
“When are you going to tell the others?” he asks
He can feel the rise and fall of Seokjin’s back on his chest as he takes a deep sigh.
“Next year. A week into January. We will be having a meeting with Manager Sejin and Bang PD-nim. Act like you know nothing.”
“I think it’s a little too late for that. Manager Sejin pulled me aside earlier. Apparently, I wasn’t too subtle about being upset.”
“You think? Tae and Kookie were betting on when we were going to make up.”
He watches Seokjin reach for something and squints his eyes when the light of his phone illuminates their faces.
“I wanted Kookie to win.”
“He would have if you apologized sooner.”
“Yeah, well, I’m emotionally constipated, hyung. Sue me.”
“You’re such a tsun.”
“But I’m you’re tsun.”
They stay like that for a while bickering about mindless things and talking about the near future. Although Yoongi still hated the fact that Seokjin would have to leave them in a few months, he accepts it because Seokjin was right when he said they all had to go. After Seokjin, it would be his turn next. He thought about joining the military while Seokjin was enlisted too but he knew he had to be here to help oversee their activities. One member gone was already hard enough; two would be a disaster. Not unless the military calls for him too then there was nothing they could do really.
He takes solace in where he is now, in the room he shares with his roommate, his teammate, his hyung, his Jin. He knows that when he leaves, his heart will not be able to take it easy but he will try. He swears to remember the moments like this, when everything is warm, when everything smells like citrus, when Seokjin is by his side, nestled in his arms, when he is at ease.