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The Assistant

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“Shit!” Jeongguk swears as he fights with the sheet entangling his legs and trapping him to the bed; he manages to free himself and scrambles out into the dim morning light filtering through his window, already frantically picking through and pulling on clothes neatly folded in the nearest pile. Thankfully, he had the foresight to wash, dry and fold his laundry the previous night, even if it was at the ungodly hour of 2 am.

Jeongguk skips into the kitchen, swallows down a quick breakfast and sets up the coffee pot before grabbing his toothbrush. He incessantly nudges Jimin in the shoulder while brushing his teeth, mumbling “hyung” around a mouth full of toothpaste.

Jimin groans, rubbing his eyes and wiping the drool from his mouth with the back of his hand.

He croaks, “What the hell, Guk?”

Park Jimin, South Korea’s Triple Threat—angelic singer, graceful dancer and talented actor—is paid exorbitant amounts to endorse products for national and international enterprises. The previous evening, he had been asked to model jeans for a local fashion designer in an abandoned warehouse 2 hours outside of Seoul in the pouring rain for the “enchanting atmosphere”—and Park Jimin never refuses for the sake of art. Jeongguk, the trusty assistant that he is, stays by his side the entire time, ensuring he has everything he needs to shine in his role as South Korea’s brand name darling.

When Jeongguk carried a sleeping Jimin through the spacious apartment and tucked him into bed at some ridiculous hour last night, he was already anticipating their final contract negotiation meeting before Jimin ends his current contract. Jimin has long since outgrown his management company and while every agency is competing for his attention, he really hasn’t been happy with any of the available offerings. Jeongguk is genuinely perplexed as he watches Jimin grow more dissatisfied and impatient with each offered contract. Wash, dry, fold. Wash, dry, fold. The ritual calms him even as he mulls over his own bleak future if Jimin doesn’t sign with a new company.

“Hurry! We overslept and you’re going to be late!” Jeongguk tries his best to communicate by using exaggerated hand gestures to show Jimin that they will be majorly fucked if they are late to this meeting.

The coffee maker beeps as Jeongguk rinses his mouth; he pours piping hot coffee into Jimin’s favorite mug—a silly Christmas gift from Jeongguk with a bright shooting star and You’re a Superstar! written in children’s writing and Crayola bold colors—adds a dash of milk, grabs a banana, peels it and runs back to Jimin’s room without spilling a single drop. Jimin has only just sat up in bed, still groggy and yawning, when Jeongguk jams the banana into his mouth and pushes the cup into his hands.

“Eat and drink, then get ready, hyung!” Jeongguk implores over his shoulder as he walks into Jimin’s ensuite bathroom.

Jeongguk meticulously lines up Jimin’s preferred hair and makeup products, silver rings and earrings on the granite counter then returns to his own tiny hallway bathroom. He styles his hair and takes in his appearance; he values comfort over style, opting for a cream sweater that’s soft and warm, perfect for the cool late autumn weather, dark wash jeans and a black belt with a silver buckle. He’s naturally drawn to neutral colors, but now his job mandates that he blend into the background, never falling out of step with the prodigious shadow Jimin casts.

Jeongguk breathes a sigh of relief when he finally hears Jimin using the bathroom sink. He searches for Jimin’s missing cell phone and finds it hiding amongst the loose change and popcorn in the sofa cushions, cleans Jimin’s Dior sunglasses that are apparently fashionable, but Jeongguk thinks are so gaudy and hideous that he secretly hides them—Jimin always finds them anyway with a triumphant smile plastered on his face, much to Jeongguk’s chagrin—and readies both of their bags. When Jimin finally emerges from his room, he looks refreshed and flawless, like the superstar that he is, dressed in a fitted white button down shirt, black skin-tight jeans and black leather boots. Jeongguk hands Jimin his dark sunglasses, grey wool coat and a red plaid scarf that looks chic against his faded orange hair, and they’re finally walking through the plush hallways of Jimin’s luxury high-rise apartment complex toward the car where his driver has been waiting patiently for them in the early morning drizzle.

Their exit from the building arouses a small cluster of fans and paparazzi; Jeongguk shields Jimin from the prying cameras as they both quietly nod their greetings to the driver and Jeongguk reiterates the address of where they are going. The driver seamlessly slips the black sedan into the snarled Seoul traffic and Jeongguk feels the knot in his stomach slowly untangle; he closes his eyes and feels his breathing even out as the tires move underneath them and over the smooth paved road.

The roads here are so different from the pot holed streets plaguing his dilapidated neighborhood back home in Busan. The myriad puddles forming on the roadway remind him of when he was once pushed into a murky puddle of oil slicked rainwater by a group of older, wealthy kids when he was walking home from school; that was the day Jimin had first held out a friendly hand to him and they soon became inseparable. Jeongguk at last graduated from high school, left Busan with Jimin to pursue their dreams and they never looked back. They both worked tirelessly, the stars in their eyes fading day by day, but the consuming hunger for their respective passions remained. Jimin eventually auditioned and signed with a company; when he had enough influence as an idol, he hired Jeongguk as his assistant. Jeongguk’s reminiscent smile wavers when his mind drifts dangerously to his own unfulfilled dream. It isn’t his time yet. He shakes his head, trying to clear it of hazy memories and fruitless musings.

“You have a contract negotiation meeting with Kim Namjoon-ssi at Mon Studio today in about a half hour, hyung.” Jeongguk flits his eyes up from his phone and sees that Jimin is blindly staring out the window and humming, most likely ignoring him. He kicks him hard in the shin, eliciting a sharp hiss as Jimin rubs his leg and glares over his sunglasses at Jeongguk, who smiles innocently.

“Why should I care about Mon Studio? Are they really any different from the dozen other companies we’ve met with? We’ll just pick up the contract and I’ll make a decision…whenever.” Jimin scratches the back of his neck, side-eyeing Jeongguk briefly before continuing, “Everyone wants me anyway; I’m Park Jimin,” he sniffs, petulantly crossing his arms and looking out the window again. Jeongguk feels an oily unease settle into his stomach.

“Mon Studio manages Kim Seokjin; they catapulted him to fame and now he enjoys the kind of creative freedom you crave. Hyung—” Jeongguk manages to catch and hold Jimin’s eyes “—you really need to try to hear them out. This is the final meeting we have scheduled before your current contract expires. It would be in everyone’s best interest if you tried to take this a little more seriously. It’s your career on the line. How else will you continue to be Park Jimin, the charming sweetheart of Korea?”

Jeongguk forces a smile, but his pointed tone must have alerted Jimin to how nervous he’s been feeling the past few weeks through this turbulent process because Jimin turns and fully looks at him for a long minute before murmuring, “Don’t worry, Jeonggukie.” A line of worry forms between his brows as he reassures, “I’ll take care of us. It’s alway been just the two of us and look where we are now.” He smiles a bright and encouraging smile and Jeongguk feels the nervous energy afflicting him all morning dissipate.

The car stops and Jeongguk pats Jimin on the shoulders. They look at each other.

It’s show time.

/

Pound. Pound. Pound.

“Hyung?”

Pound. Rattle. Pound.

“Unlock the door, hyung.”

What the fuck? Yoongi blindly feels around for his phone, cracks an eye open and blearily reads that it is 7:30 in the morning. The last time he looked at the time it was 3:45 and he had a long night ahead of him. He’s going to kill Taehyung for waking him up—but later, much later, after he sleeps. He yawns and is about to drift off again when he hears a key slip into the lock and the door to his studio opens, flooding his sanctuary with fluorescent light.

“Ah, dammit!” Yoongi winces and shields his eyes from the light. “Get the fuck out, Taehyung,” he grouses.

“No can do today, hyung. You have a contract negotiation meeting at 8 this morning.”

“What?” Yoongi roars and Taehyung at least has the decency to look contrite.

“I may have messed up,” he shrugs, “the meeting was supposed to be with Namjoon-hyung, but I scheduled it for you instead and Namjoon-hyung is out of town today and tomorrow. It’s too late to cancel the meeting, so…” Taehyung trails off then smiles a large disarming smile that apparently works for him most of the time, but it doesn’t work with Yoongi.

Yoongi is fuming; he had worked until at least midnight producing Rose Velvet’s new single; the girl group is preparing for their comeback the following month. When he was completely satisfied with the single, he worked on his own tracks until his eyelids drooped and his back and shoulders cramped from sitting in the same position for so long. Namjoon brought him on to write and produce hit tracks for the company’s groups and solo singers, but the longer he works to produce popular hits, he grows increasingly dissatisfied with his own music. Even after finishing over 200 tracks, none of them are good enough to release, no matter how many hours he spends hunched over his work. An insidious restlessness has been slowly spreading through him, impeding the natural synergy he lives and breathes when creating his own music, his art. The usual creative energy thrumming in his veins has dulled and he can’t shake the feeling that something is missing.

“Okay, okay. Who is the meeting with?” Yoongi asks, sighing wearily, rubbing his eyes to stem off a nascent tension headache.

“Park Jimin.”

Park Jimin? I’m meeting with Park fucking Jimin today, this morning, in—he checks his phone again—fifteen fucking minutes?

Yoongi is mentally tearing Taehyung to pieces while he continues to calmly stand there smiling his stupid smile, slowly nodding his head as Yoongi fumes. Taehyung raises his eyebrows and offers, “Coffee?”

Yoongi sighs, resigned to his fate, and nods his head before stretching, popping his back in the process. He uses the restroom, splashes cool water on his face and brushes his teeth; although he feels better, he grimaces at the dark purple smudges under his eyes. The immeasurable hours he spends in the studio and habitual exhaustion are catching up with him; he really should sleep more.

He finds his leather jacket slumped on the couch in his studio. He stares longingly at his makeshift bed, yearning to lie down again, but closes the door and walks into his office where Taehyung has already left a steaming cup of coffee and a contract on his large wood desk. His office is one of the least-used rooms in the entire building since he abhors wasting time on anything other than creating music, and his desk reflects that with how sparse and clean it looks. Two large leather chairs sit across from him and there is a couch and smaller table to the side for others attending the meeting.

Yoongi takes a large gulp of coffee and hums a little with relief, ready to scan the terms of the contract when his phone chimes with a text message from Taehyung.

Kim Taehyung, 7:54 am 
Manager Park left. He quit???

Fuck. Why does this keep happening? He feels every muscle in his body tense and a light sweat breaks out on his forehead. This can’t be happening right before this meeting.

Yoongi ponders his options as he lays his forehead down on the desk; it feels cool against his hot skin. His door swings open and he hears a tentative, “Hyung?”

As he sits up, Taehyung hands him a rather long resignation notice. He reads it and sighs, rubbing his temples tiredly. “Well, I guess you’re going to act as interim manager again, Taehyungie.”

Taehyung squeals—actually squeals— jumping up and down excitedly while clapping his hands with glee, further giving Yoongi a pounding headache and a pressing need for anxiety medication.

“Oh, stop looking like a grumpy cat, hyung. This is the best news we’ve had all week!”

We? Yoongi opens his mouth to retort when his phone chimes again with another text.

Kim Seokjin, 7:58 am 
Yoongi-yah!!! I need a meeting with you right away!!!!

What is it with these people? Why doesn’t anyone respect him? “Taehyung, can you schedule a meeting with Seokjin for sometime after the meeting with Park Jimin?  Also, you can let him know you’re his new manager—again.”

Where the fuck is Namjoon? Yoongi may be a high-level producer, but he isn’t the owner. He sighs again and focuses on familiarizing himself with the terms of the contract; most of it is standard legal jargon, but he can’t help but raise his eyebrows at the amount they’re offering Park Jimin. It's not like they can’t afford to manage and promote a known talent like Jimin, but Namjoon must feel pretty confident to be offering this amount to him. After he reads the final contract clause, he pauses and purses his lips; Mon Studio has never offered a contract to a famous idol before, and although this must be standard, Yoongi is still surprised and groans. This is just his luck.

Mon Studio will provide Park Jimin’s personal staff. Any and all employees of Park Jimin will have their current contracts terminated.

There are three sharp knocks on the door that force him to compose himself. He stands up in greeting just as Taehyung opens the door.

Park Jimin walks through the door aloofly looking around, but not really focusing on any one thing, most likely judging everything, and wearing sunglasses inside like every other diva douchebag that Yoongi has had the (dis)pleasure to meet since entering the idol industry. He should have stayed underground.

He grits his teeth, forcing himself to stop grimacing as he sizes up the man in front of him, dressed head to toe in expensive designer clothes that perfectly drape his body without a single crease. Yoongi thinks about his own slightly rumpled appearance and internally cringes, but knows that even with proper warning, he would still choose function over fashion.

As they shake hands in greeting, Yoongi notices the other man who must have shuffled in quietly behind Park Jimin. He’s tall—taller than Yoongi—and lean. Yoongi is amazed he can see the guy at all with all the bags and coats he’s lugging around. He internally rolls his eyes and grinds his teeth because of course Park Jimin would need a walking coat rack to follow him around carrying his myriad coats, bags and other unnecessary shit. Of course.

Jimin plops unceremoniously into the seat across from Yoongi and obnoxiously gasps, “I think we need more atmosphere in here, Jeonggukie.”

The walking coat rack—Jeongguk—raises his eyebrows and looks like he wants to retort, but thinks better of it.

Jimin sweeps his hand over Yoongi’s empty desk, wrinkling his nose with distaste, and stresses, “We must have left my fern in the car. I need a pretty space to make good decisions. Do you mind getting it for me?” Jimin smiles in fake apology and Jeongguk looks like he is having an internal meltdown; even though he acquiesces and leaves with a bow, Yoongi hears a quietly muttered this is ridiculous, he must be out of his mind as Jeongguk walks out the door.

Taehyung offers Jimin and Yoongi bottled water. Jimin declines, instead asking, “Don’t you have sparkling water with lime?”

Taehyung smiles a tight near-grimace and answers with astonishing patience, “I’ll get that for you Park Jimin-ssi.”

Taehyung shoots Yoongi a look as he leaves the room, ostensibly to retrieve the sparkling water—with lime—from the kitchen.

While they wait for their assistants to return, Yoongi tries his best to smile pleasantly as he addresses Jimin, “Welcome to Mon Studio, Park Jimin-ssi. My name is—”

“Look, I’ve already been to a dozen of these meetings in the last two weeks; it’s always the same standard contract,” Jimin interrupts him, then leans into the leather seat and finally takes off his hideous sunglasses, folding them and holding them in his lap, before divulging, “you know who I am and why I’m here. I’ll get straight to the point; I’m not signing any contract if Jeonggukie isn’t written into it.” Then he puts his sunglasses back on and waits expectantly with his legs crossed, looking at the wall behind Yoongi.

He blinks. Okay, not what he was expecting.

“Okay, I don’t care who you are, but you can’t talk to me like that.” Yoongi’s voice is low and gravelly, his calm façade slowly cracking and just barely containing his temper. No one talks to him like that and gets away with it. “Why don’t you try saying that again, but nicely this time?”

Jimin’s mouth drops open in a silent “oh” and he slowly takes off his sunglasses again. He composes himself and apologizes, “Sorry, Kim Namjoon-ssi.” Then, he lets out a deep sigh, visibly deflating, and rubs his face with his hands; he suddenly looks tired and wary, and infinitely more human. Jimin professes possibly his first genuine statement all morning, “Jeonggukie has been my assistant since the very beginning. I will not leave him behind.”

Yoongi realizes they haven’t even properly introduced themselves yet. This is the most bizarre meeting he has ever been part of. No wonder Namjoon is always the one who conducts these.

When Yoongi doesn’t answer, Jimin continues, bordering on pleading, “I’m willing to take a salary decrease if he’s written into the contract.”

Taehyung enters the room carrying Jimin’s sparkling water, garnished with something that looks suspiciously like a lemon wedge colored with green marker, with Jeongguk following, unnecessary atmospheric fern in hand, and both failing to suppress knowing smiles. Jeongguk places the fern on the desk near Jimin while Taehyung proffers the water. Jeongguk bows again before retrieving his notepad, presumably to take notes throughout the meeting.

Yoongi concludes that the best place to start is with a true introduction, “I’m not Kim Namjoon, I’m—”

“Holy shit, you’re Agust D!” Jeongguk blurts out, then covers his mouth as his eyes comically widen to three times their normal size and his face tints a pretty pink.

Everyone in the room slowly turns to stare at him.

Yoongi truly looks at him for the first time; while he is immune to the classical beauty permeating the idol industry, he is stunned to find that Jeongguk is striking without trying or even acknowledging it. He’s quiet and clearly hard-working, yet friendly and inviting, with large honest eyes that look like they hold the world’s secrets. How had he not noticed him before?

Taehyung breaks the stunned silence in the room when he bursts out into a loud belly laugh, holding his sides. He straightens, wiping his eyes, and puts a friendly arm around Jeongguk’s shoulder bellowing, “I think we’re going to be good friends, Jeonggukie!”

Jeongguk smiles sheepishly at Taehyung, scrunching his nose in embarrassment. Cute, Yoongi thinks as his own furrowed expression softens into a fond smile.

Whoa, what the hell? He internally chastises himself for hallucinating under the influence of stress and sleep deprivation. Min Yoongi is never attracted to cute things. He’s a hard-core rapper; he’s a musical genius badass who savagely shreds people apart when he spits his flow. There isn’t one soft thing about him. He nods his head in agreement with himself.

Flustered by his bizarre reaction, he tries to distract himself with the contracts and other papers on his desk, keeping his hands busy while he thinks.

Park Jimin is a pompous asshole and Yoongi definitely wouldn’t miss him if they don’t sign the contract today, but Namjoon is the owner and clearly wants to sign him, judging by the company’s generous offer.

Jimin’s cool façade cracks as he turns to glare at Jeongguk, who takes one look at Jimin’s unimpressed face and breaks into giggles. Yoongi freezes, then scoffs at his initial fear of weakness; he doesn’t like sweet peals of laughter, cute nose scrunches or adorable giggling. He can ignore giggling, he smirks self-assuredly.

Well, Yoongi contemplates, Taehyung has been promoted to interim manager so they don’t have an assistant anymore. Perhaps Mon Studio could hire Jeongguk as an assistant; that would placate Jimin, while conveniently filling the vacant position.

He looks at Jeongguk again, who has composed himself but his eyes still shine with mirth. Maybe this could work.

Then Jeongguk flicks his bright eyes to meet Yoongi’s, bowing his head slightly in silent apology and smiling warmly, before returning his attention to his notebook, his cheeks painted an even prettier shade of pink.

Yoongi feels a little flutter underneath his ribcage and his cheeks warm as he naturally returns the smile, only then fully realizing that he is absolutely, positively fucked.