There's an easy, comfortable silence that colors most of Yoongi's interactions with Seokjin. After so many years of living together, they've established a rhythm that's natural, easy, but quiet. The type of quiet that Yoongi often needs to recede into, that he clings to. It’s the silence shared while cooking together in the kitchen, shoulders brushing occasionally while they focus on their own tasks. The kind of peaceful quiet Yoongi finds with Seokjin alone at a restaurant, eating without speaking, without having to worry about filling every lull in conversation with forced or meaningless chatter. Around Seokjin, Yoongi just gets to be.
It's different when they’re in front of others and Yoongi can feed off of Seokjin's extroversion and find hidden reserves of energy he needs to maintain his public persona. They riff off of each other, help care for the younger members, but Yoongi's relationship with Jin is different from the dynamics he has with the other members.
The only way he can think to put it is that it’s softer, gentler somehow.
Yoongi's always had the tendency to latch on to small, insignificant occurrences and completely blow them out of proportion, assigning to them a heavy and frankly unjustifiable weight. For some reason, he always comes back to the first night he and Seokjin shared a room just themselves, years ago now, tired from a long day of moving and, on Yoongi’s part, lazy unpacking.
There was something intimidating to him about sharing a room with just one other member, so used to the clamoring chaos of their old setup with the bunk beds, everyone a mess of sheets and limbs, Seokjin's friendly, "night, assholes!" chirped out and echoed back through the darkness when they'd all settled down. Yoongi usually never echoed it back.
There was something far more intimate about this here, just Seokjin, just their twin beds pressed against opposite sides of the room. He can still hear it now, the firm click off of Seokjin's beside lamp. He laid in bed in the darkness with the blankets pulled up to his chin, his body automatically tensed up.
In those next few seconds, silence permeated the room, and it was a silence Yoongi anxiously read into as thick and awkward, palpably uncomfortable. Yoongi's mind ran a million miles an hour: Do we say good night to each other? Do I say good night first? Is he going to say it? If I say good night do we have to do that, like, every night, like forever?
Jin cleared his throat.
Maybe he's worrying about it too? Is he even thinking about this? It's not a big deal, right? Do normal people worry about this? Am I normal?
But the silence stretched on until eventually Seokjin's soft, even exhalations wafted over to him. Yoongi heaved a sigh, relieved. The idea of getting caught in an expected routine, just the two of them, even a routine as mundane as having to say good night (every single night!) stressed him out. Shit, he wasn't normal. Yoongi knew he wasn't normal, but he listened to Jin and tried to match up the timing of their breaths until finally, his mind stilled and he let himself drift off too.
After the first night, the pact of silence between them is mutually agreed upon, even as their sleeping cadences change over time: Yoongi prefers to spend half the night glued to the blue glow of his computer in the Genius Lab, while Seokjin usually goes to bed at a reasonable hour, unable to function on less than seven hours' sleep. But their default together, at least alone, is silence. They keep to themselves and don’t talk, and it’s enough.
The silence isn't something Yoongi leans on as a crutch for his awkwardness anymore; it's more that he and Seokjin have an inherent understanding of what the other needs, what they can get only from each other.
Jin knows that Yoongi needs quiet to work, to recharge, preferring to knead out his problems over and over in his head rather than letting them carelessly tumble past his lips. Yoongi couldn’t do that. He couldn’t lay bare his insecurities and burden someone else. He couldn’t.
Jin also needs the quiet reciprocated, a break from spending most of the day switched on, charm and buoyancy cranked full blast to help hold the group together. Sometimes he just needs to be muted for a while.
The consistent exchange of silence between them is nurturing, though, in a way that has come to feel, to Yoongi, uniquely Seokjin.
By now, though, it’s years down the road and the group has moved and since separated into their own rooms (except Jimin and Hoseok, the codependent weirdos). Yoongi relishes his own space, but a part of him misses Seokjin's presence at night, like he’s been unplugged from an energy source and left to drain.
He finds instead moments here and there to just be around Jin: sometimes it’s helping him mince the onions for a group dinner when their schedule allows for it; sometimes it’s brewing chamomile tea at midnight and sipping it carefully in the kitchen; sometimes it’s sitting in the main room curled on separate ends of the couch thumbing through books.
He wouldn't be able to explain it in words to anyone else, but their shared stillness always hums with this underlying warmth, like the soft buttery glow of Christmas lights. It's Seokjin. It's home.
It's the middle of the night, a few days into their promotional cycle for their latest comeback. All of the members are noticeably stretched thin and drawn. No matter how many times they've done this before, no matter how much they thrive off of performing, the eighth day in a row of televised performances scheduled around interview after hackneyed interview take their toll. It's getting to them all slowly, and Yoongi knows the others see the weariness on him too. He hasn't had an appetite for a few weeks, his cheeks hollowing out, buckle taken in another notch, and he wants to sleep all the time. He knows Jin’s worried when wordlessly presses granola bars and apples into Yoongi’s hands now and then, brow knit. But it's okay, he's okay, they're okay---it's almost over and then they can rest. God, he can't wait to rest.
He pads out of the Genius Lab somewhere around 3 am and drags his sleep-heavy feet towards his room. The light peeking from underneath Seokjin's room, adjacent to his own, makes him pause. Jin's not usually awake this late, but who knows, maybe he got sucked into the whirlpool of League of Legends with Taehyung or Jungkook. It certainly wouldn't be the first time.
He twists the knob to Jin's room slowly, puffing up his chest and preparing to chastise him for being up so late (in a teasing and nasally tone, of course, to mock the countless times Jin has done the same to him). His arm is raised as if to shake a matronly finger at Jin, but the soft whimpering that meets him stops him dead in his tracks.
Seokjin is crouched on the plush carpet next to his bed, shoulders shaking. He's curled over himself, hunched over his knees and rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet. If it weren't for his hands threaded through his hair, pulling on the strands in a slow, agonized way, Yoongi could almost mistake the way his breath comes out in quiet, clipped sobs for laughter. Jin untangles his fingers from his hair messily, and Yoongi can't see his face, but guesses he's dragging his hands down to lace over his mouth and muffle the sound of his crying.
Yoongi is rooted to the spot, his heart dropping to the pit of his stomach and his blood turning to ice. He tamps down the temptation to cover his eyes, like he needs to stop himself from seeing something he wasn't meant to see. Jin's cried in front of him before, they've all cried in front of each other, but something about the way raw, anguished sounds escape muted through his fingers feels different, feels scary. It stops Yoongi from stepping over the threshold to sit next to the older boy, to stroke his hair and massage soothing circles into his back.
Yoongi doesn't rush forward. He can’t. He’s a coward, he's selfish, he's afraid of so many things. He's afraid of putting Jin on the spot, afraid of the vulnerability, afraid of being brave enough to fight through his inability to act and be there for Jin. But Seokjin hasn't seen him hovering in the doorway, so Yoongi takes a slow step backwards out into the hall and softly closes the door. Heart thrumming against his chest, he doesn't bother to flick on his lights as slips into his room and sits on his bed staring out into the blackness.
There's a time, maybe a year previous, during a long day of filming for Run BTS! that he and Seokjin fought. It was over something dumb: a sharp look thrown Yoongi's way when he didn't harmonize with the others when they sang their self-composed Run BTS! theme song during any of the takes. There was no way he could miss Seokjin's exasperated and pointed glares, but Yoongi let them roll off him. He felt heavy like lead that day, not there, simultaneously weighed down while floating disconnected from his body. He had this problem where he looked pissed off by default when he got like this, even when he wasn't angry at all, just so, so bone-tired and aching. He held back the whole afternoon--he was reserved, unresponsive to the PDs, shut off, and participated as scarcely as possible, just waiting for the day to finally end.
"Yah, idiot, how come you're so weird today? Why aren't you joining in?” Jin chastised as he pulled Yoongi aside during a break. His tone was lilting and light, as he punctuated his sentences with playful swats on Yoongi's shoulder, but his eyes betrayed a seriousness he wasn't able to fully mask.
“Come on, get that ugly look off your face! It makes you look like a stuffy asshole.”
Yoongi ran a hand over his face, dragging his fingers slowly off his mouth as he let out an exasperated sigh.
"I don't know, hyung, I think maybe I just am a stuffy asshole. Whatever. Maybe if this whole thing weren't so fucking stupid I'd try harder," he bit out through clenched teeth.
He winced as soon as the words left him; he knew he sounded petulant and childish and immediately wished he could hit rewind. His mouth hung open dumbly, gaze plastered to the floor, but he knew there was no way in hell he could articulate what was really holding him back---the black chasm in his chest, the pounding of blood in his ears, his tunneled vision. His entire body had been replaced with a gaping maw that was just empty, but couldn't anyone else see that? Didn't Seokjin see?
Seokjin's eyes darkened at Yoongi's tone, eyelids narrowed to slits.
"Yoongi," he started. He had pushed right past his stern, irritated hyung voice usually reserved for the maknae line and dove down into something more hushed, more dangerous. "You need to pull your head out of your ass right now and change your attitude. The others notice and it's bringing everyone else down."
Okay, so, he guessed Seokjin could see it after all, the nothingness that had enveloped him. Yoongi knew he was selfish, selfish, selfish. Look how it had swallowed the light from everyone else too.
Jin glared for a second, before he added bitingly, "There's no reason to be so ungrateful."
The tension hung palpable in the air in front of them. When Yoongi said nothing, Seokjin simply clucked his tongue, turned sharply on his heel. In an incredible turnaround time of approximately three point five seconds, Jin had already plastered a goofy grin on his face as he strutted over to where Jungkook and Namjoon stood, sandwiching himself in the middle of them to sling an arm around around their shoulders. The joking laughter that rolled over them only served to make Yoongi more agitated, and for some reason ashamed. He rubbed his face again and searched for a corner he could curl up in to cool down.
The rest of the evening felt off-kilter, like he was looking at everything through glasses with dirty lenses hanging askew off one of his ears. Unbalanced, wrong. Seokjin wasn't really petty enough to pointedly ignore him in front of the other members; he opted instead to dart an irritated look at Yoongi here or there. Yoongi got the message: Jin didn't want to argue, but he was also not going to put up with any more of Yoongi's bullshit that night.
When Yoongi curled up in bed a few hours later, he could hear Seokjin's uneven breathing and knew he was awake, eyes probably boring holes into the ceiling too. Yoongi opened up his mouth, once, twice, as if to speak but kept the words got caught on his hitched breath. He cleared his throat. Closed his eyes. Inhaled slowly. Tried again.
"It's not," he started, as a wave of embarrassment washed over him at how choked up his voice sounded, "it's not that I'm ungrateful."
Seokjin didn't say anything, but Yoongi could tell he was listening by the way his breathing pattern shifted.
"I don't take anything for granted," Yoongi went on, "I know going through the motions, the variety shows, Bangtan Bombs, whatever, it's all part of the deal and I get it. It's worth it. I'm grateful. Most of the time I can do it. I'm happy to do it. But it's just that sometimes I..."
He paused to gather his thoughts.
"Sometimes I just get...stuck. Like I'm wading through concrete. Through two meters of snow. I can't make myself do what I need to. I don't know, it's like something as simple and meaningless as singing the goddamned Run! theme song becomes this huge, insurmountable...I don’t know, thing,” he offered lamely.
Again, Jin was silent but hummed gently after a few seconds as if to prompt him: go on, I'm here, I'm listening.
"I look at everyone else and can see objectively how simple and easy so much of this stuff is. God, it's so stupid,” he laughed hollowly as he kneaded the palms of his hands into his eyes.
“No one else has to even think about it. But I can tell myself what to do, how to do it, tell myself that it's easy, but I still can't physically do it. I can’t open my mouth. It's like the...sound gets caught in my throat."
He was self-conscious then, knew he had said more than he usually says and certainly more than he had intended, but he just wanted Seokjin to understand.
"I don't know why it happens, I don't know why I can MC one day and be good at it and then the next feel so disconnected that I feel like I can't remember how to put one foot in front of the other. I'm sorry, I don't know. I don't mean to be this way, I don't. I don't know. I'm trying, I just...Sometimes I just don't have a voice. I---"
He cut his sentence off abruptly and tried to steady himself with slow, measured breaths. He wanted to stop talking. He couldn't say anything more. He waited for Seokjin to respond, anticipating (and maybe hoping for) a teasing, "Wow, have you even ever said that many words in a row to me before?" to cut the tension and return them back to their normal cadence.
Instead, their breathing carried through the air, and Yoongi swore he could see it condense and cloud up the room.
Then, after a measure, Seokjin's voice cut through the fog: "Yoongi. Hey. Hey. We're okay. I can hear you."
Yoongi knew Jin instinctively, knew Jin could intuit that he didn't really want to go back and forth, to talk it out or debrief. And Jin was always willing to push aside Yoongi's bullshit in the end. Jin knew how to offer him back something simple and small, something that was always enough.
"Even when you don’t have a voice, I can always hear you," Seokjin finished.
It was something Yoongi could imagine Jin saying to him in an affected, cheesy way to make this situation feel less somber, less serious, but that wasn't how it was at all. His tone was so gentle and kind, so deeply sincere that Yoongi’s chest ached.
Yoongi breathed in deep through his nose to quell the sudden emotion that pin-pricked at the corner of his eyes.
"Okay," he said, barely a whisper. They were quiet then. It was silent, but he knew Seokjin could feel that Yoongi needed it to stay that way for now.
Inhale, exhale, inhale. Yoongi closed his eyes. It wasn't long after that he finally let go and surrendered to the wispy tendrils of sleep as they curled around him.
Yoongi holds his phone in a loose grip in his palm. He's been sitting like that for almost an hour now, and every few seconds he remembers the sound of Seokjin's sobbing, reverberating against his skull.
When it washes over him in waves, he twitches his head side-to-side as if to crack his neck or shakes his head fervently, like the act could somehow physically dispel the memory or dislodge it from his brain. It doesn’t work.
He's had his messaging app opened on Jin's contact page for a while now too, thumb hovering over the keyboard, but he can't figure out what to write. He wonders why this is so hard for him to do, when not even two hours ago he so easily could pour his feelings out into lyrics and music notes, but here he is now, stalling. Yoongi's never been particularly verbose, tries to keep his feelings close to his chest, tucked away from the people with whom he spends the bulk of his time. Maybe it’s because there’s something petrifying to him about being so open and wholly vulnerable to the people that care for him the most, the people he loves so much. Making them fret, stress, and worry when he knows they can’t afford to. Letting them see him as he really is.
Still, he'd recently sent Taehyung and Jungkook heartfelt texts when they were struggling (and was subsequently raked through the coals for it during Festa filming. He can still hear Jin's affected cry of, “The longest text he’s ever sent me was, ‘do you wanna eat?’”). And it’s not as though they’ve never comforted each other before. Why is this any different? Maybe it’s that he and Seokjin have usually elected to impart comfort to each other through the promise of silence without pretense. Or maybe it’s just that he’s a fucking coward.
Yoongi lets out a groan and drops back against his bed so he’s lying flat, letting his phone slip out of his hands and clatter to his chest. He lays there with his eyes closed for a few minutes before he pulls himself together and sits up. He can communicate. He needs to get on with it. He's an adult.
Message to: Jin-hyung
Hey hyung, I’m sorry to put you on the spot like this and send you this out of the blue. I didn’t mean to, but I saw you last night (tonight? I don’t know when you’ll see this). I can’t pretend to know exactly what you’re going through, and wouldn’t even presume to ask. I am always here when and however you need, even if you just want to annoy the shit out of me and berate me for not eating enough.
I wanted you to know, though, that you play a crucial role in my life. I’m grateful to have you to rely on and look up to. You give us all everything we need just by being yourself, and I’m so glad you’re exactly who you are. We all need you, and I'm so lucky to have you. I’m sorry I don’t say that enough. Even when you feel like you don’t have a voice, I can always hear you. I love you.
Yoongi hovers over the send button before he thinks twice and adds:
P.S. I’ll probably regret sending this almost immediately so the next time you see me, if you could pretend I didn’t send this so I don’t have to kick my own ass, I’d be really grateful (unless you need to talk. I mean, I know it's me but I'm still here for talking).
P.P.S. This is longer than three words; you’re welcome. Don’t get used to it.
Before he can second guess himself and delete the whole thing, he hits send, flicks through the screen to put his phone in airplane mode before tossing it face down on his nightstand and collapsing into bed.
Yoongi wakes up the next morning, bleary-eyed with humid breath and hair mussed from sleep. He glances at his phone to see that it’s what he would consider to be ass o’clock, a good three hours before he normally stumbles out of bed. He’s still clouded over with the haze of sleep, hoping to drift back off when he blinks and suddenly remembers. Jin curled in on himself, cradling his head in his hands, crying. The hushed sounds of stifled sobs. The rocking back and forth. The text. Oh god, the text.
He sits there for awhile and then decides forestalling the inevitable will only spike his anxiety further. With a sigh, he turns his phone off of airplane mode and watches as last night’s notifications flit down his screen.
He’s got a good thirty-two notifications from the group chat, bickering between Seokjin and the others, all notably timestamped after he had recklessly texted Jin. They're all pretty much in the vein of:
Seokjin: Jungkook, why are you sending Spongebob memes to the group chat at 4 in the goddamn morning?
Jungkook: I don’t know, why are you up at 4 in the goddamn morning?
Seokjin: I don’t know, why are YOU up at 4 in the goddamn morning?
Jungkook: I don’t know, why are you up at FOUR in the GODDAMN morning?
Hoseok: Can you guys shut the fuck up and go to sleep? I don't know if you noticed but it's 4 in the goddamn morning.
Seokjin: Hey Hoseok, quick question, why are you up at 4 in the goddamn morning?
Yoongi gives his phone a second to catch up and pulls up his text thread with Seokjin, careful not to re-read anything he wrote lest he have to confront his sad and unfortunately lived reality as the earth opens up and swallows him whole.
Nothing else comes through, though, which is fine, he reminds himself. He notes the checked read receipts. Seokjin's seen. It’s fine. He quells the small flicker of disappointment, snuffing it out. Jin is entitled to space and rest. It’s about Seokjin, not him. It’s fine.
Yoongi knows there’s no way in hell he’ll get any more sleep, and swings his legs over the bed to get up, sliding on his house slippers as he drowsily makes his way to the kitchen for coffee. And rice, he thinks, as his stomach rumbles and he feels a small pang of hunger for the first time in days.
He’s sitting on the counter, casually leaning back on his arms with his weight on his palms, watching the slow rotation of the microwave when Seokjin walks in the room. His hair is cowlicked and dark circles purple under his eyes. Yoongi feels a jolt of panic and swallows nervously before blinking a few times in rapid succession, willing himself to act normal. Snap out of it. It’s just Seokjin. It's normal, and he's normal, and it’s fine.
“Morning,” Yoongi rasps out, voice still hoarse from sleep. “You’re, uh, up early.”
Jin hums noncommittally at that. “Couldn’t sleep.”
The microwave beeps, and Jin peers through the glass to see the steaming bowl of rice inside.
“Is that for you?” Jin asks, even though of course Jin knows there’s no one else up so it couldn’t really be for anyone else. Yoongi feels on edge. The air feels stilted, their rhythm off, gaps in conversation glaring and uncomfortable.
Yoongi mimics Jin’s hum after a few seconds and shrugs, “I’m hungry.”
It's a few seconds before Seokjin slips into a smile then, close-lipped but genuine. With relief, Yoongi sees that the smile reaches Jin’s eyes, and there it is---that Christmas light warmth he’s used to, the yellow glow that makes him feel safe. He sighs out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding in, and inhales back in the shifting air. He lets the new, old familiar silence waft between them and rid the room of any hollowness, filling in any remaining empty space. Yoongi allows his head roll back with his eyes peacefully shut, content.
He slits one eye open when he hears Seokjin grunt, suddenly beside him, as he hoists himself up on the counter. He leans back on the palms of his hands too, mimicking Yoongi’s posture, but angling his hand closer to Yoongi’s so that their pinkies overlap. When their gazes lock, Seokjin winks and mirth glimmers eyes as he throws his head back with a teasing smile in a dramatic, exaggerated (yet accurate) imitation of Yoongi. Yoongi rolls his eyes in response and straightens out so he’s sitting fully upright, breaking pressed-together warm contact of their fingers.
Seokjin stays still for a moment before he walks his hands forward and straightens up too.
They’re silent, the only sound in the room the steady ticking of the secondhand of the clock on the kitchen wall and steady breathing. The sound reminds Yoongi of ocean waves lapping at the shoreline: constant, sure.
Seokjin carefully rests his head against Yoongi’s shoulder, releasing a long, shaky breath when Yoongi reciprocates when he lets his head fall gently against the crown of Jin’s head. Yoongi nuzzles into the touch, closes his eyes.
They’re silent, but right now there’s nothing they need to say.
Yoongi brings his hand to the small of Seokjin’s back, rubs soothing circles into it with his thumb.
They’re silent, but they hear each other, and right now, they don't need anything else. It’s okay. It’s enough.