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i wish i could love myself (i love you) pt.1

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Jimin both loved and in love; but that doesn’t mean he always loves himself. 

It’s just hard, sometimes. He knows how lucky he is to live this life, wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. He loves singing and dancing and performing onstage in front of thousands and thousands of fans. 

But what Jimin doesn’t love, has never loved, is constantly having to look at himself. He sees himself in the mirror all day during practice, when he’s being fitted for stage outfits, when he’s monitoring a performance. He sees himself plastered all over the internet, on billboards and massive posters all over the world whenever they go on tour. And it doesn’t help that he spends all day surrounded by beautiful people, either. 

The others had come to the company skinny, idol potential blindingly obvious. Sure, all of them could stand to lose a few pounds but it isn’t anything some healthy eating and rigorous dance practice won’t fix. All of them except Jimin, of course. 

Jimin could stand to lose more than just a few pounds, would have to if he wanted to stay with the group. Before joining BigHit, Jimin had never thought about his weight before. He had always focussed on trying to build lean muscle for dancing. His body was toned and he ate well and he’d always thought that was all that mattered. 

But getting ready to debut as an idol shows Jimin that actually, that isn’t all that matters. Being an idol means having a sharp jaw, strong cheekbones, skinny arms and legs. Jimin has none of those things. He’s got fat cheeks, no jaw and bulkier limbs than he can stand to look at anymore. So, the company puts him on a strict diet that Jimin adheres to religiously and slowly, many late night dance practices and hunger pains later, Jimin gets leaner and leaner. He looks good in the Run and I Need U MVs, and better than he’s ever looked in the Dope MV. For a while, Jimin is happier with his body. He looks the way he knows an idol is supposed to. 

And then he’s given the starting lines in Blood, Sweat, and Tears and things get hard again. Jimin diets more than he ever has to be ready for the comeback and the concept. He starves himself until he’s passing out every single practice, until the other members sit him down and ask him to stop, beg him to stop. 

Things get okay again, mostly. Jimin doesn’t starve himself anymore, not like he used to. He still has days where he can’t stand to look at himself, but that’s okay, because those days pass. 

Or at least, they usually pass. They’re in the middle of the Wings tour when Jimin starts to spend longer and longer in front of the mirror each day, getting slowly more and more critical of himself again. Things are always harder on tour - it’s harder to find time to exercise and they have to eat more than they normally would to keep their energy up. Not to mention the constant reminders of how in the spotlight he really is, how truely perfect he is expected to be. 

They have one concert left and then a five day break due to travel time and layovers and general exhaustion when things get harder than they’ve been in a long time for Jimin. With every passing show he’s been getting more and more finicky about how he looks. That evening, Jimin messes up more than a few times throughout the concert and that night, getting changed on his own for the first time in a long time, he resolves to eat a little less. Just for a few days. Just until he can get things under his control a little more. 

In the van back to the hotel Jimin’s hyper aware of Jungkook’s arms around his waist. He imagines Jungkook’s hand making contact with the layer of fat that’s replaced the abs he once sported, imagines his boyfriend’s disgust, imagine’s Jungkook leaving him for someone else. Someone better looking, someone thinner than him, less embarrassing than him. Jimin’s torn between wanting to fling Jungkook’s arms off him and not wanting to worry his boyfriend. The logical portion of Jimin’s brain has done this enough times to dissociate from the hurtful thoughts. He knows that they are just that and that he can’t let this thing get in the way of every day life. So he puts up with the uncomfortableness and Jungkook’s head stays rested on his shoulder, blissfully unaware of what’s going on inside Jimin’s own. 

“Anyone wanna order room service?” Taehyung asks in the elevator on the way up to their rooms. “I’m freaking starving.” 

Jimin doesn’t want to order room service, but he’s torn. If he’s the only one who says no, the others might get suspicious. But if he says yes and doesn’t eat anything, it could look worse. Thankfully, Hoseok comes to his rescue. 

“I think I’m gonna go straight to sleep, you guys,” he says. “My need for sleep is outweighing my need for food right now.”

“Same, actually,” Jimin pipes up, seizing his opportunity. “I’m exhausted.” 

The elevator pings to let them know they’ve arrived at their floor and Jungkook pulls Jimin a little to the side.

“Do you want me to sleep in my own room tonight, hyung?” He asks, and he’s really too cute. As much as Jungkook’s trying to sound indifferent, Jimin can tell he’d rather not. “I’m really, really hungry but I don’t want to wake you up when I come back into the room.”

Jimin smiles softly. “It’s fine, Kook. Go and eat. I’m sure I’ll be out like a light when you come back in anyway.”

Jungkook returns his smile. “Okay. Goodnight then, hyung. I’ll see you in the morning.” 

“Night, Jungkookie.”

They go their seperate ways, and by the time he’s back in his room alone, Jimin almost regrets not going with the others. But then he steps into the shower and suddenly he’s naked and all he can think about is the abs that he doesn’t have anymore. By the time he gets into bed and turns off the lights he feels awful, simultaneously wishing Jungkook was there beside him to distract him and glad he isn’t. He wasn’t lying when he said he was exhausted, but mentally, he’s wide awake. 

Jungkook isn’t gone long. He comes back in and puts something in the mini fridge, trying his hardest to be quiet. He strips off everything but his boxers before getting into bed beside Jimin. 

“Hey,” Jimin says quietly, turning to face Jungkook.

“Hey, why aren't you asleep?” Jungkook whispers back. “I brought you some left overs if you’re hungry.” 

“No, I’m okay. I’ve just got a busy brain, I guess.”

“Yeah?” Jungkook asks, reaching up to run his fingers through Jimin’s hair. “Wanna tell me about what’s going on in there?”

“No,” Jimin replies, almost inaudibly. 

Jungkook isn’t phased by his response. “Okay. Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?” 

Jimin sighs and shakes his head against the pillow. “Just a bad night.” As much as he doesn’t want to worry Jungkook, he’d promised him time and time again he’d tell him when things got hard. Last time, Jungkook had begged Jimin through tears to at least let him know when he wasn’t feeling good. It had nearly broken Jimin’s heart to see Jungkook so distressed because of something he had done. He trusts his boyfriend enough to know he won’t push Jimin if he doesn’t have too. 

“Like, a bad eating sort of night?” Jungkook clarifies, eyes narrowing suspiciously. “Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it or anything? That seems to help, sometimes.” 

“Yes, I’m sure.” Jimin replies. “But please don’t worry, Kookie. Let’s just sleep. I’ll feel better in the morning.”

Jungkook nods, taking Jimin’s hand in his own and pulling their entwined fingers to his chest. Jimin appreciates that Jungkook doesn’t try to put his hands around his middle or even touch him too much. He’s respectful of Jimin’s anxiety but still supportive. 

Jimin doesn’t feel better in the morning, though. Jungkook gets up before him, draws the curtains so Jimin’s woken by sunlight streaming into the room, to the smell of coffee Jungkook’s drinking in bed beside him. It’s a nice way to wake up compared to the alarms and the knocking on doors that they usually get in the morning. 

Jungkook smiles sleepily over at him when he sees Jimin’s eyes flutter open. 

“Morning, hyung. Do you want me to order you a hot chocolate? Namjoon mentioned us all having breakfast together, but I’m sure we could have breakfast in bed if you really wanted to.”

Jimin shakes his head, curling inward on himself until his head is almost hidden by the covers. 

Jungkook’s voice floats down to him from the Outside. “Okay, if you wanna get breakfast with the others we should probably get up now though. Hobi-hyung texted and said they were heading down soon.”

“I don’t feel well, Jungkookie. I don’t wanna do anything.”

Jimin knows he shouldn’t be acting like a baby when he’s the hyung, but he also feels sick at the thought of eating pancakes or eggs or any of the rich western style breakfast foods these hotels always serve. 

Jungkook sighs a little. “If you really don’t want to, you don’t have to do anything. But I think it might be good for you, to get out of bed this morning. If you’re still feeling bad we can order you some fruit and yogurt.” 

Jimin stays silent, trying to decide what he wants to do. Jungkook sets his cup on his bedside table and wriggles down under the covers besides Jimin, pulling the blanket up over both of their heads. 

“Hey, you,” Jungkook says, reaching out a thumb to run down Jimin’s face. “What’s got you so down, hm? How can I make you feel better?”

“I just haven’t been feeling good recently, Jungkook. I’m exhausted and I keep messing up on stage and the thought of eating breakfast with the others is making me want to vomit,” Jimin replies shakily, everything coming out faster than he had expected it would. 

“Okay, that’s okay,” Jungkook soothes. “That’s okay. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to, hyungie.” 

Jimin just nods, and they lie there in silence for a while, Jungkook’s thumb still brushing up and down Jimin’s cheekbone, covers still over their heads. 

“How about this,” Jungkook starts. “How about we don’t go and have breakfast with the others. How would you feel about just staying in bed today? We can watch movies and you can read if you wanna, and we can have a bath later, if you’re feeling up to it. We can rest. All you have to do is eat some fruit and yogurt for breakfast and something small at lunchtime. Does that sound okay?”

“Like, some room service?” Jimin asks. 

“Yeah. I’ll order it and you can pick something to watch.” 

“Okay,” Jimin agrees hesitantly. “That sounds okay.” 

They end up rewatching Yuri on Ice. Jimin must have seen it a million times by now, but it never fails to make him smile, so Jungkook’s more than happy to sit through it again. He doesn’t pull Jimin into his arms the way he’d like to but they do lie close together, Jimin’s head resting on Jungkook’s shoulder, their hands clasped tight. 

When the room service arrives Jungkook pauses the TV they’re streaming off and gets up to answer the door. He comes back with two servings of fresh fruit, muesli and yogurt. Jungkook would have loved to order pancakes and bacon, but he doesn’t want to make Jimin feel weird about his own meal. He sets the trays down between them and resumes the show, trying not to make it look like he’s monitoring Jimin. 

Jimin eats all of his fruit, some of his yogurt and not much of his muesli. It’s not much, but it’s more than Jungkook had been expecting. He doesn’t push. He just sets their bowls to the side and pulls Jimin’s hand back into his own. 

They get through four episodes before Jimin starts to nod off again. He’s fast asleep half way through the fifth and so Jungkook pauses the TV again, not wanting Jimin to miss anything. 

With his boyfriend’s head on his shoulder, Jungkook’s movement is limited. Jimin really does seem exhausted, and he doesn’t want to wake him up. After all, it isn’t like Jimin to want to stay in bed all day. He normally puts up a happy front even when he’s feeling his worst. Not that Jungkook minds, though. He’d much rather spend all day napping beside Jimin than watching him struggle through the day, pretending everything’s okay when actually, it’s all falling apart. 

He picks his phone up off his bedside table and dials Namjoon’s number. He hadn’t replied to anyone all day aside from texting one of their managers that morning to let them know Jimin and Jungkook wouldn’t be making an appearance that day. 

Namjoon picks up on the third ring. “Hey, Kook-ah. Where have you two been all day?”

“Jimin hasn’t been feeling well,” Jungkook sighs into the phone. “He’s really, really tired.”

“Not feeling well physically or mentally?”

“Mentally,” Jungkook replies. “I didn’t think it would be a good idea to push him into getting up or anything, in case it made him more tired and things got worse.”

“Sounds like you made a good call, kid. Is he doing okay now? Do you guys need anything?”

“He’s fine. We’re fine, actually. Hopefully he’ll feel better after he gets some rest. I’ll keep you posted though.” 

It’s Namjoon’s turn to sigh this time. “Okay, Kook. But please, please let me know if any of us can help in any way. You don’t have to do this alone, you know.” 

“I know. See you later, hyung.”

“See you Kook-ah.”

Jungkook lets Jimin sleep for another hour before waking him up to eat something for lunch. He’s ordered western style toasted sandwiches and some plain bowls of rice and steamed vegetables, not sure what Jimin feels up to eating. He ends up slowly making his way through half a sandwich and the vegetables. It’s still not enough. But it’s still better than nothing. 

They don’t end up taking a bath together. Jimin seems livelier than he had earlier but he’s still cagey about being touched. Jungkook knows, has learned time and time again, that it’s best not to push him. 

When this thing had first started, Jungkook had been incredibly overbearing in hindsight. He had tried, meal after meal, to force Jimin to eat more than he could stomach, and it had just ended up coming back up, sometimes on purpose and sometimes accidentally. He had tried bribing Jimin with affection and had been on the brink of slipping extra calories into whatever he could get Jimin to keep down, but his hyungs had explained to Jungkook what a truely awful idea that was before he could actually go through with it. Unlike Jungkook, who had, as usual, just jumped headfirst into the situation, Namjoon had done his research. He had sat down with Jungkook many, many times, had explained to him again and again that he couldn’t cure Jimin. Holding back affection, Namjoon had said, would only make things worse. What his boyfriend needed was support, not to feel worse about things. 

And so slowly, Jungkook had learned to be that support person. He resolved to talk to Jimin rather than trying to trick him. Their conversations hadn’t always gone to plan. A lot of the time, Jimin tried his hardest to avoid talking about the subject. Other times, when he opened up to Jungkook, usually both of them would end up sobbing. It was hard for Jungkook to hear what Jimin really thought about himself, and it was harder for Jimin to verbalise it. 

It had taken a lot of months, a lot of half eaten meals and late night snuggles, a lot of tissues, but Jimin had gotten better. And it had been wonderful to watch him start being himself again. 

So now, when Jimin starts to struggle, Jungkook’s usually more prepared. He doesn’t force Jimin to eat. He doesn’t trade sex for finished meals. But he makes sure that when Jimin feels okay again, there’s food available to him, even if it’s only momentarily, for a midnight snack or a granola bar after practice. He reminds Jimin that he is so, so loved and so, so valued. He lets Jimin know that he’s there to talk to if ever and whenever he might feel up to it. 

The next day, Jimin seems to be in a marginally better place. He gets up and goes down to breakfast, even if he doesn’t eat more than he had the morning before. He agrees to go out sightseeing with Jungkook and Taehyung and Hoseok, laughs and giggles, even if he does cling tighter to Jungkook than he normally would. That evening, he still isn’t ready to take a bath with Jungkook. But Jimin changes into his sleep clothes in the same room as him, and Jungkook would consider that better than nothing. 

The third day, they’re flying out to their next location. On the plane, Jimin lets Jungkook wrap his arms around him and hold him close while they snuggle under the provided blankets and watch movies Jungkook’s downloaded onto his laptop. They’ve learned by now that it’s easier than trying to sync up their in-flight entertainment screens to play the same thing at the same time. 

After their second consecutive movie they put the laptop away and move even closer to each other. The plane is dark and quiet and the sliding plastic window covers have been pulled down. Jungkook’s hands stroke through Jimin’s hair. He whispers the sweetest nothings he can think of, murmuring about how much he loves Jimin, how beautiful he is, inside and out. How he loves Jimin’s soul more than he could ever love his face, and how he’ll continue to love that soul no matter how he looks. He reminds Jimin that even Jungkook himself doesn’t have abs 24/7, that they disappear after a big meal, or a few weeks off from the gym. Jimin falls asleep somewhere in the middle, and although he isn’t out for long Jungkook knows its enough to throw off his sleep schedule. 

So he isn’t surprised when Jimin steps out of his shower once they reach the hotel, changes and pads softly over to the bed where Jungkook’s been sitting since after his own shower, plopping down in front of Jungkook. 

“I think I’m ready to talk now,” Jimin says, and his voice is soft like it has been for the past few days, only this is a different kind of soft. This is a preserve the quiet kind of soft, not the nothing left to say kind. 

Jungkook sets his phone to the side and reaches for Jimin, who lets himself be pulled inward. They end up leaning against the pillows but facing each other. Comfortable but alert. 

“I’m sorry,” Jimin starts. “For worrying you these past days. I know you’ve been trying to give me space and I’m grateful for that. But I know how you feel when I get like this and I’m sorry I’m always putting you through it.”

Jungkook doesn’t say anything. Jimin knows Jungkook would do this again and again, would spend the rest of his life doing this with Jimin if he had to. For all of Jimin’s doubts, Jungkook’s love and commitment is rarely one of them. 

“I feel like I’ve been messing up a lot, and I think it’s just because I’ve been tired. I think everything got really overwhelming and I started feeling how my body associates with not wanting to eat only I didn’t realise that’s why I’ve been feeling so gross until now.” Jimin pauses, and this time it’s him who reaches out to Jungkook’s face, tucking a piece of damp hair behind his ear. “I feel a lot better now that I’m rested though. Not 100 percent, but still better.” 

“Thank you for being so loving and so incredibly faithful, Kookoo. You’re getting so grown up and it makes me really, really proud.”

“You’re the one you should be proud of, Jiminie-hyung. You know yourself so much better than you used to. It’s pretty amazing, to be honest,” Jungkook replies. And he means every word.

They spend the evening in much the same way they’ve spent the majority of their evenings together. They wrap each other up and keep each other warm and they fall asleep, safe in the knowledge that they are loved, even when they might not love themselves.