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He Opens His Mouth (But the Words Don't Come Out)

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Sometimes Namjoon has days. They’re not good ones. They’re days where his head feels warped and he can’t focus on one thing because his mind would rather run a marathon. On those days he worries about everything: what to wear, what to say, where to go, who to be.

The minute Namjoon wakes up he knows it’s going to be one of those days.

It’s just a feeling. A feeling he can’t shake, like there’s this cloud hanging over him waiting to rain. And sure, Namjoon’s had a lot of experience with these types of days but that doesn’t make it any easier when he actually has to deal with them. He’s tried everything he can think of. At first he just tried to push the thoughts away, tried to step out of his mind into the world around him. But that’s a lot easier said than done and even when he does accomplish it, the feeling doesn’t last very long, maybe a few minutes at most. Which, maybe would be fine if he wasn’t a global idol, if the world wasn’t watching, if he didn’t have the rest of his group depending on him.

So now he takes medication to help. They had been prescribed to him after a particularly embarrassing breakdown during their Beijing concert last year in which he could barely perform. There had been so many issues leading up to that concert that when the time came to actually perform, Namjoon just couldn’t. None of the issues were his fault of course, and obviously nobody would want to have him perform mid-anxiety attack, but he still couldn’t shake that he had let so many fans down. He remembers reading the tweets from fans and how disappointed they were and he had secretly vowed that he never wanted to make them feel that way again.

So he agreed to take the meds. They are supposed to help, and they do. Namjoon has better control over his anxiety these days and the attacks are more spread out. He spends less days as depressed Namjoon, worrying and not wanting to get out of bed and more time as RM, global idol, leader and producer. But there’s still a part of him that hates taking them. Objectively, he knows that he’s not any less of a person for taking them, knows that this mental illness he faces isn’t his fault, knows that BangPD and the other members still view him with respect. But the perfectionist within him still screams at him to stop using a crutch, stop pitying himself and get up and walk the pain off. Yet he doesn’t because without his “crutch” days like these would be every day and not just some days.

Namjoon groans as he sits up, trying to clear some of the fog out of his head at the same time he tries to clear the alarm on his phone. It’s way too early, kind of. They’re in LA and it’s 4am, so technically it’s noon in Korea but his body hasn’t had time to completely adjust to the time difference so he’s stuck in this weird time between the two that leaves him exhausted. Simply put, he’s jetlagged as fuck. It doesn’t help that he stayed up last night working on more music. It doesn’t matter that they are currently promoting the album they had just dropped because they always start working on the next album before the finished one is even released. That is just their grind.

Namjoon is scrolling through Twitter on his phone, hoping the blue light will help him wake up when he feels Hoseok stir next to him. Yeah, they have enough money to book separate rooms now, and they do sometimes, but it’s only for appearances. Hoseok sits up and pulls Namjoon into him, kissing Namjoon’s cheek lightly, “Morning, babe.” His voice is scratchy like it always is when he first wakes up in the morning.

“Good morning,” Namjoon twists his head to peck Hoseok on the lips before returning his eyes to his Twitter feed. Their social media is always crazy during comeback time. His timeline is flooded with people reacting to their album, talking about their positions on numerous charts, their performance at the BBMas, and a barage of interviews.

Hoseok gently removes Namjoon’s phone from his hand, “Baby, put the phone down so you can kiss me properly,” and before he can even move on his own accord, Namjoon finds himself pulled right on top of Hoseok. He leans down and kisses his boyfriend, a proper good morning kiss this time, lips moving together slowly. There’s something about kissing Hoseok that just relaxes him, clears his head. He sometimes wishes they could stay like this forever: cuddled together under warm blankets and sharing long kisses.

Hoseok is the first to pull away and Namjoon lets out a needy whine before scooting down and laying his head on the other man’s chest. He lets out a soft sigh as he feels Hoseok running his fingers through his hair.

“How are you feeling today?” Hoseok asks and then proceeds to bite on his lip. He doesn’t need to ask to know that Namjoon isn’t in his best mindset. After years of living with each other, there are things that the members just know about each other. Certain telltale signs that key into each person’s mood. But Hoseok wants to know where exactly Namjoon’s head is today, needs to know how concerned he should be.

All Namjoon does is shrug and say, “Not good,” while he traces a pattern onto Hoseok’s chest. And so Hoseok knows that today is definitely not a good day. Being less verbal is one of Namjoon’s telltale signs. On the best bad days, Namjoon is able to assess how he’s feeling and articulate it and for the most part work through his thoughts on his own to calm himself down. On good bad days he might not be able to calm himself down, but he’s able to at least explain what he’s feeling. On bad bad days it’s like he’s forgotten how to speak. And on the worst days, Hoseok doesn’t even need to ask because Namjoon’s emotions will write themselves across his face and through his body.

“Can you sit up please?” Hoseok asks gently. It’s demanding but not in a rude way. He knows Joon is only behaving like this because Namjoon actually feels comfortable enough to let down his walls around him, trusts him enough because he knows Hoseok won’t force him to act like he’s fine when he’s not. He does that enough as it is and is going to have to put up that facade again as soon as he leaves the comfort of their room. Hoseok knows this, and so he knows that there’s a thin line between trying to get Namjoon to talk to him and pay attention to him without pushing Joon too far.

Namjoon sighs and sits up in Hoseok’s lap, still tracing patterns into the only slightly older man’s chest. It’s become somewhat of a nervous habit when they’re having conversations like these. Conversations he knows are good in the long run but still hates anyways.

Hoseok doesn’t force Joon to look up at him. He knows that on days like these Namjoon’s first instinct is to protect himself and part of that protection is avoiding eye contact. “Can you explain a bit more for me, baby. What’s going on in that head of yours? What’s bothering you?”

Namjoon lets out a heavy sigh, “A lot. And everything. There’s just a lot of things going on and I’m tired and I would rather be back home taking a walk near the Han River than answering another question about who we want to collab with.” He lets out a bitter laugh.

And Hoseok totally understands. Comeback season is crazy for all of them and he can’t even imagine what it’s like for Namjoon. There’s a lot of added pressure now that they’re becoming more successful in America. As the leader and the only truly fluent English speaker in the group, Namjoon naturally takes a lot more of that added pressure on himself. Hoseok rubs soft circles on his boyfriend’s back, “It’s ok, Joon-ah. We’re almost done with promotions here and we’ll be back home before you know it. I promise we can go have a picnic by Han River as soon as we get back home. Just take it as easy today as possible. Let us help you, baby. Let us know if you need help.”

Hoseok thinks Namjoon is one of the strongest people he knows. Sometimes too strong, he thinks. The leader tends to take the whole world on his shoulders and even though Hoseok believes that he can, doesn’t mean Namjoon should. Joon often forgets that just because he can do everything on his own, can swallow his emotions down far enough most days, doesn’t mean he should. And so that’s why Hoseok encourages Namjoon to fall apart sometimes. He’s not a psychologist or anything but he remembers reading something once about needing to be “weak” sometimes so that you can be “strong” for longer. Maybe it’s just pop psychology but Hoseok still stands by it anyways.

~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~

It’s been a long day of interviews. So far they’ve interviewed with the Zach Sang Show, the Mess, and now they’re in the middle of an interview with Radio.com. As far as promotions go, it’s not the worst day they’ve ever had. In fact, Namjoon was pleasantly surprised when Zach had interviewed them and had actually talked about their music and their UNICEF project. He understands that the media was rarely ever going to give them 100% and their relationship was more like a symbiotic relationship between a parasite and an animal (the media being the parasite). He knows not to expect much, and definitely nothing in the realm of friendship. It was the same in Korea, too. Everything was just business. But he is always pleasantly surprised when the interviewers went out of their way to make them feel comfortable.

But even though it is a good day, Namjoon is still exhausted. It has still been a week full of interviews that weren’t as pleasant as the ones they were having today and Namjoon’s head is still not where he needed it to be.

They are sitting down for the interview, about to shoot another segment. Hoseok is by his side. He has pretty much insisted on being near Namjoon all day and Namjoon is greatful. Hoseok always tries to take the stress off of him by lightning the atmosphere. To others, he may seem crazy but Namjoon appreciates the way Hoseok tried to make everything a bit more...normal. All in all, things are going ok.

So that’s why it feels like he’s hit out of nowhere when he suddenly can’t speak.

They’ve just started the interview for the Ask Me Anything segment. The question is simple: What are three qualities you look for in a potential date? It’s a typical question, nothing they’ve never heard before. Jimin starts to answer and it’s not that complicated of an answer but for some reason Namjoon can’t find the words in English.

And it's like if his mind was a blackboard, someone had came and erased everything. He can't find the words to say what he wants and he feels himself stuttering, stumbling. He can feel everyone looking at him with expectancy but this time he just can't meet their expectations. He gives a defeated sigh.

Hoseok immediately steps in, “Can you please translate?” He asks the translator, trying not to glare or come across too angry. But this man is supposed to be doing his job instead of watching Namjoon flounder.

Namjoon turns to him, “I-I just couldn’t figure out the right word,” and Hoseok can see the panic in his eyes. Something comes over him and he just feels an overwhelming need to protect Joon. The whole point of having a translator in the first place is so that Namjoon doesn’t have to. He taps Namjoon’s knee, reaching for the microphone and practically snatching it out of his boyfriend’s hands. At the end of the day, either the rest of the members can speak the English they know, the fans will translate, or the translator will do his fucking job. Either way, it’s not worth Namjoon exhausting himself or beating himself up for.

The rest of the interview goes fine and somehow the microphone eventually ends up back in Namjoon’s hand but he’s able to keep it together for the rest of the interview. He acts as if nothing has happened but Hoseok can feel the tension coming in waves off of his body.

So really, it’s no surprise to him when as soon as the interview is over, Namjoon says something about the bathroom and quickly disappears.

Just get to the bathroom. It’s all Namjoon can think about as he struggles to keep his emotions under control. He absolutely hates breaking down in front of people. The last thing he wants is to break down in front of a bunch of strangers, a bunch of foreigners who don’t really know anything about him. He’s always telling the other members to be professional and he feels like a hypocrite for not doing it himself.

He reaches the bathroom and immediately closes the door behind him, slides down and curls in on himself, praying that no one walks in on him. He can already see it now: headlines about Kim Namjoon’s rumored breakdown in America.

God he fucking hates it. He’s not sure what the worst part is. He feels his chest constrict and suddenly he can’t breath. It’s like his body forgets what oxygen is and he’s gasping for air as if he just came up from under the water. Tears leak from his eyes and that’s another part of these stupid attacks that he hates: the uncontrollable crying.

It makes him feel like a baby. Like he’s pathetic and weak and incapable of doing the simplest things.

There’s a knock on the door which just sends Namjoon into further panic because, oh my god someone really is going to see him like this.

“Joonie, baby. It’s me. Can you move away from the door so I can come in? I don’t want to hurt you.” There’s a slight push to the door but Namjoon’s weight against it forces it shut.

Namjoon doesn’t move because he’s pretty sure he doesn’t want anyone to see him like this, even Hoseok. He feels like a burden. He doesnt think that Hoseok should be spending all of his time looking after him and making sure he’s ok as if he’s some fragile piece of glass always seconds away from cracking. Namjoon is the leader. He’s supposed to be the one who holds his shit together when stupid things like this happen. He’s supposed to be the one who comforts, not the one who needs comforting. It doesn’t matter to him that the other members already know he struggles. Just because they know doesn’t mean he should and doesn’t mean that they should see him like this.

“Baby, please.” Hoseok pleads from outside the door.

“No! I d-don’t want you to see me.” Namjoon yells from his place on the floor. Sometimes he wishes Hoseok would just leave him alone. Let him fall apart without putting the pieces back together afterwards.

“Just let me in Joonie so we can talk about it. I promise I’m not going to judge you. Just want to help you.”

And for some reason that’s enough for Namjoon to move away from the door. Maybe it’s because deep down he really doesn’t want to actually be alone. Instead, he really just wants someone to hold him and tell him it’s going to be alright. Besides his mother, there’s not really anyone else that will do that for him without being asked except Hoseok. So he slides away from the door, just enough so that Hoseok can slip through the crack.

It doesn’t take long before Hoseok is sitting down next to him, his back against the door like Namjoon’s used to be. Namjoon crawls into Hoseok’s lap and lays his head in the crook of Hoseok’s neck and shoulder. Hoseok can feel the wet tears hit his skin as Namjoon sobs through his anxiety attack. He hears the gasps for air as he rubs soft circles on Namjoon’s back as he tries to hush the noises coming from his boyfriend.

They sit there for a while, just in silence as they wait out Namjoon’s anxiety. When they had first started dating, Hoseok had sometimes tried to talk him through it. It didn’t take him long to figure out that it didn’t really help and sometimes just made it worse. So they sat in silence, Hoseok holding Namjoon tightly, pressing loving touches into his skin and leaving light kisses on the top of his head. Everything he needed to say he could say through physical affection.

Eventually Namjoon starts to quiet and calm down. Hoseok can literally feel the tension leaving the other man’s body, like a balloon deflating. Namjoon has always described anxiety attacks as a really bad adrenaline rush, with everything surging forward at once until he was too drained to really feel anything at all. Hoseok knows the worst of it is over when Joon lets out a little sigh and relaxes completely.

“Feeling better?” Hoseok whispers softly. There’s no need to say it loudly when his mouth is so close to Namjoon’s ear. Maybe if they were in a different situation he would suck Namjoon’s earlobe into his mouth.

Namjoon nods and sits up, “I’m ok, thank you. I’m sorry.” He fiddles nervously with his fingers and doesn’t look Hoseok in the eyes.

But Hoseok lifts his chin up and presses a small kiss to Namjoon’s lips, which indirectly forces Namjoon to look at him, “You have nothing to apologize for.”

Namjoon shrugs, “I know you think that but I just feel like I messed up really badly.”

“You didn’t mess up Joon-ah. If anyone messed up it was that translator who should have been doing his job in the first place.” Hoseok scoffs. “It’s ok if you rely on him a bit more. That’s what he’s there for anyways.”

“I know but I just hate relying on the translators. They always mess things up and leave things out. Like that one time we were trying to use gender neutral pronouns and he just changed it to ‘girl.’ That stuff feels important. People already twist our words enough and are looking for us to misspeak. I feel like a translator just increases our chances of being misunderstood,” he huffs, annoyed. “Plus I just know us. Like, you know how Taehyung and Jungkook sometimes don’t even form coherent sentences. I can understand that but a translator would just be lost.”

Hoseok laughs because it’s true. Taehyung and Jungkook are known for saying a lot of things that don’t make sense. They all have weird things they do when they speak, but those two especially. But still, “That’s ok. When stuff like that happens, sure you can translate. But I just don’t think you need to run yourself into the ground trying to translate every word verbatim. Besides, the fans will catch the mistakes the translator makes. I really don’t think you need to worry.”

Namjoon sighs, “I know. You’re right. I just get so caught up in everything sometimes.”

“That’s why you need to come to us, babe. So we can help you get out of your own head. I know it’s hard for you to see things objectively when you’re like this. That’s why I want you to trust us, Okay?”

Namjoon nods, “Okay...Thank you.”

Hoseok kisses his forehead sweetly, “No problem. Now let’s get you cleaned up and get out of here.”

Namjoon gets off of him and helps Hoseok stand up. Hoseok leads him over to the sink and helps him wash his face, clearing it of all the salty tear stains. He dabs Joon’s face dry with a paper towel, then tosses away and helps Namjoon straighten out his clothes. He does the same for himself, making sure to put a few places of stray hair back into place. Then he turns back to Namjoon, “Ready?”

And yeah, Namjoon thinks he is. He won’t give up that easy.

~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~

“Joon, you cannot seriously be cold.”

“I don’t know why you keep telling me it isn’t cold when it clearly is. Why are you making fun of me?”

“Because it’s literally summer, Joon-ah. But you’re acting like this is the middle of winter, pulling your jacket up like that.”

“Well temperatures fluctuates, regardless of whether it’s summer or not. Maybe you just picked the coldest night in summer. Also, have you ever heard of a river breeze? My temperature is completely valid.”

“Stop giving me science lesson and eat your jjajangmyeon. Maybe it will warm you up, frosty.” Hoseok teases.

It’s been a month since that day. Even after that day in the bathroom, Namjoon still struggled to ask the translator step in when necessary. But Hoseok could see that Namjoon was trying. They both know that even though Hoseok and the other members are there to support him, at the end of the day the journey is Namjoon’s. He doesn’t have to take the journey alone, but that the progress he makes won’t necessarily be because of anything they do or say but because of Namjoon’s own strength. They would never be able to make the load disappear, but they could help him carry it from time to time.

They’re sitting in the grass at a park near the Han River. Their promotions are done for the most part so they’ve been spending their days preparing for the World Tour and working on the next album. Hoseok had practically had to drag Namjoon out of the studio to take him on this promised picnic. Usually it's the other way around, with Namjoon being the one to pull them out into the sun so that they can both find some inspiration for songs.

“Hey babe,” Namjoon whispers. They’ve finished eating and now they’re leaning against a tree, watching people go by. Namjoon has a weird thing for people watching, tries to figure out people's thoughts and feelings just by observing them. And honestly, Hoseok couldn’t care less about what other people are doing with their lives when he has so much going on in his own. But he gets a kick out of it every now and then when someone trips or spills something on themselves. Maybe he shouldn’t laugh but he does anyways.

“Do you think that lady knows that her dog can’t actually talk back to her?” Hoseok looks where Namjoon has directed his attention. And sure, people talk to their animals all the time but there is something about the way this woman is talking to her dog that looks like she’s having a full conversation. Hoseok can’t hold back his laughter and neither can Namjoon.

They’re both laughing so hard that sounds can barely come out and Hoseok can’t help but think Namjoon looks beautiful smiling like this, like there has never been a weight on his shoulders. He knows that sometimes he’ll be around for Namjoon’s bad bad days and sometimes he won't, but he hopes that he will be there to see all of Namjoon’s smiles on his best good days.