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Atoms and Empty Space

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The beginnings are the toughest, he thinks. Min Yoongi lives music, the beats underneath the earth and the tremor of the synth in the wind, and what he does not have time for is arrival. It's like waking up at noon, the day already in progress around him, sounds and smells washing across his senses before he has time to catalogue them all. He is simply living, simply breathing, simply mixing the lines, and it's all easy.

Except finding the beginnings. Re-tracing those lost hours, those early melodies, the snatches of hesitant promise is impossible, and he hates that he will never produce something that's fully complete.

And now he's come to rue that lack once more, because Jimin is staring at him, eyes full of pain, and Yoongi knows he is once again in the middle of something that he didn't realize had begun.

So tug on the threads and see what can be found.

"I don't dance," says Yoongi, arched and casual while his fingers drum under the table.

They're in a raised booth, the VIP section, and that's what the girls hovering over him see, not Min Yoongi in faded jeans and a knit cap, nursing a cheap beer. He can tell it by the way their eyes slide over him on their way to another place. These girls live class, designer bags and high-money heels, and that's fine, but he doesn't much feel like appreciating in value tonight.

The girls - hot, confident, and in control - pout and protest, but that's a dance, too. The music pounds behind them, grotesquely syncing to their movements, and Yoongi smiles against his will even as their gazes flutter away.

He sees Hoseok roll his eyes, but so subtly that it could have been anything. He's Yoongi's oldest, unlikeliest friend, and he's more than used to picking up his slack.

Hoseok stands, grinning like a shark as he says, "But I couldn't bear to see such beautiful women not having fun."

He holds out both hands, smooth and graceful, and draws them toward the stairs. He spares only a single look back at the table, and Yoongi can see the exasperation buried underneath the expansive charm.

Yoongi flips him off and takes another drink.

Next to him, Namjoon chuckles, but not mean-spiritedly. Not that it would matter. Namjoon is his boss, and the reason they're in this booth. He owns the company so rates the treatment, and Yoongi makes him money so gets invited along. But no matter how casual the setting, Yoongi never forgets that this is now a man who holds his employment in his hands, and Namjoon likes it that way.

Still, Yoongi's never gotten the hang of employment. "Got something to say?"

Namjoon's smile tightens, expression changing from organic to carved, and Yoongi knows he's nearing the line. But Namjoon lives business, and he says lightly, "Just surprised at the rejection. You don't, as a rule."

Yoongi grunts, a little irritated because he's right. Usually he would have gone, because he dances just fine, and the pretty people are one of the few things he likes in this place. But something about tonight was scratching at him, and when Hoseok had called the girls to him with only a look, and they'd come without even a stutter, the world had turned unspeakably sad.

"Against my morals," he says instead. "I don't dance to shittily mixed songs. You hear that horn line? It's drowning out the entire percussive theme."

"That's not -" begins Namjoon, then his eyes lose focus and the corners of his mouth draw down. "You're right. Not one of ours, right?"

"Boss, I check every song that goes out the door, even if it's not assigned to me," says Yoongi. "I can't have shit like this on my conscience."

And Namjoon's shoulders loosen as he laughs, just as Yoongi intended, because he is the boss, and Yoongi does more than his job, and those two things have shot RM Entertainment to heights that even their investors couldn't believe. It keeps Namjoon sharply handsome in his tailored suits, looking like a CEO and receiving VIP tables, and it keeps Yoongi's mind and hands busy, away from most of his more destructive impulses.

Like the one that wants to reach out and put his fingers on Namjoon's steady wrist, to feel the pulse and know if something beats there besides economy.

But Namjoon is straight, painfully and completely. They've known each other a long time, built sonic rockets out of musical trash heaps and learned each other's souls, but no one has ever learned a person well enough for that.

As if on cue a bright-eyed woman steals into the booth on Namjoon's other side, sliding across the leather like a knife into a sheath, and kisses him on the cheek. She gives Yoongi a friendly smile when she's done, genuine and full of welcome, apologizing for whatever lovers apologize for. It burns Yoongi that she should welcome him to their space, that the presumption is that he's the outsider, but Namjoon slips a hand around her waist and kisses her more thoroughly and what the hell? Maybe Yoongi is.

Maybe he'll actually end up learning this one's name.

More people follow her, like an overwhelmed dam, and the night loses its sharp edges. Employees and friends and strangers pour in and out of the booth, and Yoongi dances with the men and women who present themselves for his approval. He dances with Hoseok, which is more a lesson, and with a new makeup artist who smiles sweetly and makes him feel a lot older than twenty-nine. The cheap beers keep him in the moment, and he even dances with Namjoon's girlfriend, who talks as she moves and tries to draw him into the conversation with surprising deftness.

He's glad when that song is over, tired of dodging the traps of her sincerity. Namjoon raises an eyebrow at them when Yoongi leads her up to their table, and he frowns as he tries to decipher the message. But she's next to him shaking her head, receiving it in his place. So Yoongi moves over to the neon bar where more people greet him with enthusiasm.

He smiles widely at them when they make room, the stretch in his cheeks wandering towards the headache in his temples.

The bartender is passing shots in between the stories that the young marketers are telling, and Yoongi is being genuinely entertained by the head of the department's rendition of a recent advertising meeting when Hoseok plops down in the next seat. His hair is matted with sweat and he's breathing heavily, but the sunshine on his face never dims as he orders as many waters as the bartender can carry.

The marketing story ends with a satisfactory punchline, and Hoseok throws an arm around him. The younger man drains a drink and smacks his lips. "Great night, hm?"

Yoongi adjusts his cap and nods, pleasantly buzzed and a little sleepy.

"Namjoon is worried about you."

At that he's wide awake, electric and humming, and his fingers drum on the bar again. He slips a glance at Hoseok, who's still draped across his shoulders and must feel the tension, but he's chasing the straw in his next glass with his lips and indicates nothing.

When Yoongi doesn't say anything, Hoseok adds out of the corner of his mouth, "Aren't you going to ask what he's worried about?"

"If I tried to keep up with everything you mother hens fuss over, I'd explode," said Yoongi. "It's all you do."

He shifts so Hoseok's arm falls away, and the other man swivels his stool so that he can see the dance floor. He leans back against the bar on two elbows, water in one hand and the other tapping rhythmically against his side as he studies the bodies in front of him. Yoongi had brought Hoseok in to choreograph almost as soon as it started, and he was another employee who never really left his work behind.

"No one needs to worry about me," says Yoongi, even though he knows it's pointless.

Hoseok snorts, then tilts his head back and laughs. "I wish more people would help out, actually. It's kind of a full-time job."

Yoongi scrunches into himself, tugging the edges of his shirt down and over his fingers before tilting his glass back to finish the remnants. He won't have to worry about his tab at least, not at a company function. Namjoon has them covered.

"Going home," he mumbles, hopping down from the stool and putting a couple of crumpled dollars on the counter. The nearby booth is packed with people plying Namjoon, sweat and colognes all blend together under the lights, and the music is still shittily mixed.

Hoseok grabs his sleeve and sighs. "Yoongi, when are you going to let it go? Can't you set down this heavy… thing you're carrying, for once?"

He doesn't want to look at the table anymore so he keeps his eyes on the dance floor. He doesn't feel overburdened. And isn't everyone heavy, in some way or another? Yoongi can sense their gravity around him, pulling and pushing and wanting. The whole place is weight, desperation for things they don't have sinking into the darkness. Smiles stretched out over loneliness, music moving around the empty hearts, never finding purchase. Even the laughter is lead-lined, everywhere he looks.

His eyes travel over the room, trying to learn what it could mean to be light, when he sees a figure dancing at the edge of the crowd. Unlike the rest of them it isn't falling towards or away, staying contained on its own axis. The body is compact, dressed entirely in black, with no wasted space or color to unbalance it. It's a closed circuit, graceful and intricate, and Yoongi can see how perfectly it relies only upon itself.

It - no he - is part of a group, sometimes touching and glancing off, sometimes smiling at a joke, sometimes falling back into the beat. His friends are looking up at the VIP area, pointing and yearning, but this person has lost himself so fully in dance that Yoongi wouldn't be surprised if he faded away like a ghost, a gossamer thread into the pulsing lights.

That's what it would feel like, he understands, but as Namjoon's barking laugh floats above the breakdown he feels like a scientist studying an alien species.

"Genius is suffering," he says to Hoseok, but he says it gently.

Hoseok lets him go, even more gently, and as Yoongi waves his goodbyes and makes his way through the crowd, the figure in black is still moving. He doesn't stop, doesn't even pause, but before Yoongi moves out of sight the man smiles at him, bright and shining, and Yoongi takes a small piece of light with him out of the door.

"God, you're hot."

Yoongi grins into the dimness, leaning his head back against the brick wall as lips whisper over the pulse-line in his neck. The hands skimming under his shirt have rough, calloused fingertips, and they flutter with indecision, trapped between the line of his pants and the heat of his skin. He'd wondered a little with this guy, the directionality of his desire, but now that they're here it's crystalline simplicity.

"So are you," he murmurs, dragging the boy's mouth up to his own. "Hot onstage, hotter here."

The kiss deepens, and Yoongi loses himself inside of it.

Just another night as a talent scout.

Dohyun is the drummer in a local band, up-and-coming enough to hit RM Entertainment's radar. Most places sought individual talent, looking to build groups out of polished components. They did some of that, too, for pop, but Yoongi and Namjoon had come up underground and they knew there were hungry acts, already formed, just waiting to be discovered. And so Yoongi had been dispatched, a hunter among the hungry.

Luckily Human Element is good, good enough for him to do this without any guilt at all.

"Hey," he says in a break for breath, pulling on Dohyun's artfully spiked hair to get him to stop searching for his mouth and eliciting a growl that Yoongi files away for later perusal. "Hey. You know you're coming in for a trial with or without this, yeah? And my boss is the one who makes the call, not me?"

A puff of hair hits his cheek when Dohyun scoffs. "Jesus. Yes, you've said that maybe a hundred thousand times already."

The fluttering hands knead Yoongi's skin, learning his ribs by feel, and Yoongi shivers. Lips find his pulse once more, and a vibration against the skin adds, "Trust me, I was going to fuck you until you screamed the minute you said hello. You being Min Yoongi just makes it that much better."

It's Yoongi's turn to growl, dropping his hands to cup a leather-clad ass. "Promises, promises."

But as Dohyun strips off Yoongi's faded cotton shirt, admiring the banded tattoos on his bicep, he's glad he said it again. He's got rules about this, more than most would believe of someone with his reputation - age, and sobriety, and making sure that everyone knows what exactly is being traded, which is nothing. Of course, hotness is prerequisite for success when it comes to entertainment, so the dove-tail remains, but he doesn't hook up with talent in club bathrooms to give them false hope. He'd been there, once, after all.

No, he does it because it's melting and wild and drowning like an ocean. He does it because they'll all have to learn someday, what it is to fumble through the motions. And he does it because people want him, which is sometimes hard to remember these days.

Namjoon knows the rules, too. When he'd found Yoongi unwrapping a pre-idol in his sound studio a few days before her contract signing, he'd gone through the roof. In the expansive new office he'd invented, a place of glass and curves that shook with the shouting, their partnership came closer to ending than it ever had. Namjoon had been furious about the scandal when they'd just become successful, incredulous at Yoongi's shrugs at his every question, and near apoplectic when Yoongi told him it wasn't exactly the first time.

Yoongi remembers it so clearly, even now. Namjoon's hair had been light blue-gray, a business upgrade to his former fashion, and the Rolex on his wrist had been new enough that he'd touched it between sentences. The anger had been a physical thing between them, but it was cold like money, coins and paper without life, and he'd searched Namjoon's rugged face for hints of deeper anger, of shock, of something hot.

In the end it hadn't been there, but the roots of their friendship, the days spent in shared flats with no food in the cupboard, being the only thing they could count on still existing in the morning, had. It was enough, and Yoongi had resolved that it always would be.

When Namjoon had asked for a full list, and Yoongi had given it without blinking, he'd even cracked a final, dimpled smile. "You apparently only sleep with our most popular artists," he'd said. "I should add talent scout to your duties."

Dohyun's fingers scrabble over his belt, and Yoongi shatters into the present like hitting glass.

"Did you lock the door?" asks Dohyun, breathing hard.

Yoongi can't remember, but it doesn't matter. "Only the owner comes back here, and he knows better. It's just us, sweetheart."

The boy cuts him a wicked look, full of stars and demons, and Yoongi looks down at his slim drummer's fingers as they unhook the buckle. Lips meet once more, tongues sliding, and the pounding of unwritten music is a distant friend to his heart.

The door swings open, bringing lights and sounds and the laughing bodies of three men who stop in the door.

Yoongi knows they're in the shadows, but not that deep, and Dohyun stills immediately, hiding his face in Yoongi's bare chest. Some smart, professional manager has already gotten to this group, taught them the things they need to know, and that will serve them well. But Yoongi's face is out, and he doesn't really care, so he waits to see what will happen next.

The men all giggle, because really they're almost boys, too, but to his relief it's a soft sound that means he won't be having to call Namjoon about an incident tonight.

The tallest one, in the back, says, "Sorry, just looking to wash up."

The middle one shushes him, then glances at Yoongi and laughs again. They're drunk and happy, and glitter is across their faces in rainbow waves. "We'll go," he says, yanking them back.

"Don't let us stop you," says Yoongi conversationally. "If you're smart enough to find this place, you deserve to use it."

"Same goes for you," says the tall one. He waves his hand, emperor-commanding, as he turns toward the mirror and lets the door swing closed. "As you were."

Yoongi glances down at Dohyun, who looks like he might start laughing but doesn't seem distressed. When Yoongi raises an eyebrow, curious and turned on, the boy chuckles outright and leans up to kiss him again.

The men at the mirror chatter carelessly, running water on and off and flicking it at each other like a pool party. Yoongi moves forward to whisper in Dohyun's ear, simple nothings in a graveled voice that makes shuddery waves of them both, but it's really an excuse to look at the intruders, to memorize them and judge them in case this really does turn into a problem.

But as he does, he realizes that the third one, the shortest, isn't saying anything at all. He's staring in the mirror right at them, familiar in some half-hidden way, and their eyes meet before Yoongi's given himself permission to acknowledge him. The eyes are wide and dark and intensely interested, enhanced with liner and subtle shadows, eyes that know exactly who they are.

They know him, too, not like a picture but like an X-ray. It's like being a page in a book, being read and understood and memorized in a moment, and those breath-stealing eyes make Yoongi light-headed. He feels like he's run a marathon, suddenly, inside this room.

Then they crinkle at the corners as the man licks his lips, and it's the best sex Yoongi's ever had. He feels himself stiffen fully, but he doesn't mind. This is a show, and Yoongi performs nearly all of the time.

He pulls Dohyun back up, kissing him in earnest, letting their wet, private sounds turn public. The boy melts into him, turning boneless under his touch, and the room vanishes inside of the harsh gasps and moans, the way it feels to be so desired in dim shadows. His mind floats away, but he can feel the heavy gaze balancing him out, keeping him grounded even as he wants to fly.

The door creaks and Yoongi's eyes snap open, but it's just the boys leaving. The tall one waves, the middle one applauds, and the short one looks back over his shoulder as the door closes. The darkness of his stare stays longer, and when Dohyun says, laughing, "I never heard you were an exhibitionist," Yoongi doesn't smile.

"I want your mouth on me," he says instead.

"Mmmm," Dohyun hums. "Then can I fuck you?"

"You can do whatever the fuck you want to me," says Yoongi, and he means it like apathy but Dohyun hears it like sex, and that's well enough Yoongi supposes. Because Dohyun is on his knees, and Yoongi's head is back against the brick again, and things are going the way that they always go.

Yoongi praises Dohyun for the rest of the night, but all he's seeing behind his lids are piercing eyes that know the entire world.