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The first time Namjoon sees the lightly-worn yellow sweater he can barely feel his fingers, let alone his fingertips. It’s the middle of January. The heater at the dorm is broken. The cold is so pervasive that even wearing his ill-fitting winter coat inside doesn’t keep him from morphing into some strange half-human half-icicle being before he even sets foot outside. It’s been days since his internal organs have been anything more than ‘lukewarm’. It’s been longer since his limbs have been above ‘warm’.

It’s so cold, he’s so cold, and the sweater looks like summer hung on a cheap metal hanger. He’s drawn to it, a moth drawn to a lighted window and the promise of warmth. It’s not until his hand closes on the soft, yellow fabric that he sees his hyung was reaching for it too, and then it’s too late. Yoongi has his hand pulled back behind his head, fiddling with the fold of his toque as if to say I’ve never seen a sweater before in my life let alone reached for one.

Namjoon feels guilt thread through his gut.

(They are at the thrift store because Namjoon is a growing boy and as a growing boy he’s, well, growing. When he arrived at the dorms he had the dubious honour of being both the youngest and the shortest, and he’d stayed that way until a scant month ago. It happened overnight. When he fell asleep his clothing fit, and when he blinked awake his pants were showing an inch of ankle, his wrists hung out of his sleeves by at least two, and Yoongi, the shortest of his hyungs, was looking up at him.

Namjoon hadn’t considered the fact that he might one day be taller than any of his hyungs. He wasn’t sure he liked the idea.

Yoongi seemed just as surprised as Namjoon by this turn of events. For a full two seconds he stared up, his jaw hanging open slightly, before his shrewd, dark eyes narrowed. Namjoon swallowed. Yoongi frowned further and tsked. “Well what are you growing so tall for then? Think it will improve your beats?”

As a taller hyung Yoongi had been intimidating. As a shorter hyung he was moreso. Namjoon, unsure of what the right answer might be, settled for the safe option. He shook his head no. He wasn’t fast enough to stop Yoongi saying “such disrespect,” morosely before wandering back to his position for dance practice, but Yoongi didn’t do anything like glare at him, or give him a superior sniff. Namjoon tentatively chalked up their interaction in the not negative column in his head and tried to focus on their rehearsal. It didn’t work. At least he didn’t fall.

A few hours later Yoongi hunted him down in the studio and spun his chair around so they were face to face. He looked with his half-lidded eyes straight into Namjoon’s soul.

Namjoon tried not to blink.

Yoongi must have been satisfied by what he found in Namjoon’s expression because he nodded, just once, and said “I was kidding, Namjoon,” in such a soft, quiet voice that Namjoon blushed and looked down. There were interesting patterns in the grubby grey carpet of their studio. He could trace the outline of old spills with his eyes, hidden among constellations of food crumbs.

It was embarrassing, being so transparent, being called out so easily. He was supposed to be in a hip hop group. He wasn’t supposed to be affected by offhand comments from fellow trainees.

Yoongi apparently wasn’t about to accept anything less than eye contact. Namjoon jumped as he felt Yoongi’s long, cold, fingers tuck under his chin and apply just a hint of pressure until Namjoon was looking up to meet Yoongi’s eyes.

Namjoon did his best not to squirm. His insides refused to listen and squirmed to their heart’s content.

It took a few seconds before he noticed the softness around Yoongi’s eyes, tucked away at the corners, half-hidden by the shaggy, sweat-damp fringe of Yoongi’s hair. Namjoon would have missed it if he hadn’t heard Yoongi speak, hadn’t known Yoongi was capable of it.

“It’s good you’re growing,” Yoongi continued. It was in the same soft tone, voice level and no nonsense. “Means we’re feeding you right. ‘Sides, now you can get things off top shelves until hyung gets taller.”

Namjoon sat straighter in the chair, pulling away from Yoongi’s touch as his blush deepened. He couldn’t tell if he was supposed to laugh or not. He didn’t want to get it wrong, but he couldn’t find any clues in Yoongi’s expression.

He dithered long enough that if he was supposed to laugh he’d missed his chance to do it without being incredibly awkward. At least Yoongi didn’t seem offended he hadn’t. His mouth was still drawn in a small, serious line, but the corners weren’t turned down and there there was no crease between his eyebrows.

Then he blinked, twice, and patted Namjoon on the shoulder. “Now,” he said, pulling up the extra chair. “Show me what you’ve been working on.”)

Namjoon’s basket is far from empty - he already has two pairs of pants, three long-sleeved shirts, two jackets one of which, miracle of miracles, will cover his wrists, enough scarves that Yoongi asked how many necks do you have? when he saw them, then followed it up with are you planning to grow a giraffe neck to go with your giraffe legs? and two sweaters.

There is also a book. He couldn’t help himself. Thrift stores are minefields of potential purchases and Namjoon is not very adept at avoiding them.

The sweater is another soon-to-be-exploded mine, or it would be except for his guilt, a knot in his stomach, at seeing Yoongi pretend he isn’t interested in it. He tries to catch Yoongi’s eye but can’t. Yoongi is studying his shoes.

Namjoon stares at Yoongi’s shoes too. They are just the wrong side of artfully shabby, holes worn in the sides, the laces fraying. He follows the swirl of the design with his eyes while he tries to think of a way to settle the question of which of them will own a literal piece of the warmth of the sun without the discussion dissolving into another argument.

They could flip a coin? Or play rock-paper-scissors? Both are dorm-approved decision making methods whenever there’s a finite resource to fight over. It seems reasonable to assume either could be applied now.

He gets as far as opening his mouth to make the suggestion when he catches sight of Yoongi’s expression shifting, then shifting again seconds later. He can’t be sure without asking, but he’d be willing to bet the first one meant I saw it first, the second one but I’m the hyung and should be the responsible one. There’s something almost petulant in the second expression, a reluctance to let go of something desired warring with the need to fulfill a societal obligation.

The knot of guilt tightens. “Hyung-” he starts, and then stops, as Yoongi holds up a finger in the universal sign for shut up. Yoongi cocks his head to the side, making it easier for Namjoon to watch as I get cold and he gets cold too crosses his face in rapid succession, then but I want it and so does he.

Namjoon can practically hear the last expression as it slides into place on Yoongi’s features. It says there will be other sweaters, for a whole second before it dissolves back into Yoongi’s carefully cultivated neutral expression.

It’s strange, watching Yoongi decide to relinquish something so quickly. Yoongi isn’t known for backing down. Namjoon isn’t sure he likes seeing it.

“Well, try it on then,” Yoongi huffs, crossing his arms. He tilts his head so he is glaring ever so slightly up at Namjoon. It makes his jaw stick out stubbornly. “Can’t buy it without knowing if it fits.”

There’s no way on the planet it won’t fit. The hanger has an XXL written on it to match the XXL on the thrift store tag. Namjoon, using the eyeball method, would have guessed it to be an XXXXL at the very least. He looks between it and Yoongi to make sure Yoongi is serious. Yoongi’s expression says hurry up and try it on you’re wasting my time.

Namjoon hurries up and tries it on.

The neck is big enough he doesn’t even have to pull on it before it’s sliding easily over his head. He gets his arms in the sleeves without any issue. When he looks down he can see the cuffs don’t just extend to cover his wrists, but they cover half his hands too. He flips the hood up just for fun and it flops over his eyes easily, cutting off his field of vision. The hood is deep enough, he thinks, that were he to draw the strings tight shut he’d still have plenty of room to breathe.

He shoves his hands in the pocket on the front and twists the fabric between his fingers. It’s soft, the type of soft that comes only when a sweater has been well worn and well washed over the course of many years. It’s warm too. It feels like he’s wearing a hug. He thinks he might be in love.

“Good,” Yoongi grunts, smoothing his hands firmly over the breadth of Namjoon’s shoulders. It’s as if he’s fitting him for a suit in a tailor’s, not a sweater in a thrift store. “I’ll buy it for you. Now go find some extra socks. If you lose any toes to frostbite your dancing will get even worse.”

In the months they’ve lived together Namjoon has lost more arguments to Yoongi than he has lost to anyone else in his life. (He’s also won more arguments with Yoongi than he has with anyone else in his life, but the stats are skewed. He and Yoongi tend to argue more than they don’t. Yoongi wins three out of four. Namjoon isn’t exactly proud of the ratio.) He’s gotten good at recognizing when he has even half a chance of winning, so he can decide if he wants to go all in and try for the victory or conserve his energy for a later, easier fight.

He looks Yoongi dead in the eye, considering. Yoongi looks back. Namjoon blinks.

This fight? He wouldn’t have a hope of winning.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

The sweater quickly becomes one of Namjoon’s favourites. It’s not in line with their concept at all, so bright and soft and cheerful that even when he wears his most intimidating expression he doesn’t look at all like Rap Monster. It isn’t meant to be. It’s meant to be warm (which it is), and comfortable (which it definitely is). Every time he sees it he feels like smiling. There’s something about the yellow that buoys his spirits, like the sun breaking through the clouds in winter.

He doesn’t wear it on the days when he needs to be Rap Monster, for promotional events, or photo shoots, or anything that’s being filmed for their extra content. He wears it instead when he goes to the studio to work, or to and from dance practice, or around their still-frigid apartment in the scattered handful of half-seconds he gets to breathe between their scheduled events.

He wears it often enough that even though they have a common closet it becomes indelibly his without his ever having to fight for it. It’s a relief. He’s spared the pain and effort of finding a way to justify his attachment to it that doesn’t involve the sentences Yoongi-hyung bought it for me when I was cold even though he wanted it too or every time I wear it it feels like a hug. Voicing either of those thoughts out loud would earn him no less than a full year of teasing. He’s not sure they are something he wants to get teased about.

In the privacy of his head he’ll admit, very quietly, that there’s a third element. Sometimes when he wears it he’ll catch a glimpse of Yoongi watching him, his sharp eyes soft around the edges, the very corners of his mouth turned up in the smallest of unconscious smiles. The expression vanishes if Namjoon ever tries to see it head-on, Yoongi’s attention seemingly always directed elsewhere, but he sees it often enough in his peripherals he’s sure he isn’t imagining it. It suffuses him with warmth in ways no tea or heated apartment or dance practice ever has.

When they travel he packs it in the bottom of his suitcase. He doesn’t always pull it out once they’ve retreated to their hotel rooms for the night - he already gets shit for wearing it too often - but it’s nice to know he has it, just in case. It’s familiar, a slice of home. The way having it makes the knot of anxiety in his chest loosen is worth having the others ask if he’s aware that there are, in fact, other sweaters that exist in the world.

Yes, he wants to say, I know they exist but they just aren’t the same. He can tuck his hands into their sleeves and flip their hoods over his eyes and nothing happens. With his yellow sweater he tucks his hands in the sleeves, flips the hood up, and somehow disappears into his own private oasis. The cares of the world seem incapable of penetrating the soft yellow cotton of his armor. It’s amazing.

The sweater comes with him to their pre-debut events, tucked in the bottom of his knapsack where the others won’t see it. The sweater comes with him to their debut stage too. He’s too keyed up, too conscious of the cameras filming them, to even think about pulling it out before their performance, but he feels better knowing he has it.

After their performance is a different matter. He’s very obviously not the only one experiencing the full gamut of emotions it is possible to feel. Chances are the others are too busy with their own concerns to worry about what he might or might not be wearing. He still waits until everyone is engrossed in packing to leave before he pulls it out of his bag. It feels like the warm, soft yellow sticks out, a discordant note among their heavy hip-hop influenced costumes, but no one else seems to notice.

Or, almost no one seems to notice. He can feel someone watching but it takes him a solid five minutes to figure out who, and even then it’s pure luck. He glances up, at one of the mirrors, and sees Yoongi staring back. Yoongi’s eyes go wide and surprised as their gazes meet and he looks away quickly, a scowl on his face and a blush starting on his cheeks. Namjoon grins to himself and, humming the pre-chorus, slings his bag over his shoulder.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

They drive so often and to so many places that it’s easy to lose track of why, exactly, they’re in the van again. Sometimes it’s to go to a photoshoot, and sometimes it’s to go to the airport, and sometimes it’s to go to a concert venue, but Namjoon isn’t ever really sure until he asks someone.

Namjoon, sandwiched in the middle row of the van between a too-awake Hoseok on his right and a sleeping Yoongi on his left, has no idea where they’re supposed to be going. He’s tired, and hungry, and stiff from their latest round of dance practice. The last thing he wants to do is get out of their van to go stand on some clifftop for what the managers call a perfect location for an impromptu photoshoot!!!

He can hear the exclamation points in their voice. It’s disheartening.

What Namjoon would call it is something new to be added to an already packed schedule but they don’t ask him. They re-allocate the time that should have gone to an extra dance rehearsal at their destination to taking pictures on some plateau or other.

As happy as Namjoon is to give his protesting feet, and legs, and core, and- okay, his protesting body a break from the never-ending dance practice of his life it’s cold outside the van, dreary and grey. The clouds are a bruised lilac, the grass tipped with frost. Namjoon has to concede that it’s pretty. That doesn’t mean he wants to be in it.

The hike to the location the camera director picked out takes fifteen minutes. It’s even colder there.

Without an easy retreat to the relative protection the vans might have afforded everyone is left to fend for themselves with the supplies they have on hand. One of the stylists happened to grab a few thermoses of tea. One of the managers has hot-packs in a large cardboard box. Given this was an unscheduled stop Namjoon supposes that he should be grateful at least they have something, should being the operative word.

No one has anything remotely like appropriate outerwear. Jimin and Taehyung cling to each other for warmth, a two-headed-eight-limbed creature that seems to communicate primarily in the language of giggles. Hoseok and Seokjin invent some kind of song(?) and dance(?) routine about how they are so chill already they don’t need more, thanks. The dance involves a lot of flailing arms and legs. Namjoon wonders if it’s actually helping keep them warm at all.

Jungkook is in front of a camera and therefore acting as if he has never been cold in his life. He has no concept of the idea of cold. It’s a very convincing act that shatters when the camera director drops his camera for a few seconds. Namjoon has to grin as Jungkook screams, “It’s cold!” at the top of his lungs.

“Don’t scream like that,” Seokjin screams back. “You need to save your voice for singing!”

There’s the general sounds of laughter from the group. At least most spirits are high, but Yoongi... Yoongi...

Yoongi’s entire body is one very big shiver.

It’s not surprising. He’s wearing layers (loose shirt over long sleeved shirt over another shirt that hangs below the first two, loose shorts over pants, heavy boots) but they’re flimsy layers, completely unsuitable for the weather. He’s trying to play it cool instead of play it up today, with his hands thrust into his pockets and his shoulders up around his ears. Namjoon can see his jaw muscles shift as he clenches his teeth together, probably so they can’t chatter.

Namjoon isn’t exactly cold, with his hands wrapped around hand warmers, his feet shoved into thick boots, and a stylist-approved toque pulled down over his ears, but as he watches Yoongi twitch in the face of another stiff breeze he shivers in sympathy.

He remembers his sweater, tucked in the bottom of his knapsack as usual. He eyes Yoongi’s thin clothing. He looks at Jungkook, staring off moodily in the distance while the director shouts instructions. It’s Jimin’s turn, after Jungkook, and then Namjoon’s. He’ll have more than enough time.

Their personal bags are in a haphazard pile near the bags for the camera equipment and emergency styling products. His is easy to spot, covered in brightly coloured patches. He pulls it out of the pile and rummages around inside until his hand hits something soft.

“Don’t smudge your makeup,” the stylist says to him when she sees what he has.

“I won’t,” he says. “Promise.”

The box with the extra hand warmers is on the other side of the pile so he stops there too, tearing the tops off two and slipping them into the kangaroo pocket of the sweater. After sitting in his bag, in the cold, the sweater isn’t exactly warm. He hugs it tight as he walks back to Yoongi, hoping that the combination of hand warmers and body heat will help dispel the chill.

By the time he’s close enough to call “Hyung!” and have a hope of being heard he thinks he’s made progress. He still has to call twice more before Yoongi reacts, jumping to look at him with wide, startled eyes, mouth a round, surprised oh. He looks five years younger like this, the impression only heightened by his pinked cheeks and chapped lip.

“Yes?” Yoongi asks, grimacing as his teeth chatter briefly on the word. He’s squinting at Namjoon, his eyebrows drawn in tight, his lips an unhappy thin line. Namjoon is willing to bet that under the lip-gloss they’d be approaching blue.

“You, um, you look cold, so I thought, maybe... youmightwanttoborrowmysweater?” Namjoon holds it out, offering.

Yoongi stares at it like he’s never seen such a thing before, like it isn’t a sweater at all but instead some sort of logic puzzle he’s been asked to solve. There’s something icy around the curve of his eyes and the corners of his mouth. The reaction is far from what Namjoon was expecting. It feels strangely like rejection.

Normally Namjoon is good at not taking it to heart is someone refuses something he’s offered. Sometimes people just don’t feel like coffee, or don’t want him to grab anything while he’s out shopping, or don’t have an opinion about which show they should watch. This though, this feels more personal. Yoongi is very obviously cold and still turning down Namjoon’s offer of a way to warm up. It doesn’t take a genius of any kind to draw a line from that to it’s because you’re the one offering help.

They stand there, Yoongi staring at the sweater, Namjoon staring between the sweater and Yoongi. Whatever it is that Yoongi’s thinking, Namjoon can’t read it on his face. Namjoon blames the cold.

“Never mind, never mind, I’ll just-” he mutters at last, when the silence has frozen between them. Yoongi’s expression does shift then, his eyes flashing up to Namjoon’s face so quickly he’s glad he didn’t blink or he’d have missed it. Namjoon finally makes the connection.

Of course Yoongi wouldn’t want it. Yoongi likes to take care of everyone else, doesn’t like it when others can find something they think he might want help with. He’s fiercely independent, and private, and hates admitting to a weakness. Namjoon hopes his blush will be taken for makeup, or assigned the fault of the wind. Offering him the sweater the way he had, that must have been almost insulting, insinuating-

“Okay.” The word is quiet, overlapping with Namjoon’s hasty attempts at backtracking. Yoongi’s expression thaws. A hint of warmth appears in his eyes. “Um. Yes. Thank you.”

Namjoon blinks. The air he breathes feels somehow warmer, at complete odds with the chill of the breeze. Yoongi takes the sweater from his still-outstretched hand. The tips of his fingers are like ice.

Sweater in hand, Yoongi wastes no time putting it on. His shoulders fill it out almost as well as Namjoon’s do (people seem to underestimate their breadth, given how bony they are) but the sleeves hang down past the tips of Yoongi’s fingers, the hem just slightly more than halfway to his knees. If Yoongi wasn’t wearing three layers of shirt underneath it the collar is loose enough Namjoon would be able to see his collarbones.

With a flip of his wrist Yoongi disappears inside the hood. If flops over his face in such a way that only his mouth and the tip of his nose are visible. The two closest stylists make noises of dismay in their general direction but Yoongi doesn’t react. At least, Yoongi doesn’t react in any way they might see. Namjoon can see a small smile, hiding at the edges of Yoongi’s mouth. He watches, fascinated, as it spreads into something conspiratorial.

“Better?” Namjoon’s voice sounds hoarse, as though it’s been ages since he spoke instead of seconds. He hadn’t noticed how dry the wind had made his throat.

“Better,” Yoongi confirms, nodding. A breeze blows through. Yoongi fails to hide his shiver.

Namjoon has perfected his ability to raise just one eyebrow by practicing it diligently in the mirror. He uses it before he remembers Yoongi, eyes covered by the hood, probably can’t see it.

Still, Yoongi repeats “Better,” more forcefully, as if that might make Namjoon forget his shivering. This time his teeth chatter together.

Neither of them are as tactile as Jimin (no one is as tactile as Jimin) but Yoongi is cold. Namjoon doesn’t think twice before sliding in behind him and, well, draping himself all along Yoongi’s back, wrapping his arms around his torso. Yoongi stiffens in the embrace. Based on the tone of the soft grunt he lets out Namjoon surmises it’s due to shock, not a dislike.

“Just kickstarting the sweater-warmth engine,” Namjoon says, nonsensically. He cringes even as the words leave his mouth, but he can feel Yoongi shivering. He isn’t going to let go, not even if it would let him run far, far from his horrible attempt at humour. “Sometimes it takes a while to get properly turned on, in older models.”

“You are so full of shit,” Yoongi grumbles. “If you wanted a hug you know Jimin’s around, right?”

His tone might be tetchy but it’s the kind of tetchy Namjoon thinks can be safely ignored. Yoongi’s shoulders are relaxing under Namjoon’s arms, some of the tension bleeding out of him. He’s leaning back too, tucking himself back into Namjoon’s chest properly. Snuggling into Namjoon’s chest properly. Namjoon hadn’t known Yoongi even knew how to snuggle.

That’s a dangerous line of thought if Namjoon ever encountered one. In self defence he puts the conflicting concepts of Yoongi and snuggling out of his mind and focuses on something more concrete, easier to understand. Yoongi and arguing go hand in hand.

“Thing the first, I am the one giving you a hug, not the one in need of a hug, thank you very much. Thing the second, Jimin actually isn’t around, since he’s taking his pictures right now.” Namjoon releases one of his arms from Yoongi’s waist to point. Yoongi snuggles closer.

Jimin is leaning artfully against a half-dead tree, giving the camera an utterly heartbroken look. He’s good at his angles. His jaw looks sharp and clean, his expression aloof, his clothing just this side of ethereal. It’s a striking image until Seokjin, still dancing his noodle-arm dance with Hoseok, says something. They can’t hear the specific words over the wind but Namjoon doesn’t need to hear what’s said to know it’s funny. Jimin breaks, laughing delightedly along with Seokjin and Hoseok, but when the camera director calls his for his attention it’s like a switch flips and the model is back.

Namjoon and Yoongi snort in unison. Yoongi sobers first. “Not Jimin then, but Jungkook would be done, or Hobi, or any of the huggers, really. Go hug them, if you need a hug that badly.”

Namjoon squeezes his arms tighter instead of doing anything silly like leaving. Yoongi wiggles, just a big, and Namjoon finds himself presented with a stretch of shoulder in the perfect position for him to hook his chin over. He’s not one to pass up such a golden opportunity. He takes it unabashedly, and slips his hands into the pocket in the front of the sweater for good measure.

There is already a pair of hands in there, ice cold and already clutching the hot-packs. It seems the natural thing to do for Namjoon to wrap his own hands around Yoongi’s. Yoongi twitches, but doesn’t say anything, and doesn’t flinch away. Namjoon grins as he says, “Did you know that sometimes you are stubborn and recalcitrant?”

Yoongi’s laugh shakes his shoulders, vibrates against Namjoon’s chest where it’s pressed against Yoongi’s back, but is mostly air when it escapes his mouth. “Did you use the word recalcitrant hoping I wouldn’t know what it meant? ‘Obstinate toward authority’ my ass.” Yoongi turns his head, and Namjoon obligingly cants his own so they can see each other properly. “You might be the leader, but I’m the hyung.”

Namjoon looks back to where Jimin is now staring at the sky, brooding again. He isn’t quite fast enough to keep Yoongi from seeing his smile. “I know you are, hyung.”

“And don’t you forget it,” Yoongi grumbles, shifting his shoulders again. The movement makes Namjoon’s face press up against Yoongi’s neck. Namjoon’s cheek warms and tingles slightly all along the line of contact. He takes the fact that Yoongi doesn’t pull away as tacit permission to tuck himself in tighter. They’ll both be warmer this way.

“And don’t you forget to give my sweater back.”

“As if your amazing hyung would forget to return your property,” Yoongi scoffs. “I’m both hurt and offended.”

“I’m sure you are,” Namjoon starts in a mock agreeable tone, but he breaks off as the wind brings him the sound of someone calling his name. It’s his turn for pictures, and he’s fairly sure someone would comment if all his supposedly-solo shots also feature a sweater-clad-Yoongi-shaped-icicle. He unwinds his arms reluctantly. Yoongi shivers as he draws away.

“Now, I know a hyungnim such as yourself would never get cold, but if you do there are a few huggers in the group I’m sure would be happy to-”

One of the extra hot-packs whistles by his ear, catching him by surprise. In hindsight he should have expected it. At least it didn’t hit him in the face. He stoops to scoop it up from the ground and flings it back without giving it too much thought. It’s pure luck that he hits Yoongi’s chest with his throw, but he’d rather take Hoseok’s choreo during their next comeback than admit it.

Yoongi’s expression when Namjoon dares look is two parts betrayed and one part dumbfounded. “That was a lucky throw!” he yells.

“Was not!” Namjoon shouts back. “Ask Jungkook! He’s been giving me tips!”

Jungkook has been doing no such thing, but watching Yoongi’s eyes narrow and his chin jut forward Namjoon knows he’s scored a hit. Yoongi will spend at least five minutes trying to get the truth out of Jungkook, who has developed into just enough of a little shit to wind Yoongi up without too much prompting if it seems harmless. Hopefully the fires of indignation will help keep Yoongi warm.

“Jungkook!” Yoongi raises his voice so it carries. Jungkook looks up from his phone, startled. Namjoon can see the instant he transforms from Jungkook, golden maknae, to Jungkook, brat. It’s glorious. Yoongi won’t know what hit him. “Jungkook get over here! Hyung needs you!”

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Namjoon goes out for dinner with Jimin and Taehyung and Jungkook. When he gets back to the hotel he’s pleasantly full from the barbeque. Full and a bit sleepy, truth be told, so it takes him a few seconds to figure out what he’s looking at on the end of his bed.

It’s his yellow sweater, folded neatly, as if just bought from a store. When Namjoon picks it up it feels softer somehow than it had before and it smells, ever so faintly, of laundry detergent. All signs point to Yoongi washing it, folding it up neater than Namjoon would have thought he knew how, and convincing Hoseok or one of the managers to let him in.

He wastes no time in sloughing off the sweater he’s wearing, inferior in every way to this beauty, and shrugs into the yellow one. Underneath the smell of the laundry detergent he’s half convinced he can smell something else too, something that smells suspiciously like Yoongi’s cologne. It feels absurdly like he’s slipping in to one of Yoongi’s rare voluntary hugs. In a moment of weakness he wraps his arms around himself and squeezes. It’s not anything like the real thing but it’s not bad.

A noise from the bathroom (probably Hoseok in the middle of his elaborate skin care routine) makes him jump and he drops his arms, smoothing his hands down the front as though that’s what he’d intended to do all along. When they hit the top of the pocket something feels… off. He frowns and sticks his hands inside the pocket this time. His fingers find smooth, crinkling plastic. It takes three tries before he can extract it properly.

It’s a Hi-Chew pack, a sticky note clinging to the front. This sweater was a good investment, the note reads, You have a smart hyung.

The writing is Yoongi’s, somehow elegant and messy all at once. Namjoon is still staring at it when Hoseok bounds out of the bathroom and asks “What do you have there?” as he drapes himself over Namjoon’s back.

Namjoon shoves the note in his pocket with as much casualness as he can manage but keeps the snack out to show.

“Ooh, where did you get that?”

“A mysterious benefactor,” Namjoon says, truthfully.

Hoseok coos. “Is there anything for me too?”

“You’ll have to find out,” Namjoon says with a laugh. He doesn’t stop laughing for at least ten minutes, watching as Hoseok tears apart their hotel room trying to find his free snacks. He stops laughing when their manager looks in to know what the racket is and then frowns at the mess.

He helps Hoseok clean up. It seems only fair, given the part he played it looking as though a very disorganized teen had been living there for six months. If he can slip the note into one of his notebooks under the guise of cleaning so as not to arouse suspicion, well. All the better.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

It takes three years for him to lose the sweater. Considering the number of places he brings it the fact it takes him as long as it does is frankly remarkable. He had it when they were overseas. He knows he had it because there’s photographic evidence in the form of some poorly lit selfies with Seokjin and Jimin. Now they’re home and it’s nowhere to be found.

He glares at his laundry basket, full of freshly laundered clothing, and then at his closet. Sweater’s can’t just vanish, they don’t grow legs and walk off into the world. The law of conservation of mass means it has to be somewhere but wherever that is it isn’t here, in his closet, where it should be.

Telling himself that it’s just a sweater, that he’ll be able to find another one just as soft and just as warm, doesn’t work. He’s never been especially good at lying to himself no matter how hard he tries. The thing is it feels… it feels silly to be this upset about a sweater that Yoongi found in a thrift store when they couldn’t afford anything better. On top of that he’s upset that he’s upset at all. It’s not great.

Jungkook catches him emptying his section of their closet the next time they have a day off.

“Weeding?” Jungkook asks, setting his camera carefully on his bed, his eyes bright.

Namjoon, a white t-shirt clutched in one hand and a pair of jeans in the other, can’t come up with anything beyond I think my favourite sweater is missing that sounds more plausible. He rolls with it. “Yeah,” he says. “Yeah, thought it was time. Getting a bit hard to put things away, you know?”

The rest of the afternoon is given over to pulling out the rest of his clothing and then sorting through it on the floor. At first it’s just him and Jungkook working, but it isn’t long before they’re joined by Taehyung, attracted by the idea of sorting through clothing, and Seokjin, attracted by the idea of being able to tease Namjoon about his fashion choices.

Sorting through the mountain of clothing with his friends does more to lift his mood than he cares to admit. The three of them are thoroughly dedicated to critiquing each and every article of clothing or accessory he’s accumulated since moving to the dorm. Once they startle the first grin out of him he can’t seem to stop.

They don’t find his sweater. At least he knows it’s not for lack of trying.

As a last ditch attempt he checks the laundry room, opening the doors of the washer and dryer. When he doesn’t see a telltale flash of yellow he sticks his head all the way in to be extra sure. Hoseok catches him like that, half hanging out of the washer.

“You know you’re supposed to take the clothing off your body before you put it in, right?”

“Lost a sock,” Namjoon lies. It’s not especially creative which is really for the best. He’s almost as bad at lying to others as he is at lying to himself. Hoseok believes him at least, and the two of them come to the laughing conclusion that their home is infested with gnomes, bent on stealing only one sock out of every pair because they like to be frustrating.

He keeps the urge to cry squashed in the deepest, darkest recesses of his heart until he gets into bed. It starts to grow as soon as he gets his feet under the covers, crescendoing as he lays down. He’s helpless to stop it. Clutching his blankets to his chest he rolls face down on his pillow and waits for sleep to claim him. It takes it’s sweet time.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

By morning he doesn’t feel even marginally better but he tucks the sadness behind a smile and gets on with his life.

The next few days are productive, if tiring. It doesn’t help that he keeps catching himself he should just go grab his sweater and then remembering it isn’t there to grab. At least he never makes it all the way to his closet.

He goes to meetings, and to rehearsals, writes lyrics and thoughts and little phrases in his notebooks (runs his fingers over Yoongi’s note every time, feels guilty that he’s lost Yoongi’s investment), and has himself half-convinced he’s fine until he finds himself almost turning down Hoseok’s invitation to bubble tea.

They’re in the living room and the no, thank you, is on the tip of his tongue when he hesitates. He can see Yoongi watching them out of the corner of his eye, pretending to be engrossed in his laptop. If he turns Hoseok down, is responsible for even a milliwatt’s dimming of Hoseok’s smile, Yoongi will be Having Words with him, and not the nice kind either. It’s far safer to go, so he does.

Being sad around a cheerful Hoseok is like trying to mix oil and water, or turn a double pirouette. (Okay, maybe not turn a double pirouette - he’s seen Jimin do them successfully and look graceful while he does so so he knows it isn’t actually impossible for everyone. It’s just impossible for him.) He doesn’t last three minutes before he’s cracked a smile, four before he’s laughing, and it’s like a dam breaks again except this time instead of tears it’s laughter flowing out of him in advance of overwhelming fondness.

“I really needed this,” he admits when they’re half way through their cups. “Thank you.”

“Yoongi said you might.” Hoseok stabs at one of the tapioca pellets at the bottom of his cup, trying to fit it neatly into his straw. “Something happen?”

“What?” Namjoon says, startled, and then, “No,” but it sounds like a question even to his ears. Hoseok’s eyes flick up at it, catch and hold Namjoon’s gaze. Namjoon tries to counteract the uncertainty of his tone by maintaining eye contact. He isn’t sure it’s helping.

“Hmm,” Hoseok hums. From his tone Namjoon can tell he’s not buying what Namjoon is trying to sell. At least he doesn’t press the issue, for which Namjoon is grateful. He’s not sure he’s ready to talk about it yet.

Their conversation slips into a discussion about the choreography Hoseok is putting together for fun, just a little dance he wants to post for the fans, and from there into their latest rehearsal, and from there to gossip about their teachers. It’s relaxing, talking about inconsequential things. They finish their bubble tea and go up to the counter to order a round for everyone back at the dorm.

“Except Yoongi,” Namjoon says as they pick the flavours. “He complains it’s too sweet. We should stop at Ediya’s for him, get him an iced Americano instead.”

The Look Hoseok gives him definitely deserves the upper case L Namjoon assigns it. He looks away quickly but that doesn’t stop him feeling the way Hoseok’s eyes bore into him as he orders, then collects the trays. The feeling doesn’t go away during their stop at the coffee shop. Namjoon has to fight the urge to flip the hood of his coat up to protect the back of his neck.

They make it home without incident and then Hoseok nearly bowls over Yoongi when he opens the door, bounding through with a loud shout of “We brought bubble tea!” Yoongi had been standing with one foot in the air, tugging on his boot with one hand and holding his bag against his chest with the other. As Hoseok breezes past he clips Yoongi’s elbow, knocking him off balance.

Namjoon, close on Hoseok’s heels, manages to stop just short of Yoongi and grab one of his shoulders before he can overbalance completely. Yoongi looks up sharply, then almost as quickly back down to his shoes.

“Thanks,” he says, eyes fixed firmly on the floor. He stomps down, settling his foot properly in the boot, then shakes his shoulders. Namjoon obligingly lets his hand slide off. He needs that hand anyway for the distribution of Yoongi’s usual dose of caffeine.

“Thank you,” he says as he extends his hand, Americano in hand. Yoongi looks at it blankly. “It’s an Americano,” Namjoon explains. “I know bubble tea is too sweet for Min Suga.” It’s not his best joke but Yoongi’s blank stare is throwing him off.

The stare lasts a few seconds more before Yoongi says “Ha.” It’s not a laugh. He actually says it. Namjoon’s internal organs feel like they’ve gone the same temperature as the drink in his hand. It’s not a good feeling.

It’s too late to back out of this interaction though and besides, Yoongi hasn’t accepted his coffee yet. Namjoon keeps holding it out, hand getting colder by the second. “I promise it isn’t poisoned?” he says with a half-smile. It’s another bad joke but given how poorly the last one had landed he needs a bit of momentum of the mouth to ramp himself up to the next thing he wants to say. “And the next time you think I need a break you could invite me somewhere. Instead of delegating, so someone else has to pay. Only fair.”

Yoongi finally accepts the drink. Namjoon fights the urge to try and shake some feeling back into his hands. Something tells him it would make Yoongi shut down even further. He already looks like he’s chewing over his words. There’s something around his eyes that looks unsure in a way Namjoon isn’t used to seeing. He’s part curious, and part worried.

“It’s hard to be sad around Hoseok,” Yoongi says at last, as though he’s answering a question. Namjoon supposes he sort of is - his comment could be heard as why didn’t you take me yourself without too much mental gymnastics. Now that Yoongi has mentioned it Namjoon wonders if maybe he had asked that question after all, in a roundabout way. “Seemed like you needed a pick me up.”

Yoongi still hasn’t looked at him, fiddling instead with the bit of plastic hanging over the rim of the cup. He looks sort of how Namjoon felt before he went for bubble tea. Namjoon feels a twist of regret and guilt was through him. He was so caught up in his own feelings of blahness he hadn’t noticed Yoongi suffering from the same affliction.

Namjoon knows better than to ruffle Yoongi’s hair when he’s in this sort of quiet, introspective mood, no matter how much he wants to. He also wants to give him a hug, but that seems needlessly reckless given the circumstances. He settles for squeezing Yoongi’s shoulder again, hopes that their years of living together means Yoongi understands the thoughts he can’t quite articulate.

Yoongi might have his head ducked but Namjoon can see a blush blooming his cheeks. He grins to himself. Message received. “Enjoy your coffee,” he says finally, dropping Yoongi’s shoulder after one last squeeze. “Don’t stay at the studio too late.” Yoongi doesn’t dignify that with a verbal response, just takes a sip from his straw.

Namjoon sighs. “At least text someone if you’re going to crash there?”

Yoongi considers this for a few long moments and then nods, raising his coffee in a silent cheers. Namjoon lifts his hands as though holding a glass and they bring them together. “Clink,” says Yoongi, then he disappears through the door. Namjoon watches him go.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Namjoon keeps keeps an eye on Yoongi over the next few days but can’t figure out what might be bothering him. Yoongi just feels off somehow, a dance step a quarter beat too late, a guitar string that’s been tuned a shade flat. Eventually Namjoon is forced to conclude there isn’t anything in particular, that it probably isn’t more than the usual up and downs that come with being alive. He gives Yoongi the space he seems to want, doesn’t press the issue, and tries to stop missing his sweater.

He succeeds at two of the three. Sixty-six percent is not a high pass, but at least it isn’t a fail.

It comes as a relief when he finds a tune working its way into his ear, threatening to set up shop unless he gets it written down, and quickly. Writing music has always been his favourite and most effective distraction. If he can let himself sink into this he might have whole days where he’s busy enough he doesn’t think to worry.

It’s late in the day already, with him in his pyjamas and almost ready for bed. Outside is cold and dreary and grey. He decides to try and write it at the dorm.

It’s a mistake.

He can’t focus at all. Nothing feels right, not the laptop in front of him, not the pile of pillows behind him, not the way he can hear everyone else moving around in their tiny apartment. The studio is always distraction free. There there’s no one to interrupt his thought process to see if he wants to watch a movie, or play a video game, or play a board game, or-

That’s it, he thinks as he hears another burst of laughter from the living room. Time for a change of scenery.

They’re in the midst of production for a new album and that always gets them a bit more leeway when it comes to things like curfew. He changes back into real clothing, packs up his supplies, and heads out to the hall.

“I’m going to the studio for a bit,” he announces as he slips his shoes on.

“Don’t stay too late!” Jimin calls after him.

“I’ll try,” he says. Saying I won’t feels a bit too much like lying. Who knows how long the tune will take.

He doesn’t feel like freezing his hands to his bike’s handlebars so he sets out on foot instead. The city never sleeps, not exactly, but it does get a particular quality late at night when the sidewalks empty of people and the roads are only intermittently disturbed by a car. The sky glows bright with lights, only a few scattered stars visible. The air is crisp but silky somehow, caressing his skin in a way that feels surreal.

When he arrives at their offices the cold of the air has crystalized the tune in his mind. He grins as he lets himself into the building and makes his way down the hall to the studio. The studio door sticks under his hand on his first attempt to enter. He turns the knob again and gives the door a firm kick. It swings open to reveal Yoongi, sitting bolt upright in front of the computer. He looks just as surprised to see Namjoon as Namjoon is to see him.

His hair is fluffy and messy, like he’s had a shower and didn’t bother drying it properly, or like he’s been running his fingers through it for hours on end. There are creases on his cheek, as if he’d been lying on a pillow even though there are none in sight. In contrast to his usual sharp-eyes-hidden-behind-partly-feigned-lethargy look his eyes just look tired and red-rimmed. He squints at Namjoon. He must not be wearing his contacts.

“Oh,” Namjoon says at last. “I thought everyone else was at home.”

“I wasn’t,” Yoongi says but Namjoon hardly hears him. He’s noticed what Yoongi is wearing. It’s a familiar sweater, yellow and baggy enough that there’s a lot of excess fabric pooling around Yoongi’s waist. The hood is pulled to the left, bunched up on his shoulder in a way that would make a pretty passable pillow.

There are a lot of things Namjoon could say, but the thought that shoves its way to the front is “That’s my sweater!”. He points as he speaks. He wishes he hadn’t.

Yoongi flinches.

Something sour bubbles in Namjoon’s gut, bubbles until he can taste it on the back of his tongue. Yoongi doesn’t just look tired now, he looks tired and upset. All because Namjoon couldn’t use an ounce of his supposedly genius brain to figure out a reasonable way to have this interaction.

“Sorry,” Yoongi says, quick and quiet and very much unlike himself. Namjoon frowns and Yoongi flinches again, wriggles a bit in the chair as he tries to get the hem of the sweater loose enough he can pull it off without having to actually stand up. Every line of his body radiates tiredness. “Sorry,” he repeats, “Sorry, it was on my bed, and I thought… I heard Jungkook say you’d… with your closet… so I just-”

“Oh.” In that light it makes perfect sense. Namjoon has often left Yoongi clothing that way, sometimes with the tags still on because he ordered the wrong size, sometimes pieces he knows Yoongi’s admired and Namjoon is done wearing. It makes sense that if Yoongi found the sweater on the end of his bed he’d assume Namjoon was giving it away, giving it back. “I, uh, I don’t know how it got there,” he admits. “I was looking for it actually, when I cleaned out my closet.”

Yoongi nods like he’s listening, lips pursed, the sweater halfway up his chest as he struggles to extract his left arm. Namjoon has to figure out what to say next and fast, preferably something that will get Yoongi to stop squirming out of the sweater, looking so frantic around the eyes.

“Uh… well… it’s okay, I guess. If it’s you. You can borrow it whenever you want.” Yoongi freezes except his eyes which blink at him, uncomprehending. “You paid for it,” Namjoon clarifies, shifting his weight between his feet. The room feels uncomfortably hot and stuffy. “And you saw it first. I don’t mind if you use it.”

“I bought it as a gift Joon-ah,” Yoongi says with an unreadable tone. Namjoon feels his stomach twist again. Yoongi had bought it as a gift, and then he’d found it on the end of his bed after years where no one else had been allowed to touch it. He’d probably spent the last two weeks thinking Namjoon was sending him some kind of signal. Namjoon refuses to wonder what it might mean that Yoongi never mentioned it.

“In that case I will magnanimously allow you to rent it on an as-needed basis?”

“Who says I would even want to rent it anyways,” Yoongi says, immediately working his arms back into both sleeves and tucking the ends into his palms.

“You very obviously hate it,” Namjoon agrees easily. “I suppose that your punishment for having stolen it without permission-”

“The ‘without permission’ is implied in the word ‘stolen’.”

Namjoon tsks and sighs, pulling the second chair toward the computer and flopping back onto it. Yoongi can be difficult when the mood strikes him. “-is to continue to wear it until you see the error of your ways.”

Yoongi’s face is an absolute picture as he considers the offer, eyes narrowed, lips thin and turned down at the corners. Namjoon wishes he had his phone so he could capture it forever, bring it out on rainy days when he wants a smile. He has to bite the inside of his cheek as it is to hold in his smile. At last Yoongi, with a completely straight face, says “That might take a while.”

“I’ve got all night,” Namjoon grins, opening his arms expansively to indicate just how much time that is.

“All morning,” Yoongi corrects, pointing at the clock. It’s just after midnight. He turns back to the computer, his shoulders more relaxed, and clicks through a few menus to save his work.

“And people say I’m the pedant.” Namjoon lets himself ruffle Yoongi’s hair until it is even messier before he tugs the hood up so it doesn’t quite flop over Yoongi’s eyes. “What’re you working on that’s got you this stumped?”

“What do you mean, ‘this stumped’?” Yoongi grumbles, eyes fixed on the computer.

“You only fall asleep at the desk when you’re stumped,” Namjoon points out. “If you aren’t stumped you’re working, and if you’re not working, which is never, you’re doing your best to become one with your bed.”

“Who says I was sleeping?” Yoongi demands.

Before he can stop himself Namjoon reaches out to run his finger lightly along Yoongi’s cheek, tracing the creases left behind where his cheek must have been pillowed on the hood of the sweater.

“Oh.”

“Yeah.” Namjoon doesn’t bother to hid his grin at the half-hearted glare Yoongi directs his way. “But good try, hyung.”

Yoongi glowers more as he knocks the hood back off his head. Having the hood on hasn’t helped his hair situation at all - it’s still sticking up, now in a new and interesting way. Namjoon’s fingers itch to pat it down. He clasps his hands together in his lap, tells them no in as firm a mental voice as he can manage.

In the harsh light of the monitors Namjoon can see Yoongi weighing a decision. The clues are in the twitches of his mouth, and the way his fingers flick uneasily over the keyboard. It appears to be a straight forward should I or shouldn’t I tell him? argument. Namjoon doesn’t want to interrupt. Namjoon waits.

“It’s just… it’s nothing really, just a beat, well, okay, maybe a song, that Jimin might… but…” Yoongi flips the hood back up and pulls on the drawstring until the hood slips forward over his face. He keeps pulling until the opening is scrunched up, almost shut. Namjoon can barely see the tip of his nose through the resulting hole. There’s a feeling something like fondness in his chest, so big it makes him fidget in his chair. “Can we talk about why you’re here instead? Please?”

Namjoon packs the fond feeling up in a mental box and tapes it shut, writes deal with this later on it in mental black sharpie, and shelves it. “I need some help,” he answers, fully expecting Yoongi to snort derisively. Yoongi doesn’t disappoint.

“As if you ever need help,” he says, which, fair. Namjoon doesn’t actually need help, but it seems like Yoongi might want the distraction. They both know it’s a white lie yet there Yoongi is, already pulling up a fresh project, sliding the keyboard forward, shifting around his rhythm board. He shoves a pad of paper and pencil toward Namjoon and says, “Tell me,” and Namjoon does.

At some point Yoongi disappears while Namjoon is frowning at the papers scattered on the desk. He reappears half an hour later with snacks that are definitely not in their diet plan. They eat the chips slowly, licking the artificial flavouring off their fingers, and sip the single can of beer until it has gone flat and warm. Flat, warm beer is even worse than cold, bubbly beer but Namjoon drinks it anyways because the night is surreal enough as it is. He’s a bit worried that without the slight blur of alcohol over everything he’ll lose the nerve to keep existing in the very extended moment he and Yoongi seem to be having. He doesn’t want it to end.

By the time the sun is theoretically peeking over the horizon (it’s impossible to tell from their windowless studio) and they really should be heading home they’ve painstakingly recreated a rough draft of the tune and beat Namjoon had been humming on his way over. Yoongi solemnly takes off the sweater as Namjoon packs his things back into his bag and hands it back, saying, “Punishment complete”.

It might be the hour, or it might be the alcohol, or it might be the fond feelings fighting hard to escape their box influencing his judgement but something about the situation makes Namjoon laugh until he cries.

Yoongi stares at him for a long moment, straight-faced, before giving in and joining him.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Namjoon celebrates the rediscovery of his sweater by wearing it as often as he can during the next few days.

“Did someone cut up the rest of your clothing?” Seokjin asks on the fourth day, but that’s the only real comment he gets. At least, that’s the only verbal comment he gets. Yoongi’s raised eyebrow on the third day speaks louder than words ever could. Namjoon’s looks away quickly in the hopes of stopping the flush he can feel working it’s way across his face. He might be more embarrassed about it except that the next time he glances over Yoongi is the one who looks away first.

Yoongi does that a lot actually, eyeing Namjoon in the sweater whenever he thinks he isn’t paying attention and looking away quickly when he gets caught. It’s weird, straight up weird, and when Namjoon finally figures out what’s going on he feels stupid that it took him so long.

The problem with Yoongi is that he never likes to ask for anything. Ever. He’d probably hesitate to ask someone to put him out if he was on fire, unless they happened not to be doing anything else at the moment and he could be sure he wasn’t being a bother. It’s equal parts endearing and frustrating, but in this case relatively easy to fix. After laundry one week Namjoon folds up the sweater, finds a sticky note, and writes WEAR ME on it in big black block letters.

He leaves the sweater on Yoongi’s pillow, sticky note pinned to the outside of the pocket to make sure it doesn’t get lost. When he finds a sleep-rumpled Yoongi wearing it in their kitchen two days later while he prepares his first coffee of the day Namjoon tries not to look too smug.

They make eye contact, or as much eye contact as Yoongi can make when it’s barely noon, he’s wearing neither contacts nor glasses, and he hasn’t had any caffeine. Yoongi’s expression goes from slightly-unsure to slightly-defiant in the space of time it takes for Namjoon to blink at him blearily.

When Yoongi comes into focus Namjoon meets the defiance with a smile. He nods, once, and goes to collect his own mug for coffee without saying anything. Yoongi relaxes one muscle group at a time as it becomes more and more clear Namjoon isn’t going to say anything. The percolator gurgles happily and fills the kitchen with a rich, promising smell while they wait, side by side, for the coffee to be ready.

Something about the whole situation makes Namjoon comfortably dozy. His mind jumps to some poetry he’d read, the lyrics he’s working on, what his schedule is for the day. It’s nice, having the time to just wait, and exist, and he relishes it. All the time in the world and no time at all passes before Yoongi is gently taking the mug out of his hand and pouring him a full mug.

“Thanks,” says he says as Yoongi passes the mug back.

“Thanks,” Yoongi says, nonsensically, as he fills his own mug. He sets the coffee pot back in the machine and wanders into the living room. Namjoon blinks a few times at the empty kitchen and wonders what that was all about.

The sweater is back on his bed by the end of the week, a bag of Banana Kick tucked into the pocket without a note. He doesn’t say anything, and Yoongi sure as hell doesn’t say anything, but the next time he does laundry time he folds the sweater neatly and puts it back on Yoongi’s bed. The pocket has a bag of Hi-Chews this time, and another sticky note with some lines on it from a poem he read and liked. Something about the situation gives him the same thrill as the few times he’d passed a note in class. He doesn’t try to articulate why. He’s not sure he would want to know the answer.

Either no one else notices that Yoongi now occasionally wears what is well documented as being Namjoon’s sweater or else they are smart enough not to comment on it. Namjoon doesn’t care one way or the other what the reason is. Whatever the reason Namjoon is glad of it. He knows that if anyone so much as breathed a word on the subject Yoongi wouldn’t just stop, he’d pretend it had never happened in the first place.

They fall into a pattern of trading the sweater back and forth that generally aligns with laundry being done. They trade it through promotions, and travel for concerts, and travel for photoshoots.

Sometimes Namjoon finds a note tucked in the pocket. He collects Your dancing has improved and I am sorry you are so wrong about Iron Man 2 and, on the memorable occasion when the sweater is returned to him full four days before he expects it, it gets cold backstage, keep warm.

The notes make him smile. Each new one received gets carefully put in the back of his notebook. When he fills the notebook and buys a new one he makes sure to get one with a pocket, so he doesn’t have to worry they’ll fall out the bottom, and transfers them over.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Jungkook wakes him up to ask if he wants to go shopping and then out for supper with everyone sometime on a Tuesday they have schedule-free. Namjoon knows it’s a Tuesday because it was a Tuesday when he got home after a long night of metaphorically and literally beating his head against some song lyrics.

“No,” he grunts, pulling the covers tighter over his head. Jungkook laugh but doesn’t press the issue. Namjoon is asleep before he hears the door close.

The second time he wakes up their dorm is blessedly silent. Given the amount of coffee he drank it’s a wonder his bladder let him sleep as long as it did but he can’t ignore it anymore. He stumbles to the bathroom, then stumbles back to his bedroom to check the time. Mid-afternoon and the dorm to himself. The possibilities are endless. He might be able to watch documentaries on a real television without anyone yelling at him to turn it off.

He shoves his feet into his slippers and his glasses on his nose and makes his yawning way to the kitchen. He can hear a faint noise from the living room as he approaches that can only be the television left on. That’s something they’ll have to talk about next time they sit down together.

He makes a mental note to bring it up and then thinks must’ve been tired last night to leave my sweater out here, as he walks past the couch. His sweater is bunched up against the arm. He’s reaching out to pick it up before he notices the far more pertinent piece of information.

There’s a Yoongi inside his sweater. It can’t be anyone but Yoongi, curled up on his side, his hands tucked between his thighs, blinking up at Namjoon with confused, bleary eyes. His cheeks are flushed, his nose rubbed raw, and when he speaks Namjoon can hear the echo of a cough rumbling up from his lungs. “What.” It’s probably supposed to be a question but it comes out flat, like adding the rising note at the end would take more energy than he has.

From Yoongi’s perspective it probably looks like Namjoon is about to pet him, or ruffle his hair. He drops his hand quickly. “You’re wearing my sweater,” Namjoon says, trying to keep his tone neutral this time. He’s not sure he quite succeeds, given the way Yoongi’s shoulders stiffen at the words. There is no way he’s awake enough for this yet.

“I’m sick,” Yoongi says, his tone managing to sound defensive through the rumble. He curls himself into a smaller ball, drawing his knees up closer to his chest. Namjoon catches sight of his socks. They’re fuzzy, striped black and yellow like a bumblebee. Namjoon really isn’t awake enough for this.

“I can see that,” he says, moving past Yoongi to the kitchen. He opens the cupboard under the sink to extract the kettle. “Did you eat anything?”

“Who has the energy to cook,” Yoongi grumbles. There’s a faint thump. Namjoon is willing to be Yoongi let his head flop down hard against the arm of the couch instead of lowering it gently. “Being sick takes so much effort.”

“You could be sick in your room you know.” Namjoon fills the kettle and sets it on the stove to boil. “In your bed. It probably takes less effort there.”

“I was in my bed,” Yoongi protests as Namjoon opens their fridge and starts looking for the lemon juice. “But my throat hurt and I wanted tea. And then the walk to the kitchen was too long. And I got tired and had to have a nap.”

“Had to?” Namjoon can’t help but laugh. The lemon juice is hiding behind a bag of sprouts, beside Jungkook’s banana milk. He sets it on the counter, then goes to look for some honey in the cupboard. “Or chose to?”

He times his look into the living room perfectly to catch the full force of Yoongi’s glare. It’s not very intimidating, as far as glares go, especially not when Yoongi sniffs, blinks his puffy eyes twice, and sneezes piteously. “You are not very sympathetic to sick people.”

“I’m very sympathetic to sick people,” Namjoon disagrees, coming out of the kitchen properly and crossing his arms as he looks down at Yoongi. “I’m not telling you off for wearing the sweater during my week, am I?”

Yoongi withdraws his arms from between his legs to wrap them around his chest. “You said I could borrow it whenever I want,” he pouts.

“I did,” Namjoon agrees. He tries to convey I’m glad you took me up on that without coming right out and saying it. He does have sympathy for sick people, no matter what Yoongi might claim, so he’s taking care to steer clear of anything that might accidentally end up with one or both of them emoting. In Yoongi’s weakened condition it might push him over the edge. It’s just a sweater, after all. No need to get mushy. “Was just surprised, that’s all. You haven’t done it before now.”

Yoongi snorts half a laugh but gets interrupted by a cough. Namjoon glances at the kettle, which continues to not boil. It obviously did not get the memo about sick hyungs in the dorm needing to be taken care of quickly. If ever there was a time for the laws of physics to bend it was now.

“There’s a first time for everything,” Yoongi says as he gets his breath back. “That’s why they call them firsts.” He sounds half asleep, not to mention the throat situation, so Namjoon doesn’t press to make any more conversation until the tea is ready.

His cooking skills definitely do not warrant the amount of scrutiny Yoongi subjects the tea to before he sits up and deigns to take a sip. Namjoon makes himself a cup too, and brings it with him when he joins Yoongi on the couch. They’re watching a documentary on bookbinding techniques that Namjoon feels sure he’s seen before but he makes no move to change the channel.

The thing is, Namjoon knows Yoongi just has the television on for company, not because he’s actually watching, and he also knows that if he waits long enough...

The gentle snoring starts seven minutes later, by the clock on their cable box. Namjoon looks over to see Yoongi slumped forward, his chin almost touching his chest, the mug of tea balanced carefully on his stomach. Sleep takes years off his face although he’s still contrived somehow to appear world-weary. Namjoon would be impressed if it didn’t give him a feeling like indigestion.

He pries the mug out of Yoongi’s fingers and considers his options. Yoongi is the lightest member of Bangtan but Namjoon doesn’t feel especially confident in his ability to carry him down the hall to his room without knocking his head against a wall or waking him up. In all likelihood both would happen, and the idea of being faced with having to explain the situation to a sick and probably actually-grumpy Yoongi is not one he relishes.

The easiest course of action is to do nothing. He leaves the living room just long enough to grab his phone from his bedroom. When he checks, no one has texted him to say we’re on our way back do you want anything. It looks like for the time being they have the apartment to themselves so he might as well let Yoongi rest where he is. Besides, the next documentary is starting.

It’s the Planet Earth episode that focuses on oceans.

The documentary is exactly as relaxing a viewing experience as Namjoon had hoped it would be. When it finishes he feels refreshed by the ocean spray and cool blue depths even if he hasn’t moved from the couch. He’s just considering another cup of tea and the next documentary (about sharks) when the front door slams open. He can hear the sound of five voices echoing down the hall. They’ve got maybe thirty seconds, tops, if Yoongi wants to avoid the others.

Yoongi is stirring at least, shoving his face into the arm of the couch while he mutters about seahorses and bicycles and tries to pull a pillow over his ears. “Your room would be more quiet,” Namjoon says quietly, lifting the pillow and bending down close to Yoongi’s ear so he can hear over the noise of five pairs of shoes being kicked against the wall.

“It’s so far,” Yoongi complains. “To much work.”

“It’s that or have everyone be very loudly concerned about your health,” Namjoon points out. As he rather suspected it might the statement makes Yoongi crack an eye at him consideringly. Yoongi loves when the members shower him in love, it’s a well known fact, but a Yoongi in this stage of sickness generally wants to be left alone. “You know I’m right,” Namjoon adds, tugging very gently on one of Yoongi’s wrists. His skin is hot to the touch but not quite enough that Namjoon will insist they take his temperature. He feels like he’s pushing his luck as it is. “C’mon, you’ll feel better in an actual bed.”

Yoongi groans quietly but lets Namjoon tug him up off the couch and toward the bedrooms. Namjoon half expects Yoongi to pull his hand back once he’s standing but instead Yoongi grabs tighter as they walk. He sways into Namjoon with every other step, their shoulders brushing. When they get to his room he stumbles the last few steps to flop gracelessly across his bed with a groan.

“So much walking,” he whines. “You’re mean, Joon-ah.” Namjoon tries not to laugh. Maybe a snail would find their apartment difficult to cross but there’s no chance anyone else would. It’s the approximate size of a postage stamp.

“I know I am.” He pushes at Yoongi’s legs until they’re fully on the bed. Yoongi immediately curls on his side, tucking his hands between his knees. Namjoon grabs an extra blanket off the floor and covers him with it. That seems easier than trying to convince him to get under the covers. “Make sure you wash that sweater, eh? Don’t want your sick germs in my closet.”

There’s a noise that he thinks is one of assent but he can’t be quite sure. Yoongi appears to have fallen back asleep with a speed that the healthy Yoongi would envy. Namjoon gets the urge to smooth his bangs back from his forehead and give him a kiss. He settles for smoothing the top of the blanket again instead.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Namjoon finds Yoongi wearing the sweater unexpectedly a few times in the following months. Each time it happens he finds himself on high alert for sore throats, an increase in lethargy (for Yoongi, anyways), and a decrease in appetite (sometimes hard to spot). The thing is that no matter how closely he looks Yoongi never seems sick, or at least not so sick that it shows. Maybe a bit quiet, a bit more withdrawn, a bit more likely to observe instead of participate, but close enough to the normal range of his personality it might all be in Namjoon’s head. After deliberation Namjoon decides not to ask. Yoongi’s got a bit better at accepting help but… not much.

He sticks close to Yoongi’s side instead, prepared with the defense that he’d do the same for any of the members if it looked like they were feeling off just in case Yoongi asks about it. He tries to make sure the kids don’t get too rambunctious with their roughhousing, that their fridge and cupboards are stocked with at least of few of Yoongi’s favourites, and that the video game noise is kept to a minimum.

The chief downside to Yoongi occasionally borrowing the sweater ahead of time is that sometimes when Namjoon wants to wear it it’s not in his closet. The first few times he lets it slide (it isn’t like he’s short on sweaters, after all) but after a particularly bad day in the studio he goes home early and gives in to the temptation for thievery.

He slips into Seokjin and Yoongi’s room and doesn’t even have to go to the closet to find the sweater. It’s draped haphazardly over Yoongi’s pillow, a bright spot against the muted colours Yoongi prefers in his bedding. Namjoon snatches it up and, feeling unreasonably like a thief in the night, and then angry that he feels like he’s thieving at all when it’s his sweater, steals away back to his room.

There’s nothing wrong with throwing himself a minor pity party, he consoles himself, as he shucks his jeans and jacket and crawls into the sweater. He’s feeling run down, a pencil in need of sharpening and no sharpener to be found. He wants to sleep for somewhere between twelve and twenty four hours. Thanks to the appointment with the stylists to do touch-ups on his hair before they start the day’s schedules he will have to make do with ten. He’s determined to make each of them count.

A quick glance in the group chat lets him know he has the room to himself for at least three hours.

seokjin-hyung
namjoon we’re going for supper are you going to emerge from your cave long enough to grace us with your presence?

seokjin-hyung
i’m going to take your continued silence as a “no”

seokjin-hyung
last chance!

He lets himself fall face-first into his pillows and folds the blankets over him instead of bothering to get under them properly. He’s on the verge of dozing off when he’s startled awake by his phone, buzzing in his hand.

He blinks at it stupidly a few times. He could have sworn he’d plugged it in to charge, had put it on silent. He wants to go back to sleep, but now that he knows he has a message waiting he won’t be able to manage it until he knows who it is.

He turns on the screen and flicks it unlocked.

yoongi-hyung
where r u?

Namjoon reads the message twice. He locks and unlocks his phone again. The message is still there, black and grey on the screen. The timestamp indicates it’s recent.

Yoongi doesn’t usually message at all, let alone initiate a conversation in any way that isn’t face-to-face. Usually it’s the other members messaging Yoongi and waiting ages for a reply, things like hyung where are you or did you sleep at the studio again hyung or Yoongichii if you don’t come home right now I’m expropriating your bed. The only one even close to being as bad at replying is Jungkook, and at least he responds when it’s important.

namjoon
in my room?

He figures he’ll have at least a minute to stew, wondering about why Yoongi might be texting him.

yoongi-hyung
stay there.

The reply comes fast enough Namjoon is more than a little concerned. Whatever’s wrong it must be important. As much as he wants to sleep he should probably make sure he stays awake until Yoongi gets there. He lets himself stay horizontal at least and then, for something to do that isn’t stare mindlessly at another screen, mentally queues up the choreo they’ll be rehearsing the next day, after he gets his hair dyed, before the interview and photoshoot they have scheduled, to kill the time.

God their schedule can be grueling.

Namjoon hasn’t even reached the first chorus when there’s someone knocking at his door. He hits his mental pause button, muscles aching as though they were actually holding the pose he’d stopped at, but doesn’t get farther than rolling onto his back before Yoongi bursts in.

That’s… unusual. Yoongi is not well known around the dorm for being high energy, for all he knows how to turn it on for the cameras. Seokjin bursting through a door is far more believable, or maybe Taehyung, or even Hoseok. The fact that it’s Yoongi makes Namjoon freeze, trying to figure out what’s happening.

Yoongi doesn’t give him the chance. “What’s wrong?” he demands as he skids to a halt in the middle of Namjoon’s floor. He sounds ever so slightly out of breath. Namjoon can see the seams on his shirt, not to mention the tags; somehow Yoongi has managed to get his shirt on inside-out and backwards. It seems unlikely the choices stem from some newly-discovered fashion sense.

“I was about to ask you that,” Namjoon says by way of answer. He can feel his eyebrows drawing together, the corners of his mouth pulling down. “What’s wrong?”

Yoongi frowns back at him. “You took the sweater. And it wasn’t your week yet.”

“You take it from me sometimes!” Namjoon twists around so he can prop himself up and look at Yoongi without straining anything.

“When I’m not fe-” Yoongi starts, but he bites off the rest of whatever he was going to say, changes it instead to “And this is the first time you have.” He doesn’t shift out of the middle of the room, his body leaning in Namjoon’s direction, his hards floating by his side as if he can’t quite decide what to do with them.

Namjoon is torn between laughing and flipping the hood up, pulling the drawstring tight, so he doesn’t have to look at Yoongi anymore. When I’m not feeling well. Namjoon hadn’t misinterpreted the pattern. Yoongi knew full-well what he was doing, and now Namjoon has taken the sweater out of turn, and-

Well. Namjoon might as well have walked around outside Yoongi’s room with pots and pans screaming today I feel like shit.

Yoongi hasn’t moved from his position in the middle of Namjoon’s floor. His expression matches the one Namjoon saw on the face of a kitten once. It had spent it’s whole life trying to escape the confines of a house only to find that, when faced with the outside, it had no idea what to do next. Somehow the sight of it makes Namjoon feel better.

So does sitting up properly, swinging his legs over the edge of his bed.

“I thought everyone had gone for supper,” he says as a stalling tactic.

Yoongi snorts. “Obviously not.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I can see that.”

They stare at each other. Yoongi’s hands float in the air, not quite settling by his side, looking for something to do. He’s not going to leave until he gets an answer to whatever question it is he can’t quite bring himself to ask using his words. He’s asking with every other part of himself instead, in the twitch of his fingers, the tilt of his head, the way he’s got his lower lip caught between his teeth.

Namjoon tries to figure out where to start. “It’s like a hug,” he says at last.

“I’m getting this sense of deja vu,” Yoongi says, his voice barely above a whisper. His hands float down to his sides as he relaxes. “You know we-”

Namjoon wouldn’t forget that conversation as long as he lived. He can feel a laugh start in his stomach at the absurdity that that is where Yoongi’s mind went but it does in his throat. “I know we have lots of huggers in our group,” he interrupts Yoongi. “It’s just… sometimes you don’t want to ask, you know? because it feels like you’re imposing? And if they really wanted to they-”

He breaks off as he breaks eye contact. He can’t say what he wants to say while he’s watching Yoongi watch him talk. He knows he’ll see a level of understanding in Yoongi’s eyes that he’s unprepared for. “So it’s nice. It’s almost a hug. You know?”

There’s silence in the room. His ears focus on the hum of Jungkook’s computer, then the tick of the clock, then the sound of his breath rushing in and out of his lungs. He keeps his eyes fixed on his feet. His toenails are getting long. They don’t walk around barefoot often enough anyone has bothered to get him a pedicure.

“Can I sit?” Yoongi asks at last into the silence.

Namjoon nods. He’s not sure he trusts his voice to speak.

To his surprise Yoongi doesn’t sit on the end of the bed. He sits right beside Namjoon, so close that when the bed dips with his weight their thighs press together, skin to skin. Yoongi is wearing his kumamon boxers with his inside-out-and-backwards t-shirt. Namjoon focuses on the sight of their knees kissing so he doesn’t think about anything else, like how warm his knee feels, and how hot his eyes.

They sit in silence for a few more seconds, and then Yoongi gives him a hug.

It’s awkward, the way hugs from the side often are, and as much as Namjoon wants to let himself melt into it he just can’t. There’s something sour in his chest, tightening around his throat. “Yah!” he protests, trying to wriggle free, “You don’t have to do that hyung, don’t feel obligated just because-”

“Have I ever done anything I didn’t want to out of a sense of obligation?” Yoongi’s grip tightens. Namjoon stops flailing. Yoongi’s managed to put his head on Namjoon’s shoulder, his hair soft against Namjoon’s neck. Namjoon doesn’t want to have to explain how he accidentally gave Yoongi a black eye. He doesn’t think trying to escape from a hug would cut it.

“Yes,” he grumbles instead, sighing and letting his own head drop on top of Yoongi’s. Yoongi’s hair is as soft against his cheek as it is against his neck. “You’re one of the most duty-conscious people I know.”

Yoongi squeezes him again, huffing a laugh. “That’s fair enough. But this isn’t… this isn’t one of those times.” Yoongi swallows, turns his head so he’s speaking into Namjoon’s shoulder instead of the air. “Seemed like the right thing. The sweater is almost as good as a real hug but almost is still almost.”

Namjoon has lived with Yoongi long enough that he knows Yoongi sometimes tells little white lies if he thinks it will make things easier, and he thinks no one will notice. He knows Yoongi well enough to know that this isn’t one of those times. It makes the sour thing around the base of his throat tighten again, but for a completely different reason.

He lets himself relax into the hug, then relax further as Yoongi’s hand tentatively starts to rub up and down along his arm. Yoongi’s breathing is slow and even, like he’s focusing on it. Namjoon breathes in time with him. The knot of worry in his chest starts to loosen.

“I’m not sure what it is,” Yoongi says after a while. “But whatever it is you’ll… we’ll… you have what you need… um…”

“Are you trying to say something inspiring right now hyung?” Namjoon’s voice sounds wet to his ears. He turns his head a bit so Yoongi won’t be able to see his face. His nose seems to be running. He sniffs.

“If this is the kind of gratitude I’m going to get for trying to be nice,” Yoongi grumbles, but he doesn’t pull away. Namjoon grins helplessly and sticks one of his knuckles into one of the gaps in Yoongi’s ribs, just on his side, to make him grumble louder. It works, and in the face of Yoongi’s half serious half relieved grumbling Namjoon finds himself chuckling.

Yoongi doesn’t appreciate the laughter and retaliates. The only thing that keeps it from descending into a protracted tickle fight is that neither of them are especially interested in engaging in one. It peters out before thirty seconds pass, the two of them toppled over on top of Namjoon’s bed. One of Yoongi’s arms ends up caught under Namjoon’s shoulder.

“Tickle fights are too much effort,” Yoongi complains.

“We’ll leave them to the younger members from now on,” Namjoon promises. He has Yoongi’s hands trapped between both of his. It was initially a method of self defense. Now it’s just… nice.

If Namjoon stays where he is Yoongi’s arm will fall asleep, so he shuffles down on the bed until Yoongi’s arm slips into the crook between his shoulder and neck. Yoongi shifts in response with a snuffling sigh, settling them together more comfortably.

Namjoon becomes very aware of the way his back is pressed against Yoongi’s chest, that one of Yoongi’s ankles has somehow wormed its way between Namjoon’s calves. He can’t feel Yoongi’s breath on the back of his neck because he has the hood up. He’s somehow more aware of that than he thinks he would be if the hood was down.

As if he’s somehow psychic among his many other fine qualities Yoongi extracts one of his hands from Namjoon’s hands to tug the hood down and run his fingers through Namjoon’s hair. Namjoon fights to keep his breathing even, to act like this innocuous act isn’t the final nail in the coffin of his tension. Not many people know Namjoon loves having his hair played with. Namjoon isn’t sure what to think of Yoongi engaging in it so deliberately.

(Namjoon can remember the first time it happened

“C’mon Namjoon-ah, it’s late. We should head back,” Yoongi said, reaching forward to ruffle Namjoon’s hair. They were in their studio, Namjoon in the chair in front of the computer, Yoongi standing behind him. There were eleven weeks until their debut. Tired and cold as he was Namjoon forgot to pretend to be disgruntled that his carefully combed hair was being mussed. He leaned into Yoongi’s hand instead, almost nuzzling the air as he automatically sought more, more.

He only noticed he’d done it because Yoongi laughed, quiet, more breath than noise. It wasn’t a noise Namjoon has had much occasion to hear. It was nice. He wanted to hear it again.

“You going to start purring now?” Yoongi teased, and Namjoon might have worried he was being made fun of except Yoongi had redoubled his efforts. It felt wonderful. Namjoon closed his eyes in bliss.

“Mmmno,” Namjoon lied. He was pretty sure if he’d been a cat he wouldn’t just be purring, he’d be rubbing up against Yoongi’s leg or sprawling across the cold carpet to demand more attention. As a human he wasn’t quite so shameless.

“And here I was thinking you didn’t like it!” Yoongi’s tone was a combination of mischievous and tender that made Namjoon feel warm clear through. It was better even than the yellow sweater he wore.

“The stylists don’t like it when my hair-” Namjoon started, but he cut off in a yawn. “And, well, it doesn’t really fit, you know, with the whole-”

“Yeah,” said Yoongi softly. He’d started using both hands then, sliding his long, strong fingers along Namjoon’s scalp from the nape of his neck all the way to his forehead. Namjoon melted into the touch. He never wanted to move ever again. “Yeah. Doesn’t fit with the image we’re trying to sell.”

“‘Zactly,” Namjoon mumbled. He wished he had something to nuzzle into properly. “Knew you’d get it.”)

The combination of Yoongi’s fingers through his hair and Yoongi’s gentle breathing on the back of his neck is calming. With Yoongi bracketing him he’s been given a reprieve from the world, a chance to be still and small and catch his breath. It’s been three nights running he hasn’t managed more than four hours of sleep, let alone four hours solid, and he is bone tired.

Yoongi’s breathing has evened out but he’s still awake. His fingers keep swirling in circles along the side of Namjoon’s head, his nails draggin lightly along his scalp. “You haven’t been sleeping, have you,” Yoongi says finally. It’s matter of fact, not a question.

Namjoon sighs and pushes back a bit so they are settled more firmly against each other instead of answering. Yoongi squeezes his arms once in quiet understanding. “Yeah, I know. It happens sometimes, and trust me on this, cutting out the coffee will make it worse.”

“Worse?”

They are close enough together Namjoon can feel Yoongi’s nose move along the back of his head as he shifts position. Some of his hair must get up Yoongi’s nose because Yoongi snorts. “Worse. You still can’t get to sleep properly, but you can’t wake up properly either.”

“Sounds miserable,” Namjoon says around a yawn. He’s not sure if he’s imagining it but it feels like Yoongi’s smiling.

“Definitely miserable.”

There’s a long pause, long enough Namjoon would think Yoongi has fallen asleep if not for his fingers moving through Namjoon’s hair. Namjoon is half asleep by the time Yoongi speaks again. “Where’s Jungkook?”

“They went out to a movie, supper and maybe a game cafe after,” Namjoon says. “If you bothered checking your phone…”

Yoongi grunts noncommittally, his hand disappearing from Namjoon’s hair presumably to reach for Namjoon’s phone. Namjoon makes a noise of protests and is startled when he feels something squeeze his hands reassuringly. I’ve been holding his other hand the whole time, Namjoon realizes, and then, Yoongi’s been letting me hold his hand this whole time.

The light from Namjoon’s lockscreen brightens the room around them. Namjoon lets his hands tighten around the one Yoongi is still letting him hold. If he’s not wrong, and he doesn’t think he is, they still have hours until the others get back.

“Nap time,” Yoongi says firmly. Namjoon hears the sound of his phone being set on the bedside table, then feels Yoongi’s arm snake around his chest. Yoongi’s hand slips back between Namjoon’s. “Go to sleep, Joon-ah.”

Namjoon doesn’t really want to. He wants to be able to remember every second of the floating feeling suffusing his limbs, the way Yoongi is a solid warmth against his back. His mixtape concerns feel far away and he really wants to bask in that for a couple minutes. He can breathe. He’d forgotten what it was like, to breathe properly. He thinks he likes it.

He’s asleep in seconds.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Things don’t fix themselves magically, but they do become slightly more bearable now that Namjoon has a way to very subtly say today sucks I’d like a hug please without having to come right out and use those words. True, sometimes he just wants to wear one of his favourite sweaters because it’s his favourite sweater, and not because he’s having some sort of horrible day, but he can’t ever bring himself to be annoyed at Yoongi for checking in.

“Sometimes I just want to wear my favourite sweater,” he says the third time he catches Yoongi sidling over in what he obviously thinks is a circumspect fashion. Yoongi has his eyes narrowed suspiciously, as though he thinks Namjoon might not be the best judge of his current mental state. “I do,” Namjoon says, firmly.

Yoongi sniffs, once, and rests his arm along the back of Namjoon’s shoulders anyway. There’s no way it’s entirely comfortable, not with Namjoon’s shoulders several inches higher than Yoongi’s, but he isn’t about to pass up a half-hug. He wraps his own arm over Yoongi’s shoulders for good measure and squeezes. The two of them lean on each other until it’s time for dance practice to start.

With the tour (a tour!) there’s less time to devote to his mixtape and more time spent in rehearsals, and traveling, and rehearsing, and traveling. He works when he can, in the hotel late at night, on the plane, but it’s hard. The only thing that makes it even a bit bearable is he can see Yoongi working too, backstage, at the dinner table, while they wait in the airport.

They get a brief respite from travel early in the new year and Namjoon is filled with tentative hope at what he might be able to accomplish. He’s got a release date penciled in his calendar but he wants to be able to write it in pen, to etch it in stone, to make it permanent and achieved. They’re going to have time, and he’s going to get it done if it kills him.

He listens through his songs a few times on what is supposed to be their last long bus ride and takes notes of everything he wants to change. The problems start when it comes to actually making the changes because if they aren’t in rehearsal they’re in meetings, and if they aren’t in meetings then they’re recording for the group’s album, and if they aren’t recording then they’re back in rehearsals again. It becomes apparent very quickly that respite from travel does not equate to a respite from work. It feels like the only time they have any time to themselves is the time they are supposed to dedicate to sleeping and eating, so Namjoon takes to sleeping and eating in the studio.

It’s safer in the studio. For one thing the walls are soundproof, more or less, which means that he won’t have anyone rushing to check on him when he screams. For another it’s a lot harder for others to nag him to take a break. He doesn’t even have to fight Yoongi for the studio time. Yoongi had taken one look at him, standing mutinously in the studio door, and said in his blunt way my laptop is good enough for what I’m working on right now. Namjoon has seen hide nor hair of him near the studio since.

His frustration with his work has grown to such a size that it doesn’t fit properly in his body anymore. It leaks out to snap along comments that should have been neutral and make his eyes roll more than is healthy. He apologizes whenever he catches himself doing it but from the way they all start to be careful around him he can tell he’s not catching them all. It hurts a bit, to see them tentative around him, but he’s not sure what else to do. He needs to get this done. He doesn’t have time to unwind.

The third - well, he’s not sure what time of day it is, beyond after rehearsal and before the next rehearsal, so he mentally christens it break and gets on with things - the third break in a row they get where he disappears to the studio instead of to wherever it is they’re technically supposed to be (sleeping, probably, or showering) Yoongi sticks his head through the studio door just as Namjoon is getting his headphones on.

Yoongi’s intent is good. He comes bearing coffee and an uncooked instant ramen, and tries to say something along the lines of don’t get so distracted you try and cook the ramen with the coffee, trust your hyung on this it doesn’t taste right and Namjoon snaps. Just a little, but it’s enough.

It’s not his proudest moment.

Yoongi’s expression, carefully neutral up to this point, shifts to artfully blank. Namjoon only sees the tell showing he’s upset at all (the minute way the pout in the corners of Yoongi’s mouth get more pronounced) because he’s had four years of training to learn it. He watches as Yoongi stoops to leave coffee and ramen just inside the door then back out of it. He can’t bring himself to apologize before the door clicks softly shut.

Now on top of everything else he feels guilty, guilty guilty guilty, and has as unproductive a session as previously had only been found in his nightmares. He stumbles home so late the sky in the east is already brightening with a wash of pale greens and yellows, gnawing on his guilt and the uncooked ramen.

It’s for the best they don’t all share the same room anymore, he reflects. There’s less a chance he’ll accidentally run into Yoongi before he can form coherent sentences again. That’s good. It’s hard to apologize when you can’t speak properly.

The room he shares with Jungkook is mostly dark except for one long strip of light from the city that spills through their blackout curtains and across his bed. Namjoon is ready to throw himself into it when he sees that there’s something illuminated by the lights, something that looks like it could be yellow, in a different light, and possibly a sweater in any light at all. He stares at it for a full three minutes, listening to Jungkook’s gentle snoring, before he can get his addled brain to figure out what his next steps are going to be. Fuck he’s tired.

He shucks his jeans and steps on the toes of his socks to pull them off. He wriggles out of his cardigan and long sleeved shirt and t-shirt and then, clad only in thin, worn boxers, slides the sweater over his head. Only when he’s comfortably settled inside does he let himself think about the fact he’s been carefully avoiding since he set foot in the room.

It’s supposed to be Yoongi’s turn.

(He knows that it’s supposed to be Yoongi’s turn because as they’d been sorting out the laundry he’d had the sweater in his hands, had actually been holding it, when Yoongi had walked in with a grin, grabbed it, and said “I don’t think so Kim Namjoon, it’s hyung’s turn next,” with a delighted smirk the likes of which Namjoon would do any number of things to see again.

Namjoon had been skeptical of the claim, had even gone so far as to pull out his phone to open his calendar. He hadn’t considered the fact that opening the calendar in front of Yoongi was a very good way to make sure that Yoongi saw what he had stored there, including the small yellow circle he used to mark when the sweater had changed hands.

“Of course you track it,” Yoongi said, and rather then sounding delighted at potential blackmail material he mostly sounded fond. “Of course you do.” He patted Namjoon’s left cheek twice, his thumb brushing Namjoon just where his dimple would show if he smiled, and said, “Make sure you write that in, Joon-ah. Hyung’s week.”)

The sweater very obviously hasn’t been washed yet. Usually when he gets it back it smells like their laundry detergent but this time it smells faintly of Yoongi, with notes of his shampoo and cologne. It’s a nice smell, a comforting smell. Namjoon pulls the hood up over his head and pulls the drawstring more so he can get the most of the effect. It’s almost as good as one of Yoongi’s hugs. Almost.

He doesn’t undo the strings on the hood until he’s ready to crawl under his blankets and sprawl on his back, legs splayed to the corners of the mattress, hands out by his side. He takes several deep breaths like that, enjoying the feeling of his spine straightening, before he takes pity on Jungkook and flips to his stomach. Everyone says he snores less that way.

Something crinkles under his stomach as he turns over. When he shoves his hand in the pocket he’s not sure if he is surprised or not when his fingers hit paper. He has to bite back a groan even as he wriggles a bit to extract the note without tearing it.

The streetlamps outside continue to spill in through their curtains, offering Namjoon enough light to read by. He reads do as I say, not as I do, and leave the studio at a reasonable hour next time. It’s signed hyung. Namjoon finds himself having to fight to stop himself crumpling up the paper and throwing it across the room (where it would have a chance of hitting Jungkook) as he feels a swell of some nameless, overwhelming emotion.

He spins the page around and around in his fingers, and it’s luck more than anything that means that on one of the turns his eye catches sight of the hasty scrawl on the back. Get some sleep, Joon-ah, it reads in the same messy writing. It’s signed, even though it doesn’t need to be, Syub Syub.

Namjoon snorts, which turns into a laugh. He can’t stop laughing once he starts and then he finds himself crying instead, his face buried in the pillow to try and muffle the sound, but once he starts crying he finds it impossible to stop.

“Hyung?” asks Jungkook, voice deep with sleep, brimming with concern. “Is everything okay?”

“Just tired, Kook,” he hiccups unconvincingly. “Go back to sleep.”

When Jungkook speaks again Namjoon can hear the frown in his voice. “Are you sure?”

Namjoon has never been so sure of something in his whole life, but before he can say anything he can hear the sound of Jungkook’s sheets being flipped back, of Jungkook’s feet padding across the floor. “I’m fine,” he repeats, but his voice is still thick, and he sniffs involuntarily.

The quality of the air in the room changes as Jungkook frowns and leans forward. He looks rather like Namjoon’s mother when she’s about to offer a full menu of different ways he might want to be cared for. Namjoon sniffs again and can’t help but feel fond. It’s obvious to him now that Jungkook won’t leave him alone until he’s feeling better. “Maybe some water?”

“Yes,” Jungkook says at once. “Water. Yes. I can do that.” He disappears through their door, leaving Namjoon to lie in bed and try and get his breathing back under control before he gets back.

He flips onto his side, the paper clutched in his fist, and thinks very hard about the sound of air rushing in to his lungs, the sound of his heart beat in his ears as he holds his breath, and then the sound of the air rushing out of his lungs. It’s the same trick he uses before going on stage, and sometimes before going into big meetings, and every now and then in the studio, when the world feels so big and he feels so small.

It works better than expected. He wakes up with a bad headache and a sandpapery tongue. His head is tipped to the side, a small damp patch of drool on his pillow. When he tries to open his eyelids he would swear they’d been replaced with sandpaper if he didn’t know that was impossible. The perils of falling asleep with his contacts in, even if only for a short period of time.

There are two glasses of water beside his bed, mismatched in the way most of their dishes are. Two small pills sit between them, the generic painkillers they all use probably more than they should. In his fingers he can feel the note develop a new crease as he shifts positions in preparation for sitting up.

Namjoon doesn’t hesitate to exchange the note for the pills, swallowing them dry and chasing them with water. As he sets the glass down he catches sight of Jungkook, or more accurately Jungkook’s back. If he’s still awake he’s doing a good job of pretending to be asleep.

He’ll say thank you in the morning, Namjoon decides as he starts the painful process of extracting dry contacts from his eyes. If Jungkook is giving him the space to finish processing whatever it is that he’s feeling before he talks about it he’ll take it, and gladly.

He holds on to the feeling of calm that came over him just before he drifted off with trembling fingertips and hunts through his bag, dropped unceremoniously beside his bed, for his notebook. He flips it open to the back cover and tucks the now well-creased note in the pocket with the others.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

He doesn’t say anything and Yoongi doesn’t ask. Jungkook tries to, in his quiet, roundabout way, but he doesn’t push when Namjoon shrugs him off as gently as he can. Namjoon marks his turn in the calendar and makes sure that the sweater slips back into its proper rotation when they next do laundry.

Things go more smoothly for him in the weeks that follow. He’s not sure what, exactly, clicks into place, but something does and he starts to feel less like he’s falling behind, more like he is keeping pace and maybe, possibly, gaining ground. He doesn’t want to attribute it to the sweater but he can’t help but chalk one up in the win column for it anyway.

The others don’t comment on it directly, but from the way the whole dorm seems to feel lighter now he has to think that his mood had translated farther than he’d been aware of. He can’t quite bring himself to apologize outright but he can, and does, do everyone’s chores before he disappears to the studio with a bounce in his step.

The final blow to his bout of melancholy comes when he gets confirmation from the company that they’ve set a date for his release, for his music video filming, for all the meetings that will come before. It’s the one bright spot in a day particularly long, full of interviews and commercial filming and photoshoots. When they get back to the dorms he isn’t nearly as tired as he by rights should be.

Yoongi on the other hand stomps out of the van and into the dorm. He kicks off his shoes so hard in the front hall that the sole of one make a faint scuff on the wall. He thunders across the dorm to the room he and Seokjin share. The sound of the door slamming shut seconds later echoes through the quiet apartment. At least the managers weren’t with them.

Namjoon stares at Yoongi’s shoes, left haphazardly where they fell, then at Seokjin, who is chewing on his bottom lip, then at Hoseok, who is studiously hanging up his coat and not looking around. Namjoon glances down to make sure he doesn’t trip over his own feet while he takes his shoes off . When he looks up again it’s to see Seokjin already looking at him.

“I think,” says Seokjin, throwing his arm deliberately around Jungkook’s shoulders without breaking eye contact with Namjoon, “It’s high time we remember who among us is the best at Rainbow Road. Jungkook come on, let me cream you a few times to release the tension of the day.”

“Why is it always me you think will lose?” Jungkook whines as he extracts himself from under Seokjin’s arm. “I’m younger, aren’t I? So I’ve got better reflexes?”

“Yeah, why is it always him?” Taehyung asks, arms crossed. “Are you playing favourites Seokjin-hyung? Are you going to let him insult us like that Jiminie?”

Taehyung and Jimin practically race to the GameCube, with Seokjin and Jungkook following at a more sedate pace. Hoseok lingers just long enough to tilt his head to the side as though he’s considering saying something to Namjoon. Namjoon raises his eyebrow to see if that will help loosen his tongue.

It doesn’t. Hoseok shakes his head and disappears after the others into the living room. Namjoon peers in as he walks past. The kids and Seokjin already have their controllers in hand. Everyone is looking very determinedly at the screen.

If it wouldn’t completely wreck their attempts to pretend like they weren’t very very consciously trying to stay out of whatever was about to happen, to not even acknowledge there was something that was going to happen, Namjoon would give them each a hug.

He stops by his room and hunts through his closet to find a pair of track pants. Once he’s changed he goes back to the closet and extracts the yellow sweater. He doesn’t put it on, but drapes it over his arm instead.

The laughter from the living room sounds forced as he walks toward the door to the metaphorical lion’s den. He knocks twice, quietly, then twice more with more force. When there’s no response he says, “If you don’t tell me to go away I’m coming in,” and, in the face of the ensuing extended silence, enters.

He half expects to be asked to leave before he takes three steps inside. The horribly polite, horribly quiet voice Yoongi gets when he’s truly upset isn’t quite loud enough to carry through a door. He half expects Yoongi to be sitting up and glaring at him defiantly.

He doesn’t expect to be completely ignored but that is what happens. Yoongi is lying face down on his bed, not even curled up on his side. He doesn’t so much as shift as Namjoon closes the door behind him.

The room is small, filled to the brim with beds and wardrobes and dressers, but also shelves full of plushies and video games. There’s not quite a line down the middle but there is a definite personality to the two halves, bleeding together in places but for the most part distinct. Namjoon steps carefully over a few plushies that have obviously fallen off both their beds to cross to where Yoongi is and poke him in the shoulder.

“Hyung?”

Yoongi doesn’t move. Namjoon hadn’t really been expecting him to. Exhaustion is etched in every line of his body. Yoongi’s chest shudders slightly as he breathes in, then out. Namjoon frowns.

“Hyung,” he says again, more insistent. He doesn’t poke Yoongi’s shoulder this time. He rests his hand on the back of Yoongi’s neck. Yoongi can’t control the automatic jerk of surprise. Namjoon’s hand slips off, and Yoongi turns to stare at Namjoon.

Hoseok always carries makeup removing cloths in whatever bag he happens to be using that day. Yoongi must have borrowed some in the van. There’s no way their stylists would let him take pictures with bags that large under his eyes. Namjoon has seen bigger, but only once, when he and Yoongi were deciding whether or not they would stay on as idol trainees.

He holds out the sweater, letting the gesture speak for itself. It feels like the first time he’d offered it to Yoongi somehow. His fear of rejection is just as great. His determination to at least try matches it.

Yoongi keeps staring. Namjoon keeps his arm extended. “Just… if you want it,” he says at last, when it becomes apparent one of them is going to have to say something and that that someone is not going to be Yoongi.

Silence falls again. Time feels frozen. Namjoon can hear his blood rushing through his ears, can feel his eyelashes on his cheek as he blinks and waits. It feels like a glitch in the spacetime continuum when Yoongi moves at last, propping himself up on his elbows so he can extend one hand for the sweater. Their fingers don’t quite brush, and then Namjoon has to let go.

Yoongi collapses back onto the bed and squirms for a few seconds until he’s lying on his side, legs curled up, back facing out. Namjoon lets out the breath he’s been holding. It sounds loud in the quiet room. “I’ll come get you for supper, okay?”

Yoongi doesn’t move, doesn’t respond.

There’s something on his mind, that much is obvious. Equally obvious is the fact that he doesn’t want to talk about it. Namjoon hovers for a few seconds, unsure what he wants to do. He decides to leave but doesn’t get any farther than turning for the door before he hears “Namjoonie?”

He looks back at the bed. Yoongi has flopped onto his back again, one arm extended in Namjoon’s direction. Namjoon steps closer and Yoongi grabs his arm, thumb pressing against the soft skin of his inner wrist. His mouth works like he’s trying to say something but nothing comes out. Namjoon can see the hand not holding Namjoon’s wrist convulse, gripping the sweater tighter.

“Don’t worry about it hyung,” Namjoon says, wrapping his free hand around Yoongi’s on his wrist. He’s not sure what exactly he’s telling Yoongi not to worry about, but that isn’t the point. The point is that Yoongi is looking at him through tired eyes, already drooping closed, and there’s a crease between his eyebrows. “Get some rest, okay?”

Yoongi looks worn thin and shaky, the last bar of a note sustained with too little support from the diaphragm. Namjoon is sure that Yoongi’s expression is saying something important but it’s out of focus, the message lost to Namjoon for once. Yoongi bites his lip, looks like he’s considering saying something, but doesn’t, just drops Namjoon’s hand and curls away from him again, facing the wall, clutching the sweater like it’s a security blanket.

He hasn’t put it on though, hasn’t even moved to do it, and Namjoon invited himself in and wasn’t asked to stay. He can take the hint. He leaves, closing the door faintly behind him, then leans his back against it and slides to the floor. The noise from the living room sounds less forced now, genuine laughter mixing with the sounds of the Rainbow Road theme. He checks his phone. The managers are bringing them food later. One less thing they’ll have to worry about.

He doesn’t feel ready to join the group in the living room but he wants an excuse for his delay so he goes to the kitchen instead. He gets down a glass and fills it with water from the fridge, drinks half of it too quickly and has to pause to make sure he doesn’t get brain freeze. The pause gives him time to think, once he’s done thinking ow ow ow.

It would be as good an excuse as any, wouldn’t it? Being thirsty is unpleasant if left unchecked, and Yoongi’s had a long day of talking, and dancing, and letting himself be posed like a doll. He probably wouldn’t kick Namjoon out for bringing him a glass of water. He’s probably asleep, and Namjoon is just making sure he has something to drink when he wakes up. No harm in that.

He brings his glass too, when he walks to Yoongi’s room, and has to juggle them both to get a hand free to turn the knob to open the door. Yoongi hasn’t changed position but he certainly has moved. Namjoon can tell because even though his body is in the same position he’s wearing the yellow sweater and has a blanket folded over his legs.

The door creaks when it gets half way open, ruining Namjoon’s plan of sneaking in unannounced. Yoongi startles, looking over his shoulder at the noise. The bags under his eyes look darker now that his eyes are also red-rimmed and puffy. Namjoon doesn’t hesitate to sit down on the side of Yoongi’s bed, holding out the glass of water. Yoongi looks at it like sitting up to take it would take him all day. Namjoon sets it on the closest flat surface instead, noticing the empty night-time-cold-and-sinus-relief packages littering it, and uses his now free hand to rest on Yoongi’s knee.

There’s no point in asking are you okay. Yoongi is very obviously not okay, not by their usual definition of the word at least. Asking would be pointless, would make Yoongi answer yes reflexively. Namjoon asks, “Do you want to talk about it?” instead and Yoongi doesn’t say yes but he doesn’t say no either.

There’s still no invitation but Namjoon lies down beside him anyways, squeezing in to the twin bed, caging Yoongi between his body and the wall. Yoongi stays where he is as Namjoon shuffles closer, then turns, all at once, to hide his face in Namjoon’s neck, tucking his nose in where it meets Namjoon shoulder. He’s shaking as he presses close, and Namjoon turns on his side so he can gather him up properly. His arm will fall asleep soon if he keeps this up, but it’s for Yoongi. He doesn’t mind.

In a halting voice Yoongi explains that even before their schedule for the day had started he’d gone with the managers to a meeting, where he’d told everyone that he was going to delay the release of his mixtape. “It’s just not ready,” Yoongi says, his voice quiet and flat. It’s worse than if he were crying. His body shivers again, but he keeps his voice level. “It’s not ready, and I had to tell them, and it feels like I’ve failed.”

It’s a feeling Namjoon knows all too well. Their company gives them a lot of freedom, more freedom, he thinks, than the other would, to work on their own projects. When a project doesn’t go right it feels like the trust has been misplaced, has been squandered.

“They let me borrow a studio,” Yoongi whispers, “And I still couldn’t… I still…”

There’s nothing to say, not really. Namjoon loves words, loves expressing himself through words, but in this moment he doesn’t have anything prepared and there’s nothing he can say that Yoongi probably hasn’t already said to himself. His hyung is smart like that, smarter than he lets on, and he knows that sometimes you need to be sad and come to terms with something on your own.

What Namjoon can do is exactly what he’s already doing. He can hug Yoongi tight, rub soothing circles in his back, and give him a shoulder to not-cry on. At some point their fingers end up laced together, Yoongi clinging to Namjoon’s hand with both of his own, Namjoon letting out a startled hiss of surprise when Yoongi squeezes, hard, in time with his eyes squeezing shut. He forgets, often, that Yoong’s hands, so long and delicate, are also also very strong.

“Sorry,” Yoongi gasps, trying to pull his hands back.

Namjoon is too fast for him, tightening his grip before Yoongi can get away cleanly. “Just surprised, is all,” Namjoon says, and then, because he’s started talking, “You’ll get there someday, hyung,” which seems trite, and possibly tactless, but Yoongi flinches in to him and holds tighter so he squeezes his arms and says “I know you will.”

Impulsively he kisses the top of Yoongi’s head, like he would if it was Jungkook or Jimin or Taehyung he was comforting. He isn’t smote by lightning or kicked bodily out of bed so he figures he wasn’t too out of line. He doesn’t push his luck by trying it again. He does go back to rubbing Yoongi’s back however, still slow, gentle circles, and doesn’t shift out of the way when Yoongi finally falls asleep.

Namjoon listens for the telltale sign of raised voices and clatter of dishes that will indicate the arrival of dinner. When he hears it he cajoles Yoongi up and out of bed, then down to the kitchen. Takeout containers are spread all over the counters haphazardly. There’s not a huge amount left seeing as how everyone else already has already grabbed their food and taken it back to their tiny living area.

To say that Yoongi looks unenthusiastic about the food would be an understatement. He looks at Namjoon. Namjoon doesn’t say anything, but he doesn’t look away. Fine says the downturned corner of Yoongi’s mouth as he picks up a plate. Happy?

With their plates loaded up Namjoon leads the way to the rest of the group. Yoongi follows without complaint, and the others budge up on the couch so the two of them can sit side by side. Their elbows knock as they eat. Yoongi’s feet end up tucked under Namjoon’s legs.

Yoongi looks very marginally better as the evening wears on. He keeps his eyes either on his plate or watching the screen. They’ve switched to one-on-one racing, the loser having to keep playing and therefore not eating. Yoongi doesn’t say anything at first, but by the end of dinner he’s stopped looking like he’s trying to figure out how to murder their already dead chicken a second time and has even started to make the occasional sarcastic comment about the relative video game abilities of whoever is playing.

The air in the room feels lighter, the light filtering in through their curtains seems brighter, when Yoongi retreats to his room a second time. He says goodnight first though, patting Namjoon’s knee though his ripped jeans and giving him a smile. It’s maybe a bit smaller than usual, but real. They don’t even hear his door close.

The sweater is already back on Namjoon’s bed before he goes to sleep. The note in the pocket reads thanks for the nap. There’s a doodle of a cat sleeping, done using simple lines like Namjoon learned in school when he was very, very young. The note isn’t signed. It doesn’t need to be.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Namjoon adds napping to the list of activities he occasionally suggests when he finds Yoongi wearing the yellow sweater and looking especially worn. It works out well - those naps are probably the most he sleeps at one time over the next few months. Time is his most precious commodity and it feels wasteful to spend too much of it shut down when there’s so much work to be done, decisions to be made, reviews to be had, all in advance of his mixtape release.

He tries his best not to bring the subject up whenever Yoongi is around. Yoongi never says anything but his expression gets pinched around the edges, and it looks like he’s biting the inside of his cheeks. Namjoon feels awkward enough as it is. He isn’t going to make things worse if he can figure out how not to.

The days slip through his fingers. He stops thinking of things in terms of dates and thinks of them in terms of time. There are fourteen days until he needs to make a decision about the cover art. There are twelve days until he has to submit his mixes to the company for a final revision. There are ten days until he films his music video. Then there are six. Then there are three. Then it’s tomorrow.

They’re cutting it a bit too close to the release date for his comfort but with their other scheduled commitments it can’t be helped. All he can do is go to bed early, hope that sleep finds him quickly, and be ready to go when he wakes up.

He’s no stranger to filming music videos but before it was always the seven of them working. This time the camera is focused on him and only him for the duration. He doesn’t get breaks while they film others, and there are no jokes from Seokjin to help pass the time, no antics from Jimin, no cackling laughter from Jungkook. It feels like he’s trying to walk with a rock in his shoe, or maybe missing six toes. He can do it, but it’s uncomfortable.

When the members drop by to surprise him with dinner he’s so relieved to see them he thinks he might cry. He doesn’t (crying would wreck his eye makeup and make the whole ordeal take even longer while they scold him and fix it) but he does accept their hugs, and their back pats, and the million questions and teasing remarks they sling his way. Having them there with him is almost as good for his energy levels as a full night’s sleep. It’s wonderful.

They eat together, and he finds his third, maybe fourth wind. They linger until the director says it’s time to start shooting again. He doesn’t let them leave without giving them each a hug, saying thank you as he squeezes tight. For the most part they laugh at his sincerity and shove him playfully.

Yoongi tucks his head against Namjoon’s shoulder and doesn’t say anything for a long moment. Namjoon wonders if he is ever going to say anything just as Yoongi whispers, “Hyung is proud of you,” into his shoulder and squeezes. Namjoon swallows around the sudden lump in his throat and squeezes back.

There are four hours of filming to go when the door closes behind them. There are two hours left when he’s told to go sit down somewhere out of the way for a few minutes while they fix some lighting. “Ten minutes top,” the director assures him. Namjoon doesn’t wait to be told twice. He disappears back to the room where he’s left his phone plugged in and charging for once.

It takes him all of a second to figure out what’s changed since the last time he was here. There’s a pile of bright sunshine yellow folded neatly under his phone. He’s not sure if he wants to laugh or not. There’s no way he’s going to put it on, not with his hair and makeup and costume done up the way it is. Yoongi had to know that, and Yoongi left it anyways.

He might have no intention of putting it on but he picks it up regardless. He can’t not. His curiosity is too strong. The pocket doesn’t have any snacks but it does have a note. Kim Namjoon. Stop fretting. Everything will be fine. Fighting!

The words swim in front of his eyes as he blinks. He squashes the urge to sniff and takes a few long, slow breaths instead. When he feels more even keeled he folds the note in half once, careful to make the crease as smooth as possible, and slides it into his front pocket. There’s a very faint line in the pants (they’re doing their best to stick to him like a second skin) but it’s not so bad anyone is likely to comment.

Filming resumes. Namjoon runs his fingers over the faint ridge the note leaves and gets back to work.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Namjoon doesn’t go home when filming wraps. He washes the makeup off his face, extracts his contacts with a sigh of relief, and slips into clothing that doesn’t feel painted on. He puts the sweater on too, and then his coat and backpack, and goes to find the car assigned to drive him home. “Ready to go?” they ask as he slides in the back.

He gets the staff to drop him off a the studio, assuring them he’ll be fine to go home, will do it soon, there’s just a few things he wants to do first. They look skeptical but don’t press. He’s not lying. There are a few things he wants to do, and he will be back eventually. He just hopes he’ll be dragging someone else with him.

The halls of the office echo after hours. Everyone else has gone home so the lights are shut off. Namjoon doesn’t bother turning them on as he walks across the generic carpet, past the generic cubicles. The path to the small hallway where they have their studio might as well be burned in the back of his brain, built in the marrow of his bones. Truth be told it’s the one path he’d trust himself to navigate blindfolded without incurring anything more serious than a bruise.

Yoongi is exactly where Namjoon thought he would be, hunched at the computer, knees drawn up on the chair. He’s curled up so small and compact he’s dwarfed by the speakers and computer monitor in front of him, the screens reflecting off his glasses. He looks like a gargoyle wearing headphones but he is definitely not made of stone. In the quiet of the studio it’s easy to hear the telltale click of the mouse.

Namjoon takes no small amount of pleasure by announcing his presence by saying, “Hey Suga-hyung!” in a carrying voice. His voice has to be loud enough to make it through the headphones, after all.

The startled flail is every big as satisfying to watch as he’d hoped it would be. He lets out a snort of laughter that has Yoongi glaring at him, spinning the chair around so he can face Namjoon properly. In the harsh blue light of the computer screen he looks impossibly young. He crosses his arms, and Namjoon crosses his arms right back. There’s no way he actually looks intimidating (he’s too tired to pull it off) but he gives it his best shot, raising an eyebrow and trying not to blink too much.

They hold eye contact, Yoongi tilting his chin up, Namjoon shifting so his weight rests on one hip. There’s a trick to staring down Min Yoongi, and that trick is to not stop staring at him before he stops staring at you. Very few people have learned how to do it. Namjoon just hopes Yoongi hasn’t picked this night to be stubborn. He starts to count. Yoongi finally blinks when he hits seventy, looks down at his kneecap instead, visible through a tear in his sweatpants.

“Well what do you want then?” Yoongi’s voice is quiet bordering on insolent.

Namjoon doesn’t mind, much. “As group leader Rap Monster I’m ordering you to stop for the night. Get some rest, come back to it tomorrow.”

Yoongi is exactly as enthusiastic about this pronouncement as Namjoon thought he would be. “The hell you are,” he exclaims, but Namjoon notices him slip the headphones off his ears so they hang around his neck, sees him eye the sweater Namjoon is wearing. Yoongi’s mouth might be objecting but the rest of him is listening. Namjoon feels wrongfooted.

“The hell I am,” he agrees. “And you’re going to listen.”

“The hell I am!” Yoongi’s eyes flash up to Namjoon’s, dark and tired. “I’m the hyung here and it’s only… only…”

Namjoon waits in silence while Yoongi tries to figure out what time it is, torn between finding it funny and concerning. Based on the neat pyramid of the styrofoam cups the coffee machine in the kitchen produces he can see stacked on the desk he’d be willing to bet Yoongi came straight here after stopping by the MV set. He’s also willing to bet Yoongi hasn’t been very productive.

It takes Yoongi longer than it should to remember that not only does his phone have a clock on it but so does the computer, and the desk phone and the wall beside them. When he finally finds something that will tell him the time his eyes go wide and he bites his lip. Namjoon feels victorious for all of two seconds and then Yoongi’s shoulders sag. Namjoon’s victorious feeling fades, replaced by concern.

The silence of their studio is loud with the sound absorption material. Namjoon waits for Yoongi to say something. Yoongi doesn’t even look at him.

“I think,” Namjoon says delicately, finally breaking the silence, “that at the very least you should take a break.”

“When I finish this beat,” Yoongi answers immediately, spinning himself back toward the computer.

“No, hyung.” Namjoon grabs the back of Yoongi’s chair and tugs. Yoongi lets himself be spun to face the room again. “Whenever you say that it’s hours before you resurface.”

“It takes how long it takes.” Yoongi grits his teeth as he talks. “I just… I’m close. Go home. I’m almost done. I’ll be back in a bit.”

Yoongi can be very good at lying, when he wants to be, Namjoon knows from long experience. Namjoon wishes he could believe the incredibly honest expression on Yoongi’s face, but this is not the sort of conversation where he trusts Yoongi to be anything close to reasonable. So Namjoon cheats. He changes the subject to something Yoongi can’t fight about.

“This afternoon… well, thanks, for, for bringing this,” he says, gesturing to the sweater. He also makes a conscious effort to show the bone-deep exhaustion he feels rather than hide it the way he usually would. “It was a nice surprise.”

Yoongi swallows as the fight drains out of him. He looks down and away when he says “Anytime.” His inability to handle people acknowledging him having done something nice without getting shy about it will never not be cute. Namjoon bites back a smile

They fall back into silence again, but this time of a different quality. Yoongi fiddles with the hem of his black sweater, still not looking at Namjoon, but not turning back to the computer either. It’s like he’s waiting for something, for Namjoon to speak, or for the words to bubble up from somewhere deep inside him.

Namjoon has an inkling of what Yoongi might be mulling over, what words he might be searching for. The bigger the feeling the more difficulty Yoongi has actually articulating it. When they’d switched from a hiphop crew to an idol group Namjoon hadn’t been able to get more than three words in a row out of Yoongi about it for months. When they’d been given their debut date Yoongi had disappeared to the point where they couldn’t even find him in the studio. After they debuted he’d hardly said a word for a week except when a camera was pointed at them.

During the visit to the music video set most of the words out of Yoongi’s mouth had been self deprecating jokes with an edge of desperation sharp enough to bite. Namjoon knows the bite wasn’t directed at him, that Yoongi was bitter at himself more than anything else. It still hurt. It just hurt differently.

“You’ll get there too, hyung.” There’s a risk, bringing it up, but Namjoon has to try. He recognizes the look in Yoongi’s eye. He’s seen it in the mirror often enough.

“Sure,” Yoongi says at last, staring hard at his thumbs as he picks at the skin there with his nails. Namjoon can see angry red scabs around the edges of most of his nail beds.

“You will,” Namjoon says again, because it bears repeating, “Anyone can see that. But you won’t do it by working yourself until you’re dead. Take a break. Get some sleep.”

“You’re the one who’s been filming all day,” Yoongi grumbles, slumping back against the chair. “I’m the one who should be telling you that.” He finally, finally, looks back at Namjoon. Something tight in Namjoon’s chest begins to unwind but he keeps the relief from his face. If he gives an inch Yoongi will take a mile, and he’s wearing that look like he’s about to say- “Go home Namjoon-ah. I just want to finish off this phrase.”

“This sounds suspiciously like a conversation we’ve already had tonight. I don’t think my mind has changed in the last five minutes.” He doesn’t suppress the yawn that hits him then, keeps one eye open so he can watch Yoongi’s expression as the yawn keeps going… and going.

Yoongi shifts on his chair. “Or I can take a break here? I promise? And come home later?”

“Or we can take a break here,” Namjoon counters, sighing as though he’s conceding some great battle and pointedly sticking his hands in the pocket of the sweater.

“But here,” Yoongi says quickly, pouncing on Namjoon’s words. “Five minutes?”

“Twenty.”

“Ten minutes?”

“It sounded like you said twenty minutes there.”

Yoongi chews his lip before he looks at Namjoon with tired eyes and a tired smile. “Twenty minutes?”

“Thirty minutes! Why, Yoongi-ssi, that’s so generous of you!”

“Namjoon-ah!” Yoongi has a particular way of complaining that is like no one else. “Twenty minutes, and I’m setting an alarm.”

“Okay hyung,” Namjoon agrees easily, reaching around him to turn off the screen.

“And you can’t stop me,” Yoongi continues, trying to muster up a glare. The effect is spoiled when he gets surprised by a yawn.

“Wouldn’t dream of stopping you,” Namjoon says.

(He’s lying. He does dream of it, sometimes, very strange dreams where all that happens is the two of them sleep, sometimes in a bed, sometimes on a couch, sometimes in a hammock, always curled together, and occasionally Yoongi moves to get up and Namjoon says five more minutes and Yoongi says okay and he dozes off again, safe and warm and-

Well, the point is he would stop Yoongi setting alarms for a week if he could, a month, but their schedules are busy. There are so few hours in a day he’d be a hypocrite if he tried.)

Yoongi is doing an excellent impression of a Yoongi-shaped statue so Namjoon holds out his hands and waits. He has time to breathe twice before Yoongi lets out a very small sigh and puts his hands in Namjoon’s. They’re doing a good impression of a statue’s too, cold, so cold to the touch, and Namjoon changes his mind about something.

Instead of using the hands to lead Yoongi to the couch he tugs on them gently to reel Yoongi in. Yoongi isn’t expecting it, and stumbles when it becomes apparent Namjoon isn’t going to move back. Namjoon catches the split second of surprise on Yoongi’s face and then he’s enfolding Yoongi in a hug.

It’s a sign of how tired he is Yoongi doesn’t grumble, doesn’t gripe, just tips forward and buries his face in Namjoon’s chest, fingers clutching at the loose fabric along his back. It’s the cousin of the hug they shared earlier in the day. It’s nice.

Namjoon tucks his head in against Yoongi’s and squeezes tight, trying to say with his arms that Yoongi is so thoughtful, so kind, so caring even if he likes to pretend he isn’t, and that Namjoon appreciates it. He appreciates the heart Yoongi wears on his sleeve albeit under heavy camouflage, hidden unless you know what you’re looking for and so obvious once you’ve spotted it. He appreciates Yoongi, as a whole, and he appreciates him enough to know better than to try and say anything out loud.

Yoongi melts into the hug, sagging against Namjoon in a way that Namjoon can’t even imagine him doing voluntarily. His hair tickles Namjoon’s neck, and the fingers wound in the sweater at Namjoon’s lower back clench and unclench in an unpredictable pattern. Yoongi’s shoulder shake but he doesn’t make a sound. Namjoon holds him tighter.

They manage to fold themselves onto the couch but it’s a near thing. Technically the couch folds out into a futon, and they probably would have had more space if they could have figured out how to unfold it, but they are tired enough as it is. Any amount of time greater than none seems too long to spend on the problem. They’ll have to suffer through being squished together in half the available space. Namjoon is pretty sure he can tough it out.

“It’s just a nap though,” Yoongi says as he curls himself up against his arm of the couch, hands tucked between his knees.

“Mmm,” Namjoon hums, trying to get his legs into a position where Yoongi doesn’t have to contend with a face full of sock. Yoongi watches him work, his eyes hardly more than slits. He extracts one of his hands from between his legs and puts it on Namjoon’s ankle. Namjoon stills.

“If you’d stopped growing at a reasonable height,” Yoongi starts, and Namjoon no longer feels any concerns about Yoongi getting a face full of sock.

He gets a face full of sock in return, blue and orange polka dots, and then a face full of the back of Yoongi’s head as he flips himself on the couch so they share an arm. “We’ll fit better like this,” Yoongi mutters, setting his phone and glasses on the coffee table. “Now hurry up and nap, I have a beat to finish.”

Yoongi isn’t an especially heavy weight on Namjoon’s chest but Namjoon is finding it hard to breathe. One of his arms is under Yoongi’s head, and with nowhere else to put it he wraps the other one tentatively around Yoongi’s torso, holding him in place. Yoongi makes a noise that goes right to the spot in Namjoon’s chest that twinges whenever he finds a crab on a beach, or a frog hiding under some leaves from the rain.

There’s a certain vital energy that fills Yoongi during his every waking moment. Namjoon can tell when he’s fallen asleep because that energy fades, leaving Yoongi snoring faintly and Namjoon with a dilemma. He could take this opportunity to turn off the alarms on Yoongi’s phone (he’s watched Yoongi unlock his phone often enough he knows the password) but unlocking the phone without Yoongi’s permission feels too much like a breach of trust.

He resigns himself to the fact that in twenty minutes he’ll be having the please come home conversation with Yoongi again and falls asleep while he’s still marshalling his arguments into line.

It comes as a complete surprise to wake up to the sound of Hoseok barging in, saying “The hell guys, you should at least tell us if you’re going to spend the night here and go none-responsive” and not the horrible screeching sound of an alarm.

Out of the group Yoongi is perhaps the slowest to wake up except Jungkook. He hardly stirs at the intrusion, blinking one bleary eye open as he shifts his head. His expression goes soft, and happy, and warm, before he closes his eye, tucks himself under Namjoon’s arm more firmly, and grumbles a very familiar five more minutes.

Namjoon manages to look way from the top of Yoongi’s head only when Hoseok laughs. “What was that?”

“You know how he wakes up,” Namjoon says, praying he can stop the blush he feels from growing any darker. “C’mon hyung, we’ve got people to see, places to be.”

There’s a small patch of drool on Namjoon’s shoulder when they finally get Yoongi awake enough that he can glare at them. “You turned off the alarm!” he accuses when they tell him what time it is. “Joon-ah didn’t I say specifically-”

“I didn’t touch your phone!” Namjoon lets his indignation bleed into his voice. He wouldn’t mind the accusation as much if he’d actually done something, but he’d only thought about doing it. “You set the alarms yourself, you can’t blame me if they didn’t work!”

Yoongi elbows Namjoon twice in the process of trying to turn over and get a hand on his phone. Namjoon grunts softly each time but it’s not really enough to hurt, and Yoongi muttering sorry, sorry in his low, sleep rough voice, is distracting enough to take his mind off any pain there might have been. Yoongi unlocks the phone with a few quick taps on the screen, then pulls up the clock app.

“You know there’s a difference between AM and PM right?” Hoseok asks, peering over Yoongi’s shoulder to point at the list of alarms. Namjoon can see Yoongi’s ears go pink, feel him squirm uncomfortably in the loose circle of Namjoon’s arms.

“Yes,” Yoongi snaps. He punches the button to turn the screen off with more force than necessary.

“And you were going to blame me for it,” Namjoon says, squeezing his arms so Yoongi will know he isn’t actually annoyed at the earlier accusations.

“I hate you both.” Yoongi stretches languidly, his arms reaching above his head, his shoulders pressing against Namjoon’s chest, his ankles trapping Namjoon’s between them as his legs tense. Namjoon doesn’t even have time to take a breath to fortify himself before he’s confronted with the knowledge that Yoongi has just pressed his entire body back into Namjoon as naturally as breathing.

“We know,” says Hoseok, pointing his phone at them and making that face people make when they are trying to figure out how best to frame a picture. Namjoon wishes desperately that he could slip down between the couch back and the cushions as easily as keys and coins and pens do. Knowing that it is likely impossibly he hopes instead that Hoseok keeps the picture for blackmail material and doesn’t send it to the group chat.

“It was late when you set the alarm,” Namjoon offers placatingly as Yoongi finishes his stretch. He makes a small noise as he does. Namjoon is filled with the urge to pull him back against his chest and settle in for a second round of nap-cuddles. He has to swallow before he can continue. “Anyone could have made that mistake.”

Yoongi doesn’t dignify his words with a response. He squirms his way out of Namjoon’s arms. Namjoon feels the loss but is careful not to make any noise of disappointment. Yoongi already looks less sallow than he did the night before, although now his face is puffy from sleep and he has creases from where the sleeve of the yellow sweater bunched under his cheek.

“Hurry up, Namjoon. You’re making us late.” Yoongi holds his hand out to Namjoon. To anyone outside the group he would probably look angry. The members would definitely be able to notice the hint of a smirk hovering around Yoongi’s mouth, but it’s the laugh hiding in his eyes that melts away any acerbic comment Namjoon might have made.

He accepts the hand gravely, saying “My apologies Yoongi-hyungnim, I must have overslept.” Hoseok snorts and the corner of Yoongi’s mouth twitches. Namjoon breaks into a smile. Yoongi echos it.

Hoseok rolls his eyes and claps his hands. “Alright then sleeping beauties, let’s get to our schedule for the day then shall we?”

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

He’s not even in the country when they release his mixtape and music video. The members crowd together in the hotel room he’s sharing with Taehyung without invitation, barging in with definitely contraband snacks from the vending machine and cheer that doesn’t feel forced. They sprawl across the two beds and one chair in a haphazard manner and don’t really do anything but continually refresh twitter on their phones.

Well, Jungkook isn’t refreshing twitter. Jungkook is lying on Hoseok’s back, with Hoseok stomach-down on the bed, and peering over his shoulder to read out choice comments from their mentions. He adds commentary after almost every one. Generally the comments make Hoseok laugh, which makes both of them bounce. Namjoon grins every time he catches sight of it.

Yoongi isn’t on twitter either. Yoongi had walked in, made a beeline for the half-a-person amount of space on the bed between Namjoon and Seokjin, and squeezed himself into with the liberal application of elbows while ignoring Seokjin’s loud complaints. Now he’s got his head half on Namjoon’s yellow-sweater-clad shoulder so he can stare at Namjoon’s screen. If Namjoon looks down he can see the faint crease between Yoongi’s eyebrows as he frowns in concentration.

With five minutes to go until the official tweet drops Namjoon feels several chilly fingers slip between his on the hand not holding his phone. His hand recognizes Yoongi’s instantly and he squeezes twice, a silent acknowledgment. Yoongi squeezes back, just once, and doesn’t let go until an hour later when Seokjin asks, “Yoongi are you trading with Taetae tonight or are you coming to bed?”

The others laugh as Namjoon and Yoongi jump, then look at each other. Their faces are so close together Namjoon can see every individual eyelash as Yoongi blinks at him through his glasses. There’s something in his eyes that says I’ll stay if you want me to, even while the set of his jaw and the very faint tightening of his grip on Namjoon’s hand belie how hard it is for him to make the offer.

It’s an offer made selflessly, without hesitation, in that quiet way Yoongi has. It makes Namjoon want to say yes, although not so he’ll have company. No, if Yoongi stayed Namjoon would strip off the yellow sweater and bundle Yoongi into it. Namjoon would crack horrible jokes and pull up YouTube instead of Twitter and make Yoongi watch compilations of cute dogs until Yoongi remembered how to smile with his eyes too, not just his gums. Only there’s no guarantee of success. He might fail and then they’d both be upset, not to mention sleep deprived.

Namjoon looks behind Yoongi to Seokjin. Seokjin looks back, tilts his head, then nods once. Seokjin will take care of him.

It’s a weight off Namjoon’s chest, and instead of saying yes Namjoon squeezes Yoongi’s hand back to say I’m good and thank you all at once, away from the prying ears of their bandmates. Yoongi doesn’t need to be told twice. He lets go at once, stands easily as if he hadn’t ever considered staying. There’s something like relief in his eyes. Namjoon tries to ignore the sting of it.

On the whole his mixtape is well received, but before his joy at this individual success has a chance to fade properly it is subsumed by the joy of their first win. Their first win! It’s like something out of his wildest dreams, and he throws himself into the group hug with abandon, and then into another, and then into another.

It feels like they can’t stop smiling, that they’ll never stop smiling, and then they win again. Everything is so unbelievable that he gets bruises all along his forearms from pinching himself. The stylists scold him as they cover them up with makeup but even their lectures do little to dim his delight.

They finish their circuit of the music shows, and variety shows, and bask in the feeling of having really accomplished something. Success is every bit as thrilling, as exhilarating, as he’d hoped it would be. Sometimes when he goes shopping he’ll hear himself played over the speakers in the store. People on the street will be going about their daily lives and he’ll overhear them say Bangtan. Once in a blue moon someone will look up and recognize him. Recognize him! He gets chills every time. He loves it.

They do a few photoshoots for magazines, spend what feels like their entire free time in rehearsals, get their act together properly, and go back on the road for a world tour. A world tour. After the last show they get probably more drunk than they should on cheap beer and soju and Namjoon adds another word to his list of what success is - intoxicating.

Success is intoxicating. It was heady enough when it was just his mixtape, his own individual success, but when it’s the group’s success it’s a completely different energy. It is seven times as intense. He wants to bottle the happy gold feeling suffusing his limbs, some to store for later, some to send to the fans who have brought this to them. He doesn’t think he’ll ever get tired of the feeling, and as things fall back into the routine of prepping for their next album, their next series of concerts, their next comeback, he finds himself hungry for more.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

There are some downsides to their newfound notoriety.

Yoongi deletes twitter from his phone before they get halfway through the summer, while they’re out on tour. Namjoon finds out when Yoongi, very obviously already holding his own phone, says “Let me borrow yours?” as he plucks Namjoon’s phone out of his surprised and therefore unresisting fingers. Yoongi hands it back a few minutes later, still open to Twitter. There’s not really a question of why he borrowed it.

There isn’t really a question of why he deleted Twitter either. Twitter can be toxic even at the best of times, and mixed in among their success is the knowledge that this isn’t exactly the best of times. There’s always someone online who has an opinion about everything, and thinks it’s there job to spread it, and for Yoongi there’s an extra layer on top of the baseline negativity. A considerable amount of their fanbase is wondering where Yoongi’s mixtape is, now that RM is out, and the group have finished their comeback.

The fans probably don’t mean their questions to be hounding but they wear on Yoongi anyways. Namjoon doesn’t need the increase in sweater-stealing incidents to tell him that. He can tell by the set of Yoongi’s shoulders, and the way his fingers are wrapped in bandaids more often than they aren’t, trying (and frequently failing) to help him keep from shredding his fingers. He’s getting those bruise-deep bags under his eyes again, his cheeks going hollow as their tour wears on when normally they’d fill out.

Namjoon doesn’t even know where to start bringing up his concerns about and for Yoongi. He holds out hope that things will get better (they keep winning! They finish a concert tour! They perform at Billboard studios! They win a few more times!) but while there might be days in a row and once, memorably, two weeks where things look like they might be back to normal, nothing seems to stick.

“Hyung, are you-” is about as far as he gets the one time he works up the nerve to ask.

“Hyung’s just tired,” Yoongi cuts him off curtly. Some of Namjoon’s surprise and hurt at being so bruskly shut down must show in his face because Yoongi sighs and rubs his face. He doesn’t lose the pinched expression, and he still looks worn thin, but his shoulders lower, just an inch, from where the way they were hunched protectively. “Working hard, that’s all. It’ll pass.”

It doesn’t pass, but at least it doesn’t get worse. Yoongi eats dinner with them more often, sometimes lets Seokjin bully him to going to bed instead of going back to the studio, can be convinced by Jungkook to go for lamb skewers. Namjoon promises himself that if it gets worse he’ll try and say something again. In the meantime he throws himself into the preparations for their next album, their next comeback, their next concert. It isn’t long before he feels as tired as Yoongi looks on a regular basis.

They’ve grown even more popular, and Namjoon adds yet another words to his list. Success is exhausting. The sheer volume of people trying to communicate at them is intimidating and everything is amplified, the good and bad both. Namjoon tries to focus on the good, on the positive, on the fans who love them and are excited for the new music, the new dances, the new pictures. It’s hard. He is always looking to better himself.

During a break in their dance rehearsal Jimin wanders over to where Namjoon is lying on his back, phone held above his head as he scrolls. Jimin towers over him for a full ten seconds before he speaks. “Take that app off your phone hyung.”

“What app?” Namjoon asks, hastily closing Twitter and pretending like he was swiping Candy Crush instead. There’s no way Jimin could have seen his screen from that angle.

Jimin melts gracefully, boneless, to the floor. Namjoon tries not to seethe with jealousy at the fluid way he moves. Jimin might be sweaty, and tired, but he’s barely breathing hard and looks like he could model immediately for an athletic magazine. Namjoon’s entire body feels like it is made of fire ants and pain and he’s sure he looks it too. It isn’t fair how much stamina Jimin has, that he has enough energy not only for this conversation but to sit upright while they have it. Everyone else (except Hoseok, but Hoseok is a law unto himself when it comes to dancing) has the good grace to be sprawled like normal human beings.

“You had your Twitter face on,” Jimin says, making an exaggerated frown with his mouth and eyebrows while his chin juts forward. “Nothing good happens after your Twitter face.”

Namjoon very carefully does not let his jaw stick obstinately forward. Things will be hard enough already without him going and making them harder. “I do not have a Twitter face.” He’s pretty proud of himself for keeping his voice level.

“Oh, did he look like this?” Seokjin asks from where he’s starfished in the corner. He tilts his head back until they can see his face in the mirror. He’s making a face that might as well be a copy-paste of the one Jimin had been making. Namjoon would probably find it funny if he wasn’t the butt of the joke.

Taehyung and Hoseok aren’t the butt of the joke. They do laugh, pulling their own versions of Namjoon’s supposed expression while Jungkook giggles into his hand. The only one not joining in is Yoongi. With his eyes closed and his face slack he could be sleeping if it wasn’t for the way his chest rises and falls far faster and deeper than anyone who had ever been asleep.

When he turns his eyes back to Jimin’s face it’s to find him wearing an incredibly smug expression. Well, maybe some gloating is in order. Namjoon had been on Twitter, after all, and apparently had a tell for it.

“We need to stay connected to our fanbase,” Namjoon says defensively, hugging his phone close as though one of them would try and steal it. Given who he’s dealing with there’s a non-zero chance one of them will decide to take measures into their own hands. He tightens his grip.

“That’s what the fancafe is for,” Jimin says softly. “Take a break, hyung. You’re getting yourself all worked up.”

Namjoon chews his lip. The others have gone back to not appearing to pay them any attention but knowing them there are five other pairs of ears, yes, even Yoongi’s, interested in the outcome of the conversation. “I’ll think about it?”

Jimin sighs dramatically and flops slowly, gracefully backward. He has control even a well-rested Namjoon would envies. He looks like he’s in a commercial. He can’t be fully human. “I guess that’s the best we can hope for, given the circumstances.”

“I’ll think about it,” Namjoon repeats, because he will. He’ll think about it. He’s just not sure it’ll actually change anything.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

He starts to wish he’d followed Yoongi’s lead, and Jimin’s instruction, as soon as their first video drops. He wishes it even harder after their promotions finish and they start on their concerts but he can’t ever quite bring himself to uninstall Twitter. The closest he gets is pulling himself away from his phone long enough to read a few books and write a few songs. It’s like a magnet to a lodestone. He can’t look away for long.

They get a break at the new year again. Namjoon goes home for a few days but finds himself drawn back to the quiet of the empty dorm and studio. His parents laugh when he tells them, but they also understand because they’re amazing like that. He spends the first day on his own catching up on some school work he’d been meaning to get to.

The second day he sleeps in, has a bath, and gets takeout for lunch from one of the nearby restaurants. The change of pace from his usual day is relaxing, filling him with a sense of rightness that wraps itself, comfortable and close, around the very marrow of his bones.

He wants to keep the feeling going in through the afternoon so he buys himself a good coffee and practically skips home. There’s a patch of sun that falls just right on their couch at this time of the afternoon, and he has a new book in his bag just waiting to be read. The only thing missing to make it absolutely perfect is a yellow sweater, so after dropping everything in the living room he crosses to his closet and-

Huh.

namjoon
hope you’re enjoying the break! did you pack the sweater?

Given that it’s Yoongi he’s texting he sets his phone down, expecting the reply to take long enough he’ll be able to get through a few pages at least. He settles down in his chair, takes a sip of coffee, and picks up his book. His phone buzzes before he’s cracked the cover open.

yoongi-hyung
yes. sorry. you’d already left. should have asked.

Namjoon frowns hard enough he can see it in the reflection of his phone screen. It isn’t uncharacteristic of Yoongi to apologize in general. Yoongi can feel remorse, can feel contrite, and will even sometimes express that. Well, for important things at least. He won’t apologize for cheating in a game, or making a ridiculously bad pun, or for accidentally-on-purpose stepping on Namjoon’s foot during dance practice unless someone’s really upset, and even then he expresses his apology the way he does his affection - indirectly, with a gesture rather than with words. He hardly ever says “Sorry” at all.

Namjoon texts back without letting himself think too hard.

namjoon
don’t worry about it! glad it isn’t lost :)

He stares at his phone for a full three minutes just in case there’s a reply. There isn’t. There isn’t even the three dots indicating Yoongi is typing anything. The book is splayed open across his knee to mark his place in a way that under normal circumstances would make him cringe. It calls his name, says keep reading me in it’s whispery, papery voice.

The last time he tried reading Yoongi texted back almost right away. That’s as good a reason as any to pick it back up. He stops compulsively checking his phone after the next ten pages and forgets all about it ten pages after that. The sun through the window is warm on his skin, helping to ease the chill that seems pervasive and impossible to shake in the winter. The dorm is quiet enough he can hear some of their neighbours going about their business. It’s a lovely afternoon.

He meets his parents for dinner, in town for the afternoon to visit some friends. The three of them go for a walk through the park, their shoes adding footprints to the churned-up mud when they step off the path. Everything looks surreal in the dim light of the lampposts. The effect is only heightened when a gentle snow starts to fall. Namjoon keeps his hands in his pockets, one of them wrapped around his phone.

It doesn’t buzz again until he’s in bed, almost asleep.

yoongi-hyung
thanks

It’s about as much as he was expecting but he still feels better for getting it. He’d be lying to himself if he said he wasn’t curious about why Yoongi had decided to take it with him. This doesn’t seem like the time to ask though, not when it will probably just cause Yoongi to close off again. He settles for sending back

namjoon
anytime :)

and leaves it at that.

If he makes sure to give Yoongi a hug to welcome him home he doesn’t have to explain himself. It’s not something he and Yoongi usually do, greet each other with hugs, but while the others look at him funny for even offering Yoongi doesn’t. Yoongi steps willingly into it, hugging him just a little tighter as he rests his forehead against Namjoon’s breastbone. The yellow hood of the sweater sticks up over the hood of Yoongi’s jacket. When Yoongi finally, finally lets go Namjoon grabs the hood and tugs it up over Yoongi’s head, yanks on the strings until only his nose is visible.

“Welcome home, hyung.”

They still don’t talk about it.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Namjoon doesn’t end up deleting Twitter from his phone after all. He does spend a solid hour online reading tutorials and watching videos to make sure he knows what he’s doing, then mutes specific words, tries to tweak their mentions settings so they’ll see more of the important ones. The chances that the others will notice is slim - none of them have ever really poked around in the underbelly of their account settings since they set it up.

It feels… wrong, somehow, to isolate himself and the rest of the group like this. They chose to put themselves into the public eye, and sometimes they do mess up, and need to find out about it, but there’s just so much feedback now, good and bad. It’s overwhelming, inhibiting rather than helping his ability to grow. He took steps to stop it, to bring them back to a reasonable stream of content, and yet it still feels like he’s cheating.

“It isn’t though, is it?” he asks Yoongi at last as they walk home from the studio late one night. The question has been gnawing at him. It’s a relief to speak it into the cold, dark winter air. “Taking a step back like this, that’s okay? Even though ‘rising stars’,” and how he has grown to hate that phrase, “are supposed to like the attention?”

Yoongi grunts, his breath ghosting out in the air in front of him, backlit by the streetlight ahead. In the distance Namjoon can hear cars but in the quiet back alley they’re cutting through the only noise is the rhythmic sound of their shoes hitting the pavement, the swish of their jackets. Namjoon has time to wonder if that’s all Yoongi has to say on the subject before Yoongi sucks in air and says, “Is that why you became an idol? The ego boost? To hear people scream your name?”

Namjoon laughs. He can’t help it. “No. God, no. It’s a nice perk, sometimes, and it is a good ego boost but. I just wanted to share my music.” There’s a pebble in front of them, it’s shadow easily visible. He kicks it, sending it skittering down the alley. “I wanted to share it with as many people as I could.”

“Yeah,” says Yoongi quietly. It’s just barely audible over the sound of their shoes. “Your music though. That came from you.”

There’s a weird tone in Yoongi’s voice, one that Namjoon can’t quite place. It makes him feel uneasy, the same way he does whenever Yoongi’s face slips into an expression he can’t read. He hesitates briefly, falling a half-step behind Yoongi while he tries to figure it out. He hasn’t managed it by the time he opens his mouth to answer, although he has caught up so they’re walking side by side again.

“Yeah. Of course. My music.” He adds the emphasis where Yoongi did and watches Yoongi’s expression out of the corner of his eye. It’s hard, given the way the lower half of Yoongi’s face is almost completely hidden in an oversized, thick scarf knit scarf. He has a toque on too, pulled down to the tops of his eyebrows so that just the tips of his bangs peek out, and his thick, chunky glasses. With his hands jammed into the pockets of his thick jacket his body looks almost spherical, a myopic over-large grey basketball with legs and a knapsack.

Namjoon has to look away. They’re having a serious conversation. He can’t afford to be distracted by a hyung who looks especially cute.

They turn out of the alley and start down one of the larger roads, the sidewalk big enough they can walk side by side without having to worry about cars hitting them. The number of cars they see picks up. Five go past before Yoongi speaks again in another puff of golden breath. “So what do you care, what they think.”

Something tells Namjoon that question is only half directed at him, Yoongi speaks it so softly. It’s not even phrased as a question, not really. He tries to think of an answer just in case it’s needed. He tries not to sigh with relief when Yoongi keeps speaking. “Isn’t that what we’ve been about from the beginning? Saying the things we want to say, even if not everyone wants to hear them? So who cares if the trappings have changed from the underground to the idol circuit. We just want to make music.”

Another car breezes past, kicking up dust and the faint taste of road salt. Namjoon hooks his thumbs more firmly in the straps of his bag and keeps the words crowding to get out penned on the back of his tongue. The tone in Yoongi’s voice now is at least something he recognizes from their early days, when they were thrown in the deep end and told they could either learn to swim or sink. It’s the tone Yoongi used to get when they would talk about choreography, or heavy eye makeup, his mouth saying one thing while his mind was far, far away, weighing his options and not especially happy with any of them.

Unfortunately identifying the tone doesn’t actually help Namjoon much. There’s a sub-zero percent chance that Yoongi wants him prying, closing off all the relatively easy avenues for continuing the conversation.

There’s also a hint of quiet despair lingering in the air, something that begs for a response, any response. Namjoon wracks his brains for something to say that isn’t a cheap joke or a heartfelt emotional statement that will likely lead to both of them feeling overwhelmed. His brain fails him. He draws a blank.

Nothing for it then. Cheap joke it is.

“I thought you wanted big houses, big cars and big rings.” He tries to deliver it without cringing. He mostly succeeds.

Yoongi doesn’t stop walking. His face (what little of it that’s visible) doesn’t even twitch. Namjoon would know, because Namjoon is watching for it. “Someone has to have the swag in this group.”

Namjoon is so relieved he got a reply at all he could cry. It would be unwise, given the situation, but he could. “You say that dressed as you are, mister big scarf and puffy coat.”

The streetlight glints off one of Yoongi’s eyes as he looks over at Namjoon. “Big scarves and puffy coats have swag.” Namjoon thinks there’s a hint of a smile in Yoongi’s cheek, around his eye. It’s possible there’s one in his mouth too, except for how the scarf is doing an excellent job of being an opaque material and blocking it from view. He decides he doesn’t have much to lose.

“Mostly it makes you look fluffy.” He reaches out to poke the offensively large scarf. It looks almost like it’s eating his finger as he pushes in, but it is also incredibly soft. No wonder Yoongi puts up with the sheer bulk of it. He doesn’t want to pull his hand back. “Fluffy-fluffy hyung.”

Yoongi snorts. It’s about as close to his actual laugh as Namjoon has heard in weeks. Namjoon is so shocked he doesn’t try and dodge the shove Yoongi directs at his shoulder. It wouldn’t be nearly strong enough to move him at all except that he finds he wants to be moved, wants to make Yoongi laugh again. He lets himself stumble to the side as though it were Jungkook who had shoved him instead, at full strength.

What he hasn’t counted on is the crack in the sidewalk he clips with the toe of his shoe. He’s knocked just enough off balance that when his foot comes down it comes down funny. Before he knows it he’s landing hard on his knee, his hand scraping along the sidewalk in a way that stings to stop his face from picking up any damage. He doesn’t get the laugh he was going for.

“Ah!” yelps Yoongi, leaping ahead of him and crouching down. “Namjoon! I’m not that strong!”

Namjoon’s knee throbs and his hand smarts as he picks it up off the ground. His cheeks grow warm with his blush, which is both a relief from the cold and embarrassing, as he stands back up. His knee protests so he shifts his weight so it’s distributed unevenly. How does this always happen to him? “Crack in the sidewalk. Tripped.” His voice comes out shaky.

Yoongi tsks and grabs for his hand. Namjoon lets him take it with his cold fingers. Yoongi turns it over to examine his palm in the low light, then watches as Yoongi runs his fingers, feather light, over the very slightly broken skin. Namjoon can see the cuff of the yellow sweater peeking out from the cuff of the jacket.

There’s something about the sight of it that makes Namjoon decide he needs to look somewhere else, anywhere else, fast. Unsurprisingly his eyes go straight to Yoongi’s face. It’s hard to see the rest of his expression with his scarf on and his face angled down to better see Namjoon’s hand. Namjoon can’t stop himself from trying to read it anyways.

“Should have known better than to push you,” Yoongi grumbles gruffly as he pulls his hands back from Namjoon’s and stands up. “Makes sense you’d find something on the sidewalk to trip over.”

The words, the set of his shoulders under his jacket, the expression he’s carefully put on his face all point toward Yoongi trying to make a joke but it sounds sincere. He’s not meeting Namjoon’s eyes.

The warmth from Namjoon’s cheeks bleeds down his neck to settle in his chest. He misses Yoongi’s fingers, even if they were cold. He stands too.

“I’m fine hyung,” he says. It comes out more gentle than he’d intended, more gentle than a scraped hand calls for. Yoongi flinches, just the smallest amount. Namjoon reaches out to take Yoongi’s hands very lightly in his. “Really. I’m fine. And even if I wasn’t that would be my own fault.”

Yoongi still won’t look at him, but he doesn’t take his hands back either. They’re trembling a bit, probably from the cold.

“Hyung?” Namjoon stoops, just a little, so he can see Yoongi’s expression more clearly. “Hyung, are you-”

Yoongi sniffs, just once. Namjoon can see his shoulders twitch even through the thick layers of scarf and coat. Sometimes the cold does that, causes runny noses and full body shivers. Sometimes they are symptoms of something else. It doesn’t really matter which it is, in the end. Namjoon can only think of one solution. He executes it.

With Yoongi’s hands still in his it’s easy to pull him in closer, and once they’re at proximity arrange him so he’s tucked snugly under one of Namjoon’s arms. He uses his other hand to pull Yoongi’s scarf up almost to his eyes. “The longer we stand around out here the colder we’ll get.” He keeps his voice low and turns his face very pointedly back in the direction they’re walking.

One of Yoongi’s arms slips around Namjoon’s waist as they walk. He doesn’t say anything more, letting Namjoon talk instead about the book he’d picked up the last time he’d been through an airport without one. His shoulders stop shaking long before they’ve made it back to the dorm. Namjoon leaves his arm where it lays, heavy and hopefully warm, over Yoongi’s shoulder. Yoongi’s arm doesn’t drop from around Namjoon’s waist.

The first thing Yoongi does when they get through the door, even before he gets his shoes off, is pull Namjoon’s hand toward him again for a second, thorough inspection in the better light afforded by their hall. Namjoon was right. There isn’t anything wrong with it, just a few pale pink lines where a layer of skin had rubbed off. It probably won’t even scab. “I said I was fine hyung,” he chides, voice teasing. “You gotta start trusting me sometime.”

“I trust you plenty,” Yoongi huffs, dropping Namjoon’s hand like a hot coal and bending to unlace his shoes. He has to brace himself with one hand on the wall as he overbalances. Namjoon tries and fails to not find it cute. “But I also trust you to think ‘ah, hyung’s had a bad day, don’t want to give him something else to worry about,’ because you get like that sometimes.”

Hyung’s had a bad enough day he'll admit it, has he, Namjoon thinks, even as he squawks “What?”

Yoongi straightens up, leveling him with a serious gaze. “You get this thing in your head sometimes, where-”

Namjoon can’t help it. He laughs. At least he remembers to cover his mouth.

Yoongi frowns at him as he shrugs out of his coat. “But you do?”

“This is a pot calling the kettle black situation if I’ve ever heard one.” Namjoon bites back another laugh. “You, trying to tell me…” He trails off into a giggle that bubbles up from the knot of warmth he’s been nursing in his chest ever since he fell. He’s rewarded by seeing Yoongi smile. It’s a small one, nowhere near the wide, gummy smile that makes his eyes crinkle up, but it’s there. Yoongi’s smiles have been rare outside of fanmeets and photoshoots lately. It’s nice to see it properly, not hidden by a scarf. Namjoon could do with seeing it again.

“Okaaay.” Yoongi draws out the sound as Namjoon keeps giggling. He hangs his coat in the closet then crosses his arms and tries to affect a put-upon sigh. “Okay maybe I have a tendency to think the same way.” Namjoon giggles again. Yoongi pushes him in the shoulder. “But you don’t have to laugh at it so much.”

“Are you sure you want to go around shoving people?” Namjoon asks as he slips his own coat off and onto a hanger. “Last time you did, see, I tripped and fell? And now I don’t know if my hand will ever be the same, look, I can barely-”

Yoongi doesn’t shove him this time. Yoongi rolls his eyes, making Namjoon laugh harder, then takes Namjoon’s coat on it’s hanger and hangs it up in their closet. “You’re lucky I put up with you,” he says as he stalks toward the kitchen. Namjoon watches him go, the breadth of his shoulders covered in an expanse of very inviting yellow.

Namjoon doesn’t bother to undo the laces properly, just toes off his shoes leaving them in a completely disorganized way and follows. With his longer stride and his intent it takes him a total of four steps to be within back-hug distance.

“Ya!” squeaks Yoongi in surprise, but he doesn’t shrug Namjoon off. “What was that for?”

“No reason,” Namjoon lies. Yoongi’s wearing the sweater. His hug is for many things. It’s a thank you and an I love you and a things will get better again, they have to, all in one.

“Hmm.” Yoongi doesn’t buy it, but doesn’t call him on it either. Namjoon squeezes tight. “But I do want to make tea before bed? So unless you want to be my arms for that…”

Tempting as the offer is it’s late, and Namjoon has already injured himself once tonight. He stays in the kitchen though, watching Yoongi work. Yoongi makes him a cup, too, and gives him another small but real smile before retreating to his room. On the whole Namjoon will call it a win.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

They throw themselves into the grind of musical performance, variety show, musical performance and they win, and they win, and they win. Even with the new restrictions on Twitter Namjoon finds it all a bit overwhelming. He’s more glad than he cares to admit when the company gives them a few days without any schedules to do with as they please before they leave for the real start of their tour.

Namjoon doesn’t make plans with anyone. He has breakfast by himself, cleaning up the dishes instead of leaving them in the sink. He almost leaves the dorm with his face bare and then thinks better of it. His face has been plastered on no few advertisements in the trains and on bus stations. It would be embarrassing to be recognized accidentally for standing near one. He grabs a face mask and slips the elastics over his ears, unlocks his bike, and goes for a ride.

It’s a warm day and he works up a sweat as he bikes. He stops sometimes, once to get a coffee and enjoy a perfect moment drinking it at a little outdoor patio, several times when the flowers in someone’s garden catches his eye. At one point he finds a juvenile bunting who must be learning to fly, flapping frantically to stay ahead of his bike but only managing to get a few inches off the ground before landing and panting. Grinning, he veers far enough to the side he can pass it without giving it a heart attack.

He finds a spot by the river with a large patch of miraculously unoccupied grass and stops, pulling out his blanket and floppy hat and packed lunch and book. If he has a full day to do with as he pleases he is going to spend it as himself. He stretches luxuriantly, reveling in the feeling of his body not being in a dance practice, and settles in to read.

Lying down in the shade he cools off quickly, so when he breaks for lunch he moves to the sun. Being in the sun he gets hot again, and a bit sweaty, but instead of moving back into the shade he checks the time. If he heads back now chances are he can have a shower that’s as long as he wants it to be without anyone interrupting him, demanding to know why he is using all the hot water, wanting to know if he’s going to leave them any. It sounds heavenly.

He doesn’t stop on the way back to the dorm and is definitely hot and sweaty by the time he gets there. It’s hard to tell from the jumble of shoes who is or isn’t there but he knows someone is. There’s noise coming from the kitchen, the faint bubble of things being cooked on the stove in a pot and the sizzle of them being cooked in a frying pan. It smells good, although he’s never really learned enough about cooking to be able to pick out what exactly it smells like. There’s definitely meat, and rice. Beyond that he has no idea.

There’s also humming, and Namjoon is sure he recognizes the voice. He toes off his shoes as quietly as he can and pads down the hallway, anticipation at what he is likely to find there bubbling happily in his gut.

His ears did not lie. It’s Yoongi in the kitchen, wearing a threadbare white t-shirt that looks ready to fall apart at the seams and his ratty red-and-black pyjama pants riding low on his hips. He’s standing in front of their stove, holding court over a pair of pots, one with a lid and one steaming furiously, and two frying pans full of something that’s sizzling loud and hot.

Namjoon’s smile gets wider. Yoongi isn’t just cooking, and humming. He’s cooking and humming and dancing, shimmying to be specific, his shoulders twisting one way while his hips go the other. Whatever he’s humming isn’t something that Namjoon recognizes but he seems into it, bobbing his head along with whatever is coming out of the earbuds shoved into his ears.

The counters aren’t quite as much of a mess as they get when Seokjin cooks for them but the prep work has definitely spilled out onto the island of counters they have in the middle of their kitchen. There are two cutting boards out, one covered in what looks like (and probably is) blood, the other full of vegetable ends. It’s going to be a production to clean it up, but if Yoongi’s cooking no one will complain too much. He’s good.

In and among the other things (tea towels, aprons, what looks like one of Jimin’s scarves) scattered around their kitchen Namjoon can see the yellow sweater hanging off a hook on the wall. He makes the very reasonable assumption that Yoongi had been wearing it earlier, had taken it off before he started cooking because a) cooking is hot work, and it’s already a sort of hot day, and even perpetually-cold Yoongi would get hot doing it and b) the sleeves are so long they would drag through everything.

Still, Yoongi had been wearing it, and that’s enough of an excuse for Namjoon to sneak up beside Yoongi as he bops along, drape an arm over his shoulder, pull out one of the earphones and ask “What’s the occasion?”

Yoongi jumps in surprise, the sound of whatever he was listening to briefly masked by his startled shout of “Kim Namjoon!”. Namjoon laughs as Yoongi snatches at the earbud in Namjoon’s hand, nearly dropping the wooden spoon he was using to stir the pot. With his other hand he fumbles at his pocket to extract his phone.

Namjoon tries to peek at the screen but the angle is all wrong. Stealing Yoongi’s phone would probably annoy him even more than the surprising and the stealing of the earbud did but Namjoon doesn’t recognize the song. It’s definitely Yoongi’s voice rapping out of the headphone, and a beat that has Yoongi’s style stamped all over it, but it’s not any of Yoongi’s early work that Namjoon has been able to find and it definitely isn’t anything he’s made for Bangtan.

“Hyung,” he whines as Yoongi pushes pause and the music cuts off. “C’mon, it was good!”

“Not until it’s done.” Yoongi is firm about it, taking his earbud back. Instead of putting it back in his ear as Namjoon would have expected he tucks it in the top of his shirt. “Then you can listen to it properly, but not until.”

“Hyuuung,” Namjoon whines again, tickling at Yoongi’s side since he can’t escape while Namjoon has his arm around his shoulders.

“Ach!” Yoongi yelps, swatting at Namjoon’s hand. “Kim Namjoon is this any way to treat your elders?”

“Yes,” Namjoon laughs, and does it again.

Yoongi sniffs. “You smell,” he says. “I’d say ‘if you’re going to hang around in the kitchen at least make yourself useful’ but I think your smell alone will spoil the food.”

“Don’t you like my natural manly musk?”

No,” Yoongi says, shoving Namjoon away before he can do more than nuzzle his admittedly sweaty forehead against the side of Yoongi’s head. “Shower. If you’re done in a reasonable amount of time then maybe you can help me chop a few things up and squeeze out of dishes duty on a technicality.”

Namjoon drops a smacking kiss to Yoongi’s cheek before his self preservation instincts kick in. He realizes his mistake quickly enough to get himself out of easy pinching/poking/swatting distance before Yoongi can make a move but holds out little hope of escaping completely unscathed.

The move Yoongi makes is not the one Namjoon expects. He wrinkles his nose and says “Aich!” as if in disgust but he also grins, wide and gummy. His eyes are smiling too, crinkling at the corners and just under the corners, as if the joy has spilled out and over. It’s a good look on him. A really good look. Namjoon can’t think of anything to say before Yoongi adds, “Get out!”

Obeying the order is easy. Namjoon isn’t sure what he’d do if he stayed in the kitchen with a Yoongi who is feeling so good about something (probably his mixtape he thinks, eyes going wide, maybe it’s almost- and he cuts the thought off. He doesn’t want to get ahead of Yoongi, anticipate anything he hasn’t announced yet) that he’s humming and dancing and laughing when he gets a kiss on the cheek. He is sure that whatever it is, now is not the time to find out.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

They’re between tour stops when Namjoon wakes up to Yoongi crawling into his bed.

He doesn’t know it’s Yoongi at first. It’s just a body, shoving his body out of the way with a surprising amount of force, making room for it on Namjoon’s bed among Namjoon’s plushies. He figures out it’s Yoongi from the way the body sucks in air when they lock eyes. Well, that and the fact that he’d recognize Yoongi’s profile almost anywhere.

“Bwuh?” he asks, groggily swimming his way to wakefulness.

“Shh,” says Yoongi glancing to the partition that separates Namjoon’s space from Taehyung’s. Under the noise of Yoongi rearranging Namjoon’s blankets and plushies to make room for himself Namjoon can hear the sound of Taehyung’s gentle snoring.

“W’tim?” Namjoon asks, ignoring the instruction, and then “Whumf!” as Yoongi misjudges the space and accidentally ends up half on Namjoon’s chest.

Yoongi hasn’t been missing exactly but he’d disappeared almost as soon as they got off the plane. He shows up for rehearsals, and for any official schedules, but he’s been silent in the group chat, moreso than usual, and a ghost in the dorm. Yesterday Taehyung had wondered aloud if Yoongi had showered since they got back. Just that morning Jungkook had been complaining that Yoongi turned down an invitation to lamb skewers. To say that it’s surprising to find him crawling into Namjoon’s bed at who-knows-what-o’clock is an understatement.

“Sorry,” says Yoongi, shuffling so he’s lying beside Namjoon on his back, staring at the ceiling.

Silence falls again. Namjoon counts ten of Taehyung’s breaths. The idea of more sleep with Yoongi’s warm body beside him is tempting but something tells him sleep would be long in coming. Curiosity is more powerful than caffeine when it comes to waking him up. He counts to ten again, and then a third time. Yoongi definitely isn’t asleep, but whatever it is he’s thinking about has him distracted enough he won’t remember to use his words for a while. Namjoon sighs.

“Did you want something hyung?”

“Oh,” says Yoongi, like he’d forgotten that he doesn’t normally crawl into Namjoon’s bed in the middle of the night to lie staring at his ceiling. Namjoon feels fond. “Oh. Um. Yes.”

Namjoon waits. Yoongi doesn’t speak. Namjoon tries not to laugh. His bed isn’t especially big, so they touch from their shoulders all the way down the length of their arms. Yoongi would notice if his shoulders started shaking.

“I’ve been at the studio?”

“So we figured.” Namjoon gives in to temptation and rolls onto his side so he can see Yoongi without having to crane his neck. He fell asleep before he remembered to close the curtains in his room. In the glow from the city slipping through the crack Yoongi’s face positively glows. He watches as Yoongi wrestles with the words he wants to say. He’s got a pretty good idea of what this is about but he’s loath to spoil the moment by jumping ahead, by asking, by depriving Yoongi of the chance to claim this for himself.

“I finished it, I think.”

The words hang in the air, suspended in time. Namjoon wishes he could take everything about their existence in this instant and take a snapshot, record it and frame it for those times when he wants to live in a moment that feels absolutely perfect.

Yoongi sounds unsure, for the most part, but there’s something else lurking just under the surface. Under the surface he sounds fiercely proud. Namjoon can relate.

“You finished it?” Namjoon asks, a banal question that will hopefully give Yoongi the chance to become more firm in his belief.

“Yeah, yeah, I think so.” Yoongi definitely sounds more sure this time, turning his head to look at Namjoon. He smiles, wide and bright, and Namjoon tries to smile back only to find that he’s already smiling. “I think- no. No, it is done. I’m done tinkering.”

He reaches into the pocket of the sweater he’s wearing (yellow, Namjoon’s brain supplies, it’s our sweater) and pulls out his phone and a pair of earbuds. He holds one out wordlessly in his long fingers. Namjoon looks at it, then at Yoongi’s face. Yoongi’s smile has slipped from happy to nervous.

Yoongi is between Namjoon and his nightstand. Instead of doing anything like ask if Yoongi could move, or propping himself up on his arms, Namjoon rolls on top of Yoongi and reaches for the drawer. “Namjoon-ah!” Yoongi says, shocked. His voice is half confusion and half a breathy laugh. “What’re you-”

Namjoon finishes rummaging in the drawer and flops back onto his side of the bed. He has the headphone splitter tucked in the palm of his hand, his good headphones dangling from his fingers. “Listening properly,” he explains, clearing his throat.

“Oh.” Yoongi’s voice is smaller and quieter than it had been, almost a breath instead of anything with voice. “Ah. Okay.”

His fingers don’t offer any resistance when Namjoon plucks the phone out of them. Namjoon fiddles with the splitter and chords then passes phone and earbuds back to Yoongi. He slips his headphones on over his ears and lies back down, on his back again this time, their arms touching. It feels natural as breathing to thread his fingers through Yoongi’s cold ones and squeeze.

Yoongi doesn’t say anything. Yoongi squeezes back, takes a deep breath, and presses play.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Their schedulers don’t quite have a conniption when they try and rearrange things so they have time to film Yoongi’s mixtape music video, but it’s a near thing. The concept for it is solid, really solid, good, except that the filming location is so far away that not only is it impossible for the members to casually stop by to show their support for Yoongi. The filming will take more than one day, and Yoongi won’t be back to the dorm on the night between.

The members make jokes about it of course, say we’ll text you and we won’t even ask you to text us back but it doesn’t remove the bite of guilt that sits low in Namjoon’s stomach. They’d all been there for him. It feels wrong, and unfair, that he can’t be there for Yoongi.

From prior experience Namjoon knows that filming a solo video can be stressful so he fully expects the sweater to disappear in the days leading up to Yoongi’s departure. It doesn’t though, not even after Seokjin drops by to whine about the fact that Yoongi’s sighing while he debates the merits of one pair of ripped jeans over another one is interrupting his beauty rest.

“He’s only going for a couple days,” Seokjin says, flopping on Namjoon’s bed. “And the stylists will probably have opinions. You’ll let me stay here until he finishes packing, right? Your favourite hyungnim?”

They eat supper together, Yoongi in turns more animated and more quiet over the course of the evening. The topics stay pretty neutral, comments on the food (tasty, but not fried chicken, which is what they’d been angling for), on the concerts they’d finished already, on the tweaks to choreo that they’d covered earlier in the day.

“All packed?” Jungkook asks into one of the pauses, his cheek bulging with rice.

“Yeah.” Yoongi’s shoulders stiffen beside Namjoon as he sits up a bit straighter. “Yeah.” Namjoon very carefully makes faces at Jungkook to please stop this line of questioning. Jungkook’s eyebrows shoot up and he stops chewing very briefly so both his cheeks bulge. He doesn’t bring it up again, and neither does anyone else for the rest of the meal.

Namjoon sneaks a hand under the table to squeeze Yoongi’s knee. Yoongi glances at his hand but doesn’t say anything, doesn’t do anything, just spoons himself a bit more stew and keeps methodically eating. His shoulders never quite relax, and when the plates are cleared he disappears into the bathroom with a bath bomb in either hand.

The sweater is still in Namjoon’s closet, even though Yoongi has packed his suitcase, even though Yoongi’s going to go somewhere stressful and horrible without any of his usual support system. Namjoon should never have texted to ask him about having packed it all that time ago. Of course Yoongi wouldn’t try a second time.

He sits on his bed and stares at it. It stares back at him, accusingly. Given the people he surrounds himself with he doesn’t win very many staring contests. He doesn’t win this one either.

Yoongi is still in the bathroom, humming to himself, when Namjoon sneaks past to the room Seokjin and Yoongi share. He has a limited window to carry out his plan, and he’s in such a rush to make sure he can avoid Yoongi discovering him that he doesn’t even consider Seokjin.

They stare at each other for a long moment. Seokjin is wearing his I know you’re up to something face over the top of his binder of tabs. Namjoon barely dares breathe until Seokjin relaxes the grip on the neck of his guitar.

“Do I even want to know?”

“Um,” says Namjoon, eloquently. There’s no good way to answer that question. Seokjin definitely would want to know, but he would mostly want to know so he could use that against him, tease him about his plan. More relevant to the situation is the fact that Namjoon doesn’t want to tell him.

Namjoon takes long enough to answer that Seokjin sighs, shakes his head, and starts plucking at the strings some more. The tune isn’t one Namjoon recognizes. “Probably I do want to know then, but I won’t ask because you quite obviously don’t want to tell me.”

“Thanks, hyung,” Namjoon says on a breathy exhale. He slips around to Yoongi’s side of the room. His suitcase is at the end of his bed, zipped tight and ready to go. Namjoon wastes no time in unzipping the main compartment and flipping the top open. Over their years of acquaintance he’s learned that Yoongi is meticulous in his packing in a way that he isn’t when it comes to doing the dishes.

It’s almost too easy for Namjoon to peel up a layer of garment-bag and ripped-jeans to slide the sweater, carefully folded and rolled, into the very bottom of the bag. It creates a bit of a bump but nothing too noticeable when he puts all the clothing back on top. He can feel Seokjin’s eyes on him as he zips everything closed.

There’s a quality to the air that suggests that Seokjin is very pointedly not asking the myriad of questions he wants to ask. It’s one of Seokjin’s most effective tactics. It’s working. Namjoon has to bite the tip of his tongue to avoid filling the silence with the information Seokjin is probably looking for.

He doesn’t bother to fight the instinct to bow as he ducks out of the room again. Seokjin raises an eyebrow but doesn’t actually say anything, just strums a few pointed chords. Namjoon makes good his escape.

The bathroom door opens before he can makes it back to his room. He’s confronted with Yoongi, wearing an oversized white t-shirt and a towel around his waist. He’s obviously just finished his bath - he’s scrubbing his hair with a towel. When he locks eyes with Namjoon he freezes, then slowly drops his hand. His damp hair sticks up every which way. He looks tired.

“Yes?” he asks, puzzled.

“Nothing,” Namjoon says quickly, shaking himself out of his reverie. “Nothing.”

Yoongi blinks at him. “Okay?”

“Okay,” Namjoon says, and then, because this situation is already awkward, and he might as well make it more awkward, adds “Good luck, tomorrow. Have fun.”

The noise Yoongi lets out would only be called a laugh by someone who has had laughter described to them but never heard it for themselves. “Fun. Right. Yeah.”

Namjoon wants to reach out and put a comforting hand on his shoulder, wants to say It’s okay hyung, if I can do it so can you, wants to pull Yoongi in for a hug and hold him until he has to leave. He looks so vulnerable.

“If I can do it so can you,” Namjoon says with a half-smile.

Yoongi snorts and ducks his head. Namjoon can see his face, already pink from the heat of his bath, turn a bit more so along his cheekbones. “Thanks,” Yoongi says, and he sounds more sincere.

Almost as soon as Namjoon gets his door closed behind him he starts to second guess his actions but it’s too late. Yoongi has the shortest skin care routine out of any of them, and is leaving early in the morning. Even if Namjoon wanted to pull the sweater out of Yoongi’s bag he wouldn’t have time. He’s committed to this course of action. If Yoongi wants to make a big deal out of it, well, there’s precedence of sweaters being present at mixtape filmings he can reference. Yoongi had brought the sweater to his film set first, after all. He’s just returning the favour.

He allows himself to send one text when he wakes up (”You got this hyung! Fighting!”) and then puts his phone on silent for the day.

The morning is given over to studio time, messing with lyrics to try and make them fit the melody he has, then deciding he doesn’t quite like the way the melody and beat interact. He resists the urge to text Yoongi again, doesn’t even check his phone until someone reminds him he has an appointment to touch up his hair. He’s not surprised when there’s no notification from Yoongi.

Given how long he’s ignored his phone there are a lot of other notifications. So many that they can’t all display across the top bar. He fiddles with his phone, locking and unlocking it. Too many, he decides at last. He’ll deal with them later.

When he’s done getting the colour fixed he goes back to the studio to keep working. Things are going well until Taehyung and Jimin barge in, demanding to know why he’s been ignoring them.

“What?” asks Namjoon, guiltily opening his phone and scrolling through the notifications. They’ve multiplied. He finds the ones from Taehyung and Jimin (variations on the theme of hyung we’re hungry come buy us ramen? that degenerate into just the word hyuuuuuuuuuung) as well as a few from Seokjin, entirely random facts, and Hoseok (I know you’re fretting, please stop, it’s messing up my rehearsal), and Jungkook (pictures of the six different dogs he met on his morning run).

There’s still no text from Yoongi, but that’s to be expected. He doesn’t dwell on it, lets Jimin and Taehyung drag him out for lunch. They eat cheap ramen and drink pop and talk about nothing as they sit on the hard plastic stools in the front of the store. Namjoon takes his leave not long after he finishes eating, and gets maybe two hours more work in before Seokjin interrupts him to insist he has a thirst that can only be quenched by bubble tea consumed in Namjoon’s company.

When he puts it like that who is Namjoon to say no?

Seokjin doesn’t just drag him out for bubble tea. “You’re going to eat supper with us,” he says. “No arguments.”

“We ate supper together yesterday!” Namjoon protests. “And I had lunch with Jimin and Taehyung! And I have work to do!”

“You are going to come and have supper with us,” Seokjin repeats, putting one of his deceptively strong arms along Namjoon’s back. “Come on.”

They pick up bubble tea orders for everyone at the house, and Namjoon thinks oh, I should remember Yoongi’s coffee before he remembers that Yoongi isn’t going to be there to drink it.

Dinner is a raucous affair, as though the members are trying to make up for the fact that one of them is missing tonight by being louder than usual. It’s funny, in a way. They don’t eat together as often as they used to, and even if they do eat together it isn’t unusual for one of them (generally Yoongi) to be elsewhere (generally at a studio), and yet here everyone is screeching about people stealing food from their bowl and playing rock paper scissors over the last mandu.

Namjoon is talking to Hoseok and so misses what exactly starts Jimin and Taehyung serenading each other. It takes approximately two seconds before Seokjin has joined in, using his fork as a microphone. Jimin catches his eye and grins. Namjoon resigns himself to the fact that he won’t be going back to the studio for the night and gives himself wholly over to the vacation-like atmosphere of the evening.

The impromptu karaoke moves to the living room, and they’re most of the way through singing the opening to Naruto when Namjoon sees Jungkook panning his phone around to catch everyone singing. Namjoon has existed around these boys long enough he knows a video being taken when he sees one. His phone chimes a few minutes later. Jungkook has sent the video to their group chat but Yoongi doesn’t even reply to Jungkook’s heartfelt you wish you were here, loser-hyung.

It makes Namjoon feel a bit better about the continued radio silence to his text but… it’s late enough in the day that Yoongi should be wrapped filming, looking for his pyjamas and bed, and it isn’t that Namjoon wants recognition, or thanks even, he just wants to know that his gesture didn’t go to waste. It would be humiliating if Yoongi doesn’t find the sweater until he gets back.

“Namjoonie-hyung you’re up!” Jungkook says, throwing the microphone at Namjoon’s head. They’ve got Gee pulled up on the machine. If Namjoon has any hope of getting a half-decent score he’ll have to focus on what he’s doing. He sets all thoughts of Yoongi’s replies to the side, picks up the microphone, and starts to sing.

The singing absorbs his concentration, and he slips almost without noticing it into watching everyone else sing. By the time he checks his phone again he’s laying in bed, wearing his pyjamas and slowly, methodically, working his way through the notifications he’d been ignoring. His side twinges as he shifts to a more comfortable position (Jimin, in his enthusiasm, had tackled him into a couch containing Taehyung and they’d all walked away with a few accidental elbow jabs) and he finally gets to his conversation with Yoongi. There’s one unread message, sent an hour ago.

It’s very succinct.

yoongi-hyung
you dweeb.

Namjoon grins.

There are so many questions he wants to ask, about how things went, if Yoongi had fun, if the dailies matched what Yoongi had pictured when he saw the concept art, but he doesn’t ask any of them. Yoongi wouldn’t reply.

He types out love you too and then deletes it. They’ve said it before, in person, in the heat of the moment, but it feels too personal in text. He types out sleep well and then deletes that too. He types out I hope it wasn’t too forward of me but I wanted to make sure you felt our support even though we couldn’t be there in person! and laughs at himself.

Classic case of overthinking. Yoongi would tease him for it if he saw.

namjoon
fighting!

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

It becomes something like a game almost immediately.

Namjoon leaves the sweater in his closet when they leave for the next leg of the tour, but when he unpacks his bag at the hotel there it is. He laughs, wears it backstage a few times, and then tries to slip it into Yoongi’s bag before they leave. It’s reappeared in his suitcase before they go to sleep that night. He manages to get it to stay in Yoongi’s bag all the way to the hotel the time after that. Yoongi appears at dinner that night wearing a privately pleased expression that borders on a smile along with the sweater and that’s it. Namjoon’s invested.

Yoongi wins three times out of every four but he never gloats about it. At least, he never says anything about it. Instead he looks smug whenever he catches Namjoon wearing the sweater that has not-so-mysteriously appeared in his bag. There’s a definite undertone of if you planned better and packed less clothing you might win more often in Yoongi’s quiet smirks. Namjoon doesn’t mind. Both things might be true but this is one game he doesn’t mind losing. Half the fun is in the playing.

Between their concerts and their photoshoots and their interviews and their music video filming they spend more time away from home than at home, but that’s becoming their new normal. Namjoon spends what downtime they have fretting over lyrics and melodies for their next next album to keep himself from fretting about the low-level buzz starting about the awards season.

Then they’re home. It isn’t restful, exactly, but at least they aren’t traveling quite so much. They spend their time perfecting their new stages and pretending like they aren’t nervous, like aren’t half-convinced that this is going to be the time that things plateau, that they’ve reached their zenith and are going to stop getting bigger.

Namjoon finds the sweater on his bed the night before their album is set to drop. He grins at it but doesn’t put it on, leaves it on Yoongi’s bed instead and heads to the studio just to be somewhere that doesn’t have him staring at the walls of their apartment. He’s not really surprised to hear a faint knock on the door a few hours later, even less when something warm and soft and yellow is thrown at his head.

“You dingus,” Yoongi says, following the sweater into the room. He has a plastic bag in each hand. “I brought takeout.”

They eat, and they talk. Eventually they go home.

Their album drops.

During promotions the award-buzz gets loud, very loud, but Namjoon’s exhaustion is louder. During the few hours a night he’s allowed to be horizontal on his bed he dreams of wings, heavy with feathers and wax, strapped to his back first, then melting there. First he’s too close to the sun and then he’s in their rehearsal room, trying to do choreography, apologizing profusely as he knocks everyone else over, trying not to cry as Jimin explains, one more time, that if he’d just roll his hips like this

He gives up on ignoring the awards. It’s not like they are going anywhere.

They’re up for more bonsangs, which is good, it’s always good, but they’re also up for Album of the year and that… that’s terrifying. He’s terrified. It’s an honour to even be nominated of course, but now that they’re nominated he wants to win, and people are saying they have a chance, and if they-

He hurriedly breaks off the thought, refusing to finish it even in the privacy of his own head, and turns back to the matter at hand, namely unpacking from their brief trip now that they are back at their dorm. Sure, finishing the thought probably wouldn’t jinx them, but he doesn’t want to risk it on the off chance that it might.

He focuses instead on the sweater in his hands. He hadn’t packed it before they got on the plane, of course. The last he’d seen it was the night before, on Yoongi’s back. When he checks the pocket the note says eleventy million to three. There’s a rudimentary drawing of what he thinks are supposed to be finger guns.

Grinning, he sets down the sweater and slides over to his bedside table to fish out his notebook and its pocket full of notes. Among them are infinity to negative infinity and 6.33x10^23 to 4 (did you see that Kim Namjoon I can Science too). Namjoon never asks about the scoring system Yoongi has devised. He knows what Yoongi would say, in the slow, half annoyed drawl he gets whenever there’s a question he doesn’t really feel like answering. At least one of us is keeping track. Not my fault you can’t count, Kim Namjoon.

He sees the pocket of the notebook is starting to bulge as he slips the note in with the others. He thinks, very briefly, about finding somewhere else to store them before deciding that that is future-Namjoon’s problem. He still has to finish unpacking.

“Namjoonie-hyung are you even listening?”

It’s Jimin’s voice, asking in a tone that means I have already asked you this question twice don’t make me ask a third time. Namjoon drags himself back to the here and now, blinking around at Jimin.

“Um,” he says, feeling a traitorous blush blooming across his cheeks.

JImin rolls his eyes. “I said what’s this then?”

Jimin is holding the yellow sweater up by the shoulder with one hand. With the other he’s holding the left sleeve of the sweater out to Namjoon. Namjoon reaches out to take the cuff automatically. It takes him a few seconds to process what he’s seeing, which is enough time for Jimin to stick his finger in the hole at the elbow and wriggle it around.

“Hey!” says Namjoon, his arm jerking as if trying to pull the sleeve out of harm’s way. The faint rip from the sleeve is loud in the sudden quiet of the room. Jimin pulls his hand back quickly but the damage is done. The hole, previously the size of a grape, is now the size of a golf ball. Judging by the fraying, thin fabric at the edges it’s only a matter of time before it grows.

He barely hears Jimin’s frantic, hurried apologies. He’s too focused on drawing the sweater toward him, sitting down on his bed, cradling it in his lap as if that will somehow comfort it, or comfort him. Considering two grown men have been wearing it for upwards of five years it really shouldn’t be surprising it’s getting worn. It isn’t something to get upset about. Namjoon is upset anyways, and then upset at himself for being upset.

“You, the man with more clothing than some villages, have managed to wear one article until it has a hole in it? I’m impressed.” Jimin is trying to lighten the mood, Namjoon can tell from his hopeful smile and slightly nervous giggle. He appreciates that Jimin is trying to lighten the mood. He keeps his expression neutral. It’s safer than trying to fake a laugh.

“It’s not just him,” Jungkook corrects. He and Taehyung are curled up in Taehyung’s bed, their heads sharing a pillow. Neither of them have even started to unpack. They are reading from the same comic, Taehyung holding it above their heads and turning the page whenever Jungkook taps his wrist. Jimin had been with them, last Namjoon checked. “Yoongi-hyung wears it too, sometimes.”

Namjoon squirms uncomfortably.

He and Yoongi both tend to lean on their left elbow when they work. He’d noticed a while ago that the material there was on the worn side of well-worn but the rest of it was in mostly good condition. He’d decided to ignore it rather than think about it too closely. The sweater still kept him warm after all, and made him happy. He didn’t want to think about it getting worn out.

Jimin sits beside him on the bed and picks up the arm with the hole in it. Namjoon watches with a detached sort of feeling as he runs his fingers around the hole. It’s irrational to want to smack his hand away, so he doesn’t.

“Could you-” starts Namjoon at last, when he can’t take it anymore, but before he cay say anything else Jimin starts talking.

“Isn’t this from your trainee days? Maybe it’s time to just-”

“NO!” Namjoon yells, making them all jump. “No,” he says again at a much more reasonable volume. “No. I’ll find someone who can…” Who can what? Magically make it new again? “Can fix it.”

It’s not just that it’s one of his favourite sweaters. It’s that it’s his and Yoongi’s favourite sweater, and the best way he knows how to get hugs from Yoongi without either of them being put in an awkward position, and the best way he knows how to give a hug to Yoongi in a way he knows Yoongi won’t reflexively shy away from while complaining. There’s a lot more tied up in the sweater than it just being a sweater. If the others haven’t noticed he sure as hell doesn’t want to explain it to them.

There’s a skeptical slant to Jimin’s mouth that Namjoon doesn’t like the look of. He reaches for the sweater properly this time and Namjoon bites back the impulse to tell him to keep his hands to himself. It’s hard.

“Is there even anywhere that would fix it?” Jimin asks at last, turning the sweater over to give it a more thorough inspection. “And, look hyung, the cuffs are fraying too, and the pocket is starting to come apart, and the collar is all stretched out, and-”

Namjoon snatches the sweater back, wincing as he hears the rip widen. “I’ll deal with it,” he says firmly.

Jimin looks hurt, briefly, but shrugs, shakes it off, and retreats to Taehyung’s bed to cuddle with him and Jungkook. Namjoon takes slow, deep breaths, thinking about nothing, and waits until he feels less irrationally angry at Jimin’s assessment to start moving again.

When Jimin looks at the sweater he probably sees one of hyung’s favourite sweaters but not too much more. When Namjoon looks at the sweater he sees Yoongi-hyung bought this for me back when we were trainees written across the breadth of his shoulders, where Yoongi sometimes drapes his arm, and I love this sweater written across the sleeves, and I composed some of my best work wearing this written around the cuffs and it carries so many memories written across the pocket and hyung would miss it too written across the heart.

He puts it down, and turns back to unpacking. Find someone who can mend very old sweaters, goes right to the top of his mental to-do list. After careful consideration he adds a few highlighter arrows, to make sure he won’t forget, and then writes it a second time, bigger, bolder, in red font.

The mental formatting pays off. As soon as he’s finished sorting out clean clothing from what needs to be washed and putting the to be washed pile in his laundry basket he has his phone out and a search engine up.

Judging by the results there are quite a few places that fall into the category of someone who can mend very old sweaters but there are also articles on how to it himself. They are titled things like “Six Easy Ways To Patch Your Jeans!” and “This Foolproof Method Can Save Any Sweater!”. The enthusiasm of the titles bears out in the articles, as they explain how he, too, without the help of any trained professionals, can do something this simple.

He remains unconvinced, but in the time he lost to figuring out he does want a trained professional after all all the stores on his shortlist have closed for the night. He sighs and hunts around in his desk until he finds a bag to put the sweater in, ready for transport just as soon as he picks a place. Operating under the assumption that if he leaves it in plain sight he’ll be reminded often enough to follow through on his plan he puts it on his bedside table. He adds a bright yellow sticky note, with the words fix me written on it, for good measure.

It’s perfect. Every time he wakes up or goes to sleep he’ll see it. Even better, every time he sees it he’ll feel guilty it isn’t done yet. Guilt always serves as a good motivator.

He nods to himself twice, pats the bag, and gets ready for bed.

Guilt does not serve as an effective motivator.

The feel guilty part of his plan works wonderfully. It’s turning that guilt into action that proves to be the problem. It feels like one of his school assignments, when the deadline is still so far away as to be negligible - something he knows he should be doing, but constantly puts off in favour of something, anything else. There’s plenty of time, he reasons. He can do it later.

He finally has to put the bag holding the sweater back in his closet so it stops staring at him reproachfully while he tries to sleep. “Soon,” he tells the plastic bag, patting it like he might a cat. “Soon. I promise.”

Out of sight isn’t quite out of mind, but he finds it easier to pack the guilt up small, lock it away, and actually get some sleep. Sleep is important, in the middle of promotions, given how little of it they get. He’s not happy with the solution exactly — he misses the sweater backstage, and in the van, and at the dorm — but it’s for the best, in the long run, and it’s not like it’s hurting anyone except him.

Him or Yoongi, he realizes, when he catches Yoongi going through his closet one evening when they find themselves with a few blessedly schedule free hours. They stare at each other for a long moment. Yoongi’s arms are elbow-deep among the clothes, in the section of his closet that Namjoon uses for his sweaters. He doesn’t pull his hands out, just stands there, blinking.

The guilt Namjoon has been trying to avoid, kept small and caged in the pit of his stomach, picks the lock. It’s exactly as unwelcome a guest as Namjoon remembers it being. He’s not sure what he can say to Yoongi to explain the lack of sweater. Yoongi looks tired, harried, a pale imitation of his usual self now that he’s out of his stage makeup. Except his eyes, Namjoon notes, which are lit with… well, they are lit with something, but it doesn’t look like a happy something.

“Ah,” says Yoongi. “Um. You’re supposed to be at dinner.”

It strikes Namjoon that this is the first time he’s caught Yoongi trying to steal the sweater. Usually Namjoon doesn’t know it’s gone until he sees it on Yoongi’s body, or it shows up in his suitcase.

“Forgot my phone,” Namjoon cautiously, hands extended. Yoongi reminds him of a skittish cat, the kind who hasn’t decided if it’s initial freeze instinct is going to transform into fight or flight. “Came back to get it.”

“Ah,” says Yoongi.

“Yes.”

Namjoon can’t quite figure out what the best course of action might be. He tries to ignore the new layer of guilt bubbling merrily in his stomach (should have told him, should have noticed he was looking tired before this, it’s been a long run, probably hasn’t been eating right, should have paid closer attention) and deal with the here and now.

He takes too long deciding on a course of action.

“It’s been a while?” Yoongi’s voice is quiet but it carries straight to Namjoon’s heart. He finds out that yes, he can feel worse. “And in general it’s been. So I thought I’d. But I was going to. Because I figure you. Um.”

And in general it’s been a stressful time Namjoon’s brain supplies, so I thought I’d borrow it for a bit. But I was going to put it back as soon as I was done, because I figure you need it as much as I do.

“Right,” says Namjoon, rubbing the back of his neck. Yoongi sticks out like a sore thumb in Namjoon’s pastel room with his black sweater and black jeans and black hair. “I was going to fix it.”

“Fix it?” Yoongi asks, the tension in his voice ratcheting up a level as his eyes go wide. “What-”

“There’s just, there’s a hole? In the sleeve. It’s not very big,” Namjoon hurries to assure him as Yoongi’s eyes go impossibly wider and his mouth opens into a soft oh of surprise. “Here, just hang on. I put it away so I wouldn’t accidentally wash it, make things worse, anything like that.”

Yoongi probably doesn’t mean his gaze to be accusatory but as his eyes follow Namjoon to his closet it seems to say and you didn’t think to tell me? which. That’s fair. That’s a fair thing for Yoongi to think.

The plastic bag somehow feels like the wrong choice as a container for something so precious when Namjoon pulls it out of the closet. It’s just a grocery bag, one he found at the bottom of a drawer. It’s got a few small holes in it, which is probably why it hasn’t been used for garbage yet, but it also gives the impression that Namjoon was getting ready to throw the sweater out.

He undoes the knot in the top and draws the sweater out. The hole in the sleeve hasn’t magically fixed itself, more’s the pity, but at least it hasn’t gotten any bigger.

“I know we wear a lot of ripped things all the time,” Namjoon starts, gesturing at Yoongi’s jeans, “But it felt wrong? To keep using it with the hole? Because really it should be patched. And it might get bigger? The hole, I mean.”

Yoongi picks up the sleeve with careful fingers, turning it over so he can inspect the damaged area. “Yeah,” he breathes, and Namjoon lets out a sigh of relief. He was worried he would have to explain himself further like he had with Jimin. He shouldn’t have been. This was Yoongi. If anyone would understand it was him.

“So I’ve been trying to find someone who could do it, but we’ve been so busy…”

Yoongi nods along as Namjoon speaks, his frown getting deeper, his eyebrows drawing together. It’s not his angry expression. It’s him concentrating on something. Namjoon would not be surprised to learn that mixed in with the trivia in his head is a list of all the people who sew in their neighbourhood. He’s probably consulting it now. It’s a cute look.

“But I’ll do it right after supper,” Namjoon continues hurriedly, because now is not the time to think about how Yoongi looks cute. “And you can have it first, when we get it back.”

Yoongi scoffs.

“I’m serious hyung,” Namjoon says, balling the sweater up and hesitating. “And I mean, if you wanted to borrow it now, we can just make sure it doesn’t go in the wash and-”

“It’s fine, Joon-ah,” Yoongi says, which isn’t exactly true. Namjoon can hear the half-lie in his voice.

He’s just so… so Yoongi sometimes.

“You’re sure?” Namjoon presses, because he can, and because he thinks this is one of those cases where Yoongi won’t actually mind. “Because it’s award season, and we’re- and I- and it-”

The dim light of his room is just enough that Namjoon can see the twist in Yoongi’s mouth. It’s close enough to a smile to count. “Joon-ah, what have I told you about being superstitious?”

(“Superstitions are superstitions,” Yoongi explains one night in the studio. “Luck is luck, and some of our luck we can make by working hard, and some luck really is just luck.”

Namjoon has noticed the swallow charms on Yoongi’s bag, the way he stills his leg when he notices it bouncing, what he eats before interviews, how he is careful entering and exiting houses.

“Right,” Namjoon says, because it’s easier than fighting with him about it. “Sure thing, hyung.”)

“I don’t care about your philosophy around luck right now hyung,” Namjoon says, but with warmth in his tone, not annoyance, to take the sting out of his words. “I just want you to wear it, if you want to.”

Yoongi considers him. His face looks exactly like it does when he’s trying to figure out why a mix doesn’t sound just right yet. Namjoon feels like he should feel nervous. Mostly he feels safe.

He can see the second Yoongi comes to a decision, and is grateful for the warning as Yoongi steps forward to wrap him in a hug. Namjoon brings his arms up automatically to wrap around Yoongi’s shoulders, and once he’s got his arms there he can’t resist the urge to duck his head and tuck his face in the crook of Yoongi’s neck. With neither of them wearing the sweater there hasn’t been quite the same level of casual physical contact between them recently. Namjoon missed it, apparently. Hugging Yoongi feels like water after they’ve done an hour of rehearsals. He has to fight not to melt helplessly into it.

“Thank you, Joon-ah,” Yoongi says quietly, squeezing. “But I think for right now this is good.”

It takes Namjoon’s breath away. It’s not… it’s not that they haven’t hugged without one of them wearing the sweater before, it’s just rare, or as part of a group hug. It does something to his heart, that they’re hugging now, and that Yoongi had called it good. Good isn’t quite the word Namjoon would have used, but for Yoongi that’s. Well. It’s definitely something.

He squeezes harder. Yoongi came looking for the sweater, which is tantamount to saying some comfort would be nice right now. Namjoon doesn’t mind giving him that.

Yoongi is the first to draw back and Namjoon reluctantly lets him go. Namjoon wishes he had fought harder to get Yoongi into the sweater, or was wearing it himself, because then maybe he’d maybe have found the courage to skip supper, ask Yoongi to stay, maybe talk for a bit while they lay on his bed, possibly take a nap. They could both use the sleep.

He doesn’t have the courage though, so he stands still while Yoongi claps a hand firmly on Namjoon’s shoulder, the pad of his thumb contriving to brush the skin of Namjoon’s neck. It’s warm, and a touch rough, and somehow feels more intimate than even the hug. Namjoon swallows.

“Thanks,” says Yoongi. “Grab your phone. Seokjin-hyung will eat you for dinner if you make him any later, and we can’t have that.”

“No,” Namjoon agrees. “We can’t.”

Yoongi nods, and smiles his shy, quiet, smile. “Have fun.” He slips back out of the room. Namjoon shoves the sweater into its bag, then into his closet, grabs his phone, and runs.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Namjoon has a routine for when he wakes up unexpectedly in the middle of the night. He spends at least ten minutes lying in bed first, trying to get back to sleep, with his eyes closed and his mind carefully blank. If he opens his eyes before the ten minutes are up for any reason he has to restart. Usually he falls asleep long before he gets through ten minutes.

Some nights he doesn’t. Some nights he is so determined to beat the clock that the first time he opens his eyes fifteen or even twenty minutes have passed and, if he’s still wide awake, he’s allowed to get out of bed. He pads through the quiet dorm to their kitchen, where he makes himself one cup of tea without turning on any of the lights, drinks it standing at the counter, and goes back to bed to give lying down with his eyes closed another chance.

Under no circumstances is he allowed to look at his phone, turned off for the night, or a book, or at the television. He’s definitely not allowed to turn on his computer. No distractions, nothing that could contribute to his staying awake, period, with the sole exception of a notebook and pencil. He doesn’t get to choose when inspiration for lyrics or a melody strikes, and he’ll gladly lose a few more minutes potential sleep if it means it helps with their next album.

Unfortunately the uninspired nights outnumber the inspired ones, especially around promotions (recently completed) and awards (upcoming). The uninspired thoughts buzz around his head like flies, annoying and bumbling and somehow completely impossible to swat. It’s frustrating, is what it is. When he opens his eyes it’s a relief to see the clock on his dresser has leaped forward a full fifteen minutes. He’s in the clear to do something else for a bit.

He slides out of bed and sticks his feet in his slippers so they don’t get cold on his way to the kitchen. Taehyung is snoring lightly as he sneaks past and doesn’t stir when Namjoon opens their door, even though the door creaks. Namjoon doesn’t quite close the door behind him. With the dorm silent and dark he’d rather not risk a second unexpected noise that might wake Taehyung up.

Or rather, the dorm should be silent and dark, but someone has left a light on in the living room. Namjoon pauses as he takes in this information, then pauses longer as he hears the faint sounds of someone moving, humming too. Their schedule starts in a few hours, if his clock didn’t lie to him. No one should be awake at this hour, not even him, and they definitely shouldn’t be moving around or humming. Namjoon pads down the hall and peers around the corner.

Yoongi is sitting on their couch, his headphones on, humming to himself. His laptop is open on the table. It would make sense if he was writing music (he has the same when inspiration strikes it strikes mentality Namjoon does), except that when Namjoon takes a step further into the room he sees Yoongi doesn’t have any of their music programs up on the screen. He isn’t even looking at it. His attention is focused instead on his hands, and what he’s doing with them.

He’s sewing.

Tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth, shaggy hair falling into his eyes, deft fingers pulling what seems to be bright blue thread high in the air, it’s enough of an unbelievable picture that Namjoon bites the inside of his cheek to make sure it’s not a dream. It hurts. He’s probably not dreaming, even though he can see the knobs of Yoongi’s ankles where his pants have pulled up from him sitting cross legged, the sharp edge of his collar bone over the stretched out collar of his shirt.

Namjoon has to take two more steps into the room to see clearly what Yoongi is sewing in his lap. He takes the steps without incident, managing not to trip on the rug, or knock into an end table.

It’s a good thing Yoongi has his headphones on because Namjoon’s heart expands in his chest so quickly it forces a whimper out of his mouth.

Yoongi is sewing something blue onto something that looks like a soft, cotton, yellow sleeve. Namjoon is willing to bet everything he owns, his ability to write music, his soul even, that if he walked over and shook it out the yellow would resolve into the shape of a sweater.

There are some things people aren’t meant to know, because the knowledge of it would surely kill them. The way Yoongi looks as he tries with quiet, careful, determination to sew a patch onto an elbow, might break Namjoon if he thinks about it too hard.

He doesn’t go to the kitchen to make tea. He goes back to his bed, still managing not to knock anything over in the dark, and climbs under the covers. The weight of the duvet as it settles on his chest helps ground him as he stares at the ceiling. If he didn’t have it he’d have to find something to hold on to. He feels like he might float away, except that if he floated away he has a feeling Yoongi would be disappointed, and he can’t disappoint Yoongi.

He’d never want to disappoint Yoongi.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

The next time he unpacks his suitcase he finds the sweater under the top layer of his clothes. It’s only been a few days since he caught Yoongi patching it but it feels like an eternity. He’d been waiting for Yoongi to give it back, trying to guess if it would magically reappear in his closet, or on the end of his bed. It feels right, that it came in his suitcase. Something goes soft, and warm, and a bit wet in his chest as he extracts it from between a pair of his dress shoes and a series of scarves. He has his own room thankfully, so there’s no one there to make fun of his expression.

He shakes the sweater out, eyes going immediately to the elbow. The patch has been done from the inside, the scrap of bright blue he’d seen in among the yellow as Yoongi worked. The ragged edges of the hole have been made bigger, trimmed so now it looks like an intentional addition. It doesn’t look worn and frayed, it looks artfully worn and frayed, with a colour matched double-line border of stitches to make sure the hole doesn’t grow any bigger.

His heart beats hard, just once, as though even it is having a hard time handling this situation.

For a whole three seconds he considers not putting the sweater on and even those feel like wasted effort. He knew what he was going to do as soon as he saw it in his bag. Sliding it over his shoulders makes him feel like Superman putting on his cape. He feels invincible, right up until it takes him three tries to get his head through the neck hole. When he finally does get it pulled down properly it’s only to find he’s somehow managed to put it on backwards.

It’s an easy enough fix, which he does, then sticks his arms back out through the sleeves.

“And Jimin wanted to toss you,” he whispers to it, running his hands reverentially up and down the fabric of the sleeves. His fingers catch on the patched hole. “He thought it was time to let you go.”

The smile on his face in the mirror would be incredibly embarrassing if there was anyone else to see it, tease him for it, but there isn’t. It’s just him, and the sweater, and so he lets himself grin like a fool as he wraps his arms around himself and squeezes himself in a hug.

Of course that’s when he hears his door swing open.

“Joon-ah, what did we say about making sure your hotel doors actually latch behind you?”

The tone is teasing, his voice a bit gruff from the nap he took in the car, but it’s unmistakably Yoongi. Namjoon freezes as he looks toward the door. Frantic thoughts of flinging himself out of the direct line of sight cross his mind but it’s already too late to avoid detection. Yoongi has made eye contact with him, seen his smile. Namjoon realizes his arms are still wrapped around his shoulders. He drops them, but not before he sees the corner of Yoongi’s mouth twitch up.

Namjoon tries to reason with his blush (this is Yoongi, Yoongi has seen him in far more embarrassing situations, this is nothing to get embarrassed about) but it doesn’t listen. He turns back to the mirror and watches himself go pink.

Yoongi slips around behind him. In the mirror Namjoon can watch as his smile goes from teasing to something different, something softer. It’s excruciating.

“Ah.” Yoongi’s tone matches his expression. He hooks his chin over Namjoon’s shoulder. It’s… it’s definitely a picture, that they make, in the mirror. A picture to be looking at. Namjoon isn’t sure how long he’ll be able to bear it. He can’t bring himself to look away.

“Found someone to fix it?”

Yoongi’s voice rumbles through his chest, his jaw digging into Namjoon’s shoulder. It’s a bit distracting. Namjoon has to think to figure out what Yoongi’s asking about.

The question would make no sense at all except it’s Yoongi asking it. Yoongi is the one who fixed the sweater. Yoongi is the one who put it in Namjoon’s bag. Yoongi asking this question means please let’s make sure we never talk about this, okay?. Namjoon can do that.

“Yes. All patched.” He nods his head, watches in the mirror as the motion makes Yoongi’s hair shift, feels the shift against his cheek. To distract himself from the way it gives him goosebumps he turns the sleeve and shows Yoongi the patch.

It’s a mistake. Yoongi traces the outline of the patch delicately, his fingers applying just enough pressure it feels like he’s dragging a feather across Namjoon’s skin. That leads to goosebumps too. It’s possible that in the very near future Namjoon will be composed of nothing but goosebumps. Until that happens he’s going to enjoy the feeling of Yoongi’s chest on his back, arm around his waist, fingers running along his arm.

“Looks good.” Yoongi’s voice rumbles through his chest again. Namjoon tries to swallow but finds it hard. His mouth is dry, even though it worked fine a minute ago.

“Looks very good, hyung.” The sentence takes most of the air left in his lungs. Yoongi looks smugly out at him from the mirror, then yawns.

“You know,” Namjoon says consideringly, “That was a pretty big yawn for such a tiny-mouthed person. Might’ve been able to fit a whole bite of food in there. Maybe even two.”

“Fuck you,” Yoongi grumbles, switching out resting his chin on Namjoon’s shoulder to resting his forehead there. “Feel like I could sleep for a month and still not be caught up.”

“Who doesn’t?” Namjoon asks, letting some of his own exhaustion bleed through. He reaches around behind him, cradling Yoongi’s body in… a reverse back-hug maybe? If those are even a thing? And then he remembers. “Hey, stand up for a minute okay?”

“Mmm?” Yoongi asks, lifting his head, and Namjoon takes the opportunity. Before Yoongi can finish the phrase “No, no, Namjoon come on don’t be like this,” Namjoon gets his arms out of the sleeves. “Joon-ah,” Yoongi protests, but Namjoon doesn’t stop. He slips the sweater the rest of the way off and holds it out to Yoongi.

“Take it.”

“No.” Yoongi crosses his arms. Namjoon tries to tuck the sweater in the crook of Yoongi’s elbow. Yoongi uncrosses his arms and moves his hands behind his back. Namjoon catches the sweater before it can fall to the ground.

“You should,” Namjoon insists. “We said it would be your turn when it’s fixed. It’s fixed now.” Namjoon tries to fill his voice with every ounce of conviction he has. Yoongi responds well to sincerity.

He must do something right because instead of a flat refusal Yoongi gives him a searching look as warring expressions flicker across his face. It’s like the day they bought the sweater, Yoongi arguing with himself.

This time the outcome is different. Instead of an ultimatum he gets-

“Rock paper scissors?” It’s not the outcome Namjoon would have preferred (Yoongi listening to him is what he would have preferred) but given the circumstances it’s probably the best he’s going to get.

They agree on best three-out-of-five and extend their hands. Try as he might to lose, four rounds later Namjoon is declared the winner. He tries to get Yoongi to take the sweater anyways, arguing he’d had his turn with it before it was patched, but Yoongi turns him down with a smug smile.

“You won fair and square Namjoonie.” He’s very obviously pleased by this. To add insult to injury he reaches out and pinches Namjoon’s cheek, thumb resting in his dimple. “D’you need help putting it back on?”

“No,” Namjoon grumbles. It feels like he’s been tricked but he can’t figure out how. They’d played rock paper scissors for heaven’s sake! There was no way Yoongi was good enough at it to throw the games on purpose! Or… or was there? Over the years Yoongi has lost so many games. Namjoon can’t believe Yoongi, competitive Yoongi, would throw them all.

(Except that would be just like Yoongi, wouldn’t it. Everyone trying to be self-sacrificing, not willing to admit they really want something, and then Yoongi suggesting an ‘impartial’ way of making the decision. Everyone really really wanting something, and Yoongi knowing that they’d get more enjoyment out of it than he would, but having to play along anyways because the cameras were there. Yoongi was exactly the kind of person who would get really, really good at rock paper scissors just so he could throw games when he wanted to.)

The smile Namjoon sees the instant his head pops back out of the neck of the sweater all but confirms his theory. Yoongi looks too smug for someone who got what he wanted by complete accident. And yet Namjoon can’t find it in himself to begrudge Yoongi his happiness even if he did cheat, not when he’s smiling like that, big and bright, lit from within. It’s a good smile. It’s a nice smile. It’s a smile Namjoon would like to kiss.

Namjoon freezes to reconsider that thought. It’s a smile Namjoon would like to kiss. Namjoon would like to kiss that smile. Kissing that smile would probably be a really nice experience.

No matter how he phrases the thought no part of it rings false. It is a thought that is worth considering in greater detail, he thinks, but later. Possibly with a few lists, and maybe a diagram or two. He can’t keep considering it now though, because Yoongi is still there, still grinning, and commanding all Namjoon’s attention.

It’s clear from the way Yoongi’s smile grows instead of shrinking that he’s not done whatever his grand plan is. Namjoon isn’t about to deny him the opportunity to bask in his cleverness.

“Oh what’re you grinning about then?” he asks, pretending to be put out instead of reeling. He’s rewarded by Yoongi’s grin growing wider still, blooming into a full beaming smile.

“Joon-ah, it looks like you’ve had a hard day-possibly week. Want to talk about it?” Yoongi speaks slowly, enunciating the words very carefully.

Namjoon can’t quite figure out where this is going but can feel his pulse respond to Yoongi’s tone anyways. Not now, he tries to tell himself. Later. We’ll think about this later. “What?” He doesn’t have to feign his confusion.

Yoongi tsks. Namjoon raises one of his eyebrows and tilts his head to the side. Yoongi takes a deep, shuddering breath like he’s getting ready to bungee jump. He holds it for a few seconds, then steps into Namjoon’s space so they are chest to chest. Their faces are inches apart. When they breathe their breath mingles between them. Yoongi doesn’t break eye contact.

It is perhaps the longest instant of Namjoon’s life. He feels suspended in time. From here he would hardly have to lean down at all to kiss Yoongi’s forehead, would only have to stoop a little to kiss his-

The instant ends with Yoongi stepping forward and sliding his arms under Namjoon’s. Before Namjoon has caught up with the situation Yoongi folds his arms around Namjoon’s back and just like that they’re hugging.

“Oh,” says Namjoon, as Yoongi squeezes harder. “Oh,” says Namjoon again as Yoongi lets his head drop against Namjoon’s chest. The other shoe drops.

“Oh!” He can feel Yoongi’s quiet groan, hear just the faintest edge of it where’s it’s escaped the muffling effect of his chest and the sweater. “I’ve had a very hard week,” he agrees, in as somber a tone as he can manage while his whole being thrums in anticipation. “Very hard. This week. Lots of, stress? And things.”

Yoongi sighs against him. He might even laugh — Namjoon can’t be sure over the sudden noise of his heart pounding in his ears. He’s surprised Yoongi doesn’t comment on it too, given how close he is to Namjoon’s heart, and how incredibly loud it must be.

His body awash with a surge of adrenaline, Namjoon uses his extra height and weight to his advantage, toppling them both onto the overly large hotel bed. Yoongi makes a noise of protest but Namjoon, grinning now, talks over him. “It would help a lot if I could talk it over with a hyung. Feel cared for, you know.”

“Ach!” Yoongi manages to wiggle one of his hands around so he can dig a finger sharply in Namjoon’s side. “What kind of disrespectful behaviour is this throwing me on a bed! And was that sarcasm I heard? Did we raise you this way, to treat your hyungs with such irreverence?”

Namjoon squirms but doesn’t let go of Yoongi. There’s a warmth spreading from the point where Yoongi has dug his finger in. Fondness blooms dangerously in his chest. God, he really- not yet. “Have you met Seokjinnie-hyung?”

“Seokjin-hyung doesn’t count.” Yoongi might be grumbling but Namjoon notices him tuck himself in tighter against Namjoon’s chest, his hand slipping from where it had been digging into Namjoon’s ribs to rest between his shoulder blades instead. His touch is light, as have been all his touches, but no less distracting for it. Namjoon has difficulty focusing well enough to understand as Yoongi asks “Now are we going to nap or not?”

“A nap sounds really good,” Namjoon says. His voice sounds very off to his ears but he can’t be sure if that’s a problem with his voice or a problem with his ears. The torrent of blood pounding through them from earlier hasn’t slowed in the slightest.

It’s a testament to just how tired he is that Yoongi doesn’t comment on it, doesn’t tease him for it at all. He just pushes Namjoon until he’s lying on his back and tucks himself in to the dips and curves Namjoon’s body presents. By the time he’s done they are fit together so tightly they might as well be the same person.

They fall asleep like that, or at the very least Yoongi naps while Namjoon weighs the pros- and cons- of running his hands through Yoongi’s hair. The problem is that so much rides on the answer to the question how is hyung feeling today? And a true answer to that is hard to come by, given Yoongi’s fondness for feigned grumpiness if he thinks it will help lighten the mood.

He settles for tilting his head forward just a touch until the crown of Yoongi’s head is nestled right underneath Namjoon’s chin. It means he gets a nose full of mostly-hair every time he breathes wrong. Namjoon doesn’t mind too much. Yoongi smells nice, and comforting, and safe. It’s worth having his nose tickled every so often to get to keep smelling it.

It’s definitely not the smartest thing he’s done in his life. The longer he stays there, breathing in essence of Yoongi, with Yoongi half on top of him and as relaxed as he’s ever been, the harder it gets to pretend he hasn’t noticed the very big, possibly dangerous, definitely Yoongi shaped area in his heart. The word kissing??? floats around and through it, sometimes disappearing for as much as a minute before it whizzes by again.

How he hadn’t noticed before is a mystery. There’s nothing new about this feeling. It’s more like being given a pair of glasses with an updated prescription, things he thought he knew and recognized sliding in to focus. Of course trees have leaves! Of course lawns are made of grass! Of course he wants to kiss Min Yoongi on his smile, and possibly on his nose and forehead, and every one of his fingers, and-

Yoongi shifts in his sleep, snuffling into Namjoon’s chest. Namjoon derails his train of thought.

That’s as far as he should go, with Yoongi’s warm body half draped over him. It’s too confusing, too overwhelming, to sort through with Yoongi right there, providing inspiration without doing anything more than existing. Namjoon will come back to it later, when he’s got the room to himself again. That seems like the safest option. It’s a good thing he’s had all that practice lying in bed and thinking of nothing.

The room is a bit chilly, the way hotel rooms often are. Namjoon uses the arm Yoongi hasn’t claimed as a pillow to tug up the blanket as best he can and throw it over the both of them. Yoongi stirs a bit, but doesn’t do anything more than pull himself closer, hooking one of his knees over Namjoon’s leg. Namjoon swallows and stares at the ceiling.

Eventually he falls asleep.

When he wakes up, languid and slow, they haven’t pulled away from each other so much as an inch. Yoongi has somehow folded the blankets even more tightly around them. In a moment of weakness Namjoon gives in to the impulse to run his fingers through Yoongi’s hair. It’s barely a second before he wishes he hadn’t. The gentle touch is enough that Yoongi wakes up, stretches, and props himself up on his elbow.

Namjoon takes the opportunity to sit up straight and strip off the sweater, pulling down his t-shirt hurriedly when it rides up.

“It’s only fair,” he says with a straight face as he hands it over. Yoongi’s expression is obstinate. “It’s a nice sweater. It’s your turn. Let’s not get into any arguments about anything silly.”

“We haven’t argued about anything silly since we left the studio,” Yoongi protests. “That’s…” He pats his pockets, probably looking for his phone. He gives up. “That’s many hours ago!”

“It’s not my fault you kept stealing my pens to turn them into drum sticks.” Namjoon shrugs. “Now, are you going to put that on or not?”

Yoongi does. As soon as he has his arms through the sleeves Namjoon wraps him in a hug. “Oh get off me,” Yoongi says as his arms close around Namjoon’s waist again.

“Yes hyungnim,” Namjoon says. He tightens his hold just once before he lets go and stands. The clock on the bedside table ticks another minute forward. Namjoon sighs. “Now c’mon, get yourself unpacked. The call for the van is in forty minutes. Wouldn’t want us to be late.”

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Namjoon slips the patched sweater in the bottom of Yoongi’s day bag one day in November. Yoongi brings his day bag with them to the venue, brings it backstage. Namjoon can tell when Yoongi finds it by the quick, distinctive inhale of surprise. He’s not entirely surprised when, a few minutes later, he feels an ice-cold hand on the back of his neck.

He startles, but doesn’t look up from his his review of their practice video. They’d filmed it the day before and Namjoon can see the exhaustion in his limbs even as he can admire his timing. For once it wasn’t terrible, and he even managed to do a body roll with something approaching grace.

For an entire loop of the video Yoongi doesn’t say anything, just stands there, his hand on the back of Namjoon’s neck. Namjoon has his headphones in but the volume is just barely loud enough to hear over the bustle of their change room.

Yoongi’s hand is almost warm before he pats Namjoon’s neck twice wanders away.

Namjoon takes a deep breath. They can do this.

The bag shows up in the wings, somehow. Namjoon sees it tucked under the stage manager’s podium as they run off after their performance, the screams of their fans echoing in his ears.

They win the daesang.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

The next time Namjoon unpacks a sweater he does not remember packing it isn’t just the elbow that’s patched. The cuffs, previously frayed to the point where they couldn’t really be considered one solid piece of material anymore so much as two, are new, of the same bright blue material as is patched in at the elbow. Yoongi doesn’t say anything, so Namjoon doesn’t either, just nods grimly to himself and resolves that the next time he’ll be the one doing the patch-and-surprise-delivery job.

Only there’s nothing to patch for weeks. He spills some ramen on it once but that’s his own fault and is easily fixed by washing it. He forgets a paper with some scribbled song lyrics in the pocket, again his own fault and easily remedied. It feels almost like a waste when he’s successful at sneaking the sweater into Yoongi’s suitcase for the first time in months without having been able to make any noticeable improvements. It feels even more so when he wins twice more.

He’s at the point of considering taking a pair of scissors to the other sleeve just so that he’ll have something, anything, to work with, when he unpacks his bag to find Yoongi had the idea first. There’s an elbow patch on the right, to match the one on the left, and a note in the pocket.

You getting cocky, mister three-times-in-a-row?

He doesn’t manage another victory for six months.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

By the time summer rolls around Namjoon hits on what he thinks is a foolproof strategy for victory. He waits until the bags are loaded in the vans on their way to the airport and everyone is buckled in to notice that he “forgot” his wallet. His wallet really isn’t in his carry-on bag, he made sure of that while he was packing, so he’s given permission to duck out and around to search through his suitcase to find it.

Out of sight of everyone else it’s easy to open Yoongi’s bag and shove the sweater haphazardly inside. He then closes things up and opens his own bag, pulling his wallet out from where he “accidentally” packed it. Mission accomplished, he settles into his seat in the van. The trip is almost fun, knowing he has a victory coming to him at the other side.

It’s all the more painful when, as he’s unpacking his carry-on bag at the hotel later, he reaches the bottom and his fingers hit something soft. He knows what it is going to be before he pulls it out. In his carry-on!

Sitting on his bed cursing Yoongi doesn’t make him feel much better. When he’s run out of different ways to combine his expletives he flops back on the bed and starts to plan. Yoongi is probably already curled up on his bed and asleep, dreaming sweet dreams about how he pulled one over on Namjoon yet again. He probably didn’t even bother unpacking.

Namjoon pauses on that thought. He’s not above cheating, just a little.

He calls in reinforcements, in the form of Hoseok and his persuasive face. It costs Namjoon a months’ worth of bubble tea dates, on him, and a pledge of undying love and loyalty before Hoseok will even entertain the idea (“You want me to help you get into Yoongi’s hotel room and you won’t even tell me why? Namjoonie, this is a risky operation. Of course it’s going to cost you.”) but once he’s on board things go off without a hitch. When given the choice Yoongi will always stay in his room… unless there’s a trip to an electronics store involved.

Namjoon waits by the door until he hears them leave to spring into action. As Hoseok’s complaints about having forgotten his headphones and Yoongi’s tired but enthusiastic appraisal of the brands available at the nearby store fade in the distance Namjoon cracks open his door and peers down the hall. It’s empty, except the cleaner at the end. Perfect.

He’s in and out in under a minute, this time expending the extra effort to lift the still neatly folded, not unpacked clothing so the sweater would go at the very bottom. He hands the managers back the key, meeting their still-suspicious looks with an innocent expression, and escapes back to his room.

He gives himself a full minute to lean against the door and giggle helplessly before he goes back to unpacking.

It’s Taehyung’s fault they all end up in Yoongi’s room later. He shows up at their door clad in pyjamas and carrying a massive bag of takeout in each hand. “Dinner in Yoongi-hyung’s room!” he announces with his massive grin as Jimin peers around his shoulder hopefully. Namjoon and Hoseok, already dressed in their pyjamas and ready for a quiet night in, find it impossible to say no.

“Did you ask first?” Hoseok asks as he shrugs on a house coat, but he’s asking the back of Taehyung’s head. Taehyung ignores the question. He’s already crossed the hall to the room Jungkook and Seokjin are sharing, repeating the performance.

When it’s Yoongi’s turn he opens his door just wide enough they can see his eye. “No,” he says firmly, as Taehyung and Jungkook start leaning heavily on the door. “No, no, c’mon guys! Can’t we just eat in our own rooms?”

“You’re the one with the suite,” Taehyung says. “You’re the host.”

Yoongi, grumbling, lets them in. He’s dressed for bed too, in an oversized white t-shirt and the same black and red checked pyjama pants he’s had since they were trainees. They look loose on his frame, the way they get when he’s been spending too many nights in the studio and not enough nights eating food. His eyes are tired enough he’s wearing his glasses and still squinting. Namjoon’s eyes twinge in sympathy.

They unpack the dinner, Jimin gleefully opening the wine and pouring them glasses with a heavy hand. Yoongi sits tucked in the corner of one of the couches. “My room,” he declares sullenly. “My turn to be the supervisor.”

They eat. Jimin keeps offering to refill everyone’s glass, and before long Namjoon has reached the level of inebriation he classifies as pleasantly buzzed. It’s a nice feeling, being full and comfortable and a bit bubbly. It’s almost enough to make him less aware of Yoongi, sitting with Seokjin on the other couch, and the lazy, comfortable way he’s holding his wine glass in his long fingers, how he sometimes has to push his glasses up as they fall down his nose.

Jungkook is halfway through recounting his, Jimin, and Taehyung’s adventures from earlier that day (getting lost and nearly missing their flight) when Seokjin prods Yoongi in the side. Namjoon has been trying to ignore Seokjin too, and the way he’s sprawled on the couch with his head on Yoong’s thigh. His eyes are bright and flushed from the wine, and he looks blissfully happy. Namjoon doesn’t blame him.

Yoongi ignores the prodding. Seokjin prods again, and then asks “Are you shivering?”, interrupting Jungkook’s enthusiastic description of their attempts to run back along a moving sidewalk when it became clear they were going the wrong way.

“No.” Yoongi shivers visibly. “No I’m not.”

“Awww, you definitely are,” Seokjin says in his most annoying hyung voice. “Do you want us to cuddle you? And warm you up?”

“No.”

“I’m cold too,” Hoseok whines. “C’mon, you’d be doing us a favour!”

“What is it with hotels and their inability to have reasonable climate control?” Jimin asks, frowning first at his glass of wine as though it might know the answers.

“Hotels don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘moderation’ when it comes to air-conditioning,” Namjoon says, using his best wise elder voice. He looks at the walls, to see if he can find the thermostat. In theory keeping his mind otherwise occupied will help him not imagine cuddling Yoongi to keep him warm. In theory.

“Whoever finds the thermostat gets the last of the chicken,” Seokjin decrees.

Food as a motivator and naturally competitive natures sees everyone on their feet at once. Well, everyone except Yoongi, who curls tighter into a ball, and Namjoon, buzzed enough that he’s more focused on trying to figure out if there’s a non-obvious way he can suggest to Yoongi that if he changes his mind re: cuddling he, Namjoon, would be happy to help.

“They probably didn’t add one because it would ruin the lines of their design,” Hoseok says in disgusts after several minutes of fruitless searching. He pulls his head out from behind the couch. “I guess we bundle up then?”

“There’s always those extra blankets in the closet,” Taehyung suggests.

“And the housecoat,” Hoseok adds, heading for the bathroom.

“Ah!” Yoongi says, suddenly brightening. Namjoon has an inkling of where this is going. “Kim Namjoon, fetch me my sweater!”

He loves being right.

“Yes hyung,” he says, bowing, and then he walks straight to Yoongi’s bedroom.

“Wait, what?” Namjoon can hear Yoongi scramble to his feet as Namjoon walks through the bedroom door. “No, Joon-ah, didn’t you find it? In your bag? Your carry-on?”

Yoongi’s bag is right where Namjoon saw it last, set up on the dresser, the top closed. He crosses to it and flips it open while Yoongi says, “But I took it out!” Namjoon fights to keep a straight face as he carefully lifts out a first layer of clothing, then a second. “I took it out, before they checked our bags, what are you-”

Yoongi breaks off as Namjoon pulls the sweater out with a flourish. His eyes and mouth both go round. Namjoon wants to crow with delight.

“What?” Yoongi stares at the sweater, and then at Namjoon, and then back at the sweater. Namjoon thinks his lungs might explode from the pressure of holding in his laughter. Yoongi is flustered and pink and dumbfounded and Namjoon loves him. “When?”

Hoseok gives the game away by laughing. Yoongi’s expression goes from dumbfounded to icy with clarity in a heartbeat. “Hoseok-ah,” he says as he spins on his heel, in something as close to a shout as Namjoon has ever heard from him, “Seok-ah, I was kind to you, I helped you pick out headphones, I didn’t make you speak to anyone, and this is how you repay me?”

Hoseok is already sprinting out of the bedroom, showing he has brains as well as good looks. Yoongi follows. “But hyung!” Namjoon says trailing behind them, holding out the sweater like an offering, “Hyung, didn’t you say you were cold?”

Hoseok slips behind Seokjin and Jungkook, holding them in place by their waists so they create a living wall. Faced with several very tall, very strong people, Yoongi thinks better of a full frontal assault. He trundles indignantly back into the bedroom, past Namjoon, very carefully looks neither at him nor the outstretched sweater. He stops by the bed starts peeling the duvet off. Namjoon’s heart swells with fondness.

“Hyung,” he tries again, but Yoongi interrupts him.

“You won fair and square, Kim Namjoon. Put it on.”

“Excuse me,” Namjoon says, spluttering as Yoongi finishes peeling the duvet back and picks it up on its corners. “I believe it ended up in your bag, which means you should be wearing it.”

With no small amount of effort Yoongi swirls the duvet dramatically around his shoulders, probably in an attempt to emphasize his point that he has alternate methods of keeping warm. Or he tries to. It might even have worked, if only the duvet were smaller, or lighter, or less thick. Instead of his dramatic gesture he ends up half swaddled, the duvet settled properly around his shoulders but twisting tight around his knees. He kicks at it ineffectually, succeeding only in wobbling in the spot and nearly toppling over as he loses his balance.

“I’m fine,” he huffs in the face of Namjoon’s concerned noises as he rights himself. He pushes his glasses back up his nose. “You can see for yourself.”

It’s true, and so Namjoon doesn’t bother to hide his laughter as Yoongi waddles indignantly back out into the living area. The duvet trails him like a cape.

“C’mon hyung, don’t be a sore loser!” Namjoon is careful not to step on the duvet as they return to the couch. Jungkook has the bathrobe on over his pyjamas. Seokjin is squashed between Jimin and Taehyung under a blanket.

“I’m never a sore loser,” Yoongi sniffs.

There’s general, and perfectly justified, outcry at this. Yoongi ignores it, climbing with difficulty onto the couch. He arranges his duvet cape around him carefully for maximum warmth. It ends up looking like he’s sitting in a cloud while the cloud tries to envelop him in a hug. Hoseok shuffles over to stick his legs under one of the corners. Namjoon wishes he had his phone. It would make for one hell of a birthday picture.

“-weight of history behind me,” Namjoon finishes his argument, tossing the sweater at Yoongi. Yoongi catches it and throws it right back.

“Why do they always fight over this sweater?” Seokjin asks the thin air. “It’s big enough they could both fit in at the same time, and it would keep the rest of us from having to subject our ears to their horrible attempts at flirting.”

Namjoon hasn’t had enough alcohol to completely account for the speed with which his cheeks heat. The others are laughing loudly, in that loose, unselfconscious way they get when they’ve been drinking, except Yoongi, who is staring at his hands twisting together in his lap. The tips of his ears are pink, matching the flush high on his cheeks. His wine glass is empty. The flush could e the alcohol, not the suggestion of flirting.

The idle thought I wonder what it would taste like, crosses Namjoon’s mind. It does not help Namjoon’s blush situation in the slightest.

“I bet they could too!” Jimin says as he gets himself back under enough control to form coherent words. “Yoongi-hyung is small enough he’d probably slide right in, no fuss.”

“Easy as pie,” Jungkook laughs.

“C’mon hyung, prove me right,” Jimin whines, “Just give it a try? Please?”

Namjoon glances at Yoongi again, then does a double-take. Yoongi is already looking back, something considering and maybe a hint mischievous in his gaze. It’s an expression that rarely shows up in the wild, but when it does whatever happens next is always a good time.

We definitely could Yoongi’s raised eyebrow and cocked head says. If you’re up for it.

A completely sober Namjoon might not have had the same reaction. Namjoon is glad he’s not completely sober. If I’m up for it! he tries to express with both his eyebrows up, opening his eyes wide. You’re the one I would expect to need convincing!

Yoongi smirks. I’m full of surprises.

“Like hell I’m doing it just to satisfy your curiosity,” Yoongi announces. There’s just enough frost in his tone for it to sound like a normal complaint. He’s a master manipulator though - there’s also the barest hint of undertone that says but I could be convinced… For a price.

Namjoon has to bite back his laugh.

Seokjin grins like a shark who has just scented blood in the water and takes the bait. Namjoon would be terrified at the hand fate might play him if he didn’t know that Yoongi already had control of the situation. Watching Seokjin and Yoongi out-manoeuvre each other is a sight to behold. He wishes he had popcorn.

It takes three minutes of careful back and forth before Hoseok, definitely tipsy, says “Wah, he’s just stringing you along! When he gets his heels dug in good luck!”

“There has to be something!” Taehyung giggles, “He isn’t a rock yet!”

“You are talking about bribery,” Seokjin hiccups. “You suggest we bribe them?”

“The production team bribe Yoongi all the time,” Jungkook says slyly. Jimin and Taehyung nod their heads eagerly, while Hoseok gives him a solid shoulder grab and says something like that’s the spirit!

The ideas fly fast and furious. Some are reasonable (“I won’t ask you to pose for any pictures all week!”) some far-fetched (“A trip to the moon!”) but all dutifully written down on one of the pads of paper found in every hotel room no matter how many stars it boasts. When there’s a pause in the ideas Yoongi imperiously holds his hand out and Taehyung, bowing, passes it over.

Yoongi makes ticks beside several, Namjoon leaning over to keep track. The final tally comes in at birthday picture veto (“Not amnesty,” Hoseok amends, “Because the fans look forward to it.”) no dishes for the full vacation, first choice of room the next time they go somewhere the producers actually let them pick, and Jungkook ordering them all room service dessert right then and there on his dime. That had been Taehyung’s suggestion, quickly seconded by the others. Jungkook agreed that it could get written down but he’d been laughing while he did it. On the page it is sandwiched between A hundred Yoongi standees and Three pairs of balenciaga shoes.

“For this list we will entertain the idea of seeing if we can both fit,” Yoongi says, flipping it around and passing it back to Taehyung.

“Wait, what?” says Seokjin. “Really?”

“Jungkook is going to buy us all room service dessert,” Yoongi says seriously. “Yes, really.”

Jungkook’s squawk of surprise is drowned out by overlapping please Kook-ah and it will be worth it and I will buy you ten desserts when we get home!

Namjoon can hardly believe it’s happening, but Jungkook caves eventually. By the time Taehyung is drafting up the agreement for them all to sign Namjoon gives up on pretending not to laugh and keeps giggling into his hand.

“Now-” says Jimin, rounding on them with a smile.

“Ah, ah.” Yoongi holds up his hand. “Not until the order is placed. Gotta see the whites of their eyes before pulling the trigger.”

Jungkook places their order for dessert. Jimin rounds on them again, his smile honed.

Namjoon had slipped the sweater on shortly after they started their discussion (the room really is cold enough, and Yoongi was already wearing a duvet so it wasn’t like he needed it) so there isn’t really anything to do but… do it. Alright then.

He stands, holding out his hand. Yoongi takes it and lets himself be pulled out of his blanket cocoon. All the air seems to disappear from the room as the five onlookers draw their collective breath. Namjoon feels drunk again, but it’s definitely not the alcohol. Yoongi is looking up at him, his dark eyes warm and fond and mirthful behind the slightly dirty lenses of his glasses. Namjoon thinks he could stare into them forever.

He can’t, of course. There are other things he has to do. But he could.

“So,” he says, unable to look away. “I guess we just?”

“Sounds about right.” Yoongi doesn’t break eye contact as he steps closer and takes off his glasses. “Um. Back to chest? I guess?”

“Yeah. Yeah, that’s fine.” He pulls the sweater out from his legs a bit, so Yoongi will have space to shimmy in. He stares at the blue patch on the pocket he can see, and the blue cuffs, and his hands, holding on to the hem.

That’s when it hits him. This is happening. This is really happening. He and Yoongi will be sharing the sweater, literally sharing the sweater, pressed tight and close together. They’ve cuddled before, napped together, but that’s different. This time they have an audience, waiting with bated breath to see what they will do next.

Yoongi seems to realize it too. He hesitates for a split second as his eyes flick from Namjoon’s left to his right and back, giving him a last chance to back out. Okay?

Something warm and thick and syrup sweet slides through Namjoon. It’s Yoongi all over, this triple checking. Yoongi would back out, if Namjoon asked. He’d make up some excuse, pull that face he pulls when he’s pretending to be uncomfortable due to displays of affection or close personal contact and make that distinctly Yoongi noise, half laugh half scream, and Namjoon would be off the hook.

Namjoon is not going to back out.

“You waiting for an invitation?” he asks, “Because I’m sure there’s more paper on that pad, Taehyung could draft you up something.”

Yoongi’s eyes crinkles at the edges and his nose wrinkles up as he snorts. The he turns and drops fluidly into a crouch. Namjoon forgets how to breathe.

It takes a bit of wriggling but Yoongi gets his back against Namjoon’s legs and tucks his head down and back so it’s under the sweater, resting against Namjoon’s thighs. It’s mostly bearable. Then he starts to shimmy. That’s… not.

Only by exercising every ounce of will and stage presence he’s developed in his life is Namjoon able to hold himself perfectly still. He keeps set in the most neutral, unaffected expression he can manage. He can’t control the goosebumps however, rolling in waves over his body and prickling all down his spine. He hopes no one looks too closely at his legs, easily visible given the pajama shorts he’s wearing. He’s sure every hair is standing straight out.

Relative to how everyone else perceives time as humanity has defined it the process of Yoongi standing up probably only takes seconds. Relative to Namjoon’s entire existence it seems to last eons. He focuses on one of the “abstract” pieces of art on the wall across from him so he can be sure to avoid accidentally seeing anyone’s expression.

“Help with the neck?” Yoongi’s voice is muffled. His hands reach back to grab at Namjoon’s hips to steady himself, the edge of his glasses poking just uncomfortably enough Namjoon knows it isn’t a dream.

“Hm? Oh!” Namjoon takes his hands off the hem of the sweater and reaches for the neck instead, shifting his weight as he does so. It makes Yoongi’s fingers tighten. Namjoon is torn between doing it again and never moving.

There’s just enough space for Yoongi to squeeze his head through. The final fit is a bit tight around the shoulders but not unbearably so. Unthinkingly Namjoon brings his arms up to wrap around Yoongi’s waist. They are so close together Namjoon can feel as well as hear the hitch in Yoongi’s breath. Yoongi’s cheek is soft against Namjoon’s jaw, the line of contact enough to set something kindling in Namjoon’s stomach. He wrenches his thoughts away from exploring that feeling more deeply, and then away further when they accidentally end up back in that fond Yoongi-shaped place Namjoon tries not to think about too much, especially in polite company.

“Pretty comfy, eh Joon-ah?” Yoongi asks, wriggling his shoulders a little. Namjoon doesn’t die, but it’s a near thing.

“Very.” His voice sounds strained to his ears. He prays no one will comment on it. He’s so wrapped up in definitely not thinking about how it felt to have Yoongi wriggling against him that he doesn’t notice what his mouth is doing until it’s already said, “Could stay like this all night.”

Five pairs of eyes round on him, on them, their voices a chorus of oh yeah?s and I’ll believe that when I see it. Yoongi doesn’t flinch but he does shiver. Namjoon keeps his arms where they are. It feels like the natural thing to do. He sees no reason to do anything else.

“What’d’ya think?” Namjoon asks quietly. His mouth is so close to Yoongi’s ear he doesn’t have to raise his voice to be heard over the others. Yoongi shivers again but nods. It’s small, but at Namjoon’s distance impossible to miss.

Namjoon grins. “Right then. Follow my lead.”

They’re still in front of the couch, beside Yoongi’s discarded duvet. Namjoon shuffles backwards, towing Yoongi with him. When he feels his knees hit the couch he grabs Yoongi more firmly and flops them back in a parody of a trust fall. The couch is deep enough he doesn’t hit his head on the wall, but he does end up with an elbow to his ribs and a lap full of rather bony Yoongi for his troubles. The stunned looks on the faces of their band-members is worth it.

Their faces stay stunned as Namjoon and Yoongi rearrange themselves just a little so Yoongi is sitting more between Namjoon’s legs than on them, bracketed by his knees. “Comfy?” he asks as Yoongi snuggles closer.

“I think I might be sick?” Jungkook says, aghast.

Jimin laughs. Namjoon notices that his phone is out for the first time. That’s a problem for future Namjoon to deal with. Present Namjoon doesn’t have much space to worry about much of anything really, not with Yoongi sighing and tilting his head back so it rests on Namjoon’s shoulder. The fire that had been localized to Namjoon’s jaw spreads to cover the whole side of his face.

“Comfy,” Yoongi agrees. “Although I’m worried we’re stretching out the neck.”

“Looks fine from here,” Seokjin says, a wicked grin on his face. The grin is entirely too self satisfied for the situation. Namjoon spends a few brief but horrifying seconds wondering if Yoongi had outwitted Seokjin earlier. “You guys will be good until we turn in, right?”

“Yes,” says Yoongi confidently. His arms are still trapped by the body of the sweater but he manages to shift his empty hand until he can place it on Namjoon’s thigh, just above his knee, and squeeze.

“Yes,” Namjoon agrees breathlessly. How Yoongi’s hand, cold as usual, can make Namjoon feel so hot is to be one of the wonders of the world. The feeling coalesces into a dangerous warmth that spreads up along his leg, pooling in his stomach. He thinks about rain, and blizzards in winter, and jumping into the cold cold ocean. He’d rather not have things take a turn for the more embarrassing than they are already.

“I can’t believe this,” Taehyung whispers reverently. He’s draped over Jimin’s shoulder, watching them through the phone screen.

“Oh god,” groans Hoseok, taking a drink.

“Glasses?” Yoongi asks, tapping Namjoon’s leg with them. Namjoon takes them automatically, and eventually manages to get them on Yoongi’s face without poking out anyone’s eyes. Considering how much his hands are shaking it’s a minor miracle.

“Thanks,” Yoongi says, patting his knee.

The room phone rings, startling everyone out of whatever trance they’d found themselves in. Namjoon can’t find it in him to be anything but elated. Yoongi’s casual knee pat had made the furnace in his stomach all the hotter and Namjoon is finding it surprisingly hard to keep calm even with the audience. In the scramble to answer the phone and argue over the clarification the kitchen has called to ask about (“What kind of hotel doesn’t have cheesecake in stock when it’s listed on their menu?” “The kind that has a poor ability to keep stock of their supplies please just pick something else you’re holding the rest of us up!” “But I wanted the cheesecake!”) he gets the chance to recover some of his composure.

Not much, but some.

“You sure you’re okay?” Yoongi asks under the cover of the argument. “I don’t… I mean, if you-.”

“I’m fine,” Namjoon cuts him off. He might be feeling lightheaded and trying desperately to think of anything, anything, except for how well they fit together on the couch and how Yoongi’s hair tickles the side of his neck, but he’s fine. That’s the definition of fine, right?

He doesn’t even think about trying not to think about the hand on his leg. He’s worried he might combust if he lets his mind get anywhere near it.

“Oh good,” Yoongi says, relaxing further. “Not ready to move. You’re much warmer than the duvet.”

Namjoon catches Seokjin’s eye. Seokjin winks.

By the time the dessert shows up Namjoon feels less like he’s about to become a pile of ash at any second. He’s wrung out though — there is only so much feeling he is equipped to do in an evening and he’d used it all in the first fifteen minutes of this adventure on blushing and deep breathing every time Yoongi so much as twitched. When Yoongi, his arms still trapped fairly uselessly at his side by the sweater, taps Namjoon’s leg and says, imperiously, “Feed me,” Namjoon’s stomach can barely muster a half-energy flip.

They end up sharing their desserts. Namjoon balances the chocolate mousse on Yoongi’s leg and the creme brulee on his own. He alternates bites from either, feeding Yoongi first and then himself. There’s a minimal amount of snickering from the peanut gallery. Everyone seems more interested in their own desserts.

The evening wears on and it becomes somehow normal that Namjoon and Yoongi are sharing a sweater as well as a couch. Namjoon starts to wonder when Yoongi is going to say they’ve carried the joke far enough, that he’d like to have the use of his arms back, but he seems to be enjoying being able to rub his nose on Namjoon’s cheek and say but my nose is itchy as his excuse. He’s also drawing patterns just above Namjoon’s left knee with his fingers, but Namjoon can’t tell if it’s on purpose. He doesn’t think he wants to know.

Eventually Yoongi shifts a bit to draw his feet closer, complaining that the air is still cold. Namjoon snags the discarded duvet and drapes it over their feet. The others, in some convoluted argument about whether a tiger or shark would win in a fight, don’t even bat an eyelash.

Seokjin is the first one to call it a night. “Beauty sleeps are the trick to getting even more handsome,” he says as he stretches. “You should try it sometime, Jungkook-ah.”

Jungkook squawks and argues for a few more minutes but it’s the beginning of the end for their evening. Taehyung and Jimin disappear close on Seokjin’s heels before Namjoon, warm and comfortable and half-asleep as it is, rouses himself enough to remember he probably shouldn’t stay there all night. His bladder agrees with him.

“I should,” he starts.

“Oh, right,” Yoongi says before he can even finish the sentence. “Yeah. Um. I guess we just stand up?”

They can’t just stand up but not for lack of trying. There’s something about balancing two centres of mass with four legs and arms that’s incredibly hard.

It’s funny too, if the way Hoseok and Jungkook are laughing is any indication. “Do you think you could possibly lend a hand, instead of laughing your asses off?” Yoongi gripes as he wriggles, full on wriggles, in a way that makes Namjoon’s internal organs go very hot and then very cold.

“But this is too funny.” It’s hard to understand Hoseok, he’s laughing so hard. He brings his phone down from in front of his face and taps it a few times. Namjoon’s phone pings.

“Oh dear god,” Namjoon says, letting his head flop back against the couch.

Jungkook takes pity on him, moving him firmly into the position of Namjoon’s favourite (not counting Yoongi) as he grips Namjoon’s sweater-encased wrists, and pulls.

“Ah yah yah yah!” Namjoon yelps, more because he can hear several threads going snap as they get hauled upright than because he’s in any real discomfort. It gets Hoseok to hurriedly drop his phone and come over to help at least, supporting Namjoon’s back so they can do a complicated dance to lever the Namjoon-and-Yoongi burrito off the couch.

It takes the four of them another two minutes and three false starts to get the sweater off. By the end of it Namjoon has gone back to feeling flushed along his entire body. At least he isn’t the only one. Yoongi is practically glowing he’s blushing so hard, rubbing fitfully at the back of his neck. The sweater hangs limp in his hand as he holds it out to Namjoon.

“Ah ah ah,” Namjoon says again, this time with a very different tone, “I won, fair and square. You’re keeping it for the night.”

He doesn’t catch Yoongi putting it in his bag the next day but he didn’t expect to. There’s a new line of blue thread running along the front side seam of the arm, and a note tucked in the pocket.

had to reinforce it or it would’ve got worse. make sure you thank your hyung :)

Namjoon stares down at the smiling face for a full minute before he goes to find his notebook. The pocket at the back is definitely overflowing. He has to pull a few noted out to make sure he can get this one slipped in without getting creased. The oldest notes have their corners rounded down from sharp points to softer semi-circles from the number of times Namjoon has handled them, rubbing the cheap paper between his thumb and forefinger while he thinks.

“Oh stop that,” Hoseok says, just as a pillow hits Namjoon’s head. “You’re borrowing trouble before it’s even thought about getting out of bed!”

Namjoon hurriedly puts the notes away. “W-what trouble do you think I’m borrowing?” he asks as he snaps the notebook shut.

“Damned if I know,” Hoseok says, grabbing a second pillow. This time he just whacks Namjoon on the head, no throwing involved. “But stop it.”

“Are you trying to make me stop worrying by hitting the hypothetical worry over out of my head with a pillow?” Namjoon asks, torn between bemusement and annoyance.

“Yes,” Hoseok answers promptly. “You’re wearing your overthinking face, and you only wear that when you’re overthinking.”

“Hence the name.”

Hoseok ignores him. “Whatever it is you’re overthinking I can guarantee you it isn’t worth it. Now hurry up, I want to go shopping before we have to get ready for supper.” He emphasizes his sentence with another swipe at Namjoon’s head.

“Yeah yeah, alright, I’m coming,” Namjoon says. He heaves himself to his feet and shuffles to his dresser to find something presentable. He will never live up to Hoseok’s sense of fashion but at the very least he can avoid looking like a slob.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

One thing Namjoon never expects to have happen is to return home and open his bag to find that the sweater, which he remembers packing in his own bag for once, isn’t there. He dumps out his carry-on so the contents spill across his bed, methodically shakes them out and drops them one at a time onto his floor. The sweater really isn’t there.

Ignoring the mess on his floor he lies on his bed, sinks into the pillows, and mentally retraces their trip. They’d had thirteen hours of flights, complete with a layover. During the layover he’d pulled the sweater out and put it on, only then they’d started goofing around, and he’d gotten too hot and taken it off and- set it down near his bag.

Just to be sure he checks his suitcases, also yellow-sweater free, and Yoongi’s closet. He calls the airport to see if there was anything turned in at the lost and found and spends a frustrating five minutes just trying to get through to the lost and found. It feels like they’re playing a child’s game of catch with his call, bouncing him from person to person until he finally gets someone on the phone who says they have yellow sweaters but none with hoods and definitely not any with blue patches.

Plan A) locate the sweater is a complete failure.

He doesn’t have a Plan B) yet.

It was just a thing, he reasons, and you lose things all the time. Soon this will be another item in a long list, and he’ll be able to mostly forget about it, except… except that he should really tell Yoongi. Yoongi wears it as often as Namjoon does after all, treats it almost like it’s his own. Yoongi would want to know it’s missing. Namjoon wants Yoongi to know, wants to be open and honest about the fact he lost their sweater, and it’s better if Yoongi find out from him directly.

So that’s Plan B) then, come clean to Yoongi and hope he isn’t too annoyed, except there are a few problems. The first is that Namjoon has no idea what to say. Usually words don’t give him a problem, they come to him when bidden, but in this case they’ve abandoned him entirely. He wants to come clean to Yoongi. He wants to be able to do it without pantomiming his confession.

The second problem is that Yoongi seems to be avoiding him. Not actively, not get-up-to-leave-the-room-when-Namjoon-comes-in. They talk at the dinner table, and sometimes end up beside each other in the van, and support each other through pre-broadcast filming. It feels mostly normal, except there is a lot less eye contact, smiles that feel practiced, not real, and no point where it’s just the two of them in a room.

It might be in Namjoon’s head, or it might be a bi-product of the stress of promotions, or it might be a lot of things. If Namjoon had the sweater he would have already handed it to Yoongi, at least able to say I’m here if you want to talk without anyone being able to overhear, or putting Yoongi on the spot, or having to resort to texting.

He texts anyways, just in case, typing the message out in the wee hours of the morning when the dorm is quiet and everyone should, by rights, be asleep. He doesn’t get a response. He didn’t expect one.

It takes a full week of sleepless nights, untenable during promotions, before Namjoon decides it’s time for a Plan C. More than the sweater itself he misses what it gave him — an easy excuse for casual familiarity. When wearing it he never had to think twice about getting a hug, or slinging his arm around Yoongi’s shoulder, or ruffling Yoongi’s hair. He has to find some way to get that back.

He misses the naps. God but he misses the naps.

He pulls out his notebook and starts sketching out Plan C). Plan C), he decides, is to get a replacement sweater and use that as the ice breaker for a full confession and hopeful a return to normal. This is his fault and he’s going to fix it for once, instead of having Yoongi swoop in to help.

The biggest flaw in his plan turns out to be step one: find a replacement sweater. He tries online shopping first, figuring that it’s the easiest way to see a lot of sweaters without having to do a lot of walking. He orders six options with one-day shipping. They’re all wrong, somehow. Wrong colour, not thick enough, not soft enough, not big enough, wrong, so he returns them and resolves to try again.

It’s hard to find three hours in a row to sleep let along shop during promotions, especially ones this successful, but he manages it. His plans are foiled by Hoseok, who catches him on his way out the door. He can’t think of a lie fast enough so he answers honestly. Hoseok needs the break too, as it turns out. Hoseok invites himself along.

Hoseok is very good at shopping. He has an eye for interesting and unique pieces that compliment his style, and an unerring seventh sense for sales. He is also very easily distracted. “Look, Namjoon-ah,” he says as he runs between displays. “Look at this bag!” “Look at these glasses!” “Look at this shirt!”

“Very nice, Seok-ah,” Namjoon says, laughing more and more as their trip stretches on. It’s fun, shopping with Hoseok, and it’s very productive. By the end of Hoseok’s hands bristle with bags from what feels like every store in the mall and Namjoon isn’t much better. He never can quite bring himself to look at yellow sweaters though, not when Hoseok would probably start asking questions.

It’s a full week before he can find the free time to try again, a week full of Yoongi looking a little bit sideways, of sidestepping him. It’s been thirty eight days since the last time Yoongi gave Namjoon a hug when there isn’t a camera pointed in their direction, not that Namjoon is counting. He hates the way that he melts on the rare occasion they do happen. He can’t quite bring himself to stop.

He sets out on a Sunday morning, early, but Jungkook is apparently lying in wait for him in the kitchen. Jungkook drops the spoon he was using in his cereal bowl and hastens around the table to catch up with Namjoon. “There’s some new camera equipment I’ve been looking at,” Jungkook says, “And a new pair of shoes?” He looks up at Namjoon with his dark, round, hopeful eyes. There’s no way Namjoon can say no.

Jungkook is a far more focused shopper than Hoseok. After he makes his purchases he turns to Namjoon and asks “What were you looking for anyways, hyung?”

“A new sweater.” Namjoon can’t quite keep his tone from slipping into morose. He’s been looking though the online catalogues of the stores here as Jungkook talked about things “aperture” and “frame rate” and “dynamic ranges”. None of the stores seem to have anything that looks close to what he’s looking for. It’s not really surprising (he did check before he left the dorm) but some small part of him had held out hope something might have changed in the intervening time.

He has half a mind to revisit the thrift store. Lightning has been known to strike the same person more than once. He won’t know if he’s full of sweater-attracting stuff until he tries! Jungkook is looking at him funny though, with an amount of sympathy in his large brown eyes that makes Namjoon want to duck behind one of the fake planters just to get away.

“A new sweater,” Jungkook repeats. Namjoon can see Jungkook piecing things together for himself, see the instant things click in Jungkook’s head. He braces himself for the teasing that should follow. He’s thrown off balance when instead Jungkook doesn’t mention it at all, just says “Oh hyung.” His voice is soft, and infinitely worse than anything else in Namjoon’s life to this point. Namjoon looks down. Jungkook grabs his wrist and leads him into the first store.

Jungkook shops for clothing with the same methodical eye to detail that he does everything else. Whereas Hoseok likes to browse and follow his heart to the pieces that call to him, Jungkook brings forward every overly large hooded sweatshirt in the stores. He doesn’t limit himself to yellow ones either, even though Namjoon knows Jungkook knows what he’s looking for.

We raised him well, he thinks, as he follows Jungkook into the fifth store. Jungkook makes a beeline for one of the clerks. Namjoon catches up in time to overhear him asking if they have the sweater he’s holding, already picked off the rack, in a larger size. He’s kindness personified.

“They’re checking in the back,” Jungkook says as he winds back through the racks to where Namjoon is hovering. “Should know in a few minutes.”

Namjoon notices a few people toward the front of the store turn to look at them, whispering among themselves. They have hats and masks on but its always only a matter of time until they’re recognized. He hopes the staff hurry.

Of course the sweater Jungkook found is as close to perfect as Namjoon is ever likely to find. It wasn’t bought by Yoongi, with money that probably should have gone toward his food, or his tuition, and it hasn’t been worn by the two of them until the elbows need patching and the cuffs fray, and they’ve never passed notes or snacks or pens or notebooks in the pocket, but it has a deep hood, and it’s the right colour, and the sleeves hang down over his hands properly.

He buys it and leaves before he sees anyone try to take a hasty picture.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

The new sweater stays in the back of Namjoon’s closet for three days. Every morning as Namjoon is picking out what he wants to wear he sees it there, and he puts a hand on it, feels the not-quite soft enough fabric, and resolves to find the time to say something to Yoongi. Every evening he goes to bed with the twinge of guilt strong in his stomach.

On the fourth day he slips the new sweater over his head before he crawls into bed. It doesn’t feel exactly right, but it doesn’t feel entirely wrong. It feels like it could maybe be made to feel right again. It feels like the seed of hope.

He runs the new sweater through the wash a few times and that helps, a bit, and he sleeps in it a few more times to break it in, which helps more. Those activities take him through days forty two to forty seven since his last real Yoongi hug. On day forty eight Seokjin drops by his room. It isn’t for a social call.

“You need to talk to Yoongi,” Seokjin says without any preamble.

“What?” Namjoon splutters, because that’s not really what he was expecting Seokjin to say. Seokjin tends to stay away from anything that could be considered telling the leader what to do. They have a delicate balance, Namjoon and his hyungs in the group. That balance is arguing with Yoongi (currently on hold), and Seokjin, for the most part, treating him as a same-age friend, not a younger one.

“Talk to Yoongi,” Seokjin repeats.

“About what?”

“Hell if I know,” Seokjin groans, flopping face-first on Namjoon’s bed. Namjoon draws his knees up and crosses his legs to give him more space. “But it’s been keeping me up.”

“What has?” Namjoon asks. Sometimes Seokjin really likes being dramatic and take his time getting to the point. Namjoon does not have the patience for that today.

“The sighing,” Seokjin sighs, dramatically. “The sighing, and sighing, and sighing, all the night long. When he even makes it back to the room, that is. When he doesn’t it’s just quiet and that’s worse.”

Namjoon fiddles with the hem of his shirt. “And you want me to… talk to him?”

“Exactly.” Seokjin rolls onto his back so he can blink up at Namjoon. The dramatics are gone, and his face is dead serious. “Talk to him. He talks to you about stuff he’ll never talk about with the rest of us.”

“No he doesn’t,” Namjoon says automatically. They’re a team. Yoongi likes him exactly as much as he does everyone else.

Seokjin looks at him like he’s being dense on purpose. Namjoon doesn’t shrink back.

(Namjoon maybe shrinks back, just a little. He’s not stupid.)

“Oh sure he does,” Seokjin says at last. “You guys have lived togeth-”

Namjoon groans and covers his ears with his hands. Even through the groan he can hear Seokjin, saying “how long? It’s been,” and then doing Yoongi’s I’m thinking about something inhale perfectly before continuing, “Six, seven years now?”

Namjoon bites his tongue. The word “Seven,” slips out anyways.

“Exactly.” Seokjin pats Namjoon’s thigh. “Please go talk to him. I just want a good night’s sleep.”

Seokjin’s face is guileless and open. It’s a good thing they don’t play poker together.

“Thanks, hyung,” Namjoon says at last. “I’ll talk to him.”

“But when Namjoon-ah,” Seokjin gasps, diving back into the dramatics like he’s up for a medal at the Olympics. Namjoon feels more comfortable with this Seokjin. Something tells him that Seokjin feels more comfortable with this Seokjin too. “What are you waiting for, an invitation?”

“Yes.” Namjoon says it to be contrary, to give himself time to stall while he finishes processing the conversation.

He knows it’s the wrong thing to say from the way the smile spreads on Seokjin’s face. Seokjin hums a tune that could have been right out of one of their award shows. He reaches deep into his pocket.

“You didn’t,” says Namjoon in dawning horror.

Seokjin has a fucking envelope. Someone with fancy handwriting, handwriting neater than Seokjin’s, has written to the tall idiot with twice as many flourishes as necessary.

“Please don’t tell me this is a group production,” Namjoon pleads.

“Taehyungie said you would say yes if I was the one who asked,” Seokjin says, displaying the envelope as though he is an MC handing out an award. The light glints off the gold edging swirling around the corners. Namjoon recognizes the envelopes from the thank-you cards they gave the staff last Chuseok. He closes his eyes, as if that will make the envelope disappear.

“Open it,” Seokjin prompts, tapping his arm with the corner of the envelope. “I’m your hyung. I say open it.”

Namjoon obliges, drawing out a card that says thank you across the front. Someone has crossed out the thank you and has instead written Namjoon and Yoongi use their words to talk to each other party.

“I hope you made one for him too,” Namjoon grumbles as he flips the card open. Before he can get a chance to read what is written there another envelope falls into his lap. It reads to the short idiot. Namjoon groans.

“We thought of everything,” Seokjin says happily. “Or we tried to. We couldn’t think of what’s gone wrong. Well,” he amends, “Jungkook thinks he might have an idea, but he says he swore not to tell.”

Jungkook, Namjoon thinks, is an angel.

He moves Yoongi’s envelope aside and reads the card addressed to the tall idiot.

 

You have been cordially invited to the conversation between Kim Namjoon and Min Yoongi where they will clear the air about why they’ve subjected the dorm to an extended period of melancholy and sort out their differences.

When: Immediately

Where: Probably in Genius Lab? We think he’s there anyways, he won’t tell anyone where he is just that he’s alive.

 

“You guys are horrible,” Namjoon says when he finishes.

“We know.” Seokjin is smug and self-satisfied. “Now, get dressed, get going, no time like the present.”

“You don’t even know where he is,” Namjoon says, but he’s already standing. If it’s gotten so bad between them that the others are feeling uncomfortable enough they’ve written out actual paper invitations asking them to talk to each other they aren’t either of them doing their jobs. Worse, they aren’t either of them being friends properly.

“Well he’s sure as hell not here,” Seokjin says. “Where else would he be?”

That’s fair enough, Namjoon thinks, as he starts sorting through his closet to find something to wear.

After a while Seokjin says, “You’re going to the studio, not to take some Kim Daily pictures.”

“Who says I can’t do both?” Namjoon asks, flushing. He’s holding two shirts in his hands, debating the merits of the one where Yoongi told him it complimented his eyebrows and possibly didn’t hang like a sack off his shoulders, and the one where Yoongi had looked at him, looked away, and said it didn’t look like he’d crawled out of a dumpster.

“Me,” says Seokjin firmly. “The one on the right, wear a cardigan because it’s chilly, don’t forget your keys to get back in.”

After years of sharing the same spaces Namjoon doesn’t think twice about changing in front of the others. He finds a pair of well fitting but comfortable jeans, throws on his shirt, and is rooting around for his cardigan when his hand hits something that feels-

He pulls it out but it’s only the replacement sweater, no matter how fast his heart is beating. He tries not to let his disappointment show on his face. By the time he glances at Seokjin, Seokjin is looking studiously at his phone. “There’s a car out front,” Seokjin says, heaving himself off Namjoon’s bed to rifle through the collection of masks hanging on the hooks behind his door.

“You’re really serious about this, aren’t you,” Namjoon says.

“Deadly,” Seokjin confirms. “It’s like the early days again when you would fight over everything and none of us like it.”

“Sorry,” Namjoon says, turning the envelope marked to the short idiot over and over in his hands.

“You will be forgiven,” Seokjin says, holding out one of the bags Namjoon usually uses as carry-on when he’s flying, “When you and Yoongi talk.”

Namjoon takes the bag and puts the sweater and the invitation and his phone inside it. He takes a last look at himself on the mirror behind his door and decides this is probably as good as it’s going to get.

“Okay,” he says to himself. “Okay. Let’s fix this.”

“Fighting!” says Seokjin, also speaking at him through the mirror. “Now go!”

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Namjoon hadn’t counted on the fact that he still had to actually gain entry to the genius lab.

“He came out maybe a half hour ago,” the receptionist tells him when he asks. “Got some food, went back inside.”

“Thanks,” Namjoon says, and walks down the hall to his and Yoongi’s studios. He doesn’t even pause as he walks past Yoongi’s. He shuts his door behind him and leans on it.

He’s made it this far. He’s so close. All he has to do is go out there, and ring the doorbell, and convince Yoongi to let him in. It sounds simple. The problem is that it’s terrifying.

It isn’t that he and Yoongi are strangers to having great talks. They have fantastic talks. Some of the best. It’s that those talks always happen in the middle of the night, when it’s really morning, and they’re both a bit tired and a bit drunk on the lack of sleep, keyed up high with emotion and ready to fight the world. In that environment it’s easy to let down the carefully constructed walls they put up to help them function in the slightly terrifying world where they live and work.

It’s not the middle of the night. It’s the middle of the afternoon. Namjoon isn’t well rested exactly, but he’s not especially tired, not the way he needs to be. He’s keyed up maybe, but being keyed up on his own is very different from being keyed up around Yoongi. Namjoon doesn’t feel anything like prepared for what needs to happen next.

He sticks his hand into his bag, fiddling with the edge of the invitation and stroking the sweater to reassure himself they’re both there. He’s stalling. It’s time to march in there, own up to the fact that he was careless with Yoongi’s time, careless with Yoongi’s kindness, and that he promises he’ll do better next time.

That’s a pretty good line. He fishes out his notebook to scribble it down. The back pocket, stuffed full of Yoongi’s notes, bulges at him accusingly. Without thinking he pulls them out. He looks at the one on top. He remembers getting this note. He grins.

(Namjoon was in a really bad songwriting rut when Yoongi caught him wearing the sweater, in their kitchen, dead eyed to the world. Yoongi had wandered over to lean on his shoulder, his weight comfortable and warm along Namjoon’s back. Namjoon’s tea had gone cold so Yoongi made him a new cup and sat with him while he drank it.

When Namjoon took the sweater off later he found a note tucked in the pocket, a crude hand-drawn attempt at the hang in there cat poster. He locked himself in the bathroom until his breathing stopped being fifty percent hiccoughs, then locked himself in his studio and worked through the night. When he got out he had a rough demo. It was amazing.

Yoongi was the first person he had listen to it of course. Yoongi had to swallow twice before he could say “That’s… that’s really good, Kim Namjoon. Not sure it fits this concept, but-”

“Yeah,” Namjoon whispered. “Yeah.”

“Although,” Yoongi said, and he got that Look in his eye that meant he was thinking about music. “If you were to swap this part and this part, melodically, you-”

“Later, hyung,” Namjoon said, laughing. He felt so light, so free, so happy, that he grabbed Yoongi’s head and kissed him on the side of his cheek. “I wrote something. It’s been weeks.”

“Yeah,” said Yoongi. “Yeah, Joon-ah, i know.”)

He’s not sure how he manages to pull away from his door, open it, and walk the few short feet to Yoongi’s doormat, but he does. He rings the doorbell, and then rings it again, and then rings it again.

Nothing happens.

He stares at the lock pad. Yoongi is the only one who bothers having a lock on his studio door. Dork.

Namjoon thinks about it for a while, thinks about it very hard, and then pushes some buttons. The lock flashes red, so the password is not their debut day. He tries the Agust D mixtape release date too, because why not. He tries Yoongi’s birthday, and then he tries Holly’s birthday, and then he tries-

It works.

Namjoon looks at the green flashing lights. It doesn’t make sense that lights can flash in an accusatory way but that’s exactly what these ones are doing. Namjoon stares at them until they flip back to red. He goes to sit against the other wall of the hallway instead and settles in for a wait.

namjoon
hyung please let me in
the whole point of the doorbell is so that you will know someone is waiting
if you ignore the doorbell what is even the point of having it?

There’s no reply, but then Namjoon hadn’t really expected there to be. The door doesn’t open either, which, if Yoongi is in hide from the world mode, makes complete sense. He opens candy crush.

The wait is surprisingly short. Namjoon looks up when Yoongi opens his door. He’s staring hard at his phone, moving so quickly that Namjoon hardly has time to pull his legs back before Yoongi would have tripped over them.

“Oh,” Yoongi says, startled. “Joon-ah. What are you-?”

“I did text,” Namjoon says.

He watches the blush paint itself high on Yoongi’s cheeks. They are sharp, his jaw sharp too. He hasn’t been eating enough lately. If the bags under his eyes are anything to go by Seokjin isn’t the only one from their room who has been finding it hard to sleep.

“I’ve… been distracted,” Yoongi says. He takes a deep breath as though he’s steeling himself for some herculean task. “Listen, it’s good I guess, that you’re here. Um, I just have to pick something up, I can-”

“I’ll come with you.” Namjoon scrambles to his feet. If Yoongi leaves him alone with his thoughts at this point he’s afraid he’ll chicken out entirely.

“It’s just to the front desk.” Yoongi sounds sceptical. “Honestly I can-” but Namjoon is already standing up, scooping up his bag.

Yoongi looks at him, shrugs his right shoulder, and leads them down to the front. The receptionist looks up at his approach, says, “Ah, Yoongi-ssi! Yes, one second,” and hunts around under her desk before handing him what is very obviously the kind of packaging that comes wrapped around deliveries of things bought online.

“Thank you,” Yoongi says, inclining his head. He turns and leads the way back to the studios. Namjoon doesn’t say anything, just trails behind him trying to remember what order he was going to put his words in.

“I told you I’d be fast,” he grumbles as he unlocks the door. The lights flash green. Namjoon feels a flash of guilt, glad he didn’t let himself in earlier.

“I didn’t mind,” Namjoon says. He can see that Yoongi is clutching the package in a white-knuckled grip, that his mouth is drawn tight, his jaw set in determination. He realizes belatedly he’s gripping his bag with a similar amount of force, his hand aching from the effort. He’s obviously not the only one who is nervous about whatever is about to happen, and somehow he finds that comforting. Neither of them know where this is going.

Yoongi opens the door and gestures Namjoon inside. Namjoon takes his side of the couch. Yoongi, instead of taking the other, takes the desk chair. At least he spins it around and rolls it closer, so they’re within arm’s reach. He’s worrying at the plastic of the packaging in his hands, but Namjoon can’t tell if it’s on purpose or the result of nerves.

They sit in silence for a few seconds, the silence ringing in his ears the way it only can in a well sound-proofed space. There are a lot of things Namjoon wants to say, if only he can find the way to start.

Maybe if he just goes for it, opens his mouth and pushes air through it, he will come up with something to say in self defence if only to avoid the embarrassment of the situation. That seems a solid plan. He puts it in action. His mouth cooperates almost at once. “Yoongi-” he starts, but Yoongi shushes him.

“I have something to say,” Yoongi says, “And if you don’t let me just say it I might not be able to say it and that would be bad.”

Namjoon’s stomach fills with butterflies doing synchronized nosedives. It’s not his favourite feeling in the world. He wants to say please just this once can’t I go first but he always goes first, somehow, and Yoongi never complains, never asks for much. Namjoon has tried to make a habit of, when on the rare occasions Yoongi asks for something, he gets it.

“So a while ago,” Yoongi starts, then pauses, then starts again, “A while ago we were at a layover in an airport, and I noticed that you’d left something behind in one of the waiting areas, so I picked it up and put it in my bag and forgot to give it back to you.”

Namjoon has a horrible premonition about what Yoongi is about to say. He bites his bottom lip as a reminder to keep from interrupting. He has to bite harder, as Yoongi’s pause grows longer.

“And then we got back here and I couldn’t find it,” Yoongi says in a rush. His fingers stop toying with the plastic as he starts to open it in earnest, poking a hole in first and then tearing hard. Namjoon catches a glimpse of yellow through the widening hole. “And I’ve tried to find you a replacement, but mostly I’ve failed. This is about as close as I could come, so I hope it’s okay?”

The yellow sweater spills out into Yoongi’s hands. He holds it out to Namjoon, looking at a point somewhere off over Namjoon’s left shoulder. Namjoon takes it unthinkingly, dropping his grip on his bag to do so. He sees the tag, sees the brand, and it hits him at once.

Yoongi has been worrying about this for a month now. The whole time Namjoon has been stressing about what Yoongi will think of him for losing something Yoongi bought him, put so much work into fixing, Yoongi has been worrying about…

“Hyung,” Namjoon says, reaching out to grab at Yoongi’s hands. “Hyung, I-”

“I’ll understand if you’re upset,” Yoongi says stoutly, even as he clutches back at Namjoon, “I know you loved that sweater, and I’m so sorry I lost it, but I-”

“Hyung!” Namjoon tries again, but it’s futile. Yoongi is either a man of few words or a man who never shuts up, there is no in-between. Namjoon has to resort to drastic measures.

He pitches forward and slaps his hand over Yoongi’s mouth.

It’s a bad idea. Yoongi’s eyes go first wide and then narrow in indignation. Worse than having annoyed Yoongi, far, far worse, Namjoon now knows how soft Yoongi’s lips are. He can feel the hot huff of Yoongi’s surprised breath against the palm of his hand. He can’t help but think about what it might feel like against-

Not now, he thinks frantically at his autonomic nervous system. Let me get through this first before freaking out, please.

“‘Hyung,” he says in a tightly controlled voice. “Hyung just don’t say anything for like thirty seconds, okay?”

Yoongi’s eyes are still narrow and oh god Namjoon can feel him purse his lips under his palm but he nods.

“I remember forgetting the sweater at the airport,” Namjoon says, slowly taking his hand away from Yoongi’s mouth and using it to pick up his bag, “But I don’t remember you picking it up.”

“But I told-” Yoongi starts, then clamps his mouth shut.

“I don’t remember that part,” Namjoon repeats. “I only remember forgetting it, and I called the airport, just in case, and they said they didn’t have it, so-” He pulls out his replacement sweater and shows it to Yoongi.

Yoongi stares at the two sweaters now in Namjoon’s hands. They are identical, except that Namjoon has taken the price tags off and Yoongi hasn’t.

“What,” Yoongi says, looking down in confusion. “What- did you- did we-”

Namjoon points to the tags on the inside of the neck, both the same brand, both XXL. Yoongi groans as though in pain, twisting his hands in the sweaters. Namjoon agrees wholeheartedly.

“Namjoon,” he says, drawing out the last syllable. There’s something in his tone that makes Namjoon’s pulse race. Yoongi looks at the sweaters, and then at the ceiling. His tendons shift under his skin as he tightens his grip.

“Hyung?” Namjoon asks, because Yoongi looks like he’s in pain, looks like he wants to run away. That was not Namjoon’s intent. “Hyung, are you okay?” he tries again and then Namjoon finds a long fingered hand on the back of his neck and a pair of soft lips against his own.

He has a half-second to think oh, so that’s what it feels like before Yoongi is pulling back which is wrong, so wrong that Namjoon drops the sweaters in his hand to reach up and slide his fingers through Yoongi’s hair (soft) and keep his lips (warm) gently but firmly in place.

Yoongi comes back easily, and something in Namjoon’s chest sings. Their second kiss is just as nice as their first. Yoongi tastes of coffee and cheap ramen, and also midnight, somehow, even though it can’t be later than early evening.

He loses that train of thought as Yoongi’s fingers trail through the hair at the nape of his neck and then forward, tracing faint lines behind his ear and along his jaw. It sends goosebumps rolling down Namjoon’s arms. It’s such a nice feeling that Namjoon tries to emulate it on Yoongi, and is rewarded for his efforts when Yoongi shivers.

For all Yoongi initiated this he’s kissing back with a shyness that makes Namjoon hesitant to deepen the kiss, much as he’d like to. He gets the feeling that there’s something Yoongi wants to say, that Yoongi is working up to. He’s not sure he wants to hear it yet. He’s enjoying their second kiss, and isn’t thrilled with the idea that it might end soon.

“Namjoon.” Yoongi pulls back at last, just far enough he can speak. Namjoon ducks in to capture the last sound of his name on Yoongi’s lips. It tastes sweet, and maybe a bit smokey. He memorizes it just in case, but he doesn’t think this will be the last time he has the occasion to taste it. Yoongi started this. Yoongi probably isn’t about to let him down gently.

“Namjoon,” Yoongi says again, his tone turning annoyed at the end as Namjoon leans forward for seconds. Namjoon might feel guilty, except Yoongi kisses him back, losing some of his shyness to match Namjoon’s eagerness, bringing up a hand to cup Namjoon’s jaw. The tips of their noses brush together as they tilt their heads for better access. Namjoon wonders if it’s possible to have a heart attack from being too happy.

“Namjoon- Oh come on-, Joon-ah we need to talk.”

Namjoon sighs. Yoongi has a point, he usually has a point, and when he has a point Namjoon makes it a point to listen.

(Everything Yoongi says is important to listen to. Namjoon could listen to Yoongi talk for literal years, and has, and hopefully will.)

“I should have asked first,” Yoongi says. “Before kissing.” He scoops up the sweaters from where they’ve fallen. He hands Namjoon the one with tags on it and keeps the one with the tags off for himself, clutching it to his chest as though Namjoon might decide to take it back.

“I like kissing you,” Namjoon says. “We can go back to that, if you want.”

“Gotta be clear first,” Yoongi says, like he’s talking down a checklist he memorized. “Make intentions clear. Begin as you mean to continue, and I mean to continue with very clear communication.”

“Okay.” Namjoon is happy to wait. Yoongi does this sometimes, as though he’s warming up his mouth to make sure when he gets to the point it’s good and ready to keep up with him.

“Good communication is important,” Yoongi continues, his voice getting strained, “It’s how we make sure that things happen the way we want, and make sure people want the same things. Wanting the same thing, being in agreement, that’s such an important part of making sure everyone is happy. Especially when people are, er, discussing-”

“Hyung,” Namjoon interrupts. Yoongi’s eyes have gone wild at the edges. It isn’t wild like a park is wild, this is wild like the tips of mountains, the deepest parts of the forest, the bottom of the Marianas Trench. It’s an unnerving wild, and means handle with care. Namjoon has experience, and he puts it to good use. He picks up one of Yoongi’s hands, cold and a bit calloused, skin rough around his nails, then laces their fingers together.

It works. Yoongi takes a breath and, when Namjoon squeezes is hand, takes another. Namjoon grins. “You’re rambling, you know that, right?” He looks between Yoongi’s eyes. Yoongi has always been bad at bluffing. “What’s the important point for me to get?”

Yoongi gets a distinctly uncomfortable look. He catches one of his (plush, pink, recently kissed by Namjoon, soon to be kissed by Namjoon again if Namjoon has any say in the matter) lips between his teeth and worries at it for a while. “This is not,” Yoongi says at last, “because you got me a sweater. The kissing, I mean.”

He meets Namjoon’s eyes. He looks so vulnerable, eyes wide, mouth drawn into a tight, uncertain line, his shoulders hunched up around his neck. He looks like he’s waiting for rejection. It would be laughable, except that Namjoon knows that laughing right now would be one of the worst things he could do.

“This is because of all the other stuff. Straw that broke the camel’s back kind of thing,” Namjoon says, and he sees Yoongi’s smile, the smile that means he can see that Namjoon got it, that as they have been for the last few years they are once again on the same page. They don’t really need words, not after all this time together, but sometimes words, words said out loud or written down, can help fight back the nagging feelings of uncertainty.

“And it’s not a one time thing,” Yoongi adds, “Or a… a no strings attached thing. For me. So. If it is for you we should. Talk. About that.”

He’s so quietly determined when he says it that Namjoon feels the laughter bubbling up helplessly inside him again. The situation is so absurd. It’s the middle of the afternoon or possibly early evening. Yoongi has no business making him this emotional outside the safe hours of the night. At least the walls are soundproof, so no one will be able to hear how loudly his soul is singing.

Yoongi is frowning at him, and Namjoon wants to smooth the frown away with his thumb, chase it off Yoongi’s face with his gentle touch. He remembers that less than a minute ago they kissed, and he revises his want from smooth-with-thumb to kiss-with-mouth and then, because he’s feeling brave, and a bit day drunk, and Yoongi started it, he tugs on Yoongi’s hand until he’s sitting on the couch too, leans in, and kisses him.

It takes several seconds for Yoongi to push him away again, and he still looks hesitant. Namjoon slips his hand behind Yoongi’s neck, rubs circles in the soft sensitive skin at the corner of his jaw, and says “Hyung. Yoongi. We’re both too honest to try and pretend we’d be able to do no-strings attached.” Yoongi frowns and looks like he’s about to say something even as he nuzzles into Namjoon’s hand. Namjoon soldiers bravely on. “I don’t want no strings attached, hyung. I want every string you’re willing to give me.”

Yoongi licks his lips slowly, thinking. Namjoon can’t tear his eyes away from the faint pink tip of his tongue. “Okay,” Yoongi says. “Okay. Okay.”

“Okay?” Namjoon asks.

“Okay,” Yoongi says, and they are kissing again, slow and languid. Namjoon stops holding Yoongi’s head so he can slide his hand gently around his waist. His fingers skirt the band of Yoongi’s ripped jeans, the tips of his fingers ghosting over the soft skin of Yoongi’s back. Yoongi’s breath hitches and Namjoon takes advantage of Yoongi’s parted lips to run his tongue along them.

There’s a pressing want in his chest, and hot arousal pooling low in his stomach, but he doesn’t act on it. This is already a lot, a drastic change in their relationship. As much as his body is demanding more, more, more he recognizes that kissing, that kissing Yoongi, is more than enough of a universe shift for one day.

Besides, the kissing is good. The kissing is really good. As Yoongi licks his way into Namjoon’s mouth, Namjoon makes the mistake of thinking Yoongi kisses as well as he raps. The thought makes him groan, which makes Yoongi’s hands (one in Namjoon’s hair, the other on his back) spasm. As though Yoongi rapping wasn’t already one of the hottest things on the planet. He suspects it’s going to be a while before he can watch a performance without feeling a pleasant warmth suffuse his body and make it difficult to concentrate.

When they break apart they stare at each other, breathing hard. Namjoon can’t look away from Yoongi’s eyes, full of a mix of wonder and terror, until he catches sight of Yoongi’s mouth, spit slick, stretching into a smile and then widening into a grin. There’s nothing to do but kiss it again, although this time he keeps it to a chaste, restrained peck. When he pulls back Yoongi is still grinning and still a bit wild around the eyes.

“Yoongi,” he starts, but then he can’t figure out how he wants to finish it. It’s just me, it’s okay, we’ll be fine? Or maybe I’m scared too, new is always scary? Or-

“Sweaters?” Yoongi clutches the sweaters. Namjoon can see his hands are shaking. “We never tried them on. We should do that.”

“Yes.” Namjoon agrees, because a break from all the new sounds like a good idea. He feels like a sponge, once full of water, now wrung out. “Here, um-”

“I know which one is mine,” Yoongi says grumpily, in exactly the same tones as pre-kissing Yoongi would have. Namjoon feels the urge to kiss rising in him and firmly sets it aside. They’d just done a lot of kissing. Having some time to recover, to process, seems like a good idea. He takes the sweater and slides it over his arms.

It fits exactly the way it had in the store, which makes sense, given that they’re the same sweater. What’s interesting though is that this one feels somehow warmer, as though Yoongi has managed to imbue it will his affection even though he hasn’t had it in his possession for more than an hour, if Namjoon is being generous.

On Yoongi the sweater isn’t quite as big as the old one was but it still falls over his hands and, when he pulls the hood up, lets him disappear almost completely. Namjoon leans forward, delighting in Yoongi’s quick, sharp intake of breath. Yoongi’s lips purse just the smallest amount, like he’s expecting a kiss. Namjoon pulls on the strings of the hood instead, pulling it closed.

Yoongi squawks, and flails, and when his hands finally hit Namjoon’s shoulders draws him in for a kiss. Namjoon goes easily. He lets go of the string and pushes the hood back off Yoongi’s head instead so he can get one of his hands in Yoongi’s hair. He uses it to tilt Yoongi’s head to the side, exposing the corner of his jaw.

Yoongi breathes deeply when Namjoon kisses there, which isn’t quite the sound Namjoon was hoping for. He tries again, a touch closer to Yoongi’s ear, and is rewarded for his efforts with an almost-whimper. That’s better, and he’s leaning back in for a third time when he hears his phone buzz.

“I’m going to ignore that,” he whispers into Yoongi’s ear. Yoongi does a full-body shudder which is. Interesting. Very interesting. Namjoon decides to explore that further as his phone buzzes again. “Can’t think of anything I’d rather do, whatever’s on my phone is less important.”

There’s definitely a full body shudder again, not to mention the fact that Yoongi’s fingers clench and unclench in his sweater helplessly. “That’s cheating, Joon-ah,” he says, his voice low and husky, and damn if Namjoon doesn’t feel a very pleasant tingling in his lower back, down the backs of his arms. “Don’t do that, that makes it very hard to-”

Yoongi’s phone buzzes this time, and then Namjoon’s again. It keeps buzzing.

They look at each other. Yoongi groans, flopping back against his chair, letting his hand fall over his eyes. “We might as well see what they want.”

Namjoon doesn’t bother asking who “they” are in this context. Sure enough, when they check their phones the group chat is demanding to know where they are.

There are also some messages from Seokjin.

seokjin-hyung
I hope you’ve kissed and made up
If you haven’t yet show him the invitation
Tell him that invitation is his ticket into our room tonight

Namjoon doesn’t bother rolling his eyes.

“Seokjin-hyung says we aren’t invited to supper,” Yoongi says. “Or to the arcade after.”

“You can’t tell me you want to go to the arcade,” Namjoon laughs.

namjoon
We’ve made up. Have fun at supper

“I don’t,” Yoongi says with a grimace. “But I don’t like being told I can’t. That’s different.”

“So if I told you you can’t go home, and definitely shouldn’t have a nap on your actual bed, you would-”

“Stay right here and keep working.” Yoongi says it with a straight face and a sigh. He gets from couch to office chair without standing up fully, sort of throwing himself into it and wheeling himself back to his desk. Namjoon only has a split second in which to feel disappointed before Yoongi is shutting down his computer.

“Takeout?” he offers. “We can order it now, get it delivered so it’s ready when we get back.”

Yoongi’s already handing him his phone, a menu pulled up. Namjoon grins and starts scrolling through to get their usual order.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

The food beats them home. The delivery person is leaning next to the pole where he locked his bike. He looks young, probably still in his teens. Yoongi speaks softly to him, makes him laugh with what is probably a horrible joke. Namjoon hangs back so neither of them will see his smile.

They eat directly out of the containers, passing them back and forth whenever they want a different dish. Yoongi sits on the counter, his legs dangling. Namjoon stands beside him. Occasionally they tap each other on the knee or shoulder while they talk, feed each other small bites of chicken.

“Do you want one?” Namjoon asks as he gets a beer out of their fridge. Yoongi shakes his head, then grins around a fresh mouthful of food as Namjoon attempts to open his beer and only manages to snap off the tab. Namjoon uses a knife to finish the job properly. He looks up in time to see Yoongi making a come here gesture. Namjoon obliges. Yoongi steals a kiss, and then steals the beer.

When the containers are rinsed and put in the recycling Yoongi grabs Namjoon’s hand and leads him to his and Seokjin’s room. Namjoon follows, warmth spreading up his arms even though Yoongi’s hands are cold. They’ve napped together in this room before but it feel different this time. It feels more the change in their relationship changing, colouring his relationship with these familiar actions. Everything is both the same and new all at once.

Yoongi leads him to his bed. They lie down, facing each other. Namjoon stares at Yoongi. Yoongi stares back.

Neither of them seems to know what comes next.

“Is this weird now?” Yoongi asks at last.

“A little,” Namjoon admits. “I’ve… I’m going to have to reprogram myself a bit? I got myself convinced that if you- then I-”

“Ah,” laughs Yoongi. “Yeah. I. Um.”

“This is definitely weird,” Namjoon interrupts him. “Not a bad weird!” he corrects as he sees Yoongi’s expression change, but it’s too late. Yoongi has already kicked out, sharp and quick, so his foot makes contact with Namjoon’s shin. It stings faintly until Yoongi, instead of pulling his foot back, tucks it under Namjoon’s leg properly. It’s far from the first time they’ve been cuddled together. It still makes Namjoon’s breath hitch.

Yoongi watches him with dark, intent eyes, his expression one Namjoon would previously have considered unreadable but which he now feels reasonably comfortable classifying as besotted.

Namjoon shifts his shoulders. His face on Yoongi’s pillow feels uncomfortably hot. “The thing is we usually save this kind of talk for, like, the middle of the night. It’s weird to have it while I can see your face.”

Yoongi considers this statement, chewing lightly on his bottom lip. The next thing Namjoon knows Yoongi has reached out to cover Namjoon’s eyes.

“There,” says Yoongi’s disembodied voice. “Fixed it.”

Namjoon covers Yoongi’s hand with one of his own and runs his fingers along the back of it in small circles. He can hear the change in Yoongi’s breathing and allows himself a small smile before sliding his hand to Yoongi’s wrist. He tugs. Yoongi moves his hand.

“I think I want to get used to saying this sort of thing without hiding.”

Yoongi groans as if in pain, rolling onto his back while contriving to keep his foot where it is, his wrist circled in Namjoon’s fingers. “Are you this cheesy on purpose?” he demands.

“Communication is key,” Namjoon says, scrambling to remember the rest of Yoongi’s words. “Begin as you mean to continue.” He fends off the pillow Yoongi launches at his face with an arm, trying to finish before he gives in to laughter. “And I mean to continue with-”

Yoongi very obviously has no plans to hear how Namjoon means to continue. Namjoon makes a valiant effort to keep explaining but he finds it’s hard, with Yoongi’s mouth pressed insistently against his.

After a time Namjoon says, “I’m sorry we didn’t start the communication is key protocol a bit earlier. Would’ve saved me a couple miserable weeks.”

Yoongi flops on Namjoon’s chest, arms sprawling. Namjoon takes the opportunity to link their fingers together again. “I wanted to have a replacement before I told you.”

“Same here,” Namjoon laughs. “Jungkook helped me find it.”

Yoongi stiffens, looks up at Namjoon with wide eyes. “Jungkook helped me find it.”

They lie still for a while, wrapped in contemplative silence. Namjoon aimlessly draws patterns on the back of Yoongi’s hands with his thumbs. Yoongi sighs and nuzzles at Namjoon’s collarbone. “How smug is he going to be?”

“Very smug,” Namjoon allows. “Did I ever end up showing you the invitations Seokjin made?”

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

Nothing changes, and everything changes. No one comments on the fact that they hold hands now, or sometimes wear matching sweaters, beyond Hoseok saying, “So you finally upgraded to proper couples sweaters,” and Seokjin sitting them down and giving them a very stern lecture about behaviour is and is not acceptable in their kitchen.

“It’s not like you use it for cooking,” Namjoon protests. There’s a good chance his internal body temperature has risen by five, possibly twenty million degrees. He’s surprised the water in the glass he’s clutching isn’t boiling already.

That is entirely beside the point,” Seokjin sniffs. “I want to make sure that if I want to cook I don’t have to worry about which parts of your bodies have touched which utensils.”

Namjoon buries his face in his hands. Out of the corner of his eye he sees Yoongi fish a small notebook out from somewhere. He licks his pencil and asks Seokjin, with a completely straight face, about which combination of body parts and elements of the kitchen are acceptable. “Can my feet touch the floor?” Yoongi asks. Seokjin nods. “Good, good,” Yoongi says as he scribbles that down. “Knees?”

Namjoon has a sudden image of Yoongi on his knees. It’s an excruciating experience. Seokjin agrees, to judge by his squawk.

When Namjoon turns to look there’s a tiny crease between Yoongi’s eyebrows. “I’m sorry, hyung,” he says, lips pulled down. “Is that a yes? Or a no?”

The other time it comes up they are in their living room. Namjoon has his arm resting along the back of the loveseat. When Yoongi walks in he sits next to Namjoon, leaning on Namjoon’s chest instead of the couch and snagging his hand. It still sends a pleasant thrill through Namjoon every time Yoongi does this, just come into Namjoon’s space like it belongs to him, but apparently it isn’t enough for some of their members.

“We don’t mind if you want to cuddle around us,” Jimin says after a few minutes. “I mean, we all cuddle each other all the time.” It’s true too. Jimin is squashed between Taehyung and Jungkook on the couch, a hand wrapped around each of their knees. Taehyung has his legs sprawled across their laps. Jungkook is leaning on Jimin’s shoulder.

Namjoon looks down, just to make sure he and Jimin are existing in the same reality. Yoongi is definitely still there, tucked under Namjoon’s arm, running his fingers over the knuckles and veins of Namjoon’s hand. It sends a very pleasant shivering sensation up his arm, and is the only sign Yoongi is awake. Namjoon isn’t really sure what Jimin thinks cuddling looks like.

“Not all of us are exhibitionists,” Yoongi says, without looking up from his study of Namjoon’s hands. “And besides, Seokjin-hyung’s already banned us from the kitchen-”

“I never! I think those are a perfectly reasonable set of-”

“And this is the only other communal space we have.” Yoongi doesn’t bother raising his voice to be heard over Seokjin’s protests.

Seokjin’s the first one to head to bed, followed by the others before long, all making pointed comments about things they definitely didn’t think should happen after they’d left.

“You’re thinking of trying some of those out, aren’t you,” Namjoon says, resigned. Yoongi is wearing a very thoughtful expression, staring hard at their windows.

“I mean Taehyung wasn’t wrong. My hands probably would leave very big prints on the glass.”

Namjoon groans and falls forward and then, because it’s right there, he leaves a few soft kisses at the spot where Yoongi’s neck meets his shoulder. Yoongi is nothing if not responsive to the idea, and they spend an enjoyable twenty minutes debauching each other before they hear “I just wanted to saaagh!” from the doorway.

With effort, Namjoon pulls himself back from his continued exploration of exactly how sensitive Yoongi’s ears are. He’s just grateful everyone’s hands are on top of their clothing, and that none of it has come off yet.

“Yes, hyung?” Yoongi asks, as though he hadn’t been doing something close to a whimper seconds ago. His hair is sticking up every which way, fluffy and soft. The pink flush of his face matches the pink of his lips. It’s… it’s a good look.

“I just wanted to say,” Seokjin says, his voice unnaturally high and strained, “That if you do ever want to kick me out of our room just let me know? There are other places I can be? But um. That doesn’t seem to. Um.”

Namjoon isn’t sure which is the worst part of this situation — Seokjin making reference to his sex life, or Seokjin almost seeing his sex life.

Seokjin seems to be thinking along the same lines, to judge by the expression on his face. “You know hyung’s studio is soundproof and has a lock,” Namjoon hears himself say. There’s a snort of laughter from Yoongi, hovering over him, and a finger dug sharply in his ribs. Namjoon was expecting both.

The corner of Seokjin’s mouth twitches in time to his rapid blinking. “Well,” he says after a pause, “I’m never setting foot in there again.”

“You just offered us your bedroom,” Namjoon points out, watching as Seokjin remembers that yes, he had. “How is this any diff-”

“The weather was absolutely lovely today wasn’t it!”

“It was cold and dreary with a wind strong enough it almost blew me over,” Yoongi says wryly. “Hyung you should really lay in a different store of smalltalk for when you’re feeling uncomfortable.”

“I retract my offer,” Seokjin says, to Yoongi. “I don’t want you, collective, anywhere near my sanctuary, my oasis, my-”

Yoongi yawns loudly and pushes himself up off Namjoon. “I’m too tired to deal with you right now,” he tells Seokjin. Namjoon watches as he stretches, sleepy, and then decides that the chance to wrap himself around a sleepy Yoongi’s back is worth standing up for. “Hmm,” Yoongi hums happily as Namjoon’s arms encircle his waist. “I’m going to bed. Coming?”

“Absolutely not,” Seokjin says firmly.

“I wasn’t asking you,” Yoongi says. He pulls Namjoon’s head forward so he can plant a soft kiss on his jaw. Namjoon melts a bit more. “You just said that if we wanted to kick you out of our room…”

“You know we wouldn’t, um-”

“Speak for yourself,” grumbles Yoongi.

“-I wouldn’t,” Namjoon amends, “Uh, do. Anything. Near your stuff. Right?”

Seokjin stares at them both. Namjoon really doesn’t want this to become a thing. Their studios might have couches and futons but there are some things Namjoon definitely likes to do better in a real, proper bed.

“And we’re going overseas soon! And moving!” he adds, as Seokjin stands frozen. “So it’s not like it will be a problem for long?”

Seokjin keeps staring at him. Yoongi stands on tiptoe to bring his mouth closer to Namjoon’s ear to whisper “I think you broke him.”

“Oh fine,” Seokjin says at last. “Go… go ‘cuddle’ each other some more.” He turns to Namjoon. “He’ll just pine away for you if you don’t. And I’m taking your bed.”

“Can’t ignore our hyung,” Yoongi says, sounding far more awake than he had seconds before. “C’mon now, chop chop, time’s awasting.”

“Oh my god,” Namjoon says, out loud, where everyone can hear him. He sounds fond even to his own ears.

“You aren’t fooling anyone.” Yoongi grabs his hand and drags him past Seokjin.

Seokjin makes vomiting noises behind them.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

The other thing that changes is how much they talk. They repeat begin as you mean to continue to each other in hushed voices, tangle their ankles together, let their giggles melt into each other and talk.

They talk, and talk, twice, three times as much as they had. Late nights in their studios, later nights tucked up on the couch in their living room, or more frequently in one of their hotel beds. They whisper about the future, heads bent close together. Namjoon had stopped trying to look too far ahead, back when they’d first started their seemingly unstoppable rise in popularity. It was terrifying then, a vast expanse of empty unknown possibilities. It still seems like that, but it seems less big, less scary, with Yoongi’s hand in his, their fingers holding tight.

Namjoon wants to hold on forever.

“Forever is a long time, Joon-ah,” Yoongi chuckles, his voice so quiet it doesn’t escape the space between them.

“I don’t mind,” Namjoon whispers back. “Forever is how long I want.”

“Me too,” Yoongi laughs. “Although we’ll have to come up with excuses for why we keep living together when everyone else moves out.”

“Maybe,” Namjoon hedges. “Or maybe we can tell the truth. I mean, think about it hyung. By that point we’ll have lived together over half our conscious lives. Don’t know if I’d know how to live apart from you.”

Yoongi makes a noise (a very nice noise) and falls forward to burrow his head in Namjoon’s chest, his arms wrapping around Namjoon’s back. Namjoon kisses the top of his head and lets himself be held. It’s a nice feeling.

“I’m sure you’d get used to it eventually,” Yoongi says quietly. Namjoon strokes his back. “Me though? Well, you know how I feel about change.”

Everyone knows how Yoongi feels about change. He’d complained for a week the last time Taehyung had bought the wrong brand of coffee by accident (“They’re all in blue tins! How was I supposed to know?”). When they’d stopped making his favourite shampoo he’d ordered it in bulk, storing the extra bottles under his bed.

“Guess we’ll have to make sure we never find out,” Namjoon says, and gratefully accepts Yoongi’s kiss.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

They don’t wear the new sweaters as much as they’d worn the old one. Namjoon has a theory about that, one that he shares with Yoongi as they sit in Yoongi’s studio with the door locked. They’re supposed to be packing to leave for America (again) but the idea of performing at an awards show on American network television has him feeling off-kilter enough he needs a bit of stability before he can think about packing.

It takes him three false starts, rambling about a song idea, and whether or not he’s going to get an assignment turned in for the course he’s taking, and a tangent about the choreography he can’t ever seem to get right, before he gets around to saying “I’m nervous.”

“Me too,” Yoongi admits, holding his arms open. Namjoon notices for the first time that Yoongi’s wearing the new yellow sweater. He’d been so distracted when he walked in he’d missed that. He feels relieved, that it isn’t just him, and then guilty, that he hadn’t noticed, and steps into Yoongi’s arms.

“For people who write songs for millions of people to sing for a living we’re actually very bad at using our words to talk about about feelings with each other,” he says into Yoongi’s hood.

“Were,” Yoongi corrects. “We were bad at that. We’re better now.”

“Better,” Namjoon agrees. It feels good, having Yoongi in his arms, in the quiet of the studio. An oasis of calm, while in the offices the manager and stylists try to make sure they have everything they’ll need, while back at the dorm the others are packing and playing with Yeontan and expressing their nerves by being even more loud than usual.

“Want to watch Netflix and chill?” Yoongi asks into Namjoon’s neck.

It’s one of the most brilliant ideas he’s ever had. “Oh god yes.”

They settle in on the couch, a blanket draped over their legs. After some careful negotiation Namjoon ends up being the one leaning on Yoongi, Yoongi’s arm draped warm and heavy across his shoulders. They put on a drama but don’t really watch it, Yoongi more focused on running his fingers slowly, carefully through Namjoon’s hair until Namjoon feels like he’s half asleep even though he knows he isn’t, and Namjoon focused on tracing the outline of Yoongi’s fingers over, and over, and over.

When the credits roll he blinks his eyes open as if coming out of a trance. The first thing his eyes focus on are Yoongi’s hands, with angry red hangails appearing around his nail beds, and then the bony, kissable, knob of Yoongi’s wrist. He kisses the wrist, because it’s there, and then notices the cuff on Yoongi’s sweater is frayed.

It makes no sense. The sweater is definitely the yellow sweater he bought. It’s practically new. The cuffs should not be fraying. The cuffs of his sweater certainly haven’t, and he’s been wearing it as much as Yoongi has.

He picks at the cuff, tugging it back down over Yoongi’s hand. Behind him Yoongi shifts, presses a warm kiss to his hair, and probably tries to see what he’s doing.

“What happened?” Namjoon asks, bringing Yoongi’s hand around to make it clear what he’s asking about.

“Nothing,” answers Yoongi, trying to pull his hand and the related cuff away. He doesn’t try especially hard. Namjoon keeps it where it is without any trouble and peers closer.

The yellows don’t quite match.

“Hyung,” he says. He can practically feel the heat of Yoongi’s blush on the back of his neck. When he turns to look Yoongi has retreated almost fully into his hood.

“Don’t.”

“Hyung,” he repeats, his tone turning gleeful.

“Kim Namjoon I’m warning you,” Yoongi says, but there’s no heat to it.

“Did you keep the cuffs?” Namjoon asks, delighted. “When you fixed them? Last year?”

“It wasn’t last year,” Yoongi corrects, which means the answers to the first two questions are yes and yes. Namjoon laughs. “It wasn’t! It was early in this year, which, I know that feels like absolute ages to someone who has such a big and powerful brain as yourself, you experience time faster because you’re more in the now or whatever, but-”

“You, mister ‘I don’t believe in superstitions’, went and-”

“It’s been with us to practically every overseas performance!” Yoongi squawks. “Every one! What if this is-”

“Took a perfectly good sweater-”

“The one time we don’t bring it and- and-”

“Sewed a ratty old- oh, no, Yoongi don’t you dare say that out loud!” Namjoon twists to slap his hand on Yoongi’s mouth just to be sure. This is not something he wants to jinx. “If you do I’ll- I’ll- I’ll hide your special coffee stash!”

Yoongi licks Namjoon’s hand, successfully making Namjoon pull back. “You are horrible,” Yoongi says firmly. “Atrocious excuse for a human being. I don’t know why I put up with you.”

“Because you love me,” Namjoon says, focused on wiping the spit off on Yoongi’s sweater.

They both freeze.

This isn’t the first time they’ve said they love each other. The band is pretty open about the things they love, their fans, their music, each other. They’ve even said it before, used the words “I love you, Kim Namjoon,” and “I love you, Yoongi-hyung,” but not… not like this not just as a casual aside, not when they’ve been curled together for the better part of an hour, warm and comfortable. Is it too early? Was he too fast? That would be just like him, wouldn’t it, can’t keep hold of his tongue, going and breaking things again.

He risks a glance at Yoongi. Whatever he was expecting, it isn’t what he sees. Yoongi is smiling, wide and fond and broad. There are wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, and even smaller ones under his eyes. He doesn’t look hesitant, or unsure, or like he’s nervous at all.

“Of course I love you, dork,” he says, smoothing his thumb between Namjoon’s eyebrows. There’s something about the way he says it that makes Namjoon’s heart, frozen momentarily in horror with the rest of him, kick back to life. The moment feels perfect. Then Yoongi flicks Namjoon’s forehead, hard.

“Hey!”

“You were over-thinking things again.” Yoongi’s smile is wide, and soft. Deciding between looking at it and kissing it is hard.

When they’re done kissing Namjoon says, “I love you too,” and Yoongi replies, “Is there anyone who doesn’t?” in such a smug tone that it leaves Namjoon no choice but to tickle him until he’s crying with laughter and then kiss him breathless.

They go to the dorm to pack. They fly to America. They run the gauntlet that is the airport and they get to the hotel and Namjoon closes the door of his hotel room behind him before he can breathe a sigh of relief. He wants to change out of his travel-worn clothing and have a shower to wash the grime of airplane atmospheres of him and sleep. He’d really like to sleep.

When he unzips his suitcase to find a yellow lump of clothing right on top he almost bursts into tears. It’s Yoongi’s sweater. He knows it’s Yoongi’s sweater because the cuffs are frayed, the colours don’t quite match.

He checks the pocket for the note he knows will be there.

I know you don’t need the luck, but I thought I’d send some anyways. Just to be safe. Love you ♡

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

It feels like they don’t have time to breathe between their trip stateside and moving their dorm. It’s as stressful to prepare for as the last moves had been, with half-packed boxes and mostly packed wardrobes for a full week while they work to make sure things can get moved but also stay accessible. The faintest silver lining comes from the fact that he genuinely can’t see where they might move after this. This is the complex. There isn’t anywhere else to go. They will have their own rooms (mostly, but Jimin and Hoseok say they like sharing), and enough bathrooms they won’t have to figure out a schedule for showering.

Their last night in the dorm almost everything is packed away in an organized chaos. Namjoon’s fingers hurt from all the tape he’s been slapping on boxes, reinforcing the bottoms and corners so there isn’t a chance that any of his collectibles will fall out. He’s sweaty and tired and mostly wants to get clean and find Yoongi and fall asleep but instead Taehyung and Jimin and Jungkook decide they’re going to camp out in the living room.

“We are International Kpop sensation sunshine rainbow BTS!” Seokjin protests. “We are rich! We have real beds with mattresses! That someone else will be moving for us tomorrow!”

Jimin doesn’t even look up from his efforts pushing the coffee table out of the way. Jungkook is dealing with the love seat, shoving it until it is almost entirely out in the hall. It leaves a large empty space in the middle of their living room. Namjoon is strongly reminded of their first dorm, back when they’d first found out the seven of them were the group to debut. They’d spent the night in the living room then too, the table shoved to the side, a pile of limbs and pillows and hands clutching tight together.

“It’s a good idea,” Yoongi says quietly, for Namjoon’s ears only.

“Yeah,” Namjoon agrees. “Yeah, it is. Want to get the blankets?”

They’re in the process of stripping Namjoon’s bed — okay, they are in the process of kissing, but they were in the process of stripping Namjoon’s bed, and plan on getting back to that any minute now — of his blankets and pillows when they hear a shout of laughter.

They break apart, Yoongi panting heavily, bracketed by Namjoon’s arms.

“We should probably go see what that’s about, right?” Namjoon asks, his voice husky.

“Eventually, sure,” Yoongi agrees. “But what’s the rush?” He rolls his hips, making Namjoon groan. It’s a very convincing argument.

They hear the first of the bedroom doors open, paired with Jungkook’s unmistakable shout of “Hyungs!”

“Ah,” says Yoongi, regretfully pulling his hands out from Namjoon’s pants. “There’s the rush.” Namjoon moans inarticulately and collapses on top of Yoongi. “I know,” Yoongi laughs, petting his hair. “Now shove off, you giant. I can’t breathe.”

“You’re talking just fine,” Namjoon says, rolling to the side and adjusting himself so it isn’t quite so obvious what they were getting up to.

“Hyungs, you’ll never guess-” comes Jungkook’s voice from outside the door. There’s a pause. “If I open this door am I going to see anything I will regret later?”

“No,” they call together. Jungkook opens the door cautiously. Namjoon has to laugh. He has a hand covering his eyes.

“Just being safe,” he says, “Anyways, you’ll want to see this.”

They follow Jungkook back out to the living room, arms full of blankets and pillows. There’s already a sizable pile in the middle of the floor, courtesy of the other rooms and the couch cushions. There is also a bright spot of yellow, easily visible on a cushion-less couch.

Namjoon hadn’t checked the couch. Neither had Yoongi.

“Well why would you, when you thought it was lost in an airport somewhere?” Taehyung asks sensibly.

They all stare at it some more.

“Are you just going to leave it there?” Hoseok asks eventually. “After all that moping you did?”

“We didn’t mope,” they say in unison.

The pronouncement is met with five sets of equally exasperated, fond expressions. Namjoon can’t really blame them. There might have been just a touch of moping.

“There was enough moping we had to write you invitations to get you to talk,” Seokjin points out.

“I had the intervention all planned out too,” Jimin pouts.

Taehyung slings a reassuring arm over his shoulder. “And it was a very good one. It’s really too bad they sorted themselves out so quickly after the invites.”

Jungkook, after his initial glee, has been noticeably silent during the exchange. Namjoon glances over to see him grinning his wide, toothy grin. Their eyes meet. Jungkook winks.

The attention shifts, as it often does in this group, away from what the point was originally onto something they can argue over in good humour. Namjoon is relieved at the shift - it means when he takes a few careful steps forward to pick up his sweater Yoongi is the only one who seems to notice.

It’s creased, but that’s to be expected if it’s really spent the better part of the last few months hiding in a couch. There are a few crumbs of that gross couch detritus that seems to accumulate under the cushions in even the cleanest household (and theirs is not the cleanest household) but nothing that can’t be brushed off. There aren’t any new holes, or stains, or anything.

He expects to feel an overwhelming surge of joy at a sweater found again, maybe a faint burning at the back of the throat. He’s happy, of course he is, but the happiness pales in comparison to the thing that he feels when Yoongi comes to lean against his back, wrap his arms around his waist. “Hey, hyung,” Namjoon says, just loud enough Yoongi will be able to hear him over the general noise. “I think I found it.”

“Yah,” laughs Yoongi, kissing one of the knobs of Namjoon’s vertebrae, “Looks like you did.”

Namjoon turns around so he can get a good look at Yoongi. The sound of the ongoing argument seems to fade.

They look at each other for a while. Namjoon’s cheeks start to hurt from smiling.

“Oh just go make out for a bit somewhere else,” Hoseok says, throwing a pillow at them. “Honestly this much joy on display is disgusting.”

“Don’t want our memories of this night tainted by the two of you trying to have eye sex across the living room,” Jimin adds.

Yoongi doesn’t look away from Namjoon as he tsks. His expression transforms almost instantly into his mild-grump form. “We can control ourselves,” he complains. “The fact that you don’t trust us to-”

“We know you,” Jimin laughs. “Go, shoo, don’t tell any of us anything about what you do with that thing.”

“Do you think they’ll try and both squeeze into it again?” Jungkook muses. “Before they do whatever they aren’t going to tell us about?”

Namjoon loves them, he really does. He reminds himself of the fact as he hooks the sweater, their sweater over his arm.

“I’m going to make sure this gets packed,” he announces.

“I’m going to supervise,” Yoongi announces immediately after.

“Go!” the others yell.

They go.

 

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ・゚✧*:・゚✧

 

It’s still Namjoon’s favourite sweater, but when he tries it on it’s different from what he remembers. It’s thinner somehow, almost fragile, as if made of gossamer instead of sturdy cotton. He’s almost afraid to wear it, concerned about stains, or tears, or heaven forbid losing it again.

He wears it a couple times anyways, determined that he won’t let a nagging nervous feeling control his behaviour. Yoongi holds his hand, and rests his chin on Namjoon’s shoulder, and kisses him breathless. It’s absolutely wonderful, but even more wonderful is when Yoongi helps him out of it, throws it onto Namjoon’s dresser, and sets to work on his pants.

After that the sweater stays in his closet more and more, for longer and longer intervals. He finds he doesn’t need it the same way. If he wants a hug from Yoongi he can walk up to Yoongi and get one. Yoongi never says no. Yoongi even offers them without prompting, sometimes, just because he wants to. Namjoon never says no either.

They spend more nights sleeping in the same bed than not, taking turns being the big spoon. Namjoon likes both holding and being held, likes that Yoongi will hold him and let himself be held. Namjoon likes that he doesn’t feel like he needs the sweater as an excuse for it anymore.

When it seems like Yoongi is especially drained, curled up in a ball in the very middle of his bed, Namjoon covers him with a blanket and pets his hair before he remembers the sweater in his closet. He gets it out from the back of the shelf where it’s lived for the last month, but when he tries to hand it over Yoongi grabs for his hand instead, wrapping himself in Namjoon.

“It’s so big, and we still managed to outgrow it, eh?” Namjoon asks, draping it over Yoongi’s shoulders like a blanket.

“We did,” Yoongi agrees. “We’re using words now, like adults.”

“Proud of us, hyung.”

Yoongi snorts. It sounds fond.

They decide to store it at the studio, folded up neatly, and tucked away high on one of Yoongi’s shelves. Hidden away like that it isn’t immediately obvious what it is if Yoongi ever films anything from his desk ever again.

“And it’s still there if we need it for writing,” Namjoon says with great satisfaction. “Plus, we won’t lose it again if it stays in one spot.”

Yoongi tsks derisively. Namjoon quirks an eyebrow at him.

“You don’t care if we lose it again?”

“Not in the slightest,” Yoongi says, sliding his arms around Namjoon’s chest, resting his head on Namjoon’s shoulder. Behind the bluster in his tone Namjoon can hear the truth. Yes it says, I would be upset, but- “Last time I lost it I found something even better.”

Namjoon’s ears cannot have possibly heard what he thinks they heard. It doesn’t make any sense, the words Yoongi is saying. It’s so cheesy, so greasy, exactly the kind of thing Yoongi wouldn’t say under pain of death. Worse, he sounded sincere.

“Hyung,” Namjoon says when he regains the ability to speak. “Hyung.”

“Yes, Kim Namjoon?” Yoongi asks, leaning back to tweak his nose. “Something to say?”

“Hyung,” Namjoon tries again. He takes Yoongi’s face in his hands. Yoongi grins up at him, insolent. “You. Are not allowed. To say things like that.”

Yoongi winks. “And how’re you going to try and stop me, Namjoon-ah.”

It’s disconcerting, the number of direct compliments he’s been receiving from Yoongi. He asked Yoongi about it once and the not at all helpful answer he got back was you’re cute when you get embarrassed. The problem with trying to retaliate is that Yoongi is too well practised in taking compliments as his due. It probably came of having Seokjin as his roommate for so many years.

“You’re one of the best things that’s happened to me,” Yoongi says, sincerity ringing in his tone.

“Hyung, no,” Namjoon says.

“I don’t know where I would be without you. I love you-”

Namjoon tries to cover Yoongi’s mouth with his hand again. Yoongi keeps going anyways.

“-almost as much as I love Holly. I love you more than anything else.”

Namjoon’s whole body hurts from trying to cringe away. Yoongi doesn’t let him, pulling him in closer.

“You’re incredibly hot, like ridiculously so, and-”

Namjoon gives up on silencing Yoongi with his hand. He goes to his last resort, sliding his fingers around behind Yoongi’s neck. Yoongi breathes in, anticipating. Namjoon leans down and in until they are close, so close, and stops. Yoongi’s eyes flicker open after a minute. He stares at Namjoon. Namjoon stares back.

“Kim Namjoon,” Yoongi says. “Joon-ah. Are you really going to-”

“Yep.”

Their lips are centimetres apart.

“Really?” asks Yoongi, tilting his head back.

“Really,” says Namjoon. He trails his fingers delicately along the back of Yoongi’s neck, brushing the soft hair there, then around to the edge of Yoongi’s jaw. “Unless you don’t want to.” Namjoon adds it like it’s an afterthought. He starts to stand up. “Unless you’ve decided-”

Yoongi doesn’t even groan first. He surges up on tiptoe and brings their mouths together in a kiss.

Namjoon feels warm clear through.