Jimin didn’t want to go meet the rest of the guys for their annual anniversary dinner, when everybody who wasn’t too busy would meet up for dinner and drinks.
It had been eight years since BTS called it quits at the highest point of their fame, knowing that after their years of enlistment without being a whole group would make it impossible to have the same magic they had all along. It hadn’t been an easy choice, and almost every single one of them had wanted to fight the inevitable, but the truth was, within a month of Seokjin-hyung leaving to enlist, it felt wrong. They weren’t BTS without all seven of them. With their ages so varied, it would always be one or two of them gone at a time. They thought about all enlisting at the same time and getting it over with, but the way the wheels of the industry turned, two years out of the game would kill their momentum, and they all decided that the best choice would be to go out at the top, not die off a failing brand when they were replaced by younger groups.
These days, Seokjin-hyung was a world-renown restauranteur. Jungkook had a thriving solo career, just like Jimin always knew he could. Yoongi was a music producer with his own label with Hobi-hyung as his partner. Taehyung was, unsurprisingly, not just a rising star actor in Korea, but in Western film as well. They all expected Namjoon to join Yoongi and Hobi, but he had decided to go to University for real and was working on his dissertation to have a PhD in international relations.
And Jimin was a dancer. Just a dancer. Not a famous choreographer. Not a well-known dancer in a company. Just a dancer.
After BTS went their separate ways, Jimin and Taehyung moved in together. However, it wasn’t even a year after their respective enlistments that Taehyung got hired to be in a big, Hollywood blockbuster and moved to LA. For the first time in Jimin’s life, he was alone. He went from his parents and brother to trainee dorms to BTS, and he learned fast he wasn’t good on his own. Before long, he had fallen into his old habits of not eating and hiding from the world. Between issues with food and his deep depression, he started drinking a lot. He didn’t work or go anywhere, so before too long, he’d blown a lot of his money. Finally, after almost a year of being a depressed drunk, he realized he was going to die if he stayed down that road, so he got himself a job, sobered up, and started dancing.
It wasn’t that he didn’t like it. He loved dancing. He was working for BigHit again, as one of the many anonymous dancers they had for their new groups. After their success, BigHit had blown up. Every once in a while he even got to dance at one of Jungkook’s performances. Kookie was always so happy to see him, still forever an overzealous puppy.
He saw Taehyung on Skype pretty often, at least. They talked almost every day. Taehyung was always so busy, but they were still each other’s best friend, so he always got to hear Taehyung’s newest stories and got consulted on outfit choices for awards shows and all that jazz. He missed him so much every time they hung up that he usually cried. He always knew being an idol meant that one day they wouldn’t be together all the time, but it didn’t seem like it would hurt so bad until it did. He and Taehyung were attached at the hips for so long that these days, he got to see him less than five times a year and it broke his heart.
He saw Jin-hyung sometimes, too. He would invite Jimin – who was the least busy one still in Seoul – to one of his restaurants on special nights so they could have dinner. They always had a fun time hanging out, but Jin-hyung had ‘grown up’ friends these days that Jimin just didn’t feel like he fit in with. They talked about work and life and stuff Jimin didn’t really have experience with. Yoongi-hyung and Hobi-hyung were always too busy to hang out. He saw them sometimes, and every once in a while they would ask him out since they all still lived in Seoul full time, but often they weren’t able to make time to do anything with their busy workload and all their artists.
The last time they were all together was three years ago, only two months after their last anniversary meet-up, when Namjoon’s daughter was born and they flew to New York to be there for their leader.
Namjoon had moved to America. He had met a woman while he was going to University and they got married. Three years ago, they had a baby. Little Zoe was beautiful, with her father’s smile and her mother’s pale brown eyes. Jin-hyung was engaged – to a model no less – but Namjoon had been the first to get married and have kids.
This year was the first time in three years they could all make it to the anniversary dinner and Jimin wanted to not go. It was so depressing to be the one person out of the group who hadn’t found individual success. He was managing, but he wasn’t successful.
It didn’t help that he missed them all so much. He missed living together with the six other guys. He woke up every day missing even their first tiny dorm with bunkbeds crammed together. He was so lonely all the time and he missed his family. They had been a family. They weren’t like some groups, where the members tolerated each other, they had loved each other, they fought, they cried together, they shared everything. They were family.
Everybody being together again was surely going to fuck him up. He knew it. He had been healthy mentally for a solid year and a half now, no bouts of depression, no sudden attacks of self-consciousness, nothing. He knew damn well that one night where he was reminded of what once was, and of where everybody was in life now, it would ruin him.
“I should probably not come, right?” he asked, laying on his bed, ignoring the outfit he had hung on his closet door while he talked to Taehyung, who was leaving Incheon as they spoke, freshly flown in from LA.
“No, you idiot, you have to come!” Taehyung argued.
Jimin groaned, rolling onto his belly. “But TaeTae, I know it’s going to make me sick again.”
“How can you possibly know that?” Taehyung demanded. “You haven’t seen Namjoon-hyung in so long it’s ridiculous. We haven’t been in the same city in six months. Jin-hyung says he hasn’t seen you even longer after he was in New York for so long opening his new place. Hell, Kookie has spent the past year on a world tour!”
“I know,” Jimin whined. “I miss them all. I miss you. I just-“ He choked slightly on his words. “I’ve been doing so well TaeTae. I’ve been comfortable. Reminding myself I used to be a world famous singer and I had you guys with me, it will make it all so much worse.”
There was a long silence. “You know, Jimin,” Taehyung said softly. “You know if you really asked me, I would quit. I would come be your roommate again. You know-“
“And that’s why I’ll never ask you,” Jimin said firmly. It was true. As lonely as he was, he would never, ever let Taehyung sacrifice his success just because Jimin wanted him to. “My problems isn’t anybody else’s fault. You guys are so successful and I’m so happy for you. I love you all so much and I’m so proud of where you’ve gone. I mean you were nominated for an Oscar last year!” he gushed. “Jungkook is currently nominated for a Grammy, Jin-hyung has two restaurants with Michelin stars, Yoongi-hyung has a Grammy for a song he produced with Hobi-hyung, and Joonie-hyung has a daughter!” He sighed. “I’m so happy for all of you. I just know that it will only remind me that I’m just… just Park Jimin. Former Idol, current backup dancer to young and hot idols.” He deflated some. “Fuck, I’m just lonely and sad. Maybe I need to see you guys. Maybe it will help, not hurt me.”
“And that’s what I’ve been telling you!” Taehyung urged. “Look, come to LA with me when I go. You can get work as a dancer there any day. Hell, you’re so cute I could get you a job as an actor, probably.”
“I’m not a good actor,” Jimin argued.
“So? Most of us aren’t good actors anyways. They just like pretty faces on screens,” he defended.
Jimin sighed. “I suck at English, Taehyung-ah. I can’t live in America.” He sighed. “Fine. I’ll come to dinner tonight. I’ll see you then?”
Jin-hyung had closed his restaurant for the night to throw their big dinner party, and Jimin was the next-to-last to arrive. When he got there, Taehyung spotted him in his way in and nearly took out Yoongi to get to him. “Jimin!”
Jimin beamed and rushed to meet him, colliding hard with his best friend. He inhaled a long familiar scent and had to fight tears in his eyes as he clung to Taehyung. “I missed you, TaeTae,” he whispered and Taehyung didn’t bother pretending he wasn’t a little teary.
“God, six months is way too long,” Taehyung groaned, swaying them back and forth.
“Yah, let us see him too!” he heard Jin complain, and Jimin smiled over Taehyung’s shoulder.
“Hey, Hyung!” He and Taehyung walked with linked arms to the table and Taehyung instantly dragged Jimin into his lap, clinging to him. He looked around and frowned. “Namjoon-hyung isn’t here yet?”
“He said he had to do something so he would be a little late,” Yoongi explained.
“I’m just happy he could come,” Jungkook said with an excited bounce. “It’s been three years for me!”
“I think the only one who has seen him since Zoe was born was Jin-hyung, right?” Yoongi asked. “When you opened the restaurant in New York?”
“I saw him when I was filming in Brooklyn,” Taehyung said, and Jimin nodded, remembering the photos of For Taehyung sent him.
“I’m surprised he made the trip, really,” Hobi said. “He takes care of Zoe while his wife works so I was never shocked he didn’t come all the way here for our dinner.”
The doors opened and they all turned with eager looks and a loud cheer went up when they saw their long-absent leader. “Heeeeyy!” they all cried and Namjoon beamed when he spotted them.
The meal was served and they all started passing food around like they had when they ate together in the old days. There was a lot of throwing napkins and even spoons occasionally, and the laughter made Jimin feel like he was home again.
It was only after a lot of beer and wine and most if the food was consumed that Namjoon looked at Jimin's plate curiously. “Is Park Jimin drinking water when there’s beer?” he asked jokingly.
Taehyung stiffened at Jimin’s side, but Yoongi spoke up. “Actually, I can’t remember the last time I saw you drink when we go out.”
“Yeah, you just look after our drunk asses,” Hobi said with a loud laugh.
Jimin sipped his water and cleared his throat. “Actually, Taehyung is the only one who knows I think, but I- uh-“ He smiled tightly. “I’m an alcoholic,” he confessed quietly. “I’ve been sober for five years.”
The table went quiet in shock. “How did we not know this?” Jungkook asked, looking guilty. “Jimin-hyung-“
“It was after Taehyung left,” he said with a shrug. “I wasn’t very good in my own. I’ve been secretly struggling with depression for years now and I didn’t get my job for about a year after he left so I just- I just laid around drinking all day.” He smiled and shook his head. “I’m great now though, guys. I haven’t suffered a depressive episode in almost two years, I’ve stayed sober, I haven’t suffered a bout of anorexia in three years, I’m really okay now.”
“Shit,” Hobi said, eyes wide. “Yoongi and I see you at least every six months and we never knew.”
“Taehyung only knows because we never got a few days without Skyping and it’s harder to hide all the time than once in a while.” Jimin nodded with a sad smile. “It got bad, but I’m okay.” He laughed a bit weakly. “Anybody else have any news?” he asked, trying to lighten the mood.
There was a long silence before Namjoon spoke. “Well if we’re confessing hard truths,” he said wryly. “I got divorced six months ago.”
“How are you?”
Namjoon smiled sadly. “I wasn’t great at first, but she just left and I never saw her again. Even got the divorce papers and all, she mailed them to the lawyer, and she gave me full custody of Zoe without even asking for visitation, so I was mostly really angry at her for doing that to Zoe.” His jaw clenched. “, It’s hard to feel heartbroken or miss someone when your three year old keeps crying and asking when Mommy will be home and you can’t explain 'mommy abandoned you' to her,” he said bitterly.
“Fuck her, then,” Yoongi said coldly.
Namjoon chuckled dryly. “I never saw it coming, but she just wanted money.” He shook his head. “I didn’t get her to sign a pre-nup because I was an idiot, so she got half of everything. I’m not broke now or anything, but I’m sure as hell not going to be able to sustain the life we had without touching the money I put away for Zoe and I’m not doing that. I’m moving back here so my mom can help look after Zoe. I finished my dissertation last month and I just have to fly back for the defense in few weeks, then I’ll be able to get a job.” He snorted. “Doing what, who knows. I can’t really work in diplomacy as a single father. I’m not traveling all the time and leaving her with my mom, my mom didn’t sign up for this.”
“Shit, Joonie-hyung,” Jimin said, eyes wide.
“You know if you need anything, we’ll help out,” Jin said, eyes sincere. “Don’t be a brat about it. If you need, I can get you guys a place to stay, no cost-“
“Stop that, you would give any of us the shirt off your back,” Jin argued.
“Why don’t you and Zoe stay with Jimin?” Taehyung offered suddenly. He smiled brightly. “Jimin’s been complaining that his apartment is too big for just him! We got a three-bedroom when we bought it because we wanted a guest room for when anybody stayed over. He’s got two empty bedrooms just sitting there.”
Jimin looked at Taehyung with a ‘what the hell?’ expression but Taehyung looked sparkly in the eyes, like he had a good idea. “I- I don’t mind if you do,” he said, going along with whatever Taehyung was up to. He smiled faintly. “They don’t have me traveling internationally, just staying here, so it wouldn’t be an inconvenience.”
Yoongi nodded. “And you know you can come work with us in a second,” he said, and Hoseok nodded firmly. “Jimin-ah doesn’t live far from the studio.”
Namjoon scoffed. “Oh come on, I haven’t written music in years-“
“I call bullshit on that one,” Taehyung said unapologetically. “Even if you’re not working on anything, you’ve always been like Yoongi-hyung, it’s how you get your thoughts straight.” He perked up some. “Hey, I don’t have anything lined up ahead of me, if you want, I can stick around and babysit Zoe while you and Jimin are working,” he offered. “You know I love babies and I’m really good with kids. I can crash at Kookie’s place since he’s going on tour,” he said, looking at Jungkook for confirmation, and Jungkook just smiled brightly and nodded.
“Yeah, then I don’t have to hire a house sitter,” he said. He smiled at Namjoon encouragingly. “Come on, Hyung, how much have you done for all of us as long as you’ve known us? We would do anything for you and Zoe.”
Jin smiled, cheeks a little pink. “And I would love a chance to hang out with Zoe and get used to kids, because, well.” He bit his lip. “I was going to wait until the end of the night so I didn’t steal anybody’s thunder, but I think I can go ahead and say it.” He held out his arms. “I’m going to be a dad,” he said, and everybody gasped and went crazy.
“OH MY GOD!”
“Whoa, I had no idea Minjae was pregnant when I saw her this afternoon!”
“That’s incredible, wow!”
Namjoon beamed, eyes a little twinkly. “You’re going to be an amazing father, Hyung,” he said, then got up from his seat to go drag Jin out of his and hug the crap out of him.
“Yeah, we’re lucky the wedding is in two months,” Jin said, laughing as he wiped at his eyes a bit, clearly emotional. “Getting a new wedding dress in such short time would have been a nightmare. She won’t be showing much yet so they can just alter hers. We’re both really excited,” he gushed.
“Of course you are,” Taehyung said, tears in his eyes. “Another baby!” He, too, leapt from his seat to go hug him. “Gah, I’m so jealous of you and Namjoon-hyung. I can’t wait to have kids.”
They all ended up in a group hug, laughing and shaking each other, smiling. Namjoon looked hopeful and Jimin’s heart was fuller than he had felt it in forever. He couldn’t believe he almost didn’t come and missed their oldest hyung’s big news. With a baby coming, Jimin would have an excuse to visit him more. With Namjoon moving back to Seoul, even if he didn’t choose to stay with Jimin, he could visit him more to see Zoe. If he did move in, maybe Yoongi and Hobi would come around more often. If Taehyung was really going to stick around a while to help out with Zoe, he wouldn’t have to wake up at weird times to Skype with him anymore.
Even if it wasn’t forever, Jimin felt like at least for a little while, his life wouldn’t be so empty anymore.