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Pink Princess Pig Seokjin

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[Seokjin Is a Useless Idol]

“I’m so done with this guy. Who the hell does he think he is? He’s an idol. How could he forget one of the most crucial parts of being a fucking-”

“Hey, watch it!” Hoseok cut Yoongi off before the older could go on a more elaborate rant spree. “Management messed up his room, he will be eating with us in a minute.”

Yoongi ogled Hoseok. “He what now?”

The door to their small hotel room opened and in came Taehyung and Jungkook. They looked worn out. Jungkook immediately fell down on the couch. Taehyung fell on top of him. Jungkook kicked him off. Laying on the ground and a letting out a grown, Taehyung didn’t make any effort to get up.

“I assume you just had a pleasant talk with the senior stage director,” Yoongi stated sarcastically.

Taehyung laughed like he wanted to cry or just make a noise so that everyone could understand how tired he felt.

“You haven’t talked to them yet?” Jungkook asked Yoongi, the assistant stage director. Yoongi shook his head. Jungkook shook his head defeated. “They went off on us. Seokjin didn’t practice his dance and the showcase is tomorrow morning. And now we get an earful on how we make the choreography too difficult. Like what the hell-”

“-last time the dance was too ‘easy-looking’,” Taehyung filled in, “and now it was too difficult for his majesty to learn. If he wasn’t so fucking lazy all the time, he would have the choreography down and we wouldn’t have to-”

“-That’s what I’m talking about, but Hoseok doesn’t want to listen. I’ve gotten text messages from the director threating to fire me,” Yoongi said looking sour.

“Again,” Hoseok added lowly.

Yoongi turned to him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Hoseok sighted. “I know that this is all shitty and not helping. But you’re not getting fired, Yoongi. None of us are. We’ve been here before and they don’t seem to want to lose us or-”

“-well, it is getting a little tiring, don’t you think?” Yoongi practically growled. From the couch and floor, the younger ones shifted at how the tension in their room started rise. “Princess fucks up, and we get to pay for it. I can’t afford to trust this to be some routine. My luck is going to run out. Don’t you dare suggest me to shrug this off as if it’s nothing.”

Hoseok clipped his lips. Responding now would not help anyone – not when Yoongi was not willing to listen; not when the crew was dealing with another one or Seokjin’s episodes. Everyone was just sensitive. None of this was personal.

“I’m sorry,” Hoseok said with a quiet voice. His eyes roamed over their room and he was struck with how there was only one immediate exit in the room. Clustered together like this, with little sleep and stressing management pestering them since they’re juniors, Hoseok estimated the possibility of them going insane to be promising. In a moment like this it didn’t feel like reaching. He shouldn’t take anything to heart that was being said in these conditions. It was all pure industry madness. “I understand your exhaustion,” Hoseok said timidly, “but please keep it to yourselves while Seokjin is here.”

Taehyung sat up. “He what now?”

On cue someone knocked on the door.

“It’s open,” Yoongi grunted loudly.

Jimin’s head popped in first. “You have been briefed on the situation?” Jimin asked politely. He instinctually eyed Hoseok, probably avoiding the hostile air coming from the rest of the crew. However, Jungkook and Taehyung put some effort into sitting in a more proper manner. Hoseok nodded to Jimin. Jimin opened the door more widely and ushered a masked tall figure inside. As the personal assistant of Seokjin, Jimin masterfully manoeuvred around the idol and took over his bag and coat. He carefully placed the items on the rest of the couch.

Seokjin stood there, sticking out like a sore thumb. He looked at the small room, at how the crew was in their sleeping clothes and work gear. There was a stark difference in how his designer clothes didn’t match the company provided merchandise Hoseok was sporting.

Seokjin bowed. “Thank you for accommodating me,” he said politely. He bowed once again.

Hoseok could see how Yoongi rolled his eyes and turned back to his phone.

Jimin shrugged off his own coat and bag and joined Seokjin in standing there awkwardly.

Hoseok belatedly got up and gestured to the beds. “You can sit here,” he quickly shoved away some lingering clothes and made room for the two. With the dancers sharing the couch, Yoongi at the desk and Seokjin and Jimin appointed to the bed, they formed a nice little circle that was open for one more person to join.

“Namjoon is supposed to be here in a couple of minutes,” Hoseok said as he resumed to his place on a chair next to Yoongi. “I told him to get food for the five of us, but I’m sure he went overboard so you won’t have to worry about food.”

Jimin smiled gratefully. “That’s very nice of you. I’m sure it will be enough since I’ll have to run and get Seokjin’s dinner separately. I’ll be back in a second.” Jimin placed a tender hand on Seokjin’s shoulder before leaving the room. Seokjin trailed his departure with his eyes as he was left alone in the room with a crew that was fed up with him.

Hoseok wondered whether Seokjin could sense the hostility. Sure, Taehyung and Jungkook would never dare to openly display their displeasure with the idol, but Yoongi was not shy. Yoongi was peering over at him from behind his phone.

“You must be busy,” Yoongi said something, as expected.

Seokjin turned to look at Yoongi, “Excuse-me?”

“I said-,” Yoongi started as he put down his phone.

“-Yoongi, come on. Don’t do this,” Hoseok muttered.

“-you must be busy,” Yoongi finished nonetheless.

Seokjin opened his mouth before slowly closing it again without saying anything. Maybe he just now realised that this junior crew he was facing were not just a bunch of regular general assistants. If Hoseok had to be completely honest, he felt a little starstruck being this close to the main idol. Sure, they had worked closely together, but never during break time. Never this close and with no true policy to follow. Hoseok had yet to see what kind of guy Seokjin was outside his stage persona.

“I see,” Seokjin said quietly. “You work closely with the performance director?”

“We’re part of his crew, yeah,” Yoongi responded.

Seokjin nodded and adverted his eyes. He looked more uncomfortable than before. He nodded once again, a weaker form of a bow Hoseok noted. “I apologise for not practising the dance well.”

If Yoongi's face was anything to go by, he had not expected an apology from Seokjin.

“Why are you apologising?” Yoongi asked annoyed, “It doesn’t change anything. How are we supposed to do our jobs when we can’t trust you to do yours?”

Hoseok sighted exasperated. Seokjin seemed speechless. “You don’t seem to worry about losing your job anymore, do you?” Hoseok asked Yoongi rhetorically.

Yoongi shrugged and slouched back in his chair. “Does it matter? Honestly, how can it get any worse?”

Seokjin shifted in his place, not resting his eyes on one spot. Taehyung and Jungkook were sending each other strange looks. “Don’t listen to him,” Taehyung offered to Seokjin.

Seokjin didn’t seem to hear him. He was drawn in on himself and Hoseok could imagine him wanting to be anywhere but here. “This was a mistake,” Seokjin muttered. He lifted his gaze and challenged Yoongi with a look. “I apologise,” Seokjin said earnestly, “I mean it. I will work harder in the future and be more considerate of-”

A loud thud against the door interrupted Seokjin’s apology and made all heads turn. It was followed by more thudding and Taehyung was the first one to get up. He opened the door and was met by a pile of convenience store bags and a flustered looking Namjoon. He seemed to be balancing drinks on top of the food in one hand against his chest. His other holding four bags that seemed ready to tear. Taehyung moved fast and helped the general assistant get inside.

“My gosh,” Namjoon grumbled. “I just had to go past the seniors to get a key card, you know,” Namjoon mumbled while trying to both set the food down and get out of his coat. Taehyung tried helping him where needed, but it all looked like a clumsy mess. “And Jin’s assistant was having a fight over his dinner. So crazy. They’re probably still mad that Jin didn’t practise his dance, right? The atmosphere alone makes me want to jump out- oompf… what was that for?” Taehyung had swatted at Namjoon who clearly hadn’t noticed Seokjin being in the room. When his eyes fell on the idol, did his mouth shape like an oval. “Seokjin,” Namjoon said for good measure. Hoseok would hit the guy on the head, if he didn’t know that Namjoon got himself in enough trouble as it was.

“Yes,” Jungkook said with a strained smile, “He’s eating with us. Jimin will be here in a second too.”

Namjoon frowned. “Why though- oompf!” Hoseok nodded gratefully at Taehyung. “I mean, awesome. I brought a lot of food,” Namjoon said forcefully. Together with Taehyung he put down the bags and drinks in the centre of the circle. “There should be enough for everyone.”

There was a knock on the door before Jimin appeared looking a little grim. His eyes fell on the food being displayed on the ground by Namjoon and Taehyung, and then quickly travelled to the box he was holding in his hand; Seokjin’s dinner.

“Alright, everyone,” Namjoon said holding an container for himself and sitting satisfied on the floor – seemingly unabashed by Seokjin’s presence – he gestured at the pile of food and drinks, “dig in.”

Food was shared easily as the crew knew each other’s preferences after working a few months together. Hoseok had been right; there was enough for at least seven people – “The company is paying, why should I be economical?” Namjoon had said. Jungkook had prepared two containers for both Seokjin and Jimin. He must have missed how Jimin had defeatedly handed Seokjin the box holding his dinner. As it turned out, Hoseok spotted grapes inside the box. It seemed ridiculous. Even Seokjin did a double take and had to look at Jimin for confirmation. Jimin had shrugged, Seokjin didn’t press. Jimin politely accepted the offered food from Jungkook, leaving the younger frowning at how Seokjin’s container was left ignored. Seokjin carefully plucked a grape from the bunch, the rest of them proceeded to eat the smelly greasy food.

Hoseok tried to strike up a conversation. Taehyung joined him, understanding the effort, but it died down pretty quickly. As it turned out, the elephant in the room was simply waiting to be pointed out. Trust either Yoongi or Namjoon to do this job. The former doing so with calculated intention, the latter out of impulsive curiosity.

“Say, why aren’t you guys eating with the other staff members?” Namjoon asked around his can of beer. He craned his neck to look up at Seokjin and Jimin.

Seokjin didn’t look up. He gently pressed another grape against his lips before parting them.

Jimin carefully noted how Seokjin decided to ignore Namjoon’s question. “It was pretty crowded there,” Jimin answered.

Yoongi snorted unimpressed. “And you want to say it isn’t here? He got his own room assigned to him and yet-” Yoongi didn’t even bother to address Seokjin directly.

“-there had been some security problems,” Jimin tried to appease.

“We understand,” Hoseok jumped in.

“Do we?” Yoongi muttered.

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry to be an inconvenience to you,” Seokjin spoke up. “I owe you an explanation.”

“You don’t have to-”

“No, no,” Yoongi cut Hoseok off. “Let him speak.”

Seokjin briefly looked up, seemingly shying away from Yoongi’s glare. He focussed back on his grapes as if trying to not stray away by looking at the delicious smelling food in the room. “My hotel room information got leaked,” he tells, “Fans are already in the building and with the death threat still not being properly taken care off, I was told to change rooms”

Hoseok saw how Jungkook started to look more guiltily at his food. Losing appetite like everyone else.

“Then where are you going to sleep?” Hoseok asked, actually wondering how management was going to solve this. He casted Namjoon a look. “Are they booking a different room, or something?”

Namjoon massaged his neck in a way that Hoseok had come to understand to be a disguise for his unease. “With what I’ve been hearing, I’m not sure. There is still this Vlive that PR wants to be done by tonight.” It was already nearing eleven.

Seokjin nodded. “Don’t worry. I won’t sleep here, or take your place. I’ll work in the general room. I just...” he let go of the grape he had aimed to eat. “I needed a place to eat.”

“Well, we got food,” Taehyung said somewhat more chipper than necessary. It made Seokjin look up and Hoseok also frowned upon hearing the tone. “We got loads of food. Why don’t you take some of ours. It’s delicious.”

Hoseok wanted to say many things to that. It was more than obvious that Seokjin didn’t eat along because of his diet. For Taehyung to rub it in like that, surely could not sit so well with the idol.

“Oh,” Seokjin said, “That’s very nice of you but I have my grapes, which-”

“One cheat day won’t be that bad, Seokjin,” Jimin said matching the same energy level as Taehyung. “No one will notice.”

“I really shouldn’t,” Seokjin said, though he seemed to be considering it.

“No one will tell,” Jungkook added, holding up a bowl of rice.

“I can’t just…” Seokjin was eying the bowl with tempered lust, but as he lost track of his sentence he seemed to forget where he was. His shoulders finally relaxing, his pose ignoring how the attention in the room had been shifted towards him. “I can’t… take your food like that,” after saying that he looked up, casted Yoongi a brief look before resigning to his grapes. He didn’t trust them, Hoseok noted. He didn’t trust them to not tell on him.

Hoseok couldn’t blame him.

Jungkook looked pitiful with the bowl of unwanted rice. “Well, for when you change your mind,” he placed the bowl near Seokjin and focused back on his food.

Seokjin didn’t.

 

[Another Showcase, Another Waiting Room pt.1]

Jungkook and Taehyung were put in the corner of the bustling waiting room. They were still in their work-out gear because something had gone wrong with the wardrobe. The stylists have been freaking out, but too afraid to address the stage director. The stage director had been chewing of Seokjin’s ears for nearly half an hour. Jungkook couldn’t follow exactly what is was all about, but it seemed to be about a previous stage. Hoseok had briefly mentioned in the car that some of Seokjin’s stage bloopers were going viral again. The pressure of this upcoming stage was present in how the tension in the room didn’t seem to lower any time soon. The staff was fretting over Seokjin’s appearance – the mics, outfit, make-up, card ques – but no one cared to look at Jungkook and Taehyung. Yoongi had already tried to refocus the attention of the stage director to somewhat more pressing matters, but he had been quickly shut down with a quick “fuck off!”.

Seokjin was seated in the middle of the room on a chair looking at the ground. His head was slightly tilted to the one side, as if to avoid the yelling voice of the stage director comming from the other side. “I told Jimin to show you the clips, but I bet he didn’t do that, did he?” that was a rhetorical question, the stage director loved those. “I’m not like Jimin, you understand? I won’t sugar-coat anything. You need to understand that the level you’re performing at right now is too low to even be considered worth stage material. You understand that? Do you even get what we’re all trying to do here? We’re busting our nuts to get you to look as presentable as you can get, but all we get in return is…” like this it been going on for half an hour. Looking at the time made Jungkook feel anxious.

“I wonder what happened,” Taehyung said quietly next to Jungkook.

“What do you mean?” Jungkook asked, not taking his eyes off the director and Seokjin.

“They are never this agitated over small fuck ups like this,” Taehyung elaborated, “What happened for them to be this pissed?”

Jungkook shrugged, “I’m not sure, but…” the make up artists stepped backwards as the stage director hit Seokjin on the head. Nothing new, really, but it put the room on edge. The stage director continued spewing nonsense, unleashing his own frustrations out on Seokjin. “I heard he didn’t show up for vocal practice yesterday,” Jungkook reasoned.

“Yeah, he tends to do that,” Taehyung muttered.

Jungkook nodded.

“… and you think you could make your family proud by posing as the lazy pig that never-”

“Could you please be quiet?” Seokjin lashed out at the stage director and cut the senior mid-sentence. All eyes were immediately, and now pointedly, on him. His cheeks were red and his eyes too. “I get that I messed up last time, but pestering me about it literately ten minutes before my stage isn’t going to help. Just please be quiet and get angry at me afterwards, would you?”

The stage director was thrown off. The make-up artists didn’t resume their work, clearly wanting to stay outside the crossfire. If the slowly changing look on Seokjin’s face said anything, it was that he was regretting what he had just done.

“You, pig-Seokjin, make me sick,” the stage director spat. With that, the director stepped back and left the waiting room, muttering something along the lines of “fucking idols need to understand their place these days”.

Seokjin clearly deflated in on himself. He placed his hand over his face to cover himself from all the attention, but his hand got quickly swatted away as the make-up artists resumed their task. It put things back into motion and Yoongi got up on a chair, attracting the attention in the room. With the senior stage director gone, it was his turn to step in.

“Okay, listen up everyone,” Yoongi said with his shrill voice over small room, looking slightly jarred by the scene that just took place. “We only got five more minutes left. Can someone from PR go talk with the stationed stage directors and buy us some time-” someone nodded and immediately left the room, “and I don’t know where the first stylist went to, but I had sent them to go look for the dancers’ clothes, but they aren’t back yet, go figure that out-” no one really moved, and Yoongi rolled his eyes, “Namjoon, that’s your cue.”

Namjoon got up, “Right, right,” he muttered, “when no one wants to do it, I do it.” With that he left the room.

“There was some issue with the backing vocals and track,” Yoongi continued, “has that been solved?” Someone said yes. Yoongi clapped satisfied. “Good. Then we only need someone to have a look at our dancers and make them stage ready. I’m headed to the backstage because the mics are working…?” “They aren’t.” “Exactly, what I thought. Then you come with me,” Yoongi said to the person who reacted and got off the chair. The two left the room.

Jungkook and Taehyung got swarmed by stylists and were finally given the care they needed as Seokjin’s back up dancers.

“Where are Hoseok and Jimin, anyways?” Taehyung asked lowly.

“Meetings,” Jungkook responded terse.

 

[Jimin at Work]

Jimin blinked twice as he was shoved the altered schedule. The project manager and PR coordinators were not batting an eye. Jimin briefly eyed Hoseok who was sitting on the second row, keeping his mouth sealed. “Have any of you even read the report that I made?” Jimin asked trying to keep his annoyance under the lid.

The meeting mediator went through his pages. “Yes, of course. It’s part of the briefing.”

“Then why is graduation day still filled with schedule?” Jimin asked pointedly.

One of the seniors sighted in a way that made Jimin understand that he wasn’t being taken serious.

“There is an award show on that day,” a coordinator responded.

“There isn’t,” Jimin countered and pointed at the date in question on the schedule. “It is a potential schedule. We aren’t even sure whether we’ll attend on that specific day, while we know for sure that the graduation ceremony will take place on-”

“-enough, Jimin,” the director of the company said at the head of the table. “We get that you care a lot about Jin, you don’t need to prove it.”

“It’s our job to guide him in the best way possible, isn’t it?” Jimin responded with as much respect as he could muster. “The fact that we hold this meeting when he has an event goes to show that you don’t put enough effort in involving him in core career directions when you-”

“As if he would have showed up, huh?” the director bit back where it mattered and Jimin realised that he had to watch how he reacted very carefully. “Tell me, Jimin, what is going on? I thought that I could trust you.”

“You can,” Jimin said.

“Then what is this?” the director mused, “Why is it that I’m hearing from different managers and coordinators that your boy is not attending his schedule and cancels last minute? You only got one real job here, Jimin – don’t overestimate your importance. Why can’t you get him to be where he’s supposed to be? Because if you can’t, we can find someone else-”

“-that won’t be necessary, director,” Jimin interrupted. The director merely tutted his lips.

“You always make it seem like we don’t care about him, but we do. I do. I even wanted him to talk to a doctor or something, but he bailed on that too! It’s starting to concern me.”

“You don’t need to worry,” Jimin said without much thought. The only thing he wanted to do was appease the director from any wrong lingering thoughts on Seokjin, but after saying what he just said, he saw on the look of the director’s face that he made a mistake.

“Oh,” the director said.

“I mean-”

“Are you willing to share what is going on?”

“There is nothing.”

“Really?”

“Truly.”

The director raised an question seeking eyebrow.

Jimin opted to stay silent. Despite the glaring seniors and the frowning look on Hoseok’s face did he not wither. He refrained from looking away and held the piercing look of the director. He owed Seokjin this much.

 

[Namjoon’s Findings]

Namjoon walked in on Seokjin laying down in an empty practise room. He had been given the task to go check around the building and see whether the lights and doors were off and closed liked they should be. Truly, being a general assistant was all about grinding his teeth whilst nodding politely at his seniors who gave him the most tedious jobs.

This was not that bad though. The day was coming to an end. The building was still alive on the lower floors where producers and concept artists did all-nighters. The dancers, administration related staff, PR and marketing had already left. Crews of artists were also known to make long days, especially when big showcases were following back to back. Currently, as part of Seokjin’s crew, they were in the midst of comeback season. Today was however an exceptional day. They had decided to start fairly early – 5 am, it was worth crying over – and got to end earlier. It was almost nine, but that was early. Namjoon had Taehyung waiting for him downstairs in the lobby and told him he would be ready within a couple of minutes. That had been a lie – it would be something close to half an hour. Taehyung knew this and Namjoon knew he knew  – the lie was just something nice to say.

When Namjoon entered another practice room – the lights were still on – he got surprised by what he found.

“Why is that when you’re in a car and look at the wheels of other cars passing by, it seems like their wheels are turning backwards?” Seokjin talked to the ceiling laying down and hadn’t turned to see who had entered the room. Namjoon wondered whether he would have spoken like this if he had seen who he was talking to. “It’s not my eyesight, you know,” Seokjin continued talking. Without giving it much thought, Namjoon stepped inside the room and got closer to Seokjin. He carefully sat down before also laying down on the ground. His head close to Seokjin’s. Looking up, Namjoon found a white ceiling with irritating fluorescent lighting, it was an uninteresting view and he could not find something that would have sparked such a question. “I was afraid that my eyesight was damaged when I noticed it, but the driver told me that he sees it like that too,” Seokjin mused on.

Namjoon frowned. He felt only a little bit guilty for not immediately making himself known. He was curious, that was all. And the conversation seemed harmless enough. “Straight up looking at fluorescent lighting is probably not good for your eyesight, though,” Namjoon muttered.

He heard quick shifting north from him. Craning his neck, Namjoon saw Seokjin sitting up and looking surprised at him.

“I did not know you were-”

“-I see the wheels turn backwards too,” Namjoon cut him off before Seokjin would somehow find a reason to apologise. “I hadn’t always, though.”

It was quiet for a while, then more shifting. Seokjin was back on his back.

“I also only realised it now,” Seokjin said. This time he talked a little more quiet, cautious as if he was testing the waters.

“My eyesight is not that perfect, though,” Namjoon offered.

“I don’t see you wearing any glasses,” Seokjin countered

Namjoon shrugged – which was a little strange laying down like this. “When I start running into walls you will see me wearing them.”

Seokjin chuckled.

Later Namjoon got up, told Seokjin he had some work to do. Seokjin nodded and said he was waiting on Jimin before getting dinner. That piece of information gave Namjoon an idea. “Why don’t you guys join us? Taehyung is – hopefully still – in the lobby waiting for me to finish. We can all eat together.” Seokjin looked surprised, maybe even a little uneasy.

“I don’t want to impose like last time,” he said massaging his neck.

Namjoon shrugged. “You’re not imposing. I’m inviting you.”

That was when Jimin walked in. When he heard the plan and looked exited, Seokjin quickly came to a decision. “I guess we could join.”

-

 

There were three takeaways after dinner with both Seokjin and Jimin, Namjoon found after two rounds of alcoholic beverages:

  1. Jimin gets along well with Taehyung.
  2. Seokjin has a lame sense of humour, which only Jimin really likes
  3. Seokjin hates the colour pink.

 

[Yoongi Is a Distracted Hypocrite]

“You know,” Yoongi hesitated, not knowing whether he wanted to out himself as a hypocrite. It was Hoseok he was talking to, so the backlash wouldn’t be all too bad. “I’m can’t help but start to feel sorry for princess,” Yoongi confessed. After having the senior stage director being fired and Yoongi primarily taking over their role, he had been exposed more closely to Seokjin’s work methods. There was something about the way in how the core crew acted as if their life depended on every single stage, performance or mere appearance. It was so intense, that Yoongi sometimes got caught up in it. There was only one end goal – only one side that would determine their success or failure – and that was the satisfaction of the audience. The company wanted good results, so Yoongi wanted good results too. There seemed to be a lack of passion for sincerity, only room for striving for good reception. Sometimes Yoongi had to take a step back, look around him and wonder whether he hadn’t gone too far. Some of the staff had gone too far, he was certain of this. The way some of them would talk about Seokjin – the lack of humanity when discussing Seokjin’s schedule. Seokjin was a human being, but in the midst of it all, Yoongi had seen some of the crew forget this. The mean words being slurred at Seokjin to do better, to sing higher, to stop messing up, to not be so nervous – as if those words would fuel their success guarantee, as if hitting someone on the head would somehow make the engine work. Seokjin in his defence would lash out too. This endless stream of conflict between core crew and Seokjin seemed unhealthy from afar, but now being in the middle of it, Yoongi knew it to be sickening. “I just… the guy probably just wanted to become famous, you know. He saw the idols on tv, knew he had a good face and now he’s in this… this crazy world. I don’t think this is what he wanted,” Yoongi continued.

Hoseok had stopped giving the game on the television attention. He played with his glass filled with beer and tutted his lips. Contemplating, Yoongi observed, he had something to share. In the crowded bar mostly occupied by men older than them, Yoongi could imagine them meeting here after a long time. He knew how the crews in this industry were hardly there to stay, especially junior crews. His friendship with Hoseok, Namjoon and even Taehyung and Jungkook was all thanks to the company, thanks to Seokjin’s act. But once they would grow out of their junior positions, Yoongi was certain that the guys would go places beyond the idol in question who would have to enlist soon enough. They will lose each other out of sight, and after that maybe meet once or twice a month, and in the end only on very special occasions. His presence to Hoseok would be replaced by someone else – maybe someone Hoseok would not hesitate to share his thoughts with.

“He didn’t want this,” Hoseok offered at last. Yoongi waited for him to elaborate. Hoseok stopped playing with his beer and looked at Yoongi. With his frown and pout in place, it would seem like Hoseok was angry, but Yoongi knew better. “His ma made him audition at a very young age. I don’t think he wanted any of this, and still doesn’t.”

Yoongi huffed. “Woah, parenting…”

Hoseok nodded. “And the way he skips schedule…. It made me wonder. At first I was worried for Jimin.”

Yoongi frowned. “Why? What did Jimin do?”

Hoseok shrugged, maybe even looking a little embarrassed. “Jimin is always covering for him, right? It’s his job to get Seokjin everywhere, so he must know what Seokjin does when he bails. And Jimin is not willing to share anything – I was at the meeting last time – so I wondered… what if Seokjin somehow… you know”

“You mean that princess is forcing Jimin to keep quiet?” Yoongi filled in.

Hoseok shrugged. “It’s stupid, probably not true… but on occasions it seems like it. All that Seokjin does is making Jimin’s life harder. I don’t understand why Jimin puts up with that.”

Yoongi nodded. He had seen it. The crew liked to curse at how frustrating Seokjin’s absence was, but they also liked to drag Jimin with him. Yoongi cannot deny that he had never wondered why Jimin couldn’t manage having the idol at the right place on the right time – was it really that hard to get a reluctant idol to cooperate? “Drugs,” Yoongi said without a thought.

Hoseok laughed surprised. “What?”

“It’s something illegal,” Yoongi offered, “Jimin somehow got involved and now there is no turning back.”

Hoseok full-out laughed at this point. Yoongi had a smile lingering on his lips.

“I swear to the god of entertainment, if it turns out to be drugs I will look for that drug and use it excessively,” Hoseok said before taking a swift gulp of his beer.

Yoongi laughed along, but his laugh quickly died down. “Don’t worry, Hoseok-”

Hoseok mumbled a curse. “-I swear, if you’re going to say-”

“-this is showbiz,” Yoongi shot Hoseok a lazy smile. The younger cursed before taking more sips from his beer. As Yoongi observed him, he felt something ache in his chest. It felt like he was witnessing youth slowly but surely losing its purity. Sure Hoseok was not that much younger than him, but like the other juniors on the crew, he wondered why Hoseok wanted to be in the industry – why was he himself even in the industry? This career path had never been part of his plan. Though, he didn’t decline when the opportunities had been laid out for him. Turning his attention on the rest made him wonder. But you wouldn’t get much more knowledge on anyone’s motivation here – getting close with people was not in the books. Yoongi saw Namjoon tactlessly inviting everyone and everything to hang out after work, he saw how desperately the younger ones enjoyed such company. The embittered seniors could only glare. Yoongi found himself doing the same. The care that Hoseok displayed for Jimin was just as innocent as Namjoon’s antics, but the way Hoseok was chugging down his beer whilst joking about doing drugs was something else. Something a little more dreary.

“Namjoon had dinner with Seokjin and Jimin, you know,” Hoseok suddenly shared.

Yoongi raised his eyebrows. “Seriously? The general assistant is climbing up the ladder, huh.”

Hoseok shrugged. “He likes making friends.”

“I guess if management gets really fed up, Namjoon will take over Jimin’s role,” Yoongi mused out loud.

Hoseok pouted his lips. “Namjoon said that this is only an internship for him, though,” Hoseok offered.

“Didn’t we all?”

“He also said that Seokjin was quit cool.”

Yoongi snorted. “He was probably just starstruck.”

Hoseok laughed humourlessly this time. “Probably, yeah.”

 

[Black and Blue Pt.2]

Taehyung could feel the tension in the room after merely breathing for two seconds in the general practise room. Directors, dancers, managers and other staff members were all sitting or standing along the walls of the room, leaving a big empty spot in the middle where rehearsals should be done. Nothing was happening. Almost everyone was on their phone, whispering over the music softly playing in the background. Giving the room a brief look made Taehyung notice Yoongi and Hoseok sitting closely together.  Taehyung quietly shuffled further in the room and planted himself between Namjoon and Jungkook.

“Let me guess,” Taehyung whispered. “He’s late? He cancelled?” Taehyung had no real right to complain, as he was also late today. He had been ready to receive an earful from the managers, but no one paid him attention.

Namjoon shook his head. “He was only a little late, but the company director called him to his office. The director said it wouldn’t take too long, but we’ve been waiting for almost forty minutes now.”

Jimin suddenly entered the room. His eyes were wild and his posture was anything but calm. His presence attracted all the attention the room. He bowed quickly before forcing himself in an adequate pose. “Apologies for the delay, but-”

“-oh no,” Yoongi got up, the script in his hands raising as his voice did too, “are you going to cancel? Is he going to-”

“-Seokjin just fell,” Jimin informed. Yoongi’s mouth fell open. Taehyung could feel himself doing the same thing. “-we’re going to a GP to see how serious it is. So-”

“-we have crew members with medical qualifications, can’t we first-”

“-on his behalf and my own, we are so sorry,” Jimin continued and ignored Yoongi. Something was seriously off.

“And the upcoming schedule then?” a senior manager asked clearly grumpy and joined Yoongi by raising his script and pointing at Jimin.

Jimin bowed again. “Apologies,” he muttered, “but if it’s too serious he will have to take a break and-”

“-Oh fuck off,” the senior threw the script at Jimin. It landed at his feet, but the implication was clear. Jimin looked down at it, his shoulders taut and near his ears, he had flinched. Then, very quietly, the door to the room opened again. Dressed in a pink sweater and sporting large black sunglasses came in the idol. He ignored the tension, walked over to Jimin and picked up the script. He took it to the grumpy senior. He handed the script in a deep bow.

“Apologies for the delay,” Seokjin said. He got up and gave a big smile and turned to the room. “Don’t worry everyone,” he said with scripted enthusiasm, “we can continue as scheduled.”

Jimin was not looking happy, he eyed Seokjin with a glare that was strategically ignored. Seokjin got the room moving as everyone unfroze from their surprise and got to their work. One of the coordinators got out a camera to film the rehearsal, partially for evaluation and partially for fanservice. Upon seeing the camera Seokjin quickly turned and gestured at Jimin. Jimin, despite his unhappy look got the hint. He walked over to the coordinator and demanded, loud enough for everyone else to hear, to not shoot at the moment.

There was something unnerving about the way Seokjin’s happy demeaner was totally different from the way Taehyung had experienced him when Namjoon had somehow arranged for them and Jimin to have dinner together. From the way his voice sounded and his shoulders were tense the entire time – Taehyung did not like what he was seeing. Or rather what he was not seeing behind the dark sunglasses.

Everything went as well as it could be expected. Taehyung and Jungkook got to do their part during the rehearsal, showing what solution they came up with for a part that didn’t go well in previous show cases. The seniors were in a timid mood, probably not understanding how to react to the bubbly Seokjin with sunglasses indoors. Taehyung felt the same way. He had seen Hoseok shooting Jimin concerned looks. Taehyung was doing so towards Seokjin.

During break, Seokjin would usually sit with some of the dancers or coordinators, but this time he got cornered by Jimin. Taehyung was sitting close enough and could hear what Jimin was mumbling. Things like “why don’t you listen? You need to see a doctor” and “it will only get worse like this” and “you don’t owe anyone anything. You don’t need to prove yourself.” To which Seokjin said, “Yes, I do.”

Were they really going to ignore the elephant in the room?

“Taehyung stop staring,” Jungkook hissed next to him and shoved his water bottle in Taehyung’s hands. Jungkook was right of course, but Taehyung started to feel a little sick at how everyone seemed to act so normal.

“This isn’t right, Jungkook,” Taehyung muttered not being able to take a sip from his water. Jimin and Seokjin were still whispering and arguing. “We should tell Yoongi, or Hoseok, they can talk to the seniors-”

“-They’re here already, they saw everything. Nothing is going to really change,” Jungkook said with little emotion. Looking at him made Taehyung wonder how he could sound so unaffected. “It doesn’t matter,” Jungkook said softly this time, “just forget about it.”

“Okay, okay, Jimin,” Seokjin said next to them sighting, “Just give me a bunch of painkillers and then we can end this rehearsal a bit earlier. A compromise, yeah? Are you cool with that?”

A few moments later, Jimin announced that the rehearsal would be cut short. No one, not even the grumpy senior, complained. Everyone nodded, everyone understood.

-

 

Yoongi was the last one in the practise room, making sure everything was closed accordingly. Normally, Namjoon would have to do this, but Namjoon was in a hurry. He had to find dinner before joining staff for some night schedule. Yoongi didn’t fully understand what Namjoon would be doing, but part of the crew had to go location shooting at night, so why not bring a general assistant along?

Right before Yoongi switched off the lights, the door swung open. Jimin stepped in, both his hands filled with bags and a wardrobe pieces. He was already wearing his jacket and probably ready to go, yet-

“Sorry, were you already done here?” Jimin asked quickly, “I’m looking for a flask. It’s red and I had it during rehearsal but I must have forgotten it somewhere-”

Yoongi moved and opened his bag. He fished the red item out. “-I was about to drop it at the front desk.”

Jimin smiled relieved. “I’m glad you found it,” Jimin accepted the flask with some difficulty and Yoongi hesitated offering to help. “I was about to go out and leave it here. Thank you so much.”

Yoongi shook his head and held the door open as they left the room. “Don’t thank me.” After making sure the lights were off and the door was locked Yoongi eyed the direction Jimin was headed towards. “You’re going to the garage?”

Jimin turned and nodded. Yoongi made up his mind and joined Jimin. He offered his hands and beckoned Jimin. “Hand me some of the bags, I’ll help you out.”

Jimin seemed perplexed – not moving at all and only staring. Yoongi refrained from rolling his eyes and took over some of the bags and lead the way. “Thank you, thank you,” Jimin muttered behind him as they made their way out of the department. Yoongi shrugged. He understood that Jimin would feel  a little awkward sharing space with him, what with how many times Yoongi had complained at him.

As they approached the elevator the silence began to bother Yoongi. Jimin was very collected. Dealing with people like Yoongi was his life nonetheless. Yoongi wanted to earnestly scream at how the younger could be so cool at such a young age. But Yoongi had to stay professional. If Jimin could be stone faced, than he too. “So,” Yoongi said as they entered the elevator. Jimin pushed the buttons. “Do you think that during the next group rehearsal or recording a coordinator can film behind the scenes?”

Jimin looked up but stayed quiet before he responded. Thinking before speaking. “Yes,” Jimin said with a clipped voice, “Of course. We’ll make it happen.”

“If you say so,” Yoongi said aimlessly, but the way it came out sounded more hostile than he intended.

“It’s not what you think, you know,” Jimin said at that. Yoongi only raised an eyebrow. “Seokjin was prepared to work hard today. He wore the pink sweater because he knows that PR wants to push this image.”

“Oh,” Yoongi said surprised at hearing this, “thoughtful.”

“Yes,” Jimin agreed. They reached the garage level. “Thank you for accompanying me, I’ll take it from-”

“-no,” Yoongi said stubbornly tightly holding the bags, “I’ll help you carry them all the way.”

Jimin sighted at this, but didn’t protest. They walked in the same silence as before and Yoongi felt like he should say something. Apologise for his outburst during rehearsal maybe?

“I don’t hate you,” Yoongi opted for. The tactless words were left hanging as Jimin slowed down before a car.

“Excuse-me?” Jimin asked.

Yoongi shrugged and joined Jimin by the car. “I know that we can sometimes be on your back when we’re sensitive, but I don’t hate you. I respect the work you do.”

This evoked a small pout on Jimin’s lips. Jimin ducked his head and if his hands were free he would have shoved them in his face. “Oh,” Jimin said and the professional look was back – though Yoongi spotted some colour on his cheeks. “That is very kind of you, Yoongi.”

Yoongi nodded, then he nodded at the car. He didn’t want to dwell in this new territory too long. “Is this your car?”

Jimin nodded. “Really, you can just drop everything here, and I’ll sort it out. You’ve helped enou-”

The passenger door opened. Yoongi saw a flash off pink before he saw who it was.

“Gosh, Jimin! Hear this: I just got an email on my score for last week’s test and I…” Seokjin’s voice trailed off when he saw that Jimin wasn’t alone. He had been focused on his phone, not seeing that Yoongi was standing a little off side, holding his bags. The smile that had been on his face faltered tremendously, and like this, with the surprise clear on his face, the dark blue mark surrounding his right eye was just plain ugly. Seokjin looked down as if feeling Yoongi’s glare on his face, as if looking for his sunglasses. “Director,” Seokjin said curtly.

Yoongi merely nodded. Some things started to make a lot more sense now.

Jimin let go of his bags and placed himself in front of Seokjin, and shot Yoongi a polite smile. He extended his hands towards the  Yoongi was holding. “Thank you for your help, Yoongi. I’ll take it from here.” Jimin tried to cover it up, but Yoongi had heard what he had. Seeing the glaring mark on Seokjin’s face was unneeded, given that the Gestalt Principle was effective even in this case. What mattered where Seokjin’s words.

Yoongi shot Jimin the same fake smile. He gave the younger the bags and waved uncannily his hand. “I guess, I’ll get going then.”

“Thank you, once again,” Jimin said. He opened his mouth and Yoongi waited, but nothing came out. Yoongi could guess what Jimin wanted to say. Yoongi knew that sooner or later Jimin would contact him, just not now – not when Seokjin was right behind them looking like the most saddest idol in the industry.

Yoongi stepped back from the two guys. “Bye,” he said and made move.

-

 

So, Yoongi had been wrong. It was nothing illegal… far from it.

-

 

It took two weeks for the bruise around Seokjin’s eye to fade. Fans noticed something, and Seokjin told in a cute social media post that he had been clumsy and hit his face with his own fist while dancing. The make-up artists had dutifully covered all traces for every recording and performance, and the stylists favoured outfits that were complimented with glasses. Seokjin was un-characteristically on time and didn’t skip schedule. At the time schools were also on a break.

 

[A Favour]

Jungkook considered Yoongi’s words. Seokjin had bailed again and Jungkook had been close to snapping. It had been a tiring day, the new stage director was more stricter than possible and for the first time in ever had his dance been heavily criticised. Taehyung seemed to not care that much, but for Jungkook it did not sit well. This morning during rehearsals, a sheepish looking Jimin entered the studio firstly reassuring that Seokjin had learned his dance, and then as expected following that statement by informing the crew that Seokjin could sadly not make it.

“College?” Jungkook repeated Yoongi. Yoongi was lounging on his bed, one out of the three beds in the room he shared with Hoseok and Namjoon. Taehyung and Jungkook had joined them per invite of Namjoon. They had eaten their food and were ready to go to bed. The hotel was one out three hotels for the award show of the next day – it was meant for the staff, while other hotels were meant for the artists and actors. “What do you mean college?”

Yoongi shrugged and looked a little unsure. “It would make sense, right? When I saw him in the car he was talking about the score of a test.”

“That could mean anything, though,” Taehyung countered.

“Yeah, not really. What else could he be doing outside of this? There was this big fight sometime last year when they made him pull out of college.”

Hoseok frowned. “Jimin had been pushing for the graduation ceremony during that meeting?”

Yoongi nodded, “It seems strange at first; you know how it is. Idols getting diploma’s is a myth. Whether he attends classes or not, the company will make sure he gets a diploma. Jimin pushing for graduation like that seems petty, almost pathetic – it’s embarrassing to show up for something you haven’t truly earned. But now, if Seokjin does attend classes… it would make a whole lot more sense.”

“But this doesn’t add up, though,” Namjoon said with a frown. “We’re in Japan right now. If what you say is true and school is the reason why he wasn’t here this morning, then how can he be Japan and attend classes in Seoul at the same time?”

“Online classes?” Taehyung offered, having spent the entire conversation eyeing the crew with close attention. Hoseok looked like he was ready to believe Yoongi.

“No,” Yoongi said, “tell me; have any of you seen Seokjin today?”

Jungkook raised an eyebrow. “You want to tell us that Seokjin is still in Korea?”

There was a knock on the door.

For a moment Jungkook felt small, like when his parents used to check up on him to see whether he was truly sleeping. Like this, huddled together in a room gossiping about things that they shouldn’t care about, he felt like he was doing something prohibited. They all turned their attention towards the door and watched how Namjoon opened it.

“Hi, Namjoon. Can we talk? I hope it’s not too late,” that was Jimin.

-

 

For a second it seemed like Jimin was appalled by seeing the entire crew in the room after being let in. That little frown on his face changed however when he set his eyes on Yoongi. Jungkook had heard how Yoongi said that Jimin would come and ask him something eventually, he just didn’t believe the elder. Yet here Jimin was, looking determined to get something. He didn’t sit down at he gestured spot next to Namjoon on the bed. Jimin just stood there, eyeing everyone. For a moment Jungkook believed he would bow. He didn’t. He sighted and looked a little too young for the bags underneath his eyes.

“I…” Jimin paused and avoided the eyes of everyone as he looked at the ground. Looking for courage? “I’m actually glad to find all of you here together. It seems to me that you are all very good friends of each other.”

Some of them shrugged. Namjoon nodded, and after seeing him doing so, Jungkook nodded too.

“I am here to ask you for a favour,” Jimin offered, “it has to do with Seokjin’s absence during schedule. I cannot say more than this, I first need to know whether you are open to do something… off the books.”

“That’s a little bit too much, don’t you think, Jimin?” Yoongi asked with what Jungkook had come to learn as mild sarcasm – it may sound mean, but Jungkook knew he could get meaner. “Asking us to say yes to something we don’t even know.”

“I think you’re smarter than you give yourself credit for, Yoongi,” Jimin said this with more bite than Jungkook would have imagined. But thinking like that was unfair. What else had Jungkook expected from an idol PA? Yoongi was probably hardly any competition in comparison to the seniors Jimin had to deal with on a daily basis. Convincing people, saying sorry and thank you, standing all alone – Jimin must have done it a hundred times.

Yoongi seemed impressed. Jungkook couldn’t help but frown. “So it’s true?” Jungkook asked and grabbed Jimin’s attention. “Seokjin skips schedule to go to school?”

Jimin gave him a sharp look before carefully nodding. “How many people know this?”

“Only us,” Hoseok said, and there was something about the relation between Hoseok and Jimin that must make him more trustworthy than anyone else.

“I don’t understand why management doesn’t make time for him to go to college,” Taehyung said thinking out loud. “Sure, there could be some conflicted visions, but they could at least budge, right?”

Jimin shrugged. “Contracts…” he said looking away, “Family… it’s all very complicated and actually none of our business.”

“Right,” Taehyung said with pink cheeks.

“What do you want from us?” Namjoon asked

“I’m only asking you anything if you have good intentions towards Seokjin,” Jimin said levelling with Namjoon and then the rest. “I know that he has given you a lot of reason to not- to dislike him, but… he’s not what- you don’t really know him. Seokjin is not what you think. He’s been through a lot and I wouldn’t be here asking you for a favour if I didn’t see any other way.”

Hoseok perked up. “How off the books it this favour you’re asking for?”

Jimin shrugged. “The seniors disapprove of this.”

Hoseok shook his head. “They disapprove of more things, but that hasn’t stopped you two. How big is the impact this time? How much are you willing to bet on this thing you're plotting?”

Jimin irked an eyebrow. “You have a hunch?”

Hoseok barked out a quick laugh, it sounded nervous and Jungkook wondered whether they shouldn’t firstly establish who wanted to stay in this room and who didn’t. Was he ready to be complicit to whatever it was they were talking about?

“It’s not illegal, is it?” Jungkook asked.

“No it’s not,” Jimin said.

“But you said something about contracts,” Taehyung quipped in having the same tone as Jungkook.

“He did,” Hoseok told the two dancers before looking at Jimin, “You’re willing to throw away your entire career for Seokjin and expect us to do the same?”

“Can you just explicitly tell us what you two are talking about?” Yoongi asked put up.

“Graduation day,” Hoseok said before Jimin could object. “You want Seokjin to attend, but the seniors said no.”

There was a silence in which Jimin took his time to assess the room before admitting Hoseok’s statement by nodding carefully.

Namjoon frowned. “How is that breaking a contract? Why is this worse than him skipping on schedule like he always does?”

“It’s on an important day,” Jimin said. “It’s an end of the year award show. We weren’t expected on the first day at first, but after confirmation from the broadcast station the seniors felt like they couldn’t say no.”

“And Seokjin? He sent you here?” Yoongi asked.

Jimin immediately shook his head. “He wouldn’t dare to utter a word, because he knows they’ll definitely fire me if he skips. He doesn’t even know I’m here.”

“Is he really still in Korea?” Jungkook wondered muttering.

“Yeah,” Jimin said and stuffed his hands in his pockets. “He had an important test yesterday night. He should be on his way now. Someone else will pick him up from the airport. The seniors don’t trust me anymore.”

“Which is why you’ve come to us,” Namjoon offered. Jimin nodded and the room fell silent once again. The earlier gossip on Seokjin’s whereabouts had suddenly become their business. Jungkook had never imagined himself to be part of any shady business when he had started out as a back-up dancer. Although, calling this ‘shady’ seemed unfair to how pure the intention was. All Jimin wanted was for Seokjin to attend his college graduation ceremony. That was all, but there was an entire world outside this hotel room that would fight this idea with tooth and nail. Jimin must be desperate. Like Hoseok said, he was ready to risk it all.

“Seokjin would lose- or I mean he would violate a lot of agreements by attending his graduation ceremony, though,” Jungkook said softly. “Is he okay with that?”

Jimin shrugged. “I will assume that everything shared in this room stays in this room?” Everyone nodded. “I mean it,” Jimin urged, “I may appear nice, but if I find out that I have misjudged you guys, I will not hesitate to-”

“-Oh my gosh, Jimin, chill!” Yoongi cut in, “don’t threaten us! We go through that on a daily basis with the seniors.”

Jimin eyed Yoongi with a stern look before looking back at Jungkook. “Like I said, everything I say cannot leave this room. It is not my place to share this, but it will help you understand Seokjin and me a little bit better. You asked whether he is okay with all of this – yes he is. In fact, his contract will come to an end in a couple of months. He does not plan on renewing it. He’s done with this life, right now we are enduring it.”

Jungkook got a cramped feeling after hearing Jimin speak. Jimin was only telling them half of the story; the half that a group of perfect strangers could accept. The other half however – Jungkook wondered whether it was something that could be reached.

“So,” Jimin said after a beat, “If you help me do this, I promise I will take full responsibility. None of you are part of the core crew just yet, so your names shall not be mentioned. The seniors will be pissed, I’m sure of it. This is not just the crew who is being disrespected, but also the company, the broadcast station, the fans… it will be a big deal and I will not shy away from that fact since I’m already asking you a lot. If the company decides to file a lawsuit – this is unlikely, believe me – but if they do, I could promise you that you are protected by the terms of agreement, but whether that will actually be the case is something else. I will of course do anything in my power to keep you out of this. If you agree to help me out I would be tremendously grateful. What I can offer you in return is… I could- I can offer you some references for better jobs in the industry. It’s not much…” Jimin paused as he was avoiding the stares in the room and a for a moment Jungkook was sure that the younger would break down. Jungkook wanted to believe him. Jungkook wanted to follow him. “It’s not much, I know, but it comes from a place of sincerity. Please help me out,” Jimin lowered himself on his knees and placed his hands on the ground. “I’m begging you,” he bowed very deeply and hid his face.

Gone was the stuck up guy that flashed polite smiles and was always carrying bad news. Before them was a boy out of his wits.

Taehyung walked over to him and placed a hand on the assistant’s shoulder. He caressed the muscles and looked up at the others as if the ask ‘what do we do?’ Yoongi, Hoseok and Namjoon were exchanging looks that went beyond Jungkook’s understanding. He was inclined to wait on their response, but they were taking too long. The shuddering motion along Jimin’s back told him enough.

“I will help you,” Jungkook said loudly for there to be no room for misinterpretation. Jimin’s head shot up. “I know I’m just a dancer and that you probably want the likes of Yoongi helping you out, but I will do whatever it takes.”

“Jungkook that’s-”

“Me too,” Taehyung said before Jimin could finish. Taehyung helped Jimin up and the two stayed on the floor like a small pile of youth. Very carefully Jimin lifted his head to look at the oldest three of the crew.

“You’re asking a lot, you know that,” Yoongi said muttering as if weighing in the odds for himself.

Jimin shrugged, seemingly out of fucks to give.

“I don’t have much to lose anyway,” Namjoon said with a small smile, “I’m here for an internship nonetheless. You can count on me too, Jimin,” Namjoon held up his fist as if to encourage a friend before a game. Namjoon was pretty cool, Jungkook remarked. Having him as a friend would be a blessing.

Hoseok was wringing his back and let out a grunt, aargh~, he then exhaled loudly. “The fuck with it, count me in.”

Jungkook couldn’t help but laugh a little at how Hoseok acted. Then all eyes turned towards Yoongi – obviously an important person if they wanted to pull this off.

Yoongi huffed and avoided everyone’s glances and Jungkook noted that as him being shy. “You better find me another job after this.”

Exhale.  Jimin quickly rubbed his eyes dry and nodded. “I will. Trust me.”

“We already are.”

 

Chapter Text

[Black and Blue Pt.1]

Seokjin was the last one to enter the company director’s office. He closed the door and watched how Jimin stood undecidedly near the desk and how the director didn’t properly take his seat behind it. The director leaned against it, making it uncomfortable for either Seokjin or Jimin to take the seats before the desk usually meant for visitors. It was something like being called by the principle. The difference here was how Seokjin was actually intimidated.

“Don’t you think we live in a ridiculous age?” the director asked rhetorically.

Seokjin carefully walked over to properly pay attention to his boss. He remained silent, though, knowing that letting the director talk would be the best for now.

“I have to go out of my way to manage to talk to you, because you always skip schedule,” the director directed this towards Seokjin, “you think that I don’t have something better to do? You treat me, and your staff, like a bunch of no-lives who will wait on your every move?” The director held a look on his face that reminded Seokjin of his childhood; his mother. There was a reason why this man and his mother got along. They had the same antics, same believes and somehow figured out that it worked on Seokjin. Correction; it used to work. These days, people would call Seokjin something close to a rebel – a trouble maker who listened to no one but himself.

Frankly, that was Jimin’s doing. He was someone with much more integrity  than Seokjin.

“You got something to say about that?” the director stepped closer towards Seokjin. His eyes where dark and tired, just like everything else in the industry. But Seokjin didn’t know the man that well – had missed to many meetings, had had other people talk for him instead– to know whether the director would appreciate him looking him right back in the eyes. Seokjin decided to not test this; he looked down, tilting his head with it remembering how someone from PR once told him that his natural stance radiates entitlement.

“No answer, I see,” the director commented. “You’re right to do so, obviously.” He stepped away and turned his attention towards Jimin. “The real hero here is mister Park Jimin. See, I remember your name, Jimin, because I keep hearing it from the managers. I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you seem to disrespect me and everyone else who is working as hard as they can. You only got one job and you fail at it miserably. I know that you are as stubborn as they can get, so surely you can make a boy like Jin listen to you when he needs to be on schedule, right? Right!” the director sounded out of control, nothing like how he was with partners or other managers.  “This job you got, Jimin, you don’t seem to want to do it correctly. You really don’t. You think you can secure it by manipulating my most valuable idol? You must think I’m stupid.”

“I don’t think that,” Jimin answered immediately when he was given the opportunity to talk. Seokjin dared to side eye his assistant and wondered what courage he managed to find to speak up. “I don’t try to manipulate anyone,” Jimin defended himself. Seokjin knew that words like these, alongside apologies, were always on the tip of his lips because of all the trouble Seokjin caused. Seokjin hated the feeling he got from it.

The director chuckled. “But things started to change ever since you got on board. You think Jin is stupid?”

Jimin looked appalled. Seokjin knew that look on his face, but to a stranger – the director – it may look like he was annoyed. “I do not,” Jimin spoke clearly.

“Oh,” the director said. Seokjin noted how he stepped forward and how his hands were balled up into fists. Jimin hadn’t noticed. Of course he didn’t notice this, Seokjin could not expect Jimin to watch out for those things like he did. “You think I’m stupid?”

It was a trap. Whatever Jimin would answer, the director would not be satisfied. Jimin seemed to know this too, as he paused and started to look a little distraught. He didn’t budge, and Seokjin knew he was bracing himself.

“I think you’re stupid,” Seokjin said. It worked. The director turned his wild look towards him, and Seokjin opted to return the look instead of giving Jimin’s surprise any attention. “If you think that Jimin is the reason for me to not attend schedule, then you sure are-”

It took the director two strides to get to Seokjin. One blow to his face was enough and Seokjin was staggering backwards. He couldn’t feel the pain with how much adrenaline and surprise was overwhelming him. He let out a grunt that he quickly stifled. He almost lost his balance, but Jimin was right there helping him stay upright.

The director seemed uninterested in how they recovered from his outburst as he turned to his desk and got himself a bottle of water. The director took big gulps and shrugged his arms as if to cool down from his outburst.

Seokjin wanted to do the same. He needed a breather, but the conversation was not over. His heartbeat would not stop and his chest was rising as his breathing had picked up. His face throbbed, but he tried to seem unbothered, unshaken by what just happened. He tried to stay in the haze of surprise, at bay from the real pain that would come.

Seokjin then noticed trembling hands on his arm. Looking sideways he saw the blanched look on Jimin’s face. His hands were holding Seokjin in a death grip and Seokjin was once again reminded that Jimin should not have seen any of this.

“I know you skip to go to college,” the director said lowly. “The other managers haven’t caught on yet, which is stupid, I got to give you that. But for you to think that I am also stupid is just plain insulting,” the director said as if it were matters of facts. He searched for Seokjin to meet his eyes, he had a crease between his own. “You understand, Jin, don’t you? You understand why I had to do this?”

Sweetheart, you understand you’re making mother very upset, right?

Seokjin, whilst shaking by Jimin’s trembling hands and having trouble seeing straight because of his throbbing head, nodded slowly – trying not to lose his balance; trying not to lose his composure. He could cry when this was over. “I understand,” Seokjin got out, “apologies for my tone.”

The director watched, seemingly looking for something. The scrutiny made Seokjin blush out of embarrassment. His face hurt and he couldn’t hide the pain being so plainly displayed. “You were raised well by your mother,” the director commented, ignoring his father as usual, “she taught you well. Did she also teach you about sacrifices? Tell me, what do you think a sacrifice is?”

Seokjin shrugged. He didn’t like questions like this. “Doing something you don’t like for something good.”

The director sniggered again but nodded. “So you do understand,” he said triumphant, then followed more quietly, “you really don’t like this life? People would kill to be in your place.”

Seokjin shrugged again.

The director nodded along. “I see, you are just distracted right now. It must be because of all the school tests and comebacks combined, right? But I’ve been told that the last semester has come to an end, correct?” He looked expectedly so Seokjin nodded. “Good,” the director said satisfied, “then this stupid behaviour of yours will end too, you understand me?”

Seokjin paused. He looked down at his arms where Jimin still hadn’t let go. His eye socket was throbbing so hard it made him grimace. This moment… Oh my god, my boss just punched me in the face. He was brought back; to the workroom of his mother and the beatings that would last for what felt an eternity. He must have been stupid to think that things would be different.

“Jin?” the director called him with a voice that was almost kind. Seokjin didn’t respond, the director sighed. “Jimin, stop leaning on the guy like some idiot,” the hands on Seokjin’s arm disappeared. “You listen up. No more funny business okay? The end of the year ceremonies are about to begin and I can’t have you ruin everything.”

“We- uh… understood,” Jimin mumbled.

“I mean it,” the director said stern, “If you think you can ruin things for me, you forget that I can also ruin things for you two. For you, Jimin, I don’t need to explain how this industry will treat you after you mess with me. And for you Seokjin, I will make you understand what true sacrifices are; I will do whatever it takes to devaluate your diploma.”

Seokjin looked up. “Please don’t,” he let that slip out. He sounded so young and stupid just then. His mother never liked it when he would say things like that.

The director shrugged unbothered. “I’ve made myself clear.”

“We understand,” Jimin said with a steadier voice, but still sounding shaken, “I will work harder to not disappoint you. I can assure you that Seokjin will as well,” Jimin paused for a moment and Seokjin would have jumped in, taken over, if he didn’t feel as disconnected as he did. “I hope you understand that today’s activities will be hindered with how… ah with Seokjin’s appearance. I hope you’d take this into consideration. We’d need to cancel some activities in order for us to go to a general practitioner to-”

“-ah, do whatever,” the director said waving them off. “just know, I don’t want to hear any more noise coming from the managers, yes?”

Jimin nodded. Jimin bowed.  Seokjin just stood there, phased – and not wanting to admit this – but also a little scared. “Yes, thank you.” Jimin moved quickly and ushered the both of them out of the office before things could escalate again.

-

 

Seokjin placed steady hands on Jimin’s arms and caressed the younger as Jimin applied an icepack on Seokjin’s eye in a small empty break room. It hurt, but not as much as the way Jimin was still shaking. “It’s okay, Jimin,” Seokjin said softly, “it’s over. It’s all over now.”

Jimin shook his head and probably unintentionally applied the icepack a little too harsh on Seokjin’s bruising cheekbone. “I’m okay,” Jimin lied. “I’m okay. I’m just so sorry. I said I would handle the managers. I didn’t know they went behind my back and made the director mad. This is all my fault. I never taught he would- I never taught he could do that. I’m so so sorry, Seokjin. I’m so- has he done this before? I should have-”

Jimin choked up and let the icepack slide down. He looked lost and very vulnerable. His shoulders were tense and his breathing haggard. Seokjin felt so useless seeing the younger like this.

“Jimin you have nothing to apologise for,” Seokjin countered and picked up the lone tear that escaped Jimin’s eye. Shit. Jimin never cried and Seokjin was bad at helping him when he needed it. It was never even between them. Seokjin was always the one who needed Jimin the most. Now that the roles seemed to be switched, Seokjin was left clueless and scared. “If anything, you have helped me so much. Ever since you got here everything has been better. This is nothing, really. The boss is just throwing a tantrum, we’ll get through it. I’ve been here before.”

Jimin lifted his head to look at him. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

The throbbing was in his chest, and on his face, but it was his chest that was clenching now too. Seokjin tried out words with his lips without sounding them out, and it left him speechless for a moment. “I don’t want you to worry about me,” he managed out, “I don’t want you to risk anything because of me. You’ve helped me so much since you got here. I can’t ask for more, so please don’t worry. Don’t think too much about me. I’m sorry I was so selfish.”

Jimin got out a strangled chuckle. “You call yourself selfish for attending classes? A reminder, I urged you to do this.”

Seokjin slowly shook his head. “It’s not worth you being in trouble.”

“How am I the one in trouble. He didn’t punch me, gosh, Seokjin I-” Jimin cut himself off and seemed to be overwhelmed again.

“He can fire you and I can’t have that. Sorry,” Seokjin said softly again and found his hands in Jimin’s.

Jimin squeezed his hands. “Don’t apologise for following your dream.”

-

 

Later, much later, after an awkward rehearsal, some manager catching Seokjin in the car being excited over his exam results, a quiet fight between Seokjin and Jimin on whether they should see a practitioner or not, Seokjin told Jimin in the car to stop.

“Stop what?” Jimin asked.

“Stop sacrificing your career because of me. I know I said I wanted to attend my graduation, but this is not worth it. I never really thought through how this could affect you, not only your career, but also just- you. I don’t like seeing you like that, for which I’m sorry. So please just stop. I will do schedule and everything. There is only one more test I will have to attend but after that no more. I can find a way around getting my last assignments in without attending. It will work out. My contract is going to end in a couple of months. I can endure it. We must endure it, right? You promised that after all of this you’d be-”

“-I’ll be there with you,” Jimin cut Seokjin’s uncertain voice of. Seokjin exhaled and nodded in self reassurance.

“That’s good,” Seokjin said. “Thank you.” For now, they could only hold hands. “I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”

 

[The Scale pt.1]

For this year’s XXXX artists from all across Asia will come together to host a spectacular show for all the fans across the world. New and old artist will show all they’ve got. What artist has returned from military service have you been waiting for? What rookie artist do you want to see? Vote for your artists online and determine the night. XXXX will take place in Japan and will be hosted by XXX, XXXX, and Jin-

-

 

“I’m going to be a host?” Seokjin sat up and looked at the PR coordinator who was rambling some agenda points. “I don’t want that. I can’t be the host and have my second stage of the new single on the same-”

“-don’t worry, it can’t be that hard,” the coordinator shushed. “We already agreed and an opportunity like this is not something to dismiss because of your pettiness, princess.”

“I’m not being petty,” Seokjin said indignant, “how could you have already agreed without asking me first? I told Jimin that I wanted to focus on my stages primarily without having to worry about-”

“-Oh, yes, we talked with Jimin too. He told us that you wanted to do something like this,” the coordinator didn’t bat an eye as he blatantly lied. Seokjin’s mouth fell shut. “Maybe you forgot. Like how you forget to show up for schedule…”

-

 

“Oooh! I can’t wait to see our princess as a host! Do you understand the significant of this? A lot of people are going to watch this and the general public in Korea will finally be introduced to our funny Pink Princess! I’m so hyped!” ++ 68/--12

“Whatever happens: DON’T FORGET TO VOTE! We’re up for three grand prices, including artist of the year. I know that the gap seems big with XXXX leading, but I believe we can do it. #VOTEforPP!” ++120/--33

“I’m so excited about this, but can we please stop calling Seokjin PP/PinkPrincess? It’s embarrassing. So the guy likes pink, let him breathe, vote and go!” ++89/--45

“So… imagine Jin winning awards that he has to present to himself? ^^”++12/--3

 

[Executed pt.1]

There were twenty back up dancers, forty staff members in total, and a hack of choreography that Seokjin was not confident about. The main crew and staff was already on their way to the airport for the award show that would last for two days in Japan. The core crew was still roaming in Seokjin’s apartment half an hour before departure.

Some of the stylist had tutted their lips when they saw what airport fashion Seokjin had chosen – comfortable clothing, thank you very much – but they didn’t say anything about it. They were probably glad that Seokjin had at least been up when they had arrived. He wasn’t done finishing his breakfast though. The crew was mainly checking and regulating car arrangements at this point, but there was a certain excitement in the room that Seokjin could not relate to. It made him more tired and slightly anxious. The gravitas of his role during the award show was suddenly more real than it had been when he had first heard about his responsibility as a host.

They usually went one day ahead of the award show to Japan, but schedule had it that they would arrive on the same day as the start of the show. Seokjin had heard some of the managers discussing the disapproval from his co-hosts’ management. Really, Seokjin was good at making friends in this industry. His script for the night was laying next to his plate, dropped off by the stage director.

“Hey, pig!”

Seokjin stopped in the midst of taking a bite. He could feel his cheeks heat up and his throat close up.

“I’m talking to you. Don’t be shy now. The camera’s on.”

In hindsight, sitting alone in the kitchen like this was stupid, it made him an easy target for the PR groupies. Even in his own home. He should have skipped breakfast and just eaten on the way.

Seokjin put down his chopsticks and turned slowly towards the coordinator. They held up a camera and were clearly recording. Seokjin didn’t feel like it. He smiled anyways.

“How can I help?”

Seokjin did a quick scan around the kitchen and felt a little discouraged when he couldn’t find Jimin. He knew that his pliant behaviour had initially made some of the staff frown, wondering where the restless idol they had grown accustomed to had left. The small friendships that Seokjin had established before Jimin’s addition to the crew were completely gone. There had been a part of him that felt like he should have chased after the lost friendships – somehow make his crew like him a little bit more again – but that part did not exist anymore. The friendliness from his crew did also not exist anymore either. Seokjin’s good behaviour over the last couple of weeks following his impressive meeting with the director had done nothing but make the crew more cocky and entitled. All he could do was stay polite and endure it like he told Jimin.

That didn’t mean he could stand the camera being shoved in his face right now.

“Always eating, huh,” the guy behind the camera commented. The label on the camera read FUNNY FANSERVICE.

“It’s breakfast,” Seokjin said plainly. There was no hint of enjoyment in his voice and he knew he was acting a little too hostile.

“Let me take a look at your breakfast then,” the camera got a close up over Seokjin’s shoulder of his dinner plate. The guy gasped loudly and exaggerated, “That’s so much food. You sure are a pig, aren’t you?”

Seokjin’s smile completely disappeared. “Don’t call me that.”

The guy behind the camera got a small frown on his face. His smile too started to get smaller. “What, pig? It’s what you are.”

Pig-Seokjin!

Seokjin had to look away from the camera. He could see how this tape wouldn’t be used for the SNS channels. The guys and girls at PR would have fun watching this clip, wouldn’t they?

“Oh, please. What are you doing?” the guy asked annoyed. He lowered the camera. “Are you going to be cry baby about it?”

Seokjin shook his head but didn’t feel ready to use his voice.

“Then what is this?”

Seokjin shrugged and cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. I’m just tired. If you need a video I can shoot one before tonight and have it up-”

“-last time you promised this you completely forgot about it,” the guy said. Seokjin nodded. He tended to forget things. Like that time he forgot Jimin’s birthday.

“Sorry about that,” he said.

“Don’t you have better things to do, Dowon?” Seokjin looked up at hearing a familiar voice. He couldn’t help but sigh in relief. Jimin.

The PR coordinator shut his camera off and looked slightly intimidated by Jimin’s arrival. He uttered something about trying to help the crew and what not, but Jimin sternly shook his head. “I said I would take care of it. Go find yourself some work to do and leave us alone.” It was a quick exchange between the two crew members and Seokjin couldn’t help but feel more incompetent.

He lived up to his name, didn’t he? A princess in need for help.

Jimin lowered himself down on the seat next to Seokjin. Looking at his breakfast, then looking at his script next to it, Seokjin lost his appetite.

“How is everything going?” Seokjin asked carefully. He tried these days not to cling too much on Jimin, but having the younger defending him once again seemed to have defeated the purpose.

Jimin seemed unbothered he eyed the kitchen entrance and let out a small sight. “We don’t have much time, we’re about to head out” Jimin said with a much more tense tone than his appearance. “I need you to blindly trust me for a moment, Seokjin.”

Seokjin frowned. “What are you talking about.”

Jimin shrugged. “The less you know, the better. But just trust me,” Jimin turned to look Seokjin straight in the eyes. The younger had bags underneath his eyes and his energy was probably retained from coffee if the smell of his breath was anything to go by. “You may think that whatever happens today is stupid, but I ask you to enjoy it as much as you can. For me, can you promise me this?”

“What are you talk-” Seokjin wanted to repeat his question, but got interrupted by their logistics manager.

“-We got to move, everyone!” he yelled through the rooms of Seokjin’s house. Hoseok entered the kitchen looking expectantly at Jimin and then at Seokjin.

“He told you, right?” Hoseok said with a smile on his face, “You’re driving with the dancers.”

-

 

That alone should have been Seokjin’s first clue.

-

 

On the road sharing a car with Yoongi, Taehyung and Jungkook, Seokjin pensively looked at the cars driving ahead of them – Jimin was somewhere there, accompanied by Hoseok, Namjoon and other crew members. Their car had no music playing and only Yoongi absently tapping on the steering wheel. He seemed nervous.

“You know what day it is, princess?” Yoongi said suddenly.

Seokjin looked over at the assistant stage director. It was odd, having someone as important as him driving the car for Seokjin. Seokjin had heard the managers talking about how Jimin had messed up the drivers for their departure, but even so, seeing Yoongi drive instead of Namjoon as general assistants, seemed odd.

The cars ahead of them arrived at a traffic intersection. They crossed the intersection one by one – some having to stop and wait for the red light. So did Yoongi.

“Don’t call me that. And what do you mean?” Seokjin asked distracted.

Yoongi swiftly looked at Seokjin and caught the confused look of the idol. Upon meeting each other’s eyes did Yoongi chuckle. “Of course he didn’t tell you” Yoongi said, “then this will be a real surprise.”

Something heavy sunk inside Seokjin’s stomach. Seokjin followed how the last company car ahead of them crossed the intersection. They did not. Okay- not okay. Yoongi made a turn and they lost the sight of the company cars.

“Don’t worry,” Yoongi said easily as Seokjin craned his head trying to follow the other company cars.

Seokjin tried to stop his brain from thinking too much.

Seokjin carefully looked outside his window to see where they were going. He knew that this junior crew did not like him. He had given them plenty of reasons. But to take it this far- he had underestimated them.

“What do you want?” Seokjin asked very carefully already reaching for his phone. “If it’s money-”

“Shit! Seokjin, relax,” that was Jungkook from the backseat. He unbuckled his belt and got a little closer to the conversation. “This was Jimin’s idea.”

“Jimin?” Seokjin asked thrown off.

“Come on, princess, think,” Yoongi said sounding annoyed. “Do you really not know what day it is?”

The car came to a halt on a quiet road of a neighbourhood that Seokjin was not familiar with. It felt like walking into someone’s living room and Seokjin wondered what he had done to end up in this place. It took him a little too long to realise what was really going on. Yoongi stayed remarkably silent and let the younger two explain to him what they were doing -  what they were willing to sacrifice.

“Oh, no,” Seokjin sighted.

Taehyung and Jungkook said things like: “We want you to go to your graduation!” “We want to help.” “Jimin talked to us and we understand.” “You can trust us. We got this all planed out.”

Then they got quiet as they waited for Seokjin’s response.

Truthfully speaking, Seokjin wanted to hit his head against the steering wheel – multiple times. How could he be this stupid and gullible? Why hadn’t he predicted that Jimin would do something stupid like this – something so risky and unworthy? Jimin had even asked Seokjin to enjoy this day. Of course he had, because he knew that Seokjin would hate him for this.

Seokjin slowly shook his head. “Turn back,” he said and then urged Yoongi with a hand on his shoulder. “You don’t understand what risks you’re taking. Turn back before anyone noticed.” Before anyone could get hurt.

Yoongi rolled his eyes. The fucker. “But you actually want this, right?” Yoongi asked strongly articulating his words as if Seokjin was speaking a different language.

“That’s beside the point. You don’t understand,” Seokjin said more hysterically, “Don’t listen to Jimin. He does not understand. You can’t think like him. You’re throwing away your careers right now. Don’t do this. You have no real reason to be doing this.”

Yoongi shrugged. “That’s the thing, Seokjin,” the sharp tonged man said, “we do what we want.” Him saying that – it felt like a punch. Seokjin retreated his hand back and suddenly felt very cornered. Yoongi was so unbothered – so sure of himself. Seokjin felt like daring to think himself to be capable of the same was just too much. “We do what we want and so could you,” Yoongi said confidently, “respect Jimin and his choices, and now make your own.”

“You don’t know the scale of this,” Seokjin said lowly not able to look anyone in the eye. How could he face anyone when he was tempted to do something so selfish – so self-centred that it would literally ruin several lives just because he wanted something. Just because he wanted to do what he wanted. “You’ll lose everything, all of you,” Seokjin said for good measure so that the dancers would also understand. Maybe Jimin hadn’t explained it to them correctly. There could be no good reason for them to be ready to drop everything for Seokjin after everything they had been put through.

“If you really don’t want this,” Yoongi said grabbing the steering wheel again, “I can turn back and we say nothing happened.”

But Seokjin didn’t want that.

Through the rear mirror Seokjin caught the looks of the dancers.

“I need to know why you’re willing to do this for me. I have done nothing but make your work a pain in the ass,” Seokjin said.

“We figured your behaviour was nothing personal,” Taehyung said from the back. “And we know now that you worked twice as much than anyone else. See this as a present from us – those who understand you, or at least try to. Don’t be rude by declining it.”

Yoongi huffed. “Yeah, don’t make me second guess what the fuck I’m doing here.”

Jungkook laughed easily. In this cramped air and very serious situation Jungkook managed to laugh easily. Seokjin followed, but it was nothing easy or nonchalant. It was forced because he was still not used to doing things like this – things for himself.

“Then let’s do this,” Seokjin said nervously.

 

[The Scale pt.2]

“OMG I saw that #WhereIsPP was trending! Is this real? Did we really lose our princess?”++46/--12

“So, apparently his car hadn’t arrived at the airport drop off but people did spot his managers (Jimin). I guess he just got stuck in traffic. Chill the fuck down everyone and stop with the #/WhereIsPP #PPfandomIsJobless”++77/--30

“I don’t get it, though. There are pictures of him at the airport. What is everyone talking about? #WhereIsPP” ++45/--15

“Oh lord these airport pictures! What is this? Is this some kind of prank?”++67/--23

-

 

“We will need to buy ourselves enough time,” Jimin had told the junior crew when plotting the plan. “I’ll stay on soil waiting for Seokjin’s car while the rest carries on. I want the core crew to be boarding and on their way. I want them to feel pressured but also believing that Seokjin is right behind them.”

“And how are we going to do that?”

“We’ll have an imposter at the airport,” Jimin had looked up, “Jungkook, Taehyung? What do you think?”

Taehyung had laughed and ignored the incredulous looks of his older crew members. “I’ve always wanted to be an actor.”

 

[Executed pt.2]

The car was an old one and really out there with the faded red colours. It made a funny sound every time Namjoon accelerated, but it got them moving. In an old thing like this no one expected to find the idol sitting next to the general manager, humming an endless tune.

Taehyung’s clothes felt a little strange on Seokjin’s body, but then again, this entire thing was something out of the ordinary. When Namjoon’s car had pulled up in the street Yoongi had them situated, Seokjin and Taehyung had already switched clothed. To make it more official, Seokjin had given Taehyung his script as a way to hide his face if he were to be mobbed at the airport. There had been a brief exchange of words between Yoongi and Namjoon, it ended with nods and Seokjin sliding next to Namjoon in the car.

“I got it as a gift,” Namjoon said tapping the steering wheel. “It may sound like it’s dying, which it is, but it has never failed me before.” Ah, he was talking about the car.

Seokjin nodded, thinking back to the time he had dinner with Namjoon, Jimin and Taehyung. Seokjin had not thought much of it. Maybe that dinner had been the reason for Namjoon to help him out now.

“I already talked with the others about this,” Seokjin began, “but you don’t have to do this. Whatever Jimin told you-”

“-Jimin told us that you wouldn’t dare to ask for this,” Namjoon interrupted. “Why is that?”

Seokjin frowned. He opted to look outside the window and saw on the traffic signs that they were straying further and further away from Seoul, or any directions leading towards the airport. They were really doing this. “It’s scary.”

Namjoon hummed. “You’re talking about the director?”

Seokjin shrugged. Everyone knew about the director’s temper nonetheless. “Among other things.” He couldn’t help but think about how angry his mother would be upon hearing the news. After this he might just end up completely alone.

“For what it’s worth,” Namjoon said a little hesitantly, “You’re not alone.”

Seokjin turned to look at Namjoon. The young man had relaxed shoulders and contrary to other general managers no bags underneath his eyes.  “I forgot to tell the others this, but thank you,” Seokjin said, “I am grateful.”

 “Don’t thank me yet, we aren’t there yet.” Namjoon smiled. “Jimin said you should try calling your dad.”

Seokjin looked down at his phone. He had been called by so many managers it had been buzzing almost consistently. The usefulness of the device had seemed inexistent once he understood that this was all Jimin’s doing – he could not call the younger, not when he was probably dealing with a lot of shit at the airport as it was. But Namjoon – actually Jimin – was right. He should call his dad.

-

 

Hey, dad… yes, it’s me. Is mom there? … No, no. I don’t want to talk to her. I just wanted to talk to you. You know what has been keeping me busy, right … yes, I’m talking about that … please ignore the media. I’m doing this for me … Yes … I want this. I know you wanted this for me too … I know, but let’s be together then. You don’t have to tell mom. Just- be there for me … I know, yes … Thank you … I don’t regret anything, thank you … I’ll see you there … I love you.

 

[The Scale pt.3]

‘THE IMPOSTER HAS BEEN CAUGHT’

“… security guards have caught the man who posed as solo idol Jin from XXX entertainment. The idol was expected to arrive at Incheon airport to attend an award show. There had been a lot of confusion among the staff as they had waited for almost an hour at the airport drop off for the car with the singer to arrive, but no one they expected showed up. Most of the crew has already boarded, leaving Jin to miss his flight. The crew is expected to arrive in time for the award show in Japan. The imposter has been identified by fans as a back-up dancer of Jin. Why the dancer chose to pose as the idol is unclear and had made fans rave all over the internet. Hashtags such as #WhereIsPP and #FuckTheImposter were trending worldwide. The whereabouts of Jin remain unknown. The company has yet to issue a statement on the events.”

-

 

“Guys, this is crazy. Someone who works at the award show just said that the rehearsals have started and the Jin is still not there! Why hasn’t XXX already reported this to the police? I’m getting scared. We literally lost our princess.” ++123/--34

-

 

“They will call the cops,” Hoseok had said.

“They won’t call the police,” Jimin assured. “You and I will be there when everyone has boarded. Once security understands that Taehyung is just a dancer and Yoongi and Jungkook are just playing along, we will clear the air. I have enough authority to do so. You will be responsible for answering calls coming from the crew in Japan. Me they won’t believe. You’ll tell them we have everything under control.”

“That Seokjin is on his way,” Hoseok filled in.

Jimin nodded, even though he had looked a little unsure. “Exactly. It won’t be too long after that before our entire cover is blown. They will call the director, and he’ll send someone to us, so we’ll need to move quickly and be out of security’s hands before it’s too late.”

“He won’t just go to Seokjin’s school?”

Jimin shook his head. “The ceremony is on a different location, by the time he has figured out where that is, it will be too late. The ceremony would be over.”

 

[Executed pt.3]

It was like a view out of a weird dream. Seokjin’s dad and Namjoon were sitting in the back of the audience waving over to where Seokjin sat on stage with his class. Proud smile danced on the lips of his father and Seokjin refrained from having it too.

I do what I want. It felt right.

Their headteacher was concluding their speech. Seokjin had not been able to pay proper attention. He had nodded and clapped when the rest did. He felt too giddy. This was really happening. On the table not to far from his seat laid his diploma.

“And now, I would like to call to the stage…” it started.

 

[The Scale pt.4]

“The show is literally about to start and Seokjin is nowhere. I am dreading the worst you guys.” ++234/--22

“I’m not even a fan and even I find this a little shady. #WhereisPP has been trending for hours now lol”++57/--32

“Jo shsdggsh… OP just posted this picture. Is this what I think it is? #WhereisPP #WeFoundPP” ++367/--89

-

 

“Why do you need me in the car though?” Yoongi had asked.

Jimin had hesitated before sharing. “The director will send someone towards the airport. Someone needs to be there to… you know-”

“-take the hit?” Yoongi guessed. “Stall some time? You could do that.”

Jimin had nodded. “I could.” Not really though. It just took a silence for everyone to understand his implications.

-

 

In Japan, there were people running from one end of the venue to the other. Making apologies towards the broadcasting staff, and appeasing the managers of famous names in the industry. These people were constantly calling back to Korea where they hoped to get a response from either someone called Jimin, Seokjin or the director of their company. They got none. The only source of information Seokjin’s staff got came from the internet were fans were speculating. The staff who tried to hold everything together, working with whatever energy they had left, would let out curse words every minute. So what if other management teams and reporters got to hear them mutter. Pig Seokjin was lost and their asses were being grilled. Pink Princess had skipped again and they started to get a hunch. How stupid had the staff been to believe that someone like Jimin had misarranged the cars? How gullible had they been to believe Pig Seokjin to just follow their orders with no struggle. Once the staff got huddled in a waiting room with no idol to prepare a picture went viral.

There he was, their Pink Princess Pig Seokjin, smiling at his graduation ceremony.

The broadcasting management cornered the staff and asked them furiously where Jin, the host of the night, was. Someone with no name from the crew stepped forward and issued the first official statement regarding Kim Seokjin’s absence.

-

 

‘XXX ENTERTAINMENT STATES THAT JIN MISSED HIS FLIGHT BUT FANS KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENED’

‘JIN SKIPS AWARD SHOW FOR GRADUATION’

‘XXX ENTERTAINMENT HAS TO PAY 300 MILLION WON FOR SUDDEN ASBENCE JIN’

‘FANS ARE DISSAPOINTED IN XXX AND JIN’

 

[Executed pt.4]

As Seokjin was about to get off stage after receiving his diploma, the door to the hall burst open.

The elated feeling inside his chest felt erupting. Seokjin hadn’t felt this kind of pressure inside his chest ever since his debut stage. He could only smile broader as he waved proudly with his diploma and bouquet towards Jimin.

-

 

Somewhere from the back a camera went click!

-

 

At a café near the venue where the graduation ceremony was held, four men bent over cups of coffee and tea while waiting for the inevitable.

“Don’t worry about your mother,” his dad said, placing a kind hand on Seokjin’s shoulder. “I’ll talk to her.”

“Don’t worry about the crew,” Namjoon said, “according to Taehyung they’re chilling with the director.”

Seokjin raised his eyebrow at this.

“Don’t worry about the news,” Jimin said, “you’re happy… right?”

Seokjin nodded. “This… Jimin you’re crazy,” he said. Jimin looked a little bit nervous, a little more tired than before but he had an ingenious look in his eyes. “You’re the best.” Seokjin embraced the Jimin and let the gravitas of everything settling in. Like this, they could make their own happiness. He pulled back. He wanted to do something more. He refrained himself. “How long do we have left?”

Jimin reluctantly lifted up his phone. “The director had already someone on its way when I was heading. Yoongi couldn’t hold them off that long I assume. So I guess about half an hour.”

“What happens after that?” Seokjin’s dad asked.

Jimin looked carefully at Seokjin’s dad and went back to Seokjin. Really, Seokjin could not leave this too to Jimin. “I’ll be off to Japan, dad.”

“I thought that this stunt of yours meant that you’re completely done with it. I thought you would be coming home,” his dad sounded desperate, more than Seokjin had expected. It was the same tone he would have used on his mom when he pleaded that Seokjin had had enough.

Seokjin nodded. “I am, dad. Believe me, I am,” Seokjin tried to explain, “but I am bounded to this contract. I have a couple of months left and then I’ll be coming home. I promise.”

“You mean that you’ll have to enlist,” his dad said bitterly.

Seokjin felt his cheeks burn. “I’ll still have a year or so left,” he tried, “we can make our own happiness.”

 “I know, son.” Seokjin’s dad sighted. “You showed me today.”

Before any of them could take another sip of their drinks Namjoon’s phone went off.

Namjoon huffed a little and looked at Jimin nervously. “I think our time’s up.”

 

[The Scale pt.5]

“I don’t want anyone shoving that stupid picture of him and his false diploma in my face. Do you know how selfish it is of him to just skip like that? Poor XXX and XXXX had to fill in for his stupid ass because he can’t get his priorities straight! #PigSeokjinIsCancelledParty” ++237/--98

“They should cancel his performance for tomorrow! I will not be watching and I’m sure many others will boycott too #PigSeokjinIsCancelled” ++234/--67

“But seriously, how are these fans going to defend their princess now? His label literally lied about him missing a flight, put an imposter at the airport and made fans worried for hours only to show up with that picture of him at his school???? Like his label was cancelled a long time ago, but as an artist you could at least have the decency to inform your fans… #PigSeokjinIsCancelled” ++457/--236

“Did you see XXX and XXXX’s face when they announced that Jin isn’t attending. Lol this is funny but also sad #PigSeokjinIsCancelled” ++234/--54

“Okay, I’m only using the #PigSeokjinIsCancelled so that you people can get this message: this is clearly not Seokjin’s fault. Even Jimin (his closest manager) was waiting for him at the airport (look at the pictures). His father was also at the graduation ceremony, it looks to me like his parents forced him to drop everything and attend, you know. Just don’t be so narrow minded plss” ++346/--563

“Some PP fans are really delulu ;-;”++762/--234

“Lol, everyone is saying they’re going to boycott, but that’s not true. Everyone, I repeat EVERYONE AND THEIR MOMMA, are going to watch tomorrow night. Voting is closed, and Jin has the most votes. We’re gonna see if XXXX has to balls to snub him. His label is probably making Jin come just so that he can retrieve his award and go. This is how it works in showbizzz, kids. #PigSeokjinIsCancelled #ButIsHeReally” ++234/--77

 

[The aftermath]

The person that the director had sent to retrieve them from the café looked hazard and like he just woke up. Maybe this was his day off and he woke up to the crazy stunt Seokjin had pulled. Nonetheless, he was very polite when he invited Seokjin, Namjoon and Jimin to come with him per request of the director. Apparently the big boss wanted to have a talk. Seokjin had briefly hugged his distressed dad before following the man.

As they drove, it became clear they were headed towards Incheon airport. Seokjin grimaced, it was almost as if nothing had happened. The drive seemed shorter than it had been with Namjoon. It was getting late, and people wanted to go rest. In the quite ride with the radio softly playing as background noise, it seemed almost for them to fall asleep. Doing so was impossible though. The mood was not enough for Seokjin to not stray on thoughts that were unpleasant.

Was now the moment to feel guilt?

-

 

Their retriever held the door open and urged the three boys to enter the room. Seokjin followed Namjoon and Jimin quickly inside the private room somewhere at the airport. It was meant as a lounge for important people who were waiting to board, but now it held the junior crew in various stages of exhaustion and excitement. All of them were there. Taehyung still wore Seokjin’s outfit from the morning. Jungkook was leaning against the dancer, seemingly asleep. Hoseok greeted them with a bright smile, not shy from the circumstances. Then Seokjin’s eyes fell on Yoongi who was sporting a black eye and a proud grin. Looking over at the other side of the room made Seokjin find a similar look on his director’s face. Seokjin’s eye grew big and he shot Yoongi another look. Yoongi merely shrugged.

The director raised his hands, about to say something, when his phone rang. He looked at it exasperated. If Jimin’s predictions were anything to go by, the director had a lot of calls to answer. “Stay put,” he said before exiting the room. The boys were left in silence.

“And?” Hoseok said from his seat, perking up. “How was it?”

Seokjin turned to the younger and found that he was not the only one shooting him curious looks. Had the plan worked? Jungkook woke up and looked relieved when he saw who had come back.

Jimin and Namjoon planted themselves on chairs near the others. Namjoon petted the vacant spot next to him and Seokjin joined their little circle of trust.

All of it had been messy. The way he had attended his graduation was far from desirable. The worrying looks that Jimin shot his phone on their way here had been telling. Heck, Yoongi’s black eye should say enough. Despite all of that, Seokjin was touched. They were still here. They did not hate him after everything. For the first time since his long career in the industry did he feel truly welcomed. But this was like firework. Eyeing the way everyone in the circle held themselves Seokjin understood their was a common ground. This was not going to last. They understood the magnificence of today’s events – they understood that all seven of them in one room might not happen after today. In another life, they might have been close.

Seokjin shot them a dopey grin and let out a strangled laugh. “It was amazing.”

-

 

The director was very upset when he came back in the lounge room. But the way he talked made Seokjin believe there was something that had made the short tempered director timid. Maybe it was the realisation that he could gain nothing by lashing out – really, any profit position involving Seokjin was about to go up in smokes. Or maybe the director realised that the group of seven young men he was facing was capable of the inconceivable.

The faces of the junior crew, or even Jimin’s, had not been faces that the director had planned on attaching a real meaning to. They should have stayed nobodies and Seokjin should have been in Japan, capturing the hearts of the general public as a host. Yet here they were, listening to a very tired man, who had seen more of the industry than any of them, but never this.

“You disappoint me, Seokjin,” the director called Seokjin by his name as he personally escorted Seokjin to his plane terminal. There was some paparazzi, but nothing crazy. The director even carried Seokjin’s personal bag. “I had not imagined that you would go through such length to destroy my career.”

“Director, if I may,” Seokjin said stepping in. Talking right now, was very easy. He had done the most outrageous thing, so to be careful about formalities was something like bringing water to the sea. “This was nothing personal. This was not about you.”

The director chuckled and handed Seokjin his bag when they arrived at the last checkpoint. “I see. This is about you. In the end I was the one who thought you too stupid. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I hate you – I really do. You have, however, impressed me.”

Seokjin stopped walking and turned to look at the director properly. “Does this mean that you will leave Jimin and the crew alone?”

The director shook his head swiftly, smile still in place. “Oh, no. They’re fired. Please don’t say stupid things after I complimented you. Now off you go. You have a big award to win.” The director placed a guiding hand on Seokjin’s back, ushering him towards the checking point.

-

 

“To all bad things must come an end,” Seokjin murmured the words like he did when he was younger. It was derived from a more sadder common phrase that proposed no reason whatsoever for the ending of the good things in life. Seokjin found that good things had no real reason to come to an end – why say that they must end when they are good? Why would such a phrase leave so much room for all the bad to continue and for all his pain to be justified? If Seokjin were to believe in that to all good things an end must come, he would be either grim with how cautious he would be with everything or happy as he would realise that deeper than rock bottom is not an option.

No, let him be when he tells himself that all bad things must come to an end. Let him be that naïve and simple when it comes down to the things that make him cry. Bad things will come to an end. They have to, a thirteen year old Seokjin would tell you – scared in the workroom, cramping at piano practise, and stressing over school homework. They have to, a twenty-six year old Seokjin would tell you – worried over choreographies, trying to convince a pensively looking Jimin, and staring out a small airplane window on his way to an award show.

Whenever he would look back at his debut stage on video, he could hardly spot the nervousness he had felt before stepping on stage. The viewer was only met with a stoic look of someone who looked like he knew what he was doing. Images, videos and other media made it look like that and it was always a stage that he wished to be in right before going on stage. Like now; he was unsure about how angry the crew would be once they would see him. He had no one by his side and no way of making it up to his crew, fellow artists or fans. He felt sick with the thought of confrontation, but afterwards – when the bad had come to an end – there would be pictures and videos. In those images the nervous energy radiating from him would not be visible, or sometimes even imaginable. When pictures have been taken and are casted away as old news, Seokjin can finally breathe. He wished to be in that phase now, for all of this to be over. For his dad to see that a couple of months weren’t that long. For himself to once again feel as free as he did on that graduation stage.

It will come. It had to. He had to endure this just a little while.

 

[Another Showcase, Another Waiting Room pt.2]

If Seokjin had told Yoongi to turn back the car and drive him back to the airport the day before, he would have done his rehearsals in Japan as planned. Not only that, but parts of his performance would have been pre-recorded so that on the second day he could have a six minute breather between two performances. If only, right?

-

 

“Okay, so these two are the once stepping in for Jungkook and Taehyung. They know the routine, we had to change a little bit at the end, cause it will be cut short to give us more time between the dances,” the stage director said.

Seokjin nodded. “Got it.” Someone was pulling his hair, claiming to style it.

“The cue cards are not aligned, so you’ll have to memorise the poses we just went through during slow rehearsal.”

“Okay,” Seokjin said. A particular hard pull on his hair made him flinch. They had quickly died his blond hair black – it was hardly permanent and would wash out after a couple of days - they were aiming for this look; traditional yet modern. One PR coordinator had nervously said something along the lines of: “Maybe the change of hair colour will distract the public a little bit.” It wouldn’t.

“Any questions?” the stage director demanded.

Seokjin wanted to shake his head no, but a stern hand on his head stopped him from doing so. “No, thank you.”

The stage director nodded along as if trying to come up with things that they might have glossed over. “Just know that you will be performing for a long time. Try to warm up properly, because we can’t have you passing out all of the sudden, got it?”

Seokjin nodded again and held up his thumb.

“Also…” the director looked meditatively the other way, as if eyeing the crew asking them what they wanted to yell at Seokjin. “Don’t bail on us,” the director said, “just do tonight, that’s all we ask.”

Seokjin pressed his lips on each other. There had been no vulgar language when he got guided towards the waiting room where his crew had been waiting. There had been no pleasantries either. Straight to business, and no one calling him a pig or a princess. There was no camera capturing the cold atmosphere in the waiting room. Seokjin hadn’t decided whether this was worse or better. Somehow it felt like both him and the crew had gotten to know each other a little better, and at the end of it they had decided that they didn’t really like what they found out about each other.

“I understand,” Seokjin said instead of apologising. He knew that if he would say anything close to the words of ‘I’m sorry’ they would cause mayhem and justifiably so. They didn’t want his apologies and promises. They wanted to do their job and not worry about Seokjin doing his. A lot like Yoongi when he had first invaded the assistant stage director’s hotel room.

 -

 

Seokjin passed out after his performance.

There had been boo’s when he was announced on stage, when he was on stage, and when he left the stage. Sitting in the artist area had been challenging as he opted to go to the restroom most of the times. The distance between the area and close audience was too small to not hear the distinctive curse words they would throw at him. It was tiresome. And then the performance…

He buckled through his knees after right after, hoping to be caught by the crew even though he had no reason to trust them.

They caught him, alright. They did everything they could to wake him up, adjust his make-up, do his hair, straighten his clothes and usher him towards the artist area because they had to hurry up – the artist of the year was about to be announced.

Sitting between the artists, Seokjin kept his eyes closed, wishing to sip on some cold water, wishing for everything to be over and peacefully quiet. But the ground started to tremble and when he opened his eyes he could not make out any forms of his surroundings. His left eye itched very irritably.  Someone patted him on his shoulders and Seokjin carefully looked up. All the artist were standing up clapping in their hands, polite smiles on their faces.

“It’s you!” the artist beside him yelled over the uproar from the crowd. The screaming that was more hooting than anything. “You won!”

-

 

The co-host he was supposed to work with, guided him towards the stage. Seokjin was incapable of doing so by himself. Too exhausted from his stage, too shaken by everyone’s response. The award set heavy in his hands and the tears leaking from his left eye made his experience blurry. He said the words that everyone expected him to say. He tried to put something in that would reveal what he truly felt, but in the end it was too difficult. It was hard trying to form words when all he heard was the low roar that the crowd managed to make. He could not see any faces as he was blinded by the stage lights. His chest felt tight. In the end, when he dropped down on his knees it became easier to breathe. He bowed down and even pressed his head on the stage.

In that small closed off space between his face and the stage he muttered his mantra. He would endure this. It would have to end.

 

[They All Left]

“I did not expect him to still win the artist of the year award. Say what you want about his stunt, he deserved that award, and you know it.” ++556/--224

“I think the rumours are true. He will not renew his contract. To see him win at least one more big award at the end of his career with XXX entertainment feels right.”++123/--67

“he was rude towards his managers, he lied to his fans, he disrespected his father and made his agency pay a huge bill because of his stunts. Yes, truly, the artist of the year.” ++324/--287

-

 

‘CONFIRMED: JIN WILL NOT RENEW HIS CONTRACT WITH XXX ENTERTAINMENT’

‘JIN FANMEETING CANCELLED AND FANS SPECULATE’

‘PINK PRINCESS SPOTTED WITH INCHOEN AIRPORT IMPOSTER AND MORE!’

‘A PETITION FILED TO THE BLUE HOUSE DEMANDS JIN TO REFUND THE FANS HE HAS BETRAYED’

-

 

“So, your schedule is pretty clear as it is,” the PR coordinator told him. Seokjin nodded, understanding that the demand for him was declining. “There is not that much time left. You could prepare something you want your fans to know or hear before you leave.”

-

 

The junior crew had indeed been fired and Jimin had offered his help to them. The crew had kindly refused, saying they were capable of challenging the industry by themselves.

Namjoon’s internship was found invalid for his school program, so he had to find another place to redo his last couple of months. He went for a news broadcasting station. It was never as excited as his previous internship.

Taehyung and Jungkook started off together at a new upcoming agency as back up dancers. Taehyung decided to pull out before he had even finished his first month there, and moved back to the countryside. Jungkook continued and made a name for himself.

Hoseok applied for the same agency as Jungkook and Taehyung and managed to grab a position as a HR and PR coordinator. In his work he tried his best to distance himself from field work, and rather subjected himself to desk work.

Yoongi, despite his earlier attitude, stayed at Seokjin’s company. He reapplied and watched how the director resigned and Yoongi moved himself to higher positions within the company. He never became the director, even though he could have been. He was satisfied being close enough to be an important voice.

 

[It Came to an End]

Seokjin started the engine before Jimin got inside the car. Once he got in and the door was shut, Seokjin pulled out the drive way of his parents’ house.

“Thank you for accompanying me, Jimin,” Seokjin said quietly. It went almost unnoticed with how low his voice sounded and how much noise a silent car actually made.

“You don’t have to thank me for that. Your parents would have listened with or without me.”

“I’m not only talking about this,” Seokjin said feeling a little bit shy. “You seem so unimaginable in how you appeared in my life. But I am thankful, wherever we will find ourselves in the future.”

Jimin stayed quiet.

Seokjin looked over and found the younger one blushing. A small smile creeped on his own face. He pulled over on the side of the road and completely directed his attention towards Jimin.

“You give yourself too little credit,” Jimin said also turning towards Seokjin.

“You always have something nice to tell me,” Seokjin replied caressing Jimin’s face, bringing him closer. “You never seem speechless,” Seokjin whispered. Jimin, making a liar out of Seokjin, seemed speechless. Could it be? The question was written all over the round face of Jimin. “Like this…” Seokjin said, never finishing his sentence, giving Jimin the smallest taste of his lips.

-

 

“I mean, we got nothing to lose.”

“You don’t need to convince me. I’m coming with you.”

They decided to go to the United States.

 

[Backstory]

Seokjin had been an idol with a remarkable number of friends: zero. It had forced him to befriend his staff and feel very depended on his work relationships. Before becoming an idol, Seokjin had had a couple of friends when he was planned to originally debut in a group. He lost all of them when he debuted solo. Throughout his most blossoming years had he not experimented or met new people like the songs he sang. And now kissing another man on a daily basis was part of his life. It was something good, and it should not come to an end.

 

[Epilogue: World Wide Handsome]

It was a portrait. The background dark, aside from unfocused white shining letters in a sans-serif type of font – the words being cropped out, but not leaving any room for misinterpretation; the words presented who the tall figure on the picture was: “Artist of the Year”. Colours of his traditional outfit blossom the most, sparked discussions on Asian culture representation and the significance that he as a sole act posed. Yellow, red, blue in the clothes, but he had black hair. Also intentional, they said, no idol flair to be spotted in his outfit. But the picture is of high definition and so when you zoom in, you can find spots near his neckline; black streams that got confused with sweat and colour reflection. It was the hair dye leaking through, like the lone tear that he was in the motion of wiping of his face. The words of his acceptance speech had been edited over this image countless of times, or tagged when presented in articles. It was inspiring. It truly was, with how humble the posture of the artist was; shoulders slightly hunched in and a small smile that was not as festive as that the falling confetti surrounding him. But none of that was what attracted the viewer upon first looking at the picture. Those who were not familiar with him or the industry would also stop for a moment and breathe heavily once they met the eyes. The stance of his eyebrows made his demeaner appear more disdainful than the man actually was, the wrinkles close to corners of his eyes visible. His right eye shining with a blue iris offering the illusion of something being off, because it was something that heavily contrasted his dark haired features. But then his left eye seemed more disruptive than anything in the image. A quarter of his true dark iris being covered by the blue slipping colour contact lens. It was the same eye that leaked, that had his hand reaching towards it – to wipe of the tear, or to acknowledge the unease from the slipping lens. His right hand held the trophy, his left hand showed his crooked fingers. Two sides of the same coin. People liked to point out the humanity in the picture. The perfection of the imperfection; cropping the image to only his left imperfect eye or splitting the image into two, overstressing the colours on the right and dulling it out on the left. Could he even see like this? Was it all pretend, and were those tears from discomfort? Had he practised his words like this to be so fitting to the moment? – when he had said something along the lines of doing what you like the most, means that you know what you like in the first place. I’ve struggled with that sentiment this year. I’ve worked hard, but I didn’t follow my dream… and now I have this award. I’m speechless. I don’t deserve this. Of course, he said that he didn’t deserve the award. It was the only a takeaway that was quoted by both his admirers and naysayers; the trending topic of the end of the year. It was this picture that everyone still used when referring to him, because this was the last time we saw him posing as Jin.