38. “You know I didn’t mean that.”
"Seokjin h-hyung?" Jimin is unable to keep the stutter and worry out of his voice. He is glad that he is not alone - his five brothers are standing behind him - but he is not sure how much of a help they can be in this kind of situation.
Why is their lovely hyung hiding underneath the study desk in the dark, looking scared, lost, sad, biting his lips and on the verge of tears, hugging his knees and rocking himself? Jimin turns back and sees shock on Hobi and Jungkook's face. Yoongi and RM look lost for the first time and V looks scared and hesitant. Jimin himself is scared.
He has to do something. He kneels down in front of Jin and gently moves his hand forward but immediately takes it back as if he is electrocuted as he watches Jin flinch and curl into himself.
He whispers, "I w-won't hurt you, Jin h-hyung."
Jin murmurs, "Not h-hyung."
Jimin looks even more confused.
Thankfully Hobi comes to the rescue. Jimin gently leans onto RM's solid chest and watches Hobi reach out to Jin. "Seokjinnie, Jinnie dear, you are not our hyung now, right? You are Jinnie, right?"
Jin nods hesitantly but his eyes are still wide, filled with tears and frightened. He looks unsure and it breaks all of their hearts to see their eldest hyung, their pillar, the one who holds them together like this, in this vulnerable state.
Hobi smiles - the others don't know how he can smile in a situation like this but this is why he is J Hope, this is why he is their ball of sunshine honestly and they are glad they have him now, the smile isn't fake either.
Hobi doesn't move, he just presents his hands and waits for Jin to take it patiently and Jin does after a few minutes. The others relax as they see Jin, Jinnie, reach out to Hobi's outstretched hands.
Hobi hugs him tightly and asks, "Why are you hiding there, Jinnie ah?"
"It is comfy and not scary. I can hide from the big bad world." He sounds like a little boy, like a ten year old, cute but scared. Their hearts break further, why is hiding under the desk comfortable instead of coming to any of them? Did they put too much pressure on him unconsciously?
Jin's voice isn't his usual soft voice, it has a high pitch note to it and sounds childish, so do the words. Hobi doesn't bat an eyelash at all. He nods. "Bad monsters and nightmares, Jinnie?"
Jin nods. Hobi hugs him and Jin melts in his arms. Hobi places a kiss on Jin's forehead.
Jin seems to calm down and eventually falls asleep in Hobi's arms. Kook takes Jin's form - why does he feel so light all of a sudden - from Hobi's arms. Hobi protests but Yoongi places a hand on his shoulder and shakes his head and Hobi lets it go as Kook gently places Jin on the bed.
Hobi immediately tucks Jin in and sits next to him, holding his fingers as he sleeps, refusing to leave Jin alone on the bed.
V breaks the silence. "What is wrong with him?"
Hobi glares at V, "There is nothing wrong." He suddenly feels extremely protective of Jin.
V looks down. "How can you say that? Something is definitely off with Jin hyung! He is not his usual self. He is... weird and different and like a..."
"Are you trying to imply that he is insane, off his rockers?" He snuggles closer to Jin and starts patting the lump underneath the covers, effectively calming him.
"You know I didn’t mean that!"
RM steps in between V and Hobi.
Yoongi says, "Hobi, V is just worried. He doesn't mean it in a rude way."
"Don't interpret his words for him, hyung." Yoongi opens and closes his mouth, he wants to say something back about Hobi's remark but now really isn't the time.
Jimin puts a hand up and says, "Shh.. quiet everyone!" and everyone shuts up immediately. He points to Jin on the bed who looks like he is uncomfortable and about to wake up because of the loud noises.
He says in a hushed tone. "Arguing isn't going to help us or Jin hyung."
He looks at Hobi, "Do you know what is happening to Seokjin hyung?"
Hobi nods and looks down.
Kookie asks, "Can we h-help Jin hyung?"
Hobi nods and sighs. He has to tell them about Little space and has to make sure that they don't misunderstand Jin or his situation, he is not sure if they are ready to help Jin even if they want to, they might accidentally hurt him and Hobi really doesn't want that happening. They have to take this slow, for their sake, especially for Jin's sake.
40. “Please come with me.”
They now know about Jin's Little head space thanks to Hobi. Jin himself doesn't realize that he turned into a kid because of the stress a few nights back. He is his usual self and Hobi is secretly glad that he doesn't know. It is better if Jin doesn't know... for now. Eventually, he has to know.
Hobi does wonder what will happen if Jinnie suddenly makes an appearance in public, he doesn't want to think about it but they will figure it out together. The seven of them are always together. He makes a mental note to follow Jin when Jin steps out for shopping which is probably the only time he goes alone. And Jinnie seems to be well behaved, he looks like a kid who doesn't like strangers and crowds.
Hobi is extremely good with kids and animals and he can tell a few things about Little Jin. Little Jin knew enough not to step out of the room or their dorm. He probably knows enough to not tell anyone else. He doesn't seem very young. He seems well behaved and quiet, just looking for comfort and love, nothing else.
To be frank, few nights back was not the first time. Jin has regressed a few times before, though not directly like few nights back and Hobi was the only one who witnessed it. He even helped comfort Jin through it. Jin was probably more comfortable around Hobi's bright and caring personality and didn't feel like holding back, he probably needed it very badly.
Hobi should have done something more, he shouldn't have let it get this worse. He should have asked others' help immediately. No use in thinking about it anymore though. It has already happened.
Kook and Jimin started reading more about it and seem ready to help Jin if he were to slip again. Yoongi and RM are trying their best to help Jin out so that he won't be very stressed and slip into such an head space again. They start sharing more of his responsibilities and burdens bit by bit. The maknae line doesn't bother him a lot and Hobi always hovers around Jin. Jin seems confused by the sudden changes but seems happy and takes it in stride.
None of them leave Jin alone, especially Hope. They help him with everything from cooking to shopping to singing to dancing to writing lyrics to composing. They always try to keep him happy and feel safe.
He looks confused because they generally leave him alone as he can take care of himself but he seems pleased as well by their attention. He is so used to taking care of them but he feels happy that they are caring for him. He doesn't ask them why and they are glad for it.
V is the only person who seems unsure about it. He keeps away from Jin and doesn't talk to the others about it either.
Jin notices this odd behavior and is extremely worried about Tae. He tries talking to Tae but Tae doesn't respond at all. It gets worse and one day Tae almost pushes away the older as Jin tries to hug him. Jin's eyes flash with hurt but he quickly covers it but everyone, including Tae notices it.
Something snaps inside all of them. They are trying their best for Jin and Tae seems like he might ruin all their hard work, one person, ruining all five people's hard work and affecting Jin doesn't sound really nice. It is not fair to Jin at all. Jin doesn't deserve this.
All of them glare at V as Jin tries to diffuse the situation with his windshield wiping laugh but it just sounds awkward for the first time to their ears. V's head droops.
Kook and Yoongi get up. They say at the same time. "Please come with me."
V doesn't respond. Kook sighs and gently pulls him up and they ignore Jin's tries to let it go but they really need to have the talk with V, it has been overdue for quite a while.
They take each of his arms and all but drag him to a room and shut the door with a bang. Jin flinches but lets it go, awkwardly scratching the back of his head while Namjoon, Hobi and Jimin try to distract him.
49. “Is something wrong with me?”
Jin wakes up and feels heavy, not physically but mentally. He has been realizing it lately. There are some gaps in his memories, he feels more down and depressed, not positive as usual. He also feels a bit of anxiety and gets scared at times. He has noticed the looks his brothers give him, the whispers behind his back.
They are worried about him and the way they have treated him has changed as well. They don't let him do all the work, they don't let him be alone like before, they make sure he is fine all the time, some of them are subtle about it while others really are not. The God of destruction, the youngest bunny and purple Tae are definitely not subtle about it like Jimin, Hoseok and Yoongi.
He wipes his eyes, rubbing at them and gets up. He really doesn't feel like sleeping anymore even though the clock shows 3 AM, glaring at him in the dark, as if accusing him of something.
He opens his door quietly so he won't wake the others up - why is Yoongi not in their room? - and makes his way to the kitchen. A cup of hot chocolate will help.
He stops as he realizes that his soulmates are up, all six of them, even Jimin, Yoongi and Kook who love sleep more than the others. Why are they up at this God damn hour? He becomes a bit sad as he realizes that they haven't included him. He shakes his head, he hates his habit of overthinking and analyzing at times, they were just probably worried because he wasn't exactly feeling well the past week. They just wanted him to rest.
He just wants to go there and cuddle them but something stops him. He rubs his toes against the soft plush carpet, loving how it feels against his feet and slides down the door. He really shouldn't be doing this, he really shouldn't be listening to this but he knows that it is about him.
"How long can we hide it from him?" Min asks in worry.
Yoongi shakes his head, "Not for long."
RM whispers, "We have to tell him. He has to know. We know enough, we can help him. It is better if he knows. He has to accept this. This is nothing to be ashamed of or hidden."
Kook and Tae nod. The five turn to Hoseok who is the only one who is not accepting their views.
RM sighs, "Hobi hyung?"
Hoseok's eyes snap towards the five. "There is a reason he can't remember, he isn't ready. We can't just drop this on him."
"What if it happens in front of a crowd? What if he slips during a fan event or a concert? We can help him be ready. We can protect him for a change. He has always helped us, always protected us. There is no way any of us would hurt him knowingly or unknowingly, you know that, hyung." Kook says.
"It is better and easier if he knows this through us instead of figuring it out on his own." Jimin adds.
RM, Tae and Yoongi nod again.
Jin feels happy and sad at the same time. They are talking about him. He hears Hoseok's voice raising and the others trying to calm him down as they don't want to wake Jin who, too late, is already awake, albeit for a different reason.
He gets up and stumbles forward and announces his presence. "G-guys?"
Six shocked eyes turn towards him and Yoongi gets up, rushing towards Jin's side. "Jin hyung, why are you up so late?"
Jin rolls his eyes, "I can ask the same to you, all six of you. I couldn't sleep. But you look tired, exhausted and sleepy as hell. So why were you discussing about me instead of sleeping peacefully? What's wrong?"
They hang their heads in guilt.
Hoseok pushes Yoongi away and hugs Jin, "How much did you hear, Seokjin hyung?"
Jin smiles and pats Hobi's curly fluffy hair. "Enough to know that it is about me but not enough to know as to what is actually wrong."
He tilts his head in confusion, "I know there's something off lately but it is weird that you guys know what is wrong with me and I don't, is it something extremely serious and bad that you can't talk to me about it?"
Kook starts to say something but RM and Hobi cut him off.
Jin sighs, he just nods at Kookie who looks a little less hurt thanks to Jin's reassuring smile.
"Let him talk, na?"
RM, Yoongi and Hobi look at each other. Weren't RM, Yongi, Tae, Kook and Jimin all ready to tell Jin about it? So why is only Kook looking ready right now to talk to Jin about it?"
Jin feels a few tears prick his eyes. "Is there something wrong with me?"
Hobi hugs him tight while Yoongi wipes away his tears. Jimin and Tae hold his hands, RM hugs him from behind and Kook just gently pats his head and kisses his cheek. He leans in towards their touch and lets himself unravel. He is coming undone, he is losing himself and he hopes he won't bring the others down with him.
54. "Why are you so quiet?"
Jinnie bites his lips, he feels safe underneath the bed. He doesn't want to step out. It is dark and silent and there is no one around, it is cramped and he doesn't want to move.
"Do you think Jin hyung will remember this episode unlike previous times?" V asks.
Yoongi bites his lip and RM sighs. "We - mostly Jungkook - did talk to him about Little space two nights back and this episode doesn't seem forced... I am honestly not sure why he didn't remember before. Usually, people remember their time as a Little. I wonder why hyung is suppressing his memories."
Hobi mutters to himself. All of them had told Jin hyung about him being a Little two nights ago when Jin overheard them and Jungkook started the conversation bravely. Hobi still thinks that Jin isn't ready but the others convinced him that they will help Jin become ready, that Jin doesn't have to overcome or face these on his own, at least for that, Hobi is glad.
He ignores V, Kook and Jimin's whispers on how to get the kid to step out, it is time to take things in his own hands.
He crouches and lies down on the carpet such that his stomach is flat on the floor. He smiles, "Look at me, Jinnie."
He waits patiently for Jinnie to make eye contact, he waits and doesn't push or prod him. He doesn't make unnecessary actions or motions or sounds and is careful to keep looking at Jinnie. He makes sure to keep a smile on his face, a reassuring and calm smile, trusting and honest, nothing fake. No acting. Being straight forward is the best course.
Jinnie finally looks at him after five whole minutes.
Hobi smiles, "I am going to reach out to you, OK? Let us get out of there, Jinnie."
Jin shakes his head.
"Please? Don't you want to play?"
Another shake of head.
Hobi gently shuffles forward, joining him half underneath the bed as there is not a lot of space.
"Why are you so quiet and hard on yourself? What are you afraid of, little one? You don't have to be afraid of us, you know? We hyungs will take good care of you. You can smile and be happy and safe with us. You can do whatever you want, be it play or watch cartoons or color or sing or cuddle or cook, anything you want, we won't snap at you or beat you. We will do it together with you. You don't have to hide or be by yourself, little one. Do you understand my words, Seokjinnie? Don't you want to do many things with your hyungs?"
Jinnie bites his lips and tears threatens to fall. He trembles as he tries to hold back and all Hobi wants to do is scoop the little kid in his arms but he holds back. He can't rush it.
"Do you understand me, Jinnie?"
Kook and Jimin crawl on either side of Hobi and Jin. RM, V and Yoongi stay back.
Jimin asks softly, "Tell us what's wrong, Jinnie ah."
Kook smiles his bunny smile and says, "Hyung is really strong, you know? Look at me! I can keep all evil men away from you, no one can dare hurt you when I am here, when all of us are here. Please come out and play with us? It is hard to see you like this, Seokjinnie."
Jin bites his lips till they are chaffed and raw and almost bleeding but he takes Hobi's hand and slowly crawls out from under the bed.
He sits on Kook's lap and doesn't let go of Hobi and Jimin's hands.
"He told me to be good." They almost miss Jinnie's whisper.
"Who, Seokjinnie?" Yoongi asks.
"Someone wants you to be a good boy? Aren't you already a good boy? Playing, smiling, laughing, being together with us, singing, cooking, dancing with us isn't going to make you a bad boy, you know? Being yourself is the best, Jinnie." RM says slowly, pausing and waiting for the words to sink in.
"I c-can't be like this in front of others."
"But you can be like this in front of us, Jinnie. It is OK, we are here for you." V kneels in front of Jinnie and smiles and ruffles his hair softly.
"My big self... Jin h-hyung is afraid, he doesn't want me to t-trouble you guys. He wants me to take care of myself, I shouldn't disturb you and he is very hard on himself."
Six hearts break at the same time.
Kook and Hobi hug him tightly with tears in their eyes, unable to hold themselves back anymore. Jin, be it big or small is the same, caring for others much more than his own self, even to the point of dumbly sacrificing his own happiness and well being. Why would he continue torturing himself and suffer all alone when there are six pillars who can support him? Doesn't he realize that they can be his pillars too, that it is OK if Jin isn't their pillar all the time? That he can lean on them at times? Why doesn't he let himself do this?
The idiot, the gentle, self sacrificing, oblivious idiot. It hurts them that they can't help him even though they want to, so much, that he doesn't depend on him like all of them depend on him all the time.
Jimin says, "Jinnie... it's OK. Open up to us, OK? It is no trouble or disturbance. We want to be happy with you. Please don't hide all alone in the dark. Let us know if you are uncomfortable or scared or sad, let us know if you want something, OK?"
"I... c-can I, r-really?" The hope in his voice seems desperate, it is not something a little kid should be worried about. There is a lot of scope for change and they will make it better for Jin and Jinnie.
Kook pinches his cheeks and nods, "On God! Sure, you can, little one, you should."
Jinnie smiles and it is like the sun peeking through clouds after a thunder storm.
Maybe... maybe... things will slowly become better. Maybe... maybe... finally, things are going to be placed on the right track.
60. “Just come here.”
Jinnie fidgets a little, he is still hesitant to tell them what he wants even though they have told him that it is OK, multiple times, to voice out his opinions, even though they have assured him that he is a good kid and not a burden to them.
Jimin and Kook notice his thumbs fiddling the hem of his over sized cozy T shirt.
Kook kneels in front of Jinnie, "What do you want, little one?"
Jimin gently urges Jinnie, "You can tell us."
Kook and Jimin's words make RM, Suga, Hobi and Tae realize that something is bothering Jinnie. They watch as Jinnie yawns widely and rubs his eyes with balled up fists, still holding onto his shirt with the other. It is so cute, adorable, innocent and pure.
That's when Hobi and Tae realize something at the same time.
"You don't want to sleep alone, Seokjinnie? Is that what it is?" Tae asks softly.
Jinnie's eyes go wide in panic and fear but he relaxes as Kook ruffles his hair and Hobi hugs him and Jimin pushes him onto Hobi's lap. He hides his face on Hobi's chest and nods.
Yoongi wonders, "Whom do you want to rest with, Jinnie yah?"
Jinnie lifts his head from the safety of Hobi's chest and shoulders and looks around shyly, unable to decide. He doesn't want to choose, he loves all of them and all of them love him equally.
They smile kindly as they understand.
Namjoon smiles, "Let us all sleep together, Jinnie?"
Jinnie finally smiles and they smile along with him.
Yoongi gets up and Kook, Jimin and V follow him to bring enough blankets, mattresses and pillows for the seven of them. Namjoon motions for Jinnie, "Just come here."
Jinnie jumps from Hobi's laps thanks to Hobi's encouraging push and pads towards Namjoon with outstretched arms.
Hobi smiles and gets up and starts pushing the coffee table and couch towards the corner of the living room so as to make enough space where all of them can lie down together.
Namjoon pats the floor and Jinnie plops down next to him. Namjoon gently cards his fingers around Jinnie's neck and ears. He softly pushes so that Jinnie is lying with his head on Namjoon's lap. He hums a lullaby and gently pats Jinnie's back and rocks his thighs and soon enough Jinnie is asleep, peacefully as the others finish making the makeshift bed.
Kookie gently lifts Jinnie from Namjoon's lap ignoring Namjoon's glare and protests and places him in the middle, fluffing the pillow and covering him with blankets because Jin and Jinnie both hate the cold.
Kookie lies behind Jinnie wasting no time - he is not going to let the others take Jinnie away from him, he has to be near Jinnie and cuddle with him and ignores other's whines and pouts - and pulls Jinnie towards him, his chest pressing against Jinnie's back, arms around Jinnie's waist protectively. Jungkook isn't going to give this up even if others are going to complain, he wants this, he has dibs on Jinnie.
Hoseok lies on the other side, wasting no time, tucking Jinnie's head onto his chest.
Yoongi spoons Hoseok from behind while Jimin does the same with Kook. Namjoon settles on the other side of Jimin while V settles on the other side of Yoongi, all of them reaching out to touch a part of Jinnie, be it his hair or cheeks or ears or chest or stomach. The seven fall asleep like that, holding and protecting each other against nightmares and cold and sadness.
65. "How did it take me so long to realize?”
The seven of them are sitting on the living room couch, watching a movie. Nobody is really concentrating on it though, mind heavy because of the incident that happened the day before with Little Jinnie.
Jin remembers bits and pieces now, he still doesn't remember the entire encounter but after realizing that his members don't hate him, he is ready to talk, understand, listen and remember.
The day before, Jinnie made an appearance, got confused and frightened and refused to talk with any of them because of the loud sounds he heard from the living room where Tae and Jimin were goofing around.
A loud crash - clumsy Jimin stumbled, broke a vase, stepped on pieces and got hurt, Tae and Joon took care of him while Yoongi, Hoseok and Kookie refused to leave Jinnie's side - caused Jinnie to hide under the bed and never come out. The three tried to get Jinnie to step out but the poor kid cried and it was more serious than usual. Not the times where he used to hide so he wouldn't be found out or cause trouble to his hyungs.
This time, he was seriously scared, so afraid of the loud noises and crashes. Jimin and Tae came back and reassured him that it was fine, that none of them were hurt - Jimin's bandage on his right foot only made Jinnie flinch and retreat further under the bed - that they were just playing around, that none of them would hurt the other, emotionally or physically.
Jinnie never stopped crying. Kookie tried to crawl underneath the bed but retreated when it made Jinnie tremble and shiver more, Yoongi shook his head and asked him not to worsen the situation, to not touch Jinnie which was hard for all of them. The six just stayed near Jinnie's sight, lying on the floor, keeping a careful eye on Jinnie and watched with broken hearts as Jinnie cried himself to sleep.
They waited for a few minutes before Kookie finally couldn't take it anymore and crawled underneath and brought Jinnie outside and laid him on the bed and promptly slept next to him, covering them both with blankets, refusing to let anyone else in, not even Yoongi. They let it slide.
They realized that Seokjinnie was afraid of loud noises, of fights and crashes and blood and wounds. They didn't know why though. The six glance at Jin who looks exhausted and has big bags underneath his eyes.
Kookie is still not letting him go, he didn't even let him cook, they ordered home delivery of all Jin's favorite foods, even if Kook hadn't insisted, the others would have done the same anyway. Kookie is curled around Jin protectively, holding his hands, draping over Jin who is just smiling affectionately, too tired to say anything else.
Kookie is still not letting Jimin or Tae near Jin, they want to cuddle Jin too, so do Yoongi, Namjoon and Hoseok but they are letting the maknae have his way... for now.
Suddenly Hobi sits up. He mumbles something to himself and switches off the TV. The others don't even protest, too worried about Jin, constantly looking at him who looks like he is dozing off, normally Jin is one of the energetic ones, but not today.
RM looks at Hobi, "What is it, hyung?"
Hobi keeps muttering to himself.
Finally he looks at Jin and says, "How did it take me so long to realize?”
Yoongi narrows his eyes, "Realize what, Hoseok ah?"
Hoseok hates it but he has to do it. It is better if Jin talks. He gently kneels in front of Jin who startles awake because of Hobi's hands. He ignores Kook's glares and hisses like a curled kitten trying to protect its owner but Jin chuckles and says, "It is OK, Kookie."
He turns to Hobi, "What is it, Hoseok ah?"
Hobi bites his lips and hesitates a little. Should he talk privately with just Jin? But it is better if the others know as well right. He asks, "Is it OK if we talk here?"
Jin doesn't even hesitate, he nods. He has opened up to them after learning about his Little situation, after them accepting him. He is not as private as before. He is ready to share few things about himself so that they can help him better in his Little state.
"W-w... were you abused when you were little?"
Jin goes stiff and still.
Yoongi hisses from behind, "Jung Hoseok, is that how you ask someone-"
Namjoon gently shakes his head, "Don't raise your voice hyung, not now. Don't make it worse."
Jungkook hugs Jin tightly. He looks down. "Not my parents... but they left me with their relatives when they had w-work and it went on f-for sometime before my parents r-realized what was happening and they took me away and sued them... and i-it took me a while to r-recover from that and a-at times when I am too stressed, I b-become afraid of loud noises and f-fights and blood."
Kookie curses under his breath. "They hit a cute kid like you?"
Jin bites his lips and nods hesitantly after sometime. He knows that they are angry at the people who abused him, not at him but it is still a little bit hard to digest Kookie - their little bunny innocent maknae - cursing at someone, for his sake, for Jin's sake.
Jimin and Tae who were silent till now get up and sit on the other side - Kookie still not letting go of the left side of Jin - and envelop him tightly. Jin relaxes in his maknaes' hold.
Yoongi speaks up, "None of it is your fault, Jin ah. If you want to talk more, we are here. We are worried and any kind of abuse is wrong, be it past or present. If you are feeling overwhelmed, let us know, OK? We know it is difficult but we can help in whatever way you want us to. You are not alone, we will always be here no matter what, even if you push us away."
Because that's exactly what all of them did for Suga in the past when he was depressed, especially Jin and Namjoon.
Jin nods, he still can't bring himself to speak. But he knows, he knows that he is not alone and that is enough for now.
Hobi tries to lighten the mood, "Jinnie isn't afraid of the dark or monsters in the closet or about lying underneath the bed. He doesn't mind cramped and dark enclosed spaces at all."
Jin laughs, windshield wiper noise appearing for a few seconds. "He likes the dark, it feels safe at times, the silence and the absence of bright lights."
The others get lost in their thoughts at Jin's sad words. Jin gently drifts off to sleep in Kook's strong and safe arms.