PLEASE READ: To retierate, this work borrows BTS' real-life situation as a fictional background for fictitious worldbuilding. It is in no way meant to imitate, represent or assume BTS' actual situation. Whatever the characters do are of absolutely no relation to the actual BTS members and no reader should take away that these are how the actual members are like. I borrowed some aspects of their situation as a premise to base a story upon, in a similar way to how BTS World is crafted (though I understand fully there are many differences between writing a fic like this and BigHit Ent releasing BTS World) and movies and stories about impactful figures. The similarities between BTS' real life-situation and this fic may cause discomfort, so please do not read if you foresee you may be uncomfortable.
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The studio lighting burns into his corneas, so Taehyung shuts his eyes. His ears stay listening to the shutter sounds, so he whispers to himself to keep the sounds out. His flesh itches with the overhead spotlight so bright, shape of his cartilage mapped out behind him as a shadow. Brighter, till the satin of his skin is clear to every single person bustling in the room.
They can see the pigmentation of his legs, uneven over his shin, and the scar he got from last Tuesday. He wasn’t sewed together as well as they think he is, but the airbrush over the hi-res photos will cover up as usual.
The photographer kneels. Release, focus—click, the sequence of shutter sounds. The cameras look like eyes after a while, but maybe more extreme with the infallible memory. Taehyung stands still as the staff ties the scarf around his neck, cold fingers brushing his neck. The loose knot sits below his collarbone.
The staff catches his wince.
“Are you okay?” She asks softly.
“Yeah. It’s bright,” Taehyung smiles a little. He jokes, “Since everything’s white.”
“You should be used to it by now,” the staff teases, briskly walking off for the shoot to start.
Taehyung slants like a ragdoll to the director’s calls. The staff look pleased, as always; they often say he’s the easiest to work with since he’s a natural. Effortless poses, like it’s a reflex. He’s crafted so beautifully some photographers can’t help but gape in awe.
As he roams back to the waiting room, he asks if he still needs his make-up. When the staff says no, he heads straight for the bathroom and splashes his face with water. The lipstick stays but some of the concealer seeps off, bringing some colour to his paper white cheeks.
The water droplets roll down his neck and stain his shirt. Taehyung looks up at the mirror and sees Namjoon staring back at him.
He had tailed him. “You seem kind of out of it. Everything alright?”
“Just feeling kind of tired, hyung,” Taehyung honestly admits, making a face to lighten the mood. He’s asked this question twice, once was just last week.
“You said you haven’t been sleeping well, right? Should you see a doctor?”
“It’s not that bad. Anyway, Bogum-hyung says it’s not good to get sleeping pills. You’ll get used to it.” Taehyung snivels.
“He’s right. But sometimes, people just need it.” There’s a hint of a question in his tone.
Taehyung replies to it. “I don’t, hyung. I think that since we just finished our tour, it’s weird for me to rest. So, it’s hard to sleep.”
Namjoon nods empathetically, squeezing his shoulder. “Just don’t become a workaholic. Tell me if it continues, alright?”
“Yeah. Thanks, hyung. I appreciate it.” Taehyung grins.
He walks out with Namjoon’s arm around his shoulders. They find Seokjin and Jungkook sitting on the couch, Seokjin with a camera in his hand. He speaks animatedly to the camera and Namjoon instinctively muffles a laugh, strolling over to join them.
Taehyung throws himself onto a chair and watches the three. Yoongi and Hoseok are off to the side on their phones. As he carelessly looks for Jimin, he shows up, sitting by Taehyung’s side.
“Are you okay?” Jimin asks.
Taehyung answers more bluntly this time. “Tired.” He goes back to staring at the trio.
Seokjin laughs at some small comment Jungkook makes. His eyes gleam with a childish optimism that rivals the youth Jungkook has in his expressions. With how happy-go-lucky he is, Taehyung has rarely seen him genuinely upset.
He’s envious. Why does Seokjin age differently?
It must come with a price.
Taehyung leans back and glances to Yoongi. He seems tired, not that he’d bother to hide it. As he’s about to get up, he catches Namjoon whispering to Seokjin.
Seokjin’s eyes go to him while Jungkook tries to listen in. Taehyung stares back and curls his lips.
Seokjin stands, holding the camera, and heads towards him. Taehyung sighs inwardly and glances away.
“Taehyung, Jimin, say something for the camera,” Seokjin calls, settling down by Taehyung’s side. Their hands brush and Taehyung leans a little away, mustering up a brighter smile.
Jimin prods his face into the camera. Seokjin swats him away and puts an arm around Taehyung, doing the talking along with Jimin.
He leaves in a few minutes to find Hoseok. Taehyung finally relaxes, letting out a long breath.
The trip back to the dormitory is shorter than he expected, the van quiet with darkness. Taehyung unwinds into the seat and the late night radio, feeling every crackle down his skin. He basks in the flitting darkness the highway affords him, watching the cars rush by home. The tawny lampposts paint his arms with jaundice.
Once they reach home, Taehyung goes to his room. He doesn’t switch on the lights, sitting on the edge of his bed and staring at nothing.
It’s comfortable. Like a warm cloak, despite how the air stings with coldness.
He jolts when the door creaks open and the light rushes in, along with Seokjin’s profile. Taehyung smiles, hoping his lips turn the right way.
“Why are you sitting in darkness? You’re so weird,” Seokjin remarks, softer than his usual loudness—quite obnoxious at times.
“I was going to sleep, hyung. Tired,” Taehyung says, hoping he gets the hint. “Didn’t get much sleep last night.”
“You and Jungkook. I have no idea what you two are up to at night. You’re still growing so you should sleep early.”
“Growing? I'm in my twenties, hyung.”
Seokjin enters the room and shuts the door behind him. He sits on the floor by Taehyung’s legs, back against the bed. Surprisingly, he doesn’t turn on the lights.
“You aren’t going to turn on the lights, hyung?”
“It’s okay. Didn’t you want to sleep?”
“You’re going to sit here while I sleep?” Taehyung raises his brows. He can only see Seokjin’s face vaguely with the curtains drawn close.
“I haven’t been spending much time with you, so this will do.”
Taehyung scoffs in amusement, making out Seokjin’s grin without the need for seeing. Taehyung slides down to join Seokjin on the floor and pulls his legs towards his chest.
“I thought you said you were tired?”
Taehyung shuts his eyes when Seokjin gently strokes his head. “It’s fine. Haven’t spent much time with you, hyung.”
Seokjin chuckles. They sink into an all-encompassing silence, one Taehyung feels through the fibre of his skin—along with an unusual warmth on his left.
They’ve never been particularly close out of the group, though it doesn’t mean they aren’t close. All seven of them are, with how the years have burned by into a revolutionary development they never expected—how the spotlight has expanded, is still expanding at an alarming rate. The headlines today will never forget to slap on the word ‘global’ whenever they’re mentioned.
It’s just that there are years between Seokjin and Taehyung that naturally puts some distance. For the older ones, Namjoon and Seokjin dote on Jungkook most while Hoseok and Yoongi treats them equally. That’s not to say Seokjin never took care of him. He did. A lot. In a time that should be resevered for growing up and making mistakes, they had to stress out over how the public saw them and never to slip up. Seokjin would often comfort them and handle questions that stumped even Namjoon, keeping things under control.
“Sorry. I know it must have been annoying, bringing the camera over to you when you were tired.”
Taehyung flutters open his eyes while Seokjin continues touching his head. “I wasn’t annoyed, hyung.”
“I mean, it must have been more tiring for you.”
“It’s fine. Our schedules have been lighter recently. This is nothing.”
Seokjin hums in reply. Taehyung thinks back to several hours ago. If Seokjin knew he was annoyed, why’d he do it anyway?
They settle in quietness once more as the minutes ebb away, hearing the vague noises from the members outside. Seokjin’s hand moves to rest on Taehyung’s shoulder.
It’s nice. These past months, he’d sit in the pitch black of his room alone and enjoy the serenity. It was somewhat sombre and a little eerie initially, but Taehyung found it oddly nice after a long day in front of the camera. Quiet, no bright lights. The shutter sounds get so loud sometimes, like gunshots.
Like a second skin he can wear, it became somewhat of a habit to soak in the dimness of his room. It’s just difficult to get some peace and quiet.
Taehyung glances at Seokjin, discerning only his bright eyes. In a darkness like this, he can’t even tell himself apart from the wallpaper.
From Seokjin’s hand on his back, he feels up Seokjin's arm to his neck, making Seokjin jerk.
“Nothing,” Taehyung chuckles. “I thought you left the room, hyung. You’re so quiet. It’s not like you.”
“Wouldn’t that be scary? Whose hand is this on your shoulder, then?” Seokjin jokes. “Oh, then, do you want me to make some noise?”
Taehyung laughs softly. He puts his fingers over Seokjin’s hand on his back.
“Don’t let go, hyung,” he sighs, shutting his eyes. Now that Seokjin's here, he realises something—sitting in darkness is a little scary, even if it is comfortable.
Seokjin shifts closer. “I won’t.”