The dressing room was crowded. The number of people preparing them for the concert, making sure everything was going as planned could easily form a small village. It was time for the make-up and hair team to work their magic – visuals were a crucial part of every show.
“Ahh, an hour until the show,” Hoseok announced into the camera, filming his surroundings. He was smiling widely, already dressed up. He waved his hands, trying to cool down since the air was so stuffy and the outfit he was wearing didn’t help with the heat, either. Jin grinned at him.
“They’re going to need to put more powder on you,” Jin teased, pointing out Hoseok’s glowing face.
“What?!” Hoseok gasped, pretending to be offended. “Likewise, hyung!”
Jin was comfortably sat in a chair while the stylist was putting the finishing touches on his dark hair. He looked into the mirror intensely whilst Hoseok filmed.
“Worldwide handsome,” he said dramatically as he blew a kiss at the camera. “Always handsome.”
Hoseok bumped him on the shoulder gently as he started laughing – his smile was contagious and beautiful, often described with words such as sunshine and wonderful. To say Hoseok was sunshine in human form wasn’t a stretch; he often went out of his way to comfort others and bring laughter to their faces. Having been through a lot of tough times, he found a sense of hope and love, and he made it his personal mission to spread that around him like a virus. He turned around on his heel, pacing towards Taehyung who was chewing on something, looking at his phone. The dark suit with intricate embroidery flattered his figure, and the shade of his hair particularly brought out the color of his eyes.
“Tae, how are you getting ready for the show?” Hoseok gesticulated with his hands, pretending to hold a microphone just like a reporter on the red carpet would. Taehyung smiled softly at him.
“By relaxing,” he simply replied. There was a sense of calamity to Taehyung’s presence, especially before important events. Not to say that there wasn’t a wild side to him – he certainly had a childish, giggly and bubbly persona – especially when he was in cahoots with the rest of the maknae. Sat comfortably on the leather couch, he was saving his energy. Hoseok decided not to bother him and took a good shot of him before moving on. He interviewed Jimin quickly before saying goodbye to the camera – there wasn’t much time left before the performance. Namjoon seemed grumpy so Hoseok decided it was best not to bother him.
Performances mattered a lot to the group. Their huge success was something they only could have dreamed of, yet they had achieved it. They flew sky high and it didn’t seem like they would stop any time soon. All of them could agree that the reason for all of it was their fans. They worked their asses off to give more than a hundred percent and took it to heart if they didn’t deliver. It was insane to expect such above-average performances and shows all the time, especially with how their schedule was jam-packed with activities, but the boys kept working (too) hard. They didn’t want to disappoint.
“Hoseok,” Namjoon called from across the room. Clenching his teeth, his facial expression was hard to decipher. Hoseok almost pranced his way across the room, smiling serenely. As soon as he could see Namjoon’s face, he froze.
“Is everything okay?” he asked, not being able to hide the worry in his voice. Namjoon kept staring around the room as if he was looking for something.
“We’re on in thirty,” he said seriously. Hoseok couldn’t figure out anything from that so he made a confused face.
“I know, everyone’s almost ready,” he replied, looking around the room. Namjoon looked like he was not having it.
“Where’s Yoongi?” he asked, almost accusingly, counting the members in his head one more time. Hoseok looked confused for another minute until he counted them himself.
“Oh!” Hoseok gasped. Indeed – Yoongi was absent. Hoseok started rewinding the film in his head – from the second they entered the dressing room to the very moment his conversation with Namjoon began.
“We were all here,” he remembered loudly and continued. “Jungkook and Tae sat down first,” he squinted. “I went to get my hair done. Jimin-“ he got cut off.
“Yoongi was here,” Namjoon said dryly. “Where is he now?”
Namjoon’s energy spread quickly around the room – Jin soon approached them, noticing the tension. Namjoon briefly updated him on the situation.
“Did you call him?” Jin inquired. Namjoon nodded.
“How did we lose him?” Hoseok was puzzled. Jimin, Taehyung, and Junkook all joined the group which soon started looking like a huddle.
“What’s up?” Jimin chimed in with a playful smile – completely misreading the situation – to Hoseok’s complete and utter shock.
“Oh! – where’s your nunchi, Jiminie?” Hoseok scolded, hitting him lightly on the shoulder.
Korean nunchi could be explained as a combination of tact, perceptiveness, ability to grasp social situations with ease and having a sense of interpreting an encounter, as well as knowing how to respond to it. It could be translated closely as emotional intelligence – something Jimin was severely lacking at the moment.
“Sorry, hyung,” he whimpered, lowering his head.
“We need to be on stage in twenty minutes and Yoongi isn’t here,” Namjoon repeated briefly, this time so everyone could hear. There was a hope inside him that someone would know where Yoongi was and why he hadn’t been replying to his texts or returning his missed calls the past thirty minutes. This had never happened before – before shows, Yoongi could most often be found on the couch, trying to catch a few winks before the exhausting choreographies or sitting in the make-up chair with his eyes closed, letting the stylist fix him while – also – trying to sleep. Yoongi tried to retain as much energy as possible, but he was often provoked by other members who were trying to get him to do something – so there was always an audible sign that Yoongi was present. Even if it was just a cuss.
The group exchanged perplexed looks. They were never late for their shows, which they were now risking for the first time, but they couldn’t go on without Yoongi. The fans deemed each of them equally important and they loved them all the same.
“Let’s just look for him. Maybe he fell asleep,” Jin suggested. He offered a simple reason for Yoongi’s absence in hopes of calming the group down. Namjoon nodded, advising the members on where to look. The time was slowly running out.
He grabbed his sparkly jacket and exited the room with a very determined face. There was absolutely nothing stopping him from dragging Yoongi’s ass on stage – given he was asleep, of course – Namjoon didn’t even dare to imagine anything worse than that. Yoongi oversleeping was something he was furious but very comfortable with.
* * *
The VIP restricted hallways leading to the stage were busy – everyone was mingling around, doing their part of the job. Bangtan concerts slowly transitioned from being just that – concerts – to complete spectacles that sold out in a matter of minutes. They had grown from just a talented group to a worldwide sensation almost overnight.
“I’m worried,” breathed Jimin as they were hurrying down the hall. Taehyung looked at him, making his way through.
“I know. Me too.”
The concert was closer with each passing minute. There wasn’t much time left before they had to open with House of Cards.
“He’s not picking up,” Jimin stated nervously as the took a turn on the left. They could hear their names being yelled from afar.
“Jimin-ssi, Taehyung-ssi!” They could see one of the staff members pointing at the door to his right. They made a mad dash towards the door.
“Call Namjoon,” Taehyung ordered, staring in front of himself.
* * *
“I cannot believe this,” Namjoon groaned as he and Hoseok paced down the hall. “This is so unlike him.”
“Namjoonie, what if something happened?” Hoseok asked, worriedly, as he kept up with Namjoon’s fast pace. Namjoon didn’t answer. It truly was dreadful to think about the possibility. Namjoon couldn’t imagine his life without Yoongi – he was his roommate, his dearest friend, someone he could confide in. Thinking about his struggles made him feel uneasy. Though, Yoongi had been vocal about his past struggles. Just a few months prior to the events, he released his mixtape, rapping about his mental health issues and life struggles. It was devastating to hear, but it also made Namjoon incredibly proud of him. Not to mention it sounded damn good. Jimin even said he cried when he listened to it. Perhaps it was foolish of Namjoon to suppose Yoongi was doing well. He hadn’t asked him about it in a while, as they were insanely busy, and because it seemed like Yoongi had control over everything. It seemed like he put everything in the right place.
How could I have been so blind?
Namjoon was lost in his thoughts. He could feel his heart sink, worrying about Yoongi. There was a strong urge in him to protect him, to make sure he was okay. Thinking he wasn’t; terrified him.
His phone rang, interrupting his train of thought.
“Come here right now.”
“Where? What is going on?” Namjoon murmured as he stopped walking to concentrate.
“I’ll text you.”
Namjoon and Hoseok literally sprinted to the location Taehyung sent them. There was no further explanation in the text which made their anxiety levels go through the roof. The air was stuffy, everyone was sweating in their outfits, their make-up was beginning to look a lot less glamorous. Namjoon made an entrance and skimmed around the room – Yoongi’s jacket was thrown on the floor next to his mobile phone that kept buzzing still. The sink was overflown with water and Namjoon could see Jimin crouched in front of the bathroom stall.
“Yoongi-ya,” Namjoon called.
“Yoongi,” he said softly as he approached the door. Jimin stood up with tears in his eyes. Nothing happened for a whole minute which felt like a whole century. The six of them were exchanging nervous looks, not knowing what to do while Yoongi had locked himself in the bathroom stall. They were completely unprepared for such a situation. Finally, Yoongi’s sobs echoed from the stall.
* * *
Space was limited with the stuffy air filling the bathroom stall. Yoongi felt nauseous. The wave of horridness consumed his whole body – he couldn’t think, he couldn’t move. It sneaked up on him. He didn’t know it would be this bad. Anxiety wasn’t a new thing to him, even though he didn’t like it, but he had become almost comfortable with it. It was something he had been dealing with since he was about eighteen. He referred to it as mind pollution, even though he couldn’t quite understand it. He didn’t like crowds, he didn’t like unfamiliar faces, he didn’t feel comfortable in new situations. It was what his anxiety made him become. God knows, he was giving it best shot – trying to appreciate every moment and fight the mess in his head. It was funny how his life had become a series of paradoxes – an underground rapper becomes an idol, a socially anxious kid must stand on stage in front of thousands of people, a person with a strong value for privacy becomes the target of media and haters. Most days he just wanted to be left alone. He wanted to sleep, he wanted to eat, and he wanted to make music. Yet, he couldn’t sleep because their schedule was too tight, he couldn’t eat because he would get called fat. The only thing left was the music. It saved him too many times and, even though he couldn’t go out and perform, there was a hope inside him that it would somehow save him this time, too.
As he was pondering, he felt a pain in his chest like his heart was going to rip through – quite literally – and end up on the cold bathroom floor.
Then I wouldn’t have to sit next to a toilet.
If he hadn’t been such a complete mess, he might have even made himself laugh. But it only got worse as he couldn’t breathe properly. Images of the roaring crowd suddenly oversaturated his brain – he couldn’t get them out of his head. He started sobbing quietly, to himself, as he was battling the intrusive thoughts in his head. There were thousands of people out there waiting for him. Thinking of disappointing just one person was paralyzing to him – imagine disappointing all the people waiting at the concert hall. One word roamed his mind.
His whole body was shaking.
He felt the thick air fill his nostrils as he was now gasping to breathe, grabbing his collar and ripping his shirt open.
His brain kept throwing ugly words at him while he could hear Namjoon and Hoseok shout at him to open the door. They were ready to knock them down. The room was in a state of complete and utter chaos.
Yoongi tried arguing with his brain, trying to clear his thoughts but all he could think about was the thousands of disappointed faces after tonight.
After he couldn’t go on stage.
He almost accused himself of giving himself the luxury treatment of staying in hiding, far away from all the looks, all the comments, all the shining stage lights. The guilt he was starting to feel soon became unbearable. Whatever respect he had for himself was now lost, thinking how weak he was – how he was just a joke. How dared he spit fire in Cyphers, how dared he proclaim himself as superior, as more talented, as an artist when all he was – was sitting on the cold bathroom floor, hiding from the people who showed him such dedication and admiration. He clenched his fists tightly as he could hear Hoseok’s gentle pleads.
Suddenly, he started thinking about the rest of the group. He couldn’t fathom why they loved him, how he deserved them when he was letting them all down. He was singlehandedly ruining the dreams they had been building – stealing the stars from their shiny night, one by one. That’s what he thought of himself. His brain was ruthless and vicious as he kept thinking so poorly of himself. There was no energy left in him. He wanted to scream.
Yoongi could barely make out the noises coming from the other side, but he could hear Jimin crying. His angelic voice wasn’t supposed to be sad – not now, not ever. He was supposed to be on that stage, gracefully moving his body to the beautiful melodies. He was supposed to be smiling at the crowd.
It seemed that thinking of Jimin and what he deserved startled Yoongi from his thoughts for just one second. That second was enough for Yoongi to lift himself up only barely to reach the lock on the stall door. The door flew open immediately.
“Hyung,” Hoseok stuttered. They immediately pulled him up. Yoongi surrendered – he closed his eyes as tears were streaming down his porcelain-white face.
The eldest in the group handled Yoongi’s limp body, trying to pull him out of the bathroom. He protested loudly, grabbing himself onto the sink – it was like he was fighting for his life. Jin held him gently, feeling his heart break for Yoongi. They couldn’t drag him outside. They didn’t know what to do.
He knew he would regret this; he knew he would be embarrassed, yet it was completely out of his control. It was like his soul was stripped naked in front of them, like there was nothing left he had for himself, like he had shared so many things he wanted to keep to himself. Luckily, those were the best six people in the damn world to go through this with. Namjoon cleared out the bathroom and instructed the rest on what to do. Hoseok pulled Yoongi into his arms and they sat on the floor, leaning against the wall. Namjoon knew that the smartest thing to do at this moment was let Yoongi’s sunshine shine on him. Hoseok brightened even the darkest of his days.
Hoseok was humming a calming melody, rocking Yoongi in his arms as he drifted off to sleep.