Yoongi hates the word "pretty."
Hates the way it looks printed on a page, hates the way it grates and puffs over vocal chords, hates the way it feels when it slithers in through his ears and wraps cold heaviness into his lungs.
Min Yoongi is not "pretty."
He'd learned a long time ago that boys aren't supposed to be pretty. Boys aren't supposed to be soft and pale. Boys aren't supposed to like other boys.
Pretty boy, pretty boy.
Yoongi hates "pretty."
The dongsaengs are too thick to pick up on it, or they just ignore Yoongi's reactions because they like getting a rise out of him, anyway.
"I'd let you be my girlfriend, hyung," Jungkook snickers, Taehyung next to him grinning like an idiot, "You're so pretty in that dress."
Pretty boy. Such a pretty boy.
"Fuck off," Yoongi growls, practically ripping the maid outfit over his head. He's mad, so mad, and he's not really sure why, but his hands are shaking, and something deep inside of him quakes like it wants to cry.
Pretty boy, oh pretty boy.
"It's just for the fans," Namjoon murmurs, watching Yoongi redress with something akin to concern in his dark eyes, "Besides, you're already mygirlfriend."
It's an attempt to lighten the confusingly tense atmosphere, and Jungkook giggles, gagging dramatically, but Yoongi doesn't think it's very funny. "Don't say that again," he snarls lowly, and instantly the room quiets.
Yoongi has to get out. Has to go find a way to empty his head, to dispel the shadow tendrils lapping at his mind. His inner core shivers, bathing his body in cold, nauseous dread, the likes of which he's left buried for years.
"I'll be at the studio," he fairly growls, and flees.
No one comes after him, and they don't have any schedules, so Yoongi doesn't bother returning to the dorm for a few days. He sleeps on the couch, munches on the occasional snack from the vending machine outside, composes lyrics and tracks in the dead of night when the anger and fear make him tremble so hard that it's difficult to write.
He can hardly see past the echoing in his mind.
Look at you, such a pretty, pretty boy.
He clenches his teeth, crumpling the paper in his hand, and throws it as hard as he can. It doesn't even hit the wall.
Aw, pretty boy.
He jerks into the dorm on trembling legs, running on a total of about three hours of sleep, his eyes bloodshot and hollow. Namjoon envelops him in a firm hug, and Yoongi leans against him gratefully, allowing himself to be lead to the bedroom and pulled down on the bed next to his boyfriend. He's asleep almost as soon as his body meets the blankets.
He doesn't sleep well.
There you are, pretty boy. Come now, don't run away.
Yoongi starts awake gasping, chest heaving, dampness on his cheeks.
It takes less than a week for the word to come up again. Half out of stupidity, and half out of curiosity: the maknae line is arguing about which one of them is the best looking.
Yoongi looks on, amused and grateful for the distraction, before Hoseok comes up behind him, clapping him on the back and announcing, "Enough, all of you. Everyone knows that A.R.M.Y.s think Suga-hyung is the prettiest."
Our pretty boy.
Jungkook and Jimin in pout, while Taehyung continues to grin vacantly, but Yoongi's blood is frozen in his veins, slicing his raw insides and choking him on his own memories. Hoseok's hand on his shoulder feels like lead.
Where are you going, pretty boy?
Yoongi swallows dryly, and forces himself not to get upset. This is Hoseok, and Hoseok only ever means well. Smiling weakly, he looks up, and meets Jungkook's suspicious gaze. His stomach drops.
"Yah, that's not fair!" The maknae's voice is high and whiny in the way it only ever is when he's acting up for attention, "Suga-hyung's only the prettiest because he looks the most like a girl."
You could be a girl, pretty boy. A pretty little girl.
Yoongi swears he actually blacks out for half a second, because his vision dims and through the ringing in his ears there's someone shouting.
It's not until a moment later that he realizes that someone is him, and that the others are staring at him. But their faces are distorted in his mind, and Yoongi can't tell if their expressions are of terrified shock, or venomous glee. Everything keeps shifting, flickering, and Yoongi's having a hard time keeping up.
Don't cry, pretty boy.
"Say that again!" He screams, "Say that again, you fucking piece of shit!" It's not Jungkook he's screaming at, but the shadow draped over Jungkook's body, the nebulous darkness occupying the far end of the couch, mouthing old words in familiar voices, leering, mocking him.
Listen to me, pretty boy.
"--YOONGI!" Namjoon's voice breaks through the haze in his mind, and he thrashes wildly to try and face him. Something's hold him down, the shadows are keeping him captured, he can't move--
Now you can stay with us, pretty boy. No running away.
"Yoongi, you need to calm down." Namjoon's face wavers in front of him--above him?--and Yoongi gasps, trying to reach for him, but there are hands everywhere, blocking his sight and crawling under his clothes and Yoongi jerks violently because it can't happen again, it can't, he can't, he won't--
"Yoongi!" The voices are getting dimmer, there are hands all over him, touching him, Yoongi doesn't want to be touched oh god no please stop stopstop--
Stop struggling, pretty boy.
When he startles into awareness, Namjoon is pressed close next to him, Yoongi held securely under his arm. Yoongi's head jerks up from its place on Namjoon's chest and the younger is quick to calm him, his free hand tossing a novel aside in favor of coming up to stroke Yoongi's hair comfortingly. Incrementally he relaxes into the touch, closing his eyes and settling back down, using the silence to try and recall the events leading up to his current situation.
It's entirely unpleasant, he quickly realizes, and he finds himself somewhat glad that his brain at least had had the decency to quit. Still, Yoongi trembles. Frightening vestiges of stale memories lap at his consciousness, trauma he'd long tried to bury resurfacing and echoing again in newer, familiar voices.
It had been so real, so unnerving.
Yoongi gives a particularly hard shudder, and it's enough to pull words out of Namjoon.
"What happened?" he rumbles under Yoongi's ear, sounding very un-Namjoon-ishly worried, "You really had us scared." "Sorry," Yoongi mumbles instead. Namjoon's hand rubs down his spine and brushes against bare skin where Yoongi's shirt has ridden up over his hip, and Yoongi jerks. The contact should be comforting, or at least comfortable, but right now being touched in that particular region brings shadowy figures leaping behind his eyelids. Yoongi whimpers.
"Talk to me," Namjoon orders pleadingly, but Yoongi shakes his head, not meeting his gaze.
"Please," Namjoon pleads, "you were...you were screaming like...like I've never heard before, fuck, you sounded so...so...hurt. Like something awful was after you, you just kept screaming and I...I know something happened. To you. And I can only guess what, and I keep thinking and imagining all these horrible things and praying I'm wrong, I just--" Namjoon rubs a hand over his face tiredly, and Yoongi feels him shudder. "I just want to help. I don't...I don't ever want you to feel like that again, it was...it was so hard, Yoongi, please. What happened to you?"
Don't tell anyone, pretty boy. This is our secret.
"I can't," Yoongi chokes miserably, hiding his face in Namjoon's chest as he feels the press of hot tears start to build, "I'm sorry, I can't, it's..." It's too hard. It's too real, out loud.
"I can't say it," he mumbles sadly, "I just can't."
A beat of silence. "What if I guess?"
Yoongi's head whips up, suspicious. "If I guess what happened to you...what you saw that made you scream like that," Namjoon clarifies, deliberate, something like determination in the set of his jaw, "if I guess right, will you tell me? I'll ask yes or no questions only; you won't have to say anything..."
Namjoon's solution is no better. That word, that hateful, horrible word will still be spoken aloud, will still sink into the air like a nail into a coffin, will still rattle Yoongi down to his bones for months. It's too real, far too real, and Yoongi still struggles to cling to that last shred of avoidant denial.
But Namjoon wants to know, deserves to know.
Yoongi nods, and then Namjoon steals the breath from his body.
"You were...raped, right?"
Yoongi can't breathe. It's too tight, too hot in the circle of Namjoon's arms and he's shivering, nausea rolling over him in thick waves, cold sweat all along his body.
He doesn't have to say yes.
Pretty boys like you are supposed to like this.
"How did you know?" Yoongi whispers later, limbs still quivering even as Namjoon rubs his back and pets his hair and murmurs gentle things into his temple. "You knew. How...how did you know?" I've tried so hard to hide it, he wants to say, tell me how I've failed.
"When you were..." Namjoon makes a vague gesture next to his head, "um, not right...you kept screaming at us. You kept...you kept screaming at us to stop, that it hurt, that you didn't want to be touched and I...I just knew. You were crying. I've never seen you cry like that before."
"You wouldn't stop," Yoongi croaks suddenly, even as his mind shrieks at him to stop talking, "You were holding me down, and you wouldn't stop...they wouldn't stop. They didn't...they just kept..."
"There was more than one?" Namjoon asks, sick, and Yoongi nods distantly, eyes clouded over, "There were so many hands...all over me, and they wouldn't stop...they kept...they kept telling me how...p-pretty I was, how much I looked like a girl..." He shakes his head violently, trying to dispel the images flashing in his mind.
"They called me ‘pretty boy,’” Yoongi whispers faintly, eyes sliding shut, “I h-hate that word…”
“I’m sorry,” Namjoon murmurs into the crown of Yoongi’s head, hugging him tightly, “I didn’t know, we didn’t know.” “‘s not your fault,” Yoongi mumbles, half-asleep already, his body and mind exhausted from the day’s emotional charge, “‘m sorry I didn’ tell you.”
If Namjoon says anything more, it’s lost to Yoongi’s ears as his consciousness slips away, and he spirals backwards into the pull of sleep.
In the morning the dorm is quiet, so quiet, and Yoongi spends a few minutes in bed, just listening, wondering if he’s gone deaf during the night. Namjoon is gone and the sheets are cool but his scent is still imprinted on the pillows, so Yoongi doesn’t mind wasting time lying there.
He drifts off, he must, because when he blinks again Jin is there, putting a bowl of soup next to his bed. “Thanks,” Yoongi croaks, still half out-of-it, and Seokjin smiles benevolently, smoothing down Yoongi’s hair before disappearing. Yoongi wriggles sort-of-upright and reaches out for the steaming bowl. It feels like he’s been run over, several times, by a train. He’s entirely exhausted, his mouth is dry and cottony, and his head aches fuzzily.
The hot broth clears the haze in his mind, if only a little.
The dorm is still eerily silent when Yoongi finally manages to haul himself out of bed and teeter barefoot down the hall towards the kitchen. The lack of noise is unsettling, almost, and Yoongi breathes a quiet sigh of relief when he turns the corner to find the other six members in the living room, watching some TV show, the volume cranked way down.
Jungkook is the first to notice Yoongi’s arrival, and he startles the rapper when he jumps up, thick tears springing to his eyes. “Hyung I’m s-sorry!” He wails, launching himself at the elder, who gasps for air at the impact of Jungkook’s solid weight, “I didn’t kn-know! I w-was j-j-just trying to t-tease you, I d-didn’t know!”
Yoongi looks up, confused, and meets Namjoon’s steady gaze. The younger tilts his head as if to say, “He gets it, why you reacted to what he said,” and Yoongi understands.
“It’s okay, Kookie,” Yoongi assures the maknae, squirming in the youngest’s tight hold, “I don’t blame you. You couldn’t have possibly known; it’s okay.”
“I’m still sorry,” Jungkook mumbles, finally pulling back and scrubbing furiously at his damp cheeks, “I sh-shouldn’t have kept pushing when I knew you didn’t like it.” Yoongi pats him on the shoulder, awkward at the display of emotion, and heads past him to claim a spot on the couch, squeezing his way between Namjoon and Jimin. The younger’s eyes are downcast.
“You should tell us, next time, hyung,” he murmurs, looking sad and vaguely guilty—Yoongi squirms; dealing with emotions and people has never been comfortable for him—“You can tell us to stop, you know.”
Yoongi doesn’t think Jimin understands the weight of his words, but he smiles softly, ruffling the other’s hair, and settles into Namjoon’s side.
You can tell us to stop.