Jimin doesn’t know what he was expecting when he volunteered to be a camp counselor over his summer break this year.
Except, strike that – he knows exactly what he was expecting. He was expecting to become the bright mast of a heavy ship on the waters of youth, a pirate's chest beneath his feet and the glittering gold of juvenile respect crowning him as he bravely led his tiny toddler and twelve-year-old crew through two months of adolescent bullshit that had once crippled him (and still cripple him now, what with the small feet, squeaky voice, and awkwardly timed growth spurts).
He knows exactly what he was expecting. And he knows, for a fact, that it was not this.
“You’ve got to be shitting me,” he says aloud when he opens up the little envelope they’d given camp names out in and sees the word Puff written in curly-q font across the bottom line of the paper. Congratulations! is stenciled at the top, right next to the overexcited smiley face and the doodled bouquet of flowers.
Congratulations. His. Ass.
One of the older ladies in the room turns and throws him a dirty look, and it takes him a moment to realize that he is no longer free to drop S-bombs and foul language because he's a role model now, and role models must be dapper young men with good hair and properly sanitized mouths. He bows his head in apology because he has achieved none of these things so far, but she ignores him in favor of clicking down the hallway in her heels as if she were Yertle the Turtle and owned all she could see.
It must be the haircut. The middle part hadn't been his brightest idea, although he'd once thought it would make him look classier. Maybe next time he'll wear highwaters and a newsboy cap and the kind of shoes you have to shine. Grandmas really seemed to dig him in that old-school schoolboy wear. It's something about his face.
They're told to take their seats again because Hoseok still has announcements to go over and fingers to shake at future naughty behavior (more towards the 16-year-old counselors with their relationship goggles on than volunteers like Jimin, but he cowers in the presence of Hoseok's mom voice all the same). He tries to listen. He really does.
It all goes to shit the second he looks back down at the paper and the name glares up at him with its gaudy swirls and infuriating happiness. He almost curses all over again because he's still not over it.
Puff. Christ on a cracker, man.
Seokjin has been the overseer of camp names for as long as Jimin can remember, so once their advising meeting is adjourned, he walks straight up to where he's still lingering onstage and waves the piece of paper in his face. “What the fuck is this, Seokjin,” he hisses under his breath so no wandering supervisors will hear him and beat him upside the head with a ruler. Seokjin shushes him anyways.
“My name is Princess Peach here,” he says authoritatively. “Don’t let me or any of the kids catch you using my real name, got it?”
“Princess Peach,” Jimin corrects sarcastically, “tell me why the hell you thought naming me Puff was a good idea.”
Seokjin brightens at this, taking the paper from Jimin’s hands and holding it up like a banner. He really doesn't understand what irritation sounds like. “Isn’t it the best? It fits you so well. I’ve honestly been waiting for years for you to join as a counselor so I could give you this name.”
“You mean you’ve been sitting on this name for years?” Jimin wants to be surprised by the fact that Seokjin hasn’t even considered that this name is, y’know, the worst name of all time, but it is coming from someone who named himself Princess Peach, after all. That says a lot. “Seok—Princess Peach. I don’t know if you know, but this name totally blows and I want a new one.”
Seokjin frowns. “You don’t like it? I thought it suited you, what with your cheeks and all.”
“That is really not helping.”
Seokjin blows his bangs out of his face, looking a little strained. “Well, I mean, I could try to talk Hobie into letting you change it, but you know how he is…”
"Are you kidding?" Jimin groans and drags a hand down his face because it's true. He knows exactly how Hoseok is. He rules this place with a toothy smile, but only to distract from the iron fist he's swinging from the other direction. What he says goes.
And apparently, what he says today is that, from now onward, Jimin will be known to all the kids and other counselors as Puff.
Jimin bemoans his entire existence.
“Are you sure there isn’t any way to convince him?” he says through his palm.
Seokjin shrugs. “Probably not. But you can try.”
“As rewarding as that sounds, I think I’d rather fight a bear with a dead fish.” He opens his fingers and looks at Seokjin through the cracks. “Do you think I’ll get a lot of shit for this?”
Seokjin shrugs again, and Jimin really just wants to sit on his shoulders so he won’t be able to move them. “I think the name is really cute.”
Yup. Jimin is doomed. There is no doubt about it.
He leaves the campground dejected, padding slowly to where he’s parked his car in the lot by the swimming hole. Tomorrow is his first day. Hoseok totally planned this so no one had any time to change their name if it was migraine-inducingly awful, Jimin is completely sure of it.
He thinks again about calling Hoseok later that night. He’s been friends with him for a few years now. He’ll take a little pity on him, right?
Then, he remembers the time that he'd broken his leg falling off the bleachers during a football game and Hoseok had laughed until he'd peed and told the entire school that Jimin had shit his pants on the way down.
People had believed it. He'd never apologized, but he did later sign Jimin's cast with a doodle of a penis.
Jimin decides he'd rather take his chances with the bear.
It’s as he’s mulling over how to erase himself from the time-space continuum via Spirit Grizzly that someone crashes into his side and knocks him to the asphalt.
“Ow,” he exclaims as his hip connects with the ground. He rolls over with a groan and rubs his assaulted area, frowning at the dirt marking the exposed part of his black gym shorts. Man, he'd just cleaned these, like, a week ago.
Suddenly, there’s a shadow winking in his vision. “You okay?”
Jimin looks up into the face of a blonde kid holding a frisbee, and his mind draws blanks.
“Um.” The guy’s eyes droop, but he doesn’t seem all that sad, and his mouth hangs open to heave in air. He’s heavy breathing through the sweat on his upper lip, and it makes Jimin think he must have been running for a while. The wet cling of his clothes to his skinny body serves as confirmation. He taps his foot as he waits for Jimin’s reply, reaching up with his free hand to wipe the sweat from his bangs, and Jimin is not nearly as grossed out as he should be. “I’m…fine?”
The guy cocks his head. “Why are you saying it as if it’s a question? I don’t know if you’re fine or not.”
“I…” Jimin trails off when someone runs up behind the guy, breathing even harder than he is. He's a lot less sweaty, but a lot more red in the face.
“Are you okay?” the new person repeats, sliding his hands down to rest on his knees and peering into Jimin’s face. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know the frisbee would go that far—”
“It was my fault,” Guy #1 interjects, rolling his head to crack his neck and staring down at Jimin with something between curiosity and apathy. It's a strange look. Jimin can't say he's ever seen it before. “I wasn’t watching where I was going. Sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Jimin mumbles, finally sitting up long enough to wipe the rocks off his palms. “I was…walking.”
The two stare down at him uncomprehendingly. “That’s nice,” Guy #1 says. “Great observational skills.”
Jimin hides his face by staring down at the ground, heaving to push himself up into a stand. He winces at the stretch in his hip but doesn’t raise his eyes from his shoes, even when he says, “Sorry for being in your way. I’ve gotta go—”
“Are you a counselor here?” Jimin looks up, eyes a little round, and is surprised to see that the question came from Guy #1, who Jimin had honestly thought was also probably wondering how to erase him from the space-time continuum via Spirit Grizzly. When Jimin doesn’t answer immediately, he raises an eyebrow. “Well?”
Jimin clears his throat, shifting his eyes to Guy #2, who is looking at Guy #1 with just as much confusion. “I…yeah. I start tomorrow.”
“Could have mistaken you for one of the kids, honestly.” Jimin's eyebrows furrow, and he makes to protest, but Guy #1 cuts him off again. “What's your name? Your camp name. Since Hoseok will probably gut me and serve me to his cat if I wheedle out your real one.”
Jimin’s brain short-circuits because Guy #1 looks like the kind of guy who would shred someone named Puff if given the chance, even though he’s kind of short and kind of lanky and kind of sounds like liquid honey marked with a lisp when he talks. He holds his face in a limbo between lethargy and mild annoyance, sweat still dyeing his hair orange at the tips, and it makes him look like he's surrounded by a ring of fire. One that could burn Jimin worse than spilled bacon grease or the sun.
Maybe it’s because Guy #2 stands behind him, moving seamlessly through strange, distracting facial expressions as if he were a computer screensaver, and comparing the two of them makes Guy #1 seem even more intimidating. Or maybe it’s because Jimin is Jimin, and he thinks basically anyone is capable of kicking his ass, years of martial arts training be damned.
In hindsight, that is probably most definitely the case.
“I’m…White-Out,” Jimin blurts. He really doesn’t know where that name even came from - maybe some first-person shooter he sucked at in middle school or something - but Guy #1 nods coolly as if he believes him.
“I’m Suga,” Guy #1 says without missing a beat. Jimin nearly faints in relief as Suga turns to Guy #2, who very visibly snaps back to attention once eyes fall on him.
“I’m V,” he says a little too loudly, saluting. “It’s nice to meet you! Even though it was because I accidentally threw a frisbee at your face.” He grins sheepishly. “Sorry again.”
“It’s…okay.” Jimin takes a step backward, waving his hands in front of his chest in a clear sign of farewell. “Well, I do actually have to go now, so, uh…I’ll see you guys tomorrow I guess?”
V nods eagerly, and Suga tips his head in confirmation. “I’ll find you at snacktime!” V announces, and Jimin tries his best to put on his queen face - keep the peasants happy, remember that you get to eat croissants after this, just smile and wave, smile and wave - so they won’t suspect that he’s .5 seconds from high-tailing it across the country to make sure that never happens.
When he finally gets in his car and slams the door behind him, he slumps into his steering wheel and sighs loudly at himself. “Why am I so awkward?” he whines to nobody in particular, meeting his own eyes in the rearview mirror and sticking his bottom lip out defiantly. Socializing really shouldn't be so hard. You just say stuff, and then people say stuff, and then you say stuff back. Seriously. It's supposed to be a cakewalk.
Jimin blames it on the fact that he woke up at 6:45 in the morning for this. He conveniently ignores the fact that he's going to be doing that for the entire summer and that they're probably going to continue to exist when he wakes up at 6:45 again tomorrow.
When he musters up the self-worth to finally turn his car on and start backing out, he catches a glimpse of blonde hair in his side mirror. He swears it's the color that makes him pause to stare, the way it almost blends in with Suga's skin and a pale strip of sunlight glinting off his reflection.
It’s as if Suga knows. He turns from where he still stands in the parking lot and seems to look straight on into Jimin’s soul as his figure floats over the Objects may be larger than they appear sticker in the corner of the mirror. He pauses, body completely still, even as V runs circles around him and yells about something that Jimin can’t make out. He's still holding the frisbee between two fingers, shoulders straightening out from their slump as if he's aware of being watched.
Just as quickly as it happens, it's over. He turns to Taehyung, who has taken to trying to snatch the frisbee out of his hands without him knowing, and whacks him across the head with it. Jimin can't figure out the words exchanged, but he hears Taehyung's pathetic yelp, even from behind his windows.
He puts his car in gear and pumps the gas. Summer and his need for a quick getaway will forgive him for ignoring the school crossing signs.
When they make nametags, Jimin writes his name on it as small as physically possible.
He draws bright yellow stars and deep mauve hearts around it as distractions, drowning it in glitter shaped like dinosaurs and tribal sharpie markings. It’s not exactly the most artistic thing in the world, like some of the others he sees (Namjoon’s is actually an extremely detailed Pokeball with “Rap Monster” written in the Pocket Monster font across the top that he custom-ordered from Etsy), but he's not exactly artsy anyways. He supposes it suits him.
And...Puff. It definitely suits Puff.
He thinks seriously about writing a different name on his, but Hoseok comes around to check on everyone with his fake ass principal’s smile like the micro-manager he is. He’s already started calling Jimin Cheese Poof and Pufferfish and various other puns on his name, anyways. As if this were a fucking joke.
It’s too late. He can hear his funeral bells already.
He notices Suga and V sitting across the room making theirs together - not that he was looking for them (unless it was to blatantly avoid them, in which case, he definitely was). They haven’t noticed him yet, thank God, although he’s caught V craning his neck to survey the crowd more than once. He’s not entirely sure if it’s him that he’s looking for, but he ducks anyways because he’s also not taking any chances. He does find himself watching them, half in paranoia, half because Suga’s hair is hella blonde and really extremely distracting, much like his actual face. Especially when it isn't drenched with sweat.
Jimin just so happens to be watching when Suga finishes his nametag and holds it up to the light. It’s a pretty impressive cartoon basketball, silly face etched on with a pen and a jersey that says “Suga” across it in block letters. It doesn't seem to have much to do with his name, but V seems to think it suits by the way he lights up at the sight of it. He snatches it out of Suga’s hands to admire it better, too, running his fingers all over it as if he could trace its colors and grinning like an idiot.
It's almost cute. If cute were a manic 19-year-old with fucked up depth perception, as Jimin's still-bruised ass is a testament of.
Jimin is smiling unconsciously when V looks up, past the nametag, and, by some work of divine intervention, makes eye contact.
It isn’t until V breaks out in the widest smile Jimin has ever seen and cups his hands around his mouth to yell “WHITE-OUT” at the top of his lungs that he considers the mistake he's made. Reddening, he tries to look away and busy himself with the bottles of glitter glue in front of him, coating the ink of his name with an extra layer of purple sparkles, but it’s too late yet again. V has started a chant of Jimin’s fake counselor name, and everybody is looking around now, confused by the sudden commotion from the back of the room. His funeral bells get progressively louder as V raises his voice.
Jimin notices that Namjoon has left his nametag behind to mingle with a group of friends near the bathrooms. Jimin sucks it up, grabs the forgotten spoils (cringing internally because he is going to come off as such a geek), and stands up to walk towards V, who immediately starts whooping the second he takes his first step.
“White-Out!” he exclaims when Jimin finally makes it to their table. The other counselors are watching them subtly, noses turned up in mild disgust, and Jimin feels very, very small. “I’ve been looking for you all day! I thought you’d quit or something.”
“Nope,” Jimin says, smiling tightly. “I haven’t. Not yet, anyways.”
V doesn’t catch the double meaning, but Suga does. He raises both eyebrows in question, and Jimin flickers his eyes toward him, silently asking for help. V continues, oblivious of the interaction. “Do you want to sit with us? It’s kind of lonely with just Suga. He doesn’t talk much.”
“I don’t talk much because you never stop talking,” Suga says, but V ignores him in favor of looking up at Jimin hopefully. Jimin doesn’t know how in the world to go about denying V politely, so he opts to shuffle on his feet and pretend he didn't hear the kid's request. Suga turns his eyes to him, too, and Jimin feels doubly lost. “I swear he’s a lot more normal when you catch him calm. He’s usually like this in the morning.”
“Mornings are the prettiest times of the day!” V protests. “I still think everybody should be a morning person. There’s nothing to not like about mornings.”
“Besides the lack of sleep you have to suffer through to see them?” V makes a face at Suga, but he gets no reaction. Suga holds his face in that same blank way, even when V wiggles his shoulders in a full-bodied pout. He seems remarkably used to V’s antics. “All I’m saying is you should be a little more low-key about your boner for sunrises, that’s all.”
“Don’t say that at camp, you sicko,” V says, sticking his tongue out. Suga pretends to pinch at it, and V withdraws with a yelp and an arm-smack that has Suga threatening him with nothing but a flick of the fringe over his eyes. Jimin is left standing, watching them interact, trying to think of any conceivable way to get himself out of the situation.
Then, Suga remembers him all at once, and gestures to the empty bench across from them. “Well, don’t just stand there all day. Sit down.”
Jimin, despite having stayed up literally all night to think himself out of it, is still intimidated by the both of them. So he does as he’s told, sliding onto the edge of the bench and immediately withdrawing into himself when he accidentally bumps his legs into Suga’s.
“Have you made a nametag?” V asks abruptly. He holds out what seems to be his own, which looks like just as much of a disaster as the one Jimin left back at the other table. “Swap with me, I want to see!”
Jimin swallows hard and obliges, holding out Namjoon’s badge with only mildly shaking fingers. V takes it gingerly, replacing Jimin’s empty hand with his, before holding it up like he did with Suga’s, mouth in a small ‘o.’ “Wow,” he breathes, inspecting it from every angle. He runs a finger along the dried paint in the middle, eyes wide and impressed. “You’re really good at drawing, White-Out.”
Jimin shifts in his seat. He sucks at drawing. “Thanks,” he says uncomfortably, appraising V’s nametag. It’s got every conceivable color of glitter glue on it, even though they only have blue and silver on the table. He probably went table hopping to find all the rest of them while Jimin was hiding himself in the backroom earlier specifically to prevent this. There’s a tiny hand-drawn stick unicorn cut out from notebook paper and glued next to the gigantic “V” that takes up most of the space of the nametag. “This is…uh...nice.”
“It is my masterpiece,” V says seriously. He takes it back with great care, as if scared that he’ll accidentally rub the glue off, and returns Jimin’s equally as carefully. “But why doesn’t yours say White-Out?”
Jimin gulps. He’d been scared of this question. “I, um. I didn’t like my name, so I asked for Hobie to give me a new one.”
V looks up all at once, nametag completely forgotten in light of what is apparently huge news. “Hobie actually let you have a new name?"
Jimin fidgets. "I've known him for a few years. We're...close."
Suga is staring at him, mouth open in question, but V beats him to speaking. "Dude, what kind of saint are you? He’s like a dictator. He must be in love with you. There’s no other way he’d be that soft.” Suga resigns himself to crossing his arms and letting V rattle off like a machine gun, even though Jimin is still glancing at him in a silent invitation to speak. V doesn't notice, instead reaching over the table with his elbow to knock Jimin in the shoulder, loud grin racing across his face. “How do you feel about Hobie, then? Are you guys dating?”
“Gross,” Jimin says, wrinkling his nose. “I wouldn’t date him if a giant octopus rose out of the sea and told me it was the only way to stop Armageddon.”
V frowns. “Well, that was extremely specific, but okay. Be a heartbreaker. It suits you with a name like—” V leans over the table to look at Jimin’s fake tag again, eyebrows scrunched in concentration. “—Rap Monster.”
Jimin nods, hoping his agreement will bring an end to the conversation. It technically doesn’t because V opens his mouth to speak again, but then his eyes widen and he’s ducking underneath the table, hissing something like, “Oh, shit, motherfuck, god damn, he’s here.”
“Who’s here?” Jimin asks, bewildered, glancing over his shoulder. He sees Seokjin standing in a corner talking to Hoseok and the other admiral-like camp leaders, and Namjoon is still stationed by the bathrooms with a mob of girl counselors that he doesn't recognize, but other than that, he recognizes nobody. He tries to look for someone abnormal, but everyone seems to be pretty cookie-cutter suburbia camp volunteer. Well, except for maybe that emo-looking guy by the punch—
“The one that looks like he stole Mayday Parade’s attitude,” Suga says, patting V’s back from where it sticks out from under the table.
Jimin makes a noise of understanding. So yes to the emo-looking guy by the punch.
Jimin watches him as he lingers by the glass bowl, even after he pours himself a cup, looking for all the world like that friendless loser at prom. He scans the room, and Jimin turns before he can catch him staring because like hell is he going to make accidental eye contact with another person and get catapulted unwillingly into Awkward Social Situation Pt.2.
“What’s wrong with him?” Jimin asks in a whisper. He’s not even sure why he’s being quiet because said subject of their conversation is all the way across the room, but V peeks over the table like he appreciates it.
“Nothing,” V mutters. “He’s just a god on Earth. No biggie.”
Suga rolls his eyes. “He looks like he belongs in Fall Out Boy.”
“He looks like he belongs in heaven, right next to the giant bowls of lollipops and the Cat Fancy magazines.”
“Your version of heaven sounds like a hospital waiting room.”
V glares in response, but then Fall Out Boy Reject moves, and he squeaks and ducks again. “Oh my God, is he walking this way?”
Jimin turns back around to squint at him. He’d literally taken one floundering step towards the dessert table before backtracking back to the punch. “No.”
“One of you. Go distract him so I can escape.” V pushes Suga from where he sits at the edge of the table, whining when he doesn’t budge. “Come on, what kind of friend are you?”
“The kind of friend who knows you’re going to bitch and moan for the rest of your life if you don’t go up and talk to him,” Suga responds. Jimin's internal matchmaker cheers him on. “You already talked to him once.”
“You mean I hit him in the face with a basketball and apologized on my knees in front of him once.”
Suga nods toward Jimin, who shrinks back at the gesture. “That’s basically how we made friends with him, isn’t it?”
V finally unearths his entire face again, staring down Jimin curiously. “I guess you’re right.” Jimin is two seconds from breaking eye contact when V turns his full attention on him. “Hey, White—oops. Rap Monster. Would you date one of us after we ran into you?”
Jimin has to stop his mouth from unhinging and falling open. “Would I what?”
“Come on, honestly. I’m not actually asking you out. I just want to know.”
Jimin knows that V just wants to know, but his attention is fighting its way to Suga, the one who had actually run into him, who still has his arm draped comfortingly over V’s shoulder. He doesn’t really react to V’s question, but Jimin also gets the feeling that he doesn’t react to much of anything, and that makes him feel significantly less safe about answering truthfully. Let's face it - gossipy topics like this can be terribly misconstrued, and Jimin, brave 19-year-old conqueror that he is, has already fought his way through his own fair share of rumors. The last thing he wants is Suga thinking he's a thirsty high school junior, considering he's already equated his physical appearance to that of a pre-adolescent.
He finally braves a look at him, but all the guy does is nod subtly, as if that should be some kind of cue. It helps 0%. Jimin wants to hide again.
V sits all the way up, dislodging Suga’s arm in the process. Suga takes the opportunity to flash a subtle thumbs up from behind his back, although Jimin is hesitant to believe it's actually for him. “Really? You would? Do you think he would, too, then?”
Jimin shifts, and his knee knocks against Suga’s again. He tenses and draws his legs back, crossing them at the ankles. “Sure. I don’t see why he wouldn’t.”
V hops up without a second thought. “Great, so it’s settled. I’m going to go talk to him and set the date for our wedding.”
“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” Suga calls as V speedwalks away from them, and V mouths back an “I was just kidding” before he turns fully towards where his person of interest still stands, tracing the rim of his drink idly with his pinky finger. He pauses right before he takes the last few steps, taking a deep breath by a table of counselors who are unabashedly staring at him, and Jimin turns back to face the front before he gets there, choosing to watch Suga’s reaction instead.
Suga smiles almost imperceptibly, something like warmth marking the crinkle of his eyes. V must have made it. Jimin heaves a sigh of relief, and Suga’s eyes flicker to him almost instantly.
“Thanks for the save,” Suga says, and Jimin is a little taken aback that he’s actually talking to him. “I actually thought for a second there that you might say no and deflate his tiny ego.”
Jimin shakes his head. “I was just answering his question. It’s nothing to thank me for.”
“Oh, so you meant it?”
“I mean—” Jimin stops. Suga’s eyes are dancing with amusement, and Jimin wants to cover himself with dirt and grass so his dumb red face can’t be seen anymore. “I guess? I wouldn’t say no based on that, anyways.”
Suga cups his cheek in his hand and leans forward on his elbow, staring Jimin dead in the face. Jimin leans back unconsciously, but Suga doesn’t seem to notice – or maybe he does, because his smile gets a millimeter wider. “What kinds of things would you say no based on, then?”
Jimin swallows, unsure of how to answer. He’s not all that versed on dating, and none of his friends are very keen on getting him to. Seokjin sometimes tries to wheedle his ideal type out of him, but Hoseok has as much interest in Jimin’s romantic tastes as he does in noona romance dramas, and Namjoon just pats his shoulder and tells him to be open to anything because you never know when love will strike you.
Jimin guesses he’s right, to some degree, even though he hates to admit it because Namjoon sometimes talks like he thinks he’s the second coming of Buddha. “I guess just if someone isn’t nice,” he says slowly. “If they don’t like my friends, or they think I should spend less time with myself, or if they don’t like the fact that I like making banana-peanut butter protein shakes in the morning even though the blender is loud.”
Suga snorts. “You have depressingly low standards. Although, I gotta admit, waking a guy up in the morning when he’s trying to sleep is some kind of evil.”
“Well, maybe we could compromise,” Jimin mutters, more to himself than Suga, but Suga catches it anyways and laughs. It’s weird because Suga is as emotive as an unpainted brick, and seeing him smile is…not really something Jimin is used to. Not something he’s sure he could ever get used to. When he’s gathered himself again, his eyes flicker behind Jimin, and his tiny smile comes back.
“We’ve got company,” he whispers. He then shifts his gaze back to meet Jimin’s. “But before that, while we still have two seconds of alone time, I'd like to inform you that I know the name White-Out never existed.”
Jimin sputters. "What?"
Yoongi shrugs, looking far too pleased with himself. "Databases," he answers simply. "Even camp's got 'em. Now wipe the scared look off your face, you're on."
Jimin doesn’t know how to respond without completely outing himself. It's fortunate that V pops out of nowhere when he does, bearing down on Suga’s shoulders and grinning blindingly. Mr. Black is the New Black is standing off to the side, looking like he’d rather be anywhere but here.
“Guys, guys, guys,” V chants as if he doesn’t already have their attention. “This is Pete Wentz. He wants to sit with us.”
Suga doesn’t even bother to hide his disbelief. “Pete Wentz.”
The kid shifts. “It wasn’t my choice, okay,” he says defensively. “My real name is Jungkook—”
“Hey, hey, hey, Pete Wentz,” V scolds, clucking disapprovingly. “We are not supposed to shatter this delicate reality by revealing our final forms. Don’t do it again or I’ll turn you in to Hobie.”
Jungkook looks between Suga and Jimin helplessly. Suga shrugs, and Jimin gives him what he hopes is a look of sad understanding because he sadly understands. “Fine,” he finally manages, pointing towards the spot on the bench next to Jimin. “Can I sit here, uh—?”
Jimin blanks trying to remember his fake name. He actually almost says Puff out loud. “Rap Monster,” he answers, a little strained.
Jungkook frowns. He gestures behind him somewhere. “But I just met a—” he starts, and when Jimin realizes what he’s about to say, he nearly leaps out of his seat in an effort to shut him up.
“Oh, sorry!” he says from where he’s clutching Jungkook’s black shirt, having missed his mouth by a good four inches when he’d tried to jump and cover it. Jungkook is staring down at him like he’s not of this world, and Jimin coughs and smooths out the wrinkles his fist had left behind. “I’m just—I have to pee.”
He wastes no time hopping up and scurrying over to the bathrooms. When he drops Namjoon’s nametag back into his hands without any context, Namjoon gives him a confused look. He clasps both hands in his, looks into his eyes, and says, "If a Pete Wentz tells you that there's a you impersonator walking around, don't be afraid. He's just misunderstood."
He leaves before Namjoon can answer, sitting in a bathroom stall until it’s time to split into groups and get their kids assigned to them. He doesn’t see any of his three new acquaintances before he leaves, and he crosses his fingers that he won’t run into them again for a very, very long time.
Well, he does run into them again, but he chalks it up to the fact that V is a low-key stalker.
“Rap Monster!” he calls from where he’s got his kids at the playground. Jimin is across the way, out in the field, and his kids are all turning to look at the weirdo counselor who has a tiny girl riding on his shoulders. “Come play with us!”
“We’re playing football!” Jimin calls back, ball resting beneath his foot, but V’s suggestion has incited a rebellion in his kids. They all complain about how they’ve played two whole games already, and I wanna ride the slides, I wanna climb the jungle gym, I want to swing so high I go upside down, so Jimin gives and kicks the ball towards V, who is still facing him expectantly. He stops it with his own foot, careful not to jostle the child perched on his shoulders, and gestures with his hands for him to join.
Jimin shakes his head and smiles when V turns, holding out his arms and pretending to fly off like an airplane, the little girl holding tight to his head and giggling maniacally.
Jungkook, on the other hand, is standing with his arms crossed out to the side again, nearly swimming in his own black aura. The kids stay far away from him, as if they’re all scared, and Jimin isn’t sure what possessed this guy to become a camp counselor of all things. Jimin jogs up to him, counting his kids as they take off for the playground until he reaches twenty, and then stops by Jungkook’s side. “So you ended up with V as your co-counselor?”
“He insisted. He’s kind of hard to say no to.” Jungkook watches V drop to his knees and bend over so the girl can hop off him. Three other kids immediately cluster around him, demanding to be next. Jimin doesn’t miss how Jungkook’s hands grasp tighter at his own arms when V smiles. “What about you? No co-counselor?”
“No, I have one.” Jimin thumbs at the nametag he has around his neck. He’d swapped with his co-counselor, honestly, just in case something like this happened. It was under the guise of it “being a joke” to “confuse the kids,” but he figures that joke will become stale after a few days of using it, and then he’s not sure what he’ll do when he runs into Suga.
And the other two, he reminds himself belatedly. Yeah. Them too.
"Did he ditch you?" Jungkook continues as he watches the kids run. A girl tackles a boy, and they both fall to the ground in fits of laughter. (Jimin will swear until the day he dies that Jungkook almost, almost smiles.)
"No. I ditched him, actually. One of our boys scraped his knee, so he took him in."
"Ah." Jungkook glances at him. "Actually, I have another question for you."
Jimin already knows what it is. "Yeah?"
"Are you Rap Monster, or is the other guy Rap Monster?"
Jimin puts his hand over his forehead dramatically. "We both are. It's complicated."
He expects Jungkook to call his bullshit and ask what the real reason behind Jimin stealing Namjoon's name is, but he just nods instead. "I'll pray for you both to solve your identity crises."
Welp, Jimin isn't about to deny himself a Free Pass out of explaining away his embarrassment. "You're too kind, Pete Wentz, my friend."
Jungkook facepalms. "I hate that name."
Jimin almost feels bad that Jungkook hadn't thought of hiding his own, too, but hey, not everyone can be a genius-turned-idiot like he is.
“Where’s Suga?” he finally asks, ever the one-track mind, as he swivels his body around to check that he isn’t hidden somewhere. Jungkook raises an eyebrow.
“Well, he’s on the leadership committee, so probably off doing something important."
Jimin's jaw drops. "Leadership? That guy?"
"Yeah. He's super famous here or something for being a wizard with kids." Jungkook rubs at his neck. "He and Princess Peach have been co-counselors for a couple years now, I think.”
Jimin’s heart deflates like a popped balloon. “Wait. He knows Princess Peach?”
Jungkook nods, still watching V as he scales the rock wall that he's already almost as tall as. “Yeah. Why, do you know him?”
“Yeah,” Jimin says. “Yeah, I do.”
Jungkook shrugs. "It's okay. According to V, Princess Peach doesn't really seem to know him back. No one does."
When Jimin confronts Seokjin about Suga, he doesn’t deny anything. In fact, he acts kind of surprised that Jimin is interested at all.
“Why are you asking?” he questions, leaning back on the side of his car. Jimin had followed him out to the parking lot before approaching him, just to make sure he wouldn’t be caught by Suga or V. Or both. But mostly V. “I didn’t even realize you knew Suga.”
“I—don’t. Not really. I just met him yesterday.”
Seokjin nods slowly, considering. “Suga’s been a counselor for a long time now. He’s one of the best at what he does. He’s kind of grumpy, but he's more than decent with kids.”
Jimin thinks about how he handles V with eye rolls and sarcasm alongside soft smiles and bitchy-but-well-intentioned encouragement. “I could see that.”
“Should I be concerned that you’re asking about him?”
Jimin shakes his head as convincingly as he can manage. “Why would you be concerned? I just heard from someone that you knew him, too. That’s all.”
The grin that spreads across Seokjin’s face is slow and kind of scary. “Should I mention a ‘Puff’ and see how he reacts?”
Jimin tenses. “No. Absolutely not. Never in a million years.”
“Well.” Jimin kind of sighs because he knows he's about to get a lecture, but Seokjin is already giving him the eye. Resistance is futile. “I may have given him the wrong camp counselor name. Twice.”
Seokjin frowns. “Why would you do that?”
“Because!” Jimin struggles for words that won’t offend him. (He gives up on that route within two seconds of thinking.) “Because…he just seems too cool to hang out with somebody named Puff, you know?”
“I don’t know why you keep suggesting that Puff is an uncool name. Puff is the coolest name.”
“Seokjin, you are old and you understand nothing about my generation.”
“I’m not that old!” Seokjin uncrosses his arms, pushing at Jimin’s shoulder. It’s supposed to be threatening, but it’s just kind of soft and gentle because Seokjin is more like a stuffed animal than a person. “Besides, Suga’s not cool. And he’s only a year younger than me. You’re a child compared to him.”
“Am not. I’ve been legal for a whole year now.”
Even Jimin is aware that he sounds like a huffy toddler, but he’s too strangely offended by the insinuation that he is too young to be friends with Suga to care.
“Fine, whatever. I won’t mention that you have the best name of all time if it offends you that badly.” He opens his car door and hesitates. “But…Jimin.”
Jimin pushes himself off of the car hood, shoving his hands in his pockets. His own shitty Cruiser is just across the lot, but he lingers because Seokjin is looking at him like he's concerned. “Yeah?”
“Suga is…” Seokjin rolls his words over his tongue for a moment, as if trying to pick out the right flavor. “He’s a bit of an enigma. Just…don’t be too hurt if he does something not so stellar, okay?”
Jimin doesn’t really get what he means, but he responds with “okay” anyways. His car is an inviting barrier against the chill of the summer night, but he stays to watch Seokjin’s backlights wink through the trees until they’ve disappeared behind the bend.
When Jimin walks in the next morning, Namjoon is talking animatedly to Seokjin and Hoseok. They’re the only ones there – it’s hella early, even for the camp counselors like Seokjin who wake at the crest of sunrise to sing to the birds and prechew Grandma's food for her – so Jimin drops his stuff against the wall and wanders over to see what the fuss is about.
“And then I asked him what his real name was,” Namjoon is saying when Jimin tunes in from behind him. “He told me that he hadn’t said his real name, so I wouldn’t know it, and that he must have gotten the wrong number or something. It was so bizarre. I don’t even know where that came from.”
“What’s going on?” Jimin pipes up to announce his presence. Namjoon turns around to peer at him before stepping aside to let him into the circle.
“Namjoon was just talking about how one of our head counselors texted him last night,” Hoseok says, and he doesn’t look very enthused by it. “He apparently got his number from the rosters we keep of everybody. Not exactly the most professional thing he’s ever done.”
“Suga is usually one of the most professional people we have,” Seokjin says calmly. He shifts his eyes towards Jimin at the mention of the name, who, just as expected, has lit up in curiosity. Seokjin clears his throat. “There must be some reason he texted him. Maybe he received a complaint or a word of advice or something?”
Namjoon looks skeptical. “He just asked me if I remembered him,” he says dubiously. “Said something about how he wanted to thank me for setting up V and Billie Joe Armstrong. Whatever that means. That was around the time I figured he thought I was someone else, but I’d heard enough stories about him to be curious.”
“What kind of stories?” Jimin asks again. Seokjin is outright staring at him now, but Jimin finds it incredibly easy to just avoid his attempt at eye contact the exact same way he does with his actual mother.
“Do you not know about Suga?” Namjoon asks. “He’s, like, the ultimate hero of this camp. He got outlawed from getting Counselor of the Week once back in ’09 because he got it literally the entire summer. Kids just gravitate towards him, and nobody knows why.”
Jimin just holds his gaze for a minute. "Seriously? Him? Are we all sure we're talking about the same person, 'cuz I am pretty sure one of us is mistaken."
"It's true," Seokjin says, sounding a little defeated. "He may not look it, but he's really good with the campers."
Namjoon snorts. “Yeah, well. That would explain why he’s apparently bad with everyone else.”
Jimin frowns. “What do you mean? Is he not good with people?”
“Not exactly. I’ve been at this camp for a couple years, and he’s never bothered to introduce himself.” Namjoon shrugs. “He just really hangs out with that other guy. The loud one. V, right?”
“Yeah,” Jimin answers, too fast, too sure, but Namjoon doesn’t notice. He just nods and shrugs again.
“Whatever. It was just weird is all.” He glances up at the clock on the wall, cursing. “Shoot, everyone’s gonna be here in five minutes and I haven’t even started making breakfast.”
“I was wondering if you’d ever get around to doing that,” Hoseok says. For once, it sounds more like a joke and less like him being the Adolf Hitler of the archery range. Namjoon flips him off while he still can without getting ticketed by camp rules, and Hoseok laughs and waves him off, stepping away with Seokjin to head back to their offices and get ready for the day.
This leaves Jimin to do…well, nothing, considering he's a noob with no real responsibilities when his kids aren't around, so he decides to go outside and lay on the basketball courts and maybe take a nap before he has to channel all his energy into entertaining children for the day.
It’s cloudy. Jimin usually likes this kind of weather when he’s watching the speckled sky from inside a car or behind the walls of a house, but at times like this, when he’s trying to sleep with the warmth of the sun as his blanket, it mostly just means random cold spots ahoy whenever one decides it's more important than his body temperature. He rolls from one side to the other, curling up and stretching out as the clouds permit, until he hears the sound of a rubber ball bouncing at the far end of the court. Squinting, he lifts his head up just in time to see the outline of Suga’s body against a far-off veil of trees as he shoots in perfect form.
A basketball falls from the sky and lands with a quiet swish in the hoop above his head, and Jimin yelps and rolls out of the way before it can bruise his face.
Suga laughs as he walks up to him. “Nice rolling. You’ll live for a long time with reflexes like those.”
“I’ll live for a long time if people don’t kill me, too,” Jimin grumbles, but he sits up anyways, rubbing dirt out of his hair. He hits at his shirt and coughs when a whole attic's worth of dust spirals up into the reach of his lungs. “Is everyone starting to show up now?”
Suga shrugs, wandering off to grab his basketball. “Probably. I didn’t see anyone, though.”
Jimin frowns. “Seok—I mean. Princess Peach and Hobie were inside earlier.”
“Yeah, they were,” Suga confirms, making another shot. It falls in just as effortlessly as the first. “Rap Monster was there, too.”
Jimin freezes, but Suga’s attention isn’t even on him. He’s jogging after the ball again, but there’s something in his gait, something in the back of his blonde-ass head, that says that he’s laughing at Jimin somehow. “Yeah, I know about him. And about you. Although one thing I still don’t know is your actual counselor’s name.”
Jimin closes his eyes slowly. "Why do you want to know so badly?"
The sound of the basketball continues. "Isn't it normal to want to know a friend's name?"
Friend. The word is kind of weird. "It's not even my name."
Well. He’s already gotten caught twice. He fingers his co-counselor’s badge again. Looks like it’ll come in use, after all. “It’s…Dunkaroo. My name is Dunkaroo.”
“I don’t even know if I believe you.”
“It is," Jimin says defensively. He tries to counter his own terrible lying skills by throwing the question back. "Why would I believe that your name is Suga? You could have lied, too.”
Suga makes a face. “If I lied about it, I would have come up with a way better name than Suga. I’m not a complete idiot.”
Jimin snorts. “What’s the story behind that, anyways?”
Suga steps back to half court, dribbling the ball a couple times. He chucks it with all the power he has in his little biceps, and this time, he misses. Jimin breaks into robust applause from his spot on the ground. “When I first joined as a counselor, I didn’t want to do it at all. It was volunteer work for my school, and my mom insisted that I be around kids to ‘lighten me up.’ So when they gave us those papers to fill out to help name us, I filled out an entire page of things that I hated.” He walks lazily after the ball this time. Jimin draws his knees to his chest and watches. “Most of them were kids and stuff kids do, so I’m sure they had a great first impression of me.”
“Excuse my lack of understanding, but how the hell did Suga come out of that?”
Suga smiles wryly as he fishes the ball out of a bush and turns back around, tossing it in Jimin’s direction. Jimin almost falls over from the surprise, but he catches it, thankfully. “Hobie is a sarcastic bitch. That’s how.”
Knowing Hoseok for years makes Jimin very quick to agree with this. “So it wasn’t Seok—er, Princess Peach that named you?”
“Nah. Seokjin didn’t join til the year after I did.” Suga gestures for Jimin to stand, so he does, awkwardly dribbling the ball with clumsy palms. Suga watches from the sidelines as Jimin shoots (probably exactly like a middle schooler, but Jimin’s hoping he won’t say anything) and misses by a mile. He does manage to smoothly catch the ball before it can run off somewhere it doesn’t belong. “I wish he had, though. He may come up with lame names, but at least they aren’t passive aggressive.”
Jimin bends over to fake tie his shoe so Suga won’t throw the ball back to him. “Trust me when I say you definitely do not want him to think you up a name.”
“Sound a little more bitter, why don’t you. Dunkaroo isn’t that bad.”
Jimin bites his lip and says nothing.
Jimin is bent over his shoe for way longer than is socially acceptable, but Suga doesn’t comment. He doesn’t say anything at all, really, until they both hear someone calling in the distance. “Yoongi! Min Yoongi, I swear to God, where are you—”
“Over here!” Suga calls without turning around, shooting another basket. (He misses and curses under his breath.) “And can you not use my real name right now? We’re at work, asshole.”
“We’re also not allowed to curse. Don't make me write you up—” Jimin finally looks up as Hoseok approaches. Hoseok stops immediately once he spots Jimin. There's a look of unbridled confusion swirling in his expression. “Wait, what are you doing here?”
“I was just leaving,” Jimin says hurriedly. He knows for a fact that, if he stays back long enough, Hoseok will most definitely call him Puff because it’s his new favorite pastime. Heck, everything that makes Jimin jut out his bottom lip and whine is Jung Hoseok’s new favorite pastime, really. He turns back to Suga, who has let his ball roll off somewhere in favor of observing the two of them. “I’ll—see you around?”
Suga nods once, glancing at Hoseok, who is still squinting at them like an overprotective mother. It's not exactly clear which one of them he’s wanting to shelter. Maybe both. “See you around, Dunks.”
Jimin kind of wishes his name really was Dunkaroo. Suga seems all too pleased with the nickname once it rolls out of his mouth.
Hoseok doesn’t let it go, to Jimin’s unsurprise. In fact, he doesn't let it go so hard that he breaks his own rules (what a fucking dictator) to pull Jimin away from his kids outside of the mess hall. Once they're relatively out of earshot, he looks at Jimin, who is still bearing a paper plate full of food and a giant frown. “You. How do you know Suga?”
Jimin holds the plate stacked with pizza and sweets out in front of him so that Hoseok can’t get too close. “He ran into me, and then suddenly he and V were my friends, and I don’t really know how that happened.”
"Only you would make friends without meaning to."
"Only you would somehow make that a bad thing." Jimin steps to the side, but Hoseok follows from the front. "Come on, I'm hungry."
Hoseok gives him a hawkish look before staring down at the contents of his meal. “Park Jimin, nobody needs four cookies with their lunch.”
“They looked tasty!” Jimin protests. "Stop being Seokjin. It doesn't suit you."
“Princess Peach. And you’re setting a bad example for the kids.”
"Yeah, well. Your face scares the kids, so really, who's the villain here?"
"Park Puff," Hoseok says warningly. Jimin rolls his eyes.
"Fine. I give. Can I eat?"
Hoseok stares with squinted eyes. He still looks a little off, curve of his lips tugged towards the ground, but he steps aside to let him pass anyways. As he regains his footing and makes to step forward, though, he grabs his arm. Jimin is about to complain about the fake-out when he speaks. “You know, Min Yoongi doesn’t make friends easily.”
Jimin knows for a fact that using Suga’s real name means this is serious. He would never break his own rules of conduct otherwise. Not where the kids could hear. He looks down at Hoseok's fingers clasped around his elbow. “I’ve heard.”
Hoseok nods as if he’s satisfied with this answer. “Good. Then you know that once you’re his friend, you’re his friend for life.”
When it’s put that way, it sounds almost…intimidating. Jimin tries to think himself out of that, too. “I guess that’s fair to expect out of a friendship?”
He finally lets him go, eyes still wandering to the confections on his plate. “Just treat him right. And share your goddamn cookies, Jimin, Jesus Christ.”
Treat him right. Jimin kind of knows why the words are making him defensive, but he doesn't know why they're making him tense.
When Suga walks in a few minutes later with his kids, Jimin fights the urge to wave because Hoseok is still watching. So he ignores him.
Jimin doesn't know what he was expecting, but he feels a teeny bit hurt when he gets ignored right back. Until he feels a paper plate swat at the back of his head, that is.
He turns and sees blonde hair disappearing to the other side of the room without stopping, and he smiles.
(By the end of lunch, he's given away all his cookies to kids in an indirect apology because Hoseok is still staring.)
When Dunkaroo comes up to Jimin a week later with this totally hilarious story about how one of the committee counselors had texted him up asking if his hip had healed from being trampled by a pack of Swags, Jimin knows he’s been caught again.
By the time he's physically caught, it's been a long time coming. He's been avoiding Suga all day under the pretense that he hasn't even found time to breathe beyond the kids attached to the back of his neck, let alone brainstorm a new realistic-sounding name that will keep him off his back for a couple more days.
He can only really blame himself for not being prepared. Suga wastes no time cutting to the chase when he runs into him as he’s escorting his kids to their cars at the end of the day. He doesn’t even seem to mind that Jimin is currently sat in a chair with a girl on his lap, rocking her as they wait for her mom to come and speaking in little whispers as if they own the world, and everyone else is their imaginary friends.
They stop murmuring to each other shortly when he just stalks up and goes, “So what name do you have for me today?”
The girl blinks up at Yoongi with big eyes and turns to Jimin. “Puffles, what is he talking about?”
Suga literally chokes.
“Um,” he starts wildly, bringing his hand up to cover her mouth before she says anything else embarrassing while Suga tries in vain to gather himself before he explodes. “Counselor Suga is…he’s just…hey, is that your mom pulling up?”
He points to a van in the distance, and she squints before brightening and licking his hand to make him pull away. (He's not particularly grossed out by that anymore, but he decides to let her have her fun.) “Yeah, that’s mommy!”
“Why don’t we take you over to her, huh?” He stands, adjusting her against his hip, and tries hard to meet Suga’s eyes without chickening out and looking away. “I’ll be back in two seconds, okay?”
Suga nods, one hand clamped over his own mouth and the other gripping the railing lining the porch Jimin sits on. He actually looks like he might be having an asthma attack minus the faint shake of his shoulders.
Jimin hurries away before his laughter actually forces his way out of him. He honestly would rather not hear it. The weenie side of him tells him to go straight to the parking lot and drive away once he's delivered the girl into her booster seat with a tiny smile and a promise of more fun tomorrow, but the side of him that never fails to get him into trouble wins out over it, bringing him back in the direction of the cabin where Suga's blonde hair is floating like an apparition in front of the bleak-colored wall.
He doesn't know why that instinct always manages to express itself. One would think that evolution would have gotten rid of all of Jimin's self-destructive qualities by now.
Suga is stoic again. He has sat himself down in the chair Jimin had vacated, legs crossed and hands poised delicately over his thighs. He almost looks like a doll, posed as if one of the five-year-olds had pushed his limbs into place and told him to stay like that. When Jimin approaches, he looks up at him without flinching and goes, “So Puffles, huh.”
It’s dark enough for Suga not to notice Jimin’s blush, but that doesn’t mean that Jimin doesn’t feel it. “It’s just Puff. Only a few of the kids call me Puffles.”
“Is it safe to assume it’s the real one this time?”
Jimin shrugs. “Considering you almost burst a blood vessel laughing about it? Probably.”
Suga stares at him, as if gauging whether or not he’s telling the truth. Jimin meets it with a raised chin and a puffed up chest in a desperate attempt to overcome the shade that his real name has probably thrown on him, but Yoongi's face shows no indication of how successful he is.
He finally stands, wiping his hands on his pants. Jimin straightens just a little more. “Good. I was getting tired of texting wrong numbers.”
Well, at least he's not going to beat him up for lunch money. That's news.
Jimin doesn't know what comes over him then. He'd read somewhere that smiling can make you actually happy and frowning can make you actually sad, so it doesn't seem like much of a stretch to say that maybe his faked confidence somehow inspired in him a fit of real bravery. Before he can stop his mouth from running, he finds himself saying, “You know, I could just give you my number so you could stop snooping around the office for it.”
Suga raises an eyebrow. It is the most powerful eyebrow Jimin has ever faced in his entire life. Final Boss Lvl 900. “But where’s the fun in that?”
Jimin juts one hip out and inspects his nails. “I mean, talking to me in general is pretty fun, so.”
Suga taps his chin exaggeratedly, eyelashes fluttering past the electric light of the patio that Jimin had left on. Then, he fishes around in his pocket for a pen and holds out his entire arm like a canvas. “Alright. Write it down, and I’ll text you later.”
Jimin hesitates, but he takes the pen. His fingers aren’t shaking this time, which is good, considering his handwriting sucks shit when he's perfectly calm and writing on an actual piece of paper instead of penning down a makeshift tattoo on somebody's forearm. He scratches out his number, doodling a tiny version of his face next to the last digit, and, after a moment’s thought, writes “Jimin” beneath it. Suga peers down at it, and there it is – that tiny smile, the one that he'd gotten when V had talked to Jungkook and when he'd been asking about Jimin's boyfriend reservations. Jimin feels a little out of place, being the reason behind his smile, up until he opens his mouth and says, “You really suck at drawing.”
Jimin gives him the most heartfelt bitch face he has ever made. “I already knew that.”
“Just thought I’d confirm it.” He withdraws, pulling his long-sleeved t-shirt back down over his forearm until it covers half his hand. (Suga with sweaterpaws is about the strangest thing Park Jimin has ever seen. He wonders if Min Yoongi with sweaterpaws would be any different.) “I’ll catch you later, Puffles.”
Suga seems just as pleased with this nickname as the last one. Jimin watches him as he crosses the parking lot with his hands in the butt pockets of his jeans and chin tipped towards the undercover stars and tries in vain to pretend that it's a good thing.