"I shouldn't have said that."
Namjoon's thoughts were an echo of Ji Ah's. Throughout the duration of the mock interviews, the two of them had been sneaking glances at each other, wondering how to dispel the tension that thickly coated the room.
Ji Ah mentally berated herself for the words she had flung at Namjoon. He may have acted agitatedly, but if she was being honest, he had every right to. She should've been more cautious.
Kim Namjoon wasn't simply her ex-boyfriend, he was the leader of BTS. And she would do well to remember that. I guess I'm not beyond reproach either, she thought ruefully.
Namjoon's thoughts, on the other hand, were preoccupied with conjuring the various different ways in which he could talk to her and repair the situation. The leader realized his folly of not giving Ji Ah a chance to explain herself without lashing out at her. Yes, the song was important, but not more important than how he treated someone he was supposed to be working with. Though for the life of him, Namjoon couldn't figure out why he cared.
"You've been spacing out for a while now," Hoseok whispered from beside his fellow rapper. "And what's with the creepy looks you keep shooting at Hong Ji Ah?"
Yoongi smirked as he overhead the last bit. "Talk about being obvious," he teased Namjoon, whose facial muscles pulled taut with embarrassment.
"I'm not doing anything of the sort!" he defended himself vehemently, trying to lower his voice as much as possible though the surrounding din drowned it anyway.
Taehyung had been observing both Ji Ah and their leader, an epiphany dawning on him. Their body language was on a similar wavelength; twitchy fingers, fluttering eyelids, anxious expressions. "You fought with her, didn't you?"
Namjoom groaned inwardly and Jungkook's eyes widened. "Fought?"
Jimin flicked the maknae's forehead. "I'm pretty sure Tae doesn't mean that kind of fight."
Jungkook scowled, swatting Jimin's hand away. "I know that!" His outburst only earned him grins from his bandmates and the maknae himself yielded a smile, albeit reluctantly.
Namjoon leaned against the chair. The members were currently taking a break before resuming the last leg of the shooting, after which they would wrap up for the day. The leader's eyes flitted towards Ji Ah, who seemed determined to avoid meeting his gaze.
Yoongi's voice roused him. "So is Taehyung's guess correct? Did you fight?"
Namjoon didn't answer, a whirlpool of emotions churning in his gut. If his members could read him so easily, then there was no doubt that his troubled state of mind extended beyond the confines of his thoughts. But then again, they had lived together for seven years.
"I may have acted a little rashly," he began slowly as he turned to the older rapper.
Yoongi's expression remained inscrutable. "It's not rash if you can justify it."
"On the cost of someone else's feelings?" Namjoon knew how self-assertive Yoongi was and if anyone could understand his predicament, it was him.
A warmth crept into the rapper's eyes. "I guess it would depend on what drove their actions too. All I can say is, there is a difference between reason and impulse. But if it makes you question your integrity, then there's some food for thought."
Namjoon wasn't sure exactly what Yoongi was getting at but he nodded nevertheless. None of it changed the fact that he needed to speak to Ji Ah. Soon.
His chance arrived when the videographer, Cho Jae Chan, concluded the schedule for the day. His team dispersed, gathering the equipment and exiting the room as the members of Bangtan rose to leave too. Namjoon's eyes traced Ji Ah's movements as she prepared to slip out, her face resolutely facing the direction in which the door stood.
But before she could take even a step towards it, Namjoon caught hold of her arm. Ji Ah whirled around in confusion as Seokjin shot significant looks to the members.
"I just remembered! There's something I need to do and I require your kind assistance," he declared, not waiting as he grabbed a startled Jungkook by the collar of his shirt.
Yoongi merely yawned as he followed the eldest out. "Do it yourself, Hyung. I have a meeting with Suran Noona to get to," he said languidly as he breezed past Seokjin, who was in the process of dragging the maknae out, though not without engaging in a scuffle with him.
Namjoon's features contorted in perturbation as Jimin and Taehyung practically carried Hoseok out of the room, the main dancer's hysterics relaying his knowledge of the situation only too evidently.
Could his members be any more obvious?
He turned to Ji Ah, whose face was a mask of solemnity. They stared at each other for a few seconds, a silence which they broke simultaneously.
Namjoon and Ji Ah exchanged puzzled looks as the words left their lips. "I didn't think you'd ever apologize," the former said in wonder, knowing how stubborn Ji Ah could be.
Ji Ah shrugged as she pushed her fringes to the side of her face. "You're not the only who has learned from the trials of life."
The rapper cocked his head to the side as he processed her response. "I just want to say that I should've been more careful with my words. Though you were at fault."
Ji Ah chuckled as she leaned against a desk positioned next to the door. "I guess we're both at edge around each other. Even after all these years." Her lips curled in a thin line. "I'd forgotten how easy it is to slip back into old habits with you. And that's something I want to avoid. Especially after all my rants about professionalism."
"I feel the same way," Namjoon replied seriously as he looked at her. "For now, at least, we're working together. I don't want anything to mar our work ethics." And more than that, he wanted to leave his tumultuous past with Ji Ah exactly where it belonged: in the past.
Ji Ah's face crunched in consternation as she ran her hand through her hair. "Then let's try to get along." She stared him straight in the eye. "For now. Are we not wise enough to do that?"
"I think we are." A small smile crept up the rapper's face as Ji Ah returned it with a grin. "Let's not interact unless it's absolutely necessary. We'll avoid any scruples that way."
"Agreed." Ji Ah's fingers curled around the door handle when Namjoon's voice stopped her.
"But this doesn't mean that the deal we made is off," he stressed vigorously and Ji Ah laughed softly without facing him.
"I wouldn't have it any other way."
"Do these lyrics sound pretentious?" Namjoon inquired later that night at Bangtan's dorm. The rapper had been relentlessly working on composing a song which they had titled 'MIC Drop'.
Hoseok looked up from his own laptop as the rest of the members scuttled into the living room to await the arrival of the pizza they had ordered. Yoongi had returned from his meeting with Suran in a state of intense excitement and had shut himself up in his studio while the oldest and the maknaes had decided to work on some of their own music too.
"What are the lyrics?" Taehyung asked with an interested glint in his eye.Namjoon took a deep breath as he began rapping.
Adeuri neom jallagaseo-"
"Mianhae Eomma," Yoongi finished as he strode into the room. The members looked awestruck while Seokjin raised an eyebrow.
"Yah, Kim Namjoon, is that Worldwide a reference to me?" He crossed his arms as he waited for Namjoon to reply.
The rapper grinned and Hoseok applauded. "I think these are great, though. What makes you think they're pretentious?"
Namjoon plopped onto the couch as he pondered Hoseok's words. "I was just worried. Bang PD wanted me to write a song reflecting our attitude towards haters but in all honesty, I've got no anger left. So I thought these words would generate a weird vibe."
Yoongi nodded with understanding as he patted the younger rapper's back. "I don't think you have to concern yourself with that."
Jungkook's head bobbed enthusiastically. "I agree with Yoongi Hyung."
"So does this mean there won't be a cypher on this album?" Taehyung looked dejected as he voiced the question forlornly.
"Don't worry, Tae. You might yet find a way to rap," Seokjin said kindly and Yoongi snorted.
"Like he would've been able to rap in the cypher anyway," he muttered in a low voice. But the statement had been audible enough. Taehyung looked crestfallen and Yoongi grinned apologetically. "C'mon, let's hold hands."
Taehyung simply glared at him and Jimin tried to quickly salvage the situation by digressing from it. "Anyway, any suggestions for the name of the album?" he asked, diverting their attention.
Hoseok instantly perked up. "I have a few. Since they're going to be a set of mini albums, how about we stick to one name but use colons to emphasise the different themes?"
"I like it," Seokjin stated as he looked around. "And ideas for the title?"
Jungkook looked thoughtful as he rubbed his head. "How about something denoting our growth? From teens to adults?"
"But with a focus on external factors and trying to convey the importance of youth," Jimin mumbled as his eyes narrowed in thought.
"And the importance of love too," Yoongi added. "Since learning to love oneself is a part of growth."
The wheels were turning in Namjoon's head. Growth, youth, love. A connection was beginning to form when Taehyung spoke up.
"'Love Myself'? It would match with Cypher 4 too," he suggested and Hoseok nodded appreciatively.
Something was stirring just beneath Namjoon's conscious and he struggled to grasp it. What was it about that phrase? It elicited something someone had said to him a long time ago.
The rapper suddenly jumped up, startling the others. All at once, Namjoon knew the perfect title for the album, something which would chart their journey right from the beginning to where they had reached today. "I have a suggestion," he said, his conviction strengthening with each word.
"How about 'Love Yourself'?"
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