~"I wanted it to be tender waves,
But why didn't I know that you were the sea?"~
December ushered in the onset of a tight schedule for BTS, the month packed with their final 'Wings' concert, the release of their Japanese album and appearances on various Korean music award shows. Their winning streak for these held strong as the boys scored award after award for all the hard work they had put into their album; their blood, sweat and tears as Yoongi liked to call it.
"S-U-G-A A-K-A AGUST D~," Hoseok was rapping in the erected tent which served as their green room once they had all piled into it after the conclusion of the Melon Music Awards. The trophies had all been lined up on the dressing tables, glittering in all their glory while the members gathered to congratulate Yoongi on his joint victory with Suran. The rapper flashed sheepish smiles, his cheeks displaying just a slight tint of red as the boys hyped him up. It wasn't long before the petite artist herself arrived to meet Yoongi, whisking him away for a private conversation.
"But seriously, I can't believe it," Jimin stated once a semblance of peace settled over the otherwise frenzied area. The staff was in the midst of packing up while the members sprawled out on chairs and couches to catch their breath before leaving the venue. "We've been incredibly lucky this year."
"You can say that again," Namjoon agreed from his spot on the ground where Ji Ah was giving him a massage, a thin screen separating them from any prying eyes. The two were still keeping their relationship under close wraps though it was an open secret as far as the staff of Big Hit was concerned. But out of respect and an endearing affection for the rapper, there seemed to be an unspoken pact on their part to refrain from referring to it in any way.
Ji Ah didn't know how long this could continue before things finally came to a head, fully aware that their relationship was a time bomb just waiting to explode. But there was no helping the risk, not at this point anyway. Lost in thought, her fingers pressed into Namjoon's shoulder a tad bit roughly and he grimaced. "Take it a little easy there, love?"
Overhearing the comment, Taehyung poked his head around the partition and smirked. "You guys do realize we're still in public right?"
Ji Ah flung a towel at him, catching the man square in the jaw and sending him tumbling into Jungkook's lap. "Kim Taehyung, keep it down will you?"
Taehyung merely grinned, raising his palm in silent apology, utterly oblivious to the maknae squirming underneath the weight of his body. The videographer sighed, lowering her head to study Namjoon and lightly trailing her finger along the ridges of his shoulders. She watched him relax at the motion and smiled softly. "Sorry about that, Joon-ah. And Tae's right." The rapper let out a groan when she shifted to sit opposite him, the sudden lack of pressure on his back strangely unnerving. "I shouldn't be giving you a massage where anyone can see us."
A mischievous look glinted in Namjoon's eyes. "My place, then?" His voice clearly implied that this rendezvous would consist of more than just a massage. Seokjin, who was perched on a stool a few feet away, chortled unabashedly at the invitation. The rapper scowled at him, playfully shooing him away but the man just continued grinning.
Ji Ah rolled her eyes, stifling the urge to join the oldest in his laughter. "Sure, your place which you share with six other guys. So much privacy," she deadpanned, the sarcasm not lost on Namjoon. "I can hardly wait."
Hoseok had joined them behind the screen to stretch his legs and laughed out loud at her statement, the booming sound echoing within the hollow space of the tent. "God, do you guys ever get tired of bickering?"
"Never," Ji Ah and Namjoon declared in unison, chuckling as their gazes locked with each other. Hoseok shook his head but joined them with a fondness in his eyes.
"Alright, guys, it's time to leave," Sejin announced loudly, inciting chaos within the tent as everybody scattered to get their bearings in order. The boys shrugged into their blazers with the stylists touching up their makeup and fixing their hair for their exit. Taking this as her cue, Ji Ah slipped out of the room quietly, promising to meet Namjoon later. Bounding down the corridor, she ran headfirst into Jae Chan who had accompanied her as a member of the videography team.
"You ready to go?" he asked her without any preemptory greeting. The man had long since given up trying to talk Ji Ah out of what he termed an absolutely 'disastrous involvement' with an idol who had acquired a tremendous amount of fame, and had resigned himself to looking out for his assistant should anything get out of hand. The brunette-haired woman was grateful for his support, even though it was reluctantly provided.
"Yep. Just give me a minute to get my stuff."
The time bomb Ji Ah had been dreading exploded in the form of a meeting with Bang PD a few days before the final 'Wings' episode. The CEO of Big Hit had requested a private word with her without explaining the reason but the videographer knew exactly what issue he wanted to address. Seated in his office, she wondered which staff member had finally had enough of her and Namjoon constantly squabbling and had exposed them.
Bang PD looked up from the monitor on his neatly organized desk after what seemed like an excruciating eternity, his pudgy face devoid of its usual warmth. "I think you know, Ms. Hong, why I've asked to meet with you."
Ji Ah thought it best to be straightforward, not wanting to annoy the man any more than necessary. "I have an idea, yes."
Bang PD leaned over the desk, propping his chin on his fingers and scrutinized the videographer carefully. "Then let's not waste any time beating about the bush. I have no patience for such tactics unlike some other CEO's who wouldn't hesistate to employ roundabout methods. The point is, Ms Hong," there was no mistaking the solemnity in his voice now, "that I think you're incredibly talented and I don't want to have you fired."
Ji Ah inhaled deeply but didn't avert her gaze. "Who was it?"
The CEO's expression told her that he had been expecting the question. But she wasn't prepared when he answered, thinking he would brush it off. "Namjoon." But before a shocked Ji Ah could respond, he held up a finger. "Before you ask, let me just tell you. We have no secrets, the boys and I. And I believe that he thought this development between you two was something I should know about."
Namjoon had told his CEO himself? That was like a suicide mission just waiting to blow up in their faces. Which it had.
"I'm sorry, but I don't understand. What are you trying to say right now?" Ji Ah finally ground out, her mind still reeling from the revelation. Bang PD sighed, a morose expression on his face.
"I'm telling you what I told Namjoon, that this needs to stop before it goes any further. As happy as I am for him having found someone to love, this isn't the time," he clarified. There was something sad lacing his tone and Ji Ah wasn't averse to the flash of guilt in the CEO's eyes. It was as if he actually regretted being the bearer of such distressing news.
"And?" she asked, a little more curtly than she had intended. "What was Namjoon's answer?"
Bang PD's lips stretched into a thin line. "Namjoon can be a little headstrong as I'm sure you know very well. He refused to listen to me." He took a deep breath, bracing himself for what was to come. "Which is why I'm asking you to be the reasonable one."
"You're asking me to break up with him." It wasn't a question and the CEO knew it. Ji Ah stared at him with a steely look in her eyes, her features beginning to twist into a barely suppressed frown. "But I can be headstrong too, sir. And just like Namjoon, I refuse."
Bang PD sucked in a breath, obviously having expected this. "You don't seem to understand at all. Bangtan are at a very important stage in their lives. This year hasn't even ended and they've already got a packed schedule for 2018. Not to mention the rest of the 'Love Yourself' series and Namjoon buried under more work, spending more time away from home." He looked directly at her now. "More time away from you."
"We can work around it." Ji Ah was aware her voice faltered slightly but she didn't waver, though she couldn't deny the impending struggle the CEO was hinting at by laying the facts before her.
"Don't you see? You have a thriving career too, Ji Ah-sshi. How long do you think it's going to be before there's a fall out which would affect both of you? And then you'd both be left brokenhearted which is something I wish to avoid at all costs." And then he said the words which had Ji Ah questioning everything. "You know him well and you know that when he latches onto something he gives it his all, the world be damned. And that something right now is not his work I can assure you." Something in her eyes must have given away her pain for the CEO's features softened. "It won't be long before he finds himself conflicted."
"So your solution is for us to break up?" Ji Ah found her tone rising but she didn't care. "I'm sorry but you don't know him at all then. He can manage both his work and his relationship quite well, I'm sure." But could she? "He's strong enough now to love both himself and another person." But was she? "He can concentrate on himself as well as his work just fine." But would she?
"So I take it you're not going to relent either, then," Bang PD observed and something like defeat flickered across his features. "Be careful, Ji Ah-sshi. You're treading on ground which could give way with the slightest pressure."
And it killed Ji Ah to know he was right. ***
"Babe? Will you let me in already? I thought we were supposed to have dinner together tonight?" Namjoon called out, hoping his voice would carry beyond the door into Ji Ah and So Min's apartment. He had called the videographer almost ten times and each time, the call had gone straight to voice mail. For a moment, he was worried something had happened to her until he ran into So Min at Big Hit who informed him that his girlfriend was cooped up in their house.
A muffled sound followed his quick knocks on the door which was finally pulled open by a beleaguered Ji Ah. "I'm sorry, Joon-ah. But I don't think I can do date night." She looked haggard, gaunt almost with a morbid twitch to her lips and she tried to muster a smile which looked more like a wince. Without a word, Namjoon wrapped his arms around her, caressing her hair and he felt her relax against him.
"You met PDnim, didn't you?"
Ji Ah's head whipped up at the question and a smirk tugged at her downturned lips. "What, are you a telepath now? And come in, I don't want to freeze out here in the open," she chuckled lightly and the rapper felt some of the tension in his chest ease.
Plopping onto the sofa, Namjoon pulled Ji Ah towards him and she curled against his side, breathing in harmony with the rapper. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you before speaking to him." He sounded remorseful and the videographer tilted her head to look at him.
"You better be. I don't like surprises, you know," she said, trying to sound irritated, an incredibly difficult feat when she was nestled in the warmth of Namjoon's body and inhaling the scent of peaches wafting off of him. "I handled it great I'd say."
Namjoon laughed, his lively eyes meeting her fiery ones. "So I heard. PDnim thought you were going to rip his head off," he remarked wryly and Ji Ah merely shrugged. But her features shifted to accommodate a more serious expression.
"I'm sorry about cancelling tonight. I know how much you wanted to visit that sushi place," she apologized but Namjoon brushed it off, placing a kiss on her forehead and grinning at her.
"Well, they do have the option of home delivery."
And a few beers and pieces of sushi later, Namjoon and Ji Ah were lounging on the chaise occupying the length of the balcony. There were no stars speckling the night sky, just the moon dotting the skyline as it gleamed and emanated a glow which bathed the world below in light. "Bang PD isn't wrong, you know, about all of it," she stated after a while, her legs stretched over the rapper's thighs.
"Doesn't matter. We'll work it out," he replied without missing a beat and the videographer sighed audibly.
"I thought I was the stubborn one," she tried to joke but the rapper caught her wrist, circling it with his fingers and watching her carefully. Below them, vehicles and pedestrians rolled by languidly, blissfully unaware of the agonizing conversation unraveling above them.
"You better not be thinking of making any sacrifices, Ji Ah," Namjoon's tone was firm, his grip on her hand firmer. "I know we can do this."
"How can you be so sure?" she demanded, her entire being aching to believe the rapper's words so badly. She watched in mute fascination as Namjoon's eyes glimmered, the moon casting waves of shadows which coiled and uncoiled against the floor of the balcony.
"Because you love me." The simple words held so much promise and so much tenderness. It held the entire world and Ji Ah wanted to lose herself in it. "And I love you." Namjoon was smiling softly, his dimples deepening with every curve of his lips and Ji Ah reached out to touch them. "You make me a better person. Make me want to try that much harder at everything I do."
But Ji Ah shook her head. "It's the other way round, Joonie." And indeed it was for she knew that Namjoon brought out the best in her. "You've always thought I was perfect, unblemished and faultless but that couldn't be further from the truth."
"You can be a little overbearing," he agreed teasingly and Ji Ah smacked him. He instantly fell silent, sensing her need to unburden herself.
"The point is, I'm not. I'm human too. Like you are, like we all are. I used to believe that being perfect was the most important thing, that there was no room for errors. But I know better now. And I've learnt that it's okay to make mistakes and stumble and fall," she continued, her voice low but not indecisive. "You taught me that."
Namjoon's eyebrows creased in bafflement. "Me? What are you talking about?"
But Ji Ah didn't answer, turning away to gaze at the moon. "You know why I accepted when you asked me out all those years ago?" The rapper was silent and she smiled. "I used to watch you sometimes, your practice sessions I mean. Your passion for rap was no secret at school and watching you go at it with so much determination despite hitting blocks or being ridiculed impressed me. You weren't afraid to chase after what you wanted. And I loved that about you." She cocked her head, her eyes fixing on his once again. "I still do. All this time, you kept talking about how I inspired you, never once realizing that it was you who inspired me."
Namjoon's eyes widened, his jaw going slack as he processed her words. Ji Ah grinned, flicking her wrist away so her fingers could curl around his calloused ones. "I…wow…this is-"
"What? Did I take your breath away?" Ji Ah was grinning now but her eyes held the same gravity and Namjoon knew every syllable she had uttered was the truth.
"You know you always do."
Ji Ah kissed him then, taking his breath away for real. It was slow and sweet and held a pledge of her love which Namjoon could taste on her lips. Pulling away, she leaned on his shoulder, a content sigh escaping her, the warnings and uncertainty of the future momentarily forgotten in the rapper's embrace.
"Let's just say we've both got the best of each other," Namjoon declared after a while and Ji Ah laughed.
"That's your response to my heartfelt speech, Kim Namjoon?" she said in mock derision and the rapper bit his lips to restrain the smile tugging at them.
"Well, you know I can't win against you," he replied sweetly and the videographer snorted, punching him lightly on the arm.
The ensuing silence was comfortable but the conflicting emotions within Ji Ah were beginning to rear their ugly head at her. She couldn't shake off the sickening premonition that this moment in Namjoon's arms would be a fleeting respite which would end if she so much as blinked. It didn't help that the logical side of her mind clung to the truth of Bang PD's words. And Ji Ah had never been one to ignore her logical side. Especially now, when she was starting to see things about herself she had previously been blind to.
I don't think I'm strong enough, she reflected wearily.
She couldn't hurt Namjoon, couldn't risk hurting his career when he had worked so hard for it. But she couldn't hurt herself either. Looking over at him, she caught the rapper watching her and Ji Ah wondered if he could discern the vacillation on her face. If he could see her internal battle with herself, her subconscious claiming she couldn't love him, not when she didn't know what it meant to love herself. Something in his eyes told her he could; that he knew they were merely stalling the inevitable.
But then Namjoon smiled and her breath caught at the sight of those dimples which would always be capable of saving her from the depths of the dark crevices of her mind.
"I've got you right?"
Namjoon's eyes danced in the moonlight. "We've got each other."
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