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a romance in your pocket

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[11:06 PM]
hyung will you be home soon?

[Read, 11:10 PM]
Ah, sorry Kookie, I'm really working hard on this new song, I gotta keep going while I have inspiration!

[Read, 11:11 PM]
Did you really message me first??? Miss me that much, huh?

[Read, 11:13 PM]
Well anyway I'll see you later. Don't wait up. Unless you want to? But no pressure. Really, you should sleep when you can...we're definitely still on for tomorrow night.

*

"It's been more than two years since the last mixtape, so we really want you to expand your horizons," Bang PD-nim had said. "We really think the next mixtape could benefit from a sexier sound." There was nothing to indicate any irony about his proposal.

"Sexier," Namjoon parroted after a pause, nodding as if he understood.

"Something that can be played at a club, but with more mature lyrics than what we have to stick to for Bangtan's main fare," Bang PD-nim went on. (More mature, Namjoon mouthed, thinking about how obviously talking about social burdens of teenagers and young adults was clearly not what Bang PD-nim meant.) It did make sense, in a general sort of way. Obviously it would be good for Namjoon to show range, to show versatility and growth--and then he could bring back those ideas and new image to BTS proper.

Why couldn't it have been in Yoongi-hyung's mixtape, though? (Because that is going to take another three years at this rate, Namjoon thought, and then apologized in his head to Yoongi, and then sincerely hoped that it wouldn't take another three years.) Hoseok's new mixtape was also coming along--

But since Namjoon was the leader, he was the one who got the Talk.

So. He was trying to write a mature song. A sexy song. One of those, or both of them preferably.

He'd found a beat he liked, one he thought, a little red-faced, to which he'd be down for getting down, though after thinking that he slapped himself--not hard--because really? Really?

The lyrics were a different beast. It wasn't that he'd never struggled with lyrics before, it was just that he'd never tried writing stuff about sex. Or at least, he'd never written stuff about sex in lyrics that he would ever let anyone else see. He was willing to bare himself psychologically, about loneliness, about his struggles with his identity, about having a fucking party--whatever.

This kind of writing, though… He had a few rough drafts already trashed. He'd started with some that had been way, way too obscure (he had a Nietzsche reference, and that was the most accessible part of the whole thing on re-reading). Then he'd swung around and been entirely too obvious. He needed to find a way to straddle the line between sexy and subversive.

Maybe "straddle" wasn't the best word choice.

It was clearly time to refocus his efforts, double-down. What was sexy, anyway? It was personal, right? He would think about the person he liked and work from there. He might not get anything usable from it but he'd at least have thought about something nice for a little bit.

*

"A little bit" quickly turned into "a while" and then it was three AM. He'd gotten his flow going around one, he thought (he wasn't exactly concerned with checking the time when in the moment), and it could be the sleep deprivation but he really had something here.

He needed a second opinion. Yoongi-hyung was working away too, and, like, he could just walk down the hall and show Yoongi the lyrics, but his work chair was so comfortable and he could also potentially just close his eyes for a few minutes while Yoongi read through them.

Decision made, he shared the lyrics, set his phone face down on the desk, and followed it with his own face shortly after, forehead resting on his arms.

He didn't actually fall asleep like that, but there was a period of time where he was aware of the sensations around and in his body--the cool press of the desk under his arms, the ache in his neck from hunching over too much that night--without any sense of time passing or being able to move or process thoughts at all.

Eventually, his phone pinged with a new message.

He blinked and blinked, and finally lifted his head. He turned the phone over and turned the screen on.

3:44 AM, his phone read. Jungkookie sent a sticker.

Namjoon smiled dopily at his phone and knew he was smiling dopily at his phone even if he was pretty sure Jungkook should have gone to bed already. He swiped the screen on and went to the message, and his face crumpled faster than a piece of paper used for composing terrible sexy lyrics would if Namjoon used something besides his phone for composing. He wished he could crumple his own face and throw it in the trashbin.

There, on his "KookieMonster" chat, were his lyrics. Marked very clearly, Read.

This must be the only time in Kookie's entire life when he's responded to a message rather than using them as a way to sometimes ask a question and otherwise read and never reply.

Namjoon had no idea what to say. Those lyrics--obviously Kookie would be seeing them at some point if they were going to be on Namjoon's next mixtape but--

(The sticker itself was a blushing cartoon chunk of meat on a bone; the exaggerated flushing had nothing on what Namjoon felt on his own face.)

On the one hand, why was this so embarrassing? He and Kookie talked about all sorts of things, many of them more intimate than sex--but he hadn't been ready for Kookie to see these words, this expression of Namjoon's thoughts.

His mind was a dog chasing its tail over what an embarrassment he was, but he had to say something. He could pretend bravado in the privacy of his own studio. Did you like them?, he typed out.

His phone, the betrayer, blinked Read almost instantly, and then, in the plot twist of a century, Jungkook replied: did u mean them

[Read, 3:51 AM]
I was extrapolating from given data, but yes. I did.

[Read, 3:51 AM]
I do.

That blushing meat sticker was still visible on the screen, and even in the tense, prolonged quiet while waiting for Jungkook's ellipsis to transform into words, staring at that sticker made the smile muscles in Namjoon's face twitch a bit. What was Jungkook even doing up? He probably did look like that sticker, when he had read Namjoon's lyrics.

He felt calmer, thinking about the way Kookie licked his lips when nervous. Jungkook's mouth would be so chapped if it weren't for all of them constantly carrying lip balm around. (Jungkook had never said it out loud, but he obviously preferred the beeswax ones. Namjoon had started carrying it around on him, too, for himself, and because he kept track out of the corner of his eye the way that Kookie would pay attention when Namjoon used that kind.)

His phone lit up with a new message.

[3:56 AM]
i couldn't sleep so i'm in the practice room. i wouldn't have even noticed your message but the notification interrupted my song. i didn't even get what i was reading until i got to the line about being not quite the same height--and then the bit about hands--

Namjoon's face felt hot, and he could only imagine that if this conversation were happening in person he wouldn't even be able to look at Jungkook. But here, through their screens, it was safe. What had been a mistake felt more like a blessing, now. It was so hard to take the next step in their relationship, and there were so many reasons why: their schedules were so busy, they were in the public eye so often, they still lived with five other men, et cetera.

So you liked them, he wrote, starting to feel the bubbly edge of giddiness in his presumption. He sent his own sticker right after, a dog pulling sunglasses down his nose to wink greasily at the viewer.

[3:59 AM]
if you want we could figure out exactly how much i like them

[Read, 4:00 AM]
...I'm on my way.

Even though Namjoon was pretty sure they would just head back home and fall asleep, there was no way he was going to miss out on this opportunity. Maybe they wouldn't be able to go any further than they already had, but at least now their embarrassment would have intent behind it.

*

The next day of course everyone else knew about the mishap and gave Namjoon shit about it. "These lyrics are definitely about a dude, Joon-ah," Yoongi said, in his brusque but not unkind way. He scrolled further on Namjoon's phone. "Super one hundred percent about Jungkookie."

Namjoon carefully did not look at Yoongi's face--or anyone's--when he took his phone back. "Back to the drawing board, I guess."

"Just try not to make the drawing board the maknae when we're all home, okay?"

Namjoon's face could probably illuminate an entire stage. No one needed a leader, right? He was going into hiding, right now--

Kookie bumped shoulders with him, angled slightly behind him, holding his own phone in his hand. Namjoon's phone beeped. Jungkookie sent a message.

[1:06 PM]
they didn't say anything about when they're not home

Namjoon was going to spend the rest of his life as the human form of a blushing meat cartoon, at this rate. Oh well. With Kookie at his side and the rest of his group with them, there were definitely worse ways to be.