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wanna be better (you make me better)

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Jimin can handle missing a dance step. He can handle his mic pack falling off, he can handle the sweat that inevitably pours down his face, ruining his hair, every time he steps out under the stage lights. Hell, on a good day he can even handle the occasional voice cracks. He knows by now that it happens to the best of them, that it has happened to all of them at one point or other. He can justify those things, after this long in the spotlight.

But when he misses a dance step and then his mic pack falls off and then his voice cracks twice during one song - his solo song no less - well, that’s not so easy for Jimin to handle.

The devastation hits him the moment he walks off stage, and in that moment all he wants to do is cry. He wants to break down and let it all out and sleep for about 100 years. Maybe then he wouldn’t have to read the twitter comments. But Jimin knows he can’t do that, so instead he draws in fast, shallow breaths as he changes into his outfit for Lost, desperately trying to will the tears away. At first, he manages. He doesn’t burst into tears when Namjoon claps him on the back and tells him he did a job on his way to standby for his own solo. He holds it in when Hoseok run’s a hand through his hair as he makes his way past.

But it gets worse as he waits backstage, as he sinks down into a corner where he’ll be out of the way of the hustle and bustle. He already feels like a giant fucking inconvenience. The last thing he wants to do tonight is get in someone else’s way.

He can feel his breath coming faster and faster as he curls himself up, and he knows he needs to calm down. He needs to get back in control. But that’s easier said than done, and it gets to the point where one of the makeup noonas - he doesn’t know which one because he’s pressing his eyes into his knees, still trying his best not to cry - kneels down beside him and puts a bag of ice over the back of his neck. It stings, and he tries to focus on that. Its better then what’s going on in his head, at least.

After a minute or so he hears the rustling of fabric and footsteps walking towards him, right by his ear. The weight of the noona’s hand pressing the ice pack into his neck disappears. Instead someone bends down beside him, strong arms pulling his still curled form into a warm chest. There’s a hand in his hair, and it takes him about 30 seconds to register whose it is.

After five years together, he knows his bandmate’s pretty well, smells included. During a concert most of them smell like sweat first, residual cologne second. But not Jungkook. His boyfriend, ever sensitive, always smells like the damp wash cloth he uses to wipe himself down in between sets whenever he gets the chance. He smells like cologne first, sweat second. And the moment the smell of that cologne envelops him, Jimin comes closer to sobbing his eyes out than he has all night.

So its a testament to how much comfort Jimin draws from Jungkook that he doesn’t. He’s still breathing fast, so much faster than he should be, though. Jungkook noses into his hair and Jimin wants to pull away - he’s sweaty and gross, and not in a good way. But Jungkook just holds him tighter.

“Shhh, hyung. You’re working yourself up,” Jungkook whispers into Jimin’s hair. His voice is soft, a little gravely from the demands of the concert so far, but soft nonetheless.

“I-i--it was s-so bad,” Jimin stutters back breathlessly. “It was so bad, Jungkookie.”

Jungkook just shushes him again, hand petting the back of his hair, scratching at his scalp. Jimin wants so badly to pull away - he doesn’t deserve this - but he can’t quite bring himself to.

Instead, Jungkook settles down properly in front of him so that he can keep Jimin in his arms while he looks into his eyes. Jimin knows he’s a mess. His face probably bright red, hair a disaster, and he can feel the tears welled up in his eyes, waiting to spill over. But Jungkook moves his hand to the side of Jimin’s head, thumbing down his face like his boyfriend is the most beautiful, precious thing he’s ever seen before.

“We’ll talk about it tonight,” Jungkook whispers. “Right now you need to get your hair fixed and we need to get back on stage. But trust me, Jimin, you were incredible. You were so, so beautiful.”

Jimin just shakes his head and Jungkook sighs a little. He reaches to pull one of Jimin’s hands around and presses it to Jungkook’s own chest. He looks Jimin in the eyes as he breathes in and out deeply a few times, silently asking Jimin to do the same. The reality of the situation is that Jimin’s insecurities run deep. They won’t fix the problem in the five minutes they have before they need to be on standby. They have the day off tomorrow and both of them know how the night will be spent. They’ll lie in bed, wrapped up in each other’s arms, and they’ll talk until Jimin feels okay enough to go to sleep. Jimin will probably cry and Jungkook will probably cry as well, but they’ll both feel better for it in the morning.

But they don’t have time for that right now. If Jimin can’t regulate his breathing, he can’t sing, and so Jungkook’s priority is sorting that out. Now, he’ll deal with the physical. He doesn’t like it at all, but the mental’s just gonna have to wait for a few hours.

They don’t say much as Jimin’s breathing rate returns to normal. Once Jungkook’s deemed it acceptable, he stands. He holds out a hand for Jimin and pulls him up and the second they leave that little corner, Jimin is swept away by a makeup noona to have his hair fixed.

They get back on stage and they finish the concert. At this point in their careers, they know they owe too much to the fans to let person problems interfere with live performances, especially in places like Chile, where they visit all too rarely. And Jimin feels better, he really does, as the night progresses. The rest of the stages go well, and by the time he’s swapping out his jeans for sweatpants backstage, he’s drained of energy but he isn’t wishing the floor would swallow him up like he was before.

In the van, Jungkook pulls Jimin into the back row where they quietly curl into each other. Jimin closes his eyes and tries to focus on his boyfriend’s breathing. Jungkook tucks Jimin into his chest and throws his jumper over Jimin’s head, cocooning him a dark, peaceful nest. He doesn’t nap. He knows that would mess up his sleep schedule, so instead he zones out, lets his mind be blanketed by the peace he finds in Jungkook’s arms.

They get to the hotel and Jimin shuffles out of the van, still pulled into Jungkook’s side. The two of them exchange their goodnights with the other members on the way up to the rooms before heading into their own. If they were back at the dorms and Jimin was feeling as low as he was tonight, Jungkook might run him a bath, might coerce Yoongi into letting them borrow some of his fancy bubble products, might take them anyway if he says no. But even that seems exhausting to Jimin at this point. The high of the concert has worn off and some of the disappointment is starting to sink back in, only this time its framed by numbness instead of anxiety. So instead, Jimin stands limp and docile as Jungkook strips him and shuffles him into the shower. He stays like that as Jungkook washes his hair, quick but tender, and scrubs a washcloth over his body, pulling him close and kissing his forehead as he reaches around to do his back. Once he’s done, he steps out of the shower and manages to dress himself while Jungkook meticulously goes through his own cleaning routine. By the time Jungkook’s pulled his own sweatpants on, Jimin’s tucked himself into the big bed, wrapped himself up in fluffy blankets in an effort to make himself feel a little better. It’s the least he can do to show Jungkook he’s trying.

Before coming to bed himself, his boyfriend takes a detour. He goes over to their suitcases, puling out the scented candle Jungkook had brought along with them. Its peaches and vanilla, the same one that sits on Jungkook’s desk in the dorms. A little bit of home not matter how far away they are.

He places it on the bedside table closest to Jimin after he’s lit it, turning out all the overheads but leaving the lamp on above his own bedside table. As he watches Jungkook putter about, Jimin wonders when his boyfriend had gotten so mature. It seemed like only last year Jungkook was a silly fifteen year old, terrified by his hyung’s gentle but flirty nature. Now here he was, acting like an adult, taking care of Jimin even though he was only 20 years old. In that moment, Jimin feels a swell of pride in his chest, over the man his boyfriend had become. Someone loyal and kind and dependable and trusting. Someone Jimin was so, so proud to call his own.
Jungkook pulls back the covers and snuggles into the nest Jimin had started to form. He didn’t pull Jimin toward him but rather moved to meet Jimin, placing his hand back over the side of Jimin’s face that wasn’t smooshed into the pillow, thumbing down his cheek once more as he tangled their legs together gently.

“Hey,” Jungkook starts quietly. “Do you wanna talk about tonight? Or do you just wanna sleep?”

As Jimin opens his mouth to answer, he notices how the light from the lamp refracts off Jungkook’s gooey brown eyes. He sees so much love, so much acceptance in them that in that moment he really he can’t help himself. He lets the tears that had been threatening to spill over since he had finished his solo stream down his face without trying to stop them. He doesn’t sob like he had thought he might - his body doesn’t shake and rattle with the force of his emotion. Instead, he cries silently. It’s more of a release than anything else.

Jungkook doesn’t move to thumb away his tears. He knows that sometimes, rarely but sometimes, Jimin just has to cry things out. He waits patiently until the tears start to slow.

“Baby,” Jungkook says once he think’s Jimin’s capable of replying, “you know not a single person in that crowd tonight noticed any of the things you’re beating yourself up about. I barely noticed them. The only reason I saw is because I’ve watched you do that routine a thousand times over, because you take my breath away every single time you do it. And you took my breath away tonight just like you always do.”

“I j-just feel like such a l-let down,” Jimin replies wetly, voice thick with tears. “I feel like I let them down by not being perfect even if they didn’t n-notice a-anything. I feel like I let the others down by not being as g-good as them. I feel like I let you down, because you deserve so much m-more then someone who can’t even e-execute his solo song properly. B-but mostly I just feel like I let myself d-down.”

Jungkook knows that feeling. He knows exactly what Jimin’s answer is going to be before he asks, but its important that Jimin verbalises how he’s feeling, so he asks anyway - “how so?”

“I don’t know,” Jimin hiccups, sounding frustrated. “It’s just hard. To want so badly for something to be perfect and then to mess it up when it r-really matters. I feel like no matter how hard I try it i-isn’t ever g-good enough.”

Jungkook hums softly in acknowledgement, stroking Jimin’s face as he tries to think of how best to respond to that.

“Hyungie, you’re not a robot. You’re a person. You’re my person. My Jiminie-hyung,” Jungkook tries. “And you’re not perfect, but that’s what makes you you. I don’t love you because you’re an amazing dancer or singer. I love you because you’re so kind and you’re so thoughtful and so happy and bright. I love you because you’re hard working. I don’t love you for the results of that hard work. So please, please don’t ever feel like you aren’t deserving of me. You don’t do anything that makes you deserving of me except exist.”

It comes out awkward and stunted and Jungkook wishes he could write lyrics like Yoongi or just speak as eloquently as Namjoon. He wishes he had the right words to make Jimin feel okay again. But he doesn’t have that.

But he does have the smile Jimin’s giving him. It’s shaky and his boyfriend’s lips are wet with tears but its still a smile.

“You’ve got to know how loved you are, baby. You’ve got to know how adored you are by so many people all around the world. They don’t care if you mess up, Jiminie. They love you because you’re human just like I do. There’s a reason you win so many popularity polls. So many idols are flawless performers but you’re the one everyone loves. Because your teeth aren’t perfect and sometimes you’re a little shy and sometimes you say weird shit. But it’s all so endearing and charming. It’s all so, so you.”

Jimin’s smile has turned a little bashful know, but Jungkook knows he loves it.

“What can I do?” Jungkook whispers softly. “What can I do to make you feel better?”

When Jimin sighs again its a happy sigh. A content sigh. He snuggles himself down further so his face is pressed into Jungkook’s chest, hands wrapped up in his sleep shirt.

“You don’t have to do anything else, Jungkookie,” comes Jimin’s muffled reply. “Thank you for putting up with me. I’m sorry I’m so dramatic.”

“Sshhh, you’re not dramatic. You’re Jimin, and I’d never just put up with you. I love you, and I love how good you want to be. I just want you to feel good as well.”

“I feel better,” Jimin promises. “You made me feel better.”

————

Tomorrow when Jimin wakes up, it’ll be to the breakfast in bed his boyfriend had ordered for them from room service. It’ll be to Jungkook feeding him crepes and smearing whipped cream all over his face. It’ll be to giggles and smiles from both of them, and to so, so much more love than he could ever know what to do with. But he’ll take it all just the same.