Illicit Affairs: Clandestine Meetings
Pairings: Namjoon x Reader (barely)
Word Count: 3.5K
Warnings: Manipulation, Abuse of Power, Swearing, Negotiations and Contracts
Summary: Namjoon has to grapple with the decisions he’s made and the lives he’s participated in destroying.
Listen: illicit affairs by Taylor Swift
Namjoon slipped into the conference room, sport coat over a hoodie and matching sweats. His hair quaffed back, glasses on, bag slung across his shoulder. He had been dreading this meeting for weeks, months. Every few years their contract with BigHit needed negotiating, and being the leader, the role of representing the best interest of the seven men fell to him. He loathed negotiations, detested the position they put him in, and absolutely despised the imbalance of power in the meetings. BTS had lawyers, but their lawyers still worked for BigHit. A defunct HR department more so than barristers dedicated to protecting their rights as performers, creators and men. This meeting was going to be worse than the others, if the sinking feeling in his gut was any indication. Not only was their contract nearly up, but they had the precarious position of trying to figure out what would happen during Jin’s military service, which would be followed by Yoongi and the 94’s. He knew the contracts would include some clause or addendum regarding the mandatory order, and he could only guess what new rules management would be placing on them.
The entire Maknae Line was at risk, none of them would step up and lead, but if the plans to postpone service until Jin turned 30 was available, it would give the other members more time to grow out of childish early twenty-somethings into the grown men they had to be. The only bright spot in all of this was the fact that Jin would hopefully be back before the Maknae were truly alone, followed by Yoongi. Namjoon wasn’t comforted by the idea of Jin leading the group, but that was selfishness and pride speaking. Jin would be an excellent leader if given the opportunity.
Namjoon was similarly dreading the conversation because a plan had to be created to mitigate the damage Jungkook was supposedly doing, and to inhibit him from destroying everything BigHit had accomplished in the last decade. Namjoon, being the keeper of the Golden Maknae, was going to be forced to sign papers that ensured Jungkook’s cooperation while he, Ho-Seok, Yoongi and Jin were gone.
The grip BigHit had on the seven members could only be compared to Britney Spears conservatorship. She had her conservators, aka her father… and BTS had Bang.
Bang Si-hyuk was not a vicious man in nature. He was charismatic, charming, determined. He was not cruel, and he didn’t gain pleasure from watching BTS squirm. He had created BigHit to craft and groom Idols, capitalizing on the ever-booming K-Pop network and exploiting the talents of naïve youth and feeding on the despair of distressed parents. He preyed on the hungry, the poor, the outcasts, and he turned them into fucking billionaires. BTS was Midas, and Bang reaped all the benefits.
Bang wasn’t the only one manipulating children, robbing them of their futures, their family, their ability to have any semblance of a normal life. Every other music group and K-Pop mastermind was feeding off of the same labors. Despite the hard facts of the BigHit company, and K-Pop culture, Bang had been wonderful to the boys. He was always laughing and joking with them, encouraging them to explore different musical whims or try new sounds. But he also ran a business, and Namjoon would be hard pressed to forget that fact. No matter how much Bang loved them, they were the golden ticket he’d worked his entire life to find.
Namjoon was let into the conference room, where Bang and the team of BigHit lawyers sat, as well as a few people from marketing. Joon bowed, gave his greetings and sat down.
“Namjoon, how are you?” Bang asked.
“Fine, thank you, and you?” Namjoon was always polite, overly so.
“Good, how’s Y/N?” Bang inquired.
Namjoon cleared his throat, uncomfortable with the mention of his secret partner. “She’s great.”
“Good, now, we wanted to speak to you about Jungkook,” Bang said, directing Namjoon’s gaze to the screen mounted on the wall. A slide show of Jungkook’s misgivings began to play. Namjoon cursed silently. This was the meeting they were having.
“Alright,” Namjoon glanced down from the screen to his bag, where he pulled out and opened his notebook, pen poised at the ready.
“We’re concerned with his displays of disobedience,” Bang continued.
“Can you be more specific?” Namjoon asked.
“The tattoos, the hair colors, the collaborating with less desirable artists, his refusal to participate in V Lives, his general disregard for the rules, and the growing alcoholism,” Bang listed.
“He’s having growing pains,” Namjoon tried to level with him.
“He is grown, he has debuted, he has a contract,” Bang said.
“Jungkook wants to express himself, and he’s trying to find ways to do that,” Namjoon offered. Couldn’t they find a compromise? Not on the drinking, Namjoon would fully admit that was a problem.
“Ways that are damaging to all of you,” The marketing team said, side eyeing Joon.
“Respectfully, they are not,” Namjoon said.
“Jimin is getting tattoos,” Bang retorted.
“Jimin is his own person,” Namjoon rebuffed.
“Jimin is influenced by Jungkook.”
“We’re all influenced by one another, it’s been a decade, we spend every day together, it’s bound to happen.” Namjoon was growing impatient.
“You were supposed to keep an eye on him, but between you and Jin, you’ve led him astray,” Bang accused.
“I’m not sure that’s fair,” Namjoon said, breathing heavily through his nose, “Jungkook is making decisions for himself, he can decide what to do with his body. It’s his after all.”
“The decisions he is making effect all seven of you,” Bang countered.
“They aren’t effecting us negatively, ARMY loves his tattoos, they spend so much time trying to decipher what they mean. His entire hand is dedicated to BTS and ARMY.”
“They do not fit the image of this company,”
“Then why didn’t you fire him? He is always covered, always. We all are,” Namjoon shook his head.
“Aside from the tattoos, his desire to not participate in group filmings is unacceptable, and there’s still the problem of his drinking.”
“Have you had this conversation with Jungkook?” Namjoon asked.
“Yes, but you need to follow through on your obligations, Namjoon,” Bang’s words cut.
“Yes sir, I will.” Namjoon bowed.
“Jungkook needs to know his place if he is to make it through your military service. The four of you leaving in succession will destroy everything we’ve built. Jungkook and the Maknae line will be what remains while you are serving and recovering from active duty. If Jungkook doesn’t know what his place is, you will have nothing to return to.” Bang was an absolutist. Nothing was grey, it was clearly defined or could be with a few lines in their next contract.
“Jungkook is the best of all of us, he can handle it.”
“He needs to stop collaborating with low charting American artists, and British pop groups formed on reality shows. It’s lowering exposure in western markets and putting a damper on sales of BTS albums. He also needs to stop getting tattoos. A full sleeve is more than enough.”
“Sir, what will Jungkook do when he’s, thirty?”
“Depends what his contract says.”
Namjoon bowed his head.
“The Maknae line needs to be prepared for when the four of you are gone. They do not have a clear leader; they spend their time giggling and joking around. Who will step up?”
“Taehyung would be a great leader, so would Jungkook or Jimin. The Maknae work well together, as a subunit they are strong. They are excellent singers and dancers, Jungkook has excelled at creating videos, Jimin’s song writing has improved ten times over as has his leadership, and Taehyung has excellent taste, an impeccable palate as an art director. The three of them are capable of handling themselves, when Jin-hyung and Yoongi-hyung are done with service, the five of them will excel at creating their own work.”
“Namjoon, you seem to think that people want music produced by three vocalists,”
“Taehyung can rap, so can Jungkook.”
“What makes you so certain they’ll rise to the occasion?” Bang asked.
“They have to and they will,” Namjoon said, voice determined.
“Good, now, your contracts are coming up in a few months, and we need to look at a few details,” Bang motioned for the legal team to join, and they passed Namjoon a copy of their current contract. The marketing team left quietly, bowing and slipping out the door almost unnoticed.
“Shouldn’t Jin be here? Or the other members?” Namjoon asked, eyes scouring the familiar pages. “I don’t think I should be the lone member in these negotiations.”
“You’re the leader,” Bang stated.
“It’s their careers and futures, sir,” Namjoon bowed his head, unwilling to show any disrespect.
“The decision was made that you were the leader, are you not?”
“I am but –
“But nothing, you are the liaison, you will communicate any changes in your contracts to them before they come in to sign them.” Bang said. The lawyers nodded in unison.
“Are there changes?” Namjoon asked.
“Yes, we have put a note by all the changes, take a minute to read them.” One of the lawyers said.
Namjoon glanced at the notes sticking out, how could there be so many changes? His eyes glanced over the first change.
Heretofore, no member of BTS may publicly or privately engage in romantic relationships with members of the same or opposite sex. Promiscuous or philandering behavior will not be tolerated and could result in expulsion or a financial penalty.
Any article, Tweet, TikTok or Instagram post about any relationship that a BTS member is engaging in will result in said member paying the fee for scrubbing said incident from the media and any subsequent scandals or fines.
He read it again.
“Why this change in relationship status?”
“It’s not a change, but a clarification,” A lawyer said.
“A clarification of what? That if anyone is attracted to the same sex, they can’t be with them?” Namjoon raised his eyebrow, unsure who told Bang the Kinsey scale leanings of the seven members.
“It is to cover all bases,” The lawyers ensured. “To prohibit unfavorable pairings, pregnancies, diseases or most likely, scandals.”
“How much is this fee?” Namjoon asked, eyes wide.
“Depends on the member, some ten thousand, others, hundred thousand,” One of the lawyers said.
“What about me?” He whispered.
“Your contract continues to state that you are allowed to date as long as it is kept 100% in secret, absolutely private, and should you break up, she signs an NDA stating that she will not speak ill of you, your relationship, BTS or any members in perpetuity. Should she break this agreement, a fine of one million dollars will be paid.” Another lawyer answered.
Namjoon nodded, the agreement of your relationship had caused a lot of fights, a lot of bickering, a lot of tears. Namjoon had to be certain you were the one in order to get Bang to let him even take you out or call you.
Namjoon adjusted his glasses before moving to the next note.
BigHit remains the sole proprietor of all content, music, lyrics, and productions created by BTS. This includes all solo work created on company property, with company studios and materials. All artwork, publishing rights and revenue belongs in perpetuity to BigHit. BTS members have access to their catalogue and revenue through BigHit’s legal team and through written permission from management. All recordings, voice memos, music videos and song samples used in any BTS created content may not be used by any members for solo projects not produced by BigHit.
Namjoon read the words over and over. He glanced at their old contract, noting the slight changes in the paragraph from their previous agreement.
In perpetuity to BigHit.
Everything they’d ever made, everything they’d ever done, from debut to now, belonged to BigHit. This wasn’t new information, this wasn’t shocking, but in perpetuity, forever and ever and ever… Namjoon couldn’t wrap his head around it.
“Can I take this home?” Namjoon asked, looking at the team, a cold sweat coating his back.
“Both copies?” A lawyer asked hesitantly.
“I need to read through it, to process it, I need a little time, if allowed,” Namjoon cleared his throat.
“Fine, bring your thoughts to our next meeting. You all must sign this before your current contract is up, and before one of you leaves for Military Service. You have a week,” Bang and his crew stood up, and Namjoon followed suit, bowing before collecting his items.
As he entered the dorm, he noted the chaotic calm of their living quarters. Though they drifted from their own apartments into the shared space, it was common that in the evenings they would share a meal, watch a movie or play games together. Jungkook was trying to beat Yoongi in some video game, Jin was laughing with Ho-Seok and Taehyung, and Jimin was vocalizing in the kitchen, making what looked like a cup of tea. Namjoon nodded at them waving hello before disappearing into his room.
He sat at his desk, looking at his blossoming plants, and pulled the papers out, moving from the first few pages to the next tabs.
He found the corresponding paragraph in their current contract and compared.
Their current contract stipulated that BTS would be credited as producers only on tracks they produced a minimum of 50% of. The new contract stipulated that they had to produce 75% of the track in order to receive credit.
The next line stated that lyrical credits only went to artists that wrote 2/3 of the lyrics of every song, rap lines included. The remaining percentage went to the producer.
Namjoon stared at the page. How would that be possible, with seven members, to receive credit for anything? As he continued reading, he found himself growing angrier and angrier at every page. He knew he’d signed his life away; he knew it years ago. But this? This was tearing his limbs off his body and feeding it to the wolves.
He picked up his phone and called you.
“Hey babe, what’s up?” You asked, chipper disposition finding a way to travel across the globe to Korea.
“The new contract is, it’s fucking awful,” Namjoon said, dropping his pen and running a hand through his hair.
“How could it be worse?” You questioned. “It’s like, two hundred pages of absolute bullshit.”
“The phrase in perpetuity has been used more than once,” He said.
“No!” You gasped.
“They added new language about dating and relationships too,” Namjoon told you.
“With the sub section that you, as leader, have been afforded this one privilege over the others?” You inquired, setting your sleepy-time tea down.
“You know that’s only in my contract,” He said, a faint smile on his lips.
“Still, they aren’t changing that?” You hinted at your worry.
“I’m surprised they haven’t put more stipulations on it: Namjoon can date but only Korean women of a certain age and height,” He laughed darkly.
“Namjoon can date but cannot spend the night or engage in sexual activity, or any activity that could lead to the creating of a child, including jacking off in a hot tub,” You deadpanned.
“Namjoon can date, but only if she has no idea who BTS is,” Namjoon chuckled.
“Hmm, seems like you’re going to an indigenous tribe with no internet,” You suggested.
“I just want you,” Namjoon whispered.
“I know, babe,” You said. “tell me more about the contract.”
“I don’t know what to do, it’s iron clad, they’ve got us where they want us, and they won’t let go,” He sighed heavily, already exhausted and he hadn’t moved past the fifth post-it.
“They’re trying to get everything they can from you before you guys go serve,” You stated.
“It just seems so, degrading.”
“That they want all these things from you?” You asked.
“That they think they can control us,” Namjoon said.
“I thought they did,” You replied.
“I, yeah, yeah they do.” He sighed again, his heart weighing heavy.
“So, what’s so different about this time?” You asked.
“They only ever negotiate with me, they never speak to the other guys,”
“And?” You pressed.
“And, I have to read this, ask the lawyers questions, and present it to the guys. They’re going to absolutely shit themselves. It literally says that members are required to complete a minimum of six hours of V Live per year, with a bonus given every additional hour completed,”
“What?” Your gasp was beyond audible.
“And, if a scandal ever arises, we have to pay to have it wiped from the media.”
“I mean, okay, that one I can see making a little sense.”
“Someone must’ve tipped them off to who we’re attracted to, because there’s a new stipulation that you can’t date any one of any sex, period.”
“Shut up! They can’t do that!”
“Oh, they did,”
“Holy fuck, they did… Who told?” You asked.
“No idea, but they’re going to be so angry,” Namjoon agreed.
“The worst part? They own everything,” Namjoon said.
“Is that different?” You wondered. Namjoon had asked you to read over the contract years ago, when it was up for another negotiation. You’d asked your dad to take another look, his expertise in the industry proving to be useful. He didn’t have anything to say other than he felt bad for BTS, no rights, no representation, no ability to change the situation.
“In perpetuity, no chance to buy it back, no chance to own anything we’ve ever created, from debut to now.”
“Oh Joon,” You could hear the despair in his voice, the anguish, the hurt. Everything he’d ever worked for wasn’t his, and he knew it never would be.
“I feel so, responsible, like everything’s my fault,” Namjoon said dejectedly.
“Well, are you?” You pushed.
“It didn’t used to be this way. I mean, it did. They picked me first, they chose me to start this whole thing. They wanted me to help create this band that could be the next big thing. It was all I wanted, to rap, to make music, to help people heal through music, like I did. I had influence on who they put in the group, on why we have seven members instead of five or three… they listened to me, my vision… It was my group; sure, they pulled in Seokjin and gave me a list of people to look at… but BTS was mine. I signed the first contract, I read the terms and conditions, I signed us up for this.”
“Namjoon, you didn’t know,” Your heart was breaking.
“I knew better than to sign it all away,” His voice cracked.
“You were a child, Joon, a child,” You told him.
“No, you didn’t, they preyed on you. They used your insecurities, your desolation, your pain, and they fucking groomed you to need them, to be indebted to them. They did this to you.” Namjoon listened as you started crying, your words trying to speak the truth he couldn’t see.
“But I signed the contract,” Namjoon said. “It was impossible that we’d be anything.”
“You became everything,” You said.
“I signed their lives away, our rights, our work… I signed Jungkook,” Namjoon hadn’t realized the tears that had started falling. He let the weight of his statement run through him as the tears, like a winter storm, didn’t cease. “I signed Jungkook’s future away. He has nothing because of me.”
“He can’t ever have a wife, he can’t have a family, he’s working himself to an early grave, he has no ability to understand what life is like outside of this, no ties to who he is as a person because he doesn’t know. Jungkook is an amalgamation of the six of us, he isn’t even his own! Nothing is his, and it’s my fucking fault.”
You listened to Namjoon’s cries, his sobs giving way to the dark thoughts he’d been avoiding for years. You listened to your cries mixing with his, distress flowing between receivers. You listened as he tried to rationalize it, tried to make sense of the damage he’d done. But he couldn’t, and you didn’t have anything to offer.
“Can you talk to Seokjin or Yoongi?” You whispered, Namjoon’s sobs subsiding.
“I’m not supposed to,” Namjoon said in between ragged breaths.
“Fuck supposed to, do you want to talk to them?”
“Yeah,” He said, sniffling the chunks of snot back into his nasal passages.
“I think it would be good, healthy for you to share this burden with them. You can’t carry this alone, Namjoon, not anymore,” You encouraged.
“Please, talk to them.” You said, voice soft.
“I will, I will.” Namjoon promised.
“I love you, Kim Namjoon, endlessly,” You said, the declaration firm and exact as it flowed from your lips. It punctured the air around Namjoon, and he glanced to the singular photo he had framed of you.
“I love you too, endlessly.” He whispered.
As he hung up, eyes drifting towards the papers on his desk, he realized the saving grace of clandestine meetings: no one expected you to show their truth.
Next: A Million Little Times
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