Warm sand squished between his toes as surf lapped in his periphery. A similar warmth flooded his heart, his eyes scanning the nearly empty seaside.
It was a hot summer day, and he couldn't imagine being anywhere else.
Namjoon smiled, his dimples deep enough for another ocean. What a relief they were here, not that stuffy office back in Seoul.
He walked further down the beach, shoes swinging from his fingers.
Within minutes of arriving, his friends were already in the water, splashing each other with the salty waves. One fell, and the others surrounded him mercilessly. Their laughter was contagious.
His smile brightened. They all needed this moment to relax before a nearly year-long tour swallowed their lives.
In their haste getting to the ocean, his friends had abandoned their stuff underneath an umbrella. A single boy hadn't joined them in the water.
He plopped his bag down next to the green-haired boy, who was lathering on far too much sunblock, coating his face and hands in white goop.
Namjoon laughed, rolling his eyes at the older boy. "You're supposed to rub it in, Yoongi-hyung. And not use so much."
"I burn easily," he grumped. "Besides, it comes out too quickly. Do you want me to waste it?" Yoongi stared up at him, eyes narrowing in annoyance.
Namjoon's smile wrinkled the corners of his eyes, his dimples flashing again as he crouched to help the other boy.
He answered him with a quick "no."
After a few minutes of trying to wipe up the white goop and properly rubbing it in, Yoongi was finally back to his usual pallor.
He plopped back on his blanket, flipped some sunglasses into place, and mumbled an "I'm going to sleep."
The younger boy shook his head, rising to his feet. He prodded him with his toe. "You could do that back at the house, you know?"
The other boy didn't answer, kicking his foot away.
Namjoon barked a laugh, a hand coming up to shyly cover the noise. He stepped out from under the umbrella, sunshine spilling over him. His hand fell to his side.
He glanced back at Yoongi once before heading to the water, towards the boys now having a rambunctious water war. All of them were soaked, their brightly colored hair hanging in their eyes.
Their laughter had turned mischievous as they leaped through waves after each other.
He wished he'd kept his phone to capture their smiles. But, knowing him, it'd be his phone ending up in the ocean, not him.
Besides, the boy wasn't joining them anyway.
He stopped short, the water lapping at his toes, frigid despite the summer heat.
Namjoon crouched, hands on his knees, eyes shining. Underneath his feet were hundreds of tiny air bubbles, all clear signs of little beach crabs.
The boy bounced on his toes, childish excitement moving through him. There were so many of them! What luck!
He flicked his dark hair away from his eyes, wishing he'd styled it away from his face this morning. His hair made it hard to watch for his little friends.
He wiggled his toes, spreading them apart impatiently as he waited.
Eventually, a tiny purple crab poked her body out. Her pretty shell shined in the sun, so brilliantly, the boy had to scoop her up.
His long fingers were quick, catching her before she disappeared back into the sand. Namjoon was gentle, of course, his voice turning mushy soft.
"Hello there, little crab. I'm Namjoon."
He stood, lifting her in his large hands. His eyes never left the small creature. She was so precious, and the boy was scared of hurting her.
His hands cupped her, caging her against his palms. She didn't seem to mind, though, settling against the warmth of his fingers.
Her curious little eyes stared up at this strange boy. He was soft in a way she hadn't expected. Typically humans were rough when they found her wandering the sand.
They stared at her as if she was an oddity, not them with their peculiar faces and oddly limbed bodies.
He tilted his head to watch her better, looking very much like a child instead of a 25-year-old. His eyes shined with wonder as if he stared at a relic, not an ordinary crab.
She mimicked him.
A rush of air left his lips, somewhere between a sigh and a squeal of happiness. His eyes turned into little half-moons of joy.
Namjoon leaned forward, bringing his face closer to the delicate crab.
She did the same, bringing a tiny claw up to his nose.
He giggled, a noise so soft and full of delight her heart from hearing it. Who knew humans could be so adorable and gentle?
"Hello, Namjoon," she thought. "What a lovely boy you are."
He didn't answer, of course. Crabs spoke no human language, so he couldn't possibly understand her. But she tried anyway.
He watched her for a moment, eyes thoughtful. Then he leaned away from her, rising to his full height.
The boy was very tall, indeed. The ground shrunk, its familiar colors blurring together.
Namjoon smiled, and this time he didn't cover it, leaving dimples and all on display.
It was blinding. In Namjoon's palm, the crab did a little dance, her way of showing glee. She wanted to tell the boy how happy she was to meet him too.
He wasn't looking at her anymore, though. The dangerous boys who'd stomped above her home moments earlier had stolen his attention.
He watched them as fondly as he had her. They must have been his friends or family. Someone important to him.
However, these boys were too busy shoving one another under the waves to notice Namjoon watching them. A few had wandered to the sand and were building some sort of structure.
All were preoccupied.
The boy called to one of them.
The older of the boys broke away, a final splash catching him in the back of the head. He glared at his two dongsaengs (juniors) over his shoulder but kept walking. He'd repay them later.
"What's up, Namjoon?"
"I found a crab!" He bounced on his heels, beyond excited to share this little beauty with his hyung.
"Isn't it adorable?" His eyes shined as he stared down at Seokjin, hoping the other boy would see how cute the tiny thing was.
The shorter boy's lips quirked into a smile. His eyes adoringly watched Namjoon as he watched the crab. Nothing made his leader more enthusiastic than the little creatures.
"It's charming, Namjoon."
After a moment's hesitation, the pause filled with the cries of gulls and their very own seagull clambering through the waves, the older boy asked, "Can I hold it?"
So her newfound friend passed her off, sliding her from one palm to the next.
The crab skittered across Seokjin's hand, trying to find a comfortable place among his crooked fingers.
He cringed at the tiny feet scraping his skin but held still. Seokjin didn't want to hurt it or his friend.
"Namjoon, it tickles!"
"Yes, but it's worth it. Look how pretty its shell is!"
The thing was a lovely color, a purple so deep it looked black against his fingers. Yet, when the sun hit it, the color lightened into an almost pastel shade.
This tiny crab made Namjoon giddy with happiness, and therefore, it also made his friend happy.
This other boy awarded her with a smile, equally as soft as her Namjoon's.
Seokjin passed it back to the younger boy, watching how gently he handled it. He wished he'd wield a knife that way. Or even himself, for that manner. Then maybe he wouldn't break everything.
Cold seawater doused him from above, the salt burning his eyes and nose.
A boy stood behind Seokjin, a red bucket raised above his head. A smirk graced his face, softening into a full smile as he admired his handiwork.
A poignant silence followed, broken only by the soft laughs of their friend as he scampered away. His bucket lay forgotten in the sand.
His wet clothes slapped against his skin while he ran, diving back into the surf.
Seokjin's face was shocked, but not angry as he gave chase, hellbent on getting some form of retribution. He already thought of plans to provide Jimin with a bucket of ice later that night. Or dump him in the pool.
Namjoon shook his head, still somehow amazed by the maturity displayed by his fellow members. Six years and he still wasn't used to their chaos. Or maybe he was too used to it?
He crouched again, cradling the crab in his hands.
"I'm sorry, pretty one, but I gotta go."
He tilted his head to the side, studying her one last time. His eyes dazzled, intelligence working fast behind those eyes.
The crab stilled, afraid to watch her newfound friend disappear. She'd miss him more than she'd like to admit. They'd only just met, but she'd feel his absence.
Finally, the boy said, "I'll name you Borah. It's purple in Korean, my language, like the color of your shell."
He released her back to the sand, scooting her towards her home with the tips of his fingers.
The boy stood, giving her one last look before running after his friends. He'd need to save Jimin from Seokjin's wrath soon. The boy probably thought to bury him in the sand for all he knew.
"See you soon, Namjoon," the little purple crab thought, before scurrying away into the earth.