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The Love We Reach For

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Jungkook's eyes fluttered open, and he let out a long, deep groan, stretching out his toes until they ached from stretching too hard. He looked up, and saw Seokjin asleep next to him, drooling onto his pillow, snoring softly. The Omega smiled. He wriggled a little in the bed, and it caused Seokjin to snort and stir somewhat, and Jungkook reached out to run a hand through Seokjin's hair in order to gently wake him up with a kiss.


The Alpha quietly opened his eyes and stared at Jungkook for a moment, as though not fully awake or realizing where he was, and then he smiled and pouted his lips with a silent demand for another kiss. Jungkook leaned in, kissing in the sighing sort of way that doesn't mind if one has morning breath or slightly chapped lips from sleeping. When he pulled back, he gave a little smile.


"Morning, Jinnie," he said.


"Mornin'," Seokjin mumbled. He reached out his hand forward underneath the blankets, as though expecting something, and then his knuckles bumped up against Jungkook's flat stomach. "Wait..." Seokjin blinked, half-sitting up in surprise and looking toward the foot of the bed.


Jungkook chuckled again, and then pushed himself up onto his elbows, peering over Seokjin's shoulder. "Behind you."


Seokjin craned his neck over, shuffling his shoulder and arm very carefully. Little Sooyeon was there, fast asleep and having been curled up against her father's back. They could see the black head of hair, with little messy waves to it as they curled around a tiny ear that was visible.


"I wonder why she moves behind me like that?" Seokjin murmured, reaching over and touching her head, as if to reassure himself that she was there for real.


"Probably because it's winter, and your back is a heater," Jungkook stated. "Also, merry Christmas."


"Merry Christmas" Seokjin smiled. He gave Jungkook another kiss, presumably one which was meant to be designated specifically for the holiday well-wishing. "I love you."


"Not as much as you love Sooyeon," Jungkook challenged.


"Shhh..." Seokjin said, placing a finger on Jungkook's lips. "We both know that no love on this earth will compete with the love that Sooyeon holds for her BinBin, so let's not even get into that competition."


"You didn't really answer the question, Jeon-Kim Seokjin," Jungkook frowned. "I guess you don't deserve kisses for the rest of the day now."


"Hey!" Seokjin protested, but Jungkook just rolled away. There was plenty of room on Jungkook’s side of the bed, since both himself and Sooyeon gravitated toward koala-clinging to Seokjin on the Alpha's side of the bed every night. Seokjin reached out after the Omega, making complaints and whining sounds until Sooyeon began to stir behind him. She blinked, eyes puffy and her cheeks pink, as she sat up and looked over at her parents, rubbing at her eye sleepily.


"Daddy? Papa?" Sooyeon said. She was about a year and a half old, and her small and light voice, ever-so-gently whispered into the morning, sent a burst of warmth and energy into Jungkook. Seokjin reached around the toddler and scooped her up onto his chest, holding her close and giving her a bear hug until she protested, smacking lightly at his bare shoulder and sitting up.


"SooSoo, can I have a good-morning kiss?" Jungkook asked, pouting. "Your papa is being mean to me!"


"That's not true!" Seokjin argued. He turned to Sooyeon, who was smiling, a gummy mouth against a happy expression. Her eyes usually looked wide and doe-like as Jungkook's, at least until she smiled. When she smiled, there was so much Seokjin in her face that it made Jungkook's heart stop completely. The thick pouting lips, the soft chin, the transformation of a youthful mirth. "Daddy's the one picking on me . You believe me, right, SooSoo?!"


Sooyeon, unable to decide which of her parents were being serious, decided they both were teasing her, and she giggled, flopping forward to plant a kiss on Seokjin's lips, then leaning over to kiss Jungkook, too, her arms around his neck. She had been so tiny when they had brought her home from the hospital, but now her body had a little weight to it, and she was round and healthy, and full of energy.


But it only was within a few minutes of cuddling that Sooyeon's attention returned to her favorite item - BinBin. She started lifting the edges of the comforter, peering beneath, then leaning over Seokjin.


"Binbin?" she asked. "Binbin?"


"Hold on, sweetie, I'm sure it's here," Seokjin promised. Both of them sat up, instantly beginning a search beneath their butts and off the side of the bed for BinBin. "Oh, here he is." Seokjin reached under his pillow, pulling out the once-sunshine-yellow baby blanket, with its green-stitched edges that looked like grass. It was already starting to fade in hue, and the hemming was frayed, but it still had Sooyeon stitched into it in slightly crooked letters. The fabric was very soft, and almost silken, and Sooyeon adored the baby blanket. They weren't sure how she had gotten bin from trying to say blanket , but it was what it was. At least this way they knew what she meant specifically when she asked for her security blanket. She clung to it now with one hand, tiny fist clinging to the corner with appreciation.


Once she had acquired her first love, she slid off the side of the bed and promptly exited the room, ignoring both Seokjin and Jungkook's questions as to where she was going. Left alone, they both chuckled and cuddled in closer.


"We're gonna have to go after her," Jungkook teased. "She could get lost in this huge house."


"She can follow the sounds of my snores when I go back to sleep," Seokjin reasoned, nuzzling in closer and softly Scenting against Jungkook's neck, breathing in deeply the smell of saltwater there, as it was particularly strong at that moment. "Shhhhh, I'm sleeping now."


"But we gotta go help with the food, and cleaning up, and getting Sooyeon dressed..."


Seokjin groaned in protest, but then he managed to roll up out of the bed. "It seems like half of our life together is us convincing each other we have to get up and stop being lazy ."


"That's peak domesticity for you, slugger." Jungkook sat up in the bed, and Seokjin, who was already reaching for a shirt, stopped and arched an eyebrow at the Omega. "Sorry, I know. I didn't think, I just said it, and it sounded really weird to call you slugger ."


"Damn straight it's weird." Seokjin said. "Sounds like I'm a twelve-year-old boy asking you for life advice."


"We'll never speak of it again, I swear."


"Never speak of what again?" Jungkook looked up, about to explain, when he saw Seokjin shooting him a finger gun and a wink, backing up out of the room. Jungkook rolled his eyes, finally getting out of bed himself.


The room they had now was much, much bigger than the one in their last pack house. There was room for their large bed, room for Sooyeon's little bed (although her preferred sleeping spot was usually between the two of them), and a pile of boxes that still needed to be unpacked, which mostly contained Jungkook's electronics. Eventually, he would get the temptation to play a video game and would have to unpack, but that was a task he had been putting off for months now.


He got dressed and stepped out into a large hallway. The house had once been an old Victorian-inspired home, with high ceilings and jiggly doorknobs with beautiful rusted keys for their locks and enormous rooms that were wide and open. But it had been remodeled once, then twice, and then again before Bangtan Pack moved in as a unit, and filled the giant house with a ridiculous number of boxes and furniture and noise. For weeks, everyone had bruises on their legs and hips from bumping their way around chaotic piles of half-opened boxes, scraping their arms on partially-ripped cardboard flaps and awkward edges. Eventually, things had gotten relatively organized (mostly thanks to Seokjin and Yoongi barking out work orders from the 'command center' of the comfiest couch which the two of them had cleared off and set up as their base of operations) and was now unpacked in most rooms and passably livable in some of the smaller rooms.


There had been two large rooms, presumably once used as a parlor and a dining room once, which had been carpeted during the 80s and then remodeled again to being opened up into one large room, large enough to hold their living room furniture, their entertainment system, a second-hand upright piano, and a large dining room table. The table was of a heavy mahogany, with its warm reddish color and its elaborately-carved legs. One of the main reasons for choosing this table was due to its size, but also its lack of sharp edges, with all round sides and beautiful, smooth finish. There were individual chairs but a large extent of the table was serviced by two long benches which matched. Namjoon probably loved that table more than any article of furniture in the entirety of the new pack house, which was saying a lot. He had found it at an antique shop and had paid a lot of good money to get it refinished. 


The kitchen was long and wide, with plenty of room for multiple people to be shuffling around in it, and enough cabinet space that they could finally reduce their family shopping to half the frequency of before, with lots of snacks and dried goods stored away, and even more in the walk-in pantry. There was a large island in the middle of the kitchen, and even now, Kiara was standing at it as usual, chopping vegetables and humming while her cell phone played a playlist over a cute bluetooth speaker of a sky blue color. Yoongi was stirring a pot on the stove, and Kwangie was sitting quietly with Hoseok at the breakfast nook with a young reader's book, carefully inspecting each page and trying to read it. Kwangie was ahead of most of the kids his age in memorizing his letters and starting to learn very basic words, all of his own volition. Yoongi and Hoseok had taken him to a home improvement store and had him pick out a little bookshelf, all for himself and his quickly growing array of books. Uncle Dongsoo still took him to the library at least every other week, sometimes twice a week, and they would borrow a hefty stack of new reading material together, grunting as they carried the books into the door and piled them on their respective shelves. Contrary to the other pups, Kwangie very rarely ruined any of the library books, and he would sometimes spend a great amount of time rearranging them on his shelf in various orders.


"What's this word?" Kwangie asked, then spelled it out for them. "T-A...S..T-E."


"Taste," answered Hoseok. He was playing on his phone and sitting next to his firstborn, his free hand holding their second son, little Seon-woong. Seon-woong had been born only a few months after Sooyeon, and he differed from his older brother in several ways. For one, he was a very healthy child, and quite chubby, which had surprised both Hoseok and Yoongi. For the first year of Seon-woong's life, Hoseok continually made light-hearted jokes that perhaps Yoongi had cheated on him with a panda bear, and eventually, that had somehow molded to become Seon-woong's nickname - Little Bear. He was also very energetic, and extremely loud, keeping them up often and wanting his brother's particular attention most hours out of the day. Kwangie, however, was usually sweet and good-natured toward the infant, holding him very carefully and talking to him calmly a lot of the time, as long as Kwangie wasn’t grumpy from lack of sleep. Sometimes, Hoseok would go to check in on his Little Bear and would find a considerable amount of saliva splattered across Seon-woong's forehead, and it had taken them a while to figure out that it was due to Kwang-min sneaking in and covering his sleeping baby brother's forehead with slobbery child-kisses.


"Thank you," Kwangie replied very politely, making his father smile. Jungkook leaned in and hooked his chin over Kiara's shoulder, inspecting what she was cutting up.


"Careful, babe," Kiara chuckled. "I've got a very sharp knife here."


Jungkook hummed acknowledgement of the necessary caution, sniffing the air for the various odors of herbs and cooking, and Scenting softly at Kiara's neck to find her comforting aroma of coffee there, making her giggle at the sensation.


He made his way into the main foyer, which had doorways that led to the kitchen, back down the hall to where the living room and his and Seokjin's rooms here (which they had dubbed 'The Blue Room' due to the color of its walls, which looked like the sky), as well as upstairs. He started up to the second floor, curious at the sound of muffled voices up there.


Along the wall leading up the grand spiral staircase that led to the house's large second floor, there were pictures. Dozens and dozens of photographs and drawings lined the walls, most of them in proper frames but many of them just stuck to the wall as they were, for viewing was of more importance than the proper preservation, to some. There were photos of the pups, of the island. A photo of Sooyeon coming home from the hospital, and the joy in Jungkook's eyes, and the messy, red face of Seokjin, who had cried for nearly an hour straight the day she was born, surprising them all with his emotional outburst. There was Namjoon sitting on Kiara's lap as they both enjoyed in the hot tub at the island, and one could see Jimin bringing at least four different kinds of alcohol in his hands, looking down at the ground to watch his step as he walked toward the hot tub. There was a photo that Jae had sent to them by mail, of himself with his sisters at the beach - he looked like an entirely new person nowadays.


Jungkook's personal favorites, other than the cute photos of the kids, were any of the ones in which Dongsoo happened to end up in, whether on purpose or by pure accident of the moment. It warmed his very soul, to see his brother standing awkwardly in the background as Naiara and Kwangie held up a bluegill she had caught, her grinning with a gapped-tooth smile and him with his hands in his pockets. He liked to see Dongsoo smiling in a stiff manner when they took family photos each year, one of the pups often resting on his hip. The photos of him blowing out his candles on over a dozen birthday cupcakes, for when Naiara had heard that Uncle Dongsoo hadn't celebrated his birthday in many years, and she had insisted he had to make up for lost time.


Taehyung had gone back to the Kim blood pack last autumn for Chuseok, and he had taken Jimin with him. They brought back childhood photos of Taehyung, Namjoon, photos Seokjin's parents and many photos of the farm animals and of themselves wandering the countryside. Seokjin and Namjoon had not had any interest in going, but Taehyung had said they had a decent time. Jungkook had decided, especially based on his own limited experiences, that family stuff was always extremely complicated, and very nuanced in ways which were spoken, as well as unspoken.


The first room after reaching the landing was the Stripes Room, which Kwangie had first suggested and then Sooyeon had eagerly agreed, in her excitement, was the perfect name for the room. There had been no arguing with them on the fact that, objectively speaking, there were no stripes on the walls of the Stripes Room. But the name had stuck, nonetheless, so who had truly been the winners that day?


The occupants of the Stripes Room was Hoseok and Yoongi, and the baby crib was kept in there as well. The room right next to it, which was actually a sizable and converted storage room, was Kwangmin's first room of his own, and he had a big boy bed of his own inside. Jungkook peered within both rooms, and found them empty, with toys scattered around the floor. Kwangie had taken to LEGOs very strongly, and Jungkook could see that he had taken his containers of separated and organized pieces out and had set them on his bed for playing with later. The Stripes Room was dark, but hung right within the doorway there was a drawing Kwangie had made, of his two fathers, his younger brother, and himself, and next to it was a small, weathered scrap of paper, where Hoseok had written Yoongi a little poem for one of their anniversaries.


The next set of rooms was Namjoon and Kiara's, also called The Throne Room. Unsurprisingly, Naiara had picked out this name, but only under heavy suggestions from her father, AKA, The Self-Proclaimed King Of The Castle. Since she was the princess, no one could refute her claim to first choice of naming the room. It was a huge bedroom with a fancy bed in the middle of it, and soft carpets. Stepping into The Throne Room often felt like walking into a much fancier house, to Jungkook. There was a vanity with Kiara's makeup and perfume, and it made the room always smell lovely and a little sweet. There was a side room off of theirs that they could only figure must have been intended for a second walk-in closet, and it had been turned into Naiara's room. She had an entire aquarium in there, but set up on a high shelf so that she still had to get help to accomplish her daily feeding of the fish (which Namjoon usually helped her do) and she had a selection of books on animals and children's biology books. The best part of her room, she often declared to Jungkook, was that at night the aquarium lights would glow, and she could watch the fish swimming around while laying in her bed, and she wouldn't be scared of the dark, because the fish were there to keep her company until she fell asleep.


Jungkook peered into both rooms, and quietly called out, "SooSoo? Are you in here?" But no answer came. There were also no giveaway giggles, so Jungkook moved on to the next room.


Jimin and Taehyung had decided that the twins weren't ready for a room of their own yet, so they were still squished into one room altogether. But there was a playroom for them to use during the daytime, which the other pups also played in, and the bedroom they shared was easily twice the size of the one they had been in before. There was even room in there now for Taehyung's desk of art supplies, and sometimes Joonhee would sit at the desk with him and draw while he worked on his art. It was always a special pleasure to see Joonhee draw, because it was something that her singular hand could handle very well, and she put many hours into practicing with Taehyung. Her unique wrist would hold the paper steady on the table as she doodled away, drawing some of the strange animals and specimen from one of Naiara's biology books to amuse herself.


Taeyeon, on the other hand, always had a hard time sitting still. She was the one to terrorize the other pups with her tricycle, to run around screeching because she happened to be a little bored, and wanted the most to play with anything new that was brought into the house. She was in the playroom now, trying to climb on top of one of the plastic children's chairs which had been placed on the drawing table, and it wobbled as she tried to clamber up.


"Taeyeon!" Jungkook chided, making the girl look up in surprise, her knee already tucked up onto the table. "Get down from there, or you'll get hurt."


"Wanna jump," she protested, continuing to keep climbing. Jungkook sighed, walking in and taking the chair down, then scooping Taeyeon into his arms, tossing her up in the air to distract her from the more risky route she was attempting in order to feed her adrenaline needs.


Her bright eyes and darker skin always made Jungkook think of a tiny, more feminine version of Taehyung, and she laughed merrily as her uncle tossed her over and over again. He didn't like to reprimand the children much, so they saw him definitely as the more 'fun uncle,' but it was a title which Jungkook loved very much. Let someone else be the rules lord. They were tiny and cute, and fun to make laugh.


"Okay, Taeyeon, where is SooSoo? Have you seen her?"


"I 'unno," Taeyoon replied, not really interested in the mystery-solving. Jungkook placed the plastic chairs up and out of Taeyeon's reach in the closet, and she protested loudly.


"I gotta go find lil SooSoo, be good now, okay?" Jungkook chided. As he walked out of the playroom, he saw Jimin coming up the stairs, trying to smuggle a couple of juice boxes up to the playroom. When he saw Jungkook, he shoved them suspiciously into his pockets, and gave a smile.


"You've got the goods, huh?" Jungkook chided.


Jimin gave a shrug. "I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm just going to spend some quality time with one of my daughters."


"Mhm," Jungkook smiled. "Just so you know, she was trying to put the chairs onto the tables and, I presume, attempt to leap off of them." 


"Oh shit," Jimin rushed in toward the playroom, and Jungkook chuckled.


"Have you seen SooSoo?" Jungkook queried. 


"She ran off with BinBin a little bit ago." 


"Check the bathroom maybe?" Jimin suggested, calling out to the hallway. "Taeyeon, no, don't climb on that! Now you promised you would be good."


Jungkook stopped walking, listening beyond Jimin's coaxing of his more raucous daughter to hear a quiet, soft voice. It sounded like singing, and it seemed to be coming from the bathroom. He recognized the tune as the lullaby he and Seokjin had come up with to sing Sooyeon to sleep. They had started singing it when they were still pregnant with her.


He knocked on the door, even though it had been left ajar, and he heard Sooyeon's voice. "Busy!"


"Can I come in? It's daddy."


"Sure," Sooyeon said. 


Jungkook poked his head in. She was on the toilet, kicking her little legs to pass her required time in the bathroom, BinBin tossed over to the side. "You doing okay, sweetie?"


"Yeah! I'm fine!" she replied.


"Okay, well when you come out, we have to go get you dressed for the day, alright?" 


"Alright, daddy." Sooyeon waited but a moment, and then resumed her singing, her bright child voice hitting an approximation of the notes, and doing the little sound effects Seokjin sometimes added to the song to make her laugh. 


My sweet! (Ooh!) My sweet Sooyeonnie

We cannot wait to see you

We hope we have enough food to feed you

So (mwah!) kiss, kiss! I love you!


"Almost done?" Jungkook asked after a moment. He could hear her getting up, the running water, and finally her distracted end to the song.


"Mmhm! Done!" Sooyeon opened the bathroom door, and Jungkook did his usual cursory glance about the bathroom to finish up setting things into relative order and flushing the toilet after his daughter before they headed back downstairs.


When they had returned to the Blue Room, Jungkook opened up the closet, where at least twenty different little dresses were hung. "What do you want to wear today, SooSoo?"


"Um, the red flowery one," she declared, standing up and holding out her arms, prepared to be dressed and served.


“Isn’t the red flowery one a little cold, Sooyeon? It’s Christmas, after all.”


They bickered for a bit about the exact dress, and how cold it was outside, and whether or not she should wear leggings or tights with it to keep her legs warm. In the end, he nudged her into wearing some cute white tights with little kittens on them, and they continued with the original dress demand. Once that had been accomplished, it was breakfast time and then reading time, which was done as a collaborative affair. Sooyeon more so looked at her brightly colored picture books while Seokjin, Jungkook, Dongsoo, and little Kwangmin read all sprawled about the living room, but it was a quiet time. They could hear the distant echoes of the twins screeching and playing upstairs in a much more noisy manner, but that was fine by them. Sooyeon curled up in between Dongsoo and Jungkook, holding her book very tenderly as they watched over her.


Afternoon was when they went to help with the cooking, as Jimin was in there taking a turn with Yoongi as they decorated different sweets that had been made up the night before. They were bickering when Jungkook came into the room, Thirty minutes later, and an entire bowl of icing had been emptied out onto the floor, creating a huge mess. Within the blink of an eye, the kitchen was suddenly filled with the wolven forms of Taeyeon, Joonhee, Kwangie, and Naiara as they all rushed around the island, chasing each other and stealing licks of icing from the floor.


"Oh my god," Yoongi sighed. "They're gonna be hyped all afternoon like crazy." 


He was right, of course, but he didn't know quite how long that afternoon would feel, as they chased down the pups and tried to get them into order. Joonhee raced around, rarely tripped up by her unique front paw and panting hard as she excitedly kept up with her playmates.


Was Joonhee different from her peers? In a physical way, yes. Did it get in the way sometimes? Only rarely. And Taehyung had been right in that she would be very good at running around and playing just like the other pups, even though it had certainly taken her quite a bit longer to get the hang of things and to find out her method of maintaining balance. 


In the end, the other kids didn't even have a problem with her particular lack of two hands. They breezed past her difference as though it was almost insignificant, much less important than whether or not she had a favorite color or wanted to play house. It still got Jimin anxious at times, but gradually, his protectiveness was beginning to loosen around the twins just a little bit. 


Evening would be bringing relatives over to enjoy a sort of makeup holiday for the last few holidays missing their company. Kiara's parents, for one, usually stayed a few days anytime they visited, and had a tendency to spoil the pups rotten when they did come, which made them popular. This year they had saved up for a trip to Hawaii, so they wouldn’t be there. Yoongi's parents were a rare sight and were a bit withdrawn, but affectionate in a somewhat rough mannerism. 


The Kim brothers' parents would also be coming this year, although Seokjin and Namjoon were still unsure how that particular scenario would be playing out. Time, it was said, heals all wounds, but life was never simple enough to be all wrapped up nearly inside an oft hypocritical turn of phrase, and the heart tends to hold onto discretions and injuries far more deeply than the skin ever could. Jungkook half-hoped things would go very smoothly, and half-hoped it would be a singularly planned visit and would not become a regularly expected one. He had only met Seokjin's parents a few times, but his father had made it clear that he had an impression that was skeptical at best of Jungkook, as well as the family unit his sons had ended up in. Jungkook wasn't really equipped to deal with upfront and outright rejection, his mind casting about for some kind of optimism or good-humor with which he could cope with the side comments and the way Seokjin's father tried to ignore him and all his attempts at offering the proverbial olive branch, but it did not seem to do much good. 


In the end, though, it didn't really matter. No one could win every battle, and he had Seokjin, and everyone in the pack, and they had Sooyeon. 


Sooyeon was the brightest spark in his day and the sweetest gift. Her laughter as she scrunched her nose up at him, her wide eyes when she begged to be held, sometimes made him want to cry. 


"Daddy," she said, frowning as she scratched at her leg in the itchy tights. "I'm…! I'm…!"


"What is it, bug?" He looked over at her as he sat on the couch, the toddler crawling up to the cushions.


"I'm! I'm thirsty!" she declared, throwing herself onto his chest, knowing without asking that he would easily catch her and draw her into his arms. Sooyeon had bright, wide eyes and impossible pink lips that were plush in a way that made them look as though she was always slightly pouting. Her small hands clutched at Jungkook's shirt in a possessive way, and he smiled as he stood up to go get her some apple juice to drink. While he retrieved the plastic jug, Sooyeon sat on the counter where he had placed her, and kicked her tiny legs, tights-covered feet waving with little wiggly toes. 


He asked her if she was excited to see her grandparents. Her response was nonchalant, at best, but it made him smile, if not a bit sadly. 


There would be a day when Sooyeon would ask why her daddy didn't have parents. There would be a day when he would have to sit down and explain the hardships they had had to face to get where they were now. Maybe he would even tell her about when he had lived on his own, and managed to not only survive, but to cross paths with an Alpha named Kim Namjoon who had the biggest heart in the world, and who had taken him in and given him a whole huge family. 


Sooyeon continued to sit on the counter sipping at her apple juice, while Jungkook drank it straight from the jug with the satisfaction of getting away with a house rule because Sooyeon was too young to know the rule properly. 


Someday, he wanted to tell her all sorts of things. About how she might have the special gene that her daddy had, that would be carried on through the family's Omegas. He would tell her about Jae, and how some people really could turn their lives around after going through a lot of pain.


And because he knew Seokjin would always be too modest at heart to talk about it other than in flippant jokes and keeping things light-hearted, he would probably be the one to tell Sooyeon that her father had gone through years of pain and guilt to become the Alpha he was now, strong and beautiful and flawed. How Seokjin had found Jungkook after his dangerous fall off a cliffside. How Seokjin had grown to always be there for him. How much they had wanted and waited for Sooyeon.


"You know you're not supposed to drink out of the jug," came a voice. Jungkook looked over his shoulder to see Seokjin there, crossing his arms. "And you are encouraging our little climber to climb up onto the counters, you know."


"Like you don't do the same," Jungkook teased, poking at Seokjin's stomach with a painfully jabbing finger. In the next moment, Seokjin let out a deep growl, scooping Jungkook up and sliding the Omega up onto the counter next to his daughter, who giggled at the look of surprise on her daddy's face.


"You look almost as small as she is, when you're up there," Seokjin teased, leaning in to lightly Scent up against Jungkook's neck. It caused a shiver to run up Jungkook's spine, as though it was the first time, and he licked his lips.


"You're a bad influence on SooSoo," he retorted.


" You were the one drinking straight out of the jug and putting her places she doesn't belong," Seokjin growled, wrapping his arms around Jungkook's waist, his hip leaning up gently against Sooyeon's knees to help block her in so she couldn't fall. "I'm the good parent, here."


"You liar," Jungkook smacked Seokjin's shoulder, and then wrapped his arms around the Alpha's neck. "Besides, she's still a baby."


" Too young to be a rebel," Seokjin chided, clucking his tongue in mock dismay. "I'd better put you in time-out, as the perpetrator of this heinous crime."


"I'd like to see you try," Jungkook said as he rolled his eyes. 


As he leaned in for a kiss, Namjoon walked into the room, scoffing at the pair. "God, this is the kitchen , we eat in here. Sooyeon, tell your daddies to go get a room!"


Sooyeon, eager to comply, grinned at them with lips damp from her apple juice and yelled, "Go ge’ a room!"


"You tiny traitor," Seokjin gasped, letting go of Jungkook so he could tickle Sooyeon until she was laughing merrily. He scooped her up in one hand and carried her off down the hall, leaving Jungkook on the counter and Namjoon hunting down a coffee cup.


"Namjoon," Jungkook said into the relative silence following. The Alpha looked over in curiosity, and that made Jungkook hesitate to continue, unsure of how to word what he wanted to say. It was a long and complicated feeling, to talk about those places and people which we come to sincerely call 'home,' and be wasn't sure how best to bring that up except out of the blue.


"Thank you," he finally said. "For everything. For bringing me home, and always looking out for me."


Namjoon smiled, that crinkle in his eyes and the way his dimples appeared on round cheeks a part of the many things that made Namjoon such a warm soul. "Thank you for coming home with me, Jungkook. Without you, there is no Bangtan Pack, after all."


Jungkook snorted at that, thinking Namjoon was being funny, but instead, the Lead Alpha just looked at him quite soberly over his coffee cup that said Best Librarian Dad on it.


"What do you mean?" Jungkook asked.


"I'd thought of starting my own pack before, of course," Namjoon shrugged. "But bringing you home had its challenges, of course. I wasn't sure what you needed to make you feel comfortable enough to come out from under that table, you know? But because you were here, I wanted to find out - we all did. So in finding out how to better make you feel at home, how to help you grow up well, we all learned a lot about ourselves, and we all got closer, too. You're our first pup, in many ways, Jungkook. A golden one at that.  So Bangtan Pack solidified itself because of you."


Jungkook felt his throat beginning to ache with emotion, tears forming a little in the corners of his eyes in the gentle way bliss has of grabbing a hold of your feelings. He nodded, and wrung his hands a little in his lap. 


"I'm glad we could do the same for Dongsoo," he said quietly. 


"We're all glad. It definitely was good for Jimin to have someone to hang out with a little more, he needed that after the twins were born."


Jungkook nodded. He pushed himself off the counter, giving Namjoon a side hug and a gentle, familial Scenting as he passed, breathing in the smell of woodfire smoke and lingering for more than a moment on the familiar feeling of comfort it gave him. 


In the living room, a bunch of talking and noises began to erupt, so Jungkook stepped down the hall to find that Yooni’s parents and the Kim parents had arrived, and were exclaiming about how big each of the pups were. Jungkook moved to stand at Seokjin's side, tempted to lean his chin on that broad, dependable shoulder, but instead opting for holding his hand, a small smile on his face as they went through greetings. 


A lot had happened since Seokjin's father had disowned him after the Alpha had turned down his inheritance (which had come with conditions). They had had a baby, for one, and they had moved into a much bigger house. They had had their a scary ER trip when Yoongi had fallen off a ladder, which had turned out to be a twisted ankle that luckily hadn’t been broken. Namjoon had gone back to school to get his master's. Yoongi had become an independent contractor for remodeling homes, allowing him to be at his home much more often. There was much to share, he supposed, if there was actual interest in their lives.


As Seokjin was awkwardly exchanging niceties, Sooyeon was sitting on the floor with Kwangie, as the two of them were quite carefully piling up some of Kwangie's LEGOs in that way Kwangie loved to make piles. When they were done and Kwangie declared that their pile was perfect, Sooyeon beamed in happiness. This, apparently, was praise enough that she shifted forward, wrapping her arms around Kwangie and planting a sloppy kiss on his cheek. 


"Mwah!" she exclaimed, imitating the sound her parents made whenever they kissed her. 


Naiara, who had been sitting nearby and watching this exchange, stood up abruptly, dropping her favorite book to the ground with a clatter. "Excuse you!" Naiara declared, stomping her way to Sooyeon's side. "Kwangie is my best friend! Not yours! Go home, SooSoo!"


And with that, she started to push at tiny Sooyeon, the confused toddler nearly tumbling over as Naiara tried to hide her beneath the blanket curtains on Jungkook's table, which had found its new home in the corner of the living room. When Sooyeon was securely inside, Naiara stood tall, placing her hands on her hips and looking quite satisfied. 


"Stop that!" Kwangie snapped, crawling past Naiara and ducking his head, clambering underneath the table where Sooyeon was beginning to cry. "There, there, sweetpea," Kwangie reassured. "Don't cry. I wanna play with you."


Jungkook could hear Sooyeon's little hiccups as she tried her best not to cry, and when he leaned down to lift the edge of the blanket up and look inside, he saw Kwangie cradling Sooyeon in his arms, kissing the top of her head. Jungkook merely looked over to the side, sending Naiara a look. The young girl's face was entirely red, tears already streaming down her cheeks, her bottom lip out in a trembling pout. 


“Nai, you really hurt Sooyeon’s feelings,” Jungkook said diplomatically. “You can both be Kwangie’s best friend, you know.”


"I'm sorry, SooSoo!" she cried out, throwing herself down under the table and joining in on the hugs and kisses. She pulled Sooyeon into her lap, causing the toddler to hiccup harder and to protest the uncomfortable shifting around with a cry. Jungkook dropped the blanket, standing up to his full height and looking over at Seokjin, who was looking over with an amused look while Hoseok took a turn doing the small talk.


"She's a popular one," Seokjin commented as Jungkook came back to his side.


The Omega gave a sigh. "She's definitely your daughter with how much drama she causes."


"No, she's yours, clearly, just look at how she uses those doe eyes to her advantage at every opportunity, usually to coerce out excessive amounts of cuddles."


Jungkook paused for a moment, and then shrugged his shoulders. "You got me, there."


While the other adults were distracted, Seokjin took the opportunity to reach over and pinch Jungkook's ass, causing the petulant Omega to jump and barely bite back a noise of surprise. He glared at Seokjin, who ignored the look in favor of calling over Sooyeon. 


"Do you wanna meet your grandfather and grandmother, SooSoo?"


The toddler, her face still wet from crying and snot, her carefully-formed curls now all disheveled, wiped at her cheek with the skirt of her dress and blinked up at these two newcomers. "I know my grandpa already. He’s fat."


Seokjin nearly choked on his air, as Yoongi's father started to laugh aloud at the joke that was at his own expense.


"Sooyeon, sweetie. These are your other grandparents. They're Papa's parents."


This, apparently, was not in the least bit of interest to Sooyeon, who tried immediately to return to her playing. Seokjin gave a bit of a nervous laugh, turning toward his father, and said, "Heh… kids."


The man said nothing, looking at Sooyeon intently for a long moment. Jungkook didn't know what the man wanted from them, and at the unreadable expression, Jungkook felt a stirring of protectiveness in his chest. Seokjin's father was handsome, broad-shouldered and steely-eyed, and he watched Sooyeon playing with her toys for a long moment before he finally said, "It's fine. Let her play."


Jungkook quietly breathed a sigh of relief, and he allowed himself to go sit down on the couch. Almost immediately, Sooyeon moved her toy truck and tiny Elsa doll with her to go sit on his lap, very quietly playing and inspecting the toys from every angle. She remained well-behaved while they all sat around the large living room and talked about the new house, which apparently Seokjin's father was quite impressed with. Namjoon excitedly talked about the ballasts or the crown molding or something like that which Jungkook didn't care too much about, and Yoongi quietly corrected him as he went on about the history of the house and its making and subsequent remodels.


His father said very little, mostly giving a cautious commentary here or there. By the way he sat, Jungkook could sense that he was an extremely proud man. There was something about the lay of his shoulders that reminded him of how Seokjin usually sat, even if he was just lounging and watching television.


Jungkook bounced Sooyeon a little in his lap, and she continued to play, her small hands and gentle play a silent form of encouragement to him in the midst of an awkward situation. It was comforting, to have her right there and enjoying being close to him, and it was reassuring to have something to focus on while the conversation felt so strained and awkward.


Soon enough, the rest of the family filtered in, and the large living room was finally being filled properly. Kiara handed out cookies for everyone to enjoy, and most of the pups filtered underneath Jungkook's table to eat them, as though they were gremlins returning to their cave with plunder. To Jungkook's surprise, Sooyeon remained in his lap, spilling crumbs all over both of them as she nibbled, quite content by the situation.


With the pups preoccupied, Jimin and Taeyhung started up some table games, and most of the family joined in, with Kiara, Jungkook, and Yoongi more as the outliers for their part. Jungkook usually would have been completely in on anything competitive, but he honestly didn't want to disturb Sooyeon's time with him, so instead, he decided to watch passively.


The Christmas tree glowed, and Jungkook knew that life was never quite 'perfect' in the sense that everything went exactly as planned, but he felt as though things were right , or rather, how they were supposed to be, in that moment in time. They weren't holding their breath for Seokjin's father to come around and actually be properly involved in their lives, but they had today, and they were all doing their best to get along. The pups were healthy, and they were together. He kissed the top of Sooyeon's head, feeling the silkiness of her baby hair against his lips, and he looked up to meet Seokjin's eyes, and they both shared a knowing smile.


They were all playing at cards for awhile, with the level of energy fluctuating from time to time from extremely high to almost somber. Jimin, whether winning or losing, was quite loud at the end of every round, until Taehyung started mocking him by imitating his sounds, and making Jimin nearly fall out of his chair in soundless laughter.


Dongsoo won the most games, a crooked grin on his face indicative of his more reserved mirth, and Jimin half-fell against him, shouting out about him being the dark horse of the group.


Jungkook looked around the room at all the faces of his family, both close and far. Dongsoo, smiling as Jimin slapped his arm in an encouraging way. Taehyung at the other side, staring down intently at his cards as he silently adjusted his strategy like his mind was a chessboard. Seokjin there, laughing as he chewed on some sort of snack that had been laid out somewhere on the table. At his side was Kiara, who was knitting as she watched the others play now, and then Namjoon, who was searching on his phone for a clarification of one of the rules, looking baffled.


Hoseok was sitting in Yoongi's lap, since they had run out of seats around end of the table, but that was fine by him. Technically, Hoseok and Yoongi were playing as one person, a partnership for one hand of cards, and all it took was Hoseok showing his cards once to Yoongi, the two of them exchanging a look, and then a nod, and Hoseok seemed to know exactly what to play.


And Seokjin's parents at the head of the long, enormous, beautiful table, and Yoongi's parents next to them. The table had sort of made him nervous, at first, but now they could house themselves around it in quite a snug and easy manner most days. It was nice, to feel like even though everything had grown and expanded, and was continuing to do so, that there was now plenty of room for everyone.


Sooyeon leaned up against his shoulder, her eyes looking particularly droopy as she fidgeted with the hem of her cute little dress. Jungkook took this as a symbol of her naptime, and he stood up from his seat, lifting her easily and carrying her off toward their bedroom. Seokjin spotted him, glancing over toward the two of them.


The hallway to their room was fairly quiet, and the bedroom itself was appropriately dim and calming. Sooyeon was already resting her head against his shoulder, surprisingly worn out from her play. She fussed a few times, and demanded her BinBin, which she held clutched in her fist and bunched up beneath her chest when she returned to her previous position laying against him.


"Shhhh..." he soothed, bouncing her a little as he walked back and forth across the room, hoping to get her to take a nap. "Shh...Shh..." He started to hum quietly, a tune that he didn't remember the name of until halfway through, and Sooyeon was by then already drifting off to sleep.


The door creaked open just slightly, and Jungkook looked up to see the familiar shape of Seokjin slipping into the room. He sent the two of them a smile, being careful to close the door as silently as he possibly could as he did so.


"Hey, how's it going?" he asked in a whisper.


"She's almost asleep," Jungkook said, continuing to bounce her, if a bit lighter now, as he could tell from the weight in his arms that she was truly starting to descend into dreamworld. "She played hard today."


"Yeah, she did." Seokjin smiled, reaching down with long, bended fingers to ever-so-gently brush his knuckles against the soft toddler's head. "She's so beautiful."


Jungkook smiled. Even after all this time, when the crinkles in Seokjin's eyes when he smiled went a little bit deeper, when Jungkook's body felt tired more easily than it would have four or five years ago, it still felt like some moments, like this one they were inhabiting, coexisted onto a different plane of existence. Moments like this felt like a blast of refreshing air right into their faces, but yet warm and comforting.


"And she's all ours," Jungkook said with a smile. "It still all feels like a dream."


'Mmm..." Seokjin leaned in and kissed Jungkook for a moment, feeling as solid and as reassuring as he had ever been for Jungkook. "And soon we'll be on the road for our first vacation trip as a mini-family unit. You think she'll remember going camping with her dads for the first time?"


"With the way you screech when you see a bug, most likely she will," Jungkook whispered back, causing them to give a deep chuckle each. Jungkook gave it a few more moments, and then he went and laid Sooyeon down on the mattress, the two of them padding her in with a couple of pillows just in case she rolled in her sleep and tucking BinBin against her side. Seokjin covered her with a blanket, and they both chanced a kiss, fearful that she would wake up if they disturbed her any longer.


When they both stood back, Jungkook crossed his arms, hugging himself tightly. Seokjin moved in, naturally wrapping his arms around Jungkook and getting a clinging embrace in return as well.


"What's up?" Seokjin murmured, risking a deeper tone now that Sooyeon was settled.


"Nothing, it's just..." The Omega gave a shrug, unsure how to verbalize his sudden wash of feelings. "I think it's all been worth it, in the end. But it still feels a bit bittersweet, somehow."


"You don't move anywhere without losing something. Whether it's time, energy, resources, people..." Seokjin murmured. "But I think that's just the way life works sometimes."


"Yeah." Jungkook looked up and smiled at his Mate, breathing in a thick gulp of air tinged with Seokjin's refreshing Scent, and he sighed. "I'm looking forward to camping with just the three of us for once, and I'm looking forward to teaching her how to fish, and building a fire, and just… being together for a bit."


"She's going to beat out Naiara for best fisherchild, I swear it,"  the Alpha pumped his fist a bit, satisfied with the upcoming challenge. "Also, I think I'm ready for more Jeon-Kim adventures, you know? Not just the normal , everyday adventures of changing diapers. We should get moving around, see some things, try some new shit."


"Kinky," Jungkook retorted automatically. "But also, the same for me."


"Don't you know it," Seokjin teased, leaning in to sensually kiss along the curve of Jungkook's neck. "And I'm going to enjoy as much disgusting PDA with my Mate as I wish, and no one will be around to fight me on it, except SooSoo. And I'm pretty sure I could take her."


Jungkook chuckled. The two of them then turned toward the long wooden shelf built into the wall of their room, where a thick candle lay in wait. Without a word, they walked over as one unit, and Jungkook held out the lighter as Seokjin tilted the candle, lighting it. Now illuminated, they could more clearly see the framed photo of Chanseol's ultrasound, their firstborn son.


"Merry Christmas, Chanseol," Seokjin said quietly.


"Merry Christmas," Jungkook echoed. The candle and the photo remained there at all times, and had been one of the first things they had placed in their new room. When Sooyeon was around, she would often call out, asking to help light the candle for her older brother, and they would sit and watch the flame flicker, and they would think of him together.


Eventually, though, whatever pains in the past, whatever hardships won, there was a hopefulness of a better day that hung ahead, tempting them to continue onward. It was the love to which they reached toward, a future which could carry with it mementos of the past without too many of its heavy burdens. Remembering was okay; lingering was dark. And so they left a light on for Chanseol's memory.


After a time, they blew out the candle and left Sooyeon in the room to sleep, and they went out to join the others in their celebrating. Joonhee was showing her drawings off to Seokjin's father, proudly holding up a particularly hard-earned image of the cabin at the island. Hoseok looked over in their direction, smiling and waving them in.


"We're telling embarrassing childhood Christmas stories," Hoseok laughed. "And we need some more material."


"Oh, I don't think I have anything," Jungkook shrugged, sitting down between Seokjin's legs as the Alpha made himself comfortable on the long couch.


"Think again, Dongsoo has been spilling some on your behalf," crowed a flushed-face Yoongi, who had already dipped into his own glass of 'holiday cheer' with fervor.


"Oh god," Jungkook laughed, looking a bit embarrassed but feeling along with it a rush of gratefulness. Dongsoo was laughing, making a strange and vague hand gesture to Taehyung, who snorted with amusement at some inside joke he had shared with them at Jungkook's expense.


Seokjin was smiling, and he was pulling Jungkook in closer to him. The Christmas tree twinkled in the corner of the room, already decorated below with brightly wrapped presents. The kitchen emanated delicious smells of a bounty they had all chipped in on and created some part of, and Jungkook leaned back into Seokjin's hold with a feeling that could only be very insufficiently described as bliss .


He looked up over his shoulder, and the Alpha wasn't even looking down at him, but he could sense Jungkook's eyes. He ran a hand across Jungkook's shoulder, comforting him as they settled into the conversation properly. Seokjin's warm laughter rang through the living room, and Jungkook could feel his chest vibrating against his own back with delight.


And Jungkook knew, down the very chemical makeup of his being, that he was loved, and that he was home to stay.