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The Love We Reach For

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Warmth. That was the sensation of slowly waking up, feeling the heat of arms around him, a broad torso against his back. Jungkook blearily opened his eyes, a line of light across his vision. It was the artificial horizon-line, the gap between the cloth tacked to the underside of the table like a curtain and the cold tiled kitchen floor. Jungkook sighed, shifting his feet a little underneath the blankets, wriggling his toes. A soft foot brushed up against his ankle, and then the sharp side of a toenail.

 

Jungkook fumbled blindly above his shoulder, flailing around until his hand found the cell phone plugged into its charger. He checked the time. He groaned. He needed to get up soon.

 

Gently, he started to shift onto his side, and instantly felt the arms around his waist tighten in, clutching him forcefully. A mouth pressed to his neck, hot morning breath against his skin.

 

“Don’t go,” came the muffled little mumble. Jungkook smirked.

 

“I have work, dummy.”

 

“Shut up, twerp.”

 

“Fuck you,” Jungkook teased back quietly. The Omega wriggled around in Seokjin’s hold, pressing a pluckish peck against the round little nose. “I can't be late again.”

 

“Five more minutes. Your alarm hasn't even gone off.” Seokjin whined, leaning in to bury his face underneath Jungkook’s chin, nuzzling in at his collar and periodically giving a kiss to his Scent mark. The raised patch of skin would eternally smell like a mix of their two Scents: soap, leather and saltwater. “And you're warm.”

“And you're spoiled. Let me go, Jin.” Jungkook batted at Seokjin’s arm, making the Alpha pout.

 

“That's the pot calling the kettle black.”

 

“Oh, shut up, you.” Jungkook chuckled. He really didn't want to get up either, though, so he took the excuse and let them fall into silence, his arms tucking around Seokjin’s trim waist. His eyes closed and he let out a sigh, enjoying the comfort of their little makeshift hideaway underneath the dining room table. Photographs of them and their pack made up their “ceiling,” scenes of days at their hunting grounds, scenes of large homemade meals, of birthdays they’d had in the last year. The two of them were curled together on a little futon mattress, thin and small and just a little too big to fit within the perimeter of the table, so two of the edges were folded up and squished between the wooden legs. Piles of pillows and blankets were arranged around them in a domestic little nest. This was home.

 

Jungkook was mere seconds away from dozing off again in Seokjin’s embrace, when suddenly there was a tiny, chubby hand pulling the curtain aside, and a round face appeared with a delicate and pure gasp that was unparalleled.

 

“Uncle Jinnie! Uncle Kookie!?” Naiara asked, her eyes wide. Jungkook opened one eye as Seokjin groaned at his side. The two year old was nothing if not impetuous. “Wake up!”

 

“Nai, we're trying to sleep,” Seokjin moaned sleepily, his voice straining for patience. “So please be quiet.”

 

Naiara stared at her uncles for a moment, considering, and then pouted. Jungkook knew it was only a matter of time. True to form, a second later the tiny girl had leapt underneath the table, throwing herself across the two of them and making them grunt, her dark curls bouncing across her forehead.

 

“Gah!” she exclaimed.

 

“Ah, jeez,” Seokjin rolled his eyes, his hand falling to drape across her tiny back. Jungkook laughed. The toddler giggled, wriggling her little bottom around and kicking her feet. Tiny toes with surprisingly sharp toenails dug into Jungkook’s thigh as she clambered until she was laying on top of Jungkook’s stomach and chest, her head just below his chin. She smiled up at him, the bright green eyes she had inherited from her mother sparkling with mirth and playfulness. She was fresh-faced and chubby-cheeked, soft lips and an indignant and spoiled determination rested on her intelligent brow. Naiara was the pack’s little princess, and she was more than well aware of it. The endearing Scent of coconut wafted down, wrapping around Jungkook and tinged with the aura of a happy child.

 

“Uncle Kookie,” she said, leaning in and kissing him, sloppy child drool smearing across his lips and the side of his cheek. “Let’s play.”

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes, taking on a deep, accented voice in that bossy, film noir detective imitation that he knew she liked.

 

“Yer cute, kid,” he said, talking as if he had a cigar in one corner of his mouth. Naiara started to giggle, her eyes crinkling  as she grinned. “But not that cute, see?”

 

“Kookie!”

 

“Yeah, kiddo?”

 

She reached out, sticking her finger into the empty corner of his mouth where the invisible cigar should go, and giggled when he licked at her fingertip, laughing and reaching up to tickle her sides.

 

Meanwhile, they were joined by another tiny person, this time, little Kwangie, with his small, angular eyes and his seemingly constant expression of surprise and concern. He wasn't wearing pants, his dimpled knees and rounded legs laid bare as he wore only a stained and crooked yellow T-shirt and a diaper. He was only a few months younger than Naiara, but Kwangie seemed much more timid, much more careful about his movements. He hadn't started to talk as much as Naiara had at his age, which had caused them some concern. But, as Jimin had reassured them from his research, it was common for young boys to learn to speak slower than girls, so they had collectively decided to let him talk in his own time.

 

“Hey, buddy,” Seokjin said, his hand reaching out and automatically wrapping around the boy’s waist, tugging him a little closer. Kwangie stared at Seokjin, then looked over at Naiara as she wriggled and screamed at being teased by Jungkook. “Did you come to play, too?”

 

Kwangie, in lieu of any nod or verbal affirmation, just stumbled a little closer to Seokjin, quiet. He had a runny nose again, and he sniffed hard as he contemplated the playing wolves on the other side of the nest area.

 

Then, suddenly, he seemed to tire of being left out, and abruptly cried out with a loud and nasal, “NAI-NAI!”

 

Naiara, still giggling from being tickled, ignored him. Kwangie frowned, stomping his foot and calling her again. Seokjin was left feeling the now-too-familiar warmth of a mix between concern and humor. Kwangie was a little bit possessive of his playmate, always getting jealous of any time she paid attention to someone else and left him feeling neglected. Naiara was typically the leader of their adventures, the younger boy content to follow her around and do as she wished, with very little complaint, all things considered for their age and the accompanying petulance that comes with infantile egoism. But every once in awhile, Kwangie wanted his way, and he would let anyone within earshot know quite clearly his demands.

 

“Kwangie, she's playing with Uncle Kookie right now,” Seokjin reassured, massaging at the tiny back in hopes of garnering a little extra patience. “So just wait a minute, or you can come in to play with them?”

 

“No!” Kwangie shouted, his bottom lip protruding, brow becoming furrowed. It was an expression that brought out the unique little blend in his face of Yoongi and Hoseok’s features, and made Seokjin smile a little. “Nai-nai!”

 

“What?!” she snapped back, looking up from her play with Jungkook. Kwangie, not sure what words he needed to convey his strength of feeling, just stomped his foot twice more.

 

“Someone’s jealous,” Seokjin chuckled, reaching over and scooping Kwangie in his arms, plopping the child down on his chest. The tiny, dimpled, and chubby legs dangled off the sides of his stomach, the boy’s hair brushing up against the underside of the table. Kwangie was kind of fussy in the mornings, but he would definitely get tired by the afternoon and would awake from a nap quite refreshed and playful. Seokjin reached up, nudging his fingers into Kwangie’s armpits and tickling through the stained and sticky yellow fabric of the T-shirt. Kwangie squealed, tilting his head to the side and coiling up his arms against his chest in a weak attempt at defense, tiny mouth agape as he shrieked with laughter. Seokjin liked Kwangie a lot. They seemed to get along, and Seokjin had been one of the ones who could get him to calm down the most, when he had been a fussy newborn.

 

“Give me kisses?” Seokjin encouraged, puffing up his lips. The baby was distracted, trying to wriggle away and over toward Naiara. “Kwangie, can you give me kisses?”

 

The boy smiled, eyes crinkled with mirth as he flopped down and mostly fell onto Seokjin’s mouth, rather than properly kissing him. But it was appreciated, just the same. Seokjin chuckled, and Kwangie sat up, waving his arms a little. Seokjin tugged the boy back down so that he could embrace him against his chest, the lovely Scent of new books hovering around the child.

 

“Thank you, Kwangie.”

 

“Kwangie!” Naiara called out, her best attempt at saying his name sounding a lot closer to Wann’ie than Kwangie .

 

“Naiara, stop picking on your uncles when they’re trying to sleep.” Kiara’s voice rang down soft and warm from where she paced across the kitchen floor, bending down to peer underneath the table. Instinctively, Naiara rolled over, attempting to hide on the far side of Jungkook and use him as a shield from her mother’s eyes. “Nai-nai…” came the gently chiding tone. “Come on. Come help me cook breakfast for daddy.”

 

Naiara’s curly head popped up abruptly, her eyes wide as she dropped open her mouth in surprise and anticipation. “Bre’fas’!”

 

“Yes, breakfast for daddy. Now come on out and help me.”

 

Without remorse, Naiara clambered roughly over Jungkook’s stomach and then Seokjin’s legs, making them grunt as her small feet dug painfully into soft flesh. Kwangie stared after Naiara for a moment as she disappeared beyond the little playhouse of the nest, and then he rolled out of his own accord, silently following after her. Seokjin let him go, chuckling a little as the two energetic toddlers quickly became Kiara’s problem to keep an eye on.

 

Seokjin groaned and rolled over onto his side to face Jungkook, both of them still nursing the temporary bruises on their body that came with having pups in the house. The feeling drifted in again, the worry that settled into Jungkook’s bones as he watched Seokjin close his eyes, lips still curled into a smile as he half-heartedly attempted to reclaim the former tranquility they had been enjoying before the interruption.

 

Jungkook’s hand went to his stomach, resting low there for a moment.

 

“I don’t wanna get up,” Seokjin moaned, his eyes still shut, and therefore not seeing the forlorn and worried look Jungkook was sending his way. The Omega took in a shallow breath, leaning in to cup Seokjin’s cheek, fingertips curled around the jaw as he leaned in, pressing a lingering and delicate kiss to Seokjin’s mouth. Seokjin hummed into the gesture quite happily, letting Jungkook set the lazy and familiar pace. By the time he drew away and the beautiful eyes opened, sparkling with amusement, Jungkook had recovered enough to wipe away the mournful expression.

 

“Okay, you’ve convinced me, you tease,” laughed Seokjin. He pushed at Jungkook’s shoulder roughly, as if in impatience. “God, get up , you’re gonna be late again! Why are you still lazing around for?”

 

Jungkook huffed, letting himself roll over Seokjin, even planting in an elbow in the Alpha’s stomach just to make sure he knew he was a pain in the ass, and then Jungkook was clambering out from underneath the table. The smell of eggs and bacon wafted towards him, and Kiara smiled at him from over by the stove.

 

“Morning, sunshine,” she said. “You have time to eat before you go?”

“Probably,” Jungkook said. The answer was ‘probably’ because Jungkook was ravenous, and he could go a bit faster on his bike in exchange for nourishment before beginning his day. He swept up behind her, hugging her from behind and burying his nose in her red curly hair, her Scent of fresh coffee encompassing him. She giggled, reaching up to pat him on the head affectionately.

 

“I need you to pick up more milk,” Kiara said, in that tone that was so gentle and yet firm, a voice of Omega authority and self-assuredness. “Also you might want to get Taehyung a treat of some kind. He’s been having a real time of it.”

 

“Well, having pups is tough,” Jungkook said, his voice low and his lips laid against the fabric on her shoulder, the movement of his jaw jolting his head in little jerking movements as he spoke. He barely withheld a sigh of impatience and - he would admit it to himself but not aloud - jealousy. “But he seems happy. You know, overall.”

“Of course he’s happy. Tae always wanted pups,” Kiara said. Behind them, Seokjin was crawling out from beneath the table, his posture weird as he rubbed at his sore back, one arm behind him and out of Jungkook’s sight.

 

“Jeez, that floor never gets more comfortable,” Seokjin complained. Jungkook rolled his eyes at him, still hugging onto Kiara. When Jungkook turned back to watch Kiara scrambling the eggs, Seokjin smirked, slipping out quietly with the small package hidden behind his back.

 

Meanwhile, Naiara was wriggling and weaving around her mother’s legs, hiding behind and tugging on them as if she was running through a very limited forest. Kwangie was following behind her, on shakier legs but very determined to play with Naiara and keep up with the older pup.

 

Kiara laid out a plate of eggs and bacon for Jungkook, who took it and slid over to the table. Instantly, Kwangie was throwing himself into Jungkook’s knee, tiny hands wrapped around the thigh and looking hopefully up at the source of the delicious smells.

 

“Gugu!” Kwangie shouted. “Gugu!” He tried his best to say his uncle’s name, but that was as close as he could manage. Jungkook chuckled.

 

“Yes?” he asked. Kwangie frowned, tugging on Jungkook’s pants and shrieking in impatience. Still laughing, Jungkook gave him a bite of eggs, the little boy reaching up and taking a clumsy hold of the fork, his thin and angular, pink little lips spreading wide to wrap around the prongs as Jungkook held it carefully.

 

Kiara was setting Naiara up in her special seat at the table, the toddler being very clean and particular about how the dishes were set in front of her. As Kwangie hummed happily at the snack, Kiara glanced over.

 

“Are you doing alright, Kookie?”

 

“Hmm?” Jungkook asked, looking over at the Omega with a bit of confusion.

 

“With you and Seokjin. And the pups,” she said gently. “You've been trying for a while.”

 

Jungkook averted his eyes, watching Kwangie  toddle across the kitchen, screaming for his NaiNai already. “Yeah. I’m starting to get a little worried, too. But there should have been signs, right? If something was...you know. Wrong, or something?”

 

In response, Kiara just gave a bit if a shrug. “You never know. But I’m sure it must be frustrating for you, especially surrounded by the babies all the time.” She reached down, her hand brushing through Naiara’s curls.

 

“No, I love the pups,” Jungkook spoke in a gentle sort of murmur. “I’m glad I get to help take care of them.” He knelt down to Kwangie’s level, the boy pup looking up at him with pretty, angular eyes like his Omega father. Jungkook smiled, a little sadly, and leaned in to kiss Kwangie’s forehead as the toddler stumbled past.

 

Would their pups have his eyes, or Seokjin’s? Would they inherit his own guffawing laughter or the wheezing, high-pitched giggles of his Alpha? He had no way to know, and a dark, nauseated pit in the depths of his stomach whispered to him with increasing frequency that it was possible, quite possible, that he would never know.

 

Jungkook felt sick. And just wanted to go back to bed.

 

“I gotta go to work,” Jungkook said.

 

“Gugu!” Kwangie called out, flopping his little hand back and forth in some semblance of a wave.”Bye-bye.”

 

“Bye-bye, Kwangie, bye-bye Nai-nai,” Jungkook said with a smile, waving at the two of them before dropping his dishes in the sink and leaving.

 

Meanwhile, in the garage, Hoseok was getting an earful from one Park Jimin.

 

The elder of the two Alphas was knelt down next to Yoongi’s new car - an old blue 1969 Pontiac Firebird that they had found for a good price and that Yoongi had fallen absolutely in love with. Naturally, he had used his cute smile and perhaps a few sexual favors, and gotten his Mate to promise to fix it up for him. Just a few tune-ups, he had said. Hoseok scoffed at that notion now. The car had not been taken care of nearly as well as he had hoped, and it was costing almost as much in new parts as it had cost for the whole vehicle when they’d bought it from Kihyun’s grandparents.

 

Jimin, meanwhile, was hovering as Hoseok replaced the brake pads on the Firebird, and was venting about his Beta Mate being difficult that morning.

 

“He just does what he likes, he’s impossible!” Jimin seethed, pacing back and forth across the littered garage floor, narrowly avoiding the very specific assortment of wrenches, rags, and brake parts scattered. “It’s not like I always want my own way, but seriously, he needs to be a little more self-aware!”

 

“I can see how that would be frustrating,” Hoseok said, listening but more focused on the brake pads, in all honesty. “But you’ve got to communicate that with him . I also think we have to give Tae a little bit of extra room. The pups have been taking it out of him lately, you know.”

“I know,” Jimin sighed. “What with the stuff with Joonhee, and him having to stop breastfeeding… it’s all been kind of crazy lately.”

 

“Yeah, and Tae really wanted to breastfeed,” Hoseok hummed, thinking back. Taehyung, being a Beta who had adjusted hormonally to be Jimin’s Omega, had specifically plumped himself up as much as possible during the pregnancy. Even still, as soon as they came home from the hospital, Taehyung’s weight had dropped significantly. Only a couple of months in, and he was skinnier than when Jimin had met him, gaunt and exhausted from the midnight feedings where his body just didn’t have enough in him to provide. The decision had been a serious, and sad one.

 

“I understand that. But getting angry at me because of it doesn’t get us anywhere, you know? I just think he needs to remember sometimes that I’m his Mate, too.”

 

“Well, it’s been awhile since you two had some time alone together, what with being new parents,” Hoseok commented. “Maybe you could ask Jungkook to babysit for a night and take Taehyung out to dinner or something, reconnect?”

 

“Yeah…” Jimin’s shoulders dropped, as he considered. “Maybe...maybe that’s what we need.”

 

“Pregnant Omegas don’t get their heats, but they can still get lonely and hormonal.” Hoseok laughed. “Ask me how I know.”

 

“I don’t remember Yoongi being so grumpy when he was pregnant with Kwangie,” Jimin frowned.

 

“Or you just didn’t notice it.” Hoseok chuckled, shaking his head. The door to the garage opened, and Taehyung was standing there, eyes wide and a frown deeply present on his face. He was, somehow, just as beautiful as when Jimin had first met him, with minor differences. The pregnancy had given him a glow but also drained his body. At least now his cheeks had gotten round and supple again, his warm golden skin seeming to glow, now that his body was taking less of a strain. In his arms, he held their infant daughter, Taeyeon. At first, Jimin had laughed at the notion of naming their child after her father, but Taehyung had been quite set on it. Girl or not, he said, Alpha, Omega, or Beta, their child would bear his name, his legacy. As dramatic as Taehyung had been (as per usual), he had Jimin’s unfailing adoration, so he had agreed.

 

“Hey,” Taehyung said quietly, holding onto the baby and clutching her closely to his chest. She had round cheeks and Jimin’s eyes. Just recently she had started smiling more, so they could see the way her eyes crinkled up into an adorable and innocent eyes smile. But right now, she was sleeping soundly. “Are you busy right now? I need some help, since my hands are full.”

 

“Absolutely,” Jimin said, stepping back up into the house. He followed Taehyung, and Hoseok smiled, returning to his very infuriating car tune-up.

 

“What’s wrong?” Jimin asked, as Taehyung led them back into their shared room. Taehyung had very quickly moved in with Jimin, once things had settled in at home into a normal pace, but it was difficult enough to fit two adults in a tiny room meant for one person, much less a family unit. There were piles of baby bottles, notes tacked to the walls with specifications on the amount of formula to use, what temperature to warm it to. Pacifiers and burping blankets and onesies on the bed, amidst their messy flurry of sheets and blankets.

 

And taking up a huge portion of the far wall, were two cribs.

 

“Joonhee needs her diaper changed,” Taehyung sighed, still cradling one daughter in his arms while he leaned over the second’s crib walls. “But Taeyeon has been fussy all night, so I don’t want to wake her.”

 

“Yeah, I’ve got it.” Jimin spoke the words with an air of timidity, not wanting to set off Taehyung’s impatience by accident again. He leaned into the crib and lifted little Joonhee out, the baby’s face moist from crying earlier, and baby drool dripping off to one side.

 

They hadn’t expected Joonhee. She had been a surprise when her presence had first been detected during the ultrasound. She had almost been lost once, and they had been told that she might not survive the birth. Joonhee, Jimin had named, choosing his top baby girl name from his list, since Taehyung had named Taeyeon. Instead of naming her after himself, though, he had been inspired by their lead Alpha, Namjoon.

 

The way he saw it, if any baby could come out of dire situations and inspire others to live better, then Joon could. So she had been named Joonhee.

 

She wriggled her limbs and fussed a little, and he smiled up into her sparkling eyes, his gaze flicking over to see the little stub that was the remainder of her left arm, ending right at the wrist in a fleshy and soft little round. She had been born with only one hand. Joonhee had always been destined to be a little special.

 

“What is it, babygirl?” Jimin cooed quietly, his voice dipping into a low tone, a smidgen of a rough edge to it that Joonhee immediately recognized, and felt comforted by. She stopped crying, just giving little hiccups and continuing to flail her limbs in quiet protest. Jimin laid her across the bed, unbuttoning the white onesie with its cartoon giraffes.

 

“It’s okay, baby,” Jimin said, smiling down at her, hoping to keep her mood up. “I’m gonna get you cleaned up, okay? Just hold on one minute while daddy gets this off of you.” Joonhee stared up at him, her legs kicking up and down...up and down. She was so active, and when Jimin beamed, chuckling a bit at her fervor, she cooed, trying her best to hold up both arms toward him. He leaned down, letting her lightly thwack one hand and one wrist against his cheeks, her motor skills still far from full of finesse.

 

“That’s right, I’mma clean you right up,” Jimin laughed. “Just hold on, we’ll get the stinky off.”

 

While Jimin took care of Joonhee’s diaper, Taehyung had sat down in the rocking chair in the corner, resting his elbows against the arms of the chair so he could rest the majority of Taeyeon’s weight there. He watched Jimin bending over the younger of the twin pups, smiling down at her and speaking softly, and lovingly. Finally, a slow and tired smile came to Taehyung’s lips.

 

“Jimin,” said Taehyung, calling his Mate’s attention. The Alpha turned, looking worried that he had done something. “Thank you. For being patient with me.”

 

“With all three of you, you mean?” Jimin chuckled, folding over the tape on the disposable diaper and gently tugging the bottom of the onesie back down over Joonhee. “I don’t want to add to the stress, Tae. It’s just… a lot right now.”

 

“Yeah…” Taehyung looked down at the baby. “I feel like I never sleep anymore. I don’t know if I should have gone back to work so soon… but I want to start that investigation into Jungkook’s brother.”

 

“I know, but.” Jimin worked his mouth, head tilting to the side a little. Joonhee sneezed, and Jimin melted, laughing and reaching over with a burping towel to wipe at her tiny mouth. “We’re new parents. I think Jungkook understands that.”

 

“But it’s part of Jungkook’s family. If I have the ability to find him, then I want to try. Family is important.” Taehyung sighed. “Besides, we could use the money right now. It’s hard for you to carry the load of our share of the rent.”

“Don’t worry about that. I’ve got it covered.”

“But I would rather you be here, with us, sometimes. And if you’re pulling overtime every week to pay the bills--”

“TaeTae,” Jimin chuckled, picking up Joonhee, letting her rest against his chest. He leaned down, carefully balancing her, so he could lay a kiss on Taehyung’s nose. “Just breathe. It’s gonna be okay.”

 

In response, Taehyung just crumpled his face, scrunching his nose and mouth up in an expression of doubt. Jimin knew that Taehyung wanted to be able to just agree with him, and believe that things would just get better. But worries, fears..they tended to seep in and intoxicate anything they could touch. To the rest of the household, it often seemed like Taehyung was just petulant and demanding of Jimin and his time. But Jimin knew better. Taehyung carried on his shoulders exactly half of their burden, although he bore it with more transparency behind their closed door.

 

“Hoseok says we should have a little date night,” he said, bouncing Joonhee slightly, his hand on the back of her head. “Jungkook could babysit the twins.”

 

“I dunno… we haven’t both really left them since they were born.”

“It could be good for us, Tae,” said Jimin. Taeyeon suddenly shifted in her father’s arms, letting out a big yawn in her sleep that seemed to stretch on for ages. Taehyung and Jimin stared down at her, transfixed and warmed, every instinct in their bodies filled with peace as they watched her. Jimin reached out one hand, running it through Taehyung’s hair even as the Beta continued to watch his child sleep. “They’ll still be here. We won’t miss anything huge in just one night, TaeTae. And you’re so tense these days, I’m sure the babies can smell it on you.”

 

“Do you think?” Taehyung suddenly looked up, worry evident in his features. “I don’t want them to be worried all the time.”

 

“Then let’s go out. We’ll see a movie together, have a cheap dinner. Just you and me for a night, okay?” Jimin tilted his head to the side. “I miss you, you know.”

 

“I know, and I’m sorry for yelling at you this morning.” The words were spoken with that trace of awkwardness that always seemed to accompany Taehyung’s most sincere apologies.

 

“I’m sorry, too.” Jimin moved to pull his hand away, but Taehyung closed his eyes, turning his head so that his face became cupped in Jimin’s hand, his skin so warm to the touch. His lips brushed into the softest places of Jimin’s palms, and he exhaled pure heat into it. Jimin sighed, feeling that rise of goosebumps in his skin when he could feel Taehyung appreciating his Alpha Scent, the smell of peppermint, always with little traces of Taehyung’s citrus smell threaded through it.

 

~~~

 

Kiara sighed in contentment, looking around her freshly cleaned kitchen. After making breakfast for Jungkook and Seokjin, she needed to get Namjoon up. Naiara and Kwangie, still playing, had rushed off into the living room and were racing around, throwing toys and whooping, as children tended to do. Kiara wiped her hands dry and walked into the living room. She smiled, happy to see that Naiara had pulled one of her favorite books from the family bookshelf. It was a big yellow children’s dictionary, mostly filled with colorful drawings with a short description of things like ‘apple’ and ‘homework.’ Nai carried the book with quite the effort in her small hands and tossed it out onto the floor, laying on her stomach as she pretended to read out of it like her parents often did.

 

“Kitty!” she declared, pointing to the drawing of a family of cats, “Kitty runs….around and--- and--- and licks! Meow meow meow, she says!” Nai tilted her head to the side, her high-pitched imitation of the feline’s sound making Kiara giggle. Kwangie wasn’t paying much attention to Nai at the time, just laying near her as he collected things. While any child’s favorite activity was throwing toys into any available corner and space (and Kwangie was no exception to this) he also tended to like to pile things up. Sometimes he did it in the middle of the room. Sometimes he piled up right behind Naiara, as he was doing now. Sometimes, he even piled up his food into haphazard semi-clean piles, taking great care despite his lack of dexterity. Most of the time, if Yoongi was home, his feet propped up in one of the nearby recliners, Kwangie liked to collect any toys and blankets and sippy cups and stack them around Yoongi’s feet, as if creating a little shrine out of him. Yoongi was always careful not to shift, when Kwangie started his piling.

 

Yoongi and Kiara had discussed in passing that this might be Kwangie’s form of nesting, suggesting that he might one day Present as an Omega. Yoongi said he honestly wouldn’t be surprised, but that it was far too soon to tell if it was just a child’s curious tendency or a sign of a Presenting type. So they left it be for now, and let Kwangie pile up his toys without hindrance or question.

 

Right now he was stacking up soft plastic blocks near Naiara’s idly kicking feet, setting down cars and then dragging over a blanket Jungkook kept on the couch for cuddling with during gaming sessions. He tried to wad up the blanket as best as he could, then patted the lump gently and making an incoherent noise that sounded to Kiara like reassurance, directed at the blanket itself.

 

Naiara kept loudly narrating her story, and Kiara shook her head.

 

“Nai, Kwangie,” she said, “Do you want to help me wake up Namjoonie?”

“Yes!” Naiara cried out, abandoning her book and clambering to her feet. She raced to her mother, her socks padding lightly against the living room carpet. Quietly, Kwangie toddled behind, reaching up for Kiara to pick him up and carry him up the stairs. Naiara crawled up one step at a time, then barrelled down the hallway to her parents’ room.

 

“Daddy! Daddy, wake up!” she cried. She flopped forward, flapping her arms down onto the bed and slapping down as hard as she could, barely making a sound on the mattress. Namjoon had one foot jutted out from underneath the king-sized sheets, most of him buried under a very tangled pile of comforters. His Omega and his tiny daughter were both very particular about sleeping with their own blankets, but usually whoever was left alone in the bed in the morning tended to curl up with all three anyways, mixing their Scents together and making the bed one of Naiara’s favorite places in the world. “Daddy!”

 

Kiara helped lift Nai’s little bottom up, aiding her in crawling up onto the mattress so she could tackle her father, who didn’t react at all. Kiara smiled, sitting on the edge of the bed as Kwangie tumbled from her arms and across Namjoon’s ankles.

 

“Daddy, wake up ! Mommy made brea’fas’!” Naiara leaned in, putting her face very close to her father’s, and planted her miniature palm against his cheek, pushing back and forth and causing his lax visage to morph in a plethora of hilarious shapes, lips pouted as she squished both cheeks into the pillow as best she could. “ Daddyyyyy !”

 

One of Namjoon’s eyes opened, and a smile blossomed across his face, even as he groaned in sleepiness. “Nai-Nai, what do you want? Lemme sleep.”

“Daddy, wake up, or else!” Naiara declared, imitating her mother’s reprimanding tone. Kiara laughed, reaching out and rubbing circles into Namjoon’s arm, her own part in helping to rouse her husband.

 

“She’s right, you know. You better wake up, or else.” Kiara patted him roughly.

 

“Or else what?” Namjoon grunted.

 

“Or else your breakfast will get cold. Also, you and Yoongi need to do the shopping today for the repairs. The weekend is day after tomorrow.”

 

“Right, right…” Namjoon ran a hand over his eyes, sighing. Naiara, not to be deterred from her father’s attention, leaned in and pressed a soggy kiss to his forehead, and brushed back his bangs, as another habit she had seen her mother do.

 

“Daddy, you need to wake up. Because I love you.”

 

Namjoon forced his puffy, sleep-reddened eyes open and looked at her in surprise, mock-gasping. “What?! You love me? Because you love me?!”

Naiara squealed with laughter as Namjoon reached out and suddenly grasped her tightly, yanking her over onto his chest and tickling beneath her arms. While she laughed, he nuzzled into her neck, gently Scenting her with his smell of woodfire smoke, a comforting and familiar smell to her. Naiara tried to wriggle her body away as he continued, one of her hands pushing up against his nose in an attempt to free herself.

 

“Stop, daddy, sto-o-o-op!”

 

“You c’mere,” Namjoon slid his broad, dependable hands underneath her, lifting her up above him on the bed and doing ‘the airplane.’ “Lookit, my princess can fly! She’s flying! How can she do that?!”

 

“From daddy’s love!” Naiara recited, as always. Her laughter bubbling in between the words.

 

“Yes, from daddy’s love.”

 

“Me! Me!” Kwangie called out, and still hugging onto Namjoon’s ankles with both hands, he reached out one grabbing hand, determined to not be left out.

 

“You next, Prince Kwangie,” Namjoon called out, letting Nai down to lay against his chest and reaching out for the little boy. It took four more ‘airplane’ rides, Namjoon’s face red from exertion as he held them up and loudly made his best airplane engine sounds, before they finally called it the end of the game and went downstairs and fed the lead Alpha his breakfast.

 

~~~

 

Seokjin liked to surprise others. He kind of hated getting surprises himself, if he was quite honest, but giving others surprises...especially good ones, was his forte. He hummed as he went about his work, smiling as he did his rounds. Being an endocrinologist, he tended to see the same patients quite regularly, and he was good at creating a rapport with them.

 

Today, though, rather than lingering behind to chat with patients at the end of their appointments, or to exchange pleasantries with the nurses, Seokjin spent his free moments hunched in the corner, a piece of purple fabric in his hands, as he very carefully stitched the hem together by hand. In the corner of the tiny cotton blanket, he had hand-stitched the word Baby .

 

Jungkook hadn’t noticed it yet, the slight change in his smell. He hadn’t noticed himself being more moody and distant, more huggy to everyone - just as he had with Kiara that morning - and he hadn’t pieced together the random mornings of nausea. But Seokjin, who specialized in hormones, who had obsessively studied pre-natal care and signs, and who knew Jungkook best… he knew that news was coming their way, and the excitement and nervousness made him buzz with unhindered joy.

Chapter Text

The plan was simple.

 

Go to the hardware store, pick up some cheap interlocking tiling, some additional nails, and some caulking. Then go home.

 

It was gonna be Yoongi and Namjoon, as usual, two best friends out to conquer the world one household project at a time.

 

However, things never seemed to go the way Namjoon planned them.

 

They were only at the hardware store for a few minutes. Nothing was even inside the double-wide wire shopping cart except for some old and rained-on flyers at the bottom. Yoongi was rubbing his chin, bending down to compare prices on some off-brand caulking, and talking to Namjoon.

 

“In all honesty, it’s probably for the best that we had to redo all the wiring,” Yoongi was saying, “Because the Main Hall is mostly connected now, save for the extra cabin, so it would have had to be redone anyways.”

“Yeah, but it’s still a shame that you had to have all those inspections, the price adds up.”

“We would have had to pay for the inspections anyways,” Yoongi shrugged, crouching down to look closer.

 

“At every stage like that?”

 

“Yep,” Yoongi nodded. “But it’s fine. I feel safe knowing that we did the wiring ourselves, and we know where everything is.”

Namjoon worked his mouth, fighting a smile as he rolled his eyes. “Well, that makes one of us.”

 

Yoongi made a sort of hissing noise with his teeth that signalled his amusement, chuckling. “It’ll be fine. I can’t wait to show the pups the new place, actually. They’ll have a good time this weekend.”

 

“Are you sure it’s not too early? God knows if they get lost out there…”

“They’ll be fine, they’re not stupid, thank the powers that be.” Yoongi stood up, grunting. “Naiara, though, she’s a bold one. She might be a bit of a wanderer.”

 

“She’s a good kid,” Namjoon muttered. He sounded more than a little defensive, so Yoongi looked up at him, the Omega’s eyes flickering with good humor.

 

“No one is arguing with you, Daddy ,” said Yoongi. It was meant to sound teasing, jibing at his newfound fatherhood and subsequent pride, but in retrospect it sounded more than a little sexual coming from Yoongi’s smirking mouth. Namjoon’s face flushed.

 

“That was…” Namjoon’s fingers gripped at the handlebar of the cart.

“Uh…”

 

“...Weird.”

 

“Yeah, it was very weird..”

“Don’t do that anymore.”

“I can promise I won’t.” Yoongi shuttered, shaking his body as if throwing off a spider web or something equally as revolting. The Omega grabbed the off-brand caulking, and tossed it noisily into the cart, and they headed off.

 

“Hey, Yoongi, I was wondering, actually…” Namjoon turned his cart carefully around a corner, the edges of the cart brushing up against a display at the end of the aisle.

 

“Hm?” Yoongi looked over his shoulder, but then his phone rang, interrupting. Namjoon’s face fell as he leaned forward to rest heavily against the cart. He wanted to ask Yoongi about lowering Taehyung and Jimin’s portion of the rent, if just for a few months. They’d be at the island anyways, so costs would be down, but he was worried about them, and wanted Yoongi’s input on if that would count as his infamous ‘being too nice’ syndrome, as Yoongi called it.

 

“Woah, woah, hold on,” said Yoongi. Namjoon straightened up, instantly on worried alert. “Slow down. Isn’t anybody else there to help?”

 

There was a pause on the line, and Yoongi’s eyebrows scrunched together. Namjoon frowned.

 

“What's up?”

 

Yoongi moved his mouth a little ways from the receiver, lowering his voice as he said, “Kiara said we were supposed to head straight back home from campus to take Nai. She's got a doctor's appointment and can't watch her.”

 

“Isn't Hoseok there?”

 

“He got called in to the shop at one o’clock.”

 

“Uh, Taehyung?”

 

“Sleeping with the twins.”

 

Namjoon furrowed his brow together tightly. Seokjin and Jungkook had work today, and Jimin was on overtime. That only left the two of them.

 

“Also,” Yoongi added, half listening to Kiara’s frustrated voice on the line. “Kwangie has a fever.”

 

“Aw, jeez. We're never gonna get these supplies ready in time.” Namjoon ran a hand over his face, sighing. “Maybe I can take her with me. Tell Kiara we'll be home in a few minutes.”

 

Yoongi relayed the message, meanwhile putting the caulking back on the shelf, and they left the store empty-handed. Namjoon didn't say it aloud, but he was kind of disappointed that he hadn't gotten a little more one-on-one time with Yoongi. Shopping trips used to be their thing, but now it was infiltrated by adorable little menaces.

 

“Daddy!” Naiara shrieked, pelting into his knees as soon as he entered the door. Her bright green eyes sparkled up at him. “Welcome home!”

 

“Hey, princess,” he patted her head as he chuckled. “You wanna go on a few errands with Daddy today?”

 

“Yes!”

 

Kiara stood near the doorway, holding a softly whimpering Kwangie in her arms until Yoongi swooped in to collect him. As soon as his eyes fell on his Papa, Kwangie let out a needy little cry, extending his tiny hands to him, face crumpled in despair. Yoongi, as usual, melted into a certain expression of inexplicable softness anytime Kwangie shot him that look.

 

“Shhhh… don't cry. Papa’s here,” he soothed, patting the boy’s back. “Let's go check your temperature again and see about getting you some medicine, hm?”

 

“Daddy!”

 

Namjoon glanced down to see Naiara clutching to his pant leg, tugging on it and jutting out her bottom lip.

 

“Let's go !”

 

“Fine, I'm going, I'm going!” He half-heartedly let Nai push him out the door, and then he buckled her up securely in the backseat of the truck. She beat her little fists against the tray of the carseat, and started to sing little nonsense songs. Smilingly, Namjoon slipped into the driver's seat and they started off. They hadn't even left the block before trouble started, and if asked honesty, Namjoon would have admitted that he wasn't one bit surprised.

 

“I want out! Toys!” Nai called out, noisily striking her carseat with her feet. “Toy 'tore!”

 

Namjoon glanced in the rearview mirror, his lips pursed together. “Honey, we're not going to the toy store. We're going to the hardware store for some tools for daddy.”

 

“No!’

 

“Yes, princess. We're going to the hardware store and then we should pick up something for dinner.”

 

“Toy 'tore!”

 

“Princess,” his voice dropped into a tone of warning, letting her know she needed to watch her attitude. “This isn't a democracy, you hea r?  We have to go to the hardware store, then get some food. What do you want to eat?”

 

“No!” Naiara broke down into shrieks, despite his attempts to calm her down. She wasn’t in a good mood today - Kiara had mentioned that she wasn’t taking her naps when she was supposed to, so Namjoon figured she was grumpy because of that. The screams continued until they pulled into the parking lot, and when he pulled her out of her seat, her face was puffy and red, and utterly covered in a lovely combination of snot, tears and drool.

 

“D-daddyy!”

 

“I know, princess, I know, but we have to get this shopping done before the weekend. We’re going on the camping trip, remember?”

 

But to Naiara’s petulant little mind, the joys of a thing explained meant nothing until she had experienced it, and she had experienced very few things , so she ignored this attempt at consolation. He reached into the box of moist wipes that Kiara insisted they keep stocked in the truck at all times (“Thank you, my love,” he whispered to the wind) and wiped the majority of Nai’s face off, before holding her in one arm against his chest and shutting the door to the truck.

 

“We’re gonna look at daddy’s kind of toy store,” he told her, trying with his tone and expression to instill some sort of enthusiasm. Naiara was not impressed, and kicked her feet about so that it was nearly impossible to get her into the seat on the shopping cart.

 

However, once they walked into the building, glass doors opening automatically, Naiara suddenly quieted, and with wide eyes strained to look over her shoulder. Namjoon arched an eyebrow.

 

Naiara kept wriggling back and forth, trying to stand up in the seat, her little jean dress with the purple frill at the bottom being kicked up by her motions, revealing the white of her Pull-ups. He unconsciously reached to tug her dress down to cover her, as Naiara continued to be utterly unbothered. Namjoon was glad he had had the forethought to buckle her in to the cart so she couldn’t escape his clutches, and quietly reprimanded, “Nai, you need to stay sitting down. There’s a lot of dangerous stuff in this store, okay?”

“Daddy!” Nai lifted her gaze to her father, an excitement in her eyes. “Uncle Diminie!”

 

“What? No, Uncle Jimin isn’t here,” Namjoon chuckled. “He’s doing overtime at work today.”

 

Naiara shrieked, but this time more from something like an inner bursting of pure emotion than in any actual upset. Namjoon sighed, but decided to let her calm herself down this time. He and Kiara had had long debates on what to do about Naiara’s tendency toward temper tantrums and outbursts of emotional energy, and it had been decided that it was probably best to not fight her too much, and let her burn herself out. Kiara had mentioned that Naiara always seemed to get even more animated when they engaged, and with two stubborn parents that valued compromise, it was easy for her to get them both wrapped into a long 2-hour argument over a mundane topic like eating carrots.

 

“Uncle Diminie is here!” Naiara whimpered for the nth time, as Namjoon returned to the caulking aisle that he and Yoongi had abandoned that morning. “I wan’ Diminie…”

 

Namjoon wanted to calmly explain again that he was at work, but he bit his tongue, picking up the off-brand caulking and tossing it into the cart.

 

“Diminieee~” Naiara continued, still trying to spot him. “I smell Diminie!”

 

“You really love your uncle Jimin, don’t you?” commented Namjoon. He pushed the cart past the paint aisles, trying to distract her with a positive topic.

 

“Yes!” she sang out. Then, she looked across the open store floor and forlornly declared, “Yes, yes. I love you, Uncle Diminie.”

 

Namjoon smiled. “He loves you, too, princess.”

“I love him more--” she stopped, wriggling her butt in her seat and losing track of her train of thought. “ More ...more than Uncle Tae loves him.”

 

At that, Namjoon stopped walking, a little thunderstruck at the bold statement. But when he met eyes with his young daughter, he saw nothing but steadfast self-assuredness in her expression.

 

“Uh, princess,” he leaned down, resting his elbows against the handle bar so he could meet her gaze at her own level. “You know Uncle Tae and Jimin are Mates, right? So your love for uncle Jimin is different than Uncle Tae’s love for him.”

“I love him most!” Naiara cried out, her fat lower lip jutting out, and her eyes starting to fill with angry, stubborn tears.

 

“Shh, shh, calm down, Nai,” Namjoon chuckled in nervousness. “He knows you love him.” Naiara’s innocent little crush on Jimin was pretty cute, most of the time, but Namjoon didn’t want to encourage any jealous behavior. “You love Uncle Tae too, right?”

Naiara didn’t respond. She just stared at a stack of paint color samples.

 

Namjoon leaned down, getting a little worried. “Nai? You love Uncle Tae too, right ?”

 

With a dramatic sigh, Naiara rocked in her seat, as if trying to dislodge the cart from her bottom. “I guess!”

 

He couldn’t help it, he snorted in laughter, because she had stolen every ounce of that response from her mother.

 

They went through the aisles, and Namjoon found the wood he would need to finish that last bit of construction at the island, and he piled them carefully into the cart behind Nai, who kept sniffing at the air for her Alpha uncle. She seemed to be in a better, calmer mood than before, to which Namjoon was grateful, and he decided to stroll a bit and talk to her about what different things were called. They had fun in the nuts and bolts section for awhile, but he had to wrestle a bag of flat-end screws out of her mouth at one point, confused and bewildered.

 

Around the time they were both getting tired of the Daddy Toy Store, Namjoon was circling back around, and they passed by the glass doors that lead to the Home & Gardening section. Their movement caused the automated doors to slide open, and the thick smell of different houseplants and herbs struck them as they went past. Naiara lost it.

 

She was suddenly half-standing in the cart, seatbelt or not, and struggling to crawl away. Namjoon barely grabbed her before she tumbled over, the toddler shrieking with exuberation.

 

“Uncle Diminie! I smell him!”

 

“Baby, I told you, he’s not--” Namjoon froze, then, and gave the air a furtive sniff. Then, he laughed. “Ahhh, I understand now. Hold on, princess.”

 

Naiara squealed in joy, clapping her hands and sitting dutifully back in her seat. Namjoon pushed into the Gardening section, and right up to the potted herbs and plants. Their smells mingling together in a confusing cloud to their sensitive noses. Namjoon bent over the tiny labels for a minute, then pulled out a tiny brown plastic pot off the shelf with two stalks of a green plant with wide, tongue-shaped leaves. He held it out to Naiara, who sniffed at it and gasped.

“Uncle Diminie!”

Namjoon laughed. “It’s peppermint you were smelling, princess. That’s Uncle Jimin’s Scent! Do you like it?”

Naiara put her face right into the midst of the leaves, inhaling long and deep. She kissed the leaves. “I love it.”

 

A few minutes later, they were pushing through the checkout, and Naiara was hugging the potted plant tightly to her chest, careful not to crush any of the leaves. Namjoon smirked down at her proudly. He couldn’t wait to tell Kiara how well Nai had picked out that single Scent, even among all the other herbs and being across the store. It seemed like she was going to be a great Scent-tracker when she was old enough to hunt.

 

And as a little girl who had a tendency to be independent and boldly rush off to wherever she pleased, when ever she pleased, he thought it a huge relief to know that she would likely always find it easy to find her way back home.

 

“Daddy,” Naiara said, as he lifted her (and her new plant)  from the cart into his arms so that he could put her in the truck. He halted for a moment, and she leaned in to kiss the tip of his nose. “Thank you.”

 

Namjoon smiled, and placed her into her carseat before kissing her nose in return. “You’re welcome, princess.”

 

They went home, Nai rushing to play with her toys scattered in front of the couch. Namjoon flopped down, sighing. He watched Nai play, heard the quiet of the house as it was mostly emptied, save for the sound of Taehyung snoring echoing from the hallway. He smiled down at Nai.

 

“What are you making, princess?”

 

Nai was stacking blocks up very carefully onto the padded coffee table, making lopsided stacks. “I'm making a cabins!” she declared. Namjoon felt his heart melt. They looked nothing like cabins, no walls or doors or beds or any of the things Namjoon had stressed out making sure were totally pup safe for his only daughter. But she was proud, and so was he.

 

“Looks great. Which cabin is for us?”

 

“This one?” Nai pointed at a blue block.

 

“And Jin and Jungkook?”

 

Nai pointed to a red block.

 

“Tae and Jimin?”

 

“This one!” Nai giggled, holding out her hand where she clutched a purple block.

 

“Annnnnddd… Hoseok and Yoongi?”

 

“This!” She pointed out the bottom block, a green one.

 

Namjoon smiled, laying back into the couch and just sitting there, watching her play for awhile. The peppermint plant sat daintily on the coffee table near Naiara, perky and filling the air with its sweetness. Nai played for quite a while, mumbling off the colors aloud as she stacked and restacked them. When Namjoon’s eyes started to close, he felt tiny hands grabbing at the fabric of his jeans. He opened his eyes to find Nai crawling up into his lap, with considerable difficulty since she was holding onto two blocks in her hands. Namjoon lifted her up so that she was able to crawl up, and quickly she nestled up close in her usual spot in that space tucked against his shoulder.

 

“Daddy, daddy, daddy,” she singsonged, making up her own repetitive melody as she went. She patted the blocks down on his chest, bouncing them along as if they were walking. Namjoon just sat back and let her do it, resting as he watched her play. “Daddy dances, mommy daaances, Kwangie go ni-night! Daddy go--” She lifted one of the blocks up, and made a sound like a fake snore, making Namjoon chuckle, his chest bouncing her with the movement. Then, most of her play turned into meaningless, high-pitched babble that wasn’t really connected or comprehensible.

 

Namjoon laid his head back against the headrest of the couch, and yawned. Eventually, Naiara seemed to tire, too, warmed by her father’s body heat. She laid her cheek down against his broad shoulder, Scenting his thick smoky Alpha Scent, and continued to play for a little longer, quietly making little noises until eventually, the tiny hand stilled, and her eyes were shut, long, curly lashes fluttering slightly with dreams. She was soothed into slumber by the familiar and comforting Scent of her father.

 

It was some time later when Namjoon woke up to the door being unlocked. How long they had been napping there, Naiara planted firmly against his chest, his head lolled up to the side. He noticed it was darker in the house than before, the shadows stretching across the carpet from the front window. The sun in the evening was mostly obstructed by the large tree in the front yard, blowing slightly in the wind at dusk, all purples and oranges set behind it.

 

Jimin opened the door a moment later, his keys clanging. Namjoon looked up and smiled at him.

 

“Someone missed you today,” Namjoon greeted. “And I don't mean Tae.”

 

“Oh?” Jimin arched an eyebrow, amused. He walked over to the couch, bending down and gently touching the back of Naiara’s head, petting her curls.

 

“Yeah, she went crazy because she thought she smelled you at the hardware store.”

 

Jimin looked confused for a moment, but Namjoon pointed one finger toward the peppermint plant, and a quiet chuckle escaped him. Right now, he didn’t smell like himself, that pure peppermint with a dash of his mate’s Scent of citrus being covered up by the smell of an office’s chemical cleaners, scent blockers from cubicle mates, and the Scents of strangers, so Naiara hadn’t noticed he was there. He leaned down, pressed a gentle kiss to the back of her head, and rose with a low groan.

 

“Rough day?” Namjoon asked.

 

“A total shitstorm, really,” Jimin sighed. “But that’s alright. I should get a bit of overtime this week, and Tae is working again, so.”

Namjoon nodded softly. He still needed to discuss with Yoongi and Kiara about lowering Jimin and Taehyung’s portion of the rent, so he couldn’t promise anything yet. But he wanted to make it easier. As much as they all wanted to pull an equal share, and even though Yoonhee and Taeyeon needed more formula, being two of them and neither of them able to breastfeed, it was still a lot to ask for new parents. And after all, they were all a family. He just wasn’t sure Jimin’s pride would be quite receptive to the idea.

 

“You still okay on your time off for this weekend?”

“Absolutely,” Jimin said firmly. “I wouldn’t go in even if they begged me to. This weekend is important, it’s the pups’ first time out there.”

 

Namjoon smiled. “I’m excited. Scared shitless, but still.”

 

“That’s fair.” Jimin reached down and just touched two fingertips against Naiara’s back, trailing it down her spine like he was petting her, and suddenly the toddler’s eyes flickered open, puffy from sleep but quite alert.

 

“Uncle Diminie?” she said, in a cute little croak. “Diminie?”

Jimin gave a soft, deep chuckle, his smile wide as she sat up, reaching for him. Jimin picked her up as she hugged his neck and kissed his round cheek.

 

“Hello, sweetie. Did you have a good nap with your daddy?”

“Yes,” she said, still sleepy. She dropped her puffy cheek to his shoulder, one arm still curled around his neck. Namjoon chuckled.

 

“Let Uncle Jimin go get something to eat, he’s probably tired.”

 

Naiara let out a little sound of agreement, but didn’t quite have the energy to lift her weary head from her uncle’s shoulder. Jimin patted the top of her head gently, sending Namjoon an amused smirk before carting her off to the kitchen, arms curled beneath her.

 

Things never went quite according to plan, Namjoon knew, but that was okay.

 

Chapter Text

Kwang-min was a little boy who was quite often just a little sick. Not the major kinds of sick, with hospital visits or scary drugs. Just a smidgen more sick than the average kid, was what Hoseok liked to claim. He would get the sniffles for a week or two, even though the other pups were fine and healthy. He would get ear infections quite frequently. They found out he was allergic to tomatoes. Little things like that, that kept Yoongi up late at night worrying over his son. Hoseok was clingy in an affectionate way; Yoongi was clingy in a more physical, concerned manner, as he would be the one awake at three in the morning rubbing calamine onto the little blotchy itchmarks of a very small child who had somehow gotten poison oak on his back and his legs and arms. Thank God it hadn't gotten anywhere like his eyes or mouth, Yoongi sent his gratitude to the heavens, as he had wiped down Kwangie’s arms and fingers again and put little booties covering his hands so that he couldn't scratch and then rub at his tired eyes. Yoongi worried a lot about his son, even though he seemed alright, once his itching had calmed down and he stopped fussing about how hot the makeshift bootie-mittens were. Sometimes,Yoongi felt like most of his one-on-one time with his pup was in the midst of the witching hours, laying in the dark trying to soothe each other with low whispers and soft whimpers.

 

Tonight, it was a residual fever that was keeping Kwangie awake, and he was fussier than usual. Yoongi didn't know how to make him feel better, so he laid on the bed, exhausted, as he patted Kwangie’s back with one large hand that seemed to engulf the baby. After a while, Yoongi singing to him in a low, soothing voice, Kwangie tossed himself against his Papa’s chest and fell back asleep. The one and a half year old was only wearing a diaper, so it was direct skin-to-skin contact with Yoongi’s chest, the little stickiness of the baby’s pouting cheek warm against him. Yoongi ran his hands through Kwangie’s hair, and sighed, kissing the top of his son’s head lovingly.

 

Things were about to change for little Kwang-min, and he had no idea.

 

Tomorrow - or technically, today - was Friday. Friday night, they would be starting their trip to the island for the pups’ first time camping out. They wouldn't be going out on any hunts, but they could run around outside, explore, practice their shifting. Everyone in the packhouse had put in for two weeks off, especially for this trip.

 

Kwangie’s tiny, hot fist clenched against Yoongi’s nipple, trying to latch on to his papa even in his sleep.

 

Would Kwangie be alright? To anyone else, Yoongi would have scoffed and said, 'Of course.’ But in his mind, he was a little afraid. He supposed every parent worried about this sort of thing. Their child falling behind. Pampering them too much. Not pushing them enough. Pushing them too much. Kwangie hadn't done a successful shifting yet, even when he was sick; and times of illness or pain were a common time for pups to accidentally shift for the first time. What was going on with Kwangie?

 

Deciding that worrying at nearly four in the morning wouldn't do any good, Yoongi yawned, wriggling a little on the bed to get more comfortable as he fell asleep at last.

 

~~~~~

 

Kwangie’s best friend was Naiara. He followed her around, he made his little 'piles’ around her, he got jealous if she wasn't paying him attention, and he called her Nai-Nai and kissed her head and told her 'ni-night’ when it was bedtime.

 

He loved Naiara, he really did.

 

But that didn't mean they always got along.

 

“No!” Naiara shrieked, trying to cover her curly hair as Kwangie attempted to pull a chunk of it out by the roots. “Noooo!” She pushed him with both hands, using her whole weight, and the smaller boy tumbled back onto the floor, screaming and crying in angry retaliation. It was hard for his parents to know that he still felt sickly and ill from the fever the day before, and it was nigh impossible for his playmate, who had only about six months of communication skills beyond him, to have any inclination as to the purpose of his soured mood.

 

“Hey, hey,” Jungkook swooped in, kneeling between the pups and setting a comforting hand on each. Kwangie smelled his uncle’s Scent, comprised mostly of a mix of Omega, saltwater and leather, with the distinct underlying odor of fresh detergent that Kwangie knew was his uncle Jinnie. “What's wrong, you two?”

 

“He pulled my hair!” Naiara cried, still holding a hand to her stinging scalp.

 

“Kwangie, why did you do that?” Jungkook questioned. Kwangie, not having the words to explain concepts like misery , and ache , just sniffed and jutted his lip out, before rolling over and launching himself off the carpet, toddling away.

 

“Kwangie? Come back here.” Even giving Kwangie a head start, it only took two strides before Jungkook had caught up to him, scooping him up in his arms and kissing his cheek, making it very hard for Kwangie to stay irritated. “Come on, don't be mean to Nai-Nai. What's wrong?”

 

“Gugu!” Kwangie kicked his feet, almost like he wanted to be let down onto the floor, when in actuality he wanted to convey his need to go sleep more, and his subsequent reluctance to do exactly that. He rubbed his eyes with a tiny fist. “Gugu!”

 

“I know, I know,” Jungkook soothed, laying Kwangie against his shoulder and patting the soft back. “You didn't sleep well, did you?”

 

Kwangie let out a little whimper, while Naiara stared up at her playmate, not sure what to think. After a moment, she decided to continue playing quietly at Jungkook’s feet.

 

“Nai-Nai, we have to get ready to go soon,” Jungkook said, still patting and bouncing Kwangie a little. “I'm gonna see if I can go put Kwangie down for a nap, so stay in the living room, okay?”

 

“'kay,” she said, not really tuning in completely. Jungkook went upstairs, taking Kwangie with him, and Naiara looked over toward the front windowsill, where rested her precious peppermint plant that smelled like Jimin.

 

“Here, Kwangie,” Jungkook soothed, picking up his pacifier from the mattress and putting it in his mouth to clean it off before putting it into Kwangie’s mouth. The baby suckled on it for a minute, letting out little complaining noises, but then dropped his head to Jungkook’s shoulder with a little thump. “That’s right, you’re just sleepy, right? Your Papa will be back soon, and maybe he’ll take a nap with you. So go to sleep. Shhh..”

 

“Gugu!” Naiara called out, apparently bellowing up the stairs. “Diminie needs water!”

 

Jungkook sighed, going to the hallway and then to the top of the stairs, in an attempt to minimize his shouting with Kwangie trying to rest.

 

“Nai, I'll be right down. Just give me a minute to put Kwangie down for a nap.”

 

Naiara pouted, but then disappeared around the corner, and Jungkook took Kwangie back to the quiet darkness of his parents’ room. Jungkook sang a soft, quiet lullaby to him, patting his back until Kwangie stopped his tiny little mewling cries, and became silent and warm against Jungkook’s chest.

 

It felt nice, Jungkook had realized after he had started helping out more with the pups, to realize how much they are depending on you. Soothing little Kwangie, stilling his cries and helping him drift off to sleep, ignited a warm feeling of affection deep in Jungkook's chest. It was something he hadn't had, growing up. So it was nice to feel that connection now, even though they weren't blood related to him.

 

Kwangie finally seemed to sleep, and Jungkook took about ten minutes of agonizingly molasses-slow movements before he had slipped the baby down onto the bed. Jungkook laid the biggest pillows on either side of him to protect the little one from rolling away in his slumber, and then he went downstairs.

 

“Nai!” Jungkook hissed. The toddler had somehow gotten their biggest bowl of water and was currently trying to dump the majority of it into her helpless peppermint plant. Water was sloshing down the windowsill and onto the carpet,and she had already dumped some of the soil out. The lip of the bowl was threatening to tip the container over, and that was exactly what happened when Jungkook called out for her, rushing forward.

 

He was nowhere near fast enough to save poor Jimin II.

 

Naiara’s eyes were wide and fearful, tears already threatening just at the rise in Jungkook’s voice when he had yelled.

 

“D-Diminie…needs water…” she managed through her confusion. She still held the heavy bowl with both hands, albeit crookedly, and she stared down at the spilled peppermint. “We're gonna camping so...so he needs water. Every day.”

 

Jungkook sighed. Namjoon had all but drilled into her skull about how likely it was she would kill the peppermint plant if she didn't water it regularly and take good care of it. It was practically all she could think about, he was sure.

 

“It's okay, Nai, but listen. This is too much water for Diminie! Look, he peed all over the place!” He kept the tone light-hearted, and he earned a teary smile in return. “Let's clean up and get him back in his house.”

 

~~~~~

 

Upstairs, Kwangie hiccuped, jolting out of his slumber. A tousled head lifted up from the mattress, staring across the room into the dark.

 

Kwangie could hear, very clearly, the sounds from downstairs. He could hear Jungkook’s voice. Could hear the rustling of the peppermint leaves. Could hear a car passing by outside. It was hard, to hear so many, many sounds and often have no idea what they were. Kwangie let out a little whimper, continuing to suckle on his pacifier. He carefully slid off the bed, slowly dragging his tummy until his feet finally touched the carpet. The room in here smelled nice. It smelled like his Daddy and his Papa. A mix of vanilla and fresh earth. But his Papa wasn't there, and he was quite perturbed by this. When he wanted naps, Papa was the best. When he wanted to play, Daddy was best. But now neither of them were there, and he could hear Naiara arguing with Jungkook downstairs.

 

He didn't feel like playing with Naiara. He wanted to play on his own, or with Daddy. Where were they?

 

Kwangie slowly made his way downstairs. Jungkook hadn't set up the baby gate at the top, thinking Kwangie would be asleep for awhile longer. But Kwangie, although sickly, was a determined little wolf. He took his time, fingernails clawing at the underside of the handrail, then at the carpet covering each step. His diapered bottom tumbled dangerously over each stair, until he finally hit the tile of the kitchen. Jungkook was talking to Naiara in the bathroom, giving her a measuring cup to water with.

 

Kwangie considered going to Jungkook, who was always fun. But the windows and doors, which had been open to air out the house (a combination of preparation for their two week trip, along with the extremely high electric bill for the A/C, which was now off) let in a strong breeze. It played with Kwangie’s hair, tickling him. And his delicate, heightened senses caught the smell of pine trees, of someone watering their lawn, of fresh earth and cut grass, and…

 

Vanilla.

 

Kwangie toddled right beyond the living room, racing to the front door. The screen was the only barrier, and he reached up, slamming his hand against the little handle. It wouldn't have given way, if it wasn't already bent and slightly ajar. As it was, it swung open easily for Kwangie.

 

He didn't hear Jungkook come out to the living room, thinking one of the other wolves had come home early. He didn't hear the sounds of the phone ringing, with his Daddy saying he was leaving work soon, and had about an hour before he'd be home.

 

Kwangie just knew he smelled Daddy, and freedom. Pacifier still in his mouth, cheeks still puffy from his very short nap, he crossed the front yard, passed the huge pine tree, and made his way down the street.



Chapter Text

The air was hot with the rising summer sun, and Kwangie toddled along down the street. It was humid, and there were dark clouds in the sky, promising rain as a reprieve from the heat. Kwangie’s diaper hung low and drooping from his bottom, not soiled but hanging limp from rough play, little fuzzies dotted across the white disposable material. He wore nothing else, bare soft little knees working hard to propel him along as he sniffed the air. His pacifier bobbed back and forth a little as he suckled on it. A couple crossed the other side of the street, and Kwangie stood still and watched them for a moment, as though checking them out. Then, he continued along.

 

The sky grew darker, which Kwangie liked, because his skin felt hot and icky. Little beads of sweat dotted across his nose, and he continued to walk over the grass alongside the sidewalk. His bare feet didn’t feel good, walking on the solar-heated cement.

 

After a moment, he paused, his arms sticking out a little to regain his balance, and he sniffed the air again. The vanilla scent was stronger, compelling him to keep going. He wasn’t sure how far away he had gotten, but he knew he was very close to the smell that meant his Daddy. He wanted to see his bright smile and his deep, warm, crackling voice above him.

 

Kwangie crossed the street, frowning as he ran, staring down in a reprimanding manner as it burned the bottoms of his feet, but he continued. Halfway across, fat droplets of rain began to sprinkle across the asphalt, darkening it in uneven wet spots. Kwangie liked when the rain hit his shoulders, and he liked the smell and sound of the rain, but he wanted vanilla.

 

The smell seemed to be coming from a blue house at the end of this block. It had an open window, presumably the kitchen, and the vanilla smell floated down to him, warm and familiar.

 

Kwangie stared up at the window, the angle nearly throwing him off balance, and he frowned. Where was Daddy? He let out a little whimper of distaste, trying to spot the way in.

 

That’s when he spotted the open garage. The electric door was raised about a foot and a half off the ground, which was just perfect for one little Kwangie. The boy leaned down, crouching as he slipped underneath and into the cool darkness. He could still smell the rain in here, but no more vanilla smell. Even if it had been in here, Kwangie was pretty sure that it would be overwhelmed by the smell of the fancy red sports car that took up the majority of the unfinished garage. In the corner was a tall table, covered in tools that would nearly all be dangerous for him to handle. But Kwangie’s attention was then entirely consumed by what he saw in front of the table, closer to him. Power Wheel toys. There was a Barbie jeep one, all pinks and purples with stickers on it, and there was a red one, which Kwangie gravitated to, because red was one of his favorite colors. Kwangie took his time clambering inside the child-sized car, his eyes wide in awe as he grappled his hand half-blindly in the dim garage, where he felt where the key thing should be that Papa turned on the car with. Papa was very proud of his car that Daddy had gotten him. He had held Kwangie in his lap once, his hand over his son’s as they had turned the key together and revved up the engine, making it rumble and cry, and making Kwangie squeal and giggle with delight.

 

He frowned in disappointment when he did not have a key that made good noises. He bounced his bottom up and down, making the little car jumble and creak, and then he saw the pedals on the floorboard. Kwangie pushed on one, not knowing it was the brake, and jiggled the wheel as best as his little hands could.

 

Kwangie wanted to drive the car, he wanted it to go fast and make good, loud noises like Papa’s car. He wanted to drive the car to Daddy, and the vanilla smell. He started babbling to himself about all these things he wanted and planned to do, turning it into a messy little song as he wriggled his bottom down the seat, toes reaching for the gas pedal.

 

~~~~~

 

“Kwangie?” Jungkook stood in the entrance to the bedroom, staring wide-eyed into the dark. One pillow had fallen onto the floor, one pillow pushed far across the bed. And no child to be seen. “Kwangie?” The panic started to filter into Jungkook’s voice. He turned the light on. He looked in the closet, under the bed. He checked every room upstairs. Feeling his heart begin to race, he thudded down the stairs and started to rush around, looking. Naiara, who was watching Sesame Street, looked over at him curiously, hugging her little plush Boots the Monkey. She watched Jungkook check the garage, the living room, the bathrooms. Maybe the bathrooms twice, just in case. He rushed into the kitchen, crawling underneath the table. Naiara watched his bottom sticking out as he dug through the blankets fruitlessly.

 

Naiara went back to her show, sitting quietly.

 

Jungkook rushed into the living room, running a hand through his hair. “Nai-nai! Have you seen Kwangie?”

 

Naiara looked up at him, then shook her head. “No.”

 

“Shit!” he swore under his breath. Then, he looked at the front door, which was still a little ajar. “Shit!”

 

Jungkook rushed toward the front door, grabbing his set of keys from the little hook near the door. “Nai-Nai, listen to me, you stay right here , okay? Gugu will be right back.”

 

“Okay,” Naiara said, not very interested in anything except Big Bird at the moment.

 

Jungkook locked the front door behind him, feeling the heat of the day hit him, as well as the cold droplets of rain. “Fuck. Shit.” How long has he been gone? It can’t have been more than half an hour. Fuck, I’m so dead. Yoongi is gonna shove my body through the pasta maker, and then Hoseok will eat me whole. Precious, precious Kwangie, the gentle, delicate, sickly boy. The son Yoongi had wanted for years, and Jungkook had just fucking lost him in under an hour. He was so dead.

 

Jungkook ran up and down the street, praying to god Kwangie was just sitting in someone’s yard. A thousand possible deaths for a one-year-old flashed through his mind, horrifying him and quickening his pace. He just couldn’t see him! It started to full on sprinkle, and then rain, and Jungkook was getting more terrified.

 

“Kwangie! Kwaaangie!” he called out anxiously, hoping to hear a little coo or yell come back at him. He listened for the gentle echo of Gugu on the air, and heard none. This wasn’t working. He couldn’t tell where he might have gone, and they were in the middle of a long street. He could have gone either direction, and it would take ages to double back if it was the wrong choice.

 

Jungkook snarled in frustration, then decided he needed a more sensitive nose. He shifted, long, gangly pale limbs darkening as he became covered in black fur. A strong, but slender-shouldered wolf with a little gray scar across one cheek. He sniffed the air, trying to discern a pack member Scent through the smell of the rain.

 

There he is .

 

Luckily for Jungkook, Kwangie’s Scent was not one that was too common to linger in the air on someone’s front lawn. The smell of fresh, crisp-paged books was wafting very faintly across the grass. It didn’t create an easy path, as he kept having to stop and double check, but at least he knew he was going the right of the two main directions.

 

I’m coming, Kwangie!

 

~~~~~

 

“Vooom vooooom!” Kwangie called out, still playing on the toy car. He could hear the sound of the rain on the driveway, could see through the gray glow spilling in underneath the garage door. The smell of dirt and mechanical equipment hung in the musky air inside, making him sneeze. But Kwangie didn’t mind it.

 

He stretched his dirty bare foot against the gas pedal, and it shot forward a short distance, whipping his head back. Kwangie giggled, surprised. He reached for it again, and the Power Wheel car knocked against the workbench next to him.

 

He sneezed again, just as there were padding footsteps nearing the outside of the garage.

 

Four black paws poked into view below the open electric door, and then a familiar black nose.

 

“Gugu!” Kwangie cried, bouncing in his driver seat. “Gugu, ca-!”

 

Jungkook shifted, ending up on his hands and knees on the littered floor of the garage as he crawled inside. He sighed in relief. “Yes, Kwangie. It’s a car. But holy….you scared me, Kwangie.”

Kwangie, meanwhile, demonstrated how he did not have possession of any fucks about that, by squealing happily and hitting the gas pedal again, whipping him forward. Jungkook, spooked by the sudden movement, automatically reached out and stopped the car with his hands against the hood, and Kwangie smiled up at him.

 

“You’re gonna be the death of me, kid. Come on.”

 

“Noooo!” Kwangie kicked his feet, pouting, but Jungkook scooped him up, nonetheless, and hugged him very tightly against his chest as he crawled back out of the garage. The two of them were instantly struck by the cool summer rain, drenched and muddy along their fronts by the time they reached the pine tree that belonged to their house.

 

Jungkook unlocked the door, Kwangie in one arm, and stepped back inside. Naiara was still watching television, and she looked over as they crossed the threshold, and her eyes widened.

 

“Kwangie?” she said.

 

Instantly, Kwangie cried.

 

It was a mix of having to be home again in the stuffy, hot house, being torn away from the cool toys, and also a reminder that he was feeling sick, just by looking at Naiara’s face. Jungkook sighed, patting the baby’s back.

 

“We’re gonna go take a quick bath, Nai-Nai. You wanna come with and we can cool off?”

Naiara, who had been feeling hot and sticky just sitting in the living room, instantly stood up, following behind Jungkook eagerly. She clambered up the stairs after him as fast as she could, and quietly went to grab hers and Kwangie’s special towels. In order to save on confusion, Kiara had created a system of color-coded towels for each family sub-unit, and a variation of that color for each family member. Namjoon’s family color was purple, so he had the darkest purple, then Kiara had a light purple, and Nai-Nai had a purple-colored towel with little tiaras on it. Hoseok’s family color was green, so Kwangie had a light green and white striped towel. She grabbed a dark blue towel for Jungkook, too, and carried them to the bathroom, where Jungkook was already stripping Kwangie of his dirt and spider web covered diaper.

 

The bathroom smelled like rain, dirt, and their combined Scents, most strongly Jungkook’s, due to his recent panic attack. Kwangie pouted as he sat in the bottom of the tub, waiting for it to fill up with hot water, and patted at Jungkook’s arm. He could smell leather and saltwater filling the tiny bathroom.

 

“Thank you, Nai-Nai,” Jungkook said, watching Naiara stand on her tiptoes to set the towels onto the sink, now a wadded mess, but there, nonetheless. They carefully slipped into the tub with Kwangie, and Jungkook very carefully washed their hair and the stickiness from their faces. Naiara, who liked bathtime, sat still with her eyes shut and her head tilted back while Jungkook poured little cups of water over her dark curls. She had a little smile on her face, until Kwangie splashed, slamming his palms against the water.

 

“Hey, mister!” Naiara shrieked. Kwangie just paused, staring at her petulantly.

 

“Kwangie, be nice,” Jungkook chided gently, already exhausted from the day. Kwangie could hear it in his voice. Silently, Kwangie reached over and grabbed a plastic toy wolf from the collection of baby-themed things that tended to accumulate at the drain of the tub, and forced the toy to swim through the water, making little noises.

 

“Gugu,” Naiara queried, holding up a plastic toy boat to offer it to him. It was full of soapy water, and he took it very gently, as if it were precious. “Diminie needs water, too.”

“No, I think Diminie got enough water for today, I already told you,” Jungkook said. He heard the front door open to the house, and he froze for a moment, listening, until he heard the jingling of keys. Then, he relaxed and continued washing the dirt off of the creases in Kwangie’s chubby neck, his other hand setting the water-logged plastic blue boat to the surface of the water. “We have to measure out the same amount every day, and not water him too much, or he’ll pee again.”

 

“But...but what if!” Naiara huffed, feeling quite distracted. She let out a puff of exasperated air, and then reached for the boat Jungkook had abandoned, dumping it out and refilling it repeatedly. “What if...he…”

 

Jungkook was sure she would have some question about if he was near the death she had learned to fear, but she was too distracted by her play to form a full question, and Jungkook smiled, reaching for more no-tear shampoo. He had almost grabbed it when a warm voice echoed through the bathroom, startling him and making him drop the shampoo into the tub.

 

“Well, aren’t you all cute?” Seokjin chuckled. He was leaning against the bathroom door frame, his arms crossed and a little plastic bag tucked over his elbow.

 

Jungkook pouted, just as Naiara started splatting bits of bubble foam against his bare chest, following by Kwangie trying to splash water at him. One child was sitting just next to his knee, the younger near his opposite foot, and all three of them were still grimy and drenched.

 

“Don’t make fun of me,” Jungkook grouched. “These pups are filthy, this was the most efficient way.”

“I know,” Seokjin said. “It’s still the cutest thing I’ve seen in forever. Made my whole day better.”

 

“Yeah?” Jungkook looked up from where he was trying to scrub Kwangie’s back clean, his expression concerned. “Was it a rough day today?”

 

Seokjin smiled. Stepping into the bathroom, setting down his bag with a crinkling sound, he knelt down, kissing Jungkook’s forehead. He didn’t answer, which was always confusing and cryptic, but he seemed to like to keep some things that way, Jungkook had realized. Jungkook lifted his face up, wordlessly asking for another kiss, this time, a peck on the lips as the pups splashed and babbled during their play.

 

“You want some help?”

 

“Yes, I think I’ve flunked enough uncle tests for the day,” Jungkook pouted. He pointed to Kwangie. “You can take that little adventurer, he seems to like you better.”

 

Seokjin wheezed in laughter, looking down as Kwangie glanced up, expression innocent as could be. “What did he do?”

 

“If you tell Hoseok or Yoongi, I’ll suffocate you in your sleep,” Jungkook said lowly, “But he ran away from home. I found him in the neighbor’s garage playing with their Power Wheels.”

 

The Alpha’s lips quirked, then wriggled, and finally he was bursting with laughter. It made Kwangie smile, looking up at him and wondering what was so funny. Seokjin’s large hand rested down against the freshly clean back, and Kwangie cooed happily, feeling comforted by the big laugh and the warm hand supporting him.

 

“Ca!” He held up the wolf toy in gift to Seokjin.

 

“No, that’s a wolf, buddy,” Seokjin giggled. “But I’ll take it anyways.” To Jungkook, he asked, “Is this gremlin clean?”

“As much as can be expected,” Jungkook sighed, pulling Naiara a little closer so he could start scrubbing her sweat and dirt away next.

 

“Okay,” Seokjin grabbed Kwangie’s striped towel, reaching in to grab the slippery and wriggly creature. “Ouuuut we go,” he grunted as he lifted the boy out of the tub, wrapping him in his oversized towel. Kwangie liked it when he got wrapped up in his towel like a little wet and warm burrito, and when Seokjin cushioned him in, and shook him back and forth, he squealed in laughter. The Alpha lifted the top of the towel up, revealing a sparkle-eyed and grinning child. He leaned down and kissed the wide forehead. “You’re squeaky clean, aren’t you?”

 

Kwangie shrieked in a wordless response. He nuzzled into the towel, gripping it around him almost fiercely. His tiny hands clutched the material, feeling the texture of it, feeling it shift beneath his fingers. He liked it. He liked it a lot.

 

Seokjin dried off the boy’s hair, making the little tufts stand up on end. Kwangie made a happy noise, throwing his head forward and splatting his face against Seokjin’s chest, making the Alpha chuckle. He lifted him up, wrapped up dry and warm in the towel, and stood up. Jungkook was just finishing in the tub with Naiara, and he let her unplug the drain, and they sat and watched the water start to slip away. Seokjin handed them their towels before taking Kwangie out of the bathroom.

 

Kwang-min laid his head against Seokjin’s chest, curled up and immobile inside the towel burrito. They went down into the living room, as the front door opened and a small crowd entered the house. Namjoon and Kiara came first, followed by Yoongi, all of whom were carrying plastic grocery bags.

 

The instant Yoongi stepped into the door, his eyes locked onto his son, and he wordlessly reached out for the green-and-white striped bundle in Seokjin’s arms. Seokjin handed him over, passing on the precious cargo. Kwangie let out a little sigh, gripping at the collar of Yoongi’s T-shirt.

 

Kwangie could hear his father’s voice rumbling against his ear, the warmth of him, the smell of freshly tilled Earth and Omega wrapping around him in familiarity.

 

“We got the travel toothbrushes and food supplies,” Yoongi was saying to Seokjin. “We should pack up and be ready to leave when Taehyung and Jimin get back from the pharmacy.”

 

“I’m all packed. I know Jungkook’s not, but he’s been babysitting today.” Seokjin ran his hand through his hair, letting out a little yawn.

 

Yoongi looked down at Kwangie, his hair still plastered wet to his round little forehead. Kwangie was laying still, eyes shut, enjoying the feeling of being wrapped in his father’s arms. Yoongi wrinkled his nose.

 

“Why did he get a bath? I bathed him this morning.”

Seokjin just shrugged nonchalantly then walked off into the kitchen to help Kiara and Namjoon, who were bickering about the best way to pack the ice chest. Kwangie squeezed at his Papa’s collar, tiny fingernails digging into Yoongi’s skin and making him hiss a little from the pinpricks of pain. But he craned his neck down to kiss Kwangie’s head, bouncing him a little.

 

“Daddy will be home soon, Kwangie, just wait a bit longer for him, okay?” He looked up, in time to see Jungkook helping Naiara down the stairs, the toddler now clothed in a soft green dress with a pocket on the front that had a sunflower on it.

 

“It’s going to be a long drive,” Jungkook explained. “I’ll bet the kids take a nap.”

“Let’s hope to god. I hated car rides as a kid.”

 

The door opened again, and Kwangie’s eyes shot open. He smelled it again, now much stronger, and closer.

 

Vanilla.

 

He cried out, “Daddy!” and wriggled in his swaddled towel, ignoring Yoongi’s shushing as he fought to find him. He had forgotten his mission from earlier that day, distracted as he was by everything. A face appeared, hooked over Yoongi’s shoulder, and the smell of Alpha and cars blanketed over Kwangie, as Hoseok beamed brightly down at him.

 

“Daddy!”

 

“Hello, Kwangie,” Hoseok chuckled. “Did you miss Daddy today?”

“Daddy!” Kwangie wrestled his hands out of his towel, reaching up to attempt to grapple at Hoseok’s nose, trying to get to him, wanting to be held. Hoseok laughed. Yoongi started to hold Kwangie out, but Hoseok raised a hand.

 

“Hold on, babe, I’m all gross and sweaty from work, and he’s just bathed.”

 

Kwangie kept screeching, even after Hoseok left the room to go rinse off. Yoongi tried to shush him, while Jungkook and Seokjin started to bring the suitcases downstairs. Taehyung and Jimin usually shared one suitcase between them, being light-packers, but since the twins had arrived, their required items list had lengthened exponentially. So one suitcase was for the parents, and a whole suitcase was for the twins. Next, Jungkook went for Kiara’s large black suitcase, all beaten up and well-used from her high school trip to Europe.

 

Yoongi tried to calm Kwangie, who was now crying and calling for his Daddy. As Jungkook reached about halfway down the stairs, Seokjin turned the corner and jolted in surprise.

 

“Jungkook!” he snapped. Jungkook looked up, eyes wide at the reprimanding tone. “What are you doing? That’s too heavy!”

 

“No it’s not,” Jungkook frowned. “It’s just big, that’s all.”

“You’ll fall, you should have two people carrying something that big down the stairs, you dumbass.”

 

“Shut up, I’ve got it, lamebrain.”

 

“Lemme help…” Seokjin sighed in exasperation, reaching out to take the lower half of the suitcase, and then promptly taking it from Jungkook’s hands and carrying it the rest of the way down the stairs.

 

“Hey!” Furrowing his brows, Jungkook followed after Seokjin, who was preoccupied with placing Kiara’s suitcase near the door. “What the fuck, Jinnie?”

 

“Nothing the fuck. I said what I said,” Seokjin turned his back on Jungkook, who, after standing for a moment flummoxed and with nothing else to react with, reached down and aggressively pinched one of Seokjin’s butt cheeks between his fingers, making the Alpha yelp.

 

Yoongi arched an eyebrow, then looked down at the crying Kwangie.

 

“Your uncles are strange, Kwangie, did you know that?”

 

Kwangie, apparently, did not know, or did not care. He sniffled, reaching up for Yoongi’s face with clenching and unclenching fists, weeping out the words, “Daddyyyy….”

 

“He’s coming, I promise,” Yoongi clucked his tongue. “Let’s get you a diaper and something to eat, sugar.”

 

But Kwangie did not want a diaper, and cried. He did not want to eat, so he cried some more. It was about the time Yoongi was getting exasperated, that Hoseok came out of the shower, a pinched frown to his face.


“The pups must have used up all the hot water,” Hoseok complained, instantly reaching his arms out to take his son from Yoongi. “I only had a lukewarm shower.”

 

Kwangie, surrounded again by the Scent of his Daddy, instantly slammed his face against Hoseok’s neck, weakly and wetly Scenting him, and sniffling. Hoseok smiled softly, patting his son’s back as he felt the light, ticklish sensation. He craned his neck down, sniffing at Kwangie’s neck, the two of them bonding a little and sinking into a feeling of belonging and familiarity. Kwangie had very quickly become quite particular about his parents’ Scents, preferring them to all others, and sometimes only able to sleep if they or something that smelled like them was near. It was a relief to Yoongi, a bit of a worry to Hoseok, who wanted him to bond with the rest of the pack, as well.

 

But for now, Kwangie let out a little sigh of relief to feel his father Scenting him, sniffing at the little upraised mark on his neck that emanated the smell of new books. He calmed down, breathing in vanilla and Alpha and Daddy for a long time, not even noticing when his eyes shut again, and they walked back to the living room.

 

Seokjin and Jungkook had moved on from their actual bickering to just playful kicks and punches, and Jimin and Taehyung had arrived, the babies in their two-kid stroller sitting and waiting with wide, confused eyes as they struggled to turn their heads and watch all the activity in the room. Naiara was following Kiara around the kitchen, holding two arms full of stuffed animals and dolls that she was bartering about bringing along, despite her mother’s strict rules on three toys only.

 

Kwangie, meanwhile, had had a very long, adventurous day. So the next thing that he knew, he was being buckled into Yoongi’s car, a blanket lovingly tucked around his carseat arm, and the strange, orange glow of the streetlights overhead. The windows were open on the car, letting the sound of crickets and the smell of wet grass and evening encompass them. Kwangie could hear Naiara fussing as she was being placed in the car. He could hear Jungkook and Seokjin’s voices as they conversed, and the sound of the trunks of the three vehicles being shut one by one. His favorite toy - a purple fidget toy that was made of a tube of mesh attached to a keychain, a little rubber ball inside for him to squeeze or suckle or move - was placed into his hand, along with a kiss being placed on his cheek. Then, Hoseok and Yoongi slipped into the front seat, and the radio was turned on low.

 

“You ready to go?” Yoongi asked his mate.

 

Hoseok, smiling over his shoulder at Kwangie’s droopy eyes, the Alpha’s face aglow with red from the dashboard lights.

 

“Ready,” he said.

 

And Kwangie? He clutched the blanket that had been tucked around him, and lolled his head to the side, exhausted from playing and heat and then running and rain, and finally seeing his parents and crying his little eyes out. Kwangie’s adventures, however, had truly just begun. In the meantime, he slept deeply, surrounded by the sounds and smells of his family, protecting him and staying near.

Chapter Text

There was the sound of birds chirping their bright song in the early morning, and Seokjin felt the hot whiteness of the sun blaring down through the window onto his face. They still didn't have curtains up in their cabin bedroom, and he was feeling all the annoyance of it. The drive to the island last night had been free of drama, but long and tiring, and everyone had been excited but exhausted when they had pulled up into the camp after midnight. The adults had unpacked the nighttime necessities as quietly as they could, leaving the non-essentials to be unloaded in the morning, and had crashed in their respective rooms.

 

Rather than separated mini cabins as before, they had decided to opt instead for a larger, conjoined cabin with rooms along a winding, thin hallway and with rooms designated for every pack sub-unit, with one unfinished wall  just temporarily covered with plywood to the side of Jungkook and Seokjin’s room, left open in preparation for the day they would need to expand their cabin labyrinth a little further.

 

He crinkled his nose, smelling the bad odor of morning breath being exhaled into his face. He opened his eyes, squinting in the light, to see Jungkook drooling into his pillow, looking peaceful and as dead to the world as he could be. Licking his own lips, dry from sleep, Seokjin planted a brief little kiss on his mate’s brow and carefully clambered out of their bed.

 

The sound of percolating coffee was already in the air, and he smelled it as soon as he set a bare foot into the living room. The design in what had once been the main cabin was much the same as it had been, with a large open kitchen along the wall to the main entrance. Modern couches spread about, now matching. A contemporary fireplace set up, all clean and ready for cold nights and ashes, with a black grate across the front that hadn't yet been covered in a curve of soot from burnings past, but which soon would be.

 

The scent of coffee emanated from the place where Hoseok was standing, hair mussed from sleep, only wearing a pair of black boxers as he scratched at his stomach and stared out the window, waiting for the coffee to percolate. Seokjin walked up behind Hoseok, his feet shuffling on the new polished wood floors. Hoseok didn't even need to glance over his shoulder, smelling Seokjin’s Scent of fresh soap even before Seokjin’s chin hooked over his shoulder, humming contentedly as he inhaled.

 

“Morning, Jinnie,” Hoseok said.

 

“Morning, Seokkie.”

 

“You want some coffee?” The younger Alpha offered, running a hand through his bangs. Seokjin, so easily reduced to a soft and playful aura around Hoseok, let out a happy little hum of assent.

 

“It's almost done.”

 

“You sleep alright?”

 

“With Yoongi’s bony ankles wrapped around me and Kwangie having to be held all night so he'd stop fussing?” Hoseok chuckled, then considered for a moment. “Yeah, I slept well. Probably the best I've slept in weeks.”

 

Seokjin made an acknowledging noise in his throat, but fell silent. He thought about how Jungkook still hadn't noticed his own changes. He thought about the blanket, that was hidden away in his backpack. He thought about if he could handle sleepless nights paired with the long hours at work.

 

“Were you ever worried, about having Kwangie? Like… having pups was what Yoongi wanted, right?”

 

Hoseok looked over to his shoulder, where Seokjin’s soft and sleepy face still rested. “It was more important to him , yes. But we wouldn't have had pups if I wasn't totally on board, too. Kwangie wouldn't have deserved that.”

 

“True…” Seokjin considered that. “And you're happy now.”

 

The coffee stopped percolating, the dark liquid sloshing around as Hoseok slipped it out of the machine and starting pouring it into two mugs for them. “Well, I wouldn't say it's the kind of happiness for everyone,” he said quietly. “It's okay to be happy with or without kids.”

 

“I didn't mean that,” Seokjin corrected. “And don't… don't worry about us so much. I was just asking about you.”

 

Hoseok held out one mug to Seokjin, who took it carefully. He gave a tight little smile, his eyes still tinged with concern. “Okay. I'm just saying, nothing's incomplete between you two if you decide not to have pups. If you want pups, however, then of course I encourage you two to keep trying. But it's okay if you decide not to. That's all I meant.”

 

“Right…” Seokjin bit his bottom lip, tempted to tell Hoseok what he already knew, and no one else did. That Jungkook was already carrying their first child, and didn't even know it yet.

 

But he couldn't. Jungkook had to be the one he told first.

 

“Who is in charge of the cooler for the picnic today?” Seokjin asked, finally shifting off Hoseok’s shoulder so he could put some sugar into his coffee.

 

“Kiara, although I'll be manning the grill most of the time.”

 

Seokjin nodded, sipping his coffee once he had properly sweetened and creamed it up. Hoseok stood nearby, staring out the picture window. There was a bird somewhere nearby, and they could hear her singing, but they couldn't see her. Perhaps, Seokjin thought, it was a young bird setting up her nest, like the old abandoned nest that had decorated the front porch before. He hoped they would one day soon hear the soft little chaotic mingle of peeps from her freshly born hatch. But that was a long way off, yet.

 

There was a gentle pattering of feet just behind them, and Seokjin turned in time to see Kwangie throw himself around Seokjin’s bare legs, clinging to him. He chuckled, patting the tangled head of hair.

 

“Morning, Kwangie.”

 

The baby just nuzzled his face in, then looked up with the disgruntled face that meant that he was hungry. Seokjin set his cup down on the counter, lifting Kwangie up with one arm and settling him down onto his small hips. Kwangie kept slipping just slightly as Seokjin started hunting around the refrigerator to see what he could have for breakfast.

 

“He can have eggs, but no sugar cereals,” Hoseok said gently. “Too much milk makes his stomach upset.” To Kwangie, he leaned down and brushed his fingers across the chubby cheek. “Is Uncle Jinnie going to make you breakfast?”

 

Kwangie just answered with a big yawn that twisted half of his face. Hoseok chuckled, pouring orange juice into a sippy cup for his son.

 

The rest of the family woke up in slow mini-groups, with Jungkook, Yoongi and Kiara being among the last to stumble out of the bedrooms, rubbing their eyes and muttering about wanting sustenance. The pups were already curiously exploring, having been asleep or mostly-asleep when they arrived. Kwangie in particular, once fed, was determined to explore every nook, with Naiara spending extra time during breakfast trying to share every other bite with Jimin. Jimin already had a bowl of his own, but he had a half-filled spoon shoved into his face every few seconds, interrupting his conversation with Taehyung, and he couldn't tell Naiara no. She shoved every bite in with happy fervor, scooped up another spoonful and then held it out to him again, with a loud, “Diminie, open!” repeated every time.

 

“Kwangie, what are you doing?” Hoseok asked, seeing the young boy with his mouth wrapped around the edge of new coffee table. The boy paused, his teeth poking out from under his snarling lips as he looked up at Hoseok. The Alpha sighed, but there was amusement in his eyes. “You're gonna tear up the new furniture right off the bat.”

 

“It's fine,” Seokjin said, curling up on the couch up against Jungkook, who was sitting there blearily blinking and waiting for the (extremely well-sweetened) coffee to sink in. “It adds character to the furniture.”

 

“As long as he doesn't lose any teeth in the process, I think it's fine,” Jungkook yawned. “Wait, wouldn't they be baby teeth anyways?”

 

“It's still not something we aim for him to lose,” Hoseok rolled his eyes, nudging his son off the coffee table and sticking a pacifier into his mouth. The boy started chewing on it mercilessly. “Plus, Yoongi has sensitive teeth, so Kwangie may have inherited that.”

 

“Yoongi has sensitive teeth? I didn't know that.” Seokjin, having finished his own cup of coffee, started eyeing the cup being nursed in Jungkook’s hands.

 

“Yeah, he uses this special toothpaste and-- Kwangie!” Hoseok snapped, reaching out to stop Kwangie from beating roughly on the table with a metal spoon he had acquired. He was slapping the table roughly, but as soon as he had his father’s attention, he ceased and sat down quietly, as though he had exhausted all his saved energy.

 

Meanwhile, Seokjin wordlessly slipped the coffee out of Jungkook’s hands, stealing a big gulp of it before Jungkook could do more than whimper a grouchy protest. Instantly, Seokjin made a disgusted face, handing the cup back over in much less than the triumph he had hoped for.

 

“That's sugar water, what the hell, Kook,” he stuck out his tongue in distaste. He didn't see Kwangie do the same, watching him as he dropped the pacifier out of his mouth as he stuck out his tiny tongue, too.

 

“It's how I drink my coffee,” Jungkook growled.

 

“Wait,” Kiara, who was sitting on the ground at Jungkook and Seokjin’s feet to watch the pups, suddenly wrinkled her nose, craning her head around to sniff. Her curly red hair trailed down into Jungkook's lap, and he held the cup still so she could smell at it. She smiled fondly up at him. “That's the way Joonie takes his coffee. Cute.”

 

Jungkook seemed a little flustered at that, a shy smile creeping up his face as he looked away.

 

Seokjin just chuckled and curled in closer against him, enjoying the soft redness of the tips of Jungkook’s ears. As he sat and smiled over at him, he realized it might have been cravings. A shift in hormones. He leaned in and nuzzled his nose against the little space behind Jungkook’s ear, and he was able to smell it, the smell that didn't really have a good description or way to explain it. It just was . And what it was , was “baby.”

 

Seeing Jungkook sipping at his sugary sweet milk with minimal actual coffee, he considered telling him right then and there, just mentioning casually and gleefully to him that perhaps he should watch his caffeine intake for the next several months, tell him to not stay in the sun too long today. Tell him he loved him and was scared shitless as much as he was bubbling with excitement.

 

All of this thought process conspired in the space of a few select moments, before Jungkook slipped out of Seokjin’s reach and stood up to start helping to prepare for their beach barbecue.

 

Seokjin sat, watching the pups play around the living room, and thought maybe it was for the best to wait until the right moment.

 

~~~~~

 

“Dear God,” Yoongi groaned dramatically, already opening up his family sized rainbow beach umbrella as soon as they stepped out of the shelter of the trees. “Why is the sun like this to us? We've done nothing to him.” Yoongi continued grumbling, Hoseok close behind him with a soft smile as he bounced Kwangie on his hips. Yoongi laid out a few beach towels, dropped the three different containers of sunscreen out of his pockets, and buried the umbrella deep into the sand on their little beach. It was a semi-private island, which came with the confidence of seclusion but also the fuss of untended-to debris that had washed up along the shore.

 

“Let's get a few people to watch the pups while we clean up a bit,” suggested Namjoon, standing at the edge of the beach towels and looking out along the beach. He looked bigger yet softer somehow, with a half-unbuttoned light blue shirt and brightly striped red swimming trunks, long legs seeming to stretch on further than they usually did. Naiara clung to one of his knees, wearing an ironically Frozen-themed swimsuit with Anna on it, and one red sandal kicked off and half tucked under the rumpled beach towel. The hot sand was painful on her now barren foot, and she was fussing even as she kept going back to drag her toes through it.

 

“Daddy!” she whimpered, and he laid a hand on her head to soothe her.

 

“Any volunteers for baby watch?” Namjoon asked.

 

Yoongi raised a hand, already seated cross-legged under the umbrella, safe from the bright sun. “I'm setting up a sunscreen station, so let me get the beach combers first so they don't get forgotten.” As he spoke, Jungkook was walking past, and with barely a glance Hoseok, who was sitting next to Yoongi, snatched the hem of Jungkook’s swimming trunks and made him stop in his tracks. “You first, sit down.”

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes but complied, sitting in front of Yoongi as the older Omega grabbed one of the sunscreens, squirting it out onto his palms before rubbing it on to Jungkook’s bare back. Kwangie, who had been sitting nearby, crinkled his nose at the sudden summer-y smell of sunscreen, moving forward to hold Jungkook’s arm and watch his father rub the white cream into Jungkook’s skin. Jungkook glanced over at Kwangie, smiling in amusement at how amazed and wide eyed Kwangie looked. Yoongi’s fingers were long and soft as they worked the sunscreen in, and Jungkook made Kwangie giggle when he covered his sizeable nose with more sunscreen than necessary, leaving it covered in white.

 

After Jungkook came Seokjin, then Namjoon and Kiara, who headed off to separate sides of their little beach to start dragging away washed up branches, plastic bags and trash and heavily drag them upshore. The actual trash had to be brought back to the umbrella, where Hoseok had set up a trash can.

 

Yoongi had Jimin in front of him, making sure Jimin’s neck was covered while Jimin himself rubbed sunscreen on to his stomach, Taehyung waiting his turn and readjusting his designer-knock-off sunglasses on the bridge of his nose the nth time. The twins were set up in their strollers nearby, the fabric meant for shade pulled down low over them as they blinked and stared at the huge vastness of the noisy sea. Taehyung kept one hand protectively resting against the front of the stroller, his long fingertips brushing up against Joonhee’s tiny and hilarious swimsuit-diaper, a waterproof invention that neither he nor Jimin were looking forward to cleaning later.

 

Hoseok was sitting inside the shade of the Sunscreen Station, mostly there to keep Kwangie and Naiara from wandering off too soon. Every few minutes they would try to wander off toward the oncoming waves, quickly scooped up into Hoseok’s arms before they could reach the line of dark, dampened sand.

 

“Just a little longer, okay?” Hoseok attempted to soothe them, but sitting in the shade instead of playing in the water appeals to very few young pups, and they pouted and sighed as they stared at the waves.

 

Down along the beach, the beachcomber teams were making some progress.

 

“You need some help?” Jungkook said, making Seokjin look up from where he had been struggling to drag a huge, gnarled and slippery piece of driftwood. It was pretty much the entirety of a young, rotted tree, and he would have preferred a second hand. If only that second hand wasn't Jungkook at the moment.

 

“I've got it,” he said with a smile, grunting as he tugged as hard as he could on the driftwood, and it didn't move more than an inch, caught somehow in the weight of the sand that had been swept up to tuck it into the beach like a child tucked into it's bed for the night. Jungkook rolled his eyes, crouching down into the sand, positioning himself to push hip-first against the tree to use his weight to his advantage. The second his stomach pressed up against the roots of the tree, Seokjin jolted forward with a cry, surprising the Omega.

 

“Stop!” he snapped, feeling embarrassed at the outburst but attempting recovery. “Don't push like that, you'll…there was a crab down in the roots. I saw it earlier.”

 

Jungkook snorted. “I'm not afraid of a tiny crab, Jinnie. I'm much bigger than him, I promise I can handle it.” The sass in his voice was accompanied by a mocking smirk. “I'd be more afraid of what Namjoon would do to me if I injured sea life unnecessarily.”

 

“Just. I got it, so stop.”

 

The smile, a moment ago so free and unbothered, suddenly cascaded down into a frown. “Hey, what's with you lately, huh? You're acting like if I touch anything I'm gonna fuck it up.”

 

“No, I'm not. I just don't need you to help me with this. It's more efficient if you go grab something else.”

 

“Bullshit. You don't want me to help. You're being really weird.” Jungkook stood up, fists clenched at his sides. “And I dunno why, but it's pissing me off.”

 

“I am not,” Seokjin snapped back. “Now just go find something else to carry.”

 

Instead of walking off, Jungkook stood, arms crossed, and watched Seokjin stubbornly - and futilely - tug on the driftwood. It moved barely a foot at a time, despite his best tugs. Just to add to the irritation, Jungkook shuffled over and sat down on a dip in the trunk, arms crossed.

 

“Move your fat ass,” Seokjin growled.

 

“Make me,” Jungkook snarled back, looking anything but playful. Their tempers flared in a volcanic eruption, and suddenly Jungkook shot forward, tackling Seokjin to the ground and roughly trying to pin his arms down onto the burning sand. Grunts and scuffling sounds accompanied the slight slap of their arms and hands bumping up against each other, and the sun shone directly down into his eyes as he felt the rough grapple of Jungkook’s hold on him, enough to be more of a fight than the others would do, but not intending any real damage.

 

“Jungkook! Seokjin!” Jimin called out, him and Taehyung rushing down the shoreline over to them.

 

Using his bent knees to his advantage, Seokjin shoved his shin in between Jungkook’s legs, vaulting the Omega up and over, a loud “Oomph!” as Jungkook faceplanted into the sand next to Seokjin’s shoulder. Seokjin sat up quickly, in time to see Jungkook lift himself up out of the sand, the white sunscreen on his nose now rubbed off and sticky with sand granules, and his mouth filled with the dirt as well. He spat, face twisted in disgust as he attempted to clean his face up. Seeing that he wasn't actually hurt from the scuffle, Seokjin sighed in relief.

 

“You two are ridiculous, what happened now ?” Jimin sighed, Taehyung looking over his shoulder at the huge piece of driftwood.

 

“Jungkook attacked me,” Seokjin pouted, as at the same time Jungkook snarled, “Seokjin is being stubborn.”

 

Jimin rolled his eyes. “Seriously? You ate sand because of some bickering?”

 

“I'd make you eat sand because of bickering,” Taehyung joked, setting his chin on Jimin’s shoulder and smirking at Seokjin. “Just let him help, Seokjin. He's been working out extra hard to impress you.”

 

“I have not!” Jungkook snapped. “I've just been gaining some weight lately, and I dunno why, and--”

 

Jungkook froze. The others stared at him for a long moment, and Seokjin shuffled in a little closer to where the Omega knelt, covered in sand and greasy sunscreen. He was starting to piece it together. Seokjin smiled.

 

“What?” Jimin pressed. “Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah, I'm…” Jungkook’s voice sounded a little unsure, a little small. A little distant. Seokjin scooted in closer, and set his hand in a feign of casual air onto Jungkook's thigh. “I've just been… a little moody, I guess.”

 

At a loss, Jimin just shook his head. He opened his mouth, probably to give them another mini lecture on proper pack behavior and respect for how they were an example to the pups, when Jungkook shot up from his place in the sand, grabbing roughly at Seokjin’s wrist and tugging him along, yelling a breathless, “Be right back!” over his shoulder.

 

As they raced back toward the main cabin, they passed a slow-moving Yoongi, who was shuffling and wriggling a barbecue grill down to the beach, with Kwangie close behind him, waddling along with his round horse floatie gripped around his waist.

 

“Yoongi,” Hoseok called out in reprimanding warning, “You're not going to hide behind the grill all day. You're gonna get in the water with Kwangie.”

 

Yoongi gave a dramatic sigh just as Jungkook and Seokjin raced past, nearly bumping into him. He called out a question, which Seokjin couldn't hear, and suddenly the two mates were back at the cabin.

 

The door slammed shut, Seokjin blinking his eyes roughly to help them adjust to the sudden dimness of the inside of the cabin. The smell of fresh wood still seeped throughout the whole building, but instead, all Seokjin could smell was Jungkook's Omega Scent, washing over him with leather and saltwater as Jungkook moved in close, grabbing Seokjin’s cheeks in his hands.

 

“You knew?! You knew?!” he said repeatedly. Seokjin grinned down at him. Jungkook’s eyes were as wide as saucers, and his mouth fell agape. “How long did you know?”

 

Seokjin chuckled, his thick lips pursed in Jungkook’s grip, rendering it hard to talk, so he slowly lowered Jungkook’s hands.

 

“A few weeks now. Well, I don't know absolutely-one-hundred-percent for sure, but--”

 

“The suitcases!” Jungkook shrieked. “And the fucking tree! You've been hinting at it right in my face!”

 

He gave another laugh at Jungkook’s expense. “I guess I wasn't being very subtle, hm? But that's okay…” he leaned forward, kissing Jungkook’s still-sand-covered forehead, then brushing the bangs aside. “You don't have to be subtle when the other person is being an oblivious dummy. And that person is one Jungkook.”

 

“Oh my god…” Jungkook’s face suddenly lit up into a broad smile, his face taut and bright with it. “We're having pups! After all this time!”

 

“You say that like it's been decades,” Seokjin mocked. “But yes, I'm happy, too.”

 

We're having pups!!” The Omega cried out, suddenly bubbling with excitement.

 

Seokjin opened his mouth to make another playful comment, not sure what else to do with himself but make jokes in the face of such happy news, but suddenly Jungkook’s mouth was on his, and his hands were in Seokjin's hair, pushing him roughly back against the front door with a loud clatter. Something fell to the ground, and they ignored it, as Seokjin felt Jungkook’s hands wandering, roughly and frantically, against the front of his swimming trunks, quicky starting a rhythm of passionate teasing that was stealing the breath from Seokjin’s lungs.

 

“You still have sand in your mouth,” Seokjin huffed, when Jungkook allowed him to breath for a second. But Jungkook ignored him, eyes sparkling as they met Seokjin’s.

 

Pups ,” he whispered. “ Our pups.”

 

Seokjin gave another smile. “Our pups.”

 

Jungkook acted as if the words were a signal, like letting a racehorse out of the gate, and he flew back forward to kiss Seokjin again, letting the Alpha feel his excitement as well as hear it. Seokjin moved off the door, only to turn them around and push Jungkook back up against it with another clattering sound and a moan from the Omega, his legs suddenly wrapping around Seokjin’s waist as he let himself be lifted and pinned against the door.

 

“Thank God,” Jungkook said breathily. “I couldn’t,” another kiss. “Fucking,” he moaned a little, as Seokjin pressed up harder against him. “Wait.”

 

“Me, neither.” Seokjin exhaled a little moan, as he started to mouth at Jungkook’s neck, then made a face when he got a tongue-full of sunscreen instead of his mate’s usual saltiness. “Ick. You taste nasty right now.”

 

“Very romantic, Jinnie, why don't you--” Jungkook suddenly stopped, hearing a sound that seemed to be coming from further inside the cabin. Seokjin and Jungkook blinked at each other, concerned, since everyone should have been down at the beach.

 

“Is someone up here?” Seokjin whispered.

 

“No idea,” Jungkook whispered back. “Do you think they heard?”

 

Seokjin didn't answer, his lips pressing together as he gave a furtive sniff, trying to catch the whiff of an unfamiliar scent. When another crashing noise came, along with a cry, Seokjin blinked.

 

“Oh.” Seokjin managed to squeak. “Shit.”



Chapter Text

It hadn't taken very long for Namjoon to find an excuse. Naiara was being watched by multiple uncles, everyone else was busy down at the beach, so the moment that they headed out of sight, Namjoon snatched up his mate's hand and started tugging her back toward the cabin.

 

“Joonie?” she queried, turning to him with a confused smile. In her free hand she had grabbed a muddied plastic bag, and had been dutifully filling it with debris and trash. “What is it?”

 

Namjoon kept tugging her away from the beach and toward the treeline, their footsteps thick and heavy from sand as Kiara followed him. Once their feet hit grass and pebbles, their speed picked up, and he made a beeline for the cabin. The smell of Namjoon's Scent of firewood smoke encompassed them, along with the incumbent smell of freshly lumbered wood from the recently rebuilt cabin. Namjoon pressed Kiara up against the door as soon as it was shut, his chest pressing firmly against her until he was resting heavily against her chest. He could feel the rumble of her giggle vibrate through her as she smiled against his lips.

 

“I missed you,” he whispered.

 

“You see me every day, Namjoon,” she protested playfully. “Don't you know? Me, the mother of your child?”

 

“Yes, but lately, we've been busy and distracted, and…” As natural as always, his hand blindly found hers, scooping her smaller one into his so that he could trace his thumb across the back of her fingers. “You look particularly beautiful today.”

 

Kiara, flustered at the compliment and obviously trying to appear as if she wasn't, let out a scoffing sound, rolling her eyes. Dramatically, she pressed, “Where did you even come from, sir? How dare you speak to me so?”

 

Namjoon just smiled, leaning in to meet her lips again in another kiss, this one less frantic, properly savored. He could taste her in his mouth, a flavor all her own and tinged with the morning toothpaste from when she'd been getting herself and Naiara ready. He felt her slotting her knee between his legs, felt her hands exploring him. She trailed her fingers along his waist, catching at his waist band, then reached up to brush up and across his chest, until she found enough ample muscles in his pecs to give a good hard squeeze and make him jolt in surprise. She giggled maniacally, biting at his lip.

 

“Why don't we…” she pushed forward into him, kissing him again, “Finish what we started the other day, hm?”

 

Namjoon felt all the blood in his body rush past his ears and head south, and suddenly they were locking the door to their room of the cabin. Dim and heavy with the smell of the fresh wood, they entangled themselves together in a frantic, youthful tackle that was all arms and legs and Kiara squeaking in delighted surprise as they thudded around. The bed frame creaked and groaned against the polished flooring, and Namjoon's heart raced as Kiara removed her top, and he leaned in to bury his face between her breasts and inhale the deep, lovely scent of her as lovingly as humanly possible. Her hands were held softly in his hair, and he laid kisses to each soft mound as if he was leaving a blessing there.

 

“Namjoon,” she hummed. He let out a loose growl in response. Gently, he held the dark-colored nipple between his teeth, and Kiara arched her back, tilting up her chin as she let out a happy and soft moan. He released one hand from the entanglement of the sheets and slipped it into the easy-giving elastic on the bottom of her two piece swimsuit, taking a moment to run the pad of his thumb across her hip bone. He mouthed wetly around her breast, suckling sounds that seemed louder than usual filling up the quiet of the room.

 

He growled out her name once, twice, and peppered her lips and cheek with kisses even as the tips of his fingers circled against her in firm, purposeful movements. She wriggled her hips, red hair now tangled. Namjoon pulled the bottom of her swimsuit away, dropping it to the floor beside the bed. When he arched his back to lower down and place his mouth between her legs, he could smell the beautiful scent of sex and fresh coffee. The loud gasps and moans that flew from her lips were like music to his ears, and their swimsuits fell to the floor. Her legs curled up and around his torso, locking together as she drew him down closer to her. The bed creaked and whined, getting louder as Kiara cried out.

 

They didn’t even hear the sound of the door opening and shutting, nor the clatter of something falling to the ground just inside the cabin’s main door.

 

Kiara ran her hands through Namjoon’s hair, pulling on it a little at the roots as she licked her lips, trembling beneath his mouth. “F-fuck, Joon…” She rolled her eyes back, groaning as he slipped fully inside of her. This placed his face closer to hers, and she smiled up at him, biting her lip. He planted his arms on either side of her head, allowing him to thrust deeper, and she cried out again. The bed slammed against the wall in a rhythmic clatter, and she gasped his name, craning her neck up to hungrily plant her face against the muscular mounds of his chest, biting at his nipple and making his thrusts all the messier, feeling him grow closer and closer to his climax.

 

The thrusts made his chest crash roughly against her face, and she could smell and taste the developing sweat of his skin as she playfully pressed into him, making it easier for her to bury her face in the quivering muscles there. She could live there forever, smiling as she bit at his nipple again, hearing him relinquish that deep growl that he saved for the rare, meaningful occasion, and he thrust up into her so hard that something wooden in the bed started to crackle.


~~~

 

Meanwhile, Seokjin looked at Jungkook, their faces turning red where they stood just inside the cabin door. The sounds in the room Kiara and Namjoon shared was quite obviously the bed thudding against the wall, and they could hear each moan, although they were muffled through the walls.

 

“Shit, shit, shit,” Seokjin whispered in a panic, pushing at Jungkook’s arm. “Get out! Quick!”

 

Jungkook barely contained a snort of laughter as they frantically scuffled their way out of the cabin, and away from the sounds of their leader crying out in orgasmic relief. As they started to walk back down to the beach, Jungkook started to laugh.

 

“Holy shit, do you think they heard us?” Seokjin wheezed.

 

“I have no idea,” Jungkook managed through his laugher, nearly doubled over and now leaning against Seokjin for support. “But I think they broke their bed already.”

 

Seokjin wiped a hand over his face, his skin reddening from a mix of embarrassment and intense amusement. It was a warm feeling, escaping the awkward scene they had just witnessed, sharing in the mirth and hilarity with his mate.

 

“So,” Jungkook said after a moment, curling into Seokjin and bumping against him a little roughly. “When do we tell the others?”

 

“Well…” Seokjin smirked. “I might have a bit of an idea for that. Let’s talk about it tonight.”

 

It took them most of the walk back to the beach to settle down, and by the time they returned, Jimin and Taehyung had returned from their beach combing. Jimin frowned as they approached, complaining about being ditched to do the majority of the work, and the two of them weakly attempted to apologize.

 

“And where are Namjoon and Kiara?” Hoseok asked, Kwangie wriggling about in his arms as he squinted down the beach. “I can’t see them.”

“Uh, I think they decided to clear the beach further down, is all,” Seokjin lied, smiling. “It’s fine, between all of us, there’s plenty of adults to watch the kids.” He leaned down, scooping up Naiara from where she had been attempting to build a sandcastle from dry sand (which resulted in a sad little sand-pile, and nothing more) and placing her up on his shoulders. She squealed, kicking her feet a little and looping her arms under his chin so she could hold on. “Let’s get in the water already!”

 

“YEAH!” Naiara shrieked, more than a little tired of sitting on the hot, sticky beach. Taehyung and Jimin took one twin each, their matching full-body floaties squeaking as they walked toward the water. Jungkook followed after Seokjin and Naiara, and Hoseok handed Kwangie over to Yoongi, who was wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat to try and cover his face and neck.

 

“Papa!” Kwangie called out, clutching the towel Yoongi had wrapped around his shoulders. He pointed over to the sparkling ocean waters, the waves rushing up against the shore.

 

“That’s right, Kwangie,” Yoongi said, Hoseok following a few steps behind them. “It’s the ocean !”

 

With the pups in arm, they shuffled as a pack directly into the cool, salty tide, splashing up with their legs and making the children scream with delight. The water felt so nice, compared to the stickiness of the hot day.

 

After awhile, Seokjin could feel Naiara wriggling, trying to get free of her perch on his shoulders, so he led the way through the gentle waves to a small outcrop of rocks, which severed off most of the tide and made it gentler and shallower. He let Naiara down, plopping her into the water, and she instantly started paddling with her little arms and feet, her floatie keeping her small torso lifted to help her. She had learned how to swim properly when she was still a baby, but that was in a calm pool, not in a dangerous ocean. So the floatie was a non-compromisable point, and Seokjin also kept her within arms reach, even as she gently bobbed along the top of the small waves that pressed into their mini-alcove.

 

Kwangie was soon released as well, and they doggy-paddled around each other, coughing periodically as they caught saltwater in their mouths. It wasn’t long before they were spinning in short circles, playing as hard as they could. Jungkook and Seokjin served as the two goalposts in their attempts to out-swim each other, with Kwangie struggling to keep his head up as he tried to mimic the swimming skills of his best friend. Hoseok and Yoongi quietly offered him encouragements, as Yoongi mostly crouched down into the water, trying to avoid the heat.

 

Jimin held onto Joonhee, Taehyung hugging Taeyeon to his bare chest, and they both crouched and spun in the water, making the infant twins gasp and shriek at the sudden cold. Joonhee reached out her arms, trying hard to splash at the water, and kicking her legs with powerful determination, making Jimin beam down at her, kissing the little nub of her arm sweetly.

 

“What do you think, Joonhee? Is the water fun?” Jimin asked. Joonhee made little gurgle noises, acknowledging her father, and looking up at him with huge eyes as she continued to kick both feet out. Right. Left. Right. Left. A quick little rhythm that had her quickly breathless. Jimin hugged her close, spinning them down until the water reached up to their chins, and Joonhee’s eyes widened further, as she flailed in concern, before flopping up against her father. One hand gripped tightly around his neck, the other arm thrown around his shoulder as she shrieked. The sound was worried at first, but bubbled into laughter when she heard her father chuckle, washing away her concerns.

 

“We’re gonna teach you to swim soon, Joonhee, won’t that be fun? The water is so fun, right?”

 

Again, more happy gurgles, as he stood partway up, the water now below his waist and out of Joonhee’s reach. She kicked hard, straining to bend over one way, trying to swipe at the oncoming wave with one arm.

 

“Oh, Taeyeon!” Taehyung murmured, making Jimin look their direction. The baby was coughing and spluttering, her face a disgusted look as she slapped one hand against Taehyung’s bare chest. “The water doesn’t taste good, sweetie. It’s very salty, huh?” Blinking hard through watery eyes, Taeyeon looked up at him, smacking her lips and furrowing her brow, and making Taehyung throw his head back in a deep belly laugh of amusement. Jimin shook his head.

 

“She’ll put literally anything into her mouth, watch out for seaweed and jellyfish.”

 

“Oh, I am, I promise,” Taehyung chuckled. He moved them closer to Jimin, raising Taeyeon up and down so she could feel the water rushing up around her. “She likes it, though. I wanna build a sand castle with them.”

“As long as she isn’t eating the sand castle, I think that’s a great idea.” Jimin said, his voice deep with warmth. Taehyung looked up at his tone for a moment, then leaned in, pressing his lips to Jimin’s in a quick and tender kiss. Joonhee kicked her legs harder, her one-track-mind bound and determined to escape and enjoy the water as soon as possible. The wind blew through Jimin’s hair, carrying the lovely cool smell of the sea with it. But also along with that smell came a strange sound.

 

Taehyung looked up at the same time Jimin did, spying the motorboat out onto the water, hearing the engine and the sound of distant shouts and whoops, the blurry sight of tanned arms waving into the air. Jimin felt the hairs on his arms raise in alarm and concern, and Taehyung stared stony-faced at the passing boat.

 

“What?” Jungkook’s eye were wide like saucers as he kept one hand on Kwangie, who was kicking his legs frantically to try and swim out of his uncle’s grip. “Who’s that?”

Seokjin looked over his shoulder, joining the others in glaring suspiciously at the passing boat, which was now shrinking out of sight as it curved around the island in its path.

 

“Probably just one of the other packs on the island,” he said, shrugging and speaking in a voice that was nonchalant. But the stiffness of his movements told another story. “They’re just hanging out, probably.”

 

“I thought they come mostly in the fall?” Jimin watched Taehyung sink down until he was at Taeyeon’s eye level, holding the baby with her head above the waves. He could see worry was starting to wash over the playing family, and he felt a wave of ice wash through him like a winter breeze. “Oh, well. I guess it’s just spring break or something.”

 

“Oh, yeah, it’s not a big deal.” Seokjin looked up and smiled over at Jimin. Then, more to all of them than just any one person, he reassured, “It’s fine, everyone. They’re just enjoying the hot day, too.”

 

Jungkook continued to watch Seokjin’s body language like a man trying to read the fine print on a contractual agreement for the next several minutes, while the others returned to keeping a close eye on the pups that were splashing with increasing wildness. Jimin caught the scent of Seokjin’s concern, though he pretended to ignore it. He wasn’t exactly sure how it was organized, but he had always been under the impression that the other packs communicated with Namjoon on when they would be on the island. It wasn’t a bad thing that they were there, necessarily, of course. But it definitely made things simpler when there wasn’t another pack’s scents mixing in on the wind with your own pack, especially on such a small island. The other packs had both spoken and unspoken agreements, he supposed. But all he knew was, it felt very off to know another pack was on the island at the same time. He wondered if the adult wolves would still be going on their hunt this trip.

 

There was also another strange scent in the air, and Jimin looked up, sniffing a little, and trying to figure it out.

 

Taehyung noticed his movements, and quirked an eyebrow. “What’s up?”

Jimin couldn’t describe it. It was just a strange smell, vague and only there for brief moments, as if taunting him with information on the edges of his senses. He squinted at the outcrop of rock just behind Jungkook and Seokjin, trying to see if there was movement or anything that direction. Jungkook was laughing his loud, free laugh as Naiara wriggled and shrieked her way through attempting to jump from Seokjin’s arms to Jungkook’s and back. His head was thrown back, arms spread wide to catch the child.

 

Jimin narrowed his eyes. “I dunno. Must be nothing.”

Taehyung just stared at him for a moment, then reached over and tweaked one of Jimin’s nipples, making him jolt in surprise.

 

“Hey! That’s mine!”

 

“For the moment,” Taehyung said with a playful smirk, shrugging and turning away to spin Taeyeon through the water, making her gurgle happily.

 

Jimin rolled his eyes, carefully leaning in and around Taehyung’s shoulder and pressing a kiss to his cheek. Taehyung tilted his head, insisting on a proper on-the-lips kiss as a follow-up.

 

There was a splashing sound, and then a thump against Jimin’s hip, and he looked down to see Naiara attempting to half-wriggle, half-swim her way between them, her arm floaties keeping her adrift.

 

“Diminie!” she called out, “Push me!”

 

He reached down, carefully pushing her forward so that she rushed and floated over an oncoming mini-wave, and she giggled, her curls all coiled in the water and falling into her eyes.

 

“Again! Again!”

 

After half a dozen more ‘agains,’ Jimin looked up to see Taehyung shuffling through the water on his way to the shore. With one arm starting to ache from holding Joonhee, and the other tiring of pushing Naiara like a messy, wriggling little boogie board over the waves, he scooped her up into the crook of his elbow and said, “Wanna go help build sandcastles with Tae-Tae?”

 

“No!” Naiara declared, happy to play in the water and trying to shake off Jimin’s arm, which threatened to remove her from such a fantastic playtime. She held out her arms to Jungkook, who was preoccupied with splashing back and forth with Seokjin for the moment, and called out to him in a breathless little babble. Once he was sure Naiara was covered by one adult, he pushed his way through the rest of the water toward where Taehyung was sitting with Taeyeonnie in his lap. He had her propped up between his crossed legs, and the two of them were very seriously starting to scoop up the water in their hands. Taeyeon’s hands, tiny and without much control, patted at the sand almost as much as the heels of her tiny feet did, and she gave little musical sounds to punctuate her patting. Just one of Taehyung’s hands was so big, Jimin swore the two together could still utterly encapsulate Taeyeon, like she was a tiny Thumbelina and he was the parent who had waited so long for her. Jimin smiled softly, feeling the drag and squelch of the water on his swimming trunks as he neared.

 

“You’re a bit close to the water,” he advised, sitting next to them. “The tide will come in pretty fast.”

 

“The sand has to be wet, or it won’t stick right.” Taehyung didn’t even look up from his project with his daughter, even patiently watching her destroy the pile he had just patted down into a rough tower shape. “We need buckets and stuff.”

 

“Yoongi bought some,” Jimin said with a smile. “He’ll probably bring them out in a bit.”

 

“Leave it to Yoongi, he’s like a human toybox,” Taehyung chuckled. They fell into silence, and Jimin laid own on his stomach, Joonhee propped up on her waterproof-diapered bottom as she mimicked what her sister was doing, arms waving emphatically. She seemed so expressive, Jimin thought. Like every bit of her body had something big to say, and she just couldn’t get it out. He ran his hand over the crown of her head, brushing back the damp little bits of bangs that were growing longer by the day, thin and precious against her forehead. He leaned in and kissed the tiny shoulder, as she looked over at him and babbled for a few seconds. Jimin chuckled, feeling the warm sand under him, the coolness of the tide as it tickled against his outstretched feet, and squinting through the sun at his family.

 

God. Who knew days could be this lovely?

 

Typically, Jimin didn’t like to admit his own romantic nature, but sometimes, there was just no denying an enjoyment of the little, silly, precious things. A beautiful little moment, and Taehyung nearby, suntanned and looking happy and content.

 

“Hey!” came a shout, just half a second before their whole little family unit was splashed with a surprising amount of water. Jimin blinked away the saltwater and looked over to see Jungkook and Seokjin were still having water fights, even as Seokjin was goofily yelling for Jungkook to stop. The pair always seemed to get an extra shot of adrenaline just by being on the island, and with a sigh, Jimin wondered if they would always be like that. If they weren’t bickering, they were being ridiculously sappy, and honestly, Jimin would have appreciated a short reprieve from either.

 

“Watch it, will you?” he called out. But Jungkook was making a whooping sound, trying to use Naiara as a weapon, lifting her up so he could shield his face and also allow her tiny but powerful legs to kick water in Seokjin’s general direction. In retaliation, Seokjin made alarmingly exaggerated shrieks, which caused Naiara to laugh so hard she couldn’t properly kick. Then, he leaned down, sweeping through the water with one firm arm, and sent a wave of water right at the other two, making them splutter into defeat.

 

“Jeez,” Jimin chuckled. “They have so much energy.”

 

“Taeyeonnie, no,” Taehyung reprimanded gently, taking the baby's hand away from her mouth before she could put her tiny fistful of sand into it. “That's nasty.”

 

“Hey,” Jimin leaned in. “How are you feeling?”

 

“Hm?” Taehyung was still preoccupied with the baby.

 

“You feeling any better?”

 

Taehyung just gave a non-committal little snort. ”I'm fine. Just tired, I guess. But happy.”

 

“Really?” Jimin pressed. The question made Taehyung look over at him in surprise. Jimin rubbed little circles onto Joonhee's soft little back, watching her try to scoop sand up. Her lack of one hand made this difficult, but she had her pink baby-size tongue poking out slightly as she concentrated with surprising conviction. He watched her more as she started to figure out how to use one arm and one hand together, balancing scoops of sand and moving them over close to one of her feet. The round toes wriggling and covered with sand, impossibly delicate-looking.

 

“Of course, really. I'm very happy with you, and with the pups. They seem pretty happy, too.”

 

Jimin smiled, because he had to agree. He stuck one foot out, draping it over next to Taehyung's knee, just wanting a little bit more physical connection. There was a happy shout, and Jimin looked past Taehyung to see Namjoon and Kiara had finally reappeared. Namjoon had put on sunglasses and an unbuttoned, obnoxious and very dad-like orange Hawaiian shirt, and he was brandishing brightly colored plastic shovels and pails in his hands. Kiara carried extra towels and was attempting to keep her bright red hair out of her mouth, despite the playful warm breeze of the day.

 

“Hey!” Namjoon cried out. “I brought the fun!”

 

Jimin smiled, watching Naiara and Kwangie rush out of the ocean and over to Namjoon, tackling his legs and wrapping themselves around his shins and making it harder for him to walk over. Meanwhile, he continued his conversation with Kiara as if the two leeches weighed almost nothing.

 

“Doesn't it feel different now?” Taehyung said suddenly, bringing Jimin's attention back to his mate. “The island? Something's changed, and you can feel it.”

 

Jimin considered for a moment, still rubbing Joonhee's back. It would be easy, to fall back into the cycle of paranoia that seemed like it had hounded them for months after the events of the summer before. But he didn't think that those thoughts... that fear... were warranted enough to drag him away from such a good, fulfilling, important thing as enjoying his family in the moment.

 

“It's probably because of the pups,” he said warmly. “They make it all different. And it's not just having pups of our own. It's all the pups, and all of us, and just… everything. Doesn't it feel right, somehow?”

 

Taehyung met his eyes, squarely and with beautiful eyelashes and a quiet, calming aura that always came with the lovely Scent of citrus. “Yeah. It does.”

 

“Hey!” Namjoon chirruped, breathless as he threw his leg out once more, causing Naiara to fall off his leg and tumble softly into the damp sand, giggling. “We brought castle-building tools!”

“Tools!” Naiara cried out, excited beyond words as she clutched onto a plastic yellow shovel.

 

Finally letting go of his iron-grip on Namjoon’s shin, Kwangie also flopped back into the sand, clenching and unclenching his fists at the air in demand for an item. “Too’! Too’!” he mimicked.

 

Their limbs all coated in sand, the two toddlers clambered over to where Taehyung and Jimin were still quietly building with their daughters. Jimin held up a hand in warning.

 

“Woaaah...hold it here.” At his signal, both children’s faces dropped in concern. “Listen, I would love to build a sandcastle with you, but I’m telling you right now, that either Taeyeon or Joonhee are going to knock it down as soon as you build it! Why not build a little bit over there, so they can’t reach it?”

 

To that, Naiara still looked a bit dejected, but she nodded, grabbing Kwangi’s hand and pulling him to his feet. “Here, Kwangie. Here!” She drew a wobbly little X in the sand with her little yellow shovel. “X marks the spot!”

 

Kwangie didn’t seem interested in her remark, despite her obvious pride, and they sat down to start digging up a pile of sand, packing it into one of the castle-shaped pails.

 

At first, Namjoon sat with them and helped them pack in the sand, but eventually, he had to stand up, complaining that crouching over a tiny castle was killing his sore back. He waded just a couple feet away from the toddlers, the waves sloshing up around his ankles as he studied the ground intently.

 

Jungkook, who had been quietly swimming near Seokjin since the toddlers had abandoned them, doggy-paddled his way over to Namjoon, his legs dragging gently against the soft sand as the water got shallower.

 

“What’re you looking for?” he asked, staring at the ground. Namjoon didn’t answer, too intent on his search. Jungkook continued to float nearby, following the pack leader, sniffing at the air occasionally to enjoy the deep, complex smell of the sea. Seokjin eventually floated up behind him, and they naturally curled around each other in a strange sort of floating hug, watching Naiara and Kwangie’s castle continually crumble into a formless heap.

 

“Here, like this,” Jimin said gently, shuffling over to their side, and leaving both of the babies sitting in Taehyung’s lap. Jimin showed them how to pack the sand in tightly, and how to choose the wettest sand that would stick to its form. Naiara’s eyes widened with wonder, watching every single move of Jimin’s talented hands. It didn’t take them long to fill the plastic bucket, and then the three of them turned it over in tandem, splatting it onto the sand with a whump sound. “Careful! Gently!” Jimin stage-whispered, and both toddlers kept their hands on the bucket, leaning in to watch as Jimin shook the bucket back and forth slightly, getting the sand inside to release its hold and still maintain its shape as he lifted the bucket up and away, revealing their perfect singular tower. The children gasped in awe, and Kwangie even clapped his hands.

 

“Beau’iful!” Naiara declared. “Diminie, it’s beau’iful!”

 

“I agree,” Jimin chuckled, his eyes crinkled into a warm smile. “Let’s make another one, okay?”

And a second tower was erected, and then Taehyung called out suggestions for things they could add, like a little driftwood drawbridge over a dug-out moat. Naiara and Kwangie both had to carry the bucket when it was full of ocean water, dumping it in to fill their lovely handmade moat. Then, they were hunting around for something to use as a flag on one of the towers, when Namjoon cried out, dropping to the sand and cupping his large hands over something on the ground. Jungkook, who had still been watching the leader, perked up immediately.

 

“Here, Naiara! I found someone to live in your castle!” Namjoon quickly rushed back over to their castle, and they cleared a spot for him around their project until he was able to drop his hands, revealing a tiny baby crab on his palm.

 

Naiara shrieked, falling back. Namjoon blinked, even as Kwangie leaned in, his nose poking over the edge of Namjoon’s palm and one sandy set of fingers pulling on his wrist, trying to get him closer. “Woah, careful, Kwangster. He might pinch you.”

Naiara shrieked more, falling back into Jimin’s lap and nearly knocking her foot into the sand castle. Kwangie, undeterred, just looked up at Namjoon, then reached one finger in. Namjoon tensed up, watching Kwangie’s finger very carefully touch the back of the shell. The crab currently seemed to be quite stunned at the new environment and made no move of attack or escape. Kwangie, amazed, pulled back his finger and beamed up at Namjoon, who grinned right back at him.

“How about we make the castle his new home?”

Kwangie nodded, instinctively sticking the tip of his thumb into his mouth to suck on, and then frowning when he got only sand. He watched ever-so-carefully as Namjoon nudged the crab off his palm and into their sandcastle. The crab walked lazily and unevenly off to one side, the tiny claws raising as if in protest. Kwangie giggled, completely enamored by the thing.

 

Naiara sniffled a little, not convinced that the crab was a good thing, but she watched in curiosity, nonetheless. Everyone sat around, completely quiet, as they watched their crab clumsily enjoy his new home.

 

“Food’s ready!” called out Kiara, and they looked up to see that Yoongi, Hoseok, and Kiara had started pulling out lunch. The entire pack started to migrate back over to Yoongi’s enormous beach umbrella, brushing sand off themselves and sitting onto their beach towels. Taehyung held the babies while Jimin prepared their stroller, using that as a makeshift high chair for their meal. It was likely that the babies would fall asleep for their nap, as well, already blinking heavily after the fresh air and heat of the day. Namjoon wiped Naiara’s arms clean and then sat her next to her mother, who smiled warmly as she sat with her daughter in her lap like the child was on a mini-throne made of motherhood. Lunch was long, lazy, and full of laughter. Jokes were made of Jungkook’s sand wich he had eaten earlier when wrestling in his argument with Seokjin, but by his expression, he didn’t seem as bothered by the teasing today as he usually was. The babies were soon napping, and Naiara and Kwangie were, too, rested on their beach towels laid out under the warmth of the afternoon sun. Yoongi fussed for several minutes over the umbrella, making sure it was angled right to cover the kids up, and only then did he sit down to curl into Hoseok’s arms to relax. His sunglasses large on his eyes, loose button-up shirt hung open as he laid against Hoseok’s chest at an angle, the Alpha’s arms wrapped around him as he kissed his Omega’s hair every so often. They looked rather comfortable. The others knew that the nonchalant, scrunched expression on Yoongi’s face was one of contentment, not of disgruntlement.

 

“I’m so tired,” Namjoon grumbled sleepily, sitting with his toes buried in the sand, a slight sunburn already creeping across his legs.

 

“I wonder why,” Jungkook chuckled to himself quietly, before Seokjin thwacked him lightly on the back of the head. Jimin arched an eyebrow at them both, but ignored them in favor of triple-checking that the babies were laid back in their stroller, the shade pulled down low with an extra blanket draped over one half of the structure, giving them shade but letting the breeze flow through. He touched his fingers to Taeyeon’s sweet, soft cheek, and smiled.

 

“Is it nap time for everyone?” Hoseok chuckled. He was fumbling around for Yoongi’s hand amidst the fabric of the Omega’s large button-up, and when he found it, he entwined their fingers decidedly. “I see Namjoon yawning as much as the pups.”

 

“I think a nap after a good meal is a good plan,” Namjoon chuckled. “It’s the perfect day for it.”

Quiet settled over the pack, as they all dozed off on their beach towels. But a few moments into the silence, a stomach grumbled again, loud and demanding. Titters erupted amongst them in soft, shushed sounds, as some whispered, “Who was that?”

“It was Kook.” Seokjin smirked, sitting up from his comfy spot in the sun to reach up and grab another paper plate that had been weighted down by a container. “He’s still hungry.”

 

Kiara snorted with laughter, “He already ate half the helpings on my plate.”

“Shut up,” Jungkook mumbled quietly. “I swam a lot today, and I dragged trees .”

 

“Don’t worry, Kookie,” Seokjin reassured him with a pat on the head, “You were a good pup today, and you earned another plate.” He sat back down next to Jungkook, who shuffled up into a good position to lean against Seokjin and eat. Seokjin quietly ran his fingers through his Omega’s hair, feeling the slight stiffness of the saltwater permeating his bangs and stiffening each lock. He sighed, looking out at the sea.

 

“Today’s been really nice,” he said quietly. Jungkook nodded, humming in agreement. “And I don’t wanna disrupt the festivities, but…I do have something to mention, while we’re all here and the kids are asleep.”

Jungkook looked up, his mouth half-full of food and his expression surprised. Namjoon met Seokjin’s eyes, and sensing the drop in the atmosphere, shuffled up out of where he had been laying his head in Kiara’s lap.

 

“What is it?”

“Don’t freak out or anything,” Seokjin said, his voice in that deliberate tone, deeper than usual, that meant he was attempting to keep everyone calm with his words. His fingers continued to brush through Jungkook’s hair, and he leaned down to kiss Jungkook’s forehead. “I just wanted you all to know that my father has contacted me recently, and offered me the north island.”

 

Silence. Just...silence, and the waves.

 

“What?” Jungkook queried first. “What island?”

 

“Our parents own a few islands, Jungkook,” Taehyung reminded him. “Seokjin was set to inherit this one originally, but because he didn’t form his own pack, it went to Namjoon.”

 

Jungkook lifted his head from Seokjin’s shoulder, then looked between the three brothers. He remembered that the island they were on was originally supposed to go to Seokjin, and he remembered hearing that their father had multiple islands, but….

 

“But why would he want to form his own pack? We’re all right here.” Jungkook looked back and forth, but none of the brothers - including his mate - would meet his eyes. “What?”

 

“Seokjin?” was all Taehyung said, a multitude of questions behind his voice as he sat on the ground, one hand resting on the baby stroller. “What are you thinking?”

The Alpha’s expression was expertly cooled into one of flippancy, as if he wasn’t bothered. But Jungkook, who sat nearest to him, knew better. He could feel the apprehension that peppered the air.

 

“I’m not going to answer him, just yet. I know him and I haven’t been on good terms for a long time, since everything went down with the Rising Gods, but… I think we shouldn’t cut off possible resources just yet. After all, the pack is growing bigger, and fast. And our island here is pretty big, but it’s split with other wolves, ones we can’t control or predict, even if they’ve worked well with us before.” He reached over, brushing some sand off Jungkook’s shoulder, careful to brush it in a direction away from his food. “I just think...we should leave it on the table, for a bit. So I didn’t tell him anything just yet.”

 

Namjoon said nothing, and they all turned to look at the waves. And Jungkook...he felt a mix of strange emotions. Joy, over the discoveries of the day; happy exhaustion, from their beautiful, almost too-perfect afternoon; but most of all, worry, over the future, over his still-missing brother, and over what path their family would be heading down next.

Chapter Text

Jimin woke up to the sensation of damp clamminess against his cheeks, and before he felt it, he heard the light slapping of tiny hands against his cheeks. He managed to force one eye open, finding little Naiara straddling his chest, smiling down at him.

 

“Diminie! Mornin’,” she whispered, then leaned down and planted one of her sloppy kisses on his lips, wetness and stickiness on his face all smeared and shared. Jimin chuckled, lifting the little one up so he could breathe a bit better.

 

“Good morning, lovely,” he rasped, his morning voice weak and heavy, sounding as if there were gaps between his sounds. Naiara looked so much like her mother, the curls resting around her pretty ears, and big eyes sparkling with sharpness and courage. Naiara had been brought into the world spoiled and beloved from all directions, and she often lacked an edge of fear, which baffled and amazed Jimin. “You look so awake.”

 

“Yeah,” she wriggled a little. “Mama’s makin’ brea’fast.”

 

“Breakfast?” Jimin queries with exaggerated excitement. Naiara nodded, giggling at his hyperbole despite not understanding why his behavior was so funny to her. Jimin tickled gently at her stomach, making her fall over, her soft giggle warming up the atmosphere of the sleepy morning. Taehyung, snoozing at his side and now much more attuned to the slightest infantile cry, mumbled a bit in his sleep. Naiara snorted, her pearly little teeth poking through her moist baby lips, cheeks soft and still puffy from sleep.

 

She flopped forward, laying across his chest, and he felt her intake his Scent of peppermint. Jimin, feeling a protective warmth through his chest, patted her back in a rhythmic motion, feeling her relax gradually beneath his hand. He had been there since her birth, and to feel her growing into a whole person bit by bit, every day, made his chest hurt in pride.

“Diminie, why don’t you sleep in my room?”

“What?” Jimin chuckled. Naiara sniffed, and he worried that some of that typical child moisture and grossness had been left on his chest by the traces of her morning congestion.

 

“Sleep in my room!” she demanded.

 

He smiled up at her, taking her small hands in his and squeezing them.

 

“But sweetie, your bed is too small for me, and besides, this is my room. I share it with uncle Tae-Tae and the twins.”

“No!” she yelled suddenly, so loud and adamant that Taehyung jerked awake, a little gasp escaping him. “Diminie is mine! I love Diminie!”

 

Jimin froze, and he felt Taehyung’s concern, bubbling to the surface and thick from being awakened so abruptly. Naiara had always preferred Jimin to her other uncles, that much Jimin couldn’t deny noticing. But she had been gradually getting more aggressive about it, to the point that Taehyung was often mumbling under his breath in concern.

 

“Nai, sweetie, I know you love me very much. But Taehyung is my Mate. So he loves me very, very much.”

 

“No!” Naiara shrieked, displeased with the whole affair to the point of her face reddening, tears starting to streak down her cheeks. “Diminie, no!”

 

She continued her cries, distraught. Jimin tried to comfort her, which only seemed to make her more angry. Taehyung started to move in, only for the distressed child to smack at him in rage. Taehyung halted, then slipped out of the bed to check on the twins, the distance not doing much to soothe the child. When she had been a year old, Taehyung had laughed about it, had joked and told her they could ‘share’ Jimin. But now he worried, and made no such promises.

 

Kiara, hearing her daughter’s cries, rushed into the room. A bathrobe was loosely tied around her, and a cup of coffee was clutched in one hand. “What happened?!”

 

“Sorry, I just--” Jimin began, when Naiara plopped her teary face down onto his shoulder, burying her wet face in his neck and Scenting him as hard as she could. Jimin jolted up into an upright position, as Naiara fitfully and petulantly sunk her tiny teeth into his shoulder in anger.

 

“Naiara!” Kiara reprimanded, her voice echoing in a powerful stroke through the room, amplified by her Omega command. Naiara jumped in surprise at the rare loudness of her mother’s voice, and turned to face her with red, puffy eyes. “You get over here right now !”

 

“But--”

 

“Right. Now , young lady.” Kiara was taking no excuses, her expression stony as she watched Naiara begrudgingly clamber to the foot of the bed and into her mother’s arms.

 

“Now you apologize to Uncle Tae and Uncle Jimin, right away.”

 

Naiara, in that typical shyness that overwhelms a child once they have been reprimanded, instead buried her head against her mother’s neck, thinking that if she were to shield her eyes, the punishment, the lecture, the being-in-trouble would be successfully evaded.

 

“Naiara.” Kiara said her daughter’s name in force, with a strength and demanding air. “You came in here and disturbed their sleep, and you were being rude to Jimin, Scenting him like that. You wouldn’t like it if someone woke you up by jumping on you and Scenting you like that.”

 

Tears filled the babe’s eyes again, a bottom lip protruding and trembling. She rubbed at her eyes with one little fist.

 

“Nai-nai?”

 

After another nudge or two, Naiara managed to mumble out a little “Sowwy” to the general room, and Kiara decided that that was sufficient. She gave a tight-lipped little smile to them both before adjusting Naiara on her hip and exiting the room. Jimin looked over at his Mate, his expression twisted with concern, but Taehyung was gently picking up Joonhee out of her playpen so he could check her diaper, and wouldn’t look Jimin’s way.

 

“Kiara is gonna hate me,” Jimin choked out suddenly, his voice tight and weak, surprising even himself. Taehyung arched an eyebrow, glancing at the forlorn Alpha on the bed.

 

“What are you talking about?” he scoffed. Instantly, Jimin’s mind translated the scoff as a total dismissal.

 

“They’re...they’re gonna think I did something.. That I’m some perverted Alpha preying on their daughter or s-something, I dunno…”

 

Taehyung pressed his lips together into a tight line, and Jimin wished he knew whether or not Taehyung was truly surprised by the fearful declaration.

 

“Well..” Taehyung said slowly, patting Joonhee’s back gently as he laid her across his shoulder, giving a few soothing taps before tugging at her diaper to check its cleanliness. “ Did you?”

 

A great heat of injury and anger washed over Jimin, and he saw the world tilt a little. “Of-- Of course not! She’s a literal baby ! Even the thought of-- of someone taking advantage--” The concept merely flashed across his mind for but half a moment, and Jimin’s throat instantly filled with bile. “Absolutely not . I love that little girl, I’d kill for her. But...that’s because she’s like my child, too!”

 

“Then don’t worry about it, Jiminie,” Taehyung stated, his words and tone plain as could be, as he shrugged. “Naiara is a child. Her feelings for you are big, yes, because she’s always adored you. But they’re the feelings of a child. She’s still learning to respect boundaries, and how to have her boundaries respected, and how to have patience and empathy. It’s a lot for one little brain. But that’s why her parents are there, to protect her and teach her.”

 

“But what if they misunderstand?” Jimin asked. “If it were me, I’d be so suspicious and scared.”

 

"Maybe they will," Taehyung said with a shrug. He laid Joonhee out on the bed, setting a pillow on either side of her in case she attempted to roll over. It was a protective force of habit, even though neither he nor Jimin would be leaving the baby unattended. He knelt in front of the bed and started to change her diaper, Joonhee still half-asleep as she sucked on her soft, round knuckle and watched the sunlight play against the wall, her eyes wide in fascination. She gave a soft little coo, unbothered as Taehyung cleaned her up. "But you haven't done anything, and you want what's best for Naiara, and that'll show through. Just give them a chance to work it out, she's their kid after all."

 

"I guess..." Jimin worked his lip, utterly unsure as he reached out and touched Joonhee's soft crown, his fingers trailing against the soft baby hair that was dark in contrast to her skin.

 

"If they have a problem with it, we'll explain. But honestly, it's just a kid with an innocent crush, okay? I'm sure they realize that. Just be careful, and let her parents teach her. Many kids go through stuff like this."

 

"They do?"

 

"Yeah. I had a huge crush on one of my teachers as a kid. I told her once a week I was going to marry her. I brought her flowers, told her I liked her Scent, I got jealous when she paid attention to any of the other kids. Looking back, it made me a real annoying pup to the others, because I was always trying to one-up them everywhere we went." Taehyung shrugged. "Plus... it's a bit different, if your parents think you're going to be an Omega, I noticed."

 

Jimin tilted his head a little, then pressed his lips together. "How do you mean?"

 

"I mean, for some of my friends, they inevitably would be sat down and given warnings. Long, quiet talks. 'You need to be aware of how you touch others, and how they touch you' or 'I know you always Scented with your friends, but it could be different now.' Essentially: "Be careful.'"

 

Jimin stared at their child, at precious little Joonhee. "It shouldn't be that way."

 

"I agree. I really fucking agree."

 

"It's disgusting that kids have to learn that."

 

Taehyung shrugged. He had no further answer too that, a complicated and heavy nuance that filled Jimin's throat and chest and made him feel despair for all the fear that their pups would have to go through but had no inclination of yet. He reached out and gently put his pointer finger against Joonhee's fist, dampened and held against her lips. The minuscule fingers unfurled, then grasped at his one finger, holding him with the lightest of clutches. Jimin frowned.

 

"I need to talk to Kiara, and make sure she knows I never meant...y'know."

 

Soberly, Taehyung nodded. He patted Jimin on the arm. Then, in a clear deadpan, he joked, "I'll be glad when she grows out of it, because she's about two tears away from me showing her who your real mate is."

 

Despite himself, Jimin chuckled, wiping at his eyes that had started to fill with frustrated tears. "She's gotten so bratty ."

 

"Excuse you , I could take her on in brattiness any time . I'm the ruler of the brats."

 

"You say that, when Jungkook is sleeping in the next room." Jimin sneered, earning him a playful thwack and a snarl from his Beta. But after a brief and careful scuffle, Taehyung finished changing Joonhee's diaper,  moving on to check on little Taeyeon's diaper status.



Jimin smiled, leaning in and kissing Taehyung's forehead. Despite his moodiness and somewhat reclusiveness, and his other-times brashness, Taehyung was very insightful, and he somehow could be very good at quelling Jimin's deeper, darker fears. Like light and clarity on grim corners, Taehyung's logic and blunt honesty could cut right through many of the most complex and cobwebbed of Jimin's irrational imaginings.

 

"Thanks, Tae," Jimin said with a sigh. He wrapped his arms around the younger man, somewhat inhibiting his attempts at diaper-changing and making him protest and whine as if he was going through a severe physical burden. But Jimin didn't care. It was Taehyung's turn to change them anyways.

 

~~~

 

"So....?"

 

Seokjin looked over at Jungkook's question, still slipping his T-shirt on. Jungkook was sitting up in their messy and never-made bed, his hair standing on end and his hand scratching absently at his bare knee as he watched Seokjin get dressed for the day.

 

"So what?" Seokjin queried, confused. His hair frizzed up a bit when he pulled the T-shirt over his head, individual hairs standing on end and amusing Jungkook.

 

"So, when are we gonna tell the pack?"

 

"Oh, I have that planned out already," Seokjin said, smiling in that devilish way he saved for secrets, his eyes sparkling and his head tilted back slightly in pride. "Just wait."

 

"But what if I wanted to tell them?" Jungkook frowned, looking up as Seokjin moved to lean over him, leaning down for a brief kiss, followed by another, and then another. Seokjin continued his smiling, petting down at Jungkook's wild bedhead.

 

"Well, we can do it your way if you want, but I'm betting my way is more fun."

 

Jungkook humphed a little in protest, "Prove it."

 

Instead of answering, Seokjin turned to go retrieve his shorts, pulling them on over his hips. His skin was already starting to pinken from the day in the sun yesterday. In his lap, Jungkook had the little baby blanket Seokjin had made, sneakily and without revealing himself until Jungkook found out.

 

"I can't believe it... a real baby. A real living baby."

 

"A real living, crying, wet baby." Seokjin grabbed the hairbrush they shared, tossing it into Jungkook's lap. "Speaking of which, there's a lot of babies who want to go swimming again today, so get dressed."

 

"Gladly," Jungkook said, carefully folding up the baby blanket and setting it down carefully on the bureau.

 

“Also, here,” Seokjin reached into the bottom of his duffel bag of clothes, rummaging around before retrieving a small box and tossing it to the Omega. He caught it, then stared down blankly.

 

“A pregnancy test?”

 

“Yup. I'll wait.” Seokjin sat down on the edge of the bed. Jungkook rose, gathering up a shirt and the box and going to the bathroom. He could hear voices in the kitchen, the clattering of dishes and something sizzling. The smell of bacon wafted through the air, and he could feel the slight greasy feeling from the smoke permeating the room and floating down the hall. Kiara's voice, muffled so that he couldn't quite hear what she was saying, was punctuated by Namjoon's deeper tones, talking to her as they shuffled around the kitchen.

 

Jungkook slipped into the bathroom, one of three in the cabin they had built. He locked the door, and took a deep breath.

 

He could hear the children's voices, he felt the coolness of the fresh cabin floor beneath his feet. His hands shook a little as he opened the box Seokjin had brought for him. He felt like they didn't really need it, as he was sure that if Seokjin, of all people, was sure, then he didn't want to question it. But still… checking...having it confirmed.

 

It took longer than he thought he would, but eventually, he was shielding the test as he rushed back down the hallway, hoping none of the pack would see him and get suspicious, because now he wanted to see how Seokjin would tell everyone.

 

But then he heard Namjoon laugh as he slipped into the bedroom he shared with Seokjin. He was suddenly struck with the knowledge that this was real. It was finally happening. A thing he didn't think he'd ever have, and once upon a time hadn't known he wanted. He was having a baby. With Seokjin, and in his pack where he was loved. And he wanted to tell Namjoon, abruptly struck with the desire to let his original protector and his first friend know this exciting news.

 

Seokjin was sitting on the bed, fiddling with something on his phone. He looked up when Jungkook entered, and smiled at him. Jungkook hurriedly closed the door after himself, and they both moved to stand in front of the bureau, hovering near the test as it sat, but too afraid to look directly at it until the timer went off.

 

They ended up staring at Seokjin's phone, watching the last twenty seconds count down at an agonizingly slowed speed, as if each second clung to the dial desperately for even just one second longer if it could.

 

Finally, the 00:00:00 flickered across the phone, and they looked at each other, then turned to look at the test where it lay.

 

"Seokjin..." Jungkook breathed. He gave a hard swallow.

 

~~~

 

"Your son is gnawing on the table again," Hoseok sighed, looking over at Yoongi.

 

"He's teething, it's fine." Yoongi was resting in his bathrobe, one leg crossed over the other as he read the magazine that Kiara had brought. It was a global arts and culture magazine, but Hoseok was pretty certain that Yoongi had little more than a passing interest, instilled in him by lethargy and boredom as could be expected of the Omega during his vacation periods. Hoseok reached over, rubbing his hand up and down Yoongi's bare leg, feeling the bristly rub of the hair growth there.

 

"It's not good for him, Yoongi, he could get splinters."

 

"That's part of childhood," Yoongi said flippantly. "When I was teething I was getting splinters in my lip once a week."

 

"You were not ," Hoseok rolled his eyes so hard that it ached in his skull, then reached down and gently pulled Kwangie away from where he was full-scale chewing on the edge of the table. Tiny teeth marks were already beginning to show in the wood, and it was now covered in a considerable amount of baby drool. "Kwangie, honey, no ."

 

Kwangie whimpered, reaching out both arms for the table again.

 

"Honey, no. I know it makes it feel better, but you shouldn't. Let's get you something else to nibble on, okay?"

 

"Where's Jungkook and Seokjin?" Jimin queried, sitting on the other side of Kwangie's giant coffee-table-shaped chew toy.

 

"I don't think they've gotten up yet," Hoseok said with a shrug. He went to the freezer, where Kiara had set little teething rings out for the babies. He held one out to Kwangie, who instantly clutched the teething ring in his hands. The piece of hardened plastic, chilled to a soothing coolness, was instantly pushed into his mouth and he started suckling on it as hard as he could. They were pretty much guaranteed that the babies would chew through the homemade teething rings before long, as Naiara had already gone through several already, but it was worth it to give them a little relief in the meantime. Kiara had spent weeks obsessively bickering with Yoongi over which was the most organic and child-safe materials and methods to use with them, and now had a whole bin of them created for future replacements.

 

Kwangie, adorable as can be as he 'ferociously' chewed on the teething ring, made little light growling noises and started to drool all over the front of his shirt. Hoseok chuckled, kissing his forehead as he walked back over to sit on the couch next to his Mate. Yoongi was still perusing his magazine, seemingly lost in his own literary world, but he nonchalantly tossed one of his thighs over Hoseok's knee, hooking his ankle around the muscular shin as he continued reading. Hoseok smiled, bouncing Kwangie a little in his arms.

 

Jungkook and Seokjin came out to the living room, looking surprisingly awake and dressed, at least.

 

"Hey, you two, Kiara made pancakes and sausages and eggs," Hoseok called out. "How do you want your eggs?" He looked up, meeting eyes with Jungkook for a moment and noticing… something. Jungkook quickly looked away, but there was an expression on his face that was...he wasn't sure. Surprise? Trepidation? Embarrassment?

 

I swear to god, if they were having another morning fuck...

 

Hoseok wanted to roll his eyes, but settled for pursing his lips together, mouth tilting to the side in sarcastic concern. He was fine with the seemingly endless libido of the pair, honestly. He just didn't want to have to explain to any of the pups, should they overhear some of the more...unorthodox activities their uncles were into. He glanced over at Yoongi. Luckily, having a child meant that the two of them were a lot more... relaxed in general.

 

Jungkook leaned over the back of the couch, bending over until he could carefully pat Kwangie's head. The weight of him leaning down onto the back of the couch cushions made Hoseok and Yoongi fall back a little, and Yoongi grunted a little in gentle protest. Hoseok craned his neck to look up at the Omega, noted with some pride how much softer and more grown up Jungkook looked now, compared to just a year ago. His jawline was more defined, and his face longer, more aged and less round childish cheeks. His hands looked the most grown up, and Hoseok laid his hand across Jungkook's veiny wrist as the Omega continued to touch the baby's delicate crown.

 

“He looks like the perfect mix of you and Yoongi,” Jungkook said quietly. It was a bit of a strange comment to come out of nowhere, long after Kwangie's features had been set and cooed over by the whole family, but Hoseok had to agree. He leaned in, kissing Kwangie's head.

 

“I'm glad he got Yoongi's cute eyes,” Hoseok commented with a chuckle.

 

“Let's hope he has your teeth, though,” Yoongi muttered, looking over to watch his son dramatically chewing at the teething ring as ferociously as he could muster in his bitty body.

 

Hoseok smiled, instinctively looking up to see if the other pack members were seeing how adorable their son was being, when he noticed Seokjin holding a plate of eggs, positioned next to Kiara but with his gaze fixated on Jungkook, an expression of such depth and warmth that it made Hoseok do a double, then a triple take. He looked up at Jungkook again, but all that he could see there was the usual fondness Jungkook expressed over Kwangie. What was up? What were they up to?

 

“So, kids in the water again today, then some practice in the clearing?” Seokjin chirruped, looking Namjoon's direction. The lead Alpha was sitting at the table, scarfing down his breakfast as elegantly as a hungry man could. Naiara was balanced on his knee, her eyes notably puffy as if she had been crying that morning, but for the moment she seemed very content in her father's lap as she ate her toast.

 

“Yeah, I wanna just give them a little spin around and see how it goes. It's best to wear them out a little in the ocean so they are more well-behaved when we get to the shifting.” He looked down at Naiara and smiled. “I'm excited to see how they do.”

 

"Of course Naiara will do well," Seokjin chuckled, "Namjoon was able to shift earlier than most pups we knew, it was pretty amazing."

 

Namjoon's mouth gave a little twitch, his eyes a little glassy with memory. His shoulders unhaunched themselves from where he had been hovering over his plate of food, and he looked over at Seokjin.

 

"Well, I had to do well, after following you ."

 

Seokjin paused and arched an eyebrow. "What?"

 

"You were always the good child, I wanted to keep up with you," Namjoon stated matter-of-factly. Hoseok looked between the two brothers, then glanced over at Yoongi, who had a bit of a worried purse to his lips. Yoongi had told Hoseok about when he had first lived with Namjoon, about some of the things he'd said about his brother Seokjin. Namjoon had even taken Yoongi to his family pack home a few times, to meet Namjoon's family and to spend a couple holidays. According to Yoongi, the air had always been a little tense with strained expectations, mostly from their father.

 

"He adored you, I don't know what you're talking about." Seokjin scoffed a little, an awkward laugh escaping him that would have, perhaps, been convincing. But his ears had turned a bright shade of pink.

 

"Who adored him?" Jungkook queried, somehow appearing near Seokjin's elbow, popping a piece of sausage in his mouth.

 

"Our father," Seokjin answered, reaching his arm around Jungkook's waist and drawing him close to his side gently.

 

"Bullshit," Namjoon chuckled, with no venom in his voice, but a trace of sadness nonetheless. "You didn't hear him talk about you when you left."

 

Hoseok inhaled a bit, concerned with the direction the conversation was going. He was sure that none of them now would call Seokjin's leaving of his blood pack to join the famous Rising Gods Clan as a positive thing, but the fact remained that their father still seemed to have held the exclusive admittance as a sort of accomplishment.

 

Seokjin stared hard at his younger brother, not sure what he should say but with obviously many thoughts running through his head about what he wanted to say in response.

After a stony look, it ended up being Namjoon who was the next to speak, and his voice sounded hollow, ringing with a strange distant melancholy of acceptance.

"You're going to end up making your own pack, aren't you?"

Hoseok bit his lip, using the pain to hold back from a smile brought on inappropriately by a sudden and thorough unsettling of nerves. "Uh, maybe this isn't the best time to discuss this, why don't we--"

"I said what I said and I meant it," Seokjin said. He didn't blink as he watched Namjoon carefully. Hoseok felt goosebumps rise on his arms, noting how everyone, including even little Kwangie and Naiara, had frozen in place like statues, watching the brothers in concern.



Hoseok was tempted to stand up and break their locked gazes, to divert their attention, but his body took that aggressive Scent of furious Alphas and aggravated his own senses. He knew that if he stepped up, it would likely set them off, and he could tell by the look on Jimin's face as he stood near the front door, clenching and unclenching his fists, that he was struggling to hold back, as well.

Kiara, who had been quietly cooking with her back to the main house, turned around and looked between them, then frowned.

"Namjoon, he said this would be discussed LATER. Why don't you just trust him?" When Kiara spoke, Namjoon didn't look her way, continuing his staring contest with Seokjin, the air crackling with their combatant Alpha Scents.

Hoseok saw Jungkook look down at the ground, then between the two in but a moment. He reached out and gently took Seokjin's arm, making the Alpha jolt a little.

"Hey," he said quietly, a strange solidity to his tone that demanded Seokjin's - as well as the others' - attention. "Don't get defensive. We can talk about it later."

Seokjin's shoulders slowly laxed, gradually letting go of their tense demand. It was quite visibly a conscious effort on his part, and Hoseok could see Jungkook's hand squeezing at Seokjin's arm in reassurance, despite the look of concern in the Omega's eyes. Hoseok felt a bit of relief, seeing the calm way Jungkook's Omega Scent was wafting through the room, notable and poignant. Kwangie started to sniff the air, looking around for the source of the smell, and Hoseok patted his back. It wasn't often that Hoseok ever saw Jungkook emit his influence to anyone, much less the whole pack at once. He must have been very worried about a possible argument ensuing.

 

Hoseok sighed, unsure how to proceed from here.

 

Namjoon seemed reluctant to calm, but with Naiara on his knee, he managed to relax a bit, diverting his focus to the small child and the remainder of his breakfast. Hoseok walked over to to the table, hovering over their Lead Alpha with a concerned expression. Namjoon just shrugged off Hoseok's offered hand on his shoulder, a signal that he was feeling too upset in the moment to speak to. Luckily, Namjoon's emotional uprisings usually didn't last too long; in fact, he would often bemoan his inability to hold a grudge. But it was one of the things Hoseok admired about him. The rest of the pack effectively ignored Namjoon's steaming mood for the moment, and ate their breakfast in an abnormal near-silence.

 

Hoseok followed after Namjoon, hovering around him when Seokjin and Jungkook started packing up the kids to go to the beach for the day. Yoongi glanced his way, then shuffled to help push the kids out the door. Soon, it was just Hoseok and Namjoon left in the cabin.

 

Silence ensued as they took their turn washing the dishes, Namjoon scrubbing egg off of plates while Hoseok dried cups and put them back into the cupboard. He smiled as he noticed Kwangie's teeth marks on the spout of his sippy cup.

 

"I remember when it was Jungkook's teeth marks on things," Hoseok said gently. "Now he's become a whole full-grown Mate for Seokjin. It's amazing."

 

Namjoon glanced over, looking at the sippy cup, a stiff smile coming to his lips. "He always had a bit of an oral fixation, it was much easier to let him just work through it. But Yoongi did have to buy a lot of extra cups." His smile grew by miniscule amounts.

 

Hoseok let the silence grow for a few moments, knowing Namjoon needed the space to work through his next thoughts. Through the window over the sink, partly obstructed by the trees, he could just see bits of the beach, with the kids dutifully standing in line for sunscreen. Seokjin was smiling down at Naiara as he dotted her nose, Jungkook laughing as he had Kwangie helping him cover Seokjin's wide back with slathers of sunscreen, at one point just dumping it on his shoulders straight from the bottle in a wide arc.

 

"I was always a little jealous of Seokjin," Namjoon said quietly. "Which I guess is normal to feel, as a younger brother. But it got worse after he joined the Rising Gods. I felt like I had to work harder and prove myself. Taehyung was obviously stuck on our grandparents' home in the country, and Seokjin was accepted into a prestigious pack, so it was going to fall to me, like it or not."

 

Hoseok gave a noise of acknowledgment, waiting for him to continue.

 

"I dunno. I know it's not his fault. It's just the way things are. But I still feel pissed about it."

Hoseok gave another nod, taking the clean plate from Namjoon's hands.

"I don't think he gets what it was like for me. I had to be the one to convince our father to give me the bigger island, and to convince him to let me run it my own way. If it wasn't for me fighting about it, and with mom's support, he would probably be up our asses all the time, telling us how to raise the kids, how to act around each other, how to 'hold ourselves with dignity' at every moment." Namjoon's brow crinkled. Hoseok waited a bit longer, biting back his own commentary, despite the temptation to do otherwise.

"I just... I love this pack very much. Every single pack member is my family, Seokkie..." Namjoon sighed, his shoulders sagging in a rare moment of true weakness. "And I don't wanna be someone who regrets what's been a good thing for some people, but... Sometimes, I feel like Seokjin is unhappy, not being the Lead Alpha."

"Nonsense," Hoseok finally said, his eyes trained on drying his towel. "If he had a problem with it, you would KNOW it."

"But that's what I'm saying. Maybe it's not all the time, but once in awhile, I feel like he's... Bitter about it? That isn't really the word, but it's close. Like he knows as well as I do that he could do a better job."

"I don't know about that," Hoseok said slowly, choosing each word with care. "Seokjin may have been a different Lead Alpha than you, but it doesn't mean he'd do better. It's a complicated responsibility. And we're happy with you. I wouldn't lie about that."

"But he's stronger than I am, and smarter, and he's able to make anyone do what he wants, when he tries!"

"Not everyone," Hoseok smiled. He set a comforting hand on Namjoon's shoulder, and this time, it wasn't brushed off. "Besides, we don't follow you because you MAKE us do anything. That's why we love you."

Namjoon stilled, as though shaken by this bold statement, and then sighed. Hoseok's smile grew.

"You're different, Namjoon, and so are we. Maybe it has always made us a bit of a misfit pack, but we belong together, right? That's what Seokjin and Jungkook are always saying. And the pups are growing up in a warm and loving place, where they could be misfits, too. Where they won't feel forced to be or do things a certain way, like you were."

Namjoon stared down at his soap-covered hands, and he gradually gave the softest nod. Hoseok squeezed his shoulder, knowing that Namjoon ALWAYS carried a hundred such fears and self-doubts with him. But he always came back around to being the Lead Alpha he had always been.

"I'm just scared... I don't want him to leave..."

"He won't," Hoseok said quietly.

"How do you know that?"

Hoseok shrugged. "I just do. And even if he does, it'll be okay. YOU gave him a second chance at a family, Namjoon, and you gave all of us that second chance. He won't just forget that."

 

Namjoon nodded, slowly and sadly, but it was a nod, all the same. Hoseok gave his shoulder one more solid squeeze, then they returned to their chores. Hoseok hovered his chin around Namjoon's shoulder, subtly keeping a close check on Namjoon's more aggressive Alpha Scent fixedly morphing into his more familiar and warm Scent of wood smoke, a smell that bit at the edges of Hoseok's senses, but was extremely comforting by now. He inhaled a little, and smiled, stepping back contented by the knowledge that Namjoon was feeling a little better.

It took them quite a bit longer to get down to the beach, and by then, Kiara was the only one laying beneath Yoongi's bright beach umbrella, reading on her stomach quietly with sunglasses on and her back smeared unskillfully with lotion. Namjoon smiled, kneeling down next to her and making her look up curiously. With one gentle hand, he rubbed the lotion that Naiara had inevitably left into Kiara's skin, leaning down to kiss the top of his Mate's head and whisper soberly into her ear.

Hoseok, meanwhile, gave a little smile and started to look around for his own Omega. He found him a few feet out into the water, grinning from ear to ear as he paddled around where Seokjin and Jungkook were taking turns tossing the pups up into the air, water splashing and sloshing around them as the children gave shrieks of happy approval at 'flying.'

Yoongi give a little guffaw of a laugh. A breathless taunt from Yoongi, muffled by the waves, was sent toward Jungkook that had the youngest of the adult wolves suddenly rush at him, picking him up entirely and tossing him easily into an oncoming little wave, Yoongi crying out for mercy just before he hit the water. Yoongi came up spluttering like a child, and started retaliating with scoops of water that just made Jungkook laugh and dive away beneath the waves.

Hoseok watched warm, salty waters, laughing as Jungkook swam up between Yoongi's legs, ending up with Yoongi sitting on his shoulders. It wasn't long before Yoongi and Jungkook both were falling back into the waves again, making Kwangie giggle and laugh with glee at his silly parent.

 

The sun felt hot and constant on his shoulders, but he didn't mind it in the least. It was a beautiful day, and he took a deep breath of fresh salty air, listening to the children playing.

 

He didn't want to think about the very real possibility of their family breaking up. He didn't want to think about the chance that by this time next year, everyone would be split down the middle. He didn't want to think about Namjoon's stress, about Kwangie's sniffles or his teething, or about whatever it was that was going on with Jungkook right now, or about the strange people on the island that they didn't know.

 

Today, he wanted to breathe deeply and enjoy the warmth.

 

He felt sudden hands on his shoulders, and he jumped a little, looking over to see Kiara there, her sunglasses on, hat pulled low over her red curls, and a determined purse to her lips as she massaged at his back, spreading sunscreen on his skin at the same time. He gave a little noise of appreciation, sitting up straighter for her to reach.

 

"You seem stressed," she queried. "Wanna talk about it?"

 

"Nope, but thanks," he sighed. "But if you've got any distracting powers, I'll take it now."

 

"Well, Kwangie wants to build another sandcastle today, you should get on that."

 

"Definitely, it's my new full-time job, sandcastle-ing."

 

Kiara smiled over his shoulder, and Hoseok chuckled, turning to look out at their pack playing in the water.

 

"Are you nervous about Kwangie shifting today?"

 

Hoseok considered for a moment, trying to imagine what it would be like to encourage Kwangie to try that shifting, and how he might feel in that situation. But he just shrugged. "No, I don't think so. Even if it's not today, it's okay. I know he'll get it, he's our son, after all, he does things in his own time."

 

"That's true." Kiara's fingers rubbed deeply into the knots of Hoseok's back that he hadn't even known were there, and he grunted at the sting.

 

"I had to have a talk with Naiara today," Kiara said quietly, her voice almost ashamed. "About her obsessiveness with Jimin."

 

Hoseok looked over his shoulder at her again, questions on his tongue. She just gave a shrug at his unspoken queries, and sighed.

 

"I had a good long talk with her. It's important to check in and make sure she knows what's appropriate, giving or receiving. But it's a talk I didn't want to have with her so early."

 

"Did...Jimin do anything, as far as--"

 

"No," Kiara said firmly, her fingertips on his shoulders getting firmer, as well. "He didn't. I've been keeping an eye on things. It's my job as a mother to keep an eye on things, as much as I love Jimin, I've seen too much to take that for granted. And honestly, I don't think she willfully did anything wrong , either. It's just knowing boundaries, talking about things. Making sure they both feel safe and happy."

 

"It's complicated..." Hoseok frowned. "Imagine when they become teenagers."

 

"Oh god, don't get me started." Kiara huffed, exhaling heavily and causing her bangs to flutter upwards away from her delicate forehead. "Naiara is gonna have me in a full head of grey hair by the time she's in high school, I just know this down to my very bone marrow. She just gets so spoiled having all of the boys around, and she doesn't understand her own limits and how rules work and--"

 

As Kiara had vented about her challenging daughter, her hands had gotten too rough on Hoseok's shoulders, resulting in him hissing at the soreness shooting through his shoulder blades and hunching his shoulders. She mumbled an apology, and he chuckled.

 

"Sounds like you need a relaxing massage even more than I do."

 

Kiara shrugged. "You aren't wrong , sir."

 

"Want me to take a turn while we still have two seconds away from the children?"

 

The Omega nodded gratefully, the two of them shuffling around on the beach blanket enough that she was facing away from him, long neck bent forward and her hair tucked to the side as Hoseok rubbed into the curve of her spine, to the spot just beneath her shoulder blades where she always said her bra made her back ache. She hummed a little in appreciation, and Hoseok glanced over her shoulder to visually check on the crowd playing in the water. Namjoon had wandered off along the beach, bare footed and lumbering along somberly, and Hoseok could see little Naiara look up, watching her father for a moment before utterly abandoning her sandcastle she had just started. She raced after him, and his hand moved down to hold hers automatically, and they continued walking down the beach. Meanwhile, Seokjin was being buried in the sand from the shoulders down by Jungkook by this time, the two of them guffawing and making an awful lot of noise, making Hoseok smile.

 

"So what's going on with Jungkook?" Hoseok asked, looking over at Kiara. She smirked, looking over her shoulder to meet Hoseok's eyes.

 

"You noticed it too, right? He's hiding something. Jungkook never was very good at keeping secrets, especially ones he's excited about.

 

"I wonder what it is...do you think it has to do with Seokjin?"

 

Kiara laughed. They both looked over, seeing Jungkook shoving piles of sand over his Mate, with Kwangie helping by patting Seokjin's leg lightly with his plastic shovel. Sand must have gotten in Seokjin's mouth, as he started dramatically spluttering and complaining, and Jungkook leaned down to kiss the top of Seokjin's head, the Alpha now rendered unable to move as his arms and torso were completely buried in the heavy sand.

 

"When it comes to Jungkook, doesn't it always have to do with Seokjin?" she chuckled warmly.

Chapter Text

"Okay... breathe..." Yoongi started, kneeling in front of his son.

 

Kwangie clenched his tiny fists, staring ahead into the shadows of the forest with as much determination as his tiny body would allow.

 

"Now watch closely, okay?" The Omega spoke in gentle tones, one hand on Kwangie's back as the two of them watched Hoseok where he stood on the edge of the clearing, waiting. Gingerly, he curved his back, shifting as slowly as he could as Kwangie studied every movement of his father's with surprised, wide eyes. Yoongi saw the goosebumps rising on the little boy's arms as he realized that he could do that, too, that he could look like that, too.

 

In a few moments, Hoseok stood before them in his wolf form, elegant and slender. His front paws padded at the soft dirt and both ears flickered about, a short signal before he shook his large head and looked directly at Kwangie.

 

"Are you ready?" Yoongi asked. "You can do it, we believe in you."

 

Kwangie gave a little sound, like a shaky sort of inhale, and let go of Yoongi's shirt at last. He didn't say anything, but Yoongi saw in his eyes the eagerness, the curiosity that was burning inside of him now. This was what he was meant to do, and just like the day he opened his eyes and looked up into his parents' faces, this was another natural growth, a coming-into-his-own moment. Kwangie was born to be a wolf, and he was born to run.

 

On his vulnerable legs he stumbled forward, his bottom lip protruding and eyes flashing dark. Yoongi watched closely, crouched nearby as Kwangie started to spin. He spun slowly at first, his arms spread out around him, and then faster. Yoongi's hands instinctively jolted, wanting to reach out in case he fell, but he had to refrain. He has to do this on his own, no one else can do it for him, he reminded himself.

 

The first few minutes, Kwangie seemed to be losing patience with himself. His steps faltered, and his spins became more erratic. He then paused, wobbling a little in dizziness and looking up at Yoongi with the saddest, most disappointed look the Omega had ever been sent. His heart felt like those tiny fists were clenching tightly around it.

 

"Papa..." he bemoaned, obviously distraught. "'S not workin'.."

 

"I know, Kwangie. But you can do it! Just keep trying a little while longer." To his Papa's words, Kwangie seemed reluctant to obey, but Hoseok strode up behind him, nuzzling his damp nose against Kwangie's round cheek in reassurance. "Lookit Daddy, he can do it. And you're very good, so you can do it, too, okay? Try thinking real hard, and imagine what your wolf looks and feels like. Is he a skinny boy? A fuzzy boy?"

 

To the quiet, humored questions from Yoongi, Kwangie started to smile, amused at the miniature quiz that had been put to him. He shook his head, pretty pearly teeth peering out from behind his soft pink lips.

 

"What is he like, Kwangie? Tell Daddy and Papa."

 

"He's...." Kwangie tugged at his stained T-shirt, the loose one they had put him in to keep him comfortable. "He's little ."

 

"Yeah? Do you know what color?"

 

Kwangie looked over his shoulder, staring at the fur around his Daddy's neck. "G-Gray. Like Papa and Daddy."

 

"That's wonderful, Kwangie. Now show Papa how you do it."

 

Kwangie beamed up at his father, his tiny body now relaxed. He spun again, this time with his arms stretched out as far as he could, his feet more confident and sure. The goosebumps that had lined his thin, delicate arms were suddenly replaced with what could only be described as a temporary shadow, a blurring of the lines of reality. Yoongi watched his son happily spin around, skipping and hopping up and down a little and waving his arms up and down in long, arc-like movements, as if he was wielding some invisible flag to signal the beginning of his true childhood. Kwangie spun again, and when his spinning stopped, he was a full-form wolf in front of his parents, his tail with the white tip in it wagging triumphantly as he wobbled back and forth from the dizziness.

 

"Kwangie, you did it! You did it!" Yoongi cheered, running his fingers through the light-gray fur. It was nearly a whitish color, but he had been right - he looked like a lighter color than his parents, with a white snout and tail that looked as if it had been dipped in a white paint bucket. It wasn't until that moment that Yoongi realized that Kwangie was really so small for his age, as he yipped and leaped up into Yoongi's lap for more praise and attention.

 

Hoseok, somehow emanating the strongest aura of pride, despite his quiet, moved in to lick Kwangie's face all over. The eager young pup's tail wriggled so hard that the whole back half of his body waved back and forth with the movement, and his tongue lolled out as he looked up at Hoseok. He then tore out of Yoongi's lap and starting running in excited circles around them. He only got about a foot or so before he tripped, making both Hoseok and Yoongi freeze for a moment. Kwangie, now with dust powdering half his body, instantly crawled back to his feet and continued his running, unfazed in the slightest. Yoongi sighed in relief, and let Kwangie run around a bit in his glee.

 

Yoongi remembered the first time he had gone on a hunt. He didn't really remember his first practices in changing, since they had been so long ago and when he was so small. But the first hunt with his family? That had been amazing, life-changing. Even as limited as life was in the city, he had had that firm reassurance of having his family near as he ran free, let loose to do as he wished into the fields, the forests and more.

 

He wanted to ensure that Kwangie had that same experience. That all the pups would have that experience.

 

After some time, Hoseok joined in to playfully tackle his over-energetic son. The burst of energy and lack of trepidation that emanated from the young boy was astounding to say the least, and endearingly obnoxious to say much more. Yoongi chuckled as the tiny wolf pup barked with glee, hopping up and down on all fours and looking for attention and praise. Spurred on by his success, he then tramped off, presumably to find his favorite playmate.

 

Naiara was having a much harder time. Namjoon sat plopped in the dirt, his pants dusted as he remained cross-legged, offering his princess gentle encouragements. One could see from the discoloring of his face and neck that he was trying extremely hard not to lose his temper, to remain calm even as Naiara shrieked and cried and tried valiantly again and again to turn. She had spun so many times and fallen in the dirt so many times that her clothes were mussed, her little pigtails now lopsided. Kiara sat nearby in wolf form, sitting back on her haunches and watching her daughter from a bit of a distance, even while Namjoon attempted to soothe her.

 

"It's okay, you'll get it, princess, just don't cry..." His words seemed to fall on deaf ears, and Naiara stomped her bare foot into the ground, embarrassed and frustrated.

 

It was at that moment that Kwangie bounded in, proudly rubbing and bumping up against the back of Naiara's knees to garner her attention. For a moment, Naiara paused her crying in surprise, not recognizing the wolf behind her. But then she caught his scent, and her expression flew from pleasantness to despair in less than two shakes of Kwangie's pretty tail.

 

She wailed at him in desperation, blubbering wetly on to Kwangie in barely comprehensible complaints about how she couldn't turn. Kwangie's expressive tail slowed in its wagging, showing sympathy despite his lack of understanding. Namjoon looked helplessly at the others, as if silently pleading for backup. Kiara shrugged.

 

"Naiara, it's perfectly okay. Turning is difficult, especially on-call, and we can try tomorrow, and the next day, if you want."

 

Naiara ignored her father, now hugging Kwangie and gripping onto his fur as she looked to her best friend for comfort. Namjoon sighed, his shoulders slumping, even as Kiara quietly trod up behind him, leaning her body against his broad back in quiet reassurance. It was actually quite rare for pups to catch on quickly to turning. In fact, Jungkook hadn't even mastered the art by the time he had been adopted into their pack, and he had been in his teens and had shifted often. But shifting, and shifting when you wanted were entirely different things, and this was extremely hard for hard-working pups to understand at such a young age.

 

Naiara cried out in the little clearing for nearly half an hour longer, and most of the others had wandered back toward the house. Kwangie stayed in Naiara's lap, letting her pet his fur and call him so pretty as he nuzzled against her soft arm. Namjoon eventually had to go back inside the cabins as well, but he kissed the top of Kiara's head as she settled down to watch the children a bit longer.

 

"Still nothing?" Hoseok queried from the kitchen sink, peering over as Namjoon sadly lumbered his way inside.

 

He released another deep sigh, "She's really rough on herself if she can't do something right away. I mean, it's normal for it to be difficult, but...she's taking it extremely hard." He plopped down onto the couch, sinking into it and making it creak and slide a bit backward from the weight of his deliberate fall into its cushions. After a moment, he seemed to remember something, and he looked over toward Hoseok. "Kwangie is still in wolf form, though. It's quite impressive that he shifted so fast, huh?"

 

"Yeah!" Hoseok beamed, his whole demeanor changing from demure to beaming with pride, his voice even cracking from how loud he suddenly got. "He did it so quickly, too! We were so surprised!"

 

"I'm glad," Namjoon smiled softly. "Hopefully Naiara catches up so they can play together. It'll be good for them both."

 

"I can't wait until the twins are ready," Taehyung said, popping his head up over the edge of the coffee table, where he had been kneeling down to change a diaper. "They're gonna be so cute!"

 

Namjoon gave a grunt of assent, slightly watching as Taehyung silently continued. He glanced Hoseok's direction, and the two Alphas shared a brief look, but said nothing. Some of the pack had been very curious as to how a three-legged wolf was going to fare. Namjoon, of course, inwardly feared the worst. But nothing had been said by either Taehyung or Jimin, so no one else had really brought the subject up either.

 

How would it work? He wasn't knowledgeable enough about such things, nor experienced enough in them, to have any real inkling. If the absence of her left hand held her back from joining her sibling and her fellow packmates, Namjoon wasn't sure how they were going to handle it. Never going on hunts with them, never taking part in a traditional mating ceremony, never even having the experience of running full speed ahead, a blur of fur dashing through the underbrush.

 

Namjoon inhaled deeply, letting out the air from his lungs with a deliberately slowed, practiced exhale. He realized in that moment, for the first time, that many a pack leader would have banned such a wolf from their pack, without even questioning it. There were those that said that a pack was only as strong as their weakest wolf, and Joonhee's three-leggedness could actually turn out to be just that, if things got dangerous at any point. How could they cope?

 

But Namjoon also realized that the thought of Joonhee leaving their pack, at any point, had never crossed his mind, and the very concept disgusted and nauseated him. He loved Joonhee, and she was as vital to the pack (as far as Namjoon was concerned) as any of them. She would find her place, he was sure. No matter what happened.

 

He just hoped that Jimin and Taehyung were going to be strong enough to face that particular storm, when it came.

 

The doorknob to the cabin rattled, and Naiara tumbled in, followed by Kwangie, still in wolf form as he wriggled and panted around her in excitement. Her streaks of tears were now starting to dry, and she was smiling again, petting the top of Kwangie's head in a gentle way as they went into the kitchen and started messing with Hoseok's legs.

 

"Kwangie wants a snack," Naiara insisted. "He's hungry being wolf." Hoseok chuckled. "Oh, is he, now? Well he can eat if he changes back properly."

 

Naiara looked to Kwangie, as if to check him for approval. Then, she shook her head. "He don't want to. He likes being a--- being a wolf ."

 

Hoseok looked down at Kwangie, whose tail lightly wagged back and forth, happy under his father's gaze. "Kwangie, please change back now. You can practice shifting again tomorrow, okay?"

 

Kwangie's tail paused its movement, and he yawned, letting out a bit of a yipping complaint at the end of the yawn, and then started to spin around. Naiara held out her hand, brushing her fingertips through the edge of his fur in curiosity, as the fur changed to the familiar dark head of hair. As his shifting ended, he tumbled a little into Naiara, and clung to her messily, nearly toppling them both over. Naiara giggled, and petted his head some more, just the same as when he was in wolf form. Hoseok smiled proudly, and started to assemble them a quick snack before dinner.

 

~~~

 

"Jimin, are you ready?" Seokjin called out, poking his head in the doorway of Jimin and Taehyung's cabin room. Seeing Jimin glance over, Joonhee hugged possessively to the Alpha's chest, Seokjin wrinkled his nose. "She'll be here when you get back, I promise. Let that baby go!"

 

"But...she's so small ," Jimin sighed, kissing the top of the delicate baby girl's head. He rocked her back and forth a little, giving her a bit of an affectionate squeeze. "You'll understand when you have babies of your own."

 

Seokjin rolled his eyes. "People really do say that, I guess. How obnoxious. Look, the melon head is cute as fuck, I agree, but it's time for an adult night out, so let's get moving and get your butt outta here."

 

Jimin sighed, but Seokjin merely sent him a thumbs up and slipped away from the doorway. In the main room of the cabin were all the adults, save for Jimin, and most of them were getting ready for a late-night hunt. Most of the lights were turned out, with just a couple near the windows turned on to leave a glow. Namjoon was standing near the fireplace, his eyes glimmering. They were all trying to be quiet so as not to wake any of the now-sleeping pups, but it was hard to miss the buzz of excitement around them as they all felt a shiver at the idea of a real hunt .

 

Seokjin as well was starting to quake a bit in nervousness. Hunts this late were rare, and quite a bit riskier. But when else would it be reasonable to leave so many of the pups with so few adult wolves to care for them at once?

 

Jimin came out to the living room at last, and Jungkook nudged into Seokjin's side. He was getting clingier by the day. He patted his head in reassurance and instinctively wrapped his arm around the Omega. He felt stronger, somehow. Perhaps it was because he carried the knowledge of what was to come, of the great trust and responsibility that he now bore. 

 

"Hey," Seokjin smiled, looking over at him. "You ready?"

 

Jungkook blinked at him, then scoffed a little. "I'm not going on the hunt, Seokjin."

 

Seokjin stared at him in surprise for a moment, and Jungkook kept sending him very eyebrow-centric and pointed looks, until he realized. Jungkook was carrying a pup. It was not exactly medically founded for sure, but many believed it was dangerous to shift when expecting, as it could damage the fetus. At Seokjin's expression of realization, Jungkook rolled his eyes and scoffed again, punching Seokjin lightly in the arm before turning to the others. 

 

"So," Namjoon started, "Jungkook has volunteered to watch the pups tonight, and the rest of us will be heading out. I've already set up a scented marker outside, everyone be sure to check it before you go into the woods. I want everyone able to find their way back in the dark. There should be some great game out there this time of night, especially since we haven't been here for so long."

 

Seokjin smiled, thrilled at the prospect of really letting loose in his wolf form again. There was no other feeling quite like it, really. Shifting was a sensation in a category all its own, as was the feeling of Jungkook's warm and calloused fingers being laced through his. 

 

"We only want to be out a couple of hours. Listen for my call if we're out of sight of each other for any reason."

 

Taehyung started to bounce a bit on his heels, obviously getting more thrilled to head out. He met the Beta's golden rimmed eyes, and he saw the bright smile light up across his little brother's face. 

 

"Are you sure you'll be alright with all the babies, Kookoo?" Kiara queried, running her fingertips through the ends of her bright red hair in concern. "If they all wake up at once, it'll be a lot for any one person to handle." 

 

"I'm sure it'll be fine," Jungkook reassured her with a beaming smile, his lips curled around his large front teeth in an endearing gesture, one side of his mouth a little tilted from the other. "Besides, I haven't spent much of a turn babysitting because of work, so it's a good chance to practice more."

 

"Well, I won't forget that next time it's your turn to go out hunting," she promised in an almost foreboding way, wagging one finger at him. "You need a chance to get out there with everyone else, too."

 

Jungkook's smile became the very slightest bit more forced, and he glanced at Seokjin before saying, "Well, it's not that I mind watching them. It's fine."

 

Yoongi reached forward, laying the back of his palm against Jungkook's forehead and cheeks dramatically, checking to see if the boy had a fever. "Jeon Jungkook, are you ill?" 

 

"Maybe he's been bodysnatched, like in that movie," Jimin suggested, giggling and bumping into Yoongi's broad shoulder. 

 

Jungkook's initial expression was one of wide eyes and surprise, but once he recovered, he laughed along with them. "Very funny," he attempted to divert. "But shouldn't you be heading out before no one gets to hunt?"

 

"Shit, yeah," Namjoon mumbled, more to his watch than to any of them. "Outside, everybody."

 

Seokjin rested a hand on Jungkook's shoulder as they walked to the door last. Jungkook didn't see it, but Seokjin caught the questioning look Jimin and Yoongi sent their direction before they stepped out onto the porch. Jungkook followed them out the door and waited on the top step, leaning down from his perch to give Seokjin a goodbye kiss on the cheek.

 

"Bring me back something tasty," Jungkook insisted. Seokjin just chuckled, shifting as he dropped down the last step. The large, broad-shouldered and all-white wolf was just as elegant and as breath-taking as when Jungkook had first seen him, and the slender legs and bright eyes held a nobility and intelligence to them that words could never quite encapsulate. 

 

Jungkook stared at Seokjin for a long moment as the wolf shook his thick mane of fur and stretched out his long legs, letting out a yawn that ended in a half-bark of preparedness.

 

"Be safe," Jungkook said. Seokjin walked over, nudging Jungkook's hand with his wet nose. Jungkook knew without a doubt that Seokjin was warning him to be safe, too. He could almost hear his Alpha's voice in his head, light and warm, comforting and unique. The smell of cleanliness, of something like soap, filled the air as Seokjin's Alpha Scent wafted around them, mingling with Jungkook's Scent of leather and saltwater indiscriminately.

 

Then, Seokjin's ears twitched, and they both turned at once to see Namjoon chasing Kiara and Hoseok off into the woods, mere flashes of their colorful tails waving out behind them as the last thing Jungkook could see in the growing darkness. Seokjin let out a small sound of protest that nestled deep in his throat and then turned, running after them.

 

Jungkook then noticed that Jimin was still standing unshifted, at the end of the porch. He was staring at Jungkook very hard, as if Jungkook had said or done something strange. Eyes narrowed in suspicion, he didn't blink, even when Jungkook tilted his head at the Alpha in confusion.

 

"What?" he asked. No answer came, as Jimin merely frowned, turning and shifting before he rushed off to catch up to the others. Jungkook arched an eyebrow, confused at the strange behavior, then went back inside, locking the cabin door as he had been instructed.

 

As he turned into the dim living room, Jungkook realized that he was actually alone in the cabin with all the pups. While he had realized, theoretically, what this meant before, he suddenly felt the gently resting panic of such a responsibility deep in his chest. He stood in the middle of the cabin, listening intently for any signs of life or noise in the night. Other than the occasional creak of a tree branch outside or the slightest groan of a home still trying to fully settle into its roots, there were no sounds in the cabin.

 

Jungkook worked his lip for a moment, unsure how he felt about the situation. His mind, as it used to constantly, started to form multiple worst-case scenarios for all the things that could go wrong while he was here, alone and vulnerable.

 

He sat down on the couch, letting out a sigh and staring off into the darkness. Invasions. Wild animals. A fire. A flash flood. The pups all simultaneously waking up and screaming at the same time. One of the pup suffocating in their sleep. Him suffocating on nothing. A hundred and one bad situations played through his head for the first half hour or so of the hunt, and he frowned.

 

No , he told himself. This isn't like when you were on your own. You're more mature now, more prepared. The pack made sure you were ready. Otherwise, they wouldn't have trusted you with this.

 

For some reason, the reassuring voice in his head sounded an awful lot like Jimin. Jungkook sat up a bit straighter, his brow furrowing in confusion as the weird moment from earlier filtered back into his conscious.

 

Why was he acting like that? Like he was mad at me not doing something.

 

There was a quiet little creak of a floorboard, and Jungkook jolted slightly out of surprise. He turned his head, looking around the back of the couch toward the hallway, where a blanket of light spilled out across the floor. But nothing else was there.

 

Oh. Maybe it's because of the baby... he mused. He looked down into his lap, considering for a moment. On the island, Jungkook had received a lot of surprising moments, a lot of revelations.

 

But he felt like finding out about the pregnancy, having that confirmed , was among the topmost thrilling news he'd ever gotten.

 

However, what he now wondered was...did Jimin know? It kind of seemed like he did. But it wouldn't do much good for Jungkook to bring it up now , when things had been set up just-so. Seokjin had a very particular manner in which he wanted to spring the news on the pack, as lame as Jungkook thought it was, he also had to agree that it was 100% Seokjin's chaotic, excited side. He smiled, and dropped his head back onto the back of the couch, letting his hand drop to his stomach, to feel there. He knew he wouldn't be able to feel anything yet , but...he could imagine . it.

 

~~~

 

Seokjin rushed along the underbrush, his wide paws pounding against the ground as he rushed toward the wobbly images of his pack mates running on ahead of him. He could hear the playful yips as some of them teased and nipped playfully at each other, and he could hear the weightiness of their heavy breathing, the rustle of leaves and foliage as they pressed onward.

 

His lungs drew in ragged breaths, and he felt the joyful coolness of the damp, dark evening. He almost slipped on some mushrooms at one point, stumbling through until he reached the top of a knoll where he had seen Yoongi's gray form vanishing into a dry and dying azalea bush.

 

The woods opened up, clearing into a lazy hillside that, Seokjin knew from previous hunts, would suddenly taper off into a cliff face. They were nearing better hunting ground, and he could smell it. Yoongi running up ahead of him suddenly picked up his pace, turning to head up the hillside after something he'd seen.

 

Lit up in the moonlight, there were elk. They stood quietly, mostly still, one or two with their heads bent low to the ground. Hoseok made it to them first, and he could see the dapple wolf bounding steadily across the grass. He turned, checking for the others. As if they were one, the rest of the pack had moved into a circular wave, chasing after the startled elk. They cried out, and turned to run from the oncoming wolves. Seokjin, who was along one of the further sides, took his time at a fairly easy trot. The first step was always to wear them down, make them tired.  Two elk ended up running off at an angle from the rest of the pack, and Seokjin could see Jimin's interest pique, as they closed in. Hoseok, meanwhile, had caught up to the bulk of the herd and was nipping at their heels, keeping them on the move. The more tired they were, the less likely they were to get away or to fight back.

 

Jimin tried to bite at the ankles of the nearest elk, but it evaded him steadily, head tilted back in its funny way as they crossed the larger part of the open hillside, exposed and desperate.

 

Seokjin saw Yoongi nearing on his right side, and after a glance, he dashed forward, darting directly in between the two running elk. They panicked, their long legs flailing about as they stumbled along the uneven earth in the darkness. The one to his right side made a direct turn to his right, away from Seokjin, and ran straight into Yoongi's waiting maw.

 

He could hear the elk scream as Yoongi's teeth tore in, soon joined by Jimin as they rushed in and toppled and pulled the elk to the ground, making it vulnerable to their overwhelming power. The running and wearing down could last for hours. But once the elk was within reach of their jaws, everything finished quickly.

 

The rest of the elk-herd stood on, staring in a way that Seokjin had always thought to be very grim and casually morbid, watching their fellow consumed before their very eyes by the wolves which surrounded the fallen. The elk seemed listless, almost confused, as they stood not fifty yards away and did nothing, almost waited for the finish.

 

Seokjin's fur was stained red as they consumed, fulfilling a natural need for the continuance of their world, of the instincts of their kind. His senses seemed to heighten as well as numb as he joined the others, indulging in the satisfaction of a rare hunt.

 

After a few moments, he glanced over and saw that the others - Namjoon, Kiara, Taehyung, and Hoseok - were surrounding a fallen elk of their own, cleanly split between the four as they devoured.

 

Seokjin gnashed his teeth, enjoying the energy of his pack, their coordination in the hunt, and the glowing rims of red, gold, and blue around their eyes. Warmth bubbling up in his chest, he threw his head back and let out a triumphant cry to celebrate the hunt, self-conscious of his pack mates around him watching his call with mindfulness

 

Words weren't necessary as they cleaned the carcasses thoroughly and slowly started to walk back toward the cabins. Seokjin walked at Yoongi's side, letting the Omega lap gently at the blood beneath Seokjin's chin, quiet and calm now that they had raced the adrenaline away.

 

The bright moon glowed down on them, clear and blue on the brightly-lit night. Seokjin noticed that Jimin and Taehyung, even in wolf form, rarely walked anywhere except side-by-side. They picked among the roots and dried out river banks of the woods, not looking directly at each other except for the occasional glance, but still maintaining a close proximity all the same. The sight of their hindquarters swaying back and forth, the contrast between Jimin's soft, elegant curves and Taehyung's long legs and torso. Seokjin felt calm, being able to look around and see the other wolves.

 

Truth be told, he had seriously considered starting his own pack. Truth be told, it was tempting, to become the lead Alpha and to start a family of just-themselves, himself and Jungkook and their soon-to-be pup.

 

But it didn't feel right. And it never felt quite right, anytime he made himself seriously sit down and consider it. It wasn't even just the familiarity and the time he had invested in this pack, since leaving his first one. This was more about the bonding he'd experienced with every single pack member, even though some took much longer than others. Seokjin had come to love each of them in their own quirky, unique way. There was an energy and an impact to each pack member, like colorful threads inexplicably woven through a beautiful tapestry.

 

 Could someone be soulmates with an entire pack at once? 

Seokjin saw his brother Namjoon picking his way carefully across a dried up creek, and he nudged into him playfully. His maw opened as he gave a happy little pant, tongue lolling out a bit in what was the closest wolf equivalent to a smile that he could accomplish. Namjoon looked over his shoulder, the wolf hesitating before nudging him back. Seokjin couldn't help it - the feeling of a successful hunt was like a happy and pure high, and he rarely got a chance to tease his brother properly, given his position in the group needing to maintain a certain level of respect. But after a hunt, when everyone was full and happy? Now was a good opportunity to enjoy being the older brother, and he took that opportunity. 

 

Namjoon hesitated for a moment, ears twitching back and forth in a clear indicator of confusion, and then he yipped a little and bumped back into Seokjin, making the bigger wolf slide a little across the dead leaves which dotted the creek bed. Seokjin barked back happily, before getting carried away and barreling his entire form right into Namjoon, sending them both tumbling into the side of the creek bed and knocking into some dry lumps of earth. There were little lumpy, dried-mud towers built up like pires from the crawfish, and Namjoon's shoulder broke into them as he wrestled and nipped at Seokjin's shoulder in play. The other wolves paused at the ends of the creek bed, watching the two Alphas play-fight for several minutes, until they were both panting gleefully from exhaustion. Namjoon flipped Seokjin onto his back, knocking the wind out of him as he fell against the stone slab that made up the creek bottom. When Seokjin stilled for a moment to get his breath back, Namjoon grew concerned, leaning in and sniffing at Seokjin's chin as he used to do. 

 

Seokjin's response was to pant for a moment, the fur in his side moving up and down in quick succession as he gained his breath back. Then he nipped at Namjoon's nose, causing the Lead Alpha to make an endearing surprised noise that blended in with an instinctive growl. Seokjin would have laughed, and laughed hard, at his brother, but in the next moment he was being tackled and wrestled with again.

 

They continued their playing for far too long, as the darkness grew deeper and the moon dimmed as clouds drifted in front of it. Seokjin glanced up to see the last of the pack moving on, having tired of being spectators to the two brothers.

 

We should head back , Seokjin realized, turning to his brother and giving his ear a loving lick, now that the others were out of sight. We've been away from the pups for quite a long time, and Jungkook is there alone.

 

As if he could hear Seokjin's thoughts, Namjoon's ears twitched, first all the way forward, then back, and then upright again. The Lead Alpha shook his fur of the dirt and debris they had rolled into during their playing, and made his way up the creek bank. They could no longer see the other wolves, but Seokjin could catch little fleeting whiffs of their Scents, lingering in the air behind them as if they were invisible trails beckoning them on. Even further in the distance was the somewhat-rank smell of Namjoon's dirty socks, somewhere ahead of them at the edge of the woods and tied to a post in the ground as a gross sort of flag to signal their way home, in case any of them should get lost in the dark.

 

Seokjin wanted to run, to excitedly burst back into the dark clearing near the cabins. But at the moment, his legs felt a little tired, his muscles a bit sore and cramping from playing quite hard after a large meal. So despite his excitement to go back and tell Jungkook about their successful hunt, he lumbered languidly behind Namjoon until eventually the footpath reappeared, and then the trees started to spread and thin out, eventually opening before them into the clearing. The cabin windows glowed with warmth from inside, and Seokjin could hear voices inside as they stepped up onto the porch. Namjoon shifted first, rolling his shoulders to clear up the kinks and stiffness as he came back to his human form, standing before the door and glancing over his shoulder at Seokjin with a little smile.

 

Seokjin chuckled a little, then reached out and pulled a broken piece of twig out of Namjoon's fluffy hair, showing it to him before dropping it to the side. They walked into the cabin, finding Taehyung in the midst of very excitedly telling Jungkook about the hunt, along with every explicit detail. There was that booming depth to Taehyung's voice when he got this worked up, eyes sparkling with energy and that golden rim that signaled him as the pack's Beta.

 

Jungkook, meanwhile, was standing there with Jimin wrapped around his waist, clinging onto the younger as if he was worried to let go, a pout on Jimin's face.

 

"And then Namjoon came in with this great sweep of his teeth, and I jumped onto the elk's back, and my weight helped bring him down, so we--"

 

Seokjin smiled in their direction, but snuck off into the bedroom instead, allowing the others to fill in on the storytelling. Meanwhile, he had a pleasant tidbit of his own to show-and-tell.

 

He made his way down the hall, walking past the bedrooms where sleepy little pups were dozing peacefully. He went into the room he was sharing with Jungkook, where six balloons he had blown up earlier that day, having filled each with a special 'prize' for his fellow pack members.

 

The balloons were in variously sized phallic shapes, bumping along behind him as he went back out to the living room.

 

At that very moment, Jimin had turned to Jungkook, an indignant look on his face as he glared at him. Jungkook looked a bit thrown off as Jimin placed his hands on his hips and stepped in closer, as if to make doubly-sure that Jungkook's full attention was on Jimin and Jimin alone.

 

"You can't fool me with an excuse like that, Jungkook!" he was saying. "I know you better than that. Just admit it! You're pregnant !"

 

POP!

 

At that moment, Seokjin had fully stepped into the main room of the cabin, holding his balloons aloft, and in his other hand he held a small kitchen knife. As soon as the words had left Jimin's mouth, and the awed mouths all around them opened, Seokjin moved (mostly in a panic) into action. He quickly jabbed into the balloons with his tiny weapon, making the balloons pop as he repeatedly waved at them. The sudden explosion of sound seemed to instantly fill the room, and Hoseok and Kiara both shrieked in surprise, the former jolting back away from the sound on instinct and bumping his elbow into a mug that had been sitting on the table.

 

Inside each of the balloons, Seokjin had placed a bunch of little slips of paper that said We're Expecting! and he had even bought a dozen little miniature babies made out of wax, similar to the kind that were hidden inside the traditional King's Cake. The confetti, he would allow, was going to be a bitch to clean up later.

 

In the aftermath of the bursting balloons, everyone stared at Seokjin, faces looking horrified and shaken. Confetti riddled his clothes and hair, and the broken balloon bits hung limply in his hands as the wax babies fell to the floor. Behind him, every single one of the sleeping pups started to wail, having been abruptly woken up by such an intimidating sound.

 

Seokjin smirked, straightened, and puffed out his chest with all the pride in the world that a happy Alpha could manage to contain within one singular body. "We're pregnant!"

Chapter Text

The chaos that ensued in the following minutes was a mess of sound and movement. Jungkook felt nearly overwhelmed by the sud den pressing in of his family on all sides, grabbing his arm and congratulating him, hugging him. The conglomeration of Scents clouded in every direction and swept him off his feet into a sensation of euphoria. He wasn't sure what it was, exactly, that caught him very off-guard emotionally. He had been happy and excited when he had found out about the baby, sure, but there was an added color of emotion to hearing everyone else know about it, and acknowledging it, and being happy for him, that caused Jungkook's eyes to fill up with tears, and he choked back a happy sob as Taehyung lifted him up and heaved him around the room in happy celebration. He saw a few others with teary eyes as well, including Kiara, who kissed Jungkook's cheek in happiness. He could smell the salty tears as they trailed down one of her cheeks, and her smile was broad in bliss.

 

"I'm so happy for you," she told him, bursting out in a laugh as she wiped at her eyes. "God, I feel like my heart is going to burst out of my chest."

 

"Mine, too," Jungkook replied, sighing. Jimin was clinging to him almost as roughly as Taehyung was. Jungkook looked around, trying to find Seokjin, and was surprised to find the Alpha being bear-hugged on either side by Namjoon and Hoseok, who were squashing him between them as Seokjin stood there, helpless, immobile and looking quite shell-shocked. He glanced up and met Jungkook's eyes, and the two of them laughed. It felt odd, with the two of them not being the most ridiculous dorks in the room.

 

The happy whooping and hugging only lasted so long, however, as swiftly and surely, one-by-one, the mama and papa wolves had to turn their noses to the back bedrooms to calm their crying children. Kiara made a laughing comment about how they were probably perfectly fine, just spooked, but Jimin was already wringing his hands in trepidation, concerned about checking in on his babies.

 

In the end, it was Jungkook and Seokjin who were left standing in the living room, and Seokjin was just sending him one of those smiles, the goofy ones which were warm and familiar, and perhaps a little shy. He stepped toward Jungkook, one hand on the younger's arm, and they shared a long, lingering kiss, a silent glee and celebration all their own.

 

"Seokjin!" Taehyung hissed, stepping out into the hallway with Joonhee in his arms, "You better get in here and help get these pups back to sleep. It's your fault that the two hours we spent getting them to bed in the first place got wasted!"

 

"If one's asleep, the other has a wet diaper," Jimin bemoaned dramatically, stepping out behind Taehyung with Taeyeon gently draped across his shoulder, patting her tiny back. "And if that one gets a clean diaper, the other feels too hot under their blanket."

 

"You're gonna love parenthood," Taehyung snorted.

 

"Fine, fine," Seokjin rolled his eyes, fingers reaching out and wriggling in a gesture to obtain Joonhee. "Give me that one."

 

" Seokjin ," Taehyung frowned, "It has a name." 

 

" It ?!"

 

Jimin gasped at his mate, only to have both brothers suddenly burst out in laughter, their sarcasm slowly sinking in to Jimin's realization as he drooped his shoulders, watching his daughter being transferred from one to the other. He rolled his eyes, then went back into the bedroom. Taehyung vanished for a moment, then came back with Joonhee's pacifier. They had most of Joonhee's things colored purple, and Taeyeon's things green. Taehyung, without hesitation, popped the pacifier in his own mouth, sanitizing it of any fuzzies or stickiness, before he leaned in and put it into Joonhee's fussy mouth, quieting her. She instantly focused her mouth on suckling the pacifier, the plastic guard bobbing up and own in rapid succession. Seokjin placed his hand on her back, his fingertips stretching about as wide as her shoulders, and pressed down slightly. Instantly, Joonhee flopped over onto her uncle's shoulder, still suckling the pacifier roughly and blinking her eyes with increasing slowness.

 

Taehyung smiled warmly at his daughter, petting her soft head. "You love your Uncle Jinnie, don't you, Joonhee?"

 

"Yeah, of course she does," Seokjin said with confidence, his tone lowered and his volume delicate as he tried not to disturb her. He began to bounce up and down a little, adding a soft sway to his movements as he cradled the babe with care. Taehyung smiled, then lowered his hand and went back to check on Jimin and Taeyeon.

 

Seokjin bounced the baby a bit more, kissing the top of her head and starting to pace the room. Jungkook found a place on the couch and curled up there, just watching Seokjin putting the baby to sleep. His chest still hadn't lost any of its powerful swell from the excitement, and he didn't suspect it would ebb away at any sort of notable rate anytime soon, judging from the way Seokjin looked right now, shoulders broad as he held Joonhee so carefully and lovingly. He started to hum, then quietly was singing a lullaby to her, his hand still resting against her back and patting every so often. His voice was breathy and shy, as though he was unsure if singing too loud would disturb the energy in the air. Jungkook could imagine him, napping on the couch someday, shirtless, with a small, delicate baby across his chest, also fast asleep. He could imagine Seokjin playing in the woods with a baby, he could imagine him playfully and dramatically trying to divert their child from a rare outright "no" to a request by acting silly and petulant. He could almost taste the summer ice cream on his tongue and feel the exhausted goodnight hugs right now.

 

"What?" Seokjin asked, his tone and posture awkward as he realized Jungkook had been staring at him. "What is it?"

 

"Nothing," Jungkook said quietly. He pulled his knees to his chest, fingers toying with the tips of his toes as he tilted his head. "Just thinking."

 

"Bout what?" Seokjin chuckled. "About how amazingly attractive I look with an infant on one shoulder?" The honest answer was a 'yes,' but Jungkook didn't want to make it that easy for him. His knee-jerk reaction was always to give Seokjin a little bit of a hard time, as that was how they both felt most comfortable showing affection, after all.

 

"Well, at least the baby is attractive. I can't believe she can sleep with the way you smell like sweat and like a hunt." Seokjin's bobbing of the child ceased, and he turned to more forthrightly face Jungkook. "I washed as best as I could when we got back, okay? I scrubbed my face with the expertise of a man who knows how to care for his skin." Jungkook chuckled, sitting and li stening to Seokjin ramble on in his own defense, knowing his ears were going red and that he was now feeling embarrassed and concerned about his own smell.

 

In response, the Alpha pouted his plush lips. Even in the dim light in the living room, silhouetted by the hallway light, his lips stood out as a prominent feature. "How dare you complain about my smell when I maintain a high level of hygiene, you know it's a part of my job, and --"

 

After letting him fumble for a few minutes, Jungkook stood up and leaned over carefully to kiss Seokjin's cheek, cutting off his half-dramatized monologue and whispering, "You're fine, Jinnie. She looks comfy enough."

 

Seokjin just gave a thin grunt, and adjusted Joonhee, the babe now mostly asleep against her uncle's comforting shoulder. The Alpha paced the room for a few more minutes, as the custom in the Bangtan pack household was that you never assume a pup is fully asleep unless you've allowed at least fifteen to twenty minutes of snooze time, just-in-case, and then he went off into Taehyung and Jimin's room to hopefully deposit the child.

 

In the meantime, Jungkook finally left the now abandoned living room, going down the hall to their room. Seokjin's mess of scattered balloons and such was scattered around the dresser, but Jungkook stubbornly refused to clean up his mate's clutter, instead expertly getting undressed and ready for bed while gingerly avoiding the plastic bags and spilled confetti. Seokjin had been waiting to announce the baby for awhile, he had told Jungkook, and he wanted to do it "with a bang, just like how we made the baby." Jungkook had then promptly punched him right in the stomach, making Seokjin wheeze with both laughter as well as lack of air. He had even been packing around the balloon items for ages, apparently.

 

Jungkook, now crawling beneath the covers, feeling exhausted despite the fact that he hadn't even gone out on the night's hunt, pulled the blankets over his legs and then reached over to the nightstand, where the delicate baby blanket that Seokjin had lovingly prepared was sitting, folded up neatly. Jungkook ran his thumb over the stitches, feeling a strange surge of powerful emotion again. He was confused by it, able to do nothing but sit there and wallow in the deep wells of pure feelings until Seokjin came in, the smell of fresh hot water and his shampoo immediately permeating the air and overtaking every other smell in the room, and making Jungkook's nose scrunch at the strong smell.

 

"Hey," Seokjin said with a smile, leaning down and planting his hands on either side of Jungkook on the bed. He leaned in, touching their foreheads and noses for a long moment, meeting Jungkook's eyes before he leaned in for a kiss, and then two, and then three. He stood up and finished getting ready for bed, then, and soon was crawling in next to Jungkook, who was still transfixed by the winsome baby blanket. Seokjin kissed his cheek as a silent question of whether or not he was okay, and Jungkook leaned his head against the Alpha's shoulder.

 

"We're gonna be parents..." Jungkook murmured. "I never thought I'd be a parent..." 

 

"Me neither, to be honest. Don't get me wrong, I like kids. I just never thought much about having my own."

 

"Yeah, exactly. And then when it was taking so long..." One side of Jungkook's lips twitched up in amusement and wry humor. "Our kid is going to be a tornado."

 

"Of fucking course," Seokjin said, with the casual air of a confident Alpha. "A little ragamuffin. A tiny torture device. A bombastic baby. An inspiring infant."

 

Jungkook smiled, then leaned against Seokjin's chest, feeling comfort in the familiar breadth and warmth. It was a good place to be, leaned up against his mate, his Bonded mate , and feel at home. There were no more scary sounds, no more stupid illogical fears to assuage, and no more loneliness to dread. Not anymore.

 

He reached down and took hold of Seokjin's hand, holding the palm aloft and inspecting it carefully. Seokjin allowed him, the hand limp and the fingers pliant as he bent and unbent them, studying each knuckle with undeterred attentiveness.

 

"You know..." Jungkook said quietly. "I was sure that when I first joined Bangtan pack that I would come to hate it, or they would come to hate me."

 

Jungkook's voice had fallen into a wistful, demure and small tone, almost like a sad child, and it was the voice he used fairly exclusively when he was sharing a rare moment of serious vulnerability, so Seokjin merely made a small sound of assent to let Jungkook know he was paying attention.

 

"I figured that if my family hated me enough to abandon me, there was no way a pack would come to accept me. Even after I was with them for a long time, I thought perhaps I would do something wrong and make them angry at me or hate me." 

 

"Yeah..." Seokjin mumbled.

 

"But they were always so nice. I don't really understand it, sometimes." A beat. "Well, I do, in a way, but not really? Like I see it, and I believe in it, but it makes no sense to me. Namjoon has never hurt me, or threatened me, or told me to leave. And I honestly don't think he ever would. But he goes beyond that. Namjoon and all the others made me feel like this is my true family, no matter what."

 

"I feel that, too," Seokjin supplied, careful not to comment too much, as the Omega needed the moment to speak on his own terms. The way he fussed around with Seokjin's fingers got a little haphazard, spreading and squishing together the fingers into a bunch and then fanning them out again, as if he needed the movement to keep a part of his brain properly occupied.

 

"They made me feel super at ease, and let me have my space and time. Even when we disagreed a lot, or when I crossed bounds or did stupid things, I always felt like they'd love me, no matter what I did. And that's just... a lot to handle. It's a whole lot."

 

"Yeah, I'm sure..." He reached out and brushed Jungkook's bangs back from his forehead, and Jungkook felt tears welling up in his eyes again as the thing he was really getting at started to bubble to the surface, like hot spring water bubbling to the earth's crust.

 

"I never want our pup to feel like I did, before Bangtan pack. I never want them to feel like they're alone. Like they don't have a family."

 

The words came out in a semi-choked sob, and carried more weight than words could ever properly hold up to without crumbling into a messy, emotional cacophony. Seokjin's arms quickly reached out and embraced Jungkook tightly, holding the Omega's face to his chest as he squeezed him tight, kissing the top of his head every once in awhile.

 

"I understand, Kookie, shh.. It's okay. They won't ever feel that way. Bangtan pack is their family, and ours." He kissed Jungkook's forehead, then each cheek. "Never, okay? We're not going anywhere." 

 

"You promise?" Jungkook managed, biting his lips and trying to regain control. He felt stupid, crying over such a thing, but he felt so strongly about the days he had had to meander the streets, all alone, and despised and spat on everywhere he went, that he was shaking again, as if he had been sent back to that time when he was a small and weak lone wolf. He had hated sleeping alone during the winter, unbearably exposed and open to attack from anyone who had the passing inkling to do so. He had hated being kicked or bitten at by small groups or packs, eager to taunt a weakling that had wandered away from anything resembling the word home . He had hated feeling hungry, all the time, every day, no matter what. He had hated the way he smelled and felt.

 

Now, years later, Jungkook still trembled visibly at the memories, and Seokjin had, at some point, given him a large pillow to cling to and hug to his chest. The smell of the pillowcase was fresh and clean, but somehow it still felt like the grime and pain, the silent suffering of all those years ago, had somehow sunk into his skin, and some days it felt like no matter the amount of scrubbing, that those traces would never be fully cleansed out of his skin.

 

"Shh...it's okay," Seokjin reassured him, giving little kisses and pecks everywhere he could, allowing Jungkook the moment to reside within his feelings and nostalgia, not asking any questions as he knew they riddled Jungkook with anxiety. Speaking about the past was one thing he was utterly terrible at, a complete and useless mess. It wasn't that he didn't consciously want to share those memories with Seokjin - although on some levels, that was certainly true - but that he physically couldn't verbalize some parts of it, even with all the tools and strength he had come to bear now.

 

"We're not going anywhere," Seokjin reminded him. Jungkook nodded, reassured by the simplistic promise, one without any strings attached or complicated phrasing. This was home, now, and he would kill if that's what it took to protect the pack, his family. This was the home and family he wanted to raise a child with, and he knew that for certain, down the very marrow of his bones.

 

The next few minutes were spent simply laying there on the bed, wrapped in each other's presence, and Seokjin gave a little kitten lick at Jungkook's jawbone, a signal that he was checking in on Jungkook's mental state. Jungkook finally looked over and met Seokjin's eyes, smiling a bit to reassure him.

 

"We're gonna have to come up with baby names," Jungkook said at last.

 

"Do you mean to say," Seokjin said, all apparent seriousness in his voice, "That you won't accept Geraldine as an indisputable baby name?" 

"Seokjin, no."

 

"How about Pilot?"

 

"Vetoed." 

 

"Lil Sport?"

 

"That makes it sound like our baby is a teeny tiny rapper."

 

"Maybe they will be. What about Chanseol?"

 

"Listen, I--" Jungkook stopped, then looked over at Seokjin, surprised at the suggestion. "What?" 

 

"Chanseol. What do you think?" Jungkook sat back into their pillows, rearranging them and slowly settling back into the bed. He let out a short "Hm" sound, considering it. 

 

"It sounds nice." 

 

"I think so, too. And the characters are good, at well. And it has that 'evergreen' sort of feeling to it, right?"

 

"Yeah..." Jungkook hummed, pulling the blanket up over his shoulder and curling against Seokjin. "Chanseol. Our firstborn."

 

Jungkook smiled, cuddling in closer, more for the effect than for the closeness, as they were already plastered against each other. "Yeah. Goodnight, Jinnie."

 

"Goodnight, Jungkookie."

 

"You better fucking clean up your mess in here tomorrow."

 

Seokjin gave a grunt, and Jungkook bit his nipple in reprimand, making the Alpha yelp and jolt up in the bed.

 

Jungkook gave a laugh, rolling onto his side and closing his eyes. Seokjin wrapped his arms around his Omega, coiling himself around Jungkook's trim w aist and tucking his head over the Omega's in a protective, warm position. Exhausted and content, they slowly drifted off to sleep, and only good dreams came to Jungkook that night.

 

 

~~~~~

 

If ever there was a time to take a bit of a risk, it was now. Kwangie took in a deep breath, his tiny feet planted as firmly as he could in the dirt. His little toes curled, drawing in a bit of the loose topsoil and shifting it around as he stared at the edge of the woods. Kwangie stomped his feet, then spun, the hairs on the back of his arms standing bolt upright as he sensed the right moment coming upon him, his energy tingling and every nerve in his body coming to sharp attention. Kwangie didn't want to be a little boy anymore. He had decided he wanted to be a wolf today. He spun rapidly, waving his arms in the way that he had when he had succeeded last time. The first time didn't accomplish what he wanted, even though he could feel his wolf form on the edges of his awareness, like the residual heat that emanates off fresh ashes in an invisible wave. But Kwangie was undeterred by his initial failure at the task, spinning once again, more violently this time, as he nearly tripped and fell over. He ended up leaning forward anyways, catching himself on two tiny paws in the soft, moist earth. Kwangie's tail immediately wagged out at full strength and full length, indicating his utter bliss at being shifted. He barked out of happiness, twirling around twice, then thrice.

 

"Kwangie?" called out a voice. Kwangie's ears flicked back and forth, senses tingling once again. Jungkook was looking for him. But Kwangie didn't want to be told to shift back. He had waited until his opportune moment during breakfast to sneak away. Kwangie turned, heading off toward the edge of the woods, using them for cover until he was far enough away that Jungkook wouldn't be able to see him.

 

Just as he was turning out to wander out to the beach, though, he heard Jungkook again, this time yelling out with a tone that told Kwangie he had been spotted. "Kwangie! Kwangie!"

 

He felt the thrilling shock of being caught doing something naughty, and he turned and started bounding at full speed down the length of the beach, now cleared and easy to run down since the adults had removed all the debris. He wanted to giggle and squeal in delight, feeling confident that he was getting away with his little game, but he settled for picking up more speed, rushing across the sand.

 

But then there was a sound like panting, and Kwangie's ears twitched in the direction of the source. His heart leapt into his throat as he realized Jungkook was right behind him . When had he caught up? He was so fast. Jungkook's wolf form was lean and wasn't as big as Uncle Namjoon's or Seokjin's. But he had caught up to Kwangie easily, his Scent of soap and leather stinging slightly at the edges of Kwangie's sense of smell. Despite knowing at this point the inevitability of being snatched up, Kwangie continued to run, trying vainly to pick up more speed. He felt Jungkook pressing in more, cornering him between the Omega and the ocean, forcing him to run in wetter, heavier sand that made each step take more effort, until he was panting and could feel his heart thrashing wildly in his chest.

 

Then, beneath his path there was suddenly something on the ground, and it was too late before Kwangie realized it was a washed-up jellyfish. In fear of the jellyfish's sting, he bolted up straight into the air, falling toward Jungkook and awkwardly sending his four legs flailing in all directions in the sand. He kicked in a panic to try and get away from the scary sea creature, and it was in that moment that Jungkook swooped in, scooping up the pup by the scruff of his neck, and carrying him dangling from the Omega's maw back to the cabins. Kwangie gave weak little kicks the whole way, secretly glad he had been 'saved' from the mean jellyfish, but also knowing that he was going to be told not to do things, and would probably be made to shift back into his human form, and Kwangie didn't want to do that. He wanted to be a wolf today, it was what felt right, and he didn't want to talk about why he wanted that.

 

Meanwhile, Hoseok came out of the cabin, his face worried as he saw Kwangie being carried back toward him. His eyes widened and his arms outstretched, and Kwangie knew his Daddy was talking to him, but he didn't want to listen to his words, so he deliberately refused to listen. Kwangie was being cradled in Hoseok's arms, a mix of coaxing and reprimanding words being whispered against his temple as Hoseok expressed how worried they had been. They walked back into the cabin, with Jungkook still in wolf form close behind, and Kwangie felt like pouting. They couldn't make him change back, he was pretty sure. So it was all about being mad and staying mad so that he wouldn't give in and do the things his Daddy asked him, even if his Daddy made the sad, hurt expressions he sometimes did.

 

Hoseok sat down on the couch with Kwangie, petting his fur and asking him what was wrong, which of course received no answer. The adults' words seemed muffled around him as he laid stubbornly in Hoseok's lap, tucking his nose under his Daddy's arm and ignoring everything else around him.

 

"Do you think he got hurt?" Hoseok was asking Jungkook, who shifted back into human form just at Hoseok's feet, staring into the pup's eyes.

 

"No, I'm pretty sure he was fine. He runs fucking fast , too. I've never seen a pup run that fast."

 

"Well, something must be wrong, he hasn't shifted back. Maybe he's stuck? Oh god, it would be horrible if he was stuck."

 

Jungkook tilted his head, watching Kwangie's eyes close as the pup continued his stubborn streak. "No, I don't think so. I think he just wants to stay as he is right now."

 

"Well, he needs a bath," Hoseok said with an eye roll. "And wolf or not, that's going to happen."

 

"Just give him a little time, maybe," Jungkook suggested. He rested his chin in his hands, elbows slipping up onto the plush surface of the couch cushion, watching Kwangie. The wolf's ears twitched, and his nose gleamed with healthy wetness. "I think he's fine. He definitely didn't step on the jellyfish."

 

"Okay, as long as you're sure," Hoseok sighed, drawing the wolf pup closer to him, petting the fur in a simplistically comforting way, the father and son settling down into a quiet moment together. Jungkook remained as he was, seated on the floor in front of Hoseok, and said nothing.

 

The smell of bacon still lingered in the air from breakfast, and light spilled in through the three cabin windows that lined one wall. The light illuminated the natural dust that permeated the air, twirling about each other in uneven, minuscule little flecks. Jungkook watched them for a long time, realizing that many of them never seemed to find their destination or even a direction of descent. Time passed slowly, most of the pack having a mid-morning nap to avoid the unexpected heat of the afternoon. Seokjin was in their room, actually, curled up and facing the wall, his back to the door and a pillow hugged against his chest. Jungkook wondered lazily for a moment if he wanted to go crawl in there with him and sleep as well. But as sleepy as the warm day seemed, it felt like he should stay awake, and Jungkook wasn't sure what that feeling was caused by or if it was even a valid emotion to be feeling. He sat back on the heels of his hands, and Kwangie finally opened one eye, lifting his head up a little bit.

 

"What, you feeling all awake now ?!" Jungkook teased, dramatically rolling his eyes and curling one side of his lips into a smirk.

 

Kwangie, in response, jumped off his Daddy's lap and into Jungkook's, trying to tackle the Omega over with determination and what body weight he managed to have in his diminutive frame. Jungkook laughed, feeling Hoseok watching them both for a moment.

 

"Do you think he just...prefers wolf form?" Hoseok wondered, mostly aloud to himself it seemed, as he wasn't looking at Jungkook when the Omega glanced his direction.

 

Jungkook hummed, considering for a moment. "Maybe. I know when I didn't have a pack, being in wolf form felt...safer, somehow. Not to say that he's feeling unsafe, just.." Jungkook shrugged. "I also stayed in wolf form a lot when we first lived together."

 

"Hmm..." Hoseok was frowning a little, considering. Then, as if a switch had been pulled, he suddenly burst out in a bright smile, jumping down until he was able to reach his son, making funny noises as he tickled and grabbed at him. Kwangie, sensing the game immediately, started to jump back and forth with excitement oozing from every single fibre of fur on his little wriggling body. His tail wagged so far back and forth, and so quickly, that it became simply a blur of dark greys flashing to and fro. He looked so happy, particularly when being encouraged to play and rough house by his Daddy. Jungkook watched the two of them go back and forth across the floor, moving in and out of the rectangles of light that stretched across the wooden floorboards which still smelled like fresh lumber. They looked so happy playing. Jungkook could smell Hoseok's worry about it, but Jungkook wasn't overly concerned. Kwangie looked much more formidable, somehow. As usually the boy was quite morosely sick or healing or generally just tired. It may have been that he wasn't in the body form he had most belonged in. Jungkook would not have been surprised, considering he had come across some classmates in university who had said as much the same. Some people simply felt better and more themselves when they were wolves.

 

He watched Hoseok playing with his son, doing a slightly more aggressive form of hide and seek as they rushed around the furniture. At some point, both Hoseok and Kwangie were leaping over the back of the couch, a flash of two wolves suddenly, one much smaller than the other, making Jungkook shake his head. It was never really quiet in the Bangtan household, and he was sure someone would grumble about being unable to take a proper nap later. Kwangie, very excitable now that his Daddy was playing with him, gnawed on the end of the table, his sharp little teeth bared as he lightly growled, Hoseok burying his face in the pup's fur and pretending to 'bite' him, even as the adult wolf very clearly was being quite careful with his precious son. Kwangie then released the table after a small, splintering crack, and ran over to boulder into Jungkook, trying to escape his father's grasp. Jungkook let out a grunt as his breath was knocked out of him, and then pushed the pup aside, letting him run toward the kitchen for more chasing room. Once the bulky form of Hoseok's wolf flashed beyond his peripheral, he looked at the coffee table Kwangie had decided was his favorite chew toy. There was a sizable chunk now ripped from the new wooden coffee table, and he shook his head and sighed, smiling. He thought back to the old cabin, before it had burned down, and how there had been teeth marks on nearly every piece of furniture below waist level. He recalled how nostalgic he had felt, looking at those marks, even though he had never known the pups who had made them.

 

Well, perhaps they had been Namjoon, Seokjin, and Taehyung, now that he thought of it. He tried to imagine the three of them as pups, running around just as Kwangie was now, chewing on everything and drooling on every surface.

 

A sudden wave of longing washed over Jungkook, and his smile faded a little. He turned to see the two wolves were still playing. A sweet and happiness-stuffed memory being made for the both of them. Jungkook kind of wished he had had that. The loss of memory, on a typical day, seemed like nothing. There was nothing there, so there was nothing to feel the emotion of missing for. But on days like this he wondered...had he rough-housed with his brother like that? Had his parents been loving and happy to play with him, supporting his quirks the way that Hoseok and Yoongi were supporting Kwangie's preference for wolf form, or not disturbing him when his little piles of belongings got big or cumbersome in the walkways. Had his parents been there for him and worried about him when he was sick, just like Namjoon and Kiara had stayed up the entire night when Naiara had gotten her ear infection, and had wailed and cried constantly, pained and miserable?

 

Jungkook didn't know. He didn't know if he had been left, or hated, or loved, or lost. And at this point, he wasn't sure anyone would be left who remembered him. And the fact remained that even if his brother was still alive, and could be found, and remembered those days, it would still never be Jungkook's own memory, but someone else's. What a dreadful existence, he sometimes thought, to have had an impression and a place in the history and experience that multiple people had had, but to have no way of acknowledging or even maintaining that memory in their honor. He imagined that if any of the pack died this year, the entire rest of the pack could carry on that wolf's memories, right? If nothing else, they would remember, they would be able to care.

 

Jungkook, at least for his family's memories, was unable to do that. He had nothing from them, no experience he had given them, no advice or warning or bad or good lesson, to derive from his time with them, however long or short it had been. They were as much a part of his consciousness and memory as a perfect stranger he passed on a busy street once in his life - he had some inkling that that person had existed, because they must have, but beyond that, they were a nothingness.

 

Kwangie and Hoseok gradually tired, and Jungkook watched as Kwangie, small and light-footed as a pup, happy high-stepped his way below the dining room table, the chair legs blocking him partially from view from Jungkook's vantage point in front of the couch. The pup curled up into a circle underneath the table, his tail brushing back and forth lazily and in contentment, as he yawned the biggest yawn his tiny body could procure. Hoseok, panting a little from the playful exertion, struggled to fit under the table. Determined through his fatherly instincts to maintain some physical closeness with his young son, Hoseok awkwardly and clumsily squeezed himself between two of the chairs' legs, sticking his head into the curved back of Kwangie's fur, making sure they were touching as they both laid down to nap.

 

Jungkook watched them, unmoving and silent. Slowly, he laid his hand across his stomach, thinking about the unborn pup that would soon become an irrevocable part of their lives. He c ouldn't change his own failings in remembering his old family. But he had a new one, a new family that had chosen him and would never leave him alone, as he had been once before. Namjoon had appeared as the gentlest, most perfect Lead Alpha he could imagine, and the rest of the pack (with one notable exception) has become his brothers and sisters, and the one shining star in his life, the symbol of hope and of the ability to become a better person, was here: his Mate. 

 

How could he be unhappy with things, as they were now? He couldn't go back, he couldn't make people not have already moved on into their own lives without him, as his birth pack has obviously had to do. But he could ensure that the cycle stopped here, with himself, with this new life, right? 

 

A hot breath was suddenly against his ear, exhaling and tickling his skin and successfully shaking him out of his reverie. "You seem awful deep in thought for once."

 

Jungkook jumped a little in surprise, then looked over his shoulder at Seokjin, who had bent himself over the couch so his face was fairly near Jungkook's. 

 

The Omega tilted his chin to indicate silently toward the table, where Hoseok and Kwangie had fallen deep asleep. "They were being awful cute."

 

"Someone else I know is awful cute," Seokjin chuckled, dramatically huffing when Jungkook ignored his comment to instead watch Kwangie's furry little body move up and down in slow, relaxed sleep-breaths. "What's wrong?"

 

Jungkook said nothing for a long moment, slowly craning his head to the side so he could see Seokjin's concerned face. He gave a winsome smile. "Nothing, I'm just sleepy, I think."

 

"Well, good thing, because I happen to be an A+ sleep buddy," Seokjin boasted proudly. His hand reached out and patted Jungkook's shoulder. "C'mere, let's go take a nap."

 

"Didn't you just take one?" Jungkook chuckled, only for his Mate to shake his head.

 

"I was playing my Switch, excuse you."

 

"Mario Odyssey?"

 

"I need those fucking moons, after all. It's hard work."

 

Jungkook laughed quietly, trying not to wake the two sleeping wolves as he stood up and moved to follow Seokjin to their room. He wrapped his arms around the slim waist from behind, his wrists resting against the elegant hips and his chin hooked over the Alpha's broad shoulder. "You really expect me to believe that video games is hard work?"

 

"It can be, the way I play it." Seokjin led the way back down the hall, both of them automatically tiptoeing their way across the still-creaky new wooden floors, so as not to disturb any of the other rooms and the infants (and a Yoongi) within. 

 

"You mean badly. You play badly."

 

"Shut your face, Mr. Jungkook, I am an excellent gamer."

 

"You play like a grandma and you blame every death on your controller or your stomach."

 

Seokjin dramatically glared at him with a wild-eyed look that was certainly more amusing than aggressive, and slipped into their bedroom. Jungkook shut the door behind them, laughing a little more freely as he heard the door click shut. 

 

"How fucking dare you, after all I've done for you," Seokjin stated, his dry humor permeating every "argument" like this they had. Jungkook could already see the light flush that seemed to warm across Seokjin's cheeks, his bold nature never quite following through when that softer, shyer side of him seemed to leak out. Jungkook shook his head, kissing Seokjin's forehead as he crawled into bed next to his Mate.

 

"But more seriously, you need to clean up your mess in here." Jungkook pointed out, glancing around the bedroom with Seokjin's celebration litter strewn about. Seokjin seemed unperturbed, his inclination instead to wrap his arms around Jungkook, coiling himself around the Omega in lazy distraction.

 

"Mmph. I will. Later." Seokjin mumbled into Jungkook's back. "Now let's nap." Jungkook chuckled, allowing the two of them to become very entangled underneath the sheets, Seokjin's head resting against Jungkook's chest, and the ends of his hair tickling Jungkook's nose. Rest, especially after all the recent levels of excitement, came easily.

Chapter Text

Warm breath. Hot skin under the sheets. Jungkook woke up to the smell of Seokjin all around him. Jungkook felt the oppressiveness of Seokjin's rut before he could open his eyes, and when he did, it was to see Seokjin's back turned toward him. He could see the marks of sweat at the Alpha's sides, darkening the fabric of the shirt he was wearing, and he was breathing heavily. Jungkook could see the way all the muscles in his body contracted, stiff and uncomfortable as he struggled with a pressure of nature caving in on his senses like an avalanche. Jungkook frowned, reaching out and touching his hand to Seokjin's arm. Seokjin moved a little in surprise, then seemed to hug his arms to himself more tightly. Jungkook, sensing his Mate's pain, nuzzled into his back with his nose, giving a little noise of concern. The musk that clung to Seokjin during his rut was always so overwhelming, and it was difficult to not just give in to the strange flood of arousal and panic that came with the smell.

 

"Jin..." Jungkook whispered, and he could see that it had an effect on Seokjin, rippling through him like an echo through a deep cavern. Seokjin gave a low rumble in his chest that somehow resembled a timid acknowledgement, despite the dark undertones. "Jin, turn to face me."

 

Seokjin, after another moment's hesitation, gave in and finally rolled around on the bed, upsetting the sheets and the blankets that were aggravatingly caught up around them. One of the sheets got folded just-so around the heel of his foot, and Jungkook reached down to help him unhook it so that he could settle back in, a bit of sweat already building on his skin.

 

"It came on fast this time, I don't know why," Seokjin mumbled, his teeth half-gritted. "Sorry."

 

"Nothing to be sorry about," Jungkook said. He couldn't quite meet the hungry glow in Seokjin's eyes, the red lining that said very clearly Alpha and rut as he stared at Jungkook with need. Instead, Jungkook fixed his gaze up on his Mate's forehead, brushing back the clumped bangs from his temple and blowing a cool exhale to chill his sweating skin. Seokjin's eyes closed at the gesture, and he seemed to quiver a little. "You want to fuck me for a bit? I'll lock the door."

 

Seokjin laid in the bed, unmoving, and staring down at the pillow in a bit of a shameful look. Eventually, though, he nodded. Jungkook kissed his forehead, then slipped out of the bed to lock the door against any intruders, of any size, and crawled back into the bed. He drew the blanket off of them, leaving just the sheet, and wriggled out of his bottoms in a few awkward tugs as he tried to remain close to Seokjin while also declothing. Seokjin's bottoms came next, and he was giving a few weak whimpers as he tried to help Jungkook pull them away. When they were done, Jungkook threw one leg over Seokjin's waist and climbed on top of him, bare thighs on either side of the Alpha.

 

Seokjin had told him, more than once, that he liked how Jungkook looked when he was on top of him. Jungkook tried to save the position for special occasions, but it liked to sneak its way in on days like Seokjin's rut, when he was aching from the hyper-sexual need of his body and needed to be given more. Jungkook felt Seokjin already hard beneath him, and he rolled his body until he was grazing up against the entirety of Seokjin's crotch, holding his weight up off the Alpha by lifting up with his thighs just a bit. Seokjin, teased by the bare touch, let out a needy sound, his hips jolting upwards of their own accord, and bumping Jungkook's bottom up and almost causing him to fall forward. The Omega let out a little "Oof," sound, before smiling and continuing. They kept on that way for some minutes, Jungkook rolling against Seokjin and occasionally reaching down with a hand to stroke him a few times, until precum was dampening and lubricating between them, the skin sliding more and more smoothly by the minute. Seokjin whimpered, and Jungkook knew that the Alpha, a type of man who liked to exercise self-control as a sort of challenge to his own needs and wants, would have been content if Jungkook had kept that up for actual days. Taehyung often thought Jungkook was exaggerating, but Jungkook knew the look on Seokjin's face. They had tested that boundary before, and Seokjin was practiced enough in his own mental strength (or, Jungkook would argue, mental stubbornness) that he could - and would - hold himself back until he got the signal from Jungkook to move further, to initiate more. It had taken Jungkook a long time to realize these more subtle symbols and communications they had been sharing, and they had been subconscious at best on his own part. But part of getting to know Seokjin was getting to know his mind and his body as one complex whole, and quiet questions after sex had led to further understanding of his Alpha's needs.

 

Jungkook knew he could tease Seokjin like that forever, that Seokjin enjoyed the somewhat torturous build with nothing to show for it. But in the midst of a rut, he couldn't help but feel it would be quite unfair of him to drag out. And besides, they would be missed by the rest of the pack if they didn't show up the rest of the evening. Jungkook lifted himself up off Seokjin again, taking a gentle hold of the hard member beneath him and giving it a few more purposeful strokes before lining himself up and slowly sinking down onto Seokjin's length. He grunted, always a little surprised at how his body, while used to the fun they had on the regular, still maintained that satisfying ache of being filled deeply by his Alpha's hot and demanding cock. He paused halfway through to let himself relax into it, to enjoy the great and fleeting sensation of the first few moments, of that point of entry. He could feel it into his skin, into his bones. His hips could quake from the right moment of holding, his chest could pound from it. The first fuck during a rut was always the strangest, a unique experience that Jungkook couldn't quite put into words. Not that he ever needed to, truly. Seokjin was consuming him with his eyes alone, and then he was squeezing his eyes shut, sucking in through his teeth as Jungkook sank down onto him completely. He rested there for a moment, his thighs shaking a bit from bearing his weight so much earlier. But Seokjin was gritting his teeth, trying to not move, to not thrust upwards and shake him on his perch. He was being so good, and strong. Jungkook reached out and rested his palms on Seokjin's shoulders, angling himself to press himself more deeply around Seokjin, making the Alpha moan out, probably louder than he should have been. It was nice, once in awhile, to make Seokjin come a little undone.

 

In Jungkook's mind, he could be the sole unwinding thread that made Seokjin crumble completely, but he knew full well that it was Seokjin's moment, his decision, his instance of the turn, that would cause the rut to really begin. Jungkook rolled his hips, lifting himself up off Seokjin as best as he could. He felt Seokjin slipping his hands around Jungkook's waist, holding him near as Jungkook began a rhythm that had Seokjin's nails starting to dig in, lightly at first, then more deeply and painfully as the thrusting became more pronounced, more overwhelming for them both. Jungkook groaned, shutting his eyes to drown into the feeling. He liked to put on a bit of a show for Seokjin, who preferred to enjoy his sex through the senses. He could feel Seokjin raking over his body with his gaze, and he angled his back to provide a better view, about to open his eyes to look down at Seokjin when there came a movement beneath him, and then a hand was on his chest, sensually kneading and scratching at whatever Seokjin could reach. Jungkook gasped, instinct causing him to draw away but adoration and thrill drawing him close, making him lean in for more as Seokjin pulled Jungkook toward him, dislodging their connection a bit but placing one of Jungkook's nipples into his mouth for him to suckle at. The tickle of a tongue cause Jungkook to loudly moan, his body shuddering as the thrilling sensation trailed through his whole being from head to toe, until he shivered visibly.

 

Seokjin chuckled, mouthing affectionately and beginning to suckle harder, until Jungkook's skin panged from the pain of the hickey that Seokjin was undoubtedly leaving behind. The Alpha hummed appreciatively, one hand petting its way down Jungkook's bare back as his mouth lapped tauntingly at the fresh and blooming mark of rosy pink.

 

"I love when you're super sensitive," Seokjin managed to say, leaning back onto the pillows so he could admire Jungkook's flushed cheeks and new mark a bit better. "It never takes as much for you, does it?"

 

"Shut up," Jungkook said back, sounding more miffed than he actually was. "And let me ride you."

 

"Yes, sir, " Seokjin teased. He continued to chuckle even as Jungkook leaned down to initiate a deep and sensual kiss, one that seemed to pull them both into deeper waters, that had Jungkook wanting more , and made him desperate to do well for his Alpha. He let out a little noise, sighing against Seokjin's cheek before he dove back in again, rolling his hips as best as he could while Seokjin kissed him deeply, tongue exploring into his mouth and making him feel increasingly small and Omega-like. This was where the turn usually rested, just beneath the surface but irrevocably evident in the little things that Seokjin did to drive him wild. He couldn't imagine anyone else maintaining quite that balance of mystery and simplicity that Seokjin offered him in moments like these.

 

Jungkook knew they were getting unbearably close to that turning point, and so he poised himself back up on his perch, back arched and thighs burning while he bounced up and down, sinking and pulling and lifting and dropping, in a heavy and feverish rhythm that had Seokjin soon moving along with him. Their beat was a little off, and Jungkook had to cling onto Seokjin's shoulders so he didn't tumble over purely from a misjudgment of necessary balance.

 

"Jungkook," Seokjin said, his voice lower than usual, a warning. Jungkook had long ago started to recognize this, not as a meaningless calling of his name, nor merely a passing expression of affection, but a question. He was asking permission to initiate the turn.

 

The Omega picked up his pace, wanting to impress Seokjin in that hungry, proud way he had always been trying to impression Seokjin, and he gasped out, "Fuck me, Seokjin. Fuck me into your rut."

 

Seokjin let out a growl, his expression changing, eyes flashing, fingernails digging in once more as he grappled for hold on Jungkook's wrists, flipping them over in two movements. He rolled on top of Jungkook, using his own knees to press up on Jungkook's thigh and force his legs to spread as far as Seokjin could make them. Jungkook laid out, gasping as the air seemed to have escaped his lungs, and arched his back as Seokjin found his bearing and started to thrust wildly into him, going faster than Jungkook expected him to and throwing them both into a frenzy of sensations that vibrated violently between overwhelming and delightful. Jungkook panted heavily into Seokjin's ear, exhaling hotly against the inner curve and making Seokjin quiver with animalistic force and thrust into him harder, lengthening his movements until Jungkook was unable to move, awash with the sensitivity. Seokjin was suckling at his chest again, and Jungkook decided to test the waters with the hold of Seokjin's hands against his wrists, trying to lift his hands away from either side of his face. Instantly, Seokjin leaned his weight down onto the hold, fixing Jungkook where he was and rendering him unable to pull from the position. Jungkook's stomach instantly flipped in happiness, glad to hear the needy growl in Seokjin's throat as he forced Jungkook to lay still and accept his ministrations. A tongue grazed against his collarbone, then teeth dug into his shoulder, making Jungkook cry out and gasp, trying to sit still and be good, even as his whole body demanded he move and wriggle in excitement. The thrusting continued, making Jungkook dizzy from exertion, and he could feel Seokjin's member swelling to even greater lengths, causing a deep ache to become even deeper inside of him. He closed his eyes and all he could see or feel was Seokjin on and above him, in him and around him, pressing him further and further into the mattress until Jungkook was rendered helpless to the touch and attention.

 

"God, fuck," Jungkook swore, hissing out as loudly as his body would allow. His thighs were trembling wildly on either side of Seokjin, and in turn this caused the muscles in Jungkook's body to become like putty, unable to do much besides lie there and feebly attempt to work with Seokjin in his thrusts, trying to help a bit but mostly just moaning aloud to let Seokjin know that it felt amazing. "Fuuuuuuckk..." Jungkook's voice trailed off, guttural and full of candor. He couldn't even see straight, for god's sake. Then, Seokjin angled himself differently, and slammed against the one spot that could utterly crumble him. Jungkook's eyes shot open instinctively, and he bolted up a bit, futilely attempting to throw his arms around Seokjin's neck, but then remembering that Seokjin was pinning his hands down against the pillow. Instead, he met Seokjin's eyes, feeling them start to water and his vision blurring, his insides churning with the chase, the edge nearing.

 

"Oh fuck, fuck-fuck-fuck," Jungkook rapidly exhaled the words in a jumbled mess, making Seokjin bite his lip and maintain the pace. Jungkook could feel himself getting closer, and he knew Seokjin was going to reach his first climax soon, too. Unable to contain the enormity of feeling, Jungkook bent his body this way and that, wanting to chase after the orgasm and holding on to a fear that it would elude him in a torturous evasiveness.

 

"Does my Omega want to cum?" Seokjin queried, his tone playful. "You keep trying to get away, do you really want to cum?"

 

Jungkook, embarrassed at his ceaseless wriggling, which he definitely did not intend as a way to get away or escape the lovely feeling of being this filled and spoiled, just nodded his head desperately, trying to match gaze with Seokjin to convey his sincerity, but being as he was unable to focus his eyes, it came across as more of a wild, glassy look. Seokjin instantly came inside him, making Jungkook groan as he sank into the sensation, moaning as he felt Seokjin's cock continuing to pound inside of him, riding out the feeling even as Jungkook seemed to just sink weakly into the mattress, rendered immobile. Seokjin was using him shamelessly, fucking into him sweetly and in just the way Jungkook loved. Even when Seokjin was spent - or, well, as spent as an Alpha could possibly be in the midst of his rut, rather - he continued to maintain the pace, determined to continue until Jungkook came as well.

 

Filled from the inside out, Jungkook continued to mumble out curses under his breath, unable to do anything but move his hips up and down in a needy way, beyond the point of trying to be elegant or full of pride. He needed to come, and now . He whimpered, biting into Seokjin's arm in frustration when it took more than a minute. Seokjin, surprised at first by the gesture, then kissed him deeply to keep his mouth occupied. The thrusts were slower now, more lazy and deeper, which was what drove Jungkook the most wild. A hand wrapped around his cock, the swollen and crying tip brushed over by the side of a thumb that spread the precum as best as it could, in the circumstances. Jungkook gasped, wanting to sing aloud from the delicious feeling of being spoiled in multiple places at once. He jolted once, twice, then felt the orgasm building, until he came hard against Seokjin's front, spraying white in a few broken bursts of release until they were both sighing and relaxing against each other in a sweaty heap of limbs and hot breaths.

 

They didn't speak at first, didn't really dare to, although Jungkook was happy and contented by the lovely start to wakefulness that was being fucked by his Alpha. But the best part of Seokjin's rut, other than the sudden turning of his more aggressive Alpha side, was the way he got so damn cuddly afterwards.

 

"My Omega," he whispered, breathing heavily against Jungkook's neck. Their faces were close, and the oppressive warmth in the room made Jungkook feel a stab of horniness again as Seokjin ran his arms all across Jungkook's skin, as if wordlessly checking in on all hands and feet and bits of Jungkook to ensure they were alright. "My cute Omega that lets me fuck him so well."

 

"I belong with you," Jungkook breathed back, still flushing a bit red from how corny the phrase was, but very deliberate with every syllable. He meant it. Seokjin moaned happily into another long kiss, and they relaxed into the sheets, trying to catch their breath back again.

 

"You look so pretty on top of me," Seokjin slurred lazily, letting Jungkook pet his hair. His eyes were closed but a happy smile grazed his lips. It was something he had said before, and would say again, but Jungkook still liked hearing him say it. "Do you like being up there, riding me?"

 

"You already know I do," Jungkook squeaked out, as Seokjin wrapped him in a tight hug and nuzzled in on him, looking the happiest he had ever been. "Also, I know you like it."

 

"That I do." Seokjin smiled. "I'm gonna want to do it again tonight, obviously. But if you're too tired, let me know, I can take care of it myself from here."

 

"So you say," Jungkook said with a roll of his eyes, shuffling in closer against Seokjin for post-coital cuddling. "But everyone in the pack knows that neither of us have any self-control in the department of keeping our hands to ourselves."

 

"Hey, it's not just me!" Seokjin protested, his eyes laughing.

 

"I said 'us,'" Jungkook huffed. "Besides, pregnant or not, if you expect me to sleep right next to you and not smell you reeking of Alpha rut, you must think my sense of smell is completely broken."

 

"Mm..." Seokjin opted not to respond to that particular attempt at a scathing comment, preferring instead to nuzzle in close and sniff Jungkook's neck, sighing contentedly. "My Omega," he sighed again, sounding blissful.

 

Jungkook scoffed, rolling his eyes. "It's probably a good thing that we have to head back to town tomorrow. I don't think these cabin walls will be enough to keep your noise in when you're in the peak of your rut."

 

"I can deal," Seokjin said, half-shrugging as best as he could manage while being coiled around the Omega. "But it's fun when we're loud."

 

"Fun, and potentially scarring for the pups, you know," Jungkook reprimanded, slapping Seokjin and making him yelp a bit. "Besides, our actual bed is more comfortable. This one hurts my back weirdly."

 

"Really? I think it's super comfortable," Seokjin crumpled his eyebrows in confusion, lifting his head up to look at Jungkook. "Do you think it's pregnancy aches?"

 

Jungkook smacked Seokjin again across the back of the head, which Seokjin returned in kind, making them both sore and distracted. Jungkook meant to ask Seokjin another question, one about pregnancy and if he should worry about little things like extra aches or pains, but there were voices out in the hallway, and when they checked the time, it was about dinnertime. Their afternoon summer "nap" had gone on much later than expected.

 

They both got dressed and cleaned up before they went out into the hallway, and after a moment, Jungkook went back and sprayed some Scent-blocker into the room to try and dilute the smell. He also cracked the bedroom window, hoping some fresh air wouldn't make it too apparent that a mid-rut Alpha had been there to the outside world. He closed the door after them and found the pups running around crazily, evidently very energized from their earlier nap. Kwangie and Naiara were weaving in and out of any chairs, tables, and other furniture. They nearly ran straight into Seokjin's shins as they settled in for dinner.

 

"Watch out there, tikes," Seokjin warned, sitting down at the table. "There's plenty of room to run around outside, you know."

 

Kwangie ran past, stopping to hop in place a little bit while looking at Seokjin, then he gave a great noise while trilling his tongue, like he was an engine, and raced off in the opposite direction. Seokjin chuckled.

 

Jungkook sat down across from Seokjin, watching Taehyung taking his turn with cleaning up the recently used cookware, and Jimin organizing most of the dinner. Maybe Seokjin had a point. Staying in the cabin was really nice in its own way, even if it was a bit more rustic living. They still had all the things that they needed , and they were far away from most other people, so the pups could run around more freely, the adults could lean on each other dependably, and everything seemed slower and less stressed.

 

But Jungkook liked his job. He liked being challenged by parties or in socializing at work sometimes. He liked the feeling of accomplishment when he did well among his peers, even if it was less recognized, since he was only an Omega. He still felt personally very domestic when they came home to the pack house, where they had been this long. The cabin was cozy but it still felt new and a bit foreign to Jungkook, who despite not having any deep memories of the cabin back when the Kim brothers used to sometimes frequent it, it still felt more familiar than this newer, fresh-smelling material. Kwangie crawled up into Seokjin's lap after a moment, holding up a lego creation he had fashioned into some sort of shapeless stack. Naiara was being calmly instructed by her parents to clean up her toys before dinner, and she was obeying, albeit with her singing children's songs as she did so.

 

It would be nice, in some ways, to exist in a little hollowed-out hideaway from the rest of the world. But the world wasn't meant to be hidden in. It was meant to be challenged and experienced. And he liked that, about life. He wasn't a scared pup anymore that was just trying to scrape by and survive. Seokjin made him want to live .

 

"What is that, Kwangie?" Seokjin chuckled.

 

"He's been making the pack all day," Jimin supplied, smiling over from where he was cutting green onions for garnish. "That one is probably you."

 

Seokjin gave a dramatic gasp. "Is that really me?" Kwangie beamed, then nodded, holding up his weird angular creation, which was unclear to Jungkook whether it was meant to have three arms or not.

 

"Kiara?" Jungkook queried, as the Omega turned toward him with a curious eyebrow raise. "I'd like to talk to you about something later, if it's alright."

 

Seokjin sent Jungkook a weird look, but then seemed to opt not to ask. Kiara nodded, muttering a breezy "Of course," and Jungkook appreciated the way that Kiara could always tell when things needed a little discretion. He hovered around behind her for a bit as she wandered around the kitchen, leaning on her shoulder to watch her and seep comfort out of her motherly frame.

 

Meanwhile, Seokjin was messaging on his phone as he sat at the table, and Jungkook watched him, one of his cheeks resting against Kiara, and studied Seokjin's expression. He looked frustrated, increasingly so the more he looked at his phone, and then he turned off the screen only to turn it back on again and repeat, three times in all within a span of just a few minutes. Namjoon didn't seem to notice, as he was letting Kwangie and Naiara show him their creations out of little legos. Kwangie was still perched in Seokjin's lap, and neither seemed concerned about the precarious perch of the precious little one, even when Seokjin bounced his knee a little absentmindedly, staring down at his phone again and frowning.

 

"Dinner's ready," Jimin announced, turning around with a huge pan that was steaming and full of fried meat. Jungkook crinkled his nose but sat at the table nonetheless. Kiara had prepared the food for the babies, a pureed and simplistic version of what everyone else was eating.

 

"Bro'li!" Kwangie crowed, pushing himself up into a semi-standing position on Seokjin's knee as he stared with wide, happy eyes at the bowl of steamed broccoli. He gave the cutest little pump of his arms, as though already instilled from the inside out with all the nutrients and strength he would derive from the cruciferous vegetable.

 

"Yeah, it's broccoli, kiddo," Seokjin encouraged, patting Kwangie's back a little. "It'll help you grow into a big, strong wolf."

 

"Big 'n strong!" Kwangie cheered. Then, he grabbed one of the long forks that Taehyung had set out, easily crawling across the table in a valiant and energetic attempt to stab at some of the extremely hot broccoli.

 

With a "Woah!" three of the adult wolves at the table shot forward to stop Kwangie before he could burn himself, tip over the bowl, or worse. Seokjin now held the toddler more firmly in his lap, chuckling with a trace of nervousness as he encouraged Kwangie to stay where he was by sliding one of the plates directly in front of the two of them.

 

"Wait just a minute, Kwangie, you have to be patient."

 

"No!" Kwangie pouted, slamming the handle of his fork down onto the table. He heard and paused at the sound it made. Then, in more of an effort to enjoy the satisfactory sensory than to actually be petulant, he continually slammed the fork and repeated a rhythmic, "No! No! No!"

 

"Yes, yes, yes , little man," Seokjin laughed. Hoseok and Yoongi came in the front door, and the smell of fish swept in with them. Naiara looked up and wrinkled her nose at the entering uncles, looking displeased with something even as Kwangie whooped and continued to make more noise against the table.

 

It was nice to see Kwangie feeling at his best, Jungkook thought. But Seokjin looked a little too on-edge to really have his full measure of patience and understanding right now. He hoped that Hoseok or Yoongi would take Kwangie, so Seokjin would be free to relax and eat his dinner. Whatever had been on his phone, it hadn't been good, and Jungkook didn't like it.

 

"Kwangie, no! It's too hot!" Seokjin cried out, using his hands to knock the still-steaming broccoli away from Kwangie's mouth and off his fork. Kwangie jumped a little in surprise at the sudden cry from Seokjin, then glared up at him with reproach.

 

"No! Bro'li!" Kwangie shouted.

 

"Kwangie, calm down and be nice to Seokjin. He's trying to help you with your dinner so you don't burn yourself," Yoongi chided, his parenting voice slipping in as easily as some people slipped on a jacket. He sat down next to Seokjin at the dinner table, then held out his arms for Kwangie. The toddler, getting too stimulated and full of too much undirected energy, wriggled in the opposite direction, towards Seokjin's chest.

 

"No!"

 

"Kwangie, yes . Now come here." Yoongi's voice offered no room for compromise, as he half-lifted, half-pried the petulant child from Seokjin's lap. Seokjin, now freed of his temporary charge, looked over at Jungkook, who met his eyes and then scooted his chair closer.

 

Jungkook didn't know how he could tell, but he could. Seokjin was irritated, and trying to suppress it right now. He reached out and slipped his hand onto Seokjin's thigh under the table, averting his eyes elsewhere to other members of the pack, who were now squished rather tightly around the dining room table. He also wasn't sure how he knew that right now, in front of the others, was not the time to bring it up.

 

But he didn't have to. Namjoon had found out the whatever-it-was, somehow. Namjoon looked up from his phone and squarely directed a worried gaze toward Seokjin, not blinking for a few long moments as he seemed to be gauging Seokjin's demeanor. He then sighed, and took a long drink of water.

 

"Seokjin," he said in a deep tone. Trying to feign nonchalance and calm, Seokjin looked up with a fake innocent look.

 

"Hmm?" he queried wordlessly, taking a mouthful of the now cooled broccoli.

 

"Don't let him get to you," Namjoon warned in a cryptic tone. The others looked between the two Alphas, but nothing more was spoken between them. Seokjin didn't directly respond or even properly acknowledge the advice, just ducking his head and focusing more intently on the meat on his plate.

 

Jungkook frowned, watching Seokjin eat long after the others had decided to let it be and returned to their meals. He slowly, begrudgingly, picked at his food. But maybe it was the broccoli, and maybe it was the worry, but he very quickly started to feel extremely nauseated.

 

He mostly shoved the food around on his plate, perplexed by a very rare (for him) experience of not wanting to eat. Jimin looked over once or twice and nudged him in the shoulder, his overprotectiveness never being shut off, even for a minute, but Jungkook just grimaced and waved it off. This wasn't about him . Something was wrong, and probably with Seokjin, and Jungkook didn't like it. His mind fixated on it until he couldn't even hear Yoongi talking until the word 'baby' echoed through his head.

 

He blinked, then shook himself, noting that most everyone else was focusing very intently on Yoongi as he spoke. "Wait, what?" Jungkook asked, concerned.

 

Yoongi looked at Jungkook and rolled his eyes, smiling freely. "How much of it did you miss, egghead?"

 

"Uh..." Jungkook shrugged. "All of it?" He felt Seokjin suddenly glance at him hard, and then the Alpha's eyes made a beeline for the neglected food on Jungkook's plate.

 

"Quit spacing out so much during family dinners," Yoongi said, full-on teasing him in that way he did when he was feeling excited or optimistic. "Hoseok and I are trying for another baby."

 

Jungkook's eyes widened. "Wow, really? Congrats."

 

"Yeah, it's not going to be anything too forced, just...if it happens again, then that's perfect, you know?" Hoseok chimed in. He had one leg bent up across one of Yoongi's legs, the other leg occupied by their little Kwangie. "We're excited, though. It's nice to be in a place where we can seriously consider another pup."

 

"And we think Kwangie will bloom a lot as an older brother," Yoongi added. He leaned down to smile at Kwangie, who was shoving broccoli into his face until his cheeks were puffy like he was a chipmunk or a hamster. Yoongi kissed the top of his head, oozing fatherly affection while the toddler gleefully consumed his greens with vigor.

 

Jungkook smiled. That would be a good thing. Kwangie would love being an older brother. And whether it was a boy or a girl, they would add a bit more variety to their growing little playground. Jungkook was a little worried about the little things, like Yoongi being off of work for another extended period of time, when apparently his sergeant had not been super pleased with all the time he'd taken off before. And he had started noticing some streaks of jealousy and rivalry between the pups. Would having more pups make that easier, for them to learn to compromise and play together nicely, or would it cause too much competition and tantrums?

 

He wasn't sure. It was all such new territory.

 

Oh god. Jungkook froze, staring down at his plate. There weren't really words for the sudden feeling that washed over Jungkook, then. If he had had to describe it to someone, he would have said it was like a grey disgust. A nauseating feeling rose up from the depths of his stomach into his mouth, exhaled as an aftertaste that lingered and disgusted him further.

 

He was definitely about to vomit, even though he had only taken about four or five bites of dinner. He stood up suddenly, exiting the room and ignoring the alarmed questions being thrown at him as he rushed down the hallway. He pushed the door shut to the bathroom and instantly lost what little food he had had, directly into the toilet.

 

Given that there hadn't been much in his stomach as it was, heaving up what little he had eaten was very different, and more difficult, than it normally was. He was trembling on the side of the toilet after a few minutes, after the third attack of heaving had finally subsided, and Seokjin was calling for him through the door.

 

"In a minute," he said, holding his foot out and bracing the door shut. He didn't want the smell getting out. He didn't want Seokjin seeing or smelling the grossness. Instead, he wanted to suffer through it and get it over with as soon as possible. He felt the unsettling, unsanitary coldness of the porcelain toilet, and he felt the world spin a little from dizziness while he sat there, willing his stomach to please, please, please, calm down and stop demanding the impossible.

 

"Jungkook?" came Seokjin's voice again, full of worry.

 

"I'm fine, I just need a minute."

 

"Do you want me to get you some water?"

 

Jungkook considered for a moment, then plucked some toilet paper off the roll and wiped his mouth. It tasted foul, and horrifying. Like death. "Yes, please."

 

"Okay, I'll be right back."

 

He could hear Seokjin take the few steps into the kitchen. He focused on listening intently to the muffled sounds of the pack talking quietly and the sound of the faucet being turned on, and the clink of silverware against glass. He focused on those sounds, instead of the gross sight of the toilet in front of him, the chilly porcelain unforgiving and irredeemable.

 

Another soft knock at the door, and Jungkook sighed. It had been a minute or two, and nothing was threatening to come out and join the rest of his latest meal. So Jungkook flushed the toilet and pulled himself to his feet, ignoring the wave of disorientation as he had expected  as a result of the movement. He opened the bathroom door, and Seokjin was there, Jimin at his elbow and a plastic child's cup of water in the other, a look of concern etched across his face and a protective Alpha scent oozing off of him.

 

"Jungkook?" Seokjin queried. "You alright?"

 

"Yeah, I am," Jungkook gave a weak smile, taking the water and using it to try and remove the very metallic, acrid and acidic taste in his mouth as best as he could. "I dunno, I just felt kind of nauseated, then boom."

 

"Hmm.." Jimin murmured. "Morning sickness already for Jungkookie?" He tapped his chin with one chubby finger, considering. Jungkook frowned. Maybe that's all it was. A perfectly natural and common experience of morning sickness.

 

But it did not feel, at the moment, very natural nor common. It felt horrible, sickening, and especially made to make him feel as rotten and uncomfortable as possible.

 

He moved to go back to the dinner table, little Naiara watching him closely as he started to pull his chair out to sit back down next to Seokjin. But the instant his gaze grazed over his abandoned plate of food, he felt that wave of nausea again. He stepped back as though the back of the chair had bitten him, and shook his head before going to sit down on one of the couches instead.

 

"God, I don't know why," Jungkook bemoaned, "But there's something on that plate that's making me sick. Like actually sick."

 

"Hmm..." Kiara supplied gently. "But you usually like this meal, Jungkook. Jimin may be on to something."

 

"But pregnancy is supposed to be exhausting, but fulfilling. It's supposed to be a beautiful experience. I feel like my intestines have been ripped out of me," he whined, closing his eyes and focusing on his breathing to keep himself from throwing up again. "Oh, gross..." he burped, having to taste the entire thing all over again. He grimaced, drinking another long swig of the water he had been given.

 

Kiara shook her head slightly, walking over to Jungkook and brushing away the young man's bangs before she kissed his forehead. "Welcome to the start of months of torture."

 

"And agony," Taehyung added, sipping orange juice out of Kwangie's sippy cup. "Don't forget agony."

 

"Aches, pains, swelling," Yoongi chimed in, looking a bit scary as he glared ahead in memory.

 

"The worst part is the emotions," Taehyung declared. The others varied between emphatic, empathetic nods and rolls of the eyes, dramatic as ever they were. "You're not pregnant if you don't have random crying sessions over mundane things like finger nail clippers or the smell of cherries."

 

"Although to be fair, some people are like that all the time, even without carrying pups," Jimin suggested, his tone almost sage-like as they drew nearer full circle of Jungkook's still unanswered wonderings.

 

"It's more likely than not that it's morning sickness," Taehyung told him, meeting his eyes as Jungkook inhaled in deeper breaths than he exhaled, hoping for the best. "Usually it only lasts for the first month or so at the most."

 

"A month!?" Jungkook cried out, and the others chuckled in gentle amusement.  Jungkook threw his head back. "I know, I know, I knew it was coming, but still... that shit sucks."

 

"I know," Taehyung said soberly.

 

Imitating him, Naiara looked over at Jungkook, and in the same tone of deep sobriety, she told Jungkook, "I know. I know."

 

Jungkook chuckled at that, despite the deep-pit-of-the-stomach nausea. They then luckily left him alone for a few minutes as they finished their dinner. Seokjin kept going back and forth in a nervous beeline between his dinner plate and the arm of the couch where Jungkook sat. He brought him fresh water, a cool washcloth for his head and neck, and ran his hands through Jungkook's hair several times to try and calm him. Jungkook was grateful that Seokjin didn't press with an obnoxious array of questions, but simply wordlessly fetched him things he anticipated Jungkook might need, and left them near him.

 

After most of the pack had moved into Hoseok and Yoongi's room to put away the legos into Kwangie's special box for them, Kiara came over and started suggesting foods. Most things they had in the cupboard sounded terribly disgusting to Jungkook, from the sandwiches to the jar of pickles to the juice to everything. They basically went through the entirety of their kitchen item by item, but finally Jungkook just settled on some saltine crackers. He sat on the couch, laying on his side now with his head on Seokjin's lap while the Alpha petted his head and occasionally forced him to drink water, a saltine being nibbled gently and at a slow, lazy pace.

 

After Kiara left the room for a moment, Seokjin leaned in, kissing Jungkook's cheek, and quietly teased, "Is Chanseol being mean to you, my Mate?"

 

Jungkook pouted, then slowly nodded his head, nibbling on another cracker a bit more. Seokjin chuckled, running his hands through Jungkook's hair with amusement.

 

"We knew the pup would be a handful from the first," Seokjin pointed out. "How could any child of ours not be?"

 

After a long pause, Jungkook wriggled a bit until he was looking up into Seokjin's face, and he wagged a finger right in the older's face. "You're right, and I know you're right. But listen. Right now, you should not fucking say it., I don't want to imagine all the potential turmoil."

 

Seokjin just laughed at him again, kissing his cheek. To that, Jungkook pouted, making sure to close his lips tightly, in case there was any residual smell from the vomit lingering. After the nausea had finally passed, he slipped out of Seokjin's lap and brushed his teeth, gathering more water before they escaped back to their room, leaving the dishes as someone else's problem for the rest of the evening. Jungkook couldn't stand the thought of even looking at the leftover food on the pack's plates, much less conceive cleaning it off at that moment.

 

Since it was a quiet night, and the pups were being read bedtime stories or playing quietly, Jungkook and Seokjin crawled back into their bed, with Seokjin playing video games and Jungkook curling, full of trepidation of another nausea attack, just at Seokjin's side.  He tried to watch Seokjin game for a time, but then found that watching him jump around in multiple 3D-scapes and whirling the camera around every which way, just made matters much worse.

 

Jungkook hoped that a pup would be worth it, if this was his potential month ahead.

 

He had almost (almost!) drifted off into sleep at last, when his mind, drowsy and self-absorbed, reminded him of Seokjin's face earlier, and Namjoon's comment.

 

Sleepily, he reached up and laid his hand across Seokjin's wrist, getting the Alpha's attention. When he saw the look on Jungkook's face, he automatically reached over and paused the game, giving his full gaze and attentiveness to his Omega. "Yes?"

 

"What happened earlier? With your phone?"

 

Seokjin, as usual, tried to play dumb about it, but Jungkook wasn't convinced when the Alpha arched an eyebrow, looking as confused as he could and stating, "What about my phone?" in a voice that was just a little bit too high for Seokjin's normal timbre.

 

"You read something on your phone earlier, and it made you upset," Jungkook stated bluntly, too tired and nauseated to argue with Seokjin and beat around the bush with regards to this. "Then Namjoon said not to worry about someone. What is going on with you and whatever you saw on the phone?"

 

Seokjin stared at Jungkook for a long moment, then he gave a sigh. "It's fine, it's just some stupid family stuff," Seokjin said, in a voice that told Jungkook it wasn't fine and it definitely wasn't something stupid. But Seokjin leaned down and kissed Jungkook's forehead, and he got a nose-full of Seokjin's lovely Alpha Scent of soap, mixing with the smell of Jungkook's Omega mix of leather and saltwater.

 

Jungkook gave a scoff, but he was too tired to give up much of a fight at this point. Somehow, exhaustion had swooped in on him with less than a moment's notice. He was completely unable to keep his eyes open, as each eyelash felt like it weighed over a ton, and it spoke to his level of stubbornness that he managed to force them to open long enough to lift his head up and berate Seokjin with a simple, "Liar," before he dropped his head down and started to allow himself the luxury of drifting off to sleep. He could hear after a few quiet moments Seokjin's game starting up again, as the man continued to play, his arm wrapped around his Omega protectively even as the Omega drifted off into dreamland with no one to depend on, a little work of exercise in making it through all on his own. Jungkook hated to dream.

 

Partially it was because dreaming meant the risk of coming across one of his old memories that he was unable to bring to the front of his consciousness, and experiencing those things all over again in a year. These memories would, in all likelihood, not be recognized as a memory, but some random hodge podge of images which Jungkook couldn't quite piece together, but had an aggravatingly uninformative sense that they were important to him on some level.

 

Another reason he hated dreaming was because he had to do it entirely alone. He had gotten so used so quickly to being a part of a large family, of always having someone else nearby to talk to or to accomplish things with. Someone to compare to and understand one's self better. Not to mention the love and support, which Jungkook was well aware he had become increasingly dependent on and expectant with. But when one was alone in their dreams, there was no one to remind you that it wasn't real. In dreams, you could easily see all your closest loved ones betray you, and not understand why, you just had to deal with it.

 

He had noticed that such threatening dreams happened less when he was physically able to keep in contact with Seokjin. He figured it was a hormone or lecture related, but he figured it couldn't hurt to test the theory a few times, and it worked almost every time. Nonetheless, dreamland could be a nervous place to get to.

 

As if sensing his sleepy if turbulent thoughts, Jungkook felt Seokjin lean down and kiss his forehead once, then twice, then a third time, as if reassuring him that he was not truly alone. Jungkook let out a sleepy sigh, and then allowed himself to fall asleep at long last.

 

Chapter Text

It was one month later, and Jungkook was happy to report that his morning sickness had finally subsided. They were back at the main house, and days were swiftly flying by.

 

Jungkook now could visibly see the growing swell-bump of a spot on his stomach, as if he had eaten way too much pie after dinner, and he felt himself ache in all the most annoying ways, and also feel warm inside in all the most exhilarating ways.

 

Since his first shifting, Kwangie had become obsessed with exploring his wolf form, and now would shift at random times during the day. Jungkook often came home from work to see the cute little pup sprawled across the middle of the living room floor, having slept where he fell from exhaustion after all the playing he had done. Although Naiara often played with Kwangie in his wolf form, and even though her parents asked her if she wanted to try again, she seemed much less interested in continuing to practice her shifting at that time, so the subject had been dropped. There would be plenty of time for her to get the hang of it, and the next hunt would be a prime opportunity, as there was more space for her to explore anyways.

 

The twins, on the other hand, were growing rapidly. Seokjin had taken to calling them 'Weed One And Weed Two' and threatened to get them matching onesies which said precisely that. They were crawling all over now, and getting into everything. It took extra attention by all wolves present to make sure that Kwangie in his wolf form didn't fly past and knock one of the twins into the side of a table or a chair leg.

 

Joonhee, luckily, usually seemed utterly unbothered and unhindered by her special arm. Jimin was hovering around her now, his hands outstretched in case she needed to fall into them, and his eyes were locked on her as she struggled to lean up onto her hand and knees. Her shortened arm was pressed into the carpet to help her stand, and she whimpered as she lifted her huge head to look at Jimin. A gurgle escaped her, then a series of noises in succession that seemed to increase in excitement as she bounced a bit in place, as though she was encouraging herself before taking the chance. Then, she wriggled her waist side to side and tossed her little knees forward, jerky movements and pulls forward sending her off across the carpet.

 

Most of the time, when she was as blazing around the coffee table or trying to chase after one of the other pups, one couldn't even tell she was any different from her peers. But when the missing hand was missed, and Joonhee lost her balance once in awhile and faceplanted into the carpet, Jimin always rushed forward with concern, often trying to catch her before she hit the ground.

 

"Joonhee, baby, are you alright?" he queried as he lifted the child, kissing the top of her head and holding her close to his chest. "Did the rug reach out and get you, sweetie?"

 

"She's gotten a lot better at it," Taehyung commented. Jungkook looked up from his phone, watching the couple as they corralled their twins in around the living room. "Just give her a bit more time and she'll be speeding along right next to Taeyeon with no problem at all."

 

"Yeah, but what if she falls?" Jimin pressed, concerned.

 

"Kids fall. She'll be alright."

 

"And what about what other kids will say? I don't want them making fun of her."

 

Taehyung gave Jimin a look, his expression dark and reproachful in a wordless way. He said nothing, and after a moment he returned to fixing Taeyeon's onesie, the snap clicking as he redid it.

 

"What was that look for?" Jimin narrowed his eyes.

 

Giving a shrug, Taehyung didn't say anything.

 

"Listen, I know comments are inevitable. But I don't want her to grow up feeling like she's…."

 

Taehyung sent another of his dark gazes toward his Mate in warning. "She's disabled, Jimin. You can say it or not say it, it doesn't change it. Is she the same as everyone else? No. She never will be." Taehyung, letting Taeyeon crawl off at a notable speed, reached over and took Joonhee from Jimin's arms, and he held the baby in front of him as she wriggled and made cute noises. He kissed her nose, and stared into her dark eyes, even though his next words were aimed at Jimin. "Is she absolutely goddamn perfect? Yes. And nothing will change that."

 

Jimin frowned, looking at the two of them. Jungkook suspected, however, that at that moment Jimin was unable to see just his Mate and daughter, in lieu of seeing a very trying and painful future.

 

"I'm not trying to make a fuss over nothing," Jimin said gloomily, defensively. "I just want her to be prepared for things."

 

"Mmhmm," Taehyung hummed, utterly noncommittal in a way that Jungkook knew got instantly under Jimin's skin. He glanced between the two wolves, expecting more of a fight, but Jimin met Jungkook's eyes for a moment before he turned away, sitting quietly on the floor and watching Taehyung coo and play with Joonhee for some time.

 

Jungkook went back to his phone. Perhaps Jimin had decided he would wait until the two of them were alone, but Jungkook knew with as much certainty as he knew the sky was blue, that Jimin was not done with this conversation. Jimin was not one to let the little things slide by, and he was nothing if not protective of his loved ones. If anyone were to even threaten Joonhee's well-being, or hurt her, Jungkook had no doubt that Jimin's retribution would come swift and without remorse.

 

 

While Joonhee's disability was, in Jungkook's opinion, going to be a hurdle for her, and Jimin's predictions were in all likelihood going to prove true, he wasn't sure if he agreed with Jimin on worrying about it so much now , when she was too little to even comprehend her body or make comparisons with others. Her little mind still hadn't developed empathy or thought beyond her ego (or so Seokjin had rambled on about with Namjoon the other day, such as was the weird discussions between the two brothers about babies whilst they ate their respective breakfasts). Joonhee wasn't bothered by her arm, so why should they be?

 

On the other hand, Jungkook couldn't help but wonder, if he was in the same position, how would he react? It would be easy for someone who was an outsider to the situation to say that it wouldn't bother them, but much harder to maintain that when it was your own child, your own situation, your own life.

 

Jungkook dropped his hand to his stomach, and hoped that his baby would come out happy and healthy, no matter what. If they came out shaped a little differently or looking a little differently, he figured that would be fine. But he had heard from Seokjin stories of the NICU. His Alpha would come home after long hours and stressful shifts, his expression broken and his entire essence bedraggled and worn down to the nub, and he would tell Jungkook of babies who were fighting for their lives from the instant they came into the world. Infants with heart issues that would shorten their life spans. Newborns with genetic anomalies that would give them constant pain. He hated to hear the stories even as he was supportive of Seokjin's stress and his work, which he thought very important (even though he didn't really understand a lot of it, if he was honest). It was hard for him to hear about, not having seen or touched the babies, so he couldn't imagine how it was for the doctors, and the nurses, and the families and the parents of those children. He wasn't the type of person to turn away from a challenge, god knew, so he would tackle on the challenge if his child was somehow different ... But he hoped above all else that the baby was happy and healthy, and had a long life.

 

The front door opened, and Kiara walked in with Naiara strapped to her back in a unique sort of baby sling. Both girls had on wide circular sunglasses, and had cute matching sun hats. Naiara was nuzzling in to her mother's neck, Scenting her mother softly in that sincere, open way that children could, and Kiara sent all the boys a smile and a wave.

 

"We got pizza for dinner," she declared. "Since Mama had a lot of shopping to do."

 

"Pizza!" Naiara crowed. "We got pizza! Pizza!"

 

Taehyung gasped, dramatically playing up his surprise to make Naiara look his way and smile, her little arms still half-wrapped around her mother's neck. "Pizza?! Wow! I love pizza!"

 

"Me, too!" Naiara declared. "Me, too! Me, too!"

 

"Do you want help putting the groceries away?" Jungkook offered, standing up and dropping his phone onto the couch.

 

Kiara waved her hand, freshly manicured from her rare but important Ladies Day out with Naiara, where the two of them did a bunch of errands together and usually got a treat or two. "If you wouldn't mind," she said, the dark red nails standing out in the gesture as she went to drop her purse and a bag on the kitchen counter.

 

Kiara's car was an endearing little VW Bug in a vibrant blue hue, and the inside of the car smelled strongly of her Omega Scent. Jungkook walked out into the driveway, flip flops thrown lazily onto his feet as he opened the car door to find that it had been piled pretty high with grocery bags, as well as a large box that was stretched out over one of the seats, and looked like some kind of child's plaything. It was about four feet tall and he would sure it would prove a challenge to slip out of the teeny car. Jungkook piled his arms with as many grocery bags as he physically could, and walked back into the house. Jimin was following close behind, with Taehyung watching the twins. Naiara had already raced upstairs, as Jungkook could hear her singing and her little feet pounding against the floor as she jumped and danced.

 

"I don't know how she gets all the energy, but if she could give me even a tenth of that intravenously, I'd take her up on it in a heartbeat, "Kiara joked, her sunglasses now balanced on her head and her whole posture changed now that she didn't have a toddler on her back..

 

"She hasn't even reached the terrible teens, yet," Taehyung warned, chuckling to himself. Joonhee was up on her hands and feet again, and she was making her way steadily toward the front door. Taehyung, luckily, caught her long before she could reach the little drop in the entrance way.

 

"I swear to god, the day she reaches thirteen, I am up and taking a month-long vacation in Maui until the pimples have settled in properly, the tears have (temporarily) dried, and she's already dated and broken up with her first partner," Kiara sighed, rolling her eyes dramatically.

 

"What about Namjoon?" Jungkook asked, following her back out the door for another load.

 

Kiara gave him a teasing smirk, shrugged, and simply said, "What about him? I wish him luck."

 

Jungkook laughed, imagining Namjoon dealing with Naiara's first forays into puberty. It wouldn't be fair, that was very true - but it would be extremely funny.

 

"How are you feeling today?" Kiara asked, starting to fuss with the large mysterious box on the back seat, wriggling it back and forth in an attempt to free it from its temporary confines.

 

"I'm feeling better," Jungkook said. "I work tomorrow, so that should be good."

 

"When do you plan on taking leave for the baby?"

 

Jungkook frowned, then shrugged. He reached in to help Kiara shift the box, and finally they got it free of the door. She insisted on carrying it, placing it under one arm while she waited for Jungkook to take a different set of bags. "I dunno. I don't think it's time to, quite yet. I like my job, and it's not so taxing that it's unreasonable for me to wait. Besides, I'm only in the beginning stages, and while I'm sore, it's not horrific or anything."

 

"Fair enough," Kiara nodded. She shut the car door behind him, and they headed back inside. "I can understand not wanting to just sit around on your ass all day, it's an infuriating business in my opinion. So don't let them pressure you. You take the time off when it feels right."

 

Jungkook smiled. "Thanks. To be honest, Seokjin has already been complaining about it, but it's so early..."

 

"Yeah, Namjoon wanted me to start staying home full-time the day after we knew, actually. And to be fair, I only work part-time, so it's not like it was that huge of a difference, but still. Having work is good for some of us."

 

"Is that all of it?" Jimin asked, coming back to the front door.

 

"There should be one more armload," Jungkook said, stepping aside so Jimin could slip past.

 

The kitchen was now overloaded with plastic bags and treats and boxes and nonsense, but instead of organizing the usual team to put things away instantly, Kiara laid her box on the couch with care, calling Jungkook over.

 

"I know it's insanely early, you don't have to tell me ," she said, taking some scissors to the tape on the side of the box flap, "But I wanted to beat everyone to getting you two something for the baby..."

 

"Oh," Jungkook sighed, feeling his heart nearly shoot out of his chest at the gesture. "You didn't have to do that..."

 

"Hell, I know that ," Kiara laughed, her nose crinkling with humor. "But I also know baby stuff is expensive, and also the most satisfying shit you'll ever buy. So here.." She lifted off the top, and there were a pile of variously sized plastic pieces inside, and a sheet of paper on top with instructions, and a photo of a baby bouncer.

 

Jungkook gave the softest gasp, one that was barely there, as he lifted up the paper and looked at it. It was so cute, the cushion inside colored rainbow with little bears on it, and the top part apparently had a device inside to play a nursery rhyme. It would swing back and forth with their future baby inside, rocking them to sleep gently.

 

"It's so cute..." Jungkook breathed.

 

Kiara smiled from ear to ear, jumping forward and wrapping Jungkook in a hug. "I knew you'd like it! It's absolutely darling, isn't it?"

 

"It's gonna be a bitch to put together," Taehyung commented, sitting on the floor near the couch with Taeyeon in his lap, his nose leaning over to poke into the depths of the box, peering at its contents. "Yoongi loves that shit, though. He could help."

 

"Seokjin will want to put it together with me," Jungkook said with confidence. "He's gonna flip when he sees it."

 

"I know, right?" Kiara chuckled with glee. "I can't wait to see his reaction."

 

"He'll be home tomorrow morning, probably around four," Jungkook informed her, his eyes still soaking in the pretty, and clean new toy. The baby bouncer, made and purchased explicitly for their baby.

 

For a long time, Jungkook just stood and picked each piece up, inspecting it, feeling it, the texture and durability. Kiara waited patiently next to him, smiling at him and saying nothing as he took his moment. Eventually, Jimin got into the kitchen and started calling out that he was putting the food away and wanted some help, his tone bristly and on edge. Kiara then left to go help him, pulled away from the moment.

 

Jungkook carefully carried the entirety of the box into the room he shared with Seokjin. Since the pregnancy discovery, Seokjin had been insisting that they start moving into their room and sleep on the proper bed in there, rather than on the pile of blankets on the floor underneath the kitchen table. Inwardly, Jungkook was none too pleased with the arrangement, as especially these days, he had noticed it was easier to get irritated or stressed out over little things, and he wanted the comfort of his table more often. But he had to be an adult, and he had to prioritize the baby, so Jungkook was very careful with himself lately, and would start sleeping on the bed properly.

 

A part of him, however, wondered if the days under the table were over. Was that weird quirk of his, that strange 'comfort blanket' of the table now no longer to be? He wasn't sure, but every day he wondered if he should dismantle his little palace under there, remove the photos so he could hang them up for others to see, and remove the fairy lights that had been hung up there. Each day he asked himself if this was the last day, but then something in his gut twisted and ached, and he decided to put it off a little longer.

 

The room was quite squished with stuff, as Seokjin was a bit of a nerd item collector and Jungkook was way worse, spending too much money on high-quality tech that lined the rooms with cords, sleek black plastic and a constant humming sound. Everything needed to be dusted, and Seokjin couldn't possibly keep up with the cleaning with his hours at work, so it had become its own little sanctuary of figurines and stuff they didn't use as often as they should. Jungkook cleared a space next to the bed and mostly into the corner, stacking up any easily jostled items and precariously placed stuff on the opposite side of the room, and he laid the box down on the floor. The baby would be on his side of the bed, naturally. That was where the baby belonged, he felt.

 

Taehyung poked his head into the room, looking from side to side before he looked at Jungkook. "Man, you really nested in here hardcore. It looks like a used electronics store in Akiba in here."

 

Jungkook looked over his shoulder and sent a rude gesture to Taehyung, who sent the gesture back with both hands before he dramatically sidled out of the doorway, their typical method of communication. But after a brief moment, Taehyung was back and stepping inside, sitting on the bed next to Jungkook.

 

"Things going alright?"

 

Jungkook nodded. He realized he was still staring at the box with the baby bouncer, and he looked over at Taehyung instead. He opened his mouth, paused a moment, and let his first-choice words fall where they may. "I think Joonhee crawls just fine, Tae."

 

Taehyung, evidently not expecting the sudden declaration, just watched Jungkook. There was something about Taehyung's gaze that could be extremely unsettling, when he looked like that. The normally bubbly, fun-loving Taehyung could vanish in an instant due to that gaze, leaving no traces of his precious and oft-needed calm and optimism.

 

It had taken Jungkook a long time to realize that that dark, serious look, much like the one he had given Jungkook the moment they had met, when Taehyung had arrived with Seokjin and peered beneath the table to find Jungkook down there, too shy to say hello, meant Taehyung was just being serious, and not that he was particularly angry or reproachful. Taehyung was often underestimated to not being serious enough or not present enough, but Jungkook had always been a little intimidated as well as comforted by Taehyung’s presence. In his way, Taehyung was very much like an older brother. But even older brothers, despite their attempts at seeming cocky and indestructible, needed a little reassurance.

 

"Thank you," Taehyung said simply. "I think so, too."

 

They sat, quietly watching the baby bouncer box, and hearing the hum of Jungkook's computer in the background.

 

~~~~~

 

It was a quiet dinner, and Jungkook watched Jimin feeding Taeyeon and Joonhee in their sweet matching high chairs. Naiara and Kwangie were big enough for a booster seat, and they spread a mess out across their plates in chaotic glee. Jungkook picked at his food, and felt something strange in his gut. He wasn't sure what it was, but it was a negative feeling, like a feeling of dread, or a feeling of missing something.

 

About halfway through the meal, Jimin and Yoongi shared a look, and Yoongi, who was sitting next to Jungkook, poked him in the side. "Hey," he said, placing heavy emphasis on his attempt at nonchalance, "What's wrong, Kookie?"

 

Jungkook shrugged, which only brought more attention at the table to himself. He worked his lip, and dragged his fork momentarily across the plate. "I dunno. Just don't feel well, I guess."

 

"Do you want something else?" Yoongi asked. "I can make you something else that's easier on your stomach."

 

"It's not the morning sickness," Jungkook reassured, shaking his head. Why did he suddenly feel so awful? Like something was squeezing at his chest. He couldn't place his finger on if it was a physical pain or if he was imagining it. "I'll be fine. I think I should just lay down."

 

"Okay, sweetie, let us know if you need something," Kiara said. Dutifully, when he rose up from the table, he bent down low enough so that Kiara could kiss him on the forehead, running one of her freshly-painted nails through his hair. "Take care, baby," she said gently, watching as he shuffled out of the dining room and toward the room he shared with Seokjin. The faint smell of Kiara's Lead Omega Scent wafted around him, comforting and coffee-scented, even after he flopped onto the bed. He lazily yanked the blanket up over him, curling up his knees a bit in a way that was less comfortable than it had been a month ago. The terrible feeling prevailed, and he decided it wasn't nausea, or a headache, or anything like that. It was something annoyingly deeper, and less likely to have an easy way of satiating the feeling so he didn't feel so awful anymore.

 

Jungkook sighed, burying his cheek into his pillow and closing his eyes. The bed felt empty, and he ached, and he wished Seokjin was home to take care of him through the whatever-it-was.

 

He tossed and turned, and didn't feel any relief. He also had a hard time sleeping, with that strange, pervasive fidgetiness that often plagues those trying their best to relax on a sick day. Eventually, Jungkook opened up his laptop, watching random long videos like ASMR and horrible reality television, just to occupy his mind and distract him from the sinking feeling.

 

Hours passed. At one point, he heard Naiara knock at his door, the quiet voice calling out, "Googie? Ji'?" Then the hushed tones of one of the elder wolves, inevitably nudging the baby down the hallway.

 

Jungkook rolled over, playing another video, this time a random video of a woman trying to remake anime food. Eventually, the room was utterly dark except for the glow of a singular laptop, and Jungkook was blankly staring ahead, only half-able to watch the screen.

 

It was in that moment that Jungkook suddenly, horribly, remembered that day back on the island, when Seokjin had been upset about something on his phone. He had forgotten to ask him about it again, and now he had this weird feeling that there might be something wrong with Seokjin. What if something had happened? What if he had been attacked, or if there was something wrong at work? All the possibilities flashed through his mind.

 

It was then, right when he was suddenly gripped out of his forced lethargy into a sudden attack of anxiety, that he heard the door to the room open. He sat up, and Seokjin was there, dimly aglow in the light from the laptop. He stopped in the doorway, his body language implying his confusion at Jungkook's reaction, and then the Omega leapt from the bed. He threw himself into Seokjin, instantly pressing his face into Seokjin's collar, the worry and anxiety from the last several hours having built up and caused pressure to overload his system.

 

"Jungkook?" Seokjin queried, his voice in the darkness filled with concern. "Are you okay"

 

Jungkook squeezed Seokjin to him, his grip so harsh that Seokjin let out a hiss of pain. He kept saying Jungkook's name, but all Jungkook could feel was relief over his whole body, to see Seokjin was home, to see he was safe from the things his mind had made up.

 

It took him a moment to realize that suddenly, the awful sinking feeling that had been pooling in his gut since dinner was now gone.

 

"I missed you," he said, nearly choking on the words as he realized how deeply he meant them. "I was worried."

 

"Worried? Did someone call you?" Seokjin asked, giving in to what Jungkook needed and hadn't asked for by drawing him closely into his arms, their shoulders drawn in together.

 

"No," Jungkook mumbled into Seokjin's neck, Scenting him. He froze, as he let himself pick apart the mix of very strong smells that was overpowering Seokjin's normal Scent. Him working at the hospital meant that he came home often reeking of chemicals, strange body odors, and much more.

 

But today… today he smelled of blood.

 

"That's weird..." Seokjin said quietly, forcing Jungkook to back up and give him some space, as he looked down and tried to meet Jungkook's eyes, a futile effort in the darkness of the room. Seokjin gave a sigh, and Jungkook smelled the blood all around him. It was wrong, the smell was wrong, and it was sending off alarm bells in his mind. "Today has been...quite a day, Kookie. I'm glad to be home."

 

"What happened? Who hurt you?" Jungkook demanded. "Why do you smell like your blood?"

 

Seokjin stilled for but a moment, then gave another sigh, sounding like all the strength from his body was being seeped out in one fell swoop. "We had... a bit of an incident at the hospital today."

 

"Are you okay? Where are you bleeding?" Jungkook's voice rose in panic. The dreadful feeling of the whole day was too well timed, too much of a warning. Seokjin had been in danger, and every fibre of him knew that there was a lot for Seokjin to explain.

 

"I'm not bleeding anymore, I promise, please calm down," Seokjin said, a nervous chuckle escaping him. "Can we sit down, please?"

 

"What happened at the hospital?" Jungkook could not be deterred from his focus, but he did sit down, staying as close as he could to Seokjin. The Alpha normally was such a calming presence for him, and the fact that he could feel his heart thudding wildly in his chest now was unsettling, at the very least.

 

Seokjin held both of Jungkook's hands as the Omega started to try and pry his jacket off, hunting for the hidden wounds. The Alpha shushed him in a soft attempt at reassurance, squeezing his fingers. 

 

"There was a patient at the hospital today. He wasn't very well. Apparently he had had a very specific prescription for most of the year to help him with it, but he stopped taking them abruptly. His body rebelled and he went… a little out of control."

 

"What do you mean by 'out of control'?"

 

"He shifted in the middle of the ICU and started attacking people there," Seokjin said, with calm solemnity. "It took several of us to take him down, but by then he had already hit some of the patients, so things got a little hectic. We got him under control though, and he's currently been placed in restraints and we've got him back on his meds, he should be fine in a few days."

 

Jungkook sat, breathing heavily, his mind replaying out the possible scene in his head. When he spoke at last, his tone was full of incredulity, his voice low. "You were one of the people who jumped him to get him down, weren't you?"

 

There was a long moment of silence in the room, and Seokjin didn't answer. But honestly, he didn't need to. Jungkook knew. Valiant, warm-hearted Seokjin wouldn't directly tell Jungkook of his act of bravery, likely fearlessly jumping in to stop someone from hurting the vulnerable, the ones who needed his protection. Stupid, lovely, self-sacrificing Seokjin.

 

There was a thud as Jungkook reached out and punched Seokjin in the arm, making the Alpha yelp in surprise. "What the hell was that for?!" Seokjin shrieked.

 

Jungkook spoke through gritted teeth, his voice dropping into a serious growl. Even he could smell the powerful Omega Scent that he filled the room with, the dim light somehow seeming darker as he declared firmly, "Don't you dare risk your neck like that again. Don't you dare scare me like that again."

 

Seokjin's expression softened, the glow of the laptop screen highlighting the lines of worry that etched their way across his face. "Jungkook.... I work at a hospital. There's no guarantee that nothing like this will ever happen again."

 

"I don't care," Jungkook pressed. "You have to come home to me, you jerkass."

 

"But Jungkook," Seokjin had never seemed so small, so vulnerable, as he was in that moment, leaning in and pleading with his entire being. Perhaps he was caving beneath the weight of Jungkook's Omega influence on the room, or perhaps Jungkook's words had simply, truly, placed Seokjin into a moralistic moment of turmoil. "I work in a hospital . He was attacking people in a hospital . They needed me tonight, and they'll need me in the future."

 

"You don't understand," Jungkook snapped, his voice louder than he initially expected it to be. "I felt horrible tonight. My Bond with you knew that something was wrong, that you were in danger, and it fucking hurt the entire night. I felt like I was in agony and I couldn't figure out what the fuck was wrong, and it was because you were putting yourself in danger. I thought of all places a hospital would be a safe place for you, but I guess that couldn't be further from the truth."

 

"Hold up there," Seokjin's tone became defensive, and he frowned deeply. "First of all, hospitals are safe, but they're not some kind of magical place separate from the outside world.  Second of all, it's my job. I took an oath to protect people, and I take that seriously. Thirdly , I know exactly that feeling you get, and it's the same feeling I have whenever you're on patrol."

 

Jungkook froze, surprised by this last point in particular. He blinked. "What are you talking about?"

 

"I mean, whenever you're at work, and you've got to go out and patrol where there could be weapons or criminals, when you're out late in the dark and I know you're walking a ways alone, I feel sick to my fucking stomach with worry for your safety, because I know you're not safe. You think I want to come home and find out you've jumped some fucking fence or got shot or crashed into some shithead? I don't. But when you're at work, there's no way I can't worry, because I feel that Bond every time you work a patrol.”

 

Silence stretched out between them in a strange, heavy succession of averted eyes and worried breaths. At long last, Jungkook spoke, one hand squeezing Seokjin's arm. "I'm sorry. I didn't know."

 

"I'm not going to ask you to give up a job you believe in," Seokjin continued, his tone indicative that he meant it sincerely. "Even when you're carrying our child, and even when that terrifies me. But don't ask me to give up mine."

 

Jungkook felt his chest tighten at those words, feeling a thick stab of guilt in his gut. He felt as if, despite his instincts insisting that Seokjin never got back to the hospital again, that somehow the Alpha was right. But what sort of life would they be giving their pup, with both of them working such jobs as they were? What would he do if something happened to Seokjin? How could he take care of the baby without Seokjin there to be there for him?

 

"Don't cry, my Omega," Seokjin said with a gentle chuckle, wiping away at the stains on Jungkook's cheeks. "We're going to be okay. And I'll tell you now, that today was not a normal day in the hospital, okay? I wondered if you would feel it happening or not, and I guess I got my answer."

 

"I was so fucking worried something had happened to you," Jungkook said, his strength slowly coming back to him. "Next time, fucking call me."

 

"i will. And if it makes you feel better..." Seokjin fidgeted a little on the bed, obviously uncomfortable with this particular confession. "I cried some of the nights you were gone at work, too."

 

Jungkook blinked, then considered. "Yeah, that kinda does make me feel better."

 

To that, Seokjin laughed, then drew Jungkook in close to him. "Love you, too."

 

A shuffle happened then, simultaneously and wordless. They both rose and got ready for bed, and Jungkook moved his laptop away, and Seokjin switched on the bedside lamp. They crawled under the covers, and Jungkook pulled Seokjin up against his chest, and Seokjin allowed himself to be thoroughly tucked against his Omega. It was then that Jungkook noticed that Seokjin's heart was still racing. He ran his hands through Seokjin's hair, trying to make his movements slow and soothing.

 

With his shirt off, Jungkook’s hand delicately traced over the small bandage around Seokjin’s arm, where he had been cut. He laid his palm against the bruises, and he sighed.

 

The glow of the light spread across the ceiling in a wide, soft circular shape, and Jungkook kissed Seokjin's head.

 

"Were you scared?"

 

"Terrified," Seokjin said slowly. "He was a huge wolf."

 

"Did he bite you?"

 

Seokjin shook his head. "He tried, but he just scratched at me. I'm mostly just bruised by the equipment I bumped into. But it's all bandaged up, and it isn't deep."

 

"I want to check on them tomorrow," Jungkook said. He could tell that Seokjin was beyond exhausted, based on the depth and timbre of his voice, and that he would soon be drifting off to sleep. Too late for a worried Jungkook to check up properly on Seokjin's injuries. And the most important thing was that Seokjin was safe, and home, and in his arms. He could protect him from here, he could control the level of safety for his Alpha now. He hummed, very quietly at first, but then gradually louder. Seokjin liked it when Jungkook sang for him, although he had never said it directly. Jungkook could tell from his body language and his Scent that he was calmed by it, so he did it especially in times like this, where Seokjin needed a little extra care, even if he wasn't asking for it. Jungkook could simply tell.

 

Seokjin let out a sigh, relaxing in his arms. He didn't seem like the formidable, impenetrable Alpha that he often seemed to the rest of the word, and in this moment, Jungkook began to understand what Kiara and Yoongi meant by the term " an Omega's strength." Because these were times, when they were far away from the rest of the world, that Jungkook knew without a shadow of a doubt that Seokjin needed him.

 

Jungkook continued to sing, and eventually, Seokjin's breathing evened out, and his heart slowed down to its usual comforting rhythm, and Seokjin slept. There were lines of worry on his face and he still looked a bit paler than he normally did, but Jungkook merely kissed Seokjin's head, and situated himself more comfortably against the pillows, preparing for a long night of holding his Alpha close.

 

It was a risk. It was always a risk, it seemed, with them. It was one thing for Jimin to go to an office job during the day, or for Namjoon to ask Kiara to stay home instead of going to her part-time job for one day. Perhaps Yoongi and Hoseok knew best the level of depth and risk that both Seokjin and Jungkook were now facing in the inevitable, indeterminable future. What sort of effects this would have on their futures as parents, Jungkook didn't know. But he knew that they both were in the jobs they had for a lot of reasons, and good ones, too. Reasons that perhaps neither of them were willing to give up, either now or in the future.

 

He hated the prospect of having to feel that sickening feeling again in the future, and not know if Seokjin was safe or not. He hated knowing so certainly that if he could, Seokjin would still do it again, and take that risk, even though he knew Seokjin loved him and the baby very much. It was just a part of the essence, the whole person that was "Seokjin," the man he loved. This would just have to be something that he would have to accept and deal with. Jungkook reached over and turned off the light on the bedside table, and thrust them both back into deep darkness that seemed to wrap them up in its embrace.

 

When Jungkook fell asleep, it was not with a sense of calm, necessarily, or what he would call reassurance. But it was with understanding. The future was uncertain, so he supposed there was no helping the lack of reassurance anymore.

 

He fell asleep that night, with his mate wrapped cozily in his arms, and he didn't dream, but he rested deeply into non-dreams and non-thoughts.

 

And he had no idea of the challenges that were yet to come.

Chapter Text

"Unggoo!" called out Kwangie, poking his head underneath the dining room table. The bed was empty, void of the Omega and his mate for some time now, due to the pregnancy. But young Kwangie was not aware of any sort of logic which would prevent his uncles from sleeping on the floor as usual. "Jinnie!"

 

Kwangie stared around the empty table underneath, then gripped his sippy cup tighter and wandered back toward the living room. They were nowhere to be found. Not on the couch, not upstairs in Uncle Namjoon's room, not in "his" room, as he had taken to calling the room he occupied with his parents, and not in Uncle Jimin and Uncle Taehyung's room.

 

Kwangie stood in the middle of the hallway, dressed in spotted footsie pajamas and looking quite perturbed at the whole situation, when there came a muffled laugh. Kwangie looked over his shoulder, then realized that there was a room he had not explored. The door was shut, and the knob was still a bit too high for Kwangie to reach, even though he gave it a solid effort by reaching up with his sippy-cup-free hand and stretched out as high as he could on his wobbly tiptoes. All he managed to do was make the doorknob jiggle and clatter, but this was still a success in its own right, as the laughter stopped and then the door opened to reveal Seokjin standing there. He smiled down at Kwangie, who clutched his sippy cup and sent his favorite uncle an insulted expression.

 

"Kwangie!" Seokjin said, still smiling as he knelt to Kwangie's eye level. "Did you need something?" In his toddler-mind, Kwangie was certain that there had been something he needed, but he could now no longer remember it, and it was just as annoying as the fact that his uncles hadn't been at his beck and call when he needed them in the first place, so he just pouted in distress at the situation.

 

Seokjin's hands came to rest around the tiny boy's waist, and he tilted his head at him in confusion. "You wanna come in and play with us?"

 

Without further ado, Kwangie was lifted up off the ground and carried into the very changed room that had now - without Kwangie being notified of such - been transformed into Seokjin and Jungkook's bedroom and soon-to-be nest. There were clothes covering nearly every available surface, and the floor around the bed was particularly piled up with blankets and extra pillows. If Seokjin had dared to simply toss the toddler into the middle of the room, the chances of Kwangie's fall being sufficiently cushioned by an array of fabric or stuffing was very high.

 

There were also, much to Kwangie's delight, a number of soft plush stuffed animals tossed about the room, once lovingly cradled and now joining a growing number in the Plush Army.

 

Jungkook, meanwhile, was wriggled into a makeshift seat amidst a pile of winter jackets, his eyes fixated on the monitor pushed against the wall, with the edge of the bed just behind him supporting his back. He was punching buttons on a controller, trying to shoot some very shiny things on the screen. Kwangie stared at it in wonder for a moment, then he focused his attention on the very neglected stuffed animals, moving around in Seokjin's arms as he silently demanded to be set loose in the room.

 

Once he set Kwangie down next to Jungkook, Seokjin also took back his seat next to his Mate, watching him play the game. Kwangie immediately honed in on a very brightly colored elephant, its pink ears velvety soft and very floppy in his tiny hands. He liked how it felt very much.

 

"Watch out!" Seokjin shouted suddenly, making Kwangie jolt a little. He looked up to see Seokjin pointing at the screen, Jungkook's face still and blank as he focused all his attention on the level. When he managed to make his flying ship do a spinning barrel roll, Kwangie watched a crooked smirk slowly grow across the man's face. He was dressed in one of Seokjin's over-sized T-shirts and black sweatpants that were also too big for him. Kwangie wondered why all the clothes, blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals had a different smell to them than usual. It smelled warmer than before,

 

The ship flew through a colored ring, and Seokjin gave a whoop, Jungkook joining in with a triumphant, "Ahhh!"

 

Kwangie didn't really care too much about the colorful rings or the flying ships on the screen. He had spotted a much more important playmate - Stitch.

 

The Stitch doll was buried among a pile comprised of Gudetama, Winnie The Pooh, and a life-sized penguin, but Kwangie spotted that bright blue alien creature from across the room, and he decided immediately that he loved that Stitch more than life itself.

 

Shuffling carefully to his feet, Kwangie abandoned his uncles on their clothes-cushions and made his way across the room to pull the Stitch out from beneath his pile. The fabric felt different than he had thought it would, and it carried that different warm smell to it that the rest of the room seemed to emanate. But Kwangie hugged the Stitch close and pressed a quiet kiss to the top of its head, before dragging it back over to Seokjin's side, where he sat down and held the Stitch in his arms.

 

Seokjin, distracted still, patted Kwangie on the head in an affectionate manner, and leaned in the other direction to plant a kiss of his own onto Jungkook's cheek. Jungkook looked over and gave a sheepish smile, but continued his playing.

 

"Where do you wanna go tonight?" Seokjin asked. "It's our free night." 

 

"I dunno. Anywhere is fine," Jungkook shrugged slightly, even as he leaned in so that he was resting a bit against Seokjin's shoulder, a smile on his face. "I'm not really picky." 

 

"I know, you're pretty easy," Seokjin joked, earning a bit of an elbow in the stomach. The Alpha chuckled, leaning in closer to softly wrap an arm around the Omega's shoulders. "Maybe we can just… wing it."

 

"Sounds good to me," came the breezy answer. "As long as we eat, and not at like midnight."

 

"That was one time," Seokjin rolled his eyes.

 

"My stomach never forgets a betrayal." 

 

"We were lost ."

 

"And you wouldn't admit it ."

 

Seokjin huffed in dramatic response, and then glanced over at Kwangie, who was still staring deeply into Stitch's eyes with affection. He crumpled his brow for a moment, and then leaned in to look at Kwangie's face.

 

"Hey, uh," Seokjin mumbled. "Kwangie? What are you doing?" 

 

Kwangie looked up at his uncle, squeezed his little fists around the shoulders of Stitch, and said, " My Stitch." 

 

Seokjin frowned, "No, Kwangie, that Stitch is for the baby."

 

" MY Stitch." Kwangie made the statement more firmly, because obviously that was what Seokjin needed to hear in order to understand. Kwangie loved Stitch.

 

"Now, Kwangie, it's fine if you play with it, but the Stitch is meant for the baby. I'm sure they'll share with you, though." 

 

"Well," Jungkook worked his mouth in concern. "The baby has a lot of toys so far, Jinnie... They probably won't miss one Stitch doll."

 

"You say that, but listen, I know Kwangie, and Kwangie will slowly start taking over every toy in this room, including the television," Seokjin said with mock-seriousness. "He's like a weed."

 

"Jin, he's an actual baby ."

 

"That's how they get you. That's how they always get you. They get under your skin, give those cute watery eyes, and teeny tiny fists, and--" Seokjin raised up a hand in a claw shape. "Grawhl!" He swiped the claw into the air, clamping down at nothing. "They rip your heart out, steal your stuff, and cry like it's your fault."

 

"I don't know, Kwangie doesn't look like that sort of munchkin, and he's been pretty well-behaved when I watch him, except for wandering off."

 

"Oh yeah?" Seokjin straightened out his shoulders, as if affronted at the fact that Jungkook didn't believe him. "Let me show you. C'mon, Kwangie. Let's show Uncle Kookie your stash."

 

Kwangie looked up from his Stitch, confused, but took his uncle's hand as he was pulled to his feet. Seokjin held his hand and helped Jungkook to his feet as well, the Omega having a harder time these days. They walked upstairs to "Kwangie's" room, and on first glance, it didn't look any different than it always did.

 

"Well?" Seokjin said, indicating to the queen bed in one corner, with Kwangie's little toddler bed in the other; it was shaped like a boat, and was tucked in adjacently to his parents' bed. A toy box was pushed against another corner, along with a desk that was covered in papers and paraphernalia. "Kwangie?"

 

Letting go of Seokjin's hand, Kwangie walked away from his uncles and toward the queen bed. He dropped to his stomach on the floor, wriggling underneath the high-riser bed frame until he was fully hidden from their view.

 

"What is he--?" 

 

"Sshh..." Seokjin hushed him, "You lift that end."

 

"Are you sure they're not gonna get mad?" 

 

"Yoongi comes home to nap in the afternoons anyways, Hoseok won't care if the bed isn't made."

 

"Okay..."

 

Kwangie wriggled in further, one arm still clutching Stitch and the other wrapped around the soft objects at his side. He heard the grunt as both Jungkook and Seokjin lifted up the mattress, revealing the frame underneath with its wooden slats. Just beneath this barrier lay Kwangie on the floor, utterly surrounded by random objects. The bottom of the bed was nearly stuffed, with various things he had stolen from around the house pushed in around him. Stuffed animals, blankets, books, papers, balls, plug-ins, socks, socks, socks. There was barely any room for the toddler to fit in amongst it all.

 

"Is that... a cell phone?" Jungkook said in surprise.

 

"Yeah, and there's that pot from the kitchen we couldn't find," Seokjin pointed. "He's a little squirrel, this one, steals everyone's stuff."

 

"Wow..." Jungkook stared down at Kwangie, who was looking up at his uncles with indifference and hugging the Stitch. "We can't let him take that Stitch doll, Jinnie." 

 

"Good luck with that," remarked Seokjin, slowly lowering the mattress to hide Kwangie beneath it again. "This is one of three spots he has in the house, and that's just what I've found so far." 

 

"How did you even find them in the first place?" 

 

"The kid likes to play a lot of hide and seek." The Alpha sighed, as if remembering a burdensome time.

 

"I don't really feel like wrestling it from him right now," Seokjin rolled his eyes, as Kwangie slowly crawled out from under the bed. "We'll fight him on it later."

 

"He may grow more attached to it," Jungkook reasoned. "Or, he may actually get bored of it."

 

Seokjin laughed at that prospect, somehow finding it extremely amusing. "Wanna go get ready?"

 

Jungkook smiled, kissing Seokjin's cheek as he passed, nodding in agreement. Kwangie followed his uncles downstairs, hiding behind doors and objects as if he was being very sneaky.

 

"I wonder if the baby will have habits like that, like Kwangie's piles or Naiara's spunk," Jungkook wondered aloud.

 

"We call those Naiara's leadership skills , when we're around Namjoon at least," said Seokjin in a mocking stage-whisper. "Don't want to get the Lead Alpha all up in arms over his little princess, do we? But more seriously, our kid will have their habits, too. It's just the way things work."

 

"Do you think they'll be a boy or a girl?"

 

"A lizard," Seokjin shot back without blinking.

 

" Seokjin ."

 

"I'm just kidding, I promise. I don't actually care which it is, I guess. But I feel like it's a boy."

 

"A boy?" Jungkook sighed, smiling. "How do you know?"

 

"I don't know , not without science , you egghead." Seokjin's tone took on a thread of fake impatience, which he always did when he was feeling particularly excited or nervous. Jungkook could tell, if the happy Alpha scent emanating around their bedroom was not enough, that Seokjin was eager to go on their little date. “But scientists and doctors still have gut feelings, after all."

 

"I figured, otherwise they would never know what to pick for dinner. Should I wear slacks? I feel like I should wear slacks."

 

"Wear whatever is comfortable and makes you feel… sexy … " Seokjin sidled over behind Jungkook, who was flipping through the hangers in his closet, scooping the Omega up in his arms and kissing his neck, their mixed Scents rising up into the room.

 

"So you're saying you want me to go naked," Jungkook rolled his eyes, picking out his nice jeans and a blazer. "Not very practical, Kim Seokjin."

 

"Well, I'm not on-call at the hospital, so I can afford to be impractical. Money solves all sorts of problems."

 

"Did you decide where we're going?" Jungkook queried, looking over his shoulder where Seokjin was gently resting his soft, rounded chin, and he looked soft and youthful with the expression on his face until he frowned and furrowed his brows.



"I have the semblance of a plan," he promised. "But don't tell the baby."

 

Jungkook chuckled. "Like he could understand words yet. He barely has ears ."

 

Dramatically, Seokjin leaned down, placing his face right up against Jungkook's stomach and in a higher, complaining tone, he said, "Do you hear this slander, Chanseol?! He is making assumptions, and we all know what that makes, an a--"

 

Kwangie started giggling cutely, watching his Uncle Seokjin yapping at Uncle Jungkook's belly, and Jungkook gave a comedic slap across the back of Seokjin's head, making him fake-stumble forward. Kwangie shrieked with laughter in reply, still hugging Stitch to his little chest.

 

"Okay, now, Kwangster," Seokjin shooed the toddler out toward the door. "Your uncles need to get dressed. Go find Kiara, okay?"

 

Kwangie, still wanting more play, more time, and much more giggles, hovered in the doorway, gripping to its edges as if he could possibly fight back and earn the right to stay and demand his uncles' undivided attention. Seokjin muttered his usual "No, no, no" mantra, shooing the toddler out and closing the door on him.

 

"Let's not spoil our kid too   much," Seokjin teased again, walking back over to their closet and peeling off his hole-ridden top. "They get stinky when they know they have power."

 

"Put that in writing for me, so I can use it against you in the future," Jungkook sneered back. Seokjin huffed at him, insulted at the insinuation but also knowing that it was a very probable scenario. All bets were on that Seokjin would be the one to give in to their own baby's whims.

 

It only took them a while longer to get ready, dressed in what Seokjin described as a 'business casual' look, stepping out the door quietly while all the babies and parents were sufficiently distracted. They hopped into Seokjin's truck, the engine revving up in the oncoming twilight as the Alpha flicked on the headlights and headed down the street.

 

Jungkook liked riding passenger while Seokjin drove. More often than not, he was shuffled into some other seat, but passenger seat was the best, where he had a great view of Seokjin with one hand on the wheel, eyes focused dutifully on the road in such a way that allowed Jungkook to soak in his Mate's handsome face like a man in a drought. He smiled smugly to himself, then took hold of Seokjin's hand and kissed the back of it, causing Seokjin to smile as he flipped on his blinker.

 

"If you take me bowling," Jungkook said quietly into the close air of the truck cab, "I might punch you, then kick your ass at it."

 

Seokjin scoffed. "As if you could. Besides, I'm not wearing the right socks for bowling. Tonight I think we should go somewhere nice.”

 

"Fair enough." Jungkook sat back in his seat, and allowed silence to envelop them both for a span of some minutes. The sun was setting outside Jungkook's window, and he watched the wide expanse of purples, oranges, and reds filtering across the sky, Seokjin's side growing in darkness as the night properly fell over the town.

 

They were driving for quite some time, and then the town's trees and buildings fell away to become pure countryside, and Jungkook sent Seokjin a curious look. Seokjin glanced toward his Omega, and smiled.

 

"I had a little idea," Seokjin explained, reaching over and taking Jungkook's hand and holding it in his free one. "Just a few more minutes."

 

"Okay," Jungkook conceded, looking out the window again. He sighed, realizing that it was harder and harder these days for both of them to spend time together, with Seokjin's schedule being so inconsistent. It often felt like he really had to use their time together as wisely as possible, and the silence dragging on for too long insinuated that he was missing out on the chance to share some news or information with his Mate. "Taehyung thinks he's got a lead on my brother, did you hear?"

 

"Mm?" Seokjin hummed. Jungkook wasn't sure if that was a yes or a no, but he continued.

 

"Yeah, there's a registry for a hospital, but sometimes they take in patients without any names."

 

"We do that at our hospital occasionally, too," Seokjin supplied.

 

"Exactly, it's quite common, but they're usually put under some dummy name, because they can't identify all the strays that may come in, and a lot of Lone Wolves don't want their name listed. He's been going through some different records, and he thinks he may have found some possible trails."

 

"That's excellent," Seokjin said. "Hopefully something turns up."

 

"Yeah… " Jungkook's voice trailed off. He had a question to ask his Mate, but he wasn't sure this was the best time to ask. "Uh, Seokjin? Can I ask you something?"

 

"What is it?"

 

"When we were on the island, and you and Namjoon started fighting... who was contacting you on your phone?"

 

Seokjin sat silent, stonily in the dark. His fingers held a calm-looking grip on the wheel but Jungkook could feel the tension in the air, as it was almost palpable.

 

"I want to tell you everything, Jungkook," Seokjin said at last. "But some things have to wait a bit, okay?"

 

Jungkook sighed, disappointed that he would have to be a bit more patient. But over time, the two of them had come to understand that relationships had to be built on trust and communication. And for the time being, Jungkook needed to trust that Seokjin would communicate when the appropriate time came.

 

The trees slowly faded away, flickering past the window as they drove on. Eventually, the rolling hills faded into sand dunes, and a blue glow hovered all around as the sun continued to set. The ocean came into view, and Jungkook sat up a little straighter in his seat.

 

"The sea!" he exclaimed. Seokjin smiled.

 

"It's a spontaneous date night, as promised," Seokjin explained, winding along the uneven road. "But if I remember correctly, there's a lovely little seaside restaurant here that makes some great food, like squid ink pasta and surf 'n' turf, and this wonderful little creme brulee and--"

 

"Oh my god there's something out there!" Jungkook practically bounced in his seat, pointing out with a hand toward the waves, where everything seemed to be turning into a cool blue-grey now. Seokjin slowed down, glancing back and forth between the road and the water, before he was able to glance a dark figure swimming to the surface in a beautiful arc, before it sank down again. He smiled, and with his free hand, he squeezed Jungkook's hand in his own. It felt grounding and comforting, but at the same time made Jungkook feel like his heart had been jolted with the gentlest little shock, fluttering giddily at the warm, familiar way Seokjin reached out for him.

 

Seokjin only let go of his hand for a moment to flick on the headlights, and then a few moments later they were pulling up onto the asphalt of a restaurant parking lot, and heading up the creaky wooden steps of a rustic-looking building constructed on stilts. The paint seemed to be wearing away from the salty winds, and a flag whipped harshly back and forth. Every wall seemed to be covered in huge picture windows which glowed with warm orange light, and due to the late hour and the chilliness of the evening, the deck was left abandoned, all the energy and life contained inside. When Jungkook opened the door for Seokjin, instantly they were met with a wave of sound. Clinking plates, muffled voices, silverware striking porcelain. The smell of firewood and fried fish hung around them like a cloud, and Jungkook knew their clothes would reek of it even after they went home.

 

The hostess greeted them at the door, an Alpha who emanated the Scent of spiced pumpkin and cream. Seokjin leaned in and politely asked for a table with a view she could recommend, what with her first-hand knowledge of the place. He sent her a bright smile and due to his charismatic air, she nodded and led them to a small table set on a bit of a lower level than the rest of the dining area. It faced out beyond the wooden deck, the ocean waves crashing against the deepening sunset.  Jungkook gaped at it while Seokjin perused the drink menu, ordering for himself when the waiter asked before looking toward his Mate with a questioning smile.

 

"Me? Oh, just water, thanks," Jungkook managed, before then adding, "Well, actually, what kind of juice do you have?"

 

He ended up ordering orange juice, which came with a bending straw, and Seokjin softly teased him for his taste, despite them both knowing that Jungkook would have happily matched Seokjin wine glass for wine glass if it wasn't for the pup. Jungkook finally tore his eyes away from the view outside their window and started to scan the menu in curiosity.

 

They both ordered a few minutes later, already wordlessly deciding to share portions of their meal once it arrived anyway, since they both had had such trouble deciding.

 

Once the waiter had taken their orders, brought their drinks, and promised to return soon, Jungkook glanced back over toward the window, sipping at his orange juice and drinking in the colors of the sunset. When he glanced back over, he saw Seokjin resting his chin in his palms, smiling softly at Jungkook and watching him with tenderness. Jungkook scrunched up his nose in response, not sure what else to do except to blow into his straw, creating bubbles which frothed toward the top of his glass, making his Alpha giggle.

 

"Are you happy, Jungkook?" Seokjin asked.

 

Jungkook arched an eyebrow, surprised at the depth of the question that was being broached so early on during their date. Seokjin usually kept topics pretty light-hearted and easy in general.

 

"Yeah, I'm pretty happy," Jungkook said. "I have a family, a Mate, a pup on the way." He again touched his hand to his stomach, sipping his juice once more. "I'm healthy and I have a job I'm working toward that I love."

 

"Good," Seokjin sighed, sounding relieved. He seemed content to leave that conversation as it was, reaching out to swirl his cabernet sauvignon before taking a sip from it.

 

But Jungkook pressed. "Why do you ask?"

 

Seokjin shrugged. "I wanted to talk to you more at length...about the pack and such. Especially with a pup on the way, there's a lot to consider."

 

"We've talked about a lot of things," Jungkook said, a bit confused.

 

"Yeah, but I wanted to talk about the pack house."

 

"What about it?"

 

"Do you want to always stay there?" Seokjin queried. "I'm asking seriously."

 

Jungkook expression stiffened, his posture almost defensive, as was his tone. "Of course I do. They're my family, they're my pack."

 

Seokjin nodded, sipping his wine again. "No one's doubting that, Jungkook, I'm not putting into question how good of a pack they are."

 

"Then what are you asking?"

 

To that, Seokjin paused, a little unsure of himself as he stared at his glass and continued. "The pack is wonderful, but there are opportunities I have right now that won't be around forever, if we don't chase after them. I'm not saying I'm unhappy with the pack at all , but I don't like my options being limited, you know? And I think that... you should know all the details before we cut off any of those options. It's only fair."

 

Jungkook sat in his seat, confused as to where all of this was going. He hated it when Seokjin picked so carefully around his words, leaving Jungkook confused and his grasp on what the point was somewhat muddled. "Okay?"

 

Seokjin pursed his lips, then sighed. "Maybe it's not the right time to talk about it."

 

"No, you've started it," Jungkook said, his tone snippy. "Tell me."

 

After a sideways glance at Jungkook, Seokjin reached over, long bent fingers playing with the edges of his cell phone where it rested, screen dark, against the table between them. "The person who messaged me, back when we were on the island last?"

 

Jungkook nodded.

 

"It was my father," Seokjin said quietly. "He wanted to talk to me about my inheritance. Or rather, I wanted to talk to him about it so I finally responded to some of his messages."

 

The Omega's eyes widened in surprise. "But you can’t stand talking to him. Didn't he disinherit you when you left the Rising Gods?"

 

Seokjin sighed. "It was unclear whether he actually, officially disinherited me, or if he was just going to give me one of the smaller islands. Namjoon naturally gets the larger one, since he has earned it. He's given our blood pack name more respect, as he's established his own pack and needs a home for them. But now my father is dangling one of the other islands, one where we own the entire thing. He’s also added in a considerable inheritance of money for me to use to establish everything, similar to what he gave Namjoon. However, he only wants to give it to me if I have my own pack, instead of living with Namjoon's pack. According to customs, it's rare but not completely unheard of for an older sibling to be in a pack where a younger sibling is the Lead Alpha or Lead Omega, but for my father, the way in which I ended up with Bangtan Pack is a source of...disappointment..." Seokjin's face screwed up into distaste, and Jungkook could only presume that it wasn't due to the bitterness of the wine. "He wants me to redeem myself with my own pack."

 

"But..." Jungkook shifted uncomfortably, confused by Seokjin's reaction to such an offer. "You love Bangtan Pack."

 

"I do...Jungkook, I really, really do...you gotta understand.." Seokjin reached over, squeezing Jungkook's hand tightly and practically pleading with him. "Everyone thinks that this is about being unhappy with the pack, but that's not it..."

 

"Then what is it?"

 

A silence enveloped them for some moments, and the Alpha sighed. "I'm a disappointment . Taking me in is seen as a point of pity from Namjoon, and while that is only the tip of the iceberg of all that's gone down, the fact remains that I know other packs may see it as a point of weakness for Namjoon, and contest his authority and his pack. I've already brought the wrath of one pack onto us--" here, Jungkook tried to interrupt, but Seokjin held up a hand and continued. "It was my fault, I admit to that freely. But I don't want to become a weak link for them in the future, either. Besides, I worry that things may become too claustrophobic, with all the new pups trying to grow up, and I just...I'm worried. What if things go sour, and Namjoon can't just keep protecting me? What if we're stuck out in the cold, or at least I am? I don't want to lose you....or to put you at risk."

 

Jungkook bit his lip. It was overwhelming, to realize that Seokjin had been grappling with all of this in addition to the stress of preparing for the baby, and the recent affair at work. That he had been carrying so much around in his head, while giving no indication.

 

Jungkook sat at the table, and he considered it. Accepting the inheritance from Seokjin's father would mean promising to leave Bangtan Pack. Staying meant that the possibility of security in that realm would be lost to them forever. Jungkook worked his lip, feeling a wash of confusing feelings. He didn't have a blood pack to be loyal to, so the complex nuances of loyalty to such blood was utterly foreign to him, but he had heard the others talking about it and they had experienced it, so he couldn't just write it off as meaningless just because of his own situation. It wasn't easy to just ignore the expectations and dependency of your blood pack, this much he knew.

 

"Can I think about it?" Jungkook asked, looking up at Seokjin with wide eyes, but a set mouth. "At least for a bit?"

 

"Of course," Seokjin said. He reached across the table and clutched Jungkook's hand firmly in his own. "And listen, we'll talk about it once you've had some time to think it over, and we'll make that decision as Mates, okay? I've been going back and forth on it on my own, too. I can't imagine leaving Bangtan Pack, but... I feel like it isn't only my decision. I wanted you to know why I’ve been considering it, an about the island and the money. You deserve to know that."

 

Jungkook nodded. Things always wanted to change so fast, and without warning. He wasn't sure if he could ever have a clear answer for Seokjin, and it wasn't even his father, and brothers, so he couldn't imagine how it must be for Seokjin himself.

 

"Let's just enjoy the rest of the date, alright?" Seokjin offered, his tone changing back to its usual more chipper tone that he bore for the sake of keeping the atmosphere light around him. "What do you think of the place?"

 

"It's pretty," he said, looking out the window into the growing darkness. "It would be nice to spend a day here, maybe when it's warmer."

 

"I'd like to show you off," Seokjin said quietly. Jungkook arched an eyebrow, looking over at Seokjin in surprise and amusement. As if realizing what he had said, Seokjin straightened up a little and cleared his throat, taking a drink from the ice water the waiter had left at the table. "Anyways."

 

"Anyways," Jungkook mused, watching his Alpha’s ears turning red. “Stop moving the baby's crib on your side of the bed. Or I'll punch you." He took a sip of orange juice, looking back toward Seokjin a moment later to see a stony glare being sent his way, making him giggle.

 

"The baby is half mine, too , Jungkook," Seokjin argued. "Besides, you've been putting all the baby's things on your side."

 

"Who is putting in all the work for the baby right now, though?" Jungkook gestured toward his stomach, then the orange juice. "I get first dibs, and the baby is sleeping on my side."

 

"I'll fight you for it," Seokjin said, his eyes steely and playful all at once. He sent Jungkook a sultry look from the other side of his wine glass. When Seokjin set his glass down, he opened his mouth to say something, but then there was a movement out of the corner of Jungkook's vision, and he turned suddenly toward one of the large picture windows to the side of their table. 

 

There was someone out there, silhouetted against the darkened sky. 

 

There was a clatter, and some other, darker and larger figure appeared as well, ominous and threatening. There was a snarl heard, and the first figure threw himself up against the glass of the window as if he had been pushed forward violently, and Seokjin and Jungkook gasped along with several of the other patrons. A young man's face was barely illuminated against the glass, his breath fogging up a circle around his lips as he stared straight at Jungkook, wide-eyed and frantic.

 

Jungkook felt a shudder run through him, as the man looked eerily familiar, with dark, curled hair that was grown out and messily framed his face. A prominent nose, but a well-known set of lips. But it was the wide, expressive eyes that gave it away. The Omega's mouth fell agape, and he half stood, transfixed by the face before it was abruptly torn away and out of sight. A mess of tables and chairs rose up in the air, and it was nearly impossible to see anything through the dark glass other than their own reflections and flickering shadows.

 

"Jungkook, that was--" Seokjin started, looking as thrown aback as Jungkook himself.

 

In an instant, Jungkook had flown to his feet, running toward the nearest doorway to the outdoor deck. He yanked on it, only to find it had already been locked. Panting heavily, Jungkook rushed to another door, finding that one able to be pulled free. He yanked it aside, hearing voices calling after him as he rushed out into the darkness.

 

Once outside, the rush of ocean waves thundered in against his ears, and he was struck by how much darker it was on the deck than inside, where it was warm and shielded. He was surprised to hear no sounds of a struggle, and he started moving as quickly as he could in the dark around the side of the building, toward where he had seen the young man. He turned the corner, expecting to see two wolves fighting, expecting answers at long last.

 

There was no one there.

 

Jungkook stood in shock, staring at the overturned furniture, even as he heard Seokjin calling out his name, approaching him from behind. Seokjin found him there, standing in the dim light from the restaurant that spilled out onto the deck, staring at the void.

 

"Jungkook?" Seokjin queried, laying a hand on Jungkook's shoulder. The Omega pulled away, moving to the edge of the deck and gripping the railing, which came to a dead end right where they stood, and calling out into the night with desperation.

 

"Come back!" he shouted. "Bring him back!"

 

"Jungkook..." The Alpha's voice came much softer now, moving back in to touch his back.

 

The Omega turned toward Seokjin, feeling no tears coming but a tight, inescapable tenseness that grew in his chest. "It was my brother, Jin, it was really him. He was right here the whole time."

 

Seokjin nodded, and even in the dim light, Jungkook could see the Alpha's bottom lip tremble just slightly. "I know, Kookie..."

 

Jungkook fell against Seokjin's chest, sighing in exasperation and worry. A few of the staff at the restaurant came out with flashlights, listening to Seokjin's brief explanation of two unidentified wolves having a fight out on the deck, and they set off to search around the restaurant for quite some time. They found nothing, not even a footprint left behind, and only the overturned tables as a hint that anything had happened. Seokjin heard one of the waiters quietly say that it could have even been the wind that knocked those over. It took Seokjin a long time to coax Jungkook back inside to sit back down at their table, and when they did, Jungkook kept half-coherently mumbling questions and concerns. How long had his brother been there? Had he known it was Jungkook? Who had taken him away? Why? Why, why, why?

 

He could have been outside on the deck the entire time they were there, or he could have seen Jungkook had tried to slip away on purpose. Why would he do that? 'I don't know,' was all that Seokjin could answer with, patiently reminding Jungkook to eat his food. There were no answers forthcoming, despite their concerns.

 

The questions and tension continued even into the ride home, when he held Seokjin's warm hand and fidgeted in his seat, his head halfway out the open window as he nervously scanned the darkness for any chance signs of life.

 

Seokjin let him look, even drove a little slower on the way home, even though he was pretty certain that Jungkook's brother was already far away by now.

 

When they got back to the house, Namjoon was sitting at the table, drinking a late-night coffee and staring into a computer screen, a weird glow about his face as he held a sleeping Naiara in his lap, the toddler curled up against her father's bare chest, a tiny hand laid against his skin as she slept on. Namjoon looked between Seokjin and Jungkook's faces in question, only for Jungkook to sigh and silently walk off to their bedroom, closing the door after himself with a decisive click. Namjoon arched an eyebrow at Seokjin before the man sat down at the table to join him, preparing to explain the circumstances of that night.

 

Chapter Text

The dawn of the worst day in Jungkook’s life started off gently enough, all things considered.

 

He rolled out of bed as carefully as he could, trying not to disturb a snoring Seokjin, who was trying to catch up on sleep after a two-day shift at the hospital. It was a routine that they went through all the time, with Seokjin working extra shifts to prepare for the baby's coming, and Jungkook trying not to disturb him until he was rested enough to be human again. The warmth of the bed was familiar, and the light that shone in through the blinds was gentle and unassuming. Jungkook groaned quietly, making his way toward the bathroom. He felt.... off .

 

Maybe it was the pregnancy, giving him the weird aches, pains, and stiffness in his body.

 

Maybe it was the lingering stress of seeing his brother last week. He wasn't sure.

 

Maybe it was the fact that Seokjin needed to answer his father very soon about whether or not they would be accepting Seokjin's inheritance, and its concurrent requirements.

 

Jungkook didn't know. All he knew was that he felt off, but that had been the kind of off he had been feeling for a week. He was unsettled, in flux, unsure.

 

He brushed back his hair, noting that he needed to get a haircut soon, sat down on the toilet, and that was when the first sign hit him. A strange cramp in his stomach, an ache in the base of his spine that confused him with its viciousness. He clutched his stomach, and stared down at the red spots that had appeared in his underwear. He frowned. He pulled out his cell phone and searched for his symptoms, the length of his pregnancy, and scrolled.

 

Someone knocked on the locked bathroom door, but Jungkook ignored it.

 

The internet said that bloody spotting could happen, especially this early. That there was probably nothing to worry about, but it was best to get tested, just in case, as it could be serious.

 

He considered waking Seokjin up, to calmly let him know and to ask his expert opinion, but he didn't want to disturb him after the way he had gotten so little sleep this week. He decided he would call his doctor while he was out doing errands. In the meantime, he dug through the drawers in the bathroom for a pad to catch if there were any more spots.

 

He walked out into the kitchen, greeting Jimin as normal as the man was straightening his tie for work, a Pop-Tart in his mouth as he grunted a returning  good morning. Jungkook waved a goodbye at him as he left, the door clicking shut behind the Alpha.

 

Jungkook sat at the table, eating his cereal and taking the pile of pre-approved vitamins and supplements that Seokjin had carefully laid out for him, double-checked with their doctor. He caught up on his social media, and was watching a weird video about an obnoxiously aggressive monkey when Yoongi came down the stairs, Kwangie in his arms as the boy leaned sleepily against his papa's shoulder, a pacifier in his mouth.

 

"He needs to be weaned off this thing," Yoongi said quietly, looking tired. "But he can't seem to sleep without it."

 

"Even with that Stitch doll he stole from us?" Jungkook teased. Yoongi apologized again, but Jungkook just chuckled. Him and Seokjin had already agreed to let Kwangie win this round, but the rest of the toys were being kept shoved into the closet until the baby arrived.

 

It was a gentle enough morning.

 

Jungkook left the house after kissing a still-sleeping Seokjin goodbye, needing to get some more toilet paper and rechargeable batteries for the household. The game controllers had died, and there had been a small riot in the living room the night before. The trip to the store was exceedingly boring and uneventful, save for a couple of salespeople who followed Jungkook down several aisles asking about his current internet provider until he lied about it enough that they were satisfied and left him alone. He also decided to get some apple juice, groaning a little as he carefully dropped it into the cart, as another cramp hit his stomach roughly.

 

He had nearly forgotten about calling the doctor's office, but at the revival cramp, he pulled out his phone, telling the receptionist who answered his symptoms. She assured him that there was most likely nothing to worry about, but that it was definitely a good idea to run some tests just in case. The doctor, however, was not in that night, but he would be in the following day. Jungkook set an appointment for first thing in the morning, and then went to wait in the check-out line. Kiara was going to be making salmon for dinner, and he was looking forward to it, already getting hungry again for lunch.

 

It was eleven thirty in the morning on a Sunday when Jungkook was walking back out to the car, pushing his shopping cart of two plastic bags. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and he was reaching into his pocket for his keys when the cramps hit again, this time forceful and terrible.

 

He couldn't help it, he yelped out in pain, dropping into a crouch as he clutching the side of the shopping cart tightly, his fingers aching as he braced himself against the pain, waiting for it to subside.

 

There was a strange sensation in his gut, as if all of his insides suddenly slid out of him with no resistance, a gushing sound escaped, and he gasped as blood started dripping from his cut-off sweats, spilling out onto the pavement, scary and obscene. The pain in his gut had alleviated, but Jungkook was left staring at the mess of red that was trailing down the uneven ground, and that was when the fear gripped him, tearing him up from the chest outward as realization started to set in. Tears of shame, guilt, and fear spilled down his cheeks, and he heard the harsh sound of someone crying out, of the turmoil beginning. He still crouched there, gripping onto the metal of the cart and sobbing.

 

An ambulance arrived soon after, and they were asking him all sorts of questions. Jungkook didn't want to answer. He just wanted Seokjin there, warm and reassuring. He wanted to know the baby was alright. He wanted to be told it was all going to be okay.

 

They asked him his name, confirmed by Scent that he was an Omega, that he was indeed pregnant. With a Scent like buttercups, a female Omega swooped in and held Jungkook's hand. He looked up and met her eyes, and gently she whispered to him that she would stay with him until his Mate arrived, and that she would be with him as long as she could. Jungkook sobbed harder, whimpering out Seokjin's name. She nodded, and pulled out a cell phone.

 

The trip to the hospital was humiliating, noisy, and long. Jungkook hated the smell around himself, hated the smell in the ambulance and the smell of blood. He squeezed the Omega's hand as she calmly spoke on the phone, and Jungkook knew that it was Seokjin, could hear the panic in his voice as it rose out of the small speaker in a weak tinny.

 

It's my fault.

 

Seokjin is going to be so mad .

 

The panic that rose up in his chest pained him almost as much as the new onslaught of cramps, and he closed his eyes, not wanting to think about it. He could have sat up, he could have spoken. He could have - should have - been the one to tell Seokjin. But all he found himself capable of doing was shutting his eyes and trying to keep his breathing even. If there was even the smallest chance of the baby being okay, he wanted to give the baby any and all strength he could muster, and freaking out or stressing wouldn't give the baby that strength.

 

They arrived at the ER, and the Omega helped walk him through all the paperwork he needed. They sat him on a chair near the bathroom while they waited to be called back, and he kept bleeding and bleeding. He felt a little faint, a bit dizzy, but he was generally okay. The Omega lady kept by his side the whole time, not saying much, and not asking much. She brought him a bottle of water and brushed his bangs out of his eyes, and reassured him that Seokjin was on the way.

 

A nurse came out at one point, asking about the urgency of his examination, and when the Omega explained, the nurse actually sounded irritated. Jungkook felt mortified as she snapped that there were other patients who had been waiting even longer than them, and that she didn't understand why they had come into the ER in the first place. He felt his face grow hot, but he kept his eyes focused on the floor, kept his hands busy with the water bottle, and sat as still as he could.

 

The glass automatic doors opened, and Jungkook saw Seokjin at last. The man looked like he had just rolled out of bed, eyes wide as he quickly scanned the room for Jungkook. When their eyes met, Jungkook thought that he could have garnered strength and fortitude to deal with the current problem, but instead, he broke down crying instantly and uncontrollably. Seokjin rushed over, scooping him up in his arms and muttering his name.

 

"Jungkook, oh thank god. Are you hurt? Are you okay?"

 

Jungkook nodded, sitting back and forcing himself to breathe in a way that would permit him to speak. "I'm... I think it's the baby..."

 

Seokjin's face seemed to crumple and pale, but he kept watching Jungkook steadily, hands clasping his Mate's. Behind him, Jungkook saw several of the other pack members piling in through the doors. Kiara was there, and Hoseok, along with Yoongi and Namjoon. They hurried over, asking the same sort of questions Seokjin had, and Jungkook was heartbroken that he couldn't answer any of them.

 

"Why isn't he being checked yet?" Yoongi hissed, looking around the ER waiting room, impatience emanating from the Omega. "What the fuck?"

 

"ERs take forever," Namjoon supplied, even though his posture was just as tense and worried. He knelt down in front of Jungkook at Seokjin's side, and the sight of the two Alpha brothers, shoulder to shoulder, as if pressing in to form a protective wall that was coming at him, was almost more than Jungkook's heart could take.

 

"Jungkook, you're gonna be okay," Seokjin whispered, squeezing his hand. Kiara was talking to the Omega lady that had arrived with Jungkook, updating her on what had happened in the parking lot. They all stood, lingering around and listening to her story, faces drawn and grim.

 

Jungkook wished he had answers.

 

Instead, he just felt wracked with guilt. The time they spent in the ER waiting room was awful, lingering, and awkward. Jungkook had to get up, go to the bathroom, and change the pad and clean up from the bleeding a few times. Eventually, the Omega woman who had been there from the beginning leaned over, squeezing Jungkook's arm.

 

"I'm going to leave now, sweetie, now that your pack is here," she said with a gentle smile. She squeezed again. There was nothing really much more that she could say, knowing the situation as she did, except for, "Be strong, little Omega. Be strong."

 

He thanked her quietly, wanting to cry again as she left, but not knowing exactly why. The room felt colder without her, more isolated, even as he felt the body heat emanating off of his pack family as they huddled in around him. Minutes passed as if they were hours.

 

Finally, they were called back, Jungkook awkwardly standing up and hesitating, wishing they could all go in with him, but also terrified at the idea of them all witnessing this next step. Seokjin, luckily, stepped in to decide for him, wrapping an arm around Jungkook to support him as they walked forward.

 

"Let's just the two of us go in," he said gently. "The others will be waiting out here for us."

 

Jungkook nodded, and then they had to go into one of the examination rooms. He sat in a quiet trance on the bed with the white crinkled paper. They asked when the spotting had started, where were the cramps located, how far along was his pregnancy, did he smoke, all these questions that he answered in a numb haze. Seokjin stood by his side, warm and protective.

 

He thought that once they had spoken with the nurse, that things would finally start having answers. But test after test, wait after wait, The day dragged on.

 

Some of the people that came in were sweet and understanding, others were gruff and brusque, snapping as if he had somehow bothered them and ruined their day by coming in to the ER. Jungkook sat quietly, moved mechanically as instructed, and continued to fear the worst.

 

Seokjin tried to be comforting to Jungkook without promising anything, and once or twice he snapped back defensively at the nurses who tried to rationalize away the need for additional tests. He said a lot of things about checking for this and that, that Jungkook had never even heard of, but he assumed Seokjin knew best, so he sat still and didn't argue. After several hours at the hospital and no end in sight, he didn't have the energy to argue, anyways.

 

The Alpha messaged the others after their stomachs continued to grumble, asking them to go get something for Jungkook to eat. If they took any more blood tests, Jungkook wasn't sure he could avoid fainting, and he was just so tired, and done, and desperate for a conclusion. Was the baby okay, or not?

 

Eventually, an ultrasound was begun, and Seokjin held his hand tightly as they searched around and around for a heartbeat amidst the white noise in his head and on the monitor.

 

There was no heartbeat. 

 

The baby was two weeks smaller than it should have been, small and unmoving on the screen. The tears fell from Jungkook's cheeks afresh, having known before what had happened, but finally getting it confirmed immediately made it worse by tenfold.

 

"I'm sorry. But your baby has miscarried."

 

Jungkook sobbed, and Seokjin suddenly had his face wrapped in a crushing embrace, as if he could hug the horrible reality away from both of them, as if he could shield them and still make things okay. A silence hung over the room for a long, painful time.

 

There were instructions given, warnings about what was going to happen in the next few hours to weeks. The doctor said, at some point, a bunch of things that sounded important and directed at Jungkook, their gazes locked, but Jungkook couldn't hear any of it. Seokjin asked some questions, that defensive tone still traced throughout all his words, an anger that had no direction to go, blame that could not be given to any doctors or nurses.

 

Did they check for this cause or that cause? Did they confirm there was no risk to Jungkook? Were there signs of hemorrhaging? Was there anything physically abnormal that they found, anything that could raise an alarm?

 

Jungkook couldn't ask anything. He just clutched to Seokjin's shirt, wishing they could be whisked far away.

 

He wanted to tell Seokjin to stop asking who was to blame. It obviously had to be himself, Jungkook had decided. He wasn't sure where he had gone wrong. Maybe he was broken. Maybe his body was broken, a failure of an Omega. Maybe he had let himself get too stressed about everything going on. Maybe he had bumped into something unknowingly. What if he had eaten something wrong? Sitting in the waiting room had given him plenty of time to over-analyze every activity from the last few weeks. A panic set in as he thought back to when he had shifted into wolf form to chase after Kwangie, once before he had known he was pregnant, and once after. What if that had been it? What if it was all his own fault?

 

Tears welled up in his eyes again, but Seokjin only patted his head, still pushing back verbally against the doctor, until the man reassured for the nth time that there would be no answers, but that in the vast majority of cases, it was just a genetic issue, something beyond control or reason. Mother Nature doing what she did best.

 

Jungkook couldn't believe these reasons. He could only feel self-blame, failure, guilt. His baby was dead. Chanseol was gone. He was still the only member of their pack who had no pup. He was the only one who couldn't do it. The horrific devastation piled in on him, nearly suffocating him beneath its weight.

 

The doctor said that they could choose to surgically remove the fetus, or they could go home and wait for everything to pass naturally. Seokjin looked to Jungkook, unsure.

 

Numbly, Jungkook considered. He didn't want to stay in this hospital any longer than he had to. He knew that it was less chance of an infection if he had the surgery, but he didn't want any surgery. He didn't want to stay. He looked at Seokjin, eyes red from cry and throat dry and sore.

 

"Jin..." he said quietly. "I want to go home."

 

Seokjin nodded, not questioning Jungkook whatsoever as he told the doctor that they would be handling it quietly at home. The Alpha handled everything after that, leading Jungkook around as a numbness settled into his bones, as if wrapping him in a shield of nothingness so that he could stop feeling so very, very much. He was barely responsive as they got into the car, Seokjin holding Jungkook's hand and watching him in worry. They ate the food in the car, Jungkook sipping quietly at his water bottle for the most part, even though he felt that his body was hungry. He just couldn't eat, with the nausea clawing away at his insides right now.

 

"Jungkook?" he whispered as Yoongi drove them home. There came no answer, only silence and blank eyes. "Babe?"

 

Jungkook turned to look over at him, but was unable to maintain eye contact. Seokjin looked so broken , and he couldn't imagine how he himself looked. And he still felt like it was all his own fault. Was Seokjin disappointed in him? In this body that couldn't keep their baby alive?

 

They went home, all wordlessly shuffling into the house. Jungkook could hear Naiara and Kwangie playing upstairs, Jimin making them giggle and shriek. Kiara rushed up the stairs, and Jungkook could hear her asking them to be quiet for the moment.

 

Seokjin led Jungkook toward their room, Namjoon asking if there was anything he could do to help. Jungkook didn't answer, so Seokjin muttered a quiet no. They shut the bedroom door behind them, with just Seokjin and Jungkook alone inside.

 

He thought he would have been able to keep up the numbness a bit longer. He thought being home, protected by familiar walls, was going to be easier.

 

But the entire room was littered with the baby's things. Toys, mobiles, the crib, toys, pacifiers, and more.

 

At the sight of them, Jungkook broke down in tears, and Seokjin fell with him slowly to the floor, wrapping him in his embrace and joining him in crying.

 

~~~~~

 

The doctor said it could take weeks for Jungkook's body to expel everything. He hated the very possibility, and the evening was fraught with fear and pain. Seokjin was by his side as constantly as he physically could be, brushing his hand through Jungkook's hair and kissing his forehead, his cheeks, his shoulder.  He whispered gentle I love you s, and sat with him in silence. But Jungkook still felt entirely alone. It was his own body that had betrayed him. It was he, who had become a living tomb.

 

The hours passed by, a rough night of not coming to terms with anything. Jungkook slept fitfully, woke up to nightmares and crying, and more gentle comforting from Seokjin.

 

Luckily - if that's what one could call it - Jungkook's waiting didn't last as long as the doctor predicted. It was only the next morning that he got up again, as he had so normally the day before, and went to the bathroom. This time, things felt different, and in a few moments he was crying again, calling for Seokjin in a weak voice.

 

Seokjin, who had been checking his phone just outside the bathroom door, came inside, his face pale as he read the expression on Jungkook's face.

 

The baby had passed.

 

The Alpha walked into the bathroom, laying a hand on Jungkook's shoulder. Calmly, he said, "I'll handle it."

 

In the midst of pain and grief in a wound that was raw and very open, Jungkook was still able to be thankful that it was Seokjin that took on the gruesome task of retrieving the remains from the toilet, an all-too-common scenario for natural miscarriages. He used the sterile specimen cup the nurses had given them. He refused to let Jungkook see the baby, ordering him calmly to go lie back down in bed.

 

Seokjin was gone for a very long time, Jungkook thought, as he lay there in the darkness. The bleeding wasn't going to be over, although he felt like majority of the pain he had felt - which he later had found out were contractions - was now passed. But it would probably be weeks for everything to clear up, and it would likely be until his next heat before his body returned to normal levels again.

 

At last, Seokjin returned, curling his body around Jungkook and squeezing him tightly in a too-hot and needy embrace, but Jungkook said nothing to it, just lying there and sitting in silence.

 

Seokjin was crying, sobbing into Jungkook's shoulder, and he smelled of so much disinfectant that it made Jungkook nauseated once more.

 

"I'm so sorry..." Seokjin wept against him. "I'm so sorry, Jungkook. I love you."

 

Jungkook lay there, not moving, feeling Seokjin's pain, but feeling so far away that nothing could quite reach through to him, all at the same time. He tried to muster up the courage to release the words swirling angrily through his head, to allow them to pass through his lips, but he was afraid. He was terrified, down to the very marrow of his bones, down to the deepest aspects of his soul, that Seokjin was going to agree with him. He wouldn't be able to handle it, he would be irreparably broken. But at the same time, the flux of not having it agreed with, of keeping it locked in his head, was so very painful. Several long minutes passed, and terror gripped at him, saying that he had missed his chance to say it.

 

At last, it came out as a weak croak, pathetic and broken.

 

"I'm the sorry one..." he managed, his voice breaking a little as he spoke.

 

"What? Why?"

 

Jungkook sat, staring into the darkness, tears streaming down his cheeks at their own will now. He had so many reasons, so many things he wanted to say, but he couldn't get them verbalized, he couldn't find the strength to say them out loud. Seokjin repeated the question every few minutes, not realizing that he was not receiving an answer, not because Jungkook didn't have an answer, but because he couldn't get the words out, due to his gripping fear.

 

"I'm sorry..." Jungkook  managed weakly. "That I couldn't keep our baby alive."

 

"No, Jungkook, no, baby..." Seokjin swooped in, cupping Jungkook's face in his hands and nearly immediately beginning to cry with the Omega. "You didn't do anything wrong, do you hear me? Listen to me, Jungkook. I swear to god. You were not at fault for this."

 

Jungkook had a thousand arguments hidden behind his teeth, ready to tumble out, but the words rang right through him, causing quakes in his very bones, and he broke down into wordless sobs. Seokjin continued to whisper reassurances to him, creating a thick rebuttal even though he couldn't hear the words in Jungkook's head.

 

"It was just a genetic fluke, it's what happens in the vast majority of miscarriages. You took your vitamins, you rested a lot, you ate well, you did some exercise, you've done everything right , Jungkook. And there is nothing wrong with you, or your ability to make a pup. Listen. No, listen ." Jungkook had lolled his head away from Seokjin, as if trying to escape the onslaught of words which contradicted the piercing pain in his chest, but Seokjin forced him to turn his head and meet his eyes. The almond, brown eyes he loved. Seokjin's eyes gleamed with determination, with ferocity. " Listen to me, Jungkook. You are not at fault. I know the statistics. When you're ready, we can try again, and the chances of a perfectly happy, healthy baby being born are very high, okay? We will have a pup. This is just something that happens, and it isn't because of anything we did or didn't do."

 

The tirade of love and heavy emotion drained Jungkook utterly, until he could do nothing but lie on the bed silently, and wait. Seokjin knew about such things. He studied them, he saw them happen with his own eyes at the hospital sometimes. Jungkook knew that logically, he should trust them. He knew that Seokjin would not lie to him on something so deep and important as this.

 

But his heart still mourned for little Chanseol, who was never to breathe the free air, or to laugh or cry. It was still his own body, an unsupportive vessel, which he felt had let the baby down. It was something he felt Seokjin could never understand. He had been connected to the baby. It had been his responsibility to bring the baby into the world.

 

Jungkook fell back into deep sobs that ached his whole body, and Seokjin continued to hold him, as hours passed by and their hearts wept. They eventually fell to exhaustion, and slept.

 

~~~~~

 

It was seven days since Chanseol died. Seokjin woke up in his bed, once again alone. The space on the bed next to him had not been occupied for some time. He sighed, standing up and getting dressed and ready.

 

When he was awake and showered, he walked to the entrance to the kitchen, and halted.

 

He knew Jungkook was under the table. He couldn't see him or hear him, but he could smell the Omega's mourning, the Scent of saltwater and leather emanating through the room as he had occupied all available air with his emotions. Jungkook had been under the table nearly constantly since Chanseol's funeral. Namjoon had made arrangements for a heart-breakingly tiny spot in the Kim blood pack's mausoleum. Jungkook, although physically present, was barely there in mind and soul for the burial, standing silently as he wept.

 

Seokjin was mostly okay, perhaps through some sort of self-preservation, or perhaps because he was an Alpha, not as connected with the process of carrying a pup. Seokjin wasn't sure.

 

But he knew that, until his dying day, he would be haunted by the sight of the tiny, lifeless fetus of their son, Chanseol. He hadn't even had the heart to tell Jungkook that he had been right, that the baby had been a boy.

 

In general, he didn't have the heart to talk to Jungkook at all, these days. He felt as though Jungkook was on another plane of existence, shrouded in a thick mist which he couldn't pierce through. He felt as if he could scream into that abyss, and Jungkook wouldn't hear him. He could run into it, but he would be unable to find his way back to his Mate again, despite his best efforts. He would only end up hopelessly lost in that mist himself.

 

The darkness cut between them, separating them when he wanted to be there for Jungkook the most. He wanted to be there for him, to steady him and lead him back home and into his arms.

 

But Jungkook was cold, and deeply lost within his self-hatred, his loss, and his isolation. Seokjin was cut off from him, with no indication or power to change things. He tried to talk to him and was ignored. He tried to hold him and was pushed away. He tried to comfort him, and was painfully rejected.

 

Eventually, after multiple hurts and days of silence, Seokjin's own pain deepened and manifested, and he found himself unable to keep trying anymore. He knew Jungkook was having a worse time of it than he was, but he still cried himself to sleep, wanting nothing more than to have Jungkook near him again.

 

The rest of the pack, still too in shock by the current affairs and most of them inexperienced in such matters, avoided both of them with the intent of being respectful. Seokjin didn't know how to tell them that that wasn't what they needed just then. It felt too ungrateful to demand they face it, when it was something big and horrible settled between himself and his Omega.

 

It was a week past now, and Seokjin stared at the table, wishing with his whole heart that he could crawl beneath and escape with Jungkook into that mist. He didn't even care if they never came out again. He would be fine with that, if Jungkook would merely let him stay at his side in spirit and in everything.

 

Instead, Seokjin made coffee, skipped breakfast, and made his way to work for the first time since they had lost Chanseol.

 

He couldn't stand to do nothing, to exist as a shell, for any longer. He needed movement, he needed to feel life and meaning again. He needed to be useful to someone, even if it couldn't be Jungkook right now.

 

Entering the hospital, he was taken aback by the normalcy of his routine. The same faces greeted him. The same nurses still gossiping about the same things.

 

If they had heard the news, they didn't say anything, and nobody asked. In a way, that was a relief. In a way, it was torture, to not know where he stood, or who knew, or what they thought.

 

In lieu of bringing it up, Seokjin plastered on his work-smile, getting to his overdue paperwork and meeting with his patients. He asked them all about how they were feeling, what were their symptoms, how long have you experienced this, and how about we start by running some tests?

 

Seokjin nearly made it through the whole day before the horrible incident was even brought up, and it was in the form of one of the nurses that had been in the ER that night. She called out his name, walking up to him with a somber expression.

 

"Dr. Kim," she said gently, "I'm so sorry to hear what the results were. I wanted to give you my condolences."

 

if he had ever been asked in his life 'How do you think you would react to having a miscarriage?' Seokjin would have said that he wasn't sure, that maybe he would have handled it fine. It would have been painful, of course . But he did know the statistics. Miscarriages were, on the contrary to popular belief, exceedingly common, and nearly always without cause or explanation. He figured there was nothing to stop or delay one from trying again.

 

But the instant the nurse brought it up, Seokjin's heart clenched so painfully, that he thought perhaps something was actually, physically wrong with his heart. He clenched his fist quietly against his chest, forcing the remnants of a reassuring smile across his lips, and ignored the way his eyes were already stinging, itching for tears.

 

"Thank you very much," he managed stiffly. "It's appreciated."

 

The nurse laid a hand on his arm, a strangely sharp note of sympathy on her face. "How is your Mate taking it?"

 

Another stab, a knife twisting in his chest. Horrible. Awful. I'm afraid he's going to leave me forever. I feel like a terrible, pathetic, powerless Alpha that can't do anything for him. I miss him so much.

 

"As well as can be expected," he offered diplomatically. He knew that if she even tried one more question, as innocuous as it may have been intended, that he would have lost all sense of decorum and screamed at her in frustration and pain. So he diverted as the safest solution. "I am afraid I really must be going now, so please take care." Seokjin immediately rushed off, finding the first unoccupied, private broom closet he could, and locking the door before he dropped to the floor, allowing himself to weep openly.

 

The closet was small, and dark, but Seokjin filled it up with a strong Scent of an Alpha in mourning, his chest filled with stabbing pains as he wondered if things would ever get easier, and knowing that Jungkook was wondering the same thing, most likely.

 

He sniffled, wishing he had some tissue nearby, and heard his name being called out the loudspeaker, his pager buzzing at his side. He ignored it, knowing that he didn't have any urgent patients to contend with today, given that most of them had been reassigned to his colleagues during his time away.

 

Another whirring vibration of the pager, and Seokjin wiped his nose on his sleeve. He had been looking forward to having a baby. He hadn't known before that it would resonate so deeply within him, but now that it had come to this, he realized how very badly he wanted to have a pup, and to raise it with Jungkook. He didn't want anything else more right now. Just that.

 

He thought about all the daydreams he had had of them together, playing games or chasing each other around the house. Musings of whether or not the little boy would get along with the other pups, or if he would trail after them, eager to be included in any and all play. He imagined the feel of a baby sleeping against his chest. His baby. Their baby. Not the baby of one of the other pack house members. He knew it shouldn't have been too different, he still loved each of them as he always had. But it wasn't the same. It just wasn't.

 

Seokjin heard feet rushing past outside, but he didn't have strength in his legs to stand up and leave the closet just yet. He allowed himself to crumple, to be weak for the moment.

 

He didn't know what he would do if Jungkook decided to leave him after this. But he wouldn't even be angry at him. He would just feel...broken. If Jungkook could no longer bear to look at Seokjin, a representation of all that had happened, an association with loss, Seokjin couldn't bear it. He thought again about his father's offer, and with a sad heart, he pitifully considered that perhaps it was a journey he would have to take, and perhaps it would end up being without Jungkook. He cried again. If only Jungkook were with him. If only he would reach out. He didn't know how long he sat on the floor, but it was too long, and he knew he should get back soon.

 

A clatter, as someone banged against the closet door, and Seokjin jolted in surprise.

 

"Seokjin!?" came a familiar voice, frantic and out of breath, jiggling the door handle with fervor. "Seokjin!? Are you in there?"

 

"Jungkook, please!" came another voice. They sounded worried, but the handle continued to spin and clatter.

 

"Seokjin, open up, it's Jungkook!"

 

"Jungkook?" Seokjin wiped worriedly at his eyes, trying to remove the traces of his tears, then unlocked the door. Instantly, Jungkook was there, bounding into him into a hug and squeezing him tightly.

 

"Are you okay? What's wrong? Are you hurt?" Jungkook held him tightly. Honestly speaking, Jungkook emanated a ripe smell, indicative of the fact that he hadn't showered in some days, but the Scent of worried Omega filtered up into his nostrils. Jungkook pulled back just enough to start running his eyes up and down Seokjin, as if looking for signs of injury.

 

"What? No." Seokjin said. "I just..."

 

Jungkook stared into Seokjin's face, trying to read the emotion there.

 

"What are you doing here? You should be at home," was all Seokjin managed with a squeak.

 

The Omega's face was drawn into a skeptical expression. "I felt it again. Our Bond. I thought you were hurt."

 

Seokjin felt his throat constrict. There was no way.

 

"He was just lying under the table," Jimin, who was two steps behind the Omega, intercepted. "He just leapt out and said you were in trouble and that he needed to get to you right away."

 

Seokjin blinked, his mouth falling open a little in shock. Jungkook narrowed his eyes, checked Seokjin over once more for any signs of pain or injury, and then he looked Seokjin in the eyes. He must have been able to see how red they were. He must have known.

 

"Jin?" The single word cut right through him, his love for Jungkook nearly paralyzing him. He had thought once that he could never love someone as he loved Jungkook, much less be loved that much in return, but it was all wrapped up in the rapid beating of Jungkook's heart as he had ran to him, setting aside grief and his own pain for the sake of rushing to Seokjin's side. In one word, Jungkook reconnected them, reassured Seokjin that they weren't really broken, the mist between them was but a temporary thing, and that they would be okay.

 

Tears rushed down Seokjin's cheeks as if they were trying to race, and he let out a choking sob as Jungkook's hands reached up to cup his cheeks gently. "I th-thought...I wa--.." Seokjin cried harder, unable to stop, unable to be calm and collected like he should be. Jungkook's brows twitched into a look of sympathy, waiting patiently for him to finish.

 

When Seokjin managed to verbalize it, it was watery, and thick with sadness. He knew it was selfish to say. He knew Jungkook was going through a lot right now, but...

 

"I don't want to lose you, Jungkook."

 

"You're not losing me," Jungkook whispered, now crying with him, albeit more quietly. He embraced Seokjin, their bodies close and warm and comforting.

 

"I miss you. I miss him too, but..." Seokjin squeezed Jungkook tightly. "I'm sorry."

 

"I know," Jungkook sighed shakily into his Mate's shoulder. "It's just so hard."

 

"I wanna do this together , Jungkook," Seokjin whispered. "Please don't push me out."

 

Jungkook squeezed his eyes shut, shifting back a little so that when he opened them, Seokjin was there. He smiled softly, brushing away a lock of Seokjin's hair away from his face.

 

"You belong with me," he said gently.

 

" And with me," interrupted Jimin, who had stepped into their little broom closet, ignoring the nurses outside and closing the door before he moved in to force himself into the embrace. Seokjin giggled a little through his tears, allowing the Alpha to join the hug. "We're a family. We'll get through this."



Seokjin nodded, even though he couldn't see how they would ever get over it. But he wanted to believe in Jimin, and he definitely wanted to believe in Jungkook.

 

~~~~~

 

That night, Seokjin slept under the table with Jungkook. There was still that shroud of mist around them, still the pangs of guilt that stabbed at them brutally in the darkness of the night and in the greyness of the day. But instead of a cold bed in the morning, Seokjin was suffocated by Jungkook, half-laying on top of him. Some days, Jungkook still woke up crying. Sometimes, they both did. Sometimes, it was a good morning. But either way, Seokjin felt like he had been accepted into that blinding, disorienting mist of mourning. And though neither Jungkook nor Seokjin could see the way out of it, their hands were still intertwined.

 

It was now two weeks since Chanseol's passing.

 

Jungkook was nibbling at some crackers, telling Seokjin that everything had cleared up. The pregnancy test showed negative again at last, his hormones now reset back to how they had been before. They spoke calmly and quietly about another check-up with the doctor, but everything should be normal again. At least physically.

 

Seokjin leaned in and kissed Jungkook's cheek, and then pulled out a printed photograph from his pocket. It was a photo of a sonogram. It was Chanseol’s one and only sonogram, and it was of a baby that had already left the world when the photo was taken. But it had his name written on it, and it would have to do. Jungkook held it, saw the blurry outline of a small child, which looked more like a very unclear bean-shaped apparition, and he stared at it.

 

"Good morning!" called out Jimin, walking into the kitchen. Seokjin lifted one edge of the makeshift 'drapes' around the underside of the table to the side, seeing Jimin walking into the kitchen with Taehyung wrapped around him. The two were awkwardly jointly-walking into the kitchen, Jimin trying to walk as normally as possible with a giant Beta curled and anchored around him. Taehyung had his jaw hooked over Jimin's shoulder, and gave them a little smile.

 

"Morning," Seokjin greeted back.

 

The two walked around the kitchen, quietly discussing what sort of breakfast they wanted to eat and cross-referencing this with what sorts of breakfasts were actually available.

 

"You should talk to Tae," Seokjin whispered, moving back underneath the table to curl himself around Jungkook, who was sitting up cross-legged and staring at the sonogram. "He's been through this before, when they were trying to get pregnant."

 

Jungkook quietly shook his head. "Maybe some time in the future. But not yet. I don't think he or I really want to dig into that too soon."

 

To that, Seokjin gave a gentle nod, not really understanding in the emotional sense, but knowing that it was a hard subject to broach. He hugged Jungkook tighter, feeling the Omega lay one reassuring hand on his arm.

 

"Morning, Kwangie," Taehyung said, giving them but a moment's warning before Kwangie slipped underneath the table, flinging himself into Jungkook's lap before either the Omega or Alpha could protest. The pup cooed with happy morning vibrations, nearly tearing the sonogram photo out of Jungkook's hands unwittingly with his tiny body slam.

 

"Morn!" Kwangie cheered happily, rubbing his nose into Jungkook's shirt to sniff his Scent. "Morn!"

 

"Good morning, Kwangie," Seokjin murmured. He saw the heartbroken look in Jungkook's eyes, and he felt it, too.

 

"It's a rare evening without twin-duty," Taehyung was saying somewhere above them, "I love them dearly, but I'd like to get the smell of baby liquids out of my system for awhile, I'm losing my ability to smell anything ."

 

Jungkook looked over his shoulder at Seokjin, and without words, he knew.

 

We're the only ones without a child, Jungkook's eyes said. I want a baby more than anything.

 

Seokjin kissed the back of Jungkook's neck, then he pointed up at the underside of the table, where dozens of photographs had been tacked to the makeshift 'ceiling.' There were so many memories here, both happy and bittersweet. Jungkook gave a little smile, shifting Kwangie into a more comfortable position in his lap before he reached up with the tack that Seokjin handed to him, and stuck the sonogram photo to rest among the others.

 

Rest in peace, Chanseol... We love you.

 

"Seokjin?" Jungkook said quietly, looking up at the sonogram. Kwangie stared up at the ceiling, too, more to try and figure out what his two uncles were staring at than anything, but also because he loved the fairy lights that were strung up along the edges, giving them a warm, welcoming glow.

 

"Yes?" Seokjin leaned in curiously.

 

Jungkook turned partially around so that he could take Seokjin's hand in his, squeezing it tightly.

 

"Seokjin... I want to have a baby. I want to try again. As soon as we're able to. Safely, that is."

 

The entire kitchen seemed to suddenly pause, breaking into a weird silence that held its breath. Seokjin smiled, and kissed Jungkook.

 

"I want to try again, too."

 

Chapter Text

Taehyung woke up to the sound of a baby’s cry. He wasn’t sure how, but he knew instinctively within him that it was Taeyeon. There was something about the tone and the rhythm of it that was just hers. He sighed, trying to roll out of bed but finding Jimin, as per usual, in a complete tangled mess around him. One leg around Taehyung's torso, with Taehyung's leg underneath Jimin’s other leg, and arms all wrapped up in each other, with Jimin tucked against Taehyung's shoulder. Getting untangled from Jimin was a daily affair, and one in which he held no complaints about, save for when baby one was crying and woke up baby two.

 

"Love, I have to get up," Taehyung whispered, patting Jimin's arm, which was tossed across Taehyung's chest and neck and anchored the Beta and Alpha together. At the sound of Taehyung's voice, Jimin let out an endearing little groan.

 

"Noooo..." he pouted, clinging to Taehyung, pulling himself up farther and nosing into Taehyung's neck to give him a lazy morning Scenting that made the hairs on Taehyung's arms stand up. "Stay here.. we don't have children."

 

"Then who do you think is crying for attention?" Taehyung chuckled.

 

"Someone else's children, for sure," Jimin joked. "And me ."

 

Taehyung kissed Jimin's head, running a hand through the dark hair, and then nudged at Jimin through his protests until he let Taehyung wriggle out of the bed. Jimin often took the late shifts when it came to the babies, and he had definitely been up until the wee hours of the morning yet again, based on his disgruntled demeanor this morning. Taehyung rubbed his eyes, moving over to the crib and picking up Taeyeon, who was now sniffling and trying to decide if she needed another round of shrieks or if she had complained enough. Taehyung laid the baby girl along his shoulder, patting her back. It was safest to remove her from the room so she wouldn't wake them up if she cried again. He peered in on Joonhee, finding the baby laying in her crib quietly. She was suckling on her special wrist, drooling all over it, and she gave a little kick with both feet when she saw Taehyung. He smiled down at her, patting her stomach tenderly.

 

"Go back to sleep, JooJoo, I'll go change your sister's diaper."

 

Joonhee cooed, and Taeyeon lifted her head from Taehyung's shoulder to try and spot her twin, and then she flopped back down onto the comforting shoulder and gripped at his shirt needily.

 

Taehyung smiled, happy with the way the twins seemed to understand each other sometimes. If only the could calm each other all of the time, that would have been perfect. But babies are full of miscommunication and frustration, and their twins would be no exception. He hummed a little lullaby to her as he took the baby downstairs. The house was (for once) quiet, for which Taehyung was grateful. He laid Taeyeon out on the carpeted floor of the living room and started to change her diaper. The baby, who was now wide awake and wanting to utilize her recently-discovered freedom of crawling, tried the entire time to wriggle away and explore. Taehyung chuckled as he kept grabbing her legs so she couldn't escape him, skillfully changing her diaper and resnapping the duck-covered onesie she was wearing.

 

Once Taeyeon was changed, he cuddled her for a few more moments, and then let her loose on the floor, taking a brief moment to get himself some orange juice and to set up his work laptop on the coffee table, sitting cross-legged near the baby so he could rein her in if necessary. He sipped at his juice, still squinting away the sleep from his eyes, and opened up his work emails. Several documents and requests for reports had come in, and despite the fact that he was working part-time from home, Taehyung knew he would probably need to access the main databases sometime this week, just to confirm some loose ends and make sure everything was up-to-date on his end. That was why his work-partner was extremely vital to his research.

 

The second-to-last email he opened, however, was a very brief one. He froze, reading over the succinct email of two sentences, and then clicking frantically on the attached document.

 

In his short time as an investigator for the local police station, Taehyung had handled numerous cases already, even though many of them were completed with assistance from his peers, there were still many missing-persons cases, ordered surveillance, and research to be had.

 

But what he had found was that no matter what, there were always footprints in the form of a paper trail, even if it was scattered or incomplete, it was always there, connected like a nigh-invisible spiderweb's thread, dangling and waiting to be encountered by some chance.

 

And he had found it. Taehyung's hands shook as he read over the documentations. Notations on oddities around the property, the fact that the pack had already been "closely monitored" for the last decade. The signs were pointing to yes, and they finally had the right pieces.

 

The Mori pack, legally speaking, consisted of just six wolves. It was a small but extremely close-knitted pack, which had already made a name for itself in whispers along policemen's desks and noted with a shake of the head from a few judges who had witnessed the original cases. About twenty years prior, the lead Alpha of the Mori pack had been accused of kidnapping and illegal confinement of two unpresented wolves on separate occasions. He had been arrested, and properly incarcerated, then let out just a few years into his sentence on parole and placed on a predator wolf listing, which was readily available in Taehyung's records. While probation officers had checked in on him regularly, and he had checked every necessary box required, wore the GPS-system, and done all that was asked of him, there had been some strange and suspicious happenings around his house.

 

Someone had called the police department about three years after his release, reporting that there was someone living in the Mori pack's backyard in a tent. They reported a child, who had spoken to them and indicated that he lived there with the family. When parole officers appeared at the door to question, there was no mention in their report of having entered or inspected the residence, and they had simply warned the Mori lead Alpha of the locale ordinances about people living outside of his house. The Mori's lead Alpha, John, had said his sister's kid was staying with them for the month and that he liked to pretend he was camping out in the back. It had been brushed aside.

 

"They should have checked," Taehyung hissed, scrolling the lengthy document. "It's even confirmed here in his file that John didn't have any siblings. Stupid."

 

A couple of years later, long after the tent incident, there had been a muddled-up report of a young teen breaking his arm and getting it reset. They had paid in cash, it had not been added to John's records, and it seemed most of the paperwork had mysteriously just vanished. Taehyung suspected that was no accident, as John seemed very good at keeping his traces off others' documentations for the most part, taking advantage of the lack of synchronized network systems from years past. Taehyung sighed.

 

There had also been one reported sighting of a young boy who matched the description of a missing child's case, for Jeon Dongsoo. The boy had allegedly been missing for about five years, and was at a gas station with an older man who matched the description of John Mori. According to the anonymous phone report, the boy was staring, transfixed, at his own missing child poster, and then had gotten back into a yellow truck before they had driven off. Since there had been no name, no license plate number, and neither the duo nor the anonymous reporter had been there upon the police's arrival, nothing further had been done.

 

"Jeon Dongsoo..." Taehyung breathed. "It really could be him. But where is he now?"

 

It should have been a simple case of getting a warrant to search the Mori residence, but it was very possible, especially given that Taehyung knew that there had been some complications around the Rising Gods clan in regards to the location of Jungkook's brother, that he very possibly could have been moved off-site. To investigate without knowing for sure could mean a total shutdown of the case. He needed to move carefully.

 

A gurgling sound interrupted his thoughts, and Taeyeon was clambering up Taehyung's knee, trying to climb into his lap in order to be closer to him. Jeon Dongsoo had been about eleven years old when he had gone missing. Taehyung reached down and scooped his daughter into his arms, holding her close and tightly, and kissing her head while she wriggled and gave giddy little squeals to indicate her happiness. He couldn't even imagine what that would have been like, to go through.

 

Taehyung continued to scroll through the document, not even able to hear someone coming down into the kitchen, who greeted him cheerfully. It wasn't until the figure sat down next to him with a bowl of cereal that he realized it was Jungkook, looking better than he had in days, sitting next to Taehyung and turning cartoons onto the television.

 

One of the reasons Taehyung had been allowed to continue the cold case investigation of one such John Mori was due to a strange report from one of the pack’s neighbors. Taehyung had taken the case, and then noticed that the report had been on the same night as Jungkook's date with Seokjin, where they had spotted Jungkook's brother.

 

The report from one of the neighbor ladies was that the Mori pack had had a lot of snarls, fighting, and noise at approximately 10:28 p.m. She had noted the hour due to the television show she had been watching (some old black and white show that Taehyung had never seen, but had heard of), and she had gone outside to yell at them to wind it down, or to see if someone was being robbed. She mentioned to the police that she had turned on her porch light, which shone right down into the Mori driveway, which is why she had been able to see them all easily. Three of the pack members had been wrestling with a fourth. At first, she had assumed they were merely horsing around with each other, young and wild wolves at play. She had gone back inside and left them to their playing, continuing her relaxation time.

 

About a week later, her Mate had been sitting at the table, reading the newspaper, and she slipped aside the free inserts for missing children. Many of them had been from a few weeks ago, and a few were from years or even decades prior. When the lady had sat down for breakfast, she spotted one which had a digitally-aged photograph of a young boy who had been missing since he was eleven years old, now a young adult man. She nearly choked on her coffee, realizing the digitally-enhanced photo bore a striking resemblance to the man she had seen with the neighbor wolves  a week before. She had called the police very quickly thereafter, and given her report, as well as her name, the date of the sighting, the clothes the young man had been wearing, and everything.

 

Had it really been Jeon Dongsoo? Was he still there, hidden somewhere in the Mori household?

 

The police had gone to investigate the house, naturally, but had found nothing at all out of the ordinary. After all, it had been a week since the sighting, there had been plenty of time to re-situate and remove any telling evidence. Taehyung was painfully aware that John Mori was used to having authorities arrive on his property. There definitely had to be something telling, it had just been overlooked.

 

He just needed to slip up again, just one more time, and Taehyung would be on him like a cat on a rat, devouring him whole and leaving no trace of him behind in the outside world if at all possible. He wanted John Mori put away, locked up, and paying for his crimes. Every time he thought of it, a rising heat of anger flushed through him, as it did so now, and this made Jungkook look over in curiosity as he sensed the Beta's wordless fury.

 

Taehyung wanted so badly to tell Jungkook, but he dreaded giving the Omega another dead-end, when he needed anything but dead-ends. He had the suspicion that another slip-up from their primary suspect would be soon, and that was why he had asked his partner at the police office to keep going through any possible leads, any suspected connections to John Mori. When he filed for a warrant, he wanted it to be rock-solid. He wanted there to be no question as to Mori's guilt.

 

For the time being, patience was required. He needed to stay level-headed, and quiet about everything, until the time was right. He knew that if anyone at the police station knew that Taehyung was living with a potential victim of John Mori's vile actions over the decades, they would have pulled him off the case immediately, so discretion was of the utmost importance. He could only feign ignorance for now, careful what he was using his work-issued laptop to search for, using the blind eye given to him from the station due to his current status of being on family-leave and only working part-time.

 

"Do you want some cereal, Tae?" Jungkook asked, tilting his head at the Beta, still smelling the frustration on him. He held out his bowl, to offer a bite, and Taehyung smiled before shaking his head.

 

"I'm just tired, the twins have been restless lately."

 

Jungkook nodded, a somber look on his face as he looked down at Taeyeon, who was trying to crawl under the coffee table. Taehyung's hand automatically shot out, cupping around the baby's forehead so she couldn't bang it against the underside corner of the tabletop. Unawares, Taeyeon continued to crawl under the table, her onesie-covered little feet dragging behind her sweetly as her body wriggled back and forth in the motion.

 

The Omega stared at the baby for a long moment, a bittersweet smile on his face. Taehyung, knowing the look, having worn it himself a long time ago, reached out and wrapped his arm around Jungkook's shoulder. There had always been a bit of a deeper understanding between the two young wolves, having grown up in Bangtan pack in a sense It was a comfort to Taehyung, although he wasn't sure he was as good at expressing that appreciation as Jungkook was at times. They had spoken on several occasions about having pups one day, and Jungkook had quietly been there to distract him on the harder days of trying to get pregnant before. Now it was Taehyung's turn to encourage Jungkook to not give up. No one in the pack knew better than he what it was like to go through a miscarriage.

 

"It's worth it," Taehyung quietly murmured, not needing to explain his meaning to the young Omega.

 

"She's so beautiful," Jungkook sighed.

 

Taehyung hummed in agreement, and they watched Taeyeon pull herself out from under the table, using it as an obstacle in her endless racetrack around the living room. She was getting so much bigger now. Of course Joonhee was, too. Naiara was going to be going to starting school in just a couple more years, and Kwangie soon behind her, then the twins. The pack had grown in a short time from six to eight when himself and Seokjin had moved in, and then from eight to twelve. Would Jungkook and Seokjin be adding that thirteenth to the pack someday soon?

 

He hoped so. And maybe even a fourteenth, if Taehyung was successful in his efforts to free Jungkook's brother.

 

The Beta squeezed Jungkook's shoulder in reassurance, and then he heard a baby cry upstairs. Although the twins were often comforting to each other, Taehyung had noticed they did not like to be kept apart for very long. He wondered if that would be a problem later, or if they would grow out of it.

 

"Want me to watch Taeyeon while you go?" Jungkook offered.

 

Taehyung made a contemplative humming sound for a moment. He had been avoiding asking Jungkook to take care of the babies any more than absolutely necessary, knowing how frustrating it could be. But he supposed, since Jungkook had offered of his own volition...

 

"I'll be right back, I promise," he said, clambering to his feet before heading up the stairs. The rush was unnecessary, though, as Jimin was already standing there, hair mussed into all gravity-defying directions and a sniffling Joonhee on his chest. Taehyung paused in the doorway, smiling at his Mate and crossing his arms.

 

"You left her alone," Jimin pouted, meeting Taehyung's eyes, a sleepy tease in his gruff voice. "How could you?"

 

"She was fine, just laying there quietly. I guess she just got a little lonely for her sister." He held out his arms to take Joonhee, but Jimin brushed past him, heading down the stairs. Taehyung followed soon after, and they both found Jungkook in the living room, laying on his belly and watching Taeyeon's face as the baby kicked her arms and legs in a quiet celebration of life. Eventually, she drew her appendages in and pushed her little body up onto her hands and knees again, and balanced herself enough to reach one hand out to grip harshly at her uncle's nose, squeezing the sizeable facial feature before giving an open-mouthed smile in delight. Jungkook made an exaggerated "Ow!" noise, making the baby giggle.

 

Jimin set Joonhee down on the floor, the baby instantly wriggling off to join her sister, dropping to her stomach to free up her hand to grip at Taeyeon's leg, tugging on her footsie and pulling the fabric loose around her small and delicate foot. Jungkook giggled back at the babies, enjoying their gurgling noises even as Taehyung was sure the Omega’s heart was aching. He watched Jimin go into the kitchen, presumably to make them breakfast, and he sat back down in front of the coffee table, to return to cleaning up and finishing his teammates' reports while he was at home relaxing with his family.

 

The right time would come to tell, he knew. But it wasn't time yet. He hoped Jungkook would understand.

 

Wait a little longer for us, Dongsoo. I promise we will come for you.

 

~~~~~

 

Seokjin came home from work that night full of weariness and a need for his Mate. He stumbled into the darkness of the living room, once again arriving at an ungodly hour. His shoes were promptly and lazily kicked off at the door, joining the half-hearted line-up of the other shoes. Jungkook was still awake, quietly sitting under the table and watching some video with people talking very fast. Seokjin dragged his feet across the kitchen floor, dropping his bags on the table as Jungkook's hand moved their under-table curtain aside, glancing up at the Alpha.

 

"Hard day?" Jungkook queried.

 

In response, the Alpha grunted and then let out a long, mournful groan. Wordlessly, he yanked off his socks, dropped them in the middle of the floor, slipped off his pants and shirt and left them on the back one of the chairs, leaving him in just his underwear, and climbed under the table with Jungkook. The Omega gave out a giggle as his Mate flopped haphazardly on top of him, grunting as he ended up pinning Jungkook to the ground.

 

"You're squishing me," Jungkook complained, pushing Seokjin until he could wriggle out from under him. Seokjin still remained with his head into Jungkook's shoulder, his deep breathing the biggest signal that the man was still awake. Then, a deep yawn tore through the Alpha, drawn out and full of various notes of weariness. Jungkook ran a hand through Seokjin's hair, trying to relax him. The Scent of soap mingled with that of saltwater and leather, and the Omega's Scent wrapped all around them like a protective and familiar blanket. It took several long minutes before Seokjin seemed to have truly calmed down from his walled-in silence, and he finally lifted his head from Jungkook and gave him a little kiss on the cheek.

 

"People are stupid, and the thing is, even if you come in to a hospital, you can't cure stupid ," he sighed.

 

"Yeah," Jungkook hummed, not knowing the context but picking up on Seokjin's need for support at the moment. "You want me to get you some water?"

 

"No, that would mean you have to get up," Seokjin whined. "And I don't want you to go." As if to emphasize his point, Seokjin once again wrapped himself all around the Omega, like he was a spider, and rendered Jungkook incapable of moving.

 

"You're so clingy for being so tired. C'mon, some water will help." Seokjin let out a dramatic sigh, relinquishing his grasp on Jungkook enough so that he could crawl out from under the table. It was only a few seconds for Jungkook to retrieve a cup, fill it with water, and then return, but Seokjin was tired and impatient for the time being, and he drank the water in one go dutifully before they curled back up together under the table. He wouldn't say it aloud, but he kind of liked it when he was being crabby or playfully irritable and Jungkook would nudge him or be the calmer, patient one. It was endearing, but also reassuring in a lot of ways, as well.

 

A bit of Seokjin's heart ached as he thought back to Jae, and how different things had once been. He enjoyed every day of Jungkook's playful bickering, of his teasing remarks, of his gentle reminders, and the little things he did without thinking about it that signaled the love they had and the respect they bore for each other. It seemed silly to say aloud, since he knew Jungkook would blow it off and laugh that it was "just some fucking water, Jinnie" but the feeling was there, all the same. He drew Jungkook in close to him, grateful for their closeness now after all the hardships thus far, and he sighed.

 

Seokjin fully intended on going right to sleep immediately after that, but interestingly enough, Jungkook did not. He rolled over away from Seokjin, keeping his phone off but with the sound muted, and continued watching videos. Seokjin, who was already quite a light sleeper, opened one tired and heavy eyelid to peer over Jungkook's shoulder, curious. He couldn't quite see the whole screen, but a young woman was standing in front of the camera, talking.

 

"Koooooo..." he whined. "Go to sleep ."

 

"Just let me finish this video," Jungkook brushed him off with the wave of a hand. Seokjin quieted, then, partially because Jungkook had turned the captions on due to the sound being muted, and Seokjin could see what the lady was talking about. She was discussing the experiences of miscarriages and talking in encouraging words about future attempts. Demurely, Seokjin wrapped an arm around Jungkook, squeezing him for a moment before he buried his nose in the Omega's shoulder.

 

He knew their time would come. And he knew Jungkook wanted to try again. But he was terrified, of Jungkook's heart breaking again, and of them going through the same thing. He knew it was irrational, but he also knew that it was very likely one of the reasons he had been hesitant to go beyond cuddles or kisses with Jungkook for some time.

 

Maybe soon, Jungkook would be ready.

 

"By the way," Jungkook whispered, interrupting Seokjin's thoughts. "Yoongi ate ketchup with his eggs this morning." 

 

Seokjin blinked, confused. "What? Is that supposed to mean something?" 

 

Jungkook waited a moment, and then paused his video, looking over his shoulder. "Yoongi eats ketchup with his eggs only when he's feeling nauseated. The last time he did that was when he got pregnant with Kwangie." 

 

The Alpha let out a soft " Ooh " before pulling Jungkook more closely to him, until the Omega's shoulder was tightly up against Seokjin's chest. "Do you think?" 

 

"Well, they said a while back they had been trying," Jungkook murmured quietly. The sigh that Seokjin felt between his arms seemed a little shaky, and he wondered if the subject had been hard to bring up, or hard to say out loud for Jungkook. "I wouldn't be surprised if they were expecting again." 

 

"It's quite soon though," Seokjin shrugged. "Too early to tell. So it's best to just wait and see." 

 

Jungkook gave a little nod, but the pang was there all the same, constantly under every topic of conversation, inescapable. Seokjin leaned in and kissed Jungkook's neck.

 

"You belong with me," Seokjin whispered, and Jungkook whispered it back, a gentle mantra for two souls that were healing, that were moving forward into a dimly-lit unknown.

 

Jungkook reached over and took Seokjin's hand in his, biting his bottom lip in the darkness to withhold the churning sea of emotions inside of him. He would need to sit down with Seokjin tomorrow, Jungkook had decided. After he had slept, when he had a bit of time off from work. It was too late in the night now, although Jungkook was feeling restless already and wanted more than anything to jump onto the conversation full-throttle right away. But he needed to be patient.

 

He squeezed Seokjin's hand in his own, and gradually, they fell asleep that way.

 

When they woke up the next morning, Jimin was in the kitchen sighing and complaining about the way Seokjin had thrown his clothes about, and Jungkook glanced over sleepily to see his Mate with his eyes shut, but a disgruntled furrow to his brow that suggested his sleep had been too-quickly interrupted. Jungkook glanced at his phone, seeing that it wasn't even eight in the morning. Seokjin grunted, not even liking the slightest movement of Jungkook in his arms. The Omega rolled over a bit, however, and touched Seokjin's cheek.

 

"Should we move into the bedroom?" he whispered to his Mate, who opened one eye blearily, then promptly shut it again.

 

"I slept in my contacts," he complained.

 

"I know, you always do it and then you always whine about it," Jungkook said quietly with a chuckle. "Let's move to the bedroom so you can sleep some more, okay?" Seokjin grunted in response, not having much energy or patience to do much else, and moved past Jungkook like a zombie to their bedroom, removed his contacts clumsily, then flopped onto the cool sheets and immediately continued to snore. The Omega chuckled, sending Jimin a little grin as he gathered up their things from the kitchen and disappeared into the bedroom as well. The room was just near the stairs, so sometimes it could be a bit noisy, but it was quieter than many places in the house, and certainly much darker. When Jungkook closed the door and shut off the light, despite the early and bright hour, they were cast back into total night-like darkness. He crawled into the bed next to Seokjin, leaving the pile of clothes at the foot of the bed.

 

Jungkook lay awake for a long time, listening to the distant sounds of the family waking up and starting their days as the hours continued and the morning turned late. And Jungkook thought about talking to Seokjin, and he thought about Jae, and he thought about his brother, and he thought about names that ran through his head, and birthrights, and fate.

 

Chapter Text

Running, running.

 

The leaves brushed past Jungkook's fur, a branch slashing against his black-colored ear as the foliage threatened to reach out and snatch him away. His breath came in ragged gasps, as he ran.

 

He could not remember what he was running for, but he felt all the fear and dread that chased at his heels, causing him to trip more than once as he dashed across brook, over hill, round bushes, and beyond trees.

 

Running, running.

 

He could not stop. He could not look behind.

 

Jungkook knew somehow that time was running out, that he needed to get to wherever he was going as fast as he could, although he did not know why.

 

He heard a baby's cry, somewhere in the darkness, and his ears perked up in attentiveness.

 

A name rested against his tongue, one that he knew but which was utterly foreign to him. It branded itself on his heart, and he felt warmth and a love in his chest that he had never felt for anybody in the world before, not even for Seokjin. It was a deep and bone-stirring love that made him ache for its depth and purity, and he ran faster despite the cramping pangs in his muscles that tried to drag him down.

 

He had to get to the baby, he knew that. The child was waiting for him, somewhere in the darkness, waiting for him to call out the name.

 

"Jungkook!" came a voice, and he wanted to turn, wanted to follow it, but he had to keep running. The baby was waiting for him, just out there, in the reaches of his mind.

 

"Jungkook, wake up!"

 

The morning light spilled in through the window, and Jungkook was lying on the couch, with Seokjin leaning over him, frowning down at him in concern. He had fallen asleep sometime late that morning, as the two of them as curled around each other on the couch, making jokes about the dishes and laying kisses on each others’ necks. He had wriggled underneath their blanket together, and he supposed he must have just… drifted off to sleep in the comfort of his Mate’s arms on a rare afternoon where they could spend time together.

 

"Jin?"

 

Seokjin allowed Jungkook to sit up from his place on the couch, and he was surprised by the brightness in the room. There was no one else around, and Seokjin was holding onto his hand tightly. "You were having some kind of nightmare. Are you okay?"

 

"Yeah," he rubbed at his head, still a bit disoriented. There had been something very urgent and important in his dream, but he couldn't quite remember it, now that he had awoken...

 

"Your work called," Seokjin continued. "Said they'd like you to come in as soon as you can. They said that your patrol floor is all needed? I'm not sure what it was about, they wouldn’t give any details."

 

"I'll get up and head out in a moment, then," the Omega frowned, looking around the room, as if hoping for some clue amongst the scattered baby toys and the video game controllers.

 

“Are you okay?” Seokjin pressed, confused at the look on his Mate’s face.

 

“Hm? Yeah, of course. I’m just a bit shaken I guess.” Jungkook hesitated a moment. “Could you get me some water?”

 

Seokjin hesitated, as though suspicious of the request, but then he stood up and went to get Jungkook a glass of water. While he was gone, Jungkook stared off into the distance. He felt a wave of nausea hit him, and it felt like a punctuation mark on an exclamation he had not yet spoken. Was it too soon to hope? But the signs were there.  He raised a single hand, laying it across his stomach.

 

And that was when he felt it. To call it a physical sensation was too limiting a thing, to call it spiritual felt somehow very obtuse. But felt it, Jungkook did nonetheless. He looked up, eyes sparkling and welling up with tears, and he smiled.

 

"Sooyeon."

 

Seokjin poked his head back into the living room, two plastic cups (both the children's cups, with Disney princesses on them) of water in each hand. "What's that?"

 

Jungkook blinked away the tears that had been threatening to fall, but the soft, blissful smile remained. "Nothing," he said, reaching up for the cup. "Thank you."

 

His Mate sat down next to him, and he drank his water, the nausea eventually passing. Quietly, Jungkook rose and went to change into his uniform, buttoning up the last few buttons before he looked up and sent Seokjin a little smile. The Alpha was watching him closely, and gave a soft smile of his own before whining playfully and demanding a goodbye kiss.

 

Jungkook ended up not talking to him about his revelation, or the suspicions he felt deep in his chest. He couldn't do that to Seokjin again, not until he was absolutely, positively sure that everything was okay. Now dressed for his patrol, he popped his head into the kitchen and waved goodbye to Yoongi and Hoseok, who were debating with their toddler over eating another bite of his dinner, a huge mess all over the table, and left.

 

When he arrived, he saw the lieutenant in deep conversation with a couple of people over in one corner of his office, including none other than Taehyung. He supposed he should not have been so surprised at this, given that Taehyung had been handling some apparently very sensitive cases lately. But it was still always a bit strange to see the worlds overlapping. Taehyung was standing beside the lieutenant's desk, a concerned look on his face as he gesticulated quite dramatically toward a laptop screen. He did not see Jungkook, who tried to meet his eye to give a small wave. When he saw that he was unnoticed, Jungkook turned to find Sergeant Middleton waving him over.

 

The assignment was a simple one. An older lady had called in, complaining of a break-in, in a fairly mixed neighborhood of half-formed packs and less fortunate clans. They had already sent preliminaries out, and they were investigating the house, but she had directly accused her neighbor of being at fault, and had given  a long slew of confusing claims about the goings-on of her neighbors as of late. They had signed off on a warrant for a search, mostly based on the fact that she was missing some valuable objects, including some kitchen knives, and they were sending in reinforcements to search the neighbor's house.

 

It would have been a simple task, Jungkook thought back to later, as he checked his gun in its holster for the nth time. It would have been a straightforward mission for him, he realized.

 

"This guy's apparently a real freak," one of the other officers was saying, chuckling darkly. "We've been trying to get him on something for forever now."

 

They pulled up to the house, which had been sectioned off by the police who had arrived before them already, and Jungkook felt a sense of dread tear through him. The 'house' looked fairly decrepit, although it appeared as though it had once been quaint, with little baby blue shuttered windows and a short wooden porch. There were blocked off areas in the yard where flowers had once been grown, but the ground was dead and buried beneath leaves and damp now. The paint chipped off the siding and one of the shutters had broken loose and been neglected. But more than anything, there was a chill in Jungkook's bones, as though this house was particularly significant, and particularly dangerous. 

 

They piled on out, and Jungkook was listening intently to orders as they arranged themselves nearby. Three officers went up to the door, while Jungkook waited in a bush outside. He glanced down at the wet earth beneath him, checking how well his footing was, and he saw something half-buried. A little toy ring, red and cheap-looking, with a star shape on top. He stared at it, confused at the deja vu he was feeling, but then the knock at the door resounded, and the order was shouted out, Sergeant Middleton stepping forward from among the officers, stating that they had a warrant.

 

The front door opened, and a vague shape of a man was visible in the twilight beyond the screen door. Jungkook leaned in, trying to see him a bit clearer. The voice was gravelly, like rough jagged edges being drawn across stone, and he seemed none-too-pleased at the interruption to his alleged dinner. Jungkook pressed his lips together, feeling a familiar thrill of the moment, a nervous mingle of excitement and fear before they would likely have to spring into action. It was always hoped that the backup would not need to be called in, that they would come quietly or nothing would come of the investigation. But Jungkook felt it in his gut that this would not likely be the case. He glanced across the walkway to another officer, who was stationed very near him, and glanced his way as a silent check. The man inside the house raised his voice, demanding for a lawyer, demanding for them to get the fuck off his lawn. He could hear the sounds of shuffling feet on the creaky boards of the porch as the man cried out with a half-wild growl, and as one, his unit raised up over their cover, aiming their guns instantly at the male Alpha who was trying to slap away the officers at his door.

 

"John Mori," the sergeant explained calmly, "We have a search warrant which--"

 

"I don't give a flying fuck about your warrant!" the man shouted, suddenly raising his hand as though to elbow the sergea in front of him. Before his blow could land, the accompanying two officers reached out to restrain him. He shifted, turning into a raging wolf of worn fur and gnarled teeth, a strange limp to one paw as he snarled and snapped at their heels. One of the officers shifted as well, and with Jungkook and the rest still waiting with their guns cocked, they scuffled, and eventually managed to subdue the man.

 

"We got him," called one of the officers, gesturing. "Take him to car. Quickly."

 

The man shifted back into human form, fighting  in his bonds uselessly as they dragged him down the path. He passed by Jungkook, who was still dutifully following him with the line of his weapon, when the man started spouting the most nonsensical blabber. He didn’t seem to even see the Omega officer.

 

"Twenty-two and three!" He screeched. "Goddamn nuisances and pureblood my ass! I get paid well! You'll fucking see! He's mine, you fuckers! You’ll get absolutely nothing on me!"

 

Jungkook felt his entire body tense internally from the man's rage, just being within earshot of it. There was something unsettling about his very voice, his very being. The man was an Alpha, but he reeked of pain and disgust. He was dragged beyond Jungkook and placed in a car for safe-keeping, but behind him, he heard the sergeant at the door shout, "Oh my god. Get some men in here. Now ! "

 

He moved fast, jumping up from his position and rushing into the house. They flooded into the front door, where a small and musty-smelling hallway met them. They rushed past  the line-up of messy shoes by the door, and Jungkook was surprised to find the house seemingly deserted.

 

He saw his sergeant listening in on the scratchy tones of his walkie-talkie, his face crumpled in stress. When he saw Jungkook glancing his way, he gestured roughly with one arm, returning to his current occupation. Jungkook moved past, finding a dining room littered with the smell of feces and decay. There were rain-ruined boxes and plastic garbage bags all over, and he did not look forward to investigating what was in those bags.

 

"We're looking for a hostage!" the sergeant yelled. "Search everywhere!"

 

Jungkook felt his heart race. The house felt so wrong , every natural instinct telling him to run away, but his job was to fight that instinct and stay here, to find the hostage and help them.

 

The kitchen was an atrocity. It smelled of mildew, the ground looked an unpleasant shade of grey-brown, and he could tell from the lack of electrical hum and the stench that the refrigerator had not been working for some time. There was no light on the stove, and it looked like someone had slammed a fist into the glass display of it. Jungkook continued back through the house, walking into a side room that almost looked like a child's playroom. On his way in, he passed an officer (his partner out on patrol, an Alpha named Benny Kang) who gave him a brief glance and said, "Nothing."

 

He could have dismissed it, he thought back later. He could have just trusted in the cursory glance his peer had made and left the playroom. But he stayed, and he looked. He was confused, feeling a rise of goosebumps on his arms as he looked around the room, slowly turning in place. The broken shelf along the wall that had been turned upside down and leaned over to make it more stable. The ripped teddy bear. The windows that were too high for a child to look out of. The ugly faded wallpaper. The books that missed their front covers.

 

It was familiar.

 

Jungkook realized with horror that he may have stood in this exact room before. He felt a deep nausea sink into him, eyes wide, as he continued to turn. There was something missing, something he couldn't remember...

 

Someone was calling his name, but he couldn't hear them. He continued looking. He holstered his gun, freeing his hands as he started to throw the toys about, pushing garbage bags and curious piles of dirt out of his way, finding blankets that covered the floor like gross rugs.

 

He felt his heart beating wildly in his chest. His hands found the easily-missed hole in the floorboards before his eyes found it, a splinter digging into his thumb as he fussed to clear away the debris, pulling aside a thick weighted blanket with the image of a tiger on it in brown and grey hues. Revealing the trapdoor.

 

"Oh my god... Sergeant, get in here!" Kang screeched over his shoulder, before coming in to help Jungkook. They lifted the trapdoor as the sergeant entered the playroom, and he rushed over to help as well. It was heavier than he expected, and it opened down into pure darkness. Jungkook felt his resolve shiver at the core, although he could not show it on his face. He had to be strong.

 

Jungkook didn't want to go down there. He felt his knees weaken, even as they all started down the ladder, flashlights flickering around wildly in their hands as they gripped the metal which seemed to ooze something in a rusty brown color.

 

When he landed on the ground, it was soft and uneven, and Jungkook hesitated to turn around. But he did. And when he did, the flashlights were finding their way to strange shapes on the other size of the room, and there was an odd shuffling, and a clink of metal.

 

And Jungkook's soul cried out in a piercing sound.

Chapter Text

The next few minutes were a whirl of craziness for Jungkook. He heard the sergeant calling in for EMS immediately, declaring that this search warrant had now turned into a crime scene, that Detective Kim had been right with his suspicions. Jungkook was in a daze, meeting his brother's eyes for a long moment. It was against protocol, it was a bad idea, he knew, but Jungkook moved forward, causing the other officers around him to start in a lightning-fast reaction, but he leapt forward and threw his arms around his brother, tears coming to his eyes suddenly as he squeezed him.

 

"I've got you now," he whispered, feeling solid and large against the thin and shivering frame of Jeon Dongsoo. "You're going to be alright now."

 

"Jeon-Kim!" the sergeant interrupted, concern in his voice at Jungkook's reaction.

 

Still holding onto Dongsoo as one of the other officers were fussing with the shackles, Jungkook looked to his superior, explaining, "This is my brother, Sergeant. I..."

 

"Understood," came the brusque reply. The sergeant swept one hand toward the rest of the area, which seemed to be a very small and hand-dug hole of pure dirt beneath the house. He turned to one of the officers, saying, "Sweep the rest of the area, we need an all-clear." The officer nodded, triple checking the small area for any dark corners or extra tunnels, and finding it empty, he shot back up the ladder to further the search. The sergeant then knelt at Jungkook's side, lowering his voice to speak as gently as possible, directing his question to Dongsoo. "Hey...are there any others? Do you know of anyone else who would be in the house?"

 

Dongsoo, eyes wide, cheeks sunken in and with deep bruises across the apples of his cheeks, looked at the sergeant, then shook his head slowly. "Not anymore."

 

The sergeant's eyes darkened with understanding, and then to Jungkook he said, "Officer Jeon-Kim, we have to wait for the all-clear, then we can get him upstairs and have EMS check him over. We wanna make sure he's safe and sound. Understood?" When Jungkook merely nodded, the sergeant gave him a more hardened look, and then said, "Are you good, officer?"

 

"Yes, sir," Jungkook said, making his voice as firm as possible.

 

"Understood. Let's get him upstairs as soon as we can."

 

In the span of just a few minutes, the house had been searched, and an all-clear was given. It was odd that other than John Mori himself, and his captive, there had been no others in the house at the time. Jungkook gingerly helped his brother up the ladder, going slowly. By the time they reached the front door, EMS was already there, and they swept Dongsoo away with them. Worry crept up Jungkook's throat as Dongsoo was taken from his arms, and he watched sadly as they led him down the walk.

 

"Dongsoo!" he called out, rushing over to him. "I'll come see you as soon as I can, okay?"

 

His brother, although taller than him, seemed so much smaller than he in stature, but he gave a nod, and his eyes, so much like Jungkook's, gave a shimmer.

 

"Jungkook," came a voice, and he turned to see Taehyung entering the yard. His face was grim, and he embraced Jungkook for a brief moment. "We've finally got him, Kook. He's made all the wrong moves and now we have Dongsoo and we'll likely have his testimony before the end of the day."

 

Jungkook knew he had things he needed to do. Duties he had to perform. But there was something about the steady way Taehyung had declared it that had Jungkook's knees crumpling. He fell onto the damp grass, and felt people rushing in around him in concern. Taehyung held his shoulders and kept asking if he was alright.

 

Nausea swept over him quite suddenly, like a grey heat that slammed through him, and he leaned over and vomited into the bushes with Taehyung at his side.

 

The sergeant's voice came booming back into play, and then he was kneeling beside Jungkook, also asking for a response. At last, Jungkook managed to mumble out that he would be okay, but the sergeant soon was walking him to his car, an arm around Jungkook's shoulders. With a firm hand he sat Jungkook down in the passenger seat, crawling into the driver's side himself and offering a bottle of water from the glove compartment. Jungkook accepted it gratefully, sipping at it to get the horrible taste out of his mouth.

 

They sat in silence as Taehyung and the entire team of crime scene investigators swept into the house, as if they were a hunting crew set loose upon a great feast. Armload after armload of items were tagged, bagged, and brought out of the house, and from the sergeant's car, Jungkook could see the endless flash of multiple cameras. The sergeant said nothing for a long time, as if he could hear the rapid beating of Jungkook's heart and was waiting for it to calm down.

 

"It's dreadful," he said at last, as Jungkook began to wonder what was coming next. The sergeant sighed, then spoke as if he was reading off a data sheet. "Officer Jeon-Kim. A relatively green newbie. Already took off leave last month due to medical reasons, due to miscarriage. Amnesia noted on record but absolutely no psychological abnormalities to note. Name legally changed from Jeong to Jeon-Kim after your marriage, right?"

 

Jungkook was quiet. "The pound got my name wrong," he said gently. The sergeant nodded, not really asking any question.

 

"You've had a rough few weeks. You know the procedure here. Most likely your brother is going to be in the hospital for at least a few days. I expect that after this, there will be need for psychological aid." There was a long pause. "Any other family he can stay with?"

 

Jungkook was hesitant, then shook his head no. "Just me, I think."

 

The sergeant gave a nod of understanding. When was the last time you saw him?"

 

"Well, I saw him a few weeks ago, but I don't remember the last time I spoke to him. Probably not since I was a kid."

 

A sigh escaped the man, and a quiet, "Figures" was mumbled as well. "Listen, I want you both to sign up for some help after this, you got me? Don't be the tough guy here. He was in pretty bad shape down there, and I have no idea how you knew he was down there, but it's not my job to ask, really. But promise me you're going to talk to a professional about all of this, and don't make me order it for you. You hear?"

 

Jungkook nodded, feeling his chest ache. He took another drink of the water, and then said, "Thank you."

 

The sergeant nodded. "Take care of yourself, kid. I know you wanna stay out on the field, doing your part. Now go home and get some rest."

 

Again, Jungkook nodded. "Understood."

 

~~~~~

 

"Jungkook!" Seokjin called out, walking down the hallway of the hospital with flustered steps. Despite the circumstances, Jungkook couldn't help but be struck with how different Seokjin always looked when he was dressed for work, the coat buttoned neatly to the top and his shoes squeaking against the shining tile. He reached out and wrapped Jungkook up in a tight hug. "I heard they found your brother, he's being seen right now. What happened?"

 

The Omega gave a wry smile, looking up at his Mate. He had ridden over to the hospital as soon as he had gotten out of the sergeant's line of sight, and was now waiting to be allowed to see Dongsoo again.

 

"It was John Mori. He's been on parole for years for other crimes, but they haven't been able to keep him locked up. His neighbor lady called in, dispatch said she saw my brother and that he had robbed her of food and some kitchen knives. Taehyung's been investigating the case for ages now, and he found some links between Mori and a kidnapping from over years and years ago. He was presenting his findings when the neighbor called in, so luckily since the lady saw him we were able to get a search warrant. He's been put into custody for assaulting the sergeant, and then we were searching the house, and..." Jungkook stopped, his breath run out. He supposed he was still shaken up with being in the hole with Dongsoo, and seeing the conditions. "I found him. They had him in a trapdoor under the house. It was hidden, so the other searches couldn't find him before."

 

"Oh my god..." Seokjin shook his head. "I didn't get all the details since he's not my patient, but it sounds like he has some pretty severe lacerations, bruising, we may have a broken rib or two but they're waiting for x-rays right now. He's malnourished, too, so he'll be hooked up to an IV already. They won't be questioning him until he’s stable, and there's a nosy rep from Victim Services already hovering around, ready to attack anyone on his behalf. So they're mostly running tests and taking care of him right now."

 

"Good..." Jungkook sighed in relief.

 

Seokjin stared at Jungkook for a moment, looking into the expression on his face. "Are you okay? You smell off."

 

"Thanks," Jungkook scoffed with a roll of his eyes. But then more seriously he answered. "I may have had a mild experience of shock after they took him away. I was the one that found him."

 

The Alpha hummed in acknowledgement, giving Jungkook another tight hug. "I'll go get you a cup of coffee, although I can't guarantee it doesn't taste like shit, and I'll try to rouse up some details from the gossipy nurses and update you as soon as I can. You wait here and try to relax, okay?"

 

Jungkook smiled, "Thanks, Jinnie." He turned to go sit down, but then Seokjin gave a little quick whistle to get Jungkook's attention, a playful grin on his face.

 

"Just as an aside, you look like a snack in that uniform. You should wear it around the house more often... officer ."

 

That earned an actual snorting giggle from Jungkook, which considerably lessened the tight strands of stress that had been tightening in his chest since arriving at the scene that evening. "Bring your stethoscope home with you and we'll see what happens, Doctor Kim ."

 

"I'll bring the medical lube and you bring the handcuffs." He shot a couple of finger guns at his Omega, winking. Then, as he started to take a few steps backwards away from him, he mouthed silently, "I'm gonna make a baby with you , officer."

 

They both laughed, waving a brief and temporary goodbye as they turned their separate ways. Seokjin going to gather reassurance for Jungkook, and Jungkook gathering his mental strength around him once again.

 

Jungkook tried to take the time until Seokjin returned to really let the fact that he had finally found his brother sink in. He had found him, he had been removed from the danger, and he had held him in his arms. It was a relief, but in some way, it still didn't feel real. Jungkook had had half-remembered dreams about finding his brother, but now that he was here, with a name, with a face, with a presence, it didn't quite exist fully grounded in reality for Jungkook. He wondered, worriedly, if it ever would.

 

He was still deep within his wonderings when Seokjin came back around the corner, carrying two small paper cups of hot coffee and sitting next to him.

 

"They said he's stable," Seokjin said, making Jungkook sigh with relief. "We can go in and see him in a little bit."

 

"Thank god." Jungkook started to sip at his coffee, then felt the heat of it brush against his lips, and he decided to blow on it instead. "Do you think they'll let him come home with us?"

 

"Well, that will be up to what Victim Services decides is best for him, probably," Seokjin hesitated, then looked over at Jungkook. "I wasn't there, but… based on what he looks like, Jungkook, it may be awhile before it's safe for him to come home."

 

Jungkook finally braved sipping the coffee, and as expected, it burned at the top of his tongue and left a strange filmy feeling against the roof of his mouth, but he needed the warm liquid to wake him up. "I get that. But honestly... as his brother, I really feel like he should come home with me - with us - as soon as possible."

 

Seokjin nodded, but then said nothing, and they waited a few more minutes, before checking the time and standing up. "We should go check in, say hello before people start pushing in for questioning. You'll probs just have a few minutes, but it's something."

 

They walked down the hall together, Jungkook's steps trying to keep up with Seokjin's easy, quickened ones. He stared down at the bars of light reflecting off the polished floors, and heard the beep of monitors and the hum of voices around him. And that was when it started to sink in, when the reality hit him.

 

He had been reunited with his brother.

 

After all this time.

 

His palms were sweating profusely by the time they stepped into the room, and Seokjin confidently walked through the open door, greeting the nurse that was already in there. Jungkook knew conversation was going on around him, but he and Dongsoo's eyes met, and it was as if nothing else around them existed.

 

Dongsoo was probably only a few years older than Jungkook, but he looked much more worn, as though time had eaten away at him at a faster rate than most, and shriveled him up. He was tall, and too skinny, malnourished for god knew how long. He was much more cleaned up now, so the mud and blood and grime had been washed away, and his wounds had been mostly cleaned and bandaged properly. Through the thin hospital gown Jungkook could see that the wounds in his chest had been wrapped thickly, and he had an IV in which one of the nurses was tending to, and checking his vitals. His bed was angled up so that he was in an almost-proper sitting position, and he looked as though the bed was trying to swallow him up whole.

 

He felt Seokjin's hand on the small of his back, and the nurse stepped just outside the door for a moment to ask for something.

 

"Hey," Jungkook managed, realizing that they were waiting for him to speak first. He gestured demurely between them. "Seokjin...this is Dongsoo, my brother. Dongsoo, this is Seokjin, my Mate."

 

Dongsoo looked over at Seokjin, as though unsure what to think of him. Seokjin gave a gentle nod, and then nudged Jungkook to move closer. Gingerly, he stepped to Dongsoo's side.

 

"Are you...okay?" Jungkook said quietly. "Do you... remember who I am?"

 

It felt like an eternity in which Dongsoo stared up at Jungkook, and the Omega was starting to think that perhaps he didn't, that perhaps he misunderstood everything, when he realized that Dongsoo had tears welling up in his eyes.

 

"Of course I do," he said, voice crackling with misuse as well as emotion. "You're my baby brother."

 

In an instant, Dongsoo had reached out, wrapping his arms around Jungkook's waist and pulling him over the bed into a tight hug. Jungkook felt his ribs crack a little, and that made him giggle slightly, returning the hug as he felt his own eyes begin to sting.

 

"I was so scared I'd never see you again, dammit." Dongsoo sobbed into Jungkook's uniform. Jungkook squeezed him tighter, trying hard to maintain his balance as he was bent over the hospital bed awkwardly. Dongsoo's hair still smelled strange, but below the must and grime he could catch the smell of his Beta Scent, a mix of saltwater and fresh paint that stung his nostrils in a familiar way. He sighed, and held his brother tighter.

 

"Dongsoo..." Jungkook began slowly. "I'm afraid I don't remember much, from back then. I'm sorry. I always wanted to tell you I'm sorry for that, and I finally can."

 

Dongsoo's expression crumpled, then relaxed in realization. "On the last day, you fell."

 

"What?"

 

"You fell, that was why you got away. You jumped out of the car when I told you to and you fell."

 

Jungkook's eyes widened. "Why...why did you tell me to?"

 

"So you could get away." Dongsoo said quietly. "I knew I couldn't, even though I tried. They grabbed me before I could get out, but you got away, and it pissed them off. But you got away, which made me relieved." A long pause, and he looked up at Jungkook with sadness and worry in his eyes. "What happened to you, Jungkook? Where did you end up going?"

 

"It's a long story." Jungkook reached out, gently brushing aside his brother's hair from his face. He had a bit of a beard growing in strange patches, and his hair was long and had an odd but familiar wave to it that Jungkook's own hair did when he tried to grow it out. "But I ended up in a wonderful pack. One that's lovely and kind and safe. Dongsoo... If it's okay, I would like you to come live with us."

 

Dongsoo blinked, then glanced over at Seokjin, who was politely pretending to look at a generic painting on one of the walls, facing away from them. "I...I don't know..."

 

"It's safe, it's safe, Dongsoo, I promise. At least stay with us for awhile. I've already talked to our lead Alpha about it loads of times, and everyone is okay with it, we want you there. I've always wanted you there. We looked for you when you were with the Rising Gods, we tried to get to you, but you were gone before they got there."

 

This information seemed to rattle Dongsoo, who started stuttering in only half-discernible words. Seokjin looked over his shoulder in concern, quietly speaking directly to Dongsoo, but also to his Mate.

 

"There's no need to make a decision immediately, you can have some time to think about it, Dongsoo." He sent Dongsoo one of his gentlest smiles, then turned back to the painting, allowing Jungkook to meet Dongsoo's eyes. He looked scared, he looked unsure.

 

Jungkook knew how he felt. He knew exactly how he felt.

 

"I know, I know," he said, making shushing noises and hugging his brother again. He felt his throat tense up as another set of tears fell. "I know, Dongsoo. But it's me , it's Jungkook. I can take care of you now. You helped me get away, and now we're going to be okay." His voice dropped to a whisper. "I found you."

 

Dongsoo wept in his arms for a time, not saying anything but gripping at Jungkook's arms. They stayed that way until Dongsoo's sobs slowed, and he gradually calmed, letting out a small sound before non-verbally asking to Scent him. Jungkook tilted his head, allowing his brother to access his neck, and Dongsoo Scented him timidly, still sniffling from his tears intermittently, but obviously feeling more reassured. Jungkook waited patiently for him to finish, and then Scented him back, his nose barely brushing against the shaggy hair as he Scented him, breathing in deep and feeling a rush of deja vu as he smelled the saltwater that was like his own, and the paint that was unlike his own.

 

Due to this delicate process of beginning to refamiliarize each other, Dongsoo was much calmer and less anxious by the time the entourage that Seokjin had warned about arrived. Jungkook looked up in suspicion as a doctor he didn't know, a detective that Jungkook recognized as Taehyung's partner at the department, one of the police officers from Jungkook's squad and an unfamiliar lady entered the room. It was a lot of people at once, and Jungkook was still half-kneeling on the bed, so they looked at him in surprise as he squeezed Dongsoo's hand.

 

"Dr. Jeon-Kim?" the doctor said in surprise, looking over at Seokjin, who was sending a deceivingly relaxed smile. "What's this all about?"

 

"Ah, I was letting the family visit the patient for a moment," Seokjin said easily. "They have a lot to catch up on, after all."

 

The doctor sent him a look, which Jungkook took to be an unspoken moment of suspicion, and then Seokjin gestured toward the monitors.

 

"His heart rate has gone significantly down, he's become more verbal than was described an hour ago, and as you can see, he seems to be in a much calmer state. My professional opinion is that it would be a good idea to let the family remain, as long as there are no interruptions or distractions. Don't you think, Jungkook?"

 

"Where's Taehyung?" Jungkook asked the detective, who gave a bit of a grim smile.

 

"He was taken off the case from this point on, due to the circumstances. I'll be handling it from here, and I assure you, it will be well taken care of. I was working on the case alongside Taehyung the entire time.”

 

Jungkook frowned, but gave a slow nod of assent. Chairs were arranged around the room, and they were soon surrounded by the group of wolves, including Seokjin, who sat just behind Jungkook. 

 

“Dongsoo,” the detective said, leaning forward and offering the man a smile. “My name is Detective Bright, and this is Officer Julio. We’re going to be asking you some questions regarding John Mori. Your testimony will be invaluable regarding his case. But first, how are you feeling?”

Dongsoo swallowed, then laid his hands into his lap, staring down at them for a moment before he nodded. “I’m feeling… better.”

 

“Would it be okay if we ask you about your time with John Mori?”

 

Another nod.

 

The next hour and a half was a very long, difficult discussion, occasionally broken by tearful minutes of silence or drinks of water. He started with the days when they lived with their parents, Jungkook and himself. They were the Jeon family, from a long line of powerful wolves with much influence and much wealth. The pack was small but close-knit, and they were happy. One day, the two of them were out playing in the yard when a car pulled up close, a man and a woman in the front seat. 

 

They were kidnapped. Jungkook sat there, having no recollection of the events, not remembering the small details that Dongsoo related as though it were yesterday. The smell of the chemical used to subdue them. The feel of the leather backseat. The fact that they said nothing for the long drive away from their home. 

 

Mori kept them chained for the first few months, inside a room. The playroom he had prepared. They were kept on opposite sides of the room for awhile, but Jungkook was so small and cried so long for his brother that eventually they were moved closer together. 

 

It was ages before Dongsoo understood why they had been taken. It wasn’t until he heard about the raid on their family pack home years later that he knew for sure. 

 

The Rising Gods had strengthened in power and influence over the years, and had undermined the family blood of more than one pack. They weren’t the only ones eliminating other old packs, but they were some of the best. The rumors alone that the Omegas in the Jeon family were capable of additional powers was reason enough for them to wipe out an entire clan, starting with the distant relatives who had moved on into other packs, and moving to the heart of it, where Dungsoo’s and Jungkook’s parents resided. They were killed the same night that the boys went missing, and it had been covered up as some sort of a fire, based on what Dongsoo had learned from Mori.

 

So why had the two brothers been taken? Mori had arranged the kidnapping before the complete erasure of their bloodline, knowing that some richer clans would have paid top dollar for the secret behind their alleged skills. He had kept them for his own gain, and they were tortured and beaten, starved and neglected. When Mori’s Mate, a manipulative woman who fawned over their newly-acquired ‘brood,’ started to develop a soft spot for them, bringing them sweets or letting them out of their chains for periods of time when Mori wasn’t there, he got jealous and furious with her. He started to beat her when he discovered what she was doing. Dongsoo and Jungkook hid in the corner and watched, helpless to escape the moment. Dongsoo said that after Jungkook left, he didn’t see her anymore.

 

The day that Jungkook had escaped, Mori was taking them in to a doctor he knew who was easy to pay off, intending to get some blood tests done on them. It was suspected that the source of the abilities they would have later in life - the intense connection and communication that came with Bonding, the strength of their abilities as hunters, and many other rumored powers - were passed down in the family bloodline, something intrinsic in their make-up. And Mori was determined to figure it out, isolate it, and sell it to other packs who wanted to boost the power of their Omegas, strengthening their pack with the plethora of strategic opportunities that would be open to them with such a skill. 

 

But on the way there, Dongsoo had come up the idea of jumping out of the car. He had warned Jungkook that they needed to escape. Their hands were left unbound during the drive, and the door locks had been the old-fashioned kind with a sort of notch one could simply raise up.

 

Dongsoo made sure Jungkook got out of the car as they were driving down the freeway, unable to stop. He saw Jungkook roll out and tumble down a grassy hillside, a small and vanishing form. Mori had been pissed off, and Dongsoo was unable to follow his brother.

 

The rest of the story, on Dongsoo's side, was much more violent than the life Jungkook had experienced, as free as he was. They had tried to find Jungkook, but Mori had assumed the fall had killed him. Dongsoo had started to believe the same, especially when no police came to save him as well. There were one or two times when authorities had come to the house, but Dongsoo had no memory of these, as he was always drugged or hidden away.

 

He had had his blood drawn thousands of times, as Mori sold off the samples to different laboratories to isolate the key to Dongsoo's bloodline. Then, as the years went on, Mori cared less about finding the secret out, and more about selling Dongsoo off as soon as he had presented. The hope was that he would be an Omega, exemplary of the last of his family. Then, when he presented as Beta, his worth as a captive had plummeted, and Mori grew more violent, more bitter. Dongsoo stopped wanting to live, seeing no point in continuing on if the living nightmare was to stretch on for years, then decades, until the inevitably painful end.

 

But then... Jae had found Jeon Jungkook, lying in the woods, not only alive but presenting as an Omega. The information leaked back to the Rising Gods, and swiftly to John Mori, who realized that this was his last chance to isolate the Jeon secret. He offered up Dongsoo as bait for Jungkook's brother, and attempts were made to woo the young Omega into the Rising Gods pack, where he would then be traded off to Mori for experimentation. Dongsoo heard Mori make empty promises he never intended to keep, telling the Rising Gods that they would have exclusive access to the secrets in the Omega's blood.

 

Dongsoo knew then that once Jungkook was in Mori's grasp again, that his life would be over, and then Jungkook would be in more danger than Dongsoo ever was. He knew he had to escape, he had to hope that Jungkook wouldn't come back for him, that he would stay safe.

 

The Rising Gods kept him in a pit on the island, tormenting him from a distance as they mocked his misfortune. By that point, Dongsoo didn't care. He considered how to escape, and felt hopeless. If only his own life was not a temptation for his brother to lose his chance at freedom.

 

It was a dark night when the wolf named Jae came to the pit, and offered to help him escape. After the years he had spent as prisoner, at first Dongsoo fought, and snarled, fighting back in his wolf form defensively. But Jae kept insisting he needed to get away, and that they didn't have much time.

 

Dongsoo eventually escaped, with Jae's help, and left the island he was on as quickly as he could.

 

What had followed was a beautiful but difficult few months of freedom. The way Dongsoo described how he had got by on scraps and living as a lone wolf reminded Jungkook of the years he had spent on the streets, homeless and utterly alone. Eventually, though, Mori heard word of him, and sent an entire fleet of wolves out to hunt him down.

 

Perhaps it would have been better if Dongsoo had run much further away, safely out of Mori's reach. But he had wanted to find Jungkook. A couple of sightings at the grocery store, seeing him a few times driving past on the street, vanishing before Dongsoo could call out to him, seeing him out to dinner. Jungkook's heart clenched as he realized there had not just been the one time he had seen him, there had been many times he had not known about.

 

Inevitably, Mori had caught back up to Dongsoo, and still unable to entice Jungkook into a trap, he had set Dongsoo aside for the time being yet again, to wait until he could find a better buyer to purchase the life he was attempting to sell. He told Dongsoo that if he ran away again, that he would not have mercy on Jungkook, and he would simply have him killed, as the packs before had wished, and remove the last of his bloodline.

 

A few days prior, he had managed to sneak out of the house, but too frightened to put Jungkook's life in danger any further, he could not truly escape, and simply stole into the neighbor's house, stealing a few supplies. He was planning to end Mori's power over his life once and for all, but his plan was uncovered when the knives he had stolen were discovered, and then they were used by Mori on Dongsoo himself as punishment.

 

As Dongsoo told this part of the story, he briefly touched on the bandages on his torso, his body still pained from what he had endured. Jungkook squeezed his brother's hand, waiting silently. He may not have had any memories of Dongsoo other than memories of his face, but he knew that Dongsoo had endured much, for both of their sakes.

 

There was another half an hour or so of questioning, confirming dates and locations, any identifications that he could, and then both Detective Bright and Officer Julio thanked him for his time, and expressed their relief that he was now no longer in such a horrific situation.

 

Seokjin stood up when the doctor then left after checking Dongsoo's current status, and then the Alpha laid a hand on the back of Jungkook's neck, rubbing at it slightly to reassure him that he was there.

 

There still remained in the room a lady who introduced herself as a representative from Victim Services, and that she would be in charge of taking care of Dongsoo, and ensuring his well-being both mentally and physically. 

 

"I know you have missed your brother," she said, "But I do wish to speak him today regarding everything, and what next steps will need to be taken."

 

Jungkook looked to Dongsoo, and his brother stared up at him with a sad smile.

 

"I'm sorry," Jungkook said, feeling himself break down crying again. "I'm sorry I didn't come look for you. I couldn't remember anything."

 

"There's nothing to be sorry about," Dongsoo said, letting out a deep exhale, and reaching up to pet Jungkook's hair, ruffling it about. It seemed like a gesture Jungkook knew well, and his heart felt as if it was going to burst out of his chest. "I'm actually glad, in a weird way. This way, you don't remember what we went through."

 

"I want to stay with you," Jungkook said quietly. "I want you to stay with me."

 

Dongsoo gave a sad smile, then glanced over at both Seokjin and the representative. "We'll talk about it a bit later, okay? I think... I'm going to need to stay here a bit longer."

 

Jungkook frowned, still clinging onto his brother's hand, but Dongsoo squeezed his hand back and laid back into his pillows. "Come back and visit me later, okay? And don't cry. It's all going to be okay now."

 

With a rough laugh, hollow and mournful, Jungkook said, "I should be the one telling you that."

 

Dongsoo shrugged very lightly, and then let go of Jungkook's hand. "I love you, Googoo. Now go home and rest. I want to rest soon, too."

 

It was only by Seokjin's guiding hand that they went out of the hospital room door and out into the hallway. The Alpha took one look at his Mate, and then shook his head in disapproval.

 

"You have no intentions of going home, do you?"

 

"Absolutely not." Jungkook frowned, already dragging a wooden chair over next to the room door. "Not until Mori is convicted and his entire clan and everyone involved with him is brought in and given justice."

 

"Jungkook," Seokjin said quietly. "You're already really strung out by today. The legal proceedings should be quite straightforward, at this point, but they could still take ages. You can't sit outside his room forever."

 

Jungkook unbuttoned his uniform, draping it on his lap like a blanket and crossing his arms. "I absolutely can. He's my brother. He's done much more for me. I won't leave him now."

 

There were quiet voices within the room, beyond the closed door, and Jungkook felt fear rise in his chest that Dongsoo would refuse to stay with them. That he would slip away from Jungkook's life when he really wanted him in it, when he wanted to take a turn and keep his older brother safe. He couldn't go home, because he was afraid of someone stealing him away again, and he couldn't stand the thought of that.

 

Seokjin sighed, looking down at his Mate and running a hand through his hair. After considering for a long moment, he said, "How about I run home and collect some things for us?"

 

The Omega glanced up, eyes wide and his expression full of thankfulness. He leaned forward, wrapping his arms around Seokjin's waist and clinging to him, while Seokjin rubbed between the Omega's shoulder blades in comfort.

 

"We'll wait until we can get him home and safe, okay?" Seokjin promised. "You'll see."

 

"Thank you, Jinnie," Jungkook sighed, leaning into him. "Also, I wanted to talk to you about something."

 

Seokjin was silent, which confused Jungkook, and he lifted his head to look up at the Alpha, who bore a nervous expression. 

 

"Is...is now a good time for that?" Seokjin whispered, glancing up and down the hallway.

 

Jungkook nodded, wrapping his arms more tightly around Seokjin's small waist. "I don't want to leave Bangtan pack. I'll go with you, if you have to go. But I want to stay with them. They mean so much to me, and they have given me everything, including you."

 

Seokjin blinked, as though thrown aback for a moment, and then he smiled. "I feel the exact same way."

 

"I want Dongsoo to come home to my whole family, if he will come," Jungkook continued. "I want him to have the support and warmth that I had. It was Bangtan pack that saved me, and I want it to save him, too."

 

The Alpha's hand reached out, encompassing his and entangling them as he laid Jungkook's hand against his heart, kissing his knuckles and smiling down at him. "You belong with me."

 

"You belong with me."

 

"We'll stay in Bangtan pack. I'll tell my dad he can go fuck himself. I'll be the loser eldest son, I don't care, as long as you're happy."

 

"You've never been the loser eldest," Jungkook rolled his eyes. "A nerd, maybe."

 

Seokjin let out a sound of protest, making Jungkook smile again with his antics, and then they kissed goodbye, and Seokjin vanished down the end of the corridor, slipping out automatic glass doors and off into the outside world. Jungkook attempted to settle in more comfortably in his extremely uncomfortable wooden chair, and prepared to guard his brother's room for as long as it took until they were all satisfied that he was truly safe and sound again. Jungkook said nothing when an hour later, a security guard from the hospital silently took up post on the other side of the door, and he said nothing when the lady from Victim Services came out, giving him a small smile and a nod.

 

Maybe things were going to be alright, in the end. There was still a bit more scariness in their future, but Jungkook just wanted to hold his brother and to bring him home at last, and he wasn't going to let anything get in his way.

 

Chapter Text

Naiara was running. She was running hard and fast, and she was running all about the house with squealing peals of laughter as she went, while Kwangie, in his form as a small wolf, chased after her with glee.

 

Namjoon was sitting at the kitchen table, watching the pups play. He was also working on selecting a set of massage and spa experiences, as her birthday was drawing near, and he knew that as the father, it was his duty to arrange wonderful mama birthday plans until Naiara had enough awareness to do more than bring Kiara a half-broken daisy or draw her a picture. There were a huge variety of types of massages, some including cheese or wine or with additional oils or minerals used that Namjoon could not make heads or tails of, and he was using his phone to research the different terms as he weighed the possible options.

 

"Daddyyyyy!" screamed Naiara, who threw herself full throttle against her father's knee, clinging to him as Kwangie rushed up behind her, licking her all over and making her laugh, which meant that Kwangie's tongue got all over her cheeks, mouth, and up into her nose. Namjoon laughed, patting Naiara's head but deciding she did not need to be plucked up from safety this time.

 

"Daddy is safe! You can't tag me here!" she declared with great animation toward Kwangie, whose tail wagged with less fervor as he accepted instantly that Naiara must be right. Namjoon was ‘safe’ and he couldn’t win while Naiara even had one finger on her father’s arm.

 

It wasn't long, however, until Kwangie started to get impatient with the way Naiara clung to her daddy's knees to ensure her 'safe' spot, the girl giggling as Kwangie let out a very small and broken-sounding bark of protest, his tail wagging as he stamped his front paws. Naiara teased him, keeping one hand on Namjoon as she tried to crawl under the table and away from Kwangie's reach. Eventually, Kwangie got impatient and barked again, making Naiara bolt. She turned on the spot, ducking just in time to avoid smacking the crown of her head against the underside of the table, and crouching down. Kwangie instantly raced in after her, and they both vanished in the cushioned play-place under the table.

 

Namjoon was chuckling to himself when there came another bark. He had begun to return to his massage-research when he realized that there was something odd hanging in the air.

 

That was not Kwangie's bark. It was lighter, somehow, sharper and full of a different color.

 

Then, Kwangie barked in, joining alongside the new voice that cried out with him. There was a considerable scuffle under the table, and Namjoon suddenly bent down, lifting one of the curtains tacked up there. He let out a gasp.

 

Inside, rolling about in play in Jungkook's abandoned bedding, were two young wolves. The second one was Naiara, her tail wagging and her body quivering back and forth in excitement, her first shift coming so naturally, so easily, that Namjoon wasn't even sure she had realized what she had done yet.

 

"Nai-nai!" Namjoon cried out, making both wolf pups startle. "You did it! C'mere!"

 

Naiara, realizing after hearing her father's voice that he was emanating pride and praise, let out a happy little noise and wriggled her way over to Namjoon's lap, putting her paws up on his lap and quickly jumping up into the chair with him. Her claws dug into his knees and she simply could not hold still, but Namjoon laughed and hugged her tightly, petting her fur and kissing her head. "You've done so well, princess! Daddy is so proud! Look how pretty you are!"

 

She barked in glee, shooting off of his lap in the next moment and darting into the living room, with Kwangie close on her heels. Namjoon watched her run, enjoyed the easy way she was testing out her new form. The two wolves yipped and shrieked at each other as they ran up the stairs, down the stairs, round the kitchen table again, and then back to the living room. Namjoon sighed as he heard the very nostalgic sounds of young wolf teeth gnawing on a coffee table, and he leaned into the living room to see that Kwangie had simply gotten very overwhelmed by his favorite playmate joining in on his fun, and he was gnawing on the coffee table while moving his bottom back and forth to avoid Naiara's jumping on him, attempting to knock him over for their game.

 

"Come now, Kwangie," Namjoon chided gently. "Let's let go of the coffee table now."

 

Kwangie whimpered, but simply started to chew harder, until Namjoon gave a whistle, stepping toward the coffee table until the pup jolted back, beginning the chase anew. The lead Alpha shook his head, chuckling at their ridiculousness, and then he heard a key in the front door.

 

He looked up, unsurprised but with excitement gleaming in his eyes as he watched Seokjin enter the house first, with Dongsoo in the middle and Jungkook not far behind. The Omega closed the door after them, and then sent Namjoon a smile. He gestured around the living room for his brother's benefit.

 

"This is the house, well, the living room to be exact," Jungkook explained. "And you've met Namjoon at the hospital."

 

"Welcome home, Dongsoo," Namjoon beamed, holding out a hand to shake the Beta's, and then they both gave each other a respectful bow. "It's been a whole two weeks, hasn't it? It's good to have you here at last."

 

"Thank you," Dongsoo said quietly, ducking his head. He still barely made eye contact with anyone, and his eyes looked around the living room almost with suspicion. Namjoon was not really unsettled by it. After all, it was a look he had seen many years ago in Jungkook's face when he had first brought him home.

 

"It's great to have another Beta in the pack, too!" Namjoon warmly stated. "Things feel a bit more even now. Taehyung is still at work, as are most of the pack, but--"

 

A bark resounded, and then suddenly their knees and legs were being bumped by two small wolf pups who were yipping at each other’s heels, crazily running into circles around the adults. When they got a sniff of the newcomer, however, Naiara stopped in her tracks, immediately followed by Kwangie, and the two of them raced under the couch, sticking their noses out from the shadowy underside of the piece of furniture. Dongsoo watched them in curiosity, but said nothing, and Namjoon chuckled.

 

“Is that…?” Seokjin exhaled, his excitement evident.

 

“She just shifted for the first time a little while ago, while they were playing. It may take her awhile to shift back,” Namjoon was explaining, turning back to the adults, and half-explaining to Dongsoo. “But that’s okay, she’s been trying for ages to get it right at all, so I’m pretty proud right now.”

 

“That’s great,” Jungkook said, crouching down until he could peer down at the two wolves, who gave a happy little pant at seeing their uncle. “Lookit you two!”

 

“Don’t worry too much about them, they’re just shy with newer people,” Namjoon reassured Dongsoo with a wave of his hand. “Should we give you the household tour?"

 

"Yes, please," Dongsoo said in a quiet voice. Namjoon let Jungkook hop up from the carpet and lead the way toward the kitchen, and then let Dongsoo and Seokjin continue on. Just before leaving the room, Dongsoo glanced over his shoulder, able to see the two wolves poking their heads out from under the couch, jolting back when their eyes met and then a shuffling sound from underneath ensuing.

 

It made Dongsoo's lips curl up in just the slightest of smiles, and he looked over at Namjoon with that smile and then his eyes flickered away. Namjoon beamed, hopeful that even if things were awkward at first, that eventually it would all feel natural and easygoing in the pack house, despite all the upcoming changes.

 

"This is the kitchen," Jungkook was saying, "And there's my table, like I told you about."

 

When the Omega lifted the curtain under the edge of the table, Dongsoo bent down to look underneath. "Looks cozy," he said.

 

"Yeah, we sometimes still sleep under there, but Seokjin is becoming an old man so we don't sleep there as much," Jungkook teased, earning a playful smack on his shoulder from his Mate. Dongsoo looked between them, with wide eyes that reminded Namjoon so much of Jungkook that it was almost like a sensation of deja vu. "And the fridge and cupboards are always stocked with food, so whatever is in there you can eat, if you're hungry. Except for Kiara's special juice, but that's this one," he pulled out a half-gallon of fruit juice to show him. "And it's got her name written on it. She doesn't mind if you have a cup of it once in awhile, but just don't ever take the last of it."

 

Dongsoo said nothing, just hovering around being Jungkook and taking in everything. He moved around in an awkward sort of way, as though he was used to much more restriction of his arm and leg movements. Small steps, arms drawn in; he was trying to take up as little space as possible. He also faced towards everyone as much as he could, trying not to turn his back on anyone. They were all small things that Namjoon half-suspected his mind was exaggerating, but which he kept an eye on and noted, nonetheless. It had taken Jungkook a long time to feel comfortable and at-home, and it would take Dongsoo a lot of time, too, he was sure. But patience was needed. Patience and affection, which gushed forth from Jungkook like a waterfall as he excitedly told his brother where the Poptarts were hidden from the pups, about which meals they were going to eat that week that he was most excited about, and about how everyone in the pack had their own special plate and cup that was theirs and was different by color or design. "We got you one, too. It's blue, see?!"

 

Next came a brief look into Jungkook and Seokjin's room, which was of course a total disaster on Jungkook's side of the room, although Seokjin's side of the bed had been mostly cleaned up with a neat stack of books and his DS on the bedside table. Jungkook’s excuse, however, was that he had been excited about his brother coming home and sleep-deprived from his late vigils outside his brother's hospital room, and had left chaos in the brief periods he came home. Namjoon shook his head at the way that Jungkook had piled up the stuffed animals around his bed again, how clothes were covering every surface he could manage, and blankets had been pulled out and strewn across the floor.

 

"You can tell Jungkook has been the baby of the pack for quite some time," Namjoon joked, shaking his head at the room. "He makes such a mess. Now look at this and imagine what it looks like when he nests!”

 

Jungkook looked over at Namjoon as though panicked, then swiftly closed the bedroom door. 

 

"Uh, next is upstairs," the Omega said quickly. He led the way up, his footsteps echoing on each carpeted step, and briefly showed Dongsoo which room belonged to Jimin and Taehyung, fully-packed with their twins, and which room belonged to Namjoon, Kiara, and Naiara, and which room belonged to Hoseok and Yoongi along with Kwangie. There was also an additional bathroom upstairs, a hallway closet, and lastly, the room which would be Dongsoo's. It had been temporarily been planned to be turned into a nursery or a general playroom for the pups, but as of late it had been reconverted back into a full-on bedroom. They had made sure to get Dongsoo one of the comfier beds, a proper dresser and a box of clothes that they had all donated between the pack members. There was a big window that overlooked the front yard with its great tree, and there were soft green curtains drawn aside.

 

"And this is your bedroom!" Jungkook explained, his chest puffed out in happiness that he could provide such a gift to his older brother now.

 

Dongsoo blinked, quietly stepping into the room and looking around. "It's very… big."

 

Jungkook frowned. "It's the smallest room, actually, after mine. But I don't wanna give mine up. This actually used to be Seokjin's room."

 

To that, Dongsoo just gave a bit of a nod, looking around the room again. He turned in a few circles, taking in the space.

 

"We can get you posters or stuff later to decorate, if you want. Kiara likes to buy like this sage and sandalwood and shit, says it clears the bad energy from the room." Jungkook rolled his eyes, leaning up against the door. "I dunno about that , but it makes it smell less musty I guess, so it's an improvement."

 

"Should we leave you be to get settled in?" Seokjin suggested, touching Jungkook's shoulder with a single hand.

 

Dongsoo looked over for a moment, then tentatively gave a nod.

 

"If you're not comfy in the bed, you can always use the underside of the table, too," Jungkook offered, a bit hesitant, but sincere. Dongsoo finally smiled again, and nodded. "Or! You can come wake me up. Or Namjoon."

 

Namjoon nodded. "If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask."

 

Dongsoo laced his fingers together, clasping his hands awkwardly in front of him, and nodded again. "Thank you," he said.

 

"We'll let you be. Dinner should be in about two hours, but feel free to come downstairs if you'd like to hang out," Namjoon offered. "Would you like the door left open or closed?"

 

"Open, if you don't mind," Dongsoo mumbled, and Namjoon smiled, leaving it halfway open before shuffling out into the hallway with the others.

 

Once they were down the stairs, Jungkook turned to Namjoon, eager for some reassurance. "Do you think he's happy here?"

 

"I think he should have at the very least one night sleeping here before he could possibly assess that even for himself," Namjoon chuckled. "Unless we've done something seriously wrong." He patted Jungkook's head affectionately. "Just be patient, he definitely needs some space."

 

"Okay. I just... I want him to be happy here," Jungkook sighed.

 

"Just give him some time to settle in, Jungkook," Namjoon said with an understanding smile. "These things take time. Either way, he knows you love him and that you want him here."

 

"I hope so..." Jungkook's shoulders slumped, a pout creeping across his face. Then, two little toddlers bolted into the Omega's legs, nearly bowling him over. Apparently Naiara and Kwangie had shifted back, and they were now tugging on his shirt, demanding to be picked up by saying his name over and over and bouncing on their feet.

 

"Junggoo! Junggoo!' Kwangie cried, even as Naiara said, "Uncle Jungkook! Pick me up! Pick me up!"

 

He carefully crouched, letting Naiara crawl onto his back even as he held Kwangie in front of him with both arms, straightening up as best as he could while continuing the conversation.

 

"I remember it took me a long time to feel like I was actually wanted. I don't think my situation is exactly the same as his, of course, but..."

 

"But you kind of get where he's coming from," Seokjin added. "And that's a good thing."

 

"Yeah." Jungkook stared down at the floor for a minute, then perked up again in concern. "Do you think the kids will bother him? I never really asked him if he was okay with kids."

 

"Well, that's a good question, but I don't think we have to worry too much. We've already explained to them both that Dongsoo's room is off-limits right now, so hopefully they won't be a bother to him," Namjoon supplied. "But that's really a personal thing that can only be answered by Dongsoo himself."

 

"Yeah..." Jungkook repeated, the pout returning. Namjoon smiled warmly, ruffling his hair again as Kwangie laid against Jungkook's chest, kicking his little feet. Jungkook just wanted everything to go perfectly, and for his whole family to get along exactly right. It was a very sweet sentiment, but Namjoon knew that the more realistic hope was that the whole family would get along eventually . Challenges would always arise, but he was confident that they would take those problems as they came, and not before.

 

Jungkook eventually carried the two pups off into the living room, Seokjin following close behind, and they watched a couple of children's shows while they waited for dinner. It was Hoseok and Yoongi's turn to cook, and they got started as soon as they came home. Hoseok beamed, asking instantly if Dongsoo had arrived yet. Namjoon gave the general overview of their tour and Dongsoo's current location upstairs. Hoseok nodded in understanding, and then headed off into the kitchen to help Yoongi.

 

Namjoon sat back at the table, still going over his brochures, and he could hear Yoongi and Hoseok lightly bickering back and forth over such things as the consistency of the chops on the bell pepper, and how long it would take the pasta to cook. Namjoon happened to glance up just as Hoseok was dramatically wrapping his arms around Yoongi from behind in a broad-to-small arm gesture, as if he was encompassing Yoongi in an invisible cocoon, and Yoongi reached up to hold onto one of his arms while craning his neck to plant a kiss on Hoseok's neck. 

 

"Here, try this," Yoongi said calmly, holding out a singular piece of spaghetti for Hoseok, the Alpha opening his mouth to receive it from Yoongi's tongs. Namjoon, a little shy for the domesticity, cleared his throat and went back to his brochures.

 

"It needs just a little bit longer," Hoseok supplied. "But the sauce needs more time anyways, so it should work out just fine. Do you need me to chop the tomatoes?"

 

"I can do it," Yoongi offered, moving the cutting board closer to himself on the counter. "Chop the tomatoes, chop, chop, chop~" Yoongi singsonged, making Hoseok chuckle.

 

"Chop chop!" Kwangie called out, half-stepping and half-skipping out into the kitchen, his nose up in the air as he tried to tell from smell and sound what his parents were making. "Chop chop!"

 

"That's right, Kwangie, chop chop!" Yoongi agreed. "I'm chopping tomatoes."

 

"Chop chop!" Kwangie sang, imitating Yoongi with glee. He went over to Hoseok, stepping up onto one of Hoseok's feet and clinging to his leg, just staying near them while they cooked.

 

"Kwangie, here," Yoongi held out a half-slice of the cherry tomato down for Kwangie, who hopped up to reach it and popped it into his mouth from his father's hand, grinning as he chewed contentedly.

 

"Hon," Hoseok called out, "Where did you put the salt?"

 

"It's to the right of the stove, I think," Yoongi indicated with one hand, his other hand pulling out another cherry tomato. "If not, it's probably behind the salad bowl."

 

"Oh, here it is, thanks." Hoseok began to hum as he went back to seasoning the sauce, and the general air of the kitchen was comfortable and familiar.

 

It was this distinct aura of familiarity which was what reminded Namjoon that the pack was all-important to him. He had to remember it, on days when going through the family budget became a six-hour multi-argument affair and confusion of numbers, on days when he was tired of being a mediator and being 'Lead Alpha.' He smiled, finally circling the massage therapy session that he wanted to gift Kiara for her birthday.

 

"Do we have an ETA on the food?" Namjoon asked, folding up the brochures and slipping them into his work jacket, where it was draped across one of the kitchen chairs. 

 

"Less than ten, we can start collecting the masses," Yoongi promised, not looking over his shoulder.

 

"Got it," Namjoon stood up and went into the living room. "Dinner's about ready, time for hand-washing and all."

 

Naiara looked up, no doubt extra-hungry from the additional energy she had spent on shifting for the first time today, and then abandoned Seokjin's lap to run over toward the downstairs bathroom, dutifully going to wash her hands.

 

"Jungkook, do you wanna let Dongsoo know dinner is ready?" Namjoon offered, his tone delicate. Jungkook blinked, then nodded as he stood up.

 

~~~~~

 

Jungkook realized that Dongsoo had never come down to hang out with them before dinner, and he became more than a little concerned once Namjoon had brought his attention to it. He left Seokjin in the living room and headed upstairs, making his steps deliberately a little noisy so that Dongsoo could definitely hear him coming. The bedroom light was on, and he could see Dongsoo was over by the window. He knocked gently on the open door, making Dongsoo startle and turn towards him. He had been staring out the open bedroom window with some intensity, and seemed taken aback by the interruption.

 

"Sorry," Jungkook said quietly, offering a smile. "I just wanted to let you know that dinner is about ready, if you wanted to come down."

 

"Thank you," Dongsoo said. Then, he seemed to hesitate, turning toward his brother and giving him a long, hard look. "You're really happy here, aren't you?"

 

"What?" Jungkook shifted his weight from foot to foot where he stood in the doorway. "Yes, of course I am."

 

"That's...that's good." Dongsoo said, his voice low and his expression hard to read. "Jungkook, will you be mad at me if I'm not happy here?"

 

Jungkook considered for a long moment, trying to will his way past the deep feelings of loss that already cropped up in his chest at the very insinuation. At last he swallowed and said, "No. I would be sad, but I wouldn't be mad at you at all. I just want you to be happy."

 

Dongsoo nodded, and gave a little smile. "Okay. Let's go down to dinner, then."

 

They met the family in the living room, a warm and noisy round of chaos with Naiara crying out that she had too many things on her plate, and then getting upset when Kwangie stole a tomato. Taehyung and Jimin were balancing a twin on each hip, dragging their high-chairs to whatever spot had enough room for them. Namjoon was blushing, Kiara waving the discovered massage brochure in front of his face and teasing him lovingly. Hoseok was setting down the huge pot of pasta into the middle of the table for everyone to dip into, and immediately four hands were moving toward the utensils. Yoongi was standing near the stove, watching his Mate's movements and waiting for a safe lull in the spinning and shifting for him to bring the hot pan of sauce over. He glanced over and saw Jungkook and Dongsoo standing there, and pointed toward two empty seats that were squished around one corner of the table.

 

"It's so crowded now," Jungkook commented as he sat down next to Seokjin. "We need a bigger table."

 

"Good luck fitting a bigger table in this tiny room," Seokjin commented. "That's why I vote we buy a set of low tables and just eat in the living room. That way we can watch movies while we eat."

 

"But dinner time is family time," Kiara said, looking over and sending Seokjin a pout. She was apparently done kissing her Mate's neck, and had abandoned Namjoon's flushed face in lieu of cuttingup Naiara's spaghetti into more manageable bites with the edge of her fork.

 

"Papa!" Kwangie called out, "I wan' chop chop!"

 

"Sure, Kwangie," Yoongi said with a chuckle, setting down the sauce at last and reaching over to drop more cherry tomatoes on Kwangie's plate.

 

Dongsoo was sitting very quietly among all the noise, watching it all go down and looking quite overwhelmed. Jungkook glanced over, then leaned in to offer to help Dongsoo get his food. He half-stood, making sure Dongsoo got the same size of portion that Jungkook got for himself.

 

"Are you okay?" Jungkook asked, setting the plate back in front of his brother, and looking worried.

 

Nervously, Dongsoo nodded. He looked around, and met eyes with Naiara, who looked shy behind her big girl plate, and she beamed at him with a bashful smile before ducking her head lower below the surface of the table, an awkward attempt that only managed to hide a portion of her face. Dongsoo gave a little smile, and then looked around again.

 

"If it's too much, we can go sit in the living room," Jungkook offered, to which Dongsoo shook his head. He then seemed to duck his head and start eating, albeit slowly, which Jungkook figured was a good sign.

 

Once the family had all settled into their usual seats and routine, and conversation lulled a bit as some of them focused intently on eating, Jungkook took the opportunity to make sure Dongsoo had been introduced to everyone at the table. Each of them gave a smile and a nod, and when it was the twins' turn to be named, Taehyung lifted one of Taeyeon's hands and made her give a gentle little wave, and Jimin did the same with Joonhee.

 

Dongsoo didn't say anything about Joonhee's arm, and didn’t seem sure how to react to how many active little ones were at the table,  but he did clear his throat a bit and turn to Namjoon, and asked a few timid questions about how long the pack had been around, and thanking him for welcoming him into the household. Namjoon smiled, and kept up the conversation for exactly how long Dongsoo wished.

 

They were occasionally interrupted by Kwangie, who had now heard Dongsoo's name a few times, who yelled out, "Don'soo! Don'soo!" every once in awhile. He didn't seem to really want Dongsoo's undivided attention, getting shy each time anyone looked his way, but he seemed happy, and looked over at Naiara or his parents for their approval each time he succeeded in meeting Dongsoo's eye.

 

Right after dinner, Dongsoo excused himself and went directly back up to his bedroom. Jungkook was a mite disappointed, but he could understand the sentiment. He let Naiara crawl up into his lap as dinner wound down, and Namjoon and Kiara stood up to take their turn washing the dinner dishes. Jungkook moved back into the living room, carrying a full and sleepy Naiara with him, and they went and drew in her coloring books together for awhile.

 

Seokjin, who had been very quiet through dinner, came and sat nearby to join them. He was watching Jungkook very intently as the Omega colored, and eventually, Jungkook looked up in curiosity. 

 

"What?"

 

The Alpha gave a little smile. "You're doing fine."

 

Jungkook frowned, bending more closely over his coloring page, and quietly giving Naiara the blue crayon when she asked politely with a 'please.'

 

"Jungkook." Seokjin said quietly.

 

"What?" Jungkook looked up again. Seokjin's face was unreadable, but he was staring so hard at Jungkook's face that he started to worry something was wrong. "What is it?"

 

Seokjin looked over at Naiara for a moment, and then glanced toward the kitchen. Most of the other wolves were still in there, or had gone upstairs. So it was just the two of them and Naiara, for the moment.

 

He turned back to Jungkook, and that grim smile that he bore when he was troubled came over him again. "Nothing."

 

"No, not nothing. What's up?"

 

"Let's wait a bit," he said, patting Naiara's head. "Okay?"

 

Jungkook felt concern working up in his chest, he knew once again that he had to wait. Seokjin always took his own time with such things, and a lot of Jungkook's half of the compromises they made together was patience for these periods.

 

The other wolves started to say goodnight and venture back to their bedrooms, and it was starting to get late. Jungkook went upstairs specifically to check on Dongsoo, to ask if he needed anything. He showed Dongsoo where his new toothbrush was, told him where to find extra blankets if his bed was too cold.

 

"Goodnight, then," he said awkwardly, waiting in the doorway once he realized he had nothing left to do except to leave Dongsoo alone to sleep. "Again, let me know if you need anything. I don't mind being woken up, I really don't."

 

"Thank you," Dongsoo said. It was a phrase he had been quietly saying a lot today, but he said it again and with a soft smile that made Jungkook believe he meant it. His brother started to turn and go back into the bedroom, when Jungkook's chest tightened uncomfortably with words unsaid.

 

"And Dongsoo?" Jungkook said, laying his hand on the door to make sure Dongsoo didn't close it too quickly. The Beta looked at him, silently asking what was wrong. Jungkook swallowed, moved forward a smidgen, wanting to embrace Dongsoo but still not sure what he was comfortable with. "Don't... don't leave unless you tell me goodbye, promise?"

 

Dongsoo met his eyes squarely, a serious look on his face. He nodded, and patted Jungkook's hair. "I promise. Goodnight, GooGoo."

 

"Goodnight, Dongsoo," Jungkook said, smiling despite the tightness in his throat. Behind Jungkook, several of the pack members were going to their respective rooms, and hearing one goodnight called out, they all chimed in, throwing Dongsoo's name in among the goodnight's as if they had been saying it for years. Dongsoo bit his bottom lip, as if made shy by the chorus, and then retreated back into his room.

 

Jungkook slowly made his way back downstairs, finding Seokjin laying on their bed and reading a medical journal, his contacts removed and his glasses placed low on his nose as he read.

 

"Sexy,"  Jungkook greeted, making the Alpha look up and give a little smile.

 

"That's my middle name," he agreed, setting the book aside and slipping a bookmark into its pages. Jungkook crawled up onto the bed, flopping down against Seokjin's shoulder and letting the Alpha wrap his arms around him, drawing him near. "Did Dongsoo go to bed, then?"

 

"Yeah," Jungkook said quietly. He felt nauseated, and he wasn't sure if he had eaten his dinner too quickly or not, but it reminded him of a topic he had been putting off since finding Dongsoo. He lifted his head, looking toward Seokjin and waiting until the Alpha was giving him his undivided attention. "Seokjin..."

 

Seokjin's expression, for some reason, completely shifted with the single word. It was as if he knew. He shifted position, trying to face Jungkook more squarely, and that was when Jungkook knew that Seokjin had been waiting for Jungkook to say something first. That he probably already knew. That it was probably what Seokjin had meant when he said ‘nothing’ earlier.

 

"Seokjin... I took a pregnancy test this morning..." he said quietly.

 

The Alpha nodded, his mouth working suddenly in a very nervous manner. He rubbed at Jungkook's shoulder, squeezing at his arm for a moment before saying, "Okay."

 

Jungkook sat up a little bit, one hand coming up to play with the fabric of Seokjin's shirt. "Well... it came out positive."

 

Seokjin inhaled sharply, squeezing Jungkook tighter. The tension within the room was almost palpable, thick and intense. The fear was there. The dread of a repetition. But also a feeling of elation, of joy, of relief. It was a very mixed and complex series of emotions, and neither of them was sure how to handle it. But suddenly Seokjin's eyes were filled with tears, breaking through his smile. 

 

"I figured..." he managed. He ran a hand through Jungkook's hair.

 

"Are you happy?" Jungkook pressed, trying to clarify the Alpha's reaction. He himself had had some time to suspect, realize, and come to terms, so that morning had merely been a confirmation of what he had already known. He knew the sensation. It felt familiar, for the most part, but also somewhat different this time around. He sat up a little bit, watching Seokjin's face.

 

"I'm ecstatic," Seokjin said, chuckling a little through the tears. "I'm so happy."

 

"Me too," the Omega agreed, smiling. "But let's keep it between us for now, okay? Just... Just in case."

 

Seokjin nodded.

 

"You already suspected it again, didn't you?"

 

Seokjin nodded again, his smile growing. He swiped at his already fallen tears with the back of one hand. "I'm just..."

 

Giving a smile, Jungkook wriggled his way up a bit and planted a kiss on Seokjin's mouth, smiling into it and making the Alpha sigh into the kiss. When he pulled away, Jungkook grinned. "I had a conception dream, that day before we got called in and found Dongsoo."

 

"You did?" Seokjin arched an eyebrow. "What was the dream?"

 

Jungkook smiled. He nuzzled up against Seokjin, feeling a bit demure for a moment, because he didn't want his Mate to make fun of him. But he mustered up the gumption, and quietly said, "Their name is Sooyeon."

 

"Sooyeon?" Seokjin hummed, testing the name out. He pulled his book down again, turning the bookmark over so he could write on the back, writing out the characters and holding it up so that the two of them could see the name. "An elegant beauty," he said, smiling softly. "I like it. I'm sure it's very fitting, especially if she named herself."

 

"Her?"

 

"Yup," the Alpha beamed with pride. He reached down and touched Jungkook's stomach. "This one is a girl, I can just tell."

 

"You're just saying that because the last one was a boy," Jungkook said. Once the words left his mouth, his smile faded, and he wasn't sure if it was the wrong thing to say. He had stunned himself with how easily he had brought Chanseol back into the conversation.

 

Meanwhile, his Mate squeezed him into a tight hug, kissing his forehead and giving a soft smile. "Maybe so, but I was right about Chanseol, and I'm right this time, too. Trust me. Okay?"

 

Jungkook nodded. There had been so many little talks, little realizations that had been teaching Jungkook that it was okay to remember Chanseol and also to move forward with his life, that they weren't opposing paths which would blockade the other option. It was a strange thing, but a real one.

 

"Sooyeon," Jungkook said gently. "I've been saying the name to myself constantly, and it feels just right."

 

"Sooyeon. We can call her Soosoo," offered Seokjin. "The other pups will love her."

 

"I hope so. Honestly, I didn't realize until Dongsoo was here today just how crazy our household has gotten. I guess Namjoon was right to talk about getting a bigger place."

 

"Mm," Seokjin said, his fingertips still brushing over the name of their daughter written out on his bookmark with tenderness. "The new house fund is well underway by now, thank goodness. Poor Taehyung and Jimin are so squished in their room with the twins, just wait until they get older, and get more toys, and--"

 

Seokjin was cut off by another kiss from Jungkook, a longer, more lingering one this time. Optimism mingled with almost-crippling fear, and joy was tinged with secrecy. But for the moment, Jungkook was crawling on top of Seokjin, laying across him and kissing his neck.

 

"Oh?" Seokjin joked. "You think you're gonna get lucky, officer?"

 

Jungkook snorted, smacking at Seokjin's shoulder for ruining his gentle moment, but then not half a second later, Seokjin was catching his mouth again, deepening the kiss and running his hands up and down Jungkook's body in such a way that made the Omega start to moan and let out little needy sounds, to which Seokjin gave an unbridled smile and nosed at his Omega's neck, nibbling there with teasing affection.

 

"I'll take that as a yes," Seokjin said with a chuckle.

Chapter Text

It was a late Sunday morning when Dongsoo rose from his bed, looking up for a long while at the sunshine which crept in through the window. He kept it open most of the time, but kept his door shut, so that any chilly night airs would not disturb the rest of the household.

 

In the last three months, things had fallen into quite a bit of a soft routine. He watched the sun spilling happily across the room, and slowly edged his way out of the bed. Silently as a mouse, he got dressed in the middle of the room, pulling a thick sweater over his head which had apparently once belonged to Namjoon. It was far too big for Dongsoo, but it was warm and comfortable, and had quickly become one of his favorite things to wear.

 

He then stepped out of the room and downstairs, still managing to make his footsteps light and nearly soundless, save for the occasional creak in the floor. Down in the kitchen, Kiara was having a quiet cup of coffee, most of the pups already fed and sitting in the living room watching Sunday morning cartoons. Dongsoo gave Kiara a quiet nod, gingerly pulling out a cup of coffee for himself and nodding to her again as he left the kitchen and went to sit in the living room. He never took milk or sugar in his coffee. It had started as a fearful thing, worrying that he was a bother or in the way, but eventually, he had just come to like his cup of coffee simple and strong.

 

Kwangie and Naiara had their eyes glued to the television screen, with Kwangie wearing a striped footsie pajama and Naiara still in her bedtime twin brains, tiny and sticking out on the sides of her head due to their shortness. They barely glanced over when Dongsoo came into the room, but after a few minutes of him sitting on the couch, watching the animated characters singing on-screen, eventually Naiara crawled up onto the couch and planted herself in Dongsoo's lap.

 

The first few times it had happened, Dongsoo had nearly spilled hot coffee over both of them in surprise. But there was something about the pups that was innocently persistent, and they kept complaining when he wouldn't let them be near him, so he had gotten more than just accustomed to it. It felt fulfilling, to have the children sit near him, comfortable being close and letting him bounce them in turns on his knees. They rarely spoke much, if at all, and there was a silent understanding. Naiara was the most talkative, sometimes giving opinions on behalf of herself, Kwangie, or the entire pack, or even Dongsoo himself, straight to the Beta's face.

 

Today, she simply sat on his knee and watched her show, pulling one of her braids until she could just fit the tip of it into her mouth to suck on absentmindedly. Dongsoo watched the cartoons with the kids, and drank his coffee, hoping that his presence, at least, was giving Kiara a bit of a quiet morning moment herself.

 

On weekdays, she or Taehyung would inevitably come in to herd them into getting dressed or preparing to go out for errands, but since it was the weekend, they got away with keeping their pajamas on until around noon, and played quietly on the floor with LEGOs or building forts until afternoon outdoor playtime came around, and they would be allowed to let off some energy before some went down for naps and others had reading time with an available parent.

 

This day in particular, Dongsoo knew that Taehyung was feeling a bit under the weather, and so was Jungkook, so it was largely up to Naiara and Jimin to keep the pups busy.

 

As the cartoons started to wind down and the babies' energy started to wind up, Kwangie began to toddle across the living room, collecting his toys and beginning to pile them in a part of the room. Naiara slipped from Dongsoo's lap, moving as if to help her playmate, and then suddenly she shifted into wolf form, nipping at the toys and wriggling around to try and stimulate her friend into getting excited, too. Kwangie, however, just let out a petulant whimper and threw one of the blocks onto his pile, jutting out his bottom lip at her.

 

"No!" Kwangie protested, to which Naiara nipped at his leg gently, and then darted away toward the hallway, expecting Kwangie to follow after her. When he didn't, she bounded back through the room, nearly bowling into Dongsoo's legs.

 

They would spend the morning like this, and Dongsoo would eat lunch with the kids at the table, often with Jimin or Taehyung joining while feeding the twins. When the little ones went out to play, Dongsoo would usually return to his room with a book from the family library (most of which was Namjoon's, actually) and read quietly until he could hear the family come back inside again. He had tried a few times before to join them on their outdoor play, but found it quite overwhelming, especially if playdates had been arranged and the amount of small ones had tripled or quadrupled in number.

 

Whatever Jungkook's schedule was, by the time dinner came around, he usually started to get anxious to spend a little time with his older brother, so Dongsoo would indulge him by watching him play video games or they would try a card game for as long as they could before interrupted. Dongsoo didn't play the video games very well. Seokjin would say he sucked at it too, Dongsoo suspected he said that just to make him feel better, as he seemed able to keep up with Jungkook most of the time.

 

It was a very strange way to live, indeed. Of course, Dongsoo did not have much to compare it to, but when he sat there, silently leaning his elbows on the coffee table, and watched his brother and his brother's Mate flirt through their special way of punching each other in the arm and teasing little nuzzles out of each other, and a couple of young wolves would bound through the room without abandon, and there were three people talking down the hall and two more outside, and then some, it was quite a lot for Dongsoo to take in.

 

Surprisingly, it was a lot of something which he had, over time, come to grow quite comfortable in. There was no pressure from the rest of the family to engage much on the regular, and he was allowed to go and come as he pleased (although he usually opted to stay home and in his room). It was...nice. The lack of pressure was honestly not an addition to the stay in Bangtan pack that he had been expecting.

 

Back up plans had been made almost as soon as he arrived, of course. He still had his few belongings he had acquired kept in a bag in his room, ready to leave at any moment. He had sought out a few places he could stay overnight until heading out of town, knew where a bus stop was where he could vanish from the lives of all who had known him if he needed it.

 

But that was the thing, that was still settling into his bones, as he played Go Fish with Naiara for the millionth time, trying to maintain patience as she got distracted by story tangents about mermaids and wriggled in her seat as if she needed to go to the bathroom:

 

He didn't feel the need to run.

 

Things were going an almost eerie smooth, particularly because the pack was already so busy that there wasn't time to catch their breaths or make things strange, he supposed.

 

But what was going to happen to them down the line? Surely, things would change.

 

For the time being, he just wanted to enjoy the little moments while he could. He wanted to learn how not to jump at every clatter of a plate, he wanted to learn not to hide in his room quite so much. He wanted to learn how to be a real part of this family, and the sensation of not fully fitting in, whether unfounded or not, had begun to niggle at the back of his mind, reminding him that progress was necessary, and that he knew more than anybody how precious time was.

 

On this particular Sunday evening, Jungkook was in his bed, and when dinnertime came, Kiara asked him to take a bowl of soup in to the Omega for her. He took the bowl carefully, leaving the busy kitchen to quietly knock at Jungkook's bedroom door. When his brother's voice echoed through, he entered slowly.

 

The room had, since Dongsoo's arrival, gotten to be quite a mess. Every surface was covered in soft, cushiony material now, and Jungkook was laying star-shaped in the middle of the bed on his back, frowning up at the ceiling. When he glanced over and saw Dongsoo, he quickly tried to sit up, rubbing at the small of his back as he did so.

 

"Dongsoo, what's up?"

 

"I just came to bring you soup," the Beta offered, holding out the bowl.

 

"Oh, thanks." Jungkook sat up a bit straighter, reaching out to carefully accept the bowl. He blew on each bite carefully before sipping at it, and Dongsoo stood awkwardly in the middle of the room, looking around. There were stuffed animals, blankets, thick coats, and electronics tucked around the room as if Jungkook was intentionally trying to bury his things in fabric. Dongsoo found it curious, and stared down at a large teddy bear plushie at his feet.

 

"You can sit down," Jungkook chirruped, patting the side of the mattress. "I know the room is a mess, so I don't want you to trip. But feel free to stay."

 

Dongsoo did want to stay, as it was much quieter in here, the walls dulling out the cacophony of sounds in the kitchen currently, a beacon of noise that he was still getting used to. With great care, Dongsoo settled on a perch on the very edge of the mattress.

 

"I know it's messy," Jungkook repeated, snorting at himself as he looked at the pile.

 

"It's curious," Dongsoo said. "Mother did the same thing, once."

 

Jungkook visibly perked up, curious at the mention. "She did?"

 

"Yeah, when we knew she was pregnant with you. I was pretty little at the time, but she told me about it so many times, I kind of remember it now, I guess." Dongsoo gave a little smile. "She piled up every blanket in the house into her bedroom. I guess it was her way of nesting."

 

The Omega paused, his soup spoon halfway to his mouth. "Are you serious? It's my way of nesting, too!"

 

Dongsoo started to laugh, and then both brothers froze a bit in confusion, looking toward each other with matching wide eyes. 

 

"You....?" Dongsoo began.

 

"Oh shit," Jungkook hissed, rubbing the back of his head and biting back a smile. "And I was doing really well, too."

 

"My god..." Dongsoo shook his head. "You're pregnant? Is that... is that why you weren't feeling well today?"

 

"Yeah, actually. I managed to get through my morning sickness because everything was so crazy when you first got here," Jungkook shrugged. Then he held a finger to his lips. "But not a word to the household. Only Seokjin and I have known so far, and now you."

 

"Oh..." Dongsoo stared at his brother. "But aren't you too young?"

 

Jungkook drew himself back, as though personally affronted by the suggestion. "I am not! We've already been Mated for ages, so we've been trying really hard. I just don't want to tell anyone until we're in the safe zone."

 

"The safe zone?"

 

"Yeah, after the first few months...there's less likelihood of things going...wrong..." Jungkook's face fell quite suddenly, and Dongsoo reached out to awkwardly pat his brother's arm, unsure of how else to respond. But Jungkook soon recollected himself, smiling softly again. "But Seokjin and I got the official clear the other day, so we're just trying to find a fun way to reveal everything, or we may just wait until they finally clue in."

 

"Well… it'll become obvious eventually, don't you think?"

 

"You would think!" Jungkook lifted his stomach, and Dongsoo noted a little roundness to his belly, barely discernible if not for his naturally slender frame. Jungkook patted both sides of his stomach comically. "But I've gotten this chubby and no one has even made a joke once!"

 

Dongsoo tilted his head at his brother. "You still seem quite young, at least to me, I guess."

 

It was a funny thing, to see your brother after so much time had passed, and still be able to remember when he was small. Jungkook looked up at him with the same cherubic smile he had given when they were just a couple of stupid kids, but it was in an adult's face now, one that had been given hardship and found happiness, had seen cruelty and was yet one of the gentlest people. Despite the way he had a habit of smacking his Mate like he was a drum.

 

"Can I ask something?" Dongsoo queried, leaning in a bit. Jungkook gave a nod, tucking his hair behind his ear. He had been growing it out lately, and it was starting to get a bit shaggy, looking soft. "You and Seokjin... are you really happy with him?"

 

"Yeah, totally." Jungkook blinked, his eyes going wide. "Why?"

 

"I don't know. He's a bit older, a doctor , but he seems a bit childish sometimes, and you're always hitting each other."

 

"It's how we show affection, I promise," Jungkook reassured, straightening the blankets on their bed out. "He acts the most childish around me, and I tease him for it. He's very smart, and handsome, and kind. And he gets me more than anyone else in the world."

 

Dongsoo nodded. Whether for better or for worse, despite their strange ways of showing affection, Dongsoo could feel that no matter what, his brother was madly in love with Seokjin. "And your Bond...? It really happened?"

 

"Yup!" Jungkook grinned with pride. "It happened by accident the first day we met, as soon as I saw him coming up the walk into the house for the first time. Gosh, it's been so long already since then..."

 

"What did that feel like? The Bond?"

 

"Hmm..." Jungkook tried to think back, tried to remember. "It was a weird feeling. Like the moment your foot falls asleep but all over, I guess? Or maybe like when you get goosebumps. I dunno. It felt scary but familiar, I suppose. And the feeling comes back sometimes, when he's near me." Jungkook stretched out his arms, groaning with the pull of his muscles. "But he's great. You should get to know him better, he's really great, even if he can act like a moron, sometimes, it's mostly to get a laugh."

 

Dongsoo smiled. "I trust your judgement, I guess. You've created a family on your own, and that's just a bit weird to see, after everything..."

 

The Omega stared at his brother for a long, discerning moment, and then he leaned in until their faces were a bit closer. "I would have built a family with you, if I had known, Dongsoo... I'm sorry."

 

"No, I know." Dongsoo shrugged as if in nonchalance, but he didn't meet his brother's eyes. Silence stretched between them, and Dongsoo wondered if he could catch up to the present, instead of being constantly pulled back to a past no one else but him was alive and able to recall anymore.

 

"Y'know," Jungkook said quietly, as if hearing Dongsoo's thoughts. He touched his brother's shoulder gently. "I would love to hear about your memories, y'know, of when we were kids. I'm sad I don't remember any of it with you, but I want to."

 

Dongsoo glanced over. "You do?"

 

"Of course."

 

"Like what?"

 

Jungkook considered for a moment, taking a sip at his soup. "I dunno. What were our parents like? Did we fight a lot? Was I an annoying child?"

 

"You were always getting into trouble, yeah," Dongsoo chuckled. "You were my baby brother and you thought you could do anything in the world you got a whim to do. Mom used to say she was worried you would never learn fear."

 

"Yeah? That sounds like me." Jungkook shuffled in to sit a bit closer to his brother. "Did we ever have a playhouse? I remember a playhouse sometimes, but I don't know where it came from.."

 

Dongsoo stared at Jungkook for a moment, and the Omega started to wilt in his posture before Dongsoo gave a slight nod. Instantly, the man perked up like a young pup. "Really!? We had one?"

 

Dongsoo said, "We had a little playhouse in the backyard. Our grandfather built it. It was just a little two-story basic thing, with the upstairs more like a loft you got to through a trap-door. We played in it all the time."

 

"I remember the trap-door! I remember the loft thing! The door once got stuck and we couldn't get into it ourselves, right"

 

The Beta's eyes widened. "Yeah. Grandpa had to come help us open it. The door got stuck for some reason, it was the first time we had tried to play it in after the winter, so maybe the wood got swollen up or something, I guess. But he came to wrench it open for us. Seeing the toys in there was like finding treasure, you said."

 

Jungkook smiled. "It's nice to finally know for sure that it was real. I remember the door and the way it smelled. Tell me more."

 

The two brothers sat on the bed for a long time, while Jungkook quietly ate his soup and mostly listened, Dongsoo relating all the childhood memories he had replayed over and over in his head, using the happy moments he had, and he had held onto them during the darkest days in captivity. When the hours had dragged on, he had been at least able to relive those memories, until he was sure his memory of them was rosy and unrealistic. But he didn't care. Those were the thoughts, the imprints on his mind that he could carry onward with, and now he could comfort Jungkook with them, too.

 

He told him about their shenanigans at the airport when they had scared the shit out of their parents. He told them about how they would camp in the backyard and tell each other stories. He told him how he would always try to sneak off to play with his own friends, and Jungkook would be sprinting along behind them, insisting he be included. He related the foods Jungkook refused to eat as a child, how messy their shared room was, and the television shows they used to watch.

 

The hours passed by, and gradually, Seokjin arrived home, stepping into the bedroom with a sigh and then stopping abruptly when he saw who was in the room. A bit taken aback, he quickly recovered and offered Dongsoo a smile, moving to toss his jacket across the back of a chair in one corner of the room.

 

"Hey, what are we up to?"

 

"Dongsoo is sharing childhood memories with me," Jungkook said with a smile. Then, a look of mild concern brushed across his face. "Have you eaten yet?"

 

"Not yet, I wanted to check on you first, but there's some left in the kitchen for me." He bent down on the other side of the bed, planting a kiss on Jungkook's mouth before he went to grab a change of clothes which would be more comfortable for the evening. Once he had picked something, he gave them both a nod and left the room, likely to change in the bathroom and get himself something to eat.

 

"Well, I should leave you be, then," Dongsoo said, giving Jungkook a smile. "Besides, you should be resting up for the baby."

 

Jungkook's face instantly became a varying kaleidoscope of different emotions, from beautiful glee to shyness, from a bratty smirk to apology. "Thank you for keeping me company. I wanna hear more some other time, Dongsoo."

 

"Sure thing, Googoo," Dongsoo promised. He stood up from the bed and was already giving Jungkook a ruffling pat through his hair before he realized that he was probably planning to stay in Bangtan Pack, and the feeling surprised him a bit. He felt a little bit confident in promising to tell Jungkook more stories, since he didn’t think he would have any reason to leave him anytime soon.

 

Although the evening had diverted, and it had already become considerably late, Dongsoo crept up to his room as per his usual habit, and sat in his room, reading for the rest of the evening. It got late, and he became enraptured by a novel he was working his way through, and he did not realize how deep into the night it had become.

 

He was eventually distrubed by a very delicate shuffling outside his door, and he looked up to see Naiara peering round the door at him as he lay in his bed, still reading and still dressed for the day.

 

"Uncle Dongsoo?" she said quietly. "I had a nightmare."

 

Dongsoo looked at the child, at a loss. "Where's your mommy and daddy, Nai-nai?"

 

"Sweepin'," she said, exaggerating her pout to the point of it affecting her words. She rubbed at one sleepy eye, dressed in her Elsa nightgown that dragged against her ankles. Knowing she was endearingly angelic in her curls and her flushed-cheeks fresh from sleep, Naiara shuffled her way into the room one step at a time, dramatically laying on yawns for emphasis. She crawled up into Dongsoo's bed, curling up onto his pillow.

 

Dongsoo sighed. It would have been better if her parents had been woken up, but he suspected she had not even attempted to rouse them. He got flashbacks to when Jungkook used to sneak into his bed, telling him in a hushed voice about the nightmares he had had, and telling Dongsoo to comfort him. Naiara made no such verbal demands, silently snuggling beneath his blanket and laying down until he leaned back, resting his book against his chest. The single lamp shone on the bedside table. She curled up against him, and he leaned down, running a hand over her head to comfort her as she waited for the blankets to warm up.

 

"Was it a very scary dream, Nai-nai?" Dongsoo asked. She nodded, and he pulled the blanket up further across her tiny body, shielding her from the room which was kept a little cold from the still-open window. He leaned back in the bed and she instantly curled up against him, closing her eyes and letting out a little sigh.

 

"You can stay here for awhile, then," he promised, his voice going low and gentle as he continued to pet her head, despite the awkward angle he was now at. He watched her for awhile, amazed at such a tiny being that was so defined and unique already. Naiara was a minuscule creature who already knew what she wanted out of the world, in a way.

 

She slept on, curled up against him. Eventually he could feel a bit of body heat emanating off her small form, and she seemed to be asleep. Remembering how touchy falling back asleep was for Jungkook, Dongsoo simply continued reading his book quietly for some time, waiting to make sure she was soundly asleep and not about to awaken with a slight jostling.

 

He finished a chapter, and then another, occasionally looking over at her sleeping face to check on her, and then he would return to his book. When the second chapter was completed, he let out a little sigh, setting his bookmark and gently laying the book onto his bedside stand. He looked over at Naiara, who was still sleeping quietly, her little fist clutched around his shirt. He carefully managed to get her fingers untangled, and then he got up out of the bed, tiptoeing out to the hall until he reached Namjoon's room. He hesitated for a long moment, old fears cropping up in his chest, and then mustered the courage to give a quiet knock at the door. He waited, and then knocked again.

 

There was no sounds beyond the doorway, and the hallway felt exposed and chilly. He knocked a bit louder, and then there were voices muffled from within, and after a moment, Namjoon came to the door. His hair was stood on end and it was clear he had been completely asleep, judging by the way his eyes were puffy and he looked at Dongsoo as though he couldn't remember his own name.

 

"Hey, what's up?" he queried, surprised to find Dongsoo there.

 

"Uh, I think I have something of yours," Dongsoo said quietly. "She's small, has curly hair, and likes her own way?"

 

Namjoon's eyes widened. "Oh, shit. Sorry. She usually goes to Jimin for a glass of water if she gets up at night, so I assumed..."

 

"No, it's fine, she's asleep again now. She had a nightmare, I just thought it might be time to move her back into her own bed." Dongsoo gave a demure smile, and Namjoon sent one back of his own.

 

"Of course, of course." The work of gently picking Naiara up and untangling the blankets from around her took a long stretch of time, as Namjoon was trying not to wake her up. At one point, her eyes flickered opened, but she just made a whimpering sound and buried her face into her daddy's chest, sniffing at him in her sleep, comforted by the familiarity. Namjoon whispered a thanks once again to Dongsoo, and then swept her away.

 

When they both had left, Dongsoo quietly got ready for bed at last. By the time he went to sleep, all the body heat that he and Naiara had made on the bed was gone, but that was okay. Dongsoo still felt a burst of warmth in his chest at the fact that Naiara had even come to him in the first place, a 'new uncle' that she had not known that long, but whom she had wanted to comfort her on an occasion that all children experienced.

 

He went to sleep, thinking happily about the fact that he was also privy to the special information of Jungkook's pregnancy, and thinking about how maybe when the baby was born, he could help take care of them, as well.

 

Life had settled into a sort of routine, and Dongsoo somehow knew that the pack was not going to have a sit-down to demand what his plans were or if he was going to stay. Sweetly, they assumed he was going to stay unless he stated otherwise, and had already accepted him as part of the pack in the quietest ways, despite the noisiness of everyday life now.

 

Dongsoo turned out his light, and that was when he decided that he was going to do something with this new life. He was going to use words to reassure in a way that words and memories had helped him through hell. He was going to write. He was going to write a book about everything, about his happy childhood, about his terrible boyhood and his nightmarish Presenting, about being found again, and being adopted into a new family that seemed, somehow, to want him there.

 

He fell asleep with a smile on his face, and a feeling of comfort in his chest that he had not felt for a very long time.

 

~~~~~

 

Dongsoo kept Jungkook and Seokjin's secret for some weeks - not that it was a point of interest that many were to inquire after about with him , naturally - and it was not until they were leaving for a weekend trip to the island that the pack shared that the subject came up again.

 

Dongsoo willingly helped load the bed of the large truck Seokjin owned, while the others whined about simply giving in and chartering a bus to take their trips in the future. It took him awhile to realize that they were only playfully complaining, and after noticing their smiles and teasing eye rolls, the long trip seemed much less stressful to him.

 

As it was, they still had to take two vehicles, as Yoongi drove the pups in their car seats in one vehicle with Namjoon, and Seokjin drove the truck with most of the adults. In all honesty, Dongsoo could not possibly imagine that the car with all the infants was the noisier nor the more chaotic of the two.

 

Whether someone was stepping on someone's foot, or the game of Never Have I Ever got out of hand, or they were laughing at who had which kink, the adult wolves all seemed to be bursting with energy and excitement. There was a blanket or two shared around the bed of the truck, and Dongsoo offered to take his turn on the cold metal without complaint. Jungkook tried to insist on being in the bed of the truck at the same time Dongsoo was, but Seokjin just gave Jungkook a hard look, and the Omega sighed and crawled into the cab. Dongsoo ended up taking his turn with Hoseok instead.

 

While it was harder to talk when they were on the main roads, with the air whipping by them and yanking at their hair and stinging into their eyes, Jungkook quietly tried to turn in his seat, opening the back windows of the cab of the truck so he could still be near Dongsoo in case he was needed. Dongsoo smiled, then simply shook his head at the wide-eyed Omega, and closed the window. It wouldn't do to keep the cab all cold just so they could talk. But Jungkook looked so dejected, his pout coming out in full force as he opened the window again.

 

"We can't talk with the window closed," he called out.

 

"Why didn't you just sit out there with him, then?" Jimin complained, shivering a little at the bursts of air that pulled around them now.

 

"Because, it's not good for the baby!" Jungkook yelled out over the wind.

 

"What did you say?!" Hoseok cried out, nearly rolling over in the bed of the truck. 

 

"I said," Jungkook yelled out, a smile on his face, "I can't sit out there this time, it's not good for the baby!"

 

Jimin was staring at Jungkook, jaw slacked, eyes wide. Taehyung, who was sitting in the front seat, turned around and asked three or four times what had been said before it was repeated for him, and then there was a clamor of awkward hugs and, "Oh my god!" being yelled out across the truck.

 

Seokjin, calm as could be, kept his eyes on the road for the most part, but Dongsoo saw him holding onto Jungkook's hand, as it rested against that broad shoulder.

 

"Namjoon!" Kiara was shrieking excitedly into her cell phone. "Listen! Jungkook is pregnant!"

 

There was a muffled scream of a sound on the other end, and then Dongsoo heard someone yelling. He looked back behind the truck to see the van Yoongi was driving right behind them. Namjoon was half-hanging out of the passenger-side van window, waving his arm and whooping while Yoongi looked exasperated at him.

 

"Yahoo!" Namjoon shrieked, waiting until Jungkook stuck his head partway out of the little window to wave back at him. Dongsoo shook his head, laughing at their antics. Yoongi convinced Namjoon to get his ass back in his seat, if the barking from Kiara's speaker phone could be deciphered accurately from what the others claimed to have heard, and they continued their trip.

 

Jimin clung protectively to Jungkook, practically petting him as he told him everything was going to be just fine, and that they would be looking out for him extra-carefully.

 

Dongsoo could hear Jungkook's teasing tones as he complained that now no one would let him eat what he wanted and wouldn't let him do anything fun. But there was definitive notes of happiness that seemed to burst out from the cab that Dongsoo didn't know how to react to.

 

"I'm so glad," Hoseok sighed next to him. "And so worried , too. He's been wanting this so badly, words can't even describe it." Dongsoo looked over at Hoseok in curiosity. The Alpha was a strange one, to Dongsoo, who was not used to a gently protective aura, a soft Alpha who almost gave off a feeling that made you want to protect him instead, while also being so perplexed by what was going on behind the surface that he could likely never figure him out.

 

"Is he really ready for a baby?" Dongsoo queried, his voice lower so that they didn't draw Jungkook's attention, the Omega loudly declaring to the rest of the cab all the foods he had been craving that everyone needed to go and fetch for him.

 

Hoseok sent Dongsoo a smile. "He seems so young himself, right? But we all raised him, you see. He's like our first community pup, in a lot of ways. I wasn't too keen on him growing up and having pups already, myself. But he's grown a lot." Hoseok gave a wistful smile, as though partially in mourning over this new state of affairs. "He wants that baby more than anything, Dongsoo, and so does Seokjin. They have so much love to give to a pup, I don't think we even have an inkling of it yet."

 

"Mm..." Dongsoo realized that he wouldn't know, but he could trust the words of so many in the pack who would chorus in agreement.

 

To that, the Alpha looked over at him with a curious look, and nudged him shoulder to shoulder. "What about you? Do you want pups someday?"

 

Dongsoo furrowed his brows, and thought about it for a moment. “Not long ago, I didn't think I would be alive by now, to be honest. Having pups wasn't really something on my mind, then." Hoseok gave an acknowledging nod, waiting. Dongsoo looked at the van behind them, just able to make out Yoongi driving, Namjoon bent around to face the car, handing something to one of the pups. "But...as much as I enjoy them, I don't think I want any of my own."

 

Hoseok nodded, the wind pulling at his hair and drawing his bangs across his eyes, forcing him to hold a hand there to keep them from stinging. "That's fair, though. I was just curious if you felt weird having so many pups around you."

 

Shaking his head, Dongsoo said, “No, not really. I like that there’s life going on outside my door, but I think I enjoy having my own room just fine. I like my alone time and the time helping around the house. I like being called ‘uncle.’” He smiled, a bright expression that changed his entire countenance into a much softer one. “I like being a part of the family.”

Chapter Text

Namjoon ran a hand across his face, smelling the greasy aroma of cooked food filling the kitchen, still lingering from breakfast. "This is a fucking mess ," he mumbled. Kiara had cried out for some help in preparing lunch, as things were stressful and busy.

 

It was getting cold out, and nearly everyone was feeling rotten, sick, or both.

 

The suspected route was through Naiara, who had recently started going to preschool. There were no worries about Naiara making friends - she had been hugging and kissing on at least half a dozen of her playmates by the end of the day, as big-hearted and cuddly as she was. And those same kisses had been passed among every single wolf in the pack before they had heard about a flu going around the preschool.

 

It was only a matter of time, of course.

 

Unsurprisingly, Kwangie fell next, always prone to illnesses and injuries. The two of them had dozed and cried off an on for a day or two before Yoongi complained of a horrid headache. He had ended up on the couch, a pup on either side as they sat and cuddled, complaining and watching television and eating apple sauce.

 

Then, Hoseok got sick. He sighed and refused to say how bad he was feeling until he nearly cried into his coffee, and Yoongi yanked him to the couch to join in on their mutual misery.

 

"You get sick, just like everybody else, so deal with it," Yoongi gruffly comforted.

 

Within the next day, Seokjin was laying in bed, his alarm going off as he groaned into his pillow, and Jungkook reached over to kiss his forehead and found it feverish. He was banned to the couch, as well, and Jungkook started taking anything labeled 'immune booster' that he could, his stomach now swollen and the baby inside well on its way. He couldn't afford to get super sick right now - he was already sore and miserable! So the pull-out couch was extended and the sick ones were put in a sort of segregated community in the living room.

 

Taehyung boasted for the first three days that he never got sick, that his immune system was wonderful. Kiara said nothing to this, quietly sipping her coffee. By day four, Jimin came downstairs with a frown, saying that he had felt a bit nauseated the night before, and now both he and the Beta were sick, as well.

 

Not even Dongsoo was free from the germs, starting to feel dizzy and aching terribly. Eventually, he slunked downstairs and quietly asked Kiara for medicine, and she added him to her list of patients.

 

Luckily, by the time Dongsoo fell prey to the infiltrating virus, Kwangie and Naiara had gotten past the worst of their ill feeling and were up and around again, although still napping often and still almost as needy, given that most of the adults were laying in bed or sleeping constantly. But life was in the midst of a juggle, either way.

 

"What are we making?" Namjoon queried, looking over Kiara's shoulder as she was pulling out ingredients.

 

"We don't have much meat right now, so I'm making a soup of mostly the leftover vegetables," she explained. "Would you please chop up the onions?"

 

"Sure, babe," he ran a hand across her shoulder as he moved to retrieve a cutting board.

 

"And don't forget to cut them small, for the picky eaters."

 

"Mmhmm." Namjoon pulled out a knife and laid it on the cutting board, then proceeded to spend what felt like an embarrassingly long amount of time pulling the papery outer peel of the onion off, dropping it into the compost. "You still feeling okay?"

 

"Well, I'm exhausted , but I don't feel sick, if that's what you mean," she shrugged, setting saltines out onto the dining room table to serve with the soup later. "But Jungkook has been a big help. I'm trying to keep him out of the living room as much as possible, though."

 

There were footsteps upstairs, and by proceed of elimination, Namjoon figured it was Dongsoo who has rushed to the bathroom, slamming the door. Many of the 'patients' had been throwing up, been fighting fevers, or were generally sore and sickly.

 

"Where's he at now?" Namjoon asked, starting to cut the onions. His concern for the tips of his fingers meant that he generally settled his knife against the onion then used one arm to chop down roughly, often making crooked cuts and fumbling around to keep it from flying off the cutting board.

 

"I sent him to get some juice," Kiara said, and she smiled quietly. "Yoongi won't admit it, but he likes the kids' juice and I think it makes him feel a bit better." She looked over her shoulder, giving a cursory glance at her Mate, and asked, "How are you feeling, hot stuff?"

 

Namjoon gave a little smile, shrugging one shoulder. "I feel fine. You know what they say, idiots can't catch colds."

 

"That's why I'm worried," Kiara sighed. "If you go down, I'll be the last wolf standing to defend the castle."

 

"And what an excellent wolf you are, holding down the fort constantly like this." He leaned in, kissing her on both cheeks, and then the forehead, before he returned to his onion chopping. Kiara, who was looking visibly drained, stood and watched him chop for a few minutes, looking a little apprehensive at his chopping skills, before she turned and started setting out a pot and heating up a saute pan.

 

They shuffled around the kitchen, and within a few minutes they had olive oil, garlic, and Namjoon's onions sizzling away in a pan, while Kiara handed the Lead Alpha carrots and celery to chop up for the soup. Herself, she started to cook a small two pounds of meat, hoping beyond hope that it would stretch across the whole household in this format.

 

"Maybe I'll add drop dumplings," she suggested, checking and seeing that they had flour and eggs. "It'll be more filling that way."

 

"Sounds good to me." Namjoon sent his reply breezily, not really caring too much what Kiara made specifically, as he trusted her good taste and very rarely left her table unsatisfied. He then looked back and forth, noting that the kitchen was clear. He peeked under the kitchen table for a brief moment, seeing the empty pile of blankets there. Then he turned to Kiara, and mumbled, "Is it just me, or is Jungkook very... needy lately, with the pup on the way and all?"

 

Kiara looked over at Namjoon, stirring her sweating onions, and smiled. "You say that like it's surprising. He's hormonal, give him a bit of a break."

 

"I know, I know, but...since Seokjin got sick, he's been very needy...toward us , right? I'm not the only one that noticed that?"

 

To this, the Omega gave a bit of a grimace. "Well, can you blame him? It's one thing to be pregnant when you've had a great family to support you always and you've seen it happen. For Jungkook, a lot of things are very new to experience, much less pregnancy. So of course when he's feeling up and down, you're who he turns to for consistency.  He looks up to you, Namjoon.”

 

Namjoon worked his mouth, feeling a little guilty for his comments, but it had simply caught him a bit off-guard, was all. Previously, when Jungkook got sick or was under stress, the task of physical affection would divert to one of the others, and Namjoon felt he was in charge of the more intellectual discussions or the calm re-centering of Jungkook's focus.

 

The front door opened, and Namjoon could hear Seokjin on the couch, giving loud, high-pitched whimpers that made the other sick wolves groan and complain on the couch. Poking his head through the opening to the living room, Namjoon could see Seokjin's hand sticking out from under the mass of blankets, the Alpha silently begging for his Mate to come and comfort him when he was sick and vulnerable.

 

"I can't, I'm sorry!" Jungkook whined back, walking past the couch, his Alpha continuing to pout. "It's for the baby!"

 

Namjoon turned to focus back on his vegetable-chopping, and Kiara started pulling spices out of the cupboard, triple-checking their labels. He turned to ask her how big she wanted the celery cut, when suddenly arms were wrapped around him from behind, and Jungkook's face was buried in Namjoon's neck, a hot breath there tickling the little hairs at the back of his head.

 

"Jungkook?"

 

Jungkook just gave a long, pitiful groan. "I'm sore and I'm cranky and I wanna cuddle him , Namjoon! But I don't wanna get sick! How dare they get sick right now?!"

 

Namjoon was still standing stiff and still in front of the celery, not sure what would be a comforting word of advice right now that wasn't something Jungkook had already heard a million times. "It sucks," was what Namjoon ended up with.

 

"It really sucks," Jungkook agreed. "Also, my hips hurt. And so do my shoulders. And my feet, too."

 

"Yeah?" Namjoon could think of not much else to help with, but he knew that it was very likely Jungkook just wanted to vent. He continued to cry in Namjoon's ear about this annoying thing and that, until eventually, the soup was on its way. Then, Namjoon moved to sit at the kitchen table, and Jungkook just sat in the seat next to him, leaning over toward Namjoon and pouting until the Alpha began to run a hand through his hair. This, at least, seemed to calm him down long enough that he and Kiara were able to discuss  the driving plans for taking Naiara to preschool the next morning. They also started discussions on when the next trip to the island would be.

 

"You know what would be nice?" Kiara sighed. "If we pooled in together and got a hot tub for the island for Christmas as a pack. Wouldn't it?"

 

"God, that sounds great." Namjoon closed his eyes, imagining late cool nights with a hot tub bubbling around them, soothing muscles and minds alike. "That's not a bad idea. They're expensive but if we all agree to pitch in a certain amount, we may be able to make it work. If not this Christmas, then maybe next Christmas."

 

Jungkook was, by this point, laying his cheek against Namjoon's shoulder, watching forlornly as Kiara checked on the soup.

 

"We would be spending Christmas on the island, right? I think that sounds reasonable enough. The hardest part will be everyone getting the time off work. And it'll be Dongsoo's first Christmas with all of us, so I wanna make it special for him, you know?"

 

"Yeah, I agree. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves with the budget, though..." Namjoon frowned. "I really should look for a better job. Something with more opportunities for promotions."

 

"But you love working at the hotel." Kiara stirred at the pot, tilting her head to one side as she heard Naiara's voice in the hallway, but she was just going to the living room to get a toy she liked, before she went upstairs to play in the bedroom.

 

"Yeah, but we should be contributing more evenly, and we're gonna need a bigger place sooner rather than later."

 

"Well, as we discussed before, moving to the island for a few months would be rough, but it might help with expenses..."

 

"Everyone's work is here, though, and I don't want us to get split up for the long-term, even if it's a short long-term." Namjoon sighed. He turned to browse on his phone for a bit, absentmindedly petting Jungkook's hair as he did so. The feel of the Omega’s hair between his fingers reminded him of something, and he looked up at Kiara with a little smile. "Did you hear that Dongsoo is planning to write a book?"

 

"Yes, isn't that really exciting? He said he wasn't sure what direction he wants to go with it, though. Whether he would rather do fiction or non-fiction, and such. But I think it's fabulous that he found a place he wants to head towards."

 

"Yeah..." Namjoon sighed, feeling warmth blossom in his chest. He and Kiara had been concerned that Dongsoo would want to leave the pack primarily due to feelings of guilt or inequality if he could not contribute to some sort of work in the household, so Kiara had encouraged him to start taking in part of the household chores like everyone else, and other little things along those lines. It was a relief to hear that Dongsoo had a passion to focus on, and a possibly monetary one would likely give him some extremely important peace of mind. "Publishing can be a bit tricky, though. Maybe it would help if he got an agent, once he has something written out or arranged properly for showcasing what he's going for. I think one of my coworkers tried to publish once, I'll ask him how it all works."

 

"I bet he'd like that. He seems to have an idea of what he's doing, though. He's always reading something, so I would assume he’s read up on publishing. It's nice when he takes Naiara and Kwangie to the library for the day. I think it does all three of them good to be out and about and to get some new things to read. Apparently on Tuesday there was a story time and they stayed to listen to it. The pups were thrilled and beyond hyper by the time they came home."

 

"Namjoon..." Jungkook asked. "I don't know if I can stand up again on my own, will you help me?"

 

"Of course, Kook," he reached down, ready to scoop Jungkook up carefully. His entire stomach was almost comically swollen, and he looked tired, grimacing as he stood up.

 

"Sitting on the floor this morning was a mistake,”  he commented dryly. "And to think there's still so much time ahead of me." He patted his stomach. "Also, you aren't allowed to get a hot tub unless I can use it, too."

 

"Not until little Sooyeon has decided to grace us with her presence," Kiara warned with a smile. "Thanks for helping, Namjoon. Would you mind checking up on the kids for me?"

 

"Sure thing." Namjoon started toward the stairs, a still-dejected Jungkook making his slow path toward his room as Namjoon went past him, hearing a pittering of little feet running across the upstairs hall carpet. He smiled, peeking up into the landing in time to see a small, curly-haired form rush into the room that belonged to Jimin and Taehyung. He stepped over the baby gate at the top of the stairs and went inside the bedroom, only to find that the room was still dark and, apparently, empty save for the twins' beds. He peered down into them, finding both twins in their cribs. Joonhee was sleeping softly, her hand still gripping at the footsie part of her footsie pajamas, even in her sleep, and Taeyeon was balancing herself on her feet with one hand gripping tightly to the bars of her crib. When she saw Namjoon, she began to bounce up and down in an excited greeting, her diapered butt jutting out behind her as she smiled up at him, wanting to be picked up and to go play. Namjoon leaned in, picking the baby up and holding her easily in one arm as his free arm turned the light on and glanced around the room, expecting to see Naiara popping out from some corner or from under the bed. He smiled when he saw her feet sticking out from underneath the curtain, which did not quite reach the floor.

 

"I wonder where my little Nai-nai went to?" he asked the room in question. Taeyeon leaned against his shoulder, sucking on her little thumb and laying quietly against his shoulder. Namjoon could see the tiny toes underneath the curtain wriggling with anticipation. "Do you think she's underneath the crib, Taeyeon?" He leaned down, peering beneath the wooden bars of the crib, but of course saw no one. He heard a giggle. "Perhaps she's in one of the dresser drawers?" He opened up the top drawer of the dresser a mere half inch, mostly making the noise to be more convincing than actually checking inside it. "Wherever could she be?" There came a thrilled little chirrup from behind the curtain, and then suddenly Naiara threw aside the heavy curtain, making a great attempt at an intimidating growl so that her father 'jumped' back in surprise and shock, stepping back a little and going, "Woah! A dragon!"

 

"Rawww!" Naiara growled, crinkling her fingers to look like claws as she took dramatic stomps across the floor.

 

"Oh no! She's coming to get us, Taeyeon!" He shook the baby's arm a little, making her wriggle and laugh. They bolted off into the hallway, Naiara chasing after him. Namjoon knelt onto the ground, letting Naiara crawl up him as he securely held Taeyeon above the ground. The curly-headed girl buried herself into her father's chest, clawing at him with soft, tiny fingers that grabbed at his shirt.

 

"Rawww! I'm eating you, daddy," Naiara called out, even though she was using only her hands in order to attack him in her gentle manner.

 

"You are?! Oh my goodness!" He sat up on the floor, scooping Naiara up in his free arm and pulling her close, nuzzling her cheek to make her giggle and try to escape. "Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness you're eating me?!" 

 

"Yeah!" Naiara crowed, then threw her arms around his neck, distracted from her game long enough to plant a kiss on his cheek, right against the dimple that rested there. Namjoon beamed, his chest feeling so full and proud that he thought it was about to explode. He allowed Taeyeon to playfully tug at one of his earlobes, in lieu of kissing Naiara on the forehead, holding her close.

 

"I love you very much, princess. Even if you are a dragon that's eating me," he chuckled, making Naiara smile and 'raw' again, throwing herself against her father in another attack.

 

They tumbled on the floor for a few more minutes, until Namjoon's arms got tired of holding Tayeon at that angle. He let the baby down, watching her crawl around the upstairs landing. The baby gate deterred her path, but she grappled at the white plastic, pulling on it and cooing toward the downstairs, where she could hear Taehyung's deep voice talking quietly to Kiara.

 

"Princess, do you know where Kwangie is?" Namjoon asked. The little wolf perked up, looking back and forth among the various doors she could choose from.

 

"He got stolen by the dragon!" Naiara gasped. "In there!" She pointed toward Dongsoo's open doorway. Namjoon shook his head, following the toddler into the open room. Dongsoo, who must have still been in the bathroom, was not in his room at the moment. But Kwangie was laying on his bed, head on the pillow and tiny feet laid out straight before him, a large picture book held in his small hands. He looked up when Naiara came bursting in, clambering up the bed.

 

"Kwan'ie!" she called out, her voice suddenly imitating her mother as she went, "Whate'er are you doin', child?"

 

"Readin'," he replied quietly, his toes moving up and down as he glanced over.

 

"Kids, I know we told you to leave Dongsoo's room alone," Namjoon gently chastised. "This is his special place." 

 

"But uncle Dongsoo is gonna..is gonna..." Naiara paused, distracted by something on the wall. She twisted her hair around her finger, the other palm laid against her own soft cheek. "...read to us."

 

"Well, that's very nice of him, but daddy can read to you, let's go on daddy's bed."

 

"Noooooo!" Kwangie protested, kicking his feet and trying to roll away toward the wall. Naiara, seeing the distraction, decided instead to stand up and start jumping on the bed, giggling when her father scooped her up, Kwangie in the other arm. He went and dropped them both on his bed, then went to retrieve Taeyeon. When he returned, both the toddlers were giggling, dropping off different sides of the bed and starting to bolt around him toward Dongsoo's room again. Namjoon sighed, going after them once more, and then another time.

 

Eventually, they grew tired of the game, and Namjoon shut the door to both Dongsoo’s room and his room, then waved the picture-filled children's book above them. "You want me to read? Or not?" 

 

"Read!" Naiara called out, flopping back onto the bed. Kwangie, however, was standing near the doorway, reaching up and wriggling the handle, tears already in his eyes.

 

"Don'soooooo..." he started to wail pitifully, and Namjoon felt his heartstrings plucked at most painfully. He knelt down and picked up Kwangie, who fought hard to continue gripping at the door handle and started to cry as Namjoon attempted distraction.

 

"Kwangster, listen, we're gonna all read together here, okay? Dongsoo is feeling very sick, so we need to let him rest, okay? You don't want him to stay sick, right?" 

 

Kwangie hesitated, eyes full of tears, nose already dribbling snot. Namjoon reached over to Kiara's side of the bed, where a box of tissues lay in wait at all times. "Here, blow," he instructed. As Kwangie blew as hard as his tiny body could into the tissue, Namjoon patted his head. Taeyeon crawled around on the floor, trying to pull herself up into a standing position against the side of the bed. She managed it after a few tries, cooing as she looked up over the bedspread at the three of them curling up against the pillows. Kwangie and Naiara bickered over their positions for a few moments before deciding on which of Namjoon's sides they would be laying on. He opened the book, reading out the title and author.

 

" The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein," he read. Kwangie's thumb instantly went into his mouth, tears now having subsided. Namjoon's brow crumpled. "Oh, this is a good one." 

 

"I know, daddy," Naiara informed him. "Mommy read it already, like a hun'red five billion times before."

 

"Ah, I see," he allowed. Then, he cleared his throat. "Once there was a tree..." He turned the page. "And she loved a little boy."

 

Kwangie giggled, poking his finger at the drawing of the small boy's shoe that was poking into the page. Namjoon allowed him the moment of mirth, which Naiara joined in on as Kwangie made cartoonish stepping sound effects with his mouth.

 

"And everyday the boy would come, and he would gather her leaves, and make them into crowns and play king of the forest."

 

"Lookit his nose!" Kwangie laughed.

 

"It's baboop!" Naiara declared, poking out her finger and pretending it was a pointy nose. The two of them were very amused at this, and Namjoon booped both of their noses to encourage the laughter before they settled back in for the next page.

 

"He would climb up her trunk," Namjoon read. He pointed to one side. "Look, there are his hands and feet, he's climbing that tree! And here are his shoes." 

 

"Daddy," Naiara said, calmly laying a hand on her father's wrist. She waited until he looked her way before she gave him a reprimanding glance. "Please read. "

 

"Oh, my bad, princess," he chuckled. "I'll get back to it, then." 

 

"Thank you, daddy," she said, giving him another cheek kiss.

 

So they continued to read the story, taking breaks to point out different funny details in the very simplistic black and white drawings. Despite Namjoon's best dramatic voices and reading style, he did not quite think they understood the depth and sadness of the bittersweet ending, but that was okay. It was an accomplishment that they reached the ending of the book at all, and he felt he had earned a gold star for that one.

 

"Namjoon!" Kiara called up the stairwell. "The soup's ready!" 

 

"Thank you!" Namjoon called back, not sure if she was able to hear him. Taeyeon was poking around at the door jamb, still preoccupied with the task of learning how to move, so Namjoon started to shuffle the little ones toward the door.

 

"Let's go eat some soup with mommy, okay? Are you hungry?" 

 

"Yes!" Naiara shrieked, clasping her twin fists in front of her and giving a bit of a hop. Kwangie seemed disinterested, remaining on the bed and flipping through the pages of The Giving Tree with silent reflection.

 

"Come on, Kwangie, you too." He scooped up the toddler, then Taeyeon, and Naiara helped him by opening up the door. Normally, Namjoon's longer legs could (if he was careful) help him over the baby-gate, even on the stairs. But when holding two precious packages and having another little one dancing around his feet, he had to set them down to unlock the gate first. Naiara led the way, giving her mother a big hug around the knees before she crawled up into her usual seat, finding her bowl there waiting for her.

 

"You need me to help serve the troops, hon?" Namjoon asked, letting Kiara lean up to give him a peck on the lips.

 

"Nope, they sick ones are already settled in with their bowls and their complaints," she smiled. "I'm gonna go get Joonhee, is she still napping?" 

 

"Yeah, she's in her crib." 

 

"Your bowl's already set out. Also, I think the kids have earned some TV time after they eat."

 

"Nice, I've been meaning to catch up on my educational television," Namjoon said. “Also, when you get back. The Giving Tree: Heartfelt story or over-romanticization of too much selfless giving to the wrong people? Let’s discuss.” She smiled at him, nodding before she went upstairs. He sat down at the table, and between the two adult wolves, they managed to feed both twins and the two toddlers without too much fuss. Eventually, Jungkook came back out of his room, joining them at the table with an air of mourning.

 

"Uncle Koo?" Naiara queried, looking up at her uncle, half-leaning down to catch her spoon with her mouth awkwardly. "What's your fav'rite soup?" 

 

Jungkook looked up, giving a sad half-smile, and went, "What's that, soup? I guess it's your mommy's soup. Does it taste good?"

 

"A-huh, very good." Naiara slurped. Kwangie took some coercing to even eat his food at all, and he rarely finished his plate, but Kiara was spending most of her time gently encouraging him.

 

Namjoon glanced over at Jungkook, noting the sadness of his posture as he actually, literally pouted into his bowl, and he noted the way Jungkook's cheeks were looking softer and rounder by the day as the weight was being put on. The Omega's hair looked mussed, as though he had just been laying on his bed, and his expression was devoid of the bright smile which Seokjin usually provided.

 

"It'll just be a few days," Namjoon promised. "Then he'll be up and around again. And I'm sure he'll return to his usual routine of spoiling you."

 

 "I'm not spoiled ," Jungkook frowned, but there was a small gleam of amusement twinkling in the corner of his eyes. "I just...." 

 

"You don't wanna get sick, sweetie," Kiara said. 

 

"I know, I know. But I'm just tired , and my back hurts, and I'm pregnant ." 

 

Just as he said this, Seokjin walked into the kitchen, wearing boxers and a haphazardly-placed animal-themed robe. "What? You're pregnant ?!" 

 

Jungkook looked up at his Mate, frowning. Namjoon could tell that the Omega would like nothing more than to rush over and snuggle against Seokjin's chest, perhaps pull himself into Seokjin's robe or find some way to annoy him playfully. 

 

"Yeah, and it's your fault ." 

 

"Wow, already we're at the stage of blaming me." Seokjin sniffed hard, wiping at his nose with some tissues he had brought with him. He opened up the fridge, peering inside.

 

"Whatcha looking for, Jinnie?" Kiara asked.

 

"Checking for that juice for Yoongi. He won't admit he likes it but he gets grouchy when he runs out. He also said he's craving eggs?"

 

"With ketchup!" Yoongi yelled out from the living room. Jungkook looked up with wide eyes, as though this was a shocking demand. Namjoon saw nothing special about it - Yoongi was always whiny when sick.

 

"Oh..." Seokjin said, turning toward Jungkook.

 

"I can make the eggs," Kiara said, a knowing smile on her face as she nudged at Seokjin's shoulders, sending him back to the living room with two glasses of juice. "I don't want you contaminating my kitchen with your germs."

 

"Fine, fine," Seokjin mumbled, "But I'll have you know that I would heal much faster if I had a certain body pillow."

 

"You mean me," Jungkook grumbled into his bowl of soup, looking dejected.

 

"Come on now, guys." Namjoon relinquished a weary sigh. "Isn't it enough we have four babies to take care of when everyone is sick? Do you all have to become babies, too?"

 

 "Yes," Jungkook and Seokjin said in unison, as Seokjin left the kitchen per Kiara's insistence. She sent Namjoon a smile, laughing lightly as she started pulling out a pan for Yoongi's eggs.

 

Namjoon took a turn feeding both the twins, and it was a few moments later when he noticed that Kiara was humming happily. He glanced over, seeing her doing a demure little dance, shaking her hips back and forth as she cracked eggshells.

 

"What's got you in such a chipper mood suddenly?" Namjoon arched an eyebrow at his Mate.

 

"Oh, nothing," she singsonged. Namjoon knew she was up to something, or knew something, but for the moment, he decided to let it be as it was - a mystery.

 

Ignoring the sounds of sniffles, nose-blowing, and indistinct groans from the living room, Namjoon helped the kids finish their soup and then shuffled them back upstairs into the master bedroom, turning on the television in there. It was a large, clunky, antiquated example of technology that took a few moments to turn on, and they had gotten it at a rummage sale ages ago. By the time the screen turned on, Namjoon had the toddlers settled on the bed and the twins in a playpen nearby. It didn't take them long to get sucked into a show, and Namjoon curled up on the bed next to them while they watched, soon transfixed as well himself.

 

Kwangie was watching the television, but he was still holding onto his book, hugging it to his chest as if he had forgotten he still had it.

 

Time passed quickly for the break in playtime, and Namjoon was starting to feel the warmth and comfort of a full belly with which he usually used to lull himself into a nice afternoon nap. But given that they were short on healthy hands that day, he sat up on the bed, drinking water occasionally to keep himself more widely awake and alert, in case he was needed. The twins got their diapers changed, and Kwangie had to use the bathroom. Since they were in the midst of potty-training, consistency was key here, but it left a hole in his line of defense with the kids, so when he returned to the bedroom he did a quick headcount of the children, and was relieved to find them all present.

 

He was having a pleasant afternoon with the kids, when there came a demure knock on the bedroom door. It was Kiara, who smiled around the door frame.

 

"TV time is over?" Namjoon asked, reaching over to wake his phone up and look at the time.

 

"Yeah, awhile ago." She moved into the room, brushing her red hair behind one ear and falling onto the bed next to Namjoon. He instantly started to run his hand through her hair, enjoying a moment with her near, and sensing how tired she was from the day.

 

"I think Dongsoo and Jimin are starting to feel a bit better," she commented, watching the television with her eyes but speaking quietly to Namjoon. "And Seokjin is about to go crazy if he doesn't get well enough to be near Jungkook. He keeps talking about how likely it is that he is no longer contagious, since he's showing symptoms." She chuckled a bit. "And Yoongi and Hoseok are having a bickering match because Yoongi bought the wrong tire pressure gauge last week."

 

"What?"

 

"Don't ask me," she shrugged, still smiling. "I'm just the messenger. Yoongi cried a bit, then swore some. I think they're in the hallway hugging right now so it should be alright. Just need a bit of time."

 

"I think Yoongi's feeling stressed about his job, and being away from home so much," Namjoon commented. "It'll be harder when Kwangie starts going to school, I think? Like I know preschool is a bit of a welcome relief for us, but... Yoongi hates being away from Kwangie..."

 

"Yeah..." Kiara rolled back, resting her head against Namjoon's chest, shuffling a bit until she found a comfortable position. "But it'll work out."

 

"Mm. In the meantime, I want to kiss my lovely Mate," Namjoon commented, leaning down and kissing her once, then thrice. "She has worked extremely hard while all the babies have been sick."

 

"It's cute, though," she said. "Seeing Taehyung and Seokjin all curled up together on the couch pouting. They look like toddlers."

 

"They've always been like that. Mom used to call them cuddle monsters." Namjoon sat up a little straighter, mentally preparing to turn the television off and break the magic spell of TV time. "Dad used to hate it."

 

"Did Seokjin really turn down the offer from your dad?" Kiara asked. Namjoon turned the television off, and was instantly met with protests from the local gremlins, who immediately started migrating over to cling to his legs as he held the remote.

 

"Yeah, he did. It was a big offer, too. I was told to pass along a message of passive-aggressive sadness and disownership, but Seokjin was already kind of disowned after the events of last year, so. We're not really surprised nor does it really change much, in the long run."

 

"I think he's happier here, with his brothers," Kiara murmured aloud. "But I'm glad he thought about it. I don't want him to have regrets down the line, you know?"

 

"There's a lot Seokjin regrets..." Namjoon opened the door, picking up one twin while Kiara grabbed the other, and they started to herd the kids out of the bedroom. "But I don't think any of those regrets include coming to live with us. As chaotic as life is."

 

~~~~

 

Seokjin stood outside his bedroom door, pouting as deeply as he could. If he was a smidgen more petty than he already was, he would have counted the hours since the last time he had been allowed to snuggle with Jungkook, but at this point, it didn't matter anymore. Risky or not, he was going in. He straightened his shoulders, stiffened his lip, and opened the door.

 

Jungkook was laying on the bed on his back, propped up by half a dozen pillows with his laptop in front of him as he watched some random Youtube show he'd been obsessed with lately. Seokjin could hear the tinny noise of the intro music playing for what seemed like the millionth time. He looked up when Seokjin entered, and then arched an eyebrow.

 

"Hey," he said. And god, he looked pretty. Seokjin liked to joke that Jungkook's skin color would one day turn into that weird blueish glow that his laptop emitted in the late hours of the night, but the truth was that he looked really pretty. He looked pretty in many lights, and Seokjin was just awkward enough to not know how to say it aloud to him most of the time. "What's up?"

 

Seokjin frowned more deeply, clenching his fists at his sides. "Against my better judgement, Jeon-Kim Jungkook, I'm moving back in."

 

Confused, Jungkook finally took on earbud out of his ear. "What? You're still quarantined, though."

 

"Don't care. 'M sick. Lemme in." And with that grumpy rebuttal, he started to crawl back into the bed, only barely giving Jungkook enough time to move his laptop to the side before Seokjin was faceplanted into one of his armpits, grunting and wriggling in closer.

 

"You're probably gonna get me sick," Jungkook tried to reason. But Seokjin knew better. He could hear the hesitation in Jungkook's voice. He took in a deep breath and let out a pitiful whining sound, nuzzling in so that his nose tickled against Jungkook's side, making him giggle.

 

"But you smell so...so nice," Seokjin whined. "And I'm sick . And you're so far away . And I'm probably not even contagious anymore!"

 

"Well..." Jungkook mumbled. "You are the trained doctor, after all."

 

"Yeah! And I had the....the cold medicine stuff."

 

A beat. Seokjin wondered if the cold medicine was clouding his brain a bit at the moment.

 

"And,” Jungkook said, “ I guess I've already been exposed to your germs...don't they say that mild exposure to germs is good for your immune system?"

 

"Immune system!" Seokjin mumbled, too deeply buried in sniffing out Jungkook's Scent with glee to give a damn what arguments he decided to go with anymore. He threw one leg over Jungkook's lap, tugging him a smidgen closer, and nuzzled into his neck, biting down gently just to get his attention. Jungkook gratefully gave in, wrapping himself around Seokjin as well as they could without disturbing the precariously comfortable position Jungkook had managed to find that didn't make his back ache.

 

"I missed you," Jungkook said at last, sighing as he held the Alpha. "I know it's stupid because we've been in the same house, but... I did."

 

"Mmph," Seokjin managed, feeling dizzy from his medicine in combination with the smell of Jungkook. He had been sweating a little, and the smell was particularly pungent today because of it. "Immune system! You know that article about those that smell good to you having complimentary immune systems? That's a particularly pungent concept."

 

"What?" Jungkook asked. Seokjin paused, sure that there was an explanation waiting somewhere coherently within his head to answer the Omega's question, but his mind had just gone blank and he wasn't sure what he had said in the first place.

 

So he settled for nuzzling in further, and once again declaring, "Immune system!" Jungkook chuckled, drawing him close.

 

"Just don't let Kiara or Yoongi find you in here, they'll get all worried."

 

"SooSoo asked for me to come so you could take care of me," Seokjin argued. "I heard her request it herself." He moved his head over a bit until he could talk to Jungkook's stomach. "SooSoo!" he called out. "Tell him to take better care of me, the bastard!"

 

"Don't say 'bastard' in front of the baby, you shithead." Jungkook lightly smacked Seokjin on the back of the head, and Seokjin laid his cheek against the bulge of Jungkook's stomach, smiling up at his Mate.

 

"Babies like to hear their parents' voices in the womb," Seokjin said. "We should sing to her sometime."

 

"Sure thing, Jinnie," Jungkook said, obviously humoring the Alpha. Seokjin was just about to lift his head up off Jungkook's stomach, in favor of curling up much more closely to the nice and flu-fighting smell of his Mate, when there suddenly came a strange little sensation against his cheek. Instantly, his eyes widened, and Jungkook's mouth fell agape, a smile waiting there.

 

"Woah! She kicked!" Seokjin exclaimed. They waited a moment, and then the feeling came again, a very gentle, almost ticklish flutter against the stomach that he felt against the apple of his cheek. He lifted his head to lay his hand there, looking up at Jungkook. "Do you think she missed hearing my voice, too?"

 

"Probably," Jungkook smiled. "Or maybe she's angry that you laid on top of her."

 

"Nonsense. She loves me."

 

"Loving someone and enjoying having them lay on top of you are two different things, Seokjin."

 

Seokjin didn't retaliate to this, instead distracted by the repeat of the experience. "She kicked again! Or elbowed, maybe."

 

"She's going to be doing a lot of that once she comes out, too," Jungkook sighed. "God, I'm not sure I'm ready for it."

 

"It's natural to feel worried, but you're gonna do great. You can take her to the library, I'll take her to skate parks--"

 

"Jin."

 

"You take her to her spelling bees, which she'll ace , by the way, and I'll take her to get her first piercing--"

 

" Jin ."

 

"Perfectly even, I say."

 

Jungkook gave up, falling back against his pillows once again and sending Seokjin a look.

 

"Y'know, I didn't think we'd end up like this, when you first walked into that front door."

 

"Hm?"

 

"The first day you came here. When I accidentally Bonded with you, and I was hiding under the table. And I thought by the way you looked at me that you didn't like me."

 

Seokjin gave a smile, curling up against into Jungkook's embrace, one hand still on the Omega's stomach. "I thought you were really adorable, hiding out down there."

 

"And going to the island the first time with you, and realizing I liked you...and that you were avoiding me because you liked me, too." Jungkook paused, his fingertips reaching behind Seokjin's neck, starting absently to massage there. "And Jimin Presenting, Taehyung trying to claim Jimin."

 

Seokjin gave a snort of laughter. "It was a big complicated misunderstanding."

 

"And when you left because of the whole Jae thing," Jungkook murmured, more quietly now. "I thought you might take forever to come back, but you did come back."

 

"Oh," Seokjin looked up, remembering something half-forgotten from quite a long time ago. "I don't think I ever told you. But you remember that message you sent me when I was gone? The one I replied to?"

 

Jungkook paused, crinkling his brow. "Which one?"

 

"Well, you sent me a message about why you liked me. It came at the exact moment I really needed to hear it, too. That's why I wrote 'Thank you' back that time. It was just what I needed, then, and somehow, you knew it." Seokjin paused, considering. "Maybe that was a Bond thing, too. It's kind of hard to tell, I guess."

 

"As long as it keeps the sex great, I don't care what's Bond and what's just us," Jungkook shrugged. "But now that you mention it, I do remember that text. It was a little late so I thought you wouldn't even see it until you woke up."

 

"Well, I'm glad you sent it. It helped me get back to you, in a pretty big way." Seokjin nuzzled in closer. "And now here we are, after this much time has passed. And your brother is finally here, and safe. And we have a pup on the way, and the sex is still great."

 

"Except for the time with the peanut butter."

 

"Oh god," Seokjin groaned. "No, not the peanut butter thing. I wish it had never even existed."

 

"We learned a lot that day," Jungkook sighed, dramatic in his statement. "Especially what we do not want to do with peanut butter."

 

"I'm so sorry you ever suggested it."

 

"I'm experimental, so shoot me."

 

"I'm not into that, either," Seokjin sent back flippantly, making the Omega roll his eyes.

 

"But my point is, I never imagined it would get to here."

 

"And it never would have happened if you hadn't stolen my underwear on one cold winter's night," Seokjin declared. Jungkook reached over and smacked Seokjin's arm as hard as he could, making him let out a stuffy-sounding cry. "Hey! You know I'm right. I know my natural musk is very intoxicating." He looked up at Jungkook's face, wriggling his eyebrows in a comically not-sexy manner. "But yeah, I get what you mean."

 

They stopped talking for awhile, just sitting there and watching the slight movements of Jungkook's stomach as little Sooyeon occasionally kicked around inside, somehow silently vehement in her limited state. Seokjin reached over and entwined his fingers with Jungkook, the joking now being set aside for a delicate moment.

 

"We'll probably be moving by the end of the summer," Seokjin commented. "And we won't be living in this house anymore." There was silence hanging about them in the room, and Jungkook wasn't responding. Seokjin tilted his head upward, seeing Jungkook staring at the wall with an unreadable expression. More gently, Seokjin said, "Jungkook?" 

 

The Omega inhaled sharply, then wiped a hand across the cheek that was further away from Seokjin, so he could only presume there had been tears on that side. "It'll be weird  moving somewhere else, you know? And what is gonna happen with my table? I mean, I know we're gonna logically need a bigger one, and I can't guarantee there'll be room for it in the new place, and it's silly to even keep a table for the sake of emotional security. Like, it's a table, not a photo of my dead parents, right?"

 

Seokjin didn't reply at first, just watching Jungkook's expression. Then, he leaned up on one elbow so his face was closer to Jungkook's, and his voice got deeper, still a bit stuffy from the cold, but he tried to use more dulcet, sincere tones so that the depth of his words could be conveyed.

 

"Jungkook, everyone knows that table means the world to you. Of course we'll keep it. As long as it can stand on four legs, we'll fight to keep it, okay?"

 

Several moments passed, and Seokjin waited for the words to sink in, knowing Jungkook needed a second or two from time to time in order to let a reality sink in, to realize that something was real, and not just something being said in empty words. Then, he sniffed, tears starting to fall down.

 

"I just... I need it. I don't even go under there very much anymore but--" 

 

"But whatever, we're keeping it. I'll fight anyone that says otherwise." 

 

Jungkook took in a shaky breath, resting his hand on his stomach and taking deeper breaths. "Okay..."

 

"Okay?" 

 

The Omega looked over at him, giving a little smile. "Yeah..." 

 

He nuzzled in closer, and Seokjin really hoped Jungkook wouldn't get sick, and he really hoped that the move later next year would go smoothly, and that the baby would be completely healthy, and he really hoped that there was plenty of room for the table.

 

"And for the record," Seokjin said quietly. "I'm glad things worked out the way they did. I wouldn't change a thing."

 

"Wow, that's amazing," Jungkook said with a smile. "I wouldn't change a thing, either."'

Chapter Text

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.

 

THE END