Yoongi looks up from where he's kneeling at his son's feet, expertly lacing up his shoes whilst his son shuffles and kicks his feet.
"What is it, Soobin-ah?"
Soobin takes a second to ponder over his question before he speaks, if he even has a question in the first place and isn't just demanding his father's attention (he does that a lot, doesn't ask anything, just grins and Yoongi always grins back, can never resist, even when Soobin has interrupted him when he's on the phone or working.)
"Why do I have to go to school? I wanna watch Pokemon." He plasters an exaggerated pout on his face, looks down at Yoongi with his evil little puppy-dog eyes, knows that Yoongi's defences are lowered in the early morning. But Yoongi's prepared for this. He's spent hours sifting through parenting forums reading up on the first day of school, thought about how he'd convince Soobin that school is a good thing, that it's not just a place they put children to suffer all day while their parents live it up. He knows Soobin is nervous, he is too.
"You have to go so you can be all smart when you grow up, Soobinie. And then you can do anything you want when you're big. Can't be an astronaut if you don't go to school."
Soobin pauses for a moment, narrows his eyes at Yoongi before asking "Namjoon-hyung says I'm smart now. Is Namjoonie-hyung a liar?"
Yoongi chuckles, stands to fetch Soobins small backpack and his own lunch from the table. "He's not a liar, honey. But you want to read the books he buys you, right? School will help you."
Soobin stands, lets Yoongi wrestle the tiny backpack onto his back. Namjoon and Seokjin bought the bag for him for his birthday earlier in the year. It's blue, covered in tiny doodles of dinosaurs and has a matching water bottle in the pocket on the side. Namjoon and Seokjin have a habit of spoiling Soobin, claims they just love the little guy too much. While Yoongi won't argue with that, he knows that they're just trying to lessen the burden of raising a kid in Seoul. He thanks them in his own way, little gestures that show he appreciates how much they help him out.
Soobin seems to have considered what Yoongi told him, polite despite his nerves, says "Okay," goes towards the door and waits patiently for his dad so they can leave. Yoongi grabs his own bag, takes the keys off the shelf and locks the door behind them.
It's a short walk to the school, 20 minutes at most, and Yoongi figures that won't be too bad for Soobin's tiny child legs each day. The walk is pleasant, Yoongi haven given it a practice run a few nights ago so he could work out the shortest route. They walk past so many residential buildings which match their own, a park, a dog cafe which Soobin always begs to go into. They're walking past it, chatting about how squid swim when Yoongi hears a faint "Hyung" shouted in the distance. He looks around, scans the area, curious to see who's yelling in the busy city streets during rush hour.
One man catches his eye amongst the crowds, walking out of a convenience store just ahead of them. He's tall, vaguely familiar, toothy smile sent in Yoongi's direction. Beside him, a young girl clutches onto his hand as she eats a partially wrapped roll of kimbap. Her hair is pulled into a ponytail, a short fringe hiding her forehead. The man waves a hand at Yoongi, shouts "Yoongi-hyung!" over the commuters between them.
"Who's that Appa?" Soobin asks, tugging gently at Yoongi's sleeve. He can see the man half-jogging over, weaving past people with the girl still attached to his hand
"Not sure, honey. Why don't we wait here and find out, yeah?" Now that the man is closer, Yoongi starts to recognise those bright eyes, the round nose that takes up just enough of his face to be prominent, but not overwhelming. Jeon Jeongguk. My, has he grown since Yoongi last saw him. He's larger now, much more buff than he was as a teen. He's grown into his facial features too, his jawline visible and baby fat gone. His hair is wavy, parted and falling on either side of his forehead, ends hitting his cheekbones, bouncing as he heads towards them.
Jeongguk stops a few steps away from the pair, eyes wide as he whispers "hyung?"
"Jeonggukkie." Yoongi's frozen, trapped in place by Jeongguks warm gaze as he admires the man in front of him. They stand there staring at each other for slightly longer than Yoongi would like, no words spoken.
"It's been a while, hyung," Jeongguk says, pokes his tongue into his cheek as he smirks at Yoongi. Yoongi can't fight the grin that takes over his face.
"It certainly has." Yoongi feels rather shy, thinks that he absolutely did not expect to run into a now-ridiculously-good-looking Jeon Jeongguk , in Seoul of all places.
The girl standing just behind Jeongguk takes a step forward, taps on his arm impatiently. "Appa, we're gonna be late!" and proceeds to make a whiney noise so dramatic that Yoongi chuckles.
Jeongguk checks his watch, makes a mildly distressed face and a disgruntled noise as he notices the time. "Ah, hyung, I'll have to get going. This little princess needs to get to school soon." He gestures to the girl, who glowers at him, stomps her tiny little foot down on the concrete below them. "Sooyoung-ah, be polite please. This is Min Yoongi, can you say hello to him?"
The girl sticks her arm straight out, waits for Yoongi's own, which he supplies. She grips his large hand fairly tightly, shakes it with a shallow bow. "Hello, Min Yoongi-ssi."
Yoongi smiles, says "Pleasure to meet you, Sooyoung, was it?" A nod.
Jeongguk grins at them, looks behind Yoongi and spots Soobin standing behind Yoongi, one arm wrapped around him and with his hand reaching up into Yoongi's pocket. "Who's this handsome chap, hm?" He asks to the both of them, squatting down to be on the same level as the child.
"This is Soobin," he says, puts an arm behind the boys back to gently encourage him forwards, but Soobin tries to stand his ground. "Soobin-ah, can you say hello to Jeongguk and Sooyoung, dear?" Soobin peeks out from behind Yoongi's leg, looks at them with his wide eyes and whispers out something that sounds like a 'hello'. Yoongi smiles down at him, apologises to Jeongguk for his shy son.
Sooyoung however, doesn't hesitate to hold her hand out to the boy, expecting him to shake it like she did with Yoongi, but Soobin nuzzles his face into his father's jeans to hide himself. Sooyoung doesn't seem to take no for an answer, so she grabs one of Soobins hands with both of her own and shakes them together. Soobin looks up at her, a look of astonishment on his face.
Jeongguk says her name, tells her to leave Soobin alone if he's feeling shy. "I'm sorry, I think I may spoil her a bit much" he says, tilting his head as if to say 'what can you do'. Yoongi understands that, thinks it's hard not to give your child anything and everything they want, thinks he would go to the end of the earth if it meant that Soobin could be happy.
Jeongguk looks back to Soobin, gives him a friendly smile as he waves to the boy. "Oh look hyung, matching uniforms!" He points between the two children, excited grin on his face.
Yoongi smiles too, knows that their kids going to the same school means he'll hopefully be seeing a lot more of Jeongguk. It's not that he isolates himself, but as a single parent working in the big city, it's difficult for Yoongi to find people he can relate to. Having never been the most outgoing person, he instead sticks to his college friends, who love Soobin so much that he never has to doubt them when they try to take care of her, lessen his burden. Not that his son is a burden, he would never think that way, but they understand the difficulties of raising a kid, the way it takes over your life, leaves little room for you to relax, to do things you enjoy. And if Yoongi could turn back time, he would never even consider doing things differently. Soobin is the greatest thing that's ever happened to him, the beautiful result of some questionable decisions made during college.
"Shall we walk together then?" he asks, leaning down to grab his sons tiny hand.
Jeongguk does the same, takes Sooyoung's hand and says, "I know a shortcut", punctuates it with a tilt of the head and a wink that makes Yoongi's heart beat double-time. He can feel the blood rush to his face, a heat that makes him panickedly turn his head away, pretend to look at something across the street so that he isn't caught blushing like a teenager.
His school crush on Jeongguk seems to have lingered, but Yoongi won't worry about it - knows he's just been reminded of his youth, and his puppy crush was quite intense for those few years, considering that they had rarely talked one-on-one, both introverts who took comfort in the group environment where neither had to participate, happy to just fade into the background without being alone. But they've clearly both matured since then, almost a decade of time passing in a whirlwind.
So they walk together towards the school, children in tow as they catch up on life. Yoongi learns that Sooyoung has been attending this school since last year, a year older than Soobin. Upon hearing this, Sooyoung turns to the boy, proclaims that she'll show him around, but he just hides again, nervous around new people. Jeongguk and his daughter live a block away from Yoongi, having to walk just a few minutes more each morning and afternoon. He tells Yoongi about the gym he works at nearby, says a friend got him an interview, says it's been a lifesaver since he had to drop out of college in his freshman year, baby in tow. Yoongi doesn't remember Jeongguk as athletic, but then he thinks there's maybe a lot he doesn't know about Jeongguk, never having made the effort to know him other than polite small talk and conversations with others he'd overhead over the years.
Yoongi also responds to Jeongguk's questions, tells him about the non-profit he works at with Namjoon and Seokjin, which helps disadvantaged kids across the city. Yoongi does a lot of the administrative work for the organisation, contacting potential donors, looking for funding anywhere he can find it, but he also runs music classes during school holidays. It's a way to give kids opportunities Yoongi wishes he'd had growing up, keeps them from causing trouble on the streets and gives them a creative outlet for their emotions. Jeongguk looks at him the entire time as Yoongi explains the organisation, says "wow hyung," looks at Yoongi with a smile so fond, Yoongi feels as though he might implode.
They near the school after almost ten minutes of chatting. Yoongi feels a bit strange, thinks this mix of excitement and nerves is not great for his body. He's thrumming slightly, feels his hand tremble a little against his phone where it's tucked inside his pocket. He's too full of adrenaline, knows logically that Soobin will be fine at school, that he won't run off or get hurt, but some instinctive part of his brain is telling him to pick the kid up and run in the opposite direction. He won't, knows to fight that urge. But it's difficult to relax when he feels as though he's throwing his son into the wolves den.
Jeongguk seems to notice the stiffness in Yoongi, notice that he's grown quieter now that they're in sight of the school building. He gently puts a hand onto Yoongi's shoulder, says "It'll be alright hyung. Sooyoung will look after him." And it probably shouldn't be as comforting as it is, but Yoongi feels the tension flow away from his body, dance on the breeze as it dissipates in the distance. He gives a soft smile to Jeongguk, receives one in return. They separate once they get to the doors, Sooyoung wanting to go to her classroom on her own.
When they walk into the classroom, hand in hand, Soobin flinches a little at the group of children running around the room. Yoongi squeezes his hand reassuringly, drops to a squat as he tries to reassure his son. "It's alright, honey boy. Maybe you can make some friends and join in one day, hm?" and he remembers how difficult it is being shy, knows that those words didn't feel helpful when he was young and afraid of the world. But he isn't entirely sure what to do about it, thinks that he would home-school Soobin if he thought he could do it well. But he knows how important school is, knows that isolating Soobin like the boy wants would just turn him into a recluse. It's difficult to make Soobin do something against his will, but he knows it's for the best. He hugs his son goodbye, watches him waddle to his desk and take his pencil case out of his ridiculous backpack.
He walks out of the school feeling strange, thinks this is so monumental that he isn't quite sure what to do with himself now. Jeongguk walks up to him, says "Hyung, are you alright?" And Yoongi nods, he's alright, he thinks, except the emotion builds up a little and the tears that had been threatening to leave his eyes finally spring free. His face crumples at the embarrassment of crying in front of little Jeon Jeongguk, feels weak for being emotional, hates himself a little for feeling weak at being emotional. He puts a hand over his mouth, tries to turn away so that Jeongguk can't watch him fall apart.
But Jeongguk doesn't let him turn away.
Instead he places a hand on each of Yoongi's shoulders, holds him in place. "Hyung, can I hug you?" he asks, does so when Yoongi sniffs and gives a nod. He's tugged into Jeongguk's arms, lets out a little noise as his face hits Jeongguk's chest, buries himself in a little as Jeongguk holds him tightly, one hand gently rubbing his back as he hums soothingly into Yoongi's ear. He sways them a little, feels like a strange ballroom dance, but Yoongi feels weirdly safe here, enshrouded in Jeongguk's scent and body.
They stay like that for a few minutes, slowly swaying around on the pavement, just out of the way of some of the later commuters. Yoongi's tears dry up, and he attempts to wipe the small patch of dampness he left on Jeongguk's shirt, apologises for making a mess. Jeongguk laughs it off, says he's used to being covered in some sort of bodily fluid, a side effect of raising a kid, something Yoongi knows all too well. He steps out of Jeongguk's grip, takes a moment to smooth out his jacket before looking back up at him. Jeongguk says, "Really hyung, it's okay to be emotional about this," and tells Yoongi about the fear he felt when Sooyoung started school.
He suggests that they go get some coffee, says they could talk some more, but Yoongi has work soon, had only gotten a later start today in case he was a crying, sniffling mess. He gives Jeongguk an apology, says he needs to get going. They exchange phone numbers, agree to walk home together at the end of the day.
Yoongi walks away, and when he looks back, Jeongguk is waving, shouts, "See you, hyung!" and Yoongi grins, glad to get the chance to see him again.
The months pass like this - each morning Yoongi and Soobin meet Jeongguk and Sooyoung outside of their building. They walk together, chat about what they got up to in the evenings and the news, laugh at stories of their children. It’s fun, Yoongi enjoys getting to know Jeongguk a bit more, likes watching Sooyoung attempt to befriend Soobin, who is slowly starting to accept her extroverted ways. He hides behind Yoongi's leg less than he used to. Each evening, they walk home together, listen to Sooyoung and Soobin share stories about their day, Sooyoung trying to teach Jeongguk about volcanoes and earthquakes, Soobin telling Yoongi the words he learned that day.
It's a warm summer's day when things start to change.
Miraculously, despite it being Monday, Yoongi has managed to wake Soobin up and wrangle him into his uniform in record time. The boy is sitting on the sofa, munching on some egg toast while Yoongi watches as his cheeks puff up with every bite. Cute. There's something really satisfying about watching his son eat well, satisfying to know that although it's stressful and a lot of hard work to pay the bills each month, his son is well looked after. Soobin looks up at him, gives him a smile with his cheeks full that has Yoongi's heart melting. He was never a particularly emotionless man, although he'd liked to make it seem that way, but having a child has softened him up over the years.
His thoughts are cut off by his phone ringing from the kitchen - a girl group song that Soobin had loved as a toddler (and Yoongi's guilty pleasure.) Jeongguk's name flashes on his screen, and a streak of panic flashes through Yoongi. Something must be wrong. Jeongguk's never called before. People don't phone these days unless it's an emergency.
He picks up immediately, says "Jeongguk?" in a voice that makes him sound a little smaller than usual. Jeongguk coughs a few times, says "Hyung?" His voice is low, scratchy. He asks Yoongi if he can walk Sooyoung to school this morning, says he's got a bit of a cold but he can pick her up at the end of the day, says he's not too sick, but could use a nap. Yoongi knows how stubborn Jeongguk can be, how he would easily overwork himself if it meant that nobody around him would be inconvenienced. It's stupid, Yoongi thinks, how he is the same way, but wants so desperately for Jeongguk to take a break when he has to.
Yoongi makes sure to take note of Jeongguk's building number and door code, rushes out the door with Soobin in tow, a second travel mug filled with honey and lemon tea in his hands. Soobin had helped him make that, said that as a honey boy he should add the honey, and so Yoongi had held him up to the counter as he’d scooped up a spoonful of honey, helped him mix it into the tea, careful to make sure none of the hot liquid would splash up at his hands. They walk quickly to the apartment building, only a block away from their own. Yoongi leads them up 3 flights of stairs, searching the hallway for the correct number and punches in the door code.
Inside, Sooyoung is sitting at the dinner table in her pyjamas, eating an apple and swinging her legs back and forth under her seat. She says "Good morning, Yoongi-ssi, Soobin" with a curt nod, goes back to fiddling with the colouring book before her. Yoongi asks Soobin to go sit with Sooyoung for a minute, asks Sooyoung where her dad is. She points towards the back of the apartment, says, "The door on this side!", gesturing with her left hand. He thanks her, heads to Jeongguk's room, gentle footsteps so as to not startle him.
The door is slightly ajar, so Yoongi pushes it open slightly, hears the slight creak from the hinges as it swings. The room is a bit of a mess, clothes left on the floor where they were removed, multiple mugs on the side table. Jeongguk is sitting up on his bed, head leaning back against the headboard, clearly having fallen asleep again after calling Yoongi. His hair is slightly greasy, sticking up in multiple directions, eyes closed and mouth open, lips in a soft pout. 'Pretty' Yoongi thinks, thinks that's probably a weird thing to think about his friend, thinks he's too old to be thinking like that, thinks he maybe isn't over this little crush like he thought he would be by now. Hm. He also notices the tissues scattered over Jeongguk's bed, the redness around his nose. Definitely sick.
Yoongi decides he probably needs the sleep more than he needs to be awake right now, so he closes the door behind him and heads back to the kitchen, where Sooyoung is now showing Soobin how to colour a dolphin, holding her hand around his own where he's holding the pencil to help him stay between the lines. "Sooyoung-ah, do you know where your uniform is?" She shows him where it's laid out, says she can get dressed herself now that she's a big girl, but she still needs help with her hair. So he leaves her be until she reappears in the kitchen, uniform on but cardigan buttoned up strangely. Yoongi asks if he can fix it for her, helps her line the correct buttons up so that it sits properly on her. He then tries to pull a brush through her wild hair, carefully so as to not hurt her. And maybe her ponytail looks a bit shoddy and squint, but Yoongi's done the best he can with his limited experience of tying hair up ( read: Yoongi has no idea what he’s doing but it worked enough that he doesn't have to write it off as a failure. )
Yoongi checks on Jeongguk one more time before they leave, whilst Sooyoung finds her bag. He's still sleeping, looks as though he's shivering despite the sweltering heat outside. Yoongi tugs the blankets up a bit further, just to keep him warm until he gets back. On Jeongguk's desk, he finds a memo pad and a few pens laying around. He writes a note, says he'll be back once the kids are at school, says if he wakes up to drink the tea, and leaves both on the bedside table. He goes to press a kiss to Jeongguk's exposed forehead, almost, but thinks that if Jeongguk woke up it'd be hard to explain just why he did. So he hesitates, whispers "sleep tight," and leaves the apartment with their children.
Text chat: 7.45am
Yoongi: Namjoon, somethings come up and i'm running late this morning. that ok?
Namjoon: Don't worry about it hyung, take all the time you need :)
Yoongi can't afford to take the whole day off, too many bills to pay and books to buy and clothes for his quickly growing son. But he's lucky to be friends with Namjoon, lucky that Namjoon is his friend before he is his boss, lucky that Namjoon is just so damn good that unless you are damaging his organisation, he doesn't bother to get angry or ask questions, just knows how to trust that people are doing what's best for them, knows that being nice to his staff will make them much happier. Namjoon's always been fantastic, even since college. He let Yoongi bring a baby into their already busy office, knowing that there was no way Yoongi could afford childcare on the salary he earns, knowing that it wouldn't be easy for any of them. But he did, because he's a person who understands what it's like to be young and afraid and need some extra help.
That's why Namjoon created the organisation in the first place. He'd never had a particularly great family life, and although he was smart and studied as much as he could, he'd always felt that there were opportunities he was missing out on just because of his circumstances. His college boyfriend (now husband) Seokjin had listened to him rant and rave about how unfair the world is, how kids deserve better, day after day. On the day that Namjoon graduated, Seokjin had congratulated him and handed him a folder of papers, containing a contract for a small office building on the outskirts of Seoul, and plans for setting up a non-profit organisation to help kids like Namjoon, all funded by Seokjin's family. They'd discussed the idea a few months before, Namjoon drunk and slightly delusional after working on his dissertation for months on end.
So here Yoongi works, with Namjoon and Seokjin, a few other office workers, and Taehyung.
Taehyung works on afternoons and weekends, running after school clubs and activities over the weekend. He runs an art class on a Saturday morning, which Soobin sometimes attends, if Yoongi has extra work to catch up on. Taehyung is a people person, loves to work, and so he works the morning shift at one of the cafes between the school and Yoongi's apartment.
Yoongi heads towards Taehyung's cafe once he's dropped the children off, being sure to tell staff that he would be picking Sooyoung up at the end of the day. The cafe is peaceful, has a rustic feel with lots of wood tones and hanging plants dangling from the ceiling, green swinging slightly in the breeze from the open door. It's quiet, as most places are this early in the morning - just after rush hour but before those who don't have work drag themselves out of bed and into the heat. He walks up to the fridges at the side of the cafe, chooses a cold smoothie for Jeongguk, and heads to the counter where Taehyung greets him with a wide grin.
"Nice to see you, hyung. You're not usually this healthy!" he says as he scans the smoothie into the till.
Yoongi chuckles, says, "Figured it was time for a change." Taehyung laughs at that, asks if there's anything else he'd like. Yoongi orders his usual iced coffee, extra shot of espresso to keep him awake through the working day, gets a salad for lunch and asks for some soup to go.
Taehyung raises an eyebrow at him, gives him A Look which he feels deep in his soul. "Hyung, I thought you didn't like soup. Last time I offered you some, you said it was like eating piss covered vegetables." Taehyung leans in, dramatic as always, and whispers, "Hyung. Are you seeing someone?"
Yoongi blanches, chokes on absolutely nothing. Once recovered, says, "No, no, of course not."
Taehyung stares again, clearly evaluating his face for any hint of weakness, any clue that would point towards Yoongi lying (not that that's a common occurrence, not that Yoongi would ever dare lie to Taehyung, the tall bastard able to pick up on lies as easily as he blinks.) "You're blushing."
Yoongi puts the back of his hand against his face, is able to feel the heat radiating off of his cheeks. Still tries to pass it off. "Am not. It's warm in here," he grumbles, as if the intense air conditioning hasn't lowered his body temperature enough that he fears frostbite just a little.
"Hyung. Who's the soup for?" He asks, voice low as if he’s worried that the single patron sitting at the opposite end of the cafe will hear and report this information to national security. Not that there's anything to report on anyway.
"Ah, Taehyung-ah. So nosy!" He says loudly enough to startle the man, putting on an act to cover that he’s still blushing .
Taehyung keeps giving him The Look, which Yoongi feels piercing into his innermost thoughts, prodding and pulling at his bones.
"Okay, fine! It's for a friend, he's sick," he says, mutters under his breath about his disrespectful dongsaeng.
Taehyung looks him over, smirks to himself as he asks, "Is it a... sexy friend?", raising his eyebrows suggestively. Yoongi reaches over the counter, gives a firm but gentle slap to his shoulder, glares when Taehyung just laughs at him.
"No. Of course not. He's a... dad friend?"
"A dad friend?"
"Like, he has a child? And we knew each other in school so I guess he's a friend friend too. Although maybe he was more of an acquaintance friend back then? But we're friends now, I think. We walk the kids to school together, but we don't really talk too much outside of that."
Yoongi gets quieter the more he talks, starts to realise that he doesn't know Jeongguk as well as he'd like to, isn't as close to Jeongguk as he wants to be, hasn't inserted himself into Jeongguk's life enough to hang out with him outside of when it's convenient, when they'd be walking the same way anyway. It's a realisation of things he was already aware of, but it hurts just the same, just a little, just enough that he doesn't like it.
Taehyung's face falls, always so emotive. He says, "Hyung, I'm sorry," and Yoongi doesn't know exactly what he's sorry for, but he bows his head anyway, says "It's fine, Taehyung." Taehyung looks like he knows it's not fine, can see how upset Yoongi is out of nowhere, but he doesn't really know why, so he packages Yoongi's order in a paper bag, throws in a box of cakes that he knows are Yoongi's favourites, doesn't say anything as he types in his staff discount to the machine.
He hands the bag to Yoongi, says "Hyung, you know I'm always available if you need to talk, right? I'm here." And Yoongi nods, accepts the warm pat on the shoulder Taehyung gives him as a send off, and walks back out into the warm summer air.
Once back at Jeongguk's apartment, he sets about searching through cupboards and drawers to find some utensils. He pours the soup into a bowl, and takes it through to Jeongguk, places it on the bedside table and decides to wake up Jeongguk. The man groans, rolls over and buries his face into a pillow, before realising that someone else is in the room. He turns his head, opens an eye and spots Yoongi standing beside his bed. Jeongguk smiles, croaks out a "good morning, hyung," buries his face into the pillow again.
Yoongi sits on the bed beside him, shakes his shoulder gently and says, "Jeongguk-ah, I need you to wake up please." At the request, Jeongguk opens his eyes, groans at how bright the room is. His bedroom is lucky enough to face the sunrise in the mornings, but on sunny days like this where he has possibly the worst headache known to mankind, it feels more like a curse. He throws an arm over his eyes, sighs dramatically at the bliss of no longer being blinded. Yoongi smiles to himself, thinks that's kind of endearing. Thinks ' stop thinking Jeongguk is endearing he is just your friend min yoongi !'.
He helps Jeongguk back up into a sitting position, places a hand on his forehead to check his temperature. He seems a bit less feverish than he did an hour before, but Yoongi is still worried, just a bit. But he can't stick around here all day, not when there's work to be done. So he asks where everything is, brings painkillers and a glass of water to his bedside, makes sure he starts to eat the soup once he's fully awake. He tidies around the apartment, just a little bit, making sure that anything which has an obvious home is put away, washing the pile of dishes next to the sink.
He apologises to Jeongguk that he can't stay all day, but he shrugs it off with a, "don't worry hyung," and that's enough that Yoongi's guilt dissipates, just a bit. Still when he leaves, he makes sure that Jeongguk knows not to collect Sooyoung from school, that Yoongi will destroy him by any means necessary if he so much as thinks about it. Jeongguk's not deterred by his threat, instead laughs it off, his bunny teeth on show, says, "So funny, hyung. My funny hyung." And it feels like a punch to the stomach - a gentle punch, but a punch nonetheless.
Yoongi thinks he needs to stop being so dramatic, thinks his silly crush on Jeongguk better disappear soon, lest he ruin their friendship.
So after checking if there's anything else Jeongguk needs, he walks out of the apartment, towards the nearest metro station, and as he sits down on the train, he reminds himself to breathe.
He meets the children at the end of the school day, asks if they'd like to go shopping. Surprisingly, neither of the kids put up a fuss, content to trail behind Yoongi as he roams the long aisles of the grocery store, determined to find some ingredients for dinner. Soobin likes to hold onto the basket as they walk, doesn't want to lose his father after the dramatic incident of Last November.
(Soobin had ran off to look at the toys whilst they were visiting a department store, Yoongi focused on working out which of the laptops on offer was the best he could afford. By the time he'd looked up from the display, Soobin was gone. Yoongi found him a few minutes later, crying beside the store manager, plush dinosaur cuddled in his arms. Yoongi survived the incident unscathed, if not a bit nervous when the boy wasn't in his direct line of sight, but Soobin had become clingy, doesn't like being alone.)
Sooyoung at one point grabs Yoongi's hand, says "Min Yoongi-ssi, appa likes ice cream" and drags him to the freezers. He'd asked her to drop the formality months ago, said they're friends, but still she maintains that Yoongi's full name is more fun to say. At least she doesn’t call him ahjussi. She points to a tub of chocolate ice cream on the top shelf, whines, "please, it'll make appa happy", and Yoongi knows there's no way he could ever say no to that. So he grabs it from the shelf, adds it to the basket of ramen and vegetables. It's not that Jeongguk's kitchen was empty, more that a few days of pre-illness exhaustion had left him too tired to go shopping, surviving instead off of extras he'd acquired, packs of noodles and leftovers. But Yoongi knows that he needs fed properly, knows how tiring it can be to stand and cook when you don't feel great.
He splurges on a taxi, wants to get back to make sure Jeongguk hasn't done anything stupid like go for a jog while he's sick. He carries both Sooyoung and Soobin's backpacks, as well as the groceries up the stairs, seeing that both of them are sleepy after a long day of school.
Jeongguk is laying on the sofa when they walk into the doorway, offers them a sleepy smile. Sooyoung runs up to him, wraps her arms around his torso, presses her face into the blanket covering his body. He tries to hug back, one arm trapped with the way the blanket is covering him. Says "Hey, cutie" and leans down to press a kiss against her head. Waves, "Hi hyung, hi Soobinie", tries to hold back a yawn which takes over his whole face. Yoongi waves back, heads to the kitchen to start dinner. Asks the children to do their homework at the kitchen table, before they inevitably start colouring one of Sooyoung's many books.
They end up eating dinner on the sofa, the kids sitting at the coffee table happily eating away. Jeongguk seems to have finally woken up, thanks Yoongi for all his help today. He brushes it off, says "no problem, Jeongguk-ah," says "I don't mind helping you," doesn't say ' I'd like to look after you every day,' doesn't say ' I was thinking of you all day,' thinks that would be too much, too soon. Thinks about how he would do anything to see Jeongguk healthy and happy, even if he wasn’t necessarily the cause.
He feels like he's getting too attached to Jeongguk, feels like he wants to distance himself, wants to get so much closer. It's just a crush, he thinks, I'll get over it eventually.
They spend hours sitting together on the sofa, watching a drama about some overly-competitive chaebols, chatting to each other as the kids play together in Sooyoung's room. Jeongguk is softer when he's tired, looks younger than usual, is closer to Yoongi than usual. He doesn't seem too aware of his body, more focused on staying awake while they chat than sitting up properly. He seems to drift into Yoongi's space, ends up with his legs curled on the sofa beside them and his head resting against Yoongi's arm. He's not quite drifting off, but his eyes sometimes stay closed for a moment too long when he blinks. Jeongguk lifts Yoongi's arm gently, tucks his head onto Yoongi's lap, who promptly freezes at the feeling of Jeongguk's head resting on his thigh.
Jeongguk pulls his arm down, hugs it against his chest. His lips smack as he settles, breathing eventually tapering off into quiet snoring, warm breath tickling Yoongi's hand.
Yoongi isn’t sure what to do, isn’t cruel enough to wake him up when he could use the rest, and so brings his other arm up to stroke through Jeongguk’s hair, slowly drifting off himself as fingers run through waves.
He wakes up to something tugging on his ankle, almost goes to kick it away before he notices Soobin sitting at his feet. He lifts his head from where it way laying on Jeongguks back, goes oh fuck when he realises how curled up they were together, Yoongi’s torso folded over the boy in his lap. Jeongguk stirs too from the sudden movement, clings tighter to Yoongi’s leg.
“Appa, I’m sleepy,” Soobin moans, dragging out the last syllable, eyes watering as he pouts.
Yoongi looks to the window, notices that the sun is almost fully gone and they still aren’t home. Soobin gets especially weepy when he’s tired, always wants to be tucked up in bed after a long day.
He tries to wriggle out of the space without disturbing Jeongguk too much, fails at that when his head slips from his lap, falling onto the cushion with an oof . “Hyung,” Jeongguk whines. Yoongi feels a little like he has two whiny, sleepy kids now, doesn’t mind taking care of either of them if he’s honest.
“Sorry baby, we’ll be home soon,” he says to Soobin, lifts him up onto his hip and begins to quietly rush around, collecting all of Soobins things into his backpack and making sure that Sooyoung doesn’t need anything before they go.
Jeongguk hugs him goodbye, holds him close for longer than generally acceptable, arms wrapped around him. Yoongi doesn’t mind, thinks he would love to stay in those arms for even longer. Jeongguk begins to pull back, presses a soft, barely-there kiss to Yoongi’s cheek, mumbles, “love you hyung, “ and Yoongi is so surprised, so endeared, so fond , that all he can do is return the cheek kiss, whisper, “get some rest, Jeongguk-ah,” and head home.
Yoongi ponders their relationship as he lies in bed that night. He hasn’t liked somebody the same way he likes Jeongguk in years, since before Soobin came into his life. He’s sure that the cheek kiss didn’t mean anything, sure that Jeongguk was just tired and unaware. But that doesn’t negate that Yoongi liked it. Like, A Lot more than any other kiss that’s been pressed to his cheek.
He rubs the back of his finger over his cheek, tries to imagine Jeongguk stroking his soft face as he leans in. Imagines soft lips and hands roaming over warm skin. It’s a dangerous thing to think about as he drifts off, and if he has to run to the shower the moment he wakes up, dirtier than intended, he’s definitely not going to mention it to anyone.
He comes over to take Sooyoung to school the next day, brings her home again at the end of the day, but he doesn’t linger this time. Jeongguk is noticeably better, wandering the apartment with a milkshake-filled glass. So Yoongi leaves him to it, doesn’t want to encroach.
Jeongguk does thank him profusely days later, offers to take Yoongi and the kids to the cities aquarium at the weekend to show his appreciation. Soobin had begged and begged to go for months, pleading and whining and sometimes even crying, but Yoongi could never justify the entry fee, had settled on pirated copies of nature documentaries and cartoons to soothe the boy. Jeongguk covers the costs, because of course he does, stupid perfect boy , and even buys Soobin a pink plush seahorse when he catches the boy staring at it in the gift shop. It’s not a huge thing, but it means the world to Soobin and it means the world to Yoongi, that his son is loved, that his son is happy, that someone else would do something just to make the boy smile. So his crush maybe deepens a little (a lot), and he’s maybe a bit happier than usual ( a lot ).
It’s the beginning of many trips they go on together. Each weekend, at least once, they visit a museum, or go shopping, or head to the park and eat ice cream, watch the children run and play, hang out and nap at either of their apartments afterwards when the sugar crash inevitably hits the kids.
It’s summer now, and Yoongi is having a bad day.
Soobin has been on summer break for two weeks already, and as much as Yoongi loves spending time with the boy, having him walking around the office causing havoc is driving him mad. He isn’t usually much of a pain, normally likes to sit beside Yoongi’s desk and play, or perch himself on Seokjin’s lap and listen to him talk into the phone for hours on end. Soobin is a bit infatuated with Seokjin, and will happily spend all of his time staring at the man, eyes wide and mouth hanging open (Yoongi can’t blame him, if he’s honest, had the same reaction the first time they met.)
But he’s going through a phase where he just has to have attention at all times, or he’ll act out. Yoongi can handle it at first - had survived the terrible twos and the equally-as-terrible threes. But everything is starting to build up, he’s overworked and exhausted and he knows Soobin is bored, but a babysitter would cost far too much and his alternatives are all in the office with him.
He’s on a call with an important sponsor, begging them not to pull out of the fundraiser they’re holding in a few weeks, money the organisation so desperately needs. Soobin is making a racket, smashing some toy cars together and trying to make explosion noises as he does. The distraction is too much, Yoongi has to ask the sponsor to repeat what they’d just said numerous times, the man on the phone clearly bothered that Yoongi isn’t paying attention. On his desk, dozens of notes of tasks that need to be completed, half of them marked URGENT. His head is pounding, the noise of the office and Soobin and the stress building up until he feels a little like he can’t breathe.
He takes a deep breath and keeps going. He doesn’t have a choice.
He desperately needs time on his own to decompress, usually would do that during his commute to and from work, but he doesn’t have that small luxury right now. There’s too much to do, bills to be paid, work to be done, a child to entertain. He can’t take time off work, needs the money but also thinks that the children they are helping feed and entertain all summer are more important to him, those who don’t want to be at home all day, knows how important it is to give them somewhere for a bit of normalcy, to be normal kids.
It comes to a head when Jeongguk comes over that night. He knows how hard Yoongi has been working the past few weeks, has noticed the sparse texts and bags under his eyes. So he texts Yoongi, tells him not to worry about dinner tonight, tells him he’s bringing takeout over and he can watch the kids to give Yoongi some alone time. Yoongi is so grateful, feels his heart swell at the thought of being taken care of, especially by someone he likes so much.
They eat together in the cramped lounge, greasy american style burgers and fries, perfect comfort food. Jeongguk helps Yoongi to tidy up afterwards, they make coffee together and chat in the kitchen. It’s nice, he thinks, just a moment of peace in his busy life. He hears a noise from the lounge, heads back out to see what’s going on, and freezes in the doorway when he sees the mess.
Yoongi has told Soobin many, many times that if he wants to draw, it has to be on paper and nowhere else. But those attempts were futile - his beautiful, pristine beige wall is ruined. Meaningless scribbles drawn all over, all at toddler height, marker pen of course.
He calls out Soobin’s name, gives him his most stern expression. The boy looks guilty - he knows he isn’t supposed to draw on the walls. He turns his head down and stares at the floor in front of him, ready to apologise.
“Soobin, what have I told you! You need to use paper! You can’t just make a mess of everything just because you feel like it!” He’s getting more and more worked up the longer he speaks, would never shout at his son but raises his voice because he can’t help it. “You need to listen when you’re told to do something!”
He rants and raves, feels his focus slipping and his body just feels off. He feels panicked, doesn’t even know what he’s angry about any more.
He notices his breathing is ragged when Jeongguk softly grabs his shoulders, let’s him know that he’s there. Yoongi slows when he notices him, seems to have been rambling about how he isn’t fit to be a parent, still doesn’t know what he’s doing after so many years. Jeongguk turns him around, shushes him and wipes away the tears Yoongi hadn’t even noticed he’d shed. Whispers, “Let’s go get you cleaned up, hm?” All Yoongi can do is follow Jeongguks lead.
He leads Yoongi to the bathroom, perches him on the closed toilet lid as he goes about running a bath, uses some lavender bath cream to make it more relaxing. Tells Yoongi that he’s okay to watch the kids, tells Yoongi to relax a bit, no rush, take some time for himself. Murmurs “It’s okay to take a break Hyung, you know that, right? We can’t all be superhuman.”
Yoongi catches him as he leaves the room, quietly says “Can you make sure Soobins okay, please.”
And Jeongguk gives him a shy smile, says “Of course, Hyung.”
He emerges over an hour later, having dressed himself in a large sweater and sweatpants, feels just a bit more human than before. He walks into the lounge, sits on the sofa before looking up and noticing what’s going on.
Kneeling down beside the dirty wall is Jeongguk and their children. Both of the kids have felt tip pens in their hands, adding even more mess to the wall. Jeongguk, however, is working on transforming their squiggles, turning long lines into branches of trees, coloured blotches into animals, circles into fruit, pretties up the waves and swirls and loops of pen until it looks like a work of art.
It’s stunning, Yoongi thinks, thinks ‘ this feels like family ’, thinks he’s so bloody fond of Jeongguk and his stupid, giant heart, and how annoyingly Good the younger is. And his son, so creative, just wants an outlet to express his big thoughts, just loves to make. Even Sooyoung, doodling away in the corner, so smart and bold and expressive and lovely.
Jeongguk looks up with an excited grin, which falls as he notices the tears in Yoongi’s eyes as the man tries so desperately not to sob. “Oh Hyung…” he whines, getting up from his space on the floor to kneel in front of Yoongi. He grabs Yoongi’s hands, holds them in his own as he apologises. “Hyung, I’m so sorry. I thought it’d be cute but it’s a mess and I’m sorry for making it worse. I’ll buy paint in the morning and cover it, I promise. I’m so s-”
He begins to stand as Yoongi does, is cut off when he’s pulled into Yoongi’s embrace. Yoongi weeps into the taller mans shoulder, arms wrapped around Jeongguks own as he clings on for dear life. Jeongguk reciprocates, wraps his arms around Yoongi’s waist and holds him close, strokes the small of his back and softly sings lullabies into his ear, just as he does with Sooyoung. Yoongi sort of likes being babied, thinks it’s wonderful to be looked after once in a while.
“Thank you, Jeongguk-ah,” Yoongi croaks into the man’s neck, “It’s beautiful.” And they stand there in the middle of the room, holding each other tightly. Soobin wanders over and wraps his stubby little child arms around Yoongi’s thighs, presses his face close to his dad. And Yoongi stands there, engulfed in the warmth from the boys he loves, and he realises he doesn’t ever want it to end, wants to spend eternity in Jeongguk’s warm embrace.
He thinks about how nobody has ever done something so nice for him, thinks about how Jeongguk could’ve just left the mess on the wall for Yoongi to deal with, a reminder that he will never be good enough at parenting, (of his failures,) for him to sit and stare at, but instead transformed it into art, a glimpse of beauty in his bland, messy apartment. Proof that Yoongi created Soobin, something great who can also be great. Theres another drawing now, in front of Sooyoung. It’s of two men, one taller than the other, a boy and a girl on either side of them. The sight of it fills his heart.
Yoongi thinks he’s finally found his family, doesn’t want to let it get away, thinks it might just be a dream, hopes desperately it isn’t a dream , but Jeongguk holds him tighter and Sooyoung wanders over, curious as to what’s going on. “Appa, what’s wrong with Yoongi oppa?” whispered with a grabby hand gently tugging on Jeongguk’s shirt to get his attention, Yoongi chuckling lowly and replying, “I’m just happy, Sooyoung-ah, really happy” and placing a hand on her back to pull her into the hug and Yoongi just knows that this is his family. And if Yoongi and Jeongguk happen to wake up in the morning with limbs tangled together on the sofa, kids warmly tucked into bed, neither one of them feel the need to mention it.
He apologises to Soobin in the morning, explains that he was tired and upset and that he is so very sorry for losing his temper, that he should know better than to get annoyed at Soobin. That he will never ever in his life shout at him again. The boy listens to him carefully, apologises for making a mess, and makes grabby hands so that he is pulled into a hug. He whispers “I think you’re a good appa” into Yoongi’s hair, and Yoongi holds onto his honey boy, the centre of his universe, his reason for living, laughs in elation as he spins them, Soobin giggling as they twirl around the room.
The rest of the break flies by. Sure, Soobin is still a little bit of a pain, but he’s still better behaved than most kids his age, going from the horror stories every parent hears.
Jeongguk tries his best to help out as much as he can, Yoongi knows. He resists it, of course, doesn’t want to grow reliant, wants to prove he is capable of helping his son thrive. That doesn’t stop Jeongguk from trying, though, and there’s a limit to how long Yoongi can see Jeongguk’s puppy eyes and pout before he hands over his keys and savings account. So Soobin spends most of his days with Yoongi, bored in the office. But Jeongguk gifted him a sketchpad and pens to keep him occupied. And on his days off, Jeongguk babysits, content to watch the kids navigate their polar opposite personalities. And when they’ve both spent a long day at work, they order takeout together and spend the evening lazing about, playing games with the kids and watching movies together.
It continues through the end of the break, through autumn and into the beginning of winter, frost and an unbreakable chill unable to taint his mood. He finds himself relaxing more than he’s had the chance to for years, his muscles less tense, his face being contorted into a frown or a grimace much less often than usual. He’s also shouting at people over the phone less often (they usually deserve it. Usually. )
Of course Seokjin and Namjoon notice the improvement in his mood, haven’t seen him so happy since college. But they both know that if they want Yoongi to give an honest answer, they need Taehyung to be the one to ask what’s going on. Yoongi has a soft spot the size of Pluto for Taehyung, loves that his accent reminds him of home, thinks Taehyung just has a way of making people relaxed. He’s always emotionally available, always knows how to make people comfortable, easy to open up to.
Yoongi notices him approaching near the end of a long Decembers day. The sky outside is already dark, a meeting taking Yoongi far over his usual work day. Luckily, Jeongguk had offered to take Soobin before Yoongi even had the chance to explain why he needed someone to look after the boy.
Taehyung has a smile on his face, as he always does, says to Yoongi, “Hello, my happy hyung.” and Yoongi knows he’s about to be interrogated, but he finds he doesn’t even mind. Maybe he even wanted the chance to gush about Jeongguk.
He responds in kind, grins to see his friend and greets him with a pat on the arm. Taehyung's eyes widen, jaw drops. “Stop gaping, Taehyung-ah. You’ll catch flies.”
Taehyung schools his expression into something more friendly. “Sorry hyung, just strange to see you smiling without being forced to.”
Yoongi brushes that off, knows Taehyung likes to exaggerate, knows he smiles a normal amount.
“Where’s Soobin? Did you find a babysitter okay?”
“Ah, no, he’s with a friend.”
“A friend, huh?” Taehyung has a smug look on his face, like he knows he’s getting somewhere, but Yoongi is willingly sharing the information anyways. He won’t say anything, lets Taehyung think his interrogation skills are perfect. “Which friend?”
“He’s called Jeongguk. I told you about him once, when I bought that soup.”
“Hyung, that was months ago. Years ago. Literal decades ago.” Yoongi rolls his eyes, content to let Taehyung be as dramatic as he wants. “You seemed kind of upset last time you mentioned him. Did something happen?”
“No, no… It’s just… I had a stupid crush on him, back in school, but I didn’t know him too well so I never did anything about it. I met him again when Soobin started school, his daughter goes there too. We walk together. I sorta realised that day that I still liked him, still had a stupid crush on him, but I’d kind of built up how close we were in my head, I think. We’re good friends now, we hang out a lot but back then it was just walking and talking about surface things. And I was struggling with how much I liked him and how far I was from actually being important to him.”
Taehyung makes an encouraging noise, says “I’m sure you were important to him, hyung. You’re a great person.” and Yoongi rolls his eyes jokingly, his way of letting Taehyung know how grateful he is.
“Do you still like him?”
“Yeah. More than I did then. More than I did in school.” Taehyung coos at him, grabs his cheeks with his hands. Yoongi just lets him. “He’s just… he’s always been cute, but now he’s… Really hot. And pretty. I swear there are stars in his eyes. And he’s so outgoing, so sure of himself in a way he never has been, like he knows how great he is. And he’s the kindest person I know. He just, helps? Without expecting anything in return? He’s looked after Soobin so many times, and given him presents and takes us on trips together. He even took us to the aquarium. I think even Soobin loves him.”
Taehyung narrows his eyes at that, says “Even Soobin.” And Yoongi knows that was a mistake, knows what that implies. But honestly?
“Taehyung, I think I love him. He’s family at this point. I don’t want to be without him. I miss him already and it’s barely been 9 hours since I last saw him. I want him. I want my little family to grow together.”
He gets pulled into the warmest, tightest hug he’s ever experienced, Taehyung's arms wrapping around his body as he says “I’m so happy for you, hyung. You deserve the world. You’re the strongest person I know. I’m glad he makes you happy.”
They hug there in the office for what feels like hours, Taehyung gently giving affirmations, pressing happy kisses into his hair. Yoongi’s always exhausted after sharing his emotions, but when he comes home and opens the door and sees Jeongguk, Soobin and Sooyoung smiling up at him from the floor, there’s not a single tired bone in his body.
It’s Christmas Eve, and Jeongguk, Yoongi and the children are bundled up warm to protect from the piercing chill of the winter air. They’re squished together in a taxi, headed towards Seoul Station to take the KTX back to their parents homes. Yoongi’s parents wanted to see Soobin, paid for their train tickets so they could spend the holiday together, want to spoil Soobin with gifts and love. (Of course they want to see Yoongi too, but their grandchild is precious and new and will take their affection happily.)
The forecast isn’t looking too great, heavy snow piling up on the barely used sidewalks, the city folk unused and unwilling to venture out of their homes in this weather. Yoongi doesn’t blame them, would much rather be in his nicely heated home, wrapped in a blanket and cuddling his warm son. Soobin, however, is perfectly content sitting next to Yoongi, just his eyes and nose visible under his hat and scarf. He has one gloved hand holding onto Yoongi’s thumb, the other clinging onto Jeongguk’s trousers. Yoongi’s heart feels so warm that he thinks he could be wearing shorts and still avoid frostbite.
He’s quickly caught in a daydream, thoughts of family and love and warmth and Jeongguk , when he’s interrupted from his thoughts.
“Yeah, Jeongguk?” He’s holding his phone in his hand, screen facing Yoongi but the bouncing of the taxi hindering Yoongi’s not-quite-perfect eyesight.
“Hyung, the trains are cancelled. There’s too much snow on the line, and there’s a power cut just outside of the city. It says it won’t be fixed for hours, but it’s too last minute for any replacements.” Fuck.
“So we won’t be going to Grandma’s?” Sooyoung asks, looking up from the game in her hands.
Jeongguk reaches forward, ruffles her hair. “Not today, sweetie.” He asks the driver to take them back to his home, where they’d all been picked up from.
He turns to Yoongi, whispers over Soobins head, “Hyung. I… We have plenty of food… if you want to spend Christmas with us. You don’t have to! Please don’t feel pressured, I’m sure you’ll be fine on your own.” He’s nervous, getting flustered after his question. Yoongi is endeared, staring at him with what’s probably a stupid, dazed expression on his face. Jeongguk seems to take his silence as something other than what it is, something other than Yoongi realising for the thirtieth time that damn, Jeongguk is wonderful . He turns to himself, looks at his fiddling hands, mutters “Never mind, hyung. Was stupid.”
Yoongi reaches over Soobin, places his hand on Jeongguk’s shoulder and says “I would lo-like to spend Christmas with you. That’s a great plan.” And it’s worth the embarrassment that rears its head with his near slip-up, worth the wasted fee for the taxi, just to see Jeongguk’s eyes light up and his cheeks puff up into one of the cutest smiles Yoongi has ever seen.
He has luggage for himself and Soobin, already neatly packed into the suitcase that sits at their feet. Yoongi sends a quick text to his mother, lets her know the situation, lets her know he’ll call later. She’s disappointed, of course, but offers to babysit Soobin over new years, is even willing to take Sooyoung since they seem to be getting along like a house on fire lately. He’ll have to talk to Jeongguk about it, of course, but it might be nice to get some time to himself, time to relax and chill out. Maybe even time to spend with Jeongguk, time to spend doing ‘grown-up activities’. Scratch that - he hasn’t ever seen anything that would indicate that Jeongguk would be willing to participate. His heart hurts a little, when he remembers for a moment how one sided his love is.
Jeongguk’s apartment is already decorated - courtesy of Sooyoung's incessant begging which began mid-November, and Jeongguk’s esteemed colleague/best friend Jimin babysitting, who is physically incapable of saying no to the girl (it’s Jeongguk that has to deal with Jimin's choices when Sooyoung is still hyper at 9pm after eating candy that Jimin brought).
He’d come home one day to find Jimin holding Sooyoung up to the top of the doorway, helping her tape a sprig of plastic mistletoe to the centre of the frame. She’d smiled at Jimin, gaps in her teeth fully visible as they admired her success. She’d then poked his cheek and demanded a kiss, claiming it was the law. Jimin complied, pressing his lips to the girls forehead and making an exaggerated “mwah!” that caused giggles to burst out of her body. Once she was lowered back to the ground where children belong, she ran to her dad and was pulled into a hug. She took his hand into her chubby own, had walked him around the apartment as she pointed out the decorations that she’d chosen, the ones that Jimin had helped her to put up. Streamers covered the walls, paper snowflakes hanging on strings down the doors, tinsel draped over the top of the TV.
It was a lot, at the time, still is really, but Jeongguk barely even notices the difference now, has adapted to his sparkling surroundings. He tells Yoongi this as they shuffle into the doorway, attempting to wriggle the children out of their layers and layers of padded clothing before they adjust to the heated apartment and overheat. Yoongi has to push a length of tinsel away to hang his jacket up, but he gets it. Sooyoung had been so enthusiastic, it would be a crime to change any of her hard work. It’s charming, at least. Soobin seems to think so, running his hands down a wall of streamers, a tiny ‘ woah’ leaving his mouth.
They eat together, a mix of meats and sides that Jeongguk had stocked up on, just to try and avoid braving the snowy weather over the next few days. They giggle at Soobin, who has developed the strangest habit of tipping his head back when he eats ramen, getting sauce all over his chin. Sooyoung tells Christmas themed jokes that she learned at school, ones that Yoongi and Jeongguk have already heard dozens of times, but they laugh anyway. Yoongi and Jeongguk sit close together at the table, elbows occasionally brushing (which does Not make Yoongi blush, thank you very much).
A few times, when Yoongi is tending to Soobin, helping to wipe his messy face, he turns back to find more meat in his bowl, Jeongguk very determinedly looking down at his own meal. It makes him smile, makes his heart warm. He feels silly about it, but a larger part of him just wants to indulge himself, just wants to pretend that Jeongguk is doing this out of love instead of just respecting his hyung. Just for one night. And then he can distance himself a bit, find himself, the parts of himself that aren’t so hopelessly gone for Jeongguk. But for now, he’s content.
They wash up together, Yoongi scrubbing at dishes as Jeongguk dries them. Music plays in the background, Sooyoung having developed a taste in music herself. Yoongi won’t complain, gets to enjoy his guilty pleasures. When Yoongi goes to leave the kitchen, the smiling girl is standing just past the doorway, arms stretched wide to block Yoongi’s path.
“Can I get past, please.”
She takes a second to think, her face scrunching up a bit as if the mere thought of thinking was painful. “Hmm… No,” she proclaims, lifting her shoulders and standing on her tiptoes in an attempt to seem taller.
“Sooyoung. Let hyung past,” Jeongguk tells her, but she stands her ground and somehow even manages to look intimidating. He walks over, stands between the girl and Yoongi so that he can talk to her, ask her to stop misbehaving. But once he gets there, she cuts him off by pointing up to the tip of the doorway they’re standing in.
The doorway where she’d hung mistletoe all those weeks ago.
“Appa, you have to kiss Yoongi oppa. It’s the law.”
Jeongguk looks to Yoongi, wide eyed and jaw dropped. He looks as though he’s been physically struck. The feeling that runs through Yoongi is awful, feels as though he’s standing in the middle of the snowy Seoul street.
He steps backwards into the kitchen, leans himself against the counter and starts fiddling with his fingers, needing something to expend the nervous energy flooding through his veins. He can hear Jeongguk talking to Sooyoung, sees him squatting down out of the corner of his eye, but he doesn’t care to listen. God, he knew that indulging his selfish thoughts was a stupid idea. Of course Jeongguk doesn’t like him. Yoongi doesn’t even know if he likes men, but even if he did, there’s nothing that would make Jeongguk actually like Yoongi. What would Jeongguk even want from him? Yoongi is just an anxious, overworked wreck who struggles to pay his bills sometimes. He has nothing to offer someone like Jeongguk.
He considers fleeing, considers just going home and hiding for the rest of his life. He’ll move back home, work remotely, homeschool Soobin. A flawless plan. Except Soobin likes it here, loves Seoul, loves his school and the few friends he’s made, loves Seokjin and Namjoon, loves Sooyoung and Jeongguk. It wouldn’t be fair to him. It wouldn’t be fair to Yoongi either, crawling back to his family with his tail between his legs, not after all this time.
He stiffens, says “Yes, Jeongguk?” Doesn’t dare to look up, see the disgust that’s likely so clear on his face.
“I’m sorry hyung. It’s not fair of her to do that.” He’s standing on the opposite side of the kitchen, fidgeting, must be nervous too.
“It’s fine.” he replies, though he isn’t. He feels close to tears.
Its silent for a long moment, so long it would be awkward if the atmosphere wasn’t already. Jeonggukk takes a big inhale, says quietly, so quietly that Yoongi barely hears him, “Hyung. Is the thought of kissing me really so bad?”
Yoongi’s eyes snap up to look at Jeongguk. His eyes are red rimmed, and he looks so bloody unhappy, pretty pink lips turned into the most painful pout Yoongi has ever seen. Yoongi can’t believe what he just heard, needs to make sure.
“Jeongguk, what did you say?”
Jeongguk just shakes his head, scrunches his nose, slides down so that he’s sitting on the cold kitchen tile.. The tension in the room is unbearable, both of them clearly upset but unwilling to explain why. “I just… Would it really be so bad? To kiss me. Would it really be so bad that you have to run away?”
Yoongi doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t know the right answer, doesn’t know what Jeongguk wants in this moment. Doesn’t know how to stop Jeongguk from making that hurt face. So he tells the truth. “No. It wouldn’t.”
“So why did you? Run away?” He sounds so meek, sounds as if Yoongi could blow air in his direction and he’d just disappear, dust on the wind. Yoongi chances another look, sees a tear drip off of his chin. He doesn’t think it’d be appropriate to brush it away, not right now, not in this moment, but he very much wants to.
“You didn’t exactly look like you wanted to.” He knows it’s stupid to get defensive, but it’s been a habit since childhood and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, as much as he wishes it would. “The look on your face, it was clear enough.” He grumbles.
“What look on my face? I was surprised? I wasn’t exactly expecting my kid to tell us to kiss!” He’s telling the truth, Yoongi knows it, knows Jeongguk is pretty awful at lying. And then, quietly, “Hyung, this might be a really weird thing to say, but I wanted to.”
Yoongi feels the air rush out of his lungs. “...What?”
Jeongguk wipes a few tears away, sniffs and says “I wanted to kiss you hyung.” It comes out as a whine, makes Yoongi’s traitorous heart swell. He sits down across from Jeongguk, stretches his feet out so that they touch against Jeongguk’s knees. “Maybe not right then, when neither of us were expecting it but… hyung is so pretty. And lovely. My lovely pretty hyung.”
Yoongi shuffles himself closer, feels a bit of a fool for doing so, but he wants to be closer, needs to be closer. His heart feels like it’s going to explode in his chest, like his organs are going to be blown to smithereens and all that shall remain in the wake of the explosion is love . He takes Jeongguks hands in his own, looks up to catch him looking back. “Kook-ah” he murmurs, runs his fingertips over Jeongguk’s knuckles.
“Hyung, I really like you, like you so much. And you can say no, or tell me you never want to see me again. You can do that if you have to. I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable. But I really do like you an unreasonable amount. And I really do want to kiss you. But I want it to be on our terms. I want you to be okay with it. I want you to want it.”
He says this through tears, not sobs, but gentle drops rolling down his cheeks. Fuck, he looks so pretty when he cries . Yoongi swipes at his cheek with his shirt sleeve pulled over his hand, catches Jeongguks eyes again, whispers “I think I’ve liked you for a very long time, Jeongguk-ah.” Jeongguk grins, that beautiful smile where he scrunches his nose up, wipes away tears Yoongi didn’t even realise were coming from his own eyes. (Yoongi doesn’t think he’s felt this euphoric since he held a minutes old Soobin in his arms, marvelled at the wonder that is his son.)
Yoongi brings a hand up to rest against Jeongguk’s cheek, says “Can I kiss you, pretty Jeongguk?”, and Jeongguk brings his hand up to tilt up Yoongi’s chin, says “It would be an honour, my pretty hyung.”
It’s chaste, at first, gentle pecks against each others lips as they try not to smile. It spirals from there, as most things tend to. Becomes wet and panting and wandering hands and a scandalised “ hyung, the kids are next door!” when said hands wander a little too far.
Yoongi loves this feeling, relishes in having Jeongguk’s tiny waist between his hands, relishes the burning heat from his skin, relishes that the man he likes has feelings for him. Feels so fucking grateful and happy and warm and excited and - oh no, they must stop instantly before he comes in his pants like a goddamn teenager. They pull apart after what feels like both years and seconds, look at each other with heavy stares, warm breaths mingling between them, let out a laugh at just how strange this all is.
They collapse in a pile of giggles, Yoongi flopping face first into Jeongguk’s neck. Soobin, of course, chooses this moment to poke his head around the corner. “Appa, what’re you doing?”
Yoongi looks up, feels the grin on his face widen and spreads his arms, inviting Soobin into a hug. The boy waddles over, shrieks with laughter when Yoongi starts tickling his sides, the two of them collapsing down on the kitchen floor in utter delight. Yoongi is so happy. So happy.
Jeongguk is still leaning against the counter, watching them play with such fondness in his eyes. Sooyoung wanders through a moment later, not a fan of being left alone, sits on her father’s lap and wraps her short little arms around him. She turns to Yoongi, says “I’m sorry, oppa,” Wriggles over to where he’s sitting and hugs him too.
“It’s okay, Sooyoung-ah,” he says, “You didn’t mean any harm.” Pats her back, feels Jeongguk crawl closer and join the cuddle pile. He knows they’ll need to talk about this, knows they have children who they don’t want to upset and separate lives, knows they need to ensure they’re on the same page, that they’re both equally as invested in this. But for now, in this moment, Yoongi is content to feel surrounded by love, surrounded by family.
Later that evening, he takes Soobin for a bath, fills the tub with bubbles upon bubbles, a fruity smell that makes Soobin grin and clap his hands. Once Soobin is fully washed, Yoongi perches on the stool beside the tub, gently wipes some bubbles from Soobin’s chin, takes a moment to appreciate how good his son is, how he’s managed to raise someone so sweet and kind. “Lovely honey boy,” He says, tucking some hair behind his ear, “Can I ask you something, hm?”
Soobin nods at him, always looks so oddly determined at the calmest of times.
“What do you think of Jeongguk? Do you like him?” He asks, encouragingly.
Soobin makes an exaggerated ‘Hmm’ noise, says “I really like him. He looks after me and you and he really likes octopuses! But I like seahorses more than octopuses. And he thinks Appa is cute.” He’s focused on the toy duck thats floating in front of him, luckily doesn’t notice Yoongi’s cheeks bloom.
“H-he thinks I’m cute?” He asks, stumbles through the words.
“Yeah. Said it when we went to the place with the santa man, when you left for a moment.” He must be talking about the winter market they went to, took the children to meet santa, just like the Americans do, had asked Soobin to stay with Jeongguk for a second so he could run off, buy a gift that Jeongguk had been ogling a few dozen minutes earlier, a handmade candle that smells of crisp linen, smells clean.
Yoongi attempts to calm the fluttering in his heart, the butterflies trying so dangerously to escape his chest. “Soobin-ah, how would you feel if maybe Jeongguk was your appa too? Not right now, but eventually. As well as me?”
The boy clasps his hands together, says with such surety, “Appa seahorses look after the babies, and then those babies get bigger and are really cool. So if I had 2 appas, I’d be as cool as 2 seahorses, right?” And all Yoongi can do is nod and press a kiss into his hair. “He’d be a good appa. I’d like that.”
“And you like Sooyoung, yes?”
“Okay. Thank you honey boy, who I love very much.”
In the dark of night, the children sleeping in Sooyoung’s bedroom, Yoongi and Jeongguk cuddle together. They share deep kisses, full of longing and lust, try to stop any unwanted noises from spilling into the air, use hands and mouths to touch, lower, lower, until all they can focus on is the bliss they feel, the pleasure building up and up and up, ‘til it escapes, muffled moans and taut bodies. They clean up with tissues, put their pajamas back on, collapse dramatically into the sheets, fall asleep, legs entwined, Yoongi’s head resting on Jeongguk’s firm chest.
It feels different in the morning, Yoongi thinks, waking once the sun has started pouring through Jeongguk’s window, feels warmer than he remembers. He lifts his head, a struggle in the morning, looks to see Soobin and Sooyoung sleeping, draped on top of their entwined legs, sharing a blanket Yoongi recognises from the sofa. He drops his head back down gently, takes great delight in feeling the warmth of Jeongguk’s bare skin on the hand he’d snuck up his shirt, takes great delight in knowing he’s loved, takes great delight that Jeongguk likes him, takes great delight in the family he’s acquired.
Feels love, feels loved.