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Long Lasting

Chapter Text

The first time Seokjin met Beomgyu was in the hospital, late in the night on a rainy Thursday. The baby, small from being born three weeks early, was screaming himself hoarse and trembling in pain. Seokjin had cried, lifting the minuscule weight into his arms and cuddling him close until the crying quieted and the shaking eased. 

Seokjin spent days in a wooden, creaky rocking chair in the NICU. Beomgyu cooed and stretched in his foster dad’s arms, eyes blinking open to take in his immediate surroundings. It wasn’t long before the arms of the nurses weren’t as comforting anymore, and each separation became horrifyingly painful for both Seokjin and Beomgyu. 

Hoseok and Jungkook came with him on the third Friday of the baby’s NICU stay. They walked inside to the sounds of Seokjin’s foster son screaming himself hoarse, the trembling less but still easily noticeable. Hoseok wiped a tear from his eyes as they crowded the bassinet. Seokjin leaned down and lifted the boy to his chest, shushing him gently.

“Jinnie’s here, you’ll be all better,” Seokjin soothed. The baby snuggled into Seokjin’s shoulder and fell asleep, the nurse coming by only once to administer another round of pain medication. 

“How could his parents do this to him?” Jungkook asked once, his large hand rubbing soothing circles on the baby’s small tuft of hair. It twirled between his fingers, light brown glinting in the light. 

“I don’t know, Kook,” Seokjin answered honestly. It broke his heart to think that the sweet, angelic child in his arms had been dealt such a nasty hand. 

“They haven’t come to any of the visitations?” Hoseok asked, frowning at the door that led into the unit. 

“Not one. They can’t even get in contact with them,” Seokjin tried not to let the hope seep through his tone. It had only been three weeks, and yet he couldn’t deny the attachment he’d formed with Beomgyu. A lot of people foster intending to adopt. Still, he’d always promised himself to never let that cloud his hope for the reunification of the children he fostered. 

No one ever did anything right the first time, Seokjin supposed. 

Ten days later, Beomgyu was being dressed in his coming home outfit and settled into his car seat. Seokjin and Jungkook bowed to the nurses, thanking them for their love and patience with the baby, and turned to go, leaving all the monitors, medication, and pain behind. 

Beomgyu never had the excitement that most babies have. No baby shower, no gushing over ultrasound photos, no piles of baby clothes, and no toys awaiting him. The social worker had confessed that the woman had not known of her pregnancy until it was too late to terminate, and had continued with her damaging habits. She had never intended to keep him. He’d thought to make sure he had a wonderful welcome home with plenty of love and support would be an excellent start to making up for that. 

They arrived home to Jimin and Taehyung standing excitedly at the door, both pairs of hands flying up to cover mouths at the sight of the sleeping baby. 

“The ears, oh, how cute!” Taehyung whispered, playing with the fuzzy ears of the baby’s hat. Beige and white, matching the colors of his onesie and pacifier perfectly. He smiled gratefully at the second youngest of their friend group. It had been Seokjin’s first purchase the day after he’d met Beomgyu. 

“Welcome home, buddy,” Seokjin said, pushing past Taehyung and Jimin to come inside. Yoongi and Namjoon both stood from where they’d been working on the couch, the former’s eyes wide and watery. 

Yoongi liked to have a cold-hard disposition. Still, it was hard to argue that anyone had been more affected than Yoongi by the baby’s story. 

“He’s so small,” Yoongi said, running his thin fingers over the baby’s cheek. Beomgyu snuffled and shifted, dark brown eyes blinking open. The two gazed at each other, Yoongi’s face breaking into a smile as the baby’s eyes went cross-eyed in his attempts to keep staring. 

“How cute,” Taehyung giggled, hiding his face in Jimin’s shoulder. Beomgyu shook his legs and arms wildly, cooing at the joyful sound. Seokjin had learned early that the baby loved the sound of laughter, and would react consistently to the sound. 

“Do you want to hold him?” Seokjin asked, smiling at those that had yet to hold the baby. Yoongi, Namjoon, and Jungkook backed up suddenly, but Taehyung and Jimin were in his face instantly. They bickered over who got to hold Beomgyu first as Hoseok worked to unbuckle the baby from the car seat. 

Hoseok handed the baby to Taehyung first, the two going quiet as the baby settled into the younger’s arms. He grunted and yawned, arms flailing periodically as they took him in. Eventually, he was passed to Jimin, the elder smiling widely and using his free hand to tickle the baby’s tummy. 

“Jungkookie, come hold your foster nephew,” Hoseok called, pulling Jungkook over to stand in front of the still smiling Jimin.

“He’s so sweet,” Jimin said, handing the baby to Jungkook’s waiting arms. The youngest stiffened, the baby whining in his arms. Jimin rubbed his shoulders to help them relax, and finally, Beomgyu could settle comfortably in his arms. 

“Oh,” Jungkook said, watching as the baby blinked slowly before falling asleep. 

“He likes you,” Seokjin beamed, watching Jungkook’s eyes soften and hold get even laxer. 

It was hard to think that there might be a family out there that wanted Beomgyu. That there were grandparents, aunts, and uncles, cousins even, that might come and take him back. It was hard to imagine that after all the pain the baby went through, all the time he spent soothing him through it, that someone else would pop in, and that would be it.

“One day at a time, hyung,” Hoseok said, laying a hand on his shoulder. 

“I know, but--” Seokjin trailed off, biting his lip to try and stave off any tears. “They don’t want him. I do. I really do,” Hoseok wrapped his arms tightly around Seokjin. 

“I know, and we’ll do all we can for him. What’s best for him, right?” Hoseok asked, and Seokjin gave a sharp nod. 

“It’s already been so hard. Just seeing him like that, you know?” Seokjin pulled back from the hug and wiped his eyes. Yoongi and Jungkook were watching him from where they’d settled on the couch. 

“Of course. It was hard. He was so sick, and you were there for him until he was better. You’ve already done so much for him, hyung,” Hoseok tried to appease. Seokjin knew he could do more. He would be there through everything; every injury, every heartbreak, every trauma. If only they’d let him. 

“Hyung,” Jungkook called. “Should we put him to bed in his room?” 

Seokjin watched Beomgyu sleep that night and nearly every night after that. He answered to every cry, every sniffle, every cough or uncomfortable grunt. His baby had already been through a lot, and he couldn’t bear to think of anymore happening to him. 

At first, Jungkook tried to coax him back into bed, but after the second week, he resolved to leave a cup of tea by the door before turning in. Seokjin would grab it once he was sure Beomgyu was fast asleep and drank all of it slowly through the night. Hoseok began to leave him books, and Yoongi bowls of soup and little notes that pleaded for him to go to bed.

In the fifth week, Yoongi and Jungkook found him curled up on the floor fast asleep. His eyes were dark and sunken but relaxed with the first real bit of sleep he’d managed to get. Jungkook picked his brother up and carried him to bed while Yoongi grabbed his laptop and got to work next to the crib. It would be hours before he would turn in any way.

“Hyung, where is Beomgyu’s formula?” Jungkook asked the next morning. 

“In the cupboard next to the sink,” Seokjin groaned tiredly, turning over and nodding off again. Jungkook chuckled and left, preparing the baby’s breakfast and returning to the room. Yoongi had nodded off himself, bent over his laptop, where a new set of lyrics were awaiting him. Jungkook had done his best to help, and he had even sent them off to Namjoon once he’d finished the draft. 

“Why didn’t you wake me up?” Seokjin shouted, slamming his way into the room. Beomgyu jumped, startled by the sudden loud noise, and began to cry. “My baby, I’m so sorry,” Seokjin cooed, cuddling Beomgyu to his chest. 

“You need to sleep, hyung,” Jungkook said.

“I need to be awake in case something happens--”

“Hyung, he’s okay,” Jungkook tried to convince. “Look, he’s happy, he’s comfortable. You’ve kept him safe and loved and healthy for two months. He will be okay.”

“I want to keep him,” Seokjin sighed, wiping his eyes. He cuddled Beomgyu closer, the baby humming sweetly as he snuggled into his foster dad’s chest. 

“Then you need to stay healthy, too. You need to sleep and eat well. You look sick.” Jungkook looked down but remained firm. 

“I know, but what if--”

“Yoongi-hyung, Hoseok-hyung, and I live here. Jimin and Taehyung-hyungs live downstairs. We can call Namjoon if we need to. There’s always someone by your side,” Jungkook smiled.

“Having a good support system will look good to the adoption caseworker,” Yoongi mumbled tiredly, rolling over and falling back to sleep. Both men chuckled, and the baby in Seokjin’s arms let out small giggles in response. The tears fell thick and quick down the eldest’s cheeks as the sound warmed him, the feeling making him ache. 

“Damn, I love him,” Seokjin wiped his eyes again. 

“We all do, it’ll be okay. We’ll figure this out,” Jungkook hugged his brother, his hand rubbing up and down the baby’s back. 

His heart still ached, but he felt more confident. Maybe everything would be fine. 

Maybe they would be a family one day. 

Chapter Text

Seokjin received the call on a blistering, snowy Saturday night. A two-year-old boy, just released from the hospital after being abused by an uncle. The worker was desperate, gushing about how sweet and lovable the baby was. Despite Beomgyu’s hectic feeding and sleep schedules taking up a lot of his time, he still couldn’t bear to say no.

That’s what led to Seokjin awake at three in the morning, awaiting the newest member of his family. He had set up the room he’d designed for his foster toddlers quickly, a cute Trolls bedspread, and a pair of pajamas laid out. He had cooked up some rice and a bowl of the most calorie-dense, but still tasty, soup he had in his cupboard. All that was left was the wait.

A car pulled up outside of his front entrance only twenty minutes later, a stout, chubby woman hopping out and dashing to the back seat. Seokjin took a deep breath and wrung his hands together. No turning back now. 

“Is he here?” A voice asked from behind his back. 

“Yeah,” Seokjin responded, watching with bated breath as a tiny, screaming toddler was pulled from the back seat of the car. The woman walked carefully up the snow-covered driveway, taking just long enough that Jungkook moved up to join him at the window. 

“He looks happy,” Jungkook frowned. 

“I can’t imagine what he’s been through,” Seokjin said, trying not to do just that. The baby’s head was wrapped in gauze, his face splotched with blue and black. His little leg was hanging limply by his side, one shoe missing and a nicely wrapped ace bandage in its place. 

“Poor baby, let’s get him inside and love the Hell out of him,” Jungkook said, pulling the door open to greet the social worker. The woman smiled graciously. She stepped inside, the crying of the toddler in her arms echoing through the mostly empty living room. 

“He’s had a super scary night, I’m sorry,” The woman said, trying her best to keep the baby from wriggling out of her arms. 

“I understand, it must’ve been very frightening,” Seokjin frowned, coming to stand next to the woman. Seokjin wracked his brain for anything to say, and came up short. The only things that worked with Beomgyu were his stuffed bunny from Jungkook, and food. “Would you like a snack, baby?” Seokjin asked. The little boy wailed louder.

“Yeah,” He cried, burying his face in the woman’s shoulder. Jungkook ran off to grab a bag of Beomgyu’s puffed snacks, returning quickly and handing them off to Seokjin. 

“Would you like to hold the bag?” Seokjin asked, pulling it open and offering it to the baby. He sniffled but took the bag, dipping his little, bruised hand into it and pulling out a few puffs. He popped them into his mouth, a few more tears leaking out of his eyes.

“This is Yeonjun,” The woman finally got to introduce. The boy looked up at his name but quickly looked back down to continue eating his snack. 

“Welcome home, Yeonjun,” Seokjin smiled, afraid to touch the boy in fear of hurting him. The woman looked at him in understanding, but it was clear that she was pressed for time and needed to be leaving.

“He has a sprained ankle, three bruised ribs, a cut on his head, and many, many contusions,” The woman listed. Seokjin bit his lip but nodded, eyes drawn to the bandages on the baby’s head. “The dressing will need to be changed every few hours. I left the doctor’s instructions in his bag.”

“So he has a bag, then?” Seokjin asked, surprised. Beomgyu had nothing of his own to bring home.

“It’s not much. A couple diapers, wipes, and the discharge papers. He was wearing something different, but it wasn’t salvageable.” Seokjin nodded morosely, steeling himself for what was about to come.

“Yeonjun, do you like Trolls?” Seokjin asked. The little boy perked up a bit, so Seokjin was quick to pull out his phone to play a few songs from the soundtrack. The little boy smiled as Can’t Stop the Feeling began, and that opened the door for him to reach over and grab the boy from the social worker.

“I wanna watch Trolls,” Yeonjun said, his mouth having a hard time wrapping around the word. 

“Okay, we can watch Trolls. Do you want to eat-eat?” Seokjin asked, and Yeonjun wiggled his body until Seokjin was forced to put him down. 

“Eat,” Yeonjun said, turning back to him and nodding his head. 

“Alright, eat-eat,” Seokjin sang, watching as Jungkook led a limping Yeonjun into the kitchen. “Thank you, be safe on your way home,” Seokjin said to the social worker as she set Yeonjun’s bag by the door.

“Unfortunately, my day is not over. I am very grateful for you, take care,” The woman said, stepping back out into the harsh late fall air. Seokjin closed the door and locked it, listening for any sign that Beomgyu had woken up. When all seemed quiet, he made his way into the kitchen to begin reheating the soup.

“He likes Pororo,” Jungkook said, pointing to the enraptured Yeonjun. 

“All kids like Pororo,” Seokjin rolled his eyes, turning the stove on. Yeonjun’s attention broke away from the screen, his curious brown eyes looking up at him.

“What you doin’ there?” Yeonjun asked, tilting his head a little to the side.

“Heating up some soup for you,” Seokjin responded, earning a slow blink from the toddler.

“Soup?” Yeonjun asked.

“Yep. Chicken, rice, and some vegetables. Very yummy,” Seokjin smiled, giving the soup a stir. 

“I wanna do that!” Yeonjun said, hopping off Jungkook’s lap and onto the floor. His ankle gave out, his bottom hitting the floor hard. 

“It’s okay!” Jungkook called, lifting Yeonjun up into his arms before he could start to cry. “Let’s go stir the soup with Jinnie-hyung.” Jungkook ran, bouncing the baby in his lap to try and distract him from the pain. Yeonjun gigged at the action, little hand reaching out for the spoon. 

“My turn,” Yeonjun said, taking the spoon from Seokjin and giving the soup a vigorous stir. The baby laughed as some of the liquid splattered on the sides, his face looking up into Seokjin’s to gauge his reaction.

“Wow! Are you stirring the soup?” Seokjin asked, and Yeonjun giggled.

“Yeah, I stirrin’ the soup,” Yeonjun stirred it a few more times, only deciding he was done at the promise of being able to actually eat the yummy smelling food. Jungkook placed him in the high chair, then went to pull a spare shirt out from the cupboard to put over his clothes so they wouldn’t end up too dirty. “It’s my shirt!” Yeonjun shouted happily, pointing at the new shirt.

“It is your shirt!” Jungkook said excitedly back. “It’s so your other shirt won’t get dirty.”

“Yeah, won’t get dirty,” Yeonjun said, leaning back in the high chair. 

“He talks so well,” Jungkook said, helping Seokjin scoop enough soup for the three of them while his brother mixed the seasoning into the rice.

“He for sure repeats well,” Seokjin said, filling a sippy cup with milk once the rice was finished. 

“Yum-yums!” Jungkook said, placing a bowl of soup, rice, and the sippy cup in front of Yeonjun.

“Eat!” Yeonjun said, taking his spoon carefully and beginning to eat. Jungkook and Seokjin sat down in the chairs beside the high chair, watching the baby’s cautious way of eating with interest. 

“Poor baby, he seems terrified to drop anything,” Seokjin said, thinking of all the messes Beomgyu made as he ate. Food in his hair, clothes, all over the highchair and the floor. There was something about a messy baby that said happy baby to Seokjin, and Yeonjun was seemingly the opposite. Clean and scared.

“Oh, no!” Yeonjun said, little face falling at the sight of soup splattered on the highchair. “I clean up!” The baby said fearfully, eyes wide and glistening. 

“No, baby. It’s okay!” Seokjin said, jumping up to get a towel. “Were you just excited to eat?” Seokjin wiped up the drops quickly.

“Yummy,” Yeonjun said, rubbing his tummy. 

“Super yummy. Eat it up!” Seokjin said, giving the timid baby a kiss on the forehead. That seemed to break the spell, and Yeonjun was back to shoveling the food down his throat.

Once all was eaten, Seokjin washed the dishes quickly and carried Yeonjun upstairs to his room. He paused once, wanting to check on the suspiciously quiet Beomgyu.

“The baby’s here,” Seokjin said, pointing to Beomgyu’s closed door. Yeonjun’s mouth dropped open wide, his hands coming up to cover it.

“Baby!” Yeonjun said excitedly, and Seokjin had to hush him once before pushing the door open. To no surprise, there was Yoongi bent over his laptop, brows furrowed as he worked. In his lap was Beomgyu, eyes closed, and head lolled to the side as he slept. 

“He woke up a few times,” Yoongi said, smiling at the new addition in Seokjin’s arms.

“Hi,” Yeonjun said, waving his hand. 

“Hi, buddy. Are you going to get ready for bed?” Yoongi asked, shifting Beomgyu into a more comfortable position.

“Yeah, bed,” Yeonjun parroted, eyes staring wide and unblinking at Beomgyu. “Baby, bed.” He pointed at Beomgyu’s crib.

“Yes, the baby’s going to bed,” Yoongi said, settling his laptop down and lifting Beomgyu up and into the crib. 

“Bed,” Yeonjun said again.

“Say na-night,” Seokjin said, and Yeonjun turned back to wave.

“Na-night.” Seokjin took Yeonjun to his room next to pick up his new pajamas. Then they were off to the bathroom to brush teeth and chance, Yeonjun gushing over his new dinosaur outfit.

“Dinosaurs!” Yeonjun said the whole way back to the room.

“What sound does a dinosaur make?” Seokjin asked, settling the baby down onto his new bed.

“Woof!” Yeonjun tried.

“Rawr!” Seokjin corrected, making Yeonjun laugh happily.

“Rawr!” Yeonjun repeated, using his pretend claws to hit at Seokjin’s chest. The elder groaned dramatically, covering his chest and falling backward. Yeonjun giggled through a yawn.

“I think it’s time we go to sleep,” Seokjin said, turning off the lights.

“Yeah, sleep,” Yeonjun responded, laying himself back against his pillow. Seokjin pulled the blanket up, and over him, Yeonjun quick to pat himself as his eyes began to droop. 

“Music?” Seokjin asked, using his phone to play sleep music through a speaker. 

“Yeah,” Yeonjun said quietly, his lips puckering out as he suckled at the air. Seokjin sighed, his fingers running soothing circles over Yeonjun’s face.

“Ni-night, baby,” 

Chapter Text

Perhaps it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Still, Beomgyu and Yeonjun’s first meeting didn’t go exactly how Seokjin had anticipated. 

Beomgyu was already up and eating breakfast by the time Yeonjun rolled out of bed. It was a long process of getting the toddler up and ready, what with the lack of proper clothes, the multitude of injuries, and the glaring fact that the boy hadn’t been bathed adequately in what could have been months. It took Seokjin half an hour to properly clean the child, and by the end of it, Yeonjun was furious and wanted nothing to do with him.

“Do you want to go see the baby?” Seokjin asked, desperate to get pants on the child before he froze in the chilly house. Yeonjun shoved him away, screaming himself hoarse every time the pants came near him. Not even the promise of snacks made the toddler any more pliant.

“Hyung, try these,” A pair of sweatpants hit Seokjin in the back of the head. He glared at his younger brother but snatched them up anyway. 

“Want to try these, Junnie? They’re much softer,” Seokjin tried to soothe, and finally, Yeonjun allowed Seokjin to pull the pants up and onto his legs. “Socks, then when can go downstairs and see the baby.” Yeonjun didn’t protest as his foster dad pulled a pair of blue socks onto his feet. He chewed on his pointer finger, tears leaking steadily down his face, but he made no more noise.

“Baby?” Yeonjun asked as Seokjin pulled him off the bathroom floor and into his arms.

“Baby,” Seokjin nodded. They made their way down the stairs and into the living room, the toddler slowly calming more and more until his breathing was even once again.

“Dada,” Beomgyu’s tiny voice called from the kitchen. Despite knowing that the baby wasn’t entirely referring to anything yet, Seokjin still smiled and waved. 

“Baby tiny,” Yeonjun said, using his arms to pull himself higher into Seokjin’s hold. Beomgyu kicked his legs, face pulled down into a frown. 

“Aigoo, why is my baby so sad?” Seokjin asked, thanking Yoongi as a cup of coffee was settled at his usual space at the table. Beomgyu just continued to kick his legs, soft whines escaping when no one answered his unhappy flailing. 

“More?” Yoongi asked, using the sign language equivalent to capture Beomgyu’s attention. The baby only growled unhappily, his whole face scrunching up before he was full-blown sobbing. 

“Might need his diaper changed,” Seokjin sighed, handing Yeonjun off to Yoongi. He lifted the now eight-month-old into his arms, the baby automatically laying his head on Seokjin’s shoulder. 

“Oh, I see,” Yoongi chuckled, staring into Beomgyu’s eyes. “He’s literally glaring. I think he’s jealous,” Seokjin scoffed but rocked the baby side to side anyway. 

“Babies his age don’t get jealous,” Seokjin argued, but Yoongi just raised an eyebrow and shrugged.

“Kid has his death stare down pat. Pretty sure he’s trying to mold himself to you, too,” Yoongi said, pointing out how Beomgyu was lying utterly limp against Seokjin’s shoulder. He paused for a moment, contemplating what Yoongi was saying.

Beomgyu was jealous, jealous enough he threw a fit. Seokjin didn’t even know babies as young as Beomgyu could feel an emotion as complex as jealousy, but it did make sense. It started when he walked in with Yeonjun and got progressively worse the more they interacted. 

Seokjin groaned. Of all the reactions he’d thought Beomgyu would have, jealousy wasn’t even on the list. 

“Is my baby jealous?” Seokjin cooed, rubbing his hand up and down Beomgyu’s back. The baby shook as he sniffled.

“His face is beet red. You should see it,” Yoongi chuckled. Seokjin glared but lifted his baby off his shoulder, his heart aching at the blotchy red skin and deep glare settled on Beomgyu’s face. 

“I’m sorry, baby. I know it’ll be hard, but you’ll finally have a hyung to play with,” Seokjin said, cuddling his foster son back to his chest. Once Yoongi had Yeonjun settled in his chair with a breakfast of oatmeal and bananas, Seokjin decided it would be safe to return Beomgyu to his seat as well. 

“Baby crying,” Yeonjun said, watching in rapt interest as Beomgyu’s face fell as Seokjin settled him down.

“Yeah, the baby’s just not used to having to share yet,” Seokjin said, ruffling Yeonjun’s freshly washed hair. The two-year-old chewed thoughtfully, humming lightly.

“You’re baby’s daddy?” Yeonjun asked, pointing at Seokjin. 

“I’m baby’s foster daddy. Just like I’m yours,” Seokjin answered, smiling bitterly. It still tore at his heart to think that Beomgyu was so far out of his reach. 

“Oh,” Was Yeonjun’s only response. Seokjin took a moment to collect himself before making himself a plate of eggs and rice. Beomgyu, as expected, reached for him as soon as he’d sat down. Seokjin broke off little pieces of egg and put them on the baby’s high chair, calming him immediately. 

“Look, says here that the idea that babies can’t feel complex emotions was proven wrong almost twenty years ago,” Yoongi said suddenly, showing Seokjin an old psychology paper printed in the early two-thousands. Seokjin read through it once, his brain whirling at the new information.

He had been adamant that Beomgyu would be his only placement after he’d realized how hard it would be to give him up. Then that call came, and every bit of him screamed to take the needy toddler in. He hadn’t anticipated Beomgyu having feelings about it, especially not ones that complicated. He had been more worried about Beomgyu’s hectic schedule than anything else.

Now he was faced with a dilemma. How does one integrate two children together, when both had such complex backgrounds? Beomgyu had rarely ever been off the hip of one of the four occupants of the house, and Yeonjun was still too timid to do much on his own. Yeonjun had shown interest in Beomgyu, however, which perhaps was the only open door Seokjin would get.

“Would you like to play with Beomgyu today, Yeonjun?” Seokjin asked.

“Yeah, play with baby,” Yeonjun said, already moving to get up out of his seat. Yoongi and Seokjin chuckled as they settled the toddler back down.

“Let’s finish our breakfast first, and then we can go play with some toys,” Seokjin said. The toddler shoveled the rest of his food down quickly, his plate picked up, and put in the sink before Seokjin could even move to help.

“Baby, play,” Yeonjun pointed to Beomgyu, who had long finished his breakfast. Yoongi hopped up and grabbed the baby, motioning for Yeonjun to follow.

“Let’s hope this goes well,” Yoongi crossed his fingers, and Seokjin mimicked him.

It did go well, although, that only applied to the times Seokjin was out Beomgyu’s eyesight. The second the eldest popped his head in to check on them, Beomgyu was back to glaring and refusing to play. 

It wasn’t until late that night, right around the time Beomgyu was due to go down for the first time, that Seokjin realized everything would be okay. 

He stumbled into Beomgyu’s playroom, exhausted from work, only to see Hoseok leaning against the wall smiling widely. Yeonjun was tilted back in the panda bean bag chair, Beomgyu cuddled tightly against his foster brother’s chest. He was fast asleep, suckling lightly on his paci as Yeonjun rubbed his hand up and down Beomgyu’s back. 

“I took so many pictures,” Hoseok gushed, smile so full it could split his cheeks. Seokjin smiled in relief.

“Should we put baby to bed?” Seokjin asked Yeonjun. 

“My baby,” Yeonjun said, wrapping his arms tighter around Beomgyu.

“He’s your baby now?” Seokjin asked with a chuckle.

“Mine,” Yeonjun nodded. 

“You can play with him more tomorrow, buddy. You should be getting into bed too,” Seokjin said, moving to take Beomgyu into his arms. Yeonjun let out an almighty wail at this, his head shaking side to side until Seokjin backed up and away from the two. Shocked by the loud noise, Beomgyu awoke in tears.

“Mine!” Yeonjun shouted, holding the now wriggling baby in his arms. 

“Hey, it’s okay,” Seokjin said soothingly, bending down onto the toddler’s level. He had anticipated Yeonjun having a temper, especially after what he heard of his home life. “We’re just going to go to sleep, and then we’ll all get up and play tomorrow.”

“My baby, no go bye-bye,” Yeonjun cried, fat tears falling down his cheeks. 

“Honey, he’s not going anywhere,” Seokjin felt his heart break. He wondered how many things that Yeonjun loved got taken from him that night. How much fear and pain he must be feeling, not truly knowing where all those things went. Why so much happened to him. He loved Beomgyu, and he didn’t want him to go away too. “Why don’t we all sleep in the same room today, huh?” Seokjin asked. 

“Yeah,” Yeonjun nodded, pushing Beomgyu’s crying frame toward Seokjin. The elder was quick to jump up and take the baby, hushing him soothingly as Hoseok ran to get pillows, blankets, and Yeonjun’s tiny mattress. “Yeonjun, bad.” The little boy said, pointing at himself.

“No, you’re just scared. Jinnie knows, you’re not bad,” Seokjin said, leaning down and pulling the boy to his chest.

“Jinnie mad?” Yeonjun asked, his voice so small and jittery.

“No, Jinnie isn’t mad. You just need to remember Beomgyu’s a baby. You need to be super careful with him,” Seokjin said, looking into the toddler’s eyes. His face scrunched up as he began to cry, little, silent sobs shaking his body. “Jinnie will never be mad at you, Yeonjunnie. Never, I love you so much.”

Seokjin’s life seemed to lead up to a lot of things. The significant moments never felt overshadowed, nor did they seem to fade from his memory. That night, bundled up with Yeonjun under a far too small blanket as Beomgyu slept beside him in his crib, was one of those moments. Crystal clear and impactful, Seokjin used that memory to make his final decision.

He loved those boys, and he would fight for them. No matter how society looked at him for it.

Chapter Text

 Beomgyu’s first birthday crept up on Seokjin faster than a bullet train. The last few months had been filled with social worker visits, visitation for Yeonjun, and several court hearings for both children. Still, even after eleven months, Beomgyu’s parents had not shown their face at a single one, while Yeonjun’s grandparents had only attended a handful.

Hoseok and Yoongi had done the majority of the planning for Beomgyu’s first birthday party, while Jungkook and Seokjin busied themselves with the legal aspect of things. The topic of an involuntary termination of parental rights had been brought up several times, all of which sounds more and more sure than the last. If Beomgyu’s parents didn’t get in contact with them soon, the decision would be in the court’s hands.

Seokjin prayed every night that they never attempted to get in touch. That they had forgotten and moved on with their lives. It had been almost a full year, they couldn’t show back up after that long. Especially not with the amount of pain and trauma they inflicted on him. 

It took months to wean Beomgyu off the cocktail of drugs in his system, and even months later, he was still behind. He couldn’t sleep more than a few hours at a time, couldn’t suckle properly, and had horrific separation anxiety.

Not to mention the fact the baby was underweight, hardly growing lengthwise, and still had a hard time holding himself up, let alone crawling. The idea of the people who did this to his baby popping back up to try and take him made Seokjin’s blood boil. 

Then there was Yeonjun. The sweetest, angelic baby he’d ever had the pleasure of being around. He slept well, ate with gusto, and absolutely adored Beomgyu, even if his dongsaeng’s own schedule was a bit hectic. There was still the glaring fact that he had been mistreated for a long time, and although his grandparents were kind, Seokjin still couldn’t imagine Yeonjun going with them.

After all, they were the ones that sat by and watched as Yeonjun was physically abused and neglected until a daycare worker had stepped up and reported it. Matted, dirty hair and a diaper rash so bad, Yeonjun had screamed and cried a whole week at every change. His fingernails had been blackened with dirt, and even the inside of his ears had been disgusting and painful. 

Then there were the actual injuries. The sprained ankle, bruised ribs, and that cut that had healed into a scar right on Yeonjun’s hairline. A permanent reminder of the man that his parents had entrusted him with before they’d passed. 

Seokjin couldn’t think about things like birthdays when he was so worried about parents and grandparents, court hearings, and social workers. It wasn’t until March 1st when Seokjin startled, his eyes caught on the date long enough Yeonjun whined in his arms that he was bored and wanted down. 

“It’s March?” Seokjin screeched, catching eyes with Yoongi. The man sighed and put the coffee pot down. 

“I was going to say something next week,” Yoongi said guiltily, wringing his hands together. “You’ve been so busy. Hoseok and I have handled almost everything.”

“I can’t believe it. I work so hard to keep him, and I can’t even remember his birthday,” Seokjin scoffed, wiping at his face in frustration. Yoongi walked toward him slowly, careful not to tread on his space. 

“We still have two weeks, it’s fine. Don’t do this to yourself,” Yoongi seemed to steel himself, tense shoulders up to his ears. Then, as quick as lightning, Seokjin had a small pair of arms wrapped awkwardly around his back. The tears came faster, his own arms coming up to hug the other back. 

The phone rang. Seokjin and Yoongi broke apart, eyes falling on the number displayed. They both paused, and Seokjin’s heart clenched up in his chest. 

“Answer it,” Yoongi whispered, nodding his head. Seokjin walked forward and answered the call.

“Hello?” Seokjin said.

“Is this Kim Seokjin?” A familiar voice said over the phone.

“Yes, this is he,” Seokjin responded, holding his hand out for Yoongi. He hated these calls, the ones from the social worker updating him on his kids. 

“I hope you’re having a good morning. We have a potential placement for you,” The woman said, and Seokjin and Yoongi’s mouths hit the floor. 

“Yes, it’s been a great morning, thank you,” Seokjin said, trying not to let his surprise show. “What little soul have we got today?”

“Another boy, just over a year old.”

An hour later, a tiny little boy with long brown hair was being placed in his arms. He was fast asleep, red cheeks burning against Seokjin’s neck. His heart ached in worry for the small child. He was so warm, his body shaking as chills wracked his body. He was small, much bigger than Beomgyu, but still hardly what a one-year-old should weigh. He felt fragile, just like his boys.

“The fever is under control, but if it spikes back up, call me and take him in,” The woman said, running a finger over the baby’s flushed nose. He sniffled, pulling his legs up underneath himself to rest more comfortably on Seokjin’s chest. 

“Okay, poor baby,” Seokjin sighed, resigning himself to a full day on the couch with his new addition. 

“Alright, well, I’ll be off. I’ll see you in a few weeks,” the woman said, moving to pick up her purse. “Bye, Soobinie. You’ll be well taken care of with Jinnie.” And she was gone, back in her sleek black car and driving off. 

“Jinnie?” A little voice called. Seokjin turned to see Yeonjun peeking from behind the wall that divided the kitchen and living room. 

“Yes, baby?” Seokjin asked, moving to sit down so Soobin would be more comfortable.

“Is she gone?” Yeonjun asked, still refusing to come out from behind the wall.

“Yes, why don’t you come see our new baby?” Seokjin said, giving Yeonjun an encouraging smile. The boy came out of hiding, but reluctantly. There was nothing the two-year-old hated more than when the social worker came to visit, especially since it could mean another visit with his grandparents. 

“Baby sick?” Yeonjun asked, pulling himself up onto the couch. He buried himself under Seokjin’s arm, face wide with wonder at his new dongsaeng. 

“Yeah, baby’s sick. He’s going to need lots of our love to help him get better, okay?” Seokjin said, smiling as Yeonjun rubbed his little hand through Soobin’s dark brown hair.

Hoseok had chucked himself down the stairs at the news of a new placement, his gangly limbs catching on the last stair as he tumbled to the floor. Yeonjun covered his mouth and laughed, giddy and surprised. “Wow,” Yeonjun said, laying his head back down on Seokjin’s shoulder.

“Who’s this?” Hoseok asked with a broad smile, not even bothering to discuss his fall. 

“This is Soobin,” Seokjin said. Hoseok cooed and rubbed a finger up and down the baby’s heated face.

“Story?” Hoseok asked, settling himself next to Seokjin to admire the cute baby.

“Mom left him in a car overnight. Negative ten degrees, can’t believe someone could be that cruel,” Seokjin explained, trying his best not to let his tone turn sour. Yeonjun still had trouble with negative tones in voices.

“There was no other family he could go to?” Hoseok frowned.

“She was an ex-pat, apparently,” Seokjin shrugged. He didn’t want to spend too much time focusing on the woman that caused this. 

“Don’t get too attached, hyung. This one might not be permanent,” Hoseok said morosely. Seokjin nodded but didn’t verbally respond. Unless the baby’s other family refused him, it was likely not to last very long at all. He still held the baby tight, desperate to feel some life come back into the tiny boy.

Beomgyu’s first birthday party turned out better than Seokjin could have ever imagined. Hoseok and Yoongi had genuinely put in a lot of valuable effort for the baby, and it showed in everything. 

They’d themed the party around Mickey Mouse, Beomgyu’s favorite thing to sit and watch. Jungkook, despite being busy himself with work and helping Seokjin, had taken the time to make Beomgyu an adorable hat. It was beautiful, glittery and perfectly painted with Mickey ears up on the top. Then there was the added ‘I’m 1!’ in a lovely white print that had Seokjin’s heart full every time he saw it. 

Jimin and Taehyung, despite not being the cooks of the group, had taken the time to make Mickey Mouse cupcakes for Yeonjun and Soobin. Jimin had even gone and bought a cake for Beomgyu to tear into, expensive and well decorated despite how quickly it would be destroyed.

“You guys have no idea how grateful I am for you,” Seokjin cried, overwhelmed by the amount of support. 

“It takes a village, hyung,” Jimin said, placing the beautiful cake down on the counter. 

Once Namjoon had arrived, everyone converged in the kitchen. Beomgyu was placed in his high chair next to Soobin’s, and Yeonjun was allowed to crawl up onto the table. The cake Jimin had bought was put on the high chair, the baby’s eyes widening at the sight. 

“Happy birthday to you,” They all began to sing, even Yeonjun joining in. “Happy birthday to you,”

“--happy birthday Kim Beomgyu!” That’s where the song shifted. Seokjin had sung the boy’s given last name, not wanting to sound bad despite how much his family knew of his desire to keep him. He struggled over the last part of the song, hands coming to cover his eyes. All of them finished the song together happily, clapping at the end.

“Eat-eat, Beomgyu! Yummy,” Taehyung said, pointing to the cake. Beomgyu stared up at Taehyung, slapping his hand on the highchair.

“Yum,” Beomgyu mimicked, slapping his hand into the red and black icing. He took a small bite, his body wiggling at the taste. Taehyung danced with him, smiling widely as Beomgyu continued to eat. 

“How about my Soobinie? Does he want yum-yums too?” Jimin came forward with one of the cupcakes, removing the lining before setting it in front of him. Soobin looked up curiously at them before using his pointer finger in the icing. He licked it off, going back for more as soon as he’d finished. 

“Ah, I knew I was a good baker,” Taehyung boasted, squishing Soobin’s chubby cheeks in his fingers. 

“Me too, me too!” Yeonjun called, standing up to hop off the table. Namjoon and Yoongi both shouted in fear at the same time, the smaller of the two jumping forward to catch the two-year-old. 

“Here’s my Junnie’s cake,” Hoseok called, setting the cake down at the table. 

“Yum! Thank you!” Yeonjun said before taking a large bite out of the icing. In the end, they were left with three dirty babies and an excellent memory. 

The occupants of the house all slept in the same room again, Soobin and Beomgyu fast asleep while Yeonjun pretended to read them a story. There was nothing more than Seokjin wanted than to have this every day. 

Soobin would be Seokjin’s last placement. There was no doubt in his mind. He simply couldn’t bear the thought of falling in love with another child only to be plagued with the fear of having to give them up. 

“Maybe you can try just adopting?” Hoseok said, lying down beside him. 

“Yeah, maybe,” Seokjin said, allowing his eyes to slip closed. 

Chapter Text

The news of Soobin’s parents relinquishing parental rights came only a few weeks after he’d been placed with them.

The social worker had called, letting them know that it was likely his stay would be longer. They were looking into other families, they’d said, but Seokjin bit his lip and said nothing that would give away his excitement. The baby that seemed the farthest out of his reach was now closer than either of the others.

“Soobinie, do you want strawberries?” Seokjin asked the baby as he was preparing snacks. 

“Mm,” Soobin responded, going back to pushing his toy car on the carpeted floor. Beomgyu, despite only being a few months younger, was still stuck sitting still on a blanket watching. He’d only within the past couple weeks gotten used to crawling, while Soobin was already up and walking with few stumbles. 

“Beommie eat-eat strawberries, Jinnie,” Yeonjun said, walking into the room with a book under his arm. He settled himself down next to his youngest dongsaeng and opened the book, launching into babbles. 

“What about my Junnie?” Seokjin asked, cutting up enough strawberries to fill three bowls.

“Yeah, eat-eat strawberries,” He responded, pulling Beomgyu down to lay on his lap. The baby cuddled up there, eyes trained on the upside-down book. Yeonjun flipped through the pages quickly, hardly staying on one long enough to constitute a full story. It still seemed to enrapture Beomgyu. 

“That!” Soobin shouted, dropping his car the second the strawberries were laid down on the table. “That, that!” He kept saying, holding his arms up for Seokjin to pick him up. The eldest laughed and lifted his baby up, settling him into his high chair. Soobin was quick to dig in, the foodie of their family happy with the sweet fruit.

“Mine!” Beomgyu shouted next, the only word he’d managed to learn aside from ‘dada’ since he’d turned one. Yeonjun helped Beomgyu up onto his feet, but the baby wobbled and hit the ground.

“Uh-oh!” Yeonjun chuckled, squishing Beomgyu’s cheeks to keep him from crying. 

“Mine!” Beomgyu said instead, pulling himself onto all fours to crawl into the kitchen. Yeonjun strolled behind him, making sure he didn’t fall like he’d seen so many times. The baby still had a small fading bruise from where he’d hit his head on the kitchen floor. 

“Thank you, Junnie. You’re such a good hyung,” Seokjin smiled, lifting Beomgyu up into his high chair. 

“You’re welcome,” Yeonjun smiled proudly, loving any excuse to use his new phrase. He clambered his way into a chair, and waited patiently to be served, used to being last in the order. Seokjin had tried serving him first as the eldest a few times, but Yeonjun refused to eat until his dongsaengs had already taken their first bites. 

“Eat up, boys,” Seokjin said, going to wash the dishes he’d used to prepare their snack. 

“Slow, Binnie!” Yeonjun called as Soobin coughed around a strawberry. “You’ll hurt,” He said matter of factly, popping another strawberry into his own mouth and showing how to chew properly. Soobin watched him before copying, chewing with his mouth wide open dramatically.

“Yum,” Soobin said, smiling at his brother.

“Good boy,” Yeonjun responded happily, satisfied by his brother’s newfound ability to chew correctly. 

“I can’t handle it,” Hoseok’s voice called from the archway into the kitchen. 

“Isn’t he wonderful?” Seokjin asked, ruffling Yeonjun’s hair. 

“Perfect. Absolute doll baby,” Hoseok responded, kissing the child’s chubby cheekbones. Yeonjun giggled and waved Hoseok away. “I heard about Soobin’s parents.”

“The social worker thinks they’re hiding something. It was really sudden. Dad hadn’t even been around for months,” Seokjin explained, going to start on a pot of noodles for lunch. Hoseok moved to help him, pulling out the necessary ingredients for a nice, savory meal of jjajangmyeon. A little heavy for lunch, but dinner would be late.

“Do you think he’s been, you know?” Hoseok said, motioning toward Yeonjun instead of voicing his thoughts out loud.

“Maybe. He was observed at the hospital. They didn’t find any physical evidence,” Seokjin said. 

“He does really bad with diaper changes though, hyung. It worries me,” Hoseok said, putting a pot of water on the stove.

“Baths too. He doesn’t want me to touch him at all at bath time,” Seokjin sighed, reluctantly admitting his fears despite trying to keep them wrapped up. “I try to wash him with a cloth while he’s asleep, but if he wakes up, he’s hysterical.”

“I thought it was just me,” Hoseok sighed in relief, looking at the baby. He was now eating strawberries Yeonjun was passing him, the little one having finished all of his quickly. 

“Can I pipe in?” Jungkook asked from where he was leaning against the archway. Seokjin nodded.

“He freaks out if I even try to change his clothes. He was screaming bloody murder when I changed his shirt after applesauce yesterday,” Jungkook said, grabbing more of the cut strawberries for Yeonjun and Soobin. 

“I don’t think we should keep ignoring that. Beomgyu has never done that, but Yeonjun has. It’s a big difference,” Hoseok said, taking the hand Beomgyu held out for him. Beomgyu loved hearing his own name.

“I’ll bring it up to her when she visits today,” Seokjin sighed, rubbing his face tiredly. Of all the conversations he wanted to have, that wasn’t one of them. 

“Pororo?” Yeonjun looked at Beomgyu suddenly. The baby nodded his head wildly, big brown eyes looking pleadingly up at Seokjin. 

“Finish your strawberries, silly,” Seokjin rolled his eyes. “Jungkookie-hyung spoils you.” The man had already run off to turn the television on and start the program. 

“I love you, hyung!” Yeonjun called to Jungkook. 

“I love you, Yeonjunnie!” Jungkook called back. Yeonjun giggled happily.

“Wo-you!” Soobin called next, waving a strawberry in the air before popping it in his mouth.

“I wove you, Binnie,” Jungkook smiled. 

“You!” Beomgyu shouted. “-ov, you!” All three mouths dropped at the attempt to speak. 

“My baby!” Seokjin squealed, running over and lifting Beomgyu into the air. “Did you try to say I love you?” Beomgyu smiled, using both of his little hands to pull Seokjin’s face to his own. They were nose to nose as Beomgyu sucked in another breath.

“-ov, you!” He said. Seokjin whooped for joy, tickling the baby under his armpits and cuddling him close. Beomgyu laughed happily, burying his face in Seokjin’s neck.

“I love you, Beomgyu,” Seokjin said, his heart full.

“I love you, Jinnie!” Yeonjun said, followed close by with Soobin’s own attempt at saying it. 

Seokjin would let the boys watch Pororo all day as long as he got to see their smiling faces. He adored them, the love overwhelming. He never thought he could feel so much for another person until they waltzed into his life.

At four pm, Yeonjun and Soobin’s social worker was there for a visit. She sat on the couch with a cup of tea as they discussed anything that needed to be brought up. 

“Do you have any concerns?” The woman asked, beginning to wrap up their meeting. He was sad to think that he may just prolong it much longer than he’d thought. 

So he brought up all of the concerns he had about Soobin. The baths, diaper changes, changing his clothes. How Beomgyu had never exhibited any of those behaviors, but Yeonjun had and still did. She listened intently, jotting down notes as he spoke. 

“Unfortunately, that does complicate things,” The woman sighed, making a final note on her paper. “It will have to be investigated. This will bring his parents back into the picture, but they will continue to have no contact. You may need to testify your findings at the next court hearing for him,” The woman said, packing up her notebook.

“I understand, thank you,” Seokjin said, lifting himself up to see her out. 

“You have one more meeting today, right?” The woman asked.

“Yes, with Beomgyu’s caseworker,” Seokjin said. She hummed thoughtfully and went to put her shoes on.

“I’ll be in contact soon. Thank you for letting me know,” She said, bidding him goodbye.

Beomgyu’s caseworker was the next to arrive, the woman smiling as if bearing happy news. They settled on the couch in the same spots as the previous meeting, a new cup of tea on the table.

“I have good news,” the woman said, taking Seokjin’s hands. “Our next hearing will be a termination of parental rights hearing. If they don’t show up, parental rights will be terminated, and Beomgyu will be free in the system. He will be available for adoption,” Seokjin couldn’t breathe. 

“What?” Seokjin asked, tears already welling up. 

“I know that the goal is to reunite, but Beomgyu has known no other family. He adores you and your brother, and I think it’s in his best interest. One more,” The woman smiled at him, and suddenly the whole year leading up to that moment was validated. The hectic sleep schedule, missing work, or going in late, Jungkook quitting his job and taking classes online; it all made sense. It wasn’t worthless.

“Thank you,” Seokjin cried, letting the woman hug him tightly. 

“Thank you,” She said. “You gave him such a wonderful home filled with so much love. I see it every time I come to visit. He’s happy and well cared for, and he will thrive with you.”

“I’ll give him everything I can,” Seokjin said, meaning it wholeheartedly. His whole life revolved around his three boys, and he would do anything for them. 

“I don’t doubt it,” She smiled. “The family he has in Daegu refused him, so that shouldn’t be an obstacle. Unless someone randomly comes out of the woodwork with a closer relationship than you two, then we should have no problems,” She said. Seokjin nodded, reminding himself that they still weren’t in the clear yet. Blood always meant more than a bond at this point.

The woman left him in high spirits. He gave his babies extra cuddles that night, all his love pouring into them until it overwhelmed them. 

Soobin and Beomgyu were fast asleep on his chest, their little hands on top of each other. Yeonjun was busy searching for dinosaur bones in kinetic sand with Yoongi, the toddler happily flinging it around and all over the paint tarp on the floor. It was a vast improvement from when he had been terrified of making any mess. 

“How was work?” Seokjin whispered, afraid of waking the babies on his chest.

“Busy,” Yoongi chuckled, helping Yeonjun pack sand into a small mound. “Namjoon’s got a few good lyric ideas, though. We should be done with this project by Friday.” 

“That’s good. They miss you,” Seokjin said, motioning toward the three babies. Yoongi smiled sadly. 

“I miss them, too. Beomgyu’s baby cuddles help me write,” Yoongi shrugged, embarrassed. It was no secret that Yoongi worked better with Beomgyu asleep on his lap. It had improved even more with the addition of Soobin, the baby more of a koala than anything. He had no reservations about crawling up into laps and falling asleep with his thumb in his mouth. 

“I wish Yeonjun were more cuddly,” Seokjin admitted, watching the baby explorer.

“He’s still getting over his experiences,” Yoongi answered, bitterly. “He’ll be more used to touch from adults one day.”

“I hope so. I love my cuddles,” Seokjin pouted, laying his head on top of Soobin’s. The baby cuddled closer, his hand holding tight onto Seokjin’s shirt. “I adore him.”

“He’s perfect,” Yoongi agreed. Soobin had been the best addition to their family. He was great at playing by himself, but still humored Yeonjun’s need to be a helicopter hyung. Beomgyu loved to babble and play with him. They had even begun to need each other to fall asleep. It would break his heart to see the three separated after such a strong bond had formed. 

“I’m worried about what Beomgyu and Soobin will be like when they’re older,” Seokjin chuckled, thinking back a few weeks prior. He had caught Soobin in the cabinet, pulling out snacks with Beomgyu waiting at his feet. They’d ended up needing help to open the bags, but it still amazed Seokjin that they’d managed to get that far. They’d ended up with six or seven bags of rice snacks at their feet before anyone had said anything.

Soobin hadn’t been the least bit guilty, either. He’d laughed and laughed, while Beomgyu just looked like a startled deer. Yeonjun had ended up hopping forward to open the bag, making sure they were both sitting correctly before feeding them. 

None of them had bothered to scold them for sneaking food. It had been too cute, and really no harm had been done. 

“Think we should put them to bed?” Seokjin asked, checking the time. It was only seven-thirty, but there was no use waiting another half an hour if the babies were asleep already. Yoongi nodded and had Yeonjun help him clean the mess of kinetic sand. Once the toy was put away, he took Soobin from Seokjin’s chest and carried him upstairs.

“Goodnight, babies,” Seokjin said, flicking the lights off to their shared room. 

“Kiss ni-night,” Yeonjun said, darting over to give the babies kisses. Yoongi lifted him up and helped him lean over the crib. 

“Soobinie, mine,” Yeonjun said, walking out the door to his own room. Seokjin and Yoongi looked at each other and smiled.

Once Yeonjun decided something was his, it wasn’t going anywhere. 

Chapter Text

Seokjin bolted out of the front door at one forty-two a.m., August 15. It was muggy and hot, but that didn’t stop the man from hopping into his car in jeans and a sweater. He was driving down the street faster than legally allowed, Jungkook’s car -- that had once been behind him -- lost a few blocks back. 

He’d received another call for a placement, but the fear and anger in the social worker’s voice had been apparent from the start. It put him on edge, his own body bristling before he’d even heard anything about the child. Then she told him; twins, one far smaller and barely alive, both dirty and overheated, found in a box in a trash heap behind a street stall in Seoul. 

He needed to get there. The second twin was critical, and the first was in desperate need of care. The woman had already told him to anticipate only taking one of them home, but he couldn’t accept that. He asked Hoseok to set up two cribs in the empty room on the first floor, and despite the apprehension, the man had agreed. 

He parked his car and ran inside, the social worker already waiting for him in the front. She took him back to the NICU, showing one of the two babies to him.

His name was Huening Kai. He was small, only slightly bigger than Beomgyu had been in the hospital. He was breathing deep and slow, his chest expanding with great effort. Redness covered his body, from the top of his head to the tips of his impossibly tiny toes. He stared for a long time, long enough that the social worker had put a hand on his shoulder to get his attention.

“Huening is the bigger twin. He’s being treated for heatstroke and chest injuries,” The woman said, but Seokjin couldn’t hear anything past the first sentence. If Huening Kai, only slightly bigger than Beomgyu, was the bigger twin, what did the other look like?

“Is he-?” Seokjin paused, unable to finish. 

“He will be okay. Would you like to meet Taehyun?” She asked, and Seokjin swallowed hard before nodding. They walked a little farther down until they stopped at the edge of the room, all of the breath in Seokjin’s lungs flying out of him.

Taehyun was so small he could easily fit in his palms. He had a feeding tube in his nose, barely more than two tiny specks on his face, and many wires and tubes coming from everywhere else. There were several nurses around him, all monitoring the computer just next to the baby’s incubator. 

“Oh, God,” Seokjin said, wiping the tears from his eyes.

“They were born prematurely. They’re probably only a few hours old. A group of teenagers heard Huening crying and came across them. Said they were only a few minutes away from being found by a few strays,” The woman said, biting her lip. Seokjin bristled, his hands balling into fists. How dare someone leave helpless, defenseless children to die? How dare someone leave them to be mauled to death or suffocate in the heat? He could hardly breathe, overwhelmed. 

“Why aren’t they together?” Seokjin choked, trying to calm his shaking.

“Heuning is too overheated to be in the same incubator as Taehyun. They said once his temperature calms down, they can be moved,” she responded. Seokjin hummed, eyes flitting back to the baby on the other end of the hall. All that time spent together, and now they might as well be separated by an ocean. 

“They could’ve at least put them in the same area,” Seokjin sighed. The woman nodded but didn’t say anything. They stood in silence next to each other for an extended period that was only broken by the arrival of his housemates. Jungkook, Hoseok, and Yoongi stumbled over each other, desperate to see the babies. 

“Where are they?” Hoseok asked, looking around. Seokjin pointed to the tiny child in the incubator in front of them.

“This is Taehyun,” Seokjin said. Each of the three faces fell quickly, all of them taking in how small the child was. “All the way over there, in Australia, is Huening Kai,” Seokjin said bitterly. Jungkook came forward and hugged him, unable to handle the anger on his elder brother’s face. 

“I know, it’s okay. They’ll be together,” Jungkook said, patting him on the back. 

“I hope,” Seokjin said, thinking back to what the woman mentioned earlier. He might only be bringing one of them home. 

“I know this is a bad time, but the court is likely to decide to terminate parental rights quickly. They’ll be free in the system--”

“I want to petition to adopt them,” Seokjin interrupted, eyes not leaving Taehyun.

“It’s unlikely that it’ll be easy,” she started, but Seokjin just shrugged.

“They can’t hand them over to the teenagers that found them,” Seokjin said, and the woman nodded in agreement. “I gave my all to Beomgyu when they gave him to me, screaming and in pain. I’ll give my all to them when they give them to me.” Yoongi blew through the other two to grab onto Seokjin, both of them rocking side to side as they hugged.

“I know this is hard, would you like some time?” The woman asked, but Seokjin just shook his head.

“No, I’ll be okay.”

That left him with the typical paperwork he’d gotten suddenly used to filling out. Huening Kai and Taehyun were officially under his care, and the social worker was gone for the night. No doubt, she would return with news quickly, but he wanted to spend the next few hours with his family. 

Yoongi and Seokjin cuddled up on the bench just outside the NICU, waiting desperately for one of the nurses to allow them to see the babies. Jungkook, having class in the morning, left to return home and relieve Jimin of babysitting. Hoseok had his shoulder pressed against the glass, lips pulled down in a frown as he watched Taehyun.

“Do you think he’s going to make it, hyung?” Hoseok asked, looking back pleadingly at Seokjin. Hoseok was the last one to take sad news well. When he’d heard that the second baby might not make it, he’d crumbled. It had taken the whole ride for Yoongi to calm the younger down, and it was apparent the calm was just poorly concealing his panic.

“I do,” Seokjin said, determined. “He’s here. He made it through so much already.”

“More than most adults,” Yoongi agreed, cautiously taking Seokjin’s shaky hand into his own. Seokjin jumped but didn’t remove his hand from the other’s grip. 

“I’m going to go see Kai,” Hoseok said, stalking away to stare at the other baby. Seokjin watched him go, wanting to get up and join but unable to lift himself up. He felt exhausted somehow. It had been torture watching his children go through what they had, but he’d never experienced that level of uncertainty. 

Beomgyu had been in excruciating pain, but he would live. He’d always known Beomgyu would be coming home with him. Yeonjun had been hurt, abused, and neglected, but still very much alive. Even Soobin, who had come to him lethargic and burning, had recovered without another trip to the hospital. Taehyun…

Taehyun didn’t even look alive despite what the monitors were saying. He was almost deathly still, breathing so shallow Seokjin wasn’t sure if he was imagining it or not. The wires and breathing tubes were cloaking him, leaving only little bits and pieces of him visible. A peak of tiny toes, the two dark holes of his nostrils, a tuft of hair. 

Even his fingers, the ones that reminded him of Beomgyu’s itty bitty ones, were covered with tape and gauze. Of all the things covering the baby, that was the most familiar. He’d never forget the feeling of holding Beomgyu’s hand with it covered and hard to see. 

Finally, Seokjin clambered to his feet to go and peek in at Kai. Somehow, his full name wouldn’t roll off his lips. It felt too long, and maybe even a little dirty on his tongue. His given name, the name of the person that left him. No, he couldn’t call the baby that. Kai was just fine.

He was bigger than his twin, but not overly so. He was still smaller than Beomgyu had been three weeks premature. He was more visible, less wire covering him, but yet the feeding tube, gauze on his hands, and countless monitors remained. His breathing was more exaggerated still, reassuring Seokjin that he didn’t imagine it and that the baby was still there.

Seokjin wanted to hold Kai, whisper to him that everything would be alright. That he and his twin would be together soon, and that once they were all better, they’d come home and meet their new hyungs. He wanted to tell Kai that he was safe. That he was loved already. 

“Is this how you felt with Beomgyu?” Yoongi asked, coming to stand next to him. Seokjin nodded curtly, biting his lip. 

“Little bit worse. I wasn’t as scared,” Seokjin admitted, allowing Yoongi to take his hand. 

It was another week before Seokjin was allowed to hold Kai for the first time. Once he was allowed, he hardly stopped. He told the baby all the things he wanted to say to him, cuddled him as he cried through the pain of his fever, and kissed him as he tucked him into sleep. Yoongi had been too afraid to hold the baby, but he was still always by his side every time, just like Jungkook had been for Beomgyu.

Two weeks later, once Kai’s fever broke, Taehyun was moved into the same incubator as his twin. Almost immediately, the tiny baby’s condition improved. Seokjin had wanted to boast to the world that he’d known keeping them apart was a terrible idea. Still, he knew it was in bad taste and instead saved it for when he could whisper to Kai as he rocked him to sleep. 

Kai had almost completely healed by the time the first month had wrapped up. It was nearing Yeonjun’s birthday, which meant Seokjin’s visits had gone down a little to accommodate for planning and being with his almost three-year-old. His babies had missed him terribly, and he couldn’t leave them alone for so long for much longer.

He had hoped that Kai’s discharge date would be later, despite how much he wanted the baby to come home. He couldn’t bear the thought of Taehyun alone, nor did he want Yeonjun to feel overshadowed by the new arrival popping up on what should be his day. In the end, Kai’s discharge date was made for September 14, one day after Yeonjun’s birthday, and Seokjin decided to roll with the punches and accept it.

Yeonjun’s birthday was wonderful. Seokjin’s friends and family had gone all out for the boy’s third birthday, but his first with his new family. He was given paint sets, new kinetic sand, slime, a new tricycle, and a sled for once the snow returned. The best present of all to the baby, no doubt, was the announcement that Seokjin had signed him up for dance. 

There was nothing better to the toddler than the fact uncle Hobi would be his new teacher, and he’d get to copy Jungkook’s practices at home. 

They sang happy birthday to the toddler, Yeonjun blowing out the yellow candles on his cake with enough force to get them on the first try. He ate the delicious, minion shaped sweet with gusto, and even had enough left over to feed the still whining Soobin. 

“I can’t call him a baby anymore, can I?” Seokjin pouted as Yeonjun ran off, calling that he had to wash his hands and use the potty. Yoongi smiled and patted him on the back.

“I don’t know, seems pretty small for an adult to me,” Yoongi responded. Seokjin smacked him lightly on the chest.

“Shut up. You know what I mean,” Seokjin said.

“I always said if they can potty on their own, they’re not a baby, but I can’t imagine Yeonjun not being a baby,” Jungkook piped up, wiping Soobin and Beomgyu’s dirty faces with a baby wipe. 

“I can’t either. They’re growing up too fast,” Seokjin said, looking at his babies. Soobin was only three months away from being two years old, and Beomgyu was coming up quickly behind. Pretty soon, his babies would be big, and he had no idea how he’d handle it. 

“You still have Kai and Taehyun, hyung, don’t worry,” Jimin said, cleaning up the plates left behind by the babies. Seokjin nodded happily. He did still have two more babies, even if they still weren’t ready to be with him yet. Newborns, no less. He hadn’t gotten to raise a newborn in far too long. He missed it, no matter how hard it had been.

The next day Seokjin was walking out of the hospital with Kai in his car seat, the nurses up front clapping as they exited. Seokjin, Yoongi, and Taehyung bowed as they exited, smiling brightly. Their baby was coming home, healthy, and ready to meet his new family. It still hurt that they were leaving Taehyun alone, but the smallest was getting closer and closer to his own release date. They just had to hold on.

Once they got home, Kai was wide awake. Yeonjun came running, excited to meet his new little brother, with Soobin hot on his heels. Beomgyu, still not able to walk very well, was slow coming but following behind. 

“He’s so cute!” Yeonjun shouted, covering his mouth. He rubbed his fingers over Kai’s thin, reddened cheeks. The baby went cross-eyed as Yeonjun’s finger entered his vision to go and rub on the other cheek. 

“Baby!” Soobin clapped once Yeonjun moved away. The three year old helped Beomgyu walk forward, whispering to him about how cute their new brother was. Soobin however, seemed far more enraptured than the other two combined. His eyes were wide, little hand patting idly on the baby’s onesie covered leg. “Baby?” He asked, looking up at Seokjin.

“Yes, our baby,” Seokjin nodded down at Soobin.

“I wove you,” Soobin whispered, leaning forward and placing a sloppy kiss on Kai’s forehead. Seokjin’s heart constricted. Another quick duo.

“I love him, too, Jinnie,” Yeonjun said, smiling up at his foster dad.

“Wove,” Beomgyu said, holding his arms up as if asking for a hug. When no one stepped forward to give him one, the baby grumbled and whined. Yeonjun hopped up then and wrapped his arms around his brother, squeezing him tight until Beomgyu was giggling happily.

“Where’s baby’s brother?” Yeonjun asked, looking around as if Taehyun would be somewhere he couldn’t see. 

“Kai’s brother is still sick, honey. He’ll be home soon,” Seokjin said, not wanting to think about the three long weeks they’d still have to wait before Taehyun and Kai were back together again. Yeonjun seemed to take soon well, however. He simply hopped up and down for a moment before deciding it was time to show the new baby the entire house.

Chapter Text

Seokjin brought Kai with him on each visit to the hospital. 

Taehyun was getting better, slowly crawling his way toward the day he could finally come home. The biggest accomplishment for the tiny baby had been his ability to breathe on his own. The NICU nurses had joined in on the excitement with Seokjin, and he’d even received a few claps on the back and an odd hug on his way out. Everyone was rooting for Taehyun, and Seokjin could only pray the love and support would help his baby hold on.

It was no secret that Kai being in the NICU helped Taehyun’s recovery. He’d improved much faster, held his temperature better, and even interacted more when his twin was with him. With Kai gone, he had become more lethargic, his fevers returned, and his recovery seemed to stagnate. That’s what led to Seokjin’s decision to bring Kai for their visits, and even Yeonjun tagged along happily before Hoseok came to get him for dance.

Once his twin returned, Taehyun was back to clambering his way toward good health. The nurses had told him that despite his incline, there was still long term damage to consider. Seokjin hadn’t bothered to worry about such things when Taehyun being alive seemed like such a gift. 

Then one day, Taehyun’s body was almost entirely visible to him. His eyes, ears, tiny little mouth, and thin cheeks were on full display. His tummy, slightly rounded with baby fat, only covered by a few monitors. His hands and feet were still covered, but that felt familiar enough that it allowed Seokjin to breathe deep and relieved. Suddenly, the long term seemed like more of a pressing concern.

Seokjin could finally hold on to the fact that there would be a long term for Taehyun. 

Kai was asleep on his lap one hot, October morning, when the nurse came out to speak to him. Seokjin handed the sleeping baby off to Yoongi, who’d been working on his laptop uncomfortably on the bench. She smiled at them both, hands clasped together.

“Would you like to hold Taehyun?” She asked, and Seokjin was moving before he could even think to respond. 

He walked up to the baby, fast asleep just like his twin, and reached a hand out. Seokjin rubbed his finger over the baby’s hidden ones, trailing down his body until he could graze over the bandages on his chest. His heart lurched. This baby had been through so much, and yet here he was. Fighting to stay with them, despite everyone having given up the very first night. 

He was careful as he lifted the tiny, fragile baby into his arms. Taehyun snuffled, his hands and legs contracting in toward his center. Seokjin shushed him, bringing him close to his chest and cuddling him there. Taehyun began to cry, tiny little noises softer than any Seokjin had ever heard. He cooed to the baby, singing to him that he would be alright, everything would be over soon. 

When Taehyun’s eyes opened for the first time, Seokjin’s body melted. Those tiny brown eyes looked up into his own, the cries dying out until the two were swallowed in silence. Seokjin couldn’t imagine that. There was no doubt that the baby in his arms was awake and breathing. That he would come home with them. 

“Can I--?” Seokjin heard from behind him. He turned to see Yoongi, Kai cuddled up against his chest, staring intensely at Taehyun. Seokjin nodded and settled Taehyun back in his cot, soothing him as the baby began to cry again. Once Kai was safely settled into Seokjin’s arms, Yoongi stepped forward, frozen in front of the softly crying baby. 

“He wants to be held,” Seokjin encouraged, nodding toward the baby. Yoongi allowed his body to relax before lifting the baby up and into his arms, Taehyun almost instantly quieting. 

“Oh,” Yoongi said, staring at the baby’s half-opened eyes. Seokjin watched as Yoongi slowly became more and more comfortable, the tension in his shoulders giving way so Taehyun could rest comfortably. It was the first time anyone except Seokjin himself had swallowed the fear of hurting the baby and stepped forward. It made Seokjin’s heart constrict, every beat amplified as if through a speaker. 

He was in way too deep. He wondered for a moment if that was a character flaw of his. Falling too hard and too fast all at once. Seokjin sometimes had a hard time believing anyone else would’ve fought so hard to keep children they were fostering. He knew going in that the goal was to reunify families, but after what his kids had gone through, he simply couldn’t imagine them back with the same people.

If it wasn’t them, then who else would it be? A neighbor they’d never met, or a distant family friend? It seemed too bias somehow. A person that knew the baby’s parents so well that they were trusted by the system. Seokjin knew it would do him no good to lump all people into a single box, but it was hard. Maybe it was the fact that Seokjin knew the babies, and those people only knew the parents. 

If anyone asked, that would be his answer.

Then there was Yoongi. His best friend from elementary school; the poor, tiny little picked on kid that sat in the back and kept his head down. He had been the one by Seokjin’s side when he trained to become a foster parent, and even when his first placement had popped up. Yoongi had been too busy to accompany him to the hospital. Still, there were few faces Beomgyu could know better than Seokjin, Yoongi, and Jungkook.

Seokjin couldn’t help crashing when he saw how gently Yoongi held Taehyun. How cautious of the wires and injuries he was, how he held himself in the perfect position for the tiny child to sleep. It was overwhelming. Seokjin found himself overwhelmed a lot. 

“I get it,” Yoongi whispered, breaking Seokjin out of his thoughts. He looked up, startled to see tears trickling down Yoongi’s face. “I get how it felt.” Yoongi nodded as if all of his most profound questions had finally been answered. His bottom lip was lost in between his teeth, red and raw when it reappeared. 

“Yoon-” Seokjin sighed, using his free hand to pat the younger on the back.

“He has to come home. Kai needs him, and Yeonjun adores him. I’m sure Soobin and Beomgyu would love him too,” Yoongi said, hardly taking a breath. “I love him. I love all of them, but I’ve never felt so…” He trailed off.

“Terrified. Determined. There are a few words I’d use, but I get it,” Seokjin smiled, soothingly rubbing his hand up and down Yoongi’s back. Once he’d calmed again, and Taehyun was fast asleep, they decided it was time to return home to the other babies. “We’re so close, Yoongi,” Seokjin said as he dragged the younger out of the NICU.

“I know. It’s just, really…” 

“Overwhelming. I know.”

October 13th, Jimin’s birthday, was the day that Taehyun was finally deemed healthy enough to come home. He was still unable to suckle properly, so the feeding tube wouldn’t be removed. Yet, everything else had been by the time Seokjin and Jungkook came to pick him up that day. It was the first time Seokjin got to see his baby without any sort of medical equipment, and he couldn’t deny that he’d fought a few tears.

He dressed Taehyun in a familiar onesie, a little too big for the baby’s tiny frame. The hat, topped with fuzzy bear ears, was what gave away who the onesie belonged to. It had been Beomgyu’s coming home outfit, the exact same one that Seokjin had kept in a particular corner of his dresser. Kai had been a little too big for it, so he’d gotten his own, but somehow passing it down felt more sentimental.

They arrived home just in time to catch Yeonjun before he was put down for his nap, half an hour later than the one-year-olds. The three-year-old’s eyes fell on the car seat held in Jungkook’s hands. His mouth dropped open.

“Taehyunnie?” Yeonjun asked, surprised. Seokjin smiled and kneeled down onto his foster son’s level, beckoning him forward. Yeonjun bounded forward, barely stopping in time to avoid colliding with the baby. “He’s home! Jinnie, Hyunnie came home!” 

“He did! Now he can be with us every day, and we never have to leave him alone at the hospital again,” Seokjin said, gushing over Yeonjun’s kiss of affection on his brother’s forehead. 

“What’s that?” Yeonjun asked, pointing to the tube running into the baby’s nose.

“Hyunnie is still a little sick, so this helps him eat until he’s better,” Seokjin smiled, rubbing the worry lines off Yeonjun’s tiny face. Such a small child with such a big heart. 

Once Yeonjun was down for his nap, it was time for Kai and Taehyun to settle down for theirs. Kai had been awake the entire ride home, and even Taehyun had peeked a bit. Settled in their crib, side by side, the remaining bit of awakeness in their bodies floated away. Taehyun was the first to fall asleep, Kai following soon after.

His twins were finally together. Seokjin felt whole, like everything he’d worked for had come together entirely. He’d considered it over and over, but he’d never took the first step. 

It was time to refuse any more placements.