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baby steps

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“I can’t believe you ruined our weekend like this,” Jaehyun whines. He’s shoveling the pickles off his salad and onto Doyoung’s plate, a task equally as annoying as Doyoung telling him they’re babysitting his brother’s kids this weekend. 

“It’ll be fun,” Doyoung promises. “I’m the cool uncle, they like me.” 

“You are not the cool uncle,” Jaehyun corrects him, rolling his eyes. “You make them eat their veggies. I am the cool uncle. I would let them ride a motorbike.” 

“You can’t even drive.” Doyoung deadpans, but Jaehyun holds his gaze, the issue very important to him. “Okay - you are the cool uncle. They’ve missed you.” 

Maybe Jaehyun takes a little pride in being the favourite uncle. Maybe Doyoung knows him too well, and his persuasion techniques are too honed. 

“I like your nephews, but a whole weekend? Like they have to sleepover and shit?” 

“Shhh, we are going to stop cursing now, so when the kids are here you won’t slip up as much.” 

“Fine,” Jaehyun sighs. “But we have to put them to bed? Feed them? Jisung isn’t even one year old, we can’t breastfeed.” 

“Jaehyun please,” Doyoung laughs, patting his shoulder. “Jisung is eleven months. He drinks formula now. You’ve bottle fed him before, remember?” 

“Right.” Jaehyun vaguely recalls doing so at a family dinner a couple months ago. Doyoung’s brother has two spawns, one old enough to hug Jaehyun’s legs, and one that’s so tiny it needs to be held. “I guess one weekend is fine.” 

“Great, I’ll let him know,” Doyoung says, booping Jaehyun’s nose teasingly as he gets up to make a phone call.  

Doyoung’s brother drops the kids off at their place on Friday afternoon, meaning Doyoung spams his phone with cute baby pictures and selfies with said kids the last few hours of Jaehyun’s work week. When Jaehyun finally comes home and finds his boyfriend on the sofa, there’s a baby asleep in his arms and a toddler playing with cars on the floor. 

Chenle lights up like a christmas tree when he sees Jaehyun, getting up onto his tiny legs to run across the living room. Jaehyun can just squat down to brace the impact of Chenle’s sprint, picking him up in his arms and twirling him around. 

Chenle squeals, laughing happily as Jaehyun settles him on his hip.

“Hey buddy,” Jaehyun says, ruffling his hair. “Look at you huh, you’ve grown so tall.” 

“You’re tall!” Chenle exclaims happily. He puts his fist in his mouth. 

“Mh, I don’t grow anymore, so I think you’re winning,” Jaehyun hums. Chenle dwells on it for a moment, before he takes his fist out of his mouth and wipes it on Jaehyun’s shirt.

“It’s cause I eat my veggies,” Chenle explains.

“Ahh that’s why,” Jaehyun sits down on the arm of the sofa, setting the kid in his lap instead. He is growing quite fast, and getting heavier each time Jaehyun picks him up. 

“I brought my cars,” Chenle says excitedly, kicking his little feet in the air, “can we play with them later, uncle Jaehyun?”

“Of course,” Jaehyun says, brushing his hand through Chenle’s hair. “What are we doing for dinner?” 

He turns his attention to Doyoung, who’s still entertaining Jisung with a stuffed animal. 

“Well, I was going to cook, but I didn’t have time to get groceries, so I think it’s better if we order in.”

“Do kids eat take-out?” Jaehyun asks Doyoung, bouncing Chenle on his leg to keep him entertained.

“Jaehyun, please-” Doyoung whines, rolling his eyes. 

“No, I’m serious - Jisung is so little - he has like five teeth, he can’t chew on pizza,” Jaehyun exclaims. Doyoung still looks unimpressed by his concern.

“Pizza!” Chenle exclaims happily, nearly throwing himself to the ground as he flails his arms in excitement. Jaehyun catches him just in time, letting him down to his feet gently. 

“Oh no, now you said the p-word, now we have to get it,” Doyoung complains. Even Jisung seems to know this word, eyes going wide as he looks at Jaehyun expectantly. 

“The p-word,” Jaehyun rephrases, trying to stifle a laugh.

“Can we please get pizza?” Chenle whines, tugging on the sleeve of Jaehyun’s sweater. “Pizza and nuggets are my favourite food.”

“We’ll have pizza,” Jaehyun decides, ignoring the way Doyoung grimaces at him like he’s in physical pain. “But it’ll be a secret, okay? Our little secret. You can’t tell mommy or daddy.” 

Chenle puts his finger to his lips, seemingly getting the idea of a secret. 

“I’ll call them to order,” Doyoung says. “Can you get Chenle set up in the high chair?” 

Jaehyun says yes without a second thought, only realising the challenge he’s up for when he picks the little guy up and feels just how energetic he is. Chenle does not like sitting down, much less in a chair he can’t get out of. 

“Okay, how about - if you sit down in the chair, we’ll play with cars together after dinner?” 

Chenle is going to make a great lawyer one day, staring down at Jaehyun like his promise means absolutely nothing. “And we’ll have ice cream for dessert. Don’t tell Doyoung. I’ll sleep on the couch tonight.”

Chenle cackles, but finally puts his feet down, allowing Jaehyun to let him down into the chair. 

Jisung sits in Jaehyun’s lap as Doyoung sets the table. There are mashed peas heating up in the microwave, and Jaehyun counts himself lucky that he has enough teeth to eat pizza, because it doesn’t smell or look very appetising. 

“Can you feed him?” Doyoung asks, setting the little bowl down in front of Jaehyun. The doorbell rings moments later, and Jaehyun’s not left with much of a choice. 

While steam is coming off the peas, Jaehyun doesn’t think it’s a very wise decision to put them into Jisung’s mouth, so he lets them cool off for a bit. 

Doyoung comes back with the two pizza boxes, stalling them out on the table. Chenle claps like a seal, the pizza probably the highlight of his weekend. He has that in common with Jaehyun. 

“I still think this is a bad idea, pizza is not a healthy dinner,” Doyoung says, putting a slice on Chenle’s plate. 

“So then you cook tomorrow,” Jaehyun says. “I cooked today. Chenle said he’d keep it a secret, right?” 

Chenle nods eagerly, looks like he would agree to just about anything as he’s stuffing his mouth full of cheese crust. 

“You did not cook, you did nothing,” Doyoung objects, but he’s laughing too as he puts a slice on Jaehyun’s plate. “I’ll make something healthy tomorrow.” 

Jisung slams his fist on the table impatiently, yelling a loud ‘baaa’ as he gestures at the peas. Jaehyun had almost forgotten about them. 

“Alright, here,” he gathers up some food on the spoon, guiding it to Jisung’s mouth. The baby thinks about it for a moment before he opens his mouth, taking in a mouthful of peas. He must have really low standards, munching on it happily. It’s not easy with five teeth, and Jaehyun takes a napkin to wipe some off his mouth. 

Three spoons in and Jisung decides he’s had enough, pushing the spoon away.

“How much does he need to eat?” Jaehyun asks as he’s making a second attempt at feeding Jisung.

“He needs to finish that,” Doyoung says, gesturing at the bowl. “He’s a growing boy, and he can’t eat solids.” 

“Of course,” Jaehyun says, like knowing how much a baby eats for dinner is common sense, scooping up another serving of lukewarm mashed peas. “Here buddy, open up.”

Jisung shakes his head, pointing at the pizza instead. Jaehyun laughs and sets the spoon to his lips a little impatiently. “I’ll let you have a bite of pineapple if you finish the peas.”

None of this reasoning makes sense to Jisung, who shakes his head adamantly. “Come on, the peas are delicious, you love them.”

Jaehyun’s praise does nothing. Instead Jisung looks up at him with questioning eyes, unimpressed. 

Now that he’s captured Jisung’s attention, it’s just a matter of proving his point. “See?” Jaehyun asks, demonstratively holding up the spoonful of peas. “Delicious.”

It’s not delicious, and Jaehyun is regretting his less than foolproof plan as he swallows down a mouthful of cold mushy peas. He can’t openly express how gross it is, instead smiling forcefully down at Jisung to convince him just how good this delicacy is. 

Jisung laughs, and then he slams his fist down in the peas, bringing it up to his mouth to lick off the sticky green substance. 

Doyoung laughs as Jaehyun puts down the spoon in defeat, letting Jisung use his hands to finish the last of his peas. 

“You just got outsmarted by a one year old, Jaehyun,” Doyoung teases, and Jaehyun knows this yet his face is turning red, kicking Doyoung’s shin under the table. 

“Shut up.”

“That’s a bad word,” Doyoung retorts, and while Jaehyun would disagree that technically shut up is not a bad word, just a way of expressing how annoyed he is with Doyoung - maybe it’s not ideal vocabulary for a two year old. 

“Shut up.” Chenle agrees, smiling gleefully at Doyoung. It’s going to be a long weekend. 

Jisung’s at that age where anything you do, be it eating, playing or laughing, means you have to take a nap after. It’s the same age where seven p.m. is an appropriate bedtime. 

Doyoung offers to take him to bed while Jaehyun cleans up the kitchen after dinner, taking Chenle out of the high chair.

“What about ice cream?” Chenle says.

“Shh, uncle Doyoung might hear,” Jaehyun hushes, squatting down to eye level with Chenle. He opens the freezer, takes out a tub of ice cream and sneakily reaches up into the drawer to take out two spoons. “It’s our secret, remember?”

Chenle smiles, nodding eagerly. Jaehyun feels like it’s going to be an expensive secret to keep this weekend. 

He scoops out some ice cream, holding the spoon up to Chenle’s lips. Technically eating out of the tub is unsanitary, but it’s their secret, so the bacteria don’t count. 

When Chenle’s had a couple of spoons of ice cream, Jaehyun puts the lid back on, putting his spoon up on the counter.

He hears Doyoung come back into the living room, and holds his breath as he pushes the used spoons into the sink.

“Jaehyun?” Doyoung calls. 

“Yes?” Jaehyun stands up, putting his hands into his pockets to act casual.

“What were you doing on the floor?” 

“I was helping Chenle tie his shoes.” Jaehyun lies, possibly the worst lie he’s ever told. 

“He’s wearing shoes?” Doyoung asks. Jaehyun bends down to pick the toddler up, holding him on his hip. He realises then, a little too late, that Chenle is not wearing shoes - and that there’s ice cream smeared all over his mouth. “Were you eating ice cream together?”

“Maybe?” Jaehyun says, looking back and forth between Doyoung and Chenle.

“You gave him so much sugar this late?”

“He said he wanted dessert,” Jaehyun states, trying to play dumb. Neither Doyoung nor Chenle look impressed.

“Uncle Jaehyun said I could have dessert if I sat in the chair,” Chenle points out, all big eyed and innocent - nothing like the little devil he is. 

After Chenle runs three laps around the living room and gets rid of the worst of his sugar high, they settle on the sofa together. Jaehyun and Doyoung are watching television, whilst Chenle is playing a game on his tablet. 

He’s occupied for all of five minutes until he loses interest, instead crawling over to Doyoung to sit in his lap. Doyoung moves him around so he can comfortably snuggle up, clearly tired as he latches onto Doyoung’s side. 

It’s all peaceful and Jaehyun’s thinking maybe the sugar wasn’t that bad, until Doyoung giggles. From the corner of his eye Jaehyun can see that it’s involuntarily, Chenle tickling Doyoung’s tummy. He watches it with great amusement, enjoying that Doyoung is the one suffering for once. 

“That’s mean,” Doyoung says, trying to remove Chenle’s grabby hands. “I’m very ticklish.” 

Chenle laughs, Doyoung’s words only spurring him on to do worse. It seems neither Doyoung nor Jaehyun quite have the manual on how to deal with a two year old down yet. 

Finally Chenle gives in, patting Doyoung’s tummy triumphantly.  

“Uncle Doyoung?” He pipes up only moments later, a mischievous undertone to his voice. 

“Yes, sweetie?” 

“Are you having a little brother?” 

Doyoung and Jaehyun both frown, attention focused on the toddler in Doyoung’s lap. 

“A what?”

“When my mommy had Jisung, her belly got all round,” Chenle pokes Doyoung’s belly to demonstrate. 

Jaehyun snorts, trying to stifle his laughter. 

“That’s just the pizza we had,” Doyoung explains to him. 

“You’re having a pizza baby?” 

“No sweetie,” Doyoung says, chuckling. “I just ate a lot of pizza.” 

“You’re growing a pizza in your belly? That’s so cool! Can I grow a pizza in my belly?” 

Jaehyun can’t help laughing now, patting Doyoung’s shoulder comfortingly where his arm is resting on the back of the couch. 

“No, you can’t grow a pizza in your belly,” Doyoung explains, poking the toddler’s belly button. “When you go to sleep, it’ll be gone in the morning. Speaking of, maybe it’s time we get you to bed.” 

“Nooo,” Chenle whines, but Doyoung is getting to his feet and taking Chenle up with him. 

“It’s getting late, I think it is bedtime,” Jaehyun agrees. 

“I’ll take him,” Doyoung says, looking back at Jaehyun over Chenle’s shoulder. 

“Can uncle Jaehyun read me a bedtime story?” 

“Only if you’re good and brush your teeth,” Jaehyun says, trying to sound threatening - he’d probably read Chenle a bedtime story either way. 

Getting a toddler to brush their teeth is quite the challenge, but Doyoung is just the right amount of stern but kind - and has enough patience to last the both of them a lifetime, so he sits Chenle down on the sink and brushes his teeth for him, despite all his protesting. 

When he’s finally in his pyjamas and set up in the bed in the guestroom, Jaehyun sits down on one side of the bed. Jisung is asleep in the crib set up in Doyoung and Jaehyun’s bedroom, so they don’t have to think about being quiet. 

Doyoung fiddles with the baby monitor while Jaehyun does read Chenle a bedtime story. He looks tired, eyelids getting heavier with every page Jaehyun turns, clearly overwhelmed by the day he’s had. 

By the time Doyoung’s finally sets up the baby monitor Chenle’s already asleep, and they’re tip-toeing out of the bedroom, shutting the door quietly.

Neither of them feel like making the evening much longer, both tired from taking care of the kids, so they head to bed too. Jisung’s still sleeping peacefully in his crib, something Doyoung checks all of three times before he finally, too, gets in bed. 

“Aside from dinner, I think we did pretty well,” Jaehyun whispers as Doyoung gets comfortable, cuddling up to his side. 

“A two year old called me fat,” Doyoung complains, burying his face in Jaehyun’s shoulder to hide his embarrassment. Jaehyun chuckles breathlessly, sneaking his hand up under the covers to poke Doyoung’s belly. “Stop!” 

Jaehyun laughs softly, kissing the side of Doyoung's head.

“We’re going on a diet after this,” Doyoung threatens, “no more take-out, no more fast food. It is not worth the humiliation.” 

“Noo,” Jaehyun whines tiredly, “I like it when you get rounder, makes your ass fatter.” 

Jaehyun proves his point by sneaking his hand down to squeeze Doyoung’s ass.

“You are gross,” Doyoung huffs. “There’s an infant in this room. Don’t talk about my ass.” 

“Fine,” Jaehyun agrees with a laugh. “Let’s sleep then, we get to babysit again tomorrow” 

Breakfast is quite eventful with two kids. Jaehyun feeds Jisung some porridge with a mashed banana, while Doyoung makes an actual breakfast for the three of them, all the while keeping an eye on Chenle playing in the living room.

“I talked to Taeyong earlier,” Doyoung says, nudging Jaehyun’s shoulder to get his attention. 

“Earlier? You mean other people get up this early on weekends?” 

“They have a three year old, of course they’re up,” Doyoung laughs. “He said we should meet at the park for lunch, make it a picnic.” 

“That sounds like a disaster,” Jaehyun says, thinking of all the practical struggles, like getting  Chenle and Jisung dressed to go outside. 

Jisung squeals at the mention of the park, happily putting his fingers in his mouth. 

“See? Jisung likes it,” Doyoung says, smiling as he ruffles the baby’s head.

“Pretty sure he just likes putting stuff in his mouth,” Jaehyun remarks, pulling Jisung’s hand out gently to give him the last few bites.

“I guess you have that in common,” Doyoung teases, ruffling Jaehyun’s hair next before he returns to the stove. 

Putting shoes on very tiny feet is not Jaehyun’s hobby. As soon as he has one shoe on Chenle’s foot and turns his attention to the other, the two year old is pulling off shoe number one, all the while grinning triumphantly. 

“Okay, buddy - stop pulling off your shoes. Can't go to the park if you’re not wearing shoes.” 

Chenle, as always, is unimpressed as he looks at Jaehyun.

“Doyoung, cancel all our plans. We can’t go out, Chenle won’t wear his shoes.” 

And at this, Chenle does put on the last shoe, jumping up to his feet.

“Nooo uncle Doyoung, don’t do that,” he says, sprinting through the house with his shoes to find Doyoung. “Look, I’m wearing my shoes.”

“What a champ,” Doyoung comments. He’s busy fixing the baby carrier, admittedly trickier than they made it look when Jaehyun googled it.

“Here, let me help you,” Jaehyun offers. He walks around, helps Doyoung fasten the piece behind his back, looking at Jisung over Doyoung’s shoulder. “Is this okay?”

“I don’t know?” Doyoung says, looking equally as clueless.

“You don’t know, what if he falls out? Is his head supported?” 

Jisung makes a cheerful sound, and Jaehyun thinks they’ve passed the vibe check for the baby carrier. 

“I think he’s fine,” Doyoung says. “He’s going to kill my back, but that’s for tomorrow.”

Jaehyun had specifically not offered to do the carrying after seeing the baby carrier and considering what it would do to his spine. He and Doyoung make an excellent team. 

“Great, let’s go then.” 

Everything is hard with two kids, and that includes walking. Chenle’s legs are small so he takes tiny steps, meaning Jaehyun needs a great deal of patience to be able to walk down the sidewalk with him.

When they pass through a particularly busy street, Chenle gets a bit anxious with all the tall buildings and people around him, so Jaehyun offers to pick him up instead. Chenle whines until Jaehyun allows him to sit on his neck, hands holding onto Jaehyun’s ears, as Jaehyun’s hands find his legs to keep him upright. 

Walking gets easier like that, and they’re only ten minutes late when they finally show up to the park. Johnny and Taeyong are already there, sat on the picnic blanket they brought.

Taeyong is happier to see the kids than Doyoung or Jaehyun, cooing as he squats down to have a chat with Chenle. 

Jaehyun admires Taeyong’s patience and genuine interest in having a conversation with a two year old, thinking Mark is a lucky kid to have parents like this. Parents that don’t use ice cream to solve problems.

“Hey Mark,” he says, waving at the kid who is standing by his dad, just tall enough to hide behind Johnny’s back when he’s sitting down. 

“Hey uncle Jaehyun,” Mark muses shyly, taking his hand out of his pocket to wave at him. 

Mark and Chenle are only a year apart, old enough to play together with the football Johnny and Taeyong brought. As soon as they’ve taken it out of the bag, everything else is quickly forgotten, and Doyoung takes it upon himself to be the judge of their impromptu football game. 

Taeyong looks like he’s going to cry if he doesn’t get to hold the toddler soon, so Jaehyun helps get Jisung out of the carrier and sets him down in Taeyong’s lap, taking a seat next to Johnny.

“So,” he starts, leaning back on his hands. “How’s it going?”

“Good, this is fine. Not my ideal weekend, but fine,” Jaehyun answers. He can’t imagine having to do this every weekend. 

“It’s good practice,” Johnny says, patting his shoulder.

“Good practice?” Jaehyun frowns.

“For when you have your own kid. Trust me, you’re never getting weekends back,” Johnny assures. 

He doesn’t sound too bothered by it. Then again, he looks at Taeyong with those sickening heart eyes, even when a toddler is pulling on Taeyong’s nose. Weekends or no weekends; he seems like a pretty happy man. 

“We’re not getting our own kid,” Jaehyun says, which is in all likelihood a lie. Jaehyun’s seen what having a kid around the house does to Doyoung, and he thinks it’s what Doyoung will want in the future - and although he’s not certain it’s what he wants yet, he knows he wants to make Doyoung happy, so they'll have to at least talk about it. 

“You say that now, but Doyoung’s gonna want one,” Johnny points out. They look over at Doyoung, who is sitting down in the grass with Mark and Chenle, making expressive hand gestures as he explains how the game works. 

“Was it hard?” Jaehyun asks, just in case. 

“Having a child? Not really, the process is complicated but we had a good agency, everything went pretty smoothly.” Johnny offers genuinely, but then he starts laughing. “So you’ve thought about it?”

“Not now dude, I’m twenty-six, what am I going to teach a baby? Cheap red wine gives you a headache?” 

Johnny snorts. “I mean that you’ve thought about it for later?” 

“Kinda,” Jaehyun says. 

“Did you talk to Doyoung about it?” Jaehyun doesn't know where Johnny would get such an idea from. He looks at him half offended, half embarrassed. “Of course you haven’t. Stupid question.” 

“Not that word,” Taeyong points out; suddenly entering the conversation.

“Right. We can’t say stupid, because Mark is obsessed, he will call everything stupid. He called his teacher stupid last week and we got called in for a meeting about it.” 

“See? I can’t have a kid. I couldn’t even stop swearing for long enough to raise one.” 

“That’s a lie and you know it,” Johnny says, “you’re gonna be a great dad.”

“Yesterday I fed Chenle pizza, and I couldn’t get him to sit in the chair so I had to bribe him with ice cream.” Jaehyun recalls. Taeyong laughs, but Johnny brushes it off.

“Happens to the best of us,” Johnny offers sympathetically. 

They’re interrupted by Chenle’s loud wailing, and Jaehyun looks up just in time to catch him sprinting over. 

“Knee hurts,” Chenle says, plopping down next to Jaehyun demonstratively. “I fell.”

He’s still crying, not as dramatically but little sniffles as he sucks his thumb. “Oh sweetie, want me to take a look at that for you?”

“Mhhh,” Chenle murmurs, bottom lip wobbling as he screws his eyes shut in pain. 

Jaehyun carefully folds up his shorts far enough to see his knee. It’s a little red, probably from the scrape of a fall, and he’ll likely have a small bruise tomorrow. 

“Uh-oh,” Jaehyun teases. “Can I touch it?” 

Chenle nods. Jaehyun carefully brushed his hand over it, his skin hot to touch.

“Oh no,” he fakes, looking up at Chenle in concern. “I think it’s broken. Look at this bump.”

To demonstrate this fact, he gently nudges at Chenle’s kneecap, brushing his hand down over the little bump.

“Broken?” Chenle sobs, crying harder as he looks at Jaehyun with wide eyes. 

“No, baby, I’m just kidding - that’s what your knee is supposed to look like. Look at mine,” Jaehyun explains, nudging at his own knee. 

“Oh,” Chenle says; a little amazed. He looks at his other knee, seeing that the bump there is the same. Then he starts laughing loudly instead, squealing as he pats his knees, bruise long forgotten. 

“Does it feel better?” Jaehyun asks. Chenle nods enthusiastically, getting back up on his feet. Apparently Jaehyun’s crash course anatomy did wonders, because he’s smiling widely, wiping away the tears from his splotchy red cheeks before sprinting back to play with Mark and Doyoung. 

“See? I’m terrible, I just said his knee was broken,” Jaehyun tells Johnny as he watches Chenle sprint back to Doyoung and Mark . 

“I think you’re going to be just fine,” Taeyong answers instead. 

Jaehyun can't sleep that night. It’s how these things go. Johnny will say something ridiculously out of line that seems funny at first, and then he’ll think about it all night in the hopes of finding an answer. The same thing happened when Johnny got married and casually told Jaehyun that he’s up next, and now Jaehyun’s doing it again. 

He’s been with Doyoung for more than six years, and while moving in together was a big adult milestone, they haven’t really talked about much else. They talked about marriage, agreed that it wasn’t for them, and settled for a domestic partnership - they figured that out, but that concerned just the two of them, not the possible addition of a small human being. 

They haven’t discussed kids. It’s not really something you bring up on the first date, especially when your first date is fucking in a broom closet at a frat party. But it’s not something they’ve talked about on any other date either, or in the six years they’ve been together. 

For the longest time Jaehyun was convinced that he was the kid, clumsy and emotionally unstable. Sometimes he still doesn’t want to put his socks on in the mornings, but he also knows he has to, because he has a job to get to. They both have jobs. Good jobs. A stable income. Savings to pay for long vacations, or maybe college tuition for a child now that Jaehyun wagers his options. 

But they’re no longer college kids - they’re six years down the road and they have placemats and a slow cooker and they go on morning jogs together. And somewhere in that life they’ve created for themselves maybe they should have a conversation about kids. Maybe there’s even room to have one a couple years down the road. 

Jaehyun’s thinking is interrupted when the bedroom door opens, creaking eerily as footsteps come inside. 

He turns on the light on his nightstand, watching Chenle shuffle inside nervously. 

“Can’t sleep?” Jaehyun asks, sitting up against the headboard to get a better look at the toddler. Chenle shakes his head shyly, thumb in his mouth. “Me neither.” 

Chenle comes up to the bed, a little too high for him to hop up on comfortably. Instead he extends his hands up for Jaehyun, and he takes them, saliva covered and all, helping him up on the bed. 

Chenle crawls into his lap, easily settling himself down under the covers.

“What’s up?” Jaehyun asks, brushing Chenle’s hair away from his forehead. 

“I miss daddy,” Chenle admits quietly. His cheeks are a little red, and Jaehyun’s heart aches thinking the toddler was crying on his own. 

“Oh sweetie,” Jaehyun whispers back, kissing Chenle's forehead. “I’m sorry. He’ll be back tomorrow.” 

“Tomorrow’s stupid,” Chenle murmurs, burying his face in Jaehyun’s shirt stubbornly. 

“It’s just one sleep, then it’ll be morning, and uncle Doyoung will make pancakes for breakfast, and we’ll play with the racing cars one last time, and then your daddy will be here to pick you up.” 

“Just one sleep?” 

“Yeah, just one night. If you sleep it goes by much faster,” Jaehyun promises. 

“Chenle sleep here?” He asks, like Jaehyun would tell him no. 

“Sure baby, let’s get you a pillow.”

Jaehyun spares one of the pillows behind his head, placing it down next to him, so Chenle can sleep between him and Doyoung. 

“There you go,” he says, helping Chenle down to rest his head on the pillow.

“Smells like uncle Jaehyun,” Chenle says, burying his snotty nose in Jaehyun’s pillow.

Jaehyun doesn’t even mind, if he notices at all. He’s just happy that Chenle doesn’t sound so sad anymore. 

“I bet it does,” Jaehyun agrees, smiling as he brushes his hand through Chenle’s hair. “Sleep well.” 

“Goodnight uncle Jaehyun.” 

Chenle wakes up early, pulling on Jaehyun’s ear until he too wakes up early, blinking blearily before he remembers last night and why the toddler is in their bed. 

“Good morning,” Chenle exclaims cheerfully.

“Shhh,” Jaehyun soothes him, “indoor voices. It’s very early.” 

Chenle considers this, but giggles just as loudly when Jaehyun sits up, squinting as he looks around the room. Jisung is still asleep - far better at sleeping than his older brother. 

“Your hair is funny,” Chenle says, pointing at Jaehyun’s bedhead. 

“Mh, yeah it is,” Jaehyun says. It’s seven a.m. on a Sunday, quite possible his least favourite time to be awake, ever. But the kid is awake, and Jaehyun’s job is to entertain it. Chenle isn’t quite as energetic in the mornings and is easily convinced of Jaehyun’s suggestion to read a book. 

It’s a stupid book about pirates with more pictures than actual words, and Jaehyun knows it from the top of his head. He’s read it three times now, but it’s Chenle’s favourite story and he doesn’t mind hearing it multiple times a day. 

“So then captain Whitebeard took the Prince back onto the ship. They sailed out across the ocean, but they didn’t know a storm was coming.” 

“You have to make boat noises,” Chenle whines. Jaehyun grabs a tissue from their nightstand, wiping at the toddler’s snotty nose. 

“I can’t make boat noises. Boats do not make noise,” he explains after he balls up the tissue and throws it in the trashcan next to their bed. 

“You suck at reading, uncle Jaehyun,” Chenle pouts, pushing the book into Jaehyun’s chest. 

“I do not suck at reading,” Jaehyun decides, clearing his throat, “ woosh, woosh .” 

“That is not how the boat sounds,” Chenle looks close to crying. Maybe Jaehyun does suck at reading. 

“You’re right,” Doyoung suddenly says. “The boat goes whirr, whirr.

“Pirate boats did not have engines,” Jaehyun wants to object, but Chenle is mimicking the noises from Doyoung, and it’s all really loud for a Sunday morning. 

Doyoung laughs, reaching over to pat Chenle on the head. 

“Good morning,” Doyoung says then, sneaking in a kiss to Jaehyun’s cheek before he lifts Chenle from Jaehyun’s lap and sets him down between them. “Here, give me that.” 

Doyoung’s about to snatch the book from Jaehyun’s lap, when Jaehyun picks it up.

“No, I was reading that,” Jaehyun says. 

“You suck at reading,” Doyoung mocks, smirking at Jaehyun. “Go ahead and start breakfast, see if Jisung’s awake yet. I’ll finish reading.”

“I’m getting thrown out of my own bed,” Jaehyun complains, but he’s pulling off the blanket and sinking his feet into his slippers. 

Jisung is awake, blissfully quiet as Jaehyun picks him up. He walks around the kitchen with the baby in his arms. It’s a race against the clock to heat up a bottle of formula before Jisung starts crying that he’s hungry, but today Jaehyun wins, giving the bottle to Jisung just in time. 

He leans back against the counter, Jisung still in his arms, making content little noises as he drinks. 

The house is quiet, and it’s surprisingly peaceful. Nothing like the drama Jaehyun expected when Doyoung told him they’d be babysitting this weekend. Taking care of little humans is nowhere near as difficult as Jaehyun had anticipated. They’re a little demanding and sometimes impossible to understand, but when you get it right and feed them on time, they’re definitely a delight to be around. 

It’s nice having the kids around, but it’s also nice when they leave, and Jaehyun gets to stretch out on the sofa and rest his head in Doyoung’s lap, having Doyoung all to himself again. 

“I feel like I need another weekend after this,” Jaehyun says. 

“Me too,” Doyoung agrees. 

“But it wasn’t so bad,” Jaehyun does add. “I thought it would be worse.”

“You know you’re not actually bad with kids, right?” Doyoung offers, his hand settling in Jaehyun’s hair to gently scratch at his scalp. “You’re not bad at it, you’re just afraid you’re going to be bad at it.” 

“Stop being right,” Jaehyun complains, sighing as he sits upright. This doesn’t feel like a thing he can say while he’s curled up in Doyoung’s lap. “It’s not bad.”

“Not bad?” 

“Fine, I kind of liked it,” Jaehyun admits after some consideration. He did like it, some parts of it. He wouldn’t mind doing it again. Maybe not next weekend, or every day of the week, but definitely up for a repeat. “Maybe we can babysit again.” 

“Hmm, that would be nice.”

“And maybe we can talk about this kid thing,” Jaehyun adds on not very eloquently. But Doyoung knows better than to be picky about it, instead reaching out to grab Jaehyun’s hand in his.

“Maybe,” Doyoung agrees. “Maybe in a couple years.” 

“Thank god,” Jaehyun says, sighing in relief. “I wasn’t ready to give up sleeping in on the weekends.”