“Love is not possession. It is not ‘being completed.’ It is two people walking along the path of life and saying, “I want to hold your hand along the way.”
“Fuck,” Hoseok groaned, shifting under the sheets as the banging continued against the wall. “Does it ever stop?”
“Not for another three to seven days,” Yoongi chuckled from across the room, pulling his pants on, the block-shaped camouflage design of the stiff material bunching up around his thighs. There was a groan of the mattress as Yoongi sat down on the foot of the bed to put his socks on. Hoseok opened up one eye, watching the way Yoongi’s pale shoulders curved and molded under the white tank top. It was barely light outside, that pale sort of pink-blue morning glow peeking in between the slits left uncovered by the crappy sheet they’d tacked up over the window. The house was quiet, except for a distinctive thudding noise against the wall from Namjoon’s room.
“But it’s fucking 5am, don’t they sleep?” With a whine Hoseok rolled over onto his side, curling his shins up against Yoongi’s back in a silent gesture for him to stay a little longer, drawn to the warmth emanating off the elder.
“You know they’ve been all antsy all summer, and Kiara’s in her heat. It’ll cool down after a while and they’ll be more bearable.” Yoongi’s morning voice was still crackly, and Hoseok smiled a little at the sound, awake enough now to draw his ankles around the older boy’s waist, tucking his toes into the pockets and making Yoongi chuckle.
“You’re gonna make me late, dumbass,” Yoongi teased, tickling at the soles of his feet and making Hoseok squeak and draw away with a pout.
“I have ways of making you stay.” It wasn’t voiced like a threat, but Yoongi glanced over in question anyways, arching an eyebrow.
“Not today.” Yoongi rolled his eyes, leaning over to brush Hoseok’s bangs back and kiss his forehead.
“Do you have stuff after PT?”
“Yeah, there’s just some lecture thing all cadets have to do. Most of us didn’t fill out our paperwork properly and people got pissed. Then I just have Com and I’m done for the day. I should be back by around 10:40.”
“Okay. Maybe I’ll wait here for you to get back.” Hoseok snuggled more deeply into his pillow, smirking. Yoongi patted his shoulder and stood up to leave. “Have fun~” Hoseok half-sang, half-moaned into his pillowcase, and all he got was a chuckle in response. The distant sound of the door shutting echoed up the stairs, and the banging from the adjoining wall finally quieted down, and the house suddenly felt empty and somber.
Hoseok tried to get back to sleep - he really wanted to. He just couldn’t, now that Yoongi’s soft form was no longer just behind him. The sheets felt itchy and uncomfortable, and his brain was on hyperdrive. With a sigh he leaned over and lifted his phone cord up until he could grasp a hold of his phone and see that it was only 6:30. He decided to get up and start some coffee anyways. Maybe he could get started on some homework, like a good student? Probably not. He’d never been much of a good student, that was Namjoon’s job.
When Hoseok turned the water on to fill up the coffee pot, he heard a rustling behind him and a small whimper. Craning his head to look over his shoulder, he saw a dark form moving around underneath the dining room table. A wet muzzle poked its way out from between the rungs of the chairs, and the scrawny black wolf looked up at him curiously through bright golden eyes. A grey line streaked in the fur on his left cheek, like a scar. Hoseok smiled softly, reaching for the coffee filters.
“Morning, Jungkook, did I wake you?” he asked. “I’m sorry, Yoongi woke me up too early for PT.”
Jungkook said nothing, but quietly padded over to bump his nose up against the back of Hoseok’s knees affectionately. Hoseok turned away, opening up the red container and letting the biting scent of coffee grounds fill his nostrils.
“I hope you’re ready for our new roommates today,” Hoseok said with a smile, “We’ll finally be getting the rest of the Kim brothers under the same roof again. They’ll probably be glad to be out of the countryside.” He glanced back over to see Jungkook curled up at his feet, ears down in a sign of distress. “Oh, come on, don’t be so worried. Of course they’ll like you. You’re our pup, after all.” Jungkook’s ear twitched a little, as if asking a silent question. “Yes, really,” Hoseok continued with a laugh, leaning down to rub at the boy’s head. He cocked his lip to one side, stage-whispering, “And if they don’t like you, you know Namjoon will beat it into them anyways.”
Jungkook did not seem reassured at that, so Hoseok gave him a warm smile. “Don’t worry. I’ve met them a couple times and they’re both really nice. And Taehyung is closer to your age, so that should make you happy, right? Who knows? Just do your best.”
With a little droop to his tail, Jungkook slid back underneath the table, curling up into the nest of blankets he had dragged underneath it last night and lying back down. Hoseok crossed his arms for a moment, listening to the coffee pot hiss and strain away, then sat down at the table and pulled out his phone. Several minutes of comfortable silence passed between them, and eventually Hoseok’s socked feet found their way to the soft fuzziness that was Jungkook’s back, and he absentmindedly rubbed against the boy in reassurance. By the time the coffee was done, the back he was resting his feet up against was covered in a bulky T-shirt, and Jungkook was fully shifted into human form. He stayed under the table a little longer, however, enjoying the quiet of the morning. When he poked his head out, Hoseok couldn’t help but smile at the sleep-ridden puffiness to the boy’s young face.
“Do you want some toast?” Jungkook asked, crawling out and pulling his jeans on.
“Sure, if you’re making some.” Hoseok wrapped his fingertips around the harsh heat from his coffee cup. A door opened and shut upstairs, followed soon by Namjoon, wearing pajama pants, an expression of utter exhaustion and nothing else. His blond hair stood up on end and his eyes were practically sealed shut. He sunk noisily into the seat across from Hoseok, looking half-dead.
“Coffee?” he croaked. Jungkook reached up and grabbed a cup, filling it and handing it to him.
“Angel,” Namjoon called him with a grunt, drinking it black and scowling at the bitterness.
“Kiara having a rough time of it, huh?” Hoseok asked lightly, feeling the coffee warming him up from the inside out and feeling less tired about the bit of sleep he had lost because of Yoongi, now that he had seen the misery written in Namjoon’s eyes.
“Nothing helps. I haven’t slept more than five minutes at a time since night before last,” he sighed. “But she has it worse. I don’t think she’s slept at all.”
“More like the night before night before last,” Hoseok corrected, sipping at his coffee. Namjoon was draining the last of his first cup, and Jungkook wordlessly filled it again, setting the milk and sugar on the table as a hint to the lead Alpha, now that he had survived his first cup. Namjoon dumped a - in Hoseok’s opinion - disgusting amount of sugar in, arching an eyebrow at Hoseok.
“It’s Tuesday, Namjoon,” Hoseok informed him. “You guys have been in heat for three days now. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.”
“Oh fuck, are you serious?!” Namjoon groaned, rubbing at his face with his hands in a way that looked painful. “Doesn’t that mean--?”
“Yeah, your brothers will be here in a couple of hours. You’d better get some sleep while you can. You look like shit.”
“But I have a paper for my Gender & Diversities class that’s due by midnight tonight,” Namjoon groaned. “It’s worth half our grade.”
“Email the professor and tell him you’re having a heat,” Hoseok offered diplomatically, reaching over and slipping the sugar away from Namjoon’s reach, now that he’d scooped his fourth spoonful in between adding milk. “I’m sure she’ll understand. She likes you, right?”
“Yeah, I guess. I hate to do that to her so last minute, though.”
Jungkook set down a plate next to Hoseok, then crawled underneath the table with his own toast and milk to sit cross-legged between his and Namjoon’s knees.
“Listen, Namjoon, professors are people, too. And if she doesn’t believe you’re in a heat, just send her a photo of your face right now and I promise she’ll give you as much time as you need.”
There was a slight clinking of glass under the table, then Jungkook’s pale hand reached up over the edge of the table, his fingers wriggling a little. Hoseok passed the sugar container over to him.
“I guess you’re right. Kiara’s in the shower right now so I should do it while I have a chance.” He sighed. “I don’t think I have anything else major coming up right now. But shit, this means I missed a night of work, too.”
“Again, just send them your face.” Hoseok shrugged. Then he leaned halfway under the table, seeing Jungkook in the middle of folding his heavily sugar-coated toast in half to eat it. “Oh, Jungkookie, did you finish that paper for English?”
“Not yet,” Jungkook frowned, taking a large bite and finishing off half the toast in one go. Around a cheekful of bread he added, “But I’ve got all my sources ready, and the outline done. Jimin and I have been working on them together in the library during our break.”
“Good,” Hoseok nodded, straightening back up and starting to tear off the crust of his toast, leaving it abandoned on the edge of his plate and licking the bits of melted butter from his fingertips. Namjoon took his half-empty sugary mess back upstairs with him. Hoseok slipped his plate of crusts down to Jungkook, who took it eagerly. The kid was about to hit another growth spurt, Hoseok could tell just from the way he’d been eating. It was probably time to take him out for another hunt, too.
“I guess that leaves you and me to do the clean up around the house before they get here, Jungkook. You only have your evening shift today, right?”
“Well, since Jimin slept in, he gets the bathroom duty. So I guess that leaves the living room and the kitchen for you and me.” Hoseok paused, trying to sound casual as he left the next decision up in the air, waiting to see if Jungkook would take the bait.
“Mm? Well, whichever one you want, hyung.” Jungkook mumbled around the crusts of bread. Hoseok pressed his lips together a little, curious. Jungkook was coming up on his birthday soon, but he hadn’t shown any signs of presenting, like he normally should be. Hoseok and Namjoon had discussed a little about it when the boy was definitively out of earshot, but they were both a little concerned. Not that he wouldn’t present as a clear type, (if the boy was a Beta it was quite common to not have any clear heats or ruts all the way up to their 20th birthday, when a blood test was the only way to tell for sure) but that the boy wasn’t keeping up with his peers, at least psychologically, when it came to his wolf form. He was quicker at transforming than anyone Hoseok had met, and he had already exceeded their expectations at hunting. But the boy didn’t really have friends. He stuck close only to the pack members, and never mingled with his classmates. He of course had a great deal of admiration for Namjoon, who was not only their pack leader but was also the one who had also taken Jungkook under his wing as a sort of protege since the night he’d found him. But Namjoon was claimed by Kiara. Hoseok was worried about Jungkook finding a mate, and the struggles of his delicate demeanor weighed on the Alpha’s mind a lot.
It looked to Hoseok like Jungkook was going to present, and probably soon. But was he going to be ready for all that came along with that? This was the hard part about being Jungkook’s unofficial surrogate parents. Maybe he should pick up some pamphlets at the clinic on his way to the grocery store later that afternoon…
“I’ll take the kitchen, so you clean the living room,” Hoseok said decisively, swallowing the last of his lukewarm coffee and moving to the sink. Jungkook nodded, slipping out of the kitchen like a ghost.
It was nearly eleven o’clock by the time Yoongi sighed his way into the door, shrugging off his boots and jacket and oozing the scent of freshly tilled earth into the house, his unique Omega smell. Jungkook looked up from where he was rolling up game controller cords, sniffing the air subconsciously.
“They come yet?” Yoongi asked, and Jungkook shook his head. The Omega flopped down onto the couch, groaning. “They had us doing superman stretches this morning for their own amusement. They really wanted to punish the cadets today, and I’ve been slacking off due to it being so hot.”
“Superman stretches?” Jungkook queried, tilting his head.
“Yeah, I’ll show them to you later if you want,” Yoongi tilted back until his cheek rested against the back of the couch. “The place looks nice, by the way. Is Hoseok awake?”
“He said he couldn’t get back to sleep after you left, so he’s been cleaning. He finished the kitchen and now he’s trying to air the hallway out after Namjoon and Kiara this morning.”
Yoongi sighed, looking apologetic. “I’ll go help him out, then.”
It was only a matter of minutes later when Jungkook heard the crunch of gravel in the driveway, and he peered carefully through the curtains to see an old blue pickup truck. Two forms were moving inside, and he could hear their voices. The spindly pine tree in the front yard obscured his view, but he could see the glimpse of a brown head of hair, and suddenly his heart seemed to leap into his throat, although he wasn’t sure why. Jungkook found himself ducking back into the kitchen and curling up underneath the table again. He hurriedly arranged his blankets around himself and pulled out one of his comics, laying it out on the seat of one of the chairs and trying to look settled in. The doorbell rang, and he jumped out of nervousness, praying someone else would answer. After the third ring Namjoon tumbled down the stairs, looking much more put-together than he had that morning and calling out, “Coming!”
Jungkook watched him throw open the door and warm greetings started to mingle together in a family-reunion sort of air. Kiara came down the stairs just after, as did the other three boys, and introductions were tossed between them.
“This is my little brother Taehyung, and my older brother Seokjin.”
Jungkook could only see the two of them from the waist down, but he watched from his spot solemnly while Yoongi and Hoseok exchanged greetings. One of them wore black jeans with rips in the thighs, pale skin showing through and a pair of sensible blue sneakers. The other wore a dark sweater and a pair of oversized black pants that made Jungkook want to snort with laughter, since his clothes looked more like old man pants cut into a large, unskillful rectangle shape than anything else. There was a gap between the tops of his black leather sandals and the bottom of the pant leg that was several centimeters, and Jungkook watched the skin of the boy’s tanned ankles curiously while the others made small talk.
Kiara sat down on the couch, and Jungkook could see her clearly through the open double-wide doorway to the living room. She looked exhausted but pretty as usual, and she brushed her curly bangs out of her eyes as she smiled. “I can see the resemblance between you three, must be a Kim family trait to be so handsome.”
Jungkook was about to snort with laughter, but Yoongi beat him to it. “Namjoon is a lot of things, but let’s be real, here. They look nothing alike.”
“I take after our dad’s side,” came a voice that could only belong to Taehyung, based on where everyone had been standing when Namjoon gestured his introductions, and Jungkook was surprised at how deep and gruff he sounded. He leaned forward a little, trying to catch a glimpse of the new kid. Taehyung’s hand dangled down at his waist, long, pretty, tanned fingers curled around a cell phone and entangled with a set of green earbuds.
“Where’s Jungkookie at?” Namjoon queried, taking a step towards the spare bedroom. “He knew they were on their way, right?”
“Yeah, he was just here,” Yoongi murmured contemplatively. “So maybe he’s--”
Jungkook jumped when Taehyung bent at the waist and suddenly popped his head below the surface of the table mere inches from Jungkook’s face. Both of them stared at each other for a long moment, eyes wide in equal parts surprise and curiosity. Jungkook’s first thought was that Yoongi was right, Namjoon and Taehyung looked nothing alike. Not that Namjoon was ugly (honestly, Jungkook thought that a somber, coffee-blooded Namjoon hard at work, with his eyebrows knitted a bit together was intimidatingly handsome) but Taehyung looked unearthly pretty, with dark, intense eyes and a high, noble arch to his nose and a deep warmth to his skin tone that made Jungkook suddenly compelled to reach out and touch to see if he emanated a little heat of his own, like his coloring would suggest. His hair was dyed to a reddish-brown color, and his bangs fell heavily into his eyes, framing his face as though trying to downplay the beauty there.
After a moment, Taehyung’s serious appraisal of Jungkook was ended with a low sniffle, and then Taehyung beamed at him with a squarish sort of grin that looked unbridled and down-to-earth in a way that threw Jungkook off more than him popping under the table had. It was disarming, the way he smiled, and Jungkook found himself starting to smile back.
“Jungkookie, right?” Taehyung asked, and he got a quiet nod in response. He expected Taehyung to poke fun of the fact that he was sitting under the table when there was a perfectly good half-empty couch just a few feet away, but instead Taehyung fell to his hands and knees and crawled under with him. “I’m Taehyung!”
“Hi,” Jungkook said awkwardly. There was a moment in the atmosphere between them where Taehyung put off an aura of kind acceptance, and Jungkook was still reeling from that particular sensation when suddenly Tae leaned forward into his personal space, almost touching his nose to Jungkook’s neck, and sniffing audibly. “W-what--?”
“You smell nice,” Taehyung commented candidly, pulling back with a contented look. “You smell like an Omega, too.”
Jungkook stared at him for a moment, a little dumbfounded. “I...I haven’t presented yet.”
“Me neither,” Taehyung tilted his head to the side, his lips spread wide into an understanding smile. “But I’ll bet you’re an Omega. I was right about all my friends.”
“I guess we’ll leave the kids alone to bond for a while,” Hoseok chuckled, drawing the two of them back out of their private conversation for a moment. “Oh, don’t mind us,” Hoseok waved dismissively at them, then stretched his long, slender arms out in front of him. “We’re gonna go take Seokjin on a tour of the house.”
Jungkook looked up, craning his neck to see properly from under the table, and felt his heart stop momentarily at the look that Seokjin was giving him. Yoongi had been right - Taehyung and Seokjin looked nothing like Namjoon, like they were all three different branches of their family tree. But just as Taehyung had been beautiful, Seokjin was breathtaking. Jungkook was starting to feel his palms sweat. He’d heard from Namjoon that his older brother was pre-med, and had gone through a lot of murderous months of study to get into a better program in the city on scholarships, so he was already intimidating, as far as Jeong ‘Cs Make Degrees’ Jungkook was concerned. But now Seokjin was staring at him with the cold sort of stare one gave a recently presented problem, with lips slightly parted and his hands tightly clutching his backpack, brown hair curling down into dark eyes. Even from the distance between them, Jungkook could smell the Alpha coming off of him. He looked cold. Beautiful but cold.
In that moment, he was sure Kim Seokjin didn’t like him. Not one bit.
Jimin looked between the two newcomers and Jungkook, looking a little concerned, before following Yoongi up the stairs after hearing his name called.
Taehyung sent Hoseok a thumbs up, and the four elder wolves shuffled upstairs, and Jungkook could breathe again. Once they had left, Taehyung sent Jungkook another beaming smile, but this one was laced with a little shyness. “You’re younger than me, right? I’m finally a hyung!”
Jungkook’s lips twitched in amusement. “So you’re Taehyung-hyung.”
That made the angel-faced boy roll his eyes. “Can you shift much yet?”
“I can, but it takes me a long time to shift back,” Taehyung said.
Giving a nod, Jungkook said, “I’m trying to cut down my shift-back time, too.”
It was then that Tae gave a little tilt of his head. “What’s your major?”
“Um...I haven’t decided yet,” Jungkook mumbled. “I was thinking something like social work or law enforcement?”
“Ah, I’m studying criminal justice!” Taehyung shifted in, gingerly tucking the edge of Jungkook’s blanket over his legs so that they were sharing. “You should major in it, and we can study together. I’m going to be a private investigator.”
“I was thinking about the police force…” Jungkook found himself saying. He hadn’t even told Namjoon that yet, but Taehyung’s eyes sparkled with interest, compelling him to share.
“Wow, that’d be cool!”
By the time Hoseok came downstairs later, the two wolves under the table were curled up around each other, asleep.
“They’re so cute,” he sighed, straightening his back and sending a fond smile at the sleeping boys. “It’s good that he has someone closer to his age in the house now. Jimin is great, but he tends to have a bit of a hyung complex...and Jungkook passing him up in height last month hasn’t helped, in all honesty.”
“How old is Jungkook?” Seokjin asked quietly, gently opening the cupboards and glancing mindlessly through their contents out of habit. It wasn’t that he was hungry, it was more like a dulled survival instinct, checking that there was food in the new place so his mind could rest assured.
“He’s about to turn 18 in September, so there’s about 2 years between them?”
Seokjin, however, was doing a different calculation in his head. He nodded quietly. An awkward silence passed between the two Alphas, and Seokjin shuffled his weight from foot to foot. True, moving in with Namjoon had been the most economical decision, but Seokjin wasn’t sure how he should deal with being adopted into a pack at last. His last attempt at it hadn’t gone so well. Hoseok reached out and laid his hand on Seokjin’s shoulder, and the weight of that tender hand wasn’t lost on him.
“Hey, you okay? It’ll take some time to find out where, but you two will fit in, I promise.” Hoseok sent Seokjin a warm smile, and he nodded gratefully. “I know you’re older than me and another Alpha to boot but, you know… you can come to me if you need anything at all.”
“Thanks, I really appreciate that.” Seokjin’s eyes sparkled a little, and he covered the hand on his shoulder with his own knobbly ones. “And I may be the oldest Alpha, but in the end, Namjoon’s the leader here, so… don’t worry about it too much. It’s not like I’ll be challenging his authority.”
Hoseok met Seokjin’s gaze for a minute, an understanding on his face. He smiled. “I think we’re gonna get along just fine.”
The first morning after the Kim brothers moved in Jungkook woke up to the sound of dishes clanging and oil sizzling. The smell was even more poignant, and Jungkook sniffed appreciatively at the air - the warm, greasy smell of eggs and bacon drifted through the air like a welcome home. Jungkook shifted, peeking around until his head and pillow were sticking out of the bottom of one of the kitchen chairs, surprised to see none other than Seokjin. His back was turned as he stirred the contents of the pan with a pair of long metal chopsticks.
Jungkook frowned, his brow furrowing. He somehow hadn’t thought Seokjin was the domestic cooking type, but based on the smell in the kitchen he wasn’t burning it, at least, and that was something. Too bad he doesn’t like me. He probably wouldn’t give me scraps, either. Jungkook stared up at the broad back stretched before him, bare and muscular. Seokjin turned his head and Jungkook caught full view of his serious-faced profile. He didn’t even look real.
Make him like you, a voice in his head screeched. He didn’t want to be the cause of tension in the household, especially if it was going to cause problems with the whole pack if he didn’t get along with Seokjin. He just didn’t know why Seokjin seemed to have a bad first impression of him.
Try something cool and casual-like. Like ‘What’s cooking, good looking?’
Jungkook bit back first a groan, then a laugh. Oh god, no. I would punch myself if I said that.
It turned out he didn’t have a chance for any sort of comment, cringe-worthy or not, because suddenly Jin turned around, and seeing Jungkook’s head poking out from under the dining room chair, the cool, handsome exterior evaporated in an instant as Seokjin screamed, the sound making Jungkook jump and whack his funny bone against the table leg.
“Oh my god!” Seokjin laid a hand on his chest, gasping as he realized who it was. Jungkook’s first thought was that his scream sounded masculine but nothing at all like he would have imagined. “J-Jungkook? Are you always under there or something?”
“Only when I want to be,” Jungkook replied quietly, shrugging as he crawled out from underneath the table. To his surprise, Seokjin looked a little thrown off by his off-the-cuff reply, his lips pursed as he stared, first at Jungkook, then at the ugly owl clock on the wall(which Yoongi had picked out at a yard sale a few months ago and repaired by himself, much to everyone’s chagrin).
“What are you making?” Jungkook asked, sniffing the air and stepping toward the stove and (by default) Seokjin. The scent of scrambled eggs was suddenly consumed by a smell a lot like the smell of powdered detergent. Seokjin held up a hand, backing up until he was bumped up against the counter with his hips. “Uh, what are you doing?” he asked.
“Looking?” Jungkook arched an eyebrow, unsure where the cool, calm exterior had gone.
“Um, I’m making scrambled eggs and bacon, is all. Nothing fancy.” Seokjin wasn’t meeting his eyes, probably still thrown by thinking a random head had appeared on the kitchen floor at his feet.
“Smells good.” Jungkook looked over at the pan, watching as Jin swooped in to save his breakfast.
“Thanks, do you want some?”
“Um, sure. If that’s okay.” Jungkook hoped his stomach wouldn’t growl and give away how hungry for real-looking food he was “You cook, then, huh?”
“Yeah, my mom taught me how to cook. She said it’s good for a man to be able to feed himself. Or others.”
“That’s cool, “Jungkook said, leaning in. A thought caught his attention. “Hey, could you teach me? Hoseok can make some things, but to be honest, they’re more like weird concoctions than real food…”
“Um….sure, I guess.”
Jungkook looked up to see Seokjin seemingly busying himself with a container of salt, and instantly he wondered if he had gotten too comfortable again. Seokjin’s cool, distant exterior was slipping back in. “Um, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to, really.”
“No, it’s fine,” Seokjin amended. Jungkook was in the process of determining whether or not to believe him when he looked up and smiled at him. Jungkook instantly felt goosebumps rise up on his arms. Seokjin’s whole face seemed to transform under just that change of expression, looking warm and childlike, the edges of his jaw squaring out and his lips wrapped in endearing creases, as if he someone had tucked his mouth into parentheses. Jungkook completely forgot for a moment the cold impression he had initially been clinging onto. What had suddenly made him look so happy, almost blissful?
“Hey,” Seokjin started to chuckle, “Just as a warning, I’m not eggactly a professional chef.”
Jungkook stared at Seokjin for a moment, dumbfounded as his words sunk in. Then, a smile crept and crackled its way across his face unbidden. “Did you really just…?”
Seokjin, meanwhile, had started to laugh at Jungkook’s reaction, a surprisingly breathlessly high-pitched sound, a series of tight little gasps, a contagious sort of laugh that made Jungkook grin. It was only 8 in the morning on a Friday but Jungkook had already experienced more than his daily share of surprises.
Then, Seokjin’s laughing expression dropped, and he looked at Jungkook as if he had just said something wrong. Seokjin twitched his nose, wiping at it with the back of his hand before moving to sit at the table.
They ate breakfast in a silence that was mostly awkward, especially since Jungkook hesitated, looking forlornly at his bedding under the table before taking a seat across from Seokjin. He could feel the elder’s eyes on him, as if silently asking if he was going to crawl under or not out of curiosity, and Jungkook felt his cheeks flush. Now that their moment of talking about cooking was gone, they faltered off suddenly down a precipice into awkward silence. Eventually, they both ended up scrolling mindlessly through their phones, not meeting each other’s eyes.
It was two weeks after the Kim brothers moved in, and Jungkook was on dish duty with Jimin. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem, but Jimin was extra clingy these days. It had been worse before Taehyung had moved in, able to split Jimin’s attentions between them depending on who was in a better, more welcoming mood, but he was still extremely needy. He nuzzled against Jungkook’s neck, his nose and lips pressed to the little raise of his skin where he knew he’d find Jungkook’s scent gland. He inhaled deeply after he’d finished scenting, the mix of his own pepperminty smell and Jungkook’s salt and leather one causing an appreciative purr in his throat. It had taken almost a full year of living together before Jungkook had let Jimin Scent him, but now that he had, it was just a part of living in the pack house. Sometimes, he woke up and Jimin was curled up over the edge of his mattress, nose buried deep in the crook of Jungkook’s neck. It had been a shock the first time, but now Jimin clung to him so much he tended to just let him do as he pleased. Jungkook had severely disappointed the older boy by not being particularly inclined to chase after and Scent Jimin in reply, a cause of constant consternation between them.
“You smell like my hometown sometimes, Jungkookie,” Jimin brushed his hand at the hair on the nape of Jungkook’s neck, causing him to shiver involuntarily as goosebumps rose on his skin. “Are you sure we aren’t both from Busan?”
“I dunno,” Jungkook said dismissively, drying a plate with a small hand towel that probably was already in that questionable state of ‘is it stained or dirty?’ that none of them tended to question too closely. “I don’t remember.”
“It smells so nice, like the beach.” Jimin sighed, caught up in the nostalgia.
“You’re supposed to be washing, Jimin.”
Jimin hummed, acknowledging and moving closer to the sink but his attention was still on the youngest wolf. “When you present I bet you’ll smell even prettier. All the other packs will want you to join them, maybe even Nobles. Just remember your loving hyung Park Jimin, okay?” He leaned in and nuzzled against Jungkook’s jawline, bumping him upwards a little crudely and making Jungkook’s teeth clunk together a bit. “Jiminie loved you first.”
“What are you even talking about?” Jungkook laughed a little, despite himself. He was still unused to some of the more complicated pack dynamics, since he had been without one for so long. Normally Namjoon or Hoseok tried to help him keep up by explaining, but it’s hard to know what holes in education to fill when you grew up with the privilege of a proper pack.
“Well, you know wolves can move between packs,” Jimin pulled his plastic gloves back on and reached into the bubbly dishwater wrist-deep. “Some packs are made out of more ‘elite’ wolves, like Nobles.”
“Nobles? That’s like purebreds, right?”
“Mmm...kinda,” Jimin’s voice had taken on the gentle air it did when he was taking care of Jungkook more like a little brother than a packmate, his expression light-hearted which meant his words were more important to pay attention to. “It’s kind of a complicated term nowadays, since there are more strict rules on in-breeding because of all the medical issues it caused. But basically, Nobles have more of the pure blood from older, established families.” He rinsed off a plate and handed it to Jungkook, adding with a smile, “They tend to have older, established money, too. Namjoon comes from a Noble bloodline.”
“He does?” Jungkook’s eyes were wide and curious, and he dried the plate with only half the attention he should have.
“Yeah, all the Kim brothers do. That’s why we’ll finally be able to hunt properly on established territory, instead of using the public parks. So you’ll get to a real, proper hunt in a few weeks.”
Jungkook crinkled his nose, thinking about the public parks set aside for hunts, reservations that had more wolves coming through than hands to tend to it, leaving mostly a barren wasteland with too many mingled scents and not enough game. His hyungs had talked fondly of established territories, lush forests left exclusively for a certain pack that owned it, with trees that were actually alive and game aplenty, and no acres of fields with thousands of footpaths from wolves pounding through on the daily. “That sounds a lot nicer.”
“You’ll love it, Jungkookie. You’re already better at hunting than I was at your age.” Jimin gave a sly little smile, tilting his head to the side cutely as he sighed, “Ahh, to be young again.”
In response, Jungkook jutted his hip out and bumped it into Jimin, who stumbled over, dishwater dripping over the edges of the sink. “Hey!” Jimin cried out, lifting his knee up until he could kick at Jungkook’s waist, making him chuckle as he fended off the attack by grabbing the spray nozzle and turning the water on, splatting Jimin with a single shot of water, and making him screech.
There was a sudden yip behind them, a young wolf padding into the kitchen, his fur a sort of white with gray spots dotted across his face, and his eyes were a vibrant gold. Taehyung yipped again, his front paws lifting off the ground like he was patting at the tile, and Jungkook laughed before shooting the wolf with a spray of water as well. Taehyung snapped at the spray of water excitedly, trying to catch it in his mouth as Jungkook tried to get him in the face instead. He blinked, wiping a paw at his nose for a moment, before happily yipping again.
“Taehyung, what are yo--” Seokjin stepped into the kitchen, slipping instantly on the soaked tile an flailing back and forth for a few comedic moments, his bare feet dashing back and forth before he leaned back and to the side, catching himself on the island by his elbow with a painful-sounding grunt. Jungkook and Jimin froze, the nozzle still in Jungkook’s hand, and Taehyung’s ears twitching up and down in shocked wonder. Seokjin caught his breath for a moment before turning to glare at them. “Are you trying to kill someone?!” he snapped. Jungkook took note of the fact that his eyes were locked on Jungkook, not the other two, and he felt his neck heat up from embarrassment.
“S-sorry..” he said quietly, slipping the spray nozzle back in its holder. Seokjin stood for a moment, staring at Jungkook as if to add something else, and then promptly turned and walked out of the kitchen without another word.
With all the wounded ignominy of children berated by their parent, the two boys quietly went back to their task. Jungkook dropped one of the hand towels to the floor and half-heartedly pushed it around with his foot, while Jimin went back to washing.
“I told you he hated me,“ Jungkook mumbled under his breath.
Jimin sighed, “He does not. He’s probably just like that.”
“He’ll get over it soon,” Taehyung said before them, now transformed and leaning heavily over Jimin’s shoulder. “He usually doesn’t get angry for long.” In the last couple of weeks, Taehyung had slipped in naturally with the younger wolves, and during that time they had discovered he had a propensity for nibbling. His teeth dug gently into Jimin’s shoulder, not scratching the skin there but irritating it until it was raised and reddening. “He’s really a big softie.”
“I just don’t know what I did to make him dislike me,” Jungkook murmured quietly.
“Seokjin is easy, he gets along with most anybody,” Taehyung reassured him. “He’s not the one to worry about.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you can be a little standoffish too, Jungkookie,” Jimin chided in his quiet way, “You haven’t exactly tried to talk to him in more than monosyllables since he’s been here.”
Jungkook wanted to say that that was because Seokjin scared him just a little, intimidated him with his cool beauty, but that seemed too much to admit. They hadn’t had a proper conversation since that first morning, and Jungkook tended to hover silently on the edge of the room whenever Seokjin was present. He frowned, and Jimin nudged up against him, also effectively shaking Taehyung off his shoulder.
“Just talk to him!”
Tucking his chin into his chest, Jungkook blinked hard, trying to relax the way his throat constricted in nerves. He knew Jimin was right. Jimin had been right to push him when he’d first moved in, and he’d been so shy that whenever they told him to talk, he’d gotten so nervous he cried. Jimin had been right that Namjoon was someone Jungkook could trust with his life. Jimin was right about a lot of things, a deep source of wisdom wrapped in a soft sweetness. Peppermint suited Jimin.
“Okay…” Jungkook swallowed heavily, drying the last pan. “I’ll try.”
“Fighting!” Jimin encouraged with a cheer.
A few hours later, Jungkook was sitting on the ground behind the couch reading a comic book when he heard the springs creak and a soft groan as someone sat down. He tilted his face upwards to look and saw the back of Seokjin’s head. He was dressed in a bright-orange T-shirt and grey sweatpants, a medical textbook balanced on his knees as he sucked on a popsicle. There was a long moment where Jungkook froze, uncertainty bubbling up in the pit of his stomach, but then Seokjin unknowingly made the first move. Absentmindedly, Seokjin scratched at the back of his neck, and Jungkook caught a strong whiff of Seokjin’s scent again. Without thinking, Jungkook found himself up on his knees behind the couch, his hands gently draped across the headrest as he leaned in and sniffed into the base of that long, pale neck. It really was like some kind of soap or detergent, a strong smell but not overwhelming. He just smelled clean and homey and comforting. At first he had thought it was actually the soap Seokjin used, but this smell was different, it emanated from his skin and drew Jungkook in, until his nose brushed up against the skin there with a feather-light touch.
Seokjin gave a yelp at the contact, jerking up from the couch like he had spotted a spider and craning his head around. Jungkook’s eyes shot open, even though he didn’t remember having shut them in the first place, and he instinctively shrunk until he was almost hidden behind the couch. He expected Seokjin to snap at him or yell, but instead the man’s eyes just flashed at him in surprise and warning, his lips slightly parted.
“S-sorry! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you…” He swallowed thickly, forcing himself to meet the elder’s eyes, that still flickered with the red around the irises with the signs of an Alpha. He stood up from behind the couch, feeling somehow exposed. “It’s just… your scent is really nice.”
In response, Seokjin suddenly blinked hard at him, his eyes no longer their dangerous red, looking confused. “What?”
“Your scent? It’s like soap or something. I… I like it.”
There was an awkward moment of tense silence that hung between them, making Jungkook feel a bit nauseated, and then Seokjin gave a little sniff at the air. “You’re not presented, though?”
Jungkook bit his lip, shuffling his weight from foot to foot. “No, I’m not.” He stared down at his feet for a moment, then back up at Seokjin, adding a quiet, “Sorry.”
“Why do you keep doing that?” Seokjin frowned, and that taut expression Jungkook could only label as dislike flashed across his face again.
“Apologizing. Every time I see you, you’re apologizing to me.”
“Sorry?” tumbled out of Jungkook’s mouth, and then he gave a little smirk as he looked up at Seokjin, who rolled his eyes and chuckled.
“Brat,” he lifted the popsicle back to his mouth to catch before it started dripping. “But I’m your hyung, right? So you should just treat me normally.” Jungkook somehow felt that buried within the light-hearted tone, Seokjin was trying to convince himself as well that that was how it should be. But the effort was still appreciated.
Another silence enveloped them, with Seokjin nibbling at his popsicle while Jungkook fiddled with the edges of his T-shirt, wondering what constituted a comfortable or uncomfortable silence. At last, Seokjin removed the popsicle stick from his mouth, smacking his lips as though he’d made a big decision.
“You can finish Scenting me if you’d like, you know,” Seokjin told him casually, “I don’t mind. You just surprised me.”
Jungkook’s eyes widened. “Really?”
Seokjin nodded, and he got the impression that the offer wasn’t going to be stated twice, so Jungkook slipped around the couch, his hand tentatively reaching out to rest on Seokjin’s shoulder as he leaned in to the man’s neck again. His movements were tantalizingly slow, afraid at any moment that Seokjin would change his mind or snap at him, but the curiosity towards the calming smell overpowered his timidity. After a few moments, Seokjin’s shoulders relaxed, and he tugged aside the collar of his T-shirt with one hand, revealing the skin of his shoulder and collarbone. Jungkook sighed heavily, closing his eyes and laying his cheek against the delicate warmth of Seokjin’s shoulder. It was like crawling beneath the softness of freshly laundered sheets, curling up within it and having nothing to rush off and do, nowhere to hurry, so Jungkook allowed himself to sink within that comforting image.
After awhile, he felt Seokjin’s hands on his shoulders, and he lifted his head up in concern only to find Seokjin’s face buried below his jaw a moment later, the quiet sounds and slight coolness of Seokjin’s breath as he inhaled Jungkook’s scent, making him shudder involuntarily, his hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. He was suddenly overwhelmed by the inclination to wrap his arms around those shoulders, much broader and more intimidating than his own. It confused him, since he usually didn’t feel inclined to such moments of skinship, even with Jimin. So why was it different now?
“Mmm,” Seokjin hummed appreciatively into the delicate skin of Jungkook’s neck, and he actually shivered, then. “You smell like saltwater and… leather?”
Jungkook nodded, not sure why he was suddenly unable to speak. Then, Seokjin’s face pressed closer, until Jungkook could feel the hot wetness of Seokjin’s lips pressed against his shoulder. There was a ring of coolness at the center of Seokjin’s lips from when he’d been eating the popsicle a minute ago, and Jungkook could feel his body suddenly heat up, goosebumps rising on his arms and his eyes rolling back slightly into his head, lashes fluttering until his eyes were closed. He reached out his hands to grab at Seokjin’s sleeves, and then--
“Have you guys seen my helmet?” Hoseok’s voice interrupted abruptly as he strode into the living room, halting suddenly when he saw Seokjin and Jungkook leaping away from each other like the other was a hot-iron, their faces flushed. Seokjin wiped at his lips conspicuously with the back of his hand. “Um… everything okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, of course.” Seokjin said, a quite natural-looking smile coming to his face, but Jungkook could see that the man’s neck was flushing a bright pink. Despite himself, he smiled bashfully, biting at his lip to try and hold it back as he lifted his eyes to Hoseok. They were just Scenting, that wasn’t a big deal within a pack, so why did he feel guilty?
Hoseok gave them both a wary look, glancing between them with his gaze lingering a little longer on Seokjin, before he walked out of the room.
“Um, I’ll go help him look for his helmet,” Jungkook said suddenly, rushing out of the room.
He didn’t see Seokjin staring at his retreating back, a dark look on his face.