The sea was where they found him.
His back sat turned toward them, spine curved over drawn-up knees and hair fluttering with the sea breeze, skin seeping into the sand as though it were sucking him down into their deep, dark depths. He wasn’t drowning though. Not this time. Simply staring out across the dark waters and even darker sky as though they were possibilities half-submerged in dark otherworlds.
A million lights twinkled overhead, lighting him in their eyes; still, Seokjin released a breath.
“Hey, Jungkook!” he said, making sure to say his name before he touched him, ruffling his hair.
(There were still dark times, times when their youngest would retreat, shrink, into himself. There were days that became weeks, then months, when he refused to speak, or look at them. Even when he went into heat, there were times when he had trouble saying how he felt, saying anything at all, even as his skin burned and his breaths turned into theirs).
Jungkook looked up, eyes clear.
A question lingered in those orbs.
“We’ve been looking for you for ages!” Taehyung said, drawing his arms around him, pulling him back into his chest. Jungkook smiled, accepting the hug; out of all of them, he accepted Taehyung’s contact the easiest.
(Even now, when he was scared, when the dark was too dark, and he remembered that he could, that he was allowed, the boy would crawl in beside the elder, squeeze himself into a small ball near the side of the bed. In the mornings, they’d always find Taehyung wrapped around the youngest as though he were a comforter, or the nearest pillow. Many photos had been taken over the years).
“Sorry, hyung,” the youngest murmured into Taehyung’s elbow, eyelashes fluttering as he flushed. “It’s nice out here.”
Nice, away from the city.
Yoongi had worked himself to the bone to find them a place outside of Seoul. When Jungkook had finished his first heat, Yoongi poured himself into his mixtapes, earning himself enough to gain status in the underground music world.
Then, his work began to flourish.
It wasn’t just a little tapping on the doors of producers in Seoul; the young of society listened, obsessed over the rapper’s music, and the sounds he made and uttered and used, flourished into an outcry, a protest, against norms. Omegas, alphas and betas and abuse, passivity and perceived masculine and feminine thoughts and actions; work and education and fear and dominance and the streets, the streets, the streets, all against the upperclassmen who dared to call themselves superior.
Something clicked. The music continued to play, a battering against the masses, and between it all, Jungkook listened tentatively with headphones too big for his head and eyes so round Yoongi was afraid he’d drive the the boy to tears.
But, somewhere in between, Yoongi found words.
“Hey, Kookie,” Yoongi murmured over Taehyung’s head, and the little omega perked, looking up, unafraid, to the elder omega’s eyes, to the question that lay there.
Perceived norms in gender and what it meant to be an alpha and omega; more and more, omegas battled for dominance and control in the same ways that alphas longed to be controlled, owned.
(Here was something new, just budding, a flower too fragile to bloom just yet; the rest of them knew what it might have meant, and Yoongi remained clueless. Naturally. But love did not limit itself to the body; love came and went with the waves of the ocean, the sea, and Yoongi and Jungkook remained, here, and here, and here).
Yoongi smiled, and ruffled the kid’s hair, gently, softly. Jungkook laughed, a little louder. Yoongi was the only one to draw that sound out.
“Time for food, kiddo,” Seokjin murmured, smiling, and Taehyung drew the youngest up off the sand. “It’s time to go home.”
They’d moved, with Yoongi’s money. Disappeared off the radar, away from the farms and the noisy streets.
Namjoon still done his time in the city, still persevered in shutting down every underground slave-farm within a ten-mile radius of the busiest city in all of South Korea. Worked harder when he came home late in the night to find Jungkook sleeping against the walls close to the door, waiting for the eldest member of the pack. Namjoon would smile, and carry the youngest to his bed (they’d still find him in the morning curled tight to Jimin, the elder’s arms wrapped around his shoulders).
“Daaa~ Kookie!” Hoseok called when they stumbled into the house a few minutes later. The alpha rubbed his nose against Jungkook’s cheek and laughed when the youngest flushed. “Namjoon is cooking, so everyone’s been warned,” he added in a mock whisper. Seokjin went sheet-white.
“Oh, for the love of Go-“ he started, before they all heard the tell-tale sound of glass breaking. Jungkook jumped, like he had so many times before, but this time, it was Hoseok who clung to him, gripping fistfuls of the sleeves of his jacket and holding tight.
“No, please don’t let that be my wine-glass collection, please,” Seokjin moaned, fingers on his face as he crawled into the kitchen.
A second later, and Namjoon could be heard begging for mercy-
“I’m your mate- don’t shoot that thing at me-“
“Mate my fucking ass- that glass was fucking expensive, you clumsy-ass idiot-“
Taehyung snorted. “Make-up sex is gonna be lit tonight, guys.”
“Stay out of the west wing yes?” Jimin murmured from behind Jungkook.
“Yes, yes, yes,” Hoseok agreed.
Jungkook buried his nose into Hoseok’s shoulder and breathed in.
It was decided, when they moved in, that Jungkook would decorate the walls of the long hallway that divided the west and east wings of the house.
The twine and nails he’d picked up easily enough, and the photos that he’d taken on the camera from their old home were still as new as the memories they’d had when taking them. He’d spent hours hammering the nails and twine to the wall, using small clips and fairy lights to hang them. Pouring hours into it, while the rest of the pack moved the boxes, unpacked, shouted murder and created chaos around him.
By the end of the night, when the lines of morning were sharpening the skies, they’d found him sitting underneath the bright lights, looking up with wide eyes at the photos, the hundreds of memories they’d made in the last few months lining the walls. Happy memories, funny ones that made them reminisce of times not too long ago; the early days, the later ones, and the ones in the middle where Jungkook felt he was finding them in the same ways that they had found him.
Once, then altogether.
They slept in the same room that night, and slept on well into the afternoon; all that time, Jungkook remained in the middle.
Whenever they nested together, they always made sure he stayed in the middle (where he was safest).
“Whattcha thinking?” Taehyung said.
Jungkook perked. Jimin and Hoseok were playing video games in the background, their voices rising as their avatars went against each other in a duel.
He shook his head, smiled and dug his face into Taehyung’s shoulder. His mind was still on the stars, the wash of the waves against the shore.
“Hyung?” He murmured.
“You said that I smelled like the sea,” he said, voice barely above a monotone.
“Hyung, why do we have a scent?”
Taehyung shrugged. “I dunno. We just do, I suppose.”
Jungkook nodded into Taehyung’s shoulder, and watched the colours on the television blur into his dreams.
He didn’t see Yoongi’s eyes as they watched him, curious, thoughtful, how they remained, before Jimin’s hands reached out, grabbed his. Pulled him away.
Safest wasn’t always safe.
The nightmares always came back.
This time he saw his mother being dragged into the ocean.
He always woke up in cold sweats and barely-there breaths. The kind that cleaved his chest in two. The kind that made the others wake at the same time as he did- no matter what room of the house they were in.
He used to scream; there wasn’t anything to scream about now, though- the monsters were dead. Gone. Now, it was just darkness and soft whispers of breaths against the skin of a cheek and Jungkook lying there, believing he was still in his dreams, still stuck inside his head, screaming for a way out when no one would save him.
This time, Yoongi’s fingers trailed along Jungkook’s neck, little ghost lines that drifted along his life-line, all the way down to his hands, where his other life-lines lay, the pads of fingertips soothing over every beat of his heart.
“Just a bad dream, bun,” he said, words slurring between the hands of four and five in the morning. “Just a dream.”
(Yoongi never told him that his dreams weren’t real; Jungkook was overwhelmingly grateful every single time. Telling him that his dreams wouldn’t hurt him, that they were illusions, made him feel as though he were left in a dark place and told to behave. Beaten into submission and left begging for numbness, again, again, again. Yoongi never told him to go back to sleep, either; he always waited until Jungkook’s breathing evened out, and he’d stay awake, until Jungkook woke up later, coming up slowly from blackout dreams. By then, the elder omega would be out like a light, purple bruises under his eyes softening into a smile Jungkook would cuddle into and hold until the others found them and pushed silent fingers against their lips).
They fell into each other.
Step by step.
Slowly, then all at once. Waves that merged, softened, slowed, then crashed, again, again, and again.
Yoongi wouldn’t understand until he found himself caught staring at Jungkook laughing so hard his cheeks turned red and the sea washed against their waving hands and outstretched fingers.
Slowly, then, all at once. Wave upon wave, and then something more. Again, again, again.
It would be later in life, much, much later, when the two of them would look out over the sea. They would watch the rest of the pack play in the sand, eyes crinkled, fingers a little more slender and bodies taller, older, more wise.
The water would shimmer with the sun, drench them in light, and Yoongi would pull Jungkook close, whisper in his ear, “That’s what you smell like to me.”
Jungkook, unknowing, unsure, would turn toward Yoongi and murmur, “What do you mean?”
“The waves. The sea. Salt, but softer.”
Jungkook, nose scrunched (it never changed, even after all these years), would say, “Yeah. That’s what everyone says I smell like. The sea, and orange blossoms.”
Yoongi would smile then.
He would murmur, softly, “Yes. The sea. That is how we all fell for you. One wave at a time, and then a crash, all at once. Again, and again. Against the cliffs, or basking by the shores of Busan. The sky would reflect you, mirror you, but even as the seasons change and spring comes, the sea would always, always, remain the same, willing to hold all of us close, willing to keep us through the seasons, every year.”
(He’d wax poetic about the pack’s scents- Jin would be downright fucking egotistical if Yoongi ever brought this up- but even though everyone was unique, even though they all knew that everyone had something special to give to their group, their family, they all knew that the one person who changed them, who brought them home, who made it worth it, was their youngest).