Year 1, January 21st
Whoever said that baby foxes were small wee beans were very much mistaken, but Jihoonie is still cute though so that makes up for it, I guess.
“Do you think he’s adjusting well? What if he can’t fall asleep in a new place so fast and-“
Jeonghan cuts him off before he can continue on with his nervous, stress induced ramble. Seungcheol can’t help it though; Doyoon had been with them since they’d started this whole foster care shebang and watching him go off to live with his new family (who will all love and care for him very much, Jeonghan likes to remind) had done quite a number of Seungcheol’s already fragile and delicate heart.
He opens his mouth to protest further (or start crying, whichever comes first) but Jeonghan holds up a hand to silence him. Seungcheol doesn’t know who his husband is trying to fool, he’d been the one to burst into loud, ugly sobs first when they saw off Doyoon that afternoon, the evidence of the act clearly seen in the faint red rim around his pupils and swollen puffiness of the face the angel took so much pride in.
The other male clears his throat. “We knew what we were getting into when we took him in, Cheol, and we’ve seen just how much his new family adores him so there’s really no reason to be upset whatsoever.”
The statement is partially true. When social services had first brought Doyoon to them as a tiny little 5 year old with his little floppy ears and bright puppy eyes, they’d already known in advance that there’d been a family waiting to adopt him and that he’d only be staying with them for a few months while all the paperwork and legal matters were sorted.
That hadn’t stopped the two of them from falling absolutely in love with the young puppy hybrid though, especially in Seungcheol’s case, being of the canine category himself, he’d grown almost immediately attached to the child the day he’d been brought to them. In fact, the only thing that had been stopping them from applying to adopt him themselves had been the minuscule fact that he already had another family waiting for him, and both Seungcheol and Jeonghan knew very much the importance of family.
Being the only foster home for Other children within the entire province and then some led to quite a number of Other children being dropped off with them despite an already maxed out house capacity, but the two of them had never and would never reject a child that needed them. And that had applied to Doyoon as well.
Seungcheol sighs loudly and buries his nose in the crook of his husband’s neck, inhaling the angel’s unique scent intertwined with his own. Jeonghan strokes the top of his head slowly, ruffling the dark strands of hair just the way he knew Seungcheol liked. The house was so quiet now, too quiet; it was suffocating. “I miss him, Hannie, why couldn’t he stay just a little while longer…”
Jeonghan doesn’t reply, instead continuing to gently pet his mate’s hair, soothing the werewolf’s petulant pouting.
“It’s so quiet, Hannie,” Seungcheol whines, nuzzling further into Jeonghan’s shoulder. He parts his lips to nibble lightly at the exposed skin, the corners of his lips lifting ever so slightly at the faintly rough ridges of the bite mark he’d left there so many years ago. “Hannie, I want more kids.”
“Doesn’t having more kids here with us mean that there are more kids coming from bad situations?” Jeonghan reasons, shifting to a more comfortable position to not squish his wings with Seungcheol still attached to his neck like a rather overgrown, vaguely more furry leech. “So if you think about it, it just means that there aren’t more kids that need us because they’re all out there with good families, right Cheol?”
His husband pulls away from his claimed spot on Jeonghan’s neck, an exaggeratedly dramatic pout on his lips. “I really hate when you’re being the reasonable one in this relationship.”
Jeonghan snorts. “Well all these years must have been a real shit fest for you then, seeing as how I’ve always been the mature one between the two of us.”
“Not when you’re demanding for rocky road ice cream at 2am you’re not,” Seungcheol mutters beneath his breath, stretching his arms up above his head and groaning as a few of his joints popped back into their respective places. “But let’s talk seriously for a second here.”
Seungcheol’s aura is a faint blue-grey of nervousness that flickers towards and away from his body, an indecisive mass of colour that seems to bleed into Jeonghan’s own aura and make his heart pick up speed a little as Seungcheol stares into his eyes, the dark irises full of an unreadable intent. “What’s wrong, Cheol?”
“I think maybe it’s time we actually think about really adopti-“
A loud ringing sound broke the heavy silence of the house, cutting through the strange awkward tension between them. Jeonghan jerks up from the couch and scurries over to where he’d left his phone on the kitchen island, his chest tightening at the familiar contact number on the screen.
He swipes to answer the call and holds the phone up to his ear. Seungcheol is mouthing to him a slurry of questions though the most distinct one would be the ‘Who is it?’ that forms on his lips, eyebrows raised in curiosity. Some angels were known for having precognitive abilities though Jeonghan was certainly not one of them, but he would admit to having had a strange feeling sitting right at the base of his ribcage all day since they’d said their goodbyes to Doyoon. He’d been quick to play it off as sadness over the loss of one of their favourite foster kids thus far, but as he hears the words coming from the speakers of his phone he wonders if he does in fact have some of those abilities after all.
“Jeonghan-ssi? Sorry to disturb you so late at night but we have a new little boy for you, we’d keep him with us for the night but we feel he’d be better off staying with you and Seungcheol-ssi,” Kim Seokjin’s voice had always been rather calming to Jeonghan (possibly due to his veela blood), however the words themselves right now were certainly not. It was never good to get a child in the middle of the night, and Seungcheol and Jeonghan usually picked up their new kids from the social services office in the mornings or, at the latest, tea time.
Night time pick ups meant bad situations, and children from bad situations meant it would be that much harder for him and Seungcheol to get them to trust them and to behave. He’d heard stories from other foster parents in the area about how difficult children from bad pasts acted when they came to them, though he uses the term ‘stories’ lightly as they in truth really just consist of a lot of grumbling and complaining about tantrums and messes.
Jeonghan always found it hard to bite his tongue during those sorts of conversations because really, they were just taking care of the human children.
Well that’s a whole different issue right there.
The number of times he’s had to fight the urge to tell Mrs. Jang from two blocks down with her stupid ‘can-I-speak-to-the-manager’ haircut and fake Gucci handbag about dealing with tantrums when said tantrum is coming from a child that can vomit literal acid so that she can shut up about tracking muddy footprints into the living room for one second, so help him.
Seungcheol has resumed his pouting as Jeonghan hums in response to Seokjin on the phone, the latter having breathed out a loud sigh of relief upon Jeonghan’s confirmation that yes, they’d be able to take in the boy tonight no worries.
“Thank god, we were so worried we’d have to keep him with us for the night you wouldn’t even believe. I tried calling Seungcheol-ssi like 5 times but he didn’t pick up so I thought maybe you two were busy or busy-“
Jeonghan covers the receiver of the phone with his hand and glares over at his husband, ignoring the puppy eyes the elder pulls out in favour of lecturing him instead. “You left your phone in your jeans pocket again, didn’t you! What have I said about that? The last time we ended up throwing it into the washing machine and you got yourself a very shiny, fresh-cotton-breeze scented, non-functional phone!”
Seungcheol shrinks into himself at the scolding and his bottom lip sticks out even further, the sight tugging at Jeonghan’s heartstrings despite himself.
He returns to his call. “Sorry, Seokjin-ssi, you were saying?”
The veela clears his throat, the sound about maybe 20% actual bodily need and 70% offence, the remaining percentage a mixture of dramatic flair and just Kim Seokjin himself. “I was saying, Jeonghan-ssi, that the boy you’re getting is about two years old and he’s a kitsune, so I hope you have a fox-proof room in your house somewhere because you’re going to need it,” Jeonghan spares a second to mouth the name at Seungcheol who, by now has retrieved his phone, and quickly researches up on the species so they’d be at least a little prepared.
They’d been fine with Doyoon and foxes were certainly a lot less excitable than puppies, right?
“Hoseok and Yoongi and Seulgi will be at your place shortly to drop them off so be ready for them. Again, so, so sorry to bother you so late, we wouldn’t do it if there were better options.”
“What about his background?” Seungcheol whispers into his other ear, having come up behind him to try and listen in on the conversation a minute or two ago. Jeonghan repeats the question to Seokjin and feels a seed of dread in his belly at the prominent beat of silence that follows it.
Seokjin sighs once again. “His mother was a nine-tailed kitsune which is quite rare to find nowadays, and apparently there’s a rumour going around about them bringing luck to whoever possesses it,” Jeonghan passes the phone to Seungcheol who turns on the speakerphone, the seed of dread having sprouted into full bloomed nausea inducing horror as he guesses Seokjin’s next words. “Some black market hunters broke into their den and killed her right in front of her son, cut her tail off and everything, would have gotten the boy too if some neighbours hadn’t spotted them and called the police.”
Jeonghan presses a fist against his mouth, tasting bile acidic and painful at the back of his throat.
Seungcheol seems equally as sickened but manages to keep his voice steady enough to speak. “You said den, did they live in the forest region?”
“Yes, they spent most of their time in their fox form so don’t be too shocked when you first see him, I’m sure he’s a sweet boy.”
The look he sends Jeonghan tells him enough: they’ll love him regardless.
Seungcheol is pulling open the door of the car before Yoongi can even kill the engine, peering into the dark car impatiently. However his previous fluttery, excited mood dying immediately as he catches sight of what lies within it. Instead, now all he feels is hot, bubbling anger.
“What the hell do you people think you’re doing?” he bites out, just about ready to pull the cowering boy out of his seat and use him to mow their lawn because that’s obviously the only use he has seeing as what he’s done.
Jung Hoseok is a bumbling mess of terror pheromones and long scratches up his arms and neck as he stares up at Seungcheol, pupils dilated in fear at the sight of the furious werewolf. “W-w-we had no choice! He went feral and was injuring everyone at the office and-“
“That doesn’t give you the right to put a little boy in a cage!”
His loud outburst draws Jeonghan over from where he’d been waiting by the door, trying to regain some of his energy after running around the house to get everything ready for their new child’s arrival. The angel’s eyes glint with the same wrath Seungcheol can feel in his own veins as he sees the metal cage in the seat beside Hoseok, the tiny figure cowering behind the bars sinking a red hot knife straight into Seungcheol’s heart.
“What is wrong with you!” Jeonghan shouts, wings twitching threateningly behind him, with Hoseok obviously having gotten the hint as he scurries out of his seat to allow the two of them access to the cage inside. Seungcheol leans inside to unclip the buckle they’d fastened around it to keep it from slipping off, pulling it out even as his stomach twists painfully at the sight of the fox cub whining sorrowfully inside.
Seulgi at least has the decency to look a little ashamed, staring down at her shoes as Jeonghan glares at them accusingly. Yoongi however stares straight at them, face expressionless as he explains. “The boy was going feral when the cops picked him up, none of us could control him or get him to shift to human form and he was biting and scratching anyone within reach, we had no other choice.”
“A cage? Are you seriously telling me that was your only option!”
In the time that Jeonghan takes to scold the social service workers, Seungcheol sets the cage down on their lawn and is about to open it when Hoseok grabs at his wrist to stop him. “You should do that inside the house, in case he makes a run for it while we’re out here.”
Seungcheol purses his lips, not liking the idea of keeping the poor boy inside the cold metal cage for even a second longer but also understanding Hoseok logic. He looks up at Jeonghan and jerks his head towards the house, picking up the cage and making his way towards it, not quite caring exactly what his husband decided to do with the three workers but feeling extremely willing to help hide any bodies if necessary.
“I’m honestly absolutely disgusted with you three and don’t think I won’t be calling Seokjin to report this-“
“He’s the one that got Jihoon into the cage.”
“Hannie, close the door, I’m going to get him out.”
The moment the cage door is opened, as Hoseok had warned, the little kitsune darts out and tries to make a run for it, though his legs are still wobbly and weak from being scrunched up in the cage and he doesn’t get very far before collapsing right on their hard wood floor, his soft, laboured breaths echoing like thunder in the silence of the house. Hoseok flinches back to stand behind Yoongi, the angry red scratches along his arms testament enough as to why.
Seungcheol hurries over to the collapsed kitsune and picks him up, holding him to his chest despite the child’s weak struggles. All of the fighting Yoongi had mentioned must have taken a toll on him, Seungcheol guesses, the struggles growing weaker and weaker the longer Seungcheol persists. “You mentioned a name, Jihoon, was it?”
Seulgi nods, pulling her phone out of her pocket and turning it on. “His name is Lee Jihoon, he’s currently two years old and he’s a pure blooded kitsune, his other relevant health and legal information will be emailed to you by Seokjin some time tomorrow but otherwise he’s been given the okay by our paediatrician and doesn’t have any known food allergies registered but we’ll check on that once the relevant tests come back to us and inform you.”
Jeonghan is continuing to grill the three on whatever else they might need to know to take care of the boy but Seungcheol couldn’t care less right now, that would all have to wait for later. All he could see was the slow rise and fall of the cub's chest, the snowy white fur slightly muddy and dirty but still gleaming under the warm yellow lights of their living room.
His chest clenches as he spots the light spray of dark red along with the kitsune side, willing himself not to start crying as he imagines this small, frail little thing watching his own mother be murdered right in front of him. He doesn’t realise his hold has tightened until the fox yelps and sinks his tiny teeth into Seungcheol’s forearm deep enough to draw blood.
Despite the stinging pain that the bite brings, Seungcheol forces himself not to jerk away, instead running a finger gently along the top of the cub's head to try and coax him to let go on his own. Eventually he feels the jaw clamped down on him relax every so slightly and he’s able to pull his arm away, wincing at the feeling of blood trickling down the skin of his arm. Jihoon looks up at him with huge glinting silvery blue eyes, blinking slowly as he stares intently at Seungcheol.
“Cheol! You’re bleeding!” Jeonghan exclaims, shutting the front door behind him after he shooed out the social service workers. Seungcheol holds a finger up to his lips to silence the fretting angel, not pausing in his petting of the child in his arms. Eventually he feels the cub slump into his hold, head resting in the crook of his elbow and breath fanning over his skin.
Jeonghan has come to kneel down beside the two of them, his eyes wide and amazed at the sight of Seungcheol cradling the kitsune like he would a baby, the lithe frame of the fox completely encompassed by the thick muscle cording Seungcheol’s arms. “He’s so small,” Jeonghan whispers, trying not to wake the now sleeping child. “Should he be so small? All the pictures online made them seem a lot bigger.”
Just before the social workers had arrived to deliver Jihoon to them, Seungcheol and Jeonghan had taken the liberty to look up some of the habits and behaviours of kitsune children, as well as some pictures and statistics. The average size of a kitsune cub at this age should be a lot bigger, and Seungcheol can’t help but wonder why exactly this boy is so much smaller than he should be.
“Maybe it was just the pictures,” he replies, trying not to jostle the sleeping Jihoon in his arms as he stands up to bring the boy to the room they’d set up for him earlier.
“Do you think he should sleep alone tonight? What if he wakes up all alone and he’s scared? What if he tries to get out of the house while we’re asleep?” Jeonghan pushes open the door to the room and steps aside to allow Seungcheol to pass, his expression concerned and sad.
Seungcheol doesn’t breathe as he sets the kitsune down in the crib, the fitted sheet over the mattress freshly changed by his mate and smelling of sweet, clean cotton. “We have some mattresses in the storeroom we can take out, we’ll just take turns watching him,” he says once Jihoon is safely out of his arms, turning to Jeonghan with a tired smile.
His husband’s gaze flickers down to the already partially healed wound on his arm (thanks to his werewolf healing speed) and his concern is evident as his scent leaks more prominently before and his wings flutter behind him agitatedly. “You go and clean that up first, I’ll watch Jihoonie,” Jeonghan says, sitting himself down on the ground beside the crib and staring at the unmoving figure. “Bring a towel and some water too, we can try and get some of the dirt and blood off now while he’s asleep in case he’s too finicky tomorrow to let us bathe him.”
He nods, speeding towards the bathroom in their bedroom to clean and disinfect the bite, filling a small tub he’d gotten from under the sink with water as he douses his wound in antiseptic. Being foster parents to Other children meant lots of accidents, both on the children themselves and Jeonghan and Seungcheol, so Jeonghan always made sure to replenish any decreased stock in their medicine cabinet regularly.
If he nearly trips and drenches the walls in water on the way back to Jihoon’s new room no one will ever know.
“Here you go, Hannie.”
The water goes from clear to a dark murky brown within minutes as Jeonghan works on cleaning most of the grime from Jihoon’s fur, Seungcheol gently lifting the boy up for the angel to get the parts he couldn’t reach when required. His mate’s breath catches in his throat as he comes across the smattering of blood on the white fur, but his hands don’t even hesitate to dip back into the water Seungcheol had just changed to wipe at the dark red stains.
Seungcheol hates how red the water has turned but neither him nor Jeonghan break the silence as they finish cleaning Jihoon up. The boy hadn’t even stirred throughout the entire process, a sure tell as to how tired he must have been from the day’s ordeal.
“Are you hungry? I can make us a quick sandwich while you watch Jihoonie,” Jeonghan dries his hands off on his pants and asks, though his focus isn’t on Seungcheol but instead is gazing down fondly at the now clean and white cub.
The hunger gnawing at his stomach hadn’t been noticeable until Jeonghan mentioned it, his concentration having been dedicated solely to the new occupant of their house. The air that had been still and silent just hours before was now filled with the sound of Jihoon’s soft breaths and snores, and despite the circumstances Seungcheol couldn’t help but feel the void in his heart fill with warmth as stared at their new child.
Doyoon had gone on to live with a good family that would love him dearly, so it was now Seungcheol and Jeonghan’s job to love this new baby boy as much as they possibly could until he could do the same.
Seungcheol leans his head against his husband’s shoulder, once again breathing in his comforting scent though now in a much different context than earlier on. “Yeah, that’d be great, could I have extra cheese, please?”
Soft lips press delicately against his own and he feels Jeonghan smile into the kiss as Seungcheol places a hand on Jeonghan’s back, being careful not to press on his wings. The angel knew how to hide his wings away when they were out or when they were sleeping (following several incidents involving rolling, a pair of glasses and ice cream), but when they were just toddling about at home he liked to have them free.
The kiss doesn’t last for nearly long enough before Jeonghan is pulling away, brushing his lips over his husband’s one last time before turning on his heels to go make them their sandwiches. Seungcheol lets himself sulk for a good five seconds, taking Jeonghan’s earlier spot next to the crib to watch the sleeping cub, taking comfort in the way his chest rose and fell steadily in his slumber.
Non-parents wouldn’t understand it, but watching their kids sleep had always been one of Seungcheol and Jeonghan’s favourite things to do, relishing in the slight smiles of good dreams and being ready to comfort the tears of bad ones.
He was really loathe as to how often the latter of the two happened, but with most foster children it was a given from the start. Doyoon himself had suffered from a good two months of almost daily night terrors, though Seungcheol is a little ashamed to admit that he hadn’t been present for most of it due to the increased workload of his new job at the time.
It’s all good and settled now; the pay is good and enough to support him and Jeonghan as well provide their children with whatever they desire outside of the care funds provided by the government, and that’s all they could really ask for. Seungcheol slips a finger between the bars of the crib, poking gingerly at Jihoon’s teeny little paw, not even fighting the smile that slips onto his face at the soft texture.
The painted white wooden bars of the crib made him hesitate for a second, wondering if they would seem too much like that bloody cage the social office had stuck him in when Jihoon woke up. The mated pair had made a decision before starting this whole foster care business to not let any of the kids sleep in their bed with them, just as way to keep the children from getting too used to it and for them to not grow too attached.
And not for the first time since setting up that rule, Seungcheol felt ever so tempted to break it. It wouldn’t hurt to have Jihoon sleep with them in their room, right? Just for tonight? He’s about to direct these questions towards his husband when the angel returns to the room with two plates in his hand, a grilled cheese sandwich sitting neatly on each.
It’s at moments like these that Jeonghan really looks like an angel come down from heaven.
On other days Seungcheol questions if the white wings were a lie and he had risen from hell instead because there is no way any sort of heavenly being should be so devilish in demeanour.
“Extra cheese, as requested, husband of mine,” Jeonghan hands him the plate and throws in a kiss on the forehead as a freebie, earning him a bright, gummy smile from his puppy-like husband in return. “Need anything else before I sit down and get comfortable and not move again in the foreseeable future?”
Seungcheol shakes his head but pauses, glancing over at Jihoon briefly. “Can’t he sleep with us tonight, Hannie? What if the crib looks too much like a cage for him when he wakes up and he’s scared?”
Jeonghan sighs. “Cheol we’ve talked about this…”
“I know I know but…” he gestures vaguely towards Jihoon’s adorably snoring form, “just look at him, Hannie, he’s so precious it just makes me feel like squishing him and-”
A pained whine breaks his train of thought and both him and Jeonghan snap their heads to look at the source, panicked. Jihoon doesn’t appear to have woken up but is squirming around in his sleep, thin limbs shivering and twitching as he continues to whimper and cry and break their hearts.
Although fox is a little different to understand than wolf, Seungcheol can still understand the tone behind the cries, his own inner alpha nudging at him to protect and comfort the distressed pup. He lets out his own low whine and stares up desperately at Jeonghan who is looking rather distressed himself if the stray feathers on the floor by his feet are anything to go by.
In fact, Seungcheol can see the exact moment the angel’s resolve breaks as he leans over the crib to scoop the still crying Jihoon up into his arms, cradling him close to his body as he brings him to their room and settles him in the middle of the bed. Seungcheol crawls beneath the covers beside the cub and curls his form around him protectively, his husband doing the same on the opposite side.
“Just one night,” Jeonghan whispers, interlocking his fingers with Seungcheol’s. He nods in response, though judging by the way Jeonghan’s gaze actually melts at the sight of the cub now sleeping calmly between them, he guesses they won’t be keeping their promise after all.
“Please, Jihoonie, you need to eat something for dinner, please?” Jeonghan pleads, cheek pressed to the ground as he tries to lure Jihoon out from his hiding spot under the sofa with a bowl of finely ground meat and some milk that he’d prepared. It’s been three days since he came to stay with them, and so far Jeonghan is convinced that he hates him.
He’d given Jeonghan a really nasty scratch down his forearm the first morning he woke up in their bed before scurrying off to hide beneath the nearest possible object, refusing to shift to human form to bathe or eat or anything. In fact, Jeonghan had found himself looking up the differences between kitsune and regular foxes just to make sure those bumbling buffoons at social services hadn’t screwed up somehow and bought them an actual fox cub instead.
It turned out he was indeed a kitsune but Jeonghan still had his doubts.
“Jihoonie? Please? Just this once? You didn’t eat anything at all today and if you keep it up you won’t be able to grow big and strong, please?” Jeonghan ordinarily refused to stoop down to any degree of begging, but with stubborn kitsune cubs he soon found out that desperation was a very strong force.
“Hannie, I’m home- What are you doing on the ground?” the stress of being unable to feed his new child hits the bursting point in him as Jeonghan felt tears welling up in the corners of his eyes, relief flooding him at the sight of his handsome, reliable, and most importantly, liked-by-Jihoon husband. “Oh baby what’s wrong, is Hoonie okay?”
The bowl of food shakes in his weak hold, Jeonghan feeling a wave of shame wash over him at being unable to care for their child. “Please help me get Jihoonie to eat, he hasn’t eaten anything all day and he refuses to come out and I don’t know what to do and-“
He really hates crying because of how puffy it makes his face but turns out stress is a great inducer.
“Hey hey hey, it’s okay, it’s not your fault, why don’t you go and take a nice hot shower to calm yourself down while I sort this out, alright Hannie?” Seungcheol soothes, helping him to his feet and pressing a chaste kiss to his cheek. “Hoonie and I are gonna have a nice long talk, man to man, canine to canine, all the good stuff.”
Jeonghan sniffles wetly, dabbing at the wetness streaking his cheeks with the sleeve of his sweater. “Are you insinuating I’m not a man?”
“You’re my angel.”
“I’ll accept that.”
Seungcheol smiles, crinkly eyed and full of pearly white teeth. “Don’t worry, Hannie, I got this.”
When he returns from his shower, fresh faced and feeling a lot better now that the grime and frustrations of the day were all washed off, Jeonghan isn’t sure whether to actually feel surprised at the sight of Seungcheol in his large wolf form licking the head of a much smaller Jihoon, now finally out from under the couch. The kitsune cub is licking daintily at the bowl of milk, not even letting out so much as a hiss as Seungcheol continues to groom him.
Jeonghan would have scoffed in disbelief had he not been so relieved that Jihoon was finally eating something, and judging by the ravenous way he devours the bowl of meat he must have really been starving.
Jihoon sniffs at the air and turns to look at Jeonghan with narrowed, suspicious eyes. body tensing up and ready to flee back to the safety of under the sofa. Seungcheol lets out a low, rumbling growl that has Jihoon’s ears pinning back to his head, whining softly in reply. He feels so out of place, standing awkwardly by the doorway and watching his mate scold their new son in whatever language they’re conversing in, trying not to make any sudden movements in case it sends Jihoon fleeing.
The dark amber eyes of his husband meet his, head quirking towards the fox cub as if beckoning him closer and Jeonghan stands there wondering just how to convey how much of a terrible idea that is because the kid obviously hates him without making too much noise and scaring said kid off. With a few more pointed head jerks and narrow-eyed stares, Jeonghan finally gathers the courage to take a few steps forward towards the pair, head bowed low and palms visible just like in the video he’d watched about dealing with kitsune cubs.
It obviously hadn’t worked before but Jeonghan was not taking chances here.
Seungcheol uses his giant muzzle to nudge Jeonghan’s hand towards Jihoon’s head, completely oblivious to the state of conflict and utter terror his husband was in. Jeonghan doesn’t breathe until he feels soft velvet beneath his palm, the kitsune still not completely relaxed but not running away either, which Jeonghan would happily classify as a win on his part.
“Jihoonie? I know you’re scared and you miss your mother, but Seungcheol and I will take care of you from now on, we promise, we won’t let anything hurt you ever again,” he pauses to let Seungcheol translate his speech into a mixture of low grumbles and whines, Jihoon looking at him intently with those big blue eyes of his all the while. “It would be helpful if you could shift to human form so we can bathe you and clean you up nicely, and if you want to shift back afterwards that’s perfectly fine, you can do whatever you want.”
In a brief spurt of bravery, Jeonghan kneels down until he’s at near eye level with the cub, determinedly not breaking their stare. “Let us take care of you, okay Jihoonie? We want to love you, will you let us?”
Before Seungcheol can even finish with his series of grumbles Jihoon is gone, scrambling back under the couch and knocking over the bowl of milk in his hurry. Jeonghan feels his chest cave in, disappointment flooding him so strongly he almost feels like screaming in frustration (but doesn’t, because he knows that would only frighten Jihoon even more). And they’d been doing so well too…
His mate dives under the sofa as well, his bottom half sticking well out as he tries his best to get as close to the hiding cub as possible. Jeonghan is about to tell Seungcheol to just give up and try again tomorrow now that the boy at least has a little bit of food in him when Seungcheol bumps his head on the wooden slats in his hurry to get back out, a dust bunny stuck adorably to his right ear as he grins up at Jeonghan.
Seungcheol quickly moves to the back of the couch, gesturing for Jeonghan to move it aside. Jeonghan sighed exasperatedly. “I’ve tried that, Cheol, it doesn’t work, he just finds somewhere else to hide and…“
The loud howl his husband lets out has him trailing off, completely and utterly shocked. Seungcheol wasn’t usually this vocal in his wolf form around him, typically communicating with head butts and whining.
Deciding to humour him, Jeonghan pushes the couch out and away from the wall, revealing Jihoon’s hiding pla-
“Oh my god.”
Lying on the ground where Jeonghan had stared at Jihoon cowering against for most of the day was no longer a snowy white kitsune cub, the chubby red cheeks and sleepy, squinted eyes of a toddler greeting him instead. The smattering of hair on his head was a snowy white, his eyes still a silvery blue. He had a single fluffy white tail extending from his tailbone, and the appendage had curled itself protectively around Jihoon’s middle.
Overall, he was a very, very cute child and Jeonghan felt even more enamoured with him than he was before.
Seungcheol was beaming up at him (or as much as a wolf could, really) as he picked the wriggling naked toddler off of the ground, holding him securely to his chest to not drop him. Even in human form he seemed a lot smaller than some of the other children this age that had come to stay with them before, but Jeonghan was sure he could find some clothes that would fit him in their stores.
If it were even possible, he felt his heart melt even more as Jihoon’s little, little mouth parts in a yawn, his eyes scrunching up adorably as the cutest sound he’s possibly ever heard leaves his lips. Unable to resist the strong, affectionate maternal urge that came over him, he leans his head down to press a soft kiss to the boy’s forehead, breathing in the smell of babies that he so absolutely adores.
“Come on baby boy, let’s get you cleaned up and ready for bed.”