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At The Mall

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It was going to be the highlight of their winter break. The kids we’re looking forward to it for months, getting to go to the Lotte World Mall, the largest mall in all of South Korea. There were stores for everyone, toy stores for the younger ones and even a Balenciaga store for Hoseok, the avid fashionista (not that he could afford to buy anything there). It was going to be a fun time, or at least everyone thought so.

A few days before the trip, Seokjin had suggested that him and Yoongi should get a couples massage. “I mean,” he justified, “we’ve been so busy lately, and a massage would be nice. Plus I’m sure Namjoon could watch the kids for an hour. He’s incredibly responsible.” Namjoon, sitting on the couch in the living room, beamed at Seokjin’s remark.

Reluctantly, Yoongi agreed to this whole idea. He wasn’t sure if Namjoon could truly handle 4 kids in a huge mall, all wanting to be in different stores at the same time. But the idea of some alone time with Seokjin was so appealing that he did his best to push any negative thoughts he had aside. This was all going to be fine, he kept telling himself.

D-Day came as the family pulled into the mall parking garage and went back outside to the front entrance of the mall.

The wonder in their kids’ eyes was apparent as they looked up to the huge tower in front of them. The Lotte World Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Korea, was right in front of them. “Can we go up there?” asked Jimin and Taehyung in unison.

“I’m afraid not guys. Today we are just going to the mall, but we can come back another time to go up the tower, ok?” said Seokjin.

The boys all were a bit disappointed but that disappointment turned to excitement as they entered the huge place. There really was something for everyone, and the boys were running around and jumping around with glee. Except for Namjoon.

Now Namjoon was normally a quiet kid, but for some reason today he was more quiet than usual. His head was in a book and he didn’t seem nearly as excited as the rest of his siblings were. His parents both noticed this as Seokjin sent Yoongi over to talk to him.

Yoongi gently tapped on Namjoon’s shoulder as to not startle him from his book. The boy looked up from his book and Yoongi could see the worry that was found on it. “If you don’t want to watch your siblings Namjoon you don’t have to. We can cancel the massage, dad and I both want you to have fun as well.”

“No appa, I want you and dad to go to the massage. I can handle all of them, we can just go to a play area or something. It’ll be fine.” Namjoon smiled as Yoongi went back over to help Seokjin break up a fight between Taehyung and Jungkook (over who knows what). But in reality, Namjoon went back to reading his book full of worries. He didn’t really want to watch all of his siblings in this giant mall, but he also knew that his parents needed a break. And being the selfless individual that he is, Namjoon decided that his parents getting some alone time together was far more important than his worries about babysitting. Plus, it was only for an hour, there couldn’t be that much that can go wrong.

The massage appointment wasn’t until 2 pm, so they still had plenty of time to do a little shopping, considering it was only 10 am. They took the elevator up to the fourth floor where many of the stores for children were located, and the younger boys ran straight to the toy store. Afterwards, they went to some clothing stores where both parents made sure that each of the boys got a few new outfits. They all were in use of some new clothes.

Soon enough it was lunchtime, and the unanimous decision was to get pizza, so pizza it was. As they ate their meal, Yoongi noticed that Namjoon was starting to look nervous again. The boy was trying his best to hide it by reading his book, because he really just wanted his parents to have a nice time and not be too worried.

“I’ll be in the bathroom,” said Namjoon as he asked his brothers to move out of the booth so that he could make his way towards the mens room.

Yoongi gave Seokjin that worried parent look, and he himself also proceeded to go to the mens room. The last thing he wanted was for Namjoon to feel uncomfortable, but he knew that it was going to be hard to convince the boy out of babysitting his siblings. Yoongi knew that Namjoon really wanted to show how responsible he was even if he was quite worried about it.

The bathroom was empty except for one stall that was closed, which Yoongi assumed was the one that Namjoon was in. He made sure that his voice was gentle once again because he didn’t want to startle the boy. “Namjoon, I know that you really want to show how responsible you are, and it’s not that dad and I don’t trust you. But we won’t be able to enjoy the massage if we know you’re uncomfortable. We won’t be mad if you don’t feel like babysitting your siblings in this huge place. Heck I would’ve been so scared at your age if I had to do that, so really Namjoon it’s your choice if you want to go through with this or not.”

Yoongi stopped talking because he realized that he was most likely scaring the boy more with his rambling, and waited about 30 seconds before he heard small voice through the stall.

“Appa?”

“Yes Namjoon, have you made a decision?”

“I already told you earlier that I am completely fine with this, and the only reason I’m in the bathroom right now is because Jimin kept sticking his nose in my book and I wanted to finish this chapter in peace. I’m not worried at all and like I told you, we can go to a play area where I can watch them. Hoseok can help me too. But the fact that you wouldn’t even let me be alone in the bathroom says that you clearly don’t trust me to do anything.”

“No Namjoon, dad and I do trust you. You are such a responsible young boy, I only came in because you seemed worried, that’s all.”

“Well I’m fine so could you go now?” Namjoon said with a bit of annoyance in his voice.

“Yes I’ll be going now, and we’re leaving in 10 minutes so finish your chapter before then.”

Yoongi exited the bathroom and went back to the table. He gestured for Seokjin to come over to him so they could talk quietly.

“Do you see how nervous Namjoon is? Are you sure that we should be doing this?” Yoongi asked Seokjin.

“You know that it’s going to hurt his pride if we cancel the appointment, and if he really didn’t want to do it then he would have said something earlier. Just relax a bit Yoongi.”

The younger man gave Seokjin a look to stop the conversation as he saw Namjoon come out of the bathroom in the corner of his eye. They went back to the table to start gathering the kids, putting Jimin’s dinosaur figurines back into the bag and Taehyung’s new stuffed puppy into the little cage it came in.

The family walked around the mall for a bit longer and eventually made their way up to the 6th floor, where the spa was located. They arrived in front of the place at 1:45, 15 minutes before their appointment. Yoongi and Seokjin gathered their kids into a corner where they gave them the rundown on what was to happen.

“Ok everyone, if you didn’t know already, dad and I are going to be in the spa for the next hour. Namjoon is in charge, you must listen to him and do what he says. You all are to stay together and if there are any problems, tell Namjoon and he’ll call us.”

“But I don’t have a phone,” Namjoon interjected.

Yoongi took his phone out of his pocket and placed it in Namjoon’s hands. His eyes widened with excitement. He had never had a phone to his own before, even if it was just his appa’s.

“Namjoon, if you have any problems, call Seokjin ok. He’ll have his phone on the entire time if you have any issues.”

Namjoon nodded as his parents gave each of their kids a goodbye kiss on the forehead. They both came around to Namjoon and gave him a hug and a pat on the back.

“You’ll do great bud, dad and I trust you,” said Yoongi with encouragement.

“Call us if there are any issues. Love you lots,” Seokjin blew Namjoon a kiss and he giggled a bit at his dad’s silliness.

Once the parents had entered the spa, Namjoon turned around to face his siblings. They looked at him with eager eyes as they awaited what was to happen next.

“Lets go to the play area!” said Namjoon. His siblings all ran off in joy as they went to the map to find a play area.

They ended up back in the kids area, and while his younger siblings all went into the play area to run around and climb on the various structures inside, Namjoon took a seat. He planned to read his book while looking up every few minutes to check if everyone was there.

Now Namjoon was a responsible 12 year old, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t make mistakes at times as well. While he was reading, he came upon a word that he didn’t know the meaning of. Now usually he would just wait until he gets home to look up what it means, but then he remembered that he had his appa’s phone with him. What was supposed to be a simple dictionary search turned into a game playing session as he noticed that there was a Superstar game installed on his phone.

Namjoon played this game for a good twenty minutes before he forgot that he was supposed to be keeping an eye on his siblings. He looked up figuring that they would all be there playing around, but sure enough, none of them could be found.

The boy began to panic. Where could they have gone? And why didn’t they tell him that they wanted to leave? They were supposed to stay together.

Meanwhile, Yoongi and Seokjin were busy being pampered to the max, feeling incredibly relaxed for once. Although the kids were still in the back of their mind throughout the whole experience.

“Do you think the kids are ok?” Yoongi asked Seokjin.

“Well don’t you think we would have gotten a call right now if they weren’t?”

“You’re right,” said Yoongi with a sigh. But just as he finally began to feel truly relaxed, Seokjin’s phone rang.

“Give it to me,” said Yoongi with an aggressive tone that attempted to mask his worry. Maybe it was just a call to say that everything was going just fine. But when was that ever the case.

“Hey bud, what’s up? Everything going alright?”

After he said that, Yoongi swore that he heard sniffles coming from the other line. His paternal instinct immediately became evident as he attempted to remain calm and not jump right out of his seat to go and find the crying boy.

“Please don’t be mad at me appa, I made a really stupid mistake and you nor dad are going to trust me anymore.” It was very clear at this point that Namjoon was crying.

“Why would we be mad at you Namjoon? Tell us what happened.”

“I… I.... I lost my brothers.”

“YOU DID WHAT?! NAMJOON WHERE ARE YOU NOW?!”

Seokjin was immediately startled by his husband’s tone and grabbed Yoongi’s arm in an attempt to prevent anymore yelling.

Yoongi hung up and put his hand on his mouth, painfully aware of what was happening. His worst nightmare was coming true.

“We’ve gotta go Seokjin. Pay the lady, throw on your clothes and get moving.”

It took no longer than 4 minutes for the two men to leave the spa. Seokjin didn’t even know what was happening that had caused Yoongi to yell and leave in a panic.
“Yoongi, what’s going on here? Is somebody injured?”

“HE LOST THE FUCKING KIDS YOU IDIOT!” Yoongi yelled and pulled out Seokjin’s phone.

“Ok first of all, we need to stay calm, and second, don’t swear in public. Can you give me the phone so we can figure out where Namjoon is at least? I don’t want you speaking to him because your yelling has probably already scared the boy enough.”

Knowing that what Seokjin said was right, he passed the phone to its owner. Seokjin dialed Namjoon, or rather dialed Yoongi’s phone that was Namjoon’s for the past 30 minutes.

“Hey bud, its dad. Appa and I aren’t mad at you ok. Can you tell us where you are and exactly what happened?”

Namjoon tearfully explained that he had gotten distracted with the phone and forgotten to check on his brothers, and that he was currently by the play area. Seokjin felt terrible, he knew that while Namjoon was a responsible kid, like anyone his age he wanted to have some fun too. If only Seokjin would have listened to Yoongi’s worries about this whole plan.

The two men made their way to the play area, where at one of the tables sat Namjoon, who was sniffling as he mindlessly tapped at something on the phone in front of him. Unable to stop himself, Seokjin ran up to the boy and pulled him into a hug. Almost immediately, the boy started to sob in his arms.

“I’m really sorry dad, I know you trusted me and I know you’re mad at me even if you say you’re not. You can take away my computer privileges if you want, I don’t deserve them anyway.” Namjoon continued to cry into Seokjin’s arms, even though it was extremely embarrassing for him.

“Namjoon, look at me,” said Seokjin with a voice that was gentle. Namjoon looked up with watery eyes. “Appa and I are just glad that you are safe. And I’m sure the boys didn’t stray too far away. We can go to the service desk and I’m sure they will be able to find them. When you’re ready, let's get up and go find them.”

Namjoon nodded and preceded to get up, gathering his things. He held Seokjin’s hand, even though he felt like a little kid for doing so. The secure feeling of holding his father’s hand that was larger than his beat out any potential embarrassment that could arise from the situation.

Yoongi, who was standing against a pole the whole time regretting his yelling, opened his arms wide for his son when the pair approached him. Namjoon didn’t seem to want to speak with his appa though, and Yoongi decided it was better not to push. The important thing right now was for them to find the rest of their kids.

The three walked over to the nearest service desk to ask if they had seen four boys running around the mall by themselves. The polite lady told them to make their way down to the entrance of the Lotte World Tower, where there had been a report of four kids trying to go up the tower without their parents.

It took a good 20 minutes to reach the service desk that was found by the elevators leading up to the observatory at the top of the tower. From there Seokjin, Yoongi and Namjoon were led into a small back room, where sure enough the four missing boys sat, their faces full of remorse.

Jimin, Taehyung and Jungkook all ran straight into their fathers’ arms. They all started crying, while Jimin and Taehyung attempted to explain what happened.

But still sitting in the back of the room quietly was Hoseok. For good reason though, because he was the one who had initiated this whole thing, much to his current dismay.

Yoongi took notice of this and went over to the boy, who was startled by his appa’s small touch on his shoulder.

“Can you tell me what happened?” Yoongi asked, trying not to seem too angry.

Hoseok sat there quietly, not wanting to tell the truth that was going to have to come out eventually.

“Alright then. I think everyone is tired and needs to go home. Lets go.” The exhaustion in Yoongi’s voice could be heard as he pulled Hoseok up. He was mad at him, and very much knew that the boy had initiated the whole thing, but this wasn’t the time to press about it.

The family all got up, grabbed their belongings, and made their way to the car. Seokjin and Yoongi both profusely thanked the employees for not letting the boys go any farther than they did.

The car ride home was painfully quiet. Seokjin was driving, the three youngest boys were sleeping, Hoseok was fidgeting with his hands, and Namjoon was avoiding Yoongi’s gaze, because the boy was still startled by Yoongi yelling at him earlier.

After arriving home safely, both parents called everyone to the living room. There were still some questions that needed to be answered about the wild events of that day.

“Before we start,” said Seokjin calmly, “we would just like to let everyone know that no one is in trouble right now. So if everyone could tell us exactly what happened that would be excellent.”

“It was my idea,” Hoseok interjected all of a sudden. “I knew that everyone wanted to go up the tower, and once Namjoon looked away for a while I said we should go. I knew that we didn’t have enough money to go up there, and the main intention of it was to get Namjoon in trouble. I’m sorry, I won’t do again.”

Even though Hoseok was definitely not innocent by any means, it was hard not to feel bad for the boy as tears welled up in his eyes.

“Hoseok!” said Seokjin with an aggressive tone. “You knew that was against the rules. And why did you want to get Namjoon in trouble? Did he say something to you?”

“No he didn’t say anything. I was just jealous because you and appa never give me any responsibility ever. I wanted to help Namjoon watch our brothers but you would have just said no so I didn’t say anything. It’s really stupid, I know.”

Hoseok continued to stare at the floor completely aware of his wrongdoings. He fought back every urge to cry but he couldn’t stop himself. He would never get the responsibility he wanted after this.

Figuring out that this was a Hoseok and Namjoon issue, Yoongi told the three younger boys to go to their rooms for a little while as they worked this out.

Yoongi went over to Hoseok with a tissue and began to wipe the tears away from his eyes. He didn’t realize that the boy felt like this, but he too was soon going to turn 12, and there were many instances where Hoseok may have felt babied.

“Hoseok, what you did was wrong. But the fact that you acknowledged that it is wrong shows that you are becoming more responsible. And in the future, please tell dad and I if something is wrong alright?” Hoseok nodded.

“Am I still in trouble?”

“Yes you are. No computer for two weeks. And can you apologize to Namjoon please?”

“Sorry Namjoon-hyung,” Hoseok muttered quietly before grabbing a tissue to wipe away his remaining tears.
“Its ok,” said Namjoon who tried to move further away as Yoongi came closer to him, Seokjin giving Hoseok a hug before taking the younger boy to his room.

“Appa, why did you yell at me if you weren’t mad at me? Can you just tell me how you really felt at that moment?”

“I was mad at you, I’m not going to lie. But I’m not mad anymore, and I’m sorry for yelling. It was wrong, and I should be setting a good example for my kids. But you won’t be using the computer for a week, understood?”

Namjoon scooted over towards his appa and fell into his embrace, feeling the love radiating from the older’s body.

“I understand. Can I stay like this for a little while?”

“Sure bud. For as long as you want.”

And sure enough, Namjoon stayed there for a long time, feeling loved, safe and secure. Not much later, Seokjin came out and joined them, and both parents were glad that all their kids were safe and sound. A massage could never be as relaxing as this.