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Puppy with Cat Ears

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Being an idol is harder than some people may think (with all the bullshit haters can say on social medias, they surely don’t have any idea of how hard it is or they would shut their mouth and get a job). However, Kim Mingyu struggles with something most idols don’t even know about. Even the other Seventeen members aren’t aware of his problem, they probably never heard about it.

         That’s about to change, but not in the way Mingyu would have liked it to.

         “Hyungs, I’m tired,” he whines as he sits in the car bringing them back to their dorms.

         “I know,” Joshua smiles at him, soft and kind. “We’ll be home soon.”

         Nothing wrong with that. It’s actually Jeonghan who starts the whole thing:

         “Just imagine it. Think about being in your bed, under your blankets and wearing comfortable clothes, like… a big sweater that gives you these cute paws. Or a hoodie, so you can hide your face and be completely wrapped in warmth.”

         Mingyu’s breath stops for a moment before he remembers humans can’t live without oxygen and forces himself to inspire, expire and repeat. It sounds really good, maybe a bit too much. That’s the problem.

         “Yeah, cuddling with all your plushies,” Junhui laughs.

         He loves Junhui’s laugh. Junhui never sounds like he’s laughing at him, making fun of him, it’s more like laughing with him. The boy’s mind is clean of any malicious thoughts and that’s one of the reasons why, without being that close, Mingyu appreciates him and would definitely spend at least a century or two – he’s barely exaggerating – crying in a corner if Junhui ever decided to leave them.

         Breathing while focusing on not doing the weird thing he still doesn’t understand is becoming harder and harder. Mingyu closes his eyes and hopes they’ll be home soon.

 

Jeonghan seems to be in one of his “problematic” – Mingyu isn’t sure it’s the best word to describe it, it’s mostly just his hyung being in the mood to fool around and tease the other members – nights. He takes one of the plastic bags with the fansite’s stuff, searches in it and puts it aside, trying to find something that isn’t in this one. Mingyu doesn’t give him much attention, struggling to keep his eyes open and his mind focused on not going there.

         Then, Jeonghan grins and puts the headband with black cat ears on his head, throwing everything by the window.

         “Aw, look at our adorable kitten,” he says in a voice Mingyu often heard from their Carats when one of the boys had to do aegyo. “Our baby is the cutest, isn’t he?”

         Seungcheol sighs, but he’s smiling. It’s a little smile though, not a big, proud grin like the one on Jeonghan’s face.

         “Stop teasing the kid, Hannie. He said he was tired, let him go to bed.”

         “He’s not protesting though,” Jeonghan protests and Mingyu has no idea when his hyung put his arms around his waist, but they’re there and he doesn’t want them to move. “Angel is so obedient for me, am I right?”

         At this point, Mingyu doesn’t know if Jeonghan really only does it to be annoying or if he knows about the thing. He starts panicking, which only makes him go further in the place he wants to avoid when he’s not alone.

         “Yes.”

         Fuck. When Mingyu doesn’t feel so tired he could find the floor comfortable enough for a nap (spoiler: it really isn’t and his back hurt like a bitch when he tried it), he doesn’t react like that. An embarrassed blush, probably. Asking Jeonghan to stop or bringing up any weird things he did earlier that day, maybe. Playing along, except that he’s being serious and not playful? Nope, never.

         Even if he doubts he’s that lucky, Mingyu hopes no one noticed. Of course, everyone did and they’re all staring at him. It’s too late to pretend he was only joking, his strangled voice and the way he leaned against Jeonghan without even realizing it – now that he does, he quickly takes a step back and whines at the loss of human contact and warmth – make it pretty obvious he was being serious.

         “Mingyu?”

         Soonyoung’s voice is small and worried. He shouldn’t worry about Mingyu, everything is fine – except it’s not – and he’s not sick, but being reminded that Soonyoung cares makes him feel warm even if he doesn’t have Jeonghan’s arms wrapped around him anymore.

         When he tries to tell him all of that, it’s harder than it should be. Mingyu trips on his words like he trips on his own feet when he walks or tries to learn a new choreography, he gets confused and has to start over. It’s as humiliating as it’s frustrating and his distress is evident.

         “Hey, calm down, it’s okay,” Seokmin tries as he puts his arm on Mingyu’s shoulder. “Breathe, Gyu.”

         Mingyu puts his forehead against his friend’s and breathes. It’s easy, he can do that. Breathing is good. He’s being good. He can do that.

         He thinks someone’s calling him, but he’s not sure. His ears are weird, it’s like being underwater. Everything became too complicated for him, too hard to understand. He’s leaving.

         “Kitten?” Junhui suddenly says and takes Mingyu’s hand. “Can you hear us?”

         Talking is too tiring. Mingyu is tired. It’s not a good match, so he only nods and closes his eyes. He wants to sleep.

         Junhui softly pets his hair.

         “Okay, kitty. How are you feeling?”

         Mingyu really doesn’t want to talk, but he also doesn’t want to make his friend angry. He whimpers, not knowing how to react, not knowing what to say.

         Junhui keeps petting his hair and takes his hand, playing with his fingers.

         “You don’t want to talk. That’s okay, we’ll work on that later.”

         “What the fuck, Junhui,” Minghao says what’s on everyone’s mind. “What’s… that.”

         The other Chinese hesitates and lets go of Mingyu’s hand. With how fast he takes it back when Mingyu whines, he probably didn’t do it on purpose.

         “I don’t really know? We need Mingyu to tell us, but he’s not ready to talk yet… I’m sure he’ll explain everything when he’ll be back.”

         “Back? But he’s just there.”

         “Not exactly…”

 

Mingyu blinks and oh, oh fuck. That wasn’t supposed to happen, not like that, not with them. This time, he’s the one who lets go of Junhui’s hand. He needs to leave, he needs to go to NCT’s dorms. Even if it’s late, even if Jaehyun is probably sleeping, he knows he can, they all promised and said it was okay.

         With Jeonghan jumping on him, Mingyu didn’t have time to get rid of his shoes. He takes his jacket and his keys.

         “Mingyu, wait!” Junhui follows him. “Please don’t leave, it’s okay! There’s nothing wrong with what happened, just… just let us know what it was and what we can do!”

         “It’s not okay, everything’s wrong and there’s nothing you guys can do. I probably won’t be back tonight, don’t search for me.”

         Tomorrow – well, it’s now today – is a free day for them, a perfect occasion for Mingyu to evacuate all the stress and negative feelings he accumulated while they were practicing and recording all week. It will also help him avoid the other members since he won’t have to be back for any recording, dance practice or anything. For once, he guesses he can say he’s a bit lucky.

         (Only a bit though. Luck wouldn’t have let him be like that in front of them.)

         He closes the door behind him and runs. No one follows him, he just feels like running. When his mind gets too messy for him, he runs. His tired legs protest, but he ignores the pain. Running is simple.

         Even as an idol used to dance choreographies as hard as Soonyoung’s, Mingyu gets tired, too much to keep running. It doesn’t matter, NCT’s dorm is close now. Phone in his hand, he searches for Jaehyun’s name in his contacts. He could text him, but he needs to hear his voice. So, even if he risks waking up whoever is Jaehyun’s roommate, he calls his friend. It doesn’t take him long before hearing Jaehyun’s “you just woke me up but I’m willing to stay up if it can help you feel better” voice.

         “Gyu?”

         “Yeah. Sorry for bothering you.”

         “Nonsense, you’re not.”

         Mingyu can hear him getting out of bed.

         “I have fluffy blankets and I’m making hot cocoa.”

         “I love you.”

         “No homo,” Jaehyun laughs, which is ironic since Mingyu’s pretty sure there’s something going on between him and Taeyong, NCT’s leader.

         When Mingyu opens the door, said leader welcomes him. He looks confused and as tired as him, but he doesn’t say anything and just lets him in. It’s not the first time Mingyu comes in the middle of the night and it won’t be the last.

         “Sorry. I tried to stop him,” Jaehyun apologizes in the background.

         Not that Mingyu minds the other’s presence. It’s NCT’s dorm, Taeyong has every right to be there and do whatever he wants.

         Mingyu’s expression must be sad as hell since Taeyong gently leads him to the couch and plays with his hair.

         “Bad night?”

         “They know,” he simply says.

         Jaehyun makes a noise of understatement and “oh shit that’s bad” while Taeyong gets up and goes in the kitchen. It takes him a few seconds to find a white bag. Without a word, he puts pastel marshmallows in three mugs before coming back to the others, handing Mingyu the mug Jaehyun bought him after he realized hot cocoa helped his friend when he was feeling upset or in there.

         “Netflix?”

         “And cuddles.”

         Jaehyun chooses a movie and Taeyong goes upstairs, coming back with one of Johnny’s hoodies, one that is too big even for NCT’s giant.

         “I washed it before you came.”

         That explains the smell, fresh and comforting. Mingyu doesn’t even bother leaving the room to change. After all, it’s not like he’s the first shirtless boy the others ever saw, being a male idol makes you used to shirtless – or naked, if you live with someone like Wen Junhui – men walking around.

         “You’ll be fine?” Jaehyun asks, but not to him.

         Taeyong rolls his eyes.

         “Yeah, of course. I wouldn’t have offered to stay if I thought there was a chance I’d go in that space too.”

         “You forced your presence more than you offered it.”

         Taeyong playfully slaps Jaehyun’s arm.

         “Do you want me to leave? I could go back to bed, get some beauty sleep y’know.”

         “Not that you need it.”

         They’re adorable and Mingyu would be happy for his friend, but now isn’t the time for flirting and he feels left out.

         “Jae.”

         Three seconds later, he’s squished between Jaehyun and Taeyong, head against the first one’s chest and the latter almost squeezing him to death. There’s a movie playing in front of them and he’s under what must be one of the fluffiest blankets in the whole universe, a mug full of hot cocoa with pastel marshmallows in his hands.

         He doesn’t think about what’ll happen when he’ll have to go back to his group. For now, he lets go.

 

“Boys, we need to talk.”

         “That’s an understatement,” Seungkwan comments. “I’m still confused about what happened.”

         Seungcheol glares at him and the blonde shuts up.

         “Junhui, we can’t wait for Mingyu to come back. He won’t say anything anyway, we have to figure this out by ourselves.”

         “It doesn’t surprise me that much,” Vernon stops him. “Hey, don’t look at me like that! It’s not like something like this never happened before.”

         “I get what you mean… Mingyu likes when I call him pup,” Minghao frowns. “I never really thought about it.”

         “And he loves being the little spoon,” Chan adds. “Even if he’s so big.”

         “Talking about him being big, he often tries to seem smaller?” Soonyoung sounds like it’s a question more than a statement. “I don’t even think he does it on purpose… he’s probably not aware of it.”

         “He’s willing to do everything I ask him to when I say he’s cute. Once, I called him a good boy and he tripped,” Jihoon remembers. “It was weird, but I assumed it was because he was surprised or a bit offended.”

         “There’s nothing wrong with Mingyu tripping.”

         “He was sitting on the couch.”

         Chan can’t argue about it being weird, even for someone as clumsy as Mingyu.

         Joshua sits on the floor, ripping off a paper sheet from Jihoon’s notebook.

         “Alright. For now, we have the pet names and by pet names, I really mean pet names. Puppy, kitten… the cute ones, but also other pet names without anything related to animals.”

         “As long as it’s cute and sweet. There’s also his reaction when we say he’s cute or when we praise him,” Wonwoo adds, taking the pen from Joshua’s hands to write it down himself.

         “And the clothes! Big hoodies, sweater paws, anything soft. Fluffy blankets, pastel colours, childish patterns…”

         “Childish,” Junhui repeats. “I’d say it’s something like age play, without being age play.”

         “I thought that stuff was sexual? Mingyu never got hard because of that, though.”

         “Seungkwan, you can’t just say things like that!” Jeonghan jumps over the couch, steps on Vernon’s feet and puts his hands over Chan’s ears. He’s too late, but better late than never.

         “Wikipedia says it doesn’t have to be sexual,” Seokmin scrolls down a bit. “If I try to find more about non sexual age play on Google, all I get is Archive of our Own links and I’m too scared to read any of those.”

         “You should be,” Minghao chuckles before showing them his phone. “Apparently, it’s called C-G-L-R-E and not a single one of these websites tells me what these letters stand fore. It’s the non sexual type of age play.”

         A few moments later, they delete their browser history and will never see horses the same way they used to.

         “Age play, pet play and sub space,” Joshua reads. “With Mingyu, nothing is sexual.”

         “It still doesn’t tell us how to deal with that. Junhui, you’re the one who understood how to get Mingyu’s attention when he… he did the thing, I don’t know how to call it,” Seungcheol groans, frustrated.

         One of his boys felt so uncomfortable he left and, as Seventeen’s leader, Seungcheol is anything but happy about it.

         “It’s not my first time dealing with that stuff, but that’s not the problem. For now, we should try to get our Mingyu back.”

 

Turns out it’s easier said than done. You’d think it’s easy to find a handsome 6’something man running in the middle of the night, but nope.

         (Actually, it doesn’t even sound easy. Everyone is asleep, like they should be, so no one can tell them about seeing someone fitting their description.)

         “He’s not at McDonald's.”

         “Why the fuck would he be at McDonald's? No, forget that. Just… keep searching, and please, not with your stomach.”

         At least, Seokmin has the decency to look ashamed.

         When he leaves, Seungcheol hides his face in his hands and takes a deep breathe. Someone needs to stay in the apartment so Mingyu won’t be alone if he comes back. He hates being stuck inside with the silence and his thoughts, all far from positive, but someone had to do it and, as the leader, he had to be this someone.

         (He lost the rock-paper-scissors games they played to pick a member.)

         Joshua is the first to come back. A Carat noticed him and he was forced to run back to their dorms – after making sure the fan wasn’t following him anymore, of course – which was the reason for his scowl and the ice cream in his hands.

         “Get a bowl, don’t eat it like that.”

         “Mingyu bought it with my money, I’ll eat it like I want to. Any news?”

         Seeing Seungcheol shaking his head, Joshua stabs the ice cream with his spoon.

         “I really don’t want to call anyone out of the group, but it seems like I don’t have the choice… Mingyu shouldn’t be outside on his own, especially not when it’s so late. It’s harder to be seen by fans, but he’s so clumsy I wouldn’t be surprised if something bad happens.”

         Joshua freeze, spoon half way to his mouth. He blinks and drops the ice cream.

         “Out of the group, Cheol! He’s probably with a friend, call Minghao or Seokmin!”

         “He’s not with them,” Seungcheol replies before understanding what the other means. “Oh, the 97 liners group chat?”

         “Yes! I don’t know how many friends Mingyu has – I swear this boy is trying to befriend the whole kpop industry – but he seems pretty close with the group chat’s members. Wait, I think I have Taehyung-sunbaenim’s number somewhere!”

         “You don’t need to, we know where Mingyu is. Minghao already thought about it, he’s on his way to NCT’s dorm.”

 

When Mingyu steps in the apartment, everyone else is already there and it’s fucking awkward. You’d think an idol would be used to people staring at them, but Mingyu still wants to jump by the window and run away.

         “For fuck sake, this really isn’t that big of a deal, stop being so tense!”

         “Minghao, watch your fuckin’ language, the baby is here!” Jeonghan turns his head so fast Mingyu can almost hear his neck snap. “Chan, why the fuck are you still there? It’s way past your bedtime.”

         “Now is not the time,” Seungcheol sounds like he’s about to kill everyone with his bare hands and Mingyu would be glad to let him do so. “Minghao’s right, it’s nothing deep. If you want to be babied, then so be it, we’ll baby you. It’s not like Jeonghan doesn’t already treat half of you like you were his own children.”

         “We only have to review our lyrics tomorrow and we already did that tod– yesterday. Let’s try some things and we’ll see if it works. If not… we’ll talk about it when it’ll fail.”

         Wonwoo’s suggestion seems to satisfy everyone, Junhui being the most excited about the idea. After a few games of rock-paper-scissors, they finally have some kind of schedule: they’ll take turns by line from youngest to oldest since Chan won. Mingyu tries to keep a blank face, but it’s hard to not blush at the idea that his friends are literally fighting – it’s true, sweet innocent Junhui almost choked Seungkwan to death – to get to spend time cuddling with him.

         “Wonderful. Now, I’m going to bed, good night.”

         (Jihoon may seem uninterested, but he was the one yelling the loudest when they were arguing about who would go first. He really is an adorable teddy bear, not that Mingyu will ever say it out loud.)

 

Mingyu is still asleep when Chan joins him in his bed. Being the maknae, Chan is the little spoon most of the nights he spends with one of his hyungs. Now is the perfect occasion to change that.

         After a game of rock-paper-scissors, it was decided the members would take turns at taking care of Mingyu by lines, from the youngest to oldest. For once, Chan gets to be first.

         “What,” Mingyu mumbles in his pillow when the maknae moves too much and wakes him up.

         “Ah, I didn’t mean to wake you up, I’m really sorry. Go back to sleep, Mingyu.”

         There’s something nice about calling his hyung by his name without using any honorifics. Despite being half asleep, Mingyu notices it and the mood changes. He gets all soft, pliant in Chan’s arms, curling up so he’s smaller than he really is.

         “M’kay. Love you.”

         “Love you too, Mingyu.”

         Mingyu closes his eyes and falls asleep. Chan doesn’t. Not because he’s uncomfortable, far from it! Mingyu’s the perfect teddy bear, he fits perfectly in Chan’s arms despite the height difference – which doesn’t matter much now that they’re laying down – and the younger would only need a few seconds to go back to sleep. However, he doesn’t want to, not yet. He squeezes a bit, smiling when Mingyu curls around the arms on his stomach.

         Chan gets an arm out of his friend’s embrace and pets his hair. Mingyu has a thing for that, they all know it. Now that they’re free to touch his hair as much as they want to, he won’t let this opportunity go. Despite being asleep, the tallest of the two sighs happily and Chan’s heart does this weird thing.

         Miscommunication is a bitch and Chan is happy everything is well. He doesn’t know why Mingyu was too scared to talk to them – come on, he’s asking for cuddles and pet names, Chan is always ready to show his older brothers how much he loves and appreciates them – and he won’t ask. If Mingyu wants to talk, he’ll talk.

         For now, they’ll stay there. Without anything to bother them, it’s peaceful. Once Mingyu will be back to “normal”, Chan will ask him if they can sleep like that more often. He likes to have him in his arms and, as creepy as it sounds, it’s nice to watch Mingyu sleep, a cheek adorably squished against the pillow.

         Chan wouldn’t mind waking up to this view every morning.

 

Mingyu wakes up a second time, alone. That’s not good, that’s not what he wants, he doesn’t want to be alone.

         “Oh, Mingyu! It’s our turn now.”

         Talking is too difficult for him, who just woke up and feels a bit dizzy. He stares at Seungkwan and Vernon without moving. The blankets are too comfortable, he doesn’t want to leave, but he also doesn’t want to be alone.

         Vernon understands before Seungkwan.

         “Baby Gyu, we have a surprise for you. Do you want it?”

         He nods. Vernon shows him a plastic bag.

         “You’ll have it, but only if you get out of bed. Can you do that for us?”

         Mingyu can do that. He needs help to dress up though, head stuck in his shirt’s collar. Seungkwan helps him, patting his head once he’s done.

         “Good job, baby Gyu. We’ll give you your surprise now.”

         Bear.

         Their surprise… Mingyu loves it. He remembers seeing the cute bear ears somewhere in a shop, but none of the members bought them that day.

         “I saw how you looked at these and, with what happened yesterday, I thought you’d like them…”

         “He made me go with him to the shop, you’re lucky it was close to the apartment,” Vernon laughs before stepping closer to Mingyu so he can put the ears on him.

         Unlike the cat ears, these one are like hair clips. He has to sit on the bed so Vernon can reach the top of his head and it takes a moment before they’re finally straight and stop falling when Mingyu moves.

         “The hyungs are making breakfast, we still have some time to ourselves. You seem sleepy, let’s go sit on the couch.”

         They tell him before doing anything – “I’m going to hold your hand, do you want that?” – and he appreciates that. His brain is still asleep, too slow to fully understand what’s going on. Seungkwan and Vernon seem to plan to wake him up with cuddles and that’s honestly one of the best things that could happen to him in a day.

         This one just started and he already has been cuddled twice (well, once and the second time to come). He should have talked to his friends sooner, he honestly doesn’t know how he could have thought they would make fun of him. His life without them seems so far away, it’s weird to think about being unable to trust them for something as silly as this. He’d trust them with his life, to be honest.

         Which is why he agreed to do this. It took Jaehyun months before Mingyu was comfortable enough to slip into this space with him, but that time wasn’t needed with Seventeen. He doesn’t have any problem with being so vulnerable in their presence.

         Having them taking care of him sounds wonderful and he loves the thought that it’s (possibly) not a one time thing. He hopes everything will go well, he want this to happen more than once.

         He sits on the couch and lets his two friends wrap themselves around him.

 

“You were supposed to wake him up, not make him fall asleep again.”

         “Don’t worry about that, he’s not sleeping. Right, baby Gyu? Show Seokmin you’re awake.”

         Mingyu opens his eyes and yawns, head still on Vernon’s shoulder. Minghao touches the bear ears.

         “That’s cute. You’re cuter, pup.”

         Minghao is always soft, but somehow, he manages to be even softer when he kisses Mingyu’s nose. When he steps back, Mingyu gets on his feet and follows him. He likes when they kiss his nose, he wants more.

         Seokmin gives him more. A kiss on the nose, two on his forehead, another one on the nose. He’s not sleepy anymore.

         “Time to dress up, pup,” the oldest of the three announces, taking his hand as they walk to the room he shares with Jihoon. “Want to choose your clothes?”

         It’s too much responsibility for him. He shakes his head and Minghao’s smile makes everything worth it.

         “Awesome! You have that cute hoodie, but you never wear it. It’s a shame, red suits you.”

         Mingyu lets Minghao choose for him. Seokmin stays with him, drawing patterns on the back of his hand. A sun, a heart, a star, cute things. He raises Mingyu’s hand, turns it to see the palm and kisses it before going back to his drawings as if nothing happened.

         Mingyu likes the clothes Minghao chose him, but the hoodie is problematic. He doesn’t know how to put it on without making the bear ears fall. He keeps his eyes on the floor, hoodie in his hands.

         “Pup, is there something wrong? Are you okay?”

         “One question at a time, Seokmin.”

         Minghao understands that more than one question could get confusing. He’s good at understanding Mingyu and the latter is glad to know this hadn’t changed, even when he’s in this “Gyu space”.

         “What’s wrong, pup?”

         He points at his bear ears.

         “It’s okay. We’ll put them back on your head when you’ll have your hoodie on. Okay, pup?”

         He nods once and Seokmin’s hands are in his hair. Two minutes later, he has both his hoodie and his ears on and he’s out of the room.

         “Do you like the clothes, pup?”

         He smiles at Minghao and kisses his cheeks as a silent, but sincere thank you. Seokmin gets one too, for the drawings, the kisses and the help with the ears. Of course, Mingyu likes every member of Seventeen and he would feel like a part of him is missing without one of them, but at the moment, he doesn’t think about anyone who isn’t Seokmin or Minghao. The others are still in his mind, just overshadowed by the other 97 liners.

         He giggles when he gets another kiss on the nose. He can feel Vernon’s eyes on him, but it’s not intimidating and Seokmin’s next kiss attack distracts him. Standing in the middle of the hallway, fingers entwined with Minghao’s, Seokmin’s lips on his face, big boy in an even bigger hoodie, he feels at home.

 

Saying that Junhui is proud of the breakfast he cooked would be an understatement. A smile as big as possible on his face, he bounces on his feet, clearly excited about the idea of making Mingyu eat his food. Junhui may be one of the “oldest yet youngest” members of the group, but it doesn’t stop him from being more than good at taking care of the others.

         “Hi, kitten.”

         Wonwoo hands him the headband with black cat ears and pastel pink ribbons, the one that started everything. Mingyu accepts to get rid of the bear ears, getting a new accessory as soon as the other is on the counter. Soonyoung leads him to a chair between Wonwoo and Jihoon so he can face him and Junhui.

         Apparently, the others ate before or will eat after so they can have their moment with Mingyu. Some of them thought it was unfair since they have the opportunity to feed him, but no one argued, knowing they would have their chance soon.

         It’s quite late in the morning and lunch would be more appropriated than breakfast. However, breakfast is breakfast and Junhui made pancakes, the recipe from the book they bought on one of their trips to America. They have maple syrup – real one, from Canada, not the sad imitation that doesn’t taste half as good – and melted chocolate. If it weren’t for their idol lifestyle, they’d probably have melted caramel and marshmallows too. Since he’s sitting and can’t reach Junhui’s face, Mingyu kisses his arm instead. When Soonyoung whines about how he didn’t get anything, Mingyu leans towards him and opens his mouth.

         (So they can feed him, of course. Don’t get any weird ideas, silly!)

         “There you go, pumpkin.”

         Soonyoung gives him a mouthful of a pancake dipped in maple syrup and melted chocolate, but what makes him smile is the nickname.

         “How are the pum– pancakes, doll?”

         How to answer without talking? Mingyu smiles and gives him the thumbs-up. Junhui isn’t stupid, he should get the message.

         He gets it and leaves a kiss on the top of his head before sitting down next to Soonyoung, who raises his fork for Mingyu again.

         “Hey, you already fed him! It’s my turn now,” Jihoon protests.

         “Guys, let’s not fight in front of the baby, okay? Jihoon will go after Soonyoung, Junhui will be next and I’ll be the last. Are you okay with that, kitten?”

         Mingyu turns so he can face Jihoon, which is as close to a “yes” as they’ll get. They all take turns feeding him until he’s full. He manages to get a few more bites, but they know him as much as they know themselves – being his best friend, Wonwoo probably knows him more than he knows himself – and stops before he makes himself sick by eating too much food.

         Out of habit, he follows the others to wash the dishes. Soonyoung stops him, laughing.

         “Oh, not you, pumpkin! You’re always doing so much for us, always cleaning our mess and cooking lots of food. Now is the perfect time to rest, go wait for us on the couch.”

         The couch is great, but it gets obvious it’s too small to fit the five of them so they move to the floor. Mingyu steps on Jihoon’s foot and Wonwoo accidently slaps Junhui, a big mess that makes them laugh. No one is seriously hurt and Wonwoo’s expression when he realizes what he has done is hilarious.

         “Be careful, we can’t hurt ourselves so close to our comeback! Think about our Carats and their poor hearts,” Soonyoung warns them, trying to make Junhui sit properly even if the older boy suddenly goes as limp as one of those weird cats when you pick them up.

         “Don’t be so serious, Soonyoung, it’s not like you,” the childish boy happily says, running his fingers through Mingyu’s hair with special care to make sure he doesn’t touch the cat headband. “We’re just having fun.”

         “You can have fun while still being careful,” the choreographer protests weakly, distracted by the reason of his presence. “We’re supposed to take care of him, it won’t do him good if one of us hurts himself…”

         “Mingyu seems pretty okay for now. Come on, we even made him laugh!”

         “I just, I’m just a bit nervous, I guess. I really don’t want to accidently hurt him or make him more stressed than the whole mess that happened yesterday already made him.”

         Soonyoung’s blush is adorable. Probably upset that Soonyoung has Mingyu’s attention, Jihoon pinches their baby’s cheek, earning giggles and red cheeks (not only from the pinching). Wonwoo seems satisfied with watching them, ready to step in if Mingyu gets uncomfortable.

It’s funny how small they all make Mingyu feel, even with Jihoon by his side.

 

After breakfast, Mingyu expects Seungcheol, Jeonghan and Joshua to jump on him as soon as the others were done with him. That’s what happened with everyone else and, despite being Seventeen’s oldest members, they aren’t the most patient ones.

         At the end of the afternoon, he’s still waiting for them and nothing happened yet. He can’t help but think about what he did with the others. What if the hyungs got offended by something? Maybe they just thought about it and decided to not participate anymore. Mingyu still wants to know what he did wrong so he can apologize and gets his hugs and pet names.

         Something tells him Jeonghan is really good at giving pet names and his curiosity is dying to know what will be his.

         “Is anything wrong, pup?”

         Seokmin’s smile makes him feel a bit better. He’s still upset, but not enough to not smile back (Seokmin’s smiles always do that).

         “Hyungs.”

         With this word being the only one he has in mind, it’s easier to talk and say it. Seokmin doesn’t get it and asks how the hyungs made him so upset, but that question needs an answer with too many words and Mingyu frowns.

         “Don’t make that face, pup! I’m sure they’ll be there soon. Let’s go eat dinner, okay?”

         Technically, it’s not Seokmin’s turn so he’s not supposed to baby Mingyu, but that’s the only way to make him think about something else and Seokmin isn’t one to leave a friend sad when he can change that. It’s for Mingyu’s sake anyway, the others will understand.

         Dinner goes well, but Seungcheol, Jeonghan and Joshua don’t do anything except welcoming him when he sat down. He touches his cat ears, hesitating. Maybe they don’t make him cute enough and that’s why they’re not taking care of him, maybe he should get them off.

         “Stop playing with it or it’ll fall off,” Jeonghan finally talks to him, but Mingyu isn’t sure he likes it since it’s to scold him.

         “If you’re going to ignore him for the rest of the day, just say it and we’ll take your turn,” Jihoon literally growls.

         Joshua raises an eyebrow.

         “We aren’t ignoring him, Jihoonie,” he sounds genuinely confused, like he has no idea what the other is talking about. “We’re just saving our moment for bedtime. We planned to read him a bedtime story…”

         He’s about to add something, but Mingyu’s relief expresses itself with a “oh” when he finally understands they weren’t ignoring him. Seungcheol gives him a worried look with a touch of “whoops we kind of fucked up and now I feel guilty”.

         “I’m sorry, baby. We should have talked to you.”

         Vernon gets up to put his plate in the sink and hugs his baby Gyu before leaving the kitchen, probably to go in his room to listen to some music for the rest of the evening. Now that he can stop stressing about having done something wrong, Mingyu finishes his meal and quickly showers. He can’t wait to see what the hyungs have planned for him.

         “Ready to go to bed, sweet pea?”

         Joshua ends his question with something in English and Mingyu doesn’t fully understands, but “sweet” is nice and he guesses it’s a nickname. Even if he doesn’t know what is a “sweet pea”, Joshua’s fond tone is enough to satisfy his need to be loved.

         “Follow us, angel.”

         It’s weird when Seventeen’s angel calls someone else an angel, but it’s a good kind of weird.

         Seungcheol already put Mingyu’s plushies under the blankets. He counts them to make sure no one is missing – they’re like his babies – and sits against the pillows once he’s finished.

         “Before we start the story, can we talk a bit? We need to make sure everything went well.”

         “Yes.”

         He’s comfortable and his heart is warm. He’s okay with a small talk.

         “How was it?”

         “Good,” Mingyu hesitates before choosing to stop at that. Seungcheol’s sixth sense – the leader one – wakes up.

         “Baby boy, we need to know. No one will get mad at you.”

         He plays with his sleeves, trying to avoid the conversation. It’s impossible.

         “You didn’t want me,” he whispers, ashamed.

         “Oh, buttercup, of course we want you! Is that what you thought because we didn’t take care of you as soon as the others were done?”

         Like Seungcheol promised, Jeonghan doesn’t sound mad, not at all. Somehow, it doesn’t help Mingyu. Thinking such a thing is dumb and seeing how comprehensive and nice the others are only make him feel guilty.

         “Don’t cry, shh.” Joshua wipes a tear, making sure it doesn’t have a sibling following it. “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding, darling.”

         The silence doesn’t last long enough to become awkward.

         “Okay, that’s enough for tonight. We’ll talk later, darling. Joshuji, can you go get the book, please?”

         “You were supposed to bring it with you,” Seungcheol frowns.

         Jeonghan’s embarrassed laugh is adorable and they all forgive him for forgetting it. Mingyu falls asleep after three pages, but he’s still conscious enough to feel the kisses on his forehead before the three devils leave.

         God, he loves his friends.