Actions

Work Header

Pink Bird Houses

Chapter Text

           “Can’t remember what size he said to get…really should’ve written it down…maybe if I…I mean, this one looks right, but…”  To an outside perspective, there really wasn’t much of a difference in the two nails.  One was slightly longer, but their width was the same, but one’s head was flat while the other was round.  It would look more like a screw once inserted, and that’s how you finally remembered that wasn’t the one your dad wanted.  You dumped the unwanted nail back in its bin and squatted down to find the box you need.  Buying in bulk always makes sense; it was cheaper in the end, but you had a suspicion your dad bought a huge batch of these already and had simply misplaced them. Still, you would need almost a hundred this week, so a large box would suffice.  For no reason other than the fact that you liked the sound, you shook the box you’ve selected, smiling as the nails rattled against each other in their confinement.  Before you could stand up, you noticed a small figure squatting down next to you.  Even out of your peripheral vision you could see a fierce look of concentration on the kid’s face.  His striped shirt and overalls made him look a little like a train conductor, and his unruly honey-colored hair almost completely covered his ears.

           “Having trouble deciding?” you said, and the boy’s fingers tightened on his knees a little as he rocked once while nodding.   “Well, these are all nails,” you said, pointing at all the drawers in front of him, each labeled with information on length, width, and other terms that would definitely go over the kid’s head.  Most things would go over this kid’s head.  He looked tiny, especially squatting down beside you.  You threw a quick glance over him but saw no other adults in the aisle.  “So first you have to make sure you need nails.  Do you need nails or screws?”  You could see his lips pursing together and then pushing out as he thought seriously about your question, but when he didn’t answer, you tried a different question. “What are you making?”

           “A bird house!” the boy said, finally looking at you and flashing you a dazzling smile.  A real lady killer, this kid, you can tell immediately.  

           “No way!  I’m building one of those, too!” you said, and the boy somehow lighted up even more.

           “Really?”

           “Really really!  You definitely want nails, then,” you said, nodding solemnly, and you fought back a smile as the boy copied you.  “What kind of wood are you using?”  The boy thought for a moment, his eyes drifting beyond you for a moment.

           “Good wood,” he decided on, and you nod wisely.

           “Of course, of course, very good choice.  Nails, good wood, what else does a bird house need?  What color are you going to paint it?”

           “Red,” he said.

           “Why red?”

           “Bird houses are red.”

           “They don’t have to be,” you said, standing up and groaning slightly from squatting for so long.  The boy did the same, even letting out a little sigh in imitation as he stood up. He cocked his head at your answer, as if the knowledge was completely new to him.  “Really,” you clarified.  “They can be any color you want.”

           “Even pink?”

           “Totally pink,” you said.  “A pink bird house would be perfect.  Would be the best house on the block.”

           “Yeah?” the boy said suspiciously, but a smile was threatening to break over his face.

           “Yeah,” you said, gripping your box of nails tightly and looking around again. “Look, kid, where’s your mom or dad or whoever watches you?”

           “Oh,” the boy said, looking around.  You imagined the aisle may look a little like a Hitchcock film in his eyes, elongating or narrowing before him as the world suddenly seemed too big for him, because his eyes were wide when he looked back at you, causing you to squat down in front of him again and place your free hand on his shoulder.

           “Hey,” you said quickly, hoping your voice was reassuring, “we’ll find them. Who was here with you?”

           “Daddy.”

           “Okay, where did you last see him?  What were you getting for your bird house before you came to look for nails?”

           “Wood,” the boy said.

           “Good wood,” you said, and he smiled slightly to your relief.  “Okay, do you know what to do when you get lost?”  The boy thought seriously again for a moment, and the tiny mole on his nose moved as he scrunched his face.

           “Get unlost?”

           “Yea—yep,” you said, refusing to laugh, “you’re very smart.  That’s exactly right.  But when you get lost, do you think you should stay where you are or go looking for someone?”

           “You should get unlost,” the boy said again, and you nodded, because technically he wasn’t wrong.

           “Totally.  But you should stay where you are because then people can find you.  If you leave, they’ll take longer to find you.”

           “Really?” the boy said, his voice high.

           “Really,” you said solemnly, “one time when I was little, my da—”

           “Taehyung!”  The little boy’s shoulders beneath your hand shook at the loud voice, and as he turned around, your arm fell from him limply.  Before you even had time to stand up a figure in all black with strikingly bleached hair crouched down in front of the boy and took both of his shoulders in his hands and shook him once.  The boy’s tiny frame flopped dramatically in the man’s grip, and you shot up, clenching your fist at your side.  “Don’t you ever,” the man said, shaking the boy again, “run off without me again.  Do you hear me?”

           “Yes, daddy,” the boy mumbled faintly, and you stuffed your fist in your pocket, hoping it would go unnoticed.

           “Tae?” you said kindly, and the boy turned his head around to smile at you, a real blinding smile.  “Is this your dad?”  The man stood up as Tae turned around, his hands still protectively holding his shoulders, and he was giving you a look as if you hadn’t just heard the boy call him “daddy.”  The little boy thankfully nodded, so you tried to calm your face down, but something about the way the man was holding onto his son and staring at you still made you uneasy.  You made eye contact with him, anyway, not letting yourself be unnerved by his stare. “I was helping your son find the right nails for his bird house.”

           “Yeah, daddy, did you get good wood?” the boy said, trying to look up at his dad’s face who was still staring—glaring—at you.  As the man wasn’t carrying anything, the answer seemed obvious, so the boy tugged on his dad’s coat sleeve.  “She said we can paint the bird house any color.  Can we paint it pink, daddy?”

           “Sure, son, let’s go get the paint,” the man said, taking his son’s hand. Without even saying “thank you” or “goodbye,” the man turned to go, and his little boy waved frantically as he got dragged away.

           “Bye, bird house lady!”

           “Bye kid,” you said, smiling back.  As soon as he turned back to his dad, though, you frowned.  “What an ass,” you muttered, shaking your box of nails again before turning to leave yourself.  You shook the box all the way home, your leg shaking as you drove your truck back to the shop, its entire frame shaking you.  Just a nail in its confinement.

 

           He had his finger on his lip the second the automatic doors slid open, and you rolled your eyes at the smile on his face even while he tried to remain serious. Just to annoy him even more, you dramatically tiptoed up to his counter and then slammed down the stack of fliers you were holding.

           “Jimin, my man,” you said, and, on cue, the boy ran his hand through his blonde hair and laughed once before becoming serious again and leaning over the counter closer to you.  “Ji-man,” you said again as he shook his head and looked at the papers.  “Mah mahn, can I put this up today?”

           “Bird houses, huh?” he said, his whispers making his voice lower than it normally was.

           “Yeah.  Ever made one?”

           “No,” he smiled, “why would I?”

           “Why wouldn’t you, is the better question, Jimin,” you mused.  “You should come.”

           “I’m good.”

           “You’re more than good,” you said, winking at him.  He rolled his eyes again and brought a dispenser of tape down hard on the counter.  The librarian at the counter next to him gave him a stink eye, but he only rolled his eyes again and put the stapler down gentler next to the tape.

           “Bring these back when you’re done,” he said, already turning around to get back to work.  You gave him a silent salute and gathered up your fliers and supplies.  “Quiet” has never been an attribute ascribed to you. Even while working in silence you always needed to have some sort of filler noise, music or the buzz of a light or the hum of your own mouth, so you unconsciously hummed under your breath as you put up flyer after flyer, taking down your older ones from last week and covering up older ones that didn’t belong to you that someone else—Jimin—should be taking down.  After adequately covering one bulletin board, you turned around to work on tapping fliers to the end of each shelf when you saw a small boy squatting down in one of the rows, running his fingers along the plastic covered books.  Smiling to yourself, you tiptoed to the row behind him and squatted down, eyeing him over a stack of books.  Even though he was wearing a giant green sweater and khaki pants that looked much too loose on him, you recognized him immediately.

           “You don’t want that book,” you whispered, and you saw his head shoot up, his hand stilling on one of the books.  He moved his tiny fingers to the left to the next book and you suppressed a chuckle.  “Not that one, either.”  He moved his hand in the opposite way and you giggled this time.  “Nope.  Turn around,” you tried to make your voice sound like a ghost, wavering up and down, but the boy turned around with a smile, and his eyes lit up as he scurried over to see you over the row of books.  “Hey kid,” you said when he saw you.

           “Bird house lady!” he squealed, trying to whisper but failing miserably.

           “Y/N,” you clarified.  “What are you doing here?”  

           “Getting books,” he said, as if your question was dumb.  

           “A library is a good place to get books,” you said, nodding.  “But can you even read?”

           “I—” the boy started, and then his face fell.  “I can’t.”

           “Why are you getting books, then?” you teased.

           “Daddy reads them to me.”

           “Oh?” you said, crawling down the aisle and turning the corner to see him better. He crawled over to you, too, and sat on his knees.  “Where is he?”  For an answer, the boy pointed past your shoulder, and you followed his finger to the tables in the middle of the library where a variety of people were sitting. You saw a head of bleached hair behind a computer screen and black pants with crossed legs underneath the table and scoffed lightly, hopefully quiet enough that the kid didn’t hear you.  “I see.  So how did the bird house go?”  You felt your heart drop as the kid’s face fell.  He played with the hem of his sweater pooled in his lap and muttered,

           “We didn’t build it.”

           “Oh, why?  Wood not good enough?”

           “Daddy got busy,” the boy shrugged sadly, and you couldn’t help the sigh that left your lips.

           “Well, maybe you can come this weekend to my workshop.  We’re making bird houses.”  The boy took a flier from you reverently, his face lighting up as he saw the picture.

           “You make bird houses?”

           “Of course.  How do you think I knew so much about them at the store?  I’m a bird house expert.”

           “Wow,” he breathed, staring up at you.

           “Yeah, it’s really impressive,” you shrugged nonchalantly.

           “Daddy!” the boy squealed, and you failed to shush him in an adequate manner, the snooty librarian at the counter beating you to it.  His little feet went from running to walking quickly as soon as he was reprimanded, and you got up slowly to follow him, not exactly thrilled about his dad glaring at you again.  But glare he did, the second his son tapped his knee and he closed his computer screen partly to see what was going on.

           “Daddy,” the boy said, and then, remembering to whisper, leaned closer to his dad, who leaned down just a little to hear him, “look, bird house lady.  Can we go to this?”  Without waiting for a response, he thrust the flier into his dad’s lap.  The man eyed you and then the paper suspiciously as he flattened it out.  You amazing flier-making skills were obviously not impressive enough for him as he took a deep breath and looked at his son, his hand taking the tiny one in his.  

           “Maybe, Tae.  Did you finish finding your books?”

           “No,” Tae said.

           “Go get your books, then, so we can leave.”  The boy nodded a little reluctantly and looked up at you once before scurrying off.

           “So, bird house girl,” the man said, a tone to his voice that made you bristle.

           “Y/N,” you said simply.   The man hummed before folding up your precious flier and stuffing it in his black coat pocket.

           “You make bird houses for a living?”

           “No,” you huffed, stuffing your hands in your own coat pocket so he wouldn’t see how clenched they were.  “Well, not just bird houses.  My dad and I own a shop.  We do wood work but also blacksmithing and glass work.  A variety of things.”

           “How old are you?” he asked, one of his eyebrows raised.  You resisted the urge to roll your eyes, since you know your dad would say to remain professional whenever talking about the business despite how most people didn’t understand.

           “Twenty.”

           “In college?”

           “Never went,” you said simply, and his eyebrow somehow managed to raise even higher.  It was harder to not sigh, now, even though the look was one you were used to.  

           “You own a business but never went to college?”

           “Why should I pay to sit in a bunch of classes where nothing would be applicable? The only way to learn how to run a business is to run a business.  Experience is all that matters.  Reading a bunch of books and listening to stuffy old professors is a waste of time and money.”

           “I see,” the man said, closing his laptop.  The click of the screen locking into position made you jump slightly for some reason.  His left hand stayed on top of the computer long enough for you to notice the absence of a ring, and you quickly looked away to where Tae was once again squatting in an aisle, this time in the kids’ section where the rows were already at his level.  The man followed your gaze, and you pulled your eyes away from his son before you started smiling at the sight of him practically drowning in his sweater.  He looked like a little wood elf in the dark green color with his tan skin.  The man was looking at you again, and you shifted in your coat.  While you were trying to think of something to say to fill the awkward silence, Tae appeared beneath you with a big but skinny book in his hands.

           “Can we get this, daddy?  It’s about castles, see?”  His dad hummed in affirmation, causing the little boy to smile.  He put the book on his dad’s laptop before turning to you, perhaps surprised but still pleased to see you were still there.

           “Hey, Tae,” you whispered, getting down on his level again and leaning in close like you had a secret to tell him.  He got the cue and leaned in close, too.  “How often do you come to the library?”

           “Uh, every couple of days?  Or so?”

           “Do you know your days of the week?”

           “Of course,” he said, sounding a little offended.

           “Do you know what day is today?”

           “It’s Thursday,” he said confidently, and you nodded in confirmation.

           “Do you always come to the library on Thursdays?”

           “Yeah!” Tae said, proud of figuring out what day he came to the library.

           “Then I’ll be here next Thursday, too.  That way if you don’t come to the workshop this weekend, I can see you then, and I’ll bring something for you.”

           “Something for me?  Why? It’s not my birthday?”

           “Do you only get presents when it’s your birthday?”

           “No,” Tae said, pursing his lips together in concentration, his brain working hard to figure everything out.

           “When do you get presents?”

           “Sometimes when I’m a good boy,” he said seriously, eyeing his father quickly. He was just sitting there with his legs crossed and his fingers folded in his lap, watching the two of you.

           “Well, there you go.  You were such a good boy the other day in the store.”

           “I wasn’t,” Tae said, a frown on his face, “I ran away from daddy.”

           “Did you on purpose?  Did you never want to see him again?”

           “No,” Tae gasped, “no, no.”

           “You didn’t run away, Tae,” you explained, “you just got excited and got lost for a few minutes.  You were doing so good finding everything you needed for your bird house.  And you just went and got your book like your daddy said to do.”

           “I did,” Tae said, nodding slowly.

           “So there we go, good boy,” you smiled, ruffling his hair.  You drew your hand back quickly, looking up at his dad, but his face was still unmoving.  “And maybe next week you can tell me everything you learned about castles?”

           “Okay,” Tae said excitedly, his smile making you smile.  His dad, however, still did not.  

           “Okay,” you parroted, grunting a little as you stood up.  “I hope to see you Saturday, then, but, if not, next Thursday. Here,” you pointed to the spot beneath your feet, and Tae looked down.

           “Here?”

           “Right here,” you said.  “If you’re over there,” you pointed to a random spot across the room, “I won’t see you. It has to be right here.”

           “Right here,” Tae echoed, looking around as if to memorize the exact spot.

           “Awesome,” you said, sticking your hand out to him.  He eyed your palm for a moment.  “We are making a promise.  So usually at this point you would take my hand and shake it, or spit in it, or get out a knife to mix our blood or just give me a high five to solidify our plan.”

           “Why would I cut you?” the boy asked, looking a little alarmed.

           “Don’t spit in her hand,” his dad’s low voice rumbled at the same time.  “At least not in a public place.”

           “A high five will do,” you said seriously, and Tae complied, slapping your hand.  You let out a dramatic groan and shook your hand back and forth, wincing at the pain. The boy lit up at that.  “Powerful five you’ve got there, kid.”  He only beamed brighter, and you smiled one more time before taking your leave, bowing slightly to his dad beforehand.  “Sir,” you said seriously, and his face didn’t move at all as you moved away to gather up your—Jimin’s—supplies to return them. You gave Tae another wave as you left, his hand already in his dad’s as they stood in line to check out his book.

           Tae and his dad did not show up at the workshop that Saturday.

           You weren’t surprised, even if you were a little disappointed.  

 

           If you were honest with yourself, your flier for this week’s workshop wasn’t as impressive as the bird house one, but your heart hadn’t been in it at as much for some reason.  Even while you tried to explain to Jimin what you would be making—mobiles? Windchimes? Art?—you only were half-interested in what you were saying, and he handed over the tape and stapler as always without any questions.  You promised yourself it didn’t have anything to do with the man in all black at one of the tables typing away on a computer who had looked up at you when you came in, your pants covered in paint and your dad’s giant pilot jacket hanging loosely on your frame, a large box shifting in your arms. Before you even put the fliers up, you went to find Tae, squatting as always, in the kids’ section, browsing the shelf with seriousness beyond his age, however old he was.  

           “Hey Tae,” you whispered as you sat in the aisle next to him.  

           “Y/N!” he almost squealed with a huge smile on his face.

           “What are you looking for?”

           “A book on dogs,” he said, and you watched him half-pull out several ones, obviously looking for one with an interesting cover.

           “Do you have a dog?”

           “No,” he said, his voice sad, “daddy won’t let me.”

           “Ah,” you sighed, sad for the kid.  You wondered what else his dad wouldn’t let him have or do.

           “Do you?”

           “Oh, yeah,” you said, “we have three.”

           “Three dogs?” Tae breathed, looking at you like you were some savior for dogs around the whole world.  “What kinds?”

           “They’re all mutts.  Mixtures. Cattle dog, blue heeler, coolie, Catahoula.”

           “Cata?”

           “Houla,” you laughed.  “Maybe you can find info in one of these books about them.”  Tae seemed to accept the challenge immediately and began pulling out three different books with dogs on the covers.  “What did you find out about castles, by the way?”

           “Oh! So much!  Did you know castles are surrounded by moats?”

           “No way,” you said.  Tae only nodded.  “What’s a moat?”

           “It’s this circle around the castle filled with water,” he explained, using his hands to demonstrate.  

           “Like a donut?”

           “Huh?”

           “Like the castle is the donut hole, and the moat is the donut?”

           “Oh,” Tae said, smiling, “yeah!”

           “So what else is in the moat beside water?”

           “Oh, sometimes they put stuff in there to keep people out, like animals.”

           “They put animals in the moat?  What kind of animals?”

           “Dangerous kinds,” Tae said, as if your question was stupid.

           “Like cows?”

           “Cows?” Tae said.  “Cows aren’t dangerous.”

           “Actually, did you know more people die from cows falling on them than from shark bites?”

           “Cows?” Tae said again, his eyes wide, and he looked up as if he was expecting a cow to suddenly drop from the ceiling.  You suppressed a laugh and placed your hand on the books in his lap.

           “Yeah, so if you find yourself in any fields, stay away from cows.”

           “But I thought cows were nice,” Tae said, his lower lip sticking out as his world was shaken.

           “Oh, they are,” you clarified, not meaning to scare him.  “But don’t let one fall on you.  So no cows in the moats, huh?  Sharks?”

           “No sharks.  I—I don’t remember what they put in the moats.”

           “That’s okay,” you said, noticing how distraught he looked.  “So if there was a circle of water surrounding the castle, how did people get in?”

           “Oh, they had a drawbridge!”

           “What’s a drawbridge?  Like, did you draw it and it appeared?  Did you have to draw a new bridge each time?”

           “No, no,” Tae said, giggling before he demonstrated again, his arm going up and down from his elbow.  “A drawbridge goes up and down so only certain people can get in when they want.”

           “A drawbridge goes up and down?  Why is it called a drawbridge?  Why isn’t it called an up-and-down bridge?” you asked, and the boy’s brow furrowed again as he thought hard about your question.  He clearly had no answer, and that seemed to bother him. “Maybe we could look it up on the internet?”

           “Daddy doesn’t let me on the internet,” Tae said seriously, and you had to nod, pursing your lips.

           “That’s probably a good idea.  It’s not really a nice place.”

           “Then why did you say we should get on it?”

           “I mean,” you said, feeling like you were finding yourself in your own moat, “it has some good things on it.  In it. But we can look in a different book about castles to find out why they’re called drawbridges, probably.”

           “But I wanted a book on dogs today,” Tae said, pouting slightly.

           “Okay, yeah, no one cares about drawbridges.  Dogs are much better.  Get the book on dogs.”

           “But I don’t know which one to get,” Tae said seriously, and you laughed softly, looking at the three he had picked before helping him select the one that looked the best—it had the most pictures—and putting the others back.

           “Hey Tae,” you said, even though you thought you knew the answer, as you both walked back to his dad, “why didn’t you come make a bird house on Saturday?” Tae shrugged even while he answered,

           “Daddy was busy.”  You grunted in response, eyeing the man in question as you approached his table, and you shifted the box under your arm uncomfortably, trying to not let the fliers and tape and stapler topple off.  Perhaps a little too loudly, you put the box on the table next to Tae’s dad, but he barely flinched as he closed his laptop to look at the two of you.

           “Daddy,” Tae said, reaching up to put the book on top of his laptop, “I got a book on dogs.”

           “Very cool,” his dad said, still eyeing you.

           “Hey, Tae,” you said, trying to get away from the man’s stare, “here’s a flier for this week.”  The little boy took the paper again as if it was a secret treasure map, his mouth opening at the picture.

           “This is so pretty!” he whispered.  “What is it?”  You laughed softly as you pointed to the mobile.

           “Art.  A mobile. If you put it outside, it can blow in the wind and make noise or when the light reflects on the glass it can make really pretty patterns on the ground or on a wall.  It has multi-purposes—many purposes—it’s multi-purposeful.  And they all look different because you can chose what you want to put on them.  Plus the color of the glass matters.”

           “I thought glass was all see-through,” Tae said.

           “Nah, see this?” you said, pointing to the picture.  “That’s glass.  At our shop we have a lot of blue and green glass, but you can have red and even pink glass.”

           “Wow,” Tae said.  “Daddy, can we make one of these?”

           “Maybe, kid,” his dad said, and the way Tae’s shoulders sagged told you everything you needed to know.  For some parents, “maybe” meant yes, while for Tae’s dad, “maybe” obviously meant “no, but I’m not going to tell you no right now for some reason, probably so I don’t appear like the actual dick that I am.”

           “Hey, Tae, you remember when I said last week I would bring you something?” you said, trying to distract him from his inevitable disappointment.  The boy nodded gently, putting the flier on top of his book.  “Were you a good boy this week?”  He nodded more enthusiastically, but then, noticing the way his dad was looking at him, he hung his head a bit and kicked at the carpet once.  He was wearing another giant sweater, a bright red that made his whole face seem pink, with a pair of simple jeans underneath.  

           “I was mostly good,” he said.

           “Well, no one’s good all the time,” you hummed.  “That would be boring,” you said, watching his dad.  He only stared back, so you took everything off of the box you had carried in and squatted down next to Tae to put it in front of him.  As he eyed it, you gestured toward it, and after a small nod from his dad, Tae reached down his tiny fingers to fiddle with opening the box.  His face lit up as soon as he saw what was inside, and you were afraid the stern librarian was going to shush him, but he didn’t scream or shout at all, his mouth just gaping open as he pulled out the pink wooden bird house from the box.

           “Daddy, it’s—” he stuttered.  “It’s a. Look daddy!”

           “I see, buddy,” his dad said softly, but his voice didn’t hold any of the excitement his son’s did at the sight.  He didn’t sound disappointed or annoyed, to your relief, just as stoic as always.

           “It’s,” Tae kept saying, and if you didn’t stop his rambling soon, you were afraid he was going to cry.

           “It’s your pink bird house,” you said simply.

           “But why?” Tae said, looking up at you, and while you had seen similarities between him and his dad already, his face suddenly looked like a mirror image of his father’s, which startled you a little.

           “Well, your dad got too busy to help you make one or come to my workshop, right? And I had to make one with everyone at the workshop, so I made this one.  Then I painted it pink for you.”

           “It’s,” Tae tried again, but you only reached over to ruffle his hair.

           “Like it?”  He nodded, smiling finally, and you relaxed.  “Where are you going to put it?”

           “Where do you put bird houses?”

           “Well, do you have any birds inside your house?”

           “No,” Tae said, giggling at the thought.

           “So definitely not inside.  Outside, then.  Do you have a yard?”

           “Oh, yeah!” Tae said excitedly, his voice rising above a whisper.  “We have a huge yard!  We have a pool, and a swing set, and a basketball net, but that’s daddy’s because I’m still too short for it, but I have my own right beside it, and oh, a sand box and, and.”

           “Are you sure you don’t live in a park?” you said, eyeing the boy playfully.

           “No, no, it’s our yard.”

           “Sounds like a park to me,” you said seriously.

           “No, no, we have a house, I promise,” Tae smiled, shaking his head frantically.  “But our yard is bigger than our house.”

           “Sounds like a park to me, but whatever you say,” you joked.  “Well, you see the bottom of the bird house here? If your dad gets you a pole, it can screw right on top of that and then be put in the ground anywhere in your park—or, your yard, excuse me—and then you just need to put some bird food in there before all the birds come.”

           “What kind of food do birds eat?” Tae asked, looking at the bottom of his new house.

           “Bird food,” you said seriously.  Tae’s lips stuck out from his face for a moment before he smiled, satisfied with your answer.  “Okay, well, I have to go finish putting these fliers up so I can give all this stuff back to Jimin.  I hope you, and the birds, enjoy the house that you’re going to put in your non-park yard,” you said, standing up.  Tae copied you, even matching your face as you felt your muscles rebelling once again from squatting for so long.  

           “You know Jimin?” he said, pointing over at the young man at the counter who was too immersed in stacking books to notice.

           “Don’t point,” you said gently, lowering his hand.  “But yeah, Jimin’s my friend.”

           “He’s my friend, too!” Tae said, and for a moment you were afraid he was jealous and you were going to have to fight with a toddler about how you were older and had known Jimin since high school and therefore were his friend first, which would be a ridiculous argument to have with a kid, but Tae only smiled wider. “We’re all friends!”

           “Yeah, kid, we sure are.”  You smiled down at him before ruffling his hair again and then turning to his dad. “I hope you can make it Saturday. It was nice”—it wasn’t, really, but you were trying to be polite—“to see you again Mister?”

           “Min.  Min Yoongi,” the man said.

           “Mr. Yoongi, got it,” you said, already turning away from him as he opened his mouth.  “See you later, Tae.”

           “Bye Y/N!” Tae said, sticking his hand out.

           “Oh, yeah,” you said, stooping slightly to high five him.  

           “Thank you for the bird house.”

           “No problem, buddy,” you said honestly.  It had taken less than an hour of your time.  You had loved doing it.  Seeing the boy smile was worth any potential splinters you might have gotten. It really wasn’t a problem at all, even if the kid’s dad obviously thought it wasn’t as important as whatever else he had to do.  So, yeah, you were extremely surprised when they both showed up on Saturday.  The room wasn’t full, as four of the ten workstations were still empty.  The workshops in your dad’s giant barn were rarely ever full.  But everyone who came always had a good time and went away with a few new skills under their belt and a project they had made and could be proud of. Your dad always said that there was nothing like making something with your own hands.  It certainly beat buying things that you could make yourself.  You also weren’t surprised to see Mr. Min still all dressed in black while his son was wearing a puffy zipped-up black coat and a pink beanie pulled down low over his ears.  The boy, upon seeing you, raced over the straw-covered floor until he ran into your open arms.  You stood up and spun him around a few times before putting him down, his high-pitched laughter bouncing around the room.

           “Y/N, Y/N,” Tae said, laughing, “I’m here!”

           “I see that,” you laughed, straightening out his coat for him.  “I’m so glad to see you!”

           “Where can I sit?” he said, practically bouncing on his feet.

           “Well, there’s a table there,” you said, pointing each other, “there, there, or there.”

           “Where will you be?”

           “Well, I stand up here to start, but then I walk around to each table, so I’ll make sure to come see you lots,” you said, poking at him, but his coat was so puffy you didn’t touch him at all.

           “Okay, this one, then,” Tae said, leading you over to the empty table closest to the front.  You made sure the stool by it was close to the table before dropping his hand.

           “Can you get up here or need a lift?

           “I’m a big boy, I got it,” he said, already climbing up.

           “I believe you,” you said, though you kept a hand out just in case he had any trouble.  Soon he was sitting on the stool proudly, his legs swinging and hitting the underside of the table in front of him.  “Okay, see this box of glass?  It’s all rounded on the side, so it won’t cut you, so I want you to pick ten pieces that you want to use.  Can you count to ten?”

           “Of course,” Tae scoffed, already pulling the box close to him, all of the pieces rattling against each other.  “I know my ABC’s, too.”

           “Of course you do,” you said, patting his head softly.  “You’re a big boy.  I’m going to go talk to your dad really quick, okay?”  Tae only nodded, already plenty distracted with picking out his glass pieces.  You imagined he could spend the whole day examining the box, and you figured you would have to help him pick the best pieces because he was going to want to use each pretty piece.  Mr. Min still stood at the door, his hands in his pockets as he eyed the barn.  If his shoes were any indication, he had probably never set foot in a barn before, even a barn that no longer housed animals.

           “Mr. Yoongi,” you said to annoy him, and based on the way his eyes narrowed, you were obviously successful, “glad to see you could make it.”

           “Is there a chair I could use?” he interrupted.

           “There’s a stool over there by Tae you could use,” you said, pointing back at his son who was hunched over his box of glass.

           “Can I pull it back here?  I have some work to do.”

           “You—” you started before shutting your mouth and taking a deep breath. “Mr. Min, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

           “Excuse me?” the man said, blinking rapidly at you.

           “If you’re not going to go sit with your son and participate, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.  The class is only an hour, so if you really can’t put your work aside for an hour to spend time with your son, then I don’t want you here.”

           “Excuse me?” he said again, and you realized he wasn’t used to people talking to him this way, but that only spurred you on further.

           “This is my place of business, so I reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. You, sir, are being refused.  Tae can stay.  I’ll watch him for the hour, because it will be my pleasure, and he’s obviously a great, smart kid, so he won’t need me to baby him or watch him every second, but—”

           “I’m sorry,” Yoongi interrupted again, putting his hand out to stop you, “I’m not going to leave my kid here with you.  I don’t even know you.  I don’t care that you made him a bird house, you don’t know him.  He really wanted to come, so I brought him, but I have work to do—”

           “Did he really want to come make a mobile?  Or did he want to make a mobile with you?”

           “Wh—”

           “Look, Mr. Yoongi,” you said, sticking your hands in your pockets to stop them from shaking.  It was a little cold in the barn today, but you were also angrier than you expected to be. “I don’t need to know you or your son to know that he wants the same thing every kid wants.  Your attention.  Your love. Your support.  So if you can’t give that to him for an hour today, then I don’t want you here.  You’re right, I don’t know you, so I’m not going to say you’re a bad dad, but you’re clearly prioritizing your work over him, and it’s clearly hurting him.  Just look at how happy he is to be here. Imagine how much happier he would be if you went to sit by him and put your phone away for an hour.  An hour, Mr. Min,” you sighed, your voice coming out soft despite how upset you were.  The man only stood in front of you for a moment, and for a second you thought he was going to give in, to put aside whatever was holding him back, but then his mouth opened.

           “Taehyung!  Come here right now.”  Shaking your head, you tsked and licked your lips before looking at the man with as much disdain as you could muster.

           “Yes, daddy?” Tae’s voice met your ears, and you couldn’t even look at him as his dad took his hand.

           “We’re leaving,” Mr. Min said firmly, and while Tae tried to stand still, his dad’s strength greatly overwhelmed him, and he staggered briefly before hurrying to keep up with his dad’s long legs.

           “But daddy,” you heard him whine, “I wanted to make the m-m—”

           “Be quiet, son,” his dad said, and before they reached their car you could hear Tae crying, his sobs slapping you.  Cursing under your breath, you kicked a pile of hay before going to Tae’s table.  A small pile of glass had already been separated from the box, and you carefully picked up the colorful pieces, sighing deeply before giving the rest of the room a smile.

           “Okay, everyone, let’s get started.”

 

           The mobile you made hung on you front porch for a week, and each time you passed it you would run your fingers over the smooth glass, trying to smooth the anger you felt toward one Min Yoongi.  On Thursday, you boxed the mobile up and headed to the library, hoping beyond hope to see Tae again, hoping the mobile would sooth some of the disappointment he must be feeling.  It was just some glass on some string.  The kid didn’t need much.  Why couldn’t his dad see that?

Chapter Text

            Sometimes, while you sat in the rocking chair you had made with your dad when you were fourteen on your front porch, you did wonder what going to college would have been like.  Whether you were really missing out.  When you had time, you sat with Jimin sometimes while he studied, helped him prepare for tests, quizzed him and brought him food when he seemed to be having a mental breakdown.  It didn’t really look worth it, not with the way he stressed and continued to hurt himself.  You were happy working with your dad.  Business had never been booming, but you had never been poor.  You had what you needed.

            Sometimes, when you thought you were the happiest, you did wonder what it would be like if your mom was still around.  But it had been six years, and you had always been, as everyone said, “a daddy’s girl,” so you could only image how worse everything might have gotten if she had stayed.  Dad was happier, so you were happier, and she was probably happier somewhere else with someone else, too, so that’s really all that mattered.  You had what you needed.

            Sometimes, when you rumbled along in your truck, you did wonder what it would be like to be someone else with money, a college degree, a complete family.  But, at the end of the day, you had what you needed.

            What pissed you off was when people who seemed to have everything couldn’t notice when someone needed something.  In short, Min Yoongi was clearly rich, with the clothes he wore, the computer he had, the car you saw him driving, but for some reason he was incapable of giving his kid the love he needed.  It wasn’t your business, but unless the guy took out a restraining order on you or something, you were determined to make him give his kid the attention he deserved.

 

            “What, no flier today?” Jimin whispered softly, partially because, sure, it was the library, but probably more so because he saw your expression.  You had had one of perpetual worry stuck on your face for the past couple of days, ever since Min Yoongi dragged his kid out of your workshop like an over-dramatic asshole.

            “We have too many orders this week.  Not a problem, just other priorities this week,” you mumbled into your sweater sleeve.

            “What’s in the box?”

            “A mobile.  For Tae.”

            “That guy’s kid?” Jimin asked, his face slightly judgmental.  You tried to wipe it off his face, but he moved away from you, protected by the counter.  You grunted once before standing up and sighing.

            “Yeah.  He’s a great kid.”

            “And the dad’s hot.”

            “The dad’s an ass,” you hissed, but Jimin only laughed and rolled his eyes.

            “Speak of the devil,” Jimin muttered, going back to the book in front of him as you spun around.  You had, of course, noticed the time you had arrived at the library the last two weeks, so you had a good idea of when Tae and his dad would show up.  It did, of course, make your heart flip a little when Tae saw you, and it made you smile when he pulled away from his dad, jogging toward you with a book in his hand.

            “Y/N!” he said when he was close enough to whisper loudly to you.

            “Tae!” you whispered back.

            “Jimin,” Tae said, trying to stand up on his tiptoes to see Jimin.  The older boy leaned halfway over the counter so he could see the kid below him, shooting him a smile that made his eyes disappear.

            “Hey Tae, how’s life?”

            “So-so,” Tae shrugged, which only made you snort.  “I brought this book back.”

            “Why, thank you,” Jimin said, taking said book from the young boy.

            “What did you learn about dogs?” you said, and Tae put his hands in the pockets of his vest zipped up over his hoodie.

            “If a dog’s nose is wet, that means he’s healthy.”

            “What about a wet tongue?”

            “That’s just gross!” Tae giggled, and you had to agree.  “What’s in the box?” the kid said, not missing a beat.

            “Ah, it’s for you,” you said, picking it off the counter and giving Jimin a small wave as you steered Tae toward the table his dad was already sitting at.

            “Miss Y/N,” his dad said when you were close enough, “if I didn’t know any better, I would say you were expecting us.”

            “I was waiting to see Tae,” you said firmly, “so I could give him this.”  You put the box on the ground where the kid was already squatting down.

            “What, no flier?” Mr. Min said, and you squatted down next to his kid so he couldn’t see you roll your eyes.  Tae showed no hesitation this week, simply ripping opening the box quickly, but he paused when he saw what was inside, and his small hands move slowly, gently, as he lifted the mobile out of the box.  It clinked and rattled, each sound almost too loud in the quiet room, but the way the glass already reflected into Tae’s shining eyes was the real music to your eyes.  The boy, for the first time, was speechless as he ran his finger over the pieces of glass and traced the wires over and over again, a look of awe on his face.  You weren’t sure how long you both sat there, but with each second your heart felt fuller and fuller, but the second his father tapped his foot on the ground you swore you heard the glass Tae was holding shatter.

            “Say thank you, Tae.”

            “T-Thank you, Y/N!” Tae said, and when he looked up at you, his eyes were shining with tears.

            “Oh, Tae,” you said, taking the mobile from him and gently placing it back in the box, “why are you crying?”

            “I wanted to make one,” he sniffled.

            “Oh, do you want me to take this back?”

            “No,” he almost shouted as he grabbed the box.  The mean librarian was nowhere to be seen thankfully, but Jimin did look up from the counter.  You waved him off and turned back to Tae, running your hand through his hair that was still cold from outside and brushing the tear away from his cheek.

            “I’m sorry you didn’t get to stay, buddy.  Your dad had work to do, though, and he couldn’t leave you there all alone.”

            “I wasn’t alone!  And I’m a big boy,” Tae said, his voice gradually forgetting how to whisper.

            “Okay,” you said softly, moving the box aside so you could sit next to the boy.  He plopped down on his bottom, his lower lip sticking out.  “You like the mobile, right?”  He nodded once, so you ruffled his hair briefly.  “Then let’s not cry, okay?  I can show you another time how to make your own.”

            “Really?”

            “Sure thing, kid, no problem.  It’s easy and doesn’t take long.”  At this comment you looked up at his dad sitting in his chair watching the two of you.  You watched him long enough for him to actually stir, and you let go of Tae’s head as Yoongi leaned in closer until he tapped his son on the shoulder.

            “Tae, go get your book for the day while I talk to Miss Y/N here.”

            “Don’t want a book,” Tae said, and the way his dad’s eyebrows raised told you he must not give that answer very often.

            “Why are you at the library then?” you tried, and Tae only shrugged.  “Oh, hey, Tae, do you have any binoculars?”

            “I don’t know, do we, daddy?” Tae sniffled.

            “Maybe?” his dad said.

            “Why?” Tae sniffled again.

            “Because, I forgot to tell you when you put your bird house up that you need binoculars.  That way you can sit inside and watch them and they’ll have no idea!  What if you find a book on birds?  That way when you see birds in your feeder you can know what type of bird it is.”

            “We haven’t put up the bird house yet,” Tae said softly.

            “You—” you started, turning to glare at the boy’s father.  “Okay, Tae, go find a book on birds while I talk to your dad.”  Without a question the boy got up, wiping his face as he walked away.  “Okay,” you said, standing up, because no way did the man who already thought he was above you deserve to be above you while you had this conversation, “can I come over and put the bird house up?  It will take me like, five minutes, and clearly you’re not going to do it, and clearly he’s sad and cl—”

            “Sure,” the man said, and you stopped for a moment to register what he had just said.  “That would be nice.  In fact, I was going to ask if you could babysit this Saturday.”

            “You—what?”

            “I need a babysitter for Saturday.  For Tae, obviously, not for myself.”

            “Yeah, no, I,” you tried again, and, stuffing your fists in your coat pocket, you cocked your head at the man.  “What’s the catch?”

            “Catch?  You like my kid, yeah?  And you like making money?  Have you ever babysat before?”

            “Sure.  In high school I did quite a lot.  Haven’t much lately, so my babysitter certification isn’t really up to date, and I haven’t gone to college or anything—”

            “Is that—” Yoongi started, but then he shook his head, standing up and copying your stance which only made you pull your hands out of your pockets to place them awkwardly by your side.  “Are there actual certificates babysitters get?”

            “First aid and CPR stuff, sure, which, yes, I do have, I could show you if you need proof,” you said, moving for your wallet in you back pocket, but the man stopped you with a wave of his hand.  “And training on how to not be a sexual predator.”

            “There are,” the man started again, but stopped himself this time by pulling his phone out.  “Just, give me your number, yeah?  I’ll text you our address.  Do you have a car?  If not, I’ll send one for you.”

            “I can drive,” you said, and you mumbled out your number once he was ready.

            “Great, four okay?  It’ll be until ten or midnight, I’m not sure yet.”

            “Sure,” you mumbled again as he pocketed his phone again.  You ignored yours buzzing in your pocket.

            “Great.  I’m sure Tae will be glad to see you then,” the man said, and without another word he nodded his head at you once before going to find his son.  He took two steps before he turned back around and bent down to pick up the box at your feet.  When he straightened back up, he was the closest to you he had ever been, and you noticed his dark eyebrows underneath his hair, how the edges of his eyes tilted down, how bloodshot his pupils were, how tired he looked.  “Can’t forget this, can I?” he whispered, and you shivered.  As he turned away, you swore you saw a smirk on his face, and the sound of the sliding doors closing jolted you back to the presence.  You turned around to see Jimin waving at you with an obvious smirk on his face.  Huffing, you waved him off and pulled your jacket tighter before leaving.

 

            Tae had been correct in that they didn’t live in a park, but his “house” was no ordinary house.  It was clearly a mansion, and you were surprised you hadn’t had to go through some gate or security check as your clunker truck pulled up to the curve.  The house looked half a mile away from the road, a long walkway leading to the front door, and for some reason you were nervous.  Yoongi had been right.  You didn’t know him.  You didn’t want to get to know him, you were only here for Tae, but you were regretting not asking a few fundamental questions.  For instance, what did Min Yoongi do to make so much money?  And where was Tae’s mom?  And why was he such an ass? 

            And you had told the truth, you hadn’t babysit in a while.  But only an idiot would be unable to see how much Tae liked you and how well you clicked with him.  So unless he was a totally different kid, like a literal monster, at home, which you had encountered before, or completely different away from his dad, it was just going to be a few hours of playing around with him and putting him to bed.  There was no need to be nervous.  So you took a deep breath, and, right at four on the dot, rang the doorbell.

            You swore you heard a crash and a shout and stepped back from the door.  After a few moments, there was another crash, and then the door was flung open.  Tae stood there, a huge smile on his face, and he straight up shouted when he saw you.

            “Y/N!  Daddy, Y/N is here!”  You took another step back in exaggeration at how loud he was, and when he looked back at you, his mouth opened wide.  “Are you my babysitter today!?”

            “Yeah, kid, didn’t your dad tell you?”  He shook his head frantically, and you put your hand out to stop him, afraid he was going to get whiplash.  “Well, yeah, you’re stuck with me today.  Are you supposed to open the door on your own?”  Tae’s head stopped moving and his eyes went wide, and, before he answered, he slammed the door in your face and shouted for his dad.  So, apparently he was louder than you thought he was, but what kid wasn’t?  Soon the door opened again, slower this time, and Mr. Min stood there in a simple black and white suit with a velvet collar, a tie hanging limp around his neck, with Tae hiding behind his leg.

            “Miss Y/N,” Yoongi said, “right on time.”  He opened the door a bit wider and gestured for you to come in.  Tamping down your nerves, you mumbled a thanks and entered.  The second you were in, Tae practically pounced on you, and you had to quickly squat down so he didn’t knock your knees out from under you.

            “Y/N, Y/N,” he chanted, “look at my pants, aren’t they so cool?”  When you pulled him away from you, you noticed his black pants were littered with stars.

            “Those are the coolest pants I have ever seen.  I want them.”

            “You can’t have them!  They won’t fit you,” Tae said, laughing. 

            “I still want them.”

            “No, they’re mine,” he said, giggling.  “Oh, plus, plus, they glow in the dark.”

            “Okay, you have to give them to me now,” you said, reaching for him, but he shrieked and hid behind his dad’s leg again.

            “My pants,” he said.

            “Why do kids get all the cool stuff?” you said to no one, but Yoongi scoffed.

            “You should see some of his shoes.  Everything lights up.”

            “See?  Unfair,” you said, and as you stood up, a second of awkward silence followed, so, before a wave of panic could hit you, you stepped forward to grab Yoongi’s tie.  Your fingers worked quickly to tie it as you started rambling.  “So, Tae, I see you don’t live in a park, but you didn’t tell me you lived in a mansion.  Do you have a butler?  A cook?  Do your servants have their own floor?  Do you have your own floor?”  The boy just giggled as you carried on with his father’s tie. 

            “You’re going to have to give me a good tour, Tae, otherwise I will definitely get lost, and I didn’t bring any breadcrumbs with me, so if I get lost you’ll never find me.  And since I helped you when you were lost, you owe me, so you have to make sure I don’t get lost tonight, okay?  Deal?” you breathed, stepping away from his dad and sticking your palm out to the boy.  He reached out from his dad’s leg and gave you a high five.  Satisfied, you looked back at his dad, who was blinking at you. 

            “Oh, sorry,” you muttered, pointing limply at his tie, “I did a Windsor.  That’s what my dad likes.  I can do, uh, oh, I know,” you said, stepping back toward him and undoing his tie. “I know the Eldredge knot.”  His whole body jerked slightly toward you as you forcefully undid the previous knot you had made, but he steadied himself, his hand resting on top of his son’s head as you reworked his tie. 

            “It’s the fanciest one I know.  And this tie looks really fancy, plus it’s just black, and this knot doesn’t always look good with a patterned tie.  If you,” you said, trying not to whip him in the face as you moved the tie around, but he hadn’t really moved his head back at all, and you know the tie smacked him at one point, but he barely even blinked.  “If you don’t like it, I think I know another type.”  You could feel him breathing down on you, and you willed your fingers not to slip. 

            “Okay, okay, feel strangled yet?” you said as you finished, stepping back again and eyeing your handiwork.  “It leaves the short end annoyingly short, so usually I just, here,” you said, as he just stood there, “just tuck it around the collar.”  You held the short end of the silk tie that had been sticking out oddly in your hands and started to slip it underneath the tie around his neck.  He didn’t even turn his head as you moved, and you tried not to breathe as you smoothed his collar down, but you needed to breathe as a human being, and he smelled a little like pine trees, or sandalwood, a thick but pleasant smell.  “Do you, uh, have a pocket square?”

            “Yeah, I can do that part,” he said, clearing his throat.  You nodded and pressed your lips together as another moment of silence fell.

            “Daddy,” Tae said, pulling on his father’s pants, “hurry up, I want to show Y/N around.”

            “Right,” Yoongi said, “well, if you’ll follow me.”  You did and found yourself in a kitchen that was probably three times as big as yours back home.  Tae followed closely behind, as quiet as if he was in a library, and Yoongi slapped his hand on a piece of paper on the island.  “Well, here are all the phone numbers you might need.  Food—”

            “Poison control?” you said, and the man looked at you dumbly.  “I mean, you should always have poison control on here.  It’s okay, I’ll look it up.  Is Tae allergic to anything?”

            “Not that we know of.”

            “Who’s this?” you said, pointing at a name on the list.

            “Oh, our neighbor.  She knows Tae well, brings over treats sometimes.  She goes to bed early, though, but is the closet person around.”

            “Sound ominous,” you said, wiggling your eyebrows down at Tae who giggled.  “And this?”

            “Ah, Uncle Hobi, he’ll be at the party with me tonight, so if you can’t reach me, try him.”

            “Uncle Hobi will be there?” Tae said, pouting slightly.

            “Yeah,” was all his dad said.

            “And halmeoni?”

            “Oh, that’s my mom, Tae’s grandma.  She—I’m not sure why she’s on that list.”

            “Does she live nearby?”

            “Oh, not at all,” Yoongi said, finally looking down at his tie.  “She lives in Korea.  We don’t talk to her much.”

            “Why’s that?”

            “We’re not really close,” Yoongi said, clearly trying to move on.  You hummed and checked the rest of the list but didn’t have any other questions.  “So, food’s in the fridge.  Tae’s rarely picky, but there’s plenty of stuff around, and I left extra money if you want to order something.  There are strawberries for a treat,” the man continued, and Tae’s head tilted back and his eyes went wide at the mention of strawberries, “and juice or milk or water to drink.  You’re welcome to whatever, but I’d prefer you not drink on the job.”

            “I’m only twenty,” you said a-matter-of-factly, and Yoongi’s hand froze for a moment in the air.

            “Right,” he recovered quickly, “forgot.  So I really don’t want you drinking anything.  Everything in here should be pretty self explanatory.”

            “I mean, I haven’t been to college, but I can probably manage a stove,” you said, “been cooking for my dad and me since I was fourteen.”  Yoongi looked at you for a moment, but you busied yourself by opening up drawers and running your hand along the counters.  When you had explored enough you leaned against the counter by Tae and watched the boy’s dad.

            “Okay, bedtime is 8:30,” he said, and before Tae could open his mouth he repeated himself.  “Only one movie.  He must take a bath.  Bed time is not negotiable.”

            “Yes sir,” you said, giving him a salute, and Tae giggled beside you.

            “He can watch whatever he wants, but only one movie,” Yoongi said.

            “Anything?  Like, The Matrix is a go?”

            “Anything from his collection,” Yoongi clarified, his eyes narrow while you smiled.

            “Tae, what’s your favorite movie?” you asked suddenly, and the boy bounced up and down a few times when he answered,

            “Moana!

            “It was Mulan last week,” Yoongi said, “And Spirited Away the week before.”

            “Having only one favorite movie is boring,” you explained, patting Tae’s head.

            “And defeats the purpose of the word,” Yoongi muttered, but he sighed as he stood up straight.  “What else is there, Tae?”  The boy’s face scrunched up as he thought, and then he left your side to get closer to his dad.  He gestured for him to get closer, and when his dad squatted beside him, Tae cupped his hands and whispered something in his ear.  “Oh,” his dad said, “I’m sure she will.  He needs, I quote, ‘like a hundred kisses before bed,’ and he sleeps with a nightlight and his giraffe plushie.”

            “Only a hundred kisses?” you said, blowing air through your lips.  “I need, like, a thousand, so this will be easy.  Also, I have this really cool string of lights above my bed that I leave on to help me sleep, so that all sounds perfect.”  The relieved smile on Tae’s face as he turned back to you helped you relax, too, knowing you had comforted him, and another moment of silence fell as you thought of what else you might need to know.  “Oh, any alarms in the house?”

            “Oh, yeah, it automatically sets at ten, so just don’t leave the house after that.”

            “What if I need to?”

            “Why would you need to?” Yoongi said.  You shrugged.

            “I don’t know, what if I see something outside and need to go check it out.”

            “Don’t go outside after ten.”

            “But what if I see something?”

            “Just.  Leave it alone.  Haven’t you seen any horror films?”

            “No,” you said simply, and Yoongi sighed, clearly unable to follow the joke.  “What if someone rings the door bell and I need to answer the door?”

            “After ten p.m.?  Don’t answer the door after ten p.m.”

            “Okay, but what if I order food, or something?”

            “Just, don’t after ten,” Yoongi said, getting exasperated.

            “Okay, but what about—”

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said, and you pressed your lips together, trying not to smile at how annoyed he looked.  “If you must go outside after ten, just text me.  I can turn it off remotely.”

            “Okay,” you said, dropping the matter.  “Those are all my questions.”

            “Okay,” Yoongi breathed.  “If you have anymore, just text me.  If you have any problems, just let me know.”

            “I’m sure we’ll be fine,” you reassured him, but he still eyed you suspiciously.  “Right Tae?”

            “Right!  Go have fun, daddy.  Say hi to Uncle Hobi for me.”

            “Yeah, go have fun, Mr. Yoongi,” you said, imitating Tae by waving your hands at him.

            “Okay, I can tell where I’m not wanted,” he said in mock pain.  “Be good, Tae,” he said, placing a quick kiss on top of the boy’s head.

            “Oh, only ninety-nine kisses left,” you said, raising your eyebrows.  Tae giggled under his dad and reached up to cup his face before he placed a kiss on his nose.

            “For fun,” he whispered to his dad.

            “Thanks, buddy,” Yoongi said before patting his son’s head.  With another wave, he exited through a door in the kitchen, and then you were left with Tae.

            “So, tour?” you said, and Tae immediately took your hand to show you around.

            “This is the kitchen,” he said.

            “Oh, I never would have guessed,” you mused, and he led you back to the room you had first come in, a large open room with floor-to-ceiling windows looking into the not-park backyard.  Three couches and a huge rug filled the room as well as a long mahogany table for twelve.  A grand piano sat in the corner.

            “This is living room number one,” Tae said, dragging you through.

            “Number one?” you muttered as you walked past a ginormous TV flanked by shelves filled with books and movies.

            “This is daddy’s office,” Tae said, pointing at a closed door after you had walked down a short hallway.  “We can’t go in there.”

            “Can’t, or shouldn’t?” you said, and Tae looked confused.

            “We can’t,” he repeated.

            “Can’t as in, it’s locked, or you’re not allowed in there?”

            “Not allowed,” Tae said, and you let go of his hand to reach for the doorknob.  “No, Y/N!  Daddy will get mad.”

            “Does he have cameras in the house?” you said, looking around at the ceiling.

            “I don’t think so,” Tae said.

            “Is the room alarmed?  Is it booby trapped?  Is there a trip wire?” you said, slowly opening the door.  Tae shook his head at each question, but his eyes were still wide in fear as you pushed the door open.  You were a little surprised at the sight.  Even though the room was dark, that was mostly because the room was windowless, and each wall was lined with soundproofing material.  A computer with two screens and various sound boards were set up on a desk.  Beside a couch against the wall, the room was pretty bare, and you made to shut the door quickly.  “What does your dad do for a living, Tae?” you finally asked, even though you had a better guess now.  Tae shrugged as he took your hand again.

            “He makes music.”

            “Ah ha,” you said.

            “This is the music room,” Tae said, freely opening the door next to his dad’s office.  The room housed a few chairs, but otherwise it was what Tae said it was, a music room.  Several guitars, a violin, a drum set, a trumpet, and a keyboard were scattered around the room.

            “Wow,” you said, a little more afraid to go into this room than the office.  “Do you play any of these, Tae?”  Tae shrugged again as he closed the door.

            “I’m too little right now.”

            “What?” you said, exasperated.  “I thought you were a big boy.  You could easily play the piano.”

            “That’s what daddy plays,” Tae said, smiling up at you.  You could have guessed, because why else would he have a grand piano in the living room, but you looked surprised, anyway.

            “I play piano, too,” you said truthfully, and Tae looked surprised this time.

            “Really?”

            “Yeah,” you said, tugging him back to the living room.  “I’ll show you.”  Letting go of his hand, you pulled out the bench and opened the piano’s lid carefully.  Not a speck of dust was to be found, and as you ran your fingers up and down the keys, each worked, and not one sounded off key.  Clearly the piano got used a lot.  Clearly the piano was loved.  You were by no means the best at piano, but Tae really didn’t seem to know anything, so you placed him by you and taught him the keys, pleased he really did know his ABC’s, and even taught him how to hold his hand over the keys and how to do a few drills.  His fingers were really too little for the keys, and he had to use a lot of force to press them down, so the sounds were jarring instead of soft, but each time he played a key correctly you told him to, he had the biggest grin on his face.  And when he messed up, his face would scrunch as he concentrated and tried again.  You couldn’t resist taking a picture and then a video of him, reassuring him the whole time that he was doing wonderful.  He seemed to eat up the praise, and you wondered how starved he was for attention.  He seemed antsy after a while, and you asked him to continue the tour but promised him you could teach him more later whenever he wanted.  Satisfied, he showed you outside, which, as he had said, was equipped with half a basketball court, a swing set, sand box, swimming pool, and yards and yards of open field.  Considering how cold it was, the pool was empty, but you spent a few minutes playing around with the various sizes of basketballs and then pushed him on the swings, relishing the screams he yelled out as he got higher.  You got tired before him, and you noticed it was already almost six o’clock, so you told him you should hurry with the tour so you could make dinner.  That plan seemed to motive him, so he dragged you back past the kitchen and pointed down the hall,

            “Gym and guest room down there.”

            “A gym, huh?”

            “Yeah, I’m not allowed in there, either.  Dad doesn’t use it much, either.  He hates exercising.”  You couldn’t resist a laugh, not really surprised at the tidbit.  Up the stairs you were met with the “second living room,” a smaller space but with an equally impressive TV.  The DVDs by it were all kids’ films, so you weren’t surprised to find Tae’s room next to it.  His room was, frankly, a mess, definitely lived-in.  A giant tree mural was painted on the wall, and there were plushies galore strewed all around.

            “Wow, buddy,” you said, standing in the doorway, “it’s, uh, really messy in here.”

            “But I know where everything is,” Tae said proudly, as if that excused everything.  His playroom was next to his room, and it was just as messy or—somehow—possibly even worst.  Tae’s favorite part of this room was his drawing table, and he showed you all of his crayon and marker and pencil drawings, which, honestly, were pretty impressive.  Most of the time with little kids you had to pretend to know what you were looking at, but most of Tae’s drawings were actually recognizable.        

            “You’re really good, Tae,” you mumbled as you sorted through his drawings.  “But this room stresses me out.  We need to clean up, buddy.”

            “Not now,” he said, pulling you back out of the room before you could make him pick anything up.  “This is daddy’s room,” he said, pointing to the room on the other side of the second living room.  As the door was already open slightly, you had no reservations in pushing it open all the way, and when you saw the state of the room, you knew immediately why Tae’s room was so messy.

            “Oh, yikes,” you said, noticing the unmade bed and various piles of clothes lying on the floor.  “Your daddy’s just as messy as you.”  Tae only giggled at that, and he moved to pull you back out of the room, but you wrenched yourself free.  “No, we’re going to clean up,” you said, but Tae shook his head.

            “Daddy will get mad,” he said, his voice strained as you made your way to the bed.

            “Well just stand there, then, I won’t rat you out.  Does he ever make his bed?”

            “Daddy says there’s no point in a made bed that you’re just going to get back into,” Tae said, his voice clearly repeating something his dad has said several times.  You tried not to snort as you pulled his silk sheets up, your nose wrinkling at all of the creases.  “And what’s with all the clothes?  Who cleans up around here?”

            “Linda comes twice a week to clean.”

            “So you have a maid?” you snorted again, your hands on your hip while you thought about what to do with the clothes.  Tae didn’t answer you, so you guessed he had shrugged non-commitedly behind you.  “Tae, do you know where your dad’s clothes hamper is?”

            “What’s a hamper?”  Tae said.

            “It’s a thing you put clothes in when they’re dirty.”  You made your way across the room to what was clearly the bathroom.  “Oh, God,” you mumbled to yourself at the state of the bathroom, “even if I didn’t know any better, it’s stereotypically obvious that a very-single man with his toddler male child live in this house.”

            “What are you doing, Y/N?” Tae said, still standing in the doorway and fiddling with the white sweater he had on.  Triumphantly, you pulled a hamper out from a giant walk-in closet and started to scurry around the room, dumping each pile of dirty clothes into it until it was overflowing.  Satisfied, you put the hamper back in the closet and went back to Tae.

            “Ready to eat?”

            “Daddy’s going to get mad,” Tae muttered, but he still took your hand and hopped back down the stairs with you.

            Dinner consisted of some meat and rice dish that you warmed up while Tae scrambled onto one of the stools by the counter.  You watched him out of the corner of your eye, and when he asked to pour his own drink, you watched him hold the apple juice container carefully.  He spilled a little as his cup moved when the first drops fell into it, but otherwise he did very well, and you made sure to tell him.  He even only filled it up halfway as you had instructed him so you could fill the rest with water.  He watched this with great suspicion, and when you put the cup back down in front of him, he had a frown on his face, but he drank it without a verbal complaint.

            “Tae,” you said as you found a pair of plates and silverware for the two of you to use.  “Do you talk to your halmeoni often?”  Tae shook his head as he put his cup down with an exaggerated “ah.”  “Do you see her often?”  He shrugged at this question, his little shoulders reaching his ears.

            “Don’t think I’ve ever met her.  Lives in Korea.”

            “I see,” you said, stopping the microwave before it beeped.  “Do you want to call her?”

            “Why?” Tae said, cocking his head.  You shrugged back at him.

            “Why not?”

            “We talk on holidays and my birthday.  Daddy doesn’t like talking to her.”

            “How do you know?”  Another shrug.  “Do you like talking to her?”  Another shrug.

            “She doesn’t know any English.”

            “Ah,” you said, putting a portion of food on Tae’s plate but keeping it out of his reach for the moment.  “Do you know Korean?”  Shrug.

            “Some.  Daddy only talks to me in Korean on Tuesdays.  Hangul hwayoil,” Tae said.

            “I bet she’d like to hear from you.  And you could practice more Korean if you talked to her.”

            “What would we talk about?” Tae asked, eyeing his plate.

            “Whatever you want,” you shrugged, finally pushing over his plate with a fork.  “Careful, it may be hot.”  His fork froze halfway to his mouth, and he blew on it a little before stuffing it in his face.  He held his fork like he was going to shovel his food in, and you walked around behind him to fix his fingers.  He seemed to not care at all as long as he could eat quickly.  You didn’t push the subject anymore, and you were suddenly glad he didn’t ask to actually call her, because you weren’t sure what your phone’s international plan was, and a call to Korea was actually probably really expensive.  When Tae’s plate was clean, you put the carton of strawberries in front of him after washing them, and by the time your few dishes were clean, he had already eaten half of them. 

            “Okay, whoa,” you said, pulling them away, “that’s enough, you’ll get sick.”  He pouted, but he seemed to be plenty full, because he climbed down off of his stool and waited for you to put everything away before climbing back upstairs.  When you noticed the time, you realized there was no way he was going to be in bed by 8:30 if you watched a movie, but it surely wasn’t that big of a deal.  So you both settled down on the couch in the second living room after he picked Cars to watch.  He made it through the first race before he started playing with the blanket you had thrown over his lap, and as you had already picked up on him fiddling with his clothes as a sign of nervousness or worry, you looked over at him.

            “What’s up, Tae?  Want to watch that part again?”  You had once babysat a kid who only liked to watch the previews and the first race of the movie over and over again, but Tae shook his head.

            “Can I—can we—can I sit by you?”

            “Of course, buddy, I’m freezing, so come here and warm me up,” you said, opening the blanket you had for him to scurry under.  The invitation seemed to cheer him up immediately, and he burrowed as close to you as he could get, pressed against your side.  Smiling, you put an arm around him, and soon you were quite warm.  “No falling asleep,” you warned after a few minutes when he got still, “otherwise I’ll tickle you.”  He shook his head frantically, his eyes not leaving the screen, and true to his head-shake he didn’t fall asleep, and for a kid, he was surprisingly quiet during the movie, only asking a few questions or making explosion noises when it seemed appropriate.  When you told him you were going to take a picture to send his dad, he threw up a perfect V sign for the selfie, leaving you laughing.  You wondered how many times he had already seen the movie, despite how shocked he seemed at each twist and turn.  It was already past 8:30 by the time the credits rolled, so you told Tae he had to take a quick bath.  He seemed to have no complaints about this, so you hurried through, wrapping him up in a towel quickly once he got out and his teeth started to chatter.  Swooping him up, making a giggle break out of him, you carried him to his room and waited for him to pick out his pajamas.  Once he was ready, he climbed into his—so, so messy—bed, a giraffe stuffed animal in his arms.

            “Want to read a book?”

            “Can’t read,” Tae muttered, his words almost muffled by the blankets he had pulled up to his face.

            “I mean I’d read you one, silly,” you said, tucking the sides of his blanket in closer to him.

            “That’s okay,” Tae said, “but I, well.”

            “Oh,” you said, snapping your fingers.  “I’ll be right back.”  You pushed yourself off your knees where you had been by his bed and rushed down to the kitchen.  There was a stack of sticky notes by the fridge, so you grabbed them and a pen and ran back to Tae.  His eyes were still trained on the door, and he seemed to relax when you came back.  Scribbling something on the notepad, you gave him a quick kiss on the forehead and then straightened back up.  Ripping off the note, you handed it down to him.  Eyeing you suspiciously, Tae pulled his arm out from under his blankets to take the note.  He looked at it for a moment until his face fell.

            “What’s this say?”

            “Well,” you said, kneeling beside him again, “remember how you need, like, a hundred kisses before bed?”  Tae nodded.  “Your dad gave you one, and I just gave you one.  So you need ninety-eight more.  See these numbers here?”  Tae nodded again. 

            “Nine and eight,” he said, pointing at them.

            “Right, ninety-eight.  And this word under here?”

            “K, I, S, S, E, S,” Tae said, pointing out each letter.

            “Yep, gosh, you’re smart.  That spells kisses.  So these are your ninety-eight kisses so you can go so sleep!”  Tae’s whole face lit up, and even his drooping eyes squinted shut as he smiled.

            “Thanks, Y/N!”

            “No problem, kid.  Sleep well.”  Once you knew his nightlight was on, you turned off his light overhead and left his door partial open.  You stood outside his door for a few minutes to see if he came out or asked for anything, but when it seemed safe, you made your way back down stairs.  Only when you walked back through the kitchen did you notice an envelope on the counter, and when you opened it you’re met with two $100 bills.

            “Shit,” you muttered, “that’s too much money.”  You pocketed it, anyway, and found a spot on the couch.  When you pulled your phone out from your back pocket, you were met with a text from Yoongi from 8:15 followed by another one at 8:42, and you couldn’t help but swallow. 

 

Mr. Yoongi (8:15PM)

Tell Tae goodnight for me

 

Mr. Yoongi (8:42PM)

Everything going oky?

 

You (9:04PM)

All good here

*Image attached*

Party fun?

 

Mr. Yoongi (9:05PM)

Yep.

He gve you any troubles?

 

You (9:06PM)
Perfect angel


Mr. Yoongi (9:06PM)

Good

Se you round midnight

 

You (9:07PM)

Okay if I fall asleep?

 

You didn’t wait for a response, because there was no way you were going to be able to stay awake, so you put your phone on the table in front of you and let yourself get comfortable.

           

            The house alarm should have gone off, you think, the moment your eyes flew open when you heard a door shutting.  Unless Yoongi shut it off.  Trying to orient yourself in the dark too quickly, you barely managed to stand up before the kitchen light flipped on, the sudden light causing you to reel.  You stuck your hand out and caught yourself on the couch, grunting softly as you pried your eyes open.

            “Nice nap?” you heard someone say, his voice low, and thankfully your brain was awake enough to know who it was that was obviously taunting you.  “Sleepin’ on the job, huh?  What if I’d been an intruder?”

            “Alarm” you mumbled as you shuffled over to the kitchen, hearing a cabinet door open before you saw it.  You heard a glass clink on the counter near you, and you slowly pried your eyes open.  Yoongi was standing there beside you, closer than you were expecting, and he tugged once on his tie with a grunt before you swatted his hand away.  “You’ll make it worse,” you said, wriggling your fingers to wake them up before untying the tight knot you had made hours ago.  He didn’t still like he had earlier, but instead reached past you to grab the glass he had set down as well as a bottle of something.  The soothing smell of trees was no longer on him.  He only smelled like alcohol.  “Think that’s a good idea?” you said when you recognized a bottle of wine in his hand.

            “Think it’s any of your business?” he grunted, and for that you tugged on his tie.  His frown grew, so you didn’t even try to protect him as you smacked his face with the end of his tie.

            “You should be able to get the rest now,” you said, letting go of his tie.  His hands flew to it, sighing as he pulled it off over his head.

            “These fucking things,” he muttered, and when he was free, he stood gaping at you as you moved away from him, his glass and the bottle in your hands.  “What are you doing?  Give that back.”

            “No,” you said, opening up the cabinets until you found the other wine glasses.  “I’m not staying the night, and Tae doesn’t need an even-more-hung-over-than-you-already-are dad to deal with in the morning.  He’s—how old is he?”

            “Four,” Yoongi grunted, his hand slapping on the counter.

            “He’s four.  You’re going to be coherent to help him and feed him and all that stuff in the morning.”

            “I can drink what I want,” Yoongi said as you put the bottle back in the wine cooler.  “Give me that bottle.”

            “Nope,” you said, coming back to stand in front of him. 

            “I paid you to take care of Tae, not me.”

            “Okay, big baby’s not asking for his bottle.  I’m not taking care of you.  I’m preemptively taking care of Tae by not letting you drink anymore.”

            “Not your business,” Yoongi said, his eyes drooping.

            “Okay,” you said, grabbing his shoulders and turning him around.  He grunted again but started to move as you pushed him gently.  “You didn’t drive tonight, did you?”

            “Driver,” he mumbled.

            “Good, otherwise I’d have to kick your ass,” you mumbled back.

            “I’m your boss, can’t kick my ass.”

            “I could, whoa, watch the steps,” you said as he almost fell in front of you.  He got quiet, thankfully, until you steered him toward his room.  Halfway across the second living room he stopped and shrugged you off.  You let him go as he shuffled over to Tae’s door.  He leaned in the doorway for a moment before grunting again and moving slowly by you.

            “Why you still here?” he said as he passed, and you followed behind him to his room where he stopped again in the doorway.  “What the,” he mumbled.  “Why?”  He whined, flat out whined when he saw his bed made and his floor clean.  You rolled your eyes and pushed him on the shoulder gently.  He jumped slightly, somehow surprised at your presence.

            “Brush your teeth.”

            “Go home, I don’t need you anymore,” Yoongi said, but he made his way to the bathroom anyway, and you waited in his doorway, rolling your eyes as you waited for him to brush his teeth, apparently use the bathroom, and change.  When the door opened again, he had managed to leave his pants off and his jacket was gone, but he was still in the process of unbuttoning his shirt, clearly struggling some.  “Fuck, why are you still here?” he groaned when he saw you.

            “Just making sure my boss doesn’t die, sir,” you said sarcastically.  He groaned again when he saw his bed and struggled to get the blanket and sheets pulled back enough to his satisfaction before he fell into his bed face first.  You watched him wiggle for a moment, resisting an urge to laugh at him or record him, and once he settled down, you entered the room just enough to pat his head.  His eyes flew open and his arm lamely tried to swat your hand away, but you withdrew it quickly and stood smiling down at him.  “Need a hundred kisses, sir?” you joked, but Yoongi only groaned and closed his eyes again.

            “Need a nanny,” he said into his sheets, his drunk voice muffled almost incomprehensibly.  “Be back tomorrow.”

            “Excuse me?” you said, because you really weren’t sure what he said.

            “Tae needs a nanny.  Be back by ten.”

            “I don’t,” you started, but Yoongi opened one of his eyes just enough to look up at you.

            “Tae needs you.  Ten.  Bye.”

            “B-bye?” you stammered, padding softly out of the room.  You checked on Tae once more, his body surrounded by pillows and plushies as he curled up, and you prayed that Yoongi had left the alarm off in his drunken state.  Thankfully, the house was quiet as you left, and beside the occasional expected clunk of your car, your drive home was quiet, too.  Even as you changed and washed up and got into bed, your own house was quiet, your dad’s snores barely audible in your own room.  It was unsarcastically quiet all around you, but your head took a long time to match the silence enough for you to fall asleep.

            Tae needed a nanny?  And Yoongi wanted it to be you?

            It seemed like a bad plan all around, but you couldn’t help but think of the $200 currently in your jacket pocket hanging off the back of your desk chair.

            If it was anything like tonight, being Tae’s nanny would be fun, easy money.

            Sadly, the kid came as a package deal, and Yoongi was clearly going to be much harder to deal with.

Chapter Text

            Sundays were usually your favorite days of the week because the shop was closed, and your dad always made biscuits and gravy from scratch, and the comics in the paper were in color.  Why weren’t the comics in color every day?  But now, as you sat at the table your dad and you had sanded and stained and fixed two years ago after you finished high school, your gravy was colliding with an already present sense of dread deep in your stomach.

            “Dad,” you said as he ruffled through the newspaper to find the sports section first, “what would you say if I found another job?”

            “I’d say how could you abandon your darling ol’ dying dad.”

            “Dad,” you groaned, ignoring his smirk, “I’m serious.”

            “What’s the job?”

            “Nannying.”

            “Nannying?  Like Mary Poppins?”

            “Do I look like Mary Poppins?”

            “Not at all,” your dad snorted, taking a long sip from his coffee.  “Are the kids brats?”

            “Just one kid, and no, he’s an angel, amazing actually.”

            “And the parents?”

            “Just a dad,” you said, stuffing your face before everything got cold.  Your own dad hummed and turned the pages of his paper before responding.

            “Pay well?”

            “Definitely.  He gave me $200 last night for a few hours.”  Your dad whistled, an activity that annoyed you greatly but you still found endearing.

            “Full-time?”

            “I’m not sure yet, I’m supposed to go discuss that today.”

            “Well, do you want the job, or is just the money?”

            “I really like the kid, dad,” you insisted, sighing as you put your fork down.  “And the money’s so good, you could hire, like, three people to replace me.”

            “No one could replace you, honey.  Who would I even hire?  Your friend Jimin?”

            “God no,” you snorted, “he’s too dainty for this.  But I’ll stay here, obviously, if you want me to.”

            “Y/N,” your dad sighed, putting his paper down and looking over at you.  He hadn’t shaved yet today, and as he had the tendency to grow a full beard in three days, his face was already speckled with black and grey tiny hairs that were sure to be itchy.  “We’re not going to have that discussion again.  I was ready for you to leave for college, and I’m ready for you to leave now if you need to.”

            “You weren’t ready,” you mumbled, but, not wanting to fight, you leaned back in your chair, something you knew your dad hated but found endearing anyway.  “And they live thirty minutes away, so it’s not like I’d be far.  I bet I could bring the kid over every day if you needed me.”

            “Y/N, do what makes you happy, yeah?  I’ll put an ad in the paper tomorrow.”

            “Ugh, dad, use the internet like every other person.”

            “Nope, only those who read the paper would be worthy of working in our shop.”

            “Okay dad,” you said, picking up your plate and his.  You dropped a kiss on the top of his head before dumping the dishes in the sink.  “At least check your phone later when I text you, yeah?”

            “I don’t even know what a phone is,” your dad joked, waving you off.

            “Thanks for breakfast, dad, I’ll see you later.”

 

            Somehow, for some reason, even though you had seen the house just yesterday, it seemed more looming in the morning.  You wondered for a moment when you pulled up if you should text, see if Yoongi even remembered asking you to come by, but the thought of surprising him when he was hungover was a little too exciting, so you tried to hide your grin as you rang the doorbell at ten.  Like yesterday, the door flew open to reveal Tae, still in his pajamas, his face covered in what looked like flour, and his hair sticking up in all directions.

            “Y/N!” he screamed like a banshee.

            “Tae,” you said calmly, “are you supposed to answer the door without your dad?”  A look of shock and the door was closed again in your face.  Soon you heard Tae yelling and then someone groaning before the door opened again, slowly, to reveal Yoongi, who didn’t look any better than he had last night.  He had sweatpants on, but he didn’t even have a shirt on, and he shivered when the cold air came in behind you, so he waved you in frantically and shut the door quickly behind you once you scurried inside.  Unable to resist him any longer, you bent down and picked Tae up, who giggled and pressed his dirty face against yours.

            “Why are you so dirty?” you said, and Tae poked your nose, causing you to wiggle it like a bunny, as you walked him over to the kitchen.

            “We made pancakes.  But we gotta be quiet, because daddy’s sick,” Tae whispered.

            “Oh, he is, huh?” you said, putting the boy down on the counter and watching his dad shuffle back over to a stool.  “Is he always sick in the mornings?”  You didn’t feel particularly bad about subtlety asking the guy’s kid if he was an alcoholic, even if maybe you should have.

            “Every Sunday,” Tae responded, and you hummed again as you took in the state of the kitchen.  In short, it was a mess.  Making sure Tae was safe, you grabbed the pot of coffee and found yourself a cup, making sure to refill Yoongi’s in the process.  He grunted, perhaps as a form of thanks or simply acknowledgment or maybe surprise.

            “So, Mr. Min,” you said, “about what you asked last night.”  Yoongi raised a finger as he hovered over his coffee, the steam hitting his face, before he sat up.

            “Tae,” he said, his voice extremely gravelly and groggy, “go play upstairs for a bit, yeah?  I need to talk to Miss Y/N.”

            “Okay, daddy,” Tae said, hopping down from the counter.  You held your breath as he did so, but he seemed perfectly fine as he ran out of the room.  You could hear him clamoring up the stairs as you sat on a stool next to Yoongi.

            “So, Tae needs a nanny?” you said.  Yoongi nodded.  “What happened this last one?  Did she try to kick her boss’ ass?”  Yoongi glared at you for that.  “Or, do something else with your ass?”

            “No,” Yoongi said firmly.  “Tae’s just.  He’s a hard kid to deal with.”

            “Tae?  The Tae who was just in here?  Is there an evil twin he has that I don’t know of?”

            “Just the one,” Yoongi groaned.  “He just throws these awful tantrums sometimes.  Screaming, kicking, biting, and no one can put up with him for long enough, I guess.”

            “Biting?” you said slowly, and Yoongi nodded.  “Has he ever bit you?”

            “Oh, yeah, not a pleasant experience,” Yoongi grunted, something like a chuckle leaving his mouth. 

            “Are you sure it’s his tantrums that make the nannies quit?”

            “What else could it be?”

            “Oh, I don’t know, you, maybe?” you said, and you waited as he stared at you, blinking his tired eyes a few times before he sighed.

            “I don’t exactly help the situation, I know,” he sighed, and you tried not to react as he took another sip of his coffee, because that really wasn’t the answer you were expecting.  “Look, we could do a trial run.  It’s just, she quit two weeks ago, and I’ve already interviewed three people, and Tae hated all of them, and while maybe I, as the adult, should just say, no, this is who your nanny is, so deal with it, I-I can’t do that.  And I’m getting so behind in work, I can’t watch him all day, I just can’t.”

            “Can’t, or you won’t?” you said softly, but when Yoongi looked at you, you just shrugged.

            “So I know it’s sudden, but I’m a little desperate,” he continued.  “The nannies have always been live-in, down in the guest room, because I have weird, late hours.  I guess, if you want to stay at home, we can arrange—”

            “That’s fine,” you said, waving him off, “I already talked to my dad, so I can move in here, sure.”

            “Really?” Yoongi said, and, if you didn’t know any better, you might think he really did sound desperate.

            “Really, Tae’s great.  I’ll be glad to help.  Plus, you seem to pay really well, so that’s nice.”  Yoongi snorted lightly at that as he sat up, arching his back and rolling his neck.

            “He’ll be so excited, like, he may puke,” Yoongi muttered.

            “Has he done that before?” you said, your eyes wide.  Yoongi nodded but then shook his head.

            “Not a story for right now.”

            “Yeah, good idea,” you said, noticing how pale he was and not wanting to upset his stomach any more than it probably was.  He was always covered up so much in his black clothes that you had only ever seen his face and his hands, but his entire body was pale, certainly lighter than Tae’s.  “Look, we can finalize everything later, when you feel better, yeah?  I need to know about payment and benefits.  Like, do I get dental?”

            “No.”

            “Any insurance?”

            “Uh, no.”

            “Okay.  Lame, but I can deal.  I need to know about who can come and go, like who might show up, like girlfriends or friends or family, who Tae knows, who his friends are.  I need to know his schedule, his activities, all of that, okay?  And rules.  One movie a day and bed by 8:30, that I got, but what else, you know?”

            “Yeah, yeah,” Yoongi said, “all that.  He.  He doesn’t really have any friends, honestly.  And, no,” Yoongi stared at you for a moment, “no girlfriends.  I don’t have many friends, either, but I’ll get you a list.  You’ll meet our driver and maid, at some point.  And yeah, a schedule, sure.”

            “And rules,” you said, when he had paused long enough.

            “Sure, yeah, rules.  Look, I’m gonna,” Yoongi said, pointing down the hall.

            “Sure, sure,” you said, hopping off the stool.  “Do you need anything?”

            “No,” Yoongi said, taking his cup with him, but you still got a glass of water before following him slowly down the hall and up the stairs.  You could hear Tae in his playroom or his room, mumbling to himself, as you followed Yoongi to his room.  He seemed surprised you were right behind him as he climbed back into bed.  He rolled away from you as you put the water on his bed stand and grunted when you patted his head before closing his door.

            Tae, it turned out, was in his playroom, setting up each of his plushies along the wall and talking to each of them in a small, serious voice.  You just leaned in the doorway for several minutes, watching him play by himself until he finally noticed you.

            “Y/N,” he almost shrieked, but then he shrunk down a little as he went back to whispering, “we’re having a competition.”

            “Oh?” you said, entering the room and trying not to step on anything, which, it turned out, was like trying to be Indiana Jones and not activate any death traps.  “What’s the competition?”

            “We’re making a band, so everyone has to sing, dance, and play an instrument to see if they get in.”

            “Oh, cut throat,” you said, finally finding a spot to sit down in.  Tae nodded enthusiastically, and so for a while you watched him play and acted as a judge when he instructed you to.  Sadly, the hippo was cut in the first round, followed soon by the hedgehog (a real shame, he was a personal favorite), and then, as a surprise to everyone, the bunny got sick and had to drop out, and then it was revealed that the lion had been cheating (how one cheats at singing, you aren’t sure, but what Tae says, goes) and was escorted out of the building by security.  Overall, it was a wild ride, and you wondered how often Tae watched similar shows on TV by how thorough he was in his play.  The giraffe ended up winning, and if you felt safe enough to cry “bias,” you would have, but Tae seemed happy as he held his favorite toy, praising it. 

            “His long neck helps him hit the high notes,” he explained when you asked why he was the winner, and thus everything made sense.  He wanted to watch a movie next, so while you told him it would have to be quiet because his dad was sleeping, he still agreed and settled in close to you from the beginning as you put in Moana.  He wasn’t joking about it being his (current) favorite movie, because while most of his words weren’t comprehensible, he “sang” along to each song.  He was, in short, adorable, and it took everything in you to not smoother him in kisses every time he smiled up at you.

            So, when the credits started to roll, and he asked to play another movie, you felt a little bad when you had to say no.  But when he asked, no, demanded, again, you braced yourself for what you were sure was about to happen.

            “Tae, you only get to watch one movie a day,” you said, as if explaining things rationally to a child was going to help.

            “But I wanna watch Mulan,” Tae said, scooting away from you.

            “I hear you, but you can’t.  We already watched Moana.

            “But I want to,” he said, as if that ended the argument.

            “But you can’t,” you said, and, trying another tactic, Tae scrambled out of the blankets and made his way to the DVDs.  “Tae,” you warned, “no more movies.”  You picked up the remote from the nearby table and turned off the TV.  When Tae noticed, he turned around quickly and glared at you.  He clearly had his angry face on, one you hadn’t seen before, and he slowly reached behind him blindly for a DVD.  “Tae, don’t do that,” you said, knowing what he was about to do.  He did it, anyway, grabbing the DVD and, without even looking at it, dropped it on the floor behind him.  Part of you wanted to laugh at how serious he looked, but you knew he was just testing you, so you couldn’t crack.  Still, as he did it again, he really did look hilarious, though you knew he soon wouldn’t.  You stood up, and he flinched slightly, but then resumed.  He had pulled five DVDs off of the shelf by the time you got to him, and when he reached for another one, you reached for his arm and took his tiny wrist in your hand.

            And then all hell broke loose.

            The screams hit you first, and while you had heard Tae scream before, it had always been screams of joy and excitement.  This was of rage.  It sounded like he was in great pain, as if you were trying to wring his arm off instead of just make him stop making a mess.  And you had encountered screaming kids before.  One time this kid had screamed so much he literally cut his own throat and then promptly fell asleep.  Tae’s scream was piercing, and for a moment you thought about how his dad was sure to wake up now, but Tae’s flailing arms were distracting you too much.

            His arms, while little, still hurt when they smacked you, and, on instinct, you covered your face as his tiny fists pummeled you.  You had squatted down in front of him as you always tried to do, to make sure you were on his level, and you just let him hit you a few times while he screamed incoherently.  When his fists seemed to slow down, you pulled your hands away from your face and grabbed both of his wrists to hold down his arms.  This only resulted in him screaming more and trying to kick you which caused him to fall on his bottom.

            “Tae,” you pleaded, trying to keep your voice calm, “please stop.  You’re going to hurt yourself.”  But his little face just scrunched up more as he wailed.

            “I w-wa I wa-anna!” he screamed.

            “I know, buddy,” you said, running a hand down his arm to try to calm him, “but we can’t.”

            “W-w-wh—”

            “Tae, breathe, please.”

            “Wh-wh-why?” he cried.

            “Because you need air to live.  But also, because we already watched a movie, and,” you said, as he screamed again, causing you to tighten your grip on his arms, “but now we can go do other things like play outside and color and—”

            “Don’t wanna!” he screamed, and, sighing, you let go of him for a moment.  Seeing his opportunity, he pushed you, hard for a four-year-old, causing you to fall backwards on your butt.  You sat there for a moment and watched him scream and start to tear out DVDs again, and when you said his name again and he turned around to kick you, you had had it.

            “Okay, Tae, that’s enough,” you said, and without any warning you stood up.  He hiccupped once, trying to figure out what you were going to do, but you wrapped one of your arms around his waist and the other around his legs and picked him up, upside down, and carried him to the couch.  He gasped again, clearly surprised, and when you sat down and lay him over your knees, he started to try to thrash around again, but you pushed down on his back firmly and without a word brought your other hand down hard on his bottom.

            He gasped once and his whole tiny body shook once, and then he went limp.  His face was pressed into the couch, his chest heaving on your legs, and his own little feet went still where they had previously been kicking at a pillow.  You took a deep breath and lifted your hand off of his back, and the moment you did so he broke out into a sob, a real sob, not screaming, just crying, and you hurried to pick him up under his arms and reposition him so he lay against your chest, his head on your shoulder.  You wrapped your arms around him as he cried, running your hands up and down his back as you worked to calm him down.

            “Shh, Tae, you’re okay, it’s okay,” you said over and over again, caressing his hair and kissing his head.  You sat there for what felt like hours, your legs going numb under his weight, your shirt soaked with his tears, until he finally seemed to breathe normally.  His little arms were still flung around your neck, and he wouldn’t look up at you even when you asked, but he seemed to stop crying, so you kissed his head again and rubbed circles on his back a few times.  “Tae,” you said gently, “do you feel better now?”

            “N-no,” he hiccupped, “h-hurts.”

            “Aw, I’m sorry,” you said, patting his bottom gently.  He flinched slightly before burrowing his head deeper into your neck, which made you chuckle.  “Do you know why I spanked you?”

            “N-no,” he said.

            “Really?” you said, stilling your hand.  You waited until his shoulders shrugged to continue rubbing his back.  “Do you know what you did wrong?”          

            “W-wanted to w-watch a mo-ovie,” he said, and you nodded against his head.

            “And we had already watched one.  What else?”

            “I-I,” he said, sighing too heavily for a four-year-old, “I got mad.”

            “Yeah, a real Hulk smash, you are,” you laughed.  “You hit me a lot.”

            “I-I’m s-sor—” he tried, but a new rush of tears broke them him.

            “Hey, Tae, I forgive you,” you said, finally peeling him away from you and sitting him back on your lap.  He hung his head, refusing to look at you, even when you ran your fingers through his hair and over his face, trying to wipe his tears away.  “I forgive you, but you were wrong to hit me.  Do you know what else you did that was wrong?”  He shrugged and then shuddered.  “You made a huge mess of the DVDs,” you said, pointing past him to the floor.  He started to look but then just hung his head again.

            “I’m s-s-sorry,” he managed, and you cupped his face and pressed a bunch of kisses on his forehead.

            “I forgive you,” you whispered.  “You did three bad things, Tae, did you know?”  A weak nod.  “That’s a lot of bad things.”  Another weak nod.  “Do you think I should spank you three times?”  A furious head shake.  “Okay, one’s enough?”  A desperate nod.  “Okay, one’s enough,” you said, hugging him against you again.  “What about kisses?” you said, and when he didn’t respond, you grabbed his legs and titled him away from you so his back was lying on the couch and you hovered over him.  He had to look up at you, now, and his red, puffy eyes almost made you cry.  He even tried to hide his face with one of his hands, but you pulled his arm away so you could see him.  “How many kisses do you need to feel all better?” you asked, smiling down at him.  He looked away for a moment but lay still before lifting up three of his fingers.  “Three kisses?  That’s it?”  A shy nod.  “I don’t think that’s enough kisses,” you said, before promptly reaching down to pepper kisses all over his face, neck, head, ears, chest, arms, and even his stomach.  That made him absolutely squeal, but a familiar scream of joy that you wanted to always hear.  He was giggling by the time you leaned away from him, grinning, and then he sighed heavily again as he looked up at you.  “Want to take a nap?” you said, and he nodded again, so you scooped him up, being sure to grab his favorite giraffe, and proceeded to tuck him into his bed.  He had gone quiet and complacent and curled up immediately and closed his eyes, so, after pressing another kiss to his forehead, you crept out of his room, making sure to leave the door slightly open.

            And saw Yoongi standing across the second living room leaning against his doorframe with his arms folded across his chest.

            “Y-” you started.

            “I’ll meet you downstairs,” he said, turning back to his room.  Sighing, you shuffled across the room and plodded down the steps, embarrassed that you were about to get fired before even officially getting hired.  It had only been about three hours since you had gotten there, and you had already royally fucked everything up.  Trying not to sigh, you slumped onto a bar stool in the kitchen and poked at your shirt that had become disgusting during Tae’s tantrum.  Soon, Yoongi emerged around the corner, fully dressed and looking much more alive than he had that morning.  Without a word he started to make another pot of coffee, and only when it was done, you had refused some, and he had poured himself another cup did he begin.

            “So,” he said.

            “God, I am so sorry,” you mumbled.  “We tried to be quiet, but then he wanted to watch another movie, and I said no, so he screamed, and—”

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said, and you raised your head, realizing too late you had hung it in shame like Tae had done, “it’s okay.  After he screamed I woke up.  I mean, who wouldn’t.  That kid could wake the dead, aka, me, but I saw the whole thing.”

            “Oh my God, I am so sorry, I should not have spanked him, we didn’t even talk about—”

            “Y/N, calm down, it’s fine.  I, I can’t say I’ve ever spanked him,” Yoongi said, taking a sip of his coffee, “so I was a little surprised, but it seemed to work.  I’d never seen him come down so quickly.”

            “I, but, I mean, what do you usually do?”  Yoongi shrugged.

            “Usually people just let him ride it out or put him in his room so he can be a little hurricane.  One nanny smacked him once,” Yoongi gritted, and you almost gasped.

            “No.”

            “Yep, right on the face, so she was gone in a hot second.  Um, another one would just give in all the time.  Like I said, his tantrums are what does it for most nannies.”

            “Well, I’m still sorry,” you mumbled.  “I should’ve checked with you first.”

            “Really, it’s fine.  I’m glad it worked.  Tae’s…Tae’s a good kid,” Yoongi said, putting his cup down.  “Really, and he responds really well to authority.  Usually.  So you’ve put your foot down.  I’ll be surprised if he tests you again anytime soon.”  You hummed and nodded, relaxing a little.

            “I hope he doesn’t,” you muttered.  “That was intense.”

            “Don’t I know it,” Yoongi sighed, and when you looked up at him, he was staring off into the back yard.  “The kisses were a nice touch,” he said, still not looking at you, and you hummed again.  “Overall, you really did handle it well.  I guess I should say sorry he had such a major meltdown on your first day, but now you know what you’re getting yourself into.  So,” he said, looking at you again, “still up for being his nanny?”

            “Yeah,” you answered in a heartbeat, “yeah, of course Mr. Min.”

            “Great,” he said, “let’s go get all the paperwork done while he naps.  First thing,” he said, as he grabbed his coffee again and started toward his office, “stop calling me that.  It’s Yoongi.  I’m not even ten years older than you, so that makes me feel old or like I’m in a business meeting.  I’m not Mr. Min in my own home.  Also,” he said, stopping outside of his door, “the answer is yes, we do have cameras in the house, so I’ll show you all of those.”

            “Oh,” you said, but instead of feeling like you were in trouble, you felt like you were in on some great secret, so you simply smiled at him as he walked into his office.

            “And,” he said, gesturing at the couch for you to sit down on as he powered up his computer, “I’m going to need you to put up that bird house asap.  You didn’t do it yesterday, and I swear that kid won’t let me live.”

            “Alright, Mr. Yoongi,” you said, just to annoy him, and you were rewarded with an eye roll as he turned around in his chair, “I think I can handle that.”

            Yeah, tantrum Tae and Min Yoongi?  You got this.

Chapter Text

            Tae, you came to learn, was a loud kid.  And Yoongi, as he said, did have weird, late hours.  It took you a few days to officially move in, even though you still left most of your stuff at your dad’s, and while you were afraid everything would be awkward, nothing was.  Yoongi, in fact, barely even seemed to acknowledge your presence whenever you did manage to see him.  He seemed to emerge more on Tuesday, and when he actually greeted you and you didn’t understand him, you remembered Tae had said something about speaking Korean one day a week.  Needless to say, it was a confusing day, because Tae, like a true champ, obeyed his dad even when it was just the two of you.  By the end of the day his patience was definitely worn out with you, but you had learned a lot of Korean words.  The most important, of course, was “gilin,” or, giraffe.  The whole time you thought Tae had named his pet “Kiran,” but apparently he just called his giraffe “giraffe” in Korean, and Tae never looked more like a four-year-old in that moment.  Tae, you soon learned, was also an emotional kid full of wonder with a huge imagination and a million questions a day.  Thankfully he seemed to understand your humor, though you always made sure he knew when you were joking if he started taking you seriously (“No, Tae, the birds don’t have to pay rent to stay in your bird house, I promise, I was just kidding”).  He also loved to eat.  Made amazing messes.  Hated to clean up said messes.  Was smart, talented, and surprised you every day.  Yoongi, however, was not surprising you.  He rarely came out of his office, and when he did it was usually just to get coffee.  He never sat down with you both to eat but made sure to say goodnight to Tae, and his presence in the house already felt like a weird ghost and you hadn’t even been there for a week. 

            You were, to be short, annoyed.

            That was why, when Thursday rolled around, you watched as, after Tae asked what time it was, he struggled to get his shoes on and then ran downstairs to wait in the main living room, bouncing on his feet.  You put on your shoes, too, though you weren’t sure what was happening, and then, almost exactly at two, Yoongi came out of his office and actually smiled when he saw Tae, a small, tightlipped, smile, but a smile.

            “Ready, buddy?” he said calmly.

            “Yes, daddy!”  You followed quietly, out the door and to the car, and you all piled in the back for the driver—JaeEun, a silent, older Korean man who hadn’t spoken a word to you yet—to take you away.  Tae rambled the whole time, constantly talking to his dad and seemingly forgetting your very existence.  You didn’t mind, though, not with how enamored he seemed to be with his dad, who actually hadn’t looked at his phone once and was nodding at everything Tae said.  The destination, it turned out, was the library.  It was Thursday, you realized too late.  Thursday afternoons were library days.  Once you arrived, Yoongi sat at a table and immediately got to work while Tae browsed the kids’ section.  You went to check in with Jimin, who hadn’t stopped raising his eyebrows since you entered.

            “You actually took the job?” he almost hissed when you got close enough.

            “Yeah, so?  How’d you know?”

            “Your dad called asking me if I needed work,” Jimin rolled his eyes, and you laughed.

            “Don’t work for my dad,” you said.

            “Wouldn’t dream of it.  I can barely tell the difference between a hammer and a screwdriver.”  You opened your mouth to instruct the idiot, but he cut you off.  “So how’s it going?”

            “Alright,” you shrugged.  “The kid’s great.  The dad’s aloof.  The pay’s excellent.  I miss my dad, so I think next week I’ll take Tae to go visit.  I’m just trying to settle in and observe this week as much as possible.”

            “Uh huh, okay, so, since I know you didn’t,” Jimin said, pulling out his phone, “I looked up your creepy new boss, and apparently he’s this big shot music producer.  Like, works with RM.”

            “I don’t know who that is,” you said, but when Jimin showed you a picture, your face lit up and you struggled to keep your voice down.  “Wait, RM?  Like, your crush since middle school, RM?”

            “I did not,” Jimin hiss, “have a crush on him in middle school.  He wasn’t even rapping when we were in middle school.  I didn’t even know you in middle school.”

            “All moot points,” you said dismissively.  “But I guess that would explain why he’s so rich.  Cool.”

            “Cool?” Jimin said, eyeing you closely.  “Y/N, the guy is big news.  Like, most people don’t know his face, because he works behind the scene and produces, doesn’t perform, but anyone in the industry would know his name.  It’s a huge deal that you work for him.”

            “I don’t really, though,” you said slowly.  “I work for Tae more so.”

            “Oh, what’s it like having a four-year-old for a boss?”

            “So great,” you sighed.  “The other day we argued about what was better, apples or strawberries.  The kid made a lot of great points, but I’m never going to let him win.”

            “You’re ridiculous,” Jimin sighed.

            “Says the man with posters of RM on his wall.”

            “I do not,” Jimin hissed, lowering his head when his boss looked his way, “have posters of RM on my wall.”

            “Anymore,” you joked, tousling his hair.  “Anyhow.”

            “Just, be careful, is all,” Jimin said, running his hand through his hair to fix his perfect locks as you cocked your head at him.

            “What’s that supposed to mean?”

            “I mean, he’s really rich and powerful.  If you mess up or hurt his kid, he could sue your ass all the way to China.”

            “I would never hurt Tae,” you said seriously.  Jimin only shrugged and turned around to do some work before his boss’ glare burned right through him.

            You really were not worried about getting sued by Min Yoongi, but you did wonder, once Jimin said that, if the previous nannies had been, especially the one who had hit Tae.  You wondered, just briefly, what it would take to upset Yoongi enough to want to sue anyone.  He seemed chill and stoic to the point of apathetic and lethargic sometimes.  You had never seen him riled up or angry.  He had never lost his patience with Tae in front of you, either.  Granted, he wasn’t around Tae enough to lose his patience with him, in your opinion, but still.  You all left the library with smiles, Yoongi smiling at the book Tae was already trying to read through on the way back, Tae smiling as he pointed out each picture and asked for help to read the captions, and you as you watched Yoongi finally interacting with his son.

 

            Tae, you had learned in the past week, was an easily excited kid.  His dad had finally told you the story where he was so excited to see a movie that he threw up on the way there, and he had, apparently, on more than one occasion, gotten so excited or immersed in playing that he had peed his pants even after being potty trained.  So on Saturday when ‘Linda (Melinda, but Tae called her ‘Linda) was there cleaning the house and various other random people started coming in and out of the house around lunch time, Yoongi sat down next to Tae at the table where he was trying to eat his sandwich while also observe everything that was going on around him.  Tae had already asked you countless times what was going on, but, as you had no clue, you had simply told him,

            “I have no clue,” so you sat next to him and waited for his dad to explain.

            “Tae,” Yoongi said, tapping the table by Tae’s plate to get his attention.  The kid’s eyes were as wide as a fly’s.  You couldn’t imagine what he would be like on caffeine, because the kid looked as hyper as three chihuahuas at the moment already.  “Tae, tonight I’m having a party.”

            “A party?” Tae squeaked, sitting up in his chair.

            “Don’t talk with your mouth full,” you mumbled before taking a bite of your own sandwich to hide your smile.

            “An adult party,” Yoongi clarified, and Tae visibly deflated.  “But Uncle Hobi and Seokjin are coming by in a bit to see you beforehand.”

            “Uncle Hobi and Jinjin?” Tae squealed again, sitting up and bouncing a little in his chair.  You tried not to choke on your sandwich as you smiled.

            “Yeah buddy, so you can play with them for a bit, but then you’re going to have to stay upstairs with Y/N after dinner, okay?”

            “With Uncle Hobi and Jinjin?”

            “No, they’ll be downstairs here, with me.”

            “Oh,” Tae said, and suddenly his sandwich became extremely interesting again as he stuffed it into his mouth.

            “It’s almost Seokjin’s birthday, and you know what I think he’d really like?  If you make him a card or something,” Yoongi said, brushing his son’s hair out of his face so he didn’t eat it with his sandwich.  Tae only nodded, so Yoongi turned to you, so you raised your eyebrows over your sandwich to indicate you were listening.  “I’m hoping seeing them beforehand will placate him well enough.  Everyone else won’t get here until around seven, so you could just watch a movie and then go to bed.  If he really, really needs anything, you can come down and get it, but I’d rather him stay upstairs.”

            “Got it,” you said.  “An adult party.  Like an adult adult party, or?”

            “What?” Yoongi said, blinking, and then, understanding your question, he pushed his chair back as he stood up.  “God, no, why would you—just adults, geez, Y/N.”

            “Sorry boss,” you shrugged, not really apologetic.  He seemed to know this because he rolled his eyes before patting Tae on the head one more time before retreating to his lair—his office.

            Tae, you learned, when on a mission, would complete said mission to the best of his ability with as much seriousness as his four-year-old body could muster.  Currently he needed to make a card for his Uncle (not really his Uncle, but an Uncle figure, apparently) for his birthday.  This consisted of two ruined cards crumbled up in the corner, clearly not good enough quality for Tae, and a third one consisting of giraffes.  Just a bunch of giraffes.  But they were well done, and he explained that Uncle Jinjin “has big shoulders,” so the giraffes made perfect sense.  He asked you to write a message for him, and then he signed his own name in English and Korean, which baffled you, but you were starting to stop being surprised at Tae surprising you. 

            Waiting for his uncles to arrive was the hardest part, apparently, so you spent the rest of the time outside, trying to burn off as much energy as possible until finally five rolled around, and you found yourself at the front of the house, Tae’s nose pressed against the glass.

            “Daddy, Uncle Hobi’s late,” Tae pouted, and Yoongi, sitting on the couch behind you with a glass of wine in one hand and his phone in his other hand, only laughed.

            “When is he not?” he said, and you put a comforting hand on Tae’s back as he continued to wait.  When he started to bounce a little, you looked out to see a cobalt blue car pulling up, and Tae bolted for the door.  Before he opened it, you cleared your throat, and he slumped, releasing the handle and stepping back a few steps.  A low chuckle came from behind you, and you watched as Yoongi came up behind Tae and opened the door, letting him run out.  As Yoongi stood there by the door, you noticed how nicely he was dressed.  Not quite a suit, but slacks and a nice button-up shirt, polished shoes, and you looked down at your ripped jeans with new markings from the card-making experience, and your loose sweater that probably had five stains on it, and you couldn’t help the sigh that escaped your lips as you stood up to wait by the door.

            “Alright?” Yoongi said when you got up, and you blinked at him before nodding.  “Don’t be nervous,” he continued, “Hoseok and Seokjin are the two nicest guys you’ll ever meet.  Like, they are the loudest and most annoying individuals I know, bu—Hoseok!  Seokjin!” Yoongi cried, opening the door wider.  Two men in the loudest, most vibrant suits you had ever seen, one covered in flowers, the other in a strange zigzag pattern, came rumbling up the front walk swinging Tae in between them who was giggling like a madman.  You sent a brief prayer that he just wouldn’t pee as you stepped aside so they could all three come in.

            “Yoongi!” the slightly shorter man in the zigzag suit said, his hair a flaming red and his smile bright.  “The place looks as bleak and dead as usual!”

            “Nice to see you, too, Hoseok,” Yoongi muttered, closing the door and keeping the cold out.  “Happy birthday, Jin.”

            “Aw, you shouldn’t have,” the taller man said, letting go of Tae and the other man to wrap his extremely long arms around Yoongi.  Yoongi grunted slightly and held still while the man literally raised him off of the ground. 

            “I didn’t,” Yoongi muttered, but when the taller man let him down and pressed a kiss to his temple, his face relaxed a little.

            “Uncle Hobi, Uncle Hobi,” Tae said, tugging at the man’s pants, “this is Y/N.”

            “Oh, yeah,” Yoongi said, remembering himself and you, apparently. “Y/N, this is Hoseok, or Uncle Hobi, and Seokjin, or Jin.”

            “Uncle Jinjin,” Tae said, nodding solemnly.

            “It’s nice to meet you both,” you said, bowing slightly, and you tried not to jump backwards when Jin clapped his hands loudly and laughed even louder.

            “Are you the new nanny?” he said, a look of glee in his eyes.

            “Uh, yeah, I mean, yes sir,” you mumbled.

            “God, Yoongi, what did you do to her?” Hoseok grinned, already making his way to the kitchen to pour himself a drink.

            “I didn’t do anything,” Yoongi said, following him.  “She’s usually just as annoying as you two.”

            “Wha—” you started, but Jin laughed again and threw his arm around your shoulders and pushed Tae on his back to walk you all to the kitchen.  Tae hadn’t been lying about the man’s shoulder, and you had never considered yourself short, but next to him you suddenly felt like a child.  Beside, his face was too attractive to be legal, and it was so close to yours, you forgot how to swallow for a moment.

            “No one is as annoying as us, dear,” Jin said, poking your nose once.

            “Are you already drunk?” Yoongi groaned as he poured them all a drink.

            “It’s my birthday, I can do what I want!” Jin shouted triumphantly, letting go of you to raise his arms over his head and wiggle them back and forth a few times.

            “It’s not even your actual birthday,” Yoongi grumbled.

            “As long as you don’t cry,” Hoseok said.

            “Can do what I want,” Jin said, winking down at Tae, who giggled back up at him.

            “How are you, kiddo?” Hoseok asked, swooping down to twirl Tae around before putting him up on the counter.  Tae proceeded to ramble about seemingly everything he had ever done, and you couldn’t help but smile as Hoseok nodded along, smiling as he watched the young boy wave his hands around.

            “Here,” you heard Seokjin say, and you turned to see him handing you a glass of wine.

            “Oh, uh, I’m only twenty,” you said, trying to smile politely.

            “Sh—shoot, Yoongi, they’re getting younger and younger,” Hoseok laughed, poking his friend in the ribs with his elbow.  Jin gave you a kind smile before putting the glass down, but then he made his way to the fridge, rummaged around for a moment, and pulled out Tae’s apple juice.

            “Can’t not drink for a toast,” he said, his smile making you a little queasy, but you smiled back and waited for him to pour you and Tae a drink.  When Tae got his, he held it with both hands, being careful not to spill it, but looked disapprovingly at it.

            “Uncle Jinjin,” he said seriously, “you’re only supposed to fill it up halfway so Y/N can put water in it.”

            “Oh, shoot kid,” Jin said, his whole body shaking as he laughed, “at least you’ve trained her well.”  You tried not to bristle at the word as you watched him pour some of the juice back in the container.  When he handed you the now half-full glass, you smiled sweetly and filled the rest with water.  Once everyone had their drinks, Yoongi raised his glass and cleared his throat.

            “To Seokjin, who has somehow made it through another year without dying from a laughing attack.”

            “That would be a good way to go,” Jin muttered, clinking his glasses with everyone.

            “To Jin,” Hoseok said, standing close to the man and wrapping one of his arms around him, “my loud partner both in and out of the bedroom.”  As if to prove his point, Jin laughed obnoxiously before clinking glasses again before swooping down to leave a wet kiss on Hoseok’s forehead.

            “Guys, my kid doesn’t need to hear that,” Yoongi muttered.

            “Does Uncle Jinjin snore like Uncle Joon?” Tae said, sipping his juice politely.  Hoseok and Jin shared another laugh, each leaning in to each other and holding on to the counter.

            “Something like that,” Hoseok said, ruffling Tae’s hair when he caught his breath.

            “Okay, to Uncle Jinjin,” Tae said, and you all watched him expectantly, “who gives the best piggy back rides.”

            “He is fun to ride,” Hoseok mumbled, and Jin smacked him weakly on the arm before crashing his cup into Tae’s, a little bit of juice escaping.  After that, they were suddenly all looking at you, and you cleared your throat and raised your glass.

            “Uh, to Seokjin, who I literally just met but has a great fashion sense.”

            “Hell yeah I do,” Jin said, ramming your glass and then drowning the rest of his drink.  You slowly worked on finishing your drink as you watched the four of them interact, suddenly feeling like an intruder.  When Tae waved you over to whisper in your ear to go get Uncle Jinjin’s card, you nodded solemnly and appreciated the small task.  By the time you came back downstairs, everyone had moved to the table, and you gave Tae his card to deliver himself.  He did with a huge smile on his face, and Jin immediately took him into his lap to observe the card, praising each giraffe (“It’s a gaggle of giraffe!” “A gaggle is for crows, Jin.”  “I’ll gaggle you.” “That makes no sense.”  “You make no sense, Yoon-yoon.”  “Don’t call me that, please.”  “It’s my birthday, I’ll do what I want.”  “You do what you want even not on your birthday.”  “Damn straight.”) and giving Tae what looked like a thousand kisses on his head as his thank you.  The various strangers who had been in and out of the house earlier seemed to appear again, and soon they all made sense as food was placed on the table.  Tae scurried back to his own seat and patted the one beside you that you took awkwardly.  The three men were clearly old friends, their banter easy and their discussion mostly about music but about a variety of other topics, too, and the whole dinner only made you feel more out of place.  Before you knew it, it was almost seven, and you stood up to collect everyone’s plates, even though Yoongi narrowed his eyes at you while you did so.

            “Tae,” you said, coming back to stand by the kid’s chair, “it’s almost time to go upstairs, so make sure you say goodnight to everyone.”

            “But I want to stay down here,” Tae said, looking up at you.  You sat down on the chair beside him and leaned in close, feeling everyone’s eyes on the two of you.

            “Tae,” you whispered, “you remember what daddy said earlier?  Your uncles came early to see you, but now we have to go upstairs so they can have their party.  We can watch a movie and have our own party upstairs.”

            “Can we have cake?” Tae said, and you internally groaned.

            “It’s too late for cake,” you said, watching the boy’s face fall, “but tomorrow we can make cookies.  How’s that sound?”

            “Not as good as cake,” Tae said.

            “Honestly, I agree, but it’s what we’re gonna do, okay, kid?” you said, pressing your forehead against his.  He sighed, his breath smelling of apple juice as it hit your face and making your nose wrinkle.  “Maybe if you ask nicely, Uncle Jin will give you a piggy back ride upstairs?”  Tae laughed at the idea and scurried to get up and go over to his Uncle’s chair and ask for just that.  The man agreed readily with another laugh, and soon Tae was on his back, holding on tight.  All three men followed you upstairs, actually, and soon Tae was thrown on the couch and suffering from Hoseok’s tickle attack.  He pulled back just when you were afraid Tae really would pee himself now.  They all took turns giving the boy goodnight kisses, and, to your surprise, Jin grabbed your head and pressed a kiss on top of your head before he went out.  Yoongi rolled his eyes and Hoseok laughed again as the tramped back down the stairs, and you stood there reeling before Tae got your attention again.  Soon music and mummers of conversation floated upstairs, so you tried to keep Tae’s movie quiet.  He didn’t seem to care much as he snuggled close to you, his little head nodding back and forth.  Eventually you turned off the movie, even though he whined, so he could get a bath and go to sleep.  As he lay in his bed, his covers all the way up to his chin as usual, you breathed deeply.

            “You’re such a good kid, Tae,” you said, brushing his hair out of his face and giving him a kiss on the forehead.

            “Yeah?” he whispered, sounding so small.

            “Totally,” you said.  “You obeyed tonight and made Uncle Jin so happy with your card, and ate all your green beans.”

            “Nasty beans,” Tae said, sticking out his tongue.

            “So nasty,” you said, patting his covers.  “Sleep well, okay?”

            “Okay,” he said, already yawning, “night Y/N.”

            “Night Tae,” you whispered, partially closing his door.  There was a loud laugh—surely Jin’s—coming from downstairs, and you flopped down on one of the couches in the second living room, looking for a movie to watch.  Yoongi had said to stay upstairs, so while you could get to your room without being noticed, you didn’t really want to disobey or upset him or be accidentally seen by anyone in your current attire, so you didn’t mind waiting upstairs for a few hours.  At a particularly loud whoop, you glanced toward Tae’s door, and something in you bent.  Hoseok and Seokjin seemed like nice people.  They were certainly good with Tae from the few hours you had seem them interact.  But why did the party have to be here?  Why didn’t someone else host it?  Why didn’t Yoongi think about his kid?  You sighed, frustrated once again at how little he seemed to care, and then went very still on the couch when you heard someone coming up the stairs.  Someones, apparently.  One was definitely Yoongi, his bleached hair like a lightening bug in the dark, and the other one was clearly a woman based on her shape alone.  Both were clearly, so clearly, drunk.  You held your breath, watching them stumble, the girl leaning on Yoongi, toward his room.  As soon as the door shut behind them, you sighed and jumped up, almost galloping down the stairs.  Your room was so close, but the second you hit the ground you also hit someone’s chest, and you staggered back even though a hand reached out to keep you from falling completely.

            “Whoa, you okay?” the someone said, and you looked up, the hallway brighter than upstairs had been, to another too-tall man, his face sporting a concerned-look, his hair parted and styled in such a way to reveal a smooth forehead, his eyes brown under a pair of thick-rimmed glasses.

            “Yeah,” you muttered, trying to stand up and get away from him.

            “Whoa, sorry,” the man said, letting go and taking a step back.  “I guess that’s what I get for going snooping.  Was trying to find Yoongi’s studio.  I thought it was down here, but—”

            “It’s the other hallway,” you said, pointing past him.

            “Oh, could you show me?  This place is so big, I don’t know how anyone gets around here.”

            “I’m, uh, not really supposed to be down here,” you mumbled, trying not to look at him.  He looked too casual compared to the men earlier, his black denim button-up shirt all the way open to reveal a plain white shirt underneath.

            “Oh, uh,” the man said, stepping back further and rubbing the back of his neck.  “Do you—who are you?”

            “Y/N, Tae’s nanny.”

            “Oh.  Oh!” the man said, suddenly laughing, and the second he did he brought his hand up to hide his smile.  “Oh, this is perfect, come here,” he said, and before you could protest, he was pulling on your wrist down the hall, through the kitchen, and into the main living room.

            “Y/N!” Hoseok shouted upon seeing you.  Jin’s head was lolling around on the couch, but he tried to look over at you, too, a huge grin on his face.  “Just who we were looking for!”

            “Wha-” you tried, but the man currently holding you finally let go, and in a very serious voice, said,

            “We’ve run out of wine.”

            “Wha—so?  I can’t help you with that.”

            “We know Yoongi keeps whiskey in his studio.”

            “Why—okay,” you said, shaking your head, “just go get it, then, his office isn’t locked.”

            “But he has cameras,” Hoseok whined from the couch.

            “So?” you said, looking at the three men oddly.  “You’re all his friends, just go get it.”

            “He’ll get mad,” the man beside you said, and you rolled your eyes, suddenly feeling like there were three Tae’s in the room.

            “Look, honestly?  Who gives a shit.”  Jin’s eyes widened on the couch, and Hoseok and him exchanged a glance.  “If this is some weird test or whatever, like if he told you to test me, I don’t care.  I’m not going to turn off the cameras, mainly because I don’t know how to.  But also because it’s your party,” you said, pointing at Jin, “that he’s supposed to be hosting, but he just ditched it to go upstairs with some girl, so, I would say do whatever you want.  The house is all yours.”

            “That’s,” Hoseok said, his mouth hanging open a bit.  The man beside you was the first to move, and he laughed again, flopping down into the nearest chair.

            “We were only partially messing you,” the man said, and you sighed again, crossing your arms over your chest and staring at the three of them.  They all looked extremely relaxed, smiles lingering on their faces, and, looking at the man from the hallway again you suddenly realized something.

            “Oh my god,” you mumbled, stepping closer to him.  Leaning down, you took off his glasses, and while they all watched you closely, no one said anything, or were too drunk to do anything, so you put the glasses on the nearest table and then messed the man’s hair up until it was hiding his forehead again.   “Oh my god,” you said again, “hey, hey, do this.”  You put your thumb on your lips and bit your bottom lip slightly while cocking your head a little.  The man looked amused but played along, and the second he copied your pose you sprang back.  “Oh my god!  You’re RM!”

            “That I am,” the man smiled.  “But you can call me Namjoon.”

            “Oh my god,” you mumbled, fumbling for your phone. 

            “And I’m Hoseok,” Hoseok said from the couch, his arm raised in the air triumphantly.

            “Yep, and he’s Seokjin,” you said, waving at the man half-sleeping on the couch, missing the way Hoseok’s face fell.

            “I think she’s only a fan of me,” Namjoon said, laughing again.

            “Actually, not a fan of either,” you said, ignoring their pouts, “but my friend, oh, he’s a huge fan.”

            “Is he cute?” Seokjin half-yelled from the couch.

            “Heck yeah,” you said, “hold on.  Oh, man, he’s going to freak.”  Someone else whined, but you ignored them all as you scrambled to text Jimin, praying he was still awake.

 

You (12:04AM)

Send me a sexy selfie

 

Jimin (12:05AM)

Uh, no?  What?

Give Y/N her phone back whoever you are

 

You (12:05AM)

Need a sexy selfie of you, hurry

 

Jimin (12:06AM)

Did you forget I’m gay?

 

You (12:07AM)

No.

Hurry

Trust me

Sexy selfie

 

Jimin (12:11AM)

You’re weird

*Imaged Attached*

 

You (12:11AM)
No, you dipshit, face, face

Also I know for a fact that is an old picture

 

Jimin (12:15AM)

*Imaged Attached*

 

You (12:16AM)

Took you that long for that? Okay whatever, good job

 

            “Look,” you said, thrusting your phone in Namjoon’s face.  His eyes blinked a few times as if he was trying to see what he was looking at in front of him, and then he went very still.  “Did it—” you said, looking at your phone again, but Jimin’s picture was still there, so you showed it to Namjoon again, who slowly took your phone from you and held it like a precious treasure in his two hands.  “It’s not the best picture,” you said as he was quiet, “because his hair is more blonde than that right now.  But that’s Jimin.  He’s nineteen and seriously, your biggest fan.  Can you send him a picture or something?  It would, like, make his life.”

            “Uh,” Namjoon said, not moving.

            “Is he cute?” Hoseok asked, trying to get off of the couch to see, but he ended up falling and then crawling over to look.  “Oh, wow, he’s hot.”

            “He’s a baby,” Namjoon almost whispered.

            “He’s nineteen,” you said again.  “Biggest fan.  Make his dreams come true.”

            “His dreams, Namjoon,” Hoseok said, poking the man in the chest.  “Aye?”

            “I shouldn’t,” Namjoon whispered, but the fact that he hadn’t given you your phone back yet already confirmed what you were just going to have to wait for.

            “He won’t show anyone or tell anyone, I promise.  He has, like, no friends beside me.”

            “He’s so young,” Namjoon said, tapping your phone to keep the picture up.

            “How old are you?” you asked.

            “Almost twenty-six,” Namjoon said.

            “Twenty-six, baby,” Hoseok said, throwing an arm in the air again.

            “Twenty-nine now,” Jin groaned from the couch.  “God, I’m so old.  Babe, I’m almost thirty!”

            “I know, chill,” Hoseok said, waving him off, but Jin fell off of the couch like a waterfall and lay on the floor for a moment on his back before shimmying close to Hoseok, looking more like a worm than a grown man.  Hoseok sighed but picked up Jin’s head to put in his lap so he could play with his hair, which seemed to greatly amuse the birthday boy.

            “Yoongi’s twenty-eight, if you were wondering,” Namjoon said.

            “I wasn’t.  That’s not much older.”

            “You can’t even drink,” Namjoon said, though it seemed like he was talking to Jimin’s picture.

            “So?  It’s just a picture, Namjoon, not a date.”

            “Not a—” Namjoon said, looking up at you.  “Oh, okay, yeah, yeah, I can take a picture.  Here, just let me,” and then, to your great amusement, he stumbled out of the chair and almost fell down before hopping up.  He looked frantically around the room and went from wall to wall, chair to chair, until he seemed to find an acceptable spot.  Raising your phone, he made a silly face and then a serious one before running back to you, the phone outstretched.  “Okay, there you go, send which one you want.”

            “Thanks, Namjoon.  He’ll love it.  Seriously, thanks.”

            “No problem,” Namjoon said, but then he groaned and rubbed his head.  “Water,” he said, shuffling past you.

 

You (12:23AM)

Mission successful

Enjoy, friend

*Imaged Attached*

You owe me

 

Jimin (12:24AM)
HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS

 

You (12:24AM)

RM?  Your celebrity crush?

 

Jimin (12:25AM)

ARE YOU SAYING yOU metT RM?

 

You (12:26AM)

I didn’t say that.
But he’s at Yoongi’s house

 

Jimin (12:26AM)

Adddress

 

You (12:27AM)

No, creepy stalker.

Ttyl

 

Jimin (12:27AM)

Y/N

I swear

Y/N

           

Satisfied, you yawned and stood up, ready to go to bed, but looking around the room, you wondered if you should set the boys up with blankets or if you should ask them to leave.  You wondered if Yoongi had turned the alarm off.  Yoongi.

            “Hey,” you said, getting all three men’s attention from where they all sat on the floor, sipping glasses of water now, “Yoongi said he didn’t have a girlfriend, so that girl?”

            “Oh, she’s not a girlfriend, she’s an escort,” Jin said from Hoseok’s lap.

            “An es—”

            “Jin!  You can’t say that,” Hoseok groaned, slapping the man’s chest.

            “Oh,” the man said, his eyes going wide.  “I mean, her name is Es-Es—yeah, no, I can’t back out of that one.  God, Yoongi will kill me.  Please don’t tell him I told you.”

            “Course not,” you smiled, “you are, like, super drunk.”

            “So drunk,” Jin groaned, closing his eyes.

            “But so pretty,” Hoseok said, kissing his forehead and making the man smile.

            “Well,” you said slowly, taking a few steps back, “I’m just going—” but you stopped, because you thought for a minute that you had heard someone call your name.  The three men all raised their eyebrows and looked at you.  You held your breath for a second, and the moment you heard it again, you bolted for the stairs, positive Tae was calling you.  Cursing under your breath, you stumbled up the stairs in the dark until you got to the second living room where it was still too dark, but you could make out the tiny figure in Tae’s doorway.

            “Y/N!” he cried again, and you made your way to him quickly.

            “I’m here, Tae, I’m here,” you mumbled, and the moment you squatted down next to him, your nose wrinkled.  “Tae, did you?”

            “I’m sorry,” he wailed, and, to your dismay, wrapped his arms around you and pressed his wet body against yours.

            “It’s okay,” you said, patting his back, “it’s okay, let’s get you cleaned up.”

            “Had a bad dream,” he mumbled as you picked him up.  His pants were soaked, and the smell and feeling weren’t pleasant as he clung to you, but you had been expecting something to happen all day, so you weren’t exactly surprised.  “Sorry,” he mumbled into your neck, but you shook your head and soothed his hair.

            “No worries, buddy, I’m sorry you have to have another bath.”  He thankfully laughed softly at this, but as you started to make your way to the bathroom you stopped when Yoongi’s door opened and the man stumbled out in his boxers.

            “Is he okay?” he panted, and you were glad it was dark, because you scowled at him from across the room.

            “Yes, just wet the bed,” you said, already walking to the bathroom.

            “What?” Yoongi said, hurrying over to you.  “Tae, what happened?”

            “Bad dream, daddy,” Tae mumbled.

            “I got this, Yoongi,” you said when he put a hand on Tae’s arm, “you should go see to your guests.”

            “I,” Yoongi started, but you brushed him off and shut the bathroom door behind you, trying to forget him as you tended to Tae.

            “Sorry, buddy, let’s get you clean and warm,” you mumbled as you helped him strip his pajamas off.  Once you got him started, you stopped up the tub and turned on the water while he finished undressing.  You almost cried with him while he sat in the tub, feeling extremely bad that he had had a bad dream, that he had to have two baths, that his dad was such a dick.  Instead you just ruffled his hair and wrapped him up in his towel and hurried to get him dressed again.  Eternally grateful his giraffe wasn’t wet, you handed it to him while you stripped his bed and put his sheets and blankets in the hamper.  You stood for a moment looking at the bed, and, really not wanting to put him back in it before it was cleaned, you squatted down next to him and whispered,

            “Hey, how about you come sleep with me tonight?”

            “Really?” Tae said, his drooping eyes lighting up slightly.

            “Yeah, we’ll clean your bed tomorrow.”  He nodded, smiling his smile that always made you want to squish his cheeks together and held out his hand for you to hold.  You couldn’t help but notice Yoongi’s door open and someone sitting on the bed, staring out at you, and you moved Tae behind you so that he wouldn’t see as you carefully and quietly went downstairs, relieved for some reason that everything in the main living room seemed to have quieted down.  Your bed in the guest room was softer and bigger than yours at home, so you had been enjoying it every night, and you pulled back the covers and patted it for Tae to climb up and make himself comfortable.  “You good, kid?” you said, and he nodded when he pulled the covers up.  “I’m going to shower first, but you go ahead and sleep, okay?”

            “Okay Y/N,” Tae said as you flipped on the lamp near your bed but turned off the main light.  “Y/N?”

            “Yes, Tae,” you said as you opened your drawers to grab some clothes.

            “What if I have a bad dream?”

            “Then I’ll punch it,” you said simply.

            “You can’t punch dreams,” Tae said, his nose scrunching.

            “Maybe you can’t, but I can,” you said, putting your hands on your hips and feeling how wet your sweater was.  “So don’t worry.”

            “But what if I, if I—”

            “Then we’ll clean it up.  It’s okay, Tae.  You didn’t do anything wrong.”

            “Okay,” Tae whispered, and he seemed pacified enough because his eyes closed.  You stood and watched him for a moment before stripping off your sweater.

            “Y/N?” someone said when your sweater was refusing to come completely off of your ears.

            “Yeah?” you said, turning around and holding your sweater to your chest when you saw Yoongi poking his head in your door.  “Oh.  It’s you.  Yes?”

            “I just.  Is he okay?”

            “Yes, Yoongi, good night,” you said, throwing the sweater in the hamper and working on taking off your pants.

            “Y/N.”

            “What?” you said, cocking your head while you held your half-wet pants in your hand.  Yoongi stood in the doorway, his hand on the door knob, staring at you.  “What?” you said again, but he didn’t say anything.  “I’m covered in your kid’s pee, so if it’s not dire, I’d like to go shower.”

            “Oh, yeah,” Yoongi finally said, blinking.  He looked at the bed once before mumbling something and closing the door behind him.  Sighing for what felt like the hundredth time that night, you threw your wet pants in the hamper and went to take a shower.

            You had never felt so relieved to wake up the next day to a tiny human on your chest poking your face, because he was warm, dry, clean, safe, and happy, and that made you smile as you began to tickle him in return.

Chapter Text

            Sunday’s were Yoongi’s sick days, so you knew the morning would be no exception.  You weren’t really keen on seeing him or dealing with him, though, so you sent him a text and called your dad as you helped Tae get dressed.  He was bouncing in excitement when you told him where you were going, the promise of a barn and dogs and biscuits almost too much for him to handle at eight in the morning, but he held onto his giraffe and his water bottle as you buckled him up.  He had never ridden in your truck, and the way his face lit up made it seem more like an amusement park ride than a breaking truck.

            “What’s this?” he said, pointing to the crank for the window.  When you stopped at a sign you reached over and rolled it down some for him, and he spent the rest of the ride rolling the window up and down as if it was the coolest invention since automatic windows.  You knew your dad’s shop and land was a bit of an adventure land for kids, which is one reason why it always hosted the local Halloween festival, but it had been a while since you looked at the place through a child’s eyes.  The sign in the front of the lot was rusty, but you drove under it as if you were entering another land.  The place had no cement or concrete, just dirt and hay and sad patches of dirt, but the three dogs that rushed to your truck the moment you pulled up only made Tae squeal and bounce more as he waited for you to come around and let him out.  The dogs’ noses were all at the prefect height to smash right into his cheeks, and he laughed and tried to push them away while simultaneously pulling them close.  By the time they had all greeted the two of you, his face was coated in slobber and his clean clothes were already dirty from when he fell down, surprised by the force of three excited over-grown puppies greeting him.  Pushing them all away, you took Tae’s hand and ran for the porch and through the door, announcing your presence with a yell.

            “Good morning, Y/N,” your dad said from the kitchen, and you swooped up Tae to rush to see your dad, placing a wet kiss on his cheek.

            “Hi dad, miss you.”

            “You miss my cooking.”

            “That too,” you shrugged, jostling the kid in your arms.  “This is Tae.  Tae, this is my dad.”

            “Hello, Y/N’s dad,” Tae said, sticking out his tiny hand.  Your dad used two fingers to shake it, smiling widely.

            “Pleasure to meet you, Tae.  Are you taking care of my little girl?”

            “Yes sir,” Tae said seriously, and you laughed before whisking him away to wash your hands.  Soon you were reading him the comics as you both ate fresh, warm biscuits, and everything felt right.

            “Okay, I admit it,” you said as you pushed back your plate, “I did miss your food.”  Your dad laughed as Tae copied you by moving his plate and patting his belly, too.

            “Y/N,” Tae said as you wiped off a crumb from his cheek, “can I see your room?”

            “Sure kid,” you said, standing up, but your dad tapped on the table.

            “Actually, someone is in there.”

            “Sorry, what?” you said, freezing and staring at your dad.  He scratched his cheek, his stubble always the worst on Sunday mornings.

            “I hired a young man, and he doesn’t have any place to stay, so he’s been in there this week.”

            “Wow, dad, not even gone a week and you’ve already replaced me.”

            “It was your idea,” your dad said smugly, shrugging, and you sighed, pulling your jacket back on.

            “Okay Tae, no room, but I can show you outside, it’s much cooler than my room.”  The kid had no complaints, so you gave your dad one more glare that was only met with another shrug before taking Tae’s hand and heading outside.  The dogs didn’t quite attack Tae again but followed closely behind.  At his request, you put his giraffe in your jacket pocket, making sure its head was sticking out (“so he can breathe!”) as you followed Tae around.  Your main goal was to make sure he didn’t cut himself on anything, so you let him explore the scrap yard, pick up rocks, find bugs, and climb over the pile of tires while only occasionally holding out your hands to steady him.  He looked like a regular farmer in his overalls and black beanie and boots as he marched around.  Soon he was standing on piles of rusty scrap metal and yelling out instructions as the captain of a ship, then he was sitting in a seat ripped from a car racing you, then he was barking at the dogs from the ground as they rolled around and stared at him oddly.  His cheeks grew red from the cold, and, much to his disappointment, you dragged him back inside after a couple of hours with the promise of hot chocolate, much to his excitement.  He was busy chattering to you when you came back inside, so it wasn’t until you were looking for the milk in the fridge that you noticed a young man sitting at the table, stuffing his face with cereal.

            “Yo,” the boy said.

            “Hi,” you said, slowly closing the door and walking over to grab the milk from beside his bowl.

            “Jungkook,” the boy said, chewing away.

            “Y/N,” you said.

            “Tae,” Tae said loudly, pointing at himself as he clamored to sit by the mysterious boy.

            “Cute kid,” Jungkook said.  You hummed as you got out a pot to make hot chocolate in.

            “Tae, please come wash your hands.”

            “Oh yeah!” he said, scurrying over to you and pulling over a small stool to climb up on.

            “Didn’t know your dad was a grandpa,” the boy eating cereal.

            “He’s not,” you said stiffly.  “I’m Tae’s nanny.”

            “Oh yeah, your dad mentioned that.  Cool.”  You hummed again.

            “Enjoying my room?”

            “Not really yours anymore, is it?” the boy at the table said, and you turned around as you slowly stirred the milk for hot chocolate.

            “I wanna, I wanna,” Tae said, making grabby hands at the spoon.  You handed it to him slowly and he immediately stirred too violently, spilling some of the mixture, and with a small giggle he stirred the pot again, slower this time.  Putting a hand on his head, you watched the boy at the table shovel another spoonful of cereal into his mouth.

            “So, Jungkook, enjoying the work so far, then?  Dad working you hard?”  The boy hummed and then shrugged.

            “I like working with my hands, and he doesn’t make me work with the costumers too much.”

            “Can’t imagine why,” you mumbled.  “So, how old are you, Jungkook?”

            “Twenty-two,” the boy said without looking up from his cereal.

            “That would make you older than me.  And I don’t believe you for some reason.”  The boy shrugged again, which only made you frown more.

            “Believe what you want,” he said, throwing his spoon in his bowl and scooting away from the table.  “Got work to do.  Nice to meet you, kid,” the boy said, and Tae barely waved at him as he concentrated on stirring his hot chocolate.  You hummed again when the boy left the room and then patted Tae on the back.

            “I don’t like him,” you said, unsure why you were sharing the fact with a four-year-old.

            “He poured his milk before his cereal.”

            “He did what?” you said, exasperated.  “A true monster.”  Tae hummed and then giggled.

            “Is this ready?”

            “Almost, buddy, you’re doing great,” you said, patting his head and watching him stir.  When it was done, the two of you took your hot chocolate to the front porch and sat in the rocking chairs and watched Jungkook in the yard pulling hay and trash from the barn.  The kid still had some baby fat in his cheeks.  There was simply no way he was twenty-two.  You wondered if your dad had actually bought that lie, or if he had seen through it and given him the job for that very reason.  You sighed.  Your dad, despite his exterior, was too soft on people.  He’d been swindled and taken advantage of too many times before, so you promised yourself to visit more often if only to keep an eye on this new kid.  It was almost lunch time by the time you drove back home, to Tae’s home, your temporary home (what was it?), and you were relived to not see Yoongi.

            In fact, you barely saw him the rest of the week, which wasn’t exactly odd, but the few times you did see him he flat-out ignored you, which also, really, didn’t bother you until Thursday when you all went to the library again, a day he usually smiled, and he did, except whenever he caught your eyes his smile would die, and you really weren’t sure how long you were going to last with the silent treatment.  So when Tae was setting the table and Yoongi came out of his office that night and asked Tae to add another plate for him, you sat down with reasonable reluctance despite how excited Tae was that his dad was actually eating with him.  His dad wasted no time cutting to the chase as soon as everyone had food on their plate, and you ate slowly, nervous about what he wanted to talk about.

            “Tae,” he said as he son munched away, “how would you like to go shopping tomorrow?”

            “Shoppin’, daddy?” the boy said, his face lighting up.  “I’d love to go shopping!  Can Y/N come?”

            “Sure, son, she needs a dress anyway.  And do you own heels?”

            “Do I.  What?” you said, glad you hadn’t put anything in your mouth yet.

            “Own heels?  Those shoes with pointy bits at the bottom of them?”

            “I.  No.  Never owned heels.”

            “Thought so,” Yoongi said, finally looking at you.  You almost wished he wasn’t, suddenly, though. 

            “What do I need a dress and heels for, sir?” you said, gritting your teeth and using his least favorite word.

            “Have an event Saturday night I’d like you to attend with me.”

            “Me?” you said, putting down your fork and gripping your thighs, already hearing someone laughing in your head.  “Why me?”  Yoongi shrugged and put his fork down, too, as he leaned back in his seat.

            “I figure you need a night off.  And I want to apologize for last week.  Let me make it up to you.”

            “Make it—” you said before sighing and rubbing your hands over your thighs.  Tae was watching you expectantly, clearly flabbergasted why anyone would question shopping.  “Sir, somehow I doubt going to a fancy dinner party would seem like a night off to me.  I’d rather stay home with Tae.”

            “And I’d rather you come with me,” Yoongi said, his voice stern.  “Please, Y/N, you’re always saying I work too much, and this will give us a chance to get to know each other.”

            “Aren’t you worried about me embarrassing you, sir?” you said, trying to control the frown on your face.

            “Why-why would you be embarrassing?”

            “Why do I need a dress?”

            “We-well, do you have one?”

            “No,” you said curtly.

            “Then that’s why,” Yoongi shrugged.

            “Daddy,” Tae interrupted, clearly bored, “if Y/N goes with you, who will watch me?”

            “Uncle Hobi will come over.”

            “Uncle Hobi?” Tae screamed, and you sighed in defeat, knowing that going would definitely make Tae happy now.

            “Alright,” you said, finally picking up your fork, “I’ll go.  Nothing sleazy, though,” you mumbled, and Yoongi almost grinned into his food.

            “Wouldn’t dream of it.”

 

            Yoongi would dream of it, apparently, by the selection of dresses he handed you the next day.  You took the four dresses he had picked out from you and held them all up while Tae flitted between the two of you, touching every fabric he could.

            “No,” you said to one dress and then to the rest of them, “no, no, and no.”

            “What, no to all of them?”  Yoongi said as you handed them all back to him.  “What’s wrong with them?”

            “Too low, too low, that will be way too tight, and did you see that slip?  It might as well be a miniskirt.”  Yoongi frowned at your comments and held each dress up and then handed each of them back to you.

            “That’s the point, that’s the point, that’s the point, that’s the point.”

            “Look, sir,” you said, trying to hand the dresses back to him, “I’m not one of your escorts, so I am not going to wear any of these.”  Yoongi’s hands slipped at the word and the dress you were trying to hand him fumbled to the ground.  Tae hurried to pick it up and lifted it up to you, but neither you nor Yoongi took it.  Yoongi’s eyebrow twitched and sighed as Tae poked your leg with the hanger.  “Sorry, sir, let me just, let me pick some out, okay?  I’ll let you have the final pick.”  Yoongi didn’t say anything, his face still frozen as his hand slowly lowered to his side.  “What color are you wearing tomorrow?”

            “Black,” he said, and you rolled your eyes.

            “I don’t know why I asked.  Being a boy is easy, you know, Tae?” you said, taking the dress from him.  He looked at you inquisitively.  “Suit, tie, pants, easy.  Me, though,” you mumbled, looking around the room and feeling completely lost.  “How fancy is this event?”

            “Suit, tie, pants,” Yoongi said, and you rolled your eyes again.

            “Tae, help me?”  The little boy nodded, taking your hand and guiding you through the aisles and aisles of dresses.  You told the kid you wanted blue, and soon you had six dresses in your hand, pretty positive none of them would work.  Still, you took them all to the dressing room, and, seeing Yoongi already there sitting in a leather chair with his phone out, you picked up Tae and put him in his lap, giving his dad a fake smile before pulling the curtain.  The first dress didn’t fit and never would.  The second one you hated once you had it on.  The third one was decent, so you opened the curtain to Tae clapping his hands, but Yoongi only raised an eyebrow.  The fourth dress also wouldn’t fit, and the fifth one’s color was off, but you showed the boys anyway.  Tae clapped again, and Yoongi barely emoted at all.  Pulling the curtain closed again, you rolled your eyes and huffed as you pulled on the last dress.  It was your favorite, so, biased already, you were glad it fit, and you were met once again with Tae’s claps as you opened the curtain.  Yoongi leaned forward and kissed the back of Tae’s head when he saw you, mumbling something to him.

            “This one!” Tae said.

            “Yeah?” you asked, spinning around.

            “You look like a princess!” Tae said, bouncing a little on his dad’s lap.

            “And you’re my prince,” you teased, kissing his forehead.  “Will this one do, Yoongi?” you said as you stood back up.

            “As long as you’re happy with it,” he said, and you cleared your throat when he almost smiled at you.

            “It’s alright,” you shrugged, “can’t even put my phone in here,” you said, trying to pull the neckline away from you, but it fit too well.  You could bend over with no worries.  “Can’t put anything in here,” you mumbled, trying to stick your fingers down your chest.

            “Don’t,” Yoongi said, pushing Tae off and standing up, “do that in public.”

            “Oops,” you said, but you smirked and he stepped back, realizing you were just messing around.  “Oh, but it also has pockets, so, I was going to pick this one no matter what you said.”

            “So pleased to know my opinion means nothing,” Yoongi said.

            “Yep!” you said, waving them both away as you went back into the changing room.  You looked at yourself again in the mirror.  You had worn a gown at prom and homecoming, but that was two years ago, and your body had changed since then.  You really didn’t recognize yourself in the mirror, and, sighing, you changed clothes quickly.  You carefully put up the dresses you didn’t want and cradled the other one, trying not to crush it or rip it, especially when you saw the price tag.

            “Yoongi,” you gasped, ripping the curtain back.  “Is this coming out of my pay?”

            “Of course not,” he said, his brows furrowed as he took the dress from you.  You sighed in relief and let him have it, glad to take Tae’s hand instead.

            “Am I cheaper than an escort?” you said casually, and Yoongi stiffened before ignoring you to walk to the counter.

            “What’s an escort?” Tae said, and you stifled a laugh as his dad rolled his head and popped his neck.

            “I’ll tell you later, son.  We have to go get shoes now.”

            “Okay!” Tae said, swinging your arm.

 

            Shoes meant heels, another clothing item you were not familiar with.  Yoongi sat himself down on one of the stools in an aisle after pulling out several pairs for you to try on, and you stood looking down at them in despair.  Tae had disappeared around the corner to look at shoes for himself.

            “You know,” you said, trying not to be intimidated by the boxes at your feet, “some evil man invented heels just so he could ogle at women’s butts.  Lift an’ all that.”

            “Yeah?” Yoongi said, leaning back on the stool until his back hit the rack of shoes behind him.  “I thought they were invented by some sad woman who wanted to be taller than her man to make herself feel better.”

            “Oh, I don’t need to be taller than a man to feel better than him.”

            “No?” Yoongi said.

            “No,” you said, finally lacing yourself into an insane pair of heels, “besides, if that was true, why would you be putting me in heels?  I’m almost taller than you even without them.”  Yoongi said nothing to that, and you smirked until you stood up, grabbing the rack next to you to steady yourself.  “These are so impractical,” you groaned, trying to rotate in them but not feeling confident in your ability to not fall down.

            “I don’t know,” Yoongi mused to himself, “they seem to be doing their job?”

            “Huh?” you said, concentrating on not falling down.

            “Your butt looks better,” he shrugged, and, like an idiot, you actually tried to turn around to look at your butt. 

            “I hate you,” you mumbled as you bent down to unlace them.  “And will not wear those.”  You went for a pair with a shorter heel and felt better in them immediately.

            “Mmm,” Yoongi hummed, tapping his finger on his chin, “yeah, your butt doesn’t look as good in those.”

            “Stop looking at my butt,” you said, taking off the shoes immediately and kicking a box toward him.  “Sexual harassment in the workplace is no joke.”

            “Didn’t you say that was the point of them?”

            “I’ll wear my dirty Converse if you don’t stop looking at my butt,” you said firmly, and Yoongi raised his hands.

            “Alright, alright.  But try those,” he said, pointing to a box to your left.  “They aren’t too high and would go best with your dress.”  Grunting but not questioning his fashion advice, you put them on and were pleasantly surprised that they felt comfortable on your soles, but you weren’t about to let Yoongi know that you actually liked them.

            “Daddy!” you heard Tae say, and you saw him run around the corner holding a box.  “Can I get these?”

            “Sure kid,” his dad said without even looking at the box.  Tae’s smile lit up the aisle, and you hurried to take off the heels so you could get out of the shop.

            “Can we go eat?” you said as you handed Yoongi your box.

            “Sure kid,” he said, and you smacked his arm lightly before you stepped back, your eyes wide.  “Abuse in the workplace is a serious matter,” he said, his voice gruff.

            “I-I’m sorry,” you stuttered, but Yoongi only snorted and took Tae’s box to go pay.  “This day is stressful,” you said to no one as you followed meekly behind the two.  Tae chatted idly to you as you stood by Yoongi in line, rambling about noodles or something he wanted to eat, so you almost missed the look the lady at the cashier gave the boxes Yoongi put down, because as she checked the size of both shoes in each box, you noticed that Tae had picked out a pair of heels for himself, a clunky, plastic, blue pair of heels with a picture of Moana on them.

            “Sir,” the lady said, and, oh, hell no was she about to crush Tae’s love for Moana, “these shoes—”

            “Have Moana on them,” you said, pointing at them past Yoongi.  “She’s Tae’s favorite, right Tae?”  The boy nodded enthusiastically beside you, clueless to the lady’s frown, thankfully.  You put your hand on Yoongi’s elbow lightly, and he eyed your hand before looking at your face.  “We can get shoes somewhere else,” you whispered, but he shook his head and handed the lady his card.

            “We just won’t shop here anymore.  And it’s easy to report people, Y/N, isn’t that right, Stephanie?” he said, reading the lady’s nametag.  She visibly flushed and stuffed an extra coupon in the box before bagging everything up and wishing you all a good day.  You snorted and led the boys to the food court, hungrier than you realized.

            “I wanna eat so much that dress won’t fit,” you mused as you stood in line to get some disgusting noodles filled with MSG and corn syrup, probably.  Yoongi rolled his eyes next to you, but he didn’t say anything.  He had to take a phone call once you all sat down, but he came back quickly and actually apologized and worked on catching up with the conversation.  Much to Tae’s delight, his dad kept trying to steal his steamed carrots, which only resulted in Tae trying to steal his dad’s noodles, which only resulted in a mess on the table in between both plates, which only resulted in Tae throwing his head back and laughing like a maniac.  He laughed so loudly tears came to his eyes, and a few people stared, and then Yoongi laughed, too, not a chuckle or a snort, but an actual laugh that lasted for a few seconds.  And you just sat there, your limp noodles hanging in midair off of your chopsticks, watching it all unfold.

            “You have a nice laugh,” you heard yourself say when Yoongi and Tae calmed down.  “You should laugh more.”  Yoongi shrugged, but he smiled before stuffing more almost cold noodles in his mouth.  “Hey Yoongi,” you said, and he hummed, concentrating on his food, “I think Tae’s been really good today, so don’t you think he deserves a reward?”  To his credit, Yoongi played along well, tapping his chopsticks while his son looked at him with a hopeful face.

            “I guess he has been good,” he hummed, and Tae bounced once.

            “I’ve been so good!”

            “So good,” you said, ruffling his hair.

            “Okay, Tae, you can pick out two things,” Yoongi said finally, and Tae clapped once.  “After you finish your food.”  The challenge was on, and Tae didn’t disappoint.  You were more afraid of him choking he ate so quickly.

           

            The thing about the kid’s clothing store you entered was that, like any clothing store, it was separated by “boy” and “girl” clothes.  And while you had never really noticed it before, Tae clearly didn’t care what people wore, and certainly didn’t care what he wore.  So when Yoongi said Tae could pick out two things, Tae, due to his current obsession, went looking for a Moana shirt or sweater or shirt, and such an item would definitely be in the “girl” section, and a little boy in the “girl” section would definitely attract attention.  You found yourself standing close to Yoongi, not because you were concerned with what anyone else thought, but because you were afraid you would turn on anyone if anyone said anything.  Tae couldn’t find anything with Moana on it, but he did find a purple fleece jacket with pink hearts on it that he took to immediately.  While Yoongi held your bags, you helped Tae find the right size to fit him, getting one a little big so he could hopefully grow into it a little, and you couldn’t resist planting a kiss on his cheek when you zipped it up since he looked so happy.  Content with his first find, he wandered the aisles seriously for a few minutes, Yoongi and you trailing behind him until he stopped by a row of dresses.  He pressed his lips together and looked up before he started to fiddle with his jacket.  His dad obviously knew about his nervous habit, because he crouched down next to him and pointed up at a yellow dress.

            “What about that one?  It would go with your new shoes.”  Tae nodded shyly and Yoongi patted his head, standing up and looking around.  “Think you could find someone to help?”

            “Oh, sure,” you said, realizing he was talking to you.  There was an employee on the other side of the shop who you approached to ask for help.  She smiled and seemed glad to help, and, to her credit, didn’t say anything as she got the dress down, even if she did give Yoongi and Tae a forced smile.

            “You’re going to have to try this on, kid,” Yoongi said, taking off Tae’s jacket.  Tae nodded, holding the dress close and letting his dad lead him to a dressing room.

            “Y/N,” Tae said when they found an empty one, “can you help me?”

            “Sure sweetie,” you said, shooting him an easy smile and giving his dad a salute as you entered the tiny room.  The dress had an easy zipper, and Tae worked on wiggling out of his shirt and pants with only a little help.  You pulled the dress over his frame and had him turn around to zip him up.  It was surprisingly a little big in the arms and almost hit the floor, but perhaps that was best, as he could move freely in it.  “Looking good, kid,” you said.  “Let’s show your dad.”  Smiling proudly, Tae reached up to open the door, and you sat on the room’s tiny bench as you watched Yoongi watch his son.  There was nothing but love on his face as he gave his kid a thumbs-up, and you swallowed thickly, so happy you felt like crying for some reason.  Tae clapped his hands once and then shut the door, insisting you hurry so you could buy the dress and go home to put it on.

            “Does purple go with yellow?” Tae asked as you helped zip up his pants.

            “Of course,” you said, knowing he wanted to put his new jacket on over the dress, which would make the dress look like a skirt and, honestly, would look adorable.  He seemed pleased with your answer and left the room triumphantly, hugging his dad’s legs when you exited.  You gave Yoongi a smile, too, as you handed over Tae’s new clothes, and you all turned to go get in line, but on your way you encountered a small girl with her mom looking at the row of dresses like Tae had been earlier.  Tae, apparently was a social butterfly who you decided needed to get out of the house more, went right up to the girl and pointed to the dress he had just gotten.

            “I got that one.  You’d look really pretty in it.  It would go with your shoes,” he said, pointing at them next.  They were purple, and you felt your heart melt a little, but it shattered when the girl looked at Tae with an odd face before she said,

            “Dresses are for girls.”

            “No they aren’t,” Yoongi said beside you, and you took Tae’s hand immediately to pull him away from the awful child in front of him.

            “Excuse me,” the girl’s mom said, and you felt ready to fight her, whoever she was, some blonde stick wearing too many rings and too much makeup.  “But I do not want my daughter exposed to your liberal agend—”

            “Liberal,” Yoongi said before he started laughing.  “Look, lady, my boy,” he said, emphasizing the word, “can wear whatever he wants.  We let girls wear pants now, don’t we?”  The lady looked shocked, and you stifled a laugh.

            “It’s a pretty dress,” Tae said again, still looking at the little girl in front of him, thankfully not really understanding what was being inferred or assumed about him, but she turned away, retreating to her mom’s legs, and the lady retreated too, which was probably best for her face and your fist.

            “It is,” Yoongi said, scratching Tae’s head a few times as he took a deep breath.  “Too pretty for her, apparently.”

            “Thank you,” you said suddenly, and Yoongi turned to you with his brows furrowed.  “I hope you see how happy he is, and it’s not because you’re buying him some clothes, it’s because you’re spending time with him.”  Yoongi pursed his lips and smiled tightly at his son, who only shot the sun back at him in his smile.  “And thank you for putting that lady in her place,” you continued, and while he was still looking down at his son, you put your hand gently on his arm again and leaned in to kiss his cheek.  You smiled as you pulled away, noticing the way he blinked a few times before looking at you and licking his lips.  He opened his mouth once, but as you pulled your hand away he shut it and rearranged the bags and clothes in his hands.

            “Let’s go home,” he mumbled.  You and Tae agreed, and you couldn’t help but notice how Yoongi held Tae’s hand the whole way home and how he took him to his room without being asked to put him down for a nap.  You had this stupid grin on your face that you couldn’t seem to shake, even when he handed you your stupid dress and stupider heels you were going to have to wear tomorrow.  Even when he went back to his office and you flopped down on the couch while Tae napped, you kept smiling.  Even when you texted Jimin, the brat, you smiled.

 

You (3:44PM)

Could you come help do my hair and makeup tomorrow?

 

Jimin (3:52PM)

Are you asking because I’m your only gay friend?

 

You (3:53PM)

What?

Shallow

I’m asking because you’re my only friend

 

Jimin (3:57PM)

Better

Sure

Send me the details

 

Jimin (4:04PM)
Wait, will RM be there?

 

You (4:07PM)

No, Romeo, sorry

See ya tomorrow

 

If Tae could deny expectations with what he wore, maybe Yoongi could surpass the bar you had come to expect from him.  Or maybe you would fall flat on your face in your heels tomorrow.  Anything could happen.

Chapter Text

            You had gone on this date, once, back in high school, that you should have known was going to go poorly.  But your mom had left only a few months before, and you were feeling too lost and confused to think too clearly.  Plus, being a sophomore came with enough of its own problems.  It maybe didn’t help that you still wore your hair in pigtails (“like a child”) and got sent the principal three times already for carrying a “weapon” (“a screwdriver, sir, is not a weapon. What if I need to fix something.” “We have janitors for that, Y/N”—followed by a sigh and rubbing of his temples, of course).  You liked school, even if you preferred being in the workshop or running around outside.  Not much in in the world bothered you, certainly not what other people thought.  So maybe it was partially the ghost of your mother lingering, her ideas and thoughts and digs at your choices in life, that made you say yes to the boy (whose name you refuse to remember, even if you do know it).  It wasn’t even a bad date, but you were so nervous for some reason that you left in the middle of the dinner to go throw up, and by the time you came back, the boy was gone.  You didn’t really blame him, because it seemed like the normal thing to do.  You thought it was normal for him to be talking about you the next day at school, too, whispering and then talking loud enough for you to hear.  You figured it was normal, too, to cry, so you did.  What wasn’t normal, you knew, and still know, was when Park Jimin, math genius, good-enough-as-a-freshman-to-be-the-captain-of-the-dance-team, pretty boy, overall great person came to sit by you.  It all seemed like another trick, another joke, at the time, because you were both so different, too different from each other, but Jimin sitting next to you, and trying to work out your schedules next year, and him sitting on a bale of hay (“at least give me a blanket, Y/N, gross”) while you worked with your dad, and calling each other late each night, and hearing about his stupid crush on some celebrity you cared nothing about, and just being by him became normal and commonplace and comforting and right.

            Today wasn’t a date.  You refused to use the word.  But Jimin sitting across from you, his lips pressed together in concentration while you tried not to squirm as he painted your face (“for war!”) made you think of homecoming, when you went as friends (“because no one else is good enough for us”).  Your hair had been done for a while now (“your hair, Y/N, why does it fight me so?”), in a simple bun because it was the compromise you came up with (“you can not wear pigtails, Y/N, for the love of God, what if RM is there?”).  You and Tae had done your nails earlier (“Y/N, Y/N, I want to paint my fingers, too!”) and you hated everything about the process but liked it at the same time, if it meant spending time with Tae and seeing him smiling and listening to Jimin fuss at you.  Tae had, unsurprisingly, taken to Jimin immediately, even if he was shy for the first couple of minutes, hiding behind you (whispering, finally, to you why, “he’s so pretty, Y/N”), and the two chatted like old friends.  It almost felt right, good, except—

            “Y/N, are you ready yet?”

            Except that.

            “Okay, Jimin, the boss calls, hurry up.”

            “He’s shorter than I thought he would be,” Jimin said, not even bothering to whisper as he finished your makeup.

            “Big talk coming from you,” you said.

            “If RM is there, tell him hi for me?” your friend said, leaning back and cocking his head at you as he inspected his work.  He shrugged, which was good enough for you.

            “Namjoon?  Yeah, I’ll send him your love,” you said, making kissy faces.

            “Hate you,” Jimin said, standing up and making to leave your room.

            “Love you!” you screamed, following him, immediately straightening up when you remember you had heels on.  Eternally grateful that the dress had pockets, you slipped your phone in one and walked (wobbled) down the hall to the kitchen.

            “Ta-da,” your friend said as you entered, and Tae whipped his head around immediately (“I want to help, let me help!”) despite who was currently standing in front of him (“Uncle Hobi!”).  Your favorite kid in the world clapped his hands together, and his Uncle drew out a “Wow.”

            “Stop,” you said seriously to both of them, grabbing Tae’s hands and shaking them up and down before checking out the picture he was drawing at the table.

            “I almost didn’t recognize you!” Hoseok said, hovering around you too closely.  “How did this happen?”

            “Blame Yoongi and that one,” you said, pointing your finger at Jimin.  He was still standing at the entrance to the kitchen, his turtle neck almost swallowing him, his pink beanie he still had not taken off balancing on the top of his head (“My hair wasn’t working today, Y/N, leave it, stop, it needs to stay on my head, for God’s sake, I can’t believe today of all days…”).

            “Yoongi hired a stylist for you?” Hoseok said, taking in the man in front of him.  You tried not to scoff.

            “As if.  Don’t you recognize him?”  Hoseok hummed and cocked his head while Jimin stood there, uncharacteristically quiet.  “I mean, you were really drunk.  That’s Jimin.  The RM fan.  My friend.  I think you called him ‘hot’?  Or was that Jin?”

            “Oh God,” Jimin whimpered, his hands flying to his burning face.  Hoseok, as you were learning, was not easily embarrassed, and he only laughed.

            “The baby!” (“Oh God!”)  Hoseok, still in his coat despite how long he had already been there, flew to the boy to grab his hands away from his face.  “The one who’s not a fan of mine!”

            “Not—not a fan?” Jimin squeaked as he watched Hoseok take his hands.  “I’m-I’m a huge fan, J-Hope.”  At the name, Hoseok laughed again and turned to look at you.  You shrugged.  Fangirling wasn’t something you had ever, and would never, experience, but you weren’t about to steal the opportunity from Jimin away.

            “He’s so cute,” Hoseok stage-whispered, and Jimin flushed again.

            “Y/N, are you ready?” You almost jumped when you heard the voice, steadying yourself by grabbing the back of Tae’s chair.  You watched his tiny fingers whip his crayon back and forth, the motion and the noise on the paper soothing like a pendulum rocking back and forth, before you looked up.  Yoongi was standing there, a tie around his neck as he finished buttoning his cuffs.

            “Yes sir,” you managed, ignoring Hoseok’s smile and Jimin’s open mouth.

            “None of that tonight,” Yoongi said seriously, though there was the tiniest smile on the tip of his lips.  He lifted one end of his tie.  “Can you?”

            “Oh sure,” you said, trying not to stumble on your way to him.  Something about being this close to him made your breath hitch, and to make sure you kept breathing, you started rambling as your fingers worked to weave the tie over and up.  “Yoongi, this is my friend Jimin,” a small nod above you and some almost human sound from Jimin.  “He’s a huge fan of Namjoon and Hoseok here, apparently, so, by proxy, you.”  A light laugh and mumble of gratitude above you.  “He’s a little upset he’s been seeing you at the library for months and didn’t make the connection that you were Min Yoongi, so you have to make that up to him sometime.”  A hum above you as you tried not to let the silk tie touch his face.  “In fact, you could do that tonight, if Hoseok’s up for it, Tae wants Jimin to stay, and Jimin’s great with kids, better with them than I am—” a small grunt above you, of acknowledgement, or disapproval? “and unless Hoseok would be annoyed by him, which I could see, because Jimin can be annoying, but it is Hoseok we’re talking about, right?  Your most annoying friend?”

            “Your!” Hoseok gasped dramatically.

            “I don’t care,” Yoongi said, and you cleared your throat as you patted down his tie, sticking the shorter end away to hide and stepping away from him to observe your work.  “So it’s really up to Hoseok.”

            “Oh, he should stay!  I’ll have someone to talk to after Tae goes to sleep!” Hoseok said, still holding Jimin’s hands.  At the mention of his name, Tae’s head shot up from the table, but he quickly went back to his drawing.

            “And Tae will go to sleep,” Yoongi said, drawing his gaze away from you to look at his friend, “at 8:30.  Only one movie.  Text or call if you need anything.”

            “And a hundred kisses before bed!” Hoseok said, not new to watching Tae (“his favorite babysitter before you came along” “I’m not threatened by that, nope”).

            “Speaking of kisses,” you said, going back to Tae and sitting in a chair next to him.  “Hey, buddy, I need some kisses before I go.”  He made a face, but he put his crayon down and turned to look at you, so you leaned forward to press your forehead against his so you could whisper to him.  “I need a kiss for good luck,” you said, pointing at your cheek.  With a small giggle, Tae complied and then pulled back.  “And for courage, here,” you pointed at the other cheek.  Another giggle and peck.  “And a Tae kiss, just because, here, here,” you said, pointing at your forehead.  He rolled his eyes (oh, where did he pick that habit up from?) but obliged.

            “And for fun,” he whispered, kissing your nose.  You wiggled it but smiled.

            “Thanks buddy,” you whispered, pressing a kiss of your own on his forehead before patting his head.  “Alright, I’m ready.”  You weren’t really, but you let go of Tae and went to untangle Jimin from Hoseok so you could get a best friend hug while Yoongi said goodbye to Tae.

            “For fun,” you heard the boy whisper, and you knew he was kissing his dad on his nose.  You wondered why that was the only kind of kiss his dad needed before going to an event.

            “Is this really happening?” Jimin whispered into your hair.

            “My thought exactly,” you groaned, but while he was clearly excited about the thought of hanging out with a celebrity (“I wish it had been RM, but still, he knows RM”), you were petrified about spending an evening with one (“is he a celebrity? What is he? Frustrating, that’s what”).  How were you supposed to act?  What were you supposed to talk about?  Why was Yoongi taking you, dear God?

            “Y/N?” that voice again, too deep and soothing but still jarring as you pulled away from Jimin.  Yoongi had his hand out, but not for you to take, just indicating that it was time to go, and you gave everyone in the room one last look (“I should have kissed Tae one more time.” “Why?  It’s not like you died.” “I felt like I was going to”) before leaving the kitchen.

            It was JaeEun who opened the door for you as Yoongi went around to get in by himself, and you weren’t sure why you were there, but you got in anyway, used to the car from the trips to the library at least, but the feeling in the air was different, and there was no Tae sitting beside you smiling up at you or asking questions or laughing at your silly faces, and everything felt wrong.  And Yoongi was on the phone almost immediately, some conversation you couldn’t follow because it was in Korean, but you tell from the cadence of his voice that it wasn’t going too well, that he was upset and stressed and tense, and that only made you worry more.  Why were you here?  What was expected of you at this event?  What was the event, anyway?  Why did you choose tonight of all nights to stop being so inquisitive?  Why was he tapping so incessantly on the leather seats between you, the seat that Tae usually filled?

            “Stop,” you hissed, clamping your hand down on his and whipping your head away from the window and away from your thoughts to glare at him.  He did, for just a second, his own face with his phone pressed against his ear leaving his own window to stare at your hand on his.  “You’re making me nervous.  More nervous.”  Your confession made him look at your face, and perhaps he finally saw how worried and confused you were, or maybe, maybe.

            “Sorry,” he mumbled, and he didn’t pull his hand away, and he didn’t get off the phone, but his voice quieted and still sounded strained and stressed, but sad, just a little, or full of regret or despair or something you couldn’t place because how were you supposed to know what he was thinking or feeling?  You didn’t pull your hand away, either, something about the action soothing you more than you thought it should, but maybe it was because it was usually Tae’s hand who you held next to you in the car, and his dad’s hands were bigger, much bigger, but Tae would grow into his own soon, his own fingers would grow and become long and—you tightened your hold on Yoongi’s hand, sighing as you pressed the side of your head against the cold glass.  You should’ve brought a coat.  Why didn’t Yoongi bring a coat?

            “Sorry about that,” he mumbled again, only talking to you now, not whoever was on the phone.  “Namjoon picks the worst times, I swear.  I mean, I do, too, always with the bad timing, but we just have to get—”

            “Okay,” you said, squeezing his hand again.  “No talking about work.”

            “But,” Yoongi started.

            “No, seriously, didn’t you say part of tonight was to talk about me, or, you, and not work?”

            “Okay,” Yoongi said, but then he just stared at you, so you stared back until you sighed, pressing your head against the window again.  It was going to be a long night.

 

            The event, to your relief, was smaller than you were expecting, but it was still too big, too foreign, too full of strangers and strange sounds and smells and sights.  There was no red carpet, but there was a valet (“Not needed, JaeEun, I’ll call when done, go have a nice dinner”) and someone checking invitations (“Min Yoongi plus one”) and too many stares, too many looks.

            “Here,” Yoongi said, his voice close to your ear, deep and low, a hand on your lower back, the same hand you were holding earlier in the car.  He was holding something cool against your back and something else he was trying to offer you in front of you, a glass of bubbly liquid.

            “I’m only twenty,” you whispered, trying, trying not to look around at who might be watching.

            “Shit,” Yoongi hissed, “keep forgetting.”  His hand and the cool sensation left your back, the drink disappearing in front of you down his throat and the glass being abandoned on some table.  “Come on,” Yoongi said, pulling on your elbow again until you were sitting down on an uncomfortable white couch (“An uncomfortable couch is an oxymoron.” “No, it’s a sin, a travesty, a sad, sad affair.”).

            “Is Namjoon going to be here?” you said for the sake of saying something as Yoongi scooted close, too close, to you, your dress thankfully covering every inch of your legs.

            “Oh?  Already tired of my company?” Yoongi said, his voice perhaps, who knows, jealous or just teasing?

            “I’d have to enjoy your company first to get tired of it,” you said, joking, surely he knew, but you could see him look at you out of the corner of his eye before one of his hands pressed into the bare space barely there between you on the worst couch you had ever sat on in human history.  He leaned toward you, in a little, and brought his other arm up to point at someone across the room,

            “See him?”

            “Don’t point,” you mumbled, and his arm lowered barely.

            “Okay, see the fat man over there?”

            “Yoongi, that’s rude.”

            “Okay, but it’s true.  I am not judging his character, just stating a fact.  See that fat man?”

            “Yes,” you sighed, giving in, “what about him?”

            “Can’t get it up.”

            “Yoongi!” you hissed, chocking on nothing.  He tsked and continued, ignoring your plight.

            “And you see that blonde guy?”

            “What blonde guy, Yoongi?  There are like, five in this room in my line of sight.”

            “White suit, complete douche.”

            “Oh, sure, sure, I see that one, of course, how silly of me.”

            “Has a tramp stamp that sa—”

            “No, no, Yoongi, stop,” you said, but you almost giggled as you brought your hand down on top of his.

            “And that one,” he tried to point again but lowered his arm before you could stop him, “lady in the lime green dress, you can’t tell me you don’t spot that immediately.  God, diva.  Just absolutely the worst.  Tried to work with her last year, and we got through one session before I almost went crazy, God, she—”

            “Yoongi,” you said, “I thought we weren’t going to talk about work.”

            “I don’t know what else to talk about,” he admitted too easily, too quickly.  “Besides, this is a work event.  I.  I only know—”

            “It’s alright,” you sighed.  “The only thing we have in common is Tae, and it’d probably be weird to talk about him here.”

            “Why?”

            “I don’t know.  It feels wrong.  He doesn’t belong here.”

            “No, he doesn’t,” Yoongi said softly, looking over the room again, picking his next target.  “Oh, see her?  Emerald dress, black hair?”  You did.  She was gorgeous and hard to miss, pressed up against a tall, tan man in a dark blue suit, the epitome of class.  You shifted uncomfortably for some reason, some inkling in the back of your mind.  “She was over once when Tae came in.  God, she screamed so loud, louder than Hoseok in a haunted house,” and he said something else, too, but you drowned out his voice, watching him talk about this lady who was so clearly no one to him, an escort, someone he had, and you, you, a, a—

            “Yoongi, I need to use the bathroom.”

            “Oh, right, yeah, I’ll show you where it is,” he said, standing up, and you went to follow suit when you saw him offering you a hand.  You stared at it for a moment before taking it, glad for the help with balancing on your unsteady heels.  You mumbled your thanks and let him lead you to a hallway where he dropped your hand and leaned against the wall, already pulling out his phone to occupy himself.

            The bathroom was nicer than any hotel you had ever been in, an actual employee standing in the corner, waiting to hand you a towel and take your money (you didn’t have any money) and a couch, a couch in a bathroom, and two ladies whispering to each other by one of the sinks.  You occupied the couch, nicer than the white one outside, which was a shame and ridiculous as the night was, as soon as you saw it, pulling out your phone.

 

You (7:35PM)

Facetime me, yeah?

I miss Tae

 

            He didn’t respond fast enough, the punk, probably too busy grilling Hoseok about anything Namjoon related, and you sighed, feeling the attendant watching you.  Nowhere was safe.  You left the bathroom quickly, hoping she wouldn’t stick out a hand and try to ask for money because you had no money.  Your phone buzzed in your hand causing your grip to tighten around it, this one way of connecting with where you would rather be, and you swiped immediately to answer as you leaned against a wall, some wall in some building at some event.

            “Y/N!” a tiny voice squeaked, and you felt the tears gathering in your eyes immediately as you smiled back at the image of a very cute, very dirty Tae.

            “Tae!  You are a mess!”

            “I’m a sphaget monster!”

            “Spaghet?” you laughed, wiping your eyes and watching as Tae did the same, a noodle flying off of his face and his skin becoming clear under a smear of sauce.  “What happened to the e?”

            “I ate it,” Tae said seriously, though he was smiling.

            “Having fun?”  The boy nodded, another noodle dropping from his hair. 

            “Jimin is fun!  We’ve been dancing.”

            “Oh?”  Another nod, another noodle.  How many noodles were hidden in his hair?   “And why are you covered in spaghetti?”

            “Spaghet.”     

            “Spaghet.”

            “Because I missed my mouth while eating.”

            “Of course,” you laughed, smiling fondly. You heard some voice in the background followed by Hoseok laughing.

            “Are you having fun?” Tae said, cocking his head.

            “Of course, kid, but I miss you,” you half-lied, half-truthed.

            “Is daddy having fun?”

            “He—” you said, looking away from the phone in front of your face only to see Yoongi leaning against the wall near you, closer than you expected, quieter than humanely possible, apparently summoned by the sound of his son’s voice.  You turned the phone with a small smile toward him, and you heard more than saw Tae’s face light up.

            “Daddy!”

            “Hey bud.  You’re a mess.”

            “I’m a spaghet monster.”

            “Of course,” Yoongi said, chuckling.  “Is Uncle Hobi being good for you?”

            “Yeah, daddy, him and Jimin are silly.”

            “I’ll bet,” Yoongi smiled, that fond smile reserved only for his kid.  “Make sure to clean up good, okay?”

            “Okay, daddy, Y/N now.”  Another chuckle as you pulled the phone back toward you made your stomach flip.  “Y/N!  Will you be back for bed time?”

            “No buddy, sorry, you’ll be asleep when I get back.  But I’ll be sure to give you lots of kisses, so I’ll start now,” you said, kissing your phone screen repetitively.  Tae giggled, and you pulled back to see several hands reaching for his face before the screen went topsy-turvy and then showed you the ceiling in the kitchen.  Tae was screaming, though not in pain, and you could hear Jimin and Hoseok grunting and saying something incoherently before Hoseok’s face came sideways into view.

            “Hi!” he said, smiling, “we have to defeat the sphaget monster now, so we’ll say bye!”

            “No, fight them, spaghet monster!” you yelled, and you heard Tae say something before the screen went black.  Sighing, you leaned against the wall before putting your phone back in your pocket slowly.  “Yoongi,” you said, but you took in a sharp breath when you noticed how much closer he had gotten.  His hand had slunk along the wall and was touching the thin, silky band of your dress on your waist, just barely, just one finger touching it.  “Yoongi,” you said again when he cocked his head, his eyes clearly not looking at yours anymore, clearly looking at what he wanted, looking intently so he knew where to go.  “Sir,” you mumbled, and his breath left his nose in a huff, hitting your lips before he reached down just a little more and pressed his own against yours, just barely, too tentative, ultimately too shy for his usual persona, for how he was talking earlier, for what you knew he did with other women.  But his lips on yours felt right, warm.  They lingered for just the right among of time, long enough to feel every crevice in them, but not long enough to react to them, long enough to surprise you, but not long enough to leave you breathless.  His hand, his hands, lingered longer, his thumb and index already on your waist, somehow sneaking their way there, his other thumb running across your cheek.

            “Yoongi,” you said, your nose still pressing against his, your hand flying to your stomach as it turned.  He hummed and then blinked and then pulled away.  And then.

            “Let’s go eat,” he said, and you followed him even though he didn’t offer his hand or suggest that you should.  You just followed, eternally grateful for the pockets in your dress as you stuffed your shaking hands into them.

 

            It must be a joke, you thought.  The world out to get you.  For what?  You had studied hard, helped your dad, never gossiped (“No, Jimin, they’re not worth our time”), been so good for Tae, right?  So why was there a plate of seafood being placed in front of you?

            “I’m allergic,” you blurted out to no one, to yourself, to the fish in front of you, as if telling it would make it go away.

            “You,” some voice said, followed by, “shit.  Okay, hold on, I’ll be right back.”  And the plate was whisked away, leaving you sitting by yourself next to some stranger.  Not exactly a stranger, the lady in the emerald dress, the escort.

            “Are you new?” she said, her voice heavenly, her smell filling your lungs that seemed unable to breathe in anything else.

            “Sorry?” you managed, your throat extremely dry all of a sudden.

            “Oh, don’t worry, honey, there’s no need to pretend with me.”  She was striking, eerily so, her skin too perfect up close.  “What agency are you with?”

            “What ag—what?” you whispered, feeling like you couldn’t breathe.

            “Oh,” the lady laughed, like the tinkling of chimes, like the glass mobile hanging on Tae’s porch you had so carefully crafted, “you’re a tough one.  Well, your secret is safe with me.  And you’re safe with Yoongi.  He’s good.  Always is.  So have fun.”  She may have winked, or put her hand on your arm, or raised her glass toward you, but all you noticed was a plate being put in front of you.

            “Damn stupid pasta,” Yoongi muttered, “you would think, if my kid can do it, that these incompetent of—”

            “Yoongi,” you managed, grabbing whatever part of him was closest to you, his thigh, apparently, and you were met with a tiny grunt and someone chuckling.  “Home, please.”

            “W-yeah, okay, come on.”  Mumbles and mutters and a hand on your back and JaeEun, no, Yoongi, opening your door, and a cold window against your cheek that was wet for some reason, and nothing, nothing else except the quiet taps of a finger on a phone screen.  Nothing else.

Chapter Text

             He’s trying to remember the last time anyone he brought home looked at Tae and just loved him immediately.  Trying to recall a nanny that wanted to be there because she liked his kid, not because she liked the pay.  Trying to remember if Kwon ever looked at Tae the way Y/N looked at him.  It’s stupid.  He’s stupid.  What did it matter if whoever he fucked didn’t like his kid?  They wouldn’t be there in the morning.  What did it matter if whoever was watching Tae didn’t really love him?  As long as they kept him safe and happy, he would be fine.  What did it matter if he was too busy working to spend enough time with his only son?  He was providing for him in the only way he knew how. 

            But that was the problem.

            He’s stupid.

            He’s sad.

            That’s a joke, what a term to describe what he’s felt for four years.

            Like he’s drowning.  A cliché, but a good one.  Swimming through bullshit.  That she saw through immediately.  She scares the shit out of him.  He’s a bad dad.  He’s not around enough.  Tae is the best kid in the entire world, he’s his world, and he’s so far away.  He’s right there, snuggled in between Hoseok and this Jimin kid who look at him like he’s the most interesting person to ever exist, because he is.  He’s hugging Y/N but not him like she’s the most important person in his life, because she is.  Why wouldn’t she be?  He barely knows her, but he knows all he needs to.  She cares.  She’s there.  She’s wonderful.

            And he’s stupid.

            It’s stupid.

            That the love so obvious on her face as she squats down and kisses Tae’s face over and over again makes him want to kiss her back.

            Does he love her?

            Is it gratitude?

            Jealousy?

            Fear?

            Yeah.

            That’s it.

            It’s definitely fear.

            But he’s stupid, so he pours another drink and sends the boys home and ignores their stares and lets Y/N put Tae to bed while he tries to sort out his life.

            A joke.

            No one’s around to laugh.

            But she’s there, taking his bottle away again, and fussing at him, because of course she is, because he deserves that.  He shouldn’t have kissed her.  He shouldn’t have hired her.  He shouldn’t have kept Tae.  You’re a bad dad, a bad person, a bad man.  What would Tae think if he knew?  About the women and who they are and why they’re there?  About what a coward his dad is?  What would he think?  What does he think of Y/N?  Does he know what she is?  That she could leave at any moment like the rest?  Like his mom had?  Is he prepared to do that again to Tae?  He had really fucked up, huh?  Again.

            But every time he saw Y/N with Tae, ever since that first day in the library—not in the hard ware store, he was too panicked then, too blinded to register her—he’s wanted to kiss her, because he can’t explain it, he doesn’t understand, he doesn’t know if it’s gratitude or fear or jealousy or love.  He doesn’t know why he’s reacting this way to the love she shows his son.  He doesn’t know.  And he’s sorry, but every time he sees her with Tae, he just wants to kiss her.

            He’s stupid.

            And she’s just staring at him and sighing, and then taking his hand.  She’s leading him upstairs where they stand in Tae’s doorway with nothing between them, just the three of them breathing, and she’s taking down her hair and sighing again and squeezing his arm.  She’s moving Tae’s hair aside and kissing his forehead and fixing his blankets.  She’s standing by him and looking up into his face and asking something.  She’s asking something, stupid, pay attention.

            “So?  Yoongi?  Do you want to kiss me?”

 

 

            “Stop that.  Pay attention to me.  What is more interesting than me?”

            “Tae, obviously.”

            “Fair enough, fair enough.  But what’s the problem?”

            “New babysitter.”

            “Well, I’m sure they’ll be fine.  Come on, let’s go get a drink.”

 

            “Seriously, Yoongi, put your phone down, you’re being rude.”

            “No one cares.”

            “I care.”

            “You’re just jealous.”

            “Of course I am.  Love Tae, but I don’t get to see you enough.”

            “I see you more than I see my own kid, Hoseok.”

            “Not my fault, you know.  Now put your phone away.  Here, drink this.”

 

            “She just.  She.  I don’t understand.  She pisses me off so much.”

            “What?  A woman pissing you off?  Shocker.”

            “It’s just not fair, Hobi, how can he like some stranger more than me?”

            “Like—wait, Yoongi, are you jealous?”

            “No.”

            “Yoongi.  Yoongi.”

            “Give me another drink.”

 

            “She hasn’t replied yet.  What if she’s kidnapped him?”

            “Kid—damn, Yoongi, chill, drink this.”

            “What if it was all a trick.  I bet she knows who I am.  Is after my money.”

            “Not everyone is after your money, Yoongi.  That was literally one time, and 100% your fault.”

            “How can it be my fault?  Not my fault I’ve worked hard and am rich because of it.  That’s not fair, you’re not fair.”

            “You’re drunk.”

            “She’s not responding, Hoseok.  What if the house is on fire?”

            “The police would have called you.”

            “What if the police are in on it?”

            “God, Yoongi, here, no, give me that, no more, I’m cutting you off.”

            “You just handed this to me!”

            “And now I’m taking it back, ow, don’t hit me, what are you, five?  Stop.”

 

            “Hoseok.  I have made a terrible mistake.”

            “Just one?  Because I can name—”

            “I asked her to be Tae’s nanny.”

            “Oh.  At least you didn’t accidentally ask her to marry you.  That would have been embarrassing.  I mean, was it an accident?”

            “I was so drunk.  God, Hoseok, help me.”

            “Did you—”

            “"Oh, maybe she won’t remember.  Maybe she’ll think I was kidding.  Maybe I actually didn’t say it.”

            “Okay, buddy, good luck, Jin needs me.”

            “I need you, Hoseok, please.”

            “Oh, Yoongi, I’m touched, but Jin—”

 

            “She said yes.”

            “Oh, congratulations!  When’s the wedding?”

            “She’s here.  Like, she just agreed so quickly.  And Tae is so happy.  Hoseok, what am I doing?”

            “I don’t know.  My guess is you’re in your office regretting your life decisions while nursing a nasty hangover with a whiskey or coffee while trying to get me to tell you what to do with your life.”

            “Hobi.”

            “Yoongi.”

            “I’m going to get some more water.”

 

            “She spanked him, Hoseok.”

            “What?”

            “And he, he, Hoseok, she spanked him, and I almost freaked out, like I was standing there and I was so lost, I didn’t know what to do.  I never know what to do when he has a tantrum.  I don’t know how to control my own kid, Hoseok.  And she just spanked him, and then, then he just cried, and I almost cried.  What’s wrong with me?”

            “Yoo—”

            “And she just held him, and.”

            “Yoongi?”

            Breathing.

            “Yoongi?  Oh no.  Yoongi?”

 

            “So why didn’t you tell us she was so pretty?”

            A choke.

            “Oh, who’s pretty?  Do you have someone else, Yoongi?”

            “Yeah, Yoongi, do you?”

            “I don’t—”

            “Is she actually pretty, Jin, or are we just teasing Yoongi tonight?”

            “She’s pretty.  Not as pretty as me, though.”

            “Of course not, babe, you’re the prettiest.”

            “You’re only saying that because it’s my birthday.”

            “It is not your birthday.”

            “Then why are we here?”

            “Drinks!”

 

            “It’s clearly the way she is with Tae.”

            “What is?”

            “What’s got you so distracted.”

            “I’m not distracted.”

            “Yoongi, babe, hey—”

            “Oh?  Okay, I could point out twenty-three times in the last two weeks that you have been distracted.  First, twenty seconds ago when Shay tried to ask if you wanted another drink and you said something about not toasting earlier, and while I have no idea what you guys were toasting earlier, which, by the way, I’m a little sad I wasn’t invited for that, but—”

            “Okay, Joon, I get it, please stop.”

            “And yesterday—”

            “Yoongi, why is your wine cooler empty?  Yoongi!”

            “I’m not distracted, Namjoon, just confused.”

            “What are you confused about?”

            “Why is she so good with Tae?  Why is it so natural for her?  She’s so young.  She barely knows him.  But she, she gets him more than I do.”

            “Are you upset about that?”

            “I guess.  I mean, I’m not mad at her.  I’m more.”

            “Yoongi, I’m bored.”

            “More?”

            “Yoongi, Jin demands his favorite cup.  Where is his favorite cup?”

            “More.”

            “Oh.  Oh, Yoongi, oh no.”

            “Yoongi, let’s go upstairs.”

            “Yoongi, I demand wine!”

            “Yoongi?”

            “Yoongi!”

 

            “Are you sure everything’s okay?”

            “Yeah, yeah, Tae had a bad dream, peed on Y/N.”

            “He—what?  He peed on Y/N?”

            “What?  No, he wet the bed.  She cleaned him up.  She.  She was just standing there.”

            “Huh?  What babe?  No, not now, no, Jin, hey, Yoongi, sorry, what were you saying?  Ow, Jin, stop.  I know it’s your birthday, but, hey, Yoongi?”

            “She just took off her clothes and stood there like it was no big deal.”

            “What?  Who did?  Shay?  I mean, isn’t that what you were paying her for?”

            “Y/N.”

            “Yoongi.  You didn’t—ow, Jin, please, what did you do, Yoongi?”

            “Nothing!  She just stripped like it was nothing, Hobi.”

            “Jin, you’re so drunk, babe.  Why am I the responsible one in this relationship?”

            “Hoseok?”

            “Yeah, sorry, Yoongi, I have to go, Jin is…needy.  Sure you’re okay?”

            “Huh?  Yeah, totally.”

            “Yoongi?”

            “Huh?  Yeah, Hoseok?”

            “How’d she look?”

            “What?”

            “Y/N?  Jin, one second, I swear, okay, okay, yeah, okay, babe.”

            “Yeah, she was—”

            “Okay, babe, okay.”

            “Beautiful.”

            “Okay, okay, good, Yoongi, Jin, I gotta, Yoongi, I’ll, shit, talk to you later.”

            “Yeah.”

 

            “I think she’s mad at me.”

            “Who?”

            “Y/N, who else?”

            “Oh, I thought you meant Shay.”

            “Why would Shay be mad at me?”

            “Uh, because you kind of kicked her out last night.”

            “Why would that matter?  Hoseok, concentrate.  Y/N’s mad at me.”

            “Okay, I’m so sorry for trying to sleep in, how dare I, how dare I try to cuddle with my boyfriend after his birthday party?  Of course I should listen to my best friend at, holy shit, Yoongi, it’s so early.  Okay, okay, why is she mad?”

            “I’m a shit dad.”

            “Yoongi…”

            “And a shit friend.  Why did I invite you all over?”

            “Oh, wow, forgive me for assuming you actually cared about us.  I thought we had fun, but I guess we were but a mere inconvenience in your busy life.”

            “Hoseok, is Jin mad at me?”

            “No, and I’m not either, despite what I just said.  I don’t think he remembers much of what happened after we ate dinner, honestly.  How hungover are you?”

            “He’s not mad?”

            “Why would he be?”

            “I ran out of wine.”

            A laugh.

            “And I went upstairs with Shay.”

            “We were out of wine.  She got bored.  And probably wanted to get paid so she could go home.”

            “Hoseok.”

            “Why do you get all weird about this after the fact?  I feel like you should have passed all this awkwardness what with how many times—”

            “Hoseok.”

            “Yes, dear?”

            “Do you think that’s why Y/N’s mad?”

            “Because of Shay?”

            “Yeah.”

            “I feel like that’s a question for a straight guy, if I’m honest, Yoongi.  I have no idea why she would be mad at you because of Shay, unless she’s jealous, and it sounds like she hates you, so I don’t think she would be jealous.”

            “But she loves Tae.”

            “That’s obvious.”

            “Hoseok.”

            “Yoongi.”

            “Do you think I.  She.”

            “Nope, I sure don’t, Yoongi.”

 

            “She kissed me.”

            “Who?”

            “She kissed me.”

            “Who?  Yoongi, slow down.”

            “Y/N, she kissed me.”

            “Oh.  Shit.  From the beginning, please.”

            “Joon, she, I mean, it was just the cheek.”

            “Oh, that doesn’t count.”

            “What?  Yes it does.”

            “Fine, explain.”

            “We went shopping because she needed a dress for tomorrow, and heels, and Tae came with us, and there was this bitch in the shoe store who almost made a remark about my son wanting to buy heels. They had Moana on them, though, Joon, so of course he wanted them, and Y/N just stepped in and stopped her, like, defended him before anything happened.  And then he wanted this dress, this yellow dress, and he looked so cute in it, okay, and maybe it’s a problem, maybe I shouldn’t let him, I don’t know, maybe he’ll be made fun of and I should stop him before he gets hurt, but that’s all a bunch of bullshit, Joon, he should be able to wear what he wants, so we were going to get the damn dress, okay?  And this lady, this lady just had to say something, and I don’t even remember what I said, shit, I was so mad, and then Y/N just kissed me.  Thanked me for being there for Tae.  And she likes my laugh.”

            “That’s.”

            “What?  That’s what?”

            “It was just a kiss, Yoongi.  She really likes Tae.”

            “She does.  She loves him.”

            “And you love Tae.”

            “Of course I do, he’s my son.”

            “Right.”

            “Right.”

            “Mhmm.”

            “Namjoon.  What?”

            “Oh, Yoongi.”

 

            “We have a problem.”

            “Yoongi, I’m sorry it’s late, seriously, I promise, okay, maybe don’t promise, but I am working on it.  The lyrics just aren’t working.”

            “Not that.  I mean, yes, that, I can’t believe it’s not done yet.  It should have been finished three days ago.  Three days!”

            “I know, I know, that’s why I won’t be there tonight, not even having a drink, going to finish this for you, Yoongi, I promise.”

            “That’s fine, that’s fine.  But she looks so good.”

            “Huh?  Who.”

            “The nanny.”

            “The—oh.  Is that why we’re talking in Korean?  Not that I don’t enjoy randomly switching between languages, as it keeps my—”

            “Yeah, she’s in the car with me.  But she—”

            “Yoongi?”

            “Sorry.”

            “Yoongi?  Are we switching to English now?”

            “Oh God—”

            ““Okay, Korean still—”

            ““—She says she’s nervous.  I’m making her nervous.”

            “You’re making me nervous, Yoongi, shit.  Get a hold of yourself.”

            “I’m going to mess this up.”

            “Mess up what?  What are you doing?”

            “I thought bringing her would be nice, but I don’t know anything about her, except she loves T-she loves my kid, and she’s so uncomfortable.”

            “Are you—did you think this was like, a date?  Does she think that?”

            “Help.”

            “Why are you so pathetic around her?”

            “I don’t know.”

            “Mmm?”

            “Why do you always do that?”

            “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

            “She’s holding my hand.  I don’t know what to do.”

            “Yoongi, you’re not fifteen.  Just treat her like any other date.”

            “What?  Are you crazy?  I can’t do that.”

            “Okay, then, I don’t know what else to tell you.”

            “Help me.”

            “Oh, someone else is calling, gotta go.”

            “Don’t you—dare…”

 

You (8:45PM)

We’re headed back

I fucked up

Can you wake Tae up?

 

Hoseok (8:52PM)
Confession

He’s still awake

 

You (8:53PM)

Of course.

 

Hoseok (8:54PM)

Also, what happened?

 

You (8:55PM)

Kissed her

 

Hoseok (8:56PM)

Idiot

 

You (8:58PM)
Yeah

 

            “So?  Yoongi?  Do you want to kiss me?”’  

            He did.

            So he did.

            “Okay.  Okay, goodnight Mr. Min.”

            Oh.

            Okay.

Chapter Text

            Okay, breathe.

            “Every time I see you with Tae, I want to kiss you.

            You can figure this out.

            “Jimin?” you said, safe in your bed, curled up in your blankets, trying to ground yourself with your phone pressed to your ear, your friend far away but his voice close.

            “Shit, Y/N?  Are you okay?  What happened?”  Jimin’s voice, slightly high pitched, was always able to make you feel better.  You had fallen asleep talking on the phone plenty of times.  So what if it made you feel young or needy.

            “Sorry for making you leave like that.  Did you get home alright?”

            “Yeah, yeah, I’m home.  Sure you’re okay?”  He was obviously rustling around, probably already in bed, probably sitting up so he could stay awake for you.

            “He kissed me,” you whispered, trying to make yourself even smaller.

            “Oh.  Oh.  Did, uh, you want him to?”

            “No.  I don’t know.  No, Jimin, that’s not what I’m here for.”

            “I know, I know.  What happened?”  His voice had lowered while yours rose, a soothing trick you knew well but let him do anyway.  You sighed, rolling over on your back and flopping an arm over your face even though the room was already too dark.

            “I never should have agreed to go to the stupid party in the first place.  He pointed out this escort to me who he’s apparently…been with, and then she was sitting next to me.  She, she thought I was one, too, gah, and, I don’t know, something flipped in me, like, he brings those women home while Tae is here.”

            “I mean—”

            “No, Jimin, if he needs to get off, or whatever, he should go somewhere else, not bring it, them,” you sighed again, “around Tae.”

            “I mean, it is his decision.”

            “I know, but it’s the wrong decision.”

            “I hear that,” Jimin said, rustling around again.  “But what about the kiss?”

            “Oh, yeah, that was after the escort but before the dinner.  After I called you to check on Tae.  I hung up and he kissed me.”

            “Huh,” Jimin huffed.  “And did he say anything?”

            “No, but, after you left he did.  I don’t even know if he knew he was telling me.  He hadn’t had that much to drink, but he seemed really out of it.  I don’t know, like, I’ve caught Tae talking to himself before, and it’s the cutest thing ever, but I thought that was just what kids did.  I don’t know, maybe he actually gets it from Yoongi.  He was just sitting there going on and on about me and Tae and, I don’t know, Jimin.  He just sounded so small?”

            “I mean, he is shorter than I expected him to be.”

            “He’s literally your height.”

            “I’m not ashamed of my height,” Jimin preened.  “Makes me bite size and loveable.”

            “Gross,” you said, but you smiled lightly, imagining your friend’s face.  It was pretty squishable in most instances.

            “Anyway, kiss?”

            “Yeah, so he said every time he sees me with Tae he wants to kiss me.”

            “He.  Wow,” Jimin breathed out.  “So he wants to kiss you, like, all, the time, then?  You’re always with Tae.”

            “I know.  Oh,” you laughed, “are you jealous?”

            “Of a four-year-old?  No.  He is super cute, and we’re friends now, so no, I’m totally not threatened.”

            “Sure,” you sighed again.  “Jimin.  What am I supposed to do?”

            “Well, you could quit.  Or kiss him.  Or keep working and ignore him?  Isn’t he really busy, anyway?”

            “Yeah, he’s honestly rarely around.  But still.  Why.  Why did he kiss me?”

            “I don’t know, Y/N,” Jimin said, his voice sleepy.  There was another rustling noise before you heard his voice again.  “How was it?  Was it good?”

            “Jimin.”

            “I mean, was it a bad kiss?”  You paused, apparently for too long.  “I’ll take that as a no.”

            “Jimin!”

            “Y/N, don’t think too much about it.”

            “Jimin, he’s my boss.”

            “Oh yeah,” Jimin sighed, then laughed, “yeah, that is pretty inappropriate.”  You huffed and rolled over, pulling your covers all the way over your head.

            “What am I gonna do?” you groaned.

            “I know this might sound crazy, but maybe you should talk to him?  Just get everything straight.  Let him know what you want.”

            “I want to take care of Tae.”

            “And kiss his dad?”

            “No, no, Jimin, I don’t want to kiss Yoongi.”

            “Okay, there you go then,” Jimin yawned.  “Glad I could help you figure it out.”

            “Jimin?” you said after a moment of listening to him breathe.  He hummed to acknowledge that he had heard you.  “Did you have fun with Hoseok?”

            “Oh, shit, Y/N, I was such a mess the moment you left, God, I was so embarrassed.  But he was so down to earth, you know?  Like, really chill, and he just acted like he had always known me, which was weird at first, but, I don’t know, he was so easy to talk to, and it felt like I had known him for years.”

            “I’m happy to hear it,” you said honestly, smiling at the thought of Hoseok joking around with your best friend.  “He’s a character, but he seems really nice.”

            “So nice, Y/N.  He even offered to set up a meeting with Namjoon.”

            “What?” you almost shouted, flinging your covers off of your head.  “What?  Jimin?  What?”

            “Yeah,” Jimin laughed, the sound like the sound a mobile clinking against itself in the wind.  “Isn’t that crazy?”

            “So crazy, Jimin.”

            “He even let me take a picture with him.  Hold on, I’ll send it to you,” Jimin said, and you tried to tame your smile as you waited.  When your phone buzzed against your ear, you pulled it away just enough to open up the picture he had sent.

            “God, you’re so cute,” you cooed at it.  “You look like best friends already.”

            “Aw, Y/N, are you jealous?” Jimin teased.

            “Not at all,” you laughed before taking a deep breath and letting the silence hang between you for a comfortable minute.  “Hey, Jimin, thanks for everything.”

            “Of course,” Jimin said.  “I hope you get everything figured out.”

            “Yeah, me too.”

            “Y/N?” Jimin said softly, and you hummed in response.  “His lips are really little.  Was it actually a good kiss?  I just can’t im—”

            “Night, Jimin,” you said, rolling your eyes and hanging up.  You set your alarm before placing your phone on your nightstand.  Just talk to him.  Why were so many things in life easier said than done?

           

            “Oh, fuck,” Yoongi groaned, almost jumping out of his bed when his eyes pried open and registered you standing over his bed, but his body was still too tired, so only his shoulders moved a tiny bit.  You were holding a cup of coffee that his eyes immediately landed on before he groaned again, his legs shifting under his blankets.  Despite how cold it was outside, he wasn’t wearing a shirt, and once again you were surprised at how pale his skin was against his gray sheets.

            “Morning,” you said, mustering your sweetest smile as you put the coffee down on his nightstand.

            “Shit, what time is it?”

            “6:30?”

            “Why?  Why is it 6:30?” Yoongi groaned, rubbing his hands over his eyes.

            “Because that comes after 6:29?”

            “On a Sunday, though?” Yoongi said, trying to sit up but flopping back down instead.

            “We need to talk.  I made you coffee,” you said, lacing your fingers together behind your back.

            “Can this not wait until later?”

            “No.  I figured we should talk before Tae wakes up.”

            “When does he usually wake up?”

            “There’s no ‘usually’ with his morning schedules yet.  Later, I hope.”

            “Okay, okay,” Yoongi managed, so you moved his blanket aside and sat beside him, one of your legs curled into you, the other one hanging off the bed.  He eyed you and then looked at the cup of coffee before looking back at you.  He wasn’t wearing enough clothes for this conversation, you thought, and you noticed the way he seemed to be bracing himself as he sat up on his elbows.  Biting your lip once to steady yourself, you took a deep breath before asking,

            “Where is Tae’s mom?”  He didn’t even flinch, but he took a few breathes before answering.  Based on his reaction, it doesn’t seem to be the question he was expecting.

            “Why—this isn’t a conversation I want to have at 6:30 in the morning on a Sunday.”

            “Well, I was going to ask you last night, but it didn’t seem like the right time.  Thought you should sleep and clear your head.”

            “Clear my head,” he whispered more to himself than to you, avoiding your gaze.  “Clear my head.  Yeah.  Yeah, okay.”  He sat up completely, the rest of his blanket falling into his lap and exposing the rest of his bare stomach.  He reached past his coffee cup to grab his phone and started scrolling though it without looking at you.

            “Hey.  Wow, that’s rude,” you clenched your jaw and started to get up, but he reached for your knee.  You let him hold you down and took the phone he was handing toward you while glaring suspiciously at him.  There was a picture of a lady she didn’t recognize on the screen, clearly Korean, clearly beautiful.  “Okay?”

            “You don’t recognize her?”

            “No.  Should I?”

            “No, I.  Really?”  Yoongi sounded so surprised you felt a little annoyed.

            “No, sorry, is she a musician?” you said, and Yoongi nodded his head.  “Jimin probably would, then, but I’m really not up to date on music, sorry, I know that must hurt to hear, but we listen to oldies and basically only oldies.”

            “That’s a sad life,” Yoongi muttered.

            “Don’t judge me based on the music I listen to.  Who is this?”

            “Kwon,” he said, taking his phone back and closing the tab immediately.  “You’ve never heard of her?” You shook your head and Yoongi sighed, leaning back in his pillows again.  “Okay.  Well, she’s Tae’s mom.”

            “Oh.  Does.  Does he know?”

            “No.”

            “Does anyone?”

            “No.  Well, I mean, I do, and Namjoon and Jin and Hoseok, because they’ve known me forever.  And she knows.”

            “Oh, good, that would be really weird if she didn’t know.”  Yoongi actually laughed, but it died quickly as he sat up and scooted back against his head board, his knee still sticking out from his blanket.  “So what happened?”

            “I was stupid.  I really don’t want to talk about this.”  You didn’t respond except to hand him his coffee.  He took a sip and then handed it back to you, his face blank.  He took a deep breath.  “We dated for a few years.  Before either of us had really made it big.  I mean, I had been in the industry already for like six years.  I basically started working when I was sixteen.  But no one knew me yet.  And she, she was young, like around your age, when we met.  And she was good.  She still is.  Extremely talented.  Actually writes the majority of her own stuff.  Knew how to network and schmooze with the best of them.  And she’s beautiful, and so we dated, but no one knew.  We were really secret about it.  I mean, Namjoon and Jin and Hoseok knew, but yeah.  And she was doing all this dieting and taking these pills to try to get everything regulated, and we messed up.  I was stupid.  And she got pregnant.  Isn’t that how it always goes?  And you can hide a pregnancy for a few months, so we did, but the minute someone said something about how she was looking fat, we stopped all her events and faked some family issue she needed to concentrate on, and no one was the wiser.  So for months she just hid.  We just hid, and I think it drove her crazy a little.  I think those months is what started it, the resentment.  And, I mean, she got a lot of writing done.  She, we, made a ton of songs.  Most of them super angsty, which, in hindsight, is funny, isn’t it?  Most people would be excited about having a kid.  We ended up not being able to use most of them.  Anyway, it’s not that we weren’t excited or happy.  I know I was, but I think I realized before it happened, I’m not sure when exactly, but maybe it was when she started to make plans for the month after his due date, as if she thought she was going to just go back out and get back on a stage and go back to life as normal and—”

            “Yoongi,” you said calmly, reaching out to touch his leg under the blanket, “did you know you ramble when you’re nervous?”

            “I’m not nervous.  I’m.”  He sighed. 

            “Okay.  Okay, so what happened?”

            “So she left Tae.  That’s the long story short,” he said, leaning forward a little, his shoulders slumped, as he met your gaze.  “She chose her career.  She picked music over him.”

            “That’s shitty,” you said simply, your lips pressed together as your fists clenched, one of them bunching up Yoongi’s blanket.  He laughed once, a harsh, short laugh.

            “Yes.  I am shitty.”  You cocked your head at him.  “I choose my music over Tae every day.”

            “Yoongi.”

            “It’s the same.  I’m the same as her.”

            “No.  No, Yoongi, stop,” you said, reaching for his leg again.  “My mom left when I was fourteen.  She was my mom for fourteen years longer than Tae’s was, so while my experience is like, 98% different from his, my mom still left.  And no mom, no parent, should leave their kid, no matter how old they are.  And, I mean, maybe if she had stayed she would have sucked the life out of my dad and I, so maybe it is better she left.  And maybe it’s better that Tae’s mom left.  Maybe it would have been worst if she stayed.  But she left.  And that’s shitty.  And you stayed.”

            “No, I’m a shitty dad,” Yoongi said, and he looked at his lap, or at your arm on his leg, or at nothing, and he didn’t move until you moved your hand away and laced your fingers in your lap.

            “Okay,” you said, and his head whipped up, and he blinked at you several times.  “Okay.  So stop being a shitty dad.”

            “Sto-” he said before laughing.  You only shrugged.

            “I know it may be one of those ‘easier said than done’ deals, but that’s because it is really easy.  I’m not saying you should stop working or not make music anymore.  Obviously you need to work.  But just eat with the kid.  Draw with him for fifteen minutes.  Go play basketball with him.  You see how he lights up around you.  And me, I mean, I can keep him safe, and feed him, and clean him up, and comfort him, but I’m not his mom, and I’m not you.  There’s nothing like a parent’s love.  I’m not trying to replace that, because I can’t.  At the end of the day, I love your kid, but it doesn’t matter how much I do, because he needs your love first, more.”

            “Y/N,” he said, reaching for your wrist, causing you to stop.   Apparently you rambled a bit when you were nervous, too.  Not nervous.  Just.  You watched him watch his thumb rub back and forth on your skin and sat for a moment, smelling his coffee on his nightstand, listening for any signs of Tae stirring.

            “If you want,” you said slowly and quietly, “if I’m still Tae’s nanny, and you agree, I can make you spend time with him.  Like plan meetings with him, put him in your calendar.”

            “That’s,” Yoongi laughed through his nose, “pathetic.”  You shrugged, your wrist moving a tiny bit in his grasp.

            “You do what you have to.  And call it what you want.  But just fifteen minutes a day.  And at least one meal a day with him.  That’s not a lot.  Start small.  Share your calendar with me, or whatever you use, and we’ll make it happen.”

            “Y/N,” he said again, still not looking at you.

            “Am I still Tae’s nanny?” That got his attention, his grip tightening on your wrist, his thumb stilling as he looked up.

            “Yes. Yes, please, I-we need you still.”

            “Alright, then, then I’m adding this to my duties.  Make Yoongi spend time with his son.”  You waited for him to contradict you, but he only moved his thumb over your wrist again, so you took a deep breath.  “Okay, now, on to other matters.  If you’re going to be my boss, you can’t kiss me.”  A beat.  Yoongi withdrew his hand and placed it in his lap limply.  “It’s just, I mean, I don’t know if Tae knows about the women you bring home, and if he does, what you’ve told him, but I don’t want to be lumped in with them.”  Another head whip, and Yoongi only stared at you, his brown eyes flickering over your face.  “I just can’t imagine what would happen if—” you looked away out into the second living room, seeing Tae’s barely opened door in the darkness.  “I don’t want to confuse or hurt him.”

            “I’m sorry,” Yoongi mumbled.

            “Okay,” you said, smiling and patting his leg twice before withdrawing your arm and yourself from his bed.  You picked up his coffee to hand back to him.  “You can go back to sleep now, that’s all I wanted to talk about.”  He didn’t move to take his coffee, so you put it back down and turned to leave, but you stopped at the doorway and turned around, your hand on the doorknob.

            “Is that why my age bothers you?”

            “What?” Yoongi said, looking up at you and blinking a few times.  “Your age doesn’t bother me.”

            “Really?”

            “I mean.”

            “Yoongi,” you said softly, and he sighed.

            “I guess I thought part of the reason why she left was because she was only twenty-two.  Because she was young.  But you.  You’re younger.  And you would never give up on Tae.”

            “I would never.”

            “So,” he shrugged.

            “So?” you shrugged back.

            “So, no, your age doesn’t bother me,” he said, sighing too deeply.  “It impresses me.  I know I came across as a dick when we met, but the fact that you never went to college didn’t bother me, it impressed me.  Shit, I never went to college.  You help run a successful business.  You’re a natural with Tae, and that doesn’t bother me, it impresses me.  It’s impressed me so much that it scares the shit out of me, Y/N, it makes me feel like I’m a shitty dad, and,” he said, putting his hand out when you opened your mouth, “I don’t blame you for that.  I know I didn’t explain well last night, but when I see you with Tae I don’t know how to express how scared and grateful I am.  That’s why I kissed you.”  You tightened your grip on the door’s handle as he finished, and then he sighed and reached for his coffee, shifting slightly on his bed, his covers falling even more off of his legs.  “So, no, I don’t give a shit how old you are.  Just, keep taking care of my kid.”

            “Okay, Mr. Yoongi,” you said, and even though he glared at you over his cup, you shared a knowing smile before closing the door behind you.

 

            Maybe it actually was going to be that easy.  Maybe clarifying things with Yoongi was all you needed to do.  Maybe everything would just carry on as normal now.

            Maybe you were a bit naïve.

            Maybe, just maybe, your rational, adult, responsible conversation only made it worse for yourself.

            Because suddenly Yoongi was around more.  And not just around, but talking to you more, texting you if he was away to check in on Tae, requesting pictures and updates, asking what you both wanted for dinner.  He took your “fifteen minutes” idea and ran with it.  It’s not like he was around all the time, not really, but it was more, and the more was a little overwhelming.  Because even if he looked tired or stressed, eventually as he sat beside Tae or listened to him or tossed a basketball back and forth with him, his face would relax, and the softest smile would steal across his face.  And you would just sit or stand there, trying not to stare, but you kept finding yourself unable to look away.  It was like the dress incident all over again.  Yoongi looked at Tae with nothing but love, and you couldn’t understand why he though you proposing he simply spend time with his son was such a novel idea to him.  He was such a natural with Tae. 

            And Tae.  Tae ate it up.  He was naturally a happy child, but the week that followed made you rethink the past couple of weeks.  Because Tae was happy around you, but he was ecstatic around his dad.  And that was a little overwhelming.

            At first, you weren’t sure why you were still annoyed with Yoongi.  He was clearly trying to do exactly what you had suggested.  He ate at least one meal—usually lunch—with the both of you, came out to play with Tae for almost an hour every afternoon, and was present enough to kiss Tae goodnight every night.  He followed Tae around on Thursday at the library instead of sitting at a table and working on his computer.  And he listened to his son, and smiled, and laughed, and you were frustrated.  Because at any moment his phone could, would, ring, a release date would get moved, a meeting would be called, and he would be gone.  And what would that do to Tae?  He was setting up an expectation of being around more, of being present for his kid, and how would Tae react when his dad got too busy again, too distracted by work to spend time with his son anymore?  You were worried.

            And, also, Yoongi being around more for Tae meant being around you more.  It meant catching him glancing at you over his plate, making sure to hand you a crayon when Tae told him to with a glint in his eye, smiling at you when you managed to make Tae laugh, standing in the doorway as you tucked Tae in bed, being so close you wanted to squirm or pull him closer every time Tae hugged you.  You were confused.

            So maybe that’s why you asked for a night off.  You needed to get away.  Clear your head.

            “Yoongi?” you whispered in the doorway, leaning as far away from him as possible, your hands behind your back pressed into the frame.  He hummed, still looking at his son who was curled up in bed, already fast asleep after an exhausting day running around and reading two, not one, but two books from the library.  “Could I, would you mind if I go see my dad tomorrow?”

            “Huh?  Yeah, sure, you took Tae before, right?”

            “I mean without Tae, just me,” you said, and he turned to look at you, now.  He leaned back on the other side of the doorway, his brows furrowed slightly.  “I just.  You probably can’t relate, but I need to saw something.”

            “S-” Yoongi said before smiling one of his wide smiles you were getting used to seeing that still managed to disorient you every time.  “No, I can’t relate,” he whispered.

            “I can call Hoseok, see if he can watch Tae for a while?  Or, you could watch him.  You can do it, if you have the time.”  Yoongi looked back into the dark room for a minute, his hands stuffed in his pockets before he nodded once.

            “I can do it.”

            “Thanks,” you said, letting out the breath you hadn’t realized you were holding.  “I’ll be back before bed time.”

            “Of course,” Yoongi said, waving you off, “I owed you a day off last week, so, please, go.”

            “Okay,” you said, smiling, “I can tell where I’m not wanted.”  You pushed off of the doorframe to head downstairs to sleep, but Yoongi’s arm whipped out to grab your wrist.  His grasp relaxed the moment you both registered what he was doing, and then his hand dropped to his side.

            “You’ll come back?”

            “Yeah, yeah, Yoongi, of course.”

            “Right,” he said, putting his hand back in his pocket.  “Night, Y/N.”

            “Night, Mr. Yoongi.”

            “Tha-yeah, good night,” he sighed, not watching as you went downstairs.

 

            Asking for an afternoon off was easy.  Telling Tae your plans, however, was not so much.  He simply couldn’t comprehend why he couldn’t come to your dad’s with you.  He wanted to see the dogs and play with the hay again and find nails to sort and stack.

            “Tae,” you said, trying to sooth him before he had a meltdown, “I’ll be back before you go to bed.  I just need to go see my dad.  You’re going to stay here with your dad.”

            “He d-doesn’t want to play with me,” Tae sniffed, tiny tears already accumulating in his eyes.

            “Oh, no, buddy, he does.  He has to work some, but he’s going to spend the afternoon with you.”

            “He-he won’t,” Tae said, and you ran your hands up and down his arms, watching his face melt.  Even after a week of his dad being around more, he was still too used to him being distant, absent.  It was going to take more than a few meals and kisses goodnight for Tae to forget how much his dad didn’t seem to want him.

            “Tae, I have an idea.  But we need Gilin, a blanket, a flashlight, lots of paper, and your box of crayons.”  The list made Tae’s head cock and his lips stick out as he thought before his curiosity got the best of him.

            “Okay,” he said softly but determinedly, taking your hand and leading you upstairs.  He gathered everything you had requested as best as he could, though you had to carry the flashlight, paper, and crayons when his hands got too full.  Once everything was together, you went back downstairs, grabbed him a cold water bottle and a box of goldfish before heading toward Yoongi’s office.  Only when you were outside the door did Tae seem to realize what was about to happen, but instead of looking excited like you had expected, he held onto his stuffed giraffe and blanket tighter, shaking his head back and forth.

            “No, Y/N, we can’t,” he gasped.

            “Tae,” you said, looking down at him, your arms full of too many things, “it’s okay.”

            “No, Y/N, no, daddy will get mad.”  He was starting to cry again, and you squatted down, abandoning everything in your arms to pull him closer again.  You made a mental note to ask Yoongi about what he had made his son so terrified of bothering him while he worked to elicit such a response every time he got close to the door.

            “Tae, he will not get mad.  I have to go, and I need you to be a good boy and stay with your dad.”

            “Will b-bother him,” Tae sniffed.

            “You will not.  We brought all of this stuff so you can sit on the couch and play by yourself if he’s too busy.  And you can take your nap in here today.”

            “W-want you to stay,” Tae said, and you tried to steady your breath as you wiped away a tear falling down his cheek.

            “I know, and I’ll be back later, after dinner.”  He stood still in your arms for a moment, his little brain on overdrive, but the moment you stood up and knocked on the door, he practically screamed and fell to the ground.  You looked down at him once before opening up the door slightly.  You had experienced Tae’s wild tantrums, his limbs flailing and his lungs pushing themselves to their very limits.  You would have almost preferred to deal with that type of tantrum again.  This time Tae went completely limp on the ground, half buried in his blanket already, his tears coming quickly even though the only sound was of him trying to catch his breath.  It was eerie and unsettling and something you never wanted to witness again, and you immediately bent down again to scoop him up, pressing him against your chest.

            “Wha—” you heard Yoongi say as the door opened all the way.  You hadn’t seen him yet today, but he looked like he always did, dressed in an oversized hoodie, jeans with rips at the knees, his eyes slightly red, tired already.

            “He thinks you don’t want him,” you said, trying not to clench your jaw or your fingers too tightly around the boy in your arms.

            “What did you tell him?” Yoongi said, the hurt obvious in his voice as he stepped aside so you could come in.  You made your way to the couch, and he waited for a moment before picking up everything you had dropped on the floor in the hallway.

            “That you do want him, of course,” you huffed, rubbing your fingers through Tae’s hair.  “He doesn’t want me to go.  Why’s he so terrified of coming in here?”

            “I don’t know,” Yoongi said, looking around with his arms full before dropping everything on the couch.  You didn’t quite believe him, but you just added another mental note to your list as you shifted Tae in your arms.

            “Can you watch him today?”

            “Of course,” Yoongi said adamantly.

            “Do you want to?”

            “Of course,” Yoongi said, a little more desperately.

            “You hear that, Tae?” you whispered, pressing your face into the top of Tae’s head.  “Your daddy wants to spend time with you.”

            “D-d-d,” Tae whined, and you struggled to move his blanket away from his face to ensure he could breathe and be heard.  He curled his head more into your chest, though, as if he was trying to disappear.

            “Tae.  Tae.  Can you?” you said, looking at Yoongi.  He took a step closer but stopped, so unsure of what to do.  “Just come here,” you said softer, and Yoongi got closer until his chest was pressed against the bundle in your arms.  “Tae, go to your dad.”  For an answer, Tae only grabbed onto you harder and let out a sob.  You tried not to sigh as you looked up at Yoongi.  He looked pained and lost, but he finally raised his arms to try to take Tae, his arms positioning themselves alongside yours.

            “Tae,” he said, pressing his face close to his son’s, “I got you.”  You were glad there were four arms supporting him, because Tae somehow went completely limp again as you pulled away, but the second you stepped away he turned around in Yoongi’s arms to wrap his arms around his dad’s neck.

            “He’ll,” you started, watching Yoongi trying to look at Tae’s face, “text me if you need anything.”

            “Yeah,” Yoongi whispered into Tae’s head, not looking up at you.  You reached to pat Tae one more time but only managed to touch a part of the blanket before pulling away.  You pulled the door shut before sending your dad a quick text letting him know you were coming over.  For some reason, the moment you climbed into your truck and shut your door, your windows rattling as the whole frame of your car shook, your body shook as you cried.

 

            Your dad understood more than anyone, even more than Jimin, the importance of distracting yourself with work, and your dad recognized, more than anyone else, what your face looked like after you had cried, so the moment you stepped into the store, the bell above the door announcing your entrance, he stopped talking to the customer he was helping to envelope you in a hug.  He smelled like sawdust and smoke, even though you knew he didn’t smoke, and you wondered if he had made a brush fire lately and hadn’t washed his overalls this week.  If he was keeping up with laundry at all since you had started being Tae’s nanny.

            “Hey, kiddo,” he mumbled into your hair, and you smiled, breathing deeply for what felt like a long time.  “There’s a table needs sanding in the barn.”

            “On it,” you sighed, smiling as you pushed away from him.  Your dogs, the punks, barely raised their heads from the porch, but all came trooping over to smell you and give tiny licks to your pants and palms.  They situated themselves in a corner in the barn, all huddled together for warmth, and you thought for a moment of going to get some gloves but decided against it.  The table, not put together yet, was spread out over several work tables, and you ran your fingers over the legs gently, checking for which ones were already done.  The design was going to require you to sand by hand, but you didn’t mind.  You preferred using your hands to a machine, so you got started immediately, sitting on a stool and letting your shoulders hunch over in a posture that was sure to be painful after too long, but you loved smelling the wood and watching as your fingers went into every groove and over every line with care.  It wasn’t long before you were humming to yourself, ignorant to anything else around you, even when the dogs all leapt up for a moment, excited as someone entered the barn, even when someone else picked up a table leg near you and sat on the other side of the table to work.  Only when the leg was done and you put it down, stretching your fingers and warming them up, did you notice some kid, that Jungkook kid.

            “Yo,” he said, when he saw you.  You hummed at him, watching him closely as you picked up another leg.  He was sanding the leg he held almost absentmindedly, and certainly not hard enough.  He would have to do it again if he kept that up.  “Where’s the kid?”

            “With his dad.”

            “Ah,” he said, and the two of you sat in relative silence again as you both worked.  You didn’t mind it, actually, and he didn’t seem to mind when you started humming slightly under your breath again.  But when you finished another leg and he was still on the same one, you huffed a little.

            “You need to do it harder, otherwise you’ll have to do it again.”

            “That’s what she said,” the kid mumbled, and you gaped for a moment before laughing.  Jungkook actually stopped sanding for a moment to look at you, one eyebrow raised.

            “There’s no way you’re twenty-two,” you said, dabbing your face with your sleeve.  “Why’d you lie about your age?”

            “I didn’t,” he said, and you stared at him for long enough to wonder if you were suddenly having a staring contest.

            “I mean, it doesn’t really matter, unless you’re like, on the run from the police or something,” you said, and he didn’t contradict you, but he didn’t say anything, either.  “Is your name even Jungkook?”

            “Yes.”

            “Have you ever had a job before?  Because I don’t know if I would call you, good, at this yet,” you said, pointing at the leg in his hand.

            “I have.”

            “Right,” you said, staring at him again.  “Right, okay.  So, Jungkook, twenty-two, where did you go to college?”

            “Local university back home,” he said, turning his attention back to the leg, rubbing a little harder on it now.

            “And where is home?”

            “Elsewhere,” he grunted.

            “Right, of course.  What’d you major in?”

            “Business.”

            “Ah, want to open one of your own one day?” you said, and he shrugged.  “It’s really hard, but totally worth it.  And my dad’s definitely the person to ask about it.  There are some books in my room worth reading, too, if you get around to it.  You know, since it’s your room now, anyway.”

            “Do you hate that I’m here?” he said, and you stretched your fingers again as you watched the top of his head, his hair a soft brown color.

            “I don’t know you, so I don’t care.  I do care, however, if you work hard so you’re not mooching off of my dad.  Sand harder and work faster.  You’re still on one and I’ve finished two already.”  He mumbled something incoherent before going quiet again.  And you didn’t mind.  You didn’t mind that he sped up, either, and soon all of the legs and the top were done.  You didn’t mind that he sat down to dinner with you and your dad.  You didn’t mind that your dad talked to him more than he talked to you.  You didn’t mind that you felt a little bit like an outsider in your own home.  You didn’t mind sitting by yourself while they sat on opposite ends of the couch and found some action flick re-run on the television.  You didn’t mind observing the boy who was obviously lying but seemed safe enough. 

            You did, however, mind when your thoughts drifted back to Tae and Yoongi.  Because suddenly you felt selfish.  They weren’t your family.  You just worked for them.  But you wanted to make sure Tae was alright, make sure Yoongi was okay.  The thought made you uncomfortable, because you knew you should trust Yoongi to take care of his own son, but all you could picture was Tae’s face as he wilted to the ground outside of his dad’s office, and you took out your phone.  Your fingers hesitated, though, hovering over your screen.  You could just wait.  You would go back in a couple of hours anyway.  They were probably busy.  Tae didn’t need you, and Yoongi didn’t either, not really, despite what he had said.  You looked up at your dad who was pointing to the screen and reaching over to whack Jungkook’s shoulder.  He didn’t need you, either, really.

 

You (6:42PM)

Hey

Did he calm down alright?

 

Yoongi (6:50PM)

Yeah

Took a nap

It rained here

So we got very dirty

 

You (6:52PM)

Oh shoot

Didn’t rain here, weird

Is Melinda going to freak out?

 

Yoongi (6:54PM)
nah, only we got dirty

Is it weird my kid likes baths so much?

 

You (6:58PM)

Ha, a little

I’m so glad he calmed down and is all clean

 

Yoongi (7:02PM)

Yep, clean, happy kid

I’m clean and happy too, btw

*Image Attached*

 

You laughed out loud at the picture, causing your dad and Jungkook to both eye you suspiciously, and you waved them off by clearing your throat.  You did it again, but this time something got stuck in your throat and burned all the way down to your stomach where it tossed around and made you a little dizzy.

 

You (7:10PM)

You don’t look very happy there

 

Yoongi (7:14PM)

Maybe I miss you

 

Oh.  Oh, whatever delicious, homecooked meal your dad had made you was being tossed around relentlessly now, too.  It was mixed together with something you couldn’t identify that felt a little bit like fear or annoyance or excitement or confusion.

 

Yoongi (7:15PM)

They make the backspace button for a reason, don’t they?

Sorry

Tae misses you

We’ll see you later

 

You (7:18PM)

I’m heading back now

If that’s okay

 

Yoongi (7:20PM)

Yeah

Of course

 

            It wasn’t okay.  Not really.  Not if your stomach was any indication of the State of Things.  You kissed your dad on the forehead before you left, grateful he didn’t question you leaving earlier than expected and received a grunt of acknowledge from Jungkook on your way out, which was more than you had expected.  Your car rumbled all the way back to the house (your house? your home? what was it?), causing your stomach to freak out even more, and you let yourself in the front door slowly.  A low mummer drifted downstairs, and you stopped by your room to take off your shoes and jacket and dump your phone before making your way up the stairs.  The light of the TV in the second living room lit up the room enough so you could make out two figures on the couch, one whose hair looked like a nightlight in the dark, another who was barely visible in a cocoon of blankets.

            “Y/N!” Tae yelled, and you made your way to him quickly so he didn’t have to get up.  You nuzzled your face against his, making him laugh, before patting his head and kissing the top of it.

            “Hey kid, I missed you,” you said, and he smiled up at you, causing your stomach to turn again.  The sensation made you lean back, and you stood there awkwardly above them, feeling more unsure of your place than you ever had, but Tae wiggled enough to free one of his hands, and he pulled on yours with enough strength to make you move.

            “I can’t see, Y/N, move,” he whined, and you laughed as you sat down.

            “I see how it is,” you huffed, but you smiled at him anyway.  You smiled at him even when his eyes went back to the screen.  And you kept smiling at him until you noticed Yoongi smiling at you, his lips pressed together tightly.

            “Sorry,” he whispered, but you shook your head and scooted closer to Tae, closer to Yoongi, who had both of his arms wrapped around his son.

            “Your hair’s still wet,” you whispered back when you were close enough for your knee to hit his thigh.

            “Yeah,” he whispered, his eyes going a little cross-eyed as he tried to look up at his hair.  His eyes flickered back and forth as you moved your fingers close to his face, though.

            “You both need haircuts,” you said, barely audible as you moved a few strands out of his eyes.  His hair really was still damp, and your fingers left his forehead a little wet.

            “Yeah,” Yoongi breathed as you moved your hand to find its place on the top of Tae’s head where you ran your fingers through his hair a few times, its ends almost past his ears.  “Tae, he doesn’t like haircuts.”

            “No?” you hummed, watching Yoongi more than the TV, more than Tae.  “Baths but not haircuts?  What about you?”  Yoongi shrugged, and you let the sounds of silly animated characters fill the room for a moment.

            “How was your dad’s?” Yoongi whispered, his face close enough for you to see him visibly swallow before you asked.

            “Good.  Sanded a table with his new employee.  Jungkook.  Reminds me a little of you.”

            “Oh?” Yoongi said, something in his eyes sparkling while his brow furrowed.  You smiled and left Tae’s head alone, bringing your knee up to rest your chin on and folding your arms around your leg.

            “Yeah, grunts a lot.”

            “I—” Yoongi started, but then he smiled.  “Yeah, I guess I do.”

            “This is nice, though, an actual conversation,” you whispered, and, just to spite you, he grunted.  You rolled your eyes as his smile grew.  It settled down though when you asked, “Do you have an event tomorrow?”

            “Yeah.”

            “Don’t go,” you said.

            “Wh—I have to go, Y/N.”

            “Do you?”

            “Yes,” he said, though it sounded more like a question.

            “Stay here with us,” you said again, and your eyes started to shift over his face and his chest when his started to flicker over you.  You started to chew on the inside of your lip when he took too long to answer.

            “Yeah, alright,” he sighed.  But he smiled again, so you nodded and repositioned yourself so you could face the screen and catch the end of the movie—Mulan, the avalanche threatening to kill them all.  You should’ve left your jacket on because you shivered, and you know Yoongi looked over at you, and you tried to sit still and ignore how much you wanted to grab a blanket or press against the both of them, but Yoongi shifted a little bit closer, bringing Tae, still in his lap, with him, and you let yourself move closer, too, until your arm was pressed against his and your knee ran into his.  You were still cold, and your stomach was churning, but the movie was almost over, so you willed yourself to calm down and enjoy your place, whatever it was, whoever you were, whatever you were supposed to do, whoever you were actually there for.  And maybe it was Mulan hugging her father, hearing them say they missed each other that made you lean your head on Yoongi’s shoulder.  Maybe it was your selfishness.  Maybe it was your stomach refusing to settle down.

            “It’s nice to be missed,” you whispered, and even though Yoongi didn’t say anything, maybe your words reassured him, because you felt him shift a little more until you felt his hand on your knee.  His thumb brushed back and forth over your jeans in a way that reminded you of when you had to calm Tae down, a touch that was barely there but was enough to ground you.  “Do, do you miss Kwon?”

            “No,” Yoongi said immediately.  “I only miss people I care about.”

            “Okay,” you said, even if you weren’t sure if it was.

            Okay, breathe.

Chapter Text

            Perhaps it was because you woke up feeling colder than normal or because the date finally registered in your sleepy eyes the next morning, but somehow it was already a week into December, and as you left your room, trying to rub the sleep out of your eyes, and stood in the kitchen looking around the main living room, you realized something was drastically missing in the house.

            You barely had any time to think about it, though, because almost as if he was summoned by it, the moment you put on the coffee pot Yoongi came down the stairs.  You blamed the coffee warming by you for how your cheeks flushed when you saw Tae, still wrapped up in one of his blankets, in his arms.

            “Look who I found in my bed,” Yoongi said, his voice still groggy.

            “Oh, did you have a bad dream, Tae?” you cooed, rubbing the boy’s head in his dad’s arms.  He shook his head thankfully and mumbled into his dad’s chest,

            “Cold.”

            “Yeah, I was too this morning,” you said, getting a mug out for Yoongi.

            “I’ll check on it,” Yoongi said, and you were glad your back was turned, because something about the image of Yoongi trying to fix a heater, or anything mechanical, made you smile for some reason.

            “What do you say to pancakes?” you said to them both, and, receiving grunts and nods of approval, you started to get everything out, your eyes flickering to Tae’s curled up body every once in a while as Yoongi sat nursing his coffee.  The griddle was almost ready when Yoongi seemed awake enough to engage further in human interaction.

            “So, I was thinking, since I’m not going to an event tonight that some people could come over.”  Your hand, perhaps instinctively, gripped the spatula you were wielding tighter.

            “Yeah, of course.”

            “Yeah?” Yoongi muttered, and you tried to sooth the frown on your face.

            “Of course!  It’s your place.  I’ll make sure Tae stays upstairs with me,” you said, proud of the smile you put on.

            “Oh,” Yoongi said, taking another sip of his coffee, his hands wrapping around his cup.  “I mean, I meant liking having my friends and your friends over.”  You blinked and looked up, pancake batter bubbling nicely below you.

            “Oh,” you managed, because you weren’t expecting that suggestion.  “Uh.  I don’t have any friends.  Just Jimin.”

            “Then invite Jimin,” Yoongi shrugged, and you hummed as you flipped the pancakes, enjoying the perfect brown edges on them.  Tae seemed to be stirring in his dad’s lap and leaned a little on the counter, a safe distance away from the hot pan, to watch them puff and rise up.  “I’ll make sure Namjoon comes for him,” Yoongi said, and he grinned when you met his eye.

            “He’ll flip,” you said, grinning back.

            “Yeah?” Yoongi said, seeming to enjoy the idea.  “After how shell-shocked he was to see Hoseok, I’m kind of expecting him to faint or something.”  You laughed, turning around to get plates and utensils out.

            “Tae, can you get the syrup and strawberries from the fridge?”  At the mention of his favorite fruit, the boy scrambled out of his dad’s arms to obey.  “Yeah, he’s been so obsessed with him, RM, or, Namjoon, I guess, for years.  I don’t even know why he likes him.  I mean,” you said, raising the spatula in your defense, “he’s really talented, I just mean his music wasn’t something I thought Jimin would be into.”

            “What’s Jimin into?” Yoongi said as you piled a batch of pancakes onto a plate.  You shrugged as you poured more batter onto the griddle.

            “In high school he was so popular, one of those kids that was into everything, or at least acted like he was into everything, but when we first met he was into, well, I don’t know what the term would be, indie music I guess?”

            “What, like Coldplay?” Yoongi said, wiggling his nose.  You laughed and shrugged.

            “I don’t know.  Just soft stuff, ukelelies and synth stuff.  Not rap.  So I’m not sure what it was about RM that made him get into that type of music.  Maybe,” you said, helping Tae with the fridge and getting orange juice while you were at it, “it was something he said.  Something like, ‘Kill them with success and bury them with a smile.’  I don’t know,” you said, smiling yourself, “that really resonated with Jimin.”  Yoongi laughed softly.

            “Definitely sounds like something Joon would say.  “Do you think he’s been successful?”

            “Who?” you said, getting a plate ready for Tae.  “How many do you want?”  When he raised three fingers, you gave him that many and let him serve a large amount of syrup over them.

            “Your friend, Jimin.”

            “Successful?  I mean, I think so.  In high school he was really popular.  He did everything.  Everyone knew him.  Got all A’s.  All the things that people gauge success by in as teenagers, you know?  He’d probably say differently, though.  He’s really hard on himself.  But,” you said, concentrating as you flipped the pancakes in front of you, “I don’t know.  It just depends on how you define success.  He works really hard.  And he’s doing well in college.  And I think he’s happy.  I think he’s definitely someone who could kill people with his success.  Kind of like you,” you said, and you tried not to smile at the confusion on Yoongi’s face.  “I bet people have died of jealousy over how successful you are.”  Yoongi rolled his eyes and grunted, but he didn’t contradict you.  “Are they good?” you asked Tae, ruffling his bedhead a little, and he nodded contently.  Dumping the rest of the pancakes on the plate, you washed the strawberries and worked on cutting the stems off of them before putting some on Tae’s plate.  You knew Yoongi was watching you closely, and you put two pancakes on a plate for him when you were done with the fruit.

            “I don’t really eat breakfast,” he said, staring at the plate.  You only shrugged and handed him a fork before making yourself a plate.

            “Do you ever feel like you missed out on anything not going to college?” you said, watching as Yoongi ate the pancakes dry (“dry! Who eats pancakes dry!”).

            “I missed out on student loans,” he smirked, “and sure, all those stereotypical college milestones.  But I was busy doing what I needed to.  Why, do you?”

            “Not at all,” you said.

            “What, don’t you want to wake up in someone’s yard some morning, wondering how you got there?”

            “No,” you laughed, “why do people want that?  I think drinking is overrated, so I’ve never really seen the appeal of parties.”

            “But you won’t drink,” Yoongi hummed, drowning the rest of his coffee and getting up to pour himself another cup.

            “I’m only twenty,” you said, watching his back which he had thankfully clothed before coming downstairs this morning.

            “That doesn’t stop most people,” Yoongi mused.

            “It’s not like I’m a prude,” you said, and you stuffed another bite into your mouth when Yoongi turned around and raised his eyebrows at you.  You muttered into your plate while you avoided his gaze, “I’ve drunk with my dad before.  I know beer and whiskey are nasty.”  Yoongi let out an exaggerated gasp which you tried to ignore.

            “What about your friend, Jimin?  Does he drink?”

            “Yeah,” you said, and Yoongi hummed.  You glanced over at Tae, who was being uncharacteristically quiet this morning, only to notice he was slumped over on the counter.  You tried not to laugh as you ran your hand up and down his back. 

            “I don’t think he slept well,” Yoongi muttered, running his own hand over Tae’s head.  “Missed you too much.”  You didn’t trust yourself to reply, so you merely nodded before standing up to clear up everyone’s plates.  Yoongi watched you for a moment, his hand moving to Tae’s back, until he cleared his throat when you started putting water in the sink.  “You don’t have to do that.”

            “It’s okay,” you shrugged, but Yoongi huffed behind you.

            “I’ll have Melinda over later.”

            “It’s okay, Yoongi,” you said again, washing the dishes. 

            “It’s not your job.”

            “Sir,” you huffed, “it’s not a big deal.  Us normal people do the dishes all the time.”

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said, a sigh obvious in his voice, but you just rinsed the plate you were on and ignored him.  You were well on your way to finishing the small stack breakfast had created when you saw him out of the corner of your eye with a towel in his hand.  You didn’t say anything, and neither did he, when he picked up a plate to dry.  Tae didn’t say anything, either, as he slept with his head on his arms behind the two of you.

 

            Tae didn’t sleep for long, and his odd, quiet behavior didn’t last long, either.  Soon the day started to pass like any other with coloring and screams and acting out scenes Tae imagined up and sitting to play on the piano when you knew Yoongi had headphones in.  It was while you were teaching Tae to play “Happy birthday” (“For Uncle Jinjin!” “Wasn’t it already his birthday?” “It’s his birthday every day.” “Of course it is”) that you looked down at the ripped jeans you always wore around Tae and part of your lunch started to swirl around in your stomach.

            “Tae, I’ll be right back, okay?  Keep practicing,” you said, tapping him on the back.  He only nodded and concentrated on the keys again.  Tugging awkwardly on your sleeve, you approached Yoongi’s office door and knocked twice before opening the door.  Not wanting him to hear Tae playing (“It’s a surprise, Y/N!”), you shut the door behind you and leaned back on it, watching Yoongi work for a moment.  The headphones he had on made his head look too small, but his chair somehow made him look bigger, his bleached hair moving back and forth in a soothing flow over it.  The screen looked like some maze or Tetris board, full of bars and colors, and you watched his mouse move back and forth over it long enough that you almost forgot what you had entered the room for.  But when Yoongi’s chair moved slightly toward you, you tried not to jump.

            “Need something?” he drawled, and you failed in speaking clearly when he pulled one of his headphones off his ear and turned around to look at you.  Embarrassed at being caught and already ashamed of the clothes you had, you stared down at your wiggling bare toes and pulled on your sleeve again.

            “Uh, I was wondering what the, uh, dress code is for tonight?”  You dared not look up, especially when your face started to burn slightly.  You didn’t care what you looked like around the house or around Jimin, but there was something about Yoongi’s friends coming over that made you want to impress them, or at least look presentable, like you didn’t spend all of your time with a messy, four-year-old boy.  “I mean, it’s, never mind,” you stumbled, turning to go, but Yoongi cleared his throat.

            “Just casual.  Don’t worry about it.”

            “Okay,” you breathed, your hand on the doorknob.  You instinctively gripped it tighter when he said,

            “But I’ll buy you another dress if you want one.”

            “No, no,” you mumbled, “that’s okay, thanks, I’ll, good luck.”

            It didn’t matter that the room was sound proofed, you definitely heard Yoongi laugh when you closed the door behind you.

 

            “Jimin’s here!  Jimin’s here!” Tae squealed, his warm breath fogging up the window he was pressed against.  Yoongi had agreed to let him stay up until all of the boys had showed up, and of course your friend was late.  You would be upset if you hadn’t already expected and told him to show up thirty minutes earlier than he was.  You had done your best, so him showing up at eight was hopefully going to be enough to appease Tae before he had to go to bed.

            “Oh, thank God,” Jin said, standing up to look over Tae’s head out the window, “I was getting so bored.
            “Ouch,” Namjoon mumbled from the couch, and Yoongi grunted in agreement.  You made sure to hold onto Tae’s hand while Jin answered the door.  Once he saw you, Jimin smiled, though you could tell it was a little forced.  You said a silent prayer that he would just be himself.

            “Jimin!” Jin’s scream, almost louder than Tae’s, seemed to shake him for only a minute, and you laughed when Jin pulled Jimin in for a hug and your friend’s face looked utterly confused.  “I’m Jin, it’s so nice to meet you,” Jin said, pulling away from Jimin, shutting the door, and pushing him toward the couch all at the same time, “Hoseok told me so much about you.”

            “Me?” Jimin squeaked, trying to look over his shoulder at who was pushing him around.

            “Yes, yes, gosh, you’re even cuter in person, here, sit here by Namjoon.  I’ll get you a drink.  What do you want to drink?”

            “Let him breathe,” Yoongi muttered into his wine glass, and you let go of Tae so he could climb into Jimin’s lap.  Jin getting him a drink without waiting for an answer, Tae messing with the buttons on his flannel outer shirt and you trying not to wink repetitively at him was probably what kept him distracted just enough for him to not notice that he was sitting by his celebrity crush.  Still, it was only a matter of time before he realized the trap the boys had clearly set for him, and when he wordlessly took the drink Jin offered him and put it down so Tae wouldn’t spill it and asked,

            “Where is Hoseok?” and Jin laughed and waved a hand in the air as he replied,

            “Someone had to be responsible and go to some stupid event,” and then he pointed his palm toward Namjoon, “but Namjoon is here.  Oh, and Yoongi, and Y/N,” Jin said, and you weren’t offended, just trying not to laugh when Jimin became very still.  Everyone waited until he moved his head slowly to his left, and maybe it was Tae bouncing on his lap or the realization of how close he was to Namjoon that made him squeak a little.

            “Hi,” Namjoon said slowly, and Jimin’s eyes were wide as he mumbled a greeting in return.

            “Oh, he’s precious,” Jin said to no one in particular, and while the awkwardness still lingered, his unashamed humor (“It’s charm, Y/N, I ooze charm.” “No one should ooze anything, that’s disgusting.” “You’re disgusting.” “What are you, five?  Ow, don’t hit me in my own home”) and the flow of alcohol helped as the evening went along.  Tae only whined a little when you took him to bed, though kisses from everyone (“I’d like one from Jimin, too, please”) seemed to placate him.  You ignored Jin’s cry when you went upstairs (“Let the party begin!”) and made Tae was tucked in well before you came back down to see him pouring Jimin another drink.

            “Jimin,” you said, glad to see he was sitting a little closer to Namjoon and his shoulders had visibly relaxed since he had come in.  He ignored you.  “Jimin, did you drive yourself?”

            “Yeah,” he said absentmindedly, not looking you or Jin, even when he handed him another drink.

            “He can stay over,” someone said, and you almost jumped when you saw Yoongi behind you.

            “Shit, how are you so quiet?” you gasped, but he only answered with a shrug and a smile.

            “Y/N!” Jin yelled, and you shushed him immediately.  He didn’t look sheepish at all.  “Now that the children are gone to bed, you must drink with us.”

            “I must, huh?” you said, and the man nodded enthusiastically.

            “You don’t have to,” Yoongi whispered by your ear, and you rubbed your shoulder against it, reaching for a glass.

            “Not a prude,” you said back.

            “Yeah,” Yoongi said, a smile evident in his voice.  The wine was pleasant, though you could tell it wasn’t as much to your liking as it was to everyone else’s.  Still, the room was warm, and you were glad to curl up in the corner of one of the couches and just listen to everyone.  Yoongi rarely spoke, even as the night went on, and Jimin was uncharacteristically quiet, but he responded whenever spoken to and actively engaged whenever anything was said about music (which was a lot) or dancing (which “Hoseok would know more about”).  Jin was the loudest of them all, and he kept lamenting the absence of his boyfriend until he finally pulled Jimin away from the couch and pulled out his phone.

            “Let’s send him a picture!  No, a video!  Let’s call him!”

            “Don’t call him,” Yoongi said firmly but softly.  “He always gets like this when he’s drunk and Hoseok’s not around,” he explained to you, and you almost giggled at the way he was pressing Jimin’s face together and dragging him around the room to find somewhere to take a picture.  You definitely laughed when he started to unbutton Jimin’s flannel shirt as Jimin tried to bat his hands again.

            “No, we need the white shirt,” Jin insisted.  “No, kissy face, Hoseok loves kisses,” he explained, and you shook your head at their antics.  It took too long to take the picture—or video?—and Jimin’s cheeks were pink by the time he went to sit down, obviously closer to Namjoon this time.  The older boy even cleared his throat and moved his knee off of the couch so Jimin could sit closer to him.

            “So,” he said, swirling whatever was in his glass as Jin sat on the floor and played on his phone, “who’s hosting Christmas this year?”

            “Oh, we are!” Jin shouted, and you shushed him again, even though he ignored you again, his arm raised high in the air.

            “Hosting?” Jimin asked politely, and Namjoon smiled at him.

            “Yeah, the three, or, four of us always spend Christmas together, and every year it’s at someone else’s house.”

            “Why’s that?”

            “Well,” Namjoon said, rubbing the back of his neck slightly.  “We’re all not really close to our families.”

            “Metaphorically and physically,” Yoongi grunted into his cup.

            “Yeah, so, well, family doesn’t have to be blood,” Namjoon said, and Jin and Yoongi nodded. 

            “We’re dysfunctional, though,” Jin laughed, “so we’re the perfect family.”

            “A perfect family would forgive me,” Namjoon muttered.

            “Nope, never,” Jin said from the floor.

            “Oh, come on, it will never happened again,” Namjoon groaned.

            “What happened?” Jimin asked sweetly, and Namjoon threw his head back on the couch briefly.  When he pulled it back up, he put his arm on the back of the couch behind Jimin’s shoulders and turned to face him a little.

            “Look, you have to understand, it was an accident.”

            “Gah, what did you do?” you said, already at the cusp of laughing.

            “It was an accident,” Yoongi clarified, “but imagine the biggest tree you’ve ever seen, like as tall as this ceiling, that Jin has spent hours decorating with glass ornaments and popcorn, for some reason—”

            “The white pops on the green.”

            “With like, a million lights on it,” Yoongi continued, ignoring Jin.  You and Jimin nodded, following along.  “Now, imagine this oaf,” Yoongi said, throwing a finger at Namjoon who was cringing at Jimin, “tripping on a string of lights and bringing the whole thing down, almost crushing Hoseok and Tae.”

            “It was an accident,” Namjoon groaned, dropping his head onto his arm.

            “My son almost died,” Yoongi said, but there was a grin on his face, so you knew he and Jin were only teasing their friend.

            “And my popcorn did die,” Jin mourned pitifully.

            “It’s not like we were going to eat it,” Namjoon said.

            “We could have, though.  That’s the point.  So, no Christmas hosting for you.”  Namjoon sighed, but he was smiling, too, especially when he picked his head back up and Jimin reached over to pat the arm that was still resting behind him, so you knew he knew they were just teasing him.  Perhaps it was the alcohol, or just the peace of watching friends interact that made you feel so warm, but, after you had another glass of wine, you decided that it was the look that Yoongi kept giving you.

 

            You had four glasses of wine.  There was no way you could have kept up with how many Jin had, but when he squealed at his phone and said something about Hoseok heading home he went around the room kissing everyone sloppily on the forehead or cheek or head before excusing himself to go home so he could (–“we don’t need to know! Get out of here!”).  He left with a great flourish, and it was only after the door shut did you blink and look a little panicky at Yoongi, who must have understood your face well enough to say,

            “Don’t worry, he has a driver.”  That made you relax a little, but soon you were too relaxed, and a yawn escaped from your mouth.  No one said anything about it.  Namjoon and Jimin were too engrossed in their own conversation to care, both of them now facing each other on the couch, Jimin with his knee pulled up so he could put his chin on it while the other one curled up almost underneath him, and Yoongi seemed to be lost in thought.  You got up slowly, feeling slightly disoriented, and shuffled to the kitchen to get a few water bottles for everyone.  Someone (“Jin, I’m sure it was Jin”) had made or found some food at some point, and there were several empty glasses littered around the kitchen counter.  Trying to be as quiet as possible, though your fingers weren’t as deft as they normally were, you filled the sink with water and started to wash the dishes, soon humming to yourself as you scrubbed.  But whatever you were holding almost slipped as you felt someone press lightly into your right shoulder.

            “You don’t have to do that,” he said, and though you knew who it was, could tell immediately when you noticed someone was there, you still sighed and dropped your hands into the water.

            “Yoongi.”  He hummed but didn’t say anything else, so you sighed and continued to wash the cup you were on.

            “Y/N,” he said, and you moved your head to the side a little so he wasn’t breathing on your neck.  “Come on, come back and sit down.”

            “It’s okay, I’m really tired.”

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said, and he must have moved his head, too, because his breath hit the back of your neck again.  “Please don’t leave me with those two.”  You pressed your lips together to suppress a laugh.

            “Oh, come on, we could probably strip in front of them and they wouldn’t blink an eye.”

            “Yeah, do you want to try?”

            “Ha,” you said, tossing your elbow back and smiling when it found its place in Yoongi’s stomach. 

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said again, sounding a little winded, “please stop washing the dishes.”

            “Why?”

            “Because I’d rather you come talk to me or something,” he said.

            “Or something?”

            “Or something,” he said, and you drained the sink and started to rinse all of the dishes off, only glancing down once when you saw his hand reach past you and rest on the edge of the counter.

            “It’s just dishes, Yoongi.  Look, I’m almost done already.”

            “I know, I know, but,” he said, pausing, and you clenched your jaw when you felt his forehead, his hair, tickling the back of your neck.  Perhaps it was the wine that made your stomach churn.  He raised his head just as quickly as he had let it drop, his fingers on the counter flexing back and forth a few times.  “But you’re.”

            “What?” you said when he paused and didn’t say anything else.  You turned off the water and laced your fingers together and placed them on the counter, knowing you couldn’t really move even though you wanted to get a towel and dry everything.

            “You just look so pretty,” Yoongi whispered, and you laughed to try to shake off how your stomach flipped.

            “Washing dishes?  You have some weird kinks, Mr. Min,” you huffed, and you watched as Yoongi’s fingers tightened on the counter before they left, and for a moment you thought he was backing away so you could finally move, but then his hip pressed up against you, and his arm slunk around your back, barely touching you, but present enough to make you stiffen a little and glance out of the corner of your eye just enough to see him looking down at you.

            “Don’t, please,” he said, his voice too serious.

            “Sorry,” you huffed, looking in the sink and watching the final soap bubbles disappear into nothing.

            “Thank you,” he said, and you turned your head more to look up at him with your brow furrowed.  “For making me stay home tonight.”

            “I didn’t make you,” you said, but his hand finally really touched you, his fingers firm on your side.

            “Please,” he said again, and you pressed your lips together, unsure of what he wanted.  When you didn’t say anything else, he sighed gently, and you tried not to shiver when his thumb started to move up and down over your sweater.  “I don’t like going to those events.  Never have.  Hoseok and Jin and even Namjoon are better at all the social interaction our jobs require than I ever have been.  It’s why I sit in the studio.  I’d stay in there all day if I could.  I’m not, I know that’s not a good thing.  I’m just.  I’m grateful for them putting up with me for so many years, my anti-social ass.  And I’m grateful for you, to you.  That’s all.”  You looked up at him, your body still pressed slightly into the counter, and wondered how hard it had been for him to say all of that.  You thought, for just a moment, about why he hired women to go to all of those events with him, and the thought almost became a question on your tongue, but Yoongi leaned down just barely and pressed a gentle kiss on top of your head.  “Thank you,” he whispered into your hair, and you stood still, feeling as his other arm slowly wrapped around your stomach until his fingers interlaced themselves on your side, on your hip, and your stomach-your stomach.  “You know how Tae gives me a kiss for fun every time I have an event to go to?” Yoongi was whispering, and you nodded slowly, afraid of moving.  “Next time, will you give me one, too?”

            “Yoongi,” you said softly, looking away from him again and ducking your head slightly.  He had put his arm under yours, and you watched them sitting on it.  You relaxed your fingers, prying them apart until they were both lying over his arm.  “No kissing.”

            “I know, I know,” he said, but you felt his lips pressing against your temple anyway, and then his forehead just stayed there, his thumbs both circling your side, and you blinked repetitively, your stomach suddenly feeling heavy.  “I’m sorry,” he said after a few moments, but you couldn’t look him in the eye, just watched as his arm twitched slightly when you moved one of your fingers along it.  He lifted his head, your skin where his forehead had been pressing against it suddenly feeling too cold, and you shivered once before he kissed the spot again.  “Sorry,” he muttered, his arms tightening around you, his chest pressing into your arm so hard you could feel his heart beating through your sweater, and you tilted your head, taking a deep breath, when his lips ghosted underneath your ear.

            “Yoongi,” you whispered, your stomach clenching as you dug your fingers into his arm.

            “Y/N?” he muttered, his lips touching your skin just enough for you to blink rapidly before pulling your arms away from his arm and finally turning in his grasp to push gently on his chest.

            “I need to go to bed,” you said, your voice shaking more than you expected, and his arms slowly slid off of you until only one of his hands held limply onto the hem of your sweater.  “Good night,” you said, gently grapping his wrist to remove his hold on you.  You placed his hand on the counter and ducked away from him.  Perhaps, perhaps something was really wrong with the heater, or, just maybe, you couldn’t get warm because of that last look Yoongi had given you.  Whatever it was, it sent a shiver through your stomach that left you shaking all night.

Chapter Text

            Your bed was too cold.  It was almost freezing.  You couldn’t stop shivering.

            And someone was there, standing in the doorway, shy, too shy to be Jimin, too little to be Yoongi.

            “Tae?” you said groggily, sitting up and checking the time on your phone (8:38AM).

            “Are you sick, too, Y/N?” Tae whispered, and you blinked a few times in confusion before you registered what he meant.

            “Hey, no, are you?”  He shook his head, his blanket and treasured giraffe in his hands.

            “Daddy is.  But I’m hungry.”

            “Alright,” you said, shooting him a smile, “go wait in the kitchen while I get dressed, okay?”  He nodded again and closed the door on his way out.  You made you way slowly to the bathroom to wake up, and only when you were putting on your pants did you freeze, an image of a half-dressed Jimin lying on top of Namjoon suddenly popping into your head unwantedly.  “Shit, shit,” you muttered, almost falling out of your pants before you whipped open the door and ran down the hallway.  Tae was sitting at the counter on a stool, coloring something, and he put a finger to his lips when he saw you.  Your eyes were wide as you glanced hesitantly over at the couch, only to see Jimin, fully clothed, lying on Namjoon’s legs with his arms wrapped around them.  So much for being nervous around him anymore.  Getting Tae’s message, you winked and pressed your finger to your lip, too, before twitching your finger at him.  Once he hopped off the stool and followed you upstairs, you whispered the plan to him, and soon he was dressed and hopping excitedly in the passenger seat of your truck.  Your dad had always been a sort of teddy bear, and you loved watching him pick Tae up when you arrived and sit him down immediately to feed.  It almost made the way Jungkook was sitting there at the table without a shirt on bearable, but when your dad put a plate in front of you, you finally turned to the younger boy (“there is no way he’s twenty-two, is all I’m saying”) and huffed.

            “Aren’t you cold?”

            “No,” he shrugged.

            “What are you doing today?”

            “Well,” the boy said, practically licking his plate clean, “considering it’s Sunday, nothing.”

            “Great, you can come help us, then,” you said, handing Tae a napkin that he promptly ignored in favor of using his hand to clean his face.

            “But that’s the opposite of doing nothing,” Jungkook said, surly and glaring at you.

            “Well, we have trees to get, so I’m going to need someone, and you’re here.”

            “Get someone else to,” he said, and you crossed your arms, leaning back in your chair a bit and staring at him.  Your dad, clearly recognizing a look of two wild animals about fight over their territory, stepped in before you both ripped each other apart.

            “I’ll pay you for your efforts, Jungkook.  One tree’s for me, so please help Y/N pick out a great one.”

            “I don’t need help picking them,” you huffed, and Jungkook rolled his eyes before pushing back from the table.  “Just lifting them.”

            “I can help,” Tae said, smiling widely, and you ruffled his hair.  It’s not like you really wanted Jungkook to come along, but you needed a tree for your dad and for Tae, and there was no way you were going to be lift one, much less two into your truck, and weren’t keen on relying on the helpers at the lot.  So once Jungkook emerged again from his (your) room fully dressed, you and Tae hurried to finish breakfast so you could leave.

 

            You thought Jungkook would continue to be ornery, but the moment he got in the car and helped buckle up Tae beside him, he had a tiny smile on his face, so you made a point to not look at him in case you might chase it away.  You couldn’t really blame him, though; it was hard to be angry around Tae.  The little boy kept poking Jungkook whenever he wanted his attention and engaging in a lengthy but mostly one-sided conversation about everything he was going to ask for for Christmas.  When he finally let Jungkook answer, his answer surprised you.

            “What do you want for Christmas?”

            “Nothing, kid, or nothing that can be bought.”  The answer confused Tae, too, as he clearly couldn’t comprehend how something couldn’t be bought, or, as he probably didn’t understand the concept of money yet, didn’t understand anything that wasn’t material, that couldn’t be wrapped and put under the tree.  You wondered what Jungkook wanted.  You didn’t ask, and he didn’t elaborate, so the purring of your truck intermingled with the constant chirping of Tae until you pulled up to the tree lot.  Even though you told Tae not to run off, he instantly did, so you and Jungkook spent the first couple of minutes trying to find him.

            “You should get him a leash,” Jungkook said, and you laughed even though you were internally panicking a little imagining one of those little backpacks parents put on their kids to keep them close.  For some reason you were pretty sure Yoongi would hate the idea.  But he would hate you losing his son more, so you were glad when you found Tae crouched down shaking a tree limb to watch all of the needles fall off of it.  Sighing, you stood behind him for a moment, wondering if you should reprimand him or just be glad you found him, but Jungkook simply picked him up effortlessly and put him on his shoulders, much to Tae’s delight. 

            “Hang on tight,” Jungkook said, and Tae obliged gladly, his hands grasping the side of Jungkook’s head as you walked up and down the rows of trees.  Tae took to trying to see how many tops he could reach from Jungkook’s shoulders, but Jungkook started to lean him away so he couldn’t touch anything, but his plan started to backfire when Tae started to pull his hair.  “What is he, Ratatouille?”

            “Actually, the rat’s name was Remy,” you said, looking at the price of a tree you liked.

            “What?”

            “The movie.  The rat’s name is Remy, not ratatouille.  That’s the dish.  That’s like calling the monster Frankenstein.”

            “What?” Jungkook said, trying not to wince as Tae pulled on his ear.

            “Really, you’re doing yourself no favors.  Everyone reads Frankenstein.  If not in high school, than at least in college,” you said, not bothering to look at him.  He only hummed behind you, and soon you went to go find an attendant to point out the two trees you wanted, a blue spruce for Tae (“but it’s not blue, Y/N”) and a Douglas fir for your dad’s house because that was what you always got.  Bringing Jungkook along didn’t really go as you planned, because he refused to help, and you didn’t want to make Tae get down, afraid he might run off again, so you helped one of the employees load one and then another into the back of your truck.  Annoyed with yourself for not bringing gloves, you tried to wipe some of the sap off on your pants to no avail.  Groaning, you worked on tying the trees down while Jungkook and Tae stood near a cluster of trees.  You briefly noticed the attendant saying something to them and hearing Tae’s laugh, but by the time you were done tying down the trees, Jungkook had come over to help tug on the chords with you.

            “Almost done?” he murmured, and you smacked his hand away to finish the tie.

            “Yeah, no thanks to you.”

            “I was watching your kid,” he grumbled, and you sighed as you stood up in the bed of your truck, being careful not to step on the trees as you climbed out of the back.

            “He’s not mine.”

            “That’s what I told him,” Jungkook said, opening up the passenger door and climbing in beside where he had put Tae.  You stood by your truck for a moment, trying to understand what he was saying before taking your keys out and climbing up to turn the truck on.

            “That’s what you told who, Jungkook?”

            “That attendant,” he said, already looking out of the window.

            “What did he say?” you said and pressed your lips together when he proceeded to ignore you.  “Tae?” you tried, and you wanted to laugh at the over dramatic way Jungkook whipped his head around to stare at the kid.  Oblivious, or too pure to know any better, Tae smiled up at you.

            “Some man asked if Jungkookie was my dad.”

            “Jungk—” Jungkook said, flapping his hands on his legs before leaning against the window.  “Said we made a nice family.”  At that, and at the gagging face Jungkook made, you did laugh.

            “We look nothing alike!” you said, gripping the steering wheel tightly as you gasped for breath, a little sad you missed that awkward conversation and the look on Jungkook’s face.

            “I don’t know,” the boy said, still looking at the scenery, “we could pass for siblings or something.”

            “What, and Tae’s our kid?  Oh my god, that would be so inappropriate,” you said, laughing even harder.  Tae, still naïve to what was so funny, laughed anyway, and you imagined Jungkook was groaning or rolling his eyes.  You spent the rest of the ride trying to control your giggling and let Tae man the radio.  Tae clearly enjoyed mumbling incoherently along to Christmas songs he found, and by the time you got back to your dad’s, Jungkook was surly again.  He slammed the door as soon as you pulled up, and you sat for a moment before turning the truck off, looking down at Tae with your lips pressed together.

            “Why’s he mad, Y/N?” Tae said, looking up at you.  You shrugged and rubbed his head, hoping Jungkook’s bad mood wouldn’t rub off on him.

            “Don’t worry about him.  Will you help me with the tree?”  Jungkook seemingly forgotten, Tae smiled wide and nodded enthusiastically before climbing out after you.  You didn’t really expect Tae to help you with the heavy tree, but you let him take the straps from you once you had untied it.  He was too busy trying to keep your dogs off of him to really do anything else, so you left him in the yard to play while you went to get your dad.  The house was quiet when you got in, and Jungkook was nowhere to be seen, but your dad got out of his recliner and headed to help you.

            “Got the stand all ready,” he said, patting you on the back on the way out to your truck.  Once upon a time someone had tried to insult you by insinuating that your dad had always wanted a son but had gotten stuck with you.  People had tried to explain away your preference for tools and playing outside and driving a truck as some excuse to please your dad.  You knew your dad wouldn’t have given two shits if you hadn’t started to help him with his business so many years ago.  You weren’t the girliest of girls, but the term “tom boy” had become offensive to you.  Why was it frowned upon to work with your hands and build things and get dirty while doing so?  Why did everyone seem to care so much about molding you into some Barbie-doll image?  Sure, sometimes you were insecure, like when you went to that stupid event with Yoongi and were surrounded by too-pretty people, but the majority of the time you didn’t care that your pants were ripped and dirty and that your jacket got even messier when you lifted the tree to rest on your shoulder while your dad got the trunk.  Your dad was proud of you because you worked hard and pursued happiness by doing what you loved, not just because you two had so much in common and could talk for hours about wood grain.

            Tae had followed you both inside and stood far enough away for your dad and you to put the tree up safely (“he’s probably traumatized after Namjoon almost killed him.” “it was an accident!”).  Once you had gotten it straight, you looked at it for a minute before going to the box of ornaments your dad had already gotten down from the attic.

            “Tae, want to help?” you said, pulling out a Hallmark ornament of a hammer on a bed of nails and handing it to the boy.  He nodded and gently started to help you decorate the tree, his carefulness beyond that of a normal four-year-old boy by far.  You thanked him and praised him on how well he was doing each time he came to get a new ornament, and you made sure to lift him up to reach higher after he had coated the bottom of the tree well enough.  One thing you had always loved about Christmas decorating with your dad was that nothing really matched.  The tree got lights and a plethora of ornaments.  Nothing was fashionable.  There were no color themes or schemes.  It was all very personal, and you paused while you watched Tae rearrange two ornaments.  For the past six years it had just been you and your dad, and while Tae wasn’t yours, there was something special about the moment.  Your dad seemed to pick up the importance of the moment, too, because he came over to put a hand on your shoulder.

            “You should go get Jungkook,” he said, and you tried not to glare up at him.  Your face was a challenge enough, though, so he squeezed your shoulder a little.  “He’s probably missing his family, this time of year.  Go get him.  You know I hate dealing with the lights, anyway.”

            “Where did he even come from, dad?” you said, but you got up anyway, knowing it was useless to disobey him.

            “I don’t really know, and it doesn’t really matter.  He has been working hard.  He’s eager to learn.  He’s having some trouble adjusting, but there’s no need to be mean to him.”

            “Not being mean,” you mumbled, and your dad flashed you a knowing smile as you left the room.

            You hadn’t been in your (Jungkook’s) room in weeks, so while part of you wanted to just walk in, feeling like it still belonged to you, you knocked like a polite guest and waited for a grunt before entering.  Jungkook was lying on his (your) bed, his shoes off and feet splayed all over the place, a book on his chest.  It was one of your books, one you had read multiple times in high school after your mom left before you had figured out if you were going to leave your dad, too, to go to college, or stay with him and help with the family business.  You could name the page number that had a coffee stain on it (113) and the page you had accidentally ripped (32) as well as the page with the most highlights (49), and you wondered if it would look different after Jungkook read it.

            “Can you come help with the lights?” you said, trying to sound kind.

            “I can,” Jungkook said, not moving from the bed and turning another page.   Something seethed within you.

            “Will you?” you said, clenching your jaw a little.

            “Do you want me to?”

            “Uh, yes, that’s why I came in here.”

            “Really?” Jungkook said, and he lowered the book a little to look over at you.  You sighed and crossed your arms, not in the mood to play any games, and tapped your foot on the floor.

            “Yes, I need your help.”  Jungkook eyed you as if trying to see if you were lying or had just come in to bother him, but slowly he sat up and put the book down (“ah, use a bookmark! You’ll wear the spine out like that!”).  He jumped off the bed with a thud and proceeded to walk toward you and past you without another word.  Rolling your eyes, you followed him back to the living room where Tae was sorting through the leftover ornaments to pick out the best ones.

            Sorting through the Christmas lights was not one of your favorite things to do.  Somehow, no matter how carefully you put them back each year, they still managed to get tangled and knotted.  And whenever a strand didn’t work, it was a painfully slow process trying to figure out which light was a dud if one wasn’t clearly broken.  Jungkook only exasperated the problem.  He kept trying to pull on a strand before you were ready or ran around the tree too quickly, which, while it made Tae laugh, made you worry about the tree falling over.  While you hadn’t been around to see Namjoon make an entire tree fall, you weren’t exactly excited about the prospect of your own tree being ruined because some kid (“he is so not older than me, no way”) was too impatient to go slow.  Needless to say, you were a little ornery yourself once everything was done, much to your annoyance.  Decorating was supposed to be fun, a special occasion, memorable, and you found yourself frowning when Jungkook plugged the tree in.

            “Great job, everyone!” your dad bellowed, clapping another hand on your shoulder.  “How about some hot chocolate as payment?”  You didn’t want any.  Tae, naturally, wanted your cup, too, which your dad thankfully didn’t give him, and Jungkook only mumbled something about actual payment.  You curled up in your dad’s favorite chair and watched Jungkook try to show Tae some card trick while they both sipped their drinks, stewing for some reason.  Your annoyance with the whole morning so far only made you feel heated, but you pulled your jacket back on and let it engulf you while you pouted.  Your dad, never one to indulge you when you were in a mood, went back to reading the paper in the kitchen.  It was hard to stay mad around Tae, though, and soon you were smiling as you watched him watch in awe as Jungkook managed to build a small house with the cards.  When your phone buzzed in your pocket you didn’t even look at who was calling before answering, the device warming up your ear even more.

            “Hel—”

            “Y/N?  Where’s Tae?  Where are you?”

            “Oh, Yoongi,” you said, and Tae’s head perked up at his dad’s name, “we’re at my dad’s.  We went to get Christmas trees.”

            “Oh.  Oh,” you heard Yoongi say, the panic in his voice ebbing away.

            “Yeah, sorry, I should have let you know.”

            “No, no, it’s okay.  I shouldn’t have—are Jimin and Namjoon with you?”

            “No?” you said, your brow furrowing at the question.  “They were on the couch when I left.”

            “Hmm,” Yoongi said, and you heard him shuffling around and something clicking.  “His car’s gone.  I just woke up to an empty house.  Thought the rapture had happened or something.”

            “If that was the case, Jimin would still be here,” you laughed, and Yoongi huffed.  “Anyway, we’ll be back soon.  Think you can help me with the tree when we get back?”

            “The tree?” Yoongi said, his voice sounding slightly higher on the phone than it did in person.

            “Yeah.”

            “What tree?”

            “The Christmas tree we got.”

            “You-you got us a Christmas tree?”

            “Yeah,” you said, and something twisted in your stomach and only got worse when Yoongi was silent.  “I mean, I’m so sorry, I should have asked.”

            “No,” Yoongi said quickly, “no, that’s.”

            “I should have waited so you could go with Tae.  I’m really sorry,” you pleaded, and whether it was because you said his name or because he could tell something was wrong, Tae got up from the floor and rushed over to you, climbing into your lap and proceeding to try to listen in on your conversation.

            “It’s okay—"

            “No, really, I wasn’t thinking,” you said, wrapping your free arm around Tae.

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said, his voice firm.  You stilled and waited.  “It’s okay.  Thank you.  Of course I’ll help you when you get back.  I bet Tae is having a great time.”

            “Yeah,” you mumbled, looking down at the kid and wrinkling your nose at him when he saw you.  He did the same in return before pressing his head under your chin, tickling you a little.  “Yeah, okay then.  We’ll be back soon.”

            “Alright,” Yoongi said, “thanks again.”  You hummed before hanging up and giving Tae a big hug.  Jungkook was still sitting on the floor, watching you a little oddly, and you tried to ignore him as you stood up, Tae still clinging to you.

            “We have to go, dad,” you said, making your way over to him to give him a kiss.  “I hope the tree’s okay.”

            “It’s perfect,” he said, kissing your head in return and squeezing Tae’s arm gently.  “Come visit me again soon, okay, kiddo?”

            “Sure thing, dad,” you promised, and Tae nodded, because he could have been referring to either of you.  “See you later, Jungkook,” you called on the way out, because you wanted to be polite, so you were a little surprised when he rushed to his feet and pulled the door open for you.  Raising one eyebrow at him, you stepped through and immediately began the task of avoiding the dogs long enough to get in your truck without them leaping in behind you.  Jungkook followed behind you, too, for some reason, ignoring all three dogs and proceeding to open the passenger door of your truck, standing beside it with his lips pressed together.  “Thanks,” you muttered, being careful of Tae’s head as you put him in and helped him buckle up.  He didn’t say anything else, just waited for you to climb into the driver’s seat before he gave you both a small wave and shut the door, walking back to the house with the dogs on his heels.  “Huh,” you said, and when Tae looked up at you, you shrugged.  “Weird kid.”

            “I like him,” Tae mused, and you smiled.  You guessed you were going to have to like him, too, then.

 

            If sharing decorating your dad’s house with Jungkook made you a little annoyed and frustrated, watching Yoongi decorate with Tae made you feel a little sick.  The man seemed to be effecting your stomach too much lately, and it wasn’t something you were used to, which is probably what made you even more irritable.  He had come out the front door the moment you pulled up and given Tae a quick hug before helping you with the tree.  He apparently didn’t know how to work the stand at all, and it wasn’t like yours, so you watched him struggle for a few minutes before offering to do it instead.  He had huffed but resigned to his fate and held the tree while you fixed it.  He let you direct which way the tree needed to go before it was straight with some help from Tae, and then you tightened the stand so it wouldn’t fall.  Their string of lights was pristine, and it took no time at all, no tugging or fixing broken bulbs, before you and Yoongi got it around the tree.  And then you had stepped back while Tae handed his dad ornaments.  They were nothing like yours.  Mostly just balls and odd shapes, glittering and sparkling, a mixture of golds and reds.  You still hadn’t taken off your jacket, and you stood in the living room watching with your hands stuck in your pockets.  Yoongi and Tae kept smiling at each other, and it made you feel sick for some reason.

            “I’m,” you blurted out, but when the two of them looked at you, you shut your mouth again.

            “What’s up?” Yoongi said, while Tae held something out to you.

            “Y/N, can you put this one on top?” You shook your head, and Tae looked confused.  Your stomach flipped again.  You didn’t want to hurt him. 

            “Hey, kid, do some more on the bottom real quick,” Yoongi said, handing Tae a different ornament before standing up and coming over to you.  “What’s wrong?”

            “Nothing,” you said, crossing your arms in front of your chest and watching Tae.

            “Okay,” Yoongi said simply, but then he stuffed his hands in his pockets and just stood there staring at you.  “Then why don’t you come help decorate?”  Your stomach churned again, and you shook your head.

            “This isn’t my house, I can’t decorate it.”

            “It—you can if you want to.  I mean, you don’t have to,” Yoongi said softly.

            “This is something you should do.”

            “I’m, surprisingly, not really into holidays and decorations and all that,” Yoongi sighed, looking over at his kid.  

            “You’re doing a good job,” you said softly, and Yoongi cocked his head at you.

            “Yeah?”

            “Yeah, like I said, it’s pretty easy.  He’s clearly happy.”

            “Oh, yeah, he loves Christmas.”

            “Do you?” you said, and Yoongi shrugged.

            “It’s alright.”  You nodded at nothing and continued to watch Tae, telling yourself it was because that was your job, that’s what you were there for, when really you just didn’t want to look up at Yoongi looking at you.  Your stomach seemed to be sailing on an ocean, seemed to be an ocean itself.  “Y/N?” Yoongi said, leaning his face a little in front of you.  He seemed too close.  “Are you okay?”  You nodded tensely, your fingers tight on your own arms.  “Why don’t you take the afternoon off?”

            “What?” you said, finally snapping out of watching Tae to look up at Yoongi.

            “Yeah, go take a nap or something.”

            “No, that’s okay, really, I’m fine,” you rushed out.

            “Uh huh,” Yoongi said, raising an eyebrow at you.

            “Really,” you sighed, “I have to watch Tae, anyway.”

            “You don’t, actually,” Yoongi said, earning himself another confused looked from yourself.  “I mean, I’m his dad.  You’re just his nanny.”  You’re just his nanny.  Right.

            “Right,” you said, nodding.  Just the nanny.  You had to grab your arm tightly when your stomach threatened to empty itself suddenly.  “I’ll.  Yeah, a nap would be nice.”  Yoongi smiled at that and leaned away from you.

            “And maybe a bath.”

            “Yeah, that’d be nice,” you mumbled not really registering what he was saying.  Just the nanny. 

            “Don’t worry, Y/N.  Like you said, it’s easy.”

            “Yeah, easy.  Okay, see you.”  He said something else.  Tae did, too.  But you stumbled down the hallway to your room, just the nanny’s room.  You managed to take your shoes off and lock the door before you climbed into bed, pulling your covers around you completely as your body started to shake.

 

            Your stomach, apparently becoming your downfall, woke you up several hours later, but you didn’t emerge from your room.  You sat in the comfort of your blankets, somehow still a little cold, and listened for noises of Tae or Yoongi, but you couldn’t hear anything.  The sap lingering on your hands even after you had washed them a couple of times and the sight of your dirty clothes motivated you enough to slowly crawl out of bed.  You opted for grabbing your favorite sweater and flannel pants and started to run a bath.  Your stomach growled but also turned when you got in as you tried to relax.  The warm water and the steam it created was soothing, but you sat in the tub and wondered how many other nannies had used it.  How many had slept in your (the) bed.  How many had kissed Tae goodnight and woken up to make him pancakes.  It was stupid, and you submerged your head and blew bubbles, trying to expel every thought that was bothering you.  Your stomach was still queasy, though, and you thought of calling Jimin, but he hadn’t texted you all day, so he was probably somewhere having fun with Namjoon, and you couldn’t bring yourself to bother him.  If you wanted, Yoongi would probably let you go back and see your dad, even stay the night with him.  After all, you weren’t really needed.  You were just the nanny.

            You had to put a hand over your mouth and lower your head back against the tub, your other hand flying to your stomach.  You rubbed against your skin, willing your insides to relax, but nothing seemed to work.  The water seemed to get cold too quickly, but you moved slowly, your insides shaking and goosebumps breaking out across your skin as you toweled yourself off.  The time on you phone surprised you but explained why your stomach growled again, and you pattered out of your room (the nanny’s room), your feet bare and cold already, and into the kitchen.

            “Y/N!” Tae all but shouted when he saw you, despite how full his mouth was.

            “Hey Tae,” you said, smiling.

            “I was lazy and ordered pizza,” Yoongi said.  Not complaining, you got yourself a plate and a couple of slices and sat down next to Tae to eat.

            “Are you still sick?” Tae said seriously when you joined them, and you cocked your head at him in confusion.  “Daddy said you felt bad.”

            “Oh,” you said, glancing over at Yoongi who was already looking at you.  “Yeah, I’m all better.  Well, this pizza will help.  In fact, I think I need yours, too,” you joked, reaching for his.  He almost shrieked and pulled his plate away, his lip sticking out, but when he saw you were only teasing he relaxed and smiled at you.  “What did you and your daddy do?” you asked in between bites of pizza.

            “Oh, we decorated and played outside and had hot chocolate and Daddy finished a song while I napped.  Hey, Y/N,” Tae said, tugging on your sleeve, “we both napped today!”

            “Yeah, naps are pretty great, huh?” you said, and Tae shrugged.

            “They’re okay.  But guess what, guess what?”

            “What?”

            “Daddy said we can watch Elf tonight.”

            “Yeah?  Is it your favorite?”  Tae nodded and actually used a napkin to wipe his face which earned him a pat from you and a smile.  His hair was slightly wet still, and you noticed he was already in his pajamas.  “Did daddy give you a bath, too?”  Tae nodded again.  “Did you say thank you?”

            “No,” Tae said seriously, eyeing you funnily, “why would I thank daddy for that?”

            “Because you should always thank him when he takes care of you.”

            “Why?” Tae asked, and you wiped your hands before rubbing one through his hair, the boy slightly wincing when you worked through a knot.

            “Because that means he loves you very much, and if you thank him he’ll know that you love him back.”

            “But doesn’t he know that already?”

            “Sure, kid, but saying thank you is like getting to eat the last strawberry.  It’s sweet and makes you happy.”

            “Can we eat strawberries?” Tae said, distracted by his favorite fruit.

            “I’ll see if we have any,” you hummed, kissing his head before collecting everyone’s plates and throwing away the trash.  Once you got a bowl of washed strawberries ready, Tae took your hand and led you upstairs, Yoongi following close behind. 

            Your stomach had calmed down a little once it was full, but the moment you sat on the couch, waiting to see where the boys would sit, it acted up again.  Tae was momentarily distracted by the bowl of strawberries you had left on the table, his elbows leaning on the wood and his knees hovering over the floor, wiggling a little, and Yoongi was working on turning on the movie.  Tae was still eating when the previews started, and Yoongi stood by the DVD player, pushing the skip button through them before coming to sit on the couch a space away from you.  Your stomach turned as you shivered once when Tae was done and climbed into his dad’s lap.  He seemed content to watch the movie quietly most of the time, though he got distracted a few times with his dad’s hands.  He kept picking them up and pressing them against his to see how big they were or lifting up one of Yoongi’s arms only to let it drop to see where it would land.  His giggle remained quiet, as if he thought his dad didn’t know what he was doing, and your stomach tensed when he shot you a wide smile.  It had been a while since you had seen the movie, but you couldn’t bring yourself to laugh, even when Tae did, and eventually you shuffled to a nearby closet to grab a blanket you wrapped yourself up in, trying to hide a little even though you were sitting close to the both of them.  You barely even registered when the movie was over and Tae was climbing over to you and pulling down your blanket to reveal your face.

            “Good night, Y/N,” he whispered.

            “Good night, Tae,” you whispered back, giving him a quick peck on the forehead before his dad came up behind him and swept him up, eliciting a high-pitched giggle from Tae as his feet dangled in the air.  You heard the mummers drifting from Tae’s room as Yoongi put him to bed and wondered how you were going to go to sleep again so soon after napping for so many hours.  The room was dark, only one lamp lightening the whole place, but you still saw Yoongi coming back around the couch and moving toward the DVD player.

            “So, Y/N, want to watch another movie?” he said as he took out the DVD.

            “I thought we were only allowed one movie a day,” you said, your words muffled in your blanket a bit.

            “That’s a Tae rule,” Yoongi laughed.  “But, yeah, maybe don’t tell him about this.”

            “Won’t he hear?” you said as Yoongi put something else in.

            “I doubt it.  Once he’s out, he’s out.  Gets that from me,” he said, sounding proud.  Once again Yoongi waited to skip the previews before leaving the player, and you were too distracted trying to see what movie he had put in to notice him joining you on the couch.  “Share, I’m cold,” he said, and your stomach did a complete somersault when you felt him tugging at your blanket.

            “That’s okay, you can just have it,” you said, hastening to unwrap yourself and throw it on top of him.  He stayed hidden under it for a second before he peeled it back from his face and looked at you, his brows furrowed.

            “If it’s that big of a deal, I’ll just go get my own.”

            “No, no,” you said, pulling your knees up to your chest, “I’m just not cold anymore.”  Yoongi waited for a moment, and, when your stomach betrayed you, causing you to shiver, he let out a breath of air.

            “Right,” he said, shifting on the couch until his arm was running into yours and throwing half of the blanket around you.  You grabbed it absentmindedly and pulled it around you, unable to hide how cold you were.

            “Why is it so cold in here?”

            “Oh, so you are cold?” Yoongi whispered, but you ignored him as he brought his legs up onto the couch, one of his knees pressing against your shin.

            “I can have my dad come look at the thermostat if you want,” you said, but Yoongi only shushed you.

            “Movie,” he said, watching the screen.  You followed his example, though, once again, you weren’t really invested in what was going on.  It was some movie that could be considered an indie film, something obscure about music and how fucked up people can be and about how damning an obsession with being successful and pleasing other people can be.  It wasn’t exactly a happy movie, and even if you couldn’t name any of the characters (other than Frank; the movie was named after him, and his giant head was hard to forget), something about it was affecting you too much.  Your discomfort from the morning was still lingering, and Yoongi’s proximity wasn’t helping.  In fact, he was only making it worse, and soon you shifted, trying to get comfortable.  But it didn’t matter where your arms or legs went, you couldn’t get away from Yoongi.  Did he watch movies with all of the nannies?  Did he kiss all of them?  You had to get out of here.  You were just the nanny.

            “Y/N,” Yoongi almost hissed, his hand reaching just below your knee, causing you to flinch a little.  “What’s wrong?”  You squirmed again but didn’t respond, and Yoongi’s fingers loosened but didn’t leave.  “Is it about last night?  Because I know I shouldn’t have kissed you, and I am sorry,” he said, and you choked suddenly, surging forward until your forehead was pressed into your hands, into your knees, and Yoongi was moving, was putting his arms around you again, and you tried to shrink even more.  “Hey, hey, what’s wrong?” he whispered, a hand on your shoulder squeezing in a stabilizing way, his other hand already rubbing its thumb back and forth over your knee.  You only let out another dry sob, biting your lip and shutting your eyes harshly.  “Was it really that awful?” Yoongi said, his voice slightly teasing.  “Do you want me to leave you alone?”  You didn’t answer, and Yoongi’s fingers worked back and forth over your shoulder a couple of times.  “I just, Y/N, I need you to tell me what’s wrong.  What did I do?”

            “N-nothing,” you mumbled, and his fingers stilled for a moment before he continued, and your stomach rolled a little.

            “Is your dad alright?”

            “Yeah?”

            “Okay, did something happen with Jimin?”

            “No,” you said, taking deep breaths.

            “Was Jin mean to you?  Because sometimes when he’s drunk he c—”

            “No,” you said, lifting up your head to look at him.  This seemed to be a mistake, though, because he was so close, and his face looked so concerned and soft in the dark room that you blanched and put your head back down.

            “Hey,” he said again, his hand moving to your back to rub up and down.  “I’m really going to think it’s something I did and you’re just lying to me until you tell me.”

            “I’m not,” you started.  “It’s not you.  I promise.”

            “Okay,” he said slowly.  “Then what is it?”

            “I’m Tae’s nanny,” you said slowly, barely able to make out your hands in front of you as you kept your head down.

            “Yes,” Yoongi said, his hand brushing over your shoulder blade.

            “I’m just his nanny,” you said, and Yoongi’s hands stilled again for a moment.

            “What do you mean just?”

            “I don’t even feel like my dad’s kid anymore.  I don’t know.  I’m just Tae’s nanny, and nothing else.  I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said slowly, his hands still not moving.  “Do you want to be Tae’s nanny still?”

            “Oh, yes,” you said, raising your head quickly and reaching out a hand to grab his arm.  His eyes flickered for a moment before looking at you, and you tried to blink away how wet your eyes were. 

            “Are you sure?  You.  I want you to be happy.”

            “I am, I am,” you rushed out, but Yoongi’s brow furrowed.

            “You aren’t acting like it.”

            “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” you said, letting go of him and rubbing your hands over your face, groaning lowly.

            “You don’t need to apologize.  I’m not sure what to say.  I mean, you’re not ‘just’ Tae’s nanny or only that.”

            “But you said, earlier,” you said, sitting up enough to feel Yoongi’s hand on your back move to accommodate your new position.  “That I’m just Tae’s nanny.”  Yoongi stared at you for a moment before blinking and sighing.

            “So it was me.”

            “Oh, no,” you said, fiddling with your fingers.  “I think, I think seeing someone else decorating with my dad just messed me up some.  Jungkook-he, I don’t know why it bothered me so much.  I just felt really out of place in my own home.  But it’s not really my own home anymore.  And then I came here, and I’m just the nanny, this isn’t my house, and it’s stupid, but I don’t know what to do.”

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said, his voice low but stern.  “First, I am sorry.  That is not what I meant earlier.  I only meant that you, as Tae’s nanny, shouldn’t have to always take care of him.  I thought we were on the same page about that.  I didn’t mean ‘just’ as only or in a dismissive way.  I couldn’t do all of this without you.”

            “You could easily get another nanny,” you said, almost huffing, and your stomach definitely almost escaped when one of his hands finally moved, leaving your knee to come up and grab your chin carefully.  He moved your head toward him and leaned in to look at you closely, which did nothing good for your insides.

            “Y/N, listen to me, please.  That isn’t true.  I already told you how many nannies we’ve tried.  No one, and I mean no one, has ever been as good with Tae as you have been.  Not even Hoseok.  Please, listen to me when I say how grateful I am for that.  I can’t even tell you how glad I am, how relieved.”

            “Yoongi,” you whispered, not wanting to cry while he was so close.

            “Y/N, secondly, it would make me very happy if you called this house your room.”

            “Yoongi,” you said again, and his fingers on your chin moved.  His thumb brushed over your cheek once before he pulled his hand away and put it back on your knee.  Taking a deep breath, you looked down at your fingers again, pulling on the tips of them a few times.  Yoongi’s hand started to move again on your back, and your eyes flickered opened and closed quickly at the soothing feeling.  Yoongi hummed when you closed your eyes and kept them shut for a moment, your forehead resting again on your knees.  You lowered your arms, one of them resting on Yoongi’s leg, the other one hanging limply at your side, and felt Yoongi’s hand higher on your back, his thumb and index finger working at the skin below your neck.  The sensation was pleasant, even if it hurt a little, but as soon as the rest of his fingers joined in and crept up your neck and into your hair, you shuddered and grabbed Yoongi’s leg.  His hands didn’t leave your head, though.  In fact, he pulled them out of your hair and then ran up the back of your head again, the drags of his fingernails over your scalp making you shiver again.

            “Yoongi,” you gasped, clenching your jaw, “please stop.”

            “Okay,” he whispered, but his fingers only left for a second before he ran them up your neck and through your hair again.

            “Please,” you whispered, your fist grabbing at the blanket and pulling on his sleeve, “makes me—”  Yoongi hummed inquisitively and drew his fingers away slowly before gathering up all of your hair pooling over your face and holding it all to the side.  The tug didn’t hurt, but your face was pulled away from your knees a little, and you squirmed to keep your eyes shut.

            “Makes you what?”  You clenched your jaw instead of answering, and he ran his fingers through your hair again.  The feeling made you want to slump forward again, but his other hand left your knee and cupped the side of your face, keeping your head lifted up and turned toward him.  His eyes flickered over your face a few times as you tried to settle your stomach.  “What if I go first, hmm?  Tell you what it makes me want to do.”

            “Okay,” you whispered, but you weren’t sure if you wanted to hear what he had to say, weren’t sure if your stomach could take it.  When his hand tightened in your hair and his thumb brushed over your lip, you instinctively wet them and were positive of what he was going to say.  He hummed again before answering, his voice soft and barely audible, almost shy suddenly.

            “Makes me want to kiss you.”

            “Yoongi,” you breathed immediately, your hand on his leg tightening.  “No.  Tae.  Nanny.  I’m his nanny.”  Another hum and a thumb soothing over your cheek.

            “But you’re not only his nanny.  You’re not just his nanny.  You’re Y/N.  And I’m Yoongi.”

            “Yoongi,” you said again, trying to find some resolve deep within you, but all you could find was your stomach churning.  His hand left your hair to cup the other side of your face, and you held absolutely still as he looked into your eyes.  “Yoongi,” you managed, not sure what else to say.

            “I’m sorry,” he suddenly mumbled, his hands leaving your face so quickly you almost fell forward into him.  “Just.  Slap me next time or something.  Shit, sorry.”

            “Yoongi,” you said, feeling his leg pulling away from your grasp.

            “No, I, shit, I keep doing this to you, and I’m sorry,” he said, fumbling to get out of the blanket and stand up.  You threw off the blanket quickly in order to grab his wrist before he left, and he twitched slightly at the gesture.

            “Yoongi,” you said again.

            “What?  What?”  You took a deep breath and stared at your fingers around his wrist, and as your stomach threatened to rise all the way out of your mouth, you said,

            “Makes me want to kiss you, too.”

            “Oh.  Oh,” he said, his shoulders visibly relaxing as he turned slightly back toward the couch.  Still holding his wrist and not looking at his face, you stood up and stepped closer to him.  You put your free hand on your stomach as if that would actually help and leaned up on your toes to press a quick, chaste kiss on his cheek.  The party in your stomach only intensified, though, clearly unable to keep up with everything, and you dropped your head onto his shoulder.

            “Sorry, I’m,” you stuttered, but his hand came up and rested on the back of your head, and you felt him plant a kiss on the top of your hair.

            “It’s okay,” he whispered, twisting his wrist you were still holding until his fingers found yours and squeezed tight.  “Let’s just.  We should go to sleep.”  You nodded against his shoulder, though if your stomach had anything to say about it, you were pretty sure sleep was going to elude you for a long time that night.

Chapter Text

If you ran your hands through your hair that morning when you woke up, you did it unconsciously.  And if Yoongi shooting you a tired smile when you handed him a cup of coffee on his way to his office made your stomach swirl a little, it was surely purely coincidental.  And if you didn’t see him the rest of the day, it was circumstantial and meant nothing.  And if you told yourself it was just going to be another week being Tae’s nanny (“you’re not just his nanny, Y/N”), let’s face it, you were just in denial at that point.

 

Monday:

            You spent the day with Tae finishing some decorating and cleaning up.  He let you help him make a list of everything he wanted to get his Uncles and his dad (“and Y/N!” “Don’t you want my present to be a surprise?” “Oh yeah”) and even Jimin and Jungkook (“why do you want to get them presents?” “They’re my friends now!”), deciding to worry later about if his ideas were actually feasible (“I don’t know if Jin and Hoseok want a puppy, kid.” “But I want one.”  “Oh, right, well, we’ll write it down, of course”).  While he could sign his own name, it did make you wonder for the first time about teaching him to write and read.  Apparently he was going to be five soon, and that mean school soon (“too soon, poor kids”), so you made a mental note to talk to Yoongi about that soon.

            When he went down for a nap, a little more reluctantly than normal (“we need to go shopping now, Y/N, before everyone else buys everything!”), you flopped down on the couch in the second living room and pulled out your phone.  You were a little concerned you hadn’t heard from Jimin and really wanted to talk to him, anyway, so you finally texted him with what you knew would get his attention.

 

You (2:13PM)

Hey pumpkin

 

Jimin (2:14PM)

The fuck.

I thought I told you never to call me that

 

You (2:14PM)

;)

Call me?

 

Smiling at how easy it was to get his attention, you smiled wider when you saw he was calling, and you laughed when you answered and heard how annoyed he sounded.

            “What’s up your butt?  Please tell me Namjoon,” you grinned wickedly, and Jimin cursed under his breath.

            “Y/N, please, I’m at the library.”

            “Oh, should you be taking personal calls at work?”

            “Campus library, geez.  Some of us have actual studying for finals to do,” he hissed, and your smile faded immediately.

            “Ouch, Jimin,” you whispered, and you heard him sigh.  You could imagine him pushing his hair away from his forehead, his brows furrowed, before he sighed again.

            “Sorry, sorry, you know I don’t mean that.”

            “I know,” you said, but you still felt your jaw tighten.  Not going to college was never a sore spot for you except when Jimin tried to act like his pain over studying somehow made him better than you in some way.  Humans were strange like that, competing over who was more miserable.  And Jimin was good at that, even though in the end you knew he really meant nothing by it, just needed a way to vent.  You thought for a moment that he was mad you weren’t helping him, but in the past he had always been the one to ask you for help.  Not that you knew more than he did, but sometimes just having someone to encourage you was helpful.  You furrowed your brow, wondering if he just assumed you were too busy and thus didn’t ask.  “I can talk to you later if you want.”

            “No, no, I need a break, anyway.  Talk to me while I go get some coffee,” Jimin huffed, and you heard a chair scrapping on the floor.

            “Just wanted to check in on you.  Thought Namjoon had killed you or something.”  Jimin probably rolled his eyes.  “Like, you met him.  You looked like you were having a grand ol’ time.  You fell asleep together.  Then you disappeared and said nothing.  Are you okay?”

            “What?  Yeah, of course,” Jimin said.  “We went to get breakfast.”

            “And?”

            “And?  We talked a lot.  He’s.  He’s, wow, insanely smart.  Like, I knew he would be, but, wow.”  You laughed at how breathless Jimin sounded.  “I’m serious!  He even offered to tutor me.  Like, he doesn’t have time for that, but he offered anyway.”

            “Why don’t you let him?” you said, unable to help feeling a little jealous of some stranger (“Namjoon, Y/N, it’s Namjoon; no offense, but I’m going to choose him over you.” “Wow, no, no offense taken, not at all, nope”) stealing your friend away (“it’s not stealing, I’m not going anywhere”) so quickly.

            “I don’t want to bother him,” Jimin sighed.  “But he gave me his number and said to let him know if I needed anything.”

            “Oh, anything?” you said, wiggling your eyebrows even though he couldn’t see you.

            “Y/N,” Jimin said sternly.

            “Jimin,” you teased.

            “What about you?”

            “What about me?” you said, your voice serious again.

            “The boss man?”

            “What about him?”

            “Okay,” Jimin laughed, “if that’s not obvious.”

            “What are you talking about, Jimin?”

            “Oh, come on, I wasn’t staring at Namjoon as much as Yoongi was staring at you the other night.”

            “He was not,” you huffed.

            “Okay, sure,” Jimin said.  “Well, despite how amazing this conversation is going, coffee.”

            “Okay, yeah.  Oh, no, wait, I wanted to tell you about Jungkook.”

            “Jungkook?  The kid working for your dad?”

            “Yeah, yeah.  Tae and I made him go tree shopping the other day, and he was so weird.”  Jimin hummed, and you heard him talking to someone else, so you waited for a moment until he was quiet again.  “I don’t know, I’m afraid he likes me.”  Jimin laughed and shot out air from his lips. 

            “What makes you think that?”

            “I don’t know.  He was…polite?”

            “I thought boys were mean to girls they like.”

            “That’s a terrible belief.  And he’s been mean to me, too, so if that logic were even true, then my hunch would still stand.”

            “Well, I guess, good luck with that?”

            “Jimin,” you groaned, rolling around on the couch, “I don’t want him to like me.”

            “I know.  You want Yoongi to.”

            “Jimin.”

            “Y/N.”

            “I’m gonna go now."

            “You do that.”

            “Jimin.”

            “Yeah Y/N?”

            “Good luck on your finals.  Let me know if you need any help.  I mean, if Namjoon doesn’t help you first.  I’m sure he can help in more ways tha—”

            “Okay, bye now,” Jimin said, too loudly for a library, before he hung up on you.  You smiled and closed your eyes for a bit.

 

            Yoongi came out for his fifteen minutes with Tae after dinner, offering to watch another movie with you both before bed.  If you made up some excuse about wanting to go to bed early and asking him to put Tae to sleep that night, you did it on purpose.  And if Yoongi smiled and said everything was okay and wished you a good night’s sleep, you went without another word and definitely didn’t see the frown on his face once you went downstairs.    

 

Tuesday:

            Tuesdays in the Min household had started out frustrating, as you couldn’t understand Tae or Yoongi well enough to hold any sort of conversation.  You still couldn’t, but by now you had started to tune them out, especially when they were talking to each other, and only tried to pay attention when Tae was clearly trying to teach you a new word.  So when Yoongi came out of his office at lunch and sat next to Tae at the table and immediately started up a conversation with his son, you just smiled and made him a bowl of soup, too.  Still, it was hard to ignore them completely, sitting at the table and noticing how often they, mostly Yoongi, looked over at you, sometimes nodding and sometimes with an inquisitive look on their faces.  It was obvious they were talking about you, and you tried to not let it bother you as you finished eating and picked up their dishes to wash quickly.  Yoongi called out to Tae as the little boy rushed past you with a “thank you,” a few words you had quickly learned, before you were left alone in the room with him.  You hadn’t really spoken to him since Sunday night, and his quietness as you finished the dishes made you nervous.  As the soft sound of the water washing away the suds filled the sink, your stomach flipped and your ears felt like they were burning when you remembered the last time you had washed dishes with him in the room, and you almost threw Tae’s plastic cup you were washing in the sink as you spun around.  When you did, Yoongi smirked slightly from where he was leaning against the island, watching you with his hands in his pockets.

            “Don’t say anything,” you said, raising your finger for emphasis.

            “What?” he said, still smirking.  It was a word you knew, so you answered.

            “You know.”  He only shrugged when you crossed your arms.

            “You’re making this very hard on me, I’ll have you know.”  You furrowed your brow more, and he laughed, knowing you didn’t understand, which only made you huff in annoyance.  “It’s just not often that I have a beautiful lady in my kitchen being so domestic.

            “That’s not fair,” you whined, and Yoongi laughed again, his eyes twinkling.  “You could be insulting me for all I know.  Plotting my demise.”  He shook his head quickly and pushed himself off of the counter to step closer to you.  You had no where to go, the sink already pressing against your lower back, and you scowled more when he was right in front of you.

            “Never, never,” he said.  “I would tell you, you know?  But I’m too afraid you’d say no.  Push me away.  You’re confusing me, is all.

            “Please stop.  You’re making me uncomfortable,” you said, only half-seriously.  You were annoyed you didn’t know what he was saying, but you couldn’t imagine he was actually saying anything mean about you.  Still, he stopped advancing toward you and put his hands behind his back, his stance almost making you smile.  He looked like Tae did when he was waiting patiently for something.  Even his face, one of absolutely concentration and seriousness, resembled his kid’s (“a kid resembles his parent, Y/N, not the other way around.” “I don’t know, you’d be surprised").

            “I don’t want that, ever.  I’m sorry.  Thank you for telling me to stop,” he said, but you only sighed, pushing yourself off and patting him on the upper arm so you could walk by him.

            “If it’s important, just tell me tomorrow, okay?”  He nodded as your hand left him, and if he tried reaching for your hand as you left the room, you didn’t feel it.

 

Wednesday:

            Whatever Yoongi said on Tuesday, it must not have been important, because you had seen him in the afternoon when you and Tae were playing outside (“Why won’t it snow, daddy?”), and he seemed to be lingering when Tae went down for a nap, but you took long enough to put away the blankets in the second living room and clean up Tae’s toy room some while Yoongi sat on the couch and messed around on his phone for him to talk to you if he wanted to.  He didn’t.  So you went about your day.  And by the time Tae was up from his nap, his dad was back in his office.

            Every day seemed to be colder, and you almost called your dad, but, not wanting to upset Yoongi or do anything outside of your responsibilities, you just wrapped up Tae extra well and went to bed in pants and a sweater, hoping the heater would be enough to last through the night.

            Apparently, it wasn’t.

            You had gone to bed warm enough after wrapping yourself in blankets, but when you woke up a few hours earlier, one of your legs having escaped your cocoon, you shivered immediately.  You flinched and winced all at the same time when you got out of bed, the socks on your feet not nearly enough layers for the cold floor they encountered.  Barely awake, you opened your door slowly and started to shuffle down to the thermostat, only to see a ghost standing there.  Or, that’s what Yoongi looked like, his pale skin almost illuminating the hallway.

            “Hey,” he grumbled when he saw you.  You pulled the blanket you had brought with you around your shoulders tighter and tried not to shiver.  “It’s cold.”

            “No shit,” you said, not caring about being proper or respectful at the moment, only about getting warm, warm, warm.  “Maybe if you put on a shirt,” you huffed, and Yoongi smiled, his teeth shining like his skin.  He pushed a few buttons on the thermostat again before dropping his hand with a sigh.

            “I think it’s broken.”

            “I did warn you,” you said.  He cocked his head at you.  “A few days ago.  You said you’d look into it.”

            “Shit,” he said, trying to tame his bed head by fluffing the hair at the back of his head.  “I forgot.  This is all my fault.”

            “It’s okay,” you shrugged.  “I’m sure we won’t die tonight.  But I’ll call my dad first thing in the morning.”

            “You don’t have to do that,” Yoongi said, turning to you.  “I’ll take care of it, I promise.”

            “It’s okay,” you said, “not a problem.  You have other things to worry about.”

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said slowly, and you saw his hand reaching for you.

            “Daddy?” a small voice, slightly shrill, caught both of your attentions, and with another look at each other, you both trekked upstairs.  Tae was standing in his doorway, his trusted giraffe and blanket in his hands.  When you noticed there were tears in his eyes, you flew to him immediately, his dad following closely behind.

            “Tae, what’s wrong?” you said, rubbing your hands up and down his cold arms, giving you a good idea of what had upset him.

            “C-cold,” he mumbled, and you swooped him off his feet, his cold arms wrapping around your neck causing you to shiver involuntarily.

            “I know, buddy, me too.  Sorry.  Heater’s broken.  How about you sleep with daddy tonight, yeah?” you said, not even bothering to check with Yoongi before suggesting it.  Tae nodded against your neck, his face a least a little warm on your skin.  Yoongi didn’t object, so you followed him to his room and waited for him to get under his sheet and one blanket before putting Tae on the edge of the bed.  “You don’t have enough blankets,” you tsked, and Yoongi worked on pulling Tae under his meager covers while you went to the closet to get two more blankets.  Tae was already curled up in his dad’s arms by the time you got back, and you draped the blankets over both of them, sending Yoongi a small smile when he looked up at you.  You reached down to ruffle Tae’s hair and then smooth over it before leaving, but Yoongi rustled around and cleared his throat, catching your attention.

            “You should stay,” he said, his voice still rough from disuse.  You blinked down at him and pulled on the sleeve of your sweater, not sure what to say or do.  “Body warmth and all that.  Safety in numbers.”  You smiled lightly at that but still didn’t move.  Yoongi’s arm seemed to move under the blankets a little, and then Tae’s head was turning toward you, his body engulfed in the covers.

            “Y/N, stay.”  One of his small hands wiggled out of the covers to reach for you, and you sighed, knowing there was no denying his grabby hands.  You weren’t sure who looked more pleased when you peeled back the covers, Tae or Yoongi, except Yoongi tried to hide his smile quickly while Tae continued to beam until you had pulled the covers over everyone and lay on your side smiling back at him.  He giggled when you poked his nose and wiggled onto his stomach, his head turned toward you on the edge of his dad’s pillow.

            “Warm now?” you whispered, and he nodded slightly, still grinning.

            “I’m a marshmallow.”

            “You are?” you said and reached out to poke his stomach once.  “Are you all soft and squishy?”

            “No, no!” the boy gasped, wiggling to get your hand off of him.  He sighed in relief when you did and rolled over again until his back was to you.  “Daddy, save me,” he joked, and Yoongi grinned across at you before he wrapped his arm around Tae’s back and pulled him securely to his chest.

            “I’ve got you,” Yoongi murmured, and you put your hand on Tae’s head to rub his scalp gently while his dad ran his fingers in circles on his back.  You found watching your and Yoongi’s fingers a better alternative than looking anywhere else, because looking anywhere else meant noticing how Yoongi was lying on his side watching you, not his son.

            “Daddy,” Tae murmured in between a yawn at some point, and Yoongi hummed in response.  “What if we get too warm?  Will we catch on fire?”

            “No, we’ll just throw Y/N out,” Yoongi said, and you gasped dramatically, your hands still on Tae’s head.

            “No, no,” Tae said, wiggling a little more under your hand, his voice almost muffled by his giraffe and Yoongi’s chest, “like her.”

            “Yeah?” Yoongi hummed, and when Tae nodded you resumed running your fingers over his head, smiling down at him.  “Me too.”  Your fingers stilled again as you took a deep breath, pretty sure the flushing in your cheeks was due to how warm you now felt.  Since you couldn’t find yourself to look up at him, you saw his fingers, even in the dark, crawling up Tae’s back toward your hand.  His index finger touched your wrist first, and you froze as the rest of his hand encircled it, his thumb already rubbing back and forth over your pulse.  “Your wrist is so tiny,” he murmured, and you wiggled a little bit in embarrassment, but he held you tight.

            “Maybe your hands are just too big,” you mumbled back, trying to sound annoyed, but Yoongi’s thumb only pressed harder against your skin as he laughed softly.

            “No one’s ever complained about them before.”  The thought made you squirm a little more until you wrestled your wrist out of his hold and used your freed hand to pull the blankets down off of your head, breathing deeply before making sure Tae could breathe, too.  You tried to resist thinking about who had been in his bed last lying next to him, being held by his hands, but you slammed your face into the pillow and smelled something you couldn’t place that wasn’t quite like how Tae or Yoongi smelled, and you whipped your head up.

            “Have you washed your sheets recently?” (“Since that escort was here?”)

            “Uh, yeah, why?” Yoongi said, his face emerging from the blankets as well, his hand returning to Tae’s back or somewhere else that wasn’t you.  You refused to answer and closed your eyes instead, trying not to picture what went on so often in the spot you had found yourself in.  “Y/N,” Yoongi whispered, and he sounded concerned, but you wondered if he spoke in a whisper to the women he brought into his bed.  You wondered if he spoke to them at all.  “Y/N?  Do they smell?”

            “No,” you said, scooting your head closer to Tae to smell how clean he smelled.  “They just don’t smell like you.”

            “Oh,” Yoongi said.  “That’s a weird thing to notice.”

            “I know, sorry,” you grinned.

            “Who do they smell like?” he whispered, but he sounded so close.  You shrugged and started to pick at the blanket where your hand was lying.

            “I don’t know,” you said, because you really didn’t, couldn’t remember her name, any of their names, but you remembered the lady in the emerald dress with the long dark hair, her voice itself sounding more expensive than anything you had ever owned.  Yoongi suddenly chuckled, low and quiet, but enough to make you open your eyes to glare over at him.  He wasn’t looking at you for what seemed to be the first time since you got into bed, though, his eyes looking at Tae’s chest rising and falling close to his own.

            “He’s out,” he said.

            “How can he do that with us here and talking?” you whispered, a little amazed, and Yoongi only smiled proudly again when he said,

            “Gets it from me.”  You watched as his smile faded, though, and saw his hand come up to brush Tae’s hair out of his forehead before settling again on his back.  “One good trait he did get.”

            “Well that’s just not true,” you said without missing a beat.  Yoongi’s eyes flickered over your face, and you swallowed thickly.  “Uh, I mean, he’s really smart and into music.  And.  He’s really cute,” you said, wanting to add “sociable and charming,” but those traits you couldn’t actually ascribe to Yoongi.

            “Aw, you think I’m cute?” Yoongi said, sounding too smug.

            “I mean, you’re not ugly,” you huffed, looking away from him again.

            “Wow, high praise, I’m honored,” Yoongi laughed gently, and when he started to shift a little on the bed, you felt something cold press against your shins that caused you to almost scream and kick your legs wildly to get it off.

            “What the heck!” you hissed, quieting down when you saw Tae moving in his sleep.

            “Sorry,” Yoongi said, his smile becoming sheepish, “my toes are cold.”

            “Put on some socks then, oh my god, and a shirt, what the heck,” you muttered, kicking one of your legs blindly and feeling justified when it hit one of Yoongi’s shins.

            “Ow, the f-fudge,” Yoongi winced, “no need to get violent.”

            “Look, I’m only here because Tae asked, so no touching me with your freezing appendages.” 

            “Appendages?” Yoongi said before laughing lightly again.  “Okay, okay, sorry.”  He shuffled around again and when he touched your shin again he withdrew his own feet, understanding where the line was now.  “Are you warm, by the way?”

            “I was until your frozen popsicles touched me,” you whined.

            “Isn’t that redundant?”

            “What?”

            “Isn’t a popsicle always frozen?  So a frozen popsicle is redundant.”

            “Sure,” you said, rolling your eyes.  “Let’s argue semantics.”

            “Let’s not argue,” Yoongi said seriously.

            “Sure, that’s realistic,” you retorted, and, your hand feeling a little cold exposed to the air, you brought it back under the covers and settled it on top of your arm in front of your chest and curled up a little closer to Tae’s back.

            “It’s a common misconception,” Yoongi mused, “that fighting is necessary for relationships.  It’s healthy to know how to get through one well, but it’s not necessary to have them.”  Trying not to be jarred by the word “relationship,” you furrowed your brow and thought for a moment.  “Kwon and I didn’t argue that much, for instance.”

            “Oh?” you said, and when Yoongi hummed you hummed back.  “Maybe…”

            “Maybe what?”

            “No, I was going to say something mean.”

            “Oh?”  You hummed again but didn’t respond.  “I won’t get mad.  I’d like to see what you count as mean.”

            “No, it was a really low thought.”

            “Well, now you have to tell me,” Yoongi said, and you sighed.

            “I was going to say maybe that’s why you and Kwon didn’t stay together.”

            “Oh,” Yoongi said, and you pried your eyes open to look at him.  His brow was furrowed as he looked back at you.  “That’s.  That’s not mean, really.  It’s an understandable assumption.  I mean, I have a feeling it was her choosing her career over our son that made us unable to stay together, but that’s just me.”

            “I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have brought it up.  Let’s just drop it.”

            “No, no, let’s argue about it,” Yoongi said, but as you looked at him, concerned, his face softened until he smiled lightly at you.  “We can argue about the necessity of arguing.”

            “I wasn’t suggesting we argue,” you sighed.

            “Did your parents argue a lot?”

            “What?” you said, stiffing.

            “I mean, you said not arguing wouldn’t be realistic, which insinuates that arguing in a relationship is normal.”

            “We’re not in a relationship,” you said.

            “Sure we are,” Yoongi said simply.  “You’re my kid’s nanny.  But you aren’t only that.”

            “What else am I?” you said softly.

            “Y/N,” Yoongi answered.

            “What else am I to you?”

            “I don’t know,” Yoongi whispered, his eyes flickering over your face again.  He shifted on the bed again until one of his arms came out over his head and reached over Tae’s head to rest on the pillow above yours.

            “Yoongi,” you said, even as his fingers touched your hair and he hummed.  “Your fingers count as apendages.”

            “Oh?” he said, watching just the tips run through your hair.  “But are they cold?”

            “No?” you said, because they weren’t, they were warm and soft and applying just the right amount of pressure and everything you wanted.  Your eyes flickered shut when his whole palm sat on your hair, his fingertips scratching softly on the back of your head.  Your stomach started to do that thing he seemed to be doing anytime Yoongi touched your or looked at you a certain way (“It’s butterflies, Y/N.” “It’s not.  That’s so stupid.  I do not have butterflies around Yoongi like some twelve-year-old.”  “Butterflies aren’t an age thing, Y/N, what sad stories have you been reading?  I get butterflies around Namjoon.” “All the more reason that I do not have butterflies around Yoongi.  No way.”  “Let the beautiful caterpillars fly, Y/N”), and you fisted the sheet beneath you in your fists.

            “Relax,” Yoongi whispered.  “Go to sleep.”

            “You go to sleep,” you said, flushing at how juvenile you sounded (“Wow, you do turn to mush when someone rubs your head.  You’re like a cat.”  “I do not!  I am not!”  “You know every time you deny it that only confirms it more.”  “It does not.  I do not.”  “Stop pouting, you, unlike me, are not cute when you pout”).

            “Not tired.”

            “No?” you sighed as his fingers rubbed up and down your head again and then bit your lip at the sound.

            “Nope.  Having fun.”

            “You’re mean,” you said, and you heard Yoongi laugh softly.  His fingers didn’t stop, and you finally let yourself relax, your fingers lying flat on the sheet behind Tae’s back, your breath evening out and slowing down as you took deeper breaths.  You wanted to say something else, keep the conversation going if only so you wouldn’t fall asleep before him, but that was looking less and likely.  Your limbs started to feel heavy, and, in some futile last-ditch effort to stay awake, you started to move, your legs straightening out before bending even more until your knees hit Yoongi’s, your head pressing up more into Yoongi’s hand, and one of your arms flopping over Tae’s small frame and resting on Yoongi’s bare side.  His fingers stilled then, causing you to frown and dig your nails lightly into his side.  He twitched a little, his muscles flexing under your touch, and the next pull of your hair was a little rougher, pulling your head back even more.  You wiggled, then, your eyes still shut tightly and tried to get away from his grasp, but you couldn’t move fast enough, and his other hand clamped down on your hip and pressed firmly into your pants. 

            “Don’t be mean, now,” he said, and you tried a lighter touch, your fingers skimming as far down his lower back you could reach.  His fingers in your hair relaxed, and you brought your head down a little deeper into the pillow, your scalp relieved but even happier when his gentle rubbing continued.  “Not going to tell me to stop this time?” Yoongi said, and you weakly shook your head.

            “Please don’t stop,” you managed, your whole body warm, your stomach almost burning.  Yoongi thankfully didn’t, and his hand on your hip loosened, too, his thumb slipping under the bottom of your shirt to rub circles along your hip.

            “Makes you wanna?” Yoongi whispered, his voice so close, too close.

            “Makes me wanna,” you sighed, unable to think any more about moving at all, your fingers lying still and useless on Yoongi’s side as he continued lulling you to sleep with his fingers.  “Makes me wanna,” you mumbled again, and Yoongi hummed encouragingly for you to continue.  “Sleep.”  A soft chuckle.

            “Sleep, Y/N,” Yoongi whispered.  And if you woke up in the morning still draped over each other, Tae sleeping contently between the two of you, then it could surely be blamed on the need for body warmth, for survival and all that.

 

Thursday:

            In no shape or form did you want to get up.  You didn’t even feel the need to get out of Yoongi’s hold.  The bed was so warm.  Tae was warm next to you, Yoongi’s hand was warm on your skin, his fingers having fallen a little more under your shirt, a little lower, curled up against your stomach.  If you or he moved at all, you were sure to be tickled, so you scooted away, though reluctantly, and slunk out of the bed, hissing to yourself when your body left the warmth and met the cool air.  You hurried to run downstairs and text your dad about the situation and rushed to make coffee and tea.  Once your dad responded to let you know he was on his way, you found a tray and put three mugs on it, filling one with black coffee and the other two with green tea, one with a teaspoon of sugar and one with a couple of globs of honey (“Don’t you mean a tablespoon, Tae?” “No, Y/N, a glob”).  Trying not to spill anything as you shook slightly, you made your way back upstairs and found Yoongi and Tae where you had left them in bed, so you put the tray on the nightstand and slowly got back in the bed, sitting against the headboard but covering your legs up completely.  The movement finally seemed to rouse Yoongi, who blinked a couple of times before looking up at you.  A small smile met his lips, and his arm that was still over Tae’s head reached out to tug on your pants.

            “Morning.”

            “Morning,” you whispered.

            “Time is it?” Yoongi yawned, his voice gruff but quiet.

            “Past eight.  My dad’s on his way.”  Yoongi’s fingers stopped playing with the side of your pants.

            “What?  Why?”

            “To look at the heater.”

            “I told you I’d handle it,” Yoongi said, his lips pressed together.

            “And I know you have other things to worry about.  Let’s not argue about it, yeah?” you said, smiling slightly, and thankfully Yoongi returned a smile, obviously also remembering what you discussed the night before.  Still, he sighed as he sat up, making sure Tae was still covered.  You weren’t surprised when he shivered as his bare chest was exposed to the cold air, and you rolled your eyes at his insistence to not wearing a shirt to bed.  “Here,” you said, reaching over to hand him his cup of coffee.  His fingers curled around it immediately, and he let out a sigh of relief when the steam hit his face before he took a sip.

            “Perfect.  I’ll forgive your insistence to try to take care of the heater instead of letting me as the man of the house deal with it because you make my coffee so well.”

            “I literally pushed like, two buttons,” you scoffed before hitting him slightly on the shoulder.  “And is your masculinity seriously threatened right now?”

            “Never, considering I am still taller than you, I am not threatened at all by you.”

            “Okay,” you said, rolling your eyes before watching him closely.  “But, I’m serious.  I only meant to help.  Are you sure?”

            “Yeah, yeah, I’ll have to find some other way to feel like I can provide for you and protect you to boost my ego again,” Yoongi said seriously as he watched you over the rim of his cup.  You mumbled something and reached for your tea cup so you had something else to do.  And so you had an excuse for how red your face felt.  The tea was still too hot to drink, so you just held the cup and let the steam roll over you as you watched Tae sleeping.  Yoongi got on his phone and sipped his coffee, but otherwise the two of you just sat in quiet for a few minutes.  You were glad when your tea cooled down enough to drink as it gave you something else to do.  You weren’t anxious to start the day, but something about sitting so close to Yoongi on his bed was making you nervous, especially when you thought about how you had fallen asleep the night before.  You kept sticking most of your face over your cup to hide as much of yourself as you could each time you took a sip, which Yoongi was bound to notice but thankfully said nothing about.  He continued to not say anything as he messed around on his phone until a few minutes later when he mumbled,

            “This is nice,” and you eyed him to see him smiling down at Tae, too.  You wondered if he meant the coffee.  Or the warmth of the bed.  Or having a calm beginning to a day.  Or sitting with you.  But when he looked up at you looking at him with your head leaning back on the headboard, he smiled at you and clarified before you could ask.  “Being in bed with you and Tae.”  It all felt overwhelming domestic, and you were glad when your phone buzzed, letting you escape the situation and the bed to run downstairs to let your dad in.  You didn’t even let Yoongi know what you were doing or wait for him to ask before answering the door.

            “Hey, kiddo,” your dad said, bundled up in a jacket and gloves, boots and a beanie.  Trust your dad to always try to look hip.  You smiled as a greeting and ushered him in, only to still when you saw Jungkook behind him, his wide eyes roaming around before he knocked his shoes on the step and stepped in.  Still reeling from being cold and waking up so close to Yoongi and everything else going on to make you feel confused, you shut the door wordlessly.  “Oh, I brought Jungkook,” your dad said, hooking a thumb at him, as if it wasn’t painfully obvious already.  “Thought he could learn a thing or two.”

            “Yo,” Jungkook said, lifting one hand out of his pockets to shoot you a wave.

            “Wish you had warned me, honestly, dad,” you said sternly, shifting awkwardly from one socked-foot to another and feeling self-conscious about being in your pajamas.  Your dad, never one for vanity and used to seeing you look much worse, clearly didn’t care.

            “Show us to it, yeah?  It’s supposed to snow tomorrow, so we’ll try to get it fixed quickly.”

            “Yeah, sure,” you said, eyeing Jungkook as he looked around one more time before leading them to the thermostat.  You leaned against the wall and watched your dad tinker with it for a moment before turning back to you.

            “Heater unit outside?”

            “Yeah, let me get dressed and I’ll show you,” you said, but he waved you off.

            “Sure we can find it.  It’s probably obvious.  Big.  Looks like a heater unit.”

            “Yeah, Jungkook, make sure you write that down,” you said, rolling your eyes, and the boy huffed lightly before following your dad outside.  You used their absence as an opportunity to get dressed and ready for the day, and by the time you were out of your room Yoongi and Tae were coming down the stairs.

            “Who’s here?” Yoongi said, passing off a still semi-sleeping Tae to you who whimpered a little.

            “My dad and Jungkook, that kid who’s working with him.”

            “I see.  Good thing I got dressed, then,” Yoongi said, and you tried not to smile or ask why he had gotten dressed.  Not that you wanted him walking around without a shirt on to meet your dad and Jungkook, but he had gotten dressed.  He looked nice.  Like he was going to a meeting nice.  No ripped jeans or hoodies but slacks and a button-up shirt and a peacoat.  He looked more like Min Yoongi, producer, not so much Yoongi, single, works-from-home dad.  You wondered who he was trying to impress.  “He drank some of his tea but said he’s hungry.”

            “Me too,” you said, patting Tae’s head.  “Let’s make ramen eggs, yeah?” He nodded ecstatically, and you settled him on a stool so you could get everything out.

            “What’re ramen eggs?” Yoongi said, pouring himself another cup of coffee before making another batch.

            “Something people who eat breakfast can experience,” you teased, and you were glad to see Tae awake enough to smile. 

            “Maybe I’m hungry,” Yoongi said, but you only shrugged as you cooked.  The kitchen got quiet as you cooked, Yoongi sitting near Tae as he drank his coffee, but by the time you were done, your dad and Jungkook came trekking back in through the back door.

            “What’s the verdict?” you said, handing Tae a fork.  Yoongi turned around on his stool while Tae became too invested in his food to greet your guests.

            “Faulty hose,” your dad said, holding up the culprit.  Jungkook was quiet beside him, eyeing Yoongi carefully.  “I’ll need to run to the store to get a replacement.  Pretty common, so should be an easy find and easy fix.  Be back soon and have it finished by lunch, I’m sure.”

            “That’s great.  Thanks so much, dad,” you said, starting on your own plate.  Your fork hovered in the air before you took a bite, though.  “Oh, dad, this is Yoongi, my boss.  Tae’s dad.  Yoongi, this is my dad and Jungkook.”  Yoongi got up, then, wiping his hand that wasn’t even dirty on his coat before stepping over to shake your dad and Jungkook’s hand.  Your dad was notorious for death-grip handshakes, so you were a little impressed when Yoongi didn’t seem fazed after greeting him.

            “Pleasure to meet you both.  I’m really lucky to have Y/N around,” Yoongi said.

            “She’s pretty great, right?” your dad boasted, and you rolled your eyes, eating your eggs contently.  “Jungkook here is stronger, but not nearly as skilled.”

            “Hey,” you shouted, not caring whether your mouth was full or not, “you can’t replace me.  Certainly not with Jungkook!”
            “Never, never,” your dad laughed, patting Jungkook on the back.  Yoongi looked over his shoulder at you, but you just went back to eating.

            “Well, we’d best be off so we can get back,” your dad said.  “Nice to meet you, Mr. Yoongi.”  You stifled a laugh at the name and waved your dad out.  Jungkook followed behind him, throwing another glance over his shoulder before leaving wordlessly.

            “Your dad’s bigger than I expected,” Yoongi said once the door was shut.

            “I don’t know how to respond to that,” you said, patting Tae’s head and taking his clean plate.

            “And that Jungkook kid,” he said, and you grunted at the mention of him, “kind of looks like you?”

            “Pft,” you said, washing the dishes quickly so Yoongi wouldn’t have time to say anything weird about it, “he does not.”                     

            “Yeah, something about the nose.  And your eyes.”

            “Please.  No,” you groaned.  You heard Tae hopping off his stool and head for the stairs as Yoongi came to lean against the counter near you.

            “It really bothers you he’s living with your dad, huh?”

            “What?  No,” you said before sighing and shutting off the water, knowing you couldn’t lie about it.  “I just mean.  I don’t know.  It’s weird.  That’s all.  He got there so quickly after I got this job.  There’s something off about him.  I don’t know where he’s from or why he’s here, and I’m just trying to protect my dad.”

            “I think he can protect himself,” Yoongi chuckled.  “Almost broke my hand.”  You smiled, leaving the sink to dry your hands, glad Yoongi had been fazed by the handshake.

            “My dad’s a big softie,” you said.  “Though what’s stopping Jungkook from slicing his throat at night or burning his house down or something?”

            “Geez, do you really think he’d do that?” Yoongi said, his face concerned.  You shrugged.

            “I don’t know!  I don’t know the kid.”

            “Well, me either, but, shit, I think he just wanted a job, and your dad seems like a great guy.”

            “He is,” you sighed.  “Too great, sometimes.  Like usually parents are evened out, but my mom was shitty, and my dad is great.”  You crossed your arms and looked down at the floor for a moment, feeling like a child for saying such a thing.

            “Hey,” Yoongi said softly, and you clenched your fists but uncrossed your arms.

            “Anyway, I just don’t want him stealing from my dad or something like that.  I’m sure I am just jealous of him for some bizarre, unknown reason and am taking it out on him for no reason.  I’m sure it’s just all in my head,” you said, and you nodded once to end the conversation, but as you tried to leave the kitchen, Yoongi stuck his arm out, and it hit your stomach, causing you to stop.

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said again, looking at your face while you tried to look past him.  “It’s okay to be jealous.  But give the kid a chance, yeah?  And if you’re really concerned, talk to your dad?”

            “Yeah,” you said softly, giving in to defeat as Yoongi’s arm tightened around your waist.  “Okay.  I know.”

            “I know you know.  Your dad was right, you know?”

            “About what?” you said, putting your hand on top of Yoongi’s arm to move it when you wanted to, the material of his coat soft under your fingers.

            “You are pretty great.”

            “Yeah, okay,” you said, pulling his arm away, but his other hand leapt forward to grab your wrist.

            “Hey,” he said, turning you around a little so you were facing him and unable to look away.  “After the heater’s fixed, could you take Tae Christmas shopping or something?  Get him out of the house before the library?  I’ll leave you a card.  And, could you take him to the library in your truck?  I’m going to Namjoon’s this morning to work but have someone scheduled at two to meet here.”

            “Yeah, sure,” you said, looking at the strange, almost V-like, shapes on his shirt.  “Library at four?”

            “That’d be great.  I’ll be there,” he said, swiping his thumb over your wrist once before letting you go.  “And I’ll leave a check for your dad, okay?”

            “That’s okay,” you said, but Yoongi shook his head as he walked away.

            “Please, for my masculinity’s sake.”  You rolled your eyes but smiled anyway before going to find Tae.

 

            True to his word, your dad (and Jungkook) returned soon, though Yoongi was already gone, and you and Tae played outside while they worked.  As your dad had suspected, the fix was easy and quick, much to your relief, but you made sure to make your dad a cup of coffee and Tae and Jungkook hot chocolate when they were done.

            “What is this?” Jungkook said as Tae plopped mini marshmallows in his cup.

            “Hot chocolate,” you said a-matter-of-factly.

            “I’m not a child,” he said, and you crossed your arms.

            “Do you want coffee?”

            “No, that stuff’s nasty,” the boy said, wiggling his nose (“His nose looks nothing like mine”).

            “Then drink that.  It’s good.  Why are you the way that you are?” you said, but Jungkook didn’t answer.  He drank the hot chocolate, though, and a handful of marshmallows (“Twenty-two my ass, that boy is a baby and a terrible liar”).

            As the house started to warm up, you gave your dad and Jungkook the tour, Tae riding on Jungkook’s back and pointing around and adding his own commentary when yours seemed lackluster. 

            “You’ve scored yourself a nice place,” Jungkook said when you had come back downstairs, and you rolled your eyes.

            “It’s not mine.”

            “Seems to be.  You cook and clean and watch the kid.  You’re practically married to the guy.”

            “’Linda cleans,” Tae said, poking Jungkook’s cheek from behind him.

            “Who’s ‘Linda?”

            “The lady who cleans the house twice a week,” you added, “but I’m not practically married.  If being married equaled living in the same house as someone else and cooking for them or having them cook for you and cleaning up after yourself, then my dad and you are practically married.”

            “God, Y/N, don’t say that,” Jungkook said, his face looking disgusted.  You couldn’t help but laugh as your point was proven.

            “If you two are done now,” your dad said, though he was grinning, too, “Jungkook and I have work to do.  Need to open the shop.”

            “Oh, yeah, shoot, don’t forget this check,” you said, and your dad eyed the paper in your hand as if he was trying to use lazer beams to catch it on fire.  You waved it limply in the air.  “Just take it, dad.  I can’t fight Yoongi about it.”

            “Hey, why don’t you call your boss Mr. Min?” Jungkook suddenly asked, helping Tae off of his back and onto the couch.

            “Because he told me not to.”

            “That’s weird.”

            “You’re weird,” you retorted, and Jungkook rolled his eyes at you.  You waved the check again before your dad sighed and stuffed it in his pocket.  He gave you a quick peck on the forehead before patting your back.

            “Don’t be a stranger,” he said, and you smiled warmly at him.

            “Thanks for everything, dad.”

            “See you later, Tae!” your dad said, and Tae stood up on the couch and bowed.

            “Thank you for fixing our heat!” the little boy said, and you beamed proudly at his manners, even if that wasn’t something you had taught him.  It seemed to amuse your dad, though, who gave Tae another wave before leaving.  Jungkook eyed the house one more time as if he was planning some heist before closing the door behind him.

            “Okay, kid,” you said, clapping your hands once and turning to face Tae, “what do you say to some shopping?”

            He said yes.

 

            Shopping list in hand, you and Tae spent several hours at the mall, stopping by the food court for pizza (“Look, Y/N, it’s so stringy it’s like my snot.”  “Lovely, kid, thanks for that image”) and the indoor playground where Tae proceeded to make three new best friends.  You actively avoided the shoe shop from last time when Tae said he wanted to get Uncle Hobi a pair of what turned out to be the most colorful pair of shoes you had ever seen, the amalgamation of colors almost jarring to your eyes.  The price was jarring, too, but you used Yoongi’s card and only felt a little odd about signing your own name.  If someone called the cops on you, Yoongi could clear everything up.  You left the shop with shoes in hand and no cops following you, though, and proceeded to find Uncle Jin something Mario related (“Jinjin loves Mario, Y/N, you don’t understand.”  “I do not”).  Tae got stuck on Namjoon, but you figured it was a successful afternoon already by the time you headed for the library.

            It wasn’t quite four when you arrived, so you waved to Jimin and went with Tae to browse the shelves.  Distracted for quite a while by a display for Harold and the Purple Crayon, you and Tae finally picked out a couple of books and came back to the center of the library where all of the tables were to see Yoongi leaning over the counter talking to Jimin.  You let Tae get away from you to greet his dad by running into the back of his legs while you lingered at the end of an aisle, watching your friend.  When Yoongi turned around to greet Tae, Jimin caught your eye and only shrugged.  You let Tae talk to his dad while you got the books, the air between you and Jimin a little awkward as he scanned your library card.

            “How’s studying going?” you finally said when he handed your books to you.  He sighed, and you could tell how tired his eyes looked.

            “I feel pretty doomed.  But that always happens.  Just ready for it to be over.”

            “Hang in there,” you smiled weakly.  “You can do it.”

            “Thanks, Y/N.  I promise we’ll hang out when I’m done, yeah?”

            “Totally,” you said, reaching over and squeezing his hand gently once.  He smiled wearily at you before squeezing back, and you knew everything was going to be fine.

            Yoongi had apparently been dropped off, because he asked for a ride home, much to your chagrin and Tae’s delight.  Tae loved your truck, the way it rattled and felt like a ride, and you loved it, too, its reliability and how many miles you had driven in it, but something about Yoongi looking so professional and important today made you feel slightly embarrassed.  He didn’t say anything, though, except to thank you for the ride, which you insisted wasn’t necessary.  And once you got home (Yoongi and Tae’s home, your, second home?), Yoongi immediately changed into something more comfortable, more him, excited and grateful about how warm the house was, and it warmed your heart to hear him praising the job your dad had done.  He had more work to do, so you and Tae were left alone during dinner, bath, and movie time, and you had even put Tae to bed and were reading in the second living room by lamplight before Yoongi emerged from his office again.  He came up the stairs quietly and smiled softly when he saw you, shuffling over to the couch and sitting down next you without a word.

            “Need anything?” you said after a moment while he rested his head on the back of the couch.

            “Sleep,” he muttered, his eyes already shut.

            “Then go to bed.”

            “Come with me?”

            “Yoongi,” you said, putting your book down and getting ready to leave.  “There’s no need for that.  We’ll all survive perfectly fine in our own beds tonight.”

            “Not a matter of survival.  Just liked it,” he said, shrugging.  You stood up and looked down at him for long enough without saying anything for him to open one of his eyes and look up at you.

            “I’ll see you tomorrow,” you said, stepping over him to head to your room.  And if you paused at his doorway instead of heading down the stairs, you didn’t think about why you were considering it until you lay in your own bed, missing something.

Chapter Text

Friday:

            Just like your dad predicted, it finally snowed on Friday, much to Tae’s infinite delight.  While the boy clearly enjoyed warmer weather better, he seemed to adore snow.  There was something magical about watching it fall and then watching Tae spin around trying to catch each flake he could.  Yoongi seemed to like the cold even less, but he bundled himself up and came and stood near the door, just right outside, watching his son run around in their yard.  He left and came back later when more had fallen and was actually sticking but still wasn’t enough for a snowman or a snowball fight or snow angels.  You all went back in for lunch and a break, watching the snow continue to fall as you sipped on soup and ate grilled cheese.  Yoongi went back to work and came out a few hours later to find you and Tae busy making a mess in the back yard.  Soon you were all messy and running around with flushed cheeks and freezing fingers.  Yoongi, you learned, was a little bit of a cheat.  Even after you were done flinging slush at each other and you and Tae were trying to build a family of snow people, Yoongi kept throwing tiny balls at you or running up behind you to stuff snow down your back.  He wasn’t successful most of the time with his latter plan of attack, especially after you realized what he was doing and refused to turn your back on him, but he still succeeded enough times at surprising you to make you determined to get him back somehow.  You suggested to Tae that you freeze a couple of snowballs for later, which he readily agreed to, oblivious as to why you might need one.  His innocence was truly a delight, and you grinned wickedly at how curious Yoongi looked when you and Tae went to get a tray to put snow on. 

            When half of the yard seemed to have been gathered up or thrown around or, sadly, melted, you decided to call it a day for everyone.  Tae needed a warm bath and a nap, anyway, and you were eager for him to go to sleep soon so you could take a long bath, too.  Yoongi actually offered to help with Tae, and the two of you only shed your shoes and outer coats, your teeth chattering occasionally, before running the water and filling it with bubbles for Tae.  He shivered and whined until he was submerged, and shivered and whined again when it was time to get out, but the day seemed to have worn him out, because he kissed you both goodnight and went down without a fight to your relief. 

            “Okay, my turn,” you said, “see you later.”  You moved quickly toward the stairs, but Yoongi stopped you and went to into his bedroom for a minute.  When he came back, he had a bath bomb in his hand which he gestured for you to take.  You had never used a bath bomb in your entire life, and something about the fact that Yoongi had one lying around made you laugh.  He grumbled a little at that, but you thanked him and patted his arm before rushing to take a relaxing bath.  And if the rest of the day passed in a lazy haze smelling like peppermint and hot chocolate and pine trees, you couldn’t complain.  And if Yoongi huddled up next to you and Tae when you sat down that evening to watch a movie, his proximity and warmth not really necessary, you couldn’t really find a reason to push him away.

 

Saturday:

            Your talks about arguments was on your mind as you watched Yoongi run around getting ready for another event Saturday evening.  You had seen him stressed before.  He looked stressed most days, though he seemed to handle it with a nonchalant attitude.  Unlike Tae, who spazzed and shook and bounced around with endless energy, Yoongi moved calmly.  You hadn’t really seen him lose his patience or get angry, and it wasn’t like you wanted him to be mad or impatient, but you just wanted to know what he was like.  You wanted to sit and watch him work, listen to him talk about music, sit with you and Tae at dinner and discuss your days, and maybe, maybe hold your hand and—

            “Earth to Y/N.  You alright?”

            “Huh?  Yeah.  What do you need?” you said, shaking your head and trying to clear your thoughts.  Yoongi was standing in front of you, his tie held up pitifully in his hands, already hanging uselessly around his neck.

            “Can you?”

            “Oh, yeah, sure,” you said, shaking your head again and waving him over.  He stepped up to where you were sitting on one of the kitchen stools, the magazine you had been half-heartedly flipping through abandoned on the counter behind you.  “What did you do before me?” you grinned, taking the tie from him and quickly fixing it.  Yoongi pressed his lips together.  “I mean who tied your ties?” you said, looking up at him.

            “Oh, JaeEun tied them.”

            “Your driver?”  He nodded, but you pulled on his tie a little to make him stay still.

            “I’d love to see that.”

            “Yeah?”

            “Yeah,” you said, running your fingers down his tie as you finished adjusting it.  You held onto it longer than you needed to, surely, and Yoongi knew it as much as you did, and when you finally let go, your hand dropped to your lap, but his hand came out to take a few of your fingers in his.  You watched his hand by his side swaying slightly back and forth with yours.

            “I wish you were coming with me,” he said, and you felt his whole hand tighten around your two fingers.

            “What’s the occasion tonight?”

            “Another charity event.  Nothing against charities, helping children at Christmas and all.  I’d just rather not go.  Or have you there with me.”

            “Will Hoseok be there?” you said, ignoring his comment again and still watching your hands.

            “No, Namjoon will, though, and he’s entertaining in his own way.  But not you.”

            “Okay, I get it,” you said, finally looking up at him to notice him smirking slightly at you.  You pulled your hand out of his to fix his tie again, even if it didn’t need fixing.  “I mean, who will help you with your tie if I’m not there?”

            “Exactly, you get it.”  You hummed and halfway rolled your eyes, dropping your hands again.  You couldn’t help but take a deep breath and clench your jaw slightly when he put his hands on your knees, though, and you sat still, watching him as he looked down at you and moved slowly, his fingers barely moving to the inside of your knees, his thumbs rubbing circles into your pants like he always did before putting just enough pressure on them so they separated slightly.  Getting the picture, you put your feet on the bottom rung of the stool to steady yourself as he spread your knees wide enough to step in between them and lean in that much closer to you.  You blinked and swallowed and waited, your back straightening as his hand crawled slowly up your thighs.

            And then someone was knocking on the door.  Your eyes flickered over to it, and Yoongi stilled, blinking down at you before cocking his head in confusion.

            “Uh, Namjoon?” you suggested, but he shook his head, standing up a little straighter, his hands retreating back to your knees.

            “No, he’s meeting me there.”  Another knock, and Yoongi sighed, leaving you reluctantly to go open the door.  You saw him open the door and not say anything, which made you get up off of your stool in concern.  You took enough steps to see who was there.  You recognized her immediately, even if her dress was a different color, even if you didn’t know her name, even with her hair done up. 

            “What?” you heard Yoongi say, and as soon as you heard her laugh and saw her step in, you cleared your throat.  Yoongi whipped his head around, his hand still frozen on the doorknob, his brow furrowed.

            “I’ll go get Tae so you can say bye,” you said, turning before you took in the rest of the woman entering the house.  Your stomach felt like it was in knots (“The butterflies are dying, Jimin.” “I thought you never had butterflies to begin with.  Y/N?  Y/N, what’s wrong?”), and you tripped on one of the stairs on the way up, but you held your voice steady when you called Tae out of his playroom.  “Hey, kid, your dad’s about to leave for his party, so go say goodbye.”  Tae happily complied, and you made sure he went downstairs before you tasked yourself with cleaning up his playroom.  You could barely hear the combination of voices downstairs overlapping each other, and you almost jumped when Tae was at the doorway again, hugging himself.

            “Daddy’s mad,” he mumbled, and you jumped up immediately.

            “Are you okay?” you said sternly, and he nodded, but he kicked at the carpet and stared at the floor.  Ruffling his hair as you went by him, saying, “Stay here, okay?” you rushed down the stairs, only to halt once you got to the kitchen, the lady, the escort’s, presence still a little jarring.

            “I’m only saying, Yoongi, you already paid.  At least take me.  Let me have a nice dinner.  You know how bad it will look if I don’t go.”

            “I don’t care,” Yoongi almost growled, and his tone made you jumped back slightly.  “I don’t want you here.”

            “Yoongi,” the lady said again, her voice sickingly sweet, charming, alluring, intoxicating, reaching for Yoongi’s arm.  He pulled it out of her reach and almost hissed at her as he did so.

            “I’ll call the agency, I’ll still pay you, I just don’t want you here.”

            “Take me to the event,” the lady said, and you saw Yoongi’s fists clench at his side before he sighed deeply.

            “Fine.  Dinner.  Have someone else take you home or pick you up.  I don’t even care who you sit with.”

            “Alright, Yoongi, that sounds like a nice compromise.  Let’s go have a fun time, okay?”

            “Yeah, alright,” Yoongi sighed again as the lady slipped her arm through his.  She turned his whole body toward you, his fists unclenching even if his arm remained limp in her hold.  You realized, as they both turned toward you, that she had seen you the whole time, and her smile when she took you in now made you take another step back.

            “Oh, it’s you,” she said airily.  “So I guess you were telling the truth.”

            “Yeah,” you mumbled, swallowing thickly.  “Guess so.  Yoongi, everything okay?” You said, even though part of you didn’t want to.  But he was just staring at the floor and standing there a little dumbly, not looking like himself.

            “Yeah, Y/N.  I’ll see you later.  Tell Tae I’m sorry, yeah?” he said as the lady led him out of the room.  You leaned against the hallway wall and watched him.

            “Tell him yourself,” you said, and Yoongi looked up at you then, his face looking defeated, and you almost regretted saying anything, coming downstairs at all, but you pushed yourself off the wall and said, “Have a good time,” before going back to your duties as Tae’s nanny.

 

            Yoongi’s body language kept distracting you even after he had left, even after you and Tae were back up stairs by yourselves playing and laughing and having a good time.  The lady’s presence in the house (your house? Yoongi and Tae’s house?) seemed to linger, her expensive perfume sticking to the walls and making you choke.  After Tae went to bed, you scrubbed your skin in the shower and went downstairs to clean the kitchen but still felt weird.  By the time you went to bed, your face hurt from frowning so much.  You shouldn’t have (you didn’t) expected Yoongi to stop using escorts, and it had sounded like he really didn’t want her there, but escorts don’t go door-to-door trying to find a job.  They’re hired, planned, scheduled, a business transaction, which means Yoongi had wanted one tonight, or had wanted one at some point.  And escorts aren’t chosen randomly, unless you really don’t care who you’re placed with, they’re selected, requested, hand-picked, so Yoongi had, at some point, picked out that lady with the raven-black hair and honey voice on purpose to accompany him tonight.  And then he had said to your face that he wished you were going with him.  Groaning, you flopped onto bed and ignored the non-butterflies in your stomach.  You sent a goodnight and good luck text to Jimin, knowing he was too busy studying to bother at the moment, and got under your covers to try to go to bed.  A laugh, high and sweet, kept reverberating around your head, and you finally fell into an uneasily sleep with an image in your head of Yoongi and her sitting at a dinner table, Yoongi leaning close to whisper something in her ear while she laughed effortlessly, a dazzling smile crossing her face as she leaned in closer to him, closer, close enough to—

 

            Somebody was close to you.  Too close to you.  No, not too close, but close enough to make you think it might be too close.  Close enough to make you feel it, and close enough to wake you up.  Your first thought was Tae had had a nightmare, had wet his bed, had gotten cold, had missed his dad, had come to wake you up already, but it was still too dark out, and whoever was there was too quiet to be a needy Tae, and too large, too long, too big to be a little boy.

            “Yoongi?” you mumbled, and the figure pressed against you more.  The more you woke up, the more you registered.  His head, or forehead, seemed to be burrowing into your back between your shoulder blades.  “What’s wrong?  Is Tae okay?”

            “Sleeping,” Yoongi mumbled, and your body felt warmer already knowing Yoongi had checked on him before doing whatever this was he was doing in your bed.

            “Did you have fun?” you tried, not wanting to move and disturb him.  His head, or forehead, shook against your back.

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said then, an arm wrapping around your waist and resting lightly against your shirt covering your stomach.

            “Are you drunk?” you asked, and let his hand stay there when he shook his head again.

            “I’m sorry,” he said as he shifted a little closer, and, deciding this was definitely a conversation to have while facing each other, you turned around, his arm sliding off you as you moved.  By the time you were on your other side, you could see him well enough in the dark to be able to tell that he was still in all his clothes minus his coat and shoes and was curled up a little below and away from you.

            “What for?” you whispered for no reason.

            “I forgot she was coming, I swear.  You.  I honestly forgot.  You have to, I mean, I have to book them weeks in advance.  I scheduled her before I even met you.  I swear.”

            “Yoongi,” you said, “why are you apologizing?”  It’s not that you didn’t want him to apologize.  You felt relieved already, but you also, at the same time, didn’t feel like he needed to apologize to you.  You were just Tae’s nanny.

            “Because I upset you,” he said, and you lay there watching him, his head below your chin but his eyes looking up at you with a sad, pleading look you had never seen on his face before.  “And I don’t want to hurt you.”

            “Is this one of those masculinity things?” you said.  “Feel the need to protect me and all?”

            “Well, yeah, what’s so wrong with that?” he said back, and you smiled down at him.

            “Nothing, Yoongi.  So you sent her home?”

            “Yeah, I didn’t even sit with her.  She knows plenty of people, so she was fine.  It doesn’t matter, anyway, I’m not going to call her, or anyone, again,” Yoongi said, his eyes flickering down to watch himself scoot a little closer to you.  You watched him, too, and watched as his arm hesitantly slid back over your waist, his fingers curled against the small of your back.

            “Why,” you said, reaching forward to play with the end of his tie, “do you, or, did you, use them, anyway?  The escorts, I mean.”

            “I know what you mean,” he said, watching you fiddle with the silky black material.  “I guess, after Kwon, I found myself unable to go anywhere by myself.  Like, Hoseok is the most social person I know, but I even started to annoy him.  I shut myself off a lot, then, which I could say was because I was taking care of Tae, but that’d be a lie.  He had a nanny even then, and I just worked a lot.  So whenever I did have an event or something to go to, I couldn’t face them alone.  And sometimes Hoseok or Namjoon weren’t around.  So, I don’t even remember where the thought came from, if someone gave me the idea or if I just thought of it, but I started to take one to events.  It made everything easier, even if I knew, and most people knew, it was fake.  I know it sounds stupid,” Yoongi muttered, his fingers pressing into your back now, “but it was really, for most of the time, just a company thing.  Just companionship. Sometimes more, but usually just someone trained to know how to keep a conversation flowing and help distract me.  It’s okay.  I don’t need one.  Them, anymore.”

            “Why not?” you said softly, still running your fingers up and down his tie.

            “I think they’re just habit at this point.  A bad habit, but, I don’t need them.”

            “Won’t you miss the company?"

            “There’s better company elsewhere,” he mumbled, his fingers curling and uncurling against your back.

            “So you really woke me up just to say all that?” you teased, and he groaned half-heartedly.

            “I’m sorry, I didn’t really mean to wake you up.”

            “So you were just going to lie here while I slept?  Like a creep?”

            “No,” Yoongi said slowly, his fingers stilling on your back.  “I mean.  I hadn’t really thought about it.  I just wanted to apologize.”

            “I’m just messing with you,” you said, tugging on his tie until he looked up at you.  “You were really mad earlier.  When she showed up.”

            “Yeah,” Yoongi whispered.  “Sorry about that, too.”

            “It’s okay, I had just never seen you mad.”

            “Oh, yeah,” Yoongi said, frowning.  “Have never really seen the point.”

            “Of getting mad?”

            “Yeah,” he shrugged, and you chuckled lightly.  “Was Tae upset?”

            “Yeah.  But I think he knows you weren’t mad at him.  Still.  Should probably check in on him, too.”

            “Yeah,” Yoongi mumbled again, ducking his head again and running his fingers up your back a few inches before sliding them back down.

            “Well, was there anything else you wanted to talk to me about?” you said slowly, and Yoongi hummed as if he was thinking.  When he didn’t respond, you dropped his tie and poked him gently on his shoulder.  “Because if not, I’d like to go back to sleep.”

            “Yeah, sorry.  Could you help me with my tie?”

            “You’re hopeless,” you said, laughing as you sat up.  He followed you, sitting up and lacing his hands and dumping them in his lap and pressing his lips together.  You resisted the urge to laugh at him again but took instead to undoing his tie.  “Did you have to get JaeEun to help with this part, too?” you joked.

            “Oh, yeah, got real steamy sometimes,” Yoongi smirked, but his face went back to concentrating as you pulled the tie out of his collar.  You sat with one of your legs curled under you, the tie in your lap, for a moment before you leaned forward again and undid the buttons holding his collar down.

            “Should’ve done those first,” you muttered.  His top button was already undone, but you slowly undid the one beneath it, the round buttons smooth under your skin and slipping easily through their holes.  With each button a little more of his skin was revealed, and you couldn’t ignore how his breath changed the lower you got.  By the time you pulled the rest of his shirt out of his pants to undo the last two buttons, he was watching you so intensely that you trembled slightly as you reached for his hands to undo his cuffs.  When you finished his second hand, his wrist twisted around to take your hand.  His fingers ran up your palm until they slid in between each of your fingers, wrapping tightly around them, before he pushed on your palm.  You tried to scoot as he did so, but then he pushed harder while raising your hand up past your head as his whole body moved, and you fell back onto your bed with a light puff of air leaving your mouth.  You pressed your lips together when you felt him towering over you, his knees surrounding your hips, his other hand resting on your side.  He was so close, your whole body felt too hot.  His hair hung forward as he hovered over you, his eyes flickering over your face, and you wiggled your fingers grasped in his hand as you tried to steady your breathing.  When he licked his lips and his hand started to move across your stomach, you wiggled slightly and cleared your throat. 

            “Yoongi,” you said, “your pants.”  His whole body froze over you except his eyes that blinked a few times and his chest that moved up and down as he breathed.  Slowly, he peeled his hand out of yours and set back on his heels, resting on the top of his legs.  His hands lay on his own thighs for a moment before he shook his head slightly and moved back, off of you and off of the bed.  Turned away from you, you saw him shrug off his shirt and look around before hanging it over your chair.  As he undid his belt, you turned on your side again and pulled your covers up to your chin.

            “Shit,” Yoongi muttered, and you lifted your head up but put it down quickly without looking over at him.  “Shit, Y/N, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean.  I’ll just—”

            “Yoongi, stop apologizing.  Are you ready for bed now?”   

            “Yeah, yeah, I’ll go,” you heard Yoongi say.

            “Just,” you said, pulling out your arm to pat the space beside you.  “Just lie down, yeah?”  The room became quiet for a moment, and you wondered if he had somehow snuck out or was just standing there, but then you saw him out of the corner of your eye at the edge of your bed, hesitating before lifting the cover and climbing in beside you.

            “Sure tha—?” Yoongi was saying, so you shushed him.

            “Just rub my head and we’ll be even.”

            “Oh,” Yoongi said slowly.  “Oh, you’re asking for it now?”

            “I,” you stuttered before biting your lip, wishing you could take back what you had just said.

            “Yeah, hey, it’s okay, that seems like a good deal.  Come here,” he said, so you did, just a little bit closer, your hands folded in front of both of your chests and lying near one of his arms.  He sighed a little before bringing his right arm to your head, his wrist and forearm occasionally touching your face as his fingers went to work.  You shut your eyes immediately, pleased at the feeling.  “Good?” he hummed, and you mumbled some gibberish response of contentment that seemed to satisfy him.

            “Why do you,” you drew out as you felt your limbs relax, “why don’t you sleep with any clothes on?”

            “Don’t like the feeling.  Prefer feeling soft covers and the like at night.”

            “You could,” you said, letting out a deep breath, “you could get soft pajamas like the rest of us.”

            “Nah, nothing’s soft enough.  You asking me that would be like me asking you why you wear clothes to bed,” Yoongi said, his fingers scratching the back of your head gently a few times.

            “’s decent,” you murmured, and Yoongi laughed softly.

            “Usually people don’t see you when you sleep, so that shouldn’t matter.”

            “You’re seeing me,” you said, and Yoongi hummed before dragging just his fingertips over your scalp, the sensation sending a shiver down your spine.  “Just don’t know how you’re not cold.”

            “I’m not, promise.  I’m really warm, right?” he pulled his fingers out of your hair and cupped your face, his thumb running across your jaw once.  You nodded into his hand, your eyes still closed.  You felt like you were about to drift off, so you wanted his hand back in your hair.  So when it left your face, you smiled dopily, but frowned when you didn’t feel anything in your hair.  Instead, you felt his hand land near your hip.  It’s not where you wanted it, but you weren’t going to whine about it.  You kept breathing deeply and kept your eyes shut, feeling relaxed and warm.  His fingers really weren’t cold, but when the back of his knuckles slid under your shirt and rubbed along your stomach, you twitched anyway, one of your hands instinctively reaching out and grabbing his hand lying near yours.

            “T-ticklish,” you said as he drew his fingers away.  They found their way under your shirt to your back and ran up and down your skin, the light touch making you squirm slightly.

            “Turn around,” Yoongi said, and you blinked your eyes open, feeling a little drugged, and frowned at him.

            “Why?”

            “Wanna cuddle.  Is that okay?” he said simply, watching you.

            “No. No, I mean,” you stuttered when you saw him frown, “I have to sleep on my right side.  So.  So I’m not turning over.”

            “Oh,” Yoongi said, the tip of his tongue sticking out of his mouth for a second.  “Okay, I get it, I can work with that.”  A little confused, you felt his hold on your hand tighten as he started to move.  He sat up partially and threw one leg and one arm over you, pausing for long enough for you to look up and notice how close he was again before he brought his other leg over.  The covers were a little bit in a disarray, so he let go of your hand and brought them back up to your chins before lying down on his side, behind you now.  Without a warning his arm came back under your shirt so his palm could rest against your stomach, and you curled slightly, feeling his knees bump into the back of yours but thankfully not feeling his frozen feet, and then, a little embarrassingly, sighed when his other hand touched your head again.  “Good?” he said again, and you nodded under his palm before closing your eyes again.

            “Why’d you,” you mumbled when his thumb started to brush back and forth over your stomach, “why d’you touch my stomach so much?”

            “It’s soft,” Yoongi said, his breath tickling the back of your neck and making you tilt your head a little.  You hummed as you thought about his answer while his fingers worked effectively at putting you to sleep.

            “’s not my softest part,” you managed to say at some point, and Yoongi’s hands stopped momentarily.

            “Oh?”

            “No,” you said, fumbling around until you grabbed his wrist and pulled his hand out from under your shirt.  “Here,” you said, taking one of his fingers in your hand and guiding it to your ear.

            “Here?” he mused when you withdrew your own hand, leaving his finger to run down the slope of your ear and earlobe.  You hummed again when he did it again and had to bite your lip when he took your earlobe in two fingers and rubbed it back and forth a few times.  “It is very soft,” he whispered, and you curled a little more, slightly overwhelmed at the feeling.  “But I still like your stomach better,” he said, and, after tugging on your lobe one time, he put his hand back under your shirt and pulled a little on your stomach until you could feel his hip behind you.

            “Yoongi,” you said, the heat in your body becoming a little overwhelming.  “Wanna.”

            “Yeah?”

            “Wanna sleep,” you sighed as his fingers raked through your hair again.

            “Sleep then,” Yoongi said.  And if you imagined him pressing a light kiss right behind your ear before you drifted off to sleep, no one would blame you, because he did.

 

Sunday:

            You weren’t one to dream usually, so when you woke up the next morning, while your first thought was that you had dreamed about Yoongi climbing into your bed last night, you quickly dismissed the thought.  Especially since no dream you had ever had had felt as real as Yoongi’s arms tucked under your head and wrapped around your waist.  You knew you were in deep, but not deep enough to forget the possible problems with the situation you had found yourself in.  But you were in deep enough to push aside the desire you had to push Yoongi away.  You knew you were Tae’s nanny, and thus Yoongi was your boss, and you knew that sleeping next to him with his hand up your shirt was not supposed to be happening, but it also felt so right.  Maybe you were in deeper than you had thought.  You decided, as you slowly removed Yoongi’s hand so you could climb out of bed, to try to act as normal as possible in the coming week, to not start any arguments, but also not to initiate things.  And you promised yourself the moment you felt uncomfortable you would tell Yoongi.  You trusted that he would stop if you told him to, so you told yourself to let what happens happen unless it was something that you didn’t want to happen.  It sounded like a solid plan in your mind.  You wouldn’t ignore the problem, but you wouldn’t bring it up again.  It sounded like a perfectly healthy way to deal with everything.

            So, for things to continue as normal, you got Tae up, went to eat breakfast with your dad (and Jungkook), and spent the morning in the barn playing with the dogs and Tae and sculpting animals out of wires.  Overall, it was just going to be a typical Sunday.  And if it ended up not being, then you couldn’t really blame yourself, could you?

Chapter Text

            You could recall three times you had seen your father cry.  Once, at his own dad’s funeral when you were ten.  A year after your mom left when he was holding some tiny blanket and sniffling to himself on his bed.  And the morning three years ago when he had woken up in the hospital after having a heart attack.  He had known you had seen him each time, and each time he made sure to explain to you why he was crying.  He was good at assuring you you had done nothing wrong.  You still couldn’t help like it partially was your fault, at least the time he cried after your mom left.  But he always explained what he was feeling, even if you couldn’t really understand, and there was something about him being so vulnerable and open with you that had always just made you admire him more.  You had heard for years how “abnormal” it was that you and your dad were so close, but, considering you thought the same of any girls you knew being close to their moms, you didn’t pay much attention to people who said such things.  You had never really thought much about his parenting style, or about what made a good dad.  You knew your dad was a good dad.  And you knew Yoongi was trying or had been trying harder since you had arrived.  The thing about parenting, you guessed, is that sometimes you can do your best as a parent and your child could still turn out bad.  Or, you could be a shit parent and your child could still turn out fine.  Obviously, trying to be a good parent first is the better option, but no one really knew how well they had done as a parent until their child was grown up.  That thought was one reason why you wanted to do your best and succeed as a person, whatever that might look like.  You wanted everyone to say that your dad was a good dad.  Because he was.

            It was easy to imagine your life without your mom.  You had been for six years, anyway, and probably for a few years before that even when she still was around.  You couldn’t imagine your life without your dad.  So when your phone rang while you were building Legos with Tae, you ignored it, because that’s what you did to unknown numbers.  And when it buzzed again a few minutes later with a text from an unknown number, you dropped the brick you were holding and stood up even though you felt like falling over.  Your whole world was falling over.

 

Unknown (5:13PM)

its jungkook

dad had heartattack

ick up

            You had, once, when you were still young and stupid, almost sawed your leg off.  An exaggeration, but the saw you were using had slipped, and it had gashed your leg deep enough for a profound amount of blood to spill through your pants and onto the dirt floor, had been deep enough to leave a nasty scar.  Your dad had been in the barn with you when it happened, even though he didn’t know it happened when it did, because you calmly put your saw down on the table and proceeded to take off your pants to wrap around the cut before you made any other noise or said anything.  He had turned around for something else and been as surprised to see you without your pants on as he was to see you bleeding so much.  He told you later he wasn’t really surprised by how calm you had been.  “It’s in your nature, kid.  Plus, adrenaline does wonders for the nerves in the heat of the moment.” 

            So your hands barely shook, and you held your stomach down, and you stood calmly as you called Jungkook.  Still, you pressed your phone to your ear harder than you needed to and gestured at Tae to get up.

            “Tae, buddy, go put your shoes on, please.”

            “Why?”

            “We have to go see my dad, okay?”

            “Okay, but why—”

            “Jungkook?” you said, leaving Tae to go get your own shoes on.

            “Yeah, yeah,” you heard Jungkook in your ear, but he sounded too far away.

            “Is he okay?  Jungkook?”

            “Yeah, yeah,” Jungkook said, his breathing too hard.

            “Where is he?”

            “Ambulance.  We’re in the ambulance,” Jungkook managed.

            “Okay, good,” you said, slipping your shoes on and grabbing a coat.  You turned to yell up the stairs.  “Tae!  Hurry please.”  You heard him mumbling something but ignored him and grabbed your keys.  “Jungkook?  You did good, okay?  Is he.  How is he?”

            “He’s okay,” Jungkook said, and your brain finally processed the sirens, the noises of voices behind him.  “He just fell down, Y/N.  I.  I didn’t know what was wrong.”

            “He’s okay, though?” you said, grabbing Tae’s hand as he came down the stairs and pulling him out of the house, ignoring his complaints.

            “I gave him CPR and called 911.  He’s.  I mean, he’s alive, yeah.”

            “Okay, okay Jungkook,” you said as you locked the door.  “Where are you headed?  What hospital?”

            “Uh, Harris?  The one on Harris street?  I think they said.  I don’t know, I don’t—”

            “It’s okay, yeah, I know it.  I’ll be there.”

            “I’m sorry,” Jungkook mumbled, and as you turned on your truck you registered another noise coming through your phone.

            “Jungkook.  Are you crying?”

            “I’m sorry,” he said again, choking a little.

            “Okay, okay, I’m coming.  Just.  I have to drive.  Do you want to talk to Tae?”

            “Sure,” Jungkook said, and you weren’t really sure if he had heard what you had asked, but you handed your phone to Tae who held it in front of him with both hands.  You finally looked at him and felt a twinge in your heart at how lost he looked.

            “It’s Jungkook.  Will you talk to him while I drive?” you said, already pulling out.  His frown didn’t leave his face, but Tae pressed the phone to his face and said,

            “Hello?  Is this Kookie?  This is Taetae.”

            If you had paid attention, you would have probably cried at how sweet and mature sounded, about how comforting you knew he already was for Jungkook without even meaning to.  But you focused on breathing and driving and making sure you could see your dad as soon as possible.

 

            Tae held your phone in one hand even when Jungkook had hung up and held your other hand tightly when you rushed into the emergency room.  You couldn’t help but wonder for a moment if he had been to the ER before, if he was going to freak out or have a tantrum, if he was going to see something that would scar him for life, and you thought for another moment about how you should let Yoongi know where you both were, but none of that mattered at the moment.  Someone steered you to your dad’s room, and you moved as fast as you could, everything catching up to you too quickly.  When you saw Jungkook pacing in the hallway on the phone, you almost hugged him, but instead you pushed Tae toward him and made eye contact for long enough for him to hopefully get the message.

            “Stay with Jungkook for just a minute, okay, Tae?”  He nodded and went to the boy without any questions, and again, if you had been paying attention, you would have sent up a silent prayer of gratitude for how amazing he was being.  But you entered your dad’s room and almost fell, your legs suddenly limp beneath you.

            “Hey kiddo,” you heard, and you scrambled to his side, almost falling into him in relief, finally crying as you shook.  “Sorry ‘bout that,” he mumbled, but you shook your head back and forth on his chest, hugging him tightly once before getting off of him.  You pulled up a chair and took his hand, looking him over as you sat by his side.  He looked a little pale and gaunt in his cheekbones, and you felt sick.  How long had he looked like that?  Was that just from today?

            “What’d the doctors say?” you finally managed to ask, rubbing warmth back into his hand with both of yours.  His fingers were callused, his knuckles peeling, his grip strong, thankfully.

            “Same ‘ol, same ‘ol.  Just genetics, you know.  And it’ll only get worse with age.”

            “Dad,” you whimpered, but he just patted your hands.

            “I’m young yet.  Don’t worry.  It’s okay.  Jungkook was there.”

            “I should have been there,” you choked, feeling furious.

            “It’s okay.  Jungkook was.”

            “I should have been,” you mumbled again.

            “Y/N.  Be grateful he was, not upset that you weren’t, yeah?”

            “Yeah.  Yeah, dad,” you sighed, rubbing the back of his hand against your cheek.  “I am.  I am glad.  So glad.  Glad you’re alright.”

            “I am, I am.  But I’m tired,” your dad said, and you released his hand, patting his leg and nodding at him.  He would need a lot of rest, a few days’ worth, and you would need to be the one to open the shop, make him food, take care of him.  You would be there this time.

            “Get some rest.  I’ll be here when you wake up.”

            “Alright, kiddo, love you,” he said, smiling his usual smile at you.

            “Love you, dad,” you smiled back.  Your legs still felt weak as you left the room, and you closed the door quietly enough to not gain Jungkook or Tae’s attention.  Tae had found a chair by the boy against the wall and was swinging his legs back and forth, watching people and looking around.  Jungkook was still on the phone.

            “Yeah, okay, mom, I will.  Yes.  I don’t know.  I’ll ask.  I mean.  Are you sure?  Okay.  Okay, no, I won’t.  Yes, promise.  Okay.  Yes.  Alright.  Yeah, love you, too,” he said, sighing as he hung up.  His back was to you, and you saw his shoulders slump.

            “You okay?” you said, and Tae perked up while Jungkook almost jumped at your voice.  Once he had recovered, Jungkook looked oddly at his phone in his hand before shrugging.  You went to Tae, picked him up, sat back down in his seat, and pulled him close to you.  “Hey,” you whispered, using both of your hands to hold his face and press your forehead against his.  “You’re the best, you know?”

            “I know,” Tae whispered back. 

            “Mind giving me a few Tae kisses?  I’m feeling sad.”

            “Why are you sad?” Tae said before you let him go so he could kiss your forehead a couple of times.

            “My dad’s sick.  But he’ll be okay,” you said, smiling at him and then wrapping your arms around him again.  “Thanks, kid.  I feel better already.”

            “Is Jungkookie sad, too?” Tae said, looking over at the boy.

            “I don’t know.  Are you, Jungkook?”  The boy only shrugged again.  “He’ll be alright.  Really.  He had a heart attack a few years ago, too.  I’m just glad you were there.  Glad you know CPR.”

            “Lifeguard,” Jungkook said as an explanation.

            “Ah,” you mumbled, pressing your chin gently onto Tae’s head.  “Is, uh, everything okay with your mom?”

            “Oh, yeah,” Jungkook said, lifting his phone a little before dropping his arm back.  “I just thought she should know.”  You looked at the boy standing awkwardly in the hallway.  He didn’t look like his usual surly self, and he didn’t even really look sad, more concerned and confused.  Conflicted.

            “That you saved my dad’s life, or what?” you said slowly.

            “No, that he had a heart attack.”

            “Why would she need to know that?”

            “Because she.  Look, please don’t be pissed,” Jungkook said, and you covered Tae’s ears up, making the boy squirm to look up at you.  “Mad.  Please don’t be mad.”

            “Look, you just saved my dad’s life, so I promise not to be mad,” you said, confused.

            “I mean, you say that,” Jungkook sighed, staring down the hall for a moment.

            “What is it?” you said softly, lifting your head off of Tae and sitting him near you instead of on your lap so you could see Jungkook better.  The boy looked at you again.  Looked at you for a long time.  Took a deep breath.  Made your stomach twist.

            “She used to be married to your dad.”

            “She.  What?” you blinked.

            “I thought my mom should know because she used to be married to your dad.”

            “She,” you said, everything hitting you too quickly.  You were glad you were sitting down.  You understood what he said, and understood what it meant.  So, naturally, you tried to deny it.  “But my dad’s only been married once.  To my mom.”

            “I know,” Jungkook said slowly.  He just stood there.  And you just sat there.  And Tae looked between the two of you, entirely confused.  Some nurse passed down the hallway.  Some doctor was being paged.  Someone was probably dying in the building.  Someone was probably being born.  You sat up straight and felt goosebumps on your skin under your jacket.

            “Why are you here, Jungkook?”

            “I,” the boy sputtered.  “They.  No, he, my dad, he kicked me out.”

            “Why?” you said too harshly.  “What did you do?”

            “Nothing,” Jungkook said firmly, but he looked away.

            “Why did he kick you out, Jungkook?” you said, and he looked at Tae, so you looked at Tae before looking back at him.  “Something illegal?”

            “No, no, nothing wrong.”

            “Must be, if he kicked you out,” you huffed.

            “I’m gay.  He found out I’m gay,” he said.

            “Oh,” you said, and then you sighed, leaning back against the chair, your head thumping against the wall.  You sighed again, blinking fiercely at the florescent lights above you.  “Did your, my, did your mom,” you almost chocked at the word, at the thought, at everything making a disorienting sort of sense now, “agree with him?

            “No, no, mom’s great,” Jungkook said, shaking his head, but you snorted.

            “Sure,” you said.

            “No, I mean.  I mean, no, she didn’t agree.  She didn’t want me to leave.  But.  I don’t know, she wasn’t going to stop him, either.  And she told me about you, about your dad, and I didn’t have anywhere else to go.”

            “So you’ve been lying this whole time.”  Not a question.  You knew he had been, even if you hadn’t known about what.  You knew he wasn’t twenty-two.  He must be eighteen. 

            “You promised you wouldn’t get pissed,” Jungkook said, his lips pressed together tightly.

            “I’m not.  But how old are you, for real?”

            “Eighteen.”

            “Yeah.  Yeah, why would you try to pass for twenty-two, you idiot?”  Tae looked up at you at that word, his little mouth opened wide.

            “I look old for my age,” Jungkook said, and stood up taller as if to prove his point.

            “No, you don’t.  You literally look like a baby.”

            “I do not.  Have you seen my arms?” he huffed again, and you rolled your eyes.

            “Don’t.  Oh my god.  I can’t believe this,” you groaned.  You started to rub Tae’s back, probably more as a way to calm yourself down than to relieve him, as you and Jungkook stared at each other.

            “So.  Were you ever going to tell us?”

            “Yes, yes, I didn’t mean to keep it from you.  I just, when I got here, and you weren’t there and your dad, wow, he’s, he was so kind,” Jungkook said, and suddenly his voice cracked and his shoulders slumped forward, and he was dragging his arm across his face.  “I know it’s stupid.”

            “It was, yes,” you said, but you said it softly as he cried a little.

            “But I just didn’t say anything.  And then you.  Were so mean,” Jungkook sniffled, but you saw a smile under his arm, so you tsked.

            “I was not.  I was suspicious and rightly so.  And you weren’t exactly the most charming and polite and friendly individual I’ve ever met,” you pouted, and Jungkook laughed, a gargled noise amidst his tears.  He rubbed his eyes with his sleeve before sighing a little and plopping down in a chair next to you.

            “Yeah, I know, I know, I’m the worst.”

            “You are,” you said.  You looked at each other and shared a small, slightly awkward smile before Jungkook stared across the hall and folded his hands in his lap.  You cleared your throat and hugged Tae again.  “You.  You really like my mom?  Your mom?”  Jungkook shrugged.

            “I mean, I didn’t know her until I was twelve.  But yeah, she’s been really supportive.”

            “Must be nice,” you mumbled, trying not to feel jealous or upset.

            “I…”

            “Look, you seem like someone who would fight me if I insult her, so I won’t, but, if you’re really my, god this is weird, if you’re really my half-brother, then she cheated on my dad.  You get that, right?”

            “Yeah,” Jungkook said quietly.

            “When I was a baby,” you said slowly.  “Like she had me and then had you two years later.  That’s.”  You looked down at Tae’s head and hoped everything was going over it.  “That’s really messed up.”

            “I know,” Jungkook said.  “I don’t defend her for doing that.”

            “And she had you and.  Do you realize what she told my dad?  I mean, you can’t hide a pregnancy from someone.”

            “No, I,” Jungkook said, clearly realizing something he had never thought of.

            “She told him she lost the baby, Jungkook.  I wasn’t too little to understand, but for years dad would bring it, or, you, or whatever, up.  We’ve celebrated your birthday by celebrating your death for years.  That’s.  So messed up.  I can’t believe her.  I mean, she.  Who does that?”  You said, too tired to be angry anymore.  Jungkook wilted a little and sniffled.  “Look, look,” you sighed, trying to think of what your dad might say.  “Jungkook, I don’t blame you.  I mean, she left you alone for twelve years.  A brand-new baby.  It really was like she was dead to you.  Shit,” (sorry Tae), “why did she do that?”

            “I don’t know,” Jungkook mumbled, and you sighed, apologizing to Tae and leaning your head back again.

            “Don’t tell my dad yet, please.  Not after this.  Let’s just.  We’ll figure something out.  Maybe after Christmas or New Years.  Or maybe never.”

            “Yeah,” Jungkook muttered.  “maybe never.”

            “No, I don’t really mean that.  He.  Like you said, he’s great.  And even though you’re not his, he’ll love you as if you were his own.  He’d do that.”  He didn’t say anything for a moment, just sat looking at his thumbs, so you unlocked your phone and opened up the piano game you had for Tae.  You made sure the volume was turned down before handing it to him.

            “Are you.  Would that make you mad?” Jungkook said quietly.

            “No,” you said quickly.  “No, but, like, definitely jealous.  I’ll probably hate you a little.  But isn’t that what siblings are supposed to do?”  You noticed Jungkook smile softly, so you did, too.

            “Yeah.”

            “Man.  This is crazy.  What a month,” you sighed.  Jungkook hummed beside you, and Tae did, too, though you were sure he didn’t really know what exactly was going on, and you ruffled his hair.  You should text Yoongi.  You should get everyone some food.  You should pay attention to the person barreling down the hallway yelling your name.

            “Jimin?” you said, standing up.  His response was to run into you, his arms thrown around you, nearly knocking you off your feet.

            “Y/N!  Is he okay?”

            “Dad?  Yeah,” you said, hugging your friend back.  “Why are you here?”

            “Got some text from someone named Jungkook?  Isn’t he that kid working with your dad?”

            “Yeah,” you said slowly, peeling your friend off of you.  “Oh,” you said, noticing how red his eyes were.  “Hey, he’s okay, please don’t cry.”

            “No, I’m not, it’s fine, I mean, I did, but I’m stressed and needed to have a good cry, you know?  It’s okay,” Jimin rambled, holding your arms and shaking his head back and forth.  “He’s really okay?”

            “Yeah, same ‘ol, same ‘ol, as he put it,” you said, smiling.  Jimin nodded again and gave you another hug before letting you go completely.  When he finally looked up he noticed Tae and gave him a wave, but the little boy was busy on his phone, and then he saw Jungkook.

            “Oh,” he said.

            “Hi,” Jungkook said, having also stood up, one of his hands flicking at the wrist in a lame wave.

            “Jimin, this is Jungkook.  My, uh, half-brother.”

            “Nice to—wait, what?” Jimin said, retracting his hand stretched out to Jungkook when he registered what you said.

            “Don’t tell anyone yet, okay?  It’s a long story, I’ll explain later.  Just sit with me, yeah?  Rant to me about school,” you said, taking his elbow and dragging him toward the chairs.  He looked at you stupidly but let you lead him without a word.  When he slumped down into a chair, he looked over at Jungkook once before back to you.  Once you made sure Tae was engrossed enough in his game to not really pay attention, you explained everything to Jimin.  He had always shared your ill will toward your mom, so he was a little hesitant to accept Jungkook, and he kept stealing suspicious glances at him as you told him what was going on.  Jungkook, on the other hand, seemed to accept Jimin right away, if the way he was awkwardly trying not to be noticed as he stared at him was anything to go by.  Apparently, your dad had given him Jimin’s number, told him he was a family friend and someone to contact if he needed anything.  You and Jimin couldn’t be mad about that, and Jungkook seemed pleased to finally put a face, and a body, to the name he had obviously heard a lot about.  If you had been paying more attention, you probably would’ve noticed the way Jungkook was looking at your friend, but you were a little too distracted about processing the fact that you had a brother, a half-brother.  And you should probably update Yoongi.  And find some food for Tae.

            Jimin seemed to have the same idea, because when you were done explaining as best as you could about Jungkook, he stretched his arms over his head (and Jungkook’s eyes flickered down to the sliver of skin exposed above his waist), and suggested he go find you all some food.  Jungkook offered to go with him, and even though Jimin narrowed his eyes at him once, he accepted, so as soon as they left, you let Tae finish the song he was on and texted Yoongi.

 

Me: (7:02PM)

My dad had a heart attack

He’s fine

Tae and I are at the hospital

Would you mind picking him up?

I want to stay here tonight.

 

            You weren’t really surprised when he didn’t text back immediately, so you and Tae walked down a few halls to explore and get a sense of the place before coming back and waiting for food.  You wished you had paid more attention to him, had brought him something else to do, had watched what you said around him, but he still seemed fine, beyond fine, so you sat and made up stories about the people you could see.  When your phone buzzed, you answered it immediately, deciding to always answer your phone, even from unknown numbers, from now on.

            “Y/N?” It was Yoongi’s voice, and you, for some reason, bit back a sob as you nodded, and then remembered you were on the phone.

            “Yeah, yeah, hey.”

            “Hey?  You okay?  I’m headed.  What hospital are you at?”

            “Brigam, on Harris street.”

            “I know it.  Tae alright?”

            “Yeah, yeah,” you said, looking down at Tae looking up at you.  “I’m sorry.”

            “What?  No, hang on, I’ll be there soon.”

 

            The boys arrived before Yoongi did, carrying way too many bags in your opinion, but you couldn’t complain, and you all moved to find a proper table to sit at, another waiting room with less people, and you texted Yoongi the door number before helping the boys unload the food.

            “Didn’t know what you wanted,” Jimin said, handing Tae a hamburger, “so we got burgers and noodles.”

            “It’s great,” you said, because, again, you couldn’t complain, and you all ate in relative silence, your eyes continuing to notice how much Jungkook was looking at Jimin.  Jimin, bless him, made small talk when he could, and always did his best to include Tae in the conversation.  You were almost all done when you heard someone calling for Tae and you, and you both turned to see Yoongi in the door way, a wild look in his eyes that made your stomach swoop.  Tae got out of his chair and ran to him, and Yoongi bent down to pick him up, holding him tightly to his chest with two hands as he walked over to the table.

            “Hi,” he said to the boys, but then he looked at you, and you bit back another cry, holding your lip between your teeth.  “Hey,” he said softer when he was standing over you.  You just sat there, looking up at him, and when he shifted Tae in his arms so he could put a hand on your head and brush his fingers through your hair once, you ducked your head and finally let a sob break out of your mouth.  “Hey,” Yoongi said again, depositing Tae on the table and pulling on your arm.  “Come here.”  You stumbled up and let him pull you into a hug, one of his hands drawing circles on your back, the other rubbing down your head and neck while you tucked your head against his shoulder.  You let him hold you up for a minute or two as you calmed down, his mumbling and reassuring voice soothing even if not comprehensible.  Your arms had just been hanging loosely by your side, but when you were ready to pull away you put them on his hips and pushed yourself off a little.  He let go of you but one hand lingered on your wrist as you straightened up, and you could feel him looking over you.

            “Daddy,” Tae said, snacking again on a now cold French fry.  “Y/N’s really sad, and I gave her kisses earlier, but I guess they didn’t work.”  You could hear more than see his lower lip sticking out, and you wiped your face quickly so you could turn to him.

            “Hey, no, they helped earlier.  I just need some more.  Can you give me some more?” you said, sounding whinier than you should have.  The little boy scrunched his face for a moment in thought before complying, putting his greasy hand on your check and leaning forward to kiss your forehead.  You closed his eyes as he did so and sighed, pulling your arm away from Yoongi to give Tae another hug.  “Thanks, Tae.  I’m all better now.”  He looked a little wary but munched on another French fry without saying anything else.

            “I, uh, brought you some stuff,” Yoongi said behind you, and you turned around to see him holding up a bag, looking a little awkward.  “Don’t hate me.  I just brought you some clothes.  And your toothbrush, and I didn’t know what else you needed, so I just packed some stuff.”  You felt your stomach expand and shrink when you had an overwhelming urge to kiss him, but instead you took the bag from him and whispered a thanks.

            “You’re sure it’s okay if I stay here?”

            “Of course,” Yoongi said.  “Take as long as you need.  Just keep me updated, yeah?”

            “Yeah,” you said, nodding your head.  “Thanks.”

            “Of course.  Of course,” he repeated, running his hand down your arm once before turning to Tae.  “We’d better go now, though, so, Tae, say bye.  We’ll see Y/N in a few days.”

            “Tomorrow?” Tae said, hopping off the table and taking his dad’s hand.  You squatted down and ruffled his hair.

            “Not tomorrow, buddy, I have to stay with my dad.  But in a few days.”

            “But who will play with me?”

            “Your dad will,” you said, volunteering him without a thought, “or maybe Uncle Hobi or Jin will come over.  How’s that sound?”

            “Alright,” Tae said, but he didn’t sound super convinced.  You kissed him on the cheek for that before standing up.  You mouthed a wordless thank you to Yoongi again, who nodded and waved to the boys before leaving.  You watched them walk through the door and slumped back into a chair with a small sigh.  Jungkook and Jimin were looking at you, and they glanced at each other before looking back at you.  You furrowed your brow at them.

            “So, what was that?” Jimin said, and in response you picked up a stray fry and threw it at him.

 

            Even though he insisted on staying, too, Jimin was made to go home as you knew he had a final tomorrow.  Jungkook wanted to stay, too, and you couldn’t really tell him no.  You spent the night in uncomfortable chairs pushed together, whispering far into the night even though there was no point in whispering, trying to find out everything about each other even though there was no rush.  The urgency of the day made you feel like you had to fit years into minutes, and you both stayed up too late talking, but you couldn’t complain.

            The doctors said later the next day that your dad could go home, so you and Jungkook listened attentively to their instructions, the way that Jungkook nodded at everything endearing, and you let him help your dad to the truck.  Jungkook climbed into the bed and promised to hold on tight while simultaneously telling you to not drive like a maniac (“I have never, in my life, driven like a maniac.”  “That’s not what Jimin said.”  “What the heck?  You two were not alone together long enough for that to come up.”  “You’d be surprised.”  “At Jimin telling all my dirty secrets?  No, no, actually, I’m not surprised, just disappointed”).  And though he insisted that he was fine, your dad was not allowed to work.  You and Jungkook put him on the couch in the living room and brought him the paper and went to open up the shop late.  You were glad there weren’t too many customers, because you let Jungkook update you on the business, a smile creeping across your face when you noticed how much he clearly cared, how serious he looked in explaining the accounts, how concerned he was in discussing how sales were going.  You called Yoongi and made sure to send Tae tons of kisses over the phone so he could get his quota of a hundred kisses before bed.  And even though he insisted you should stay as long as you wanted, you told Yoongi you would be back by Wednesday unless anything got worse.

 

            Thankfully, your dad seemed fine.  So after two days, while you were a little reluctant to go back to Yoongi’s, as Jungkook actually wasn’t that bad, and watching him and your dad play video games every night, shouting at each other in exasperation and delight, had been the highlight of each day, you did miss Tae, and the couch at your dad’s couldn’t compare to the (your?) bed at Yoongi’s.  So after going back over everything with Jungkook Wednesday evening (“I know, Y/N, I got it, I know, geez, leave already”) and kissing your dad a million times (“You’re gonna prune my face, kiddo”), you semi-reluctantly and semi-excitedly headed back home (home?).

            The scream that Tae let out and the small smile Yoongi gave you when you walked in the front door almost made you fall over more than Tae body slamming into your knees did, and you laughed as he rubbed his face all over your legs like some cat.

            “Y/N, Y/N, Y/N,” he mumbled over and over again, “I missed you.”

            “I missed you, too, Tae,” you said, swooping him off his feet to place an array of kisses all over him to his great delight.  Once you were satisfied and Tae was a little breathless, you let him down, barely managing to greet Yoongi before Tae was leading you upstairs.  You had a lot of catching up to do, apparently.  Tae didn’t even want to watch a movie that night, so you played for hours after dinner as he updated you about his week.  Uncle Hobi had come over Monday, and Uncle Jinjin Tuesday, and both of them today for a few hours.  He had missed you, but he had clearly had fun while you were gone, and you felt your face hurting after smiling so much at how happy he was.  You were the one reluctant to let him go to bed but tucked him in and gave him a myriad of kisses before wishing him goodnight.  Yoongi had disappeared, so you went downstairs to get ready for bed and clean your room a little.  When you came out to get a glass of water, you stood for a moment and took in the house again.  You looked at the giant Christmas tree in the living room standing near the grand piano.  You felt the tile beneath your floor and noticed a new scratch on one of the counters you would have to ask about.  The air smelled the same, a clean mixture of pine tree and lemon in the kitchen.  And it was early, too early to go to bed, but you were exhausted and glad to be home (home?), but you wanted to see Yoongi more, your stomach churning a little at the admission, so you shuffled through the (your?) house to his office.  You knocked softly and then a little louder, and when you heard him grunt you opened the door.  He looked tired when he turned around in his chair, but he always seemed to look tired, though the smile he sent you was genuine.

            “Hey,” he said softly.

            “Hey,” you said back, and stood at the door for a moment before he ushered you in.

            “Can you give me five?  Just need to get to a stopping point.”

            “Of course,” you said sincerely, making your way to the couch as he turned back around.  He didn’t have his headphones in, so you could hear the repeated sound of drums and bass as he played and replayed a section on his program, his head cocking and tongue poking out as he concentrated.  You had no idea what he was listening for, but you enjoyed watching him work, enjoyed listening to his mouse click and his tongue click as he replayed the section, enjoyed the way he mumbled under his breath to himself.

            “Still sounds too soft,” he said with a sigh before pushing away from his desk and swiveling his chair back toward you.  “Hi.”

            “Hi,” you said again, smiling.

            “How are you?”

            “I’m good.  You?” you said, smiling more at the awkward conversation.

            “I’m so glad you’re back,” he burst out.  “Like, I missed you a lot.  And Tae did, too.”  You blanched a little at how blunt he was being and fiddled with your sweater sleeve.  “Oh, man, he had this tantrum on Tuesday.  I thought I was going to lose my mind.  I had to call Jin to come over.”

            “Was it a noodle tantrum or a hurricane tantrum?”

            “What?” Yoongi said, blinking.

            “A noodle tantrum is when he goes all limp and gets eerily quiet.  Hurricane ones are the flailing and screaming.”

            “Oh, was a hurricane.”

            “Poor thing,” you said, meaning Tae, but Yoongi raised an eyebrow.

            “I know, I really didn’t know what to do.”

            “You should have called me,” you said.

            “I didn’t want to bother you.”

            “Still should have called,” you said, leaning back on the couch.  “So what did you end up doing?”

            “Just sat there as he flailed around until he calmed down.”

            “Yoongi,” you said firmly, but then bit your lip.

            “What?”

            “No, it’s not my place,” you said, shaking your head, but Yoongi leaned forward in his chair and put his arms on his legs.

            “No, no, please.  Tell me.”  You sighed and looked around the room before continuing.

            “Tae is a really emotion kid, and really affectionate.  He needs to know you are physically there with him and for him.  So not touching him during a tantrum is not good.  That’s going to leave him more scared.”

            “But he was just hitting me.”

            “I know, I know, and that’s not good.  His tantrums are tests, though.  That’s what you told me.  And they’re not just testing your authority, they’re testing your love.  People push people away when they’re scared, even though often times what they want more than anything is to be held close.  Tae’s only four, so in no way could he communicate that verbally to you, but that’s what he needs.  That’s why a spanking, at least, I think is going to be best for him.  It’s physical, and thus grounding.  But that’s also why hugs and cuddles afterwards are going to be important.”  You stopped, feeling even more tired suddenly, and licked your lips when you saw Yoongi looking at you.  When he didn’t say anything or look away, you did before sighing again.  “Sorry if that was out of line.”

            “No,” Yoongi finally said.  “No.  That.  You’re just right, as always.  I’m just glad you’re back.”

            “Me too,” you said honestly and couldn’t stop the yawn leaving your mouth.

            “Let’s go to bed,” Yoongi said, and you nodded, suddenly feeling droopy, so you didn’t fight him off when he reached for your hand and pulled you off the couch.  You didn’t pull away as he tugged you down the hall, and you didn’t try to free your hand when he didn’t let go of you at your door but guided you upstairs.  You didn’t even question it, the realization that you wanted it making your stomach unsettled in an exciting but terrifying way, when he took you to his room.  He nodded at his bed once before letting go, and you climbed under the blanket and sheet without any opposition, curling up and getting warm as he got ready for bed.  By the time he joined you, you were already almost asleep, and the moment his hand started to massage your head, you let yourself relax completely.  You missed out on whatever he said, were already asleep by the time his other hand rested on your stomach, but you couldn’t complain.  You hoped you never complained again, were only grateful, grateful, grateful. 

Chapter Text

            On Friday, as promised, Jimin let you know the moment his finals were over with a few slightly exaggerative texts.

 

Jimin (3:02PM)

I HAVE ESCAPED HELL

I kinda wanna die tbh

but first i must drimk

maybe that’ll kill me

Namjoon’s at 8

Bring your boss

And your new brother

 

            You had been Jimin’s DD enough in high school and his first couple of years of college to know what kind of drunk he was.  There was no one drink with Jimin.  Jimin didn’t consider a night of drinking successful if he got tipsy, he had to get drunk.  And, the year he had come out and all his friends (“friends”) had promptly dumped him, he seemed to only consider a successful night one in which you had to pry him off of someone’s face or lap, so you really weren’t exactly sure what to expect.  You hoped being at Namjoon’s would ground him a little.  And while the semester had been rough as always, it overall had been good, so you were pretty sure Jimin just wanted to celebrate, not drink away some sorrows or try to get over someone.  Whatever the case, you told him you’d be there and went to tell Yoongi, who apparently had known about it for hours because Namjoon had already warned him.

            “You don’t have to go, you know,” you said, standing in his office doorway while Tae was still napping.

            “Oh, no, I want to go.  Chill evenings with a few friends are fine.  I’m sure it won’t get crazy,” he said from his chair.  You narrowed your eyes at him and then smirked.

            “You clearly don’t know Jimin very well.”  Yoongi blinked and then cocked an eyebrow.

            “Should I be concerned?”

            “Definitely,” you said, “and afraid.  He has surprisingly strong fists.  Also, Jungkook is coming, and who knows what that will look like.”  Yoongi hummed, resting his chin on his palm while thinking.  “Would you be okay with taking Tae to my dad’s to watch him?  We can pick Jungkook up then.”

            “Are you sure he’s up to it?”

            “Yeah, he’s fine.  He’s offered before to watch him.”

            “Yeah, but isn’t he still recovering?”

            “He’s fine,” you said again.  “If I treat him any differently, he’ll get upset.  I mean, unless you’re worried about him having another heart attack and dying in front of Tae and thus scaring him for life, he’ll be fine.”

            “Well, I wasn’t worried about that,” Yoongi said, snorting before stretching his fingers.  “Okay, if you say it’s fine, it’s fine.  Let’s leave around seven, yeah?  Can you come get me for dinner?  If I’m going to drink…”

            “Of course,” you said, smiling.  “Want me to drive, too, or?”

            “Of course not.  I’ll call JaeEun.  You should just relax and have fun with your friend.”  You nodded, but Yoongi was already turning back around in his chair to finish his work, and you left him alone to go wake up Tae and tell him the plan.

 

            You weren’t really sure if “relaxed” was the word you would use to describe how you were feeling on the way to drop Tae off.  Not only would it be his first time away from you or his dad or one of his “uncles” in a long time, but you were going to hang out and possibly drink with your newly discovered brother, your best friend who was notorious for Revealing Things, his celebrity crush that had recently become his best friend? tutor? real life crush?, and your also famous boss who you were, what, having feelings for?  It all sounded like a mess waiting to happen even without alcohol in the equation.

            You weren’t actually worried about Tae.  He was bouncing with energy when you pulled up to your dad’s.  The biggest problem would be getting him to sleep on time in somewhere that wasn’t his own house, but your dad, the best dad in the world, had already started building a pillow and blanket fort in the living room that he insisted Tae help him finish.  Yoongi looked impressed at the effort, too, and Tae barely said goodbye before he was climbing over and under and around the fort, talking to your dad about edits that should be made. 

            “That was easier than I expected,” you said to Yoongi as you both went back out to the car with Jungkook in tow.  He agreed, and you all piled into the back seat, you sitting between Yoongi and Jungkook.  The boy looked nervous and kept biting his bottom lip or pulling down his beanie or checking if his earrings were still in or messing with the rips in his pants or scrolling through his phone and did not engage in any conversation during the drive.  You kept looking at Yoongi and raising your eyebrows as if to say “See?”  Yoongi did not understand, of course, as he hadn’t seen the way Jungkook looked at Jimin, so you vowed to watch your new brother closely throughout the night to see if his nerves could be explained by being around Jimin.

 

            Namjoon’s place, while significantly smaller than Yoongi’s house as merely (“merely”) a penthouse apartment, seemed more lived-in than you had expected.  He also didn’t have a lot of personal decorations in the place, but the Christmas tree in the living room and the food spread on the table and the stack of books on the coffee table and end table (one stack very obviously Jimin’s) made it seem like a warm home.  Jimin opening the door was really all the confirmation you needed that he had been spending a lot of time here (plus his zero hesitation when grabbing anything from the kitchen), and the slight tint on his cheeks was all the confirmation you needed to know they had already started drinking.  Hoseok and Jin were already there, too, both sprawled out on the floor, half lying on each other (“If you’re going to take up that much room, get off the couch”), and both raised their glasses in greeting as the three of you came in.  Jungkook stiffened behind you the moment the door closed, and you took some pity on him, blaming yourself for not having properly prepared him for what he was walking into.  Not that you could have known how to prepare him.  You took his elbow gently and guided him toward the living room.

            “Everyone, this is Jungkook, my half-brother.  Jungkook, this is Namjoon, Jin, and Hoseok,” you said, pointing everyone out.  Jungkook, a little too stiffly, bowed slightly at his waist, which was hilarious to the two on the floor.  Jin clapped his hands once and laughed loudly.

            “He’s adorable.  But you never mentioned having a brother?”

            “It’s a whole story,” you said, waving him off, “maybe after a few drinks.”

            “Ah, we’ll corrupt you yet,” Jin said, hopping up to help serve drinks even though Jimin was already working on it.  Yoongi made himself at home by flopping down next to Namjoon, already talking about some track or lyric.  Once everyone had a drink, you sat next to him and watched Jungkook struggle to decide where to sit.  Jimin, already positioned in a giant chair that made him look somehow even smaller, patted the wide arm and called him over.  You nudged Yoongi who looked at you before following your eyes to watch Jungkook sit as close to the edge as he could with his back as straight as it could go.  You had to stop looking, though, when Namjoon cleared his throat and raised his glass.

            “To another successful semester for Jimin.”

            “And thank god we don’t have to mess with any of that shit,” Hoseok added.

            “Lucky bastards,” Jimin grumbled before drowning his drink.  Jungkook watched him throw his head back and swallowed before taking a sip of his drink.

            “Should we really let him drink?” you whispered to Yoongi.  “He’s just a baby.”

            “He’s eighteen.”

            “A baby,” you said, nodding as you sipped your drink slowly.

            “If he’s a baby, so are you,” Yoongi whispered.

            “What?  I am not,” you huffed.

            “Just because you’re twenty?”

            “Yeah,” you said, crossing your arms.  Yoongi only hummed and went back to talking to Namjoon.  You kept your arms folded over your chest and listened to the various conversations going on while not making a ton of effort to be engaged in any of them.  Over the course of the night you listened and watched and, by the time the night was over, had made several observations.  First, Jimin was practically living at Namjoon’s.  The books and his ease maneuvering around the kitchen had been pretty good indicators, but when you asked him to show you the bathroom, you held him back in the hallway to get the truth out of him, so he showed you the guest room that was slowly becoming his own.

            “He already gave me a key and everything,” Jimin explained as you looked around.  His posture, which others might read as shy, was one of anxiety when you looked at him.  He wasn’t afraid, but nervous about messing something up.  It was a look you knew well.

            “So, are you dating or what?” you said, pressing your lips together.

            “Oh, no, Namjoon’s straight,” Jimin said, revealing the second observation of the evening.  “Which was slightly disappointing, but, I mean,” he said, looking around the room again and shrugging.  “He’s just really, really nice.”

            “And letting you stay here for free?”  You had no reason not to trust Namjoon, but the situation sounded odd to you.

            “Yeah.  He.  I mean, I still have my dorm, but he wants me to move in here as soon as possible.  As a roommate.  He’s.  He’s really lonely, Y/N,” your friend said softly, staring at his shoes.

            “It’s just.  Moving quickly?” you said, trying to tread carefully.

            “I know, but sometimes you just know, right?”

            “As long as you’re happy and safe and everything is clear,” you said, squeezing his arm.  He smiled up at you and then laughed.

            “He likes when I cook for him.  He can’t cook at all.  I don’t know how he’s survived so long on his own, honestly.  And I know it’s a little weird, him offering to pay for stuff, but, yeah, I’m happy.  Did I mention he’s really nice?”

            “You might have,” you laughed, smiling back at him.

            “Okay, then go pee, I’m going to check out your brother,” he said, winking and making you roll your eyes.

 

            Jimin had once, when you had asked him about his “type,” looked more serious than you had ever seen him before, sitting across from you at some coffee shop, your homework all but forgotten on the table in front of you.

            “I think,” he had finally said, “that it isn’t so much about looks, but about character.  If he’s passionate about something, or talented, then that’s hot.  Also, if he’s smart or at least well-rounded enough to have an intelligent conversation.  I don’t want to date a stump.  And he’s got to pamper me.  You know I’m good at taking care of people, but I’d want it at least returned.  If he’s cold and aloof, then I’m too good for him.”  He had paused, chewing on his lip, before he continued. 

            “Muscles don’t hurt, though.  And he needs to be taller than me.”  You had laughed and called him shallow, even though you both knew he was slightly kidding about the last part.  When you got back to the living room, you watched him resting his arms and head on Jungkook’s legs, as if they had replaced the arm’s chair Jungkook was still sitting on, and started to check off all of the qualities you knew Jungkook had that would attract Jimin.  He had a lot going for him, but the “cold and aloof” part and how painfully awkward he was acting might be a turn off for your friend.  Jungkook was still a little stiff, maybe too afraid to move and lose Jimin touching him, and you did a round of refills for everyone while trying not to stare at him too much.  When you sat back by Yoongi, he turned toward you as Namjoon talked to Jimin, his arm sliding around your shoulders on the back of the couch as he took a glass from you.

            “Hey,” he said, smiling.

            “Hey,” you smiled back before whispering, “did you know Jimin was practically living here?”

            “Yeah, Namjoon asked me about it a couple of weeks ago.”

            “And you didn’t think to talk to me about it?”

            “I didn’t know you were Jimin’s mom,” Yoongi said, smirking.  You swatted at his knee playfully before leaning your head back on his arm.

            “It’s just.  Namjoon’s straight?”  Yoongi nodded.  “And Jimin is definitely not.  And has been crushing on Namjoon for years.  I guess, I just don’t want him to expect something and then get disappointed.”

            “What, you think Jimin hopes he can turn Namjoon gay for him?” Yoongi said, biting back a smile.  You looked over at your friend, his eyes squinted shut as he laughed and slapped Jungkook’s leg at something Namjoon had said.

            “I wouldn’t put it past him, is all I’m saying.  I just don’t want him to get hurt.”

            “Namjoon won’t hurt him,” Yoongi said slowly and seriously.

            “Intentionally, I know.  I’m just concerned.”

            “You care,” Yoongi said softly, his fingers picking something off of your shoulder.  You turned your head toward him as he did, his hand staying on your shoulder, his thumb rubbing back and forth on your neck near your collarbone, and simply nodded.  He smiled sweetly at you, but then his eyes drifted past you toward the pile on the floor and rolled his eyes.  Turning to follow his gaze, you almost gasped at the sight of Hoseok and Jin.  Your third observation, though you had already suspected it, was that the pair had no shame, and Yoongi and Namjoon were very used to their antics. 

            “Yah!” Yoongi said, kicking at them but missing on purpose.

            “Not on my floor,” Namjoon said dryly, not even looking away from Jimin.  Hoseok had climbed into Jin’s lap and, not stopping his attack on the older boy’s face, flipped off his friends before slipping his hand under Jin’s sweater and running his hand up his chest.  You watched as Jin gasped slightly, his head tilting back and away from Hoseok before he put his hand on his boyfriend’s hip and groaned, and you whipped your head back to look at Yoongi.

            “They’re not going to—” you said, and Yoongi shook his head, laughing.

            “We can’t go one night without Hoseok grinding on him or Jin attacking his neck, so, we usually just let them get it out of their system and carry on,” he said, and you tried to laugh and ignore the sounds (“You are such a prude.”  “I am not a prude, Jimin!  I just don’t need to see people making out while I’m trying to drink my coffee, okay?”  “Prude”).  When you looked at Jungkook, his eyes were wide and glued to the two on the floor, and you tried even harder not to laugh, wondering how overwhelmed he was feeling now.

            “I think they might be scaring Jungkook,” you whispered, leaning into Yoongi.  His arm left your shoulder as he turned around, placing his hand on your knee as he looked at your brother.

            “Yikes,” he said.  “I forgot other people aren’t used to those two.  Maybe.  Oh, I know,” he said, patting your knee once before groaning as he stood up.  You watched as he continued to make himself at home by turning on some stereo and plugging his phone up.  The second the music started, a little too loud at first, Hoseok lifted his head from Jin and Jimin pulled away from Jungkook.  They both made some noise of surprise and excitement and proceeded to stand up.  After Hoseok did some odd quick step while jumping around toward Jimin, which made your friend double over in laughter, he put his hand down to Jin to pull him up all while the older boy was complaining and making some excuse about not wanting to dance.  Still, the moment he was up he proceeded to flail and dance around Hoseok, which only made him and everyone else laugh.  Jimin had fallen all the way to the floor, and Yoongi stepped over him to sit next to you, a triumphant grin on his face.

            “Like moths to a flame,” he said, picking up his drink.  His trick helped you observe a few more things.  You knew that Jimin and Hoseok could dance.  You also knew that Jin really couldn’t, though his enthusiasm made up for his skill.  Furthermore, you knew Yoongi and Namjoon would much prefer to sit and watch than get up.  What you didn’t know was that Jungkook could dance.  As soon as Jimin recovered from laughing, he got up and pulled Jungkook up without even asking.  Your brother looked startled for the hundredth time that night and didn’t really move as Jimin held his wrist and threw one of his arms over his shoulder.  He didn’t even move when Jimin smiled up at him and started to sway in front of him.  He remained still when Jimin bit his own lip and stepped closer to him, putting both of his hands on Jungkook’s hips.  He didn’t move when Jimin’s knees hit his.  He was, you could imagine, about to get on Jimin’s nerves.  Your friend wasn’t exactly used to such a less-than-enthusiastic-reaction, and you knew he was either about to give up or try something drastic (“Go big or go home, Y/N!” “That doesn’t exactly sound healthy, Jimin”).  Jimin moved his hands again, and you thought, as he took one step back, that he was giving up, but he looked right at Jungkook’s face as he pulled on the collar of Jungkook’s coat.  The kid hadn’t even taken it off when everyone else had.  It was black like every article of clothing he was wearing, apart from his burgundy beanie, and Jimin used it to pull Jungkook closer.  The poor kid, finally moving, almost stumbled, his arms spreading out to steady himself, and you saw him swallow.  Jimin looked up at him again before slowly pushing the jacket off of Jungkook’s shoulders and all the way down his arms.  He let go when he got to Jungkook’s wrists, and the jacket fell to the floor behind him.

            “Are you seeing this?” you whispered, nudging Yoongi beside you.  He hummed and scooted closer to you.

            “Should I be, though?”

            “I don’t care, shh,” you said, swatting his thigh gently.  He probably smirked at you, but you were too busy watching Jimin and Jungkook.  Your friend was reaching for Jungkook’s beanie, and the younger boy moved, just slightly, to tilt his head away a little, but Jimin’s hand followed him until he successfully grabbed the hat and peeled it off of Jungkook’s head.  Jungkook shook his head immediately, his hair falling a little into his eyes.  Jimin dropped the beanie to the floor and reached back up to Jungkook’s hair, but that’s when Jungkook moved.  His hand whipped up to grab Jimin’s wrist, and Jimin staggered a little backwards in surprise, but Jungkook followed after him, grabbing his waist and putting Jimin’s hand on his.  Your friend recovered quickly, and you could see him smile as he took the initiative to start moving, and Jungkook moved with him.  And now that Jungkook was moving, he didn’t seem to stop moving the rest of the night.  His eyes went from wide and shocked to fierce and serious as he danced with Jimin.  At one point, when Jungkook slipped his leg in between Jimin’s and pressed his hand onto Jimin’s lower back to pull him closer, you saw your friend swallow and falter slightly, and, for the first time since you had known him, you realized he might have bit off more than he could chew.  Jungkook was relentless, and while Jimin had always seemed to flow gracefully when he danced, Jungkook had a sharp edge to his moves that kept surprising Jimin, his eyes continually flickering down and then back up at Jungkook’s face.  And the more they danced, the more Jimin’s smile faded until he was biting his lip and the more Jungkook’s smile grew.  Even after Hoseok and Jin had slumped, exhausted, on the couch beside you and Yoongi, Jimin and Jungkook were still pulling and pushing each other across the floor, seemingly lost in their own world.

            “Should I turn off the music?” Yoongi said, his voice close to your ear.  You shook your head and turned toward him, pulling your leg up to the couch and letting your knee rest on his leg.

            “No, leave them be.  Unless they start grinding each other or going for the neck, they’ll be fine,” you said.  Yoongi smiled, and for a moment, it was just that, you and Yoongi smiling at each other, your hands making their way toward each other, but Yoongi’s stopped at your knee and squeezed it a little, his eyes flickering away before he cleared his throat.

            “So, uh, don’t look now, but—”  You looked.  You looked immediately, and you cursed under your breath when you saw Jungkook mouthing at Jimin’s neck, your friend’s hands gripped tightly to his arms as he stared up at the ceiling.

            “Dear god,” you mumbled, “okay, shut it down,” you said, practically pushing Yoongi off the couch.  He laughed as he stumbled to the stereo, and even when the music shut off it took Jungkook and Jimin a moment to realize what had happened.  They both froze at the same time and looked at each other, but as soon as Jimin tried to pull away, Jungkook rolled his eyes and dragged him back to his (their) chair and proceeded to make him sit in his lap, his arm around his waist.  If you weren’t afraid of his wrath, you would have laughed at how flushed Jimin was.

            “Your brother’s got moves,” Hoseok said beside you.

            “Yeah, who knew,” you mumbled, staring into your glass.  It seemed like a good time to go home, so you stood up and went over to where Yoongi was in the kitchen.  “Hey, can we go soon?”

            “Yeah, you okay?” he said, putting down the glass he had just poured.

            “Besides being scarred by what I have witnessed here tonight?  Yeah, totally.  Just don’t want to leave Tae at my dad’s for too long.”  Yoongi smiled at that and came around to pull you into a hug.  You stiffened a little at first, your mind poking fun at you of another similarity between you and Jungkook, before you let your arms wrap around him, too.  “What was that for?” you asked when he pulled away, one of his hands still holding onto your hip.

            “Just really like that you care about him,” Yoongi shrugged.  Pressing your lips together, you nodded and looked over at Jungkook who was staring at Jimin in his lap.

            “Hey, Jimin,” you said, and your friend turned around enough to look at you.  “Think Jungkook could stay here tonight?  Yoongi and I are headed out.”

            “S-sure, if he wants,” Jimin said, looking back at your brother.  Jungkook only looked at you and then back at Jimin, thereby answering your question.

            “Cool, thanks,” you said, before you and Yoongi said goodbye to everyone.  Hoseok and Jin barely waved goodbye, busy with each other again now that the couch was all theirs, and Namjoon walked you to the door.  “Sure it’s okay if he stays?” you said to him while you and Yoongi pulled on your coats.

            “Of course,” Namjoon said.  “I can drive him home tomorrow.”

            “Thanks, Namjoon,” you said, stuffing your hands in your pockets.  “Seriously.  For everything.  Jimin seems really happy.”

            “Now that finals are over, yeah.  I’m glad.  Was real tired of seeing him cry,” Namjoon sighed, and for a moment you thought he meant he was annoyed with Jimin crying, but the look in his eye told you he only meant he didn’t want to see Jimin hurting, so you smiled warmly at him before thanking him again.

            Even though you didn’t have to, you sat in the middle seat next to Yoongi, and he cocked an eyebrow at you before putting his hand on your knee.  The ride back was quiet as Yoongi fell asleep, and you left him in the car when you went into your dad’s house to get Tae.  Your dad barely roused from where he was sleeping in his chair, so you fixed his blanket before climbing into the fort he and Tae had made.  Tae was sleeping soundly, his mouth barely opened as he breathed deeply, and you felt bad for disturbing him.  Thankfully he didn’t really wake as you picked him up, just mumbled and shuffled in your arms.  He slept all the way back home, as did Yoongi, and only when JaeEun pulled into the driveway did you nudge Yoongi awake.  He looked extremely disoriented, but he smiled sleepily when he saw you and Tae and helped open and close every door.  Grateful again for what a heavy sleeper Tae was, you had managed to tuck him in his own bed without him waking up once and had finished kissing his forehead when you felt Yoongi hug you from behind.  Grunting softly in surprised as you stood up, you put your hands on his and tried to turn your head to see him, but the top of his head pressed into your back as he mumbled,

            “Sleep with me tonight?”

            “Yeah, okay,” you whispered, because you had no reason to say no, and you turned awkwardly around, him still clinging to your back, and walked slowly to his room.  You planned to drop him off and go change before coming back, but he finally loosened his hold on you only to grab your hand and lead you toward his dresser.

            “Clothes,” he said, opening up a drawer.

            “Yoongi, I’ll just go downstairs and—”

            “Wear mine,” he mumbled, dropping your hand into the drawer.

            “Yoongi, it will only take a second,” you said.

            “Please?” he said, watching you expectantly.  You realized he was nervous, and your brow furrowed.

            “Is this one of those masculinity things?”

            “Maybe,” he said, one corner of his mouth rising.  You hummed suspiciously before pushing him gently toward his bathroom.  As soon as he turned away you rifled through the drawer to find a pair of sweats, and, deciding to leave your sweater on, you peeled off your shoes and your jeans and unclasped your bra.  The sweats were a little too big, but the elastic would keep them up, so you folded the clothes you had taken off neatly before knocking on Yoongi’s bathroom door.  He opened it, a toothbrush in his mouth, and looked you up and down once.

            “I need to go brush my teeth,” you almost whined, and he took the one out of his mouth and offered it to you.  “Gross,” you said, pushing it away.  He grinned and waved you inside, rummaging around in a drawer before pulling out a new one.  “Oh, do you keep these around for all the ladies?”

            “More because I use a new one every month,” he said after spitting and rinsing his mouth out.

            “That’s often,” you said, almost sighing at how refreshing your mouth felt now.

            “It’s a weird OCD thing,” Yoongi shrugged before yawning again.  “’K, hurry up.”

            “Rude,” you said, pretending to kick him as you shut the door.  Still, you did hurry to pee and use one of his soaps to wash your face with before leaving the bathroom.  You tried not to smile when you saw Yoongi already half-asleep, and you couldn’t resist smiling, even if you felt like an idiot who should know better, when his hand flopped onto your head and his fingers moved lazily over your scalp.

            “’m tired,” he muttered, and his hands quickly stopped moving.  You were wide awake, though, so you wiggled and then turned all the way around to face him.  One of his eyes opened and looked at you curiously as he pulled his arm back toward himself.

            “What do you like?” you said, staring up at his nose and resisting the urge to run your finger down it.

            “What do you mean?”

            “You know my weakness, and I don’t know yours,” you muttered.  Yoongi blinked at you before smiling.

            “My feet.”

            “What?”

            “My frozen appendages.  I love sticking them in between girl’s legs.”

            “Are you.  You’re joking,” you said, and Yoongi’s eye opened again while he smirked.  “That’s gross,” you huffed, poking his stomach.  He flinched at your touch and closed his eye again.

            “Hmm, I like making other people feel good.”

            “Okay,” you said slowly, watching his mouth open partially as he breathed.  “Then get back to it,” you continued, reaching for his hand.  He pulled it away before you could grab it, though, and you fished around behind his back for it while he held it out of reach.

            “I’m tired,” he said as you started to climb over him.  He huffed as your knee hit his stomach and your other hand pressed down his shoulder.  “Ow, okay, ow.”  Content only when you managed to grab his hand, you scooted away, hearing him wince, and turned back around, pressing your back against him and plopping his hand on your head.  He laughed through his nose, the air hitting your head.

            “Make me feel good,” you said, and his hand left your head and flew to your side where he lifted up your shirt so quickly you couldn’t react until after he proceeded to pinch you.  “Ow!  The fuck!” you yelled, elbowing him in his chest, causing him to cough as he rolled away and then start laughing.

            “I’m going to have so many bruises tomorrow,” he said, and you rubbed your side before pulling your shirt down, scowling even if he couldn’t see your face.

            “Is that your thing?  Bruises?”

            “What?  No, not at all.  That’s.  No,” he said, his voice calming down and rumbling through his throat again.  He rolled back over until you felt him pull your hair away from your neck.  “Are you going to behave now?”

            “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” you whispered, but you shivered and stilled when his nose hit the back of your neck.

            “If you behave, I’ll tell you.”

            “Tell me what?” you said, distracted again, already, by his finger running down the curve of your ear.

            “My weakness.”

            “Oh yeah,” you breathed, and you willed yourself to be very still, even when his hand disappeared for a moment that turned into a minute.  Even when you were afraid he had fallen asleep.  Even when he surprised you by slinking his hand under your shirt again and started caressing your stomach.  You really wanted to tease him about that, but you bit your lip.  You stayed still even when you felt his lips ghosting over the nape of your neck for an agonizingly long time.  When his hand rubbed the skin he had pinched earlier, you clenched your jaw, and involuntarily kicked your leg back into his shin when he toyed with the elastic on your (his) sweats.

            “Sorry,” you mumbled, but he only chuckled against your neck and smoothed your shirt down before wrapping his arm around you, pulling you even closer.  He still didn’t say anything, though, and you didn’t want him to fall asleep yet, so you reached for his hand that was half-tucked under you with both of your hands and started to rub over each of his knuckles and run your fingers over the edges of his nails.  Yoongi sighed contently, and you felt him press a slow and lingering kiss to your neck.

            “Like that,” he mumbled, and you smiled, lacing your fingers together.

            “Yeah?  Hand stuff.”

            “Hand stuff,” he huffed, squeezing your fingers.

            “That’s simple,” you whispered, and Yoongi sighed again.

            “’m a simple man,” he said.  You really didn’t think that he was, in some ways, but if all it took for him to fall asleep before you was you rubbing your fingers up and down the back of his hand while his fingers interlaced with yours, then that was simple enough for you to understand.

Chapter Text

            Admittingly, waking up sweating with a four-year-old lying on top of you and cutting off circulation to your leg wasn’t your favorite way to wake up, but Tae’s breathless excitement about how he must have teleported into his bed last night because the last thing he remembered was being in the awesome fort he made at your dad’s made up for the temporary pain.

            Waking up to a slew of texts from your best friend was also not your favorite morning activity, especially when most of them involved your new-found brother, but you did have fun reimagining the events of last night as you read each message.

 

Jimin (12:14AM)

So I may uh really like your brother

 

Jimin (12:16AM)

Is that weird?

Needyou rok

 

Jimin (12:22AM)

Like our blessing

Yor

Don’t want tot weird youout

 

Jimin (12:31AM)

Like what if he

And i

Is tht ok?

 

Jimin (12:42AM)

OMG E COUDLB E RELATED

 

Jimin (12:43AM)

SISTER

 

Jimin (12:44AM)

Hey

Hey

y/N

please

hello

 

Jimin (2:19AM)

So I may uh have kissed him

 

Jimin (2:20AM)

Please don’t hate me

I’m hidin gin the bathroom

I miss you

 

Jimin (2:24AM)

Ok

I got this

 

Jimin (5:13AM)

So I may uh be in love

He woke me up bc it was snowing

Snowing Y/N

 

Jimin (5:14AM)

Look at this  

*Image Attached*

 

Jimin (5:15AM)

Let me marry him, yeah?

In the morning

 

            Jimin was an idiot, but you smiled anyway.  You didn’t know Jungkook well enough to know how he might be reacting, but you told Jimin to come to your dad’s house for breakfast Sunday to update you.

 

            In high school, Jimin had come over often after school to do homework.  He rarely ate with you, something that didn’t go unnoticed.  He hardly ate lunch at school, either, something you always noticed.  You never pressed it much, but when he started to invite himself over for meals once college started, you had thought it a little suspicious.  He and his parents hadn’t had an awful relationship, but moving out had let him be freer than ever before and thus more like himself.  Money had always been hard to come by, though, so while he wanted to eat more, he simultaneously didn’t have much money to spend on food.  Your dad never minded.  He actually preferred an extra body at the table, and he looked elated to have so many people over for breakfast on Sunday.  You and Tae had come, obviously, and Jimin had shown up, but even Yoongi was there (“I’d like to see how your dad is doing.  And see what’s up with Jimin and Jungkook.”  “Wow, so you’re into gossip?” “I work in the music industry, Y/N, half of what we do is gossip.” “That sounds depressing.”  “You have no idea”).  You were a little worried that things might be awkward, what with your dad still not knowing about Jungkook and Jungkook being so stiff around Jimin not forty-eight hours ago, so you weren’t very surprised when he was quiet and didn’t say much throughout the meal.  And you were used to Jimin being talkative and touchy among friends and strangers, so it wasn’t really weird to see him whispering into Jungkook’s ear or half-sitting on his seat, but seeing your best friend and your brother together was still so new, still stranger than you were expecting.  You couldn’t even explain why it made you uneasy.  But you kept staring across the table at them, even though Jungkook’s head was tilted down too much to really notice, and Jimin’s attention was too stuck on Jungkook to care, but Yoongi nudged you and leaned over to whisper,

            “Stop staring,” at some point, so you shook your head and tried to talk to your dad about how business was going.  After breakfast, you stayed to clean up the kitchen with Jimin while Jungkook took the boys to the living room to play some video game.  You both had a propensity to hum whenever things got too quiet, and you let Jimin lowly sing some tune you didn’t recognize for a few dishes before finally asking.

            “So,” you said, but Jimin almost dropped the plate he was washing to turn to you, his wet hand grabbing your sleeve.

            “Please don’t be mad,” he said, and you stilled, seeing his eyes waver.

            “What?  No, Jimin, I’m not mad.”

            “It’s just, I sent all those texts, and you invited me over, and I was afraid you wanted to talk.”

            “Well, I do,” you said slowly, taking his hand in yours.  “But I’m not mad.”           

            “You sure?  Even though he’s your brother?”          

            “Jimin, you probably already know more about him than I do.  I don’t care.  At all.  But I don’t really know him, and you don’t either, so you know I’m just going to say that I don’t want you to get hurt.”

            “I know,” Jimin said, pulling you in for a hug.  “But you just know with some people, you know?  I just knew with Namjoon.  And I can just tell with Jungkook.  You know?”  You really didn’t.  You tended to just distrust people while Jimin seemed to know as soon as he met someone whether they would be good or bad for him and to him.  He had rarely been wrong, that much you knew, so you nodded as he pulled away.

            “As long as you’re happy,” you said, and Jimin smiled so wide his eyes shut.

            “I am.  He was, like, so shy and then he just wasn’t.  But now he is again?  But when we’re alone he isn’t?  Does that seem like him?”

            “Again, I don’t really know him,” you said, laughing softly at how intense Jimin’s face look, “but he is shy.  Or just reserved.  Maybe a bit closed off?  He came here under false pretenses, after all, and because he got kicked out.  That has to be bothering him.  He’s probably a bit vulnerable right now.”

            “Oh, yeah, we talked about that,” Jimin nodded, talking fast, “and it’s not like I mind.  I’m used to talking more, as you know.  I just want him to be comfortable, and we talked about that some, too.  He just seems pretty inexperienced, but not opposed to much.  He’s never had a boyfriend, he said, so, oh, it was so cute, when we were making out, he kept stopping and asking if he was doing okay.  It was so cute,” Jimin smiled, and you clamped your hand on his shoulder.

            “I’m going to ask you to stop now, okay?”

            “You’re no fun,” Jimin fake-pouted.  “Besides, I’d let you talk about Yoongi if you wanted to.”

            “Why would I need to talk about Yoongi?” you said, and Jimin blinked at you before rolling his eyes and pushing your hand off his shoulder.

            “I know you were too busy watching me and Jungkook the other night, but I kept noticing him looking at you.  You two seem close, that’s all.”

            “Well, we do live in the same house.  And I see him every day.  And I take care of his kid,” you shrugged.

            “And?”

            “And what?”

            “There’s an ‘and’ there,” Jimin said, wiggling his eyebrows.  You smacked his arm lightly.

            “And?  And we’ve slept together a few times,” you mumbled.

            “You what?” Jimin screamed.  You both whipped your heads around toward the living room.  Jungkook, your dad, and Yoongi had all turned to see what was wrong, so you and Jimin waved them off, and then you grabbed Jimin’s wrist and hissed at him.

            “Not like that, geez.  Just sleeping.”

            “Holy shit,” Jimin muttered, wrenching his arm away from your grasp.  “You can’t say things like that.  Why are you sleeping together?”

            “I don’t know,” you said, crossing your arms.  “It just happened.”

            “And happened again?”

            “Yeah,” you shrugged.

            “Y/N,” Jimin said, and you frowned at him.  “Everyone knows sleeping is more intimate than sex.”

            “It is not,” you huffed, but Jimin crossed his arms and stared at you.

            “It is.  Why do you think most one-night stands aren’t there when you wake up?  It’s easier to have sex with someone than to be close to them.”

            “That literally makes no sense,” you sighed, but you looked over at the back of Yoongi’s head.

            “Have you?” Jimin tried, and you shook your head.

            “He’s my boss,” you mumbled, and Jimin poked your arm to get your attention.

            “Y/N, you probably already know more about him than I do.  I don’t care.  But I don’t really know him, so you know I’m just going to say that I don’t want you to get hurt,” Jimin smiled as he parroted your words, and his point wasn’t lost on you.  Still, you sighed and hugged yourself tighter as you shrugged.  “I just want you to be happy, too.”   

            “I know.  I am.  Really.  It’ll be fine,” you said, and Jimin hummed before hugging you again.  As he held onto your side, he whispered,

            “So, I think Jungkook really likes my ass,” and you flailed to get away from him so you could run to your dad.  Jimin was an idiot, but maybe you were one, too.

 

            Tae’s birthday, you learned, was only a few days after Christmas, and he was about to turn five.  So, one day while he was napping, you made a plan to talk to Yoongi about how he usually handled presents and so many celebrations so close together, but Yoongi beat you to it, asking you on Wednesday if you could talk that afternoon.  Even though you had been planning on it, something about him initiating a meeting made you nervous.  He was, after all, still your boss.  So, after you put Tae down for a nap, you pulled on the sleeves of your sweater excessively before knocking and entering Yoongi’s office before he could even say enter, heading for the couch without even acknowledging him.

            “Hey,” he said without turning around from his computer.  “Tae go down alright?”

            “Yep, how’s the track coming?”

            “It’s alright,” Yoongi said, clicking a few more things on the screen before swiveling around.  “Okay, so, I have a request.”

            “Oh,” you said, your mind already racing at the possibilities, “okay, shoot.”

            “So, again, before you,” Yoongi waved his hands in front of him.

            “What?  Magically appeared?” you suggested.

            “Yeah, before you showed up, like, three months ago, I was looking into kindergartens for Tae.  He’ll be five in a few weeks, so he won’t really start until next year, but there are a bunch of programs for pre-school.  Like he could go two or three days a week for a few hours, or even every day for the morning.  I was thinking exposure to other kids would be good for him.  He’s really sociable, you know?  I can’t relate,” Yoongi grinned, “but I know he needs that.  And I’m not really worried about him being behind or anything, because even if he is, whatever that means, he’s smart and he’ll catch up.”  You nodded, following along but still waiting for the request.  “So I managed to get this meeting at Stepping Stones.”  You lifted your eyebrows even though you had no idea what that meant, and Yoongi seemed to know.  “It’s, like, the best in town.  Anyway, it’s just pre-school, or kindergarten.  I mean, how many different ways are there to teach the kid the alphabet and to not, I don’t know, bite other kids?  But it’s close and has the kind of hours I was looking at.  So the meeting is Friday, and I was hoping you would go with us.”

            “Go with you and Tae to the school?”

            “Yeah, to meet the principal.  There’s a whole interview process.  I guess to make sure Tae isn’t rabid or something.”  You laughed at that and relaxed.  If that’s all he was asking, you would happily comply.

            “I guess I’ll give him his rabies shot beforehand, then,” you said.  “Yeah, I can go, no problem.”

            “Thanks,” Yoongi said, leaning back in his chair and twisting back and forth slightly.

            “No problem.  It is my job.”

            “I know.  Still,” Yoongi said.  You nodded and pressed your lips together before asking what you wanted to now that his question was out of the way.

            “I wanted to ask about Tae’s birthday, actually.  I was just wondering what you usually do, since it’s so close to Christmas.”

            “Oh, shoot, yeah,” Yoongi said, rubbing his hands up and down his thighs.  “So, I don’t know if this will work when he’s older, but we go all out at Christmas.  Kid loves Christmas.  On his birthday we always have cake, but no presents.  We do presents on his half birthday, in June.  He loves summer, so we usually do something outside.  Last year we went to a pool.  Maybe that will confuse him when he’s older, but it’s not like he complains about it now.”

            “That makes sense, actually,” you said.  “I had wondered about how many presents to get him.”

            “He does not need a lot of presents,” Yoongi said seriously.

            “Oh, I know, I’m in his playroom every day,” you said playfully.

            “I’m getting better at saying no, I swear,” Yoongi mumbled.

            “Understandable,” you said, standing up.  “Tae does have some more Christmas shopping to finish that we didn’t get to last week.  Would you have time to take us after the interview on Friday, or?”

            “Oh, that sounds good,” Yoongi said, standing up, too.  “We can get lunch and then go out.  I imagine it will be crazy already, but I can’t put it off much longer.”

            “Sounds like a good plan,” you said, nodding.  Yoongi nodded, too, and then floofed the back of his hair awkwardly.  “Good luck with your track,” you said, ducking past him.  He mumbled some form of thanks before you left, his hand coming up too late to catch you.

 

            You were stressed.  How did people wear slacks everyday and function in them?  You could barely squat down in them.  But this interview sounded important.  The flower-patterned blouse you had on was billowy but still not what you were used to, so you tugged on the sleeves one more time before sighing and throwing on your coat.

            “Okay, sorry, I’m ready,” you said, walking to the kitchen.  Tae was scratching at his neck, the gray turtle neck he had on not exactly his favorite sweater.  His tan coat matched his dad’s, and you had an overwhelming desire to take a picture of them.  In fact, Yoongi had on a turtleneck, too, but it was black, and they both had on black pants.  You laughed immediately when you noticed this, because you had dressed Tae before Yoongi had even come downstairs.  “Should Tae change?” you said, throwing a finger between the two of him, but Yoongi shook his head over his coffee cup.

            “We look cute,” he said, and you laughed again, not disagreeing, and put your hand out to Tae while grabing his giraffe off the counter.

            “Ready?”  Tae hopped off his stool to take your hand, but he tugged on his coat, clearly a little uncomfortable.  “Hey, do you want to change?”

            “No,” he said, but you squatted down (stupid slacks) anyway and lifted his face to look at you.

            “What’s wrong?”

            “Feel funny,” he said.  You glanced at Yoongi quickly and then back at Tae.

            “Sick funny?”  Tae shook his head.  “Sleepy funny?”  Another head shake.  “Scared funny?  Are you nervous?” A little nod.  “Hey, can I tell you a secret?” Another nod, and wide, welcoming eyes looking at you.  “I’m nervous, too.  And that’s okay.  Your dad and I will be there.  You just be you.  You’re smart and super nice and funny.  You’re going to wow the socks off of them.  And if they don’t like you, we’ll take their socks.”  Tae giggled and then frowned at you.

            “We can’t take their socks.”

            “No, of course not.  What was I thinking?  Here, take Gilin, yeah?”  Tae nodded and took his giraffe and your hand.  Yoongi had that smile on his face that always made your stomach flip as he watched you, so you shuffled Tae out of the door quickly.

 

            You really didn’t know much about preschools or kindergartens, so you really didn’t know if you were supposed to be impressed by the outside of Stepping Stones.  They had a pretty sweet looking playground, but it was too cold to really test it, so you just took one of Tae’s hands while Yoongi took the other one.  Tae seemed to have calmed down on the way over, and Yoongi looked completely calm, so you tried to follow suit even if you were totally out of your comfort zone.  You weren’t sure if it helped or made you more jittery when Yoongi opened the door for the both of you and whispered to you before you went in,

            “You look cute, too.”  It definitely made you more nervous, for sure.  Yoongi, collected as ever, soon found the office with such ease that you wondered if he had been here before, and the next thing you knew you were being welcomed into an office in front of a very intimidating lady and her desk, shaking her hand before sitting down.  Maybe it was a little selfish, but you pulled Tae into your lap so he could partially hide you.  The interview was about him, after all.  You didn’t really expect to be asked any questions, but the first thing the lady said made you think you might have to involve yourself more than you had anticipated.

            “So, Mr. and Mrs. Min,” she said as she sat down, and you and Yoongi both stuttered, but you recovered quicker.

            “Oh, I’m Tae’s nanny.”

            “Oh, I am sorry.  I just saw your first name here.  My apologies.”

            “It’s fine,” you said, settling back after glancing at Yoongi again.

            “And I take it your name is Tae?” the lady said, indicating to the boy in your lap.

            “Taehyung,” he said, sitting up straight, “but people call me Tae.”

            “I see,” she said, smiling.  “And how old are you, Tae?”

            “I’m four,” he said, holding onto his giraffe tightly in his lap.  The lady noticed and pointed at it.

            “And who’s this?”

            “Gilin,” he said, holding him closer.  “He’s my giraffe.”

            “He is indeed,” the lady smiled.  “Do you know how to spell giraffe?”  You felt Tae shift on your lap a little, and you patted his leg.

            “I can spell my name,” Tae said, and when the lady raised her eyebrows, he continued, “T-a-e.  Can write it, too.”

            “Oh, do you want to show me?” the lady said, and Tae looked at his dad who only nodded.  You patted his leg again and he hopped off of your lap to reach over the lady’s desk.  There was a small table in between your and Yoongi’s chairs, so Tae took the pen and paper he was given and rested his elbows on it, his knees hovering in the air like he did sometimes.  You couldn’t imagine that the position was comfortable, but it seemed to be for him, so you watched over his shoulder as he held the pen wrong but still managed to scrawl his name in English and Korean.  He even drew a heart with a smiley face in it before taking it back to the lady.  He crawled back into your lap as she took it.

            “Oh, this is very good.  And what’s this?” she said, pointing to his name written in Hangul.

            “My name,” he said simply.

            “He’s learning Korean,” Yoongi explained. 

            “That is impressive,” the lady said, her eyebrows raised high.  “Is he fluent?”

            “Not at all, he’s only four,” Yoongi said, and you were glad your face was mainly hidden behind Tae, because Yoongi’s comment made you fight back a laugh.  “But he can hold a conversation very well in Korean.  Do you know any?”

            “I’m afraid I don’t,” the lady said politely, and Yoongi turned to Tae who looked at his dad.

            “Tae, why don’t you introduce yourself in Korean, tell us how old you are, and, let’s see, tell us your favorite food.”  Tae smiled and nodded, fully capable of such a request.

            “Hello, my name is Tae.  I am four-years-old.  My favorite thing to eat is strawberries!  Can we have some today, dad?”

            “Maybe,” Yoongi said, giving him a smile.  “Good job.

            “I take it, as Tae’s nanny, you spend the majority of time with him, Miss?” the lady said, and you perked up, realizing she was talking to you.

            “Oh, Y/L/N.  He does.  I’m a live-in nanny.  Yoo-Mr. Min works from home, so he’s always around, but Tae spends the majority of time with me.”

            “Does Tae get to play with other children his age?”

            “Not often, honestly.  But when he has, he gets along with everyone and makes friends quickly, right, Tae?” you said, wanting to include him instead of just being talked about.  Tae nodded.

            “The other day, Minho wanted to go down the slide, so I waited for him before we went to the tubes.”

            “That’s right, you did,” you said, remembering vaguely the name of one of the kids at the mall Tae had becoming “best friends” with in the span of twenty minutes.

            “How long have you been Tae’s nanny?”

            “Almost a month,” you said, licking your lips.

            “Tae’s never really been around many kids,” Yoongi stepped in.  “But he has around adults.  I’ve always thought it best for kids to learn from adults how to behave and speak.  I mean, a four-year-old can’t learn from another four-year-old, not really.  They don’t know how to communicate or share or act, which is why they need adults to show them.  Tae’s very capable for his age at communicating, though, and he is one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet.”

            “That’s an interesting way to think about it,” the lady said, but the way she said it made you think “interesting” wasn’t really the word she wanted to say.  “We here at Stepping Stones believe children need to learn to interact with other children.”

            “I agree, and never said otherwise,” Yoongi said, and you wished he was sitting closer to you so you could more subtly get his attention.  You weren’t sure what it is about this lady that was making him so clearly on edge.  Sure, you were intimidated by her pressed suit and big desk and how young and successful she seemed to be, but Yoongi certainly didn’t have any reason you could think of for being so abrasive with her.

            “Are there,” you decided to ask, looking away from Yoongi has he glanced at you to look at the principal, “kids here today?  Maybe Tae could go play with them while you two finish talking?”  A part of you knew that was already in the plan.  She would need to see how Tae interacted with other kids before accepting him to her school, after all, and she smiled politely at your attempt to dissolve whatever strange tension was in the air.

            “Would you like that, Tae?” she said sweetly, and of course Tae nodded.  You let her lead the way, then, and Tae followed after her while you trailed behind with Yoongi, making an attempt to look in each classroom as you walked, but finding yourself too distracted by the man beside you.  He seemed unable to take his eyes off of Tae, and as you seemed to be approaching the room Tae would go into, you got close enough to Yoongi to find his hand at the end of his coat sleeve.  Your fingers lightly squeezing his got his attention, and you tried to smile reassuringly at him before letting go, but as soon as he looked at you, his hand fingers tightened around yours and didn’t let go.

            “This is Mrs. William’s class,” the principal was saying, and you both stood in the doorway looking around the room.  Again, you weren’t really sure what to look for that would make this school better than any others.  There were cubbies and tiny tables and bookshelves and some sort of class pet in a glass aquarium and art work hung on the wall made from hand and thumb prints and a poster with names and stickers on it and a teacher and children.  The teacher wasn’t screaming or hitting anyone, and the kids were busy talking amongst themselves while they colored.  It looked normal and safe, but it wasn’t like rainbows were shining through the windows.  “Would you like to go color, Tae?” the lady was saying, and when he looked up to you and Yoongi for affirmation, you both nodded.  He was still holding his giraffe, and you thought for a moment of taking it from him, but he was old enough to make his own decisions.  You itched to walk with him to find an empty chair, too, to listen closely to make sure no one made fun of him, but you just held Yoongi’s hand tighter and watched as the teacher approached him and made sure he soon had supplies.  You really had nothing to worry about, but you still watched him as Yoongi and the principal talked about something.  Tae put Gilin down on the table gently as he pulled out his chair to sit down.  He looked attentively at the teacher as she told them what they were doing.  He said something to the boy sitting beside him, and he smiled when the kid handed him a crayon.  He was soon scribbling away and smiling.  You had nothing to worry about.

            “What do you think, Y/N?” Yoongi was saying as he tugged gently on your hand, and you raised your eyebrows, looking over at him, not missing the way the principal’s eyes noticed your joined hands.

            “Sorry?”

            “Twice or three times a week?”

            “Oh, well,” you said slowly, trying to read Yoongi’s mind as he looked at you.  What had he said he preferred?  Why was he asking you, anyway?  “I think Tae would benefit best from the three half days.  He’d still spend the majority of his time at home that way, but he could have more socializing.  Do you ever have people start at three days and then switch to two days?” you said toward the lady.  She nodded, her eyes returning to your faces.

            “We do sometimes, yes.  It just depends on if another class has room.”

            “Or,” you suggested, “he doesn’t switch classes, just only comes Monday and Wednesday or Monday and Friday, for instance.”

            “Usually we don’t recommend,” the lady began, but you smiled to cut her off.

            “We would still pay the full amount.  Besides, I’m not saying that’s what we would do, but we need to know the options,” you said, and the lady didn’t seem to miss how many times you said “we.”  You hadn’t missed it, either, and you almost tried to turn away in embarrassment, but Yoongi’s thumb was rubbing back and forth on your wrist, so you stood still.  The principal hummed and said something else to Yoongi, but you chose to tune her out again to look around the room and watch Tae.  He was holding Gilin and talking to the boy next to him, and when he looked up to point at you and his dad, he noticed you watching and waved cutely, so you waved back.  He turned back to the boy for a second before handing him his giraffe and scooting out of his chair to come over to you.  You squatted down, not letting go of Yoongi’s hand, cursing your pant’s tightness, when he got close.

            “Hey, you okay?” you said, taking his hand when he was close enough.  He nodded and smiled brightly.

            “Ace said he was really sad today, so I let him hold Gilin for a bit.  I think he needs some kisses to cheer up, but I thought I shouldn’t do that.  Is that right?”

            “That’s right, buddy,” you said, kissing his hand in yours softly, “he needs his mommy or daddy to do that for him.  But you were very sweet to let him hold Gilin.  I’m sure that made him very happy.  Maybe you could give him your drawing, too?  You need to get Gilin back so we can leave in a bit, okay?”

            “Can we come back again later?” Tae said, cocking his head.

            “Do you want to?”  Tae shrugged and looked around the room, noticing the principal and his dad looking down at him.

            “Ace is really nice, and he said they have story time every day, plus snacks.  He’s four like me, even though I’m almost five.  Can he come over to play some day?”

            “Maybe buddy,” you smiled, trying not to laugh at how much he had learned in such a short amount of time.  “Go say bye for now, though, okay?  We’re going to get lunch and do some shopping.”  The mention of food and shopping seemed to do the trick, and he left you quickly to approach his new friend.  The three of you watched him quietly for a moment before the principal turned toward you both again.

            “Ace barely even talks to his teacher, let alone new people.”

            “Tae’s great like that,” you decided to say, smiling as she nodded quietly at you.  When Tae came back, his giraffe in hand and a smile on his face, you took his hand and positioned him in front of you. 

            “It was very nice to meet you,” the principal said, bending down a little to shake Tae’s hand before turning to you and Yoongi to do the same.  “You’ll sure to hear from us in a few days about the decision.”

            “Thank you for your time,” Yoongi said, and you nudged Tae’s shoulder.

            “Thank you very much,” he said on cue, and you tried not to smile too widely in pride.  You couldn’t hold it back too much, though, and nodded at the lady as you all turned to leave.  Once you were in the hall, you expected Yoongi to let go, but he pulled you all the way to the car, opened the door for Tae, and then stood there for a moment, just standing and looking at you.

            “You okay?” you whispered, trying to see past his intense stare. 

            “I really didn’t like that,” he whispered back, his grip on your hand strong.

            “I was getting that impression,” you said, pressing your lips together.  “Why?”

            “I didn’t like the way she spoke to you.  And what kid is fluent in a second language at four?”  You chuckled softly.

            “I don’t think she really meant that.  She probably meant fluent for a four-year-old.”

            “She wouldn’t even know.”

            “Okay,” you said, not sure what to say.  Yoongi, though, clearly had more to say.

            “Did you notice her looking at us?”

            “Yeah.”

            “I didn’t like that,” Yoongi said firmly, looking down at where your hands were hiding under your coat sleeves.

            “Well, she knows I’m the nanny, so, I mean, it’s a little cliché, isn’t it?”

            “What?”

            “The dad and the nanny,” you said, trying to tease, but Yoongi was frowning at you.

            “You’re not just Tae’s nanny,” he said, and you nodded slowly.

            “It’s okay,” you said, shivering suddenly.  Yoongi’s face immediately shifted as he let go of your hand to wrap his arms around you.  His warmth surrounded you in a familiar and comforting way, and you turned your head to rest on his chest so you could still breathe in his hold.

            “Do you think I messed it up for Tae?”

            “What?  No.  I’m sure she’s heard worse.  She has to be used to defensive parents.”

            “Did I sound crazy?  I feel a little crazy,” Yoongi mumbled into your hair.

            “You sounded a little petty, honestly, and abrasive, but not crazy.  Why do you feel crazy?”  Yoongi didn’t answer for a minute, just moved his hands up and down your back a few times.

            “I know I don’t have the right, considering I’m not around much, but I’m used to knowing Tae is there if I want to see him.  And I knew it had to happen at some point, but—”

            “Hey,” you said, moving your arms and pushing away from him so you could look up at him.  You couldn’t quite read his expression, as it wasn’t one you had seen before, but you understood now what was bothering him.  “You’re his dad.  You have the right, more than anyone else, to miss him and not want him to grow up.  You don’t just have the right, you have the responsibility to protect him.  If that lady doesn’t accept Tae because you were a little hot-headed, just a little,” you said, poking his side and enjoying watching him flinch slightly, “then she doesn’t deserve him.  Like you said, surely another school would be just as good at teaching him not to hit people or sing nursery rhymes.”

            “Yeah, okay,” Yoongi said, smiling at you.

            “Daddy, can we go now?” Tae called from inside the car, flopping down dramatically all the way across the seat.

            “Yeah, sure,” Yoongi said, smiling again down at you before pressing your hand on your back to guide you into the car.

            You suppose you should have seen it coming, after what he had told you the other night, but holding his hand at the school seemed to translate to an invitation to hold your hand the rest of the day, because Yoongi grabbed your fingers the moment you got to the mall and barely let go of them the rest of the day.

 

            That night, as you got ready for bed, your fingers kept tingling, and your stomach rocked at the thought of how much you had enjoyed the day eating and shopping and just being with Yoongi and Tae.  It seemed stupid.  But there you were, standing in your pajamas in your room just looking at your fingers, already missing Yoongi’s next to yours.  You could close your eyes and feel them running through your hair.  You could feel them tentatively touching your skin under your shirt.  And you groaned as you flopped down on your bed, because you weren’t sure when it had become a habit to sleep next to Yoongi, because you thought it took months to develop a new habit, but nothing else could explain why you felt so wrong lying there by yourself.  Your stomach churned as you rolled over on your side and curled up into yourself, thinking about what Jimin had said.  You were happy.  You didn’t want to get hurt.  You knew there was something missing.  That you and Yoongi needed to talk about what you were, if you weren’t just Tae’s nanny, but your stomach seemed ready to abandon your body at the mere mention of actually discussing what was going on.  Yoongi had said once that you had impressed him, because despite your age, you were mature.  You didn’t feel mature, though, rolling around and sighing on your bed.  You wanted to know what else you were if not Tae’s nanny, but you didn’t want to just go ask Yoongi.  That sounded so easy it sounded ridiculous.  Maybe you wanted to just enjoy it while it lasted and have fun and sleep next to someone who made you feel safe.  Surely no one would get hurt that way.  You groaned again and picked up your phone, wondering if Jimin would have any advice or would just rub it in your face (“I told you so!”) when it buzzed so suddenly you almost dropped it.

            “Speak of the devil,” you said when you saw who had texted you.

 

Jimin (10:14PM)

Namjoon got us matching jackets 

*Image Attached*

 

You (10:16PM)

That’s so cute it’s gross

Please stop sending these things to me

 

Jimin (10:17PM)

Whatever, that picture of Tae and Yoongi matching today almost made me barf

He’s so cute

 

You (10:18PM)

Who?

 

Jimin (10:18PM)

;)

 

You (10:18PM)

The Worst

 

Jimin (10:19PM)

Best

 

Jimin (10:21PM)

Is Yoongi a couple’s outfit kind of guy?

 

You (10:22PM)

Night, The Worst

 

Jimin (10:22PM)

( ˘ ³˘)♥

 

You didn’t know.  You didn’t know if Yoongi had ever matched with Kwon or if he ever had with a girlfriend or if he wanted to with you.  You weren’t a couple.  You had some relationship that you couldn’t label, and it was stupid that you even were thinking about it all.  It was stupid that you lay awake staring at the ceiling, wondering what he was doing, wondering if he was going to come get you or go to sleep on his own.  He hadn’t for days, but you felt greedy expecting him to find you before he went to bed.  You felt stupid for wanting to go and find him.  You weren’t nothing to him, but you weren’t anything, either, and that unknown made your stomach tighten and go limp all at the same time.  It would be simply to just go and ask him (“What are we?  What am I to you?  Is this?  Are we?  Should I?”), but you were stupid. 

            So you tossed your phone onto your bed and got up, and you went slowly upstairs, your toes sinking into the carpet on each step and lingering for long enough for you to take a breath.  It was stupid, standing in his doorway for a second before saying anything, quietly watching him sit half under his covers with his phone in both of his hands.  Stupid, the way your stomach flipped when he saw you and smiled and patted the bed.  Stupid, when you didn’t say anything, just climbed in bed next to him and faced away from him in your now usual spot.  Stupid, when you couldn’t help but sigh when he finally put his phone down and pulled you close to him.  Stupid, when you wrapped your fingers around his and believed nothing needed to be talked about. 

            You had known for years that Jimin was an idiot, an idiot in love with Namjoon.  He got all dopey-eyed and slack mouthed and looked like a deer caught in the headlights and stuttered like a buffoon and blushed and rambled and was overall just a complete mess.  He clearly was in love, even if that wasn’t the right term, with Jungkook already, what with the way he looked at him and the endearing smile he had on his face and how he rambled and blushed and talked about him and touched him.  It all came so quickly and easily to Jimin.  You knew you didn’t ever react the same way he did when you were infatuated with anyone, and perhaps that’s what had been confusing you so much.  Your stomach had been warning you since the day you first met Yoongi, had known before you did where all of this was headed.  Your body had followed after it, knew what it liked and let him touch you like no one else ever had without it feeling coerced or wrong or uncomfortable.  Your mind was the only thing trying to catch up, to keep up, to make sense of everything you were feeling.  Jimin may be an idiot, but if he was, then you were, too, you realized, lying there in the dark with Yoongi so close you could feel his heartbeat and hear him breathing and smell the mixture of his shampoo with lingering cologne. 

            You were so stupid.  So stupid.  An idiot.  A complete idiot.  An idiot in love with Min Yoongi.

Chapter Text

            Wait.

            In love?

            Surely not.

            Christmas was getting to you.  The magic of the snow falling outside, the huddling for warmth in the evenings, the way Tae made you laugh until your face hurt, the looks that Yoongi stole throughout the days, the way his fingers fit so well with yours, the comfortable silence as you fell asleep together.  It was a season of love and family and giving, and it was all getting to you.  That’s all that was happening.  Once Christmas and winter were over, you would surely naturally drift apart, your skin too warm and sticky to cling so closely together.  There’d be no reason to whisper about what to buy Tae or get your friends or about plans for New Years.  After Christmas, after New Years, there would be no reason for Yoongi to look at you anymore.  Surely.

            “I don’t know, I think I like the other one better,” he was mumbling, and you tried to turn around in front of the mirror again to look.

            “This one is ridiculously low,” you mused, noticing Yoongi’s gaze in the mirror.  Considering how he kept looking at the one spot where the dress finally reconnected on your back dangerously low, you thought he would like this dress better, but you shrugged and closed the curtain again to put the other one back on.  It felt a little odd only being out with Yoongi, Tae insisting he needed to shop alone, which had actually resulted in Jimin (and thereby Jungkook) volunteering to take him around.  It was the first time you had been out in public alone with Yoongi, and you missed Tae’s distraction.  Yoongi had no one else to look at, and you didn’t, either, and it had all been a bit much already, so when Yoongi suggested (offered? insisted? asked nicely?) you find a dress for New Years, you agreed because you weren’t about to pass up on free clothes.  But you were starting to regret agreeing, though, because you weren’t sure how much longer your stomach could handle Yoongi looking at you and holding your hand as you walked from store to store and pointing out things he thought you might like and asking you questions about your dad and laughing when you told him stories about funny things Tae had done the day before.  It was all a bit much.  So you huffed as you got the dress back on and almost whined when you couldn’t get the zipper all the way up.  Sighing, you slumped your shoulders and opened the curtain, anyway.  He had already seen it once.

            “I look like I could be in Tron,” you said, still pouting a little.  Yoongi chuckled softly from his seat.

            “It is very shiny.”  He twirled his finger around and raised his eyebrows expectantly, which made you sigh but start to spin.

            “This is degrading.”

            “Wait,” Yoongi said, as your back was turned toward him, and you looked over your shoulder as he got up and walked quickly to you.

            “I’m not some piece of meat to be paraded around,” you started, but Yoongi tugged on the zipper and effectively shut you up when his hand went past the zipper at the top of your neck and his fingers wrapped around your skin.

            “I just want to see,” he said, applying enough pressure to keep your head turned away from him as he stood behind you.  “If I was dressing up a man in a suit, I’d want him to turn around and show me every angle.  I want to see what I’m buying.”

            “Sounds like you’re buying me.”

            “That’s not—you know I’m not.”

            “And what do you mean, if you were dressing up a man?”

            “Why as you so difficult?” he sighed, his other hand skimming over your hip and down your thigh to the edge of the dress.

            “So it’s not some masculinity thing?”

            “Why do you always ask that?”

            “I don’t know,” you swallowed.  “Defense mechanism, probably.”

            “What are you so afraid of?” Yoongi said, his thumb on your neck moving up and down over your tiny hairs as he ran his fingers under the hem of the dress for a second before tugging on it.  You didn’t answer, though, partially because you weren’t sure what to say, partially because you were afraid to answer him, and partially because his hands were really distracting you.  The one on your leg came back up to your hip to hold you for a moment, and while you couldn’t see him, you could imagine the way he was looking at you, your stomach burning at the thought of it.  His hand on your side moved slowly, a little closer to your stomach, a little higher, until it sunk down into the pocket of the dress.  You could feel Yoongi’s fingers curling against your thigh and hitching on your underwear.  “This dress has pockets,” Yoongi said, his voice surprisingly calm considering how fast your heart was beating, “so I thought you would like it best.”

            “I,” you said, but you faltered as he withdrew both of his hands and stepped away from you.  You stood still and blinked for a moment as you heard him sit back down.

            “Besides, your ass looks better in it,” he said, and that’s when you turned to look at him, his legs crossed, his hands connected around his knee, a smirk evident on his face.  You mumbled something and went to change, but you let him buy you the dress.  Besides, in a few months he would have no reason to buy you anything more, so it was only smart to let him treat you now.  Right?

 

            The week leading up to Christmas, Tae became a cute but incoherent mess.  He was normally such a good kid, that you should have known it could only last so long.  He suddenly refused to go to sleep on time anymore.  Bath time and watching a movie were still fine, but he never wanted to go to sleep.  And if he wasn’t someone who actually liked his nap time during the day, you would have tried not having him nap anymore to see if he would go to sleep faster.  The saddest and worst part of all was that he wasn’t trying to be disobedient or a problem.  He was just too excited.  You did stop letting him have water an hour before bed, though, in an attempt to prevent any bed wetting.  Plus, besides Monday and Wednesday before Christmas, Yoongi was around more.  He did less work, spent more time with you and Tae, and let you have a couple of days to just go and visit your dad and relax elsewhere, and Tae was eating all of the attention up.  And while Tae bounced around and ran around and talked louder than ever, your worry about him overexerting himself or wearing himself out or having a tantrum subsided the more you saw him with his dad.  The anxiety you felt melted away into something you couldn’t explain, and you were surely not in love with Min Yoongi, but for some reason you wanted to kiss him every time you saw him tickling Tae or putting a piece of meat on his plate or smiling fondly at him.  It was stupid, because Yoongi was just doing what he should, what every good dad would, and wanting to, what, reward him? thank him? acknowledge him? with a kiss was ludicrous.  Stupid.  Surely something in the air mixing with the bubbles (“They’re butterflies, Y/N, just call them what they are.”  “I do not have butterflies in my stomach over Yoongi, Jimin, for the last time—“) in your stomach was making you stupid.  Surely.

 

            Tae, apparently, did not believe in Santa.  It didn’t surprise you too much, considering how practical Yoongi was, but it did surprise you a little because Tae had a wild imagination and loved playing pretend.  His current obsession was magic, everything from wizards to card tricks, and Santa seemed right up that alley, but on Christmas Eve-Eve while you and Yoongi sat in his room with the door closed, the first time you had been in his room with the door closed, wrapping presents, that’s what Yoongi told you. 

            “Tae doesn’t believe in Santa.  I just never put presents out beforehand because I’m lazy.”  You hummed and nodded and took another sip of your tea before taking another present to wrap.  You were already used to the silence that fell between you.  Unlike other silences, you didn’t feel the need to fill it with anything.  There was no music, no humming, no muttering, just the slight sounds of wrapping paper being cut and folded and taped.  It was comfortable, but your stomach still went haywire every time.  And perhaps it was all of Tae’s residual excitement building up over the week rubbing off on you that had made you extra tired, or maybe it was the way you kept trying to ignore whatever your stomach was trying to tell you, but you sighed and leaned back against Yoongi’s bed, a half-wrapped present in your lap, and just stared at it.  The sound of paper hiding a box continued for a moment before it too stopped, and the silence became uncomfortable, because you knew Yoongi was sitting on the floor across from you, watching you now.

            “Y/N?  You okay?”  Yoongi had this way about him, you had realized, this ability to sooth with his voice and his hands and his mere presence that only confirmed what you suspected about him, that he was good, that you loved him, even though you didn’t know his favorite color or why he didn’t talk to his mom or if he liked couple outfits or what he even thought you were to him.

            “Yeah,” you sighed, unable to even tell a good lie.  You were fine.  You were happy.  Confusion wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  In a few weeks, surely everything would become clear as you went your separate ways, as his work picked back up.  You knew he could tell you were lying, so you weren’t sure if you were relieved or upset when he only hummed and went back to wrapping presents.  You sat and tried to decide if you were happy or sad that he didn’t contradict you or ask you any more questions long enough for him to reach over and take the present you had been wrapping to finish.  And you kept sitting there even as he cleaned up the supplies and stacked all of the presents in one pile in the corner.  Only when you heard him clearing his throat did your fasciation with one swirl in his wood floor break.

            “Come on,” he said, and you stood up to see him sitting against his headboard, his legs wide, patting the space in between them in front of him.  Being careful not to step on his legs, you crawled onto the bed to sit in front of him, but he spun his finger, so, rolling your eyes, you turned around to sit in front of him, your legs folded in front of you, your hands in your lap, and a frown on your face.  “Scoot back some,” he said, and you did barely until you could almost hear him roll his eyes.  His hands grabbed your waist and tugged on them, and you flailed slightly as he pulled you back until you could feel his crotch on your ass.

            “Yoo—” you stuttered, but he only shushed you and pushed slightly on your shoulder blades.

            “Lean on your elbows,” he said, and then you did, digging them into the bed in front of your legs and plopping your head into your hands.

            “Wh—” you started again when you felt his hands lift up the bottom of your sweater, the air cold enough to make you start to turn around.

            “Let me take care of you,” he said, even as each of his long fingers dipped into your skin.

            “I-I don’t need taking care of,” you whispered as he started to knead your flesh, his fingers tickling you and then digging into you.

            “Yes, you do, you baby,” Yoongi huffed, his fingers skimming over your sides before running up your spine and under your bra strap.

            “I am not a baby,” you bit out.

            “You are.  A big baby,” he said too softly as he unclasped it and pushed the straps aside.  “Why are you being so difficult?”

            “I’m not,” you said weakly when his fingers got to your shoulders and pressed down.  He only hummed at that and worked on your muscles for what felt like an eternity before dropping his hands back down to your lower back where he rubbed his thumbs in gentle circles before taking the hem of your sweater in his hands.

            “Take this off?” he said, though it sounded more like a question, and you shook your head.  “No?”

            “No,” you mumbled.  “Cold.”  He laughed softly and started to pull it up, anyway, and you pushed yourself off of your elbows to hug your knees against your chest and wrap your arms around them.

            “I’m going to keep you warm,” he said, chuckling again when your shirt was bunched up under your arms.  You just sat like that for a moment in silence, his hands on your shoulders again with your sweater billowed up around them.  You finally huffed and wiggled slightly, his legs pressing in around you before you reached back to pull your sweater messily over your head.  You didn’t even bother to take it off all the way, though, but left the sleeves on as you crumpled the rest in front of your chest.  “Good girl,” Yoongi laughed again as he scratched the back of your head once, and you wiggled, glad he couldn’t see you frowning.

            “I’m not a dog,” you whined, and he laughed again, his hands returning to running up and down your back.  He started alternating between light touches on your skin, just skimming over the surface with fingers, and pressing into your muscles, each time either making you melt or arch your back a little, but each time definitely making your stomach radiate and tremble more and more.  When he moved his hands to your waist, his thumbs slowly moving back and forth, you thought he might be done, so you took a deep breath and started to sit up, your arms still pressed against yourself, and Yoongi moved to accommodate you, but not to let you go.  His legs closed around you and he leaned forward even as you were straightening up.  Both of his hands left you only momentarily until his arms wrapped around you, your stomach still sensitive and cold enough to flinch slightly at the contact.  Your elbows rested on them as you felt his cheek resting between your shoulder blades, his hair brushing against your back, and you felt effectively trapped, a part of you wanting to panic.  The other part of you felt secure and safe, and this side of you sighed as you leaned your head back.  A part of you wanted him to let you go because surely, surely this all meant nothing, and letting go now would be easier than letting go later.  But another part of you wanted to hold him back, and it was this part of you that was breathing heavily.  Your stomach was shaking, so you shivered, and Yoongi’s head lifted up.

            “Are you cold?” he said, his voice full of disbelief. 

            “No,” you mumbled, shaking your head, and he hummed.

            “I didn’t think so.  You feel very warm,” he said, one of his hands running back and forth across your stomach.  Involuntarily, you twitched and bit your lip at the drag of his fingers, and he slowed down before doing it again.

            “Yoo-Yoongi,” you said, shutting your eyes and leaning back again.  You bit your lip again when you felt him hum, his lips so close to your neck that you felt him vibrating.  “D-Do y-you like couple’s outfits?”

            “What?” Yoongi said, his hand stilling on your stomach.

            “Couple’s outfits.  Like, did you and Kwon ever wear matching clothes?”

            “No, I know what couple’s outfits are.  Why are you asking?”

            “I.  I don’t know,” you said lamely, sighing.  You felt Yoongi breathe against your neck before pressing his forehead against your shoulder and laughing.  You squirmed again in embarrassment but stopped when his fingers dug into your stomach and he hissed,

            “Stop that.”

            “Sorry,” you said meekly, remembering too late how close to him you were sitting.  “Sorry, I didn’t mean—”

            “It’s okay,” he said, his fingers gentle again as they soothed over your skin.  “My fault,” he said even as you felt his hips move a little away from you.  His forehead was still pressed against your back, though, when he cleared his throat.  “Seriously, why did you ask?”

            “Jimin just said something the other day.  Implied I don’t really know you that well, and I guess.”  You paused, unsure of how to explain.

            “Is it really bothering you that much?” Yoongi said softly, perceiving more than you had expected.  You shrugged.  “Y/N,” he said, lifting his head and bringing the warm that was wrapped around you to the top of your head.  You resisted withering at his touch, but your eyes closed regardless as he moved his fingers back and forth.  “You know I make music and love Tae, and holding hands gets me off.”

            “Yoongi!” you gasped before laughing at he continued.

            “I’m not sure what else you need to know.”

            “Everything,” you said simply.

            “Does everything matter?”

            “Yeah.  I mean.  I know you like your coffee black and need two cups before facing the day.  But I don’t know if there is anything else that could ever substitute for coffee.  I know you like listening to people more than talking to them, but I don’t know if there’s anyone who you do feel comfortable just talking to about things.  I know you like to play basketball but not in this weather.  I know you’re a perfectionist, but I don’t know why you allow some messes and not others.  I know you like butts more than boobs—”

            “How do you know that?” Yoongi said, his fingers stilling in your hair momentarily.

            “Yoongi, that one’s obvious.”

            “Okay,” he conceded quickly, moving his fingers on your head again.

            “I know you don’t like crowds, and I know you’ve explained why you feel the need to go to those events, but I don’t really know why you keep going.  Not really.  I know you hate driving, but I don’t know why.  I know you prefer comfortable clothes over classy clothes, but I don’t know why.  I know your favorite foods, but not your favorite colors.  I know you’re not a huge fan of Christmas, but I don’t know why, because Christmas is the best holiday ever.  I know you’re not close to your mom, but I don’t know why.  I know you like making other people feel good, but I don’t know why you like making me feel good.  I know—”

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said softly, and you stopped to catch your breath.  “Y/N,” he said again, “can you turn around for me?”  His hands left you and he scooted back so you could comply, but you sat still for a moment, your mind filled with reasons why he was upset, things he was going to say, explanations for how surely, surely you were overreacting.  Finally, you sighed and slipped your sweater back on, the material suddenly feeling too heavy on your back before you turned around.  The room was quiet again when he stretched out his hand to you, and you took it slowly, unable to deny how much you loved feeling his fingers between yours. 

            “Y/N, you can ask me anything you want.  I’ll tell you whatever you want to know, okay?”  He waited until you had nodded before he continued.  “So, first, no, I don’t like couple’s outfits.  Accidentally matching is fine.  That happens.  But on purpose is too planned and thus too fake.  That’s my thought.  Okay?  Okay, no, nothing is as good as coffee.  But when I wake up to Tae, even if he’s jumping on me or smothering me, I can’t complain.  And you make waking up easier.  I like seeing your face in the morning.  You’re usually up before me, but sometimes I wake up first and just listen to you breathing, and that’s calming.  I like waking up slowly, not to some screeching alarm sound, so sometimes you’ll jab me accidentally or roll over onto me some, and that wakes me up, but I’m never mad, because—”

            “Yoongi,” you mumbled staring at your hands.  “I didn’t mean—”

            “No, I think you did,” Yoongi said, but he didn’t sound mad.  “I talk to Namjoon.  Excessively.  And Hoseok.  Like, to Jin’s great annoyance sometimes.  Trust me.  I talk to them more than I talk to you, and I talk to you a lot, right?  So don’t worry, I have people who listen to me.  And I hate messes.  All messes.  But some I’ve learned to live with.  I can’t expect Tae to keep everything clean.  And sometimes during the process of something, there needs to be messes.  They still stress me out.  They’re like, there, in the corner, threatening to get bigger, but I have learned to ignore them.  And—”

            “Yoongi,” you said, a little firmly, “okay.  I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—”

            “No, don’t apologize.  Talk to me.  Let me know what’s bothering you,” Yoongi said, his thumb brushing back and forth on your hand.  “I want to take care of you.”

            “I—Why?”

            “What?  Why what?”

            “Why do you want to take care of me?  Is this one of those masculinity things?” you said, but you were smirking, and Yoongi rolled his eyes.

            “Yes, fine, sure, it’s a masculinity thing.  Or it’s just a person thing.  Don’t you want to take care of me?”

            “I—” Yes.  Of course.  Surely he knew that.  Surely.

            “It’s okay,” Yoongi said slowly, watching you unable to speak, but it didn’t feel okay, not when he let go of you and pushed you gently off of the bed so he could get under the covers.  “I know you care, Y/N,” he said, holding up the blanket and staring at you.  You worked your way out of your bra before finally climbing into bed, choosing to face him unlike you usually did, which caused him to raise his eyebrows.

            “I do,” you whispered, trying to meet his gaze.  “I care.”

            “I know you do,” he said, smiling.  He brushed your hair back a few times and collected it so it wasn’t resting on your neck before looking at you again.  “You going to sleep like this tonight?”

            “That okay?” you said, biting your lip.

            “Of course, but you like sleeping on your right side.”

            “Yeah,” you shrugged, “but surely I can handle it this one time.”

            “Or,” Yoongi said, “surely we can think of a better solution.”  You waited to hear his idea, but instead he started to climb over you.  You watched out of the corner of you eye as he hovered over you, and you laughed even though you felt like exploding when he swooped down and kissed your temple before climbing over you and lying down again.  “Okay, turn over,” he said, and you did, understanding now, and soon you were facing him and his grin again.  “Ta da.”

            “Genius,” you said, smiling back.

            “That’s me,” he grinned, your knees knocking together as he fixed your hair again as you curled up as close to him as you could.  You played with his fingers on his hand in between your chests, and he laughed, trying to fight your fingers off before succumbing to both of your hands grabbing his one.  When your hair was to his satisfaction, he moved his hand to your back and slipped under your sweater again to run up and down your spine.  You hadn’t exactly asked him what you should have, but you still felt a little better.  No, you felt wonderful.  Who wouldn’t?  The soothing presence of another so close and his hands lulling you to sleep was all you needed.  Just this was enough.  Right?

 

            You spent most of Christmas Eve with just your dad, as Jungkook had disappeared again with Jimin, and even though you were too big and too old, you curled up in his lap as much as you could and watched Die Hard like you always did, thinking too much about Yoongi and his insistence to take care of you.  You had always been a pretty independent person.  As an only child, you were forced to entertain yourself for years.  As you got older, your personal oddities kept other people away, and you kept yourself away from people as you learned how hurtful they could be.  Your dad had made sure to teach you enough “men” things so that you wouldn’t have to rely on a guy for help.  You knew how to change your truck’s oil, build a bookshelf, pitch a tent, start a fire, gut a fish, and countless other things that even Jimin didn’t know.  And maybe your mom leaving at the age of twelve meant you didn’t know many “girl” things like how to do makeup, but you had Jimin for that.  And you had been cooking for years and certainly knew how to clean and do laundry and apparently take care of a kid.  You couldn’t think of anything in your life that you needed that Yoongi could provide that you couldn’t figure out or find or make or buy yourself.  Except companionship, and that was something you had no experience with.  You had never had a boyfriend, and your parents hadn’t exactly given you a good example to follow for what a healthy relationship would look like.  But was a relationship about taking care of each other?  Was it supposed to be so transactionary?  You had no idea.  So you sighed and tried not to think about it and enjoyed another Christmas Eve with your dad.

 

            The next morning came too early, Tae bursting through Yoongi’s door and proceeding to pounce on both of you.  Before you even had time to react, Yoongi grabbed Tae and held him down, muttering about it being too early, and while the boy squirmed and tried to break free, his dad held him firmly until he calmed down.  You know you fell back asleep, and Yoongi did too, only to wake up again a couple of hours later to Tae once again bouncing on the bed and waving you and Yoongi’s arms in the air chanting about Christmas.  Tae and Yoongi’s morning tradition on Christmas was apparently waffles with icecream, which you couldn’t imagine being a good idea for how excited Tae already was, but you weren’t going to contradict them, so you and Yoongi finally let Tae drag you out of bed and, still in your pajamas, shuffled around to make coffee and then stood back while Yoongi made waffles.

            “It’s my one specialty apart from kimchi fried rice,” he said proudly, and you busied yourself making tea for you and Tae so you didn’t laugh at him.  Soon you were all keyed up with enough caffeine and sugar to hopefully at least last you through lunch, and you struggled to make sure Tae was dressed appropriately and warmly enough as his limbs became extra hard to pin down.  Yoongi kept laughing and not helping except to load the car with the presents.  While he hated driving, he had let JaeEun have the day off, thankfully, and you figured there wouldn’t be too much traffic on the road.  It also wasn’t a white Christmas yet, so the streets should be safe enough, too.  Finally, almost an hour after you would have liked to have left, you were all piled into the car and headed to Hoseok and Jin’s.

 

            Hoseok and Jin’s house, not surprisingly, was bigger than Namjoon’s but smaller than Yoongi’s and messier than both.  It, in general, looked more lived-in, and, considering everyone else (Namjoon, Jimin, and Jungkook) were already there, was a lot noisier.  Also unsurprisingly, everyone had been drinking and was already a bit tipsy (“We had nothing else to do while we waited for you!” “We would have drunk anyway, you know that, right?”).  Jin seemed the most eager to see you all, ushering you in quickly and almost throwing the presents you were carrying aside so you could all sit down to eat.  He had prepared too much food, you thought, and you wondered if he had done it on his own, but you didn’t ask and didn’t need to as you all dug in.  Everything was good, and everyone had seconds, and you would have liked to have taken a nap after so much food, but Tae was adamant about presents first, so you all moved lazily and slowly to the living room, leaving the table looking like a bombed war zone, telling yourselves you would clean up later.  You had never been around so many people on Christmas, and everything soon became chaotic as people exchanged presents and ripped into them before throwing around thank you’s and cries of excitement.  In the midst of all of the confusion, you sat next to Yoongi on a couch, almost sitting on one of your legs while the other one swung off the edge of the seat kicking back and forth. 

            Tae was an easy kid to please, and loved everything he got, though you selfishly thought he liked the coloring books you got him the most, and Hoseok and Jin seemed to be trying to out-do each other not only in terms of what they bought each other, but also in volume, and Namjoon had obviously spent too much money on Jimin and Jungkook, and Jungkook had made Jimin a beautiful wooden cell phone holder also designed to amplify sound that Jimin kissed him too many times for, and Yoongi seemed to give presents with great meaning or with great intention, because everyone opened his with a kind of awe and thanked him with more sincerity than they thanked everyone else.  You hoped by next year you could contribute more, but no one complained or railed on you, so you were perfectly content to be more of a spectator than a participant for the day.  Still, while everyone was busy with their own presents, Yoongi brought one over to you, and he put it in your lap before sitting back by you, fluffing the back of his hair sheepishly.

            “So I made this,” he mumbled, “so don’t judge me.  I did my best.”

            “You made me something?” you said, blinking stupidly at the box while he nodded.  You couldn’t possibly imagine what he had made you, or why he had made it, and your stomach, still so laden with food, tried to squirm.  Slowly, wanting to savor the moment, you popped off the tape on one side and then the other.  Yoongi started to bounce his leg beside you, and you went even slower, unwrapping the paper to reveal a cardboard box with a lit.  “Aw, you made me a box?” you teased, and you could almost hear Yoongi roll his eyes while his thigh brushed up and down against yours.

            “Come on, Y/N.”

            “Okay, okay,” you laughed, and without anymore teasing you ripped the lid off and threw it dramatically away.  And then you gripped the box and stared inside.  And Yoongi’s leg stop moving so he could look inside and then up at you.

            “Do you, uh,” he stuttered after you were silent for too long.  His voice, or his anxious tone made you look up at him, and you blinked away the pooling in your eyes.

            “Yoongi,” you muttered, and he swallowed, his eyes continuing to look from the box to you, waiting for a proper reaction, but your brain had stopped working, and you wondered if this is how he felt when he saw you washing dishes or helping Tae.  You wondered if you could even attempt to look at him the way he looked at you when he thought you weren’t looking.  You weren’t sure if you could convey everything you wanted to just by looking at him, and you certainly didn’t trust your words, so without saying anything you put a hand on his arm, watching his eyes flicker to it before settling on your face, and moved the box to the floor as gently as you could.

            “I know it’s not as good as yours,” Yoongi was muttering as you turned to face him, resting on your knees, “but I did my best.  Your dad helped, and I know—”

            “Yoongi,” you said, your hand touching his cheek so suddenly that he shut up immediately, his eyes widening a little.

            “Yeah Y/N?” he whispered, looking up at you.  His worry faded away, replaced by a small smirk, his eyes staring at you intensely.  Tentatively licking your lip before biting it, you moved your hand up his arm to grab behind his neck and pulled him toward you as you leaned down.  If your stomach already felt drunk off of his looks and his touches, you had no idea how you would survive after kissing him, but you didn’t think about that when you pressed your lips against his.  He tasted like coffee and waffles and peppermint and whiskey and home, and you weren’t sure who was smiling more, you or him, as you pressed your forehead against his.

            “Merry Christmas, Y/N,” he said, smiling widely.  You laughed and cupped his face before kissing him again.  You ignored everything except him rotating, ignored the gasps and cheers and concentrated on his hands on your back and your waist, ignored whoever was taking a picture so you could lean deeper into the kiss, ignored the dying part of your brain telling you to stop to pull away to laugh again as he kissed your nose and pulled you into his lap before peppering kisses all over your face.

            “Must be a damn good present,” someone said, and you ignored them, only barely registering what Tae said as he peered into the box, his voice high and delightful, because his dad was holding you, and while you loved what was in the box, this was infinitely better.

            “It’s a bird house!  And it’s pink like mine!”

            Surely, surely that meant something, right?

Chapter Text

            “Giggly” is not really a word you had ever used to describe yourself, but there was no other way to explain what you were like the rest of the time you spent at Jin and Hoseok’s.  “Embarrassed” could be used, as well, especially when Jimin would not leave you alone until you finally kicked him away, which only made him cackle more.  But despite everything that Hoseok and Jin and Jimin said, and despite the way Jungkook and Namjoon smiled knowingly at you, you didn’t regret it, and Yoongi clearly didn’t, either.  He wouldn’t let you leave his lap the rest of the afternoon, grunting when Tae climbed up, too, but not pushing either of you away.  Tae, whose reaction you were most concerned about, only seemed to care when he decided he needed kisses, too, which you and Yoongi were more than willing to give him.  So you let your cheeks burn, you let yourself hide your face in Yoongi’s neck when you needed a break, and you let yourself smile and laugh every time Yoongi kissed you.  You were officially too breathless to even kiss him back, but he didn’t seem to care, he just smiled against your skin and pulled at your sweater’s collar as far as you would let him to nibble along your shoulder until you swatted his arm and told him that was enough. 

            “Overwhelmed” you had felt before, and you felt yourself sag more and more against Yoongi until you simply curled up and rested against his chest as you closed your eyes and tried to catch your breath.  Tae had already sprawled himself on the couch next to you, his mouth partially opened as he slept, his early morning, sugar crash, and waxing excitement finally all catching up to him.  Yoongi’s ever present hand was rubbing circles on your back as he talked softly to Namjoon about something, about a track or piece of sound equipment, while your fingers played idly with the buttons on his shirt, the vibrations of his voice running through you due to your proximity, occasionally sending another shiver to your stomach that made you want to grab onto him even harder.  His other hand kept running up and down your thigh, and everything felt too hot. 

            “Yoongi,” you mumbled after what felt like hours, trying to keep your limbs from falling asleep completely.  “We should go to my dad’s.”  You weren’t even sure if it was time to go, but you needed to get out of Yoongi’s lap.  You stumbled as you got up, which elicited another laugh from Jimin, but he wasn’t faring much better after drinking too much, so you pushed him playfully before helping him off of the floor, hugging him tightly and poking his side as he struggled to get away from you.

            “Jungkook, help, save me,” he said, trying to grab your fingers unsuccessfully.  You laughed wickedly and glared at your brother who only raised his hands in surrender.  “Ah, ah,” Jimin gasped, “I hate you both.”  You relented and helped sooth down his soft white sweater, leaving him to run to Jungkook’s arms while you finally helped Jin clean up the kitchen and the wrapping paper debris.  Well, you tried to be the one helping Jin.  Hoseok kept distracting him too much to get much of anything done, but you couldn’t find yourself to be annoyed, and you weren’t even weirded out by the sight of Jimin in Namjoon’s lap while Jungkook ran his hands through your friend’s hair, constantly exposing his forehead and giggling upside down at him every time as Jimin kept getting exasperated.  Nothing seemed too odd or rushed or weird.  Everything felt exactly right.

            While Yoongi helped collect presents, you took care of Tae, waking him up enough to make sure he was coherent, but letting him cling to you and doze while you all say goodbye to everyone.  Jimin and Jungkook were coming with you all to your dad’s, as Namjoon had brought them to Hoseok and Jin’s, so you waited for them to gather up everything and say goodbye, too, noticing how Jimin stood on his tiptoes to kiss Namjoon on the cheek and Jungkook gave him a shy smile.  Jimin had gotten new rings from both of them that he was wearing on the same finger, and you noticed him constantly fiddling with them as you got into the back of the car after you decided to let Jungkook sit up front.  Sitting yourself in the middle, you sat by Jimin so you could hold his hand and send him a reassuring smile, and soon you were both laughing at each other, Yoongi and Jungkook both glancing back at you like you were both crazy.  And maybe you were.  Two idiots in love.  It was weird to admit it, but it felt good, right, comfortable. 

            By the time Yoongi pulled up to your dad’s, you missed Yoongi already, and as soon as Tae was unbuckled you hustled him out and rushed around to the driver’s side to wait for Yoongi to get out.  He looked a little surprised to see you, but he laughed when you hugged him and pulled down on his coat collar to kiss him again.  You caught his teeth more than his lips as he was still laughing, but he hummed and sobered up to kiss you back quickly.

            “Your dad might be watching,” he said when you pulled away, and you kissed his cheek again before smoothing down his collar.

            “He’s happy if I’m happy.”

            “Are you happy?” Yoongi said, taking your hand.  You only smiled and nodded at him before paying attention to Jimin telling you to hurry up and get inside before his, quote “cute ass froze off.”

            “Jimin, language,” you hissed, taking Tae’s other hand, but the boy had fallen asleep again in the car and was barely registering anything.  When your dogs all came over to greet you all, he pushed them all away, a frown developing on his face, so you swooped down to rescue him, sad at having to let go over Yoongi’s hand, but he placed his on your back and you were consoled for the time being.  By the time you all got to the door, you were giggling again because Yoongi kept trying to kiss your ear, and Jimin was walking behind Jungkook with his hands in the boy’s back pockets.  Jungkook only looked partially awkward as Jimin walked oddly behind him, giggling every time he squeezed his fingers around his butt and Jungkook twitched slightly.  You must have looked a sight, the five of you, as you burst through the door, especially when you all saw your dad sitting on in his chair holding a faded blue blanket you recognized immediately.

            “Dad,” you said, almost dropping Tae.  Jimin and Jungkook straightened up immediately at your tone, and Yoongi started to take Tae from you.

            “Talked to your mom today,” he said, and you and Jungkook looked at each other.  The boy had visibly paled, and you took a deep breath.  It felt too cold in the room despite the door already being shut and the fire roaring in the living room and the multiple bodies so near you.

            “Could you go see if Tae will go to sleep in Jungkook’s room?” you said to Yoongi who nodded and let you squeeze his elbow before he stepped past you all.  Jimin was looking at Jungkook, and you took your brother’s hand for the first time and led him to the couch in front of your dad.

            “What did she say?” you said as you walked over, and you bit your lip the moment you saw your dad’s face.  “Dad?”  He didn’t stop the tears that were running down his face, and you let go of Jungkook to go to him, taking his hand in yours as you knelt by his chair.  “Said her son wasn’t picking up his phone.”  You heard Jungkook curse under his breath and fumble around, presumably for his phone.  “Wanted to know where he was.  She still thinks I don’t know, still thinks I’m too stupid to figure it out.”

            “Dad?” you pleaded.

            “I’m not, you know?”

            “I know, I know dad, of course you’re not.  You were always so good.  You still are.  You’re too good.  How dare she think that.  How dare she call you,” you said, gritting your teeth.

            “I’m sorry,” you heard Jungkook mumble, and you whipped around to throw a finger at him.

            “Don’t you dare apologize for her.  You had no part in any of this.  Neither of us did.  Seriously, how dare she do that to us.”

            “Y/N,” your dad said, too softly as you felt tears start to gather in your own eyes.

            “No,” you said, resting your forehead on his knee, “all these years.”

            “It’s okay,” he said, his hand resting on your head.  “It’s not, but it will be, right?  Look at him,” he said, and you lifted your head to look at your dad instead, but he raised his eyebrows and you looked back at Jungkook.  He was hanging his head, and Jimin was rubbing his back where they had sunk into the couch nearby, a frown on his face as he bit his lip.  “He’s a good kid, right?  Right, Jimin?” your dad said, laughing slightly, sounding a little choked, and Jimin almost squeaked.

            “Yes sir.”

            “I knew the whole time, Y/N, that he wasn’t mine,” your dad said, and you turned back to him, letting him wipe his thumb across your cheek, catching a stray tear.  “She never was very faithful.  But I would have raised him, you know, I would have raised you, Jungkook, for both of your sake’s.  I’m only sorry I couldn’t have been there for you.”

            “Sir,” Jungkook said, his voice garbled, “I’m sorry.”

            “None of that now,” your dad said.  “Y/N’s right.  You’ve done nothing wrong.”

            “I lied to you,” Jungkook said, still staring at his shoes.

            “Forgiven,” your dad said, waving his hand.  “I’m just.  You have no idea how happy I am, how glad I am that you’re not dead.  I only wish I could have been there for you.  But you’re here now, and you’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like.  That offer still stands.”  Somehow, Jungkook managed to hunch over even more as he shoulders shook.

            “I don’t deserve that,” he muttered, but your dad shook his head again.  You moved away from him slightly to inch closer to Jungkook, not sure if he wanted to be left alone or would even appreciate you trying to comfort him.  He didn’t strike you as a very touchy person, though Jimin practically clinging to him told you differently.  But Jimin tended to have that effect on people.  You opted for only reaching for his leg, and his head came up slightly as he sniffled, looking even younger than you knew he was now.

            “It’s Christmas, Jungkook.  I don’t know about how you were raised, but in this house we give presents on Christmas,” you said, and he chocked a little as he smiled, “and gifts are just that.  So I will officially give you my bed if you’ll stay.”

            “That’s,” Jungkook laugh, sitting up a little as Jimin wiped his hand across his face, “a shit present.  That bed is so lumpy and—”

            “Okay, brat, get your own bed then.”

            “Well, actually,” your brother said, straightening up more and patting Jimin’s hand that was resting on his thigh.  “Jimin had mentioned something about living with Namjoon.”

            “Seriously?” you said, looking between the two.  Out of the corner of your eye, you saw Yoongi standing in the doorway, his arms folded over his chest as he watched you.  A small smile came across his face when you glanced at him, but you looked back at your dad, frowning.  “Isn’t that.  Aren’t you moving too fast?”

            “Not this again, Y/N,” Jimin said, sighing and leaning back on the couch.

            “I mean, you don’t know Namjoon, Jungkook.  Isn’t that a bit presumptuous of you to move in, too?”

            “He invited me,” your brother said simply, and you sighed, too, leaning back on your hands to stare up at the two boys.  “And, of course,” Jungkook said, gesturing toward your dad, “I want to keep working.  If that’s okay.  I.  I can’t go home.  I don’t want to.  I promise I didn’t come here expecting you to take me in.  I don’t want to be a burden—”

            “Nonsense,” your dad finally said, setting aside the blanket he was holding and stretching out his legs.  “Unless you’re quitting, I’m not firing you.  You can live wherever you want, of course.  But you are welcome here.”

            “Thank you,” Jungkook said softly, finally smiling, albeit shyly. 

            “Good,” your dad said as he stood up, his booming voice and the slap on his knees startling you a bit, “now, if you’ll excuse me, I apparently have dinner to make.”  You and Jimin both scrambled to get up, used to your dad’s odd way of asking for help, and Jungkook watched Jimin go reluctantly.  Still standing in the doorway, Yoongi smiled wider as you walked by, squeezing his elbow in passing, the look on his face like that of when he watched you when he thought you were unaware, and you ducked your head to hide your smile as you went to the kitchen.  Soon he and Jungkook were talking about music or some shared interest while you and Jimin helped your dad finish cooking the dinner he had already almost finished.  At one point, after the oven beeped, Tae arrived in the doorway looking alarmed and confused, but he relaxed when he realized where he was, and the house became full of sounds of laughter and smells that were sure to stay with you as the days passed.  While you were used to only yourself and your dad at Christmas, you couldn’t find yourself complaining.  The day had been louder than normal, but the conversations and laughter and even the tears only made the day fuller.  As your late dinner ended, bringing a looming end to the day, you clung tightly to your dad when you hugged him goodbye, feeling like something was ending while something was also beginning.  And you couldn’t complain, even if everything was a little unnerving and confusing.  You hugged Jimin and even Jungkook closely, too, worried about them but not afraid.  As you said goodbye and piled back into the car with Yoongi and Tae, you sat in the back with the kid so he wouldn’t be alone and thought about everything the day had given you.  You couldn’t help but smile again at Yoongi in the rearview mirror, even though your face was hurting already, and you couldn’t resist kissing Tae’s head over and over again.  You recalled, as the boy smiled up at you, when he had asked Jungkook what he had wanted for Christmas (“Nothing, kid, or nothing that can be bought”), and you hoped in your dad and Jimin and even in you, Jungkook had gotten what he wanted this Christmas.

 

            Considering you hadn’t even really asked for anything for Christmas, you had received more than you had expected, and while part of you knew you should talk to Yoongi about what you were, you wanted to just let yourself giggle, unsure of how long the giddy feeling in your stomach would last.  And as you allowed yourself to climb into Yoongi’s bed without being asked, you laughed openly at your phone.

 

Jimin (11:13PM)

Merry Christmas again, Y/N

We love you lots!

P.S. your bed is officially no longer yours

;)

*Image Attached*

 

You (11:15PM)

Hey you know you switched sweaters, right

Also

Ew

Burn it with fire

 

Jimin (11:16PM)

Oh shit

You right

 

You (11:17PM)

Don’t pretend, you did that on purpose

You’re so gross

 

Jimin (11:19PM)

;)

 

You (11:21PM)

Merry Christmas to you two too

 

            “What’s so funny?” Yoongi’s deep voice asked as he climbed in next to you, his cold feet making you shriek louder as you threw your phone down to punch him playfully.

            “Just Jimin being gross.  And you, thinking I want your frozen popsicles on my skin.”

            “Appendages,” Yoongi grumbled, pulling you down so you were lying on your back while you kicked his feet away from your legs.

            “Don’t make me fight you,” you teased, grabbing his hand already around your waist to push him off of you.

            “As if.  You wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Yoongi huffed, pushing back on your hand.

            “Like you would know.  Did I never tell you about the time Jimin and I beat this guy up?”

            “Wait, really?” Yoongi said, the pressure on your hand stopping so suddenly your own elbow fell onto your stomach, causing you to cough.

            “Well, I beat him up.  He was messing with Jimin.”

            “Wow,” Yoongi breathed.  “Bad girl.”

            “That’s me,” you laughed, turning on your side and twisting Yoongi’s fingers in yours until your fingers were interlaced.  You still couldn’t understand how Yoongi slept in so little clothes, and you felt like, in some way, you had too many on as you stared at his bare chest in front of you.

            “Hi,” Yoongi said, making you look up at his face as you granted him another smile. 

            “Hi,” you said back.

            “Merry Christmas.”

            “Merry Christmas,” you laughed.

            “Was it a good one?”

            “It was alright,” you shrugged, and wiggled when a cold toe touched your foot.

            “If it was just alright, I have no idea how to top it next year,” Yoongi said, tugging at your joined hands until he put yours on his back.  He let go to do the same to you, causing you to draw closer to him under the covers.

            “Next year?” you said, raising an eyebrow.

            “Yeah,” he said simply, and you bit your lip.  Yoongi’s face grew serious as yours did, and you let him, despite how cold it felt initially, slip his hand under your sweater to move up your back.

            “Yoongi?” you said, and he hummed in response, his lips pressed together as his eyes flickered over yours.  “I know I’m not just Tae’s nanny.  But if-if we’re going to, I don’t know, then I don’t think I’m comfortable telling people I’m Tae’s nanny.  Jimin keeps reminding me you’re still my boss, and—”

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said, softly but firmly, “are you happy?”

            “Yeah,” you whispered.

            “Does it matter what other people think?”

            “Well.  No.  But yes.  I mean, not really, but still.”  Yoongi chuckled and curled his fingers on your back.

            “So what is it?  Yes or no?”

            “I think it matters what some people think.  What my dad thinks.  And Jimin.  And Tae.  Your friends.  You.”  Yoongi hummed again and removed his hand from under your shirt to smooth your hair away from your neck and face.

            “I want you to be happy and comfortable.  I’m sure your dad wants the same.  And Tae doesn’t care what title you have, you know?  It matters that you take care of him and love him.  Right?”

            “Yeah,” you said, smiling as his fingers moved over your head.  “But.”  Yoongi hummed.

            “But?  You want to be my girlfriend?  My baby?”

            “Baby?” you almost chocked.  “I am not a baby.”

            “You are,” Yoongi said, smirking as his fingernails scraped over your scalp.  “Big baby.”

            “I can’t be your baby.  Tae’s your baby,” you huffed, removing your hand from his back so you could suddenly become fascinated with your own fingers twiddle with each other.  You were close enough that your knuckles grazed Yoongi’s chest, but you just stared at your hands.

            “Tae’s not a baby.  He’s my kid.  You can be my baby,” Yoongi said, his voice slightly teasing but his breath warm on your brow as he reached down to kiss your forehead.  You squirmed slightly until he smiled against your skin as he kissed you again.  “Big baby,” he whispered.

            “Am not,” you murmured, wishing he had a shirt so you could tug on it and make him stop even though you also wanted him to have a shirt on so you could pull him closer to you.  Yoongi’s thumb brushed over where his lips had just been and then over your cheek as you wiggled again, and when his hand cupped the side of your face, his fingers playing with the hair on the back of your neck, you finally looked up at him.  He laughed at your scowl before kissing your nose.

            “Baby,” he said again, more serious this time, and his tone and his closeness, like always, made your stomach shiver.  “Do you want to be my girlfriend?”

            “Wh-really?” you stuttered.

            “Really.”

            “Seriously?”

            “I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t serious,” Yoongi said, brushing his thumb over your cheek and looking at you a little too intensely. 

            “What will people say?”

            “What?”

            “Min Yoongi, dating his kid’s nanny.”

            “I,” Yoongi said, laughing suddenly, “could care less what other people think.  Have you heard the music I produce?”

            “Oh,” you said, biting your lips.

            “Oh yeah,” he sighed, “you can’t be my girl friend yet, nope, we have to fix that.  Tomorrow.  Good night, Merry Christmas, we’re done now,” Yoongi rambled, closing his eyes and rolling away from you.

            “What?  No,” you whined, reaching out for him before he slipped turned away completely.  He turned back to you with a sly smile on his face, which you smacked him for.  “I’m sorry.  I’ll listen.  Make me a play list.  I only meant I don’t want people to look down on you because of me.”

            “Y/N,” Yoongi said softly again, “baby, didn’t we establish I don’t care what other people think?”

            “Yeah, but,” you started, but Yoongi grabbed your waist to stop you.

            “I used to openly take escorts to public events.”

            “Don’t remind me,” you sulked, staring at your fingers again.

            “Until recently, I’ve only really cared about people thinking I’m good at music for a long time.”

            “Until recently?” you hummed.

            “I want people to think I’m a good dad,” Yoongi almost mumbled shyly, “and a good friend.”

            “So you do care what people think,” you teased, poking his chest.  He flinched slightly before his fingers tightened against your skin.

            “Like you said, I guess it just matters what some people think.  I want Tae to think I’m a good dad, you know?  And, like I said, I want you to be happy and comfortable.  So.”

            “So,” you whispered, taking a deep breath before releasing it into Yoongi’s chest.  “So okay.”

            “Okay?” Yoongi said.

            “Yeah, but look, if this is some masculinity thing again,” you said, and Yoongi groaned, his hand pushing on your hip until you were pressed onto your back.  He loomed over you for a split second before attacking your face.  You squealed lightly as he kissed your cheek.

            “With the amount of times you say that,” he grumbled, kissing your neck as his fingers tickled your waist, “I’d think you didn’t like being taken care of,” he said, nibbling close enough to your ear to make you shudder and go a little limp.  “But you can’t deny that you like it, baby,” he whispered, pausing as he looked from your eyes to your lips as you visibly swallowed.  Before he could say anything else and make you feel even more flustered, you put your hands on his face and pulled him down.  One day the two of you might learn to kiss without smiling throughout it, but it was still Christmas, and you both smiled against each other as your lips pressed together again and again.

            “Sorry, boyfriend,” you said after a minute, lifting his face away from yours to stare into his wide eyes, “thought it might be juvenile for you, you’re so old and—”

            “What is with you today?” Yoongi said, pushing his hand under your shirt high enough to make you gasp slightly.  “I can’t believe,” he said, mouthing at your neck again, “that you ever doubted you and Jungkook were related.  You’re both such brats.”

            “What?” you gasped.  “Please don’t mention my brother with your hand up my shirt.”

            “Oh, sorry,” Yoongi said, moving his hand down to your stomach before sticking it unceremoniously quickly on your back and moving his fingers a few centimeters down under your pants.

            “Yoongi!” you screamed, laughing as you shot away from him.  He laughed as he whipped his hand away and raised it in front of himself in a gesture of surrender.

            “Sorry,” he said, clearly not, “thought you just meant—”

            “God,” you breathed, pushing him away from you until he fell back into his spot beside you, a puff of air leaving his lungs.  “Can you just—can we.  Can we sleep now?”

            “Of course, baby, whatever you want,” Yoongi said, a smirk evident on his face through his tone alone.  You rolled your eyes but allowed him to pull you close once you were both on your sides, your back resting against his chest.  You had always loved Christmas, and you couldn’t imagine why Yoongi didn’t seem too excited about it.  So perhaps it was juvenile to think so, but maybe, just maybe, Yoongi would think better of the holiday from now on if you had anything to say about it.  You hadn’t gotten him anything for Christmas, unsure of what someone with plenty of money and a clear aversion to meaningless possessions would even want, so you hoped, as you smiled one last time before Christmas was over as Yoongi’s nose rubbed against the back of your neck, that the smiles he had shown you throughout the day were an indication that you had given him a gift that no one could have bought.

Chapter Text

           At some point, maybe around the age of ten, you realized that you weren’t like the other girls around you.  Each of them dressed up like princesses and dreamed of being mommies as they cradled dolls and waited for a knight in shining armor to rescue you.  You had laughed and been ostracized and gone on with your life, not really thinking about a future full of kids.  Or full of one kid, even.  It’s not that you didn’t like kids; they seemed to gravitate toward you naturally, after all, but you couldn’t see yourself becoming a mom.  Even on days when Tae clung to you and clearly needed you to take care of him, you couldn’t really imagine him ever calling you mom. If you saw a psychiatrist, she would probably say it was because your mom abandoned you at the age of twelve and had another kid who you didn’t get to meet until he was eighteen and left your dad even though he was the greatest man to ever exist.  But what do therapists know?  

           Surely you weren’t harboring some deep-seated fear about being a mom of your own because you were worried about passing on the poor decisions of your mom.  That would be illogical, after all.  It wasn’t something you needed to worry about.  Tae could call you whatever he wanted to.  He was still young enough to not really understand what was happening, so surely there would be no long term negative side effects to seeing his nanny kiss his dad every morning while he ate his breakfast.  You had a party to plan and Christmas decorations to put up and New Years to get ready for and were plenty busy and distracted. Jungkook and you still had to adjust to being siblings, and your dad needed time, though he was the quickest of you all, to learn how to have a son (“He’s had lots of practice, after all.” “Jimin.  Hey, see this saw?  Know what it could do?”), so you didn’t have time to think about your mom.  Or Yoongi’s.  Or Tae’s.  But it seemed like the world wasn’t done gifting you with presents you never expected.

           Your suspicions about why Yoongi wasn’t a huge fan of Christmas started to surface the closer Tae’s birthday got.  Yoongi fell back into his same routine quickly, which jarred you a little at first before realizing that only meant he was comfortable with you and nothing really needed to change between you two even while everything was changing, but with that meant a return of his stress.  While he continued to have the patience of a saint and never raised his voice at you or Tae, his stress seemed to have the opposite effect on him than it did on most people; while others grow loud and irritable when tired or worried, Yoongi got quiet and somehow moved even less.  You saw him less and less, which caused you to worry, and as the week progressed you could feel a tension between the two of you tightening.  He still held you at night and kissed you in the morning and came out to spend his fifteen minutes with Tae, but his smiles seemed to be fading too quickly, and his brow seemed furrowed too often, and your stomach started to act up while you chewed the inside of your mouth and bit your lip when you wanted to just ask him what was wrong.  You should have a discussion.  It wouldn’t have to be an argument.  But you still had a lot to learn about each other, and you didn’t like the quiet.  It was uncomfortable, and maybe it was just you, but you had to say something.  So you willed yourself to sit in bed before lying down the night before Tae’s birthday, your phone already plugged in and your hands folded in your lap as you watched Yoongi get ready for bed.  He smiled when he saw you out of the corner of his eye but didn’t say anything, and you resisted filling the room with humming. He moved languidly, as he always did, his hands moving slowly as he unbuttoned his shirt and shivered when he pulled down his pants.  When he had thrown his clothes in the hamper (“Stop leaving things on the floor, seriously”), he finally came and got into bed, lying down on his side to face you, wrapping his arm around both of your legs and pushing his face into your thigh. As his face was hidden, you didn’t mind smiling at him as you ran your fingers through his hair and he hummed contentedly.

           “Can we have a non-argument?” you said.

           “So a discussion?” Yoongi muffled into your pants.

           “Yeah, that’d be nice.”

           “Okay,” he said slowly.  “About what?”

           “I just.  Want to make sure you’re okay.”

           “Yeah?  Why do you ask?” Yoongi said, still burrowed into your side.

           “Could you—do you mind looking at me?” you said softly, and he peeled away from you slowly to look up at you, his eyes droopy and a slight frown on his face.  “You can tell me if I’m wrong, but I think something’s bothering you.  Is it work?  Christmas is over, and I think it went well.  Tae’s fine.  Are we okay?”

           “Of course we are,” he said, reaching up to take your hand out of his hair so he could kiss your knuckles before holding it in your lap.  “Work is work.  We have award season coming up, and that’s always stressful, but I’m not really worried. Not nervous.  I’ll win or I won’t.  Same for Namjoon and Hoseok.”

           “Everything is all set for Tae’s birthday tomorrow, I think.”

           “Yeah, of course, thank you,” he said, his hand running down to under your knee.

           “Okay, so?”

           “So,” Yoongi sighed, drawing out of the word. He blinked a few times before taking a breath, his fingers playing absentmindedly with yours as he looked up at you.  “So my mom will call tomorrow.”

           “Oh,” you said, the word itself making you still. “She didn’t call at Christmas?”

           “She knows I won’t answer.”

           “But tomorrow?”

           “I’m not completely heartless.  I mean, it doesn’t mean much to Tae.  He doesn’t really know her.  But there’s no reason to cut her out of his life completely.”

           “So, why,” you said, trailing your other hand down to his around your legs, “isn’t she in your life?”  You watched Yoongi breathe and look at you, understanding the weight of the question.  “Was it your decision or hers?”

           “Mine,” Yoongi said firmly, and you squeezed his hand in some attempt to comfort him.

           “Why?  What happened?”

           “She didn’t exactly,” Yoongi said, his eyebrows pressed together, “agree with my life decisions.”

           “What, Tae?”

           “No, no, no, she loves that he exists.  Even if she’s never met him.  She’s always wanted grandkids.  No, I left Korea years before Tae to pursue music.  Not exactly what she wanted for me.”

           “Oh,” you said again, not sure what else to say.

           “Look,” Yoongi said, sitting up with a groan until he was leaning against your shoulder, his arm in his favorite spot hanging over your stomach.  “I know, at sixteen, I probably didn’t make the best decision.  I was young and stupid.  Way too prideful.  But I knew I wanted to do music.  I was good at it.  I mean, I’m great at it.  She overreacted, threw out lyrics and sheet music I had worked for days on, things I’ll never get back, and maybe I overacted a bit, too, but that was enough for me to leave.  She’s never apologized, and I doubt she ever will.  So until she does, I don’t really want her in my life.”

           “Hey,” you said gently, pushing his head off of your shoulder as his breath sped up so you could see him better.  “I get it.  That’s. That’s really shitty.”

           “Not as shitty as cheating on your dad and leaving you,” Yoongi muttered.

           “Let’s not fight about who has the worst mom, yeah?” you smirked, and Yoongi did, too.  “Has she ever been rude to Tae?  Or said anything rude about him?  Like, what does she think of Kwon?”

           “Oh, she had plenty to say about Kwon,” Yoongi said, rolling his eyes.  “Some totally true and justified.  But no, never towards Tae.  Never about Tae.”

           “Good,” you said, genuinely relieved.  “Do you think—”

           “What?”  Yoongi pried when you stopped.

           “Nothing, no, never mind, it’s not my place,” you rushed, trying to squirm away from him, but his hand held onto you tightly.

           “None of that, Y/N,” he said.  “What concerns Tae concerns me, and you, so just say it.”

           “No, I’m not his parent, so it’s really not my—”

           “Y/N,” Yoongi said sternly, “you’re raising him more than I am right now.  Say away.”

           “Okay,” you sighed.  “Don’t be mad.”  Yoongi only raised his eyebrow.  “I don’t really know, because my grandparents died when I was little, so, I don’t know, but would it be good for Tae's to be in his life more?”

           “What do you mean?”

           “I mean, does she want to talk to him more? Like you said, Tae probably barely even understands who she is to him or to you, but has he said he doesn’t like talking to her, or would like to talk to her less?”

           “No.”

           “So, not saying you would have to talk to her, but what if she could talk to Tae more?  I could arrange the calls—”

           “Y/N,” Yoongi said suddenly, and you bit your lip, waiting for him to get mad.  “I see your point.  I think, on the one hand, that would be fine.  On the other hand, do I sound crazy if I say I’m worried about her brain washing my kid against me?”

           “I mean,” you said slowly, watching his face for any sign of amusement, “sort of?”

           “Yeah,” he breathed, before smiling and kissing your forehead.  “She makes me feel crazy.  Was probably one of her goals all along.  Look,” he sighed, “I’m sorry if I was stressing you out.  It’s just a phone call.  I am really overreacting.”

           “No, Yoongi,” you said, “it’s okay.  Like I said, I get it.  If I knew my mom was planning on calling me.  I mean.  I wouldn’t answer.  But.  I guess, I just mean I think you’re doing the right thing for Tae.  Until something happens, I think he’s good for him to talk to her.  Yeah?”

           “Yeah,” Yoongi said, running his hands through your hair before kissing your head.

           “Sleep now?” you said, already reaching for one of his hands so you could position yourself on your side.  He only nodded, kissing your head again softly before settling down behind you.  As you felt him still and heard his breath slow, you realized he must be still stressed, as he rarely, if ever, fell asleep before you.  You only held his hand harder and curled tighter into him, wishing you could help in some other way.

           With the way Yoongi was clenching his teeth the next day, you were afraid he was going to have to go visit a dentist before the year was over.  He seemed to understand your concern, as every time you did make eye contact he tried to visibly relax, even if it didn’t seem to last long.  Still, when everyone came over for Tae’s birthday he put on a smile, and you were glad of that, hoping he really was having good time. As he had explained, there were no gifts for Tae, but Namjoon, Jimin, and Jungkook and Jin and Hoseok showered him with love anyway.  Everyone was as sweet and gross as always, but you were waiting for dinner to be over for them to all leave so Yoongi could call his mom for Tae.  The boy had been reminded throughout the day about the phone call in some attempt to prepare him, so after everyone had left Yoongi sat him down on the couch and video called his mom.  You sat across the room with your knees pulled up to your chest, not wanting to be in the way.  When another voice came from Yoongi’s phone, you watched his face intently.

           As they were both speaking in Korean, you couldn’t understand what they were saying, anyway, but soon Yoongi handed the phone to Tae who took it with both of his small hands.  Once his face wasn’t on the screen anymore, Yoongi smiled wearily over at you, and you tried to send him a reassuring smile back. There hadn’t been any screaming, not that you could imagine Yoongi ever yelling, or tears, but he seemed too emotionally stable for that to happen, only a creasing of his brow and a slight inflection in his voice that signified annoyance or irritation.  Tae chatted animatedly with his grandma, which didn’t surprise you, as Tae could have an engaging conversation with a dog or a new store clerk as if they were already best friends, while Yoongi sat too stiff beside him. At one point when Tae propped up his knees to rest the phone there, Yoongi looked over at you again and patted his thigh.  You cocked your head and shook it, but when he did it again you sighed and reluctantly let him pull you into his lap.  It was your turn to stiffen when he put his arms around you.  It wasn’t that you weren’t comfortable with the position, as it was one you had actually found yourself in more and more since Christmas, but Yoongi said something to Tae and took his phone back, and there was a Korean lady on the screen, the image of Yoongi and you at the bottom of his phone. You thought for a second of running away or of hiding, but instead you smiled when Yoongi’s grip on your waist tightened.  

           His mother looked smaller than Yoongi, somehow, but her eyes reflected the man in front of you so well there was no doubt about their resemblance.  She had on glasses that covered most of her face, and her hair was cut short, and while you couldn’t understand her, you could read the frown on her face.  Yoongi’s voice started to grow louder as he sighed and shifted you on his lap, and you sat there with an idiotic grin on your face, waiting for this odd meeting-his-mother to be over.  It wasn’t ideal or how you would have liked to have gone, but there was no stopping it. After what seemed like an eternity, Yoongi sighed again and said goodbye, a word you knew, and before the lady, his mom, could say anything else, the phone went black.  You sat for a moment in silence, swallowing awkwardly until Tae tried to climb into your lap.  Yoongi audibly huffed as air left his body from the extra weight.  

           “Why was she so upset with Y/N, daddy?” Yoongi looked at you and petted your hair, an odd but reassuring gesture nonetheless, before doing the same to Tae.

           “She was just trying to figure out who she is,” Yoongi said softly, watching you.  

           “What do you mean?  She’s Y/N,” Tae said simply, and Yoongi nodded.  “Why was she upset, then?”

           “I don’t know, Tae,” Yoongi sighed, and Tae frowned before snuggling closer to you.  

           “Did you have a good talk?” you asked him, and he nodded.

           “She was telling me all about Holly.”

           “Who’s Holly?”

           “Daddy’s dog,” Tae said, and you looked sadly at Yoongi who was clearly upset.  “Can’t we get a dog, daddy?”

           “Not yet, kid.  One day,” Yoongi promised, caressing his son’s head again before leaning his head back on the couch.

           “Did you have a good birthday?” you asked Tae, who nodded again.

           “Jungkook broke the rules though,” he said, and you hummed for him to continue.  “He brought me a present.”

           “Oh?” you said, and the boy shifted on your lap, causing Yoongi to groan again, digging around in his pocket to pull out what looked like a necklace.  It had a small wooden pendant on the end in the shape of a heart.  Jungkook had obviously worked hard on it; the details were immaculate, and a smaller heart had been cut out of the middle of it. The whole thing had been painted purple, though the grain of the wood showed through enough to give it a unique design.

           “I think we’ll let this one slide this time,” Yoongi said, taking the necklace from his son and putting it around his neck. It was a little big for him and hung almost all the way down to the top of his pants, but he smiled widely and started to toy with it, clearly excited that he was going to get to keep it. “Did you thank him?”  Tae nodded again, and, as he seemed to be crashing after the excitement of the day, you hurried to give him a bath and get him into bed.  You were keen on getting Yoongi alone to talk to, too, and the second you did you asked what had happened on the phone.

           “She thought you were an escort,” Yoongi said as he took off his clothes for the night as if it was the most casual thing to mention in the world.

           “Oh.  Did you. Have you.  Has she met one before?” you said, not sure how to word anything or how to react at all.

           “What?  No.  Of course not.”

           “How does she know?”

           “Oh, shit, there was this one time she called and I told her who I was with.”

           “Why–” you said.  Watching Yoongi’s casual attitude baffled you.  “Why would you do that?”

           “Why would I lie?” Yoongi said, folding his pants to put away.  You blinked and watched him approach the bed, not sure of what to say for the umpteenth time that day.  “I mean, maybe I did say it to piss her off.  Maybe at the time I wasn’t thinking clearly.”  You narrowed your eyes and he sighed as he flopped down beside you. “Okay, I wasn’t thinking clearly. Tae was two and terrible.  I know that’s cliché, but terrible twos are definitely a thing.  Imagine tantrum Tae but, like, every day.  Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what she thinks.  Plus, you’re not an escort, and she knows that now.”

           “What,” you said slowly before clearing your throat as he pulled you close, “what did you tell her?”

           “That you’re Tae’s nanny.  And my girlfriend.”

           “Oh,” you stumbled.  Yoongi smiled at you softly, but it turned in to a smirk when he saw you biting your lip.

           “Is that okay?”

           “Yeah,” you mumbled, “whatever you want.”

           “Alright, baby,” he mumbled back, kissing your forehead. “I want to sleep and not wake up in the morning.”

           “I’ll see what I can do,” you said, kissing him back before rolling over.  Needless to say, you did not let him sleep forever, but you did keep Tae away from him long enough to let him get a few extra hours of sleep.  After that, he seemed to be back to his normal self to your great relief.

           Of course, as soon as Yoongi had calmed down, you found yourself stressing more than normal.  He had warned you before Christmas about a New Years Party he wanted you attend with him, and you already had the dress and everything ready to go.  Your dad had volunteered to take Tae again, as everyone else was busy attending their own parties, and this time he was going to sleep over the whole night.  The idea, instead of making Tae nervous or worried, only excited him, as he had never had a sleepover before.  He was full of energy, as always, and ideas about what he and your dad could do.  You and Yoongi dropped him off early before dinner, then, and after kisses for luck and fun, you left, your nerves only increasing once the distraction of making sure Tae was fine was gone.  You couldn’t help but think of the last event you had attended with Yoongi that seemed ages ago.  

           This time, however, you knew you could stay close to him, and you planned on it.  The majority of the night passed in a blur. You avoided drinking for some reason, some fear of your age being found out and causing a problem for Yoongi dictating your actions, but tried not to be a “party pooper”; though, without fail, everyone who offered you something made some comment when you denied it. Part of you wanted to justify your denials by saying you were a recovering alcoholic to see their reactions, but, again, you didn’t want Yoongi’s reputation to be affected, so you smiled as sweetly as you could and were glad of Yoongi’s hand tightening around your waist each time as he struggled to keep a bright smile on his face, too.  Still, the whole night wasn’t a complete bust.  Some people he introduced you to, though you were too nervous to remember their names after the fact, were good company.  Most asked after Namjoon and Hoseok, and Yoongi enjoyed teasing his friends without their knowledge.  While you knew most people probably thought you were some escort, it didn’t bother you extensively as you were able to avoid the awkward questions about who you were or how you knew Yoongi.  Plus, the lady in the emerald dress didn’t seem to be there, and you couldn’t really imagine seeing most of these people again soon if you ever saw any of them again at all.  

           So you let Yoongi sit and people watch with you, laughing as he exposed the people he didn’t like and praised the people he did.  Yoongi, you learned, was a strong and loyal friend, and a fierce and harsh enemy. His good graces, once lost, seemed to be lost forever.  He didn’t seem to be getting drunk, which you appreciated, but he was on a steady plane of being comfortably buzzed the entire evening, his cheeks slightly flushed, and that made him smile more, which you couldn’t complain about.  And while you both were not dancers and both told each other adamantly that you wouldn’t and couldn’t dance, your joint refusal somehow led to you trying to outdo each other to prove who was the worst dancer, and you were both glad Hoseok and Jimin and Jungkook weren’t around to see your absolute failure.  Still, it led to you being breathless from laughing too hard and hanging loosely to each other as you resorted to swaying slightly as more elegant partners flowed around you.  The whole room was strewn with lights, gold and silver balloons littered the floor, and a variety of floral and musky smells mingled in the air as you and Yoongi drew closer and closer to each other, both not caring about anyone or anything else going on around you.  

           It was nice (“Nice?  Your New Years was ‘nice’? Y/N, that is the lamest thing I have ever heard.”  “Shut up, Jimin.  How was Jungkook?”  “Oh, so good, damn, Y/N—” “Wait, I don’t want to know, I didn’t mean to ask.”  “He does this thing—” “Oh my God, shut up, no, no—”). But then Yoongi stopped.  You were barely moving to begin with, but you noticed him stiffen in your arms, and you lifted your head off of his shoulder to look up at him.  He was staring over and past you, and you almost turned around, but his hand reached up to cup your face.

           “Kwon is here,” he said, and something about those three words made you want to freeze like a frightened animal and turn around to see her to see how you compared to her and run away because you didn’t belong here and face her to give her a piece of mind—they made you want to do a lot of things, most of them contradicting with each other, and in the end you grabbed Yoongi’s collar.

           “Kiss me,” you said, and he blinked before complying. You didn’t let him go after one kiss, though, and held onto him until he pulled at the back of your head, the tug forcing you away from his mouth.  You pouted and bit your lip before grabbing his face and pulling him down toward you. “Kiss me, I said,” you repeated, and Yoongi smirked slightly before obeying, the hand behind your head leaving to press on the small of your back.  When you felt him bite your lip, you let go of his face to let him have complete control, and he tilted your head to trail kisses down your neck. Your dress’ neckline was too high for him to get very far, but his fingers running up and down your ear while his lips grazed over your skin made you shiver and hold onto him again.  “Yoongi,” you whispered, and he hummed against your neck for an answer.  “Is she gone?”  He didn’t stop moving even as he answered.

           “Nope, still there.  Want me to stop now?”

           “Not really,” you said as he kissed the tip of your ear, “but I guess we should stay decent.”

           “Fuck that,” he groaned gruffly, but he slowly pulled away from you after kissing up your jaw.

           “Should we—do you want to go say hi?” you said, smoothing down his blazer and tugging on his tie as you cleared your throat.

           “Decent behavior and all that dictates that we should, I guess.”

           “Yoongi, we don’t have to.”

           “No, I.  I mean, are you okay?” he said, not looking over your shoulder anymore to look down at you.  He tucked a tuff of your hair behind your ear and let his hand linger on your neck, and you were sure he could feel your pulse racing under his touch.

           “I’m curious but also don’t want you to be uncomfortable,” you shrugged, fixing your dress even though it wasn’t even disrupted.

           “Only if you’re uncomfortable.”

           “Look, let’s not argue,” you smiled teasingly, “and just go say hi.”

           “Okay,” Yoongi said, nodding his head once and taking your hand.  The second he turned you around and started walking across the room, you felt yourself tug on his hand to stop, though, and he did, already glancing over at you with a concerned look on his face.  “Y/N?” Even across the room you could see how beautiful she was.  And how much Tae resembled her.  Something about the shape of her face and the way she was standing.  She was watching the pair of you intently, though her lips were curved barely at their edges, and you remembered each time Tae had tried to win an argument with you or when he got so passionate about something he liked he teetered on the edge of getting angry.

           “Yoongi,” you almost whispered, “I want to support you, really, I do, and I don’t want to be rude, and I know she’s not my mom, but I kind of hate her.”

           “Hey,” Yoongi said softly, his hand on your back rubbing small circles over your dress, “I get it.  We can just leave.  Or I’ll go by myself.  It’s not a problem.”

           “I don’t want to let you down,” you said, looking at him now.  He smiled and pressed a kiss to your forehead and lingered there for a moment.

           “You won’t.  Promise.  Whatever you want to do.”

           “She’s not my mom,” you whispered again.

           “Not your mom.  Not my mom.  Not Tae’s mom, either.”

           “What?” you said gently.  

           “You and I don’t really have moms, Y/N. Neither does Tae.  Women who birthed us, sure, but yours left you.  Mine didn’t support me when I needed it most.  Tae’s left him.  Moms are supposed to love and support and be there, you know?”

           “I know,” you said softly, reaching over to squeeze his free hand.

           “You’re Tae’s mom more than Kwon is, by that definition, you know.”

           “I,” you chocked, something warm stirring in your stomach that you couldn’t name.  “Yeah.  Yeah. Okay, let’s go say hi.”

           “Just hi, yeah?  No fights,” Yoongi joked, and you squeezed his hand before letting it go.

           “I can guarantee nothing,” you said, walking once again with him.  You weren’t sure what to do with your face.  Did you put on a look of disgust?  Did you remain casual and act apathetic?  Did you pretend you didn’t know who she was?  Did you act like you did know?  Did you need to keep breathing?  (“Yes, Y/N”).

           “Yoongi,” she was saying, her voice deeper than you had expected, and you found yourself stopping a few feet away from her.

           “Kwon,” Yoongi said politely.  Her smile had widened when you had come up, but it returned to being barely there now.  “This is Y/N.”

           “Hello,” you said, hopefully smiling politely.

           “I didn’t know you were in town,” Yoongi said before she could respond.

           “Oh, just here for a few days.  Nell insisted on meeting in person instead of just sending files back and forth.  Something about needing a face to the voice,” she said, waving the idea away.

           “He could have looked on the internet,” Yoongi said, and you were surprised there was no bitterness in his tone.

           “You know pictures never do me justice,” Kwon said seriously, and Yoongi pressed his lips together.  The woman put down the drink she was holding and ran her hands down her thighs.  “Well, how is Taehyung?”

           “Tae is great,” Yoongi said, the tiniest sound of anger finally coming through.

           “Does he,” Kwon said, finally looking away and looking uncomfortable for the first time, “ask about me?”

           “He doesn’t know about you,” Yoongi said, and the look Kwon shot him almost made you feel bad for her.  “And he doesn’t ask about his mom much anymore.  I think he gets now that he doesn’t have one.”

           “Does.  Does he want one?”

           “Of course he does, Kwon.  Every kid needs a mom.”

           “Do you think I could see him?” she said, looking away again.  Yoongi finally broke as he scoffed.

           “No, Kwon, you can’t.  You gave up that right years ago.  Now, if you’ll excuse us,” he said, pulling gently on your back.  You tilted your head toward the woman briefly before she tried once last time.

           “You’re not taking her home to him, are you?” Yoongi’s grip on your back tightened so much you could feel his fingers digging into your flesh, and even with only his profile in view you could see his eyes narrow and his nostrils flare.

           “Considering she’s my girlfriend, I think that’s exactly where I’ll be taking her,” he said, not even turning around to address her. Your eyes flickered over to Kwon to see her open her mouth, but Yoongi tugged on you again, and you weren’t opposed to leaving without another word.  Yoongi mumbled under his breath in Korean, which worried you more than anything else, until your car pulled up, and he opened the door for you to get in before walking around to get in on his side, but the second he shut the door behind him he pulled at your hand.  You scooted across the leather seats to sit in the middle next to him, but he pulled at you so much you sighed before sitting sideways in his lap, your arms thrown around his neck.

           “This is really dangerous,” you mumbled, but he only grumbled and pulled at the seatbelt, cursing under his breath when it got stuck several times as he tried to pull it out too quickly until he buckled it around both of you.  “Yoongi,” you said, smoothing out his hair and hopefully his nerves.

           “How dare she,” he hissed, a fist on your back and his other hand tight on your thigh.

           “Hey,” you said, kissing his cheek, “it’s okay. We said hi.  We remained calm, right?  No fights.  All decent and civil and mature.”

           “I just can’t believe,” Yoongi sighed, leaning his head back in the seat.  You continued to run your hands over his face and then started to undo his tie and undo his top buttons, hoping he could calm down faster that way.  His hand on your thigh did loosen, and he rubbed over your skin before running his hand up and down your leg, the movement soothing for you but probably more so for himself.  His eyes closed and he sighed by the time you got his tie off, and you moved to playing with the hair on the back of his neck and nuzzling under his chin as his hand on your back started rubbing in small circles.  “I just can’t believe she assumed that about you,” he finally said.

           “It was a power move,” you said, leaning into his shoulder.  “An oldie but a goodie.”

           “It was a bitch move,” Yoongi muttered, and you stifled a laugh.

           “Did you feel super masculine, defending me like that?”

           “Maybe,” Yoongi huffed.  “Maybe just felt good to tell her off.”

           “Are you secretly petty, Yoongi?”

           “Not a secret.  Everyone knows,” he snorted.

           “Are you going to be okay?”

           “Of course,” he said, and you believed him.

           “It’s been a stressful couple of days,” you mumbled, and he hummed in agreement.

           “It could have been worse.”

           “True.  Most things could be,” you said, and you felt Yoongi laugh.

           “I meant you’ve been helpful.  Having you around is nice.”

           “Nice?”

           “It’s good.  It’s.  I’m glad you’re around.”

           “Okay,” you said, lifting your head up to look at him. He looked tired but no longer upset, and you considered that a success.  “I’m glad to be around then.  Glad to be of service.”

           “Don’t.  Don’t say that.  That’s weird,” he said, scrunching his nose.

           “Oh?  Is there anything else I can do for you tonight, sir?” you teased, running your finger down his nose before undoing another one of his shirt’s buttons.

           “Are you-are you trying to seduce me?”

           “Is it working?” you said, cocking your head and biting your lip.

           “I mean,” he said, looking down at your hands and back up your face as he moved his hand further up your thigh.  “I don’t know what the correct answer is here.  I feel like whatever I say I’m going to get in trouble.”

           “Wow, you are a genius,” you said, grabbing his chin and pressing your thumb lightly against his bottom lip.  “Maybe you just shouldn’t say anything at all.”

           “What’s gotten into you?” he said, smiling warily. You shrugged before holding his cheeks so you could kiss his forehead.

           “Maybe I want to mark my territory.”

           “Is that a masculinity thing?” Yoongi said seriously, his hand moving to your hip and twisting you slightly toward him more. You got the joke but didn’t answer as you kissed his neck.  “I mean, I’m a little offended you see me as a mere possession.  I belong to no man.”

           “I’d hope not,” you said, smiling against his neck before moving your hands so you could kiss his cheeks.  “That would be awkward.”

           “Hey, Y/N,” Yoongi said, and you stilled, waiting for him to continue.  “Happy new year.”  You whipped your head around to look at the clock on the car’s dashboard.  It was already well passed midnight, and you wondered when you had missed the hour passing by.

           “Happy new year,” you said as you turned back around, but you were cut off by Yoongi surging up to kiss you.  Trying not to smile or gasp into it, you kissed him back as well as you could.  You only felt a little bad about JaeEun in the front seat having to hear the two of you make out, but you were home too quickly for you to worry too much about what he was thinking about his boss and the boss’ kid’s nanny.  You both wished him a happy new year as you raced into the house, and you both struggled up the stairs in the dark because something was apparently hilarious even though neither of you had said anything since you had gotten out of the car.  And then you were standing in his room like you did every night, and he closed the door as he did every night, and you found yourself saying,

           “Tae’s not home.”

           “Oh yeah,” Yoongi said, turning slowly away from the door.  He looked at you for a moment, clearly wanting to ask or say something, but for the time being he only closed the space between you and kissed you again.  Your dress had long sleeves, but you somehow felt cold, and you shivered when his hands started to roam over your arms and down your back.  He had ditched his blazer already somewhere, and you were afraid you had left his tie in the car, and you tried your best to finish unbutton his shirt as he kissed you, but your eyes kept closing when your fingers fumbled.  Finally, you finished your goal, feeling very proficient at multi-tasking, and felt yourself melt a little as a rush of warmth spread through you.  Yoongi didn’t move his hands away from you to finish taking off his shirt, though, and instead starting to pull down on your dress’ zipper.  Your head pulled away from him immediately, and you rushed to grab onto his shirt to steady yourself.

           “Yoongi,” you said, barely audible, but your hesitation spoke volumes.  Yoongi’s hand stilled on your zipper as he looked into your eyes and hummed. “J-Jimin once said that it’s more intimate to sleep with someone than to sleep with someone, you know?”  At the inflection in your voice to differentiate between the words two meanings, Yoongi nodded slowly.  “And I told him that’s crazy.  Because.  I mean, what’s more intimate than sex?  It’s. It’s like you’re temporarily becoming one with that other person, right?  Right?” Yoongi nodded again, his face clearly worried.  His hand had moved to your clothed hip where he was rubbing circles with his thumb.

           “Y/N, are you, uh, speaking from experience?” (“I can’t believe you’re still a virgin, Y/N.”  “Oh? Why’s that, Jimin?  I’d love to know your opinion on the matter.”  “I just mean, who’s a virgin at twenty?” “Responsible people.”  “Prudes, you mean.”  “I am not a prude, Jimin.”  “What are you waiting for, then?  Y/N?”). You swallowed and shook your head for an answer, and when Yoongi sighed slightly your stomach tightened.  You braced yourself for the judgement.  The rejection.  “Y/N, we don’t have to do anything.”

           “Wait,” you said, holding tightly to his shirt hanging limply on his body, “I just.  What do you think?”

           “Sorry?  About what?”

           “About.  About what’s more intimate.  Did we do all of this backwards?”

           “I think,” Yoongi said slowly, removing your hand from his shirt but only so he could wrap your fingers together.  “You should stop listening to Jimin about such things.  And, maybe we’re not being very traditional, but I never have been.  I don’t know if you know this,” he whispered, brushing your hair out of your face, his eyes lingering on the top of your head for a moment before he looked back into your eyes, “but I’m actually not a relationship expert.”

           “Oh?” you whispered back jokingly.

           “I know, it’s a shocker.  I’m so successful and powerful and good looking, and yet I don’t really have trouble with the ladies.”

           “Based on how many ladies I know you’ve—”

           “Yeah, okay, don’t you know playful flirting when you hear it?” Yoongi glared, his eyes twinkling.  You pouted innocently.

           “Believe it or not, but I’m not actually a relationship expert.  I understand not the ways of men or how to woo one.”

           “Ah, so I am merely a catch of convenience?”

           “What?  No,” you said, suddenly serious.  “No, I mean, there’s no way I would have met you otherwise, but I’m not here just because you’re here.  If that makes sense,” you ended lamely.  Yoongi squeezed your hand as he nodded, a small smile on his lips.

           “Okay.  And to answer your question, I think it depends on the person and the purpose behind the act.  Which is a lame way of saying I can’t answer you.  What I consider intimate may not be what you consider intimate.”

           “That makes sense,” you mumbled, staring down at the buttons on his shirt as your face started to feel too warm.

           “And sometimes, with intimacy, since the word literally means closeness or the state of being close, one act of intimacy may show closeness while another may not, or one person may, in one state of being, require a certain act of intimacy that they might not in ano—”

           “Okay, professor,” you said, patting his chest to shut him up.  “No need to go all dictionary on me.”

           “I just mean, that, if you, for instance, asked me what was more intimate, as I imagine you’re going to or want to,” Yoongi said, pinching your hip lightly so that you looked back up at him, “I would say it depends.  Sometimes what is most intimate for me is to just converse with someone.  Sometimes it’s sex.  Sometimes it’s just holding hands.”

           “Hand stuff,” you mumbled.  Yoongi smirked as he rolled his eyes.

           “I’m sorry if I, uh, ruined the mood,” you said, casting your eyes down again.  Yoongi dropped your hand so he could lift your chin up, and once you were looking at him he pressed a slow kiss to your lips.

           “I don’t ever,” he said, pressing his lips against your cheek, “want you to be uncomfortable.  You ruined nothing.”  His fingers moved behind your ear as he reached up to kiss your forehead.  “If the only intimacy you want with me is cuddling and holding hands, that would be enough for me.”

           “What?” you said, leaning your head away from him so you could see his face clearly.  

           “I mean, if you never want to have sex with me, that’s okay.”

           “That’s,” you stuttered.  “You can’t mean that?”

           “What?” Yoongi said, copying your stance as his torso moved away from yours as he looked at you.  “What do you mean I can’t mean that?”

           “I mean,” you bit your lip, “you’re a guy, and—"

           “Wow, is this one of those masculinity things?” Yoongi grumbled, your own words sounding playful on his lips even though your stomach flipped in embarrassment.  “Look, Y/N,” Yoongi said almost too softly, “I don’t know what Jimin has told you, or whoever else has made you think I’m some sex-crazed monster with no control—”

           “I don’t think you’re—”

           “But, believe it or not, I am actually pretty lazy when it comes to a lot of things.  And, like I mentioned, I like making other people feel good.  So we can go as slow as you want.  I’d prefer not to regress, but however we progress is up to you.”

           “I,” you said lamely, furrowing your brows. “Shouldn’t.  Shouldn’t it be up to both of us?”

           “Well, yeah, of course,” Yoongi said, smiling gently. His hand had never left your neck, and you felt yourself calm down a little as he scratched at your scalp.  “Look, it’s good to talk about this stuff.  But I do wonder where you got the ideas that all men are going to expect sex from you and that relationships require sex.”

           “Yoongi.  Are you serious?” you almost scoffed.  Yoongi cocked his head and then his eyes went a little wide.

           “Oh, shit.  Wait, I take it back about that first part.  Yeah, us guys, uh, we can be pretty shit.  I’m sorry.  Or, I mean, I’m not apologizing for all men, because I can’t do that, but I’m sorry you think that.  Or, no, that you were expecting me to be like everyone else.  Or.  I’m not sure what I’m sorry about,” Yoongi huffed, and you smiled endearingly at him as you squeezed the wrist of his hand that was threatening to leave your neck.

           “It’s okay, I get it.  I’m the one who should apologize for thinking that.  It was really immature of me.”

           “Baby,” Yoongi said, the word making you blush as his thumb brushed over your cheek, “you’re being really mature talking to me about this, you know?”  You mumbled incoherently when he smiled at you and continued.  “What about the other part?  Do you really think relationships need sex to work?”

           “No, no,” you said, shaking your head.  “I know that’s not the most important thing. I mean.  I don’t know, Yoongi,” you sighed, leaning forward until your forehead rested on his shoulder.  “I don’t want to be serious and mature anymore right now.  It’s making my brain hurt.”  Yoongi hummed into your hair as he wrapped his arms around you.

           “What do you want to do then, baby?”  You shrugged against him and he hummed again and let the room fall quiet.  You breathed him in, slipping your hands under his shirt so you could put your arms around him, too, and didn’t fight the silence that fell between the two of you. There was plenty to be said in the silence, anyway, as your hearts beat and you breathed in perfect rhythm with each other.  The warmth that had been spreading throughout you and the storm in your stomach had cooled and calmed down by the time Yoongi hummed again and nuzzled his nose into your hair.

           “This is nice, really,” he mumbled, “but I need you to tell me what you want to do.”

           “What do you want to do?” you said, and you could feel Yoongi smiling against your forehead as he moved his head.

           “I asked you first,” he said, but before you could respond, he chuckled and continued, “but I guess I’d like to go to sleep now.”

           “You guess?  Is that really what you want to do?” you said, knowing you were searching for a certain answer and thus not allowing yourself to meet his gaze.  He shrugged noncommittedly.

           “Alternatively, I could ravish you until you were screaming my name.”

           “Is that some masculinity thing?” you grimaced, peeling away from him and wrinkling your nose.  Yoongi laughed at the sight and tried to kiss the creases on your forehead away, but you kept your lips pressed together.

           “Sorry, sorry,” he laughed again, not really sounding apologetic at all.  “But since we just agreed that how we progress is up to both of us, the serious answer is I’d like to keep kissing you and see where that leads us.  But, if you want to just go to sleep or stand here in these uncomfortable clothes, then I will gladly do that, too.”

           “These clothes are pretty uncomfortable,” you said after a moment, your arms leaving Yoongi’s torso so you could hold onto the front of his shirt.  He pressed his lips together and raised his eyebrows, waiting for you to continue. You toyed with one of his buttons as you thought.  “I mean, I think I’d like to do that, too.”

           “Do what?” Yoongi said, and you sighed, squirming slightly.

           “Kiss and stuff,” you managed.

           “And stuff?” Yoongi said, obviously smiling.

           “Yeah,” you sighed again, looking up at him finally to, sure enough, see him smiling down at you, though his smile was a little softer than you were expecting.  “Now. Are you effectively wooed?”

           “So wooed,” he laughed, swooping down to kiss you. There was something breathtaking about Yoongi’s kisses (“That is so cliché, Y/N, you’re worse than the worst chick flicks.”  “I am not. It is not.  It’s just.  No.” “Convincing.”  “I.  It’s not.” “Okay, sure.”  “I.  I mean…What’s the worst chick flick?"), and you gripped his shirt tightly so you didn’t fall backwards as he leaned down into you.  The way he kissed you made your stomach begin to jump again and sent a rush of warmth throughout your body even while goosebumps popped up on your arms, and you half whimpered into his mouth when a shiver shot through you when you felt his fingers touching the zipper on the back of your dress again.  He pulled his lips away from you at that and searched your face even while his hands continued, and you tugged him back down toward you, encouraging him to keep kissing you.  He quickly complied, and while the dress had been long enough for you to not feel self-conscious all night, the realization of how much of your body was covered hit you when he started to pull down one of the shoulders.

           Your eyes had flitted shut as you had kissed, but you opened them as you pulled away to breathe and bite your lip only to notice Yoongi already looking at you, his eyes so close your own flickered back and forth over them.  You felt his fingers on your other bare shoulder, and you knew you were going to have to let go of him for the long sleeves to come off all of the way, so you reluctantly did, pulling at both of your arms in a hurry so you could grab Yoongi again.  Before you even felt the dress pooling at your feet, you held his shirt again and tried to control the shiver that jolted you as the cold air hit your body by pulling him in for another kiss.  For a moment, his hands seemed to disappear, and you slowed down, doubt creeping into you, but the second you stopped Yoongi said your name and took a deep breath as he pressed his forehead against yours.  

           His hands, as always, were at first cold when he smoothed them over your back, but his touch soon warmed as he ran them up and down your spine and rubbed them back and forth over your sides.  Relieved, you copied his movements to slip your hands under his shirt again and feel the muscles contracting in his back.  It was nice (“Nice?  Y/N, either tell me properly or never tell me anything again”).  Every time you thought you were too cold, standing there with too much bare skin, Yoongi’s hands would reach a little lower on your back or would grab your hips firmly, and you would falter in kissing him. He was not oblivious to the fact, clearly, based on the way his next kiss was more smirk than anything else, and something about the fact that he was making you so flustered while he seemed immune made you annoyed.

           “Take this off,” you huffed, your face flushed, as you flapped his shirt in your hands.  He chuckled lightly but pulled his arms away from you so he could obey. But as soon as his shirt was off you stood there lamely for a moment, staring at him.  He shifted his weight to one of his hips and floofed the back of his hair once before saying,

           “What?  You see my shirtless every day.”  Something about his tone sounded suddenly too shy, and you stuttered, feeling too hot again.

           “I know.  But that.  It’s.” (“It’s like, there are different types of intimacy, you know?”  “I think I know, considering I’m the one you had that conversation with.”  “Shut up, I’m trying to be mature here.”  “Maybe don’t smack me next time then?  Or, ow, okay, I mean, I’m listening. Intimacy?  Continue”).

           “Oh, it’s probably weird with my pants on. You’re used to me without the pants,” Yoongi rambled, tugging them off so quickly you had no time to stop him or even comment.

           “Yoongi,” you said, trying to hold back a laugh when he stood up.

           “Yeah, baby?” he said, and you couldn’t help but smile as his brow creased.  “Oh, shit, did you want to take them off for me?  I could—”

           “No,” you said, laughing outright then, especially as he actually started to squat down, “no, wow, are you always like this with the ladies?”

           “What, a bumbling idiot?” he said, grinning. You shrugged and crossed your arms over your stomach due to another wave of cold moving through you.  “Honestly, no.”

           “Why, then,” you said, staring off into the corner of the ceiling for a moment.  “Am I? Are you sure you—”

           “Y/N,” Yoongi assured you, grabbing your wrist gently to pull you closer to him until you were pressed against his chest. “It’s different when I care more about the other person than myself.  Just want to make you feel good.”  His voice rumbled as his arms wrapped around you again, and you shivered when he whispered into your ear.  “Let me take care of you.”

           “Yoongi,” you sighed, your hands cupping his face as he guided himself down your neck, alternating between pecking lightly at your thinnest patches of skin and sucking on them harshly enough to make your breath hitch.  “Yoongi,” you managed again as your eyes struggled to focus when he got to your collarbone and his hands gripped your hips tightly to hold you still.  All thoughts of his immunity to what was happening flew out of your mind when he closed the tiny space still separating you two, his hips flush against yours.  “Yoongi,” you gasped, your fingers curling around his cheeks at the pressure.

           “Baby,” Yoongi said, his voice somehow lower than you had ever heard it, and you let him kiss you fervently as he rolled his hips once, the sensation making you somehow gasp into his mouth.

           “Yoongi,” you said, tugging on his hair enough to pull him away from your face enough so you could look at him.  His hands were roaming again, though one of them seemed to have found its spot on your upper thigh, his thumb toying with the edge of your underwear.  

           “Okay?” he said, and you nodded slowly before biting your lip.

           “Can-can you go slow?  And be gentle with me?”

           “You’re asking the man whose biggest kink is hand-holding,” Yoongi smirked, and you slapped his chest playfully, which only made him smirk wider, “so, yeah, of course I can.”  The smile and kiss he gave you was so gentle and so filled with love (love?) that you almost melted.  True to his word, he moved slowly as he finished undressing you, his fingers so gentle but grounding and his eyes constantly checking on you that you were afraid you would fall over from shivering at his every touch.  You were grateful when he stopped you from biting your lips too much in your apprehension by kissing you again, and you were grateful that the bed was so close and warm as you laid down.  Still, you squirmed when he stood by the bed for a moment, not liking him looking at you if he wasn’t touching you, and you reached out for him.  He bit his lip then before bringing up his foot to take off his socks, and you immediately scrambled forward to stop him.

           “No way, leave those on.”

           “What?” he said, blinking up at you, his fingers stilling on his foot.  

           “Your feet are freezing.  No way.  Leave on your socks.”

           “You know that that is the epitome of lazy, vanilla sex, right?  Sex with socks on,” Yoongi snorted, but he put his foot down as you pulled on his thigh.

           “Don’t care.  Rather not ruin the mood with your freezing appendages.”

           “Oh, right, can’t ruin the mood,” he smirked before snapping the waistband of his boxers.  “Can I take these off?”    

           “I don’t know, can you?” you said, half sitting up on the bed, just wanting him to help warm you up again.

           “I’ll do my best,” he smirked before doing just that. You pulled your hand away from him and tried to watch his face and not bite your lip as you waited but were ultimately unsuccessful in both.  “Hey,” you heard him whisper, and you did look up at him, then, especially when he took your hand as he climbed onto the bed and kissed each of your knuckles.

           “Hey,” you whispered back as you let him push you back.  You knew his sheets were some of the softest you had ever felt, but something about them brushing against your bare skin for the first time made you sigh, especially when Yoongi’s hands roamed up your side and down your arms soothingly as you looked up at him.  Just like you wanted, you were no longer cold as you felt his legs slot in between yours, his chest occasionally touching yours as he leaned down to kiss you again and work slowly down your neck.  Almost instinctively, you tilted your head aside when he started to kiss under your ear, and you finally moved your arms that had been laying uselessly against the sheets.  You had no idea what to do, what he liked, except for hand holding, and you weren’t about to just lay there and hold his hand.  You were content with the one running up your thigh and the other one steadying himself so he didn’t press his entire weight on you.  Hoping you weren’t doing anything wrong, you let one of your arms wrap around his shoulders while the other one trailed down to his hip, and when you squeezed him gently he pulled away from your neck to look at you.  His eyes were wide and dark but there was enough of a look of concern in them as you blinked at each other that made you swallow hard before biting your lip.

           “Hey, Yoongi?” you said, reaching tentatively to touch him.  “What’s this?”

           “That’s my penis,” he said seriously, thankfully not missing a beat.  He had stopped moving when you had started, but you could tell he was trying to control his breathing as he blinked rapidly.

           “Ew, I hate that word,” you said, grabbing his hip instead.  He let out a tiny sigh before he grabbed your hip, too.

           “Dick?”  Yoongi tried, cocking his head, one eyebrow raised.

           “Too vulgar,” you shook your head.

           “Cock?”

           “Ew, no, worse,” you said, sticking your tongue out.

           “I don’t have another name for it,” Yoongi said, tsking.

           “Oh, thank God,” you sighed exaggeratedly, rolling your eyes.

           “Okay,” he said before stilling again and blinking down at you.  He shook his head, his hair falling into his eyes.  “Did you.  Sorry. I’m getting a bit of whiplash.”

           “Sorry, sorry,” you laughed, putting both of your hands on his shoulders and nodding once, setting your face seriously again. “I’m ready.”

           “That,” he breathed, frowning down at you. “Don’t make that face.”

           “Sorry,” you pouted.  “It’s the only one I’ve got.”

           “No, I just mean,” Yoongi sighed, shaking his head again.  “Let’s rewind.”

           “Right,” you nodded again.  “Hey, Yoongi, what’s this?” you smirked, reaching down for him again.  You were afraid your fingers were too cold when he shuddered and leaned his head down and sucked in a breath, his hair tickling your collarbones.  

           “That’s,” he tried as you bit back a smile.

           “Wh-what are you going to do with this?” you said, trying to sound innocent while you teased him.

           “Well, I was going to put it in your vagina,” Yoongi said, looking back up at you again, and you almost snorted but only slightly opened your mouth.

           “What for?  Is that some masculinity thing?”

           “Dear God,” Yoongi breathed before gritting his teeth.  Before you could touch him again he pulled your hand away and slammed it down onto the mattress near your head.  Your eyes went comically wide.  “I don’t know,” he grinned, “I hear it feels good.  I wouldn’t know, honestly.”

           “You’re not really selling this whole sex thing well,” you frowned.

           “Y/N, look, we can stop if you want,” Yoongi said too seriously.  You were starting to get whiplash, too.

           “No, no,” you said, hastening to sober up. “Sorry, sorry, I’m using awkward humor to cope with how nervous I am.”

           “Oh,” Yoongi said, stilling again.  He immediately let go of your wrist and resorted to caressing your cheek lightly instead, and the touch, while his fingers were warm, sent another shiver through you.  “Baby, what are you nervous about?”  You shrugged and wiggled against the sheets, staring at Yoongi’s other hand resting near your head.

           “Afraid it will hurt.  Or I’ll disappoint you.”

           “Y/N,” Yoongi said firmly, pulling your face back to look at him.  “You won’t. You won’t disappoint me, no. Don’t worry.  And the second anything hurts, you stop me.  Yeah?  Let me know. Slap me if you have to.”

           “And you say you’re vanilla,” you said, rolling your eyes, but you smiled fondly up at him before nodding again and sliding your hands over his shoulders and up to his face.  Yoongi rolled his eyes, too, before kissing you again, slowly and gently just like he promised.  You understood, more and more as he kissed you and touched you and took care of you and made you feel good that Yoongi, above all else, simply desired intimacy, closeness, a chance to feel connected to someone, and while the method may change from deep conversations to sitting in silence together to hand holding to kissing to having sex, the result was always going to be the same.  You were both left breathless, full, complete, satisfied.  You only hoped the growing love you had for him was reciprocated, and that Yoongi didn’t want to be intimate with just anyone, but with only you.

Chapter Text

           Making New Years’ resolutions seemed like an excuse to set yourself up for failure, or a way for people to feel accomplished and good about themselves for only a temporary amount of time, so, needless to say, you had never bothered to set any.  Still, if setting yourself the goal of being with Yoongi again was a New Years’ resolution, then count yourself on board the resolution train.  Even though you had only gotten a few hours of sleep, your body naturally woke you up, and you felt energetic if not a little sore, the air crisp and new like the prospects a new day and new year brought. While you wouldn’t mind lying around all day in bed next to Yoongi, life went on, and you had plans with Jimin today. Not even bothering to look at the clock, a little giddy about how early it felt, you slunk out of bed, wincing a little as Yoongi mumbled something in his sleep and went to the bathroom.  You shivered the whole way there and the whole way back, so you stopped by his drawers to pull on a shirt and found your underwear to put back on before you climbed half-way back in bed.  Your stirring disrupted Yoongi enough for him to groan and open an eye which he promptly shut even while he smiled.

           “Hey,” he said, his voice hoarse.

           “Hey,” you said, brushing his hair aside to see his face.  He shut his eyes tighter before sticking out his tongue a little at the action.  When you went to do it again, his eyes flew open and he shuffled closer to you, wrapping an arm around your legs.

           “Hey,” he said again, “hi, how are you?”

           “Okay,” you laughed.

           “You sure?  Not sore or anything?”

           “Uh, a little,” you said, wrinkling your nose. He looked so concerned up at you that your heart twinged.  “I got up to pee and it stung a little.  Is that normal?”

           “Shit, I’m sorry.  I mean, yeah, but let me know if it keeps up.  Though it may have just been from the cold,” Yoongi said, his hand rubbing up and down your thigh.

           “What?”

           “Well, this one time I pissed, and it stung so bad I thought I had a UTI.  Turns out I was just freezing and pee is warm.”

           “Huh, who knew?” you snorted.  Yoongi hummed and moved until his other arm came around your back as you sat against the headboard.  “Uh, speaking of freezing, that better not be a toe I feel.”  Yoongi froze slightly.

           “I think I lost a sock.”

           “Get it off me,” you said, and the cold pressure on your leg left.

           “Okay, okay.”  You took his hand on your leg into your hands and started to play with his fingers, knowing you should get up but not wanting to move.  “So,” Yoongi said, clearing his throat.  “What’s the verdict?”

           “On sex?  Eight out of ten, I guess.”

           “I meant sleeping without clothes, but, okay. Wait, why only eight?”

           “An eight is good.  You should be happy.”

           “But why an eight?” Yoongi huffed, making you laugh. “For all you know, I’m a ten.”

           “Wow.  Big man,” you scoffed.

           “I mean...”

           “An eight is good but leaves room for improvement.”

           “Okay,” Yoongi hummed.  “I’ll think about it.”

           “As for sleeping naked, can you not see I’m clearly wearing a shirt?  Sleeping naked is way too cold.  I don’t know how you do it.”

           “Is this my shirt?” Yoongi said, picking at the hem of it that was barely covering your thighs.

           “Yes.  Don’t be all masculine about it.”

           “I’m going to be so masculine.  Go pee again or something so I can see how it barely covers your thighs,” Yoongi said, pinching your hip playfully.

           “God, you’re gross,” you said, laughing. Yoongi shifted again until you felt something on your leg.  “That was not an invitation to be grosser.  Don’t you dare touch me with your toes.”  He grumbled but listened, and you thought in the silence as you kept playing with his fingers.  “So, while we’re in the throes of being intimate, can I ask you a questions?”

           “Throes?” Yoongi chuckled.  “Of course, baby.”

           “Did you.  Did you ever do this with any of them?” you said softly, looking down at Yoongi’s profile and noticing his eyes looking up at you.

           “Them?”

           “The ladies.”

           “Do what?” Yoongi said, trying to get you to clarify, but you shrugged.

           “Talk?  Discuss the pros and cons of sleeping naked?”

           “No,” Yoongi said simply.  “No, they never slept over.”

           “Right.”

           “Y/N,” Yoongi said, taking control of his hand to push yours down into your lap.  You sighed and leaned back, letting him curl and uncurl his fingers over your stomach.

           “I think I’m thinking about comparing myself.”

           “Why?  Why would you do that?”  You shrugged again.

           “It’s the human condition.”

           “Well, don’t.  There’s no need to,” Yoongi said, because he made everything sound so simple and easy.  You huffed anyway.

           “I just.  I thought I was an only child for so long.  I had no one to compete with.  The idea of being better than other people was, is, really foreign to me. I don’t want to be like this.  I think.  I’m afraid it’s an insecurity thing.

           “Y/N,” Yoongi said slowly, “what are you afraid of?”

           “Not measuring up?  I’m not as pretty or talented as Kwon or—”

           “Okay,” Yoongi said firmly, sitting up and pulling you half-way into his lap.  “I need you to stop.  We’re not going to fight, and I’m not angry, but I need you to not talk about her when we’re in bed.  Or.  At all.  That’s fine, too.”

           “Sorry,” you muttered, staring at your lap, and Yoongi sighed.  You knew he wasn’t disappointed, but it still made you feel embarrassed.

           “Don’t be.  You are different from her.  She and I. We made a great team, but it never should have gotten physical.  I don’t regret Tae at all, but we took it too far.  You and I make a great team, too, but not in the business sense.  She and I didn’t banter or flirt much.  We were both like me in terms of just always saying what we wanted or thought.  And that can be great.  But not necessarily romantic.  I don’t know,” Yoongi sighed again, his hands clearly trying to calm the pair of you. “Look, Y/N, the point is is you’re here with me, and I want you here with me.  Like I said, I want us to progress, whatever that may look like.”

           “I want that, too, I promise,” you said, looking up at him.  “I’m sorry if talking about all of this is regression.”

           “It’s not,” he assured you.  “It’s good.  Again, you’re being very mature, and I’m really proud of you.”

           “Yeah?”

           “Yeah,” he smiled, and you thanked him with a slow kiss, smiling too much into it again.

           “I’m proud of you, too, you know,” you said.

           “Oh?  Why’s that?”

           “You made me feel really safe last night. This morning.  Whatever,” you said, and Yoongi almost smirked.

           “Yeah?”

           “Yeah, and-and I appreciate that.”

           “I appreciate you, baby,” Yoongi said, kissing your forehead.

           “This is getting a little gross,” you teased, and Yoongi’s smile turned a little wicked.

           “You know what would make it even grosser?”

           “Keep your fucking feet away from me,” you said, pushing on his chest.  He laughed again and his soothing fingers on your stomach started to tickle you instead. You grunted and tried to push him away again but stopped when he succeeded in attacking your neck.  “Hey,” you said, gripping his hair so he would slow down, “I know this is short notice, but I just forgot to tell you because it’s tradition, and I wasn’t really sure if he was going to want to, what with Jungkook being all over him lately—”

           “Oh, is that how they do it?” Yoongi hummed on your neck, and you swatted his.

           “Stop.  Please. Oh my God.  Anyway, Jimin and I usually marathon Battlestar Galatica, and I was wondering if it would be okay if I went to hang out with him and maybe spend the night.”

           “Y/N,” Yoongi said, pulling away from your neck, a twinkle in his eyes.  “You don’t have to ask for permission.”

           “Okay.  Fine, bye then,” you said, pushing him away from you.

           “Wait!” he said, scrambling to hold onto you. You smiled at him and waited.  “I mean.  I will miss you, but obviously you should go.  Though you’re going to have to explain this weird tradition at some point.”

           “You’ll have to ask Jimin,” you said, patting his hand and moving again.

           “Wait,” he said, reaching for you again.

           “Okay, how about this,” you said, trying not to laugh at how tired and frazzled he looked.  “I will go make us coffee and breakfast, because you need food, and I’ll have my dad bring Tae back when he’s ready, and I’ll only get out of this shirt,” you said, lifting up the hem enough to expose your stomach, stifling another laugh as Yoongi’s eyes flickered from your face to your skin, “when it’s time to leave.”

           “Okay, deal,” Yoongi said, nodding enthusiastically.

           “So gross,” you teased, patting his head again before getting out of bed.  You stopped at the door, the air cold on your legs, to look back at Yoongi, who was sitting up in bed with his hands in his lap.  “Look good?”

           “So good, baby,” he smiled, and you snorted again before hurrying downstairs.  Even if you looked good, you were cold, and hurried to make coffee and fix breakfast. Yoongi joining you downstairs did not help, as he only clung to you from behind and kept trying to distract you with kisses, but if the New Year brought such promises, then you were excited about each new day.

 

           When you met Jimin, he was so popular that he got invited to every party, even the junior and senior ones.  The more he hung out with you, the less he was invited out. Anytime you tried to bring it up and blame yourself for it, he would shut you down immediately.  When enough people, which meant everyone, found out he was gay, the invitations ceased altogether.  So the one year when you were seventeen and he was invited to a New Years party, you were reluctant for him to go, and you adamantly refused to accompany him.  Nothing good would come of it, you warned.  

           When the next day arrived and he had still not responded to any of your texts or phone calls, you had raced to his house, ready to beat up someone or congratulate him for having such a good time he couldn’t even reply to you (and smack him for that, too).  When you found him in his living room on his mattress that he had pulled in from his room (“Jimin?”) surrounded by pillows and copious amounts of junk food (“Are you okay?”) watching Battlestar Galactica (“This is…an odd choice, even for you”) and still not responding even when you laid down beside him (“Jimin?”), all thoughts of violence flew out of your mind.  All he needed was comfort and a marathon of a sci-fi show that neither of you would have picked to watch but somehow ended up crying over (“It’s the lack of sleep, Jimin.  I mean, we don’t actually care about this show, do we?”).  

           You couldn’t even remember what had sparked his silence that day (“People say things, Y/N, it’s not a big deal.”  “If someone can say one thing that makes you stop saying anything, that seems like a big deal, Jimin”), though it was a day you look back on with fondness and regret (“I should have said something, right?  Done something else?  How do you get someone to realize they’re amazing no matter what some idiot says?”  “I don’t know, Y/N.  Let me know if you ever find out”).  When he had invited you back the next year, you hadn’t questioned it, and thus the tradition had been born.  It was only a few years old, and so much had changed lately you hadn’t been sure if he would want to again, but he had told you to come over to Namjoon’s (“Bring water, we’re all a little…out of it.”  “Just say hungover, Jimin.”  “What? No, Jungkook and I can’t drink.” “Then what are you recovering from?” “Well—”  “Wait, oh my God, don’t tell me.”  “You see, Y/N, when two people love each other—” “Shut up, shut up, you don’t love each other, I’m hanging up now.”  “How dare—”), so when you arrived with a package of water and Jimin’s favorite cookies, you were excited but a little apprehensive.  You had never shared this day with anyone else, and you hadn’t invited Yoongi for that very reason, so you weren’t sure what it was going to be like if Jungkook and Namjoon were around.  It was Namjoon who opened his door, a small smile on his face.

           “Happy new year,” he said, taking the water from you.

           “Happy new year,” you said back, stepping in to take off your coat and shoes.  You could hear someone grumbling and grunting and froze for a minute before you saw Jimin and Jungkook emerging from the hallway, tugging hard on something.

           “Why the fuck is this thing so heavy?” Jungkook was saying, and you pressed your lips together to watch.  “Namjoon, can you please come help us?”

           “Not my fault we have to use my mattress,” Namjoon said, giving you another smile before he went to help the boys.

           “Why do you have to use Namjoon’s mattress?” you said, and Jungkook and Jimin both jumped slightly, your friend dropping his side immediately to come give you a hug.  Jungkook cursed under his breath and huffed as he struggled to hold up the mattress before Namjoon rescued him.

           “Mine is currently unusable,” Jimin whispered into your ear as he hugged you.  Slightly repulsed, you pushed him off and made a face at him.  “Happy new year!”

           “Happy new year,” you smiled.

           “You look different,” Jimin said, cocking his head.

           “No I don’t,” you deflected, walking past him to help the boys with the mattress.  He hummed behind you but occupied himself getting food ready.  Namjoon’s mattress was huge and thus heavy, but they had already cleared the rest chairs in his living room out of the way, so you all lowered it to the ground easily enough, being careful to avoid each other’s toes.  Jungkook proceeded to gather blankets and pillows, and Namjoon retreated to the couch. You waited awkwardly for Jimin, going to help him to give yourself something to do, and were relieved when he finally trudged to the mattress and proceeded to plop down.  You sat on one side of him while Jungkook was already lying down on his other side, and you watched with interested as he arranged the snacks in front of you.  When he seemed satisfied, he got back up to put in the DVDs, a gift from you last year (“If we’re going to do this thing, we’re going to do it right from now on”), but stopped by the couch on his way back to the mattress.

           “Namjoon, come sit with us,” he said, pulling at the man’s pants.  Namjoon shook his head and patted Jimin’s hand.

           “I’m alright up here.”

           “Please?”

           “I’m okay, Jimin.  There’s not enough room.”          

           “That’s not true and you know it.  We’ve all fit on there before,” Jimin said, looking over at you.  “And Y/N is small.  And if we need more room, we’ll kick Jungkook off.”

           “Hey,” Jungkook grumbled.

           “Hey,” Jimin said back, leaving Namjoon alone to cross his arms over his chest and stare at your brother.  “This is Y/N and I’s thing.  You’re just a guest.  And it’s Namjoon’s house.  And mattress. So obviously you’d be the first to go.”

           “Fair enough,” Jungkook huffed again, pulling at Jimin’s ankle.  Your friend relented and climbed back on the mattress.  Namjoon did not join you all, and you were a little relieved.  You barely knew him, even if he was one of Yoongi’s best friends, so you weren’t sure how comfortable he would be with what basically turned into a cuddle-fest.  

           “So why Battlestar Galactica?”  Namjoon asked as the first episode started.

           “Maybe if you get down here I’ll tell you,” Jimin said.  Namjoon did not get down there, so the subject was dropped.  Even though sometimes you accidentally touched Jungkook in your attempt to hug your friend, both of you recoiling with noises of complaint at the other, the first couple of hours were pretty normal.  Namjoon, you found, however, was that annoying person who asked too many questions.  He kept trying to figure out who was going to turn out to be a bad guy in the first episode, and Jimin kept rolling his eyes at him.  By the second episode, Jimin stopped answering or responding to him at all, and his questions were reduced to low mumbles.  It was a little annoying, but also funny how he kept talking to himself, clearly trying to figure out where the story was going. Jungkook, meanwhile, kept falling asleep at first, but after a few episodes he woke up enough to start to pay attention.  After almost five hours, he finally said,

           “Are we seriously watching this whole show?” Jimin and you had, in fact, always watched the whole show, which took over three days, but had decided earlier to not do that this year to have some mercy on everyone else.  But you hadn’t bothered to tell anyone that, and Jimin only patted Jungkook’s head when he answered,

           “Yep.”  Your brother’s eyes went wide before he shut them again, mumbling something.  So, apart from the occasional comment from Namjoon and complaint from Jungkook, your tradition seemed intact.  Apart from the occasional bathroom breaks and stretch breaks, the day passed by lazily and quickly.  By the time dinner was approaching, Namjoon decided for everyone that you all needed proper food and ordered something.

           “You two go get it,” he said to Jimin and Jungkook. You had just returned from the bathroom after the end of an episode, and you rolled your eyes at how Jimin rolled around dramatically, crushing Jungkook beneath him as he did so, eliciting groans from the younger boy.

           “Why do we have to go?  It’s cold outside.”

           “You’ve been sitting here all day, that’s why,” Namjoon said.

           “So have you,” Jimin whined, lying completely on top of Jungkook now.

           “Jimin,” Namjoon said simply, and your friend sighed before patting Jungkook’s chest and rolling off of him again.

           “Okay, let’s go,” he said, pulling your brother up. He muttered something but pulled Jungkook toward his (their?) room.

           “Want me to come?” you shouted down the hall, but Namjoon shook his head.

           “No, that’s okay.  Was hoping to talk to you about something anyway.”

           “Oh,” you said, suddenly interested in the shirt sticking out of the bottom of your sweater (oh, Yoongi’s shirt).

           “Oh, is Y/N in trouble?” Jimin said as he and Jungkook came back into the kitchen in their matches jackets, somehow having heard everything.

           “No, just want to talk to her without your nosy self around,” Namjoon said, and Jimin pouted playfully before winking at you.

           “Means you’re just going to talk about me,” you friend said before whisking past you both, Jungkook in tow.  You laughed weakly, suddenly nervous, but Namjoon seemed calm, so you willed yourself to calm down and decided to sit on the other end of the couch from him.

           “He’s not exactly wrong,” Namjoon smiled once you were both situated.  “But I wanted to talk about Jungkook more.”

           “Oh,” you said simply, folding your hands in your lap.

           “I know you’re not close, considering the circumstances, but he absolutely refused to let me talk to his parents, so said I should ask you.”

           “He-I mean, ask me what?” you corrected yourself, oddly touched even though you didn’t even know what Namjoon was going to ask.

           “Well,” he said, taking a deep breath, “I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, or hurt you or your dad’s pride, or anything like that. I know he’s your family.  But, well, I guess I should start at the beginning.”

           “Okay,” you said slowly, finally noticing that Namjoon, while he looked confident, was actually nervous.

           “So Hoseok and Yoongi have been trying to set me up forever.  They mean well, I know, but well, I don’t know how to say this without sounding like an ass, but being famous,” he said, slightly cringing at the word, “makes it hard to interact with normal people.  And, I hate that word.  I don’t know how else to explain it.  My life is very different from most people’s.  That doesn’t make me better than them, or not-normal, but my normal is not their normal.”

           “I get it,” you said, if only to stop him from rambling excessively.

           “So having relationships is really hard.  I’m sure Yoongi’s shared his concerns with you,” Namjoon said, and you nodded even if you thought the answer was no.  He shared concerns with you, and those he didn’t seemed fairly obvious.  You saw enough of his life to know how difficult adding someone else into it would be. You weren’t working just for convenience, though you knew pure proximity had probably helped you get close.  “So, they mean well.  They know I don’t, uh, do well if I’m alone for too long. Yoongi’s the same way, but ever since he’s had Tae he’s never had a moment to himself.  Which has its own drawbacks, too, obviously,” he mused, and you nodded in understanding.  “So, I don’t know, when I met Jimin, I was afraid he was going to just be some crazy fan, and, granted, he is, how do you say, eccentric—”

           “That’s putting it nicely,” you laughed, and Namjoon smiled knowingly at you.

           “But there was something about him that just seemed to click.  I hadn’t found it so easy to talk to someone in a long time, and I know everything has moved really fast, but it all seemed so right.”

           “I get that,” you said, in no place to judge considering your relationship with Yoongi.  “But Jimin knows who he likes and who he doesn’t like, usually very quickly. And he’s rarely wrong.  I’m just glad his idol turned out to be a genuinely good person.”

           “Me too,” Namjoon laughed.  “So, I thought at first it would be nice to just have another friend, but the more I talked to him the more I wanted to help him.  I tried explaining this to Yoongi, and he only laughed at me, so I know it must sound weird, but I want to take care of him.”

           “It’s because you’re a good person,” you said, remembering something Yoongi had said to you once.  Namjoon smiled awkwardly but still nodded.

           “I hope I am.  But I have to admit I have my selfish reasons.  I asked him to move in because I like having him around, and he helps me be less lonely.”

           “I don’t think that’s necessarily selfish,” you frowned.  “Just honest. We all need people in our lives.”

           “It still felt a little selfish,” Namjoon said, stretching out his long legs and sighing.  “But I also felt weird, like I was buying his presence in a way.  I don’t want it to be like that, either.”

           “You’re not,” you said, trying not to sound rude. “I mean, Jimin said you’re straight.”

           “Yeah, I am.”

           “So, you’re not interested in Jimin.”

           “Not like that, no.”

           “Or Jungkook.”

           “No,” Namjoon laughed.  “But to finally get to what I wanted to say, Jimin wants Jungkook to move in, and I’m 100% okay with that.  We have the room, and it would make Jimin really happy.  And Jungkook is pretty interesting once you get to know him, even if he has been a little closed off and surly with me sometimes. I think he’s extremely protective of Jimin already and maybe distrustful of people.”

           “I second that,” you nodded.

           “He reminds me of Yoongi in a way,” Namjoon said, and you cocked your head, thinking about both of their fierce loyalties and protective natures.  “Anyway, I was thinking that Jungkook should go to college.  I mean, he wants to.  And he can keep working for your dad if he wants, but he wouldn’t have to.”

           “So,” you said slowly, “what exactly are you asking?”

           “Is it okay with you if I take care of Jungkook?”

           “I mean,” you faltered, fiddling with your shirt (Yoongi’s shirt) again.  “You’d really do it just out the kindness of your heart?”

           “No,” Namjoon said simply, and you looked over at him, concerned.  “Like I said, it’s selfish, too.  Do you know what altruism is?”

           “Um,” you said, biting your lip.

           “What about intrinsic?”

           “Uh, something within?”

           “Basically,” Namjoon smiled.  “So altruism is where you are concerned with someone else’s happiness and well-being more than your own.  Intrinsic does mean from within, and an intrinsic action is something you do habitually.  An intrinsic right action or good action is something you do just because it is the right thing to do.  All of that to say,” he smiled again, “man is inherently selfish, so most of what we do is not altruistic.  And most of what we do we do because we want something in return.  I’m of the belief there are no intrinsically good actions, because we are all too selfish.  I may do something that is right, but I am doing it because it will make me feel good.”

           “Or, well, what if it makes you feel good because it is right?” you tried, a little confused.

           “That is the other argument.  It’s like the chicken and the egg one.  So while I know it is right to help Jimin and Jungkook, or at least that there is nothing wrong with it, whatever society may say, and whatever questions people may pose, I know I am mainly doing it because I need someone I trust to live with me so I don’t, uh, lose myself,” Namjoon faltered, “and because it makes me really happy to see other people happy.”

           “That’s,” you said slowly before smiling, “really deep, Namjoon, and honestly hurts my brain a little.  I’m just going to go with you’re a good person, and Jimin and Jungkook clearly like you.  And as for my brother, he’s eighteen and can make the decision for himself.”

           “He specifically asked me to ask you,” Namjoon said, and you felt a twinge in your stomach again.

           “I don’t know why,” you muttered, “but, sure, I agree.  If he wants to go to college and wants to live here and wants your help, sure. I.  I really don’t have any experience being a sister, so I’m not sure what to say.”

           “That’ll do,” Namjoon smiled.  “I think he may still feel bad about lying to you and your dad, so maybe he’s just being extra cautious.”

           “Maybe,” you muttered, and you heard muffled voices outside the door.

           “So how’s it going with Yoongi, anyway?” Namjoon said as you looked at the door.

           “Uh, good.  Yeah.”

           “Just good?” Namjoon said as the door started to open.

           “Yep,” you said.

           “He really likes you, is all,” Namjoon was saying as Jimin and Jungkook burst through the door.

           “Who likes you, Y/N?” Jimin said, his eyes wide. Jungkook’s lips were pressed together while his brow was furrowed.  You rolled your eyes and got up to help them with the food.

           “Yoongi, apparently.”

           “Oh, we all knew that, that’s boring,” Jimin said, and thankfully the conversation was dropped as you all settled back into your spots to watch more TV while you ate.  Namjoon, much to Jimin’s delight, came to sit on the mattress with you all, and while it was a tight fit, you ended up positioning yourselves in a Tetris-like manner so that no one, not even Jungkook, was pushed off.

           You must be getting old, you decided, or so conditioned to go to bed soon after Tae, because you felt yourself growing sleepy before midnight.  Granted, you were up later than usual the night before, and the thought made you decide to break one of Jimin’s rules to text Yoongi, even though you doubted he was still up.  You also decided to grab a blanket to semi-hide your phone screen and your face that seemed to be heating up before you even finished typing what you wanted to say.

You (11:24PM)

So I hear you like me?

Is it dumb I miss you?

I’ll be back by lunch tomorrow

Yoongi (11:37PM)

Namjoon’s a liar

But no

I miss you

You (11:38PM)

We’re gross

Why are you up still?

Yoongi (11:42PM)

Didn’t I just say I miss you?

You (11:44PM)

Ooooooo

That’s sweet

What are you doing then?

Yoongi (11:50PM)

Been getting some work done

*Image Attached*  

You (11:52PM)
Did I ever tell you I find you very attractive?

Yoongi (11:53PM)

You may have mentioned that last night

Something particular about my toes

You (11:55PM)

Never mind

You (11:58PM)

Do you actually like me?

Yoongi (12:03AM)

Yes, baby

Of course

Come home

I’ll tell you

And show you

You (12:05AM)

Yoongi

Yoongi (12:06AM)

?

You (12:07AM)

Like you too

Yoongi (12:08AM)

??

Prove it

You (12:09PM)

I’ll

I’ll

Yoongi (12:10AM)

?

Yoongi (12:16AM)

Did you fall asleep on me?

Yoongi (12:20AM)

Y/N?

You (12:22AM)

I’llletyoutouchmewithyourfreezingfuckingbaretoes

Yoongi (12:22AM)

Oh shit

I think I’m in love

           “Y/N!” Jimin hissed. “No phones!”  You grinned but put your phone away.  The dumb smile lingered on your face until you fell asleep somewhere in the middle of the second season.

           You all moved languidly when you woke up, but you were too used to getting up early and making breakfast, so you pried Jimin out of Jungkook’s hold to make him help you.  He would have to go back to school soon, anyway, so his days of sleeping in were limited.  Over breakfast Namjoon discussed the boys’ living situation, and Jungkook spent most of the meal staring and nodding quietly at his plate.  When Namjoon suggested going to your dad’s to bring everything over, he mumbled something about not owning anything, but Jimin jabbed him in the ribs, and he changed his answer to one of compliance.  So before you left, the boys helped move Namjoon’s mattress back while you cleaned the kitchen even though Namjoon told you not to, and you shooed him away to do his work while you waited for Jimin and Jungkook.  

           Piling into your truck was a little squished, but Jimin didn’t seem to mind sitting in the middle, and he chatted freely as you drove to your dad’s, trying to explain to Jungkook what he had missed every time he had fallen asleep.

           “I just still don’t get your obsession with it,” Jungkook finally sighed, and Jimin crossed his arms over his chest.

           “Not obsessed.  Just trying to share something I like with you,” he said, and Jungkook went quiet, the words hopefully not lost on him.  “Anyway, what’s going on with Yoongi, Y/N?”

           “What?” you said, avoiding a pothole and hitting Jimin’s elbow in the process.  “Nothing.” Out of the corner of your eye, you saw Jimin glance at Jungkook for a second.

           “I didn’t believe that yesterday, so I don’t believe you now, either.  Come on. It’s obviously something good.”

           “Yeah, everything’s great,” you said, gripping the steering wheel tightly.

           “So?” Jimin said, his finger coming to poke you, but you swatted his hand away.

           “I’m driving.  And it’s not something to talk about around Jungkook.”

           “Oh,” Jimin said.  “Oh,” he said again, before he started laughing.

           “No,” you clenched your jaw.  “No, Jimin, don’t you dare.”

           “Oh my god,” Jimin laughed, turning to cling to Jungkook’s arm for support.  Your brother kept asking what was going on, but you both ignored him.  “Oh, Y/N.”

           “Stop,” you said again.  “It’s not a big deal.”

           “What?  Yes it is! I mean you slept slept with him,” Jimin said, and you rolled your eyes when you heard Jungkook emit a tiny “oh.” “That’s a super big deal.”

           “Says who?  You’re the one who said sleeping next to someone is more intimate than sex.”

           “You did?” Jungkook said quietly, his voice a little strained.

           “I just can’t believe you, of all people, beat me to it.”

           “What?” you said, as you pulled up into your dad’s yard.

           “What?” Jungkook said.

           “What?”  Jimin said, looking between the pair of you.

           “Wait, you and Jungkook haven’t?”  You stared at your friend and tried to ignore Jungkook’s cheeks turning red behind him.

           “No, I’m not some crib robber,” Jimin huffed.

           “I’m literally, like, a year younger than you,” Jungkook huffed back.

           “Jimin,” you said gently, turning off the car and touching your friend’s arm purposefully.  “It just.  You’ve been making it sound like—”

           “What?  No. Come on, Y/N, you know me.  I exaggerate all the time,” Jimin said, waving his hand in the air.  He wasn’t looking at Jungkook, though, and you recognized the wild look in his eyes. You glanced at your brother before frowning back at your friend.

           “Why haven’t you—” you started, but Jimin waved his arms again.

           “It’s not a big deal, right, Y/N?”

           “Jimin,” you said, but he started to climb over Jungkook and reach for the door.  Your brother groaned but helped him out, and the door hung open as Jimin scrambled out. You could see his shoulders raised high as he shuffled over the dirt yard toward your dad’s porch, and you fiddled with your keys, watching him closely.

           “It’s not that I don’t want to,” Jungkook said quietly, still watching Jimin.  You stayed quiet and watched your friend, too, trying not to sigh.  “I don’t really know what I’m doing.  I don’t want to mess it up.  Everything has been moving so fast.  I don’t want to scare him off is all.”

           “Jimin is all bark and no bite.  Except when he bites it really hurts.  Metaphorically speaking,” you said, smiling as your brother glanced at you in concern.  “He’s not as tough as he acts, is what I mean.  I thought, all this time, that you and he were…and I guess it still makes sense if you haven’t.  He.  He hasn’t been treated well since coming out, you know?”  Jungkook nodded knowingly.  “So I’m not sure what he’s told you, but I think you and he are similar in your distrust of others.”

           “I don’t dist—”

           “It’s not necessarily a bad thing,” you clarified before Jungkook could finish contradicting you.  “It just means things will be awkward and will get worse if you don’t figure out a way to talk about it.  He’s afraid of getting hurt.  You’re afraid of hurting him.  If that continues, neither of you will touch each other again.  Does that make sense?”

           “Yeah,” Jungkook sighed, looking back at Jimin who was sitting on the porch steps, frowning towards your truck.

           “Hey,” you said softly, reaching over to grab your brother’s forearm.  “If Jimin wants you to move in with him and Namjoon, that is huge.  It is a big deal.”

           “I know that much,” Jungkook sighed again. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

           “Well, a little fear can be a good thing,” you said, straightening up and pocketing your keys.  “Just.  Talk to him. Now, we’d better go before he gets mad. Or, madder.  Since he knows we’re talking about him.”

           “How does he do that?  He always knows,” Jungkook faked shuddered, and you laughed, realizing there was a lot your brother still had to learn about your best friend, before you both got out of the truck.  You approached Jimin carefully, and when he stood up and looked fine, you knew he wasn’t.  Rolling your eyes, you pulled him in for a hug that he tried to resist until Jungkook awkwardly joined you.

           “The sex was amazing,” you whispered into his ear, and he laughed before pushing you away.

           “I didn’t actually want to know!  You perv.”  You felt slightly successful as he smiled and clung to Jungkook’s arm, halfway hiding from you behind him, and knocked on your dad’s door before letting yourself in.

           Your dad had always had this propensity of leaving your Christmas tree up well into January.  As the tree slowly died, each needle fell to the ground until its branches could no longer hold up the weight of the ornaments and they too started to fall. When you were fourteen, a glass bell had toppled off of the tree and crashed on the ground.  You remember being so shocked and worried and afraid your dad would get mad.  But he calmly swept it up and simply said,

           “Things break, Y/N.”  That mentality, that things happen, often bad things, and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it, you had seen often in growing up with your dad. What you only realized later is that you and he had some control over that ornament, and others, breaking, though. You could have thrown the tree out sooner.  Or taken the decorations off before the tree started to die.  Things didn’t just break.  Things were broken.  And you had swept the ornament away, dumped it in the trash, and never felt the need to replace it.  But some things couldn’t be fixed or thrown away and forgotten about.  Some things, once broken, were missed, were irreplaceable, and stayed with you even in their absence.  Your mom had broken her relationship with your dad years ago. She had broken her title as a mom when she had left you eight years ago.  You didn’t miss her, exactly, but like Yoongi had said, everyone needs a mom. She had broken something in you that you weren’t sure would ever be fixed.  And you didn’t want her to break anything else.

           So when you walked in your dad’s house, you stopped so suddenly Jimin and Jungkook ran into you, both commenting in frustration on your inability to walk like a normal human being.  You wanted to scream.  And run.  But your dad said your name, and you blinked and breathed again, but you couldn’t tear your eyes away from the lady sitting on the couch.  Her hair was shorter than you remembered it being.  A little darker with signs of gray.  She hadn’t aged well, if the lines on her face were any indication. She had Jungkook’s nose.  He had hers.  You had her nose.

           “Mom?” Jungkook said tersely behind you.  “What are you doing here?”

           “I got concerned when you weren’t answering your phone,” she said, and the trill of her voice made you nauseous already. You could remember nothing and everything she had ever said to you in that voice.  Never a goodbye.  

           “I’ve been busy,” Jungkook said, clearly tense.

           “You’re never too busy to text your mother,” she, your mom, Jungkook’s mom, this woman sitting in your home, your dad’s home, dared to say, and you started to laugh.  You weren’t even sure if she had recognized you when you first came in, or desired to see or speak to you at all, or if she really did care about Jungkook enough to risk coming to see him, to risk seeing your dad and you and going behind her new husband’s back just to see her son.  But even the idea of that, the absurdity of her caring about him clearly so much more than she ever cared about you, caused you to laugh.  Nothing was funny.  It just hurt.  

           You laughed because you wanted to throw up and cry, but you didn’t want to do either of those things, so you laughed and felt Jimin’s hand on your arm, steadying you and saying your name.  With a careless shrug, you flung your friend’s arm off and fled back out of the house, ignoring everyone (Jimin, Jungkook, your dad, not her, your non-mom) that called out after you.  There was an old cockpit you had built out of scrapes among the rest of the tires and metal behind the barn, and while you knew you were too big for it now, you went there anyway, glad for an excuse to curl up as tight as you could be. Everything was too cold, and everything hurt, and everything was too quiet as you forced yourself to breathe and not let your crying turn into sobbing.  You couldn’t remember the last time you cried (“Hey, Y/N, it’ll be okay. He was a good dog.  He lived a good life.  We have to let him go now.  We’ll get another one tomorrow, okay?  Okay, kiddo?”), and you had forgotten how exhausted it made you feel, and how out of control.  

           Once they started, the tears didn’t seem to stop, even when you did quiet yourself down enough so you could hear the cool wind whistling through the crack in your cockpit’s windshield.  Another sound filled your ears, too, and made your breath quicken.  If you could move more in the confined space you had put yourself into, you would, but you were effectively trapped as you heard someone’s footsteps approaching you, too light to be your dad’s, too heavy to be Jimin’s, to unknown to be Jungkook’s.  Closing your eyes wasn’t going to make the person go away or make you disappear, even if you wish it would do one of those, so you watched as this lady opened your cockpit, exposing you in your fetal position to the cold air.  She looked older in her jacket and yet immature with her arms crossed in front of her.

           “Y/N, can you come out of there?” she said.

           “I can.  But I don’t want to,” you said, staring at her boots.  They looked scuff and had gotten muddy on her way to see you, and you felt a hint of triumph at the fact.

           “Come now, Y/N, come out and talk to me.”

           “I don’t want to talk to you,” you said honestly, and you heard her sigh.

           “Y/N, I want to talk to you about what happened.”

           “I don’t want to hear it,” you spat.

           “Really now.  That’s not exactly fair to me, is it?”

           “Fair?” you almost shouted, glaring up at her. “I don’t think you know the meaning of the word.”

           “Y/N, I’ve wanted to see you for a while now—”

           “I don’t care m—I don’t care.  Did you finish talking to Jungkook?”

           “No,” she said oddly, looking away, “he didn’t want to talk to me.”

           “Good,” you good.  “I don’t either.  Please leave. No one wants you here.”

           “Is he doing okay?” she said, and you stared blankly up at here again.

           “Who?  Dad? Jungkook?  Either way, it’s none of your business.  Really.  You don’t get to know.  You lost that privilege years ago.”

           “Y/N,” she said again, but then you heard someone else calling your name before it turned into a shout, and you struggled to sit up, calling back to him.

           “Yoongi!”

           “Y/N?  Y/N!” he called until he saw you, stopping momentarily before rushing forward.  “Hey,” he said, squatting down to cup your face in his hands.  He moved your head back and forth as if checking for injuries, and you choked back a cry at how warm his hands made you feel.  You bit back another sob when you saw Tae behind his dad’s leg, peeking at you inquisitively.  “Sorry,” Yoongi was muttering, “I had to bring him.”

           “It’s okay,” you said, smiling at him and at Tae, relieved when he sent you a boxy grin back.  “Why are you—how?”

          “Jimin called me,” he said, looking in your eyes for a few more seconds before nodding and standing up.

           “Who are you?” Yoongi said, a bite to his voice unlike you had ever heard before.  The lady stuck her hand out to him.

           “I’m Y/N’s mom.”

           “No you’re not,” Yoongi said, ignoring her hand.

           “Excuse me?”

           “You’re not her mom.  I don’t care who you think you are, but you aren’t Y/N’s mom,” he said, taking Tae’s hand and reaching down to offer you his other one.  “Ready to go now?”  You nodded weakly and took his hand, glad once again at the warmth his fingers brought you.  You climbed out of your cockpit and brushed off your pants before taking what you hoped was your last look at the lady before letting your boyfriend lead you away. You decided to leave your truck for now and let Yoongi drive you home, content to sit close to Tae in the back. You would check in on Jungkook and Jimin and your dad later.  You needed to go home.

Chapter Text

           “Sit here,” Yoongi said, his voice a mere drone in the air as he pushed on your shoulders to make you lower yourself down into the couch in his office.  You hummed and shared another smile with Tae who stood at the doorway, fiddling with his fingers and looking too shy for someone in his own home, while Yoongi fiddled with his computer, half leaning over his desk and staring intensely at the screen. The ride home had been pretty quiet, apart from Tae filling you in on what he and Yoongi had been doing since you left, some of his sentences oddly half-started and left unfinished as he seemed to struggle with what you tell you.  Yoongi’s eyes had met his in the rearview mirror several times as they checked in on each other, and you had noticed the odd behavior but didn’t question it.

           “Put these on,” Yoongi said softly again, handing you a pair of his headphones.  You leant forward, afraid it wouldn’t reach from the computer, but he had obviously put in a pair with a longer chord or moved something, because there was plenty of slack.  Once they were situated, he asked, “Good?” and once you nodded he did, too.  “Okay, Tae and I have to go finish a conversation, so just listen to this and I’ll come get you before dinner.”  You opened your mouth to complain, as you really didn’t want to be alone at the moment, but he clicked the mouse and you leaned back in the couch when a piano started to drift into your ears.”  Tae waved from the door, and you smiled back, the rest of the room and house disappearing as all you heard was the music once Yoongi shut the door.  By the time he and Tae had left, you heard Yoongi’s voice in your ear and found yourself gasping at the sound.  Your eyes went wide at how haunting his voice sounded, and as the song continued, while you couldn’t understand what he was saying, how intense his tone became.  The cadence of his voice and the way the music swelled before retreating behind his voice gave you chills.  The song left you with tears in your eyes again, even if you didn’t know, but you didn’t have any time to recover before the next song started. It was so vastly different from the first, a clash of drums reminding you of a marching band, but the emotion in Yoongi’s voice was undeniable, and you longed to know what he was saying, as you had never heard him so emotional about anything.  By the third song, another song that seemed so slow and soft but was filled with Yoongi’s biting words and straining voice, you felt like you knew him better already.  Yoongi looked strong and calm and presented himself with poise and confidence, but the breathless pants at the end of the song made you think he really struggled more than he ever let on and needed some outlet to be able to express himself. He cared; he was passionate; he worked and had fought hard for where he was; he refused to give up on what he wanted and on his son; he was intense, but it was the way he rapped and semi-sang in each song that represented that intensity, as he never spoken in such a way to your knowledge.  Not every song featured his voice, and in a few someone else was singing him.  In several you recognized two other voices that kept showing up, and the more you heard them the more you assumed they were Hoseok and Namjoon.  Each of those songs wasn’t exactly the genre of music you had grown up listening to, but you could recognize good music when you heard it, and if nothing else, your heart swelled with pride.  You cried quietly again, wondering if Yoongi’s mom had ever heard his music. She should hear this.  How could she not be proud of her son?  How could she not support this?

           “Hey?  Baby?” Yoongi poked his head in the door slowly, but he came quickly over to the couch, his stance reminding you of earlier as he checked on you, his thumbs once again brushing over your cheeks.  “What’s wrong?”

           “I’m really proud of you,” you said, taking the headphones off and reaching for him.  He climbed a little awkwardly onto the couch so you could hold him close and bury your face into his shoulder.

           “Why’s that?”

           “This is.  This is all really good,” you said.  

           “So these are happy tears?” he said, one of his hands still caressing your face.  You nodded.

           “But was also just thinking of how sad it is that your mom doesn’t support you.”  Yoongi hummed.

           “It is her loss.”  You laughed, the noise catching a little in your congested throat.

           “Where’s Tae?”

           “Eating lunch.  Are you hungry?”

           “I think so?  I feel pretty empty,” you mumbled, and Yoongi hummed again.

           “Understandable.  You should come eat something, then.”   You nodded against him again but took a second to gather yourself, taking a deep breath and wiping your face before moving the headphones back to his desk. He let you collect yourself before helping you up, wrapping an arm around your back to walk you out.

           “What were you and Tae talking about?” you said, and Yoongi chuckled lightly.

           “You’ll find out later.”  Again, you decided to not question it, only frowning at Yoongi before pulling away from him so you could go and sit by Tae who was happily munching on a sandwich.  You felt like you hadn’t seen the kid in forever, so even though you felt exhausted after staying up too late and having such an unexpected guest earlier, you were glad for the distraction.  He filled your day like he filled your heart, and even though Yoongi insisted you should rest and he could watch him, you and Tae both sent him away to work so you could play.  The house, your home, was filled with laughter the rest of the day and well into the night.  Even after putting Tae to bed you seemed unable to stop giggling, and Yoongi watched you with worry on his face as you got ready for bed, washing your face next to him as your room downstairs had merely become a guest room again at this point, but you kept waving him away, even after almost joking on your toothpaste twice. Your body, unsure to crying, seemed to be overcompensating.  Once you assured Yoongi you were fine, he stopped asking, and you did your best to calm down when you got in bed, not wanting to annoy him.  He held you close as always, facing each other before you fell asleep, a hand under your shirt running up and down your back.  The action was routine, and his fingers did nothing new, but you felt extra sensitive, and his fingers only made you giggle more, even though you tried to stifle your laughter so much that you finally just burst out, your voice loud against Yoongi’s chest.  You clamped a hand over your mouth immediately, trying to breathe as Yoongi’s hand grabbed your waist instead.

           “What is with you?”

           “I don’t know,” you said between breaths, “I’m so sorry.”

           “It’s okay,” he said, his voice full of a smile. “Just a bit weird, is all.”

           “Sorry, sorry,” you said again, clearing your throat and biting your lip as you pressed your hands against his chest.  “I’ll be quiet now.”

           “No, it’s okay, really.  Sounds like happy laughter.”

           “Yeah, I feel good,” you said, smiling fully now. Yoongi seemed satisfied with your answer and experimented with moving his hand back under your shirt, and you willed yourself to not wiggle.

           “I’m glad,” he said softly.  “I’m really proud of you.”

           “Yeah?”

           “Yeah.  It couldn’t have been easy to stand up to her like that.”

           “Oh,” you mumbled, watching your finger trace pointless designs on his chest when you understood what he was referring to.  “I didn’t exactly stand up to her, though. I literally ran out of the house. And cried.  And tried to hide somewhere I used to hide in as a kid.”

           “Sometimes running away is a way of standing up for yourself,” Yoongi said, and you stared up at him, confusion obvious on your face. “Staying around for someone to hit you, literally or metaphorically, isn’t good for you.  That isn’t healthy.  Sometimes leaving the situation, removing yourself from being around that person, is what is best.  Run away to fight another day, kind of thing.  Not even necessarily against that person.  Just, get yourself safe for another battle.  Another day.  You did what was best for you. You were under no obligation to talk to her. It was really rude and selfish of her to show up with no warning.”

           “She was worried about Jungkook,” you mumbled, unable to look at the way he was staring down at you.

           “The kid she kicked out, or, let get kicked out, of her house?  Yeah, don’t get me wrong, but I doubt that was why she showed up unannounced at your dad’s door where she must have been expecting you to be, as well.  Or at least not that only reason.  If you had known she was coming,” Yoongi said gently, his hands helping to calm you down, “would you have wanted to talk to her?”

           “No,” you said quickly and simply.

           “There we go, then.  All things considered, you handled it very well.  And I’m proud of you.”

           “You don’t think it was immature?  Like I should have talked to her?”

           “What good would that have done?”

           “I don’t know,” you shrugged, sighing and moving your hands so you could press your forehead under Yoongi’s chin, turning your body slightly.  “Maybe she would have explained why she left or why she never came to visit me.”

           “Would that have changed anything?”

           “No,” you said.  “I mean, what’s past is past.  But, I don’t know, you don’t think I should have given her a chance?”

           “Look, Y/N,” Yoongi said firmly but gently all at the same time, “you’re asking the wrong person.  I’m of the opinion that people rarely change, especially once they’re older. Not that it’s impossible.  But it’s rare.  She’s shown no other indication that she cares about you.  I mean, maybe she fed you and kept you clothed in a decent, humane manner until you were twelve, but even then she wasn’t being a good mom.  Because she wasn’t just your mom.  Even if she was the best mom ever to you, she was missing from Jungkook’s life.  And that kind of person rarely suddenly realizes how to properly love people without expecting anything in return. Does that make sense?”  You nodded against his chest, your giggles completely gone as your heart filled with sadness again for Jungkook.

           “I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him,” you muttered, wondering how much of how he was now, his orneriness, his shyness, his distrust of others, had been developed all before the age of ten. “Yoongi,” you said suddenly, being careful not to bust his chin as you leaned back so you could look up into his face. He raised an eyebrow expectantly. “I don’t want Tae to grow up without a mom.”  Yoongi’s hand stilled on your back before he continued, his fingers pressing a little harder into your skin as he smiled partially at you.

          “Me either,” he said.

           “Yeah?”

           “Yeah,” he nodded.  There was another question, a future question, on your lips, as well as his, but neither of you said anything else.  You fell back into your usual habits, turning and holding and kissing softly and falling asleep in each other’s arms.  It felt nice (“Nice?  Nice, Y/N? Work on your adjectives.”  “Stop running everything, Jimin”) to be home.

           Perhaps the only con of Yoongi and Tae’s house finally feeling like home is that now you started to feel homesick when you were away from them for too long or away from the house for any extended periods. Upon further discussion, you and Yoongi decided Tae should go to school for three half days a week, and even though Yoongi had been unsure if Stepping Stones would give Tae a spot after what he felt like was a bad interview, they called a week before their semester started to say they would love for Tae to join them in Mrs. William’s class for the semester.  Tae, upon hearing this and the fact that the boy he had befriended on the visit, Ace, was in the class, had no qualms with going.  You and Yoongi, however, were nervous.  Feeling like you didn’t quite have the right to be so sad to see the little boy growing up so fast, considering Yoongi had now had five years of seeing him learn and change on a daily basis, you did your best to just be supportive when the day came to drop him off for four whole hours (“It was the quietest, longest, boringest, worst four hours of my life.”  “Boringest isn’t a word.  Also, I can’t believe you say I’m the dramatic one”).  You were unreserved in opening showing affection with Yoongi this time around, too, holding his hand and standing close.  The morning was hectic, teachers standing at doors to welcome families, students reluctantly holding onto their parent’s hand or rushing past them without even a wave goodbye.  A couple kids and parents scattered around the hall were crying, the kids hysterical and parents trying to keep it together with a quiet kind of dignity. Yoongi was definitely struggling, if the way he gripped your hand was any indication, but he hadn’t cried yet. He had an overwhelmingly look of fondness as Tae introduced himself to his teacher who actually remembered him as the boy who was nice to Ace.  Tae had not been allowed to bring his giraffe from home, and he seemed a little distraught that he wouldn’t be able to help his new friend without him, but you all assured him he would be fine without it.  Tae could make friends with his smile and imagination alone, so there was really nothing to worry about.  He had no tears of his own, clearly excited and shifting from one foot to the other and having trouble focusing his eyes when spoken to.  He seemed particularly interested in a girl trying to stop crying at one of the small tables, and when Yoongi leaned down to take his son’s face in his hands, you put your own hand on his head, scratching it fondly as his dad spoke to him.

           “Hey Tae,” Yoongi said, his voice barely audible over the voices of children already filling the room.  The boy’s huge dark eyes stared back into his father’s face with a seriousness only Tae could possess.  “Will you be okay today?”

           “Yeah, daddy.”

           “Of course you will.  But you know if you want to come home, that’s okay, too.  Y/N or I will come get you, yeah?”

           “Okay, daddy.”

           “And if anyone is meant to you, you just walk away, yeah?  Ask your teacher if you need help.  Draw me a pretty picture, yeah?  And have lots of fun.”

           “Okay, daddy,” Tae said again, smiling as Yoongi squished his cheeks slightly.

           “And never, ever forget that I love you lots, yeah?” Yoongi whispered softly and seriously, and Tae nodded, his eyes flickering away to see who else was entering the room.  “Okay, okay,” Yoongi said, running his hands down Tae’s arms. “I love you.”

           “I know.”

           “A lot a lot,” Yoongi said again, and Tae giggled.

           “I know.”

           “Give me a kiss?” Yoongi said, somehow cocky and shy with his own son, but Tae complied easily, through his arms around his dad’s neck and kissing him once, reverently, on both cheeks.

           “For luck,” he said, “and for courage.”

           “Don’t you need those?” Yoongi said when his son pulled away.  Tae only shook his head, and you felt a crooked smile creep across your face as your heart filled.

           “Just you, daddy.   And if you need more, Y/N can give you some, right?” Tae said, smiling up at you.  You hoped you weren’t blushing as hard as you felt like you were when you nodded and smiled back.  Yoongi chuckled softly and ruffled his son’s hair once before standing up, putting his arm around your waist.  You squeezed Tae’s hand before letting him go, having already given him a ridiculous amount of kisses in the car on the way to school.  The boy was undeniably, painfully cute as he adjusted his oversized sweater and fixed his hair before heading, unsurprisingly, toward the girl who was still sniffling at one of the tables.  You wanted to witness his heart going to work, but you felt yourself being guided out.  You managed to look back at the door in time to glimpse Tae handing the girl a crayon, and you left the building grinning like the proud parent you weren’t.  Once in the car, Yoongi pulled you close, forcing you to sit in the small middle seat as JaeEun drove you both home, his hand never leaving your thigh.  He seemed deep in thought, a faraway look in his eyes as he stared out the window, and you only leaned on his shoulder, knowing he would say something when he was comfortable or he deemed it was the appropriate time.  Your hand played absentmindedly with his, his fingers sometimes reacting and curling or pushing back against yours, but otherwise remaining limp as you manipulated them up and down.

           “How did he know?” he said when you were almost home, his face still turned away from you.  You hummed inquisitively at him.  “Tae.  How did he know I was worried?”

           “He’s really smart.  And he can read people really easily.  It’s pretty impressive for a five-year-old.”

           “Yeah, I know.  But, I mean.  I don’t want him to be worried about me being worried.  That.  Kids shouldn’t have to worry about their parents.”

           “He loves you,” you said, and Yoongi finally turned around to look at you as you picked your head up to face him.  “And all love comes with a little worry, I think. It means he cares.  You’re always going to worry about him because you love him. I think he just wants you to be happy. I’m sure sending him to school isn’t easy.”

           “It’s weird, for sure,” Yoongi said.  “I’m sure everyone says this, but I never thought the day would come.  Or I thought it would come much slower.  I’m just wondering if I should have started him sooner.  Or waited, even.”

           “See?” you smiled, working a finger over the creases in his brow.  “Worrying.”

           “Can you give me a kiss?” he said suddenly, and you almost snorted at him.  “Tae said you could give me more if I needed them.  You know, for luck and courage.”

           “Okay,” you said, rolling your eyes, “because Tae said so.”  You weren’t really sure if kisses could actually give someone courage, but you weren’t going to miss an opportunity to kiss your boyfriend when he had such a fool proof argument for why you simply had to.

Chapter Text

           Tae transitioned to going to school so easily, you felt a little disheartened and unneeded.  You tried to busy yourself around the house, but there wasn’t much to do, and your restlessness made Yoongi uneasy.  He took to strongly encouraging you to sit in his office with him while he worked, and for a while you appreciated and enjoyed that, but you still got too antsy.  What he did was fascinated, and he tried to always explain things unnecessarily so you understood what he was doing, but you didn’t want to be a distraction.  After two weeks, one day when he was pointing to the screen, his headphones half off, while some bass and an occasional drum played, you were texting Jimin when he stopped, causing you to look up.

           “Sorry, am I boring you?” he said, his brows furrowed.

           “Shit, no, sorry,” you said, throwing your phone down. You linked your hands and placed them diligently in your lap.  “Go on.”

           “Y/N, you don’t have to sit in here if you don’t want to.”

           “It’s not that!  I’m just bored.”

           “So I am boring you.”

           “No,” you said, shaking your hands back and forth to start over.  “No, this is all fascinating.  I mean, half of it, no, most of it, goes over my head, which is why it’s so impressive, and why I’m so proud of you, but I feel kind of useless sitting here.  I need something to do.”

           “And just being in here with me isn’t enough?” Yoongi said, and you gaped at him for a moment.

           “I don’t mean it like that.  Surely—you don’t—I like hanging out with you,” you stammered.

           “No, oh, hey,” he said quickly, perhaps noticing how wide your eyes were, “no, I get it.  I’m sorry I didn’t notice sooner.  I mean, you’re welcome anytime, I just wanted you to know that.  But if you’re bored, you can go do something else.”

           “Like what?” you said, and Yoongi rocked back and forth in his chair a few times.

           “What do you want to do?”

           “Oh, well.  Actually.  You see, Jimin and Namjoon have been trying to convince Jungkook to go to school. Not convince, really, as he wants to, but more convince him to let Namjoon pay for it?  So if that happens, my dad will need help at his shop again, and I’d like to go work with him again.  If it works.”

           “When’s school start?”

           “Two weeks.”

           “I mean, the answer is yes, of course.  You don’t need my permission.”

           “I’m not asking for it,” you said, cocking your head.  Yoongi’s eyebrow raised at your comment.  “I mean, you asked me what I wanted, so I told you.  I’d like your opinion on it.  I’m not asking if I can or not.  But if you give me reasons why you don’t think it would be best for Tae or you or me or all of us, I’ll listen and try to change what I want.”

           “I see what you mean,” Yoongi said, and then he patted his legs.  “Come here. If you want to.”  Sticking out your tongue, you got up from the couch and went to sit in his lap sideways, throwing your arms around his neck so you wouldn’t fall backwards.  “You’re really great, you know?” he said.  The compliment threw you off a little, so you scoffed, but Yoongi only poked your side. “I mean it.  I want you to feel free to do what you want to do.  Do you want to go school, too?”

           “Not really,” you said, twisting your mouth.  “Do you think I should?”

           “Not if you don’t want to,” Yoongi said, and you sighed.

           “I mean, do you think I need to?”

           “It totally depends on what you want to do,” Yoongi said, and you thought for a moment, sighing a couple of times.

           “I always just thought I would help my dad and take over the business when he wanted me to.  Now I want to help Tae and you, too.”

           “Is it not feasible to do both?”

           “I guess,” you said.  “Though I’m not sure what that looks like yet.”

           “Me either,” Yoongi said.  “But we can figure it out.  Do you need to go to school to do either of those things?”

           “I don’t think so,” you said, and Yoongi patted your thigh.

           “There we go then.  We’ll be the who-needs-college success stories, and Jimin and Jungkook can go be the went-to-college success stories.”  You laughed softly at the idea while you played absentmindedly with the hair at the back of Yoongi’s neck.  “So you can go work for your dad while Tae’s in school?  And see how that goes?”

           “That’s what I’d like to do for now, yeah,” you said, glad you had talked about it and come up with some sort of plan.  

           “Okay, good plan.  Now, get up,” Yoongi said, patting your thigh.  “Some of us have work to do.”  You did not get up, and after one more failed nudge, he resigned to his fate, putting his headphones back on and turning back to his computer. Even if you were a little bored, you really did like spending time with him, and you told yourself to make the most of the time you would spend with him for the next two weeks.

           Jungkook, unlike Tae, did not adjust well to school. The move to Namjoon’s seemed to have gone well, but after one week of classes Jimin was texting you more than normal, each with an underlining tone of despair.  Having no experience with college yourself, and with less experience with your brother than Jimin had, you didn’t find yourself much of a help, and you didn’t want to put yourself in the middle of it, but Jimin seemed at the end of his rope, and Jungkook hadn’t said a thing to you.  Sighing at the counter while your dad restocked one of the shelves, you looked again at the last thing Jimin had sent you.

 

Jimin (10:32AM)

Help

I asked him what he’s working on

And he won’t tell me

 

Jimin (10:34AM)

Is it weird to want to help him with homework?

I just want to help

 

Jimin (10:36AM)

Seriously

What’s his problem?

 

Jimin (10:40AM)

Look, he’s being so ornery 

*Image Attached* 

 

You (11:04AM)

When is he not, tho?

 

Jimin (11:06AM)

He isn’t always

Just lately

Over school stuff

 

 

Jimin (11:10AM)

Idk what to do

 

You (11:11AM)

Talk to him about it?

 

Jimin (11:14AM)

Oh, genius

-_-

Tried

He says everything’s fine

And nothing’s wrong

 

Jimin (11:16AM)

Code for “stop asking”

Sigh

Help

 

           Sighing yourself, you texted your brother.

 

You (11:25AM)

Lunch at dad’s today

See you soon

 

           You didn’t expect a reply, but you would be surprised if he didn’t show up, and made sure Tae was taken care of before letting your dad know the plan.

 

You (11:27AM)

Can you pick up Tae today?  

Need to have lunch with Jungkook

 

Yoongi (11:35AM)

Got it

Might be late

 

You (11:36AM)

I’ll call the school

 

Yoongi (11:36AM)

Everything ok?

 

You (11:38AM)

Idk

Tell you later about it for sure

 

Yoongi (11:40AM)

Good luck

Here’s my face for strength

*Image Attached*

 

You (11:41AM)

*is suddenly dead*

 

Yoongi (11:43AM)

Shit, that backfired fast

 

           Still grateful your dad owned his own business, the pair of you closed the shop for lunch and walked back to his house to fix something.  When Jungkook arrived, he grunted a greeting and went straight to his old room. Exchanging a confused glance with your dad, you put the spoon down you were using to stir the soup you were making and went to check on him.  The door was slightly ajar, so you knocked before pushing it open.  Jungkook was flopped on the bed on his stomach, and he grunted again when you entered.

           “Hey,” you said slowly, not turning on the light for fear of scaring him off like some wild animal.  “You okay?”  Wincing at the incredible stupidity of the question, you sat on the edge of the bed and fiddled with your thumbs in your lap.

           “You can ask,” he said, his words muffled against the pillow.

           “Ask what?”

           “I know Jimin told you.”

           “Uh,” you said, confused.  You watched Jungkook’s back rise and fall as he breathed and waited for him to explain.  When he didn’t, you sighed and cleared your throat.  He moved his face enough out of the pillow so that you could see his profile, and even in the dim of the room you could see the bags under his eyes.  “Jungkook, he just said you’ve been really quiet and ornery, like more than normal.  He thinks it’s about school, but he said you won’t let him help.”

           “School?” Jungkook groaned, burying his face again. “Don’t give a shit about school.”

           “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” you said slowly.

           “No,” Jungkook sighed, taking a deep breath and pushing himself off of the bed.  He positioned himself against the headboard and grabbed a pillow to hold in his lap, his posture making him look much younger than he was.  “I just mean it’s not about school.”

           “Oh.  So school is fine?”

           “School is boring as fuck.  But it’s fine,” Jungkook said, smirking slightly.  You smiled back, a little relieved, but still equally confused.  “He really didn’t tell you?”

           “No,” you said slowly, watching your brother look at the pillow.  He pulled out a stray feather and threw it away before taking a deep breath.

           “We finally did some stuff,” he said simply.

           “Stuff?”

           “Sex stuff.”

           “Oh.  Oh,” you said, looking away and trying to think of anything but your brother and best friend doing anything beyond kissing.

           “And I think.  I must have done something wrong.  Because he’s acting like it never happened.”

           “Uh,” you said, trying not to sound as uncomfortable as you felt.  “Why don’t you talk to Namjoon about this?”

           “Because he’s not gay,” Jungkook shrugged.

           “I’m not either!  Nor am I a boy!” you almost squeaked.  “What about Hoseok or Jin?”

           “I don’t know them.  And I trust you,” he said, and you sighed, touched but still not enthusiastic about having this conversation.  

           “Okay,” you winced, “what did you do?”

           “Okay, so you know that day mom showed up?  And Jimin was being all weird?”

           “Yes,” you managed, trying not to throw up at the mention of the woman you never wanted to see again.

           “So I tried to take the initiative, you know, talk about it, but he didn’t want to.  I mean, here I am, I’ve just moved in with him, and I barely even know him.  I’ve known him, like, what, a little more than a month?  And not only am I having to get used to him, but Namjoon, too, and the weird interactions they have with each other.  I’m not jealous.  I mean, not like, worried, because Namjoon is straight, and I believe him, but Jimin’s…I don’t know.  Some days it’s like he only sees me, and other days it’s like he doesn’t at all.  And some days I think he really gets that I care, like he can just tell.  I can look at him, and just knows, you know?” Jungkook said, and you only nodded, not wanting to break the spell.  You had never heard Jungkook speak so much.  “But other times I’m looking at him with as much admiration or love or whatever you want to call it I can, and I can tell he doesn’t believe me.  He just has this faraway, like, dead look in his eyes.  So I tried talking, like you said.  I tried telling him more what I was feeling.  That I really like him.  And he’s amazing and talented and beautiful, and he just kept denying it. And I can only take so much of that, because at some point I just felt like he was calling me a liar, and I was determined to show him I meant it.  So one night I just went for it.  And he kept trying to cover his face, so eventually I just let him, and he didn’t say anything, not even afterwards, and he’s been sleeping in Namjoon’s room more lately, and I don’t know, I just know I fucked up.  Like, did I rape him?”

           “Oh,” you said, frowning and taking a deep breath. “You.  You, uh?”

           “I just sucked him off,” he said, “but he didn’t say to stop, but he didn’t say it was okay, either, and he didn’t say anything the next day.  He hasn’t said anything at all.”

           “Oh,” you said lamely, feeling too out of your element to know what to say.  “I mean. Consent is key.”

           “I fucked up,” Jungkook groaned, falling forward onto the bed again.

           “So without him saying anything, it is hard to know,” you said slowly, and Jungkook groaned again.  “But.  Well, I could be wrong, but knowing Jimin, he would have stopped you if he didn’t want you to.”

           “But rape victims say they sometimes find themselves unable to react at all.  They can’t speak or move at all.  What if he didn’t want me to?”

           “Jungkook, have you been looking stuff up?” you said, reaching out to rest a hand on his shoulder.

           “Yes,” the boy groaned again.  “I didn’t mean to rape him.”

           “Okay, listen,” you said, your heart twisting at how distraught your brother sounded and looked, “you’re going to have to talk to him about this.  You can’t continue thinking that you did, right?  Look, look, Jungkook,” you said, pushing on his shoulder so he rolled over some, his pained face staring up at you, “Jimin is complicated.  He needs to be complimented a lot but will deny them when he gets them.  It’s because he doesn’t believe those things about himself.  It will take a long time for him to believe them.  And if you can stick around for him and have patience with him, he’ll get better at hearing those things.  I’ve been telling him for years similar things, and he doesn’t even believe me most of the time, I don’t think.  Even if he knows he needs something, he usually pushes it away.  It’s one reason why I know you’re right for him, because he trusted you so quickly.  But maybe.  Maybe,” you said, clearing your throat and shaking your head a bit, not fully registering that this conversation was happening, “maybe covering his face was his way of trying to, uh, shy or hide away from you.  Not in a rejection sort of way, but more in a, I don’t know. Like, he was enjoying it but was beating himself up for enjoying it all at the same time?”

           “Why the fuck would he do that?” Jungkook said, and you shrugged.

           “I don’t know.  I just think people who aren’t used to physical affection, or, real physical affection, or, I mean,” you floundered.  “Look, Jimin is really touchy, right?  Always in your space?” you said, and Jungkook nodded.  “And you’re not.  So if you are physical with him, that is proof in and of itself that he means something to you.  Does that make sense?”

           “I guess,” Jungkook said slowly.

           “So, if you were trying to prove something to him, it probably worked.  But he probably has wanted it from you for such a long time but has been afraid of asking because he’s afraid of rejection so that when it actually happened he felt like he still didn’t deserve it and didn’t react in what we might call the most positive or encouraging way.”

           “That’s,” Jungkook said, sitting up straighter and frowning at you.  “Really stupid.”  You laughed and patted his knee.

           “So is not talking to him about being afraid you raped him.”

           “No, that is a legitimately concern,” Jungkook huffed.

           “I mean, yes, but it’s dumb to not talk to him. Just talk to him.”

           “That’s.  That’s easier said than done,” he said, his shoulders slumping in defeat.

           “I know.  But that is the solution.  And no, I do not want to be there for it.  Or hear more about your sex life.  Unless you’re ready to hear about Yoongi—”

           “Let’s go eat,” Jungkook said, almost tripping as he hurried off the bed.  Laughing at him, you pushed him so he did hit the floor as you scrambled past him, laughing louder as he cursed and struggled to get up to follow you.  You were going to have to talk to Jimin about his side of the story at some point, but, unlike Jungkook, you imagined he had already talked to Namjoon about it, choosing to go to him instead of his best friend who was a girl and the sister of the guy he was dating.  Still, he had also not communicated well with your brother, and that was inexcusable, considering how upset Jungkook had clearly been for weeks now. For now, you wanted to not think about it at all; not that you didn’t care, it just felt like it wasn’t your business.  You wanted to eat dinner with Jungkook and your dad and then go home to Tae and Yoongi, leaving you brother to be an adult and talk to his boyfriend on his own.  So you did, and you made sure to thank Jungkook for coming over and talking to you even though you reminded him you did not want to hear about his sex life again and he should get to know Hoseok and Jin who could be his crazy gay uncles and offer him, probably, much more applicable advice.  Sending him off with a pat on the back, you headed home and shared the issue with Yoongi that night, smiling when you saw your brother texting you.

 

Jungkook (9:14PM)

Are you a Jimin whisperer?

Because it was exactly what you said

 

You (9:16PM)

Glad I could help

 

Jungkook (9:23PM)
We look angsty

But I promise we’re happy

*Image Attached*

 

You (9:24PM)

Did you just send me a picture of Jimin without pants on?

And is your hair pink?

 

Jungkook (9:26PM)
Yes

No

It’s weird lighting

 

You (9:30PM)

PUT ON PANTS

So you feel better now?

 

Jungkook (9:32PM)

Yeah

Thanks sis

 

Jungkook (9:34PM)

Anytime bro

 

           Smiling, you patted yourself on the back for transiting more and more into the role of an older sister.  Jungkook and Jimin still had a long ways to go when it came to communicating, clearly, but transitioning to being with and living with another person took time, and you hoped they continued to be kind and patient with each other as they figured everything out.

 

           Transiting to being with and living with Yoongi continued to go well in almost all ways.  Yoongi was not one to flaunt his wealth.  Sure, he had a driver, and had always paid you handsomely, and Tae wanted for nothing, and his clothes were almost all designer (even if you couldn’t identify one brand over another), and the house was large and well-furnished, but his demeanor and appearance didn’t scream “money,” especially around the house.  Ripped jeans and black hoodies made him look very “middle class” in your eyes.  Having been raised not poor but not wealthy, either, you still got sticker shock whenever Yoongi bought you any clothes and appreciated that Yoongi seemed to understand the value of money.  If he threw it around easily, you were pretty sure you would start to take it for granted and miss how unique it was that he had worked so hard for everything he had. So, whenever he did throw some grand gesture that was never an attempt to prove how wealthy he was but was always only achievable because he had a lot of money, you were always impressed, and you knew that he enjoyed being able to impress you (“Is this a masculinity thing?” “It’s a, I-like-to-make-my-girlfriend-happy thing.  If that’s alright with you.”  “I guess I’ll allow it”).  You were learning to let him spoil you.  As he didn’t do it excessively, knowing it usually made you uncomfortable, you knew it made him happy to take care of you and make you comfortable and happy.  It didn’t always work flawlessly, as you both sometimes became too stubborn, but overall you were learning to accept Yoongi’s gifts, whatever form they came in.  

           In February, he said something about getting away for a weekend because he was going to be out of town at the end of the month with Hoseok and Namjoon for some award show, and you thought nothing of it except that it would be nice to get away.  You hadn’t grown up traveling, and had only flown once, to visit an aunt, so the idea of a weekend in New York greatly excited you.  Yoongi had been several times, and while he wasn’t a fan of big crowds, he could stand the city for a couple of days.  He arranged for Tae to stay with Hoseok and Jin, to everyone involved’s great delight. It wasn’t until you mentioned the plan to Jimin that you realized the trip wasn’t just random or because Yoongi knew you would miss him later that month.

 

Jimin (2:23PM)

Omg

It’s aromatic gidaway

It’s v day

You idiot

 

You (2:26PM)

Veteran’s day?

Also

Aromatic

It’s gonna smell good

 

Jimin (2:27PM)

Omg

Never speak to me again

 

You (2:28PM)

Jk

Jk

 

Jimin (2:30PM)

Jungkook is currently unavailable

 

You (2:32PM)

The Worst

Jimin

 

You (2:34PM)

Jimin

What does this mean

 

Jimin (2:42PM)

Means he likes you

Idiot

 

You (2:42PM)

I already knew that

 

Jimin (2:44PM)

Joonie and I wish you luck 

*Image Attached*

 

You (2:46PM)

If you weren’t so cute I’d hate you

 

Jimin (2:46PM)

( ˘ ³˘)♥

 

           Considering you had never had a boyfriend, Valentine’s Day had never been on your radar. Sure, in elementary school you had brought the obligatory Valentines for the entire class complete with nasty medicine-like candy hearts.  By high school it had become just another odd right of passage that you skipped, really not caring to go on a date just for the sake of going on a date one day out of the year.  Your parents had never really celebrated it, either, so while you knew the day was over commercialized but also an important day symbolizing people’s love for each other, you had no particular feelings toward the day at all.  But now, if Yoongi was really taking you on a trip because it was Valentine’s Day, you had reason to be nervous.  Should you get him something back?  Were you expected to act different in some way?  Should you tell him you were nervous?  Act like everything was normal?  Unsure, you decided on the last option and packed plenty of warm clothes and got him nothing, even though Jimin was disappointed in you.

           Tae, Jin, and Hoseok came to see you both off at the airport, and perhaps Tae didn’t really realize that you and his dad were leaving, or maybe he really was that excited to stay with his uncles for a few days, or perhaps he was more put together than you, because he didn’t cry at all saying goodbye, and the fact wasn’t lost on you or Yoongi, who both looked at each the moment you sat down in the plane, laughing at how you were sure you were going to miss him more than he was going to miss you, both of you a little miffed at how quickly he dismissed you.

           “Just wait ‘til he goes to college,” you mumbled, and Yoongi squeezed your hand.

           “Don’t.  Please.” You patted his hand with your other one before you buckled up, already enjoying the room in first-class.  You weren’t nervous about flying, and Yoongi clearly wasn’t, either, as he went to sleep soon after takeoff.  The flight went by quickly and smoothly, and Yoongi woke up with a drowsy smile in time to step sleepily off the plane, both of you giving the flight attendants polite smiles.

           “Stay close, yeah?” he said once you were in the airport, and you nodded and held onto his hand, feeling a little overwhelmed at how many people there were. You knew Yoongi had first moved to New York when he arrived in the states years ago but hadn’t stayed long as the city was too expensive.  Still, he knew his way around and navigated easily to the hotel.  You had definitely never stayed in such a fancy hotel and tried to balance between gaping (because while Yoongi would enjoy you being impressed, you didn’t want to look like a fish out of water) and acting like you saw this stuff everyday (because it would make Yoongi sad if you weren’t at least a little impressed, and since you weren’t used to such extravagances, there was no way to hide your curiosity).  You seemed to be balancing quite well, if Yoongi’s smile was any guide, so you left the smile on your face as you followed him to your room.  The room was bigger than necessary, by far.  The bed could probably fit six people.  The bathtub could double as a jacuzzi it was so big, and the suite’s living room was bigger than your dad’s back home.

           “Okay?” Yoongi said after you had looked in every corner and deposited your bags by the bed.  You nodded enthusiastically and put your arms around his waist, rocking back and forth a little on hips as you smiled at him.

           “More than okay.”

           “Good,” he said, giving you a quick kiss.

           “So, do you have things planned?  Or are we swinging by the seat of our pants?”

           “That’s,” Yoongi said, wrinkling his nose, “a weird saying.  I thought we could swing by the MOMA tonight before dinner. Tomorrow the touristy stuff. Sunday chill before our flight.”

           “Sounds good.”

           “Yeah?” Yoongi said, looking a little too nervous.

           “Of course.  I know you’ll take care of me,” you said.  It seemed to be the perfect thing to say to him, because he smiled widely at you and squatted down enough to pick you up and twirl you around once.  “Sap,” you said, whacking his chest playfully before kissing him again.  “Okay, let’s go.”

           “Yah,” he said, trying to reach for you as you ran for the door, “let me lead.”

           “Oh, yes sir,” you said, sticking your tongue out.  When you saw him eyeing your butt you flew open the door and ran giggling down the hallway, but he walked calmly behind you, which only made you press yourself against the wall while waiting for the elevator.  Yoongi raised an eyebrow at you and stood in front of you, waiting also.  You weren’t about to fall for the innocent routine, though, and you slunk around the wall when the doors open, pressing yourself against the opposite side of the elevator with your hands on your butt, watching him closely.

           “What are you doing, baby?” he said, stepping toward you once.

           “Nothing,” you said, pressing your lips together.

           “Oh?” he said, and you knew it was all over for you when he reached for your sides.  Tickling was a low blow, but so was the smack he landed on your ass when you surged forward, pushing at him with your hands.

           “No fair!” you said, shaking against him as you laughed.

           “Behave,” he said simply, helping you straighten up by putting an arm around your back.  When the elevator dinged, you cleared your throat and resisted saying anything else as you followed Yoongi diligently out of the building and to the subway.  And no one could judge you if you made sure you could see where his hands were at all times the rest of the night.

           The purpose if the trip couldn’t be ignored forever, and after an exhausting day touring the city and seeing an obnoxious amount of red and hearts, you really wanted to just crash and be lazy in the room, but Yoongi had dinner reservations, and you were particularly hungry after walking so much.

           “Come on, baby,” Yoongi said, poking your side gently as you lay face-down on the bed, groaning a little.  “Go shower and put this on, yeah?”

           “What?” you said, rolling over to see him holding a silver dress with a black lace pattern on the top.  “Yoongi. That’s really fancy.”

           “Yeah?  But look,” he said, rotating the dress on the hanger and sticking his hand into a pocket. You opened your mouth dramatically and put a hand on your forehead.

           “My hero,” you said breathily, and he laughed before putting the dress on the bed beside you.  “Were you really carrying this in your bag?”

           “Yeah.”

           “That would’ve been so awkward if they had to open your bag and ask you why you had a dress,” you said, laughing at the image.

           “Hey, one should not be judged for his fashion choices—”

           “Oh my god, get out of here,” you laughed, kicking lamely at him.  He only winked before leaving.  The giant-ass room had two bathrooms, too, so you both got ready at the same time.  Trying to stifle a yawn and rolling your eyes when you saw how low cut the dress was in the back, you opened the bathroom door to let out the steam while you finished getting ready, noticing Yoongi already sitting on the bed with his phone in his hand, his gaze occasionally looking up at you.  “Why does this thing fit so well?” you said at one point, and Yoongi only shrugged as he threw his phone down to watch you completely.

           “I know your measurements.”

           “That’s.  A little creepy,” you said slowly, watching his reflection in the mirror shrug again.

           “Or really sweet.  Means I notice and put in thought.  Tomato tomato,” he said.

           “I know you care,” you said seriously, making sure he knew you weren’t only teasing him.  “The pockets are proof enough that you listen,” you smiled, sticking your hands in them and spinning around to smile at him.

           “I do have good taste,” he said, holding his hand out to you.  You walked toward him until you could reach him, and he pulled you forward until your knees hit his.  “You look nice,” he said as he ran his hands down your hips and legs.

           “Just nice?” you said, sighing but smiling fondly at the tie not done around his neck.

           “Beautiful,” he whispered, and you smiled at him before bending down to fix his tie.  Even though you had done this a million times, and you were used by now to being even closer to him, there was something about the way he watched you while you pulled at the silk around his throat that made the butterflies (“Ha! I told you they were butterflies!”  “Okay, Jimin, it’s nothing to gloat about.”  “Oh, yes, yes it is.  I will never let you live this down”) hatch in your stomach and your face burn.  His hand finding the dress’ slit so he could rub his hand up and down your thigh directly didn’t exactly help you focus, either, and neither did the way he was clearly watching your eyes flicker over your hands as you worked swiftly to finish.

           “So,” you said softly, trying to distract him so he wouldn’t watch you so intensely.  “Where are we going to eat?”

           “Just a restaurant,” he mumbled, and you glared up at him before tugging on his tie as you finished.  You didn’t lean away yet, because you knew what he wanted, and you ran your fingers up his neck and around his face, tilting his head a little so you could kiss his jaw slowly.

           “And what are we going to eat?”

           “Just some food,” he said, his hand on your hip tightening.

           “And what are we doing after that?”

           “Just some stuff,” Yoongi said, done being teased as he pinched your thigh. You snickered against his cheek before pulling away.

           “I like stuff,” you said, fixing his hair as you stood up.

           “I know you do, baby,” he said, smacking your butt again, causing you to scream in frustration and push him down.  He flopped on the bed with a laugh, and you walked away from him.

           “No stuff unless you feed me first.  Hurry up.”  All you heard was another groan behind you before you heard Yoongi doing just that, bringing you your coat so you could finally leave.

           You had gotten over any self-doubt around Yoongi at home apart from the occasional times when you felt like a burden or felt inexperienced and naïve when you had a certain question for him, but some of the self-consciousness you had experienced the first time he took you to an event still surfaced when you were dressed up nicely out in public with him.  Perhaps part of it was simply how differently he looked in a suit, how nice (“Just nice?”) he looked, no longer swimming in loose and oversized clothes, that made you feel out of place.  Perhaps it was the higher chance of people recognizing him in such an attire, his clothes setting him apart from you even if you were wearing an expensive dress he bought you.  You weren’t uncomfortable in that you didn’t want to sit at the restaurant across from him, having a mini crisis for a moment about which fork to use first, but you were a little anxious.  The significance of the day was beginning to creep up on you, too, especially every time the waiter came by, some unexplained fear that they were going to assume something or say something bubbling up with each step they got closer to your table.  The slightly odd look at Yoongi for resisting anything to drink wasn’t lost on you, either, that tiny voice telling you you were too young for him whispering to you as it sometimes did as the waiter went away again.  Then, as you found yourself unable to think of anything to talk about, your nerves only increased.  By the time your entrees arrived, you were biting your lip more than your food and looking out the window at the city lights more than at Yoongi.  He had clearly noticed your unease, and you smiled awkwardly at him when he put his fork down.

           “Hey,” he said softly, his brows furrowed.  “Come over here?”  Looking around the room for a second, though you weren’t quite sure why, perhaps wondering if you should take your chair with you but ultimately deciding against it, you put your napkin by your table and walked over to Yoongi.  You took his extended hand and let him run his thumb over your knuckles for a moment as he looked up at you.  “Thought you were hungry?”

           “Stomach’s a little queasy,” you replied honestly, and the concern on his face only increased.

           “Think it was the pizza at lunch?”

           “No,” you said, taking his hand that had probably instinctively reached for your stomach.  “Nervous.”

           “Why?” He said, and you shrugged.

           “You make me nervous sometimes,” you said, still not lying.

           “Oh, that’s cute,” he said, smiling and squeezing your hand reassuringly.  “Ready to leave then?”  You nodded and were glad the restaurant had been within walking distance of your hotel because with each step you got more and more tired, and by the time you were in the elevator you didn’t fight Yoongi pulling you in for a hug, instead glad for the warmth and support of his chest to rest your head on. You managed to kick your own shoes off once you got back to your room, but Yoongi took your jacket and nudged you gently toward the bedroom.  You shuffled toward it and started to take your dress off but Yoongi was suddenly behind you, his hands pulling yours away and wrapping them around your stomach instead.

           “Hey,” he said, his voice close enough to your ear that even his whisper sounded loud.  “You sure you’re okay?”

           “Yeah,” you nodded.  “Had a great day.  Just got too tired, I think.  Sorry I wasn’t good company at dinner.”

           “It’s okay,” he said soothingly, dropping your hands to take the clips out of your hair and run his fingers over your scalp until your hair was loose and hanging freely around your head.  “It was probably a bit much, huh?”

           “Just a little,” you said honestly.  “But not in a bad way.  I just felt out of place.”  He hummed and pulled your hair aside so he could cup your neck, his fingers putting just enough pressure against your skin to make your head tilt down a little.

           “I don’t like when you feel out of place when you’re with me,” he said simply, and you could picture him frowning.

           “I know.  Sorry.”

           “Don’t apologize.  Just tell me sooner next time, yeah?  It was just us, so it’s not like we had to be there or stay for any reason whatsoever. Even at parties you know most of the time I’d just love an excuse to leave early.”

           “I know,” you laughed.  “I’m like your get out of jail free card.”

           “You are.  And I appreciate you.”

           “I appreciate you, too,” you said, trying to turn around to see him, but his grip was too strong.  “And I’m really grateful you brought me this weekend.”

           “Of course, baby,” he said, kissing you under your neck before he removed his hand. He kissed the side of your neck and ran one of his hands down the side of your dress in the back until he reached the zipper at your waist.  He barely tugged on it when you burst out,

           “I didn’t get you anything for Valentine’s Day,” and his hand stilled on your zipper, reminiscent of a similar night so many days ago.

           “Well, that’s good,” he said slowly, “because I didn’t get you anything, either.”

           “What?” you said, trying to turn around again unsuccessfully.  “Then what is all this?”

           “It’s,” he said, “just a vacation.”

           “You’re a terrible liar,” you huffed, and Yoongi, undeterred, continued undressing you.  

           “Oh, I’m doing this all backwards,” he said when your dress slipped off, and you crossed your arms to try to keep yourself warm, finally turning around to look at him.  He looked a little lost, so you reached up to undo his tie to help.

           “What’s backwards?”

           “Was going to run you a bath,” he mumbled, pulling you close which you appreciated even if his suit was a little too rough against your skin.

           “Did you want me to stay dressed for that?” you smirked, pulling his tie out of his collar and proceeding to work on his shirt buttons.  “Because I don’t know how you take your baths, but typically—”

           “Here I am,” Yoongi said firmly, pinching your waist, “trying to be helpful, and you’re just being a brat.”

           “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” you hummed, untucking his shirt and shivering when you fumbled with his belt.

           “See, you’re cold.  That’s what I meant.  Should run the water first.”

           “That would have been smarter,” you nodded, pulling out his belt.

           “Come’re,” he mumbled when you were done, tugging at the back of your thighs.

           “I know you think the idea is sexy, but I guarantee you that dropping me will be the exact opposite of it,” you warned him, poking his chest once.  He only rolled his eyes and squatted down a bit, and when he pulled you up you jumped a little to help and laughed as you flung your legs and arms around him.

           “See?” he said as he waddled toward the bathroom, and you kissed the top of his head, laughing into his hair.

           “Yes, very impressive.”

           “Okay, get down,” he said quickly, and you laughed as you hopped down, the bathroom tile cold underneath your feet.  You started to shift from one foot to another as he turned on the bath, his shirt falling open as he bent down.  You watched him stick his finger under the faucet a few times, flicking the water off immediately until he found the right temperature.  “That’ll take a minute,” he said to himself, nodding before walking past you.  You waited patiently even if you were cold and watched curiously as he dropped something into the water.  It immediately fizzled and started coloring the water.

           “You brought a bath bomb?”

           “Yeah,” Yoongi said simply, finishing undressing.  As soon as he was he shivered, too. “Shit, why is it so cold in here? Come on,” he said, stepping into the bath and reaching for you.  You hurried to take off your underwear and take his hand to help you in.  You felt like you could swim in the bathtub, it was so big, but you opted with just sitting in front of Yoongi so he could play with your hair instead.  You both sat quietly for a few minutes, shivering until the water got high enough, which, when Yoongi deemed it so, he reached to turn off the faucet, the only sound for a few more moments the last drips of water escaping.  You could hear Yoongi and yourself breathing, too, of course, and your fingers as they moved slowly under the water, barely visible due to the various colors still mixing with the water.

           “I am sorry again I didn’t get you a present,” you mumbled, and Yoongi’s fingers moved slowly under the water over your stomach before settling against your skin.

           “It’s really okay.  I was talking to your dad again the other day—”

           “Again?  Do you do that often?”

           “And I realized that presence is really important to you,” Yoongi continued, ignoring your question.  “It makes sense.  I just want you to know I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere.  So I hope you don’t go anywhere, either.”

           “I hope you know you’re turning me into a sap,” you teased, grateful you could blame the warm water for the burning in your cheeks.

           “Presence is really important to me, too,” Yoongi said, kissing the back of your next softly.  “So I’m just glad you’re here.”

           “You’re very easy to please,” you said.

           “I’m a simple guy,” he said, kissing you again.  “And you’re a simple girl.  I like hand stuff, you like head stuff.”

           “Yeah, speaking of which,” you trailed off, grabbing one of his hands and plopping it, water falling into your face and all, on top of your head.

           “Whatever you want, baby,” he said, and you really believed him, even if your cheeks did burn a little more and your stomach did flip again at the comment. Perhaps you were still too used to transactional relationships, where you were expected to give something back after someone gave you something.  Yoongi didn’t expect that or want that, and while it was something you wanted to transition into fully accepting, you knew it would take a while.  Still, you were comforted to know Yoongi knew that and didn’t expect you to adjust any faster than you were capable of.  Yoongi simply gave a lot of himself to you, his time, his money, his comfort, and demanded nothing in return.  That only made you want to give something back to him, but you realized that there was a transition happening behind the reason behind your actions.  You didn’t want to give something Yoongi in return purely because he had given you something, you wanted to give him something because you loved him.  And perhaps, of all of the transitions that happened that spring, learning to love Yoongi was the hardest but easiest of all.

Chapter Text

           The first time it happened, you were so caught off guard you weren’t really able to appreciate it.  

           Tae had been going successfully to school for months. Unsurprisingly, he had made friends with practically everyone in his class, and now, much to his delight, and your and Yoongi’s amusement, he had friends over all the time on the days he wasn’t at school.  The parents in the class had come to love Tae and you because of it.  Kids would often come home with drawings Tae had made them or with stories of how he saved them during recess from the (imaginary) monster or how he had taught them a new Korean word.  He was currently determined to learn to read so he could take over story time from the teacher, because according to everyone, Tae did the best voices and told the best stories.  He didn’t need books to do that; his imagination was more advanced than anyone you had ever met, but he still wanted to learn to read.  The parents, while some still seemed judgmental of your position, whether it was over the fact that you were a nanny and didn’t “do” anything else or because you were sleeping with your boss, appreciated all of the what was essentially free babysitting.  And you had successfully not had any accidents yet, and parents gossip (talk), so they knew you were at least safe.  Those who did still seem to act entitled around you or tried a bit too much to act like your boss, as well, you endured for Tae and Yoongi’s sake. Tae’s teacher loved him, too, which also wasn’t a surprise, and always had positive things to say about him. While he still had tantrums sometimes at home—the biggest change was a sudden hatred of naps (“I don’t have time to nap, Y/N, I have things to do.”  “Alright, little man”) which you had finally seemed to be gaining control over again by convincing Yoongi to take a break from work to take a quick nap with his son—he had yet to have one at school even after four months.  So, one morning after dropping him off, you were working in your dad’s shop when your phone rang.  When you saw it was Tae’s teacher calling, you immediately picked up, getting your dad’s attention to let him know you would be right back as you stepped outside to take the call.

           “Hello?”

           “Hello, is this Y/N?” There was something that always made you feel disoriented about phone calls.  You tried to picture where the teacher was.  Why the sounds on her end seemed so jumbled and echoey.  

           “Yes,” you said, and a particular sound on her end made your heart race and stomach twist.  “Is Tae okay?”

           “Yes, yes, he’s,” the lady said, and you realized immediately what was happening.  You moved quickly to grab your keys.  “He’s having a bit of a fit.”  

           “I understand.  What happened?”

           “I am not exactly sure.  He was playing with Ace and Michael when he just came to me and started crying.”

           “Is he,” you said, trying to breathe, “flailing around or just lying on the ground?”

           “Oh,” Mrs. Williams said, perhaps surprised that you could tell exactly what was happening, “he’s just lying here.”

           “Okay,” you said, frowning when you heard another cry from Tae over the phone.  “If he’ll let you, you need to hold him.”

           “I did already try that,” the lady said, and you hoped she wasn’t annoyed at your suggestion.  You did feel bad for her; she was a saint.  Anyone who taught five-year-olds was a saint.  “But I’m calling because he keeps asking for his mother.”  The word made you halt as you climbed into your truck.  You lowered yourself slowly into your seat before you composed yourself.

           “His mother?”

           “Yes, so I tried calling his father, Mr. Min? But he didn’t answer—”

           “He’s with a client this morning.”

           “So you are the next on the list to call.  I was wondering if you knew how I could reach his mother?”

           “She,” you said, starting the truck, reveling in how its roar spoke for how you felt, “is not in the picture.  So, no, I can’t tell you.  Are you sure he asked for his mother?  He’s never even met her.”

           “Oh,” the teacher said as another sob broke out of Tae.  “That is what he keeps saying, though.”

           “In English?” you asked as you drove as quickly but as safely as you could toward the school, trying to think of what Tae was asking for.

           “Yes, ‘mommy,’ specifically.”

           “Okay, well, I’m on the way,” you said, frowning. You were about to hang up so you could text Yoongi, but you had one other idea, even though you were sure it was an absurd one.  “Mrs. Williams?  Could you ask Tae what his mom’s name is?”

           “Okay,” the teacher drew out the word, clearly confused, but you heard some shuffling before her voice was but a murmur.  Tae’s cries had become louder, perhaps as she got closer to him, but he calmed down enough to say something in return.  She asked him something else before he responded again.  “Oh,” she said, her voice suddenly seeming too loud in your ear, “I’m.  I’m sorry,” she said, sounding confused and conflicted, which only made your stomach tighten more as your hand gripped your steering wheel expectantly.  “He does seem confused.  You are his nanny, aren’t you?”

           “Yes,” you said.  “What did he say?”

           “Oh, well, he said your name.  Apparently he thinks you’re his mother?  Are you—”

           But you hung up, throwing your phone into the passenger seat.

           Tae had this capability of completely melting when he had “noodle” tantrums, and when you arrived at the school, bursting through the door like a crazy person, you barely registered the pile on the floor as a small human child.  You felt like your heart swoop into your stomach only to leap back through your throat when you saw his little head, his hair in complete disarray (“He needs another haircut, it’s growing like a weed.”  “He wants a mullet; let him grow it out.”  “How in the world does he know what a mullet is?”  “Blame Hoseok.  I mean, I usually blame him for any of Tae’s weird ideas”), lift up off of the lump that was his crumpled body.  His wet face only made you choke as you flew to him, dropping to the floor to scoop him into your arms.  Your arrival only brought a fresh onslaught of tears, and you willed yourself to not cry, too, distraught over how broken up he was.  You only held him for what felt like an eternity while too short of a time as well, soothing him by holding him close and whispering into his ear, all while his teacher stood awkwardly by.  All of his energy did eventually run out, and he stilled and quieted in your arms, so you shifted until you were more comfortable on the floor, still holding him in your lap.

           “I am sorry again,” the teacher said, suddenly too shy for her age and experience.

           “It’s really okay,” you assured you.  “Do you think you could talk to Ace and, who was it?”

           “Michael.”

           “Michael, to see what happened?”

           “Of course,” she said, smiling now.  You felt slightly bad for telling her how to do her job, but you needed to know what caused all of this.

           “And if it’s alright, I’d like to take Tae home early today.”

           “Of course,” his teacher said again.  “I’ll go get his bag.  Take all the time you need.”  You were in her tiny office right next to their room, and you felt a little nervous for Tae.  Unless the kids were outside, there was no way they hadn’t heard him crying for the past hour or so.

           “Tae,” you said, running your hand up and down his back as soon as the teacher left, “can you look at me, please?”  You almost regretted asking, because when he pried his head off of your shoulder to look up at you, his face made your heart plummet again. Cupping his cheeks gently, you smiled at him as best as you could.  “Can you tell me what happened?”

           “M-Michael said no-no one loves Ace and m-me.”

           “What?” you said, trying to keep your voice light.

           “’Cause we don’t ha-have m-moms.”

           “What?” you said again, pressing your lips together and trying to be patient.  You could have sworn you had met Ace’s mom before, too, so you weren’t sure what Tae meant.  “Ace has a mommy, though, doesn’t he?”

           “She’s l-leaving him,” Tae hiccupped.

           “Oh, kiddo, what do you mean?”

           “His mommy a-and d-daddy fight all the time. He-he says they yell a-at each other.”

           “Okay, sweetie,” you said, wiping more tears away from his face.  “What do you mean she’s leaving?”

           “Ace said they’re g-getting a d-d,” Tae frowned, clearly struggling.

           “A divorce?” you offered, and he nodded at that.

           “Okay, that doesn’t mean Ace doesn’t have a mommy, though.  Why do you think Michael said that?”

           “I d-don’t know,” Tae said, shrugging so helplessly you kissed his forehead.  “I t-told him he was wrong.  I-I said Ace has a mommy, and so I do.  But he-he. He called me a liar.”  As you asked questions, you were beginning to put together all of the reasons why Tae might have had such an intense meltdown. Tae hated being called a liar. With his active imagination, it had happened on more than one occasion that people, especially other adults, grew suspicious when he recounted something that had actually happened to him. The day he had shared with the class that he knew Namjoon, a famous enough rapper that several of the kids knew who he was, he was called a liar and had come home to recount the story in tears.  Tae needed to be heard, and when he felt like people didn’t believe him, he became easily upset.  Another reason he might have been upset was because of how fiercely he had protected Ace from day one of meeting the kid.  Even at the age of five, Tae seemed to emphasize with others at such a level that he felt for them.  He was too young to quite understand what was happening, and he certainly didn’t know how to control all of the extra emotions that came with caring so deeply for others.  It was a blessing and a curse, but ultimately it only made him a helpful individual.

           “Tae,” you said softly, still trying to figure out what had made him so upset.  “You’re not a liar.  And you and Ace have mommies.  And you are loved so, so much.  He shouldn’t have said any of those things.  Can-can you tell me why you started crying?”

           “I d-don’t want Ace to n-not have a mommy. E-everyone should have a mo-mommy,” he said, crying anew.

           “Oh, hey,” you whispered, letting him crash into your chest again as he heaved.  As you tried to calm him down again, you finally managed to send a text to Yoongi about the situation, hoping his meeting was over or would be soon.  Tae was going to need all of the attention and love he could get today.  “Tae,” you said over and over again until his cries subsided enough for him to hear you. “You know you have a mommy, right? Do you understand that?”

           “D-don’t,” he said.

           “Don’t understand or don’t have a mommy?”

           “Don’t h-have a m-mommy,” he whimpered, and you rubbed his back again.

           “Tae,” you said gently, “when you told Mrs. Williams you wanted your mommy, you said you wanted me.  May I ask why?”  His little shoulders shrugged against your chest before sinking in defeat again.

           “Want you,” he mumbled.  You pried him off of you again and held him up by his shoulders so you could look at him.

           “I’m here.  What do you mean?”

           “W-want you to b-be my mommy,” he sniffled, and if your heart already wasn’t bursting, it did now.  The word struck some unexplainable fear into you because Tae…Tae was so sensitive and gentle.  He had a ton of love to give, and he needed a lot of affection in return.  He felt greatly and was easily hurt.  He was more aware than people gave him credit for, and more observant than most kids his age.  He knew what he wanted and was often too stubborn when he didn’t get it. He was fiercely loyal and while not violent, would fight for what he believed was right.  Everyone needs a mom.  That didn’t have to be the woman who had birthed them.  It didn’t even need to be a female.  It definitely didn’t need to be someone related to them by blood.  You weren’t sure how to even define what a mom was, anymore, so while you did not feel like Tae’s mom, you had felt like his mom for months.  You knew you would have to talk to Yoongi about it, but if the label would help Tae, then he could use it as much as he wanted.  You looked closely at him, aware that you were taking too long to think, as he watched you expectantly, so much worry and fear in his eyes.  You took his head gently in your hands again and kissed the top of his hair, then his forehead, then his nose and both of his cheeks.  By the time you pulled away, there was the tiniest hint of a smile on his face, and that was confirmation enough for you.

           “I’d love to be your mommy, Tae.”  Tae’s smile could, surely, cure diseases.  His grip around your neck as he hugged you may kill you, too, but at least you would die happy.  The two of you continued to take all of the time you needed, though you were much relieved Tae was no longer crying.  He breathed easily against your chest, now, and you absentmindedly started to hum some song Yoongi had been working on lately, the vibrations radiating through him enough to make him sigh contently.  By the time Yoongi arrived with Mrs. Williams in tow, Tae was sitting up in your lap, animatedly telling you about what Ace and he had been playing before the arrival of Michael.  At the sight of his dad, his face lit up enough to make you smile, and you endured him stepping on you to get up so he could hug Yoongi.

           “Hey, buddy, you okay?”

           “Yeah, daddy.  How are you?”  Chuckling, Yoongi bent down to pick up his son, and you saw him giving him a lookover as he held him.

           “I am great.  Thank you for asking.  Uncle Namjoon says hello.”

           “Hello, Uncle Joonie,” Tae smiled, making Yoongi laugh again.

           “Mrs. Williams told me what happened, but I want you to tell me, too, okay?”

           “Okay daddy,” Tae said seriously, nodding.

           “But first, she says there are some people who need to talk to you.  Is that alright?”  Tae nodded again, and Yoongi kissed him on the forehead before putting him down, taking his hand and wiggling his other one at you.  Smiling up at him, you let him help you up, and the three of you followed the teacher out.  You immediately tensed when you saw how many people were sitting at the tiny tables in the classroom.  You hadn’t noticed how late it had gotten, and it was well after the time when the half-day students went home.  Ace and his parents sat at one of the tables while another boy, who you recognized as Michael, sat with his at another table.  Michael had been over a couple of times to play, though he definitely wasn’t one your or Tae’s favorite kids, and his parents had never been particularly kind toward you, so you told yourself to calm down.  Yoongi was the official parent, and he handled conflict calmer than you ever did.  Ace was clearly Tae’s best friend, and he had also clearly been crying, which Tae also noticed.  With a cry of the boy’s name, he broke away from Yoongi to run and hug his friend. Ace’s parents looked stressed and uncomfortable, and you steadied yourself for the inevitable conversation. Mrs. Williams cleared her throat as you and Yoongi sat in two of the mini chairs across from the other families.

           “Tae and Ace, Michael has something to say to you.” The two friends separated themselves but held each other’s hands as they turned to the other boy.  He stood leaning against his father’s leg and fumbled by kicking the carpet once.

           “I’m sorry for saying mean things.”  He was good.  Maybe believable.  Tae and Ace, however, were clearly good.  Too good. They both smiled at him and, almost simultaneously, said,

           “I forgive you.”

           “Thank you, Michael,” his teacher said.  “Now, I would like to talk to your parents—”

           “Then she should leave,” someone said, and you squeezed Yoongi’s hand tightly.  You didn’t need to look at who said it; it was clearly Michael’s mother, and she was clearly talking about you.  Yoongi started to say something, but you pulled on his hand, causing him to look over at you with a frown.

           “The nanny-girlfriend doesn’t have parental rights,” you whispered, kissing his cheek in some attempt to soothe him. “I’ll take the boys outside so you can all talk,” you said louder, standing up and reaching your hand out to Tae as you let go of Yoongi’s.  He immediately came to take it, Ace trailing behind him, and the three of you looked expectantly at Michael.  His parents didn’t particularly look happy, but they nodded at him, and you ushered the boys toward the door.  The classroom led right out to a large play area, and you opened the door for the three boys, turning around before you left, too.

           “You may say it’s none of my business,” you said, addressing Ace’s parents, “but Ace is a great kid, and Tae really enjoys spending time with him.  It makes him sad to see Ace so upset.  Ace is worried about losing both of you.  I hope you can think of him when you’re making your decision.”  The rest of the adults in the room looked a little lost, but you didn’t miss the way Ace’s mom’s face tightened and his dad’s melted a little.  With a closed-lip smile at Yoongi, you took your leave.

           By the time Mrs. Williams waved you all back inside, almost an hour later, the boys, and you, were extremely hungry and, Tae particularly, exhausted.  You weren’t sure if Ace’s mom crying was a good or bad sign, but you were relieved when the farewells went quickly and Yoongi seemed calmer than you were expecting. He let you drive them to lunch, Tae sitting in between you in your truck and recounting his outdoor adventures to his dad.  He half-sat and half-stood in the booth at the pizza place, and he laughed as you found a stool for him to play at the pinball machine that stood in the corner. The food only made his exhaustion hit him even harder, and as you drove home he slept, leaning against Yoongi’s arm. He seemed pacified, and while he wouldn’t forget what happened earlier, you just hoped his sadness wouldn’t linger too long.  Glad you wouldn’t have to fight him on a nap today, and more relived that he felt safe and loved enough to sleep, you asked Yoongi what had happened early with the other parents, and he laughed a little hollowly.

           “Do you know that sometimes I feel like a completely failure?” he said, and the question completely threw you, as you didn’t see what it had to do with what you asked at all.  Unable to formulate a response, Yoongi continued.  “And this may make me sound like an arrogant ass, but sometimes, when I feel like a screw up, I see other people, and it’s not that they’re more messed up than me, it’s just that they’re also messed up.  Messed up in their own way.  Those four, wow.  I am not sure what’s up with Michael’s parents, but they clearly have issues.  And Ace’s do, too, though theirs are more obvious.  Who told you about their divorce?”

           “Tae.”

           “Shit,” Yoongi whispered, looking down at his son. He sighed and put his arm around him, his fingers brushing against your thigh since the space was so limited. “It turned into an extremely awkward couples’ therapy session.  I kind of never want to see them again.”

           “Why?” you said, stifling a laugh at how distraught he sounded.

           “Because I told them practically everything. About Kwon.  You.  I shouldn’t have.  I don’t trust Michael’s parents.  But whatever. I think we forget how much we affect our kids, and how much they notice.  How much they feel.  I don’t know. Ace’s parents seem to be having second thoughts, now.  Maybe they’ll go to therapy for real.”

           “What, who said you don’t count?”

           “Ha,” Yoongi said, swatting your leg playfully. “You came up, inevitably, too.  I wasn’t about to let that lady get away with inferring you’re just Tae’s nanny.”

           “Yeah?  What did you say?” you said, glad you were driving and couldn’t look at him, knowing he was probably giving you one of his dreaming smiles he had whenever he watched you wash dishes or play with Tae.

           “Ace’s parents love you.  His mom, especially.  I barely had to say anything, honestly.  She kept going on about how you’re a better mom to Ace than she is.  I mean, I contradicted her, of course, because that was the right thing to do—”

           “Of course.”

           “But she seems to get it.  And Mrs. Williams mentioned Tae called you his mom?”  You hummed in affirmation and Yoongi went silent. He was quiet for long enough for you to get nervous, and at the next red-light you looked over at him, but he only, as you should have known, had a dopey grin on his face.

           “What?” you said, squirming and looking back at the road.

           “Do you want him to call you mom?”

           “I told him he could,” you said.

           “That’s not what I asked.  Do you want him to?”

           “It’s fine,” you mumbled, but Yoongi’s voice changed to the tone that you recognized all too well.

           “Y/N.  We have to figure this out.  The sooner the better.  I know you’re not exactly comfortable with this mom stuff.  So I need to know.”

           “It’s fine.  Really.  I.  I mean,” you said, glad you were almost home. You glanced over at Tae to make sure he was still sleeping.  “It scares the shit out of me, Yoongi.  I don’t want to mess it up.  I could never forgive myself if I hurt him.”

           “Oh, Y/N,” Yoongi said softly, “the fact that you say that just means you give a shit.  That’s a good quality for a mom to have.”  There was some other comment or question on his lips, but he only smiled, and you didn’t feel confident in responding coherently, your emotions a bit of a mess, so you just finished driving home.  Your heart had broken for how sad Tae had been earlier.  You had been furious at some five-year-old for being so rude to your kid.  You had felt unwanted and insignificant when dismissed so quickly by those who were real parents.  You felt terrified and nervous and excited all at the same time about the prospect of Tae calling you his mom.  But mostly you felt loved.

           The first time it happened, you were, in hindsight, surprised it hadn’t been said sooner.  Yoongi’s stupid dopey smile didn’t go away the rest of the day, which only caused you to be flustered, because you knew what he was thinking about, and you really couldn’t look at him when Tae was in the same room when he got that way.  So you were relieved when Tae actually asked to go to bed early, clearly still exhausted after the day’s events even after his long nap, and Yoongi seemed so, too, considering he locked his door and started stripping after you put Tae to bed. You couldn’t help but laugh at him now as you waited for him to help you out of your clothes (“Let me do it, baby.” “I can undress myself, Yoongi.” “No you can’t, baby, let me do it.” “Is this some weird masculinity thing?”), smiling at his eagerness even as he pushed you back onto his bed and hovered for a second over you, his hands already running all over you.  He found his favorite spot on your stomach in the dip right by your hip and brushed his thumb over it before bending down to kiss you, a little slow for how excited he seemed.  You didn’t complain, though, forcing yourself to stop smiling to help your lips align better.

           “I’ve been waiting for months, baby,” he said, pulling away from you only to press slow and lazy kisses down your chest.

           “To have sex?” you huffed, cradling your fingers in his hair.  “Yoongi, we literally had sex two nights ago.”

           “No,” he groaned, blowing a raspberry on your stomach, making you choke on a squeal and whack his head, “for Tae to call you mom.”

           “What are you talking about?” you said, pulling on Yoongi’s hair so he could stop tickling you so much.

           “We’ve been talking about it,” he said, sitting up a little, but too much of his weight was still resting on your stomach and hips as he pulled you further down the bed so he could leave kisses along your ribcage.  “Since January.”

           “Oh,” you said, remembering the way Yoongi had told off that woman at your dad’s house months ago.  “Oh,” you said again, sucking in a breath when he nipped gently at your hip.  “Yoongi, Yoongi,” you said, fumbling to pull him up again.  He raised his head and looked at you, his eyes making your stomach swoop underneath one of his hands that was spreading gently over your skin. “You really.  It’s really okay if he does?”

           “Of course, baby.  Nothing would make me happier.  I just want you to be comfortable and happy.”

           “W-why?” you said, blinking dumbly at him.  He blinked back before moving, his weight leaving you until he was lying beside you, pulling you close to him.

           “Why what?” he said, once you were looking at him, and you realized he had said two things.  You were not, would never again, question why he wanted you to be happy and comfortable.

           “Why would him calling me mom make you happy? Aren’t you worried?”

           “Of course.  But you once told me worry isn’t always bad.  It means I care.  I want Tae to have a mom.  Not just any mom, but a good one, you know?  A great mom.  And that wasn’t my intention when I first hired you, but, baby, you’re perfect with him. Surely you know that by now.  You get him at his best and his worst.  So he and I talked about it.  We have been.  I wanted to make sure he understood as much as he could about what it meant.  After today, I think he finally it.  You’re his mom, Y/N, if you’ll have him.  You can’t be just considered the nanny anymore.  Or even just my girlfriend.  He needs a mom.  And I think he’s had one for a few months now.”

           “Yoongi,” you said, burying your face into his chest, choking as a sob broke through you.  “Why am I crying?”

           “I don’t know,” he said slowly, rubbing your back soothingly.  “I hope they’re happy tears?”

           “I think.  Yeah.  I mean, I’m not sad,” you said, chuckling awkwardly.

           “I know it’s a lot,” he whispered.  “And this isn’t exactly how I thought we would end up talking about it, but.  Kids, am I right?”

           “You’re right,” you said, laughing outright and wiping your face clean.  “I’m sorry for ruining the mood again,” you said, letting him wipe at your face, too.

           “It’s okay, baby, I love you,” he said, his eyes searching your face as he moved his thumb over your cheek.  He seemed to take longer than you to register what he just said, because you were already staring at him by the time his eyes met yours. “Uh,” he said, biting his lip once and blinking quickly before his brow furrowed slightly.  “I’m not taking it back.  But.  Again. Not exactly how I expected talking about this to go.  I know it’s a lot.  You don’t—”

           “Yoongi,” you said, pushing a finger against his lips so he would stop before he started rambling.  “You mean it?”

           “Of course.”

           “Love you, too, Yoongi,” you whispered with surprising ease, reaching up to kiss him.  It took too long for him to respond again, which made you laugh, but he half-yelped, half-groaned before pushing you back over so he could climb on top of you.

           “Really?” he said, something uncharacteristically shy in his tone and eyes as he straddled your hips and grabbed both of your hands to play with your fingers.  The juxtaposing of the pressure on your hips and his gentle movement over your fingers made your head spin a bit, but Yoongi tended to have that affect on you.  You resisted rolling your eyes at his question, though.

           “Really, really.  Don’t go all masculine on me.”

           “I’ll go on Yoongi on you,” he said, and you did roll your eyes then.

           “Don’t ever speak in the third person again, that is too weird.”

           “Yoongi loves you,” he said, smiling evilly.

           “Stop,” you squirmed.

           “Y/N loves Yoongi.”

           “Stop,” you whined, trying to raise your thigh enough to get him off of you, but he only laughed and pinned down your wrists too quickly before you could stop him.  You squirmed once before lying still, knowing it was pointless. “Yoongi?” you said gently, and he hummed, looking down at you.  “Really love me?”

           “Of course, baby.”

           “Prove it,” you said, sticking out your tongue briefly before biting your lip.  He rolled his eyes but he did his best.  It’s not that you had any reason to not believe him, but it was nice (“Nice? Only nice?  Not mind-blowing?” “You really want to blow my mind?” “Maybe.  Help my ego just a little here, baby.”  “If you blew my mind I’d be a complete ball of mush.  Is that want you want?”  “Baby, stop teasing me.”  “A ball of mush could not tease.”  “Baby”) that he left you with no doubt over whether he meant it or not by the time you were done.

Chapter Text

          Months ago, you came to the realization that you would do basically anything for Tae.  And Yoongi. And Jimin, but you knew that already. And your dad, but you had felt that for years.  Some teacher had explained to you that you only have one heart (which, you didn’t think you were a Time Lord, so you knew biologically speaking that was correct), so you must be careful who you give it away to.  Each little piece you gave away could never be gotten back.  As a child, you had been amazed and scared, not wanting to give your heart away to the wrong person.  The idea now seemed preposterous.  The teacher had surely gotten it wrong.  Your heart was only getting bigger the more you loved and let others love you.  Maybe that meant you could get more easily, but every pro came with a con, and it was a risk you were willing to take.  

          Tae, with the freedom to call you mom, suddenly called you nothing else, and loved, in an almost embarrassing by still endearing way, to introduce you as such anytime he met someone new.  And, if you went anywhere with Tae, he was bound to meet at least five new people.  The title’s novelty had worn off, but there was something about the way Tae said it that still left you warm by the time summer came around.  Tae was, as he was about most things, a bundle of excitement but also hesitation about the upcoming months.  For one, he wouldn’t get to go to school for two months, and when you first explained the idea to him he had immediately cried, some part of his brain translating summer to having no friends.  However, once you consoled him, he was excited to learn summer meant more freedom to have friends over whenever he wanted.  Summer also meant his birthday party and hanging out more with his uncles and your dad and traveling and camps.  Yoongi had insisted on the camps.  You insisted you could essentially teach everything he might learn at one for a faction of the price, but Yoongi wanted you to still have time to work for your dad and he knew Tae needed the social interaction.  You couldn’t contradict him on that fact, and since money wasn’t an option, you signed him up for many half-day camps.  He was most excited about an art camp and one at the aquarium, since one day they were going to sleep over in front of the shark tank. It only helped that Ace was signed up for all of the same camps as him.  You and her mom had made sure of it.  

          Ace’s mom, in fact, as you so proudly dubbed her, became your first “mom friend.”  The pair of you joked about signing you up for some groups for new moms, but after going to one particular meeting with her more as a joke than anything else, you promptly decided you wanted nothing to do with them (“It was like those book clubs where I was the only one who read the book because I thought the name connotated actually reading the book but all the moms were just there to just gossip about their kids and drink wine.”  “Wait, you went to a book club but no one read the book?”  “No, Yoongi, I said it was like that.  AKA, it was awful.  I felt so out of place.”  “So don’t go back, baby.”  “Yeah, yeah, I’m not going to”).  Not that they surely weren’t lovely people.  But Ace’s mom, after she and her husband did manage to work out whatever they were going through, began staying over when she brought Tae by, and the pair of you would sit and talk and drink whatever you had on hand.  She had gone to college for communication and had gotten married right after she graduated and had Ace so quickly she never even had a chance to put her degree to use, and something about that had left her feeling drastically unfulfilled for years.  Now, she was learning to view raising Ace as her full-time job, but since she and her husband talked about it, she was looking into going to work. Even though she was several years older than you, she always talked about knowing nothing, and with her encouragement you planned several workshops like you used to do before you became Tae’s nanny.  She knew how to get the word out and soon dozens of moms were signing up, by themselves or with their kids, to learn how to build everything from a birdhouse to a bookshelf.  She was a great addition to your life and helped fill out your summer days.

          Summer for Jimin meant working more hours at the library and at the dance camps he always helped with.  Jungkook accompanied him with the latter after proving to the man who owned the studio that he was even better than Jimin (“He did not say that, Y/N! I’m going to fucking kill you!” “Oh my god, help, Jungkook, he’s going to murder me!”  “You walked right into that one, sis.”  “No!  Ow! Ow!  Betrayal!  Family comes first!  Jungkook, avenge my death!”) but was going to spend most of his time trying to catch up by taking summer classes (“I regret all of my life decisions.”  “It’s literally the second day of classes, Jungkook.” “Farewell, summer, remember me well.” “You’ve clearly been hanging out with Jimin too much.  Over dramatic—” “Don’t insult my boyfriend.”  “What?  Insult Jimin? I would never.  Now, you, on the other hand, I will gladly make fun of”). They would, however, both be coming with you and Yoongi, Namjoon, and Hoseok and Jin toward the end of the summer on a week-long trip.  Apparently it was tradition, and Yoongi, Namjoon, Hoseok, and Jin were happy to add the rest of you to their party.

          Tae’s birthday party, however, came first, and you and Yoongi had the perfect present for him, even though it had taken a lot of convincing on Yoongi’s end about why it was a good idea.  You thought Yoongi would plan everything, but apparently it was Hoseok and Jin who normally did, so all you were required to do was give them contact information for all of Tae’s new friends they didn’t necessarily know and make sure he showed up on time at the pool they had reserved.  Knowing Hoseok and Jin, you should have known the party would be a little extra, and they definitely didn’t disappoint.  On the day of the party you and Yoongi drove Tae a little early, leaving your dad in charge of his present, and arrived to the indoor pool with all of its lights off.  The entire ceiling was filled with light-up stars, however, and string after string of lights hanging over the pool.  Dotted around on the surface of the water were balloons with a light in each of them, and the pool’s lights under the water created a dazzling rippling effect that kept catching your eye.  Tae had had a recent obsession with space, and Hoseok and Jin’s decorations definitely didn’t disappoint as his eyes went wider than you had ever seen them and stayed that way the rest of the evening.  He seemed almost afraid to touch anything at first and definitely walked carefully as his eyes kept looking up and around instead of at his feet.

          “Like it?” Hoseok asked him, standing proudly with his hands on his hips.

          “Of course he does, look at him,” Jin said, poking Hoseok’s side with his elbows.

          “It’s so cool,” Tae whispered, and his seeming lack of excitement was answer enough for his uncles.  Soon Namjoon, Jimin, and Jungkook arrived, your brother wearing a pair of Life Guard red shorts.

          “Oh, you really are a lifeguard,” you said, eyeing him curiously.

          “Of course.  You can’t lie about that kind of stuff.”

          “You can lie about anything, Jungkook,” you said, but he only rolled his eyes at you and ran to swoop up Tae, who immediately started giggling and kicking futilely over his head.  While he struggled, Jungkook walked down the steps and promptly dropped Tae into the water.  You almost leapt toward them, but Tae emerged quickly, screaming some sort of war cry with a smile on his face as Jungkook took his hands and helped drag him back to a shallower part of the pool.  “I don’t know if you hired the best life guard,” you told Hoseok, “considering he just ran and threw a kid into the pool.”

          “I’d let him throw me into a pool any day,” Jimin said, a stupid look on his face as he leaned on Namjoon’s arm.  Jimin’s face seemed perpetually stuck in a look of stupidity these days if Jungkook was in the room, so you promptly ignored his non-sensical comment.

          “He’s fine,” Yoongi reassured you from your elbow.  “He’s been swimming since he was two.”  You weren’t worried, really.  Tae was clearly a good swimmer, and as everyone started to arrive, he was better than all of the other kids his age.  Jungkook proceeded to actually do his job, even though Jimin stood under his stand the whole time trying to distract him with his fluttering eyelashes and head tilts and deep sighs.  Namjoon had actually brought a book that thankfully Jin took away from him and told him to either socialize or get in the pool, so he sat on the side and only moved his feet back and forth in the water next to Jimin, occasionally engaging in conversation but mostly staying quiet.  He had a content and relaxed smile on his face the whole time, though, so you weren’t exactly worried about him.  Hoseok and Jin were rowdier than the children, helping them to all play chicken and seeming to have a contest about who could be the loudest.  They had some elaborate games planned that you couldn’t keep up with, but the five-year-olds picked up immediately.  Yoongi, to no one’s surprise, refused to get in the pool and probably would have fallen asleep in his chair if you hadn’t poked him occasionally.  As parents were not invited to stay, except Ace’s, because they were just your friends now, you felt like you needed to be the responsible one and keep an eye on everyone, but eventually Yoongi made you sit down.

          “We’ve never invited this many kids, but Jin and Hoseok have it covered. It’s their present to Tae, so just let it be a present to you, too,” he said, pulling you into his lap.  You huffed slightly and made him move over so you could lie down next to him, even if there really wasn’t enough room.  Jin had taken care of the cake, too, an elaborate three-layered rocket ship that became a mess once cut but tasted delicious. Thankfully, your dad arrived before Tae blew out the candles and winked to you after giving Tae a hug.  Like Yoongi had said, Tae did not really need any presents, so you were grateful the ones the kids had brought were small, just a few action figures and drawing supplies.  Jimin had gifted him with a pass for him and a friend (it would be Ace) to come to one of his dance camps that summer, which made the boy absolutely scream and run around (“No running”) the table before he settled down.  If he was that excited about dance camp, you got a little worried about how he would react to your present, so you half-caught him when he came around the table, squatting down to look him in the eyes.

          “Alright, kiddo, make sure you thank Jimin.”

          “Thanks Jimin!” Tae said, trying to squirm away from you but you held him tight, trying to reign-in the impending excitement.

          “Good job.  Ready for your last present?”  At the idea of another present, Tae’s eyes widened as his mouth shaped an “o.”  He nodded so hard you thought his head might fall off, so you shook him slightly to steady him again.  “Okay, I want you to remember to be very careful, okay?  You need to walk and not make too many loud noises. Can you do that for me?”  Clearly curious about why he would have to refrain from being himself, he nodded again, a little calmer already.

          “Yes, mom.”

          “Okay,” you said, ruffling his hair, the term making you smile wider at him.  Taking his hand, you straightened up to take Yoongi’s, too, and directed your attention to everyone else.  Most of the kids were still wrapped up in their huge towels, crumbs of cake left on their cheeks and who knows what else left on their fingers.  “Okay everyone, we’re going to go outside for Tae’s last present.  I need you all to be really quiet, though, okay?”  All of the kids nodded, their curiosity also peaked at why everything had to be quiet.  Once everyone seemed ready, you let your dad lead you outside.  He had brought his own pickup truck, and your three family dogs were already poking up from the bed, sticking their heads over the edge as their tails wagged in greeting.  One of them yipped as the other two spun around in circles.  The kids all, as you should have expected, did not stay quiet, immediately cooing as if they had never seen a dog before in their lives, but Tae knew seeing your dad’s dogs were not his present, so he stayed quiet and let you lead him closer to the truck.  Issuing a command to “sit” and “stay” to the three grown dogs, your dad waited until they obeyed before slowly opening the bed of the truck.  For a second, no one seemed to see the difference, your dad’s large frame in the way, but when he turned around, he was holding something that wiggled slightly, but just enough for Tae to gasp beside you. He looked up at you, his mouth comically wide.

          “Really, mom?”

          “Really, Tae,” you said, smiling down at him.

          “Really, dad?” he said, leaning forward to look at Yoongi, his face more hesitant to his dad, but Yoongi only smiled wide and nodded. Letting go of your hand, he reverently walked carefully toward your dad.  You could see his little hands practically shake as he reached them out to your dad, and several of the kids behind you started to titter.  When you had first mentioned Tae needing a friend who would be around even more than Ace after his last day of school when he had come home from school and cried so much you had to lay down with him while he slept for several hours, you had mentioned the importance of siblings and Yoongi had promptly chocked on nothing so badly you made him get out of bed and go to the bathroom in case he threw up.  You hadn’t meant you wanted to have a baby, even if that’s where his brain had gone, and you didn’t even mean that he necessarily needed a sibling, but that a constant companion would help him.  You had meant a dog (“Start with that next time!” “Okay, sorry, breathe, please”).  Yoongi had been cautious, not because he didn’t want a dog—he loved dogs and missed his more than he would admit—but because he knew they were a huge responsibility, and he didn’t want to get Tae a dog only for you to be the one who actually took care of it.  So after researching and talking to your dad, and Yoongi asking him, too, almost a month later you had settled on a Brittany Spaniel.  You wanted a medium size dog that Tae couldn’t squish and couldn’t smother him that had plenty of energy but would be energic enough to keep up with Tae. As a puppy, obviously, it would need a lot of training, but spaniels in general were sweet and obedient dogs. You were pretty sure two of your family dogs were part spaniel, too, so you felt like you had plenty of experience with them.  All of the thought put into the breed of the dog really didn’t matter at the moment, of course, as all Tae registered was dog puppy dog puppy.  Your dad was saying something to him before he let him have the dog, and Tae nodded seriously, letting your dad wrap a leash around his wrist before handing over it completely.  Tae immediately started laughing when the dog licked at his face and he wisely squatted down to let it run around him.

          “What’s his name?” he said, breathless already, and you felt the kids behind you moving around anxiously like horses at the gate.

          “It’s a girl, actually,” you said, hugging Yoongi as you watched Tae. “And you’ll have to name her.”

          “She’s so pretty,” Tae said, laughing again as he tried to untangle himself while the puppy tried to leap on his legs.  Unable to keep the other kids at bay, it became a bit of a mess as they all descended upon Tae and his new dog, and that is how everyone’s parents found you later, still rolling around on the ground and chasing and being chased by four dogs, one still so small she got ran over by larger paws on more than one occasion.  Much to Tae’s chagrin, she was not going to be allowed to sleep with him, so you were glad to tire her out before her first night in your home.  It had been a while since your family dogs were puppies, but you knew for a few weeks it would be just like having a newborn.  Thankfully Tae loved going outside even on the hottest days, and the novelty of Yoonie (“Are you naming your dog after me?” “No, daddy, your name is Yoongi.” “Yes.  And Yoonie sounds awfully close to that.”  “She’s not named after you, daddy.  Yoon means shiny, doesn’t it?  And just look at her eyes.  They’re so shiny.”  “So why Yoonie?”  “Oh, daddy, Yoon just sounds boring.  But Yoonie is so cute!  It’s funner to say, too!”  “I have to agree with him, Yoongi.  I think I’ll start calling you Yoonie, too.”  “Do not. I will not be reduced to the name of my son’s dog.  I am the great Min Yo—” “Yoonie.”  “I regret everything”) didn’t seem to wear off as the summer progressed.  His party had been a great successful, he had thanked everyone politely, he was enjoying his camps, and he had already taught Yoonie how to “sit” and “paw” and was working on “stay,” though the little puppy did not have the patience for that, yet.  You worked with your dad and had dinner with your friends and Tae’s uncles and taught Tae to read and drove him to camps and cooked Yoongi food and made sure he ate and listened to his new tracks, and you sweat, and you laughed, and you watched as the end of summer all too quickly approached.

          By the end of the July, you had forgotten what it meant to be cold naturally.  You would crank the AC down just to feel the goosebumps leaping to the surface of your skin whenever you came back inside from the backyard, the trickling sweat down your back disgusting you as much as how everything stuck to you in a suffocating way. You were used to working outside in the summer, and there was something relieving about sweating so much, the toxins leaving your body and leaving you feeling empty in an odd way, but what you could stand was cuddling with Tae or Yoongi if it was hot.  So the AC stayed cranked up.  Months ago, you had worried about Yoongi only letting you sleep with him for convenience’s sake, for body warmth during the winter, and while you knew that wasn’t the case (“You’re my girlfriend, Y/N.  My kid calls you ‘mom.’  I want you here.  Believe me, okay, baby?”), some part of you was too afraid of letting go of him when you slept.  Simultaneously, you were afraid if you didn’t reach for him first, he wouldn’t reach for you, and it wasn’t something you wanted to experiment with, unsure if your heart could take it.  So when he didn’t come to bed one night without any warning, you tossed and turned and told yourself to relax because you knew he was downstairs working, but when you finally woke up later in the middle of the night, he was there, lying with his back facing you, and you stared at it for a long time before your eyes flitted shut again.  The next night he didn’t even emerge to put Tae to bed, and you knew this was enough out of the ordinary to know you should say something, but you didn’t.  You waited to see if he would, first, and tried to sleep again without him by you.  When you woke up, you didn’t even look at the clock.  He wasn’t in bed, and you didn’t want to face why he wasn’t. Your anxiety only increased the next night, and you lay staring at the ceiling, huffing and rearranging your covers to no avail.  Finally, you threw your covers off and rushed downstairs, not even knocking before opening Yoongi’s office door.  He spun around in his chair immediately, his eyebrows raised, and he pulled off his headphones when he saw how concerned you looked.

          “Everything okay?”

          “Are you coming to bed?” you said, not wanting to beat around the bush because you had been doing that in your head for two days already and couldn’t take it anymore.

          “Yeah, I’m just trying to finish some stuff.”

          “Can’t you do it later?”

          “Not really,” he said slowly.  “I mean, obviously I could, as you can put almost everything off.  But I’m trying to get it done before we go on vacation, as I’m not going to lug all of my equipment the Philippines.”

          “Oh,” you said dumbly, your hand on the doorknob slipping off awkwardly.

          “Sorry, were you-did you miss me?” Yoongi said, a smirk on his face.

          “No,” you huffed, crossing your arms over your chest.  You faltered before admitting quickly, “Yes.  Just worried.  It’s-it’s harder to sleep without you, is all.”

          “Oh, have I spoiled you?” he teased, and you rolled your eyes.

          “If forming a habit of being next to another human’s body heat and having said human comfort you by running his hands lovingly through your hair so you relax enough to fall asleep quickly is spoiling, then I guess. However, I would argue—”

          “Let’s not argue,” Yoongi said quickly.  You smiled at him and uncrossed your arms, flapping them uselessly as you looked around the room.  “I’m sorry.  I forget sometimes other people can’t just fall asleep whenever they want wherever they are.”

          “Most people can’t, Yoongi.  You’re odd like that.”

          “It’s part of my charm, I think you meant.”

          “Sure.  But. I’m sorry if I’m being clingy.  I can sleep by myself, I’d rather just know if you’re coming or not so I’m not waiting.  Waiting makes me nervous, like I’m not sure when a clown is going to pop out around the corner and scare me.”

          “Me coming to bed is like a horrifying clown?”

          “No,” you sighed, ignoring the sparkle in Yoongi’s eye as he messed with you.  “I’ll just go now.”  You made to turn, but Yoongi half rose from his chair.

          “Hey, wait, come here.  Please,” he tacked on when you turned and raised your eyebrows at him.  He sat back in his seat and patted his legs, and while you rolled your eyes, you approached him, anyway.  You were getting more used to sitting in Yoongi’s lap, though you refused to do it in public (“I am a grown-ass woman—” “So sit that ass down in my lap”), and enjoyed how small it made you feel, even if you hated to, and would never, admit that to Yoongi.  You took the hand he held out to you to draw yourself closer, but he stood up before you could join him in his chair.  “Help me,” he said, pulling your hand to his hoodie, and while you eyed him suspiciously, you clung to his hoodie as his hand left yours.  You heard more than saw him unclasp and unzip his jeans, and when he raised his eyebrows at you once you flushed slightly, realizing what he meant.  When his hands came back up, you finally moved to pull his hoodie up and over his head. Yoongi rarely, if ever, wore a shirt under his sweaters or jackets around the house, so he stepped out of his pants and sat back on his chair in nothing but his boxers, flashing you a smile as he did.  “It’ll feel more normal this way, right?”

          “I love you,” you blurted out, straddling his waist immediately, your speed causing his chair to jostle enough to make him laugh and steadying you both by grabbing his desk.

          “Love you, too, baby,” he said once your legs were on his, his skin pale but so warm that you felt better already, even if still a little bit too needy. Pressing your hands on his chest caused him to tense briefly before he relaxed, watching you look as your fingers moved up and down his skin.  “Hey,” he said softly, and you hummed in response.  “I do want to get this done, just so I’m not stressed on our vacation.  So you’re going to sleep, yeah?”

          “Yeah,” you sighed, clasping your hands together and scooting a little bit closer to his hips so you could lean on his chest.  Curling up a little, you turned your head so you could slot it under his chin, your cold ear pressed against his warm neck.  “Sure you can work with me here?”

          “Don’t underestimate me,” he said, pulling his chair back to his desk.

          “I’d never,” you said, sighing when he placed a hand on your back and rubbed it up and down over your t-shirt.  You could feel his other arm moving as you heard his mouse clicking, and you closed your eyes, taking a deep breath as you felt your body rise and fall as he breathed.  His presence, even if the position was new and, you imagined, a little uncomfortable for him, comforted you enough to wonder if you ever would be able to sleep on your own again.  Whenever he did occasionally leave town for work, you sometimes resorted to letting Tae sleep next to you, the bed feeling too empty and big without someone else there.

          “Yoongi,” you mumbled, and he probably felt your vibrations more than what you said, and you could feel and hear him removing his headphones again as he hummed, his chin poking a bit into your head.  “Would you tell me if I was being too clingy?”

          “Is,” Yoongi said after thinking for a moment, “there an answer I can give without you getting upset?”

          “Hey,” you pouted, poking his chest.  “Yes.  The truth.”

          “Okay, well, first, you’re not being clingy.  I’ve habitually trained you—”

          “I am not a dog.”

          “To sleep next to me.  It’s cute,” he said, bopping your nose gently.  You wiggled it before relaxing your face again.  “But I suppose I would let you know if I felt like I needed space.  I do, on a daily basis, you know.  But you go to work and play with Tae, and that makes the time I spend with you more special.  And, I think, well, you’re both not really big on the PDA, not like some people we know—”

          “Jimin,” you fake-coughed.

          “So if you suddenly got what you might call clingy in public I would probably get weirded out.  And, honestly, clingy has a negative connotation when it doesn’t necessarily have to.  There’s nothing wrong with being clingy.”

          “No?” you said, and Yoongi shook his head, kissing the top of yours before going back to work.

          “No, baby.  Like I said, it’s cute.”

          “But, like, in an immature, actually baby-type of way?” you mumbled, and Yoongi resumed rubbing your back.

          “No, baby.  It’s cute as in I’m glad that you feel comfortable trusting me in such a way to seek comfort in me.  You’re letting yourself be vulnerable with me and letting me take care of your needs, which you know I appreciate.  It’s cute because you’re pretty intense and serious all day, even when you play with Tae, but at night you get all docile and pliant, you’re like putty in my hands, and I love that.”

          “Okay,” you half whined, poking his chest to make him stop.

          “Don’t worry so much about if it’s right or wrong, yeah?  I’m here for you.”

          “And I’m here for you,” you said, not wanting your relationship to be one-sided or purely transactional, either.

          “I know, baby.  Now try to sleep.  We’ll move to bed later when I’m done.”

          “Okay,” you mumbled, settling back down with your eyes closed. Yoongi’s hands moved absentmindedly on your back as you felt your body relax.  Every once in a while he would move slightly, his legs underneath yours flexing as he shifted or his head moving to the side of yours completely so he could lean closer to his screen, but otherwise the room was still and quiet apart from his mouse clicking and the occasional hum he let out.  You may have faded out at one point, as your limbs felt heavy and numb and a little tingly, and the drowsiness over your eyes kept them from opening, but Yoongi’s hand had moved to under your shirt, and the initial contrast of his cool fingers on your warm back made you burrow closer to him.  You muttered something incoherent, causing Yoongi to chuckle softly, and your eyebrows knit together when you felt his fingers dip under the elastic of your shorts, but before you could protest they moved back to the small of your back, curling and spreading out.  You sighed contently at their movement, and felt yourself slipping again, but then Yoongi’s hand slipped further, past your elastic waistband and down to your ass, causing you to whine and wiggle slightly.  Yoongi vibrated beneath you but moved his hand, running it up your back and down again down your spine lightly enough to make you shiver.  You tried to say his name, but it only came out as another mumble, and his hand stilled on your hip for a moment, holding you securely.  His thumb moved, though, rubbing little circles against your side, and his fingers slipped under your underwear so quickly you weren’t awake enough to fully register what he was doing.

          “-oongi,” you managed, trying to pry your eyes open as you moved on his lap.  He hummed again, and he must have been done working, because his other hand was on you, now, too, dipping low to pull at your ass.

          “Bed,” you think he said, pulling at you again, and you really didn’t think you could make it up all the stairs, but he stood up with you clinging to him, adjusting your legs around him as if you weighed nothing, and the next thing you knew you were curled up in his, your, bed, his chest against your back, just like everything was supposed to be.

Chapter Text

           One particularly hot day, you lay with Tae in the living room downstairs, staring up at the ceiling, getting dizzy as you watched the fan’s blades spin around and around.  The sun was trying to break through the giant windows, its rays piercing every time you tried to look outside.  You could see dancing dots behind your eyelids if you shut your eye, a lasting ghost of the burning sun from playing outside.  Tae, still sweating, rolled around beside you until he ran into you, laughing with some otherworldly energy that only kids possess. Yoonie, panting next to him, leapt up every time he moved, her tiny body still struggling to climb over him and onto you.  She didn’t realize, her excitement still evident, that she was a bother to the humans she so lovingly pawed her way across. 

You were all packed for your trip tomorrow, nervous about the long flight with Tae but excited all the same, and Yoonie, unbeknownst to herself, would be spending the following week with your dad.  Tae seemed to have found a comfortable spot, lying over your stomach with his feet kicking behind him while Yoonie licked at his face, and while his weight as slightly uncomfortable, you closed your eyes and listened to his puppy panting and his giggles under the fan’s whirring.  The peace that came over you was temporarily broken when Tae wiggled hard enough that he almost elbowed you in the face, and you started to push him off to avoid him hurting you.

           “Tae—”

           “Mom, mom, look!” Tae said, scrambling up and pointing out the window.  Groaning slightly and trying not to be blinded, you followed Tae’s finger out the window toward his and Yoongi’s bird houses.  Their pink paint had faded a little after months of snow, rain, and now sun, but they still stood proudly side-by-side, Yoongi’s a little taller and bigger than Tae’s.  In the spring, you had finally put bird seed in them, eager to see if any birds would show up, but hadn’t successfully seen any.  When Tae had insisted that the birds must be eating the food because the seeds kept disappearing, you had tried not to crush his dreams by explaining that raccoons or possums may have been climbing up to steal the food but couldn’t lie to him, either.  You had found him one night out of his bed, sitting by the door downstairs, and after not dying of fright when you saw him huddled in his blanket (“I have to make sure the birds’ food doesn’t get stolen, mom”), you had assured him the birds wouldn’t starve if some of their food from his bird houses was taken.  So, now, as he started to jump up, you pulled on his waist and held him down, whispering in his ear,

           “Wait, wait, don’t scare them off,” when you saw the red cardinals hopping around on the roofs of the bird houses, each seeming to try to decide which one would be best to feed from.  

           “Daddy,” he whispered loudly, and you moved him slowly to the floor, scooping up Yoonie as you did.  You patted his head and walked half sideways, half backwards toward Yoongi’s office, watching the birds flit around as you did.  Once you got to the hallway, you rushed to Yoongi’s door and pushed it open, Yoonie struggling in your arm.

           “Yoongi, birds,” you said with no other explanations, turning to leave before he even acknowledged you.  You waited for him in the living room, petting Yoonie in an attempt to sooth her.  Tae’s feet were swaying back and forth in front of him as he watched the birds.  At some sound behind you, Yoonie yipped, and Tae’s head whipped around as the spell was broken.

           “Daddy, look!” he said, pointing back out the window, but the bird houses were empty.  Yoongi hummed behind you, patting Yoonie in your arm, his eyebrows rising in curiosity.

           “What’s up?”

           “There were birds,” you said as Tae frowned.

           “I missed them?” Yoongi said, and you nodded. “I always miss the good stuff.”

           “It’s okay,” you said, reaching over to pat his arm. “You’ll see them next time.”

           “Yeah,” Yoongi said slowly, though he didn’t sound convincing.  He kissed your cheek slowly before stepping away from you.  He returned to his office without another word, and you watched the empty hallway anxiously until Yoonie squirmed so much in your arm you had to let her down before she fell.  In some attempt to get ready for enjoying the trip, Yoongi had been working too hard lately, and clearly the strain was getting to him, some underlying reason behind his need to get things done going unsaid.  The trip was tomorrow, so surely he would relax soon and return without a desire to spend the majority of his time in front of his computers screen.

 

           Being five-and-a-half already, Tae was getting better at not having tantrums and holding in his excitement, but you were worried for the first time in a long time about him peeing his pants the next day when you all got to the airport.  He had barely even seemed sad to say goodbye to Yoonie when you dropped her off at your dad’s, and now, as he danced in between you and Yoongi, his little backpack bouncing on his back while Jungkook held on to the top of it, smirking as he let go every time he pulled on it before Tae could turn around to see who was messing with him, you were wondering about how almost an entire day of traveling was going to work for him.  Two positives were that he wasn’t a baby and there were seven adults who he could bounce between once the plane was in the air.  You held his hand firmly as you all went through security and held him even closer as you walked through the crowded airport.  Something maybe slightly irrational in you made you paranoid about losing him, afraid the moment he let go he would be swept away by the sea of people.  When Jungkook picked him up and plopped him on his shoulders, you felt a sense of relief and security, trusting your brother to protect him if anything happened. The trip was sure to go smoothly with him, Jimin, Namjoon, Hoseok, Jin, and Yoongi around to help watch him and play with him.

           Sun.  It followed you to the Philippines but only seemed to intensify, and if you weren’t exhausted enough from jetlag, it was going to drain you even more for the next couple of days.  You were grateful Yoongi and the guys didn’t really have anything planned for the five-day vacation and everything could just happen as it happened.  The eight of you soon fell into a comfortable routine of sleeping in late, playing on the beach in the morning before a huge lunch followed by naps and wondering around the city before playing outside again. Then everyone cleaned up before enjoying a nice dinner at a sit-down restaurant that made you and Jungkook feel out of place.  After dinner, you rotated each night between your three rooms for drinks until it was too late, Yoongi always carrying Tae to bed if you weren’t already in your room. The nights seemed to all blur together, a mixture of slurred words and flushed faces and too much sweat simply due to the heat seeping indoors or from bodies purposefully pressed together.  

          You weren’t as shocked about Jin and Hoseok practically rolling around on the floor together one night considering that’s what they always did, thankful that they at least had the decently to wait until Tae went to sleep, but Jimin, Jungkook, and Namjoon continued to be intriguing to watch.  In public, Jimin and Jungkook’s roles had started to reverse.  Where Jimin used to be always taking the lead, Jungkook trailing behind him, it was now Jungkook who took Jimin’s hand and led him everywhere and made sure he stayed close.  Where Jungkook used to be quiet and let Jimin talk, often for the both of them, it was Jungkook who checked on what Jimin wanted now before sometimes speaking for him when it came to things like ordering food or asking for directions.  Where Jungkook used to seem to be shy and reserved while Jimin was social and outgoing, your friend seemed content now to stay close to Jungkook and let him make the decisions.  You knew Jimin hadn’t really changed completely—he was still as talkative and obnoxious and sweet and into gossiping as always—and you knew your brother was still Jungkook—he still got surly and quiet and frustrated so easily when he and someone else was being stubborn—and yet the changes in both of them was an interesting dynamic that seemed to work for them.  Around your friends, Jimin seemed to relax even more, leaning on Jungkook to do things for the pair of them.  Jungkook clearly didn’t mind.  You could tell he liked taking care of Jimin, and it was clear that Jimin was finally comfortable enough to let him do it.  You continued to be glad for both of them that their relationship seemed to continue to be working so smoothly.  

          No, the most intriguing part about their relationship continued to be Namjoon and his involvement in it.  You had tried, for the past few months, to not be nosy and question their arrangement, wanting to respect your friend and brother’s decision, but every time you saw them together, something pressed on the back of your mind, causing you to wonder about what exactly they were.  You knew what they weren’t (“Oh my god, Y/N, Namjoon is not our sugar daddy. What the fuck.” “I mean, he does pay for our stuff…”  “Jungkook, shut up.  He is not.” “I mean, if you define—” “We don’t. Don’t.  Don’t define it that way.”  “I mean, technically—” “Babe, I swear to god, I will smack you.  Shut up.”  “But—”), but not being one thing didn’t mean you knew automatically what they were.  

          So on the third night, Tae slumped against you as you leaned on Yoongi’s arm, Yoongi animatedly talking to Jungkook about some music program, Jin and Hoseok alternating between mummering disgustingly to each other and laughing obnoxiously loudly on the floor, you watched as Jimin got closer and closer to Namjoon. The older man clearly was used to Jimin’s clinginess—anyone who knew Jimin for long enough knew how much he needed to be physically close to people—and even looped an arm around Jimin to pull him closer, encouraging it.  That seemed normal.  You had seen them hug and cuddle before, and Namjoon clearly wasn’t bothered by it. But when Jimin promptly straddled Namjoon’s lap and started nuzzling his neck, you lifted your head off of Yoongi’s arm and watched your friend curiously.  Namjoon had an arm around Jimin still, but it seemed more to steady him than anything else, as he tilted his head away from Jimin’s.  His mouth moved for a moment, but only to whisper something to Jimin, and you saw your friend clutch Namjoon’s shirt and nod into his neck.  He stilled for just a second before his head was moving again, the top of his hair brushing against Namjoon’s chin.  You saw Namjoon look up before saying something again into Jimin’s ear, but your friend didn’t stop, and Namjoon’s hand moved from his back to the front of his hip, clearly trying to push him off gently.

          “Jungkook?” he said, almost stuttering as he spoke across the room over Jimin’s shoulder.  You saw Jungkook pause mid-sentence and turn away from Yoongi to look back at his boyfriend, Jimin seemingly unaware he was now being watched as he continued to attack Namjoon’s neck.  Jin and Hoseok had stopped whatever they were doing on the floor to sit still and watch whatever was unfolding before them, and Yoongi looked at you once before looking across at his friend, too.

          “Jimin,” Jungkook said sternly, his eyebrows knit together. There was an authoritative snap in his voice that had Jimin freezing as he tried to hide against Namjoon, the back of his neck flushing when he realized he had been caught.  “What’re you doing?”

          “Nothing,” Jimin muttered, his words muffled against Namjoon’s shirt.

          “Why would you lie when we can clearly all see you?” Jungkook said, his voice calm.  Jimin only mumbled incoherently.  “What was that?”

          “Wanna play,” Jimin managed, and you had to hold back a laugh, looking at Yoongi for moral support.  He looked equally amused as Namjoon bit his lip across the room.

          “Not right now,” Jungkook said, turning back around to Yoongi, who you saw trying to control his face before your brother saw it again.  Jimin, however, either didn’t hear Jungkook or didn’t want to act like he had, as you saw him squirm on Namjoon.

          “Jimin,” the older man said, pushing gently on him again, “listen to Jungkook.”  At Namjoon’s words, Jungkook sighed and turned back around again, squaring his shoulders.

          “Excuse us,” Jungkook said, getting up and nodding to Yoongi before crossing the room in two strides, reaching down to grab Jimin’s wrist. Your friend got up without a fight, almost falling into Jungkook when he climbed off of Namjoon and stood up.  Hoseok and Jin were eating everything up, the looks on their faces evident that they were never going to let Jimin (or Jungkook or Namjoon) live this down for the rest of their lives, and all of you watched as Jungkook dragged Jimin across the room, your friend almost tripping once before saying Jungkook’s name.  Jungkook didn’t stop, though, and opened the door without another word, taking Jimin with him.  When the door shut, there was a moment of silence while you all watched the door, perhaps expecting them to come back in after a quick talk in the hall, but when everything stayed quiet, you all whipped your heads around in an almost comical way to stare at Namjoon.

          “What the fuck was that?” Jin almost screamed, rising himself up from the floor to half crawl over to Namjoon.  Tae stirred against you, and you soothed his hair down to keep him asleep. Sighing from the couch, Namjoon ran a hand through his hair, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly.

          “It was nothing,” he said lamely, totally unconvincingly.

          “Like hell it wasn’t,” Hoseok scoffed, following Jin to smack Namjoon’s leg.  “Spill.”

          “It’s none of my business.”

          “I’d say Jimin sucking your blood is totally your business,” Jin said, poking at the developing bruise on Namjoon’s neck.  Namjoon swatted at his hand unsuccessfully before trying to pull away again.

          “You know how touchy he gets.  It’s just the way he is.”

          “Yeah, but you’re you,” Hoseok said, blowing out air through his lips again.  “Straight man Namjoon.  Unless there’s hope for us gays?”

          “Okay,” Namjoon said, finally grabbing Jin’s hand that was still poking at his skin to keep him away, “for the last time, that was one time, Hoseok, and it’ll never happen again, and secondly—”

          “What?” Yoongi said beside you.

          “What?” you echoed.

          “What?” Jin said, his hand going limp in Namjoon’s hold.  Namjoon looked at the three parrots in the room and back at Hoseok, who was rolling his eyes.

          “I was trying to prove to Namjoon one day that he was gay,” Hoseok said, patting Jin’s leg.  “Before I met you, babe.”

          “He wasn’t very convincing,” Namjoon said, rolling his eyes, which earned, surprisingly, a smack from Jin as he wiggled his hand out of Namjoon’s grasp.  “Ow, what the fuck.”

          “Don’t insult him,” Jin said.  “You’re an idiot to not like men.  A big, bumbling, stupid idiot.”

          “Thanks babe,” Hoseok whispered, smiling up at Jin.

          “Or I’m just straight,” Namjoon shrugged.  “No crime there.”

          “Though it’s a little unfair that he got to kiss you and I haven’t yet,” Jin mused, and the birds were squawking again.

          “What?” you said.

          “What?” Yoongi said.

          “What?” Namjoon said.

          “What?” Jin said innocently.  

          “Yeah, everyone knows Jin’s always wanted to kiss Namjoon,” Hoseok shrugged.  You all exchanged glances before Namjoon said,

          “No they did not.  We did not. I did not know this.”

          “Does it matter?” Hoseok said, looking up at his friend.  “You don’t want to kiss him, and I’m not going to allow it now.”

          “Yeah, no,” Namjoon said, looking at Jin once before blinking rapidly. “Why does everyone want to kiss me? Do you want to kiss me, too, Yoongi?”

          “Uh, fuck no,” Yoongi said, pulling at your leg until it draped over his as Namjoon looked over at you.

          “Why don’t any girls ever want to kiss me?” Namjoon groaned, leaning his head back on the couch as Jin leaned on his shoulder, patting his thigh comfortingly.  “Hey, Y/N—”

          “Nope,” you said immediately.  “Sorry, I like my men silent and short.  You’re too tall for me.”

          “Hey,” Yoongi said softly, pretending to be hurt.

          “Besides,” you said, patting Yoongi’s hand, “I’m positive a lot of girls want to kiss you, Namjoon.  The trouble is finding the right one who will like you for you, not for your fame.  And someone who will be okay with whatever is going on between you and Jimin.  And Jungkook,” you added, your face twisting a bit in discomfort at the thought of your brother being physical with anyone.

          “Nothing is going on between us,” Namjoon said again, and Hoseok and Jin both laughed.

          “Sure, sweetie,” Jin said sarcastically, “keep telling yourself that.”

          “Look, it’s not my business, and therefore not yours, what Jimin and Jungkook are doing,” Namjoon said, pushing Jin off of him.

          “Isn’t it, though?  I mean, they live with you,” Yoongi said calmly, but Namjoon only shook his head again.

          “I’m going to go now,” Namjoon sighed, trying to stand up, but Hoseok grabbed at his pants, keeping him from walking away.

          “Don’t you want to stay here?  Let them, you know, finish whatever they’re doing?  Jin, go block the door.”  Hurrying to comply, Jin fell off the couch and started to crawl toward the door, the sight making you stifle a laugh.  His limbs were too long, and he was too drunk to being doing anything so close to the ground.

          “No, I want to get away from you weirdos,” Namjoon said, reaching down to pry Hoseok’s hands away.

          “So you’re not worried about walking in on them?”

          “No,” Namjoon said, successfully stepping out of Hoseok’s grasp, “nothing I haven’t seen before.”

          “N-” Hoseok said, his hand reaching for Namjoon hanging dumbly in the air. Jin blinked from where he had slumped against the door, his eyes and mouth wide at Namjoon’s confession.  It was obviously an accident, a slip, because Namjoon turned a bright red and looked at you and Yoongi pleadingly.

          “Oh my God,” Jin whispered, a huge grin on his face.

          “No,” Namjoon said, looking at the pair of drunk idiots on the floor. “No, I swear it is not what you’re thinking.”

          “It sounds exactly like what we’re thinking,” Hoseok said, smiling as well.

          “It’s not,” Namjoon repeated.  “It’s not.”

          “Oh my God,” Jin said again, breaking out into an obnoxiously loud laugh that had him reeling on the floor.  

          “Didn’t know you were into that, Namjoon,” Hoseok said.

          “I’m not, it’s not,” Namjoon rambled, looking at Yoongi again, but he only raised a hand and waved Namjoon away.

          “I have no comment,” Yoongi said.

          “I’ve never done anything with him, them, I swear.  Sometimes Jimin just asks me to watch.”

          “Okay, stop,” you said as the rest of the guys gaped silently at their friend.  You stirred against Yoongi, sitting up in a hurry. “There is a child present.”  You were in Hoseok and Jin’s room, and so you picked up Tae quickly, jostling him a little in his sleep to secure him in your arms. By the time you held him, Namjoon was staring at the ground while the other three stared at him.  “Yoongi?” you said, kicking his shin softly.  He blinked before shaking his head slightly, standing up in a hurry as well.  A little flabbergasted that you had to be the mature one in the room, but also not surprised at all, you approached Namjoon and touched his elbow softly.  “Hey,” you whispered loud enough for everyone to hear, “don’t listen to these idiots.  You’re taking good care of Jungkook and Jimin, so that’s what matters, right?”

          “I’d say Jungkook’s taking care of Jimin ri—” Hoseok said, but you kicked wildly at him, effectively shutting him up as he shouted at you in pain.

          “Like I said, idiots,” you said to Namjoon.  “Just ignore them.  You go on to bed now.”  Namjoon mumbled something before raising his head, sticking his hands in his pockets almost defiantly.  

          “I love Jimin,” he said, “and Jungkook.  They’re both great guys.  People.  They’ve been better for me than any of you have been—”

          “Namjoon,” Yoongi said softly.

          “And they don’t pressure me like all of you do to go ‘find someone,’” he said bitterly, using his fingers to make air quotes, “and they support me and are there for me when I need them.  Even Jungkook.  Jimin’s a more sympathetic listener, but Jungkook doesn’t take any shit, and I appreciate that, because he hears my concerns but helps me talk me through them. You haven’t exactly been around as much, Yoongi, and I’m not upset about it, because I have them, and I’m happy for you, so I’m just asking you to stop being little shits about this and be happy for me.”

          “Namjoon,” Yoongi said again, coming up beside you to stand closer to his friend.  “We support you.  You know we do.  You know I do.”

          “I know,” he sighed, “you guys just don’t know what you’re talking about. Jimin.  He.”  He looked up at you as if for permission, and you raised your eyebrows expectantly at him. “He really, really likes me?”  You nodded gently, trying to encourage him. “And I told him from the beginning I can’t be what he wants for him, but if he would let me, I’d provide for him in other ways.  You know?” You knew, as he had pretty much already had this conversation with you, but if he needed to talk about it again, or if he felt the need to explain to his friends in the room, you weren’t going to stop him.  “And he loves Jungkook, I know he does.  And Jungkook understands now.  He’s not jealous or threatened anymore, because I’ve finally convinced him I just mean well and don’t want Jimin in that way.  I just want to take care of them.  And I thought-I just thought you all would understand that at least.”

          “We do,” Yoongi said, smiling at his friend.

          “Yeah,” Hoseok said from the floor, looking sheepish now.  “We were just messing with you.”

          “I know,” Namjoon sighed, staring up at the ceiling for a moment. “I think sometimes you forget how hard it is to be alone.  And, I know,” he said, looking back down at Yoongi who had opened his mouth, “you’ve always been there for me, Yoongi.  I know. But it’s different, you know? It’s different, having someone to come home to.  To have someone who’s just there.  The presence alone is all I need, you know?  The silence and loneliness…I just couldn’t do that alone anymore.”

          “I get it,” Yoongi whispered, nodding at his friend.

          “Yeah,” Hoseok mumbled.  “No judgement, man.  You know we’re here for you.  But I’m glad you have them, too, now.”

          “We’re sorry,” Jin blurted from the door.  “And you’re right.  I can’t really remember what it felt like before I met Hoseok.  But I don’t want to even imagine it, so that’s indication enough that it would suck.  I’m sorry you have to go through that.”

          “I don’t anymore,” Namjoon said, smiling a little now in relief. “That’s the thing.  I love them a lot.”

          “I know,” you said, smiling reassuringly back at him.  “So go be with them.”  Unashamed and undisturbed now, Namjoon smiled widely, his dimples showing, before he nodded once and took out his hands to squeeze your elbow and pat Yoongi’s shoulder.  He kicked lovingly at Hoseok on the floor and laughed when Jin stood up, wobbling a little, and opened the door dramatically for him, showing him out with a small bow. As the door shut quietly behind him, Hoseok stirred from the floor, standing up and letting out a long breath of air.

          “That was…something,” he said lamely.

          “I’ll say,” Jin said, shaking his head.

          “I feel bad,” Yoongi muttered.  

          “Just,” you said, shifting Tae in your arms.  “Let’s not tease them tomorrow if you can help it, yeah? Knowing Jimin, he’s going to be super embarrassed if he knows we know.”

          “We won’t say anything,” Jin said, and you glared suspiciously at him. He pressed his lips together and shifted his eyes around the room.

          “I’ll make sure he doesn’t say anything,” Hoseok said, pulling Jin close to his side.

          “I’d worry more about you than Jin, honestly,” Yoongi muttered to the floor.

          “Both of you,” you said, almost wishing you could wag a finger at them, “behave.”  Jin laughed at your tone, his forehead falling on Hoseok’s shoulder as he shook.

          “I’m sorry,” he said, holding onto to Hoseok’s other shoulder to support himself, “I’m just.  I’m just imaging you telling Yoongi that, and I, I—”

          “Okay, good night,” you said, turning on your heel and hurrying to the door before either of them could comment on anything Yoongi and you said or did in the bedroom.  Yoongi probably smirked behind you, winking at Hoseok and Jin as he followed you back to your room.

 

          Jin and Hoseok, of course, did not not say anything the next day, immediately pointing at Namjoon’s neck and asking what happened with innocent looks on their faces and sweet cadences in their tone of voice.  Namjoon and Jimin promptly blushed and became flustered. Jungkook rolled his eyes and vowed he would get them later, and even though they were both older and Jin was broader and perhaps weighed more, they both knew he meant it and could bury both of their heads in the sand if he wanted to, so they shut up immediately. Tae, however, asked, in complete innocence, how Namjoon had hurt himself, and the whole table proceeded to laugh when Jimin excused himself.  Their relationship was nothing short of intriguing, but, like Namjoon said, it seemed like they all loved each other, even if it did look odd to the rest of the world, so you weren’t going to judge them.  Make fun of them a little?  Sure.  That’s what friends are for.

          After practically coating Tae in sunscreen again on the fourth day, you all trekked back to the beach, the odd maneuvering of trying to figure out how to get all of the supplies down in one trip finally figured out strategically. It was how things always went; the moment you had figured out a new routine on vacation, it was almost time to leave.  Still, you were intent on enjoying another day in the water and the sand.  As always, Namjoon and Yoongi positioned themselves under the umbrellas, spread out in long chairs so they could sleep or read and talk in low murmurs to each other about life and music and love and deep shit (“We’re all sharks, Yoongi.”  “What?  Namjoon, is the sun getting to you?” “No, no, listen.  Sharks can’t stop moving.  When they do, they die.  We’re sharks.” “Namjoon, I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to die if I stop moving. In fact, not moving is what I’m actively trying to do right now.  It’s called relaxing.  You should try it.”  “No, no, listen to me, man.  We’re sharks, because we can’t stop moving.  We’re constantly busy and distracting ourselves. Even if you lay here and take a nap, you can’t do it forever.” “I don’t know, I could try it.”  “No, you’ll get up, and I bet you’ll be full of ideas. You’ll want to get moving again. Shark, man.”  “Okay, shark-Joon.  Let me sleep now”).  

          Jimin, Jungkook, and Jin usually took to the water, but today Jin wanted to play in the sand with Hoseok, so you left Tae with them, building an elaborate city, while you joined your best friend and brother in the water.  The clear water was perhaps your favorite thing about the Philippines.  You didn’t even like to travel far into the deep, just wading up to your waist so you could experience that odd feeling of weightlessness and floating away while still staying grounded.  You turned occasional to wave at everyone still on the shore, but the waves crashing into you and the commotion of Jungkook and Jimin nearby was too loud to hear anything, even shouts in your direction.  Jungkook, as a true lifeguard, had a real control over his body in the water.  Jimin, who you swore insisted he knew how to swim but probably only doggy paddled, clung to him almost exclusively, except when Jungkook threw him off and into the water, causing him to burst forth like a mermaid apart from the less-than-attractive spitting up of water that he did every time.  Still, there was something about the way Jungkook looked at him, clearly never intending to hurt him and understanding when Jimin was just being dramatic to get attention.  They were fun to watch messing around with each other, but eventually you started to feel pruney, so you shouted at them that you were going in.  Jimin, perched on top of Jungkook’s back, waved at you in acknowledgment as you walked slowly back to shore.  You waved at Hoseok and Jin as you walked past them toward Yoongi, only reaching down to tap him on the shoulder when you realized something was off.

           “Hey, where’s Tae?” you said, wrapping a towel around you to dry off.

           “Thought he was with Jin and Hoseok?” Yoongi said, prying open one eye to look up at you.  Namjoon looked up from his book and looked around.  Hoseok and Jin were still building, or, knocking down, their sand castles, but Tae wasn’t anywhere near them.

           “Yoongi, where’s Tae?” you said again, your eyes frantic now as they scanned the beach for any sign of him.  He was wearing white, and he had a blue handkerchief courtesy of Hoseok that had been on his head the last time you had seen him, but maybe it was wrapped around his neck now.

           “I don’t know,” Yoongi said, frowning as he stood up.  “I thought you were watching him.”

          “You’re the one who always loses him,” you said, looking for the Life Guard, now.

          “Always?”  If you had been paying enough attention, you would have heard how out of breath Yoongi suddenly sounded.

          “That one time in the hardware store,” you said, starting to move through the sand clumsily.  You weren’t even sure which way to go first.

          “That time.  That one time, Y/N,” Yoongi almost spat, reaching for you hand, causing you to reel back around. “You’re the one who was supposed to be watching him.”

          “Why?” you said, glaring at him and yanking your arm out of his grasp. “Because I’m his nanny?”

          “No,” Yoongi said simply, “because you’re his mom.”

          “I’m not his mom, Yoongi,” you hissed, turning away again.  You could see Namjoon eyeing the two of you as he got to his feet.

          “I’ll go ask Hoseok and Jin,” he said slowly as he tried to move quickly, his long legs and piles of sand impeding him greatly.

          “I’ll check with the Life Guard,” you said, not waiting to hear what Yoongi was going to do.  

          The Life Guard had not seen him, and by the time you were done talking with him you felt sick.  The sun was too hot.  There were too many strangers on the beach.  Jimin and Jungkook were coming out of the water, running to Jin who met them halfway down the shore, gesturing wildly.  You had this sinking feeling that Tae had somehow sunk to the bottom of the sea, had snuck past you all and been swept away.  Your stomach lurched and tossed to-and-fro from the thought. The little boy wasn’t with your friend and brother, and you couldn’t see him on the beach.  You couldn’t see him.  You couldn’t see Yoongi anymore, either, and you had a thought to check in at the front desk, ask if anyone had seen him or see if he had wandered in there or have them call the police already.  You vaguely thought that you should put on some shorts or something as you stepped back into the hotel’s lobby, but you didn’t really care, your towel already shed somewhere on the sand.  You didn’t really care because Tae was sitting on the hotel desk, his feet swinging back and forth as he licked on an icecream bar.  You barely registered Yoongi standing in front of him, his hands on the counter next to him as he leaned in toward him.  Tae spotted you as you stumbled over, waving a hand as a trail of liquid sugar ran down his arm.  Yoongi’s head turned to see who he was waving at, and the way he turned back so easily to Tae when he saw it was you did nothing to quell your uneasiness.

          “Tae,” you said, breathing easily as you ran your hand down his arm. You looked him all over and noticed a Band-Aid on his knee, your eyes widening at the sight.  “What happened?”

          “Nothing, mom, I just fell and apparently there was a shell or a rock under the sand,” Tae said, you not smiling despite feeling a little humored about him clearly not understanding the definition of “nothing.”  You noticed Yoongi eyeing you out of the corner of his eye, and you patted Tae’s undamaged knee.

          “Who helped you, buddy?”

          “There was a Life Guard.”

          “Okay,” you said, taking a deep breath as you felt yourself calm down. “Did you tell Uncle Jin and Hoseok?”

          “No,” Tae said simply, licking his icecream.  “I already told dad everything, anyway.”

          “Okay,” you said, chancing a glance at Yoongi.  He looked like that day you had first seen him in the nail and screw aisle, a look mixed with fear and relief, anger and confusion glaring at you. He licked his lips but didn’t say anything until you straightened up and took Tae’s sticky hand in yours.  “Let’s go get cleaned up and take a nap, yeah?” Tae shook his head, and before you could suggest anything else, Yoongi picked Tae up.

          “I’ll do it.  Go let the guys know he’s okay,” Yoongi said, and you mumbled an “okay” before swallowing thickly, clutching your arm awkwardly across your chest as you watched them walk away.  You felt sunburned suddenly, your whole body flushed as you went back into the sun. The boys had already started to gather everything up, frowns on all of their faces, and they all looked up expectantly when they saw you.

          “Did you find him?” Jimin said, his voice wavering in panic.  You nodded, finally feeling tears gathering in your eyes.  You felt exhausted and welcomed the engulfing hug Jimin gave you, trying not to sink too far into the sand or his arms.  Grateful that no one else asked anything, probably because Jimin shook his head as he hugged you, you helped them all pack everything up, everyone’s hands fumbling now as they were fuller without Yoongi and Tae to help.  When you had finished dumping everything off you had rented, you all went back to your rooms, but you lingered in the elevator before Jimin tugged on your hand for you to follow them.  Without a change of clothes, you couldn’t shower, so you let Jimin pull you to the couch and turned on the TV, trying to drown out what you were feeling with sounds of re-runs and commercials for As-Seen-On-TV egg holders because nothing else could hold hardboiled eggs so effectively as this specific piece of plastic.  Jimin didn’t let you stay quiet for long, though, pulling you close and messing with your hair so much you had to push his hand away, the strands already knotted from the ocean.

          “You okay?”

          “I was kind of a bitch.”

          “You?” Jimin said, pulling away to stare in your face unconvinced. “What did you say?”

          “Something about Yoongi always losing Tae, and me not being his mom.”

          “Oh,” Jimin said gravely.  “Shit.”

          “Yeah.”

          “Well, we all say things we don’t mean when we’re stressed.”

          “Yeah?”

          “Sure, why, just the other day I told Jungkook I didn’t love him.”

          “Wait, what?  Why?”

          “Uh, just the other day,” Jimin said slowly, and you sat up and leaned back on the couch, sighing.  “Like, last night.  This morning.”

          “Oh,” you said.  “Never mind, I don’t want to know.  Does he know you didn’t mean it?”

          “Oh, yeah, he knows.  I made sure he knows,” Jimin laughed, petting your head again.

          “Well, I hope Yoongi knows.”

          “I’m sure he does,” Jimin reassured you.  You hoped he was right, but a part of you still felt uneasy for the rest of the day.  You were grateful when Jungkook gave you a shirt to lounge around in so you could rest with the three, enjoying the way they fought over what to watch.  You weren’t really up for dinner with everyone else, choosing to hide until Yoongi came looking for you or you finally needed to concede and go back to your own room for a shower and clean clothes. Jimin stayed with you as Jungkook and Namjoon went to dinner then, promising to bring you food back, and despite the circumstances you were glad to spend time with just your friend, as you rarely got to do so anymore.   Their room overlooked the ocean, and you moved to the patio to watch the sunset, both restless and hungry until Jungkook and Namjoon came traipsing back into the room, loud and a little drunk already.  Jimin looked annoyed immediately, but Jungkook was holding a bottle of something to placate him, and he hopped up happily.  You got up a little slower, but the smell of food was incentive enough to move.  However, the sight of Yoongi standing in the doorway made you stop temporarily and then approach Namjoon slowly who was holding out a container of some sort.

          “I left Tae with Hoseok and Jin,” Yoongi said from the door as you mumbled some thank you to Namjoon.  “If you want to come back to our room?”

          “Yeah?  Yeah,” you said, smiling at Jungkook as he checked in on you by squeezing your arm. “Yeah, thanks for letting me hang out, Jimin.”

          “Of course,” your friend said, waving you off as he reached for food from Namjoon and alcohol from Jungkook.  Nothing seemed wrong, except Tae wasn’t filling your room with noise and his tiny body running around, as Yoongi put a hand on the small of your back in the elevator and stayed close to you until he had to open the door.  The room, usually too dark with no overhead light, seemed forgiving as Yoongi flipped on a few of the lamps so you had enough light to sit on the floor at the coffee table and eat your dinner. Yoongi didn’t say anything as you ate, and you weren’t confident enough to look up from your food to see if he was watching you or messing around on his phone, and the silence started to become suffocating.  Finally, unable to take it anymore, you put down your fork and looked up at him.  He was sitting with his legs crossed, leaning forward on his knees a little, and his lips at least curled up a little when he saw you look up.

          “I’m sorry,” you said.  “I can’t believe I said that.  I didn’t really mean it.”

          “No?”

          “No, no.  Of course you don’t always lose him.”

          “And?  Do you really not think you’re his mom?”

          “I,” you said, playing with your food with your fork.  “I didn’t mean that, either.  I’m not his mom but I am.  I know that.  I know you know I don’t always know that.”

          “That’s a lot of knowing,” Yoongi said, smiling softly.

          “I just mean, I really didn’t mean that.  I hope you know that.  And I’m glad I at least didn’t say it in front of him.”

          “Why did you say it, then?” Yoongi said, leaning back in his chair. His legs were still crossed, and you wished they weren’t, some overwhelming desire to crawl into his lap coming over you suddenly.  You shrugged, feeling like a child in a purely immature, embarrassed way.

          “I was just scared.  I mean, what kind of mom would I be if I lost my only kid?”

          “I lost him before.  Like you said.  Does that make me a shit dad?”

          “No!” you said, whipping your head up at him pleadingly.  “Of course not.”

          “Then remember that for yourself.  It wasn’t on purpose, and everything turned out alright.  If it helps, I was scared shitless, too.  And I’m sorry for what I said, too.  I of course do not mean you were supposed to be watching him.  I should be watching him, too.  It’s not all on you.”

          “I know,” you said, smiling at him with more ease now.  He uncrossed his legs but still leaned forward on his knees, and something about his change in body language made you get up.

          “So, all forgiven?”  In no mood to tease, you nodded, and stuck your hand out to him, relieved when he smiled and leaned back, taking your hand to help you climb on top of his legs.  

          “All forgiven,” you said, cupping his cheeks and pressing a quick kiss to his lips.  Jungkook’s shirt barely covered you when you stood up, and as you straddled him, it rode up, exposing your sticky, darkening legs.  He hummed as he splayed his hands on your thighs, rubbing at your tanned skin, enough sand still on your body to feel a little rough under his fingertips.

          “Whose shirt is this?”

          “Jungkook’s,” you said, watching him frown slightly.

          “That’s weird.”

          “Don’t be all masculine about it, it’s just a shirt,” you said, swatting his hand once but not stopping when he played again with the hem.  He hummed suspiciously but didn’t say anything else.  Feeling some sort of uneasiness lingering, you put a hand on his, causing him to look up at you.

          “Are we okay?  Is Tae really okay?”

          “He is, I promise,” he whispered, putting his hands on your hips while you leaned forward to kiss his cheek.  “We had a long talk about not running off.  Believe it or not, it’s a talk we’ve had before.”

          “Oh?” you said, humming against his jaw.

          “Uh huh.  Got a whole speech memorized.”

          “But, considering he keeps running off, maybe it’s not the best speech?” you suggested, feeling him pinch your side.

          “Behave,” he grinned, smacking your thigh for good measure.  “He’s an adventurous,” Yoongi said, kissing behind your ear and making you fail in an attempt to kiss him back as you laughed, “imaginative, friendly kid.  He’s bound to run off a lot.  He just needs to know how to be safe.  So I made sure he knew,” he said, nudging your face a little to the side as he kissed your temple, “that he did well today in talking to a Life Guard.  But that he should have told one of us first.”

          “That sounds smart,” you said, collapsing a little against his shoulder.

          “I am a genius,” he quipped, shrugging slightly and probably rolling his eyes if you could see him.  His hands moved from your sides to behind you, his fingers pressing into your back enough to make you arch up and lift off of him.  “Okay, then there’s one more thing to address,” Yoongi said, his words making you still and swallow nervously.

           “That’s not ominous,” you said slowly, your eyes flickering across his face.  You watched him blink back at you and swallow as well before taking a deep breath.

          “Y/N.  I need to fire you.”

          “What?” you choked, your hands flying off of where you had placed them on his shoulders as if he had suddenly burned you.  His hand rubbed up and down your back once, but you shrugged away from him, shimming off of his lap.

          “You can’t seem to get past this nanny thing,” he said, his hand holding onto yours as you stood up, but you pulled that away from him, too, once you were on your own two feet.  “So I need to fire you.”

          “But.  But you said I’m good with Tae.  Better than any other nanny.”

          “You are.”

          “You said,” you tried to breathe, “I’m perfect for him.  That you see that more than I even do.”

          “I did.”

          “Then.  Why? Why are you firing me?”

          “Baby,” Yoongi said, suddenly so softly you retreated further from him, your back running into some chair that you threw a hand back to grab onto blindly. “I just want you to be his mom.” For an answer, you took a staggered breath and released it, blinking at him.  “Just let me take care of you.  You don’t need to work.  For me,” he clarified.  “You can work for your dad.  Not that you need my permission for that.  I just mean.  If you love me and you love Tae, don’t be his nanny anymore.  Just be his mom.”

          “Yoongi,” you said, your heart feeling like it had switched places with your stomach.

          “Everything will be the same.  Nothing will change.  But instead of a paycheck, just ask me for what you need.  You can have my card.  We can get a joint bank account.”

          “Yoongi,” you said again, swallowing thickly.  “That’s.  That’s serious.”

          “I-I know.  I am serious. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it.” He paused long enough for you to look away from where he was just sitting on the bed.  He did everything so calmly.  You had never been described as an “emotional” person, but what he was saying now made you shiver internally, uncontrollably.  Some part of you that you didn’t know existed wanted to beg for him not to fire you.  You liked the way things were going.  You didn’t want anything to change.  And even if he said nothing would, stripping away the label of “nanny” would only make your title of “mom” all the more real.  It would be the only thing defining you to Tae, and it didn’t even seem real half of the time.  You had told Yoongi you wanted to be Tae’s mom, and you meant it, but you were also afraid there was always going to be something about the word that made you feel a little repulsive.  Plus, if Yoongi didn’t need you as Tae’s nanny but only as Tae’s mom, it meant he only wanted you there because you were you.  And everything felt too real, like the sand still between your toes, the sunburn developing on your neck, like the ghosts of Yoongi’s kisses along your skin.

          “I don’t know, Yoongi,” you said.  “What you’re describing…It sounds a lot like marriage.”

          “So let’s get married,” Yoongi said.  As simple as that.  As if the word didn’t send some sort of shockwave through you, making you clench the chair you were steadying yourself on harder.

          “What?” you finally said.

          “Let’s get married.”  He said again, somehow even more serious.

          “I’m.  I’m sorry,” you gasped, turning and running.

Chapter Text

           So far in your life, you had only met three people who had learned when you needed to let silence, even if uncomfortable, envelope you.  Only three people had ever been able to figure out, whether instinctively or by observing you over time, when to sit with you in the silence, leave you alone completely, or say something to stop the quiet from becoming overwhelming. Your dad was thousands of miles away, and Yoongi…

           So you fled to Jimin’s room, a cascade of hot, confusing tears already running down your face by the time Jungkook opened the door, obviously thrown at seeing you back in their room so quickly and in an even worse state than when you had left.  He ushered you in quickly without a word, perhaps some instinctual understanding in his connection to you strengthening the more time he spent with you.  He would be the fourth person to understand you, surely, your similarities sometimes so great that you grew angry you had missed so many years of knowing him.  You tried to mumble some apology, some explanation for why you were bothering them again, but Jimin’s drowsiness dissipated the moment he saw your despair, unwrapping himself from Namjoon’s arms on the couch to come and worry over you.  

          Jungkook let him take you to the bathroom where he ran you a much needed bath, his sense that if he couldn’t fix whatever was wrong, he could at least address your basic needs first, and you were still sandy and sticky from the afternoon, the fear of losing Tae now mixing with a fear of losing Yoongi clinging to your skin. He left you, still crying, to sit in the water for as long as you wanted, but your thoughts eventually led to the only other bath you had had that year, with Yoongi on Valentine’s Day, and you sloshed your way out, wrapping up in a bathrobe left on the toilet seat before retreating back to Jimin.  The fact that he handed you some of your own clothes meant he had gone to Yoongi’s room, and you almost asked, but since he didn’t say anything, just kept his lips pressed together as he watched you carefully, you bit your tongue apart from thanking him.  

           The three of them were talking in whispers on the couch, surely of you and Yoongi and even Tae, when you came back out, dressed comfortably but feeling out of place, your suspicions of their topic of conversation all but confirmed when they stopped and looked up at you.  Jimin flew out of Jungkook’s lap immediately, shushing you even though you said nothing, and led you to their bed.  You started to protest, but your friend wouldn’t hear it, and you knew better than to argue with him.  Besides, you were too exhausted to resist much, and soon, despite the quiet whispers in the room next door, despite the low sound of the TV in the background, despite how disquiet your mind was, you fell asleep when Jimin started to ease his fingers through your hair.

           You knew things were beyond repair with your parents when your dad stopped talking to you.  Not that he had shared his marital problems with you, but your dad talked to you about anything and everything else.  So when, instead of whistling or talking about needing to change the oil in his truck or about how old Mr. McGuffin was going to need a new fence soon, your dad nailed and sawed and sanded beside you silently, you knew something was wrong.  And, at thirteen, you were unaware of how to navigate around such a drastic change.  You feared, more than anything, that you had angered or disappointed him in such a way that he never wanted to speak to you again.  You were afraid you had said something wrong, or would say something wrong, all the while hating the silence that grew and grew.  You had never known you had hated silence until those few tense, heartbreaking weeks.  

          And when your dad finally told you what was wrong, about how your mother was going to leave soon, you wanted to yell and scream and cry but found yourself only running to hide in your makeshift cockpit.  It wasn’t the best coping mechanism—stay silent even when stressed and then run when faced with a truth that made you more uncomfortable—as the therapist your dad insisted you see helped you understand, but it still seemed to be how you dealt with things. Above all else, it made you feel immature and small in an embarrassing way and guilty, as if everything was your fault.  You felt bad when you woke up in the morning, your brother almost falling off the bed beside you as he and Namjoon had somehow managed to squeeze into bed at some point in the night.  You felt guilty when you didn’t explain what had happened and told them all when they woke up that you were fine.  You felt foolish when they all exchanged glances and left for the day when you insisted you just wanted to be alone.  

          You felt pathetic when you stayed in bed and ignored when someone knocked on your door, once in the morning, and once in the afternoon, a muffled but low enough voice to be recognizable trying to seep through the door each time his fist hit the wood.  And you felt like shit when the day passed and you had done nothing but hide but no one, not even Jimin, chastised you.  The three of them looked concerned but said nothing in front of you, Jungkook and Namjoon whispering enough to make Jimin finally snap at them to stop, and you only felt worse for bothering them, but you couldn’t find it in yourself to get up.

           You had to get up the next day, as you all had to leave.  You had to pack and get your passport and your pho